I don't own them.

Maybe my mom'll stop drinking and my dad will come home

Squid's blood was on fire. He remembered, vaguely, a biology class he'd taken back when he'd actually cared about school. How your blood kept you alive. If your blood was on fire, would you still be alive?

He almost welcomed death at this point. He had no idea how long he had been tossing and turning on this cot. He didn't remember anything else, except for an almost-remembrance, like a dream. As the fire pumped through his veins again he let out a moan. He hurt all over. All over. Over.


That voice. So familiar. Squid tried to place it, came up with only two faces. One round and plain, brown eyes, brown hair. Like him. Related to him. Sister maybe? She looked upset, upset with their mother for always either being angry and hitting. Angry at their father for never being there.

The other face was male, long and thin with a long, thin pile of hair that never seemed to stay flat. He had a wide, open smile that was rarely seen behind the closed-off face. And he decided that was who the voice belonged to.

After all, he didn't speak to the Dead.


He didn't know whether it was him speaking or someone else. There seemed nothing, nothing existing outside of the pain. He just wanted to die, right now. He heard screams of delight, but they were fading in and out, like a badly tuned radio with lots of static.

A hand grabbed his shoulder. A cold hand, welcome on his fiery skin. He tried to move his head but moaned in pain, tossing to one side and throwing the cool hand off. There was another yell, this time more cautious, but Squid ignored it. He let himself be pulled out of the hot place, even let himself be taken away from the cool hand.

And suddenly he was eight years old. Vanessa was crying because of...something. She was clutching her teddy bear, now ragged from the many hugs it had received in the six years the girl had been alive. He, Alan (this was long before he was Squid) ran to her and hugged her like she hugged her teddy. "It's okay," he told her, rocking slightly. "I'm here."

He promised he would be there for her.

The scene became cloudy again, and Vanessa's face turned into the tall boy's, ZigZag, on his first day at Camp Green Lake, when he passed out in his hole out of sheer exhaustion. Squid had made the same promise then, that he would be there.

Suddenly, the fire didn't mean much anymore. Something inside of his brain, or his heart, told him that the fire would pass, that he would be left with people who cared for him, people he cared about.

He had to go back. He had to comfort ZigZag and Vanessa. He had to be there for them. He'd promised.

Reaching past the fire, he managed a soft croak. "Ziggy?" The cool hand was back, and it pressed down upon his forearm. Stiffling an urge to either pass out of be violently ill, Squid managed the few words he needed to say.

"It's okay, Zig. I'm here."

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