It was after Percy had accidentally caused Mt St Helens to explode that he’d first heard anything about it.
Annabeth had snuck to his cabin in the night after he had returned, unable to sleep without reassuring herself that he was alive and here . Percy, unwilling to leave her like this, had allowed her in and they sat together on his bed, the mess that was left on it shoveled off quickly. She was leaning her head against his shoulder, which left an odd feeling in his chest, staring outside of the window into the stars above.
Annabeth had looked to be deep in thought, her thinking face clearly visible. Finally, Percy couldn’t stand the suspense of wondering what she was thinking. “So Wise Girl,” he began, startling Annabeth a bit, which he felt bad about, “What’re you thinking about?”
She gave him a look. “How do you know I’m thinking about anything, anyway?” Percy grinned. “You have your I’m-Thinking-About-Something face on.” She huffed indignantly, a playful frown on her face. “I do not have a,” She took a breath, “ I’m-Thinking-About-Something face.”
Percy looked away shiftily before leaning in, still looking away, and stage whispering. “You totally do.”
She punched him in the shoulder, ignoring his “Ow.”, and looked back at the sky again with a sigh on her lips.
Percy looked at her worriedly. “Everything okay?” He asked, before immediately wishing to punch himself in the face, because of course, everything was not okay , he’d nearly died and Annabeth had spent two weeks thing he was dead.
Annabeth didn’t answer, her eyes still on the stars.
“Percy,” she began almost nervously, “Do you know the significance of the name Perseus?”
Percy frowned, confused. “Of course I do,” He told her, still frowning, “He was a hero of old, original slayer of Medusa and all that heroic jazz.” He paused. “And also one of the more luckier heroes, one who got a happy ending, which is why my mom had decided to name me after him.”
She finally turned to look at him, lifting her head from his shoulder, grey eyes serious and with some unnameable emotion swirling in the stormy colors, all of it cast in shadows from the darkness of the room.
“I meant the name’s meaning.” She told him imploringly, and when he shook his head in the negative, she sighed again.
Annabeth tiredly placed her forehead on his arm, lightly pressing against it. “It has many meanings,” She said, voice muffled but sounding almost like her teaching voice, though the usual spark behind it was gone. “But some of the more universally accepted meanings are-” She choked up a bit, which was so unAnnabeth like that it scared him a bit. Placing his hand on her shoulder in comfort, not really knowing what else to do, Percy waited for her to continue.
Collecting herself, Annabeth took a breath.
“The most common meanings of the name; they’re ‘to destroy’ , ‘destroyer’ , ‘avenger’ , and ‘to ravage’ .”
When her voice trailed off, the room seemed to be left cold. A heavy feeling weighed down Percy’s chest, a twisting feeling in his gut. Annabeth looked up at him, eyes a little misty and a dark light in her eyes.
“B-But-” Percy couldn’t get his mouth to move, his tongue felt heavy, the back of his throat tasted of ash.
The world exploding around him
Dread was heavy in his chest as he finally realized something.
All of that destruction, all of the chaos, the destruction of homes, the relocation of locals and the injuries of civilians, that was all on him . It hadn't really hit him, what with all the chaos of Calypso’s island and interrupting his own funeral, but he’d been the one to cause all of that damage.
“That wasn’t the reason for my name.” Percy’s voice sounded small, even to him.
Annabeth sighed. “I know Percy, but it's still so- so,” She couldn’t find the words, they escaped her brain like water falling through a drain, but she still tried.
Percy tried for a grin, but he knew it fell flat even without the wince that befell Annabeth’s face. “Convenient?”
Her grey eyes shifted to the side almost guiltily. “Yeah.” Annabeth’s voice was a whisper.
There was a long, stretching silence that made Percy twitch before Annabeth looked back into his eyes.
“Come on, Seaweed Brain, we need to get some rest.” Her face was half grimace and half self-deprecating smirk. “After all, we need to get back to the maze soon.”
Percy’s face matched her own as he shoved the pain his chest into the back of his mind for a while, though he knew it would soon come back to haunt him on long nights and lonesome silences. “You’re right, as always Wise Girl.” She stood up and he followed. “I’ll walk with you back to your cabin,” He grinned, though it felt false. “After all, wouldn’t want you to be devoured by a cleaning Harpy.”
She gave him an annoyed look. “Like I wouldn’t be able to deal with them if I needed to.”
She smirked a bit, pulling out her Yankees cap from her pants back pocket. “Besides, I have the invisibility cap, not you.” She turned around, beginning to walk to the door.
Percy stumbled after her, whining at her back. “But it’s courestry!” He looked up with wide, pleading eyes and her walls crumbled. She tried to glare at him, but it just wouldn’t stick on her face.
“Fine.” Annabeth eventually muttered and they walked out of the Poseidon cabin door and into the night, stars glinting in the sky.
The Great Prophecy’s lines echoed dimly in his head, almost confirming the dark fears that dug their way into his chest over the years.
A half-blood of the eldest gods
Shall reach sixteen against all odds
And see the world in endless sleep
The hero’s soul, cursed blade shall reap
A single choice shall end his days
Olympus to preserve or raze .
It sent chills up his back. He was destined to die , but he still could end the world.
It seemed so unfair to Percy, but then, he realized as he began to chuckle darkly into the darkness of the cabin when had his life ever been fair?
He stared up to the shadowed ceiling, back pressed against the comfortable bedding, but he wouldn’t have noticed if it was rough stone he was laying against with his thoughts in such turmoil.
It seemed Chiron was right once again, knowing too much about the future was never a good thing.
Annabeth’s voice echoed dimly in his head from that night so long ago.
It seemed quite an accurate name now. Truly, he had been destined for this ever since he was named Perseus, for nothing else could be so connected . He snorted self-deprecatingly, eyes dark and swirling with power.
He could be the cause of the world’s end or its hero in shining armor. Olympus to preserve or raze, eh? Apparently younger him had all the reason to worry, his name really was like its own prophecy.
Percy looked outside. Storm clouds edged closer to Long Island, the waves lashing angrily against the beach. It seemed this storm, which looked more like a hurricane if anything, wasn’t going to be leaving Camp untouched.
The worst thing was, Percy didn’t know if it was his fault or not that the storm was brewing at all.
What demigod had this kind of power balancing on their hands? To ravage , Annabeth’s voice, younger and somehow so changed in these few years, whispered in his head.
Perseus indeed , he thought darkly, and waves crashed even harder against the surf.
Once more, Percy was part of a prophecy, and once more, he could just end the world in the process. But this time, he had a whole lot more baggage on his shoulders.
To storm or fire the world must fall
He had the oddest feeling that storm was him, and thus the world might just fall because some stupid old ladies decided to make his life a living hell. Staring out into the expense of the sky from the deck of the Argo II, he realized just how much his very existence seemed to be a joke, some higher beings form of entertainment.
Steps sounded behind him, the soft padding of bare feet against the ship’s wooden deck. Turning around, he spotted Leo, belt still somehow managing to stay securely around his hips even though the son of Hephaestus was wearing his nightclothes. (Which Percy would later remember with fondness had been patterned with the Iron Giant, clearly the only pair that were actual nightclothes and not some highly stained shirt and boxer shorts.)
The Latino looked as sleepless as him, the constant fire behind his eyes dimmed. It worried the son of the sea god, made him forget his own troubles in the face of someone else’s.
“Leo?” He asked, the sea in his eyes becoming calm. “You okay there? It’s not your turn to watch yet.” Leo grinned up at him, but it seemed halfhearted. Percy noticed dark bags underneath his eyes and how the other looked pale in the limited light of the deck.
“I know, just thought I’d come up here early,” Leo responded, words slower than usual. A breeze blew by, and it ruffled the curly dark brown locks. Percy frowned, usually Leo would have to be damn near dragged from his bed for his turn during watch.
“Somethings up, dude, might as well just tell me and get it over with.” Percy grinned a bit, but it didn’t have his usual energy. “I can be pretty stubborn about these sorts of things.” Leo snorted, a spark beginning to return to his eyes. “Sorry Perce, you're not stubborn about this, you’re stubborn about everything .”
Percy turned up his nose and went back to staring at the night sky, his hair whipping in the wind. “Well excuse me,” he said pompously. Leo couldn’t suppress a snort at the ridiculous picture it made, hand stuffed against his mouth to stifle his laughter. Percy soon began to laugh with him and they almost fell over in their joined laughter. When they stopped, huffing and panting, they both turned to the Argo II’s railing, leaning against it as silence slowly slipped over them, satisfied smiles on their faces.
“But seriously,” Percy looked over at the demigod beside him, looking older than all of his years, “What’s up?”
Leo sighed, smile slipping away, something Percy only slightly regretted.
While Leo tried to think of an answer, Percy realized something. This was pretty much their first full, real conversation together without any of the other Seven there. He wondered on this until Leo finally began to speak again, and then his mind snapped to attention.
“I-It’s the prophecy,” Leo told him, looking anywhere but at the son of Poseidon. Percy’s eyes lit up with realization. “The storm or fire line, right?” He asked, smiling a bit when the fire user turned to look at him incredulously. “Yeah, but how’d you know that?”
The smile slipped from Percy’s face and he looked down at the wooden planks underneath his feet. Leo was barefoot , his mind thought foggily, he should put on some shoes before he got splinters . “Percy?” The mentioned Latino asked, voice somehow sounding far away and close at the same time. “You there Aqua Dude?”
That drew Percy from his stupor. “ Aqua Dude? ” Percy asked, affronted. Leo gave him a look, humor dancing in his brown eyes. “That’s what got your attention? All of that effort and I just could have given you a nickname?”
Percy, still sounding highly offended, told him, “That’s a terrible nickname and you know it.”
Leo shrugged. “True.” He grinned wickedly. “But I’m still gonna call you Aqua Dude, Aqua Dude.”
Percy remained slightly offended at that but drew the conversation back in. “Okay, fine then, but you have to tell me exactly what’s been bothering you about that line.” Leo looked at him more seriously. “Then you’ll have to tell me what's been bothering you .” Before Percy could even open his mouth to protest, he continued.
“Everyone knows something's been bothering you, they just haven’t been able to figure out what.”
He sighed, thinking of if he should take the deal. On one hand, Percy was worried about Leo and wanted to know what was wrong, but on the other, he wanted to keep his own problems to himself.
It was silent on the deck of the Argo II for a few moments, a pregnant pause that was only interrupted by the ruffling of Percy’s clothes as he shifted nervously.
Finally, Percy nodded his head in agreement. Leo couldn’t surprise his grin at this small victory, even if it came at the cost of having to spill some of his own secrets. Annabeth has been worried sick lately, Percy’s odd behavior sending off some of her heads warning signs, and so she let out her stress on them. It made the rest of the Seven resolve to help whenever they had the chance, which wasn’t often.
Percy peered at the fire user before speaking, breaking the silence of night once more. “You’re going first though, Charmander.” Leo groaned.
“Dude! That’s even worse than mine!”
Percy grinned before he turned stoic again. “I’m serious. You’re going first.”
Leo frowned but nodded, still he looked away, trying to get himself more time.
“Well, as you already guessed, it’s the prophecy’s “storm or fire line,” Leo started laughing a little madly. “I mean, how can I think I’m any sort of hero when I’m supposedly going to be one of two who might just destroy the world.” The mad laughter tapered off to giggles before stopping entirely.
It was quiet for a moment, before Percy began to chuckle. It grew until he was full on laughing, unable to keep his balance and falling to the ground.
Leo looked hurt, something Percy noticed quickly, which made him stop the mad laughter quickly.
He stood up shakily, gripping the railing for support. Looking toward Leo, he explained.
“Sorry about that. It’s just that, well, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking lately.” Leo’s face lit with realization, a low “Ohh.” leaving his mouth.
Percy shivered, the cold getting to him more, especially with the chills that were running down his back. He noticed Leo looking at him closely, as if trying to assess something. Then, he lit his hair on fire.
Percy jumped so badly he almost fell of the edge of the Argo II.
Leo quickly stopped the fire, looking apologetic. “Sorry, sorry,” he repeated quickly, only stopping when Percy lifted a hand. “It wasn’t the fire that scared me, just the suddenness.” Percy, too, looked apologetic. The smile on Leo’s face was tentative, harder to notice then most of his other smiles and grins. So, looking cautious, Leo slowly lit his hair again.
Percy was pretty awed by the flames, they were quite warm for their size and they reminded him of happier times on Montauk, roasting blue marshmallows with his mother. “That’s a cool power.” He told Leo straightforwardly. The Latino blushed a little, more noticeable and highlighted in the flickering firelight.
Leo waved the compliment off, resolving to think about how it made him feel happier later, instead asking a question that had been bothering him since he discovered why Percy had been acting strange.
“Why do you think that you’d be the one to destroy the world?”
Any cheer in the air quickly vanished, the sudden tenseness echoed by distant thunder of a nearby storm.
Percy seemed to be in deep thought, his face pinched and eyebrows furrowed. “Well,” He finally said, “I cause a lot of destruction. Already once before, I had the whole world’s fate in my hands, and I very nearly destroyed it. And sometimes,” Percy took a breath, “Sometimes I’m left wondering about if this is really worth it, if I should follow the feeling of broken glass in my chest and just let all of my power free.” Leo didn’t say anything for a while, which worried Percy. When he said something again, his voice was unnaturally serious. “When have you caused a lot of destruction?”
Percy saw the barest outline of a mountain far in the distance. For some odd reason, his eyes seemed misty, but there was really no reason to cry.
“I blew up a whole mountain once, they had to relocate so many people, and there were lots of injuries. It ended up weakening Typhon’s bonds that kept him contained, so he escaped a few years after.”
Leo’s face was impossible to read, even with the light of his still lit hair. Percy wasn’t in any shape to notice if there was any emotion there anyway, since he was back to darkly laughing, a tinge of madness in his voice.
“Afterwards, Annabeth told me what my name means. To ravage, destroyer, avenger . That sort of thing.” His gaze was drawn to the stars, specifically a special constellation, a new one. “Sounds like its own prophecy, doesn’t it?” He tilted his head to ask Leo.
Leo’s eyes were dark somehow, even when firelight danced in them. “Hey,” His voice, trying to sound humorous, fell almost horribly flat. “At least if any of us ever die, then you’ll be able to kick ass for us, Avenger .”
Then, with nothing left to say, Leo walked away, taking his flame and warmth with him.
Percy was speechless for a moment before calling to the son of Hephaestus’ back, “You’re still next in watch duty, 10 minutes, Charmander!” A loud groan was heard and Percy snorted.
The two silently made a promise that night to never speak of what they had discussed ever again, their conversation was a private one and one that was already finished by the time Leo had begun to walk away.
Percy was breathing hard, eyes flickering around the room unseeingly and sweat staining his shirt. Tartarus flashed behind his eyes, still vigorously haunting him.
Minutes passed in absolute silence and Percy’s breathing began to level itself. The Poseidon cabin began to overtake the memories in his eyes, though they returned as soon as he blinked. Phantom pains made his arms and legs twinge with every movement, but they too faded away within a few minutes.
Usually, he woke up screaming, which coincidentally woke up Annabeth (if she was actually asleep) and cause her to run over to his cabin. This time he had woken up in silence, and Percy couldn’t quite decide if that was a good thing or not.
Somewhere outside his cabin, a branch broke.
Percy was up in an instant, Riptide’s familiar grip in his hands in a mere fraction of a second. He edged closer to the window, peering outside into the swaying branches of nearby trees. Almost glowing green eyes quickly zeroed in on a large fallen branch, large enough to have made the sound he heard. A stronger wind blew, causing a few more twigs and branches, these ones all smaller, to be ripped from their place.
His breath came out more slowly, the deadly blade in his hands lowering. Of course, his guard was still up, but it was lessened to what it had been seconds before.
It’s fine , Percy told himself, just a branch that had fallen from the wind . Still his guard wouldn’t fully fall, every slight movement putting his senses on high alert.
With a sigh, he tumbled back into his bed, back resting in the ident in the comfortable mattress and Riptide, in pen form once again, grasped loosely in his right hand.
What a cursed word, Percy’s near delirious mind thought.
It made him think of darkness, fear, a cold that you could feel all throughout your body, and poison .
Poison in his blood, killing him slowly, poison flowing toward him and trapping him on a cliff, poison bending to his will. The glass ball in his chest still felt irreparably broken, edges softened but still deadly, and still filled with so much powerpowerpowerpower power -
Fearful grey eyes flashed in his mind, and the odd feeling that was spreading through him stopped.
With a groan, Percy dragged himself to a sitting position, legs crossed and arms out behind him, keeping him up. He didn’t want to think about that power, but it beckoned him like a sirens call. Only his promise to Annabeth made him stop from trying again, seeing how far he could bend his powers before they broke .
But he knew he couldn’t risk the drawbacks. Percy wasn’t as oblivious as people seemed to believe, he noticed the whisperings and fearful looks, the conversations that stopped when he entered hearing range. He saw the worried looks of those who remained of the Seven, and he remembered Leo’s unreadable face and dark eyes on a starry night so long ago. He also heard what some people were saying a few times, snippets of conversations he would much rather forget.
Percy thought the worst one was the conversation between Annabeth and Chiron that he had only heard because he noticed Annabeth’s absence and went to find her.
It was Chiron’s voice he heard first.
“-what would happen if Percy changed sides?”
Pausing in the doorway, scared to breath, Percy waited.
He was rewarded with Annabeth’s incredulous laughter.
“Percy would never change sides.”
Her voice was so sure, so determined, that it chased away his fears caused by nights laying awake and wondering-
“But if he did, Annabeth, would we win the battle?”
Percy wanted to hear Annabeth’s answer, wanted to confirm that his fears were nothing, unfounded ramblings from too many nights awake.
Her voice broke the tense silence, sad and resigned and flattening the small bud of hope in his chest.
He ran then and he would run now, from his problems, from the power, from the little voice in his head that whispered ‘What if what if what if?’
Percy swore to her and he swore to himself that he never would again, that he would never become Perseus, but his feet were tiring and his breath stuttering and he didn’t know if he could run anymore .