jasmine and juniper (epilogue)
this is long overdue, but the release of the new demo (and revelations about a certain someone’s parentage 👀) reminded me of it <3
this is a small follow-up to my christmas gift to @queerbrujas (thanks also goes to @agentnatesewell for chatting with me about this & suggesting the flowers!)
Pairing: Detective Eva Navarro & Nathaniel Sewell
Notes: <1k words, short and sweet, rated teen, no warnings.
“I have a gift for you.”
The mattress tilts under him as he draws back, and she can feel the warm weight of his gaze as he traces his hand along her cheek, brushing her hair away from her face.
She hums at the touch, reluctant to move, still half-dreaming and lost in the lazy warmth of him.
“I have all I need right here.”
read on ao3 | twc masterlist
jasmine and juniper (epilogue)
Later, their limbs tangled together amongst his sheets, his fingers twined in the dark strands of her hair, Nate whispers her name into the curve of her shoulder.
She has always loved the way his mouth shaped her name, the gentle cadence of his voice as he says it, soft and low and sweet.
His mouth brushes along her shoulder, warm breath skimming along the length of her throat until his lips find the hinge of her jaw. “I have a gift for you.”
The mattress tilts under him as he draws back, and she can feel the warm weight of his gaze as he traces his hand along her cheek, brushing her hair away from her face.
She hums at the touch, reluctant to move, still half-dreaming and lost in the lazy warmth of him. “I have all I need right here.”
He laughs at that, low and rumbling, and she can feel the vibration of it beneath her fingertips, spread wide across the warm planes of his chest. He brushes another kiss against her temple. “As do I.”
When he shifts from beneath her grip, she hums again, in disapproval this time. “Nate.”
“I’ll be just a moment.”
When he returns, a delicate parcel of tissue paper and ribbon cradled between his hands, the smell of jasmine that had permeated the room since he’d arrived is stronger. She can recognise the looping arabic script on the label attached to the bundle, although the name itself is unfamiliar - something more local, perhaps, unique to the dialect.
He handles the gift carefully, delicately, as if anything more than that would crush it, and she pushes herself up against the pillows, allowing the sheets to fall around her shoulders, pooling at her chest as he takes a seat beside her on the bed.
His eyes are warm as he glances over her, bright in the early morning light, lingering on the arch of her collarbone, just visible from where the sheet has slipped, before offering her the bundle.
Shifting herself fully upright, she accepts the gift, carefully pulling apart the layers of tissue and dried flowers - a blend that contains jasmine, of course - until she reaches the box beneath.
Nate removes the tissue and returns to sit close, the bed tilting under his weight, the heat of him radiating warmth enough to chase away the chill of the morning.
She smiles, nails slipping beneath the tape, separating it, until she can lift the lid and reveal what’s inside.
Resting on a bed of tissue paper is a single flower, the cut stem resting in a small sachet of water, its delicate shape preserved despite what must have been a long journey.
A black iris.
“It’s beautiful,” She murmurs, unable to disguise the wonder in her voice.
Velvety black petals arch from the stem in the unmistakable shape of an iris - but not one she is familiar with, the deep purple bleeding into a rich black, with a depth of colour she hasn’t seen in a flower before.
The scent is subtle, almost drowned by the jasmine that had been bedded with it, and a crease forms between her brows as she takes in its immaculate form - by all means, it was impossible for a flower to remain in this state after days of travel, and this one appeared as fresh as the day it had been cut.
“It’s enchanted. The agency has connections in the city, and I was able to call in a favour.” His eyes are warm, glimmering as he watches her handle the stem carefully, rich chocolate and muted hazel. “You like it, then?”
She glances up to catch his gaze, a slow smile spreading across her lips. “I do.”
Placing the flower carefully back into the tissue paper, she leans towards him, reaching out to trace her hand against his jawline, nails catching against his stubble, before he lowers his head to meet her lips.
The kiss is chaste and sweet, lingering, neither of them willing to break away from the moment. It’s with a soft sigh that she pulls away, drawing back to catch his gaze.
There’s one question she wants to ask, must ask, in the face of all his other gifts-
“Does it have a meaning?”
His lips curve into a subtle smile at that, his dark eyes dropping for a moment. When he meets her gaze again, there’s a softness there, the meaning of which she can’t quite read. “Only what you want to give it.”
Later, when she is back in her office, she will look up the black iris and its cultural significance - cheeks burning as she skims past the details of the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe - and she’ll think back on that moment, what he might have wanted to say, before he decided against it.
The flower, she keeps in a small vase in her bedroom at the Warehouse. It never wilts.
final notes: the idea here is that Nate has purchased the flower from a magical horticulturist who specialises in the growth & preservation of rare flower species (who also maintains their own gardens).
Nate leverages a favour for personal and sentimental reasons (related to the book three demo...)
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then it vanished away from my hands (part three)
pairing: nate sewell x eva navarro
word count: 4k (10.1k total so far)
warnings: angst (with no happy ending, though there’s a lot of comfort in this chapter). discussions about mortality and loss of agency. murphy trauma and flashbacks.
After discovering the reason why she can't turn, Eva tries (and fails) to come to terms with it.
part one | part two | read on ao3
this fic was originally meant to have three parts, but uh, that didn’t happen. current plan is to have it be four or five, depending on how the writing goes.
part three: my sense of self I lost somewhere
Eva’s eyes squeeze shut.
She’s all out of tears.
How long has she been sitting here?
This is—this is not working.
She can't be alone right now.
She can't be here right now, in this place that was once home to her and where there is nothing left that is familiar or comforting. Nothing but void, a shell filled with what’s left of the covered furniture she couldn’t get rid of.
The only thing here is—
The only thing here that seems alive and vivid is the image playing behind her eyelids of the apartment flooded with bright red smoke, the sounds of crashing and breaking, of Rebecca telling her to run, of Nate—
And a cold, cold voice that rings in her head, louder than every other sound.
She’s back outside in the rain. It soaks her to the bone, makes her shiver.
You are rather special, after all, Detective Navarro.
Why, why the hell did she think of coming here, of all places?
I do so prefer the quiet ones.
There isn’t enough air, she’s not getting enough air. She tries to gasp for it, to take deep breaths, but it’s not enough. When she opens her eyes the white walls of the apartment are closing in and her vision is blurred, hazy (not smoke, it’s not smoke, it’s not). A trapped scream tries to fight its way up her throat.
She wants to let it out. Scream. Thrash.
Tear her skin apart and climb out of her body.
This is not working.
This is not working—this won’t work.
She’s not going to be able to make it out of here on her own. Not out of the apartment, not off of the goddamn floor.
The sudden moment of clarity, tenuous and brittle as it is, spurs her into action.
Her phone. She pulls her phone out of the pocket of her jacket: her hands are still shaking, and it takes her at least three attempts to get hold of it. Once she has it, it slips between her fingers and clatters to the floor.
She flinches at the noise. She’s going to start sobbing again.
She flexes her fingers. Breathe. Breathe.
Eventually, she manages it.
For just a split second, she considers calling, then decides against it. That won’t do. She doesn’t trust herself to speak without bursting into tears again.
I'm at my old apartment. Can you come over?, she writes, hits send. Then a second text: Please.
The reply comes before she’s had time to lock her phone again: there in 2 seconds.
She loses track of time again after that, closes her eyes and would not be able to say, later, how long she spent like this. What is left of her rational brain tells her not more than a few minutes can have passed before Farah is already there in a whirlwind.
Alarm is evident in the way her eyes shoot wide open as soon as she sees her, in the way she's kneeling down by Eva's side faster than her (human, human) eyes can register.
“Hey, hey.” The words tumble out of her quickly, blurring together. “Eva, what happened?”
Farah has seen her cry before, she’s seen her desperate and distressed and upset, but she’s never seen her like this.
She examines her, the way she’s sitting on the floor with her knees held to her chest, the sorry state of her—clearly looking for signs of physical injury. When she seems satisfied she’s found none, she takes a breath: the alarm fades, but the concern deepens.
“What’s wrong? Did something—” Farah interrupts herself, purses her lips and waits for Eva to answer.
Eva’s throat feels raw; her thoughts scrambled, paper-thin. Connecting them, stringing them into something so complicated as language seems a monumental, almost impossible task. Just the thought of it makes her throat start to close up again.
She shakes her head. “Don't want to talk about it.” Speaking hurts, physically—even more than she thought it would.
Farah nods, as though having been expecting it.
She knows her well, after all.
They all do.
Farah reaches out, slowly, and lets her hand hover just over Eva’s knee. She doesn't touch her, knows better than to touch her, but it's close enough that Eva feels the warmth through her clothes.
“Do you want me to just sit here with you for a while? We don't have to go back home yet.”
Eva barely manages to choke back a dry sob at the mention of home, but unexpected relief washes over her all the same. Relief and gratefulness to Farah for putting into words what she certainly wouldn't have been able to think of. Not now.
She gives a quick nod. “Please,” she croaks.
Farah attempts a smile that manages to be warm despite the evident strain in it. She moves then, with a grace that Eva has envied before and which makes something in her chest constrict now, to settle more comfortably on the floor, legs crossed under her, facing Eva.
“Then we’re not going anywhere until you say so,” she says.
Soothing. Calming. Farah always knows how to be comforting.
“Thank you,” Eva sighs. Farah hums her assent.
With her here, real and solid in front of Eva, the red smoke and the crashing sounds and the voices seem to fade little by little into what they are: a distant memory, years old by now. Not real. Not something that can hurt her now.
(Except it lives under her skin, the consequence of it, the result of it, she’ll never be free of it—
Stop, stop, stop.
Stop that thought dead in its tracks.)
A while later, Eva’s breathing still hasn’t gone back to normal. It’s still quick and ragged, shallow.
“Hey,” Farah speaks quietly, a low whisper that barely breaks the silence.
She waits for Eva to open her eyes—when had she closed them? How long has it been?—before speaking again.
“Give me your hands?” She says it as one would a question, extending her own, palms facing up.
Eva hesitates for a second—but only for a second.
The hesitation is instinctive, but the action is conscious. She places her hands in Farah’s, and Farah smiles at her.
With the warmth of the touch she’s reminded of the few times she’s done this before, in other circumstances.
Farah taking her hands and teaching her to dance, despite her initial, half-hearted protests.
Farah dragging her to celebrate her birthday because it was on the same day as hers and of course they needed a celebration; no, sneaking away with Nate to the library did not count, what part of it’s our birthday and we should have a party did she not understand?
Farah helping her stand up after a bad injury she’d sustained during a mission, the fear in her eyes eclipsed by the quick resolve to get her away.
She’s reminded of this, of all this. Of Farah’s liveliness and warmth but also of the way she always seems to understand how she feels, long before words are spoken.
Eva doesn’t quite manage to return Farah’s smile, but her lips twitch a little.
“Good,” Farah says. Her thumbs rub circles on the palms of Eva’s hands, and something soft in her eyes seems to make them glow golden, brighter than their usual amber. Something soft and sad and old, because as young as Farah seems, Eva is all too acutely aware (especially now, especially here, with a sting that doesn’t seem to go away) that she is still close to three times her age.
“Breathe with me?” Farah asks, before Eva’s thoughts can spiral too far in that direction.
Farah breathes. Eva breathes.
It’s a deeper breath than any she’s taken since she got here.
They spend a while like this, until exhaustion finally settles in, weary and bone-deep. Until she’s staying here out of pure stubbornness, and when Farah quietly asks “home?” Eva does nothing but squeeze her hand and nod.
She tries then, she tries to adjust to the new information.
To move forward.
It’s what she’s always done. It’s the only thing that can be done.
She lets the rest of Unit Bravo know about the results (thinks for half a second about not saying anything, but she could never hide anything like this from them) and then refuses to discuss them at all.
It is what it is. If there is nothing that can be done to change it—and it has been made very clear to her that there is nothing that can be done, not about this—then there is no point in wasting time and energy thinking about it.
Because if she starts thinking about it, she’s not sure what she will do.
If she starts thinking about it, it’ll be back to the apartment, back to the rain, back to that other warehouse.
And if she starts thinking about it, she’s going to have to think about how all the reasons she had for wanting to turn in the first place are still there. They have not gone anywhere, except that now she has no way to deal with them.
She’s not sure if she feels numb or if she only wishes she did.
She thinks about it, anyway, whenever her gaze falls on the faint, jagged marks on her wrist, paler than the light brown of her skin.
For years she’d almost forget the scar was there, the memories associated with it pushed back to the deep corners of her mind. Now it seems to exert a gravitational pull of its own, drawing her sight to it without her permission.
She thinks about it whenever she remembers—and she remembers it often these days, can’t seem to pull the thought from her mind—that the blood in her veins is not her own. The whole of her body has been made into a foreign object; unrecognizable, enactor of violence upon itself.
The nightmares are worse than they’ve ever been.
It takes three days for Nate to bring it up: he’d been waiting for her to do it first.
He does it as gently as ever, as softly as ever. With a kiss to her forehead and hands seeking her skin, brushing down her arms. Perhaps hoping his touch would soothe the sting.
He seems almost apologetic, as though she could break at any moment.
Who’s to say she won’t?
“Joonam,” he whispers. “Will you tell me what’s on your mind?”
(Joonam, he calls her.
He calls her many things in many different languages, but this is the one he always, always comes back to.
Mi vida, she calls him.
Not as often as he does—she was never one for pet names—but often enough.
The thought forms before she can crush it: it seems almost cruel, now, that they’ve dug so deep to call each other my life when he will outlive her by an infinite amount.)
And the look in his eyes makes her want to cry all over again. He’s pleading with her, keeping the emotion from his voice but it’s clear in the way he looks at her.
Fuck, this won’t work.
She can’t keep doing this. She can’t do what she always does, not with this.
Because being with Nate has never been easy.
It has been many things—it has been love and passion and comfort and truth, but it has never been easy or painless. It has never been natural or effortless or uncomplicated.
They don’t fit together like that.
What it has been is a choice, constant and conscious. A choice to go against her instincts—her instincts that tell her to hide, to never stop moving, to raze what’s left and never look back—and open herself up in ways that leave her raw and exposed but so vibrantly, painfully alive.
(A choice that she’d been willing to make for the rest of eternity, even if it never got easier.
A choice that he makes for her, too.)
Poke around in the wound to dig the bullet out.
Her instincts tell her to pull back, and there are words on the tip of her tongue that she swallows down.
Slowly, she takes one of his hands in hers, brings it to her mouth to brush a delicate kiss against his knuckles.
“I will,” she says, eyes closed. If she opens them the words might not come out. “We’ll talk about it, I promise. Just—give me a little time, please. Just a little time.”
Nate breathes out a sigh that sounds like relief drowned in concern.
“Of course,” he says. “Anything you need.”
The water in the bathtub has cooled around them; the steam dissipated long ago.
Even in the cooling air, they have not moved in a while: Eva leans back against Nate’s chest with her eyes closed, his arms wrapped loosely around her as he presses sweet, barely-there kisses to the birthmarks on her shoulders. He follows paths he has mapped and memorized countless times before, ones that feel familiar on her skin.
Ones that should be soothing.
As slowly as ever, Nate lets his kisses trail up the side of her neck. They are soft, featherlight; his lips ghost over the multiple marks that have accumulated there before lavishing her with an attention that makes her shiver.
For the longest time, this was something he would not allow himself.
For the longest time, he would shy away from Eva’s neck as though burnt, and the first time he let her see the fear in his eyes as his fingertips traced the line of her throat is a moment that remains imprinted on her mind.
(She took his hand and pressed it more firmly against the side of her neck, against the beating pulse there. Gentle, almost as gentle as he always was with her—and always offering him the choice to draw back. He almost stopped breathing, but his eyes never left hers, and that single instant stretched out into moments, into something she still struggles to name.)
A lifetime seems to have passed since then.
He does not shy away from it now. Not now.
“I wish we could stay like this,” Eva murmurs.
Just this, right here.
A single moment, endless. One where nothing else matters or even exists. One where the thoughts that have been plaguing her have no power or importance.
“We can,” Nate whispers in return. His breath is warm, still close to her skin, and he follows it with another kiss directly over her pulse. “As long as you want to.”
She lets out a sigh. It would be so easy.
God, so easy.
So easy it’s terrifying.
The temptation to never talk about it again hasn’t gone away.
But thoughts become corrosive. They seep into every last piece of her sanity that she’s tried to keep safe. Into every dream and every waking moment until nothing, nothing remains untainted.
The way she flinches when she sees the scar, when she barely paid attention to it before. The way she looks at herself in the mirror and finds flaws she hadn’t noticed, the way she sometimes wants nothing more than to open her skin and drain out the blood to get it all out. Maybe that would help.
No, it would not be that easy.
“Not that long,” she forces herself to say. The words are always stuck in her throat, and they will not come out on their own. “Not forever.”
Nate’s kisses stop, and the briefest moment of tension tightens his embrace—something Eva might not have noticed if she didn’t know him like she does. But he speaks into the crook of her neck, tenderness the only thing in the softness of his voice. “Do you want to talk about it now?”
It has only been a few days since he’d mentioned it.
“I don’t think I’ll ever want to talk about it,” Eva admits. “But I have to stop acting like it’s something we don’t have to talk about.”
She sighs again, sinking further against him. Her own hands come to rest on his arms, wrapping them more tightly around her. “I just don’t know what to do. Where do we go from here?”
Nate hums, a soft sound she’s come to recognize as a contradictory mix of subtle exasperation and patience, tempered by love and concern. She’s been on the receiving end of it more than a few times. “We’ll get to that part. Let’s take it one thing at a time.”
Unspoken: For now, just tell me how you feel.
Also unspoken (because it has been spoken too many times): You don’t have to solve everything by yourself. You don’t have to solve everything right away.
He knows her too well.
It makes her want to cry, that he knows her this well.
“I just never thought about this.” Didn’t think it wouldn’t work. “I didn’t even consider it.” Her voice is barely above a whisper. Small. So fucking defeated.
Because if she can’t do anything—
“None of us did,” Nate says, and that cuts deep, too.
He does not have defeat in his voice like she does, but the barely concealed pain is enough to make her eyes sting.
The fact that he’s trying to conceal it at all.
For her sake.
Because if she can’t do anything, then what’s left?
(“Nate, I don't get to have a normal life.” She’d been trying not to raise her voice, to rein in the tremor in her words. Trying, and failing. “Not with this blood, not with these scars. Not with everything that's happened to me already. Do you think anyone can be normal after that?”
One of the many times they’d argued about this. He had tried, wanted to show her value in humanity that she could never see.
He’d turn back, he’d choose to be human, to be mortal, if only he could.
“Even if I could have that,” she’d added, more quietly. “I don’t want it. If this all went away, what do you think would be left of me?”)
She shifts in his arms, turns around until she can face him.
“I wanted this, Nate.” She lifts a hand to close her fingers around the pendant that hangs from her neck, the one she never takes off, the one he gave her. She closes them so tightly her nails dig into her palm. “I wanted us, like this, forever. I wanted it so much I don’t know how to be anything else anymore. Nothing else makes sense even if I try.”
Nate covers her hand with his own, both closed around the pendant. He hesitates before speaking, examining her with eyes that betray the depth of feeling in them, but eventually, he does. “I know nothing can dull the pain of having the choice taken from you,” he says, careful, too careful. He’s been through this. “I know that. I would give everything I have to spare you that hurt.”
“But I’m—” A soft breath escapes his lips, something that is not intentional, something that is far less controlled. “I’m not going anywhere. I will make that promise a thousand times over. It will still be… it can still be forever, for you. You still have us. You still have me.”
“And you’ll just watch? You’ll watch me get older, weaker, god knows what else? You’ll be okay with that? With watching me die?”
The questions leave her mouth like bullets, one after the other.
Harsh. Too raw. The things neither of them wants to hear.
She’s the one panicking, now.
She’s said this before.
And Nate flinches, flinches at the bluntness of it—she wants to take it back at that, even when she knows it has to be said—but it does not make his voice waver when he speaks. “I love you,” he says, as though that answers all her questions. “Nothing can change that. Every second you’ve chosen to give me has been something precious, something I have treasured, and it will continue to be, no matter what.”
One of his hands moves to tangle in the wet locks of her hair. To hold her in place, staring into the depth of his brown eyes, eyes that reflect back the same hurt she feels even if he will not say it.
“Before we talked about this, before you decided to turn, I—I knew I might not have you forever. I didn’t dare to hope I would, didn’t dare to think of it. But loving you is worth any pain that might come from it.”
Her throat constricts, and the emotion in Nate’s voice dulls the edge she’d imparted to her words. Of course Nate would say this. Of course he would think this, would feel this.
He would break himself to keep her.
He would break himself for her, without even a hint of hesitation.
(I won’t do that to you. She’d said that.)
She looks away, blinking to get rid of the tears that prickle at her eyes. She fixes her stare on the edge of the bathtub: gleaming, burnished copper misted over with condensation.
Instead of following that line of thought—she doesn’t trust herself to—she grasps at something else. Something that stabs with equal force at her chest.
It sounds like someone else speaking when she says, “I don’t want to be less than you.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the way he frowns.
“Being human doesn't make you less, Eva.” Nate is resolute, his voice firm even in its warmth, echoes of a recurring argument neither of them had ever won.
“But it does,” she counters, voice cracking and desperate, turning her face back to meet his eyes. “Don’t you see it? It does, and it will always feel that way. I already have to try so hard just to keep up. What happens when I can’t anymore? What happens when my body gives up, when I'm too slow, too weak to go on missions?”
Why won’t he see it?
She has tried. Tried to make up for her lack of abilities, for her humanity. She has tried to attenuate it, to make sure it does not become a burden.
She has learned combat from Morgan and Adam, spent hours upon hours in the training room with them until she can barely stand, until Adam smiles at her after a well-placed hit, until Morgan throws a towel for her to catch and there’s nothing but pride in the look she gives her.
She has studied the supernatural world in every way she can; submerged herself in it, let it coat every cell of her body and every neuron in her brain.
It is what she breathes.
And she’s been forced out of it.
“That still wouldn’t make you less, nothing could.” The affection, the love in his voice burns. “There is so much more to you than what you can do.”
She shakes her head.
“I swore I wouldn’t be a burden to this team. And you know how I am, Nate, I couldn’t bear—I don’t want to get left behind. And I will. You’ll keep on being who you are and I… won’t.”
The tears aren’t pricking at her eyes anymore. They are falling.
The words aren’t stuck in her throat anymore.
“Everything I told you I didn’t want, all of it, that’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it. And I have this thing inside me that’s making it all happen and my body isn’t mine anymore. I don’t get a say in any of it.”
She leans forward to rest her head on his shoulder, seeking the comfort of his touch even when it won’t, it can’t be enough. Not for this.
She is instantly enveloped in his arms, drawing her closer against him.
“I’m sorry, mi vida,” she whispers against his skin. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“I’m sorry, too,” he answers, quiet, almost too quiet, into her hair.
And there is a thought.
Because if there is nothing she can do—
But this is one she refuses to even entertain. To acknowledge.
I won’t do that to you.
She’d said that.
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pairing: nate sewell x eva navarro
word count: 1k
warnings: mentions of alcohol
read on ao3
look, we all know we’re never getting the bisexuality conversation in canon, so i’m just gifting it to myself: nate and eva are both bi, and they talk about it. that’s the fic.
“I… started dating when I was fifteen.”
She doesn’t look at Nate when she speaks.
A slight frown on her face, Eva looks at the glass of gin and tonic in her hand instead, the ice cubes in it half-melted: it’s an easy thing to focus on, and the effects of it are already becoming clearer in the way she talks, far more freely than usual.
She doesn’t usually talk about this.
Not that there’s anything to hide, certainly not from Nate.
It’s just not a topic she finds herself coming to often. It’s tied to certain things she’d rather avoid.
And yet she keeps going, and Nate lets her. Lets her talk as much as she wants to. Needs to.
“Mostly as a way to be out of the house, you know? Rebecca wasn’t around except on weekends”—she pretends not to notice the way Nate winces at the mention—“and I was too old for nannies already. It was just me. So I just… found other things to do. Had school, joined a lot of clubs. And, well, dating. Fooling around a bit. Didn’t really know what I was doing.”
It hadn’t been so bad, though. She’d never dated anyone for long, but she’d never had bad experiences.
Bobby had been the worst, and that had been much later. Even that hadn’t really left much of a mark, except for the one on her career.
“I came out at sixteen,” she adds. “It wasn’t hard, not really. People here didn’t care too much. I thought they would—I thought it was the end of the world. But it was fine. Rebecca didn’t care, either. She was alright about that. But it still felt… weird. You know? Like you have something to prove to yourself.”
She shakes her head, lets it go.
But then a thought that has been nagging at her for a while makes its way up her throat before she can stop it.
It’s just, well, Nate.
Nate with his brown skin that seems to glow in the light of her open-plan apartment. Nate with his tumbler of expensive whiskey that he brought here himself (she wouldn’t have known what to buy, would probably not have had the budget for it); Nate with his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close to him, always.
Gorgeous, sweet, wonderful Nate—whom she’s very nearly in love with—whom she can’t get out of her mind and who is three hundred years old.
She can’t wrap her head around it.
So, she asks.
“What was it like for you?”
She’s still talking to the glass. Still frowning.
“You’ve been alive so long, I can’t even imagine—back then, it must have been—”
It must have been so tough.
It’s one thing for her to be out in the twenty-first century and another very different thing for Nate to have been born in the sixteen hundreds. And she knows he’s had lovers before, knows he must have navigated it all somehow, and still—
But then rational thought catches up with her words, and she stops herself.
She shakes her head. “You don’t have to tell me,” she says immediately.
She means it.
She’s seen the way Nate looks whenever family comes up, even her own. Whenever his past comes up, and from the few things she’s pieced together—the carnival mirror, the few comments he’s made, him being in the Navy—she can’t blame him, wouldn’t even dream of pushing him to talk about it.
It must all be so raw. Her questions aren’t worth that.
“I’m just… curious about you,” she adds by way of explanation, echoing something he’d said to her once. “But if it’s too much, I really don’t need to know. I promise.”
She’s made that clear to him (at least, she hopes she’s made that clear). Whatever happened to him only needs to come out when he’s ready to talk about it. If he’s ready to talk about it.
Before she can lose herself in her thoughts, however, Nate tightens his arm around her.
“It’s okay. You can ask.” He smiles down at her and it’s strained, yes, but she can tell it’s sincere. (It’s there, in the way it reaches his eyes, warm and soft and sweet and she’s never had anyone look at her like that before). “I just… try not to think about it too much these days, about how it was. When you’ve lived this long…” He trails off.
“But it wasn’t easy at first, no. Not when I was in the Navy. I believe that’s when I first realized.” He gives a soft laugh, but there isn’t much humor in it. “It would have been difficult not to.”
“I tried to—” He shakes his head, as though thinking better of what he was about to say. She doesn’t press. “It didn’t matter so much after I joined the Agency, as long as I kept to interactions with other supernaturals.”
Something, something in the way he says that makes Eva think that’s not how it always was. She couldn’t imagine Nate forgoing human interaction entirely, Agency or not.
There’s a question on the tip of her tongue, but she knows it’s not the time to ask it.
Still, she wonders.
Why does he care so much? Why would anyone, after everything he’s been through? She hasn’t been through a fraction of that and she barely cares at all.
“It’s just how it was. But I wasn’t always unhappy. I was lucky, for the most part; luckier than I could have been.”
There it is. She’s learned to read this, too—she wouldn’t call it deflection, and she knows he’s not lying, but it’s a very clear indicator that the topic is over.
It’s that tension in his smile.
But then the tension dissipates when he speaks again. “And now I’ve found you. That makes up for everything else.”
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