Children of the Gods: Arc 2 [Game/Closed]

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'As expected.' That was all she could think as she concentrated on the heap of cereal with a splattering of milk. All-Bran. Not like she needed the extra fibre but it was a change from Shreddies or cornflakes or toast or porridge. A drizzle of honey made it bearable, at least, along with a glass of orange juice - one of her secret loves. Coffee was too bitter, tea was too bland, but orange juice was just right. Just the right balance of sour and sweet. Even as Andrew hummed, she just concentrated on the meal, mentally blocking him out. He could choke for all she cared. Especially with obnoxiously humming like that.

Etna didn't seem to have gotten annoyed from his humming. She seemed to be ignoring him, actually. Andrew stopped humming, he had to admit that it had a bit of the same, calming effect that listening to classical music had on him, but if she didn't care, it wasn't much of a use to him. Besides, he had finished cutting the fruit up, an apple, an orange, a pear and a banana, all cut up. Andrew started picking up the pieces with his fork, eating two or more at the same time to make the tastes blend.

I don't mind breakfasts like this.

For a moment there, it had been as if he was alone in his apartment, in the mornings before going to the hospital. He knew he had to eat different kinds of food, but sometimes he preferred to just eat fruit, like now. He looked at Etna, she was eating boring cereal with milk.

"Do you want some?" he asked. It wasn't even a gesture for him to annoy her right now. Although she probably would get bothered, which was a bonus. "Fruit tastes much better when it's cut up like this. I do have the habit of humming when I prepare food, I'm sorry if it was a bit loud." He waited for her answer to that, before continuing:

"Say, do you like music?" He smiled innocently.

Probably not. Some people don't know to appreciate such a thing, and you seem like one of those.

"Come into the other room, I've got supplies and clothes and what not. Shower first and lets get moving. Chop chop."

Remus let out a bellow of a yawn as he rose from his slumber. It had so pleasant to earn some sleep after such a hectic and tiring day. He was reluctant to get up, wanting nothing more than to earn some more rest. But he still had obligations to fulfill. Saving the world had to take priority over sleeping in. Remus pulled himself out of bed, took a quick shower, put on his suit and then headed out to where the others were gathering.

His attention, and that of every other demigod who had woken up, was immediatly drawn towards Dan. The son of Odin had lost an eye, which he claimed to have done with his own hands. In a way, Remus was impressed. It took balls for someone to take out their own eye. But on the other hand, he recognized the stupidity of the act. What would possess Dan to do such a thing? How would losing an eye benefit their cause in any way? Remus shrugged in thought and looked about. His eyes were drawn to another point of interest - Aria. It seemed the yankee girl had decided to waltz about nude. While not shocked or disturbed by the sight, Remus decided it would probably very rude of him to stare and diverted his eyes away.

Looking about some more, Remus spotted some more of his friends. Able, Nicole and Andrew were all up. Although Andrew quickly left in pursuit of Etna. He focused his attention on Able and Nicole then, walking up to the both of them with a wave. "Good morning! Nice to see you both up." he said, then turned to Nicole. "Everything go well with your finals thing then?"

She shook her head and continued spooning in the cereal. That was one question answered. She swallowed another mouthful and answered the second quickly, "'Pens." She continued on with the breakfast, awaiting more questions. Probably the usual about what sort of music she liked and stuff like that. She would just repeat the previous answer then. Music was something you needed to be in the mood for. No point listening to Classical when you're angry anyway.

"'Pens."

Was it her accent? Or was she actually saying "pens"?

Did she mean "depends"? It's the only thing that makes sense.

"Depends on what? The mood?"

He had to admit that one had to be in a certain mood to appreciate some kinds of music, but music in general was something Andrew enjoyed. Still, she hadn't sounded annoyed, so that was something. "What kind of music do you like?" he then asked, and was answered by the same answer.

Yeah, it has to mean depends.

"Do you like Chopin?" It was a more direct question, but he figured she might answer with the same, short answer. He was honestly curious, if only because he hadn't taken her for the kind to listen to music at all. "And, if so, when?" Besides, she didn't like conversation, not with him at least, so it was still a part of their game.

"Everything go well with your finals thing then?"

"Hey Remus," she said cheerfully, she hadn't gotten nearly enough sleep last night but she still felt surprisingly well rested, the pool probably helped "They went fine, glad they're out of the way."

She ate a bit more of her cereal, it felt like a good morning, although she wasn't sure if she was looking forward to the upcoming flight. Andrew had walked off, probably to pursue Etna. Etna seemed to act fairly cold to him, but then she hadn't talked much at all. We all have our ways of handling getting dumped into this I suppose, I wonder if Andrew is just trying to be nice by talking to her, in the van yesterday she did seem like she didn't want the attention.

She turned back towards Remus "How are you doing? The whole Sicily thing seemed to shake you up a little," she said he seems to look a bit better at least.

Did she really have to continue this conversation? She was tempted to just leave. And so she did with a, "Dunno." Etna hadn't listened to much Chopin or any Classical for that matter. She went back to the girls' room to fetch her bag. Hopefully Andrew wouldn't follow her this time. Then an entertaining though entered her mind: would he follow her to the toilet? The man seemed more and more desperate every time they chatted. Etna would probably end up slapping him one day.

"How are you doing? The whole Sicily thing seemed to shake you up a little," Internally Remus sighed. "Must this have brought up first thing in the morning?" The more he though about, the more worried he got. He nodded his head. "I've got a very protective personality. So when I hear that a murderer is running loose near my neighborhood, so to speak, I naturally get anxious. I'm probably worrying more than I should, but still..."

Remus wanted to turn his focus away from the current subject. His eyes wandered about until he spotted the pool nearby. He thought for a moment. "Did Prometheus mention how soon he wanted to hit the road?" he asked Nicole. "Because right now I'm wondering if we'd have time for a swim."

Aria just sighed at Dan's explanation turned, and grabbed her self a shirt, pants socks and boots and walked out of the room with out another word. She was going to do this kinda reverse strip tease to mess with Dan and anyone else that felt like watching, now, she just didn't want to. Aria returned to the girls room and just sat down on the bed. "Figures, finally find a guy that likes me and he's a 'dads boy' she paused at that thought.

Aria's train of thought went something like this, 'Dan is only really paying attention to her cause she's Freya's daughter and her and Odin are a thing apparently, but then since Freya is a goddess of love, among many other things, he probably doesn't really like her at all and is only saying he likes cause of some love magic thing, so she couldn't be sure if it was really him liking her, or some magic she didn't have any control over or what, so she couldn't trust any body that said they liked her for the same reason'

Aria got dressed, and sat at the table with her phone after tucking her wallet in a pocket 'No new messages, figures, guess they think I just up and left.' she thought in regards to her 'friends' back home.

"Because right now I'm wondering if we'd have time for a swim."

She considered this and finished off her cereal "I dunno, it would be nice and I did grab my team suit, we could ask I suppose," she said. I did just eat, but its a small breakfast so I'd be fine, small pool too though so a race for me would be really easy, I could turn all the time.

She stood up, and clapped her hands together somewhat excitedly "Actually I don't think everyone has even started eating, should have time for a quick race, I'll go get changed," she turned and darted off for her room, slipping into the one piece suit and walking back out. Ah, I didn't grab a cap, ah well just have to tie my hair back.

Dan was a bit disappointes in everyone's collective sigh st his stupidity. Looking back, it was a slim justification for wanting to become omniscient. Of COURSE he would't be able to handle a god on his own, knowledge or no. Especially if he were corrupted.

He silently cursed himself with Aria's leaving. He hoped she would understand, at least. He just wanted to save them all... he sighed as he made an attempt to grab a glasd of water, spilling it. He groped for a moment before just making a wild swing, and corrected it. He sighed, his spearmanship would suffer. He barely noticed his music disappear on its own as he made his way out to the pool, and sat next to Able. He felt tired, but put it to blood loss as he spoke.

"Did... did I screw up? I thought I could fight Dio by myself if I knew everything. I thought I could not risl your lives as I saved the day... Childish, I know." He held his breath as he waited for a response.

"Dunno."

Boring, that's the wrong answer.

Etna left, and Andrew decided to ignore her. It seemed that she wouldn't give him any fun reactions unless he tried harder. If he had the right approach, he could even make her cry.

Is that a bad thing? She does need to learn to act more decently, so I don't think it's too much. Besides, she started it.

He then finished his breakfast, and went back to his bed, lying on it so he faced the ceiling. His side ached as he did, it had started to hurt badly again. Andrew put a hand on it, but despite noticing a faint flow of power, nothing seemed to get fixed.

I guess it's more morphine for me.

He had to get something else than morphine soon, he knew the risks by using it. For now, he gave himself another dose, a small one, and kept waiting, either for something to happen, or for it to start working.

It's a good thing I was carrying this around.

Or... was it? He didn't like where his thoughts were going. Back to the hospital. Back to the feeling of holding someones's life in his hand. He belonged in the hospital, right? That was his life, he would save people's lives. So... why was he thinking like this? Because his mind was idle? Was it something always there, lying underneath the surface? Andrew wasn't scared, or worried, or anything that even remotely resembled an emotion. However, he still disliked it.

It might come in handy. But I don't want it to be there, I'd rather be off with these thoughts. I'm a healer, not a... killer.

He started breathing calmly, and closed his eyes. Andrew had to divert his thoughts. For a while, he lay there, the tones from the piece he had been humming still clear in his mind, playing through as he remembered the sound of the different keys. If he concentrated hard enough, he could even hear a slight hesitation sometimes, as if his mind was replaying the song on the piano on its own.

Ridiculous. I can't even play the piano.

However, it didn't stop there. Sometimes, he replayed songs played by entire orchestras in his mind. Other times, he created songs from the bottom in his own mind. He did that now, it started with a piano, a dark, melancholic sound. And then, he added the violins and the cellos, like a lingering chill under the surface. Then the flutes, and slowly, the rest of the instruments.

It fit his thoughts, yet had a reassuring sound to it, as the instruments went from C minor to major in a single breath, and the orchestra found a more cheerful tone. He found it a lot easier than before, for some reason. He supposed it might be the morphine, or the recent events. No matter what it was, he hoped it would stay like that.

I suppose this might be a gift from dad too.

Dad? Had he just... no, it had to be something else. He thought Apollo, right? Andrew's musical piece collapsed, but he changed the mess into something new, as he removed the thoughts of Apollo and anything else from his mind.

I should try learning an instrument.

"Actually I don't think everyone has even started eating, should have time for a quick race, I'll go get changed," Remus was a bit surprised by Nicole's sudden enthusiasm. "A race?" He remembered saying that he wouldn't minding have a competitive swim against her, but looking at the hotel pool it hardly seemed like the most appropriate racing arena. Maybe he was just used to larger bodies of water due to living by the coast, so it looked small by comparison.

Shrugging, Remus got up and headed to his own room for a quick change. He took off most of his fancy clothes but left his boxers on. Unlike Nicole he hadn't brought along swimming attire so he'd have to make due. He smiled as he spotted Nicole walking out in her one-piece suit. "You're looking fine." he said, before slipping into the pool.

Prometheus watched in approval as the team adorned their new clothes. Some started eating, some went swimming. It was good; they had relaxed into their job. All they had to do now was not kill each other. Checking his watch, he saw that they had two, maybe three hours before the bus left. After that, they would be on a non-stop path to Sicily. His grin faltered as he thought of Remus. Something had happened there, and he prayed that the god of War would show self-control.

Ignoring the others, he went downstairs to the small breakfast area. Out of his pocket he whisked a credit card, courtesy of Hecate. His eyes gleamed as he surveyed the array of food. He licked his lips. The attendant swiped his card and he was in. His own personal heaven. If only for a while.

He amassed a small banquet of food and sat himself down, alone on a large table. Other patrons cast side-long glances at the strange man with the impressive appetite. He didn't care. As he munched happily on a pineapple, he thought of Hecate, and where she was right now.

"You're looking fine."

"Thanks," she said smiling as she slipped into the pool, he was looking pretty good as well though he didn't seem to have a suit of course he doesn't, why would he? She sighed, partly from how good the water felt but also because it didn't seem fair to race him like this well he didn't say race before...

"We don't have to race, the pools a bit too small and you not having a proper suit would slow you down," she said, "Not much fun if I've got such a huge advantage," she said. Of course if he wants to I will, he'll lose though.

She kicked off the wall, lazily floating across the pool on her back, if nothing else a swim would be quite relaxing. The pool was even remarkably clean for an outdoor pool at a motel, aside from a few leaves and some dirt at the bottom it was quite nice.

Aria took a minute or two more to collect her self, and exited the room again, dressed this time, and with her jacket wrapped around her waist. As she exited she spotted Prometheus heading into the lobby, for food she assumed and followed.

"Hey" she said patting him on the shoulder once she caught up "how far is that shop you got all them clothes at, I need a few things still." she asked 'Plus, shopping trip, that'll make me feel better, right?' she thought.

"We don't have to race, the pools a bit too small and you not having a proper suit would slow you down. Not much fun if I've got such a huge advantage," While previously content with just having a casual swim, Remus felt every mildly mocked by Nicole's words. "Why does she think it would be so easy?" he thought. He didn't remember wearing a suit often when he swam by the coast, what difference could it make?

He did a lazy sidestroke and swam up next to Nicole. "Oh? Wouldn't the advantage be on the other side?" he said with a smirk as he teased her. "I'm far more physically fit than you. If anything, I'm in need of a handicap."

Steven just walked down and grabbed some food, having pocketed a random plane ticket.

Steven saw Prometheus stuffing his face.

"I would slow down," Steven said as he sat down, "You don't want to get to much attention."

"I'm far more physically fit than you. If anything, I'm in need of a handicap."

"Heh, well ok then if you're so keen on losing then lets go," she grinned, tying her hair back behind her head where it wouldn't get in the way. Unless he's practiced for a team I doubt he knows how to turn properly, which gives me a massive advantage, especially in a pool this small. She swam over to one wall, there weren't starting blocks so they might as well start by kicking off of the wall.

"Any time you're ready," she said, stretching her arms before getting into position "Just let me know how many laps you want to go for."

"Heh, well ok then if you're so keen on losing then lets go," Remus chuckled as he swam over to the wall as well, settling across from Nicole. He was aware that he was probably going to loose like a chump. While he was certainly, Nicole was trained. She actually knew how to competitively swim while he didn't. Strong arms wouldn't due much up against an athlete aiming for the Olympics.

"Any time you're ready. Just let me know how many laps you want to go for." Remus turned to Nicole with a grin as a thought crossed his mind. Maybe he had a chance at this after all. "Let's go with nice solid number." he said. "Hmm, how about...three hundred!" And before Nicole could reply, he kicked himself against the wall and began stroking across the pool.

"Hmm, how about...three hundred!"

Remus took off, giving himself a well needed head start. She kicked off and ducked under the water in one movement shooting off of the wall with a dolphin kick to push her faster. She needed to surface for maybe one or two strokes before she hit the other side flipping into a turn and kicking off again, catching a glimpse of Remus's swimming as she did so. Is he actually using his arms? Heh that might help against the waves but here its all about the core. Remus would also lose most of his speed at each wall if he didn't know how to turn well. Three hundred was a lot of laps, but she was more worried that she would lose count than run out of endurance. She kept her head down breathing on turns, Remus wasn't trained but he was still a demigod like her, so there was no reason to hold back. She felt like laughing as she entered the second turn, this is fun! Not many I go all out against!

Aria and Steven both confronted him at the breakfast table, interrupting his magnificent feast. He promptly swallowed the sweet treat he was eating and brushed the crumbs from his mouth.

"The shop is literally across the motel, but on the otherside of the block, behind the houses. You can't miss it. Be back in an hour, we'll pack up and go. And uh, stay safe. And what not."

Prometheus was perplexed by his somewhat paternal answer. Aria did seem the most out-of-sorts of the group, and he somewhat felt responsibility for all of them. He brushed the strange feeling aside and addressed Steven.

"All people will see is a very, hungry human. Join me! Eat! This is the last good food we'll have for a while!"

Prometheus opened his arms in a sweeping gesture, offering a seat to Steven as he resumed his feast. His hunger was rarely sated, so he enjoyed the opportunity to have a full meal. Yet his eyes had lost their zeal, now lost in thoughts of their next move.

He wondered what Dionysus had done in Sicily.

Aria nodded and left the pair of Titan's to eat, and just as Prometheus said, she couldn't miss it once she was looking for it.

Aria hurried over to the store, which was like a Wallmart back home, grabbed a shopping cart and started collecting what she was after, a back pack, another change of clothing, sun glasses since her's where in Texas still, a charger for her phone, just in case, a pair of fingerless gloves cause why not, and a hat like the one that was left in Gaia's cave. She took her time with her shopping, stopping in the sporting goods section just to have a look though there was nothing there she needed, she did find it odd there wasn't a gun rack, but different country, different gun laws, and she was way more dangerous with out a gun then she was with one anyway.

She also picked a water bottle at random cause it seemed like a good idea given the heat. After about 35 minutes she had every thing and made her way to check out, and after that, grabbed a couple hot dogs on the way mack to the hotel, having stuffed everything she bought into the back pack.

On arriving back at the hotel she made her way back to the girls room and organized her 'hual' putting the clothes she'd had on the last couple days in a plastic bag and stuff them in the bottom with the newer clothing on top of that, her phone its new charger and wallet in a side pocket and the water bottle off the side, full now.

Remus was surprised at how badly he was losing already. Despite getting a headstart, Nicole quickly outswam him and was several laps ahead in a minute. "Shit, she's fast." he observed. She was also better trained, as she managed to make her turns at the end of a lap far faster than he was able. Although she was skilled, Remus could have almost matched her speed if he decided to put all his strength into his movements. Yet the demigod avoided doing so, maintaining a solid pace rather than a speedy one. "No point in wasting all my energy just to try and keep nose and nose with her." Hopeful the sheer amount of laps would tire Nicole out. In the meantime, Remus retained his steady speed and observed Nicole's movements carefully as she made her turns.

Nicole quickly settled into a rhythm, kick off, dolphin kick, stroke stroke, turn, repeat, she started counting the tiles as they went past below her. This is going to be a looong race, good thing I can just glide for most of it, much easier than stroking. She didn't doubt she would be tired by the end of it, but she had already established her lead and was doing a solid job of maintaining and extending it. Given Remus's strength he could probably more than match her for endurance, but then proper form did a lot to make things easier, and she certainly had better form than him. I'll have to give him some pointers for next time, make for a closer race. She wondered if any of the others were watching, and what they thought. She doubted they would sit through the whole thing though.

Aria, having finished packing headed back down to the lobby where Prometheus and Steven where eating and loaded up a plate of her own, then took a seat at an unoccupied table to eat by her self, since she knew those hot dogs weren't gonna hold her over from very long since she hadn't really 'eaten' in two days.

"Did... did I screw up? I thought I could fight Dio by myself if I knew everything. I thought I could not risk your lives as I saved the day... Childish, I know."

Able shrugged an 'I don't know.' He was still pretty new at all this, dan at least acted like he'd been doing the whole questing hero thing since he could remember. He could remember the story habout Odin giving up his eye and nailing himself to a tree in exchange for knowledge and charms but it wasn't an overnight thing. More of a seven night thing. He should probably be greatful that Dan hadn't tried impaling himself to a tree while he was at it.

but the physical part was never the point, not if I remember it right. Wasn't it more for magical knowledge that he lost the eye and to see the future, even after that he makes mistakes in some of the stories, has to learn fro- shit I should be telling him this! Able snpped himself back into the present, seeing Dan's forlorn expression. He motioned for him to wait a minute as Able rushed back to the room to get his note pad. Onece he got back he started scribbling furiously, leaveing some pauses in his writing to show Dan and pace things out a little, make it feel like someone was actually talking to him.

[I don't know if you screwed up exactly. But it kind of sounds like you tried to skip to the end. When Odin did it he got a bunch of coll magical ability and a flashforward into the future, he still made mistakes and did things he had to learn from. I think wisdom comes from the journey not just some magic ritual.

Do you think any of us are going to be the same after this? We're going after a GOD for gods sake. Dio is going to try and cut parts out of us for kicks without any of us helping him along.]

Bring it back around you're starting to sound harsh. Poor guy lost an eye he doesn't need you piling on.

[If losing your eye gave you some magical boost then maybe it was worth it. But I'd like to think none of us are alone in this, maybe next time you think you need to make a big sacrifice you come to one of us instead?]

Able shrugged, he was hardly an authority on these matters. [Sorry for rambling.]

Dan stopped holding his breath when Abe ran off. He gave him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't running from his eye. Surely it wasn't that disturbing. He noticed Aria leaving and coming back, and wished to speak with her, help her understand, maybe help her feel better. His stomach felt empty, and heavy at the sight of her. The race only made him feel slightly better. He was never into sports, but loved the feeling of victory, of conquering ones enemies... Perhaps there was something wrong with him.

He was glad when Abe came back, with his pen and paper. The writings made him feel a bit humbled, Abe was right he felt. At the mention of boosts, he spoke again,

"Well... I can't tell if it was a true upgrade, but I think I can summon things besides Sleipnir." He felt for his headphones, before finally noticing they were well and truly gone. He felt like an idiot before stcking his hand out, and summoning the first thing that came to mind.

A map of his home city.

"See? I haven't tested it too much, but I think I can summon all I put my mind to. Within reason..." Dan winced as he looked in the corner, David's signature in azure. His favorite color. A pang of nostalgia hit him hard begore turning back to Abe.

"Thank you for your council. You're probably more wise than I was. Though I gave up an eye... I... think I need to check up on Aria. It seemed she was upset. I'll talk to you later, if you want." Dan got up mid speech and paced for awhile, before concluding with a guilty smile on his face. He backed up and went back to the table, finding her quickly.

"Room for one more, my dear?" Dan grinned as he sat down opposite her.

"So, what's on your mind?"

"So, what's on your mind?"

"Besides the whole you put in your own head? My powers, and how they effect people" She said, annoyed in reference to Dan's trip to the well, though that tone turn more 'depressed' when she spoke of her powers.

"I had a terrifying thought earlier, what if you, or anybody else, only like me cause of some magic that I don't have any control over? Freya is a goddess of love right? How do I know your interested in me cause you actually do like me, and not some stupid spell that's only working now cause I'm around people that aren't predisposed to hating me on sight." she said sadly.

"I'm tired of being alone, I want to be part of a family again, but I don't want it if it's because of some god damned spell." Aria's tone grown increasingly frustrated as she spoke.

Vera watched sat, watching Remus and Nicole race through the water, slowly eating. Normally, she'd bee down there with them, racing herself. Even now, she could feel her blood burning with the desire to compete. But it was that very feeling that made her want to ignore it. The desire to compete; to win. It was a desire for victory - just like her father. Ever sense she'd found out about her parentage - if such a word could be used - she'd begun to wonder who she was. Did her powers make her good at sports & games, making her like them, or was it Verethragna's influence? Was there something in her that made her want to compete. Was her life free will or was she just a pawn for the gods?

Vera took another bite. "More like Bishop or Rook" she mumbled to herself, tired of the thoughts, but unable to shake them. Since the day her power awakened, she'd always wondered, but the fight against the satyr's gave her evidence. She killed them. She'd killed several of them in cold blood. Worse, she didn't care; just like a God of War wouldn't. Just like her father.

Vera wanted a drink, but guessed that - given Dionysus's domain - alcohol was a poor decision. Plus, she wasn't technically allowed considering her age. "What is the drinking age in Australia?" she wondered to herself for a moment before ending the line of thought. Unable and unwilling for such a drink, she shook her head free of the aberrant thoughts and lay back down.

"Gods suck." she muttered at no one in particular, watching the sky.

"Ditto." Dan took her hand in his, and spoke evenly as he stared into her eye.

"I've traveled alone for years. Ever since I saved a kid, and... my brother died. His death made me wander the country, and make a map for every place I went... I have seen impressive things, like waterfalls and great forests. But yet I've felt so alone. I don't care if it's a spell, I doubt it is but I'm honestly happy around you, around everyone else here. I love you, spell or no, just please stay around me, with me..." Dan dropped his head, but didn't let go of her hand. He didn't want to see her unhappy, he wanted her to be happy more than anything else.

"Sorry if I'm taking this too fast. I mean what I say, though. If your hidden power is to cause happiness in others you're the greatest one here." Dan grinned widely, blushing. He was pretty sure he said something wrong. And that he said 'I love you'. He felt like an idiot, infinitely wise and he could barely use his words. Really using his gifts well.

Prometheus saw Vera and immediately left his food unfinished. Walking from the breakfast hub to the poolside, he sat down next to her, exhaling loudly. He turned to the now human Vera, musing to her in his typical Greek fashion.

"How are you feeling? You haven't said much of late..."

Turning to her, he took a very serious tone.

"Killing doesn't make you a bad person, Vera. Don't focus on it."

He sat there and simply watched Remus and Nicole swim, Dan and Aria make goofy eyes, Andrew persist after Etna. They were a strange group. Destined to be somewhat stranger after their journey.

He didn't bother waiting for an answer. He went to the poolside, rolled up his jeans, and swished his feet through the brisk water.

Aria listened to Dan, her face turning red when he told her he loved her. "I don't feel 'great', confused, scared, uncertain, sure, but not great. How great can I be when my 'friends' haven't even bothered trying to message me the whole time I've been gone." She said, before shaking her head and looking at Dan.

"You don't care what you feel might not be real? That it could just be an illusion caused by a spell I can't stop?" He'd already answered this, but she wanted to hear it again, she needed to hear it again, for her own sake more then anything else.

Dan simply kept smiling as he got up, and walked over to her side of the table, and knrlt down, staring directly into her eyes. He hoped he didn't look silly. He just didn't want to miss. He leaned in finally, confident that he was not about to jam his nose in her eye. He kissed her, long and hard, wrapping his arms around her. He stayed like this for a moment or two, before releasing her.

"I don't care, even if it's fake, even if this is fleeting, even if neither of us have brushed our teeth in days." He gave a big stupid grin, laughing lightly. He got up, extending his hand as he looked around. So what if he was a jerk who just used a girls moment of weakness to kiss her, so what if he was an idiot who just sacrificed his eye, so what if he was a dork who fumbled over words.

'First kiss, havn't gotten slapped, don't care.'

Aria just kinda froze for a few moments when Dan kissed her, then relaxed and let him kiss her, then started to kiss him back. Then just as soon as it started the kiss was over and Dan was standing up holding his hand out. He'd said something but she didn't hear it, she focused on his hand, and what she figured him offering it to her meant.

The kiss had told her every thing she'd needed to hear, though she was still scared it wasn't rare, with a bit of hesitation she took his hand and stood up

"That, was my first kiss" Aria said face turning red at the admission of her own romantic failings.

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