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The smile is relieved. Unguarded. Thane watches the new creases in her face, the interplay of alien muscle and skin that makes more sense, in this moment, than his ability to breathe.

He has indulged in one, small cowardice. He never watched the vids of Earth. He watched Palaven, felt the same helpless sense of witness that filled anyone in Huerta with eyes to see, but he turned away from Earth. Imagination was bad enough, without perfect images to feed it.

Block his eyes until he hears her name amongst the numbered dead.

A simple selfishness.

And she smiles at him instead. Wordless. Tension falling from her in pieces: jaw to shoulder, shoulder to fingertips. She never could give up her wariness all at once.

Thank you, siha. This is a better memory.