Price You pay for Immortality
Immortality was a gift, a privilege to be able to stand besides Lady Artemis and fight with honour. Every day was a new beginning, a challenge, something to look forward to.
For Thalia, being a huntress was amazing. She was free to do what she pleased. She never aged, meaning she was forever young, a maiden.
There were times when she wondered if she had made the right choice to become a Hunter.
When she was forced, literally, to be Annabeth and Percy's Maid of Honour for their wedding, she wondered if she made the right choice. She watched the happy couple exchange vows and seal it with a kiss. She had congratulated her best friends with a grin, but inside, she realised how much she had missed of Annabeth's life. Before she had turned into the Pine Tree (at this, she shuddered), Annabeth was only seven years old. A small, scared child that had run away from home. She remembered wanting to leave her, fearing that the combined scent of the Daughter of Zeus and Son of Hermes would endanger the small child. She remembered promising to herself that she would protect Annabeth from harm.
She broke that promise when she became a tree. Stupid and pathetic, really. But the next time she saw Annabeth, she was already fourteen years old. She had missed the girl's childhood.
Thalia stood at the edge of the crowd as the married couple were surrounded by their friends and families. If she hadn't become immortal, she might have been able to grow up with her friends normally. All of them were in their mid twenties. Yet, Thalia physically looked sixteen.
She didn't mind too much. They were her friends and they kept in touch. Otherwise, who would keep Percy's ego at bay?
It made her flinch, when she received Jason and Piper's wedding invitation. Sure, she was happy for them, don't get her wrong, it just made her realise how much older they were. They had a combined wedding with Frank and Hazel. Thalia wasn't the Maid of Honour (thank the gods), instead, it was Annabeth, who was pregnant with her first child. But somehow, Thalia managed to become one of the bridesmaids. Unfortunately.
She didn't like the attention she received when she was up there. It made her feel odd, considering it was a sixteen year old among the twenty-something year olds.
But it was okay, wasn't it? It was her brother's wedding and her friends' special day.
Then why did she feel so… miserable?
When she heard the news about Piper, she was in the middle of sharpening her arrows. One Iris Messaging later, she rushed to the Jason's apartment, dread bubbling in her gut. When she got there, her brother collapsed into her shoulder, tears streaming down his face. The doctors had said that there was nothing that could be done.
Died on impact, they said.
Piper was dead. At only twenty-nine years of age.
Thalia was numb with shock. She brought her arms around Jason and comforted him. Besides them, Hazel and Annabeth wept for their friend. Percy clenched and unclenched his fist while glaring at the ground, tears rolling down his face. Frank kneeled down besides Hazel and she flung herself into his arms.
Everyone was silent during the funeral. Thalia stuck to the shadows.
She shouldn't be here, but Jason had begged, pleaded. She really shouldn't be here. She was immortal. She couldn't die unless in battle. Everyone else here had their time limit, an expiration date. Glancing at the tear-stricken faces of her friends, she swallowed. Sooner or later, whether she liked it or not, she was going to have to say goodbye to her friends.
She left soon after.
Ten years later, she received the news of Sally and Paul's death. A car-crash, they said.
It was horrible. She liked Mrs Jackson-Blofis. Sally. She was the mother that she never had. That they all never had. To Annabeth, to Frank, to Hazel, to Jason, to Leo. Sally was like a second mother to them all. And Paul was amazing. He was kind and considerate, and funny. Even Lady Artemis had to admit he was 'alright' and 'surprisingly not a pig-man' when they discussed about him in one of their conversations.
So when she heard that they had died in a car crash, she broke down into tears.
Five years later, Hazel was diagnosed with cancer. Everyone was devastated. The doctors said she had about four months left to live. Hazel knew that. She could feel the end approaching.
Hazel Zhang passed away, using her last breath to tell Frank that she still loved him, and she would wait for him in the Underworld.
Thalia gritted her teeth and brushed the stray tears away. Hazel was just 42 years old. She had a loving husband and two children. Why were fates so cruel?
Thalia was starting to lose count of the number of years. How old would she be if none of this happened? 50? 60? She was technically still a sixteen year old girl. But she felt so old. She still enjoyed the hunts and the thrill of it, but she was emotionally drained. She had lost so many of her friends to death. She curled up in her tent, sleep taking her to another world where her friends were her physical age and still alive.
Nico was next. He died saving a couple of children from a burning apartment. Smoke inhalation, the doctors said.
Thalia couldn't face her friends to go to the funeral.
It wasn't like she wasn't invited. They sent her an invitation but she turned it down, claiming that she was going to be on a hunt and was busy.
Yet, she watched from afar, the wedding of Percy's and Annabeth's daughter. Time went quickly. Too fast for her taste.
She hated hospitals. More specifically, she hated the doctors. They would pretend that everything was fine and well, just to make you have a false sense of security.
She hated doctors. They were the ones that told her about Piper's death. About Sally's and Paul's. About Hazel's. About Nico's. About Annabeth's.
Her sweet little sister Annabeth, dead. Dead because they couldn't save her.
Percy broke off the empathy link with Grover immediately. Something to do with not wanting to burden him with the extreme emotions he was currently experiencing. Grover had agreed warily.
Everyone knew the real motive when they found out that Percy had committed suicide a week later. Couldn't bear to live without his Annabeth, they said.
She decided to go to the funeral. It was the least she could do for her closest friends.
She kept a low profile and waited until everyone left. She approached the tombstones.
Here lies Annabeth Jackson and Percy Jackson. Heroes of Olympus. Together forever, Wise Girl and Seaweed Brain.
She let out something in between a snort and a strangled cry. She dropped to her knees and cried, tears falling down into the dirt.
"I'm so sorry. So so sorry. Please forgive me." Thalia whispered, her throat closing up. "I never wanted to lose you. Any of you guys."
The breeze caused her hair to fall into her face, sticking to her tears.
Next to her, she could see Piper's grave. She could see Hazel's grave. Nico's grave was close by. She realised that this would be where her friend's last resting place would be. This brought another round of tears.
"I never wanted this."
Tyson, Percy's brother and her cousin was killed in an explosion down at the forges.
Thalia sat quietly in the plastic chair, holding onto his hand. His hands were frail and shaking. She brushed his white hair out of his electric blue eyes.
"Hey." She murmured softly. Her fingers stroked his cheek.
"Thalia." He said. Jason, at age 83, stared at her.
"How are you?"
She hummed. He squeezed her hand, giving her a smile.
"I'm sorry." Thalia said blinking back the tears. "I should have been with you more often."
"It's okay." He coughed. "I didn't mind."
"I love you... I know I don't say it often, but I love you. I love you so much, and I don't want you to go." She sobbed. "Please…don't… don't go."
"-lia, it's okay. It'll be fine." His voice shook and a small tear trickled down his pale skin.
"Please… please… don't leave me…"
"… I'm sorry…"
She sniffed and wiped her eyes. "Look at me, crying about you."
He laughed softly. "You worried about me?" he teased.
"Idiot. Why would I." she replied, smirking. Her smile wavered. "Jason…"
"You think Piper will be there?" He had hope in his voice.
She swallowed. "Y-Yeah. She'll be there. Probably mad that you're late or something."
"Do you think I'm late?" he asked quietly.
"Nah. I think you're right on time. Can't you see her waving at you?" Thalia said, her voice cracking, "Can't you hear Piper calling your name?"
"Now that you mention it, I hear the most beautiful voice calling my name. Is that her voice? Can you hear it, Thalia?" For a moment, Thalia saw her brother, not an eighty- year old man, but a two year old, bubbling with excitement. In the next second, the image was gone.
"Yeah, I can hear her." She lied, "Go to her. She's done her waiting."
"Are you sure? I'll see you again, right?"
She choked out, "Yeah…"
"Okay. Bye Thalia. I'll see you soon. I promise." Jason whispered, closing his eyes.
His heart stopped beating.
Thalia closed her eyes, tears falling into her lap.
Was there something wrong with her? She felt so empty and hollow inside. She found herself not being able to cry when her friends passed on. Not when Grover died, one of her earliest friends. Nor when Coach Hedge was murdered or when Rachel Elizabeth Dare finally passed on. Not even Reyna could bring tears to her eyes. She never asked for this.
It was a normal day for her. She was out patrolling the area when there was a shadow overhead and screams and yells, before the ground shook. The impact caused her to fall to the ground.
Groaning, she shook the debris off her and propped herself onto her elbows. From where she was, she saw two figures emerge from the smoke. One of them jumped out and whooped, running around in circles while the other one stood and looked around in a daze. The deranged one suddenly erupted into fire.
Thalia screamed and staggered to her feet, summoning thunderclouds as she did so.
The two figures whirled around at her voice in surprise. The flames extinguished magically.
It was then she was able to drink in their features. The quieter one had caramel coloured hair which was speckled with ash. She wore a plain white blouse and a pair of jeans. She looked like a goddess. Thalia was instantly wary. Beautiful ladies were usually old hags in disguise, that tried to kill you.
The other one was a male with black shaggy hair and burnt clothes. He had a brown pack around his waist. This male made something in the back of her mind tingle, as if she had long ago forgotten something.
"Thalia!" the male said excitedly. He ran up to her, his arms raised as if to hug her. She brought up her bow and pointed at him.
"Don't come near me, boy. Who do you think you are." Thalia spat. He skidded to a stop and looked at her in confusion.
"It's me, Leo. Did you forget?"
"Leo…" she murmured, the words sounding oddly familiar. "Valdez?"
"Yep! That's me!" the boy, Leo said brightly.
Thalia refused to believe him. How dare he, after all these years, turn up? His friends had given up searching for him after five years. But here he was, not a day older since she last saw him. Was he immortal as well? Was he forced to watch his friends die like she was?
"Don't lie to me. Leo Valdez is dead." Thalia hissed.
"I don't think I'm dead. I mean, I did technically die, but I came back to life." He said, arms raised in surrender. "You have to believe me. It's me."
She took a deep breath and counted to ten. If this was a dream, she would play along. At least she got to see Leo alive once more. She slowly lowered her bow.
"And what about her?" Thalia said sceptically, jerking her head at the goddess like girl.
"This is Calypso." Leo said, waving her over. "Come here Sunshine! This is Thalia I told you about. She's Jason's sister!"
"It's… nice to meet you. You're very pretty." Calypso said with a smile. Thalia blinked.
"Hi. Same as you."
Leo jumped up and turned to Thalia. "We won the war, right? Everyone's fine, right?"
She raised her eyebrows at him, "War? We haven't had a war in ages…"
"What are you talking about. The one with Queen Dirtface. The one we just had."
She paused. "Oh. Yeah. We won."
Thalia opened her mouth to continue but was cut off by Calypso. "Leo, are we going to meet your friends? Percy? And his… Annabeth? And Piper, and this Jason?"
"And Frank, Hazel, Coach. Don't forget Nico!" Leo said gleefully.
"You can't." Thalia said sharply. Her heart clenched painfully at the names.
Leo scoffed, "I think I'm allowed to see my friends."
"No." She said through her teeth. "You can't."
"They're probably worried about me-"
"They won't be. They gave up a long, long time ago."
Leo's laughter died in his throat. His arms dropped to his sides and his head hung low.
"I've been gone for a while, haven't I…"
"How long." He muttered.
Thalia blinked back the tears. "That was almost 70 years ago, Leo."
He choked and staggered backwards against the tree. "No. No. No. No! NO!" His voice shook with pain and fear. His hands pulled at his hair and he suppressed a sob. "Please… this is a joke, a nightmare. They aren't… dead… gone…"
"That's what I try to tell myself every day. It doesn't get any easier." Thalia said. She dropped down beside him and pulled the shaking teen into her arms. "Shhh…"
"Is everyone…" Leo murmured. He didn't want to say dead.
"I'm pretty sure Frank is still somewhere out there. But most of our friends are gone. I'm sorry."
He took breaths to calm himself. "Frank is still living?" Leo said quietly. He pulled away and she saw his eyes with a new flame of hope.
"The last time I heard, he was in China. Something to do with meditation and becoming one with something or rather."
"Good old Frank," Leo said fondly, "Come on, Sunshine. Let's go meet my old friend. How do you feel about China?"
Thalia didn't see him again until Frank had died three years later.
She attended Master Zhang's funeral. Apparently, Frank had mastered Martial Arts, Archery and Meditation, which earned him endless teasing from Leo. He insisted in calling Frank, Master Shifu. The meditation had only started after his wife's death, something to do with emptying his mind.
But finally, after almost forty years of waiting, Hazel and Frank reunited in the Underworld.
She was slowly losing herself. How the gods could still be here, after millions of years, blew her mind. Perhaps that was why they fought with each other, so they could focus on themselves and block out the rest of the world.
She would sometimes contemplate killing herself, in order to get rid of the pain, but she was stubborn. She didn't want to seem weak in the eyes of Artemis. She chose her way of life, so she will deal with it.
Sure, she could have taken her life at any moment, but she was waiting. Waiting for Jason. For her friends to come back. She knew they would. She had to trust them that they will return. She was willing to wait, because she knew it would be worth it.
The question was, will she be able to survive that long.
A Century. Hundred years since she had decided to become a Huntress. Sometimes, she wondered if that was the right choice. It was hard, seeing her friends fall one by one.
She screamed. Agony laced in her voice. Leo and Calypso had drowned at sea. Why? Why? She never asked for this kind of pain. Ever.
She cried herself to sleep that night.
This wasn't what she wanted. She never asked for immortality. This wasn't a gift.
Immortality was a curse.
AN - Reviews are greatly appreciated. If there are any mistakes, please tell me and I will try my best to fix them. I apologise if Thalia seemed slightly out of character. If you had to watch your friends die over and over again, I guess you might act like this. I hope you enjoyed.