So that was it. After all that, after the distance traveled and the challenges overcome, it came down to some ugly, god-hating organization. My mother’s memories, trashed and discarded by mortals. The old itch from the Titanomachy was crawling under my skin, addictive now as it was then. Flashes of mortal’s blood across my forearms invaded my mind’s eyes, watching them fall and march off to the Underworld at my whim. I could do it. I wanted to do it. But, I couldn’t fall back on that. Those were dark times. I was better than that.
Am I, though?
I didn’t want to be. Not when the world was continuously less than that. Nothing was sacred to humans. Nothing was worth preserving. And my mother – she had brought us all to life, and how was she repaid? With scum and ignorance. The world did not deserve my mercy.
I grabbed my phone and went to the only speed dial contact I had. I jammed my finger on the screen and missed the call button twice before steadying my hand enough to get it to start ringing.
“Pick up, pick up,” I mumbled. The overwhelming tsunami I felt was going to crash soon. Philotes walked by my cabin and stopped, frowning at me.
“Mother, are you -”
She was cut off by the sound of the phone answering on the other side.
“Nyx?” he said. He sounded hopeful and relieved.
I let out a long breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Dinlas. I need you, can you – I mean,” I backtracked, remembering Daisuke, “are you able to get away?” I wanted to tell him to forget the child. I needed him more. But that was harsh, and my mother’s instincts were telling me to get a grip. So I did, for a moment.
“I can be anywhere you need me, Nyx. Is something wrong? Are you hurt?” he replied. We are always on the same wavelength as he added, “I just need to take care of Daisuke.”
“No, I’m-I’m okay, it’s…it’s miteras, Dinlas.” My voice broke at her name, and I waved Philotes away as she took a step towards me. Frowning, she nodded and left, hands in her pockets.
“What is wrong, Nyx? Did you find the sailor? Or did you find her? Is she here?” His string of questions may have continued if I let it, so I cut him off.
“Amata, she’s…” I shook my head, pinching my finger and thumb over my eyes to try to keep it together. “Just come find me, please. I need you.”
“I will be there as soon as I can,” he replied tersely. Then the phone disconnected.
An hour later, I saw him circling lazily over the island on the wings I gifted him. He searched back and forth until he spied our yacht and covered the distance quickly. Our practice time together over the last few months paid off as he landed lightly on the stern. He glanced around as he touched his bracelet, and the soft gray wings disappeared. “Amorcito,” he said as he saw me and hugged me tightly.
I practically threw myself into his arms, latching onto him like the lifeline he was. I buried my face into his chest. “Amata,” I breathed, another wave threatening to hit me again. “You came.”
He gently disengaged from me and held my shoulders so he could look into my eyes better. “What? Of course I did? What’s wrong, my love?”
I couldn’t say it. It felt too final. Soft steps told me my daughters and Luna were there now, watching warily. “She’s…I. The Void, can we..?”
Dinlas didn’t say anything, but instead, let go of my shoulders and slid his hand into mine. I didn’t look up from his chest as I teleported us away and into the soft air of the Void. The familiar whorl of stars beneath my feet, once comforting, felt painful. I squeezed Dinlas’ hand much harder than I meant to.
“Hey, I’m here,” he said when I stood there unresponsive. “Tell me what happened because you said you were okay but I don’t see it at all.”
“She’s gone, Dinlas.” There it is. As if it were the simplest thing in the world, just putting the words into the universe. “Chaos does not exist here, not the way you and I do. She’s been gone for so long. I don’t know if she could ever come back, even if she wanted to.”
Dinlas said nothing at first, but pulled me in and held me close to his body. I wrapped my arms around him, and we stood there, in the Void. Stars swirled around, and my sobs pierced the silence, but we just held our embrace.
“What can I do, Nyx? What can I do to help?”
My hands dropped to my sides, anger sweeping in over the press of despair. I looked up at him, disengaging from his arms, shaking my head.
“No one can help. Not a damn person in this gods-forsaken place can help.” I threw my hands in the air, my immortal form returning once more as my voice rose.
“Humans treated Chaos like a drunken pastime! They bartered her gifts and used her memories for their own pleasure, for their own gain! I am tired of it, amata. I’m so tired! The Titans, Kronos, my mother – I feel like there is nothing in the world that wants me to be happy, and I can’t win! I just can’t win…”
The tirade that poured from me made my heart burn, and tears mixed with my shouting at the stars. I hoped, still, that Chaos would hear me in this sacred place, but I knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t here anymore.
I turned back to Dinlas and grabbed his hands tightly, sinking to my knees as I folded my wings around us.
“I am so tired, amata. You are…the best thing that has happened to me in a long, long time, and I just…” words were escaping me again, and I felt guilty for being angry. I sounded like I was pushing him away. My fiance. I choked again on the thought. Serves me right if he leaves me.
“You just what?” he persisted after my voice faded away. “Nyx, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I struggle to understand your longing to see your mother because if mine left today, I wouldn’t notice or care. I understand a life alone, believe me. I have sought affection and validation in so many wrong places. Only you filled that hole in me. I hope that in time I can do that for you. I hope I can heal you.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I must sound like I’m rubbing it in somehow,” I started, pressing my face into his knuckles. “I…I guess I just…”
I sat down hard on my ass, looking up at him. “Is it strange for someone like…like me to want a mother? I am a mother to many, so many things to so many people. Is it wrong of me?”
“Not at all, and I don’t think you are rubbing anything in. I just said it because I am watching you suffer, and I am trying to figure out how to help.” Dinlas rubbed one hand across his face. “Everyone needs a mother, and everyone wants a mother. No one thinks any less of you for missing yours.”
I nod slowly, my eyes roaming over him. Steady. He was steady. Like his aim.
“I have two requests to make of you, if you will hear them.” My heart was hammering in my chest.
Dinlas looked at me for a long time. “Tell me,” he whispered.
I spoke to his knees. “I would like to gather my family for dinner. Not the pantheon. My children, their partners, pets, whatever. Host it on Eventide. Would you help me?”
“I would love to be a part of that.”
I nodded slowly. “It’s for us. I am pleased you agree to it.” Squeezing his hands tightly, I got to my feet and changed back to my mortal form, a breath away from the lapels of his jacket. My eyes roamed from his chest, over his heart, up his throat and rested on his eyes.
“I…I want you to take me here.”
Dinlas hugged me for a moment, then pulled back and kissed me deeply as he ran his hands up my back and into my hair. “I would take you anywhere.”
My hands pried the jacket off his shoulders, letting it fall to the stars below our feet, drowning myself in the steel and velvet chocolate that was him. He was always waiting for me, I just had to come. I fumbled with the buttons on his shirt as his hands slid down my hips, squeezing me tightly.
“D-Don’t stop for anything,” I breathed, nipping his lips, “okay?”
He didn’t answer, instead he broke apart just long enough to pull my blouse over my head and throw it to the side. “I have no intention of ever stopping,” he breathed into me. Then we kissed again, and it felt like the very first time. He pressed against me forcefully, and his hands tangled in my hair.
I pulled his belt off to join his jacket, shivering at the sound it made, before sliding my hands beneath his shirt and pulling him to me. My nails pushed into his shoulders gently, contouring my body to his as he shimmied my slacks off. I mirrored his movements until we were entwined and naked within the Void.
“Yes?” he replied after some hesitation. Need and desire filled his voice as he looked down at my upturned face.
“I…I love you…” I pressed a hot kiss to his mouth before he could respond and pulled him down with me.