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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2241940-Fanning-the-flames
Rated: E · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2241940
assignment 2 for building sensuality
Outside on the simulated street, Annette focused on teleporting to another tower. Before she could, she recognized a familiar smell. With the suppression of her sense of smell, the only type of smell that should be able to get her attention was one her entire body knew and craved on contact. She turned to see Teo standing just feet away, it looked like he had just teleported in.

That she wanted to spend the day alone blindly flew out the window as she reached for his embrace. “Whatever are you doing here?” He asked returning the embrace.

“I guess I was just killing time till you found me.” Annette released him and smiled dreamily.

Teo smiled broadly, "How about lunch?"

Annette leaned away from Teo to look him fully in the face. She wasn't hungry, except maybe for contact with him. "Sure, where are we going?"

"I get to pick this time?"

Annette nodded, "Wherever you'd like to go."

"Does it have to be around here?"

Annette blinked. "I guess not." Teo teleported both of them to Room 52. Annette looked around hesitant. "You're taking me out of Refuge?" She had only left Refuge once since she took the job as chief, it was the time that she ended up rescuing Teo and his family. "Are you sure it safe?"

"I am a muiltiversally renowned catalyst. That makes me even better than the secret service, CIA, FBI, and Interpol could ever think of being. You are safe with me," He chuckled, "You do remember leaving Refuge to rescue my family, don't you?"

Annette nodded. She had spent most of her life in Refuge or its predecessor, Sanctuary. She could count her excursions into the outer multiverse on one hand. It had never been just to hang out. For her going out had always involved the element of danger. Annette clung to Teo like a lifeline, and they hadn't actually left Refuge yet. Fear was not something Annette liked to admit to, and all things considered, she hadn't experienced it often.

"If you don't want to go..."

Annette shook her head and pulled away from Teo, "No, where are we going?"

Teo smiled. "I know this little restaurant..." He held out his hand.

Annette grasped his hand and felt the swirling vertigo of complex teleportation. He was taking her through time as well as space. Reality faded in around them and she saw what could be a street in any town in the United States. The fragrant smell of cherry blossoms managed to tickle Annette's nose faintly. Teo gave Annette's wrist a light tug in the direction of a brick building with a large picture window. It had "Sal's" printed on the blue canvas awning. "You are going to love this."

Annette followed slowly as his dragging of her arm allowed. It looked like the town only had two stoplights and she could see both of them. What could be so wonderful about this restaurant out of the trillions of other possibilities in the multiverse? Teo pushed open the wood-framed glass door to the restaurant. Annette followed him in. It looked more than vaguely familiar. He waved at the server behind the chrome diner counter and drug Annette to a small corner booth in the back. A server came to their table and handed them real laminated paper menus. Recognition dawned, this restaurant was identical to the restaurant in Refuge Annette had taken Teo to. Several Factor trainees had preempted that date by noticing Annette's presence and making a big deal about it. That was highly unlikely to happen here. Annette perused the menu, it was the same. Teo smiled at his surprise.

"What can I get you kids?" the server asked, tapping her pen on her pad.

"Huevos rancheros? And a chocolate shake for two," Teo said with a smile.
Annette nodded coyly. The waitress wrote down their order and placed silverware in front of them. She took their order slip and tucked it through the pass to the kitchen, returning shortly with two glasses of water. The server then made the rounds of the other occupied tables refilling coffee or water.

"So what do you think?"

Annette sighed and looked around the room, the fifties kitsch was complete. Annette couldn't tell whether or not this place was current or retro. "It's sweet and romantic."

"I have been planning this since I was assigned to this world to try and prevent an assassination. I couldn't save JFK but I did save Jackie." Teo stated.

That told Annette that the restaurant was either retro or clinging to decades past. "I never thought to ask the man who runs Sal's in Refuge where he came from. He is probably an alternate of this restaurant's owner.

"He's Sal's son. His father was killed in a dark incursion and Niel designed the restaurant in Refuge as a tribute," Teo stated.

Annette suddenly realized with a near physical jerk that Teo had a life separate from her. He knew people in Refuge she did not. He could know other women... What if he didn't feel about her the way she felt about him? How did she feel about him? Her body would have her lose herself to him. Instincts pulled them together. Was it love though? Annette let her eyes wander back from the kitsch to Teo's face. The baby-smooth face she had rescued not that long ago now had the slightest bit of stubble. He looked older. He was older. Catalysts patrolled the timelines to make sure they weren't intentionally damaged. Most likely he was decades if not centuries older than she was at this point. Examining his face like a piece of art she saw fine lines marking laughter and tears gone by without her. "Teo, where are we going with this?"

"What do you mean? We're having lunch."

"I mean, do your guts turn to jelly when you think about life without me?" Annette asked, with guts full of jelly.

"Why would I think of life without you?" Teo's brows furrowed along fine lines that marked it as a common expression, "What's wrong?"

"Is this all physical addiction between us? Is it just because the man who engineered our species decided to add in the extra burden of pair-bonding for life? Do you even like me?" Annette fretted.

Teo laughed and smiled, then like he could sense how serious Annette was, he spoke, "Yes, part of why we are together is because our bodies are perfectly attuned to one another. If I thought that was all this was about, I wouldn't have brought you here. I would have rested on my laurels that you had to love me. I know you lust me, but I do want you to love me too. This isn't just biology to me. Is it to you?"

Annette noticed he said he wanted her to love him, but carefully skirted saying he loved her. "What about me?" Teo's eyebrows rose in confusion. "Do you love me?"

"I don't know... this is just the beginning of our relationship..." Teo answered.

An elephant sat on Annette's chest, she couldn't breathe. He didn't love her? Teo placed his hands on each of her cheeks and pulled her closer. He kissed her on the lips, drawing concern from her like venom from a snakebite. Annette hung in the moment wanting more yet part of her questioned whether the tingling sensation on her lips was just the physical manifestation of biology. Teo pulled back slowly and Annette gasped in relief. His mouth might say no but his lips said boy howdy! "So where do we go from here?"

Teo shrugged. The server arrived with their order. She placed the milkshake between them and a plate of food in front of each of them. Annette stared at her plate for a moment. Then her eyes found their way back to Teo. She watched him eat until he noticed her watching him. "Do I have something on my face?"

Annette shook her head and forced herself to lift a forkful of food to her dry mouth. She chewed until she had no more saliva. Then she dipped her head towards the milkshake. Teo had chosen that moment to bend towards it too. Their foreheads collided. Both recoiled and rubbed the points of impact. Annette found Teo's eyes just as he found hers. Minutes passed as she stared into the icy blue puddles of love.

"Kids your food's gonna get cold," The server placed a check on the corner of the table. Annette looked around all of the other patrons had left. The busboy swept up near the kitchen door. Palpable inpatients echoed from the server's expression.

Teo sighed, "I forgot, this place closes at one-thirty and doesn't open again until four-thirty. Can we get to-go boxes?"

The server nodded and rushed over to the counter to retrieve them. Teo laid a hundred dollar bill on the check and was quick to accept the styrofoam boxes. Annette watched him scrape their food into the boxes and wondered where the time had gone. He poured the remainder of their shake into the styrofoam cup the server had brought, poking the two straws through the hole in the lid.

"I'll bring back your change," The server said picking up the check and the money.

"Keep it," Teo said dismissively as he slid from the booth. He collected their food and gestured for Annette to come with him.

The server blinked almost loudly, "Thank you."

Annette slid out of the booth. Teo's hand quickly grasped hers. They walked together to the door which Annette opened. Outside, Teo smiled at her. The sun shone down on them from a cloudless sky but it was that smile that illuminated Annette's world. "What now?"

"Let's see where the afternoon takes us."

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