The whole room went into silent shock. Link, the boy who barely spoke more than a few words at a time, whom we knew almost nothing about, had a spy? It was strange to hear such words coming out of his mouth.
"Well, who is it?" Gally demanded impatiently, voicing all of our thoughts. All of the Keepers, including me, were leaning slightly forward in their chairs in anticipation.
Link's owl-like eyes, filled with nervousness, glanced from face to face. He swallowed and tapped his foot. A red color was slowly flushing up his neck and face. "It's uh - it's Luke."
My stomach dropped; I felt like falling out of my chair with how surprised I was. No wonder he had seemed so out of place in Alex's group- he had been put there on purpose.
"Yeah, I don't associate with cripples like you."
His words were fresh in my mind and stabbed at my heart as if he had just said them to me. He had spat it with so much venom, so much contempt, that I was almost convinced he had meant it. Either he was a very convincing actor or had used his position as a way to say what had always been on his mind without punishment.
My head was spinning. I couldn't help but feel like my body was reacting a bit too overdramatically, but the sickness wouldn't stop rising in my throat. I tried to force it down and stay in my seat.
"Nadia?" Minho whispered, placing a hand on my knee gently. His voice was quiet compared to the chaos in the room. Everything else was fuzzy except for his face, forehead wrinkled in concern as his brown eyes looked into mine. "Are you okay?"
"No," I answered honestly. There was no point in lying; it was obvious I wasn't fine and he'd be able to see through me anyways. My hands rubbed my eyes tiredly. "It's just- Luke said something offensive to me and I called him out for it. I just didn't think..."
"Do you feel guilty?" he asked me in that quiet tone that I never thought he would use. He was always joking with me, one way or another, but this time he had nothing but sincerity in his eyes.
I paused, considering this. Was it guilt that was chewing me up and eating me whole? No. No, it wasn't that. It was something much worse than guilt. It was the realization that Minho was right about people not hesitating to be mean to me. Poor, naïve Nadia had never noticed it before and probably wouldn't have done anything about the Luke incident. I still had a lot to learn.
"No." I shook my head. "Not at all."
Minho patted my knee with a soft grin. "Good."
I zoned back into the conversation that was going on among the rest of the Keepers. Gally was yelling, of course, Alby was arguing with him, Clark was hitting himself repeatedly in the head with his palm, and Link was curled into a ball on his chair, arms around his head as he buried it in his knees. Nick stood up. He towered above us in his full height, taller than most of the boys in the Glade. His bare chest was gleaming with sweat and his blond hair stuck to his forehead as well. His hard jaw was set as his blue eyes flickered around the chaotic room.
"Enough!" he shouted in an authoritative voice that boomed over everyone else's. The room became quiet instantly. Gally froze in place, half bent over his chair in an awkward squat. Clark ceased to torment his face, Alby zipped his lips, and Link looked above his arms, frightened eyes widened even more than they usually were.
"This shank here may as well have just given us everything we need to know about this situation," Nick continued, pointing to Link. "If Luke succeeded and got some information, then we actually have some evidence instead of a random, unreliable eyewitness testimony." He sent a pointed look to Gally, who rolled his eyes. "Someone get this kid in here."