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He still could not fathom how they had been able to find one another in this new world; regardless of what had passed between them and how inextricably they were linked. It had been years, years, since he had been lucky enough to glimpse her; forever locked away from her on the orders of those outranking him. The years had been kind to her, much kinder to her than him. ‘Almost loving,’ he thought.

He was a disintegrating mess, practically decomposing where he stood. His suit, once the height of fashion, was now threadbare, worn out, and moth-eaten. His fine hair, originally a silky, crisp blond, was now greasy and caked with dirt, hanging in disarray around his face and tinged green. His shoes now sole less - much like he considered himself: soulless and forced to live on the fringe of society.

She was surely different from the mousey girl she had been when he had first met her. Wearing the old cast offs of her betters, hair cut by herself, supplies always secondhand. Now, her hair was sleek, pinned away from her face but allowed to gracefully cascade down her back. The dress she wore could have fed him for a month, maybe two if he were careful of his spending; this was completely disregarding her shoes and purse- the money spent on those had to have been obscene. Shaking his head and trying to keep her in his sights, he thought insolently, ‘Women are always so frivolous with stuff like that.’

Years ago, she had been quiet and shy- ripe for his special brand of torture, ahem, attention. He could still hear her screams for him to stop his torment of her friend, of her family. He had never directed his considerable energies toward her, only those around her. Those who dared to hurt her. Once upon a time, he saw himself as her defender. She had been his to protect, to defend from the world at large. He had done the best he could for her - until the night he lost her. Just once over the line was all it took for her to never summon him back, never again draw him under her spell. Just one misstep to be forever removed from her, locked in this hellscape: a place no other could enter, a place he could never leave unless his name slipped from her lips once more. And, oh, how he wanted that.

He longed for the way her mouth would form his name, no one else had ever made him feel so alive just by a whisper. He craved to hear her beg for him to appear before her. He wanted to listen to her plead for him to stop, once more. So, despite the warnings and the dire threats of harm, he follows her down the busy street, keeping enough distance to avoid drawing her attention. ‘Just in case she decides to summon help,’ he tells himself. Since that night, he wanted to be close to her, just once more. The gulf between them these past years had been so wide, so immense. He believed Juno when she told him he had lost the girl forever, when Juno shut him away from the others in this Neitherworld.

His brain was now looking for a way to have her breach the walls built to contain him, contain his essence, and unlock her secrets. Time was, he had known everything about her; he craved the closeness again. The way they had crossed the boundaries between their worlds like children hopping fences- swiftly and without thought. If he focused hard enough, he could recall the charm she had used so simply…

He glanced up in time to see her turn sharply down an alleyway he did not recognize. Peaking around the corner, he dipped into the shadows provided by the buildings. It took a moment for his eyes to find her in the dimmed light, and he was not prepared for hers to be trained upon where he stood. It was small comfort as he recalled she, like those in the street, were unable to see him. According to his jailer, no one native to this plane could see him- another part of his punishment. However, as her eyes narrowed in on him and for the first time in years, he remembered what fear felt like. The intensity of her gaze gave him pause, because how could she focus on something that was not there? Repeating to himself that he was essentially invisible, he made to step toward her when her voice brought him up short.

“Hello, Beej. I always wondered when we’d meet again.”