Balance was in my hands. I brought the kopis up, bracing it between myself and the windowpane. I hadn’t called it forth, so I was both concerned and soothed by its presence. Turning my face, I allowed the coolness of the steel to travel through me and give comfort to the fire burning within.
I was back at the GC, on my empty floor, by myself. Both with my family again and alone. I felt like I suddenly had no idea where to turn in this new world. Since I’d been back, I’d gotten way too attached to mortals. Warmth flooded my being as I thought of Carla, my head buzzing with light airiness. I paused, thinking of Anthony, what I’d done to him. There was no light buzzing there, only pain, consequences, and rage.
Eh, well, he really didn’t deserve you. Carla is your true believer, unless you let that April stick around. Then, you have zilch except truth, balance, and your oh-so loving family.
I sighed, shoving Balance away the way I wished I could shove away the taunts.
The only family I’d made contact with so far was Atë.
She had been…less than enthusiastic about that. I hadn’t been thrilled about it myself, not because it was Ruin, but because I would have rather avoided everyone all together. Standing there, amid the emptiness of my GC floor, I felt like family—however loosely translated—might be my last resort at balancing my scales.
I didn’t know how Atë would be able to help me find answers to my imbalance issue. She wasn’t playing with a completely balanced scale herself. I was more hopeful she could point me to someone who could help me solve the problem or at least navigate around it. If she couldn’t, or wasn’t willing, I’d have to see if there was some sort of Rolodex stating which family members were around.
A few hours later found Truth embedded in the wall. More aptly, embedded in a sketch of April’s face that was pinned to the wall.
When I started contemplating filling the hollow space with mannequins dressed like Carla’s apparent love, I decided to send the text to Atë I’d been putting off.
Dikê: It’s Dikê. Stop rolling your eyes. One of the robot receptionists gave me your number. Where do the other family hang out in this fucking place? I may need…help.
I squinted at her response through the spider cracks in my screen. She had replied faster than I had expected.
Atë: I know a bar downtown that is killer. Also, I may need your help. How good are you at cracking into cell phones?
I arched an eyebrow. I’d meant where in the building, not some dive bar. I knew there had to be some place for official and unofficial gatherings on the grounds. I pushed that aside and considered the rest of her response and question.
Dikê: If I have access to the person’s fingers, it’s fairly easy.
Remembering who I was talking to, I sent a quick follow-up.
Dikê: Ignore that. Bar address?
She responded just as quickly, with an address and a declaration that she’d meet me there shortly. Taking a deep breath, I sheathed Truth then popped down to the address she had given me.
Once there, I ordered a whiskey neat. I could feel the eyes on me as I shuffled through the tables, finding a seat away from the center, but not in a corner. Eventually, I frowned down at the disappearing drink. Atë was taking longer than anticipated.
I glanced around the filling bar before I sent another quick text her way.
Dikê: Here. Where are you? Not the time to stand me up, Ruin.
Almost instantly, she appeared at my side, sliding onto the stool next to me. Had she been waiting to make an entrance? It would figure. “Look, you showed,” she said.
I arched a brow, annoyed. “Why wouldn’t I? I texted you.” I took a sip of my drink, letting the warm liquid coat my throat. I decided to cut to the chase, hoping to avoid getting trapped in the snarky back-and-forth cycle we could so easily fall into. “I need some help, I think. And it seems like it will be in your wheelhouse, or you’ll at least be able to…point me in the direction of the right immortal.”
“Ooooo, helping justice…I think they have a whole movie about this,” she exclaimed before turning to wave the bartender over and ordering double shots of whiskey. “Ok, so who is the immortal in question?”
I tilted my head slightly, smirking. “If I knew that, I wouldn’t have texted you, Atë.” I waved my hand dismissively before she could counter. “What or who helps you when you’re…feeling…ragey…unhinged…unbalanced?”
The bartender returned, handing Atë her shots. She downed them quickly, then turned to face me. “Honestly?”
I nodded slowly, trying hard not to roll my eyes. “Yes, preferably.”
“No one.” She shrugged, the move coming off less nonchalant than I thought she intended. “Well, myself, but that’s only because I’ve been alone so long. I didn’t have anyone to help me,” she added, making air quotes at the word help. “Why? Feeling unhinged?”
“I am not…my scales are tipped….tipping…I almost…” Something about the directness of her question had me sputtering through, trying to give answers I was aware of but didn’t necessarily want to acknowledge. My skin began to prickle with discomfort as I whispered, “Yes.”
Wow, you just made Atë your confessor. She’d be more likely to help you get rid of April than to save you. Go ahead, ask her. The voice taunted, making my teeth grind together.
Oblivious to our guest, Atë sighed, downing her drink and signaling for the bartender to return. “Well, what do you care about?”
A smirk curved my lips. “At the moment? The high of restoring balance,” I paused, before admitting out loud what I hadn’t yet acknowledged to myself, “and the pain I may get to inflict along the way.”
My phone started buzzing. I pulled it out, reading the screen quickly, my thumb sliding over the jagged edges of the cracks as I scrolled. It was a group message from Oscar and Laura, two members of the introduction group I’d been placed in when I was accepted to Law School.
I glanced up at Atë. She was quiet, a smirk curving her lips. Obviously, she wasn’t planning to be helpful. Maybe she wanted to see me grovel. I wasn’t in a mood to play that game. Oscar’s and Laura’s text had come right on time, offering a way to clear my mind.
I was going to take them up on it.
“If you figure out a way to…help or can think of someone else who may be able to, let me know. Unbalanced justice isn’t good for anyone.”
Pocketing my phone, I downed the last of my drink and vanished in a flurry of stardust.
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