"Bronze bulls!" Leo hissed out in a whisper, immediately crouching down to avoid them from seeing him. There was never meant to be a them, let alone an additional party member on the beach.
His heart dropped to the pit of his stomach when he saw Calypso stood comfortably at the beach, in the arms of... someone else.
"..Sunshine?" Leo said weakly, barely audible for even him to hear it.
The scent of cinnamon coming from Calypso in the island's warm breeze was like a slap across his face, stinging his already wounded from the explosion facial features. Her laugh, which would've sent his heart fluttering in his chest had the circumstances been different; was like a bullet through his chest, going straight through his already fractured heart.
Why didn't Calypso acknowledge him when he called her?
Leo brushed off the dust on his clothes and stood up, walking towards Calypso slowly. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat. He waited for the idiot who somehow replaced him to (can you believe it?) strut towards the rocky path leading to her home before approaching her. "Sunshine?" Leo said to her, louder this time with a sheepish smile on his face. "It's me, the idiot you totally didn't miss. Don't you recognize me?" He carefully placed one of his calloused hands on her shoulder, an announcement of his arrival.
'Apparently the crash wasn't loud enough for her to hear, huh?' Leo thought to himself numbly.
As she turned around to look at him, her golden brown hair seemed to fly in the wind, frozen in time as her almond eyes blinked at him in a confused state. She wrinkled her small nose at him and narrowed her eyes, she said nothing but, "Excuse me?"
Why did she only look at him, all confused?
Leo let out a hesitant laugh as he continued, "Sunshine, it's me. Leo? Leo Valdez? Name ring a bell?"
She stared at him, and for a second, a look of recognition washed over her, but as it disappeared, Calypso blinked at him once more and she replied, "I don't know who you are or what you're talking about, but you need to leave. This is my island, and trespassers are never welcome. Never have been, never will be." The tone she gave him was firm and commanding, but an aura of cold was in it. Weird, she always seemed to give off warm vibes, even when she was being stuck-up towards him when they first met.
"Calypso, you're acting funny. Are you okay?" Leo asked her, genuine concern laced in his voice as he put both his hands on her shoulders firmly. "Did you eat too much of that beef stew? Did Dad not come by to visit like he usually does-"
His breath hitched in his throat when he saw her look at him, really look at him. The freckles dotting her cheeks were still as prominent as ever over her milky pale skin. Her almond eyes were as big and brown as he remembered, but they bore confusion and lack of understanding.
She looked so lost, but that didn't hide the pain he could see deep inside her heart. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, Leo could see how hurt she was, being constantly abandoned why the ones she learned to love. He wanted to simply kiss away the pain and tell her that he was here to help her, to heal her aching heart. "I- I don't..." Calypso swallowed hard and stared at the sand beneath her feet.
Why wouldn't she look at him?
"Calypso," Leo said to her gently, removing both hands from her shoulders. He placed one on her waist, pulling her closer to him, and the other propped under her chin, persuading her to look up at him. When she did, Leo continued, "Sunshine, are you okay?"
Time seemed to have slowed as he stared at her beautiful face, lost and confused, but still as entrancing as she was when they first met. She stared right back at him, their heartbeats in sync with one another.
When normal time kicked in once again, Calypso came back to her senses and did the unexpected. She slapped him hard across the face. "You- you pervert!" Calypso hissed at Leo in disgust. "I don't even know you and you're pulling stupid stunts like this! I mean, look at you; you're not even remotely good looking!"
'..huh?' Leo thought to himself dumbfounded. 'Did she just slap me and call me a perv in the same sentence!?'
Déjà vu all over again.
Calypso looked up at the sky and screamed, "Di Immortales! Zeus, this isn't funny! Why did you send me this.. This.."
"Holy Hephaestus, what is happening?" Leo said to himself numbly, clutching his sore cheek.
"Leave now, you impossible cretin!" Calypso yelled at him at last.
Leo couldn't take it anymore, seeing her react the way she was, so he shook his head at her in shock and took off in the other direction, as fast as his skinny legs could carry him. The wind blasted his elf-like ears, his jaw clenched as he continued sprinting along the beach towards where Festus was waiting.
Taking a massive gulp of air after stopping in the soft sand under his bare feet, his knees buckled beneath him as he collapsed beside Festus. His trembling hands continued to shake as he screamed a string of curse words, some of which he didn't even know existed until he said them. He clawed at his scalp with his long fingers, ruining his gelled hair; he felt like his brain was going to combust at any minute.
Leo kneeled on all fours, his hands curling up in the sand
beneath him, the tears in his eyes slowly pooled over, spilling over as the
salty tears started to dot the beach's pristine white sand. He continued to cry
silently as he curled up in the soft sand, coating his clothes with grains of
it, some of them sticking to his now sticky with tears face. Humor was a way to
hide the pain, but he didn't see anything he could possibly laughing about.
"I died for nothing, didn't I?" Leo asked himself quietly. "I
thought it would be worth it; saving the world and getting the
girl in one shot.. Guess I was wrong," Leo mumbled finally before passing
out because of exhaustion.
Leo woke up to Festus's bronze wings being wrapped around his small frame, protecting him from anyone that threatened to hurt him. Festus creaked in Morse code, 'Are you okay?'
Leo wiped away any stray tears with the heel of his palm as he answered, "I'm fine, big guy. Just tired is all. Thanks for checking up on me." Leo gave him a weak smile in an attempt to show him that he was better than okay, failing as his lips trembled. Festus said nothing as he wrapped his wings more securely around Leo. He knew that he was lying to Festus, and more importantly, himself.
He wasn't okay. He would never be okay knowing that Calypso had moved on after promising she'd wait for him to come back and save her.
That so-called blonde hunk with her decided to come along and ruin everything. Who the heck did he think he was? There was something vaguely familiar about him, but he couldn't place it. Was it his pasty blonde hair? Was it the color of his sickly pale skin? Leo could've sworn he'd seen him somewhere before, but he didn't know where or when exactly.
He stared into the sky intently and called out, "Dad, if you're listening.. I really need you right now. Sorry if I'm distracting you or anything, but..." Leo swallowed hard as he continued, "Dad, please. I need you."
Leo took several shallow breaths and decided to set up a Celestial bronze beacon, one that would be enough to catch his dad's attention. Using the finest tools and materials he could gather from his side of the island, he proceeded to do his work.
When he finally managed to perfect the beacon's functions, he felt a godly presence standing beside him. Leo tuned to find his father in human form, his face as crooked as ever, but kind all the same. "Could use a bit more work, otherwise, I'm impressed." Hephaestus said to Leo gruffly.
"Hi to you too, Dad," Leo told him flatly.
"Quite the charmer aren't you, son?" Hephaestus said to him in an amused tone. "Any specific reason why you called me?"
Leo sat down with his legs crossed, leaning against the Celestial bronze beacon as he said, "Oh, I don't know, Dad. Day's been going great today, I saw Sunshine with someone else after promising her that I'd come back, so I'm just jolly, aren't I?" His voice and tone oozed with bitter sarcasm, somewhere near narcissistic, in fact.
"Ah.." Hephaestus said at last after a brief awkward silence. "The Calypso issue." Leo laughed drily in reply, waiting for Hephaestus to go on. "Something on this islandis stopping Calypso's curse from being lifted." Hephaestus told Leo gruffly as he continued, "Until then, you're going to have to destroy him-"
"Wait, hold up; him?" Leo asked his father with narrowed eyes. "What do you mean 'him'?"
"I cannot say, Leo. Favoritism is frowned upon, and you know that. I have to treat all my children equally the same, but I suppose being dead has its perks. Technically speaking, at least."
"You were talking about that other demigod, weren't you?"
The corner of Hephaestus's lips twitched, a smile threatened to appear on his crooked face. "You aren't as ignorant as they think. Very well, then. If you want to see Calypso and get her to remember you, you must remove him from Ogygia. Only then will the curse be lifted, allowing her to leave Ogygia with you on the travels you plan to endeavor on, Leo."
Leo scoffed and said, "Piece of cake."
"Not quite, son. Don't get too cocky so easily. There's a catch." Hephaestus said to him warningly.
"Gods of Olympus, what is it this time?"
Hephaestus simply answered, "Unlike the other demigods who've stepped foot on Ogygia, this one is of Roman descent. He isn't like the rest of you, Leo."
Leo dug through the back of his mind and remembered that the Romans were a lot more sophisticated in comparison to the Greeks in every way possible, especially recreation wise. "Buff, blonde, pale as a zombie.." Leo mumbled to himself as he went through his internal checklist. Only one name came to mind, but it was impossible. It couldn't possibly be him.
Leo shook his head at Hephaestus and said, "Dad, if you're telling me that that pale as death, vain not-so surfer boy is the same scrawny augur that chased us halfway around the world to stop us from winning the fight against Gaea, I swear, I'm going to-"
Hephaestus said nothing as he continued to play the poker face card.
"Dad, no. Come on, you can't be serious." Leo said to him disbelievingly.
Leo could feel his left eye twitching, "You're kidding me, right?"
"..you aren't, are you?"