Chapter Eight

"Good morning," Annabeth greeted her family, sitting down at the table.

"Mornin'," Bobby and Mathew said together.

"Good morning Annabeth," Her mother said, not looking up from the bacon that was sizzling on the stove. "How was your Saturday? I was asleep when you came home."

"It was …. Eventful," She concluded.

"That's nice," Athena said, not caring.

"Were you with Percy?" The boys asked and Annabeth flinched at the sound of his name.

"No," She lied. "I was with Thalia."

"What? Thalia's in the hospital? Why are you lying?" Athena turned from the frying pan.

"What?" Annabeth asked, dumbstruck.

"She was admitted last night, someone beat her on the street," Patrick, Annabeth's father filled in for her. "Who were you with last night?"

"Well, I was with her and then Nico and I walked downtown after she left to go home," Annabeth said hastily.

"Really?" He asked.

"Yes."

"Ok, then."

When Thalia woke up, she wasn't in her own bed. Lifting her head, she saw her stepmother in a hospital chair, looking exhausted.

"Mom?" She said, sitting up.

"Thalia," She stroked her stepdaughter's hair. They always had a close relationship, being Thalia's only mother after her own had died. She was also the only she remembered. "Do you remember anything?"

Suddenly, everything flooded back like a wave of regret.

She remembered Annabeth running away, her stealing Jason's car, leaving Annabeth on the side of the road and then Jason hitting her.

"Annabeth," She choked hoarsely. "Where is she?"

"At home, dear, where else?" Hera chuckled. "I talked to Athena this morning."

Thalia sighed. "Why am I in here?" She asked, coming to her senses. "What happened?"

Hera's face darkened. "Thalia, Jason found you in an alley, someone knocked you out. You had quite the blood loss dear. You'll be fine by tomorrow, though."

"I wasn't beat up!" Thalia screeched, sitting up. "Jason- he- he-"

"He's just down stairs, he'll visit you soon."

"No! No, don't let him touch me-"

"Thalia, you've had your differences, but Jason loves you," Hera said gently.

"No! No, he hit-"

"Thalia," Jason's voice rang out like acid, dripping with hatred, not that Hera would realize.

"Jason," Said another voice, a feminine one. As the girl came into view, Thalia took a breath. "May I see Thalia?" Annabeth asked innocently.

Thalia answered for Jason.

"No you may not."

Percy awoke to two hands gripping his shoulders, shaking him violently.

"Get up!" the person said into his ear rather loudly.

"Tyson," Percy groaned. "Go away."

"It's not Tyson, its Nico."

Percy tensed, remembering yesterday. "I'm sorry," He said quietly.

"What's that?" Nico said innocently, sitting in Percy's desk chair.

"I'm sorry," Percy grumbled a little louder.

"Um, I have to tell you something," Nico admitted.

"What?" Percy sat bolt right up. Nico is never this serious.

"Well, Thalia's in the hospital."

It took Percy a few seconds to register this. "What?" He asked dumbly.

"Someone beat her on the streets," Nico said sadly. "I should have gone after her."

"Percy!" Poseidon's deep voice traveled up the stairs. "Get ready for church!"

Nico and Percy both groaned.

"Annabeth, he did this to me," Thalia hissed under her breath, once they were alone. "He hit me!"

Annabeth looked at her sadly. It took a bit of convincing from Hera (and Thalia) to let her see Thalia, but here she was. "No, Thalia, he found you and took you here," She patted Thalia's dark locks.

"Please believe me!"

"Thalia," Annabeth replied uneasily, sitting on the edge of her bed.

"Please! I'm dying," Thalia flayed her arms dramatically and flopped over onto her fluffed pillows.

Annabeth giggled.

"Hey guys," Nico said softly, coming into the hospital room. "How are you?" He asked Thalia.

Thalia put a serious face on. "Dying."

Nico gave her a concerned expression but turned away as he examined the doctor's notices.

"Please, Annabeth," Thalia started up again, "you have to believe me. He hit me! He abuses women!"

"Everyone's innocent until proven guilty, Hun."

"Oh, Lord, you gather us here today to honor you, and so we pray …." Rev. Hades DiAngelo droned on as the congregation bowed their heads.

Nico's father was a great Minister and all, but Nico, Percy and Annabeth all had worse thoughts to worry about. They sat in the very back row in the church, speaking in hushed voices after their visit to Thalia.

"She says that Jason hit her," Annabeth said quietly.

"He couldn't've! Jason's a good guy," Nico protested.

"She's just ditzy from the blood loss," Annabeth agreed.

"Or she's telling the truth," Percy said. Four eyes, two brown and two greys looked up at him.

"You really think that Jason would purposely hit her?" Nico questioned.

"Well, she did steal his car …" Annabeth added lightly.

"Whose side are you on?" Nico demanded. Annabeth laughed.

"Everyone's innocent until proven guilty."

"Everyone's innocent until proven guilty dear," One of Thalia's nurses said kindly. She was the fourth one to hear Thalia's ridiculous alibi about Jason.

"I will prove him guilty," She told herself. "I will …"

Nico, Annabeth and Percy sat in the diner, talking in hushed voices over a plate of nachos.

"Listen, Jason couldn't've! He didn't even see her; he was at the police station!" Nico told the other two. Percy was shoveling a nacho into his mouth while Annabeth beside him listened intensely. They hadn't talked a lot about last night; it was mostly just about Thalia, and when Percy would bring it up, the subject between them would suddenly change.

"He's just saying that!" Percy said in his normal voice. "Jason was the one who hit Thal-" He was cut off by a strong smack to the arm by Annabeth, who pointed at the doorway.

In strode Jason Grace, his hair astray and his blue eyes direct. He caught the trio staring at him and just waved before sitting down at a barstool.

"Let's go," Nico said in a low voice. Percy left ten dollars on the table before leaving Jason in the diner, staring after them.

"Where's Jason's car?" Percy asked when he was sure the diner door was shut firmly behind them.

"C'mon," Annabeth said, waving them towards a familiar silver buggy.

The three of them peered into the car, looking for god knows what, when the saw it.

Blood, on the passenger seat of Jason Grace's car.

"Now, Thalia," Hera fussed, tying Thalia's hair back with an elastic band. "Reverend DiAngelo is here to say a prayer with you for Sunday."

When Nico's father started to say the words of the Lord's Prayer, his own son and Percy and Annabeth burst into the room.

Hera walked over to them and told them to take a seat rather firmly. She wasn't greatly impressed with their manner.

"Bend your heads," She instructed. "We'll talk later."

Whilst their heads were bent and their hands folded, Annabeth couldn't help but sneak a peek at Percy, who, in fact, was doing the exact same thing. With a little smile, they turned their attention back to Hades.