It Can Wait Until Tommorrow
The first thing Artie was aware of, was the sweet taste in his mouth. It took him a moment to remember, for it he had only had three times as a child, but he was sure. It was his favorite and that of his brother, the perfect drink in the hot summer at the beach. It consisted of very strong coffee with melted chocolate mixed with milk with some sugar added to sweeten the mixture. Then the mixture would be augmented with copious amount of Coca-Cola. Once properly chilled and served, one could have it garnished with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Coca com gelo?, Artie thought to himself after a moment. It couldn't be . . . They don't have it here.
He then slowly turned his attention to his other senses. His sense of touch told him he was laying on a bed, soft as a cloud, with a warm blanket draped over him. It also told him that he was bare chested except for the bandages wrapped around him, with a thick amount on his back. He did not feel cold, but a line from below left his shoulder blade to just above his right hip felt uncomfortably warm compared to the rest of his body, as if he had suffered a really serious burn.
His ears picked strange sounds very near him. He listened carefully for a moment and recognized it as either faint snoring or a cat purring contently. So either someone was sleeping near him, possibly in a bed next to his, or it was simply a house cat that had found a relaxing spot for a nap. Another sound was there as well. It came a regular intervals, every half minute or so he guessed. He had spent enough time with Annabeth to know it was the sound of a page being turned. So there were two people with him, one was sleeping while the other read a book or something like it.
His sensitive nose detected several scents in the air around him. He quickly recognized the scent of freshly washed bed linens before he identified the rest. The scent was vaguely familiar to him, but he seemed to have trouble placing where. It took him a moment to realized it was perfume. It wasn't overly strong or sweet, but relaxing as if it was made not capture notice. It was subtle, gentle and with the faintest hint of spice. However, it was the third and final scent that captured his full attention. It was the faint smell of freshly washed and groomed horses, but with a hint of coffee.
Horses and coffee . . . Why is that so familiar?
It was then when Artie finally managed to open his eyes. Like he thought, he was laying on a bed with a warm blanket draped over him. He gave his surroundings a quick glance and found that he was in the infirmry. He had spent enough time recovering from countless wounds to be sure of that. There were several four poster beds lined against the wall with a window in between each bed to allow natural light to fill the room. He saw, like any normal day, single potted flowers sat on each windowsill, courtesy of the Demeter campers and satyrs.
"Morning Artie." greeted a voice to his immediate left.
Artie twisted to his left and instantly regretted it. A groan escaped from between his gritted teeth. It was as if something hot had just touched his back then immediately cooled with ice water. The sensation left him light headed and he fought the urge to pass out.
Chiron set down the novel he was reading at the foot of Artie's bed, "I wouldn't try to move too much, your fever only broke last night."
Artie's heart pounded in his ears as he slowly moved to face Chiron. He still had his thinning brown hair, bushy eyebrows, intense brown eyes and a scruffy beard. Though instead of his collared shirt and tweed jacket, he wore a shirt that read #1 CENTAUR. The rest of him was compacted in his wheelchair.
A spike of pain shot through his head. "Ah . . . Chiron? What . . . what happened?"
Chiron held a finger to his lips, the universal sign to quiet down. "Not so loud, you'll wake her."
Artie struggled to look behind him without moving too much. He managed to see a girl sleeping on a couch. She was using an arm as pillow and had light blanket draped over her. He watched as she snored lightly, realizing it was Apollonia.
"You should thank her when you get the chance." Chiron suggested. "If it wasn't for her, you would have far too much blood. She's hardly left your side these past two days."
"Two days?" Artie half shouted.
Apollonia stirred slightly before she resumed snoring lightly. Chiron adjusted her blanket as he motioned for him to lower his voice. "Yes two days. It was to be expected, given the amount of blood you lost. You're lucky the hellhound's claw did not go any deeper. Otherwise I'd have to find you your own chair."
"If I've been here two days . . . then what happened with Percy and Annabeth."
"Annabeth is fine." Chiron assured. "She arrived two days ago and told me and Mr.D everything that had transpired, including your last minute quest given to you by Lord Apollo. Percy arrived yesterday, alive and safe. I'm afriad you missed the celebration. Although considering the circumstances, I didn't think you'd mind."
Artie allowed Chiron to cut away the bandages and inspect his back. "Is it that bad, sir?"
Chiron answered with a smile,"Looks like it's pretty hairy."
"And here I thought you hadn't seen Dr. Strangelove."
Chiron chuckled, "Not until recently. I hope you don't mind, but I borrowed a couple of your DVDs. It get dreadfully boring sometimes."
Artie smiled, "Not at all. So how does it look?"
Chiron gave the wound a critical glance, "Impressive, very impressive."
"Well I'm glad you approve, but I'd still like to know."
"Know?" Then Chiron. "Oh yes. You'll be fine, so as long you don't overexert yourself. I was merely impressed in which she treated your wounds."
"She?" Artie asked.
Chiron nodded and then motioned to the sleeping Apollonia. "I was on the other side of the camp when she and Grover arrived with you in tow. You were in serious need of attention. The campers wanted to wait until I arrived, but she convinced them otherwise. Well threatened them to be more accurate, anyway she had them bring her medical supplies. She cleaned out your back with nectar and was in the midst of stitching when I arrived. It was only once she dabbed on a salve and fresh bandages that I carried you here to recover properly. It was also her that suggested we give you an IV of nectar, since you were not as far along as we hoped."
Artie looked on his right arm and noticed the needle in his arm with a tube running up to a plastic bag filled with an amber liquid. The bag was suspended from a crude bronze stand that leaned slightly to the left. As he followed the tubing, he saw a small chamber of glass that connected the tubing in his arm to the bag. Every now and then, a drop would drip down in a small pool in the bottom of the chamber. Artie guessed that was the source of the sweet taste in his mouth.
Chiron followed his gaze. "I'm afraid it was made rather quickly so the craftsmanship suffered slightly, though I've been told the drip chamber is up to standard. Still I doubt any of her siblings could have done such a fine job as she did. She'll make a fine addition to cabin seven."
"Cabin seven?" Artie asked then shook his head at his question. "I should have figured. Apollo sent me to find her. I found her at a musical and her name is Apollonia.
Chiron nodded. "She was claimed the second she set up the IV, though she was to preoccupied with you to give it any thought. Once you were stable, I explained as best as I could. She was a little skeptical at first, but she seemed to come to accept she was a demigod. I'll leave it to you to show her around and where she'll stay.
"Its the least I could do." said Artie.
A conch horn blew in the distance and Chiron looked out the window. "That would be breakfast. I'll have someone send something down for you. You must be quite hungry."
Artie watched as Chiron turned his wheelchair and left, closing the door behind him. The conch horn rang again and Apollonia began to stir. She yawned and stretched underneath the blanket. She opened her eyes slowly and looked around as if trying to recall how she had gotten there. Then her gaze fell on Artie, who quickly snatched his sunglasses off the nightstand next to his bed.
"Good morning, Vietnam!" said Artie with a smile.
She stopped rubbing eyes to give him a confused a look. "What the heck is that supposed to mean?"
Artie smiled grew, "I don't know, I guess it means good morning, Vietnam. "
Apollonia smiled back slyly, "And who gave him permission to play modern music? "
Artie raised an eyebrow, impressed as he thought to himself. Good at treating injuries, cute, and seems to like movies. . . . I'm starting to like her.
"So how do you feel?" she asked with concerned eyes.
"Better than I should be, thanks to you." He grunted as he adjusted on the bed.
She quickly and carefully hugged him. Artie was stunned, both by the sudden embrace and the intoxicating aroma of her perfume. "Thank you."
"I . . . uh . . . um . . ." was all he could muster.
"If it wasn't for you . . . I wouldn't . . ." she said, her voice surprisingly emotional. "I wouldn't . . . I wouldn't be alive."
"I'm not interrupting something am I?" asked a voice, sounding somewhat amused.
Apollonia quickly withdrew, looking slightly embarrassed, allowing Artie to see Silena Beauregard, head counselor of the Aphrodite cabin. She was wearing a pink Camp Half Blood shirt and jeans. Like every one of her siblings, she was very beautiful which was very apparent with her perfect hair and make-up. She also had the same overbearing scent around her as the others, which Artie at best could describe as a overly sweet and spicy. She held two platters in her hands which were piled high with eggs, bacon, ham steaks, and even small stacks of pancakes.
Silena handed the platters to Artie and Apollonia, "Chiron said you two would need this."
Artie took a platter from her, "Thanks Silena."
Silena wordlessly handed Apollonia a platter. She looked at her then at Artie and smiled. She looked amused by what she saw, as if trying not to laugh at a hidden joke. Artie wondered about it, but remained quiet.
She quietly chuckled to herself as she walked out. She stopped at the doorway and turned around to face them. "Welcome back Artie. Get better soon." She winked and strode out.
"Who was that?" asked Apollonia after they had almost finished their breakfast.
"Silena Beauregard." said Artie. "She the head counselor of cabin ten."
Artie nodded. "Yeah. All the campers are divided into different cabins from one to twelve." Artie began to sit up, ignoring his discomfort. "Here, I'll show you around."
Apollonia rushed to his side, "You don't have to. You're still recovering."
Artie forced a smile, "I'll be fine. I've been through worse."
"Are you sure? I mean if you don't have to if you don't want to."
"I'm sure. Plus I don't like sitting in one place for too long. Come on."
Apollonia looked like she wanted to protest, but decided against it. Still she she helped where she could, either helping Artie with the straps of his sandals or handing him a green tank top that laid on a chair next to his bed. Artie lead her outside, allowing her to stay close should he require someone to catch him if he passed out again.
From there they made their way around the camp. Breakfast had just finished and all the campers were heading to the day's activities. They picked their way around the crowd and arrived at the Strawberry Fields where the satyrs were just beginning to play on their flutes. Artie even saw Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Mr.D, helping out here and there.
Apollonia seemed to amazed by the satyrs. "Oh, Dios mío ¿qué son?"
Artie understood her amazement, he had a similar reaction. "They're called satyrs. They have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a goat. They divide their time between tending the fields here,which produce perfectly ripe fruit year round, and scouting schools."
"Scouting schools?" she asked. "I think someone would have noticed if a . . .uh . . . satyr was in a school."
Artie smiled, "Grover got passed you, didn't he?"
She was astounded for a moment "Grover's a satyr!"
Artie nodded, "Why do you think he's always wearing some sort of hat or cap? It's to hide his horns. Percy also told me that he lied about a bone disease in his legs."
"Yeah he said the same thing to me when we met. Got him out of gym, though it was the end of year so it didn't really matter."
"Its so he doesn't he have to change his clothes for gym. Also I'm sure the Mist helps too."
Artie began leading her away from the fields, "Come on, we have a lot more to see. I'll explain along the way."
Artie did his best to answer Apollonia questions, which never seemed to end. He explained how the Mist was a supernatural force that twists a mortal's sight from seeing supernatural occurrences by replacing them with things the mortal mind can comprehend. He also explained how the gods moved with the heart of the west which started in ancient Greece. Artie was surprised by how well she seemed to be taking it, then again she had two days to cope with what she had learned. He had a hard time believing it himself at first, but it made perfect sense when he thought about what he had seen in South America. They reached the Pegasus stables and saw several members of Silena's cabin riding several of them in the air. He continue to show her everything from the archery range to amphitheater.
As they walked, Artie couldn't help being curious about Apollonia. His curiosity was sated when she began making small talk. He learned she had been born in Mexico City, but she and her moved to the Miami when she was three. Her mother, Maria Moreno, soon became the head nurse in a local hospital where she met Apollonia's father. Bruno Sonota was originally from Uruguay, but had moved to the states to be with his family. They eventually married several months later.
"So you never met your father?" Artie asked.
"Of course I've met him."
His eyes grew wide. "Really?"
She raised an eyebrow. "He's lived with us since I was four. Kinda hard to live with someone for ten years and never meet him."
"Oh." said Artie understanding what she meant. "You mean your stepfather."
"No." She folded her arms. "I mean my father. If you mean the 'god' who ran out on my mom, then yeah I never met him and I don't want to."
Can't imagine Apollo is too happy about that, then again he's probably used to it by now. Artie scratched his chin, "Did anyone explain what being claimed means to you?"
"Not really. A heard some of the others say something about being claimed. Does that have something to do with the glowing musical note that floated over my head while I was treating you?"
"Yeah. That musical note was your father's way of claiming you as his daughter." A thought came to him. "Do you know your father is?"
"I just told you." she reminded him. "Its Brun - -"
"Not him." he interrupted. "Your other father."
She frowned, "No. I never got the chance to ask anyone."
He looked at the descending sun and guessed it to be late afternoon. Dinner was an hour or two away. He needed to talk Beckendorf about his armor problem, but he still had to show Apollonia the cabins. He found that strange. Normally he wouldn't even think about giving new campers the tour of camp, the endless predictable questions were enough to drive one mad. Still he found being around her pleasant and wished they had more time together.
I'll talk to Beckondorf some other time, Artie took her hand. "Come on follow me. We still have one more thing to see."
He lead her farther east until they reached the twelve cabins. Despite living at camp for two years, Artie still was amazed by bizarre designs of the cabins. Whether it was how his cabin glowed a silvery sheen at night or how cabin seven shone so bright during the day he couldn't look at it directly for too long. Apollonia seemed to be even more impressed. He lead her along the male god side and explained how each cabin was meant to depict a certain god.
"Like a mascot." she said.
"Pretty much, though I'm sure they prefer patron over mascot." Artie said with a smile. "You said you didn't know who your father is so I'm gonna introduce you to some who might know him. Plus I think it might be nice to get know your brothers and sisters."
"I'm an only child." She told him.
"Not for much longer." he said. "You'll see what I mean."
They stopped in front of Cabin Seven, the Apollo cabin. There were a few campers sitting on the porch strumming their guitars and lyres. Some were writing on note pads as they hummed melodies or muttered words as if trying to see which sounded better. Artie whistled and they looked down to see him. He wasn't surprised they frowned at his presence and wasn't even upset when one of them walked down to meet them. Artie saw it was Gene O'Connor and he did not looked pleased to see him.
"Hey Sonny, what do you want? Here to finish off Jason?" He sneered.
Artie held back a retort, "No Gene, I was showing a new comer around."
Gene gave Apollonia a quick glance before turning back to Artie. "Regular or undetermined?"
Artie stepped aside and introduced them. "Apollonia this is Gene. Gene this is Apollonia. She was just claimed by your dad yesterday. She said she wanted to know more about her dad so I figured one you could do a better job than me."
Gene shook her hand and gave her a warm smile. "Welcome to Cabin Seven. So your name is Apollonia? Well dad does have his moments." He put an arm around her shoulder and began to lead her towards the cabin. "Come on, let me introduce you to the family."
She looked back at Artie who waved. "Feel free to visit. I'll be in cabin eight if you need me."
She smiled and mouthed, Thank you.
Artie walked back to his cabin. As he did, Tobias swooped down and landed on roof. Artie smiled and held the door for Tobias to fly and perch on a branch that protruded from the wall. Before heading to his bunk, Artie threw a couple of logs in the stone fire place and lit them. Soon the cabin began feel much warmer and cozy, which always made him feel drowsy with sleep. He decided to forgo dinner and sleep which he did after slipping his shirt off, doing his best not stretch his back too much. As he drifted off to sleep, he couldn't help thinking about the new addition to cabin seven.
The last thing he saw before sleep took him, was that of Apollonia's smiling face and her intoxicating perfume.