When the Moon Gleams
Genre: Adventure, Family, Friendship, Humor, etc.
IMPORTANT: Those of you who have not read When the Moon Fades, I suggest that you read that first.
Summary: Sequel to When the Moon Fades. Takes place in TTC. Things are not always what they may seem…
Chapter 1: The Bad News
"Done!" I shouted from across the room. My arms and legs aching as I struggled to adjust myself.
Percy was standing on the other side of the clearing. His arms crossed, and his face looked thoughtful.
"I think," Percy started, "you should do another lap."
"What?" I shouted in disbelief. "But I already did like a bazillion laps-!"
"Just one more won't hurt you," he dismissed.
I groaned as I moved into position yet again, and muttered, "coming from a son of Poseidon."
"What was that?"
I gave a large splash, as I did a free style under the allotted time.
Yes, you heard me correctly. I was swimming.
Percy had decided last summer that he was going to help me conquer my hydrophobia by giving me swimming lessons. I, the 'hydrophobic', was not too keen on the idea at first. After last year's incident, however, Percy kept pushing me at it, and I eventually gave in to the pressure.
Let me tell you: Percy was one heck of a coach.
Don't let his easy-going ways fool you. He was one strict and merciless coach when it came to teaching someone his favorite sport. Since it was getting close to the winter break, Percy found a lot of time for the two of us to use the school's indoor pool. I was learning new techniques left and right during the first two weeks: waking up as early as 4:30 am to do my daily warm-ups. If I was even a minute late on waking up, Percy threatened to dump a bucket of ice water over my head to and I quote, 'relieve my senses' and he ended up following through with that threat on more than one occasion, much to my annoyance.
Despite the strict orders and treatment, his teaching style was very efficient. I was now swimming quite proficiently, and could manage to stay aloft for a half hour at ease.
When I finally reached the end of the pool, Percy shouted my recorded time.
"56.3 seconds," he stated, walking towards me. I took his hand when he offered to help me up. "You got faster."
I nodded as I dried my face and chest with a towel. I walked over to where my stuff was. "I have a good teacher."
"There's no one better," he boasted, his arms making grandiose gestures as emphasis. I fist-bumped him playfully on the shoulder.
"Percy, if your ego gets any bigger, I'll have to stop giving you compliments," I teased.
He shrugged, grinning. "It's just who I am." He looked at the time. "We should get going. My mom will get worried if we get home late."
"Yeah, yeah," I said absentmindedly as I put on my black shirt. "Let's go."
Sally Jackson was my dream-mom.
When I was invited by Percy to spend some time at their house, she was more than welcoming in making me feel at home. She cooked the best meals (second to only Ms. Lewinsky), was very nice, and gave the most hilarious stories of Percy, much to his embarrassment.
"If you blackmail me with this, gods so help me, I will get you back," he whispered after his mom finished another adventure of 'Baby Perseus'.
I laughed even harder when I heard his threat. "Try me." Percy glared playfully, and didn't say anything else.
Those were good times.
"Mom! We're home!" Percy called out as he opened the door. Sure enough, Mrs. Jackson greeted us with a smile, and proceeded to give Percy a hug, much to his abashment.
"There are cookies on the table," she said as she released her son. "Did you boys have a good time today?"
"Yeah, Percy nearly drove me to exhaustion."
Mrs. Jackson frowned, "Percy, are you pushing him too hard?"
Percy rolled his eyes. "Mom, it was nothing. Seth and I had a normal practice at the pool. He's being sarcastic."
Mrs. Jackson appeared thoughtful. "I believe you boys must be hungry after such an exercise. Come eat in the kitchen. I cooked your favorite dishes."
"Thank you, Mrs. Jackson," I said politely. Mrs. Jackson smiled at me sweetly, before leaving us to tend to the food.
When she was out of sight, Percy said, "Seriously, Seth, you're like way too polite. My mom thinks I should learn etiquette from you."
We proceeded to eat the freshly baked blue cookies on the table. The blue food at first, appeared very strange to me during my first week of stay, but it soon grew on me.
Percy has grown a lot since I last saw him. He was taller, a bit on the muscular side, and his hair and skin tone seemed to have gotten darker. He wore a white shirt and jeans, in contrast to my dark apparel, and seemed perfectly at ease as he got another cookie from the plate. I couldn't help but sneak glances at his right arm: thin criss-cross scars embedded the surface from the top of his hand to his elbow.
"Did it…hurt?" I said quietly. He stopped munching when he noticed my staring.
He sighed when he realized what I was talking about. "It doesn't anymore." When I still remained silent, he continued, "it wasn't your fault Seth. You couldn't have known."
"But it was because of me, wasn't it?" I pointed out. "I wished I wasn't such a coward and gone on that quest with you and Annabeth-!"
"And Tyson," he added.
"Yeah, and Tyson," I repeated. Then, I grew frustrated, "if it wasn't for my stupid fear of boats-!"
"Hey, if it weren't for you, the three of us wouldn't have managed to get past those harpies." Percy said. "Also, how were you supposed to know your psychotic girlfriend-!"
"Clare is not my girlfriend!"
"Look, the point is, you couldn't have known she was still out to get me alright?"
I didn't say anything. I knew that Clare was still upset about me not joining Kronos and that she harbored some deep hatred of Percy. What I didn't know was how she decided that Percy was supposively the one who helped changed my mind, and now she would stop at nothing at hunting him down.
"Alright," I accepted. "How is Tyson doing by the way?"
"Tyson? I haven't heard from him much. Last I checked, he was having a lot of fun with the other Cyclops."
"So he's enjoying himself, huh? That's good." I murmured. "Did you tell him I was sorry?"
Percy nodded. "He never took it against you though. He's too innocent to understand it. He's willing to start over if you want."
My mouth was gaping in shock. "S-seriously? Even after all those mean things I did...?" Percy nodded.
"Damn, I was an awful jerk," I muttered. When Tyson had arrived at camp, I was less than welcoming towards him, causing Percy to defend him and actually argue against me and Annabeth. I couldn't help it at the time: giants were the reason why my family was dead and Cyclops was there next of kin, but I knew better now.
"That you were," Percy agreed. "If it was anyone else, they would be far less forgiving."
"I'll keep that in mind," I mumbled.
The door bell rang, snapping both of our attention as we got up to see who it was. A spiky black haired girl emerged at our door.
"You guys going to let me in? Or are you going to keep me hanging?" the girl smirked.
"Thalia!" Percy exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Just paying a quick visit," Thalia answered, allowing herself in. She gave me a glance and grinned.
"Hey Hunter, catch!" She tossed me a huge wrapped up bundle as I quickly lunged and grabbed it. I untied it quickly, and my eyes widened when I saw its contents.
"You got my weapons," I exclaimed, "but why?"
"Chiron's got a report. He says that Grover managed to locate two potential demigods-a brother and sister- at this boarding school up in Maine. We'll be needed in a few days."
"Two potential demigods at once?" I whistled. "This next one might be tough."
"It's nothing we haven't handled before," Thalia said. "Annabeth's also coming along."
"Annabeth?" Percy asked, sounding hopeful.
Thalia nodded. "We should have nothing to worry about."
"Are you going to stay for awhile?" Percy questioned.
"I'll stay for the afternoon," Thalia said, "but I'll be going back to Camp right after." She suddenly sniffed. "Are those cookies?"
"The very best," I answered. "You came at the right time."
"Sweet!" Thalia said happily as she walked to the kitchen. She greeted Mrs. Jackson before she sat down at the table.
As we sat there eating our meal, I couldn't help but think how strange the situation was. Here was me, hanging out with two of my friends (one of them being a tree not too long ago), eating blue food, and talking about gods and monsters like it was today's forecast.
I was suddenly snapped out of my thoughts, when Thalia's face fogged up my vision.
"Earth to Moony boy. You in there?"
I scowled, "Yes, Thalia, what is it? And I told you not to call me that."
"Nothing, just checking if you're okay there. You look spaced out," Thalia said cheekily at her intended pun. I wasn't so amused.
"You're hilarious," I deadpanned, before looking away, fingers brushing back my recently shortened strands of hair. "Just thinking over some things; it's nothing concerning."
Thalia shrugged and continued eating.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Thalia knew about the whole Artemis business. When she was unexpectedly released from her 'tree-prison', it took only one look at me for Thalia to guess correctly about my relationship with Artemis. Turned out, she had stumbled across Artemis and her hunters one too many times on her way to camp. I was pressured to explain my birth and animosity I had with Artemis to her, to make sure she didn't go spreading it around, and she took it surprisingly well.
She told me how she understood what it was like to not get along with a mother, and she even told me her experiences with her mom in order to ease my doubt. We got along unpredictably fast, and were elevated to best friends by the end of the week.
"So, Thalia, how has camp been lately?" I asked.
"It's been alright, but I seriously think they should improve on those dummies. My Aegis could make a clean cut with no effort whatsoever. It's kind of a pain to clean up all that straw."
"I know what you mean," Percy added, seeing how swordsmanship was up his alley. "Maybe we could ask Chiron or Mr. D about changing them."
"If you guys are going to bring up changes," I started, "the archery arena could also be innovated a bit too."
"Why? Is it getting too easy for you?" Percy teased.
"Easy, and a bit boring," I said honestly, "but of course you wouldn't feel that way."
"What about you guys?" Thalia asked. "Doing anything cool or new lately?"
"I know how to swim now," I said, "if that's your definition of cool."
"Nothing much on my part," Percy said. "Why did you ask?"
"There's this rumor I've been hearing lately," Thalia said quietly, her electric blue eyes becoming serious. "I'm not sure if it's true or not. Gods know I hope it's not true..."
"What is it?" Percy and I asked.
Thalia looked straight at me, her stare kind of frightening. "The Hunters are visiting camp."
"WHAT?!" I shouted, abruptly standing up. Apparently, I was less than discreet when Mrs. Jackson came back to the kitchen, alarmed.
"Is something wrong, my dears?" she asked.
Awkwardly, I sat back down as Percy tried to reassure his mom that nothing was wrong. When she left and was out of earshot, I asked Thalia to clarify what she meant.
"Look, no need to get jumpy! I did say it was only a rumor," Thalia said, trying to calm me down. "I mean, who knows? Maybe they'll decide to skip their annual visit."
"Annual? You mean they've visited camp before? And numerous times?"
Thalia nodded. "It's sort of a tradition. Whenever the hunters visit camp, I heard we always play Capture the Flag- Campers versus Hunters. So far, we haven't managed to beat them once." Thalia clenched her jaw in frustration before she exclaimed, "BUT NOT ANY MORE! This time, we will defeat them! I've got just the plan if those Hunters decide to show up!"
"Sounds like you hold a grudge against them," Percy noted.
Thalia grinned uneasily. "Something like that."
"This is just great," I muttered, resting my forehead against my hands, elbows on the table. "Just when I'm starting to relax and enjoy the peace, this turns up."
"Hey, it can't be that bad," Percy tried to reassure me. "I mean, it'd be kind of cool having Artemis around, right?" He directed his gaze towards Thalia, who nodded back hesitantly. "I never met her. I want to see what she is like."
"Good for you, Percy," I mumbled, "but for me, it's going to be a nightmare. I'm sure of it."
"Has Artemis tried contacting you before?" Thalia asked curiously. "I don't know about you guys, but thunder head hasn't spoken to me or sent me a sign."
"Now that you mention it," Percy started, "my dad has been a mute lately. Unless you count last summer…?"
"I haven't had any contact with Artemis whatsoever since my first year at camp," I said bluntly. "I don't know if she cares or if she decides to talk whenever it amuses her but…I don't care. I really don't want to care anymore."
"You can't possibly 'not care'," Percy said. "You're just angry right now. It's sort of like when I sent Medusa's head to Olympus. I admit I wanted to get my dad's attention, to actually have him prove that he did care for me. Look, Seth, the thing is…you can't always stay angry for long. Artemis is your m-!"
"She is not," I suddenly snapped. "She may be my creator and have power over my life, but She. Is. Not. My. Parent. End of Story. And for your information Perseus..." Percy flinched when I said his full name. "...your situation, touching as it is, is nothing like mine. I want nothing to do with Artemis. Nothing, you hear me?! I wish she would stay out of my business and LEAVE ME ALONE!" I shouted.
With that said, I angrily left the room, suddenly ill at ease. The unwarranted peace I've enjoyed and taken for granted no longer there.
Thalia watched quietly as Seth stormed right past her, slamming the door behind him.
"You know, Percy," she said, risking a look at her cousin, who now looked pale and regretful of what he had said. "There is a thing called tact-!"
"Not now, Thalia," Percy muttered. He sighed and rubbed his forehead in irritation. "He is really pissed off, isn't he?"
"Way to state the obvious."
"That he is," Thalia agreed. "Hey, it's getting a little late for me. I need to get back to camp. Make sure you let him cool off a bit."
"You think I'd confront him? Now? In this state?" Percy said incredulously. He walked with Thalia to the door. "I know I'm not the best at reading the atmosphere, but even I know my limits. I...I shouldn't have mentioned her like that. Not when I knew Seth is...still hurting from what she's done."
Thalia nodded solemnly, "Maybe you're right, but you can't take all the blame, Percy. I noticed the signs, and I could have spoken up to divert the topic too. Even so...we both know Seth is a ticking time bomb these days. We have no idea what we say would pass over him or cause him to blow a fuse. We need to be careful, and at the same time, try to give him the support he needs. It's hard living without a parental guide, Percy, and even harder when that parent is against you."
Percy agreed. "Yeah, I know. I'll see what I can do. Anyway, we'll see you and Annabeth in a few days?"
"Yup! Just bring yourself, Moony Boy, and your fighting skills. This mission will be a piece of cake." Thalia grinned as she stepped outside. "See ya, Kelp Head!"