No role models and I'm here right now, no role models to speak, searchin through my memory (my memory) I couldn't find one

Was it worth it?

She didn't know. She thought she knew the answer...but now...she couldn't be sure. She had been so certain in the beginning, so sure of herself, but now she was uncertain. She didn't like that feeling, never had she doubted her actions or emotions, but everything was different now.

Aphrodite gnawed on her lip, drumming her fingernails on her desk absentmindedly as she glossed over the plans that were placed before her. When Gaea had first propositioned her it had seemed to be in her best interest to join, having grown exasperated with how her "family" has treated her throughout the centuries.

Artemis, Demeter, and Hera's judgemental attitudes towards her lifestyle. Athena's condescending tone of voice that she used specifically for her. Apollo's lewd propositions. Ares's controlling nature and brute treatment of her. Hermes and Dionysus's grating bimbo jokes that were only directed towards her. Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus blatantly ignored her. Hestia, while always kind, merely pitied her and this caused Aphrodite to be extremely embarrassed.

The only one that was nice to her was-

"Aphrodite." A deep voice rumbled, causing her to jump in her seat and look up at the speaker. A large man stood before her, eyeing her cautiously as he slowly approached her desk. His deformity, which used to make her cringe, no longer bothered her. His shoulders were at awkwardly different heights, and his face was covered in red welts. His bulbous nose had once disgusted her but now she barely gave it a second thought.

Short, dark curly hair was frizzy due to lack of care. His bushy beard and eyebrows made him look somewhat homeless; had he not been extremely muscular due to his work in the forge then he would look the part of a hobo. His limp caused him to hunch his shoulders when he walked, looking akin to a protective crouch, and it most likely was; his limp made him vulnerable.

" shouldn't be here." She murmured, allowing a small smile to creep across her lips at the impish grin he gave her.

"I know." He took a seat in the chair across the desk, leaning back casually as he rested his chin on his fist.

"Is this just another attempt to agitate your mother?" A loud laugh erupted deep from his gut, causing the desk to vibrate as he slapped his weathered hands on the desk and shook his head.

"My hideous face is enough to piss off Hera. Had I wanted to truly agitate her I would mock her imperfect marriage, or maybe point out how handsome all of Zeus's sons are. Despite being the goddess of marriage, she doesn't do a good job of maintain her own, does she?" He mused gleefully.

This caused a small laugh to escape her,"Your cynical nature never ceases to amuse me. And while I, surprisingly, enjoy your company; I do still expect an answer as to why you've come to visit me." His smile left him, and shaggy eyebrows furrowed as he leaned slightly closer to her.

Dark eyes looked over her worriedly,"What kind of husband would I be if I didn't check up on my wife?"

"A smart one, considering how unfit of a wife I am." She answer easily, masking her guilt as indifference. It wasn't fair to Hephaestus how easily she had brushed him aside in the past. And while he had gotten his vengeance more than once due to her unfaithfulness, he had always treated her well. His wrath was justified, and if anything he should loathe her, but he didn't.

Aphrodite had once hated Hephaestus. Hated looking at him, hated touching him, hated Zeus for forcing her to marry him. She hadn't wanted to be married, she was the goddess of love and lust and marriage only tied her down. She had been especially resentful due to her husband's unattractive features, he was the epitome of imperfection, and their personalities had always been staggeringly different. She treated him terribly in retaliation for being unappealing and forced into a marriage with him, never stopping to take into account that he too was forced to marry her.

Hephaestus smiled ruefully at her,"No one's perfect, I know I'm certainly not." His voice was softer now, not out of sadness, but thoughtfulness. His intense gaze left her momentarily as lifted a large, calloused hand and engulfed her smaller one, gently brushing his thumb across her knuckles before looking at her sadly.

"I...I know you feel jaded by the gods but...this isn't the way to get revenge." He looked at her imploringly,"Come home with me." The goddess bristled at this, gritting her teeth and glaring at the hand atop of hers.

"I'm tired of being ignored, now that I'm with Gaea they can't ignore me anymore. And besides, I've already gone too far, even if I did change my ways I would be imprisoned or punished or killed because of my treason."

"I won't let them hurt you." She blinked in surprise, looking closely to find any trace of deceit, and to her irritation she found only compassion.

"Why do you care about what happens to me?" She asked heatedly, gritting her teeth as he merely chuckled softly and interlaced their fingers.

"Do you not want me to?"

"I...No. No! I don't want you to care!" Aphrodite stood up, yanking her hand out of his and glaring at him in exasperation,"Why would you care about me at all? I don't-" She stopped abruptly, realizing the words that were about to leave her mouth. I don't deserve you.

Hephaestus was quiet for a moment, opening his mouth to speak but quickly closing it. His jaw was clenched and he drummed his fingers anxiously against her desk for a moment, clearly hesitant about what he was to say next. Dark eyes flickered nervously towards her before he bowed his head shamefully.

"All those years back I...I nearly joined Kronos." He admitted cautiously,"I wanted revenge on my mother and Ares and all the gods that have wronged me…" He trailed off, casting her an apologetic glance,"including you. I was tired of how I was treated by everyone, like some unloveable outcast," His lips twisted into a bitter smile,"and maybe I am, maybe I always will be, but I've come to terms with that-"

"You should have joined Kronos." Aphrodite huffed, gritting her teeth as she bit back the overwhelming feeling of guilt,"I've been a horrid wife to you, you've experienced worse than should have gotten the justice you rightfully deserved-"

"It's not justice if everyone is dead!" He abruptly exploded, standing up so quickly from his chair that it crashed to the ground behind him,"Don't you see how futile this is?"

"How is this futile! I've been mistreated and belittled by everyone, and now they'll realize what happens when they underestimate me." She sneered, eyes glistening with angry tears,"There's only so much I can take!" She began to pace, lips quivering as she spoke,"They treat me like I'm a stupid whore, no one cares what I have to say-"

"I CARE!" Hephaestus snarled, slamming his fists angrily down on her desk, making her curl her lip in disgust at him.

"Why would you ever care about me! You shouldn't. I'm no good…" Thoughts of Piper filled her head and she didn't realize she was crying until salt touched her tongue,"I'm no good at all." She laughed dryly at this before collapsing into her chair, leaning back and rubbing her temples in exhaustion,"I let myself be used by Ares for centuries, I manipulate the love I know you have for me, I've alienated my beloved Piper, and now I'm helping Gaea take over the world just for a taste of retribution." She briskly wiped her tears

Blue eyes stared up dully at her husband,"I've wronged you in more ways than I can count, so tell me, how could you possibly care for me?"

He relaxed slightly, eyes softening as he smiled reminiscently,"Do you remember the first time you entered my forge?" He queried, making her dull eyes sparkle to life as a small smile adorned her lips.

"I do. You let me play with all your showed me how to make a sword." She recalled fondly. Aphrodite had surprisingly enjoyed visiting her husband's forge from time to time.

The first time she had visited wasn't because she wanted to, it was because she wanted something from him, some new jewelry. The moment she walked in she was disgusted with the clutter of various metals, blueprints, and tools that were scattered about. Hephaestus was smelting ore, and she had wrinkled her nose at the smell of sweat, metal, and oil that filled the room.

When she announced herself he had turned around and, surprisingly, grinned broadly at her, "Aphrodite, welcome! Quickly, come look at this!" She normally would have cut straight to the point onto why she had arrived, but for some reason she decided to humor him.

What was meant to be a short visit had turned into surprisingly prolonged stay. He had prattled on excitedly to her about what he was tinkering with, proudly showing off the beautiful designs he wanted to etch on his next sword, and she became rather enraptured with his work.

There was a hidden beauty in blacksmithing, one she would have never discovered had it not been for Hephaestus. The melting ore's brilliant orange color, the glistening of new steel, the sleek polish of newly crafted shields, the sonorous symphony of hammers banging against anvils, and she even found beauty in the weathered hands of the blacksmith god.

It was something she had never seen before, the beauty of hard work, despite it producing a musty odor and sweat drenched workers. Hephaestus's eyes were brighter than she had ever seen; filled with a happiness one could only garner from being completely immersed in their element, and finding someone willing to listen to them rattle on about their beloved endeavors. Oil stained his cheeks and arms, and she found herself to be unfazed, not even minding to get a little dirty herself, hanging him tools and watching as he tinkered with his robots.

She found herself asking about various designs, inquiring about the shapes of weapons, and soon enough she was offering to help him make his next sword, "I've never done this before but...I want to help! I know I won't be much use-"

"Nonsense! You're smart, I bet you could make this sword all by yourself." He insisted, walking her through the steps on how to forge a sword. He hadn't even laughed when she made a crooked sword with a hilt that was too low for its length. Out of embarrassment she insisted he get rid of it, but he refused, instead placing it upon a mantle on his wall.

"You worked hard on this, throwing it away would be an injustice. Imperfections are inevitable." He offered for her to try to make another sword and she did, this one was significantly better because he talked her through on how to work out the kinks.

He never belittled her, never tried to take over her work, and he praised the amount of effort she put into each sword. She got to keep the second one, unbeknownst to him, she still kept it with her.

The passion the god had for his work was admirable, and he had confided in her that his workshop was the only place he truly felt at peace, away from the judgemental eyes and cruel sneers thrown in his direction.

"You have a very beautiful heart, Hephaestus...ironically it took me far too long to see it."

"You don't have to be nice."

"I'm not nice. I'm truthful." She paused smiled at him,"You know, I quite like the forge." She told him happily, "I didn't at first but...I do now."

After that day she periodically visited his workshop to spend time with him and help him in the forge. She didn't know why she hadn't stopped by more often throughout the years, perhaps it was because she was self conscious at the time. She genuinely enjoyed every moment spent in the forge and every moment spent with Hephaestus; but she had feared her reputation would suffer. She had feared how Ares would react to her constantly spending time with him.

She had always regretted allowing others to get in the way of her happiness. Hephaestus meant something to her, she found that she cared deeply for him; he was someone she could fall in love with but she never allowed herself to do so. One of her flaws was vanity, and it had only caused her pain and remorse.

Hephaestus was much like his forge; unappealing until further explored. Rough and gritty on the surface, but becoming increasingly beautiful once taking time to delve into their complexities. Aphrodite had grown so fond of Hephaestus that she no longer viewed him as unappealing, instead she was often enraptured by his gentleness and charm.

Hephaestus's resonant voice called her back to reality,"I care about you because you are my wife, because you begrudgingly care about me, and because you've taken the time to know me in a way that no one else has." His eyes were filled with warmth as he looked at her affectionately, "You told me I have a beautiful cannot possibly fathom how much that means to such a hideous man." His voice faltered slightly as he became overcome with emotion, with happiness.

Aphrodite covered her hand with her mouth, overwhelmed by the raw sentiment she felt from the god. Plenty of men had fallen in love with her before, but never had she felt a love as strong as his. It meant even more to her because of the forgiveness and mercy he had showed her, especially since she deserved none of his kindness.

"How...after everything I've done, could you possibly love me?" She breathed, looking at him imploringly and reaching out to grab his hand.

He gave her a crooked smile and squeezed her hand comfortingly,"Perfection is a myth." He planted a light kiss on her hand,"Believe it or not, I have not come to change your mind, even though I thought I'd give it a try. I just came by to let you know that, when the war is over, you have someone to come home to." Leaning forward he pressed a gentle kiss on her forehead before stepping away from her,"Be safe." He teleported out of the room, leaving a teary eyed goddess behind.

-Line Break-

"Calm down, I'm not going to attack you." The woman snorted, crossing her arms over her chest as she looked at the demigod in slight annoyance. He was bedraggled, sweat and blood and dirt caked his skin. Green eyes darted around her wildly, he bared his teeth as he glowered at her, muscles tensed and he held a large rock in his right hand, poised to attack if she came any closer. His hair was matted, sticking up unnaturally in various directions. His breathing was labored, and while his eyes held unfathomable rage they were also filled with fear.

The boy was a warrior, she could tell by how he was watching her; he was completely still, not skittish as those usually were when confronted by a possible threat. He watched her, not like prey would watch a predator, but the exact opposite. He was already planning all the different ways he could kill her. He was muscular and rather tall, by his firm stance she could tell that he was a sword fighter.

He wore a red shirt that was ripped nearly to shreds. It exposed so much of his torso that he might as well have been running around shirtless. The fabric of both his shirt and pants were riddled with claw and bite marks. They had dried blood stains and appeared to be slightly singed as well. He wore no shoes, and blood pooled at his unprotected feet, but he seemed unbothered by this.

He noted her relaxed posture but didn't dare let his guard down," look normal." His voice was raspy due to the lack of use. Exhaustion and paranoia had created the bags beneath his eyes, and she couldn't at all blame his weariness. Usually she wouldn't bother with some human trapped in tartarus, but this one looked familiar, and he still had some fight left in him which was extremely rare to see.

"Have you not encountered other humans here?"

"I have...but they're all deranged. They try to kill me or they're crying or screaming...but you're not. Does that mean you're normal?" He asked. She winced at the hope that coated his words, he was so desperate for companionship that she couldn't help but pity him.

"What's your name?" She asked, ignoring his question once again.

He looked at her warily,"Percy...Percy Jackson." Her eyes widened and she took a surprised step backwards. Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, was trapped in tartarus?

A cackle escaped her,"Oh this is rich! How did the gods' little champion end up here? Did you forget to properly butt kiss Zeus? Or was daddy dearest merely tired of having you around?" She spat, crossing her arms over her chest.

Percy shook his head angrily, eyes burning with hatred as he glowered at her,"I did what had to be done, I killed Luke and his cronies, and as a thanks for saving the world I'm thrown down here." He snarled, losing all composure as he launched his rock angrily into the ground. Lamia's malicious response died on her tongue when she saw angry tears stream down the boy's cheeks,"I gave them everything, I was ready to die for them, but look at what they did to me!" He rasped, gesturing angrily at his bloodied and bruised form,"They didn't even give me the benefit of the doubt, the campers and gods voted me to hell."

His demeanor completely changed as he began to pace,"Even Annabeth voted me to damnation, can you believe that?" He laughed hysterically, rambling angrily to himself as though he completely forgot about her existence. Just as quickly as the tears came they vanished, leaving behind stained cheeks glistening eyes.


He jumped at the sound of her voice before taking a threatening step closer to her,"Who are you! How do you know about me?" She raised an eyebrow at his sporadic behavior.

"I'm your sister, Lamia." He picked up his rock again before roughly grabbing the collar of her shirt,"Come now, this is a family reunion! We should be celebrating." She laughed, excited to get such an angered response from him.

"I should bash your skull in!"

She looked at him with a bored facial expression,"And what would that do? I'm not the one that sent you down here." She pointed out, completely relaxed in his grip, knowing she could easily talk her way out of this,"Besides," She continued,"it's not like you can kill me, we're already dead."

Percy narrowed his eyes,"You're a monster-"

"And? I said I wouldn't hurt you. This is our first time meeting, you're not being very polite." She tutted, smirking as she continued,"We're family, Percy, and had I met you sooner I would have told you then what I'll tell you now: No matter who you are, you're always expendable."

He was silent, allowing her to continue to speak,"Tell me, do you really think that the gods find you guilty?" He gave her a curious look,"Think about it, dearest brother," she cooed,"you defeated Kronos and the gods are indebted to you. Most of the demigods would follow you anywhere, you're dangerous and powerful. Zeus used you…" She trailed off when she saw Percy's irate look turn perturbed.

Green eyes looked at her closely and a sad laugh escaped him,"Just like he used you?" He dropped her, making her stumble as she attempted to regain her balance,"Annabeth...she taught me about your history. Zeus used you, and Hera slaughtered your children before turning you into a monster."

Lamia rolled her eyes, pretending not to be affected by her brother's observation,"Well it's no secret. What did you hope to gain from telling me what I already know?"

"Nothing I just...I don't know. I guess I just realized that we've got something in common…" He trailed off before asking,"Did Poseidon help you?"

"Of course not. His daughter was a home wrecker turned monster." She spat contemptuously, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring daggers at the boy,"You had it good with dear old dad, I'm assuming he fought tooth and nail to try to save you from this fate."

Percy snorted, casually tossing his rock aside before shaking his head,"He did the opposite...he disowned me." Lamia looked at him in shock, how could this be? Percy was the favored child of Poseidon, and yet he had been so quickly dismissed altogether. She didn't know why but she was enraged by Poseidon's quick abandonment of Percy. The boy had, from what she had heard, done everything he could to make things better. He was an annoyingly good person, and he didn't belong down here.

An idea came to mind, Percy was a powerful demigod and could be a powerful ally; if she played her cards right then maybe something good could come of this. She could have influence over one of the world's most powerful demigod, how could she pass that up?

The monster turned on her heel,"Come." She commanded, pleased when Percy jogged to catch up with her. He was so desperate for companionship and so angered by his sentencing that his judgement had become clouded.

"Where are we going? Why do you want me to tag along?" He asked, walking beside his sister and easily maintaining her brisk pace with his own long stride.

She flashed him a fanged smile,"We're the outcasts of Poseidon, we're family, and as your older sister I feel obligated to teach you what I know."

He became guarded,"What would I have to do in return?"

"I haven't decided yet. But that doesn't matter right now, what matters is that we make you stronger. You need me to teach you how to make the most of this hellhole. There's so much you can do that you don't know." She shot him a smirk,"And I'll need someone to trip when we're being chased by Kronos."

Percy chuckled at this as they continued walking,"I suppose I don't have many other options."

"You certainly don't. And what better way to piss off the gods than by befriending a monster?"

"I...I don't want revenge."

"Don't lie to me." Lamia snarled, whirling around and placing a clawed hand on his chest,"If this is going to work then I need complete honesty from you."

He narrowed his eyes,"Fine, but only if you're honest with me."

"Very well. I'm using you."

"Looks like we have something else in common."

She released her grip and looked at him in surprise,"Pardon?"

He smirked before shrugging,"I'll be better protected if I'm with you, and you're going to make me more powerful." His smile vanished before a sigh escaped him,"And...I could use someone to talk to, it's kinda lonely down here." He confessed, once again surprising her. She hadn't expected him to be that truthful with her, though she should have known that would be the case due to his increased vulnerability.

Lamia casually slung an arm around his shoulders,"Don't worry, nitawajali (I'll take care of you.)"

"Whoa, can you teach me whatever language that is?"

"I don't see why not."

-Line Break-

"And ever since we've been best friends...after he was certain I wouldn't stab him in the back." Lamia laughed nervously,"I had thought about it a couple of times, but he grew on me." She confessed.

Piper smiled slightly,"It's nice that he had you to look after him." They were quiet after that. They continued to walk in uncomfortable silence for a while, neither girl was sure of what to say. The two usually had Percy with them which made everything less tense because he was a conversation scapegoat. Not this time.

"'s your day going?" Lamia asked politely, walking stiffly beside the daughter of Aphrodite as they made their way to the armory.

Piper glanced at her curiously,"Erm, fine I guess. How's yours?"


They were silent for a moment,"Excited to get new armor?" The monster asked. Piper could feel that Lamia was radiating with discomfort as she attempted to engage in smalltalk with her.

"Not that I don't enjoy our conversation, but uh...why are we doing this?"

The daughter of Poseidon sighed before pinching the bridge of her nose,"I don't know, I was just trying to get to know my future sister in law a little better. Besides Percy…Hazel was the only other demigod I regularly conversated with." She mumbled, eyes downcast and brow furrowing in discomfort with a tinge of sadness.

Piper felt a blush creep on her cheeks,"Sister in law? That's a big assumption, don't you think?"

Lamia straightened and looked at her closely,"I don't believe so, no. Unless you plan on leaving him."

"I won't."

"Well then, if you two survive I'll be happy to attend your wedding." Lamia suddenly grew excited, beaming brilliantly at Piper and clasping her hands as she spoke,"Ooh I can't wait! I'll help plan your wedding! We'll get you the most beautiful dress! What colors are you thinking? I'm thinking red and white, classic and classy, ooh and we can there can be silver-" She was cut off by Piper's abrupt laughter.

She looked at her quizzically,"What? What's so funny?"

Piper's laughing slowed as she smiled widely at Lamia,"We're about to go to war and you're planning my wedding?" She hummed in amusement, eyes sparkling with mirth as Lamia let out a soft chuckle, interlocking their arms as they continued to walk.

"My dear, being prepared is always important, but you can't constantly stress." The woman chidded,"That'll only leave you with paranoia and wrinkles."

Piper laughed again,"Are you speaking from experience?"

Lamia shot her a mock glare,"I don't wrinkle, it's rather unbecoming. But quite a few mortals I've met have allowed their stress to get the better of them. It's tragic when you're twenty five but anxiety has caused you to look forty." Lamia tutted, giving Piper a small smile,"Anyways, I want to be a good sister in law to you."

"Why does that matter?"

Lamia bit her lip before asking,"May I be blunt with you, Piper?"

"Of course."

"Good." She nodded in approval before continuing,"Truthfully, I pity you. You don't have a female role model in your life, so I will be taking that position." Lamia said proudly, making Piper huff in slight disbelief.

"I don't think you can volunteer to be a role model."

"I didn't volunteer for anything. I've stated a fact: I am now your role model."

"A monster is my role model?"

Lamia grinned,"I'm also a murdering, sexual deviant...but I don't think you're in any position to judge. If I were a goddess then no one would be able to tell the difference between myself and your mother." Piper looked at her in shock for a moment before she burst out laughing, leaning heavily against her companion as Lamia joined in.

The two were far more relaxed than when the conversation started. Piper very much appreciated that Lamia didn't tip toe around the subject of her treacherous mother, like many others did, even Percy was hesitant to talk about the goddess. But having Lamia there, talking to Piper like a person rather than some ticking time bomb, was really nice.

She couldn't help but think of how true the monster's words were. Piper didn't have anyone to look up to, admiring her peers was one thing, but she had no one to look up to and imitate. Her father was a distant movie star and he was not someone she aspired to be. She never wanted to be like him, ignoring those she loved because she was too busy, and never bothering to make time with people and build relationships.

Having her mother as a role model was out of the question. Aphrodite was manipulative and cruel and selfish. Not to mention she was a liar, a coward. She was such a coward that she couldn't bring herself to look at Piper when she ran off, avoiding Piper when she questioned her mother's love for her.

Lamia was right, she needed someone to look up to, and while she didn't think Lamia would be the best choice she didn't have many other options. Piper liked her sense of humor, how kind she was to Percy, and her battle prowess. There were many good qualities that the daughter of Poseidon possessed, Piper still didn't know her all that well, but she figured this was Lamia's way of getting to know her. She wasn't direct in her approach, she examined what angles to take before conversing with someone, and this was her way of saying "you mean a lot to Percy, so I should come to care about you."

Lamia wasn't a liar, but she was always cautious with her words, hesitant to say what she meant. She was only upfront with Percy because she trusted him, he was her brother, her best friend, and they had been through a lot together.

Once their laughter died down Piper flashed her a smile,"You're not as bad as my mom." She assured her, making Lamia snort and shake her head.

"And how would you know that? Only difference between me and her is which side we're fighting for."

"That's not how Hazel talked about you. She said you were smart, funny, and secretly nice."

Lamia gave her a weak smile,"She said all that?" She murmured, laughing softly to herself as she looked away,"What a silly girl. She was the worst judge of character. She never treated me as a monster, she humanized me-" She stopped abruptly before shaking her head, hoping to rid herself of her fond memories,"Sorry."

"I miss her too."


Piper glanced at her somewhat nervously,"I...I know how you felt about her."

"Did you now?"

"Your emotions were quite...loud…"

"I've already explained this. Sexual. Deviant."

"It was more than that, you don't have to deny it."

"Who said I was denying it? I was avoiding it. Two very different things."

"Out of embarrassment?" Piper prodded, causing Lamia to shoot her a heated glare.

"Of course not!" She snapped defensively, crossing her arms over her chest,"Are you trying to piss me off?"

"No, I'm just trying to understand." Piper reasoned, putting her hands up in a sign of good faith, not wanting to come off as accusatory,"I want to know why my role model is so insistent on avoiding anything involving Hazel."

Lamia shot her a sour look before a sigh escaped her,"Percy...he needs consistency. I've had centuries to be upset by many things, but I've also had centuries to learn how to control my emotions." She paused for a moment, her brow furrowed before she continued,"He needs someone strong to be there for him, especially since we're going to war. Vulnerability isn't an option."

"There's nothing wrong with being vulnerable."

"Never said there was. Percy just needs someone he can rely on."

"What about me?"

"You're too emotional, no offense. You're someone he can trust, but you have to remember that you're also his peer. He'll rely more heavily on my advice and look to me for guidance." A weary sigh escaped her,"Before I came back to him, he looked up to Nemesis, he thought very highly of her. At first he wouldn't shut up about her; about how he was chosen to be her legacy, she was the voice in his head that calmed him, and she was the one that looked out for him despite all his mistakes."

Green eyes flashed with irritation,"I was really jealous of how highly he thought of her, I still am, I felt like she took over the big sister role while I was away. But I've never told him this, I never want to make him hesitant to talk about Nemesis, she took pretty good care of him for me. Makes me wish I had shown up sooner."

Piper frowned,"You didn't know where he was until recently."

Lamia shook her head,"That was a lie. I've known his whereabouts for a while now, since his escape, but I didn't want to intervene. Had I known the fragility of his mental state then I would have been at his side instantly. I didn't show up sooner because I didn't want to create a rift between him and the other demigods. But then our father reached out to me, told me about Percy's condition, and here I am."

"Why not just tell him that?"

She looked at Piper with a thoughtful look on her face,"Some things are better left unsaid, or they're better saved for another time. Expressing my distress towards Hazel's death, or my jealousy of Nemesis is...unnecessary. It won't contribute to any of our upcoming problems. Telling Percy that I purposefully stayed away from him will only strain our relationship. He's gotten better, but he'll never truly be okay."

Piper frowned,"None of us will ever be okay." She challenged,"Things may be good for us from time to time but sometimes bad things just happen."

Lamia smiled at her,"I misspoke, but I concede to your point." She gnawed on her lip for a moment,"What I meant is, he'll never regain full sanity...he still tells me about the voices in his head. He says he hears Nemesis and Thalia most of the time, but sometimes there are others...they tell him to hurt people."

Piper's eyes widened in surprise. She had figured that Percy's voices were gone, he never mentioned them, and he seemed rather chipper as of late. Now that she was thinking about it, she had noticed how often Percy stared into space. Or he'd be mumbling to himself, but she had thought nothing of it, too consumed by her own problems to notice anything else.

When she didn't speak Lamia continued,"I offered to help him, told him that I knew some daughters of Hecate that could create a remedy for the voices." She smiled bitterly,"He refused. I think part of him believes it really is Nemesis and Thalia talking to him...but I also think he just really misses them. It's pitiful." She didn't speak in a condescending tone, Piper could feel Lamia's sorrow and bitterness. Her voice was heavy, not containing the levity that it normally did. Lamia spoke slowly, words weighing heavily on Piper's chest and causing her to grit her teeth.

How could she have been so selfish? Piper had been avoiding Percy for a week due to the guilt of causing him emotional distress. She noticed that he was avoiding her too. Gods, she was so wrapped up in her own problems that she didn't even realize Percy's. She was normally very attuned to his moods, but he was doing a good job at pretending everything was going well. His attitude was better and his mental state had improved, and she knew that he would never fully recover, but she could at least be there for him.

She thought back to when they had first started dating. Piper had stuck to his side like glue. She constantly fretted over him and tried to keep him calm and collected. At times she had felt overbearing, but Percy said he liked having her so close. He had kept some secrets from her, he blew up over the smallest of inconveniences, and he had easily succumbed to his own insanity.

For a while she had been his enabler, excusing him for every wrong doing, but she had grown since then. She didn't let him make excuses anymore, she didn't allow him to speak in such a self pitying manner, and she had snapped him out of many self destructive habits. Piper didn't believe she was responsible for fixing him, not at all, but she gave him something to think about.

She watched him unapologetically harm others. She watched him lose himself to insanity. She watched him scream and sweat and sob in his sleep, desperately trying to escape his nightmares. She watched him run from her. She watched him hide from reality. She watched him hit rock bottom. She watched him grow. He began to smile, callous actions were replaced with thoughtful ones, he stopped guilt tripping his betrayers, he made jokes, he kissed her softly, he forgave, he became strong.

I can't fix him.

Percy was like broken glass. Piper could try to put the pieces back together, she could try to fix him and make the pieces fit in an attempt to make him whole, but he would never be the same. He'd still have cracks, missing shards, and coarse edges. He would never be the way he was. Percy was broken and everyone was trying to put him back together, but he would never come together in the same way.

Just like with glass - everyone noticed. They could see when things weren't right and when all the pieces weren't quite there, or when they didn't fit like they were supposed to. So what were they to do with these broken pieces? These jagged, erratic, and fragmented pieces?

Nothing. She couldn't force the pieces to fit, she could try all she wanted, but the only way that would work would be to further distort what was already damaged beyond repair. Only Percy could make things right. And maybe, if he was clever, he could use the pieces to create something else. Something useful and wonderful and new. Perhaps a pastiche? A conglomeration of sorts? After all, isn't that what everyone did? Lose pieces of themselves or watch them be destroyed, only to rebuild or recreate those fragments into something new? Not always something better, but always something new.

She wouldn't enable him, wouldn't look down on his instabilities; instead she would accept him and further encourage him to grow to be the best that he could be. Percy didn't need her to shove misaligned pieces together, he just needed her to be there for him.


"So what now?"

"I don't know, maybe she needs space." Percy mused, laying contently in the river; he laid flat on his back and was looking up at the grey sky thoughtfully.


"Yeah. What's wrong with that?" He asked defensively.

"Space is what you give someone when you piss them off...not when they realize their mother is manipulative sociopath."

"In that situation I would appreciate space, Thalia." Percy huffed, furrowing his brow as he listened closely for a response.

"It's been a week, Perce, you can't keep avoiding her-"

"I'm not!"

"Yeah yeah, lie to someone who'll believe you."

A sigh escaped him and he closed his eyes. Why was he avoiding Piper? He wasn't mad about the Tartarus thing, at least, not anymore. So what was it that kept him away from her?


"Nemesis? Gods, you two always gang up on me." Silence. Percy blinked in surprise before a wave of heat washed over him. Anxiety. He didn't like the silence, he even preferred the random voices encouraging him to hurt others as opposed to silence. Anything but silence. Silence was far more deafening than any of the loud voices polluting his mind. Without the voices he felt lonely.

He shook his head before thinking of the word: helplessness. Was that why he was avoiding Piper? Because he didn't know how to help her? He felt inadequate and useless in the face of her adversary, how was he supposed to console her about her treacherous mother? Percy's father betrayed him, but he was no traitor to the demigods, only a major idiot.

But Piper's mother used her for everything she was worth and discarded her. Maybe it was similar to his own situation, Poseidon tossed him out when he was done, but Piper's was more painful in his opinion. Aphrodite spent time with her, gained her trust, treated her as a mother would a daughter, and then stomped on her and cast her aside. She manipulated him to get to her, she made Piper kill Thalia, and she orchestrated Hazel's death. He grimaced, he couldn't imagine what was going through Piper's mind.

She was actually taking it far better than he would have. He was still on the verge of snapping half the time, gods, he even still talked to the voices in his head. Pathetic. How could he help Piper when he couldn't even help himself? He felt ashamed.


He frowned before sitting up, surprised to see Piper standing at the bank of the river, looking at him with an amused smile. Despite his negative thoughts and temporary state of self pitying he couldn't help but smile broadly at her. He didn't need the voices to keep him company when she was with him.

"Come here." He gesture, laughing when she eyed him warily as he patted the water beside him,"C'mon, I gotcha!" He held out his hand, his smile growing as she took a hesitant step onto the water. Taking a deep breath she quickly scurried across the river to sit at his side. Her eyes brightened as he took her hand gently in his and he looked at her earnestly.

"Who were you talking to?" She asked, leaning into his side and resting her head on his shoulder.

"Nemesis and Thalia." He said, unabashedly honest, and Piper didn't miss the fondness in his tone at the mention of the two.

She interlaced their fingers,"I...I want you to know that I'm concerned about the voices in your head." She began, anxiously gnawing on her lip before she continued,"I should have came to you sooner and I'm sorry. I didn't know you still heard the voices...I think you should seek out help but I won't push. I just...don't want to feed into your illusion." She confessed, looking at him closely so she could gauge his reaction.

He stared at her blankly for a moment, green eyes darting to look at his hands. He kept one hand holding hers while the other fiddled anxiously with the hem of his shirt. Percy looked to be listening intently to something before he began to fidget again, not comfortable to meet her intense gaze. Piper waited patiently as Percy processed what she said; mulling her words over carefully and muttering to himself before finally looking at her again.

"I know they're not real." He began, speaking slowly as he thought of how to respond to her,"But they comfort me...I don't like when it's quiet. Makes me feel empty." He breathed before flashing Piper a large smile,"But I feel better when I'm with you or Lamia, then I don't mind the silence. But I can't be around you two all the Nemesis and Thalia keep me company."

Piper didn't know what to think. All she knew was that Percy's situation was incredibly sad, despite his positive spin on things. She wished she could be enough to keep Percy calm, to keep him comforted, but it was wishful and selfish thinking. She just didn't want him to rely too heavily on the voices, but at the same time they put him at ease. Was there really any harm since Percy knew they weren't real? She examined him closely. His eyes were bright with a childish glee, as though he had just told her about his imaginary friends. He looked happier than she could ever recall seeing him.

"What were you guys talking about?" She finally asked, leaning back against him. He rested his head on hers and began to toy with her fingers, unable to sit still without fidgeting.

"We were talking about why I was avoiding you." He mumbled, sounding slightly embarrassed.


"Yeah...but I don't want to talk about it. Not yet."

"Then when?"

"Don't know. I just don't want to waste the little time we have left before the war." Percy murmured, pressing a kiss to her temple before resuming his comfortable position.

She was quiet for a moment,"Well, we can always go on a date."

He raised a brow at this,"A date? Where?"

"Here!" She declared,"We can have a picnic on the river."

He smiled slightly,"Alright, but after the war we're going out to a nice restaurant."


"Yeah. I'm thinking Olive Garden."

"...Olive Garden?"

"For the breadsticks!"

Piper snorted,"We should go to Red Lobster. For the cheddar biscuits."

Percy looked appalled and he pulled away from her,"You'd pick cheddar biscuits over breadsticks? How are we even still dating?"

"I was asking myself the same question. I didn't realize my boyfriend had such poor taste."

He narrowed his eyes,"Well, if I have poor taste in anything it would be a poor taste in women." Piper laughed loudly at this, swatting his shoulder playfully and Percy grinned broadly at her as she leaned against him. Her grin was adorable and her laugh was music to his ears. It felt so nice to be with Piper again, and he couldn't help but feel extremely silly for avoiding her in the first place. Thalia and Nemesis were right, Piper didn't need space, she needed him to be there for her. And he needed her to be there for him.

When she finally calmed she said,"Well, I suppose I could always leave you for Lamia. She knows how to treat a woman."

Percy's face turned red and he stared at her in disbelief,"D-Don't even joke about that!" He whined,"Gods I would never hear the end of it if you left me for her." Piper snickered and Percy couldn't help but say,"Besides, you're not her type."

Piper stopped laughing and frowned at this,"Not her type?"

Percy smirked,"Nope."

"What's her type!"

"Hot girls with a nice personality-Ow! I'm kidding!" He yelped, laughing as he swatted Piper's pinching fingers away,"She prefers...well think about it, why do you think she's fluent in Swahili?"

Piper's eyes widened momentarily before a soft chuckle escaped her,"Ah, that makes sense. Hazel was monster-nip for her."

"Hazel was pretty cute."

"Oh you are so taking me to Red Lobster now."

Percy smiled sheepishly at her before planting a kiss on her cheek,"Whatever you say, beautiful."

This chapter is dedicated to my cousin Alison. Rest easy.

Gods this chapter took a LOT of work. I hope it was alright. Big fight chapter coming up and this story will be ending soon. Maybe two chapters left. Gonna miss these characters but it's time to say goodbye.

: Am I the first comment? Cause if so I'd take your number. Another great chapter by the way, whilst it may have been shorter, it didn't deter me from reading this awesome story.

That was a sick joke I made about having my number, it being 11. But hey if you're not a murderer than I'm down if you are. And I'm glad you liked it! It was shorter so I tried to compensate by writing this one.

TheWannnaBeWriter: Damn. You've been gone for a while. Nice to have you back. We've missed you

Shucks, I've missed being back. I'm trying to get more consistent but life is real hard man. Pause.



The Sorrowful Deity: Dildos! Dildos for everyone!

Do it for Harambe! Gods I can't believe I'm trying to revive this dead meme but I'm enjoying every second of it. DILDOS OUT FOR HARAMBE!