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Percy Held What?

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The next morning Percy, Magnus and Carter were woken up by Sadie pounding on their door. Percy groaned and flipped over. Annabeth had kept him up later studying. Magnus sat up with his long hair in a long tangled mess looking around surprised. Carter got up when he heard his sister’s voice.

“Let me in! I need some new clothes, these khakis were so uncomfortable to sleep in. And I’m assuming you want something else to wear today too.”

Carter sighed and open the door only to have Sadie barge in and shove some clothes into his hands. She looked him up and down then at the closet. “I’m really hoping you have something better for me for today.”

Carter looked down at the clothes in his own hands with the bright colors, rips, buttons and punk logos. He opened his closet and gave her some of his own clothes. This time much the same as before.

“No!” Sadie yelled.

Percy sat up. “Okay, I guess I’m not getting anymore sleep.”

Sadie turned red looking at the shirtless boy with his messy hair. She stuttered for a few seconds as she tried to apologize. Carter laughed as Percy looked extremely uncomfortable and Magnus rolled his eyes. “Is it at least breakfast soon?”

“I think Jaz and Piper already went. I saw your friends, Sam and Alex leave their room too.”

“So if you could leave our room that would be great,” Carter said in an annoyed voice. “We need to get dressed.”

“Fine,” Sadie said leaving and slamming the door. Percy considered walking out and asking her to wait so he could come with her to get Annabeth but then he had a different idea.

“Hey Magnus,” he called as he reached for some clothes.

Magnus looked over from where his hair was now brushed and his mouth was full of toothbrush and toothpaste. “Yeah?”

“Do me a favor and tell Annabeth that I’m gonna be a bit late to breakfast? I have to talk to some people quickly.”

Magnus looked confused but nodded. Then all three boys finished getting ready for the day and left the room together. It would have been the picture of three awesome boys, chilling and laughing together. Except the fact Magnus and Percy were laughing at Carter in Sadie’s one-direction shirt, ripped jeans, combat boots and accessories.

They stopped in the main room where Magnus and Carter left to walk with Grover, Jason and Frank who Percy promised to chill with later. He continued to open the black door to see Walt in a black muscle tee wrapping a new toilet paper turban around his head. He turned and saw Percy. “This is cruel man. Anubis isn’t liking it at all. He’s only amused because Sadie is.”

“I can imagine,” Percy nodded. “I can tell you that I didn’t come up with it though. So hopefully I won’t be the subject of a revenge plot.”

Walt chuckled. “No, you’re cool man.”

That’s when the door opened again and Nico walked in. He looked at Walt with his eyebrows raised and frowned. “I still don’t think that’s funny.”

“I just told Percy that.”

Nico turned noticing Percy for the first time then. He gave his older cousin a questioning glance. Then he looked at Walt. “You two doing something?”

“No,” Percy said quickly. “I was looking for you. We kind of need to talk.”

Nico paled a little more than usual. He sat on his bed and pulled his aviator jacket on closer twisting his skull ring. He looked at a figurine on his nightstand then at Percy and nodded. “We do.”

Walt looked between them. “Well, I’m done here. Um… I’ll see you two later.”

He headed out the door leaving Percy and Nico alone. Percy took a seat where Walt had just been on the bed and looked at Nico across from him then the figurine on the nightstand. “How do I even say this? Dam, this is hard.”

“It’s okay Percy,” Nico said. “I get it.”

Percy laughed with tears in his eyes and no mirth in the sound. He looked at Nico with some strange emotion in his eyes. “Oh gods Nico. You’ve changed a lot.”

Nico looked at Percy and twisted his ring again. Then he looked up dropping his walls and barriers letting the corner of his mouth twist. “I guess I have.”

“I don’t know if I could have handled it like you did. You, Thalia and Hazel all had it much harder than Jason and I. We were the lucky ones. We had people who took care of us, trained us, protected us and everything. I at least had a little of a childhood.”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Percy and Nico turned to see two people standing by the door. Thalia had spoken and Annabeth was right next to her looking between Percy and Nico with concern. They both walked in, Annabeth sitting next to Percy and Thalia plopping herself next to Nico.

“Magnus told me you weren’t coming and we noticed Nico was missing too. Jason and Reyna were about to start a manhunt before Hazel reminded them you could take care of yourself. We told them we’d find you and Percy,” Annabeth said looking between them.

Percy sighed. “Yeah. I was going to talk to Thalia next. I think this certain quest might be the hardest for all three of us. Even more than the Titan war at points.”

“You’re right,” Thalia agreed. “Which is why you shouldn’t have said that thing about not having it as hard as us.”

Percy made a protesting noise but was quieted quickly by Annabeth’s stormy glare. She got up seeing he wouldn’t argue and looked between the three cousins. “I’ll leave you to talk now. But no fighting. Grover’s already told me I’m going to have to be careful about that today.”

Percy and Thalia exchanged glances then looked at Annabeth together. “Sorry!”

Annabeth waved her hand and walked out leaving them alone. Percy looked at the two cousins across from him. “So…”

So?” Thalia repeated.

“Fine,” Percy slumped. “This quest isn’t going to be fun. I lost ninety five percent of my control when Annabeth fell. She’s what grounds me and my emotions are going to be insane this whole time on this quest. Lots of things are revealed about you Thalia, you’ll have to realize you’re seeing Luke and Artemis and Zoe sometimes hurt.”

“And Nico, gods…. Everyone is going to see what you were like before. What happened to Bianca. All of it. They’re going to see what happened between you and me. And I’m just sorry I did nothing. That I didn’t understand. That I didn’t help. That I wasn’t there.”

“Don’t apologize,” Nico said. “I needed to go through that. At least part of that. Yes, I’d like Bianca to still be here. But everything else brought me here. I’m with Will now. And I’ll say it. I’m happy.”

Percy’s grin was one of the widest Nico had ever seen. “Good. You deserve it. More than anyone. Thalia, are you going to be fine?”

“Sure. By now half the people now about my fear of heights. They definitely know about my mom from Jason. The other stuff I’ve already dealt with. I’m moving on from it. It’s you and Nico who are going to be getting the pity parties.”

Both boys pulled disgusted faces. Nico looked at Percy who looked at him. “Thalia distracts them and you shadow travel us out of there?”

“As long as you get me some McDonalds when we get back to the real world from wherever we are,” Nico agreed. “And we let Will know.”

“Annabeth too. Or she’ll kill us.”

“Death by Annabeth isn’t the way I want to leave this world,” Nico agreed.

“Look at you two,” Thalia cooed jokingly. “My little cute cousins all grown up with their blonde dates and planning escapes. Aww!”

“Technically we’re both older than you now,” Percy pointed out. “Especially Grandpa Corpse breath over there.”

Nico blushed grumbling, “Shut up.”

Thalia cackled. “No! He’s right. You’re like in you’re 80s or 90s now!”

“And you’re supposed to be like 23,” Nico pointed out. “Your younger brother is almost two years older than you now and I’m your age.”

Thalia glared at him and Nico glared back. Percy fell back laughing. “I’m the only one who’s his actual age here.”

“You were at the Lotus Hotel too,” Nico reminded him. “So, no. You’re not.”

“For a week at most,” Percy whined. “And if you had aged normally we probably never would have met.”

“That is weird,” Thalia agreed. “Annabeth would probably say something about an alternate universe existing where that happened.”

“And one where he was in the Lotus Hotel but you never became a tree,” Percy nodded.

“I’d have been with you at camp then,” Thalia said slowly with a snicker.

“You’re getting way too into this,” Nico rolled his eyes.

“Because it’s fun!” Percy prodded him. “C’mon. Imagine if my mom had actually dropped me off at Camp when I was five instead of marrying Gabe. I’d have been like the Jason of Camp Half Blood.”

“You’d have been there even before Annabeth then,” Thalia said. “If I was there and not a tree we could have grown up together.”

“If you were a tree,” Percy continued for her. “Annabeth and I probably would have driven everyone at Camp insane with fighting for a good nine or so years of fighting before we realized we liked each other.”

Thalia laughed and Nico smirked before sighing. ”Fine. I’ll join it. In some universe there’s a world where Thalia ran away with Jason instead of him going with Hera.”

“Sounds like a good world,” Thalia told him.

“I’m not done. In that world they ran away and ran into Luke, just like here after two or so years. Jason and Thalia were already training together and escaping monsters. Luke helped them fight more. Which is how they found Annabeth. So Jason and Annabeth grow up like this cute, blonde pair of serious, intimidating siblings.”

“Then you meet up with Grover again when Thalia is twelve and he leads you into Manhattan where again Annabeth runs into Percy while getting ice cream. But Jason is with her and so Grover sees all three of them and you ask Sally to take Percy along.”

“That actually sounds awesome,” Percy grinned. “I knew you still had some of that ten year old imagination left.”

“Still not finished,” Nico protested ignoring the last comment. “So then because you have three kids of the big three and two other demigods more monsters come. You fight them off better because you have Percy and Jason who are powerful little kids but Thalia still makes her stand at Half Blood Hill.”

“Nico,” Thalia complained. “I thought this was a happy story.”

“It is,” he said. “Because then when Percy, Grover and Annabeth go get the lightning bolt and pass by the Lotus Hotel somehow Bianca and I get out. Dad has Alecto ask Percy to take us with him when they retrieve the helmet.”

“So we go live at Camp with Jason, Annabeth and Percy. And a year later even though Luke has betrayed us we get the fleece and bring Thalia back. That quest is led by Jason like the original Argonauts.”

“Then somehow Hazel escapes with some other souls when we go on that quest for the sword of Hades and Persephone was being insane,” Percy added catching on.

“But by then I’ve already joined the hunters after being driven crazy stopping you Annabeth, Jason, Nico and Bianca from arguing all the time. So then I’m not part of the prophecy either,” Thalia smirked.

“That still leaves it to Percy. Because when Bianca left the Casino she was only a little over twelve. Percy turned twelve a month after his first quest,” Nico agreed.

“But we’d still be together. Though Bianca might join the hunters with Thalia later on. And we’d have all been together all along,” Percy finished with his hands thrown out wide taking a bow.

“I’d actually kind of like to see if a universe like that existed,” Thalia admitted.

“Maybe,” Nico said standing up. “But now we have our own universe and we need to get some food before the growling of Percy’s stomach gets any louder. And so we can get this pity part of a quest over with.”

Chapter Text

 

Nico came in when Will found him immediately and handed him a plate of food. “Eat. All of it.”

Nico rolled his eyes but sat down. Percy was already with Annabeth, Jason, Hazel and Thalia explaining what they had been talking about. Will followed his gaze then looked back at Nico.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” Nico said.

“Where were you?”

“With Percy and Thalia. Talking. About this whole quest,” Nico said taking a bite.

Will nodded. “It’s gonna suck. But there is one good part.”

“What?” Nico asked.

“I get to see cute ten year old you again,” Will teased.

“Shut up,” Nico scowled. “You’re being too bright too early. Let me pout in peace.”

He finished up and walked out of the room toward the viewing area. Hazel and Jason joined him. Thalia came a minute later still crunching on some toast. Jason looked between her and Nico. “I’m mad at you guys.”

“You don’t have the ability to be mad,” Nico said.

“I still am,” Jason crossed his arms trying to scowl but terribly failing. “I mean having a conversation between big three kids without me and Hazel.”

“It was more like let’s try not to kill each other while we watch this. It’s bad enough that we actually almost did it,” Thalia said. “But you and Percy will have that talk another time I’m sure.”

Jason blushed as Hazel giggled. She looked at Nico then. “We were just worried.”

“I’ll be fine,” he told her.

“We just need to stay together for this,” Thalia agreed. “Just the five of us and Annabeth. Or Percy might try to kill me again.”

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t,” Annabeth said agreeing as she sat down. As soon as she did and stopped talking, as the last person in the room to stop doing so, the projection started.

Percy, Annabeth and Thalia stood in front of an ugly woman and man. The woman demanded to know what they were doing there.

“What are you doing there?” Sadie asked. “It looks like one of those gross military schools.”

“Because it is,” Nico said.

“Chiron called us in for a mission,” Percy said. “We’re actually pretty close to the beginning so you’ll see.”

Percy started to make an excuse when the man told them visitors weren’t allowed. Then Thalia stepped forward and snapped her fingers. The air shimmered. She told him they went to school there.

“He’s a monster,” Hazel said suddenly. “The mist won’t work.”

“I didn’t know that yet,” Thalia shrugged. “I might have had experience but not enough to identify a monster like that right away.”

“I mean his eyes were different colors,” Percy said. “So yeah. It was stupid we didn’t.”

The man asked if the woman knew them and she did asking why they weren’t at the gym. Grover ran up just then yelling they had made it and was immediately asked what he meant. He came up with a flimsy excuse that they made the punch for the dance.

“A dance?” Carter said. “Those things are the worse.”

“No,” Sadie argued. “They’re so fun.”

Walt smiled as Anubis stirred the memories of the dance within him. Percy shrugged at Carter. “I mean yeah, I wasn’t really the dance type. I usually played basketball on the side till I found the right partner.”

Annabeth held his hand with a smile squeezing it.

Carter rolled his eyes. “The only dance I went to wasn’t even at a school I went to. Sadie forced me to dance with her friends.”

“And Lacy still wants your number,” Sadie laughed. “Now she knows you’re taken at least.”

“My sister Lacy?” Piper asked. “Don’t tell me you were at the dance with Drew too.”

“And all her plastic BAG friends,” Sadie agreed.

“Okay,” Annabeth said. “We can talk about this later. Can we continue this now.”

The woman teacher agreed the punch was good. Then Percy, Thalia and Annabeth followed Grover to the gym. Percy asked Thalia how she did that. She asked him why Chiron hadn’t shown him how to use the Mist yet. His face contorted and he looked down.

“Sorry,” Thalia apologized. “Didn’t even realize how jerkish that sounded. You know he didn’t teach you because he thought the prophecy would be on me now as the older one. You’re actually probably his favorite. Besides Annabeth of course.”

“Of course,” Percy agreed.

Annabeth glared at them both.

Grover praised the fact they were there. Then he exchanged a high five with Percy and hugs with the girls. Percy asked what the Emergency was. Grover told him he found two. Thalia repeated that incredulously as Grover nodded.

Hazel felt Nico stiffen next to her. She leaned forward. “You and Bianca?”

“You’ll finally get to see her,” Nico nodded twisting his ring.

Across the room others were catching on. Reyna looked at Nico. “Grover found all three Greek children of the eldest three gods. That means you?”

“Yeah,” Nico nodded. “Me.”

“So who is the other?” Reyna asked.

Nico looked down and she was left to the silence.

Grover told that they were a ten and twelve year old brother and sister who were strong and he needed help.

“I should have recognized it,” Grover cursed. Bleating he continued. “I recognized big three scent before. Why not then?”

“The fates work in strange ways,” Juniper told him. “You still found them and got them help. You’re still the bravest satyr for facing the monsters out there to keep them safe.

Grover explained that there was a monster who was stopping him from getting close to the siblings. Grover looked at Thalia and you could see Percy’s face fall again. She said they had to dance if the half-bloods were there. Then Grover answered her question saying the monster was Dr. Thorn.

“Wasn’t that obvious?” Percy asked. “I mean his eyes were two different colors and that accent definitely isn’t natural.”

“Wait, what?” Piper asked. “I didn’t notice that.”

“Reallly?” Percy asked. “It was just like right there!”

“You’re actually pretty observant,” Annabeth told him. “Which is surprising to everyone because you don’t act like you are.”

“Hey!”

“Need I remind you the summers we were fourteen and fifteen?” Annabeth said.

“Fine,” Percy pouted.

She kissed his cheek. “Don’t worry. Now I think it was kind of cute.”

The dance was a normal school dance. Girls in huddles wearing special outfits. Boys looking uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. Then there were two kids at the bleachers Grover pointed out. The girl had long brown hair with a green floppy hat which was old fashioned. The boy was shorter with trading cards in his hands. She was shaking her finger at him and his dark eyes seemed amused. Bianca and Nico Di Angelo.

“That’s you?” Rachel asked. “I mean I met you only a year or so later and you already looked a lot different.”

“A lot changed,” Nico said.

“But you had a sister. Another sister. Bianca,” Jaz said. “Is she…”

There was no answer which was answer enough for almost everyone. Percy exchanged looks with Thalia. Then Jason and Hazel caught on. Frank was looking worriedly at his girlfriend and made the first move. “You were ten then huh?”

“Ten….” Nico agreed trailing off.

“So is that mythomagic?” Frank grinned.

Nico rolled his eyes with a little blush. “Maybe.”

“Mythomagic?” repeated Reyna.

“You’ll see,” both of them said together.

Annabeth asked if they knew. Grover said he hadn’t not wanting to put them in more danger yet. Percy said they should grab them and get out of there. But Thalia grabbed him and pointed to Dr. Thorn who was nodding at them.

“And there we go,” sighed Will. “Percy’s luck hits again. And now Nico’s hits again.”

Thalia ordered none of them look at the kids and wait. She ordered they dance. Annabeth repeated the last word skeptically and Thalia nodded with a look of disgust on her face as she asked why Jesse McCartney was playing.

“Jesse McCartney?” repeated an amused Piper.

“I know. I mean yeah, that was like the times,” Thalia agreed. “But they needed better music.”

“What would you prefer?” asked Leo jokingly. “Like some classic punk rock?”

“Yeah actually,” Thalia said.

“Like the Ramones,” Nico said.

“You know the Ramones?” Percy asked. “I didn’t think you were that caught up yet.”

“Yeah,” Nico said. “I’m getting there. But I like other bands too.”

“Led Zepplin,” Percy grinned.

“Yessss!” Thalia cheered.

Jason looked at Hazel and then back again. “Is it just me or is there something very different between the Romans and Greeks in our family?”

“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Hazel admitted.

“We’ll educate you,” Percy promised. “Watch, Thalia’s about to make a comment.”

Grover said he had chosen the Jesse McCartney. Thalia suggested he play Green day.

Percy and Nico nodded along.

Grover repeated that confused and Thalia just took him to dance stopping his complaints by telling him she would lead. Percy looked at Annabeth who was grinning as they now stood alone and asked what that was for. She replied it was cool to have Thalia back.

Thalia grinned at Annabeth. “Thanks.”

“I kind of missed having an insane older sister,” Annabeth said. “I mean no one else really put up with a know-it all seven year old who now started to learn to curse because of the other girl she hung out with.”

“Sorry,” Thalia winced.

“You taught Annabeth how to curse?” Jason asked surprised.

“Your sister had a bad mouth and would scold Luke for teaching me while cursing,” Annabeth laughed.

“See?” Percy smiled. “I would have liked that. Imagine that with our conversation before.”

“I don’t think I want too. That would mean the world’s end,” Thalia laughed.

Everyone else looked at her, Percy and Nico confused as they started to laugh crazily again.

Percy stuttered trying to converse with Annabeth staring. He asked hesitantly what buildings she had designed lately. She started to rant about a design class she took online. Percy was looking at her with such interest he seemed to space out on everything else.

“Ugh,” Grover said. “See? This is what I put up with for five years or so!”

“What?” Percy and Annabeth asked.

“You can’t even see that he’s staring at you like crazy and super nervous?” Piper asked skeptically. “And to say I didn’t believe my cabin’s stories.”

“It’s more obvious than when Samira stares at her boyfriend,” Alex pretend barfed.

Samira rolled her eyes and leaned over to elbow her sister and whisper. “What about when Magnus stares at you?”

Alex looked at her incredulously.

Thalia called over to them. Telling them to dance. Annabeth prodded him with an eyebrow raised and Percy asked her who he she should ask.

“Really?” half the room asked.

Percy blushed crazily. “Sorry.”

Annabeth punched his stomach and told her he should ask her. Awkwardly they got into dancing positions. Percy was looking around nervously and kept moving around. Finally he asked Annabeth if she was having trouble at school or something. Annabeth replied it was her dad.

“Again?” Magnus asked worriedly. “I mean I thought at that point you were okay. Mom still kind of kept tabs on you at this point. I thought it was all okay?”

“It was. You’ll hear,” Annabeth sighed.

Percy asked if it was her stepmom again because he thought it had all been fine. Annabeth shook her head saying her dad wanted to move and he took a job in San Francisco.

“What’s so bad about the bay area?” Jason asked offended.

“Um besides the greek roman thing which we didn’t know about yet?” Annabeth asked. “The mountain of despair.”

“Right,” Jason said closing his mouth. “That.”

“Which is kind of an unfair deal,” Frank said. “You guys get Olympus and we have guard duty over that area.”

“Which makes me wonder about this quest,” Percy muttered.

Percy asked if he wanted her to move with him. She replied a half-blood couldn’t live in San Francisco. Percy asked why. Annabeth rolled her eyes and said it was because it was right there.

“Okay,” Annabeth said. “So there I was actually wrong. Half-bloods can be completely fine in the bay area.”

Percy asked if she would go back to living at camp. Annabeth said it was more serious than that. Then she turned and said they were gone. Percy followed her gaze to where the Di Angelos had been sitting but were now gone.

Everyone turned to Nico when a loud stream of curses in several different languages came pouring out of everyone’s mouth. Louisiana French and Porto Rican Spanish being some of the loudest.

 

Chapter Text

 

Nico shied away from everyone’s stares just glowering and sighing. This wasn’t the time yet but he really felt like already grabbing Percy and the rest of the Big Three kids and shadow traveling away. Will too. He needed Will.

Walt looked at him. A piece of toilet paper from his turban fluttered over to beside Nico. There was something written on it. ‘This isn’t it. Is it?’

Nico shook his head. Everyone else was still looking at him questioning the same thing as Walt. Nico glared them all down though the air of death curling around him. Percy put his arm on his shoulder and Jason nudged him. Nico rolled his eyes at the two idiots who he called cousins but didn’t protest when Hazel reached for his hand.

Suddenly everyone’s attention turned back from Nico to the 3D image of Percy’s past quest in front of them. It was starting again. Exactly from where it had stopped moment before.

Annabeth pulled Percy’s arm saying they had to find Grover and Thalia. She disappeared and Percy was separated from her. Percy ran around them avoided it and could no longer see her. Instead he saw Bianca Di Angelo’s cap. He picked that up along with Nico’s trading cards. His eyes grew steely.

“And this is the part where I make a stupid decision and ruin everyone’s lives,” Percy said sarcastically.

“It wasn’t a stupid decision,” Thalia said. “I mean I would have done it too.”

“I might have,” Annabeth muttered.

“For sure,” Sadie and Carter said at the same time and started squabbling again.

“It wasn’t stupid,” Nico said. “You were trying to save us.”

Percy pulled out Riptide and ran out. Percy was staring at the Di Angelos who stared right back at him in fear. Percy’s face grew gentler and he promised he wasn’t going to hurt them as he lowered the sword.

“It’s not you they’re scared of,” Chris said looking at the 3D projection and the thing moving behind Percy in it.

“Yeah,” Percy said sarcastically. “I kind of realized that.”

Nico raised an eyebrow at him and Percy scowled at him. “Fine. Maybe not as soon as I should have!”

Percy continued to soothe them telling them his name and he’d get them away to somewhere safe. Bianca’s eyes widened and Percy looked down to her clenching fists. Percy whirled around then. As he did something struck down on his shoulder.

Percy clutched his shoulder. “Thank the gods this isn’t as bad as the Chimera poison.”

“That type will only hurt you and slow you down. Not kill you,” agreed Will. “Thank the gods. How you still worked through that pain I don’t know.”

“Nico and Bianca needed help,” Percy answered simply.

Percy slammed back into the wall and was pinned to it by a large spike. Dr. Thorn hissed his name saying he knew his name. He thanked Percy for coming out of the gym because he hated middle school dances.

“Everyone does,” Piper told him.

“Not everyone,” Sadie and Walt said. Both blushed hard then as Sadie thought of her dance with Anubis and Walt felt the death god’s emotions.

“Everyone except you two,” Carter said. “I’ll never forgive Sadie for forcing me to go.”

Sadie rolled her eyes again.

Percy tried to swing his sword again but Thorn was two far. Another thorn shot to right next ot Bianca’s face as Thorn threatened them with actual impalement if they didn’t come quietly and obediently. Percy looked around frantically. Then he sat back and closed his eyes.

“What are you doing?” asked Blitz confused. “You won’t see if he attacks again!”

Percy grinned. “I’m taking a leaf from Annabeth’s book.”

Annabeth smirked. “Let’s just hope you picked up enough for it to work.”

Thorn asked what he was doing. Percy complained his shoulder burns.

“The light,” hissed Leo jokingly shielding his face. “It burns! It burns!”

“Yeah,” Percy agreed. “That might have worked even worse.”

Thorn told him that his poison wouldn’t kill him. Only hurt him. Percy’s face screwed up as he walked. Thorn was leading them into the woods.

“What are you doing?” asked Rachel.

“Using the Empathy link,” Percy said. “I was trying to get Grover’s attention and tell him we were kidnapped by a poisonous spike throwing French maniac.”

“I didn’t hear that.”

“I realized,” Percy said. “My guess is you heard my next call.”

Grover blushed as Percy laughed hard.

Thorn told them there was a clearing ahead where they would get there ride. Bianca demanded to know what he was talking about. Thorn yelled at her for quiet when Nico spoke up louder telling him not to speak to her that way. Percy’s face brightened a little with a small smirk.

Nico looked at him having noticed. “Where you laughing at me?”

“No,” Percy said. “I was a bit surprised you and Bianca were brave enough to speak to him like that. I guess I was seeing the potential in both of you. Not that either of you proved me wrong.”

“Thanks,” Nico said a bit surprised.

Thorn growled. Percy’s face screwed up harder. This time his voice echoed but his lips didn’t move as they heard his thoughts yelling for Grover and repeating apples, tin cans and calling for his butt to get over there with armed friends.

“And that’s when you heard him?” Clarisse snickered.

“Yeah,” Grover bleated.

“Don’t worry,” Juniper told him. “It’s cute.”

Grover blushed ten times harder.

Thorn ordered them to stop as they stood on a cliff over looking the sea. Percy stumbled and Bianca caught him. As he muttered his thanks Bianca demanded to know what he was and how they fought him.

“And that’s how you know she’s part of the big three’s kids,” Thalia grinned.

The rest of the big three kids nodded except Percy who was staring at the projection and the cliff with a stormy expression. “I hate that place.”

Annabeth gripped his hand. “Hey, I’m right here.”

“I can still hate it.”

“You can still hate it,” Annabeth agreed.

Percy told her he was working on it. Nico told them he was scared and was playing with a toy figure of sorts.

Nico blushed hard again.

“It was okay to be scared,” Percy told him again. “Ten is young. I was your sisters age. And I had experience with being scared before. I do have another question for you though.”

“What?” Nico asked.

“What’s that Mythomagic figure?”

Nico looked at the projection. Then he grinned. “Actually it’s my Artemis figure.”

“Now that is just….” Thalia trailed off.

“It’s awesome,” Grover said.

“It’s scary,” Percy said.

“It’s fate,” Apollo shrugged.

Thorn ordered them to stop talking and face him. They all did. Thorn pulled out a phone and made a call saying the package was ready to deliver.

“Package?” Will scowled. “My boyfriend isn’t a cardboard box.”

“None of them are,” Hearth singed furiously. “People are not objects. Not ever.”

Percy looked behind him. They could see something cross his face as they heard the waves crash. Dr. Thorn laughed and told him to Jump and save himself.

“Anyone else remembering the Arch?” asked Frank.

“I’m just wondering why he didn’t do it,” Alex said. “I mean he could have saved himself.”

“Do you not know Percy by now?” asked Thalia. “He’s staying because of Nico and Bianca.”

“He barely knows them at the moment,” pointed out Zia. “They met just moments ago.”

“You think that matters to Percy?” Leo said. “I’m pretty sure the guy would defend anyone he liked within a minute.”

“I can’t just leave two kids alone,” Percy said.

“You were a kid too,” Jason rolled his eyes.

“Not ten,” Percy said. “And I knew how to fight.”

Bianca asked what Thorn just called him and Percy promised to explain after. Bianca pestered to ask if he had a plan.

“She sounds like Annabeth,” Piper said.

“That’s because Annabeth got it from Thalia who said things like that to Luke and I all the time,” Grover said. “Must be a family thing.”

“It so is,” agreed Annabeth. “All of them do it. Which is probably why I do it too.”

Percy screwed up his face calling to Grover again. Then looked back at the ocean again. Dr. Thorn told him they would kill them before they ever reached the water. He couldn’t though because someone wanted them alive. Bianca demanded to know who because there was no ransom because it was just her and Nico.

“Not anymore,” said several people including all the big three kids, their significant others, Reyna, Leo, Will, Grover and Juniper.

“Thanks,” Nico said letting himself be squished between Hazel and Jason.

Dr. Thorn awed in a sneering manner. Then he told them their employer would give them a brand-new family.

“Yeah right,” Thalia and Percy said together.

“His boss’s daughter barely even felt like she had a family there,” Percy growled. “So no.”

“Don’t worry,” Nico said. “Bianca would have given him hell. Literally.”

There were uncomfortable laughs.

Percy said he worked for Luke. Dr. Thorn told him that he had no idea what was happening but the general would teach him and was looking forward to meeting him.

“Who’s the General?” Leo asked. He suddenly felt Calypso stiffen next too him.

“The worst of the Titans side,” Calypso told him.

“Someone you don’t want to mess with,” Jason said. “I’ve seen him.”

“He was terrifying,” agreed Reyna.

“Still hasn’t answered my question,” Leo said.

“Just watch,” Percy sighed.

Thorn ignored him as a helicopter blade started. Thorn pointed out their transport was here. Nico demanded to know where they were going and Thorn told him they should be honored. It was just like Nico’s card and doll game but in real life. Nico argued they were figurines.

“Figurines?” asked a laughing Clarisse. “Death boy played with figurines and dolls? I thought you were tougher than that.”

            “I’m tough.”

            “Dolls,” Clarisse repeated.

            Nico continued to say they could take their army and shove it up his…

            “Not tough?” Leo repeated laughing crazily.

            “Respect dude,” Alex said to Nico.

            “That was awesome,” agreed Sadie.

            “It was,” Will mouthed at Nico.

            Nico grinned.

            Thorn interrupted him saying he would learn his place or otherwise they had other use for half-bloods. Like monster food. Either way the Great Stirring was happening.

            “What’s does that mean?” asked Tyson. “What is a Great Stirring Pot?”

            No one answered him.

            Percy questioned what he was talking about. Thorn told him the stirring of the worst and most powerful monsters who haven’t been seen in thousands of years which would cause death and destruction and soon they’d have the power of the most important monster to bring down Olympus.

            “Luckily you have Percy to take them all down,” Carter said.

            “Even whatever this powerful monster is,” agreed Jason. “Because I’ve seen Percy face monsters no one else would think about facing.”

            “What is this monster?” asked Reyna. “Is it still around? Should we be finding it?”

            “Nah,” Apollo said. “Like Jason pointed out Percy took care of it. Even if it was in an unusual way.”

            “Unusual is understating it,” Percy said. “But it was the best way.”

            Bianca whispered it was completely nuts. Percy said they needed to jump off the cliff into the sea. Then Bianca said he was nuts too.

            “I don’t know,” shrugged Frank. “It could have worked.”

            “Probably not,” said Jaz. “I mean the water would be too hard for everyone else’s bones. And a cliff like that probably has rocks.”

            Then Percy and the Di Angelo’s was slammed back in a state of shock. Dr. Thorn seemed to be surprised then Thalia charged with shield forward and Grover came after her as she yelled for Zeus.

            “I’ve never actually seen you use the shield in battle,” Jason said. “It’s downright terrifying.”

            “Maybe now I can finally get the chance to teach you a few things like I always wanted to,” Thalia grinned.

            Thalia jabbed at his head but he swatted it aside with a paw. Thalia’s shield deflected it though. She rolled backward and stood back up. She dodged some spikes but through her shield she was knocked down.

            “Lucky you didn’t actually get hit,” Percy said rubbing her shoulder. “It still hurts.”

            Grover jumped forward then and used his reed pipes to let grass break through the snow it started to wrap around Dr. Thorn’s ankles.

            Thalia looked at Apollo. “Green grass breaks through snow…”

            “Hey!” Apollo yelled. “I can sue you for copyright.”

            Percy, Grover and Nico laughed a little as Thalia groaned. “Sure.”

            Dr. Thorn turned into a giant human faced lion with a spiky tail. Annabeth was now visible. Her hat had fallen off and was in the snow. She yelled it was a manticore.

            “What is that?” asked Carter. “It looks kind of Egyptian.”

            “It’s not,” assured Nico and Annabeth.

            Bianca asked who they were and what that was. Nico yelped that a Manticore had three thousand attack power and five to saving throws.

            “Okay,” Frank said. “Now we’ve got to play.”

            Thorn got out and Annabeth yelled for them to get down. Percy pulled out his shield. The metal was dented. Grover landed next to him with a giant smacking sound and the monster yelled for them to give up as Thalia yelled never.

            “Sorry about the shield Tyson,” Percy apologized.

            “It worked,” Tyson said. “My brother is alive.”

            Thalia charged the monster again. But the helicopter appeared and she was swatted away with Thorn’s tail. Her shield and spear flew away. Percy yelled out and arrived in inhuman speed to parry a spike away from Thalia’s chest with his sword. Then he raised his shield.

            “I never thanked you for that,” Thalia said. “So thanks.”

            “Not like you never returned it.”

            Thorn told them it was hopeless and to give up. Then a sound blew through the air.

            Thalia grinned. “Here comes the hunt!”

Chapter Text

 

            “The hunt?” Jason said. “Like your hunt?”

            “Technically it’s my sisters,” said Apollo with a finger raised.

            “Technically I am your sister,” Thalia reminded him. “And Jason’s your brother.”

            “Man that’s weird to think about,” Apollo said as everyone pulled disgusted and confused faces.

            In the projection Thorn cried it was impossible only to be pierced by a silver arrow. He yelled curses and threw more spikes but more arrows arrived sometimes cutting the thorns in half.

            “I’d like to do that,” Frank said in awe.

            “I’d be willing to give you some lessons,” Apollo said. “I remember your prayers.”

            “No humans could do that,” Thalia said. “Only a part of the hunt.”

            Thorn pulled the arrow from his shoulder. But then he managed to dodge Percy’s attack and slam him aside. Then the archers emerged from the woods. Annabeth cheered the hunters had arrived as Thalia sarcastically said that was awesome.

            “And you’re a part of this group now?” asked Samira in disbelief thinking of the group as similar to the Valkyries. “You seem to hate them.”

            “I did,” Thalia said.

            “So what changed?” asked Sam continuing.

            “Watch,” she replied cryptically.

            An archer with coppery skin and a circlet in her hair stepped forward. She looked around at the Manticore.

            “Zoe,” Calypso breathed.

            “You know her?” asked Leo.

            “You’ll find out soon,” explained Calypso. “But yes. I do.”

            She asked for permission to kill. The monster complained it was against ancient laws. Another girl said it wasn’t. She had auburn hair and glowing eyes. She was shining. She continued to say she was in charge of all hunting of beasts and he was a beast. Then she granted permission.

            :”She seems to be younger,” asked Magnus. “So why’s she in charge?”

            “Haven’t you learnt anything kid?” Blitz asked. “Age isn’t always at it looks.”

            The monster said they would come dead if not alive. He lunged at Percy and Thalia who were both injured. Then Annabeth yelled in protest and charged.

            Percy looked at her with a sad look and a wry grin. “I rubbed off on you too much. That self sacrificing is my thing.”

            “Unless I’m doing it for you,” Annabeth reminded him.

            “True,” Percy said kissing her cheek.

            “Like the bridge during the war,” Will reminded them both.

            “Right,” both said then laughed.

            “You’re so sweet it’s sickening,” Thalia complained. She was ignored.

            The girl with the crown yelled for Annabeth to get out of the line of fire. Annabeth didn’t listen getting on his back and drove her knife into the monster’s mane.

            “No!” Magnus yelled realizing what might happen. “Percy was right. Leave that to him.”

            “Like you wouldn’t do that too?” Alex challenged.

            Magnus shook his head. “They would’ve been fine.”

            “I needed to help. To take action. It’s not all about logic and emotion,” Annabeth reminded him.

            The monster howled and shook as Annabeth held on hard. Zoe yelled for fire as Percy yelled no. The monster fell back hit by the arrows swearing they would pay. Then he jumped off the cliff with Annabeth still off his back. Percy was already yelling her name and staggering forward.

            There was silence and shock as everyone looked at the couple. Percy had a death grip on Annabeth who was looking stonier and colder than usual.

            Gun shots rang as the helicopter took fire. The hunters scattered except the leader with the reddish hair who declared mortals couldn’t see the hunt. The helicopter became dust and then ravens which flew away.

            “Who is she?” asked an amazed Sadie.

            “She’ll tell,” Percy said as Apollo opened his mouth to answer proudly.

            The hunters came back in. Zoe looked at Thalia with distaste saying ‘you.’ Thalia responded that Zoe Nightshade always had perfect timing. Zoe ignored her and said there were four half-bloods and a satyr.

            “That actually didn’t need saying,” Piper said. “She knew.”

            “Yeah,” implored Sadie. “But who is she?”

            The girl nodded saying they were Chiron’s campers. Percy now out of shock and his silence was still stumbling back toward the cliff yelling they had to save Annabeth.

            Everyone looked at Percy. He was calm now with his arms tight around Annabeth but in the hologram the expression on his face was crazed and pained. Everyone looked at him surprised then back at Annabeth.

            Percy leaned to whisper in her ear. His breath tickled and blew her hair. “Promise to never actually leave me. I’d go insane and tear everything to shred.”

            “Together. Always,” Annabeth promised him kissing his cheek quickly.

            The young leader apologized saying that she was beyond help. Percy tried to stand but some of the girls held him down. He looked at the leader with fury as she told him he was too hurt to throw himself off a cliff.

            “Listen to her,” Annabeth said. “For me.”

            “I need to save you to listen to you,” Percy said. “You’re actually kind of all my impulse control.”

            Percy howled demanding she let him go and asking who she thought she was. Zoe stepped forward with a hand out reached.

            “Mistake,” Magnus said. “She’s a goddess right? Can’t talk to them like that. I might like too.”

            “Yeah,” Piper sighed. “Percy doesn’t really follow the rules when it comes to that.”

            “When does Percy follow the rules?” Grover challenged. “I mean not that he needs too.”

            Percy just shrugged.

            The other girl stopped her saying it wasn’t said with disrespect. Percy was only upset and didn’t understand. She paused.

            “Understand what?” Sadie demanded. “I still want answers. If she’s a goddess which is she>”

            “Listen,” Thalia told her. “And then you’ll know.”

            The girl looked at him with her shimmering eyes. She told him she was Artemis and she was the goddess of the hunt.

            “Sure,” Sadie rolled her eyes. “She couldn’t be older than me! She’s probably younger. Most likely she’s a magical being that just looks human.”

            “Haven’t you learnt anything?” Zia asked. “Anubis barely looked older than you before he took Walt as his host. The other gods are older than ages past and they look the age of those living in this time and generation.”

            “Artemis prefers the young form. So do I,” Apollo nodded. “We’re the protectors of those who are young. Most the time I look barely older than eighteen. Hestia looks younger than Artemis most the time too.”

            “So that’s your twin sister?” Leo asked. “I mean I’m kind of surprised too. You guys looked different when we met you.”

            “That was during our exile,” Apollo said.

            Percy stared at her for a minute before muttering okay in a skeptical manner. Grover however was kneeling in the snow thanking her and praising her in a stuttering manner.

            Juniper immediately glared at him. Grover turned red. “Sorry. It’s just she’s a goddess! And I hadn’t met you yet either. I won’t even look at Artemis anymore, Juniper.”

            “I wouldn’t say that,” Thalia warned. “But goat boy is over her. And Artemis is a maiden goddess.”

            “Fine,” Juniper sighed.

            Thalia yelled at him saying they had more to worry about because Annabeth was gone.

            “Thank you!” Percy yelled.

            “It kind of astounds me how much Thalia has changed now though,” Annabeth muttered. “Though I can thank you for thinking for me.”

            “No problem,” Thalia told her. “We’re family. That’s what we do isn’t it?”

            Bianca suddenly spoke up telling them to hold up and time out. She pointed a finger at everyone and asked who they were.

            “That might have been a good thing to explain,” Nico agreed.

            “You didn’t seem so troubled by it,” Percy pointed out. “But yeah. I agree. We should have thought of that. “

            “I agree. No one likes just being put into these situations having no clue what’s going on,” Magnus said.

            “Yes,” Carter, Sadie and Percy said at once.

            Artemis looked at her and the thin line of her mouth turned softer. She asked Bianca if it was a better question to ask who she was and who her parents were. Bianca looked at Nico and told them they had no parents and that a bank trust paid for their education. Then she stopped seeing they didn’t believe her. She asked demanded to know why they didn’t believe her because she is telling the truth.

            “No,” Grover said. “We believed her. We also just believed she didn’t know the truth about one of her parents.”

            “And you were right,” Nico said.

            Zoe said they were half bloods. That one of their parents was a mortal and the other was an Olympian.

            “What’s with the old fashioned accent?” asked Carter.

            “Not even the einjehar at Hotel Valhalla talk like that,” agreed Samira. “Or the immortal valkyrie.”

            “Probably because Zoe’s a lot older than everyone. Even some of the Roman gods,” Apollo said.

            There was silence. Then Sadie looked at him surprised. “No way. Did she do a Nico or a Hazel?”

            “A neither,” Thalia said. “It’ll explain everything.”

            Bianca asked if she meant an Olympian athlete. Zoe told her one of the gods. Nico cheered about how cool it was while Bianca became nervous and scolded him that it wasn’t cool. Nico was jumping around. He asked if Zeus really had lightning bolts that did six hundred damage. Or if he got extra points for other things.

            There was silence. Then everyone broke into laughter. Nico blushed and tried to hide but his cousins and sister weren’t having it. Hazel looked at him with wide eyes. “You were so cute and hyper.”

            “I was not.”

            “You were adorable Nico,” Jason patted him on the back. “Face it.”

            “Were?” Will asked. “He still is.”

            “No!” Nico yelled at his boyfriend.

            “If Will won’t I will,” Percy said before pausing and cracking up again at the sentence. “What should I talk about?”

            “Don’t you dare Percy,” Nico threatened. “I have some of your secrets too.”

            “My secrets are all being exposed anyway,” Percy shrugged. “And so are yours. They’re going to find out about the Happy meal addictions. I’m guessing that came from the old mythomagic packs that used to be in there?”

            “Shut up,” Nico growled.

            “Or that you….”

            “That’s enough for now Percy,” Thalia told him. “You have to leave some of the Nico torturing for later and to me.”

            “Fine.”

            Bianca yelled at him to shut up yelling this was not his stupid game and that gods didn’t exist. Percy looked at them and sighed. He and Thalia wore the same expression. It was the latter who spoke up. She told Bianca that it was true and they had kids like them with dangerous lives.

            “Especially if you have parents like ours,” agreed Thalia. “I couldn’t even have guessed that she was part of the Big Three kids.”

            “You couldn’t have,” agreed Percy.

            “You did somehow,” Thalia pointed out.

            “Yeah. But it took me to long. I put them in more danger,” Percy said.

            “You never put us in danger,” Nico told him. “So stop saying that.”

            Bianca repeated the word dangerous then looked at the cliff saying she meant like the girl who fell. Thalia looked down and Percy’s face contorted into something foul. Everyone quieted.

            Everyone winced. Percy tightened his grip to her a lot more. Every could see his strange expression and her whispering to him until he let go.

            Artemis told them not to be upset. She said Annabeth was brave and she promised to find her.

            “That’s a big compliment,” Annabeth widened. “I mean I don’t think a goddess would take the time to look for me.”

            “I’d make all the gods look for you if you disappeared again,” Percy promised.

            Annabeth’s face grew wary and she whispered to him.

He frowned. “Right.”

Percy asked why she wouldn’t let them look for Annabeth. Artemis raised an eyebrow and asked if he couldn’t sense the magic at work there but Annabeth had vanished. Percy slumped and sighed. He looked down to the sea again.

“That’s what scared me most,” Percy admitted. “I couldn’t feel you in the ocean. I thought it meant you had died.”

“No,” Annabeth told him. “I’m still here.”

Nico raised his hand and started to pester Artemis with questions about Dr. Thorn asking if he was dead and saying how awesome it was that they shot him with arrows.

“At least the death obsession hasn’t changed,” Leo pointed out.

“I don’t have a death obsession. My dad just happens to be the god of the underworld,” Nico said defensively.

People gave him looks but no one argued.

Artemis explained he was a manticore and that even if he was destroyed now but monsters reform and always need to be hunted whenever they reappear. Thalia nodded saying otherwise they’d hunt her.

“You sound like a hunter already there,” Clarisse told her. “Hunting them down would be fun sure. But I don’t mind the fight coming to me.”

“I do,” Chris told her. “Let’s just let the hunters track down the monsters before they track down us.”

“I’d kill them before they do,” Clarisse told him.

“Clarisse..”

“Fine.”

Bianca shivered then looked at her brother saying that explained the people last year in the alley in DC. Nico nodded pointing out the bus driver with ram horns saying he knew that was real.

“Ram horns?” Piper asked. “What monster is that?”

“Honestly no clue,” Apollo said.

Everyone else made shrugging and questioning sounds.

Percy told them Grover was watching them to keep them safe if they were demigods. Bianca asked if he was a half-blood. Grover kicked off his shoes and said he was a satyr. Bianca choked on her next words.

“Don’t scare the poor girl like that,” Juniper scolded him.

“This already happened.”

“You still need to have more tact than that,” Juniper told him. “Break it to those kids gently next time. Or at least as gently as you can. You did the same thing with Percy. I hope at least Thalia and Annabeth weren’t given the same treatment.”

Both girls laughed and shook their heads. “Yeah, good luck teaching your boyfriend that Juniper.”

Thalia scolded him saying he was freaking Bianca out and to put his shoes back on. Grover told her his hooves were clean.

“That’s not really the issue,” Annabeth told him with a glare.

Percy interrupted them telling Bianca he came to help and that she and Nico needed training to survive monsters. They could get help at camp. She repeated the last word as a question. He told her Camp Half-Blood was a place where Half-Bloods learned to survive and they could come and stay year round. Nico cheered happy with the idea agreeing to go.

“Well that’s a change of pace from what we know,” Reyna told him. “You took a long time to agree to come to any camp.”

“A lot changed in between,” Nico said. “Like I told you guys I needed to figure some things out.”

Bianca told them to wait starting to say she wasn’t sure when Zoe interrupted saying she could have another option. Thalia shouted there wasn’t and they glared at each other.

“It was a good option,” Thalia agreed. “But I didn’t want to separate Nico and Bianca like I’d been separated from my family before.”

Artemis looked at them both saying they’ burdened the children enough. She ordered Zoe to start preparing to rest there for the bit. They’d get their things, raise the tents, and bandage any wounds. Zoe agreed and Artemis asked to speak to Bianca. Nico demanded to know what would happen to him. Artemis told him that Grover would be happy to do her a favor and learn Nico’s card game. Grover got up faster than should be possible and agreed dragging Nico along.

“I’m sorry I let her go with Artemis before finding out more,” Percy said. “I shouldn’t have immediately trusted a goddess. Even if Artemis is one of the ones I like most.”

Nico looked at him. “Bianca was dying for a way out. She had been for a long time.”

Thalia nodded. “We couldn’t have stopped her Percy. It was her choice. Like it was mine.”

Grover and Nico disappeared into the woods. Bianca and Artemis walked along the cliff. Zoe and Thalia glared at each other as Thalia started to complain about the hunters.

“I agree,” Percy grinned. “Such nerve.”

“They’re so bossy. So uptight,” Nico agreed.

Thalia glared at them both. “Shut up. Both of you.”

“We were just agreeing with you,” Nico said.

“Actually,” Percy said remembering what came next. “We probably shouldn’t say we agree with her.”

Percy said he agreed and didn’t trust them when Thalia spun on him asking how he was with here if he wasn’t thinking in the gym before going after Dr. Thorn by himself. Percy tried to answer but she continued saying that if they stuck together they could have taken Thorn without the hunters and without losing Annabeth.

Everyone turned to Thalia. She looked at Percy. “Oh zeus.”

She was cursing in several languages. Percy was giving her one of his harshest glares. She could see the storm in his eyes but then it started to turn slowly into calm green and blue like the ocean on it’s calmest day. Not before she thought she saw lightning flash through his eyes one more time. Annabeth was clutching him whispering to him calming him down. He didn’t seem to need it much because once the projection started to play again he calmed down.

Percy clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. But then the Yankees cap in the snow caught his eye. Thalia followed his gaze then wiped the tears off her face before stomping off. Percy was left alone.

“I’m here,” Annabeth reminded him. “You got me back Percy.”

And Percy just held her close as his face stayed emotionless all except his eyes which were green, blue and gray all at once. It was scary and unconsciously everyone except Annabeth leaned away from him as Percy struggled to gain his own control.

Chapter Text

Finally Percy took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize,” Thalia told him. “I went to far that day. I really would have done the same thing as you. I was angry too and I chose to take it out on you unlike your better decision to not go at me. You actually tried to stay calm.”

“It’s not just that I’m sorry for. Though thanks for the apology,” Percy told her. “The next part is my meeting with Bianca and Artemis. I hope the warning helps a little Nico.”

Nico turned away and Percy took another deep breath. Here it came.

The hunters were crowded around seven silver tents and there was a bonfire in the center. One of the girls played with white wolves and Falcons watched them from the tree. Percy was still clutching his shoulder a bit and he kept looking to the cliff. Thalia was at the opposite end of the camp staring at Westover hall.

“I was forgetting how much that hurt,” Percy said. “I was too distracted.”

“No kidding,” Grover said. “Your arm was turning different colors and you didn’t even notice.”

“It was green,” Nico agreed.

In that moment Nico and Grover returned as Grover started to bandage Percy up as Nico’s eyes widened and he said it was green with an awed happiness.

No need to sound so happy about it,” Will told him.

Nico rolled his eyes. “And this is why I call you my significant annoyance.”

“You know you love me.”

“Stop being so sure about that,” Nico told him. “Because it won’t be so true if you keep making annoying comments.”

“I think I learnt from the old master of them,” Will said pointing to the younger Nico in the projection.

Nico glared at him. Will just smiled back.

Grover told Percy to hold still and eat some ambrosia as she cleaned it out. Percy ate it and his arm started to look better.

Percy was making a pleased noise. “Ahh that was good ambrosia.”

“What’s it taste like?” asked Sadie.

“For me? Brownies. And my moms chocolate chip cookies are what Nectar tastes like.”

“You have a weakness for baked goods then,” Alex said.

“Yeah. But I can’t depend on Annabeth to make them,” Percy said.

“Hey!”

“Blue chocolate bricks,” Percy told her and she sighed rolling her eyes at him as he laughed.

Meanwhile Nico was going through his bag pulling out more figurines and cards. Percy commented on his collection of figurines. Nico said he had almost all of them with their cards except for a few. Percy asked if he had been playing it for a long time. Nico told him only that year before pausing with a strange expression. Percy asked him what was wrong and Nico told him he forgot.

“I hate that feeling,” Percy and Jason said together.

“I’m not sure it was the same thing” Nico said. “You two still had your memories. I didn’t.”

“It still sucks,” Percy said ignoring him.

“We can sympathize,” Jason agreed.

“My bro and I understand,” Percy agreed.

“All three of us understand our other bros,” Jason agreed.

“I hate this bromance,” Nico groaned.

Nico asked about Riptide and Percy showed him. Nico wanted to know if it ever ran out of Ink. Percy told him that he didn’t write with it.

“And it took five years for me to learn that it could,” Percy said. “But I’m not sure how long the ink will last.”

“It’ll last forever and the reason it took you five years is because you never figured it out,” Annabeth told him. “I did.”

Nico asked if he was really the son of Poseidon. Percy said he was. Nico wanted to know if he surfed really well then. Percy looked at him weirdly as Grover fell on his side trying not to laugh.

Everyone else had no such qualms. They were laughing hard and kept laughing. Nico was frowning and sent all of them a glare. None of them seemed to notice still laughing hard.

Percy told him he’d never really tried. Then Nico asked if Thalia was the daughter of Zeus and did they fight a lot. Percy ignored that so Nico continued asking if Annabeth was the daughter of Athena why didn’t Annabeth know better than to fall of a cliff. Percy’s face had turned red then and he’d started shaking.

Nico scooted away from Percy as he looked at him with the same death glare he’d given Thalia before. Annabeth looked at Nico. “It’s fine You were ten and had no clue what was going on. It was a good way to react. Percy wasn’t much better.”

Nico asked if Annabeth was his girlfriend next and Grover had to hold his arm back to make sure Percy didn’t do anything.

“See even little Nico spotted it before you two!” Grover said. “And I couldn’t say that then so you better let me say it now.”

“He’s right,” agreed Clarisse. “You two drove all of us crazy.”

“Even the people who have already been insane,” Chris agreed. Clarisse nudged him and he apologized but he didn’t seem to mean it.

Zoe came over then and said his name telling him to come with her because Artemis wanted to talk to him. Zoe led him to the tent where Bianca was sitting next to Artemis. A deer with silver horns was resting in Artemis’s lap. Artemis invited him to join them and he sat down. He was staring.

“Dude,” Apollo squawked. “Don’t stare at my sister.”

“I’m not…” Percy said. “I was just… She surprised me.”

Artemis asked if her age surprised him. He said a little. She told him she could be an adult, a fire or anything but she liked to be the same age as her huntresses. This was the age of girls before they fell in love with boys. Zoe then sat down next to Artemis and glared at him. Artemis asked him to forgive her hunters because they rarely had boys in this camp the last one to see it became a jackalope.

“She enjoys making Jackalopes?” Frank asked. “I’m glad she wasn’t so upset when we met her in Delos.”

“She was upset. But it’s only when men spy on her that they become different animals,” Apollo said.

The scene fast forwarded then. Artemis said she feared this was the answer.

”Wait what happened?” Hearth signed.

“Oh,” Percy said. “I just told her what happened with the manticore.”

Zoe asked her if this was the scent. Artemis agreed. Percy asked her what she meant. Artemis said things were coming back that hadn’t been seen for a million years. She said they’d come here for the manticore but that wasn’t what hey were looking for. She asked again what Thorn had said. Percy replied Thorn said he hated middle school dances.

Annabeth smacked him upside the head. “Really?”

“Sorry,” Percy said. “My mind was kind of occupied by like thirty other things at the moment.”

Artemis told him after that. He said that the general was going to explain something to him. Zoe started to speak before Artemis stopped her. She told Percy to continue and he said Thorn had talked about the great stir pot.

“Again,” Annabeth said. “Really Percy?”

He sighed. “ADHD remember. And don’t say it’s not the excuse. You’re the one who’s the daughter of Athena.”

Bianca corrected him it was a stirring. Percy continued that then he said they’d have the monster which would give them the power to take down Olympus. Artemis froze. Percy said maybe he was lying before Artemis said he wasn’t and she’d been too slow to realize and she had to hunt.

“What is this monster?” Reyna asked. “What could be so dangerous it could take down Olympus itself?”

“I can’t really tell you,” Thalia told her. “But it’s not the type of monster you’re thinking it is.”

Zoe nodded and said they would leave right away. Artemis told her she would do it alone but Zoe protested. Artemis cut her off saying it was to dangerous and she needed to start her search in a place to dangerous for the Hunters.

“What place?” asked Jason. “Not a lot is too dangerous for the hunters.”

“You’ll see and you’ll recognize it when you do,” Annabeth told him. “Just don’t react and spoil things for everyone else.”

Zoe nodded and told her she’d do as she wished. Artemis promised to find the creature by the winter solstice to convince the gods they were in danger. Percy asked if she knew what it was. Artemis said to pray she was wrong. Percy asked if goddesses could even pray.

“Figure of speech dude,” Will told him.

“Kind of realized.”

Artemis asked him to do something for her. He asked if it meant being turned into a jackalope. Artemis said sadly no.

“Maybe you’ll be as cute as a jackalope as you were a guinea pig,” Piper teased.

Percy kicked her and she just grinned.

She said she wanted him to take the hunters back to Camp so they could be safe until she came back. Zoe asked why because they hated the place and the last time they stayed there. Artemis interrupted saying Dionysus wouldn’t begrudge them for the fight they could use cabin eight whenever they needed it and the cabins they had burnt down before had already been rebuilt.

“Which cabins?” Leo felt the urge to ask suddenly.

“I wasn’t there. It was before most of us were born,” Thalia told him. “But it was the Aphrodite cabin and the Ares cabin.”

“Makes sense,” Piper said. “I want to burn my cabin down sometimes.”

Zoe muttered about foolish campers while Artemis turned to Bianca and asked if she had made her decision. Bianca said she was still thinking. Percy asked about what. She told him to join the hunt. Percy said she couldn’t saying she should come to Camp so she could train with Chiron to survive. Zoe pointed out it was the only way for a girl.

“We should have more choices,” Percy decided. “There’s kids who can’t come to camp. Kids who need other type of training. There should be more options for everyone.”

“There’s New Rome,” Hazel told him.

“Still not enough,” Percy said.

“Why don’t we wait to figure out why we’re here for the fates first?” Annabeth suggested to him.

Percy said that camp was cool. They had a Pegasus stable and sword fighting and what did the hunters give her. Zoe told him immortality.

“You will live forever? Like a god” ZIa asked Thalia.

“Not exactly,” she told her. “I can still get hurt in battle. My immortality can be taken away if Aretmis thinks I’ve betrayed her or the hunt. But I’m stronger then a normal person and healthier. And yeah I’ll live forever if I’m not killed “

There was silence. No one really seemed to be sure as to what to think about that. Not a word was said but everyone was looking at Thalia.

Percy asked if she was kidding. Artemis said Zoe rarely kidded. The hunters needed to be immortal to be her companion and sisters in arms. Once they swore loyalty to Artemis they were immortal until they died in battle or broke their oath. Percy asked what oath. Artemis said to never fall in love and be a maiden and never grow up. Percy asked if he meant like her. She nodded.

“That’s actually insane,” Sadie said. “I mean I understand it. But I can’t either. It’s just a lot.”

“It’s hard to process. But Magnus, Alex and possibly even Samira will be the same way. And Grover, Juniper, Hearth, Blitz, Tyson and Ella will live a lot longer than most of us,” Thalia said. “So yeah it sounds insane. But it’s true.”

Percy asked if they went around the country recruiting half-bloods. Zoe told him not just half bloods. Anyone who was loyal to Artemis could join. Half-bloods, nymphs, mortals and others. Percy asked which she was. Zoe told him that it was none of his business and Bianca needed to make her own decision.

Percy looked down knowing that was true.

Percy asked about her brother because Nico couldn’t be a hunter. Artemis agreed saying he’d go to camp that was the best a boy like him could do. Percy protested. Artemis ignored him telling Bianca she could still see Nico from time to time but she’d be free of responsibility and Nico would have the camp counselors to take care of him. She would have a new family among the hunters. Bianca repeated that in a dreamy manner.

Nico looked at Percy who looked back at him. He mouthed a thanks for trying and Percy nodded. Nico let Will put his arms around him and tried to ignore all the pitying glances. He knew Bianca had hated all the responsibility. She’d been annoyed with him and he’d felt like a burden to her at times no matter how much she loved him. Bianca had needed to take her own path. And though Nico knew that he still felt like she abandoned him sometimes.

Percy told her she couldn’t do it because it was crazy. Bianca asked Zoe if it was worth it and Zoe agreed.

Percy couldn’t help but think Bianca was going in not realizing what she was doing. Zoe had gone to Artemis because her family had kicked her out and she had been scorned by love. Bianca still had a family. She still had a life outside the hunters. It was a very different situation. He didn’t blame Bianca yet either.

Bianca asked what she had to do. Zoe told her to repeat after her. She started to start the vow for the goddess and Bianca repeated it. Then she asked if that was it. Zoe told her Artemis had to accept it first. Artemis accepted it and the flames flickered. Bianca opened her eyes then saying she felt stronger. Zoe welcomed her as a sister. Artemis told her to remember her pledge because it was her life now.

Nico shook Will’s arms off him ignoring his questioning look. Percy gave him a similar look as he put his arm on Nico’s and nodded. “A little longer. Just hold on a little longer.”

“Okay.”

Percy looked upset and unable to do anything. Artemis turned to him telling him not to be upset saying both the Di Angelos would still see camp and Nico could stay if he chose. Artemis closed her eyes and said that her brother would be there soon she’d summon a ride from him.

“Yes!” Apollo cheered. “Finally. I come in all my blazing glory.”

“Blazing all right,” Percy agreed. “New England can attest to that.”

“That wasn’t my fault,” Apollo told him.

Thalia blushed.

Zoe told Bianca to follow her and Bianca got up but stopped in front of Percy. She told him she really wanted this.

“She did,” Nico agreed.

“She still left you,” Percy whispered to him. “And she might have wanted to be rid of responsibility but she still had one to you. So though I understand her I don’t think she thought her decision through.”

Percy asked Artemis if they were going to get a ride from her brother. Artemis agreed saying Bianca wasn’t the only one with an annoying younger brother it was time for him to meet her brother Apollo.

“Hey!” Apollo protested at once. “I’m the older one.”

“Sure,” Thalia rolled her eyes.

And as the attention was on the complaints of Apollo and his complaints Nico grabbed Percy’s arm so they could melt into the darkness. They appeared in the living room that belonged to all the boys here and Percy put his arms around Nico letting his younger cousin cry into his chest.

Chapter Text

Will had taken Percy’s place next to Annabeth and the two blonde’s were worrying over their boyfriends and exchanging glances. Annabeth and Will had often collaborated since Nico had started dating Will and stayed at Camp. Though they had worked together before now it was to keep their boyfriends from doing stupid stuff. It was a relationship she was coming to enjoy as no one understood what it was like to have a boyfriend of the big three, Greek big three, like Will.

Now with the rest of the big three children and several others they sat thinking about Percy and Nico. Mostly they were just surprised Nico had trusted Percy enough to let him come with him. But then again their relationship had gotten ten times better and they were close now, as close as Percy was with Thalia, Jason or even Hazel. Finally Annabeth drew a breath. “Why don’t we start without them?”

“Good idea!” Jason agreed with a forced smile.

“Nope!” Thalia said as the projection started to rise. She glared at it and her eyeliner made her electric blue eyes seem several times stronger. “Let’s skip this scene. Why don’t we just move on to when we get to camp?”

“No!” Apollo protested. He waved his hands at her and tried to glare her down unsuccessfully. “We need to see me in all my glory! Plus the fates said they have to show us things that are important. So we couldn’t skip it.”

“He’s right,” Grover pointed out. “The rest of us need to suffer this humiliation so do you.”

Thalia groaned and threw her arms up but then slumped in defeat. “Fine.”

The hunters, Artemis and the other half-bloods were standing together at the cliffs edge. Percy looked at Artemis when the sky began to turn pink. She was rolling her eyes saying he was so lazy in the winter.

“Hey!” Apollo protested. “I could say the same thing about her in summer. She’s out hunting with her hunters the whole time leaving me longer shifts and less time to chill at the beach and with the ladies.”

“That’s a good thing,” Thalia told him.

Apollo glared at her again.

Percy asked if she was waiting for sunrise. Artemis agreed she was waiting for her brother. Percy looked at the sunrise confused and Artemis told him it wasn’t like he thought. Percy sighed and nodded in relief saying okay it wasn’t like Apollo would pull up in… that thought was interrupted by a bright light approaching. Artemis told them not to look until he parked.

Barely any of them heard that last though because Apollo was cheering so loudly for himself. Then Calypso and Thalia shared looks before elbowing him together. He squawked in pain letting the projection continue.

All of them hid their faces in their hands the snow around them melted away and the light dimmed to let them see a bright red convertible Maserati with a sandy blonde and tanned boy in his late teens standing there. He was smiling and in a shirt with the sleeves ripped off and jeans.

Percy walked back in at that moment and looked at the projection. “It is so unfair you had to pull up with that car! I mean a Spyder!”

“It’s a good car,” Leo agreed.

“Fast,” Chris nodded.

“The red is cool,” Frank nodded.

“That’s why I use it. To make everyone jealous!” Apollo smiled. “Not that everyone’s not already jealous of me. It worked didn’t it.”

“Yeah,” Percy agreed. “Because that was my dream car for several years.”

“Hold up on the car discussion for a moment!” Will said looking at Percy. “Where’s Nico?”

“Asleep. He’s resting on the couch in the boys area. I’d leave him alone for a bit. He’ll come back in if he feels he’s ready when he wakes up. But he’s probably not going to for a while. You ever heard his saying?”

“The Spiderman ripoff?” Thalia and Jason asked as Will shook his head.

Hazel nodded. “Let him sleep. You can check in on him soon.”

Will sighed and sat back down as the projection started again. Then Thalia got up and shouted. “Skip it! Skip it!”

Percy looked at Grover and both fell back laughing. “No way. Everyone has too see this.”

“The fates are evil. This isn’t necessary.”

“It is,” Grover told her.

Thalia commented that Apollo was hot.

Half of the room stared at her while the other half fell back laughing. Apollo was winking at her as Thalia grimaced. Jason looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “You know he’s technically our half brother?”

“Shut up.”

Thalia’s other younger sibling, adoptive that is joined in. She looked at Percy then Will and back at Thalia with a grin. “You know the Greek Big three kids all have a thing for blondes?”

“Yeah,” Percy and Thalia said together. “We’ve noticed.”

“And it wasn’t just Apollo,” Annabeth shared before Thalia sent her another murder glare. Percy stiffened as well and looked at Annabeth who stopped knowing she’d crossed a line.

Then they were all distracted by Sadie who looked at her. “What happened to being an eternal maiden? Aren’t you one of those hunters now?”

“Even the hunters think people are attractive. Our choice is not to act on it and let it take us over,” Thalia said. “But I can still appreciate a hot guy.”

“Call me anytime,” Apollo grinned at her.

“You guys are half siblings,” Percy said. “So don’t.”

Percy looked at her strangely and told her Apollo was the sun god. Thalia said that wasn’t what she had meant.

“That’s what I was hoping you meant,” Percy corrected his past self. “I mean I’m straight so I wasn’t going to discuss hot guys with you.”

Annabeth told him to shut up with Thalia this time. He did.

Apollo grinned at Artemis calling her little sister and told her she never got in touch with him and he got worried. Artemis told him she was fine and she wasn’t his little sister. Apollo argued he was born first.

“No you weren’t.” Everyone said this together having realized he wasn’t the elder of the two from the first moment.

“I so am. And that gives me the right to worry too,” Apollo complained. “Artemis is so annoying about it. She’s my sister and she won’t even tell me how she’s doing.”

“She worries about you too,” Thalia told him. “Especially now.”

Apollo’s grin brightened considerably then and he shut up for a bit.

Artemis started to tell him she wasn’t going to argue again and that they were twins but Apollo interrupted asking what was up and if they needed archery tips. Artemis clenched her jaw and asked him to take them to Camp so she could hunt alone. Apollo grinned saying he felt a haiku coming.

Most of the greeks groaned then. The loudest being Thalia, Percy, Calypso and Leo. Leo looked at Apollo annoyed. “I thought I never shut up but Calypso was about to kill him when he started with the poems.”

Apollo laughed. “It’s fine. Not everyone can appreciate true art.”

Everyone groaned again.

Apollo said his Haiku ending it with ‘I am so cool.’ Artemis told him the last line was only four syllables. Apollo seemed confused and Artemis suggested he use ‘I am so-big headed’ instead. Apollo told her that was six syllables as Zoe explained Apollo had been stuck in his Haiku phase for a while but the Limericks had been worse.

“You know what?” Percy said suddenly. “I remember who Artemis and Apollo remind me of.”

“No one. We’re the awesomest people out there,” Apollo said.

“Carter and Sadie sound like that when they fight,” Percy said ignoring him. Apollo sulked as Annabeth also pointed out that awesomest wasn’t a word.

Meanwhile everyone else was looking at Carter and Sadie who were protesting. Then Walt nodded. “He’s right.”

“You’re my boyfriend,” Sadie complained. “You’re supposed to agree with me on this.”

“He doesn’t have to agree with you on everything,” Carter told her.

“It’s in his job description.”

“You really do think the whole world revolves around you,” Carter muttered. Sadie glared at him and huffed crossing her arms.

“Yeah,” Thalia said. “ I see it.”

Apollo suddenly snapped saying he had it. ‘I am so awesome!’ He then looked at his sister and said he’d give the transportation. Artemis pointed to the demigods and said they’d also need transportation. Apollo looked at them and pointed to Thalia saying he’d heard of her. She blushed greeting him. Apollo said she was his half sister and he really hated it when pretty girls turned into trees. Artemis disrupted him and said they should get going when Apollo turned to Percy and Percy returned with a yes sir.

“Sir?” asked Annabeth.

“I didn’t want to tick him off,” Percy told her fidgeting with Riptide in his hand. He tapped it against his leg and looked back up at her.

“You don’t usually care much,” Annabeth said.

“Not at all,” agreed Frank. “It’s scary.”

Percy shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought Apollo and Artemis deserved respect. And I was right. They’ve been more help to me and other demigods then most of the others.”

No one replied and the projection continued.

Apollo met Percy’s gaze. His blue eyes shimmered with sun light as he studied Percy. His expression flickered with something for a second before his expression became normal again.

“What was that?” Hearth signed.

“What was what?” Magnus asked reading Hearth’s signs with confusion. Everyone turned to them as Hearth pointed to Apollo and signed something.

“Why’s he pointing to me?” asked Apollo looking at Hearth’s finger with something akin to offense.

“Because he thinks something was weird with how you were looking at Percy,” Magnus said.

“Hey!”

“Not like that,” Percy said. “I’m pretty sure of that.”

Apollo nodded. “I wasn’t checking him out.” He then muttered the next part. “At least not then.”

Next to him Calypso blushed having heard him making Leo ask if she was okay. Apollo was continuing though. “I was having a glimmer of prophecy I think. I don’t really remember.”

“It was recognition,” Rachel said. “You realized Percy wasn’t a normal demigod then didn’t you. You saw his string was tied into something else.”

“Maybe,” Apollo said but he seemed like he agreed with that answer. Annabeth pulled out her paper to write this down on her list.

Apollo said they had to loud up. Nico told him his car was cool but they wouldn’t all fit. Apollo sighed saying he hated not using sports-car mode and clicked the alarm button on his key when the Maserati turned into a shuttle bus.

“So your sun chariot is the magic school bus?” Piper asked amused.

“The what?” Apollo asked.

“It is,” agreed Sam with a nod and an amused smile.

He told everyone to get in and tried to flirt with Zoe as she did. Artemis scolded him and he held his hands up in surrender saying he forgot. Then he looked at his sister suspiciously asking where she was going. She told him it wasn’t his business where she went hunting. Apollo told her he’d find out. He saw everything and knew everything.

“Not everything,” Rachel told him. “Everything that’s happening right now with the triumvirate and this whole place,” she said gesturing around her, “proves that.”

“Prophecy. They said I’d be the god of it but it still eludes me,” Apollo muttered.

Artemis snorted and told him to drop them off without messing around. He told her he never messed around. She rolled her eyes and told Zoe she was in charge before kneeling in the ground saying there was a lot of danger and the monster had to be found. Then she sprinted off.

“She found tracks?” asked Alex. “She’s going to find the monster?”

“She couldn’t have found tracks,” Percy said confused. “I mean…”

“No. I don’t know what she was doing,” Thalia confirmed.

Apollo turned at them and asked who wanted to drive. The hunters all got in as far away from the drivers seat leaving the Campers. Nico jumped around asking if this was really the sun and how come he and Artemis were the sun and moon god instead of Helios and Selene.

Percy frowned. “I hadn’t really thought about that again. Not like I should have. They did the same thing as Pan didn’t they? They were titans though. Is that different?”

“Yeah,” Apollo said sadly. “Helios was a cool guy. But people were making me the gods of everything else and Artemis and I were twins too so it fell to us easily. As for the titans thing, well anything immortal can go that way.”

Percy nodded but looked contemplative.

Apollo explained it was Roman downsizing because they couldn’t afford temple sacrifices. They folded Helios and Selene’s jobs into Apollo’s and Artemis’s and though it used to be annoying it had cool perks like the car. Nico asked how that worked if the sun was a big fiery ball of gas. Apollo laughed ruffling the kid’s hair. He told him that was because Artemis used to call him a big fiery ball of gas.

Everyone laughed.

Apollo said it depended on astronomy or philosophy. Astronomy was no fun to talk about but what humans thought about the sun was interesting. They had everything riding on it. He explained the chariot was made of human dreams of the sun. It’s the way the mortals perceived the suns power. He asked if they understood. Nico said no.

“I still don’t,” Nico said.

“I don’t think most of us do. To be honest I barely do kid,” Apollo said.

Apollo said then they could just think of it as a powerful and strong solar car. Nico asked if he could drive. Apollo said he was too young. Grover raised his hand and Apollo said he was too furry.

“That’s not a valid reason,” Grover complained.

“It is to me,” Apollo said and Grover bleated as Juniper glared at Apollo.

Then he looked past Percy at Thalia and grinned.

 

Chapter Text

Nico walked back in then and sat down lying his head on Will’s shoulder. Will buried his face in Nico’s hair. “You okay?”

“What did I miss?”

“Just meeting Apollo. Thalia’s about to drive the sun car.”

Nico groaned as did Thalia and the attention turned from him to her. She glared at them all. “No one say anything.”

Apollo looked at Thalia saying as the Daughter of Zeus the lord of the sky she was perfect. Thalia shook her head saying no thanks. Apollo nudged her saying why not and asked how old she was. Thalia hesistated and said she didn’t know.

“You don’t know how old you are?” Zia asked her.

“I do know. Kind of. I’m physically still 15. As for how old I should be, well it’s close to 23. But if I had kept aging after the tree and not stopped it’d be like eighteen or nineteen.”

“That’s complicated,” Hazel said. “I thought I was bad.”

“You?” asked Jaz. “What do you mean?”

“It just gets worse,” Thalia said. “The aging thing I mean.”

Apollo put his finger to his lips. He told her she was fifteen almost sixteen. She asked how he knew. He told her it was because he was the god of Prophecy. He said she’d be sixteen in a week. Thalia exclaimed that December 22 was her birthday.

“Holiday season?” Will asked her.

“The demon days,” Carter and Sadie said together groaning. “I’m pretty sure this was around the same time we found out we were blood of the pharaohs.”

Apollo nodded saying Thalia was now old enough to drive with a learner’s permit. Thalia looked down at her feet. Apollo said he understood she didn’t think she was worthy of an honor like driving the sun chariot. Thalia said that wasn’t what she was going to say. Apollo told her not to worry Maine to Long Island was a short trip and she wouldn’t get shot out of the sky because she was Zeus’s daughter.

“Zeus doesn’t have to be the one to shoot her out of the sky,” Grover said. “She did that herself.”

Only the big three kids heard him. Thalia glared at him. “Not funny goat boy.”

“What does he mean?” Hazel asked.

“Oh,” Jason realized. “The sky…”

“Yeah.”

Thalia was shoved into the drivers seat as Apollo explained that speed meant heat. He told her to start slow and speed up once they had altitude. Thalia grimaced. Percy asked her what was wrong. She told him nothing was and pulled back on the wheel so the bus flew up so fast that Percy fell back into Grover.

“Sorry,” Thalia winced.

“You’re not really good at lying about that stuff,” Percy told her. “So apologize for your driving.”

“I was. That was the only thing I was apologizing for.”

Percy stuck his tongue out at her.

Grover groaned and Percy apologized as Apollo yelled for her to go slower. Thalia said she had it under control. Percy scotched forward and softly told her to loosen up on the speed. She snapped at him she had it. Percy repeated his advice. Thalia said she was loose.

“Yeah,” Jason told her. “Please listen to Percy’s advice.”

“He’s a good stunt driver,” agreed Apollo. “That trip to Camp was good. Next time he can drive the sun car.”

“Nope,” Percy said. “I’m not Zeus’s kid. He’ll have no trouble blasting me out of the sky.”

“C’mon,” Apollo said.

Percy ignored him again.

Apollo said they needed to go south to Long Island. He told her to turn left and Percy was thrown into Grover again as Apollo said the other left. Apollo and Percy both looked out the window again as they drove. Apollo told her to go down before Cape Cod froze over.

“That was you?” Magnus asked. “That winter and the crazy weather? I assumed it was the norse gods now. Or some Jotuns.”

“No,” Percy said. “That was Thalia’s driving.”

“Shut up,” Thalia growled.

Thalia tilted the wheel completely pale and sweating. They were heading down and Apollo was thrown to the back as Grover yelled at him to take the wheel.

“I was kind of unable to,” Apollo pointed out.

“Not the point,” Grover bleated.

Apollo told them not to worry but he didn’t sound confident. He told them Thalia just had to learn to.. then he was disrupted by fires burning next to them.

“You set fire to New England?” asked Sadie.

“Yeah,” Thalia mumbled embarrassed.

“Dad hasn’t taken anyone in the chariot again,” Will nodded.

“And we thought that had to do with the Demon days,” Zia said. “And the rise of Set.”

“No.”

Percy yelled for her to pull up. She yanked on the wheel and Percy held on as everyone was yanked back and the fires were suddenly put out. Thalia was muttering she was under control as Apollo told her that Long Island was dead ahead but that was only an expression so slow down.

Percy nodded looking a little green. “Please.”

“Already happened,” Thalia told him.

“Let me just enjoy my misery,”

“That’s oxymoronic,” Annabeth told him.

“You’re supposed to be on my side,” he complained.

“You’re being a seaweed brain.”

“You’re being a Wise girl.”

Finally they were over camp and Apollo told her to brake. She was still muttering. Apollo yelled it again and they slammed down into the lake making the Naids go flying away. The bus came to the service as Apollo smiled saying she did have everything under control. They just needed to check if they boiled anyone important.

Jason, Leo and Piper exchanged looks then laughed. And Thalia just sighed thinking this was a good way away from the attention. Percy looked at them all confused. “What’s so funny? I mean the whole thing was looking back on it but I mean…”

“That’s pretty much the same way we first arrived at Camp,” Jason said. “After monsters in the Grand Canyon, and interrogation by Annabeth and a flying chariot ride. One that was handled much better than the sun car.”

“We landed in the lake too,” Piper explained.

“So that’s what happened to my flying chariot?” Clarisse asked. “I never should have let Butch and the princess use it.”

Annabeth sighed. “Thanks again Clarisse. We never would have succeeded without you.”

“That’s better,” Clarisse said. “Now I need to eat before I pound you all to shreds again.”

“She won’t,” Chris assured them as Clarisse glared at him until he came and walked with her.

Thalia stayed behind for a moment as everyone else walked out except for Percy, Jason, Annabeth and Piper. Both girls looked at them questioningly. Jason smiled at Piper assuredly. “Go ahead.”

Annabeth exchanged glances with her then Thalia. “Thals?”

“I’m okay. Stop the worrying in that big brain of yours and go with Piper. I’ll send your pet boy in in a second.”

“Hey!” Percy protested as Annabeth hugged Thalia then left.

Thalia looked at both of them. “Thanks by the way.”

“For what?” Jason asked.

“Taking the focus off me when the sun car ride ended,” asked Thalia. “You too Percy. You still have to suffer all the attention though.”

“Not a problem,” Percy said. “But they’re going to find out.”

“That’s not what matters anymore,” Thalia said. “Thanks for delaying it though. Both of you. You’re the best family.”

“Let’s just try to remember that in a few chapters,” Percy told her.

“What’s that mean?” Jason asked as Thalia groaned.

“Just your sister and I are going to face off like in a cornfield in Kansas,” Percy told him. “So let’s go eat before that happens. I’ll need the energy.”

“More like the feeling of the full stomach,” Thalia teased shocking him.

 

Chapter Text

They sat back down forty minutes later and every pretended not to notice when Nico and Will disappeared for half of lunch. Sitting back down the projection started with Percy, Thalia and Nico on the porch of the big house with Mr. D and Chiron.

“Wait, what happened to Apollo?” asked Magnus.

“I left. I had sun duties to take care of,” Apollo told him in a bored tone he seemed to think Magnus was asking a stupid question.

“We let the hunters go to Cabin 8 and went to tell Chiron what happened,” explained Percy.

Chiron looked at them happily. He exclaimed Percy and Thalia’s name and Percy introduced Nico. Chiron sighed in relief saying they had done it. Percy hesistated and Chiron’s smile melted asking where Annabeth was.

“Oh Chiron,” Annabeth said. The centaur had raised her as a year-round camper and the youngest at Camp for at least three or four years. He was a father when her own wasn’t sure how to be one.

“You and Percy are his favorites,” Piper said.

“That’s not true,” Percy said.

“Nah,” Leo said. “It is. The old horse’s office is plastered with pictures of you guys. Barely any of the rest of us compared to you. You’re his biggest successes.”

“Plus he didn’t really train me,” Thalia said.

“Or me,” Jason and Nico agreed.

The rest of the seven nodded. Clarisse snorted. “C’mon. Prissy and his princess are everyone’s favorites.”

Percy blushed and Annabeth looked down. Both mumbled protests but no one paid them heed.

Mr. D said sarcastically this was a disaster they had lost another. Percy glared at him murderously and Chiron quickly disrupted saying that Nico should see the orientation film. Nico asked if it was G or Pg because Bianca was strict about it. He happily went when Nico said it was rated Pg-13.

Nico groaned. “It should be rated shield your eyes and run.”

Percy nodded as did several other campers.

“I haven’t seen it,” Piper said.

“You should,” Apollo said. “It’s my greatest masterpiece.”

“It’s a 1950s horrible talent show,” Percy said. “Nico turned out to be one of the only campers who saw it and the Stolls broke into Chiron’s office so we could watch it. Biggest mistake we made.”

“We remedied that though,” Annabeth said. “We wrote a guide with different campers help. It’s published under a mist cover.”

“But never watch the orientation film,” Will said.

“Ever,” Nico agreed looking paler than usual.

Chiron turned back to Percy and Thalia and asked for the whole story. The scene skipped to him turning to Mr. D saying they needed a search party for Annabeth immediately. Thalia and Percy volunteered together at once.

“Thanks guys,” Annabeth told them.

Percy hugged her close as Thalia nodded with a wink.

Mr. D told them they couldn’t go after Annie Bell when Percy snapped and told him her name was Annabeth.

“You’ve gone to camp most of your life,” Percy snarled. “He knows your name. He shouldn’t pretend he doesn’t.”

“It’s fine Percy.”

“It’s not.”

“Take a breath okay,” Annabeth told him. “I’m here. Not captured or gone.”

“Right. You’re here.”

Mr. D said they had a small annoying boy now to replace her and we shouldn’t risk more people to save her especially because she might be dead. Chiron disagreed saying she could be alive. She was smart and she might pretend to cooperate to stay alive. Thalia said Luke would want her alive and Mr. D said then should would be smart enough to escape on her own. Percy got up angrily.

“Percy,” Annabeth said warningly.

“He shouldn’t have said it,” Percy yelled.

“No. But you know how to handle yourself,” Annabeth reminded him.

“Not without you.”

Annabeth sighed. “I’m here Percy. But please just control yourself. For a bit.”

Chiron said his name warningly. Percy was yelling now that Dionysus was happy to lose a camper. He’d be happy if they all disappeared. Mr. D sighed asking what his point was. Percy said that he couldn’t be a lazy jerk because he was punished and he needed to try helping them.

There was silence. Then everyone looked at Percy. He glared them all down not his fiercest but they all still shivered a little. Reyna looked at him amazed. The boy always seemed to say what he wanted to the gods but this was a different level then she had already seen. This time Percy was mad. Really mad.

Then Mr. D’s eyes glowed and he opened his mouth when Nico and Grover burst in. Nico was yelling looking at Chiron saying he was a centaur then he turned to Mr. D and asked if he was the Wine Dude totally wowed.

“The Wine Dude?” Will asked him.

“Is that where you got it from?” Jason asked Percy remembering their trip to see Bacchus in Kansas. On the way Percy had complained about the Wine Dude.

“Yeah. Mr. D actually doesn’t hate Nico for that,” Percy said. “Where as I love him for it. Thanks for saving my life again.”

Nico shrugged. “Didn’t even know I did.”

Mr. D looked at Nico amused and loathingly repeated the above nickname. Nico said his name in awe and said he had his figurine. Dionysus repeated that again. Nico explained in his game that Dionysus only had five hundred attack points but he thought he was amazing and better not lame. Mr. D was confused and responded that was a compliment.

“He does have cool powers,” Chris agreed. “Nico’s right. Dionysus definitely isn’t the lamest.”

“Hel no, especially if he’s the wine god,” Alex grinned jokingly.

“He’s also the god of anyone who’s unsure of their gender. He was raised having to pretend he was a girl to escape Hera’s wrath. He’s the god of several other things too, including insanity and etc,” Annabeth explained.

“Which makes him a thousand times cooler,” Alex decided. “He’s my new favorite.”

Percy who had calmed down nodded. “He’s better than others. I don’t really have problems with him anymore. He cares about his kids more than most. And he cares about us too. Somehow I think. He was a demigod, a mortal once too.”

“The only Olympian who was,” agreed Apollo.

Chiron pulled Percy over for a second as Dionysus was distracted and told him their would be a capture the flag game tomorrow. Percy said there wasn’t enough people and Chiron explained it was a friendly match whenever the hunters visit.

“Friendly,” Percy and Thalia scoffed together.

“But it is,” Jason said.

“Now. And now there’s more of a challenge because we have big three kids,” Annabeth explained. “But the other time I met the hunters at Camp. Before Thalia… well then it was a lot different.”

“And this match definitely wasn’t friendly,” agreed Grover.

Thalia muttered it was real friendly sarcastically. Then Chiron told them to go making sure Mr. D was still distracted. Thalia dragged Percy out saying he didn’t need another immortal enemy besides Ares.

“That’s really not going to stop him,” Frank said. “I mean Percy is like…”

“Right here,” Percy said.

Grover nodded at Frank. “Percy’s always been there to say what he wants to the gods no matter how many enemies he makes. We’re not sure why they haven’t killed him yet.”

No one heard Apollo mutter looking at Percy who was still wearing a brooding stormy expression his eyes grayer and darker than usual as he held Annabeth close. “Because we’re too scared too.”

Percy apologized saying he couldn’t help himself it was unfair. Thalia agreed saying sometimes she wished that… then trailed off. Percy looked at her his eyes became calmer and somehow fiercer. They were bright with determination now. A clear sea blue that was see through but not. He told her they would get Annabeth back.

“I always have and always will, “ Percy said promising himself. Annabeth couldn’t help but tense thinking what that could mean. But she kissed his cheek all the same.

Thalia sighed assaying first she found out she found Luke then Annabeth. Then she gained the same determined position as Percy saying they’d find a way. Percy would go tell everyone about capture the Flag. Percy nodded before saying her name. She looked over. He apologized for not waiting for them at Westover Hall. Thalia sighed. She said she would do the same thing.

“Most of us would have,” she admitted. “You didn’t need to apologize when I was the one who yelled at you for no good reason.”

“It’s okay Thalia,” Percy told her gripping her arm for the next part.

Thalia continued saying she had snapped about him before for asking about her mom because she had found out what happened after she ran away. She told him her mom drank and was driving before trailing off.

Jason grimaced. His mom didn’t haunt him as much anymore but he knew her ghost still bothered Thalia and himself with possibilities and regrets. He held Thalia’s hand and they gripped each other hiding their tears as they fell from electric blue eyes at the same time.

Percy said he was sorry and Thalia waved it off saying they hadn’t been close. She ran when she was ten and the best two years of her life were with Luke and Annabeth.

“Actually two out of the best four before then,” she whispered. “The other two were the ones where I could take care of you.”

Jason smiled at her sadly and she sighed. “Come here.”

He hugged her and she wrapped her arms around her taller brother. Percy smiled at them before Jason pulled him and Nico in too. Hazel was pulled in by both the boys then. Jason looked at his sisters and cousins. “I didn’t have mom but I have a family right here.”

“Always,” Percy nodded. “Which reminds me. Mom wanted you all over soon. You know how she is.”

“Yes!” Jason grinned. “More of Aunt Sally’s cookies!”

“Can I help her bake?” Hazel asked this time.

“As long as you’re better than Thalia at it,” Nico told her. “Aunt Sally said it was fine and Thalia made a mess of everything. You haven’t met her yet have you? You’ll like her.”

“She’s the best,” Percy affirmed.

Nico nodded. “She reminds me of my mom sometimes. Percy is lucky he has her. Which might be some of his only luck that held.”

“So true,” the rest of them agreed.

The scene skipped again. Percy was in cabin three now. He took Annabeth’s baseball cap from his back pack and held it for a second before putting it on his nightstand before turning surprised. There was a fountain there. Percy looked at the water and smiled saying thanks to his dad.

“He gave you a gift?” asked Reyna surprised.

“Dad is good that way. He gives me the gifts I don’t know I need. Some of the most useful. This one came in handy the next summer before I broke it.”

“Percy smashed the water fountain,” agreed Tyson. “It broke.”

Nico winced recognizing why. “Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Percy saw the drachmas. Then he took one and made an offering to Iris. He paused then askef for Tyson at the Cyclops forges. A bright fiery orange appeared before Percy as he yelled Tyson’s name.

“Yay! Brother used Daddy’s present to call me,” Tyson grinned.

“The Cyclops forges,” Ella said proudly. “Tyson is a good worker.”

Percy yelled his name again. Tyosn turned and grinned yelling Percy’s name trying to give him a hug.

Everyone laughed.

Percy had to remind him he wasn’t there before they started to discuss the job. Tyson showed Percy a sword he made before Percy asked if he talked to their dad. Tyson said no because their dad was worried about the war. Percy asked what he meant. Tyson explained old sea spirits were making issues. Percy asked what he could do and Tyson told him they were protecting the Princess Andromeda from Poseidon.

“Daddy would be good at smashing it,” Tyson agreed with his past self and Percy.

Tyson then paused and asked if Annabeth was there. Percy frowned for a second before telling him she wasn’t there right now. Tyson grinned and told him to say hi to her.

“Oh,” Tyson said suddenly. “Annabeth wasn’t there. Percy couldn’t say hello to Annabeth. Sorry Percy.”

“It’s okay,” Percy told him. “Plus we rescued Annabeth and you got to say hello to her that summer.”

“I did,” Tyson nodded. “Annabeth took me with her on her quest.”

Tyson told him he had to get back to work before the boss got mad. He wished Percy luck and Percy nodded and tired to tell him to tell their dad something but the iris message dissolved. Percy was left alone.

“What did you want to say?” asked Rachel curiously.

“I don’t remember,” Percy shrugged.

The scene rose again and it was what they recognized as a dream. Annabeth was on a hill. She was surrounded by black broken columns and was yelling for Thorn wondering why she was brought there. She ran forward and gasped seeing Luke unable to stand. The fog was surrounding him and pressing down on him.

“What’s happening to him?” asked Samira. “It looks like the Ginnunuamgap.”

“The what?” Percy asked.

“Nothing. But what is on him?” she repeated.

“The weight of the sky. Annabeth is on Mt. Othyrs where Atlas hold the sky up,” explained Reyna.

Annabeth ran forward as he called for help. Percy was in a misty form behind her she obviously couldn’t see but though his lips were moving they couldn’t hear his voice. They could tell he was warning her but she reached down to Luke’s face before drawing back to ask what happened. Luke said he had been left there and it was killing him.

“That’s a lie,” Hazel yelled. “He’s tricking her.”

“I know,” Frank soothed her. “Annabeth is here. She’s fine.”

Annabeth asked why she should trust him and Luke said she shouldn’t because he’d been horrible but he’d die if she didn’t help him. Then the sky and rock above them began crumbling. Annabeth knelt next to Luke and grabbed it. It stopped crumbling. Luke rolled free gasping thanks.

“How is that possible?” Magnus aske.d “She shouldn’t be able to hold it. Not like that.”

“I don’t know,” Annabeth said. “It just is.”

Annabeth begged for him to help her hold it. Luke caught his breath saying he knew he could count on her before walking away. She yelled for help as Luke said it was coming. It was part of the plan. He told her to try not to die meanwhile. Then the scene collapsed.

Percy held Annabeth as she cried a bit. “That wasn’t Luke. It wasn’t.”

“I know Annabeth,” Percy told her. “I know.”

Thalia was staring at shock growling and got up and stormed off. They could hear a yell of rage and a small explosion. And it felt like the dark mist was around them here and the weight of the sky was still crushing them.

 

The scene rose again a moment later with Percy saying he needed to talk to Zoe.

“Wait,” asked Piper. “What did we miss?”

“I told Grover about my dream and he admitted to stalking the hunters and staying outside their cabin. Zoe had a dream about Artemis and got Chiron up. You know he wears tail curlers?”

‘Tail curlers?’ mouthed Leo before cracking up.

“Anyway she dreamed Artemis had been ‘lost’ meaning kidnapped. So that’s why I said I needed to talk to her.”

“Okay,” agreed Piper. “Makes sense.”

Grover told him to wait and took out a brochure. He said Percy was right about it being weird the hunters suddenly showed up. He said they might have been scouting us. Percy asked what that meant.

Percy and Annabeth suddenly let go of each other. Both stiffened. Then Jason looked at his sister. “They were scouting you? You seemed to hate them.”

“Right.”

Grover gave Percy the brochure and they could see pictures of the hunters and lots of propaganda. Grover told him that was in Annabeth’s backpack.

“What?” That was the general outburst from everyone in the room. Annabeth looked down.

“You were going to join the hunters?” asked Clarisse. “C’mon those bow shooting girls are…”

“Don’t go there,” Thalia said.

“But Annabeth in the hunters,” Piper said. “I mean that means Percy without Annabeth. Annabeth without Percy.”

“It’s kind of unthinkable,” Jaz agreed. “And I’ve only known them for a few days.”

Annnabeth sighed. “It wasn’t a serious consideration.”

“Yeah,” Percy said. “Thank the gods for that.”

Percy told Grover he didn’t understand. Grover explained that Annabeth probably wanted to join the hunters. Percy crumpled up the brochure and threw it to the ground stomping on it on his way out.

Everyone looked at Percy who had moved away from everyone. Annabeth looked at him pleadingly but he glared at her and ignored Grover’s attempts on their empathy link. Then Rachel looked at Calypso then at him. “You’re an idiot.”

“What?” Percy said surprised.

“Another year and a half. After the whole drama with at least two other girls and you already knew you liked her. What kind of oblivious idiot are you?”

“I didn’t think she like me,” Percy told them. “She was going to join the hunters. I’d never see her again.”

“Idiot,” Rachel repeated. “I know your first kiss wasn’t um…. Well…. So it was Annabeth. You two liked each other and thought the others didn’t. Both of your are oblivious idiots.”

“Thank you!” Grover bleated.

Juniper looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “I wouldn’t talk.”

Quick scenes played. A distracted Percy throwing a Javelin while a camper was still in the way. Percy turning from the Pegasus stables. Then he was running up to the big house. He ran into the attic and up the trap door.

“Percy,” Annabeth gasped. She knew Percy. He’d always felt the same about prophecies and the Oracle. Especially when it was a mummy up in the attic before he turned sixteen. “You…”

“Yeah,” Percy said. He looked down embarrassed and then back up at the projection with terrified and angry eyes.

“You hate the Oracle,” Apollo said. “You visited it.”

“I needed to save Annabeth,” Percy said hugging her close. “There was no choice.”

Percy walked up to the oracle and waited for a minute. He asked what was up. Then another moment of silence. He said he had a question and asked how he could save Annabeth.

Annabeth gripped his hand. “Thank you.”

Percy just kissed her.

Percy said he’d figure it out himself suddenly angry and turned bumping into a table. Things clattered and Percy picked one up reading it out loud. The scarf of Aphrodite recovered by Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase. Percy dropped it and ran.

“Seems like you could have used some love magic right then,” Piper grinned.

Percy smirked and laughed. “Maybe just a little help.”

“A lot of it,” Annabeth told him. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

Chapter Text

When people had finished laughing and Percy and Annabeth had finished blushing and being upset they sat back down. Percy was still a bit separated from everyone but he was sitting back in the same area without to much reluctance. Then when Thalia sat back down nearby Grover paused. “Maybe you two should move.”

“Oh,” Thalia said. “Right.”

Percy snorted. “Right. I’ll just go.”

Percy moved away from everyone again leaving most of his friends and especially Annabeth concerned. She threw glances his way but he was looking stormily down at the floor.

Thalia and Percy were sitting together. Thalia told him she would take the offense and he the defense. Percy stopped for a second with an open mouth. He asked if she would be better with it because she had her shield. Thalia’s eyes glimmered saying it was better offense and he had more practice at defense.

“Okay that was cruel,” decided Piper. “I mean his offense experience. You’re talking about his first capture the flag game right?”

“Yeah,” Thalia said. “It was a bit mean.”

Percy told her it was no problem and Thalia left. Nico ran up saying this was all awesome. His armor was way to big for him and he lifted his sword stumbling. He asked if they could kill the other team. Percy told him no. Nico noted the Hunters were immortal. Percy pointed out that was only if they fell in battle but Nico interrupted that it would be awesome if they resurrected as soon as they died so they could just keep fighting.

There was more laughter as Nico blushed. Then Will looked at him. “Though that might be cool that’s pretty much the same thing as a monster.”

“Yeah.”

“I just hoped you realized that.”

“I do now.”

Percy pointed out this was serious and someone could actually get hurt. Nico gave him a disappointed look and Percy paused with a look of surprise and stopped. He patted Nico non the shoulder and told him to follow the team and stay out of Zoe’s way.

“I’m really hoping your first capture the flag game went better than Percy’s,” Jason said.

“A lot better,” Nico agreed. “At least for me.”

“For you?” asked Walt. “So what does that mean for Percy?”

Nico just looked at him dumbly.

The scene skipped. Percy and Thalia were giving out orders. Thalia sent Silena with a decoy to the left. Then she asked if Percy had anything to add. Percy said to keep sharp on defense and Thalia told them not to leave their post. Percy said it was unless they saw a golden opportunity. Thalia told them to keep their post again and when Percy tried to argue she shocked him.

“Argh,” he yelled.

Thalia apologized not meaning it asking if everything was all clear. Everyone nodded and separated. Percy climbed Zeus’s fist. He watched Hunters racing towards the right. The direction Thalia said she would go in. Nico tried climbing up next to him. Percy’s eyes were flickering across the woods. Nico asked what was happening.

“Percy’s planning something,” Annabeth said.

“Percy?” asked Leo, Piper, Jason and a few others. Annabeth had done most the planning on their class with the Argo II.

“Percy’s quick on his feet with plans. You havne’t noticed because a lot of them haven’t worked out. But he’s good.”

“Not as good as a child of Athena,” Percy told her.

“Right. Because Athena always has a plan,” she grinned back.

Percy asked Beckendorf to hold the fort. Beckendorf agreed and Nico cheered with the Stolls as Percy ran in. He leapt over the creek and saw the one guard. Percy ran to it and the guard turned it was Bianca Di Angelo. Percy slammed into her and yelled sorry as she fell into the snow.

“It’s a game of war,” exclaimed Clarisse. “You don’t apologize.”

Percy just rolled his eyes at her.

He grabbed the flag and was half way back when Bianca yelled for help. Percy was shot at with a trip wire. He fell into the snow. Thalia’s voice just asked what he was doing. Then something of yellow smoke exploded around her and all they could hear was her yelling fart arrows were unsporsmanlike.

Percy gagged at the smell. “Those are the worst.”

Percy was running again. Arrows rushed past him and a hunter came at him with her knife. He parried and knocked her down. Then Beckendorf and Nico rushed past Percy chasing Zoe Nightshade who had their flag. Percy yelled and ran when Zoe ran across to her own side. Then Chiron arrived and announced the Hunters had won for the fifty-sixth time in the row.

“Not anymore,” Annabeth grinned.

Clarisse nodded. “Camp Half-Blood has been catching up. We’ll win again next time.”

Then Thalia arrived blue sparks flying off her. She had her shield up and everyone flew away in fear. She yelled asking what he was thinking. Percy stepped forward with clenched fists. He shook the flag in her face saying he had it. He too the chance and he took it. Thalia yelled back she was at their base but their was no flag there and they wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for Percy.

“You know that’s not true,” Percy growled. “You were going to make us lose. And now you’re yelling at me. You know what…”

Grover held him back as he got up with help from Jason, Carter and Walt who had moved over to help.

Percy explained she had too many people on her back. She looked at him asking if he was blaming her now. Percy said he didn’t say that. Thalia yelled with a groan. She pushed Percy back sending him backward ten feet with a sizzling noise. Hunters stifled laugh as campers gasped. Thalia turned pale and apologized saying she didn’t mean to.

Percy groaned. Then he growled. “That’s it.”

“Percy,” Annabeth yelled getting up. “No!”

He was standing up uncapping Riptide. His eyes were swirling again. His expression was angrier again. Brooding as usual but this time there was something even scarier than normal. Several people scrambled back and they could see his muscles clench.

Annabeth got in his way as he stormed forward and put a hand out stopping him. “Percy sit back down before you scare everyone. You aren’t yourself and you need to sit out and listen to me. Breathe. You don’t want anyone to be hurt.”

Percy collapsed on the floor. But his glare was still centered on Thalia. “Fine. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But if she hurts me, or does something like that again… I’m not making promises.”

Then a wave erupted from behind Percy moving in a swift fluid movement only hitting Thalia right in the face. He growled with a grim grin that he hadn’t meant to do it either. Chiron yelled it was enough. Thalia ignored him holding out her spear asking if the Seaweed Brain wanted some.

“You don’t get to call me that,” Percy snarled. “No one gets to call me that. No one but Annabeth. You hear me?”

Annabeth came and sat down next to him. “Only me Seaweed Brain. Okay? Just sit down.”

Percy yelled for the Pinecone Face to bring it on. He brought up Riptide but Thalia was already yelling and lightning went through her spear and to Percy’s chest. He sat down and he was burning.

“Ugh!” Percy yelled clutching his chest. He looked at Thalia with a murderous expression.

“Please Percy,” Annabeth told him. “You’ll scare everyone. Just sit for a moment. Keep calm.”

Percy took a breath and nodded.

Chiron yelled for her to stop. Meanwhile Percy got up and the entire creek rose behind him. It swirled up in an icy hurricane like cloud above all their heads. Everyone looked up wide eyed. Chiron pleaded for Percy to stop as he clenched his hands and looked at Thalia with the frozen water above his head.

“Percy,” Thalia said looking at him with wide-eyes.

“Not now.”

“That was a lot of power,” Jason told him.

“No it wasn’t.”

“It was for a fourteen year old.”

“Nico and Hazel are thirteen and fourteen. They’ve summoned armies of the dead, created things out of mist, survived so many more things.”

“That’s a whole creek Percy. A frozen one. And you were just shocked by lightning. It’s pretty impressive,” agreed Piper.

“It’s intimidating,” Blitz pointed out. “I’d be scared.”

“I was terrified. Percy could have beaten me easily,” Thalia said looking at him. He was still glaring at her but Annabeth’s arm was on his shoulder and it made it a bit easier for him to hold back.

“Let’s just move on with this,” Percy sighed.

Percy was glaring at Thalia when the creek splashed down behind him. Thalia spun to follow his gaze. Green mist and something shrouded was coming toward them. Chiron was looking at it. Saying it was impossible and she’d never left the attic. Ever.

“She shouldn’t even be able to move,” agreed Nico. “She’s a mummy. The spirit hasn’t done something like that.”

“It’s moved before though,” said Will. “We saw it.”

“When Percy came to camp,” agreed Calypso. “The oracle will move if it needs to say something.”

“Only something important,” Rachel told them.

No one moved as the oracle came forward. Everyone heard her announce she was the oracle of Delphi. The oracle looked at Percy for a moment before turning to Zoe.

“I didn’t notice that,” Thalia said. “That was it. Again.”

Annabeth was scribbling something down as Rachel came over and whispered something to her.

“That finalizes it,” Leo declared. “Somethings with Percy! All the prophecy people give him weird looks. Like the ones I got before…”

“So it was just for the first prophecy,” Percy shrugged. “Nothing else. Move on.”

The oracle turned to Zoe and told her to approach and ask. Zoe asked what she needed to do and an image of Artemis chained at the mountain appeared in the green mist. The oracle’s voice came telling them five people would go west to find the goddess in chains. Then that one would be lost in the land without rain.

Nico made a choking noise and fell onto Will’s shoulder.

The oracle continued to say that the bane of Olympus would show the trail and only together the Hunters or Campers would succeed. Someone would have to go under the Titan’s Curse and someone would die by a parent’s hand.

“That’s one of the scariest and saddest prophecies I’ve ever heard,” Jason said. “Even the prophecy of seven wasn’t that foreboding.”

“Yeah,” Percy shrugged. “Most of the prophecies I’ve heard or been involved in have been.”

“They just get worse,” Annabeth agreed.

Then the oracle sat down on a rock and froze again. The scene skipped and Grover and Percy were carrying the oracle up to the attic. They put her on the stool and ran out slamming the door as Grover declared that was gross. Percy was glaring at the doorway then he turned to Grover and asked what Chiron would do. Grover said he had no idea he wanted to be out there.

“And this is why you’re the bravest Satyr,” Juniper told him proudly. Grover blushed.

Percy asked if he meant searching for Annabeth. Grover blushed saying he meant that too. Percy asked angrily what he had been thinking. Grover said that what the manticore said about the Great Stirring made him wonder if one of those ancient powers wasn’t bad. Percy looked down and said he meant Pan.

“I’m sorry. I was a jerk,” Percy apologized to Grover.

Grover bleated. “No! You were worried about Annabeth. I should have been too. I was forgetting about her like a bad friend.”

“You both are idiots,” Annabeth declared throwing her hands up. “Vlacas! You both had the right priorties. Moving on…”

Grove said he let the trial go cold and he was missing something important. He knew Pan was out there somewhere. He could feel it. Percy opened his mouth but Thalia came up and looked at Grover saying to tell Percy to get down there. Percy asked why and Thalia asked if he had said something. Grover said he had asked why. And Thalia explained Mr. D called a cabin leader meeting and that included Percy unfortunately.

“Thalia,” Annabeth scolded. “Come on.”

“I know,” she sighed. “Sorry Percy. It was just as much my fault as it was yours and I was an…”

“So was I,” Percy told her. “We moved past this years ago. There’s no need to bring it all back.”

Chapter Text

“This is your war council?” Reyna asked with wide eyes. She looked at the scene appearing in front of her with awe and amusement. “Nothing like the senate. Are the Greeks always so informal? Even with the gods and what should be official?”

“Pretty much,” Percy said.

“No,” Annabeth disagreed. “That’s just you. We can be formal when we need to be Reyna. But we’re more individualist than the community and teamwork that the Romans have. It works though.”

They were sitting around a ping pong table and snacks appeared as Dionysus waved his hands so snacks appeared from cheez whiz to crackers. There was wine too but Chiron chided Mr. D and it turned into coke. No one touched anything. Zoe started off the meeting by saying this was all pointless. Meanwhile Grover grabbed the Cheez whiz and put some on a ping pong ball eating it.

“Goat boy,” Annabeth laughed fondly.

“Boys are so driven by their stomachs,” Thalia said wrinkling her nose.

“So are you,” Jason and Percy said together before grinning and high fiving.

Zoe explained there was no time to talk and the Hunters had to leave now because Artemis needed them. Chiron asked where they would go. Bianca told them west. She declared they’d take five hunters and go.

“Tell me if I’m wrong,” Carter interrupted confused. “But didn’t it say hunters and campers combined?”

“It did,” confirmed Magnus. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Zoe agreed that they had to go free Artemis. Thalia pointed out they were missing something saying they had to do it together. Zoe protested the hunters didn’t need thy help.

“Thy?” Sadie asked. “Even the gods don’t speak like that anymore. Neither does all those people who speak so weirdly proper. Like Zia.”

Zia raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

Thalia told her that no one said Thy anymore and they all said your. Zoe repeated her previous statement saying yerr help this time. Thalia told her to forget it. Chiron pointed out the prophecy said they did need help from camp. Mr. D asked if they did pointing out two people would die and cooperating might lead to failure.

“Who’s side is he on?” demanded Alex.

Chiron asked who’s side he’s on. Mr. D told him he was just trying to be helpful. Thalia told Zoe that she knew prophecies and couldn’t fight against one. Chiron pointed that that Friday was the solstice and it was Sunday now.

“That’s so short,” Magnus said. “I’ve never had a time limit like that.”

“Try three days,” Sadie challenged.

“A week, with bent time in magic places, so more like two or three days” Percy said. “But I’ve had a lot worse.”

“The Greek and Egyptian worlds care a lot more about time limits and auspicious dates then you norse,” explained Annabeth.

Zoe said Artemis had to be at the solstice. She was the most vocal about taking action about Kronos. She said the gods wouldn’t decide anything without Artemis. Dionysus asked if she was suggesting the gods had trouble acting together.

“Yes,” everyone said at once from any pantheon.

Zoe agreed. Mr. D told her he was just checking because she was right. Chiron agreed and said they had to decide now who was going on the quest. Percy spoke up and said Three and two. He looked down pausing. He told them they were supposed to five people so three hunters and two campers.

“That makes a lot of sense,” said Samira surprised.

“This is why he would have made a good praetor,” Reyna said proudly. “You have a lot of negotiation skill when you speak up.”

“A lot,” Annabeth agreed. “I wonder…”

“I think I know what you’re getting at,” said Piper. “Percy how’s your singing voice.”

“Um…” Percy said. “Why?”

“Because you have some singing relations. One with some powerful charmspeak. You might have some compelling powers in your voice,” Piper explained.

“The sirens?” Apollo asked. “No. Couldn’t be. That’s not a power of the children of Poseidon.”

“Percy’s not a normal son of Poseidon,” Annabeth pointed out. “We’ll test it later.”

Thalia said it made sense. Zoe argued said she would like to bring all the hunters they needed the strength of numbers. Chiron reminded her that they were retracing Artemis’s steps and moving fast so they couldn’t take all the hunters. Especially if they were chasing the monster. It would spoil the scent. Zoe asked what the monster could be because she could have no clue. Dionysus said he was a young god and didn’t know because it was bad party conversations.

“That’s a great excuse!” Thalia said sacrcastically.

Percy asked if Chiron had any idea. Chiron replied saying he had several ideas and none of them were good. Like Typhon or Keto. But they would already know if that was happening. Poseidon would have sounded the alarm already.

“I hate Keto,” Frank said.

“Her and Porky,” Percy growled clenching his fists. “I need to go back.”

“You’re right,” Frank said. “Maybe Tyson and Grover want to come.”

“Come where?”

“Save some magical creatures,” Percy grinned. “From an aquarium.”

Grover bleated. “I’m in.”

The scene skipped. Silena Beauregard was speaking up saying that two campers should go. Zoe asked if she wanted to volunteer. Silena said not to look at her to go with the Hunters. Zoe asked what Daughter of Aphrodite didn’t want to be looked at. SIlena started to get up to fight.

Piper grinned. “I see why I would have liked her now.”

“You guys would have loved each other,” agreed Percy. He looked down and played with a bead on his necklace. “Just like Leo would have loved Beckendorf.”

Beckendorf told them to stop it. He asked which hunters would go. Zoe said her and Phoebe. Travis asked if that was the big girl who liked to hit people on the head. Connor asked if she was the one who shot arrows into his helmet. Zoe said yes. Travis said they had a T-shirt for her from the camp store and asked Zoe to give it to her.

Every single half-blood who knew the Stolls groaned. Alex grinned. “Oh, that’s going to be an awesome prank.”

“So awesome,” agreed Percy sarcastically.

Zoe also said she wanted Bianca to go. Bianca said she was new and wouldn’t be good. Zoe told her it was the best way to prove herself. Chiron asked which campers. Grover immediately got up. Zoe said he wasn’t a half blood.

“Why should that matter?” Rachel asked. “The prophecy said Campers.”

“Because Grover is a boy,” Thalia explained.

Thalia said he was a camper and had Satyr senses and woodland magic. Grover said he could play a tracker’s song too. She agreed. Then Thalia insisted on being the second.

The room fell silent. Then Jason spoke up. “Um… Thalia…”

“I know Jason,” Thalia huffed at him.

“It worked out,” Percy told them all before anyone could get to upset.

“It did,” Annabeth agreed kissing his cheek as he stroked circles on the back of her hand.

Percy told them to hold up saying he wanted to go too. Chiron looked at him then looked down. Grover opened his mouth in an oh. He then said he forgot and that Percy had to go in his place.

Annabeth looked at him with an eye roll and fond smile. “Grover…”

“No,” Grover said. “You don’t get to scold me here. This was my attempt to get you guys together.” He bleated then. “It didn’t work out. Percy was too dam oblvious.”

“And Annabeth too dam stubborn,” Thalia snickered.

“I guess everyone was dam stupid,” Percy said. “But so were you goat boy. That quest was your way to find Pan! And I know how much that meant. Volunteering your spot for mine was giving up your dream and proving you were a better friend then I ever have been. I totally forgot what you wanted to go for, or why that mattered to you.”

Grover blushed. “No one’s a better friend than you dude.”

“I think Percy might be right this time,” Juniper whispered to him.

Zoe told them Percy couldn’t go because Hunters couldn’t travel with a boy. Percy pointed out he traveled there with them. Zoe rolled her eyes saying it was an emergency and that she was following Artemis’s orders.

“Wait, what about Grover?” Piper piped up. “He’s a boy! And I don’t want to hear your answer Thalia.”

“Oh don’t worry,” Thalia snickered. “You won’t have too.”

Percy asked what about Grover.

Piper groaned. “Dare, I doubt I can get away with donating money to the jar again. Why do you have to ask all the good questions we all have to ask, Percy?”

Percy shrugged. “They’re dam good questions?”

Thalia and Grover cracked up again.

Zoe said Grover was a Satyr and not technically a boy. Grover protested and Percy told them he needed to be on the quest. Zoe challenged him asking why, because of Annabeth?

“Yes.”

Percy rolled his eyes as everyone answered that together. “Okay. Fine!”

Percy blushed hard as everyone stared at him and his voice cracked as he said no. Percy told them he felt he was supposed to go. Zoe said that he wouldn’t be able to go at all insisting on it. Chiron agreed, this quest was for Artemis and that the Hunters had to approve who was coming. Then the scene collapsed.

Everyone looked at Percy sympathetically and he huffed looking down.

The scene started again with Grover and Chiron showing up in Percy’s cabin. Grover sat down next to him and apologized saying he didn’t know that’s what was going to happen.

“Stop the apologizes goat boy,” Percy sighed. “It’s not your fault.”

“At least you’re not lying this time,” Grover told him. Percy glared at him in an irritated playful manner.

Percy’s voice cracked as he said it was fine. Grover was saying he wasn’t even thinking because he was so focused on helping Artemis but he would find Annabeth. Percy nodded.

“Thanks Grover,” Annabeth told him. Grover gave her two thumbs up and she laughed. She’d missed him a lot this past year, just like Percy had. Grover had been one of her biggest crutches when Percy disappeared.

Chiron asked if it was okay for him to talk to Percy alone for a moment. Grover sniffed and agreed. But he didn’t leave before he realized Chiron meant alone and he said nobody needed a goat.

“Everyone needs a satyr,” Percy told him. “Especially a friend like you.”

Grover grinned. “Thanks man, but that’s only because you’re you.”

Chiron knelt down on his front legs and said he didn’t pretend to understand prophecies. Chiron said he didn’t understand prophecies. Percy said that’s because they didn’t make any sense.

“Your oracles should learn from Odin,” Magnus suggested. “He gives powerpoints.”

“Poetry is so much better,” Apollo protested.

“And though a power point would be amazing… could you imagine Rachel giving one?” Will asked.

“I can see how you two are related though,” Leo laughed. “Annabeth loves power points. When we were building the Argo II she gave more than I can count.”

“You can count?” Thalia asked him.

Jason… You’re sister’s being mean to me,” Leo complained in a girly voice.

Jason sighed. “Stop antagonizing Leo please Thals. He’s my friend. And Leo stop that voice before I stop it myself.”

Chiron looked at the fountain in the room and told him Thalia wasn’t his first choice either. She acts without thinking and is to sure of herself.

“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult,” Thalia said.

“Chiron’s really not the best at pep talks,” Percy agreed. “But being sure of yourself is a good thing.”

Thalia nodded having a feeling where that was going. Percy had shown a lot of his true self in these past visions…movies… whatever you wanted to call them. He was just as impulsive as she was. But they were a lot different in the other things Chiron had said.

Percy asked if Chiron would have chosen him. He said no, he was too much like Thalia. Percy sighed and told him Thanks sarcastically.

“Really,” Thalia agreed in the same tone.

Everyone else either smirked or laughed. That just proved it as true.

Chiron said Percy wasn’t as sure of himself as Thalia but that was good or bad. And both of them together was dangerous. Percy argued they could handle it. Chiron challenged him saying the same way as they had in the game of capture the flag.

“So we’ve learned,” Percy shrugged. “You don’t see me fighting with my bro Jason anymore. Same with his sister.”

“Or me trying to electrocute Kelp head anymore either,” agreed Thalia.

“And he hasn’t tried to kill me since the Titan war,” Nico nodded.

“What?” Hazel shrieked.

“Nothing,” Nico and Percy said together.

“That wasn’t nothing,” Jason demanded.

“It was an accident,” Nico said.

“Self-defense,” Percy agreed. “But yeah. I haven’t with any of these guys of my own decision in a while. Not a real fight at least. Just family squabbles.”

Chiron said it was probably for the best. Percy should go home to his mom and they’d call him if they needed him. Percy sighed saying maybe as he pulled out riptide to put it on his nightstand. Chiron followed his gaze to the pen. He said no wonder Zoe didn’t want him while he was carrying that weapon.

“What does that mean?” demanded Thalia.

“You’ve heard some things,” Percy said. “But I guess all of you will see all of it now.”

“Most of it,” Annabeth amended. “It’s skipped some stuff. Remember?”

“True,” Grover and Percy agreed.

As Percy opened his mouth Chiron threw him a drachma and told him to call his mom. He said he almost volunteered for the quest himself but the last line stopped him. Percy repeated it and nodded.

“That was the scariest line,” Thalia shivered.

“Why?” asked Sadie. “Your dad wouldn’t kill you. Would he?”

“He might have,” Percy said. “To save their own skins the gods might do anything. Even kill their own children. Killing Thalia or I, it could have stopped the prophecy from happening soon. Our parents could have done it. But they didn’t . And Chiron’s dad… well like you heard. He’s Kronos.”

“But he had the other suspicion too,” Thalia whispered to him.

Percy nodded.

Chiron made the warding off evil gesture saying he hoped the prophecy didn’t mean what he thought it did. And he knew Percy’s time would come. There wasn’t a need to rush.

Everyone exchanged looks at the ominous look as the projection stopped and Percy sighed. Then he grinned wryly. “So anyone up to see a call with my mom?”

Chapter Text

“A call with Aunt Sally?” Thalia asked.

“Actually,” Percy said blanching after a second. “We can skip this one.”

“Why?” Annabeth demanded. “You never miss a chance to see anything of your mom.”

“I will in this case,” Percy said.

“So we have to watch it,” Nico decided.

Percy moaned and put his head in his hands.

Percy threw the coin and made an offering to Iris saying his moms name and address. Then his mom showed up in the mist sitting at the table laughing with a man with sandy hair and in a brown jacket. There was a bunch of books in between them.

Percy groaned again as everyone else started laughing and the big three kids, bar Hazel, Annabeth and several others started to cheer again.

“Who’s that?” Jaz asked.

“That’s Paul,” Jason grinned. “He’s the best mortal who can’t see through the mist that I’ve ever met. Good at fighting too.”

“Fighting?” asked Reyna curiosly.

“He can fence,” Percy said turning red looking at the frozen scene. “Kind of. Can we turn this off now?”

“Do you not like seeing your mom on the date?” Clarisse teased. “Mommy’s boy.”

“She usually isn’t bad with the PDA,” Percy groaned. “I love Paul but I really don’t want to see this.”

“Not like you don’t make her and Paul suffer the same thing with you and Annabeth,” Thalia teased.

Percy groaned again.

Percy was staring open mouthed as Paul told Sally she was a riot and offered more wine. She told him no but told him he should take more. He told he that he should use the bathroom. She told him down the hall. He got up and left and Percy called her and she jumped up.

“Way to interrupt Percy,” giggled Rachel.

“You’re worse than that time with Frank,” agreed Annabeth.

Frank blushed as Percy glared at both the girls with another groan and then he just decided to bury his head in his hands for the rest of this.

Sally asked Percy if everything was okay. Percy demanded to know what she was doing. She looked around and told him she was doing homework.

“So then Percy and Annabeth just fell asleep in the stables?” Piper asked grinning evilly. Both glared at her. Percy even took his face out of his hands.

“What’s this about the stables?” Magnus asked angrily.

“Nothing,” Annabeth told him. “And you don’t get to say anything Magnus.”

Samira nodded then whispered to him. “Plus, I could just let Alex now some other things you were thinking…”

“Okay,” Magnus told her. “But if you do I could say something to your boyfriend… I mean betrothed.”

Samira glared him down.

Sally sighed then told him that was Paul, or Mr. Blofis who was in her writing seminar. Percy repeated Mr. Blowfish with a weird look.

“Seaweed brain,” Annabeth laughed fondly.

“Like Daddy,” Tyson laughed boomingly with an air of delight. Everyone else was confused by that statement but Percy looked up enough to chuckle and nod.

Sally corrected him and told him Paul would be back in a minute. She asked Percy to tell her what was wrong. The scene skipped for a second to Sally tearing up. Percy agreed saying that he was told there was nothing he could do and he’d be coming home.

“Sure…” Jason told him with a roll of the eyes. “Anyone who’s met you for five minutes knows that’s not true bro.”

Sally told him that she would love for him to come home. And she did want him to be safe but she wanted him to understand he had to do whatever he thought he had to do.

“I love your mom,” declared Sadie with a grin as everyone cheered.

“You two are definitely coming over soon,” Percy told them.

He asked what she meant. She said if Percy knew he had to save Annabeth deep down because it was the right thing to do he had to do it. His heart was in the right place and he had to listen to it. He asked surprised if she was telling him to go. She said he was too old to have her make his decisions but either way she’d support him no matter how dangerous it is.

“Your mom sounds amazing,” Magnus said sadly.

Percy looked around at several of his friends with the sad faces and stood up. “That’s it. After this we’re having a dinner, courtesy of Sally Jackson, a picnic probably with all of us.”

“You should probably ask her first,” Annabeth scolded him.

“You know she’ll say yes,” Percy said.

“Of course she will,” Nico said with an eye roll. “She’s Aunt Sally.”

Sally told him there wasn’t much time but whatever he decided she knew he would do what’s best for Annabeth. Percy asked how she could be so sure.

Every single person in there scoffed.

Then Sally said because she’d do the same for him. Then she smiled as Paul came back in and smiled at her.

Every single person awed.

“We’re staying together,” Percy told her. “You’re never getting away from me. Never again.”

“As long as we’re together,” Annabeth agreed as he held her tighter.

The scene started again with Annabeth collapsing under the sky. A voice boomed asking about their mortal guest. Luke came out and walked over to Annabeth before saying she was fading and needing to hurry.

“Tell me he’s dead,” Magnus growled looking at Percy.

The girls rolled her eyes at him and Percy sighed. “Annabeth doesn’t need me to take care of him. She did that herself.”

A voice laughed. Then Artemis was shoved forward bleeding golden blood. The voice told her to decide. She looked at Annabeth and asked how they’d torture a maiden that way. Luke said Annabeth would die soon and Artemis could save her.

“No,” Apollo said. “Arty….”

Thalia growled. “Luke….. You foul, conniving, evil, selfish….”

Her curses continued in greek until Percy got up and pulled her away leaving Apollo to be the one to curse.

Artemis told Luke to free her hands. He slashed her cuffs away with Backbiter and Artemis took Annabeth’s place leaving her to shiver on the floor. The voice laughed saying she was predictable and easy to beat. Artemis told them saying it was because she was surprised and would never happen again.

“Never,” Apollo scowled. “Artemis and her…”

“She’s okay dad,” Will reminded him. “And she’ll kick you back to the sky for thinking otherwise.”

The voice said she was out of the way for good for helping a young girl. Artemis groaned he knew nothing of mercy. The voice said they could agree their and that Luke could kill Annabeth now.

Magnus growled again and Alex held him down with Samira as Hearth signed quickly at him. Annabeth rolled her eyes as several other people looked over at her. “Still here guys.”

Artemis shouted no as Luke said Annabeth could still be helpful as further bait. The voice asked if he really believed that and Luke told the man he called the general he was sure that they would come for her. The man paused then said the dracaenae could guard her if she didn’t die from her injuries they could keep her alive till the solstice. If their sacrifice worked her life didn’t matter.

“Lukily it didn’t go as planned,” Grover bleated.

“No,” agreed Thalia. “Thanks to Kelp Head.”

“Thanks to you,” he told her.

“Sure,” she drawled.

Luke picked up the unconscious Annabeth and carried her away.

Percy grimaced. “He doesn’t get to touch her. None of them do.”

“Percy,” Annabeth told him in a long-suffering tone.

“Fine.”

Artemis told them they’d never find the monster they were looking for. The man told her that she didn’t know anything and now her attendants were starting a quest playing into his hands. They had a journey to make to challenge the hunters quest.

Grover looked at Percy. “Thank the gods for your dreams.”

Percy frowned. “No, not really.”

“They can be pretty helpful,” Jason told him. “Like when…”

“Not discussing this,” Percy said with his fingers in his ears and his tongue stuck out.

Grover and Jason exchanged glances and rolled their eyes.

Percy sat up suddenly in his bed as the door shook with knocking sounds. He grabbed Riptide and uncapped it. Then he flung open the door as Blackjack brayed.

Everyone laughed.

“That’s Blackjack right?” Piper asked.

“That’s Blackjack… you guys should finally get to hear him now,” Percy said.

“We’ll get to hear what it sounds like to you?” Hazel asked eagerly. “I’ve always wondered.”

Blackjack’s voice sounded a lot like a new york taxi driver. He yelled out to his boss as he didn’t want to be horse-ke-bob.

There were snickers and laughs. Annabeth looked at Percy with wide eyes. “I thought you were insane or mostly joking when you were saying Blackjack sounded like that. Or that he spoke like that.”

“I see why he and Percy get along so well though,” laughed Rachel. “And he sounds just as sassy as he acts.”

“Gets that from his rider,” Percy said proudly high-fiving Leo who was laughing madly.

Percy sighed and told Blackjack it was the middle of the night. Blackjack made a huffing sound and Percy heard him say it wasn’t but it was five in the morning why was he still sleeping.

“Because I’m not a horse,” Percy huffed.

Percy sighed again saying he told Blackjack so many times already never to call him boss. Blackjack responded he would do whatever his boss said, he was number one, he was the man.

Everyone laughed.

Carter was holding back a snort. He looked at his sister. “You reminded of something?”

“Which something? Lots of people sound like that.”

Percy told Blackjack he was supposed to stay in the stables. Blackjack groaned asking if Chiron ever stayed in the stables. Percy paused before saying no.

“If he did, well how would he have enough room for his music without driving the horses crazy?” asked Piper.

“Chiron hates staying with the horses, or being told he should,” Grover said roughly. “It’s an insult.”

“Right,” agreed Clarisse. “And the horses aren’t sophisticated enough to curl their tales.”

Chris held back a laugh as he gave her a warning laugh. She looked at him. “Come on! You were thinking it too.”

Blackjack told him that their was another sea creature that needed his help. Percy groaned asking again. Blackjack nodded saying that he’d told the hippocampi he’d come and get them. Percy sighed and said he was coming. Blackjack responded that Boss, was the best. Percy yelled for him not to call him boss. A bray like laugh followed.

Everyone else laughed as well. Percy laughed too with a chuckle. “Always with the boss. And with the donuts too.”

“Donuts?” Carter asked Percy.

“Donuts.”

Percy got dressed and grabbed his shield, his pen, and Annabeth’s hat looking at it for a moment and putting it in his pocket. He ran out the door and onto Blackjack’s back. Then Blackjack stopped over a part of the ocean and whinnied pointing down with his head. Percy dived in.

“Wait, what?” asked Blitz. “In your pajamas at five AM your just jumping in like that?”

“Son of Poseidon, right? It’s not an issue. Watch.”

Percy went down over fifty feet and got to three hippocampi at the bottom. Their tails shimmered and glowed but they weren’t happy. Percy got closer to the overturned boat and saw something else there trapped in the fishing net.

Percy growled. “I hate those things.”

“The Animal?” Frank asked surprised.

“No,” Percy shouted. “That stupid net. Fishermen don’t even care. They trap animals in them and instead of cutting them free the let the net go leaving the animal to die. It happens all the time, to turtles, dolphins, and sometimes mythological creatures too.”

“It hurts the ocean environment,” Grover stomped.

“New lesson kids,” Leo announced. “Don’t litter. In the ocean or everywhere.”

THe hippocampi circled and one tried to chew on the net. Percy got closer and the hippocampi followed. Then the animal made a mooing sound.

“Did it just moo?” asked Walt surprised.

“It did,” agreed Percy.

“What sea creature moves, mythological or not?” asked Clarisse.

“Wait,” Nico said. “I’ve heard that thing. I mean seen it. At…”

“Spoilers!” Percy, Grover, Thalia and Annabeth told him.

         Percy swam next to a sea cow with the back end of a serpent’s black and brown tail. He uncapped riptide and the creature started to struggle. Percy reached out holding his sword away from the creature. He promised not to hurt it and to cut the net.

“That’s why it—” Thalia started.

“Shh!” Percy cut her off. “But yeah. Probably.”

The cow creature kept struggling. It struggled so much the boat started to tip. Percy put his sword away and told the creature to calm down. He started to name things like sea grass, vegetarianism, milk and mom cows.

“And that worked?” asked Sadie. “There’s no way that thing knew what you were saying.”

“He didn’t. It’s all about Percy’s tone of voice,” Piper said. “We’ll really need to conduct that test later.”

“You still haven’t explained what test,” Percy complained.

The creature stopped thrashing and the hippocampi brayed. Percy told them he was thinking. Then a moment later he told them they had to push the way he told them too. It moved away so it was no longer collapsing on the creature. Then Percy started to work on untangling the net by hand telling her different things. He called her Bessie and told her she was almost out.

“Bessie?”

“It’s a good cow name,” Percy protested at Magnus’s judging comment and look.

“You took the time to do it by hand?” Grover asked. “I mean Bessie really did like you but I never realized why. That was awesome Percy.”

“I learnt to help creatures in need from the best example,” Percy said. “Sadly I can’t give the sanctuary of the ocean or the wild. It was the right thing to do.”

A skip happened to the creature, Bessie zooming out. Percy told it to stay out of trouble and shot to the surface where he caught BlackJack’s neck and swung himself up.

“Can you make a stunt movie or something?” Leo asked. “I’ll do the pyrochenetics but with all this sick stuff and tricks you do…. Please dude?”

“What are you talking about?” Percy asked. “I can’t really do anything cool.”

Snorts sounded all around the room as Percy blushed.

Chapter Text

 

As the next scene rose in front of them Percy and Nico both stiffened. The latter looked at his younger cousin. His eyes swam and Nico looked away. Percy sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize.”

“But—”

“Don’t.”

Percy asked Blackjack to set him down behind a column. He took Annabeth’s cap out of his pocket and put it on. Zoe and Bianca were arguing. The older huntress was saying it couldn’t be cured quickly.

“Cure what?” Jaz demanded. “Who got sick? Is someone dying? What happened?”

“It’ll tell us,” Will told her. “Or I’m pretty sure it will.”

Bianca asked how it had happened. Zoe told her the Stolls from the Hermes cabin had put centaur blood in the T-shirt they gave Phoebe.

“That’s a prank?” Hearth signed shaking.

“It’s cruelty,” agreed Blitz as barely anyone had understood his signing friend.

“It was revenge, justified to them. Phoebe almost killed them. And the Stolls wouldn’t kill anyone for a prank. Only monsters or people trying to hurt them, like in a war,” Percy said looking down. There was sudden quiet. A harsh and dark one.

Bianca declared that was horrible and Zoe agreed but said Phoebe would live, she just couldn’t come on the quest because she would be bedridden. Bianca pointed out the prophecy asked for five. Zoe said there was no time because they had to leave now. And the prophecy had said they would lose one.

“She’s twisting the prophecy to fit how she wants it,” Annabeth shook her head. “Five means five. The quest hadn’t started.”

“I just she had been right about what she said next,” Percy told her closing his eyes and curling into himself, holding her closer again.

Bianca pointed out in the land without rain, which couldn’t be camp. Zoe blew her off saying that the camp had magic borders and it didn’t rain unless they wanted it to here. Bianca tried to protest but Zoe stopped her saying she had a feeling they shouldn’t pick anyone else. It was too dangerous.

“They already had their fifth member anyway,” Jason pointed out with a grin at Percy.

“This thing about it being dangerous though,” Frank said hesitantly. “That really can’t be good. Could it be worse than what Percy was seeing?”

Percy didn’t answer and no one else knew.

Bianca told her that she should tell Thalia about her dream. Zoe protested it wouldn’t help. Bianca tried to argue again. Zoe stopped her saying they would find out soon enough and they had to go. They left the dining pavilion and Nico took a step as Percy took off the camp and told him to wait.

“That’s scary,” Nico told him. “I was freaked out enough already and you just almost gave me a heart attack.”

“And you swooping out of the shadows and controlling the dead doesn’t do that?” Percy argued teasingly.

Nico shrugged. “Not really.”

Sadie looked at Walt. “He’s not serious is he?”

Walt shrugged biting his lip so he didn’t laugh.

Nico spun to look at him demanding to know where he came from. Percy said he’d been there invisible. Nico opened his mouth in awe declaring it was cool. Percy asked how he knew his sister was there was Zoe. Nico looked down red, he told Percy that she didn’t sleep well at camp and he heard the footsteps so he followed.

“You really haven’t changed much,” Jason decided.

Everyone else looked at him like he was insane. This happy, geeky, laughing Nico wasn’t the one in this room. Jason shrugged. “I mean he still sneaks around like that.”

Percy asked if Nico was planning on following them on the quest. Nico asked how he knew. He explained that if it was his sister he would do the same thing but Nico couldn’t go. Nico asked if it was because he was too young. Percy said it was because they wouldn’t let him and they would send him back. Because he was too young and because it was dangerous. People would die.

“If only I protected everyone else and protected you better,” Percy muttered. He wasn’t heard but he had a feeling Nico knew what he was thinking. Nico looked at him and nodded with a look Percy couldn’t explain.

Nico decided he was right and Percy could go for him. Percy stepped back in surprise. Nico explained he was invisible. So he could go. Percy reminded him that the hunters didn’t like boys and if they found out something good wouldn’t be the result. Nico interrupted saying not to let them find out. Percy had to keep an eye on his sister.

Everyone looked at Nico who was looking down. Percy let go of Annabeth to put his arm around Nico’s shoulder protectively. Then he slumped too. He let Nico grip his wrist so his nails dug in and didn’t complain. Both stayed stiff and unmoving not letting anyone get to them.

Percy tried to talk to him but Nico kept going saying he knew Percy was going to go anyway. Percy sighed and admitted he had to help and he had to find Annabeth. Nico nodded sagely saying he wouldn’t tell, but only if Percy promised to keep his sister safe.

“Oh gods,” Hazel gasped. She looked at her brother and friend. Percy’s fatal flaw, if he made promises like that, not keeping it would kill him inside. And with how Nico had felt for Percy, and for Bianca… making Percy promise and knowing he hadn’t been able to protect Bianca. That was even worse.

Percy told him that was a big promise. Plus Bianca had all the others on the quest. Nico insisted again that he promise.

“Nico,” Will said to his boyfriend his voice cracking.

“It was stupid,” Nico said shaking his head in resignation. “Too big of a promise. I knew someone was going to die. I just also knew that Percy was a hero. I thought he could save anyone. Protect us all. Now I realize that’s not possible. No one can save everyone. Not even Percy.”

“I can try,” Percy growled suddenly sitting up. “I promised to do my best, didn’t I? And I didn’t. I did no where near my best. Not then and so Bianca…. She’s my fault. Not a stupid promise you made me make.”

“It’s neither of your faults,” Jason told them both. “I’d like two of my best bros back so get your heads out of your depressed and stubborn butts and stop moaning. Neither of you are at fault. No one did this. What ever happened to Bianca was a tragedy and the fault of no one but the monster or thing that killed her.”

Percy and Nico exchanged glances and sighed not arguing.

Percy promised to do his best. Nico yelled at him for good luck and to get going.

Percy still obviously didn’t accept Bianca’s death wasn’t his fault. He looked at Nico again. “You really should hate me. I was a jerk, I broke my promise, I didn’t attempt to understand you and I was-“

He was cut off by Nico getting up and giving him a hug. “Shut up you idiot. You looked out for me and hid the fact I was a kid of the big three. You tried to get me accepted in camp and the fact I wasn’t or just didn’t feel comfortable there just yet wasn’t your fault. I needed to take that journey. And you need to stop blaming yourself.”

Percy looked around and tried to come up with something. Nico promised to make something up for him as an excuse and ushered him on. Percy ran out putting on Annabeth’s hat and came to the top of Half-Blood Hill to see the van disappear.

“You didn’t make it,” Zia told him. “How do you expect to go west without transportation?”

“The van isn’t the only type of transportation,” Percy grinned with a goofy expression.

Blackjack landed next to him then. They heard his voice saying he thought his boss needed a getaway horse. Percy looked like he wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. He swallowed and told Blackjack to fly.

“I love that horse,” declared Magnus.

“You’re not still jealous that Percy can talk to horses while you can’t?” Alex said unable to resist bringing it up.

“Whatever,” Magnus said rolling his eyes. “Flying by Pegasus still must be fun.”

“And the horses of the Valkyrie that fly aren’t good enough for you either?” Samira told him with glinting eyes. “Or Slepnir?”

“Why am I friends with either of you?” Magnus asked.

The scene skipped to Percy and Blackjack perched on top of the Chrysler building. THe human of the two was crouching and watching the van. He asked where Argus was taking them.

“Argus won’t drive campers that far into the city,” Clarisse agreed. “Something’s up. Go after them.”

Blackjack told him Argus wasn’t driving. THe girl was. Percy asked which girl. Blackjack told him the Hunter with the silver crown. Percy asked Zoe’s name in surprise as Blackjack agreed. Percy nodded then said they would go after them.

Clarisse nodded her approval. “And make sure that hunter doesn’t take them off the path of the quest. Stupid hunters shouldn’t be leading quests.”

Thalia growled.

Clarisse looked at her. “You’re no exception, daughter of zeus.”

“Clarisse,” Percy said warningly.

“Fine,” She grumbled not actually meaning it. “I’ll stop insulting all these idiots. For now only though, Prissy.”

Percy sighed knowing that’s the best he would get.

Blackjack spread his wings then suddenly made a scared neighing noise. Percy almost fell when he looked down to see his leg covered with a vine. He drew riptide. But the vines were too fast and him and Blackjack were both tied down.

“What monster controls plants?” Carter asked.

“None,” Chris replied confused. “At least not that I know of. It could be a satyr, or a child of Demeter or even…”

“What about Bacchus?” Reyna asked pointing at the portly shadowed shape behind Percy in the 3D vision.

Mr. D asked where he was going. Blackjack brayed that the Wine Dude was there.

There was silence. Then laughter followed in chaos as Nico turned from gloomy to blushing. Especially as Leo started to praise him for the invention of an amazing nickname.

Mr. D threatened to put the next person who called him that in a bottle of wine. Percy’s voice cracked as he tried not to sound stressed and ask what the god wanted. Mr. D snarled asking if he thought that the immortal powerful camp director wouldn’t notice him leaving without permission. Percy replied maybe.

“He sure didn’t notice last time when we left on a quest we were told not to go on,” Percy pointed out.

“The Harpies noticed. They aren’t nice Harpies,” Tyson said simply.

“Not like Ella,” Percy agreed.

Ella smiled and Tyson grinned.

The god continued by saying he should throw Percy off the building and see how heroic he sounded while falling. Percy’s teeth clenched and his fists shook. He demanded to know why Mr. D hated him so much. He had never done anything to him.

“He hates all of us,” Will said. “There’s no real reason. At least I don’t think there is.”

“He has a pretty valid reason actually,” Percy muttered. “More than most the gods.”

Mr. D’s eyes turned purple and he told Percy he hated him because he was a hero. That was the only reason. Percy said he had to go on this quest and he had to help his friends. Dionysus couldn’t understand that.

Percy frowned. “And I win the idiot of the year award.”

“You always win that,” Clarisse snarled.

“True. But what’s it for this time?” Thalia asked.

Blackjack warned him to talk nice because they were tied up in vines. The vines were getting further up his body. Mr. D asked if he ever told Percy about Ariadne.

“Oh,” Apollo said suddenly. “That’s what the fit is about. Sons of Poseidon too.”

“I didn’t even think about that part,” Percy said.

He continued by saying she was the princess of Crete, who liked helping her friends too. Even a son of Poseidon named Theseus. She had led him out of the Labyrinth. He asked how Theseus rewarded her.

“They fell in love and got married,” guessed Hazel hopefully.

Percy guessed they got married and lived happily ever after. Mr. D scowled saying that’s what Thesues had said but then as they sailed for Athens he dumped her, quite literally on an island. Percy said that was wrong and it was thousands of years ago so what did it have to do with him.

“A lot,” Rachel said.

“The same stories repeat with different heroes,” Calypso agreed. It was easy for them to fall for this son of Poseidon. Was Theseus that easy to fall for as well? All the girls were looking at Percy now. He was looking back confused.

“Um… what?”

“Seaweed Brain,” Annabeth chuckled.

“Theseus sure broke a lot of promises. He didn’t marry Adriane and he didn’t put up white sails either,” Piper noted. “Kind of a jerk.”

Percy frowned again. Theseus was his ancient brother. And everyone seen him make a promise a few scenes earlier. What did that say about the sons of Poseidon?

Mr. D told him that he fell in love with Ariadne and healed her broken heart. She was immortal now waiting for him on Olympus to finish his punishment at camp. Of course Percy had to ask how he could be married then if he got in trouble for chasing wood nymphs.

“Can’t blame him,” Apollo muttered.

Grover gripped Juniper’s hand. “Please don’t attract the attention of any gods. I can’t face that.”

“Silly satyr, no god compares to you. Lord of the Wild remember?”

Mr. D rolled his eyes and said the point was all the heroes were the same accusing the gods of being vain and taking whatever they wanted. Then they betrayed everyone. He listed examples of people to ask, like medea, Ariadne or even Zoe.

“Wait, Zoe?” asked Leo surprised. “But she hates guys. Like the rest of the hunters. They almost murdered me when I met them.”

“Because you kept hitting on them,” Jason said his eyes rolling. “Including my sister.”

Calypso glared at him and sighed. At least he wasn’t hitting on anyone but her now.

Percy demanded to know what he meant. Mr. D just let him go and told him to follow his friends. The vines withdrew and within moment Blackjack was flying away saying that was too close.

“Way too close,” agreed Thalia. “I hate to admit it but none of us would have survived that quest without you.”

Percy shrugged. “I wouldn’t be so sure. Let’s just move on. The next few scenes aren’t as bad from what I remember.”

Chapter Text

Thalia looked at him. Then Grover did. Both of them exchanged glances and immediately scoffed. It was Grover who spoke up with as serious a face as he could muster. “In your life Percy, nothing has been ‘not so bad.’ You’re just remembering it being better in comparison to everything else.”

“That’s not true.”

“It kind of is,” Thalia told him.

“You’re forgetting what happened,” Percy told them. “Look.”

Percy and Blackjack landed by the Washington monument and the horse stumbled. Percy got off and looked at him sternly telling him to go back to camp, rest and eat. He’d be fine. Blackjack’s head tilted to the side.

“We can’t hear him anymore,” Hazel said disappointed.

“You can tell what he’s saying anyway,” Magnus, the other horse enthusiast told her. “He’s asking Percy if he’s sure and hesistating.”

“Right,” agreed said person.

Percy continued saying Blackjack had done enough and he’d be fine. He thanked the horse. Blackjack brayed and Percy promised to be careful. THe horse took off, circling the Washington monument twice before going into the clouds.

“What day was that?” asked Sadie suddenly.

“Better question is what year,” Carter told her.

“Three years ago, or more like two and a half. ” Percy replied. “Titan war wasn’t last summer but the summer before. So Kronos… the battle at camp happened the summer before that. Yeah. This was that winter.”

Carter looked at Sadie and shook his head. “So we’re both wrong. This happened a year before we were there.”

“We were there during the week of Christmas, a little before,” Sadie told everyone else confused. “It was two years ago though, or one and a half. Because around eight or nine months after we defeated Aphophis and then we met Percy and Annabeth a few months after that. Then we’re here a few months later.”

“But we were close,” Carter said. “It would have made sense. I saw a Pegasus in Manhattan two or so days before that.”

Percy wrinkled his nose. “Yeah. That might’ve been me too. Or something else.”

Percy was invisible again looking at the other questers getting out of their white van. Then as they saw him follow he stopped when a black car opened and a man with gray hair and dark shades got out. He said something into his phone and started to walk after the questers.

“How did you know he was following us?” Thalia asked. “Zoe never even noticed.”

“His van had been following you since the highway left New York,” Percy shrugged. “I was pretty sure he wasn’t the normal federal agent.”

“He was mortal though,” Grover said. “There were a lot of them.”

“Mercenaries,” Rachel said. “Hired through money.”

“Through the triumvirate,” Apollo growled. Only Rachel heard him but Percy and a few others seemed to have guessed what they were talking about. Rachel borrowed the paper from Annabeth to scribble something down.

Then he turned towards Percy and two different colored eyes glinted.

“So he wasn’t one of the mortals,” Nico said. “That was Thorn.”

“He never died, didn’t he,” realized Piper.

“No. Just fell with me over the cliff,” Annabeth nodded.

The questers slipped inside the air and space museum. Percy followed Dr. Thorn across into the Museum of National History. They were in a chaber of fossils. Dracaenae and Luke were sitting next to a man covered in armor.

Calypso gasped and stiffened. Everyone stared at her. Leo looked at her confused. “Something wrong mamacita?”

“You calling me that,” she told him.

Percy looked at her then looked down. “I knew. I should have warned you. If you want to leave, go ahead.”

“I will be fine,” Calypso said strengthening her voice and sitting up straighter. She had not seen her father since the end of the first Titan War. But he had not made any attempt to help her since. She saw now he was not someone she would side with again.

The man in the chair prompted Thorn to talk. Thorn told him, the general that they were here. He demanded to know where. Thorn said in the air and space museum. Luke asked how many. Thorn said four naming them all. THe general turned to Luke saying they needed to isolate Thalia then the monster would come to her.

“Are they trying to get the monster to kill her?” Jason asked. “Why do they want you?”

“I can’t really say,” Thalia told him. “But I’m still here, alive, aren’t I? No one got hurt or was dying right then.”

Luke said that the hunters would be difficult to stop. When he spoke Zoe’s name the general yelled at him.

“This general guy really has something against Zoe,” Piper noted.

Calypso looked down again. Leo got even more confused and started to fiddle more and more with the wires in his hand.

Luke apologized but the General told him he’d show them how they brought the general down. He asked a guard if he had the teeth. THe guard came forward with a clay pot and nodded.

“Teeth?” Zia asked. “What use are teeth if not in the mouth of a monster or something else?”

“These teeth,” Jason said recognizing them from his namesakes tale. “Well, they do more out of the mouth and in the ground than in mouths of monsters.”

The general commanded they plant them. THe guard took the teeth and planted them in the circle in the center of the room. He said it was ready. THe general commanded they water them and the guard did with a watering can with daises. But he poured on blood instead of water.

Frank’s eyes widened. “Wait… teeth in the ground. Like with Cadmus? And Jason? These are like Gray?”

Hazel and Percy shivered at the reminder of Mars’s gift to Frank, the dragon tooth spear that came with a three use, skeleton warrior. Percy nodded. “A lot like Gray.”

Skeleton cats with tiger stripes erupted from the dirt and started to play in it. The general yelled asking where they found the teeth. The guard responded from the saber toothed tiger exhibit. THe general yelled he wanted the ones from the T-Rex. They needed to take the kittens outside and stay away from him. The guard ran away with the kittens.

“Small Bob?” Annabeth asked laughing with tears in her eyes.

“Yeah,” Percy nodded somberly. “I guess the ‘General’ didn’t realize Small Bob and his friends were just as ferocious as the other type of warriors he wanted.”

“Who is Small Bob?” asked a very confused Tyson. “He is a small bob?”

“He’s a friend,” Percy said. “A good one.”

Annabeth hid her face in his shoulders and clung to her and Percy hugged her back with harsh breaths. Only several of the others recognized the signs of Tartarus induced panic attacks. Yet no one said a word.

The general yelled for another guard to get the right teeth. Luke told him that he didn’t use mortals for reasons like this. They weren’t realible. THe general agreed saying they were weak-minded, violent and could be bought. Therefore he loved them.

Rachel was about to start ranting but Will and Calypso who were sitting closest immediately started to talk her down.

THe guard came back and the General jumped down from the balcony saying he’d do it himself. He explained those weren’t dinosaur teeth but dragon teeth, and not just any. Those of Sybaris. He planted them and watered them with the blood. Skeletal warriors popped out of the ground.

There were a few screams and yells. Percy shushed them all as Nico scowled and Frank looked unsure. His skeleton had been useful. These ones obviously weren’t.

The general asked for the scent. He was given a hunters scent. He declared that now that the skeletons had the scent nothing could happen. The skeletons all had rotting skin, covered in militart/mercenary clothes. Their flesh was transparent though.

“I hate those things,” Rachel declared.

Percy looked at her strangely. “Are you expecting me to say something about that?”

“No. It will come up soon enough,” she huffed.

Percy ran as the Dracnae dropped the scarf through the air toward the skeletons. He shoved them aside and snatched the scarf from the air. The general yelled asking what was going on. Someone said it had to be an intruder and an order to seal the doors went out. Then Luke cried it had to be Percy.

“They should just come to expect you foiling their plans,” Jaz said suddenly as everyone else cheered.

“Think about it Jaz,” Carter told her. “Would that work? Aphophis definitely expected us to try and foil his plans. And he still tried stopping us only to fail again.”

The skeleton reached out as the invisible Percy ran. It looked like the fabric was just floating in midair. Then the skeleton grabbed something. He’d ripped off a piece of Percy’s sleeve and was sniffing it. He passed it around quickly.

“Schist,” Hazel declared.

Frank nodded almost laughing as Percy outright cracked up. Several other people looked around confused and almost nervous. Will raised his hand meekly. “Um… did Hazel just curse?”

“Nah,” Percy gasped for his breath. “You’ll get it soon enough.”

Percy ran with the fabric and into air and space. He ran through tearing off his invisibility cap. He slammed into Thalia and she was knocked into a space capsule. Grover yelped and Zoe and Bianca aimed arrows at Percy’s chest.

There were yells as they saw what happened. Percy had to take a moment to calm everyone down and tell them he’d been fine and so would everything.

Zoe asked how he dared to show up. Percy panted saying that Luke was there. Thalia reached for her shield bracelet and asked where. Percy gave a quick explanation and when he was done Zoe was dropping her bow saying it was impossible for the general to be there.

Calypso looked down. This sister of hers was fierce. Someone who had the strength to defy their father like she never had. Now maybe she could learn from her. But they could not live in denial of who their father was either. She was seeing that now.

Percy asked why he would lie and said there was skeleton warriors. Thalia demanded to know how many. Percy told her twelve and that the general was sending them all a playmate now too. Thalia and Grover exchanged scents and Grover explained they were following Artemis’s trial, a powerful monster scent. But they hadn’t found anything yet.

“Wrong monster,” Thalia and Grover groaned together.

“Still one I don’t want to see again,” Percy mumbled.

Bianca tried to warn Zoe that if it was the general before Zoe interrupted saying it must have been an illusion or iris message. Percy pointed out that couldn’t be because only real things could crack a marble floor. Zoe took a breath and nodded saying if Percy was telling the truth about the skeleton warriors they had no time to argue, they had to leave now.

“You just spent all your time arguing,” Magnus pointed out. “Pretty much she just succeeded in jinxing you all.”

Thalia and Grover exchanged glances. “True.”

Percy agreed and Zoe told him he wasn’t a part of this quest and not included. Percy told her he just wanted to save lives. Thalia agreed he shouldn’t have come but he was here now. She told them they had to get back to the van.

“Thank you for seeing some sense!” Sadie told Thalia.

Zoe told Thalia that wasn’t her deision and Thalia shot back Zoe wasn’t the boss and no matter how old she was she was just a brat. Zoe argued that Thalia was blinded by boys and could never leave them behind.

“Because I left my brother behind a long time ago,” Thalia argued. “And Luke and I were a team…. And Percy…. He was my friend, my cousin, another brother. I might be a hunter but I don’t have to leave the boys in my life behind. As long as I’m not falling in love.”

Thalia growled when another growl came from behind them. An enourmous golden lion with silver claws was coming toward them. Thalia whisepered it was the Nemean Lion and they shouldn’t move.

“That was the Lion you saw on the train on your first quest,” remembered Alex with a grin. “It’s a lot bigger up close.”

“A lot scarier too,” Percy agreed. “All Echidna’s kids are.”

Zoe told them to separate and try and keep it distracted. Grover asked for how long and Zoe told him until she thought of a way to kill it.

“Think of a way to kill it?” Hearth signed. “Can’t die?”

“It’s fur is inpenetrable. You can’t stab it, slash it, scratch it. Nothing at all. You have to kill it another way,” Percy explained once Blitz had translated.

Percy uncapped riptide and rolled to the left as the Hunters shot arrows over him. Grover was playing his reedpipes and the two hunters were climbing the Apollo capsule. All the arrows they fired broke against the lion’s hide. THe lion knocked them over when he destroyed the space capsule. Grover’s playing got more frantic and even louder so the Lion turned towards him but Thalia got in it’s way holding up her shield so it ran back roaring.

“That shield is amazing,” Reyna said. “Based on the Aegis of your goddess Athena, correct?”

“It was a gift,” Thalia nodded. “One that came with a cost. I got it and my spear at the same time. It was right before I met Annabeth.”

Apollo stiffened. “Hal?”

“He was a good demigod,” Thalia said. “He’s one of the biggest reasons Luke was…”

“Yeah,” Apollo said. “Both were jaded by the gods. Hermes has it as his biggest regret. It’s very close to mine.”

The lion clawed at the air and crouched ready to pounce. Percy yelled to get it’s attention and ran at it slashing with riptide. There was an eruption of sparks as he did and he had parts of his coat ripped off by the lion as Percy was backed along the railing.

Annabeth sighed. “Impulsive seaweed brain. You always need to protect someone don’t you?”

“I can’t really stop myself,” Percy said. “Fatal flaw.”

Leo opened his mouth and shut it again. He didn’t want to say something but he knew Percy could control his fatal flaw. He’d seen it. But only when others were at stake. He would sacrifice himself happily, others not so much.

Percy turned and jumped over the side. He dropped onto a hanging spacecraft with helicopter blades. The lion was roaring at him. He turned to Zoe and yelled at her to target the mouth.

“Why do we keep thinking he’s so stupid?” Samira said. “He’s clearly smart.”

“Because he acts like a goof,” Annabeth answered kissing Percy’s cheek. “But I wouldn’t date him if he didn’t have some brains in there. He figured that out before even Zoe who would have probably seen the Lion or heard of it being beaten before.”

“Who beat it?” asked Blitz. “That thing’s skin is impossible to beat. Even dwarf made blades couldn’t do that.”

“Hercules beat him,” Jason snarled. “Guy is a jerk.”

“You barely even know,” Percy muttered. “And you were the one who met him.”

Zoe and Bianca kept moving around with their bows. They were circling the lions. Zoe yelled she couldn’t get the shot because the Lion’s mouth wasn’t open enough. Percy looked around frantically then yelled for Thalia to keep it occupied. Electricity arced through her spear and hit the Lion’s tail. Thalia rolled out of the way as Percy ran to the gift shop.

“The gift shop?” Chris asked. “I mean there’s some good stuff in there. But nothing could break the Lion’s skin.”

“That wasn’t my plan,” Percy grinned. “I remembered something from going there with my mom. Must’ve been before she married Gabe. But we went together and she got me something there. You’ll see.”

Zoe yelled at him this wasn’t the time for gifts. Percy ran and knocked over something as he jumped over the table. Then he grabbed several silver plastic packets carrying as much as he could.

“What is that?” asked Frank. “Plastic packets can’t do much against the Lion either. Can they?”

“I know what that is,” Magnus grinned getting it. “It’s space food, they sell it but it’s gross. Dehydrated food that never tastes good. It’s so the kids think they’re like astronauts. Not worth it. It tastes disgusting. Even a falafel flavor wouldn’t taste good.”

“Good thinking seaweed brain,” Annabeth whispered in his air.

He smirked at her with a twinkle in his eye. “Plan worthy of Athena?”

“Getting closer.”

The arrows still weren’t doing anything to the Lion. Bianca and Zoe weren’t able to do anything to hurt the Lion. Thalia was jabbing at it with her spear. She started to ask Percy to do whatever he was before doing it now then the Lion roared and swatted her aside into a rocket. Her head hit the metal.

Everyone winced and Thalia rubbed her head again. “I was fine. Stupid lion. Got distracted.”

“The good thing is now Percy is madder than he was before,” Hazel told her. “Now he’ll take that Lion down because it hurt you.”

Percy yelled at the lion and threw Riptide at it like a knife. It bounced off of the lion and it turned on him. Percy charged and the lion leaped at him. He threw a space food thing into his mouth.

“You’re going to get yourself killed one day,” Zia told him. “You’re impulsive. And though you do have thoughts behind your actions but the way you go through with them puts yourself in harms way.”

“That’s Prissy though,” Clarisse said. “If he wasn’t almost always getting himself killed and putting himself in danger to save him friends he wouldn’t be worth my attention.”

“I think that might be one of the nicest things you’ve ever said about me,” Percy said to Clarisse wiping a fake tear from his eye.

She growled at him shaking her fist and he just smirked. “Love you too Clarisse.”

THe lion gagged and Percy yelled for Zoe to get ready. He ran away from the Lion as it choked down the food. He yelled it was snack time and the Lion roared. Percy threw another packet in it’s open mouth. Then he put in three more. The lion was rearing up like a horse when Percy yelled for now.

“It worked,” said Chris again in awe. “Space food killed the nemean lion.”

“It hasn’t worked yet,” pointed out Nico. “It’s still alive.”

“We all know it’s a matter of seconds though,” Will told him. “So stop trying to be a downer.”

Arrows went through the lions mouth. At the end there were six as the lion thrashed and fell backward. Grover ran over to Thalia and helped her up. Zoe and Bianca jumped down next to Percy from the balcony. The lead hunter told Percy that it was an interesting strategy.

“Understatement,” scoffed Thalia.

Percy pointed out it worked. Zoe just frowned as they watched the lion melt in front of them to become a fur coat. Zoe told Percy to take it. He looked at her and asked if that wasn’t an animal rights violation.

Piper grinned at him. “This is why we’re friends!”

“It’s why Artemis doesn’t hate him too.”

Percy laughed. “Yeah, well, I always hated ocean pollution and those animals being hurt. Then Grover made me realize the rest of the environment was just as bad. I keep making friends with activists, like Rachel, and I’ve started to agree with most of their ideas.”

“Started too?” asked Annabeth. “You always did.”

Zoe told him it was a spoil of war and it was his. He argued she had killed it. She shook her head saying the ice cream sandwich did that. It was fair that he took it. Percy picked it up. It became a golden-brown duster and he commented it wasn’t his style.

“Definitley not,” laughed Annabeth.

“He makes it work though,” Blitz said nodding approvingly.

“Thanks…” Percy said drawing it out.

Grover told them they had to get out of there because soon the security guards wouldn’t be confused anymore. Percy looked around and asked Grover if he had done that. Grover nodded blushing and said it was a confusion song on his pipes.

“Why is Coach Hedge’s satyr magic so different?” Jason asked. “And the fauns at Camp Jupiter don’t do things like that either.”

Grover blushed. “Different satyrs different strengths. Coach Hedge’s happens to be taking the action route. He doesn’t care for nature magic too much but he can do it. There’s a lot of satyrs who are a lot better than me.”

“None as loyal though,” Percy told him. “I can attest to that. Pan did.”

“None as brave either,” Juniper agreed making Grover blushed even harder.

“Plus your magic kept getting better since we met. I can say you’re one of the best now,” Annabeth agreed.

Grover looked down still blushing. “Thanks.”

Zoe told them that the security guards weren’t there worry nnow. She pointed out across the lawn through the glass walls. Looking straight toward them were the skeletons. Percy told them to go because the skeletons were hunting him. He’d keep them distracted.

Carter looked at him. “You really have no self-preservation. Do you?”

“Nope. Not really,” Percy agreed.

Zoe said that they would go together. Percy looked at her and said that she had said when she interrupted saying he was part of this quest now whether she liked it or not. They weren’t leaving anyone behind.

“Finally,” Alex groaned. “Everyone on that quest was an idiot.”

“Hey!”

“It’s true,” she said. “You all couldn’t look past your own reasons for going and come to your compromises. Thank Odin I don’t have to bear that anymore.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Everyone was still trying to get over Alex calling them idiots and trying to decide whether or not to really be insulted. She was grinning at them while Magnus was rolling his eyes half amused and half annoyed. Finally they all stopped when she was cackling madly and decided to let it be.

The projection started on Percy sitting in a Ferrari looking out from the train windows on the sunset. A homeless guy was sitting next to him having suddenly appeared from no where.

“Did this actually happen? You can’t just suddenly be on a train transporting sports cars with a homeless guy,” Piper protested.

“It happened,” Percy and Apollo said together. Percy looked at Apollo who winked and he sighed.

“We ran out and we couldn’t take the van or they would recognize it. Bianca took us onto the subway, she said it hadn’t been there when she lived in DC as a kid even though it was really old. We got lost near some warehouses and the train tracks. A homeless guy, that one invited us to his fire and asked us if we needed a train. He pointed us to the Sun West Line.”

“I’m an idiot,” Thalia said. “How didn’t Zoe recognize you either?”

Apollo looked surprised at her demand and everyone else was looking at him. “She was too focused on other things. So were you. And I was in disguise. You weren’t supposed to recognize me.”

“You just made it fairly obvious,” Will told his dad groaning. “Sun West, really Dad?”

Apollo shrugged.

“Anyway,” Percy continued. “We got on the train which was transporting luxury cars. Thalia and I had a talk and I told her that they wanted her alone. She told me about San Francisco being bad for demigods and the Mountain of Dispair being there. I know now that’s not the only reason. But she didn’t really explain what the Mountain of Despair was. Then I got her mad.”

“You guys fight a lot,” noted Frank.

“Not anymore. Not since I joined the Hunters at least. That’s what he said that made me mad anyway. Percy, being as perceptive as he is, realized that I didn’t get along with Zoe because I had refused being a hunter. I would have if I didn’t have to leave Luke. And Zoe told me he’d let me down someday.”

“Oh.” The sound echoed across the room.

Thalia sighed. “Yeah. Then Percy agreed that Zoe was right and I had to say that Luke had never let me down. Percy pointed out we were going to have to fight him and might even have to kill him. So I kicked him out of the car and told him he should think about why Annabeth would have wanted to join the Hunters.”

Percy looked down as Annabeth looked at him. “It wasn’t you.”

“I know.”

“You’ve never abandoned me. Not when you could do anything about it. Luke did and I felt betrayed. It was a thought. I wasn’t going to go through with it. Not while I still had you.”

Percy clutched her hand and nodded. “I was just scared. I didn’t want to lose you and I thought I might be the one driving you away. The reason I hated Luke so much was because I was jealous of him, and because he betrayed us all. He hurt you and Thalia the most and I couldn’t stand that.”

Annabeth sighed. “We both couldn’t look past our own fears back then. But remember you could never drive me away.”

“I’m stupid,” Thalia interrupted. “I knew I was hurting you and I was just upset because I knew you were right about Luke. So I decided to get back at you when you didn’t deserve it.”

“Don’t apologize,” Percy told her.

“I’m doing it. I’m sorry and I was a jerk,” Thalia announced. “There. Now everyone is caught up.”

The homeless man spoke up telling Percy not to be afraid of dreams. Dreams were the way he knew things about the future. They told him more than Olympian tabloids. He recited a Haiku and Percy guessed he was Apollo.

“Why that thing about dreams though?” asked Rachel.

“That’s what I was thinking about when he appeared,” Percy admitted. “I didn’t want to go to sleep.”

Apollo told him he was incognito and to call him Fred.

“Fred?” asked Calypso almost snorting.

“It’s better than Lester Papadalous,” Apollo grumbled. “You don’t get to say anything to me. Witch.”

Percy repeated that name asking if it was godly. Apollo said Zeus insisted on gods not interfering with quests. But Apollo wouldn’t let anyone mess with his sister.

“That’s sweet,” cooed Jaz.

“Artemis thinks he’s over protective,” Thalia said. “She hates it.”

“It’s just the way he shows he loves her,” Rachel interrupted. “And it’s not a bad thing. He helped on your quest. Either way, it’s nice.”

Apollo was looking away. He missed his sister, she was never turned mortal, never punished alongside him. He wasn’t his fathers favorite like she was. But she was looking after him he knew. And he just regretted they couldn’t be together like always.

Percy asked if he could help them then. Apollo shushed him and said he had and to look out side. Percy nodded asking how fast they were moving. Apollo said fast enough but they were running out of time, they’d get a good way here. Percy asked where Artemis was. Apollo said he knew a lot and saw a lot but his vision was clouded and he hated it.

“Like now,” Apollo grumbled.

“She’s fine,” Thalia assured him. “Just worried about you and trying to convince Zeus to bring you back to Olympus.”

Percy asked if he knew what the monster they were looking for was. Apollo told him he didn’t but he should ask Nereus who had a long memory and knew more than the oracle sometimes.

“Nereus?” Jason and Reyna asked.

“Yeah,” Percy said. “I’m guessing you romans are why he hates demigods.”

“We use him a lot. We don’t have an oracle,” Reyna agreed. “We only had Octavian.”

“But like Apollo said,” Rachel pointed out. “The oracle doesn’t know everything. At least not the Oracle of Delphi. That’s why the other ones exist. And why they’re coming back.”

Annabeth suddenly cursed and scribbled something down madly. “You just made me realize something. If all the Oracles are coming back, after the worlds have all interacted and something else is coming.”

“Another great prophecy,” Apollo said with eyes wide. “Probably the greatest. A result of all the Oracles. But to hear it I’ll need to succeed in my quest first.”

“So it’s after the Triumvirate the Fates want us to know about,” Percy said. “Something about me still. Either way, that means you’ll defeat them.”

“It’s just a theory,” Annabeth reminded them. “But I’ll make a note of the idea.”

Apollo told Percy he had to run and probably couldn’t risk helping them again. He told Percy to get his sleep and make a good haiku about their quest. Then Apollo snapped his fingers and Percy slumped as he opened his mouth to protest. He fell asleep immediately.

“Thank you,” Annabeth told Apollo.

He shrugged. “No problem.”

THe scene changed. It was someone else wearing a greek tunic and leather sandals with the Nemean lion skin. A girl was towing him along telling him to hurry or they would be found. The man declared he wasn’t afraid and she said he should be. They hid behind a thorn bush. The man assured her again they didn’t need to run. He’d killed thousands of monsters with his bare hands.

“What’s going on?” asked a very confused Jason. “This isn’t you or anything. Why are we watching something from Ancient Greece?”

“Something about Hercules,” Piper agreed knowing Jason was going to point it out. “What does he have to do with this?”

“A lot,” Percy sighed.

The girl told him he couldn’t beat this monster, Ladon this way. He had to go around the mountain to her father. That was the only way. The man said he didn’t trust her father. THe girl agreed he shouldn’t and they would have to trick him because they couldn’t take the prize outright or he’d die. He asked why she wouldn’t help him. She said she was afraid, she would be disowned by her sisters and Ladon would stop her.

Calypso gasped.

Thalia looked at Percy surprised. “The Hesperides?”

“The golden apple,” Percy agreed. “I guess when Luke did that quest he met Atlas. And he got scratched by Ladon. It makes a lot of sense.”

“He didn’t say anything about it,” Annabeth confirmed. “But how he acted after… what happened… he probably did.”

THe man said there was nothing too it. The girl yelled for him to wait. She took a pin out of her hair and told him to take it. It was from her mother and it holds power from the Ocean.

Everyone looked to Percy. “A pin that holds the Oceans power?”

“Watch,” Percy said grinning suddenly. “I hated everything about this dream but this. It’ll make a lot more sense in a moment.”

The girl blew a breath on the pin until it glowed she told the man to take it and make a weapon from it. The man laughed and asked how a hairpin would kill Ladon. She said it was all she could give him even though it might not work. The man took the hairpin and it became a long bronze sword.

“No way,” Leo said looking at Percy.

“Yes way,” Percy said twiddling with the pen in his fingers. “Cursed history. Ancient sword to do with the sea.”

Blah-Blah-Blah,” said Jack growing from the medallion on Magnus’s neck. “Pen form sucks. So do hairpins. And your sword can’t even talk.”

“Jack,” Magnus complained. “Shut up.”

No way! Sumerbrander all the way!”

Percy laughed. “You’ve got a pretty cool sword too.”

“Another one with a bad history and a curse,” Magnus agreed. “Do all magic weapons have that?”

“Mine does,” Piper said holding up Katropis.

“My medallion didn’t,” Jason said.

“My spear and Aegis,” Thalia said. “Debatable.”

“My old knife,” Annabeth sighed. “We know that for sure.”

“So a lot of them,” Magnus decided.

“But not all,” Hazel told him. “Mine doesn’t. Neither does Nico’s or any of Frank’s stuff, or Reyna’s or…”

“Thanks Hazel,” Percy interrupted. “But why don’t we just finish.”

The man asked what he should name the sword. She told him Anaklusmos, the current that took you by surprise so you were suddenly swept out to sea. Then there was a hissing noise and the girl cried out that he was here.

“Wait, that voice is familiar,” said Piper suddenly as the projection collapsed.

“Yeah, it would be,” Percy confirmed. “We’ve been listening to her for the past day.”

“Zoe?” Nico asked surprised. “Riptide comes from Zoe? She helped Hercules? That was Zoe?’

Percy nodded. “We didn’t really talk about it but yeah. That was all Zoe.”

Annabeth looked at him and his eyes crinkling, drooping. He was exhausted, emotionally and physically. Plus several things had been revealed or he’d learnt of today that were taking a big toll on him, that she was sure of though no one else might notice. “I think we should stop here for the night.”

“It’s a good place too,” Grover confirmed. “Right before New Mexico.”

“New Mexico?” asked Rachel with a grin. “Like when we….”

“Shh!” Percy told her tiredly. “Spoilers.”

“C’mon,” Annabeth said pulling him up. “You need some sleep.”

“Is that all we’re doing?” he said making her blush. “Like in the stables. On the Argo II.”

“Shut up now,” she said pulling him away as everyone else laughed harder than before. She glared at them and they stopped only to start again when the door shut behind them.

 

Chapter Text

 

Annabeth pulled Percy over to the desk in the room she was in spreading out some maps, scrolls and the notes she had been taking. He was no longer acting tired, though he definitely was. She knew he had just done that as an outlet after everything. But now they were alone.

“You want to talk about the possibility of another prophecy,” Percy sighed sitting on the edge of a bed. “I just wanted to be done with all that stuff. I thought after the Giant War was our chance.”

“I did too,” Annabeth said. “But there was no Oracle, so there was no prophecies. But Apollo’s bringing all the Oracle’s back. The likelihood is there will be another big prophecy. Possibly from all of them.”

Percy nodded. “Right. And the fates brought us here. They’re the ones who know what will happen. And because they say it’s about me the prophecy—”

“-Probably is too.”

Percy sighed flopping back on the bed. “It never stops. I keep thinking I’m done. I know all the powers I have, I can’t do anything else. No more quests, or expectations on me. No more world saving. Then bam! Everything crashes down and there’s a whole lot more.”

Annabeth came and sat next to him. “For some reason you’re different Percy. We always knew you were powerful. More than Thalia, and even Nico or Jason who are stronger than most demigods on their own. But sometimes you seem like you can do more than all of them combined.”

“I couldn’t.”

“You probably could,” Apollo said coming in. “I figured you were talking about the prophecy thing. And Annabeth is right. The gods aren’t just scared of Percy because he’s a child of the big three or the one of two prophecies. He’s as powerful as several minor gods and maybe even some major ones. Several people beat Ares and killed all those monster. You did both, beat titans, giants, Egyptian magicians, faced a primordial, and though I haven’t heard anything I’m guessing you’ve taken down other major gods down on your own.”

Percy looked down. “You’ll see.”

“The point is you’re different than other demigods. You have more powers. Something Roman, something Greek. Only children of Neptune have been known to make earthquakes or explode volcanoes. And only children of Poseidon have used hurricanes, controlled water and talked to horse.”

“I can’t be Roman and Greek,” Percy squawked. “It’s not possible.”

“Somehow it seems like you are. You were the only one of the seven besides Piper, who wasn’t affected by the Greek/Roman schism. The rest of us were messed up because our parents couldn’t decide on a state to stay in. You were just fine.” Annabeth said calmly. “There’s also all the prophecies and things that come up. You predict things no one else thought of, you’re observant like with a second sight, and your dreams, their not just of things that are happening, but they’re also of the past. That’s not a normal demigod dream.”

Sadie knocked then. “Dreams? We’re talking Ba travel in Percy’s case.”

“Ba?”

“Carter explained before but it’s part of the Egyptian soul.”

“So now I’m Roman, Greek and Egyptian?” Percy groaned. “No norse gods or things for me.”

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Annabeth said. “But we’ve been making a list of things. Things that you do that just… that aren’t normal demigod things.”

“I’ve never been normal,” Percy sighed. “Read it.”

Annabeth nodded. “You look a lot more like Poseidon then any other demigod resembles their godly parent. We all have something but according to several people you’re a close clone.”

Percy agreed. “Mom said I always looked like dad.”

Annabeth continued. “You were always in the Fates plans, and the plans of Kronos and Gaea. The oracle moved when you arrived at camp. Not a coincidence. You were almost immediately recognized as part of both great prophecies.”

Apollo held up a hand. “Kronos and Gaea planned for Percy as their pawn. The fates have called him the link. They’re putting him above just saving both camps again. It’s a bit different.”

Annabeth read the next one. “You also beat a god with next to no training and two monsters without any. And from what you just said I think you beat another god but just didn’t give me the whole story about it.”

Percy looked at her sheepishly.

“Whatever. I’ll find out. Either way, at twelve your powers shouldn’t have let you do that. But you did. You also heal better, with or without water. You’re harder to take down, even without your curse.”

“Curse?” Sadie asked.

“It’ll come up,” Percy told her. “But I’m pretty sure those are son of Poseidon things. Right?”

“Maybe,” Apollo said. “Didn’t pay enough attention. But she is right about you being more powerful at twelve.”

“You also speak latin, Egyptian, greek, and the language of your dad’s sacred animals. No one else can speak any animal language, besides Grover but that’s expected.”

“They can’t?” Percy asked surprised.

“No,” Apollo confirmed. “That one is a son of Poseidon thing though. All of them could talk to fish. Not sure about horses, but there’s always been a definite preference there.”

“The Egyptian we decided was from being Nekhebet’s host. But Percy probably shouldn’t have been able to do that either,” Sadie admitted. “He’s the first host that wasn’t a magician or blood of the pharoah’s.”

The other three looked at her surprised. She held up her hands. “You’re welcome to test that theory and host an Egyptian god, one who might burn you up. But I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“And you also said the soul-traveling thing is an Egyptian thing?” Annabeth asked.

“The Ba, yeah.”

“Like Ba, Ba Black Sheep?” Percy asked.

Both girls exchanged glances. Annabeth looked at him. “There’s a few other things. You managed to control all four winds in the compass when we were in the sea of monsters. That might have to do with it being a gift from Hermes but Jason admitted he had trouble harnessing winds like that. Especially all four at once.”

“It was probably just the compass itself,” Percy excused.

“Then there’s your fatal flaw,” Annabeth said. “Half the choices you make are because of it. Most of the quests you went on had to do with it as well. But you’ve worked past it. Like when you used the pearl on yourself instead of your mother. And Leo pointed out it happened in the Argo II as well.”

Percy shook his head. “Other people have worked past their fatal flaws. That’s kind of the whole point.”

“Ugh, I’m just not sure how to explain it,” Annabeth admitted crossing something off on her paper. “But I’ll make you understand it. Then we have the two last things.”

“What?” Percy asked.

“The possibility of a charmspeak like power that Piper wanted to test,” Annabeth said. “That would have to do with the Sirens. You easily make people listen to you. You’ve convinced people I never though would agree. She might be right but we’ll leave that test for later.”

“SO what was the second one?” Apollo asked. He was studying Percy again and the said person was squirming under his gaze while also trying to hold back a yawn.

“Could Percy have been blessed by a god? There were some mentions before of memories of smiles, bright lights, and things like that,” Annabeth said. “I thought you could check.”

“Not now without my godly powers but it’s a good theory.”

“This still doesn’t explain everything,” Percy said angrily. “No explanation of me possibly being Greek and Roman and doing Egyptian things. No clues as to why I can do things other people can’t. And we’re not even sure about this prophecy thing.”

“Not yet,” Apollo reminded him.

“I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to be involved in any of this anymore. I want to go to college, help my mom when my sister is born, be with Annabeth and just live my life. I’m going to sleep,” he declared standing up giving Annabeth a look for a moment before deciding against doing something and marching out.

Annabeth sighed watching him go. She slumped where she was sitting and Sadie sat next to her putting an arm around her. Apollo watched awkwardly before pointing to the door. “Um…I’m going to go now.”

Both girls glared at him and he ran out. Then Annabeth groaned in frustration scowling as she looked up at Sadie. “Percy was right. I wanted to have my normal life for a bit too. But I’m learning my family was never normal. We’re involved with the Norse gods too. And somehow it’s all tying together now. We’re never going to get a rest.”

Sadie looked at Annabeth. This older girl was one of her biggest role models and best friends now. She was everything Sadie wanted to be, and maybe more. Sadie wanted to be like Percy too and seeing them this way scared her a bit more than she’d like to admit. “You and Percy…. You guys aren’t just heroes now. You’re leaders…the whole mythical world looks at what happens with you two. And neither of you ever gave up or stopped fighting. Now isn’t the time. You might never get a rest, but neither will any of us. Because we’ll all be fighting with you.”

Annabeth sighed, nodding and drying off some of her tears. She straightened up and looked at Sadie. “Why don’t we grab some food and steal one of the boys video games? Or we can break into one of the rooms with a TV and make fun of a cheesy movie.”

Sadie grinned. She’d chosen Annabeth as her friend for a reason after all. Both girls walked out only to see Piper who was rolling her eyes. “They’re choosing my dare. Or coming up with ideas. What are you two up too?”

Sadie told her and Piper grinned as well. Annabeth smiled. She had her friends for support. And Percy had her as well as everyone else. They’d be fine and take on the challenges that came together. That she was sure of.

Chapter Text

The next morning Percy only showed up to Breakfast as everyone was leaving. He grabbed a plate of food and sat far away from everyone eating angrily. Annabeth’s gaze was on him concerned. He looked down as the hologram thingy rose and sighed.

They were in the middle of a town with a sign saying welcome to Cloud Croft, New Mexico hanging over them. Thalia sarcastically declared this was great as she looked around and saw there was no transportation. Grover jumped up to say there was a coffee shop.

“I don’t think that’s what Thalia was looking for,” snorted Frank.

“Transportation Goat boy,” agreed Annabeth.

Zoe agreed Coffee was good as Grover added in saying pastries and wax paper as well. Thalia was sighing telling them both to get them food. She’d go with Percy and Bianca to try and get directions. Then the scene skipped Percy was standing alone with Bianca. He asked her how she liked being a hunter so far and she asked if he was still mad at her for joining. Percy replied he wasn’t as long as she was happy.

“That was a lie,” Percy muttered. Nico seemed to have recognized it as well because he gave Percy a thankful but sad glance.

Meanwhile Annabeth was looking at Bianca and back at the Percy in the hologram. Bianca’s expression was one she had worn around Percy many times. One she had seen countless girls and even a few boys wear around him too. The beginnings of a crush.

Rachel caught her eye and pointed having realized as well. Annabeth nodded. Her guess was Bianca, like Nico had started to crush on Percy as soon as he saved them. Then they saw how he acted when Annabeth had disappeared. Bianca who was sick of responisibility, her brother and being alone chose to go with the hunters where she could never be heart broken. Nico had been left alone thinking his crush on Percy was wrong, he was a bad person, and that he was all alone and unloved.

Bianca explained she couldn’t really be happy without Artemis but it was still cool. She was calmer and everything was slower. She continued that Nico didn’t understand her decision. Then she looked up at Percy.

“I didn’t really either,” he admitted. “But I couldn’t upset her then. And I knew we’d take care of Nico. Or I’d try too.”

Percy promised Nico would be alright and camp took in a lot of little kids. Like Annabeth. Bianca nodded saying she hoped they found Annabeth who was lucky to have a friend like Percy. Percy said it hadn’t helped her.

Percy now was looking up at her with hauntingly blue green eyes such a sad and calm expression on. He seemed to agree with the sentiments of his past self. Annabeth was frowning at him as if to tell him it wasn’t true but he looked back down.

Bianca told him not to blame himself. Percy had saved her and Nico and the only reason she felt sure about leaving Nico at camp was because of him. If there were people like him there Nico would be okay. Percy was a good guy.

Nico looked up. It was starting to seem like Bianca had looked at Percy a lot like he had originally. No, because she had joined the hunters. Bianca just must have realized what kind of person Percy was and that they were part of a family, or at least where meant to be one.

Percy looked at her surprised and asked if she meant that even though he had knocked her over in capture the flag. She laughed and said except for that. He asked what the story was with her and Nico as Zoe and Grover approached. She told him they had been in boarding school in DC before Westover. It seemed like a long time ago.

“Because it was,” Nico mumbled looking down. This wouldn’t be so shocking to everyone. They’d kind of already revealed Nico wasn’t from this time when Percy’s visit to the Lotus Hotel and Casino had showed up.

Percy asked if they’d ever lived with their mortal parents. Bianca said they were told their parents were dead and there was a bank trust. A lawyer came by once and a while and then we had to leave that school. Percy asked why. She looked confused and tried to remember saying they had to go somewhere. They stayed at a hotel for a few weeks and then a different lawyer got them out and they were sent to Westover.

“A few weeks,” Jason asked incredulously. “It only seemed like a few weeks?”

“Less than a month,” Nico agreed.

He asked if it had been her and Nico all their life, her raising him. She nodded saying she joined the hunters because of that, to be free of the responsibility and have her own life. Then the scene skipped to Zoe and Grover giving them the food and Zoe suggesting they do the tracking spell. She asked if Grover had any acorns left. Grover was chewing on his muffin and it’s wrapper and stopped to say he thought so. Then he froze.

“What’s wrong?” asked Reyna suddenly on guard. “Did he smell a monster?”

“Get your weapons out,” Clarisse snarled. “Be on watch.”

“Constant Vigilance!” Alex yelled. Half the room erupted while the other half looked confused.

A breeze came by and everyone froze. Zoe gasped then pointing to Grover’s cup. Grover dropped the cup as the birds on it came to life and flew away. A rat squeaked.

“At least the birds didn’t poop on you when they came to life,” Sadie said with a grin.

“Yes,” Zia agreed with a smirk. “We can’t all have Carter’s luck.”

Grover collapsed then and they all surrounded him trying to wake him up. His eyes fluttered as Thalia ran forward asking what happened. Percy explained he collapsed. He groaned and Thalia yelled for him to get up because they had to get out of there.

“So a monster then,” deduced Piper. “But what monster could bring drawings and inanimate things to life? It was a monster Grover smelled. Right?”

“Not really,” said everyone who had been there.

“I’ve only seen things brought to life in that way through Egyptian magic,” Annabeth admitted. “Sadie’s shown me before. That’s not a greek power, at least not to a demigod or monster.”

They ran to the edge of the town when two skeletons came forward and stepped out wearing police uniforms. They drew guns and everyone took out their weapons.

“Against guns,” Clarisse said nervously. “Even you’re not a match for that Prissy.”

Thalia ordered they back up but then two more skeletons appeared behind them. Grover was moaning as one of the skeletons clicked on the phones. He was yelling it was near. Percy said it was here. Grover was shaking insisting it wasn’t the gift was coming. The gift of the wild.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Carter asked.

“It’s nature magic,” Magnus realized. “The things coming alive. All of that. That’s why Grover’s reacting like that. He’s attuned with nature.”

Thalia insisted they go one-on-one with the skeletons. That way they might leaved Grover alone. Zoe agreed and Grover moaned again that the wild was there again. Another wind blew. Percy charged his face contorting furiously. A skeleton fired and the bullet sailed towards him. But it didn’t hit Percy. A clang was heard and a slash from riptide and the Bullet flew away.

“You deflected a bullet on your sword,” gaped Chris. “Not even kids of Hermes are that fast.”

“I’ve never seen that done,” agreed his girlfriend. “And I’ve seen every battle tactic, and tried to use it.”

“It was my ADHD I think,” Percy said. “I focused in. But I could also feel it in the air and it’s direction like an ocean current.”

“It’s still pretty amazing,” Rachel told him.

Percy shrugged. “Sure.”

Another skeleton drew a baton and Percy sliced him in half. But the skeleton began to put himself together. Percy knocked another’s guns into the snow. Until then the others had been watching in awe and shock. Then two shots fired and Thalia yelled Percy’s name. He landed faceforward in the street.

“You were shot,” Hazel said shocked. “You were shot. On a quest. You were in the middle of nowhere.”

“I’m fine Hazel,” Percy assured her.

“But you were shot.”

“It didn’t hurt me though.”

Percy got up and grinned pulling on his coat sleeve. Then the other’s charged. Zoe and Bianca shot arrows and Thalia charged another. Grover tried to hug the trees.

“You’re really out of it,” Magnus noted. “Again. Remind me never to let you and Hearth meet in that state.”

“What?” asked Blitz. “Oh… when he gets hit in the head and starts signing nonsense.”

Then a crashing sound came from behind them. They were all fighting now. Then a skeleton lunged for Bianca and she stabbed one in the chest with her hunting knives. The skeleton exploded in flames.

“What?” asked a surprised Frank. “How did she do that? Those things are indistructable.”

“To certain people,” Nico corrected him. “Don’t forget. She’s my sister. She had some of the same powers over the dead I did. Though my hellfire isn’t as strong as that yet.”

“You control the dead?” asked Sadie.

“Yeah,” agreed Nico. “Not like Walt though. And usually bones or souls and ghosts.”

“So what about Magnus and Alex?” Samira asked with a smirk. THe other two looked at her with wide eyes. She didn’t.

“I can try,” Nico grinned. He raised a hand and Magnus got up. He slapped himself in the face. “Stop hitting yourself.”

Magnus hit himself again. “Stop it dude.”

“Only when you stop hitting yourself.”

Magnus growled and Alex laughed. He turned on her. “Let’s see how you like it.”

Suddenly Alex and Magnus were dancing an awkward tango across the room as everyone else laughed and Samira and Annabeth took pictues. Nico was wearing an evil grin as they begged for him to stop and threw insults each other.

“You’re the man Maggie! Lead!”

“You said you wanted to be called he today,” he yelled back at her.

“Yeah. But I don’t want to insult your masculinity. You’re not confident in it like I am in mine.”

“I’m not the one who chooses who leads anyway,” Magnus complained. He looked at Nico who was weakening and his arms were drooping. Suddenly Magnus and Alex stopped. Both stumbled away from each other.

Nico yawned and curled up onto Will’s shoulder. “Need a nap. Wake me up later.”

“He’ll be fine in five,” Will told everyone. “I’ll catch him up when he wakes up. He just needs a power nap.”

Zoe demanded to know how Bianca had done it. Bianca said she was nervous saying a lucky stab. She was told to do it again but the skeletons again. Percy asked for the plan and the branches cracked as Grover moaned again it was a gift.

“What gift?” asked Piper. “Magnus said it was nature magic and you guys seem to have agreed. What could be sending nature magic gifts and what’s it doing to you guys?”

“It was a gift,” Percy agreed. “Kind of.”

“Sort of,” Thalia agreed.

“It was!” Grover protested. His two friends looked at him incredulously.

“We almost died,” Percy told him.

“We always almost die,” Grover pointed out.

“That’s true,” Annabeth told them. “And there’s also no point in arguing about this.”

A boar the height of a building, around thirty feet, came crashing out of the woods. It squealed and sent the three skeletons flying with it’s giant tustks. They smashed into pieces on the side of the mountain. Then the pig turned on them.

“That’s a gift?” Carter asked incredulously.

“It’s a giant boar,” Clarisse said appreciatively. “Those things are tough.”

“It’s tough? It’s going to send them into more pieces than those skeletons!” Frank pointed out.

“Uh, Frank…. We’re right here, not in pieces,” Percy pointed out.

“Not the point,” Frank grumbled.

Grover yelled for them not to kill it as the Boar prepared to charge. Zoe said that was the Erymanthian boar, she didn’t think they could do it even if they wanted too. Grover said again it was a gift, a blessing. The boar swung it’s tusks and Bianca and Zoe dove away. Percy pushed Grover down saying he felt blessed. Then he yelled for them to scatter.

“It did save you from those Skeletons,” Chris said. “And Grover’s usually right about nature stuff. His instincts are great. If he says it’s a blessing it is.”

Percy nodded. “Yeah. I was just nervous. He was kind of unconscious. The last time he was like that was with the minotaur when he was yelling for food. I wasn’t sure if it was just delirious mumbling again.”

“It wasn’t,” Grover huffed.

“I know,” Percy told him.

Thalia said it wanted to kill them as Grover agreed saying of course it did. It was a wild board. Emphasis on the wild.

Everyone looked on him and he blushed. Especially as Annabeth put her head in her hands and shook it and Leo looked at him. “Are you sure you weren’t delirious?”

“Yes!”

Bianca asked how that was a blessing. Then the big charged her. She rolled out of the way and came up behind it. As it turned it destroyed the welcome sign of the town. Zoe yelled for them to keep moving. She and Bianca ran in different directions as Grover played his pipes as the boar tried to gouge him. The boar then turned on Percy and Thalia and Thalia raised Aegis. The boar squealed. And charged.

“Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!” Thalia said hitting her head.

“Don’t say that,” Annabeth told her.

“It was instinct,” Jason agreed. “A good one in most cases.”

“Just not this time,” Thalia pointed out. No one answered.

Percy and Thalia ran up hill weaving in and out of trees as the boar ploughed through the forest behind them. Percy reached some train tracks buried in snow. Percy pulled Thalia’s arm and they ran along the tracks while the boar ran trying to run without slipping on the icy hill.

“Smart,” Sam said approving. “The snow doesn’t work well with boar hooves.”

“Not an issue for goats,” Grover grinned.

Percy yelled for Thalia to follow him and ran into a tunnel coming out onto a rope bridge which dropped on a cliff side. The boar was approaching behind them and Thalia screamed no.

“This is familiar,” Jason said. “You’ve gotten better at handling it.”

“Handling what?” asked Nico looking at Thalia.

“Percy will probably show it and explain,” Thalia said looking down. “Not my proudest moment.”

Percy yelled for her to come it would most likely hold their weight. Panicked Thalia yelled she couldn’t. The boar smashed the tunnel and Percy yelled now. Thalia didn’t move. The boar charged through. Percy tackled Thalia and both of them slid to the edge of the bridge sliding down on Aegis like a snowboard.

Percy grinned. “I’ve kind of become a pro on boarding on unusual object by now.”

“Really?” Annabeth asked. “I’ve never seen you do it.”

Percy turned darker and frowned. “Because it was always when we weren’t together. I’ll show you the next time we get attacked on the side of a mountain.”

“No thanks,” Annabeth said. “I’ve seen it. Just now.”

They slid down the mountain and the boar tried to turn but couldn’t continuing to run on the bridge. It broke under him making him fall into a snowdrift at the bottom. Thalia and Percy skidded at the bottom, Percy was now cut up and bleeding. Thalia had pine needles in her hair.

“I thought you were done with being a tree?” Will asked teasingly.

Thalia growled as others laughed. “That’s it.”

Will grinned at her. “C’mon Thalia. You like me.”

“Don’t hurt him,” Nico grumbled waking up. He looked at Will. “What’d I miss?”

Will started to catch him up as the others watched what was happening.

The boar was struggling in the snow. It was wedged in the snow squealing and unable to move. Yet it was unhurt.

“You managed to trap it without hurting it,” Reyna said surprised. “A good strategy.”

“I wasn’t even trying,” Percy shrugged. “Just was trying to escape. Worked out in my favor either way.”

Percy turned to Thalia saying she was scared of heights. She glared at him telling him not to be stupid.

“He might seem that way sometimes. But Percy hasn’t been so stupid, maybe a bit of a goof or oblivious sometimes, but not stupid,” Magnus said. “He’s reading you right.”

Thalia’s shoulders sagged. She sighed. “It’s not really an open thing but a lot of people know anyway now. But at that point Percy was the first one to realize. And I didn’t want anyone to know. The daughter of Zeus, scared of heights?”

“It’s not so impossible,” Percy told her. “I haven’t really admitted this. Some of you may have already realized though. Especially those who were on the Argo.”

He looked at Jason and Piper and sighed.

“I almost drowned in a bog in Alaska, then in a magical water place in Rome. One where I couldn’t breathe. Again in the meditteranean. Tartarus too. I’m getting over it now but for a bit I was scared of drowning,” Percy admitted.

Everyone stared at him.

Thalia repeated it surprised. “You were scared of drowning?”

“I never did drown. Thanks to Jason, Annabeth, Piper, Hazel and Frank. And I’m okay now. But sometimes it will still hit me.”

“I’m scared of my powers too,” Nico admitted. “Going to far and becoming darkness myself, or even a ghost. And I think Bianca was scared of death. She chose to become immortal.”

Only the big three kids and Will heard him. He looked away but continued. “Now we can all stop this sharing and being embarrassed and finished.”

Percy continued saying it explained her freak out while driving the Sun car and why she didn’t talk about it. She sighed and said if he told anyone… Percy cut her off saying he wouldn’t. Then pointed out she was the daughter of Zeus. It was kind of Ironic.

“Can’t say that now,” Percy said with a little huff of a laugh.

Grover came over as Thalia reached out to tackle him. Percy cried out they were down there. The others joined them and Grover looked at the boar a bit upset saying it was the blessing of the wild.

“I do agree it did try to kill us,” Grover admitted.

Zoe agreed saying they had to use it. Thalia demanded to know why they thought it was a blessing. Grover said it was a ride west. It could travel fast.

“How fast?” asked a curious Hazel.

“Two or three states. Just over the speed of a train. Two or three hours time,” Ella stated. “Erymanthian boar. Atlanta’s hunt.”

“Right,” Thalia agreed. She grinned at Ella. “You’re a pretty cool harpy.”

Ella squawked with pleasure.

Percy said that could be fun. Like being a pig cowboy.

Everyone snorted or laughed.

Grover said they had to get aboard the pig now. But he did wish he had more time to look around. Either way it was gone now.

“What’s gone?” Jason asked.

Grover held a finger to his lips in a hush sign shaking his head.

Percy asked what was gone.

Jason groaned. “Dare.”

“Good,” Leo said. “Now I can come up with one for you. And Piper.”

“At least I don’t have to wear Carter’s clothes anymore,” Sadie said.

“And I don’t have to wear a toilet paper turban,” Walt agreed.

Grover jumped on the boar’s back. It was already moving through the snow breaking free soon. He took out his pipes and played a tune as he threw an apple toward’s the front of the boar. THe apple floated in front of it and the boar tried to get it. Thalia murmured something about automatic steering and got on with Grover and so did everyone else after. As Percy climbed on he asked if Zoe and Bianca knew what Grover had been talking about. Zoe asked if he hadn’t felt it in the wind. The precense had been so strong she never though she would feel it again before now.

“What prescense?” Samira asked.

Percy laughed.

Percy asked what presence.

Magnus grinned. “Finally. Revenge for mine! “

“No,” said Samira. “Because I’ll be putting money in the jar.”

A blue cookie jar appeared and she put some money in before it disappeared again.

Zoe said that she felt for a moment when the boar arrived the presence of Pan.

Everyone looked at Grover with an open mouth. Reyna raised an eyebrow. “Why after 2,000 years did he reveal his presence? Why to you?”

Grover opened his mouth but Percy held up an arm. “You’ll have to wait a little for that answer Reyna. We’re getting to the next part.”

Chapter Text

Percy leaned over after he finished saying that. Thalia did immediately recognizing why he had. Nico looked at them both. Suddenly his eyes widened and he took a deep breath. “This is it. Isn’t it?”

“You don’t have to watch,” Percy said. “Go. No one will judge you.”

Nico shook his head. “I need the closure. Even talking to her ghost, all that happened. This is the last step.”

“Nico… you’ve been happy. You really don’t need to do this,” Will told him grasping Nico ‘s hand.

“I do. But warning. I might shadow travel out,” he explained.

“Which is fine,” Percy agreed. “If you want to pull any of us out then just go.”

Nico nodded. He raised his voice a little from their hushed group whisper. “Hazel?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m going to need your help,” he said she looked at him and made an oh with her mouth nodding and grabbing his hand.

“Okay. Ready.”

The scene was now at them on a creek where the boar was eating a cactus. Grover said that was all he would go and they needed to get off while he ate. They all slipped off then. The boar burped and ran toward the mountains. Percy noted it liked it there better. Thalia said she couldn’t blame it and pointed to a sign saying the town was called Gila Claw, there was a taco shop, some boarded up buildings and hills of scraps and junk.

“That’s one of my dads junkyards,” Leo guessed. “I’ve heard about them from the other kids in cabin 9. Never seen one.”

“You don’t want to,” Percy said darkly.

Thalia noted they weren’t going to get a car rental here. She asked if another wild boar was possible. Grover was sniffing and threw down some acorns playing his pipes as the acorns rearranged.

“What does that do?” Sadie asked. “It seems like just a bunch of acorns.”

“It’s Satyr magic,” Grover said. “I don’t think you could.”

Zia shrugged. “Magic comes in many forms. But there is something similar in all of it.”

Grover said that was them. Percy asked which one was him. Zoe said the deformed one and Percy told her to shut up.

Cue more laughter.

Grover pointed to a bunch of acorns and said that cluster was trouble. Thalia asked if was a monster. Grover shook his head saying he didn’ t smell anything which made no sense. The acorns didn’t lie. He pointed to the junkyard and said that was their next challenge.

“Not good,” Annabeth muttered catching on to what was happening.

The scene changed. They were camped out there with a campfire next to them. Zoe said the stars were out. Bianca awed said she had never seen the milky way. Zoe said that was nothing, there had been many more before light pollution came into play.

Annabeth gasped. “Percy, do you know who’s granddaughter Zoe was?”

Percy shook his head. Annabeth was closer to him now. He’d forgotten he’d been angry before. She looked at Percy and said so no one else could hear her. “He was a titan.”

“I realized that. Atlas is her dad,” Percy told her.

“Yes, but Atlas’s father was the Titan of the East. A titan you’ve met.”

“Bob,” Percy gasped. “The stars.”

“Bob says hello. I’m wondering if it was a connection to what had happened to Zoe,” Annabeth said.

Percy put an arm around her. He said out louder so everyone could hear him. “The stars are special. For more than one reason to me now. I have friends who’s memory lives on there. More than one. If we can see them like that, with less pollution, then we have too.”

Percy asked how she could now. Zoe said she was a hunter and she cared about the wild places of the world. Could he same the same?

“Yes,” everyone said in agreement. Percy blushed.

Thalia corrected her saying to say you, not thee. They had another argument about the English language before Zoe gave up and said she hated English it changed too much. Grover sighed and looked up at the stars and said if Pan was there he would fix things.

Tears fell from Grover’s eyes. He bleated sadly and Juniper sniffed too.

Zoe nodded. Grover said it might’ve been the coffee. He said if he drank more then maybe he’d learn more. Percy asked if Grover thought it was really Pan. Grover insisted it was and he had sent the help. He didn’t know why but it was. After this quest he was going back to drink coffee to follow the best lead in two thousand years. He was so close.

“It wasn’t the time yet,” Percy told him. “And you were right, but you would just keep getting closer.”

Grover nodded. “I know, dude. I know.”

Thalia interrupted then what she really wanted to know is how Bianca had defeated the skeletons, there were more and they needed to know how to fight them. Bianca said she didn’t know. She just stabbed it. Percy suggested maybe it had been her knife. Zoe pointed out it was the same as hers and her knife hadn’t had the same affect. Percy asked it was a certain spot. Bianca looked down and Zoe told her to forget it. They’d find the answer. For now they needed to get through the junkyard and go west. If they found a road they could hitchhike to Las Vegas.

“No!” Everyone yelled.

Percy held up his hands and they calmed down as they started to argue, protest and shout. “Don’t worry. We didn’t go again.”

There were sighs of relief and Thalia rolled her eyes as Nico bit his lip and looked down. They were just getting closer and closer.

Percy opened his mouth but Bianca was already shouting no. Zoe asked why. Bianca stuttered her and Nico had been there for a while but she couldn’t remember what had happened. Percy’s eyes widened and he exchanged glances with Grover. He asked if it was the Lotus Hotel that they had stayed at.

All the eyes turned to Nico. Reyna threw up her hands in exasperation. “Why are you reacting? You all already knew this. You saw him there when Percy went.”

THe eyes turned down to the floor, away sheepishly.

She asked how Percy knew. Percy huffed this was just great. Thalia asked what the Lotus Casino was. Percy explained he, Annabeth and Grover had gone there and got trapped. It had seemed like an hour but had been five days. Bianca’s eyes widened and she said that wasn’t possible.

“But it is,” Annabeth says. “The Lotus eaters are in the Odyssey. I should have realized it when we went there.”

“Either way, Bianca and Nico hadn’t decided to go there. Not like we did,” Percy said.

“What does that mean?” Jason demanded.

Nico and Percy both stiffened and spoke together. “Nothing!”

Percy continued asking who had come and got them out. Bianca said she didn’t remember. She didn’t want to talk about it. Zoe looked at her and said in Washington Bianca had said it had changed since she had been there. There was a subway now. Bianca agreed then tried to protest. Zoe continued and asked the name of the president.

“Barak Obama in 2013,” Ella said.

Bianca named the president telling them not to be silly. Zoe asked who the president before was. There was a moment of silence. Bianca responded it was Roosevelt.

There were several gasps. Then Walt looked at Nico. “Are we talking FDR or Teddy?”

Nico shook his head. “Bianca will probably say. I’m not from before 1920 though.”

“So you’re like Captain America,” Leo said pointing.

“Or Bucky Barnes,” Chris said.

“We’ve got the makings of a super hero team here. The man frozen in time, a blonde superman, someone with lighting powers like Thor and maybe even the real one, someone like Scarlet Witch, a Black widow who fights just as well as any guy.”

Reyna smirked.

Percy continued. “A beast boy, a Human Torch, and a lot others. Annabeth would be the secret agent that assembles the team.”

“And you’d be Aquaman,” Jason told him.

“I’m not Aquaman,” Percy protested.

His answer was a bunch of snorts.

“And I’m not Bucky,” Nico said finally. “Or Cap.”

“How do you even know who that is?” Thalia asked.

Nico pointed behind him to a grinning Percy, Will and Jason.

Thalia snorted. “Of course.”

Zoe asked Theodore or Franklin. Bianca told her FDR. Percy asked if she meant FDR drive.

“You’re not serious. Are you?” asked Carter.

“No. I mean… I wasn’t the best student. I’m not book smart.”

Zoe softly told Bianca FDR wasn’t the last president. He’d been President 70 years ago. Bianca protested again it was impossible. She wasn’t that old. She flipped her hands over and stared at them.

“She’s immortal now. Does it really matter either way?” Alex asked.

“The shock does,” Annabeth told him.

“It’s a lot to know you’ve missed so much,” Thalia agreed. “And I only missed eight years.”

Silence fell across the room.

Thalia told her it was okay with a sad look. She said all that was important is that she and Nico were safe and out. Then Percy asked how, it was almost impossible to escape. They barely did and had only been there for a bit. Bianca started to say with a broken voice a man had come and said they needed to leave. Percy asked who and why. But then lights shone on them and a car appeared. They scrambled out of the way with their sleeping bags as a white limo parked.

“A white limo?” Piper asked. “No one who rides in a limo will be in a dessert in a deserted town in the middle of the night.”

“But there is one,” Sadie told her. “Monster?”

A door opened and a sword was at Percy’s throat. Bianca and Zoe drew their bows and the owner of the sword got out of the car as Percy backed up so his throat wasn’t sliced. Before his face was revealed he asked if the punk wasn’t fast now. Then he got out and Percy growled, Ares’ name.

“A white Limo isn’t dad’s style. He wouldn’t be there helping you out either,” Clarisse either. “Not my dad Prissy.”

“Your dad is there because someone asked him. Some one whose style is white limo’s,” Thalia told her.

Clarisse and Piper groaned. Then several people’s eyes widened and eyebrows went up as they realized. Piper looked at Percy. “What did mom want?”

“What does she always want?”

Piper groaned again.

Ares told them to be at ease then snapped his fingers. THe weapons all fell. He dug his blade further under Percy’s chin and said it was a friendly meeting. Then he said he wished he could decapitate Percy and take his head as a trophy but there was someone who wanted to see him. He couldn’t kill Percy in front of a lady. Thalia asked what Lady. Ares looked at her and said he’d heard she was back. He told her she wasn’t in good company. She asked what his business was and who was in the car.

“Piper’s mom. The goddess of love?” Jaz asked. “Why is she with Ares?”

“He’s her boyfriend,” Will told her. “Remember the water park?”

“Right. She cheats on Leo’s dad with Frank and Clarisse’s,” Rachel said.

“That’s not the way to think about it,” Piper said. The other three mentioned protested as well.

Ares said that she didn’t want to meet everyone. Especially the hunters. He told them to go get tacos. Percy would only be gone for a few minutes. Zoe said they wouldn’t leave Percy and Ares alone. Grover protested the taco place wasn’t open. Ares snapped his fingers and the lights on the taco place went on so it said it was open. He asked what Grover had been saying.

“Not really the point,” Grover bleated.

Percy told his friends to go. He’d handle it. Ares told them they all heard Percy, he was big and strong, it was under control. His friends left looking back as they ddid. Ares opened the door to the limousine sneering. He told Percy to get inside and mind his manners. She wasn’t as forgiving as Ares.

“Percy is kind of an exception,” Apollo said. “Aphrodite wouldn’t kill him.”

“She wouldn’t?” Piper asked confused. “She likes tragic love stories.”

“She’s done enough to Percy’s in her opinion,” Apollo said. “I think…. She likes him though.”

Annabeth snarled. She didn’t like the way that sounded.

Chapter Text

 

Percy looked at Annabeth then at Apollo. Then back at Annabeth. He sighed. “It’s not like that. Aphrodite has better people to waste her time on then me. Plus after all the hard work she put in to us she wouldn’t break us up wise girl.”

Apollo openend his mouth to say something but a look from Will and an whisper from Leo got him to shut it. Magnus took his oppurtonity at the awkward silence. “This Aphrodite, she’s goddess of love and beauty? I’m guessing she’s really attractive then. Like Freya.”

“Freya?” Annabeth asked. “That sounds like…”

“Frey, she’s my father’s sister. And a ruler of one of the other norse afterlives. She’s the equivalent of your Aphrodite I think. Likes shiny things too I’m guessing?” Magnus asked.

Piper snorted. So did Blitz. “Understatement.”

Annabeth waved them off. “Whatever. You can see for yourself Magnus. Aphrodite takes the form of whatever a person thinks is the most attractive. Most of the time as a woman though. She’s pretty stuck too that. I haven’t enjoyed talking to her and probably won’t enjoy watching this. So could we just start?”

“Deep breaths,” Percy told her. She elbowed him and he grinned making her smile too.

Percy got into the white limo next to a woman wearing a red dress. She was beautiful. Her hair was in blonde ringlets. Her eyes gray and stormy. Then it changed. She suddenly looked like an actress from some TV show. Her appearance kept flickering but the blonde appearance was the most common.

“You had a crush on Topanga from Boy Meets World?” asked a really hard laughing Leo.

“Fifth grade,” Percy blushed. “But yeah. Haven’t had that many other television crushes after that.”

“Not any of anything. Aphrodite shows what you think is attractive and we’re all seeing through Percy’s eyes right? Percy really, really liked Annabeth,” Thalia said.

“I thought we knew that already?” Percy said.

“We can still tease you about it.”

She greeted him saying she was Aphrodite. Percy tried to say something but choked on his words and blushed even harder. He just nodded wide-eyed.

“What’s with you not being able to greet goddesses properly?” asked Jason. “This and before, Artemis.”

“I was distracted… Usually by thinking about Annabeth!”

She told him he was sweet and asked him to hold her mirror as she put on some lipstick. She asked if Percy knew why he was there. Percy pinched himself and told her he didn’t. She asked him if he was still in denial.

“Yes.”

“I wasn’t,” Percy turned to glare at everybody who had answered that together.

“You so were dude,” Chris said.

“I know more than anyone,” Grover told him. “You wouldn’t admit it.”

“We should have just locked you two in a room and forced you to work out the tension,” Clarisse agreed. “And then threw you in the canoe lake.”

“I don’t like that first idea. I wouldn’t mind doing the second again,” Percy grinned as Annabeth laughed.

Clarisse rolled her eyes. “Stupid son of Poseidon.”

Ares was laughing outside the car. Percy glared at the window and turned back to Aphrodite saying he didn’t know what she was talking about.

“See?” Thalia said like she was talking to a two year old. She knocked on his brain enunciating each syllable. “De-Ni-Al.”

“Not just a river in Egypt,” Sadie agreed. Every single magician gave her a disappointed look as she grinned. “What? It was funny.”

Aphrodite asked why he was on the quest. He said that Artemis had been captured. Aphrodite rolled her eyes and said Artemis was hopeless, she shouldn’t have been kidnapped, like only beautiful goddesses should. Percy protested she was chasing a monster, a bad one they really had to find.

“You sound like a three year old arguing,” Carter told him. “And I teach kindergarteners magic on a regular basis. Even Shelby and her bad snake rambles seem clearer than you.”

Aphrodite said there was always some monster and the other people on the quest could worry about that. She was interested in why Percy was on the quest.

Annabeth glared at him. She knew what was coming. “This? This is why our life has had so many twists and turns bestowed on us by the gracious Aphrodite? Because you couldn’t tell her to go away like every other god you meet.”

“You know she’s more tempermental. Also, I’m a guy. I’m more susceptible to her love magic. You know that. Please don’t blame me, she would have interfered anyway. We’re to interesting to her.”

“He’s right,” Piper pointed out. “You and Percy were always going to be interfered with by mom. She wouldn’t have missed out on such an oppurtonity.

Annabeth huffed crossing her arms.

Percy looked away but Aphrodite raised an eyebrow. He slumped and said that Annabeth was in trouble. She nodded ecstatically saying that was the reason. Percy agreed he had to help her. He was having dreams.

Every single person groaned.

Percy sighed. “I know. Mistake.”

Aphrodite squealed it was so cute he dreamed about her. Percy protested that wasn’t what he had meant. She made a scolding noise saying she was on his side and the only reason he was there. She explained the shirt the Stolls gave Phoebe and helping him sneak out of camp on Blackjack was all her.

“What?”

“I’m not really sure how true that was,” Percy frowned. “Maybe the thing about the Stolls. But the other things… I don’t really she had as much to do with it as she pretends too.”

Percy asked surprised if she’d really done it. Aphrodite said of course, she couldn’t stand for this quest to be about the hunters and a monster, it needed to be true love. Percy tried to protest again. Aphrodite shushed him and pointed out Annabeth was thinking about joining the hunters.

“Why does everybody keep bringing that up around him?” Annabeth said. “I was never joining the hunters while I had Percy. If somehow something happened and he was gone, or he broke my heart which I knew he would never do on purpose, that’s when I thought about it. It wasn’t going to happen.”

Percy blushed and said he wasn’t sure. Aphrodite continued he couldn’t let Annabeth throw her life away. He had to save her, be romantic! Percy blushed and made a noise as Aphrodite ordered him to put the mirror down. He was starting to look uncomfortable, looking anywhere but Aphrodite. She told him to listen, the hunters were enemies and to forget them, Artemis and the monster. The only thing that was important was Annabeth.

“Annabeth is the most important,” Percy amended. “But everything else matters too. If I can fix everything I will.”

“Percy…” Annabeth warned.

“Not my fatal flaw. Just me telling the truth about how much I love you. You always come first,” he insisted.

She sighed but didn’t protest. For now.

Percy asked if Aphrodite knew where she was. Aphrodite said she’d leave the details to him, but it had been too long since she had seen a good tragic love story. Percy protested he never said anything about love, and why the tragic.

“Exactly!” Annabeth said throwing her arms up with exasperation. “If you hear me Aphrodite, Percy and I are done with all the meddling.”

“We’re not going to be tragic,” Percy told her. “We’re stronger than that. Better than that. We’re together, aren’t we?”

She nodded.

Aphrodite told him love conquers all and told him to look at Helen and Paris who hadn’t let anything get between them. Percy pointed out they started the Trojan war. Aphrodite said that wasn’t the point, but to follow his heart. Percy told her he didn’t know where it was going. Percy looked at her again. His eyes were full and he looked calm, trusting, but scared. Aphrodite told him not knowing was part of the fun but it was painful. So cute she was going to cry. Percy begged her not too. She told him not to worry, she was giving him anguish, indecision, nothing too easy or boring. Percy’s eyes widened and he insisted it was okay. She shouldn’t go to any trouble.

“Really,” Annabeth said. “Because he wouldn’t have been in denial too much longer if it wasn’t for her.”

Percy nodded. “I’m sorry. I should have made up my mind after Mt. St. Helens.”

Calypso’s eyes widened. Rachel looked at him. Percy’s eyes widened and he looked at them both. He bit his lip. “I’m sorry to anyone Aphrodite drew into my mess of a love life. I caused them some hurt. And I never wanted too. I had a decision made for me a long time ago. Aphrodite just decided to make sure I didn’t act on it and threw some more messes in there for that long time too. I never meant to hurt those of you who I did.”

Rachel raised an eyebrow. “I was the one who kind of sort of dumped you.”

“Still..”

“Don’t apologize,” Calypso told him.

Reyna nodded. “Aphrodite warned me long ago. Yet I kept trying with boys who were destined to love elsewhere, or already had. You and Annabeth have something all of us wish for. Never apologize for it.”

Aphrodite said she wished all her daughters could break the hearts of guys like Percy.

Piper scowled. “Stupid traditions from mom. Silena was smart. I’m glad I haven’t broken anyone’s heart.”

She told him he should go but to be careful in her husband’s junk. His trash was important to him. Percy asked if she meant Hephaestus but Ares pulled him out and shoved him on the ground.

“She’s right,” Leo said looking at Percy. “Dad’s stuff is dangerous. So is half the stuff his kids make. Don’t touch it.”

“I’ve learnt that lesson way too many times by now,” Percy told him. “I won’t for no good reason. Trust me.”

Ares told him he was lucky and he should be grateful. Percy demanded for what. Ares told him that they were nice. He started to threaten if it were up to him before Percy interrupted asking why Ares hadn’t killed him. Ares nodded. He said he wanted to kill Percy but he might start the largest war in history and he couldn’t miss that. Plus Aphrodite loved Percy’s drama and he couldn’t look bad with her.

“Those are great reasons,” Piper said sardonically.

“Let’s just be thankful he didn’t actually kill Percy,” Frank said. “Or we’d all be dead already.”

But he wouldn’t forget his promise. Soon Percy would raise his sword and fail. Percy pointed out he had beat him once and asked how his ankle was healing. Ares said that wasn’t bad but he was the master of taunts, until he was ready to start a fight Percy should get lost.

“I hate Ares,” Percy muttered.

No one said anything though Clarisse growled a bit no one minded her.

Percy stood up from the floor and found himself in the middle of the junkyard with the other questers. He told them it had been Aphrodite in the limo. Bianca asked what she wanted with Percy. Percy said he wasn’t sure but she warned him not to pick anything up from the junkyard.

“That’s so believable,” Nico told him. “Aphrodite never wants anything after all. She’s a goddess that give for the sake of giving.”

Percy didn’t say anything. He knew Nico was just trying to postpone what was coming a little. To hide the pain and anger he was feeling with sarcasm, much like Percy or Thalia did.

Zoe told him that couldn’t be it. Aphrodite wouldn’t make a trip just to say that. He should be careful, she led too many heroes astray. Thalia said she agreed with Zoe for once. Grover was just looking at Percy making the latter squirm.

“Empathy link told you everything, didn’t it?”

“Mostly. But yours is hard to read sometimes. Something about the sea and never being in one direction. There are a few times I can actually tell. Most the time it’s shut off subconsciously.”

“I figured it was something like that,” Percy nodded.

Percy asked then awkwardly how they could get out of there. Zoe pointed saying that direction was west. Percy asked how she knew. She pointed to the sky saying Ursa Major was north so that was west. Percy nodded saying the bear thing. Zoe scowled saying it was a worthy bear and opponent.

“Hadn’t learnt that story yet,” Percy said. “But yeah. Zoe was right.”

“She was about a lot of things,” Thalia agreed.

Grover yelled then telling them to look. They were standing on a hill of junk, shields, swords, weapons, machines, fridges, gold, silver, chariots, statues, automatons and a mess of metal.

Nico stiffened. He felt for something in his pocket as his face hardened. Hazel leaned her head on his shoulder holding his hand. He gripped it tight as the other Big three kids exchanged glances.

 

Chapter Text

Percy’s face became stormy as did Thalia’s. Annabeth grasped Percy’s hand. Percy looked at her and she kissed his cheek. She nodded towards Nico and Percy nodded in agreement. She’d let go of him when it was time. Will was watching worried but Apollo put his hand on his shoulder. “Now isn’t the time.”

Meanwhile Nico looked up at the projection and took a deep breath. “This is it. It’s time.”

Bianca walked and looked around her saying some of this was real gold. Thalia grimly agreed and said to listen to Percy’s warning, don’t touch anything. This was the gods junk. Grover picked up a crown and asked how that was junk. He bit off a piece and said it was delicious as he started to chew. Thalia hit it out of his hands saying she was serious.

Grover bleated ashamed and hid his face in his hands. He was shaking as Juniper stroked his back calmingly. His horns shook as bleats still filled the air. Percy looked at him. “It’s okay G-man. Don’t go there. We need you now.”

Grover looked up and nodded. “Okay… Yeah, okay.”

Bianca ran down the hill and tripped before grabbing a silver bow crying it was a hunters. She suddenly squeaked as it shrunk into a moon shaped clip. With delight she noted it was like Percy’s sword. Zoe ordered her to leave it. She protested. Zoe told her like everything else here it was for a reason, defective or cursed. Bianca sighed and slowly put it down.

Nico wanted to shout, scream, warn her, keep telling her to listen to Zoe and the others. Leave everything untouched and come back alive. But it wouldn’t make a difference. He was watching the past.

Thalia said she didn’t like this grabbing her spear. Percy asked if they were going to be killed by killer fridges. She told him Zoe was right, things were thrown away for a reason and they needed to go. He noted this was the second time she had agreed with Zoe.

“Won’t be the last,” Thalia told him.

They climbed across the junk. Each stopped to look, ooh and ahh in awe. Percy picked up an electric guitar designed like a lyre and strummed it. Grover picked up golden birds from a tree which whirred in circles. Then the lights of the junkyard stopped at the highway into a stretch of dessert.

“You’re going to make it,” Jaz cheered.

She wasn’t answered as some of the Greeks exchanged dark glances. Jason and Hazel did as well.

Then Bianca gasped asking what something was. They had reached the biggest hill, and at one end was ten thick metal columns. Bianca started to say they looked like..Toes, Grover finished for her. She agreed really big toes. Thalia and Zoe looked at each other. Thalia suggested they go far around. Percy protested the road was right there and they should climb over.

He opened his mouth and started to get up but Nico put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. Percy sighed obviously kind of not believing it but Nico gave him another glare and he sat back down. He was looking down now though.

Then Thalia shocked him. “Kelp head. We didn’t even go that way. We went around, remember?”

Percy looked up. He sighed again. “Right.”

Then there was a hollow pinging noise. They all drew weapons but Grover looked up sheepish. A piece of metal was bouncing off the toes. Zoe asked why he did that. Grover said he wasn’t sure. He didn’t like fake feet.

“Really Grover?” Annabeth asked him. “Don’t take your grudges on styrofoam feet out now.”

“Sorry,” he said blushing.

Thalia looked at Percy and insisted they go around again. They kept walking and moving through the junk. Finally they climbed down reaching the bottom at the highway getting to the empty asphalt. Zoe sighed in relief they had made it out.

Several people cheered. But Blitz looked darkly at Percy and Thalia. “She jinxed it.”

Their stone faces said everything yet nothing.

A crashing sound filled the air. Everyone spun around to where scraps were rising and a metal giant of skyscraper proportions looked down at them. His left side was part melted and his joints creaked. Zoe gasped Talos.

“Who’s Talos?” Rachel asked.

“You don’t know?” Percy asked surprised.

“I don’t know everything.”

Percy asked who was Talos.

“Ugh. Dare!” Rachel said.

Several snickers came from across the room.

Rachel groaned again. “No one make puns about my name!”

“Sorry RED,” Piper told her.

Rachel flung a pencil but Piper managed to dodge it.

Thalia said it was a creation of Hephaestus but this wasn’t the original. Probably a prototype or defective model. The giant drew it’s metal sword as the air screetched with the hundreds of feeet of metal. Zoe demanded to know who took something looking at Percy.

“We would’ve see if it was him,” Walt pointed out. “This is Percy’s point of view. The guy’s not going to be able to hide that.”

“It wasn’t him,” Thalia affirmed. “Or Zoe.”

Percy said he was a lot of things but not a thief. Bianca looked away. But then the statue took a step and Grover yelled to run. They all split up. Thalia ran down the highway with her sword, but was blocked by the powerlines Talos cut down. Zoe shot arrows at it’s face but they shattered. Grover climbed up stacks of metal as Percy and Bianca hid behind a chariot. He looked at her saying she took something, like the bow.

“It wasn’t the bow,” Nico said. He played with something in his pocket. Something that wasn’t worth any life. But was now worth several to him. “The bow didn’t matter. Not in the end.”

She protested shaking. Percy yelled at her to throw it down or give it back. She said she didn’t take the bow, it was too late anyway. Percy demanded to know what she took. Then there was a creaking and Percy yelled to move. Both of them ran down the hill as the giant’s foot crashed the chariot they had hid under. Grover yelled trying to get the monster’s attention but it raised it’s sword to Bianca and Percy.

Nico cringed and Hazel held his hand with wide eyes. “No…”

Percy shook his head. “No..Not now.”

Grover started to play his pipes and the power lines on the highway wrapped around Talos’s leg sending sparks up the giants body. He whirled toward Grover. Percy yelled for Bianca to come but she was looking down to her hand coming out of her pocket where her palm opened to reveal a metal statue. She said it was for Nico. The only one he didn’t have.

Nico pulled it out. He looked at it with anger, almost ready to throw it. But Thalia shook her head at him wrapping her hand at his. “Don’t get rid of her sacrifice. Treasure that she loved you.”

The statue stayed concealed in both of their hands. Nico looked at Thalia surprised but she was looking away now. Back at the scene in front of them.

Percy asked how she could think of mythomagic now. She was crying and he told her softly to throw it down. Maybe then Talos would stop. She looked at it as she stooped to put it down. Nothing happened. Talos was stabbing down at scraps of metal just missing Grover. But it didn’t matter. The metal collapsed on him.

“I’m okay!” he yelped. “Don’t worry about me.”

“We weren’t,” Zia said shortly. “You are right here. Why should we?”

Grover seemed kind of offended and unsure how to answer.

Thalia yelled no and shot lightning through her spear to the monster’s knee. It collapsed for a second but go back up. It raised it’s leg and got ready stomp. But big red letters were painted on a hatch at the bottom saying for Maintenance. Percy looked at Bianca grinning saying it was a crazy-idea time.

Now he winced. He placed a hand on Nico’s shoulder. Nico gripped Hazel’s hand harder and let Thalia hold on to his other. Jason’s eyes furrowed behind his glances and his face became as hard as his cousin’s and sisters. Nico had had a sister. She was gone. This was it.

Bianca said she’d do anything. Percy told her he saw a maintenance hatch and was going in. There had to be controls or switches in there. Bianca told him he’d have to stand under a foot to do that. He’d be crushed. Percy said if someone distracted it and he timed it right he wouldn’t.

“I should have,” he said. His eyes were watery, still storming, angry, upset, regretfull and swimming. “It should have been me. It always should have been me.”

“No,” Nico told him. “She would’ve been saying the same thing. And you would have died and so would the world after you. You couldn’t have stopped her. Not with this.”

Percy shook his head. “It should have be Nico. I promised. It should have been me.”

Bianca said she would go. Percy said she was too new at all of this. She’d die. She told him it was her fault Talos was after them so it was her responsibility. She gave him the statuette and told him to give it to Nico if anything happened and to say she was sorry.

Nico’s fists clenched around Hazel’s and Thalia’s. Jason looked at Percy and put an arm around him as Nico made a choking noise and turned away from everyone. Percy glared them all away. Nico watched his sister’s eyes fulled with love, determination and fear as she tried to right the wrong she had made.

Percy yelled no as she charged to the monsters foot. Thalia was running around it as it made slow movements. Bianca took the chance balancing on a pile of scraps. Zoe yelled to ask what she was doing and she told her to have the statue raise it’s foot. Zoe shot an arrow up the nostril of the monster. Percy yelled at it and slashed across it’s toe. Talos looked at him and tried to step on him and Percy ran. He fell into an open fridge.

Though there were a few smirks and grins there was no laughter. The atmosphere wouldn’t allow for it.

Grover dug himself out of the junk and was on his knees playing his pipe standing up as he did. A power line pole hit Talos’s leg. He turned on Grover who took two steps back then fell. Thalia and Percy shouted his name running in his direction. Talos raised his sword. Then he stopped and cocked his head. His arms and legs flailed and he punched himself in the face.

Grover looked at the ceiling. “Thank you Bianca.”

Percy cheered Bianca as Zoe asked scared if she was inside. The statue staggered and Thalia and Percy dragged grover to the highway. Zoe yelled from in front of them asking how Bianca would get out. Her question wasn’t answered as Talos hit himself in the head again dropping his sword. Percy yelled for them to look out as Talos tripped on the power lines and electricity volted through the metal body. Talos fell backward towards the junkyard and his hand fell off. He began to run falling apart. Zoe yelled for it to wait. Then the giant collapsed.

Nico collapsed too crying on Hazel’s shoulder just barely peering out on the scene in front of him. He’d promised himself he’d watch the whole thing. And he would with Percy’s hand on his shoulder supporting him. Hazel hugging him and Thalia still holding his other arm as Jason wrapped an arm around his shoulder.

They climbed through the wreckage screaming Bianca’s name. The pieces were all empty and they all separated searching. The time elapsed quickly in the scene. Finally the sun rose and Zoe sat and started to cry as Thalia yelled throwing her sword into the Giant’s face. Percy told them with a broken voice to keep searching, they’d find her. It was light now.

“You won’t,” Samira said sadly. “Her soul already departed. A hero’s death and her body is gone too.”

“A child of Hades, he would make sure the funeral rites are carried through,” Reyna said solemnly looking at Nico. She didn’t dare make a move. Not right now. Though she did long to lend some strength to her friend.

Grover croaked they wouldn’t looking down. This had been supposed to happen. Percy spun on him yelling and asking what Grover was even talking about. Grover sniffed and said the prophecy reciting one would be lost where it didn’t rain. Percy collapsed on his knees then and looked around lost as around him Zoe cried and Thalia raged while Grover watched tearfully.

Then Nico squeezed Hazel’s hand and she knew it was time. With her hand on Nico’s, Thalia’s on his arm and Percy and Jason’s on his shoulders they melted into the darkness before everyone into an empty room. There Nico cried for his sister who had just wanted him to be happy, and maybe be happy herself for once too. Hazel cried for the sister she would never meet and could never replace and Percy yelled at himself and stormed for letting her make the sacrifice he should have. He kept a protective arm around Hazel and Nico as Thalia and Jason did with their stormy glares. Thalia was hitting herself too and Jason enveloped them all in a group hug as all the cousins collapsed letting their emotions carry them away.

Chapter Text

 

Annabeth insisted they stop for lunch then. Leo was planning Jason and Piper’s dare with some help with other evil masterminds, like Alex. Will kept looking to the doors concerned. After an hour and a half as everyone else was finishing Annabeth scooted next to him. “You’re concerened.”

“You’re not?”

“I am, but I know they have each other. So it doesn’t really matter. Percy’s really close with Thalia. He has been since she woke up. Him and Jason have a nearly unbeatable bromance. Hazel is his little sister, like so many others he considers. Doesn’t matter he’ll have a real one soon. And Nico, Percy and Nico have had a lot of issues. But both of them have stayed close somehow. Percy still trusts him and wants to be there for him. We all do. I think right now Nico needs to know he has a family, even if Bianca is gone. Not just his boyfriend.”

“But—”

“Give it fifteen minutes. Then we’ll go find them.”

“Fine,” Will sighed.

Fifteen minutes later Will set off with Annabeth. Of course, Piper, Reyna, Frank and Grover tagged along. They had wanted to find their friends/ boyfriends/ girlfriends too and make sure Nico was okay. It took another fifteen minutes, two hours since they had stopped before they found the Big Three kids.

All of them were curled up on some cushions in a strange linear pile. Nico was in the middle. Percy and Jason both had arms around his shoulders lying to his side. Percy’s other arm was around Hazel who was snuggled into his side reaching over Percy’s chest to hold Nico’s hand. On Nico’s other side Thalia was holding his arm and reaching for Nico’s. Their legs were in a tangle all around each other. Approaching their friends smiled.

“Picture,” Piper whispered. “This is adorable.”

Annabeth pulled out her phone when Percy opened one eye with a grin and looked up at her. He mouthed something which she took a minute to understand before smiling. “Get my good side.”

“Seaweed brain,” she smirked as she snapped the picture. Hazel not letting go of Nico’s hand but looking up at them sat up slightly. “I felt the vibrations on the floor. Where we asleep long?”

“You’ve been gone two hours,” Annabeth told her. “But you all needed the nap.”

“You okay?” Frank asked.

“Yeah,” Hazel told him. “I knew she would die. I knew how and I knew when. But still, seeing that I would have had an older sister like Bianca, and with in the span of a day learning about her before losing her. It was….”

“It was hard,” Jason finished adjusting his glasses. “Hey Pipes.”

“Your glasses are still crooked sparky,” she told him.

His movement woke Thalia too. She glared at them all for a moment. Then sighed. “We don’t have much longer for this quest at least. And I’m not in the next one.”

“No,” Percy agreed. “Should we wake Nico?”

“He’s up,” Grover said. “I can hear his breathing. He’s just annoyed everyone’s going to worry over him again.”

“We’ll leave the worrying to Will,” Reyna said. “Nico is strong. Now come before the room starts to fall into shambles without us.”

“Carter, Sadie and Magnus could handle it,” Percy said waving her off. “I mean most of it. I’m not so sure how well anyone except some of the people in this room and Calypso can handle Leo. And she’ll probably be occupied arguing with Apollo.”

“So we’d better go,” Jason agreed. He looked at Nico. “Okay bro?”

“Don’t call me that,” Nico groaned. “I’ll be fine. Go.”

Reluctantly everyone left but Will who hugged Nico getting on the floor beside him. As they left the others could hear some words, and softness in Will’s voice and Nico arguing. But they sounded okay. And when Nico and Will joined them in the room ten minutes later with everyone else Nico was doing a good job of ignoring everyone’s glances.

The scene started with a tow truck slowing down on a deserted highway. Thalia got out and slammed the door yelling what now. Grover pointed to a path and the river beyond it saying maybe the path would take them there. Percy pointed to the ledge down the cliff and said it was a goat path. Grover asked why that mattered. Percy said the rest of them weren’t goats.

“I’m actually not complaining now for all the mountain goat path you made us take,” Percy said to Grover. “It’s come in handy a lot.”

“Kept us alive,” agreed Annabeth. “Even with my ankle.”

“So thanks G-man for being as goatly and great as you are,” Percy said.

Grover was a bit confused but beamed.

Percy looked down as Grover said he thought they could make it. He looked at Thalia and said they’d go further upstream. Grover protested but Percy said a walk wouldn’t hurt. Thalia nodded her thanks. The scene skipped to them leaving golden drachmas and an IOU note at a canoe rental shop. Zoe looked at Percy and said they needed to go upstream, because the rapids were too swift.

“I really don’t think that’s an issue for Percy,” pointed out Sadie.

“It’s not,” agreed Thalia.

Percy said to leave it to him as they put the canoes in the water. Thalia thanked him as she handed him the oars. He shrugged her off and she looked at the river saying was he sure he could do it. Percy told her he thought he could. He was good with water. She nodded and said he should take Zoe and talk to her. Percy pointed out she wasn’t going to like it. Thalia begged saying Zoe was worrying her and being in the same boat was going to be hard. Percy nodded.

“What was it you two talked about in the car anyway?” Percy asked. “You seemed skittish afterwards.”

“The possibility of the next death in the prophecy,” Thalia told him. “How the likelihood was it was her or you. Dad already saved my life as a tree, he probably wasn’t likely to just go and kill me then.”

“Dad wouldn’t kill me,” Percy said. “I don’t think most of our parents would actually kill us. No matter how much it seems like they don’t care.”

Thalia said she owed him one. Percy said she owed him two. She tried compromising with one and a half. She smirked and turned to help Grover get into the Canoe. Percy and Zoe got in too. Then they set off down the river. Suddenly there was some giggling. Naiads were peering over the side at Percy.

“You totally don’t know why they were doing that, do you?” Thalia said.

“Because I’m the son of Poseidon.”

“Because they thought you were hot and wanted a reward,” Thalia told him.

Percy blushed. “No way.”

Thalia raised an eyebrow but didn’t challenge him.

Percy dunked his head underwater and greeted them. More giggling came. He told them they were going upstream and asked if they could help. Suddenly a naid was pushing each canoe fast down the river. Grover fell backward as Zoe grumbled she hated naiaids. She got squirted with water. She yelled they were devils as Percy told her to calm down, the Naids were just playing. She grumbled that water spirits had never forgiven her.

“Wait, forgiven her for what?” asked a confused Leo. “I mean, besides saying she hated them and calling them she-devils.”

“Something else. You’ll learn,” Percy told him.

Percy asked what she needed to be forgiven for. Zoe put her bow on her back and said it was too long ago. It didn’t matter. He turned to her as they sped up saying Bianca wasn’t her fault but his. He had let her go. Zoe slumped and said she had pushed Bianca onto the quest. She was powerful and Zoe had been nervous. She thought Bianca would be the next lieutenant of Artemis. Percy said she was the lieutenant.

“You talked about that too,” Percy turned to Thalia.

“Yeah,” she admitted. “We did. Influenced my decision a lot.”

Zoe told him nothing could last forever. She’d led the hunt for two thousand years and learned nothing. And now Artemis was in danger. Percy said she couldn’t blame herself for it. She said she should’ve insisted on going with Artemis. Percy told her if something was powerful enough to kidnap Artemis Zoe couldn’t have done anything. Zoe said nothing. Then Percy pulled Riptide out and looked at her saying she made it.

“Percy,” Thalia sighed at him.

“It needed to be said,” he shrugged. “And it already happened.”

Zoe asked who told him. Percy said he’d had a dream about it. She said it was a gift and a mistake. Percy asked who was the hero and Zoe said she swore she never would speak his name again. Percy said she acted like he should know who she was talking about. Zoe said he did. Everyone wanted to be like him.

“I never want to be like him,” Percy said. “Not if I kill that many people and hurt the people that love me.”

“Don’t want to be an arrogant douche either,” Piper said.

“He hits on girls and believes they all belong to him,” Jason’s nose crinkled. “Yeah. I don’t really want to be like him.”

“There are better heroes to emulate,” Percy agreed. “Like Bianca.”

“Or Zoe,” Thalia mumbled so no one else could hear.

Percy looked at Riptide and back up at Zoe. He asked if her mother was a water goddess. She nodded saying Pleione, who’s five daughters were the Hesperides. Percy nodded saying those were the ones that lived in the garden in the west guarding a tree with golden apples with a dragon.

“That was Luke’s quest,” Chris said. “He came back so upset, all scratched up by the dragon even though he got the apple. It didn’t matter though.”

“No,” agreed Thalia. “Because douchebag Hercules already did it. But now we know it was because of Zoe he succeeded, where Luke did without her help.”

“Both are jerks though,” Frank said. “So it doesn’t matter.”

Some of the older campers exchanged looks.

Percy asked if there weren’t only four sisters. Zoe replied after she was exiled there were, she was forgotten and blotted out.

“You’ll never be forgotten Zoe,” Percy promised. “I’ll keep the same promise I told your grandfather. We’ll make sure you’re remembered.”

Annabeth smiled sadly and looked up to where the stars where. Where Zoe was and where Bob wanted to say hello.

Percy asked why. She said she betrayed her family and helped a hero. But Hercules never even mentioned her. He took all the credit. Percy tried to say something but then looked down to the naiad then up again. Thalia spoke up behind him saying Hoover dam was huge.

“Oh no,” Rachel groaned.

Percy smirked. “It was going to happen eventually.”

“So was the revelation of our dam joke,” Grover said next to him making Percy pout.

Annabeth looked at him. “I’m still mad you got to go without me. We’ll go together again.”

“Okay.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

Annabeth seemed surprised it was that easy but didn’t argue. Meanwhile Leo was looking at the hologram with wide eyes.

They were at the edge of the river looking up at the dam. Percy said it was seven hundred feet tall from the 1930s. Thalia said it could hold five million cubic acres of water. Grover sighed sadly agreeing it was the largest construction project in US history.

Everyone stared at them. Then Magnus started laughing. “That’s Annabeth’s affect. Isn’t it?”

Annabeth blushed as Percy nodded. “It can be kind of annoying but I like it.”

Annabeth rewarded him with a kiss on the cheek for that.

Zoe asked how they knew that. Percy said Annabeth had liked archeteture. Thalia agreed she was nuts about it. Grover said the random facts were annoying. Percy looked and said he wished she was here. Grover and Thalia nodded. He insisted they go up there for Annabeth’s sake to say that they had been.

“Thanks Seaweed brain,” she mumbled into his ear kissing his cheek again.

“It’s important to you. It’s one of your favorites. Of course I would go. I needed too so I could tell you about it, and make you a little jealous.”

She whacked him but he didn’t seem hurt. He was chuckling wrapping his arms around her as she leaned into him wrapping her fingers in his.

Zoe called them crazy but said that was where the road was, she said it was sightseeing then. Then the scene skipped. They were walking along the dam as Grover sniffed the air. Percy asked how close they were. Grover said it was possible they weren’t the wind could carry the scent for miles. He didn’t like it was coming from different directions.

“Not good,” Carter noted. “Escape chances are worse that way.”

“Yeah,” Percy said. “I had some help though.”

Thalia said there was a snack bar for them in the visitor’s center. Percy asked if she’d been there. Thalia said once pointing to two bronze angel statues saying she was there too see them. They’d been dedicated to Zeus by Athena.

“I went before I met Luke,” Thalia said. “My first few months on the run. I went to pray to find Jason.”

Jason looked at her. “Because they were sacred too dad.”

“He didn’t answer though.”

“Because of Hera,” Jason nodded. “I wish he had.”

“Me too.”

Tourists were around the statues and Percy asked what they were doing. Thalia said they were rubbing the toes. They thought it was good luck. Percy looked at her strangely asking why. She said it was a crazy mortal idea, they knew the statues were special but not why. Percy asked if they talked to her when she was here before. Thalia’s face grew angry and she grimaced. She said they did nothing but be big metal statues.

“They’ve got some gears or something in them,” Leo said. “Mechanic enchantment. I was pretty sure they could move when I saw them.”

“When did you see them?” Piper spun on him.

“One of my foster homes. It was in New Mexico. A trip to Hoover Dam was educational and a special treat,” Leo said. He looked at Percy who caught on and grinned.

Zoe said they should eat while they could by finding the dam snack bar. Grover repeated that, smiling. Zoe asked what was funny. Grover failing to keep a straight face told her it was nothing but he wanted some dam fries.

“Is this what that was about?” Jason asked. “On the Argo?”

“Hey!” Percy argued. “It’s a dam good joke.”

“There’s no making fun of the dam things,” agreed Thalia.

“Or the dam food,” Grover snickered. Every one looked at them like they were slightly insane. It wasn’t even that funny. But the three of them were all cackling madly.

Thalia said she needed to use the dam restroom. Zoe was insisting she didn’t understand as Thalia, Grover and Percy laughed so hard they were crying. Grover said he needed the dam water fountain. Thalia struggled to say she needed a dam t-shirt. Percy was laughing so hard as were Thalia and Grover.

All three of them were laughing especially hard again. Annabeth was smiling. She’d seen them all crack up at the same joke before. So had Nico. None of them questioned it. It was amusing to Grover, Thalia and Percy who had obviously found the joke funny originally from exhaustion. But now they found it funny because of it what it meant.

Percy suddenly stopped laughing when a moo sounded. Then Grover did too asking if he heard a cow. Thalia laughed asking a dam cow. Grover said he was serious. Zoe said she hadn’t heard anything. Thalia looked at Percy and asked if he’d be okay. He told them to go ahead. He just needed a second. Grover asked what was wrong. He said he needed a minute to think.

“And you guys bought that?” asked Annabeth. “Percy doesn’t take time to think about things like that. Not so suddenly. Even if he’s upset. He’ll brood but not while on a quest, unless you guys suddenly have a break.”

Percy ran to the dam wall when they disappeared an looked over. There was Bessie. He asked why she was there. She mooed urgently. He asked how she got there. She swam in circles butting the dam mooing more. Percy’s eyes furrowed and he sadly told her he couldn’t go with her while his friends were inside. Bessie mooed again then flipped into the water. Percy looked around scared.

“She was warning you,” Thalia said. “I thought you said you knew about the skeletons because…”

“Shh! Spoiler….” Percy told her harshly.

Percy looked at the two men in gray camo. The skeletons. They pushed through a group of kids and one with curly hair and pointed ears fell too the ground. The gadget he was fidgeting with broke. He yelled at it and the skeleton turned on him hissing. He screamed at it defiantly. The rest of his group backed away pulling him with it.

“Leo?” Jason asked.

“Yeah,” Leo said. “Meet 12 nearly thirteen year old Leo. Right before he ran away for the last time. No one believed me about the skeletons, or the other things I saw at the dam. I’m just wondering why they didn’t try to kill me like every other monster.”

“They only go after the scent,” Thalia explained. “Unless they have none.”

“You were safe from them at least,” agreed Nico.

Percy ran for the visitors center when a van screeched to a halt nearby. Skeleton warriors piled out and Percy ran through the museum ignoring the security guard from the metal detector yelling at him then chasing him. Percy hid from him with a tour group. He looked at the turbine who was wearing a black ponytail who was telling them they’d be going down seven hundred feet. Percy asked it if went to the snack bar. The lady looked at him with narrowed eyes saying it went to the turbine, hadn’t he been listnening. Percy asked if there was another way out of the dam. A tourist said the other elevator. The tour guide ushered them out as the door opened telling them to go to the end of the corridor. She called out to Percy as he left. Her gray eyes were fixed on him saying people clever enough to find it could find a way out.

“Mom!” Annabeth yelled. “If you think Percy can be clever than you can give him a chance. Poseidon’s son or not.”

“She did give me a chance,” Percy said. “Eventually. I think. I don’t know. She hasn’t threatened me in a while.”

“I think because of Rome,” Annabeth said. “But I don’t think she hated you too much except the fact you weren’t book smart and Poseidon’s son. She started to think differently a little after the titan war.”

“She’s pulled for you recently,” Apollo said. “Even when it means siding with Poseidon.”

Percy whooped throwing his hands in the air. “I knew it! I knew I’d convince her eventually.”

Percy looked back for a moment. Nodded then ran after the rest of the tour group. The other elevator was opening up with the sound of skeletons. Percy ran faster and came out on a U-shaped balcony below him were turbines. There was no exit. A sound like the skeletons chattering cut the air. Percy pulled his pen from his pocket, spinning and ran where it had come from slashing with a sword. He cut threw a girl with bright red hair, a Harvard sweatshirt, jeans covered in marker and holes and she dropped her Kleenex.

Everyone turned to Rachel who was grinning. “You guys wanted to see how I met Percy and got pulled into all of this? Started with being slashed at with a sword.”

“Seriously?” Annabeth asked. “Really Aphrodite? Why couldn’t you have hated him?”

“I know you’ve seen him, he’s your boyfriend. No one in their right mind could really hate Percy.”

“Fine,” Annabeth huffed.

She yelled asking if he always tried to kill people when they blew their nose.

“Is it the same with every girl? Asking if you drool or try to kill them,” Leo asked. “Was it the same with Calypso? Or even Reyna?”

“Um…” Percy said. “I was kind of unconscious for one, or distracted by a god with the second. So I can’t really answer now.”

Percy looked at her with wide eyes yelping she was mortal. She demanded to know what that meant. Of course she was mortal. She asked how he got the sword past security. Percy stuttered saying he hadn’t then took a double take asking how she could see it was a sword. Rachel rolled her eyes saying it was a sword or the world’s biggest toothpick. She asked why it hadn’t hurt her, though she wasn’t complaining. She asked who he was and what he was wearing. Was it lion fur?

“It’s still just a coat,” Jaz said confused.

“Fur,” Hearth signed. “It’s fur.”

“Rachel can see through the mist, more than most people can. Including some demigods. I’m thinking it works with certain types of magicians.”

“I’m seeing it from Percy’s view,” Sadie agreed. “But otherwise I’m sure I’d see it like Rachel and Hearth. Isis’s powers are like that.”

“I’m flickering between the fur and coat,” Hazel admitted but I have some power over the mist.”

“So,” Percy explained. “It makes sense most of us are still seeing the coat.”

Percy looked at his coat holding it then back up at Rachel confused. He looked around and stared. He snapped his fingers at her saying slowly she didn’t see a sword, it was just a pen. Rachel looked at him and said he was weird, it was a sword.

“Note,” Magnus said. “Percy can’t do Jedi mind tricks.”

“Like you can?”

“Don’t even try,” Magnus answer.

“Flaunt what you have,” Alex said. “Let the mortals brains overload with the weird and they’ll think they’re crazy and imagining it with not saying anything.”

Samira rolled her eyes. “I told you two not to do that.”

“It works though,” Magnus told her.

“I’ve taught Magnus well,” agreed Alex. “You guys should see it in action sometime.”

“I’m sure we will,” Annabeth laughed.

Percy demanded to know who she was. She huffed shaying she was Rachel Elizabeth Dare and he should answer her questions or she’d call securirty.

“Full name?” asked Piper. “It’s from your dad. Isn’t it?”

“You know it.”

Piper sighed in agreement.

Percy yelled no saying he was in a hurry, he was in trouble. She asked which and he said both. Then she looked past him with her eyes widening crying out for the bathroom. Percy asked what she was saying and she told him to go to the bathroom behind her now. Clattering noises and Rachel’s voice came from outside, she was asking if anyone had seen the kid with the sword, how could anyone let him swing a sword in a national monument. He ran toward the turbines, possibly went over the side. Percy peeked out to see the skeletons ran out. Rachel pulled him out saying it was clear but he had to hurry. She was sweating nervously. Percy looked at the way to the elevator. He told her he owed her.

“More than one by now,” she told him.

“You haven’t collected?”

“On a few,” Rachel said. “But you owe me more than that.”

“Why does anyone even keep track?” Percy asked insisting.

“Because…” Thalia said. “We can.”

Percy rolled his eyes huffing as he drummed riptide against the edge of his sneaker and looked back up to the hologram.

She asked what those things had been. Percy said skeletons. She nodded. Percy told her to do herself a favor and forget everything she had just seen. She asked if she should forget he slashed at her with a sword too, Percy agreed. She asked who he was. He said Percy when the skeletons turned and saw him then yelled gotta go. She yelled after him asking what kind of name Percy gotta-go was?

“And of course you couldn’t forget that,” sighed Percy. “It’s probably a good thing you didn’t.”

Apollo grinned throwing his arms out. “Of course it is. Then Rachel never would have become my oracle. I needed an oracle… my old one was…”

“Old,” said Nico simply.

“Old,” Apollo agreed.

Percy ran out to the dam cafeteria where Thalia, Zoe and Grover were sitting down with their food. Percy told them they needed to leave as Thalia protested they had just gotten burritos. Zoe said he was right pointing out several approaching skeletons coming from all side. Grover cried for the eleveator but more skeletons came out from there.

Leo looked at Grover. “You’re going to do it. Man, you were my hero for years for doing this. Even though I had no clue why you did. It was amazing.”

Grover bleated. “Thanks. It was kind of just an escape plan.”

“It was brilliant,” Percy told him. “And fun.”

Grover yelled for a burrito fight and flung his burrito at a skeleton. It’s skull fell off. Then burritos were flying around the cafeteria as kids screamed, laughed and shouted. All manners of food were thrown and the skeletons couldn’t use their guns. The elfish latino bow was using a catapult to send guacamole flying. He hit several skeletons in the face. Plus Thalia on her butt.

She growled at Leo while he squeaked he was sorry.

Meanwhile Percy tackled a skeleton to the condiment table followed by Thalia. They raced down the stairs and Grover asked what now as they got outside. Skeletons were bursting out from the road making a half circle around them. They were putting their skulls back on or trying to wipe off the ketchup and mustard. Burritos were stuck to some of them. Zoe said it was four against eleven. And the skeletons couldn’t die.

“Not good odds,” muttered Walt.

“I’ve faced worse,” said Alex. “And I’ve won.”

“But you’re already dead, like the skeletons,” Magnus said. “So in Valhalla it doesn’t really matter. Does it?”

Alex frowned and muttered something as Magnus scooted away. They weren’t in Valhalla now. He didn’t want to be murdered by Alex.

Grover said it was nice adventuring with them. Then Percy looked around and shielded his eyes with the hand not holding the sword. He was looking at the statues saying their toes were really bright.

“Sorry,” Percy said sheepishly. “ADHD thoughts.”

Thalia was telling him it wasn’t the time. He turned to Thalia and told her to pray to her dad. She looked at him like he was insane, glaring. She said he never answered. Percy said this once when she asked for help she was sure the statues could give them luck. Skeletons raised their weapons and Percy yelleld for her to do it as he said again Zeus wouldn’t answer them. Percy said this time was different and Thalia asked who said so . Percy stopped and said he was pretty sure it was Athena. Thalia’s eyes widened as she scowled. Now the thought that Percy had gone crazy was even stronger on her face.

“You did seem pretty insane,” Grover said.

“Hey, I did see Athena though. And it did work.”

“But you still did seem insane.”

“I’m pretty sure we all already are, not just seem it.”

Grover pleaded for her to try it and the skeletons closed in. Then over them came the swooping of wings.

Percy looked at Thalia. “See? My ideas aren’t insane!”

 

Chapter Text

Everyone stared at Percy. Then Frank looked at him. “Did you just say your ideas aren’t insane?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s it,” Thalia said throwing her arms up then pointing at Percy. “He’s officially been declared insane.”

“What?” Percy asked. “What about any of your plans? Nico, underworld day travels? Or War Games Frank? And sure Jason…”

“Fine,” Annabeth said. “We get it. We’re all a bit insane.”

The angels stepped in front of the questers as the skeletons opened fire. Bullets bounced off their wings then the Angels extended them sending the skeletons flying. One of the angels said it felt great to stand up. The other wiggled his feet and asked what the tourist were thinking, just look at his toes. Then Percy pointed to the skeletons and yelled trouble and Thalia looked up at the skeletons saying to get them out of there. The angels looked down at her and asked if she was Zeus’s kid. She yelled yes and they asked if it was possible to get a please. Thalia yelled please. One of them said they could use a stretch. Then Percy and Thalia were picked up by one and Grover and Zoe by the other flying away. Thalia was screeching.

“I hate flying too by the way,” Percy said. “Even though it’s not the heights that scare me.”

“That whole experience was terrifying.”

“More than,” Percy agreed. “I never want to fly if I don’t have too again. If I do it’s by choice not just suddenly being picked up!”

“That’s the way it usually goes though,” Annabeth told him.

“I know!” Percy shouted. “Which is why I hate it.”

They were sitting on the ferry dock with a few homeless people talking. The golden gate bridge was in the background. Then Zoe said their next course of action was to find out what the monster was. Percy asked how and Grover answered Nereus. Percy turned to him questioningly. Grover reminded him that’s what Apollo had told him to do.

“I’m guessing the Angels flew you all the way there,” Jason said. “From the hoover dam to San Francisco… Well we flew about the same length with the Argo on our first stop. Did it take the same amount of time?”

“Around,” Percy told him. “We were just being held by our arms. Much less comfortable than the Argo.”

Percy nodded. Saying he was the old man of the sea, they needed to find him and force him to tell them what they needed to know. He asked how he’d find him. Zoe narrowed her eyes and made a grossed out face. Thalia asked if she knew him. Zoe said her mom was a sea goddess. She knew him, they just needed to follow the smell.

“The smell?” Frank said. He looked at Percy. “Which was worse, him or Phineas?”

“Ugh,” Percy wrinkled his nose and made some noises. “I never want to choose on that. But with the smell? Nereus for sure. But I’ve met a lot of stinky monsters, and even goddesses. There were even a few days that I smelled like vulture and dead carcasses.”

The Egyptians laughed as Annabeth smiled and everyone else looked confused. Percy blushed but laughed with them. He had smelled pretty bad after that experience.

Percy asked what she meant. She said she’d show him. They stopped at a goodwill box near the pier and Zoe forced Percy into trashed flannel, too big jeans and a rainbow hat. Grover laughed saying that Percy would really blend in. Zoe nodded grinning saying he looked like every male vagrant.

“Hey!” Magnus shouted.

Annabeth hit him and mouthed something to him. He crossed his arms grumbling but didn’t keep protesting.

Percy told her thanks a lot and asked why he was doing this. Zoe said to blend in. She led him down the pier and they stopped in front of a mass of homeless men. Zoe said he’d be there because he never traveled to far from the ocean but he liked the feel of the sun during the day. Percy asked how he’d know which was Nereus. She told him to sneak up, act homeless but he’d know Nereus. He’d smell different.

“This guy isn’t sounding so worth it,” Jaz said.

“His information is vital and more helpful than most prophecies,” Reyna told her. “If Percy can catch him their quest will continue faster.”

“You know him?” Percy asked.

“He’s right near camp,” Reyna replied. “But barely anyone has been able to catch him. Not for years.”

Percy nodded. Then he grinned looking at Frank. “You know, just send Frank next time. He could do it.”

“Me?” Frank asked. “If so many legion members failed why should I be able to do it?”

“You’ll see,” Percy said.

Percy asked what he’d do when he found Nereus. She said to hold on and not let go. He’d do anything to get rid of it. Percy had to force him to tell them about the monster. Thalia said they had her back then picked up a clump of fuzz from his new shirt saying she was rooting from him though she’d stay away from his back.

     Percy rubbed the small of his back unconsciously. Annabeth noticed and looked at him strangely. He shrugged at her. It was just a feeling.

Grover gave him a thumbs up. Then Percy grumbled heading to the homeless guys stumbling. A man with a plastic bag as a hat told him to beat it. He walked past several more homeless people till he reached the end of the pier and a guy in pajamas in a bathrobe who was extremely fat with a dirty white beard. Percy sat down slowly and squirmed like he was trying to get comfortable. They heard a mutter of school and parents.

“That’s not the biggest reason for homeless kids,” Magnus told him. “It was good enough to get him. But most of us have nowhere else to go, we’ve been kicked out, are on the run from people who might hurt us, or many other reasons. Barely ever school.”

Percy nodded. “I learnt not to make that assumption for a few months after I was living…”

“That’s a spoiler,” Annabeth told him.

“Right,” he nodded.

Nereus went back to sleep. Percy leaned over like he would be going to sleep but he tackled Nereus. They rolled down the pier as Nerues squeezed him too. Percy’s head hit a pole and Nereus tried to scramble away. Then Percy jumped him again from behind. He yelled he didn’t have any money as he tried to run. Percy’s arms were tight around his chest.

“Why would he have money?” asked Chris. “No one in their right mind would believe that guy had money.”

“Nereus isn’t in his right mind then,” shrugged Leo. “Doesn’t seem like it.”

Percy said he was a half blood who only wanted info. He squirmed harder saying heroes always picked on him. He asked why. Percy said it was because he knew everything.

“Definitley more worthwhile going to for information than Phineas,” Percy grumbled.

Hazel nodded. “Phineas was evil. This guy just seems like he doesn’t want to help.”

“Phineas is bad for harpies,” agreed Ella. “Bad for Ella.”

Tyson hugged her.

Nereus growled and thrashed. They got to the pier edge as Percy yelled not the water. Nereus yelled and jumped off the edge with Percy.

Cheers erupted from several people all around the room. But then Calypso interrupted looking at Percy with a raised eyebrow. “Nereus is a sea god. He is just as strong there as you.”

“In different ways,” Percy said. “Not where it mattered.”

Percy held on stronger. Nereus’s face became angry and he grumbled before his body morphed into a giant black seal. Percy slipped a little but didn’t let go. Nereus wriggled and thrashed spinning like a spiral.

“Is that what you meant?” Frank said. “Because I can shift?”

“Because you also have sea god roots too,” Percy told him. “You might survive better. But he might not also fall for the same trick as easily again.”

“Thank you for the suggestion though,” Reyna said. “But we will also have you in New Rome when September starts.”

Percy’s face grew dark. “I’m not sure how well that’s going to work out now with all of this.”

Nereus kept spinning. He kept growing turning white and sleek. Percy slipped off but managed to grab the dorsal fin as he breached out of the water. Tourists whoaed but one in a purple shirt looked at Percy strangely as he waved reaching for his pocket.

Everyone spun on Jason. But Jason spun on Percy. “That was you?”

“Yeah. We were so close to New Rome. I’m guessing you had something to do there.”

“Yeah, and I figured that there was a sea god or something who decided to ride killer whales there. One of the weirdest things I’d seen yet but I didn’t even get a good look at you. We were getting some supplies for the legion.”

Percy nodded.

Thalia was looking at Jason. “You were so close.”

He took a sharp breath. “We could’ve…”

“We can’t focus on the we could’ves or should haves, or any of the past,” Percy said. “We can’t change it. Just use it in the future.”

With misty glances both siblings nodded.

Nereus plunged into the water and turned into an eel. Percy grabbed both his tail and neck and started to tie him into a knot. He became human with Percy still holding him as Nereus hit him wailing why he wouldn’t drown. Percy said he was a son of Poseidon. Nereus said he was here first! Then he collapsed on the pier edge. Nereus was gasping as Percy smirked. Then quickly he tried to seem tired.

“That feels great,” Percy said feeling the strength of the water still coursing through him. “I could keep going for a while.”

“You’re not going too,” Annabeth said. “It was good thinking to make Nereus think he almost won. He won’t argue as much.”

Zoe yelled Percy had done it. Percy said not to be so amazed. Nereus was groaning asking why their had to be an audience for his mortification, they just wanted the information. Then Percy would let him go. Percy said he had more than one question.

“I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like that,” Will pointed out. “We all have endless questions. The point is we work to get them answered.”

“I know,” Percy agreed. “Just sometimes you want to take the easy route…”

Nerues said one question per capture. That was the rule. Percy looked at his friends then up at the golden gate bridge. His eyes swam. He gulped and looked at Nerues. He asked what the monster Nereus was hunting was. Nereus smiled with green teeth and said the monster was right there. He pointed to the water at Percy’s feet. Percy asked where. Nereus said the deal was completed and became a goldfish flipping backward into the ocean.

“There’s nothing there,” Juniper squeaked. “Nereus has to answer the question! That’s the way it goes.”

“He couldn’t have tricked them,” agreed Apollo. “He has to tell the truth about the question once he’s been caught.”

“So is the monster the ocean or something?” asked Magnus.

Percy yelled he’d been tricked then Thalia yelled and asked what something was. She pointed to the mooing Bessie who nudged Percy’s shoes. Percy told her not now. She mooed again.

“Really?” asked Carter. “Artemis was hunting that? Then how could she have tracked it near San Francisco when Percy saw it in Long Island a day later. Bessie doesn’t seem to be any danger.”

Percy nodded. “I know it’s confusing but it’ll explain everything.”

Grover gasped saying the serpent said his name wasn’t Bessie. Percy asked if Grover could understand him. Grover agreed saying it was an old form of speech but it’s name was the Ophiotaurus.

“You called this Ophiotaurus, a he, Bessie for months?” Alex asked. “That’s offensive.”

“I couldn’t really understand,” Percy said.

“But you shouldn’t mislabel a gender.”

“If someone tells me what they want to be refered to as I’ll listen,” Percy told him. “But for then I had no way of knowing.”

Alex huffed crossing his arms as Samira scolded him.

Percy repeated that confused. Thalia said it meant serpent bull, she asked why it was here. Another moo, Grover said that the Ophiotaurus said Percy was his protector. He was running from bad people, who were close. Something skipped. Zoe pointed at the ophiotaurus and said she knew this story.

“What story?” Hazel asked. “There’s a story about Bessie? I’ve never heard about it.”

Percy asked what story.

Hazel looked around. “This means I pick if I want to do a truth or a dare, right? I think I’ll try the dare.”

“We’re going to start Jason and Piper’s during dinner anyway,” said Leo. “So this is the perfect time!”

“I have one for Rachel,” Percy agreed. “So she can start then too.”

Zoe said it was a story from the first titan war. Her dad had told her. This was their monster. Percy said Bessie was too cute to destroy the world.

“So are you,” Annabeth told him.

“Only sometimes,” Percy grinned at her. “But I could say the same about you.”

Zoe said that’s why there were wrong. They weren’t looking for a huge dangerous monster. Bessie had to be sacrificed to bring down the gods.

There were yells, fights and protests breaking out at that announcement. Sacrificing something like Bessie was a thought that couldn’t be stood for. Percy held his hands up. “I promise it will all be answered soon.”

Bessie started and Grover said he didn’t like the S word. Percy patted him on the head to try and calm him down. He asked how anyone could hurt something harmless like Bessie. Zoe said that there was terrible power in killing innocence, the Fates said ages ago when Bessie was born whoever killed it and sacrificed it could destroy the gods.

The room went dark at the thought. It made too much sense. Not in any way that any of them wanted to think about but it did.

Grover said not to talk about that please as Bessie wailed. Thalia looked at Bessie and repeated the power to destroy the gods, she asked what would happen. Zoe said no one knew. Bessie was killed by someone on the Titan’s side but before he was sent to the fire for sacrifice Zeus used an eagle to take it away. It had been three thousand years since.

“Three thousand years?” asked Hazel. “That’s so long to reform.”

“Too long,” agreed Percy. “Which is why Bessie should never be killed.”

Thalia sat down to pet Bessie. Thalia looked at the sea cow strangely. Percy said they had to protect Bessie, if Luke got a hold of her, Thalia said he wouldn’t hesitate. The power there was huge.

Thalia’s head hung ashamed. Percy reached out to her and shook his head. “You didn’t do it. Don’t hit yourself. You beat your flaw.”

She nodded but her face was still dark.

Chapter Text

 

Jason looked at her. He had a feeling his sister’s fatal flaw was a lot like his own. He’d almost died while he’d still struggled for power with Percy, while he worked his way through camp, and all of that. But he’d learned he could take power, he could use it in ways that would only benefit. He’d only submit to his fatal flaw for the benefit of others. He was sure that’s why Percy was controlled by his fatal flaw most of the time, but when it mattered Percy would fight against it. He turned to Thalia and nodded at her too. She looked at him thankfully.

Then Thorn appeared behind them saying Thalia would unleash Bessie’s power. Bessie went under. Thorn was saying it was perfect, he was never admired or feared but now the Titan’s would honor him. Percy asked where the skeletons were. Thorn said he didn’t need them, he’d show the general he could defeat them himself and prove he wasn’t worthless. Percy looked around.

“You’re planning,” Sadie said. “You have a planning face. I can tell.”

“I have a planning face?” Percy asked. “Like Annabeth?”

“I don’t know about me,” Annabeth replied, “but you do.”

“You both do. But they’re really different. Because you plan different,” Grover said.

Percy said they beat him before. Thorn pointed out that was with a goddess and just barely. Now they had no help. Zoe aimed an arrow as the guards raised their guns. Percy told her not too, Thorn said he was right, she needed to live to see Thalia’s victory. Thalia growled asked what they were talking about. THe manticore said she was brought back to life for this, to sacrifice Bessie and get unlimited power and overthrow Olympus. Thalia opened her mouth but paused.

“You thought about it?” asked a surprised Sadie. “You thought about over throwing the gods and joining the people you were fighting against?”

“I thought about the power. Dad did hand me one thing. My fatal flaw is power, and only when I understood Percy was meant to have the power and I wasn’t meant to have some did I understand myself better. I’ve overcome it better since though it still challenges me since.”

Thorn told her it was the right choice. Luke knew and soon they’d be reunited to rule the world together. Why should she help the father that abandoned her, but take power over him and call Bessie and kill it. Percy yelled at her to snap out of it. Thalia looked at him confused stuttering. Percy reminded her that her father answered her prayers and had turned her into the tree to save her.

“You saved me,” Thalia said. “You, Annabeth and Grover. You were the reason I’m alive and I stayed.”

Percy nodded. “I understand.”

Percy looked at Grover who played his pipes but the wood at their feet grew and tangled them up. Zoe shot fart arrows as the manticores shot spines but Percy blocked them as they bounced off his coat. He ordered Grover to tell Bessie to dive deep. Thalia muttered as Grover mooed into the water. Percy pulled her into a store and then behind a kiosk. Zoe told him to go over the side and escape in the sea. If he called Poseidon for help maybe he could save Bessie.

“I’ve had that choice offered to me several times,” Percy said. “I don’t think I’ll ever take it if I can help in some way. The important thing there was saving Bessie.”

Percy said he wouldn’t leave but stay to fight with them. Grover told him they needed to tell camp what was going on though. Percy looked at the crystals and the fountain nearby and said it was a good idea. He got Riptide and slashed the water fountain letting the water spray. Thalia asked if he was crazy.

“No,” Reyna said. “He is planning and taking iniative like others couldn’t.”

“It’s smart,” Annabeth said kissing a blushing Percy’s cheek. “Seaweed Brain.”

“Never as smart as you Wise Girl.”

Grover pulled out a coin frantically saying the blessing to Iris. Percy yelled Camp and Mr. D showed up in the mist looking in the fridge. He asked if they minded. Percy asked where Chiron was and Mr. D said that was a rude way to say hello. Percy said hi, they were about to die then asked for Chiron again. Mr D. stayed silent for a second as footsteps thudded. Then he said Chiron wasn’t there did they want to deliver a message. Percy told his friends they were dead as Thalia said they’d go fighting then.

“Is there any other way to go?” she asked. “That’s the only way a hunter should go.”

Percy nodded sadly remembering the fallen hunter he knew.

Mr. D asked what the problem was. Percy quickly told him about Bessie and he said he saw. Percy yelled at him that he didn’t care and he’d just watch them die. Mr. D was talking about how he wanted Pizza for dinner. Thorn screamed and pointed at them then and they were surrounded by the guards. They were alone without any real help. Mr. D said he could ask for help, just by saying please.

“What’s with everyone asking you to say please?” Clarisse growled. “All we ever do is ask and pray to the gods.”

“It’s still necessary sometimes,” Percy shrugged. ”No matter how much you hate it.”

Zoe notched arrows, Grover put his pipes to his mouth, Thalia expanded aegis so no one could see she was crying. Percy looked at her and his face softened. He told Mr. D to please help. There was a moment of nothing. Then Thorn ordered that they spare Thalia who would join them. The others would die. Then the sky became purple for a second and then two guards suddenly started to waltz. Another danced an irish clog and one ran like a dog with a gun in his mouth.

“Mr. D,” Chris said seriously. “Madness is his specialty after all.”

Thorn said he’d do it himself but then the wood planks under him became vines sprouting leaves and grapes wrapping around him. THe shrieking stopped. Mr. D closed the fridge and said that was fun. Percy stared at him and stuttered.

Everyone else was watching halfway between horrified and laughter. Percy’s eyes were glinting with a new understanding.

Mr. D said the mortals would get their sanity back, making it permanent would mean writing reports to Zeus. He looked at Thalia and said he hoped she learned her lesson. It wasn’t easy to resist power.

Jason made a humming sound as he thought. Dionysus had once been a regular demigod, a child of Zeus. Maybe the power had tempted him too. Like it had with him and Thalia. And especially Hercules.

Grover said surprised Mr. D had saved them. He replied not to make him regret it, he told Percy he’d only bought them a few hours.

“You need it,” Carter said seriously. “Time is a serious thing no one should gamble. Especially when you have so little.”

Sadie’s face fell as he said that and she nodded agreeing thinking about Bes.

Percy asked if Mr. D could get Bessie to camp. He said it was their problem. So Percy asked where they went now. Mr D said Zoe would know they had to go at sunset or they’d lose everything. He said goodbye then his pizza was waiting. Percy stopped him saying he called him his real name. Mr. D said he didn’t swiping through the mist.

“He says it when it matters,” Percy said. “I don’t hate him. Not like some other gods who never even bothered. He actually cares but he hides it, he doesn’t want to be hurt again.”

Apollo’s eyes widened. “D? Really?”

Percy didn’t respond.

Percy turned to Zoe asking what he meant she knew where to go. She looked past the Golden gate bridge and pointed to a mountain covered in mist saying she had to go to her sister’s gardens and home.

“They kicked her out, didn’t they?” Alex said. “They won’t be happy to see her again then.”

“No,” agreed Annabeth softly understanding Alex might be the same way. “They won’t. But even if her real family wasn’t happy with Zoe then Percy and Thalia were with her to stay.”

“That’s where it matters doesn’t it?” Alex muttered.

Zoe said they wouldn’t make it moving at this pace. They couldn’t leave Bessie either. They were jogging along the water as they talked. Bessie was following. The sun was already starting to go down. Percy asked why they had to be there at sunset. Zoe explained the Hesperides were the nymphs of sunset and that’s the only time you could enter their garden. Percy asked what happened if they missed it. Zoe said it wouldn’t matter, tomorrow was the winter solstice and they couldn’t wait for tomorrow sunset because the Olympian council would have already happened. Thalia said they needed a car.

Annabeth turned to Percy. “You think we’ll be watching that?”

“I’m not sure. Do you want to?”

“I don’t know,” Annabeth said. “I’ll be fine with either thing.”

Percy asked what about Bessie. Grover stopped them saying Bessie could appear in different bodies of water. Percy agreed listing the Long Island sound, Hoover dam and the San Fran Bay. Grover suggested they take him back to Long Island somehow where Chiron could get him to Olympus. Percy said the issue was Bessie was following him. How would he know how to get back? Bessie mooed and Grover said he’d go with Bessie. He was the one who could talk to him.

“You’re the bravest satyr,” Juniper told him. “Caves, the ocean and the underworld? As well as a lot of other things.”

Grover blushed braying hard.

Grover bent and whispered and Bessie’s ear before explaining it was the blessing from the wild that would help with them getting their safe. He told Percy to pray to his dad, who could help protect them. Percy pleaded for his dad to protect Bessie and Grover. Then Thalia said something like that needed a sacrifice too. Percy took off the Nemean Lion fur. Grover told him that the lion skin was helpful and had belonged to Hercules, he had to be sure. Percy’s eyes widened and he looked at Zoe.

“That was when I realized who Zoe had been betrayed by and why I could never be like him,” Percy said. “Just thought I should explain. Also why he’s no longer my favorite constellation. After all his bad luck doesn’t matter now that I know he’s a world class jerk.”

“You have a different favorite constellation now too,” Annabeth agreed.

“Yeah I do.”

Percy declared if he was surviving this it wasn’t because he had a nemean Lion cloak. He wasn’t Hercules and he didn’t want to be. He threw the coat into the ocean and it dissolved with the sunlight.

“That was noble,” Jason said. “Why have you never said anything about Hercules? Even in Gibraltar?”

“Wasn’t my place or time. I can’t form other’s opinions or ruin the people they idolize for them,” Percy said.

Grover took a breath and said there was no time to lose and began to sink. Bessie swam over and made sure Grover floated with him. Percy told them to be careful. Grover promised they would before telling Bessie they were going to Long Island which was that way to the east. Bessie mooed and Grover took some time to explain. Then suddenly they began to disappear when Bessie lurched forward with Grover yelling he couldn’t breathe underwater.

Everyone turned to him, just as if to make sure he was still there. Grover bleated. “I’m here. Percy’s prayer worked. I’m good. Still alive.”

Zoe said that was their first problem taken care of. But they still had no way to get to the Hesperides in time. Percy said Thalia was right, they needed a car. There was no help, unless they borrowed one. He said it hesistantly.

“You stole a car?” asked Carter surprised. He knew Percy was a troublemaker but… Not that he hadn’t stolen things when necessary himself.

“Not this time,” Percy said.

Thalia ruffled through her backpack and said somebody in San Francisco she knew could help them. She had the address somewhere. Percy asked who. Thalia pulled out a piece of notebook paper and said Annabeth’s dad.

“You guys went to Uncle Fredrick?” Magnus asked.

“We did.”

“He gave us a car,” Percy agreed. “That’s the important thing to know.”

 

Chapter Text

Thalia scoffed. She looked at Percy. “It might be important to say he was telling us all about his old plane obsession.”

“He’s a history professor,” Annabeth explained. “Which is why he moved to San Francisco in the first place. He has his own plane.”

“Either way,” Percy shrugged. “Professor Chase was cool. He helped.”

The next scene started with Percy, Zoe and Thalia in the car driving toward a mountain. Percy asked if that was the mountain of despair. Zoe agreed. He asked why it was called that. She told him that after the first titan war a lot of Titans were punished. One, the general, was imprisoned on the summit.

“Who is the general though?” Piper asked.

“He’s…” Jason started then found he couldn’t say. “It’s a spoiler I guess.”

The scene started again with Percy yelling for Thalia and Zoe to look. Thalia asked what. He said a big white ship, a cruise ship. Thalia asked it was Luke’s. Percy paused. Zoe grimaced and said they’d have company from Kronos’s army then. THen Percy’s eyes widened and Thalia yelled for them to stop the car.

“What? What’s wrong?” asked Annabeth. She’d heard about most of this quest. She hadn’t heard about this though.

Thalia and Percy exchanged glances. Thalia looked at her. “Whatever it is, it’s not what it seems.”

Annabeth nodded trusting them.

Thalia yelled at them to get out pushing them to the ground. Then the car exploded and shrapnel flew hitting Thalia’s shield. Percy looked at her and said she’d saved his life. She was looking up at the sky reciting the last line from the prophecy and asking if Zeus would really kill her.

“What?” Jason yelled looking at his sister. “Dad wouldn’t. He couldn’t. You’re here. And he saved you before. Dad… He just couldn’t…”

Thalia grabbed his hand and forced him to look at her. “I’m alive and Dad has had plenty of chances to kill me, before and after. Whatever I said then, it wasn’t him. Though I’m not sure what it really was.”

Percy told her it couldn’t have been Zeus. Thalia asked who it was then. Percy said maybe Kronos, Zoe had said his name. Thalia shook her head saying that wasn’t it. Then Percy asked where Zoe was yelling her name. They ran around looking and yelling her name. Then Zoe put a hand on his mouth pulling Percy away telling him to be quiet before he woke Ladon. Percy asked if they were there. Zoe responded they were close.

“It’s good you have her as a good,” Reyna said. “THe mountain of despair can drive you to literal despair and death if you aren’t careful.”

Zoe walked right through some fog and disappeared. Percy looked at Thalia who told him to concentrate on Zoe so they could follow her. He had to keep that in mind. Percy asked about what had happened on the pier. She said she didn’t want to talk about it. Percy asked if she really would have done it. She stopped then told him it was shock. Percy told her Kronos was manipulating her to make her angry. Zeus hadn’t sent the bolt.

“I really should have listened to you,” Thalia said. “You were right. You usually are.”

“So are you a lot,” Percy said. “But thanks. You still did it.”

She nodded.

She thanked Percy for trying to make her feel better but said they needed to go. They stepped into the mist. Then the fog cleared and they were in a beautiful garden of twilight with black marble stones and glittering golden apples on the trees. Thalia said they were the apples of immortality, Hera’s gift to Zeus.

Samira turned to Thalia surprised. “You have apples of immortality too?”

“Wait, the norse have some?” asked a surprised Annabeth.

“Yeah,” agreed Magnus.

“So unfair,” Sadie murmured. “We don’t have immortality apples.”

Then a dragon breathed and it’s coppery tail with more head than could be counted was asleep curled up there. Percy reached for riptide then Zoe stopped him. Four girls came forward in chitons. Zoe greeted them. One told her she didn’t see a sister. Only three people who would die.

Everyone winced.

Percy said nobody to die.

He winced and clenched his fist. It was inevitable. He had known it and he still did. But it could still hurt.

The girls looked at him. One of them said his name. Another said he couldn’t be a real threat. Percy asked who said he was? The first looked back to the top of the mountain and said they were scared of him and upset Thalia hadn’t killed him yet. She said it was tempting sometimes but they were friends.

“None of us are killing each other,” Percy agreed.

Thalia sighed. “Not literally at least. I can kill my cousins for being annoying all you like.”

“No,” Jason told her. “You can’t.”

“Come on.” Thalia’s protest made Jason gave her a look. She sighed. “Fine. I’ll be the responsible oldest one.”

The hesperide told her there weren’t friends here, only enemies. They should go back. Thalia said not without Annabeth. Zoe agreed Artemis too they had to go to the mountains top. The hesperides told Zoe she was no match for someone and would be killed.

“The general?” Calypso asked shaking with hesitance.

Percy nodded darkly biting his lip and asking for her forgiveness.

Zoe said she would pass and free Artemis. The hesperide shook her head. She said Zoe had no right to be here now and they would call ladon. Zoe said the dragon wouldn’t hurt her. The hesperide asked if he would do the same to Percy and Thalia? Then Zoe yelled Ladon’s name telling him to wake.

“What?” gasped Hazel.

“Is she insane?” Blitz shouted. “She’ll get you all killed easily.”

“Stupid,” Zia agreed. “She’s killed you all.”

The dragon shook and the Hesperides yelped running away as one asked Zoe if she was insane. Zoe said her sisters never had courage, that was their issue. Then Zoe stepped in front of Ladon as Thalia warned her saying she’d die. Zoe said Ladon was trained to protect the tree if they went around the garden to go up the mountain he’d ignore them. Zoe was the bigger threat at the moment.

“She’s suicidal,” Samira muttered. “A heroic death, yes. But still something crazy and likely to get most of you killed.”

“She’s brave,” Percy said. “The bravest.”

“You would think that,” Leo pointed out. “Sacrifice yourself and risk dying for your friends. It’s a Percy move.”

“Look who’s talking,” Percy shot back.

Leo frowned.

Percy said that wasn’t assuring as Zoe said it was the only way. Ladon opened his mouth and Percy cringed tearing. Thalia and him separated letting Zoe go straight.

Percy shivered and coughed as his eyes teared. “Ugh. Acid breath. I hate it.”

Annabeth suddenly shivered as well remembering something very like Acid breath in Tartarus. But she put her arm on Percy’s. He grinned tearfully at her.

“I’ll be fine.”

Zoe was telling the dragon it was her, she’d returned. Ladon shifted and some of his mouths closed. One of the hesperides whispered Zoe was a fool. Zoe was saying she used to feed Ladon with her own hand and asked if Ladon liked lamb still. Percy and Thalia were making their way toward a rocky trail. Then a yell pierced the air as Zoe dodged Ladon as he lunged. She ran through his different heads covering her mouth. Percy pulled out Riptide and she yelled for him to run. He snapped at her side and she yelped. Thalia pulled out Aegis. Ladon recoiled letting Zoe escape.

“I should have used it quicker,” muttered Thalia.

Percy shook his head at her. “No one could have. It was supposed to happen. Inevitable, remember?”

Ladon hissed but curled back around the tree, watching. They ran up the mountain as haunting music from the heseperides followed. They made their way through black ruins and melted bronze. Thalia whispered this had been Mt. Othrys. Zoe said it wasn’t there before. It was bad. Percy asked what Mt. Othrys was.

Reyna opened her mouth. But Percy stopped her. “Zoe’s about to follow. Glad you guys returned it to that state though.”

“I understand you had a large hand in that too,” Reyna said to him.

Percy shrugged.

Zoe explained this had been the Titan’s fortress in the first war. Then she winced. Percy asked if he could see and help. She said it was nothing and explained Othrys had been blasted to pieces. Percy asked how it was there then. Thalia said that it moved the same way as Olympus, at the edge of civilization. But it being here was especially bad. Percy asked why? Zoe explained it was Atlas’s mountain. Where he used to hold up the sky.

“He’s the general then,” Piper deduced. “New Rome is there to watch over him, and when it was there Mt. Othrys, right?”

“Exactly,” Jason grinned. “We took care of it too.”

“Wait, so Atlas is still there?” asked Frank surprised.

“Yeah. Under the sky,” Percy said. “Don’t worry about that.”

They were at the top and Artemis was holding what looked like a tornado of black clouds as she was chained in bronze. It became a roof and expanded until Percy couldn’t see it anymore.

“What’s that?” Walt asked turning to Percy. “It was in your dreams. And now. She’s a goddess but this is putting her in pain.”

“Atlas holds the sky there,” Percy explained. “Someone needs to keep the sky, Ouranus from meeting the Earth, Gaea. You guys have something like that too I think.”

Walt growled letting some Anubis show through. “Shu, the wind god. Keeps Nut and Geb apart. And anyone else the gods think he should.”

“Right….” Percy drew out confused. “Either way someone needs to hold up the sky at all times. Usually it’s the job of the titan Atlas. But if he can get someone else to get him out of his burden then…”

Walt nodded understanding.

Zoe rushed forward to Artemis when she yelled it was a trap and she had to leave now.

“How did you hold it for so long?” asked Apollo wide-eyed looking at Annabeth. “You couldn’t have done that. Not when even Artemis had trouble.”

“I wasn’t holding it as long as Percy’s dreams made it seem like I was,” Annabeth admitted. “A few minutes. Less even. Same as Luke. But it’s about the mind and once your mind starts too collapse so do you. You need a drive to remind you to keep holding it up. Artemis must have been too focused on getting to the council.”

Apollo nodded though he seemed a bit upset with that realization and everything it said about him and his sister compared to the mortals and Atlas. But he shook it off quickly.

Zoe ran forward and tugged at the chain as Artemis protested. The general was in brown silk with Luke, Kronos’s sarcophagus and over five dracaenae. Annabeth was cuffed and gagged with a sword at her back as the General said it was touching. Annabeth looked at Percy panicked as Thalia demanded he let her go. He smiled weakly saying it was the General’s decision but he was happy to see her. Thalia spat at him.

Jason nodded in approval but beside him Annabeth was tearing up and Thalia was too as she had her arm around her friend’s shoulders. Percy looked at them concerned when Thalia raised her head.

Chapter Text

Thalia’s voice was choked and her eyes sparked along with her voice with electricity. “Luke tore us apart. We raised Annabeth for months together. We said we’d protect her before anything else. And if that meant agreeing with the gods sometimes when we were mad at them it did. But then he hurt Annabeth. He almost killed Grover and actually tried to murder Percy. But Luke was still family….”

As she trialed off Annabeth picked up. “He promised. I should’ve just realized he wasn’t as good at keeping promises as some people, like Percy.”

Percy looked down. He wasn’t so sure about that. Either way people were staring at them now. But the scene starting up again changed that.

The general laughed saying so much for friendships as he asked Zoe how his little traitor was and noting he’d enjoy killing her. Artemis groaned at her not to respond or challenge him.

“Why not?” Alex said. “The jerk deserves it.”

“He couldn’t do anything to them if they didn’t,” Annabeth explained. “Titans and gods need to be challenged before they can fight any mortals or things not closely equal to them. Though…”

She trailed off when Percy gave her a warning glance. He didn’t want her insinuating that. It wasn’t true.

Percy asked if he was Atlas. He looked at Percy and said even stupid heroes could finally figure things out. Then he congratulated Percy saying he’d kill him after he dealt with Zoe. Percy said he wouldn’t let him hurt Zoe. The general sneered saying Percy didn’t have the right to interfere in a family matter.

There were gasps as everyone started to whisper and talk. There were a few angry words, probably from Clarisse. Mostly it was shock that filled the air. Then Samira raised her eyes. Green flashed from behind some of the brown matching her hajiib. “If she has betrayed her father before she won’t join him now. Your family doesn’t make you.”

Alex’s face darkened as he nodded seriously. Rachel was frowning but she nodded with them too. Around the room people were looking down and away. But no one argued with Sam’s words.

Zoe agreed that yes. Atlas was her father. She then spun on him demanding he let Artemis go. Atlas walked over to Artemis and asked if Zoe wanted to hold the sky for her but Artemis forbid Zoe to offer. Atlas smirked and tried to pet Artemis who snapped at her. Atlas asked Zoe if he saw how much Artemis liked her new job, he’d let all the Olympians take turns doing it after Kronos took over and built his palace here. Annabeth motioned her head to Luke but Percy just stared at her. Thalia looked at him and nodded at Annabeth ruffling her own hair. She said it was from holding the sky, which should have killed her.

“Then,” Hazel said looking at Percy. “You…”

He stopped her. Barely anyone noticed him raise a hand to his own hair. “It’s disappeared but Annabeth had that streak for a good three or so years. The stress of the weight does that to any human who dares to try holding the sky for more than a minute. Luke didn’t have one because…. I can’t give that away yet.”

Percy asked why Artemis couldn’t just let go of the sky. Atlas said Percy understood little. This is where Gaia and Ouranos gave birth to the titan and they had to be held apart or the sky would crush everything. You couldn’t escape the weight unless someone else took it for them. He looked at Percy and Thalia asking if these were the best heroes. If so they weren’t much of a challenge.

“Let’s see what he thinks in a few hours,” Thalia scoffed. Percy gave her a warning glance but she rolled her eyes at him. “C’mon Kelp Head. They all know we’ll win anyway. We’re here aren’t we?’

Percy said to fight them and see. Atlas said the gods hadn’t taught him anything. Immortals didn’t fight mortals directly it was beneath them. He’d have Luke fight them. Percy deduced Atlas was another coward. Atlas ignored him and turned to Thalia saying Luke had been wrong about her. Luke said he was wrong then turned to Thalia saying she could still join them, if she called Bessie it would come. He waved his hand making a pool of water with black marble appear.

“Bessie wouldn’t just appear there, would he?” Frank asked.

“I’m not sure,” Reyna said looking at Percy and Thalia. “He followed Percy before. He could follow him again.”

There was a faint mooing. Then Grover’s voice echoed not to think about him or he’d lose Bessie. Percy had to block the thoughts.

“See?” Reyna said. “I don’t believe Thalia was the one who was supposed to have called it.”

“I didn’t even hear Bessie,” agreed Thalia. “I think only Percy could. THe child of the prophecy and no one else.”

Percy’s eyes widened. “I’m not so sure.”

Everyone else had doubting looks on their faces. They were sure.

Luke urged Thalia to call Bessie and be more powerful than the gods. She asked what had happened to him. He asked if she didn’t remember all the talks they had, cursing their fathers who had never done anything to them, or had a right to rule the world.

“He knew me to well,” Thalia cursed.

“But you knew him too,” Jason said. “Couldn’t you use that against him too?”

“Maybe,” agreed Thalia. “But it had been years. I wasn’t sure how much Luke had changed.”

Thalia demanded she free Annabeth. Luke argued they could make it like old times fighting for a better world, he told Thalia it was his last chance and the other way would be used if he didn’t agree.

No one had seen Thalia cry yet. She was tough, the oldest, protective, a person who had sacrificed, and who only stormed or yelled. They’d had to admire her bravery. But now Thalia put her face in her hands and burst into tears. Annabeth who’s face was impassive embraced her.

Thalia looked up with her face stained red with tear tracks. She looked at Percy and Annabeth miserably. “I could have saved him. He would be here. I could have…”

Annabeth nodded. “I know. Luke came to me too. A few months after. I didn’t think I could trust him either and it’s killed me now. But now I’m thinking what would the cost be if it hadn’t happened that way? If you had gone through and helped him then we wouldn’t have won.”

“It doesn’t make it better,” Thalia said. “I could have saved him. He wanted us to be together, our family. Maybe in a deranged way but he still missed us. And if…”

“Thalia,” Percy told her. “We can’t dwell on the what ifs… No matter how nice they might seem, we still live in the world here and now.”

Thalia nodded but the tears still came as Annabeth hugged her and the others watched sadly and confused. What did Luke need saving from? There was no way he deserved any saving either.

Percy meanwhile was thinking about Luke. He was weak now, probably just after his dip in the styx. And from what he was hearing now he knew what Luke had seen. He’d seen Thalia and Annabeth, both of them keeping him tethered. Both of them refusing him was making him lose hold of his tether. He was weak and scared and just wanted a chance. And Percy while upset and scared, could understand. Now more than ever.

Zoe told Thalia they had to fight them. Not join them. Luke waved his hand again and a sacrifice flame appeared. Percy whispered Thalia shouldn’t as the golden sarcophagus started to glow. The mist started to solidify into black walls. Luke’s voice shook as he said they’d raise Mt. Othyrs there and it would be stronger than Olympus. He proised Thalia they weren’t weak. He pointed down to the ocean where coming from the cruise ship were hundreds of monsters and even half-bloods marching up the mountain. Luke promised it was just a sneak peek, they’d attack camp then Olympus. They just needed Thalia’s help.

Annabeth cursed angrily. In loud greek and a few choice English words as well. She looked to some of the older campers. “He did that. He followed through. Exactly as he said.”

Percy nodded. “I thought you knew that. You were the one who planned for what happened.”

“Still,” Annabeth said. “It’s different to hear it right out of his mouth.”

Thalia dropped her spear for a second before raising it again and saying she didn’t know Luke anymore. He begged her not to make him, or Kronos destroy her. Percy looked at Annabeth who nodded. Then he turned to Thalia and Zoe. He said now. Then Thalia charged Luke and Percy charged Atlas. At the same time they fought.

“You fought Atlas?” asked Jason. “He was the best of the titan fighters. Hyperion, Krios and Iapteus weren’t even supposed to come close.”

“They didn’t,” Percy said. “Well at least two of the three of them didn’t.”

Jason’s eyes widened again. “What? When?”

“Oops,” Percy said. “I guess you’ll see.”

“But you were fourteen,” Reyna agreed. “And you fought a Titan on your own.”

Percy shook his head. “I barely even fought Atlas. Maybe now I could, I’m not going to try. Just watch. You should see.”

Thalia’s shield made the dracanae flee dropping the sarcophagus. Luke snarled and backbiter met Aegis, lightning erupted in the air. As Percy ran toward Atlas a javelin appeared in his hand and he had on armor then. He told Percy to go on as Zoe told him to beware. Percy nodded then swung his sword with angry eyes. Atlas knocked him aside into a now real brick wall with a crunching noise. He yelled Percy was a fool, he wasn’t like Ares and wouldn’t be defeated as easily. He raised his hands and the arrows that Zoe shot at him rebounded. Percy got up and charged again. The javelin came down and Percy raised riptide for a second but then if fell.

“What just happened?” Carter asked. “You’re awesome at fighting with a sword. You can hold up Riptide easily. You shouldn’t be sagging.”

“When I need my sword most it will fail me, remember?” Percy asked. “I’m not sure what the curse entailed from Ares, I definitely needed my sword more at other points. But this is when it hit.”

“But…” Leo said unbelieving. “Dude, this is you. You just…”

Percy shook his head. “Not how it worked.”

He was thinking now. The only other time he’d felt like that, unable to even lift riptide to fight, was in Tartarus when they faced the pit himself. It was a conscious thing, he realized. Both times he was thinking of Ares words on that beach in Santa Monica when he was 12. When he thought about it it affected him. Which meant he might think about it all the time now.

Percy tried to spin out of the way last second but the javelin came down on his chest. He slammed into the ground at Artemis’s feet. She told him to run as Atlas came toward him. Sparks were still flying any time Luke or Thalia’s weapons hit and near them Annabeth was trying to untie herself. Atlas looked at him and raised his javelin saying die, little hero. Then Zoe burst forward shouting no shooting arrows into an open spot in his armor. Atlas growled and spun on Zoe. Percy pulled riptide out of his pocket and looked at Artemis. He told her to give him the sky.

More people cried out. Percy just stared at the projection sighing. “I couldn’t fight with Riptide then. No one else had the power or time to take on Atlas except Artemis. Plus it was in the prophecy too. I had to do it.”

Artemis was sweating and told him no, it would crush him. He didn’t know what he was saying. He protested Annabeth had done it. Artemis said she’d barely survived and she had a huntresses spirit. Percy wouldn’t last as long.

“No,” Annabeth mumbled. “He lasted longer.”

Percy the only one who had heard her spun. “How long did you hold if for then?”

“Less than five minutes. You held it for nearly ten. I’ll say more later. Someone else is sure to ask.”

Percy said he’d die anyway. She had to give him the sky. He slashed her chains and got on a knee next to her putting his hands and shoulders so the sky was on both of them. For a few seconds Artemis stayed with him then she let go.

Percy’s eyes rolled backward for a second and he fell backward. Annabeth shook him and he sat back up faintly. “I thought that was the worst thing I’d ever felt. I’m starting to think it’s not.”

Annabeth agreed. “No.”

“It’s close though,” he said as he shook.

Grover’s voice echoed again saying not to give up. Percy took deep breaths narrowing his eyes. Atlas was jabbing around before him where Artemis was racing around two fast for him with two long hunting knives. She suddenly became a tiger as she scratched his side. A falcon as she flew and cut part of his shoulder with her talons.

“She reminds me of you,” Magnus said to Alex. “You’re weapon is just more terrifying. And a lot harder to use.”

Alex grinned. “Thanks. Not to bad yourself.”

Zoe shot arrows hitting the spots Atlas hadn’t managed to block. He kept roaring in pain but fought harder. Luke walked back as Thalia advanced to Aegis. Lightning flashed as she yelled at him to stop, he couldn’t beat her. He said they’d see.

Percy groaned and moaned in pain. He started to crumble and fall going further and further down. He looked at Annabeth. “I was never as strong as you.”

“You were always stronger Seaweed brain,” she promised him gripping his hand. He shook his head. Not agreeing. He grinned as he shook and then groaned again.

Atlas slammed the javelin into the ground opening a crack, then he leapt over it when Artemis had dodged and he’d missed. She looked at Percy and her voice said to get ready. She was running toward Percy. Atlas was laughing that Artemis fought well for a girl but never good enough for him. Percy yelled no as Atlas pretended to swipe with the tip of his javelin. Artemis dodged to the wrong side as her feet were swept out from under her. Zoe yelled no as well as Atlas raised the Javelin point over Artemis’s jest. She leapt forward and shot an arrow into Atlas’s forehead.

People laughed and cheered. Percy and Thalia exchanged sad glances as Percy started to groan again.

Atlas swept her aside and a crash was heard in the distance. Artemis didn’t move as Atlas stood over her preparing to stab down for the first blood in a new war. Artemis pulled his wooden javelin pole spinning out of the way. It hit the ground next to her as she flew up kicking Atlas and sending him through the air and towards Percy. Percy growled and let go as Atlas slammed into him and Percy rolled away.

Percy took a huge gasp then a breath of relief. Annabeth looked at him for assurance and he nodded at her. He was okay now. Or he would be soon.

The sky fell on Atlas as he got to his knees. He yelled no and tried to move. He couldn’t do anything. Percy stumbled trying to stand as Thalia backed Luke up to the cliff edge. She was crying and he was bleeding. He lunged at her and she slammed him backward. His sword fell on the rocks as Thalia put her spear to his throat.

Everyone cheered. Thalia looked down and the cheers suddenly quieted.

Luke asked well then Annabeth ran forward bruised and dirty yelling for Thalia not to kill him. Thalia yelled her voice shaking with anger that luke was a traitor. Annabeth pleaded that they could bring Luke back to Olympus. Luke asked if that was what Thalia was what Thalia wanted to go back to Olympus as a hero and make her dad proud. Luke grabbed her spear as she stopped for a second. Then Annabeth yelled and Thalia kicked Luke off her javelin. He fell backward as Annabeth yelled his name. They all looked down to where his body was in a mess on the rocks among the crowd of monsters.

“He’s dead?” asked Piper shocked. “Just like that?”

 

Chapter Text

“No,” Chris said. He looked at Luke’s broken body with a swirl of emotions. “He couldn’t be dead. He was still alive later.”

“Then how was he still alive?” Zia demanded. “A fall of that height should kill anyone.”

“Not Percy,” Alex said helpfully.

“That’s only into water,” Percy said. “The rest of you could probably die. As for how Luke lived… I didn’t believe it. But he did. And you will learn how. At some point.”

A giant looked at Luke’s body then up pointing at Percy, Thalia and Annabeth. He yelled for the monsters to kill them. Thalia was crying and Percy had to pull her back as Javelins flew above their heads hitting behind them. They ran to where Artemis was with Zoe. Zoe was breathing harshly with eyes wide. She said Zoe’s wound was poisoned.

“By a parent’s hand,” recited Calypso sadly. She sighed and looked down as the other’s eyes widened in realization.

Percy asked if Atlas had poisoned her. Artemis said not Atlas pointing to a dragon bite in Zoe’s side. Zoe was murmuring that she couldn’t see the stars as Percy begged they get nectar and ambrosia for her.

“You couldn’t have done anything,” Apollo told him. “Ladon’s poison, even if caught right away would have killed her. Artemis thought a lot of you for some reason. I guess this whole scene has been why.”

Percy blushed but his eyes were sad and he was still shaking.

Kronos’s army was yelling and running towards them. None of them moved until a plane appeared out of the sky with a buzzing noise and a cry of someone yelling for them to get away from his daughter. Machine guns burst and monsters turned into dust as Annabeth cried dad questioningly.

“That’s your dad?”

“That’s your uncle?”

Questions pestered Annabeth and Magnus. Annabeth was grinning and Magnus was laughing. “I don’t even know why he and mom fought. It was mostly with Randolph I guess. And maybe separating mythologies. I think they might’ve known.”

“Your mom did,” Annabeth said. “Because Dad sure doesn’t.”

“Either way,” Blitz said. “Annabeth’s father is a lot better than your other uncle.”

“We all hated that dude,” Alex agreed. “His house is a creepy place.”

“How did he do that though?” asked a shocked Piper. Her father’s mind had almost turned to mush just learning about the gods. She couldn’t help but be jealous.

“Kept some of the weapons I left and melted them down into bullets,” Annabeth grinned. “Just to tinker. That plane he owns for research purposes.”

“I’ve really got to spend more time with Uncle Fredrick,” Magnus muttered also grinning.

Artemis agreed he was a brave man as he yelled for them to run. She said they had to get Zoe away and blew on her horn. Zoe’s eyes fluttered and percy told her tohang on it’d be okay. More machine guns fired as the Dracnae turned into dust. Annabeth was gasping that was her father. Then a chariot of silver deer landed next to them. Artemis told them to get in. Percy and Annabeth helped a shocked Thalia on then zoe. They wrapped her in a blanket and Artemis flew them into the sky.

“Wait,” Sadie said. “Both of you were still weak from holding the sky but managed to help two people into the sled and run yourself?”

“Yeah,” agreed Annabeth.

“Pretty much,” Percy said. “Done a lot worse since.”

Percy murmured it was like Santa’s sleigh as they flew. Artemis said that’s where the legend came from. Dr. Chase followed them with his plane as Kronos’s army roared along with Atlas as held the sky. Then the scene skipped to them landing and Annabeth getting out of the sleigh to hug her dad and tell him it was one of the most amazing things she’d seen. He said it wasn’t bad for a middle aged mortal.

“Can we all just adopt yours and Percy’s parents as our own?” Thalia asked.

“I thought you already had,” Percy asked. “Plus I hear Tristan McLean is pretty nice. Not to mention ho—”

“Don’t you start,” Piper scolded. But then she grinned. “Yeah. Your dad is badass Annabeth.”

“Not as badass as Tristan—” Leo started.

“Don’t!” Piper yelled tackling him.

Annabeth asked how he got the celestial bronze bullets. He said she left behind a lot of weapons in Virginia and he melted them down in bullet casings. Annabeth muttered something to her dad but Thalia called her and Percy to where they were bandaging Zoe. Percy asked if he could heal her with goddess magic.

Apollo shook his head. “It just doesn’t work like that. I’ve tried so many things so many times.”

“I know,” Percy muttered.

Artemis told him life was fragile. If the fates cut the string she could do nothing. But she could try. Then Zoe grabbed Artemis’s wrist and there was a quite moment. Zoe asked if she’d served Artemis’s well. Artemis said she was the best. Zoe’s face softened and relaxed as she said she’d have rest as last. Artemis said she could still try to heal the poison. Zoe didn’t answer but grabbed Thalia’s hand saying she was sorry they argued when they could’ve been sisters.

“We are,” Thalia said tearfully. “I just hope you think I’m doing a good job.”

“You’re doing the best,” Percy told her. “More hunters than ever before. And none leaving either.”

“Not as many now,” Thalia said. “Not since Orion.”

Reyna looked away.

Thalia said it was her fault. Zoe had been right about Luke, heroes and everything. Zoe said not all men. She looked at Percy and asked if he still had the sword. He put riptide in her hand closing it around the pen. She said Percy spoke the truth. He was nothing like Hercules. She was honored he carried this sword.

“I hope you still are,” Percy murmured thinking of things he’d done since. Things people wouln’t approve of, or would be scared of.

“She would be,” Thalia assured him too. “And Artemis still trusts you.”

Percy smiled weakly.

She shuddered then and Percy’s voice cracked as he tried to say her name. She was mumbling now that she could see the stars again. Artemis was crying and said yes they were beautiful tonight. Zoe mumbled again about the stars her eyes stayed on them as she stopped moving. Annabeth cried into her father’s chest as Thalia lowered her hand. Artemis put her hand on Zoe’s mouth and said something in ancient greek. Silver smoke came out into Artemis’s hands as Zoe’s body disappeared. Artemis stood murmured and blew the silver into the sky.

“What was that?” Nico asked. “That shouldn’t be possible with a dead body. Or with her soul. What did Artemis just do?”

“Watch the sky,” Percy said mournfully. “Watch the stars.”

The stars became brighter and a pattern formed of a girl with a bow running in the sky. Artemis said she’d live in the sky forever now as the world honored her.

There were gasps and murmurs as Percy and Annabeth held each other remembering another friend who loved the stars too hurt to cry. Other people were tearing up though now looking at the ceiling as if they could see the stars. When they got back to the real world they’d look for the huntress. Percy was murmuring as he hugged Annabeth. “Hello to the stars.”

“Hello,” Annabeth repeated.

Artemis told them she had to go to Olympus now though she couldn’t take them she’d get them help. She looked at Annabeth saying she was brave above everything else and would do what was right. Then she raised an eyebrow at Thalia who took a second and looked up. They looked at each other then Artemis’s gaze got softer and she turned to Percy saying he’d done well for a man. Percy opened his mouth then closed it with a sad grin.

“What just happened?” asked a confused Frank.

“That’s how you know she likes Percy,” Thalia chuckled. “She called him a man, not a boy. That’s what she calls most demigod guys.”

“I’m not sure how much I deserve it though,” Percy said. Everyone scoffed. He deserved it more than anyone else.

The scene changed with Annabeth, Percy and Thalia flying on pegasi. Thalia was fast asleep on hers while Annabeth and Percy flew with each other. Percy asked what she was going to do now. She said she didn’t no but thanked him for rescuing her. He said they were friends, it was no big deal. She asked if he had thought she was dead. He replied never.

“When you disappeared it was the same,” Annabeth told him. “I just knew you were alive. I could feel it.”

Percy nodded hugging her a bit closer. “I’m sorry I just seem like a jerk during the next part.”

“I acted like the jerk. I knew how you feel about Luke. I’m not upset at you for it. I was being stupid about it.”

“You? Stupid? Never.”

She told him that Luke wasn’t either. He wasn’t dead. Percy stared at her worriedly and spoke gently saying the fall was bad there was no way he could have survivived. She insisted he wasn’t dead, the same way she knew about him. Percy scowled and turned away.

Annabeth winced. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t that way. I knew it but not like that. Not like with you. It’s different there. With you I’ll always know.”

Percy stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. He hummed contendly nodding.

They were over New York now and Percy said Blackjack was the man, the horse. Annabeth looked at him and noted he didn’t believe her about Luke but they’d see him. He was in trouble under Kronos’s spell. Percy was scowling but then Thalia flew over. She said it had started. Percy asked what. She pointed to the Empire state building where Olympus was glowing with torches and said the council of the gods on the winter solstice.

Leo grinned evilly then. “Can we stop for dinner now? And too finally start with the dares I’ve been waiting to start.”

Piper sighed. “Fine. As long as we’re getting it over with.”

Chapter Text

 

Once everyone was sitting around the table at dinner and eating the food that they had selected Leo stood up on his bench and yelled getting everyone’s attention. “Hey, so we voted on most of the dares before. This one if for Piper and pretty much it’ll be so annoying for Jason it will be his too.”

“What is it then?” Jason asked. He didn’t thing Piper could do anything that would annoy him too much.

“Piper has too be entirely dependent on you until we eat lunch tomorrow. And I mean entirely,” Leo snickered.

Piper grinned and slumped over on Jason. Jason sighed. Then Piper looked up at him. “Jason?”

“Yes, Piper?”

“I’m hungry.”

“So eat.”

“I need you to feed me,” she said. Jason rolled his eyes and picked up a fork with Piper’s favorite tofu salad on it and fed her a piece. She looked at him and mouthed chew with the food in her mouth. Sighing he gripped her chin and helped her chew.

“Rachel’s turn,” Percy said. “I chose one I knew you could do. Speak in quotes for the rest of the day.”

“That’s not too much longer,” Rachel pointed out.

“Yeah,” Percy said. “I figured it’d get annoying.”

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience,” Rachel quoted.

Percy raised an eyebrow. “I think I underestimated how confusing this could get too.”

“Rachel’s probably saying you have no patience and need to learn some,” Annabeth interpreted.

Rachel nodded.

Hazel raised a hand. “What about mine?”

“We haven’t thought of it yet,” Thalia told her.

“We’ll do it tomorrow,” Frank whispered. “Which is probably a good thing?”

Everyone continued to eat and talk with Jason helping Piper eating her meal and repeating anything she wanted to say or anyone said to her. He was getting a bit annoyed with this already and unlike what Rachel said he didn’t think he could have much patience here.

Finally Thalia suggested they finish which meant Jason had to help Piper stand up and help her walk, basically drag her back to where they were sitting where she had to lean on him to sit too. Once everyone was sitting the hologram started.

Percy, Annabeth and Thalia stood together and walked into the throne room where twelve thrones sat in a semi circle. Each god and goddess turned on them. Percy looked up to the ceiling which was shining with stars.

“Zoe’s constellation is there,” Will said pointing it out. Everyone stared at it for a few moments.

Artemis welcomed them though she was interrupted by a mooing noise. Bessie was in a sphere of water near the hearth swimming around happily. Grover was kneeling in front of Zeus and turned and cried that they made it.

“Déjà vu anyone?” asked Sadie thinking about the first scene they had watched.

He started to run toward them then paused and looked at Zeus who said to go. Zeus turned and looked at Thalia. Poseidon nodded at Percy who didn’t notice Grover hugging the two girls until he grasped his arms saying Bessie and him made it but Percy had to convince them, they couldn’t do it. Percy asked what? Artemis called them and turned human coming down from her thrones coming over.

“Is she going to tell us what Grover’s talking about or are we going to have to wait again,” Carter asked.

“Pretty much.”

“Yeah.”

“Like Rachel said, patience.”

“Not too long.”

Percy, Thalia, Grover and Annabeth laughed at Carter’s expression and everyone else’s groans.

Artemis told them that the council had been told what happened on Mt. Othrys. They knew about everything with Atlas and Kronos and voted to act. The gods mumbled uncomfortably. She continued on Zeus’s command her and Apollo would hunt down powerful monsters before they could join the Titans. Athena would check on the other Titan’s prison and Poseidon would try and take down the Princess Andromeda. She asked if the gods could deny that the half-bloods had done Olympus a great service.

“Yes,” Percy said.

“They totally can,” agreed Thalia.

“They usually do,” Annabeth said.

“How about always?” Nico said.

“We’re not that bad,” Apollo protested. He was given a look by all the demigods and sighed. “Fine, maybe we are.”

Hermes winked at Percy and Apollo gave him a thumbs up. Ares gestured at him with his knife. Apollo started to recite a haiku praising the kids when Hermes disrupted him. Then Hermes asked who was in favor of keeping the kids alive. Some hands went up when Ares pointed to Thalia and Percy saying they were dangerous. It’d be safer to take care of them while they were there. Poseidon stopped him saying they were heroes and no one would blast Percy to bits.

“Thanks dad,” Percy muttered.

Thalia blushed and looked down when Zeus said they wouldn’t kill Thalia either, she’d done a good job. Athena cleared her throat then agreeing she was proud of Annabeth but the other two were a risk.

“I thought your mom wanted to help?” Alex asked. “Now she wants to kill them?”

“Mom,” Annabeth sighed. “Well it’s complicated. Last year we fought and it’s only gotten better recently. And she’s never liked Percy because of his dad. Athena will always do what is wise for Olympus, she believed that to be getting rid of the risk of Percy and Thalia.

Annabeth protested and Athena stopped her saying she thought it was too bad that Zeus and Poseidon broke their oaths and only Hades kept his word. But Percy and Thalia were dangerous and though Ares might be stupid he had a point. Ares yelled right then realized Athena had called him stupid and got up when a grape vine pulled him back down and Dionysus told him save the fight for later. Ares said he was one to talk and asked if he really wanted to protect the brats.

Murmurs filled the room as people agreed with Ares. Percy raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

Dionysus said he had no love for the kids and asked Athena if killing them was safest. Athena said she was only pointing out the risk. The council had to decide. Artemis declared she wanted them rewarded not punished or they wouldn’t be any better than the Titans for killing people that helped them. Apollo told her to calm down and lighten up. Artemis yelled at him not to call her sis and to reward the heroes.

“At least you can count on Artemis to talk sense,” Sadie said. “Unlike most gods most of the time.”

Zeus said perhaps but they had to destroy Bessie, that was something they all agreed on. Percy looked up sadly asking if they really wanted to destroy Bessie as she squealed in protest. Poseidon frowned and asked Percy if he’d really named it Bessie? Percy turned to him and pleaded that Bessie was just a really nice sea creature. They couldn’t destroy him.

Reyna was silent. “I can see your side but it might be safer. The power to destroy the gods is still with the Ophiotaurus. If it’s destroyed by the gods and it won’t regenerate the world will be so much safer.”

“We can’t be like the bad guys, we can’t kill an innocent life just for the power it might have,” Percy said.

Poseidon looked away from Percy as if he felt bad saying it but said that Bessie’s power were too much if the Titan’s stole it. Percy insisted they couldn’t. He looked at Zeus defiantly saying controlling a prophecy didn’t work. Bessie was innocent and killing her was just as bad as Kronos eating his children. Scared of something that might happen that hadn’t yet.

There was quiet as everyone contemplated Percy’s words. Jason looked at him, Percy who he knew was defiant and had talked back to the gods. Yet seeing it like this was another thing. Jason didn’t think he could stare his dad in the eye like that to point something out. Especially when he had been fourteen.

Zeus stayed silent for a minute then looked at Thalia and asked about the risk. Kronos knew about Bessie, they couldn’t let that stay a possibility. Thalia would turn sixteen tomorrow like the prophecy said.

“And nothing would have happened,” Thalia argued. “It wasn’t my prophecy. Apollo, could you confirm that?”

Apollo looked down. “I don’t have my powers. I can’t do anything but from the past… Nothing happened until the next summer, nothing to big. And at that point Kronos’s forces weren’t as prepared as they could be. It happened when Percy was sixteen and not at any other time.”

“I don’t think so,” Percy said. “It could’ve been Thalia. That summer was whle Thalia would’ve been sixteen. Kronos’s forces could’ve succeeded then possibly and Thalia could’ve stopped them.”

No one else looked so sure.

Annabeth begged Zeus to trust them. Zeus scowled saying trust a hero questioningly as Artemis agreed with Annabeth. She said before anything she needed to reward someone. Her lieutenant Zoe had died and she wanted to choose a new one. She needed to ask Zeus in private first. She walked to Zeus and whispered in his ear as Percy turned to Annabeth and grabbed her arm saying don’t. She asked him what. He said he needed to tell her something.

There was a few squeals and a gasp or two. Hazel looked at Percy and Annabeth with wide eyes. “Is this when you two started dating?”

“What?”

“No.”

“Too early.”

Way too early.”

Annabeth grinned at Percy’s last sentence. “Yes, because he took another year and a half to do anything. And I was the one that made the first move.”

Percy laughed. “True.”

He continued the words bursting out of his mouth that he couldn’t stand it if and he didn’t want her to.. Then she stopped him saying he looked like he was going to be sick. Percy opened his mouth looking petrified but Artemis spoke up.

Everyone booed.

“What?” Thalia said. “Why are you booing Artemis?”

“Um we’re booing that she didn’t give Percy more time to admit what he wanted too,” Jaz said.

“He wouldn’t have,” Annabeth said. “At least not yet.”

“Hey! Have a little faith in me.”

Artemis said if someone said yes she’d have a new lieutenant . Percy murmured no with wide eyes. Then Artemis asked Thalia to join the hunt. The room went silent. Percy’s wide eyes turned to Thalia in shock. Then he grew a smile as Annabeth squeezed her hand in assurance and Thalia accepted seriously. Zeus looked at her asking to consider. She looked at him saying she wouldn’t turn sixteen tomorrow or ever. This prophecy wouldn’t be hers. She’d stand with Artemis and never let Kronos tempt her again.

Reyna smiled and turned to Thalia. “A hard choice but the right one and a wise one. You are too strong to be properly swayed by Kronos.”

Thalia grinned back at her. “The hunters are always recruiting you know.”

“It is not my place with them, or the Amazons,” Reyna told her. “But I will take the offer thankfully.”

“Does this mean you’re like me and Magnus?” Alex asked. “Won’t age, won’t die? Practically invincible.”

“Not invincible. I can still die. You’ve seen that. I can still get hurt.”

“It’s different than with you,” Annabeth agreed. “Correct me if I’m wrong but the Einjehar can still heal in Valhalla. You’re already dead after all. But on Earth or anywhere else it’s different. You don’t belong there and can get injured and die again. And disappear for real this time where you won’t regenerate in Valhalla.”

Samira nodded confirming it.

Thalia continued. “It is nice though, hunting down monsters, leading the others, recruiting and having fun. I don’t think about the other things it could mean though. I don’t want too.”

That lingered in the air for a moment as some of the others who wouldn’t age with their friends or maybe even die with them. It never really hit except in certain moments like these.

Thalia knelt before Artemis and made the same Oath as Bianca had before. Then she got up and smiled before walking back over to Percy and giving him a hug and Percy blushed. He raised and eyebrow as she drew back gripping his shoulders asking if she was allowed to do that now. Thalia said she was honoring her friend. Joining the hunt was the way for her to find peace since halfblood hill and feel like she had a home. Percy was the hero, the one of the prophecy. He looked down muttering great.

“I was right wasn’t I?” Thalia said.

“Yeah,” Percy sighed, “You were.”

She continued she was proud to be his friend then hugged Annabeth who was squinting back tears with a scrunched up face both happy and sad and then Grover who was shocked, in an excited way. Then she joined Artemis. Then they turned to Bessie before Mr. D warned that Percy was still dangerous and Bessie could tempt him for great power. Even if they spared Percy they had to kill Bessie.

“Did they just insinuate Percy could be tempted with power?” Carter asked. “That’s a serious joke, right? Especially after that whole fight with Setne and Nekhbeht.”

Sadie elbowed him. “Don’t spoil it. We’re the only ones besides Percy and Annabeth who know about that.”

“Sorry,” Carter said. “But I am right.”

“I agree,” Will said. “After the Titan war and all of that I’d never believe it.”

“Percy would never want it for himself,” agreed Nico.

“I wouldn’t be sure,” Percy mumbled but no one heard him.

Percy said no loudly and sternly getting the gods attention. He said to please keep the Ophiotaurus safe, Poseidon could hide it under the sea or they could keep it on Olympus. It should just be protected. Hephaestus asked why they should trust him. Percy pointed out he was fourteen. There was two more years for the prophecy to pertain to him. Athena said two more years before Kronos could deceive him a lot could change in that time.

“She’s right,” agreed Nico. “A lot could change.”

Percy looked at him sadly thinking of the ten year old boy he first met. The one standing here now was barely over fourteen. He’d been twelve during the Titan war. Something insane. Two years. Two years of time. But hadn’t he changed too? So much from the year and a half since he defeated Kronos, so much from the time he woke up in the Wolf House.

Annabeth yelped at her mom who told her it was the truth. It was a bad strategy to keep Percy or Bessie alive. Poseidon stood up and looked around saying he wouldn’t have Bessie destroyed if he could help it which he could. His trident appeared in his hand and he said he’d vouch for Percy and for Bessie.

“Your dad is the best,” Magnus said. “I mean compared to the other gods I’ve seen he’s actually shown he cared.”

“He’s better than most,” agreed Percy. “So I’m lucky that way. And that he took a risk with me. I could have turned out like some of his other kids.”

“Like Ant..ant.. Whatever his name was,” Rachel said. “In the Arena.”

“Antaeus,” Nico nodded.

“Or like Sciron,” Hazel shivered.

“Procrustes,” Annabeth chimed in.

“Okay,” Percy said. “We get it.”

Zeus protested Poseidon couldn’t have that type of bargaining chip so he wouldn’t allow Poseidon to take Bessie under the ocean. Poseidon tried to calm him but Zeus summoned his lightning bolt and Poseidon relented saying he’d build an aquarium on Olympus with Hephaestus. They’d protect it and Percy wouldn’t betray them. He vouched for them. Zeus asked who was in favor? All hands but Ares, Mr. D and Athena went up. Zeus agreed they had a majority and they wouldn’t be destroying the heroes so they’d honor them. He called for a celebration.

“No way,” asked Leo jealously. “You went to an Olympian party?”

“They didn’t even have a party after the Titan war,” Nico scowled.

“Olympus was kind of destroyed then,” Annabeth told him.

“What about after the giant war? Why not after that one?” asked Jason.

Apollo frowned. “Dad was kind of mad. And the gods were all upset. There was no party. Or rewards. It was weird though. There should have been.”

Chapter Text

Though they wanted to linger on that detail for a bit longer they didn’t. Piper looked at Percy questioningly. “So what are Olympian parties like?”

“What they sound like,” Percy said. “Heavenly.”

People groaned at his pun.

Percy was standing around watching as Dionysus helped the muses start the wine, ambrosia, nectar and part before walking around with a beautiful woman on his arm. Grover grabbed whatever Coffee was made and muttered Pan over it like a chant. Percy was looking around for someone but gods kept coming over and patting him on the back. Hermes started to chat with him and Percy was twitching guiltily until he left to take a call. Then Apollo came up and told him he could drive his sun chariot any time and he could also have archery lessons.

“Not a good idea,” Thalia said.

“Yeah, we tried just once on the Argo,” Frank winced. “Never again.”

“I still don’t understand how you made that shot with—” Nico was cut off finding he couldn’t speak anymore. “Oh, I guess that comes up soon then.”

“Either way, don’t let me know a bow and arrow,” Percy agreed.

Percy explained he wasn’t any good. Apollo told him that was nonsense. There was nothing better than watching target practice as they flew over the US. It was amazing.

“Are you trying to ask him on a date?” Leo choked.

“What?” Percy and Apollo both said. Though Apollo’s voice squeaked as it happened. Percy just looked extremely confused.

“He was,” Piper grinned holding back a laugh.

“No I wasn’t,” Apollo mumbled.

“Why do you guys keep saying things like this?” Percy asked. “It’s not true.”

“Sure,” Grover said sarcastically. “Let’s take a poll. Percy close your eyes.”

“What? Why?”

“We don’t want you to embarrass anyone. They don’t need to be as red as Apollo here,” Thalia told him. Percy sighed and closed his eyes pulling his hoodie over his face.

“Besides Annabeth who here has been attracted to Percy?” asked Grover. “And we already know about you Apollo.”

“It wasn’t a date offer.”

“Dad, you’re the god of truth. Lying doesn’t become you,” Will said.

Apollo sighed and raised his hand followed by Nico, Rachel, Calypso, Will, Hazel, Reyna, Sadie, Jaz, Sam and Alex. Thalia nodded. “Makes sense. Pretty much everyone’s attracted to guys.”

Nico looked at Will with the raise of an eyebrow. Will mouthed something at him. “Have you ever seen him training shirtless?”

Nico nodded understandingly.

“And,” Will added whispering so only a few people could here. “I drove behind him once on a motorcycle after he collapsed a whole bridge. Given that was during a war but any other time I would’ve been gone.”

Percy who had only heard Thalia’s remark was still shaking his head. “That can’t be true. Stop trying to prank me Thalia. And I thought you were above helping her Grover.”

Both of them exchanged looks as Apollo sighed in relief.

Then his father came up behind him and said he’d hope that Percy wouldn’t let him down.

Scoffs and snickers filled the air. The thought was pretty improbable.

Percy turned and looked up at his dad saying hi awkwardly. His dad responded he’d done well. Percy squirmed then looked up and said he wouldn’t let Poseidon down. Poseidon nodded starting to say something about Percy friend Luke when Percy interrupted he wasn’t his friend and apologized. Poseidon corrected himself and said Luke had promised things like that once, he was Hermes’s favorite, his pride. Even the bravest fell.

Percy looked down. His dad had been right. How much had he thought about that recently? About why Luke’s mind had changed, how he had been right in so many ways, how the gods were horrible…. Percy knew it wasn’t right but he knew in his heart he could take the same route as Luke any moment.

Percy agreed Luke fell hard. He was dead. Poseidon said he wasn’t. Percy stared asking what. Poseidon explained Annabeth had said this, but Poseidon saw it. The princess Andromeda sailed away and regrouping assaulting the demigods again. Poseidon would do his best to destroy the boats but they had allies who were protecting him. Percy asked how he could be alive when the fall should’ve killed him.

Piper looked at Jason. “Jason?”

“Yes Piper?”

“Ask Percy if he knows how Luke did it now.”

“Percy do you know how Luke did it now?” Jason sighed.

Percy nodded. “As I said. You’ll see.”

“Jason?” Piper said pulling weakly at his arm.

“Yeah?”

“What did he say?”

“We’ll see.”

Percy was now standing with Athena who told him that Poseidon was taking a big risk. Percy said Athena greeting her. She studied him saying not to judge her to badly, wiseness isn’t always popular. But she told the truth. Percy asked if she ever took risks? She raised an eyebrow and nodded. She took his point, Percy could be useful but his fatal flaw could destroy all of them.

“Did you not know your flaw before this?” asked Nico. “I mean it was kind of obvious. Even to me.”

“Not to me,” Percy said. “Was yours to you?”

“No,” Nico sighed.

Athena continued Kronos knew the flaw and knew to use it. How had he manipulated Percy in the past? By taking Sally, Grover and then Annabeth. His fatal flaw was the loyalty to his friends used to lure him into traps. He didn’t know when to give up on them. He’d sacrifice everything else to save one of them this was too dangerous.

“But Percy didn’t… What about when he didn’t use the pearl on Sally?” asked Carter. “Logically that’s going against his fatal flaw.”

“Heroes can overcome their fatal flaws, develop new ones, it’s something to be aware of at all times. It can kill us and others. But a flaw is there to overcome so it’s possible, but it’s still there,” Annabeth concluded.

“I wouldn’t be scared though,” Leo shook his head looking at Percy. “Percy can handle his flaw. When it helps us and the world he’ll fight against it but if he doesn’t have too he won’t.”

Percy protested that wasn’t a flaw to help a friends. Athena said the most dangerous flaws were the ones which were good in small wisdom. Evil things were easier to fight off. She said she hoped the council proved itself smart because she’d be watching. She didn’t approve of him being friends with Annabeth. She glared at him.

“For the goddess of wisdom she really doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about,” Sadie said.

“Does Thoth?’ Carter asked her.

“True,” Sadie conceded.

“The gods that know everything really don’t seem to know what they’re talking about,” Samira said thinking of Mirmir.

Annabeth ran up then calling Percy’s name but stopped and paused blushing seeing her mom. Athena said she’d leave them for now. Annabeth asked if Athena was giving him a hard time. Percy said it was fine. Then she reached up to touch the gray streak in his hair as he looked at hers.

“What happened to them?” Magnus asked looking at Annabeth and Percy. Neither had gray in their hair anymore.

“They faded,” Annabeth said stroking her lock of hair. Percy nodded. It had faded at the worst of times, while he was getting to Camp Jupiter and he’d lost what was a strong connection and reminder of Annabeth.

“The beginning of summer,” Jason noted. “We never really asked you about it. I figured it was a dye or something.”

“Percy still had it when we met him too,” agreed Frank. “It disappeared that week though.”

Percy nodded. “Two or so years I had it. People thought it was a statement or some dye. Like a skater boy or rebellious thing.”

“It was a lot easier for you to pull off then me,” Annabeth told him.

Percy pointed out that she lived in Camp for one of those years. Not san Francisco.

She glared at him but stopped after a minute smirking. “You know, thanks to Thalia and Sadie you have that rebellious streak in your hair again.”

She reached up and ran her fingers through it. The blue dye was in the same place that the gray streak had been. Percy gave a small chuckle. “Maybe I’ll keep it.”

Annabeth rolled her eyes again.

Annabeth asked what he’d wanted to tell her earlier. His eyes widened like a deer in headlights. He stuttered then said they were disrupted at westover hall and he owed her a dance. And she smiled in agreement. They held hands swaying to a slow song full of emotion smiling and laughing with a few tears in their eyes.

“Well at least you danced with her,” Clarisse said. “Can’t believe it took more of us knocking your heads together to get past that step and actually kiss.”

“He was just threatened by Athena,” Chris pointed out.

“Still,” Clarisse said. “Idiots.”

Percy rolled his eyes. “Okay… We’re idiots. We get it Clarisse.”

The next scene rose with a cabin head council in the big house. Clarisse with a few stitches new chopped up hair was looking angrier than usual. All the others were looking as Percy started to say Annabeth was right, Luke was alive.

Nico looked at Percy who met his eyes. Percy looked at him questioningly with concerned eyes as Nico nodded. He could handle it from now on. He could handle everyone seeing the rest of his mistakes and all the things he’d said or the time he’d pretended to hate Percy.

Annabeth asked how Percy knew. He told her that the princess Andromeda had set sail according to Poseidon. Annabeth scooted around a little in her chair and said if the final battle came when Percy was sixteen they had around two years now. Percy scowled then Chiron spoke up saying that may seem like a long time but it was short. He still hoped the prophecy wasn’t about Percy but if it was the second Titan war was coming soon and kronos would strike at camp first. Percy asked why Chiron knew or why Kronos would do that.

“Luke said he’d do it,” Will told Percy. “He literally said he’d take down camp then Olympus. You were there, shouldn’t you have heard that?”

“You can’t expect me to remember everything that happens while villains are monologuing,” Percy protested in a whining tone.

Chiron said the gods used heroes as tools and if they destroyed the tools the gods were helpless. Luke would bring his army here and they had to prepare. Maybe Clarisse’s information would help.

“What’s your information?” asked Frank curiously. He looked at Clarisse expecting her to answer. Instead she just growled.

“I am not talking about that. You’ll see it and I won’t be saying anything about that place,” Clarisse spat gripping Chris’s hand. He was shaking a little.

Then someone knocked on the door and Nico came in excitedly with wide eyes and bouncing energy. He smiled at Percy asking where his sister was. Percy’s eyes went wide and he looked at Chiron. Percy got up and spoke to Nico softly saying they should take a walk so they could talk.

“They hadn’t even told you?” Jaz asked furiously.

Nico shook his head. “They were waiting for Percy. He was there so they thought he should be the one to tell me.”

“But Percy… How do you expect a teenager to break news like that?” asked Rachel.

“It’s what needs to be done,” Samira said thinking about all the Einjehar she had told they were dead.

“Plus,” Percy pointed out. “Chiron isn’t the most sensitive. I like to think I did this better than what he had.”

“You did,” Nico told him. “None of my reaction was your fault.”

The scene skipped to them standing in the dining pavilion and Percy pulling out the mythomagic figure saying Bianca had wanted him to have it. Nico stared at it with tears in his eyes and a quivering lip. Then he scowled looking at Percy saying he had promised he would protect her.

Percy looked away clenching his fists as he tried to reign in his emotions. He had promised and it was his fault. Nico knew it too, didn’t he? He said it was okay now but Percy knew better. He’d broken his promise.

Nico looked at him sternly though. “You never broke that promise. You protected her as well as you could and that’s what you had said you would do. Bianca told me not to hold a grudge and I stopped holding a stupid one like this a long time ago. Now you should too.”

Percy’s eyes widened and he stepped back. He opened his mouth at a pause for a few seconds before saying he tried but Bianca had saved them all though Percy had tried to stop her. Nico yelled that he had promised. He grabbed the statue and said he shouldn’t have trusted Percy. He’d been lied too. All his nightmares were right. Percy asked what nightmares.

“He talked to you too?” Thalia asked surprised.

“Why does that surprise you so much?” Nico asked her. “He tried with all of us.”

“But you were ten!” Jason shouted.

“Kronos couldn’t really get to me,” Nico said. “I didn’t care about his agenda. Only getting revenge for Bianca and bringing her back. He didn’t really try again with me after a bit. He realized he wasn’t getting anywhere with any of us.”

“It’s just…” Thalia stuttered. “I thought he might stop with me. Or with Percy. He shouldn’t have tried with any of us and I was almost more easily manipulated than a ten year old.”

“Hey,” Nico protested. “I was manipulated too. Remember what comes next? And there was that other guy who got me into some bad things.”

“Could we really call him a guy though?” Percy asked. Nico glared at him and Percy raised his hands in surrender. “Fine. But let us feel bad that we didn’t notice he was trying with you too.”

Nico rolled his eyes. “Nothing to say you idiots.”

“You’re the baby of the family,” Jason reminded him. “They kind of have the right to be overprotective. We all do.”

“Hazel is younger,” Nico pointed out.

“Yeah,” Percy said. “But she’s Hazel. She doesn’t need us to protect her or save her. While you… need I remind you of the Colloseum with me and Jason?”

“Fine,” Nico sighed. “But I’ve saved you a good few times too.”

“Okay,” Percy said. “You have a point.”

Nico threw down the mythomagic figure yelling he hated Percy. Percy said she might be alive, he wasn’t sure. Nico shook closing his eyes shaking his head his whole body was trembling. He said Bianca was dead and he should have known it, he could feel her before the judges in Asphodel. Percy asked what he meant he could feel it. Then there was a hissing sound and four skeleton warriors showed up. Nico gasped as Percy whirled around with his sword.

“Not now,” groaned Frank.

Reyna shook her head sadly. “This will just make the whole situation worse.”

“Nico can fight them though,” Will said confidently. “There are reasons I have to give him doctors notes.”

“Children of the underworld,” Ella agreed. “Power over the dead.”

Nico looked at Percy and screamed saying Percy was trying to kill him. He brought these things. Percy yelled that they followed him but no and urged Nico to run. They couldn’t be destroyed. Nico yelled he didn’t trust Percy.

“I was an idiot,” Nico groaned.

Percy smacked his arm and glared at him sternly. “We all get scared. Especially of some emotions we can’t control. Whether it was about Bianca’s death or other stuff.”

“Plus you’ve faced it now,” Jason reminded him.

A skeleton charged and Percy parried it’s sword. Percy spun and sliced another in half and used the butt of his sword to knock the head off one of them. He yelled for Nico to run and get help. Nico held his hands to his ears curling up. Percy moved back defending Nico as the skeletons advanced. He slashed them in half, jabbed at them, then spun to hit another back and sweep one off it’s feet. They got over him though and Nico yelled no, for them to go away. The ground shook and the skeletons froze as a crack opened in the floor. Percy rolled away shaking the skeletons off him as the ground erupted in a crack full of flames and then closed.

“Was that your first time using your powers?” asked Walt impressed.

Nico nodded. “I mean that I remember. Like Bianca had said. We both had some memory issues from before the Casino.”

“It was impressive,” Percy said. “A lot more than using water to take down Nancy Bobofit.”

“It sure seemed like you did other stuff too,” Thalia said. “Like healing yourself unconsciously or other small water things. My first thing was just shocking my mom.”

“I don’t know about mine,” Jason said.

“It was making your toys fly with winds,” Thalia said. “Nothing too big though.”

“Mine were diamonds,” Hazel said. “Small ones. And nothing good.”

Percy asked how Nico had done that. Nico yelled at him to go away saying he hated him and he wished he was dead. He ran down the steps and into the woods. Percy followed but slipped.

Nico looked at Percy. “You know I didn’t hate you. I didn’t mean any of that. It was myself I was scared of and everything that was happening. It was just easier to pretend it was your fault. Kind of makes me a jerk.”
            “You’re not a jerk Nico,” Percy told him stubbornly.

Nico shook his head. “I am because you blamed yourself for a year. Not something you were ever responsible for but because I was too scared to face my stupid feelings. Don’t

He picked up the statue he’d slipped on. And looked at it. He gripped it in his hand and ran back to the big house. Annabeth was out front there. Grover was drinking more coffee. He looked at them both.

“Nico’s gone. I think I know who his godly parent is.”

“What?” Annabeth asked surprised standing up.

Grover’s eyes widened as Percy pulled out the mythomagic statue and gave it to them both to look at. “The skeletons…”

“Some just attacked us… Nico split open the floor of the dining hall and they disappeared. He’s upset, said he’s been having dreams. Ones that were right about me.”

“We need to find him,” Annabeth said. “If Kronos does…”

The three ran off into the woods.

“I was gone. Into the underworld, or that place near Zeus’s fist…” Nico told them. “I don’t even remember. It might have been shadow travel.”

Annabeth said they had to tell Chiron. Percy said no. Annabeth stared at him with Grover as he asked what that meant. Percy said no one realized who Nico was yet. They couldn’t tell anyone. Annabeth asked if he realized just how serious that was. Hades had broken the oath too. Percy pointed out he hadn’t Bianca and Nico were out of play before the second world war. Grover explained about the Lotus Hotel and Nico and Bianca were born before the oath. Annabeth asked how they got out. Percy said he didn’t know though Bianca had mentioned something about a lawyer. Maybe it was part of the great stirring but Nico was in danger and he didn’t even know about who he was. No one could know about him.

“Thank you,” Nico told Percy. “They could have killed me. Voted and my dad might not even have vouched like yours did. Or they wouldn’t have cared if he did anyway.”

“You were scared and needed help,” Percy said. “I wasn’t going to put you in more danger.”

Annabeth agreed it might make the Olympians fight again. Grover pointed out they couldn’t hide it forever. Percy said he only needed two years, until he was sixteen. Annabeth’s eyes widened and she told Percy that meant the prophecy could be about Nico not Percy. Percy shook his head and said he chose the prophecy, it was about him.

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It’s a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved,” Rachel quoted.

“I think Rachel was right,” agreed Thalia. “You needed to choose the prophecy. You did like I never had and Nico probably wouldn’t have.”

“A choice like that,” Hearth signed. “Choice makes destiny as much as destiny makes choice.”

Blitz took a while to translate but nodded. “It’s brave.”

Annabeth asked why he said that. Did he want the world to be his responsibility. Percy looked down for a moment but when he met her eyes his were steely and hard saying he couldn’t let Nico be in danger, he owed it to Bianca and he couldn’t let Nico suffer any more. He let them both down.

“And I kept doing it,” Percy said angrily. “I keep letting everyone down. And you keep picking up the pieces Nico… so many times. You’ve fixed the mistakes I’ve made. I just hope I made the right choice with the prophecy.”

“You did,” Nico told him. “And you stopped letting me down a long time ago Percy. You never did in the first place, I only let my self down.”

“Let’s just all stop bashing ourselves,” Jason said. “Okay?”

Grover reminded him that Nico wanted to see him dead. Percy said maybe they could find him and convince him it was okay and keep him safe. Annabeth asked what would happen if Luke got a hold of him and Percy said he wouldn’t. Percy would make sure Luke had him to worry about.

“Was that why you insisted on all those missions that year?” Will asked.

Clarisse grunted in agreement. “Yeah. We had other missions we wanted to focus on. But you made us do so many.”

“As many as Chiron let,” Percy corrected.

Percy and Annabeth were talking now on the big house porch when Grover stumbled out. He was pale and tripped over saying he spoke. Chiron told him to calm down asking what the matter was. Grover said he was drinking coffee, lots of it and playing some music when he spoke in his mind. Annabeth asked who when Grover yelled pan and Grover said he had to find him, he had to get a suitcase. Percy asked what he said. Grover met his eyes and said it had been three words, I await you.

“Now that’s another way to set your fate,” Magnus said looking at Grover with wide eyes. The satyr looked a lot different than he had in the hologram which had now collapsed. Stronger, surer, older and less nervous.

Grover agreed and together he and some others started to discuss Pan. Meanwhile Annabeth looked at Percy. “What do you think about this thing about choosing your own fates? Especially while we’ve been here.”

Percy sighed. “I’m not even sure anymore. All the choices I’ve made were in the result of protecting or helping something else. That’s my fatal flaw a fate set a long time ago. I’m not sure how much free choice I have though I want to believe I do and that the Fates don’t affect that. But they do, apparently they have another thing written out in my destiny even the choices I make. I just think as long as I don’t know what will happen I’ll keep making my own decisions thinking they aren’t already set out.”

“Maybe they’re not,” Annabeth said. “Either way you have a much larger destiny waiting, one that’s been given to you this time, not just chosen. I know you could have run from both of the last prophecies. I’m not sure you’ll even have a choice with this one.”

Percy just grinned at her. “I’ll just have to take what life gives me.”

“C’mon Seaweed brain,” she said pulling him up. Together they walked away to a room as the others headed off to sleep and wait to see what the fates had chosen to give them for tomorrow.