Antioch shook his head. “Stupid brat. I am Antioch. Antioch. I am not Peter Hastings. Antioch. I am not…I. I am. I am not. Am. Not.” He shook his head again. “ngh. tired. head. not right. not. I am not. I am. I am not. I am Antioch. Antioch. Antioch no last name. I stand alone. I am myself and no one else.”
He pressed his forehead against the carpeted floor. “Robin.” He closed his eyes.
Robin was a baby sound asleep in his arms. Fluffy baby hair. Small fists. Small nose. Small mouth. Small ears. Small all over. Small and perfect.
Love. Love for his little boy. So perfect and brand new.
Peter Hastings’ Robin.
Not my Robin.
I have no one.
I need no one.
I stand alone.
I am alone.
He rolled onto his back and he saw her smiling down at him.
Her hands were soft.
Her hands were gentle.
Her touch was kindness and love.
Every day, simple love that was easy like breathing.
But she was Peter Hastings’ wife. Not mine.
I am not married.
I have no son.
I have no one.
Robin leaned his head against the door frame.
A long-forgotten ache returned to his chest.
What would he’ve thought about Isellta and me?
Would he have been the one to break my heart? Would he have been the one to reject me?
This new, confusin’ me.
Would he hate me?
Would he be ashamed of me?
Would he push me away?
Robin released his hold on the screen door and let it thump shut.
If he had stayed with us…
If we’d been enough for him…
If I had been enough to make him stay, would he’ve loved me? Would he have unnerstood all of this inside of me? All of these thoughts. All that I want. Would it make sense to him?
Would I have had the guts to tell him?
Or would I’ve kept Isellta as my best secret?
He sank down to his knees.
I love him. Don’t matter how many people he’s been with. I love him.
My beautiful fey.
I love him. I want him. I need him.
Robin wrapped his arms across his stomach.
He bowed his head.
If only I knew for sure if he still loves me.
Antioch opened his eyes.
Bright white spots flashed above him, like bleached fireworks.
He stared at them, thoughtless and blank.
LM knelt beside Antioch. “Stay. Stay just a little longer, can’t you? I’m not ready to bury you as well. Give me another day and another day. Give me a week. Maybe a month, can’t you? Maybe?”
Carthage knelt next to the half-fey. “Is it going to hurt?”
LM hesitated a moment before shaking his head. “He’ll just disappear.”
Carthage bowed his head.
“I’m sorry.” LM said softly. “I’m sorry I couldn’t…I couldn’t…”
“It isn’t your fault. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have insisted. You warned me. You warned him.”
Antioch gasped. “robin. my son. No! not mine. he’s Peter’s. not mine. not mine. NOT MINE!” Tears sparkled like diamonds as they rolled down the sides of his face. “I have. I have not. My son. Not my son. His. Him. Not. Not.” He turned his head. “Carthage. My friend. I don’t know you. I know you. I don’t. I do. I do. Carthage. Who are you? My friend. I don’t know. I do. I don’t. I.”
Carthage laid his hand on Antioch’s chest. “It’s all right. It’s all…” He bit down on his lower lip, but tears flooded his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Antioch. I’m sorry.”
“Capernaum loved you. He always did. He told me. Who? Antioch. I am Anti…Anti…I…” His pupils widened. “Where’s my son? He should be here. Why isn’t he here? I want to say…I want…I need…my son. My boy.”
“It’s okay. He’ll come. He’ll see you.”
“Do you see it?” Antioch’s skin shimmered. “Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Dark. Dark. It’s so dark.”
“I feel. Needles. Pins. Everywhere. In my skin. Poking. Stabbing. Everywhere. Where’s Robin? Needles. Pins. Sharp.” Antioch winced. “Hurt. Stab. Sharp. Sharp. XQ. Tell her. Am. Was. Proud. Proud of her. Always. My precious XQ. I. Ah. Ah. Needles.” He winced again. “Thick. Hard. Sharp. Hurt. Ahh! Stop. STOP.”
His eyes turned white. “Fire. I feel.” His skin became translucent.
LM could see the bones in his face. His jawline. His teeth. The roundness of his eye sockets.
“No. Fire. Fire! Hot! Help me. Help…” He arched his head back and opened his mouth wide in a scream.
A scream that never came.
His body dissolved into moments of light before disappearing altogether.