CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Housekeeping From Hades

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All the sadness left from my encounter with Niobe seemed to vanish as Percy complemented me. It seemed like a great achievement to be like my twin, although, I'm not sure if it's a good thing his sass was rubbing off on me.
I began to settle into my seat, my heartbeat was beginning to slow down. The pain and exhaustion hit me lit a wall. I let out a gasp and grabbed my leg, just above the long cut on my calf.
"What happened?!" Leo asked concerned, gently turning my leg over. Pain flared up my body and I bit my lip to stop from crying out. Warm blood drizzled out of the wound, not gushing, but still oozing.
"I kind of fell on a broken bottle..." I bit my lip again as Leo poured nectar over the gouge, cleaning it. I bit down harder on my lip, causing it to bleed. The nectar stung worse than alcohol. The burning was then replaced by warmth. I watched as the wound stopped bleeding and began to close. All that was left was a long, white scar.
"It's my fault you got hurt." Percy shook his head.
"Don't beat yourself up! It's fine now." I leaned my head against the window and watched the water flow by. The sun was setting in the west, causing the tall buildings to look like black silhouettes. Reds and oranges streaked the sky, so beautiful, it looked like a painting out of a museum. 'Another day gone, another day Artemis and Apollo fade.' An ominous voice spoke in my head.
'Shut up.' I thought. The random voice in my head made me realize something. We had to save the twins soon. We didn't have a definite deadline, but I knew when we would reach Memphis: tomorrow night.
"You're thinking about how close we are to Tityos, aren't you?" Leo noted.
"How'd you know? Are you reading my mind?" I yawned.
"Don't sweat it... You look tired. Actually, we should probably stop for the night, all of us need a rest for tomorrow."
"I think we can probably get a hotel for the night, that'd be nicer than sleeping in a tent." Percy interrupted. Annabeth pulled the car to the side and parked. Eyelids drooping, I slowly crawled out onto the sidewalk. In a daze, I followed Percy to a small hotel. They paid for two rooms and we sluggishly walked up the stairs. The rooms we got were next to each other. Annabeth and I shared a room and Percy and Leo shared the other.
"Night guys." I yawned and closed the room door, sliding the deadbolt for extra security. Annabeth sat down on her bed gloomily.
"Hey... Do you want to talk? I know you have something on your mind." I sat on the bed opposite from her. Annabeth was abnormally quiet, ever since her encounter with Niobe.
"Yeah. I think talking might help." Annabeth sighed. "You know how I felt. The feeling like you would never be happy again? Like nothing would work out? And reliving your saddest and scariest memories..."
Annabeth buried her head in her hands. I immediately jumped off my bed and sat next to her, rubbing her back for comfort.
"I know. I still feel the sadness in my heart, but it's getting better."
"How?!" Annabeth lifted her head and tears were welling in her eyes. The pain from that morning began to rebuild at the sight of her breaking. Terrible thoughts flashed through my mind. I could see myself dying alongside my friends the next day. Olympus would fall because of me. 'Just keep focusing on the positives.' Leo's words rang in my head. Great advice, but I couldn't think of a single positive thing.
'Think of the future you and Leo could have.' A tiny voice said in the back of my mind. That's one positive...
"Think of the future you and Percy could have." I blurted out. The tears stopped rolling down Annabeth's cheeks. "Focus on that. Niobe's grief won't last on us forever because we will have a bright future."
I felt like I was speaking lies. But my words seemed to help Annabeth pull herself together. A small smile tugged on her lips. Her head hit the pillow and I walked over to my bed. I flicked the lamp off and stared into the darkness.
"Thanks for talking to me, sometimes I just need to get things off my chest." Annabeth whispered.
"Don't worry, about a thing. Every little thing, is gonna be alright." I sang quietly as Annabeth fell asleep. I wished my singing would work on myself too, I could really use the idea that everything would be fine.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned for a half hour before I decided I needed some fresh air. I tiptoed around the room and slipped out the sliding, glass door to the terrace, quiet enough so I wouldn't wake Annabeth.
The city glowed below me. Cars and traffic created a quiet city lullaby. I tried to soak it all in: The view, the sounds, the smell, the feeling of the spring wind on my face. If this was my last night of being alive, I wanted it to be a good one. My hands gripped the metal railing and I tried to loose myself in anything except for wondering what the next day would hold.
"Couldn't sleep?"
I nearly fell over the rail. My knuckles turned white and I whipped around only to see Leo. Their room shared our terrace.
"Yeah, I couldn't sleep." There was an awkward silence and Leo stood next to me by the railing. He turned to me and just gazed in my eyes. I stared right back at him, the deep brown eyes melting me like usual. My heart fluttered in my chest.
"I can't stop thinking that we're going to fail. The good guys don't always win in real life." I broke the silence and watched the cars passing by below us.
"Don't think like that. We'll figure out a plan and we will save Olympus. It will all be because of you." Somehow, Leo's hand found its way into mine. His hand was hot- like usual. I blushed, but luckily it was too dark to see.
"You always say that! But I'm nothing special, I just found out I was a demigod a few days ago!"
"You are special- even monsters know who you are! We just have to figure out what you can do. But one thing is for sure, we're going to teach Tityos a lesson."
"I hope you're right, Leo. I seriously hope you're right."
We stood hand in hand for a few comfortable minutes, just enjoying each other's presence. I began to feel drowsy and my eyes couldn't stay open.
"Hey," Leo said softly and tilted my head towards him, snapping my eyes open. His hand on my chin sent tingles through my body. "Go to bed, Ariel. I'll see you in the morning, ready to take on the world."
I nodded slowly. I don't know what came over me, but I pulled him closer, just standing in his embrace. I stared into his eyes, the city lights reflected in them. Leo looked surprised I had pulled him closer. His body temperature seemed to rise by the second. Small flames were peeking through his messy hair. I let out a small laugh and we broke apart.
Without another word, Leo blushed and we went into our separate rooms. This time, when my head hit the pillow, sleep immediately found me.

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