Chapter 5

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Almost as if everything was in slow motion, the two hours went by at a crawl. Joan had left us, leaving the table and out the door at lightning speed, all while Zack continued to stare at the space between us.

For the first time since we had all known him, he looked unsure of what to do. His eyes danced from one edge of the table to the other before he finally shut his eyes and let out a sigh.

"Come, I need to get you three ready."

Zack stood up, not bothering to push his chair in, and then gestured for us to follow him to the other door, the one we hadn't been through yet. I glanced down at my shaking hands once more before pressing them down on the edge of the table and pushing myself up into a standing position, ready to follow Zack and hopefully get better prepared for what was to come. At my movement, I could see Matteo and Willow immediately snap their heads into my direction.

I had expected one of them to speak up at me, but Matteo dropped his head in his hands and spoke, his voice muffled, but sounding defeated. "And what if we don't do as you say?"

"You guys are no longer at Ace's", Zack's expression turned emotionless once more, "but if you don't do as my mother ordered, she will kill you. She won't kill you. Though, she'll get someone else to do it for her."

"This place isn't any better than Ace's," Matteo said, lifting his head up and glaring at Zack.

Ace's words suddenly came back to me. 'Sometimes death is better'.

He was right.

Being killed at his place with a shot to the head would be way better and quicker than being torn apart, piece by piece, limb by limb, until my heart gave out.

Zack ran a hand through his hair and let out a breath. "I never said it was." He then took a few steps closer to the door and turned back to us, waiting.

I looked down, my eyes connecting with Willow's. She still looked astonished, but there was also determination in them, the same determination that I felt.

We were going to go there and come back with whatever information that they wanted, completely safe and sound.

"Come on," Zack said when he saw we were making no move toward the door with him. "You guys will have a better chance of surviving out there than you are here."

We all shared a look before finally following Zack out of the room. I walked behind Zack, Matteo and Willow behind me, as we made our way down the small hallway until coming to another door to which Zack held open for us to enter.

We all walked through to see two other people already in there. They looked to be in their early twenties and stood in the middle of the room looking relaxed. As soon as we entered, one of the boys with almond-shaped eyes turned his attention on us and smirked widely.

The other boy with skin a similar shade to Willow's slapped his partner's arm before turning to us with a welcoming smile that made a small portion of my worries melt away.

"You three must be Zoe, Willow, and Matteo," he said to each of us before gesturing to himself, "My name's Ezekiel," he pointed to the boy beside him, "and this is Xian."

Xian, who rubbed the spot on his arm where Ezekiel had hit him, dropped his hand and smiled at us with a nod. Once I had finally studied the two of them enough, I took in the room's surroundings.

It was a windowless grey room, as is most of the compound, with a door on the opposite side and a long bench on the right of us. On the bench lay three dark colored outfits, ones similar to what the two boys in front of us wore.

Zack stepped around us and nodded toward the two boys. "Alright, now that the introductions are over," he turned back to us, "you three need to get... physically prepared. I want you all to get changed in these," with a wave of his hand he gestured to the three outfits, "Each of them were created to fit your weapon of expertise. So Zoe, you're on the right, Matteo in the middle, and Willow, your's is the one on the left."

We all nodded and looked at our corresponding pieces of fabric. I could see pockets of all different sizes on mine along with straps and what looked like a strange belt. My eyes then traveled to the shoes underneath the bench and I could see that mine were about calf high with the same amount of hidden places where I could store knives of all different sizes.

"Quickly get changed and then meet the three of us in the next room," Zack's emotionless eyes landed on Matteo, "and don't bother trying to open the door you had just entered. It's locked. You have ten minutes, so be quick."

Zack then turned away and gestured to the door for the two boys to go with him. Ezekiel and Xian both gave us one more smile before doing as Zack said and leaving the room. As soon as the door had closed behind them, I looked over to the right of me and at Willow and Matteo.

"We should probably do as they say," I said, taking a few steps forward but keeping my eyes on them. "We only have ten minutes."

I watched them both nod their heads with a frown before I turned toward my outfit to get changed into. I kept my eyes away from them as I stripped out of my shirt, tossed it off to the side, and pulled the black tighter piece of fabric over my head and chest. It was long sleeved and I noticed a small pocket just below both of my shoulders where a small knife could be placed.

I then took my pants off and pulled on the new pair of slacks. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Matteo and Willow changing as well, both of them staring at each of their pockets and straps in awe.

Once the fairly tight pants were on, I picked up the strange looking belt and wrapped it around my waist. I noticed there were two loops attached to a piece of the belt and I stared down at it with my brows furrowed.

"Willow," I looked up at her, "what is this... oh."

I could see she had a similar one, but with something different at the side of her hips. At the mention of her name she looked up and immediately broke out in a smile as she saw how confused I looked. She then dropped the boot she was about to put on and walked over to me to help.

I let her help me tighten the two loops around my thighs before muttering a thank you and then bending down to get my boots. She returned back to her spot and slipped her feet into her more comfortable looking boots.

I bit down on my lip as I stared at my own and then sat down on the edge of the bench as I put them on. They were a whole lot larger than I had originally thought and they had a thicker platform to them than Willow and Matteo's combined. I then saw the bit of empty space near the heels of the boots and understood the purpose of the huge wedge.

Once my boots were tied up and snug to my legs, I stood up and looked toward Willow and Matteo who were also done getting all of their new clothes on. Their clothes from before were thrown all across the floor, as was my own.

"Are you two ready?" I asked both of them.

I watched them nod their heads before I walked with them out of the room. 

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