I was still sitting in the dark when Claire came home last night. She came inside, locked the door behind her, and set her backpack on the desk. I didn't move, and I don't think she saw me.
Hector the Cat twined himself around her legs, and she reached down to pet him.
I said, "Why haven't you killed me yet?"
She stopped in the act of petting the cat. "Why haven't you killed me yet?"
"I didn't know you worshiped the Father of Serpents until today."
There was a long pause, while she continued scratching the cat. "It shouldn't have mattered," she said. "You sent that thing to Toby, so I reported it. The serpents considered, and decided that it might have been a message meant for them. So I was set to study you, but you gave me... nothing. No threats, no warnings, no information. It was as if you thought I was a normal girl... and I liked that. I liked you."
"I thought you were a normal girl." I'd like to say I paused to think, but in truth my brain just couldn't seem to get going. Apparently it's not just certain of the Ancients which threaten human sanity - there are perfectly ordinary events that the human mind refuses to cope with.
As a species, we kind of suck.
Anyway... After a moment, I added: "I liked you, too. This has been really great."
She stopped scratching the cat and looked at me. "Do you want me to go?"
I don't know! I opened my mouth, then closed it again. I should have waited - I should have gone somewhere until I'd gotten over the shock, instead of trying to talk to her now. Now we were waist-deep in the most important conversation of my life, and I couldn't frame a coherent thought.
Claire came over and sat down on the couch beside me. "I can go," she said. Her voice wasn't steady, but at least she could talk. "Or you can go. Or we can stay together." She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. "You don't have to decide right now."
So... I didn't. I made myself a stiff drink and fell asleep there on the couch. And... I still don't know. We're acting like everything is still the way it was. And... I'm glad about that. I think I just need a day or two to finish freaking out, so I can think about what to do. Until then, I'd better just leave everything on hold.