bursts of happiness

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"to paint is like to reveal your soul… it's how i express myself" —Rachel

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Being the daughter of a wealthy, successful multi-millionaire wasn't always smiles and flowers. In fact, to her, it was quite the opposite.

She didn't have any freedom, any privacy, any room to do what she wanted to do. She had to live behind her father's shadow, behind barricades of expectations, behind rules and manners and the proper way to act.

She never asked for any of that. Yes, her life was more fortunate than most others, but that didn't mean she wouldn't trade it for someone else's in an instant!

Freedom. That's all she wanted. All she yearned for.

But she would never be able to truly have it. As long as her father maintained his position, status, and that horrid reputation, she would never be free to be who she wanted to be.

However, when she had discovered the arts—especially painting—something had been struck deep within her. It was a way to "properly" fuel her creative energy. Painting was how she expressed herself. And on that blank canvas, she didn't have to pretend. She didn't have to act a certain way.

She could be who she was, Rachel Elizabeth Dare, and be completely content about it.

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"helping people just makes me happy… kids especially" —Tyson

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It wasn't his fault that he was born with a disorder. It wasn't his fault that it also made him slow in learning. He couldn't help it. It was just a chemical reaction gone wrong in the depths of his brain—it was just autism.

He was tired of being waited on hand and foot. He was tired of not being able to express himself through the words he wanted desperately to use. He was tired of having these frequent, random tantrums. He was tired of always being helped and never giving back.

Autism didn't leave him completely incapable of doing things or incapable of achieving happiness. It was the people around him that did that.

He wanted to do something? Someone did it for him before he had a chance to "mess it up." He wanted to go somewhere? Someone else stopped him from doing so, in case he'd "do something that wasn't socially appropriate."

But after helping that one boy, he was overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling of happiness.

It had been a long time since he had felt that, and it had been even longer since he had been able to discover the reason behind his happiness: helping people.

Helping people—especially kids—made him happy.

But heaven forbid if Tyson ever had a chance to help anyone again.

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"meeting new people is my way of coping… even if it just leads to more loss" —Calypso

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The latest one had left her, just like all the others. It was always the grand speech, 'It's me, not you,' and then the next thing she knew, she would be dumped by herself… again.

She didn't know why she even bothered. They would always leave her. They always did.

All those break-ups had lowered her self-esteem. There must be something wrong with her, she thought, she surely must be doing something wrong! After all, why was it always her that was the one getting rejected? Why was she never the heartbreaker?

But, despite all those heartaches and hangovers, she couldn't help herself! Meeting someone new was her way of coping with everything… even if it just led to even more loss.

Because, in those few, short weeks of being with someone, she felt adored. She felt cared for, loved for, looked after.

In that miniscule stretch of time, Calypso felt truly, simply happy.

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"tinkering away all day… now that's my kind of stuff" —Leo

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For years his family had shunned him. They had basically excommunicated him like he was the scum on the bottom of their shoes. They didn't want anything to do with him, and so he was sent from foster home to foster home.

None of them liked him much either. What was it that he was doing wrong? Why was he always moving from house to house, "family" to "family?" Why didn't they… want him? Why didn't anyone want him?

He wasn't a murderer! Did his extended family think he wanted his mum to die? What crazy notions did they have about him? Even if they thought crudely of him, why did he find it in himself to care about their opinions so much?

Because of them, because of the loss of his mum, he had never exactly developed the ability to fit in with the crowd. He was always a misfit, an outsider, an inferior, and he would always have tell himself jokes when no else would listen to make himself feel better. He threw himself into mechanics and soon found he was actually good at them.

Tinkering away all day, amongst his tools in the back shed of whichever foster parent's home was his kind of thing. It wasn't just a hobby—it was a way for him to distract himself…

It was a way for Leo to be happy.

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"dogs are truly man's best friend… they won't betray you when others will" —Reyna

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It was a lot of strain to be the only female on the city board council, and it was even worse to be the president of it. She held a lot of power—a lot of power that could have fallen into the wrong hands—and she had a strong, authoritative public image that she had to maintain.

Recently, she discovered that her boyfriend had partaken in an affair with a girl he only knew for a month (while she had known him for nearly a lifetime). And this ex-boyfriend of hers was also one of twelve members of the council.

She tried to stay strong, she really did. Showing weakness or nervousness around others was not an option when it came to her. But the more time she spent with the council, the more frustrated she got. Why couldn't the day just end already? How much longer did she have to spend with him?

It wasn't necessarily him that got her all riled up. It could have been anyone and she would be acting the same way. No, it was the betrayal that got her. That dark, cold-blooded sense of betrayal.

It was a feeling that was much too familiar to her… something she had experienced time after time by a variety of people with different relations to her. Her mother. Circe. Octavian. And now Jason.

By the time she was finally allowed to leave the board meeting, she was more than ready for her day to be over. She arrived home and was eagerly greeted by the excited barking of her two dogs, Aurum and Argentum.

They seemed so genuinely enthusiastic to see her, and it brought the first smile of the day to her face. She collapsed on the step in front of her door and let her dogs come to her so she could pet their heads and rub their bellies. Dogs were truly man's best friend.

Reyna knows without a doubt that her dogs would never betray her when others do… and that simple fact leaves a smile on her face for the rest of the day.

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"i can just lose myself in a book… they're the best way to forget all your pain" —Nico

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He could remember being happy when he was younger, and he could remember when he stopped being able of feeling that emotion. (That was easy; it was when his mother and sister were brutally murdered.)

However, he couldn't remember when he had started being capable of happiness again.

For most of his childhood, he had spent it as an angry kid. He had no friends, no family, no one he could even call a companion. After the death of his mother and sister, he had simply shut off. No one had bothered to turn him back on; no one had attempted to help him and his angry self.

But one day, he had ventured upon the public library.

He remembered skimming his hand over all the spines of the books on the shelf, before he had finally gotten the courage to pull one down and open it up. He remembered becoming completely enamored by the tales of Jay Gatsby, Scout Finch, Ender… He remembered being so engrossed in a book, he couldn't put it down.

Perhaps that was when his happiness came back.

Perhaps Nico had vicariously learned to be happy again, with the help of fictional characters.

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"i don't need much to be happy… i just need you" —Annabeth
"you already have me... forever"

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He held his hands over her eyes as he led her to the destination. He had spent the entire day spending the meager wealth he had, and bargaining for better deals. She deserved so, so much… so much, he didn't have.

He wanted it to be special, to be memorable, to be perfect. He had everything planned, everything set up, and despite the fact that it cut into his nearly non-existent budget, he was happy.

They arrived at the edge of the dock, and he uncovered her eyes, watching her reaction intently. She blinked dazedly, almost confusedly, before reality settled in. Her gray eyes filled with happiness, and the sunset sparkled and danced off her orbs. There was wine, there were flowers, there were two chairs, and he led her to the one in better condition. She sat down amusedly, her eyebrows raised. "What's this all about?"

He fell to one knee and grasped both of her hands in his. She gasped.

"I know I'm not much. I don't come from money, my family has absolutely no influence, and I always seem to make terrible choices that hurt you. I cannot buy you things to make you happy; I cannot take you places all over the world…

"But I want to be the one to make you happy. I want to be the one who you wake up next to every morning, and fall asleep beside every night. I want to be the one to grow old with you. And, if you'd let me, I want to be your husband.

"Annabeth Chase, will you marry me?" He held his breath as the last word left his lips, and he reached into his pocket to reveal a ring that had once belonged to his mother.

She didn't even hesitate to reply, and she breathlessly nodded. "Yes, oh God, yes."

He slipped the ring onto the finger on her left hand, while her right came up to cup his face. Just by that single caress, all of his nervousness and doubts had faded.

"I don't need much to be happy… I just need you, Percy," she whispered. Her face neared his slowly, so slowly, her lips only inches away from his.

"You already have me. Forever."

He closed the distance.