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Skye looked at the pavement and shook her head. Why? Why did people have to be like this? To Jack, she said, "We don't have to be enemies."

"That's what I say," Jack said, "I always say that. But the reality is some people are going to be your enemies."

"You want to stay alive. I can help you with that. I can trade." Skye ran her hand across the top of her head. "Take everything we have. Just let us go."

"What's to stop me from taking everything you have and doing what I want with you?"

"Decency. There has to be some left in this world."

Jack barked out a laugh. "Have you seen much?"

Skye nodded. "Yes. I have. People can still help other people."

Jack shifted his feet. "You could say that what I'm doing is helping other people."

Skye stared at Jack before turning her gaze to the forest behind him.

"No really." Jack settled himself against the hood of one of the cars. "See, I'm just out here looking for volunteers. Do you want to volunteer?"

Skye whipped her gaze back to him and barked, "For what?" She felt like a too tight piano wire waiting for that one note to play before it sprung.

"There's this group of scientists. They are trying to find a cure for this thing, and they need volunteers. They're looking for people who had the AgFlu and got over it. Or those who know they were exposed and never got it. Those are rare though. Do you know anyone like that?"

"No."

Jack spread out his arms. "Oh, come one. Everyone knows someone like that."

"I don't."

When her arms tightened around Jesse, and Kelsey Jack noticed. He flicked a look at Spencer and Reed. "How about them? Seems you really like those kids, so how about you give me those men?"

"That wouldn't be them volunteering, that would be you kidnapping."

"Nevertheless, I'll take them."

"I don't know their situation with the AgFlu even if I was contemplating handing them over."

Reed spoke up. "We never had it, were never exposed. We kept to our cabin until the worse was over in our area."

Skye nodded. She knew that was true of many of the mountain's inhabitants.

Jack sighed. "Then it's got to be you and the kids."

"It will not."

Jack chuckled. "Look around you. What are you going to do?"

Skye's voice held a dark edge. "I'll die before I let you take any of us."

"Well, that would sure be a waste." Jack slapped his hands on his legs. "At least if you come with me, you'll be helping someone. Come on now. Let's not make this more than it has to be."

Skye stood resolute, her mind searching for any possibility of escape. When their guns came back up, a shudder went through her. She felt sick as she loosened her grip on Jesse and Kelsey to step forward.

Before she could, Jesse pulled away and took a few steps toward Jack. "Take me. Leave them be, and I'll go with you."

The breath left Skye. She should have seen this coming. "No! No. Jesse hasn't been infected, or exposed." Skye told the truth as far as she knew it. There had been times Jesse may have been exposed, but no one time they could point to when they knew without a doubt he was.

Jack nodded his head to his goons. They moved in on Jesse.

"That's okay," Jack said. "We have a volunteer." He walked to his car door and opened it, taking out a small case. "We can just make sure that he is exposed."

A deep scream made its way through Skye. "No! No! Take me. I'll go. Just leave him. Leave him!"

Skye raced to Jesse only to have her way blocked by Jack's men. When she tried to push past them, they grabbed her and held her back.

Behind her, Spencer and Reed advanced only to be driven to the ground and held at gunpoint.

Jesse didn't move an inch. Two of the men marched him over to Jack. He didn't fight them, and when they reached Jack, he asked, "If I do this, will you let my mom go?"

"Yes, I will, son." Jack pulled a vial out of his case. "You are very brave."

Skye's eyes flooded. "Oh, Jesse," she whispered, "no."

Jack motioned the men away and Jesse closer. Jesse slowly took the few steps toward him. Jack reached out and spun Jesse around, so the boy's back was to him. Then he wrapped a thick arm around his neck. "Sorry about this, but you wouldn't believe the number of people that renege on their word once things are in motion."

Jesse's jaw clenched. Though he stood tall, he was still a head shorter than Jack.

Skye twisted and turned in her captor's hands, yelling, bartering herself for her boy. "I'll go with you! I've been exposed. I had it and got over it. Leave him! Please just leave him!"

Jack twisted the cap on the vial.

Skye hung between the men. She had given up all hope until she saw a blur of blue and pink shoot by her.


Kelsey didn't know what started her racing toward Jesse and the man threatening him. She only knew she had to. She'd been in track. She knew how to run. Still, she was small, so when she made it through all his goons, the only thing she could do was launch herself at Jack and hope for the best.

Jesse's eyes widened as he saw her coming, and he threw an arm into Jack's gut. The man huffed and bent over. Kelsey knocked him to the ground. 

Unopened, the vial dropped to the ground and rolled under the car.

"Run!" Kelsey shouted at Jesse. When he started to argue with her, she said, "This is all I can do. Save your dad!"

All around them, Jack's people scrambled to ready their guns. Jesse's face contorted, but he ran to the other side of the road and slid down the hill, grabbing the pack as he went. Skye fell to the ground between the two guards, her chest heaving.

Kelsey swallowed a few times. "You don't want him," she said. "I'm the one you're looking for. My entire family died from the AgFlu. I spent days in the hospital with hundreds of Infected and Sick including my boyfriend. I laid against my Infected mother, breathing the same breath praying to get sick. Then I dragged her body to her grave. I have been exposed many times. I never even sniffled."

Skye hung her head as tears ran down her face.

Jack clapped his hands. "A goldmine. That's what you are. Thank you for volunteering."

Kelsey opened the door to Jack's car and slipped inside.

Jack turned and looked at Skye. "And you, mother? What are you going to do?"

Kelsey watched Skye through the open door as the reality of what she had done swept over her. Her eyes widened in fear as she searched for the only comfort she had. 

She locked eyes with Skye.

A chill crept through Kelsey. I'll be alone. I'll be alone again. Kelsey closed her hands into fists when they started to shake.

Skye kept her gaze on Kelsey as she gathered herself and stood. She squared her shoulders.

Kelsey found the warmth she needed when she heard Skye's words.

"I will be going with my girl."


A/N: Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed the chapter, please leave a little star. :)


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