God, how long has it been since I've updated this thing? Three months? I'm so, so sorry. Most of my summer was spent away from home and my computer with the exception of a few days when I had absolutely no inspiration for Percy Jackson.
It didn't help that this chapter was such a pain in the a** to write. Honestly, I've rewritten this thing so many times already I'm absolutely sick of it. Hell, I even considered skipping the part with Luke completely and getting on with writing the chapters before the Sea of Monsters but then again it would be like a major plot-hole.
Hopefully, the next chapter or two, which would take place when Andre is not at Camp will be easier to write because I've been planning them for quite awhile. But then again it is usually the chapters I can't wait to write which don't come out right and annoy the heck out of me.
Anyway, some translations from Ancient Greek before the chapter:
agorá – a plaza, a gathering place
nothos - bastard
Daughter of Broken Vows
Staring at the roof of my room in the Big House in camp Half-Blood, I found myself once again unable to sleep. While I loved Camp and all its quirks, all I could think about was the few days I had spent with Sally after the end of the quest. Instead of diminishing it, the time spent at home had only intensified the longing for creaky old bed in my room, the loose floor-board right in front of the door I always tripped over and the smell of sugar filling the air as soon as Sally returned from work, looking tired but always having a warm smile and a bag of sweet goodies for me. At home I could pretend I was still the same girl I had been two months ago – Andre Jackson, an orphan and a rebel, whose biggest problem was getting kicked out of school again. That girl had thought heroes didn't exist and the monster under the bed was nothing more than a child's vivid imagination.
I knew better now, much to my regret. I would do almost anything to be able to pull the wool back over my eyes and imagine the last couple of months had been nothing but a dream, even though I knew I couldn't. Even if it was only for Grover and Annabeth who in the course of ten days had become dearer to me than any friend I had had before. Though I guess almost dying together does bring people closer.
It had taken me Herculean effort to tear myself away from Sally and the illusion of normalcy and make my way towards Camp, but I had managed it if only to unravel the mystery of the last part of the prophesy, which – so far – had been left unaddressed. Even now if I closed my eyes I could see the Oracle in front of me, mummified mouth opened, green mist pouring out, taking the shape of great snake hissing and spitting in my direction.
You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend. The raspy, cracking voice swirled around my head like a living thing, making goosebumps appear over my skin even now so long after the actual encounter. That line, possibly the most frightening one out of the whole prophesy, refused to leave the forefront of my mind since the first night after the end of the quest. When the adrenaline had finally evaporated and the realization it was over had settled in, I had finally had the opportunity to rethink every that had happened during the quest. While the rest of the prophesy had started to make sense, it was that line which still hung over my head like the sword of Damocles, waiting for the right moment to crack my skull open. And I was particularly fond of the wholeness of my skull.
Sighing for possibly a hundredth time that night, I threw the covers off myself, dressing quickly and descending the stairs as quietly as possible as not to alert Chiron and his super hearing.
Cool, slightly damp air washed over me as I walked out of the front door and into the night. The Camp was utterly silent as I stalked through it, the only light coming from the last embers of the pyre on which our shrouds had been burned. Apparently demigods were not very optimistic creatures, having prepared funeral shrouds for us the moment we had left the Camp borders. Mine was made by Apollo's cabin and I would have felt bad for watching it burn if it hadn't been for the blatant pessimism at simply keeping the thing.
Without my knowledge, my feet had led me in the direction of the huge fire-pit which took up the middle of the agora the cabins outlined. My sneakers were silent as I approached, spying the figure of Hestia sitting in the middle of the red-hot flames, stroking the fire to life with a long wooden stick. My anger at her had simmered down during the quest and I found that I had missed the goddess and her hot chocolate. Part of me rebelled against my attachment to her, the words of Medusa echoing in my ears. Don't let the Olympians turn you into their plaything, Andronica. But it seemed my resolve not to trust the gods was crumbling when faced with Hestia's warmth eyes and motherly care.
The goddess did not indicate sensing my presence but I knew she had felt my approach. Knowing the flames would not hurt me in her presence I stepped over the stone border which circled the hearth and sat in front of her, reveling the warmth of the fire.
"I missed you, my Lady." I admitted as she smiled at me, accepting the customary cup of chocolate which had appeared out of nowhere.
"You did well, Andronica." Hestia told me, burning eyes studying me with frightening intensity. "But you do not seem at peace, my dear." It was a statement rather than a question and I bit my lip, wondering exactly how much I wanted to reveal. I wanted to tell her about Kronos and the pit, about my conversations with Hades and Apollo and the traitor at Camp but I stayed my tongue before the words could spew out of my mouth. Not for the lack of trust though. Against my better judgment I trusted Hestia, but I did not wish to put her in the uncomfortable situation of having to lie to Zeus and the rest of the Olympian council.
"I am not." I admitted quietly, sipping my drink and staring into the flames. "But I do not wish to talk about it now." She accepted my answer without a comment, still not tearing her eyes away from me. Feeling uncomfortable and much younger than I was, I leaned back in a half lying position, looking at the goddess through my lashes. "Can you tell me what it was like before the gods came into power?"
There was a pause and I waited with bated breath, fearing I might have upset the goddess with my question. But after a while she did start talking, voice soft and quiet despite the horrifying images the tale beget in my mind. I listened silently until, without my permission my eyes started to close and my body relaxed, lulled by the timbre of the goddess' voice.
I did not realize I had fallen asleep until my eyes snapped open again several hours later. The fire still burned around and beneath me though Hestia was nowhere to be seen. In the distance I could see the sun rising above the sea, washing the world in red and gold.
Pushing myself to my feet I grimaced as my bones cracked and groaned, still not completely recovered from the times spent sleeping on the ground during the quest. Gods, a few more similar adventures and I'll probably be able to predict the weather from the pain in my knees, like I'd seen some grandmothers do.
I was about to start my walk back to the Big House, when I caught movement with the corner of my eye. Frowning I turned my attention towards the lone figure making their way across the sleeping Camp, in the direction of the forest, the hood of their jacket pulled up to conceal their face. Suspicion gnawing at my insides I followed, silent as I could, while cursing myself and every deity I knew for leaving my weapons in my room last night. How could I be so stupid, I do not know, especially when I knew there was a traitor among the demigods.
Of course, my weaponless state did not deter me from my self-appointed task of following the person, whom at closer look I identified as Luke Castelan – my main suspect.
I had to stifle a groan when he disappeared into the forest, which made following him so much harder. I knew he would hear me the moment I walked in the woods – demigods had stronger senses than mortals and the dry leaves and stick strewn across the forest floor would surely crack and crunch beneath my feet, even with Artemis' abilities to move quietly in the wild.
Resigned, I took a few steps back and launched myself up, grasping a lower hanging branch and using it to pull myself up. Thankfully the forest was thick enough to allow me to move through the crowns of the trees, jumping from one branch to another as quietly as possible. The bark rubbed the skin of my palms raw and my grip slipped often but I managed not to face-plant on the forest floor.
The squirrels and other critters stopped what they were doing and looked at me as I passed and I hope I imagined the looks of incredulity on their faces. I could almost imagine the report Artemis would receive about her daughter jumping from trees like a deranged monkey.
Tearing myself out of my thoughts, I noticed that ahead and bellow my position, Luke had stopped walking and was rummaging his back pack. I leaned forward slightly, bracing my hand against the tree so I could better see what he was doing.
It was in that moment when my bad luck reared its ugly head.
The branch I was crouching was apparently less sturdy than it looked, or I was heavier than I looked, because the moment I shifted my weight I heard it snap beneath my feet, sending me flying towards the ground.
I fell in a crouch, rolling over to lessen the force of the fall but the impact still jarred my bones and made my teeth rattle.
Unfortunately, the movement had brought me closer to Luke and I found myself face to face with a drawn sword, the demigod's shocked face peering down at me. I took a moment of satisfaction at his surprise before rising to my feet, casually dusting my clothes off.
"Luke! Fancy meeting you here!" My voice was cheerful as I spoke but my eyes were already taking in our surroundings, looking for something I could use as a weapon, or even an escape route. Not that I planned on running away – so not my style – but it was somewhat of an instinct in those situations.
"Jackson," The son of Hermes growled, less than happy to see me, still not sheathing his sword. "You followed me?"
Speaking of his sword I now noticed that it was different than the ones we used in practice. It was longer for one, about four-foot double edged blade, gleaming even in the shade of the forest. I wouldn't have paid much attention to it, however, despite its beautiful craftsmanship, if it wasn't for the familiar energy I felt exuding from it. Sensing the direction of my thoughts, Luke smirked, twirling the blade through the air.
"Beautiful isn't it?" He turned it so I could see it better. One half of it looked normal Celestial Bronze but the other glinted grey as if made of steel. Cold washed over me as I realized the purpose of the double edged blade. "Its name is Backbiter."
I swallowed through the lump in my throat. "Fitting name." Gritting my teeth in anger I straightened to look him in the eye. "For a backstabbing nothos such as yourself."
To my regret Luke did not lose composure when faced with the accusation. A smirk twisted his lips instead and he would have looked handsome if there weren't something positively sinister about his expression. He looked tired and bitter and angry, the scar which marred one side of his face seemingly more pronounced than usual.
"Why, Luke?" I pressed forward. "Why would you betray your friends? Your family? Grover? Annabeth?" I hesitated. "Thalia?" It seemed I had touched a nerve because Luke's face twisted into a horrible grimace.
"Don't talk about Thalia!" He snarled at me and I noticed the hand holding his sword tremble. "The gods are a disease! Their Western Civilization is killing the world!" His eyes burned at me. "And you are one of them, daughter of Poseidon and Artemis. You might pretend all you want, but you'll never be one of us. Not when it's their blood running through your veins."
"It's running through yours too!" I growled in answer, hiding how much his words hurt. "Your father is Hermes."
"My father?" Luke snarled and he had never seemed uglier. "Do you know what my father did for me Jackson? He sent me to steal a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides. After all the training I've done, all he could think of was to give me a quest already completed thousand years ago."
"So you joined Kronos because you didn't get enough glory? Is that it?" I felt the air cool down at the mention of the titan but I ignored it, my eyes burning into Luke.
"I joined Kronos because with his help I'll tear Olympus down, stone by stone." The anger on suddenly cleared, replaced by an empty smile which was much more frightening than any other expression I had seen from him. "And I'll start with you, Andronika Jackson."
He snapped his fingers and a small hole appeared on the ground between my legs. Eyes widened in horror I watched as a small pure black scorpion crawled out of it, its pincers clipping in the air, sting raised threateningly.
Seeing my expression, Luke laughed. "That's a pit scorpion, Jackson." He told me, watching gleefully as the bug started climbing my leg. "Its poison can kill a mortal in sixty seconds. Will your godly blood manage to fight it off, though?" He asked me mockingly and with a tight throat I realized that I didn't know either. Hestia had told me that I was mortal for now despite who my parents were. I might have been strong enough to withstand Medusa's gaze but if this creature really came from Tartarus, a place the gods themselves feared, what chance did I stand against it, weakened and weaponless as I was.
I swallowed heavily, trying to think up of a plan. Here in the forest, surrounded by Artemis' domain I had speed on my side but a lot of good it did me with the scorpion already crawling up my leg. I was acutely aware that one wrong movement from my side and it would strike.
Locking my muscles in place I looked back towards Luke planning to play for time. "So you stole the bolt on Kronos' command." I stated, struggling to keep my voice even while the only thought circling my mind was the desperate chant of Idon'twanttodieIdon'twanttodie, which seems to have become my motto since I stepped into the Greek world.
Luke seemed to have sensed my motive though because he gave me a condescending, the one often given to lying children who thought you'd believe them. "Don't play stupid Jackson, it doesn't suit you. You've been suspicious of me since the moment you returned from the quest and even before that." His gaze shifted towards the scorpion which was resting on my thigh, its legs digging in the tense muscle there. "I would love to stay and see what it does to you," He jerked his chin in the direction of the bug. "But my master awaits me."
The scorpion lunged before I could react, its sting sinking into my thigh through the material of my jeans, much more painfully than something of its size should. Crying out, I brushed the damned creature of my jeans, stepping on it, hearing its hard shell crack under the pressure but I knew it was already too late. I could feel the poison spread like liquid fire through my veins, climbing upwards.
Smirking, Luke made to slash his sword through the air and I saw shadows gathering across the path the blade had taken. Realizing he must have some way of slipping away, I ignored the dizziness which fell over me and lunged forward with inhuman speed, grabbing the demigod around the waist and slamming us both onto the ground.
I couldn't let him escape, that much I knew.
We grappled on the ground for a moment, me trying to take the sword out of his grip and he to break free of my hold. For a minute I thought I would win. My godly blood lent me superior strength and speed and despite my lack of experience I had the upper hand. My fingers were wrapped around his wrist, keeping the sword away from me, while my forearm pressed against his throat, keeping him pinned to the ground.
But Luke was not the best swordsman at Camp for nothing. And while the poison seemed to affect me less than I thought it would, it did weaken me progressively.
I felt the tensing of Luke's muscles underneath me and pressed harder, though my strength was failing me. With mighty effort the son of Hermes pushed himself off the ground and to the side, rolling us over until it was him looming above me, Backbitter pressing against my neck. I could feel the razor sharp blade pierce the thin skin on my throat, golden blood bubbling forth from the thin line it left.
For a moment I thought he would simply slit my throat and be done with it.
But he hesitated, pulling himself off me instead. "If you survive, tell the gods that a new Golden Age is coming. And they won't be the ones at the helm." With that last comment, he slashed through the air, disappearing in a whirlwind of shadows.
For a second all I could do was stare at the place he had disappeared, my sight blurry. The wound had weakened me much more than it should, considering how small it was. That, combined with the poison burning my strength away, left me faint and sluggish. Even my mind was muddled, unable to form a clear thought aside from the instinctual knowledge that I needed help.
Somehow, I managed to pull myself upright, groaning when my wounded leg threatened to buckle under my weight. Stumbling and leaning against trees, I started to make my way back towards Camp, even though I knew I was too far away to succeed.
The world was twirling in front of me, my heartbeat pounding in my ears. I stumbled, falling to my knees in the grass, pain shooting through my leg. I opened my mouth to shout for help, to speak, anything, but my throat felt dry and raw as if I had spent the last few days in Sahara with no water.
Please, I whispered silently. Help me. I don't want to die.
Something moved in front of me, big and four-legged and white, and I blinked to clear my vision, though it remained misty. The shape approached and I raised a trembling hand towards it, my fingers meeting velvet-soft fur. The white deer, for that's what it was, kneeled next to me, sad dark eyes boring into mine. It took my sluggish brain a moment to realize what it wanted and with the last of my strength I managed to pull myself onto its back.
Thank you. I thought as I felt the wind brush against the burning skin on my cheeks as the deer sprinted through the woods. Thank you. The last thing I saw before darkness claimed me was golden blood glinting against white fur.
My mind was slow and sluggish when I woke up and it took a moment for the memories of what had happened to return to me. Experimentally, without opening my eyes, I tensed the muscles on my tight, hissing when a stab of pain shot through my leg.
"I wouldn't do that if I was you." A familiar voice told me and my eyes shot open immediately, much to my regret when the light burned my irises. Groaning I blinked rapidly to clear my vision, eventually focusing on the golden haired god standing at the side of the bed. I opened my mouth to address him but my throat was too dry to produce anything different than a croak.
Sensing this, Apollo disappeared from my line of sight for a short time, returning with a glass containing familiar golden liquid, pressing it into my trembling hand and helping me sit upright so I could drink. Immediately, renewed strength flowed through my limbs and my hand stopped shaking, though I still felt as if I had been ran over by a train and then dropped from the top of a mountain.
"Where- where am I?" I asked as I returned the half empty glass, looking around the room. It seemed to be infirmary of some sort but it was definitely not at Camp Half-Blood. Hades, even the sheets of the bed seemed to be thousand times softer than anything we had at Camp.
"The infirmary at Olympus." Apollo informed me, using his fingers to title my chin up so he could peer at the wound of my neck. "Chiron called for help when he found you, half-dead on the back of a deer. He might be a great healer but even he wasn't sure how to treat you."
"How to treat me?" I inquired, watching the god pull the covers from my leg. I was too tired even to blush when I realized that someone had dressed me into a pair of short cotton shorts which left the majority of my legs bare, probably to give the healers easy access to the wound. The upper thigh of my right led was wrapped in pristine white bandages, which Apollo unwind with clinical detachment.
"Poison from a pit scorpion is no small matter Andre. And considering your… situation he was not sure how much nectar and ambrosia you could consume safely." I resisted the urge to grimace when the sting was revealed, stark purple against my tan skin and leaking yellow pus.
I almost kicked out when the god began probing the area around the wound, making the pain flare up again. He was murmuring under his breath as he did it and a gentle glow emanated from his hand, washing over the gruesome puncture soothing the burn and making me relax back into the pillows as the pain receded.
"How do you feel overall?"
Like Hell, I wanted to say but stayed my tongue. "Better."
"Good." He wrapped my tight again. "The council wanted to speak with you as soon as you woke up." I groaned, slamming my head against the bed. I was tired and in pain and the last thing I wanted or needed was to face even more gods. "I know, I know, but father pointedly ignored my suggestion to let you gain your strength before subjecting you to the inquisition because apparently the opinion of your healer is not relevant." He rolled his eyes as he spoke, some bitterness slipping into his voice. "He is understandably worried though. A pit scorpion at Camp Half-Blood…" Apollo trailed off, shaking his head as if it was unfathomable. And maybe it was. Camp Half-Blood was supposed to be a safe place for demigods and within a month I had been attacked inside its borders twice by monsters which were too powerful to find their way there by accident.
"No point in delaying the inevitable, I suppose." I muttered, using Apollo's shoulder to pull myself into a standing position. My leg almost buckled beneath me and I would have crumbled on the marble floor if the god had not steadied me. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
"Thanks." I whispered, trying to figure out how I would get to the throne room where the gods were probably gathered without collapsing half-way.
"Would you like me to carry you?" Apollo asked sensing my dilemma, grinning at the incredulous look I shot him.
"No way. It's embarrassing enough to have to hobble across Olympus, there is not chance in Hades I'm letting you carry me around like some damsel in distress."
"I don't know, I'd make a great Prince Charming in my humble opinion." Humble, right. Despite his words he leant down so I could swing my arm around his shoulders for support, waiting patiently for me to slip my feet into my sneakers before leading me towards the door.
Our progress was slow with my inability to put weight upon one of my legs but the streets he led me through were small (or at least as small as streets on Olympus could get) and thankfully deserted. I did not think I could live with the humiliation of having the whole population of Olympus see me like that. The few satyrs and minor gods we passed stared at us like they've never seen such a sight before. I could almost imagine what we looked like – Apollo in all his supermodel-like glory and I looking like death warmed over. At least there were no mirrors around or I might give myself nightmares or something.
By the time we reached the temple of Zeus I was exhausted, aching and heavily leaning against the god at my side. Judging by the way Apollo was looking down at me I must have made quite the pitiful sight. Or maybe it was his inner healer disapproving of having to exert myself so soon after almost crossing into Hades' domain the easy way. Whatever it was, I whole-heartedly agreed.
Just as before, the heavy doors opened by themselves, admitting us into the throne room where the Olympian Council was already gathered sans Apollo. Whatever conversation – more like argument, knowing them – they've been having stopped as soon as we walked in and every eye turned in our direction. Ignoring the pitying looks, I let go of my godly crutch as soon as we reached the middle of the room. With one last concerned glance in my direction, Apollo grew to his full, fifteen feet size and took his place between Ares and Hephaestus, the former of which was glaring at me.
Fuck it, I thought, knowing I would not be able to stand much longer, as my right leg throbbed in time with the beat of my heart. So, without so much as 'by your leave' I sat myself on the floor right in the middle of the throne room, crossing one leg over the other so I could not aggravate my wounds. The gesture did not pass unnoticed by the gods, especially Zeus, even though it was his wife who spoke up, tone angry. "How dare-"
"With all due respect, Queen Hera," I started rubbing my temple in hopes to chase away the incoming headache. "If I spent one more second standing I'll either throw up or pass out. And trust me, neither will be pretty." That seemed to silence the goddess and I could hear a few of the gods snicker. No doubt those who had born Hera's wrath for being born out of her husband's affairs.
"Andre? How are you feeling?" Poseidon asked from his place next to Zeus, voice concerned.
"Like I've challenged a semi-truck to battle and lost." I admitted tiredly, impatient to get this whole circus over with. "But I suppose small talk is not the reason you have summoned me here?" The council shifted, unsettled by my candor. I wondered how often people truly spoke their mind with them. Even the minor gods, I knew, feared the Olympians and their strength. And even the lesser Olympian feared the Big Three.
I could not imagine such a life. To be respected is a wonderful thing, mainly because respect is mostly earned rather than given freely, but to be feared is another matter all together. I acutely remembered the days at Camp after I had been claimed, the way those who had joked and laughed with me before pulled suddenly away, watching me through narrowed, suspicious eyes. I remembered the utter loneliness I had felt when people who had been talking shut up abruptly as soon as I appeared in the vicinity.
Luke had called me one of them (the gods) but I could not imagine leading such a life, where all interactions were tinted with the taste of fear.
With visible difficulty, Zeus seemed to reign in his temper, keeping his voice even (still demanding, though) as he addressed me. "We asked you here to hear your report about the events which led to your injury." Absently, I nodded, already aware of what they would ask of me.
My voice was quite as I started speaking, though all the gods fell silent, listening with scary intensity. I told them about my suspicions first, the way I had put the pieces together enough to know not to trust Luke. My eyes were glued to the floor as I spoke, but in my peripheral vision I could see Hermes shift in his throne. Grateful that I would not have to see his expression as I revealed his son's utter betrayal, I told them about following Luke into the wood and the conversation that followed. Despite my resolve to keep my voice even it cracked in places, the dull throb of betrayal I had been repressing making my chest tighten painfully. While I had not been especially close to the son of Hermes I was still hurt by his decision if only for the pain I knew it would cause Annabeth and Grover who had been his friends.
"Why?" Hermes asked after I had stopped talking, his voice trembling slightly. He must have loved Luke, I realized and it filled me both with hope and pity. It was elating to know that gods actually loved their children, at least some of them, but I felt bad for delivering such a blow.
"He said the gods were a disease. And like any disease they have to be exterminated at the root." I quoted quietly, frowning. While I was not a huge fan of the gods and their ways, I would never wish their destruction if only for the knowledge of what a world under the Titans' rule would look like. The tales Hestia had told me were horrifying and incomprehensible for me. While the Olympians did not hold mortals in particularly high regard, the titans viewed them as nothing but entertainment.
Hermes made to say something else but Athena interrupted, having been silent until now. "And the sword? Apollo said the wound on your neck is not from an ordinary weapon." Instinctively I traced said wound with my fingers, finding the raised edges of what would become a scar.
"It was a sword like none I had seen before." I confessed with a frown, almost seeing the sword in front of me. "It's made of Celestial Bronze and tempered steel," While I did not condemn its ability to hurt monsters and mortals alike – I knew better than most that very often monster came in a human package, the thought of such a weapon in the hand of a person who had tried to kill someone he had called a friend, was honestly terrifying. It was one thing to use force in self-defense and completely another to do so with malicious intent. "It had some sort of magic, or energy, I don't know, but the moment it sliced through my skin I felt weakened as if it was draining the life out of me."
Many of the gods exchanged worried glances, the air growing tense with their displeasure. I would have rolled my eyes at their lack of control over their emotions had I not been so tired. The tale and the emotional rollercoaster accompanied it had left me even more faint than the walk between the infirmary and the palace had.
Thankfully Apollo noticed that and spoke up. "Father, now that you have what you wanted, I believe we should let my patient rest." Immediately the gazes which had vacated my form shortly, returned with all their weight and intensity. I must have been quite the sight before even Zeus agreed with his son.
"Very well." The King of the gods rumbled, leaning back in his throne. "You are free to go." I saw Artemis make it to come assist me but Zeus called her back, insisting that she would be needed for the following conversation. I thought I saw her roll her eyes while her back was to him, but chances were my exhausted mind was playing tricks on me.
Instead it was Apollo who pulled me up from the floor and I was partly glad because the last thing I needed at the time was another emotionally draining conversation with my godly parents. I didn't even struggle when the golden god sneaked his arm underneath the back of my knees and picked up bridal stile though I was sure my independent streak would be screaming at me tomorrow.
"I want to go home." I muttered against his shoulder, my conscious slipping before I was sure Apollo had heard my request-slash-plea. He must have though because the next morning I woke up in Sally's apartment, with a bottle of some ointment on my nightstand (Apply three times a day) and a folded note in the pocket of my shorts – We should speak.
AN: And that's it for now, officially over the Lightning Thief arc. There will be one or two chapter before we start with the Sea of Monsters though, which I hope you'll like.
Thanks for reading and I can't wait to hear your opinion!