Rosemerta clambered through levels of fog and fatigue, finally opening her eyes to a warm light bathing her bed in the infirmary. She sighed, having hoped to wake up from the horror in her own dorm. She’d even take her roommate’s latest boyfriend snoring in the bunk above her’s right now.
The men who called themselves gods had left her alone, but she suspected not too far. She could feel a nagging unease in her chest, tuning itself to find the dark man, Hermes. What had transpired during the last waking period had been too much to fathom.
Her hand gently felt for her leg, finding her sutures bound under wrappings. For once, her head wasn’t throbbing. They had probably given her a blood transfusion, she suspected. What type of blood they transferred was anyone’s guess she mused to herself. She still had the blue mud symbols on her upper arms. She stared up at the ceiling, nibbling her lip. What was she going to do now? She had her math test today. Hopefully it wasn’t yesterday. How long had she been asleep? She panicked, quickly rolling up from the bed, placing her feet on the floor. Immediately a blood rush made her ears dim and her eyes start to see black spots. She breathed for a second, waiting for the faint feeling to pass.
A knock at the door startled her, sending her heart pounding into a frenzy. Black circles rimmed her eyes and it took everything in her to fight off the sudden dread of fainting. The door handle swivled down. A click let her know it had cleared the jam. She counted, waiting for her body to calm itself, to stop trying to burst out of her.
“Are you alright?” the dark man asked as he strode into the room quickly. He strode to her bed and laid his hand on her forehead. She flinched at the sudden contact, but she knew she couldn’t do much at this point other than fight off the black out. “You should be lying down,” cautioned Hermes as he tried to force her to lie down again. She balked, shaking her head. Hermes sat down next to her, trying to look her in the eye.
“Your heart is racing,” stated Hermes matter of factly. Rose glanced up at him, startled. She blinked, confused. “I can feel you reaching for breath,” he tapped his chest. He could. It burned and ached, like Cerberus was sitting on him. His muscles ached, an odd signal to him.
“How…” Rose tried to speak, but all that came out was a strangled squeak. She eased back onto the bed, her body too hot. Sweat was forming across her face and her arms. She felt like there was no cool air. Her stomach clenched. Her eyes went wild, looking for a trash can.
Hermes watched her, not entirely certain what was going on. Very rarely did he experience sensations like what he was feeling now. Gods, on principal, were fundamentally different in construction from humans. Though they had a humanoid appearance, and were capable of reproducing with humans, they lacked some structures. They did not require a heart to pump blood through their system, instead the system pushed and pulled an elemental liquid, their life essence with the work of every cell on its own. Micro-working structures. Lungs, the function of breathing was meaningless on this plain. The body, the cells worked in sink to pull what it needed out of it’s environment. Food was different to the gods. It was something utilized by the body in it’s entirety. It was regrouped for repairs and reconstruction. Gods’ anatomy was more that of a humanoid jellyfish, as Apollo had explained to Hermes once over a rather luxury sushi dinner.
A burning sensation punched him in the gut, but he didn’t know what to make of it. Then Rose’s eyes settled on a wastebasket and she motioned for it. He stared at it curiously, but got up and brought it back to her anyway. She was sick until there was nothing but bile, and even after that, her body continued trying to reject itself. A couple more minutes and she started expelling a strange black colored liquid. Hermes backed up, the weird feeling of beating terror resonating in his chest. “Rose,” he said as calmly as possible. She couldn’t afford the time to look up. “I’m going to get Apollo. He’ll know what’s happening,” he eased out of the room and took off down the hall, lifting off to fly. On principle he didn’t run or fly in houses. It tended to end badly, but this looked like it was probably an emergency.
Apollo’s study was thankfully a straight shot to the other end of the hall. Hermes burst into the room, not even winded. Apollo glanced up from his wine and conversation with Cernenous. “She’s puking black stuff,” Hermes used a foreign word to himself, though it had floated into his head, like the sensations in his chest and his gut. He could feel sweat accumulating on his forehead. It was agitating him, these things that should not happen. Gods had no use for sweat glands, what by Hades’ sheet was this about?
Cernenous and Apollo lept up from their respective chairs and joined Hermes in his mad dash for the infirmary. Crashing through the door, they found Rose had slid out of her bed and was laying face down on the cool tile floor, obtaining as much skin contacting with the material as possible. Hermes instantly went to her side, touching her face. Her skin had a strange, metallic shine to it. She was breathing, but her cheeks were red, and her body felt hot. The wastebasket was full to the brim.
Apollo knelt next to her, checking her pulse. “What happened?” He asked, going to a basin and pitcher. He took a towel and dunked it in the cool water, ringing it out before bringing it back to lay it on Rose’s neck.
“I had this weird chest pain and a nagging feeling in the back of my head, so I went to check on Rose. I don’t really know why. When I went in, she seemed to not be feeling well. Then she started puking, I think that’s her word,” he stated, uncertain of where the term had really come from. “She went through a couple of different colours before it started coming up black. That weird chest pain came back, hard. I felt it was necessary to get you,” Hermes wasn’t sure what to do. He wanted for her to lay down in the bed again, but he could feel the coolness of the tile on his skin. It was helping lower her steadily rising temperature.
“I’m so sorry,” Apollo apologized. Hermes cocked his head, not sure what Apollo was apologizing for. Cernunous knelt down next to her. The two began mumbling to each other rather heatedly. Hermes leaned against the door frame, shifting uncomfortably as he waited.
Finally, after what Hermes felt was an incredibly long time, the two stood up, leaving Rosemerta to lie on the floor. She had drifted off to a comfortable sleep. Hermes was aware of the beat of her heart, the ease of pressure in her head. “Hermes,” Apollo’s gaze shifted out to the hallway, it shifted to a corner of the room, it shifted everywhere other than to look Hermes in the eye.
Hermes reached out and gripped his half-brother by the shoulder. Apollo’s gaze snapped to him. “What is going on Apollo. I need answers here,” Hermes growled.
“I’d rather tell this to anyone but you right now,” Apollo hedged.
“Brother,” Hermes demanded. He very rarely used the ploy of fraternity, but he knew Apollo couldn’t quite put up a fight against it.
Apollo sucked in a breath, waiting for the jitters to stop running up and down his hand. He raised up and lowered on his heels, nervous energy pouring off of him. He grimaced, rolling his thoughts around before deciding on what to say. “You can feel her heart, her reactions to things, right?” he asked. Hermes nodded. “That’s normal with the du’la. It get’s closer, harder to avoid. You’ll feel like a clingy child, unable to leave his mother’s skirts soon enough. If you try to pull away from the binding, you’ll find yourself snapping back, unable to get away from it. It turns into a bad addiction. You leave and soon you’ll need your next fix, now, immediately. If you are split apart by any great distance, it’s like your soul is being crushed,” Apollo elaborated on something Hermes was already expecting.
“I figured that much, but why is she puking black stuff? Is she going to be okay. Can you do anything for her?” he pressed. Apollo’s gaze shifted again as he tried to still his nervous energy again.
“About that…Hermes…how often have you seen a reincarnate?” Apollo asked.
“Once. It’s been a while ago though. Fortuna was one, if I remember,” Hermes replied.
“You remember how I was contracted to a du’la for a while? I mean, you don’t really remember that, I just recently told you about it, but still, I skipped out on stuff for almost a human century,” he rubbed at his arm.
“Apollo?” Hermes pressed.
“If she’s a reincarnate…she might be around for a lot longer than a human lifespan,” he sighed. Hermes stared at his half-brother. He blinked, the meaning of Apollo’s meaning slowly seeping it’s way through his cluttered brain.
“She’s puking up black stuff, cause…she’s a reincarnate? Is that supposed to happen?” he asked.
“Her body is expelling her humanity, if you might. It’s reorganizing her structure. That’s all the…stuff…that makes up what doesn’t make her a reincarnating goddess. She’ll be fine in a couple of hours. She’s just exhausted,” he looked back at the girl kindly.
“Wait…how old if Fortuna? How long has she been a goddess since reincarnating?” Hermes finally stumbled on the answer. The look of horrified terror in Apollo’s eyes told him as much. Hermes sank against the door frame. “How long am I tied to her?” Hermes barely whispered.
“I’m so sorry, Hermes,” Apollo sank down with his brother. Hermes felt limp, numb. All he could was stare at the ceiling, allowing his brain to blank out. “I know this wasn’t what you wanted when all you were trying to do was get away from women,” Apollo leaned his head on his brother’s shoulder, fighting tears. “I’m so sorry about everything, Hermes. I’m so sorry,” he mumbled as hot tears rolled down his cheeks to plop on Herme’s blazer.