Family Feud: The Beginning Of The End Of The Earth

Ava Griffin is a demigod. Basically, she is half-human,and half-greek god. She is a permanent camper at Camp Half Blood, a camp where all demigods train for the hard-and normally short-life of a demigod. When Connor Alati arrives, Ava befriends him. Connor quickly learns that Ava has many layers, some that even the campers are afraid of. When Connor recieves a prophecy that has been forbidden for years, Ava and Connor are set off on a quest to save the world. And they are not guaranteed survival. With the ghastly past, horrifying present, and impossible future, Ava and Connor discover that the world is falling apart, and the gods are to blame.

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6. I See A Mental Breakdown In Your Future

     Note to self: next time Chiron wants to do an "experiment" with you, run away. It had been a week and a half now of training, and things were not improving. Each day, Chiron somehow found a new way to push me beyond control, resulting in a full bath of salt water. He managed to do this three times almost everyday, which I seriously think is going to kill me one of these days. I couldn't get a leash on my anger. In fact, I could read the flames' thoughts almost constantly now. It now took only a few mean words to set me off. My mind was exhausted, trying to keep its own rights. My body was even more so, because of course I would fail in stopping the curse, which took a lot of energy to sustain. I wasn't only exhausted constantly, I was terrified. The nightmares haven't stopped since the day after we started. Night after night I have woken up in a cold sweat, tears running down my face. I would start the routine all over again: wake up,go to the beach, cry, go back to the cabin, and not sleep for the rest of the night. I have gone to the infirmary twice now for some ambrosia for my pains. The Hypnos cabin probably could help, but they wouldn't dare try to help with the nightmares. Everyone besides Connor and Chiron have ignored me completely, probably too afraid now to say anything. I couldn't blame them. I was falling apart.

     Connor wasn't feeling his best either. I knew that using his powers so much was weighing him down. Not to mention the fact that the mystery behind his mother's death was eating at him. Every time a rainbow appeared he would cringe and mutter something about the gods.

     Right now, I was pushing a blueberry around my plate. I was alone at my table at the moment, waiting for Connor to get here. He always slept in later, probably because there was no one in his cabin to wake him up. I, on the other hand, found myself awake before anyone else. I could feel dark bags start to form permanently under my eyes. If my hair had a mind of its own, it would never be brushed. I am actually thankful that the gods gave me that one thing:nice hair. If I had three minds to deal with-no. That would tip me off the cliff. My pancakes stared at me, wondering why I wasn't eating them. Honestly, I just wasn't hungry. I knew I needed to eat before training, but I just couldn't. I looked off into the distance, contemplating how much my life stunk right now. 

     "Hey Sleeping Beauty." My head jerked up to meet Connor's amused grin. I hadn't realized that my eyelids had closed.

     "Oh, hey."

     "You tired?"

     I nodded. "Little bit." 

     Connor raised an eyebrow while he took a big bite of his sausage. "You're a terrible liar, you know."

     "Okay, I'm exhausted. Happy?" I snapped. 

     "And apparently grumpy." Connor frowned.

     I sighed. "I'm sorry. This training is taking a lot of energy." What was it with the half-truths lately? I was tired from the training, but the nightmares were by far more deteriorating. 

     "Yeah, Chiron's making it pretty difficult. You know he just wants to help you, right?"

     "Yeah."

     "So..." Connor dragged out the "o".

     I raised an eyebrow. "So...?" I asked, mocking him.

     "Can I have your blueberries?" I snorted and pushed my plate at him. He greedily took them from my plate and stuffed them in his mouth. "Aren't I attractive?" Connor smiled wide, and mumbled around tiny seeds and nasty mush from the blueberries. I laughed at him.

     "Nope."

     "Oh, come on." Connor pouted. I shook my head and continued to laugh. We fell into a silence while Connor devoured his sausage and toast. It didn't exactly stimulate my appetite. After awhile, my plate got the hint that I wasn't going to eat, and vanished in a puff of smoke. The plates and goblets were cool like that. Say I wanted milk, I just had to think it, and my goblet would magically fill with it. Whatever drink you wanted, it provided. Except for alcohol, of course. Drunk demigods with swords, I shuddered at the thought. The plates read your mind, too. When you knew you were done, the plate would vanish.

     Connor cleared his throat. "You're not going to eat anything?"

     I shrugged. "I'm not all that hungry."

     "You should eat before training. Wait here," Connor ordered me before getting up and walking back to the food.

     "Wasn't planning on going anywhere," I mumbled to no one. 

     The shaggy haired boy returned, with a serious look on his face. That was uncommon. His plate was newly filled with food. Blueberries, pancakes, sausage, and bacon all tossed together, syrup drenching it all. 

     Connor pointed to his plate. "Eat."

     "Connor, seriously you don't have-"

     "Ah, ah, ah!" He wagged his finger at me. "Eat, Ava Griffin."

     "Yes, your Majesty," I rolled my eyes, grabbing a piece of bacon. He watched me with stern eyes as I nibbled lightly. To his satisfaction, I ate half a pancake, two blueberries, and a strip of bacon. I felt sick. "Happy?"

     "Eh, it'll have to do," Connor said snottily, lifting his nose into the air and folding his arms across his chest. I laughed. 

     "So, did you ride the pegasus yesterday?"

     Connor's bright green eyes lit up in excitement. "Yeah, it was so cool! I had no idea how it would feel, but it was the coolest thing I've ever done. I found out that I could read their thoughts, just like the nereids!"

     "Right, you're a son of Poseidon. Your dad created horses out of sea foam, so you can talk to them just like any other sea creature."

     "Whoa..." Connor's eyes drifted off in amazement. All of a sudden a horn sounded, announcing the end of breakfast. Connor looked at me, never losing the excitement in his voice. "Ready to go, lava girl?"

     Without as much as enthusiasm, I grumbled, "I liked 'Sleeping Beauty' better."

     Together, we walked down to our usual spot on the beaches of Long Island Sound. Chiron was standing there already, arms crossed over his bare chest. His tail twitched in agitation as he watched us approach. Chiron always looked sad seeing me nowadays. I think he felt bad about doing this to me. Well, he should. This sucked.

     "How are you two this morning?"

     "Fine," Connor replied happily.

     "Eh," was my extremely detailed reply.

     "Okay, it's been nearly two weeks now. I think you are very close to surpassing your anger. Today's going to be the day, I can tell."

     I eyed Chiron. "Did you turn into the Oracle overnight or something?"

     "Wait, what's the Oracle?" Connor looked at me questioningly. 

     "It's this old lady with red hair that lives in the attic of the Big House. She recites prophecies and stuff."

     Connor nodded, not convincing anyone that he understood. "I gotcha."

     "Anyways," Chiron continued, "I have had a few millennia to get acquainted with training, Ava. I think I know what I'm talking about." 

     "So you've had to train other kids who were cursed by Hestia because she was jealous of Athena?" Connor snorted at Chiron's dumbfounded expression.

     "Well, uh, let's begin, shall we?" Connor backed up as Chiron moved closer to me. I had to admit, the centaur had a lot of courage to antagonize me everyday. Inside, I had a bad feeling that Chiron's predictions were going to be very wrong.

     Go figure, Athena's daughter was right.

     Chiron produced from nowhere a small piece of paper that was laying face down on his palm. I realized it wasn't a piece of paper, but a photograph. One of those old ones that came out with no color but then after a few minutes became pigmented. I loved Polaroid cameras. I had had one a few years back, but it was lost. Or, technically, left behind. The picture had been burned lightly around the edges, with a folding mark running down the middle. It looked vaguely familiar.

     Like a freight train, the memory rammed into my brain, simultaneously making my heart stop. For a few seconds, my heart did not beat. The second it did, I inhaled deeply and screamed at Chiron.

     "No! Where did you get that?! Chiron don't you dare! How could you?! Get rid of it!" I turned on my heel and tried to run before Chiron could turn it over, exposing it's hideous memory. My arm was grabbed tightly by Chiron, who whipped me around to face him. I was in deadlock. Whatever the cost, I could not look at that picture. I turned to Connor with pleading eyes. "Connor, help me! Help me! Please!" Connor started to move forward, just as agitated as I was.

     "Connor, I order you to stand back." Connor stopped dead in his tracks, green eyes looking nervously between me and Chiron. He nodded, lowering his head and took a few steps back. No, I needed to get out of here. I thrashed and kicked to no avail. "Ava, this will help, I promise. Trust me."

     "Let me go! Help! Help! Stop!" My verbal pleas were either unheard, or unanswered-probably the latter-since no one came to rescue me. With one flick of Chiron's hand, the victim and the attacker changed roles dramatically. 

     Chiron released me, dropping the picture to the beach, and darted to my right, taking off towards the edge of camp. In the same second, I had a mental breakdown. The face of everything amazing and horrifying stared up at me with bright blue eyes and a warm smile. I cracked.

      I purposely opened the bridge, allowing the dam to break, releasing the curse of Hestia. This time, we worked as one, both willing to kill Chiron. We shared our brain, our body, our hate in perfect harmony. In a flash of heat so hot it evaporated the first five feet of ocean right in front of us, our whole body was bathed in flames hotter than the sun. We chased after Chiron, laughing and screaming at the same time, making some noise I could only later describe as something similar to the roar of a lion. All the sand in about the space of a foot around us melted into glass, creating a runway of sorts in our wake. 

     Connor backed into the ocean, watching mouth agape at us in our white hot killing machine. We laughed at him and continued to race off after Chiron. All of a sudden, a burst of cold water blasted into our back, knocking us down. We turned around and stood up, noticing that Connor was now walking up to us with a large ball of swirling water above his head. His hands reached up, somehow holding the water above him. We panicked when Connor unleashed all of the orb of water on us, drenching us. For a second, I saw relief in Connor's eyes. Then fear. We laughed again as the water steamed off of us, and we returned to our miniature sun. Connor cried out, believing he was about to die. What a pity we didn't then and there. Instead, we were too focused on killing Chiron, the one who made us so angry.

     We dashed away, melting more sand into glass as we closed in on Chiron, and raised our arms to finish the job. Chiron turned, his brown eyes changing to reflect the white that was now flying at him.

     "No!" Connor yelled. We turned around to face him, smirking. Our smirk quickly vanished. Connor was racing after us, surrounded in a ball of water. We were a ball of fire, and Connor was a ball of water. He crashed into us, the water overtaking the fire, extinguishing it. I gasped, searching for air, which in turn did nothing but make me swallow a gallon of water. Connor was holding onto me tightly, eyes shut tight. The flames were gone now, leaving me trapped in the orb of water with no air to breathe. I hit Connor, the water slowing my movements. He just held on tighter, squeezing the last breath out of me. I was suffocating. I pounded mercilessly on Connor, trying to get him to let go. Finally, I blacked out.

     "Ava, wake up, please. C'mon, you can do it. Please..." I opened my eyes to Connor shaking me, whispering to me softly. His eyes were dark and wet. Chiron knelt next to him, with his beard half-singed off. They both gasped when my eyes fluttered open. "I'm so sorry, Ava." Connor apologized profusely, helping me sit up and hugging me. "I didn't know you couldn't breathe! I thought I killed you..." His throat hitched.

     "Connor, I can't breathe now." I choked out.

     He let go quickly, blushing. "Oh, sorry. Again."

     "What happened?" I asked, looking around to see a long strip of clear glass running along the beach. I was completely dry, and covered in sand. My hair was a mess all around me, and my body was surprisingly just fine. I wasn't tired in the slightest.

     "Well, you kinda cracked. Just a little." Connor made a small gesture with his thumb and pointer finger to emphasize. "I didn't know what else to do. When I sprayed you with water, it evaporated. So I thought if I kept you in water without oxygen, the fire would have to go away. You know, 'cause fire needs oxygen to burn. I didn't think about you needing to breathe! I'm sorry!"

     "Connor, that was extremely clever of you. You saved us." Chiron placed his hand on Connor's shoulder. I found it amusing his beard-or what was left of it-was still smoking.

     "You know, 'hunky lifeguards' aren't supposed to drown people, they're supposed to stop the drowning."

     "Ava, hush. Connor, what you did would make your father proud." Connor's face frowned even further. He hadn't told Chiron about the Iris message where he saw his mother's grave. "Now Ava, how did you feel?"

     "Um, well, different. I wasn't trapped, I was in control. The flames and I worked...together."

     Connor and Chiron shared a look of confusion. "You mean, you wanted to kill me?" 

     "Sorry," I apologized. "You had it comin'. You shouldn't have taken that picture out of my cabin." A thought came to my mind. "Wait, where's the picture?"

     "I don't know. I left it in the sand..."

     "Oh no." I stood up and took off back down the beach, right where I had lost it. My eyes scanned frantically around, praying inside I would find the picture intact and unharmed. What happened next is blatant proof that luck hated my living guts. In the sand, a handful of ashes sat, blowing lightly in the breeze. The picture. I knelt and scooped up the ashes, holding them in my cupped hands. They blew little by little out of my hands. In no time at all, my eyes were too blurry too see them. It was the last thing of him I had left. Now I had incinerated it. I sobbed until the wind took all the ashes away, leaving my hands in a gray dust. It was almost as if I had killed him all over again. Now I could never see his face. Connor and Chiron stood next to me awkwardly, waiting for me to stop. We must have stayed there for a half hour, at least. Finally, I wiped my hands on my shorts and wiped my eyes.

     "I'm sorry, Ava." Chiron placed his hand on my shoulder. 

     "It's okay." 

     "Has anyone told you that you are not adept at lying?"

     I laughed a little. "Yeah, Connor has." I looked at him, who didn't meet my eyes.

     "Well, I think you made more progress then you think you did today, Ava. We'll see how tomorrow goes for you. You're dismissed."

     "Sorry about your beard, Chiron."

     "Don't worry about it. It only took a millenia to grow, no big deal."

     "Easy on the sarcasm, would ya?" After that, Connor and I said our goodbyes, trudging up the beach. We walked for a few minutes in silence.

     "You okay?" I finally asked.

     "That's my line." Connor smirked. I waved my hand, gesturing for him to answer. "Yeah. I'm just tired." I eyed Connor closely. Saying you're tired was a good way of saying you're not okay at all.

     "That's my line."

     Connor laughed. "Yeah, I suppose." He glanced at his white wristwatch. "We missed battle training. I have Greek grammar now. What about you?"

      "Sleep." Connor laughed again. We walked silently to my cabin, no one around. I walked up the steps and opened the door. I turned my head to Connor. His eyes looked at his shoes, exposing his dark brown hair. "I'll uh, see you later, then?"

     "Uh, yeah," Connor replied, still not meeting my eyes. He turned around and ran to his next class. I looked at his back until he was out of sight, then walked inside, slamming the door behind me. I walked to my bed, in the very far corner of the girls' side. My bed was barely decorated, the only picture now ashes in the wind. I flopped heavily onto my bed, sighing. For awhile I just stared at the wall. Then the dam broke again.

     We sobbed together until we drifted into a restful slumber.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

     I slept well into the night, missing lunch and dinner. In my dreams, I relived every horrifying moment of my life all over again. It was dreadful. Flashes of images so gruesome and heart wrenching it shouldn't have been legal to see. But I did. Why? Because it was all my fault. All of it.

     I started awake in my bed, salty tears mixing with sweat covering my body. My body shook as I wept softly, covering my face with my hands. I sat like that for I don't know how long. I didn't care, I just didn't want to fall asleep again. My eyes began to ache, and my body began to calm down. Soon, only small sobs hitched in my throat, making my stomach jump. I lay down, staring with the top bunk-which no one occupied-and breathed purposely. I counted how long to hold my breath, then exhaled, then inhaled. Hold 1, 2, 3. Exhale 1, 2, 3. Inhale 1, 2, 3. My technique was working pretty well, my throat relaxing and my heart beat decreasing. Until someone sat down on my bed.

     I bolted up, forgetting I was in a bunk bed, and slammed my head hard. I groaned angrily. "Who's there?" I whispered, putting my hands out until they rested on someone's face.

     "It's Rose, Ava." Rose turned on a flashlight, exposing her face to me. Her pupils dilated amongst the pools of silver that were her irises. I found mine to be a dull iron. But Rose's were like the melted silver, the purest kind you would find in a blacksmith shop. Her blonde hair was pulled into a soft ponytail at the base of her neck, a few stray pieces hanging around her face.

     I removed my hands. "What are you doing?"

     "I heard you crying, you okay?"

     "Well, if you heard me crying I'm not okay, am I?" I snapped at her angrily. I did not need this right now.

     Rose sighed. "Look, I brought you a wet cloth." She rose her hand, showing me the cool washcloth that hung in her hand. She moved her hand upwards slightly. I nodded, allowing her to place it on my forehead. As much as I hated to admit it, it made me feel better, suppressing the heat inside me.

     "Why?" I asked after a few minutes.

     Rose took her hand away, biting her lip before she answered. "Ava, I'm sorry."

     I frowned at her. "For what?"

     "For everything. I let other people influence who I chose as friends. I'm sorry I abandoned you after the first incident. You needed a friend, and I wasn't a very good one. Sometimes I think about how things work like physics. All logic. Logic told me to forget you. But I forgot one of the most basic rules of physics:cause and effect. I didn't think about how much I would hurt you. I'm really sorry, Ava."

     I gave that a few seconds to sink in. "What changed your mind?"

     "You. I'm not an idiot, Ava. You're falling apart."

     "Compliment of the century."

     "Just hear me out. I know Chiron has been working you hard, and your nightmares keep happening. I can't pretend to understand, but I can't pretend to be okay being fake anymore. Will you forgive me?" Rose gave me pouty lips and pleading eyes, imitating a puppy.

     I gave a small smile. "How could I not?"

     "Yay!" Rose hugged me tightly. I laughed at her enthusiasm. She pulled away, smiling wide. "Well, I'll see you in the morning then. Okay?"

     "Definitely." Rose stood up, started to turn away, then turned around again.

     "Hey, do you think I could move in on top tomorrow? I kinda hate bunking with Courtney."

     I laughed. "Yeah, sure." I watched as Rose disappeared in the darkness. I listened as she climbed into her bed, then did the same. The smile never left my face as I drifted in my first peaceful sleep in weeks.

      I was wrong, I did need this.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

     When I woke up, campers were walking about, rubbing sleep from their eyes and brushing their blonde hair. All campers-except for me-in Athena's cabin had blonde hair. We all had the same sharp grey eyes. I always thought that the girls from Athena were pretty, not as beautiful as Aphrodite's daughters, of course, but they all had a strong jaw and shoulders that I think made them more refined. Definitely not girly. In the mortal world, a child of Athena would probably be the kid who always wanted to be line-leader, or was class president for the last six years. Most likely the person you would beg to do your homework, since it was extremely rare for us to get anything lower than an A- in any class.

     Rose noticed I was up, then sauntered over to me with a grin plastered on her face. Girls looked curiously at her, then at me, and scowled. Immediately, they circled and started whispering. Honestly.

     "Hey."

     I sat up, rubbing my sore eyes. "Hey."

     "Are you going to sit at our table?"

     "I hadn't thought of that. Probably not. I'll just sit with Connor at Poseidon's. Do you wanna join?"

     Rose bit her lip. "I don't know..."

    "Don't worry about it. Connor's awesome, he won't mind." I waved my hand at her.

    "Okay. I'm going to take a shower, I'll meet you down there."

    "See ya." Rose walked out, carrying her things in her arms. I decided to not take one, instead changing into a dark blue sweatshirt with jeans and tennis. I held my breath as I took out my small mirror. I was surprised to find it didn't crack the second it saw my face, which was a plus. My eyes still had shadows underneath, but thankfully it was the only blemish on me, if you don't think of freckles as blemishes. I left my hair down in all its curly glory, reaching the middle of my back. 

     A wall clock told me it was 8:30, which explained why I was the last one in here. All the other girls had left, still whispering about the odd friendliness between Rose and I. I had to say, it was a little odd for me too. As much as I hated to admit it, I missed Rose. She was my first friend at camp. She showed me around, told me about who I was, invited me in. After a few days, we got really close. Soon, the camp got used to me too. Some guys even flirted with me. My life was still a train wreck, but I pretended that it didn't exist. My past was kept quiet, little said if any at all. For four months life was okay. My nightmares were far and few between, and I knew nothing of Hestia, just that my mom was Athena. I didn't use my power until that one night.

     Rose and I were walking back to our cabins from the bathrooms, when all of a sudden it seemed like the entire camp was blocking our way. Two guys and two girls from Hermes started pestering me with questions about my past. Somehow, they had gotten dirt on me. The unexplained runaway, the foster home, the missing girl and the murdered boy...Long story short, I blew up. I put one of the boys in the hospital for two weeks. Three cabins had to be repaired, and the bathrooms replaced. It was pretty bad. I don't even remember how they stopped me.

     My gut twisted as I thought of that night. It was in November, more than eight months ago. As you can probably guess, I didn't have that many friends afterwards. After a month or two, campers got the courage to start playing pranks on me, as long as I didn't get too mad. That continued until present day, when everyone is just plain scared again. Give them a few more weeks, the routine will repeat.

     Connor beat me to breakfast this time, already hammering down on scrambled eggs and toast. I sat down across from him, admiring his vacuum-like abilities. I regarded him with a disgusted look.

     He looked up, eggs in and on his mouth and frowned. "What?" He asked through a mouthful a eggs.

     "I see liposuction in your future."

     "Please. A hunky lifeguard has to eat."

     I snorted. "Your as hunky as a piranha."

     "Hey! At least I'm not fiery girl version of The Hulk!"

     I gasped. "Hey!"

     "Hey," Rose muttered shyly next to me. I turned around in my seat. I hadn't heard her walk up, but here she was. Her damp hair hung loosely around her shoulders, her hands holding a plate of pancakes.

     "Hey!"

     "Who's this?" Connor asked, nodding to Rose.

     "Oh, sorry. Connor, this is Rose. Rose, this is Connor. Is it okay if Rose sits with us?"

     Connor regarded Rose with curiosity. "Yeah, sure."

     "Thanks." Rose sat down awkwardly next to me, smiling lightly at Connor.

     "So, since when have you guys been friends?" Connor gestured between us with his fork.

     I gave Rose an awkward look. "Um..."

     "Since last night." Rose answered.

     "Seriously?" Connor asked. I nodded, telling him the story. Connor looked a little shocked, maybe even suspicious.

     "Huh. Well, cool."

     "Yeah," I agreed. Awkward silence was dominant for a few seconds until I piped up. "So, Rose, what's your next class?"

     Rose took a swig of milk before answering. "I have to help Aphrodite and Demeter tend to the fields."

     I snorted. "Fun stuff. Remember that one time..."

     Rose's eyes lit up. "You mean with the..."

     "And the..."

     "Then the satyrs..." We both fell into a fitful laughter. Connor just watched us with a look of confusion. He laughed a little, obviously pretending to understand the joke.

     "What's so funny, you guys?"

     Rose waved her hand at Connor. "You just had to be there." We shared a look, then started laughing again. My stomach started to hurt; I hadn't laughed so much in a long time. Finally, we calmed down, and returned to eating. Connor still looked pretty upset he wasn't included in the joke.

     "So, how's training going?" Rose asked.

     Connor and I both sighed. "It's pretty much the highlight of my life, which is kinda depressing."

     "Oh, whatever. I'm the highlight of your life, Ava." Connor rolled his eyes at me.

     "You wish!" I laughed, throwing a blueberry at him.

     "Are you guys...you know..." Rose motioned between us, eyebrows raised. My face got really hot at that. I noticed Connor's was about the same shade as an apple.

     We both started shaking are heads furiously. "Oh, no."

     "Never!"

     "You actually think?"

     "Impossible."

     Rose's eyes darted back and forth between us, making her smirk. "I see." 

     All of a sudden, a horn sounded. Connor stood up abruptly. "Well, we should get going."

     I stood up too. "Yeah, I'll catch ya later, Rose."

     "Yeah, see ya." 

     Connor and I left Rose at Poseidon's table, smiling to herself as she watched us go. That had to be the most interesting breakfast I had had in a while. I relayed my thoughts to Connor, who just nodded.

     "You okay?" I asked.

     "I thought we agreed that was my line."

     "Connor..."

     "Okay, okay," He held up his hands defensively. "I'm just...curious"

     "About what?"

     "About that picture. Why was it so important?"

     Connor watched me while I bit my lip and decided how to respond. How could I respond? "It held a lot of things that I wish I could forget."

     "But-"

     "Connor, please."  

     "I just wanted to help..."

     I gave Connor a sad look. "I know, but-"

     "Forget it. Chiron's waiting." Connor pointed down the beach, where Chiron was waiting for us. Connor ran ahead of me, leaving me to glare at his back. That didn't work out very well, I thought. I know Connor wanted to know more, he must have so many questions. But I couldn't answer them. I just couldn't.

     "How are you two this morning?" Chiron asked, face as stern as ever.

     "Fine, "Connor and I said in unison.

     Chiron looked between us, apparently not convinced. "Let's begin, then." I took a deep breath and held it. Chiron took his time to walk closer towards me, his hooves leaving a trail in his wake. He kept walking until we were face to face. Or, face to stomach. Not the prettiest view in the world.

     Chiron took a deep breath, and uttered three words. "Mike Edward Dorea."

     Before I explain the un-explainable consequences those words ensued, I thought I should give you a quick grammar lesson. "Dorea" is pronounced like "door" "ay" and "uh". Just in case you were wondering.

      Okay, back to the main event.

      Chiron bolted off again as he saw that his words took the desired effect. He uttered his name. His complete name. No one else knew that name, how did he get it? The fire inside me boiled, climbing higher and higher until it felt like I was drowning in it. Don't ask me how I felt like I was drowning in fire, because I honestly don't know. There was something different this time, though. The flames didn't want to steal my body, they wanted to share it. They no longer forced me into my subconscious, they asked to be room mates. And because of the lack of aggressive possession, I could suppress them. In the first time since that time, I could tell the flames no. And it worked. My body felt fine, no weariness, and certainly no flames.          

     I had control.

     Connor and Chiron ran up to me simultaneously, jumping and cheering for me. Well, Connor was jumping, Chiron, not so much. A grin covered my face as I jumped with them. I had done it! I could control the flames, no matter how mad I got. And trust me, hearing his name had made me pretty upset.

     "Ava, you did it!" Connor hugged me as he jumped. I didn't know he was so...strong.

     "Can't...breathe..."

     Connor released me. "Oh, sorry."

     Chiron wrapped me in his muscular arms, again squeezing the life out of me. "Ava, I knew you could do it! I told you that you would master it!"

     I managed to untangle myself from Chiron's murderous grasp. "You said I would yesterday, not today."

     "Tomato, tamato," Chiron waved his hand. "So I was a day off, not a big deal."

     "Big deal?" I asked incredulously. "Oh, you are just so...so...so-"

     "Well, I guess we're done here, huh?" Connor clamped a hand over my mouth, nervously laughing and glaring pointedly at me. "No more anger issues, right?" Connor looked at me. "Right?"

     I sighed. "Right," I agreed, mumbling through Connor's hand. He took it away gingerly, still eyeing me.

     "Unfortunately, you are only halfway done with your training." Chiron replied, while his tail twitched nervously.

     I nearly choked on my own spit. "Half? What do you mean?"

     "You have completed controlling your anger, but now you need to learn how to use your power whenever."

     "I could do that easily!"

     "Let's see it, then." Chiron backed up, signaling for Connor to follow. I bit my lip, then closed my eyes. I searched within my mind until I found the dark, cavernous abyss where the fire slumbered. They woke up, realizing my presence, and tried to seize my mind. I suppressed them, and in a way told them what I wanted. Just my hand, I thought. Just my hand.

     I opened my eyes to find my left hand completely engulfed in fire. The sight was pretty awesome, like I was my own torch. I watched the flickering flames in fascination. They burned brightly, yet I felt none of the heat.

     "I told you I could do it," I boasted, raising my hand to show Chiron and Connor. And that's where it went bad.

     The flames no longer listened to my instructions-mostly because I forgot to keep saying them-and raced up my arm. I screamed in surprise as I was immersed in swirling flames. I panicked inside as my mind struggled to maintain its ownership. My panic led me to lose the fight, and once again flames were in control. I was a screaming, trapped conscious inside a murderous candle. There was nothing I could do.

     "I'll save you, Ava!" The masculine Connor yelled, running full tilt in his orb of salty water. The hydrogen sphere crashed into my flaming self, immersing me completely in water. There was a brief hiss of evaporating water before my fire was completely doused, leaving me without oxygen. Thankfully, Connor had his eyes open this time, realizing that I was about to pass out-again. He released me from my prison, and by released I mean knocking me flat on my butt.

     I peeled a starfish from my face and spit out water. "Thanks for that, Connor."

     "Any time!" Connor chirped happily.

     "Not so prideful are we, then, Ava?" 

     "Give me a break, Chiron. I think I just swallowed Nemo." I put a hand to my throat and made a gagging sound.

     "Nobody's gonna want to be "Finding Nemo" again." Connor cracked up. He leaned in next to me, while I still sat in the sand. "Get it?" He elbowed me. "You know, 'cause you said Nemo, and the movie...and..."

     "I got it, Connor," I assured him, holding my hand up. Honestly, I was for the millionth time nearly drowned, and Connor was cracking Finding Nemo jokes.

     "Looks like we'll be working at this stage too. I suspect that it won't take as long."

     "Not again with the prophecies Chiron," I groaned.

     "You're one day off and you might as well have started the next great Olympic War!"

     We had no idea how badly Chiron jinxed us right then.

     "Well, can we go, then?" Connor asked.

     "Yeah, seriously, I need a shower." I complained.

     "Yes, yes you do."

     I stood up and slapped Connor on the arm. "You're not supposed to agree!"

     "Sorry," Connor mumbled, rubbing his arm.

     "Gods of Olympus help us," Chiron prayed, folding his hands and looking upward. He tilted his head back down, then shooed his hand. "Alright, get outta here." Connor and I thanked Chiron and headed out, trailing sand in our wake. Steam rose from me as I dried myself, making my hair look like a poodle's mane. Connor laughed at my useless attempt at trying to tame it.

     "What?"

     Connor shook his head. "Nothing, you're just...funny."

     "Funny as in humorous, or funny as in pathetic?"

     "Humorous, duh!" I snorted. I sensed Connor wanted to say more, so I didn't reply. I was right. "How do you dry off like that?"

     "Um, I don't really know, actually. I don't make it happen, the curse does."

     "Why do you call it a curse? I think it's pretty cool." I stopped dead in my tracks. Connor kept walking for a few paces before realizing I was no longer beside him, then turned around and walked back to my side, frowning. "What's wrong?"

     "It's not cool, Connor."

     "Oh, right. It's hot." Connor smirked, enjoying his own joke.

     "Don't," I snapped. Connor's smirk vanished, to be replaced by a confused and sad look. "Sorry," I sighed. "It's just...a difficult subject." I resumed my walk, on the way to battle training.

     "Oh, okay." After that, Connor and I said nothing as we headed to our next class. 

     The replica of the Roman Coliseum stood white and gleaming in front of us, the sun casting it in a heavenly glow. Shouts and metal clanging against each other rang from the inside. We walked through the large opening, immediately silencing the arena.

     "Oh, look, its water boy and lava girl, the camp's latest couple." Sneers erupted on everyone's face as Colton, the leader of the class and Herme's cabin finished his comment. A few giggles escaped from some of the girls. I felt panic rise in me as I realized that everyone was back to the teasing. I looked nervously at Connor. He caught my eye, winked, then stepped forward.

     "Water boy, wow you guys sure are original, but I like it," Connor turned to me. "What about you, Ava?"

     I smiled, catching on. "Lava girl, huh? I guess it will do..." I sighed, rolling my eyes. We laughed, the only sounds in the entire space, everyone else staring at us with mouths agape. Connor and I walked over to the holographic dummies, unsheathed our individual weapons-my dagger Kafto, which means hot, go figure, and Connor's sword Nero, which means water-and hacked away mercilessly at our fake adversaries. After a minute of surprise and fascination, campers began to go back to their own battles, watching us out of the corner of their eyes. But, we were watching them, too.

     I dare say some of them were smiling.

     

 

 

     

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