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There were several things that could have explained Yuri Karamov's red cheeks. One was that he appeared to be winded from running up the stairs, which would indicate some physical exertion. But it could have just as easily been from the frigid November cold, and several other factors pertaining to his physiology.

Yet no valid reason came to mind when his whole body seemed to sigh in relief upon seeing me, to the point where his head slumped against the doorframe.

His breaths filled the room.

- You haven't left.

Hope, despicable hope, fluttered awake in my chest. I pushed it back down. Don't be stupid.

- I'm just leaving, I informed him, straightening my back. I still held his shirt in my hands. The longer I held the fabric, the heavier it felt. Did I put it on or leave it?

The screaming orange colour drew his gaze downwards.

- That's mine...I mean...you can use it. There's...some blood on your collar from last night.

I looked down at where his fingers had indicated, and sure enough, there, on the right-side corner, was a splatter of red dots. Sighing, I slipped out of my shirt.

- Why? Yuri asked me.

I didn't look over at him, for fear of my hands doing that weird fidgety thing they did when I became aware of his body in relation to mine. Especially, when I stood before him, half naked. I pulled the shirt over my head and dared a glance out of the corner of my eye. He wasn't even looking at me. His eyes were downcast. He closed the door behind him and walked over to his desk.

- Why what? I asked.

Yuri pulled out a chair and took a seat.

He looked up at me. - Why are you leaving? You don't plan on eating breakfast?

- Is it time for breakfast? I asked. I slipped my hands through the sleeves and tugged the shirt down over my torso.

- I don't really have a watch on me, I explained.

I couldn't find the sun in the sky, it was behind a perpetual shroud of clouds, yet something told me it was closer to noon than morning. I had never felt this upheaved from reality before. It was as if I resided in a vacuum chamber. I didn't like it. I didn't like the feeling of not knowing what time it was. Moreover, I didn't like how stupid it made me feel. What kind of man didn't have a watch on him?

- You really don't look like yourself, Yuri commented after taking a long look at me. In retrospect, he seemed happy. No, perhaps not happy, but certainly content.

I flinched. - You don't say? What gave it away, the bruising or this hideous shirt? I asked, tugging to examine the faded swirls of the motif. My face scrunched up at the sight.

Yuri laughed. - No, I don't mean it like that-, he quieted as if reconsidering his words, - Okay, the shirt, he agreed after a beat.

- It makes your bruises look worse.

- Thanks, I deadpanned.

-What's frugumnar? Your mother made that.

- Is that what she's making? Yuri's smile grew somber.

- What's wrong?

- I think she forgot that you don't eat meat. He scratched the back of his head, apologetically. I let out a soft chuckle in relief.

Neither of us dared to verbally acknowledge the fact that I hadn't been here; in his room, in his house, in over four years. The threat of our fragile co-existence capsizing was too great.

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