Chapter Twenty-Two

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I was through the door in seconds, following close behind the messenger. I heard the footsteps of Callie, Trevor, and Jadyn right behind me.

The boy ran past the snack bar counter and stopped abruptly on the other side.

Mace was lying on the ground, eyes fluttering rapidly and body spasming. My mouth fell open in surprise as Jadyn rushed past me and fell on her knees by Mace's side, quickly pressing two fingers against his neck to check for a pulse.

"He needs medical attention!" she shouted, looking back at me in worry. She looked like she was seconds away from tears. Mace jerked again, almost kicking Jadyn.

"We know!" the boy responded, looking just as worried as Jadyn. "But Kyan isn't here yet. He'll be here in five minutes!"

I bent down to join Jadyn at Mace's side, staring down at his jerking body. My eyes roamed over his surroundings, trying to understand what was going on. There was a gray bag lying on the ground next to him, where he must have dropped it.

Suddenly, somebody meekly called out, "It started happening the second he picked up the bag..."

My mind connected the dots in an instant, putting together everything I already knew. Poison. Mace had been poisoned through contact with the bag. The only poison that could've been used was what we'd found at the gang encampment. We'd intentionally left anything too dangerous behind rather than packing it. Had we not checked the bags thoroughly enough? I shook my head, trying to focus again on the problem. The more immediate issue of Mace.

Every second felt like a year and I knew I couldn't just sit there while he could die any second. There had to be something...

And there was. The poison was in his bloodstream. All we had to do was get the poisoned blood out, and replace it with clean blood. The idea hit me, and seemed so simple.

I jerked my head in Jadyn's direction. "Do you know what Mace's blood type is?"

"What?" She didn't seem to get where I was going with this.

"His blood type. We have to get whatever it is out of his system...but..." I tried to explain it quickly without just freaking out and screaming nonsense.

Her eyes lit up. "But we can't have him dying of blood loss either."

I nodded.

Jadyn paused, as if she were trying to remember. "Type A negative."

I was type A negative.

I rolled up my shirt sleeve. There was a knife strapped to Jadyn's thigh. I pointed to the knife. "Can I borrow that?"

She nodded and handed me the knife. I didn't even have to ask her to get me a syringe. By the time I had the knife next to Mace's arm, she was already running for a closet.

I took a deep breath, before pressing down with the tip of it. I was scared to death of harming him more than necessary. Immediately, a little bubble of blood sprouted from the incision and I winced. Everyone around me seemed to be holding their breath as Jadyn came back with the first aid kit.

She dropped it on the ground with a clang and ripped it open. The syringe was at the top of the kit. I didn't even take a minute to wonder if I should clean the needle before pushing it into my arm and pulling the lever.

Slowly, the little container filled with dark viscous liquid. My entire body shivered with adrenaline. Once it was full, I pulled it out and handed it to Jadyn. I didn't need to tell her what to do.

My heart was beating rapidly, but I managed to keep my voice relaxed as I turned to Jadyn and muttered jokingly, "He is A negative, right?"

She nodded, as a concerned smile returned to her face. She pressed the syringe into Mace's vein and forced the blood into his bloodstream. Once the small container was empty, Jadyn handed it back to me. The process continued, back and forth, until Mace's body stopped jerking, and I felt light headed.

Despite my nauseous state, we had done it. Now whatever happened was completely out of our control, but judging by Mace's appearance, it didn't seem like it would be bad. He was still unconscious, but the pale color of his skin was disappearing.

At that second, to the game center slammed open and January sprinted in, eyes wide with worry. Kyan rushed in right behind her, but not before January was already on the floor next to Mace. She cupped his head in her hands, checked his pulse, and felt his forehead like an overly concerned mother. "Holy crap...," she whispered in relief.

Kyan knelt and reached for the already opened first aid kit. He seemed confused until he looked up and saw the bloody syringe still clenched tightly in my hand. He grabbed my arm and looked at the still bleeding hole in it, before pulling out disinfectant wipes and tape. As he started to wipe off the blood, he muttered, "You're an idiot..." After he had finished cleaning it he looked up and made eye contact with me. "But thank you." He grabbed my arm and filled up the syringe one last time before inserting it into Mace.

I watched as Kyan worked on Mace, checking his vital signs and making sure that the poisonous blood was out of his veins. My mind was so focused on it that I didn't even realize when Asten bent down next to me. "Is he okay?" he asked Jadyn, who was still a foot away.

Jadyn seemed out of it and just nodded.

Kyan sat up, looking worn out. He sighed wiped off the tip of the syringe on a spare piece of gauze, finishing off the work that Jadyn and I had done.

He grabbed more gauze and began cleaning up Mace's cuts with it. "Can somebody please help Calestia, too?" he asked, as he continued to work, pressing a taping a patch down over the wounds.

I began to grab gauze and do it myself, but Asten grabbed my forearm before I could. "Bad idea," he said, before taking the gauze from my shaking fingers. I was too light headed to even complain.

Once Asten finished taping the gauze down, I looked at Mace. He was the center of everyone's attention. He seemed like he'd be all right. But as I stared at him, and the gray bag next to him, I realized something I hadn't realized before.

"Mace was poisoned from grabbing the bag.....," I whispered, cutting into the hush of the room. My eyes wandered over its contents, and froze on a single item that sent my blood rushing through my veins once more. The cut on my elbow began to throb.

Kyan followed my gaze to the bag. "Nobody touch it....," he said calmly, even though it should've been obvious.

"So?" Jadyn interjected. "I mean it was probably just an accident...we must have missed one of the bags of poison somehow."

"Except...the handle was coated in can't just be a coincidence..." I allowed my suggestion to trail off as an even more complete silence followed. I could feel the tension in the room growing as a couple people glanced at the others standing next to them.

"You're saying you think someone in this room attempted to poison Mace?" Asten asked, staring at me intently. He didn't shut my idea down. He must've realized the possibility, too.

January looked intrigued by this. She stood up anxiously and crossed her arms. "But why would anyone do that? That makes no sense. What has Mace ever done to harm anyone here?" she asked angrily. It was hard to tell if she was mad at the attempt on Mace's life or at me for the suggestion.

She had a valid point. Yet, all I could focus on was that single gleaming object still in the bag. Just seeing it made me sick, as it hit me why I recognized it. "That's because the person who did this wasn't trying to hurt Mace."

January looked like she was going to reply, but shut her mouth before anything escaped. I could see now what they had meant when they'd said that January was in love with Mace. She cared for him above all else, and losing him was something that she couldn't fathom. She uncrossed her arms, waiting for me to go on.

I glanced again towards the open bag, looking at the gun that glinted out of it. There was a sticker logo for a gas company on its side. I remembered seeing that logo, a bright yellow sun with a pot of gold in the middle. The logo had stood out to me because of what it insinuated. Luck. I needed luck more than anything else, which is why at the end of the fight, I'd chosen that gun and kept it on me all the way here. At least, until I got inside and left the gun in the gray bag I'd been helping to carry in.

"They were trying to hurt me."

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