Wow, it's been like almost exactly half a year. (Thanks for the threat, I-AM-JANUS, got me motivated) Long time no see! I gotta admit though, I really like this chapter. I hope you do too!
Disclaimer: If I owned PJO, Luke would have been able to live; the knife would have just killed Kronos.
The next time she saw him was 103 years later. Things were changing faster and faster with all the new technology. Thalia's memories were starting to slip away from her.
The Huntresses often visited thrift and antique stores when they didn't have anything to hunt, looking at things that were brand new when they were mortal. It was usually just the newer hunters that tried to hold onto their memories, but even some of them tried to forget. Most of them had joined the Hunt for a reason, after all.
Thalia was one of the few who tried desperately to remember everything. She even went far enough to write down everything about the first 15-ish years of her life. She reread it every few years, and added things to it when they surfaced.
Maybe that's how she built up those few words she might have imagined hearing into so much more.
The Hunters were after Lycaon (for the hundredth time it seemed) in the winter of 2133. He and his pack had led them to some small blustery town near the Minnesotan shore of Lake Superior.
Thalia tried to keep her girls away from mortals as much as possible; the Mist did hide most things, but sometimes a clear-sighted mortal or a young demigod would see the troop of 30 adolescent girls with their bows and hunting wolves, following or fighting some horrible monster. She tried not to scar them.
Apparently Lycaon didn't agree with her methods, seeing as he led them straight into the town. They were getting close; too close to skirt the place and pick up the trail on the other side.
Thalia sighed, "Jessica," she called over her shoulder and the daughter of Ares was next to her in an instant. "Take your girls around to the other side. The rest of us will head straight through. Let's see if we can trap him."
Jessica nodded, "Split up, girls! Beta, follow me!"
Once they had left, Thalia turned and waved her girls forward.
As they marched towards the town, the wind that had already been blowing hard, picked up. One thing you should know about Minnesota –especially around the great lakes- the weather can change for the worst fast and the wind is freakin' cold.
Soon the snow picked up as well, and the visibility was quickly reducing. The girls trudged through, fanning out and searching the entire town, but as soon as Thalia saw Jessica and the others, she realized Lycaon was gone.
"Thalia!" Jessica shouted over the ever-worsening storm. "He's gone, and we ain't gonna catch him in this. We gotta hunker down somewhere!"
Thalia nodded, and was about to head out to find somewhere to pitch camp, but figured they would have a hard time doing it in this wind. She looked around at the buildings on this street, and saw a small restaurant with only a few others, caught be the storm, sitting inside.
"Tell your dogs to find a snow bank and dig caves to stay warm in until we can come get them. Then everyone get in there," she pointed.
The girls all filed in, and sat at the tables. There ended up not being enough chairs, so Thalia and Jessica decided to sit up and the counter.
The man next to them was drinking coffee, and staring down at a blank page in a notebook. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, with brownish-red hair and glasses.
When the two girls sat down next to him, he glanced up at them quickly, and then at the rest of the girls in the room, as if only just realizing it was full.
He watched him for a minute or so, then picked up a pencil and began writing. Every so often he would watch them for a bit, and then go back to his work.
Thalia blamed her ADHD, or maybe her dyslexia and the fact that she couldn't read over his shoulder, but her curiosity got the best of her.
"Excuse me, sir," She tapped him on the arm. "What are you writing about my girls?"
"Oh," he looked up at her, startled. "Um, well, I was kind of stuck in the story I'm writing but I guess they gave me an idea." He turned back to his notebook, meaning to end the conversation.
"What's it about?" Thalia asked while swiveling on the stool.
"Jeez, kid, didn't your parents teach you about personal privacy and stranger danger and all that?"
Jessica, knowing who Thalia's parents were, snorted, but tried to cover it with a cough. Thalia just rolled her eyes at him.
"No, sir, my parents never taught me that."
The man seemed taken aback for a few moments, and then turned back to his work. "It's just trash. That's what everyone else says."
"Well, at least tell me what idea my girls gave you."
The man sighed, seemingly in defeat. "Fine. The story has a lot of Greek myths in it, but it's set in contemporary times. The girls reminded me of a story about the immortal Hunters of Artemis."
Thalia glanced at Jessica, a laugh in her electric blue eyes. "Well, we know a lot about the Huntresses. Anything Greek related actually. So, the story takes place nowadays?"
"No, actually. I placed it in the late 20th to early 21st century."
Thalia didn't know why, but the man's enthusiasm for something he thought was fantasy and she knew was real was hilarious.
"What's it about?" Jessica spoke up, repeating Thalia's earlier question.
"You kids actually interested in Greek mythology?"
"Please, mister, our whole lives are Greek mythology." The man didn't get Thalia's joke.
"Well, um, it starts with the main character running away from home because monsters attack him and he wants to protect his mother. He finds out his father is Hermes, and then he meets this wonderful girl, who's a daughter of Zeus. They travel the country by themselves for a while, and then the two meet a little girl, who can outsmart both of them even though she's seven, because she's a daughter of Athena. The three become a family, replacing the ones they ran away from. The rest of the story is still just thoughts, but like I said, your girls gave me the idea for the Hunters of Artemis finding them. Maybe they want to recruit the girls, but they won't join because it would split up their 'family'." The man paused before continuing.
"I don't know why, but I have this nagging in the back of my head. Once I get an idea for the story, it's hard to change it, and I have this feeling the older girl will die, and the main character will realize just how much he loves her, as she's passing in his arms."
He glanced up at Thalia and misread the shocked expression on her face.
"I know, deep right?"
"No," Thalia jumped up, recognizing her story, recognizing who she was talking to. "No, don't give them a tragedy. Give them a happily ever after."
"Kid," he scoffed, "life doesn't always end up happily ever after."
"I KNOW!" She exploded, then tried to calm herself down. "I know, trust me, I know. Life never ends up perfect. My life has been tragedy after tragedy. That's why people read the freakin' books! Don't give them –they don't deserve-"
His phone rang loudly, cutting her off.
"Sorry, gotta take this. It's my wife."
Those last three little words sent Thalia's mind reeling. Luke hadn't come back for her, he'd forgotten her. She sat there in shock until he finished his conversation.
"Sorry, again," he apologized. "She was wondering where I was, the storm an' all."
Thalia glanced out side; the storm was still raging, but it seemed to have calmed down a notch and would be traversable for the Huntresses. They could set after Lycaon again soon.
"Jessica, gather the girls. I think we're good to go."
As Thalia stood to follow the troop, the man grabbed her arm.
"Hey, I never caught your name. Maybe I could put you in the story as the lieutenant of Artemis." He smiled, as though it was a great offer. For a second she smirked at the irony.
"I'm already in your story, Luke," she said softly. "I'm Thalia."
"Yah know, you even look a bit like I imagined her," he said, not understanding. Then a shadow of confusion crossed his face. "Wait… I never told you their names. Were you reading over my shoulder?"
"Don't give us a tragedy, Luke," she said brushing her eye as she walked past him into the wind.
Later that night, the man, lying in bed next to his wife, with his kids down the hall, couldn't sleep. He lay, staring at the ceiling, wondering why the young girl he had talked to in a coffee shop for half an hour felt so familiar, and why she made everything he had accomplished feel so worthless.
He also wondered how she had known the manes of his main characters. He had looked down at his notebook later; their names were never mentioned. It only held ideas about the Hunters.
Playing back the memory, he realized something. She hadn't just known the main characters' names, she said she was the character; she was Thalia, and it was her story. She had called him Luke. His name was Matthew.
The way the story seemed so real, the way she seemed so familiar; it all confused him. It was a small town, so he decided to find her and ask her the next day.
But she was gone. And after a time, he forgot her.
Thalia sat in her tent, thinking, for a long time. Just thinking about how much pain Luke had caused her. She just wanted to forget it all.
She scrambled through her pack until she found her journal. Just as she found it, Jessica walked in.
"Get rid of it," Thalia stood up and pressed it into Jessica's hands.
"Thals, are you sure-"
"Just get rid of it," she pressed, a crazed look seeping into her eyes.
Jessica nodded reluctantly, and retreated out of the tent, but she didn't dispose of it. Jessica had joined the Hunt soon after Thalia, and she knew her story. The girls were best friends, and Jessica knew Thalia would regret throwing this away, someday.
So after Thalia fell asleep, she hid it in her own pack.
A few years later, Matthew Daniels made the bestsellers list with his debut novel, a story of two kids trying to escape Greek mythology.
It had a happy ending.
And one night, when the black-haired lieutenant wasn't looking, a young girl snuck away to a book store, and bought that book. She hid it in her pack next to an old journal that held the same story.