Never Fade Page 132

I had to drop him to shove the desk out of the way again. I took one more step out, taking a deep breath to steady myself against the sight of Jarvin’s and the other agents’ bodies—but the hallway was empty. As I dragged him out into it, I had a thought, a brief one, of pulling him into the infirmary, but I could see figures moving in there behind the curtains and I wasn’t sure I was willing to take the bet it was someone from Cole’s team. There were any number of doors along the hall, most of them leading into rooms I had never been allowed to see. But there was only one closet that was open, and the rack of guns in there had been picked clean—leaving enough room for a human body to be shoved in.

I had just angled Clancy into the tight space when I heard my name shouted for the whole damn base to hear.

I whipped around, searching for the source. Cate was suddenly there, rushing out of the infirmary, pulling the rifle strap off her shoulder. She ripped the black ski mask off her head and let it fall behind her. I was in her arms, in her warmth, before I had the sense to brace myself for the impact. A relief I didn’t expect passed down through me as I leaned into her.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

And I was honestly still so shocked at her appearance, I actually told her the truth. “Locking Clancy Gray in a closet.”

She pulled back sharply, looking down at the prone form at our feet. And Cate, for the first time in her life, didn’t ask me if I wanted to talk about how I was feeling. I didn’t need to explain why we couldn’t leave him in the infirmary or in one of the rooms where he might escape. She knew what he was and what he was worth.

“Okay. I’ll go get the keys.”

“Cate,” I said, catching her arm. “Is it over?”

She smiled. “It was over ten minutes ago.”

“Really?” My voice was small in my own ears. I felt five years old, the way I had after getting lost in a mall and suddenly finding my dad’s hand again after frantically searching for him. I knew it was stupid to cry, but exhaustion had brought me to the breaking point, and the sudden, unexpected release of fear and pain pushed me past it.

Cate stepped toward me, taking my face between her hands. It was like staring into a full moon rising as it cut through night. “I knew you could do this.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and a white tent bloomed behind my lids. There was Mason, taking his last breath. The smell of a stiff leather muzzle. Rob screaming, screaming, screaming… I wanted to tell her everything, to unload it on her and let her share the crushing weight of it. She had offered to so many times, and every single instance I’d shot her down, thrown it back in her face. Even now, I felt that same reluctance wrap around my chest, trying to protect the weak, beating muscle there.

“It was horrible,” I whispered.

She smoothed a stray tear away from my cheek. “And you were stronger.”

I shook my head. “I wasn’t…I was…”

How could I put it in a way she’d understand?

“That’s not what Jude and Vida told me.”

I opened my eyes, searching her face for any sign of a lie. “Are they okay?”

“They’re fine,” she promised. “Worried about you. I can take you up to them, but first, I think we need to take care of our little problem.” She nodded toward Clancy. “All right?”

“Yeah,” I said, taking a deep, shuddering breath. “All right.”

Cole and Cate’s team had moved the kids into the atrium and shut the doors, blocking the steady flow of bodies that were being lifted out of the residence hall and brought down to the infirmary. They were the agents that overthrew Alban, all of them. A part of me thought it was ridiculous they were trying to keep us from seeing it. Another part of me felt grateful.

I took a breath, shaking the tension out of my shoulders, then reached for the door.

They’d pushed most of the tables to the outer edges of the room, leaving the center of the room open for cots. Some of the kids and agents were being treated by the medical staff for bumps and scrapes. It seemed insane that they were ignoring the fully stocked infirmary in favor of hauling gauze and antiseptic up here—until I remembered that same infirmary was currently functioning as a makeshift morgue.

“Are all of them dead?” I asked quietly. In addition to the twenty-odd League kids huddled at the center of the room, eating whatever it was they’d dug out of the kitchen store for breakfast, there were something like forty agents ringing the perimeter of the room in clusters of black. But these were the faces that I had expected to see: agents who were in charge of Psi teams, instructors, the ones who looked at us with sad, longing eyes when they thought we weren’t looking.

“The ones who wouldn’t stand down,” Cate said carefully.

So—all of them?

“I know it must have felt like they were all against you, but there were a number of agents who were blindsided by Alban’s assassination and only stayed because it was too late to get out without retribution from Jarvin. They didn’t put up a fight when we swept the sleeping quarters and were free to leave if they didn’t want a part of this.”

My eyes didn’t stop scanning the room until they’d found them all. Chubs and Liam stood in front of one of the televisions, their backs to me as they watched news coverage of some kind of white domed building. Jude and Vida were near them, crouched on the floor in front of Nico, who looked like he was making a real effort to curl up into a ball and disappear forever.

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