Sometimes your nearness takes my breath away; and all the things I want to say can find no voice. Then, in silence, I can only hope my eyes will speak my heart.
Why did Bianca do that?
She doesn't know what she's doing, messing around with immortality like that.
Just because the goddess Artemis offers her such a thing doesn't mean she has to take it!
It's like if some guy in a van offers you candy, you don't have to follow him like a lost little puppy.
You know, Bianca isn't even sitting with me in the sun chariot.
Since she has new friends, she can forget about her brother, who actually knows her.
You know? Whatever.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wasn't about to let her ruin it for me.
"This is so cool!" I enthused, jumping up and down in my seat.
"Is this really the sun? I thought Helios and Selene were the sun and moon gods. How come sometimes it's them and sometimes it's you and Artemis?"
"Downsizing," Apollo answered.
"The Romans started it. They couldn't afford all those temple sacrifices, so they laid off Helios and Selene and folded their duties into our job description. My sis got the moon. I got the sun. It was pretty annoying at first, but at least I got this cool car."
"How does it work? I thought the sun was a big fiery ball of gas!" I exclaimed, amazed.
Apollo laughed and ruffled my hair like I was a kid or something.
Which, you know, I probably was compared to him.
He was a couple thousand years old, despite how much he looked like a mere eighteen year old surfer.
"That rumor probably got started because Artemis used to call me a big fiery ball of gas. Seriously, kid, it depends on whether you're taking astronomy of philosophy. You want to talk astronomy? Bah, what fun is that? You want to talk about how humans think about the sun? Ah, now that's more interesting. They've got a lot riding on the sun... er, so to speak. It keeps them warm, grows their crops, powers engines, makes everything look, well, sunnier. This chariot is built out of human dreams about the sun, kid. It's as old as Western Civilization. Every day, it drives across the sky from east to west, lighting up all those puny little mortal lives. The chariot is a manifestation of the sun's power, the way mortals perceive it. Make sense?"
I shook my head.
"Well then, just think of it as a really powerful, really dangerous solar car."
My eyes widened.
"Can I drive it?" I asked eagerly.
"No. Too young." Apollo responded.
"Oo! Oo!" Grover raised his hand.
"Mm, no. Too furry." Apollo mumbled.
He focused on Thalia.
"Daughter of Zeus, lord of the sky! Perfect!"
"Um, no, no thanks." She shook her head.
"C'mon, how old are you?"
"I don't know."
How can you not know how old you are?
"You're fifteen, almost sixteen." Apollo guessed.
"How do you know that?" She wondered.
"Hey, I'm the god of prophecy. I know stuff. You'll turn sixteen in about a week."
"That's my birthday! December twenty-second."
"Which means you're old enough to drive with a learner's permit!"
"I know what you're going to say." Apollo interrupted.
"You don't deserve an honor like driving the sun chariot."
"That's not what I was going to say."
"Don't sweat it! Maine to Long Island is a really short trip. And don't worry about what happened to the last kid I trained. You're Zeus's daughter. He's not going to blast you out of the sky!"
When we took off, I just closed my eyes and held on tight to my seat.
I didn't listen to what everybody was saying or doing.
I just focused on staying calm even though I was quite sure we were about to die.
And then we crashed.
We crashed into the water, I knew that because I heard the huge splash that probably upset Percy's dad.
We slowly, slowly rose to to surface, all the while fish swimming right outside the windows like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
And I saw Camp Half-blood for the first time.
"Well," Apollo said, looking at Thalia.
"You were right, my dear. You had everything under control! Let's go see if we boiled anyone important, shall we?"
He gave a blinding smile and strutted away, assuming we were going to follow, which we did.
I was walking around, doing nothing like always.
I was constantly bored.
I've been here for two years and have only left for short periods of time.
That wasn't exactly what I would call fun.
But, then again, I don't have anywhere to be in the human world.
I don't have a family to go back to.
I don't know who my parents are; not even my one mortal parent.
I was put up for adoption before I could even develop a memory and I stayed in the orphanage for six years.
I did get adopted; by people that only took me in because I looked pitiful staring out the window at the kids who had families playing in the streets.
They died in a car crash three years later, when I was nine.
So I ran away.
I didn't want to listen to the false sympathy of bystanders, my neighbors or police officers.
I'd managed to survive on the road for a whole year before a satyr rescued me and took me to camp.
And here I was two years later; still alive, still at camp, still undetermined.
And because my godly parent was too busy doing nothing to take a couple seconds and claim me, I had to stay in the too-full Hermes cabin.
I wandered around aimlessly; but for some reason, found myself drawn to the lake.
As I walk, I look down at the ground.
I bump into something and fall to what I was previously looking at.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" A male voice apologizes immediately.
"It's okay, I should have watched where I was going..." I trail off, looking up from the hand to the face.
He had dark eyes but I could tell they were brown.
They were a beautiful, warm, happy brown that I instantly liked a lot.
Once I gazed into them, I couldn't look away, I was hooked.
We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity before someone cleared their throat.
"Oh, um..." I stuttered, blushing.
I took his outstretched hand and stood.
I had no idea why, but as I touched him, I felt a shock and butterflies exploded in my stomach.
Suddenly, the lyrics of Vanilla Twilight by Owl City dashed through my mind.
'The silence isn't so bad, 'till I look at my hands and feel sad 'cause the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly.'
I looked into her light blue eyes and saw twinkling lights.
It seemed like everything was right in the world.
It was a paradise, everything was perfect.
Someone cleared their throat and I was brought back to reality.
The girl accepted my hand and I felt a sort of shock, like fireworks going off.
I started to get really nervous for some reason.
I helped the girl up.
"Are you okay?" I asked her.
I mean, I had knocked her down.
I was suddenly embarrased.
"Oh, um, yeah, I'm fine." She smiled a tiny bit.
"Cool." Cool? Really? Of all the things I could have said, I had to say 'cool'?
"Yes." She replied, taking a small step back.
Well, this was awkward.
"This is our new camper, Nico di Angelo." Chiron said, sparing me.
'Thanks.' I mouthed in his direction.
He nodded, smiling.
"Oh, hello Nico, I'm Faith."
I liked the way my name sounded coming from her lips.
"Faith..." I trailed off.
"Williams," she responded.
"Faith Williams." I echoed.
She nodded, keeping her eyes on her shoes.
"Uh... I'll see you later."
She walked away.
I watched her as she left.
No! I wanted to scream.
My heart ached once she was out of sight, but I still turned back to where Percy and Chiron were standing.
Chiron and Percy both gave me a knowing look.
I blushed bright red.
"So," Chiron started, still looking at me with a grin.
'You've seen the orientation film and you have had a tour, do you wanna meet your cabin mates?"
"Then follow me," and I obeyed.
We walked to the Hemes cabin, where I had to stay with the other undetermined children and Hermes' kids until I got claimed by a god.
"Cabin eleven!" Chiron shouted.
"You have a new camper to meet!"
"Is it a girl?" Someone asked enthusiastically.
I stifled my laughter.
"Oh..." the voice responded quietly.
"Come on in!" Someone else yelled.
Chiron moved and ushered me into the tiny room.
I looked up and glanced at everyone staring at me.
They all looked kinda shady but maybe that's just me.
Chiron interrupted my thoughts by saying "This is Nico di Angelo, everybody, make him feel welcome."
He then walked away, leaving me alone with the Hermes cabin.
I hadn't realized Percy had left already but he was long gone too.
A guy stood up, pushing his way through the crowd of people.
He smiled and beckoned me over.
I followed him towards the back of the cabin.
"Hey, I'm Travis Stoll, um, there isn't much space left but..." he paused, moving some stuff on the floor.
"Hey, Conner, can you get the newbie a sleeping bag and a pillow?" He asked, still tugging his over to the left.
"Yeah, sure," a boy that looked exactly like him replied, exiting.
"Twin?" I wondered.
"Yeah." It was fairly quiet for awhile after that, despite how packed this cabin was.
I didn't see why they didn't just let us use the other cabins, I mean, yeah, we weren't their kids but... still.
"Yo, I got the last one!" Conner said a few minutes later, wielding a fluffy pillow and a green sleeping bag.
"Awesome," they fist bumped and Conner threw the bed stuff at me.
I placed it carefully on the floor by Travis because all of the beds were taken and others had done the same.
I moved to sit on my new green sleeping bag and looked around at the room.
The walls were a chipped white and the floorboards creaked when you moved an inch, there wasn't anything decorating the cabin and people's things were scattered everywhere.
The room was full, kids taking every single inch of the space they were granted with.
"Ow," a soft female voice mumbled.
I looked up, caught off guard.
She was holding her left arm and looked like she was in pain.
I jumped up and ran over to where she stood by the door.
"Hey, are you okay? What's wrong?" I asked, concerned.
"Nothing, I'm fine!" She lied quickly.
"She's fine, just let her be," Conner muttered.
"How do you know that?"
"Every time she gets wounded, she just comes back here and doesn't let anyone get close to her. But she's always ended up fine."
I looked at Faith, astonished.
"If you're so okay, then let me see your arm."
She one out.
She sighed, leading me to the back of the cabin.
I led him to my sleeping bag and sat on down, motioning for him to do the same.
He faced me and held out his hand.
I took a deep breath and brought out my arm.
I rolled up the sleeve of my shirt halfway and gave it to him.
His warm hands touched my skin and it was the exact same thing as earlier, I felt a spark and I couldn't look away from him as he inspected my wound.
I was ashamed.
He shouldn't have to do this and see me in pain.
He didn't have to be nicer than anyone had ever been to me in my life.
I should be able to go to the infirmary and get nectar and ambrosia but I wasn't.
I hated when people saw me like this because they would write me off as weak.
"This is bleeding a lot," Nico said, sounding a tad panicked.
"Eh," I shrugged, which I really, really shouldn't have done.
"You need to go to the infirmary." He said, standing.
For the second time today, he lent me his hand.
I took it and tried to ignore the butterflies that came with it.
We walked side-by-side out the door.
As we passed the cabins, I noticed people in the Artemis cabin.
That's weird, I thought curiously.
I wonder what's going on.
"Are you okay?" Nico whispered.
I looked over at him to see him staring at my bloody arm with a strange expression on his face, as if he felt even worse than I did.
We made it to the infirmary in the Big House.
I lied down on an empty cot while Nico got one of the nurses, er... older medically-trained demigods.
We only kept them around for two reasons:
1. If they ran out of ambrosia or nectar and we needed real medical help, they'd be here.
And to understand the second reason, you need to know that if you have too much ambrosia and nectar at once, you could die.
2. They monitor how much we take in.
"Hello miss..." the female nurse trailed off, pulling on white rubber gloves.
"Faith," I told her.
"Faith. I'm Nurse Candace. Have you been in here before? I've seen you around camp but I didn't remember the name."
"I've been in here once."
"Ah, that explains it." She smiled a little too brightly.
Must be a daughter of Apollo.
She went to the medicine cabinet and came back with supplies.
"So, Faith, where's your wound?"
I held out my arm.
She looked at it for a moment.
"Bruised, bloody and approximately four inches long." She said to herself.
She went to another cabinet and got two things; a measuring cup in which she poured nectar and a plate on which she sliced ambrosia.
She handed me both and put her supplies away.
I took a sip of the nectar and tasted apple juice.
I tried a couple bites of the ambrosia and tasted chewy orange starburst.
You see, when you have this kind of medicine, you taste whatever you want to, which is kinda cool.
I looked down at my arm as it slowly healed.
It was now just a faint pink line, and even that was fading.
"That should be completely gone in an hour; and if it's not, see me."
I jumped down from the cot and placed the plate and measuring cup on the counter beside me.
"So, by the way, how did that happen?" Nurse Candace wondered.
"Monster." I replied shortly.
I looked over at Nico, "Coming?"
He nodded, "Definitely."
He opened the door for me and I smiled up at him.
Nico was two inches taller than me, but then again, I was pretty short.
He smiled in return, his black hair falling in his deep brown eyes.
"Hey, Faith, can I talk to you for a minute?" The nurse asked.
I glanced back to see her leaning against the wall.
"Sure." I followed her to the next room.
"What's up?" I asked.
"Don't lose that boy." She said without hesitation.
"Oh, come on, are you kidding me?" She exclaimed.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I see the way you guys are together, it's obvious you like the boy. And he likes you in return."
"That's what I thought."
"Just don't hurt the boy, he's head-over-heels for you."
I couldn't speak so I simply nodded.
"You can go now, it's over." The nurse laughed.
I stumbled out the door and met back with Nico.
I looked at him and blushed ten shades of red.
I wondered what they were talking about, considering they're practically strangers to each other.
Faith came back after a couple seemingly endless minutes, her gorgeous eyes wide and her fair cheeks pink.
"What's wrong?" I asked cautiously.
"Wh-what? N-nothing's wrong, exactly." She stuttered.
"You can tell me." I whispered.
"It's nothing." She said quietly, stepping away.
She left the Big House without saying a word.
What did I do?
Does she hate me?
Oh, gods, I hope she doesn't hate me!
My heart hurt.
I found no desire to stay here so I left.
"Hey, Nico, come on!" Travis called me over.
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Dinner." He said, leading me to the pavillion where everyone was.
"Come on," he led me towards the Hermes table.
I tried not to look at her because that might upset her further, but it was tough.
Conner and his twin told me about camp and how things worked but I wasn't paying really attention.
Suddenly, as I was busy trying not to look to my right, a silvery light flashed in that direction.
I looked despite myself.
A huge cloud of smoke circled Faith's head, swirling about her.
The large gray cloud slowed and formed shapes.
A large crescent moon, so surprisingly detailed that you could see the craters.
Small animals ran into the picture and I recognized dogs, birds.
With startling clarity, a bow and arrow appeared beside the moon.
The entire cloud of silver smoke was brushed away by a gust of wind; where it pushed towards Faith's wrist and appeared there like a tattoo.
All was silent.
I craned my neck a little, to get a better look.
Did she just get claimed?
If she was just claimed, where did I recognize those symbols?
Were my eyes deceiving me?
I hoped so, because if I was right...
Then Faith had been claimed as a daughter of the virgin goddess Artemis.
My breath caught in my throat.
What just happened to me? My mind shrieked.
A million questions ran through my head.
Who's mark is this?
Is the weilder of this symbol a male or female?
Is it who's I think it is?
Why'd they claim me now?
Does my godly parent like me?
Where is my godly parent?
Suddenly I heard a throat being cleared.
I looked up to see the one person I least expect to see.
It was a girl, maybe a few years older than me.
Her face was stern but friendly, her clothes were wrinkled yet regal.
The girl smiled at me, touching the tight braid of auburn hair behind her head.
Artemis... The goddess Artemis.
The virgin goddess Artemis.
How was that even possible?