I know, I know, I'm (temporarily) a traitor to the ship of Thalico. But I really needed to get this out of my system. Writing at 11:41 at night with a pen does wonders. And I've used exactly one cuss word in here. I'm crossing over to the dark side...

Your life could be worse. So your mother slaps you and yells at you and really it's more of you taking care of her than how you think it should be. So your father never shows up and you're stranded until one night you make up your mind and run away.

On second thought, your life probably couldn't be worse. At least that's what you think at first.

Then you meet your new partner against the world, who is cocky and mischievous and almost the polar opposite of you; if not for the pain and confusion he's hiding but never talks about – just like you.

He calls himself Luke, and pretty soon you do too.

When the two of you pick up the sweetest and toughest five-year-old girl on the planet, Luke says that the three of you are a complete family now. And you get the double meaning because you just get Luke.

For two painful, tiring, wonderfully free years the three of you roam the country and make every monster you see run for its mommy because you and Luke and Annabeth work like that.

And somehow, in two years, Luke mends your abused and neglected heart.

So it makes perfect sense not to leave either of them behind when Grover shows up and does his best to bring you to camp. And it makes terrible sense when that Cyclops shrieks for you and you help, using Luke's voice. So you run and try to fight, because he's your best friend and he never let you down, so you can't let him die – you just can't.

You sacrifice yourself instead.

You stand on that hill and scream bloody murder at the monsters and there's sparks flying off your clothes and you're sure that if you die, Luke will live. But before you get overwhelmed, he kisses you once- quickly, intensely- and you fight with more energy than you should have had, because it's his life, his passion, his fierce way of living that you're fighting to preserve.

Lightning shakes the ground, and you fall asleep knowing he's safe. You don't care if you die because of it.

It's dark for a while. You can't tell how long it lasts, but you can hear his voice sometimes. It's anguished and broken and close to crying when you hear it.

But when you wake up after horrible pain and warm coldness like magic soothing it, it's not Luke you see when you open your eyes. It's a different boy. Younger. Dark hair, green eyes. He's telling you that it's okay and you're not dead and that it was a dream. You accept this, confused, and look around for Luke.

It's when you don't see him that you realize the world has moved on – and, in the process, left you behind.

It hits you in one huge blow and you're falling like someone yanked the ground out from under your feet, but this time there's no Luke there to catch you so you have to suck it up and land on your feet, but it hurts like hell and for the first time in your life you lock yourself away and cry.

When you see him in person for the first time in seven years (you treasure the dreams but they don't count) he's sick and pale and he has a scar that makes him even more of a stranger. He's not the boy you know and love anymore. He's the boy that poisoned you, that kidnapped his own adopted baby sister, that you have to fight because he's evil and you're not, and it all comes down to the two of you.

The only thing you can hear is the blood rushing in your ears and the only thing you can feel is the memory of his lips, but it burns and stings now.

He's a traitor and he won't ever be Luke again.

But your heart believes that there's a tiny grain of him buried in there somewhere and that makes kicking the boy in front of you off a cliff unforgivable – because that makes you a traitor too.

You run.

You say to the world that it's because you can't handle the power (you can't) but there's the other reason. The Luke reason. Joining the Hunters of Artemis kills two birds with one stone, and you're happy because you're not going to destroy the world. You get to fight monsters and laugh with your sisters and be protected from Luke and sleep peacefully –

No. You're plagued by nightmares.

His smirk.

His smile.

His scar.

His pain.

All of it comes flooding back when that stupid statue of that stupid petty queen of the gods nearly crushes Annabeth but traps you instead, and at that moment you want to curse the gods into oblivion.

You curse yourself too because you don't see him as he dies, even if you feel it.

When you find out Luke's trying for the Isles of Blest, you're torn between punching a wall and smiling like a lunatic. Punching a wall, because he's not going to wait for you to die and join him (it might take forever for you to die, but aren't you worth it?), and saving that tiny possibility of hope because you might see him again during your immortal life, and who cares about the oath that says no romantic love whatsoever.

But he's still gone on without you again and that stings.

You realize the world really is leaving you behind. You stubbornly tell yourself that you're where you're supposed to be and Luke doesn't matter anymore and that he's in the past. But he does matter, and you're confused now. Artemis tells you to use the one thing you have that's endless – time.

Eventually, you sort it out.

You come to the conclusion that the wounds will heal.

And for the rest of your immortal life, you keep an eye out for Luke's reincarnation. He's the thing that keeps you tied to reality.

Without him, you'll be too far behind the world to ever catch up again.

Jeesh, this one needs editing. Go read the sequel, Edge of Forgiveness. It's better. Trust me.