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only the smallness of a wildly marbled moon

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For months they do not sleep together. They hold hands tight enough to dirty their nails with blood and they kiss each other on the throat and they fuck slow and tender in the lamplight. Intimacy is easy. Sleeping is hard.

*

Root sees herself electric, winds herself around Sameen's soft, scarred body, fingertips glancing the silvery patches of healed skin until it's all the same kind of delicate to her. She should be scanning, watching for some disturbance in the dark, but she never is. What she does is watch Sam's face as it gentles in sleep. In this light she is unguarded and fragile to the touch.

She is beautiful, and Root will not tear herself away.

Sam's breaths slower in sleep mingle with the whirr of information that never slows through Root's synapses; she could see the world, but her vision is narrowed to this point, barely visible in the dark, Sam's eyelashes shadowed across her cheeks.

Root does not sleep. She holds a knife under her pillow and lets her body dissolve.

*

Sam lies with her body stretched as far as it will go, muscles taut under her skin and she is touching Root with every part of her left side. She can see the ceiling, see the window, if she raises her neck an inch she can watch the door. But she is touching Root, and Root tries to dislodge it, twitching constantly in her sleep as though she is never switched off, just on standbye, electrics still humming behind her eyes.

She nightmares her time away, feels herself split open a thousand times and a thousand ways, bullets carving up her chest and belly until the world pours through the holes. She could be the shield for something better, and she is then covering Root's tender parts with her stretched body and ready to die again for reasons she can't name. She covets, protects, holds this dangerous creature with her body; if she is not feeling then she is trying to make her touch deep enough to simulate it. The deeper the simulation the closer to true it gets.

There are three guns within easy reach, and she will make the world smile around the barrels.

*

Neither of them rest, really. They dream blankly, grip each other, hunger for something primal and dark they should not have a taste for. Women, or blinding, clawed creatures, they play at tender but remain tense. Daylight will flood their skin eventually.

When it does, one of them will always be twitching awake, hand closed around a weapon and wearing her lover's sweat, not expecting reprieve.