“You know I’m fucking sorry, right?”
Someone had to talk first so he did. Her topknot wobbled as her shoulders stiffened.
“I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Well I don’t really know what else to say to make you not mad. What d’you want?”
“Take me back in time and make it so I never learned about the fey world.”
“There aren’t any spells to mess with time.”
“Caitlin tell you that?” She threw the comment over her shoulder before turning back around.
He pressed his lips together. Was her point that Caitlin couldn’t be trusted? That he had been dumb to ever trust her? That the fey world was full of people trying to kill them?
“I’ll tell you what’ll fix it.”
His eyebrows arched in surprised at this turnaround. “Ok, great, yeah, what is it?”
“I want you to erase my memories. Like you did with Roland.”
“The fuck—I’m not doing that!”
She finally whipped around, swinging her legs around. Her face was twisted up with anger.
“This shit is ruining my life, Dakotah! Your shit! I’m done having monsters trying to kill everyone around me!”
“You think losing your memory will help? They aren’t going to stop trying to kill you just because you can’t remember them. You’ll just be in more danger!”
“I don’t care! I want my normal life back!”
“Everyone does!” he yelled.
“Don’t lie!” she yelled back. “You love it and so do Val and Phin!”
That brought him up short. He was used to complaining about everything, he kind of forgot he actually liked the responsibility. Before meeting Ike, he hadn’t been doing much of anything.
“I don’t like people trying to kill me,” he grumbled. “And you loved it too.”
“That was before I knew what it meant.”
“Yeah, well, being a Hero isn’t just about the glory. You have to earn that glory.”
“Well I don’t want any of it anymore.”
He scoffed. “Yeah, because it’s the first hard thing you’ve had to do.”
“Fuck you! I’ve worked hard every year at school, unlike some people.”
“You’re smart and pretty and good at sports. Everything’s easy for you. And Phin. What the fuck’s so hard about having rich parents?”
Pete’s eyes blazed. “I’m sorry bad shit happened to you in your life but just because we’re doing different stuff doesn’t mean my life is easy. I try really hard, and helped you all year. I don’t want to be the perfect Hero! I don’t want to be perfect Pete! I’m tired!”
“Fine,” said Dakotah, putting up his hands. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t’ve said that. But you know we’re about to be in the middle of a fey war. Ro—the Seelie Prince can say he’ll handle it but it’s going to influence all of us. And then you want, what, nine months of your life erased? How the fuck are we gonna explain things to you? How are you going to hang out with us if we all know and you don’t? I’m sorry you didn’t really get a choice in all this but there’s no going back, Pete.”
His fingers tapped the paddle, which he hadn’t moved in minutes. “For any of us. We have to accept the good with the bad. You can stop doing stuff with us. You can stay away from the shop. But I can’t take your memory. And it won’t fix anything with Roland. And…I…wish you would…stay.” He looked out at the gloomy shoreline. “This never would’ve worked without you guys backin’ me up.”
She sighed. He watched her face for a sign. A familiar face, but one he never really thought about, until she threatened to leave.
He opened his mouth to say something else, though he didn’t know what yet.
Then the canoe vanished beneath them, plunging them both into the water.
Seeing as they had been sitting in the canoe, there wasn’t much of a splash—or much time to react. He and Pete had time for one surprised look.
They surfaced at the same time, his hair stuck to his face, Pete’s topknot toppled.
Pete looked at him, and burst into laughter.
After a moment he laughed too, relieved she was laughing.
“That answers that question!” she said, treading water. “No Craft outside the Lake to Everywhere!”
He tried to answer but choked on water. She laughed harder.
“Should I raise the Lake?”
“No!” she said. She turned and floated on her back. “Five minutes.”
It was cold, but he stopped treading and floated on his back, too. She reached out and grabbed his sleeve so they wouldn’t drift apart, and Dakotah breathed and watched the stars.