Price You Pay For Immortality
A Century and a half.
A Century and a half since Thalia became a Hunter. 150 years of immortality, never dying, never really living. Just… being.
And she was sick of it. Sick of everything. She wanted it to end, this torment was crushing her. She was no longer Thalia Grace. She was just Thalia. Thalia Grace died when the last of her friends passed on.
Unknown to her, on that day, a new baby was born.
Her oldest friend.
His blue eyes opened.
It was her day off. Artemis had sensed her moodiness and let her spend the day away from the hunt. She was thankful for that. Thalia couldn't imagine another minute staying there without snapping at one of her fellow hunters. She loved the hunters. They were like her sisters, but she didn't want to be there on that particular day.
She found herself wondering down the streets. Not many people stayed outside for too long. The fear of getting attacked was pretty high. The atmosphere had changed since a hundred years ago. There was more violence, more theft and more terrorist attacks.
So it surprised her when she saw two figures darting past her in the shadows. She only caught a glimpse but she could tell they had blonde hair. One of them was probably thirteen while the other looked about six. They reminded her of her oldest friends, Luke and Annabeth.
She shook her head. She didn't want that. She continued to walk, although her pace was much faster. It would hurt too much to get her hopes up.
Unfortunately, that incident kept running through her mind. Maybe… maybe they came back? Of course not. Why would they? But in the back of her mind, a small voice whispered ideas to her.
A week later, she ran into a little boy. Literally.
She wasn't paying attention to where she was going, but the next second, there were small thudding footsteps and something ran into her legs. There was a yelp and he fell backwards. She stared at him in a mixture of confusion and worry. The boy was probably not much older than four and had black hair with scared brown eyes. What was a boy doing out here in the woods?
"I-I'm s-sorry M-Miss. P-Please d-don't hurt… h-hurt me!" he cried looking terrified. He scrambled backwards, hitting the tree behind him.
"I won't hurt you." Thalia promised, "Are you lost?"
The four year old gazed at her, shaking. "D-Don't hurt… please…"
"No one is going to hurt you. Is there someone after you?" she was feeling concerned .
He let out a squeak, "There are b-bad p-people chasing m-me."
Her eyes widened a fraction. "Is someone looking after you?"
He nodded his head slowly. "M-My brother… I don't know where he is… I got lost…"
Thalia smiled encouragingly. She inched closer. "Do you want me to wait with you for your brother?"
"Would you really?" There was hope in his voice. She nodded. He crawled closer to her and carefully sat next to her.
"Do you want to come with me? You could sleep in my tent."
His eyes widened. "N-No. That's o-okay."
"It's alright! We have food, if you're hungry."
He fell silent.
Thalia sighed. "You must be tired, kid. It's getting dark. I don't know the chances of finding your brother at this time of the night. Why don't you just come sleep and we can look for him in the morning?"
"You won't hurt me, right?"
"No I won't. Why do you think I will?"
He flinched, "Uncle always does."
Her jaw dropped. This kid was abused? "I'll never hurt you. I would never." She promised. Inside, she was seething. How dare someone lay a hand on this kid. No. How dare anyone hurt any kid.
The boy looked at her with shining eyes. "Okay! You've been really nice to me! You must be a good person."
She swallowed. It wasn't everyday she got to see such innocence. "Come on, kid."
She stood up while he quickly scrambled up. She was surprised to find that he slipped his small hands into hers.
They walked together back towards the Hunter's camp.
"What's your name, kid?" Thalia asked after a while.
"Um, Nathan…" he said shyly. She bit her lip. He wasn't him, he wasn't him, she chanted in her head.
"You can call me Thalia."
"That's a pretty name!"
What happened to that tough, warrior girl? Here she was, holding hands with a boy, sounding like she cared. It was because this was a child. Yep. Not because this kid reminded her of Nico. Nope. Never. Because…
She glanced down at him. He looked so much like Nico. This was why you don't get attached. She was angry with herself. She knew it was going to hurt when she had to say goodbye to him.
"Are we there yet?" Nathan yawned.
"I'm tired." He began tugging on her hand. She ignored him. Just keep walking. Just keep walking. Maybe he will keep walking.
"Miss Thalia? Can we stop for a bit?" he asked timidly.
She narrowed her eyes. So much for that. She tore her gaze from the path in front of her and looked at him. Her mouth opened to form the word no, but it came out as, "Get on my back."
Stupid, stupid mouth.
Thalia swallowed back a groan and she crouched down. He eagerly clambered on with his small arms wrapped around her neck. His head rested against her shoulder.
"Thank you miss."
Her anger melted away immediately. "Don't worry about it, kid."
She continued to hike back to camp in silence. His breathing became even, although his breath tickled her neck.
When she reached the camp, she blinked at the sight. A group of Hunters were surrounding something. She carefully made her way towards them, making sure the sleeping child didn't fall off her back.
"Girls, what's wrong." Thalia said, causing a couple of them to jump.
"Oh there you are! We found him lurking around." One of them said quickly.
"Who?" she asked.
"A boy." The another answered, wrinkling her nose slightly, "They found him just outside the borders, but he ran into your tent. He's refusing to come out, saying he would bite us."
"Let me through. Everyone, back to work. I'll sort this out." Thalia called out. Nathan stirred on her back but didn't wake.
"Is that a boy on your back?" another hunter asked.
"Yes. Now go." She replied through gritted teeth.
Sensing danger, the hunters left her alone, though she could hear grumbling.
She cautiously opened the tent flap. "Hey. Is anyone in here?" she whispered.
There was small shuffling noises.
"I'm not going to hurt you." She said a bit louder. She stepped inside, "Are you Nic- Nathan's brother?"
"How do you know him?" a voiced answered her.
"He was scared. His sleeping right now."
A head popped up from behind the chest of clothes. "Nat?"
She took breaths to control herself. Same unruly black hair with bright green eyes. Percy. "He's right here." Her voice came out a bit higher than usual. She shook the sleeping child awake. He let out a muffled yawn.
"Miss Thalia? Where are we?"
"In my tent. This is your brother, right?"
Instantly, he was alert. "Philip?"
The boy, Philip, jumped out and ran for ward, holding something in his arm. "Oh god! I thought I lost you! Don't run off like that."
"I'm sorry Phil. I was scared. But Miss Thalia saved me." He grinned at her.
"Thanks." The older boy said, looking at her with uncertainty. There was a cry. Philip quickly bounced the bundle in his arms. It took her moment to realise that it was a baby. "Shhh, Haley."
Her heart skipped a beat. The baby was Hazel. Her hand flew to her mouth and tears prickled at the corner of her eyes.
"Are you okay, Miss?" Nathan asked, cocking his head. He was standing next his brother looking protected.
"I-I'm fine." Thalia said, "Go to sleep. You can leave in the morning."
"Fine." Philip said after a while.
When Thalia woke up the next day, they were gone.
It must have been at least five years later. She heard the sound of glass shattering. She was going to ignore it until she heard wailing from a baby. She backtracked and glanced around. Following the sound of the cries, she eventually found herself facing a woman holding a crying baby.
"Oi. Shhhh…" the woman said, patting the baby. From where Thalia stood, she could smell the smoke from the cigarette. How was the baby supposed to be fine when the mother exhaled smoke into his face?
"You shouldn't be outside with a baby!" Thalia called. She took a couple of steps towards her.
The woman's head shot up. She had bloodshot eyes and with dark circles beneath them. "You think I don't know that?"
"This is how you do it." Thalia muttered. She snatched the baby out of her arms and rocked him back and forth. She began humming a tune. Hush little baby don't you cry…
The child's wails softened. Thalia smiled and glanced at the face. And faltered. His blue eyes gazed at her. His blond hair glinted in the light. Such a familiar face. She would never forget this face. How often did she have to look after him when he was a small child? This was Jason. She choked, a strangled cry escaping her lips.
"Look after him. He's a special boy." Thalia hissed at the woman. "You can't mess up this time."
With that, she shoved the baby back into the mother's arms and stalked off. She never noticed the tears falling down her own face.
She was keeping tabs. Just making sure they were fine. Percy and Annabeth ended up meeting each other, well, Philip and Amelia. Same thing. She wasn't bothered to remember names. But they became best friends instantly. She didn't know how though. They were totally different from each other.
There was something different about Percy here though. He was more of a rebel and got into fights. Sure he was like that before, but it was slightly different. Annabeth was still smart but she lacked that fighting spirit she once had. But over the years, they managed to influence each other.
Percy was clever. He was a fighter but he was able to plan and use tactic while Annabeth became dangerous. A genius. A leader. They ended up becoming soldiers for war. Percy became the captain for the Navy with Annabeth at his side. That was one thing that never changed. They still relied on each other. Thalia couldn't understand why they would go to war. Didn't they already fight in their previous lives? I guess it's still in their nature to want to help people.
But Thalia didn't want to get too close. She would get attached and feel the pain all over again.
No. She didn't want that.
Many years later, she saw Leo and Reyna. Leo must have been at least thirty. He still had the same curls and the same mischievous eyes. He was holding hands with a little girl that resembled Reyna.
She didn't realise that she had spoken aloud until he paused and turned to her.
"Pardon miss?" he said with raised eyebrows.
Thalia cursed herself. "N-Nothing. You reminded me of someone."
He smirked. "There's only one hot guy around town, and that's me!"
"Daddy. You're being an idiot again." The little girl said with a deadpanned look.
"Sorry sweetie. But you know it's the truth." He laughed, ruffling her daughter's hair.
"Whatever you say, dad." She gave him a glare and smoothed down her black hair.
Escape… escape… escape… Thalia looked around nervously.
"Have… have I seen you around before?" Leo asked, frowning at her.
"We might have" she answered.
"My name is Rowan! I'm 5!" the girl piped up.
"Nice to meet you Rowan. My name is Thalia." She knelt down to whisper in her ear, "You have to make sure your daddy doesn't become an idiot."
She giggled. "Mummy says he already is."
Thalia chuckled, "Too late then."
Leo pouted. "You guys are mean."
"Whatever, Valdez. I mean, um." Her eyes widened, "Um, I have to go. Bye." With a hasty wave, she all but fled from the scene. She was going to regret talking to them.
It turned out Piper was Annabeth's younger sister. How she figured it out, she wasn't quite sure. Fate probably.
It should have been a normal day. It was, until she saw a girl sobbing. She could have kept walking, but no, Thalia just had to stop to look at her. The girl was beautiful, and she was probably only nineteen years of age. She was sitting on the park bench, clutching a letter. Her brown hair whipped around in the wind.
Thalia should have turned around walked in the other direction, but at that moment, a big gust of wind came, blowing the piece of paper out of the girl hand. She let out a screech and rushed after it. It landed near the huntress.
Sighing, Thalia picked up the piece of paper from the ground. Without meaning to, her eyes fell onto the small neat writing.
…We deeply regret to inform you that your sister, Lieutenant Amelia Johnson and her husband, Captain Philip Johnson were killed in battle…
Why were these names familiar? Thalia bit her lip. She wasn't so good with names anymore. It was just a simple word that was used to differentiate faces from each other. For Thalia, everyone was just a passing face.
The girl came running over, tears streaming down her face.
"Are you okay, miss?" Thalia asked, handing over the note.
"I-I'm fine. It's j-just…" She broke down, collapsing onto the ground. "M-My sister is dead. M-My sister!"
Thalia looked troubled. What was she supposed to say? She knew what it was like to lose people close to you. It almost didn't affect her anymore.
"I'm sorry…" the girl apologised. She looked up and Thalia stiffened at her face. She had beautiful eyes. They were multicoloured, reflecting different shades of blues and greens. Those eyes reminded her of one of her friends, Pepper. No, Piper. For a moment, Thalia was horrified at herself for forgetting her name.
"I know what it's like to lose someone you love." Thalia said quietly, sitting down next to her. "My brother as well as my friends died."
"That's so sad. I'm so sorry."
"No, it's okay. It was a long time ago. I got over it." Or so she hoped. "What was your sister like?"
"She is… was… nine years older than me. She… She was amazing. She's smart, like a genius. I don't know why Amy went to war. I think because her best friend influenced her." The girl answered, smiling softly. "They were best friends. Two completely different people, but you know how they say opposites attract. They ended up dating and getting married. Childhood friends, they said."
"They sound like wonderful people." Thalia murmured. She finally got it. No wonder those names rang a bell. They were reincarnations of Percy and Annabeth. Her friends had passed on a second time.
"I should get going. My boyfriend is picking me up any second." The girl brushed her dress and stood up shakily.
"Penny! Penny!" A voice shouted.
"Over here!" she waved her arms.
Thalia should have slipped away but she couldn't. Not when it was Jason that came sprinting over. Somehow, she forgot how to breathe. She was glad she was still sitting down, otherwise she was certain she would have collapsed.
"I heard what happened! Oh my god, I'm so sorry." Jason said. Penny… Piper. Thalia closed her eyes. Of course it was her. They managed to find each other. She didn't know why she didn't see it before. Maybe a part of her didn't want everyone to be back. She didn't want to go through the pain again. Now she was just being selfish.
Piper launched herself into his arms and cried. Jason rubbed her back, whispering soothing words.
It was then Jason locked eyes with Thalia.
"Have we met?" he asked.
She looked away. "No." She walked away, clenching her hands into a fist.
Hush little baby don't you cry…
Everyone was there.
Thalia blended in well, wearing her black dress. She stood at the back, hoping no one would notice her presence. It was a huge risk to come here. Everyone was here, meaning that anyone could recognise her. That would be awkward to explain.
From where she was standing, she could see Piper crying into Jason's shoulder while Hazel was buried into Nico's chest. She wasn't really surprised to see Leo and Calypso paying their respects. Reyna was holding hands with Frank, although his head flickered back to Hazel a couple of times.
Thalia stood at the back with a blank face. She wasn't crying. Then again, she had practice. This was her second time attending their funeral. They died a hero's death. They would meet again. Maybe.
It was an anniversary. A year since Annabeth and Percy, or rather Amelia and Philip were killed at war. Funnily enough, they were buried at the same cemetery as the original ones. Strange how Fate worked… or perhaps they just wanted to mess with her.
She went passed the grave stones, running her eyes across the names. Some of them she had forgotten, while others jumped out at her.
Piper… Hazel… Annabeth and Percy… Nico… The names kept going. Who was Clarisse again? Katie was a daughter of Hermes, right?
After a while, she slowly made her way back to where Amelia and Philip rested. She put a hand on the cold marble stone and closed her eyes. "It was nice to see you again. I hope I can meet you another time." She let out a shaky laugh, "Don't worry. I'll be waiting."
She placed two roses down. "Goodbye. Until next time."
Every year, she visited the graveyard. People would always wonder how the fresh roses got there.
She didn't remember how it happened. One second she was walking, and the next moment, she was on the ground. In a pool of blood.
Everything was hazy. She remembered the quick steps she was taking. She remembered the odd feeling of being watched. She had turned her head and saw the familiar mop of blond hair. She had stood frozen as his blue eyes pierced her own. Her heart missed a beat. Jason. He looked older, possible twenty five. Give or take. She couldn't remember the exact age of everyone. But her gaze went passed him and locked onto the figure standing behind him.
This was someone she had almost forgotten. Almost, but not quite. She could see the scar running down his face and the tattoos that decorated his shoulders. Even with the sunglasses, she could recognise him. This man had to be in his early forties. That smirk would always be burned in her mind.
She saw the glint. The grin. The gun.
Thalia started running. As she ran, her fingers gripped the knife that was at her belt. Her footsteps sounded loud to her ears. Time became still. She threw the knife at the assailant. She jumped, her hands barely grabbing the fabric of his jacket. She pushed and they fell. The world tilted and she saw the ground rushing towards her.
A explosion of pain in her back.
There was a scream. A horrified scream filled with agony that escaped her lips.
They landed on the ground with a thud. Jason groaned from underneath her. She struggled to sit up, using her shaking arms to take her weight off him. Tears dripped onto his face. She bit her lip until she drew blood.
"H-Hey Jason." Thalia muttered through gritted teeth. He scrambled up from the floor.
"Oh god, are you okay?" he demanded. She swayed and collapsed into his arms, much to her distain. She was not weak.
"I'm s-sorry… f-for everythin'…" she murmured. Her hands clutched at his shirt, trying to take her mind off of the pain. Her breaths came out in sharp gasps. Where was ambrosia when she needed it?
… I'm just going out for a walk. I'll be back before you know it...
It was her own stupidity that was her downfall. Of course it was.
"Hey, hang in there. The ambulance is coming soon." He said urgently. She looked around groggily before meeting his eyes. Such a beautiful blue colour. Like the colour of the ocean, glistening under the sunlight. Why had she never noticed this? It doesn't matter now. For now, all she wanted to do was to drink in his features one last time. She could have laughed if it didn't hurt so much. Here she was dying away because she took a bullet. She was killed by a mortal, no less. Well to be fair, that mortal was the reincarnation of Luke. Pathetic.
She had expected to die on the battlefield, surrounded by her fellow hunters, with Lady Artemis standing beside her. Maybe the goddess would tell her she did well, served her well. Maybe Lady Artemis would tell her she was proud of her. But she would never know what her mistress thought. She'll never know because she was lying on the cold cement, the crimson blood pooled around her. She could smell the metallic blood in her mouth. She coughed.
"I missed… you…" She managed to say.
He cradled her closer. "Please don't die. You saved my life."
"J..ason…" Her voice was getting weaker now. It was softer and she was panting. Sweat trickled down her face.
He brushed away the strands of hair that stuck to her face. "You're a hero, you know that?"
"You… don'… know… me…" she gasped out. A hero? Was he losing it? She was never a hero. Definitely never will be. Heroes were people who saved innocent people from harm. All she did was watch her friends die in front of her. She didn't even deserve to be associated with that name.
"It's true I don't know you, but I… I know you are a hero Thalia." He whispered.
She jerked back, eyes wide. "What… did you… call… me?"
He frowned. "That's funny… I called you Thalia, didn't I. Sorry, you must have reminded me of someone."
Thalia smiled softly. It had been so long since she had heard that name. Especially from his mouth. "I have that… affect… on people…"
Darkness began to creep into her vision. It was as if the shadows were coming alive to get her. She giggled. That would be right. Death by Shadows. The funny thing was, she didn't feel the pain anymore. It was a strange sensation. She could hear voices calling out to her. Maybe this is what he meant all those years ago.
"Is that her voice? Can you hear it, Thalia?"
"Yeah I can. Go to her, she's done her waiting."
Thalia knew this was the end. Maybe she could see her friends again? She paid enough for immortality, right? She never did ask for this in the first place. She never understood the full price. Isn't that what Luke told her? Nothing in life is free.
"I'll see you… in the… next life…" Her voice was barely audible. Jason had to lean forward to hear her. All she had to do was let go of her life, right? When she did, she could leave. She would get to see her friends. It would be fine. Everything was going to be fine. All she had to do was let go. Her grip on his shirt loosened.
He gulped. He must have realised there was nothing to be done. "Goodbye, hero. And thank you."
Thalia smiled. She had waited to be with her friends for so long. It had been at least 190 years since she started. That was a long time to wait. But it was fine. Waiting for another couple more decades wouldn't hurt. She was good at being patient, after all.
She gazed one last time into Jason's eyes. At least she was going to die knowing she saved her little brother. That was probably the only satisfying way for her to go.
Thalia breathed out one word. Just one small word. "…Goodbye…."
With that, she ceased to take another breath and her heart stopped beating. Her hand slumped to the ground and her head rolled upwards. Her eyes stared at the starry sky, though it was unfocused. Jason took a shuddering breath and closed her eyes with his shaking fingers.
Thalia was finally free.
AN - Um. This took off in a completely different direction to what I originally planned. Thank you to everyone who reviewed and liked this story. Some people asked for a second part, but I'm not sure if this is what they had in mind. Oh well.
Reviews and criticism are appreciated as they help me to become a better writer. I hope you enjoyed this.