17: SURFACING

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I more forced myself to the surface of consciousness than woke up.

Distantly I recognized I was in a hospital, but as was routine with this sort of thing, those were not the first thoughts I allowed to cross through my mind.

My name is Rebel, I work for LASAR, I am part of Team Alpha--

A nurse peeking in on me stopped me from finishing the line of thought. I focused on her coolly, watching as she hummed in surprise before stepping inside. "You have a visitor, sir," she informed me with a too-chipper smile and false enthusiasm that made me want to scowl.

"Who?" I asked, ignoring how scratchy my voice sounded.

She forced her smile to stay in place. "I believe she said her name was Risk." That was all she said before she left my room, and she was swiftly replaced by the one face in the world I knew above all else. Her hair was the same, pixie-length I was used to, and though the clothes themselves I didn't recognized, their leather nature I did; her every movement was familiar.

"How long was I down?" I asked as she sat on the hospital bed beside me.

It took less than a fraction of a second for me to notice the bruising across her collarbone; the way her short sleeves revealed yellowing bruises predominantly across her left arm. A new, fresh scar was forming across her left bicep as well, and I calmly categorized it away with all of her other injuries that I knew so well.

Her familiar smirk, however, was not in place. But I knew the look in her eyes -- something big had happened. "A month and a half."

I nodded once in understanding. "And we'll talk in the car," I finished for her, a small, knowing smile tugging at my  lips.

After all, it may have been bad, but at least we were still at each other's sides.

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