Neil is looking very sick. Will his friends ever know why though...R&R Please and Thank you!
Athena glances down at the alarm clock beside Neil's bed and lets out a deep sigh.
"Alright, let's have a look." She says, plucking the thermometer out of Neil's mouth and glancing at it. Upon seeing the result, The Goddess of War and Wisdom frowns, shakes her head and puts the thermometer away.
"Well, it's safe to say you are not going to school today!" Athena announces. At this Neil responds with a reluctant groan and flops back down on his pillow. If there is anything he hates the most, it is being sick. Before he can say anything about this, however, he goes into a spasm of dry coughs which only aggravates his already irritated and raw throat.
The short, dark-purple haired Goddess turns and she regards Neil with some concern. "It's best you stay in bed, Neil," She says in a surprisingly motherly manner, "I'll have Dionysus brew up some medicines for you."
Neil tries to reply, but instead he starts coughing once again. This is becoming a frustrating, chronic problem all morning for him. It has gotten to the point that Neil's chest feels like it is going to burst wide open. He hopes that Dionysus' medicine will be effective enough to reduce or even get rid of the persistent cough.
"Alright, I'll be back. In the meantime, try to get some rest." Athena advises. Still coughing, Neil nods once and rolls over to his side, trying to find a comfortable position that might help him breathe better. Athena gave him a quick, concerned glance and then she steps through the door and gently closes it behind her.
Heading into the kitchen just down the hallway, Athena immediately notices the rest of the dormitory residents sitting around in the living room with the worried looks on their young faces. She has a sinking feeling for she knows what they would ask.
"Athena, Neil's been coughing like that since three in the morning. Is he going to be ok?" Jay asks in concern. He is looking a bit haggard, as though he hardly slept much last night.
As predicted. Athena takes a deep breath and solemnly replies, "By the looks of things, I'm afraid Neil is coming down with flu."
The teenagers seem taken aback. "The flu...? That's bad, right?" Herry inquires, scratching his head and glancing worriedly at Archie.
"I don't know about you guys", Odie says, his brow furrowing uneasily, "But just by listening to him cough, it sounds more like Neil may have bronchitis!"
Archie immediately sits up. "Correct me if I'm wrong," he protests, "But don't you guys think his illness came on all of a sudden?"
Atlanta nods in agreement. "Yeah, he was fine all day yesterday. But last night, during our training, he nearly faints. I'd say it is a bit too sudden to be normal!"
Jay is frowning. He doesn't like the sound of it...not one bit. "Athena, how serious is the flu?"
Athena lowers her eyes. She has been silently pondering on the mystery of Neil's sudden illness as well, too. In fact, it has all the Gods and Goddesses concerned. She does, however, have her suspicions of what kind of source that could be behind it, but chooses not to share them with the kids just yet.
Seeing that the Goddess of War and Wisdom has not answered Jay's question yet, the teenagers glance at each worriedly. Does that mean it is REALLY that bad? A little anxious, Jay leans forward. "Athena...?" He calls out to her, and at last the Goddess of War and Wisdom turns her head, notices the anxiety on the young teenagers' face, and tries to smile at them.
"I'm sure that once he takes proper medicine, he will be fine soon enough," she murmurs, trying to soothe their fears. Then, glancing at the clock, she blurts out, "Ah, you kids better get going or you will be late for school!"
Jay and the others remain where they are, not willing to move just yet. For a moment they simply gaze at her, but they do not saying anything. They can tell she is hiding something and want to know what it is. But before any of them can open their mouth to utter one word, the loud whooping coughs reverberate from down the hallway. Their level of anxiety increased, and they glance at each other then look back at their Dorm Guardian.
Athena sighs. "Don't worry, I'll look after him. Just go!" She assures them, shooing them away with her hands before they even ask her anything. Quickly and firmly, she ushers the protesting teenagers out through the front door and closes it behind them.
Grumbling unhappily, the teenagers walk away from the dorm, heading for Herry's truck parked outside in the ally. Jay is especially aggravated. "Is it just me, or does there seem like something is not right about any of this?" The young team leader gripes to the others. Theresa nods somberly in response.
"I think you could be right, Jay." The strawberry-blond girl says quietly.
There is nothing the young heroes could do anything about it, though. Quietly they pile into Herry's truck, with the brawny teen at the wheel. With one turn of the ignition, they are off to school.
Five days have passed and Neil still sounds like he hacking up a lung. Not only has Neil been getting worse each day, but the team has noticed that their blond friend has not been eating anything since the day he was first sick. This is not good. There's no sign he is going to get better any time soon. Considering how he has been sounding worse lately, the kids wish they could do something to help but they know that the flu needs to run its course. They miss having him with them, and hope the flu clears up as soon as possible so Neil can return to training with the team once again.
One thing they had noticed is how lucky they've been so far. That is, there has hardly any life-threatening trouble coming up that they have to deal with, especially from Cronus. This is somewhat puzzling...Cronus has been unusually quiet since the night he tried the second time to get his hand-made time machine going. Usually by now the God of Time would be going around stirring up headache-inducing trouble for them. Instead, the young heroes heard absolutely nothing from him for days. Very puzzling indeed...
Nevertheless, one clear morning the six teens are sitting in the kitchen - Herry, Theresa, and Jay at the table, while Archie, Atlanta, and Odie sat at the island counter - eating their breakfast. It would soon be time to go to school. As they are finishing up they hear a familiar fit of coughing coming their way.
"Oh man. Here we go again..." Archie groans, although not too unkindly. His patience can only go so far. Jay looks at him sharply.
"Chill it, Archie. Why don't we try to be more supportive, ok?" The team leader chides, and Archie looks down, chastened.
Suddenly Theresa, who is facing the kitchen door, sits straight up and her eyes widened. "Jay...." She whispers hoarsely at her boyfriend, "Neil's here!"
The young teenagers all turn around and gawk in astonishment as Neil comes stumbling in through the door. He stops and leans against the door frame, taking a moment to catch his breath, only to be interrupted by a fit of loud coughing. His skin appears pale and clammy with dark circles under his eyes. The blond teen's usually perfect blond hair is unkempt. Beads of sweat trickle down his forehead and sides of his face. With one hand, Neil clasps at his white house coat at his chest while trying to cover his mouth with the other hand as he coughs. His legs are trembling a little; it appears as though he can easily topple over any second.
His stunned friends stare at him, speechless for a moment or two. Then Theresa clears her throat and decides to speak up. "Morning, Neil," She chirps brightly in a hopeful voice, "Are you feeling better yet?"
It is probably not the right thing to ask of an obviously sick person, and her friends glance at her oddly. But the dazed Neil mumbles only, "Huh?" and peer around the kitchen, trying to see who it is that has spoken to him. Theresa raises one eyebrow and shakes her head, grimacing. "I guess not," she murmurs to no one in particular.
"Um...Neil, shouldn't you be in bed?" Odie says tentatively, looking at him with concern. "If Athena sees you traipsing around here like this, she'll blow a gasket!"
Neil shakes his head. Noticing an empty chair in front of him, the blond teen takes two steps and plops heavily onto it. Unfortunately for him, just sitting down does not really stop the room from spinning. His legs and arms are still trembling noticeably. Neil groans softly and leans over the table with his elbows on the table, resting his head on his open hands as the migraine takes over. After a moment or two he finally sighs and says through his clenched teeth to his concerned teammates.
"I hate this...I can't be sick, you guys need me!" Neil says, panting heavily, "What if Cronus attacks? The prophecy says seven heroes, not six will defeat him...how can there be seven if I'm sick in bed?"
"Wow, Neil, you really must be sick...that's the first time you made the most sense!" Herry says in a half serious, half joking manner.
"Well, it's true..." Neil whines, "I just feel terrible."
Archie smirks. "Gee Neil; you act as if you've never been sick before!"
Slowly Neil raises his one eyebrow and, slowly opening his eyes, he lifts his head to glare at his friend with the purple mullet. "That's real funny, coming from you!" he grunts.
"Hate to say it, Arch, but Neil's got a point...Mr. 'I've never been sick a day in my life'!" Atlanta chuckles.
"Hey, guys, that's enough!" Jay says loudly, looking very annoyed. "Give Neil a break, will you?" Both Archie and Atlanta frowns at their leader, but the expression on Jay's face soon convinces them to quit teasing Neil for time being.
As the silence drags on, Odie clears his throat. "Uh, say Neil... Are you hungry? Maybe we can get you something to eat now?" The young genius asks gingerly.
Neil makes a face in disgust. The very thought of food makes him nauseous. The room seems to spin even more, causing him to wobble in his chair as he continues to clutch his head with his hands. Slowly Neil lifts his head slightly to glance at his friends. His face turns to a look of confusion and he draws away from his friends, glaring suspiciously at them who look back at him in bewilderment.
"What are you guys doing in my room?" He demands in a harsh voice.
His friends stare at him in stunned shock. "Uh, Neil...you're in the kitchen," Jay reminds him gently.
"What...?" Neil cries in disbelief. He takes a quick glance around him, blinks and looks even more confused. "How did I get down here?"
"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you walked down..." Theresa points out.
"I don't remember doing that." Neil shakes his head slowly. Just then he starts coughing again, more loudly than before.
Athena comes hurrying into the kitchen and, upon seeing Neil sitting at the table struggling to not fall out of the chair with his nasty cough, she frowns severely.
"Neil, I swear I'm so close to putting a lock on your door so you won't keep wandering out!" The Goddess growls in frustration, striding toward the blond teen and putting her hand on his shoulder. "You know very well you are not supposed to be out of the bed!"
The blond teen manages to stop coughing just long enough to glance up sheepishly at Athena. "I don't feel well," he says with a sad pout.
With an exasperated sigh, Athena shakes her head although her face softens considerably. "Come on Neil," she replies sweetly to the sick teen, "you need to get back to bed right away." So saying, she gently lifts Neil up from his seat and starts guiding him back to his room.
Neil tries to protest. "But, I'm fine Athena! I-I just need to walk this off and I'll be as good as new!" He is trying to be assertive, wanting to sound robust - but his voice comes out sounding whiny instead. Unimpressed, the Goddess of War only raises one eyebrow at him.
"Well, why don't you 'walk this off' back to your bed then...?" Athena replies, trying to hide a smirk on her face.
As soon as Neil and Athena are out of the kitchen, all six teens start laughing. They can't help it. Even though they know he positively hates to be seen as weak, it is still funny to see Neil try to buff his way out of about any situation he finds disagreeable. Neil always tends to do that.
"C-come on guys, that isn't funny." Jay splutters, trying to compose himself but failing miserably as he breaks out again in laughter.
Finally after a moment the six teens manages to stop laughing. Somber now, they reflect on their sick friend's condition.
"You know, I think Neil has gotten even worse since last night." Odie says, scratching his head thoughtfully.
"Yeah, last night he didn't seem as confused when he spoke to us as he did just now." Theresa agrees with a worried look.
Herry's head bobs up and down. "Yeah, that is just weird. I've never seen anyone that sick before!"
For a moment Jay silently sits there, his fingers drumming on the table and his brow furrowing pensively. Then, abruptly, he stands up. "Come on you guys. I think we should go talk to Hera about this!" Jay announces and so saying, he walks briskly out of the kitchen with the others following behind him.
Within ten minutes the kids arrive at the school. Even though they know they are supposed to go to their morning class like they should, they instead head straight to the janitor's closet. After checking to see that the coast is clear, Jay pulls out his amulet and places it in the key slot. The dial turns, unlocking the door open.
Quickly they hurry down the main entrance and into Hera's Aviary Room. To their relief she is sitting behind the desk, talking quietly with Neil's mentor, Aphrodite who was also seated facing her. The aging Goddess is looking rather perturbed about something.
"Aphrodite...?" Theresa blurts out in surprise. It is not often the Goddess of Love makes an appearance anywhere outside of her room.
Hera's head turns around and, upon seeing her guests, her lips curl up slightly. "Children, I'm glad you are here. I was about to call for you!" Hera declares, standing up from her seat behind the desk. "Please, sit down."
"Does this have to do with Neil being so sick?" Jay inquires.
"In fact, it does." Hera nods affirmatively, "We feel that Neil may have been cursed."
"Cursed...?" Atlanta echoes in surprise. "You're kidding, right?"
Now Hera looks somber and serious. "I'm afraid not, Atlanta. Do sit down, and I'll tell you why."
The young teens look at each other and obediently took their seats before her. Hera gazes silently at them for a moment and then continues. "You are all aware of Neil's ancestor, Narcissus and how he was cursed in falling in love with his own reflection. Well, we feel this could be a similar situation."
"I don't understand," Herry says with a confused frown, "What does Narcissus's curse have to do with Neil being sick?"
Aphrodite turns to face them, looking serious as well. "I am sure you all know how Narcissus, being a beautiful boy, made it easy for almost everyone to fall in love with him," The Goddess of Love explains, "Over the years he has broken so many hearts, until one day one of the young girls have had enough and wished for a curse to be placed on him. Nemesis was the Goddess who answered her call."
Jay's jaw drops. "Wait...Nemesis? You mean, the Goddess of Vengeance...?"
As Hera nods, Jay inhaled sharply and sits back, but does not say another word. In his mind, the pieces are starting to fall into place and he is beginning to have grasped what it could have meant for Neil. "So Neil is cursed. But how...?"
Unexpectedly, Aphrodite is pleading, her hands clasped together as though in prayer. "Tell me, has Neil argued with anyone, or had some sort of confrontation that would want that person wish something bad onto him?" Her eyes are full of anguish as she looks at the teens. "How can anyone hurt my dear Neil? Who...?"
The teenagers shift in their seats uncomfortably, having no idea what to answer her. Indeed, who would Neil be quarreling with? They could not think of anyone who would be having such disagreement with Neil enough to put a curse on him.
Suddenly both Archie and Atlanta gasp, sit straight up and look quickly at each other. They have just remembered an incident that happened just an hour before Neil mysteriously became sick.
"Uh-oh," Archie mutters in a barely audible voice. At once all the eyes are upon him. Hera is looking sharply at him.
"What is it, Archie?" Hera demands, walking slowly toward the young warrior.
After some fumbling and trying to remember exactly how it happens, Archie begins to explain to his attentive audience. "Well, Atlanta and I just happened to be walking down the hall at the school the day Neil got sick when we over heard him and Stacy fighting over something."
"We think he may have broken up with her. She didn't take it well. From what we saw, she ran out of the school crying, but not before telling Neil that he'd be sorry for dumping her." Atlanta finishes.
Theresa leans forward. "...She must have somehow ran into Nemesis and wished for Neil to become sick then." She deduces, looking worried now.
An unpleasant thought occurs to Jay and he quickly speaks up. "Wait a minute," Jay says, "Doesn't Nemesis put vengeful curses on people that usually end up making things even worse?"
Odie nods in agreement. "That could explain why Neil is very ill. I mean, not only has he shown symptoms of the flu, bronchitis, but pneumonia and other more serious flues. He just keeps getting worse everyday." He declares.
"Precisely my point, Odie," Hera says, moving back to her desk. Now that she has all the attention on her, she looks even more grave. "What needs to be done is to go talk to Stacy and ask her to take back her wish. Only then will Nemesis undo Neil's curse. If we fail to do this, his health will just keep getting worse until his body will not be able to fight the germs any longer."
"You mean he could..." Atlanta trails off, unable to finish her question. She doesn't need to. Everyone realizes now what the outcome could be if nothing is done immediately.
"There isn't much time, children," Hera says with a quiet nod, "I believe Stacy will be changing classes soon. You can catch her at her locker."
"Right," Jay agrees. Filled with resolute, he stands up quickly and looks at his teammates. "Come on guys, let's go and find Stacy as soon as possible!"