Summary: A semi-monster hunt goes wrong and Thalia is forced to deal with a concussed Percy. Along the way, she learns a few things. Set between Sea of Monsters and Titan's Curse.

"An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes."

- Cato

When the Smoke Cleared

"Of all the people on this planet to get stuck with, I'm slapped in the face with you."

Percy made a face behind Thalia's back and continued trudging through the woods, stepping over fallen branches and moss-covered rocks.

"I don't usually endorse hitting women, but, man, sometimes I get these urges…"

Thalia stopped in her tracks to turn and glare at him.


Percy smiled and said, "I try my best."

Thalia rolled her eyes in spite and continued, "Whatever, I just want to find this chick and get out of here."

Apparently a distraught Andrea Payler from the Aphrodite cabin had stormed into the woods after finding out that her long-time boyfriend at her old school had cheated on her. An hour later and no Andrea and the camp Maybelline representatives decided that somebody should look for her. Obviously in fear of breaking a nail, they had delegated a recovery mission upon the "nothing better to do" people to care of it.

Man, he'd been spending too much time with Annabeth.

Basically Chiron had gotten a little worried and sent Thalia and Percy to search for her on the eastern side of the forest.

Chiron, for reasons unknown, and a little infuriatingly, had decided that Annabeth didn't need to be informed and that Percy and Thalia could handle it.

Maybe he thought they were dense or something, but they both knew what this was.

It was an attempt for them to "bond" or something.

Percy had to scoff at that in his head. They didn't get along, not even close. She just irritated him. She was constantly crabby and snotty and absolutely positive she was right every single time. Of course, Annabeth was all gung-ho that her long since considered dead best friend was alive. Miss Wise Girl had decided that Thalia could do no wrong. Percy wasn't a jealous guy, it just got annoying when Annabeth constantly took Thalia's side without even considering that he wasn't the one doing the wrong.

"Percy," Annabeth had pleaded. "Has it ever occurred to you that you two are too alike?"

"No," Percy had shaken his head gravely. "My field goal percentage is much higher beyond the arc."

Annabeth played dumb about the basketball reference and continued to push. He pushed back.

Not especially known for her patience, Annabeth had slammed her books on the table and turned to him, "Gods, Percy, why don't you cut her some slack? She's been through way more than you have, and deserves a break now and then!"

Percy wasn't an easily insulted guy, either. But ouch. It was hard not to be offended by that. Score one to Annabeth with the straight up bitchslap.

He was insulted. They hadn't really talked for the past two days, because his wounded pride was aching, and she just bothered him sometimes.

But she hadn't been wrong either, which was probably what bothered him most. Thalia had been through a ton. She'd grown up alone, survived on her own, saved Annabeth's life, and sacrificed herself for her friends without hesitation. Then she'd been miraculously cured and told she was once again the prophecy child.

Percy didn't know how he felt about that. He'd worn that burden for close to year now, and part of him was reluctant to let it go, lest it get shoved back onto him again. He just knew that he'd rather be the one to carry it than her. Thalia was vulnerable and unpredictable, and it didn't seem like she needed anymore baggage.

Yeah, Percy had a soft side, who knew?

They're relationship issues weren't just his fault though. She prodded and provoked him all the time. It was the regular stabs to his already low self-esteem, subtle remarks that he didn't know Annabeth at all, and the angry digs about his leadership skills. In her opinion, he didn't have any. She was one to talk.

A loud cracking noise brought Percy back to the present. Thalia had stepped on a branch. Percy fiddled with his pen in his pocket and searched for some sort of sign of a rejected teenage girl. A black hole in the ground caught his eye.

"Hey, wait up," he called out. He crouched on the ground, bouncing on his heels, and fingered the torn piece of fabric in his hand.

Thalia's frowning face loomed over his and she said, "So she's been around here. Running probably. Not a good sign."

Percy examined it for a second longer and started, "Well she got a monster. There's dust on half of this."

"So Princess Peach isn't completely defenseless?"

Percy shrugged and stood. "Apparently not."

Continuing through the woods, carefully looking out for signs of a struggle, Percy started to worry. They weaved between the trees for another half hour, searching rather fruitlessly.

"Well, this isn't a good sign," Thalia breathed, crossing her arms and facing him.

Percy furrowed his eyebrows and spun in a circle. "Definitely not. She's been through here recently. Maybe she swerved off to the left or something. I don't really know—"

"Percy! Percy is that you? Percy! Help! It's after me! Help!"

He was pretty sure that Thalia wasn't the one calling his name.

Both Percy and Thalia jumped to attention and started running towards the source of Andrea's screams. They hadn't been far away, yards in fact, just obscured by the thick trees. He jumped over a large bush and into a clearing, out of breath and in front of Andrea. She didn't look great. Her hair was knotted with leaves and dirt, scratches and streaks of mud covering her clothing.

"Oh thank gods!" she squeaked, stumbling over her snapped flip-flops and throwing her arms around Percy. "The-the thing's been after me for the past hour and I tried to run and I couldn't and it just kept following me and I got lost and my ankle hurts and Percy thanks gods you're here!"

Percy managed to unlock Andrea's grip and held her out in front of him. "Hey, hey, hey, calm down. It'll be all right. What's after you? Do you know what it is?" he said soothingly.

Andrea shakily peeled her sweaty hair from her cheeks and tucked it behind her ears. "I don't know, it was big and gross and kind of looked like an overgrown leprechaun."

"Leprechaun?" Thalia asked skeptically from behind them, eyebrows raised.

Unaware that Thalia was around, Andrea startled and stepped back. She looked at Thalia with uncertainty lining her features.

"Well," Percy mediated, "we'll head back now, and hope to the gods that the thing lost interest. We're both armed and you'll be fine, okay?"

Andrea seemed to collect herself and took a deep breath, nodding quickly. "Yeah, of course, got it. Thanks so much, Percy. I didn't mean to be gone so long; I was just angry and hurt and wanted to be alone and lost track of time. Then that creature tried to kill me, so I bolted. Gosh, Percy, I swear it was like it was in two places at once. It laughed at me."

Percy swept a few stray leaves from Andrea's shoulders, turning her towards the direction of camp, and steering her back into the woods.

"Well, I have you covered, so let's just get started. You ran pretty far out here."

Thalia was following them with bland disinterest, although Percy could feel her drilling holes into his shoulders.

Andrea stuck close to Percy's side and started rambling, "I really didn't mean to be gone so long! Oh gosh, Chiron sent you guys after me. How embarrassing! I'm so sorry! This is horrible! I never meant to make anyone worry!"

"It's okay, really. We're just glad you're all right."

Thalia's snort didn't go unnoticed.

As they treaded through the woods, Percy's skin started to tingle, and they weren't—hey, she's rather attractive—tingles. Something was up.

"Andrea, when's the last time you saw that thing?"

Thalia ran into his back because he stopped so suddenly.

"A half hour ago, why? Is something wrong? Is it back?"

Percy's shoulders stiffened and he heard Thalia's knife slide from its sheath. Their breaths slowed to an indiscernible silence. The wind whistled through the trees.

"Percy, what's—"

Chaos broke lose. The monster burst through the trees with an earth-shaking roar, launching through the air. Percy and Thalia both dove to their separate sides, scrambling to their feet. Percy was fumbling for his pocket, pulling out his pen and popping to his knees, only to watch the creature dive towards Thalia, getting a vertical that cleared her head like a hurdle.

When the thing turned, Percy was greeted with one of the stranger things he'd seen in his lifetime, and that was saying something. Andrea hadn't been kidding when she said it looked like a leprechaun. It was short, but thick and stocky, with a hairy chest and long red beard. Its teeth were bared and yellow, most rotting or missing. The beast's eyes were tiny compared to its misshapen head, squished together and nearly covered with thick eyebrows.

The thing let out a guttural yell, springing into the air in a beeline for Thalia's head. She was sliding over her feet in a mad rush to get out of the way.

"Stay down!" Percy screamed, Riptide in his hand.

Thalia had flattened herself against the ground and the monster was seconds away from pouncing on her like a starving lion.

When he'd told her to not move, Percy had had a plan.

He threw Riptide.

Normally he cherished his baby, wouldn't dream of purposely letting her leave his hand. But this monster was fast and sometimes you had to do what you had to do.

Riptide whistled through the air like a spear and slid into the creature's side, exploding in a shower of dust all over Thalia.

Percy huffed a surprised laugh and raised his fists in the air.

"GOAL! To think I told my mother that I was a championship javelin thrower in a past life and she didn't believe me."

Thalia was shaking herself off and turned to look at Percy with a stunned expression on her face.

"That was—"

Percy didn't get to hear the rest. A heavy weight slammed into his side, throwing him airborne. The world spun in dizzying circles past Percy's eyes, branches and leaves scratching his face, and the distinct feeling of the wind rushing past his ears.

Percy's head connected with the trunk of a tree and the sun went dark around Thalia's scream.

Thalia was not having a good day. Actually, she was having the shittiest of the shit days she'd been blessed with in the past two months or so.

First off, Andrea was as annoying as Aphrodite stereotypes came; secondly, it was freezing in the middle of July; thirdly, a giant leprechaun had just Jackie Chan-ed her.

"Stay down!" Percy screamed from behind her as she attempted to get to her feet. It went against every one of her highly-honed survival instincts, and she definitely didn't listen to Percy, but he sounded like he knew what he was doing, so she dropped.

There was a smooth shlick sound as what Thalia hoped was Percy's sword slid into the creature's body. Her suspicions were confirmed when a shower of ash sprinkled over her neck and the slim steel of Riptide clattered against her back.

He didn't.

Thalia propped herself up on her elbows and turned to look at Percy. His arms were up in the air in a typical referee's field goal position and a huge smile adorned his face.

"To think I told my mother that I was a championship javelin thrower in a past life and she didn't believe me."

The little smartass.

"That was—"

Without warning, the trees shook next to Percy and another creature barreled into him. His feet left the ground and he sailed into the woods.

Thalia screamed in surprise and crab-walked backwards on her hands and feet, struggling to find her weapon and get her bearings.

Her mind was on repeat, watching Percy get thrown so violently feet into the air and trying to pretend she didn't hear the cracking sound as he collided with something. But the monster was running at her and it had flattened her sort-of partner in crime, even if he was an annoying brat. Gods, Percy had saved her life.

The leprechaun man growled like he'd just gargled rocks and sprung towards her, except this time she was ready. Thalia wrapped her fingers around the weight of Percy's sword and danced backwards from the monster's claws. The thing was short, but wide, and pretty quick.

Riptide was heavy and awkward to balance, shaking in her hand, while she pointed it at the thing's head. It growled angrily and charged her.

Thalia jerked to her side and just managed to swipe its side. The leprechaun gathered itself and turned, lunging for her again.

She waited for it to be almost on top of her and swung up. At that moment a gust of wind blew directly in her direction, taking all the dust with it.

"Fuck," she groaned, dragging it out and wiping her face off on her collar. "Huh," she said, turning Riptide in her grip, "not bad." The sword shimmered and disappeared. Thalia's stomach dropped, "Percy!"

Only the leaves rustled in reply.

"Jackson, you better be all right," she growled.

Thalia started poking her way through the trees. She had gotten a little turned around from the battle with the monster, but it didn't take long to find Percy.

"Oh, no, no, no, no," she repeated, stomach falling as she sank to her knees. Percy was sprawled on his side, and even from feet away she could see the blood. Thalia crawled forward, tentatively setting her hand on his shoulder, prompting no reaction from him whatsoever. Percy's face remained utterly slack as she oh-so-carefully rotated him onto his back.

"Oh, shit," she breathed, squeezing her eyes closed. There was a jagged gash running along the left of Percy's forehead, covering the entire side of his face with trails of blood, even sticking to the ends of his eyelashes. His T-shirt was ripped and dirty, stained at the collar by red.

Thalia pressed her hand against his chest and was greeted with the gentle throbbing of Percy's heart.

His breath managed to graze her fingertips, so it was a head injury. He was unconscious, that's it. They just had to get back to camp and he'd be okay. Ambrosia and nectar could fix him. Chiron could heal him if it was that bad.

But he was bleeding a lot and he wasn't even awake.

"Percy," she said, gingerly shaking his shoulder. Percy didn't respond, and Thalia groaned with worry and wiped away some of the blood that had fallen over his closed eyelid. "Percy, you have to wake up," she repeated. Thalia pressed the palm of her hand against the wound in an attempt to slow the bleeding. A flicker crossed Percy's face. "Hey," Thalia said in relief, leaning forward. "Hey, you're all right, you're all right, just try and wake up, okay?"

Percy's eyebrows pulled together and his head rolled toward her voice.

"Hey, there's no rush," she said slowly, almost comforting. "Can you open your eyes?"

Little slices of vivid green peeked at Thalia before Percy groaned and his hand clumsily came up and prodded at his forehead.

"Whoa! Hey, Jackson, don't do that," Thalia spoke in surprise, catching his wrist.

Percy whimpered and tried to roll to his side, but she caught his shoulders and planted him back on the ground. He squirmed helplessly and one hand managed to push her back by the arm.

He tossed his head to the side and pushed harder. "Le' go," he mumbled.

"Percy, Percy, stop," Thalia argued, forced to grab both of his wrists and trap them against his sides. Normally he probably could've matched her in strength, probably overtaken her, but he was so disorientated right now he couldn't fight at all. Percy kicked out with one foot and seemed to concede in defeat, sinking into the ground with a pained whimper. "Hey, come on," she said apologetically, leaning over his head, "it's Thalia. Just open your eyes. That's all I'm asking you. Just open your eyes."

Percy grimaced long and hard, features tight with pain. A grumble issued from his throat.

Finally those irritatingly long eyelashes fluttered.

Percy didn't seem able to focus on her, eyes skipping all over the place. His left pupil was blown to an unnatural and scary size.

"Wow, Jackson, you listened to me for once in your life."

Percy's confused gaze managed to hold her for a moment.


Thalia gave him a half-hearted smile and pressed her hand against Percy's wound, gauging how much blood he'd lost.

"Close enough, how you feeling?"

Percy's eyebrows furrowed again and he looked around, seeming to be completely disorientated.

"Where 're we?" he slurred, almost to the point that Thalia could barely understand it.

That wasn't a good sign. Thalia frowned and tapped Percy's cheek as his eyes threatened to close again. "In the woods, remember? We went to find Andrea. She ran off when you pushed her. You killed the leprechaun thing? Completely saved my ass?"

He swallowed, probably trying to gather himself, and slowly rotated his head to look side to side, enthralled in something Thalia couldn't see, or probably wasn't there.

"Percy? Hey, look at me. We have to start back towards camp, okay? Do you think you can sit up?"

He didn't seem to get this message and looked at her imploringly, vivid green eyes painfully innocent. She wasn't equipped for this. She didn't know how to handle people like this, especially Percy. They didn't get along in the first place. He aggravated her to no end. He was stupid, immature, awkward, and just plain annoying. He refused to admit to his mistakes, and was stubborn to a fault. Of course, with Annabeth completely tripping over his balls, they were bound to spend time near each other.

Thalia saw right through Annabeth, too. Even if she'd been a tree for six years, she wasn't blind. What she noticed probably wasn't visible to everyone.

She saw the long, studious looks Annabeth gave Percy, like he completely baffled and amazed her all at the same time. She saw the incidental touches Annabeth would sneak in, fingertips on his shoulder, weaving through crowds holding his hand, and her favorite, the ultra-violent tackles to the ground when they battled.

It was a little crush, and Annabeth herself most likely didn't realize it, but it was as plain as day to Thalia.

Just a small part of her could admit that she was jealous. She knew it. She knew that the feeling of getting replaced made her unfairly bitter towards Percy.

It was hard, watching those two be best friends, remembering when she had been messing with Annabeth and tugging her curls, and she was the one with that type of relationship with…


She definitely didn't want to think about all the things she saw in Percy that she used to see in Luke.

She didn't want to think about Luke period.

"Percy, we have to go. We have to get you back to camp, right? Fix up that pretty boy face of yours?" She held his jaw in her hand, directing him to look at her. Percy was blinking rapidly, not quite making eye contact with her. "Do you think you can sit up for me? Please?"

Percy nodded slowly, and one of his hands reached up and clumsily wrapped around her forearm.

"Thea?" he said weakly.

Thalia hung her head and said, "Unfortunately."

He was completely scrambled. This was serious. This was serious and his head was still bleeding. They were at least a couple miles from camp and he couldn't even pronounce her name.

"All right," she composed herself. The plane was simple: get Percy sitting, get Percy standing, get Percy walking, and get Percy ambrosia and a serious nap. "I'm going to help you get vertical. We'll go slow, so just try and take it easy." Thalia wrapped her hands under Percy's arms and lifted him up.

Percy lurched out of her grasp and propped himself on his elbow, throwing up on the ground. He was gasping and choking and oh-this-was-bad. He nearly fell forward, but Thalia just barely pulled him to rest against her. Strained and shallow breaths burned hot on her collarbone.

Thalia ran her hand up and down his back in some sort of attempt at comfort. "Hey, calm down, calm down. You're fine. It's the concussion, that's all it is. You're gonna be just fine."

Percy sniffed noisily and one hand came up and covered his face.

Thalia ducked down to look at him, peeling his fingers away from where they were locked against his wound. "No, no, Percy, you're fine," she said soothingly. His cheeks were wet with tears, eyes huge and watery with pain. He was crying. Big, bad, and goofy Percy Jackson was crying. He was injured and confused, and she felt horrible. This situation sucked and all she wanted to do was resurrect that leprechaun and murder it again, except slower.

She didn't know what she was doing, or how to handle a crying Percy. Hell, she was pretty sure Annabeth wouldn't either. Percy was a lot of things, but the teary type of guy, no. He could probably even match her in the emotionally constipated category.

Percy let out a sickly hiccup and released a heavy breath, surrendering his weight against Thalia.

Thalia's stomach twisted tightly.

The irony of the situation was only beginning to set in.

She carefully rested her hand on his damp hair.

"We'll—we'll get up when you're ready, how 'bout that?" she offered.

Percy's chest was hitching with his staggered breathing, but she heard his weak voice. "You're…being nice," he slurred.

"Shocking, isn't it?"

Percy sniffed and shifted. "Jus' used to you yellin' at me."

"I don't yell at you, Jackson."

A moment passed without a response and Thalia's pulse jumped. "Hey, Percy, you can't check out on me yet."

Percy moved his head lethargically on her shoulder and whispered, "'M not."

"Yes, you are." She argued. "Think you can stand now?"


"Good." Thalia separated them and hooked Percy's arm over her neck. She got her feet underneath her wrapped her other arm around Percy's ribs. "All you have to do is just try and support some of your weight. I'll take care of the directional part. Are you ready?"

A weak nod of his head. "Nuh-uh."

"Even better."

She took a deep breath and lurched to her feet.

Percy looked over at her for a moment before his eyes rolled white and he fell forward. Thalia jerked in surprise and caught him against her chest. Her arms burned in protest and she breathed out, "No, no, no, Percy don't do this. Hey, come on. You're stronger than this. Wake up!"

He was a solid one hundred fifty pounds that she just couldn't carry. Part of her wanted to be able to, because it obviously put him in a lot of pain to move, but she wasn't strong enough.

Seconds before she was going to be forced to go to her knees under the weight, Percy regained his bearings. He pushed against her shoulders and dragged his feet up, leaning heavily against her.

"There you go," she grunted, tugging him up higher and starting in the direction of camp.

Thalia's skin started crawl when she felt a sticky wetness slide against her neck. Percy was still bleeding. It was fresh.

Percy's heavy and labored breathing punctuated the silence of the forest. His head started lolling against her collarbone.

"Hey," Thalia shook Percy, probing him awake. "You need to stay awake. Talk to me. Say something funny. Be your annoying self."

Percy squinted into the thick trees and rasped, "I'm not annoying."

"Whatever helps you sleep at night."

Her insults weren't effective and soon Percy was drifting again, putting more of his weight on her. "C'mon, Percy," she groaned, hefting him higher, "you have to stay awake. Help me out, Seaweed Brain. I can't carry you, scrawny as you are. Talk to me. Tell me about your life."

Percy snorted weakly and said, "You c'ldn't care less 'bout my life."

"Hey, today I do," she protested. "Keep talking. Tell me about camp. What's it like being Poseidon's kid?"

Percy coughed sickly. "Wet."

"Oh, really? I didn't think that," Thalia replied sarcastically. "What else don't I know?"

"I don' know."

Thalia tightened her arm around Percy's ribs and hitched him closer to her. "Percy, that's not a valid answer. Give me something to work with here. Hey, tell me about Annabeth. What'd you think of her when you guys first met?"

"She was," Percy gasped in pain, but recovered, "angry. Didn' like me. Kinda like you."

A slight sheen was sweat was gathering on Thalia's forehead. Her back ached. "Hey, I liked you when we first met."

Percy looked at her, and his eyes were so uncomfortably honest and accusing she looked away. "You hate me."

"No, I don't." She countered. "I just…"

Percy lifted his hand and pressed it against his forehead. It came away red, and he stared at it in mute fascination. "You jus' can't stand me."

What was with him? He wasn't that horrible. Was she really that hostile?

"Percy, you're not that bad."

"You're just feeling guilty," he whispered. His steps were hard to watch, features twisting every time they had to walk over a fallen log, or tripped because he was dragging his feet with pure exhaustion.

She did feel guilty. It was hard not to, looking at him. But part of her was so completely out of her league. This head injury had really knocked a few screws loose, and suddenly the cold and sarcastic Percy she was used to was vulnerable and honest.

So maybe she was a little harsh. And maybe she didn't give him any respect. Maybe she was bitter.

"Percy, I seriously don't hate you, I'm just—. Things have been crazy ever since I came back. With Luke and the gods fighting, I was just a little overwhelmed."

"No…" Percy drifted. "'S not that."

Thalia narrowed her eyes. "Than what is it?"

"I don' know. You hate me talking to 'Beth. You really think I'm stupid. I think you think 'm like Luke."

Thalia's veins turned to ice and she tightened her grip on Percy, causing him to squeak in protest.

"No, Percy. That's not it."

Percy smiled bleakly. "Yeah, Thea, that's not it."

The trees were getting thinner, which meant camp wasn't that far away. They were almost there. She was almost rid of him.

"Whatever, Percy. Just because I'm not your best friend, doesn't mean I hate you. Get over it."

Percy's breath hitched and he stumbled forward. He groaned woozily and his face went devoid of color. Thalia cursed and caught him, struggling to set him back on his feet.

"Percy, come on, it's not that far away. We're almost there."

Percy looked like he was ready to pass out, and Thalia was more or less carrying him, and she didn't think Percy was like Luke, not at all. She didn't. Percy was heavy and he was injured and she felt absolutely shitty and how did she get here?

Gods, when had her life gotten so shitty?

"Percy, damnit, hurry up. We're almost there, I swear. We're almost there. You just have to keep moving."

They lurched out of the forest and into the open strawberry field. There was a small group of people lingering down the way.

"Hey! Hey! Over here! Get over here!"

One person seemed to understand her and starting sprinting towards them.

Annabeth. Figures she'd have a tracking chip implanted in Percy.

"Thalia! Percy! Gods, Andrea came running at least two hours and we were searching for you guys!" She stepped closer and her eyes widened. Her hand came up and drifted over Percy's wound. "Percy, what—what happened?"

Thalia was exhausted. Her arms were aching and her head was spinning from the pounding of the sun. Or maybe exertion. Before she said it was cold. Because it was cold, for July. Wasn't it? It was hot, that's what it was.

Her cramped fingers let go of Percy's and her arm dropped from his waist before she even realized the implications of what she was doing.

Percy seemed to sway in midair for a moment. He blinked those green-green eyes, so different from blue, and stumbled towards Annabeth.

Annabeth had her hands pressed against Percy's chest, repeating Percy, are you okay? and not getting a response. Of course she wasn't getting a response, Percy was injured.

The wind was dead; everything was dead. There wasn't anything to hear. The only thing she could hear was her own breath, heaving from her lungs. She sounded like she was hyperventilating. Thalia looked at Percy.

Percy fell in slow motion, tipping into Annabeth and sliding to the ground. Annabeth was screaming for help now, practically holding Percy in her lap like a child.

Someone was instructing Thalia to sit down. Her knees folded like paper and somehow she was seated next to Annabeth and Percy.

Percy's face was slack, left side still covered in covered in blood. She had never noticed how dark his hair was. It was jet-black without a hint of brown, glued to his forehead.

Annabeth was panicking, hands fluttering over Percy and asking Thalia questions she couldn't answer.

Thalia couldn't answer a lot of things.

Thalia hadn't spent very much time in the infirmary of the Big House, but it didn't take long for her to develop a couple of opinions; they needed different chairs. The ones they had were wooden and too tall to sit comfortably on.

Thalia had taken a shower and changed clothes, and was now sitting in the infirmary. Annabeth was talking to Chiron about something important. It had to have been important for her to have left Percy.

Percy was sleeping comfortably. Chiron had almost completely healed the wound, only a red line barely visible beneath his thick hair. Thalia had been there to watch Annabeth clean all of the blood off Percy and help him change into a new shirt.

Yeah, Thalia thought dimly, Annabeth liked Percy.

Percy shifted on the bed, curling on his side and facing her. Thalia watched his eyelashes flutter open, and he was blinking at her.

"Hey," he whispered.

Thalia sighed and laughed, looking down at her folded fingers. "You were right, Percy," she said softly. "I did—I do compare you to Luke. I shouldn't. I mean, you guys are completely different and that's not fair at all to you. I just… everything has just kind of blown me over the past month. I shouldn't take it out on you. Man, since we're having this heart-to-heart, I'll even admit that I got jealous of you and Annabeth."

Percy didn't answer for a moment, just staring at the wall and breathing slowly. It was admittedly relaxing.

"People get jealous of me often, Thalia. It's really nothing to be ashamed of."

Thalia looked at Percy in mute shock.

"It's good to have you back. Much better than the whining, pissy brat I was stuck with a few hours ago."

Percy made a face at her, and they settled into a comfortable silence.

"I owe you a thanks. You kind of shish-ka-bobbed that leprechaun before it could eat me."

Percy huffed a laugh and said, "All in a day's work."

His eyes were sliding shut. Thalia slowly shook her head and relaxed into her chair, picking up her feet and plopping them on Percy's bed.

"Go to sleep, Percy."

Annabeth walked in a few minutes later, looked at Thalia's silent vigil with a puzzled expression, and sat on the other side of the bed. She questioned Thalia with her eyes, and she just shrugged, going back to tossing her black bracelet into the air and catching it.

Annabeth seemed to accept that Thalia wasn't leaving for a while, and settled in her chair, laying her arm above Percy's head and surreptitiously running her fingers through a couple strands of Percy's hair.

A sleepy voice broke the calm.

"Sleeping between two women," Percy mumbled. "My dream."

Thalia looked at Annabeth and laughed.

Well, it's been awhile. This probably is a horrible placebo for Divided They Fall, but all I can say is that I'm trying to write it, and it's coming slowly. I don't want to push something out that isn't good quality. I mean, it's either fast, crappy updates, or quality, spread out ones.

Sorry for the blah-blah-blah, kids. I'm just tired of people PMing me and freaking out about my said "artistic integrity" and "not caring about readers."

It'll come when it comes, go read something else, preferable mine. :)

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this. Tried to stay very Thalia-ish, but her personality is hard to lock down on.

I plan on being back soon, so stay young, boys and girls!

(Did I mention Ricky Rubio tore his ACL a while back? I think it sent me into a minor depression.)