Antioch sat in a dark room with a lit candle balanced on top of his big block desktop computer. He typed out a long algorithm for the newest XQ to keep her from running away again.
Someone stepped over to the other side of the computer and fwhoo…blew out the candle.
The computer went dark.
Antioch raised his head.
“Who’s there?” His voice echoed and warped and spun around him, tying him down to the chair.
The scent of black licorice and lime spoiled the air. Someone breathed out of pace with Antioch’s breathing. “I’m here, Peter Hastings.”
“Antioch.” Raven wrapped his arm around the other man’s neck and nuzzled his ear. “I’m. RIGHT. HERE!” He spun Antioch’s chair forward and…
Antioch woke up.
It was still daytime.
He could sense that it was 1:45 with thirty-three seconds before 1:46.
The white-haired man sat up with a great amount of care. His head felt like it wanted to disconnect from his neck and roll all the way to Connecticut. He slowly glanced around the room.
Raven wasn’t there.
Antioch sat alone.
For the first time in his life, he thought about the woman he had left behind.
Newly single mother.
Former beauty queen.
Still had some beauty.
Had Robin’s eyes.
But Robin has my hair and my face.
Peter Hastings was Robin’s father and her husband.
I am neither.
I am Antioch.
I am Antioch and I stand alone.
I am free.
But I am not.
Robin needs me.
But he does not.
Where do I stand and where do I go?
What does he want from me?
That fractious brat.
What does he need from me?
What can I give to him?
Antioch sighed and sogged back down onto the bed.
I’ll find him tonight.
I’ll ask him.
Robin opened his eyes.
The rocking chair sat empty and still. Raven had apparently set it back into an upright position.
Isellta’s supposed to be in that chair.
I’m supposed to see stupid him all curled up in that chair.
“You rotten little…Get out of here! Leave me alone!”
Robin snarled and slapped him hard across his face.
He rolled over on his other side.
I hurt him.
No, I didn’t. He’s just another fey. Unfeelin’ mean-spirited…
Isellta backed away from him. He looked hurt. Confused. He looked like he wanted to cry. Then, he disappeared.
He ain’t unfeelin’.
So, why’d he go and trash me like that? Why would…?
He was actin’.
To push me away.
Because I pushed him away.
It’s all I seem to do – push people away from me.
He closed his eyes.
It ain’t my fault.
It’s just how I am.
Your ugly personality. ugly. Ugly. Uhhhhh-guh-leee!
Maybe if I change my ways, I won’t be so ugly anymore. Maybe Isellta will know. Maybe he’ll want me.
But he never wanted me to start with.
He just saw me as a cheap penny-for-your-troubles pinball game.
He flopped onto his back and stared listlessly at the ceiling.
So, what the freakin’ heck am I supposed to do? I can’t keep hopin’ for his return, ’cause it sure don’t seem like it’s gonna happen. Can’t even hope for his love. Ain’t even sure he has any.
The way he looked at me on those monitors…
The way he looked at me when he said “I love you.”
Forget all that.
He freakin’ said “I love you” to me. Could a fey fake something that?
“Tch. Anyone can say “I love you”. People in movies say it all the freakin’ time. Don’t make it real.”
I want it to be real.
He yawned and tried to drift off to sleep.
The Isellta I fell in love with…why can’t he be real? That soft fluttery thing.
How could he be a lie?
How could ev’rythin’ he ever said to me, ev’rythin’ he did for me, how could that all just be nothin’ but a big con job? An award winnin’ performance?
Just a lie?
Isellta’s face appeared in his mind.
His injured expression when Robin slapped him.
His soft expression when Robin told him “I love you”.
That freakin’ stupid cute smile. I don’t know why it gets me every time, but it does. Wrecks my nerves up in the best possible way. Every freakin’ time.
That stupid little fey with his long, skinny body.
But he ain’t even mine.
He opened his eyes.
“And I ain’t gettin’ any sleep.” He sighed and tossed his blankets aside. “Only one thing to do.”