This little number was inspired by all of my friends in low places, telling me about their escapades across the country while living the vagabond (to put it nicely) lifestyle…but their stories were wildly inappropriate…
Okay, so based on my own calculations, going by publish dates of the books, I'm going to say that Thalia was born in 1987, so this story takes place in 1998. Possibly 1999, but I feel like that's pushing it. (It's really weird putting Thalia to a year, because that would put her at the same age as my older sister, who is also named Thalia, strangely enough…) I'm guessing Luke was born in maybe 1985, but I don't remember how much older he is than Thalia.
Anyway, it's a quick little oneshot with no point, really. I've never written Percy Jackson and the Olympians, so I'm still getting a handle on the characters…meh. It's a trial; let me know what you think of them.
It had been a good day so far, Thalia decided. She was in a new city, she was over two thousand miles from her mother, and she hadn't been attacked by any monsters trying to kill her yet, or even anyone that could called a 'monster' in the loosest sense of the word. Sure, it was winter in Michigan, and the wind whipped straight through her laughable winter coat, but at this point, the good outweighed the bad, and that qualified it as a good day. To top it off, someone had just told her about a Dirtbombs concert that night with some local band called The White Stripes—whoever they were—which she fully intended on sneaking into. Even the shifty-eyed addict who had talked at her for fifteen minutes about how cheap booze was in Austin, Texas and then started rapping couldn't put a damper on her day.
Hell, had she no dignity, she would have gone so far as to skip.
Now if only she could scrape together enough to get some food…
She wrapped her arms around herself and rubbed her hands over her arms, trying to heat herself up, but stopped quickly as the large burn on her arm stung at the friction. Goddamned monster, she thought angrily, gingerly picking at the sleeve of her jacket to keep it from rubbing the burn. The flimsy bandage she had wrapped around it wasn't doing the trick. Shivering again, she decided that her main priority was to get out of the wind and try to warm up, then get some food. No point in wasting energy on getting food if you were dying of hypothermia anyway.
She shifted her backpack on her shoulder and picked up her pace, eyes wandering around the busy street, looking for any place she could warm up in without getting kicked out, or having the cops called on her for loitering. Even with the cold weather, the residents of Detroit didn't stay indoors; Michigan Ave. was full of people, who didn't pay Thalia any mind. A few glanced her direction, but ultimately decided that she wasn't that interesting after all and carried on their way. She didn't mind their lack of attention. She was sick of people staring at her because of her appearance; her appearance that she couldn't do anything to change until she got settled down somewhere with at least a shower and a bucket of water to wash clothes in.
A few blocks down, she finally found a narrow alley. The entrance was blocked by a chain link fence, but that could easily be climbed. She let her bag drop from her shoulder into her hand and lobbed it over the fence. It landed with a loud, dull thud that echoed to the back of the alley. Then she forced the toe of her boot into the chain link, and pulled herself up, swinging her leg over the top. She hopped down and grabbed her backpack, retreating away from the opening where people could see her. She was lucky no one saw her scale the fence, and if they did, she was even luckier that they didn't care.
It was still snowing on her, but it was slightly warmer, the tall buildings blocking the winter wind. It wasn't until she reached the back that she noticed there was someone else there. The sole occupant, a blonde boy who looked only slightly older than Thalia, looked up from digging through his ratty, worn backpack. He briefly looked Thalia up and down, then quirked an eyebrow as he stood, a cigarette between his lips.
"Can I bum a cigarette?" Thalia asked casually. He smirked.
"Aren't you a bit young to be smoking?" He removed the cigarette from his mouth with two fingers to exhale a steady stream of smoke. Thalia glared.
"Aren't you a bit young to shut the hell up?" She ignored that her comeback made no sense.
"Touché." He responded with a grin, and placed the cigarette between his lips once more, freeing his hands. He reached into an inside breast pocket in his worn leather jacket and pulled out a beat up pack of cigarettes. He handed one to Thalia then fished a lighter out of his front pants pocket. Thalia leaned forward, the cigarette between her lips, and inhaled, the end flaring to life in the small flame from the lighter.
She leaned back against the cold brick wall and folded her arm over her chest, her other elbow resting on that arm. The boy mirrored her actions across from her as he dropped his lighter back into his pocket. She got the feeling he was mocking her.
Even after she turned her gaze to the side, to the busy street, she could feel his gaze boring into her; studying her, sizing her up.
"Got a problem?" She snapped after a few moments, not able to take the irritating scrutiny any longer.
"How old are you?" He inquired, his eyes narrowed as he examined her face.
"Older than I look." She responded shortly. Well, that was a lie. The dark eyeliner she had stopped to apply in a dingy gas station bathroom—if you could call that disease infested hole a bathroom—actually made her look a few years older.
"Sure you are." He snorted. "I'm Luke." He leaned forward again, hand outstretched. He had a mischievous glint in his eye that Thalia didn't quite trust. She paused, then put the cigarette back in her lips to shake his hand.
"Tha-li-a. Jesus, do I have to spell it out for you?"
Luke raised an eyebrow, amusement dancing across his handsome features; well, they would be handsome someday, now they were just cute. Really cute, Thalia noted.
"You new in town? I haven't seen you around before." Thalia rolled her eyes.
"And you know everyone in Detroit?"
"I knew most of the street kids around here, and I think I would remember a face like yours." He smirked while Thalia glared. "Where you from?"
"Well, that explains the lack of a legitimate coat." Thalia realized she was shivering in her light jacket and sweatshirt and tried to force herself to stop. "How did you get out here? That's not an easy trip."
"With a friend; train hopping and hitchhiking." Luke nodded knowingly, like he was remembering similar experiences.
"Your friend here with you?"
Thalia paused, wondering if she should tell this random boy that she was actually there alone. Why not? She decided quickly. He was skinny; she could take him in a fight.
"Nah, he stayed in Chicago. Met up with a few bums he knew."
"And does he know you didn't stay in Chicago?"
"He was so high when I left he didn't know who I was. I doubt he's deeply affected by my leaving." She shrugged it off. "Needless to say, we're not very good friends."
"Obviously. So what made you come here? It's not exactly a booming metropolis anymore, especially after being in Chicago." He pulled a butterfly knife out of his back pocket and began to flip it open and closed, not in a threatening manner, but absent-mindedly, like he just wanted something to do with his hands. "Hell, I'm getting the fuck out as soon as I can get a ride."
"The first train I caught was headed here. I would've gotten off earlier, but everything between here and Chicago is either farms or college towns." She finished her cigarette and flicked the butt into the back corner of the alley. It landed amongst a pile of cigarette butts left by those before her. "Where are you headed next?" Luke also flicked his butt away.
"South. I'm sick of winter already and it's only going to get worse here." Thalia sighed. She would either need to head south also, or find a real winter coat. She subconsciously shivered at the thought of being stuck in Michigan all winter. Luke noticed and paused in fishing out another cigarette. He sighed and shrugged off his jacket. He put his new, unlit cigarette between his lips and reached out, handing the jacket to Thalia, leaving himself with only a ratty, old hoodie.
"I'm fine." She said flatly, refusing to admit just how cold she really was.
"Your fingers are turning blue." Luke pointed out. She ignored that.
"Won't you be cold?" He shrugged off the question with a grin.
"I'm used to it. Take the jacket."
Thalia sighed and reluctantly accepted it. She pulled it on over the pathetic jacket she was already wearing and immediately felt the warmth from Luke's body still lingering in the jacket flood through her. It smelled how she assumed Luke would smell; like smoke, leather, and something unidentifiable that was sweet and comforting. There was also the familiar stench of unwashed clothing, but at this point in her journey, it was almost ignorable. Anyway, she was sure she didn't smell much better, if the state of her hair was any indicator.
"You should keep it; it suits you." Luke said, snapping her out of her thoughts. He was grinning again.
"That's really okay. Besides, it's your jacket." He shrugged again, like all of this was irrelevant.
"I insist. Anyway, it's not like I can't dig up another one."
Thalia almost asked how he intended to do that, but thought better of it; she really didn't want to know.
"No problem. Hungry? I'm starving!" Thalia hoped he didn't hear her stomach rumble at the mention of food.
"I'm completely broke."
"Me too, but that's never stopped me before." He smirked, that damned mischievous glint back in his eye. "You in?"
"…sure." Thalia grinned back. "I just need to put my hair up. I get the feeling that I may need it out of the way to run…" Luke's smirk widened.
"You're catching on already. I think I could get used to having you around." He watched as she pulled her dark hair up into a ponytail. "You know, your life would be a lot easier if you just cut your hair short. You could spike it or something; it would look good."
Thalia rolled her eyes as she slung her backpack over her shoulder, not even pausing to consider his suggestion.
"Yeah, sure. That'll happen." She muttered, more to herself than to Luke.
"Hey, do you have a reason to doubt me? Okay," He changed the subject before she could answer, stepping towards the mouth of the alley, but still out of the biting wind. "to the left, we have Coney Island, or Coney Island." He smirked at Thalia's unamused expression. "Seriously, they're right next door to each other."
"Right…" She nodded, not entirely sure she believed him.
"Would I lie to you?"
"Fair enough. So?"
Thalia shrugged. "I'm new in town. You choose."
"Coney Island it is. American just hired new wait staff who don't know me yet…"
That's American Coney Island.
Oh yeah, the shifty-eyed addict who talked at her for fifteen minutes about alcohol in Austin, Texas and then started rapping? True story. His name is Poh. He's back in Texas now.