This is probably an incomplete chapter as (non-linearity ahoy!) we need to add a scene into it. Nothing load-bearing in terms of the narrative logic of the plot; we just need a quiet moment between two characters, to address what happened last chapter and set up what’s coming after.
Most of this chapter is character moments, actually, though not all of them are quiet. Really, very few of them are. But if this chapter has a theme, it’s “people have some long-standing issues out with the other people in their lives.” Some of those confrontations end in reconciliation; some really, really don’t. It makes for a nice mix, I hope, and the other reason to add in that extra bit will be to create some space between two scenes that are otherwise a bit similar in their creation of some rifts that have been a long time coming.
Also? Alyc and I are really enjoying the avoidance of toxic masculinity. Whatever issues our male characters may have (and boy howdy do they have some), they aren’t generally rooted in the need to create and defend a certain gendered image of themselves. It’s other aspects of their identity they’re trying to uphold, and those aren’t necessarily incompatible with saying “yeah, I need to talk about what I’m going through.”
Word count: ~159,000
Authorial sadism: We didn’t have to clarify the role that character played in those events. But . . . yeah, we kind of had to.
Authorial amusement: Kind of thin on the ground, honestly, given some of the trauma being unpacked here. We punched the air a couple of times for characters standing up when they needed to, but that’s not the same thing as amusing ourselves.
BLR quotient: The blood was necessary. Sometimes you have to lance a boil before healing can begin.