Sasha was unconscious, practically dead from that invisible monstrosity that had attacked her. Even though it didn’t manage to kill her, the chill of Rome that permeated through everything was still giving it a good go, trying to take her from them.
Azu peeled off the few bits of her armor that she’d managed to don and pulled Sasha in close. She couldn’t heal her, couldn’t pray, so holding her tight was the best she could manage.
“Please, please, be okay,” she breathed against Sasha’s temple, even though she couldn’t hear it. The words were half for herself and half a prayer she hoped would sneak through the gaps and reach Aphrodite.
The fact that Sasha couldn’t even resist the physical contact, but instead lay motionless on the hard dirt floor, sent pangs of despair down Azu’s spine. She had to be okay. She had to.
Even if she couldn’t reach her god, Azu held onto the replica Heart of Aphrodite that Erin Fairhands had given her. Had it really only been a matter of days since Cairo, since joining up with this group, since becoming a family? It felt like years. Holding Sasha in her arms, Azu didn’t care about how long she had known them, only that she couldn’t bear to lose them.
After examining the pendant in her hand for a few moments, looking over the fine etchings that decorated its surface, Azu slipped it off and then placed it around Sasha’s neck, tucking it gently inside the outer flap of her jacket. It was silly, and Azu knew that, but she couldn’t just lay there helplessly and hope. Even if Aphrodite couldn’t reach them, or Azu’s prayers couldn’t be heard, maybe that token would be enough to help Sasha stave off the darkness. The real one had brought her back to life; maybe this one would keep her alive.
“You’re going to be okay,” Azu whispered, demanding it of the universe. “You’re going to be okay.”
Sasha had noticed the amulet around her neck the moment she woke up, but she never had the chance to say anything while fending off Roman monsters and searching for their captured family members. If Azu had given it to her, then it was important, right? There would be time later.
But there wasn’t time. Sasha and Grizzop were lost to the past, and now Sasha was alone.
Sitting on the roof of an abandoned villa a few days walk from what was once the bustling city of Rome, now a crater of evil, Sasha pulled the heart-shaped pendant out from where she’d kept it safely tucked inside her jacket and ran her fingers over the etchings.
“Please, be okay,” she whispered into the air, fighting against tears. “Please, let her be okay. She has to be. And Hamid too, but…”
She looked over the Heart. If only there had been more time, maybe she would’ve told Azu? Maybe they could have…?
It didn’t matter now. Azu was two thousand years away, and Sasha was alone.
Holding the pendant in her hands and closing her eyes, though, she could almost pretend that Azu was still there, ready to brush her tears away and smile despite all the evil they faced.
Even if nothing else, maybe that memory could span the decades.
Maybe Sasha wasn’t as alone as she thought.