A/N: I meant to get this up last night, but school has killed me! I hope you enjoy this one.
Someone asked me if Cas would get a POV...maybe I'll do a one-shot, but I doubt it. I was trying to keep it to mostly Artemis and Apollo, with a few from Orion's POV. If that's something you guys would like I'd love to make that happen! Just let me know :)
Now here's your refresher:
Apollo set the arrow against her chest, rage taking over him as he looked at the terrified girl in front of him. Cas was shaking from head to toe, but she never backed down from him.
"You have three seconds to explain and do not lie to me," he warned in an authoritative tone. She held up her hands, and she looked right into his eyes. She may have been scared, but her eyes were stern and insistently brave. She took a deep breath, her words coming out far more steady than he thought possible.
"I've never lied to you. I'm not her. Cassandra is my ancestor…or at least that's what I've been told."
"Excuse me?" Apollo snapped. "Cassandra didn't have any children!"
"She had twins, didn't she?"
Apollo thought back…His past with Cassandra wasn't easy to forget. He had cursed her, along with all of her offspring that had her gift, to never be believed. The myths had said that he got angry when she denied him. It was true, but Cassandra had played him. Gods don't tolerate that sort of thing. After the Trojan War, Agamemnon had taken her as a slave, and she had two children by him, a set of twins. Cassandra and her children were murdered by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, Agememnon's wife and her lover. He had made sure. Cassandra had deserved her curse, but he wasn't cruel enough to actually inflict it upon her children. He would have figured something out.
"They died. I know they died," he swore.
"They did, or everyone thought they did. I don't know how it happened," she whispered.
"And who told you this?"
Apollo lowered the arrow. He examined Cas's face, tried to read it. Gods almost always knew when they were being lied to. Being the god of healing, there were things he just knew about mortals. Cas's heart was beating frantically, but it was even. Her adrenaline was high, a small tremor shaking her frame. She was feverish still, apparent from her pale face and flushed cheeks. He wanted to believe her, but there was too much unanswered.
"I'm going to ask you questions, and you are going to answer them. Do you understand me?"
Cas nodded her head, and Apollo sat at her desk chair with his bow and arrow in hand. Cas sat up and curled in on herself, wrapping her arms around her legs.
"So you have Cassandra's curse. You don't know how. How did you figure that out? You said Isis."
"Yes, I made a deal with her. Gods don't do anything for free," she reminded him.
"So you've said," Apollo huffed as he rolled his eyes. "Maybe I won't blast you into Tartarus if you tell me what's going on. How's that for a deal?"
Cas just turned to stare at him, her face perfectly void of emotion. "Fine. It's a really long story."
"Well then, start talking," he ordered.
Cassia took a deep breath, her eyes never looking over at Apollo. "My parents are demigods," she muttered.
Apollo blanched in disbelief. He didn't feel any godly blood in her. It explained a lot, how she knew about them and other things.
"Are they Egyptian?"
"No, they're Roman," she explained. "My father is a son of Bellona, my mother a daughter of Mercury. I was born in New Rome."
"Romans don't stray far from their own," Apollo noted.
"My parents would still be there if it wasn't for me. They were going to kick us out, so they left before they could be disgraced."
Apollo was at a loss for words. Cas looked broken, like she had that day in the chem lab. "Why were they going to kick you out?"
"I've had this… curse…for as long as I can remember. My parents kept it hidden. No one ever saw my back, they made sure of it. They thought I was unstable. I didn't know how to deal with what I saw, and the older I got, the more frequently the visions came. I tried to tell them what was going on, but they didn't believe me. No matter what I said, no matter how hard I begged, no one would believe me. I got in trouble a lot, challenged my superiors, but all I was trying to do was help.
I was teased all the time; they even had a name for me: Crazy Cassi. I had no friends, and everyone stayed away from me. My parents begged me to be quiet, to stop telling so many lies. But I couldn't. I couldn't let people get hurt, and I didn't understand that they couldn't see.
One of my commanders found out about my mark, and that was it. How I was cursed? That didn't matter to them. The cursed don't live in New Rome. My parent's reputation was ruined, so they left. I had embarrassed them enough. We moved to New York, the farthest away we could get. I had a vision, and I knew I'd get answers if I found Isis. So I went to Brooklyn, and she gave me information if I went on missions for her. I knew that's how gods worked from my parents."
"How old were you?" he asked. He knew the Romans didn't tolerate insubordination. If she didn't get in line, they banished them. But she was young now…how old had she been when she went through all of this?
"I had just turned seven when we moved. I was nine when I went on my first quest."
"You went on a quest for an Egyptian goddess… when you were nine years old?" Apollo asked in disbelief. Cas nodded her head, playing with a stand of her hair.
"I was miserable. Anything, even death, would have been better than where I was, or at least I thought it. I made it through the quest, and she told me that my ancestor was Trojan. I did a little research, and it all made sense. I came to her with my assumptions, and she told me that I was correct. I was Cassandra's ancestor, and because I had the sight, I had inherited her curse. She helped me hone in my visions using magic, and I taught myself how to fight. Orion and Actaeon helped, although Orion didn't realize he was. If it wasn't for Actaeon, I never would have discovered my gift."
Cas finally looked at him, a spark of life in her eyes. Apollo blinked, and she was gone. He stood up, looking for her, but she appeared on the other side of the room. Cas smiled weakly, grabbed something from the dresser, and then she was in front of him.
"I can disappear and reappear at will. The farther it is, the more tired I am after. I've gone as far as cross country. I've seen shadow travelers, but I don't have to use shadows."
"That's how you disappeared that day after detention."
Cas nodded her head, taking a step back to sit on her bed. The object she picked up was clasped tightly in her hand. She looked down at the floor, but her eyes were far away. He wanted to bring her back, to see where her mind had gone in that moment.
"That's a handy power," he noted appreciatively. Cas just shrugged her shoulders. "How did you get mixed up in this mess?"
"You seem to care an awful lot about him," he surmised. "Why?"
"When we came here, I begged my parents to move into this house, because I knew Orion was next door. He was…like me. He had secrets of his own, and if I acted strange, it wouldn't bother him. He would be my friend, the first one I had ever had. I knew who he was, but he accepted me without knowing my past. I made a decision not to tell him about myself. He seemed to want to live a normal life, and I wasn't going to tarnish that with my crazy. I love him like he was my brother. He is my family. I'd do anything for him because he gave me something no one else had ever given me."
"His trust. He didn't ask why I'd want to take certain streets, why I'd zone out at different times. He never questioned why I did something, or when I told him to do stuff. Maybe he knew I was special, I don't know…but no one had ever given me that. And I can't lose him."
Apollo could see the pain and anguish in her eyes. He never, ever wanted to inflict that curse on a child. What he did…even if he didn't know he did it…was cruel. He wondered how many others had suffered. Cas was so good at hiding things, at keeping her curse to herself. He had no idea how she made it out of this as strong and capable as she was. He knew she was telling the truth because pain that clear and evident couldn't be faked.
"You know he reincarnates, right? He'll die around seventeenth birthday no matter what," Apollo gently. Cas closed her eyes and nodded her head.
"When I was twelve, I saw that he would. There was this scorpion…I couldn't let one of my only friends die like that. I went to Isis, begged her for a way to free him of this curse. She's Egyptian; they are the experts in reincarnation and the afterlife. I figured if anyone knew what to do, she would. She told me that there was nothing I could do to free him without killing him. So I asked for something else, something I knew he would want."
Cas held out her hand, and Apollo made his bow vanish, and he reached out. She dropped a necklace into his waiting hand. It was made of aged gold, with an arrow linked to it.
"You got him jewelry?" Apollo asked dubiously. Cas rolled her eyes, a grin on her face. In that moment, she looked like herself, and Apollo couldn't help but smile back.
"Yes, but that's not the gift. I've had the necklace forever, but the spell is what's new. If he wears it, it will follow him into all his lives, and it will keep his death from being so painful."
Apollo looked at the necklace again, his thumb rubbing the charm. He noticed it now, the subtle aura that powerful objects gave off.
"How did you manage to get Isis to do this for you?" Apollo knew that something this powerful didn't come without a price. Gods definitely didn't do something like this for free.
"I paid for it. I started picking up work for her and a few others after I saw her. Four years, and I finally got it paid off last week."
"That's why you were hurt," he muttered. Apollo was starting to but things together. "I saw you with Actaeon, when you threatened him. You said something about a book?"
"Yeah, I had to get it for Isis before someone else did, but that's another story," she sighed. "If I got it, then I got the spell. I would have cut it close if it wasn't for that."
"Cutting it close? What do you mean? Is that why you wanted Actaeon to stay away from the school? To keep Artemis and him from running into each other?"
"Things began to change when Aphrodite showed up, which was before you and your sister did. I saw her talking to Orion. I don't give off a demigod vibe, which is why most of the immortals don't bother to notice me until they do…anyways, I just knew that she was plotting, and Orion was getting involved. I kept getting flashes…nothing was set in stone, but none of it was good. I begged Orion to stay away from her, but he didn't listen. I didn't understand why, and then the two of you and your posse showed up. I almost had a heart attack." Cas ran her hand through her hair, and Apollo saw a teal streak at the nape of her neck.
"You didn't see us coming. That day in class, you didn't act funny until Athena walked in," Apollo realized.
"I knew you and your sister would, but not the others. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on. I remembered that Orion and Artemis had a thing. You haven't seen him, but I have. He never goes out on dates, and he only went to dances and stuff when my parents made me and I begged him. He could get any girl he wanted, but he always brushed them off. I saw the way he looked at her, and I knew. He's in love with your sister. Aphrodite was trying to set them up, and you guys were trying to keep them apart." Her voice was a little accusatory, and even her expression screamed disapproval. She was loyal to her friend.
"We weren't exactly trying to keep them apart. You see, um… Artemis didn't exactly know he was alive," he muttered. He explained everything; how Athena came to him, how they were trying to keep Artemis from going berserk, and how once she did find out, she wanted to get to know him. He also explained how Orion acted like he didn't remember, that it was the price for Aphrodite interfering. Cas's face fell, her eyes going strangely blank. She tilted slightly, but Apollo caught her before she fell off the bed. He sat beside her, and her eyes rested on his hands. She looked sheepishly up at him as she extracted herself from his arms.
"Sorry," she muttered as she wrapped her arms around her knees. She was trying to hide the blush on her cheeks, which almost made Apollo want to laugh.
"What did you see?"
"Um, nothing important, I promise," she gulped. Apollo reached over, brushing her hand in what he hoped was a comforting gesture.
"You don't have to be embarrassed about the visions and stuff. I get it. I'm the god of prophecy after all," he added with a wink. Cassia laughed, and warmth blossomed in his chest. She looked her age for a moment, without all the weight holding her down.
"Thanks, but I'm still not telling you. It was embarrassing for me," she explained. Cas moved out of his reach and then sat with her legs crossed on the end of her bed. "What you said makes sense then. I thought Orion was just acting that way around me to keep me from knowing. I didn't know he was hiding it. That was stupid. All I knew was that if Artemis saw Actaeon, then all hell would break loose."
"Well," Apollo sighed as he fell against the bed, "it has at that."
He felt the bed shift. Apollo opened his eyes, looking over to see Cas mirroring his position on the other side. She had her eyes closed, taking deep breaths. He propped himself up on his elbow, looking over at her.
"What happened yesterday?"
"The future changed," Cas snorted in a sarcastic tone.
"Well I know that, but why did you get sick like that? You still look like you don't feel good."
"There was just so much at once; it was too overwhelming for my brain. Your sister bolting changed a lot, and it triggered a vision. Things are still changing, and its wearing me out."
Cas had curled up on her side as she spoke, her arm tucked up underneath her head. Her hair fanned out above and behind her head. She closed her eyes again, the shadows underneath them prominent against her pale skin. He didn't mind her resting. Hades, it looked like she needed it desperately. There was a simple thought nagging at him, something he didn't understand, and his curiosity got the better of him.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," she murmured tiredly.
"Why are you trying to help so much? You could just ignore them," he pointed out, "but you don't. Why do you make it harder for yourself?" Cas opened her eyes, the violet going strangely well with her extra pale skin. Her eyes widened slightly, but she looked confused.
"Why wouldn't I help? I was given a gift. It may be cursed, but it's still something precious. I see the future, which means I have a chance to change it, to save people from suffering. Some things might be set in stone, but others can be changed. My life might be hell, but I'm going to do my best to save others from that kind of pain if I can."
Apollo just stared at her. At the beginning of this conversation, he had so many doubts about her, but now, he didn't doubt her at all. He knew who she was: Cassia was someone that never deserved to have this curse. Her whole life was full of pain, hidden behind her bravado and sarcastic wit. The people who were meant to love her most wrote her off as crazy. He remembered what Aphrodite told him: She's got a very loving heart for a mortal, especially for one that has experienced as much pain as she has…Her heart is very guarded. She's been hurt terribly by the ones that she loves, but it doesn't change how much she would do for them. He had wondered what they meant, but now, he knew. She was probably one of the loneliest people in the world, but she loved hard. She didn't seem mad or resentful at her parents. Her circumstances were out of her control, and she was just trying to deal with the fallout. She was the bravest, most selfless person he had ever met.
"You are a good person, Cassia," he whispered. He made a vow to himself right then that he would find a way to free her from this. Curses were hard to break, but it could be done. "And I'm sorry. I'm sorry this happened to you. I never intended for anyone else to bear her curse."
"It's okay, you don't-
"Stop," he ordered. She closed her mouth, a wondering expression on her face. "You deserve a hell of a lot more than life has dealt you. I don't say that often about a mortal, and I don't apologize. You are nothing like Cassandra." He took a deep breath, sitting up on the bed. This was a lot to process, and he needed to start looking for his sister. "I need to go, and you need to get some sleep."
Apollo got up from her bed, crossing over to her bedroom door. He walked down the stairs, but just as he stepped out the front door, he heard her scrambling down after him.
He turned as she grabbed the door, leaning into it like she was about to fall out. Her breathing was a little ragged, her cheeks pinking up slightly from her trying to catch to him.
"For what?" he asked incredulously. He didn't think she had anything to apologize about.
"For not being quick enough, for not handling it correctly, and for not knowing where Artemis is. If I see anything, I will tell you, I promise."
Apollo reached forward, tucking her hair behind her ear. He could feel so much in the brief moment his skin touched hers: the way she tensed up, the skip of her heart, the fatigue in her muscles and bones. He kept it there, enjoying the warmth that radiated off her skin.
"I know you would. Don't you dare blame yourself for this. Everyone has a choice, Cas, and that's something you can't always change. You have nothing to apologize for."
She nodded her head, and Apollo brushed his thumb across her cheek. Part of him wanted to do more, but he couldn't anymore. They very thought of causing her any kind of pain was maddening. He had hurt her enough, and she deserved better than that.
"Get some sleep, Cas."
Ahh, so what did you think? Let me know in a review!