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prejackpot OP t1_j2c5o6y wrote

You’re already at the party when I arrive. Of course you are. You don’t make an entrance; you’re the one who’s there to greet everyone. You make sure they feel welcome. I can’t help but admire that about you. Of course, you also can make sure they talk to the right people, and make the connections you want them to make. That’s one of the ways you wield your power, so subtly it’s almost invisible. I can’t help but respect that too.

I don’t mean to make an entrance. But when you stop mid-sentence to look at me – well, that makes everyone else look too. Part of me still hates how your gaze makes me tingle, that gaze that I know is just for me, no matter how many other beautiful women are in the room. I watch as your eyes go over my neckline, but your biggest smile comes just above it.

“You’re wearing it,” you mouth silently to me.

I was wearing it the first night we met. It was the last thing Infiltration Wing gave me, after months of tests and months more in the secret clinic under New Carthage, where I got the genetic alterations and cosmetic surgeries I’d need to get close to you. A single-use attack swarm, hidden inside a crystal pendant the size of my thumb.

I didn’t use it at that first party. Too much risk of collateral damage. I wanted to get you alone. And I did. But by then, you had looked at me like that – and had given me the other, more private look that you saved for my eyes only. You had whispered my name that wasn’t mine in my ear so passionately that I wished it was my name, I wanted it to be my name. And at the end, you had touched the pendant.

“This is so beautiful,” you told me. “Wear it for me always, so I’ll remember the night we met.”

Now, you put your hand on the small of my back and guide me through the crowd. I feel so safe, when I’m with you. I spent my whole life never feeling safe. And I know that was because of you too, so much of my fear and pain were because of you, I should want you dead, I want you dead, but this feeling of safety that you give me now – it’s so hard to give up. I want to get to feel it just one more night.

I lean against you as you discuss a new opera, old literature that’s banned for people who aren’t here in this room, how to improve the flow of traffic in the upper city. This is what I always wanted. Listening to these kind of conversations. I want everyone to be able to, of course I do, but deep down I know I wanted it for me. And now I have it. And I have you.

You’re engrossed in your conversation with one of the regents, but my mind is wandering, and that’s how I see the assassin.

One of the waiters isn’t as mind-wiped as he appeared, and he’s dropping the tray, and he has a knife in his hand, and he’s coming for you. “Death to tyranny!” he’s shouting.

Nobody else is moving. Not even you. Not even me. I have an image in my mind of you stabbed, dying on the floor. Leaving me alone. And I know, in that moment, that I couldn’t bear it. I can’t lose you.

And so I touch the pendant. I release the attack swarm at the assassin.