After Sayah’s heartfire was restored and she awakened, she was a bit restless and needed to spend time with Artemis. I stood in my office of the OA, watching the pair making circles over the ONP. Last time we spoke, Artemis told me Sayeh was almost ready for me to join them. As they flew by my window, a small smile toyed at the corners of my mouth, not reaching my eyes. Receding from view, I flopped down on my couch with a sigh. I leaned my head back and tossed my forearm over my aching eyes. The inside of my eyelids felt like they were lined with sandpaper, and the darkness felt good.
I dropped my arm and turned my head towards the sound of a small rap on the door. Shelly, my lead scientist, walked in, and I struggled wearily into a more upright position. “Ms. Moon, here are this week’s reports. Hope you get to rest soon.” Her brow furrowed as she handed me the forms. “You’re not your usual glowing self.” She paused. “Is everything okay?”
“I’ll be okay, Shel. My trip just did not go as planned and left me a little drained.” I took the folders from her and gave her a wan smile. She nodded as she retreated, pulling the door closed behind her. Resting the folders on my lap, I laid my head back on the couch, the weight of the last month heavy on me like a lead blanket. Typically, I would head to the club to recharge using the mortal’s energy, but lately…it just didn’t seem the same. I missed the quiet and solitude the sky brought me. Shifting on the couch, but unable to get comfortable, I stood and rounded to the back of my desk. I laid the folders down with a deep, bone-weary sigh, and opened my desk drawer. Pulling out my bottle of Glenfiddich and a glass, I poured myself a dram. The warm, rich oakiness burned slightly as it ran down my throat, and I poured myself another.
“What I need is a safe haven. A quiet space to call my own.” I thought to myself as I took another drink. Closing the bottle and replacing it in the drawer, I set the glass down and slipped out of the lab and down to the lounge in the OA. As I wandered in, I was pleased to see my friend Persephone curled up with her usual cup of tea in the oversized chair by the window.
“Selene! How are you?” She perked up as she caught sight of me. I hadn’t seen her since we returned from the quest, and I was relieved to see a friendly face, albeit it was not the complete quiet I was seeking.
I rushed over to greet her with a hug as she placed the cup down, so she didn’t spill it. “I am doing pretty good. How about yourself?” I queried, concerned as the last time I saw her, she was in a poor state.
“Wandering the halls tonight. Just getting things off my mind before sleep.” Her diminutive size was enveloped by my hug as I bent to embrace her.
“Anything you want to talk about?” Concern furrowed my brow as I knew the troubles she encountered on the island would be trying to anyone. She sat back down in the chair, folding her legs under her before picking up her tea.
I perched myself on the edge of the seat before her as she responded, “I come down here to not stare at my four walls.” She stated simply, “The windows give a view I can’t get from my apartments.”
I pulled my feet up into a lotus pose. “It is a great view.” Persephone nodded. “I’ve been thinking…now that I’m home…more settled…I may look for a flat or something nearby. Something to retreat to. What do you think?”
“I think you need your own space. A place you can be off guard. Though, I am certain a floor in the complex could be made available to you should you wish it,” Persephone said before taking a sip of her tea.
“I have a floor, I just chose to put my Marine Research lab there instead. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be around often enough.” I paused a moment and gazed out the window. “And I have personal quarters at my CTA locations, but nothing here.”
“Ohhhhh.” She chuckled. Her soft voice filling my ears, momentarily calmed my restlessness, and brought a grin to my lips. “I understand. Maybe you should, then. I am certain it would make Artemis happy.”
“Yes. I enjoy spending time with her,” I laughed softly for the first time in a while, “trust me. But she is busy, too, and I feel like I need my own space.”
My mind wandered to Helios as Persephone and I caught up. “Have…have you spoken to Helios lately? Sorry to change subject.”
“No need to apologize. I have my weekly appointment with him in a few days. He is doing well, Selene.”
Nodding, I continued, “That’s good. I haven’t really seen him since the day of his oath ceremony. With everything that happened with Sayeh and Artemis, then the quest. Nike and Eris showed him around the GC with me after the ceremony. And we spent some time in the Olympus National Park.”
Persephone nodded, listening intently. “I cannot ever thank you enough, Percy, for all you have done for him.” My face contorted as I thought about the trade I made for his release.
“He doesn’t hate you if that is what you are worried about.” She placed a gentle hand on my arm, reassuring me. “I just gave him someone to talk to, he did all the work.”
I gazed at her with every fiber in my being in debt to her work and patience. “Yes, I felt it in him. The difference was clear. But it was you and your program that helped get him parole. I do not know that your father would have even considered it if it was not for you.”
Persephone smiled softly. “I am glad he did. But it was just the right thing to do. There are not many more I would even consider. After all the analysis, I did. It’s…well, it’s few and far between.
My thoughts shifted to Artemis, and I speculated, “Hmm. Maybe it helps to have someone in your corner…someone or something worth fighting for.”
“Yes. Someone worth giving up everything for, but who is worth the risk.”
“I truly believe he is. And not just because he’s my brother, and I want to believe the best of him.”
Persephone replied as a smile played on her face, “So do I.”
“Maybe I will be able to visit him soon,” I contemplated, thinking of the conversation I wished to have with him.
“I think you should. He has an apartment above.”
I nodded. “The rehabilitation floor. I remember.”
“Yes. Sorry I get a little lost sometimes lately. I find myself forgetting things I should remember.”
“No, it’s okay,” I said, smiling gently at her. “You were trying to be helpful, as always.”
Persephone was always so gentle and accepting. Such a genuine and dear soul. She seemed to calm my restless spirit, and I adored her for it. I thought about how much our friendship had grown in the short time since I had returned to the God Complex, and how visiting her at her apartments was sometimes all the solace I needed to reset. Remembering the last time I was in her home, I asked, “How’s Snow and the foxes?”
Last time I had visited her on floor twelve, Persephone had added two small and mischievous bundles of fur to her domain. Two small fox kits, one black and one white. She told me that Pan found them up the mountain, abandoned and buried under a cairn. They had been in a pitiful state when the Lord of the Wild brought them down. Pan could not care for them due to his transient lifestyle. Ever a gentle heart, Persephone had taken the poor babies in and given them a safe home.
Her face lit up as Persephone talked about the small creatures, my heart lightened to see my friend so bright. “Snow is doing wonderful. The foxes have been a bit frolicky lately. I need to get them harnesses for walks and take them with Snow.”
“Oh, that sounds fun.” Being in Persephone’s presence always seemed to relax me and ease my tension. I found my aura returning, and with it, my glow.
“You should come with me.” Persephone laughed. “Though soon I have to either give them back to Pan or find them a new home. I won’t be able to take them to the Kingdom below with me.” Her face fell a little at the thought of parting with the kits.
My face lit up. I have been thinking of getting a pet myself to keep me company, as so many of my immortal friends and this could be perfect. I knew Artemis wouldn’t mind having them around as much as she loves animals, so I chimed in, “Oh? If Pan can’t keep them, I’d be happy to! Assuming I find a place by then.”
“Oh, I am certain you would love them! They are very good babies. I just,” she paused, a tinge of sadness in her voice, “well, they will pass away if I take them with me. Snow. Well. He is special.”
I understood why she couldn’t keep them with her. “Oh, I see. They sound fun. Let me know next time you take them out, and I will do my best to come.”
“Why don’t we go now then? Snow would love to see you, Selene.” Persephone’s blue eyes sparkled.
My curiosity piqued, I beamed. “I would love that, Percy. Have you decided on names for them?”
“Pan called them Night and Day.” A rosiness speckled Persephone’s face as she recanted with an infectiously wide grin, “I just call them Babies.”
“That’s what I thought.” I nodded, remembering the day I met the pups. “And they are babies, Percy.” I chuckled.
“They are, but they are growing so quickly.” Raising a brow, she gazed intently at me. “Speaking of Pan. Have you seen him recently?? Last time I saw him, he was still pretty beat up.”
“No, but I haven’t been around much. After the quest, I spend most of my time with Arty and Sayeh or at the lab.”
Standing, I followed Persephone out as we continued our conversation and made our way up to her apartment.
Concern creased her face as the lift doors closed behind us. “I hope he’s okay.” Returning to her ever-optimistic self, she asked excitedly, “Oh have you seen Amphitrite has come home as well?? She might be interested in your lab!”
I laughed. “I was just going to ask if you had seen her yet!! I actually ran into her the other day and showed her my lab.”
“I passed her the other day. Oh, Sel, that’s great! What did she think?” Her countenance bubbled over as her excitement grew.
I lit up with pride. “She loved it! Even gave me her blessing and said we could work together more often. I want to book a getaway for Arty and me in her resort when she opens.”
“Oh, yes, I want to go, too! With Nyx and Hekate. We talked about it with her the other day!”
“Sounds fun.” My eyes glinted as I thought of a getaway with Artemis that didn’t include sand and pirates.
We continued to chatter as we made our way to Persephone’s apartment to see the animals, happy to be home again.