Snow falls slowly and softly, ...

Despite the flattery of the falling snow, the city looked dead and desolate. The fires still raged as they did a year ago in the dark distanced, lighting up the sky to a black orange. The stars must have been burnt out, because they did not appear in this off- colored sky. Another building collapsed loudly in the distance, followed by a scream as someone is crushed by some of the falling rubble. A gun shot fired in the distance as a murderer strikes again, not that the police cared any longer.

Unshaken by the asphyxiating sight, a girl of sixteen walks through a deserted street with blackened alley-ways on either side of the car-less road. This street used to be busy, even at this time of the night, she thinks as she pulls her coat tighter about her shoulders.

The war, the one she started, raged on around her, and ever farther into the night. Everywhere there is a new fire started, another person dying, another horrible thing happening. It was not supposed to turn out this way. The fires around her scorched her mind with the tantalizing thoughts of a newer, happier place in life. She had never intended it to be this way. And neither did the boys.

The boys. James and Cooper. Only a year had passed, and contact was lost. Well, almost... she thought as a smile passed her lips, only to leave a deserted, neutral frown upon her face.

Not knowing exactly where she was going, she ambled through the streets, hoping not to be stopped. If anything were revealed, where she was going or who she was, she would end up in an even worse Hell than here. She suddenly wished that there were more to her sojourn here than a hearts whim. Maybe another revolt to be planned and put into effect. Such thoughts did not help her any. All that they did was form demons to confuse her thoughts, sending them running to the back of her mind, leaving doubts and questions with no comforting answers.

Still, she knew that she was going the right way. Even as the streets started to close in, darkening the snow-covered sidewalks. By following the fire-surrounded darkness, she felt at home among the snowflakes.

Out of the darkness came a voice calling her name into light.

Lingering but for a minute, ...

"Tara?!" came the strangely familiar voice to her ears, only to resound hauntingly inside her mind.

Slowly she turned to the direction the voice had issued, a smile already threatening to pass over her again. A dank alleyway with one lighted window shining into it, giving off just enough light to a faint outline of a person. Any one person would think that this figure was indeed a woman by the length of hair, but Tara knew otherwise.

The smile that had been threatening to cover her face as she heard the voice for the first time, came to pass. There was no doubt in her mind that this figure with long blond hair was indeed Cooper.

Quickly and quietly, she ran up to him and threw her arms around his neck. He gently swung her around in a small circle before setting her feet back down on the cold pavement.

"I thought that it was you!" he said as he was letting her go.

"I knew that it was you when I saw you!" she said, as usual, she was trying to top him. He noticed this and chuckled at how comfortable she still was at teasing him.

"But," he said, topping her statement, "you would not have even seen me had I not said your name!"

She was about to say something when Cooper started to get shifty. "What?" she asked.

"We can't be seen together. The Ban is much harsher here than anywhere else." he responded, pulling her arm int to the doorway by the lighted window. There, he turned off the light and led her into another dark room, sitting her down into an extremely large and soft chair.

"Why did you come back?" Cooper asked after a minute of silence.

Covering the proof we cannot see, ...

"I had to." Tara said with unmistakable confidence.

"But why?" he asked, knowing persistence on one subject would get her to crack. However, she cracked too easily this night.

"I had to," she stated simply. Then, cutting him off from asking why again, she added "Because I know that we need to stage another revolt. Nobody else I know is willing enough to, after seeing what our last one led to."

"There's more to this." Cooper said, knowing Tara well.

"There might be, but it's not something I'm going to tell you." she said defiantly. "And don't even try to get me to tell you." she added as he started to attempt such a thing.

The truth was that she did not come back to start another revolt, but to find James. Her hearts "whim" as she so called it. Never had she told anyone about what she felt for James, and she was not going to start by telling Cooper, of all people. Granted, he was her best friend, but since when did she get off by telling him about other guys?

He seemed to take it, knowing that she would not tell him if she was that stubborn about it. "What sort of revolt?" he asked instead.

"I don't know." Tara said, looking down. Her eyes were adjusting to the dark, and she could see the rundown apartment she was in. Everything was a wreck. There were even some missing floor boards.

"Tara." Cooper said soothingly, it was something he had done often to her. "You can't just come here with the Ban still working hard against us without a plan. What would happen if you were caught looking for us, or never did find us... me?"

Taking a calming breath, she replied. "I don't know what would have happened to me," she said, "Or to the rest of the world, for that matter.

"But that shouldn't matter!" she said, her voice rising threateningly. "I'm here now, nothing bad has happened to me!"

"What do you call this?" Cooper asked.

"What do you call what?!" Tara asked, getting to her feet.

"This!" Cooper said, now raising his voice too. Then, catching himself, he calmed his voice. "This always being on the edge of paranoia."

Tara did not say anything for some time. She sat back in the old chair and thought about what Cooper was saying to her. He was right. Lately, she had been on the edge of breaking down. The Ban was getting to her. It had only been the one year, but things had escalated into a living Hell-On-Earth. There was no longer anything that the government could do to end the outrage that they had started. Nothing, except taking the Ban away.

And what about James? He was always the mastermind of their revolts. Without him right there, she had nothing. But if her were there, she would not be able to think anyways. Thoughts of him from a year ago clouded her mind. The laughs and the goofing off is probably what fooled the camp coordinators, but that was what she remembered the most. They had shared a lot of good times together. These thoughts chased the demons away that were resulted from the War she had helped to create.

"I just know that something more needs to be done." she said, looking to the floor rather than Cooper's face. She was meaning two very different things, but Cooper only caught the one he knew the reason behind.

Listening to the sound we cannot hear.

Silence prevailed within the room, but it was resounding within their heads. Thoughts about what to say next and how to deal with everything mixed together into a gooey nothingness of their minds. Finally, Cooper spoke.

"Tara." he said, "We can't stay here." It would be too obvious, he thought. "We have to go and find James. Maybe he can help."

That was just what Tara wanted to hear. There was nothing more she wanted but to see him.

Trying hard to hide her happiness, Tara agreed. A little of it might have shown through, though, because Cooper nodded in acknowledgment.

Snow falls slowly and softly,

Lingering but for a minute,

Covering the proof we cannot see,

Listening to the sound we cannot hear.