Through the berating and yelling, Ghost shrinks back into his wheelchair. His eyes go wide; he hadn’t imagined a little remark to have such an effect on Eternal, but then it dawns on him that this is not about the short joke. Eternal really believes he’ll just keel over one of these days, dead?
An then he remembers he’s thought those same thoughts himself. That his time would run out if he didn’t make some kind of cure or formula, or some kind of mechanical contraption to aid him. That he would die without it.
It’s like an epiphany. The idea of someone else growing attached and fearing his death finally roots itself in his mind as a realistic situation, that it really could be possible.
And boy, does it hit him hard.
"N-no, I understand," he says, and his voice is barely above a whisper, a breath, "I understand entirely. The idea seemed so foreign to me before, I didn’t— I understand now. Oh, oh, I— E-Eternal, I didn’t—" He pauses and swallows the lump in his throat; his chest feels hollow and cold.
The scientist, with shaking hands, reaches into his pocket and pulls out the weathered out pipe, and he holds it out to Eternal. He says nothing else.
Eternal stares at him for a moment and then gently, ever so gently, takes the pipe, holding it delicately in his hands. He refuses to look at Ghost,
"I’m not mad." He says in a low voice, "I just…lose people. A lot. I lose them so easily, Ghost. And—and maybe it’s selfish but I…I don’t like seeing people…leave. I don’t like seeing you guys leave. I don’t like watching you hurt yourselves. I don’t like watching your life forces sputter as they try to keep up with the demands you put on them. I…I don’t…I just want…to keep you all…I want to…take care of you…"
His voice has gotten steadily lower until it’s barely above a terrified whisper,
"And you’re the hardest, Ghost. Out of everyone, you’re the hardest to watch. You…you deteriorate because of your own actions and you don’t even notice. It’s…hard. Not just on me but on everyone. And I just…want….I just want everyone alive. Alive, safe, and happy…"
The guardian ducks his head, bangs shadowing his face,
"I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m sorry. I was just…I was scared."