Welcome. You have entered a one-shot featuring Thalia and Rachel. These two are hardly ever shown connecting, so I hope this is a bit interesting. Please enjoy.

This takes place a week after the Battle of Manhattan in The Last Olympian.

"Are you in here? Annabeth!" Thalia gripped the door fame to the Big House, and she poked her head inside the building, looking around. She knew that Annabeth would be busy helping straighten the camp or attending to those who were injured, but she needed to see Annabeth at least one last time before the Hunters set off. Thalia called again, "Annabeth!"

Thalia had already witnessed her share of injured patients limping around the camp grounds as they tried to get back on their feet. She knew the Big House's recovery room would be packed with hurt demigods who had been brave enough to step forward or had become innocent victims in the Battle of Manhattan they had just fought a few days before.

Camp was bittersweet. Despite the few joys that floated in the air, such as the victory of the war and Kronos' downfall, to name a few, there was a lot of pain too. Losses, deaths, and bitter memories seemed to stand in camp like water in a bathtub. There were names in Thalia's thoughts that she wouldn't dare to bring to her tongue, names that stung at her heart every time they came to mind.

"Annabeth!" Thalia called a third time, shaking away her thoughts. With one last sigh, Thalia glanced up the narrow set of stairs leading to the dusty attic up above. Annabeth had to be somewhere, Thalia thought as she headed upstairs.

In the back of her mind, Thalia knew that she wasn't going to find Annabeth up there. But what Thalia wasn't expecting was to see a certain redhead standing alone in the dim silence of the upper floor. Rachel's back was to Thalia, but she could see what Rachel was examining in her hands once she silently stepped closer.

"Hey," Thalia whispered, speaking without realizing it.

Rachel almost jumped, the scarf of Aphrodite falling from her fingers as she turned around. Startled green eyes met lifeless blue eyes as Thalia waited for Rachel to calm down.

"Sorry," Thalia said, "I didn't mean to creep up on you. I was just looking for Annabeth. Have you seen her?"

Rachel bent down to pick up the sequined scrap of clothing, its magic worn out long ago, before answering Thalia. "I'm not sure. The last I saw her, she was with Percy."

Thalia could read the tag in front of the scarf from where she stood. It listed Annabeth and Percy's names, acknowledging the time when they had found the scarf on their quest to recover Zeus' bolt. For the first time, it hit Thalia that Percy and Annabeth were together now. The thought bounced awkwardly in Thalia's mind, but she knew she had an eternity to get used to it.

"Did you want anything else?" Rachel said, pulling Thalia out of her thoughts.

"Uh… no, thanks." Thalia gave her a forced smile. She suspected that Rachel wanted to be alone. After all, this was where the old Oracle had been hosted for years. Thalia had nearly turned to head down the creaking stairs when Rachel spoke.

"So, are the Hunters just stopping by before they're off on the hunt again?"

Seeing that Rachel had stepped forward to start a conversation, Thalia felt obliged to respond. "Pretty much. Lady Artemis decided it was best to stop by camp to see if we could help out," Thalia explained. Then, focusing her gaze on Rachel, she asked, "Why?"

Rachel touched her arm uncomfortably. "Just asking. You know, seeing as all this monsters-and-gods talk is officially a part of my life now, I just thought I'd start learning these things."

Thalia stared at Rachel before nodding. It wasn't every day that the daughter of Zeus ran into the redheaded mortal, but it wasn't as crazy as Thalia had expected. Rachel was normal, or at least as normal as any mortal immune to the mist could be. There was something bold about Rachel that Thalia liked. It was all quite the contrary from what Thalia had always thought she would think of the mortal, just based off of what Thalia knew Annabeth had felt about Rachel before Percy was smart enough to realize who he belonged with.

"So, you're the new Oracle, huh?" Thalia finally asked, shifting on her feet.

A lost look seemed to be invading Rachel's eyes as she stared at the wooden floor board on the ground. "I guess so."

The huntress frowned. "What's the matter?" If anything, she had expected Rachel to take her new position with pride. The last thing the camp needed was a confused Oracle.

Rachel shook her head quickly. "Nothing. It's just that… so much has happened in the last few days. It doesn't seem real. I mean… you guys just saved the entire world on the streets of New York."

Thalia smirked. "Welcome to demigod life."

"I mean…one day I was on vacation, and now I'm the Oracle," Rachel continued, feeling a little worked up. "Percy just gave up becoming a god, and-"

Rachel's voice seemed to fade in Thalia's head. She didn't know if Rachel was still talking, but the thought of Percy giving up immortality for his friends, for Annabeth, seemed to strike a nerve in her. Having to decide between declining or accepting immortality and thinking over the consequences that came with each – it was something Thalia knew about much too well.

Thalia floated back in to reality when she realized Rachel was asking her a question. Thalia cleared her mind. "I'm sorry, what?"

"How did you feel," Rachel repeated, "when you became a Huntress?"

The question caught Thalia off guard. "What do you mean?"

"Did you feel… I don't know - different?" Rachel asked with slight urgency. Thalia was taken aback; Rachel looked wide-eyed, almost like a child who was begging to be lifted up so she could reach the cookie jar. "Wasn't there any doubt, any regret -"

"No," Thalia answered sharply, cutting her off. She surprised herself at her own confidence. Regret. That was one word that Thalia didn't like. No regret.

Rachel frowned.

Thalia took a shaky breath. "It's not easy, Dare. Accepting to become a Huntress or the Oracle, accepting immortality - it's all… difficult. But if there's anything I've learned living as a half-blood, it's that everything happens the way it's meant to be."

Rachel slumped back, leaning on the display behind her. "The way it's meant to be," she repeated almost to herself in a whisper.

Thalia suddenly shook her head slowly. "But, then again, I'm just a Huntress. Why are you asking, anyway?"

Rachel kept her eyes in the distant as she spoke absently. "I don't know. I just thought - becoming a Huntress or the Oracle - they're kind of alike."

It was something Thalia had never thought about before. Having anything in common with a redheaded mortal who had been best friends with Percy outside of camp had never crossed her mind before. But, standing there, she thought that Rachel might have had a point. "They both take a lot of commitment and strong will," Thalia told her, blue eyes re-filling with the determination they were used to. Seeing Rachel's confusion and curiosity as she stood in front of her, Thalia took a deep breath. "Look, Rachel, I don't know what's going through your head, but you have to pull it together. You need to be strong. There are people counting on you now, new campers and old ones. They need an Oracle."

"I know that," Rachel said, her voice shaky. "I've always known that." Thalia watched Rachel straighten up as she tucked a strand of wavy red hair behind her ear. "It was destiny. I just got caught up thinking about my old life, that's all. I'll be fine."

Standing there face-to-face with Rachel Elizabeth Dare, Thalia felt like she was looking into a mirror. Of course she would never admit it, not even to herself, but Thalia knew what Rachel was feeling. It didn't make sense, but Thalia could suddenly relate. It wasn't about strength or commitment anymore. It was something much deeper, something forbidden in both of their vows.

Rachel had said old life. That was something Thalia had almost forgotten existed.

Two little words were dancing around in Thalia's mind. The two little words that she had told herself over and over before she had finally done it."You have to let go, Rachel."

Rachel's eyes widened ever so slightly. "Let go?" When Thalia didn't answer her, a tinge of frustration poked at Rachel's heart as a silent understanding passed between the two. "Didn't you ever dream, Thalia? Or when you were a kid, didn't you ever hear fairytales? Someday you'd meet your prince charming and get a happily ever after, didn't you ever once believe it?"

Thalia stared at Rachel. The mortal's words had no effect on her. Thalia had become numb long ago from these thoughts. "We've got other stuff to live for, Dare, more important things. We're sacrifices."

Rachel caught herself for a second time, concealing the doubt and desire that had leaked into her voice. "I know that."

Although Thalia knew that Rachel had been strong all along, the mortal was facing her inevitable moment of doubt with Thalia right there to witness it. Thalia swallowed, turning her head as her eyes settled on to the dreary wall. "I already told you - it's not easy. But it's fate. There's something you need to understand," Thalia said seriously. "Whatever happened in the past, Rachel, you need to put it behind you. It's the only way people like me and you can get by in this life time."

"You said people like me and you," Rachel pressed. "What do you mean?"

Thalia seemed to lower her voice as she really thought about it. Standing there, alone with Rachel, Thalia had nothing to lose telling the truth to her thoughts. "Those with an old life. An old life with people who were once important, once a part of us. A life with memories of the good times and the bad."

Rachel stared at Thalia, feeling her eyes burning. Her voice was barely audible when she asked, "How do you deal with it?"

Thalia's answer was simple. "Let it go."

Before Rachel had time to answer, a familiar voice called from downstairs. "Thalia? Thalia, were you looking for me?"

Both girls seemed to have been harshly yanked back into reality upon hearing the voice. Thalia swallowed, recollecting herself. Just for a few minutes, the few minutes she had stood talking with Rachel, Thalia had opened herself. Now, as she took a breath, Thalia reburied all the hurt, all the memories, and all the secrets back deep within her where they had found comfort and peace.

"I've gotta go," Thalia said, turning her back. "Take care, Dare. I'll see you around."

"Sure," Rachel called, her voice fading as a whisper through the attic's thick atmosphere. She knew that Thalia had offered her advice that Thalia was living her own life by.

As Thalia left the room, she was leaving a memory. A memory of the blond hair, blue-eyed boy who she had once loved; her happily-ever-after that was never meant to be. Luke would never be forgotten - his presence was like a permanent stitch on her heart - but Thalia had let go the second she joined the Hunters.

As Thalia shut the door, leaving Rachel to stare at the floor, she could only hope that the redhead would let go the same way.

Now, as Rachel stood alone in the eerie silence of the attic, something tugged at her heart harder than it had before. For the first time, Rachel truly allowed herself to think about letting go of the boy who had opened her eyes to another world.

For a second she thought about the memories; she thought about him. He was the boy who had stabbed her right through her stomach by accident the first time she ever saw his face; she could remember the fear in his eyes as he had stared back at her all those years ago.

She thought about all their phone conversations back in Manhattan as they got closer, began calling each other a friend, and all the times he would sit on the floor in her room telling her quietly about his dreams, about his life at camp, or about school. She was the only one he could ever talk to about camp and his mortal life; she understood.

Then there were all the times they went outside just to have a good time on their not-dates when she could finally get his mind off of all the stress that was swallowing him up due to his prophecy. She remembered the uneasiness in his eyes every time she asked him to come on vacation with her, and she could almost picture the sinking sunset in front of her as she sat next to him in the front seat of his step-father's car. She could almost feel the beating of her own heart again, remembering the moment she had dared him to make a move.

Then there was the way she had finally kissed him two seconds before he had flown off into the sky to save the world. She could feel the same tears staining her cheeks that she had cried just a couple of days ago, and she remembered her anger as she threw darts at his photograph in her room. And at last, she remembered turning her back on him, telling him that she knew they weren't meant to be, that it wasn't destiny. Rachel knew, deep down, when she pledged to become the Oracle, that she needed a place to belong. The place next to him was already taken, and she had never seen it brighter in his eyes than she had the day they had stood on Olympus together by the hearth.

Rachel knew, from the first moment she saw him looking at Annabeth, that he could never be hers. It was never meant to be.

As Rachel let Percy go, she couldn't have been more right.

Blame the summer for this random one-shot. Hopefully, I'll be able to read and write a bit more now that school is (kind of) out of the way.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Please review? I'd love to now your thoughts. Plus, it would be the best Welcome-to-Summer gift anyone could ever give me.