"What?" David said.
"Your taking the pills won't prove anything, Tally," Maddy said. "You don't have the lesions."
"But I will have them. I'll go back to the city and get caught, and Dr. Cable will give me the operation. In a few weeks, you come and get me. Give me the cure. You've got your subject."
The three of them stood there in silence. The words had poured out of Tally of their own accord. She could hardly believe she'd uttered them.
"Tally..." David shook his head. "That's crazy."
"It's not crazy. You need a willing subject. Someone who agreesbefore they become pretty that they want to be cured, experimental or not. It's the only way."
"You can't give yourself up!" David cried.
Tally turned toward Maddy. "You said you're ninety-nine percent sure these pills will work, right?"
"Yes. But the one percent could leave you a vegetable, Tally."
"One percent? Compared to breaking into Special Circumstances, that's a breeze."
"Tally, stop it." David took her shoulders. "It's too dangerous."
"Dangerous? David, you can get across into New Pretty Town no problem. City uglies do it all the time.
Just grab me out of my mansion and stick me on a board. I'll come with you, just like Shay did. Then you cure me."
"What if the Specials decide to change your memory? Like they did my father's?"
"They won't," Maddy said.
David stared at his mother in surprise.
"They didn't bother with Shay. She remembers the Smoke just fine. Az and I were the only ones they were worried about. Because we'd been focused on the brain lesions for half our lives, they figured we'd never shut up about them, even as pretties."
"Mom!" David cried. "Tally's not going anywhere."
"And besides," Maddy continued, "Dr. Cable wouldn't do anything to hurt Tally."
"Stop talking like this is going to happen!"
Tally looked into Maddy's eyes. The woman nodded. She knew.
"David," Tally said. "I have to do this."
"Because of Shay. It's the only way that Maddy will cure her. Right?"
"You don't have to save Shay," David said slowly and evenly. "You've done enough for her. You followed her to the Smoke, rescued her from Special Circumstances!"
"Yeah, I've done a lot for her." Tally took a breath. "I'm the reason she's like this, pretty and brainless."
David shook his head. "What are you talking about?"
She turned to him, taking his hand. "David, I didn't come to the Smoke just to make sure Shay was okay. I came to bring her back to the city." She sighed. "I came to betray her."
Tally had imagined telling her secret to David so many times, rehearsing this speech to herself almost every night, that she could hardly believe this wasn't just another nightmare in which the truth was forced from her. But as the reality of the moment sank in, she found the words spilling out in a torrent.
"I was a spy for Dr. Cable. That's how I knew where Special Circumstances was. That's why the Specials came to the Smoke. I brought a tracker with me,"
"You're not making any sense," David said. "You fought when they came. You escaped. You helped rescue my mother..."
"I'd changed my mind. And I never meant to activate the tracker, honestly. I wanted to live in the Smoke. But the night before the invasion, after I found out about the lesions..." She closed her eyes.
"After we kissed, I accidentally set it off."
"My locket. I didn't mean to. I wanted to destroy it. But I'm the one who brought the Specials to the Smoke, David. I'm the reason why Shay is pretty. It's my fault your father's dead."
"You're making this up! I'm not going to let you - "
"David," Maddy said sharply, silencing her son, "she's not lying."
Tally opened her eyes. Maddy was looking at her sadly.
"Dr. Cable told me everything about how she manipulated you, Tally. I didn't believe her at first, but the night you rescued us, she'd just brought Shay down to confirm it."
Tally nodded. "Shay knew I was a traitor, at the end."
"She still knows," Maddy said. "But it doesn't matter to her anymore. That's why Tally has to do this."
"You're both crazy!" David shouted. "Look, Mom, just get off your high horse and give Shay the pills."
He reached out his hand. "I'll do it for you."
"David, I won't let you turn yourself into a monster. And Tally's made her choice."
David looked at them both, unable to believe any of it. Finally, he found words. "You were a spy?"
"Yes. At first."
He shook his head.
"Son." Maddy stepped forward, trying to hold him.
"No!" He turned and ran, tearing the Mylar shade down and leaving the others inside speechless; even Shay was shocked into silence.
Before Tally could follow, Maddy took her arm in a firm grip. "You should go to the city now."
"Tonight? But - "
"Otherwise, you'll talk yourself out of it. Or David will."
Tally pulled away. "I have to say good-bye to him."
"You have to go."
Tally stared at Maddy and slowly realized the truth. Although the woman's gaze held more sadness than anger, there was something cold in her eyes. David might not blame her for Az's death, but Maddy did.
"Thank you," Tally said softly, forcing herself to hold Maddy's gaze.
"For not telling him. For letting me do it myself."
Maddy shook her head, managing a smile. "David needed you these last two weeks."
Tally swallowed and stepped away, looking at the city. "He still needs me."
"Tally - "
"I'll go tonight, all right? But I know that David will be the one who brings me back."