live with me forever now

by renegadekarma

She’ll wait an eternity for Benjamin Gray to wake up, but Tatiana hopes with all her heart that she won’t have to.

The radio shifts back and forth between stations, the driver and the passenger seat occupant each twirling the dial when the other changes it back. After a while, when Don’t Stop Believing and Bohemian Rhapsody each sound unappealing, the driver shuts off the music and the two continue driving in companionable silence.

After a moment, he asks without taking his eyes off of the road, “When did you learn how to drive?”

The woman in the passenger seat considers this question, leaning her head against the cool glass of the window. “World War One,” she decides after a moment, “Right when the suffrage movement was at its peak. I used to sneak out with the soldiers and make them teach me how to drive.” She shoots a glance at him. “What about you?”

“About ten years ago,” he answers, and then pauses. “My Dad taught me as soon as I was old enough to.”

Their companionable silence continues.

Tatiana Penvrane has lived quite a long life since her birth in 1860s. In her youth, she moved from village to village, changing appearance and direction every time someone hissed vampire or witch in her direction. She can claim to be neither. Her gift is immortality, the eternal youth and regeneration that keep her features looking about twenty-five.

The man beside her actually is around twenty-five. Benjamin Gray was born in 1990 but in 2015 looks the same age as the woman beside him. He knows that she’s immortal. He doesn’t mind. She might have dated others before him, but she’s never loved anyone as ardently as she loves him – and she doubts that she ever will love someone this much ever again.

They met two years earlier in a coffeeshop – he’d spilled his drink down her front when they’d collided in line, and apologized profusely thrice, much to her amusement, before offering to buy her a drink. Then she’d pointed out that he’d been the one to lose his drink in their collision and that she should be the one getting him another one. He’d smiled at her brilliantly after that, and the rest was history.

Immortality might have been a bit of a roadblock in her past romances, but not necessarily in this one. Benjamin had, understandably, been shocked when she’d confessed her condition to him one night, but he was patient and understanding. She might not be able to spend all of her life with him – but he could spend all of his with her, and he’d promised her that he would.

They’re driving back from a friend’s party, the night road quiet for the time being. Tatiana’s hazel gaze flits sideways before returning to the window beside her. When she glances back at him, his eyes meet hers, and he lifts an eyebrow. “What?”

“Nothing,” she grins at him, leaning her head on her seat toward the side closer to him, but she can’t help it, “You’re cute when you’re driving. At peace, I mean.”

“I thought you said I was the sappy one,” he replies in amusement, but she sees his lips curve upward into that brilliant grin of his that she adores before his pale gaze brightly meets hers again.

His eyes are only off the road for a moment, but it’s enough – a dark shape materializes from the night, and it catches her attention too late. “Benj—“

Her words are cut off as the other car swerves into their lane, the front of it colliding with the driver’s side of their car. Tatiana doesn’t even have time to scream before the two cars make a shuddering impact, and suddenly, the night envelopes her.

When she wakes up, she’s in a hospital bed, a nurse leaning over her with a flashlight in her eyes. “She’s conscious,” the woman in scrubs calls to another one over her should before patting Tatiana on the shoulder. “You got lucky, honey. No concussion, no internal injuries – just one broken arm.”

Her throat is dry, but she can already tell that she’s alright. In day or two, her arm will be entirely healed. Right now, it’s not her fate that she worries for, but her boyfriend’s. She turns to the nurse, her eyes wide and wild in panic. “Where’s Benjamin?”

There’s no explanation needed for who he is. The nurse’s lips settle into a grim line at the question. “He’s… “ She trails off, presumably trying to find some way to phrase his condition that won’t alarm the immortal woman, but it’s too late.

Tatiana throws the flimsy sheet off of the bed and rushes down the corridor, the nurse jogging to keep up with her. “You can’t go into the ICU,” she wheezes, and the brunette woman makes a sharp turn left and pushes into the next ward without heeding the command.

Before she can get kicked out of the ward, she sees him. His curly blonde hair is sticking crimson with dried blood as a team of medics surrounds his bed, one of them in charge barking orders at the others. As she watches, they jab him with an IV, and wheel him in the opposite direction. They only take notice when she begins to follow, and then the head doctor orders the nurse who’d followed her in to take her out. Tatiana leaves kicking and screaming.

She waits silently on a bench outside the ICU once she’s calmed down enough to be rational, her slender arms crossed in front of her chest as she waits. The nurse has insisted on putting her arm in a cast, even if Tatiana knows better and is aware that she won’t need it soon when she heals within the following few days. The brunette waits for hours, her mouth in a thin line.

When the doctor emerges, she springs to her feet, having dozed off on the bench until she hears the sound of approaching footsteps. “Mrs. Gray?” he questions when he sees her sitting on the bench as she quickly rubs the sleep from her eyes.

Tatiana shakes her head. Her throat is dry, but she has to ask, “How is he?”

The doctor tries to manage his features so that they’re neutral, but she can see right through them. She’s had a long lifetime to master a body language. “Don’t beat around the bush,” Tatiana warns him sternly, and the man is so shocked that he actually complies.

“He’s in a coma. He’ll live, but probably only on life support. The next few days are critical. If he doesn’t wake up within the next week, it’s unlikely he ever will, and the crash was pretty bad. The other driver’s dead.”

Tatiana has tried to brace herself, but the words sting nonetheless. She averts her eyes and asks cautiously, “What are the chances he’ll wake up?”

“No one can say.” The doctor heaves out a sigh and adds, “But they don’t look to be in his favor. He was in pretty bad condition. You were the lucky one.”

He leaves then, and she stares at the ground blankly. It’s unfair, she thinks suddenly, that she’s the one he can’t die, and yet it’s her who escapes with the minor injury while his life is at stake. If this is the price she pays for her gift, then she wants nothing to do with it.

Tatiana Penvrane does not cry, but she stays firmly on her bench, staring at the ground as her fingers clench.

At first, they don’t let her into his room because only family members are allowed in. They mistake her for his wife in the start, and she’s almost tempted to let them if it lets her in, but her conscience won’t let her. She’d promised herself when she was young and discovering her immortality that she will never marry; she doesn’t want to carry on someone else’s name after their death, no matter how much she loves them.

It’s only after Tatiana makes enough noise in the reception area that the nurse who’d put her arm in a cast takes her aside and very kindly allows her to enter his room secretly. He’s out of surgery but still in the ICU; she sneaks in quietly and sits beside his bed, brushing back his curls and telling him that things will be alright and she’ll stay with him for as long as it takes him to wake up.

A doctor eventually discovers her and kicks her out. It doesn’t stop her from sneaking in again the next day, and the next day, and the next day after that.

Eventually, the doctors and nurses pretend to look the other way when she steps into the ICU and sits on the edge of her boyfriend’s bed, holding his hand between both of hers. The patients cheer her on. This is love, and she refuses to abandon him.

Several weeks pass, and then months, and his condition doesn’t change. Tatiana still hasn’t left his side.

One day, a patient in a wheelchair asks her why she’s still there. The doctors have predicted that he won’t ever wake up, but he remains on life support. His parents are unwilling to let him go yet when there’s still a sliver of a chance he might come back.

“I’ll wait for however long it takes to see him smile again,” she answers simply and truthfully. It was the last thing he’d done before the crash; she’d give anything to see him smile at her one more time. When the man in the wheelchair lifts an eyebrow at her in sympathy, she laughs and adds, “That was sappy. Sorry, he’s meant to be the sappy one.” The thought sobers her, and she turns and slips back into his room before she can say anything more that reminds her of the past.

She’ll wait an eternity for Benjamin Gray to wake up, but Tatiana hopes with all her heart that she won’t have to.

She’s sitting beside his bed one day, reading aloud from her favorite book. Her voice is quiet as not to disturb the sleeping patients nearby, but she continues reading, pausing only to lean conspiratorially toward him.

“Did you know I actually met F. Scott Fitzgerald once? Lovely man, horrible life. He was writing Gatsby at the time. Sometimes I wonder if I interrupted him when I spoke to him, and he lost his train of thought and ended up writing something different than he intended. What if the entire book had turned out differently just because I talked to him?”

Tatiana has been speaking steadily to him for several long moments – she’s learned it’s easier that way, if she doesn’t leave gaps in the conversation. Benjamin won’t answer, and she’s stopped fooling herself that he will as she talks to him. Instead, her words are an uninterrupted stream as she turns back to the book and continues reading, his hand in hers just like always when she sits by his side.

One of his fingers curls and brushes her palm.

There’s an abrupt freeze at this motion, and Tatiana begins to believe that she’s just imagined it. She’s been hoping for so long that a bit more wishful thinking doesn’t seem too out of place – but then his finger twitches again, and her breath hitches in her throat as Benjamin blinks open his blue eyes and focuses them on her.

Her favorite book – the 1925 copy of The Great Gatsby that she treasures above all her possessions – thuds to the floor in her surprise as she leans forward, her face over his, so that her dark chocolate locks brush his cheek. “Benj?”

If her throat has gone dry, his must be even drier, but he rasps out in response, “Tatty.”

Tatiana is aware that her first response should be to call for a doctor, but she doesn’t care. She’s waited an entire year for him, and she will not be robbed of this moment.

So instead, she leans down and cups his cheeks in her hands before she peppers his face in quick, affectionate kisses in relief. Now she finally knows she’s not lost the one true love of her long life.

And when she draws away, she finally sees his familiar smile again, and the entire wait is suddenly worth it for this shining moment.