I whirled around-which was not easy when you're on top of a volcano about to plummet to your death- and saw Artemis staring at me, disbelief written all over her face.
"I, uh, nothing," I stuttered, glancing down at St. Mount Helens. Suddenly, getting turned into a rabbit and getting hunted down by Artemis sounded very good.
I racked my brain for insults, "Geez, women after me again," I tried to sound arrogant, but I'm afraid it wasn't working out so well. "So weak. Even you couldn't stand my amazing charm, now could you, Artemis? That's how awesome I am!"
Her face was red in anger, and she raised her hand. I quickly bent down to untie the last loop, and heard, "WHAT ON LADY NYX, PERSEUS!?"
I fell down, down, down, and the last thing I saw was the flaming hot lava bubbling in anticipation. The last thing I felt was fire, fire all over skin, burning it, scorching hot flames, killing me.
"Get up, Perseus," A soft voice said. It sounded like Annabeth, maybe it was Annabeth? No, Annabeth had dumped me for Wendy. My heart bled (not literally!) with pain and sorrow.
A voice shook me out of my daze, "Please Perseus," the mystery voice pleaded. "Wake up. You've been motionless for 3 and half days. Nico-you remember him?- and Thalia-remember her?- they've been frantic with worry. You're all they've got, actually." The voice mused. It sounded like soft waves gently lapping the shore. What? I'm the son the Sea God, for Hades's sake. Almost everything I think relates to the sea.
"Truthfully, I never liked Nico D'Angelo. He reminds me of sad, sad days, days when my hunters' died, day's when bad things happened. But sometimes I look at him and you, and how easy both of you look together, how, how, natural. You're not even related by blood! Apollo and I were never like that, and probably never can be.
"When I heard about him liking you, I was shocked. I, along with everyone else, thought he liked Annabeth. But no. He liked you. But then again, who doesn't like you? I started noticing small things, like how Nico brightened up when you talked to him. Or smiled when he saw you happy. He hurt Annabeth pretty bad, when he found out, you know. Wendy could hardly do anything, except sit there and watch. Then, he started loving Thalia. I was very worried. He liked you, how could he like Thalia? But it happened. Love blossomed. I guess I'm just too dumb to realize it.
"But I loved someone once, too. Orion. Yes, yes, that Orion. Your brother. It just, I don't know, happened. The love I felt for him, was different than any other kind. Every time I kissed him, -yes, I have been kissed- I felt fire boiling inside of me. Flames in every part of my body. When he whispered sweet things in my ear, I shivered with pleasure. But I was scared. I was scared, what would happen when my father found out? My hunters? My hunters didn't dare look at boys, and yet their leader was kissing one. And then the huntress came along.
"Phoebe. She had stumbled into our camp, her white gown tattered and torn, her legs and hands covered in blood, tears falling from her face. She ran to me and said she was raped. 'By whom?' I had asked, my hands curling around my bow, ready to kill the male. Her answer wiped away my anger, however and replaced it with shock. 'Orion.' I had wanted to slap her for playing such a cruel joke on me, run away from all this, run away with Orion.
"But I couldn't. I knew that." The voice had turned miserable but there was a tint of anger and regret in her tone. "More and more maidens came into my camp, bruised and dirty. Orion was more occupied with 'other things' as he told me." The voice was definitely mad now.
"I went to ask him about it. He denied everything! The nerve! We had more fights that any usual couple would have in a month in a day. We fought, and made up. For two months, the raping continued, our fighting continued, our making up continued, and we both still loved each other. Our love survived.
"Then Apollo came in. I killed Orion, without knowing it was him. I killed him." The voice cracked, and the person started sobbing. I wanted to get up, comfort her, but I couldn't. I felt like a strong barrier was holding me down. I couldn't do anything, but I could feel everything.
She cleared her throat, "I hated Apollo after that. He couldn't understand why I was so upset. Funnily, it was Aphrodite who helped me through all this. And Hera. The Goddesses of love and family. Why not? Aphrodite has always understood me. She never liked me-the feeling was mutual- but even now, she cares for me. Like I care for her.
"I don't know why I'm telling you all this, Perseus. I trust you. I don't know why, and it scares me, it scares me. I haven't felt like this for anyone since Orion, and now, now, I think I'm falling in love. With you.
"You're so trustable, so kind, and so wonderful. You're the prince of every girl's dreams. The knight in shining armor. Your eyes would be guarded, or very open. They'd flash when you're angry. They would dim when you are sad. I can't help myself, but notice everything about you. And now, I don't know how or even what to feel. Love is so complex, like a twisted maze with dangers and it'd keep on and on. Going deeper and deeper.
"But I'm the maiden goddess! The Goddess of anti-love! And here I am, here I am, falling in love with my uncle's son! My own cousin! But God's don't have DNA, now do they? The weird thing, Perseus? I fell for Orion, your brother, and now I'm falling for you. What is it with Poseidon and me?
"I don't even know you, Perseus," the voice sounded confused. "How do I fall in love with someone I don't know?" A tired sigh. "Just get up, Perseus. For Nico and Thalia, and, and me. We all love you, in our different ways. All I hope is that you love me too. Or hate me. So I can move on, be myself. So I can cease to love you." The last part was said very quietly, and I could just barely hear her.
I heard a door close softly, and the weight lifted. I opened my eyes, and instinctively cringed, expecting bright light. But no- silver flames blazing in random corners cast a faint glow around the room. The room looked oval-shaped, and there was a dark peacock green curtain separating the inside from the outside. The curtain swished to one side, and I uncapped Riptide, which was somehow already in my hand.
Nico's worried onyx eyes bore into mine, "Percy? You okay?"
I sighed, running my hands through my already messy hair. "I don't know. Who was it in my room right now?"
Nico looked relived, "Artemis. She saved you, you know. That reminds me," Nico glared at me. "What the Hades were you thinking, Percy, when you went up to that damned volcano?"
"Umm," I stuttered, "Nothing?"
"No shit, Sherlock! Do you know how worried I've been! And Thalia-and Thalia-" Nico choked, not saying anything else. But I could see pain and hurt in his onyx eyes.
"What happened, Nico?" I questioned. "What did Thalia do?"
He swallowed, "Maybe she did nothing. Maybe I did something. Did you ever think of that?"
"Shut up, Nico D'Angelo. Tell me what the hell happened, now."
Nico sighed in surrender, "Fine. I was over my head, worried about you. So Thalia thought, she thought," he took a deep breath. "She thought what happened ever since I met you and had stopped, had started again."
Slowly it dawned onto me. "Oh, Nico," I whispered. "Oh Zeus, I'm so sorry! Gods, this is all my fault," I dropped my head into my hands, ashamed of myself.
I felt a gentle hand pat my shoulder. "It's fine, Perce. Grover has it all in control," I could imagine Nico rolling his eyes. "Anyways, I guess we just weren't meant to be." He tried to keep his voice steady, but I could sense the underlying misery in his voice.
I squared my shoulders, and stoop up. And promptly fell back on the bed again.
"Lay down," Nico said, his shoulders shaking with silent laughter. "You're weak; you haven't eaten anything. And," He hesitated, "someone's here to see you."
I turned my head around so fast, I was sure my neck went pop. "Wendy?"
"Do I look like someone else?" She answered, trying to joke. I raised an eyebrow; the girl looked like hell. Her clothes were tattered and torn, and her arms were filled with scratches. There was a healing purple bruise on her left cheek.
"What the hell happened to you?!"
"Me?" Wendy asked innocently. "Nothing. I've had worse. But your ex-girlfriend?" She grew more serious, "She's cracked, Percy. Mad. Mental. Gone Psycho. Whatever you choose."