Sparrow sighed. Looking after the others was exhausting. They weren't so bad though, she thought. At first she'd thought that she'd have to do everything for them, but they learnt pretty quickly and could keep up better than at the beginning. Even Dee was a sturdy wee thing, despite being so pale. She looked over at him, trying to keep his eyes open, despite his head drooping, his white hair flopping forward. She felt a surge of affection for him that previously she'd only felt for Tekla. Grabbing her blanket, she sank down next to him, and nudged him gently.
"You still awake, soldier?"
"Uh...uh huh..." Dee raised his head and yawned widely, "I'm...awake."
As they sat in the flickering light of the fire, Dee fell back to sleep, his head resting on Sparrow's shoulder. She waited for daylight to come in through the doorway, watching as the wood in the fire crumbled into glowing embers and finally dead ashes. The sleeping bodies and noises of the others were some comfort against the darkness, despite her own breathing seeming the loudest sound in the room. At long last, the grey light of day filtered through, and the others started to stir.
Sparrow poked her head out the door. It wasn't actually raining, but everything was wet and dripping, and the sky looked cloudy. "I'm going to go grab some more stuff to burn before it starts raining again."
She trotted off towards the large building and ducked under the metal door. Pools of rainwater collected in holes and cracks in the floor where the roof was gone, but there were dry areas around the edges. She scooted around the debris, collecting splintered bits of partition walls and parts of broken furniture. She wished she'd brought the cart to carry everything. When she'd got as much as she could carry, she headed back, remembering to rip some posters from the wall to help re-start the fire.
She found the others clustered around Zed. "He can't get up!" Tekla said, coming over to pull Sparrow closer.
"Can't or won't?" Sparrow muttered, but her tone changed when she saw Zed's flushed face. "We're staying here for the day. I'll get the fire going so we can all have a hot drink."
She started the fire in the ashes of the previous one, and told Dee to get the powdered milk packet from the bags. The hot malty drink had been a staple of school camp suppers, drunk around the evening campfire before the whistle blew for bedtime. Sparrow mixed it up and poured it into one of the few enamel cups. She got Zed propped up against the wall, and pressed the cup into his hand. He shivered, "Sparrow? I don't feel so good..."
"Drink your milk." She ordered, and grabbed one of the blankets from Rat, who was curled up in the corner in a nest of her own making. Rat clutched at the blanket but wasn't fast enough to stop Sparrow taking it and roughly throwing it around Zed's shoulders. He held out the empty cup, "Thanks. Can I go back to sleep now?" He yawned and his eyes closed.
Sparrow let him sleep and chased the others away. "Go on, go find some more stuff to burn or something. Just don't go too far. And don't get hurt!"
Dee and Tekla took the cart with them, followed by Rat and Bee at a slower pace. Bee was still finding her way over the stony ground, and Rat was jumping in every puddle. Jem stood at the doorway and watched them as they made their way to the other buildings in the complex. Sparrow came and stood next to her. "Do you think Zed will be ok?" she asked.
"Should be..." Jem mulled. "He seems strong enough. You youngsters can throw off most things easy."