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“I’d love to have you as our guest at the seaside,” says Stavros.

“Would you?” says Xylia, at which point the demon of courtesy jams a hot spike into her antitragus.

“I mean,” she says, teeth grinding, “that’s so generous, but we couldn’t possibly–”

“Oh, I insist,” says Stavros, desperate, literally spurred on by a demon of his own.

“You’re too kind!” Xylia shrills.

The lights of the lobby pulse; with relief, they nod to one another and begin to navigate back into the theater.

“We’re three minutes early,” the stage manager reproves.

“You’ll live,” says the demon of small mercies.