“Everything started going to shit when Neb disappeared and you showed up.”
“That’s the general consensus,” I said dryly. I’d heard it all before. Neb had been the naive, selfless one, like the devoted, virtuous Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean. And here I was, the near-constantly sozzled, egotistical, and floundering Jack Sparrow, suddenly being called upon to save Elizabeth Swan, armed only with comedic relief and a petty streak.

Xanthe and I had quarreled about this, recently. Indignant and possibly more than a little self-pitying, they had snapped, “Oh, so I was basically your stunt double that had nerve endings. Wasn’t that the time Prosper ran me through with a fucking sword?”
I stared at them. “Yes. While I was handling [April] and you were primarily out to get drunk, vent to Cotton, and cheat on [April] with [Avery.]”
Xanthe squinted at me thoughtfully. “You know, comparatively, being stabbed was probably preferable.”

“My hand!” he wailed. “I really hurt it. Look at it. I see bone!” That last sentence seemed to echo mournfully throughout the street.
Ash paused. I could see on their face that they had to shoot down about four responses to settle on a suitably gentle one. “It– It’s just a scrape, [March.]”

When the most established couple of the house came home, I’d already seen the Facebook posts about the proposal and fawned over them with congratulations and exclamations of adoration. March reacted, predictably, less than ideally. “[Ash], could I talk to you for a second?”

“Xanthe, what infuriates me the most about what happened is that [Arkady] only seemed to want you once he and [Ash] convinced themselves you were magic. That you could validate and cheer on everything they would say to raise themselves above the human race. And why? Because anything they do to you once you’re convicted of ‘being human’, doesn’t count. They condemned you for showing signs of mental illness because if your world was a result of mental illness, it meant that theirs is too.”

I was about to fade… Until I saw the hypocrisy. Until I saw the modified explanations of events and motives. Until a fucking self-proclaimed Unseelie Fae King stood in front of my bedroom door and called me delusional.

I glanced to the front of the van. I could see March scrolling through his phone with his right hand and the steering wheel in the left. I texted my love within our group chat of Zara, Asra, Tony, and Arkady. “[March] is texting while driving. If I don’t make it out of this, remember me in my last moments. Reclining on a chaise lounge in the back of a Uhaul, riding this out Wilde style.”

I loved the inworld. I didn’t fully understand it, nor did I interact with anyone as much as watched over them. All of them, Xanthe included, felt at once what I was and what I never could be. Such glorious personalities– a smattering of gods and monsters and both, and I loved them them all.