Some new revelations come about, and changes are made to the team dynamics. Will they unify our heroes, or slowly tear them apart?
A/N: Woohoo, another chapter! And man, did it take me forever to finish. I hope I don't disappoint anyone with it, it's not the most exciting one yet. BUT! It has plot development! Oooooo, so shiny. And yet another twist in my already twisted story. So I hope you all enjoy it, and gimme some feedback pretty please! I love my reviewers so very much. hands out cookie to all Oh and that piece of fanart I mentioned in chapter five is up, on my DA account, which is also jennieman. Just in case anyone's interested. It's not much, but it might give you a tiny hint of things that will happen later on in the story. So without further ado, on with the show!!
A New Twist
Chapter the Sixth
Archie stared out the window of Herry's truck, not really seeing what was passing by. After the incident with Theresa, Ares had dismissed them early, a strange look on his face. Archie himself was confused, to say the least. /How the hell do you share somebody's dreams? Well she is psychic...Okay, so why me? /He glanced ahead at her, but her head was bent forward, hair blocking her face.
Theresa was silent as she sat between Herry and Jay, keenly aware of the tension pervading the truck. She sucked on her slightly swollen lip, knowing Jay was going to start his interrogation as soon as they got home. What the hell was she going to say? /I don't want to say anything. It's between me and Archie anyways...though, well, Persephone should know too.../She sighed and got out of the truck, arms crossed and head bowed as she walked into the house, gnawing her lip as she thought.
Archie watched her as he followed, remembering idly how his breath had hitched in his throat as he held her, and she nuzzled so gently into him. Like it was normal, like it was right...like it was her place to nuzzle into. Whoa, whoa, what the hell. Theresa and nuzzling should definitely not go together so well, least not when it concerns me. Jay, maybe, though he's not gonna be earning any brownie points if he starts ripping into us. Damn it, why can't anything in our lives just be normal?!
Theresa sighed. She just wanted to go to bed. Not to sleep, just to be away from everyone.
Ah, but duty called of course. She paused a moment, redirecting her steps to lead her into the living room, head still bowed. Jay sighed and ran a hand through his hair, leaning on the arm of the couch. Archie stood in the doorway to the kitchen, arms crossed as he leaned against the doorframe. Everyone else took seats, looking nervously between the three.
"So. What happened back there," Jay asked sternly, tone demanding an explanation, immediately. Theresa bristled slightly at it, frowning down at the ground.
"I don't know," she shook her head. "It was like I was stuck or something. That's never happened before...It was like, the harder I fought, the faster and deeper I got pulled down. Until...something else broke through for me."
"Was it a vision?" Jay frowned, not liking where this was going.
"No. I don't think it was. It..." Theresa hesitated, childishly not wanting to share her dreams with him. She glanced over at Archie and bit her lip. "It was like my dreams. Might have something to do with them."
"Dreams that you're somehow sharing with Archie," Jay noted, trying not to glare at the purple haired boy. "How? Why Archie?"
"I don't know," Theresa answered again, getting frustrated. Why not Archie?! /she wanted to scream at him. /Jealous?! "I didn't even realize I was doing it until I found them in his mind!"
"Whoa, whoa, you went into my mind?" Archie cut in, glaring at her suspiciously. "How?"
"Gods, I don't know okay?" she seethed at all the questions.
"How do you not know how you get into somebody's mind?" Neil asked, choosing to watch the drama unfolding rather than his mirror. Theresa could feel herself getting angry again.
"Look all I know is one second I'm stuck, the next I have another consciousness touching mine, and it's filled with my dreams! And then I woke up," she huffed, crossing her arms. Archie blinked.
"Hmm. Archie did touch you when you were stuck," Jay said, standing up to pace thoughtfully. "Maybe that did it. You should really speak to Persephone about all this. What were you dreaming about?"
"It was nothing," Theresa said, looking away. Jay frowned.
"Theresa, I don't think it's nothing, not if you're getting stuck in visions," he stopped pacing, standing in front of her. She looked up at him defiantly.
"Fine. Then it's none of your business," she retorted. Silence fell over the room and Archie straightened in the doorway. Jay looked slightly taken aback.
"I think if it's starting to affect how you fight, and could potentially endanger all of us, then yes it is my business. It's my business to keep this team safe, and you getting stuck in visions and having lightning pouring over you is not safe, Theresa," Jay frowned down at her. Theresa glared right back, anger rising. Her hand started to tingle, but she ignored it. "If that happens again when we're out fighting Cronus, who knows what could happen! We can't run that risk."
The mention of Cronus, Theresa would later reflect, was probably what sent her anger boiling over the edge. She felt it rise sharply in hot waves and the tingles in her hand grew with them. The sudden crackling of energy tore her attention away from glowering at Jay, and she looked down. Her hand was encased in the lightning like energy, startling her. She blinked and raised her hand, turning it over as her anger started to fade, being replaced with surprise. The blue sparks slowly started to fade as well. Theresa took in a sharp breath.
"And I suppose you meant for that to happen," Jay's voice broke her concentration and suddenly the anger, and the sparks, were back full force. She bit down on her lip as the sparks spread up her arm, cheeks flushed with anger. What the hell does he know? How dare he stand there and patronize me like a little child who did something wrong?! What happens with my body and my mind are none of his concern, and it's gonna stay that way, damn it!
"Theresa, maybe you should calm down," Atlanta said tentatively, the furious look on her face frightening the younger girl. She almost flinched as Theresa's eyes snapped over to her, the normally emerald orbs taking on a blue sheen. Theresa opened her mouth to snap back at Atlanta when a sudden sharp, stabbing pain in her chest took her breath away. She gasped for breath and suddenly all sparks were gone, and she was left panting from the exertion. Covering her mouth, Theresa coughed violently, leaning against the other doorframe for support.
Pulling her hand away, her eyes widened at the sight of blood. Not much, just speckles, but...Her mind worked furiously, connecting her dreams, the vision, her sudden power...She had a theory, not that she would tell Jay. She bit her lip as tears pricked at her eyes, hoping she could prove her hunch wrong. Why couldn't she just be normal?
"Theresa?" Jay asked, concerned, hand held out, almost touching her shoulder. Theresa straightened without turning around.
"I'm going to bed," she announced weakly, leaving the room. A confused and tense silence fell over them, Jay staring absentmindedly at the spot where she had just stood. Archie frowned, glancing between him and the empty doorway.
"Well that went well," he said sarcastically, breaking the silence. He moved across the room towards his bedroom. "I'm going to bed too. And no Jay, I ain't telling you what she dreamed about. G'night."
With that, Archie shut the door behind him, not having to turn around to know that Jay was glaring at him. He smirked and got changed, half hoping he wouldn't be sharing any dreams tonight. The other half hoped he would, if only out of concern for Theresa. His first half won out though, and his sleep was uninterrupted.
The morning dawned clear and quiet. The house was quiet as everyone woke and ate breakfast. The ride to school was quiet as well. Classes, lunch, the ride home. All quiet. In fact, for the next week, it was fairly quiet, Theresa being practically silent. When she was even around that was, which was becoming less frequent with each passing day. Archie found himself becoming very annoyed at this new turn of events and decided finally at the beginning of the next week, after Theresa disappeared for the entire weekend, that he was going to follow her that day at lunch. I mean, honestly, how are we supposed to piss off Persephone if she doesn't hang out with me more? Waaiit....what if she is avoiding me?
Archie frowned and glanced over at Theresa, quietly finishing up their project for the class. After tomorrow, they would no longer be happily married. And in the next few weeks, they wouldn't even be high school students. The year would be over in two weeks and they were graduating that year. How this is gonna work if we don't beat Cronus over the summer, I don't know....Hey, bell rang. She's leaving. Shit!
He quickly scampered out of the room after her, trying to look casual as he followed her to their lockers. Watching her out of the corner of his eye, he noted that she was heading in the direction of the library. Giving some excuse to Herry, he shut his locker and followed after her. Sure enough, she headed into the library. Archie had a sudden sense of dÃ©jÃ vu, and hurried after her with a frown. She quickly went to the back of the library, to the corner Archie had claimed was his. He gave her a few moments to get settled, watching as she pulled out a few sheets of paper, before making his way over to her. Theresa was quite startled when he sat down suddenly across from her, heart thumping in her chest.
"Geez Archie, don't scare me like that," she hissed at him. He simply leaned back, arms crossed as he frowned at her.
"Are you avoiding me?" he asked bluntly. Theresa's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"What? No," she said. "Why would I avoid you?"
"Persephone," he replied evenly, watching carefully as she frowned back.
"No Archie, I'm not avoiding you because of Persephone, or any reason for that matter. Why would you think that?" she asked in confusion. He snorted.
"Well, considering the only times I've seen you have been in class and during training...kinda makes a person wonder," Archie shrugged. "So if you haven't been playing the avoidance game, where have you been?"
Theresa blushed and glanced down at her sheets, shuffling them a bit nervously.
"Well, I have been playing the avoidance game. Just, not with you, but with Jay. Sorry if it seems like I was avoiding you too," she looked up, apology clear in her eyes. He gave her a slight smile, which she brightly returned. She hadn't even noticed that she'd been avoiding him, per se. She had just been so caught up in staying away from Jay and working on her theory, that all her time seemed to disappear. She realized though as they sat in a comfortable silence, that she had missed being around Archie, had missed his presence that past week. She looked at him appraisingly. "Hey Arch, can you keep a secret?"
"Of course," he said, affronted. Theresa giggled and stood up, going to sit next to him.
"Good. Then I'll tell you what I've been up to, besides avoiding Jay. It has to do with all the weird stuff that's been going on," she whispered mischievously, pushing her chair close to his.
"Like with the whole sharing dreams thing?" Archie perked up, relieved that she hadn't been avoiding him and was now sitting so close. Truth be told, Theresa was quickly becoming his favourite person to hang out with, besides Atlanta. And well, since she was busy with the boyfriend, it had been a somewhat lonely week. And now a breakthrough? This week was shaping up to be a good one.
"Well, no, I haven't quite figured out the dream thing," Theresa frowned unhappily. "But that might have more to do with the content of the dreams themselves. As far as those sparks are concerned though, well. Persephone said my powers were increasing, hence the lightning. And you said that it burned when it touched you, not to mention the whole crater thing."
"Yeah, that was a little...disconcerting to say the least," Archie smirked at her. She nodded enthusiastically, edging closer.
"Exactly. Well, that night when I snapped at Jay, I got a sharp pain in my chest and...I coughed up blood," Theresa rushed to continue, seeing the concerned look on Archie's face. "It wasn't a lot, just a few spots, but it got me thinking. Now, what was similar about every time those sparks came?"
Archie frowned as he thought about it. Similar situations? He couldn't really remember any specifics...the first time it had happened was right after that big fight and the second was after training....adrenaline maybe? Hmm, though that was more for the first fight, considering how much it fuelled the fight after the fight....Wait a second though...
"You were angry," he said. She smiled.
"Bingo. The only time they come is when I'm angry. Not very helpful, I know. Well, for now, who knows I might be able to gain control of it," Theresa mused. "But, what's important is the blood aspect. It got me thinking about bloodlines and our heritage, and where exactly I got my powers from in the first place. I mean, Theseus wasn't a psychic, but...his father is a god."
"Poseidon," Archie said, catching on.
"And Poseidon's father is...?" Theresa trailed off.
"Cronus!" he exclaimed, sitting back in surprise. Theresa sighed and sat back with him.
"Exactly. I'm descended from Theseus, but at the core of it all, I'm descended from Cronus. It's his blood running through my veins, and I'm starting to think it's his power coursing through my body," she sighed unhappily, gazing down at her small, pale hands. "His power, that only appears when I'm in the darkest of moods, and leaves me feeling so drained afterwards. I think the dreams too....the onyx is Cronus. And I think he wants to use me to his advantage."
"Fat chance," Archie snorted, startling the redhead. He smirked at her, determined look on his face. "Like hell he's gonna get you. Over my dead body, Theresa."
"Archie..." she whispered softly, touched by his words. He blushed and looked away, clearing his throat uncomfortably.
"Anyways...have you told Persephone your little theory yet?" he asked.
"Not yet. I've been going over some books on blood spells, connections, power, that sort of thing. I'll tell her tomorrow though, or tonight, depending on when Ares let's us go," she sighed. "She knows about us sharing dreams though. I think Ares told her."
"She knows? And I'm still alive?" Archie half joked. He was scared she was going to pop up suddenly, Queen of the Dead and all, and start flaying him alive. Theresa giggled as he paled.
"She knows, but she's not too happy. She's not sure how it happened either. Maybe because of the power increase...?" Theresa shrugged. Archie relaxed in his chair, relieved but still wary. He jumped as the bell rang suddenly, earning more laughter from Theresa. It was good to hear it again after more than a week without it, and Archie found himself wanting to hear it more often. He scowled as they stood, leaving the library for class.
"Ugh class. Why can't the year be done yet?" he moaned, dragging his feet. Theresa rolled her eyes at him.
"Oh come on Archie, two more weeks. I think we can live till then," she smiled, patting him on the shoulder as they reached her class. "See you in art."
He gave her a sulky frown before wandering off to gym class, looking forward to art already. The frown fell away though, replaced by the smallest of smiles. Happy now that she was talking to him once again, and ignoring Jay, Archie didn't even mind when his annoying little conscience decided to pop up.
/Hey man...you do realize you haven't figured out why it's you she's sharing her dreams with yet. I mean, why not Jay or somebody else? /Who cares? I'm glad it's not Jay, he'd probably overreact and lock her up or something, knowing him. That, or she'd kill him. Hmm, good point. But still....Well, I'll ask her again in class alright? Geez, leave me alone already, I almost just got hit with a basketball. Oh, I'm soooo sorry. Am I distracting you? Yes! Okay, one last thought then. Make it good. ...Theresa's breasts. You son of a-!
And thus, Archie was smacked in the head with a basketball. Needless to say, he was once again a little grumpy when art class rolled around. He slumped into his seat across from Theresa, frown on his face. She gave him a curious look.
"I hate basketball," was all he said. Theresa just laughed and shook her head as she settled into her chair, pulling out the old sketch of Archie she had started. Archie glanced over at her as she started humming softly, the tune slightly familiar though he couldn't quite place it. His eyes slowly drifted down her body and he mentally smacked himself as he caught himself staring at her chest again. Damn it all!
Theresa however, also caught him staring, not that he noticed. Her face reddened as she realized why he had been so fidgety the day after their fight, in the cafeteria. She quickly looked back at her sketchbook as Archie looked up, not wanting to embarrass him by catching him in the act. Because knowing Archie, he would get embarrassed, and then angry, and then just plain defensive. And that was not an Archie she felt like dealing with just then. She smiled gently down at the picture as she softly rubbed her finger against the sharp black lines.
Idly sketching random things in his own book, Archie quietly studied the girl across from him, deciding to admire the delicate features of her face, rather than just her body. He smiled slightly as her face scrunched up in concentration, and began sketching her as she sat there. Comfortable silence fell over the two as they spent the period fleshing out pencil sketches of each other, catching quick, secret glances when the other wasn't looking. Neil raised an eyebrow at this, paying close attention to them while pretending to be gazing into his mirror. An art that he had perfected over the years. Having people think you were nothing but a dumb, narcissistic blond could be very handy sometimes. Not that he wasn't quite vain, but that was just a given.
/Hmm what do we have here? Could those two possibly be getting over their respective crushes on Jay and Atlanta? And, stranger even, getting them on each other? /Neil fought to hold back an undignified snort of laughter as Theresa glanced over at Archie, nibbling on her bottom lip. They had certainly been getting far more friendly with each other of late, and now sharing dreams? Man, Jay must be sooooo jealous, no wonder he was such a dick last week. And now Theresa's avoiding him....man life is never boring around here!
And, Neil being Neil, his luck held out and soon life was made even less boring by the gods. The bell rang, as it usually did, and the teens slowly made their way to their lockers, leisurely putting things away and chatting while waiting for the halls to clear. Soon enough, they were the only ones left and they crossed through the portal to the gods domain. Archie hung back with Theresa, talking about their art studios while Jay led them into the gym, Ares in his usual spot. Neil smirked as he glanced back at them, putting his mirror away carefully before Ares called them into line in his booming voice, seeming disgruntled about something.
"Alright, settle down! There's some changes that are going to take place that you all need to know about," Ares ordered, immediately catching their attention.
"What kind of changes Ares?" Jay asked immediately, wary of the scowl on the war god's face.
"Important ones," he replied, beginning to pace in front of the team. The large god sighed in exasperation, running a hand roughly over his face. "Concerning your teamwork. You all work well enough with each other in different situations, but you're not getting enough concentrated training time. So your mentors and I have decided to try something new. Once school is out, you'll be moving in here, make it easier for lessons to occur. And you'll be partnered up."
"Partnered up?" Archie asked, bemused look on his face. His mentor stopped in front of him and looked down at the smaller mortal.
"That's right boy. No doubt you all realize you each play a certain role in this team, and with that role comes specialities of sorts. The partnerships will not only help strengthen the bonds of the team, but allow you to grow in other areas as well. Such as your ability with weaponry, Archie, or Atlanta's hunting skills," Ares explained in an abnormally patient tone. "You'll be living together, eating, sleeping, breathing one another, learning from each other. You will learn to adjust and become stronger for it. Do I make myself clear?!"
"Yes sir!" they all answered, some a little less enthusiastic than others. Theresa sighed and shifted her hips, arms crossing over her chest. She wondered who she would be partnered with. /Please don't let it be Jay, please, please, please...../She glanced down the line toward her leader, a small concentrated frown on his face. She quickly looked away as Ares spoke again.
"Good. Now, your partners," he stood in front of them, appraising them one by one, and once more wondering how well this plan of Hera's was going to pan out. "First off, yes I realize there are seven of you. Odie, you will not be partnered with any one of the others. Rather, you'll be learning from, and teaching, all of them. Hermes is having a special room added for you, a sort of technological play room, if you will. Hopefully you can come up with some new gadgets of yours, while learning all you can about physical fighting from the others."
The younger boy looked somewhat placated by this, though perhaps a bit left out at not being partnered up. He glanced around at his team mates. /Though really, would I be able to handle living in close quarters with any of them? Like Neil..../Odie suppressed a shudder and instead gave Ares a small smile of acceptance. So maybe being on my own won't be such a bad thing.
"Atlanta," Ares called out next, almost regretfully as the fiery girl perked up. Oh, I hope I'm with Archie or Theresa. Or maybe Herry. He almost felt sorry for her. "You'll be with Neil."
A deafening silence fell over the room as Atlanta stood frozen, Neil sparing her a cursory glance. Theresa stared at her friend, reaching out to poke her gently, wondering if she had passed out while standing up. The rest simply blinked in shock. /Atlanta and...Neil? /Theresa's poke seemed to work.
"E-excuse me?! I'M with NEIL?! Wh-what the...what the he-" Atlanta spluttered in rage, her shaking hand pointing accusingly at the innocent blond next to her.
"Well you know, you're no great joy either," he smirked down at her, his mind working furiously to think of all the ways he could tease an annoy her. An idea popped into his head, and he let his eyes wander very openly down her body. "Hey Ares, you said we get to sleep with our partners?"
"Not like that Neil!!" The response was thundering in the gym. Neil shrugged and pulled out his mirror, pouting into it. He winked down at the trembling redhead.
"We'll see about that," he grinned. Atlanta looked ready to turn him into a pile of bloody mush. Ares sighed and shook his head. Onto the next pair.
"Jay," he called out. Their leader straightened, thinking subconsciously, /please be Theresa... /"You'll be with Herry."
Jay's shoulders sagged slightly, almost imperceptibly as he turned to Herry, smile on his face. The large boy grinned broadly back at him, clearly happy with the arrangement. Well, at least I'm not with Neil. But that means Theresa's...
"Which leaves the two of you," Ares said, coming to stand in front of Archie and Theresa, thoughtful look on his face as he sized them up. The two exchanged curious glances. "The Fighter and the Warrior. Things should be quite interesting in the next few weeks. I expect to have great results from the two of you, especially, seeing as you will be under my tutelage. Don't disappoint me."
With that Ares turned to leave, a clear dismissal in their eyes. Turning to leave, they paused as he spoke again, back still turned to the group.
"I would suggest you start spending time with your partners now. And little witch...I would watch how I moved, if I were you," he said evenly, glancing over his shoulder, warning glint in his eyes as they met with Theresa's. She stared back evenly, unafraid of the war god's subtle threats. She arched one delicate eyebrow at him and left the building.