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A Chink In Her Armor

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Someone less charitable would have called him one of Eisenhorn’s strays. Or at the very least his discards. That wasn’t the prevailing mood of the ship, but then Gideon’s team had been mostly made of Eisenhorn’s discards at points.

She remembered, looking at him, that Queen Mab had a few superstitions: never to look back to see if you were being followed, and never to run from the Warblind. Never to run from anything immortal, really. She wasn’t really Enmabic, and neither (she had to imagine) was he.

Still, she could neither turn nor run when she found him in the corridors of the ship. He approached her slowly, like a dog sniffing out a new person in its space. She stilled and allowed him to approach. He circled her once, slowly, as if appraising, then came to stand in front of her again, just barely a foot away. There was a hiss of air as he lifted his helmet up and off, and she blinked in shock to see his face finally revealed. He was pale as linen, the seals of his helmet having bleached any color from his skin long ago. His face belied the rest of him, giving off a sense of almost childlike frailty that the rest of his body didn't support.

She reached up to touch him then, wondering how many had looked past the mask of the Primarch to show him any human affection. The key word in the phrase transhuman was human, after all.

His hands skated down her body. She tensed, expecting him to crush, to wreck, but that was not his aim. She felt herself gathered to him, face-to-chest in a far gentler hug than she had expected.

"Patience." She looked up at him, waiting, but he said nothing more for long seconds, as though he was rolling her name around in his mouth, tasting it, judging it. One false-facer to another. She felt his gaze upon her then, stripping her bare almost more than she had done to him before. If the removal of his helmet was like throwing back a curtain, his gaze on her face was a boring laser, drilling deep into her core and opening her for further exploration.

She felt naked, bare beneath his gaze. She was someone, but it wasn't Patience Kys. You couldn't false-face someone who had been doing it literal millennia before you'd been born.

He knelt, then, bringing them face-to-face. She wondered, idly, how many humans had witnessed such a moment. Then his lips touched hers and she stopped wondering altogether.

The kiss was slow, clumsy in that exploratory way of someone who'd never kissed - or been kissed. She let her arms wind around his neck, holding him steady when he jolted as her tongue began to explore his mouth. She should have known better: after Queen Mab, Ravenor had explained to them some of the tactics of the Alpha Legion. One of the things that had stuck out to her was "relentless assault" and that held just as true here. His left hand crept up to wind into her hair. The right lazed down her spine, and she shivered against him. It was a single chink, but it was enough, and Alpharius was a fast learner.

She felt his tongue meet hers. They dueled briefly for control. And then she was overwhelmed. Dimly, she heard the zip of her bodyglove inch down, down, down.

The cool kiss of air against her shoulders was another distraction in this fight for control. And she was already losing. It wasn't fair, either: it wasn't like she could easily divest him of his armor.

"Not fair," she hissed as he broke the kiss, putting her thoughts to words.

"Hm?" He looked down at himself, as if noticing his armor for the first time.

"Oh, that." He tipped her chin up so he could look her in the eye. "Patience, I didn't survive millennia of war by fighting fair." They sized each other up, circling mentally. She couldn't afford another chink like before. Wouldn't afford another chink like before. Alpharius clearly had other ideas. Reaching behind himself to snag her wrists, he walked her backward until she was pinned against the wall.

So much for a chink.