Antioch brushed his teeth.
He’s just a scarred vampire with a brash mouth.
Just a small, lonely boy trapped inside of a man. He wants me to be what I am and what I am not – his father.
I look like him.
I have his memories, his hair, his fingerprints, his voice.
Sometimes I think I feel like him. Sometimes I think like him. I dream like him.
But I am not him.
I am better than him.
I am me.
I am Antioch.
He took a sip of water and swished it around his mouth.
He doesn’t want Antioch.
He wants Peter Hastings and that is who I am not.
Antioch spit the water out.
Oh, I could play the role of Peter Hastings brilliantly. Robin didn’t get his acting talent from his mother. And I have all of the necessary knowledge to pull it off.
If I wanted to pull it off.
Two paths: Fix all of the damage I have done to her and set her free.
Or I destroy her while they watch helpless to save her. Helpless to know that anything is wrong until it’s too late.
An ache touched his heart as she took her last breath in his mind.
It would be a tragic waste of so much hard work.
He rinsed his toothbrush off in the sink and wiped the toothpaste off his face.
Life or death.
It’s my choice.
He put the toothbrush into his gondola-shaped toothbrush holder.
Antioch looked up at his reflection and saw either Peter Hastings or Antioch. It all depended on his next move. On the choice he made.
He smiled and went to bed.
Robin walked two blocks away from Mark Caten’s Funorium and he found it. A skeevy looking place of ill repute simply named Town’s. Its doorway was fifteen steps below street level as if it were trying hard to hide under the pavement.
Robin pushed the doors open and entered a boozy, raucous place where just about anything could happen and did happen.
The air was ripe with the scent of dirt and spoiled meat and the most sour smelling booze possible.
An older couple danced tight Broadway-style choreography on the table in the corner.
A gang of greased-haired punks held center stage, shouting against extraordinaries and equating them with communists. None of their points were particularly that convincing or even that lucid.
Their words annoyed Robin until he realized that they were stuck on endless repeat. That realization made it so much easier to ignore them.
A man and a woman sat in the table next to the punks. They were both smoking cigarettes. After about five or six puffs, they’d switch cigarettes and smoke for another five or six puffs. They stared at each other the whole time with an intensity that was verging on unsettling.
A small group of identical seventy year olds sat at a separate table playing a game that involved cards, dice, cigarillos, and apparently a lot of luck.
And someone at the bar sang the entire score for Hamilton the musical.
Robin smiled. I should take Isellta here. See if his stupid head explodes from the lack of sense goin’ on.
He walked up to the bar and ordered a Post-Whittum Strike.
What would I do if you came hop-scotching in here? Right now?
The bartender gave him his drink – a mysterious black alcohol with sugared cherub heads floating in its inky depths. He then wandered off to serve the Hamilton singer who was currently slaughtering “The Story Of Tonight”.
Robin took a sip. It tasted like black cherries and currants with a sharp Brazil nut kick.
“Hm.” A fey woman sidled up to him. “You’re a brave man, trying a drink like that. It’s known around here as the gut killer.”
Robin shrugged. “I’ve tasted worse.”
“Hm. How about you and I—”
Her wings fluttered in a slow, easy move. “How about—” She turned into Isellta.
Robin fell off his seat.
Isellta pushed the bar stool out of the way. He crouched and tilted his head.
Robin trembled. It can’t be him. It can’t.
Isellta would never be in a place like this.
What if he followed me here?
“Isellta? Is it you? Is it really stupid little you?”
Isellta crept into Robin’s personal space and spread his hands on top of Robin’s hands. “What do you think?”
“I think I—”
The fey leaned forward and kissed him.