Word Count: 2,152
Luckily, she didn't have to lie to her father about where she was spending her time lately. She really, truly spent a good portion of the last few weeks at the library with Adam. He'd even checked a couple of times.
She wasn't a history buff, anything prior to the Civil War went way over her head. And the Civil War was really pushing it. But to page through encyclopedias and books and have pointed out to her that he was at this place or that when something happened. Well, it was kind of cool. And, okay, impressive. She imagined that was part of why he was doing it. The other part was that he seemed genuinely thrilled to finally be able to tell someone all he'd seen, done, and been through.
He was giving her a lot more credit than she probably deserved, assuming she wouldn't think he was crazy. The thing was, he seem perfectly sane. Not only that, but he knew far too many details to be making things up.
And, well, as much as she didn't want to think about it, what he had been telling her over the past couple of weeks made sense. If she healed, regenerated wouldn't her body stop her from aging?
He hadn't been so much with the talking of eternity and the future, which was a relief. She wasn't sure she could handle that repeatedly. She was still trying to process everything he'd told her to begin with, adding more would put her on overload. Although, there were things she wondered about sometimes. Was he not talking about it because she was a disappointment? That would be kind of depressing.
He had come to pick her up tonight, but her mom had invited him to stay for dinner. And so they stayed at the house. Her dad was at a conference - yeah right - so it was just her mom and Lyle. It wasn't so bad, even though she was sure he probably thought they were the insane ones. Mr. Muggles was, of course, right there at the table with them. But he'd seemed genuinely happy about her mother's invitation and to enjoy the meal.
And now he was sitting at the table, reading one of her mom's books while she did her homework. She regarded him, end of her pen between her lips. He was distracting like this at times. Through no fault of his own. He didn't do anything to interfere with her studying. She just allowed herself to think about him, everything he'd told her; and the fact he was nice to look at. Really, if she was to spend a bunch of time with someone she could do worse. And that was immensely shallow!
"Yes," he said dryly, eyes meeting hers.
"This has to be incredibly boring for you."
"I can read here just as easily as I can at my place."
"Yes, because my mother's choice in reading has to be right up your alley."
"This isn't too bad. A little flowery," he said, holding it up so she could see it.
"You're right, that isn't so bad," she admitted. She'd read it last summer, and it was pretty good. "I'm sorry my dad doesn't have anything to read."
"It's all right, I could watch television if I wanted to."
"And you want to do this for the rest of your life?"
"Do what exactly?" he asked, closing the book after marking his page.
"Live like this. I mean, you're talking forever. That's a long time. You're liable to get bored with me."
"Or you of me?" He moved then, taking the chair beside her instead of across from her.
"First of all, you won't eternally be in high school. Second, there is no rule or law that says we have to spend every waking moment together. Time apart would be called for once in a while and probably very necessary I imagine. This isn't fifty years we're talking about."
"But knowing that there is one person to return to will make those times alone seem…Less lonely."
"And during these times away from one another, we what? Live with other people? Get married? Have families? Establish roots? Go on as if we're normal until we can't fit in?"
"I don't think I was suggesting that much time apart, but those things you mention would be things we'd have to deal with as they come up." He placed his hand next to hers, close enough that the edge of his hand touched hers but nothing more. "And there is no reason for us to be stationary for very long. We can travel, see the world, live where we want to for as long as we want to, and when we're ready to move onto the next continent, country, state, city, or town - do so."
"You make it sound so simple."
"It is quite simple. And you forget that I've done this for a good long time."
"You realize people have problems staying married at all these days?"
"I've read that, yes. Those situations are quite different."
"Yeah, I guess so. I just can't get over it."
"Four hundred years of experience compared to my seventeen. I guess I worry that you're going to look at me one day like I'm a moron because I don't know what color the royal family of Tibet wore."
"You mean you don't know?"
She smiled. "No, I don't."
"Well then, you've really given me something to consider. To spend my time with someone who does not know such a commonplace fact is unfathomable."
He placed his hand over hers. He touched her like that sometimes, but hadn't tried anything else. Not even a kiss good night.
"You're being ridiculous."
"I am not. I'm being realistic. And another thing."
"You don't seem that in to me. Shouldn't that be there?"
"In to you?"
"Well, yeah, you haven't tried to kiss me or anything."
"I didn't realize you wanted me to."
"Well, that kind of goes with the whole dating thing."
He smiled then, taking her hand and bringing it to his mouth so he could kiss it. "It's been a while since I've done the dating thing. Not to mention we really haven't gone on a date. I did not want to scare you or lay any further expectations on you than I already have. I am, contrary to how I handled things initially, trying to go slow."
"So, you can tell me that you're here to claim me as yours forever and ever but you can't kiss me?"
"Do you like kissing, Claire?"
"Well, yeah," she said. "And what if, you know, you don't like me like that."
"I don't think that will be a problem." His eyes widened. "Perhaps you're afraid you won't like me like that?"
"Well, no…" she didn't really like admitting that. She was pretty confident that liking him that way wouldn't be a problem.
"I've laid a lot on you. I hadn't meant to really, not so quickly. I meant to get to know you and let you get to know me first. I saw you with that boy and then the way you looked at me."
"How did I look at you? West said something similar."
"As if you could really see me."
"Your eyes," she said softly.
"What about them?"
"They're very expressive."
"Eyes are wont to do that I've been told. They betray you even when you do your best to prevent them from doing so."
"Have yours betrayed you often?"
"Not for a good number of years, no. It's easy to do that when you allow yourself to feel nothing."
"That can't be easy either."
"You get to a point where you just prefer feeling numb to getting attached to things you know will go by the wayside." He released her hand, waving his in the air. "I had really hoped to avoid getting into conversations like this. At least for a while."
"It's a lot for you. As I said a moment ago, it wasn't my intention to bear my soul to you immediately upon meeting you. I guess feeling hope got to me. I don't want to burden you with talks of eternity or whether I'll find you dumb or grow tired of you."
"Aren't those things important?"
"As important as merely enjoying my time with you in the hopes that you will enjoy yours with me? No. I had hoped you'd come to me willingly, without knowing the facts. I don't have that luxury now, you know, so now I just have to hope that my charming personality makes you think it's worth your while."
"And if I said I need time?"
"I would be remiss in not granting you whatever you need. Is that your way of telling me you want me to leave?"
"I was just curious if you'd do it."
"If I must. I really am not here to force you into anything. I know it came out sounding as if I was."
"Yeah, it did."
"I hope in time you might see it from my perspective and realize why I was so forthcoming straightaway."
"It's hard to feel pressured when you say stuff like that."
"That's good to know, I'm trying not to pressure you. Anymore than I already have that is."
"I want to be what you need me to be."
"I only need you to be you, Claire, nothing else. I, on the other hand, need to aspire to be what you need. Considering I have little experience in this era I'm learning as I go."
"Except for the lack of kissing."
She blushed and lowered her eyes back to her book. "I didn't mean it like that."
"How did you mean it then?"
"You were just so matter of fact about everything and you haven't mentioned any of it since then. So, I just wondered."
"If, perhaps, it's all semantics to me and I don't find you attractive?"
"Four hundred years…"
"Ah, yes, there have been beautiful women in my time. Of all types."
"And mine is rather limited."
"And that bothers you?"
"Well, I can't help but let it a little, even though I'd never catch up with you."
"I've been trying to be more reserved, Claire, nothing more. It's that very experience, which you find overwhelming that makes me hold back on things like kissing you. You stated already that you are not ready for things. I do not want to appear to be the monster I claimed I am not in your eyes."
"In due time, when you haven't broached the subject I imagine we will cross the bridge of kissing and other common dating phenomenon." He drew his hand away then and returned to the seat across from her. "Speaking of dating, you have no school for a couple of days after tomorrow correct?"
"Right, tomorrow's Friday."
"Perhaps you'd like doing something beyond the library and dinner with your mother and brother."
"You mean like a date?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"I was beginning to wonder if you knew what a date was."
"I have an idea, yes. I was just waiting until it seemed like you were all right with that. And the former boyfriend wouldn't try and take my head off for being with you."
"He's seen you here."
"Oh, I know he has."
"And I don't think he'd succeed."
"No, but I'm not sure how you'd feel if I defended myself either."
She thought about that for a minute. West had no idea Adam had defended himself against worse people than him in the past.
"You're right, I'm not sure how I'd react. He doesn't mean anything bad, and I can't blame him for feeling hurt."
"I suppose you're right, I admit I haven't given him too much thought."
"Well, I see him every day."
"Understandable. I'm almost surprised he hasn't changed his mind."
She shrugged. It bothered her he hadn't changed his mind. Shouldn't he have some doubt about breaking up with her? If he really liked her he should, or so she thought.
"I have a game tomorrow night."
"You could come watch me cheer."
"In that outfit I've seen you wear?"
She tried not to smile. "Yes, that very one."
"I suppose that would be a nice way to spend an evening."
Now she did smile. "Then we could go out for pizza or something afterward."
"Just us? Or will there be others?"
"Well, I was thinking just us."
"If that's acceptable to you."
"I've spent time alone with you."
"Not like this."
"You said you wanted it to be a date."
"I'll let you decide then."
"You have no preference?"
"I'll take time with you which ever way I can get it, Claire."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com