"Alright, bye girls, take care and try not to kill the demigods." I said bidding them all a goodbye, wearing a white robe over my normal uniform, a volley of arrows packed and ready and my bow strapped to my back.
"No promises there Lady Artemis, but we'll try." Alex said grinning. I laughed and looked to the rest of the Huntresses. It was always difficult for me to part with them, but I know they are more than capable of handling themselves. The problem with leaving them alone is the chance that one of them might fall for a demigod, but they all seem to be very committed to the no-guys policy.
"Artemis, do we really have to leave this early?' drawled a sleepy Percy, rubbing his eye and crawling out from his tent. He had a white drawstring bag slung over his back, a blue, fitted V-neck, black shorts, and white Nikes.
"Yes you bum. And do you really plan on going into battle dressed like that? It seems more like you're going to a basketball game than to fight monsters."
"Hey, atleast I'll blend in. We can't go roaming around like we're from some Greek- costume- convention. Any enemy who sees you will be sure to know who you are."
"Do I look like an imbecile to you? I'll be in disguise as a twelve-year-old like I always am. And what makes you think they won't recognize you?" Looking him over again I noticed his hair was a complete, bed-head mess. It was cute but I didn't need him looking any more attractive and distracting me. Those were the main reasons why I wanted him to wear armor and perhaps a helmet instead. "Fix your hair; a bird will fly in it at any moment and make it a nest."
"I won't be recognized because I'm a new god that hasn't really met any land monsters and only battled sea ones by Poseidon's palace." He reached a hand up to his hair then looked at me smirking then cooed, "What's the magic word Lady Artemis?" I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose.
"You can be so damn difficult. Normally I wouldn't listen to orders from someone else, you would have been dead. But since your hair is really getting on my nerves, please fix your hair." I choked a bit on the word. It was as hard as saying sorry. Percy grinned victoriously and combed his hair with his fingers when Thalia, Christy, and Elisabeth walked out from the trees, the three huntresses I decided to take with us.
"Aw, their already bickering like a married couple." Elisabeth gushed to Christy who giggled. Giving them a warning glare I turned back to the girls who were holding in little laughs of their own.
"Anyhow, I'm sorry you all have to go there with Apollo, but as annoying as he can be, he will keep you safe." Right then, a bright light flashed in the sky and landed on the cliff side where we were standing then dimmed down into the shape of a golden bus with a sun imprinted on the side. Speak of the devil. Out popped a grinning Apollo, throwing off an imaginary hat.
"All aboard!" He called then jumped down and walked over to me. "Good mornin' sis, don't worry about the girls I'll take good care of them." Then leaning down close to me and nudging me he whispered, "And you'll take care of Percy now won't you?" With a scowl I flicked his forehead hard to hear a satisfying, "Ouch!" and walked away to the silver chariot. It shined in the light, a glint of sunlight reflecting off the golden horns of the four deer, saddled up in silver bridles. It always fills me with pride to see my beautiful chariot.
"You know the rules brother, no talking, touching, or even looking at my huntresses. You silently go to drop them off and be on your way to do whatever foolery you do. That being said let us depart." Thalia sat down in the seat next to me while Percy, Elisabeth, and Christy plopped down in the back. With a final wave to the girls, we were pulled off into the skies.
After the first few minutes, I found myself asleep again. Normally I wasn't this tired but it wasn't easy to sleep with all the thoughts and questions regarding Artemis swirling around in my head. It felt like I was asleep for no more than two seconds when I felt a small but painful pinch on my arm and shot up awake.
"I told you pinching him would wake him up right away." Christy said while I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, yawning.
"I'm pretty sure slapping him would have worked too." Thalia said from the front. "But I don't think slapping a god would be a smart idea." Artemis turned back at me, looking like she was trying not to laugh.
"Hello there, sleeping beauty. You're not the easiest person to wake up. Screaming at you didn't work, and I don't even know why we tried water. But good you're awake; we're almost at our first stop in Chicago." I nodded then noticed that all of them were looking at me biting their lips and smiling.
"What? Is there something on my face?" The huntresses guffawed while Artemis shook her head and softly chuckled, handing me a mirror and a towel. I looked at myself in the mirror to see glasses painted around my eyes, cat whiskers, and a kitten nose as well as 'Seaweed Brain' written on my cheek in cursive.
"The girls wanted to make use of some of the paint we had left over from helping Athena remodel." She said as though it was a completely normal thing to do. I shook my head and wiped off the paint without complaint.
"Atleast you painted nothing dirty on my face like Grover did that one time."
"What did he-"
"Oh look we're here!" I interrupted Thalia before she could finish the question which I didn't plan on answering. The chariot came to a gentle stop at the roof of an apartment building and I jumped out before being questioned further. Walking over to the edge, I looked down and noticed we were in downtown Chicago.
Artemis appeared to my side as a twelve-year-old and jumped down to the ground in the alley with the others right behind her. They were all as silent as leaves, like stealthy, hunting ninjas. I on the other hand, just slid down a trail of water.
We walked for a long while, blending in with the people, but not completely. I would blame myself for that. As a god, you often forget how much your looks attract attention even with the help of the Mist making you look like an ordinary human. So it was kind of difficult to be undercover when a girl, and even gay men, walked up to me every few minutes and asked if I was single or for my number.
Eventually, it aggravated Artemis so much that she hid in an alleyway and appeared transformed into her older form, but dressed as any normal person would, checkered slip-ons, ripped skinny jeans, and a red flannel shirt. Too put it lightly, she looked stunningly gorgeous as always. When she came back out like this and started walking next to me a bit closer, I tried to hold in a snicker but failed.
"What's so funny?" She asked calmly, in her usual indifferent tone.
"Nothing… nothing at all."
"You can't just be laughing without a reason Percy."
"Ah, well just never took you as much of the jealous type, you know?" Christy and Elisabeth quietly laughed to themselves and Thalia turned back around giving Artemis a smug look. It was hard to see because she was suppressing it, but I could swear that Artemis was blushing.
"That's absurd. I simply don't want our cover to be blown by you. It has nothing to do with personal feelings whatsoever."
"Alright, whatever you say." She was about to say something when a guy waltzed up next to her, not a bad looking person either but he had a mischievous grin that made my quickly growing temper rise even faster.
Then, he casually threw his arm around her shoulder like he owned her and said, "Hey there babe, are you dating that pretty boy over there? I hope the answer is no because-" before he could finish I punched him square in the face, making him fly through the air into the glass window of a store. I honestly don't know where the anger came from because I'm normally not like that, but I just felt like I had to protect Artemis, even though out of all the women I know, she would be one that needed the least protecting. Besides, she looked like she was about to stab him with a knife and was actually reaching for it in her pant pocket, so it was better that I got to him before she did.
I had to grab Artemis's hand and push the huntresses onwards to keep them from murdering the guy, but as I looked back at the scene, I spotted a woman helping him up. They both looked at me, smiling slyly and I could have sworn their faces morphed slowly into that of Aphrodite and Hermes.
"Hey Percy," Thalia called throwing me out of my trance from staring at them. "I didn't know you were the jealous type either." She joked as Artemis laughed softly.
"Ha-ha very funny." I stuck my tongue out at her like the kid I can be sometimes then looked down realizing something. I was still holding Artemis's hand and she wasn't moving away. It felt so right to me and sent my heart soaring. Hoping that she wouldn't notice, I didn't let go. Considering that she wasn't trying to get away meant she didn't notice or felt the same way. I liked to believe the second option though. Hey, who knows? Maybe one day I'll get the courage to tell her that I'm falling for her more and more each day… into what is probably… love.
"There's no way any monster would be here and not get caught with so many people around unless it could disguise as a human and control its hunger." Christy stated, brushing a strand of her shortly chopped, chestnut- colored hair out of her face. We had arrived at a place called Navy Pier. It was flooded with people walking about, taking pictures, boarding the tour ships to the right or eating at the many restaurants to the left. A giant Ferris wheel upstairs loomed over everything from where the amusement rides were, as well as an enormous glass building
"Indeed, I don't even know where to start from here."
"I know, let's start at Mc Donald's!" Percy exclaimed walking over to the giant M sign on the left before I grabbed him by the collar of his shirt.
"Look, I know you must be hungry but we take care of this first, then we eat. Now, as far as I know, the monster is a Basilisk, king of serpents, very venomous and kills with a glance if you look into his eyes."
"Oh, alright so to kill him we just have him look at his own reflection, like Medusa. The small mirror we have probably won't do a thing though." Elisabeth figured.
"Precisely, the only problem now is to find him."
"Hey Artemis," I looked over at Percy who seemed like he was pondering something. "How come we don't just search for the cause of all the monsters popping up? Meanwhile some demigods could take care of the beasts"
"Demigods are actually out killing majority of the monsters. Camp Half-Blood is probably almost empty by now with most of them gone. The Hunt probably joined them too. We just have to take a few of the creatures that are too much for them to handle. Normally a Basilisk wouldn't be a problem, but over the centuries it has become more cunning and knows to avoid things that obviously cast a reflection."
"Well then why don't we go upstairs?" Thalia suggested who was just walking back from the direction of the booth which sold tickets for the boats. "From there we can see the whole pier so it won't be hard to catch a giant beast roaming around." Taking her words, we walked up the stairs to the top deck then stood over the railing, staring down at all the people wandering about, watching street performers, and just having a good time. The girls soon left, deciding to spread out, leaving Percy and I alone. I looked down to our entwined fingers, I knew we were holding hands the whole time but I didn't want to let go.
Biting my lower lip I quickly jumped onto the railing, sliding my hand out of his, and sat there, overlooking the ocean. Don't get me wrong though, it's not that I don't like him… I surprisingly really enjoyed it. Actually, it felt like our hands were meant to be together. It was as though the spaces between my fingers were meant for his to be in.
The reason I actually let go was because it would make my feelings for him grow even more than they already had. I know that I can't let myself love someone, but it was still happening and there was nothing I could do about it, so it seems. And I'm positive that if Percy ever admitted that he somehow loves me, I wouldn't be able to hide the fact that I do as well.
All I could think of was burying my emotions so deep, locking them away so far down into my heart that they never cross my mind. I've been doing the technique ever since the day I met him, but now it was becoming a problem because the desire I have for him is growing stronger every second. And just the thought of being in a relationship… it scares me. There's the chance of heartbreak even though I know he would never do anything of the sort.
"What are you thinking about?" Percy said suddenly, throwing away my thoughts.
"Oh, just wondering where that creature might be." I lied. He leaned back to look at me.
"Not being able to find it must be bothering you a lot by the looks of it."
"Uh yeah, it is."
"Are you sure that's what-" He was interrupted by Thalia who had returned (at the right time I may add), pointing to the giant all-glass building behind us, the Crystal Gardens. Following her inside, I took a glance around.
It was a room full of plants and ponds, squirting out water, creating a pattern in midair. The afternoon sun streamed inside from the top upon the stone floors. Besides us, there were only two other people, an elderly couple sitting on a bench under a tree, but looking higher up into this tree I noticed the target of our mission wrapped around the trunk.
It wasn't a very attractive monster that was for sure, it had the body of a lizard, with the tail of a snake, and the head of a rooster with large, scaly wings. It hadn't noticed our presence yet since it was too preoccupied staring down at the oblivious couple, its next meal.
I realized Percy had disappeared from my side but when I looked back to the beast, Percy was there talking to the elders. He gently toke the hands of the two and lead them towards the door. "Yes, yes we're incredibly sorry," I heard him say, "but there seems to be a um… pest infestation here. You can come back as soon as we fumigate the place. Meanwhile, there's this nice fountain right outside the pier, go have a look."
"Well, alright young man but where exactly is- oh my lord, a snake!" The woman screamed, grabbing her husband's hand and pulling him out. Percy and I turned back around to see what they thought was a snake was the Basilisk slithering down the tree. Acting on reflex, I transformed to Hunter form and shot a volley of arrows at it, hitting the nape of his neck, but it had no effect besides making it angrier as it turned to me. Christy shot at it from where she stood on the giant metal bars that made an X on every window of the building, causing it to go towards her.
"Damn, I forgot. The only thing that can kill that thing is itself." I muttered to myself, glancing back at the scene. Now, Thalia, Christy, Elisabeth and Percy were each shooting at it from different angles, making it go after one, then the other as they scurried around, using the plants as cover. Percy was becoming a somewhat better shot. Some arrows were still nowhere near close to the objective though.
I spotted Thalia firing an arrow from behind a moss- covered plant when an idea hit me. "Thalia, keep his attention focused on you! When he gets close enough shine Aegis in his face!" Nodding at the order, she stayed where she was for a few seconds as the beast slithered to her at a rapid pace. When it was about twenty feet away, she tapped her charm bracelet causing her shield to come out.
She reflected the light from Aegis in its face, but by the very sight of Medusa's face he flew up into the air in fear, releasing a horrible screech. But he didn't get to catch sight of his own face because he spotted the shield for a second and looked away, avoiding it.
"Oh Gods the fact that Aegis is too frightening for him to look at for more than a measly second means that this won't work . We need a different approach…" With that thought, I swiftly jumped into the tallest tree and attacked the monster with arrows repeatedly as I leaped through the air from tree to tree to buy some time.
"Artemis, I have an idea!" Percy called from below, standing by the entrance, in between four circular cages that squirt water in different directions, creating a square around him. "Guide him over here!" Taking his advice, I landed behind Percy. The beast turned to us and landed onto the ground slithering in our direction. It was approaching us quickly… 10 feet away… 9… 8…7…6…
"Percy what are you waiting for?" By the time I said that, the Basilisk was baring its fangs and closing in the small distance left. At that moment, Percy raised his arms, water bursting out from all four of the cages and created a sort of water-made mirror shape in front of us. Percy positioned it in a way that when the Basilisk stopped to look at it, his face was shown to him like looking at yourself in a pond or lake. Instantly, it disintegrated into black ash then even that disappeared, seeping through the cracks in the stone.
"Wow Percy smart thinking." Elisabeth commented while walking towards Christy and holding out her hand.
"That it was. Looks like you win Elisabeth." Christy sighed, dropping a few golden drachmas into her hand. "Percy isn't as stupid as all other men." I laughed as I changed back into my disguise clothes in a flash of light.
"I don't know whether to feel happy or insulted…" Percy said as we walked back out. The sun was setting, casting a peaceful glow over the water.
"Let's go with the first option shall we?" Christy said innocently. We decided to spend more time here and watched a public magic show, played a few carnival games, and ate at Mc Donald's, and just played around in the fountain in front of the pier until around 8:40.
"Alright girls, should we leave now?" I suggested, rather exhausted.
"Lady Artemis, would you mind if Elisabeth, Christy and I went on a few rides first?" Thalia asked. I was about to object since we still had things to take care of and already had a long day but thought against it. They deserved a little free time, so I nodded and watched them run off.
"So…" Percy said awkwardly to fill in the silence that had been caused by the realization that we were left alone. "I think I have an idea of what we should do next."
"What's this idea of yours?" Artemis asked curiously, following me back to where we started this day. Glancing to the right, I saw that we were just on time, the boat was being boarded.
"Oh, you'll see." I clenched the two tickets in my hand, remembering the short conversation I had with Thalia when we first arrived.
She had just walked back from the ticket booth. Sliding past me to Artemis's side, she slipped two tickets into my hand. 'Well then, why don't we go upstairs? From there we can see the whole pier so it won't be hard to catch a giant beast roaming around.' Artemis followed her advice and as we were walking, Thalia and I drifted behind the other three.
'What's this for?' I questioned, holding out the tickets.
'They have a fireworks cruise today at 8:45. I suggest you go with you-know who.'
'Why? I mean, it's not that I don't want to, but I don't think she wants to be alone with me.'
'Trust me, she likes spending time with you. Everyone can tell by the way her personality changes and her face lightens up when you two are together. She hides it, but like I said, the Hunt knows her better than she knows herself.' I grinned at what she had told me, hoping it were true.
'No way, she really likes being with me?'
'No doubt in my mind. I recommend you tell her how you feel though.'
'And how do you think I feel about her?'
'Obviously in love with her, a blind person can see that.' I couldn't argue with her reasoning and decided that I might as well go along with it. Even though I was scared of what her reaction might be, it's better now than never right?
So here I am, trailing behind Artemis, covering her eyes and leading her onto the large ship, filled with other tourists and couples. The vessel rocked a bit back and forth with the waves of Lake Michigan.
"We're on a boat aren't we? I don't believe your father will appreciate a daughter of Zeus being on his turf." I took my hand away from her eyes and we stood together on the deck, leaning on the edge of the front of the ship.
"If your dad approved of me being in the skies with you when we were flying over here, I don't think mine would have a problem with you here as long as you're with me." She couldn't argue with my reasoning. We shared a long conversation about the other gods, laughed, joked, and just enjoyed each other's company for what seemed like a long time until Artemis finally asked the question I had been expecting.
"So, why are we here? And where is this boat taking us exactly?"
"Here it is everyone," The intercom blared, "the moment you've all been waiting for!" We had stopped in the middle of the lake, facing towards the city with the pier and a few other islands surrounding us. Instead of answering her question, I gently took her hand in mine, the warmth I felt from the simple touch spreading through me, and took her to the front of the ship with the best view.
A loud crack was heard in the air and out popped a beautiful, large neon blue firework, one after the other each just as magnificent as the next. I looked to my side to see Artemis's silver eyes glowing in the light, her smile the most spectacular sight I will ever see in my life. "Artemis," I whispered to her and she turned to face me, her eyes and gorgeous smile burning holes into my heart.
"Yes Percy?" She didn't say this in a wary tone, but much rather an anticipating one.
"I... I love you." I forced the words out then held her face in my hands and pulled her in for a sweet, gentle kiss, the fireworks exploding behind us. At first, she was stiff and I was scared she might pull away and slap me but eventually, she relaxed, stood on her toes, and wrapped her arms around my neck, deepening the kiss. Pulling away after what seemed like an eternity, I couldn't help but grin. "I don't know if you feel the same way about me, but I promise you, I swear on the River Styx, that I will never break your heart or do anything to hurt you so please-"
"Percy…" she said cutting me off and softly placing a hand on my cheek. "I love you too. I really can't fight the fact anymore." She beamed an angelic grin at me and we shared another kiss.
A/N: Because of my horrible updating pace I presented you all with this. The longest chapter I've ever written, and if I do say so myself, an amazing one. It took me a horribly long time to make it perfect because I wanted the last scene to be spectacular. I hope I succeeded. Let's see where this confession leads us… (And for people who like the Anime series Bleach, I have a Youruichi x Ichigo fanfic out now)