In her new universe, Rose Lalonde finds herself the steward of a youthful, innocent suburb that somehow seems to have never left the 50s. Its high school, the vibrant center, overflows with rambunctious teens procrastinating on homework, cheering on the football team, playing or dancing to rock-n-roll, and spending their free time at the local choklit shoppe.
She hangs around the choklit shoppe sometimes, sipping on a Virgin Mary (reminds her of someone she once knew, many worlds ago; they will never make it taste sharp enough for her in this clean-cut town) as she watches the core gang of regulars seated across a booth from her.
The genius shooshing his heavyset less-witted friend (in a way that seems oddly familiar) stopping him from yet another rampage on the overconfident posh fratboy with eyes for his girl - and really for every girl at the table (never her, never will be her, she'll be sure of it). Two other girls alternating between best buds for life and bitter rivals over the heart of the same guy (like a pair of squabbling sisters lashing on a switch), one lofty in her luxury and the other grounded in her grace.
And the guy in the middle of it all, sparky like his hair and bright like his smile, his closest epicurean comrade eating the table's fill and then some. He was the clear leader, though he never consciously chose so; he just opened up to life like a warm breeze through the trees.
Like someone she once knew.
Someone who may be in another part of her world, or another part of her universe, or in another universe altogether.
She doesn't know; she has not heard from her own little gang since the game was won.
Was this really a win?
To have to stay by the outskirts, holding court for the tendrils of dark that once consumed her, keeping them appeased enough so that they don't consume her charges, eat away at their purity?
They repay her for her repeat service, yes; the electricity jumps through her veins as she creates what is impossible for others but mundane for her. She's done this before. And she has the comfort of her old familiar, in his regular form but with the knowledge of his game-construct past.
She thought she had left them behind long before she fought the final battle. She thought her grand prize was to be free of them completely.
Her grand prize came with terms and conditions: be an excellent host to the Outer Gods as her city graciously hosts her as their victor.
Her charges can't know who she really is, of course. Or the key role she plays in keeping their sleep free from nightmares and their hearts free from terror.
But sometimes they notice her with her vegetable juice in the corner, lost in a book or a needlekind project, and whisper rumours about her being magical. Which is silly, of course; magic is fake as shit.
And once they get the courage to say hello and ask her for her name, she tells them:
"Call me Sabrina."