Vat Grown

"He's beautiful." She hadn't meant to breathe the words aloud. Her Patron looked at her, then in the direction she looked.

"He was designed that way. Just as you were designed this way. Come, I have business."

She followed her Patron, a last look at the young man on the arm of his own Patron. As she turned away, she thought she'd caught a glimpse of the beautiful young man turning toward her.

A short while later, she and several other Bound waited in a room while their Patrons spoke in an attached soundproof room, conducting business. He was in the room with them, too. The Beautiful One. He slipped out onto the balcony. A moment later, she followed him. She moved silently, as she'd been trained.

At the railing he shuddered, looking out over the city below.

"Are you all right?"

He spun toward her, the movement like a step from a dance.

"Of course, I'm fi... You're her." His eyes went wide. "Undefeated no matter where they fought you. Someone bought you from your old Patron and retired you. There were nearly riots."

"I, there were riots?" She blinked up at him, feeling very squat and ugly, with her thickened, reinforced fingers that ended in short, wicked claws, and her enhanced musculature.

"Quickly quelled, but very nearly so." He smiled at her. "I can't believe I get to meet you." He looked as though he might step forward and she took a half step back. "May, may I come closer?" He frowned slightly.

"Yes." Anything to make him stop frowning, he was too beautiful for that. She forced herself to stay still.

He stepped closer and reached for her hand, long delicate fingers lifting her hand, stroking gently over the backs of her fingers. She closed her eyes contradicting years of training, programming really.

"No one's ever touched you gently have they?"

"No." She opened her eyes and shook her head. He still frowned. She only flinched a little when he reached up to stroke her cheek, run a finger across her lower lip. She shivered.

"Is this all right?" The frown had left his face, replaced by a gentle smile.

"Yes." She breathed the word, looking into his eyes and realizing through the haze of whatever it was she was feeling, that they were the same height. "In the Legion, we fuck like we fight. Fought." She corrected herself. She started to turn away, and he stopped her with a feather light touch to her jaw.

"Vat grown?" He looked into her eyes and she fought the urge to blink her inner lid closed. She nodded. "Me, too."

"Rigel sector Alpha Zeta 95R. Legion trooper, infantry." The words rolled off her tongue. "Shock troops." Her secondary skillset remained unmentioned, would remain unmentioned unless released by an officer with the correct passcodes.

"Antigone cluster, Sector 8." He smiled gently, fingers on her jaw. "Courtesan, Dancer."

"You must be lovely to watch." She felt her breath hitch.

"I've seen you fight. You move like poetry." His eyes went wide with remembered awe. "May I come closer?"

"Yes." In a moment she felt his lips on hers, and exhaled a shaky breath. She started to reach for him, but hesitated, not wanting to hurt him and not trusting herself not to. He took her hand and deepened the kiss. Her eyelids fluttered shut and she breathed a barely audible moan.

Behind her, in her, in the room, she heard the door open and Patrons calling for their Bound.

"We have to go." She broke off the kiss, opening her eyes.

"Yes." He kissed her once more, quickly, and slipped inside. She waited a moment. She hadn't heard her Patron yet. Her fingers rose, of their own accord, to brush her lips.

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