Several hours later, Lexx was staring out the window from the couch in deep thought. Chel had locked Kipiro into a drawer in the bunkroom to record what she’d written in her journal. Now, she was looking at one of the data slivers that Riley had given her. She hadn’t told Lexx about Riley’s visit and Lexx hadn’t mentioned he was awake, so he didn’t ask where she got them. Chel thought he was just distracted.

Lexx chewed on his lower lip. It was expected. He was stuck in a small area with a human girl. It was easy to ignore his emotions and urges when he avoided females and found most of them to be aggressive to the point of turning him off even when he was around them. After his training set and the previous two sets, there had been girls in the Academy trying to get his attention. He had to report back there after he completed his games for testing and classes. This lasted for three or four months and he usually absorbed himself in books.

The last time, it had been one of the most beautiful Rishan females he’d ever seen. Her name was Zinnae. He could see her standing against one of the ornamental windows in the library now. White hair cascaded in loose curls halfway down her back and she was dressed in a loose fitting casual dress. The skirt barely covered her hips. Her skin was really pale for a Rishan. Her eyes were soft gold, accented by the longest eyelashes he’d ever seen,… and her lips? Lexx had wanted to kiss her so badly.

But he had resisted. What good would it have been? They would have just been teasing each other with a relationship that would end in tragedy for both of them. She was only 18 and hadn’t left the academy yet.

Lexx swallowed hard. She’d tried and failed. Lexx never said a word to her, not wanting to encourage her, but for the entire three months she was there almost daily. She would talk to him and while Lexx never said anything, he couldn’t hide his expressions. A discreet smile at something she said was enough to keep her trying. She had nothing else to do. What could be more fun than flirting with an actual graduated player? It was a challenge.

The last day,… he had been packing his clothes in preparation to leave when the door to his quarters had opened. It was Zinnae. Lexx recalled the sheer panic as the door had locked behind her. This,… was a setup.

“What are you doing here?” Lexx rasped in surprise, staring across the tiny room.

“I came to see you.” Zinnae smiled pleasantly, leaning against the door and fingering the collar of her uniform. There was only one way out of the room. Lexx tried to steady his breathing. He was shocked to the point of almost starting to hyperventilate. There was no way she could have gotten to his floor without help or a pass. Then she started to unbutton the front of her coat. “I thought you’d like a little going away present.”

Zinnae’s tone was mesmerizing as she crossed the short distance to Lexx, moving with a seductive sway that he’d never seen before. “You should leave.” Lexx found himself backed up against the wall. “This isn’t a floor you should be on!” He gibbered.

“You don’t find me appealing?” She pouted and Lexx slumped. She wasn’t wearing anything under the uniform and had it halfway unbuttoned. Lexx averted his eyes, starting to shake. He could push her out of the way, but he didn’t want to even touch her.

“Just go…” Lexx choked. “This is against Academy policies!”

“Your academy.” Zinnae giggled, pressing herself up against Lexx. “Not mine. This is what I’m trained for.”

That was all Lexx needed. He had pushed her aside with disgust. There had been rumors about another section of the academy, but no one had ever SEEN anyone from that side. They weren’t trained for the game,… they were trained to be breeders. It made Lexx’s stomach churn at the thought. Like he was some animal?

“Lexx!” She’d cried out. “Don’t go. No one is watching. Why are you acting like this? It’s free sex for you, a gift.”

Lexx turned at the door. He only had a few things left in here. None of it was irreplaceable. “A gift?” Lexx grunted, unlocking the door. “It isn’t a gift when you’re doing it for a job and I don’t accept ‘gifts’ from those I have no respect for!”

They were just words. Excuses to himself. He knew full well that if she had approached him differently,… he would’ve given in just for the brief contact.

Lexx felt incredibly sad. That was pathetic of him. Was he that desperate for attention? No, he wasn’t. He had walked away. There were many others he had walked away from, even when he felt his passions rise and needs awaken. He always had an excuse of some sort, but it was getting harder and harder to justify his excuses when he realized how lonely he was.

He wanted to be alone, didn’t he? He had said that to Chel. Were they just words that he used as a crutch? He didn’t want anyone around him, because he was tempted. Tempted to let them in. Tempted to release himself in a way that he didn’t have secrets. That allowed him to be hurt. That was his final excuse. After a lifetime of disappointments, betrayals and hurt, Lexx didn’t want to allow it any opportunity to occur.

What had he done? He’d let her in. Chel was further into who he really was than anyone, except for Riley and he wanted her to know more. He wanted her to like him. How strange it was that this was not where he expected to be in the beginning. He’d thought she’d be gone quick, but she’d stayed and that time together had easily worked its way through Lexx’s fragile walls.

Distance was his greatest ally. She was too friendly, too caring,.. too close. Of course he’d want to keep her there. When he was injured, she’d comforted him. Nobody but the dice had ever done that before. He dwelled on it.

Chel yawned.

“Bored?” Lexx turned with a sympathetic expression on his face, an idea popping into his head.

“A little,… but it’s late. Probably go to bed soon.” Chel looked up, forcing a tired grin.

Lexx leaned toward her, resting his arm on the back of the couch. “Interested in playing a game with me?” He couldn’t control it. When he spoke, it came out in a way he hadn’t spoken in for years. Flirtatious.

“What kind of game?” Chel inquired curiously.