Soft footsteps came up the side of the fortress. Luke stood with his back to the door, lost in thought. His sword, Backbiter, rested next to him.
He was snapped out of his sudden reverie by a soft sound behind him. He turned, reaching for the sword, then stopped as he saw the figure in the doorway.
It was dark, and he could barely make her out, but her ice blue eyes seemed to glow in the darkness.
"Leah?" he demanded. "What are you doing here?" his voice took on a harsh tone instantly. What did she want this time?
"I'm sorry, sir," she said quietly. "But I wanted to speak to you-"
"I don't have time for this," he growled. "I don't need to speak to you."
Leah bit her lip. She could feel the hostility washing off of him, but she held firm. "Sir, I can tell you're preoccupied. But everything is going so well. We will take Manhattan, and the gods will be destroyed. Is that not what you want?"
Luke ignored her question. He studied her, head tilted slightly in curiosity. "Why did you actually come up here tonight, Leah? Was it to report something?"
"No sir. It was to discuss a particular matter."
Luke raised his eyebrows. She could pretend to be professional, but he could see the worry in her expression. "Leah. If it's a formal business matter, then you can call me sir. Otherwise... Just tonight, just call me Luke." He saw her expression change to one of surprise, and her eyebrow lifted slightly, but he ignored it. He was exhausted. Kronos was awakening, and growing stronger. And everyone around him treated him far too respectfully. Just this once, he missed having normal demigod friends.
Leah felt a surge of hope. He was in a good mood. She was frightened of him, but in a way she understood him. They both had lost their families to the gods, though in different ways.
"Luke... it's Kronos, isn't it," she whispered softly. "He's getting stronger, isn't he. And he wants you to give yourself to him. He wants to control you, and use your anger to take the world for himself."
Luke raised his eyebrows. "I don't believe that was common knowledge, Leah."
A slight smile flickered across her face. "Luke. I would be blind if I couldn't tell what's going on. You know that he'll kill you- don't you?"
Luke sighed. Her words hit close to home, targeting his fear and concerns. He had wondered about the same things. But he did not acknowledge that she was right. Instead, he scowled at her, eyes narrowing slightly.
"Are you loyal to me or not, Leah?"
Leah took a step back, realizing that she may have gone too far. But she had to speak. Luke was walking himself towards ruin. And if he didn't stop, he could destroy everything- including himself. "I am loyal to you, Luke. To you, not to Kronos. If you become him, who should I be loyal to? I will not follow a titan."
"You signed on knowing that you were serving Kronos."
"No," she corrected smoothly, "I signed on knowing that I would be following you. There is a difference. I follow you because you've earned my respect, and because the gods destroyed our families. I follow you because you are a brilliant, strong leader. But I will not follow Kronos. That Titan will destroy us as soon as he has finished off the gods. You will not."
Luke raised his eyebrows, and studied her. "When you joined, I knew you as a cruel, heartless demigod who would do anything for power. Kronos appreciated your ambition. And yet now I see a different girl. Tell me, which one is the real Leah?"
She smiled. "We're both real. You're simply seeing the part of me that cares. About winning. About revenge. About you. I will follow you, Luke. Only you. If Kronos becomes our leader, I will not obey him."
Luke lowered his voice softly. "Leah, he would kill you. There is no reversing what's happening. I don't have a choice anymore. I'm sorry."
"So am I," she murmured. "I'm sorry that this had to happen."
Luke looked out over Mount Tam, and watched the small group of demigods slip away down the mountain. For a moment, one of them looked back up, and he saw a flash of ice blue eyes. A moment later, frost crystalized around Luke's feet, and the entry to Mount Tam. A final goodbye from Leah.
He sighed, and turned away. He had chosen his course, and she had chosen hers. It was too late for both of them.