Lips and teeth

An elevator ride down from the 17th floor gave two uneasy allies a chance to talk about nuclear weapons tests.

“Go on. Slap me on the wrist. Make it look good for the press.”

China rolled his eyes. “You’re full of it.”

The Korean beside him never looked away from the bright numbers above the elevator doors. 17… 16… 15…

“You’re not really mad.”

“I’m seething, actually.”

Finally, North Korea turned his head to his annoyed, albeit composed, friend. “You don’t look like you’re seething.”

“I’m fervid.”

“You are?”


North Korea looked back up at the number. 12… 11… 10…

“There you go. That’s what the United States will want to hear.”

China was caught between a grin and a sneer. “You’re as pleasant as always.”

“If you wanted cooperation, you should have thought of that before denying me membership to your international bank.”

“If you wanted to join the AIIB, you should have cooperated.”


They stepped out into the afternoon sun and North Korea pulled a cigarette from his pocket. China snatched it from his fingers.

“Don’t smoke,” he said before lighting North Korea’s cigarette and taking a drag.

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