Nauja’s car broke down recently so she stood outside her job waiting on her Uber who was supposed to be there right when she got off. She wasn’t mad but she was eager to get home. She and Aitu had a phone call planned to sort out when their second date would be. She could call him now but she knew if she called him the Uber would suddenly appear. “come on, please” she whispered into the air. He was almost too good to be true. Handsome, sweet and their date had been perfect. It had been like he’d already known her before hand. When they met they exchanged numbers and had talked for months before the first date but still. He had planned such a perfect evening for them and had almost predicted anything she was thinking or wanting. He seemed to know things about her she couldn’t remember telling him.
She had never been so captivated with a man and she didn’t want him to think she was getting cold feet about a second date. Suddenly someone painfully grabbed her arm. She jerked and he pulled her into him, grabbing her hair and saying angrily “you shouldn’t exist” She started panicking in her mind, some psychopath had stumbled upon her. She kneed him in the groin, it was the only thing she could think to do and just then to her relief the security guard where she worked came rushing out with his gun “Let her go sir or I’ll shoot”
The man still had a handful of hair, seeming unphased by the fact she had kneed him. He stared back at the guard “Let her go” he repeated. She wasn’t sure he had ever fired a gun before but he was a really good guy and she imagined even if he had expeirence he didn’t want to have to shoot someone today. He let her go and said “go home and kill yourself before you fuck everything up. You were not meant to be born” His words unsettled her to her core “sir I think you need help” she tried to sound normal and failed.
“what this world needs is for soft hearted idiots to quit messing with things. I can see it, the world itself rejects you. Someone decided to change something in the past and you are a direct result” She wanted to run away but the guard gave her relief again when he handcuffed the man who still wouldn’t break eye contact with her. Her Uber finally showed up but she couldn’t move. It was like he was still holding her. “do you want to wait for the cops Nauja?” The guard asked “I…I just want to go home. You can give them my number though”
“Kill yourself, that way you have some say because I’m coming to fix things if you don’t”
“Thats enough” the guard said sternly to the crazed stranger. The uber driver got out of the car “is everything alright?” She nodded and got in so the driver sat back down in the drivers seat to take her home.
“Are you going to be alright miss?” The Uber driver asked when he finally dropped her off.
“Yes, thank you.”
“I’ll sit here until you get inside, just in case.”
She nodded, grateful to the stranger for being so kind. She turned and waved at him once she unlocked her door and he waved then pulled away once she stepped in. She locked her door, then headed to her room, calling Aitu. “How was work, beautiful?” He asked when he answered, causing her heart to dance.
“It was good, same as always, well for the most part.” She put him on speaker phone so she could change out of her work clothes.
“What do you mean? Did something happen?”
She sighed. “Not during, but after. Some guy threaten and attacked me, pretty much.”
“Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”
“I’m fine, a little freaked out, the security guard stopped him, he was crazy.”
“Do you want me to come over?”
That did sound good. She still felt unsettled and she knew hanging out with Aitu could fix that. “You’re not busy?”
“I’m not busy at all. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Thank you so much. God, I hate to be so needy”
“You’re not being needy at all. Some creep upset you and I offered to come over. I really like you Nauja and I want to come” she blushed and thanked him again before hanging up. Nauja was going to put on pajamas but now that Aitu was coming over she wanted to be cute so she found her favorite jeans and grabbed one of her Tee Turtle shirts and tugged it on. They were funny and they had the perfect cut. She always felt cute in them. Next Nauja applied some make up and fixed her hair from the altercation. Naujas arm was sore from where that mad had grabbed her but she didn’t plan to mention it.
This was a man she had been on one date with and she didn’t want him thinking she was some whiney princess. She took some ibuprofen for the pain and decided to look online for a gift. The security guard had only been doing his job but she couldn’t feel more appreciation for him. That terrible man could of dragged her off somewhere or worse, killed her right there in front of the building if he hadn’t stepped in.
That took bravery and she knew him well enough to get him something he’d like. Nauja still hadn’t settled on something when she heard Aitu knock on her door so she just left the tabs open and walked to the living room to let him in. She was surprised to see he came bearing cheesesticks and a green apple slushie with nerds in it from Sonic “what’s all this?”
This was continueing from their last date. It was truly like he knew everything about her already “I just thought you might need something comforting”
“How did you know to get those things? That’s my favorite slushie and…I normally get those things when I need comfort”
“You’ve told me that before…I mean…we talk a lot” she guessed that had to be true. She just couldn’t remember bringing up comfort foods. “sorry, I guess I’m a little shaken up” Nauja moved so he could come in. He set the slushie and cheesesticks on the table then hugged her. Her first thought was how incredible he smelled. He had this amazing natural scent that she couldn’t get enough of so she just relaxed into the hug.
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
He pulled back to look at her, his eyes searching hers for a moment. “If you need me to, I can start picking you up after work.”
“You don’t have to do that, I’ll be alright.”
“Well, if you change your mind, let me know, I don’t want you getting hurt.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead and she flushed.
“I will, thank you.”
“I’m just glad nothing really bad happened.”
“Yeah, he kept telling me to kill myself, it was freaky.”
He let her go and they both grabbed what he had brought and went into the living room. “Strange, what else did he say?”
“That I shouldn’t exist, just weird stuff like that.”
They sat down on her couch, concern only growing more apparent on Aitus face. “wow, so that sounds like a story you need to tell me from beginning to end…please” Nauja took a long sip of her drink then began her story, trying not to leave out a single detail of what happened. While Nauja could pass this off as some crazy Aitu knew better. He had heard of a god who had spent a large portion of his life tracking down and murdering beings that wouldn’t have been born if there weren’t sets of people who occasionally messed with time.
He had thought it was just a story, just another rumor to keep the gods with something to talk about but it was actually happening and that meant Nauja was in real trouble. This raised so many questions for him. There had been no indication when he had been living here as a cat that Nauja knew anything of magic, demons, gods or anything like that but something magical had intervened in her blood line so that she could exist. “Nauja” he asked cautiously “yeah?”
“has anybody in your family ever had a near death experience or just suddenly recovered from some sort of major ailment or anything like that?” It was a place to start. She paused a moment before recalling “I mean my dad almost died as a child. His mother used to torture him, make him consume things not meant to consume. I’m sure if our family friend Milena hadn’t let the authorities know when they were children he would of died…maybe crazy knew about that somehow? What’re you getting at?”
Aitu didn’t know what to say but he was scared for her, he needed to protect her and that meant coming clean much sooner than he had wanted to. He felt the fact he was a god was more like sixth or seventh date conversation. “Aitu?”
“I have to talk to you about something and I’m worried I’ll scare you off”
“Just tell me whatever you need to/ My nerves can’t take much more”
“You know that stray cat you’ve been so worried about?”
“Oh my god” Her eyes grew damp with tears, she just knew Aitu was going to add this terrible afternoon that he had found the cat dead. “The cats fine” He quickly added, seeing she was about to ball. “then what about him?”
“I…I was that cat Nauja and I’ll show you but please promise me you’ll let me continue to explain myself. You’re in real danger and I need you to let me protect you”
“Oh Aitu” now she was crying. Her cat was missing, some crazy had jerked her around after work today and now she found Mr Perfects flaw, he was crazy too. Aitu shifted and she wasn’t sure why but she screamed. Her heart was thudding, what sort of nightmare was this. “Oh my god” he shifted back, quickly tugging his clothes on “Nauja”
He tried to approach her and she pushed him away “Just, I can’t…oh my god”
“Please don’t panic”
“How did you do that?”
“can I do something to help calm you first? You’re worrying me”
“explaining more will help calm me.”
“Okay, I um, I’m a god, a descendant of Maahes the solar war god to be precise. Our family has always been able to turn into cats and lions. I…I wasn’t trying to do anything sneaky when I was living here. After about two hundred I just preferred to live my life as a cat. It was fun and” she stopped him “two hundred what?”
A little more embarrassed he said “after I was older than two hundred” he knew age mattered to humans and he had hoped he would have to tell her how old he was much later than date six or seven “How old are you?” she asked and he would answer “about a millennium and a half old” She looked like she might pass out. “Nauja…I… when you approached me on your walk I was just happy to join a new home. Part of why I liked living as a cat was because I enjoyed being in other peoples lives, truly seeing them for who they were because people don’t worry about any sort of facade when they are around pets”
“Thats how you know so much about me…this is all real” she choked on the words and he went to try and hug her again, relieved when she let him “Nauja I fell in love with you and I know its not fair to say that right now when you’re obviously overwhelmed but I need you to let me stay here and protect you. That being you saw today means what he said. I’ve heard about him”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s like me, but he kills people like you who should have never been. You were born because someone tampered with time.”
She pulled back. “Daddy.”
“Oh god, is he in danger? Will that man hurt him?”
“There is a chance he might. If he was supposed to die then…”
“I need to call him.”
“Nauja, listen to me. I will protect you and your family, but I need to speak to whoever did this. You said your father’s friend saved him, is there anyway I can speak to her and ask her about it?”
“Yeah, but…this is all so crazy, Aitu, it feels like I’m losing my mind.”
“I promise you’re not and I swear I will make it up to you, but please just trust me.”
She nodded as she pulled out her cellphone to call Milena. She answered on the third ring “hey Nauja, what’s up?”
“Are you busy?”
“Not really, just hanging out at the house with Thomas. You sound upset”
“I am and we need to talk in person. My car is still in the shop but this guy I’ve started seeing is here and would probably bring me over if you want me to come there”
“Oh sweetheart we will come to you. My home is a wreck right now anyway. We need to get dressed and everything but we will try not to take long”
“No rush, I’m going to try to get my dad over here too. We may as well all talk at once”
“well let me know what he says so I know when to come”
“alright, thank you”
“You’re like family to me Nauja” Her parents were already out and not far so she quickly called Milena back so she’d know they could all meet and talk this out tonight. For the first time Nauja felt awkward with Aitu. They just sat there in silence a few moments before he spoke gently “I’m glad you’re getting them here now. The sooner they know whats happening and I’m filled in about your dads past the better”
“I was really worried you know…about cat you…you knew that”
“I tried to be comforting…really I did. I was going to tell you. I just wanted us to have a few dates first” she nodded “Yeah…I mean, I guess I get it but it still kinda hurts. I…I feel a little invaded you lived here with me. I was living with a man…well a god and I didn’t know”
“You don’t mean that”
“why would you think I don’t mean that”
“sorry means you wouldn’t do it again and you’ve done it many times with people”
“Nauja, if I would of known I’d fall in love I would of come to you as a man first off. I just thought living with you would be another adventure” She was silent a few moments before saying “Okay…I guess I’m not upset about you living with me…you’ve used it to be incredibly sweet” he wanted to tell her he loved her again but he felt like he was on thin ice. Not only that but this was a lot for a human girl in a world like this, he knew that and would be patient with her. He understood all these feelings and was just glad she was willing to talk this all out. She was silent for a long stretch of time again. By the time he began to urge her to speak her parents were at the door.
Sadness tugged at his heart but he remained calm and collected. He hated this, it wasn’t fair. He wished he could have broken this all to her in a much better way. Any way would of been better. Naujas parents hugged her “Baby whats wrong?”
“can we wait on Milena and Thomas?”
“Okay” They sat there a little awkwardly but it didn’t take Milena and Thomas much longer to arrive. Now, with everyone present she explained what happened today then looked at Milena “How did you save my dad? It was you wasn’t it? His mom was meant to kill him” Thomas took her hand, giving her a look that urged Milena to tell them what she had told him years ago. “Yes…I was a depressed, miserable person and a being gave me the chance to do my life over…I took it and one of the things I did better the first time was alerting the authorities about Elwyn…when I lived my life the first time he died so yeah…you wouldn’t be alive if I hadn’t meddled because your father wouldn’t”
Elwyn sat there, a myriad of expressions chasing across his face; confusion, shock, disbelief, and gratefulness. “I don’t understand.” He finally said. “I…”
“If you wish, I can prove to you that she’s not lying.” Aitu said. He glanced at Nauja who nodded. “I apologize if it scares any of you.” He shifted back to the cat and both of Nauja’s parents jumped in surprise.
“He…he just…” Elwyn managed.
“I know daddy, but it’s real, he’s real.” Nauja said and Aitu shifted back, quickly pulling his clothes on.
“I’m also sorry for flashing you.” He sat back down next to Nauja.
“I don’t understand, why would that man care?” Milena asked. “I didn’t hurt anyone, I saved his life,what’s so wrong with that?”
“He believes that fate and nature should be allowed to take its course and by going back and changing certain events, you are breaking the laws that bind the universe, but if something had truly been changed for the worst, then there would be others coming to change it back, mainly Death.”
“Death?” Nauja’s mother said.
“Death is a person?” Nauja asked.
“Your father would have been met by him in the past when he died. If the Reaper had had a problem with him being saved then he would have stopped Milena.”
“How can someone want to punish Milena’s choice?” Elwyn asked. “If she…if she hadn’t been there, I…I wouldn’t have any of this, I wouldn’t be happy, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I wont let anything happen to any of you. I’m going to end this because I wont have him coming after Nauja or breaking her heart because she lost one of you”
“are you wanting us to stay here with you two then?” Elwyn asked and Aitu said “it would be easier for me to protect you all that way. Can we all stay here Nauja?” He asked and she answered “Yeah, of course” Nauja’s mother got up “I can make everyone some tea or hot chocolate” Everyone seemed in for it except Nauja who said ” Aitu brought me this slushie so I’m good mom” She smiled “that was sweet of him. We’re all apparently lucky you two met” She blushed and her mother walked out of the room and into her daughters kitchen.
Aitu wanted to talk to Nauja more about how she was feeling and where they stood at this time but it would be incredibly awkward around her family and they did need to stick close. Nauja was the only one on this gods radar for now but still, he had to be sure they were safe. Soon Milena, Thomas, her dad and siblings were all asking Aitu questions. He didn’t mind and he hoped the more Nauja knew the more comfortable she’d be with him.
“will he really just come attack her?”
“Yeah, I mean, he’s used to getting away with it in worlds like this because a human would’t stand a chance of defending themselves and people get murdered all the time. I can’t imagine he’d worry about humans discovering we exist either when he finds me here. I don’t care either, maybe it’s time for this world to realize there’s more than humans and animals.”
“This is all my fault.” Milena said and Thomas hugged her.
“Baby, you can’t blame yourself.” Thomas replied.
“But it is. If I had just been happy, if I had just saved Elwyn the first time, none of you would be in danger.”
Elwyn got up and moved over to her, giving her her a hug. “Don’t say that Milena, danger or not, I am so glad you went back, you gave me everything.”
“He’s right, Milena, without you I would have never met him.” Elwyn’s wife, Seona added. “I wouldn’t have such an amazing family, I wouldn’t have my beautiful children, or know you and Thomas.”
“You saved me too.” Thomas said. “And you gave us another chance. So please don’t blame yourself.”
“And I wouldn’t have met Nauja.” Aitu said. “The person coming after her is an idiot. You’ve given so much happiness to so many people because of what you did. He doesn’t have a right to take that away.”
A loud knock at the door set everyone on edge. Aitu rose, walking over to answer, ready to bash the other gods face in if he was on the other side of the door though he knew that wasn’t likely. He doubted this murderous god would take the time to knock on the door when he came. Aitu opened the door to the police who introduced themselves then asked “can we speak to Ms Stauffer? We have the right address correct?” Aitu moved as Nauja approached “Please come in” she said weakly. “good you have family here. We’re sorry to inform you your assailant escaped. It would be wise that you aren’t alone while we track him down. As we understand it he threatened to kill you if you wouldn’t kill yourself?”
“we’re so sorry mam, we can have an officer stay if you need it”
“I have my family, it’s okay”
“alright” they then began to tell her the full story they had “are we missing anything?”
“No, that sounds right” They apologized again before leaving them alone. Nauja had to grit her teeth not to let her lips tremble with the want to cry. Her mother of course couldn’t be fooled by her attempt to be strong. Seona walked over to her daughter and embraced her “it’s going to be okay, we have Aitu” Nauja held to her mother like her life depended on it.
“Can you tell us more about you Aitu? I mean about your family and all that” Naujas younger brother Belen asked. He half wanted to fill the awkward, tense silence but the other half was enamored they were in the presence of a god. “sure, I am descended from the god Maahes. You’d know him from Egyptian mythology Most refer to him as the god of massacre among other not so comforting names.” awkwardly he added “this is actually part of why I wanted to wait awhile to tell Nauja what I was. I’m not exactly descended from the god of comfort, warmth and rainbows. I…I didn’t want to scare her”
“it seems you’re exactly what she needed I mean, if she…if we werent meant to exist why would the universe send us you” Aitu gave a small smile “good point…I’d like you to know though my family is actually good. The more pleasant names he has are “Avenger of Wrongs” and “Helper of the Wise Ones” my family tends to be put in situations like this honestly…we are wrathful when it calls for it but…” Elwyn felt bad for him. He noticed every sad, worried glance he’d shift toward his daughter. Aitu obviously really did love Nauja and Elwyn hoped things would end up okay between them.
Milena and Seona decided to make something easy for everyone to eat while they all learned more about what it was like for Aitu to be a god. They all ate together in the living room, Nauja putting a movie on to help get their minds off of what was happening for a little while. Nauja helped them clean up, while everyone else started getting ready for bed, her mind still whirling with all the information she had been given. “Are you alright, sweetie?” Her mother asked.
“Yeah…” she sighed, “okay, not really. I just feel so…so confused and lied to. Aitu…he…”
“You have to know he wasn’t trying to hurt you.” Milena said.
“I know, I just don’t know how to feel. He lived here, he heard all of my secrets and he knows more about me than anyone. I just don’t know how to act. I still…but it’s just so awkward now.”
Her mom smiled. “You love him don’t you?”
Nauja blushed. “Yeah.”
“Then you’ll get through it. Sure, it’s a bit crazy, but he is trying and he looks so sad. I think he thinks he’s completely ruined things between you two. I think you should give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Nauja nodded “I guess I should talk to him…um…is everybody else settled on where they are sleeping?”
“Yeah, we’re all good” Her mom gave a knowing smile causing Nauja to blush and hurriedly walk away. Aitu was helping get down more blankets from her laundry room when she approached him “Hey, um…do you want to talk to me for a moment?”
“Yes” he gave her siblings the blankets and they in turn left them alone in her laundry room. “what do you want to talk about?” Her mom was right, he looked so worried. “things feel a bit awkward for now but we’re okay…I still…well…I love you too Aitu and if you want you can sleep in my room tonight…I mean…really sleep, like beside eachother” she wanted to face palm. Nauja felt like she sounded stupid. “I’m so glad to hear that Nauja. I’d love to sleep in your bedroom. I want to go on so many more dates with you…I dont know if you noticed from the first date but I want to experience everything you love doing. When I decided to come to you as a man I made a list of all the dates we need to go on…it’s all the places you spoke most fondly of or talked about wanting to go sometime…I want…I just want to be with you always Nauja and you don’t have to be afraid tonight because I’d die before I let anything hurt you”
Nauja hugged him and Aitu kissed her head, holding her until she broke from the hug “lets try to get some rest. My mom says everyone else is fine” Aitu smiled, feeling a huge weight lift off his shoulders. They were still in danger but at least he knew she loved him too. Nauja couldn’t look at her family out of embarrassment as she walked Aitu to her room but they all bid her goodnight and she said it back.
Once inside she shut the door and grabbed a set of pajamas “I’m going to change quickly. You can borrow those mens pajamas I just bought from hot topic”
“I can change in here while you change unless you want me to wait for the bathroom”
“You can change in here. I’ll knock before coming out”
Nauja changed as quickly as she could and took a deep breath before knocking to let him know she was changed. He called for her to come out and her heart danced in her chest when she saw him sitting on her bed. He held out his hand to her and she crossed over to him, letting him pull her into bed. “It’s okay to hold you right?” He asked and she nodded so he slipped his arms around her, holding her close. “I love you, Nauja.”
“I love you too.”
“Try to sleep, okay, nothing can get any of you.”
“Do you think the man who helped Milena knows what’s going on?”
“Then why doesn’t he do anything?”
“Maybe he wants to see how it plays out. Sometimes beings like that are just curious about what might happen. Sometimes it’s like some sort of divine test and sometimes they just want to be amused. Maybe I’ll have a talk with him after all this.”
“Thank you for being here.”
“Thank you for letting me stay.”
“You’ve been so wonderful, as my pet briefly and since I’ve known you as a man…all our conversations…that date…I’ve never been so happy” He kissed her forehead “all I want to do is make you happy.”
“You’ve been you though right? Not just what you think I want?”
“Yes, every moment I’ve been me besides wanting to wait to tell you about the whole god thing. I just used my knowledge of you to make our date perfect and as talking points. I truly am into a lot of your interests too.”
“Okay, I just had to ask”
“ask me anything. I’m now a completely open book. I swear I’ll be honest”
“I’m not worried about that”
“good” It was hard for Nauja to go to sleep but she eventually managed it. Aitu on the other hand didn’t need as much rest being a god so he wasn’t planning on sleeping. He wasn’t sure how long this being would give Nauja to off herself. For all he knew he was coming tonight and he didn’t want the being to take him by surprise. He wanted to be ready to protect Nauja and her family.
The footfalls were so soft that only Aitu could have heard them. He became completely still, waiting and he heard the whisper of movement again. “Nauja.” He whispered, gently shaking her. “Nauja wake up.”
She jerked awake, looking worried. “What? Is he…”
He pressed a finger against her lips. “It’s alright, just stay here and don’t come out no matter what you here.”
“Please be careful.”
Aitu gave her a quick kiss then slipped out of bed and crossed the room, gently opening the bedroom door. He didn’t hear anything in the hallway so he pulled of his pants and shifted, taking on the form of a lion instead of the house cat. He heard Nauja gasp, but didn’t have time to reassure her so he slipped out into the dark hallway, staying low and moving slow.
Nauja resisted the urge to go and warn her family that someone could be in the house, forcing herself to stay on the bed instead. She knew if she made to much noise, she might give away Aitu’s position, so instead she crept over to her closet, pulled it open and found her baseball bat tucked away in the back corner. She knew it probably wouldn’t matter to a god, but she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
She gripped the bat hard as she thought of her lion. He looked incredible and even in this fearful moment she couldn’t help but think about how incredible it would be to hug a lion, to just be able to pet it without having to be afraid. Her boyfriend, Aitu was an amazing man, an adorable cat and a powerful lion and the only way she could be luckier is if she and her family survived tonight and got out of danger.
Aitu managed to surprise the god since he wasn’t expecting the girl to be protected. He pounced on him and was instantly recognized by him ‘stay out of this Aitu!” the god snapped. That voice, it confirmed everything. It was the god in the rumors and that would work to his advantage. This god may know him but by the same token he knew this god and could use his strengths and weakness’s against him. He hoped that he had the advantage of more knowledge than this god had.
The God threw him off, but Aitu kept himself between him and the others. “She doesn’t belong, you know she doesn’t, none of them do.”
Aitu shifted back, standing defiantly before the angry God. “You know nothing. You do not have the right to choose who should live and who should die.”
“People like them will tear the world apart.”
“Yet Death has not contested their existence and the world remains intact. Even Anubis has not intervened.”
“That is because they have become too complacent to care.”
Aitu held out his hand, calling on Maahes’s power, the knife of bronze materializing in his palm. He brought it up, shifting his weight, ready to fight, to change his shape in an instant. “You have become blind by your self righteousness and I will not allow you to harm my mate or her family.”
“History scorned my great grandmother too, the goddess Medea but we think on a level far beyond the rest of you.” Great, he was a descendant of that lunatic, no wonder he was this way. He knew the name of the god, Bethor from the rumors and had met him before but he didn’t know his lineage until now. He had thought none of her children survived her in the end but obviously at least one made it out of her care alive. “Just because we are gods does not mean we know all. Especially you. Medea isn’t someone you should look up to but at least I now know where you get your self righteousness from.”
Bethor lunged toward him, anger and absolution clear on his face. There might be no talking to him but Aitu didn’t care the outcome. This god would die or give up trying to take his mate and her family from him. If he did just give up and walk away Aitu knew he’d have to have a meeting with what gods he could to make sure he stopped this. Aitu wondered how many other gods thought what this descendant of Medea, was doing was just rumor like he did.
First things first Aitu wanted to get him out of this house. He took a quick stab at him to make sure he was good and pissed off, completely redirected for the time away from Nauja so he would follow him. Aitu bolted for the front door and Bethor followed just as Aitu felt he would. Giving away what line he was from would probably be his undoing because Aitu had a feeling this god was a lot like Medea.
Nauja peeked out her window when she heard the fighting move outside, her heart stuttering in her chest as she watched Aitu and the other god. Her bedroom door opened and she jumped, but calmed when she saw it was only her father and Thomas. “Thank goodness, you’re safe.” Her father said as they both crossed over to her and looked outside.
“Is everyone else okay?” She asked.
“Your mother is with your siblings and Milena.”
“Is Aitu going to kill him?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t know.” Even though the man had come after her, she didn’t know if he deserved death. Was he really too twisted to be reasoned with?
Aitu’s knife bit into Bethor’s forearm as the god blocked, drawing a long line of blood from his elbow to his wrist. Bethor gritted his teeth enraged at being wounded. “Stop this Bethor, we can talk, we can come to an understanding, but you cannot have Nauja or her loved ones.”
“why are you doing this? What triggered you into this life?”
“It’s just something that needs to be done” The weather began changing and rapidly, this was Bethors doing. “Bethor” Aitu said warningly “I will silence you and end them.” It was as if the skies burst open above them. Rain cascaded down, soaking them instantly. The Thunder was so bright and loud it was near blinding and it would now be hard to hear anything. His strong emotional response to speaking actually made Aitu feel like he could get through to him. If his words meant nothing Bethor wouldn’t be trying so hard not to hear him out.
He didn’t want to take a life needlessly and he wasn’t quite ready yet anyway for Nauja to see him kill someone. Besides, once everyone knew for a fact this wasn’t rumor there was no way this would be allowed to continue. Aitu decided what he needed was to get him pinned somehow or too wounded to get away while he was trying to talk to him.
Bethor came at him swinging and Aitu dodged and slashed, looking for an opening, any opening. He stayed on the defensive, baiting Bethor into thinking he had the upper hand. He grabbed Bethor’s wrist as he swung at him and pulled hard, tripping him as he did it and driving his dagger into his shoulder. Bethor gritted his teeth in pain and Aitu jumped back, bringing his knife up. Bethor struggled back to his feet and found himself unable to lift his arm all the way up. “Stop this!” He yelled over the thunder. “You won’t be able to use that arm until it’s healed!”
Bethor glared at him and Aitu could see he was breathing hard. He could feel the change in the air as the electricity built above them and barely had time to jump out of the way as lightening slammed into the ground. It blinded him long enough for Bethor to jump on top of him, but between blood loss and being down one hand, Aitu managed to knock him off and pin him face down in the mud. “Stop, right now, it’s enough!” He demanded. “I don’t want to kill you, none of us do, but if you don’t stop, I will be forced to do worse than paralyze one of your arms.”
“what do these human lives mean to a god?! You truly can’t mean you want to be with this woman”
“I’d rather have a civilized talk. Agree to stop and I’ll let you up” The storm was still rageing as the two sat there in the mud. Bethor seemed to be thinking, probably about how he could get out of this. Aitu guessed he couldn’t think of a way to get the upper hand right now so said “fine, this storm wont stop instantly though”
“you better mean this. If I let you up and you try to harm her you wont get another chance”
“I wont go after the girl and her family” Aitu cautiously let Bethor out of the mud. It hung thick on him from head to toe and Aitu imagined that while he probably didn’t look as bad he looked much the same. The storm however was already clearing it off them even as they stood since it was coming down so hard. The two waited in it. Aitu wasn’t taking him inside just yet and he wasn’t letting him out of his sight. Bethor wasn’t an idiot so gathered thats what they were doing without being told. When it was calmed enough they could hear eachother without yelling Aitu asked “why do you do this? Truly”
“The why matters to you?”
“Yes, this needs to be talked out, you need to stop”
“I can walk away and let them live”
“You will and you’ll leave everyone else alone too when I’m done with you. You can talk to just me or I’ll get a bunch of gods on your ass about this.”
“I didn’t, I thought it was a tasteless rumor. You can’t believe everything you hear, especially among immortals. We live too long and get bored”
“And boredom so often leads to tragedy and pain. Gods, like the one who let Milena go back, who let Nauja and her siblings be born, who let her father live, meddle in things they shouldn’t out of boredom.” He clenched his fists. “I have seen people hurt and killed by those given a second chance.”
“People like someone you loved?”
Bethor looked away. “Why does it matter? If the Gods will not hold them accountable, if they will not take responsibility, then I will deal with it…I’ll stop them.”
“But Milena isn’t like that, Nauja and her family are innocent, they haven’t hurt anyone. You’re angry and vengeful and lashing out just like Medea did. You feel betrayed so you chose wrath over reason.”
“Reason didn’t get me anywhere. That bitch didn’t even apologize, she didn’t say she should have left well enough alone, she didn’t come back and rewind time, she just let him run rampant.”
“Maybe I could help you? Tell me your story and I’ll gather what gods I can to make things right. My line is respected, you know they will listen to me” Bethor was obviously in emotional pain making Aitu glad he didn’t simply kill him. He had obviously lost someone he loved and Aitu didn’t want to know what that felt like. What Bethor had been doing was horrible but he wasn’t cruel, just lost to his pain. “I guess I can truly give up going after people like Nauja if you will help me right what happened” The storm had stopped now “lets get you dry and in clean clothes then. I can take you back to my place”
“did you buy a place near this girl?”
“Yes, I worried she’d want to come over…I tried to think of everything so I could tell her in my own time” It looked for a brief moment that Bethor wanted to apologize but Aitu assumed a mixture of pain and lingering anger kept him from it. Aitu and Bethor walked back into the house where Aitu let Nauja know he wanted to take Bethor home since she didn’t have male clothes here “are you coming right back?”
“I will, but then I need to take Bethor to see the other Gods, there’s something I need to get sorted out for him.”
“Just be careful please.” She held out his pants and he remembered he wasn’t wearing anything.
“Sorry.” He took them, quickly pulling them on, then took her hand and pulled her close to him. “Everything’s going to be alright now, I promise.”
“Just be careful.” Her eyes moved to Bethor and he looked away. She could see it in the brief moment their eyes met; anger, pain, even shame.
“I will, don’t worry.” He gave her a kiss then turned to leave.
Bethor started to follow then turned back, his eyes fully meeting Nauja’s. “I…” he started then let out a sigh and shook his head. “Nothing.” He turned and followed Aitu, not wanting to linger too long.
Nauja dropped down onto her bed and rested her bat against the wall. “I’m so glad no one died.”
“That was crazy” Her younger sibling said and she nodded. Nauja almost spoke but another sibling said “I wonder if the neighbors saw, It’s late, maybe they just thought there was a bad storm.”
“Maybe, I just hope they get back soon.”
“Do you think Bethor will try to pull anything” Her mother asked and Nauja said “No, he looks like he feels bad. It seems like he’s just dealing with something. I couldn’t really hear them over the storm, especially since I was inside with all of you but he seemed so angry the day I met him. Anger like that can only come from pain” The two gods were at Aitus home in no time “that rain was frigid, do you want to shower before you dry and change clothes?”
“I’ll be fine, I just need a towel” Aitu gave a small nod before grabbing two towels from under his sink so they could dry. “do you need help?”
“I’m fine, I can do this with one arm”
“alright” Aitu threw Bethor clothes and soon they were both dried and changed. “lets get back Nauja. After all that tonight I didn’t want to give her a quick goodbye”
“It might be harder than a snap of the fingers to get a group of gods together anyway so I know it might not necessarily be tonight”
“I’ll get this done as quickly as possible Bethor. I know for a fact where a couple of them are and we can figure it out from there”
“I see” Aitu slightly frowned “you don’t have to be an outcast of the god society Bethor. I can’t think of a single line that doesn’t carry some sort of shame.”
“being alone is the worst thing to be when you’re hurting. Even I’m willing to be friends with you”
“That can’t be true. I was going to kill her”
“but you didn’t and I don’t think you will”
“If you’re ready lets just get back to her”
Nauja was sitting in the living room with everyone, drinking coffee, when he and Bethor walked in. She sat her cup down and jumped up, practically running into his arms. He couldn’t help but feel happy in spite of the situation and hugged her tightly to him, smiling. “I’m safe my love.” He pulled back, the adoring look he was giving her causing her to blush. “I love you, Nauja.”
“I love you too. Do you have to leave tonight?”
“I do and I’m sorry, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”
“It’s okay, you have too.”
He smiled. “I promise to make this all up to you, I’ll take you anywhere, do anything you want.”
“I just want you back safe.” She looked at Bethor who forced himself to keep eye contact this time. “I know you don’t like me, any of us, but please watch his back.”
“I…” He sighed then nodded. “Okay.”
“Thank you, really.”
Aitu had to kiss her one more time before leaving, especially things could get complicated fast with gods. Too many played games or had their own selfish things going on in the background or had too many secrets they didn’t want out. He hoped this would be straightforward, everything taken care of and done right away so he could get back to her but he couldn’t lie to himself, he was too old of a god. Thankfully the first part of their journey came easy, the group of gods he was talking about were right where he thought they were “Aitu? So rare to see you in that form, have you managed to live with all the interesting humans?” Bakeles asked teasingly.
“I’m here about something serious. Wasn’t it actually you I heard the rumor from about a god killing beings that were the product of tampered time?”
“It’s true and Bethor here is the one behind it. I am not here however for him to be punished in any sort of way. HIs anger came from pain. Someone tampered with time and it cost him someone he loved. He hasn’t yet even told me the whole story but if we get justice for him he will stop. Not only do I need him to for the sake of the woman I love but as gods I think it’s our duty”
“You love someone!” Of course thats what he’d respond to in that paragraph of words. This was Bakeles “Bakeles”
“Yes yes we’ll hear him out but only after you tell us about this girl”
Aitu forced down the groan rising in his throat, knowing if he didn’t they might change their minds. “Very well, her name is Nauja and she is the daughter of a man who was saved by…”
“Milena.” One of the Gods said. It was Kairos.
“You know them?”
“I know Milena.” He smiled.
“You changed her fate.”
“I simply gave her the opportunity to change her fate, that’s all. Do tell us about this Nauja, it’s good to know things turned out well.”
Aitu glanced at Bethor who was looking at his feet, fists clenched. He reached over, squeezing his shoulder, snapping him out of his thoughts. “Just tell them what they want to know.” Bethor said.
Though it took a lot of time Aitu told Kairos and the rest of the group everything he knew about Nauja and her life. He especially made sure to tell him about everything kind thing she had done. “I knew she was worth a redo. There was just something about her soul when I looked into her eyes”
“I suppose I’m grateful to you, I really love her”
“see Bethor, time meddling isn’t so bad.” Bethor couldn’t help but answer back “It gave him love but it cost me mine. I finally found someone to spend my life with and she was taken away and what was worse, her life was taken by someone who shouldn’t have existed” Kairos frowned “what was their name? If I was responsible for them I am deeply sorry” Aitu could tell Kairos was being genuine. He had a good heart even though most would call him reckless for just how often he gave beings second chances.
“I know who did it. I already tracked them down but she wasn’t sorry she did it. All she said to me was just to find someone else, I was a god and had the time”
“well that kind of bitchy attitude sounds like my cousin Kaylia”
“You’re just connected to everything aren’t you” Bethor snapped and Kairos patiently said “I am sorry, I am, she should of apologized and taken responsibility. I will talk to my grandfather and then we will deal with her”
“what could he do?”
“If she still wont apologize and be more careful he can lock up her gifts. He’s the only one in our family with that ability. We don’t know where it came from but he can and will. My cousin wont be the first time he’s done it”
“I still wont have her back…” Bethor looked close to tears again “you wont and I hate that for you but that can be handled next. Death can be reversed, maybe instead of killing people given a second chance you can spend your time tracking beings with the ability to reverse death down and asking for help. Maybe we could even get death to speak with you”
Bethor looked a little hopeful and even just a tad embarrassed he hadn’t thought about going that way instead of the path he had chosen. “alright…well thank you for being willing to help me with your cousin” There was a short silence before Aitu spoke up, wanting to hurry things along “Please, I want to get back to Nauja. May we go seek out your grandfather Kairos?”
“Of course, I am ready, are any of you coming?” He asked the group. Only Bakeles decided to tag along but Aitu felt it was for the better. Less gods meant less chaos when trying to get things done.
Bakeles was a chatter box the entire journey, asking more questions about Nauja and even trying to get to know Bethor. Normally Aitu would tell him to ease up, but he thought maybe Bakeles’s forwardness would benefit Bethor. “I don’t think he has ever taken a hint.” Kairos whispered with a chuckle.
“No, never. I feel the day he does, is the day the world ends.”
“True.” Kairos let out a sigh. “I feel this is partially my fault, you know.”
“You shouldn’t, you didn’t make anyone do anything.”
“But I know how my cousin is and I did meddle.”
“I feel like you would have taken responsibility for anything bad happening if a death had been caused because of your choices.” He slapped Kairos on the back. “I’m sure, given time, Bethor will see the difference between the two of you.”
“Yeah…at least I can know that my actions gave you a reason to be you. I started missing you once you decided you wanted to be a cat most the time. We should hangout more again”
“That sounds great…but after I’ve had some time with Nauja. She’s had to take in so much so fast”
“I figured, no worries, whats most important to me is things working out with her”
“I know she’d love to meet all of you. I’m sure she’d even like to thank you for giving her Milena a second chance”
“Its crazy how when you mess with one thing it changes so many others…I’ve always known that but I dont think that has sunk in for me until now” When they arrived at Kairos’s grandfathers house he didn’t answer so they just went in, Kairos taking the lead. “Hey! Omkar, I really need you” They couldn’t find him so Kairos went to the basement door, opened it up and yelled “Grandpa?!” They suddenly heard a cacophony of glass breaking and cursing.
Kairos cringed and sucked air through his teeth before saying “I guess he’s down there” They walked down and Kairos apologized “How many times have I told you not to do that boy”
“I’m sorry” He sighed “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be so cross. Welcome, why do I have a house full of gods?”
“Kaylia” His grandfather groaned “do not tell me Kaylia did something else. What I’m working on now is because of that girl”
“what else did she do”
“No, tell me what YOU need me for first.”
“I was hoping you’d help us get her under control” He went over everything with his grandfather who looked more and more angry by the second then spoke as soon as Kairos stopped “and you came to me because she’s abused her powers too long correct?”
“I wanted to try to talk to her one more time but yes”
“She needs to be taught a lesson about what it means to be a god, to have the kinds of powers and responsibilities that come with it. I can get us to her quickly, I have to redo all this anyway so lets just go”
“How are we going to get to her?” Bethor asked.
“When Kaylia began to show a certain lack of empathy and ignorance over what meddling with time can do, I made sure I could find her immediately.” He gestured for them to move back and he bent down, pulling a rug back. There was a circle drawn on the floor and he asked them to step inside. “To my blood take me, Kaylia.” He said and the ring lit up.
It happened in the blink of an eye. One moment they were standing in a basement and the next in a field of flowers near a lake. The sound of giggling caught their attention and they all looked over the lake, seeing two people, a male and female, both naked. Even from where they were, they could tell the woman was Kaylia. “That’s her.” Bethor said angrily. “She’s the one who…who…” Nauja put a hand on his shoulder.
“Calm down, Bethor, it’s going to be handled.” Bethor fell silent as they all made their way around the lake. The man was the first to spot them, a look of surprise on his face as he quickly retrieved his pants and tugged them on.
Kaylia nearly asked what they were doing here but she noticed Bethor. She sighed, seeming exasperated “really? You’ve tattled on me”
“don’t speak to him that way Kaylia” Omkar retorted angrily. She looked over at her lover “I suppose my family and I need a second”
“you’ll call me soon”
“get boy” Omkar said angrily and the man ran away. “Now who is rude”
“I’m old and tired of dealing with this crap. I couldn’t even finish cleaning up after your last mess and now I hear of that”
“well his problem happened a long time ago grandpa”
“there shouldn’t be this many problems Kaylia”
“Look, shit happens, he needs to move on”
“No, you need to show some remorse Kaylia. You really don’t carry any guilt for what you caused”
“I didn’t make anybody kill anybody” Omkar sighed “you’re leaving me no choice Kaylia” realization dawned on her instantly “you’re…you’re not here to”
“You’re out of control Kaylia. Your parents and I have tried to be patient with you but it seems you don’t deserve your powers”
“Grandpa!” she exclaimed and he said “do not make this harder than it has to be”
“Fine I’m sorry”
“I can tell you aren’t”
“well what do you want me to do”
“Be mature and accept that maybe you’ve lost touch with the reality of being a goddess, of having the powers you do. You’re a self absorbed brat and it truly does pain me to say that Kaylia. Maybe you can start coming over and we can start having some much needed talks. You were such a sweet young girl Kaylia”
“This isn’t fair. You never get mad at Kairos.”
“Kairos doesn’t not make constant messes and when he screws up he fixes it. He doesn’t allow people to go around murdering each other.”
“I hate you.” She turned to leave and Omkar ordered her to stop. She froze in place, her body refusing to move.
“Now turn and look at me.” Her body shook as Omkar’s will forced her to move and they could all see how surprised she once she was facing him. “I did not want to do this.” He took her face in his hands. “Until you learn compassion and take responsibility for your actions and until you are willing to speak to me like an adult, you will be stripped of your powers, you will live among the humans, work as one of them, and perhaps realize they are not your toys.” He dropped his hands and she could move again.
“No, that’s not fair!”
“What you have done to this man and others is also not fair. When you are ready to talk, call for me and I will come to you, but until then, you will learn humility.”
Omkar turned to Bethor “can you go in peace now?” Bethor nodded “thank you”
“I hope your heart heals. The hardest thing in life is losing a loved one, especially a life partner” They left Omkar to deal with Kaylia and Kairos asked “so do you think you can heal now or would you like help talking to death or finding a being who can bring your love back to life? Death himself is the safest way. Sometimes things go wrong raising the dead and then you have to live forever knowing that you made the person you love into a monster”
“I’d like to ask the grim reaper…if he says no then I’ll let her rest in peace and try to heal. I can’t risk something going wrong in raising her another way, she deserves more than that” Kairos pulled out a phone and Bethor said “You aren’t really going to call death are you…thats a thing”
“you act like he isn’t just another god” Kairos said with a chuckle then added “but no I’m not, I’m calling his wife. Unless you’re his wife or kids calling him is a waste of time”
Nauja clocked into work and soon had to tell everyone the story about the man who had grabbed her. The security guard had apparently talked to everyone about him after she left with her Uber. She tried to be present in conversation, especially since these were all friends but it was hard to talk about him as some crazy now and it was harder not to just tell everyone about her god boyfriend. Most of all it was hard not knowing how Aitu was. To go from talking every day throughout the day to him going out on some mission for who knew how long was weird and only made her feel more how much she had grown to love him.
She made it through another work day and was finally able to pick up her car that evening right as the shop was closeing. No more ubers, finally. Once home she checked in with her parents as they had asked her to do until Aitu came back. She kept them on the phone awhile, killing time until they had to get off. “I suppose I should cook dinner” she said to the air then walked over to her kitchen. She decided to make herself something light and then go for a run.
After looking at what she had she decided on making Soba Noodle-Vegetable Salad. It would be quick, filling but not too hard on her stomach while she ran. Nauja had forgotten how good this tasted and decided she’d make it again for Aitu next time he was over. After putting her leftovers away she changed into jogging attire, grabbed her ipod, phone and keys then headed out the door. Where she lived was perfect for jogging so she didn’t have to drive herself anywhere.
“It can’t be that easy.” Bethor said as he sat across from Death, a cup of tea in his hand. His name was Ardan and he looked so human sitting there next to his wife. If it wasn’t for the energy and the fact both Aitu and Kairos had vouched for him, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Ardan said. “I was there that day, you know. She was upset because of you, because there were things she wanted to say and do, but she had to come with me.”
“But, you’ll truly give her back?”
“Ardan’s really a big softy.” His wife Grace replied and Ardan took her hand, bring it to his lips, causing her to smile.
“It’s not something I do every day. In fact, the world would break if I did, but every now and then, I find someone whose time shouldn’t have been cut short and if asked, I give them back. That being said, just giving her soul back won’t do, you need her body.”
“But she’s been buried for years.”
“I know a man who can restore her body so her soul can return to it. He has done it more than once and I know he will help.”
“How long will it take?”
Ardan chuckled. “I’m the Reaper, I can go anywhere in an instant, so not long.”
That came as a relief to both Aitu and Bethor. Aitu’s mind was constantly jumping to Nauja. When Ardan finished his tea it truly was a surprisingly quick process. They retrieved the man, the man restored her body and like it was nothing at all Ardan returned her soul. Ardan had told him her soul hadn’t been reincarnated yet which was a big part of what made this all so smooth. When she woke it was with a gasp, confusion covering her face. Bethor helped her up, instantly pulling her into his arms “Bethor?”
Hearing her say his name instantly brought tears to his eyes. She was truly back, nothing had gone wrong in the process. “Chandia, yes it’s me”
“Getting here is a long story but I asked the grim reaper for you back and he returned you to me. I won’t fail you again Chandia, I promise. I’m so sorry” She pushed a little out of the hug to look at him “Hey…you didn’t do anything wrong Bethor. I never for a second thought I died because you failed me and you shouldn’t have either” she wiped his tears away and kissed him, something that nearly broke him completely. Bethor hadn’t for a second thought he could have this again.
Everyone else just smiled at the sweet moment, being silent and giving them their time. The silence broke when Bethor lifted Chandia and thanked Ardan before thanking the gods that brought him here. Once out of Ardans home Bethor said “I think I’ll take her home from here. Just as you have a lot to discuss with Nauja I have a lot I need to fill her in on about my time without her” Bethor wanted everything out in the open even if he was ashamed to admit everything to Chandia “alright friend, please come visit us though” Bethor nodded, thanked them again then left with Chandia.
Kairos and Bakeles took their leave aswell, knowing Aitu wanted some time alone with Nauja when he got to her. He rushed back, getting to her home at nearly four in the morning. He called instead of knocking, worried a knock might scare her. She sleepily answered “Aitu?”
“I’m back, I was concerned knocking might scare you”
“you’re at my door?” she instantly sounded fully awake and he smiled as he heard her jump out of bed and start coming to the door. They both hung up as she opened it and embraced for the first time in a few days. “is everything okay now?” Nauja asked and Aitu said “it’s better than okay, we convinced the grim reaper to give his loves soul back”
“Oh my god, no way”
“yeah, I can tell you about everything over coffee if you want” she kissed his cheek then began to tug Aitu in “yeah, come in” Aitu told her about everything well into sunrise, including the fact his friends wanted to meet her some day. It seemed to excite her and Aitu felt relief again she was really okay with everything, that they were okay and would have an amazing future together.
~ The End