“Aidan, can we go to the beach?”

“Why?” The Hunter is pulling his trousers back on, and Ellis draws the blankets up over his bare torso. Aidan’s eyes are inquisitive; not scorning, just curious. Ellis gives one of those small smiles that somehow encompasses every wistful and dreamy emotion simultaneously.

“I went once. My father took mother and my sister and me, but I was so young that I barely remember it. I can only recall an endless expanse of blue and the cry of the gulls and the crash of the waves. It has taken on a rather dreamlike quality to me over such a long time. If you want the less poetic version, it would be because I think it would be fun, and I have never been able to go by myself because I’ve never ventured out of the city. It would take so long that I would return after dusk, and then I would most likely be intercepted and killed by vampires along the way.”

Aidan smirks. “And what would make this so different?” Of course, he knows the answer, but he would like to hear it out of Ellis’s mouth.

“I would have you, obviously. Perhaps I take for granted that you are able to protect me. Naturally, I would try my best as well, but the efficiency would be comparatively infinitesimal.” The priest half expects Aidan to say no. God forbid Ellis ever consider an outing such as this a date.

“Want to invite anyone else?”

Oh. Wonders never cease.

“I was not thinking that far ahead,” Ellis says honestly. “But if you would like to invite anyone, I would not much protest.”


“Must you make things so difficult? I will not protest whatsoever.”

“Well, invite some people if you want. I might do the same.” Aidan’s brow creases slightly. “But if you invite Sophie, the deal is off.”

“Sophie? Whatever would I invite her for? She would drown me.”

“Speaking of drowning, do you even know how to swim?” Now the Hunter simply looks skeptical. Within reason, Ellis supposes. He is not known as the most prolific of people. Nevertheless, he smiles and sits up, hugging his knees to his chest.

“For your information, I can. Badly, granted, but I shall take what I can get. Not keen on going over the daily quota of life-saving, are we?”

“I’m not gonna tote you around all day.”

Obviously. I shall ask around, but I will keep in mind who you do and do not like, which is mostly everyone I associate with. If I am feeling particularly grumpy with you, I shall invite the person you like least after Sophie.”

“Charming. Maybe I’ll invite Essa, dump you in the ocean, and go off with her. She’s not as needy.”

“Do what you want. I am not able to stop you.”

You have no idea.

“Damn straight. Well, I’m off. See you, Ell.”

“Have a good night.”

“Yeah, sure. You too.”

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