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This article, This Self-Inflicted Prison (Wiki Contest: March 2013), is property of Leafwhisker. Please do not edit without permission.

Disclaimer: I don't own PJO.

Partially inspired by this song.

Title may change at any time.

For the contest.

I have no idea what I'm doing, but I assure you it will not make sense. It now makes sense! *collective cheer* -Leafwhisker Stipulevibrissa 02:34, March 16, 2013 (UTC)

For my OC with a guest.

Because I can write in different perspectives once in awhile. lolnope. I love third person too much. Expect the wedding to be next month.

* * *

She was borne of lies and deceit. She was born with a tormented heart. And for that, people hated her.

Before this, she stole. She stole weapons and clothes and jewelry (most of the time she didn't care for the jewelry, but it was shiny and that counted for something) and food. Just about anything, really.

Stealing seemed to be in her blood. She might not have been a Hermes camper – they were obnoxious and clamorous so why would she want to be? – but her mother, oh, her mother was enough. The spirit of wrongdoing and injustice and everything evil in this world. So perhaps that was an exaggeration, but considering the looks she got when the campers realized she stole something from them you would think stealing was the worst crime anyone could do.

It wasn't as if she could help it, either. It was an instinct, a side effect, an impulse, and she hated it. She hated that she couldn't control her power unlike the Hermes brats, and she despised the idea that her mother was hated even by her equals. So because she couldn't control it she learned to go along with it. Her cabin was quickly filled with others' knickknacks and weapons and she had a years worth of canned food in the far reaches of the cabin, near her bunk. She knew the other campers' wrath was inevitable, but she liked to gloat while the moment was fresh. They wouldn't be able to stop her in the end. She would keep going on like this. It was a fact, just like the sun rises and sets and the stars come out when the moon is visible. She could not stop.

But there were days – many in fact – when she wanted to.


Contrary to popular belief, she did have friends. Friends who honestly liked her company. Friends who were outcasts like her.

But she would always be queen; the most hated.


She had a name once. Esther. It was an older name, and perhaps it was given to her in honor of Adikia who was, of course, at the time immortal. But it wasn't used much anymore.

It wasn't used much before, either.


Days. Weeks. Months. All of which spent walking. Their legs were tired, bags of food empty, and weapons rusting. Neither had an exact destination, but more of a word. Away. Wherever that was. Away could mean multiple places and all of those had different scenarios which could be played out.

The gods had faded six months ago – and thankfully the Titans went with them. For two months Esther had wandered the cities surrounding Camp Half-Blood, fighting monsters and decorating her hair with the golden dust of the fallen beasts. There weren't many cities left, however. Everyone had died one way or another. Some sort of plague or disease or whichever word you preferred.

And the others had just died from the monsters. Esther had seen so many people die she was used to it – and not at all wary of it. She had seen so many people die she doubted she would see another person, let alone a demigod, again.


The most alarming thing about the boy was not the fact that he was a demigod, but the fact that he wasn't holding a weapon. She guessed that maybe he was hiding one, but when she stepped closer to him so he noticed her, he didn't reach for his shoe or a pocket. He just stood there.

Was he trying to die?

So she felt it was necessary to voice her concerns. “Hey, you! Are you hoping that no monster is going to attack you you're that stupid?” He focused his attention on her hair and commented on the color.

“Your hair is green.”

She stared at him, dumbstruck. “What?”

“Nice tattoos you've got there.” he added. She briefly looked at her arms and then her gaze flitted back to him. “What about them?”

“Nothing. And I'm not stupid. I have my own ways of fighting off monsters.” He walked up so he was a few feet away from her and extended his hand. “I'm James by the way.”

She narrowed her eyes at him and took the boy's appearance in. Straight light brown hair that was cut short, bright green eyes, freckles. Purple short-sleeved shirt under a brown jacket and jeans with white sneakers. Very average. She decided he wouldn't be able to kill her in her sleep, and he might prove to be helpful in the future, so decided to shake his hand.

“Esther.”


After a few days of traveling with James, she discovered he wasn't as bad as she initially thought. He was annoying and would constantly get on her nerves with his excessive talking, but he, admittedly, wasn't too bad.

It helped that he had chlorokinesis.


They were cautiously walking through a ghost town – or James was; Esther was digging through trashcans and looking for anything remotely edible while James watched her in disgust. She tossed something out and it clattered to the ground. Esther took her hands out of the trashcan and grinned triumphantly. Her grin faded when she noticed his look of disapproval. “What?” she asked and frowned.

“You...dug through at least five trashcans and who knows how long they've been out here? That's disgusting.”

She shrugged and pointed with her foot at the object lying on ground. “There's your weapon. It's a stiletto dagger.”

“How do you know?”

“Experience.” she replied and he decided not to let her elaborate, and slowly he picked the weapon off of the ground. The wince was visible on his face as he cautiously moved it so he could see it better. It was thin and, upon grazing the edge lightly with his index finger, realized it would be rather deadly to monsters.

While walking over to him, Esther picked up her double-sided axe from the ground. “It's a smaller weapon, lucky you.” she muttered and he watched her curiously.

“You don't sound like a child of Mars.”

“Mars?” Her eyebrows rose and he smiled sheepishly. “Or Ares to you. I forget you're a Greek.”

“Then what are you?” she asked suspiciously.

“Roman.” Roman, Roman. She remembered the term vaguely, but didn't think much of it. After all, he wasn't a demititan.

“So you're a child of--” She stopped and scolded herself for even beginning the sentence.

“Ceres, yeah.” he finished and she glared at him. He just grinned.


“It's just luck, Esther. Don't wear it out.” James warned as they walked through a dying prairie. The grasses were still tall and offered their protection which Esther was annoyed with. She was aching to fight a monster; she hadn't fought one in weeks.

Sometimes her luck was annoying.

“I won't.” she informed him but he still had the superior smirk on his face when a hellhound abruptly jumped through the grass and startled Esther and itself equally. When she regained her composure he wore the, “I told you so,” expression and she simply rolled her eyes.

“Please. It's still luck. I've been waiting for this to happen.” she said calmly as her axe sliced through the monster's leg and it disintegrated into golden-painted ash.

He muttered something that sounded suspiciously like an insult.


“What's Camp Half-Blood like?” James asked as he organized his backpack. Esther noticed it was filled with useless junk like pads of paper, books, and broken watches.

The duo had found an abandoned house – that wasn't full of animals or in ruins for once – and had taken the time to finally rest for once instead of walking and running. Esther had blocked off a portion of the floor and had started a small campfire while James had organized what they already had into piles.

“Loud.” she stated and prodded the fire with a broken tree branch. She looked up and noticed his astounded expression. He looked like a fish most of the time. Maybe she should call him that from now on.

“What?” she asked defensively.

“You're a bit of an enigma.” he informed her. She stared at him. “What?” she asked, her voice accusing.

“Gods, have you not heard of a dictionary...” he muttered and she scowled at him. “It means you're mysterious.”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “I guess.” she muttered and turned back to the fire. “What's Camp Jupiter like, then?”

“Loud.” he replied, grinning. She found a small pebble on the floor with her hand and threw it at him. It hit him square on the forehead and he winced. “Gods, that was a pebble. Thank Jupiter you're on my side.”

She smirked but motioned for him to continue.

“It was lively. There were all these people training and whole families lived there...” She found herself zoning off into her thoughts as he reminisced about Camp Jupiter, and for the first time since she met him, she came to the conclusion that he was more than the annoying demigod she first met. He was a good friend despite everything.

And she was – truthfully – grateful.


“Just shut up!” she shouted at him. They were resting on the outskirts of a small woodland for the afternoon. They had set up a small little camp between some fallen logs where they sat. He looked up from polishing his stiletto dagger and turned his gaze to her.

“What? I didn't say anything.” He frowned at her and she was given the opportunity to realize how green his eyes were. She mentally chided herself for doing so.

“Not now, but you've been talking nonstop ever since I found you. Talk talk talk. That's all you do and it makes me want to strangle you!”

“Then why haven't you yet?” he asked, smirking. She felt her face go slack as she reached for a retort but found nothing. She scowled as she felt her face warm up slightly. “T-there you go again!” she stammered and reseated herself so her back was facing him.


If she wanted to she could strain her ears and hear the sound of crickets chirping over the sound of her and James' feet running through the puddles and mud and grass. They had long since stopped seeing houses and cities and towns and more grass and lakes and trees.

The moon was full and was the only thing which lit their path. Esther hadn't really wanted to be an Apollo child before, but right now she was wishing she was just to have more light to see.

She could hear the steps of the chimera on the grass behind them and it took all her willpower not to turn around and attack it. She wanted to, but this was one of those situations when James was actually taking charge for once.

And she was tired. They hadn't slept in a few days because this chimera was stalking them, but exactly whose scent it picked up was unknown since they were both relatively minor demigods. But it found them and now it wanted to kill them.

Esther was honestly starting to miss that.

She felt the fire against her left arm before she saw it, and she winced as she felt the skin burn. She willed herself to hold in the scream as she veered right and managed to escape the flames. The steady downpour was helping with the burn somewhat. She saw James move head and managed to catch up with him just as the chimera let out a second round of fire. She smelled the odor of burnt hair and – against her better judgment – whirled around to face the creature. She heard James backtrack behind her and he grabbed her right hand, turned her around, and dragged her forward. “Esther, move!” he begged and ducked as the chimera aimed a tongue of flames as his face. She shot a look of loathing at the monster and in an attempt to kill it threw her axe at it, but the monster easily dodged the weakly-thrown weapon. She swore and finally turned her back of the beast and ran ahead of James. They ran for what felt like hours. Their feet were sore from blisters an their shoes finally falling apart. They were gasping for breath behind separate trees; the chimera was at least five minutes behind them, thanks to James powers.

Esther was weaponless, tired, and was ready to strangle the chimera with her bare hands. But she couldn't, and that only frustrated her even more.

“We can't keep running.” James whispered and she rolled her eyes. Of course they couldn't.

“Then what do you suggest?” she muttered and his gaze flickered up to the trees. The branches began relatively low, so climbing wouldn't be a problem...but if the chimera decided to burn the forest down they would surely be killed.

But she couldn't think of anything else so she started to climb.

The burn on her left arm caused excruciating pain each time it brushed against the tree, but she held the screams in and managed to climb the tree without any other difficulties.

James still reached his first. He probably manipulated the tree in some way. Sometimes she really hated his powers.

As the chimera prowled through the forest, Esther looked down at the monster below. The rain was beginning to settle and the sharp pain of the burn was beginning to make itself known. She needed to treat this, but that could wait. First she needed to kill this monster.

She noticed James watching the beast with a strange curiosity and she rolled her eyes. She tensed when the chimera's snake-head tail looked up directly at her and the monster turned its body so the lion head was facing her.

It released a burst of flames and she hurriedly jumped down to the ground. A shot of pain went up her legs and she closed her eyes for as many seconds as she could before she had to take off running.

She wasn't expecting the monster to be attacked with a frenzy of vines and thorns.

She watched as James managed to cover the chimera in vines, although the beast would continuously burn them with its fire. She was honestly amazed that he hadn't passed out by now. She saw his dagger in his pocket, swiped it easily, and stuck it through the chimera's lion head. The vines fell down into the heap of golden dust.

James swayed on his feet but managed to find his footing and she turned to stare at him. “Why couldn't you do that before?” she demanded and he offered a small smile.

“I needed a distraction.” he replied and his gaze moved to the large burn on her left arm. If she wasn't in pain she would have punched him.

“Esther...” His voice trailed off and an small aloe plant grew from the ground immediately and he broke off a leaf. With his fingers he split open the leaf but she jerked her arm back before he touched her. “What are you doing?” she demanded but for once he didn't respond. He applied the aloe vera to her burn and she winced, but after a few seconds the feeling became soothing.

Her eyes met his and she saw a sort of...tenderness in them. She didn't know how to place it.

She moved her arm from his grasp and she sat on the damp grass on the forest floor and leaned against a tree. She watched him as he muttered something about her losing her axe and started to walk back where they came.

And she allowed herself a small smile.


The watch's face was cracked and the hands had stopped moving. It was a silver wristwatch, and she supposed it was very nice. She wouldn't really know.

James would.


“What was your father like?” James asked quietly. They were walking on an older cobbled road. It was finally beginning to snow and they had managed to find coats and tore bits of moldy blankets they found in abandoned houses and used them to make makeshift sweatpants.

They were still freezing.

“None of your business.” she stated tersely and they walked in silence for a few more minutes.

“Esther--”

“James, I told you it's none of your business.” she warned and her grip on her axe tightened. She blinked away snow from her eyes and he abruptly stopped in front of her. “Esther, you can't stay like this forever.” he told her and turned around to look at her. A frown was displayed on his face.

She scowled at him. “And you should learn when to stay out of others' business.”

They walked in silence for the rest of the way. They found the underpass of a highway and decided to take refuge in it for the night.

“I'll take first watch.” James offered as he sat huddled next to the wall, but Esther shook her head. “I'll do it. I need to think.”

“Don't think too much, you might hurt yourself.” he joked, but instead of the expected glare Esther said and did nothing.

Esther leaned her back against the concrete and waited. Not for anything remotely interesting like a monster, but more for the idea that, yes she might be able to forgive her father.

But she couldn't, and no matter if she wanted to or not she couldn't (wouldn't) forgive him.

"I can't let you become like her. This is for your own good.”


Too late, she thought bitterly as she stuffed the second watch in her back pocket. He seemed to be made of watches; it was amusing.

I'm already so much like her.


“He was ignorant.” she stated when James woke up. He blinked sleep away and looked at her in confusion. “What?' he asked, puzzled.

“My father was an ignorant man. I hated him. Still do.” she replied. She stood up and noticed the snow was finally stopping.

“Let's go. We need to find shelter.”

But, in the end, he was still right.


The locket was a silvery color and rather shiny. When she opened it she noticed a small portrait of a young man in his late thirties. Spread on his face was a crooked grin. The second picture was of a young boy with a wide grin revealing gaps in his teeth where the teeth hadn't yet grown in. The boy's eyes were a brilliant green and his light brown hair was messy. She could tell there was a swarm of freckles on his face despite the size of the picture. An arm was around his shoulder, and Esther guessed that both people were from the same picture originally.

This must have been James and his father.

As if on cue, the said boy stepped up to her and looked around the snow-covered ground. “Have you seen anything on the ground?” he asked her and his gaze fell back on the ground, scanning it. She hurriedly closed the silver locket and stuffed it in her jacket pocket. “Like what?” she asked.

“Never mind, it's nothing.” he decided, “But if you see anything shiny on the ground anywhere, could you tell me?”

“Sure.” she assured him.

It felt like more than a locket was lost now.


When he told her he'd take first watch she panicked, but she managed to calm her nerves before he began to suspect.

Why was she like this? She never regretted stealing anything before.

Why should this be any different?


It was dusk. She should be sleeping. She would have been sleeping had James not found the locket with her stuff. She had gone off on him for digging through her things, but it wasn't like she really cared about keeping the stolen items hidden before. And never did she care about how the people would treat her later.

But this time was different. And gods she hated it. She hated feeling guilty or remorseful. She hated that she found the roman in the first place because then she wouldn't feel this way. Her life would be completely the same. Nothing new ever happening.

She hated him for messing that up. Destroying who she was.

The arrogant daughter of a spirit who stole anything and everything and regretted exactly nothing she did.

Except now. Now she regretted something.

She didn't know how to take it.

He held up the watches and the locket. A frown was plastered on his face, and he looked at her as if she was a misbehaving child.

The mere fact that he decided to look down at her like that caused her anger to grow. “What did you expect? You know I can't help it!”

“But you can help whether you lie or not! I don't care if you steal the watches, but the least you could do was not lie about whether or not you had seen the locket! I thought you had changed, maybe even a little.”

“Then you're just like my father! You're exactly like him! All he ever wanted was for me to be, 'nothing like my mother,' and 'considerate and caring.' He blatantly disregarded what I was and he seemed to think that removing me from his life would cure me. He couldn't stand up to the fact that I can't change, and neither can you! Maybe that's why your father left you because you seem to think that you can change someone's way of life just by being near them! Well guess what? You can't!”

His whole stature changed. His green eyes grew wide and she could have swore he was remembering something tragic in his past that was causing his body to tense. He looked so, so broken.

His face rearranged itself into a scowl. “You don't know my father. He did not leave me. He never would.”

James had never acted like this before. Acted so offended, or protecting. He was guarding something from her, something he would never bring to the light.

They both had their share of secrets then.


She should have predicted this but she was never one for forethought. She should have said something, apologized, done anything, but she couldn't swallow her pride that easily.

But he was so angry, so broken, and she didn't want him to act this way. She had no idea how long it would take for them to finally go back to something like friends, but she knew it wouldn't take a measly twenty-four hours.

And now that she thought about it, she would miss that. James may have been annoying or a weakling, and she might have hated him in certain occasions, but he was an honest friend. So very much like the ones who died so long ago.

So, perhaps there were certain things worth swallowing your pride for. Even if it wouldn't exactly make a difference.

“I'm sorry.”

That was the first time she uttered those words.

The first time she meant it.

The last time she would say it.


Fin

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