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Lightning

Food was amazing. I hadn't realized how much I missed real food after living off of canned, dried, and preserved stuff until it was put down in front of me. I couldn't remember ever having it—the entirety of my memory was devoted to surviving on next to nothing, completely cut off from anything resembling civilization—but I knew I missed it. The plate steamed in front of me, the smell alone enough to make me never want to touch another can of anything for the rest of my life. I didn't even care that the pot roast they'd given us was cafeteria-quality, it was the best thing I'd ever eaten.

"Whoever the cook is here," Blue said as she speared a carrot, "I want to marry them."

Rowan had her eyes closed as she chewed slowly. "I'll join you," she replied when she finished.

Blue's green eyes gleamed. "How about you, Lightning?"

I just laughed, shaking my head. "Polygamy's not my thing, sorry. Feel free to invite me over to dinner as much as you like, though."

They both grinned and I marveled at how different it was here. I'd been awake for only a few hours—I hadn't even gotten a full explanation of where we were or what was going on yet—but it seemed like the ghost town and all the horrors that had come with it were a hundred years away. All that was left were harmless memories and the two girls sitting across from me. Blue, brilliant beyond belief but strung tighter than a guitar string, though she seemed relaxed now. She looked almost foreign after a shower and being given a very un-Blue-like but nonetheless clean and nice-looking dress, her dirty-blonde hair turned dark and curly by the water and her cheeks red, revealing a spattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose that had been all but invisible in the cold near-winter we'd been surviving in until now. And petite, pretty Rowan, her golden hair in a fresh braid that hung halfway down her back and her crystal-blue eyes lit up. Even after all that had happened she retained a type of innocence and optimism the rest of us sorely lacked.

They had both woken up before me, though I hadn't seen either of our other companions yet, and were evidently as enlightened about our situation as I was. Allegedly Griffin had shown up briefly only to run off in search of Fox before anybody had gotten to talk to him much. Blue had passed on this information to me with a knowing quirk of her brows, like we were co-conspirators reveling in their less-than-secret relationship. It was hard to keep things hidden for long when you only had four other people in the world. I'd found that out for myself.

"Where do you think Fox is?" Rowan asked after a long stretch of silence while we all savored our first cooked meal in memory.

I shrugged. "Probably a patient room somewhere, same as us."

"When do you think she'll wake up?" I knew what she was getting at; one of the nameless doctors who'd brought us here from our rooms had announced that once we were all together somebody would come talk to us.

I hesitated to answer, and Blue spoke up before I could. "She was in pretty bad shape," was all she said, but it was enough. Rowan shivered, staring down at her plate.

I didn't remember the details of what had happened to us in the forest fire which destroyed our makeshift home and led us here—it was all a blur of smoke and adrenaline—but I knew that much. I remembered the burnt and bloody mess that had been her face, her shallow breathing, her leg bent at an impossible angle as she lay helplessly on the ground between the rest of us. I would have thought she was dead already if she hadn't been making noise, pathetic little whimpers of pain that were so unlike her. But I wouldn't be surprised to find she was the only one of us who hadn't made it. I'd seen some weird things happen so far that I had no logical explanation for, but not enough to make me believe in miracles.

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