“Gwen what if I asked you for another chance?” Ares popped up in the sand next to me asking as I stalked about trying to decide where to cloud to first on my journey home. It’s almost Christmas and my children will be expecting gifts.
“I would say no.” I told him blankly.
“Why, don’t you miss me a little bit? I mean I am going back to hell. Can’t you give me a little time with you before then?” he pressed on.
“Nope. Because I realized that it doesn’t matter if you love me, if you’re a good guy, or if you’re genuinely sorry.” I told him plainly as though his request had not shaken me at all. I wanted to slap him and curse his name. But, I was good. I refrained.
“That hurt.” He said wryly.
“Look, no matter how great you are or how much you love me, you will hurt me. Plain and simple. And the worst part is, you never seem to register that you are being hurtful at the time and just look at me asking what was so bad about what you said.” I explained.
“Name one time.” He demanded.
“I don’t remember.” I lied.
“No. You and your infamous memory. Give me one example Gwen.” He pouted as though he had some great response to give me in return.
“Before, you would have actually cried at the thought of hurting me or being insensitive to my needs. But, you got quote unquote used to me. Blatant disregard followed.” I began.
“Like when?” he huffed.
“Like after you broke up with me and still wanted to be friends. There you are telling me how you were having Aphrodite come to your place for the festival and how since I know what a great kisser you are, you don’t know if you’ll be able to control yourself and limit things to a kiss because you didn’t want to move that fast.” I recollected with anger building in every word. But, I’m determined to keep my cool and continually remind myself that Samuel does better than that. A lot better.
“What was so bad about that? I mean you were still my best friend.” He said confused.
“Really? Telling the woman you just left who you said would never physically satisfy you that you didn’t think you’d survive one kiss with the woman you left her for without rushing off to bed doesn’t seem that bad huh?” I told him and clouded away.
Unfortunately, I clouded back and dumped about a half ton of ocean water on him in the middle of the Sahara.
“Make mud patties while you think about it.” I said brattily.
I shrouded myself in mist slowly so I could see his reaction. Despite being what he is, sometimes he has a very human like heart. I knew I’d hurt him and the water certainly didn’t help. But, tear for tear, he got every drop I cried over the centuries back just now.
He just stood there stupefied and trying to remember if he’d actually said that or if he could conceivably say that I’d made it up or blamed him for someone else’s wrong doing. His clenched his fists and tried to raise the mud to throw a tantrum. He only wound up making a sand castle that resembled a painting we had made of ourselves long ago. I guess he remembered.
“I shouldn’t even speak to you if I was that kind of asshole.” He muttered to himself.
I hoped he would leave me alone. But, I had the most frightening thought. Why was Ryan on the ground when I found them in Vatican City? Did he implant him with sand?
In which case Ares knows where the Jade Gates are right now and any diversion I could offer them just went out of the window because he will surely throw himself into the mission of destruction he’s been enlisted for. Especially now that chasing me around for “old times sake” is no longer an option.
I’d better stop by… after I check on my husband and kids to make sure they are still alive. No, what if he tracks me there and is hoping I will lead him straight to my family so that I’ll be so overcome with grief that the only thing I can do is to rejoin him? No. Better to go to headquarters first.
* * *
“Ryan.” I pleaded. He keeps slipping off in thought. He can’t concentrate at all and stopped mid sentence having some sort of inner conflict with himself. “Ryan?” I persisted.
I can’t tell if he’s hurt or if something, some part of Mars projected onto him. When I got to him he was on the ground. I saw him jump from the top of the Basilica and I thought that maybe the angels were directing him elsewhere. I mean Mars hadn’t gotten there yet, he can’t run any faster than I can and none of the scorpion like hands were cruising through the city. What else could it have been but the angels right?
I leapt for the roof of the Basilica and just blindly ran into the courtyard that Alistor was in. I shot him point blank and he looked right at me as I did. This puzzled me greatly as he had plenty of time to move. He has the same speed and strength that I do, maybe even more.
But, the look in his eyes was… well… grateful. He seemed grateful that I was putting an end to his rouse and like it truly pained him to have to be there. He convulsed on the floor and the priests around him spread apart. His disguise withered away and faded from him slowly revealing a dark skinned, albeit amazingly handsome man, with shoulder length bone straight white hair and a mouthful of silver teeth.
I always wished Alistor was a friend of mine. But, being a Nehphilim… well that kind of scared me. They have always been beyond valor, beyond mere strength, beyond a vampire’s league and to be in league with one made you no less than a socialite. He was always so cool though. And here we are meeting for the first time, me shooting him with a Holy water laced dart thus blowing his cover and he’s grateful?
What twisted end is this?
I circled back around, certain that even if the priests knew I was there, they had a slim chance of catching me. He stood up, smiled at the priests, looked at me once more nodding in approval, and said “Can’t we all just get along?”
I laughed out loud. Have a party with that Alistor. You unleashed Osiris in the freaking Vatican City and invited Mars for a night cap and you want them to be nice about it. Forget that you impersonated one of them or that you felt me coming a mile away, because as vampires we can sense each other and you didn’t warn them. Not even as a diversion to protect yourself. And you are seriously just standing there, silver fanged and all.
I immediately resumed my search for Ryan, convinced that something worse was at large if Alistor was so calm about having been busted. And I found what I was looking for. Ryan was on the ground. I knew it was Ryan because Mars still had a blue glow in his eyes that ringed of hellish flame. But, Ryan was perfectly still, covered in sand, and looking straight up into the sky.
The sand made sense because Mars is covered in it and if he so much as blinks it gets on you, but what could he have done? Ryan had not been dismembered for him to have fallen into a coma of any sort. All I could do was crouch over him and hope that whatever fate he was going to suffer, that he knew that I was right there with him, waiting patiently for Mars to do the same to me.
I held his hand and kissed his cheek, holding on tightly for what was about to happen next. Then there was a sharp cold breeze, a warm mist, and snow. Amelia was standing at the Jade Gate crying, and Deacon, although he seemed consumed with his own grief came to meet us.
We carried Ryan in and have been trying to revive him since. I left him sitting there in his stupor so I could go and cry in the bathroom alone. Belle has been severed in two and is now hidden in Petra. My first real friend and sister in so long and she’s gone. Only God knows when she will wake up because only God has a plan for when she does. But, I didn’t get to say good bye, not really. And Deacon… There are no words to comfort him.
It took hours of trying to pull myself together and debriefing them about Mars and Osiris and the book of the dead we found, how the statues began to move and how Alistor’s cover was blown. I asked repeatedly about Gwen and if she had returned.
There were no good answers today.
“Ryan. Baby please. I need you to concentrate. What did Mars do to you?” I asked him as I kissed his cheeks, and his hands before holding them warmly in mine.
“Hide me.” he managed.
“Why baby? You’re safe here.” I consoled him.
“You’re not. Ares sees you through my eyes.” Ryan said with strain in his voice.
“I know he likes me like you do but…” I began. Then it slowly dawned on me.
Sand. Ryan was covered in sand when I found him.
“Ryan?” I said as his hands nearly crushed mine.
“Where is the prophecy?” he growled in a voice not his own.
And I knew in that instant that my poor possessed husband was about to have a very long night. Exorcisms of this sort are never short. But, perhaps Raphael will descend again.
The alarms began to go off and Deacon came crashing in to our quarters. He doused Ryan in a bucket full of cold Holy water, the shock of which gave Ryan a second to break free of Mars’ hold and let go of my now broken hands.
“Mars, Ares, whatever the hell his name is…. he’s at the gate.” Deacon said as he assessed Ryan and tried to piece together what just happened.
“How did you…” I began.
“Rick heard Ryan’s thoughts. Said he was screaming to be tied up and that Ares was in his brain. So here I stopped for water to make sure he’d go quietly.” Deacon explained as he quickly brought the rope in from the hall.
“You’ve got about thirty seconds to tie me up man. I can’t fight him forever. Baby I’m sorry about your hands.” Ryan said gasping and desperately trying to stay seated. Everything in him wanted to get up and run to his new master.
“Peace be still in the name of Jesus.” I said as I crossed him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And just like that he passed out. But, not before Mars could whisper “I’ll get you.”
(Photo courtesy of: http://blogs.diariodepernambuco.com.br/economia/?p=11003)
Music for this episode – Gangnam Style by Psy