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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13. thirteen

When the hell will I get to go on a mission? Amber's been on one, Liam's gotten one, and some kid named Drew gets to go on one tomorrow. Why was she chosen instead of me? Okay, okay. I'm not jealous or anything. 

Maybe a little bit. But that's besides the point! 

I've been working my ass off over here and I haven't gotten a mission yet. A month into this goddamned training program, and I still haven't gotten a mission!

Okay, okay. Yes, I'm aware that two hundred years ago, rookies had to go through years of training before they even got a shot, but these are different times, okay! 

Amber and I sit at our end of the table, as we usually do. It's been a few weeks since Amber got back from her mission, and people have long-since stopped talking about it. Liam, even though his mission was only a few days after hers, and not nearly as exciting, is still blubbering on and on about his "days away at war," and how "brave and terrified," he was. Amber and I snicker whenever we hear his bull crap. 

I look at Drew. I'd like to think that I keep a pretty unreadable expression. I don't think anybody notices it. Except, of course, Amber. 

"Jay," she whispers. "Quit staring. People are going to start thinking you're a creep. Er, a creepier creep than you already are." 

I tear my gaze away from Drew's giggling face and frown at Amber. "I'm not a creep!" 

She gives me a pointed look. 

"What the hell is creepy about me?" 

She shrugs. "Nothing, I guess." 

I glare at her. She bites her lip, a silent laugh in her golden eyes. "You have a tendency to... stare? Just a tad," she admits. 

"I do not!" I argue. I do too. Crap. I was hoping nobody had picked up on my habits. 

"You do!" She insists. "I don't find it creepy. It's kind of adorable." 

Adorable? Not exactly the best word in the English dictionary, but I'll take it. Crap. 

"Adorable?" 

"Okay, fine. Want me to say it's weird?" 

I roll my eyes. "I'll stick with adorable." 

She turns her head and glances at Drew, who's notorious for being the loud one in our group. No doubt, she's bragging endlessly about how much the soldiers love her and how exciting her trip will be. 

Amber rolls her eyes. "You deserved that mission," she mutters quietly. 

She can't see me, because she's facing the opposite direction, but I've got a grin spread ear to ear. 

"Thanks," I say cooly, because I'm definitely not going to let Amber Jeffries know how much her compliment meant to me. 

"I'm serious, Jay. You're better than her." 

"Thanks." 

"Stop saying 'thanks.'" 

"No, thanks." 

I'm punched in the shoulder. 

"Ow! Sorry, okay." 

"You'll get the next one," she says reassuringly, despite her punching my shoulder literally two seconds ago. 

"Whatever," I grumble. She squeezes my forearm. 

"You will! You're great at hand to hand, your aim's good, and you follow orders. Why wouldn't they give you a mission?" 

We lock eyes. "Amber, I'm serious. It's okay. I don't need a mission." 

"Bullshit. You're a damned good soldier, and they better start recognizing it pretty soon." 

Without thinking, I put an arm around her and hug her, tight against my chest. I feel her shoulder muscles tense up, then relax. Her slender arms slip around my waist, giving me a slight squeeze before pulling away. 

"Thanks, Amber." 

She hits my shoulder again; her playful attitude is back. 

"Stop saying thanks," she orders. 

I stiffen my posture and hold my hand up in mock salute. "I greatly appreciate your words of kindness, Madam Jeffries," I say, mimicking a French accent. 

She rolls her eyes. 

~~~

"Come on, Sky, think! What do people always do before they throw a punch?" Amber asks. I have to refrain from rolling my eyes. The playful Amber who teases me in the cafeteria disappeared the moment I asked her to help me with my fighting technique. I've noticed that Amber has the ability to see a move coming before it comes, and she always blocks it. 

"Shift in weight," I mumble. 

"Exactly! So you look for that shift in weight, okay?" I nod, exhausted from the three hours of training we'd already had with the group. After those three hours (without a break, might I add!) Amber's been training me separately for another hour and a half. I'm done

"Say when you think I'm about to punch, 'kay?" I nod again. 

I zone out for a second, my eyelids drooping with weariness. 

I hear the thud of her fist on the punching bag. Oops. 

"Jay!" 

"Sorry," I mumble. I look down at her, so our eyes are locked. Her eyes are as fiery as ever. Crap. More fiery than usual. She's mad. 

She sighs. "Why don't we finish this tomorrow, Jay," she suggests. 

I nod. "Sorry, Amber." 

"Don't worry about it." 

We make our way silently back to the cabins. She's about to open the door when I stop her. 

"Seriously, Amber. I'm sorry. I'm just exhausted." 

She scoffs. "Yeah? Well, so am I. You think I want to stay an hour and a half after the others? You're the one who wants the damned mission, not me. I already got mine." 

Ouch. 

"Amber-" I start. 

"Don't," she spits. "If you're going to ask me for help and then waste my time, I'm over it." 

I exhale roughly. 

"Seriously?" She exclaims. 

"What?" I ask, exasperated. 

"I'm the one helping you, here." 

I wave my hand through the air; the gesture seemed to look much more offensive than I intended it. "Amber, when I asked for your help I thought it would be, like, a couple tips. Not another two hours of training. It's ten at night!" 

She raises an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah! So unreasonable of me to oh-so-evilly force you to accept my help! How cruel of me to want you to get a mission! Aren't I such a terrible friend?" Her voice has risen to... well, not quite a yell, but something slightly louder than a civil conversation would have been. 

I stand silently, and her loud words seem to echo through the silent night air. 

"Well, I'm sorry," she says, her voice quiet this time. The moonlight glints in her eyes. "Clearly you don't need help that badly, after all. You don't seem to need a friend that badly, either." 

"Amber-" 

"Goodnight," she cuts me off shortly; her voice is cold. 

I watch her as she opens the door to the bunker and storms inside, shutting the door softly behind her. 

Crap. 

I rub my temple with my fingers. 

Why the hell does she have to be unreasonable? It's not like I blatantly said I didn't want her to help me! I was just tired... aren't I just human? 

She did overreact. I groan to myself. Okay, well maybe it's not entirely on her... She's obviously the spitfire one. I'm supposed to be the one who keeps my cool. 

I give myself a couple minutes of fresh air before making my way back into the stuffy bunker. 

Without my brain's permission, my eyes subconsciously glance over at Amber's bed. It's empty. I trudge to my bed, grab a fresh pair of clothes, and head to the bathrooms to shower off. 

I take a much longer shower than I should've, wondering if I can drown the thoughts in my head with shower water. I tried. It's not working. 

After ten minutes, I shut off the water, dry off, and change into my new clothes. I see Amber, unmoving, in her bed, but I know her. It takes her a while to fall asleep, and she doesn't sleep lightly. She's faking. 

I dismiss it and make my way over to my bed. 

Folded in a neat little pile on top of my trunk are three t-shirts that had gone missing. 

Three t-shirts that Amber had stolen, to wear to bed. 

I sigh and shove them inside my trunk. 

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