“Where is your human?”
From anyone but her, that question would have carried an air of amusement. Would have been a meaningless part of morning small talk, like asking how someone’s cat was doing. When he didn’t answer, she put her back to the counter so she could see his face as he payed too much attention to an omelette.
“He’s not dead.”
“Not yet.” He checked on how the potatoes were browning. “He will be.”
She tilted her head. It was infuriating how well he could read her. Not that it had been difficult to begin with, she seemed incapable of being indirect. But the fact that she could tell something was off. Something was difficult for him. That rankled. That made him want to hunch his shoulders inward and let her know exactly what he was feeling. But all would get him baffled pity. So instead he flipped an omelette and let his voice distance itself in cold tones.
“I lost my temper. He’ll be lucky if he lasts the week.”
“This upsets you.”
He gritted his teeth. “Yes. Damn it.” Everything was cooked, so he started plating the food. “I’m not one of your experiments.”
“No, I understand them better.” She moved to her chair but didn’t sit down. “And they don’t matter on a personal level.”
He put the plates on the table and then flattened his palms against the wood. Braced, he looked up at her. “What?”
“You matter on a personal level. No one else has known me as long, or cooks me breakfast in the morning.” She crossed to him. “You accept me and all of my interests. You may not find them interesting,” she made a throwing away gesture with her left hand. “But you listen. I have found I appreciate the consideration.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I may not understand what attracts you to the living.” Her dark eyes warm with humor. “But one does not need to understand to know if something matters.”
He slumped and she put a hand on his shoulder. He nodded after a moment and they both sat down to a cooling breakfast. They ate in the quiet. Rain pattered gently on the roof and he contemplated a theoretical eternity. A life long enough that generations would pass before he looked old. Perhaps it was a good idea to stay in contact with someone who shared that lifespan. Even if they didn’t understand the things that drove you. Even if you didn’t understand the things that drove them. That wasn’t true. He knew what drove her. And he could respect it. He just had no interest in it. He looked at her. She looked at him.
“He’d been seeing other people. A lot of other people. He told me otherwise.” It sounded so… simple when he tried explaining it to her. He didn’t feel simple. He never did. He always felt too much, tried too hard, and ended up back where he started.
“So you ended it.”
He laughed. “We had a fight. I cursed him. I don’t remember who said it was over. I just had the final say.” And he felt a little better. Damn it. “It’s one thing to know things will end badly, but this is the first time I’ve been the bad end. It, as you said, upset me.”
“Do you enjoy it when they reach bad ends?” She was genuinely curious.
“Sometimes. Mostly not. Sometimes it seems right, sometimes it seems inevitable, and sometimes its just depressing.”
“But you enjoy being depressed.”
“I enjoy feeling. Highs don’t come without lows. Though… I’d have to think harder if I wanted to determine if I enjoyed them as much. I certainly get here often enough.”
“Yes, you do.”
He smiled a little.
“Did this help?” she asked.
“It did. More than I expected.”
“Good. I appreciate the food, but I had no idea what to do when you get surly.”
He hid his smile. She stood.
“I have some things I need to see to in my laboratory. Call me if you need me.”
“I will.” And he meant it. Even though she left him all of the dishes again.