Persia Whitmore pulled the delivery truck into the parking lot of the Advanced Atomic Research Laboratory. As usual, parking was at a premium. With a heavy sigh, Persia double parked her truck near the entrance that was closest to the commissary. It was early in the morning, so no one should mind.
I wouldn't be here if I hadn't dropped out of college to take that modeling job, grumbled Persia to herself.
It was an unlucky move. Persia had no idea that the so-called modeling agency she had signed up for was actually a money laundering front for a crime syndicate. When the FBI showed up and shut the business down, she lost all of her savings. Now, she was stuck with no job, no education and no money, without which she couldn't finish what she had started in college.
Her parents, who were still angry over her leaving school, refused to support her. They had told her that she had to take responsibility for her impulsive actions. Although it stung, she knew they were right.
To save money,
Persia left her
apartment, put her belongings in storage and stayed for a few weeks
at the YMCA. Then, she went job hunting. Without a bachelor's
degree, the pickings were slim. In fact, she considered herself
lucky to have gotten her current job. Once she had saved
money, she was able to move out of the Y and into a low rent apartment
in a reasonably nice neighborhood.
Persia opened the rear of the truck and pulled out her dolly. Then, she methodically began loading it up with crates of candy bars, cookies and pastries. Persia noted that with all the lifting required for this job, she had begun to tone up a bit in the upper body. Her arms, back and chest muscles were starting become well defined. Persia had long since decided to take advantage of her stay at the Y, and use the in-house exercise and fitness program. Nowadays, she was lifting amounts that she would have balked at months ago.
Persia shut the rear hatch and wheeled her heavily laden dolly into the AARL building. It was a short trip to the commissary.
"Hey, its Persia," called one of the workers in the commissary to his coworkers. "Welcome back, doll."
Persia inwardly sighed. Sexual harassment went against company policy here at AARL. However, it only applied to the female lab workers. Persia, unfortunately, was fair game for their neglected innuendos and one-liners. Apparently, the baggy coverall uniform that delivery workers for the SweetBean Candy Company were required to wear was not a deterrent.
One of her most ardent fans was leaning against the coffee dispenser next to the candy machine. "So, when did you end up back on this shift, Persia?" asked Will Green, the director of research at AARL.
"When I fell asleep at the wheel of my truck last week and nearly wrecked it," sighed Persia.
"Yikes," said Will with genuine concern.
"I guess I'm not cut out for night duty," said Persia.
"Well, for what its worth," said Will, "the guys around here sure missed you."
"Ha! I'll bet," snorted Persia.
"Seriously, they like having you around," said Will. "You talk to them unlike most delivery guys who tend to act standoffish and snobbish."
"I can't imagine why a delivery person would act snobbish," said Persia. "Our salaries are barely a tenth of what you guys make."
"Well...," began Will hesitantly, "most of the guys who deliver here deal with hazardous material, so they get paid a premium."
Persia shook her head. Hazmat was not the kind of thing she'd even consider, no matter what condition her finances were in. Persia had opened the vending machine during her conversation with Will and was busily replacing what needed replacing and filling up what was near empty.
Will glanced at the clock on the commissary wall. "Whoops, gotta get back to work. Talk to you tomorrow, okay?"
"Sure," said Persia. She didn't know what Will was really going on about. He was the only one who spoke civil to her, despite the occasional derogatory pet names. Truth be told, she rather enjoyed talking with Will, though she'd be loathed to admit it to him. She even thought he was kind of cute, for a lagomorph. She wasn't sure what it was about him that was attractive. The long ears, the fuzzy tail, the nose that twitched when he was amused by something. The eyeglasses and the lab coat weren't doing much for him.
Persia shook her head, wondering why she was even thinking about Will. She had work to do
* * *
Carl Fosby had been under a lot of pressure. There was the
divorce, the higher insurance premiums, and now, two years of back
taxes owed to the government. He thought that his troubles
over when he got a loan through his second cousin. He later
out that his second cousin had an interesting idea about reminding his
clients regarding repayment. Two large bovines had met him at
front stoop one morning. They made it perfectly clear what
happen to him if he didn't pay the money back plus interest.
Fosby was desperate to find some quick way of making cash to pay off
That was when he came up with a plan to sell one of the top secret
projects at the lab to one of their competitors. Orpheus
Chemicals had offered a large sum that would solve all his
problems. There was a new project that was going on in the
security lab. However, being in charge of security at AARL
eliminated that obstacle. Fosby was able to program the
shut down for a short period of time, allowing him to slip in, grab a
sample of whatever it was they were working on, and slip out before the
security system kicked back in again. Everything had been
smoothly so far as he eased in during the morning break.
Unfortunately, what he hadn't known was that the project sample was an
aqueous solution of a new synthetic radioisotope. As soon as
Fosby stepped into the hallway, the radiation alarms began blaring
their warning of radiation contamination in the building.
was when Fosby decided to run for it.
Persia had just finished loading up the pastry machine when an alarm
She decided to take a peek outside the commissary to see if there was a
fire or something. As she stepped out into the hall, she saw
chameleon in a two piece suit running toward her. He seemed
carrying a glass container with some kind of neon pink liquid inside
it. Persia suddenly realized that the liquid was glowing.
"Hey, buddy," she called to the chameleon. "What's all the
The chameleon, who had up to this point had been watching behind him,
turned around at the sound of Persia's voice. Since he had
running at top speed down the long hallway, he found it near impossible
to stop. Fosby collided head on into the candy delivery
girl. The glass jar in his hands shattered between
Several shards of glass cut deep into his stomach and chest as well as
his hands. The glowing pink goop had splashed all over the
of them. The impact had knocked Persia onto her tail.
"You bastard," she yelled, "why don't you watch where you're going!?"
looked at her service coveralls and saw that they were stained heavily
with pink slime. "Crap. The boss is gonna kill
You're paying for the cleaning bill, buster."
Persia noticed the the chameleon in the suit wasn't paying her any
attention. There was a strange glazed look in his
seemed to be swaying back and forth on his feet.
"Hey, pal, you okay?" asked Persia a little cautiously. "I
you need to see a doctor about those cuts. Don't you guys
clinic here or something?"
At that moment, several people in radiation suits came scrambling down
the hall. Two were carrying what looked like a bucket with a
sealed lid. Persia guessed that the bucket was made of lead
the way the two men barely managed to carry it. She
one of the radiation suits as Will Green.
Will stopped dead in his tracks at he caught sight of the
accident. "Aw, crap," he said in a barely audible whisper.
"Holy mother of pearl!" shouted one of the men with the lead
bucket. "The omega's been spilled! We gotta
"Calm down, Grant," said Will. "Get a hazmat team down here
the double. I want this whole section cordoned off."
"What about them?" asked another.
Suddenly, Fosby screamed as if in tortured agony and collapsed on the
floor. This really freaked Persia. She looked at
yelled, "What the hell was in that jar?"
Will walked over to Persia and carefully lifted her off of the
floor. "I'm sorry, Persia," he said with a pained
expression. It made him look years older. "I never
have thought something like this would happen."
"You didn't answer my question," she accused.
One of the other men had walked over to the chameleon and was checking
his vital signs. "He's gone," he said flatly.
Persia was stunned. Her jaw started to work out a question,
no sound came from her mouth. The apparent medic in the
suit stood and looked at Will. "We need to get her into
"Right," said Will.
Persia looked at Will Green, but he wouldn't look her in the
"Will, what's going on? What's happening?"
The doctor and another rad suit grabbed Persia by both arms and began
to haul her up the corridor.
"Damn it, Will," screamed Persia. "Answer me!"
Her curses were heard as she was literally dragged all the way to the
end of the hall, until they were cut off by a sound proof
Will had winced as each invective reached his ears. It wasn't
fair. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do.
the greater population to think about.
They had locked her in a room with no windows, a single bed, a chair,
and a rather large mirror. Persia had seen enough cop shows
to know that the mirror was in fact a silvered one way observation
window. Later, two women in radiation suits came in with a
dressing screen and forced Persia to remove both her coveralls and her
clothing, including her undergarments. Then, another woman
brought in a portable shower, and they directed her to wash up
thoroughly. After Persia had showered and toweled herself dry
best she could, they gave her an oversized smock to wear. The
three women left the room, taking her clothes, the screen and the
portable shower with them. Persia was still a little damp
her fur was difficult to dry with a mere towel. She longed
hair dryer, especially for her tail, which had lost its characteristic
body due to the dampness.
She was scared. But more importantly, she was majorly
pissed. Not one of the women would answer her
They kept their faces passive, but Persia could tell they were keeping
something important from her. Something that could mean her
life was in jeopardy. Just then, the door opened.
Green stepped in still wearing his radiation suit. Persia saw
and reached to strike him, but apparently he was ready for her reaction
to his presence and blocked each hit she attempted. When she
worn herself out, Persia simply sat on the bed and glared intense
hatred at him.
Will took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "It's time you
knew what's going on," he started.
"It's long since past that," snarled Persia vehemently.
"I'm really sorry about what's happened," said Will.
"For cryin' out loud, stop saying that and get to the point," shouted
Persia. Her nerves were a frazzle, and she was about ready to
start taking a few more swings at Will.
"The man you ran into was our head of security," said Will in preamble.
"Was?" prompted Persia.
"He's...dead," admitted Will.
"I kind of gathered that," said Persia, "but I wanted to be
So, am I going to die, too?"
"We...don't really know," said Will uncertainly.
"What the hell do you mean, you don't really know?" growled
Persia. Now was not the time for Will to choose to be
"Fosby was carrying a new radioisotope we dubbed omega radiation," said
Will. "We don't know what all it does just yet.
studying it. Apparently, Fosby died because of direct blood
poisoning when the glass from the container cut him. Your
protected you from the glass, so you only received a small dose through
the skin. We don't know what that will do to you.
mean that it will take longer for you to...well..."
Persia blinked. Will was getting choked up. She
believe that he was really upset over this, and not because of the
damage to their top secret project, but because he was actually
concerned about her. Persia couldn't help but be touched by
this. Still, it didn't change the fact that she was most
this happened to
me, she thought with gallows humor. Crappy
stuff like this happens all the time. Like that time I locked
that mouse in the vending machine. One of our customers ended
with an enraged rodent instead of his favorite candy bar. We
almost got sued, and I nearly lost my job.
"Look, I've contacted the authorities about this," said Will.
lot of people were against it, but we have a responsibility to the
community to tell the truth. There'll be an
Some doctors will want to have a look at you, but you are under no
obligation to submit to anything. You still have your rights."
"Well, of course I want to see a doctor," said Persia. "I
know what's going to happen to me."
"Is there anyone you'd like to call?" asked Will.
Persia thought about her parents. She shook her
thought that they deserved a break from all the grief she had put them
through thus far. Telling them that she might die would be
than knowing for certain.
"Well, I'll see about getting you something to eat," said
He started to leave.
"Hey, do me a favor, Will," said Persia.
"Sure," said Will. "Anything."
"Call my boss and tell him to come pick up the truck," said
Persia. "Tell him...I'll be taking some serious sick leave
while, but don't tell him why, okay?"
Will nodded. "I'll get right on it."
After Will had left, Persia sighed. What a lousy way to go,
quarantined room with nobody to talk to who isn't wearing a chunky rad
suit. She leaned back on the bed and decided to
thought sourly, maybe I
up and my whole crummy life will finally be over.
Persia had been in quarantine for almost a month, now. Still, there seemed to be no effects from the radioisotope that had been spilled down her front. If anything, she felt better than she had in a long time. It was as if a constant malaise that had been plaguing her all her life had suddenly been lifted. She had been able to convince her benefactors to allow her to decorate the room a bit so she wouldn't go mad staring at the same four walls painted in battleship gray.
A portable toilet
had been installed for her convenience along with the portable shower
she had used earlier. This time she was able to wrangle a
dryer from a sympathetic equine doctor who had the same problem with
her mane. It was battery powered, since there were no
outlets of any kind in the room. She had been outfitted with
small wardrobe of clothes, which made her feel more relaxed as opposed
to the constant nervousness brought on by the smock. She
felt like she was waiting for surgery wearing that thing.
Persia felt like a science project with all of the doctors and
radiation specialists poking and prodding her. She gave blood
samples twice a day and urine samples once every other day.
they convinced her to give a stool sample. She had no idea
they were planning to do with it and refused to give any more
considering how disgusted she was over the whole thing.
A knock came at
the door. That was another recent change. Suddenly,
everyone was knocking and asking permission to enter. It
Persia the first time it happened.
"Come in," said
Persia. "I'm decent."
cautiously into the room. Persia smiled. It was a
coincidental choice of words. A week before, Will had come in
just as she was stepping out of the shower. She was too
his reaction to be mad at him at the time, and after later reflection
it was downright hilarious. Will had blushed beet red, which
hard to do with a face full of fur. He tried to stammer out
apology and failed miserably. He kept trying to stare at her
face, and failed to do that as well. Then, he beat a hasty
retreat out of the room. She didn't see him again for two
days. It was the day after that incident that people began
knocking before entering.
"Hey, Will," said
Persia cheerfully. She was always happy to see him.
life outside the petri dish?"
Persia had been
calling her room, the petri dish because she had once commented that
she felt like she was under a microscope. "This is hardly a
dish," was Will's response. Since then, the name
even got around to some of the other doctors and scientists who visited
her. Persia noticed an enthusiasm in Will's demeanor that she
didn't know he was capable of. He had always seemed stuffy to
her, even when he was just shooting the breeze with her in the
commissary. Now, he was rocking back and forth on his feet
grinning madly. It was infectious.
Persia stifling a self conscious giggle.
"I've got some
great news," said Will.
It was then that
Persia noticed something amazingly peculiar about Will. He
smaller than he usually was. He was wearing a white shirt
brown and orange, floral patterned tie, brown slacks...and no radiation suit!
"Hey, no suit,"
said Will. "You're free to go."
It took a moment
or two for this declaration to sink in. Suddenly, Persia
and started dancing around the room. "I'm free!" she
She grabbed Will around the waist and hugged him while still spinning
about the room. Will's grin slowly faded into a look of
it," he shouted.
asked Persia bewildered by Will's sudden change of mood. She
looked down and saw Will's feet dangling in the air.
gained a couple of pounds," said Will. "Could you put me
set Will back on the floor. "Wow, what an adrenaline
I must have been dying to get out of here worse than I thought," she
"I guess," said
Will's face. "What?"
Will shook his
head as if to clear it. "Nothing," said Will.
you one last once over, and then, you can go home."
Persia. "Can't I skip this one?"
Will smiled and
shook his head. "We need to be thorough."
"You just like
torturing me, that's all," said Persia.
Will chuckled and
led Persia out the door. The air in the hallway smelled fresh
cool. Persia hadn't realized just how stuffy it had gotten in
quarantine room. They walked to the clinic on the other side
the building. Persia noticed that Will had held her hand the
whole way there. She smiled to herself and said nothing.
As they entered
the clinic, a short heavy-set primate looked up from her desk of
reports. "Ah, the tower prisoner escapes at last," said Dr.
Marlina Mendez with a friendly smile.
Mendez. I'm here for my last checkup," said Persia.
released his hold on Persia's hand when Dr. Mendez had surreptitious
glanced downward. She said nothing, but a knowing look
"Not the last,
I'm afraid," said Dr. Mendez.
"We'll still want
to monitor the long term effects of the isotope, if there are any,"
said Dr. Mendez cautiously. "I'd like to see you once a week
the next month. If everything goes well, we'll change it to
a month for the next six months, followed by once every other month for
I thought everything was fine?" asked Persia feeling a little
betrayed. She should have known things were too good to be
fine," said Dr. Mendez maintaining a patiently calm exterior.
"However, we want to know if there will be any long term effects from
the isotope, as I said. Will your fur fall out one year down
road? Is your life expectancy shortened in any kind of
Will you be more susceptible to illness? Will you still be
to bear children?" At this last, Dr. Mendez glanced at
Will. This time, it was Persia's turn to blush.
you are in tip top condition. Everything is in working order,
people who have suffered exposure to radiation have developed long term
problems. Sometimes, they don't show up for a couple
decades. Sometimes, they don't show up until the next
generation. We want to be absolutely sure you've suffered no
lasting cell damage."
nodded. "That makes sense, I guess."
Dr. Mendez smiled
broadly. "Good." She looked at Will.
I've got work to do."
Will smiled and
nodded. He gave Persia's hand a quick squeeze and left the
taken to you since you've been here," said Dr. Mendez.
"Looking back, I
think he'd taken to me, as you put it, about a year ago," said Persia
looking back at the closed door.
stopped in the middle of prepping an examination table. "A
"That's when I
started filling the vending machine in the commissary here," said
Persia. "He was always chatting me up. At first, it
basic stuff. One-liners and such. I assumed it was
dare from his cohorts. After a while, he began talking like a
normal person. I guess I eventually started responding."
chuckled. "That's very interesting."
"I would have
thought he would have fallen prey to the husband hunters working on
staff here," said Dr. Mendez.
"I thought you
guys had a strict sexual harassment policy here. I read one
the pamphlets somebody dropped in the commissary."
chuckled again. "That only applies if one or more of the
involved agree that it's sexual harassment. If you don't
anything, it doesn't exist. Quite a logical loophole
all of the legal wrangling that went into developing that policy."
smiled. "Good point."
"Anyway, a lot of
the new residents and grad students who work here part time are
female," continued Dr. Mendez. "Apparently, more women are
getting into the sciences these days. They come here and
out the young, upwardly mobile permanent male staff for prospective
mates. I was certain one of those gold diggers would have
her claws into him by now. But, as usual, Will Green defies
Persia had a
pretty good notion what that statement meant. She herself
that there was a lot more to Will than what met the eye.
said Dr. Mendez, "strip down to your skivvies, and we'll have a look at
* * *
Persia was elated
that her boss had kept her job open for her. Her landlord had
also been holding her apartment to the point of waiving last month's
rent. She got the feeling that the people from AARL had spun
sob story about her being on death's doorstep without actually going
into details. It didn't take long for things to return to
normal. At least, what passed for normal in Persia's
Still, odd things had started happening to her about a week after she
returned to her humdrum life.
At the Y, she
found herself lifting more and more weight. She was even
more repetitions. Even so, she couldn't seem to break a sweat
she usually did. It was starting to worry her. She
noticed that she could lift much more weight onto the dolly from her
delivery truck. One time, she actually lifted a vending
that had started to tip over on a kid who had been shaking the machine
when he didn't get what he wanted. Luckily, he was in such a
that he hadn't seen her do it. It was starting to scare
little. She knew that she should report these goings on to
Mendez, but she was afraid of what the doctor might find out.
week held another surprise for her. As she was filling
near a paper warehouse, one of the giant rolls of paper had gotten
loose and rolled toward her. She didn't realize what was
until someone screamed at her to get out of the way. It was,
then, way too late. The impact of the one ton roll of paper
crushed the vending machines. Glass and plastic went flying
everywhere as a horrendous crunch reverberated throughout the
room. Persia found herself part way beneath the mammoth roll
newsprint. Still, it wasn't crushing her. In fact,
found that she could easily lift the roll off of her. When
workers found her, they were dumbfounded as to explain how she survived
without a scratch.
guardian angel is watching over me," she said. She made a
of sounding shaken, which wasn't difficult. Not because of
near brush with death, but because she knew why she wasn't
Guardian angels had no play in the matter whatsoever. It took
long time to persuade the newspaper company that she was not going to
sue. She certainly didn't want that headache after what she'd
already been through at AARL. Still, the newspaper insisted
paying her hush money to the tune of two hundred fifty thousand
dollars. She decided to give up, sign a legal affidavit and
Persia noted that
her old self would probably have milked the incident for all it was
worth, but then, she probably would have been a grease spot on the
the printing room, too.
The next week
that followed led to another shock. As she was refilling a
machine at the top of a high rise building, a disgruntled ex-staffer
chose that moment to wreak havoc on his former place of
employment. Unlucky for Persia, she was standing between him
and his former coworkers. Rather, it should be said, luckily
had been standing there. Deaths had been averted when bullets
from a semi-automatic military assault rifle bounced off of Persia and
embedded themselves harmlessly into the walls, ceiling and
Several windows were shattered, but no one had been hit.
The gunman's jaw
dropped in astonishment as he stood dumbfounded staring at
Persia. Persia decided to take advantage of his lapse and
up to him. She slowly grabbed hold of the rifle barrel and,
before he could react, twisted it so that it pointed back at the
gunman. Then she quietly rolled her dolly to the elevator,
a car and left. When the elevator doors shut, the gunman
himself pounced upon by several angry former coworkers.
sitting at home with her feet put up on the arm of the sofa.
had an ice pack on her head. Although she had no injuries per se,
she had one whopper of a headache. Now, she was convinced
she should see Dr. Mendez before her next scheduled
First, however, she had to make a phone call.
* * *
Will Green's nose
twitched as he watched an interesting turn of events. He had
doing studies of the effects of the omega isotope on living
tissue. Nine time out of ten, the cells mutated to the point
where they could no longer survive. Ten percent of his
however, remained the same in appearance. Their
on the other hand, was amazingly different. The cells had an
amazing ability to repair themselves far above and beyond normal
cells. They extracted energy from food with very little waste.
carefully jotting down notes on his latest findings when the phone
rang. Will quickly finished up the sentence he was writing
dashed for the receiver.
"Will, we need to
Will could tell
from the sound of Persia's voice that something was definitely
wrong. They had been dating on and off ever since she had
AARL, and he found that he could read her moods quite well.
"What's the matter?" he asked with concern. "Are you showing
abnormal symptoms? Should I get Dr. Mendez?"
"Will, I'm fine,"
said Persia. "Well, that is to say, I'm not experiencing any
the symptoms I'm supposed to be looking out for, but I think there's
definitely been a change."
"What kind of
change?" asked Will.
"It's hard to
describe," said Persia. "My energy has been really up lately,
I've been eating more food. More than I ever have.
been getting stronger, too."
"And by stronger
you mean...," prompted Will.
"You know those
giant rolls of newsprint the Gazette uses to print its newspapers?"
"Well, one of 'em
rolled right over me," said Persia. "I wasn't even
All I had to do was lift it."
stammered Will, "those things weigh a ton!"
something I don't know," quipped Persia. "Will, I'm
I don't know what's happening to me."
grabbed his notepad and began reading through his past notes regarding
the studies of the surviving ten percent of living cells that were
exposed to the omega isotope. A cold feeling began to crawl
Persia, "what's wrong? You got silent all of a
not a good silence, either."
"Where are you?"
"I'm at home,"
said Persia. "Why?"
"I'm coming over
there," said Will.
things from me Will," said Persia. "Am I gonna be sick?"
opposite, I think," said Will. "I'll explain when I get
there. There's something I want to show you."
It didn't take
long for Will to get to Persia's apartment. He was pacing up
down the living room looking tense.
pacing Will," complained Persia. "I've got a big enough
as it is."
perusing Will's notes from his latest research. Some of it
beyond her, but much of it she was able to puzzle out. "So,
you're saying I've become some kind of superhuman?"
"I'm not sure,"
said Will, "but from what you've told me, everything certainly matches
the research I've been following."
"Could this stuff
be made into some kind of medicine to help people?" asked Persia.
"I doubt it,"
said Will with a grim look. "Omega radioisotope is ninety
fatal. If you gave it to one hundred people, ninety of them
die horribly painful deaths. Remember what happened to
Fosby. Not to mention, the stuff is exorbitantly expensive
is extremely unstable. It has a very quick half life."
structure breaks down quickly into more stable, and more harmless,
material," explained Will.
"Then maybe all
this will work out of my system," said Persia hopefully.
Will shook his
head. "It would have done that two months ago if that was the
"So, I've become
a freak of nature," sighed Persia. "Wonderful."
"You're still the
same Persia," offered Will. "Maybe there are physical
but you're still you. And it looks like the isotope hasn't
you in any way. According to Dr. Mendez. you're progressively
healthier now than you were when she first examined you."
"Yeah, but why
me?" asked Persia. "I didn't ask for this."
sighed. "I wish there was something I could do, but there
Will," said Persia looking up at him. "I don't mean to be
Will managed a
smile. "That's okay. You're entitled."
Persia felt she
needed a hug really badly. She stood, encircled her arms
and leaned her head against his chest. She could hear the
of his heart. Will sighed again, but this was a sigh of
contentment, noted Persia. She closed her eyes for a few
before she heard Will gasp. Persia's eyes snapped
some odd reason, the ceiling looked closer then usual. In
the tips of Will's ears were touching it.
thought Persia to herself.
She risked a
glance downward and saw the floor was a a good three feet below
them. They were floating
commented, "you really know how to sweep a girl off her feet, Will."
replied Will, "in this case, it's the other way around."
exactly how she got them up in the air, and how she was going to get
them back down again. As soon as she thought about reaching
floor, they slowly began to descend.
"It's okay," said
Persia. "I think I'm controlling it."
"That's very good
to hear," said Will. "I'm not exactly fond of heights."
Persia with a small smile. "Imagine that."
When their feet
touched the floor once more, Will breathed out in relief. His
nervousness made Persia laugh.
smiled. "It's good to hear you laugh, Persia."
"You always know
how to make me laugh, Will," said Persia.
"I couldn't make
you laugh when you first started filling the vending machines at AARL,"
being yourself, then," said Persia.
"You knew that
all along, didn't you?" asked Will.
nodded. "You're tough to read, but that was pretty clear."
maintained their embrace.
"Would you stay
with me tonight?"
"I'd be nuts not to."
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