The rubble from Ate’s Villa laid on top of Erebus; his shadows still wrapped protectively tight around him. Well, that was fun. Pushing his way out from underneath the cement blocks, he climbed out into the street and searched for Ate, but she had disappeared. A small crowd of onlookers stood, gawking at the battle zone. Erebus brushed off the dust from his shoulders as he walked over to an old man.
“Where did she go?” Erebus demanded.
The old man mumbled something in Italian, then with his hands motioned what one could only assume meant explosion, as he added, “Poof.”
Erebus couldn’t be certain he wasn’t talking about the villa imploding.
“Poof?” Erebus asked.
“Dark― eh ― cloud― she gone―poof.”
Ate must have bounced by using her mist. The fight wasn’t over yet. She couldn’t have gone far. Erebus still felt her proximity. Giving a low whistle, Erebus dispersed his shadows to look for her. The beauty of being the God of Darkness and Shadows was having the ability to find anyone who tried to hide among the shadows. You can’t hide from me, Ate. His feelers were out there―searching for her. Normally this little game of cat and mouse would be irritating, but something deep within him relished in it. He felt the pull from his shadows as he turned the corner into an alleyway. It was like fishing. I’ve got something!
“Come out, come out, wherever you are.” Erebus kicked at an overturned box. “I don’t have all day, Ate.”
Instantly Ate’s voice was behind him. “You didn’t really think I would hide under a box now, did you?”
His shadows flew back to him in a nanosecond, but they weren’t fast enough, Ate’s foot connected with his back, sending him flying forward. His shadows took hold of him, sticking to him, becoming his armor of protection. He laughed.
“I just want to talk,” he said, turning to face her.
An eyebrow arched at his statement. “Talk? Worn out already, Old Prime?” Her eyes scanned him.
He could see the wheels turning in her head, but he’d play along for now. This time, he didn’t have to use his shadows to hold her in place. She let him take a step forward, followed by another, and then another, until they stood directly face to face. He could feel her breath on his cheek. A foreign feeling inside of him spiked as he took her firmly by the wrist and pushed her up against the side of a building.
“Now then, that’s better, wouldn’t you say?”
Ate tried to pull away, but she was locked in his grip.
She looked at Erebus’ hand on her wrist, before looking back into his dark eyes. “Play rough do you?”
“I don’t like these dreams you keep putting me into. I’ve had enough of your childish ways, Ate,” he scolded. “If you don’t want me around, that’s one thing, but there will be no more of these silly high school dreams.”
“We’re the same, Erebus, you and I. My darkness calls to yours. That’s why I can feel you when you’re close. It’s why you keep finding me, and how you found me first. Tell me, did you dream of me when I locked you away?” Ate licked her lips seductively.
Erebus thought of Emily. He thought she was a figment of the dream world, but as he stared into Ate’s eyes he could see now, it had been her this entire time. She had tricked him, she was still trying to trick him.
“It was you,” he whispered. “It’s always been you.”
“I needed you out of the way, and you needed a distraction.”
Taking a step back, Erebus let go of Ate’s wrist. Emily was Ate, Ate was Emily.
“Really, Erebus. You can’t be all that surprised. Your family moved on without you. Just like me. You’ve been gone for how long? Have they even asked about you? Did they look for you? I mean, I guess it makes sense since your precious Nyx was occupied with her new lover.”
Ate’s words stung. It wasn’t that long ago that he had spent a few nights following around ghosts, forced to relive a life that was no longer his, forced to face the future; a life without Nyx.
“You’re wrong,” he said, remembering his instant messages. He spoke bitterly to Ate. “I’m still their family. Sure, I’ve made some bad choices, but I’ve moved on.”
Ate wiggled her head, and instantly her long black hair shed way to the spiky blonde hair of Emily. Her red lips pursed into a smile. “Have you now? You gotta admit, this is kinda hot.”
“Don’t flirt with me Ate.”
It worked just like I had hoped. He had been so intent on finding me that he didn’t feel the pop of a primordial in this area. I had stopped trying to run when I felt it, too. Thinking it was Chronos and Kronos, I formed and went towards it, only to be surprised when Nyx and her lap dog, Dinlas, arrived in the area. Fine, plan B it was.
I hid in the alley, knowing it would take Erebus less than a second to find me. And it worked like a charm. He came in like before, arrogant and confident that he had found the evil trickster. But a trickster I was indeed, and everyone had a weakness to play on, primordial or not. After I had taken a little trip in Erebus’ head, I found what made his soul burn. Family. It’s always family.
I changed my appearance briefly to that of the woman I portrayed in his dream. Showing him what I said was true. He had been in my way since I conceived my plan. I knew how powerful he was, and the fact that he could control parts of me made him beyond dangerous. I had only hoped he would have stayed asleep longer. Granted, the power it took for that delusion had taken some effort with everything else I had going on, but it had to be done.
“Don’t flirt with me, Ate.” His voice was stern as he stepped back from me, but it held a hint of something else. Pain. My words hit a nerve earlier, and that was all the power I needed.
I stepped closer as I ran my hands through my hair, the long dark tresses coming back in an instant.
“Why can’t I?” I asked my voice playful as I tilted my head. “You can move on, Erebus. She did. Almost instantly. Kind of like you never meant anything to her. You’re replaceable, just like me.”
He glared at me, his voice cold. “Shut up.”
I stepped closer again as he took one step back. Bingo. Cat and mouse game over.
I heard steps drawing closer as power rippled through the air. Fuck. They had found us. All right, I’d move on to plan C.
I turned back to Erebus before he realized who was coming for us. I grabbed him by his collar, pulling him to me.
“Make me.” That was all I said before I slammed my lips onto his.
It was the first of many bad decisions I made in my long existence. For a moment, I forgot about Plans a, b, c, d, all the way through z. For that moment, there was just me and him. Something pulling me to him. It was the first time I’d really felt anything since I fell. But then, that moment ended.
“Ahem.” Nyx cleared her throat.
Pulling away from our kiss, I looked over my shoulder devilishly, “Oh hey, Nyx, Dinlas―didn’t see you there.”
Erebus just stood there, dumbfounded, unsure of what just happened. I turned back to him and wiped the red lipstick from his mouth. “Ooops,” I said with a shrug. The poor fool had no idea what was about to happen.
Dinlas was beside us, his guns drawn and ready before Erebus could even think to whip out his shadows.
Nyx spoke first. “Erebus, I thought we were past all this?”
“Wait― what?” He looked at her, confused.
Nyx waved her hands in front of her. A ribbon of black matter appeared. She tossed it to Dinlas. “Use this, you’ll never be able to hold him otherwise.”
Dinlas wrapped the black matter around Erebus’ wrists like handcuffs. “How could you, Erebus?” he said disappointedly.
“I― I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Erebus’ brow furrowed as he looked back and forth from Nyx to Dinlas, before resting his eyes on me. “What in Hades is going on?”
“We’re just going to ask you a few questions.” Nyx patted Erebus on the head like he was her dog. Her stare turned on me. “Both of you.”
“Yeah about that,” I stated as I tried to dissipate out of the area. I felt Erebus’ shadows wrap around me tight. He looked like he was ready to kill someone, possibly me.
“If I’m going, so are you.”