Trust can be a hard thing to gain, and even harder to keep, but sometimes it is worth the continuing struggle
A/N: Yay, jennieman is back. And with a brand new chapter for you to all enjoy. Seriously guys, it's a good thing I'm taking spring courses at the university, otherwise I never would have written this lmao. Class is just sooooo boring that instead of taking notes, like a good little student, I wrote this for y'all. And started on chapter nine, so that might go up next week too lol. So I hope you like it, it's not really adventure or plot filled, but it does have lots of fluff. Because I love it and can't get enough of it. Okay? Okay. Remember, R & R and gimme some luv!
A New Twist
Chapter the Eighth
Theresa sighed and winced as she slowly opened her eyes and blinked./ What happened? Where am I? /She could hear voices murmuring somewhere close by, and struggled to sit up. Her throat burned painfully and she couldn't help but groan as she tried to swallow. The voices stopped suddenly and then Jay was there next to her, helping her to sit up.
"Careful Theresa, slowly," he propped some pillows up behind her and she lay back on them with a sigh. Her head was starting to pound, her vision slightly blurry. She glanced up at Jay, a worried and tense look on his face. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth before her brow furrowed into a frown. Why is he worried? I'm in Chiron's study...but I don't know why? I can't remember...
"What happened?" she whispered hoarsely, wincing and putting a hand to her throat. Atlanta handed her a glass of water and exchanged a startled glance with Jay.
"You don't remember? Cronus?" he asked. Theresa frowned deeper, trying to think, Cronus...Cronus...yes, we were fighting Cronus, and there was fire, and then-
"Archie!!" she cried and bolted up, spilling her water. Atlanta took the cup and tried to calm her down. Theresa's nails dug into her arm as she struggled against the closing pressure in her throat. "Is he alright? Was he hurt?"
"Ugh, I'm fine. But you're too damn noisy, Drama Queen. Let a guy sleep would ya?" Archie's voice was groggy and Theresa glanced past Atlanta to see him lying in a bed next to hers. She relaxed slightly and gave him a quick once over. His torso was bare save for the bandages wrapped around his abdomen and right side. Where the skin wasn't slightly pink it was blue with bruises and scrapes. Archie gave Theresa a sleepy smirk and shifted a bit to look over at her better. "Bout damn time you woke up. Lazy."
Theresa glared half-heartedly and lay back on her pillows, relieved and worried at all once.
"Well excuse me," she rasped huffily. Jay frowned sternly at her and pressed another cup into her hand, tea this time.
"Enough talking, you need to let your throat heal. Here, Persephone said to give it to you when you woke up. She said it would help," he explained as she sipped and made a face. The tea was very bitter. Theresa sighed and continued drinking it though, knowing how unhappy Persephone would be if she didn't.
"Tastes like shit doesn't it?" Archie piped up. Theresa tried not to choke as she drank and laughed at the same time. She smiled and nodded as she took a smaller sip. Archie smirked as he tried to keep his eyes open. He yawned. "Yeah, Persephone made me drink it too. Practically shoved it down my throat. Make me better my ass. How bout some sugar? That'll make me feel better. Bad enough I'm all itchy and can't scratch and it's hot...but nooo, no sugar. Sugar nazi..."
Theresa raised an eyebrow and tilted her head toward him as he drifted off to sleep. Atlanta smiled and pulled a sheet over him gently, covering him to the waist. She came over and sat on the bed next to Theresa.
"Chiron drugged him up a bit to help with the pain. He's got some burns and bruises, but nothing too bad," she murmured quietly and Theresa sighed in relief. Atlanta smiled and fixed her blanket, fussing slightly. "And you're gonna be stuck on liquid foods for the next little while. Cronus bruised you up pretty good, and unfortunately not all of us have Archie's uncanny healing abilities. He should be fine by the end of the week."
Theresa gave a small noise of what could have been agreement and wiggled down into her pillows, guessing that they were both stuck there for the night. Atlanta smiled and stood, giving her a hug before checking on Archie one last time. Jay gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze and smiled softly down at her.
"Get some rest, and try not to talk, alright?" he said and she nodded with a small smile. A tiny, fluttering twinge danced in her stomach and she frowned as they left. /So he was worried, big deal. It doesn't mean anything, and there are more important things to worry about. Like Cronus, and what exactly he wants with me. He knows my powers are growing, sounded so sure about it all. /She shivered and pulled her blanket tighter, glancing over at Archie. And Archie got hurt this time. Some partners we are, I can't even keep him from being hurt. Half the time I'm the one hurting him, for Zeus' sake!
Theresa curled up into a tight little ball as tears stung her eyes, feeling rather miserable. Her self berating, moody thoughts darkened and she tried to stifle her sniffling and shaky breaths.
Archie was drifting between awake and asleep, feeling quite surreal at the moment. He sighed as he drifted into waking and frowned, forcing his eyes to open. He could hear...crying?
"Theresa?" he asked quietly, still groggy. He glanced over at her bed, but it was hard to see in the semi-darkness. A single candle lit the cavernous room, but he could faintly make out a small lump on the bed. He sighed and smiled lightly as he heard a sniffle come from beneath the blanket. "Stop crying ya baby. Geez, nothing worse than hearing a girl crying."
"I'm sorry," she choked out, desperately trying to dry her tears. Archie rolled his eyes and shifted around in his bed.
"Don't be sorry. Honestly. Come here already," he patted the mattress beside him. Theresa blinked at him, tears stopping in momentary shock.
"What?" she asked hoarsely, her voice barely audible. Archie snorted as he felt himself getting sleepy again.
"You're just gonna keep cryin' until I hug you and tell you everything's okay, right? Or something like that. And I wanna sleep tonight, so get your butt over here," he commanded.
Theresa smiled and silently slid out of her bed, blanket dragging behind her. She padded over to his bed and sat down on his good side. He tugged at her, pulling her down against him. She smiled and curled up against his chest, and he put an arm around her, rubbing her back gently.
"Now isn't this way better?" he closed his eyes and yawned, ignoring how damp her cheek was as it pressed into his bare chest. He felt her nod, and smiled as his hand slowed, feeling sleep pressing upon him. He sighed and squeezed her tightly. "Good. Now sleep, and no dreams, if ya don mind..."
Theresa smiled as his voice slurred and he dropped off. She sighed and fingered his bandages gently, wondering how he knew just what she was thinking. Her hand rested on his chest, feeling the steady thumping of his heart. It was reassuring and Theresa laid her head gently in the crook of his shoulder, the heat from his body and burns lulling her to sleep.
Blood was pooling at her feet, swirling and mocking her. She shivered as a harsh wind blew, bringing with it a deep, evil laughter that was felt rather than heard. Panic was running its course in her veins, terror spreading through her body. Two red eyes glared at her from the darkness, and the laughter rumbled, growing louder until it was a jeering, high-pitched noise. The eyes burned her skin, blood surrounding her, and sudden pressure clamped down on her body. 'Now you're mine' a voice whispered hauntingly and suddenly a giant set of fanged jaws lunged at her.
They both woke with a cry, legs tangling together as they fought to be fully awake. Theresa sat up, panting and trembling as Archie lay groaning on the bed. Sweat beaded on her forehead and she brought a shaking hand up to wipe it away. Glancing back down at Archie, she flushed as he pinned his steely gaze on her.
"Have you had dreams like that before?" he demanded. She nodded and tore her eyes from his, laying back on the bed. Curling her legs up, she waited for her heart to stop pounding, and Archie to look away from her. He finally shook his head and sighed. "That's...just not right."
"You're telling me," she sighed. Archie grunted as he lifted his arm to wrap around her, pulling her into him with a squeeze. Theresa smiled slightly and let herself relax against him.
"Theresa...I want you to tell me, from now on, when you have a dream. Alright?" Archie asked softly, looking down at her tousled head. "We're partners now...I need to know if you're alright. We need to be able to trust each other."
"I do trust you Archie," Theresa murmured, raising her head to look him in the eye. They lay there, holding each others gaze a few moments. The clip-clopping of hooves broke the silence and they glanced at the door as Chiron entered the room. Theresa flushed and pulled away from Archie's embrace.
Her heart was still pounding.
"Ah, awake I see. How are you both feeling this morning? Less pain?" If Chiron noticed either of their flushing faces, or that Theresa still sat on Archie's bed, he showed no interest. Leaning down, he tilted Theresa's chin up, examining her neck. He nodded and patted her on the shoulder. "Good, good. You're free to go my dear. Just try to eat mainly soft things for the next few days."
She nodded and stood slowly, walking back to her bed to fold up her blanket. She watched through lowered lashes as Chiron helped Archie to sit up, unwrapping his bandages. Theresa's eyebrows rose in surprise as they came off, leaving his torso bare. It looked merely like a horrible sunburn, deep red with only a few patches of peeling skin. Chiron was quick to slather a poultice on the burns and wrap Archie back up, questioning him on how he felt. Theresa placed the folded blanket on the bed and turned to face them. Archie sighed as Chiron finally allowed him to leave, with instructions and a promise to come back everyday to have his bandages changed.
Theresa smiled as Archie rolled his eyes and stood with a wince. He grabbed the clean set of clothes that Atlanta had left beside his bed and glared at them in disdain, pondering how to comfortably wear them. Theresa rolled her eyes and grabbed them from him, throwing his tank top on the bed. She held out his hoodie, wondering just how many of them he owned...
"Just wear this for now. It'll be way more comfortable," she shook it at him. Archie shrugged and turned around, allowing Theresa to help him slip it on. She gently drew it up over his burned side, careful not to pull on any of the bandages. He sighed as she slipped around to his front, zipping him up. She smiled up at him, hands lingering.
"Ready for school now?" she asked cheekily. Archie grinned down at her, and brushed a hand gently over her neck.
"Ready as I'll ever be. But you might wanna cover those bruises with something. C'mon. We'll go home first," he said, grabbing her hand and turning to leave. She smiled and happily followed after him.
Lunch time rolled around, and Theresa glared down at her food. A bowl of watery soup and a jello cup. Thrilling. She sighed and looked up as somebody tugged on the bright bandana she had wrapped around her neck. Archie smirked and sat next to her, tray full of delicious, edible, real food. Theresa glared at him.
"Please, don't look so happy to see me. I can't stand it," Archie remarked dryly and dug into his sandwich, taking a large bite. He smirked at Theresa. "Mmmm. So damn good."
She felt her eye twitch and kicked his chair, turning away in disgust. She idly stirred her soup, wondering if she would actually find something in its murky depths. So far...all broth. She sighed and poked at her jello instead, hoping it was at least edible. Archie nudged her playfully as they were joined by the rest of their friends. Theresa gave him a questioning glance. He simply shrugged and nudged her again. She rolled her eyes with a smile and nudged him back. With a smirk she swiped the chocolate milk off his tray and sipped away at it, despite his protests. Atlanta smirked at the two, trying not to sigh as an unsuspecting Damien sat next to her.
Theresa raised her eyebrows at the other girl, and got a small shake accompanied by an eye roll. She laughed and choked on the milk, which Archie happily grabbed back. He scowled at his choking partner but shoved a cup of water towards her. It was gratefully downed. She gave him a smile and turned another quizzical look to a very tired, hassled looking Jay as he sat on her other side. He glanced at Damien and cleared his throat.
"Practice tonight guys. Gotta get that strategy set up and ready right?" he spoke casually, but Theresa bit back a groan of disappointment. She glanced at Archie and shook her head, knowing that Ares would probably be as relentless as usual. Herry picked up around a mouthful of burger.
"Yeah man, we need it if we wanna win," he said, not pausing in his eating at all. Damien looked interested.
"Practice for what?" he asked, earning an eye roll from Archie.
"Team secret," he drawled. Jay shot him a warning glance, which was completely ignored. Damien shrugged and nodded.
"That's cool. Gotta do what you gotta do to win," he agreed. They all breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed as conversation resumed around the table. Theresa took to playing with her soup again, wondering what Ares was planning for them. More specifically, for her injured partner. She pushed the bowl away with a sigh. As long as it wasn't too extreme...She glanced back at Jay, also slightly worried for her leader. He had a tendency to run himself ragged, blaming himself for things gone wrong, them getting hurt. He took it all too personally. Theresa felt a tug on her heart as he noticed her staring, and gave her a weary smile. She frowned slightly and turned away with a sigh. He needs to take better care of himself, not worry about everything so much. It's worrying to the rest of us, not that we can say that, 'cause then he'll just worry about us worrying...Arggh Jay, why do you have to be so frustrating?...why won't you let us in?
Theresa sighed again as the bell rang and looked over at Jay once more. She stood and, with a smile, gently took his hand and gave him an affectionate squeeze. He looked down in surprise, blinking, before squeezing her hand back, smiling softly. Theresa felt her breath catch in her throat.
The fluttering was there again.
She dropped his hand and, gathering her books, quickly led the way to their English class. Neither she nor Jay noticed the narrowed, icy look Archie cast their way. He snorted disdainfully and left for class.
Art passed by quickly with Archie concentrating on finishing the sketch he had started of Theresa weeks earlier. He was annoyed with her, but it was better than scrapping it and starting another. She gave him curious glances but he ignored them, and took off to Ares' gym as soon as the bell rang. Let her walk with Neil. I'm sure he has plenty to complain about.
Coming out of the locker room he found Atlanta already jogging around the track and the rest of his team just entering. Sure enough, Neil was complaining to Theresa. He ignored them as they went into the locker rooms, and went over to the punching bag. He needed to let out some of his frustration, burnt or not. He winced as his injured hand came in contact with the bag, burnt skin tightening and stretching.
"You're gonna hurt yourself, ya know," Atlanta's voice came from right behind him. Archie jumped slightly and glanced down at her, eyebrow raised.
"So?" he punched it again. Atlanta snorted and crossed her arms, moving into his line of vision. She gave him a 'you're-a-moron' look.
"So don't be stupid. Why are you mad anyways?" she asked. Archie sighed forcefully and paused. He shook his head and rested his hands on his hips.
"Theresa," he said, getting another 'look' from Atlanta. "Well, not her, in a way. It's this whole Jay/Theresa situation. She gets her hopes up when he decides to finally pay attention to her, for like two seconds, and then something will happen and he goes back to ignoring her. And then she gets confused and upset, and she cries, and...I don't like that. She's my partner, and I'm supposed to protect her. How'm I supposed to do that when he just..."
Atlanta listened to his rant with a frown, watching as Jay and Theresa came out of the locker rooms. She sighed and shook her head.
"I don't know but you're right. Maybe he doesn't realize it, but...he does keep hurting her. He needs to make up his mind about her, and either be with her, or stay the hell away. But maybe...you're just what she needs Arch," she grinned, ruffling his hair. He scowled and she gave him a serious look. "Just make sure you don't end up hurting her too. Take care of her, Archie."
He nodded absently as she left him standing there, and he turned back to the punching bag. He could see Jay out of the corner of his eye and he hit the bag viciously. Stupid...jerk...damn it, Theresa just...ugh, let him go...he doesn't deserve you. A soft, feminine gasp came from behind him, and he found his hand in Theresa's. She frowned at him and only then did he notice the stinging pain in his injured hand. He glanced down and noticed he was bleeding.
"Archie, what were you thinking? You shouldn't hurt yourself like this," she admonished gently, pulling him towards the benches. He let her, feeling numb as he stared at her. He sat and let her fuss with his bandages, patching up his split skin. Her hands felt cool as she rewrapped clean bandages around his hand. "Honestly Archie, you're hurt. Why were you trying to murder the punching bag, and with your injured hand, no less?"
"None of your business," he muttered tersely and caught the flash of hurt in her eyes. She shoved his hand back toward him, and he winced. She stood without looking down at him and crossed her arms.
"I thought we were supposed to trust each other," she murmured down at him, watching the others stretching out. He looked up at her, Atlanta's words ringing in his mind. He sighed and stood beside her, looking down at her thoughtfully, her fiery curls hiding her expression from him. He smiled softly and squeezed her shoulder gently.
"I know. Ignore me, I'm just...being me," he smirked as she finally looked up at him. She smiled softly and leaned into him for a moment. He could smell lavender on her...and then she was gone as Ares entered the room, yelling out instructions for them to grab their partners. He set Archie and Theresa to jogging on the track. He smiled though as they ran.
He could still smell lavender.
The rest of the day went fairly smoothly , though in Atlanta's opinion it was simply the beginning of hell on earth. She protested rather violently as Neil and Theresa dragged her away to go graduation shopping. She sat in the back of Theresa's car with a huff, letting the two in front babble on about styles and colours, and whatever. Or mostly, Neil babbled with a comment or two from Theresa.
"Tell me again, why I have to wear a dress? I get why I have to go, but in a dress?" Atlanta complained as they reached the mall. Theresa grinned at her.
"Because I love torturing you," she said simply. Neil nodded beside her. "Hey did you talk to Damien yet?"
"Yeah," Atlanta rolled her eyes. "I told him I was just too busy, and that it was fun and all. You know."
"You broke up with him?" Neil raised an eyebrow. Theresa nodded and pulled them into a shop.
"How did he take it?" she prodded, picking out a few dresses. She glanced over at Neil. "Shouldn't you be heading down to get fitted for a tux?"
"Hey now, I wanna hear the gossip too. We're partners now after all," Neil pouted, giving Atlanta a wink. She rolled her eyes with a smile and shrugged.
"I dunno, he was upset I guess. He didn't look happy in any case," she said uninterestedly. Neil held up a dress to her body, and threw it back in disgust.
"Hmm. You don't have a date now though," he mused, grabbing more dresses and following Theresa to the change rooms, where they shoved Atlanta in.
"So? Do I need one?" she asked, voice muffled as she stripped down. Neil shrugged, looking in his mirror.
"Only if you don't want to look like a loner loser who couldn't get one," he smirked, hearing a growl come from behind the door. He folded away the mirror and turned to leave. "Well I'm going to go get fitted now. Be back in a bit."
"Thank Zeus," Atlanta muttered as she opened the door. Theresa took one look and shook her head. Atlanta sighed and went back into the stall to try another one on. "Honestly Theresa, I hope you and Archie have better luck together. I mean, Neil's not that bad I suppose but...together, me and him? That can't end well."
"Oh, you never know Lan. He might surprise you. Hell, you might surprise yourself," Theresa mused as she scanned the racks, grabbing a few dresses for herself. "You'll just have to work at it. C'mon Lan, when do you ever back down from a challenge?"
"You raise a valid point," Atlanta laughed and sighed as she opened the door, looking at Theresa. "I'm just glad you're not with Jay."
Theresa stopped looking her over and gave her a surprised look.
"Why not?" she asked, getting a look from Atlanta. She shook her head.
"Because. He's just...not good for you Theresa. He upsets you," she shrugged. Theresa bit her lip and shifted her weight.
"I guess..." she whispered, wishing it wasn't true. She frowned. "He does confuse me, all the time. Things are so complicated with him, and I think...maybe I'm starting to not want those complications anymore."
"Good," Atlanta simply said. She turned around. "You deserve better. Now unzip me please."
Theresa smiled and did as she was asked. More dresses were tried on and finally bought without Neil returning. They found him flirting with a group of girls and dragged him away, despite his complaints of trying to find a date good enough for him, and do you know how hard that is? They just shook their heads and remained silent.
Archie watched idly as Odie and Herry played yet another video game, fighting desperately to win. He smirked as Odie lost, and wandered into the kitchen where Jay sat mulling over something. Archie chose to ignore him as he got himself some food, and smiled as he heard Theresa's car pull up in back. Wonder how that went. If they managed to get Lanta to buy a dress, it'd be a miracle. Although...if Lanta has a dress and Neil is still alive...that would be even more amazing. Hmm, very true.
And it was amazing as Neil sauntered in unscathed, Atlanta trailing behind with a bag in hand. He watched, eyebrow raised, as they wandered upstairs bickering amiably. He gave Theresa a questioning glance. She shrugged and stole some of his food.
"I don't know what happened either. Maybe Lanta needs to shop more?" she laughed. Archie snorted.
"Yeah right Terri. Or maybe she's just finally lost it," he smirked and went to his bedroom. She followed with a huff and slumped down on his couch beside him. She sighed and leaned over, letting her head rest on his shoulder. He looked at her, surprised.
"Long day?" he asked, bemused. Theresa nodded against him.
"I was forcing our best friend into dresses. What do you think?" she mumbled, earning a laugh from Archie.
Silence reigned over the room for a few minutes as Archie ate, and Theresa allowed her eyes to explore his room. It was comfortable and surprisingly clean. The style reminded her of her own room, just one more thing they seemed to have in common. Though she found the sheer number of books to be a little overwhelming, and the punching bag in the middle of them a bit amusing.
"Atlanta broke up with Damien today," she announced softly, feeling Archie stiffen slightly beneath her. He relaxed a moment later.
"Oh yeah," he said, voice disinterested. Theresa tilted her head up to look at him, studying his reaction, of which he seemed to have nothing but impassivity.
"Yeah. Since she'll be with Neil so much now, she figured..." she sighed and turned her body towards him. "So you know...you could tell her now."
"Mm," Archie merely grunted, thinking it over. I could tell her how I feel...but do I even want to bother? I mean...she's my best friend, and things are good that way. I doubt she would ever consider me to be more than that anyways...Do you even want to consider her more now?...I'm not so sure... He sighed and breathed in the reassuring scent of Theresa, companion in this twisted mess of jumbled feelings. Things are getting way too complicated, anyways. I have Theresa to think about now, not just myself. Those dreams mean something...something's going to happen, and she'll need me. And what exactly are you going to do about that? Keep her safe. Anyway I can.
"Did you get your dress?" he asked, changing the subject. Theresa smiled and nodded, knowing not to push the subject of Atlanta anymore.
"But you can't see it until the dance," she said imperiously. Archie rolled his eyes.
"Oh, how will I ever live?" he drawled sarcastically. Theresa poked his side and he grabbed her hand, playing with her fingers.
"Theresa? Can I ask you something?" he asked seriously. Theresa blinked at the sudden change of mood and nodded, twining her fingers with his. "When they brought us in to Chiron, I kept drifting awake and I could hear them talking. Jay said that Cronus spoke to you, said something before he disappeared. Do you...remember what he said to you?"
Theresa held her breath and slowly nodded, temporarily forgotten fear seeping back into her bones. Her grip on Archie's hand tightened.
"He knows what's happening to me, knows how fast. He said...when it finally over takes me...I'll be his to use," she whispered, shuddering at the memory of his voice and her dream. Archie frowned and squeezed her hand.
"He can think that all he wants. But you forget one thing," he said and smirked arrogantly down at her. "He'll have to get through me first. And like I said, over my dead body."
Theresa smiled and untangled their hands to give him a hug. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed gently, mindful of his burns. He ruffled her hair playfully and let go, standing to move to his desk.
"So just you remember that next time he tries to threaten you. Now get outta here, I gotta study for our finals next week," he smirked as Theresa's eyes widened and she jumped off the couch.
"Shit, you're right. I need to study too. Damn it. Hey Odie! Can you help me with something?" she called as she left Archie's room. He smirked and shook his head, sighing as he opened his books. Graduation couldn't come soon enough, and he couldn't help but feel excited at what the summer would bring for them.