Jeff nodded. “That’s a good answer.” His expression hardened. “But know this: If you break my daughter’s heart in any way and for any reason, I will hunt you down. I will find you. I will stake you. And I won’t regret it.”
“I understand, sir.” Raven’s head wobbled.
“Good. Now, go back to sleep before you topple over on the floor.”
“Very good, sir.” Raven leaned back and was sound asleep in less than two minutes.
LM rubbed his hands up and down his arms as he waited for Antioch to wake.
Please let it work this time so I don’t have to do it again.
Please let it work.
Antioch woke with a hard gasp. Just like all of the times before. He looked at LM. “Again.”
LM stopped rubbing his arms, “I can’t.”
Antioch snarled and scrambled off the bed. He stumbled over to the half-fey. “What’s wrong with you? I said—-” His eyes went blank. He staggered back. “Robin. Where’s my Robin? My little boy.” He stopped and smiled at the ceiling. “My precious little…”
Carthage frowned. “What’s happening?”
LM’s shoulders slumped. “I warned him.”
Antioch chuckled and raised his hands to the ceiling. “Robin. My little Robin bird.” His smile disappeared. He lowered his arms. “But where is he? Why isn’t he here? Where is my son?”
“What’s happening to him?”
“I’ve done it too many times. He’s breaking down.”
Carthage’s face turned pale. “Breaking…Fix him. Make him right again.”
LM lowered his arms in an impatient gesture. “You don’t understand, stupid human. This is not something that can be fixed. His mind is breaking down.”
Carthage shook his head.
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“You’re just saying that. You—”
“Because I know. Antioch is a clone. His body was not meant to withstand—-”
“I don’t care. Fix him!” He grabbed LM’s arms and shook him. “FIX HIM!”
Antioch slowly went down on his knees. “My son.” He covered his face with his hands and doubled over. “I’ve lost you. You’re gone.” He crumpled to the floor. “Come back to me. Robin. Robin. Robin.”
Robin. robin. robin. robin.
Robin startled awake. He glanced around the room. “‘sellta?”
That weren’t my ‘sellta’s voice.
robin robin robin.
“Antioch.” He scoffed. “Yeah, no. I got better things to freakin—-”
my robin. my robin. my little robin bird.
Robin’s pupils widened.
He got out of bed and, without thinking things all the way through, ran to the door. He yanked it open. “Dad?”
robin robin my little robin bird.
His heart pounded inside his ears as he ran down the hall. “Dad! Where are you?”
robin robin robin robin robin
He ran down the stairs so fast he tripped and fell down the last three. He quickly got up and ran to the front door. “Daaad! DAAAAAD!”
robin robin robin.
He yanked the door open.
And Peter Hastings’ voice stopped.
Robin stood in the doorway, panting and waiting for his father’s voice to call him again. “Dad? I’m here. Where are you?”
There was no response.