Warren had been ready to leave me behind but yeah sure. Like I’d let him. After a night of hysterics and a pity party of one, Warren had been making calls on the phone, speaking in a language I wasn’t familiar with and speaking in a tone that had me feeling bad for the person on the other end.
By lunch time all Warren had said was he had a source and he’ll go into the city tonight to get what he needed.
“Okay, what time are we going?” He snorted, looking highly amused as leaned over the kitchen island with his arms folded in front of him.
“What makes you think you’re going.” He sipped his coffee and I was on my feet, glaring back as harshly as I could.
“Well, since all of this involves me, I think it’s a little ridiculous to leave me behind.” He rolled his eyes.
“It’s not safe.”
“You’re not going.” I strode towards him during our little back and forth until I stood on the other side of the kitchen island glaring at him as he read the newspaper, sipping his coffee without a care.
“You don’t need to treat me like some doll or princess, as you keep on calling me that, I don’t need to be treated like I need saving.”
He threw me a look that had me cringing inwardly.
“Yes, you’ve saved me a handful of times, I appreciate it but I don’t appreciate being treated like glass.” He pursed his lips, his finger tapping rhythmically on the paper.
“I’m going to make it a habit of saving you it seems. So, no. You’re not going.”
“You can’t make me stay.”
“I can,” He spoke and his voice dropped, a shudder running down my neck and spine. “And I will.”
“I can do this all day until you have to go,” Growling, I leaned in closer. “And I’m going. You’re an idiot for thinking I will just settle here while you do my job for me.” He placed his mug on the counter with a quiet thud and straightened up, resting his palms on the counter as he leaned closer. My breath hitched until his face was inches away from mine, my lips grew dry and my throat grew heavy as I swallowed nervously at the dangerous look in his eyes. I couldn’t help admire the beautiful features of his face and the dark, lock of curls that fell over his eye that made my fingers twitch.
Did Aphrodite have something to do with making him as well or something?
“I-I’ll get that poker, so you know I’m...serious.” His brow raised dangerously as we stared at each other for minutes without moving. My arms ached from leaning against the counter but I couldn’t break yet. His bare arms tensed against the counter, his bare chest tightening as the tension exceeded between both of us.
“I am doing your job for you, Pandora.” My heart quivered at the sound of my name but I forced myself to continue glaring. “No offense, but I am the middle man right now.”
“You’re an asshole. But you’re not going alone. Better to have more than one person along.” I raised my chin defiantly, flicking my hair back over my shoulder. His eyes, the only part of him that moved, followed my hair before dropping to me, roaming over my face and his eyes darkened headily until he leaned in closer, his nose barely brushing against my own.
“This isn’t my first time, Pandora.” He hung my name on the air.
I faltered at the sudden turn, the tension wound up in my body and heavy energy in the air that made it difficult to breathe in, the tension outside my body sent strange flutters down the back of my neck and spine again. I was left unsure of the conversation, the words sparking a different forbidden thought in the back of my mind I hastily pushed away, gulping heavily and his lips twitched, a smug glint in his eyes, backing away, resuming his spot of reading the paper and enjoying his coffee.
“Very well then.” He quirked his lips at me. “Just don’t get yourself killed. I’ll be greatly disappointed if I lose the source of my amusement.”
Coffee burns right?
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” I grumble, backing away tersely, my body still wound up in ways in ways I’ve never experienced. A rush running through my body, a shaky breath left me quietly.
Warren probably was planning on sneaking out. Well, he can bloody try it.
“You gave in quick.” Was the first thing I said when I settled in the car and Warren turned the car on, the car letting out a low rumble then purr and he pulled out of the driveway and down the roads towards the city. Warren didn’t say anything but rolled his eyes in reply.
“Didn’t want to come back later to you chewing my ear off.” I scowled irritably and sat back as comfortably as I could for the long drive. The longer we drove, slowly I started to realize that I had no idea who we were meeting.
“Who is it that we are meeting?” Warren’s face hardened, pursing his lips as he eyed the mirror in front of him.
“Just someone I met a very long time ago, some years after you opened the box.” I stared at him waiting for him to continue but he didn’t seem eager to. I wanted to be ignorant for a bit but I saw the few weapons he had placed inside his jacket and the other one, a gun he called it, he placed in the compartment next to my knees. Whoever they were, they were enough for Warren to be prepared.
Though I got this feeling that for any outing, he was already prepared for the most basic, innocent outing.
“They aren’t the nicest, but I have leverage.” Warren muttered and grimaced at the thought of leverage. “And be aware. They are quiet, sneaky.”
“What kind of leverage?” Warren’s jaw tightened and he sighed heavily, his eyes flicking to me briefly.
I didn’t have anything to say to that, just nodded slowly, leaning back in my seat and settled for the decent drive.
The closer we got to the city, the more I couldn’t help marvelling at the beauty of it. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen, especially at night. I had not seen the city of New York at night with clear eyes or clear attention. I was sitting up further in my seat, unable to tear my eyes away from the view ahead.
Everything was illuminated like tiny little stars and ever-changing colours. There was red, blue, some white or yellow, maybe even a bit of pink and green. It was hard to tell because there was so much to see from afar. I had pretty much forgotten what we were doing in the city, so entranced I was by the views. The closer we got, the busier the roads became. Cars driving alongside or in the other directions. Some cars next to us had loud music playing, windows down and young people singing along to the music. It was lively, joyful, unlike anything I’d seen before.
“It’s certainly a sight.” War spoke up beside me and I looked over at him, smiling widely. “You should see other cities one day, especially at night. I think big cities look much better at night.”
“You would’ve seen a lot.” I sigh, a lick of envy at the things he’s experienced and seen. He nodded, smiling fondly as though he was thinking of something else.
“I have indeed. But New York during Christmas is stunning. Can’t wait to see your expression when you see that.” I turned back to glance out the window, watching cars speed past us, maybe too fast.
War shifted beside me, reaching for the radio which had been turned down fully and raised the volume and when the song was clearer, he grinned.
“This is a good song.” He noticed my bemused expression and he chuckled. “I’m gonna have to educate you on good songs. The Killers have good songs.”
“It’s what the singers call themselves.”
The upbeat, heart-warming song was a stark comparison to the name, but I couldn’t help nod my head to the beat. It seemed to fit, as the tempo increased as we drove into the midst of the city and it was alive all around us. People out and about, on walks with families and loves ones, even through the window and music I could hear music outside, cars beeping around as more cars surrounded us heavily.
“Is it always so busy?”
“During weekends yes. Brings out the younger crowds for parties and dinners. Also, the more exciting time to venture into town of course.”
The further War drove, the darker it got.
There were less lights, if anything they were dim, flashing on and off, giving off an eerie, dangerous feeling. The crowds grew less and less, only few people, mostly homeless, hanging on the streets, some sitting or laid down on the footpaths looking worse for wear.
But he continued to drive and part of me questioned if I should be nervous but I was able to discern my nervous feelings as being in an obviously dangerous and darker part of town. And the further he drove, until we hadn’t seen a person wandering around for minutes, not even homeless people and the lights were far and few between.
“Is this the part where someone kills the unsuspecting other person?” I chuckled nervously and Warren snorted.
“Only if they keep talking.” I roll my eyes but keep an eye out for any movement, as if I was waiting for something to jump out of nowhere. Instinctively I moved my hand to the car lock on the door, making sure it was locked. I saw War shake his head slightly out of the corner of my eye. Eventually War turned the car down a side alley between some buildings where the windows were shuttered with planks of wood and odd, paint designs. War pulled the car to a stop and turned off the engine and lights, throwing us into darkness. A chill swept through me but Warren was staring ahead, as if seeing things, I couldn’t. He probably could.
“So, what happens now?” I asked, if only to fill the tense, chilling silence with some awkward noise. War glanced at me warily and I stared back, unsure of where else to look.
“We wait now.” I nodded shakily, waiting to see if he would say more instead of me continuously talking. “If you want to say something, you can. I don’t mind.” He gave me a weary smile. “I’d rather you talk than stew nervously in case you explode. It’s making me nervous.” I scowled at him while he chuckled, looking out his driver’s window. There wasn’t much to see, with his car in-between the two buildings, there was only enough for some to just squeeze through between.
“I’m not going to explode. Just, that anything could pop out of nowhere and I don’t do well with scary things.” He snorted.
“You’re a part of a world where it’s full of scary monsters and stories that are mostly true. That’s your world now, Pan. It was once upon a time and it is now. The only that’s changed is time. And, well, the place obviously.” Even though he was speaking and I knew what he was saying, I couldn’t help but briefly focus on the nickname he just gave me.
Pan? Pan. I like it.
I smiled faintly, settling back.
“Oh, that reminds me,” War hummed suddenly reaching into his black jacket and pulling out a narrow, slender wooden box. It was simple but lovely, a brown colour with darker painted designs. He handed me the box. “I found it in the church and forgot to mention it but I’ll use it tonight as a... brief bargaining chip.” I stared at him confused before pulling open the lid and my breath hitched. Resting on a simple, plush, black, slender cushion was a stunning pearl necklace. It stood out starkly against the black cloth beneath it and I stared at it, when I felt a strange thrumming against my chest and my fingertips. I placed my finger over it and almost flinched as a strange shock ran through my fingertip but I picked up the necklace partially, running my fingers over the smooth, silky texture-
A beautiful, blue and silver box with golden flakes in swirls and rough carves as though it had been carved by nature itself sat upon the vanity in front of me. The box felt light, airy, almost like touching water...It opened with slight creak...the fresh scent of salty, warm ocean air...a pearl necklace with a pure white hue, resting on a burgundy cushion...no name came with it...I touched it and the hue became a soft and golden-
My breath shook as I snapped the box closed, clutching the box tightly in-between my hands.
“I’ve seen these pearls before.” I murmured, running my finger along the smooth texture of the wooden box. “I just, saw it, in my head, my memories,” Glancing to War, feeling worn down from the sudden onslaught of a memory. “It didn’t have a name from who it came from.”
War didn’t say anything but his eyes darkened slightly and he reached forward slowly to take the box from me. A sudden part of me wanted to lunge forward and snatch it back out of his hands, to take a part of me back, but it was just an object that I wasn’t sure who I wanted to know where it came from.
The other part of me inched to get away, feeling as though those pearls, if they ever got around my neck, would suffocate me and never free. I shivered, unsure if it was from fear or something else completely.
There was a part of me still stuck to it, to them it seemed. Whoever gave me those pearls...it was one of the Olympians.
“I found them amongst other antiques. It has your name carved underneath it. I don’t know why, but I had a feeling that I should probably take it. Guess not, but it can help now.”
“No, it’s okay.” I smiled weakly. “It’s...a part of me I guess, like the box is. Sad how the only parts of me left are just objects, ones a box that can cause problems and my name is basically bad luck and a bunch of pearls that make me feel...stuck.” I shook my head heavily, my head wavering. “It’s all inescapable.” Staring out the window, I had to wonder if maybe I was still that puppet.
Startled, not realizing I’d spoke my thoughts and War was staring at me intensely, his dark eyes glinted like a knife straight at me.
“You’re no puppet. Trust me on that.” His lips tightened and suddenly he took my hand in his, holding it tightly. “Just, have trust in yourself and faith. I doubt the God’s would make you try to skewer the War horseman with a poker.” A snort, followed by a choked laugh escaped and I was giggling softly, shaking my head. He smiled softly, running his thumb over my knuckles. “Yeah, the God’s can’t be that stupid, just so goddamn petty.”
“Amen to that.” I smirked. “And you.” He brows scrunched as he looked at me confused. “You’re happy, right? As you are? I assume everyone thinks of you as that one thing, not as a teacher who cares and is passionate about his students, his teachings and the things he knows.” He stared at me with such an intensity, my heart floundered and my skin heated and flushed. My breath tightened like it had with the pearls but it was different. It was...
“I’m used to it.” He gave me a humourless smile. “It comes with the territory. And even you will get that. But I know better now.” He shook his head. “I got your back, okay.”
The faint flicker of pain and frustration on his face was obvious and I opened my mouth to say something just as he did, his hand rising to my face. His eyes narrowed intensely, his fingertip just barely grazing my jawline.
“Pan, I never noticed-” A bright light made me flinch, my eyes watering slightly from the sudden brightness across from us. War cursed silently and pulled away, staring with harsh, unblinking lights at the bright lights of the large, white van that pulled in through the alley in front of us. “It’s about bloody time.” The lights of the van turned off and glancing at War, I tensed when I saw a terrifying flash of red.
We were thrown into darkness again, the vans light turning off and War sighed deeply but everything about him seemed to differ. His tension was palpable but he looked hardly tense, cooler and calmer, maybe eager.
I thrive on war he had said.
“Warren-” He didn’t reply, just placed the pearl box in his jacket pocket and reached behind him and pulled his hood over his head, mostly obscuring his face and head.
“Don’t leave the car. No matter what.” He turned to him, the pitch blackness of his eyes making me flinch. “I’ll be back.” He opened the door and smoothly stepped out despite the narrow gap, closing the door with a sharp bang and leaving me alone. I took a deep breath, warily watching as War strode casually until he stood in the middle of both cars. The vans doors opened and three people climbed out, I tensed watching as they strode towards him, partially on either side of him. War didn’t seem to mind, looking calm and relaxed as they conversed.
The three figures, their muscles were obvious beneath their clothes, one of them almost towered over War or was his height, his muscles bulging out of his clothes, compared to War who was lean and muscled. It was the largest of the three, stocky and was now towering over War and I wanted to run up and pull him away.
He knows what he’s doing, relax woman. He good.
I continued to chant inwardly, watching the exchange go, biting my nails nervously, foot tapping rapidly on the car floor. War reached into his pocket, despite the three strangers tensing but he only pulled out the box and opened it up for them to see. The three of them glanced at each other, one taking the box to look at the items within and nodding to his partners.
Okay, they seem to like those pearls, don’t do anything stupid-Oh lord, don’t do it! Don’t do that!
A knife appeared in front of Warren’s face and he remained unmoving, still too calm for my liking despite the sharp knife pressed against his neck. I glanced down in the car for anything to serve as a weapon and all I found was a long, thin piece of metal with a curved end. Yanking it out from under the backseat and looking back I tensed, waiting to see if I needed to jump out.
War moved too fast for me to see. But suddenly War yanked the arm away, propelling the person’s body into his partner closest to him who stumbled back from the impact. War, gripped his opponent, twisting their arm around until they dropped the knife on the ground and threw them back against the wall with such strength, there was a heavy thump that had me cringe and they person crumbled, twitching.
That’s got to hurt.
And that was all it took for the other two to move in. The larger one took the first hit, making War stumble and I gripped the handle ready to jump out, gripping the metal stick in my hand. War took a second hit to his chest, catching their ankle and twisting it around I heard the shout of pain as War shoved them back and with a sharp spin, throwing out his foot, kicking them in the shoulder. He caught every flurry of feet, hands thrown at him easily, taking a few without much hesitation. The third opponent he had seemingly downed was back up and had jumped War from behind but War caught on, slightly shifting aside, and ducking downwards, swiping his foot out and kicking their feet from underneath them.
He went down hard and I couldn’t help cheer quietly
War added his own fists and kicks and despite the cringe and slight sympathy I felt at the impact his body seemed to make on his opponents, a chill swept through me.
He was holding back immensely.
I knew enough and had seen it before in glimpses, Warren’s strength could without a doubt render a creature immobilized within seconds. But here, he was holding back, toying with them?
Why hold back? He had to end this before he was worn out. Come on Warren! End it, please!
My foot tapped nervously as I stared imploringly at the destructive, brutal fight before me that I almost missed the flicker of movement beside me. Jumping slightly, I turned my head to see someone crouched beside my door and the wall of the building, staring intensely at the fight, ready to jump in... Jump him.
Be aware. They are quiet, sneaky.
The person had a black hood over their face, their unusually, pale hand with long slender fingers and short but sharp nails resting against the window of my door, unaware of me staring at them, momentarily stunned. My heart thundered as I watched the figure crouch, ready to leap into the action.
Like hell you will!
Pushed on with my blood rushing through me, my heart thundered and the metal rod gripped tightly in my hands despite my sweaty palms, unbuckling my seatbelt frantically, I reached for the door handle and I saw them tense ready to lunge and unlocked the latch. They tensed but using the momentum of my feet and while they were unawares, I kicked the partially open door open, slamming them against the wall of the building, with a loud thwack, keeping them still smashed against the car door.
I heard them snarl but I quickly jumped out of the car as they scurried out awkwardly and I slammed the metal rod against their backside. It snarled an inhuman shriek, turning to me, a pale face revealing a snarling, long and terrifyingly wide mouth and I raised my rod to strike again. Its foot strikes out, the toes of his its boot slamming into my side, throwing me against the car door.
Grunting, my side throbbing badly, I vaguely heard it approach but I swung low this time, hitting flesh with a loud, heavy thwack. It shrieks in fury, grabbing my rod and yanking it back, throwing me forward. I grabbed its coat sleeve, pulling it backwards with me. I stumbled to my knees and saw a knife only a few feet away.
I wasn’t the only one who saw it.
I scrambled forwards, desperately reaching for it and it shrieks behind me. I feel the handle of the blade as it does at the same time and I hit its arm with my elbow, making it pull its arm back. I do the only thing I can think of and swipe my hand against the handle, spinning it away. I roll over onto my back as it claws over me but I grab any part of it I can, holding it back and it screams and growls.
“You stupid bitch!” It slams a fist towards me. My ribs groan in protest but snarling in frustration and anger, I twist my elbow upwards, slamming it against its face which lowered closer to me and something cracked. Yelping in pain and surprise and momentarily distracted, I twisted my body underneath it, locking my ankles around its knees and rolled us over so I was straddling on top of it. It writhed but I frantically threw my closed fist, slamming it against its face.
“Fuck!” I yelped, as a twinge of pain down my arm. It writhed under me, slamming its palm against my chest and the breath knocked out of me allowed it to roll us around so it got back on top. I kicked and moved my legs, trying to get out from under it but it wrestled me down easily and grinning at me, its sharp teeth glaring brightly down at me, it wrapped its hands around my throat.
“That’s what you get you stupid wretch!” It shook me slightly as my neck tightened, no air coming in as I struggled and writhed, clawing at its hands on my neck but it struggled atop of me, trying to hold me down.
Can’t panic! Don’t panic! Think! Think quickly!
Screaming at myself despite the tightness in my head, I reached for anything, grabbing its hoodie with both hands, crossing my hands so I grabbed either side of its hood pulled as tight as I could against its neck. It garbled, snarling and choking ins surprise, one of its hands releasing my throat and despite the sudden relief, I just kept the hold on its shirt, choking them against their own clothes. It shook its head against my hand, trying to get me to loosen, its hand coming back down of my throat and I pulled tighter.
Come on! Come on! LET GO DAMMIT!
I screamed inwardly, black spots staring to pop up in my vision and my hands slowly started to loosen its hold, the panic starting to set it-
A sharp crack and flash of movement above and suddenly air rushed down my throat as I coughed and gasped for air, my head feeling too light headed and swimming badly. Every cough and breath of air in was like cold air parching my ragged and dry throat. Feeling my body light with no weight on me, I rolled over slowly, my body throbbing and aching and saw War grab the fourth attacker by the neck, throwing them against the wall, their head making a sharp cracking sound but they didn’t falter, just slowed slightly, their head swaying as they hissed. I shakily got to my feet, stumbling as I tried to catch my breath and remain steady.
“Are you alright, Pan?” War growled barely glancing at me and I nodded though he couldn’t see.
“I’m fine.” I rasp, rubbing my neck. War didn’t answer, turning to the last person who was hunched on the ground and War reached down, grabbing them their collar roughly and slamming them against the wall.
“Are you done, Aello?” War’s voice was rough, a cold edge slithering within the tones as they struggled against him, lashing out with their nails but faltered as War spoke. “Because I’m not if you continue.” The figure stopped, the hand trembling as it raised its hand, palms out in surrender.
“W-W-War!?” It stuttered and War smirked, yanking back its hoodie revealing the figure underneath and my blood chilled at the very creature before me. It looked neither female or male, but was beautiful enough with marble coloured skin, long thick black lashes, pointed nose and sharp chin. A long, slender neck and a golden waterfall of curls fell down its shoulders. Its lips looked normal if not for the faint creased line from either corner of its lips that ran neatly to the back of its jawline, revealing the horrible realization of how bad their bites were. The eyes though...horrifying yellow, that glowed starkly in the dark, beady hawk eyes...staring at me with such venom. I nervously stepped back, every instinct in me screaming at me to run as I gulped nervously.
The harpy grinned widely at me, obviously enjoying my fear until War shook it by the collar and it crowed in fear.
“Let me go!” It shrieked but War calmly and coolly stared at it like a father would a petulant child. “I didn’t do shit!”
“I certainly hope so. Otherwise, we might have more of those tedious run-ins.” It lowered its gaze to the ground, obviously nervous and timid around War. “It’s been a while Aello, and I’d certainly like to keep it that way.” War released its collar, taking a slight step back but the air around him was enough to make the harpy cower slightly.
“Then why trick us here? And why bother breaking those stupid fools?” She growled and War smirked.
“I needed to lure you here, just this once. I need you to do something for me.” War leaned in close and it flinched nervously back into the wall. “You owe me that.”
“I don’t owe you shit!” Aello snarled and the smirk on War’s face sent a shiver down my spine.
“You do. For not killing you when I should’ve long ago. Or from hunting you down next time for sport.” His words, filled with such cruelty and so blasé made me shudder.
This is not the guy I’ve been acquainted with lately...it’s just a brief part of him...That’s all.
Aello kept its stare on the ground, its shoulders slumping nervously and in defeat.
“What the bloody hell do you want?” Her tone basically told him what he could do instead. War didn’t seem to mind or care, just glared coolly down at it.
“You know Pan, right?” Aello glared up at him, rolling its yellow and black eyes so obviously I was surprised they didn’t fall out.
“Who? The prancing unicorn?” At War’s look, it lowered its gaze, scowling sullenly. “I know everyone and everything, jackass. What about that idiotic faun?”
“We need to know where his next, delightful, very popular party is.” I snapped, tired of the attitude. War tensed but Aello threw me a bored look, looking me up and down and sneered before turning to War dismissing me.
“I couldn’t say, not that it would matter.” It smirked, throwing me a wicked grin at War. “You’d need an invite to get in and since it’s a very exclusive party...” She drifted off, a smug smirk on her face.
“Then I suggest you do something about it.” War snapped making her flinch.
“I could or I couldn’t...” It smirked at him and threw me a wickedly smug grin as they shifted closer to Warren, sliding a hand inside his jacket. “I highly doubt your friend here needs to be here to confer details. My prices are high as you know, War.”
A lick of green fury blasted inside me as I glared at the harpy, wanting to look away or better yet, find that metal rod and smash that stupid hand creeping under his jacket.
“Oh Aello,” War sighed and Aello yelped as War grabbed their wrist out from fondling his back from his jacket, his hand clenched tightly around its wrist. “I think I’ve made my feelings clear about getting into in bed with a snake.” He smirked and shoved her back. She cradled her hand to her chest, glaring up at him and War sneered at them. “I told you before. Do not. Touch. Me.” His voice grew darker and darker with every word and a lick of concern at his tone had me moving closer and I gripped his forearm lightly. He tensed, looking down at me, the dark fury in his eyes making me nervous but they shuttered and he took a deep breath before turning to Aello.
“You can find one. An invitation.” I cut Warren off, ignoring his glare but I persisted. “Get one for us, within reason of course, no harm to anyone.” It scowled at me but War cut in sharply as it tried to tried to snap at me.
“Otherwise, we can always have more of these run-ins, Aello. My time is never-ending. And if you try and run, just remember our history. You didn’t do very well when you decided to run.” His tone was harsh and cruel and Aello glared a hole a hole at his shoes, its fists clenched tightly, the tendons standing out under its skin.
“Fine.” She hissed, avoiding his eyes as she glared past him but sneered at me. “You’ll have to give me some time at least.”
“You have my number.” Without another, War turned and grabbing my forearm he walked me back to the car, opening my door and I slipped in quickly, immediately staring at Aello who stared at us, or more specifically at me. Her expression cool and expressionless as Warren slipped into the driver’s seat and pulled out quickly of the alley and down the darkened roads.
The rest of the drive remained silent except for the music playing in the radio. War seemed neither tense nor relaxed, his eyes dark and I’d like to hope they would be watching the darkened roads in the streets around us.
“Um, Warren?” Was it just my imagination but the car shook a little?
“You here? With me?” He blinked once then several times quickly, a frown marring his face out of confusion. “I mean, obviously there’s some history there between you and Aello and whatever it is, I mean, it must not be good and you obviously don’t have to tell me anything, but we are driving somewhere a little edgy and quite a distance. I don’t know much about driving and cars obviously, but I’m sure I can figure that these areas could be a bit...you know, I don’t want to say dangerous because I don’t think you’d be stupid to put us both in danger - or well, too much danger at least but I don’t fancy you being so distracted and obviously-”
“I’m okay.” I clamped my mouth shut but he glanced at me, brow raised. “Just don’t stop talking.” I blinked stunned, a little surprised but smiled faintly. “I’m just, like you sometimes.” I wanted to ask what he meant but it immediately hit me and I hummed in understanding.
“You see or feel something and it takes you back to another time, another memory.” His grip on the wheel loosened and he sighed deeply.
“Very much. And it’s been a while.” His jaw twitched. “Aello unfortunately has that tendency to make me crave violence.” With a growl, he turned down a street. “I’m hungry.” He grumbled and immediately my stomach answered in reply. “I’ll take that too.” He laughed.
He pulled up to a brightly lit restaurant A large red sign lit up above it, with a large yellow ‘M’. There were a couple cars lined behind the other and War pulled up behind them, slowly following as the cars moved forwards. War rolled down the window at a large black box and suddenly a voice pitched through loudly making me jump.
“Hi there, what can I get for you today?”
“Can I have two cheeseburger meals with large fries and two large cokes. We gonna need it.” He muttered the last bit.
“No problem, move down the line to pay.” War rolled up the window and followed after the others which waited at the windows.
“So, you order food then you pay at a window and then grab it at another window? That’s...interesting.” War smirked.
“I keep forgetting a lot of things would be new to you. You’ll get used to it.” His lips twitched as he struggled with humour. “I don’t suppose you’ve tried the food here? Always good after a long night or feeling a little buzzed - well, adrenaline running through.”
“Is it good?”
“It’s good after a night out of drinking and dancing. Though I wouldn’t recommend eating it all the time, it’s not the healthiest. Well, what isn’t really these days.” After War paid, he drove down to another window and took a large, brown paper bag with a red M on it and handed it to me.
“Ouch.” I grabbed the top of the bag after touching the heated bottom of the bag and he shook his head at me, holding two tall paper cups with a straw in them. He set each drink in the cup holders and drove out of the line-up, pulling the car around to an empty parking lot. Turning the car off, War took the bag from me and pulled some food that he handed to me. Taking the red carboard container with long, yellow strips of food, my stomach grumbled and my mouth watered.
“Chips and burger with coke. Can’t wrong with simplicity.” Warren dove into his own chips, leaning back in his seat and I pulled out a chip, taking a tentative bite of it. I tasted delicious, crispy, salty potato and moaned.
“That’s good,” I threw a couple more in my mouth, humming in relief for my poor stomach. “And a cheeseburger.” I unwrapped the food, like a cooked sandwich with meat and dripping sauce, the smell was absolutely delicious. Taking a bite into the soft, melt-in-your mouth, another moan escaped. I licked my lips, tasting some stains of the tangy sauce left on my lips. “This is really good.” I mumbled around my food, smiling oddly with food in my mouth at Warren. He was staring at with an unfathomable expression, his eyes still black...or more than usual.
Blinking, he shook his head, turning back to his food, muttering quietly.
“Yeah, it’s delicious...I’ll bet.” I tried the coke which was cold, refreshing and sweet and bubbly in ways I never experienced and I giggled at the bubbles and tingly feeling down my throat.
“Thanks for dinner.” I chewed my burger and fries’ bit by bit and Warren hummed quietly in reply.
“You’re welcome.” He placed his half uneaten burger in the paper bag with the empty pack of chips and rubbed his eyes. “I know you want to go back and it’s getting late but I need a short power nap if that’s okay.”
“Yeah, of course. That’s completely fine.” He climbed out of the car only to get into the back of the car and locking it again. He slumped back, resting an arm behind his head as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes. I reached for the volume, turning it down a little, allowing Warren to get some quiet. Glancing at him, I couldn’t but be drawn to the empty space next to him and the leg room.
“I can practically hear the thought in your head.” War muttered and I smiled sheepishly. He smiled faintly, gesturing to the backseat. “There’s plenty of room, just be quiet and sleep.” I didn’t need to be told any further and hopped out of the car and climbed into the back. Warren locked the car again and placed the keys behind his headrest and closed his eyes, turning away slightly as I lay my arm against the window and laid my head on it, exhaustion pulling me already.
Daphne said coming back from the dead was like waking up from a few hours long nap that made you more tired and sluggish. I wouldn’t say I was sluggish, just tired easily, though I was remaining more and more awake at least.
Sighing heavily, I closed my eyes and let sleep pull me in.
“My future, my love, my wife.”
The words were beautiful and any woman would swoon happily and feel such love and joy. I loved the words and yet...they filled me with a discomfort, a slither of disgust.
I don’t love you, I’m sorry.
“My future, my love, my husband.” The words were pulled from my mouth, a smile pulled forcefully against my lips, giving the impression of a smiling, happy newly-wedded woman standing before her husband.
Inwardly, I screamed. It showed as my hands shook in Epimetheus’s but he only smiled wider, making his beautiful godly face brighten the room even further and he gripped my hands tighter, believing my shakes for excitement and joy.
Oh, how I wished I was full of joy and happiness. Not forced. Why do I feel like this?
“You may kiss your wife, my lord.” Epimetheus smile softened, my nerves showing now but he gently took my hand in his and his other hand rested like a brush of spring leaves against my cheek as he drew closer. My first kiss, from my husband was soft like my head falling against a silky pillow and sweet but left a strange bitterness in my chest.
Turning as if someone was pulling my shoulders around and I could only watch as if I was a doll, I faced the large crowd that stood before me and my husband. My mother the closest to me, her eyes wet with tears and pure joy in her face. I wanted to cry to her that that something felt wrong and I didn’t want this, knowing she’d take me away but my smile felt too real, too genuine and incapable of being wiped away.
Hundreds of faces stared at us, applauding. The majority who had arrived acquaintances of Epimetheus and Prometheus; the Titan twins, responsible for so much good and enjoyable things and Epimetheus’s well-known parties he often held.
Moving through the crowd, flowers floating around us, a few strange odd inhuman faces staring at me intensely. Epimetheus took my arm down the aisle, guiding me through the crowd of smiling accepting faces.
“He is a very lucky man.”
“She’ll make a fitting wife for him.”
“He should be proud.”
I heard all these words and I just wanted it to stop. I don’t know why but it needed to stop, please.
I suddenly found myself seated at a large table, a huge assortment of fruits on golden plates and a heady wine in a golden cup, watching our guests come to us one by one laying their gifts down in the corner and greeting us. My mind was in a flurry, not really paying attention as my husband took charge of all the greetings, as most were many of friends and acquaintances from around all-around Greece and beyond. It’s one of the things I did genuinely enjoy in his company; his stories, his wild adventures amongst other people and other creatures.
The last guest to present to us, was a woman who approached, followed by no one and with no one, and stood out unlike anyone else. Many eyes followed her, she paid no heed, hiking her gown up as she stepped up the steps to me and my husband, her dress moving like melted gold, red and orange flickering at the hem like golden fire. Her skin was much like softened, polished bronze with gold flakes or paint on her skin shimmering in the light, was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The woman’s face hidden by a gold and bronze mask with long, red feathers, tipped in gold, that covered the top of her face, her eyes a dark, ember behind the mask. Her hair seemed to change colours; bronze with fire and gold within.
She was a true beauty.
She curtsied gracefully before us, her eyes falling on me briefly and her lips curled in a secretive smile, her eyes gentle and soft.
“I wish you well, Pandora.” She touched my hand briefly, leaving a heated imprint on my skin that faded seconds later and I watched her leave, confused at her parting words. “I do hope you remember me one day.” I watched her disappear into the crowd, her dress moving like a river of gold behind her.
“Pandora, is everything okay?” Epimetheus touched my hand softly and I nodded, distractedly.
“Yes,” I turned to him, smiling faintly. “Everything is...well...” I faltered, staring at where my golden faced husband was. But he wasn’t there. His skin was darker, warm, real. His eyes a beautiful, warm autumn. His dark hair curled and messy, a curl or two falling over his right eye, a charming appearance that made my skin prickle with heat and my heart quiver as he stared down at me. “W-Warren? What are you-”
“I’m here for you, Pandora.” His hand took my mine, fingers entwining in mine, kissing my knuckles hard. His kiss was hard, rough and oh so more real. “Your choices lie before you, Pan.”
“What? What do you mean?” I looked around, wondering where everyone was but there was nothing except an empty hall, flowers and sunlight everywhere...and I felt different. I touched my throat, feeling a bead of pearls, tightly clasped around my throat and a brief panic set in.
“You have to breathe Pan.” War laid his hand gently against the side of my neck, not touching the pearls, his thumb stroking my suddenly quivering flesh beneath my pulse. “Breathe Pan, and everything is in your control.” War whispered in my ear, his voice husky and rough, sending a shiver down my spine. “You can save all, if you just breathe.” I looked at him, my eyes taking him in all his beautiful glory, a voice distantly questioned on the whereabouts of certain golden titan but my attention was pulled in by the dark figure standing over me, his arm around my waist, his face a mere inch from and I let out a breath as though I hadn’t for years.
“I’m here to help, Pan.” War whispered, his lips brushed against my jaw and I turned my head towards him-
Something scratched against my eyelid, making me flinch and grumble as I pulled away slightly from whatever it was, but the heat around me made my body beg to collapse back into it.
Where was I?
Frowning, I rubbed my bleary eyes, grimacing I looked around and saw myself in the backseat of a car.
Right. I fell asleep in the backseat of the car. What was I...Oh.
I realized I was leaning against something solid but soft and so warm and having been the most comfortable I’ve ever been. A black jacket, the zipper eyelevel to where I had laid my head the culprit for waking me up. A zipper that was on Warren’s chest which slowly rose and fell as he breathed slowly.
I realized my position, which was me half laid on him, my head leaning against his shoulders and the other half of me laid on the rest of the back seat. I tilted my head, looking up at the face which was tilted against the headrest, his face relaxed and no tension marring that beautiful face.
Epimetheus, he was beautiful but Warren...
His lips twitched as he sighed in his sleep, my eyes drawn to those firm, full lips. Lips that cuts a sharp insult or cruel words or soft, but harsh words to provide comfort and a push. That bloody dark curl had fallen over his left eye and my arm was moving up without my permission but it was all me, wanting to. Desiring this. I gently ran my finger through his fallen locks, pushing it back softly so as not to wake, feeling the soft, mass of curls that tangled around my fingers-
He shifted, his eyelids twitching and I suddenly felt a hand - his hand - run up my spine and before I could pull my hand away, his eyes blinked open, glazed, confused but he raised his hand to my hand which was frozen still in the midst of pushing his hair back. He took my hand in his gently, glancing confused at my hand before dropping to where I was still up against his chest unblinking.
My breathing grew faintly ragged, hitched heavily as he held my wrist to his face, his thumb rubbing wrist bone softly, pleasurable tingles running down my arm, my hair standing on end. It was barely breathable in the car; I was suffocating but I couldn’t find any rise of panic within me. The heat was becoming uncomfortable but I couldn’t bring myself to move away. I didn’t want to. I opened my mouth to say something and he lowered his face, tilting his chin downwards. His hand on the back of my shoulders moved upwards, sliding under my hair. A ragged sigh escaped between my suddenly chapped lips and I flushed heavily but he didn’t react except his eyes, which turned completely black. His hand rested on the back of my neck, moving my hair over my shoulder and his eyes dropped to my neck, gently tracing the sensitive bruises left on my neck from Aello.
“You’re hurt.” His voice was ragged, husky. It wasn’t just me feeling this right.
“I-I’m okay, I, gave it back good to her...” I breathed. I felt his finger brush my neck and though it ached slightly, his finger brushing against my fluttering pulse had my heart leaping into a frantic rhythm inside my chest, my eyes fluttered closed at the touch.
“Pan,” He rasped, lowering my hand he continued to hold. “You’re eyes.” I opened my eyes slowly and met his own which swallowed me in, I thought for a second, I could see myself in their depths. He squeezed his eyes shut, almost painfully, a shaky sigh escaping him. “They’re...I saw them...” He blinked, his lips parting, his eyes leaving a fire much like his hand on the back of my neck and skin thrummed and I needed to breathe.
I thrive on this now.
Pulling my hand from his, I reached to the back of his neck and pulling his face down to mine until there was no space left so the fire grew.