-1Hi, everyone. Well, I recently got into COTT close to the beginning of summer, and I have to say it is my favorite show on television at the moment. For reference, this story will be placed in the first person point of view, so as not to confuse any readers. Thanks.

Disclaimer: I do not own COTT. Brad Goodchild and Chris Bartleman would sue!!!

Chapter 1

Oh. My. God! I hate math! Why did the Romans invent such an annoying system? Oh, yeah, 'cause without it, the worlds economy wouldn't exist. Also, money probably wouldn't have evolved passed weight value. But seriously! I could care less how high a ball is going to bounce if I throw it off the Empire State Building. If I ever were to care for something like that, and if I, Zeus forbid, climb to the room of said building to test out this lame question, remind me to chuck myself off the roof instead. Growling in exasperation, I stare down at my homework. I have to blink a few times to clear my vision. The numbers are beginning to morph together, and I think they're laughing at me.

Agitated beyond belief, I toss my pencil onto my desk and lean back in my chair to stare at the ceiling. Not exactly the most interesting of things to look at, but it's better than the alternative. Actually becoming quite comfy, I close my eyes and rest my feet on the edge of my work desk. The golden brace on my right leg knocks against the wood, but I ignore it as I lay thinking about my day. Actually I'm mainly thinking about lunch, when I took a walk with a certain red haired beauty.

Ah, you know who I mean. If you don't, go back to your rock and stay there! Atlanta, descendant of Atalanta to runner. I'm not really sure why I feel the way I do; love really is confusing! I think it's awesome that she enjoys all the same things I do, like running, boarding and the like. I've never felt this way about anyone before, and I don't know what I should do. I would die to be able to just go ahead and say that I love her, but what if she doesn't feel the same way? If I did come out and said that she meant the world to me, would it ruin our friendship, and ultimately draw a line through our team? That would, quite literally, be the end of the planet as I know it.

Now, you may be getting a bit confused by now. Well, let me shine some light on the situation. You have been listening in to ARTF radio, Archie's Random Thoughts and Feelings. It's the beginning of March, and the start of Spring. We defeated Cronus at his own game, going back in time and sending him away to prison once more. Zeus said that he did eventually escape, but I don't know. We haven't heard a lot from him lately, not since the New Year celebration, anyway. Not like him is it? Anyway, screw Cronus. Now to the weather! It's a beautiful sunny day today, about 26 degrees Celsius with a light breeze, and I finally got to see Atlanta in a skirt! Of course she complained about it all day, since, I guess, running in a skirt isn't the easiest thing in the world, but Boo yeah! How did this come to be, you might ask? Instead of her usual khakis, Theresa had managed to persuade her into wearing something…lighter. Just imagine this! Atlanta in a white, sleeveless tank top, and a short beige skirt. God, she looked beautiful! So, needless to say, I made her take a walk with me through the park during our lunch break, and that light breeze I was talking about? It became my best friend when it picked up and I got to see a bit more leg than usual. Thanks Theresa! Thanks Aeolus! I owe you both big time!

Smiling at the thought, I lean back a bit too far. The legs of the chair give way, and I fall flat on my back.

"Ow!" That's my head making acquaintances with the floor. Yeah, take it like a man, Arch. My head now throbbing, I have a very good view of the roof. Man does it need a paint job. A shadow flies across my vision suddenly, and my attention is brought to the window on my left. Nothing. Must have been a bird or something. Well, the sun is still pretty high in the sky, which means that Atlanta is outside…in the breeze…with a skirt that barely touches her knees…hey, I rhymed! Damn. Damn homework. Damn hormones. Now can someone tell me why am I still on the floor…?

A quick rap on my door breaks me out of my reverie. "Come in."

Well, hey there mythology fans, it's Jay. He's like a walking Greek encyclopedia, isn't he? You never know when he's going to spout some random tragedy. Seriously! And that's not all he spouts. He once told me that the national anthem of Greece has 158 verses to it. It's true too; I looked it up.

At the moment though, he's giving me a weird look as I look up at him, beginning to feel a tad embarrassed. I think one of my throwing stars is poking me in the butt.

"So," he manages to say around a chuckle, "I heard a noise coming from in here and I was wondering if everything was ok."

You mean you came all the way from next door to check on my physical wellbeing? Ah, what a guy. Probably looking pathetic beyond belief, I nod. "Yup. I'm good."

Another look. This time he just looks plain amused. "Alright then. Hey, Herry and I are going to get a bite to eat. Want to come?"

Does a person enjoy a snakebite? Wait, I don't think that was a rhetorical question. Sometimes I think surgery would be less painful than watching that guy eat. I guess I must have spoken my thoughts because Jay's started laughing. Either that, or it was due to the disgusted look on my face.

"What about the others?" I ask. I fear for anyone who has to watch Herry in action. Once he gets going, believe me! It is not pretty.

"Odie took the hover jet to go visit Calypso, Theresa and Atlanta went shopping, and Neil, being Neil, has himself locked away in the bathroom."

"Damn."

Jay looks at me with an odd look. "I'm sorry?"

Oh, did I say that aloud? Now, see, therein lies the problem. My inner rants sometimes have this nasty way of coming out of my mouth before I have time to stop them, and it has left me in some very weird and awkward situations in the past. My main thought was that with Atlanta at the mall, she then, of course, isn't here. Without being here, I can't ask if she wants to go for another walk. Yeah…she should wear skirts more often, even if everyone almost had a heart attack seeing her in it in the first place. Now what was I doing? Oh yeah, Jay was talking to me.

Shaking my head, I finally pick myself and my chair up from the carpet. Setting it upright, I take a seat. "Oh, nothing." I reply. "I was just…thinking of something."

Oh, there's 'the look'. You know that glance he gives people when he knows their lying? Yeah, that one. He can read us all like novels, I swear. Maybe it's because he knows I like Atlanta, or he finds my situation funny, but I thinks he's seen through me. Hey, Jay! Stop looking at me! It's freaking me out!

Finally averting his eyes, and trying to hide a smirk, he changes the subject back to fast food. Thanks buddy. "So then I take it you don't want to come along?"

"No, thanks. I have homework to get through." I had almost forgotten the reason for being cooped up in here. Thinking about those mocking numbers is pissing me off. If Odie were here, he could help me out…or I could pay him to do it for me. Oh, the decisions one must make.

"Suit yourself." Suddenly Jay's PMR beeps, and seconds later Herry's voice rings through it loud and clear.

"Buddy, you coming or not? I'm starving!"

Actually, that was very loud! Sometimes the guy doesn't know the meaning of an 'indoor voice'. Then again, he's probably already in his truck. With a sigh, Jay grabs the small blue device from his belt, flips it open and replies, "Be down in a minute!" He then starts hitting a few buttons, no doubt trying to find the cause of the volume problem. You poor naïve fool. After a minute, he clips it back on his jeans, and with a sigh he leaves, disappearing around the corner with a wave and a 'Later'.

Perking my ears, I hear the front door open and close, then the tell-tale muffled voices float up to my ears from outside. I sigh. Alone again. Well, as alone as one can get in a building full of kids. Spinning in my chair, anything to distract me from my homework, I decide to give it a rest for the day. It isn't due for a few days anyway.

Deciding to get outside while It's still light out, I glance around my room for my board. It's pretty plain in here! It had already been painted and whatnot by the time I got here, but you think they could make it a tad less boring. White walls…and that was it. I felt like I was in a hospital! They're now covered with posters, but it's still a bit bland. Enough of that though. Glancing at the corner I usually keep my board, it's nowhere to be seen. Crap! Jumping from my chair, I drop to the ground and search under my bed. Hey, so that's where that shirt went to! Flinging said item over my shoulder, I continue rummaging. Not finding it under my bed, I begin to search the closet. Nothing. Looking at my floor, and scratching my head, I try and think where the hell it could have gone.

Exiting my room, I walk down the hall. I probably left it in the living room or something. Passing the washroom on the way, I hear a muffled rendition of 'Sweet Caroline' coming from inside. All I can do is roll my eyes. Don't get me wrong; the guy can hit those high notes. It's having to hear them for hours at a time that drives a person nuts! Neil once drove us all out of the Brownstone, during a snowstorm, because he insisted on singing his own version of 'Deck the Halls'. I'll never look at turkey the same way again.

Upon entering the living room, I look around to find…nothing. Ok, now I'm getting mad. It's one thing to misplace your PMR, or in Neil's case lose it, but a skate board? At least Odie knows how to make a PMR. As if it could hear my thought, the tiny cell phone slash everything else gives a loud beep, scaring the crap out of me. Maybe these things do have a volume problem.

Fishing it out of my pocket, I toss myself onto the couch before answering. "Hello?"

"Archie!"

My mind immediately goes on high alert at the tone of Theresa's voice. It sounds urgent. "What is it? Is it Cronus?"

"…No…Do you need anything from the mall?"

Frickin…drama queen! Having the incredible urge to huck the small blue device across the room, I manage to contain myself. Somewhat.

"Would you not do that? Jeez! It sounded like you were being attacked! And no, I don't need anything!" Abruptly ending the conversation, I flip, the cover back, and shove it in my pocket. Alright, maybe I was a tad hasty, but come on! What if they had been attacked and needed help? Atlanta is with her, too. If anything were to happen to her…

Pissed beyond belief, I stalk back to my room and slam the door. I'll find my board later; Atlanta probably has it anyway. She's always stealing my stuff and hiding it away.

Throwing myself onto my bed, I try and curb my anger. Yeah, I have to admit, I think I need anger management or something. If emotions were inheritable, I'd blame it on Achilles. There is on person I can blame, though.

Looking over to my right, my eyes land on a framed photograph of my family sitting on my bedside table. My most precious possession. I can see all the odd looks of confusion on people I've told this in the past. You may find it sappy, cute, and you might even do the whole 'aww!' thing, but please don't. There's more to that simple photo than a seemingly happy family. In fact, it's a happy family no longer. It's one that will never be happy again.

Sitting up, I carefully pluck the small silver frame from its resting place. Sliding a hand over the images before me, I think of each of the people in turn. My mother's dark blue hair is shining in a way I'd never seen before, making a halo-like ring about her soft face. Blue eyes reflected the kindness in her smile. The nicest person you would ever meet, I swear! Pretty beyond words, as well. The best cook in the world too, in my own opinion. Tracing an invisible line over my own image, my finger lands on the tiny figure sitting in my lap, and I smile wide. My baby sister, Angela. Long purple hair, lighter than my own, with bright green, inquisitive eyes. Always the life of the party; spouting random phrases at even more random times.

That's where 'happy memory lane' ends and a potholed hell begins. Glancing into the top left corner of the picture, I quickly look away. The person in the back of the picture had had his face torn from the photo long ago, but I can still remember his features; I never want to look at that face ever again. It's because of him that my life is full of hatred and grief. He was the one who took everything from me, all in one night. All in a crazed drunken rage.

An image flashes before my eyes as I look at the picture; no, look through the picture. Dark black water everywhere, broken glass and pain. It quickly passes, but it leaves my drenched in a cold sweat, my breathing heavy. Quickly replacing the photo to it's original place on the little night stand, I run a hand across my face, then through my hair. Head in my hands, I have to wait until the nausea in my stomach passes. It finally does moments later, and not a second too soon. A knock at my door announces a visitor, and without waiting for an invitation, Neil saunters into my room.

"Dude," he states, grimacing, "you look like hell!"

Sighing, I try and regain as much of my composure as possible. "I'm just a bit tired." I lie. "What's up?"

"Everyone's been called down to the school." Neil states, as though it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Didn't you get the memo?"

I frown, my troubles supplanted with new ones. Grabbing my PMR from my pocket, I give it a once over. "No, I didn't. What's going on?"

"How should I know? Now come on, let's go! I want to be back in time to catch my program!" Walking over, he grabs my jacket, tugging me off my bed and out the door. Finally yanking away from him halfway down the hall, I try and walk slower than usual, just to spite him for walking into my room unannounced.

Walking outside into the gorgeous evening air, I'm not surprised to find Herry's truck parked and waiting just outside the Brownstone. Walking towards it, ignoring Neil's complaints, I feel an excitement in me I haven't felt in a while. A part of me is hoping that Cronus is the cause of the meeting so I can kick some butt. Just a little part, though.

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Like every writer, I want to know what you think. I'm still really trying to work out each of the characters personalities, so please work with me. Please read and review, and I'll update a.s.a.p. Thanks.

Clandestine Fire