A Talk With Chiron
Since it wasn’t my birthday anymore, Peyton and I sat at the Poseidon table for dinner, both making faces at Emma and Nico, who made them back and laughed over everyone else’s voices. When we were all done eating, we went to the nursery and played with babies.
“You need to talk to Chiron,” Nico reminded me as I changed Kade’s diaper.
“I know,” I said. “I just… I’ve never had to be a real year-round camper.”
“It’s not bad,” Nico promised. “We work on stuff like mortal school, but it’s lots more fun. I’m actually pretty good at reading English now, and it’s ’cause Malcolm makes it funny.”
“Like making us read aloud, but when we get a certain number of words right, everyone gets to get up and dance.”
I smiled. It did sound like fun.
“I’ll help you talk to him tomorrow morning,” Nico offered.
I hugged him. “Thank you.”
After breakfast, Mr. D left the table, talking with Pollux, and Nico and I ran over to Chiron.
“Ah,” he said, smiling at me. “I had been hoping to talk to you, child.”
“Yeah, I know my mom Iris messaged you about me causing problems.”
Chiron smiled softly. “That’s not at all what she said. Sit.”
I sat down, and Nico hesitated.
“You too, Mr. DiAngelo.”
Nico cringed and sat. “Just Nico.”
Chiron furrowed his brow. “And why is that?”
“Because,” Nico looked at me, then down at the table. “I don’t like thinking about my dad.”
Chiron put a hand on Nico’s, then looked back at me. “Easy things first, I suppose. You are going to be a year-round camper?”
“Just at least until summer,” I said. “If Bob lets me, I might go home in the fall.”
Chiron nodded. “I think it would be wise to let him calm down, which is what I told your mother.”
“Plus, I’ll probably learn more here than at mortal school.”
“And why is that?”
“Because,” I said sheepishly. “Mortals are no fun. And they’re weak.”
“Just remember, child, different does not mean bad.”
I nodded, not sure what he meant.
“I will make sure to enroll you in the right classes, and I expect you to show up to all of them ready to learn and on time.”
“I will,” I promised. “I’ve never been late. Not here.”
Chiron smiled. “I think you would find it most valuable to apply the lessons you learn here to your life at home.”
“But I’m not in charge at home.”
“You’re not in charge here.”
I frowned. It always felt like I was in charge here. Even when someone else was teaching me something, I wanted to be there, learning. I even liked doing chores because no one ever really told me to do them, except the list. At home, everyone was always telling me, “Do this, do that… Or else!” and it made me not want to do anything. “It’s different.”
“Maybe explaining that difference to your mother and step-father would help things go smoother at home.”
“Bob would never listen.”
“You don’t know until you try.”
“I mean,” Nico said, glancing at me. “Bob really is mean, Chiron. He gets red when he gets so mad. I don’t think he’d listen.”
“Listen here, children,” Chiron said, smiling. “Not everyone out in the world is out to get you. Just because there are monsters out there hunting you and some of the people you were supposed to trust ended up being untrustworthy does not mean that everyone else in your life is untrustworthy. Katelyn, your mother loves you. It is true, I do not know your step-father, but I suspect that he is not the monster you think he is, if you just took a second to keep your own emotions in check when speaking to him. I know it is a big lesson, a hard one to learn, but it is one of the most important. Do you understand?”
Nico and I nodded, brows furrowed, lost in thought.
Chiron looked down the hill at the Big House and the cabins in silence, a slight smile on his face. After a few minutes, where Nico and I mulled over what he had said, Chiron turned back to us, focusing on Nico. “So what is this I hear about not wanting to be associated with the name ‘DiAngelo?’”
Nico shrugged, frowning at the table. “I don’t know.”
“I’m sure you do, child. It is only a matter of if you would like to solve the problem or not.”
Nico sighed. “My dad keeps leaving me, not telling me where he is and never telling me he loves me, okay? I don’t want to be like him. I don’t want to be a DiAngelo. Ever.”
Chiron nodded, watching Nico carefully. “Do you think that distancing yourself from the name will accomplish anything?”
“If he doesn’t want to be like his dad, having a different last name is a good start,” I said, thinking that I now had the same last name as Bob. I didn’t want to be anything like him.
“Nico, the name is not what matters when the issue at hand is a matter of character,” Chiron said. “Your dad is a good man. He’s been through a lot, as you have also. Your personalities could not be more opposite: him like his father, you like… well, like the soft sides of your mother and father combined. Getting rid of his name will not make you any less like him, as you already are his opposite.”
Nico nodded. “I just want a name that I started. That can be my family.”
“What would that be?”
Nico looked at me, then at Chiron. “When Hera gives us children, we’ll decide.”