Day 67 of the 186th Generation
I hated fashion.
I hated how fast everything changed. Everything that mattered about fashion changed every year. Every month. Sometimes every day.
It was almost impossible to keep up with.
I only went into this area of town to try to get a grasp on the latest trends. It was almost too pricey for the outfit I got from our undercover store to be on the upper streets.
“Hey, are you flying solo tonight?”
Shaking head, pointing to my phone as I pretend to talk on it.
“Probably not, if this call ends well,” I shot back.
His short pursuit ended, as he attempted to seduce the next girl who walked by.
The constant ring-around-the-rosie of smiles and pick up lines, with nothing more than blankness behind any emotion eventually gave me a headache. But I still smiled.
Maybe that’s why I was doing so well fitting in.
I was good at faking anything.
A moment after I thought that, I saw her: the young woman who was trying to fake it.
She was failing.
I could tell, because her lower lip was trembling before pulling up into a smile. Her eyes darted, and her steps were faster, even if low.
She was an Elite, or a Citizen who was very well placed. More than that, she was strikingly beautiful. A part of me wanted to follow her. A part of me echoed what my training had taught me: there was no reason to follow anyone with a higher rank.
But despite my usual rational decision making, I followed her.
A few steps down, someone tried to get her attention. She was obviously trying to deflect them, but it wasn’t working.
I don’t know why, maybe it was because it was a habit to Protect people, but I decided there was probably an easy way to help her out.
“Hey, there you are. Are you ready?”
She turned to me, temporarily confused. She must have caught on quick, though, because she looked back at the guy harassing her and said, “See, I have plans. Maybe next time.”
She quickly joined me and we walked across the street together. I talked about a scarf. She talked about a purse. I kept my feet low and my comments shallow.
I tried to take in her features, the most striking of which were her eyes.
The most beautiful green eyes, circled with a brown ring.
Finally after going to a few houses, still feeling like we were talking about fashion as a cover, she stopped near a store. It was closed so no one was around.
“Thanks for getting me out of that. For saving me.”
This is the part where a normal person would be asking my name, my rank, where I got my hair done, or any other number of questions.
But she just stared for a second, at a brick on a building. In ten seconds, she looked back up at me.
Then she was still again, staring at one blue jewel in the walk-way at the mouth of the alley, as if she was scared to go back onto the sidewalk.
“No, you’re fine,” I finally replied. She didn’t look up. “I was just heading out, actually.”
“Where to?” She said it mechanically, like she really didn’t care.
She grazed her torso. She adjusted her stance.
Her loose dress shifted in the wind. Enough for me to know that there wasn’t air underneath.
“West,” I said, in a low voice.
I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t eaten in hours. She was far along.
I was trying to process all these facts even as I echoed my own words again, thinking of everything I’d need to do to get there. “I live far to the west.”
She looked at me strangely then, but still asked, “It’s late. What are you still doing here? You should be leaving if you wanted to be on the West Side by midnight.”
I looked up. Her green-blue eyes were almost too striking to look at, but I focused on them with the hope of detecting her reaction.
“Well, even if I drove all night, I’d never be home. Not even before the sun rose.”
Her eyes finally darted up. I flinched. It felt like she was accusing me, just by seeing me for who I truly was.
The breath after than sentence seemed loud, but I pushed every part of my fear and panic aside, just to hear what she would say.
“I know you’ve already saved me once tonight. Maybe you wouldn’t mind saving me one more time?”
I smiled, both calming and almost mischievous.
“Yes. I can save you one more time. Who are you? What’s your name?”
She smiled back, but then look scared. She started breathing faster, shaking her head. It was almost like she was escaping the dream that was just in her head.
“I don’t know if you should try to save me. Our chances are slim.”
“Why? Because you’re a Citizen?”
“No. Because I am a Citizen dumb enough to tell two people I was pregnant.”
I opened my mouth for a moment before closing it. My heart beat faster. My breath quickened.
But I kept smiling.
“We’re going to be fine. I’ll be your Protector. We’re going to get through this. My name is Brie. And if I’m going to risk my life for you, I should probably know yours.”
She sighed, biting her lip before taking the hand I had reached out.