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Between One Heartbeat and the Next

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In the car outside of Johnny's house, Ben leans back in the driver's seat and closes his eyes for a long moment, willing his pulse to stop racing, the staccato beat of his heart a loud, insistent rhythm in his ears.

He takes a shaky breath and looks at himself in the rear-view mirror: pupils blown, a spot of drying blood underneath his nose, his lips red and puffy.

A rap at the window makes him jump, and when he winds it down, Johnny is leaning in, his smile sharp like Blanche's broken bottle – "You forgot something," he says, loud enough to be overheard, and he quickly looks around to see if anyone's watching before catches Ben's lips in a short, dry kiss that lingers long after Johnny's gone back inside.