Isellta sat in the middle of his bed with a vast array of candy bars spread before him. He smiled.
“Oh, which one to eat first?”
Robin entered the room and approached the bed.
Isellta sat up straight, his wings already flapping. “Robin!”
The vampire looked down at him with cold, empty eyes.
Isellta’s wings went still. He tilted his head. “Robin?”
He climbed on the bed.
Isellta’s eyes widened.
The skin on Robin’s fingers and hands and arms melted away to reveal a black shadow’s clawed hands and spiked arms.
It crawled towards him, shedding more and more of Robin’s form and exposing more and more of its true self.
Isellta untucked his legs and scurried to the edge of the bed.
The creature sank its claws deep into the fey’s right leg. It jerked him back to the middle of the bed and pinned him down.
Isellta cried out in pain and panic.
Other shadow creatures appeared. They converged around him. Their red eyes glinted with hunger. Their wide maws gaped.
“no. please. please don’t. don’t.”
They crawled all over him, biting and scratching and tearing.
And he couldn’t escape.
“Robin. Robin! ROBIN!”
Isellta woke up, whimpering. He curled up closer to Jay and grabbed the back of the man’s shirt as if his life depended on it.
“nnnghhh…” Jay tried to move away from him.
Isellta panicked and threw his leg over Jay’s legs. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”
Jay opened his eyes a crack. “Isellta?”
He moved his leg away. “Please. I don’t want them to get me. I don’t want them to touch me. If you leave me alone, they’ll find me. They’ll bite me. They’ll hurt me.”
Jay opened his eyes wider. “What’s going on? Who’s…What?”
“The monsters. They found me in my dreams. They know where I am. They’ll…” He shuddered. “They’ll…”
“Shh. It’s all right. You’re safe. This room is a monster-free zone.”
Isellta peeked up at him.
“It is. I’m serious. They know better than to mess with me. Last monster that came in here uninvited left with missing fangs, an unhinged jaw, and four out of eight broken legs.”
Isellta smiled a shy, uncertain smile.
“I won’t let anyone hurt you, kid. You’re safe with me.”
Isellta laid his head against Jay’s chest.
“Jay. Do you think…Will Robin be able to protect me from the monsters?”
“If he loves you enough, he will.” Jay stroked his hair. “I know he will.”
Isellta sighed. “You’re so kind to me. I wish I could love you the way I love Robin. I don’t understand why I don’t. It doesn’t make sense.”
Jay didn’t offer an explanation. He just kept stroking Isellta’s hair.
Isellta closed his eyes and enjoyed the rise and fall of the human’s chest. It made him feel safe.
It made him think of home and a memory.
Isellta stood in front of his mother’s full length mirror.
He removed his shirt and looked at his reflection.
At his immature black wings peeking over his small shoulders.
“Show-off!” “Freak!” “Half-human!”
He rubbed away his tears and held his head a little higher.
“I can do this.”
He tried to pull them under his skin, using just his back muscles.
“Uhh.uhh. uhh.” He scrunched his eyes shut and tried even harder. “Ugh. Ugh. Ugh!”
“If you don’t put those wings away, ya little freak, I’ll break them off.”
“Come on. Come on!”
“Your daddy must have been a human. Whoever heard of a fey who couldn’t put away their wings? What kind of freak are you?”
“I can do this. I can…”
“You’re a disappointment to me.”
Isellta gave up and ran to his room.
He climbed into his bed and curled up with his favorite pillow. He cried into it.
His bedroom door opened.
He tried to get his breathing into a normal pattern.
“Isellta?” His father walked over to the bed.
Isellta rubbed his face into his pillow.
He cleared his throat and released his pillow. “I got mad. The other kids were making fun of me and saying you aren’t my real dad and…I got mad at them. I yelled at them.”
“Isellta. Sit up. Let me look at you.”
He obeyed, but he kept his gaze fixed on his blanket.
‘You aren’t hurt. So, that’s good.”
He focused on his blanket’s lined pattern. “Mom says I’m a disappointment.” He sniffled. “Do I disappoint you too?”
“To be completely honest, yes.”
Isellta drew his shoulders forward.
“You can barely control your emotions. You always have your wings on display.”
“I can’t help it! I tried to put them away, but I can’t. I can’t!” All of the tears he’d been holding back escaped.
It made him want to drop dead.
He covered his face with his hands, which only made his crying worse.
His father didn’t say anything.
He pulled Isellta forward and held him close.
Isellta laid his head against him and lost his misery in the steady rise and fall of his father’s chest.
Neither father nor son said a word.
They simply held on to each other until Isellta’s hurt was gone.