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Men and Lads

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He knew what his prisoner's expression would be before he saw it: a mixture of apprehension, wary hope, and the expression he had come to fear most of all – determination.

He said, before his prisoner could speak, "I'm going away."

His prisoner stared. "Away?"

"Yes." He told himself that the prisoner's growing look of concern was only due to the implications of being transferred to a strange guard. "I've arranged for Keane to provide service to you."

It was the old phrase, the source of many jokes at Mercy Life Prison, but his prisoner didn't smile. "When will you be back?"

"Don't give him any trouble." He needed to get out of here before he did something he'd regret. "I've told him you are not difficult."

"But—"

He let the sound of the barred door clashing behind him be his answer. He could feel his prisoner's eye on him as he crossed the fire-pit area on his way to the level's exit.

Not difficult. It was a lie, in actual fact. His prisoner was more difficult than anyone he had ever guarded in his life. That was why he needed to go away.