I wrote this while listening to Damien Rice's 'Volcano', so with that in mind here's yet another AU fic. It's 'AU' in the fact Thalia wasn't a tree, but it's still in Riordan's universe. I just can't not have this pairing, what is with this, I don't even know. Anyway. Without further ado.
He could already tell it was her; who else would be crouching on the beach? She was too tense, too ready to spring, to run like some frightened deer, but he knew she'd fight with the ferocity of a pack of wolves. She was so fascinating, so wonderful, so delicate, so strong. She was so intricate, and he'd spent years trying to figure her out. He'd hadn't made much progress at all, to be honest.
It didn't look comfortable, that position; he could imagine her knees were burning, as most people's did when crouching for so long, in such a still position.
"Loosen up, Thalia," he said, sneaking up behind her and pulling her down to the sand next to him. "Nothing's gunna attack you at Camp."
She rolled her eyes, something that was quite effective behind her eyeliner, her blue eyes so piercing against her Mediterranean complexion. He could never predict her, like a force of nature, and this was no exception.
"Something's different, Luke. You've been so strange the past few weeks. Fill me in," she stated, so nonchalant, no 'Hello!', no introduction. But Thalia's way of talking always made him feel the need to obey. To spill everything. And he almost did, he almost told her about Kronos. But he couldn't. Not yet, and he wasn't even sure, not just yet. He wasn't sure he could ever tell her – she might just kill him on the spot. She was so opinionated, and no matter how much they claimed they hated their godly parents, he doubted she'd ever even give the Titan Lord the time of day. Maybe she'd think him weak. He wouldn't tell her; not just yet. Not until he was more powerful than her, than Percy Jackson.
He hated to think he might hurt them; he did care. He cared about all the demigods here, and he scratched his scar absentmindedly. That was why he was doing it, maybe, he didn't know. It wasn't just power; he wanted to prove a point, to be noticed.
"Just thinking. Lots of thinking, about my Mom, mostly," he stated, lying so easily. Even Thalia, perceptive Thalia, could never differentiate between his lies and the truth. She looked back over Long Island Sound.
"Have you seen her recently?"
"No. It gets harder to go back and visit every time," he stated, and she dropped it. He pulled her closer, and they fit together perfectly, like a puzzle piece. Even when he kissed her, their mouths found each other like they just belonged together. Their relationship was so simple, so easy, that he could have left Kronos so easily right now if she'd just asked. But she didn't know.
He needed her, he did, and her arms wrapped so comfortably around his neck. Thalia was one of those few things he needed in this world, but he realised he could not base his life around her – Kronos promised him things that tempted him just as much.
He hated lying to her. He did. And there was this moment of clarity where he realised that this relationship wasn't quite real – he wasn't quite there, she wasn't quite aware of the shift in loyalty, and he wasn't sure where his allegiance lay. And he realised so quickly that she did not need him. She would be better off without him, in the long run, because he was being real now. And she'd never join Kronos, he knew it.
He wasn't even sure that she felt the same way about him as he did to her; she would kill him, he knew, if she thought he was a threat to Annabeth, Percy, the Camp. But she was the only thing keeping him relatively stable, something of an immovable force while he was just a boyfriend. She loved him, of course, but what he was to her was not what she meant to him.
She gave him too much already; her love, so hard to come by, her mind, her body – she gave him so much. Too much. He'd never even asked, or expected it to be so, and here they were. He withheld so much from her; information. Feelings. Choices. She could have given him all the mountains in the world, and he still would have asked for the sea.
It was time for capture the flag, and they split up, heading out to get ready. They were on different teams, and Thalia actually took up the defensive for once in her life, letting Percy lead the offensive. The other team had Nico, and that worried her somewhat. But her mind wasn't on the game, it was on Luke. He had been so strange. She wanted to know what was happening, she wanted to know him better than she felt she did. But it was so hard, because he wasn't easy. Once you tried to access Luke on the most personal level, it was so hard. Too hard.
They won capture the flag. Thalia went back to her cabin, of which was so cold and unforgiving, collapsing to that small bed she'd put in the only alcove where her 'father' wasn't watching her. She lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. She felt like her relationship with Luke, while so easy, was slowing coming to some sort of head, waiting to explode. Like a volcano, dormant at the moment. But it would destroy them, if they didn't figure it out. Whatever 'it' was.
Luke came into her cabin, unannounced, and she rolled her eyes again.
"For the one billionth time, I am not going to fuck you with my dad like, staring at me."
He laughed, rough as bark, shaking his head. "It would be totally kinky."
Thalia rolled her eyes again.
"I suppose you've come to whisk me away...to the romantic setting of the armoury."
"Our options are limited."
"So true," she agreed, allowing him to wrap an arm around her as they snuck around camp to their only option. In private, their kisses were so much deeper, Thalia so much more responsive, both savouring the closeness of the other – and when they were together, Luke threw himself into it, skilful in his execution. And sometimes it felt like this was all they needed, moments together like this, where there was no one but themselves, and they had no need to pretend.
The next day, Luke was gone. And Thalia was angry.
The air around her literally crackled; she just knew that he was gone for good. That he'd lied to her.
She felt like he was fucking playing her; and there it was, that volcano that exploded, ruining her unexpected period of peace; she was so angry. So, so angry. She realised that she wasn't the same to him as he was to her; she'd never just leave, she'd never betray someone, anyone she loved, like she'd later learn he had. No matter what he thought, he never quite needed her as much as he felt he needed that lust for proving himself, and she knew it. He didn't need whatever she could give him as much as he needed Kronos' false promises.
And the moment she saw him again, almost by chance, she just felt so angry. His excuses did nothing. If she was less stoic, she'd have cried long and hard. She did, of course, but never in his or anyone else's company.
"I'm so sorry, Thalia -"
"No, you're not, are you, Luke?"
He sighed. "You're perceptive. You knew something was happening, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Yeah I did. But I never thought it was this, and even after this shit, you know what the only thing I can think is? That you never fucking loved me, did you? You were just so focused on your own little project, whatever the fuck this is, that I was just something else, a side project, right?"
"Thalia – no, never, no! I did love you. I do. And I know this isn't what you want, but this is what makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, because where's the glory in doing something someone else has already done?"
"Fuck you, Luke, fuck you," she spat, stepping back. And he grimaced, because he couldn't make her see, and he knew it. Kronos had told him she was too young to understand, but that was obvious bullshit. A year was not that much difference.
These things he'd kept from her had festered, come to a head, exploded; this volcano of a relationship had destroyed them. Kronos was the stresser, and Luke couldn't go back now.
She's still too young to understand, Kronos had growled, somewhere in the back of Luke's mind.
"Thalia," Luke tried. But what was he going to say? She didn't need him now. This wasn't what she wanted.
"Luke, don't even try it," she returned, remembering every moment she'd ever treasured. Broken. Destroyed. "I fucking loved you, you know that? I did." She was so vulnerable, for one of the only times in her life. And finally, he'd learned more about her – but it was all moot now. Everything was moot, now.
"And I loved you – I still do. Thalia, I need you. Please, just try and understand -"
"Bullshit, Luke. You don't need me. I don't know if you ever did. If you really had loved me, you wouldn't have fucking done this, would you?" she spat, and he just watched her leave. He thought she'd kill him. She hadn't. Maybe she couldn't believe it. Maybe strong Thalia was incapable of killing him.
But what she'd said had been true.
He didn't need her any more. Did he need anyone?