Looking up, Win saw Jal.
And he looked half dead.
His hand was already outstretched, and Win took it wordlessly, letting him lift her to a standing position. He was tall and thin, but his posture made it so that he only stood a little higher than Win; his eyes were probably level with the top of her head. His eyes refused to meet Win's. "Thin" didn't seem right either. He was starving. The way his ribs stuck out against his skin created shadows under each one, holes below his chest. It was like they were trying to escape his body. Nothing like he had looked before.
Silently he turned away, briefly glancing up--then, whipping his head away, he brushed between two of the Mothers and out of the torchlight.
Win had to remind herself to breathe. To her right, Tessa whispered.
"He's..." Her voice was stone cold. "He's different, Win. Stay away from him."
Different. He... He was.
Tessa's hand touched Win's, lifting it up. Win looked down. The food.
Win ignored her, ignored her own thoughts, walking after Jal's retreating figure. Tessa muttered a warning, but Win brushed it off. She needed to hear him speak. To know that he was alive. Before, he had seemed alive, so alive--just hidden, like his smile. Where was that life now? What had his Solitude done to his eyes?
Searching, Win tried to spot him among the black robes of the Mothers. He was nowhere. Where was he?
There, near the exit, disappearing. The Mothers weaved back and forth between them, and Win stepped forward, slipping between each in turn, toward the blackness he had vanished into.
A hand grabbed Win's wrist, jerking her to a stop. Mother.
"Child," Mother said with rehearsed serenity, "He has made an action against the peace. He must repent." Her hand pried Win's fingers open like Tessa had moments before. Mother placed two more strips of meat alongside Win's portion.
"These are yours now. Eat." Mother said.
Win didn't ignore.
Author Notes: It's been a short while, but here's a short segment. Hope you liked it!