She lay in bed with the book on her chest, clutching it tight as she stared at the ceiling and repeated the old mantra to herself. I am Eve, I am Eve, I am Eve. She was Eve. She'd been Eve for more than a year now. That had been the bargain: she would change her name, forget who and what she had been created as, and in return, she would live.
She hadn't regretted her half of the bargain; she'd been eager to be Eve, to be her own person, to live her own life.
Rowan had been the first to ask, during the long cold hydrofoil trip back from San Clemente to the mainland: "Who are you now?"
"I am Eve," she'd said, and the words came out of her mouth a little shakier than they sounded in her head, but Rowan had accepted them anyway.
And then, ever practical, he'd said, "What about your middle name? You can have a proper one now."
She'd had to think about that, casting about for another name--Michaela? Sarah?--and then she'd looked at Rowan, standing there watching her, waiting curiously for her answer; Rowan who'd given up his chance at a scholarship for her, Rowan who had wanted her to be with someone who cared about her, who had brought her the music box. "Juliet," she'd said with a smile. "Eve Juliet Hart."
Rowan had smiled back, and that had been that; he'd stood steady beside her while she told her parents, and when they got home her mother had done something on INAFT, and she was Eve Juliet Hart, for good and all, just as if she'd always been.
"I am Eve," she whispered out loud, and her voice sounded lonely and small in the stillness of her room. Her fingers tightened on the book. I am Eve, I am Eve, I am-- That had been the deal, her life for her name and her silence, such a simple thing--
She couldn't keep still another moment. She got up and dressed quickly, grabbing her carryall from the closet and dumping things into it. She wouldn't run away--there wasn't much point to running away, not now--but she had to get out, just tonight, just for now, just to think, just--
She wouldn't think about it now, not here. She grabbed the book from her nightstand and dropped it into her bag, and then the music box. She hesitated, cupping it in her hand; it was fragile, a foolish thing to carry around with her. She knelt in front of her dresser and pulled out the lowest drawer, reaching to the bottom for the old tattered sweater there. She'd rescued it from a bag destined for the complex reclamation and recycling drive--it was cotton, and hiding it away unworn was like hoarding food, as the posters advertising every reclamation and recycling drive admonished her--but she wouldn't part with it. It was the sweater Rowan had been wearing when he came to San Clemente looking for her; he'd outgrown it a few months later and tossed it in the bag as though it meant nothing, but she couldn't part with it.
She wrapped the music box up in it now and stuffed it into her bag, opened her desk drawer to look for a flashlight and found the little stack of snapshots she'd hidden there. She took the snapshots and forgot all about the flashlight, rushing out of her room.
In the hallway she hesitated; her parents' door was firmly closed, but Rowan's was ajar, and Smug was just slipping out. If the cat made a sound, Rowan might hear, and she didn't want to bother Rowan, not tonight. Not again.
She turned her back and walked toward the front door, past INAFT--she felt a twinge, not consulting the computer before she went out, but she wouldn't, she couldn't, not now--and she'd nearly made it when Rowan said softly, "Evey."
Evey, two syllables, and she could hear the inflection of her old name behind it. Rowan was the only one who ever said it that way; the only one who ever seemed to remember that she'd had another name, though even he never admitted it out loud. The corner of the book in her bag struck her back as she turned. Rowan was still dressed for the day, slouching in the doorway of his bedroom with his hands in his pockets; of course he was still awake. Tomorrow was the big day.
She couldn't say a word.
"Going out?" Rowan asked.
He glanced at her bag, and smiled a little. "Picnic?"
She couldn't help smiling back, despite everything. Rowan was smiling at her. She nodded again.
"Do you remember the way?"
She shrugged. "I think so," she managed, barely more than a whisper. Her heart started to beat faster, her smile widening as she remembered the spat they'd gotten into once, over just this, and still she couldn't think how to ask...
"Mind some company?" Rowan said, already closing his door behind him as she shook her head.
They took the people mover to the electrobus, which was nearly empty so late at night at the end of the summer. They stood and sat close together, even without a crush of people around them, even though the night was mild; she wondered if Rowan was remembering that trip on the hydrofoil, huddling close against the chill and the spray and the lingering unspeakable fear of being separated again.
I am Eve, she thought, I am Eve Juliet Hart. Rowan had been the first to know her name, and for her thirteenth birthday Rowan had given her the book in her carryall: a copy of Romeo & Juliet. A play, not a movie, and older than she'd thought. The inside cover had shown signs of being erased, maybe once, maybe twice, as though Rowan had changed his mind over how to address it. When she opened it up it said, To Juliet, from Rowan. Just that.
She'd read the play once, and then immediately turned back to the beginning and read it again. Juliet in the play had been thirteen, too--nearly fourteen, but not quite, never quite, dying days short. Dying with her Romeo. She'd thought of herself and Rowan, huddling in the dark in that warehouse on San Clemente, making their escape--she'd reassured herself that they'd come nowhere near to dying, and the little thrill of excitement she felt, reading the play again and again long after she knew it all by heart, was something almost entirely unlike fear.
She never asked Rowan if he'd read the play. She could scarcely read it in his presence without blushing, thinking things she shouldn't; but she couldn't help thinking of Rowan and Romeo all tangled up together--midnight visits to maidenly bowers and all. If only they'd made her change all of her name when they let her go--if only she and Rowan weren't both Hart, there'd be nothing to blush at. A Rowan by any other name...
"Here it is," Rowan said, and Eve blushed all over again at her own inattention, and what she'd been thinking. Rowan glanced at her but didn't seem to notice anything wrong, just smiling down at her and steering her by the elbow as they exited the bus.
She settled her carryall on her shoulders as they headed along the cliff toward the path, walking close beside Rowan through the grass. The lights of the electrobus stop had faded behind them, and they were navigating by moonlight, when Rowan said, "If you don't want me to leave..."
She bit her lip. "It's not that," she said. "I mean, I--" Don't leave, she thought, and parting is such sweet sorrow. Tomorrow he'd be gone, thousands of miles away, and tonight... "That's not why--"
There were three sheets of paper tucked into the book, all carefully folded over, all hidden; precious as the book was to her, had always been to her, it was those pages she couldn't let go of now. Print-outs from the INAFT at the library, because she knew better than to use the machine at home, and there was no one she dared to ask. She was Eve. She wasn't supposed to ask questions, that wasn't a part of the bargain.
Rowan didn't ask her what she was talking about, just walked in silence beside her until she said, "They're all dead."
Rowan stopped walking, but all he said was, "Ah," and Anna felt suddenly furious.
"Ah? Ah? They're all dead, Rowan, all the Anna Zimmermans! Jelliff--San Clemente--they killed all of them! I was right! They all died on February 27, and if you hadn't come--"
"I know," Rowan said, very quietly, and Anna was caught short, her heart racing. She'd never said it to anyone else--she didn't see how she could ever say it to anyone else--and Rowan was looking down at her steadily, his eyes unreadable in the stark uncertain light. If Rowan had not come after her that night, if he had not found her on San Clemente and snuck her out of her room, if he had not been clever and brave and willing to give up everything to save her, she would be dead now, just like all the other Annas. "I know," he repeated. "I tried to look up the Smithson girl a few days after we got home. I thought you might like to know, later, what she'd changed her name to. But she was still Anna Zimmerman, and she was dead. After that I looked for girls who'd died, and I found more than a dozen."
Anna stared. He'd known before she had. "You didn't tell me," she said quietly, feeling numb, feeling too much to know what to feel at all. It had been easier when she never felt much of anything. "You knew and you didn't--"
Rowan looked away, shifting uncomfortably on his feet. "I thought you were safer if you didn't know. Happier," he muttered, and the last word he said with his head craned around toward the sea, the sound almost lost in the waves. He looked at her again. "Anyway, I kept an eye on you. It never seemed like you were in danger."
She thought of all those times Rowan had seemed to be watching her, when she had imagined he might be looking, the way she looked at him. He'd been keeping an eye on her. He'd been keeping an eye on her tonight; he only wanted to be sure she wasn't snatched off the electrobus, not... anything else. "Oh," she said, looking out toward the sea herself. "Of course."
Rowan's hand touched her shoulder, but she shrugged it away. "I'm sorry," he said, and he sounded it. "I should have, I just--you thought it was all over, you were getting on with things. I thought maybe it was all over. You were happy."
She nodded quickly, and it wasn't tears stinging her eyes, just the salt wind off the water. "I--" she whispered, and she'd barely even dared to think the words, not since she'd become Eve. "I'm a clone," she gasped. "Rowan, I'm the only one. There's no one else, there's no proof, not even--" she scrabbled at her carryall. The pictures were inside, snapshots of her. One showed her as a baby, blond and round-cheeked as she'd always been the first twelve years of her life. On the back, in her mother's handwriting, was written Eve, six months.
Rowan's hand caught hers, stopping her. "I know," he said. "I know who you are. Who you were. I know."
She looked up at him, her throat almost too tight to speak, because that was the crux of it. She'd only wanted to know where the others were because Rowan wouldn't be around to know anymore. It wouldn't be real anymore, unless she could find the other Annas. Her sisters. "You're leaving."
Rowan smiled, squeezed her hand and let go. "I'll know even if I'm in New York," he said quietly, and he didn't look away even after he'd dropped her hand, his gaze holding hers steadily. She looked back--he knows, she thought a little dizzily. He knows me. "I'll always know, wherever I am," he said quietly, and finally looked away, taking another long- legged stride through the grass.
The rocks were worse in the dark--they stumbled and clung to one another, skidding and sliding-- but at last they were safely down on the sand, between the cliff face and the water. They sat together, side by side on the sand. She shivered, and Rowan put his arm around her without speaking, tucking her close to himself. Closer than they'd been on the electrobus; closer than they'd been on the hydrofoil. She could feel the heat of Rowan's body. She could feel him breathing.
"I remember the first time we came here," Rowan said softly. "I remember how brave you were."
I was with you, she thought, but she wouldn't be, after this. Not for a while, anyway; there were art schools in New York as well as conservatories; she was nearly old enough to try for her own scholarships. "I was Eve then," she said instead. This was where she'd found her name, after all. One of her names.
"Oh?" he said, and his arm tightened a little. "Who are you now?"
She let her head rest on his shoulder and watched the waves and wondered. Eve? The name, the mantra, it felt like a lie, like a desperate defense. If only she was Eve, no one would harm her. But was she Anna? She had been, and she couldn't forget that, even if she was the only one left. Rowan remembered, and so would she. But here, now, this one last night with Rowan, with his arm around her, warmed by his warmth--
Her lips curled a little, more with nerves than happiness, and then she spoke. "I'm Juliet."