The Lightning Thief

Tobias Fills In For Cupid

It was not until the forth of July firework show that Artie understood his mother's words about watching him and Apollonia. For the rest of the summer, he found himself making excuses to be near Apollonia, much to the displeasure to the rest of the Apollo cabin. She didn't seem to mind in the slightest. In fact, she seemed to do the very same herself and often forsaked the company of her cabin, ignoring her sibling's complaining. They would often spend the day in the amphitheater, teaching each other songs they knew. Apollonia would teach him songs from her home country of Mexico, namely Mariachi. He found that he enjoyed it as much as she enjoyed the few Samba songs he taught her. Once Artie could play without stopping which sometimes took most of the day, they would play and sing as their voices and instruments mixed in a rough but passionate blend of cultures. On occasion, Grover or another satyr would join in on their reed pipes.

Every now and then they would practice their archery together. She was a natural archer, like any child of Apollo, but refused to accompany him on any of his hunting trips in the woods. He couldn't blame her, he had nearly thrown up himself when he first learned how to gut and skin a rabbit. He also did not take her to his tanning cave in the woods. Though he had grown used to it, there was a very good reason that even today that any tanning using ancient methods were located far from towns and often downwind of them. Even in the times of ancient Greece, tanning was considered a noxious or odoriferous trade. Still she was impressed what he could make with nothing but a knife and thread, whether is was a simple waterskin or a pair waterproof boots.

Since she was not a year round camper, Louise would have to show Beckendorf how to make the armor, namely the making and weaving of moonsilver wire, in her absence. Artie was disappointed to learn the process wasn't complicated, but it would take a long time to forge the complete set. So much in fact that he might have a single boot by the end of the summer session. Artie was annoyed by this, but reasoned there wasn't anything he could but wait until they finished. He did his best not to dwell on it, which he found surprisingly easy to do.

He had spread a blanket under the only tree was within walking distance of the beach where the Hephaestus cabin would launch the fireworks from an anchored offshore barge. It was somewhat isolated from all the other campers who were directly on the beach. He had seen the show twice before and he knew it was cabin nine, but never got tired of it. He leaned against the tree as he heard Tobias perch on a branch a few feet above his he leaned against the tree and waited for Apollonia to join him, he thought about her offer.

He never exactly lied to her when he told her how he came to Camp Half Blood, he simply left out a few details. One of those details was the death of his mother and brother. He still didn't know how she learned about it, but he found it hard to lie to her. She hadn't exactly confronted him about it nor was she angry with him. But when she told him how it was far better to let it out than to keep such a thing to oneself, he found himself telling her everything he had left out. She listened without comment or question and he did not see her for two days after that. She came to him after dinner on the second day and brought him an offer he found strange. He couldn't tell if she was taking pity on him or if she had ulterior motives, either way he couldn't think of answer and a week already passed. She had not pressed for answer, but he could not put it off forever.

"Don't take this the wrong way." she had said. "But I managed to talk with my mom and dad. If you want, you can stay with us until next summer."

"You're not staying year round." he concluded. He wasn't mad, it was simply a statement of fact.

She shook her head. "It's great here, but I can't stay. We have plenty of room if you're worried about that."

Artie was grateful for her offer, but asked, "Why? Is this because of what I told you?"

Apollonia looked embarrassed as she rubbed her hands and shifted from foot to foot, "The way you talked about . . . I . . . uh . . . I talked to Chiron and he . . ."

"Said something like it might be good for me to spend some time away from camp." Artie guessed. "He would say that."

"You can't say he doesn't care," she said.

He must know about the armor and why I want it, probably thinks Apollonia will keep me from going stir crazy and doing something stupid. Artie thought to himself. Then he looked at Apollonia and her pleading eyes. I wonder exactly what Chiron told her. It couldn't have been something small, she's practically begging me to say yes.

Artie was jerked out his thought as the a breeze blew past him which carried an overly sweet aroma, "Hey Silena."

Silena Beauregard, head counselor of the Aphrodite cabin, came out from behind the tree with his record player in her hands. "One of these days you're gonna have to tell me how you do that."

Artie smiled politely and took the record player from her. "You cleaned it?"

She nodded, "Waiting for Apollonia?"

"How'd you know?"

Silena winked, "I can have secrets too."

Artie set the record player next to him and watched Silena as she went to the beach to join the others. Artie saw that she had left a record on the player. Silena had asked to borrow it a few days ago. He was surprised she knew about and was even more surprised that she had some old records she wanted to listen to. He bent down and saw a record was still on the player. He would have to return it when he got the chance. He saw it was copy of The Temptation's Greatest Hits. He was vaguely familiar with some of the songs, he was sure at least one them had been in several movies, but he was unable to remember it exactly.

Another breeze blew, this one carrying a much more pleasant scent. He was about to say hello when Apollonia asked, "What was that about?"

Artie turned and choked on the words. "It was ju-j-j-j-j-j."

Apollonia was wearing make-up and had done up her hair, which she never did or not since he had met her. Her lips had the perfect shade of red. She had the just right amount of eye liner and mascara. Her long wavy black hair looked like something out of a shampoo commercial as it tumbled past her shoulder. He had learned that she didn't wear perfume and her sweet scent was just that, her natural scent. But now she was clearly wearing it. To be honest he preferred when she didn't, but he wasn't sure how he go about telling her. He had refrained from telling her because he thought she might consider it weird. But if things were going the way he thought they might go which if her make-up was any indication, then she might not mind.

"Something wrong?" she asked as if everything was normal.

Artie shook his head, trying to clear his head. "No. Just . . . uh . . . first time seeing you all . . ."

"Dolled up?" she offered as she twirled a strand of her hair around a finger. "Silena practically begged me to let her. Does it look good? I didn't get a chance to look in a mirror."

"At the risk of getting blasted," said Artie. "Aphrodite herself would be jealous."

She giggled and sat down next to him, half leaning on the tree and him. "This is nice."

Artie smiled as she took his hand in hers. "Wait till the show starts."

They sat together watching the night sky as they waited. Despite the cool night air, Apollonia felt warm against his skin. He fought the urge to giggle as her hair tickled under his chin. He sighed deeply. This was how life was suppose to be. No monsters attacking or running through the wild not knowing whether you would survive to see the morning. He wished it could last forever, but he knew better. Nothing last forever, especially demigods.

A sound came from his left and he saw Tobias. He was cranking the record player with his beak. Once the record began spinning, he carefully lifted the needle and set it on the record. Artie was sure if Tobias could wink, he would have as he flew up and returned to his perch overhead. Instantly the music began to play. The saxophone blended perfectly with the piano as the drums played ever so lightly with a barely audible bass. He smiled as hummed along with it.

Earth angel, earth angel

Will you be mine?

My darling dear, love you all the time

I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you

Earth angel, earth angel

The one I adore

Love you forever, and ever more

I'm just a fool, a fool in love with you

Apollonia hummed along with him as the fireworks began. Each exploded with a thunderous boom as it brighten the night sky, spiting colors here and there, only to fade and be replaced by another only a moment later. He and Apollonia oohed and awed as they saw several ancient Greek tales came to life in the night sky. They would see all twelve Labors of Hercules which was followed by the greatest feats of Theseus and Perseus. The finale was of course was a mock battle by several hundred foot tall spartan warriors before they exploded into a barrage of colors, but that was still far away.

Somewhere between Hercules fighting Cerberus and chasing the Ceryneian Hind, Apollonia turned to face him. "Artie?"

He looked down at her, "Hmm?"

She slowly reached for his sunglasses with trembling fingers. "Hold still."

He took her hands in his to stop her. "What are you . . ."

"Shhhh." she hushed gently. "Please . . ."

Artie let her removed his sunglasses. Ever since she had accidentally saw them, he had made sure to always be wearing them and to always have a spare pair in case he lost them. He found it strange that she wanted to see them, he found it even stranger as she traced around them. He held still as she brushed her fingers over his eyebrows and the side of his eyes. Strangely, he found her eye just as mesmerizing. Deep brown, like pools of silky smooth chocolate. As he lost himself in her eyes and she in his, he was aware of Tobias cranking the record player again as another song came on.

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day.

When it's cold outside I've got the month of May.

I guess you'd say

What can make me feel this way?

My girl,my girl,my girl

Talkin' 'bout my girl, my girl

I've got so much honey the bees envy me.

I've got a sweeter song than the birds in the trees . . .

The music sort of brought him out of his trance and he was still aware of Apollonia's hands on his face. "What are you . . ."

His words were lost as she gently pulled him towards her and kissed him. He was shocked at first, so much he did not move an inch. She pulled away, sensing his hesitation.

She looked she might die of embarrassment. "Oh my gods . . . I'm sorry . . . I thought . . . that you . . . that we . . ." She hugged him and whispered pleadingly, "No te enojes, pensé . . ."

Artie put his hands on her shoulders to face her. "Y por qué iba yo a estar enojado?" He leaned closer and returned the kiss.

Artie felt her shock for a moment before she wrapped her hand behind his neck and he wrapped laid his on her waist. They continued for a minute or two before they released each other. Without spoken consent, they resumed their previous position, with him leaning against the tree and she half leaning on him, and watched the rest of the firework show. Artie only half watched as Artemis's letter began to dawn on him.

I'll be watching you and though Apollo girl huh?, he thought. Well I hope you like what you see, cause I know I do.

"Artie?" Apollonia asked as she laid a hand on his face.

"Hmm?"

"So are you gonna stay with us? In Miami I mean."

He leaned in closer and gave a quick peck on the lips, "That answer your question?"

For the rest of the summer session it was official, Artie and Apollonia were dating. Artie found that the only difference between before and after was there alot more kissing involved. The problem with being the new it couple was the varied reaction of the other cabins. Artie did his best to avoid the Apollo cabin as much as possible and Apollonia did her best not spend too much time there as well. The children of Aphrodite seemed to do their best to make wherever they went as romantic as they could, whether it was playing old love songs or sprinkling them with rose petals. Artie also learned that they pestered Apollonia with questions about him, mostly about how romantic he was or how good he was at kissing. The Ares cabin was to preoccupied with hating Percy to feel one way or another about them, thank the gods. The Demeter cabin didn't seem to care, although they did spend alot of time speaking with the children of Aphrodite as of late. Annabeth had told them that her cabin was merely concerned how Apollo and Artemis would react, mostly Artemis turning Apollonia into a rabbit and throwing her to the wolves.

They only people that didn't seem to stare at them was Annabeth, Percy, Grover, and most of the Hermes cabin. They would often hang around with each other and spend the day together, though Artie still excused himself from capture the flag. He wasn't sure the Apollo cabin had told her about his outburst during his fist capture the flag game, but she never brought it up and neither did he. Despite all the stares and jeers thrown his way, he found he was happy for the first time since first arrive at Camp Half Blood two years ago. He thought about it as he stood on Half Blood Hill, waiting for Apollonia, along with many other things on his mind.

He was concerned about Grover. When he brought Apollonia to camp, the counsel of elders had finally granted him a searcher's license. Artie knew no satyr had returned alive from the search for Pan, but in the end he decided not voice his concerns. Grover had every right to follow his dreams and Artie wished him good luck along with waterskin that would keep liquid either hot or cold without damaging the was surprised to learn Annabeth would also be leaving camp and giving living with her family second chance. He exchanged polite greeting with her father and his new wife. He envied their kids, completely on hundred percent mortal. No monster attacks for them. Just normal everyday lives for them, well as normal as it could get sharing a home with a demigod.

He also wondered what Percy would do. He doubted Percy would stay year round, but there was always the possibility. He guessed after all he went through to save his mother, he wouldn't simply just stay. Then again he might stay so not to put her in danger everyday he was with her. All things considered, he might actually do that. Artie knew he would have, if his family was still alive. And since Annabeth had told him what happened when she was little, it wasn't outside the realm of possibility.

"Having second thoughts?" Apollonia asked as she walked up to him.

"More like third and fourth thoughts." he answered.

She frowned, "You're not changing your mind are you?"

Artie looked back at the camp spread out behind him before looked back at her, "Nope." Then he smiled as an idea came to him. "Race you to the bottom of the hill?"

A/N - Like I said, this is the final chapter. I'll start on Sea of Monsters fairly soon after a small break. It is the holidays after all. I'm kinda glad Sea of Monster was much shorter than the original which means I can get to Titan's Curse (My favorite of the series) and what Artie is going to do during The Battle of the Labyrinth.

Here's a hint - he'll be backpacking all over a continent people tend to backpack through either before or after college.

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