Chapter Two

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His hand beckons me closer.

Arm stretched, Elijah waits patiently at the top of the stairs, ready to descend. His pale features almost shine under sunlight, tracing his sharp bones, seeping into his inhuman complexion. Dressed warm for the season, he's wearing a coat and a knit turtleneck, despite not needing either.

My aching limbs protest with every step I make, unaccustomed to pain. Even as a human, I didn't feel this much. He catches my grimace.

"What are you feeling?"

I shake my head.

"Cassie, if you don't tell me, I can't help you. There's only so much I can sense."

"It'll pass."

His frown deepens. "I don't understand. My blood should have already healed you. Even the bruises you had took nearly a day to disappear. It's... unsettling."

"Do you think it's something wrong with me?"

"No, it just means we have to be careful. My blood was a quick fix."

I smile, taking his hand when he offers it again. "Guess we'll just have to rely on your doctoral expertise if I'm ever caught up in fatal circumstances then."

He chuckles at my sarcasm, but it's forced and weak and dies off quickly. After that, all I see is concern. I squeeze his hand.

"I was kidding."

"I know."

"You know I'm a pro at death jokes."

"Yes, well, my humor is not as it once was, I'm afraid."

The jokes are meant to mask the intense fear I've felt since opening my eyes. No doubt Elijah is aware of it. I'm sure he can sense it, as he can sense everything within me. I feel the watchful eyes of the gods upon us, but my cord between realms has been severed. My head is silent. I hear no thoughts. I feel no power within my grasp. I've been stripped of it. And I knew it would happen.

I knew I'd wake as a human, but I hadn't anticipated how weak I'd become from what I was. Everything is hard. To walk or breathe is hard. My joints hurt. My head throbs. But there is no time to waste recuperating in bed.

Elijah smiles reassuringly, tugging my hand but my legs won't budge. My eyes soar up nervously to the sky, peering from under the cover of the shaded arched entranceway of the tribunal.

"Your eyes will adjust, my love."

"It's not that."

"What then?"

"I feel eyes, everywhere. They're watching us."

The ominous presence hangs over our heads, stealing all of the light-heartedness we've worked so hard to maintain. Elijah's cautious expression softens as he tries again, pulling me towards the world.

"Then let them see us."

The first ray of sunlight stings my eyes, and I shrink away from the bright sky. I traveled to earth as a goddess, but spent no time needing to adjust to it's atmosphere. We reach the last step, and I turn my face up from the ground, blinking through the discomfort.

It gets easier, gradually. Elijah doesn't push me before I'm ready. When my fingers entwine with his, he understands the sign. We move together, slipping through the new steel gate, an object that wasn't erected when we briefly lived here together.

"When was this placed?"

"We commissioned it after the dark months. Crime didn't die away easily. The streets were filled with the homeless. We had to take precautions to protect our people."

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