Under Pressure (January of 2020) SHH + XI collab.

(Trigger warnings: Sexually traumatized child alters, doxxing, fusion, splitting, forced past-lives, execution, murder, suicide, mental breakdowns, brief mentions of sexual assault, gaslighting, grooming in the context of cults, plots involving incest.)

Sparrow:

A big development recently in the Living Fiction system that reminded me, holy shit, was this Faerie house fucked up! Hi, my name is Sparrow Hemlock Harvey, adopted son of Jasper and Jack Harvey and a frequent fronter. I’ve done my own podcasts but not my own blog before. And yes, my name was Harrow, now it’s Sparrow. I’m trans, okay, it happens.

It me!

We haven’t really talked a lot about Averie on this blog. She’s always seemed to be a traumatized fragment and we’ve mostly come across her posting on sexual assault trauma/kink boards on one of our old Reddit accounts. (One of which March found and tried to doxx the body’s legal name for, which, wow, gross. Like he literally went on to an anonymous ‘sexual trauma made me want to relive the experience in my terms’ kind of board and was like “OH THIS MUST BE LIVING FICTION, LET’S HARASS THEM, I HAVEN’T REMINDED THE WORLD THAT I’M A HYPOCRITICAL PIECE OF SHIT IN A FEW MONTHS.” Imagine being that disgusting.)

She was part of Story along with me, then we split apart after splitting from Xanthe.

Plus, her real name is real close to Xanthe’s ex’s codename, Avery, so she’s really only been mentioned on the List of Alters page. Plus, considering she only really comes out to watch Disney films, vent about sexual trauma to mostly strangers, and then fuck off, she’s a bit of a PR nightmare.

Yeah, okay, Xanthe, like you don’t have issues too, jfc.

Then, just the other night, I’m drunk and playing GTA on the couch. We’ve all got playlists for ourselves. Mine is full of Green Day, Icon for Hire, Linkin Park, a ton of MCR. Then suddenly through my headphones, I’m hearing Michelle Branch, Hilary Duff, Vanessa Carlton– artists I frankly forgot ever existed because this system didn’t listen to them since way back when we were–

Oh, shit.

Like, they were clearly just fucking with me, right?

I look at the playlist name. There are a few. ‘Avelis’ ‘Alis’ ‘Aevaris.’ And the pronouns were she and they. And I couldn’t help but notice that those names are a merging of ‘Averie’ and ‘Silas.’ Holy fuck, those two are fusing!

Fusions happen in systems. It’s the opposite of splitting, and this is the first time ours has had a successful one. We’ve had plenty of splitting, but the only fusion that was ever attempted was between Xanthe and Story in 2020 and, you know, that ended in tragedy.

Xanthe is pretty sure I took a piece of them with me, which probably explains my love of bourbon.

But gods, Silas is a name that I haven’t thought about in a long time.

He kind of fucked off, so we thought maybe he was a fragile kind of introject. His origin is a lot more wobbly as opposed to, let’s say, Jasper’s and Oscar’s, and the others that made themselves known in that time. Our system has always loved the 1920’s era. Jasper probably started out as a fictive of Jay Gatsby himself and just slowly took on common traits of the system. You know, queer, criminal tendencies, addictive personalities, personality or mood disorders. Oscar Wilde– well, how would he not be a fictive? He’s practically a god in our host’s mind. I’m a little surprised there aren’t gold statues of the man everywhere.

Watch this brain take that as a suggestion.

Kajmir– well, its origin is Atlantis. We already have a few inside alters that seem like Kajmir. Honestly, if Kaspar and Prosper had a baby, it’d be fucking Kajmir.

But Silas? Silas was a new one. He was an elf prince. We’d never had an elf before. And his story, as twisted as it is, doesn’t even fit into the rest of our backstories. But probably a month or two after Xanthe and Arkady started dating, Arkady had an epiphany.

Yeah, our inworld really is this easy to manipulate. No, it’s not fun. Especially, as Xanthe pointed out in the last blog, we have vampires allergic to fucking CHOCOLATE for NO REASON.

A few months of Arkady’s and our system bouncing theories and dreams back and forth, we had a vague idea of what Silas was like. Fun-loving, cheeky, constantly frail and sickly. Somehow had naturally blonde and blue hair, while he had a twin brother who had blue and silver hair. Yes, really. They kind of had a ‘moon and stars’ aesthetic going on. Oh, and Silas just happened to have a blue and gold watch.

The brothers were in love, because, hell, April and Kieran already kind of tried to normalize incest within our inworld, and it’s not like they were going to inbreed. Much like transforming into animals is not something we do or expect outside of our inworld either.

OH MY FUCKING GOD THIS IS SO FUCKING CULTY JESUS FUCKING JIM JONES CHRIST. “You are so… so special.” EAT A DICK.

Then, on video call that night when they were “channelling” Arannan, we heard the full story. Hold onto your hats, kids, because this gets weird! Silas and Inalis were sons of an elf king called Elorian. They had an older brother named Arannan, who was secretly also the twins’ father. Now, I’m not sure if Arannan was like Elorian’s natural son and just the wife’s stepson, or if he actually sired Silas and Inalis via Oedipus’ lead, but that’s what we were told.

Anyway, Elorian discovered that his heirs were not his sons. (Maybe they were his grandsons? I don’t even know.) And made up some sort of weird charge to execute them both. Silas was successfully executed, while Inalis and Arannan both looked on in horror as he burned to death on a pyre. Inalis managed to escape and would spend additional years seething in bitterness, building an army, then would slay their ‘father’ in revenge.

He would then crown himself king, but then burn his kingdom down, then jump off a bridge and fall to his death in a river because, you know, why not? That’s not even a criticism, that’s a whole mood.

Xanthe cracks me tf up. “How exactly did you avenge me? <3” IS THIS ITS FUCKING LOVE LANGUAGE?

Arannan actually called Xanthe/Silas? to speak further about this. He lamented, wracked by guilt, about how he didn’t speak up to stop Silas’ execution, and how he was going to make up for it by forever protecting Silas and ensuring Silas and Inalis would be reunited. He promised he’d never let anything happen to Silas again.

Then, you know, two years later, he’d stand passively by as this entire house psychologically tortured us all, harassed us, and then made us homeless.

Great parenting, ‘Dad’!

Silas was someone Xanthe could eventually ‘channel.’ Funny kid, honestly. Would make constant jokes about the way he died. “I always knew I was flamboyant.” “Guess they needed one more faggot to start that fire.”

This was also him.

But like I said, I never really met the guy. Silas really broke when the household turned on us. I mean, imagine finding out your entire history, trauma, death, and family was all made up by someone who wanted to ensure they had one more twisted tie to sink into someone else’s soul. I’d have a two-year long breakdown and refuse to talk to anyone, too.

Silas and Inalis were the first, but certainly weren’t the last. Famously, Ash even ‘channelled’ Oscar Wilde’s younger sister, Isola. They even made up this story of how Oscar and Isola had kissed and that’s why Isola was sent off to a relative’s, where she, apparently being part Fae, caught iron poisoning and died. I don’t care if Ash thought that Oscar was a past-life or an alter, but imagine telling anyone “Hey, you kissed your sister and I think that’s why she died.” Like, really, what the fuck.

There was also Jasper, Jack, and Oliver. Funny enough, Oliver was Ash’s creation and the new Living Fiction Jack has no memory of him. He was just some kid who used to be trafficked, because most of Ash’s characters were just kind of like that.

Ash would also just insert traumas into our alters’ backstories, under apparently the depraved insistence that everyone else be just fucked up enough to think they need Ash too.

So, when Xanthe is thinking something magic is trying to invade their family, there cannot be the thought of, “Wow, this is getting really bizarre and intense, I’m gonna bounce.” Because, of course, them even finding the household again is fated. They’ve known each other so many times before and they wouldn’t possibly betray them after centuries worth of knowing each other.

That, and, if the household had an enemy that wanted to tear them apart, there was a lot at stake.

Not only could Xanthe lose both Arkady and Ash, but if Xanthe didn’t keep their head in the game and solve this soon, they could cost themselves Arannan, Visarden, William, their fucking sons and Rebecca. If Xanthe failed: Silas would lose Inalis and Arannan. Oscar would lose Visarden. Kajmir would lose Thorne. Jasper would lose Jack.

Failure wasn’t an option. But that combination of someone moulding our inworld and that kind of maddening pressure was beginning to make us crack in some pretty big ways.

It was Story’s decision to try to integrate. Xanthe didn’t notice it until a Long time after it started happening. Fusions don’t usually take that long, from what I understand, but Xanthe’s individualism is a load-bearing pillar of their sanity, and I feel like they subconsciously tried to fight us off.

I remember being Story. Kind of. There was such a hungry need to be part of something that seemed to know us inside and out and accepted us anyway. And we thought we found it.

“Story seemed like she believed in Disney films a little too much, if you know what I mean,” Xanthe said when we talked about her. They then spun in their office chair and sang, “When you wish upon a staaaaar, what he’ll do won’t leave a scaaaar!” Which, gotta hand it to them, funny as shit.

I remember being younger than Xanthe when I was Story, probably like 18 or 19. Still in that weird, ‘If I didn’t have attentive parents, I may or may not know how to mail a check’ kind of stage. She also had some carry-over from Neb of, ‘Am I being annoying?’ ‘Do you hate me?’ ‘Am I doing this wrong?’ ‘I’m sorry I didn’t word it right.’ And a TON of autistic self-hate.

Like a whole metric ton. It was like we suddenly couldn’t trust ourselves and got it in our head that we needed allistic people to show us the ‘correct way’ to even speak. And we were blaming our autism at probably every turn.

I’ll give an example. This was sometime after (maybe a little before??? idk) New Year’s Eve party. Everyone had the plan to go to Vertex. We weren’t there long before Arkady had spotted his past abuser, Lucien. Now, when we say abuser, we don’t mean that this kid pissed off Arkady’s fiancé and then slept in the same room with Arkady– this person was actually a confirmed abuser. So, when Arkady saw that, he shut down.

I actually feel bad for him. Imagine if I ran into Ash at the same club these days.

But Story and Xanthe were in failure complex central. See, we’d always fantasized about killing the bastard. They were a multiple offender, so you know, the world’s better off. We’d even seen Lucien’s picture before.

Which would’ve been so much more useful if we didn’t fucking have faceblindness.

So, we left early. The rapist lived to see another day and Arkady was traumatized. March decided that this would be a great time for theatrics and came up with a narration of how he not only sat next to Lucien and struck up a conversation, but even shook his hand. “I didn’t see that,” Arkady told him, trying to cope with a cigarette and blasting Emilie Autumn in the car on the ride home. (I still maintain that Arkady is, in fact, a mood.)

“It was right in front of you!” Now, again, we didn’t have eyes on Lucien. So, could this have happened? Sure. But if anyone has ever been to this Rochester dance club, they’d know that sitting at the bar and striking up a conversation that wasn’t “VODKA CRAN????” isn’t all that typical or possible.

And like, why would you shake someone’s hand at Vertex? It’s a dance club, not a wedding, you spatherdab! March wasn’t even two drinks in. While it’s possible, I’d bet the entirety of my allowance from the inworld and outerworld that this didn’t fucking happen.

We’re seething in the back. Not only our failure at putting this predator down, but how March was somehow turning it all about him. Again.

Our own complex was quieter, but March was thoroughly irritating the system. March was even getting to the point of interrupting Arkady when he tried to vent about it. When we arrived back at home in the kitchen where Arkady continued to be quiet and somewhat broken. March carried on about his close-call with a serial abuser, adding details every now and then. You know, gotta give that lie some flavor! “I just can’t forgive myself! I didn’t know! I shook their hand in front of their victim! I feel sick! Oh my god, I can’t believe I did that!” In another couple sentences, we were pretty sure he was going to start yelling, “StelllAAAAAAA!”

All in all, not a Great night.

And we expressed so days later.

Arkady and us were about to go on a run– we were actually excited to show him our running path, down Highland and over by Cobb Hill. We were stretching as we said, conversationally, that it might do us a bit of good, since the last time we were out of the house ended so terribly.

Arkady paused. We were actually startled to see a shocked expression on his face, like we’d just slapped him. “Xanthe… Do you really mean that?”

We stared back at him. “With what happened last time,” we said slowly. “That wasn’t, like, a pleasant thing to happen.”

“I… can’t believe you’re saying this to me.” The hurt was plain in Arkady’s voice, but what had caused it, we couldn’t fathom.

“Wait, do you think I was, like, irritated with you that you wanted to leave early? Because damn, I’d want to leave early too.”

He shook his head. “Xanthe, you… said it wasn’t a good time out.” His voice was going from hurt to closed-off, almost cold.

“It… wasn’t.” I’m not leaving anything out and you’re not missing anything. That was all that happened in this conversation. I promise I didn’t the part we kicked him in the shin or something. We’re just as confused as you. “[Arkady], do you want me to say that the last time we went out went well? Because I personally can’t tell you that that was a fun night out for me.” As he shook his head, we were like, “[Arkady], I’m… way confused. Can you explain why this is hurtful? Because I’m really not sure where I should have found you running into that sick fuck a good thing.”

“There’s no point,” he sighed. “Let’s just go on our run.”

Guys, that was the most passive-aggressive run I’ve ever taken. We spent half of it in sheer silence until Arkady piped up and said, “I forgot how good this was for mental health!” We were on top of Cobb Hill, which did have hella views.

“Good! Do you want to talk about earlier…?”

“Nah, no need.” He assured us that there was nothing to talk about and that he wasn’t angry with us. We still have no idea what he was on about. But we blamed the fuck out of ourselves.

I’ve worded something wrong, I didn’t do it right, I’m a failure, I don’t even know how to fucking talk, I did something wrong, I didn’t say it right, why am I fucking like this? We were the only autistic person in that house. Unless you count March and his hilarious claim that he was being toxic because ‘[Ash] was his special interest’, of course. I know from hanging out with Jack Harvey in the inworld that the real meaning and the connotation can be found at odds, and poor Jack’s left wondering what the fuck he even said.

And a case was being built for us in the background. Any slip-up where the meaning could’ve been nefarious was being added into a subconscious file. See, it wasn’t really forgiven that we’ve called out March months ago.

But we didn’t know that yet.

And we must’ve sought some impending doom on the way because, fuck, we were freaked. It’s been a long time since the urge to deepthroat a pistol has popped into my head, but when I was her, failure had no other conclusion. Maybe we knew we’d split, and maybe we guess it’d be an insanely painful thing. Maybe we even subconsciously remembered it from when Neb split.

We even asked Arkady if he could mercy-kill us if we lost ourselves. A cyanide pill before inevitable torture, you know. But add romance!

Overfeeding as in, referring to vampirism, yes.

We were being spoon-fed all of this bullshit about fate and past-lives so often that we felt like there was no other option– no living past a failure, no life without all of this.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Damn, was this house fucked up.

Xhaxhollari:

Seeing Story was like seeing a ghost. I didn’t know what I was looking at, at first. I noticed a perceivable drop in Xanthe’s confidence, a wavering, complacent, eager to be obedient type of energy. I didn’t mind being Nebula, on the whole, but the resurgence of this made my skin crawl.

It was like being told a twin sibling died in the womb and meeting them at school within the week of discovery. I knew I’d survived Neb’s splitting, but I never wondered what happened to those other parts of her. Those sentimental, self-loathing, naive, whimsical parts that definitely didn’t stay within me. Even Xanthe’s inworld form was starting to show this startling development. Silver hair started to sprout in between Xanthe’s own golden locs.

Not only that, but Xanthe’s inworld form was starting to have wings. They were only ghostly auras of the things. When Xanthe went to ‘Faerie’, they did have wings, but I thought that was primarily an aesthetic choice. After all, everyone in Faerie seemed to look more fantastical. Perhaps a response to the subconscious knowledge that being too human in this household was simply not okay. But this was starting to occur in our usual inworld, as well.

And well. That complicates things. See, I was sort of afraid that Xanthe would need to fuse to be able to handle the domestic life. Xanthe was made in response to the loneliness and manipulation, through the follies of depending on the wrong people. Could they even survive in something they didn’t need to fight to survive?

Either way, I didn’t trust it.

See, the pastor friends of Ash kept their cabin open to the household. Well, the household minus Xanthe. It was never clear as to why– just that the two, Debs and Mel, had never met Xanthe, and therefore may be uncomfortable with their presence. And then Ash refused to introduce them.

Looking back, this was all such an obvious beginning of a trap, but our system were too pleasantly surprised by people able to come into our inworld again. I’d never seen Aberle so happy as when he could share his music with the outside world. In short, I had enough to contemplate.

But, after a good two months or so of Arkady giving the cold shoulder to March, Arkady decided to go to this cabin with March to bond. I remember Ash actually asking Xanthe if this was a trap, or if they should be worried. Xanthe answered on the negative, saying as far as they knew, Arkady was extending an olive branch. And he seemed to be. They both had a good time getting high in that little cabin, cut off from the world. I imagine that per this group’s Modus Operandi, Arkady must’ve told him, ‘Oh, hey, you’re magic after all!’ and call the past year of his toxic belligerence a closed case. Only weeks later, Arkady and Ash were to go to this cabin for a weekend trip as well.

Considering how many issues Arkady and Ash still had over March, it seemed like a positive thing for the couple, expertly followed just after Arkady had extended an olive branch. He seemed to have actually, finally learned how to play the long game.

It was the day they were due to leave to that cabin in Naples. Xanthe/Story was savoring their rare time with Arkady as the other couple got ready within their bedrooms. Arkady was boasting about how well he’d gotten on with March during the last trip, and how far March had come from a vindictive toddler to– I guess, tolerable? “He’s so much better as a person without Gaslamp fucking him up!” Arkady concluded.

Then Ash spoke up. “I know he was toxic, but I really wish you two would have told me instead of just… talking about it amongst yourselves for months.”

Arkady and Xanthe both paused. “We… tried,” Arkady asserted softly. “Remember? I spoke after you wanted to marry him and you called me jealous. And [Asra] and I tried to confront you about it, and you threw your arms up and said we were ganging up on [March] and walked away.”

“Yeah, but… Then you didn’t say anything for a while,” they continued ruefully. “I’m not sure if I can get that trust in you back.”

Arkady looked stricken. “[Ash], we felt like we couldn’t. Every time we did, you’d shut it dow–”

“Xanthe, could you leave us alone to talk?” Xanthe blinked, then obeyed after a visible hesitation. This was a fascinatingly awkward subject to bring up just before a secluded weekend together. I could feel the dread welling in them. Something was brewing and it felt damn-near deadly.

About a half hour later, Arkady was pulling his shoes on in the kitchen. We could see Ash’s gray Toyota Matrix from the window. “We talked it out. Kind of.” Arkady said, somewhat roughly. Then he glanced at the window. “[Ash]?” I don’t remember what Xanthe/Story was paying attention to initially, here. Maybe scrolling on the phone? “[Ash]? [Ash]! Hey! HEY!” We started at the sudden shouting. Arkady was on his feet suddenly, banging on the window with his palm.

We looked up just in time to see Ash, in their driver’s seat, pulling violently out of the driveway. Arkady tore outside. I could feel the viscous fear making its way through us. They’re going to drive off a bridge, they’re going to drive into a wall, they’re going to swerve to meet a semi head-on. For Arkady had stood up for himself, and now, there was a price to pay.

Fear.

We had a rushed moment to try to find our shoes. Twenty seconds later, Arkady, March, and we had caught up to the car just on the corner of Crosman and Field. We’d all gone into the car with them, which, on the whole, was probably not the most self-preserving idea in the world. Ash rambled on about how they didn’t want to go back into the house, that the house was bad, that they needed to just go.

They were eventually calmed down and coaxed back into the house. They were soothed with snacks and their partners watching their favorite shows with them. Xanthe excused themselves to do something comfortingly Xanthe-like. They walked to Cafe Sasso, wrote, drank, listened to music, and overall any sensory input they could to prevent a thought from occurring. I almost calmed down.

Except, towards the end of the night, Xanthe/Story texted Arkady.

They didn’t text him how what Ash did wasn’t okay, or how it had indeed reminded all of us of how April used to react when we would have the gall to win an argument. They just started telling him how they managed to self-soothe and talk themself out of a panic attack to avoid causing more problems. ‘See, I can behave!’

Good lord, who the fuck WAS this?

And there Xanthe/Story was, not even worried about how fucked up that was, or where this growing ominous feeling was coming from. They were patting themselves on the back for how well they reacted, for how they behaved when triggered.

This past year had clearly taken a toll. There was a lot I had to figure out. We weren’t doing well and something was about to shatter.

And holy fuck, why is Kieran suddenly posting like April again?

What fresh Hell would I have to contend with now?