Chapter Nine

Percy couldn't get to sleep that night. If Jason really did hit Thalia, why? That was all he could think about. The blood on the passenger seat of Jason's car was obviously Thalia's, but that could've been there from when Jason drove her to the hospital.

Percy stared at his ceiling, all the possibilities about the Grace siblings dancing in his head.

Annabeth would know what to think, he thought.

When he glanced at the grandfather clock in the living room, it had just stricken midnight. Annabeth would be asleep, obviously, but he needn't someone to vent to.

As if on cue, there was a knock on the door.

Percy, a little afraid that it may be Jason Grace, ready to admit him into the hospital with his sister, Percy grabbed a knife from the chunk of wood that sat on the counter.

Cautiously, he opened the door, only to reveal a mop of brown hair.

"Nico?" Percy lowered the knife. "What are you doing here?"

"I couldn't sleep, and by the looks of it," Nico eyed the knife gripped so tight in Percy's hand, his knuckles turned white, "you couldn't either."

Percy slipped the knife back in its block as Nico came inside. They sat at the kitchen table, discussing nothing out of the ordinary, until another knock sounded.

Percy didn't really take cautionary like he did before, but opened the door to reveal Annabeth in a flannel shirt and some jeans.

"Well," Percy smiled. "Come join the party."

Annabeth rolled her eyes, but came in and sat beside Nico. "We need to talk about yesterday." Her voice came out hoarse, like she was sick, or screaming, or straining it.

"Oh, back in that hospital room after my dad left," Nico grimaced. That was weird."

"And that's why we need to talk."

Percy remembered what Thalia said to them yesterday.

"The doctors gave her anesthesia to calm her while they did a small blood transfusion," Hera explained to them. "She's not all there," She chuckled. "I'll leave you kids alone, I guess."

After Hera left, Percy, Annabeth and Nico looked at each other awkwardly and then back at Thalia. Thalia was holding a mirror up to her face, counting the freckles on her nose until she stopped abruptly where a long, jagged scar started.

"Oh, Jason," She sang. "Why ruin my pretty face? No one will like me, and it's your entire fault," Thalia became angrier. She threw the mirror across the room until it made a satisfying shattering sound. Thalia grinned.

"Hello," Annabeth said timidly. "You know us, right?"

"Oh, Annabeth," Thalia grinned. "My best friend, the one whom I left on the side of the road. You're the reason why I have this," Thalia pointed to the scar once again. "It's not all Jason, you know. It's you too-"

"Thalia," Nico said warningly.

"Oh Nico," Thalia laughed. "Don't worry. You can't hide from death too much longer."

"Do you remember me?" Percy asked with his jaw clenched.

"Oh, yes, Perseus Jackson," Her voice echoes in the cement hospital room, "lovely, handsome Perseus. You're too idiotic and oblivious for your own good. Now, just wait, you'll be a little mad too. We're all a little mad."

She smiled like Lucifer would have, moments before he fell from heaven.

"We're all a little mad, Perseus."

"Percy," Annabeth waved a hand in front of his face. He shook himself out of that flashback. It was too weird, much too weird.

"What did she mean by 'you can't hide from death'?" Nico asked, his pupils growing large. "Is she going to kill me?"

"Nico, don't be ridiculous, that's like asking blood why it's black, of course she isn't. She was as high as a kite in that hospital room." Annabeth's voice was quiet. She was obviously remembering how Thalia told Annabeth that her scar was her fault too.

Everyone was silent for a few minutes, until there was yet another knock on the door.

"Come with me," Jason said.

~oOo~

Thalia screamed, and no matter what they did, Zeus and Hera could not get her to calm down.

"Thalia," Her father soothed. "Calm down. It's okay, we're here now."

Thalia continued to scream.

"Get a nurse," He told his wife in a monotone so she couldn't read his emotions. She nodded.

When a nurse came in the room, Thalia stopped screaming. "I just want to go home," She said.

"The anesthesia hasn't worn off yet," The nurse informed them. "Thalia, do you know where you are?"

"I'm in a hospital because someone beat me up on the side of the street," Thalia said uneasily.

"Do you remember who?"

"No," Thalia answered truthfully. "But someone gave me a needle."

"That was me, honey," The nurse patted her arm.

"No it wasn't," Thalia said. "It was my brother."

~oOo~

"No," Annabeth answered. "Absolutely not."

"Why not, Annie?" Jason smirked.

"Because you might hit us like you hit Thalia," Nico answered. He was calm, which is the opposite of what Percy thought he would react like.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," He said grimly. The three looked at each other and came to a decision.

Five minutes later, they were all seated in Jason's buggy, breathing heavily.

Annabeth grabbed both Percy and Nico's hand for reassurance. They squeezed each other's hands tightly as Jason started to speak.

"I didn't hit her."

"She said you did," Annabeth said quietly.

"And you really believe her? She's stoned off hospital drugs, saying nonsense, saying that I did that to her, when all I've done is love her," Jason genuinely looked like he was on the verge of tears. "I guarantee that isn't the way she thinks. She's just out of it; blood's not rushing to her head."

"So if you didn't hit her, who did?"

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about Annabeth," Jason said steadily. Percy tightened his grip on Annabeth's hand.

"Did you hit her?" Jason asked.

"Watch it, Jason," Nico grumbled.

"Woah, woah, calm down DiAngelo," Jason smirked. "I'm just asking."

"Thalia's my best friend," Annabeth said quietly. "I would never hit her."

"Well, she did leave you on the side of the rad."

"How do you know that?" Annabeth demanded, finding her strong voice again.

"Because she told me."

"Take us home, Jason," Percy said his first sentence since the entered Jason's car.

"Whatever, I just wanted answers about my sister," Jason shrugged.

"Well, we don't have them," He grumbled.

When Jason pulled up at Percy's house, they all got out.

"I'm going to go home now," Nico announced warily.

Poor Nico, Annabeth thought. He must be so stressed.

When they saw Nico's shadowy figure go into his house next store, Annabeth turned to Percy, who just opened his arms.

Annabeth sniffed and walked into them, engulfing her in the smell of Percy: candy and salt water.

And they stayed like that for a long time.