Who: Helios & Rhode What: Reunions When: Saturday afternoon Where: New York Harbor, near the Statue of Liberty
Rhode had seen both her father and sister in the past few days, and it made her feel more at ease in this new place. All that remained were her mother and brother. And, if she was being honest with herself, her husband as well. She missed him like someone had cut off a limb, not that she'd ever say anything like that. But he understood her in a way that few did, even members of her family. She hoped he was alive and well somewhere.
On the off chance he might still be around, she'd gone for a walk near the Harbor again, seeing as how that had turned up her father the first time. And the Statue of Liberty reminded her of her Colossus, down to the poem engraved by her feet. 'The New Colossus', that's what they called her, and she certainly saw the similarities.
She was almost ready to turn around and go home, when she felt another presence nearby. Bright and warm and safe...like home. Like Helios. She whipped around looking for him, long hair flying out in every direction.
It was his day off, which were few and far between these days. When it came to adolescent teenagers they liked to graffiti any blank spot they could find, even on the Statue herself if they had the chance. Even on his day off he gravitated towards her.
As he walked hands in his pockets, the wind whipping harshly against his face. He caught a glimpse of the young woman's face which made him stop. No way! She looked something like the girl in his dreams but that was a little too crazy. He didn't feel the presence she did, but he hung around, walking toward the harbor. Living on an island felt like home, though he couldn't ever remember living anywhere else.
The man walking toward her had to be her Helios. He just had to be. If it turned out to be a false alarm, Rhode would most likely walk away quickly and let herself quietly cry for a moment.
But the closer she got, the more she was certain. And she was kind of amazed no one else could see it. He smacked of her Colossus, tall and statuesque. She felt a smile unfurl over her face, a real smile, not the smirks she was so used to giving her family.
"Hello," she said, approaching him. "Nice day, isn't it?"
Holden tried not to be conspicuous, but he was hardly one to be subtle. He turned to face her, getting a good glimpse. She was fishing for something. He gave her a half smile. "That's a creative line isn't it? Asking me about the weather." Golden wad often blunt, he didn't beat around the bush. Often it turned people off to his straightforwardness.
"It is nice though." He liked the city in all its dark glory. He liked brightening it up.
She laughed. "Yeah, OK, maybe it's not the best, but it does the job. Generally, going up to someone and saying, 'You look familiar, have we met?' just makes them think you're strange." She peered at him a little closer. "Have we met before?" she asked. "Only I'd swear we have. You look like someone I knew, a long time ago."
He smiled a little wider, "It tends to get you offhand looks," he teased with his brows lifted in curiosity. "Good thing I'm not easily put off by such things." He watched her eyes as she focused in, she was really searching. He pointed a finger at her realizing she wasn't saying it to poke fun, she was serious this time.
"There's the million dollar question," he pulled his coat collar around his neck, letting his breath hit the cold air, "because when I say I've never met you before but dreamed about you, you're going to look at me strange."
Now that was a real line.
She shrugged. "I'm used to it. I've developed a thick skin over the years." 'You helped' she stopped herself from saying. "Then you must be almost as tough as I am," she said with a little smile.
Her heart squeezed a little when he said that. "You dreamed about me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I think we can both safely say we're a strange pair of people."
"That's a good thing to have," too many people were weak willed and took his behavior as a stab personally. "Holden Colosi," he said holding out his hand.
No embarrassment there, he didn't even flinch. "Seen your face many times, kind of surreal you standing here right now." What a pretty face it was. Strong and soft at the same time.
"It helps," she said with a small smile, shaking his hand. Even his surname was a throwback to her statue, and she loved it. "Rhiannon Knight," she replied. "Nice to meet you."
She smiled. "Some people might say that means we met in another life, or something. Maybe we did." Why didn't he remember? It was driving her crazy, him not knowing.
"There a short version of that name? That's a mouthful." He found himself staring when her hand locked with his, the ocean even smelled a little sweeter. "You too."
Time stood still for that moment.
"You don't believe that do you?" Though he'd heard of crazier things. Gods and immortals running around, he was certain they were all a little off in their own right, but who was he to judge. When he looked into her eyes though it felt real. "Maybe though."
"Rhi is fine," she said with a smile. "I go by Rhode, too, my parents called me that as a child, and it stuck." It was as obvious as she could get without hitting him over the head with a clue bat.
She shrugged. "I don't really know what I believe anymore. Sometimes I look at my life and wonder, how on Earth did I end up here, you know? It's weird. This wasn't where I pictured myself at all."
She brushed some of her hair out of her face. "So, Holden, what do you do?"
"I like Rhode," he said finally letting her hand drop, which almost felt like it hurt to do. He brushed it off as his mind getting a little ahead of itself for once. He wasn't the dreamer type, so he wasn't going to spout of sonnets. It did however, pinch a nerve, her face filling his thoughts of another time. More or less just his mind's observation of what she'd said a few moments ago. He'd seen her before on an island, just like this.
"Hmmm, perhaps. Never look at the here and why, I'm all about just going in whatever direction life takes you and throwing her a few curve balls in the process."
This thing about not taking his eyes off her was getting a little ridiculous. As cliched as it was, he just couldn't.
"Security guard. I wake up to Liberty herself every day."
She smiled. She saw that tiny flash of recognition in his eyes, even if it was just for a second. It gave her some hope that perhaps, if she kept at it, she could help him remember who he was, and also who they were to each other. Gods knew she was stubborn enough to do it.
"That's a good way to go about things," she agreed. "At least you're bound to find something interesting along the way."
"I've been to the statue a lot, she's a great place to sit and think," she replied. "It's peaceful. They call her the 'New Colossus', isn't that right?"
For some reason he really wanted to give her what she was fishing for. The hope that he was someone she wanted him to be. It was odd, to think like that. It made him feel delusional, as if he was confused and he never saw himself as the uncomfortable type.
He looked across the way to see the Statue, standing in all her glory with her arm outstretched, a torch of freedom in her hand. Rhode's words rung in his ear like a bell, and he stood there in a distant place until the wind blew a cold rush against his neck.
"Yes. She was built to reflect one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Not many know that," his statement could almost be perceived as haughty.
She could tell her words had struck a chord with him, and she counted that as a victory. A step in the right direction, however small that step might have been.
"Actually,I did know that," she replied breezily. "I've actually seen the ruins of the Colossus. I'll bet it was a sight to behold in all its glory. Imagine sailing beneath that as you entered the harbor at Rhodes. Definitely something to inspire awe, I think." She heard the pride in his voice, it matched hers. She remembered the statue being built, on her home, no less, and it had made her proud to be the island's goddess.
She shivered a bit as a cold breeze blew in off the sea. "You want to go and get a coffee?" she asked. "I'm freezing, I could definitely use one."
It did strike a chord, but he had no idea of where to place it. She kept talking of the statue as if she knew it personally, felt some kind of kindred admiration for it. "Magnificent, I am sure." There was a second of lightheadedness that set him off balance, the ocean very clear in his mind, drowning him. For a moment he thought he was having some mild panic attack, but it was as if he just couldn't catch his breath.
Until she spoke.
"Pardon?" he asked, that wind whisked past his ear.
When blue eyes drew to hers he found himself agreeing, stepping back from the harbor toward the city.
It wasn't the first time he'd felt like that before, though it happened so few times, most episodes he didn't even realize had passed. Something about this young woman drew him in and he didn't want to let go.
"It really was," she said under breath, so that he couldn't hear.
She could tell her words had triggered something,he almost looked scared for a moment. Well that just wouldn't do at all.
"Come on, I know a nice little place nearby," she said, pointing the way. "It doesn't look like much, but the staff make a mean cider. And it's warm and out of the wind."
He followed her, yanking up his collar and folding it around his neck until they were inside, where it was warm. Shocking was that he let her lead, even more was when he grabbed her hand as they stepped inside.
That was just like a burn against his skin.
When he took her hand, she smiled at him as they walked up to the counter. The contact sent a warm feeling up her arm, made her happy the way she hadn't been in a long time.
The shop wasn't a terribly large place, and once the barista noticed her, she smiled and said, "Hey, Rhi! Your usual?"
She smiled and nodded, turning to Helios. "What would you like? I'd recommend the hot chocolate, or the spiced cider, that's what I'm having. But whatever you'd like, I'll buy."
He felt his entire body heat up, sending a warm jolt through his system. Almost as if he were the sun itself. She seemed to glow when he touched her, it was memorizing. His fingers threaded into her thin, tiny ones.
"Cider," he spoke with his other hand pulling out his wallet and refusing to let her buy. "My treat."
She put up a token protest, but in the end let him step forward and pay for their ciders, smiling at the barista over his shoulder. The girl started making them, and she lead him to a booth under the heating vent, where it's warmer. The barista brought their drinks a moment later,smiling and telling them to have a nice day.
Rhode took a long drink from hers, relishing the warmth and the zip of the cinnamon. "Best stuff in the city, in my humble opinion," she said, smiling at him over the cup. "Warms you from the inside out."
Holden would hardly let her argue. It appeared to the barista as if the two of them were already an item. He hardly wanted to let her hand go when they sat down, he sliding up next to her. Perhaps it was forward, but he wasn't going to be shy.
Hands grasped his own cup, smell that warm cider through his senses, warming him before he even had a taste.
She sipped her drink quietly for a moment, content just to sit with him after being without his constant company for so long. He didn't look very much changed, a little paler, perhaps, but she chalked that up to it being November. He'd get his golden look back once summer came back around.
"So do you like working at the Statue?" she asked after a while. "I'd imagine there's a lot of history bound up in it."
His hand circled the cup, not bothered that each time he brought it to his lips, it burned the skin, causing him to lick his upper lip to ease the hot steam.
"I do, it feels like home." Though he hardly knew where home really was for him. He couldn't remember ever being anywhere else but on this island, bits and pieces of his memory to things he wasn't able to put together.
She nodded, knowing exactly what he meant. "I feel like that sometimes too," she replied. "People tell me I have an old soul, which I took to be a good thing. At least I think so." She shrugged and grinned. "But it's good to have somewhere to call home, drifting alone is no good for anyone."
He steadily watched her. The way her lips moved, when she pulled her hair back, that little quirk of a grin with her words. Those big, gorgeous eyes. She was exactly every inch of what he'd dreamed, down to the freckles against her skin. It was a little mind bending that something could be so close to a mind's image and be real.
His tongue ran along the roof of his mouth. "Do you always drift from place to place, or do you actually stay put?" he said rather insensitively, finding out what kind of girl she was by her answers and the way she looked at him in return.
"I stayed in one place for a long, long time," she said quietly. "My husband had disappeared through no choice of his own, and I didn't want to leave, just in case he came back. But too much time passed for me to think he was coming back, so I left to look for him. I'm very stubborn when it comes to him." She grinned mischievously. "I wasn't about to let him get away so easily."
She leaned back in the booth a bit, stretching out. "But I've put down roots here, so here is where I'll stay, for the foreseeable future, at any rate. My parents are here, and my brother and sister too. Here is home."
"Ah. So you're the kind of married woman that talks to complete strangers, good one." That left a bad taste in his mouth, so he pushed the cider back. He wasn't being nasty in his comment, just slightly off-put and not sure why. It wasn't his place. She was only a figment of his imagination.
But he wanted her.
Holden leaned back in his chair, arm stretched on the table. If only he could remember. She was looking at him in a way that wasn't just a happy coincidence.
She shrugged. "If he surfaces again, I will inform him. I don't like keeping secrets from him. Besides, I can take care of myself. Don't let the skinny frame fool you." She smiled, but it was starting to feel a little strained. She knew he hadn't meant to be mean, but she was still a little hurt by his abrupt judgment.
She leaned back in the booth, closing her eyes and sighing. And only five minutes ago she'd been so pleased he was here. Now all she wanted to do was go home and curl up in bed.
"You talk as of he's been missing," as if she had been around a longer time than her soft features indicated. There had been an interest that was tested at the talk of her husband. She obviously cared about him.
At that soft smile she gave he could see the tension. "I am sorry," he shook his head, "I spoke out of line." He wasn't heartless, just strong in his ways.
"He is," she said, staring into her cup. "For a few years now. Still, I believe he's out there somewhere. And if he's not...," she trailed off. "Well, better to believe that he is, I think."
She waved a hand. "It's fine. I've heard much worse from my father. That man has the sharpest tongue in all the seven seas."
There was hurt in her voice, something he didn't intend to do. Unconsciously, his hand moved out to the middle of the table, not quite touching her hand but giving off some warmth.
"It wasn't my place."
She basked in the feeling of that warmth, remembering when he gave off a feeling like that all the time. On instinct, she placed her hand on top of his and squeezed. "Honestly, it's fine. Don't worry about it. I made peace with my life as is a long time ago, I cannot simply stop the world because I don't want to face it. I had to get tough and grow up." She snickered. "Father helped with that. Sometimes I felt like my family's motto was 'Eat or be eaten'."
He wanted to comfort her, though she was far from frail. There was that unspoken desire to hold her. Her hand squeezed his and that warmth radiated to her, like a blanket wrapped around her.
He saw her face in his mind, smiling, carefree by the ocean with her hand outstretched toward him.
"It's good to have strength. Then you can dictate you're own path without the world trying to step on you." It was painful again, to release her hand, so he didn't.