What happens when the one you hated becomes the thing you cherish the most? And what was once desired is left forgotten?
A New Twist
Chapter The First
Archie growled in frustration, slamming his locker shut as Atlanta walked down the hall, deep in discussion with her new boyfriend. It was like Pan all over again, only this time Cronus had nothing to do with it. New guy came along, asked her out before Archie had the chance to, again. All because he was chicken shit about losing her, or ruining their relationship. He snorted in annoyance, falling back against the lockers. Now he had lost her, and he had a feeling their relationship wouldn't stay the same. All because you're a fucking idiot Archie, he thought venomously, hand swinging back to punch the locker.
Theresa glanced at him as she opened her locker next to him, then glanced down the hall at Atlanta. She sighed and shoved her books onto the shelf. Looked like she and Archie were in the same boat. Not that Jay had a girlfriend, oh no, not Jay. Not their over serious, we-must-defeat-Cronus-no-matter-what, leader Jay. He wouldn't have time for one, of course. Nor would he bother to notice that maybe, just maybe, there was somebody interested in him. Specifically her. She frowned as he walked towards them, a girl next to him. Meryl, from his Family Studies class. They were doing parenting and the two had been assigned together. Her frown deepened as they laughed, Meryl holding the fake plastic baby doll. Just because he didn't have time for a girlfriend didn't mean he didn't flirt like any other boy.
Archie glanced down at her as she slammed her locker, following her line of vision. Great, I'm not the only one pissed off, he thought sarcastically, glaring down at the floor. Theresa huffed in annoyance beside him as Meryl walked off to her next class, Jay coming to join them.
"Hey guys. What's up?" he asked cheerfully, blissfully unaware of the surging emotions hidden behind their calm exteriors. Theresa fought the urge to glare at him, and put on a blank face as she greeted him.
"Hey Jay. We were just on our way to class. Don't want to be late, right Arch?" she asked calmly, glancing back at the sullen boy, an eyebrow raised in expectation. He smirked back at them and shoved off his locker, books under one arm.
"Course not Theresa, wouldn't wanna damage our perfect attendance now would we?" he snorted, turning to leave. "See ya later Jay."
Their walk was silent as both were lost in their own thoughts, mulling over days passed and hopes lost. Twin sighs escaped them, and Theresa gave Archie a rueful glance, earning a grim half smirk in return, a brief glimmer of heartache in his eyes. It disappeared as quickly as it came though, his gaze returning to the floor in front of him as they reached their classroom, quietly going to their seats next to each other. They were taking Family Studies that semester as well, with Neil in their class too.
Class started, continuing as it normally did, not that either Theresa or Archie noticed what was happening, both too lost in thought. Archie sighed quietly, eyes focused on his sketchbook and the half completed drawing of Atlanta he had started earlier in the week. He found now that he couldn't bring himself to finish it, but he couldn't rip it apart either, much as he was tempted to. He scowled at the charcoal face of his best friend, wanting to be angry with her, angry that it wasn't him who had her wrapped in his arms, receiving that warm gaze and a sweet kiss. But he couldn't be. Who was he to deny her happiness, even if he wasn't the one bringing it to her?
Theresa leaned on her desk, cheek in hand, staring blankly at Neil's head in front of her. What was it about Jay that had attracted her in the first place anyways? She thought. Sure he was good looking. But hell, if that was all she wanted, she may as well go after the descendant of Narcissus. But what else. Maybe it was the fact that he was responsible. A charming quality in someone their age, undoubtedly, at least from her female perspective. Was it enough though? She needed someone who could challenge her, push her to the edge, but pull her back before she could fall. And she wanted Jay to be that someone.
"Archie and Theresa." Their teacher's voice broke them both out of wandering thoughts, flushing guiltily, eyes darting frantically to each others. Were they caught daydreaming? Damn, thought Archie. Just what we need.
"Congratulations on your nuptials. Will one of you please take the assignment folder," the teacher continued in a bored tone, motioning to the front desk. Theresa let out the breath she had been holding and stood to retrieve the folder. She had forgotten that they would be starting the "marriage" part of class that day. She raised an eyebrow as she walked back to her desk. Great, she thought, me and Archie, married. Oh joy. She glanced down at his desk, noticing the open sketchbook, and the charcoal drawing of Atlanta, and frowned slightly.
Archie noticed her glance, and shut the book roughly, Theresa's eyes shooting up to meet his. They stared for a moment, his eyes fierce and wounded, hers cool and searching. Her eyes softened and she looked away, opening their folder quietly to start their assignment. Neil turned around in his seat and smirked at the two.
"Man, I can't believe the two of you got stuck together. You can't even stand working in groups together, how are you going to manage a marriage?" he remarked snidely, earning twin glares from the two. Archie threw a wadded up ball of paper at his face, Neil shrieking and ducking.
"Shut up Neil. It's a fake marriage first of all, and it's only for the next few weeks. I'm sure I'll live," Archie snorted. "Even if I am paired with the resident drama queen."
"You know, you're no picnic either Arch," Theresa sighed, rubbing her temples. She could feel a migraine coming on already. She passed him a worksheet and pulled out a pen. "Let's just get this over with, and then we can both go back to our own little worlds in which we don't piss each other off, okay?"
"What fantasy world are you living in Theresa?" Archie scoffed, shaking his head. " 'Cause I don't think it exists."
"Archie..." she growled warningly, shooting him an annoyed look. "Honestly, you make it sound like we do nothing but fight, which isn't true. It is possible for us to get along, if we try."
"Key word being 'try', Theresa, and I'm really not in the mood," he smirked, still glaring at the redhead currently annoying him. What was it with the redheads in his life and pissing him off?
"Well I don't really give a shit what kind of mood you're in, we have a project to work on together, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you mess it up," she snarled at the purple haired object of her frustration. He leaned over to her, his fierce gaze burning into hers. She held his gaze with a glare of her own, unwilling to look away and give him the satisfaction of having any power over her. The glaring continued, noses inches away from each other. A sudden cough broke their concentration and their heads whipped around to face Neil. He gave them an amused look and raised an eyebrow.
"Gee, you guys are managing so well already," he snickered. Theresa sighed in defeat and let her head fall to the desktop with a satisfying 'thunk', hair enshrouding her, hiding her face from the boys, for which she was grateful. Her nose wrinkled, tears of frustration and pain clouding her eyes. She desperately tried to blink them away, annoyed that they had even appeared in the first place. Tumultuous thoughts swirled in her mind, thoughts of frustration, of anger, with an overwhelming urge to simply scream at the world. Between her unresolved feelings for the ever oblivious Jay, and Archie taking out his frustration on her, she had a feeling the next few weeks were not going to be pleasant. She sniffled lightly, reaching a hand up to wipe away a stray tear. Shaking her head at herself, Theresa sat up, blinking wearily at the page in front of her, grabbing a pen almost listlessly.
Archie glanced over at her and blinked, noticing her glassy eyes and the way she rubbed her cheek. What the-Aw shit, I made her cry? Great, Archie thought sourly, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. Now she's probably gonna tell Jay or Atlanta, and then I'm gonna get yelled at for making a girl cry...good thing my mother's not here. He kept his eyes trained on her, facing forward so she wouldn't notice his staring. He watched as she stared down at the page in front of her, and wondered if she was even seeing it. He narrowed his eyes. She's out of it, he thought, as another tear rolled down a fair cheek, unnoticed by its owner. Archie nibbled his lower lip, wondering if he should say something. Like what Arch? Apologize to her? Like she wasn't being a bitch too, he thought, still watching her.
She sighed suddenly, covering her eyes briefly with one hand. Reaching down to her purse, she swiftly retrieved a small bottle and removed two green pills from the inside. She tossed it back in her purse and downed the pills in one gulp. Archie blinked again as Theresa leaned back in her seat, eyes closed, fingers pinching the bridge of her nose. He glanced back at his desk, and then to her once more. He leaned over slightly.
"Hey. You okay?" he asked quietly, not wanting Neil to bother them again. Theresa cracked open one eye to look at him and, sighing, nodded. Both eyes opened and she turned to face him, wanting to just work on their project. "You sure?"
"Yes Archie, I'll be fine. Let's just get this started okay?" she said through clenched teeth, willing herself not to just bolt out of her seat to seek the cool reassurance and comfort of someplace dark. Surprisingly, Archie decided not to argue with her anymore, and the remainder of class was spent quietly working on their "marriage". When the bell finally rang, Archie couldn't help but notice the shudder that ran through Theresa's small frame, or the grimace of pain still lingering on her face. He followed as she swiftly made her way through the halls to their lockers, wondering just what her problem was. At least she's not being her usual drama queen self, he thought thankfully. Still...it's not like her to hide stuff...added to the fact that she wasn't making it all seem like some big deal...Weird. He decided to himself that he would solve this riddle before the day was out. Unfortunately when he looked over at Theresa's locker again it was closed and she was halfway down the hall, headed in the opposite direction of the cafeteria.
"Hey Arch. What's wrong with Theresa? You didn't make her angry again did you?" Herry asked in concern, small frown on his face. Archie shook his head and slammed his locker shut.
"Dunno Herry. Catch ya later," he said, taking off after Theresa. He was determined to find out what was up with her. He followed stealthily behind her and was intrigued to see her dart into the library. Exactly where he had been planning to go for lunch, sick of seeing Atlanta and Damien (her boyfriend) together anymore than necessary. She went straight to the very back, losing herself amongst the dark recesses of shelves and antiquated books. Nobody ever went back there, so she was sure she would be left in peace. Settling down into a chair, she pulled her feet up underneath her, allowing her head to sink down softly, hair swinging forward. Finally she let the tears fall from her eyes, a silent cascade of pain. No thoughts swirled through her mind now; they were far too loud.
"You're in my spot ya know." Theresa's head snapped up and Archie blinked in shock. She was crying. Badly. Tears streamed unchecked down pale cheeks, eyes hazed over and unfocused. He sat, unsettled, across from her and gave a worried look. Her face was paler than normal, dark circles hinting under her eyes. "Damn Theresa, what's wrong? You obviously aren't fine, so don't try giving me that crap again."
"And you care because?" she spat, voice strangled and thick as she closed her eyes once more. Stupid Archie, ruining her peace and quiet.
"Look, I'm sorry about earlier. I'm just pissed off right now. I'm also, ya know... your friend, so...I'm kinda...worried about you. You don't strike me as the secret keeping, pill popping type," he smirked uneasily. She raised her head slightly to look at him, watching him watching her with that steady gaze. She sighed and laid her head down on the cool wood of the table. She would never understand Archie. One minute he's the bane of her existence, pissing her off like no other...well, maybe except for Neil....and the next he was following after her to make sure she was okay, while nobody else noticed.
"I have a migraine alright?" she whispered mournfully, small hands clenched next to her cheek.
"Oh," was his only reply.
"Yes, now can you please leave me alone in my misery?" she trembled, black spots impeding her vision. She felt relieved when she heard his chair move back, thankful he was actually listening for once. She closed her eyes gratefully and sighed. Two seconds later, a frown was once again on her face as Archie laughed quietly.
"There's my drama queen. Like I said, you had me worried," he murmured, taking a seat next to her. She was about to snap at him when she felt cool fingers rubbing her temples. Her eyes fluttered open in confusion, and she sat up slowly, his fingers never leaving her. She gave him a curious look, eyes silently asking her question for her. He flushed, grateful they were alone and it was dark.
"My mom used to get migraines too," he shrugged, not caring to explain further. Theresa smiled softly and leaned into his cool hands, eyes closing once more, letting the pain slowly fade. "You get them a lot?"
"Not really, no. They just started lately and never usually this bad. I guess I've just been really frustrated, ya know?" she mumbled, leaning closer.
"Jay?" he guessed, earning a small nod and a sniffle from the girl in his hands. "Ya, I guess I do know. Have to say, never thought I'd ever admit to having something in common with you though."
"Aside from the fact that we're both really redheads? Same here," Theresa laughed lightly, wiping away a few stray tears. Archie had to smile, glad she was no longer crying. Even if Theresa annoyed him to no end, he couldn't stand seeing a girl cry. They stayed quiet for a few minutes, mulling over separate thoughts as Archie continued to gently rub her temples.
"I could hit him for ya, if you want. Really hard too," Archie suggested, earning a real laugh from Theresa. The pretty girl sat up straight, eyes opening and she gave him a bright smile, a trace of fatigue in her otherwise twinkling eyes.
"Aww, when did you get so sweet Arch?" she teased quietly. He leaned back with a smirk, arms folded across his chest.
"Yeah, yeah, just don't go telling anyone, alright?" he asked plaintively. "I don't want to ruin my reputation."
"Of what? Being a jackass?" she retorted.
"What else?" he grinned smugly. She shook her head and leaned back in her chair, the once throbbing migraine now just a dull ache behind her eyes. She yawned as she regarded Archie with half-lidded eyes, curious as to why he had felt compelled to make her feel better. Not that she was complaining. It was nice to have someone to do that. She frowned. She just wished it would have been Jay, that maybe he would come to his senses as far as she was concerned. A sudden thought came to her, her insides twisting in cold agony.
"Maybe he just doesn't feel the same way," she whispered, eyes filling with tears again. Archie looked up from the book he had grabbed, nose wrinkling in confusion. She was crying again? Why?
"You thinking about Jay again?" he asked, earning a watery nod from her. He sighed and scratched his cheek. Headaches he could handle. An emotional girl? No way. Ah damn, he thought, guess I better try at least. "Hey, listen...um...so what if he doesn't like you? Fuck him, right? I mean, what kind of normal guy has a pretty girl in front of him and constantly ignores her?"
"I guess...but, what with Cronus and all..." Theresa sniffled uncertainly. Archie snorted derisively.
"Oh come on Theresa. We're all worried about Cronus winning, but nobody takes it to the extent that Jay does. Especially after our last encounter with him," Archie reminded her. She frowned, remembering their last fiasco. She and Odie had both been hurt, enough to leave a scar trailing down her back. Until that day, she had been sure that Jay returned her tentative feelings, or was at least interested in her. But afterwards....after, he had just seemed to start drifting away from her, focusing on Cronus. "He like, lives, eats and breathes Cronus nowadays. It's like an obsession. Kinda creepy if you ask me. Anyways....you shouldn't defend him Theresa."
"Like you do Atlanta?" she shot back, anger filling her once more. Who was Archie to pass judgement on her? Or her feelings, and the one she had those feelings for, for that matter? She didn't ask him to follow her and start sprouting all these words of wisdom to her, like he knew what the hell he was talking about.
"Shit, I was just trying to make you feel better. I can see now, that it obviously wasn't appreciated," he hissed, mindful of the fact they were still in the library.
"Nor warranted," she snapped back. They glared at each other, tension filling the air between them. Minutes ticked by, and Theresa could feel her anger subsiding, being slowly replaced with a hint of guilt. Gods, she was no better than him, snapping like that. She looked away, ashamed under that steely gaze. "I'm sorry."
"Huh?" Archie had been so lost in his thoughts, that he had nearly forgotten why he was pissed off in the first place. And here it was, apologizing to him.
"I'm sorry I snapped at you. I shouldn't have said that to you Archie. And...thank you. For making me feel better. For being concerned enough to actually come after me," she murmured, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. She couldn't believe how big of a bitch she had been to him. Or how emotional she was being today. She had cried three times already. Three times!! She wiped at her damp cheeks, feeling suddenly exhausted from all the emotions swirling through her, and from the earlier pain of her headache. She just wanted to go home and go to bed. Forget this day even happened. Forget this whole past year has even happened, she thought bitterly, closing her eyes.
"Ah, forget about it. You're right though. If I wasn't such an idiot...."Archie murmured, staring into nothing. Theresa's comment had hit home. He had been after Atlanta for so long....and she had never even noticed, never even thought of him as more than her best friend, constant companion whenever she wanted to do something. He had always tagged along with her, not wanting to let her out of his sight, needing to be near her. And for what? Absolutely nothing, because she would never notice him in that light, and he was too big of a coward to try and change that. Maybe he should try and take his own advice for once. Forget about her, forget he ever felt anything but friendship for her. Besides, once Cronus was defeated, they'd most likely be going their separate ways. Not like they could stay together, with her in the Northwest Territories and him in Philadelphia. No matter how much he wanted them to.
"This sucks!" Theresa's sudden outburst startled him out of his thoughts, and he refocused on her as she gave the table a vicious kick, a loud squeal of protest coming from its wooden feet.
"Shit," Archie swore softly, hearing the familiar clip clopping of the librarian's shoes as she came to investigate the noise. He quickly dove under the table, dragging Theresa with him. She squeaked in surprise as she found herself deposited into his lap, their bodies pressed against the wall, hidden in the dark shadows. He shushed her quietly as a stockinged pair of feet came into view. They waited a few tense moments, breath held and bodies rigidly huddled together, before the feet turned back from the way they came, disappearing quickly. Both released their breath in a huff of relief, and Theresa let her body relax back against Archie, head falling back against his shoulder. She gave a soft, bitter laugh.
"I'm just messing everything up today aren't I?" she asked, head turning slightly to look at him, barely making out his profile in the dim light under the table. He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, head resting against hers for a split second.
"Nah. Today just sucks," Archie nodded. He regarded the girl in his lap for a moment, debating the wisdom of what he would say next. "Hey Theresa. You really wanna go to class this afternoon?"
"Nope. Not at all. I've got English with Jay next period. Why?" she sighed, shifting around to face him. He gave her a patented Archie smirk.
"Me neither. Wanna cut class with me? It's no fun alone," he suggested hopefully. She raised her eyebrows at him as they climbed out from under the table, incredulous expression on her face.
"You actually want to spend more time with me today? Are you feeling alright?" she joked, reaching up to feel his forehead. He brushed her hand away, walking back towards the entrance.
"Yes, believe it or not. Hurry up, before I come to my senses and realize the folly of my mistake," he told her sarcastically, glancing over his shoulder. She beamed and darted after him. They quickly left the school, heading for Theresa's car. Revving the engine, Theresa looked over at Archie.
"You know, Jay's gonna know something's up when I don't show up for English," she pointed. Archie raised an eyebrow.
"Your point?" he asked. She laughed and pulled out of the parking lot.
"You're right. Like you said: Fuck him if he can't have some fun," Theresa laughed, slipping on her shades as they headed downtown.