Chapter Fifty-Four

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We were back in our bedroom. Asten sat across from me on the mattress of Mace's bed, with his elbows on his knees. Nobody else had come back yet.

There was a light draft leaking into the room, forcing me to pull my bed's comforter up around myself. At least it wasn't nearly as cold as it was outside. Neither of us spoke for a minute, and I tried to collect my thoughts. I already had some theories on what had happened.

"It was the same people who tried to kill me before," I said, breaking the icy wall of silence that had frozen between us.

Asten didn't seem surprised. He must've come to the same conclusion. "I know....but when I said we need to talk...there's something else we have to talk about. Mace was right to be so paranoid." I hadn't realized that Mace had also been discussing his paranoia with Asten. I imagined him now, probably still drunk with no idea what he'd said to me.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"The Equator isn't what they're telling us it is. They keep saying that this is a military base to protect the innocent people inside the main city, which by the way, they didn't even bother telling us about, but what if those people aren't worth protecting?" He looked really disturbed, like he'd seen something weird. I still was very confused.

"Not worth protecting? How can you say that? I thought you were all for protecting people, seeing as you tried to free Jadyn  and Axel that one night...," I responded, voicing my confusion. He was holding things back, and it scared me. What could be so awful that he wouldn't outright tell me?

"I mean...maybe their worth protecting. But what if they didn't need to be protected? What if it didn't matter if they lived or died...because they'd still be fine?" I could tell that he was really bothered by something that he wouldn't tell me, and before I could ask him to explain it further, the door slammed open and three people barged in the room.

"Make way!" Jadyn shouted as she clutched Mace's arm. Mace himself looked about two seconds away from throwing up as he staggered into the room. Jadyn pulled Mace passed us and smashed open the bathroom door just in time. Mace disappeared behind the door and nauseating heaving sounds could be heard from behind the door.

I stood up from the bed, shocked by the sudden change of events. I couldn't see Mace from my angle, but I could hear him vomiting his guts out in the bathroom as Jadyn tried to console him. January stood helplessly next to the door to the room. She looked lost.

"What happened?" I asked, even though I already knew.

"He drank wayyy too much. We found him half awake at the bar and dragged him down here. Hopefully, nobody saw us..." She looked disheveled. I'd never imagined her much as the partying type, but I guess I might've been wrong. 

"Should we...do something?" It felt awkward sitting there while Mace was throwing up right next door. It felt like I should've been doing something to help, but I wasn't sure what.

"No...he just needs to get it all out..." January walked over to my bed and sat down next to me. She was wringing her fingers anxiously. "Anyway, how are you two? You decided to leave early?"

I suddenly remembered our conversation which had been cut off when they'd walked in. I looked over at Asten expectantly, wondering if he was going to continue. His eyes widened and he shook his head quickly before glancing at January, then back at me. For some reason, January couldn't know whatever it was he wanted to talk to me about. "Yea...I was tired of the party," I lied and shrugged.

She nodded like it made sense. "I guess partying just isn't for some people..." In the background I could hear Mace let out a really loud, disgusting noise before it suddenly stopped completely. All of a sudden, the bathroom door flew open once again and Mace stumbled out before grabbing onto a bedpost. He looked really ill. His face was pale and his hair was a mess. At least his mouth was clean so he still looked somewhat normal.

Jadyn stood in the bathroom doorway, staring at Mace uncertainly. I wasn't sure how drunk he still was. Nobody moved for a second as we waited for Mace to say or do something. I hoped that he wasn't planning on vomiting on all of us next.

"Calestia, I'm sorry...," he mumbled, still clutching the bedpost. He stood there, not saying anything else, just those three words. Calestia, I'm sorry. He knew what he had said. He wouldn't have said it if he didn't secretly believe it. But I was too tired to think about it. I was too tired to even consider apologizing or talking it out. All I wanted now was to sleep. I was curious about what Asten had been planning on telling me, but it was too late for that. We'd have to find another time to be alone so that he could tell me.

"Let's just...go to sleep..please," I said, standing up and feeling the rough carpet against the soles of my feet. I sighed and refused to look at Mace. I didn't want to see him looking at me at pity because he knew how much his words had hurt me. He knew that I also considered them to be true.

Asten was the first to nod in agreement and stand up, and I was thankful for that. Then slowly, one by one, everyone else began to get up and start getting ready. Mace was the last one. He seemed like he was waiting for forgiveness or something else. I could even feel him watching me as I set my bed.

"I do mean it," he whispered as I placed my pillow at the head of the bed. I paused for a second, and heard his footsteps as he walked into the bathroom and the door shut behind him.

And a part of me feared he wasn't referring to the apology.


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