It had been ten days since I dropped Menoetius at Uncle Hades’ feet, and I’ve been drunk for most of them. Drinking was the only thing that seemed to keep the demons at bay. Forget sleeping. I either had to drink so much that I passed out, or I wouldn’t sleep at all. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw flashes of all the things I’d lost.
Not to mention the damn godnapping. Even as I wrote this, my chest was so tight that I could barely breathe. U has tried to help, but this is something I have to deal with. I don’t want to bring her into my darkness.
I finished off the contents in my glass and wobbled a bit as I stood. I walked to our liquor cabinet and searched through the bottles. Damn it. They were all empty. I really needed to go visit my brother Dion. He makes these great flasks that auto-fill when empty.
I dropped the bottle from my hand and swore.
Dugo almost jumped out of his skin as the bottle crashed to the floor. U rushed into the room.
“Is everything ok? What happened?”
I steadied myself as I bent down to pick up the broken pieces. I pulled back my finger as a piece of glass bit me. I could hear U sigh as she pushed past me to clean.
“I’ve got this, go sit back down.”
There’s a little irritation in her words, but I let it slide. I popped down to the GC break room and searched the cabinet for alcohol. I heard Ate, Eros, and Clio arguing over a key or something. They stopped arguing as I struggled, grabbing at the liquor. I snagged three random bottles. I looked up at the three of them, and gave a wink as I popped back to the apartment.
I set a bottle down as my phone vibrated in my pocket. I looked at the ID, and it read Sticks.
“Amigo, what is shakin ?” I said with a smile.
“Where the hell are you?” He sounded pissed.
“In my apartment, why?”
He sighed loudly. “We have a gig in less than an hour.”
My eyes widened. I totally forgot about it.
“I’ll be there in five.” I hung up the phone and looked at U.
She had her hip cocked, and her arms crossed over her chest. “You are not in the right frame of mind to go to a gig.” She was irritated.
I really didn’t want to get into another argument. We had enough over the last few days. I knew she just wanted me to feel better, but I wasn’t ready to go there.
“I am fine,” I said with a slur.
Her stance lightened, and she placed a hand on my chest. “Sunbun, you’re not fine. I think you should stay home tonight.”
Miss a gig? Was she crazy? I couldn’t do that.
“I’m fine, Kardia. This gig is just what the doctor ordered.”
Her eyes filled with tears. “You need to process things. You’ve been through so much since the Titans were released. Please, stay home.”
She was right. A lot had happened, but I was fucking Apollo, the gods damn god of the sun. I had this shit under control.
“Pft, I have been through a lot, but no need to worry, I’ve got this shit on lockdown.”
I didn’t believe a single word I said. I was not ready to open up, so I did the next best thing, I suppressed that shit.
“You should probably stock up the liquor cabinet while I’m gone.” The words escaped before I even knew I was saying it.
U put her hands on her hips and said, “Excuse me?!”
Yep, I just pissed her off, but it was too late. “You heard me.” I grabbed the third bottle and continued, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fans that need this awesomeness.”
She started to yell something as I popped away. Man, I could be such an asshole. I shrugged it off and looked around.
I stood in front of a big stadium. Screams came from my left. I looked over and saw a huge line that wrapped around the corner. I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back. See, I wasn’t that drunk; I still remembered where the gig was.
A guard walked up to me and grabbed my wrist. “You can’t take those inside.”
He stood a good eight inches taller than me and had broad shoulders. I shifted the bottles in one hand, grabbed his thumb, and flipped him, ass over teakettle. He let out a harumph as the air left his lungs.
One of the bottles slipped from my grip and crashed to the ground.
“Damn it!” I shouted as the glass shattered everywhere. I looked at the guard and said, “You owe me a bottle.” I grabbed his shirt, ready to pick him up off the ground when I heard someone behind me.
“Mr. Apollo, would you please follow me? Your bandmates are waiting for you.”
I pointed at the guard and whispered. “You’re lucky.”
I looked up and saw a skinny dude in a blue suit standing there. His hair was perfectly gelled, and he had light eyes. He awkwardly smiled, and I got a flash of his too-white teeth; I mean they practically glowed.
He stumbled forward as I slapped his shoulder. “Let’s go, pretty boy.”
We got to the green room and I burst into the room yelling, “Waaaassssssuuuupppp!”
The band did not look happy with me.
“What the hell, Apollo? We are supposed to go on in like ten minutes,” my guitarist, Jupiter, yelled.
Well, wasn’t she being a drama llama? She was the only one that could get away with mouthing off like that.
The band yelled as I emptied four red-plastic cups all over the floor. Geez, they were being big-ass babies tonight. I broke open a bottle of honey-flavored Jack Daniels and filled my cup. I pounded down the contents of the cup and shook my head. I felt my face make this brain-freeze-like thing, but I shook it off. Damn, that shit is strong. I wobbled a bit as I poured shots for the band and gave myself a double.
I handed out the shots and readied for a toast. I hadn’t seen the band in a few months, so I was excited to be back together. That excitement dissipated when I saw their scowls. I shrugged and drank down my double. I drank Jupiter’s next, then Mickey’s, and finally Bennie’s. I wasn’t going to let this go to waste.
I shrugged and said, “Party poopers.”
I turned and smiled as I saw my outfit for tonight. Red leather pants, a red leather jacket, a shiny gold crown and a pair of red high tops with little spikes all over them. Jupiter was so good at picking my outfits. I quickly stripped down to my underwear and tried to put on the pants. I fell to the floor and laughed.
“Apollo, are you ok?”
I scoffed as I laid back, pulling the pants on. The room started to spin as I stood up and pointed towards the band. I slipped the shoes on and said, “I’m fucking Apollo. Of course I’m fine.”
I was getting sick and tired of people asking if I was okay. “Don’t you know, nothing can topple me,” I said to no one in particular.
I grabbed the jacket and slipped it on. I placed the crown on my head and said, “Let’s fucking do this.” I snagged the half bottle of Jack and headed out the door.
I bypassed the part of the act where I get thrown up onto the stage. I was a little too drunk for that. I took a big sip of the Jack, almost draining it. If these feelings wanted to play, I would drown the fuckers.
I could tell the crowd was getting anxious. I stumbled a bit as I reached out for the microphone. Jupiter moved beside me and whispered, “We good?”
I gave her a nod and watched as her fingers began to dance on the guitar. I cringed when Sticks started on the bass drum. It was so loud that I felt it through my entire body. The bass guitar came in next.
I almost threw up after I started nodding my head to their sweet beat. A set of red lights clicked on and smoke rose from the ground. From the crowd’s perspective, all you could see was our silhouettes in the light.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I started. The crowd went crazy. The roar of the crowd was deafening. I could barely hear. “My name is Apollo and these are the Hyacinths.”
My mind drifted at the mention of Hyacinth. A memory of me holding him as he died. The pain of losing him gripped at my chest like it just happened.
A second memory came forward. This one was of me losing my son, Phaethon. I smiled as he rode my chariot high, but that happiness only lasted a moment. He lost control and crashed to the ground. Again, I held a loved one in my arms as they died.
Visions fought to jump forward in my mind…or flashes of them anyway. My contests, my loves, my mortality, all the negatives in my life. The darkness tried to crush my heart. My breathing grew ragged, and I felt a migraine creeping into the back of my head. I tried to breathe, but it was like someone held their hand over my mouth. The memories all went blurry, and then I was hit with it.
I fell to a knee when the memory of my godnapping thrust itself to the front of my thoughts. Crius wanted revenge for me killing his son, Python. He tortured me, even ate part of me. Those pains wrecked my body. I felt like I was going through it all again.
I reached for the bottle of Jack, but I fell into the guards and then to the ground. The music stopped and the crowd gasped. I slowly stood and looked into the crowd. Faces of all my losses, all my pain, all looked back at me. I had to break free, to run from these memories, but how do you run from your own mind?
“Urania!” I yelled into the cosmos, hoping for her to hear me.
I ran off. I didn’t know where, but anywhere was better than in front of the crowd. I stopped a few hundred yards away, tall trees blocking my view of the stadium.
I put my hands on my knees and bent over, thinking I was going to hurl. I felt like I just finished running a marathon. I took a few calming breaths. I needed to get home. I was about to pop away when I heard my name.
I looked over to find where the voice was coming from, and saw a figure walk out of the darkness. Even at a distance, I could tell he stood almost a foot taller than me. As he came closer, I saw he had on a grey peacoat and ripped jeans. I swore. My luck grew worse. I was going to have a word with Tyche.
“What the fuck do you want, Titans?” I tried to bite back my words. I didn’t want him to know I was drunk, or the fact that my heart was trying to run away. He stopped about twenty yards away from me.
“My father sends his regards.”
Great, another set of star twins.
“Two on one isn’t really a very fair fight,” I yelled.
The Titan scoffed and cockily said, “I don’t care if there’s a hundred of you. I will destroy you.”
A hundred of me? I focused my eyes and the second Titan disappeared. Oops, beer goggles.
He pulled off his jacket and flexed muscles that I didn’t realize he had. That jacket definitely made him look smaller. He growled as he charged me.
I took a deep breath and did the same. We crashed into each other. I grabbed ahold of his shoulder, fingers resting on the back of his neck. I spun inward and threw my elbow into his face. I followed up with a headlock and wrapped him into a guillotine choke…
Well, that’s what I wanted to do. This is what really happened…
I ran at him, and once we got about ten feet from each other, I tripped on a stone, or a root, or maybe just drunk fell. I don’t really know how it happened. My face hit the ground and I plowed a path to Astraios’ feet.
He let out a huge laugh, and by huge I mean it shook the trees it was so huge. He pulled back a foot and soccer-kicked my face. I felt a crack in my jaw as he followed through. I spit golden blood and a few teeth. I rolled out of the way as he tried to curb-stomp me. I blocked a second soccer kick, but missed avoiding the knee he threw.
My nose broke and blood seeped out like a tiny waterfall. He grabbed my hair and pulled me to my knees. He reached behind his back and jabbed a five-inch dark knife into my stomach. I looked down and saw that it was a star blade. My stomach convulsed as he drove it deep.
He pulled a second blade and started to bring it forward. Except this time, it stopped a fraction of an inch from hitting me. He tried it again, but there was some sort of whitish blue force field or something.
“What the hell is this?” he said, exasperated.
“I don’t think so, Astraios.”
I knew that voice. Urania.
Astraios growled, threw another knee and dropped me to the ground. My vision went dark…