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Elizabeth followed after Jack, who took her silent agreement and reached Diane first. She turned to face him but quickly glossed over Jack for Elizabeth.
“Oh, Elizabeth, you’re safe! Thank G–” Diane caught herself, wringing her hands. “I’m just real glad, that’s all.”
Elizabeth stood at Diane’s side, sliding her arm in her friend’s to offer support. At first, she was met with surprise, then… Diane smiled, even if that didn’t reach her eyes, and she relaxed against Elizabeth. The scarring on her face and neck, going below her neckline, were faint at a distance, but this close…
Jack stayed quiet, keeping an eye on their surroundings instead.
“I’m perfectly fine, Diane. Is there any way my friend and I can help you?” Elizabeth gestured to Jack, who nodded politely and looked away.
Nervous, perhaps… Diane was Ryan’s girlfriend to him and that was reason enough to be distant. She squeezed Diane’s hand reassuringly, drawing her attention back to Elizabeth. “Do you have a safe place to stay?”
“I…” Her breath caught. Diane stared off at the prison, quiet for a few moments. “Ryan won’t even see me no more. He doesn’t care, if he ever did.”
Elizabeth was at a loss at first, thinking of Diane alone on that operating table after the blast. “Diane, I–”
“I wanted to tell these bandits, let them know they’re ruining everything–” She stopped to breathe and Elizabeth realized… Diane held her hand tightly, almost white-knuckled. “But things have changed out here. I watched a woman burn alive walking here, passed bodies in the street. And these words sprayed on the walls…”
“Atlas Lives,” Jack answered flatly, his back to them.
“Yes! Yes, that’s it!” Diane brightened, relieved. It must’ve been lonely for her when she lived with Ryan… Being so eager to be understood as she was. Elizabeth smiled all the same. Such innocence was refreshing here. “I don’t know what it means, but… It’s got to be important to these people.”
What do you want to do, Elizabeth?
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