Apologies are made in quite the awkward manner.
A/N: Alright. Woot! Chapter 4, finally. Took me awhile on this one. Hope it doesn't disappoint. And yes, I am working on Mind Games....just very slowly. I'm actually supposed to be doing a three page critical response due tomorrow right now, so be happy you're even getting this. And hawaiin.ginger...be glad you are still in high school. Oh gods how I miss those days! University is hell! Hell I tell you!! It's turning me into a mindless, educated drone of society! Help! Ahem...yaaa. So read and review, mkay? It'll make me happy and keep me sane.
A New Twist
Chapter the Fourth
Archie awoke with a start, opening his eyes to a dark room. He sat up slowly, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Glancing at his alarm clock, its numbers blared back with an obnoxiously red 10:13 P.M. Archie glared at it, wishing it was A.M and that the day from hell was actually over. He swung his legs off the bed and stood, cracking his back.
His stomach growled angrily at him, reminding him that he had yet to feed it. Making his way slowly into the kitchen, he thought back to the dream that had awoken him in the first place. He had dreamed of Theresa, of that he was certain. It had been a vivid dream, but incoherent at best. Not that dreams normally made sense, but this one had been....surreal, to say the least.
Archie remembered the vivid, swirling red of her hair, and a set of green, piercing eyes, tear filled and haunted. Blue lightning flickered across his vision, staining everything sapphire. Swirls of amethyst had reached out, mixing with the sapphire, while a furious onyx raged in front of them. Archie had a strange feeling the amethyst had been coming from him, but the onyx? He remembered the feel of Theresa next to him, as a raw, fierce wind whipped at them. Electricity crackled in the air, an unseen force pressing down heavily everywhere, pressing down on him until he could no longer draw breath. And then he was awake, staring at a black ceiling. Archie sighed, staring blankly into his bowl of soggy cereal.
"So what happened between you guys /this/ time?" a voice asked sharply. Archie jumped, startled out of his reverie, and turned to look at Atlanta. He blinked at her and turned back to his bowl, a small frown on his face.
"I wish I knew," he sighed, half-heartedly pushing around his cereal. Atlanta sat next to him, arms crossed, a glare on her face. Archie shook his head. "I'm serious Lanta. I'm really not sure what set us off this time. She got into a fight at the arcade, I jumped in to help, and then...we just blew up at each other."
"What were you guys doing at the arcade during school anyways?" Atlanta questioned, glare lessening to a stern frown Hera would have been proud of. Archie glanced around for signs of the others, but the main floor was surprisingly empty that night.
"Well I was in a bad mood, and Theresa was really upset about, well, Jay, so I decided to take her to the arcade with me, you know, get us in a better mood. It was working too, until those jackasses decided to attack Theresa, why I don't know. And so, here we are," Archie shrugged, glancing at his best friend. "And I know, Atlanta, that our fight was a mistake. I just...dunno anymore."
"What jackasses? What happened at the arcade?" she asked. Was that how Theresa got that bruise? Archie snorted softly.
"These five guys decided to pick a fight with Theresa, I guess. They were big too, as big as Herry at least. She was doing pretty damn good too, until I jumped in, I guess," Archie smiled slightly in remembrance. He frowned, reaching up to ruffle his hair sheepishly. "I, ah, guess it's my fault she got hurt. I guess I distracted her, cause one of those guys backhanded her pretty good. That's ah, where she got the bruise from. But you should have seen her Lan, I thought she would have gone flying across the room, but she spun around and landed a roundhouse on the guy. Knocked him out cold. And then she goes into the splits and nails the last guy right in the...well, where she, uh, got me. That girl sure does fight dirty!"
"And yet how oddly admiring you sound," Atlanta teased, smiling once more. Archie flushed and scowled at the young girl.
"Yeah, well, I may not always get along with, or like Theresa, but I respect her. Even more so now that she's kicked my ass, that's for damn sure. She's one helluva fighter, even if it is dirty. And she's tough too. That was a hard hit," Archie explained haughtily. Atlanta rolled her eyes and poked her finger into his cheek, earning another scowl.
"I'm gonna take a wild guess here, and say that you were worried about her, so naturally you got angry, and hence the fight ensued," Atlanta drawled, eyeing him up. He blinked rapidly, a confused look on his face. She smiled. "I'm right aren't I? C'mon Arch, you know that I know you too well for you to lie and say no. I think you care about Theresa more than you want to admit."
Archie sighed and continued staring into his bowl of now mush. This conversation sounds oddly familiar. It does, doesn't it? Shut up and go away. He snorted as Atlanta poked him again.
"Yeah, so I was worried about her. Doesn't mean I care about the princess. She's a pain in the butt most of the time," he said, catching a small smile on Atlanta's face. "What?"
"She's 'princess' now? What happened to drama queen?" she asked, holding back laughter. Archie was such a dork sometimes.
"Eh, it was getting old. Needed something new," he shrugged. Atlanta rolled her eyes.
"You're such a dork Arch. Honestly. You say you don't care, yet you worry and give her nicknames. Which are usually reserved for people you /care about/," Atlanta stressed, a silent 'duh' being mentally tacked onto the end of that sentence. Archie glared at her, clearly hearing the 'duh' tone in her voice, before standing and dumping his bowl in the sink.
"Whatever Lan. I'm too tired to think about it tonight. See you in the morning," he said, trudging out of the kitchen and into his bedroom across the hall. Atlanta sat there a moment, a look of contemplation on her face. She stood and slowly walked to the stairs, ready for bed herself. She glanced back at Archie's closed door and sighed.
"When are you ever going to learn that caring about someone isn't a weakness?" she murmured softly, small frown on her face. She shook her head and went upstairs.
Theresa sighed as her eyes slowly fluttered open, remnants of a dream flickering through her mind. She had dreamed of gems, brilliant sapphire mixing with bold amethyst. Furious onyx had raged, and despairing topaz had swirled amongst a bevy of others. Citrine mixed with emerald, ametrine with diamond. /So beautiful/, she thought, staring up at the ceiling. Her brow furrowed in confusion. That's not my ceiling.
Theresa bolted upright, blankets clutched tightly to her chest, heart hammering beneath them. She looked around in amazement at the bedroom she was currently in, forgetting momentarily that she was supposed to be in her own bed in the brownstone. Her gaze fell to the blanket clutched between her fingers and she gently rubbed the material. It was the softest silk she had ever felt, and dyed in the richest purple hue, much like the rest of the room, the colour highly saturated in all the material present.
Gold furniture was spread throughout the opulent room, while brocade draperies covered the walls and surrounded the gigantic bed she lay in. Stretching across the ceiling directly above it was a mirror that Neil would have died for. Theresa paused a moment in her gazing and frowned up at it curiously, wondering why there would be a mirror above a bed. Wait, I don't even know whose bed this is! Where am I? Theresa's head whipped around as the doors creaked open, and she scrambled off the bed and into a readied defence stance. Or at least she tried to. Still light headed, she swayed unsteadily and pitched forward.
Bracing for the impending impact, she was surprised when instead she fell into a pair of soft arms, the scent of wild roses surrounding her. Theresa's eyes shot open. Persephone!! She pulled back slightly to look at her, relief evident on her face. She spied Hades closing the doors, leaving them to their privacy. Persephone gently sat Theresa back on the bed, one arm around her shoulders.
"Persephone. Thank goodness, I was so worried. Where am I? How come I'm not at home?" she asked softly, resting against the blonde goddess. Persephone sighed and gave Theresa a gentle squeeze, a sad little smile on her face.
"Theresa. Do you remember what happened yesterday? Between you and Archie?" Persephone asked carefully, watching as Theresa's eyes widened and began to tear, her expression miserable as she nodded.
"I remember," she whispered. "We fought and...I hurt him. And then ran away like a coward to your grove. And Hades...am I in the Underworld?"
"Yes. I thought it best if I kept an eye on you last night. Your powers...they're growing at a somewhat alarming rate Theresa. And, clearly, they're being fuelled by some very strong emotions. But I think with some deep meditation exercises, we should get them under control. They may be very useful against Cronus," Persephone explained, thoughtful look on her face. She stood suddenly, pulling Theresa up with her and leading the girl towards another door. "But it's almost noon and you have school! So off you go to get ready!"
"Noon?!" Theresa cried as Persephone hustled her into the bathroom, which was just as opulent as the bedroom. She stared in awe for a moment before shaking her head and stripping off her nightgown to hop into the shower. Which seemed more like a miniature waterfall in her mind. "Ooh, Archie's gonna kill me for missing class! As if he's not mad enough at me already!!"
"Theresa..." Persephone began hesitantly, laying out fresh clothing for Theresa. "I want you to try and stay away from Archie as much as possible, for now."
"What? Why?!" Theresa spluttered, quickly rinsing her hair. "How am I supposed to do that?"
"Because, Theresa, he's obviously a trigger on you. I have never seen you so upset before, and I don't want a repeat experience," Persephone told her sternly. "Now, when you're ready, just follow the hallway to the left and a path will lead you to the grove. You'll be able to find your way from there."
"But, Persephone-" Theresa started, but her mentor had already left. She sighed irritably and stepped out of the shower, feet slapping wetly on the cold marble floor. She wrapped a fluffy towel around her body and hurried over to the vanity where Persephone had placed the clothes. She wrinkled her nose in annoyance when she saw what it was: a dress. A pretty dress, to be sure, but honestly. What if Cronus attacked? Sure, she could fight in a dress; she just preferred not to try to do so modestly.
Theresa sighed and slipped it over her head, marvelling at the texture. It was the softest cotton ever, and styled much like Persephone's. An empire waist with a deep V neck, the only difference was the absence of a slit running up the legs. Theresa twirled, delighted as the dress billowed out around her. It was a rosy pink tint with a band of gold under the bust. She quickly slipped on a pair of gold sandals resting beside the chair, and grabbed her book bag which had mysteriously appeared.
Checking herself one last time in the mirror and satisfied, if not a little overwhelmed, with her appearance, she proceeded to bolt back up to the Aboveground, and into the janitor's closet. She noted that her bruise had faded considerably from the night before, and idly wondered if Persephone had anything to do with it. Theresa brushed off the thought and, checking the time, cautiously opened the door and crept out into the hallway. It was lunchtime and so she headed directly for the cafeteria, hoping Archie wouldn't be extremely upset at her still, and that he would actually accept her apology. If he was even there, that was./ Ah well, I know where to find him now if he's not./ She entered the cafeteria and walked over to the stairs.
Archie sighed and sat back in his seat, mentally cursing himself for actually sitting with his friends for lunch. Damien was there, again, taking up all of Atlanta's attention, again. He glanced at the empty seat beside him, and felt a wave of guilty concern wash over him. Theresa hadn't been back that morning, nor was she in class either. Maybe something really was wrong. Maybe he had really hurt her, or maybe something was wrong with her clairvoyance, or-
His worried thoughts were interrupted by a chorus of whistling and hooting from a few tables over. Glancing over, his eyes widened at the sight of Theresa, blushing and flustered, moving quickly over to their table. No wonder the jocks were so noisy, she was...gorgeous! Archie felt a light flush was over his cheeks as his eyes skimmed down her body, taking in her every aspect, and scowled, mentally smacking himself.
Theresa swallowed compulsively and sat down nervously beside Archie, unsure if his sour expression was supposed to be directed at her. She offered him a shaky smile and nearly sighed in relief when she received a small, tentative one in return. She put her bag on the floor and sat back, arms crossed protectively over her chest, marginally relaxed now. Glances were exchanged between the group, minus Damien, as they watched the two tensely, fearing another explosive outburst. Damien, oblivious to it all, continued on his conversation with Herry, giving Atlanta the chance to glance over at Theresa. She gave the older girl a questioning glance, silently communicating with her eyes, which flickered rapidly over to Archie. Theresa smiled and shook her head almost imperceptibly, earning a relieved smile from Atlanta. Archie frowned at the two, sure he was missing something, and feeling rather awkward sitting next to Theresa and not saying anything. He cleared his throat and looked over at her.
"So, uh....what's with the dress?" he asked bluntly, immediately wanting to smack himself as Theresa flushed and looked down at her lap. Stupid! What kind of conversation starter is that?! How about, I'm sorry for yesterday? Idiot!
"It's silly, I know, but....well, um, it was all I, uh, had this morning," Theresa stammered, careful not to say anything in front of Damien. Geez Persephone, why'd ya hafta leave me a dress? And a fancy one at that? Now he's gonna make some stupid 'drama queen' comment and ugh!
"N-No, it's uh, n-nice. Yeah," Archie stuttered, nearly making Atlanta laugh out loud. Archie only ever stuttered when he was nervous about something. He raised a hand to the back of his head, rubbing his hair ruefully. Another nervous habit he was prone to. "Hey, uh Theresa, look. I just wanted to say that uh, I'm sorry, about yesterday. Ya know. It was just..."
"Yeah, no I know. I'm sorry too," Theresa said quickly, enormously relieved at this development. "Um, I uh, hope I didn't hurt you too badly yesterday. I feel terrible about fighting dirty like that."
"Hmph. You should be, I'm gonna be walking funny for a few days, at least," Archie smirked teasingly. It faded into concern as he gave her a quick once over. "So uh, are you okay? Nothing's broken?"
"No, I'm fine, just a little sore," Theresa laughed, waving away his concern. "It'll take more than that to put me out of commission, don't you worry Arch."
"Pfft. Me, worry about you? In your dreams princess," Archie snorted. He paused a moment, eyes widening slightly as he realized what he just said, in front of everyone. Theresa smiled and flushed prettily, happy that normalcy was returning to her life. Well, as normal as her relationship with Archie could be.
Atlanta just shot Archie a smug 'I told you so' look, while Jay frowned slightly, still worried about Theresa. Archie scowled at Atlanta and decided to poutily ignore her for the rest of the day. /Real mature. /Shut up.
Conversation resumed and buzzed around the table, though Theresa and Archie remained mostly silent, still a bit awkward next to each other. Archie fiddled with the zipper on his hoodie, stealing the occasional glance at Theresa, currently talking to Atlanta. She should wear dresses more often. Archie blinked. Where the hell did that come from? Hehehe. Where do you think? Ugh, go away already. But the view is so good from here. Huh? Theresa, numbskull. What about her? She's fucking hot. Admit it. If I do, will you go away? So you do think she's hot! Pfft, any idiot can see that. And she's got really big- Hey! We are not going there!
Archie flushed and squirmed uncomfortably at his thoughts, feeling just a little perverted in that moment. He glanced at Theresa again, eyes flicking inadvertently down to her breasts. Damnit! Why'd she hafta wear such a...a...revealing dress? Shit. Archie scowled again, sliding down further into his seat, trying to focus on something other than Theresa's breasts. Or how soft they looked. Or how perfectly they were cupped in the deep V of the rosy dress. Or how the size and undoubted weight of them would feel cupped in his hand. Damnit, stop! Why? Because it's Theresa! You mean Theresa's breasts. They are nice. And big. Yeah. When did they get so big anyways? They always looked smaller...Wait, what the hell am I thinking?! Who cares! Damnit! Gotta stop thinking.........Breasts. Shut up!!!
The bell rang suddenly, and without a backward glance, Archie shot out of the cafeteria in relief. Theresa watched as he ran out the doors leading toward the gym, confused at his hasty departure. He had seemed uncomfortable during lunch, fidgeting and twitching next to her. She had noticed him glancing at her every so often out of the corner of her eye, but had never caught his gaze. She frowned. What's wrong now? I thought things were...okay with us, but now he won't look at me? Theresa sighed and glanced up at Jay as they walked to English, catching him staring down at her with a slight frown. Great, now I'm going to be lectured by the very root of my problem.
"Are you sure you're okay Theresa?" Jay asked, voice flooded with concern. Theresa nodded and smiled shyly in relief, pleased that he was actually worried for her.
"I'm fine, Jay, really," she reassured him as they slipped into class. They took their seats quietly, Jay sitting behind Theresa, his mind wandering off into his thoughts. He had noticed Archie's wandering gaze during lunch, and knew exactly why he had run off like that. Jay's face flushed as he stared at Theresa. He couldn't really be mad at Archie for staring, he tried to reason, for he had been staring as well. Yeah, but Archie supposedly wants Atlanta. The hell's he doing practically panting over Theresa? Sure, she's sexy as hell today, but still...Gods, she's beautiful.
Jay shook his head and tried to concentrate on the lesson and not Theresa. Easier said than done. /She does have really nice.../His face turned crimson as he squirmed down in his seat. Bad Jay, you shouldn't be thinking about her like that! One day she is going to be able to read minds, and then you'll be screwed!...Not that being screwed by Theresa would be a bad thing...Gah! Damn hormones. How am I supposed to concentrate on school, or defeating Cronus, when I'm hooked on staring at her body like a drooling half-wit? Which is why being romantically interested in Theresa is a very bad idea...But she still has the best body I've ever seen. Damnit!
Jay was thus very much in the same state as Archie when class was over, giving Theresa a quick goodbye before bolting away to his math class. Theresa frowned in confusion again, shaking her head as she carefully walked downstairs to the Art wing. What's wrong with the boys today? They're acting so weird...Not that I'll ever understand boys, but still. I'd like to think I know my boys fairly well...
Theresa sighed as she took her seat in the art classroom beside Neil, Archie sitting across from them. She got a cheerful greeting of "Hey gorgeous" from Neil, while Archie refused to look at her. Her frown deepened slightly, before turning into a wicked smile.
"Hey. How are my two sexy boys today?" she asked playfully, nudging Neil with her shoulder. He nudged her back and smirked at Archie.
"Two? I only see one sexy boy here, unless you're counting my reflection," he said smugly, whipping out his mirror once more. Archie flushed and scowled at him, sorely tempted to kick the narcissistic boy with his brace. He glanced at Theresa and was surprised when she winked at him.
"Hmm, you're right Neil. There is only one sexy boy here. So, how are you Archie?" Theresa smiled, holding back a delighted giggle at Neil's outburst of dismay. Archie snorted and smirked at her playfully, nudging her foot with his.
"Pretty good, all things considered. How's our sexy princess?" he asked, ignoring Neil's whining in favour of focussing on Theresa. Her suddenly playful mood was surprising...and intriguing. Theresa let loose her delighted giggles, and leaned forward on her elbows, chin resting atop her hands.
"I'm princess now, eh Arch? Got tired of drama queen, did you?" she teased, eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Yeah, I figured it was getting kinda old," Archie shrugged, doodling random scribbles in his sketchbook with a piece of charcoal. Theresa watched him quietly, enjoying the now relaxed silence between them. Neil, as usual, ignored the two in favour of modeling for the girls of the class who claimed to be studying "anatomy". Theresa sighed and took out her sketchbook, stealing the occasional glance at Archie and his doodles. She leaned back and propped her knees up carefully, dressed tucked underneath her feet, and rested her sketchbook on top of them. Stealing a quick glance at Archie, she began to sketch.
Charcoal flew across the blank page, a rough profile slowly appearing. Theresa snuck another glance at Archie, tongue stuck out in concentration. How on earth did Persephone expect her to keep away from Archie? She didn't want to...Really it was Jay she should distance herself from. Maybe it would hurt less that way. Archie though...he was such a mystery. Like how he acted all tough and macho, when really he was a rather sensitive, artistic soul. Sometimes. Sometimes he really was just a jackass.
Oh Archie, you silly boy. Do you really believe that we would think any less of you for it? Well, maybe the boys...But I wouldn't...I don't... Theresa sighed, staring blankly at her current subject. Archie glanced up at her sudden gusty sigh, noticing her stare. He raised an eyebrow curiously. No response. He frowned. No response. With a sigh, he leaned forward and snapped his fingers in front of her eyes. Theresa jumped, startled out of her thoughts. She blinked at the amused look on Archie's face.
"Anybody home? Or am I just so sexy today that you couldn't help but stare?" he quipped sarcastically. Theresa flushed and hid behind her sketchbook.
"Sorry. Lost in thoughts I guess," she mumbled sheepishly. Archie shrugged, watching her nimble fingers move over the page.
"S'okay. It happens," he said, watching her work. "What are you drawing? Must be interesting for you to work so hard."
Theresa bit her lip and peeked shyly over the top of her sketchbook, wondering whether she should show him or not. Art was one thing they were generally open with each other about, since they were the only ones interested in it. But this...was a little personal. Theresa mentally rolled her eyes. It's a sketch of him, it can't be that personal. She shrugged and turned it for him to see.
"Just a picture of the most annoying husband I've ever had," she teased nervously as his eyes widened in surprise, taking in the details of his visage as sketched by her hands. Words left him for a moment, as he took in the expression she had placed on him: one of a calm serenity that he had not felt in so very long. Archie noticed her shy, expectant expression and smiled.
"You've had other husbands?" Archie smirked. He had forgotten they were "married" now in class. Which made Theresa his temporary "wife". Wait. Does that mean it's okay for me to check her out? Hmm... Theresa stuck her tongue out at him and flipped the sketch back around.
"Smart ass," she laughed, chucking a bit of eraser at him. He snorted and tossed it back.
"Of course. Would you have me any other way, my darling wife?" he drawled sarcastically.
"Never in a million years," Theresa deadpanned, bored expression firmly in place.
"Good. See, Neil doesn't know what he's talking about. We are a perfectly happy married couple," Archie said in all seriousness, arms crossed over his chest as he stared at Theresa. She remained serious for all of about two seconds before laughter burst forth, Archie smirking triumphantly. Theresa shot forward quickly, ruffling his hair affectionately, earning a yelp of surprise from him. She fell back in her seat, laughing joyfully. There was no way she could keep away from this annoying, intriguing boy, she decided. She would die of boredom if she did.
Archie pouted crossly at Theresa, attempting to smother his hair back down, quite unsuccessfully. Geez, first Atlanta, now Theresa. What is it with these girls and messing up my hair? So what if it's already messy, doesn't mean they hafta make it worse. Honestly. Theresa grinned at his pouting, the notion of him being an adorable child vaguely crossing her mind. She glanced at the clock thoughtfully, tapping her finger against her chin. She looked back at Archie when he snorted with laughter suddenly, giving him a questioning look. He shook his head, reaching towards her.
"You just got charcoal on your face," he grinned, rubbing it gently off with his thumb. She blushed and mumbled her thanks. She sat up straighter suddenly, leaning towards him on her elbows once more.
"Hey Arch. Wanna do something after school? To make up for yesterday's horrible conclusion to an otherwise quite enjoyable outing?" she asked cheekily, hoping he would say yes. He cocked his head at her, confused look on his face.
"Wait, you actually want to spend more time with me? You sure I didn't hit you too hard yesterday?" he joked. She rolled her eyes at him, tapping his brace gently with her foot.
"Yes I'm sure. Yes or no Archie?" she said impatiently. Archie sat back grinning.
"Alright, alright. No need to get your panties in a twist. I'm game," he agreed as the bell rang.
"Great!" Theresa jumped up enthusiastically, not noticing the red stain flaring suddenly across Archie's cheeks. "I know this great little place I wanna show you. Come on, my car's still here."
With that, she dragged a stumbling, flushed Archie out of the school. Damnit, that dress! I hear ya. Love it. So bouncy. Shut up and go away. I know you're not talking about the dress, so don't even start. Why am I cursed? You call spending an afternoon with a beautiful, buxom woman a curse? You need your head checked. Or maybe I just need to get rid of you. Maybe. Either way, this is gonna be one interesting afternoon. You can say that again.