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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2241497
Annette runs into Teo - 808 words
Annette balanced the pile of paper and electronic tablets carefully in her right arm while munching on a breakfast burrito. She sat in one of the room-sized elevators that connected the levels in the tower she lived in. She could have gotten quarters on the level below the office she worked in, or she could have teleported or used a transport booth, but this commute was some of the most private time she got outside of her apartment. As the leader of Refuge, Annette's face was familiar to all. Her personality was very open and she seemed to radiate the energy of someone easy to approach. Only the tablets and her air of doing the business of state kept people from approaching her during her commute.

Really, she only seemed to be working. A lot of the time she was working on a three-dimensional amusement puzzle or word game during her commute. She just couldn't focus to do the actual work. The elevator passed through the bottom level of the tower on its way to the underground train that ran between Hub, where she lived, and Grand Central Dome where she worked. She was ready to leave the elevator when it slowed to a stop at the bottom. Annette kept her focus on her game and her burrito, navigating by peripheral vision alone. It really shouldn't have been surprised when she collided with another commuter.

"Oh, sorry," Annette recognized the voice before her eyes found focus on the man it belonged to.

"Teo?" The pile of paperwork became decidedly unbalanced.

He quickly shuffled bundles to send out a hand to steady Annette's papers. "Hey, you going to work?"

Annette nodded stiffly, she hadn't seen Teo in weeks, despite him being a near neighbor. "Yeah." She shuffled her papers trying to rebalance them, and herself.

"I thought you would just teleport back and forth."

"No, this is what passes for 'me' time. So, how have you been?" Annette managed to say without overt sarcasm.

"I've been around."

Annette glared at his ice-blue eyes and roguishly cut dirty blonde hair. Around? Annette swallowed hard and suppressed the angry childish thoughts that bubbled through her mind, "I thought he liked me... Why has he been avoiding me? Aren't I worth his attention?" Annette tried to reframe her thoughts, rebranding them for the sake of confidence, "He is a multiversally renowned catalyst. Entire universes depend on him for help, he might just be busy. And I am busy all the time too. Aren't I commuting because it is the only time I get away from the house where people aren't paying attention?"

"Annette?" Teo placed a light hand on her shoulder.

Annette worried her thoughts had leaked and he had read them from her mind. She blinked and accidentally read enough of his thoughts to realize he wasn't reading her mind he was reading her face. "I am okay, Teo. Just a lot of work. I am Chief of this whole hooplah. You know fires to put out, thank god not literally."

Teo grimaced at her mention of god, she knew he was of the mind that there was no benevolent creator. After what happened to his family it wasn't unreasonable. If Max and Annette hadn't been there at just the right time, Teo and his entire family would have been beheaded. There weren't any species that Annette knew of that could come back from that. "I have been working on a project too. It is a lot more involved than I thought it would be. Did you know you had to go through hoops to exchange galactic credits for allotment choices you can spend here? People don't generally accept them as payment," Teo stated.

That piqued Annette's interest, "Yeah, I kind of did. What did you need allotment augmentation for? As a catalyst, you have the same generous allotment as a prime factor."

"I had some special orders for my project and spent my choices," He blushed, "I have millions of credits out in galactic banks, I figured I could just use them."

"If you needed a larger allotment you could have come to see me," Annette frowned. At the same time, she appreciated him not taking advantage of their relationship. She couldn't say that about everyone.

Teo's remote pin chirped, "Sir, we are going to be late..."

Annette flashed a smile, "I need to get going too."

"Thanks, Martin. See you soon Annette," He smiled back.

"Sure, as long as we don't get too busy," Annette snapped. Teo frowned he started to lean towards her as though he was going to kiss her but instead patted her on the back and quickly left.

Annette was left in a confused state, she dropped all of her papers and sighed before bending down to restore her camouflage so her commute could continue.
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