(Quick Note: These are not the actual myths. These are rewritten by moi, and probably not that mythologically accurate. The vibe song for this is Location (AJR Cover) or Three Thirty Things By AJR (which is the song Miles was vibing to in the car scene.) Carry on)
I put my head in my hands. “Why am I trying to help a toddler?”
“Because you’re nice.” Miles said. “Also because I need him to be in the car, conscious, to be able to drive.”
“You’re an obnoxious rule follower.”
“I just don’t want to be put in jail. Ma would kill me.”
We sat on the beach across from Miles’ house. The sunset was bright and orange across the clear bay, revealing the Golden Gate Bridge. Nothing romantic, of course. Miles and I have been good friends since kindergarten, and we both happened to be demigods. It was kind of funny.
“So, I have a feeling you aren’t telling me everything about Loki.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
He raised an eyebrow. “He’s bad at being human. Hiding emotions.” He raised his eyebrow again. “You noticed. I noticed. Ma noticed.”
I sighed. “He has a total crush on you.”
“Do you feel the same way?”
He sighed. “Kinda.”
“Okay, and would you be open to telling him that?”
“I don’t want to distract any of us from the quest at hand. That means me, that means you, that means him. Love definitely counts as a distraction.”
“It's always gonna distract me.”
He sighed. “He’s probably awake by now. We should try to leave before morning. Avoid the traffic.”
If you’re a Bay Area local, you know about the traffic. It's always terrible. It's best to get going before everyone else if you don’t want to be stalled an hour, or possibly more.
He stood up and brushed the sand off his pants. “Cai, you’ve gotta understand that I can’t allow my emotions to take over like that. I don’t want to abandon everything so I can date someone. If we only focus on that, Loki may never get back to...wherever he came from. I don’t know my Norse mythology.”
“Then don’t let your emotions take over! You can manage both. I know it because I know plenty of people who have dated on a quest before! My brother, my cousin, my other cousin...I could go on all day, Miles!”
“You can’t force me on this, Cailen.” He gave me a withering glare that you would think the son of the god of light would not be able to give. “Go pack your stuff. I’ll get the car started.”
“Go.” He said, his eyes rimmed with red.
“Are you sure we’re in the right place, Cailen?” Loki asked, poking the ground with a stick. “There’s just dirt and grass.”
“Yes, I’m sure.” I said. “It’s gotta be here somewhere.”
I crawled around the huge oak in Crockett Hills Regional, pushing aside leaves. Finally, I saw a glimmer of silver.
“Aha!” I exclaimed.
I pulled the silver lever towards me, and a door emerged from the ground behind us.
“Right this way, folks.” I said, and we stepped inside the armory.
“Whoa.” Loki said as soon as we reached the first weapons row.
There was everything a modern demigod could need. Collapsible shields, collapsible swords, concealable knives. Armor that could shrink to a necklace. Duck Tape.
I picked up a little bracelet made of string. It had a plastic bead on it, with a little carving of a centurion’s helmet. I put it on and tried to find the trigger. I finally tapped the helmet twice, and it sprang out into a round silvery shield.
Leather straps were wrapped around my arm. They were smooth and soft, but I could tell they would still hold. They were perfect on my arm.
I turned it over and looked at the front. A trident. The symbol of Neptune. I turned it back over, and on the inside, carved in small writing at the edge of the shield, were the words Cailen Grace.
I turned it back over, and examined it. It had my name in it, my full name, which I never told anyone. Then, like magic, a piece of paper was bunched up in my free hand.
I opened it curiously.
The writing on the inside was in a man's sloppy, quick handwriting. It read:
It was the least I could do. Good questing. Make me proud.
I got angry and sad at the same time. He never talks to me, and then, when I’m on a quest, he sends a stupid shield and a stupid note? Make me proud. I’d sooner make a fruitcake.
The thing that was hitting me the hardest was the first time he reaches out, it’s for my quest, that can make him look good. Not when I was struggling. Not when I was bullied and pushed around. Not when my mother died. Not when I was living on the streets for that six months before Oma claimed me as her kin.
I didn’t want his patronage. I didn’t want his stupid shield. I didn’t want his help.
I was tempted to hang the bracelet back up on the shelf, but instead I took it off and slipped it in my pocket. I had a feeling that Neptune had given it to me for a reason, that it would save my life someday.
Miles was over in the first aid kits, looking at backpacks. Loki was slack jawed in front of weapons.
I walked over to Loki. “There’s gotta be something for you.”
He just nodded.
“Well, I’m gonna go look at armor, I’ll be over there if you need me.” I said, and walked off.
Loki had been so embarrassing during the car ride to the park. He would stare at Miles from the shotgun seat, and then when Miles looked over because he could see that he was being stared at, Loki would look away and blush, then look over again when Miles’ eyes were back on the road.
I shook my head and looked through armor. I couldn’t believe I had to watch over such a dork.
After we were back on Highway 80, Miles hummed, Loki stared at him, and I looked out the window. Until my impulsive self couldn’t take it anymore.
“Okay, this is so awkward and boring.” I said, leaning into the front seat. “Is there any car game we can play?”
“I don’t know any car games, since I didn’t know cars existed until a few days ago.” Loki said.
“Fair.” I said. “Miles?”
He said nothing, but plugged his ipod into the console. He pushed a few buttons, and AJR thumped through the car at full volume.
Come on guy, I promise everything’ll be alright, be okay. Your eyes look tired, but keep ‘em open ‘cause you wouldn’t want to miss a thing.
He drummed his hands on the steering wheel as we headed east. At least the trumpets broke the silence.
It’s too hard to tell if anything’s real or not.
The lyrics echoed through my head.
The song ended, and Loki asked, “What was that?”
Miles looked back at him. “That was AJR. My favorite band and celebrity crushes.”
“AJR?” Loki looked so confused.
“Cai, can you explain more?”
I ignored him. If he was gonna ignore me when I tried to break the ice, then I’m not helping him. I stared straight out the window as Fairfield came into view.
“Cai?” Miles said again.
I crossed my arms and kept staring out the window.
Loki turned around. “What’s wrong with you, mortal?”
My hand went to my pocket, where I had the note and the bracelet. I quickly brought my arms back, so they wouldn’t question it.
Miles looked in the rearview mirror. “Cai, what’s in your pocket?”
I didn’t say anything.
“Loki, can you go back there and get that out of her pocket?”
He raised an eyebrow, but awkwardly climbed in the backseat. He reached toward my pocket, but I slapped his hand away.
We repeated that five times.
Miles swerved on to the off ramp for Travis Boulevard. He pulled into the first parking lot he saw, a Starbucks.
“Cai.” He looked at me.
I kept staring out the window.
“We are not going anywhere until you tell us what is in your pocket.” Miles said.
“Fine. I’ll live at Starbucks. Or Loki and I will walk.” I said.
“No, I’m with Miles on this one. I feel like it’s important.” Loki said.
I got out of the car, walked across the parking lot and sat on a curb.
Miles walked over. “I know you’re mad at me. I know this is all a lot. But it's important that we know what's bothering you.”
I sighed, and pulled out the bracelet and the note. I handed them to Miles.
His eyes combed over the note. “Oh, Cai.”
He pulled me in for a hug, and he smelled like a sunny day. I don’t know how to describe it, exactly.
I cried into his shoulder, and he said, “Cai, it’ll be okay. We just have to wait for it.”
End of Part Four