Chapter One

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The cold, metal bed-frame pressed dug into Alana's neck. Good. If it hurt, she wouldn't be able to sleep. When she slept, she remembered, and remembering led to nightmares and screams. Collin was no good at comforting her.

She sighed, wishing for a light, but the council had decided no power would be used at night. She was trapped, locked in. She missed the sun. She hadn't seen it in almost two months. No one had. The sickly shade of white her skin was turning made her stomach turn.

Their world's balance had been wrenched away, and she was expected to put it back together. Fuck being one of the last Guardians left.

She needed Rhiannon, best friend, cousin, and fellow Guardian. Not that being one nowadays was worth anything. Nothing but stress.

Alana sent a silent plea out to the gods. Please don't let Hope be one. The last thing she needed was to be a cool aunt and mentor.

She reached over to the nightstand and brought the cup of lukewarm water to her lips. Warm, but bearable. From beside her, Collin stirred. "You okay?" He propped himself up on an arm.

"I'm fine."

Dark strands of hair hung over his eyes. "If you were fine you'd be sleeping, or at least trying to. You're too busy thinking."

Sometimes, she found herself wishing things were different, and not in the end-of-the-world-way. More to do with him. "There's nothing wrong with that." But she loved him. Probably. She was sixteen. How was she to know what love felt like?

"It makes you sad."

Of course it did. "I'm sad without thinking about it. I haven't been outside in over a month. That's enough to make almost anyone 'sad'." She burrowed her face into her hands.

"Come on, don't be like this." He awkwardly ran his fingers through her hair.

She pulled away, and slid off the bed. "I'm going to take a walk." She paused by the door. Part of her wanted to see if Collin would offer to follow her. Like always, he remained still and silent.

She left.

The halls were silent at night. Eerily so. While the council hadn't forbidden anyone from leaving them, almost no one did.

"What are you doing up?" Rhiannon's voice broke through the quiet.

Alana wheeled around. "Jeez, you scared me."

She chuckled as she pushed herself away from the wall. "That's what I'm here for." She pulled a hair band from her pants and shoved her brown hair into a ponytail. "Seriously though, you okay?"

Now that Rhiannon was there? A familiar, older face? The closest thing she had left to family? "Yeah."

"Does yes mean no?" Rhiannon sat down. Alana did as well. "So?"

"Just thinking," she admitted. Rhiannon knew her too well.

"We all think about things, Alana. It's kind of hard not to."

She sighed. "Collin doesn't get that. He thinks that I should just forget, and move on." She wrinkled her nose. "He can be such a jerk sometimes."

Rhiannon gave Alana's arm a weak punch. "We told you a long time ago to ditch him, kid."

Alana punched her back. "Don't call me that."

"What?" Rhiannon shrugged. "You are a kid."

"I'm sixteen."

Rhiannon nodded. "See, a kid." Alana stared at her. "Alright, you're not really a kid anymore. I'll give you that one." She rested her head on her knees. "Do you want to talk about anything? I'll be more than happy to lend you an ear."

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