Chapter Twenty-Three

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Her hand ached. A lot. But it was nothing compared to the ache in her chest that wouldn't go away no matter how many times she tried to shake the image of Hector and Yalina swapping spit out of her mind.

Knowing it was useless to go back and demand answers- because what right did she have to ask them anyway- she cradled her hand against her chest and traced her steps towards the infirmary.

When she arrived, a woman was sitting behind a circular desk and stood to greet her. "Hello there. What are you here for?"

"I got hurt during drill. I just need some ice."

The nurse turned Rachel's hand over, prodding gently with her fingers. It still made her flinch.

"Looks like you broke something. You're going to need more than just ice. Go into room three and I'll have a doctor check you out."

Rachel plunked down onto a cot inside room three. Upbeat music streamed from unseen speakers in tune to the throbbing in her hand. She worked her legs restlessly, trying not to think too much but it was impossible not to the think when the silence practically screamed her thoughts right back atvher.

How did those two even know each other? It seemed like they'd gotten really cozy really fast so maybe she was someone from his past. Someone who apparently had loved him and thought he was dead.

But why should it bother her, anyway? It wasn't like Hector and her had anything going on. They were just friends. He had made that very clear the other night when he'd turned away from her kiss.

A doctor strolled into the room and Rachel pushed back her problematic feelings to focus on her hand. After all, she could live without having feelings for someone but she couldn't live without a functioning hand- not if she wanted to rescue the compound kids.

"Hello, Rachel. I'm doctor Everest and I heard you injured your hand during drill. Do you mind if I take a look?"

"Knock yourself out." Doctor Everest laughed as he inspected her hand and it made the dimples on his tanned skin more pronounced.

"Looks like you were the one trying to knock someone out. Didn't anyone teach you how to throw a punch before letting you loose during drill?"

She felt a little offended at that and pulled her hand away. "Well, it's not exactly polite to go around punching people."

"Yes, you are right about that. Here, hold your hand out. I've gotta get an x-ray of it." Rachel did as she was told, though a bit grudgingly. The doctor held out a small object, similar in size and shape to a book. The screen lit up green and he grazed the object along the length of her hand without actually touching it.

A few moments later, an image of her bones popped onto the screen. Doctor Everest whistled.

"You've got a small break on your middle knuckle. It's not serious but it's going to hurt like hell for a while. We'll get you taken care of but in the meantime I'm giving you a note to excuse you from drill for a week or two while this heals."

"What? No, you can't do that! As it is, they already think I'm not strong enough to be a soldier. If you take me out for even a day it'll just make me look weak."

Dr. Everest eyed her with curiosity. "I've had many strange request in my years serving here but never one like yours before. Tell me, why do you want to go to the city so badly? Most people are terrified."

"They killed my brother and they took all of the compound children. I can't live with myself knowing they are in poacher hands. Don't you have someone you would risk your life for?"

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