All thoughts of flirting and messing around left the two guards’ heads as they entered Jay’s room.
They fell silent as it seemed right to do.
They held onto each other’s hand tight as if it could keep the other from following Isellta’s lead and slipping away.
Preyuna gave them a scornful look, but she said nothing.
Maelin sat behind Jay and silently stroked his back as Jay whispered to Isellta.
Something built up in Dave’s throat. Maybe it was a sob. Maybe it would become a panicked scream.
It feels like Death is here. I feel like if I turn quickly enough I’ll see his skeletal face. Maybe he’ll reach for me. Maybe he’ll reach for Hank.
Or maybe he’ll be content with stealing just Doll Face away.
Hank looked down at him. “Do you need to step out of the room?”
Dave shook his head. “I want to see him.”
“Are you sure, babe?”
They approached the bed.
I don’t want to look. I don’t want to see. I don’t want this to be my last memory of him. It’s too hurtful.
Hank rubbed his thumb against Dave’s hand. It was a simple gesture, but it reassured him. He took a deep breath and looked down at the fey lying in Jay’s arms.
“Oh!” Dave gasped. “Oh, Hank.”
Isellta’s hair and skin had turned white.
The inside of his nose.
Even the feathers below his throat.
“So.” Hank cleared his throat a couple of times.
Jay looked up at him. The whites of his eyes were red, but somehow they still had tears in them.
“So. This is it then. He really is dying.”
Jay’s mouth trembled as he clearly struggled to hold back the tears.
“Jay. I’m sorry. I know how much he meant to you.”
“It’s more than that.” Jay pressed his lips to the top of Isellta’s white head and inhaled a shaky breath. His voice trembled as he continued, “He was such a good…so good. So young. So…so…He deserves a better death than this.” Tears escaped his eyes and landed on Isellta’s hair. “You poor kid. You poor sweet kid.”
Dave hesitantly stepped closer to the bed. “Hank? Can I touch him?”
Hank nodded. “But no licking.” He released his hand.
Dave sat on the bed. His gaze ran down Isellta’s frail frame. He touched Isellta’s silky hair and rubbed the strands between his fingers. He lifted Isellta’s bangs in the air and let them fall soft on his forehead.
He touched the dry skin on his face and on his lips.
He pulled his hand back. “You’re so pale. I’ve never seen anyone look that pale before. It’s unnerving.”
Isellta inhaled a short, choppy breath.
“But I guess it’s natural for you to look like that. You are dying.”
Doll Face is dying.
The enormity of that phrase and everything it meant crashed down on Dave. He cried out.
Hank sat on the bed and pulled Dave into a hug. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Dave melted into tears. “No. No, it isn’t. He’s dying. Doll Face is dying and I’m never gonna see him again.” He clutched the front of Hank’s shirt. “I’ll never pass him in the hallway again. I’ll never get a chance to kiss him or lick him. And…and…” He cried even harder.
“I’m here, babe. I’m right here.”
“And he’ll never get to be with his Robin. He’ll never see him again. He’ll never be able to…be able…oh. Oh, Haaaank!”
Preyuna stood silent and seemingly forgotten. Everyone was so lost in their realms of grief. No one bothered to see how she was faring. No one particularly cared.
Maelin comforted Jay and Hank comforted Dave. Isellta remained in Jay’s embrace.
And Preyuna stood alone.
Such a messy display of human emotions. It’s disgusting. It’s noisy. It’s…so human.
Isellta’s body twitched in a half-hearted convulsion as he struggled to exhale.
I should be the one holding him. I am his Queen and he is a member of my harem. I could pull him away from Jay. I could use brute force or I could use magic.
But they are all such emotional wrecks right now. If I made a move like that, they would physically throw me out of the room. I’d rather not be so gravely disrespected by those brutes.
She focused on Isellta.
“You stupid boy. No matter what anyone may say, this is all your fault. You put yourself in this position. You should get yourself out.”
Jay glared tearfully at her.
“It doesn’t matter what he has said or done to you. That Robin keeping you company…It is not him. He is a liar. A base imposter. You stupid, stupid boy. If you don’t escape, he will devour you.”
Preyuna curled her hands into fists.
I want to grab Isellta and shake some sense into him. But again. That would lead to me being forced out of the room.
And I want to stay here.
I will stay here until the bitter end.