When I heard that Alex wanted to be a Runner, I nearly lost it.

"Absolutely not," I said as soon as Nick finished his sentence. My arms crossed over my chest as if that would make the point more clear to him. Since I was favoring my good leg, it probably seemed to him that I was standing like that in a sassy manner.

Nick appeared surprised, like he hadn't expected that response. "Nadia, it wouldn't hurt to use more Runners, and he's directly offering to be one." He paused. "I thought if anyone would understand, it would be you."

I shifted my weight and raised my eyebrows. "That kid is the most arrogant boy I've ever come across. He doesn't need any more special treatment than the Greenies usually get. It'll only feed his ego." I waved a hand toward the Blood House. "Hook him up with the Slicers like we do with every Newbie."

"Boys like him just need a reminder that the Earth doesn't revolve around them," Nick tried to reason, his voice low and steady.

"Exactly!" I exclaimed in an exasperated tone. "This is how I'm reminding him. When he goes through his training cycle and gets to me last, maybe things will have changed by then."

Nick pursed his lips, something he often did when he was deep in thought. There was a beat of silence as he debated on my opinion and his own. Finally, he sighed and loosened his tense stance.

"Fine," he said, "but you need to give him a fair trial at running, you hear me?" His eyes drifted slowly down to my cast and he cringed. "I mean, Minho better give him a fair trial. The both of you."

Nick scratched his neck in embarrassment and walked away. I watched him go, the sunlight bleeding in from the open windows and painting tiger stripes onto him from the curtains. He moved down the hallway at his usual brisk pace, hands now shoved into the pockets of his jeans. His brown work boots pounded on the wood floor with how heavy they were. I watched as he turned the corner and retreated down the steps.

With a heavy sigh, I went into my room and picked up a small notebook from my dresser, along with a pencil from the Runner Drawer. I had never used the pages in the notebook until now. I had also never been into drawing, but my injury inspired hobbies in me that I didn't have an interest in before. Part of it was also Minho, who wouldn't stop pestering me about trying new things.

The notebook went into my back pocket, along with the pencil. I shrugged on my red jacket and adjusted my grip on my crutches. I had become even more of an expert on using them, and it was now a lot easier to move through the long blades of uncut grass in the Glade.

A few minutes later, I was back downstairs and quickly crutching toward the Map Room. It was a small building in front of the Slammer, just diagonal from the Homestead. The Map Room consisted of a circular building made of stone, while everything else inside was wood. That and the Homestead had been the only buildings that were already there when we arrived in the Glade; we just chose to add onto the home.

I approached the large, metal door and took out my key ring. Quickly sifting through them, I found the appropriate key and stuck it in the lock. The door unlocked with a click. Now my only problem was that there was no way I could actually open it by myself. It was a struggle even when I could use both legs- I couldn't imagine what it would be like now.

What would I do? Newt was out in the Maze and I had no clue where Minho was. The Asian boy had kept more to himself lately, maybe because it was part of his plan to make me stronger. I wasn't sure on that, but I had noticed I was becoming increasingly independent. I was no longer asking people to hold my crutches or open doors for me- except this time.

I still hated asking for help. That was probably the reason why I stepped back and leaned my crutches against the wall of the Map Room, balancing on one foot. I slowly eased the other down onto the ground until the cast was brushing the grass. I wished the feeling wasn't starting to come back to it and that it could still be numb. Maybe then I wouldn't be feeling any pain as I rested almost my full weight on it.

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