Come Hel or High Water

The dead know everything.

But they don't give a damn.

Disclaimers

PJO belongs to Rick Riordan, the creator of this wonderful world. (This wonderful world being the PJO books.) Mallory, Lux, Warren, and everyone else belong to me – but you won't meet Lux or Warren yet. The English language belongs to whoever wrote it down first.

The flames belong to whoever sets the fires.

Dedicationy Thing

This story is dedicated in part to my Go the Distance friendlies (especially Storm – stop making me think about Norse demigods, dammit) and in part to my best friends Marissa and Kaye, who are pretty much the combination I based the character of Lux off of.

Not to mention the badass Lux from camp.

A Pre-Thing

For those of you who are put off by OC stories, this is the time to leave. All characters in this story are from my own head, although that makes me feel strangely like Zeus. For those of you who are put off by stories of demigods from other pantheons, this is the time to leave. Mallory and the other demigods are all Norse demigods, except for the few odd Egyptians and maybe an Indian or two. (Nope, all Norse. Har har har.) For those of you who are put off by my writing, then leave a flame and leave. I've got a couple fire extinguishers.

For those of you who are here to enjoy my writing, go on. And please leave a review with some constructive criticism.

-The Author


Before

If there was one thing I didn't have to do, this would be it.

"Dad, please. Please don't make me do this. Oh, God, Dad, don't make me do this, I seriously don't want to do this, please, Dad, please?"

"No."

"Whyyyyy?!"

"Dolores, you have to go to school—"

From my perch on the window-seat on the landing of the stairs, I could watch unnoticed as the little brunette on the story below stomped her foot and screeched childishly at the man standing before her. "Daaaad!" she was whining, her blue eyes – though I couldn't see them, I knew all her tricks that she used when she wanted something – filled with dramatic (and usually fake) tears. "All the kids laugh at me! They call me a freak just 'cause their brothers and sisters used to go to school with Mallory and she acted like a freak and then I had to go there too and so now I'm a freak and I don't like it! Dad! Make Mallory stop being a freak!"

"Don't call your sister a freak, Dolores…"

"Why not? It's true!"

"Even if she were a freak, I couldn't stop her."

"Why not? She's your daughter, right?"

The reply was tired, and from my vantage point I could see him press his knuckles to his temples as he spoke. "Yes, Dolores, Mallory is my daughter."

"Then you should have some control over her, right?" Dolores said triumphantly, in the tone she always used when she had gotten her way and she knew it.

"It doesn't work that way."

"Why not!?"

"Listen, Dolores, your sister's going through a pretty tough time right now. You know Alyssa just had that move to Europe – "

"And a stupid move, too!" My sister's voice was pitched lower now, in her "I-am-going-to-act-like-an-adult-now" voice. "Couldn't Alyssa's parents just have taught math to poverty-stricken Americans instead of, like, Germans or whatever?"

My father – tall man, dark hair, green eyes, doesn't care much about his appearance so I won't either – turned away from my little sister and began making for the kitchen, a basic way of saying "this conversation is over" without actually saying "this conversation is over," which would have just annoyed Dolores and made her talk in an even higher-pitched tone – not to mention faster. Of course, the ten-year-old airhead didn't catch on and followed him, jabbering constantly on not wanting to go to school the next day. Reluctantly, I uncurled my legs from their so-so-so-warm place under my body and swung them off of the seat, heading up the next flight of stairs to my little garret.

My sister's argument with my dad just made me blind to my movements, and frequently on my journey up the spiral staircase I would run directly into a wall. It wasn't fun.

My room was a little round place, about eight feet high – only two feet taller than I was, sadly enough, and I was still growing – and with warped, damp-spotted wallpaper covering the walls. My bed, which was a four-poster swathed with dark purple curtains and whatever else I decided to hang on it, sat next to the only window, and it was this to which I went. I sprang forward; it was barely ten steps from my door to the bed, and so it was with ease that I did a belly-flopping bounce through the curtains and onto the mattress.

But. No time to play. I shuffled onto my knees and scooted forward, throwing the curtains out of my way and shoving the old-fashioned window shutters open. The cold December breeze blew onto my face but, undaunted, I thrust my head and shoulders through the window and looked down.

My tower-garret-thing was far above the rest of our mansion-like property; the highest room in the house, my dad liked to tell me. I closed my eyes and tilted my face up to the overcast sky, breathing the cold wind deeply and evenly. A spatter of rain was due later, I recalled from the weather forecast earlier; but maybe I could get to Lux's house before the rain really started coming in –

A splatter of wet struck my face, and I opened my eyes. The clouds had become darker and gathered about the sun. I scowled.

If it wasn't my sister, it was the rain.

Ruining my fun.

Of course, I reflected, as I drew back into my room and regretfully closed the shutters, the rain didn't always ruin my fun. I'd spent many a night reading by candlelight – the old tower-garret-thing didn't have electricity, much to my great chagrin – while the typical Seattle rain pounded on my well-slated roof. Dolores never wanted to come up to my room while the rain was going on; she never wanted to come up to my room, period, which was fine with me. But especially not when it was raining. The slates did some sort of weird reverberation thing that sounded somewhat like a large, violent drummer.

I, of course, liked it.

I've always been freakish that way.

Suddenly a flash of white caught my eye; as I jerked around, the flash became a pale face, framed with dark hair, glaring at me through venomous purple-red eyes lined with black bags. I yelped, falling backwards off of my bed and smacking my head against the wall. Tears came to my eyes, but I wiped them away. The momentary terror that had gripped me melted away, and my abruptly-racing heart began to slow.

Slowly, I crawled back up onto my bed, and the face confronted me again. This time, though, it didn't seem quite so threatening; the evil visage had become that of a girl, roughly sixteen, with almost milk-white skin and black, bone-straight hair that fell to about her elbows. Her violet eyes, wine-colored at first, then changing to a dark cherry as she shifted her weight, stared sadly back at me, framed by bags below and dark eyebrows above. I tilted my head. She tilted her head.

I exhaled slowly and crawled off the bed, moving unsteadily towards the mirror. "God, Mallory," I whispered, the sound somehow filling me with relief. "You really need to stop being afraid of your own reflection."

I reached forward and straightened the mirror unnecessarily – it was already straight as a board – and stepped back, critically examining a snarl in my hair. "Stupid… hair," I muttered, somehow glad nobody was there to hear my immature ramblings. "Why can't it just stay straight? Stupid hair. Stupid stupidity. Stupid… me for saying the word stupid so much."

Finally realizing I was talking to myself, I sighed and turned back to the mirror.

"You, my friend," I said firmly, jabbing my finger at my own reflection, "are not a ghost thing. You are me. You are Mallory Kate Moore. You are sixteen years old. You do not have a boyfriend and you are sadly lacking of friends except for Lux and until recently Alyssa, but Alyssa moved to France so her parents could teach English there, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…"

I trailed off and stuck my tongue out. My reflection mirrored the motion, her eyes shifting back into a violet hue.

"Stop freaking changing eye colors," I huffed, exasperated, and without another word I turned around and picked up a matchbox. The sound of the rain increased as, with some trepidation, I struck a match and put it to the first candle wick.

The warm glow from the candle calmed me down, and almost placidly I took the first candle around, lighting up all the others. By the time all the candles were lit, the rain was practically roaring outside and on the roof, and I knew I wouldn't be disturbed.

I took my heavy book of Narnian Chronicles out from under my bed, and clambered up onto my bed. The false-fur blankets surrounding me were warm, shutting out the chill of December that the room always let in. The candles lit the room with a soft, buttery light that made me think of winter fires and summer bonfires at the beach and toast in the morning when it was too cold for cereal…

I touched my finger to the Calormenes on the front cover of the Chronicles, and then with a quick flip of my wrist, I opened my book and began to read.