She couldn't say why she'd slapped him, not exactly. Maybe the last straw had been his lip beginning to curl into a smirk, or her suddenly remembering how much he'd liked her tomato soup.***
One part of her was elated at finally having slapped someone, after years of pent-up anger, swallowed curses and fisted hands. The other, larger, part of her was shivering in the cold realization of just who it was she had slapped.
Standing before him and the shocked onlookers at his command, she awaited retaliation and was not disappointed.
When she awoke, her body ached with the memory of pain.* From the damp, she knew she;d been dumped into a dungeon cell; she couldn't see anything but darkness.
Pain drew him out of the darkness.
"Please don't move," said an exasperated voice. "I've been trying to get this piece of shrapnel out for hours."
He felt the brush of breath at the words and a weight - a hand - moving slowly over his chest. Metal creaked and clothes rustled as the woman leaned closer over him.
The sharp hook of pain that had dragged him from unconsciousness blossomed and throbbed as it spread across his chest before cutting in deep.
He tried to open his eyes but his body seemed to have forgotten about him. He tried moving instead, but found he could barely feel his body at all, much less move it. Trapped inside his body, all he could feel was heat and weight - and the pain as it rode through him.
He tried again to open his eyes, wondering if he'd somehow forgotten how to, when light flooded his vision and seemed to split his head apart.
"Stay," cautioned the voice. A small part of him, detached from the pain and the light, noted with amusement that the tone had been much like what one would use on a wary dog. A hand pushed him firmly down, steadying him, and he collapsed under it. He tried to clear his head of the new pain by taking a deep breath, but that, too, brought pain.
Then the pain multiplied a thousand fold as his mind and body reacquainted themselves with screams. A jolt of fire ran straight through him, stopping his breathe halfway down his throat. He wanted - needed - to thrash, to cry out, to lash out at whatever was doing this to him, but he knew, even before the tension faded, that his body had barely shifted under the sheets.
A triumphant voice crying out, "Got you!", and a soft metallic clink proclaimed the shrapnel free of his chest.
The pain ebbed to a dull throb and he sank deeper into the bed and the dark.
What he heard: "You made me feel alive."
What she said: "You made me feel a lie."
A Shade rustled in the dark. How philosophically improbable.
* Alternatively, "She awoke to the memory of pain."