He can faintly remember cuddling a girl on the rocks by the beach, an outing turning into something very close to a slice of eternity. All sense of time is lost as they listen to the waves, his love trying to forget, even for just a moment, that they’re stuck in the middle of a colony of psychopaths and that pretty much their whole city is depending on them escaping with their lives and the few hostages that haven’t been assimilated beyond reversal, even by Soona Brisian standards.
“Rishen?” She opens her eyes, unable to quiet her racing mind. “About last night-”
“Sorry about accidentally hurting you,” he whispers. “I-” Something catches in his throat. “I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was certain in that one moment that the bird-people were coming for us, that they were going to assimilate us.”
She remembers how they once almost drowned at a beach like this, how they were so innocent back then, nothing but a cheap seventh-grade imitation of love between them. “And why would they bother?”
“I don’t know. That’s what they did to Hannah and her friend.”


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