Her words floated aimlessly in the stillness that was threaded between them once again. She held her breath, waiting - that's all it ever was, a game of waiting.
“Please, Alex… You’re all I have left,” Cora begged.
Alex didn’t want to have her beg him, ever. That’s all he’d ever known, living at the lab. Begging for more to eat, begging for just one more blanket, begging to not have to share a room with monsters that scared him at night.
Always begging to take the so-called antidote that reversed the effects, but instead receiving higher, lethal doses of the liquid that put a fire in his lungs and singed the skin on his back.
“Don’t you know that I can’t, Cora?” Alex’s whisper escaped on his exhale, as a warning. “You would run away from me if you knew what I was. I’m nothing but a monster.”
“Alex, you’re not a monster! You’re different, you’re special. I just want to – ugh, I can’t explain any of this without sounding totally obsessed and crazy… Here goes nothing.”
“It was only a handful of minutes, Doctor R assured me, but it had felt like an eternity. I was forced to endure this, for eight weeks, twice a day, for the specialization to take effect. It was the most horrific thing I had to go through. The first week went by and I sprouted four inches in height. Two weeks had gone by so terribly slow, but I gained the anticipated reflexes and taut, wiry muscles. At three weeks I had an increased core temperature. Four weeks, and the stumps of my leathery wings had begun to take shape in my back. Five weeks, and my teeth were sharpening to little points. Six weeks, and my eyes had changed color to the haunting yellow they are now.”
The two caught each other's gaze, both holding it steadily as if it were a life line. Cora, unaware she was doing it, stretched her hand out to Alex, even though she could close the distance in two strides or less. But there was hope in her that wasn't present before, that maybe he'd reach out and build a bridge with her.