Stillness. A sort of deadness in the air. The sense that he was the only one in the world and he would be doomed to walk the deserted Earth forever. But watching the rise and fall of Kaatya’s chest, the reminders that it was the middle of the night and that everything else in the house was asleep faded into insignificance. She breathed; she lived. Charlie could spend a few centuries encapsulated in a private bubble with Kaatya. Easily.
After so long of being alone, of completely depending on himself, she was the warmth his chilled heart had needed. Acceptance, understanding, waiting open arms at the end of trying days: she was all these things. And she was more. Charlie wanted to wrap his arms around her and never let her go. He lay beside her on her bed, their bodies separated by the duvet but their hearts still connected. His hand had slipped underneath the cover and his fingers had found her wrist. His thumb rested on her pulse, the slow rhythmic beat his assurance that his love was still alive and not a wretched, unearthly creature like him and the warmth of her skin a reminder of what physical warmth was - his own having been lost when his heart had stopped beating. He closed his eyes in contentment. For a moment, the image remained in his mind: Kaatya sleeping peacefully in a pool of moonlight, her long dark hair spread around her if not sandwiched between her light, delicate body and the cotton sheet on her mattress; before, on the wings of an angel, the memory of their bedtime kiss this evening floated into his mind.
“Night, Charlie,” Kaatya said softly, her lovely dark green eyes slightly intense as they sat on top of her duvet, the only things important to each other in the spacious bedroom.
“Night, Kaatya,” he whispered back, returning her focused, unwavering gaze. He hesitated, always frightened of doing something wrong, so Kaatya took his face in her hands, leant forwards and kissed his lips. Closing his eyes, Charlie sank completely into the kiss. Pulling her into him so she straddled his waist and her arms wrapped around his neck, he reciprocated it, almost tortured by beautiful feelings he had been denied for too long: happiness, peace, belonging and fulfilment. Kaatya had given his existence meaning. When she withdrew and guided his head to her neck, he hesitated again, worried she might think the sweet wine inside her veins was the only reason he wanted her - even if she offered to feed him. He kissed the skin of her neck instead, nuzzling into the burrow provided by human contours.
Ruffling his hair affectionately, Kaatya pretended to sigh resignedly.
“Am I going to have to pierce myself with a safety pin?”
At this suggestion, Charlie instantly bit down, feeling her tense at the slight pain before relaxing as he lapped rhythmically at the warm, nutritious liquid he no longer held in his own body. She stroked his arms, his sides, his legs as he drank. When he was done, Kaatya slipped beneath her bedcovers, expecting Charlie to lie down beside her of his own accord. Snuggling close to her, though on top of the duvet to resist the temptation of making love to her so early on in their relationship, Charlie kissed her brow.
“Night, my love.”
Back in the present, Charlie drew in unnecessary air for a sigh. Could things be any more perfect?
Kaatya stirred slightly and he opened his eyes, ready to intervene her sleep was being troubled by a nightmare. But she had a smile on her face and she mumbled, “Love you, Charlie,” evidently dreaming about him.
And even though she probably couldn’t hear him, Charlie replied softly, “I love you too, Kaatya. Now and forever.”