Thoughts swirl as emotions calm, and conversations spark new understandings and interests.
A New Twist
Chapter the Third
Theresa burst into the empty solarium, hot tears pouring fiercely down pale cheeks. She stumbled towards the Horae, collapsing at their feet as they sprang to life, panting desperately. Gulping for breath, she struggled to her feet, a look of fear on her face.
"Please," she begged them. "Let me through."
The four exchanged a worried glance and obliged the girl, parting silently, watching as she half ran, half tumbled down into the dark recesses of the Underworld. With a collective sigh they closed the passage way, once again becoming nothing more than a pretty painting. They would inform Persephone of the matter when she returned.
Theresa ran, stumbling down the dark passage, lungs burning as they begged for relief. She ran as the tunnel grew lighter, the grove coming into sight. Her legs burned, stomach aching as she dragged her trembling body to lay at the foot of Persephone's statue. She lay her forehead on the cool marble, hair enshrouding her as she let her emotions overtake her, body heaving with desperate sobs. She didn't understand why she was so upset, why so many feelings were swirling through her body in that moment. All she knew was that it hurt, in a way that physical pain could never match. A hurt so deep it left her feeling hollowed inside, a darkness enshrouding her mind as it sought refuge where there was none to be found. And so she cried.
Archie groaned as he leaned over, elbows resting on his knees. He sat on a bench, ice pack resting gingerly in his lap. Well, that fight had been a mistake and a half. Jay looked ready to kill him, not that Archie gave a shit. Atlanta looked like she couldn't decide between being pissed off and worried senseless. Ares had demanded they get started on training, saying that 'a witch with a temper like her was of no use to him', and they would work without Theresa or Archie that day. They could find her later. Archie shook his head. Well, he had his answer as to how she would do in a street fight. She would still kick ass and take names. He closed his eyes and sighed, sitting back carefully. Now that he had calmed down, he could think more clearly on the situation, and just what happened.
/Okay Archie, let's review what happened, shall we? Theresa gets into a fight, Zeus knows how. So, perfect opportunity for you to kick some ass, relieve a little stress. Not the best way, but it works. So, little miss stuck up gets all distracted /(/probably by Jay, the idiot who doesn't know a good thing even when he's losing it) and gets hit/. /And hit hard. Got to admit, it was surprising that she managed to pull a back roundhouse out of that, and not just fall. Tough girl. But that's beside the point, Archie. /The point...what was the point?
/The point is that for once you were being nice to her, and she got pissed off at you for absolutely no reason/. Gods, she's annoying!! So maybe I shouldn't have assumed she was thinking about Jay, but considering earlier in the library...it seemed logical at the time...Not to mention, those guys were pretty big. Herry sized. She really could have been hurt, and not just in the beaten up sense either. Any guy with half a brain can see how pretty she is...well maybe except Jay.
/Okay, so, to recap: You were worried about her. Which means you care about her. And what happens when you care about someone? You hide how you're feeling behind a thick layer of anger, sarcasm and quick remarks so that you don't have to get close to anyone. Admit it, you do care about her. //Yeah, so? She's my team mate, of course I care about her well being. Without her, the prophecy is null and void, meaning buh-bye world. And I happen to like the world, thank you very much. Is that avoidance I hear?/ /Shut up, I ain't avoiding shit. She's just a whiny little bitch with anger management issues. Like you don't need anger management yourself./ Well I was managing it during that fight, until she let her guard down!! And then she blames it on me!! What's up with that?!
Archie sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose. Arguing with his conscience...or whatever it was...was giving him a headache. His insides twisted funnily as he thought back to their argument. /'I hate you!' /The words rang in his mind, echoing over and over again, making him frown unhappily.
/So what if she hates me? She's not my favourite person in the world either...though we did have fun at the arcade...even if she did keep laughing and making me lose quarters. Still...Still, you know you didn't really mean what you were saying to her. You really need to learn to think before speaking. Look where it's gotten you. You're gonna be walking funny for awhile. //That should be the least of my worries, my ability to father children being foremost in my mind. That too. So. Does this mean you've learned your lesson? //And that would be? That maybe Theresa felt the same as you did, and was simply trying to work out her own aggressions, and didn't appreciate you stealing that opportunity away from her? /Ahhh....didn't think of it like that. Well, you should. She's a fighter too Archie, it's in her blood just as much as it is in yours. It doesn't matter that she's female. Some of the best fighters in the world are women.
Alright, alright, I get your point. From now on, I won't interrupt unless she wants help. And I won't take out my aggression on her, because I really don't feel like getting sacked again. Though I guess it was only fair, considering how hard I hit her...hope I didn't break anything...shit Atlanta will kill me if I did...she looks kinda murderous already...though maybe that's just for Ares. Heh. /Does this mean you're going to apologize to her when you go find her?/ /What?! Hell no! Who says I'm going to find her?Archie... /Fine...I'll...apologize. But I ain't going to find her! Atlanta can do that. I'll just find her back at home.
Mind made up, Archie opened his eyes to find his team mates wandering over to the bench, training session over. He opened his mouth to say something when Hera and Persephone entered the gym, Persephone in her frightening 'Queen of the Underworld' mode. She glared at Ares with an 'if-looks-could-kill' look, Hera frowning disappointedly. Archie sunk down. He knew trouble when he saw it.
Theresa half sighed, half sobbed as she felt the tears slow, mind and body numb and trembling from the piteous crying that had wracked her body so badly. She felt nauseous and light headed as she turned her face, resting her cheek on cool marble, eyes staring blankly across the grove and off into the distance. So out of touch with reality was she that his presence was not noticed until a warm hand clamped down on her shoulder. She jumped and whirled about, coming face to face with the King of the Underworld. She quickly swiped at her face, rising to her feet shakily, swaying as she stood.
"H-Hades!" her voice was hoarse and rough, and she winced at the sudden pain of talking. Hades raised an eyebrow at the swaying young girl, and gently led her to the bench, sitting next to her with a flourish of purple robes.
"Dear me, this will never do. Can't have pretty girls crying their hearts out in dear Persephone's grove, now can we? Well, really you shouldn't be down here anyways, but I'm willing to let it slide," Hades smiled indulgently at the relieved look on Theresa's face. He caught her chin with two strong fingers, forcing her to look at him. "But only if you tell me why you came down here in the first place. Surely there are better places for a good cry?"
"This was the only place safe enough," she mumbled, looking away in shame, still clearing the tears from her face.
"Safe enough from what? Or is it whom?" Hades questioned, arms crossing. Theresa gave him a small nod.
"Safe enough from...everything. From my friends...Safe enough for them, and for me..." she trailed uncertainly, her words making no sense in her mind as she spoke them. She shook her head and sighed softly, too drained to try and make sense. "I'm sorry. I just...I don't understand how I feel...or why...and so..."
"And so you escaped to my kingdom," Hades finished with a somewhat smug smile. "Well, to Persephone's little corner of it at least. I must admit, I come here oftentimes when I feel a little overwhelmed."
Theresa glanced at him in surprise, a glimmer sparking briefly in her dulled eyes.
"Yes, my wife leaves her touch wherever she goes. I find it...comforting," he smiled down at the young girl. She gave him a tiny smile of her own.
"Very comforting. And safe," Theresa whispered. Safe. Safe from Archie's anger, or Jay's disinterest. But never from herself, her raging, swirling emotions, thoughts that ran rampant in her crowded mind, screaming to be let loose, never satisfied, always hungering...She could feel herself slipping between the cracks of reality at times, wondering if the lucidity she'd had until then had simply been a wonderful dream of how things could be. Of how things should be, and then she would see things, see the future, a glimpse of a precious split-second ahead, and she would return to that lucid state of reality that she supposedly lived in. She shook her head again, trying to focus wandering thoughts, not wanting to ignore the god sitting beside her.
"Why do I feel this way?" her hoarse whisper startled both of the pair out of their thoughts. "I just feel so angry, and sad at the same time. And yet at the core of it all there's nothing. Nothing at all, just a hollow space where something should be, but I don't know what it is that's missing. And it hurts Hades. Hurts more than anything in the world, more then the feel of a blade ripping through my skin, or his smile ripping through my heart. Why?"
"Because you were not meant to be hollow Theresa. This emptiness inside of you is crying, begging to be filled, but you are unsure of how to accomplish that. This boy's smile you speak of. Perhaps the key lays within him," Hades said thoughtfully, stroking his chin, eyes staring off into the distance. "I am no master of the heart like Aphrodite, nor am I wise like Athena. But ultimately, what you need should not come from others, but from within you. To better one's self solely for one's self is a very noble cause indeed, and should not be demeaned by others. Life is never easy. I have learned this over millennia of watching mortals. But what you decide to do with it is what makes you worthy of living it. You are young, and confused Theresa, and under a lot of pressure to save us all from our untimely doom. Perhaps you simply need some time to yourself, to find yourself and the missing parts of you."
Theresa had leaned her head gently against Hades' arm as he spoke, the words gently reverberating inside her mind. Her eyes closed, body drained of energy from the fight and her crying. She listened to the steady beat of her heart, wondering why it bothered to continue after each pulse, and how could she find a missing part of her? In a world so large, so fraught with dangers...dangers she was fighting, trying to overthrow for reasons she knew and yet remained unsure of. Find herself indeed. She couldn't even find the words running through her mind, how could she find what she didn't know she was looking for?
Maybe I need to understand myself better before I try to find myself. Like why I got so angry at Archie in the first place today. He was only trying to help, even if I didn't want it. He was so sweet this morning, and then I just messed it up. Oh he's going to hate me...that was a really low blow I gave him. He's right. I am an ungrateful little bitch. No wonder Jay wants nothing to do with me. I'm surprised any of them bother with me still. Probably won't want to once I get back. I really let myself out of control back there. Broke Ares' floor. Stupid, Theresa, very stupid. From know on, think before you act. Even if emotions surge and overflow and the mind stops, allowing the heart to reign. It should be forced down, submitting to logic and what you know is wrong and right. I will apologize when I return, though he may not accept it. May never speak to me again. Hope that doesn't happen. He is annoying...but intriguing. All emotion and passion and action and no thought, like you, only all the time. Many hidden facets to this gem wanting, needing to be discovered, but by who? Will he let them be discovered...
Thoughts of twinkling gems enshrouded Theresa's mind as she fell into an exhausted slumber, spent from the day's happenings. Hades smiled gently as he watched the girl slip away to the sandman, hoping she would have sweet dreams or none at all. He had not had much contact with this little slip of a mortal, but Persephone had come to love the girl as though she was her own, always telling him stories of her achievements when she came home to him at the end of the day. He felt he would actually be slightly saddened to see this young one enter the Elysian Fields, though hopefully not for many more years to come. Such a bright young star, this one. Perhaps Persephone should bring her down for a visit. She could use a few days to herself.
Hades sighed and gently lifted the limp girl in his arms, preparing to take her back to the mortal realm above him. No doubt the others would be missing her. A flash of purple swirling clouds marked their disappearance, the grove once again falling silent.
He was met with unchecked chaos with an undertone of fury, and stood momentarily unnoticed, allowing him to take in the scene. His wife, Zeus bless her, was standing in all her queenly glory, screaming at Ares about how 'he was a tactless, no good excuse for a god' and 'it's his fault Theresa's missing!'. Hera was attempting to pacify both, Ares being worked into a rage. The other six teens stood close by, the purple haired one trying to calm down his mentor, while the other girl tried to calm his wife down while also glaring at Ares. Hades chuckled lowly, earning the blonde's attention.
"Looking for something?" he questioned, stepping forward with a sleeping Theresa curled in his arms. Persephone gasped, rushing to his side, skin milky once more.
"Theresa!! Oh Hades, where did you find her?" she cried gently, fluttering worriedly before Hades, checking over the redhead, a delicate hand stroking the hair from her sleeping brow. Theresa smiled slightly in her sleep, burrowing against Hades, one fist curled beneath her bruised chin.
"In your grove, poor thing. She was sobbing her heart out," Hades said softly, looking down at his wife. Atlanta shot a glare over in Archie's direction before shaking her head, and looking back to Theresa. She glanced back at her other best friend and noted the look of shameful worry on his face. Her face scrunched up in confusion. Huh. I would have thought he'd be glaring and pouting like an idiot right now. Honestly. They're both so immature sometimes. Though they've never fought this badly before. What the hell happened to get them so angry? And how the hell did Theresa get down to the Underworld? Why would she go down there anyways? It's so creepy...Man, Persephone's pissed.
Said Queen of the Dead was once again shrieking at Ares for even thinking of letting the two teens hurt each other, and what was wrong with him, and what kinds of things was he teaching Archie, and how could he treat women like that....Needless to say Ares was quite upset with Persephone at that point. Hades chuckled nervously, still holding Theresa as the other six teens looked on, somewhat frightened by the raging gods.
"Enough! Hold your tongues! Hades, is Theresa alright?" Hera cut in, earning a nod from the purple god. She turned to Ares, stern look set upon her face. "Ares. Return to your armoury. I shall be with you shortly. Persephone, remember: what we discussed earlier still holds. Children, take Theresa home to rest."
"Hera. If we may...I think perhaps Theresa should stay with Persephone and I tonight," Hades cut in. Persephone chimed in immediately.
"Yes Hera, please. She's fine physically, but..." the goddess trailed off, glancing pointedly at the crater in the floor. Hera sighed, and waved a hand to dismiss them.
"Very well. I shall leave her in your care Persephone," Hera agreed, turning to leave the room to meet with Ares. Persephone placed a hand gently on her husband's arm, and they both vanished in a swirl of purple clouds.
The six remaining teens all shared confused glances, unsure of what to say in the now stifling silence.
"Soo...," Neil decided to once again break the silence. "This has been the weirdest day of my life so far."
/ /"How can you possibly say that with all we've been through?" Atlanta questioned, still perturbed at the disappearance of one best friend, and the unusual demeanour of the other.
"How can I not? I mean, Archie and Theresa came back in the middle of their biggest fight ever, screaming out their undying disgust of one another. And then, the whole lightning covered Theresa bit, with the shaking of the entire building, and, oh yeah just a reminder, but she made a crater in a granite floor with her /fist!!/" Neil ranted, arms flailing. He gestured wildly to Archie. "And then, then they proceeded to kick each other's asses...though, dude. You got sacked. Hah! And you made her cry. Man, it sucks to be you. And the whole swooshy appearing, disappearing thing. What's that all about?"
Herry and Odie exchanged amused glances while Archie glared fiercely from the bench.
"Just wait till I can walk properly again Neil, I'm gonna kick your ass," Archie growled half-heartedly, his mind only half in reality. It did suck to be him. Sobbing her heart out? Why did she go down to the Underworld anyways? So we couldn't find her? Well it worked, man was Persephone freaking out. Jay too. Probably even more pissed at me now for making her run away to someplace we can't track her, thinking that Cronus got her or something. Damn it all, this whole situation just sucks. And why the hell is she better off staying with Persephone? Because she broke the floor? Is something wrong with her?
Archie sighed and stood painfully, noticing the others were ready to leave. He was even more confused now than he had been in his earlier conversation with himself. And definitely not looking forward to the tongue lashing he was sure to get from Atlanta once they got home, though undoubtedly Theresa would be getting one as well. He had to smile slightly at that. It was funny to think that Atlanta could be such a mother hen sometimes...though usually only when he and Theresa were squabbling. Which was becoming a far too common occurrence nowadays.
He frowned as they entered the brownstone, limping his way into his room to lay down and think. He hoped Theresa was alright. He needed to apologize after all. He lay down with a yawn. Well if she could sleep, so could he. Closing his eyes, he let himself drift off to the sandman, visions of vivid red hair and blue lightning dancing through his dreams.