He felt light, light as air. Where was he? Outside. Yes, that seemed right. He was outside. There was a sensation that he felt, a feeling that tickled his skin and through his hair. A breeze? Maybe. Whatever it was, he liked it and didn't want it to go, but it did. Not fair, but life usually wasn't. Where was he? Oh right, outside. Where outside though? He didn't know and couldn't open his eyes to see. It was dark, very dark. He wanted to wake up, but the problem was he was awake just he really wasn't. It didn't make sense. Nothing made sense. This frustrated him, but what could he do? Nothing.

Suddenly, there were voices, a lot of them. Terror rose inside him and he wanted to scream, but he couldn't. Was it them? Was it those monsters? Oh God he hoped not. They did things to him, horrible things. He remembered that, but he only recollected the pain nothing else. His memory was blank except for monsters and pain. Not a good match, not a good one at all.

He was scared, really scared now. They were closer, whoever they were. There was a lot more talking, but he couldn't make out the words. They just sounded jumbled as if he was underwater and they were on the surface. And then they were touching him. They put something over his mouth, a mask? He wanted to scream. They lifted him and he was being carried, but to where? Please no more pain. He didn't want to hurt anymore. Where was he going?!

There was a light, very tiny but a light nonetheless. He willed himself to go to it and it seemed to grow larger and larger. The light was blocking out the darkness and then there was pain. He hadn't expected any pain, but there was. It was too bright! He shied away from it, but it kept coming. Why wasn't it stopping?! The light swelled up, swallowing all the darkness and he was plunged into it.

"Is he awake?" a voice asked.

There was an answer, but he couldn't really hear it. It sounded too distant. He squinted his eyes and after a while the light didn't hurt so much. His eyes adjusted and he looked around to see his new world.

"Are you sure about that? He looks awake to me," the same voice as before said.

He looked up and saw men carrying him somewhere. At least he thought they were men. They wore masks, oxygen masks to be exact that hid their faces from him, but the way they walked made him believe they were human. The only other thing he saw was a grey sky and nothing else.

"Ask him a question," another voice suggested.

"Alright. Uh, sir what's your name?" the first voice asked him.

It was then that he realized he didn't know. As hard as he thought about it, he didn't remember. Shit! This was something he should know!

"I don't think he's lucid enough to answer. He's been out in the open without much oxygen for a while. It'll take some time to get him to a conscious state I imagine," someone else, out of view said.

That would explain his amnesia; at least he hoped it did. He didn't like the thought of never remember who he was, where he came from, and why he was here in this strange place. He had to remember, he just had to.

"Damn, for a skinny fella he's pretty heavy," someone muttered.

He didn't feel heavy. The lightness was coming back and he was growing increasingly dizzy. In the corners of his eyes there was a growing darkness. He was going back to that state that he had been in before. Once again terror overtook him. He didn't want to go back! But he had no choice. The world was growing increasingly dim and he struggled to stay above the water. He would not drown! His strength faltered and he fell under. The darkness engulfed him.

Faye was walking at such a speed that Dani was having trouble keeping up. She refused to slow down though. If they didn't hurry they might miss the stranger being brought in, and then he would be lost within the maze like structure of the medical ward. The medical ward was somewhere Faye vowed never to enter. It reminded her of death and thus her parent's.

"This may be a silly and pointless question, but do you have a plan by any chance?" Dani asked.

Faye pretended to be in deep thought and then shook her head no. "No plan at all?"

"Nope," Faye replied simply, "We don't need a plan. We're going to wing it."

"You see the flaw here, right? This is what gets you caught."

Faye shrugged showing Dani that she really didn't care. Who needs a plan? Not her, that's for certain. She'd be fine without it anyways. There would be a lot of people crowding the halls surrounding the main entrance. Van would not see them hidden within the mass of people. That is unless he had a sixth sense, and sometimes Faye truly wondered if he did. Dani was right. He did have an uncanny ability to catch her and it was aggravating. It was as if she couldn't get away with anything.

"Where do you think he's from?" Faye asked suddenly, the question coming to her mind without warning.

"I don't know," Dani said, "Another compound maybe, but I've never heard of any communities near us before."

"He would have had to come a long way," Faye said.

"I doubt it, Faye. Without an oxygen mask, he couldn't have gotten far."

Faye didn't pay attention to Dani's words. She was already lost in thought. This man, could he be from a distant land? Could he be from a land that was a safe haven away from all the catastrophe and death caused by the alien invaders? Faye hoped so. So desperately did she want to believe that he was from a world that mimicked the one that had existed before the aliens.

Faye was born into the chaos of the new world. She never knew what the old world had been like. All she knew of it was from the history lessons taught by the teachers, and whatever presents Van brought back from his scavenging trips. Her fascination with what the world had been like was an obsession. This is what her dreams were filled with. Fantasies of music halls, boardwalks, and sky scrapers filled her mind. It was all she could think of.

The man, if he was from such a world, could tell her everything. He could make her dreams more real and maybe one day he could take her there. The thought was a tempting one that she had to resist. Her hopes could not soar for if she was wrong they would crash. But it was too alluring. A better life could be awaiting her to explore it and the new guest was the only ticket there.

"Faye? Are you listening to me?"

"No," Faye mumbled, unapologetic.

Dani made a face and looked away. Faye sighed and said, "Sorry, would you please tell me what you said that I so ungraciously ignored." It wasn't the best apology, especially sense the last bit was tainted with sarcasm, but that was the closet thing to an apology that Faye could muster at the moment.

"You are a charmer Faye. It's a wonder that you're single," Dani muttered and then moved on, "I said that you better think of something quick because were getting closer."

Dani was right. The main entrance wasn't in sight, but that was only because of all the people crowding the hallway. Everyone was there to see the same thing, the stranger. Before the Fortress had been buzzing with nervous tension of an eminent invasion, but now the energy was not apprehension but curiosity. It was impossible not to share the feelings of excitement. This event was something no one has experienced in a long time, or ever. Faye felt her heart beat faster at the prospects of the stranger. What information did he have? What amazing things could he tell her?

They pushed through the crowd with as much politeness as possible, but for the most part they were stepping on many toes. No one really complained. Mostly people were unaware of Faye and Dani getting in their way. The only thing on everyone's mind was getting to see this young man. It was funny to think that no one really knew this young man, but he had already reached celebrity status, god like even. God like was probably going a bit too far, but the idea of finding another human out wondering in alien invested territory was phenomenal. It brought a smile to Faye's lips just thinking about it.

"You know, its days like this that I hate being this short," Dani huffed.

"If it makes you feel any better, I can't see anything either," Faye replied.

There were just too many people. Getting to the front of the crowd was proving far more difficult than Faye had thought. At a point people were becoming more resistant to Faye and Dani's attempts to edge closer to the front. But being in the very front probably wouldn't be a very smart idea. Van was could be up there and he would easily catch them. As long as they could see the young man from the safety of the crowd then Faye would be satisfied.

They tried to slip past a few more people and after a few wiggling through the mass they finally got to a good viewing point. Where they stood they had a clear shot of the main entrance. So far the door was still closed, but that didn't mean the young man wasn't in the building yet. Before one reached the interior of the Fortress they had to pass through a tunnel that served as a decontamination chamber. Going outside for a long period of time meant risking being contaminated with all sorts of deadly chemicals that the aliens had poisoned the Earth with from their horrid factories. If one person was infected and went undetected throughout the Fortress then they could possibly contaminate the entire community. They went to great lengths to make sure something like that never happened.

"Is anything happening yet?" Dani questioned in a bored tone.

"Can you not see?" Faye asked.

Dani gave her a look that told Faye that the answer was a definite no.

"Want to find a better spot?"

"Nah, I'm fine. Just tell me if anything happens," Dani replied.

Faye shrugged and turned back to the main entrance. She kept waiting for the lights over the door to begin to flash, signaling that the door was getting ready to open, but it never happened. After a while she wondered if it would ever open. Perhaps it was like waiting for a pot of water to boil. It just won't happen if you watch it.

But as luck would happen it was just as Faye began to lose hope that the lights began to flash and an alarm sounded. The crowd erupted in a buzz of conversation. Everyone started pushing and shoving to catch a glimpse. Faye tried to hold her ground, but an excited crowd is not an easy thing to hold off.

"Shit! What's happening?" Dani snapped after someone accidently shoved her.

"The doors are opening," Faye replied absentmindedly.

Her entire focus was on the door. She was a little kid waiting to unwrap a present. The anticipation was killer.

There was a guttural groan as the doors swung open and the crowd reacted with more energy than before. It was intense. Faye struggled to see and had to stand on her tip-toes to just see a mere glance of the main entrance. What she saw wasn't as amazing as she thought it would be. Coming through the massive doors were at least four medics carrying a stretcher with the young man, lying limp on it. It wasn't that she had expected a parade or something, but she felt that the whole event was anti-climatic.

A hush came over the crowd as everyone stared at the stretcher. The young man didn't move, but Faye didn't believe he was dead. He wore an oxygen mask over his face. If he wasn't alive the medics wouldn't have bothered.

"What does he look like?" Dani questioned, trying desperately to gain height but failing miserably.

The medics were carrying the stretcher away, to the infirmary probably, and Faye strained to get a good look. Soldiers kept the crowd at bay, allowing them to follow but at a certain length. From where they stood, Faye could see a good deal of the man's appearance.

"He's young, that's for sure. Our age I think, maybe a bit older," Faye observed, "His hair is brown, kind of copperish and is sort of long. Below the ear from what I can see. Uh let's see what else. He's pretty pale, but I imagine that's from being oxygen deprived. Looks pretty lanky."

"That's a bit more info than I expected, but thanks," Dani said.

"No problem."

They settled into silence then, both following the crowd who were in turn following the young man. It was strange, the obsession everyone had of this man, but Faye understood it. Not much of the outside world was known to those residing in the Fortress, except for those who were lucky enough to go on scavenger missions. Even those people didn't get to see much of the world. It was too risky to stray far from the Fortress. Large ghost towns were highly dangerous. There were just too many hiding places and the risk of being killed too high. And then there were the factories. The factories were by far the most dangerous places to go. It was a death wish just being near one.

"Faye, hide," Dani hissed, after looking over her shoulder and then back at Faye.


"Van, behind us. He's coming," Dani whispered.

Faye risked a glance behind and sure enough Van was on his way. She grabbed hold of Dani's arm and dragged her to the left, staying in sight of the young man, but hopefully out of Van's. When she felt they were safe she stopped and once again dared a look towards Van. He hadn't seen them. His attention was focused on a soldier who was intently discussing something with him. Hopefully that would keep Van away from them.

"Have you seen enough, Faye?" Dani asked.

"No. Just a few more minutes and then we can leave, okay?"

"Why? What are you expecting to happen?" Faye didn't answer. "Do you think you're going to get to talk to him, because clearly he's not in a talking mood right now."

"I know that. It's just-" Faye said, her sentence trailing off.

"It's just what?"

"I want to make sure he'll live," Faye muttered.

At first Dani didn't say anything, but gave Faye an understanding look. Dani knew why Faye needed this young man to live. She understood the obsession, the fascination. Faye needed to know about the real world. Her dreams of a safe world needed to become real and this young man was the key, or at least he could be. She just had to speak with him and for that to happen he needed to live.

"He'll be fine," Dani replied, but Faye heard the uncertainty, "The doctors here will take good care of him." Faye was silent. "Come on, Faye. Let's go."

She considered denying Dani, but after a moment decided against it. Dani was right. The doctors at the Fortress knew what they were doing. They could fix anything, bring anyone back to life. The young man would be in good hands.

"Alright, shall we go to my room?" Faye asked with a forced smile.

"We shall," Dani replied with a smile of her own.

The young man would live, he had too. Faye needed this more than anything else in the world.

Doctor Oliver Rochester had never seen a man this close to death before. He had dealt with the outcomes of the most vicious alien attacks, but nothing like this. This man had certainly been through an ordeal. It was a wonder he was even still breathing.

They had the young man on a gurney strapped to a heart monitor, oxygen tank, and an IV. The bed almost swallowed him up, that was how thin and small he looked. He was a child, helpless and lost, beaten to the curb with no remorse. Bruises, cuts, and burns riddled almost his entire body. A few of his fingers and toes were broken, as was a rib. He had a large gash over his left eye and Dr. Rochester wondered if the young man would still be able to see.

Many of the life threatening wounds had been stitched up immediately. When the young man had arrived, Dr. Rochester thought he looked more like a beat up rag doll than a man. Hopefully with enough care and attention the poor man would recover.

The young man mouth opened and he mumbled something incoherent. Dr. Rochester moved closer and waited for him to speak again. He didn't have to wait long.

"Help," the young man whispered, "Please. Help."

Dr. Rochester leaned in closer and asked, "What hurts?"

The young man's only good eye flickered open. He didn't seem to be looking at anything, but just staring into space. His right hand flexed and tried to grab hold of the sheets.

"Help," the young man repeated.

"Help you with what? What's wrong?"

The young man's eye moved back and forth, searching the room for something. There was a panic in his gaze and Dr. Rochester considered calling a nurse to sedate him.

"My back," the young man cried suddenly, "My back hurts!"

He began to groan and his face contorted in pain. Dr. Rochester yelled out for assistance and a few nurses came to his aide

"Help me get him sitting up," he ordered the nurses.

"God help! It hurts!" the young man yelled.

They sat him up and Dr. Rochester pulled up the young man's shirt. What he saw startled him. Three long gashes covered his back. They looked infected, angry and red. How did he miss this? The man let out another groan of distress.

"Don't worry. We'll help you," a young nurse said, trying to soothe the poor man.

She went to touch his shoulder and the young man eyed her nervously. When she laid her hand on him he yelped and tried to push him self away from her. Fear was clear in his eyes.

"Get away!" he yelled and struggled to get off the bed.

The heart monitor on his finger feel off and a shrill alarm sounded. People were starting to watch the uproar with a mixture of fascination or apprehension. He ripped the tape over his IV and then slipped the needle out of his arm with a grimace on his face. The young man then swung him self off the bed and swayed for a minute, dazed by standing up too fast.

"Sir, please get back on the bed. It's for your own safety," Dr. Rochester said. It was actually safer for the other people in the infirmary. This man was delusional! They needed to get him sedated before he did something to harm someone.

A nurse went to corral the man back onto the bed, but it was no use. He scrambled back against the wall at her approach. She tried again, slower as if approaching a wild animal. Dr. Rochester watched them warily and signaled for a nurse to come over.

"Go get the sedation," he ordered when she came over.

The nurse nodded and swiftly turned on her heels. Hopefully she would be back soon. Dr. Rochester turned back and saw the young man trying to inch away from the nurse, but he was running out of room to maneuver in. He was getting more and more distressed.

"Lena, maybe you should back off," Dr. Rochester warned, but the woman made no signs of stopping. She held out her hand, offering the young man to take it.

"Come on, its okay," Lena said with a sweet smile.

The young man froze and stared at her with such intensity that it worried Dr. Rochester. There was a look in his eyes that was indescribable. Fear? Caution? It was the look of a deer in a lion's den, a pup in a dog fighting ring. What had happened to this young man?

"Please don't," the young man pleaded.

The infirmary was dead silent. No one moved. All the attention was on this strange young man. The seconds ticked by and Lena hadn't moved any closer. She was patient, hoping the young man would come to her. He didn't. His back was up against the wall and his arms wrapped tight around himself. It was as if he was trying to hold him self together. This young man was still, eyes wild and body tense. Dr. Rochester could only wonder what was going on in his mind.

The sound of footsteps broke the silence, and the nurse Dr. Rochester had sent off returned. In her hand she carried a shot filled with the calming drug. She handed the shot over to him and he took it without a word. When he turned he saw the young man staring no longer at Lena, but at him. Or rather he was staring at the shot with saucer wide eyes.

Dr. Rochester slowly walked towards the delirious young man, with extreme caution. He reached Lena and motioned for her to move out of the way. She obeyed and stepped back, letting Dr. Rochester move closer to the young man.

"Please don't," the young man muttered fearfully.

"I'm sorry," Dr. Rochester replied, "It's for the best."

The young man didn't react to his words and only stared. Dr. Rochester took a step forward and when the man didn't panic he took another. He was only a few feet away from him. Just a few more steps and he could administer the drug.

He went to move again, but suddenly the door swung open and four soldiers filed in, probably responding to a message of distress sent from someone in the infirmary. The soldiers raised their guns at the man and started forward barking orders for the man to back down. Fear changed to angry on the young man's face. His amber eyes looked like fire.

"Wait, stay back," Dr. Rochester said, "You'll scare him."

The soldiers didn't listen and pushed him aside. One of them reached out to grab the young man before Dr. Rochester could object. The young man flipped and yelled out. He tried to run around the soldiers, but they had him surrounded.

"Stop!" a soldier barked, jamming his gun into the young man's chest.

The young man glanced down at the gun, and for a second Dr. Rochester thought he would back down, but he didn't. Instead he pushed the gun away and dove forward. The soldier didn't have time to react and took a direct hit from the young man. They both went crashing to the ground.

"Don't shoot!" Dr. Rochester cried, worried someone else would get hit.

The soldiers all reached for the young man, but he leapt off the fallen soldier and bolted for the door. Dr. Rochester reacted without thinking and grabbed the young man's arm. The young man fell back hitting Dr. Rochester in the chest causing him to drop the shot. He let out a humph from the impact and tried to get a hold of the young man. He was surprisingly strong for his condition and struggled to get free.

"Hold him tight!" a soldier said as he and the other soldiers surrounded Dr. Rochester and the young man. They all raised their guns at the young man, but Dr. Rochester doubted they would shoot, not if it could hit him instead of the young man. Besides they wanted this guy alive. Dr. Rochester tightened his grip.

"Let me go!" the young man shouted, and then slammed his head back into Dr. Rochester's face.

With a cry of pain he let go of him and stumbled back. Blood poured from his nose. He heard a commotion and when he looked up he saw the young man struggling to get free. There would be no use. All of the soldiers had him pinned to the ground. His face was pressed up against the linoleum floor, and tears poured from his eyes.

"Be careful with him. He was in here for a reason," Dr. Rochester said, and accepted a rag from a nurse. He pressed it on his nose to stop the bleeding. It hurt real badly. "Shit."

"No, no, no, no," the young man chanted over and over again.

A soldier had tied the young man's hands together and lifted him to his feet. He tried to kick the soldiers, but it was no use. They started to drag him out of the infirmary, terror returning to his face. A few nurses followed, one holding another shot filled with a sedative. It was a haunting sight to say the least.

"You want me to take a look at that?" another doctor, Dr. Porter asked.

Dr. Rochester gave him a questioning look. "Your nose."

"Oh, right. Yeah, in a second though," he replied absently.

Dr. Porter shrugged and returned to whatever patient he had been taking care of before the chaos. He pressed the rag closer to his nose and tensed from the pain. Glancing down he saw blood on the brilliant white floor. It sent a shiver down his spine. Something was wrong with that young man. Whatever had happened to him had to be horrific.

There was only one answer that Dr. Rochester could think of. It had to be the aliens. Only they could produce such horror in a man. This young man must have been attacked by them, but something about the whole thing bugged him. He didn't know what it was, but something stood out about this particular attack then any other he had ever seen. Dr. Rochester would ask the young man some question, when or if he ever got the chance. But for now he would have to wait. He had work to do, but first his nose needed attention. He went to go find Dr. Porter and let the nightmare that just passed to slip to the back of his mind.

Faye sat down on her bed with a tired sigh. Dani had left a few minutes ago. She had said something about needing to do homework and then left in a hurry. Something told Faye that this wasn't true. She was probably going to see Collin. Seeing as it was the weekend, this theory was more likely. It wasn't that Faye had a problem with Dani getting friendly with other people than her, or that this person was a guy, but she felt a twinge of jealousy at the thought of Dani and Collin together.

She stood up from her bed, feeling restless. Her feet carried her to her bathroom where she found herself staring into the mirror. While Dani had the sort of innocent, elf-like beauty, Faye had a more aggressive look. Her brows were thin and drawn down into a consent glare giving her dark eyes a more brooding look. She had full lips and pronounced cheek bones, but her nose was slightly crooked and her forehead too long in her opinion. Faye let loose her ponytail and watched her blonde locks fall onto her shoulders. Her hair was tangled, crazy, and always pulled up into a pony-tail or bun. Free from a hair band, Faye's hair looked wild with all its annoying waves and twirls. Dani had the right idea. Cut it short and hair becomes easier to maintain, but the look would only work with Dani's small doll-like face and not Faye's long one.

The girl in the mirror frowned at her and Faye stomped back into her room. It was a cluttered mess where she slept, but Faye was fine with it. All her "useless" stuff that she had packed into her room was more like treasure to her than trash. Hung up on the way were tattered and worn posters of bands and movies from the era before the aliens invaded. Shelves were stacked full of old books, knick knacks, and CDs. Under her bed were several plastic containers of priceless antiques. Most of her possessions were presents from Van. He would find them on scavenger missions and give them to her. They meant the world to her. Without them she didn't know what she would do.

Her fingers trailed across the collection of CDs on a shelf and landed on one in the middle. She pulled it out and put the CD into her sometimes working radio. Soon the sounds of the Shins began to fill up her room. A smile graced her lips and she fell back onto her bed. Faye began to loose her self to the music, letting it take over her thoughts and direct them away from the events of today. Her hand stretched out and her fingers grazed across her stuff bear. She snatched it and hugged it to chest, inhaling the scent it carried. Van said the smell was of lavender and she really loved it. It was soothing.

A knock at her door shattered her piece. With great reluctance she sat up and slid off her bed. She walked over to the door and opened it. Van walked in, not even waiting for an invitation.

"Hello to you too," she muttered under her breath.

Van didn't look at her, but shut the radio off ending the song with a sudden silence. He turned to her and wore an unreadable expression on his face.

"Dani told me that you guys took a little field trip to the main entrance," Van said, folding his arms. Faye opened her mouth to protest, but couldn't think of a thing to say. How could she? How could Dani tattle on her to Van? She knew how harsh the punishment would be! Rage rose up inside Faye and her lips turned into a sour frown.

"I'm going to kill her," Faye growled and then hissed to her self, "How could she tell?"

"She didn't, but you just did," Van smirked.

The truth hit Faye hard. She felt so stupid! How easily she had fallen into his trap.

"Damn it, Van," she grumbled.

"Don't you dare curse at me," Van growled, growing angrier by the moment, "I told you not to go there, Faye. Once again you disobey me."

"I'm sorry!" Faye tried, but she knew it was useless.

Unless she had a really good excuse of why she was there then there would be no point of apologies. Van was pissed and he wasn't going to let her get away free of punishment. She dreaded learning what it would be.

"Why don't you listen? You never listen," Van said, shaking his head.

He seemed frustrated, tired, and suddenly a lot older. Guilt rose inside Faye as she realized what she has been doing to Van. Her shoulders slumped and she sat down onto the bed once more. She couldn't look at him, but only down at her feet.

"I just wanted to see him," she said.

Van sat down next to her.

"I know, Faye and I understand your curiosity. But when I ask you to stay away you should do as I ask."

"But why?"

She finally gathered up the courage to look at him. His eyes meet hers and she tried not to squirm under his intense gaze.

"He's a dangerous man. I don't want him to hurt you and then have you be the one in the infirmary," Van replied with a heavy tone.

"He didn't look so dangerous on that stretcher," she shot back.

Van sighed and seemed to be weighing whether or not to elaborate. She didn't try to hurry him up, but let him debate with himself. There was a period of silence and Faye reached over and grabbed her stuff bear again. Just holding it made her feel a little bit better. She stroked its fur, though it wasn't soft anymore, but the motion was comfort in its self.

If Van was worried about the young man then that must mean he wasn't going to die. There would be no point fretting about a dying man. This was good news to her, but she still wondered why he was now considered a threat to her safety. What had happened after he was taken to the infirmary? As if reading her mind, Van finally spoke up.

"He tackled a soldier and smashed a doctor's nose," Van explained, but Faye was still confused.

"There must have been a reason why."

Once again Van fell quiet and pondered to him self, but this time he answered more quickly than before.

"They think he was hallucinating," Van answered, "Of what, we don't know."

Faye relayed this new information to her self. The young man hadn't looked like he had violent tendencies. In that stretcher he looked small and fragile. She couldn't see him doing the things Van said he did. It just didn't fit with her mental picture of him.

"He was without clean air for a while. Could that have something to do with it?" she proposed, hopeful that the attack was just a one time event.

"I don't know, Faye," he replied, "Maybe, but don't think that just because no one knows what prompted this attack means he's safe to visit. He is off limits and I can not stress this enough, Faye. You stay away from him."

"But I just don't see him as this type of guy!" she protested, holding onto her hopes, "There has to be a reasonable explanation!"

"Even if we knew why he attacked doesn't make him safe either," Van countered.

She thought of objecting, but when she saw the grave expression on Van's face she clamped her mouth shut. Faye was torn between obeying Van and finding the young man. She desperately wanted to learn everything this stranger new of the outside world, but Van didn't need her defying him either. It was a dilemma that would surely rule her thoughts and keep her up late at night.

"I'm just curious about him," she said softly.

Van gave her a pitying look that frustrated her. She didn't want pity, not now anyways.

"Curiosity killed the cat."

"Satisfaction brought it back," Faye replied smugly.

Van's expression changed from pity to amusement. He stood up from the bed and walked towards the door as if about to leave but stopped and looked at her.

"You don't have nine lives, Faye, only one," he said with immense sadness.

Faye had nothing to say to that. She only nodded and continued to stroke her bear mindlessly. Van opened the door, but once again looked back at her. "Oh, by the way, you're grounded. No visits and no leaving this room except for school."

"How long?!" she cried.

She knew punishment would happen, but she still wasn't thrilled about it.

"For as long as I wish it," Van replied, "Don't bother thinking about sneaking out at night. I'll have my men take turns guarding your room."

"That's not fair!" she shouted, but Van only shrugged and left the room, leaving her to face the heavy silence on her own.