We were sitting in his living room, side by side on the couch. He had his laptop, and I had a novel. I folded a corner of the page I was on and shut the book.
I wanted to tell Seth that he would break, that that's what it meant to be mortal. I wanted to tell him a thousand things, just like I'd wanted to in the hospital, but once more I swallowed my feelings.
"You just need to take it easy," I said. "And I want to make sure you don't do anything too crazy."
"Right. Because my usual lifestyle is so physically vigorous."
He had a point. Most of his days were spent sitting and writing. He wasn't too likely to burst another artery that way.
"I just want you to be careful," I said obstinately. "You were shot last night, remember? That's not the same as falling on the ice."
"You overreacted to that too."
"Is it so wrong to care about you?"
He sighed and returned to his work. I had a feeling I wasn't the only one biting back angry words. We spent most of the day like that, talking little. Whenever he expressed any interest in something - food, drink, etc. - I was quick to jump up and get it for him. I was the perfect nurse/servant. Finally, around dinnertime, he looked like he was nearing a breaking point.
"Arent your friends doing something tonight?" he asked stiffly.
"Are you trying to get rid of me?"
"They're having a card game."
"You aren't going?"
"No, I'll stay here with you."
"You should go."
"I don't want to leave you. In case you need something."
"Then take me with you."
"What?" I exclaimed. "But you need to - "
" - take it easy, rest, not strain myself. I know, I know. But look, I'm kind of getting cabin fever here, and honestly, I think you'd benefit from a little distraction."
"Seth - "
"Georgina," he interrupted. "It won't be much different than this. More sitting around, except with - "
"That's not what I mean," he said.
We went back and forth, and as we did, I wondered when we'd reached this point in our relationship. Hitherto everything had been giddy and sentimental with us. How had we crossed the line into nagging? When had we started getting on each other's nerves? In movies, life-threatening experiences are supposed to bring people together.
I finally relented, and we went over to Peter and Cody's place. The gang - consisting of Hugh, Peter, Cody, and Carter tonight - was surprised to see us since Seth often avoided immortal social events. But socially inept or no, Seth liked playing cards. It was the kind of analytical activity he enjoyed, and he could often get by without talking very much.
Just before the game started, Niphon showed up. He and I exchanged brief glares and then proceeded to ignore each other.
Inevitably, Seth getting shot came up in conversation.
"You threw yourself in front of a gun for her?" asked Peter, clearly impressed.
"Well," said Seth, a little uncomfortable at all those eyes on him. "Mostly I tried to jostle it away."
"You mean, disarm him?"
"Well...no. More like...jostle. I don't really know how to 'disarm' anyone."
"I figured maybe you took combat classes in order to write those fight scenes in your books," explained Peter.
Seth shook his head. "Never been in a fight in my life. Until last night."
"That's awesome," said Cody. "Risking your life in the name of love."
I stared at the vampires disbelievingly while they babbled on about how amazing Seth's feat had been. They peppered him with more questions about the attack, and the anger I'd been trying to squelch since last night kept building and building. Across the table, Niphon listened with a smirk. Carter, in his usual way, concealed his feelings. I wanted to know why he wasn't out with the other angels, but the Seth thing was taking precedence over my curiosity.
One thing struck me as odd. Hugh, listening quietly, seemed as angry as I did. I would have expected him to jump right in with the vampires, blithely pestering Seth for action-packed details and waxing on about how cool Seth's heroics had been. But the imp's face looked dark and stony, his eyes fixed pointedly on his cards.
"The guy was probably high," remarked Peter. "Never know what that might bring out. You jumping in like that was pretty ballsy when you think about it."
I couldn't take it anymore.
"It was stupid!" I cried. Everyone's heads jerked in my direction. I ignored them, my eyes on Seth. "It was foolish and idiotic and, and - " I couldn't think of any more synonyms, so I let it go. "You shouldn't have done it. He couldn't have hurt me. He couldn't have killed me. You should have let me handle it!"
I knew that Seth despised being the center of a commotion like this, but he returned my gaze with a surprisingly fierce one.
"Georgina, there was a man with a gun in a dark alley. You were in front of him. Do you really think I was running through all sorts of logical scenarios at the time? 'Oh, let's see. She's immortal, so even if she gets shot, there's nothing to worry about.'"
"Yes," I growled. "That is what you should have been thinking."
"What I was thinking was 'The woman I love is in danger, and I would rather die myself than see anything happen to her.'"
"But nothing would have happened to me!"
"It's a basic human instinct to protect the ones you love. Even if they're immortal."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"That's because it's been too long since you were human," he snapped.
It was like being hit. I shot up from my chair and stalked off to the bathroom. Angry tears were welling up in my eyes, and I refused to let them show in front of my friends. Leaning my forehead against the mirror, I tried to do all the standard tricks for calming down. Deep breathing. Counting to ten. None of it worked.
I didn't get it. I just didn't get it. And apparently, Seth didn't either. Why couldn't he understand? Getting shot - in my head, in my heart, whatever - would f**king hurt. The pain would be excruciating. But in a day or so, I'd recover. I'd go on.
But Seth wouldn't. Why did he not see how serious this was? Death was forever. Squeezing my eyes shut, I tried to block out the image of Seth dead. Cold. Still. No more spark in those brown eyes. No more warm hand to hold mine. A sob built up in me, and I forced it away.
After more deep breathing, I finally felt like I could return to the others. But as I stepped out of the bathroom and started to round the corner back to the kitchen, I heard more shouting. Hugh.
"It was brave, okay? Noble. Gallant. Worthy of a gold star. But she's right. It was stupid. It was so f**king stupid, and you're even more f**king stupid for not realizing it."
"I get it," said Seth. I could hear the weariness and exasperation in his voice. "I could have died. I know, okay? But I wasn't thinking about the larger workings of the universe. I was thinking about her."
"No," said Hugh. "You weren't. I am so goddamned tired of hearing everyone talk about how hard it is to be you. They all go on and on about how amazing it is that you can handle this relationship with her. But, Christ. Really, what's hard about it? You have this beautiful, brilliant girlfriend who doesn't f**king age. She loves you. I know you can't have sex, and everyone acts like that's the end of the world, but come on. She's given you the green light to go get it somewhere else. I don't really see you suffering that much."
"What's your point?" asked Seth.
"My point is that she's the one who suffers. She knows your life is a ticking time bomb. What have you got, another fifty years maybe? And that's if disease or an accident doesn't take you first. Fifty years, and you're gone. She has to live with that every day, knowing that in one breath, your life could be snuffed out like that." I heard Hugh's fingers snap. "Not hurt. Not injured. Gone. She is going to watch you age, watch you gray and wither away, and when you do finally die, it's going to destroy her."
There was a moment's silence, then I heard Seth say uncertainly, "Fifty years isn't anything compared to the scope of her life. She'll get over me. As everyone keeps reminding me, she's immortal."
"All that means is that she has more time to mourn. If you had any f**king regard for her, you would have ended this stupid romance a long time ago. You would have never gotten involved. She was uncertain at first, but now she's in. She isn't going to give you up. You could turn into the world's biggest ass**le, and she still wouldn't do it - not with all these romantic ideals she has now. She loves too easily - and gets hurt too easily."