A/N:

This was originally posted on my AO3 account, and now I'm posting it here! It's a pretty short story (only 6 chapters) and it's based on an idea which popped into my head about a month ago. Please enjoy, and be sure to leave a review and tell me what you thought!

Pain. Pain was the first thing Jack Kelly knew. Pain and darkness.

Slowly, his senses awakened. There was the smell of rotting wood and unwashed bodies. The unnerving sound of whispering all around him, so quiet it was almost inaudible. The feeling of something hard pressing against his back.

The pain became sharper, too, acuter. His legs throbbed and his chest ached and his head felt as though someone was trying to split it open with an ax.

As he came to Jack moved slightly, causing new waves of pain to wash over him. He moaned, his eyelids fluttering as he struggled to open them.

The whispers around him increased, and he could now distinguish individual voices. I think he's wakin' up! Damn, Snyder sure gave him a beating. That's worse than the one I got last Christmas!

Snyder. The name was familiar to Jack, though in his dazed and confused state he couldn't ascertain exactly why.

Fighting against unconsciousness, Jack finally managed to open his eyes a sliver. Blinking against the light which now assaulted him, he saw that he was lying on the floor of a small room, staring up at the dirty ceiling which was crawling with termites.

In that instant, everything came back to him. Sleeping on the street. Waking up to a grim-faced policeman standing over him. Being dragged down the street screaming and crying. Warden Snyder. The Refuge.

All these memories flooded his brain, causing Jack to suddenly sit up, an act he soon regretted as the pain which exploded in his head threatened to send him into darkness once more.

Taking deep breaths to calm himself, Jack took in his surroundings. He was surrounded by rickety old bunk beds that looked ready to collapse at any minute. Young boys with pale, gaunt faces were sitting on them, wrapped in threadbare blankets that did little to ward off the cold that was seeping into the room through the cracks in the walls and the one small, grimy window on the far side of the room.

As Jack gazed at his roommates he saw no friendly faces, not one boy who seemed willing to share a bed or a blanket with him. Still, he knew he couldn't stay on the floor all night and so he slowly pushed himself up until he was standing, clutching his side as tears of pain welled in his eyes.

Slowly, Jack began to limp across the room. His legs shook and threatened to give out at any second, but he kept moving regardless. The whispers ceased completely as the boys watched him, stunned into silent awe.

By some miracle, Jack finally spotted an empty bunk in the corner of the room. He could have cried in relief as he stumbled towards it, slowly lowering himself onto the hard mattress with a contented sigh.

Curling up underneath the threadbare blanket which had been laying on top of the bed Jack pretended that he was back at home again, being tucked in by his mother with a smile and a soft kiss. This fantasy was one he often turned to when things got hard, and that night it slowly lulled him into a restless but healing sleep.