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Aetole Screamed

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Helena, first-born daughter, has been bringing her sister life for as long as they both have existed, so it is not such a big deal when she has to save her from the man in the shower. She follows Sarah. She isn't even sure what she plans to do. They are not on good terms. As far as Sarah knows, Helena was shot in the heart. By Sarah. 

Then she hears Sarah screaming. 

And Helena smites him dead. 

He and his little gun are amusing. Helena shoves it impatiently to the side and slashes his throat open. (Sarah wails.) He hits the ground with his knees, then topples onto his shoulder. His blood fountains in spurts. Helena leans over his body, spitting. 

Sarah's screams echo in Helena's ears. The walls cage them in. 

Helena melts against Sarah's body. She curls her arms up around Sarah's ribs. Their hearts, on opposite sides, match beats. She waits until Sarah's stiffness shudders into relief, bending her head so that her cheek touches Helena's hair, and only then does she reach up to cut down the zip-ties. Sarah drops into her arms. 

"Shh," Helena whispers. "It is alright, sister." 

Sarah clings. "You're not dead," she warbles in the way that children speak when their throat is full of tears. "Helena, you're alive."

"Mm-hmm." Helena thinks about stroking her hair, and decides against it. Sarah's ear is still leaking blood - Helena should fix that, first, and she does. She holds Sarah close with one hand, humming, and with the other, she presses her finger to the open vein where the hinge of the jaw begins. Sarah jerks. 

"NO - " she shouts. "Helena, don't touch me there, h-hurts - " 

Helena closes her eyes. 

When she draws her finger away, the skin is closed. Only a scar the color of the moon remains, and if anyone ever sees it, they will comment on the neat crescent of its shape. Sarah presses against Helena's neck. Her sobs roll out of her like avalanche snow, and Helena doesn't let go of her for a second. 

She never has. 

 ***

Sarah doesn't remember when she and Helena were born, which, Helena supposes, is the blessing of the younger twin. They had different names, when they were born, and Helena was born on the sixth day of the year. A day later, she pulled her sister forth from their mother and held her while she squalled. That is a recurring experience between the two of them. One screaming, one covered in blood. 

Sarah got the sun. Helena never minded that. Sarah deserves the sun. Sarah is the sun, as much as she thinks she isn't. She tried to share it with Helena, sometimes. 

"I don't want it," Helena insists, when they're both small. 

"Well, it's not fair that you only get the moon," Sarah would say, as if the moon is only anything. Helena prefers the moon. She prefers the night. She prefers the forest, prefers women, prefers animals, prefers babies, and those are what she asked for. 

They share only one thing. They are both superb archers. They grow into young goddesses with strong legs and keen eyes and they rarely leave each other's sides. Sarah's hair is dark, and always holds heat, crackling-warm to the touch; red tones glint underneath the brown, and in the pupils of her eyes. 

And Helena? 

Helena's pupils reflect only the night sky, and her hair gleams white - not red - when wet. Helena is cool blues everywhere Sarah is warm. They make perfect balance. 

 ***

Helena is young when she kills Actaeon, at least by godly standards. She is less young when she kills Henrik, but the way she feels. The anger. Her heart pounding like a fist against a locked door. That is the same. The feeling never changes. Other feelings fade as the time passes, but she can call up the rage of that moment whenever she desires, and live it again as furious and chilled as the first time. She hates it. She hates him. She would turn Henrik into a stag, too, and set his own hunters on him, but above all else Helena believes in poetic justice, so she does to him what he did to her, and then she burns down his farm. 

If her twin were here, she would be angry on Helena's behalf. All those years ago, after Actaeon, even after he was dead and ripped apart, Sarah raged. Helena remembers that. Sarah had the power of a god, then, and her hair had blown itself wild like the rays of her sun, the ends catching fire like candles. Light poured from the corners of her eyes and singed her lids. When she put her hands on Helena's shoulders, they were hot as anvils. 

"I'll bring him back, meathead. I'll kill him myself. Haul his arse out of Tartarus for you. I'll do it." 

Helena smiled, toothy. "Yes, she said. "I know." 

Now, she is running across the Canadian moor, and then she is waiting for a bus in the dark. No deer-drawn chariots for her, not anymore. No chariots, no huntresses, no priestesses, even, and no little girls who pray for protection, which is not to say that little girls don't want protection - they always have and always will  - but that it's no longer her they pray to. 

"What happened?" Sarah asks gently, in the tent. 

Helena looks away for a long moment. Sarah's assumptions of her thoughts couldn't be further from what they are. Helena, though Sarah doesn't know it and cannot know it, is thinking of the moment she found Actaeon looking at her, when she lifted her head from where her hair was drying on a rock and found a human hunter's eyes on her body. 

"I don't know." She tugs her hat down over her ears. "I had a fever." 

 ***

It is the eighties, and Sarah is tired of being a god. 

She is not only the sun. She is music. And this decade is one of her favorites. This one, and the sixties. 

There is a struggling English band called the Clash. Sarah is going to make them famous, she says, and then she is going to stop being the god of music and the sun. She decides she is going to stop being a god at all. 

"Why?" Helena rasps. 

"I don't wanna do it anymore." Sarah's eyes, rimmed in kohl, are uncharacteristically without light. "I'm tired, Helena." 

"I have been alive longer than you, and I am not tired." She swallows. 

"I'm tired of bein' jealous of them."

Helena licks her lips. "Jealous of what. They have nothing." 

"You don't get it, huh. Course you wouldn't." 

Helena spits. 

(Nice hair, man, someone tells her.) 

"I"m tired of fallin' in love with them," Sarah continues. "And I'm tired of watching them die. I don't want it anymore, you get it? I'm tired of watching them. I want to be them." Her voice grows raw. "You can't understand it until you know them like me, Helena. You can't." 

"But you cannot leave me." Helena can't stop blinking. "You cannot leave me alone." 

"You're my twin sister. I won't leave you." 

"You will not remember. No matter how hard you try. You will not remember." 

Helena has always known that she needs Sarah more than Sarah has ever needed her, and she feels it as sharply as a javelin wound when Sarah wraps her arms around Helena's neck. She doesn't move. She is trying not to cry. 

"I think you and me would always find each other," Sarah says. "In the end." 

 ***

In 2014, Sarah,  on the opposite side of a wall in a military prison in Mexico, sniffles and tells Helena about her little human daughter, Kira. 

Helena adores Kira. She doesn't blame her at all. 

Sarah says: I left my daughter, and I didn't come back for ten months.

Helena starts to cry, and thinks: You left me, and you are never going to come back until the world is over. 

 ***

Helena is a virgin. Ironically and appropriately, she is a goddess of childbirth and fertility, and pregnant girls came to her temple almost daily.  Perhaps it is that that draws her to Gracie Johanssen. 

She does not want the baby. Helena can smell it on her skin. 

Helena rests her hand on Gracie's belly, and plants the miscarriage inside of her. 

 ***

On the isle Delos, Artemis and Apollo curl together like twins in the womb, 

Artemis farts.