Twenty-Four: Home

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A/N: Guys! We're getting so close to the final chapters! This is the last filler-y chapter before things start to get crazy! I just want to thank all of you again for your votes and comments... you honestly make my day!

    Also... what are your thoughts on making a playlist for Dust? There's a couple songs I listen to while writing that also match up with the story. If any of you are interested, leave a comment and I'll post it with the next chapter!

Day 46 of the epidemic: July 23, 2138

We were attacked by the Burned last night, and were chased into a patch of freshly bombed area. Wether or not we were infected before, or gained the disease upon entering the area, the effects of it quickly started to seize our systems. Evan and I managed to run out of it before we became engulfed by the disease. We saw Emma last as she collapsed onto the ground, screaming for us to keep running as she toppled in a bloody mess.

It's hard to accurately describe my thoughts at the moment. We've been trapped out here together in the chaos of a new world only for a few weeks now, but I feel like this is the only life I've ever known. Emma and Evan are my family, and now, one of them is dead, or Burning. I'm not sure which is worse.

Maybe I should have listened to her ramblings about her precious book.

Kyros and I start training regularly, and over the next few weeks I know that I've been getting stronger. I feel myself moving faster, thinking more logically, and generally acting more soldier-esque than I had before. Above all, Kyros discovers that while I struggle with the heavy machine guns he uses, my aim with a sniper rifle is better than that of a lot of trained men. He works a lot on developing that skill in me, until, with a glimmer of humor in his eyes, he tells me I'll soon be fighting by his side.

Titus soon becomes fully aware of the whole McGregor/cure-for-the-Burning situation. It shocks him as much as Kyros and I, and despite the hours we spend together trying to think of solutions, we come up empty. Visits to the Chronicler come up with nothing on Canaan other than the expected Bible stories, and in the meantime, Mikhail eases his way back into our circle. None of us trust him, but neither do we shun him from our presence. The blond boy with a grin that could light up galaxies doesn't seem so bright anymore, and his boyish grin that used to make my heart flutter now makes it sink. And it hurts a lot less than I thought it would have, because if I'm perfectly honest, I could see this disaster coming before it even happened. Callie pulling away from me, though? I'll be honest, I didn't see that one coming at all. Wether because she never really let go of what happened to Felix, or because suddenly I'm keeping secrets and spending a lot of time with Kyros, one thing is sure: she doesn't really want me around anymore. Kara is surprisingly close to her, so what stings the most is that I've simply been replaced. The girl I leaned on for years has moved on without me and my emotional baggage, and part of me wonders why she didn't just do it sooner.

But I cover it up and pretend it doesn't faze me. Only Titus can really tell that it's tearing me apart inside, but he also knows that I don't want to talk about it. Kyros and Mikhail seem to be on okay terms, though Mikhail seems pissed at Kyros every so often. Neither will tell me why. So instead, I hang out with Titus the most, and for the first time in a long time, Titus and I are in the same place we used to be as kids.

I take a piece of cold pizza from the fridge, courtesy of last night's movie night, and flop onto the couch. With Mikhail and Titus still asleep, Kara and Callie out at the mall, and Kyros out on military business with his dad, I'm kind of on my own in the house. I flick on the TV, only halfway paying attention to the rerun of some old show from when the world wasn't plunged into chaos yet. I'm dancing the line between paying attention and daydreaming, however.

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