Leonie proves to be something, but Archie's competitive side is dominating and he is convinced that she is under Cronus' control. A rematch is called to prove her innocence--a rematch that ends in ...
I seriously did not expect any more than 1 review for my previous chapter. I got three polite (and very encouraging) ones! It was more than I ever dreamed of. Anyway here's the second chappie! Sorry it took so long to update but I had a three-day school camp smack bang in the middle of it all so...extra long chapter! Well over three and a half thousand words.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Titans. What in the wide world gave you the idea that I might? Gives you a strange look
I do, however, own this story. The stealing of it and posting it on another site is not appreciated and will most likely result in a fight between you and my Auntie's Doberman. The new character, Leonie, also belongs to me (in more ways than you can imagine). I forgot about that in my previous post. (=)
There was a short sprinting ground, only about 50 feet long, followed by a silvery tube that we were obviously supposed to crawl through. Then onto the weave poles, they were only set about a foot apart and I knew we would need much dexterity to get through those quickly. Then there was a heap of wooden stumps in the ground, just wide enough to step upon. After that there was a small field with a heap of small odd-looking objects, weird gadgets and gizmos and little robotic things. Then there was a set of about 20 stairs, and a steep drop on the other side. It seemed to end there, as I couldn't see anything on the other side of it. I shrugged and took the baton from Aries with a word of thanks.
"Okay guys. Here's the sequence. The fifty feet of ground are for sprinting, you crawl through the tube, the weave poles are normal weave poles--you, well, weave through them. The wooden stumps are for hopping over. You step on them and make your way across to the gadgets..." Here Aries smiled and pressed a button on a remote in his hand. "Well you run through and around them...but there is a twist like none other..."and the...things...started moving! The little robots whizzed across the ground making that particular section look like a milling sea of metallic fish, ready to hop across your path and trip you... "You go up the stairs and hop down the other side. There is something on the other side, but I'm not going to tell you what it is. Then you come back again the same way. The following racer must not burst from behind the line until you give them the baton! Now." He dashed a safe distance away and put a whistle to his mouth.
I felt adrenaline pulse through my muscles. I crouched down and tensed as Aries called "Set!". I allowed myself one glance at Atlanta who was also crouching and tensing.
The whistle howled a really bad tune to the air and we were off, at first more to get away from that awful sound than anything else. Atlanta quickly pulled ahead as we raced to the tunnel, but I began to gain on her as we dodged in and out of the weave poles. I zigzagged ahead and leapt for the first wooden stump, felt it hit the sole of my foot and quickly sprang for the next stump. I flung my legs out one after the other, taking as long steps as possible and as we approached the moving robotic things, Atlanta and I were neck and neck.
I raced through the gadgets. Gadget in from of me! I dodged right. Gadget coming up the side! I dodged left. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Atlanta being cut off by the robots more often than not. I grinned--tough luck, Atlanta.
Soon I was through the little things and was taking the stairs three at a time. I leapt down the other side, gently adjusting my knees to act like shock absorbers, and saw a thin wooden beam we were obviously supposed to run over without falling off. I gulped, I hated the feeling that one wrong step will send you hurtling to your doom; nevertheless, I hopped up and was halfway across by the time Atlanta had reached me. She was more confident at balancing that I was, but all the same, I had opened up too much of a lead on her to fix until we got to the end of the beams and reached another 50-foot sprinting ground. Well, you can imagine what happened next, I wouldn't need to describe it. The point is that she managed to gain enough on me to slam the baton into Archie's eager hand about ten seconds before I passed mine to Leonie. The result being Archie was already halfway across the sprint by the time she had exploded like bottle-up-and-shaken soda from behind the starting line.
I groaned inwardly. She would probably finish like two minutes after Archie had. All of us had seen Archie in action, and all of us knew he was a tough opponent. Sure enough, she didn't seem to be gaining on him anytime soon as they approached the tube.
Zoom. She was through the tube faster than I would have thought possible, determination gleaming through her black eyes as clearly as the sun on a cloudless afternoon.
Zip-zip-zip-zip-zip. She wove through the poles like she had been doing it all her life. Only the slight tremble of the springy poles left after her showed she had actually dodged through them, and had not simply ran alongside them.
By then she had gained on Archie quite a bit. Six pairs of stunned eyes followed heir every move as Leonie achieved the impossible, her long legs putting her at a definite advantage as she and Archie leapt over the stumps. She seemed to be bursting with spring, leaping as though she had wings on her feet, as the stumps she briefly touched seemed to burn away at her determination.
She had something to prove, I realised. She was giving it a hundred and fifty percent because she had to prove she wasn't a useless nerd. She had to prove she had more in her than all the dictionary meaning of every word in the universe, that she could do more than get full marks on every test she took...
Whereas Archie did not.
We all knew how good a warrior he was. Once we knew, we knew, and no matter how much he tried, he could not do better (or worse) that a hundred percent. He had no need to prove himself as we all already knew; and until Leonie had made sure we all knew what she was made of, he had no hope of beating her.
I was not the only one who had realised this. Odie's super brain had figured it out too, Jay looked like he had just been given the answers to every test he had coming up, and even Herry looked like he was onto something.
They disappeared over the stairs, Leonie surging up smoothly and powerfully until she reached the top, Archie leaping up in one fluid movement that looked as though he had jumped the entire flight of stairs. Ten suspenseful seconds passed as we waited with baited breath-and when they leapt over the top, Archie and Leonie were neck and neck!
Even though I knew the cause of this, I could not help but let out a small but audible gasp. No one had ever beaten Archie on an agility course for even a second before!
By now everyone had worked it out (except Neil who was still admiring his gorgeous self in his mirror), and everyone knew why Leonie was so eager to beat Archie. All of us were silently egging Leonie on, so that we could go back to loving Archie in peace (and totally ignoring her).
She drew ahead by an inch or so! Everyone held his or her breath.
She drew ahead by another inch! Everyone was still raging a silent breath-holding war.
She was ahead by half a foot! The war ended.
Her willpower was so strong it was almost visible. A great golden creature howled an almighty roar to the sky. (Or rather, ceiling.) And through it all, Leonie was running, running, racing across the sprint to slap the baton into Jay's hand.
She had finished two feet ahead of Archie.
Archie gave the baton to Neil with a furious look in his eye. He did not take losing very well; this was obvious by the way he breathed like he had run a mile and the murderously indignant look etched in every inch of the finely honed features that Atlanta SHOULD have loved so much. (Author's note: I know, I know, disgusting. But come on! The whole team heard Archie's affections toward Atlanta in The Nature of Things.)
"All right! Oh yeah! I rock!" Leonie crowed. Head held high, mouth firmly closed, nostrils flaring as her eyes widened in excitement. The golden determination monster faded away into nothingness. Then she turned to look nervously at Archie.
"No hard feelings, mate?"
I blinked. I could detect no hint of sarcasm or teasing in her tone; it was genuinely apologetic. Why should someone like her be apologetic for beating the pants off someone else? I shook my head. This Leonie was /weird/.
The rest of the races passed without a hitch. We lost, by what Aries said was an inch, but what I swore was half a millimetre. As the tired but elated team trekked back to the brownstone, I glanced at Leonie. She was a complex person that I felt I needed to delve further into.
Back at the dorm Neil typically claimed first usage of the bathroom, Herry headed to the kitchen for a snack, Jay began reading over his notes on tracking Cronus, Atlanta immediately began to argue with Archie (who still looked shocked and furious) about the use of bows and arrows compared to whips. Odie logged into his computer, but for once he couldn't seem to concentrate. He kept stealing glances at something or other, but whenever we looked at him, he was staring at the computer screen again. I sat down next to Jay on the sofa and he twitched nervously before looking and grinning his killer smile. I felt my insides squish like a bag of ice cream in the middle of summer. And they say girls have their pick over the boys. Like we don't have any problem with ditching or rejecting any guy we like...whoever set that philosophy is obviously not a girl!
When Herry came back he put on a movie. It was really funny and nobody noticed when Neil joined us toward the end of the show. Leonie slipped out undetected and when the movie ended five minutes later, leaving us all in fits of laughter, she was of course still somewhere else.
By then it was about six thirty. Jay smiled tentatively at me, I grinned back; his deep brown eyes held an expression of purest love-
We were interrupted of our moment by Atlanta's saying "So. Leonie. What do you guys think?"
"She's all right," Herry shrugged.
"Pretty fast." Atlanta stroked her chin. "Hey, you know how Aries said she could turn into different animals? Well, maybe she could help me with my training! Getting used to tracking by smell, deer, foxes, and then I could race her as a cheetah--"
"Nah, she had to touch them first remember, and how the hell she's going to get close enough to game animals to touch them I don't know. And cheetahs too--sheesh, how many people have touched cheetahs and lived to tell the tale--?" Odie argued.
"But remember, she can charm and control them, so if she can find one she can touch it. Hey, maybe we can get her to control Cronus, I reckon he counts as an animal enough--" Jay said.
"I've always wanted a dog, a Cocker Spaniel or something--" I grinned.
"No, Alaskan Huskies are faster," Atlanta argued.
"But Border Collies are more intelligent," Odie debated.
"I say a good sensible crossbreed," said Jay.
"I always liked poodles," said Herry.
"SHUT UP GUYS!!! Can't you see! Leonie is probably under Cronus's control!" yelled Archie suddenly.
We all stared at him.
"I reckon Leonie's under Cronus's control," he repeated. "Didn't you see how good she was over the set-up today? She even beat me! How can someone beat me over an agility course, unless he or she had the powers of an evil god behind him or her?"
"She had something to prove, Archie," I said calmly. "I mean, we all took her for some random weirdo, some good for nothing nerd. Even I did, I admit it. You didn't see her eyes, if you had, you would have known."
"Yeah. And anyway, she had a pendant, like all of us. She has to be one of us somehow. Cronus can't possibly have any control over her--that performance out there was a fluke," Jay added.
"Besides, the gods approved of her--they wouldn't've accepted anyone even slightly evil into the academy," Odie said.
"You're just upset 'cause she's nimbler than you are," Atlanta teased.
"No, I'm not!" said Archie hotly. "I just want to make sure she doesn't threaten our team's safety! I mean, an evil girl sitting with our group is hardly what you'd call comforta--"
Well, if you doubt her that much, go and call her for a rematch!' Atlanta cried.
"Fine then, I will, and when she beats me cleanly by fifty feet you'll know--"
"Shhhhh!! Here she comes now--you can ask her--!"
Leonie walked into the room. She was dress differently, and much better too. She was wearing a blue t-shirt with white sleeves (not that we could see it), jeans and a blue jacket. She also had on black Mary Janes--except they were leather not plastic--over white socks. I cocked an eyebrow. So she did have more fashion sense than we'd first thought. She looked quite nice actually. And the black shoes bought out the gleam of her black hair and the deepness of her dark eyes.
"I went up to unpack," she said. "I have the spare room closest to the bathroom...and to change. Urgh, even I can figure out what colours look good together! I may have the fashion sense of an echidna but even I know those clothes I had on just then were dead meat material. I didn't have any other clothes when I arrived," she explained, at our questioning looks. "I, um...the clothes I had on just when I got the call--just when I got here were suitable to go to a cocktail party, but not suitable for training, so the gods lent me some things because my luggage hadn't arrived yet...it's really a stroke of luck I got here, the course was really fun and I got to miss the stupid cocktail party that my mother--" she broke off, he dark eyes glazing over and becoming all the darker. Looking closer, I was shocked to find that her long lashes were dotted with tears.
She shook her head.
"Um...Leonie? Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," she said, blinking the drops away and nodding to emphasise the point. "Well," she said cheerily, "what's for dinner?"
"Don't try to cover up the plot with your false cheerful sayings," Archie growled.
She blinked. "Plot? Why would I want to cover up the plot of my story with happy words?" she looked genuinely confused.
"Don't play dumb with me, we know what you really are," Archie barked. "How long until you pull out the dagger to act your master's plans?"
"What?" She looked really confused.
"Don't you what me! Your master!" he yelled. "And just so you know, we don't intend to let you kill us anytime soon!"
She was looking more and more bewildered. "But I don't want to kill you. I told you I didn't like hurting people." She stared at Archie, who had stood up and was shaking a fist in her direction, in shock.
"Don't play the innocent girl with me! You're under Cronus's control!" Archie fairly screamed at her.
I groaned. I always knew he was tactless but this was taking it to the extreme!
"Cronus?" she stared at him all the more.
"Yeah, Cronus! And if you want us to believe that rot about you being innocent, you'll get out there on the agility course and prove it!!"
Leonie looked at him a little more. "Are you feeling all right?" She reached out a hand to feel his forehead.
He slapped her away. "Don't touch me, you freak!"
She drew back, the hurt gleaming from her eyes so strongly I was surprised Archie didn't burn up. I certainly was, inside at any rate.
"Have you ever been called a freak?" she asked him, her voice steady.
"No," he sneered, "but I've never been under Cronus's control either."
"When you've been called a freak as many times as I've been, you find a whole new meaning in it," she said quietly. "It doesn't mean one person thinks you're weird--it takes upon the form of banishment...of rejection...when you're rejected by the world," she added, "you don't live. You don't have a reason to go on anymore...hated by every living been! You are eaten away by a burning desire to prove yourself. When you've experienced that, seen the world through a reject's eyes...you'll know why you lost."
She paused. The room was very quiet.
"You want a rematch," she said calmly. "Fair enough. Meet you in arena B tomorrow at four. Don't be late if you're going to come at all." She looked into his eyes. "But come only should you wish to be injured...fate is against you, it seems."
She looked away. Archie's chin was gently resting on the floor. The silence rendered me deaf for life, which was probably a good thing as I didn't have to listen to Archie singing in the shower anymore.
"Now, what's for dinner?"
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. Leonie was just WEIRD.
"Ready," Jay called out.
Leonie and Archie crouched, tensed, eyed each other...
Usually it would be Atlanta out there beside him, muscles bunching, ready to release them into the race. But instead of a flame of spiked red hair sticking out behind her, a sheet of inky black hair spilled over her shoulders; instead of the gleam of two pairs of loop earrings chucking light at you, blue rimmed glasses did; instead of Atlanta crouching there, it was Leonie.
"GO!!" Jay hollered.
Both exploded out from behind the starting line. They were neck and neck at the sprint...and then...Archie drew ahead by an inch.
It couldn't have been clearer that she was trying her best. I smiled to myself. A hundred percent. Her BEST. Her best wasn't enough to beat Archie, not by a long shot. Her better-than-best might be, but definitely not her BEST.
Through the tube; through the poles. Archie was five feet ahead and the confusion was clear, etched into his features. They were hopping over the stumps when it happened.
Archie's foot, the one with the weak heel, had reached forward too far. As he drew it back, his heel slammed into the sharp edge of the wooden stump. His weak heel banged into the sharp, hard edge of the stump.
He yelled out in pain and his leg went limp. It slid down the stump and before any of us knew what was happening, he was lying in between the stumps, his head sliding down one and his leg propped on another.
Quick as a flash Leonie was beside him, gently lifting his head and brushing her hand over his hair. We all looked on in horror, frozen where we stood.
Then she said two words. Two plain and simple words that bought us all running as fast as we could to his side.
DUN DUN DUN!!! So, what's going to happen to Archie? You'll have to wait to find out! Again, I will be very unwilling to update unless I have at least one review. I'm going at the 50 mark by the time I finish, as there are going to be heaps more I don't think that too much of a requirement. Please review, and if you can be bothered take the time to rate as well. See, Leonie does have fashion sense!! XD Neil does not have any right to call her a freak.