The Titan's Curse

By Artie Gallezi

Adventure

The Way To A Man's Heart

Artie sat crossed leg on his bed, eyes hid behind his sunglasses and closed as he emptied his mind, or rather he tried to.

The constant noise from the Hunters cleaning the mess from his mad scramble was proving to be most irritating. In retrospect, it was far better than running around Camp Half Blood in a wet towel with the Hunters on his heels. Like he expected, they refused to accept his claims as the son of Artemis. If anything, it only added to their ever growing list of his insults to them and their goddess. So much so that Mr. D had been forced to temporarily bind them with magic grape vines as Chiron and Artie explained, swearing on the River Styx that their words were true, that as far fetched and ludicrous as it was, Artie was indeed the son of Artemis.

"Regardless of what you think is or isn't true," Chiron had said. "Lady Artemis claimed Artie as her own. That gives him every right to use cabin eight whenever he is in need of it."

After swearing reluctantly on the Styx, the Hunters allowed Artie to stay in cabin eight without the constant possiblity of having his throat slit in his sleep. Artie had done his best to put his best foot forward, allowing the Hunters use of his DVD collection and as much coffee and espresso as he had, but he was finding it difficult not to watch his back every other second. He was sure that they didn't believe Chiron, and especially him, that this boy of all people was the very first child of Artemis. He had refrained from explaining exactly how Artemis came to be his godly parent, despite several demands and vauge threats from Zoë, which did not aid his claims in the slightest.

Artie sighed and glanced around. All the Hunters were busy cleaning the cabin. Some swept and dusted while others mops and shined every nook and cranny. Artie held back a growl. After all his time in wild, often going days at a time without cleans clothes and bath, Artie prided himself on maintaining a spotless cabin. If one were to enter cabin eight while he wasn't present, you would have a difficult time concluding that anyone at all was living there. His bed would be made perfectly and all his clothes would be perfectly folded and cleaned in the trunk at the foot of his bed. The floor was kept spotless as well as the windows. He even dusted all the animal pelts and mounted heads. And during the spring and summer he hung herbs to dry them in the sun which not only used for curing meat, but added a delicate pleasant scent in the air. From what Percy had told him, parents prayed for all their children to be so neat and tidy. Yet, the air was filled with the scent of fake lemon and pine by the Hunters.

He leaned over the record player, selected a record from his small collection, and went about trying to calm himself with music. He closed his eyes and resumed his previous position as the music began to play, settling into a trance like state by the calming sound of one of his favorite artists, and one of the most famous children of Apollo, Bing Crosby. It was a standard of the time, but it had the sound and feel of a country song rather than a jazz or big band that the former member of the Ratpack had been known for.

I'm coming home I've done my time

Now I've got to know what is or isn't mine

If you received my letter telling you I'd soon be free

Then you'll know just what to do if you still want me

If you still want me

Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree

It's been three long years do you still want me

If I don't see a ribbon round the ole oak tree

I'll stay on the bus forget about us put the blame on me

If I don't see a yellow ribbon —

Zoë lifted the needle of the player, "We need to talk."

Artie held back another growl, "About?"

Zoë motioned to Artie. "Thy attire."

Artie looked down at his bare chest. He was still wearing his cloak, but no shirt or shoes. "Are cloaks already out?"

"Thy lack of garments on your uppermost is quite indecent." she said. "I would like thee remedy that at once."

Artie raised an eyebrow. It was somewhat of a game he and Zoë fallen into since she did not wish to admit that the Hunters had failed to capture a single demigod, therefore admitting that Artie could be the child of Artemis and an intelligent one at that. She would attempt to use as many complicated words and phrase to indirectly insult his intelligence. If for some reason he asked to her to simplify, it would be all she needed to confirm she was far more intelligent. Artie so far had stopped her by responding with as much elegance as he could. Granted he was cheating, using the vast collection of movie quotes at his disposal, but she didn't need to know that. He doubted Zoë had even seen a film in her life, so the chances of her calling him on it were slim to none.

"I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request." he responded with a line from Pirates of the Caribbean.

"May I ask why?"

Artie was about to answer when he saw Bianca struggling with a giant stack of old magazines. He sprung to help as she threaten to topple with it, "Here, let me get those for you."

Zoë seemed annoyed but simply walked away.

Bianca set her now smaller stack on Artie's bed, "Phoebe wanted me to get rid of these. I thought you might want to go through them before I did."

Artie picked up a magazine at random, "Go ahead, I was planning on getting rid of them eventually. Keep a few by the fireplace in case we need to start a fire."

"What kind of newspaper is it?" asked Bianca

"Its a trade paper." said Artie. "Its full of showbiz news. New coming movies, updates of ones in productions, and stuff like that."

"And the headlines?" She held one up. "Like this one, 'Hix Makes Pix, But The Flick Needs Fix' what does that even mean?"

"It just means someone made a movie that didn't do well in the box office." Artie explained. "A bomb is what they call it."

Bianca held up another issue, "The Veeps In Charge Are Now At Large."

"Veeps mean VIP's, or very important persons." he translated. " the rest means they all left the project."

"The plot conflicts, no beautiful chicks?"

"A badly written movie that probably coming out on video soon."

"A Boffo Smash Makes Warner Cash?

"A film did very well in the box office for Warner Bros. and there's probably going to be a sequel next year."

"You really love movies don't you?"

Artie gestured to his vast collection, "You could say that."

"But don't you ever do something else?" she asked.

"Well, i have been dabbling in poetry." He admitted. "I not very good at it though."

"Why poetry?"

Artie glanced at the Hunters, "A close friend said I was watching too many movies. She's the one who actually got suggested it in the first place. Do you want to hear it?"

"Alright."

"No laughing?"

"I promise."

Artie pulled out a notebook from the night stand drawer. "I couldn't think of a name, but I think I like Video Revue."

Hey, look at this hoard!

There's movies galore!

I've seen 'em a thousand times over before

And that's why my brain doesn't work anymore.

"He finally admits it." pointed out Zoë

Artie ignored the ribbing and continued.

"The Player" is a movie about finding fresh new scripts

Like Rambo three, and Rocky five, and Star Trek Number six.

Eva joined with Zsa Zsa and they formed a "Sister Act"

But both were "Unforgiven" because neither one could act.

"The Hand That Rocked The Cradle" once belonged to "Hook", you see

But it got bored and so it joined "The Addams Family".

"Amadeus" was a genius, "Beethoven" was a dog

The "Muppet Family Christmas" Is about a pig and frog.

There was a sled named Rosebud and a "Citizen" named "Kane"

He rode it 'til the snow was melted, now he's "Singin' In The Rain".

The "Princess Bride" got married to the handsome "Prince Of Tides"

Which now makes her dad, "The Fisher King", The "Father Of The Bride".

And pretty soon you'll find them all inside the "TV Guide"

Along with all the stars you like to see!

Like Hitchcock and Spielberg and Oliver Stone,

Shirley MacLaine and Sylvester Stallone.

Francis Ford Coppola, Hepburn and Tracy

Robert Zemeckis and Martin Scorcese

Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Woody Allen and Mia

Robert Deniro and Andy Garcia.

Sophia Loren, Barbra Streisand, Joan Crawford

Paul Newman, Rock Hudson, Spike Lee, Peter Lawford.

Jack Nicholson, Brando, and Marilyn Monroe . . .

"And that's all I got." said Artie. "Took me the better part of five months to write though."

"That's pretty good." said Bianca. "Though I don't know half the people you mentioned."

"Weird, I made sure to stick to big name everyone should know." said Artie. "Thirsty?"

"Sure."

Artie moved a loose floorboard just under his bed and produced two cold classic coke bottles. "Here."

"Thanks." Bianca looked at the bottle. "Got a bottle opener?"

"Here, hand it over."

Artie extended his claws and popped the cap before handing it back and popping his own.

"Nice trick." Bianca took a sip. "Can all demigods do that?"

"Nope, just me."

"Not even the Hunters?"

"Not unless I have a sister I don't know about."

"Aww." Bianca pouted playfully.

"Trust me, its not all you think it is." Artie took another sip of his coke. "Took me forever to control it."

"Really?"

Artie nodded. "I can't tell how many times I cut myself when I first got them."

"Hey, Bianca." called Phoebe. "We need your help over here."

Bianca sighed but smiled, "Looks my coffee break is over."

"You could go for a smoke break."

She chuckled, "I'm good. Thanks though, and thanks for the coke."

Artie inclined his head, "Anytime."

Artie was busy sorting through his record collection when Zoë approached, "Zoë, I'm staying shirtless as long as it suits me. So don't even bother asking again."

"I'm merely curious."

"It called a record player."

"I was under the impression thee dispiesed the Hunters. Yet, thee was quite friendly with Bianca."

"I don't hate the Hunters." Artie picked up a record and blew off the dust. "It just so happens that a large portion of the Hunters is made up of people I hate."

"I'm not sure I understand thee."

"Unlike the you or the rest of Hunters, Bianca hasn't given me a reason to hate her, or even dislike her."

"Are thee implying she eventually will?"

"Unless she becomes less open minded, I doubt it."

Artie set the record on the player and once again, sat cross legged and breathed deeply as he emptied his mind. The music aided greatly in drowning out the noise and voices from the Hunters. Zoë glanced at the sleeve and saw it had the picture of the same man that had playing when they first entered, Frank Sinatra. Overhead read, Sinatra's Swinging Sessions. She listened and found it was somewhat enjoyable, very unlike the music Artie had played when he drove off the cliff earlier that day. A piano played gently as it was accompanied by a large band as the singer, Frank Sinatra she assumed, crooned and sang.

Blue Moon

You saw me standing alone

Without a dream in my heart

Without a love of my own

Blue Moon

You know just what I was there for

You heard me saying a prayer for

Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me

The only one my arms will hold

I heard somebody whisper please adore me

And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Zoë briefly wondered if Grover had returned, but went to answer it anyway. The second she opened the door, Zoë was ambushed. Her attacker had thick wavy black hair tied back into a ponytail. She was wearing a ski jacket, jeans, snow boots, a red Santa hat on her head, and carried a large bag on her hip. She had a bright smile as she embraced Zoë in a powerful bear hug.

"Surprise!" she exclaimed planting a kiss on Zoë's cheek.

"I'll say," said Artie trying not laugh. "Something you wanna tell me? Cause now I think you were just leading me on."

Appolonia opened her eyes and saw Artie sitting on his bed, "But if you're there, then who's . . . "

Zoë wriggled in Appolonia's hug, "Would thee please release me."

Appolonia released Zoë and looked away embarrassed, "Sorry."

Zoë wiped her cheek, "Who art thou?"

Appolonia looked at Artie, "Who is this?"

Artie smiled and quote Singing in the Rain once more, "Oh, someone lofty and far above us."

Zoë flashed an annoyed look at Artie before she spoke to Appolonia, "I am Zoë Nightshade, lieutenant of the Hunters of Artemis."

Artie got up and embraced Appolonia, "Not that I mind, but how did you get here?"

Appolonia returned the hug, "My dad said you got hurt again and you might need some help while you recovered. So he gave me a ride."

"Bruno or Apollo?"

"Apollo. How would Bruno know?"

"True."

"Excuse me," said Zoë to Appolonia. "But I ask thee again, who art thou?"

Appolonia held out a hand, "Appolonia Rosa Reyes."

"A daughter of Apollo." said Zoë shaking her hand.

"Yes."

"And thy purpose for visiting cabin eight."

"Well, I wanted to see if Artie was alright."

Zoë paused, "What is thy relationship to Artie?"

Appolonia frowned slightly, "He's my boyfriend."

Everyone froze as Zoë took back her hand. She looked at Artie who seemed perfectly calm, "Does thy insults ever cease?"

Artie's voice was calm but full of warning, "Zoë . . . "

"Thy claim to be a child of Artemis and yet thee leads a maiden astray?" Zoë leveled a finger at him. "As her child, you owe respect to her — "

"Devo-lhe nada!" Artie leveled a finger back at Zoë. "Insult her again and — "

"Insult her?" Zoë demanded. "It is thee who insults her by — "

Appolonia wordlessly excused herself as she sat on Artie's bed as her boyfriend and this strange girl, who spoke she was in a Shakespeare play, continued shouting at each other. A young girl joined her as Artie slipped into Portuguese and Zoë into ancient Greek. She introduced herself as Bianca, as well as a Hunter, and shook Apollonian hand. Appolonia hoped that Bianca wasn't about to start yelling at her.

Appolonia motioned to Artie and Zoë. "Whats with them?"

Bianca shrugged, "I don't know. Artie was pretty calm a minute ago."

Appolonia considered something, "They didn't start fighting until I said 'boyfriend', why would that make her mad?"

"The Hunters give up any and all romantic ties with boys in exchange for immortality with Lady Artemis." Bianca explained. "I think Zoë thought that as a child of Artemis, Artie would do the same."

"No romantic ties with boys?" Appolonia repeated. "As far as I know, he hasn't, otherwise we need to have a serious talk."

Bianca smiled, "I just hope he doesn't go all snarly and crazy like when he fought Dr. Thorn."

Appolonia eye grew wide, "What?"

"When he fought Dr. Thorn, who turned be a manticore, he just snapped." Bianca shivered at the memory. "He just started snarling and growling like animal. His eyes went red and his nails grew into claws. He even went down on all fours like an animal."

Appolonia opened her bag and reached inside, "This is not good. Zoë doesn't know what she's doing."

Appolonia pulled out a brown paper bag and rushed to Artie. They had finally switched back to english, though thier anger had only grown since then.

"Is that a challenge?" Zoë demanded.

"No!" sneered Artie. "A challenge would imply you actually stand a chance!"

"I seem to recall thee running like a frighten rabbit when the Hunters first entered."

"And I recall those same Hunters being unable to track a half naked demigod in the snow." Appolonia held the bag under Artie nose. "I'll be damned if I let you or . . . what smells . . . so . . . delicious?" Artie looked down at the bag. "Is that what i think it is?"

Appolonia shook the bag and smiled. "Wasabi Salmon Sushi from Yojimbo's, your favorite." Artie glanced at Zoë. "Calm down and its yours."

He snatched the bag from her, sat on his bed, and began eating without a word.

"Did thee just distract him with raw fish?" asked an astonished Zoë.

Appolonia motioned for Zoë to follow her outside, "We need to talk. There's something you don't know about him."

"What do thee mean, he can't control himself?" asked Zoë.

"I mean, he isn't in complete control of his emotions." Appolonia explained. "When he was in the Sea of Monsters, Artie and Percy were turned into animals. But for some reason, something went wrong when it happened to Artie." She glanced through the window at Artie throwing sushi in the air and catching it in his mouth. "I'm not sure how or why, but his personality mixed with that of his inner animal."

"What is it?" asked Zoë as she too glanced as Artie.

"A jaguar." said Appolonia. "And a really aggressive one at that."

"How serious is this ailment?"

"So far he threw a student I was tutoring through a window and sent a purse snatcher to the emergency room." She told her. "It took a while, but he's easier to deal with when he's got a full stomach. But if you keep making him angry, not all the food in world is going to stop him."

"And there is no cure?"

"According to Chiron, there isn't one. He has learn to control himself the hard way."

"That seems easier said than done."

Appolonia nodded reluctantly, "It doesn't help that he's also depressed."

"Depressed? He seems quite content now. How can thee tell?"

Appolonia glanced through the window again, "To anyone else, he is. Its subtle, but I know. Its the little things. His choice of music for one thing."

"Do thee mean his interest in Frank Sinatra?"

She shook her head, "No. He listens to him all the time, but its the song he listens to. Blue Moon was playing when I came in, right?"

"The song referred to it, yes."

"Listen to the lyrics." she told Zoë. "Its a play on words, since blue is also the color of melancholy, and indeed the narrator is sad and lonely until he finds love."

Zoë scoffed at the word love, "While I'm willing to grant that he has an excellent talent for song, like all children of Apollo, I dislike that almost all of his music implies one cannot find true happiness without love."

Appolonia chose not to point out that that particular child of Apollo did not write his songs, but performed standards of the time. "Has he been listening to anything else?"

Zoë thought for a moment. "Another child of Apollo. Bing Crosby, I think. He and other children of Apollo formed a famous group, The Ratpack I think."

"What song?"

"I'm not sure, but it made references to tying a yellow ribbon to an old tree?"

"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree."

"Yes, that was it. What is its meaning?"

"A yellow ribbon became widely known in 1970s as a reminder that an absent loved one, either in the military or in jail, would be welcomed home on their return." She explained. "Basically its another depressing song, until the end of it anyway."

"I see."

"Look, I'm not sure what problems he has with you or the rest of the Hunters, but I think its best you avoid each other."

"And how do thee suggest we accomplish that? We are already forced to share cabin eight."

"I'll try to keep him busy outside of the cabin as much as I can, but you and the rest of the Hunters need to give him space when I can't."

"I think we can do that, or try at least. I will inform the Hunters."

"Don't tell them everything. Please, he really hates it when people feel sorry for him."

Zoë rolled her eyes, "Very well, I will instruct them to give him space and nothing more."

"Thank you."

"Perhaps I misjudged you, Appolonia." Zoë handed her silver business card. "If thee ever wishes to join the Hunters of Artemis, know thee would be welcomed with open arms."

Zoë reentered Cabin Eight.

Sorry, he's lost his mother, his brother, even his childhood, and now a one his closest friends. I don't think he can take it if he lost anyone else. Appolonia crumbled the card, tossed it in the snow, and walked inside. "Hey, Artie put on a shirt. Beckondorf said he has something for you."

A/N - In regards to Artie's poem, you can thanks the brilliant writers of Animanics. If there ever could be children of Apollo, it would these guys. Here's the link and you can see exactly how they play with films and their titles and make the show hilarious.

/oPBMMqxl-BU

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