Facing the Mortal World
When my biological mother heard about the battle, about a week after it happened and after all the funerals, including Castor’s, Lee Fletcher’s, and Cecelia’s were over, she had Argus get Jacob and I home.
We spent a few scary months at home, away from the protection of camp, in which we met our mom’s boyfriend, Bob. He was okay, but he quickly figured out that Jacob and I attracted trouble wherever we went. We weren’t “normal” kids that he could take to a museum or a movie theater without something happening, and that quickly became something of a problem. The only break I got was when my mom allowed Nico DiAngelo and my Nico to pick me up and take me to Percy’s birthday party in New York.
We shadow traveled to Percy’s apartment, where Percy invited us inside. I wanted to hang onto Percy and celebrate with him, but he sent Nico Jr. and I off to play while he and Nico had their famous conversation about how to beat Kronos.
“Cake?” Percy’s mom, Sally, asked Nico Jr. and I.
“Yes!” we said, jumping as she cut us both pieces.
“I heard you two fought very well this summer,” Sally said, smiling as she handed Nico Jr. a plate.
“We whooped some monster butt,” I agreed.
Sally handed me a plate. “You sure did. I was very relieved to hear that you two were okay.”
“We can look out for ourselves,” Nico Jr. said, smiling as he took a big bite of the cake.
“It was kind of scary, though,” I said. Sally nodded and sat down at the table. Nico and I joined her. “I bled a lot. I got scratched on the leg and I was scared I was going to die.”
Sally’s face contorted. “Percy told me about that. He was very worried about you.”
“It’s okay,” I promised. “He carried me to the Big House and I got healed.”
“He loves you so much, did you know that?” Sally asked, smiling.
I nodded. “He tells me all the time.”
“He always wanted siblings, but…”
“He’ll always have me.”
Sally smiled. “He sure will.”
We continued to talk about everything-- my brother, Nico’s mom, and the looming prospect of school. I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t mind so much if Sally was my step-mom, or something like that.
The day after Percy’s party, my mom took me to pre-K, where I struggled. Not because I wasn’t smart, but because English letters made a lot less sense than Greek. My mom knew that I was probably dyslexic-- my dad had warned her-- but she didn’t want to try to diagnose me yet. Not only was reading and writing difficult, but the other kids didn’t make sense to me. They were small and soft, crying when they were pinched or poked. They knew nothing about fighting or climbing or what it was like to hike in a full suit of armor. I hated pre-school and begged my mom everyday to go back to camp and train, where I knew Nico was extremely lonely and sad without me.
Finally, right after Christmas and my fifth birthday, I got my wish. My mom sent me back to camp and kept Jacob at home with her and Bob. I felt bad that he got left behind, but selfishly, I was glad. I would be able to focus on training and Nico, who I missed even more than Percy.