"Z! Sweetie! I wasn't expecting you back so soon."
"–yeah. I'm not dating him, but I'm dating Asher – and I know how the Darkest Timeline goes here. He gets fucked up."
"How long have you been dating Asher?"
"...okay, a day, but that's not the point. I know this works out at least like medium-long term, and – do you know how hard it is to find guys who don't freak out about this?"
He gestures broadly at his face.
"Is a day a long time for two humans to date? I don't know these things, all your time periods seem the same to me."
"...it's not a long time."
"I'm sure you can find someone who would like your face if you had more confidence in yourself! What about that nice guy who ran the fansite?"
"He's fifteen and he's also gonna be really traumatized by this whole thing."
"Oh. That's not good. --Is fifteen too young to date?"
"Too young for me to date. There's a formula but it kinda breaks down when you start introducing, like...immortality."
"I'm not technically immortal, I'm going to wrap up when the universe does."
"...I think most immortal people do that."
"I'd love to keep debating this but I think you wanted to talk about important things and not the definition of immortality. Sasha says 'thank you.'"
"...yeah. The thing is just–"
"...I have friends now. I went to somebody's house and watched a movie. That's a huge fucking deal for me. And this is just...gonna fuck it all up, forever."
It feels wrong, appealing to his own social life to try to fix this. But...this is kind of an unusual situation.
"Humans recover from grief. I read a book about it."
"...this one doesn't. Told you. I saw all the darkest timeline shit."
"...Asher's depressed as long as I can follow his timeline. Stops doing anything but – trying to make it right, I guess, except he can't. Lev gets all suicidal and – there's some weird shit where he gets poisoned by a mermaid in one branch? Kinda hard to make out..."
"I don't want my metamour to be depressed and trying to make it right forever. That seems like not very good metamour-ing. And I haven't given up on you dating Lev when he's eclosed."
"...humans don't pupate, babe, remember?"
"Oh, I was sure I'd gotten that right."
"You tried, and that's what counts."
He kisses her on the cheek.
She sighs. "I want you to be able to go to movies and to have friends and I don't feel comfortable with letting your boyfriend be depressed when I can avoid it, but I really do need to do my job, and if I start sending people back and The Guy Upstairs notices I'm going to be in trouble."
"...I promise I'm not gonna make it a habit. Just – the whole narrative's counting on us, here. You can tell him it's my fault if he gets on your case."
"I'm pretty sure it's my fault, sweetheart. I'm thirteen billion years old, I'm supposed to be responsible. Humans are all messes, just like I was for my first million years."
"...we kinda are, huh."