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an interlude

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She's resting against the hood of his car already, flicking through the old paperback she pulled out of the driver's side door.

XciTés. French short stories. Oh, predictable - depending on discretion, of course. It’s a warm day but the pages are cold, sapping the warmth straight from her roughened fingers. A dirtbag in a club threatens to slide a knife along a girl’s smooth little throat and it’s mirrored in the bile climbing up Renee’s - and a long line of ash blows across the page.

 

"Smoking kills, y'know." She smiles at Andrew and slips the book into her bag.

"Well so does God, we all have our vices."  He flicks a stray hair from her cheek and sneers in mild distaste.  "You got everything?"

She swats his arm, fingers catching the soft cotton of his shirt. "I'm not Josten, I haven't totally lost my forethought. We got your pills, a bottle of absolut, oh, a new book - you read Smoke and Mirrors, yet?"

"If you've never delivered, I've never read." This is something she's learned to translate to mean gimme.

Andrew may have the attention span of a gnat most days, but he's also hungry for stimulation. Working his way through whatever collection Renee throws in his direction is less a pastime and more a coping strategy. Though, memorably, she once bought him the collective work of Poe and he took great delight in fishing the bottle of vodka from the passenger side door, dousing the book and throwing down his cigarette, laughing as flames swallowed up the asphalt.

Renee slides Excités almost covertly into her backpack but he's already grinning and pulling the bag away. Andrew’s got his collar flipped up so when he glances at her she can only make out his eyes sparkling. He finds the vodka bottle and takes a long swig, then pulls out the book she's already relieved from his car, flicking through the worn pages. "Tut tut tut", he pronounces it as a word rather than sound. "Did your pastor never tell you stealing is a sin?"

She smiles and grabs the bag back, throwing him the new book in exchange for the old. "What's good enough for you, Andrew, is good enough for me." He gets a hip check and a shove enough so she can pull open the car door and slide inside. “Get in loser, we’re going shopping.”

 

“That wasn’t - don’t bring that Allison talk into my vicinity, Renee, I will not stand for it.” It’s almost precious how he snarls at her, fingers twitching, eyes sunk, as though her teeth are duller than his.

“I’m quaking.” Her fingers twist the crucifix between her fingers and he darts forward and captures them, squeezing tight around the silver then releasing her from his touch. He nods like it’s the suffix of a sentence, then climbs fully into the driver’s seat.

 

“Strap in, we’re gonna be a while.” He tugs his sleeves up to his elbows and squeezes hard on the wheel.

 

“Pray, where to, driver?”

 

Andrew shakes his head at her. “To wherever no one will start looking.”

 

She clips her seatbelt in and ruffles her hair, watching him all the way. She’s cool and isn’t dressed for the colour the sky is turning, but that isn’t much a concern. She’ll go where he needs for now, will war with the good ache that purples her skin and will stay together enough to glue his feathers back on, after.

 

This is what they do.