Carla wasn’t happy. When I turned my head away from her crotch, I saw why.
She had company.
I groaned, sitting up. I felt a little woozy, the imbalance feeling more physical than internal this go-round. The popcorn in Carla’s bowl smelled delicious but simultaneously made me want to wretch.
There was also a weird mortal staring at me.
Weird in the sense that I didn’t know her. Yet, she was in my Carla’s apartment, with her feet up and arms crossed. Truthfully, she was probably fairly normal, given her shocked look as she glanced back and forth between Carla and me.
“You know a god?” she whispered to Carla.
Carla shrugged, pushing me onto the floor and standing.
“Goddess,” I muttered, grabbing my head and climbing back onto the couch. I didn’t usually care about such things, but it seemed a good time to level set with—whoever she was.
The room was spinning, which sucked. I had more important concerns. Like, how the fuck had I ended up in Carla’s lap—especially during an obvious date? I frowned, opening an eye to peek at the other women.
“Dikê, April. April, Dikê,” Carla offered, waving her hand between us.
“Yes, Justice,” I answered, glaring back at Carla with a sigh, for no other reason than to be petulant.
“Oh, uh, yeah, I guess. I was going to say the owner of Blind Equity, the one Carla told me about.”
Carla shook her head, frowning at me.
“So, you’re like, Justice incarnate and…you just appeared in Carla’s lap from like a flurry of stars? Is that, you know, normal? Should I…” she paused, looking at Carla, “do you need me to leave you two alone?”
If it was possible, Carla’s frown deepened. She rather rudely ignored April’s question and turned to me before I could answer my portion of the woman’s rambling. “What’s going on, Dikê?”
I raised my hands, leaning back against the couch cushions. “Beats me.”
“You were in Greece.”
“I was.” I shook my head, forgetting my woozy headache and regretting the memory lapse immediately. I winced but decided to reach for popcorn instead of my head.
“Then, how are you here?”
“How? Oh…we can teleport or whatever your preference of word is for instant travel. It’s a deity thing.” I munched some popcorn, staring out at the two women. They’d been cozy but on separate couches. Weird date.
“Riiiight. So, then why are you here?”
“Justice! I am not in the mood.”
I glanced at April and let my eyes sweep back to Carla, allowing just a bit of silver to peek through. “I can very well see what mood you are in, Carla. I just don’t have the answers you seek.”
“Don’t play those fucking eye games with me. I’m not yours. You’re not mine. That’s the deal. I’m sure Anthony would agree.” She enunciated every syllable of his name as she folded her arms. “Now, why have you interrupted my afternoon twice? Once with a weird-ass phone call and now with stardust in my lap.”
I ignored Carla’s Anthony reference. She had not approved of that at all, for several reasons. Instead, I smirked, turning to April. “So, what were you guys watching?”
She quickly glanced at Carla before responding, “Maiden Voyage Chronicles.”
Grabbing another handful of the delicious popcorn, I devoured it before I nodded. The silver shone clearly in my eyes as I stood and walked toward her. “Any good?”
April gasped, looking away before Carla dropped her arms, shifted her stance, and placed herself between us. She reached out, tracing my jaw. My fingers wrapped around her wrists as my eyes closed. Without meaning to, I began pulling her truth.
She loved me. She’d missed me. She was very worried about me, but she was also upset I’d ruined her afternoon with April.
I snarled internally.
“Justice,” she whispered, calling me back to her. “What. Is. Wrong?”
“I don’t know. But you need to get your friend out of here, now.”
Accessing someone’s truth and true intent was hard on my internal scales. It was not something I relished doing or ever did accidentally. That I’d pulled Carla’s accidentally was a problem. That I’d done so at all was already proving bad for my balance.
Turning, I stumbled over the couch as I rushed down the hallway to the back of the apartment. I found the bathroom, shoved the door closed behind me, collapsed to the floor, and face planted into the toilet. Even as I raised my head, it felt like I’d emptied my soul into the bowl as my body shook from the effort.
I flushed the remnants before sitting back against the ceramic tub. The silence of the room settled around me as a coolness eased across my skin.
Then it began.
The tile felt cold against my fingers, the chill trickling from the pads up my arms. I flexed them to regain warmth, but the urge to curl them into fists became overwhelming.
If your judgment were strong, there would have never been an Anthony. Carla would not be with another. Carla is true to you. She’s a true believer. She reveres Justice. You, however, aren’t worthy of her reverence.
The voice mocked and taunted as I squeezed my eyes shut.
Judge yourself, Justice. What do you see?
I growled as tremors raced up my body. My eyes shot open, bright with silver. The first thing I saw, the truth of the moment, was two toothbrushes.
Two. Not one. On the vanity. At Carla’s house.
My fists pounded into the floor, the tile cracking around me. I stood, kicking the marbled reject pieces against the door before pulling it open and strutting out into the hallway.
Who did she think she was?
Who did they think they were?
I skidded to a halt as I crested the small doorway back into the living room. My heart stopped. I swear, for a moment, I was actually incapable of breathing.
Carla stood there with April lying against her. She kissed her forehead. Carla’s fingers massaged the black coils atop the shorter woman’s head as she whispered words I couldn’t hear, even with goddess hearing. My rage bubbled so loudly in my ears. I could barely make out the words she spoke directly to me when she finally turned around.
The sight was beautiful. It should have been us. It wasn’t fair.
Fair. Ha! If justice isn’t fair, why should anything else be? The voice taunted again.
I stalked forward. Carla immediately twirled, pushing April behind her, as she held out her hand to stop me. She couldn’t. She was mortal. I could crush her for every imbalanced act she’d ever committed, and she’d never be able to fight back. That didn’t stop her from trying. It didn’t prevent her from risking it for…for fucking April.
The feel of her hand against my chest, over my heart, brought me up short.
“Something is wrong, Justice.”
Duh, I thought at the exact moment the voice taunted. I guess we were in agreement.
“Y’all live together,” I stated, refusing to acknowledge her observation as I looked past her to April. My eyes were still bright pools of silver as my power pulsed through me.
Their words came out in a rushed jumble. The jumble preceded a vivid image of Balance’s blade pressed against April’s throat, her blood coating the floor beneath us. She was mortal. It was fairly guaranteed she’d disturbed the balance in some way. They all had. They all constantly avoided the judgment they deserved. My lips slowly curved into a smirk as I once again contemplated implementing true justice.
True? Don’t know about that.
You can fuck off, I whispered to whatever dark entity was stalking me.
Already have. Maybe check in with your scales though, seems you might be talking to yourself.
I accepted my imbalance was high enough I no longer had to measure it.
I tilted my head, narrowing my eyes as I stared directly at Carla. “Balance requires time. You shouldn’t rush into anything.”
Had that been for her benefit or mine?
Frowning, I glanced away from Carla and directly at April. “Yeah, don’t rush. It could be extremely dangerous.”
For who? was the echoed thought as I vanished in a flurry of stars.