-Cry-

She sobbed into her pillow. Tears streamed down her face. Had she ever felt this useless? What was the point? She was in so much pain, but was not physically wounded. She had never known there was another kind. All she wanted to do was cry. Just cry. Let all that pain and sadness be washed away by the river of tears that snaked down her cheeks. No one else would see her sob. Maybe she wanted them to, so that they could comfort her. Maybe.

-Scream-

She had so much anger. There was so much hurt bottled up inside of her. Sadness was like grape juice. If left dormant for too long, it fermented into something much worse: anger. Clarisse was full of fury. After she had cried for a suitable amount of time, she screamed. She balled her fists and bashed her pillow and screamed.

-Sleep-

After sobbing and shouting, she slipped into a sweet cocoon of unconsciousness. There, dreams slipped in and out of her mind, and she let them come and go as they pleased. There, she felt soft breezes and warm winds, felt sand between her toes and a spear in her hand. There were victories and losses, but everything ended sweet in the end.

-Wake-

There was never a flurry of activity in the morning; it was mostly just people rushing, back and forth, to get ready to begin the day. She felt so out of place in her cabin in the early lights of dawn. There was sunshine, there was life. Clarisse was sure that she did not belong there. She did not belong anywhere, or so she was convinced.

-Cry-

After they had all left, she would cry. And she would cry some more. She would cry for the triumphs that were not, and the scenery that she had fallen in love with. There would be plenty of crying in those early mornings in the Ares cabin. Sometimes one does not cry for what they do not have, but for what they have lost. She would cry for the dreams that she loved even more than where she really was.

-Fake-

She had to pretend. She let her words, or the lack of, mislead those who talked to her..There was much pretending. There was still much sadness hidden behind her mask. One of her newfound talents was redirecting questions. "How are you?" was met with a "Good. And you? How's your new puppy?" Anything to take the attention away from her sorry condition.

-Smile-

She tried. Inside, she was dying, but Clarisse put on a smile for the rest of the world. She grinned and bared everything that was thrown her way, while on the inside, she just wanted to scream. She was a shaken bottle of soda, and soon she would, inevitably, explode. The cycle, it was true, would begin itself again. And again. And again. It would repeat. There was no stopping the gruesome sequence.

Or was there?

He was not one for romance. He was a child of darkness, and he had never really had great experiences with girls.

She didn't want a boyfriend. She thought the idea of bowing down to a male was just too humiliating.

-Cry-

He was there for her. He gave her a shoulder to cry on. When she sobbed, he offered a tissue and an "It'll be okay in the end." He was just the right blend of quiet and compassionate. There was a perfect balance, a seamless beauty. It was like they were made for each other. Each had their own problems, but his loneliness was paid for with her company, and her sadness was compensated with his care.

-Scream-

He simply stood back when she was about to lash out. He knew it wasn't healthy for her to keep her feelings bottled up inside. There was nothing beneficial to that. All that was gained was angst and anxiety. When she flew into an angry rage, he listened closely to everything that she complained about. He let her have her little moment of anger, and he talked her all the way through it.

-Sleep-

And when she curled up in her bunk, he sometimes sat with her even after she fell asleep. It wasn't necessarily allowed, and he was sure a large Ares kid would probably do him in if any of them ever found out, but he sat with her anyways. She looked so calm, so peaceful when she slept. She lost all the cares in the world. There was nothing and no one to bring her down.

-Wake-

In the mornings, when she felt hopeless and useless, he was there. He was there to give her comfort and support. He never left her side. There were days when she sobbed so hard that both of them missed breakfast, but he didn't care. It was the support she needed, and he loved her enough to give it to her. It was unconditional.

-Cry-

And he let her sob. He always just let her get it all out. He never told anyone about the tough girl's inner core of anxiety, pain, and fear. It was their little secret. She cried; he held her close, neither dared to let go. He considered it healthy to cry. It was okay to just pour out your soul. She was just afraid that they would all laugh. He convinced her otherwise.

-Fake-

He could always tell when she was wearing that mask, that phony happiness. He saw through it like a window and into her soul. It was somewhat easy to see, when she smiled like that with the tears in her eyes. Taking her hand, he always reminded her that it would be okay. A quick, nonchalant peck to the cheek was all it ever took.

-Smile-

And on their wedding, day, she cried happy tears. There was laughing and beaming and rings and sparkles. It was every girl's dream, and Clarisse decided to let herself be like every other girl, just for a day. And up on Olympus, Aphrodite sniffled joyously as Clarisse became Mrs. Nico di Angelo.

Many, many thanks to my beta, Rachel E Dare. You rock... and roll.