Riff set down the tray. When he turned to leave Cain said hastily, "Wait, Riff. I need your help," and reached for a syringe.
"What is it?"
"Come here." Cain held the syringe up until it hit the light, thick golden liquid clearly visible within the glass. He tilted it and glanced at Riffís arm. "I need to test an antidote. It should be quick-acting, and the poison is usually only deadly in large doses. Roll up your sleeve."
If Riff hesitated, it was only for a moment. At Cain's urging he rested his arm on the table Cain had been bent over and, as an afterthought, looked away. Silence. Riff looked back, into angrily knit eyebrows and eyes that gleamed icy gold in the lamp light.
A slender hand pressed against Riff's wrist. Cain kept their eyes locked as he lowered the needle. When his gaze flickered briefly away, Riff followed it to the silver point hovering just above his upper arm. He stared at the needle, forcing himself to be still, while Cain looked into his face and drew back the syringe.
When he struck, Riff was startled by the violent jerk of Cain's shoulders and arm. He felt himself pale, but managed to stand motionlessly watching the needle as it swerved and plunged into Cainís arm.
The syringe emptied.
"Hand me the antidote," Cain said calmly. "Itís third on the second shelf, the green bottle with the torn label."
Riff handed him the bottle and glared. Cain, busy with the antidote and a new syringe, appeared to ignore him.
"It isnít really deadly," he said finally, eyes sliding away from Riff's stare. "It would take a bucketful of the stuff to kill me."
Riff took the syringe and the bottle away from him and silently began to swab Cainís arm. "You missed the vein," he said, after a few minutes. You missed the arm, he thought.
Cain shrugged. He was docile as Riff wrapped up the tiny wound, and suffered himself to be led up from the basement and into a study, where Riff poured him steaming tea, no sugar, and waited until he drank every drop.
"Donít be angry," Cain said, as Riff turned again to leave. His eyes had lost their mad glint and looked only green and pleading.
Riff looked back at him. "Test on animals, Master Cain," he said. When Cain nodded meekly he moved closer and picked up a blanket from the loveseat to wrap around the boyís shoulders. Cain relaxed.
"My shoeís come undone," he said, and Riff bent to knot the strings together, trying to hide his shaking fingers from Cainís eyes.