“Nothing.” I shook my head. “Everything. Did Mae explain to you what it meant to be bonded?”
“Yeah. I mean, she did the best she could, but considering I’ve never even had a boyfriend, it’s a little hard for me to get a handle on what you guys feel.” Looking the way he did, it would be hard to believe that he’d stay single for much longer.
“It’s not like having a boyfriend.” I chewed my fingernails and stared down at the faded floor tile, thinking of how to explain it. “In a really abstract way, it’s like having a crush, but it’s far more physical than that. From what I can tell, from when Jack’s really having bloodlust, it’s something similar to that.”
“What are you talking about?” Milo squinted at me. “You know what Jack feels when he’s hungry?”
“Kinda. I can feel what he feels, most of the time. Not exactly, unless it’s really intense, but I usually have a sense of what’s going on with him. I think he always purposely eats before we’re together, just to be safe, but I’ve felt what he feels when he really wants my blood.”
A change inside of Jack was completely visceral when he wanted me that way. Raw and intense, there was something frightening about it, but it was completely exhilarating and always made me want him more.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Milo waved his hands to stop. “You feel what he feels? That’s not normal, is it? You never did that before.”
“No. I don’t know if it’s normal.” With a wry smile, I added, “But then again, I don’t really know what’s normal.”
“So, is it him, or is it you that’s behaving unnaturally?” He overlooked my attempt at a joke and kept staring at me severely. That was just like him. He’d discovered something he didn’t understand and he had to figure it out. “Is he pushing his emotions on you, or are you picking up on things?”
“Both?” I shrugged helplessly. “From what I gather, nothing about the way Jack and I feel is natural. He’s not supposed to be into me, you know? I’m only supposed to want Peter, who doesn’t even want me at all.”
“Huh.” Milo took a deep breath and nodded. “It sounds like a clear case of nature vs. nurture.”
He sounded like a doctor giving a diagnosis, and I would’ve mocked him for it if I hadn’t been intrigued. (Something along the lines of “you’re gonna have to face it – you’re addicted to love” would’ve fit there nicely).
“You understand the concept of nature vs. nurture, right?” He gave me that exasperated look he’d been prone to giving me when he taught me calculus. “It’s the basic argument for what compels people to do anything. Is it because of our biology, our animal instincts, or because of the way we were brought up? Do men cheat because of a biological imperative or because they had an absent father?”
“I think those are both too blanket of answers for either of them to really be correct,” I said. “Give two men the same biology and the same upbringing, and they could still make two entirely different decisions.”
“You’re missing the point,” Milo waved me off. “Peter and you, that’s 100% pure nature. Your biology is what draws you together, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, Peter’s fighting it.
“At the same time, Jack is falling for you because of who you are and who he is. He nurtured a relationship with you. From a scientific stand point, it’s very fascinating.”
“I’m glad my quandary of a love life is fascinating. At least it serves a purpose,” I muttered dryly.
“I don’t really see a quandary.” He turned his attention to spinning a bottle top on the table. “You and Jack like each other, and Peter’s out of the picture. Problem solved.”
“I’m sure that we’d run into Peter in the next millennia.”
“What makes you think you’ll live a millennia?” Milo replied.
“Immortality, for one thing.” I dropped my foot from the counter and leaned back, stretching the kink in my shoulders.
“Immortality isn’t really immortality, you know,” Milo told me evenly. “It’s just very long longevity.”
“So you came over to point out that I’m a magnificent specimen in the case for nature vs. nurture, and then tell me that I’m going to die?” I raised my eyebrow at him.
“No, actually.” Milo jumped up suddenly, scaring me. He moved quicker than he ever had before, and his movements were losing that clumsy edge they had when he first turned. “I came over to make you supper.”
“You can still cook?” That sounded much smarter in my head. Because every single thing about Milo had improved upon from the way he was before, it’d be silly to think his cooking skills magically dissolved.
“Yes! And I’m making your favorite.” He went over to the fridge and rummaged through it.
“Hey, can you eat food?” I asked, and again, it sounded smarter in my head.
“Well, yeah, I can eat it. I just can’t digest it.” Milo turned back to face me, his arms overflowing with food. “Jack dared me to try an orange last week, and it tasted terrible. Like eating acidic salt or something. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. But I ate it, and then like five minutes later, I felt terrible and threw up. So that was the end of that.”
“Gross.” I hopped off the counter and took some of the vegetables away from him so I could wash them up.
“Food isn’t appealing anymore. The only thing that ever sounds good is blood. And you know what else? Blood tastes different!” Milo said this really excitedly, like he was shedding light on something for me.
“You mean like from how it tasted when you were human?”
“Yeah, but that’s not what I meant. Different kinds of blood have different flavors. It’s just really weird cause I’ll find myself craving different types. Blood from women tastes different, and Asian blood is different, and then the types, like O or AB positive taste different too,” Milo went on, and he was talking the same way he used to talk about ingredients for a new recipe he’d just learned. “There’s a whole cornucopia of flavors out there!”
“Good to know,” I replied, unsure of what else to say to that.
“I bet your blood tastes really good.” Milo stared at me intently, enough to make me nervous, and I moved away a little bit. “It smells sweet and… rich.”