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and nothing ever does begin like nothing ever ends

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December 12, 1943

“they don’t love us anymore.” anteros rubs against helen’s ankles and she picks him up, holding him like a baby.

“don’t be ridiculous,” she answers him in french, finding it easier to communicate with her other half in their home language.

“i mean, when’s the last time anthony slept in your bed? the last time i cuddled astoria?”

helen can tell he isn’t saying this to be mean, it’s just that he’s concerned. “just two nights ago, you daft cat, but i see your point.” she sighs. “he got that job offer in the desert, so it’s our job to be supportive, even if—“

“i don’t want to stop performing!” he twists violently out of her arms and lands softly on all fours.

she rolls her neck and lets her gaze fall back on her daemon. “i know. i know. i don’t either.”

“so we don’t go. we stay here, and we keep singing in tiny jazz clubs and lesbian bars and maybe someday make enough money to—”

“we can’t.” she picks him up again and places him on her shoulder. she wants to agree with him so badly— of course she’s felt the ever-so-slightly increasing distance from anthony the more excited he gets about his algorithm, but the fact remains that she loves him. and she would give up all of the good that she has now if that would make him happy. to her overdramatic feline, she says, “wedding vows have to mean something, don’t they?”

“i guess.”

“and, and maybe we can try to reconnect with them out there? maybe it will be different?"

“i hope so.”


November 2, 1949

“je ne l’aime pas.” asclepius flicks his trunk at the letter sitting on maggie’s desk.

she looks up at her daemon and answers him in danish, “we never like doing experiments on animals.”

“it’s not just that. the whole thing is covered in secrecy. and we’re studying solo, but all of the people we’ve talked to are new danes? if it’s really an alliance, why aren’t there more new francs?”

“i don’t know. haven’t met any mejicans or beringlanders for that matter either. but there was the one guy from texas…”


maggie stands up and leans her whole weight against the elephant, stretching her arms as long as she can in an attempt to recreate a hug. “they’re gonna adapt the lab for us right? they said they were going to?”

“yeah, they said in the letter.”

“if they don’t, i can use that as my excuse to quit.”

“you don’t have to say yes,” he whispers, switching back to french.

“i do. we’re not gonna get asked something like this again.”


January 28, 1942

“do you think other people talk to their daemons about their doubts?” bill doesn’t look over to horatia as he asks, but the bobcat stalks closer anyway.

“i’m sure other people have doubts. you’re just unnatural and narcissistic.”

“i know, isn’t it delightful?”

she shakes her head and grins a feline grin.

“i have no qualms about bringing partridge in, none whatsoever about the imminent success of project rainbow….”

“if it’s a failure, you’re going to have regrets.”

“see now, horatia, why would you even say something like that? i thought we were a united front.”

“excuse me, william, i meant, it won’t fail! we’ll be perfect! we never make any mistakes!”

“sarcastic asshole,” he murmurs.

“don’t swear in front of a lady.”

“you’re me.”

“and you’re mean.”

“we’re mean.”

she considers this for a moment before agreeing.


August 13, 20[][]

“why do i even check the news anymore?” sally sits with her feet up on her desk, mac perched on her shoulder, phone in her hands.

“was that a rhetorical question?”

“yeah, although i would like it if you’d do your job and stop me from making stupid life choices from now on.”

the ivory billed woodpecker looks down at the screen and shifts side to side uncomfortably. “that’s just a tweet though? it doesn’t have any legal bearing?”

she locks her phone and sets it down decisively. “doesn’t matter. it’s the symbolism of the thing.”

“we didn’t want to join the military anyway,” he offers.


“okay, okay. yes. it’s fucked up.”

thank you.

“i’m just tired of bad news, and it wasn’t like we thought it was gonna be easier for us to be trans during this administration but—“

“but we just weren’t sure how it was going to get harder and now it looks like this is the path they’re going down—“

“and the bathroom thing is still up in the air—“



“yeah.” sally sighs, picks her phone back up, and tosses it from hand to hand. “i don’t wanna go back to woooorrk.”

“gotta. the test is tomorrow.”

“the test is tomorrow,” she repeats him in a mocking voice, but stands up anyway.

“are you nervous or something?” mac’s claws dig just a little into her shoulder as he asks, and she knows that he already knows the answer is yes.

“psh, no! why would i be nervous?! it’s gonna go great!”

“right. sure.”