The Exchange

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Before I can even shut the door behind us, Jaelyn has one of the redheads in a headlock. At first, it looks like Jane, but then, I recognize the silver bracelet on the person's wrist.

"Jaelyn, cut it out," I yell, grabbing the girl by both shoulders and yanking her away from Lexi. She stumbles back a few feet before lunging at me instead. Wide eyed, I dodge her, running shoulder first into Lexi, who has just regained her footing. We tumble to the ground in a tangle mess of arms and legs.

Jaelyn stands her ground, towering above us. She resembles a gorilla in that moment, arms stiff on each side of her, face red, chest puffed up. Her blonde hair is sticking out in every direction, like she stuck her finger in a light socket.

The rage in her eyes rivals Lexi's.

"Jaelyn Price?"

Jay's face softens as recognition hits, and she twists around, standing up straighter.

"Jane," she says in an exhale, throwing herself at the woman.

Lexi grabs both sides of my face, staring at me.

"You okay?" she whispers, letting me go to help me up.

"Yeah," I mumble, picking random strands of hair out of her face.

The scariest part of what just happened is that I honestly thought I was going to die. Jaelyn could tear through me with her bare hands, and I wouldn't be able to stop her. Isaac's words still ring clear through my head. She's killed infected stronger than me. I wouldn't have stood a chance.

If Jane and Dr. Patel hadn't been waiting for us, I wouldn't have made it out of this room unharmed.

"You were pretending?"

Jay's back to screaming at me, standing with her chest inches from mine, eyes wild again. To think, I thought she was done.

I nod, taking a step back and running into Lexi. Glancing over my shoulder, I catch her eye, but she's just smiling with her arms crossed over her chest.

"You actually hit me!" Jaelyn says, voice still rising, incredulous, "I think you broke my kneecaps."

She pulls her leg up, pointing at the bloody patches on her jeans. I roll my eyes.

"I'm sorry," I say, shoving her gently away from me, "Next time, I'll announce to everyone that I'm bring you upstairs against the President's command to meet with two enemies of the government."

She glares at me, breathing in and out of her nose.

"I wouldn't have hurt you unless I had to," I continue, shaking my head, "Think for two seconds, will you?"

A strike of lightning seems to split through the room as Jaelyn launches herself at me again, shoving me to the ground easily. Lexi tries to pull her off of me, but Jaelyn lands a solid punch of each side of my face before someone steps in and helps Lexi get her off me.

"What is wrong with you?" I ask, tasting blood in my mouth. It runs down from my nose, over my lips and onto my uniform.

"Don't tell me to think!" Jay screams, wrestling against Jane's grip.

"I really like her," Lexi whispers to me, handing me a tissue. I glare at her, taking a seat in one of the chairs lining the wall. Lexi plops down beside me, still smirking.

I never understand how her mind works. Earlier, she wouldn't let Jane threaten me, but now, she lets Jaelyn do whatever she wants. It's impossible to know when she's going to stand up for me or not.

"Now, tell me what's going on," Jaelyn says, turning around to look at Dr. Patel, who has been setting up his equipment since we walked in. The man doesn't turn around and look at her, not until he's finished typing something into the machines.

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