A/N: Woohoo!!! Chapter 7, at last! It's amazing, I know. I have to say, there's a lot of dialogue in this chapter, but I really, really like how the ending turned out. I dunno, you guys tell me what you think, since I don't usually write action scenes. But ya! Hope you all like it, looking forward to your reviews, as always! Hugs!
A New Twist
Chapter the Seventh
Archie scowled as he walked out of the school, Theresa trailing slightly behind him, silent as she contemplated Ares' parting words. Archie glanced at her, slowing down to match her pace. He didn't like the way Ares had threatened her, slight or not. And now they were partners? What is that all about anyways? I mean, Neil and Atlanta? Ya, that will really improve team unity, if they don't kill each other first.
Theresa stared ahead, slightly amused by Neil and Atlanta's antics. The blond was simply asking to be beaten by the fiery young girl, who couldn't believe how bad her luck was. /That's almost...ironic, in a way. /She tried not to snort as Neil ruffled Atlanta's hair, earning a wild punch. Which, thanks to his amazing luck, completely missed it's target. Atlanta yelled in frustration and stomped off to Herry's truck. She giggled slightly and glanced up at Archie, wondering how he was taking this. She blinked and flushed in surprise as her gaze met his steady one, his eyes studying her intently. She shivered involuntarily beneath the piercing gaze and opened her mouth to say something when she suddenly remembered.
"Oh shoot, I was supposed to go see Persephone," she frowned, smacking her forehead lightly as she turned back to the school. Archie smiled and shook his head as he turned with her.
"Mind if I join you? I was thinking maybe I could get a little light shed on these dreams of yours that have been invading my sleep," Archie smirked down at her. "And maybe, after, we can talk about...this."
"Sure Arch. But I'm not going to protect you from Persephone," Theresa smiled up at him.
"Hey guys, hurry up!" Herry called from his truck. Archie waved dismissively.
"We've got stuff to do, you guys go," he called back as he and Theresa went to enter the school again. He wasn't sure, but he could have sworn he caught a jealous glare on Jay's face. I think this partner stuff may be a little more than fun. No arguments there. Archie and his...conscience shared an inner evil laugh. He lowered his hand to the small of Theresa's back, again unconsciously, as he followed her through the portal of the gods. She blushed slightly, a small smile tugging at the corner of her lips, as she glanced up at him through lowered eyelashes. He didn't seem to notice, which suited her just fine. They walked in a comfortable silence to Persephone's room, each wondering their own stray thoughts. Like, if they could get any more information out of Persephone on the whole partner thing.
They reached her room soon enough and Theresa quietly pushed open the large doors, Archie following a bit hesitantly. He wasn't sure if Persephone was going to be angry or nice, and he didn't exactly feel like suffering her wrath if it turned out to be the former. Theresa gave him a small smile and wandered over to the cushions in the middle of the room. Persephone glanced up from watering her flowers and gave the pair a soft smile. Sighing, she checked her roses one more time before joining the teens, giving Archie a cursory glance, noting in amusement how he paled as their gazes met briefly. Archie seemed to sense her amusement, and his foolhardy pride came rushing back full force, his shoulders setting squarely as he crossed his arms, standing behind Theresa. Persephone sat and gestured to an empty cushion.
"Please Archie, sit down and rest," she offered gently, deciding that she would keep her peace for the time being. Her eyed her warily, suspicious, but sat slowly as Theresa nudged his leg, giving him an encouraging smile. He scooted slightly closer to her, arms still crossed as he looked around the room nonchalantly. Damn there's a lot of flowers in here. Good thing I don't have allergies...
"So, what can I help the two of you with today? It wouldn't happen to be concerning these dreams that I've only heard tell of, from Ares no less. Now would it?" Persephone prodded gently, raising an eyebrow at her flushing student.
"It does. I'm sorry Persephone, there were just some things I...had to think through, before I came to see you," Theresa bit her lip. She's nervous...about Persephone? Archie's mouth twitched into a hint of a frown. "The dreams, and the lightning. I think they're connected to Cronus."
Archie watched Persephone as she took in what Theresa was saying. She nodded calmly, thoughtfully.
"It's a very good possibility that your lineage, your bloodline has allowed you to develop certain attributes that could be traced back to him. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're dangerous, so long as you learn to properly harness them," Persephone mused. "For now they're unstable and unpredictable, but we will work to correct that. I've already thought about this, and I admit, it is part of the reason for your partnership. Along with the dreams."
"Yeah, about those," Archie said gruffly, feeling brave enough to speak up. "So we kinda know why she's having them, being psychic and related to Cronus and all that. But what I don't get is why she's sharing them with me, specifically. She hasn't shared them with anybody else."
"Of that, I'm unsure. You are left handed, are you not Archie?" Persephone asked abruptly. Archie blinked at the sudden change of topic.
"Uhh, yeah..." he muttered, confused look on his face as Persephone nodded again. A muscle under his eye twitched. What the hell does that have to do with anything?
"Left handed people usually start out as a twin in the womb. Twins tend to have latent psychic connections. So it's possible that out of the seven of you, you would be most receptive to Theresa's influence. Are you prominent in the dreams themselves?" the goddess explained absentmindedly.
"He is. It's always the two of us, close together while everyone else is a bit further away," Theresa added, flushing as she glanced quickly at Archie. "Well...except for the last one. The last one was...foreboding I suppose. He tried to save me but he couldn't...There was so much blood..."
Archie blinked, wide eyed with surprise as she trailed off into a whisper, eyes glazing over in memory. /Blood?! She's dreaming about blood? Why didn't I have that one too? Who cares, that's freaky! /He frowned at his partner in concern as Persephone took her hand, patting it comfortingly.
"Dream visions do not always come true Theresa. They are different from your clairvoyant visions, which can show you what has already been. These ones can predict a possible outcome, but since you have a sense of what may happen, you can take steps to change that future. I'm glad you two were put together now, knowing the nature of your dreams," Persephone sighed as she let go of Theresa to pour tea for the pale girl. Archie absentmindedly took the cup that was offered, carefully watching Theresa. "And it would explain why you're sharing her dreams Archie. If your future paths should cross in such a manner...she will need your protection. It's good that you two are partnered. You can build trust, learn from each other, move fluidly together."
"Is that why we've been partnered up? To work more efficiently as partners, rather than a whole team?" Archie asked, sniffing suspiciously at his tea. Theresa smiled indulgently at him.
"It's only chamomile tea Archie. It won't kill you," she whispered. He scoffed at her, glaring at his cup before taking a tentative sip. Persephone smiled and stood.
"You're right Archie. You all work well enough as a whole, but you can all stand to learn things from each other. Take Neil and Atlanta for example. Neil needs to learn how to fight. And how to keep quiet. Atlanta is perfect for that. But she has a wild temper, and she's easily set off. Neil is not, so hopefully some of his calm demeanour will rub off on her," Persephone explained, taking up her watering can once more. The pair behind her nodded slowly, Archie still wary of his tea. Theresa giggled at him, feeling slightly more comforted by the fact that he would be there with her, whatever may come. "Although both of you need to control your tempers. Hopefully you won't beat it out of each other in training."
"Don't worry Persephone. I'm sure Archie can be somewhat tamed," Theresa smirked at her partner. "Or at the very least, house broken."
" 'Scuse me?" Archie twitched as she laughed, and glanced over at Persephone. "Speaking of houses...where exactly are we gonna be living once school's out? Ares said we'd be here in the school, but where? Unless you guys have made us a magical hall of our own."
"No Archie, I'm afraid not," the goddess smiled down at him. "You two will be staying with me, in the Underworld. That way I can keep a closer eye on Theresa, should anything happen. You'll have quarters there, similar to what you have now. But don't worry about that for now. School is still in for another two weeks, and then you're having your graduation. I should think you would be more concerned with that. So off you go. Relax, have fun for this little while you have left."
That said, Persephone shooed them out of her solarium, cajoling them to go out, have fun and not worry about what the summer would bring. Archie shrugged and walked away from the room, hands shoved deep in his pockets as he silently observed Theresa beside him. She was gnawing her lip again. Archie sighed.
"Come on Theresa, you heard Persephone. Don't worry about things, I'm sure they'll all work out in the end," he tried to reassure her. He was sure that was something girls liked to hear...from some stupid movie or another. She looked up at him, concern filling her eyes and...amusement?
"It's not that," she sighed as they left the school, heading for the brownstone. Archie raised an eyebrow.
"It's not? Then what's wrong?" he demanded, arms crossing. Theresa arched an eyebrow at him in return.
"Weren't you listening to Persephone? We only have two weeks until graduation. And I still don't have a dress!" she exclaimed, shaking her head at him. Archie stared at her a moment before bursting into laughter.
"That's it? Man, I will never understand girls!" he laughed as he opened the front door, allowing her to go in first. Herry poked his head into the hall.
"Hey guys. You're just in time," he greeted them enthusiastically. The pair exchanged glances and wandered into the kitchen to find everyone already gathered there. Atlanta still looked murderous.
"In time for what? What's going on?" Theresa asked, leaning against the counter. Archie stood next to her, their arms brushing slightly. Jay sighed and rubbed his neck as he took in his team.
"Look, this might be what the gods want us to do, but I want to make sure you guys are all okay with these partnerships. The last thing we want, or need, is something breaking up this team," Jay began, pacing across the kitchen. "I'm not sure exactly what they're trying to accomplish, but if you guys are all comfortable with it, then maybe we should give it a try."
"I think the only person who has a problem is Lanta," Archie smirked at his pouting friend. She scowled and turned her back on him.
"Damn right I do. No offence, but NEIL? Why am I stuck with him?" she demanded, shooting the blond a dirty look. He simply shrugged and pulled out his mirror, tiny smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. Jay sighed and turned to Archie and Theresa.
"What about you two? Are you going to be alright together?" he asked, eyeing Archie warily as he addressed Theresa. He was slightly surprised at the happy smile she gave him, glancing up at her stoic partner.
"We'll be just fine Jay. Persephone gave us an idea of why we're together when we went to see her. Don't worry, everything will work out. Right partner?" she smirked mischievously, nudging Archie with her hip. He grunted and glanced down at her.
"Only if you're ready for the beating of your life," he snorted as she shoved him away none too gently. "Cuz you know our tempers. And I don't take well to being house broken."
"We'll see who is beating whom soon enough. If I recall correctly, you lost last time," Theresa called as she left the kitchen, heading for her bedroom.
"Only cuz you cheated!! Dirty little fighter," Archie grumbled, moving into the living room. Flopping down on the couch, he flipped on the television, joined by the rest of the male team members. Atlanta stormed up the stairs after Theresa. "Stupid girls, cheating when they fight...Hmph. Kick her butt next time. Wait until she's thinking about her stupid dress."
Herry and Jay exchanged a glance as Archie grumbled to himself. Herry grabbed the remote from him and flipped randomly through the channels. Jay flopped down on the other couch.
"Her dress? Arch, are you sure you two are gonna be okay together? I don't want a repeat of the other day. You two killing each other isn't going to do anything for the good of the team," Jay warned.
"Yeah yeah I know. We won't do it again...least we'll try not to. And yeah, dress, grad's coming up in two weeks. She's more worried about not having a dress than any of this partner crap," Archie rolled his eyes. "Girls, eh? Weird."
"Oh my god!" Neil cried, bolting upright. The rest looked at him, startled. "She's right! What are we gonna wear? And more importantly, who are we gonna bring?! We need dates, people, dates!"
"Why are you freaking out Neil? When do you ever not have a date already lined up?" Archie snorted. The blond stood quickly, walking over to the stairs.
"I don't have one lined up though! And I don't have an outfit! This is a disaster!" he called down the stairs, his door soon slamming shut. The remaining four shrugged.
"Well I'm more worried about just graduating. But with his luck..." Archie scowled.
"I'm more worried about...well, anything but that," Jay sighed, leaning back.
"Well we aren't graduating, so we have nothing to worry about," Odie smirked as Herry finally settled on a channel. Jay looked over at him, surprised.
"Yeah, but you guys still have to come. I mean, it wouldn't be the same without you, Herry and Atlanta," he pointed out, Archie nodding along with him.
"Sorry to say it man, but you guys gotta come," he agreed. Herry shrugged, paying more attention to the television.
"Sure. Whatever. Now shh," he hushed them. The room fell silent as they all either watched the program or got lost in their thoughts.
"Ugh," Atlanta sighed as she stomped into Theresa's room, shutting the door behind her. Flopping on the bed, she buried her face in a pillow. Theresa looked at her in amusement.
"That bad huh?" she tried not to laugh. Atlanta lifted her head to give the older girl a glare and sat up.
"I'm stuck with Neil. What do you think?" she huffed. Theresa shrugged and sat down next to her. "Man this sucks. I don't know how I'm going to survive being with Neil twenty four hours a day. I'm gonna have to dump Damien too."
"Why?" Theresa blinked in surprise.
"Pfft, come on Theresa. I'm going to have to spend all my time with Neil, not to mention live with him at the school. I can't exactly explain a situation like this to Damien," Atlanta scoffed. "Besides the last thing I need is some jealous boy acting all macho around me. He was fun, but hey. We've got a world to save right?"
"I suppose so..." Theresa murmured, almost feeling sorry for the boy. He had seemed quite taken with Atlanta, not that the young girl seemed to notice. "Are you going to do it soon, or once school's done?"
"I think I'll do it tomorrow, after school maybe. No sense dragging it out when I just want to end it. Wouldn't be very fair to him," Atlanta sighed. Theresa shook her head and sighed.
"No I suppose not. And just think, it will give you more bonding time with Neil," she grinned cheekily, laughing as Atlanta shoved her with her foot. "Or at the very least, we can go dress shopping."
"Dress shopping? God, I don't know who's worse, you or Neil. Although, he'll probably want to go too. Why are we going dress shopping?" Atlanta muttered, throwing her arm over her eyes.
"Graduation's in two weeks."
"Theresa. I'm not graduating," Atlanta said slowly, earning a poke.
"I know that. But you're still coming. It wouldn't be the same without you," Theresa pouted, bouncing lightly on the bed. She smiled down at her friend's disgruntled form. It's too bad we weren't partnered together. That would have been fun. Poor Atlanta, I hope she and Neil learn to get along. Maybe he will be good for her temperament.
"Ugh, if I have to," Atlanta heaved a sigh, trying to hide her smile.
"You do. Now go do your homework like a good little girl so we can go shopping tomorrow," Theresa pushed her off the bed. She grumbled but left the room anyways. Theresa smiled and lay down on her bed, staring out the skylight in her roof, ready to just close her eyes and relax. But the soft knocking on her door said otherwise. "Just do it Atlanta!"
"I would if I were her. And knew what you were talking about," Archie grinned, pushing open her door. "Mind if I come in?"
"Oh, uh sure. Sorry, thought you were Atlanta trying to avoid her homework," Theresa blushed sheepishly. She patted the mattress next to her. "Have a seat. What can I do for ya?"
Archie sighed and flopped down next to her, laying on his back to stare up at the skylight. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, breathing in the scent of Theresa that surrounded him. It was...relaxing. He smiled and opened his eyes to find said redhead leaning over him, hair spilling onto his chest. He blinked in surprise as another strand fell gently on his cheek, making Theresa blush and move away. Archie caught a faint hint of lavender as she moved. /Nice... /He smirked and turned his head to look at her, thoughtful look on his face.
"Are you sure you're okay with this Theresa? You heard Ares, we're gonna be around each other constantly, non-stop me and you," he asked, crossing his arms behind his head. Theresa watched him a moment, biting gently on her lip. Scrunching up her face, she flopped down next to him.
"I think so...I mean, it can't be that much worse than how we live now right? Aside from the constant togetherness...Maybe, if we just try to get along, you know, get used to each other..." Theresa sighed and glanced over at Archie. He smirked and propped himself up on one elbow.
"Well, as long as you aren't a drama queen 24/7, then I think I can handle you," he grinned, earning a scowl and a shove from the redhead. She forgot, however, that he was leaning above her and squeaked in shock as he fell on top of her. They lay in silence a moment, Archie moving quickly from stunned to panicked as he felt his hand rest on something soft. Oh god, oh god, oh god. Please tell me that isn't...her breast. Good aim. Oh god!
"Um Arch? Think you can...get off of me now?" Theresa's muffled voice asked, her face buried in his shoulder. /That's definitely his hand on my chest. /He rolled off quickly, bolting up as he looked away from her. A smile tugged at her lips as she noticed how red his ears were turning, a light blush covering her own face. "Are you blushing Archie? Aww how cute!"
Archie scowled and stood, shoving his hands in his pockets. His face felt like it was going to melt, it was so hot. He glanced back at Theresa, still giggling and red faced on the bed.
"Oh shut up. You're the one who shoved me," he grumbled. Theresa grinned slyly and quietly stood behind him, creeping closer silently. He was staring sheepishly down at his feet, scowling pout still on his face. She let loose a giggle and pounced. Archie let out a cry of surprise as she suddenly jumped on his back, legs about his waist and arms twined around his neck. "Aah! What are you, a monkey?! Get offa me Theresa!"
"GUYS!" Jay's voice effectively cut off nay response she had. "It's Cronus, let's go!!"
Sliding off of Archie's back, the pair quickly bolted down the stairs and outside into Herry's truck, tires squealing as they pulled away. Jay turned from his seat in the front to look at them all, Odie next to him in Theresa's usual seat.
"Abandoned warehouse by the docks. Hermes said there was suspicious activities going on down there, ones that no normal human could be involved in," he explained to his team, earning an eye roll from Neil.
"What is it with bad guys and creepy old warehouses?" he asked as he fixed his hair. Shrugs and grumbles were his only reply as Herry sped down the road, slowing to a stop when the 'creepy' warehouses came into sight. Pulling off to the side, Herry stopped the truck and they all tentatively emerged, shoulders tensed. Jay motioned for them to remain silent as they moved forward, further into the docking area to look for any sign of Cronus. The entire area was eerily silent for a dock, no bird calls ringing throughout the air, no rats squeaking out their claims. Theresa shivered as they moved into a large open parking area, not liking how exposed they were. The shiver turned into an electric bolt burning up her spine and she reached forward to Archie.
"Down!" she shouted as she shoved him to the ground, following after. They all dropped quickly, reflexes acting almost instinctively. And not a split second too soon as a bolt of red-black energy hurtled past them and into the warehouse, the ground tremoring from the resulting explosion.
"My, my, Theresa. Effective timing, as always my dear," Cronus sneered as he stepped out of the shadows surrounding him. Theresa shot him a glare as they rose to their feet, weapons now drawn and bodies ready. This earned them a condescending laugh from the god of Time as he stood relaxed before them, calculating look in his eyes.
"What do you want now Cronus? And I'm not 'your dear'," Theresa spat, nun chucks clenched tightly in her fists. He turned his menacing look to her, a leering grin covering his face.
"Oh but you are. So very, very dear," he said sinisterly, stepping closer to them. He stretched out one hand, palm up as another small ball of flame flickered to life. "Tell me, Theresa dear...can you dodge all that I shall send you?"
The meaning behind his words barely had time to register as they were once more dodging for their lives, leaping for any cover they could find as Cronus hurled the flame at them, fire exploding over the ground. Theresa grunted in pain as she landed heavily beside Archie and Odie behind a nearby dumpster. She couldn't see the rest of her team mates, but she knew they were unharmed and close by. She saw Archie glance around the corner of the trash bin and crawled over to him, pausing to rest a reassuring hand on Odie's shoulder. He gave her a weak smile in return.
"Archie? What can you see?" she whispered in her partner's ear. He remained crouched, stealing more quick glances at their surroundings. He sighed irritably.
"Not a whole lot. Too much fire all over the place," he grumbled, squinting as the flames roiled and danced. He tensed as they parted slightly. "Wait...Cronus is still standing there...I think if we can time it right, we can get him. Odie, see if Jay can get an opening too."
As the younger boy did as was asked, Theresa shuffled forward a bit more, peeking over Archie's shoulder. Sure enough, Cronus stood there amidst the flames, arms crossed and eyes closed. A smug smirk covered his face and Theresa glared. Arrogant bastard. I'll wipe that smirk off your face, I swear... She turned as Odie poked her back.
"He thinks they can get through, but as far as a coordinated strike goes...It's chancy at best. We're on our own when we get an opening," he muttered nervously. Theresa nodded and gave him a warm smile.
"Good enough I guess. Archie and I will take our chance. You stay here and let the others know when we go, alright?" she ordered, refusing to hear any arguments from him. Odie sighed and nodded, earning an affectionate hair ruffling from the older girl before she turned back to Archie. "You ready for this? Partner?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," a wild smirk already adorned his face, and she knew he was loving this. Adrenalin rushed through her veins, heart pumping with excitement, anticipation and slight fear. She squeezed his shoulder gently as they waited for the flames to part....There!
All Archie could feel the moment he burst forward was the rush of heated flame and cool wind against his body as he sprinted forward, knowing without looking that Theresa followed behind him, unafraid of the fire licking at their heels. He grinned as he unleashed his whip, springing up behind Cronus silently. He brought his arm back, muscles coiled tightly, ready to be sprung as his arm whipped forward again, cool metal following his actions precisely. A flicker in the corner of his eye proved to be the rest of his team mates, having found an opening of their own. The rest of his vision was filled with the leering face of Cronus, Time seeming to freeze just as his whip was about to reach him, and then he was hurtling through the air. The pain barely seemed to register as he landed roughly, rolling over and over through the now flameless parking area.
Theresa watched wide eyed as the flames flickered once more and disappeared, Archie's body landing where they had once been. Knots coiled in her stomach as he landed and lay sprawled, motionless on the now cold ground. Her eyes stung and she snapped her gaze back to Cronus, glaring death in her eyes. She could feel the anger rising in her body and sapphire was beginning to cloud her vision. Forcing the raw anger down her arms, she carelessly dropped her weapon and charged at him silently, the only sound being the crackling of lightning covering her body. His blood red eyes glinted in appreciation, surprise, amusement...so many things, Theresa could not name them all. All but the one thing she wanted to see in them. Fear.
Cronus grin madly as she reached him, lightning charged arm swinging forward towards his face and he almost blithely reached for her. Her body slammed to a stop as he caught her easily by the neck, forcing her up and off the ground. Her legs dangled uselessly as he raised her face to his, crimson meeting emerald in a heated gaze. The blue sparks began to fade as he tightened his grip on her throat, squeezing the air from her lungs. Theresa choked, gasping for breath as black spots danced in her vision, and she reached desperately for her anger. Her fingers curled tightly into his arm, blue sparks flickering waveringly. Smoke rose slightly as the current dug into the Time god's skin.
He sneered and brought her close to him, his lips against her ear. Theresa paused in her struggle to be free as he whispered something for her ears only.
"You are growing so very fast my darling. Such power in such a young body. I look forward to seeing how far it will take you, before your body is consumed by it. And then...you shall be mine," he murmured, his voice like velvet acid against her senses. He chuckled mirthlessly before throwing her harshly to the ground, a portal opening behind him. "Until then. My dearest, dearest grandchild!"
Theresa gasped for air as his words floated away on the cool breeze now coming off the ocean, clearing away the smoke. Her vision was still blackening, her body weakened, and she could spare only one thought before the darkness claimed her.
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