Thalia sighed contentedly as she pushed herself up from the ground, as if to do a push-up, then with swift gracefulness, she snapped her hips up into a triangle; downward facing dog. She held this position for a few breaths before lifting her right leg straight up behind her then bringing it up between her hands, planting her foot firmly in the sand. She straightened her torso raised her arms straight above her head, looking out over the dimly moon-lit lake of Camp Half-Blood. The sky was completely clear and she could pick out almost every constellation within her sight. She took a deep breath and folded over again.
Then she looked up, hearing a small splash coming from the other side of the lake, but she didn't see anything but ripples forming near the dock; probably a camper going for a late night swim. She turned her attention back to her yoga, focusing on taking long, steady breaths as she moved fluidly through various poses. She bent over, feeling the stretch through her spine as she let her top half hang, swaying back and forth the slightest bit. She sighed contentedly; this was exactly what she needed. She stayed like that for a few moments before rolling her spine back up, feeling each vertebrae stack up once more. She brought her head up last, and her heart jumped in her chest from surprise.
Right in front of her was Percy Jackson, stalking out of the water, completely dry. He hadn't noticed her yet; his neck was craned back over his shoulder look to the camp. He was muttering angrily under his breath, but even in the overwhelming silence of early –early—morning, Thalia couldn't make it out.
"Jackson, what the hell are you doing here?" She snapped sharply, crossing her arms over her chest. Percy's foot slipped out from under him, and as he flailed his arms to keep himself from falling, his head whipped back around so fast Thalia thought he must have hurt himself.
"Thalia?" He looked just as surprised to see her, as she was to see him. "I could ask you the same question; it's like 4am."
"Touché." She responded after a silent glare. Percy didn't say anything like she thought he would, standing awkwardly and rocking on the balls of his feet as he avoided her gaze. "So what exactly are you are doing here?" She repeated her question. He thought for a moment.
"Just…hanging out?" He tried, shrugging, knowing exactly how unbelievable that sounded.
"Look Perce," Thalia began, trying not to sound like complete bitch, but still trying to get the point across that she really just didn't want to see anyone right now. Night time was her time. It always had been. "Nothing against you, but this is kind of my personal time. So could you…?" She made shooing motions with her hands, waving him back towards the water he had just walked out of.
But instead, he just kept staring at her with that annoyingly amused expression; like he was just humoring her.
"Jackson." She snapped. "Do you mind? I'm really not in the mood for company. This is the only time when there's no one around, thanks to your little demand last year." She knew she didn't need to elaborate further. Percy was feeling the same way she was about all of the new demigods flooding the camp. During the day, it was impossible to find any solitude, even in her cabin. Just being here for a visit seemed to give everyone the signal to ask her as many questions as possible, no matter what they were interrupting. Her favorite so far was a skinny son of Apollo shouting out his question of, "what was it like being a tree" –being completely serious and expecting an answer—while she was in the middle of sparring. That earned the shrimp a heavy knock to the helmet with the butt of her sword. With Percy being the golden boy of the camp, he was probably getting just as many visitors, if not more.
"Well, you picked my place to be alone at odd hours of the night."
Thalia glared at him, then quickly took in where they were; a secluded section of beach that didn't seem to get many visitors. There were trees surrounding them, their branches forming a canopy, looking out across the crystal waters of the lake; now completely still without campers canoeing all over the damn place. It was really only accessible by water; she was lucky she had been able to find a way through the woods. The perfect place for a son of Poseidon. Most campers probably didn't even know it existed, which was a good thing, really. She would hate to see a beautiful sanctuary turn into a make-out spot.
"Let me guess; you were here first."
"Something like that." He answered with a grin. "But I went to preschool; I know how to share." He plopped down on the sand, letting his feet rest within reach of the small waves gently lapping at the shore.
"It's beautiful here." Thalia stated, feeling awkward, as she sat down next to Percy, crossing her legs in the sand. "I'm surprised people don't canoe over here, though I'm glad that they don't." She added quickly, feeling Percy's suspicious glace.
"Me too. Luckily, there's a row of huge rocks right across there." He drew a vague line through the air in the direction of camp, across the water. Thalia had a sneaking suspicion that they rocks were his doing; he looked a bit too proud of something. "Canoes get stuck on them, and people always seem to get lost trying to get here through the woods."
They sat in silence for a while, before Percy spoke again.
"So who are you hiding from?"
"What do you mean?"
He gave her a pointed look, which she ignored. "No one goes to the trouble to all the way out here just because."
"Are you speaking from experience?"
"Have you ever seen Annabeth really mad?"
Thalia made an "o" with her mouth in understanding.
"Gotcha." She paused for another few minutes. "She mad right now?"
"Nah, she's up at Olympus, finalizing some designs with Athena for another pointless filler-building." Thalia nodded, knowing exactly what he was talking about. She also didn't grasp the point of having tons of little buildings that didn't contribute to society in any way, other than making the angles of one building complement those of another.
"So if you're not hiding from Annabeth…" She trailed off.
"Three unclaimed new kids." He elaborated. "They're all hoping to be a son of Poseidon and they've been following me around since they got here. I think they're hoping that he'll claim them if they hang around me enough. It was funny at first, but now it's just annoying. I'm this close to going up to Olympus and demanding that someone own up, just to get rid of them." Thalia grinned at his frustration. It was actually pretty entertaining.
"Somehow, I don't think the gods would appreciate that, even if it did come from the golden boy of Olympus."
Percy let out a huff of frustration and kicked his feet in the water a few times; the temper tantrum of champions. Though she did notice that the ripples were slightly too big for such little movement, and they swept out across the lake far faster than normal. There was that Poseidon charm…
"Whoa, calm down Jackson, you'll start a tsunami with all that rage." Thalia quipped, grinning at his stormy expression. He turned back to glare at the lake, his face catching the light of the moon and stars. Then Thalia really looked at him and noticed how tired he looked. His usual annoyingly cheerful face had been replaced with the face of an almost gaunt, pale stranger, with bags under his lidded eyes and an air of weariness all around him. From somewhere in the back of her mind, she remembered that he had just gotten back from a quest earlier. "You look awful." She realized, now that she had finally gotten a good look at him. "What the hell hit you?"
"A Manticore. Maybe three." He paused and when Thalia turned to prompt him to continue, he added, "Maybe one just hit me three times, I can't really be sure; I was so tired I may have been delirious."
"So you're just really, really tired." Thalia stated, making a show of thinking it over while hoping that was all, and that he didn't want to have a meaningful conversation. Percy tentatively nodded and internally, Thalia breathed a sigh of relief. "If you're so tired, then go to bed instead of stalking the bottom of the lake. It's a pretty simple solution."
"I do not stalk. And I've been trying to sleep," Percy sighed and scooped up a handful of sand from between his legs and let it run through the bottom of his fist. "I just can't shut my brain off for some reason. I keep thinking about…everything, anything; whatever happens to cross my mind. I've even spent hours trying to decide what to have for breakfast the next morning."
"Congratulations. It would seem as though, like me, you have become an insomniac." She paused, then cocked her head towards him, adding, "a great album, by the way."
He ignored her golden nugget of wisdom and snorted sardonically.
"Great. As if I need something else to worry about."
Thalia could see that this conversation was going to be getting much deeper down the emotional rabbit hole than she had initially foreseen when the other demigod wandered over; it had the potential to turn into a full-scale therapy session, sans couch and pipe. The very thought of it made her tired. It was at this point that she had to decide whether to stick it out, or pat Percy on the back, suggest a sedative, and head back to her cabin to continue her yoga in peace.
She was getting way too nice…
"Okay," She relented. "Tell Auntie Thalia your problems. What's up?" She paused for a moment. "But if it's relationship issues, I'm assuming I don't have to remind you how my last romantic attempt ended." Much to her relief, Percy snorted with a hint of a smile on his face. She had never been very good at dealing with people who were upset, unless it was Annabeth. At least, Annabeth when she was seven; Thalia had no idea how to deal with her anymore. It was still a shock every time she looked into her face and saw that the girl she considered a little sister was all grown up.
Percy seemed to understand, though.
"Don't worry, I won't start crying on your shoulder. I'm fine, I just have to sort through some…things." He finished cryptically, leaving Thalia wanting to know what these "things" were, but not enough to actually ask. There was no way she was going to open that can of worms.
"Suit yourself." She pushed herself back up to continue with her yoga, not at all put off by Percy's presence. She was even starting to get used to the little snot. Thalia raised her arms gracefully, then bent her top half again, walking out her fingertips to form her body into a triangle. Out of the corner of her eye, she could just make out Percy next to her, watching her with limited interest. She dropped her hips and moved into the "plank" pose, as if to do a pushup, then lowered herself down to the sand. She pushed up her torso and closed her eyes as she felt the stretch through her spine. Then she snapped her hips back up and planted her hands in front of her, spreading her legs out into a triangle, feeling the muscles in her thighs stretch.
"So what are you doing, yoga?" Percy asked after a few minutes. Thalia's eyes snapped open and she glared at him, upside-down, through her legs. He had stood up at some point.
"No, karate." She responded, her voice dripping with sarcasm. It didn't faze him in the slightest. Instead, he tilted his head to the side and kept his gaze locked with Thalia's, careful not to let his eyes wander. Annabeth would be proud.
"I didn't take you as one for doing yoga."
"Oh? What did you take me as one for doing?" She enjoyed watching his eyebrow twitch in confusion as he took in her oddly phrased response.
"Moshing?" He suggested. She paused then nodded her head appreciatively. "Yoga doesn't seem like something you can do while listening to Rancid."
"I'm impressed." Thalia moved herself gracefully through to a warrior pose, still facing away from Percy. "I didn't know you even knew who Rancid was." Percy shrugged behind her then moved to stand next to her on the beach.
"What can I say? I'm not completely hopeless."
"That remains to be seen." Thalia quipped lightly, throwing her arms out to the side—nearly hitting Percy in the face had he not jerked back in time—in one fluid motion as she moved to the Warrior Two pose.
She continued with her routine until she reached the Natarajasana pose, or "lord of the dance" pose, which always made her feel like she should be speaking in an Irish accent, like she should be step dancing behind Michael Flatley. She reached behind her with her left hand and began to bring her left foot up behind her, extending her right arm out in front of her. She held this for a few moments, but then she heard a groan of discomfort, followed by a painful gasp. She snapped her head around to see Percy, contorted into what was supposed to be a mirror image of Thalia's position, his limbs shaking under the strain and his left foot significantly lower than hers.
"What the hell are you doing?" Thalia asked, letting her limbs fall then putting out an arm to steady Percy's outstretched foot so he wouldn't topple over onto her. Percy slowly lowered his leg without falling, with help from Thalia, then put his hands on his hips, trying to look relaxed and nonchalant; like he hadn't just been shaking and about to collapse.
"Well, I figured that since I don't have anything better to do…" He trailed off at Thalia's look.
"Go to bed, Percy." She said as gently as she could. She wasn't trying to be mean; she just wanted to be alone. And judging by the look of him, he hadn't slept in a few days either. "You honestly look exhausted."
"I am." He admitted, frustration evident in his voice. "But even though I'm tired, the second I lie down, my brain starts going at Warp 5 and there's nothing I can do to slow it down." He shrugged. "I've tried everything I can think of. This yoga stuff is a last resort; believe me."
When she had first come to the camp, she would have been able to turn him down and walk away without the slightest tinge of guilt. His stupid baby face was starting to get to her. He just looked so pathetic.
"Fine." She relented after a moment of thinking it over; having gone through the list of ways she could get rid of Percy and not found one way to do it guilt-free. "I'll teach you a routine that's supposed to help with insomnia. Didn't work for me, but maybe it will you." She grabbed his wrist and pulled up forward to stand on level with her. "Just do what I do. We'll start slow; I'm assuming that Achilles Warranty doesn't cover pulled muscles…"
Well, that's it for part one. It's unbeta-ed, so let me know if you notice any glaringly obvious mistakes. But the good news: I have the next part all done. All I'm waiting on are your lovely reviews. So go forth and review!