If I'd been guarding Adrian or someone like him, I would probably have had to put up with sexual jokes about us sleeping near each other for the next six weeks. But Christian treated me in the casual, brusque way one might a sister. He cleared a spot on the floor for me, and by the time he returned from brushing his teeth, I'd made myself a cozy bed out of blankets. He flipped off the lights and climbed into his own bed.
After several quiet moments, I asked, "Christian?"
"This is the time when we sleep, Rose."
I yawned. "Believe me, I want that too. But I have a question."
"Is it about Victor? Because I need to sleep, and that's just going to piss me off again."
"No, it's about something else."
"Why didn't you make fun of me over what happened with Stan? Everyone else is trying to figure out if I messed up or did it on purpose. Lissa gave me a hard time. Adrian did a little. And the guardians ... well, never mind about them. But you didn't say anything. I figured you'd be the first one with a snappy comment."
More silence fell, and I hoped he was thinking about his answer and not falling asleep.
"There was no point in giving you a hard time," he said at last. "I know you didn't do it on purpose."
"Why not? I mean, not that I'm contradicting you - because I didn't do it on purpose - but why are you so sure?"
"Because of our conversation in culinary science. And because of the way you are. I saw you in Spokane. Anyone who did what you did to save us ... well, you wouldn't do something childish like this."
"Wow. Thanks. I ... well, that means a lot." Christian believed me when no one else did. "You're like the first person who actually believes I just messed up without any ulterior motives."
"Well," he said, "I don't believe that either."
"Believe what? That I messed up? Why not?"
"Weren't you just listening? I saw you in Spokane. Someone like you doesn't mess up or freeze." I started to give him the same line I'd given the guardians, that killing Strigoi didn't make me invincible, but he cut me off: "Plus, I saw your face out there."
"Out... on the quad?"
"Yeah." Several more quiet moments passed. "I don't know what happened, but the way you looked ... that wasn't the look of someone trying to get back at a person. It wasn't the look of someone blanking out at Alto's attack either. It was something different.... I don't know. But you were completely consumed by something else - and honestly? Your expression? Kind of scary."
"Yet...you aren't giving me a hard time over that either."
"Not my business. If it was big enough to take you over like that, then it must be serious. But if push comes to shove, I feel safe with you, Rose. I know you'd protect me if there was really a Strigoi there." He yawned. "Okay. Now that I've bared my soul, can we please go to bed? Maybe you don't need beauty sleep, but some of us aren't that lucky."