A/N: Oh my freaking god, an update. Well, it is after Christmas holidays, and I did promise an update, so here it is. Oh, last chapter I said Archie's room was upstairs and then down, so I fixed that. It's downstairs now, permanently. Well, fairly happy with how this one turned out, even though it literally took me forever to write. But I guess nobody's complaining huh? XD. Honestly, the end of last year was just all around bad for me. But this is a new year, and I feel refreshed. So hopefully I'll be back to writing full time soon, even though I'll be so damn busy. And I will try and work on Mind Games, I promise, but that one's being tricky too. So just enjoy this little update, ne? (I also, shockingly, drew a piece of fanart to go with this story, so hopefully I'll have that up on my website soon XD) R&R!!
A New Twist
Chapter the Fifth
Theresa smiled happily as she grabbed Archie's hand, dragging the protesting boy behind her. They had driven downtown into the more artsy district of New Olympia, and Theresa had insisted on parking blocks away from her intended destination, declaring she wanted it to be a complete surprise. Archie rolled his eyes, and allowed her to drag him forward, not really minding the tugging feel of her hand in his. What the- shit, gotta stop thinking like that. Or just thinking, altogether. Wonder where she's taking me? Hopefully some place where she won't get into another fight.
Archie glanced down at the little redhead in front of him, smiling slightly at the happy look on her face. She was practically beaming with anticipation, a tiny bounce in her step. He blinked rapidly and looked away. Damn...bouncing...Fuck. I love women. Oh shut up. /Archie scowled at his...conscience or what have you, as he followed after Theresa, trying to keep his eyes off of her. She glanced back and her beaming smile fell slightly. /Did I...do something wrong? She glanced down at the hand still within her grasp and quickly let go, as though his skin burned against hers. Stupid. Of course he won't like that. Honestly...
Startled out of his thoughts by the sudden departure of the soft warmth his hand had been encasing, Archie looked down at Theresa, surprised at the slight frown she now wore. He blinked. What the? I didn't say any of that out loud did I? Hmph. Strange girl. He scowled as a man rudely bumped into Theresa, knocking her back.
"Hey buddy, watch it!" he yelled after the man, shaking his head. With a grunt of annoyance he took Theresa's hand once more, keeping her close to his side. She flushed and looked at him questioningly. He raised an eyebrow at her. "Be careful would ya? I don't need to bring you back with any more bruises."
"Hmph. I know how to take care of myself thank you very much," she retorted quickly, pulling her hand from his and stomping away. She made it about two feet, nose in the air, before colliding with someone once more. She fell back with a squeak, strong arm encircling her waist. A snort of laughter came from above her and a second arm came around her waist, Archie leaning down to rest his head on her shoulder.
"What was that about taking care of yourself? Princess?" he teased, enjoying the way she flushed and scowled without looking at him. /Am I...flirting with Theresa? No. No way. Just...teasing, that's all. Yeah. That's it. Suuuuure it is. /He cleared his throat uncomfortably and released Theresa, who bit her lip as the warmth left her. She shivered slightly and continued ahead, this time keeping close to her companion.
"Oh just...shut up," she growled half heartedly, face burning from rapid blood flow. Archie just grinned, trailing her like a shadow. He mockingly pouted down at her.
"Now is that any way to talk to your husband? My dearest wife," he added sarcastically. Theresa bit her lip harder, heart no longer beating so frantically. She rolled her eyes at the thought of actually being married to Archie. It was a very difficult thought to decipher.
Being married to Archie? We'd kill each other...well maybe. He's actually behaving himself today...he can be sweet when he puts his mind to it, I suppose. They wove carefully trough the evermore crowded streets. Archie trailed close behind Theresa, one hand resting gently, unconsciously, on the small of her back. He has gentle hands....comfortable hands.
Spotting her destination dead ahead, Theresa sped up, reaching behind her to grab Archie's hand. Dragging him to the doorway, they stopped, Theresa with a triumphant beam on her face. Archie blinked.
"An...art cafÃ© ?" he questioned slowly, looking down at the redhead still attached to his arm. She bit her lip, a nervous habit he had noticed in her early on. Ooops, damn. Try to at least seem interested, idiot. I am! Uh-huh....
"I, um...just thought it might interest you...art and all," Theresa stammered, letting go of Archie's hand to play nervously with her fingers. His gaze softened and he smiled, taking her small hand once more.
"Well then let's go check it out," he said, tugging her along. She followed happily, glad her hunch had been right. They wandered in, immediately welcomed by the warm atmosphere. Buying drinks, Archie followed Theresa to a table in the corner, bathed in sunlight. He smiled as she curled up in her chair, sipping delicately. She looks like a cat sipping cream. For once it seemed a comfortable silence had placed itself upon them, and Archie took the opportunity to look around.
Obviously Theresa's been here before...wonder how she found it. Or how she had the time to, considering all our other extra curricular activities. Prolly needed to get away from Jay, that ass. Or me...I'm an ass too. Though I'm beginning to think that maybe we're just meant to always fight. Aside from the other day's physically painful fight, I do like...arguing with Theresa, I guess. And sparring's good too, just not getting my ass kicked. Speaking of ass kicking....maybe I should ask her about it? I mean, it's not everyday a girl makes a crater in a granite floor with her fist... Glancing up, Archie decided to take a chance.
"Hey Theresa...about yesterday. What happened?" he asked cautiously, holding his breath as Theresa looked at him, unreadable expression on her face.
"What do you mean?" she asked warily. Archie shrugged and fidgeted with his mug, leaning closer to her.
"I mean, well, okay so we got pissed off at each other, nothing new there. And I don't need to know why, it's just something we do right? Not that we've ever fought that bad before...but, yesterday was just, different, ya know? I mean..." Archie glanced around surreptitiously, and lowered his voice. "How the hell'd you make that crater? And that lightning flickering over you...well, it burned, when it touched me. How'd you do that? Persephone seemed really upset and...well, I just wanna know that you're okay."
Theresa looked away, eyes clouded with inner turmoil, hands fidgeting with her cup. Archie sighed and leaned back, looking away from her. /Well that went well. Could you be any smoother? /Shut the hell up.
"I don't know if I'm okay." Archie was startled out of his thoughts, barely catching her whispered answer. He turned to look at her once more, frowning at the pained look on her face. She looked...scared. Theresa looked down at her hands, trembling as they toyed with the china. She took a shaky breath as she glanced up at Archie, face unreadable, his blue-violet eyes holding hers steady. Biting her lower lip, she launched into a burst of incoherent babble.
"I don't know if I'm okay or not, or if I'm just pretending at everything, trying to make everything better. It's like, like, there's a mask and sometimes it slips and everything just falls out of control, and I get angry like I did yesterday, hurting everyone and myself. It hurts, a lot, and I'm sick because I think that maybe it's a good thing it hurts, because at least then I'm feeling /something, /anything but that hollow emptiness at the pit of it all," Theresa cried breathlessly, hot tears trailing down her cheeks.
Archie was quite startled at this outburst, to say the least. /Oh god she's crying again. Oh man, what do I do. Fuck, she's definitely not okay and part of that is definitely my fault. And Jay's. /Archie frowned as he thought of his leader, a quiet rage simmering in his belly as Theresa put her face in her hands, shoulders shaking as she sobbed silently. He glanced around, glad nobody had seemed to notice her little outburst, and scooted his chair closer to hers. Tentatively wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Archie pulled Theresa towards him, rubbing her back as she cried.
"Aw, I'm sorry Theresa. Here you bring me someplace cool, all friendly and stuff, and I just make you cry. I'm an ass," Archie muttered into her hair, feeling her warm tears against his neck. She shook her head violently, and reached up to wipe her cheeks.
"No, I'm sorry Archie. It seems like I'm always crying around you these days," Theresa muttered, pulling away from him with a tremulous attempt at a smile as she wiped her eyes dry. Archie shrugged and pulled his arm away.
"S'alright. Better than crying alone," he said, flicking her hair off his shoulder with a smile. Letting the smile slip from his face, he faced her seriously. "But Theresa, you know, maybe you should talk to somebody about the way you're feeling. Somebody better than me. I mean, knowing me, I'll just make you cry more or something, and you really don't need that. Or worse, I'll piss you off. And I really don't need that!"
"I'm sorry Archie, I really am," Theresa laughed slightly, wrapping her arms about her body. She bit her trembling lip and glanced away from Archie, gaze flickering downwards. "Persephone want me to stay away from you anyways."
"What," Archie said flatly, raising an eyebrow at her.
"She says you're a bad influence on me," Theresa whispered.
"Oh. Am I?" he asked. Theresa shrugged and shook her head.
"I don't think so...I...like spending time with you, believe it or not," she continued whispering, pulling her knees up to her chest, mindful of the dress she still wore. "With the exception of yesterday, I like fighting with you. It's fun. Takes my mind away from darker places that it sometimes likes to wander to."
"Yeah, I kinda like fighting with you too," Archie grinned. "Sooo, Persephone thinks I'm a bad influence eh? Well, it's a shame we have that project to work on together. I mean, she wouldn't want you failing school, would she? So, it looks like you're gonna be under my horrible influence awhile longer."
"Mmm that's right. She's going to be mad," Theresa smiled at Archie.
"And we would never want that, would we?" Archie grinned wider. Theresa shook her head and tried not to laugh.
"No. Never," she choked out. Archie stood suddenly, pulling her up with him.
"Well good then. Let's go see what other mischief we can get into. Hmm, we could always pull a prank on Neil. Odie would be good, but he's too damn smart," Archie mused as they left the cafÃ©. Theresa smiled and shook her head. /Persephone isn't going to like this at all. But she's wrong. Archie isn't the problem. I'm the problem, or at least something about me is. I just need time to figure it all out, figure myself out. Hopefully without getting into any more battles with Archie, or anybody. If I could harness that power...learn to control it in any situation.../Theresa sighed and blushed as she noticed that Archie hadn't released her hand yet. She smiled softly. She wouldn't bring it to his attention.
They drove back to the dorm companionably, easy conversation floating between them as they stuck to lighter topics. Archie not wanting to upset Theresa, Theresa just not wanting to think about it. They decided, in the end, not to prank Neil. They just weren't up to listening to him shrieking that day. Maybe another time. Theresa sighed as they entered the kitchen, greeted curiously by the rest of their friends, all of them no doubt wondering why she was with Archie of all people. She shook her head and wandered upstairs to get changed. Slipping the soft dress off, she thought over her outburst as she folded it.
Why am I always crying to Archie lately? It's so strange, but I just feel like I can...like maybe he can understand this better than anyone else. That he won't get freaked out, or think I'm completely mental. Ugh, why does life have to be so frustrating?! Hmm....he said I burned him...What was that burst of, of energy or whatever? It was powerful, definitely. I could feel it racing through my veins, like a surge of adrenaline, only headier, weightier...Does it only work with raw emotion behind it, or could I do it now?
Theresa frowned and clenched her hand into a fist, willing that power to reappear. She stood stock still, staring at her hand, waiting. Minutes passed as she concentrated, concentrated on how it felt in that moment, how it looked, the smell, everything... Nothing. Nothing was coming to her. She sighed in frustration and flopped down on her bed, not bothering to get redressed. She didn't feel like socializing with anyone just then anyways. She groaned though when, moments later, a knock came at her door.
"Just a sec!" she called, rolling out of bed and throwing the dress back on hastily. Tugging it down she opened the door and sighed when she saw it was Jay who had knocked. Normally she would be delighted to see him, but not lately. He smiled down at her, but she could see the concern in his eyes. "Hey."
"Hey yourself. Mind if we talk for a minute?" he asked. She nodded and left her room.
"Sure. Why don't we go up to the roof?" she said, already walking ahead of him. Jay sighed and followed after her. Settling themselves on the rooftop, Theresa looked at Jay curiously, waiting for him to start with his questions. She wasn't disappointed.
"Theresa. Are you sure you're okay?" he began tentatively. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you and Archie have apologized to each other, but I really need to know that we won't have a repeat of yesterday. If something like that happened again, and Cronus caught us off guard, somebody could get hurt. Badly."
"Yes Jay, I'm fine," Theresa winced, lying through her teeth. Jay was the last person she could talk to about her problems. "And I know, it was stupid. Persephone's going to have me go through some more exercises so there won't be a repeat. Wouldn't want to give Cronus any advantage, now would we?"
If Jay caught the sarcasm in her last comment, he didn't say anything. Simply smiled and nodded in agreement.
"Good. But you know, if you ever want to talk about anything, don't hesitate," he said seriously, resting one hand on her shoulder, giving her a gentle squeeze. Theresa glanced down, staring at his hand as though it were some foreign object that just did not belong. She bit her lip as it slipped softly away and glanced up at Jay. He smiled softly down at her, that gentle smile that used to turn her insides to mush, made her eager to inch closer to him, brush her skin against his, teasingly. "By the way, you look very pretty today. The dress. It suits you."
But not so much anymore. Where was the mush, the fluttering, the inching teasingly closer? What was the point, when one moment he was ranting about Cronus, and the next trying to flirt with her without a care in the world?
"Thank you," Theresa offered him a small smile, one that didn't quite reach her eyes. She turned to retreat to the confines of her bedroom. "I think I'll go lay down for a bit, I feel a headache coming on."
"Alright. Oh, Ares wants us to come in for a bit of night training at eight. I'll wake you up," Jay informed her. She simply nodded and left the roof, wandering down to her room. Closing the door behind her, she sighed and fell back onto her bed. Tears pricked at her eyes, lip trembling as she bit down, trying to keep control. Right then, screaming seemed like a good idea. Yeah, because I want everyone in the house to think I've finally, completely lost it. Just in case yesterday wasn't enough. Theresa buried her face into her pillow, letting the tears slip down her cheeks silently.
Depression ate at her at the thought of facing Jay again, and in training no less. Ares would no doubt make some more snide, insulting, infuriating comments, hoping to get a rise out of her. The god was sadistic. Unless it concerned Archie of course. Oh no, Archie could do no wrong in his eyes. Now that was infuriating. She punched her mattress. No, no, can't think like that, I'll just get mad at Archie again. Which is a bad thing right now. He was fun to hang out with today, and it's not like I can really hang out with Jay anymore. Why does he have to be like this? It's like he thinks I'll always be around, waiting until Cronus is gone and he can sweep me into his arms like some fucked up fairytale. Well not at the rate we're going. At the rate I'm going.
Slowly her eyes fell shut and Theresa drifted off to sleep. Against all odds, hoping it would be dreamless. Luck did not favour her slumber, though her dreams were far from what she could have ever imagined.
Archie frowned as a cold shiver went down his spine, the back of his neck tingling. Rubbing his neck absentmindedly, he glanced at his watch. /Damn Ares. Stupid training. /He stood with a sigh and, cracking his back, walked slowly to the rooftop door and shuffled inside. Thumping down the stairs, he passed Jay knocking on Theresa's door.
"Time to go Terri," he called, getting a soft, mumbled reply. Archie frowned as another shiver shot up his spine, but shrugged it off and ran down the stairs, catching Neil in a headlock. Theresa sighed as she heard him shriek, resting her head in her hands. She bit her lip as she heard Jay go downstairs and slowly dragged herself out of bed to get changed. Her heart was thudding rapidly in her chest from her dream still, and she shivered as she left her room, slowly descending the stairs.
Gem tones swirled around her again, only this time onyx was the most prominent. Raging, she could feel the fury lashing out at her, overwhelming intensity leaving her breathless. Inky tendrils leaking out, mingling with her sapphire lightning. Her control was wavering and the onyx was moving in, closer, threatening, consuming her. A spike slowly formed in the centre of onyx, and suddenly amethyst was moving, blazing towards her. But time slowed and the spike shot out, striking her core. Time froze as ice seeped through her veins, blood pooling bitterly in her mouth, dripping over her pale lips. Her mind clouded, dark thoughts whispering silently to her as blood poured out of her mouth. It pooled everywhere, trapping her. Blood, blood, crimson, hot, silken blood!
Theresa jumped as Archie tapped her on the shoulder, and she looked up at him wide eyed. He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Uh, you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost or something," he asked. Theresa blinked in surprise. They were in the school already.
"I-I'm fine," she whispered hoarsely, tears pricking her eyes at the remembrance of her dream, and at the concern shining clearly in Archie's eyes. She looked away, shamed as he gave her a disbelieving look. She suddenly hated lying to him, her stomach queasy. But before they could say anything else, Ares was belting out instructions for them to pair off. Somehow she ended up against Jay, Herry and Atlanta facing off, while Archie was stuck with both Neil and Odie.
Theresa sighed as they all headed out to the mats, paired off but all fighting at the same time. No weapons, just hand to hand. She could see the faint apprehension in Jay's eyes and she smiled bitterly. What the hell, may as well go easy on him. He's scared enough as is. And so the fights began, Theresa fazing in and out, ducking here and dodging there. Jay was getting better, though she much preferred Archie as a sparring partner. She glanced over and watched him fighting the two boys, getting lost in watching his technique. And so it came as a surprise to her as she got smacked in the face for the second time in as many days.
"Shit," she heard Jay curse as she stumbled back, dazed. The others paused to see what happened. Theresa shook her head, clearing away the shock of impact. Her lip burned and reaching up to touch it, her hand came away with a smear of red. /Blood. /Suddenly it was hard to breath, and her vision was getting blurry, hand trembling violently as she stared at it. Everything was going blue and she was sucked into another realm of consciousness.
Blurry and blue, but she could still tell it was blood around her. The smell, coppery and bitter, pervaded her senses. Wind whipping at her hair, raw and violent, and she was so utterly alone. Where was her amethyst protector?! Surely he hadn't left her here...left her to be consumed by...by emptiness, unhallowed and leering. Voices were distant and clamouring...And she was sinking, no, being pulled down, faster and faster and faster!
A hand touched her shoulder and she gasped as her senses were flooded with another's presence. This person...memories flashed through her mind, recent ones. Memories of her dream belonged to this person, rooted in their subconscious, connected to her somehow. Deeply. And suddenly Theresa awoke, her face buried into a strong neck, a musky scent in her nose, and she was sobbing incoherently.
Archie tentatively raised a hand to stroke her back gently, as shocked as the rest of the team at this sudden turn of events. They had thought Theresa was having a normal vision and gathered around waiting for it to finish. Only the look on her face...she was lost, and small sparks were flickering over her skin. Shouting and snapping fingers hadn't worked to wake her, much to Neil's disappointment, but when Archie had dared to gently touch her shoulder, she gasped loudly and suddenly buried herself against him. Her arms were tight around him, her body trembling as she sobbed, muttering about dreams and blood, sparks gone.
Atlanta and Odie exchanged speculative glances while Jay looked on jealously, as Archie wrapped his arms tighter around Theresa, rubbing her back as they waited for her to calm down. With a long sigh, Theresa let her arms relax, finally feeling herself resurface to reality. She nuzzled her nose against the neck she was buried in, slightly confused but comforted by the feel of strong, warm arms rubbing her soothingly. Her eyes focussed and she pulled back slightly, looking at the green shirt in front of her, noting the small blood stain, no doubt from her lip.
"Theresa?" a deep voice above her murmured. She looked up slowly, meeting Archie's blue-violet gaze, eyes full of concern and perhaps a bit of fear. She gasped again as she observed him, knowing it was him she had felt, had connected with. Her hand reached up, laying against his cheek gently, tenderly. Eyes widened in surprise and narrowed in jealously at this soft contact.
"You," she whispered in awe. "You shared my dreams."
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