He started off at an easy pace and she fell in beside him. His injured leg rarely bothered him anymore, but the metal plates and screws were there to repair some serious damage. His mobility and speed had improved a lot in the last five months, but he was never going to be a long-distance runner.
She, on the other hand, moved like a gazelle, effortless and graceful. They ran side by side for about a mile, and when it became clear she was holding back for him, he waved her on and trotted over to the water cooler.
She picked up the pace and ran another mile, ending with a quarter-mile sprint. She backpedaled to a stop and drew a cup of water.
He whistled. “You’ve been holding out on me.”
She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “How?”
“You never said you could run like that.”
“It never came up.” She paced as she cooled off, hands on her hips. “Wow, that felt good. The only thing that’s missing now is the sun. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I understand why there aren’t any windows in this place, and I love knowing that I have room to run, but I’m still shut away.”
“Now that you mention it …. Come on, follow me.”
He led the way up the stairs until they emerged in a rooftop solarium. The sunlight dazzled her eyes even under the tinted glass dome. “Wow!”
“Yeah, it’s great up here.”
He slid open the louvers in one of the windows, and fresh, chilly winter air rushed in. She breathed in blissfully and hugged herself. Then she wandered around the perimeter of the roof and gazed out over the quadrant from every angle. “I didn’t realize we were right in the middle of everything.”
He wrapped his arms around her from behind, and she leaned against him the way she had the first day they met, the top of her head fitting perfectly under his chin. Before them lay the panorama of the capital city.
She sighed. “It’s so pretty.”
“Yeah. Looks can be deceiving, huh?” She nodded, and he changed the topic. “Christmas was a couple of days ago.”
“Yeah. I know most of the holidays have been downplayed until we don’t really celebrate anymore, but I loved Christmas when I was little. I’ve been saving a gift, but today seems like a better day to give it to you.”
“I don’t have anything to give you in return.”
“Last time I gave this to you, I told you I was going to make everything all right. I won’t make that kind of promise again, but I want you to know that I’ll stand by you, no matter what happens.”
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