I took a deep breath. Then I did my usual motivational speech in the mirror: “You are gorgeous and people love you!”

I went out to face the world.

Percy was sitting on his bed, staring at the trail of blood droplets I had made across his carpet.

“Sorry about that,” I said.

Percy spread his hands. “Actually, I was thinking about the last time I had a nosebleed.”


The memory came back to me, though hazy and incomplete. Athens. The Acropolis. We gods had battled side by side with Percy Jackson and his comrades. We defeated an army of giants, but a drop of Percy’s blood hit the earth and awakened the Earth Mother Gaea, who had not been in a good mood.

That’s when Zeus turned on me. He’d accused me of starting the whole thing, just because Gaea had duped one of my progeny, a boy named Octavian, into plunging the Roman and Greek demigod camps into a civil war that almost destroyed human civilization. I ask you: How was that my fault?

Regardless, Zeus had held me responsible for Octavian’s delusions of grandeur. Zeus seemed to consider egotism a trait the boy had inherited from me. Which is ridiculous. I am much too self-aware to be egotistical.

“What happened to you, man?” Percy’s voice stirred me from my reverie. “The war ended in August. It’s January.”

“It is?” I suppose the wintry weather should have been a clue, but I hadn’t given it much thought.

“Last I saw you,” Percy said, “Zeus was chewing you out at the Acropolis. Then bam—he vaporized you. Nobody’s seen or heard from you for six months.”

I tried to recall, but my memories of godhood were getting fuzzier rather than clearer. What had happened in the last six months? Had I been in some kind of stasis? Had Zeus taken that long to decide what to do with me? Perhaps there was a reason he’d waited until this moment to hurl me to earth.

Father’s voice still rang in my ears: Your fault. Your punishment. My shame felt fresh and raw, as if the conversation had just happened, but I could not be sure.

After being alive for so many millennia, I had trouble keeping track of time even in the best of circumstances. I would hear a song on Spotify and think, “Oh, that’s new!” Then I’d realize it was Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 20 in D Minor from two hundred years ago. Or I’d wonder why Herodotus the historian wasn’t in my contacts list. Then I’d remember Herodotus didn’t have a smartphone, because he had been dead since the Iron Age.

It’s very irritating how quickly you mortals die.

“I—I don’t know where I’ve been,” I admitted. “I have some memory gaps.”

Percy winced. “I hate memory gaps. Last year I lost an entire semester thanks to Hera.”

“Ah, yes.” I couldn’t quite remember what Percy Jackson was talking about. During the war with Gaea, I had been focused mostly on my own fabulous exploits. But I suppose he and his friends had undergone a few minor hardships.

“Well, never fear,” I said. “There are always new opportunities to win fame! That’s why I’ve come to you for help!”

He gave me that confusing expression again: as if he wanted to kick me, when I was sure he must be struggling to contain his gratitude.

“Look, man—”

“Would you please refrain from calling me man?” I asked. “It is a painful reminder that I am a man.”

“Okay…Apollo, I’m fine with driving you and Meg to camp if that’s what you want. I never turn away a demigod who needs help—”

“Wonderful! Do you have something besides the Prius? A Maserati, perhaps? I’d settle for a Lamborghini.”

“But,” Percy continued, “I can’t get involved in another Big Prophecy or whatever. I’ve made promises.”

I stared at him, not quite comprehending. “Promises?”

Percy laced his fingers. They were long and nimble. He would have made an excellent musician. “I lost most of my junior year because of the war with Gaea. I’ve spent this entire fall playing catch-up with my classes. If I want to go to college with Annabeth next fall, I have to stay out of trouble and get my diploma.”

“Annabeth.” I tried to place the name. “She’s the blond scary one?”

“That’s her. I promised her specifically that I wouldn’t get myself killed while she’s gone.”


Percy waved vaguely toward the north. “She’s in Boston for a few weeks. Some family emergency. The point is—”