Every second counts, and he knows that. The sound, the speed, the distance. Your breathing as strong as your breadth, hope as strong as your heart, the beat timing every leap and bound.
And he's able to hope, these days. As he fights, as he loves, as he learns. It used to be hate that was his fuel, and that felt literal, like it only took one small spark to light the fire in his eyes. He'd set off baring his teeth, cruel smiles and sharp fists. He was all sharp, all of him, like a glass full of spiderweb cracks that you couldn't hold too tight. Now he felt sealed up, able to hold things without them leaking out, able to fill up with things less sudden than adrenaline.
Though, he'd admit, that often filled his veins.
That night there was the *hope* that he would make it rather than just a need to, and his first thought was to protect, not to kill. All sealed up, he could hold a trust in himself.
She could handle herself, of course. But that didn't matter, as he wasn't joining in to prove anything... only to be there. Just for fun and just in case. And maybe to sew her twirls and feints, the way she darted forward and struck so quick-poibtedly, beauty like lightning in a city of metal. The feral boy was tamed, sealed and healed, yes. But he still liked a good fight, and a girl with sharp fists like his.
'Run. Fight. Make the beasts bleed.' The boy chanted in the back of his mind, and he felt the smile tugging at his mouth. 'Fine,' he told the boy, 'let's play. Your smile will match her better anyway.' And in the end, the boy was him. He was half and half but now a third, a person all sealed up. Apples don't fall far.
Tonight his steps were one too late; he watched from the rooftop as she felled the last of them, a quick slash across its throat with fingers grown long and wickedly curved, talons that dripped the creature's blood. She looked up at him with a night-owl's eyes, cocking her head as if to say that the show was over.
The boy was left unsatisfied tonight. 'Next time,' he promised, as he dropped silently from the roof. She picked her way through the corpses to stroke her sharp hand down his cheek.
As they kissed, one of her still-pointed teeth nicked his tongue. He tasted blood, and remembered being all spiderweb edges.