Day 81: Collateral

Rooster got his nickname in basic, when his cowlick wouldn’t lay down no matter how much he wet it. He’s got twenty-two confirmed kills, highest in the squad. He shifts into murder gear with music, the pounding, screeching beat of dark metal defining the soulless, thousand-yard stare that keeps everyone away.

Everyone except me. I’ve seen that harrowing blankness on the daily. But I’ve seen him come back into himself after lights-out, when he’s just Josh. His eyes get glittery and soft, then, and he melts, reaching for me, whispering tender things, humming Mariah or Taylor Swift against my skin.

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