mum and dad

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The bell chiming took no attention but shocked eyes still cast to the door. Mother's instinct warped into any woman in the diner when they saw Ciarda stumble in. Her clothes, as per usual, were dirt-trodden. Blood stained her dusted face, from where she'd tried to wipe it with her sleeve. Her hair was messy and stuck together in clumps. 

Percy, Grover and Annabeth followed behind her in silence, working their way to the seat where Ares sat. Retro music played over speakers and the scent of coffee warmed their insides.  Obnoxiously, Ares was laughing whilst staring at a cell phone, clapping at the table. The cutlery next to him shook, from his brutal pounds or Ciarda's burning rage, the trio weren't sure. 

"Are you okay, love?" An elder woman had gotten up from her food to walk over timidly. Ciarda stared at her, her face neutral until she realised the mother was talking to her. "'M Fine." She answered monotonously. 

"Order me some fries," She requested Percy as if she hadn't nearly just died moments prior. "I'm hungry," Her questmates nodded and walked to the countertop. Annabeth slipped onto a barstool, reading from the menu when a server approached her. She paid with human money and drummed her fingers cautiously.

Grover childishly played with the napkin dispenser, after taking out eight his hand was slapped away by Annabeth. Her foxy eyes, however, stayed trained on Ciarda who went slowly to sit with her father. 

Her sword clattered on the floor noisily as she took her time sliding into the red and white booth opposite him. Their feet were nearly touching, in fact, the pair as a whole were close. So close she could feel his aura thrumming off him. It felt like the high she got just before a battle was about to begin. 

Ares looked up to her nonchalantly before glancing back down at his phone. "Give me a second. I'm just starting a fight on Twitter, here. Nothing makes me happier than a good old-fashioned, burn-it-down fight." 

Ciarda stared at him, waiting for him to finish. This was his tactic - to make her feel small and insignificant in his life. Deep down, the permanent cracks in her heart added one more to its collection. Her father, unlike anyone else, wormed his way through every barrier and guard Ciarda had ever put up. 

Finally, he placed his phone down on the wooden top. The swirls in the oak reminded her of the sea. Her mind flickered to Percy.  

"Can I help you, Little One?" Ares queried, noticing the trio glaring at him from the counter. They were protective of his daughter and he understood why. The girl was loyal and fierce and had a strong sense of justice. He, although forbidden ever to see his children, had watched from afar. He knew of her encounter with Thalia, her abandoned childhood, her hatred of him. He found children annoying, so he wasn't entirely bothered. 

His head swivelled back to his daughter. Finally, his gaze took in her appearance. She had his dark fiery eyes and slanted Roman nose. Freckled adorned across her arms. Her fringe would've been well-placed if she didn't have blood and sweat circulating in it. 

"Give me a smile," It seemed his way to take the edge off. His fingers took a couple of deep-fried chips from a basket. Her face never faltered from stone cold but her eyes lit. "Just like your mother," He shook his head with a giggle. Ciarda's eyes widened slightly. Even in her mask of neutrality, something about her shifted. Ares shrugged, grabbing his phone and scrolling on it some more. 

Abruptly, Ciarda's hand slammed on the table, over his phone. It reverberated against her skin and provoked him to look up at her. 

"You don't care, do you? You don't give a single shit about me, or any of us. You are just like the rest of them," Ciarda subtly looked to the sky. Her chin wobbled and eyes glittered with water. She leaned in toward him, her eyes hardening like a warrior about to enter No-Man's Land. 

"You are not my family. And you never will be. Luke Castellan is my family. Annabeth Chase. Clarisse La Rue. They are my family because they have been there for me through my hardest times. Eros Redwood. Eurytion Wrenson. Edward Bales. Names of the people that supported me and cherished my existence. Don't you dare think for one second that you have earned the privilege to call yourself my father. Just like my mother, there is nothing I want from you." 

"You both left me in your own way." She mumbled, leaning back in her seat and relaxing her posture. Her shivering hands tensed on her thighs, hoping to stop the contracting nerves from exposing her high-running emotions. 

Ares' eyes turned to snake slits. This time, he leaned forward. "Your mother never left you. She did what was best for you." 

"Then why did she never show up?" Ciarda shouted, standing up and placing her hands on the table. People turned their way, the diner silencing. Percy got up from his seat, ready to rush over to Ciarda's aid. Annabeth and Grover were ahead of him, three steps toward the shaking table. 

Nothing was exchanged as the God and his daughter fought in their stares. The diner slowly regained its steady level of background noise. Gradually, Ciarda returned to her seat. She refused to give him the satisfaction of a reaction.

"She did what was expected of her, as did I."

"What are you talking about?" Ciarda looked at him in disgust. She scoffed, laughing at how stupid and hopeful she must have been to think that her father would be loving and generous to her. That the day they met would be the happiest day of her life. 

The demigod was in shock. Unbelievingly, he was synthesising excuses for a stranger who left her and Clarisse wrapped in cotton at the base of a tree, hoping Chiron would find them before the hungry Furies did. 

"She did what was asked of all of us. God's cannot meet their children." 

"My mother is not a God. She used to live in Boston with you, before she had Clarisse and I." 

Ciarda had looked through Chiron's books when he was introducing the new demigods to Camp Half-Blood at the start of Summer. She had only gotten as far as Boston, because attempting to find purposefully-hidden files had performed a harsh challenge, before Dionysus walked in. Lying through the skin on her teeth, she had gotten away with the excuse of trying to find Luke's sword which she had previously hidden and forgotten about. 

Honestly, she had hidden it in the tallest tree in two miles of Camp.

"No. Clarisse's mother lives in Boston. Your mother lives in Olympus. Chiron never told you?" Ares chuckled. He licked his lips as if finding prey. "Oh, this will be good." He rubbed his calloused hands together as if the Summer heat wasn't boisterous. Under his predatorial gaze, Ciarda shifted in her sweaty clothes. He was lying. He had to be. But Medusa's words ricocheted in her skull like a killer headache. 

Ares' smile disintegrated into something that instilled fear into people who peeked their way. Ciarda refused to kneel to it. "Your mother, dearest Ciarda, is Aphrodite. Goddess of Love and Beauty." 

Everything she knew was obliterated. 

𝐖𝐀𝐑 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐈𝐃𝐄𝐒  | percy jacksonWhere stories live. Discover now