the title comes from iris by the goo goo dolls.
when everything's made to be broken
He changes after she is lost.
It is not noticeable, but slow and gradual, like the wearing down and fading of old paints on heavy canvas. He wakes up from his dreams, face and neck enveloped in sweat, and imagines the face of a girl long gone, black hair outlined in the gold of her father's symbol, eyes as sharp and blue as his own.
Vengeance, the voice in his dreams whispers. It is a thick and cold presence, and feeds surreptitiously on his fears, his worries, his dreams. For her.
(One day, he will open a coffin, lay his body down inside, and shut his eyes as he waits for the darkness to claim him. One day, she will give away her life and love for the promise of eternity, for the chance to escape from that very same darkness.
Neither of them are cowards, but they both believe that they know best.)
When he buries the dagger in the thick bark of her tree, he thinks he can hear his heart break.
He takes a breath, fingers clawing madly at the leaves and rough twigs, and whispers promises and lies and half-truths, tells her not to worry because he is doing this for them, asks her to understand if not accept. He tries to smile, says that this is for the best, and when he lifts his hand to rub against his tired eyes, he is surprised to find that his cheeks are wet.
Thalia wakes up, eyes heavy and vision hazy, as if from a long sleep. She thinks she sees a girl with long blond curls in the distance, and an odd sense of nostalgia passes through her body. The gold of her hair, reflected in the light of the sun, sends a shudder and a trigger through her soul, through thoughts long-buried and faded, and a word rises on the tip of her tongue, teeth and lips curving around the soft syllable -
"You're not Luke!" she screams at him, and the sorrow and anger and bitterness she has hidden inside her heart, bruised and burning, empties out of her lips. "I don't know who you are anymore!" Her spear has taken on a life of its own, careful strategy replaced with passionate stabs and blows.
His face is pale, a study in regret, and his eyes - by the gods, so like her own - are wide open, vulnerable, desperation marking his gaze. Thalia ignores him, ignores the cracking and severing of something inside her, and -
Her lunge is automatic, a complete reflex -
(When Annabeth comes to her, face weary and eyes swollen and red, Thalia's lips curl - because that is a sign of mourning for the boy who betrayed them, who tried to kill them, and that is something she will never be able to comprehend.)
"He saved us," Annabeth tells her, respect and wistfulness evident in her tone. "He was a hero."
Thalia's jaw works, but her face is a study in suppression, a facade in every aspect. The boy she loves (loved) is dead, but she still has forever, the promise of immortality, and she will make the most of it.
(One day, she will journey to a small house in Connecticut and lay down flowers on the front step of a home where a golden-haired boy once lived. One day, he will be reborn, and in his new life, he will find himself standing on a hill at the end of Long Island, gaze caught on a majestic pine tree.
I am not weak, they say to themselves, and it is moments like these that they shy away from.)
Thalia smiles, and cuts gold.