Her first memory was of fire.

It danced across her face, its deathly kisses and deceptively soft caresses leaving scorched skin in their wakes. At first contact, she screamed, and not long after, her skin started echoing her tortured cries. Tears started rolling down her cheeks, and she jerked and squirmed from the trail of pain the salty water left.

Besides for the fire, she could feel nothing but the hardness of the floor underneath her back; it offered no relief for her aching bones, which groaned as she tried to crawl away from the suffocating smoke that had begun to fill her lungs. The floor was slick with liquid and her hand slipped out from underneath her as she tried to prop herself up. She landed on her cheek and shrieked from the pain that stabbed at her frazzled nerves.

She heard only the deep grumbling of the fire, as if unhappy at her attempts at escape. It tickled at her ankles, threatening to drag her back into the blazing inferno. As pressure wrapped itself around her body, she let out a choked sob, allowing herself to succumb to her body's cries of pain.

The floor was gone, however. And soon enough, so was the suffocating heat. She let out a shuddery gasp as her lungs instantly filled with cool air. The fire that had once blinded her was replaced with the soft glow of street lamps and the sounds of sirens filled the air, growing fainter every passing second. She realized, as she groggily rested her head against a firm surface, that someone was carrying her. She let her eyes drift close as she drowned herself in her companion's comforting warmth, which had replaced the sweltering heat she'd felt not seconds ago. This is a man, she thought as she faintly made out the contours of his muscles through his thin, cotton shirt. His breath came out in short pants as he jogged down the street.

Not long after, she felt him turn a corner, and his fast gait turned into a slow walk and then a stop. He set her down by the foot of a building; she almost cried from relief when she found he had not removed his arms from around her.

A deep, gravelly voice brushed against her face. Its tone was harsh, and she winced, as if his words had poked at her wounds. "Why didn't you fight back?"

Her eyes stayed closed, as if they had been scorched shut and blinded by the fire. She couldn't concentrate on his voice; couldn't focus on what he was saying to her when her face was still simmering in pain.

"Answer me, woman!" He was screaming at her now. She grabbed at her knees in response.

"Who-who are you?" Her voice came out frail, damaged, and shaking just as much as she was.

"What do you mean?" he asked, his tone irritated.

"I-I –"

"You can't tell I'm a Marked?"

She screamed at the mention of the name, pushing and shoving at the hulking figure that still had maintained its grip on her. A Marked? Oh God, get her back to the fire! Surely death would be better of a fate than to be touched by a Marked!

Her sobs and screams turned to hiccups and her shoves became feeble, until it felt like she was pushing against the resolute wall of the sturdiest building. "N-n-no! Oh my g-god!" she gasped.

His hands gripped her arms and her entire body convulsed at the contact. "Calm down, you're hurt!"

"Y-you did this –" she cried out, weakly.

"No! Why would I?" he asked desperately.

She was starting to drift into darkness as his next words floated into her ear.

"You're a Marked too."

This popped into my head a few days ago, and I've been absolutely itching to just get it down so I don't end up losing it in the jumble that is my brain.

That being said, Glass Tree House is still my number one priority. That story will be finished before regular updates for this start. I'm not sure when that will be, but that time will come, no worries. Of course, I will try to update this, but it will be sporadic until the end of GTH and will depend on the feedback I get for this.

Thanks for reading, and leave me a review and let me know what you think! :)