“I’m going to get you.” The girl laughed, chasing Boris.
“Nah ah.” He stopped to stick out his tongue before scampering off again, laughing.
She was laughing too.
On the Russian Island, she had no formal name except for the one her team had decided to call her.
She was their Kitten.
To everyone else, she was a Meat-Bag. She wore oversized clothing since your right size came from earning your Cuts. Even your military hair-cut and right as a person was earned back once you had them.
Her hair wasn’t the military trim that Boris had. Hers was sloppy, suggesting that the Orderly that had done it in the same grab, pull, snip way he did all Meat-Bags hair. She had done her best to tie it up, trying to mimic the pride of her team-mates where she could.
A huge birth-mark covered one side of her face.
Boris had never seen a birthmark that big before.
Although in this school, anything was possible. Everyone had something funny about them here.
Like his front teeth that had grown larger than his others.
“I got you!” She pushed him hard enough that he fell. Despite their similar ages, Boris was still the smallest in the team, thanks to her recent growth spurt. “Now I’m going to eat you.”
She tickled him instead.
“No fair! No fair!” He laughed.
Finally, he managed to reach out and partly slip his finger along her back making her stop immediately.
“Purrr.” She covered her mouth. Her whole face going red.
Giggling Boris got to his feet and ran. That was a handy trick they had learnt a few weeks back about their Kitten.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that Boris.” She yelled. “It’s embarrassing.”
“Nah, you’re just getting your gift.” He called back, hiding behind the only tree in the whole courtyard that linked her room to his.
He could hear her laughter as she pretended to look for him.
His own gift from the island meant his senses were heightened even if he did look like a young kid that needed to be looked after.
Boris knew how to take care of himself though. His Captain had taught him well.
She was coming closer. He could smell her soft hair and the dust laying her clothes.
“If you two are done.”
Boris peeked out of the tree he was hiding behind. Kitten had frozen in her tracks. Their Captain, Aleksei, was glaring at them.
“Don’t you two have better things to do than wake people up on their free-day?” He scolded.
The Captain had to be really mad. He was usually strict on manners but right now was only half dressed in nothing but a pair of pants. From the looks of it, he must have thrown them on in a hurry since he was still busy finishing fixing the last button. Scars ran across his chest. Things that made Boris feel slight pinches of envy. Their Captain was a real man of fights. All their leaders were. Boris only had a few scars on his knees or arms but nothing like that to show he could do a real battle.
“Sorry Captain.” Boris came out meekly from his hiding spot and apologized. “We were just playing.”
“You have a whole forest you can go play in Boris. Does it have to be the courtyard?” The Captain growled. “Go run off there. Kill each other if you want. Free-days ...”
“We’re not supposed to wake you up.” Kitten recited in almost a sing-song voice.
The Captain rubbed the tip of his nose, a sure sign he was aggravated. Finally, he sighed. “Go run laps. I’ll come to join you once I’m dressed.”
“Really?” Boris asked excitedly.
“That’s an order.” The Captain dismissed them both. “Go.”
“He’s in a good mood.” Kitten whispered to Boris. “Usually he yells more or goes to the Library.”
“Maybe he likes us more today?” Boris suggested.
“Or he needs the fresh air.” Kitten giggled. “With all the smoking Dimi does in there I’m not surprised you’d rather want to play outside then be in the dorms.”
“Maybe that’s why I’m so short.” Boris tried to measure his height. “I should start sleeping in your room. I could take the floor.”
“Like a bodyguard?” She playfully grabbed his arm and twisted it in the most recent move they had been taught. “Thanks but I can look after myself, see?”
“Until I get to your back!” Boris laughed, wiggling out of her grip as he tried to rub her spine.
“Nooo not that!” She started running from him, dodging the few people in the hall that was already awake.
Boris followed her laughter as if she had weaved a spell calling him.
The hallway smelt of cool stone. The sun smelt warm and glorious.
He ignored the envious looks of some of the students as he followed her.
After all, she was his.