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Chapter 18 - Questions unanswered

"Hm?" She tilted her head, her eyes soon following his gaze. "Oh..." her voice involuntarily quivered as she let out a short breath.

Blackening veins slightly protruded from beneath her skin, each one drawn perfectly in soft curved lines from the very tips of her fingers, all the way down to her wrists. The rest of her arms seemed normal. But her hands; they grew paler, giving her veins a further exaggerated appearance.

"What is that?" Jayden asked, his tone hoarse.

"Probably nothing." She turned away from him and marched towards a small fridge by a corner. She opened the door and picked up a water bottle, making her way to him once more. As he took the bottle from her outstretched hand, he couldn't help but stare. And she was fully conscious of it.

She pulled down the thin sleeves to her dress.

"Thank you," he muttered, setting the bottle down beside him after having taken a sip. He looked at her. "You're not that good at pretending, you know?"

"Pretending? I don't pretend." She sneered, mocking his words.

He scoffed, shrugging. "Whatever you say." After a short pause, Jayden furrowed his eyebrows. "... What you did to Brooke..."

Aqua's eyes widened for a moment. She tried her best to mask her expression like she always did but she was baffled. She thought he forgot. She tried making him forget along with healing him but something clearly tampered her magic. And she was sure it had everything to do with Igujin. Taking her immortality wasn't enough it seemed.

"When you woke up... did you remember everything right away?" she asked.

"No, it just crossed my mind."

Looking at him, he appeared to be more puzzled than ever. As if he knew but didn't exactly know.

"Jayden, what do you remember?"

"She tried to drown herself. I remember that you saved her."

"Saved her?" What he said, she couldn't deny the fact that it offended her. Saving Brooke is the last thing she would have ever done. But could she really say the same knowing Brooke was never Ruth in the first place? After she misjudged who Brooke truly was only due to her possession of the necklace? Aqua cleared her throat and pushed her shoulders back. "Yes. Yes, I did."

"I know. Thank you for that. I wouldn't know what to do if she wasn't okay." His radiant smile had guilt eat away at her. "Speaking of which, she's okay, isn't she?"

"Uh, yeah. She's in the hospital but her state is stable." She avoided his gaze and glanced around his room. "Do you live here? At the hotel?"

He hummed in response. "I grew up here. I was never able to leave Athens so the hotel and café were my only home."

"I took you to Aesilas though."

"That creepy town? Yeah, that was a first. But I was too shocked about one thing to be occupied by it."

"Wait but how were you never able to leave Athens?"

"I have no clue. My dad just always says that we're tied to the hotel. And by that, I guess he means that he can't ever leave it behind." He sighed, pulling his leg up to his chest.

The silence fell over them, heavy upon their shoulders, a murky veil to all their questions. Aqua was in despair, in need to piece together the vague theories unfurling in her mind. And Jayden was no different. Many doubts shaded his thoughts, and a state of confusion was a newly persistent friend. One that only ever emerged in his life the moment Aqua did.

To say he understood anything would be a blatant lie. Because Jayden, to this day, still thinks there's a high possibility that all those weird happenings are not but a dream. He had very little knowledge and so many questions, to which he never seems to get an answer. Playing it all over in his head, a tape on loop for what seemed like hours never ending, he was left with a piled up mess of additional questions that weren't present until he dug deeper. And one of the many things he specifically couldn't understand, nor come up with a reasonable explanation for, was why Igujin reaped his soul to one of Aqua's memories in the first place.

"Who even is Igujin?" Too lost in his thoughts, his words easily left his mouth, and Aqua turned her head in his direction.

She contemplated whether or not she should reply for a split second before she acted on her instinct. And her instinct told her to let him in on the things he wanted to know. "Igujin was a powerful God. She controlled the moon and its light, the water and its waves, and the most important of all, the Grand Bridges."

"There is one thing that I got out of what you just said and that was the past tense."

Aqua scoffed, this guy. "She gave it all up. Her reason... I guess she's the only who knows. She's still a God but her powers are limited. But let me get this straight, you don't know what the Bridges are?"

"In my defense, I'm human."

"Sounds like an insult more than anything." She rolled her eyes. All words, Aqua, all words. You're one yourself. She let out a sharp breath. "I can't exactly explain what they are without you having an image of what they're like so... come with me?"

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