Rae woke up in a single bed with the sheets tucked tightly around her. Her head felt slightly dizzy, but then it cleared. Her recent memories felt like a hazy dream. Sitting up slowly, Rae began to remember everything that had happened.

Placing a palm on her forehead, she reddened at the memory of her embarrassing words about Everett. Once the humiliation wore off, she started to wonder about her leg. It still felt like it was there under the covers, but she couldn’t be sure. Dmitri had said something about her losing the leg. The minor effects of the telchine poison were paralyzation, and the worst effects were death, but Rae was still alive, so did this mean she would never walk again?

With an unsteady and quivering hand, Rae began to pull back the covers. Her leg was wrapped in thick bandages, but it was still there. She tried to lift it, but either she was truly paralyzed or just too weak.

Her head snapped up at the sound of the door opening.

“Where am I?” she asked immediately of Dmitri as he entered the room.

“Basement,” he said, a bit stunned to see her up and talking.

“I thought the archives were in the basement?”

“Well, yes, but we also have a little infirmary. Didn’t I mention it?”

Rae shook her head.

“Oh, well, we do.”

“Yeah, I got that.”

Dmitri stood at the foot of her bed. “I got you back here as fast as I could. An Apollo son did what he could.”

“Will I ever walk again?” she asked quietly.

“What? Yes, of course you’ll walk. You could walk right now if you really wanted to.”

Rae was confused. “But I thought you said the effects were either death or paralyzation.

“Yes, minor paralyzation. It’s already worn off. Your worst wounds were the deep cuts the telchine left. You lost a lot of blood and were hallucinating for a while.”

Rae looked from Dmitri to her leg and back again before swinging her legs over the side of the bed. She felt stiff but not paralyzed. A smile began to grow on her face. “That was so much fun. When’s the next assignment?”

Dmitri stared dumbfounded at her for several moments before breathing, “You’re raving mad.”

Ignoring him, Rae stood and tried to walk. “What time is it?”

“Morning. You slept through the rest of yesterday and last night.”

Her head snapped up. “I missed dinner and breakfast?”

“You just nearly died and all you can think about is food?”

Rae waddled past him, her leg stiff and inhibited by the thick layer of gauze. “I get real tired of people always asking me that.”

Dmitri followed after her. “I’m concerned that people have asked that question before.”

“I’m a demigod, Dmitri. I’m a magnet for trouble just like you. You learn to sort out the priorities after a couple years of it.”

“Priorities?” he asked hesitantly.

“Friends and food,” she clarified. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make sure I
get proper sustenance and call my friends. I’ll be back for work afterwards, I promise.”

She left Dmitri gaping in the basement hallway as she headed out into the city, pulling her long coat around her tightly to cover the bandages around her leg. It was slow going, but she made it to a small diner around the corner and ordered herself some brunch. As she ate, Rae gave her sister a call on her phone. Avery was concerned but honestly not all that surprised. It was still good to catch up with her nonetheless. Avery had been visiting Austin at his house for the week, so she couldn’t stay on the phone for long. After hanging up, Rae knew she should head back to work soon, but she lingered. There was another person she should call, someone she had been trying not to think about for fear of breaking down in a puddle of tears. Her hand hovered over the phone. Did she really want to call him and make him worry about her? Making a snap decision, Rae shoved the phone in her pocket and headed back to work.

***

Three weeks passed and they rolled into July. Dmitri had become a reliable companion and somewhat overbearing. It reminded Rae of her relationship with Avery. The older one was always willing to do stupidly daring things, but when it came to the younger one, it was all concern and safety. They made a good team and compromised in violent situations. Dmitri always had first attempts at killing the monsters they encountered, but he often let Rae get in a few jabs of her own. She was going stir crazy in the office, so a little fighting from time to time kept her sane. Well, it kept her as close to sane as she could be. Occasionally, Dmitri even let her utilize a catapult. Something about pulling the lever to release destruction calmed and soothed her.

But on the third day of July, Dmitri gave Rae her first solo assignment. “This one is out of the city and I can’t take the time off to go and handle it myself. An important Greek artifact was stolen from a museum and hidden in a drakon lair. You can bring any help along that you think you need, which I highly suggest you do.” He put up a hand to stop her from protesting. “Not that I think you need help, but a group is usually safer. The magic number is three, in my opinion.”

Rae pursed her lips, resigned to let him finish.

He handed her a manila folder. “There are directions to the site, contacts for the museum curator and other people that could be of benefit to you, a bit of spending cash, and an already arranged contract for a car dealership. Make sure to check in when you can with me, and be safe.” His last comment was added as an afterthought. It made Rae smirk.

***

The morning of the fourth of July, Rae set out to pick up Koa. He didn’t live far and when she really thought about who she trusted to bring along for a job like this, he was one of the first who came to mind. His fighting abilities were a real asset, plus he was a rare person who could put up with her unique personality for prolonged periods of time.

She had pulled up to his house to find him practicing with his swords on the front lawn. “Get in,” she had ordered him. “We’re going monster hunting.” And surprisingly, he ran back in to grab his bag and say goodbye, waiting to ask questions until they were already on the road.

“So who else are we gonna pick up?” Koa asked her after she explained the situation to him.

“Well, I realized I’m kind of limited on people who would be willing.”

“Theo it is then,” Koa deduced.

Rae sighed. “I feel awful about taking him away when this is the little time he gets to spend with his mom.”

“It can’t hurt to ask. He can always say no. Not that anyone is really brave enough to say no to you, but he’s the only one that could survive it, so maybe he knows that.”

Rae shook her head, trying not to let herself worry about it. At the very least, she could drop in to say hi. When they pulled into Everett’s little town, nerves set in, leaving Rae with a jittery feeling. It was evening time, just as the sun was setting. Tailgates and picnics were going on all over town. Her stomach began to growl as she smelled all the barbecued food.

Pulling into Everett’s driveway, Rae and Koa walked around back to where a small get together was taking place. She left Koa at the refreshments table, instructing him to prepare her a plate for later, then kept going to where she spotted a soft lavender glowing young man sitting in a lawn chair. He was gazing up at the sky just as the first of the fireworks went off.

She sat down next to him, speaking in between the blasts in the sky. “Hey.”

He visibly jumped at her words.

→ ←

He was dreaming. He had to be dreaming. A goofy smile appeared on his face.

“Pinch me,” he said softly.

Rae tilted her head slightly. “Why?” she asked with a smirk.

“Because I’m living my dream,” he said before leaning over to plant a long kiss on her lips. “You’re here. You’re here, and you’re real, and… wait why are you here? Wait I have to introduce you to my mom, she’ll love you,” he rambled as his mind flew all over the place, his glow changing colors like strobe lights.

“Theo,” she said in an attempt to get his attention, but it didn’t work, as Everett was getting off the chair anyway, determined to have Rae and Makenna meet. “Mood Ring,” she said a little more stern than before.

Everett heard the tone of her voice and turned around slowly. “Yes?” he asked with a gulp.

“I kind of need to ask you something important,” she said licking her lips.

“Well ask away.”

“I wouldn’t be asking unless it was kinda important, but here it is. I just got my first solo job, but not entirely solo. I have to put a small team together but I’m kind of limited on useful people who actually would go with me. So I got Koa already, but you’re the only other I could think of. You can say no and I will understand, especially because I know your time with your mom is limited.”

Everett sighed, running a hand threw his hair glancing over at his mom. His glow faded slightly. As much as he wanted to go on this quest with Rae, he really missed his mom during the year and didn’t want to leave until he had too. Gulping hard he looked back to Rae.

“I think I’m gonna go talk to my mom,” he told her with his brows drawn together in thought. When Rae nodded in recognition, he turned and strolled away in the direction of where he last saw his mom.

→ ←

Rae stayed put in her chair, her legs bouncing. After a few moments, she rose and scoured the back yard for Koa. She found him where she had left him, only now he was standing and eating off of a paper plate.

“Where’s mine?” Rae asked. “I told you to make me one.”

He shrugged at her, his mouth full. “Someone looked at me weird when I went to grab a second plate. Besides, I don’t know what you like.”

“I like everything!” Rae said exasperatedly as she walked by, her hands in the air for dramatic effect. She grabbed a plate and started piling it high with comfort foods: burgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, chips, jello, potato salad, an enchilada to try, and some weird concoction that might have been a fancy dip. She walked back over to stand beside Koa and eat with her plastic utensil.

“You disgust me,” Koa said while watching her eat.

“What? I’m nervous.”

“Why? Isn’t Theo coming?”

Rae pushed the food around on the plate. “He said he has to talk to his mom first. I told him he didn’t have to come if he wanted to spend what time he could with her instead.”

“You mean to say you didn’t give him an order? He wasn’t commanded to come?” Koa’s eyes were wide. “Wow. You must really like him. I am also some what jealous that you didn’t extend the courtesy to me.”

“What are you talking about? You didn’t have to come along if you didn’t want to.”

“Your first words to me after I haven’t seen you in weeks were ‘Get in.’ How is that not an order?”

Rae shrugged. Koa did have a point. “Sorry.”

Her apology shocked Koa even more, his head craning back to look at her like she was crazy. “You must really like Theo.”

“Just shut up,” she said. “He’s coming over.”

→ ←

“Hi Koa,” Everett greeted with a smile on his face, a newfound confidence for the future now that he knew that Koa was to come along.

“Theo,” he replied aloud, but Everett heard something else in Koa’s head. “You better say yes, cause Rae’s getting a little nervous. And by a little I mean a lot.”

Everett turned to face Rae, and was met with a very expectant look. “I’m coming with you,” he told her, a smile instantly blooming on her face. Everett then felt two arms wrap around his waist as Rae hugged him.

“Yay,” was all Rae said into his shirt.

“So are we on like a crunch for time or what, because if you haven’t noticed, I kind of want you to meet my mom…”

“No time crunch, just us,” she said with a smile as she looked up at his face.

“You forgetting someone?” Koa said from behind them.

Rae turned to face him. “You were included in the us, but only a little bit. Like one-fifth of the ‘us’ was meant about you.”

“Thank you so very much,” he said with a shake of his head.

Everett let out a small chuckle, as he wrapped an arm around each of them. “Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go meet my mom,” he said dragging them off towards Makenna.

As they approached the small figure, she turned to face them. “Ah Everett I was just- who are these delightful looking people?” she asked when she noticed the other two.

“Mom,” Everett said glowing yellow, “this is Koa, and this is Rae,” he said removing his arms from around their shoulders.