Chapter I: Emma Meets a 50 Year Old Teenage Boy
"You know, you'd think I'd be used to hearing about weird magical stuff by now, and yet, you continue to surprise me," Emma said wryly, glancing at Mary Margaret.
Chiron smiled patiently; over the past year, he had grown accustomed to Emma's sarcasm and her tendency to talk back to both himself and Dionysus, camp director and god (in that order), the latter of which never failed to make him laugh. (Dionysus did, of course, have complaints, but seeing as he shared a father with the sassy demigod, he couldn't exactly turn her into a nice goblet of wine.)
"I trust that the two of you will be welcoming, informative guides to our newest campers," Chiron said, looking at Emma pointedly and causing the girl to blush.
"I can be welcoming."
"Notice how she didn't say anything about being informative," Mary Margaret muttered to Graham, who had notified Chiron about the impending arrival of two demigod brothers. Graham snorted, and the cough he used to try and cover it up did nothing to fool Emma.
"As two of our most experienced campers, I'm hoping you can make the Jones brothers feel at ease here."
Emma wrinkled her nose. "I understand why you'd pick Mary Margaret since she's been here the longest, and it's not like you can ask Regina - she's definitely not the welcoming committee type - but still, why ask me?"
Chiron sighed and tapped the silver bracelet on Emma's wrist, the one he had given her before she had gone on her first quest.
"As a daughter of Zeus, king of Olympus, I do believe this belongs to you," Chiron said, handing Emma the bracelet.
"Um, thanks? But how is this supposed to help me? Do you think the monsters will get distracted by how shiny it is and chase the light that reflects off of it?"
Despite her snark, Chiron chuckled good-naturedly. "I assure you not. When needed, this bracelet can take the form of a powerful replica of the shield, Aegis. The original shield used the power of Medusa's gaze to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy, and the replica, while muted, retains some of its power. It is your right to carry it."
"Emma, you've gone on two quests already in your one year at Camp Half-Blood. That's more than many demigods get to experience during their entire time here. You, along with Mary Margaret, have the most experience with the real world and the dangers demigods face there," Chiron explained.
Emma huffed, but Chiron was, like always, making sense, and she owed it to him to accept the task of escorting green-faced demigods around. After all, he had given her a home.
"So how old are these guys supposed to be, anyway?" Emma asked, pacing in front of Mary Margaret while the other girl calmly checked the fletching on one of the arrows in her ever-present quiver. While archery was something that came more naturally to children of Apollo and the Hunters of Artemis, the bow had always been Mary Margaret's weapon of choice.
Mary Margaret shrugged. "Chiron didn't say. He did mention that they were trapped in the Lotus Hotel for a while, though, and I know that demigods often get lost there for decades because they don't realize how much time is passing."
Emma's eyes went wide and she let out a low whistle. "Wow. Glad we never went there on our quests."
Mary Margaret snorted and nodded in agreement. She snuck another glance at the pine tree that had once been her friend; she had been doing that every thirty seconds for the past ten minutes, thinking that Emma didn't notice, but it was hard to miss. Mary Margaret wasn't exactly known for being subtle.
"Gods, it's taking them forever to get here," Emma groaned, sitting down and promptly falling back onto the grass. "Didn't Graham say that they'd be here by now?"
"Actually, Emma, we all told you they'd be here fifteen minutes before they were actually supposed to arrive," Mary Margaret said mildly. "In case you got distracted flying again and forgot your promise to Chiron."
Emma's jaw dropped. "One time. It happened one time!"
"You fell on an eleven year old kid from the Iris cabin trying to take a nap."
"It wasn't my fault he was in a tree," Emma protested. "Why was he taking a nap in a tree?"
"That is completely irrelevant and you know it," Mary Margaret scolded.
Emma rolled her eyes and sat up, rolling her dagger in her hands. "Henry was fine as soon as I promised to take him flying with me once I could control it better. He had a blast."
"And didn't leave your side at all this past year," Mary Margaret added, smiling when Emma looked away.
"Yeah, well, he's not that bad. It's not his fault he's an orphan, too," Emma said quietly.
In the year that Emma had been at Camp Half-Blood, she had met a shocking amount of orphans (not true orphans, of course, but it was hard to feel otherwise when your living parent resided on Mount Olympus). She had learned from Chiron that he had had to hire tutors for the campers who stayed at Camp Half-Blood year-round, simply because they had no homes to go back to. Her face had flushed at being called an orphan, but Chiron had been kind when he had offered for her to stay, and going to class taught by a fellow demigod quickly became Emma's favorite time of day. For years, she had struggled with the idea that she was stupid because of her dyslexia and distracting because of her ADHD, only to find out that it was her Olympian blood at work, her brain hard-wired for Ancient Greek instead of English and her instincts ever-ready for battle. To have a teacher who fully understood how she functioned was no small blessing - it was a miracle from the gods themselves.
Emma would have been lying if she'd said that she hadn't been relieved to know that she was not, in fact, dumb, and that she could actually remember what she learned in class. It had thrilled her to excel in school for once in her life, and when Henry had asked her for help translating some of his Greek homework after they had gone on the promised flight, she had all too eagerly jumped at the chance.
They had been inseparable ever since.
"I think having you around is really good for him," Mary Margaret mused, sitting down next to Emma and gently nudging the blonde's shoulder with her own. "And vice versa."
Emma merely hummed in response, jumping to her feet and resuming her pacing. "I think Graham showing up and not making me wait any more would be really good for me."
"Always with the attitude," the satyr in question snarked, stepping over the camp property line with a smirk. Emma rolled her eyes even as she hugged him in greeting; however much she taunted him, she always missed her friend when he left to search for demigods like her.
"Took you long enough," Mary Margaret teased. After going on two quests with Emma and Graham, even she had been left unable to resist the occasional sassy remark directed towards one of them. "Where are our new charges?"
"Emma, Mary Margaret, meet Liam and Killian Jones, sons of the god of the sea," Graham said, bowing slightly as two boys came to stand beside him.
When Mary Margaret turned to look at Emma, both of her eyebrows were raised, and Emma knew her expression was just as comical as her friend's.
Two children of one of the Big Three, birthed by the same mother?
And Emma had thought she was special for being a child of Zeus.
Mary Margaret cleared her throat. "Well, it's nice to meet you both. I'm Mary Margaret Blanchard, daughter of Athena and camp counselor for Cabin Six, and this is Emma Swan, daughter of Zeus and camp counselor for Cabin One." Her smile, while hesitant, was much more genuine than Emma's own grimace.
"Really, with the titles?" Emma whispered, scowling. She didn't exactly enjoy having her godly parentage advertised, but it came with the job.
"I take it you're not a fan of discussing your father, either," the elder Jones - Liam - said, a hint of a smile on his face. Emma looked at him appraisingly, and, seeing only honest curiosity in his eyes, decided it wouldn't be terrible to tell him the truth.
"People get awed by me because of who my dad is," Emma said, shrugging. "It gets them talking before they even get the chance to know me, and by the time they do, they already have preconceived notions of what I'm like as a child of Zeus."
"I don't think it's that so much as the quests," Mary Margaret suggested. "Your accomplishments are nothing to be ashamed of."
Emma wrinkled her nose and shot a pained look at the Jones brothers. "Another reason for my reputation to precede me. You go on two quests and people start talking about you like you're the savior of Olympus or something. The attention is something I could definitely do without."
"We know what that's like," Liam said, his smile turning into something more sympathetic. "We're notorious enough as sons of Poseidon, but the fact that we have the same mum let people think they had a right to stare. It could get pretty awful."
Emma dimpled at him. Finally, another demigod who understood what it was like to be recognized for your parent and nothing else. She could get along with Liam. It was his oddly silent brother, Killian, that she wasn't sure about.
"Should we start the tour?" Mary Margaret asked brightly, beaming at all of them. She linked arms with Liam and led the party, rather strategically leaving Emma with Killian, who had started to look a bit put out by the attention she had paid his brother.
Mary Margaret was nothing if not strategic.
Emma was content to walk in silence, however, letting Mary Margaret chatter away about the notable parts of the camp, as well as the rules and daily schedules. They had both known when Chiron asked them to be tour guides that Mary Margaret would be doing all of the talking.
Killian Jones did not seem to have received that memo.
"Daughter of Zeus, huh?"
Emma looked at him quickly before refocusing on her friend's back. "Yeah. Poseidon, hm?"
Killian snorted and nodded. "Yeah. Not that that's helped me any. If anything, it seems to make our luck worse."
"I know the feeling," Emma said, kicking at a pinecone. "Being a demigod is bad enough with all the monsters that chase after us, but a child of one of the Big Three seems to be an even bigger target. I'd have been dead a long time ago if it wasn't for my friends and Chiron."
"Chiron?" Killian asked, frowning. For the first time, it occurred to Emma that maybe he was just as clueless as she had been upon arriving at Camp Half-Blood, even if he already knew who his godly parent was.
"He's the camp activities director," Emma said. "Between you and me, though, he's basically everyone's dad."
Killian raised his eyebrows at that and laughed. Mary Margaret glanced back at the two of them over her shoulder before smiling and continuing to talk to Liam about their weapons training program.
"You two will be in Cabin Three," Mary Margaret said, pointing to their new home. Low to the ground and solid, the cabin for children of Poseidon faced the sea, and looked exactly what Emma pictured a beach house might be like. "My cabin is just a few doors down, and Emma's practically right next door if you ever need anything."
The word volun-told came to mind as Emma realized her job as a guide extended beyond showing campers around. Not that she cared, really - the Jones brothers were nice - but it would have been nice if Chiron (or Mary Margaret) had asked first.
"A bit ostentatious, isn't it?" Killian remarked, and it took a moment for Emma to figure out that he wasn't talking about Cabin Three, but rather Cabin One.
"Gods, I know," Emma muttered. "It's ridiculously big, too, considering how I'm the only one living there."
"Must be lonely," Killian said, and Emma snapped her head to look at him, but he didn't seem to be mocking her. Quite the opposite, actually. There was understanding and empathy in his voice, and Emma found herself wondering not only how Killian and Liam had lived so long outside of Camp Half-Blood, but where they had been since Poseidon had claimed them.
Emma shrugged, carefully keeping her tone neutral. "It can be, but the rest of the camp is so lively I've stopped noticing."
"I can see that," Killian said, laughing as several arguments amongst other campers got loud enough to reach their little group. "Or, rather, hear that."
Emma smirked and hastened her pace to catch up to Mary Margaret and Liam. "You get used to it."
"How long have you been at Camp Half-Blood?" Killian asked, his hands shoved into the pockets of his hoodie. Emma eyed the sweatshirt with distaste - it was the middle of July, and this guy was bundling up? Weird.
"This is my second summer." Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, and Emma nearly had her dagger drawn before she realized it was just Henry waving at her. She grinned and waved back, mouthing 'I'll tell you later' at his curious intake of the Jones brothers.
"Oh, that's Henry. He's one of the younger campers. He's in the Iris cabin."
"One of the younger campers? What's the oldest a demigod gets to be here?"
Emma frowned. "In the past, campers usually left by the time they were eighteen because they felt their training prepared them go out and try to blend into the mortal world. That was also why we had a track record for dying at the ripe old age of twenty," Emma added, rolling her eyes. "Nowadays campers are encouraged to take up permanent positions here as tutors or directors, but a lot of them still leave. I think the oldest camper we have right now is Regina, who's maybe twenty two by now, but that's just because she knows the most about using the magic that Hecate's children inherit, and she sticks around to teach the younger ones how to use it somewhat responsibly."
"What fun is magic if you have to use it responsibly?"
A laugh is drawn out of Emma, almost against her will, at the sheer incredulity in Killian's voice. "That's what I said."
As they concluded their tour in the heart of the camp, meaning to give Liam and Killian time to unpack and get their wits about them, Emma couldn't help but notice all of the stares their group seemed to be attracting. A glare from her worked as a deterrent for the weaker-willed of their onlookers, but a crowd had still gathered by the time Mary Margaret came to a stop. The brunette pretended to ignore the hushed whispers of their fellow campers, continuing to talk to the Jones' in a cheery voice.
"Dinner is in a couple hours, and we have a fire pit to make offerings to all the gods, of course. We throw in meat, fruit, vegetables, the works, you know, and occasionally eavesdropping teenagers who are too nosy for their own good," Mary Margaret finished brightly with a pointed glance at every person in the crowd. Emma snorted at the stricken looks that appeared on their faces - sweet as Mary Margaret could be, people often forgot she was a force to be reckoned with. Not that she was even remotely serious about tossing campers into a fire.
"I'll remember never to underestimate you, love," Killian said, outright laughing as the people who had been staring at them scattered.
Liam grinned and clapped his brother on the back. "Let that be a lesson to you, little brother. Never judge based on appearances."
"Younger brother," Killian corrected with the weariness of an age old point of contention.
"Not that either of us could be considered young anymore," Liam said, his mouth turning up in a smirk.
Emma looked from one brother to the other quickly. With the same spark of mischief in their ridiculously blue eyes, the resemblance between them was striking.
"What do you mean?" Emma asked warily. She had pegged Killian to be around her age, with Liam just a few years their senior, but the way they were talking made it seem as though they were older than their appearances might indicate.
"You see, Swan, my brother and I had the misfortune of succumbing to the charms of the Lotus Casino a few years back. At least, what seemed like a few years back," Killian said, purposefully keeping his sentences vague. Emma had to resist the sudden urge to kick him in the shin.
"Yeah, Chiron told us all about your guys' time in the Lotus Hotel. He just never mentioned how much time," Emma replied, narrowing her eyes at Killian. "Get to the point."
Killian clucked his tongue in an attempt to appear chastising. "Patience is a virtue, Swan. One you'd do well to learn."
Emma turned her back to him without so much as a second thought and appealed to Liam instead. Of the two, he did seem to be the more reasonable brother. "Well?" Emma prompted, her eyebrows raised expectantly.
"We were trapped there for nearly fifty years," Liam offered, amusement evident as he watched Killian sulk at the sudden lack of Emma's attention.
"Fifty years?" Emma and Mary Margaret repeated in unison. For two teenage boys who were technically supposed to be fifty, Emma had to admit they were still pretty attractive.
"Aye," Killian confirmed, and if Emma didn't know any better, she'd say he was trying to keep from laughing at them.
She did know better.
"You're fifty years old," Emma said, trying to reconcile with the fact that the boys with matching devilish smirks in front of her technically belonged in the 1950s. "You're both fifty years old."
"If you wish to get into the semantics, love, I'd actually be sixty six, and Liam would be just over seventy," Killian reminded her helpfully, flashing her an unapologetic grin.
"And I thought my life was weird," Emma scoffed.
"Darling, the things the two of us could tell you," Killian drawled as Liam chuckled.
Emma didn't want to know.
Okay, she really, really wanted to know, but that was beside the point.
As Mary Margaret reminded the boys to not be late to dinner, Emma could only think that it'd be nice having people around who could understand what it was like to be recognized for your father and not your own person for a change. She had said it about her first summer at Camp Half-Blood, and Zeus knows she'd end up saying it again, but Emma had a feeling this was going to be her favorite year yet.
(And no, it had nothing to do with Killian and his goofy grin and bright blue eyes, thank you very much, even if the slight flush to Emma's cheeks when the boy in question smiled at her from across the mess hall said otherwise.)
A/N: For those of you wondering if Percy and the gang will be making an appearance in this story, the answer is, sadly, no. For the purpose of recycling their quests and prophecies to fit the storyline, I can't feature them in the story, as much as I'd love to. As always, let me know what you think about this chapter in a much appreciated review!