The threat of litigation was supposed to unnerve me into silence, but to the contrary, I was looking forward to it.

I smiled regretfully, taking a sip of my cocktail. “I have a free flat in a historic inn, Rowan. It’ll take me a lot to give that up. And– rooftop bars! A literal speakeasy! I belong to a concierge society where they give me free wine just for existing.”

“What was that?” Rowan teased. “I can’t hear you over the sound of me being able to hold a partner’s hand in public without being hate-crimed in my state.”

I laughed. Okay, fair. “Downtown Savannah is very queer-friendly,” I clarified. “You just… can’t leave downtown.”

The Rowan creature snarled at him. He had to talk them down until Rowan once again ‘fainted’ to the side. Looking back on it, I realised that was a very profound dynamic that played out. Rowan attacking me for no reason under the guise of magic, Arkady defending me, Rowan ending the situation dramatically.

Only in the end, Arkady would stop defending me.

“Whatever. I told my parents about how they’re treating the infestation and they said it’s not going to work. And my parents are always right when they say stuff won’t work out.” I’m not joking, this was their actual logic. That their life didn’t live up to their parents’ expectations and neither would exterminators. Whatever AJ’s therapist was being paid, it wasn’t enough.

Okay, so we were full-on courting now, even swapping Sherlock and Moriarty gifs to cement the flirtatious nature of our playful rivalry. Not that I needed any more partners in my repertoire. I had three wonderful partners and I thought of them all with equal attention. AJ, Kaspar… -looks at smudged writing on hand- Whitney? (I cannot emphasize enough how rubbish of a partner I was to Wendy.)

AJ said one night, by way of greeting before I was even out of my hotel uniform. “All of these bugs? Just crawling on me? They just feel like tiny little rapists.”
“LITTLE DRAMATIC,” I thought, filling my wine glass as much as it could possibly go.
Somehow, Franzia was one of the healthier things I’d put my mouth on that year.

“Yeah! He thought I was a girl! Didn’t you hear it?” It’s hard to describe the look in their eyes, this sort of unhinged desperation. Almost as if my hearing this myself would make me go, ‘Oh my gods, AJ, you’re right, you’re the most tragically estrogen-laden person on the planet, clearly the only solution is to starve yourself and take chainsaw to your hip line, I can’t believe I’ve been so blind.’

On one hand, Phisoxa was a genius in mechanics and theoretical sciences, a brilliant composer, and his vengeance for his childhood crippled the church’s hold on Europe and shook the foundations of the oligarchy that had reigned for centuries. On the other hand, Phisoxa had a nasty habit of ripping people’s souls out of their bodies, and had done about… oh, three mass murders.