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Luke: Walking In Snow and Watching Bad Shows

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Luke — Eyes

Luke (14) Annabeth (7) Travis (7) Connor (6)

December

Luke knows better than anyone, knows more than anymore, the hardships and the unfairness of the streets. Society is against them, nature is out to kill them, and nobody can be trusted.

Luke understands that life so well. After all, that part of his life is still fresh in his mind. Just a few months ago, he was them. He was on the streets, scavenging however he can to stay alive.

That when he saw the lone boy performing mediocre magic tricks on New York City's busy streets, drawing a small crowd that cooed at his attempts, he stopped to stare for a moment. Another small kid weaves among the enthralled crowds, possibly to get a better view up close. Then the kid stopped behind the adults.

Luke's eyes narrow.

A hand pulls at his sleeve and he jumps. Luke looks down to see sharp, gray eyes staring up at him, the recipient with a small pout.

"Come on, Luke. We're going to be late," Annabeth says, drawing her scarf closer around her neck. She's shivering and Luke thoughtlessly pulls his beanie off and tuck it on Annabeth's head.

He nods and takes her hand, leading them towards the Empire State Building. But for whatever reason, he decides to look back one more time. The magician did a trick and the crowd awed in response. A total bum considering how awful the kid really is. Luke yawns and lets his eyes drift away but something caught his eye. The small kid who moved behind the adults stands on his tippy toes, obviously trying to see the show. But his hands weren't at his side. Instead, they're dipped into bags and in one swift motion, the kid pulled out wallets, receipts, accessories while zipping the bag shut in one go.

Luke stops.

"Actually, Annabeth, can you go on? I have something to do first."

"Chiron won't be happy," warned Annabeth.

"Cover for me, please?" Luke asked with a half smile, already backing towards the show, "Tell him I may find one."

He didn't wait for an answer and heads for the small crowd around the magic show.

The kid magician smiles a big, toothy smile at Luke and waves. Luke waves back but he stands towards the back, peering over shoulders. Up close, he could see how bad the magic tricks truly are. They were obviously fake and the tricks extremely noticeable.

But Luke also notice how young the kid is, probably no older than Annabeth.

It tugs at his heart a bit when he sees the kid flourishes a deck of cards with a wide, innocent smile. And in a squeaky, adorable voice proclaims his next trick.

But his purpose here wasn't for the magician. No, it was for the pickpocketer. As inconspicuously as he could, Luke let his eyes wander the crowd, searching for the other kid. He jolts when he did find the kid. Except it's the opposite.

The kid found him first.

Glaring blue eyes stare back at him from the side and Luke forces himself to move his gaze away slowly, to make it seem like he was just surveying the area, before letting it come back to the awful magic trick going on. From the second glance their eyes met, Luke can tell the magician and the kid was related somehow. They share the same hair, the same eye color.

The prickly sensation of being watched did not fade over time and the urge to look back was becoming overwhelming. Eventually, Luke gave in, quickly, just a peek, and found the kid gone.

The feeling of being watched was still there though.

Luke stuffs his hands into his pocket, fisting his wallet to make sure it's still there.

It is.

The magician screams and Luke snap his eyes back front. The kid has a cell phone out, punching the keys vigorously. His face twists into despair and he practically wails for all of New York to hear, "Oh my god, I can't believe I forget to text my mom! I'm supposed to be home right now! Ahh, I need to go!"

The kid begins stuffing all his magic tricks into a plastic bag ignoring the crowds' concerns.

"Do you want a ride home? It's too cold out to be walking."

"Do you know where your mom is? Maybe she should come to you."

"Are you cold? You're shivering!"

The words fall on deaf ears as the boy takes off down a street, weaving through the opposing crowd of walkers with ease. Luke sighs and his eyes wander around, searching for the little pickpocketer. Of course, he wasn't around and Luke was about to call it quits when he notices the emptiness in his pockets.

The wallet was gone, taken right from his hands literally.

Luke did one more useless look around for the thief but, of course, they weren't here.

He stands among the concerned crowd who talked among themselves, still clueless to their missing belongings. He stares at where the kid fled for a moment. Then he takes out a drachma and heads to an alleyway, tossing it onto a puddle of melted ice. As soon as the face appears on the gray, dirtied slush, Luke says, "Hey, Chiron. I found two."


 

Luke shifts from foot to foot, pulling his jacket closer to him. Even with a parka, it still wasn't enough to shut out the cold. He waited for several minutes, checking his watch before stuffing his gloved hands back into his pockets.

Several more minutes pass with him waiting and Luke begins to have doubts. He mutters, "Did I put 35th street? Oh crap...what if put 34th?"

Dyslexia is a total pain in the butt sometimes and Luke was ready to take off when a tiny voice chirp above him.

"Wait! Er, um, Luke?"

Luke pauses, take several steps back, and of course, why didn't he think to check his surroundings first?

Perched on the fire escape are the two boys, the magician and the pickpocketer. With them side by side, staring down at him with their identical, blue eyes and blank, neutral faces it’s easy to see how alike they are. Too much alike. Luke can’t tell who was the one to pickpocketed him.

"Hi," Luke said, waving. "You guys came."

The one on the right, sitting cross-legged on the railing, dug out a piece of paper from his pocket. The piece of paper Luke had hurriedly stuffed into his wallet prior to being stolen.

"Yeah, we did," the one with the paper said.

"'Come to 35th street. My name is Luke. I want to have a chat,'" the other kid states, standing with his hands in his pockets, "We're here. So what do you want?"

Gods, even their voices are the same.

They stare down at him with distrusting eyes and Luke hates how he can relate to that. He takes another step back so he doesn't have to crank his head so high and attempts to smile. A harmless one, he hopes.

"Nothing much. I just want to talk. Are you twins?"

The one standing frowns. His eyes spark in a way that was familiar. The way they shine, it reminds him of Annabeth. They flicker around, darting left and right before settling on Luke again. "You went through all this trouble to say hi? I don't believe you. Are you working for the police?" His eyes narrow and Luke is quick to shake his head, holding up his empty hands.

"Nope." He unbuttons his jacket and lifts his collar, "See? I not wired or anything."

The glare didn’t eased up as Luke buttons his parka back up. “What’s your full name?” He asks.

“Luke Castellan.”

“What do you want with us?”

“Nothing much. Just want to ask a few questions. Are you guys cold? You’re shivering.” Luke says, eyeing the measly thin jacket they both wear. That’s not enough to keep them warm and yeah, they are shivering. But their hard face gives nothing away.

It hurts to think about it. Just a few short months ago, he was them.

The one sitting shakes his head and turn to his brother and speaks in a foreign tongue. It’s … Luke thinks it’s Japanese, but he isn't sure. But he knows they’re not happy. They’re really not happy. The standing one scowl and turns around, but the sitting one grabs his wrist, shaking his head and said in Spanish that Luke definitely knows, “ lets try one more time.”

The sitting one turns back to him and with a cheeky smile asks, “Hey, Luke, we’re very busy kids. We got to get enough money to eat at McDonalds and you’re taking up our time. Please tell us what you want with us.”

“I can buy you a meal at McDonalds if you guys want. We should get out of the cold.”

Shit. A second after the words come out, he realizes how creepy that sounds.

Mr. Frowny thought so too, because he stiffens and pulls his brother back as if Luke can touch them from the 10 feet height difference between them. “We’re not going anywhere with you. Come on, Travis. We’re leaving.”

The one sitting, now standing, the one still smiling, travis, the one not pulling away but staying his ground, the one still facing him pulls out a phone. A small flip phone but still a phone. And okay maybe they’re not demigods if they have a phone on them and are still alive.

“He flinched, Travis.”

Travis nods, an unbelievably happy smile lighting up his face. “I told you, Connor! I told you, but you didn’t believe me!”

“Okay, okay, you’re right for once,” ‘Connor’ says, eyes rolling.

Travis turns back to him still with that ludicrous smile. “You’re like us then, right? The monsters come when you use a phone.”

So they are demigods. Crazy demigods who carry a phone on them.

Luke tries to keep the unease out of his voice, but he can't. Not when he stupidly left his celestial weapon back at Mount Olympus and all he has on him is this thick parka and wad of dollar bills. “Look, you don't even have to be making a call. Just holding it will—“

“We know. That's why we took the batteries out.” Connor holds up a grey rectangular. “The phone is off.”

He tucks it into his pocket and step forward on their railing. “But we’ll turn it back on if you keep stalling and we can all play a game of tag. So tell us what you really want with us.”

A wave of emotions wash over Luke that moment.

Disbelief.

Doubt.

Pride.

But anger most of all.

They know how to take care of themselves. They know how to fend for themselves. They know to be cautious . They know how to survive.

When they shouldn’t have too. Not at this age.

Their parents failed them.

Just like his had for him and Annabeth’s for hers and Thalia’s.

All of the gods… all of them… full of nothing but disappointments.

Luke really look at them.

At one boy with sharp, piercing eyes and the other with bright, clear ones.

And Gods, they remind Luke of them so much.

Annabeth with her perceptiveness. Thalia with her upfrontness.

Luke bites his cheeks. Drawing in a deep breath and exhaling, he blinks back the tear-pricks sensation and smiles.

"Have you two heard of Camp Half Blood? It's a special place for kids like you and me.”