Ben came to collect me, sharing a long brotherly hug with both his brother and with Schuyler, who continues to suffer no fools and has taken up some sort of impenetrable fortress of one in front of me.
I don't want to see anyone get hurt, is all Schuyler said by way of explanation. He's all for people having fun. He's had some of the most fun before he grew up and settled down. What he isn't for is watching someone get hurt at the expense of someone else's fun.
It's complicated, I shrug.
Don't defend your devils, he reminds me before he softens his rebuke with a smile and a wink. Besides, you were like having a small human-shaped hot water bottle in bed. I don't think I can do that again now that it's warm out.
Daniel likes it.
I got this. He winks again and I smile back.
I know you do.
Go home to your redhead.
Yeah well, stop making him pull all-nighters fixing shit.
Doing my best. He could have said no.
Not for that sort of stipend.
Well, I had to make sure it was worth leaving you for.
Wow. I guess he has a price.
That's not what I meant.
I know, silly.
He went because he knew you were safe.
No one's going to hurt me, Schuy. You worry too much.
They don't worry enough.
Who are you worried about?
There's a few.
Right. Who else?
Let me worry about that. You just keep your childlike innocence going. It suits you. You love everybody, Bridget. And they all love you back. What could go wrong?
I looked back to see if he was joking with me, if he was smiling but his face was hard and grim before he checked it and smiled again. It didn't reach his eyes this time. And it didn't reach his eyes a few hours later when he had to knock Caleb on his ass after being charged just outside the front door. For fucks sakes. Ben took a turn collecting Schuyler this time instead of me, getting yet another hug though it was to hold him back.