Aiden’s steps slowed as they approached us. Clearly, the expression on my face was not exactly a welcoming one. “Sorry,” he said, looking up to the sky. “We don’t mean to interrupt.”
“But you’re going to?” I replied.
“Yeah.” Alex’s grin was weak. “We just left them. I’m not sure how any of us are going to survive long in Herc’s presence. He’s a giant douchebag.”
Josie giggled. “That’s what I said.”
“Great minds think alike.” Alex’s smile warmed. “We just want to make sure you guys are okay with us going along with you all.”
“Of course,” Josie said, leaning back into me. She wasn’t getting up or moving away from me. Not a single part of her was . . . ashamed or worried about what anyone thought.
“Good,” Alex replied.
I smoothed my hand over Josie’s hip. “Not like we really had a choice if we said we didn’t want you two going along.”
“Nope,” Aiden responded with a smirk.
My gaze met his. “Just like old times.”
There was a pause and those gray eyes burned silver as he said, “Hopefully not.”
“You can’t stop me,” Deacon stated firmly, probably in the most serious voice I’d ever heard him use. “I’m a grown adult.”
Aiden took a deep breath, but it didn’t help. “I can stop you. Easily.”
“I’ll like to see you try.”
Watching the two brothers argue was like having front-row seats at a tennis match. I had no idea who was going to win. Deacon wanted to go with us to find the other demigods. Aiden was not having it.
“You don’t want to see me try.” Aiden was sitting on the couch inside of the room he and Alex were sharing, which was actually a pretty decent-size room. Bigger than mine or Seth’s. It had a real living room—an actual couch, two papasan chairs, and an ottoman that Alex was sitting on. I honestly had no idea how I’d ended up here.
After Alex and Aiden found Seth and me on the bench, the four of us had walked back to the dorm. We entered their room, and while I’d been gaping at the size of the thing, Seth left to go find Solos. He’d said he’d be back.
That was an hour ago.
I was really hoping he hadn’t run into Hercules, because I was sure that wouldn’t end well at all.
“You probably think I want to go with you because of Luke.” Deacon stood in front of the couch, his cheeks flushed with frustration. “It’s not because of him.” He glanced at Luke. “No offense, babe.”
“None taken,” Luke said from the other side of the couch.
“But I also would like to take a moment to point out that he is also missing classes to go on this demigod scavenger hunt.”
“That’s different,” Aiden reasoned calmly. “He’s trained, Deacon. You know that. This trip could be dangerous.”
“I know that, and it’s not like we haven’t had this conversation a million times. I get that you want to protect me. I appreciate that, but I’m not a kid anymore.”
My gaze connected with Alex’s as she winced. I totally got where Deacon was coming from. I also understood why Aiden wanted him to stay here, where it was measurably safe. We had no idea what would happen out there.
“I know you’re not a kid, Deacon.”
Deacon shook his head. “You don’t get it. I know how to protect myself, but it’s more than that. I don’t get to see you for half a year, Aiden. That’s six months. You’re unreachable to me,” he said, and his voice dropped. “It’s like you’re dead.”
Luke leaned forward as Aiden winced.
Aiden said, “Deacon—”
“No. You need to hear this. Both of you do. I’m happy that you guys are okay. That you’re going to have eternity and you’re together, but it’s not easy on me,” he said, eyes glistening, and I felt like I shouldn’t be here to witness the very raw pain Deacon was expressing. “I miss you, and this is my time. I have six months to see you. That’s it before you have to go back. And who knows how long this is going to take? You could be gone the entire six months. I want to see you. That’s fair.”
His brother lowered his gaze as he shoved his hand through his thick hair. He didn’t say anything as Luke rose, walked over to where Deacon stood, and wrapped his arm around Deacon’s shoulder, drawing him to his chest. He kissed the top of Deacon’s blond curls.
“Damn.” Aiden dropped his arm and looked up. “I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Of course not,” muttered Deacon. “That’s why you need me around. I think of all things.”
Aiden laughed hoarsely and then glanced over at Alex. She smiled reassuringly at him, and it was so apparent that those two were on the same page, as if their minds and souls were linked.
Would Seth and I ever get to that stage? Would we have a chance? I sucked in a short breath and forced it out slowly. We would have that opportunity. I had a plan. Not the greatest. I just needed Apollo to hang around long enough for me to put that plan into action.
The door opened and, as I looked over. Hercules strolled in. His upper lip curled. Distaste was clearly etched into his handsome features. “Even this room is small. Why is everything so small here?”
“It’s a dorm,” Luke explained, and I had to give him credit for even trying. “Things are kind of small in dorms.”