Gabby explains her apology to me and I nod, more to myself, since she’s looking down at her skirt.
‘Thank you.’ I manage to choke out. I didn’t realise someone could be so... so blind! How could she not have noticed how much I hated this?!
I let my thoughts simmer away and end up sitting there seething to myself. She glances up at me, her eyes kinda puffy from holding back the tears and some of the anger melts away. I sigh to myself and poke her in the arm.
‘Cheer up. Might as well. Both of us might as well. We’re stuck with it.’ I say, trying to sound at least half cheerful. I fail, but I tried at least.
Alice wakes up and pulls herself closer to me, asking questions, but I don’t answer. I’m feeling weak and while she was asleep, my glamour melted away completely. I brought it back after much effort, but I feel so drained.
Everything hurts, I’m feeling a tirade of things I haven’t experienced before, the pain, a hunger for something that isn’t suffering, and this weakness, a tiredness that in all my millennia... I’ve never felt like this before. I groan softly as my chest feels as though it is contracting, the dull ache growing and releasing. It grips me several times and finally gets into rhythm, the pain of it fading slowly.
‘Jet... You...you, sorry,’ she stops as I give her a severe look. ‘Sir. You have a heartbeat.’ She finishes her sentence. Her necklace is dissolving, I notice. I close my eyes, tired. Forcing them open, I take a deep breath in, as though I’ve just been pulled out of a lake in which I was drowning. My chest rises and falls quickly as I draw in the air around me suddenly desperate, my head swimming.
‘No.’ I say, clenching my teeth. I can’t have a heartbeat, but I know even as I try to deny it, that the thumping behind my ribs is a beating heart. I feel the underworld slipping away, and though I know it’s not moved any further away, I’m unable to feel it. ‘No.’
My eyes widen and I begin to panic. I’m human again. Human.
‘Nuh-uh.’ I still try to deny the change. I put a hand to my chest, trying to stop the changes spreading through my body, but I can’t stop anything. Alice slips her hand under mine, her cold fingers pushing against the thin material separating my warming flesh from her chill body. I drop my hand, pulling hers with mine.
‘Your hand is so cold.’ I gasp. Her fingers wrap around mine, and I shiver. My own servant is stronger than me, now.