A/N -are Author's Notes even used anymore? You'll have to excuse me, I'm practically from last century FanFiction. I was very lazy these past few years and never had enough energy to get my ass out of my coffin except to get food :) But one nice evening I found this little plot bunny hopping around my computer, and so I convinced myself I missed my fanfics.

But we'll catch up some other time.

Now, since I'm talking about bringing back old stuff, let's all remember that time in the Percy Jackson series when Luke was still around, being that tortured soul we all loved and hated.

Disclaimer: Oh for the love of cheesecake, you know the story !

It takes him nine tries to make peace with himself.



Massacre never proves easier than when he's pissed and completely alone.

He slashes wildly, madly, in wide arcs and brutal slashes, until he has lost himself in the bloodlust. Sweat quickly becomes the veil that separates him from the world, from the task ahead. The desire to destroy with his sword increases as his unsatisfied state does. He barely becomes aware that he laughs once or twice during this episode.

After all, one cannot spell slaughter without laughter.

"You shouldn't push yourself too hard. You're already over the limit."

The voice claws him out of his madness for a second, and he stops, whirling to the sound. It is a voice Luke knows well, for it has been carved with a knife into his soul.

But where he expects to see an adolescent blond girl, there is a mere toddler. Blond, yes, but much, much smaller. Roughly eight or seven years old, stormy gray eyes, jeans, and an army jacket twenty sizes too big.

It's not possible.

"What the hell….Annabeth?"

Before the little girl can answer, another voice is carried by his ragged breathing.

"Oh, great, Annabeth. We were supposed to come quietly, not scare him half to death. You're freaking him out."

It's female, he's sure, but the timbre is rather lower, older. It has this level of authority and the true tone of a leader. But hearing her speak is even more unlikely than seeing a seven year old Annabeth. Still, he asks anyways. Perhaps He is playing some kind of trick on his scarred mind.


The intonation is pathetic, lame. It suggests weakness, something he is forbidden to afford. It implies longing, a feeling he thought had been buried alive. Worst of all, it makes hope evident indirectly. Hope had been dismembered in him, too, he believed. A sigh echoes through the arena, and a black-haired girl stands in front of him, her arms crossed, and her signature annoyed glare right where she'd left it, as if she hadn't been dead for five years.

"What?" She demands. "You've forgotten about me so soon?"

"And I'm the one making a scene? Psh, you're all for theatrics." The little blond one complains.

"Oh, shush." A smoky form of Thalia snaps. "You started it, anyway."

"But how—?" he tries to ask while watching their banter.

Annabeth's face falls slightly, but she continues her conversation with Thalia. "I didn't think he'd be so baffled to see us."

Luke whirls around again to the sound of her, feeling silly.

But seeing still the seven year old Annabeth, he feels crazy.

"Well I thought so." Thalia walks over to stand beside Annabeth. "He probably thinks he's gone crazy, though."

"He already has." The blond girl points out. "Just look at him."

"How can you be here? How—how is it possible? You're dead." He says the last sentence to Thalia resentfully, but she doesn't appear to be offended.

"I am." She agrees, limiting herself to nod. "So we're not really here. Like you said, it's not possible."

"Then why—who are you?!" He frowns in distress.

Annabeth steps closer, fixing him with her gray stare. Her golden hair curls around and fades to a gray suspension of nothing at the ends. She isn't real, she can't be. But the attitude and spirit in her sounds so convincing, it's quite enough to fool him.

"We're you." She says. "Your conscience."

Thalia snorts. "That sounds so cliché, Annabeth. What she means to say is that we're here because you brought us."

"My conscience? I didn't bring you here. You can't be real."

"Well, no." The one in black explains as her blue eyes dart around Luke's face. "We're not the real Annabeth and Thalia. We're just the version your mind has of them."

"Your subconscious brought us here. Which means you did." Annabeth chimes in.

"I'm going crazy."

Annabeth smiles. "Oh, but you already are. The fact that you're seeing your own conscience doesn't have anything to do with that."

He shakes his head, turning his back on them. "Go away before somebody sees you."

He turns back when he hears Thalia laugh. "Who's going to see us? We're you!"

"They can't see us any more than we can go away." Annabeth shrugs.

"Why not?" He asks irritably. "Just came back the way you came from. I don't have time for this!"

Thalia's blue eyes throw flames. He finds he still has the reflex to step back whenever he sees her angry, even if she's just a figment of his imagination. "Well then make time! For the love of Zeus, Luke. There's something very wrong with you! Did it ever occur to you that that's the reason we're here?"

Immediately, he knows what she's talking about, and he answers just as angrily.

"There's nothing wrong with me. It's the West that's wrong."

"You stopped listening to us, and started listening to him. That's wrong." Annabeth speaks firmly, sternly.

"And maybe you noticed that we're nothing more than blurry images, too. We're not supposed to be, because as we fade, you conscience does. And you can't be human without a conscience, Luke." Thalia warns.

"No! He has all the answers. He's helped me!"

Annabeth shakes her head. "He's not doing it for you. He just wants power. Don't be his pawn, Luke."

The demigod glares at her. "Oh, I'm the pawn now? You should consider taking your own advice."

"Luke, listen to me. Heck, listen to yourself." Thalia pleads. "You know what you're doing isn't right. You know it, you just won't admit it."

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not wrong. The gods let you die! They don't care."

Annabeth turns on him, her body wallows, flickering with smoke. "Don't do it. Don't kill Percy. He's innocent, Luke. If you kill him, you're no better than the gods."

Luke shakes his head. "You just don't understand. You don't understand anything at all." With that, he wishes with all his might for them to be gone. Who needs them anyway?

Thalia glares at him, disappointed. "I don't think you understand either. But hey, we're just your conscience. Don't listen to us. It's not like you ever do. Come on, Annabeth."


"No. Come on. He's made his choice."

Annabeth lets herself be pulled by Thalia into thin air, leaving Luke to rid the image on his head.

Just my imagination, he thinks grimly . With that, he resumes his fighting. He doesn't have much time left.

And then, mid-swing, he catches a glimpse of raven hair. A boy about twelve stands awkwardly to the side, his sword in hand. Perfect.


The demigod looks at him, embarrassed. "Um, sorry. I just—"

"It's okay." He lowers his sword, smiling. "Just doing some last-minute practice."

"Those dummies won't be bothering anyone anymore."

Neither will you. "We build new ones every summer." He shrugs.

The silence creeps in between them, and Luke watches the boy carefully, glad that he has gained his trust. He smiles as he sees him gaping at the sword he carries. "Oh, this? New toy. This is Backbiter."


He turns the blade in the light, intimidating him. "One side is celestial bronze. The other is tempered steel. Works on mortals and immortals both."

"I didn't know they could make weapons like that."

Bile swims through Luke's mouth, but he continues to smile. "They probably can't. It's one of a kind." He takes a deep breath, ignoring a small burning on the back of his neck. "Listen, I was going to come looking for you. What do you say we go down to the woods one last time, look for something to fight?"

He tries his best to sound convincing, but he still sees Percy hesitate. "You think it's a good idea? I mean—"

"Aw, come on." He is not surprised at how easily he has slipped into character. He's had a lot of practice. "Drinks are on me."

The son of Poseidon glances at the cokes longingly. Luke can almost see his willpower crumbling. "Sure," He decides. "Why not?"

Why indeed?

But as they walk down to the woods, something—the heat, possibly—makes him…shudder. It's something strange, perhaps excitement. No, not really. It feels almost like hesitation as he sees Percy stride beside him in silence, Annabeth's words vibrating like funeral music in his ears.

He's innocent, Luke. If you kill him, you're no better than the gods.

Exhilaration it is not. Nor hesitation, anticipation or even nervousness. It's a stranger, colder feeling. Something that reeks, pressing in the back of his mind. He knows it, he knows the name. Moral anguish. The words just taste like vinegar as his mind says them. It's bitter regret.

It's remorse.



He knows Zeus is throwing a tantrum for his actions; he gets it. The rain pours down heavily, making him shiver as if his bones are feeling the freaking below-zero temperature right now. He strides, manifesting the purpose of betrayal in his step. Up the hill he goes, like a satirized children's song. The stringy, pale blond hair flattens around his forehead, like it's giving him the devil's blessing with the tears of a father who watches her daughter as she is betrayed. Stabbed right in her chest.

"Speaking of stabbing, you really are going to do this, aren't you?"

He turns his head to the left, and sees a black-haired girl walking beside him, a frown on her lips. Instead of answering, he decides to mock her—mock himself, really—by playing along with his hallucination. "Where's Annabeth?"

"She's right there, next to Thalia's pine tree." She points at the small, silhouetted figure. "And we're not hallucinations, you know."

He sighs, upset. So much so, he even notices how the image of Thalia has changed with some time. Her leather jacket is now torn, ragged, and scorched. Her hair's a mess. You can even see a bruise, bright red and cheerful, lurking under her neck. "What happened to you?"

She looks down at herself. "Why don't you tell me? You're the one who did this, after all."

"I didn't do anything. Out of my way."

He finds he cannot push past her, because she goes up in smoke as he shoves her to the side. She rematerializes in front of him, but it's Annabeth who speaks now. "You do know you're disgracing her, don't you?"

Luke grumbles about them not knowing a thing.

"Oh, we know all about that 'master plan' of yours. My condolences, Luke. It's not as brilliant as you think. You know that if she comes back, she'll be wanting to murder you."

"That's not true! She'll join me. She'll….she'll see I'm right."

Thalia shrugs. "Don't say I didn't warn you. It sucks, but it's my job. I'm your freaking awareness."

Luke turns on her for the slightest second. It's enough to stare.

Both girl and child stand on the hill, looking tired and sleepy and hurt. Thalia holds Annabeth's hand, fearing to let go. They both have a disappointed expression, a kind of shame that can be read clearly. He frowns, noticing that strange longing for those days in his heart. And then he reminds himself that that is the exact same reason why he's doing it.

"Then do us both a favor and leave. I don't need either of you."

"And yet here we are. You brought us back again." The blond girl insists. This makes Luke sigh.

"Look, I don't want you here. Why the hell would I bring you back?"

Thalia snorts. "You still don't get it, do you? There's something in the back of your mind screaming at you not to do this! Well, I've got news for you. That's us. And of course you don't want us here—nobody wants to be told what's wrong and what's right—but you need us anyway. I told you, you can't be human without us. So what's it gonna be?"

Lightning washes over the scar on Luke's face. He's going crazy, he knows he is. With a dagger on one hand and a vial of elder Python venom in the other, he realizes it's not the rain playing a trick on him.

It's his mind.

"Whatever you are, I'm not listening to you. You're fiction."

So he turns to that which resembles a beautiful, strong tree. Without a second thought, he lets his hand fly at the bark, and the thunder gladly covers the sickening snap. Then, before he's able to hesitate, he empties the vial into the puncture wound. The lovely gurgling sound of death reaches his ears.

Luke drops to his knees, breathing heavily, staring at the murder in his hands. He barely hears Thalia utter a warning.

"Let's talk about this in a year; see how real we feel then."

He doesn't turn. He doesn't want to talk. He doesn't need a pep talk. He doesn't need that particular part of himself which is giving it to him.

So he tries his best to ignore them.

Behind him, Annabeth stirs uneasily. She watches weeds with thorns wrap around her wrists, tightening painfully with each vicious thought Luke directs toward them. A new bruise appears over Thalia's cheekbone. Her nose begins to bleed. But Luke pays no mind.

He knows he's insulting Thalia's memory by bringing her back. What he ignores, though, is much more complicated. With every blow against his common sense, the smoke figures of Annabeth and Thalia die a little.

Thalia's tree is not the only thing he's killing.



"You're just going to walk away?"

Her voice echoes through the nearly empty mountain. The vision of a thirteen year old Annabeth stares at the real one, who's currently otherwise engaged. She doesn't even bother to glance at Luke.

"I have to."

By now, he's not surprised to see her there, almost as if she were real. He's used to the bruises, the cuts, the rips in her clothing. He's used to ignore her as much as he can just because she's gradually becoming unfamiliar to him. He glances back at the real Annabeth, now suffering under the weight of the black sky. He can tell she's screaming profanity at him.

That doesn't mean he actually hears it.

"You don't." His conscience counters. "You can go ahead and do the right thing. Save her, Luke. It's not too late yet."

Throughout the months, he's been able to handle less and less this conversations with himself. He can just close his eyes for a few moments and pretend that Thalia's and Annabeth's voices are not just his subconscious feeling pity for him. But then he looks at their smoky images, and he wants to die. They're just a part of him.

A part he's working hard to get rid of.

"No." He says with finality. "They're all wrong . They have to pay for that. And if that means getting rid of my humanity, so be it."

He turns on his heel, walking away from Annabeth's pain, indicating he's closed that matter. Still, his conscience follows his steps, refusing to be forgotten alongside his family. By the time Luke notices her face, she's crying.

"Look at her. Just turn around to glance. You can't just stand there and listen to her screaming. She didn't do anything to deserve this, and you know it."

But he's not breaking. "What's the difference? They'll all be dead if they don't join me. I'm actually making her a favor."

The girl shakes her head. "Thalia'll never agree to it. Especially when she finds out what you've done to Annabeth."

"Then she'll have to die, too."

She raises her eyebrows at him. "Would you really do that? Dare to kill her, I mean?"

He doesn't answer. Instead, he keeps walking. He's been considering himself as a murderer lately. But never Thalia's. It's a matter he doesn't want to give thought to.

"This is wrong, Luke."

He looks to his other side, only to find the smoky version of Thalia walking beside him. "You, too?"

She sighs. "You're having second thoughts about this. You still have a sense of right."

"I'm not having second thoughts!"

"Oh, really? Why are we here, then?"

"Because I—"

"No, it's not because you're cracking under stress." Annabeth interrupts. "You can't lie to yourself, Luke."

"Didn't you ever hear that human beings are able to cheat their own minds?"

"Oh, please. If it were so easy, we wouldn't be here burdening you." Thalia scoffs.

"Besides," Annabeth adds, "you lose that ability as you lose your humanity."

"What do I need humanity for? I'm not completely human, anyway." He grumbles.

Annabeth raises her eyebrows again. "You're really willing to lose your own essence?"

"You said you were my conscience. Why don't you tell me?" His tone is cold, sarcastic.

They stay silent for a minute, and Luke appreciates the quiet.

"I guess…" Annabeth begins to say, "A part of you is…sometimes. But that's definitely not me."

"Or me." Thalia adds in that grumpy tone that makes Luke shudder because it's so close to the original.

"Interesting, how you think of yourselves as individuals. And here I was thinking we were all the same person."

"We are." Annabeth agrees. "But you've torn yourself apart over the years, Luke. You can't expect this part of you—the one that believes it has a family—to go ahead and also join the Titans."

Thalia nods gravely. "Now, maybe for the most part you believe in whatever crap Kronos told you. And yet we exist. A conscience exists in all demigods who've joined you and your cause. We're just a graphic example."

Luke is quiet for a minute, not knowing what to say. At last, he decides on subtly asking for reassurance. "So all those kids talk with their….with you?"

"Not exactly." Annabeth purses her lips. "Not like you talk to yourself, anyway. But they do feel something in their minds. Instinct, you might say. It's what tells them that they miss their families. That they're wasting away, working for someone who wants merely power. But their awareness wins over their subconscious. They never listen."

Luke loses himself in her words, spiraling down into a part of his mind that has become uncharted territory. The part where his feelings towards Camp Half-Blood dwell. Where he doesn't have to trap Annabeth under the sky, and where Thalia is alive and well and healthy. Where he can lie down and do nothing for hours on end, because there is nobody bossing him around, telling him to betray his friends and trick his own family into taking a deadly burden from him.

And for a moment there, he believes it , and Thalia and Annabeth become more solid, tangible. For a moment they glow with health. For a moment, his conscience is real inside of him.

For a moment, he's human.

But then, he realizes all the nonsense that had filled him just then, and he growls at both girls. He's trembling with anger.

"I'm glad they don't listen. Otherwise, the West would continue to rot away, with no one to stop it. Oh, no. I won't let them accept this," he gestures in front of him, signaling the smoky figures, "pathetic part of themselves. We cannot be allowed to have one."

His words, as if they'd been bullets, catch Thalia in the chest and she falls over, shivering. Her skin goes completely white. She begins to convulse on the floor, smoke riveting around her. Annabeth kneels over her, shooting a resentful stare that he doesn't see or chooses to ignore. In a flash, they're gone, and Luke knows he's well on his way to getting rid of them.

One down, one to go.



He walks out of the Labyrinth furtively, as if he's some thief and not a demigod coming 'home'. He looks at the forest, noticing nothing much has changed since he left. The musty smell of the woods, the creek running nearby, the monsters growling. It makes his insides twist and turn with anger. He wants to walk up and stab the dryads, kill the monsters, and dry the creek. Not tonight, though. Tonight he blends in like one more shadow that has fallen upon Camp Half-Blood.

"You came back."

"Of course." He smiles charmingly. His heart's not into it, but his body might as well be. "I missed you too much."

"You're sweet."

He closes the distance between them with a kiss he doesn't really feel. For a daughter of Aphrodite, she's being awfully unobservant about these things. Sure, Silena is not kissing a rock, but he doesn't actually love her, either. Hell no. He just does it for fun. For the immediate relief. To keep her happy enough so she continues to report to him. He's got to give the girl some credit. Without her, he wouldn't be one step ahead of Percy Jackson at all. He grips her hair and pushes her against a rock.

"Have you had enough, Luke?"

It's not Silena's voice. It's Thalia's. He opens his eyes and for a moment there he sees her instead of Silena. She's smirking up at him while he has her trapped against a wall in a very unchaste way. He panics, and lets go immediately. He shakes his head. He's hallucinating again. Everything about this is sick. It's wrong. He blinks several times.

"Luke? Is something wrong?"

There's Aphrodite's daughter again, clothes and hair in disarray. "No, it—it's fine." And he resumes his kissing.

Just when he begins to take her shirt off, Silena's straight brown hair morphs into spiky black. "You're taking advantage of her."

"So what if I am?"

"What if you're what?" Silena asks between breaths, holding on to him. He falls to the ground, pulling her down with him, and silences her again.

She's been lying down in her underwear for not two minutes when she morphs into Thalia again, just as he's kissing her. She bites him, and he pulls away with a grunt of pain. "What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to warn you," Thalia glowers, "that this is a bad idea."

"Won't you just leave me alone?"

She shrugs. "Can't. I told you—"

"Okay, okay, whatever. It's not like I never thought of you this way." He confesses as he pins her white arms down. Maybe it's time he took advantage, literally, of his delusions. Yet she smirks again and her figure vanishes.

"I should hope so." Silena reappears in pink lace. "We've been doing this for weeks."

To be perfectly honest he's a bit more rough with her than usual. But she keeps morphing into Thalia and he feels guilty and in any case Silena's not complaining. He only stops when he can't get rid of Thalia's image, even when his eyes are closed. He looks up, startled and panting and thoroughly miserable.

Silena picks up on the change in his mood. She attempts to soothe him by placing a hand on his shoulder. "Nobody's going to hear us, Luke. It's okay."

But then it's not anymore and it'll never be again. Because when he looks back at her it's not Silena. It's not Thalia, either.

"Is it, really?" A smoky figure of Annabeth wonders aloud, completely calm under his weight. "How is it okay if you're hurting your best friends and you're fine with it?"

He leaps up and backs away from her, half naked.

"Stop!" he roars, gripping the bark nearest to him for support. He honestly can't take it any longer. They're driving him off his rocker with their taunts. "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

He sees the ghost of Thalia's face which quickly disappears. He hears Annabeth's cruel laughter bouncing off the trees like a sinister echo.

"You are alone."



He sits on a plush sofa with a hand placed to his temple. The other grips the armrest.

He has a headache.

Growling, he rubs the vein with two fingers as if to soothe his blood. Ideally, he wouldn't be complaining about puny things such as the splitting pain in his head. He's recently broken every bone in his body. He nearly bled to death next to a very scenic view of the raging ocean. He's been humiliated in front of his whole army by a girl. And not just any girl, but Thalia freaking Grace. He'd watched Percy Jackson arrive to help Annabeth as if she needed protection. From him. Luke wanted to have his hands around the boy's neck right then. He had no right to Annabeth or Thalia. They were his and his only.

Problem was, they didn't seem to like it.

"Well I'd go talk to Annabeth, if I were you."

Luke glances upward from the floor to find his blond nightmare sitting on the couch in front of him. He scoffs. "You are me."


And only then he really looks at her. She's taken the form of the fourteen-year-old self in ripped jeans and a tattered orange shirt that once was his. She's bruised and cut in several places. Her blood runs down her arms and vanishes up in smoke just before it hits the floor. She looks tired, an aura of weariness hangs around her, threatening to crush her bones. He knows firsthand how that feels. Still, he doesn't want to feel sorry for this particular part of himself.

"Oh, I don't mind." Annabeth assures him. "I don't have much love for this other part of you, either."

He deflects the comment. He doesn't need to be so aware that he's tearing himself apart from the inside out. "Thalia?"

"Which one?"

He sighs. "The real one."

"I think you know."

A cold needle picks at his heart. "So the rumors are true."

"They're not rumors, Luke. They told you straight out. The fact you don't want to believe them….well, that's another thing entirely. I, for one, do believe what they said."

"She's joined the Hunt."

He's dreaded this moment. She, Annabeth, was right. A part of him knew it was true, that Thalia was gone forever. That she had left him and that she was never coming back. However, all of him missed her just the same. "And the other Thalia?"

Annabeth's answer frightens him. "She's gone."

"Gone? What do you mean, 'gone'? Gone where?"

The girl frowns. "I know as much as you do. She didn't come back when I called her. I guess you could say she's dead."

Luke freezes in place. He doesn't know what to make of the news. For one, he's relieved he's gotten rid of half this silly side of him, but…

Annabeth interrupts this thought, snapping at him. "Oh, don't even bother to start feeling sorry for yourself."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize to me. I told you, you should go talk to Annabeth."

"I am," he insists.

She cracks a small smile. "I mean the real one. Come on. Maybe we can convince her to listen to us. We remember her for her compassion."

"So you're saying she'll forgive me?"

The blond shrugs. "Hey, I'm the idea you have of her. I'm the version of Annabeth as you want to remember her. I'm not saying it's accurate, though. I'm saying it's worth a shot."

Her voice slowly drives some of the fear from his soul. Annabeth is his only chance. He has to make her listen, otherwise he'll no longer be Luke, and that frightens him more than he's able to admit. He's willing to set things right with her, to say he's sorry, to be best friends once more.

He even bothers to dress up a little.

For her.



He's been wiping stray tears from his cheeks all the way long, but no, he's not crying. Not in front of a whole army of monsters, anyway. And with him as their leader? Forget it.

So he left Annabeth's house looking like a wreck, what about it? He's fine now. He doesn't need her or that stupid cologne he put on just to seem more presentable. Damn her. Ever since then, he decides he can use women for one purpose only. The purpose. The only one that matters, anyway. He's got the looks, and they tell them he's good at it, so why not? Better yet, there are no ridiculous feelings involved. It's just the wonderful sense of immediate relief, not a whole damn process.

"Sir," a dracaenae approaches him slowly. "Maybe it will be better if we help. We don't want you—"

"No!" He snaps. "I don't want anyone touching these waters. If any of you dare, you'll pay dearly, I assure you. Am I understood?"

There's a general murmur of assent amongst the monstrous crowd. "Yes, sir."

"Good." He steps forward...

"Son of Hermes!"

Luke turns, irritated. "Now what?"

But it's not any of his soldiers. And he realizes the collective gasp from the army means he's not the only one seeing a Greek soldier running toward him. He shivers. No more ghosts, he thinks.

"Oh, yes," the guy says as he reaches him. "More ghosts. Unfortunately I'm not here to haunt you."

"Then don't and go away." Luke says coldly, realizing who this is. "I will not heed your warning, Achilles."

The army gasps again. They begin muttering amongst themselves. "Achilles?"

"What is he doing here?"

"His heel looks pretty wounded to me..."

"Good enough to eat, even if he is dead..."

"Quiet!" Luke barks. "Quiet, all of you."

Achilles sighs. "And here I thought you were reconsidering your position, Luke. A shame, really."

"Why would you think that?" Luke mocks him. "You don't even know me."

"No, I don't," he agrees with a smile. "But a little birdie told me..."

In an instant, a smoky blond figure appears next to the Greek, waving at Luke, grinning.

Luke growls, "You."

"Oh, yes. Her." Achilles laughs. "Ghosts have a sixth sense, you see. And I sense your doubt. Your fear."

"I have no fear." He says defiantly. He will NOT be embarrassed in front of his army. "And I don't care what she's told you. I'm not reconsidering anything."

He steps into the river, already too much in pain to notice the water instantly burning him like acid. His knees collapse and the current swirls him around.

"You did kind of force her to forgive you." A billowing Annabeth reflects, gliding along beside him. She looks more surreal now than ever, now that he can barely see her legs through all that smoke. "Practically gave her no choice at all."

"If I'd given her no choice," Luke grumbles sarcastically, "she would've had to come with me."

The girl sighs. "And yet you underestimated her. You never thought she'd dare to refuse you."

"That's because she hadn't until then." He hisses, getting a sharp pang in his head. "She would've done anything to save me at one point in her life."

"She did everything to try, Luke. You were the one to refuse her help." The blond reflects. She looks at him with those sad eyes. "She isn't loyal to you anymore."

"No," he agrees, refusing to admit how much those words hurt. Judging by Annabeth's expression, though, he's sure she can tell. "No, she thinks that Jackson clown can do something to save the camp."

"And you don't?" she asks incredulously. "Annabeth's smart. And in any case she sticks with the people she loves. Are you sure you're not just jealous that Percy's doing at least something right?"

"Do not say his name!" He bellows. "I've had enough of the kid. I've had enough of the world."

The blond smiles without much energy. "Maybe it's the other way around."

If he hadn't been before, he's crying now for sure.

For those of you who can count, I do realize I said NINE. :)

So stick around for part two, and feel free to PM or review your frustration.