A week after all that, I was still morose (yet another word I had to look up while writing this, it’s worse than school, I tell ya!). Kenny was just as affectionate, funny and concerned about me, still as playful and competitive as ever. And I tried, tried real hard, to not be so depressed. After all, we'd slain a dragon that was actually a nightmare of my own creation. We'd beaten Korbesh at his own game. The nightmare was over, the dream could begin again, fresh.
So why was I such a mess? Only one thing: My Kay was gone. Kenny was still here, alive and everything he ever was. But that whole other aspect of him, the aspect that was my soul's twin, was missing. And I felt myself being deliriously happy around him, and at the same time, majorly depressed.
The events of that week were kinda a blur to me. I let Juan, Becca, Bert and Jesse go into the four on four tourney, and damn if they didn't win it all. They took a total of five hits from the other three teams they faced combined and beat all of them soundly. And as proud as I was of them, it was all something that just barely affected me. I had been so gung-ho about this tourney just days ago. I was looking forward to going into actual fencing classes at the community college. Now, all of that seemed so secondary and distant. My fae soul was still grieving, still so depressed that I just couldn't get excited about anything. I went through the motions of life, but wasn't a part of it.
Random changelings that I'd bump into on the street or the store, or just hanging out at the library with Mom because I didn't want to be alone but didn't want to do anything with anyone, or anywhere for that matter… these just everyday/enchanted people would bow deferentially to me in secret, and greet me with "dragon slayer," or "Milord Protector," or even "High Lord." But it meant nothing to me. All the compliments that used to make my head swell up like a blowfish just bounced off me now, deflecting off the armor of my melancholy.
Donna Trag tried to get me to come to court for a victory feast, but I turned her down. I wasn't feeling up to it, I'd say, and that was pretty much the truth, too. She took it to mean I was recovering from injuries sustained in the battle with the wyrm. In all actuality, it was that I just didn't give two wet shits anymore.
Even spending time on the computer didn't help me any. It was like I was trying to reach through a fishbowl but couldn't even see the glass I kept bumping into. You know what I mean? Like trapped inside your own head, inside your own empty world.
My parents were worried stiff, too. I did manage to erase the answering machine message before they got home, but my folks are really canny about things. I guess as mages they see things a little differently than normal parents. I still have no idea about what this "great destiny" they were speaking about is, but just then, I didn't care. Parts of my life ended that Sunday. I guess in some ways, all of it did.
Mom noticed the change the most, how I'd sulk, even when Kenny came over. How we kinda didn't do anything together. I mean, I was practically ignoring him. He's still this awesome kid, you know? But that immortal spark was missing, and I didn't know how to deal with it. I still loved him, but I avoided touching him. Even normal horseplay I kinda passed on. We'd been like puppies and wild horses before. Couldn't keep our hands off each other. Now I was kinda standoffish about Kenny's body. Mom's notice that sorta thing.
She wound up cornering me about it but it turned into a shouting match. And I never shout at Mom, not like that. She threatened to spank me, and she hasn't done that since I was 8. I had been listening to an Evanescence song over and over, brooding. My Immortal. Something about Amy Lee's voice just kinda fit my mood, especially when she sings "I've tried so hard to tell myself that your gone/ and though you're still with me, I've been alone all along." Mom got on my case about playing that song too loud, playing it over and over again. Stupid autopilot went into defense mode and well, my big mouth got me into a lot of trouble. I kinda felt bad about yelling at her, but it felt good to feel bad, you know? It was like I needed to wallow in it. Taking it out on Mom was a huge mistake though.
Dad was a different matter. He walked into my room Wednesday night, seeing my eyes open in the darkness. Without a word, he just lifted up my sheet, picked me up in his arms and held me like a baby. He hasn't done that in a long time either. I cried on his shoulder then, silently, just squeezing him tight. He never asked what was going on, never pried into my business, he just knew that I was hurting and that I couldn't talk about it yet. So he did what he always does, he tried to comfort me without pressing the issue. For someone whose job is making words work for other people, my old man sure knows how to communicate without talking. I fell asleep against him, probably slobbering on his shoulder and making his shirt wet (okay, so I do that when I sleep sometimes, big deal).
I kept thinking about that day at the beach, when I had woken up remembering the previous incarnation of my life. The time in the tent when Kenny and I promised each other that we would die together so we'd be reborn together. Here I was, still me, still Robby French and Robyn the Blue of Cerulean, and my Kenny was still there, but Kay Neth the Steel Eyed was gone, lost to eternity, to the Mists. The guilt of it was killing me. The dragon had been my own Glamour fueled nightmare, my poor older brother's trapped immortal soul locked into my own pain, guilt and anger, the centuries old emotions of a kid who didn't understand what had happened combined with vast Glamour powers he didn't understand or know how to deal with. For the most part, I still don't. And now that My Kay, my conscience and guide was gone, I didn't care about trying to figure it out.
Okay, so it's a little dramatic, but that's the way I felt. Empty, void, lost. Nothing made sense anymore, so I just let the autopilot keep me going, keep me doing things. I'd smile, but it's not because I'm happy. It's because that's what everyone expects of me. My father called me joy and light one time. His joy and light. How can I face him to tell him that my joy and light was snuffed out, and that it was all my fault. I felt the Glamour of the world sliding away from me. A few times, the unicorns came to me, trying to bolster my spirits, I'm sure. But it wasn't enough. Kay was gone, as was most of my soul. I decided that there was nothing I could do to regain Kay, so I might as well let Robyn go as well. And if that meant I had to die as Robby, well…
Well so be it.
Kenny and I've been together several times since all that happened. Jedi class continues, even if I don't have the same spark anymore. Juan got me pissed off today and that was the only time I fought with any skill or passion. I whipped his ass, badly, not even holding back. And I hurt him on purpose when I did it, crotching him twice and smashing him in the helmet so hard that I knocked it off his head. I was really pissed and I didn't care who I hurt at that point. As long as someone else was hurting as well, I felt better. Kenny looked at me in shock and I turned away from him and just walked home from the Y. Didn't even stop when the front desk hag tried to get my attention, didn't even grab my bag out of the locker room. Just tossed down the new blade Kenny built for me and left, angry and upset.
I had been in the tub, soaking, listening to an old Queen song, over and over. Just hit the repeat button on one track in particular. "Who Wants to Live Forever." I kinda felt just like that song then. Totally ready to die. The lyrics had just gotten through the part that goes "There's no time for us/ there's no place for us/ What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us?/ Who wants to live forever? Who wants to live forever?" I was still crying, but nearing the end of my tears as that part faded into the guitar solo. I felt like it was scrubbing the pain into my soul. I found myself singing along with the band when the lyrics came back, remembering being with Kay in the dark, just the two of us together. "Touch my tears/ with your lips/ touch my world/ with your fingertips/ and we can have forever/ and we can love forever/ forever is our today."
That's when I heard a knock on the bathroom door.
"Whaddya want!" I screamed above the music. I play it loud and the bathroom walls just make it louder.
"Robby, it's me. Juan. Can I talk to you?"
"Who waits forever anyway?" the singer sang, almost as if on cue. No one else was home. Mom was still at work. Dad was off in Boston talking to a Senator who was planning on running for president. It was just me and Juan.
"Come in," I called back. Hell, he'd seen me naked before, so that wasn't a big thing. Even then, I pulled the shower curtain part way closed, just leaving my head in view. He opened the door, eyes kinda downcast and sad. He dropped the toilet lid and sat down, saying "Hiya," as he got comfortable. He dialed down the music and then let his eyes slide over and lock onto mine.
"So, you wanna tell me why you're mad at me?" he asked, trying not to be really argumentative. He'd changed a lot in the last two weeks.
"I'm not really mad," I said, feeling my eyes stray away from his. My bottom lip was just sticking out like a sore thumb. One hand drifted to my groin, you know, not because I was excited or even afraid he'd see my stuff. I guess it was more a case of just needing that momentary physical comfort. Kinda childish, I guess.
"Then why did you run out like that today. Kenny was practically in tears after you left."
"He's gone, Croaker," I said, feeling my own tears starting to come back. I thought I'd cried them out fully after just drawing the bath and letting the water and music wash over me. They came back strong, though. "Kay is gone. Kenny might still be there, but Kay Neth isn't. We promised each other that if one of us was banished into the Mists this time that the other would follow right away. No more of this waiting around and being different ages when we meet again. We finally found each other after whole lifetimes apart, Juan. And just as I find him again, as we find each other, he's gone..."
"Don't you get it?! Kay is DEAD!"
"I don't think so. You've still got one chance left."
I stared up at him through angry tears now. "Get out!" I screamed. I didn't need this Redcap bastard telling me things I didn't want to hear. There isn't any chance, and to have him teasing me about it was just cruel. If this was the kind of friend he was, I'd rather he was still my enemy.
"Robby, listen to me! Why do you think that Kay was so worried about you keeping the Tear? Why do you think that Korbesh wanted it so badly?"
"I said get out! Get your fuckin' ass out of my house! NOW!" I was so hot I stood up in the tub, ready to pick him up by his ears and drag him into the street, me still bare-assed naked if I had to.
"Think!" he shouted back to me. "It's because you can use the Tear to even bring back those lost to the Mists, Robyn! Because you can focus enough Glamour through it to just about bring back the dead!"
I stopped, standing there, dripping and staring at him as he continued to just sit there on the pot, looking at me with tears in his own eyes.
"I know what Kay Neth means to you. I'm just beginning to understand your bond because of how I feel about Elzbeth. And how she feels about me." I leaned back against the tiled wall of the tub. Juan continued. "And I know that if your love for Kay is just as strong as mine for Elzbeth, then you'd take every chance you could to get him back. That you'd let nothing stand in the way of trying to bring him out of the Mists again."
"Can it be done?" I asked out loud, feeling my voice squeak.
"There's only one way to find out, now isn't there." He looked me in the eye. "You're thinking about following him down into the Mists anyways. Permanently. I've been seeing that in you all week. What would it hurt to take a chance on life first." I could see he was just heartbeats away from crying himself. Here he was, a tough guy, a former bully, one of the most violent people I'd ever called friend, almost in tears because he knew in his heart that I was contemplating suicide (yeah, there, I said the "S" word).
Then he completely startled the hell out of me, stepped forward to the edge of the tub and put his hands on my shoulders. I mean, I was naked in the tub and he was touching me. And he's not even Bi, much less gay.
"Robby," he said, looking me in the eyes with this big brown, puppy dog look. "You gave me a second chance on life. You gave me hope and you stood by me, even when you could have let me get what I deserved or just let whatever happen. You told me that you'd never leave me, even swore it to the Dreaming." He paused and swallowed hard, and I felt a tear slip over the side of my face looking up into his eyes. "I release you from that oath, milord. But I want you to at least think about this. Kay Neth would do anything for you, take any risk to save your life. Before you throw your life away, see if you can save his first."
Well, what would you do, or think I did? I fell against him and hugged, feeling his tough, wiry arms going around me. I know I cried for a while and he just stayed there with me. How long we stayed like that I don't know. I just remember when he let me go and backed away he was crying too.
"You an' Kenny are like brothers to me, man," Juan croaked out. "And when you guys are hurting, it hurts me too."
"I'm sorry I yelled at you," I said, still with my tears on my face. "And I'm sorry I'm such an asshole."
"Nah, don't worry. I'm used to it by now," he said. "All's forgiven, my liege."
"Don't," I protested weakly. "It's a title on paper only. I don't want the trappings of nobility."
"I'm not offering you simple social platitudes," Juan said, dropping to one knee. "I'm reminding you of my loyal fealty and the honor of being in your service."
"Oh, get up!" I said, getting angry. "We're friends first and foremost, Juan. All that other stuff, well, save it for when other people think it matters."
"Okay," he said, rising. "I'm gonna go, okay? Maybe you should go talk to someone downstairs."
"Kenny. I think he's got permission to spend the night."
"How… I sense more than one hand in this. You and Caspian have been plotting!"
"He wants his son back, whole, just as much as you do." Juan stood up and headed out the door. He stopped at the stairwell and looked back at me. "Remember what we talked about, Robyn. You only get so many chances at happiness, and it's a fool that doesn't take every chance he's got." I nodded and looked down. "Robby?" he called back, getting my attention. "Nobility isn't a matter of birthrights or titles. It comes from within. You got that in spades, my friend. Don't ever forget it." And he walked downstairs. I heard the front door open and close.
I took a deep breath and killed the CD player. Well, you know, just turned it off, not destroyed it. iPods did that!
I got out of the tub, quickly wrapped a towel around my waist and took the stairs, cautiously. At the bottom of the stairs, I turned and saw him, My Kenny, laying on the couch, face down, crying slightly. I remembered his awesome eyes, the way they shone when he laughed, the way they flashed when he was angry. His laughter, his wisdom, the casual way he could turn almost anything I said into a joke. But more than that, I remembered the way his hands used to feel going to my face, tracing deep into my hair, his gentle hands on my shoulder on that day when the Cold Iron burned me. All these things passed through my mind as I watched him sobbing. I knew he was feeling lonely, perhaps even that I had betrayed him. He was feeling the emptiness of his own soul, the missing pieces, and I hadn't been there to help him any. I had just surrendered to my own helplessness and sadness and hadn't considered his.
I remember the day that he had given me the enchanted stroke, that he had brought me fully into the enchanted world. I remembered that brief feeling of not understanding any of it, yet it making total sense. I remembered the gleam in his eyes when I finally accepted what I really was, and knew that I loved Kenny/Kay Neth with everything I was, am or every shall be.
"Kay?" I said, softly, a bit unsure. He looked up, dragging his head off the cushions. He looked a mess.
"Hey," he said, rubbing his eyes to clear the tears away. I walked over to him and just stood there, looking down on him, tears in my own eyes. "You left looking so angry. I was afraid you were mad at me."
"No. I was more mad at myself for not being there for you, Kenny. I understand a lot of what I've put you through of late." Okay, so a couple of centuries doesn't really count as "of late," I'm just making it up as I go, okay? Sue me! I stepped closer and sat on the edge of the couch, him still mostly laying down, but turned now on his side. "I haven't been a very good boyfriend to you the last few days."
"You've had a lot to adapt to," Kenny said, trying to be optimistic, trying to make me feel better. "Dad says that the new class is kinda tough on you and that you're still having trouble letting your best fencing out."
"It goes deeper than that, Kay. Much deeper." I kinda squirmed in my seat, wanting to just hold him to me, crush us both against each other until we were one. "I wanna do something for you, to make it up to you."
"Is it something kinky?" he asked, half sniffing back the tears.
"More than a little," I said, forcing a smile. I nodded to the stairs and stood up, whipping off my towel. I draped it over his head and started to race for the stairs, getting into the kitchen before he had even stood up from the couch. We were giggling again, and I'm certain he thought that we were going up to my room for some soul cleansing sex play, just the two of us together again. He rounded the corner to the kitchen and I stood there waiting for him, biting my lower lip. He slowed and came forwards, straight at me.
"Whatchu got in mind?" he asked, sauntering over with the towel casually tossed over one shoulder.
"Kenny, touch me," I commanded. "Right here, over my pendant." My hand stroked over the edge of the Tear. His hand went up and joined mine around that sacred gem, that last relic of our true homeland. Our fingers intertwined around it. "Do you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you, Robby. I love you." He smiled and leaned in close to me, his face, his lips moving closer to mine as if for a kiss.
"Then forgive me, Beloved, if this doesn't work." I concentrated on the Tear, held in both our hands, and demanded that the Glamour flow. "For then I shall follow right behind you."
He stopped just short of fully committing to the kiss, looked up at me curiously with his incredible gray eyes and then he gasped in utter surprise as I jammed one of Mom's really long kitchen knives right up into his heart.
Glamour's a funny thing at times. It slows some moments down to intense detail, it zips others along at a frantic pace. This time, it did both. It was like the whole universe shuddered, stretched and then snapped back to its normal size all at once. Both of us standing there, linked hands around the Tear, me with a butcher knife up under Kenny's ribs. I was beginning to think I'd made a terrible mistake and just killed him, fully ready to jam the same knife into my own heart. And then…
He stared at me in wonder for a moment and then, almost imperceptibly, the light in his eyes changed. The spark, that immortal something that makes a changeling who he is flared back to life. I dropped the knife and hugged him to me, not daring to let him go.
"Beloved," he whispered into my ear. "You found me!"
"I had to," I replied. "I'm lost without you."
"I'll never leave you again, Robyn," he whispered, his tears staining my skin. A subtle shiver in the Dreaming marked the depth of his emotion. I smiled against his skin, just clutching him to me.
"I'll hold you to that, Kay."
"As long as you hold me, milord, my love; as long as you hold me."
And what happened next, well, you can use your imagination. Suffice it to say, that Kenny and I had many other adventures in the Dreaming, and in the mundane reality that the rest of you exist in.
But that's another story.