Her skin is pallid in the moonlight. The forlorn shadows thrown out against the grass are long and deep, and she wishes she could fade into them, dark into dark, lonely into lonely.

His voice drips with heat and venom. "I hate them."

"Don't," she says.

She wavers. She tries again, swallowing, choking back the tremble in her voice that starts when she sees the blackness in his eyes. "They're our parents." Her voice is tight, stretched thin, a thread about to snap, but she's good at hiding it. Her tone is firm. "We can't hate them."

"Why not?"

She grits her teeth, jaw locked. She has no answer for him. She just stares up at the wide night sky sprawled above them, and she watches the stars, pinpoints of light woven into the infinite tapestry of the heavens. The expanse laughs at her mortality.

A curse hovers on the end of her tongue, but she simply stares at her sneakers, praying she won't say anything that could result in a thunderbolt striking her down where she stands.

"It's not smart to provoke the gods," she whispers, and in her head, she's repeating over and over, For the love of Zeus, he doesn't mean it, he doesn't, he doesn't...

She wants to hate them. Maybe she does, but the images in her head of dazzling bolts, lightning flashing from heaven's hand, thunder roaring in the rumble and crash of a rainstorm, they won't go away, and they frighten her. Maybe that's it. She's frightened. The words are unformed, a pool of thoughts that boils and smokes in the back of her mind, but they find no outlet. The words don't come.

"I hate them," he says. "You should, too."

"I can't."

The pain in her voice is all too real.

"You can," he assures her. "You already do."

She grits her teeth. The tension shoots through her jawbone. "I'd prefer not to be incinerated. How about that?"

He laughs, but it's forced. "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down."

She tries to laugh with him, but the noise that finds its way into an audible sound is more of a sigh, and it catches in the back of her throat, unheard. She looks at him for reassurance. The light has come back into his eyes, and that comforts her. The corners of her mouth lift ever so slightly. Just enough.

A smile. Lopsided.

She closes her eyes, swimming distantly in the sound of his dry laughter. She goes under, sinks beneath, lets the far away waves of worry and fear and anger and pain drift overhead, while all she hears is that laughter. She leans back, rests her head against his chest.

She falls asleep in his arms.


A/N: Pretty self-explanatory. A Thuke one-shot. This takes place before the pine tree incident on Half-Blood Hill. Updates on this story are entirely sporadic, as this is really just a series of random one-shots. Reviews are nevertheless appreciated, and may encourage me to continue this.