"I love you," he says.
She jerks up from her work to look at him. "What?" she asks, not quite sure if she heard him right.
"I love you," he repeats. He leans forward to kiss her softly on the lips before leaving her alone to do her work.
She stares out the door after him, wondering how he always manages to pick words out of his brain and lay them on the table for her to shrink away in surprise. She doesn't get how his impeccable sense of words leave her gaping at him for a few days until she gets back on her feet and finally replies.
But now, she's not sure she can reply, or even walk over to the general area of his cohort. He's in love with her, but she can't seem to say it back.
For her, it's so true, so very true. She wants to say it, she does. But she doesn't like being jerked around with and fooled by someone. She's afraid he's lying, even though they spent so much time together, so much time being friends.
If Circe's island told her anything, it was not to trust men (especially pirates, but she's getting off topic). But here she was, trusting (and loving) a powerful son of Jupiter. Was anything at that island true? She grits her teeth. Nearly getting killed was true.
She gently fingers the white scar that runs along her whole arm, slightly swirled at one end from the shape of the hook. The son of Jupiter is not a pirate, surely, but what if he isn't showing his true colors? What if he destroyed someone's home, like that son of Posei- Neptune did to her?
She sighs and gets up, leaving her work spread out on her desk. She grabs her pencil and sticks it on her nightstand before tugging off her purple toga. She slips into her more comfortable night clothes and climbs into her bed.
She tugs her purple covers over her body and ponders on whether or not to reply to his surprising 'l bomb.' She finally decides before drifting off into a deep slumber.
She doesn't know that she won't ever get to say it to him, because he's gone.
But her answer is:
Desperation. Fear. Hunger. Desperation. They engulf her.
She's dead to the world, in a way. Her somewhat fun-loving side is completely gone; now, the time used for fun and socializing is in use to try and find her kind of boyfriend.
Her professional leader face, along with her ramrod Roman posture, is the only thing that people see when they pass her now. She's only a praetor now, not a friend, not a companion. Her connection to the others was him (the missing one) and he's gone.
Her façade includes constant training to drain away the feelings that engulf her mind thoroughly when she isn't doing something that takes up all of her concentration and thinking. As a daughter of Bellona, her skills with swords and other weapons are absolutely amazing, but she finds herself better with each stroke of her sword or knife.
She even manages to defeat Mars when he comes down for their annual tournament, which makes everyone bow down to her in respect and Mars even ends up doing so, grudgingly.
But the real thought on everyone's minds, including hers, is:
"He was able to do it, too."
Her anchor is him.
He is her anchor. He was her first friend. He is the man she loves so deeply it will never go away, sworn by Venus herself.
When he's gone, she's gone. Each night, she wakes up after a terrible nightmare about him dying to find tears strolling down her face, sobs racking her entire body.
Her soul seems to be slipping steadily away with him not at her side. She gets frailer and skinnier each day, until the amazing (awful) day he comes back to camp on the Greek warship, the Argo II.
Back. Back. Back.
He is back. Back to his home, back to camp, back to his friends, back to her.
But he's not there for her. Just to save the world along with his pretty little Cherokee Barbie doll, with braids in her hair and a natural beauty that radiates all around her.
Did she not have a natural beauty? Was she too intimidating, too hard to handle? Or did he just not want her anymore? Was she too much of a challenge? Was she ugly?
She thought he was supposed to love her, and she thought he loved her more than Perseus loved his girlfriend.
She is wrong, and she has to live with that.
"I love you" is a phrase that is supposed to be meaningful, caring, and passionate. Most of all, it's supposed to be true. He lied. He lied to her. He lied to her head. He lied to her soul. He lied to her heart. He lied to her so badly she'll never love another, and she'll always be lonely.
She's left wondering how she lost him.