Paradigm Shift 12

Park didn't say anything about the horrible comment. He went on calmly eating, and when Gregor somewhat frantically began talking about a movie he'd seen, Park made interested grunts and offered a few one-liners.

Soon Gregor was laughing and it felt like things were going to be all right. He even thought it was pretty incredible how Park had let his verbal faux pas go so easily.

There were depths to Magister Dylan Park.

* * *

Gregor was letting himself be entertained by some of the younger Family members in the communal media room when the tailor appeared to grab him for a fitting. He'd just started getting along with members of the Family and really felt like he might be making a connection, and it was just broken. So easily, like spider silk.

He reluctantly followed the tailor back to his room, and once again he couldn't help but be grateful for Park's presence. The woman was giving off even more of a creepy vibe and she kept none-too-subtly sniffing the air around him.

It made him wonder if he was already pumping out pheromones, though no one else had mentioned anything. Still, he couldn't resist giving himself a paranoid sniff the second he was alone, like he was going to be able to smell his own Scent.

He put on the trousers and shirt and stepped out of the closet dressing room so she could check the fit. It was all strange and new to him; everything he'd ever owned had been machine manufactured. He'd never been able to afford handmade clothing and had never thought what it would be like.

He wasn't that enamored with the process. A Fitting Machine, while completely automated and lacking in human charm, got the job done with a minimum of weird looks and social groping. Plus he could have the whole process done in less than ten minutes.

Seeming to sense his mood, Park told the tailor, "Please hurry. Blessed Tierney is expected at the Image Makers in less than half an hour."

"You cannot rush quality work," the tailor grumbled, but she picked up her speed nonetheless and soon was finished.

She made Gregor take off the suit so she could make some last minute alterations and promised it would be waiting for him when he returned from the Image Makers. He was just glad to escape her sharp pins and commanding hands.

The minute the door closed behind her, he sagged in place. "Why do rich people put up with this?"

"Pardon?" Park sounded genuinely confused.

Gregor bounded across the room to the refrigerator and a cold bottle of carrot juice. "Seriously, a Fitting Machine is much more my speed. There's no way I'd flaunt my wealth by having that lady paw every bit of me. To be honest, that seems more like something *she* should pay *me* for."

"She does get a bit handsy, doesn't she?" There was sudden speculation in Park's tone. "I think I will have some inquiries made about her."

Gregor wondered if he'd just earned someone an Investigation by the State, but he didn't really care. That lady had pressed his every danger button and he wanted to make sure he was going to be safe.

The State might have been controlling, and regularly crushed all signs of free will about some things, but they were also very protective of Thirds. Which he happened to be now.

He figured that since he'd already been discovered and there was no escaping his lot in life, he might as well take advantage of the perks offered.

He drank his carrot juice.


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