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155 Words: Unarmed

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... so pale in the pale bed, his hair a nightshade against the pillow, his hand half-curved over his ribs. He's staring out the window, where snow-laden birches in the hospital park reach in threat or entreaty after the rising moon.


She sits down at his right. Although it would bring her into his field of vision, she's unprepared to intrude on the heartstopping vacancy at his other side.

"I'm sorry it took me some days," she says. "They wouldn't tell me which hospital, even which city—"

Alex shrugs. "I told them to tell you not to bother."

Slowly, he turns to face her.

It was always their way: words smoothed to shields to minimize the risk of betrayal. But his face is the traitor to him now.

She drops her guard. Naked as his eyes, she takes his hand, pressing it hard to her lips.

"That's okay," she whispers. "I knew what you meant."