I’d been driving my mortals crazy. They wouldn’t say it, but I could tell. I didn’t want to return to the GC, so I was bouncing between Micah and Tori’s homes. I didn’t want to be with the other gods. Not yet. I had accidentally done too much, too soon. Yes, I wanted to see what was going on with my sweet Adrestia, but I was no help to her in that mindset.
What surprised me was a text from an old friend that I hadn’t heard from in some time. I’d sent her my new number, but hadn’t heard back. So a random text asking to meet up was a pleasant surprise. I was quick to reply with a location that would give me the chance to show Izzy my new obsession with coffee and sweets.
Micah was more than happy to drive me to the meeting. It got me out of their hair for a while. I had covered as much of my blue-green skin as possible, but it was hard to disguise it, and makeup had only helped so much. I heard Izzy’s laugh before I looked up to see her at my table. How distracted was I?
“Oh, corazón. What happened to you?” Her thickly accented words made me smile. I rise and wrap the tanned goddess in a deep hug.
“Πεταλούδα. It has been far too long, and my new skin color is a very long story,” I said with a laugh, but I knew she was sure to get every detail possible out of me. “Sit, please. Would you like a pastry?” I said. It was obvious I had a problem. There was one of everything on the table as she looked for a place to set the cup in her hand down.
“I see that you have every pastry possible. You seem different, Dite.” Izzy was being more delicate than she usually was, and it made me wonder if I was even worse off than I’d imagined.
“Because I have been turned another color?” My therapist might accuse me of deflecting, but it was the first response that sprung into my head.
“That is one way, but you know better than that. I mean you. Your appearance has changed a lot since the last time I saw you. I thought the mint splotches were just another choice,” she said her umber, almond-shaped eyes sparkling with humor and a smile curving her full lips.
“It was a trap in my friend’s home, made by…” My voice trailed off, and I knew it showed on my face the moment her expression softened.
“So you have finally seen the light. I’m quite happy for you, but you seem distraught over your revelations.”
“Sometimes I worry over how well you know me, πεταλούδα.” Butterfly. It amused me that the nicknames had begun as less than amicable. I was the heart. She was the butterfly. We’d fought once, long ago, when I was still considered a war goddess. She was forever a warrior, but it’d been a long time since she questioned my skills in battle. Our malicious and derisive names for one another became loving endearments by the time our swords were sheathed and we lost ourselves in friendly drinks.
“I wish I knew you better, corazón. There is plenty that I don’t know about you that I wish I could help you with.” That soft expression on her face made my chest ache. What had I done to deserve friends like her? Like Hestia and the others? I knew how horrible I had been before, and yet they were there for me. “Do you want to talk about it?”
I sighed and cradled my coffee as I told her the story of my patient, the binging, my time in New Mexico, my attempts at reconciliation. “And that is where I am. I probably seem like an overly attached girlfriend with how I have blown up his phone.”
To her credit, Izzy didn’t interrupt me once. She just nodded and listened as she sipped at her coffee and nibbled on a danish. “Perhaps he needs time. Or, just maybe, he doesn’t have his phone with him. You don’t have to assume the worst. I’m sure that even now, after all this time, he still loves you. He’s loved you for this long, Dite, and distance only makes the heart grow fonder.”
Being optimistic and comforting was not always her forte, not in matters of the heart. Love hadn’t been kind to her after all. Her comforting nature was usually reserved for a very specific population, but she was doing well. “Thank you. I just rather change the subject. Tell me about you. What have you been doing? How is your son? Have you seen Xo lately?” She laughed, but I really was interested in her life, how her son had been, and where my counterpart in her pantheon was. “What? I was unable to find Xo’s number!”
“I was your second choice, then?”
“No! You know I love you more. I was just curious about what she has done since I last saw her.” I was sure that my cheeks were flushed beneath the dye adorning them.
“I haven’t seen her in a year. And my son has been living his own life. We have dinner and chat. I’ve been living among the mortals, but other than that, nothing exciting.” A sigh was her reaction to my face. I’d given her the long version of everything that had been going on in my life, and she was condensing everything. “Fine. I was lost for a little while after I heard your pantheon had joined the humans. I used to be among them more, but I’d been with my child and the others for millennia and hadn’t ventured among them after the destruction of our own mortals. I had some interesting mortal jobs, and it took longer than I’d care to admit to learn their ways all over again.” She shrugged, and I nodded, understanding how hard the transition could be when one wasn’t keeping up with the changes in the mortal world.
“You seem to have adapted well, Izzy.” I loved that grateful smile on her face. When her expression was soft and kind, I was even more amazed because I’d seen her true face. I knew the fierce warrior she was, and I aspired to be like her. Her followers feared and respected her, and not for reasons that people had feared me.
“Alright, enough with the tough talks. We are going to go bother my mortals. I do not know what sort of mortal media you enjoy or know, but I am going to introduce you to my favorites. We are overdue for a sleepover.” I laughed and shoved the rest of my half-eaten croissant into my mouth before I stood and motioned for her to follow.
“I think I’m being kidnapped. You know I’ll destroy you if you try to torture me with something horrible.” Still, she stood and moved to link her arm through mine.
“Yes, I know. But I think you will love it as much as I do.” We laughed as we walked from the coffee shop, moving to an alley to pop back to my mortal’s home. It was time they met Itzpapalotl, and perhaps it was time to tell them the truth of just who they were working for.