Springing down the steps of the new council building Jimmy hopped into the back of the carriage and gave a sigh of relaxation as he slid Star Mirror from his chest and blossomed into being in the seat opposite his body. He watched himself nod forward an instant, like someone falling into slumber and then his head pulled back up with alert, accusatory eyes.
“Enjoying yourself in there? Why do you keep bullying the man, he just lost his husband! Wasn't it enough to try to get him killed?”
“Easy there Fate, you know it's not good to get worked up whilst we're out in public.”
“Answer my question and I won't be worked up, will I?”
He dipped his head in acknowledgement of his offspring's point and then wondered when he'd started thinking of Fatekeeper in those terms?
“Why do I keep toying with Armand? Even when it gains me no benefit? Even when it turns his allies further against me, and makes my allies, my friends, question my judgement.”
His own head bobbed a nod and gestured him to get on with it.
“Because he's the enemy Fate. He's a blight settling in right in the heart of our city, and if you don't draw attention to the rot people will assume that it's supposed to be there. That there's nothing to be done about it.”
“Seems a little unfair, he's not-”
“Unfair? Unfair is that people grow up in gutters whilst he grew up in a mansion. Unfair is that his family gets to dominate the Council on pain of their mercenaries sacking the city. Unfair is that some of this City's best and brightest will die never having achieved a glimmer of their potential, whilst Acryn will likely suffer his mediocrity for centuries.”
“Actually I read one of his pamphlets and I thought it was sort of insightf-”
“What has he actually earned in his entire life? His wealth; handed to him by his family. His position; a gift from his uncle. Godhood. Fucking Godhood; just wrapped up in a bow and given to him by his monster of a husband. He's earned nothing!”
Fatekeeper's face, his face, was contorted somewhere between concern and pity.
“Are you..You don't usually take things so personally. 'An objective mind makes superior decisions', right? Where's this coming from?”
He took a deep breath, an affectation as much for his own benefit as his companion's and let out a long sigh.
“Everything I told you is true, but honestly, the man is a just a colossal, condescending ass. If he were acting like that out on the streets then someone would have stuck a blade in his back to shut him up, but instead he's in there with me debating taxes so I have to settle for jibes to his face.”
He held up a glowing hand to halt Fate's response.
“More than that…it's helpful. Something petty, and pointless and driven by my gut. It's human, and I need that. It keeps me grounded, helps me fight off the urge to let go.”
His child grimaced at that, his expression one of unmasked hurt.
“Don't sulk. You help too, Fate; teaching you has been a bigger pleasure than I'd imagined. And now there's Lynn too: so much potential there if she's just nudged in the right directions. But I'm fighting the tide here, that same pull that all the new god's feel I'd wager… but worse I'm fighting myself. I'm not supposed to stay the same, I'm supposed to devour myself and be born anew. If I reject that part of myself then I'm just some idiot who managed to run onto his own blade, but once I accept it then I can't predict what I'll become. Whether it will even be me. So I'm stalling.”
“Until you solve the Problem.”
“That's the plan, and that ain't gonna be any day soon so…”
“So being an ass to Cargan-Graves is really all for the sake of saving the world.”
“There you have it.”
The two sat in silence as the carriage rattled through the streets and drew up before their townhouse. As the two forms moved together and merged into a single entity once more, one of them whispered.
“You are so full of shit.”