My touring of the festival season is winding down. I had traveled to Austria, to France, then Spain, to Australia and back to The United States. I am exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. I had asked the producers of Love Me or Love Me Not if it was possible to postpone the show by a month so that I didn’t have to break my tour obligations. I am ready to relax and not at all prepared for what I am going to put myself through in the next month.
To be honest, I am trying to keep myself occupied. Most of the titans have been caught and put back in their jail cells in Tartarus. Including Atё. That, however, is something I have had a hard time dealing with and have spent the last month trying to forget my part in it. The guilt is eating me up more than I care to admit. I know what you’re thinking, why does that matter? And I wish that I could be one hundred percent honest with you, but I can’t. I’ve gone over it and over it, my connection to her seems to have grown and it confuses me. I haven’t felt anything like this before, not even with Nyx. When I was with Atё, there was this strange pull from deep within. She is in my head and in my heart if I am to admit it.
So, why then, am I carrying on with this stupid show? Well for starters, I have no idea if Atё feels the same, but I have to wonder. Sure, we have been at each other’s throats; her constant meddling had certainly gotten me into enough trouble. She flirted, that much was obvious, and after that kiss, there is no question there was something between us. For God’s sake, she had helped me put away Hyperion. A mortal would say it was like we were two kids on a playground, who always fought. She would kick me and I would pull her hair. Apparently, that means we like one another. What funny ways these mortals have of showing their affection. And yet, Atë couldn’t admit her feelings. She was so angry with everyone and the world, she likely couldn’t see past her blind rage. Plus, after what I had done, I don’t imagine she’d still feel anything anymore.
Secondly, Atë would be locked up for an undetermined amount of time, possibly forever. What kind of future would that be for us? Pining away for one another while she was behind bars, certainly not a healthy one. No—no, I would do the show and forget about it, I would shove any feelings I think I might have aside.
When I get back to the OA building, there is a stack of messages and new festival requests waiting for me. I think I may start to delegate and hire some more help. Erebus After Dark has grown substantially and I am not prepared for the increased workload. My exhaustion is kicking in. For all the power being a primordial gives me, sometimes it doesn’t matter. My family often makes fun of me and how much I nap, I’ve learned to brush them off. I drop my bags, letting them hit the floor with a loud thunk. Stumbling towards my bed, I don’t even bother taking off my clothes. I crave only one thing, my pillow…and deep sleep. I close my eyes and the memory of the last time I saw her tugs at me, it is as if she, herself, is trying to remind me that she won’t let me go. Her eyes are vacant, all of the fight sucked out of her. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to push her out of my mind.
I sat on top of Olympus, looking down at the land that I had just saved. Hyperion safely nestled away in my black hole ring. I had battled once again. Battled. I snorted at myself, at least I did my part and I hoped Dinlas and Nyx would piss off now. Looking over the mountain range and across at the setting sun, I had never felt more alone. I was so proud of what I had done for my people, and no one even knew or likely would care.
That wasn’t much of a fight, if you’d asked me.
I smiled at the sound of Atë’s voice in my head. I was getting used to it.
What are you doing? Don’t you have a King to kill?
Do you want the truth or a lie?
I cocked a brow at Atë.
She rolled her eyes at me and my lack of playfulness in the moment.
I Just wanted to see you again.
Atë, maybe you should rethink this. You don’t have to be alone anymore.
No. He will pay for what he did. I have to do this, and you can’t stop me.
I looked ahead at the sunset. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I sat quietly, thinking she had left. I didn’t feel her like I usually could, so I spoke candidly.
I wish you could see this sunset.
I had wanted to say more, but I didn’t know what. What could I say that would change her mind? Atë had been hurting for so long, longer than I ever had. A familiar pain ripped through me. I knew exactly how she felt, and all the anger in the world wasn’t going to make her feel any better. She was only going to feel more alone in the end.
The sun had set behind the mountains and I stood, gathering my daggers. It was time to go to Tartarus and put Hyperion back in his cage. I could hardly blame him for his anger, any of them really. Maybe being free all these years had made me soft, maybe it was the idea of knowing Atë would soon be locked up with them that bothered me. She didn’t deserve it, she didn’t deserve any of it. What Zeus had done to her was unforgivable, but he couldn’t get past his own ego to see how he had hurt his own daughter. With the sun dissolved into the ground, Nyx’s sky turned dark. I spread my black wings and flew down the mountainside, not caring if anyone saw me this time around. Maybe once I returned home and got back to work, this feeling in my stomach would dissipate.
My cell phone buzzes, waking me. I roll over, groaning at the memory on the mountain. If only I hadn’t come home after capturing Hyperion. I should have kept the miserable titan in my ring instead of returning to Tartarus. I should have gone on tour right away, and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did.
My phone buzzes again, alerting me to the problems of today and not those from a month ago. Grabbing my phone, I look at an IM from Hades.
“I know you’re back. When are you coming to see her?”
I want to yell at him through my phone, but it is useless. The moron is so daft he doesn’t understand. Or maybe he does, and that’s why he has persisted. Rolling over again, I ignore his IM, and closing my eyes I fall back into the past.
“Why do I have to be the one?” My face boiled in anger.
“Because she listens to you.” Hades stood in front of me with his arms crossed.
“I can’t believe you would do this to your best friend,” I said shaking my head in disbelief.
“We both know, that if I had a choice, I wouldn’t be doing this. But it has to be done. She knows there are consequences for what she has done”
“Yeah, and now you’re dragging me into it.”
“Just do this Erebus, and you’ll never have to prove yourself again.”
“You know, I’ve had enough of this proving myself. I existed before all of you little shits. My allegiance is, and always has been, to Chaos and everything that was created after. Damn Zeus and his ego—and before him it was Uranus. What is that saying mortals use? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. What my sister ever saw in that jackass, I’ll never know.”
“Erebus—” Hades looked at me, “She won’t hold it against you.”
“Enough.” I paced back and forth thinking about what I was going to do next. “Fine, where is she?”
Hades motioned for me to follow him. My chest tightened at the thought of what I was about to do.
“Zeus is meeting us—he has her and called ahead.”
I shot a look at Hades. “He has her?” I gulped.
Hades took me to a cell where they would lock up Atë. The walls were made of cement and brick from thousands of years ago. They had aged, black mold had grown on some of the bricks. Being thousands of miles below the ground, not a single light shed into the cell. There wasn’t even a bed for her to lie on. There were scratch marks on the walls, and it smelled like must and piss. No comforts of home, this was a jail cell in its worst form.
I spun around horrified. “You can’t put her here!”
“It wasn’t my idea.” Hades grimaced. “Zeus needs to make sure she doesn’t get out.”
“I thought that was the reason why I am here,” I snapped.
“This is the strongest cell that we have.”
I cocked a brow at him. “You mean to tell me this is Chronos’ cell?”
Hades all but nodded.
“You haven’t found him yet?” I looked back at the cell in disbelief. She was going to spend all of eternity here. And I would be partly responsible for putting her here. I instantly felt like I was going to be sick. I hated myself, even more so than usual. When my head began to pound, I knew that they were close.
“They’re almost here. I can feel her.”
Hades just looked at me with an unusual stare.
“It’s a new development between us. I don’t know how…”
Seconds later Zeus popped in with Atë in his arms. She was a shell of the goddess I was used to seeing. She looked different, sad and drained of her anger. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not be here for this.” Hades grabbed hold of her, taking her by the arms. Her eyes shifted from Zeus to Hades and finally landed on me. The sarcastic, spunky, flirtatious Atë was no longer in front of me.
Zeus exited without another word.
“Oh, no please, almighty let me…” I said sarcastically to no one. “I think I can manage, locking up your daughter without any of your help.”
Hades balanced Atë while opening the door to her cell.
My insides churned at the very thought of locking Atë up forever. What has gotten into me? Flashbacks to the days before Zeus swam through my head; when I would spend years in thick blackness honing my powers. I had been alone then, but the difference between me and Atë was I chose darkness, I relished it, my power grew from it. She was now going to be locked in it without a choice to leave, without light, without anyone to talk to.
Atë was looking at me. “I locked you away, so I guess this is only fair, huh?” she said with a half-smirk.
I knew she was trying to make me feel better for what I was about to do.
Hades took her by the hands pulling her into the cell. I could see the blackmatter handcuffs that had been put on her. They were useless against her misting. She could escape right now but chose not to. I cocked my head at her, confused. Had she really given up? What happened between her and Zeus to make her like this?
“Atë, I’m sorry. I really… you ain’t so bad.”
Hades closed the bars behind her. She turned around and looked at both of us, hurt in her eyes.
I lifted my hands, pulling on my shadows, I could feel their hesitancy. I pulled harder and they reluctantly withdrew. Slowly, I sent them towards her prison. A black veil formed and fit over the bars, sealing the cell so tight nothing would get past them. Atë would not be able to mist her way out of it, no matter how hard she tried. I had only used an eighth of my shadows, a part of me now would always be here, watching over her. At least I could take comfort in that. I turned away without giving her another look.
“I saw it.”
Her strained voice made me turn around. “What?”
Atë looked at Hades, without a word he understood what she was asking. He stepped back, giving us some space.
“I saw the sunset.”
My chest tightened as I took a step back towards the cell.
“After you put Hyperion in your ring,” she began to explain, but I put my hand up to stop her.
“Why did you want me to see the sunset?”
Her question threw me off guard and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to answer her.
“Do you want the truth or a lie?” I smirked as I repeated the line she used. Then shrugged. “I guess I wanted to see you too.”