hey guys! i am so, so sorry for the unplanned hiatus! i've had a lot of things to settle in the past few months and i've been in no frame of mind to write, but i've finally gotten my shit together and here's the next chapter of healing! i haven't planned out the next few chapters yet, but this story will be coming to a close soon! thanks so much for all the reviews and i hope you enjoy this chapter!
"What were you thinking?"
Nico di Angelo is only sixteen years old, but he is officially scaring the crap out of Wasabi – and it's not just that the kid looks like death, either. He's pacing up and down in Fred's weird room, muttering under his breath as Will Solace checks out their injuries (not that they really have a lot) and forces them to drink hot chocolate and brings out dry clothes for them.
Hiro sends Nico a glare. "I was thinking that I had to catch the guy who started the fire! He's the reason Tadashi is the way he is, he's the reason Reyna is still stuck in the hospital in a coma – "
"She woke up," says Will.
Hiro's jaw drops as he is, momentarily, diverted: "What?"
"I was going to tell you carefully, but since you decided to go and take a stupid, crazy stand on your own, who am I to say anything?" Nico throws his hands up in disbelief. "You could have gotten killed, to the goddamn pits of Tartarus! You had no idea what you were up against! This man was ready to set fire to an entire building of people just to get your damned microbots, gods of Olympus, and you decided that setting your robot into some kind of ridiculous suit would be enough? To the pits of Tartarus – I thought Reyna said you're supposed to be some kind of goddamn genius!"
"Don't take out your hatred for paperwork on the kid," says Will.
"I'm not in the mood for joking."
"If you're going after this man, you're not going in without us."
Hiro scowls at Nico. "This isn't your fight. And whatever you think of us, we can handle it, okay? First of all, you're only two years older than me. Secondly, we've got our tech to help us upgrade into weapons. This doesn't involve you."
Nico's eyes flash, and everything feels cold. Fred's room, which is bright and happy and warm, suddenly seems to drop in temperature, and the shadows grow larger and darker as Nico clenches his fists. Honey Lemon flinches at the sudden drop and pulls the oversized sweater Will has found for her even closer around herself, and even GoGo tugs at the blanket Will has insisted she drape around her shoulders. Fred inches closer to Wasabi on the sofa, and the big African-American's eyes grow wider and he holds back a squeak as a chill seems to settle upon the room.
Will clears his throat, and Nico steps back a fraction, and the room seems to grow warmer, lighter.
"Contrary to what you think, Will and I aren't completely useless, or you would all be dead thanks to that man trying to kill you," says Nico, acidly. "You think it was a complete coincidence that Will already had out all the hot chocolate and a first aid kit to welcome you with?"
Hiro's eyes widen.
"And trust me, this very much involves me," hisses Nico. "Reyna may be walking and talking and she may be physically fine right now, but she could have died. And no one touches Reyna, or hurts her. Ever. This man is my enemy just as much as yours."
"And trust me," Will says. "You'll need us. Probably." He pauses, tilts his head, and adds, "If Nico doesn't decide to kill you all first so you don't mess up."
"You've spending too much time with the Greeks."
Jason looks at her. "I know, I'm getting slack – "
"Don't mess with me, Grace," says Reyna, and Tadashi thinks for a moment how amazing she looks, all angry and her eyes flashing but with the faintest twitch of her lips. "You did that on purpose. You cunning son of a – "
"Language, Avila Ramirez-Arellano," says Jason. He looks at her innocently. "I have no idea what you're talking about. That was an honest slip up."
Tadashi is confused. He is so very, very confused. What on earth are they talking about?
Reyna sends a look at Jason: "Nectar and ambrosia. And unicorn draught. I'm getting out of here."
Jason narrows his eyes: "Oh, no. You left the Legion early, remember? You're not a praetor anymore, this isn't your mess. Technically, this isn't even under our jurisdiction, but we're making it under jurisdiction. You, on the other hand, are going to stay here for at least one night. I'll get Will to drop by tomorrow and do his magic."
"And what about Tadashi?" she demands, hisses.
Jason looks over at Tadashi, who is still standing, confused and angry and not knowing what to think.
"I'll handle it," he says.
"You'd better," Reyna says. "You're more Greek than Roman now. I can't believe you – "
"Look, I know you, Rey," says Jason. "If I'd left it up to you, you wouldn't have said anything. You would've wanted to, but you would've been too scared. I've known you for years. So I made your decision for you."
"It was my decision to make," says Reyna, and she sounds like a small child, a petulant child.
"Rey," says Jason, more gently now, and he steps towards her, holds a hand to her face, and Tadashi feels an irrational surge of jealousy, anger, annoyance. "You made your decision, I know you did. You were just too afraid to go ahead with it."
There's a silence for a moment, a silence that echoes around the room.
"You're lucky I'm not praetor anymore, Grace," Reyna finally mutters. "Else you'd be in the Little Tiber right now, sewn into a bag full of weasels."
Jason laughs: "I'll see you around, too, Rey."
He gives a one-handed salute to a befuddled Tadashi Hamada, nods once and walks right out the door.
Finally, finally, Tadashi's voice seems to work.
"What just happened?" he manages to squeak.
It takes the better part of the night, but Tadashi sits and listens while Reyna explains to him about an entire world, a world that exists within theirs; of monsters and magic and gods and children who don't always live to be adults.
"Demigods," Tadashi says. "Demigods."
She tosses in a shining coin into a rainbow she makes from a prism and a small bowl of water that Tadashi gets for her, and she tells him that this is called an Iris-message, and she'd like to speak to Hazel Levesque, please.
This is when the shimmering image of a familiar-looking dark-skinned girl with golden eyes appears in the water, and Tadashi lets out a yelp and stumbles over backwards.
"Jason said he'd done it," says Hazel.
"I hate you, Levesque," says Reyna.
Hazel laughs: "I love you too, Reyna."
"You have to understand," says Reyna. "This life is dangerous."
"You miss that danger," says Tadashi. "You left it because you thought you wanted to put it behind you, but you missed it. That's why I found you that first night. That's why you can fight so well, why you can do all those ridiculous stunts. Jumping off the motorbike and looking out for Hiro. That time when I nearly dropped Hiro on his head. All of that."
Reyna twists uncomfortably on the bed. "Yeah."
"That's why you have so many scars."
He doesn't have to say not just physically, but mentally too, because they both know what he's thinking.
"Yes," says Reyna. She sits oddly upright, her hands perfectly still, staring straight ahead of her, avoiding looking over at him. Her back is straight, stiff, her eyes open but empty, and Tadashi is struck by the thought of how much she looks like a statue, cold and unmoving.
He thinks it isn't just the – what was it called? Imperial Gold? Yes, that's it – the Imperial Gold that acts as an armour for her, and that her aegis isn't actually her only defence.
"Oh," Tadashi says; and then he pauses, takes off his cap, runs his hand through his hair, shoves it back on, leans further back into his seat, and nods. "Okay."
"Okay," he nods. "I think I can believe it."
Reyna stares at him. Blinks. Shakes her head. Blinks again.
"You're not freaked out?" she says, and her eyes clear, and he can see the confusion in them, the worry; "I mean, this is a whole – it's a completely different world. It's magic and monsters and sword-fighting and gods."
"I can accept it," Tadashi nods. "I mean, you just showed me that rainbow water thing – "
"Iris Messaging," says Reyna.
"Yeah, that's it. IM-ing." He nods again. "It makes sense now."
"Makes sense?" she wants to know.
There is a pause, and a light flush appears on Tadashi's face as he says: "Well, you make a bit more sense now. And that's – um – " He swallows a little, and he wonders why he's so damn nervous, and he says, "And that's something I've been trying to figure out for a while now. I mean. You. I mean. Trying to figure you out. Yeah."
There's the faintest of smiles on Reyna's face, and as her body loosens up and she leans back against the bed, Tadashi thinks that's half the battle won.
It's a day or two later that the others show up to visit Reyna, and Hiro almost instantaneously throws his arms around her when he reaches her room, and Reyna smiles and laughs and doesn't try to peel him off.
They don't talk about Callaghan, or demigods, or the fire. Hiro tells Reyna all about what he's been learning at SFIT so far, and GoGo talks about her new skates, and how Wasabi has improved on his plasma-induced lasers, and Honey Lemon talks about her brand-new handbag, and Fred talks endlessly about one comic after another.
"They know it can't be Krei," Nico says to Reyna, quietly, when they've left, a lot of tearful hugs from Honey Lemon and Hiro, a salute from GoGo, a massive hug from Fred and an awkward clap on the shoulder from Wasabi; "He was actually in a meeting at the time when Kabuki Mask Man tried to drown them."
"How do you know that?" Tadashi wants to know.
"Leo hacked into his system," says Will.
"That's not possible," Tadashi says automatically. "Even Hiro can't do that."
"This is Leo we're talking about," says Nico, as if this settles the topic, and turns to his next point of conversation: "I used the Mist on them. It's messed up their heads a bit."
"You messed up my brother's mind?" Tadashi demands.
Nico gives him a steely glare that's sent even Clarisse take a step back, but to his credit, Tadashi stands his ground, though he turns a little pale. Will sighs, Reyna sends an equally-threatening glare back at Nico.
"You knowing already puts you in danger," Will decides to step in. "If your brother and your friends knew, that'd just put them in danger as well. Especially if some monsters want to take revenge on Reyna and Nico and the Seven, they might try to get to them through you and your brother and the others."
"How would the monsters know?" Tadashi frowns.
"They can sniff it out," says Reyna. "Don't ask me how. They can literally smell demigod and knowledge on you. It's a monster thing."
"Anyway," says Nico, "I just altered them slightly. They escaped from Kabuki Mask Man on their own, and when they got back, we ran into them in the hallways and got them dry clothes and everything, and offered to help them out since the arsonist nearly killed Reyna."
There is a pause as this information is absorbed.
"Thank you," Tadashi finally says. "You saved their lives. You and Will."
"You see, Nico?" Will says. "That's polite. Now what do you say back?"
"I'm going to kill you," says Nico.
"That's not very nice, di Angelo."
Reyna rolls her eyes and Tadashi feels his lips quirk upwards at the corners, but he catches the nod that Nico sends him and the smile that Will flashes, and his half-smile turns into a proper smile that lights up his whole face.
The hospital that Reyna is staying in is on a small rise overlooking part of the city and has a beautiful garden overflowing with brightly coloured flowers, and one evening Tadashi convinces the nurses to let him wheel Reyna outside into the expanse of garden, where she can look out over the glinting city and lights and the shimmering sea in quiet and in the evening breeze among the grass and the flowers.
His face flushes when the nurses smile and tell him how romantic that is, and they say of course he can.
"Where are we going?" Reyna says suddenly, when he wheels her in the opposite direction away from the courtyard, and he can sense how tense she suddenly becomes, jerking upright in her wheelchair.
She feels powerless, weak, and she feels uncomfortable that she's not in control.
"It's a surprise," Tadashi says, and his hand comes down to pat her on her shoulder, gently, and she can feel herself relaxing almost instantly.
As a warrior and soldier and ex-praetor, she's not exactly happy with this turn of events. But as Reyna, she lets Tadashi wheel her out into the garden, through the greenery and bright bursts of colours and past a glinting fountain to where nature starts to thin out, and she can look out over San Fransokyo, throbbing with life as the sky falls dark.
Lights shining, tall buildings glowing in the setting sun, the ocean turning darker as the light fades; the city is thrumming and vibrant and Reyna shuts her eyes and breathes it all in, so far away but so close (naturally, she thinks; a hospital is useless if it's too far away to get to in time), surrounded by flowers and trees and the green, green grass, and opens her eyes again to drink it all in hungrily.
"It's so beautiful," she says. "The view."
Tadashi has settled onto the grass next to her, sitting cross-legged, and she doesn't see him looking up at her as she stares out over the city.
"Yeah," he says. "Beautiful."
so um, what do you think?