Drops in the Sky

One foot in front of the other. That's all I knew. Just keep walking. Get water when you can. Get food when you can. Just keep walking. For 92 days, that's all I knew. And then, I met Amber Jeffries. And, by God, that girl became all I knew. All I wanted to know. But the War was all that mattered. Fighting is all that matters.

In World War Four, 10 billion people were killed. I'm one of the lucky two billion that survived. So was Amber Jeffries. Unfortunately, 1.9 billion people live in Europe. Mostly France, and a couple areas just outside of it. I'm in the hundred million left in what used to be the United States, which is currently in the midst of a Civil War. And I'm right in the middle of it.

We're kind of a mess. My life's messy. But Amber... She keeps everything together.

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16. sixteen

I wake up at five in the morning, as usual, and find Amber and Cynthia missing. They're probably doing some early-morning training, or something. I shower, change, and head to the cafeteria for an early breakfast before training. About ten minutes later, the rest of the group joins me. Jack sits at the same spot he did last night, across the table from me. I subconsciously glance around and notice that Amber and Cynthia are still nowhere to be found. That's odd... 

"Hey, boys," a girl's voice says, interrupting my thought. I glance up and see a familiar brunette girl. Alex. She's thin and petite, but, from what I've seen in training, she's pretty damn strong. Hell, everyone in this program is pretty strong. 

"Hey, Alex," Jack squeaks. I raise an eyebrow at him; his voice just went about an octave higher. 

She turns to me. "Justin, you're friends with Amber and Cynthia, right?" 

Not really... "Um-"

"Do you know where they are? I'm supposed to train with them after breakfast." 

"Haven't seen them. And no, I'm not really friends with them." Anymore.

"Oh. My bad. Well, let me know if you see them, okay?" 

"Will do." 

She makes her way to the other end of the table and speaks to Liam, no doubt asking about Amber and Cynthia. 

I smirk at Jack. 

"What?" He asks. 

"Hey, Alex," I squeak, mimicking his tone from earlier. 

"Shut up, man," he grumbles, his face turning red. 

I laugh. "Chill, bro. She seems nice." 

He rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Where are Amber and Cynthia?" 

I groan. "I literally just said I didn't know. Like, three seconds ago." 

"Sheesh, man. I just figured you'd know, what with your usual stalking and all..."

"I'm not a stalker!" 

"Uh-huh. Okay." 

I groan again. "It's too early in the morning for sarcasm," I mutter. 

"It's never too early in the day for sarcasm!" 

"Is, too. Now shut the hell up and let me eat my damn eggs in peace," I joke. 

He fixes his gaze on something behind me. 

"What?" I ask, turning around. Amber and Cynthia are walking in the cafeteria... with a boy. More specifically, with Thomas. They walk over to the Rookie table. When Thomas sees me, he grins and heads my way. 

"Tommy, don't," I hear Amber mutter. "Tommy, stop!" 

"Hey, man," he says, ignoring his twin sister. "How's it going?" 

I shake his hand. "Pretty good over here. How're they treating you at the plant?" 

"Pretty decent, I guess. You been taking care of my sister?" 

Amber punches his arm. Crap. Does being ignored by her count as taking care of her? 

"I can take care of myself, idiot," she says, saving me from having to answer the question. 

"I know you can, sis," Thomas says, laughing. She huffs. 

He turns to Jack. "I'm Thomas," he says, extending a hand. 

"Jack. Nice to meet you." 

"You, too." 

I find it slightly strange that in the midst of a war, people still have manners. Well, at least Thomas does. He greets people with a handshake. Amber greeted me with a tackle. These twins really are quite different. 

"Let's sit," Thomas says, sitting down next to me. 

"Not here," Amber grumbles to him. He either doesn't know that we are no longer on speaking terms, or he's trying to annoy her. Neither would surprise me. 

"Come on, Amber. Justin and I have some catching up to do," he says with a grin. She turns and glares at me. 

"Uh- we can catch up later," I suggest. Cynthia rolls her eyes. 

"We're all here, now," Thomas argues. "So. What's up?" Amber groans and sits down next to him, making sure that the entire time we're eating, the two of us never make eye contact. 

After breakfast, Jack grabs my arm and pulls me aside. "Who the hell was that?" He nods towards Thomas. 

"Amber's twin brother." 

"How do you know him?" 

I explain how Amber and him gave me a ride here. 

"Does he know you're, like, in love with his sister?" He asks, slightly too loud for my liking. 

"Shush!" I panic. He laughs. 

"Chill out. Anyone who's paying attention already knows." 

I groan. "Whatever." 

Crap. 

Jack and I head to the gym for our regular training. Today, it's target practice. We make our way over and pick up our guns. I grin at the familiar feeling of cold metal against my skin. It makes me feel in control. While I was hiking the desert, I wasn't in control. I had to cross my fingers and hope I'd find water before I got too dehydrated, hope I'd find food before I starved. And now? Still, little to no control. I can't control whether or not I get a mission, because, even though I'm good, Thompson hates me. And he's the one handing out missions on a silver platter. 

So does Amber. 

Like I said: Crap. 

I take a couple shots; all of them land on the bulls-eye. 

"Nice shot," Thomas says, stepping up next to me. "Mind if I try?" 

I hand him the gun and watch as he makes eight consecutive shots in the center of the target. 

"You're no amateur, yourself." 

He grins. "Amber and I taught ourselves." 

"Guess you're good teachers." 

"Speaking of Amber..." He begins. 

Uh-oh

"Yeah?" I ask cautiously. 

"You guys should just kiss and make up, already." He raises an eyebrow. 

I laugh. "Your sister's the one who hates me. I'm ready to talk. Not so sure about the kissing, though." Even though I'd love nothing more than to feel her lips on mi- What am I saying? I suck at being a teenager. 

He shrugs. "Have you met Amber? She's stubborn. She won't go to you. You have to approach her, first." 

Like I haven't already tried that? 

"Been there, tried that," I say sarcastically. 

"Didn't budge?" 

"Didn't budge." 

"She told me why she was mad," he says. I perk up. A real explanation, other than me being tired of training? Finally. 

"And?" 

"By now, she's just mad that you haven't come to talk to her sooner." 

I groan. "But I did!" I protest. 

He grins. "Have you met her?" He asks rhetorically, stealing my previous line. "Didn't try hard enough. Talk to her, man." 

I roll my eyes, but I'm smiling. "Will do," I say, holding up my hand in mock salute. He hands me my gun back. I nail a shot on the bulls-eye. 

"I'm heading out tomorrow, so you take care of her, okay?" 

I scoff. "Like she'd let me take care of her."

"I'm serious," he says. It's strange seeing Thomas, normally so carefree and casual, with a serious glint in his eye. "There's some strange shit going on with the Services. Don't let her do anything stupid." 

"What's going on with the Services?" 

He sighs. "I don't know, but I've heard some of the guards talking about it at the plant. Promise me you'll watch her?" 

I nod. "I will." 

"Good. 'Cause knowing her, the second shit goes down, she'll try to do something big and brave. She thinks she's invincible." 

I huff. "I'm sure she knows, by now, that nobody's invincible." 

I shoot again, and hit an inch to the left of the target. 

Thomas scoffs. "Never mind. I'll ask someone who can concentrate on a target to watch my sister." 

I scowl and shoot again, hitting the bulls-eye dead center. "You were saying?" 

He laughs. "Thatta boy."

He walks off and stands next to Amber, no doubt recounting our conversation. Except for the part where he asked me to take care of her. She really doesn't like being taken care of. 

She looks up and scowls at me. I turn my head quickly as soon as she meets my gaze, focusing instead on the target ahead of me. 

Surprised you didn't get whiplash

I pull the trigger and hit the bulls-eye, once again. 

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