A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed, especially the people who've been e-mailing and IMing me. The feedback is really, really appreciated. Keep it coming :)

Zack looked around, pushing his way through the crowded hallway. At his aunt's suggestion, he'd gone to back to school. Not that Camille knew he'd taken her advice, of course; he'd waited until she was gone before moving, and he'd be home long before she was. After all, why should he give her the satisfaction of knowing she was right? What was the point of making friends with her now? It wasn't like anyone he knew ever stuck around too long, anyway...

He made his way up the crowded left staircase to the top floor. His locker, along with a few other kids', was in a small, seldom-used corridor that housed the utility room, as well as a few long-abandoned classrooms. As new additions had been built, they'd stopped using this wing for anything but lockers and homerooms. Zack liked it this way; it meant nobody would spin his locker or mess with his stuff. Zack was very protective of his stuff.

Being in an isolated area had it's disadvantages, too. He often missed announcements that were read over the PA. He was usually late to class because he had to go so far out of the way. And he didn't hear fire alarm go off that morning.

Zack continued his normal morning ritual of gathering his books, stopping to tape a picture of his mother to the inside door of his locker. He touched it gently before slamming the door, then continuing to his first class.

He started coughing as soon as he got into the main hallway. It was thick with smoke, so much that Zack couldn't see. Instinctively, he reached for the wall, but pulled his hand back as it touched the burning-hot metal lockers. He tried to call out, and his lungs filled with smoke. Coughing even harder now, he ran blindly to the stairs, smacking into someone on the way.

The person he collided with took his hand, and led him downstairs. The smoke there was even worse. Zack somehow lost his rescuer, and stumbled around, disoriented. He couldn't tell where he was, though he knew it had to be the first floor. Closing his eyes to make them stop watering, he wandered around, feeling along the wall for the large front doors to the school. He felt nothing but lockers and the occasional classroom door. Eventually, when he thought his lungs would burst, his legs gave out and he fell to the ground. Slowly, everything went black.


Camille walked into the building, glad to be back. She made her way upstairs, smiling at the warm and sympathetic greetings from her co-workers.

Lora intercepted her as she got off the elevator. "Welcome back," she said, leading Camille into her office.

"Thanks. You have no idea how happy I am to be here." Camille responded.

Lora smiled. "So I guess I don't have to ask you if you think it's too soon, if you need more time."

"No." Camille said, shaking her head. "If that's what you were going to ask me, the answer is no."

Lora nodded. "Allright." she said, cocking her head to the side a little. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Camille sighed, but nodded her head. "I won't say that everything's back to normal. It's... hard. On me, and on Zack. I still miss her, I always will, but I just... I need things to start settling down."

Lora smiled understandingly. She was about to say something else, when Agnes burst into the room.

"I'm so sorry to interrupt," Agnes started quickly, "but there's a fire. At Claudia and Zack's school. It's been evacuated, and some students have been taken to the hospital. I thought you should both know."

Lora and Camille exchanged helpless, panicked glances, each clutching the other for support. "Is there anyone inside?" Lora asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Agnes shrugged, looking at the two women compassionately. "That's why they called us." she said, as gently as she could. "They don't know."