Cal sat on the end of the bed with the early morning light streaming in behind him. Topless, he stared at his chest in the mirror. Scars from the silver bolts marked his body. The lightning tattoo was broken just below his heart by a small circle. A lasting tale he would never forget: the scars on his neck from Deucalion, the scars from the Hunters’ bolts.
How long can I live like this? How long can I stay lucky?
Behind him on the bed Vivian shifted. She rolled, stretching her arm over to Cal’s side of the bed. It fell against the covers, finding nothing. She opened her eyes slowly and saw nobody.
“Cal?” She sat up, a hint of panic in her voice.
“It’s ok, I’m here.” He leaned back on the bed and took her hand in his.
“I thought that…”
“I’m here.” He kissed her fingers and pulled her into his arms. Burying his head against her neck, he inhaled her scent. She ran one hand absentmindedly over his chest, pausing briefly, subconsciously, when she met scar tissue. He wanted to stay like this forever, holding the woman he loved. Things were seldom so simple.
“Vivian…” He pulled himself away from her scent.
“Are…” He swallowed. “How do you think this is going, us living together?”
“It’s only been three days Cal but, so far, I like it.”
“Are… are we sure this is the right thing?”
She tensed up. “Cal, what are you saying?”
“Things have just been so dangerous lately. I nearly died. These scars, there’s only going to be more of them. It… You’d be safer if we weren’t together. I can’t even protect myself… I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to you. I love you Vivian. I love you so much the idea of anyone hurting you scares the shit out of me and makes me so angry I can’t breathe, but… I can’t protect you.”
Her face changed in front of him, quiet sadness and acceptance mingled. She knew he needed her, needed reassurance. She placed a hand against his cheek.
“Cal… you’ve always said you’d protect me, even when I didn’t need protecting. This world is dangerous. I’m under no illusion I’m not going to be in danger because of what I am, what you are.” He opened his mouth and she placed her hand over it. “But I would still be in danger even if you weren’t part of my life. I love you too and I want to be here in your arms. I know you’d protect me before you’d protect yourself and, stupid though that is, it’s brave and noble. I know you and I know that you couldn’t stand being apart and I couldn’t stand being without you.”
He hung his head a little, eyes watering slightly. She bent so that she could look up at him and meet his eyes. “Is this because of the hunters? Because you’re OK now, everything’s fine. We made it through again.”
“It’s not that…”
“Then tell me please Cal, what’s wrong?” She looked up at him, soft brown eyes so very trusting. He swallowed.
“Vivian, something’s happening to me. I don’t know what but strange things are happening to me and around me. I’m scared, scared of what’s going on. There’s so much that I don’t understand and I don’t want you to get hurt because of me.”
“Would you ever hurt me?” she asked.
“No, never but I might not be… me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Honestly, neither do I,” he sighed. How could he explain something like this to her?
“Ok, well, how about this: You protect me from all the bad monsters out there and I’ll protect you from all those worries in your head.” She smiled reassuringly, running her hand lightly over his cheek.
“It’s not that simple.”
“Do you love me?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then trust me, Cal. We won’t know if we don’t even try.”
“I…” He pulled her closer and smiled against her neck. “I love you Vivian.”