**DISCLAIMER: I don't own the PJO series, but read and enjoy!**
Ethan Nakamura, the newest new kid at the Hermes Cabin (because when didn't they have a new kid?) sat awake in his bed—or rather, his space on the floor that he was assigned. Of course, some random stranger had offered their bed to him, but it only seemed fair that he start from the bottom, and let those who deserved their places keep them. If he wanted his own bed, he would just have to earn one, right?
He hated this cabin and all the people in it—no, that wasn't right. He didn't hate the people here, he just felt bad for them. How could this cabin be packed to the brim with unwanted kids who didn't even belong to Hermes, when others sat unused and empty? He also knew that there were definitely more than twelve gods, so where were the other cabins?
The only person here who seemed to want to do something about it was that guy—Luke Castellan, his name was. When Ethan had first spoken to him, he automatically liked him. Luke wasn't the kind of guy who was optimistic and happy to the point where it was sickening. In fact, he seemed kind of distant and maybe a little bitter, and the look in his eyes was much older than his years.
Ethan got the feeling that he'd done things and seen things that no one should've had to endure, which he respected. He could tell right away that Luke deserved his place as leader of the Hermes cabin—though, whether being head counselor of a cabin that was falling apart was a blessing or a curse, he had yet to decide.
He looked around at the Hermes kids. Sneaky, quick, all with a mischievous glint in their eyes. He thought about it, but there was no way he'd ever be one of them. He was darker, more solemn, and he didn't really think stealing was his style. Why take things from those to which they rightfully belonged? Unless of course, they hadn't earned those things and they were just lucky. In which case, steal by all means.
The more he thought about it, the more he began to realize—he didn't fit in with any of these kids. He knew the god was his mother, but that was all he knew. Aphrodite? Not with his sense of fashion. Demeter? Farming wheat and vegetables didn't really seem like his thing. Athena? Maybe, but he never thought of himself as a smart kid—just fair. Always fair.
He sighed, and apparently, it was loud enough to be heard by the only other awake person in the cabin—none other than Luke.
"Hey," he said softly in the darkness. "Ethan, right? You're still awake?"
"Yeah. Can't sleep. You're Luke," he said simply. "Isn't it kind of unfair that you're in charge of all these kids? What's with all the overcrowding here?"
"Unclaimed demigods." He frowned, like the very idea made him upset. "Some gods just forget about their children," he explained with a bitter tone to his voice. "But a lot of the kids here—their parents don't have thrones on Olympus, so they don't have cabins here. Those guys stay here, too. Kids of minor gods."
"Minor gods?" The thought hadn't really occurred to Ethan before. He knew there were other gods, but he didn't really know too much about them, let alone think that one of them could be his mother.
"Yeah, guys like Hypnos, god of sleep, or Hecate, goddess of magic." Luke furrowed a brow, like he was trying to come up with more. "There's Eros and Nike, Persephone, Janus, Iris, all those wind gods..."
Ethan listened, but none of the names struck him. "You seem to know a lot of them."
"What?" Luke looked almost like he was coming out of a daze, and he nodded. "Well, they deserve recognition from someone, don't they? All these kids..." He frowned, like he really did feel for the unwanted kids in his cabin.
"Deserve recognition?" Ethan's eyes lit up. "You're right. You could make a difference, you know. Or I could. But someone has to, because the way things are right now... They're not right."
"You said your godly parent was your mom? You're pretty smart, maybe Athena. There's a younger girl in Athena who's around your age, you'd be lucky to have a sister like her." He almost smiled, and Ethan could tell he probably cared about that girl a lot.
"No," he said quickly. "I'm not very wise." He frowned at the idea that he was just another unclaimed kid, another face who the gods had forgotten about. "...Luke, why are you being so nice to me? I've done nothing for you."
"You gave me a good conversation," the blonde said with a shrug. "Not something I get very often around here. And you're almost like my brother, since we're all related anyway."
"Luke, I'm not your brother, and I never will be." Ethan's voice was stern, and for a moment he worried that he'd wake up another camper, but none of the other kids stirred. "You know that."
"You're in my cabin, aren't you? It doesn't matter if your godly parent is your mom," Luke explained, "I care about all the kids here—they deserve at least that."
"Deserve..." he repeated. "Yeah, they do. Like I said, we could make a difference. Make things equal. Make them right."
'Equal,' Luke thought, like he was onto something. "Your godly parent is your mom..." He hesitated, like he was thinking very hard about something, before saying, "You're a child of Nemesis, Ethan," without a trace of doubt in his voice.
Though Ethan had never heard the name before, it sounded right. "Goddess of balance," he said without thinking about it. Finally, he had a glimmer of hope. Of course his mother was the goddess of balance, it made so much sense. Now that he knew who he was, he could start changing things.
Soon, though, his excitement morphed into anger. How come his mother didn't have a cabin? How come his mother, who stood for such great things—true balance and justice—never received any recognition or sacrifices? How come he was just another unwanted kid, just because his mother was just another unwanted god? "Luke, I'm going to see my mom."
Luke thought about that, before saying, "Immortals are tricky, Ethan. We should just change things ourselves, forget the gods. Besides, that was just my guess. I don't know if Nemesis is really your mom..." He trailed off, staring at the spot above Ethan's head.
A shimmering golden scale appeared, with two fortune cookies on either side. Though the scale itself looked like it had formed out of dimly glowing mist, the fortune cookies looked solid enough to eat. "What—What is that?" he asked Luke somewhat desperately, eyes widened in fear.
"You've just been claimed," Luke said, grinning. "Nemesis is your mom... and I think those fortune cookies are for us."
Ethan reached up, taking the one from the left. He broke it open, and pulled out a tiny strip of paper. 'Were you expecting a fortune? Idiot, this isn't Chinese takeout. But you were right about some things—you are going to make a difference, and you are going to have to pay mommy a visit first. Don't think things will be easy though. Be ready for sacrifices, son.' He flipped the thing over, and read the back. 'Your lucky number is: one half.'
Luke took the other cookie, and read his strip of paper at the same time. 'Son of Hermes, be nice to my kid. He's an idiot, but you're gonna need him.'
Both of them were too confused to speak, so Ethan just slipped the fortune into his pocket. "...Thanks, Luke," he mumbled, still thinking about the cookie. "I'm... I'm gonna go to sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
Luke nodded, and wondered what in the gods' names would he ever need Ethan Nakamura for as he went to sleep, too.
'Sacrifices,' Ethan thought. 'I'm ready to make a difference, Mom.'