Chapter Four: Exactly as Expected and Entirely Over- Rated

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Mary answers the door wearing Richmond's dressing gown, and pays the pizza delivery guy with money that she finds in his wallet, which was in the leather jacket hanging on the hall tree by the door. She doesn't count the number of bills in there, but it's a lot. She's never seen anyone dumb enough to carry that much cash at once, but then it's not like anyone would dare try to  pickpocket Richmond. And if they did succeed, they wouldn't get to hold on to it for long, that's for sure.

She's not hungry anymore, so she drops the steaming pizza box onto the coffee table, walks around the broken glass, and goes into the washroom. She pokes through Richmond's medicine cabinet— devoid of anything except a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair gel, and a comb—and it doesn't make her feel better. There are no great secrets there, no deep understanding of her personality on offer. The fangirly glee is gone, washed away in the melancholy revelation that these people are actually real, and that they actually do believe what they've been written to believe.

It is maddening. Everything she likes about the world of City by Night when it is on TV is, in reality, annoying, incomprehensible, illogical, vapid, or dangerous. Vampirism isn't sexy. It is frightening. Even Richmond isn't what she thought he was; he is just some sort of puppet that Antonio tortures, he has no spine of his own, no guts.

This isn't fun. Mary wants to go home. But she has no idea how. She doesn't have the faintest idea where to start. All her love of urban fantasy novels, of fan fiction, of comics and movies and romance books, none of it has prepared her for actually living in it ... or given her any clue how to get back out again. She doesn't know any magical rituals or mad scientists or anyone who can work real magic in this world. She doesn't even have the faintest idea where to start.

So what can she do, except take each moment as it comes? Stay with Richmond and heal and ... wait. To work with him, on him, and just ... wait. To wake up. For it to be over. For something. But what, she has no idea.

She drops the dressing gown onto the floor, steps into the shower and tries to use the hot water to soothe away her disappointment. The bathroom door opens and closes quietly and then Richmond is in the shower with her, wrapping his arms around her waist, burying his face in the wet hair and the nape of her neck.

"I'll try," he promises. "I'll do my best. I won't play Antonio's games anymore."

Mary doesn't say that she doesn't believe that he'll change, doesn't believe that he is capable of change. He's a fictional character, and he can only behave the way he's written. All the same, she lays her arms against his, cups his hands in hers, and nods.

She tries not to marvel at how quickly the cynicism has crept up.


Mary eats half of the cold pizza when they get out of the shower and spends the rest of the day in Richmond's dressing gown, wondering what she's going to do for clothes, or money, or a living. Reality has hit her hard for the first time in the one place that she thought it wouldn't be able to get to her. She can't sponge off of Richmond until she dies, but she can't imagine going out into the big wide world of fictional people with their fictional dramas and to look for a fictional job. It would be like standing on the street with a neon arrow pointed at her throat and a sign that reads: "Teeth go here, Antonio!"

Richmond is in his bedroom getting dressed, and Mary wonders how Sherri deals with it. With the stress of knowing that any minute now, any night, this could be the one where Antonio breaks into the room in a shower of broken glass and splintered wood and gives her the bite. Only of course, it would never happen to Sherri, at least not until she's mature enough to deal with being undead, because this is a TV show and Sherri is played by a regular paid actor with her name in the credits. Sherri the character would never actually die. Mary doesn't feel so good about her own chances when she thinks about that.

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