It’s been a while since I’ve seen the rest of the collectors; almost a whole six months already! It’s funny, though, how it feels like it was just a few days ago that Xavier had told me that I was going to die. So many things have changed since then. Like my relationship with the collectors, for instance. Our tolerance for each other has increased quite a bit since I had my death date reset. At first they got mad at me for my indecisiveness about who I wanted to protect me, and then they hated me because I was giving them so much trouble about keeping a low profile. I regret my disobedience in some sense, but at the same time, if I had never snuck out of the Collectors’ house those numerous times, I would have never met and gotten to know Nathaniel the way that I did. I fell in love. After a long while of internal conflict, Nathaniel finally decided to give up his life as a collector to become human. I had argued with him about it, knowing that his work was important to him. Granted, his relationship with the other collectors was far from my more pleasant one, but he was still well on his way to earning his place back in the Heavens. Despite my efforts to smack some sense into him, Nathaniel still went through with his plan. “I didn’t quit because of Xavier and his minions.” He had said sincerely when I had asked him to explain his reasons. “I quit for you.” When he said that, I was at a loss for words. I mean, I knew he loved me, but to give up what seemed to be a huge part of his life just to be a part of mine wasn’t quite making sense to me. As Nathaniel is, he simply smiled at me, taking my hands in his. “Even if I had collected my 10,000 souls and earned my title back, my work would have consumed every minute of my time. I know you would have supported me regardless, but there is a lot of criticism against a Reincarnation Agent having such an intimate relationship with a human. My life, even when doing what I loved, would have never been the same without you.” As much as I wanted to convince Nathaniel to go and take his position back, I couldn’t help but realize how unfortunately true his point was. Nathaniel was the love of my life, and though I wanted desperately for him to live his life without having to worry about me, I don’t know what I’d do without him. So here I was, sitting at my desk at the office, arguing with myself about what I was going to do with him. Now that he had become human, he was no longer a citizen of the Heavens, and would henceforward need Raphael to put the proper paperwork in place if he ever needed to go back. Somehow, though, it didn’t seem to bother him. I mean sure, he never really like the Heavens that much, but it was still his home. I just simply couldn’t get my mind off of the possibility that he would eventually miss the place. “Earth to Aleina!” Someone called from right next to me. I turned to the voice and saw Lea standing there with a concerned look in her eyes. “What’s been up with you these days?! You’ve been here for hours on end insisting that you had work to do, but every time I come to check on you, you always seem to be in another world.” I looked up at my computer screen to find that I hadn’t gotten very far in my report from the last time I had glanced at the page. I looked back over at Lea and attempted a genuine smile. “It’s nothing really. I guess I’ve just had a lot on my mind.” I said, stopping myself as I was about tell her that Nathaniel became human. Wow. That was close. Her reaction would have probably made me feel horrible. I just shrugged at her. “Nathaniel’s just…” I hesitated, figuring I should tell her the closest thing to the truth as possible. “Nathaniel quit his job.” Lea’s eyes widened the slightest bit before she composed herself. “What?! Why? I thought he loved that job?” She said, surprised. “I know… I guess that’s why it bothers me.” I said as I idly tapped a pen on the corner of the keyboard in front of me. “He said he did it for me; that his job would have taken up so much of his time that he would never see me, and that seemed to upset him more than leaving his job did.” I said, wondering how Nathaniel would be feeling about his decision a few weeks from now. Lea smiled at me. “Well, as much as I find it strange that he would give up something so important to him, I think it’s undeniably romantic that he finds you more important.” She said, rubbing my shoulder in an effort to make me feel better. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime, Aleina. I understand that you’re worried, but I think you should take advantage of this newly acquired time and take a long, well-earned vacation with that handsome boyfriend of yours.” She said, smiling again. It was obvious that she was trying to get me to live my life well, and it was equally obvious that she was just as worried about me as I was about Nathaniel. I shook my head at her. “I appreciate it Lea, I really do, but I’ll be fine. I’m just trying to grasp everything that’s happened these past few weeks.” I said as I checked the time. 5:45. I was disappointed at how my distractions were keeping me so occupied that I couldn’t do my work. I was tempted to take Lea up on her offer, but there was so much work here at the office that I had fallen behind on. Not to mention all the new work I haven’t even started on yet. I couldn’t just leave and be gone for months. I could already imagine the piles of work I’d have when I got back. “Besides, I can’t just leave this mess here. Especially considering this pile will probably be about a mile high on my return.” I said, mentally cringing at the thought. “Hey! That’s what you have me for!” She said, grinning widely. “I will cover you for as long as you want. I am a secretary, in case you forgot. I don’t do much up there at my desk all day except answer calls, make appointments, and watch reruns of Friends while drinking who-knows-how-many cups of coffee.” She said, laughing. I couldn’t help but let out a giggle. “And I suppose you would find it refreshing to actually have something to do in your spare time, right?” “Exactly.” She said, chuckling one more time before giving me her serious I’m-your-best-friend-and-I-want-you-to-be-happy face. “Try not to pass this up, Aleina. Considering how well your relationship with Nathaniel is going, and how far you’ve come with him, it’s only a matter of time before you’re both tired and ready to settle down. Go and see the world before you have to do that. It’s not hard to see that you both love each other very much, and that will never change, not in my experience. You are going to want to settle down, you are going to want to get married at some point, and you are going to want a family. It’s obvious that you two have a long future together, and it’s best to make the most of what you guys have right now while you still have a chance to get out in the world. And you have to do all that before you’re tied down.” She said. I blushed a little at Lea’s knowledge of how serious our relationship was. She did have a point though. Knowing how close Nathaniel and I have become, and being a couple with very few setbacks, it was important for us to spend some time together while we didn’t have anything else to worry about. “I’ll definitely think about it!” I said, making her smile widen slightly. “Atta girl!” She said satisfied. “I was thinking about inviting you to go out for drinks, but I remembered it’s Tom and I’s monthly anniversary and also figured you’d want to spend a little time with Nathaniel, so maybe we can all go out for dinner sometime this weekend?” I smiled at her and nodded. “That sounds like a wonderful idea, Lea!” I said, happy that I had such a good friend. “I’m going to stay a little while to tie up some loose ends on this report, so don’t wait up for me.” “Great! We’ll see you then!” She said and then patted my shoulder before turning and heading out of the room. Everyone else had already clocked out by the time I finished my report and handed it in. On my way out, Nathaniel called. “I just clocked out. I’m on my way home now.” I said into the receiving end of my cell. “Good! I just ordered us some take-out from some fancy Chinese restaurant for dinner. I was going to take you out, but I figured you might want to relax after your day.” He said. I smiled to myself, my cheeks flushing a little. ‘Aww! Nathaniel!! Wanting to take me out for dinner just for the heck of it!! He never fails to surprise me with his charm!!’ I thought to myself, giggling. “What’s so funny?” He said. I could almost hear the smile creeping onto his face. “Oh, nothing.” I said, flushing even more. “Your thoughtfulness just makes me happy.” He simply laughed, and we continued talking until I reached the entrance to my apartment building and headed up stairs. I don’t know what I’d do without him. Though it seems I won’t be finding out anytime soon, that’s for sure. Since Nathaniel still had a little time before he had to find an actual human job, I didn’t have to worry about being without him. For at least a few weeks, I would have him all to myself.