Chapter Thirteen: Crossroads
Chapter Thirteen: Crossroads
The blood red sun was setting over the dark city of angels. Annabeth was weaving between the gloomy back streets and the bright open boulevards on her way home. Merrick had offered to give her a lift but she had still had some energy she wanted to burn off before she reached her house.
As she drew closer and closer to the Summers’ residence, Annabeth’s good mood started to wither and die like a balloon deflating after it had been opened again. She knew that the school would have called Hank and Joyce, she knew that they would start arguing again and she knew that once again, it would be her fault. The guilt she felt was starting to scrape against other feelings that had started to rise. Yes, it was her fault but…she couldn’t exactly change anything about the situation. Maybe she should try to make the best of a bad lot? Although how she should go about it, she had no idea. Her new train of thought was shelved away as she walked along the street that lay outside her home.
The house seemed deceptively calm as she approached, like it was waiting for her to enter before letting all of Hades break loose. There were two cars in the driveway and she could see that a light was on in the living room. The slayer approached the house and stopped outside before steeling herself and walking up to the front door. She took out her keys and used them to quietly unlock the door. There was no sound of voices in the house and she suppressed a shiver as she entered, shutting the door behind her.
“Buffy, could you please come into the kitchen?” asked Joyce Summers and Annabeth almost jumped out of her skin; did mothers have some sort of supernatural sense when it came to wayward daughters or was it just her? The young demigod walked along the hallway and entered the kitchen. Hank was sitting there, his beady eyes glaring in her direction and Joyce Summers looked disappointed. Annabeth had to suppress a wince at Joyce’s face. “Your school called us today. They told us that you’d gotten into a fight before running off of school grounds. We were very worried about you young lady. You should have called us and told us where you were.” Joyce’s voice was calm but that made her words all the worse. Hank fumed silently in the background.
“I know I should have called you Mom, but I didn’t want to go back to school today.” Annabeth knew that was a lame excuse but she could hardly tell them that she had been practicing slaying so she could go out and kill vampires; Merrick had been very insistent on the secrecy aspect and Annabeth was inclined to agree with him having lived with the Summers’.
“Tell me more about the fight, Buffy.” Joyce’s voice was still calm but there was an undertone of disappointment in every word that hurt the vulnerable side of Annabeth just that little bit more.
“I was walking in the main corridor of school. Pike bumped into me and I threw him into the wall accidentally. I was shocked so I ran.” Hank scoffed. Joyce threw him a warning look but he spoke anyway.
“How do you throw somebody into the wall accidentally?” Annabeth’s frayed emotions tore at the sight of his condemning face and hot anger burned like a wildfire through her mind.
“Look, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was instinct!” Joyce looked like she wanted to intervene but before she could Hank rose from his seat with his cold, beady eyes glaring at Annabeth.
“Why should I believe you?” His words had an edge of meanness to them that reminded the daughter of Athena of Ares and his warlike presence.
“Hank-” Joyce protested but Hank Summers lifted a hand and she stopped herself from talking. Annabeth clenched her fists, feeling as she had in the diner when she was a kid and Ares had talked to her, Percy and Grover; she wanted to hit something.
“Because it’s the truth.” Every syllable was laden with the anger she was itching to unleash on the man who thought he was her father. Hank sneered, ignoring her obvious rage.
“You haven’t exactly been telling us a lot of that recently Buffy. When were you going to tell us that you had quit the cheer-leading team? What have you been doing in the hour we think you’re at school attending practice?”
“I quit the cheer-leading team because it was the right thing to do for me.” She ignored the last question, she knew he cared more about her quitting than where she was or what she was doing.
“For you? For you?” Hank seemed to be verging on the apoplectic and Annabeth just couldn’t help herself.
“Yes, for me. I care about more than waving pom-poms in the air or sucking up to the daughter of your boss.”
“Go to your room.” Hank said, his teeth grinding together. The demigod looked to Joyce and saw her worried face; her anger lessened at the sight, she cared about her aunt, even if she was under Hank’s thumb most of the time. So she shoved down her rage, turned on her heel and left the kitchen.
Raised voices followed her up the stairs as she stalked towards her room but she didn’t bother to focus on what they were saying; she could guess the general gist. She marched past the sea of happy photos, resolutely not looking at them, before entering her room. The smell of incense hit her nostrils as soon as she opened the door and she all but snarled at the middle aged woman who was standing on the other side of the room.
“What do you want Hecate?” The woman looked unimpressed as she raised a dark eyebrow and waved a hand. The door shut behind Annabeth.
“I have come to talk to you. We have not had a chance to go over what I expect of you as my servant.” Her voice was quiet but unforgiving, like shadows cast by the moon.
“The Hunters have been gone for awhile now. Why didn’t you come earlier?” Annabeth snapped.
“A certain degree of politeness is expected in all of my servants.” Hecate’s said dryly before continuing. “As for why I did not return earlier, I was waiting for you to acclimatise yourself to your new situation.” The demigod couldn’t help but laugh.
“And you chose now of all times?” At Hecate’s raised brow, the daughter of Athena rolled her eyes and belatedly added, “Ma’am.” The goddess settled herself on the window seat and indicated with a wave of her hand for Annabeth to sit down. After she had perched on the edge of the bed, the goddess of Magic began to speak.
“You are weighed down by guilt. The anger coursing through your veins was a sign to me that you are beginning to move beyond crippling guilt. I wanted you as my servant because you are a fighter at heart; I was waiting for you to remember that.” Annabeth hated that she was right.
“Why did you conscript me into your service?” the demigod asked, unable to help her thirst for knowledge.
“Conscript is such a strong word.” The daughter of Athena rolled her eyes again.
“Fine, recruit then.” Hecate’s lips twitched and she inclined her head in acceptance.
“As I said before, you have a great destiny ahead of you. When you were just a demigod you were a valuable knight on the chess board but now you are a slayer as well, you have been upgraded to a queen.” Annabeth’s eyes narrowed.
“As flattering as that chess metaphor was, you didn’t answer my question ma’am.” A smirk stole across Hecate’s face as the title of respect crossed her lips.
“No, no I did not and I will not tell you for quite some time.” The demigod opened her mouth to demand she answer the question but she thought better of it and pressed her lips together again. There was nothing she could say to make the goddess tell her the truth. Sighing, the daughter of Athena deflated and asked in defeat,
“What do you expect of me as your servant?” There was a flash of approval in Hecate’s eyes.
“You will attend training with your Watcher and carry out your duties as the slayer. Every Saturday and Sunday you are to go to the closest crossroad and shed a drop of blood there. I will transport you to my home and throughout the day I will be teaching you certain skills that you need to learn to carry out the duties I will give you.” The daughter of Athena nodded in acceptance. The goddess rose and so did Annabeth; the demigod didn’t want her to have any form of advantage over her, even if it was something as trivial as height. The Goddess of Magic looked her up and down before nodding to herself. “Yes, you will be fine. Goodbye Miss Chase, I will see you this Saturday.” The goddess’ form began to glow and Annabeth closed her eyes, turning her head away as the goddess revealed her true form. The glow faded and she opened her eyes to an empty room.
“Brilliant.” She muttered before flopping back down on the bed; this was going to be fun, she could tell.
In the dark room, far from L.A, the minion entered, bowing as he walked in.
“Everything is ready for our departure Master.” There was a low, scraping chuckle like a door creaking to a close.
“Excellent, excellent. You have done well, my servant. You will be rewarded when the slayer is captured.” The minion bowed lower.
“Oh thank you, Lord Lothos.” The shadowy man rose from the chair and glided to the door. After all, there was a slayer waiting for him.