Poseidon isn't sure whether he should be intruding on his son, mourning as he is. And yet, his connection with his son burns bright and distracted as he is, his wife gently touches his shoulder and whispers, sweet and gentle as can be, Go to him.
And because her advice is invariably wise, he does.
Percy isn't near or in the ocean where his connection to him is the strongest. He isn't in his apartment in Rome where he might be overheard. He isn't with his mother and her new bright family. He isn't even at Camp Half Blood.
When Poseidon comes to his son, he is sitting on the side of a deserted road, crying. There are cracks in the road from his mild earthquakes (only about a 5.1 on Richter Scale followed by a 4.5 after-shock and some lighter tremors. Not insignificant but nothing particularly concerning).
The winds blow hard, hard enough to rattle the houses and uproot some of the weaker trees.
Percy sits in the eye of the storm, unconcerned by the destruction, a little too focused on his own mourning to bother much. (And really it's hardly a terrible storm, just enough to scare with mild property damage.)
Poseidon sits down by his son's side. "You seem troubled."
Percy looks to his side, and like always, he manages a smile. He doesn't wipe at his tears, just looks down sadly. "Life is a bitch sometimes."
(Poseidon is so very proud of his son and how wise he is in matters of the heart, the hardest to tame and in his opinion, the most important to understand. Despite all reasons to the contrary, he isn't ashamed of his tears. Athena might have called it a weakness but Poseidon believes it might be one of his son's more courageous acts.)
"I never really liked your choice of companion." Then wonders if it's too forward, too abrupt when the wounds are still raw.
Percy sighs. "Annabeth is…Annabeth. I love her, but-" He abruptly stops as he remembers that he has no right to say that anymore.
"Athena and her children." Poseidon sighed. "I have never been terribly fond of them."
"Because of Athens, right? And Medusa."
Poseidon rolled his eyes. "I am prideful but I am certainly not egoistical enough to still be bitter about that." He can sense a few gods' interest in their conversation now that the sea god is opening up. He relents to the intrusion, he doesn't wish to halt such an important conversation with his favorite son to hunt them down. He'll deal with them later.
"I always thought you and Annabeth were a poor match."
"We made a great team," Percy defended.
"A partnership in battle is hardly the same as being compatible enough for domestic life. I will tell you a story," Poseidon decided as he waves away Percy's foul expression. "About why Athena and the sea does not get along and perhaps never will."
"Before Athena and the other gods arrived, I was of course the strategist of Olympus. Unconventional plans and out-of-the-box solutions," he winked at Percy and both absently noted that Percy had inherited his eyes. Rhea's eyes. "My children still have a penchant for them."
"When Athena was born, she was born from Zeus' head, fully grown in battle-armor as I am sure you know." Percy nodded. "But she was in most ways, still a child. She intuitively understood battle strategies and how to make people bow down to her, but she was still emotionally a child."
He can sense Athena's ire at being called a child, but Poseidon disapprovingly notes how prideful it is for her to think so. He was already old before her father, Zeus had even been conceived.
"One day, when I came with Triton to Olympus-"
"Triton used to visit Olympus?!"
If anybody but his own had interrupted him, he would have taught them a firm lesson but he has always had a soft spot for his children, all of them, regardless of whether or not they were monstrous. And Percy was just a sweetheart. He reveled in talking to them like they really were that close.
"Of course, as my heir he used to visit Olympus with me. I am sure you could convince him to do so again." Only Triton's unrelenting adoration for his little brother could possibly make him want to go. He would go on Poseidon's orders too, but Poseidon is reluctant to force the issue when he already knows what will happen.
"Anyway, as Triton came to visit Olympus, Athena was quite taken by him. She thought he was smart and good at strategies-not as good as her, but alright enough. Even then, her pride was through the roof."
Athena got crankier, Poseidon could sense her ego get in the way. But of course she couldn't do anything, especially not right now. They didn't know that he knew they were eavesdropping.
There was strength in portraying a powerful image, powerful enough to make the enemies falter and yet there was wisdom in making them underestimate you. Poseidon had found the perfect blend. His enemies fled at the thought of his terrifying rage, as did his allies falter at the thought of it. But they usually thought of him as a harmless old god, not clever enough, not destructive enough. Too goofy, too calm, perhaps.
All his sons instinctively portrayed similar images.
Poseidon thought most gods had forgotten about his battle strategies and clever plans too, which suited him just fine.
Suddenly he realizes the perfect way to punish her for her crimes against him.
"She wouldn't leave him be, so Triton asked me to let her in so that he may train her with his own daughter, who was almost her age, I imagine. And I let her in as a favor to Olympus. I could sense she would be the strategist, you know."
Athena reels in shock, projecting so clearly he wants to chuckle. Silly goddess, did she think a visit to Atlantis was nothing? She was in his realm and he was one of the most ancient of gods to have been born. Did she really think he was nothing, that her arrival in his realm was anything short of him being benevolent?
"How did you know?"
"Before Apollo came along, I was chiefly responsible for prophecies. It was honestly a relief when Apollo came along. I never lost the gift though."
Percy tapped his fingers unsteadily.
"The past, present, future. It's all within the grasps of the changing seas." Poseidon pressed Percy.
"I see it too," he finally reluctantly admitted. "Annabeth says," he faltered. "she used to tell me that I had great reflexes. Good intuition."
"But it's not just about intuition. Intuition is just knowing beyond logic. She could never understand what it means to be a child of the seas. My brother," he bites back his smile as they perk up and instead disinterestedly rolls his eyes. "seems to believe I wish to be king of gods, but there is nothing like the sea in your grasp."
"It's the best feeling in the world," Percy gushes, smiling a little. "Even the price of being a hero is almost worth paying for the sake of it."
Poseidon nods easily. He could feel more and more gods watching. He didn't give a sign. Better for them to think he was absent-minded, scatter-brained and couldn't feel them. He could feed them almost anything and they would believe it. After all, he wouldn't lie to his favorite son.
"We drifted off topic again." Poseidon says, smiling to show he wasn't angry.
"My ADHD is almost as bad as yours," Percy agrees. They laugh.
"Yes, my son is an honorable god and as he had promised to take over her training, he trained her with his own daughter, Pallas."
There is realization starting to dawn on Percy's face. Poseidon can feel Athena's abrupt horror this is the cause of his anger? His brothers are sombre and he can feel most of Olympus peeking in. Poseidon lets his face slack in mourning, let his shoulders drop in resignation.
Even though it is a hard topic, Poseidon would not show such emotion if it did not serve him some gain.
"We warned them both never to practice out of our sights, but Athena was still humiliated about losing the previous battle. She challenged Pallas to a fight and goaded her until she agreed. Triton came in just as Athena cut her down."
"Pallas died," the statement is so neutral, so restless Poseidon isn't sure whether it's a question, a statement or something in mourning.
"Yes," Poseidon agreed. "She was too young. Her immortality was quite diluted as she had been born of a nymph and only if she had reached adulthood would she be safe. I could have forgiven Athena and her pride if she had only had the strength to apologize, to grieve, something."
"What did she say?"
"She blamed Pallas for sparring poorly." He can feel Athena cringe as he shoves her failures in her face, and for all of Olympus to see. Grief can make people do and say the strangest of things, but she never begged for their forgiveness and they had decided to never grant it to her.
"I never forgave her for my son's heart-break. Even today, he refuses to come to the surface again and has since never sired another child." He can feel them cringe at the blow that Triton must have been delivered, and their earnest anger at Athena's deceit.
She had been vocal about how his disapproval had been all about her being superior than him, but this was a tale of tragedy and Greeks loved a good tragedy. Next time, a lot of them on the fence would side with him against Athena. It did help that she was hardly popular.
"There is a point to this," Percy guessed.
Of course, but not one I can tell you yet. "It wasn't her mistake that I am still angry about, it is her pride. She believes herself to be superior, to be above emotion and yet tell me, how many times have you found her to be wrong?"
"Quite a few," Percy agreed. He can feel their collective shock. Good. "She always seems to be missing something."
"She is good at strategies, but I would hardly call her wise in most matters. She misses the most obvious things. She thinks the world works in logical, linear paths, that just because she is above emotion, all others shall be as well."
"Aphrodite," she zones into her conversation. "is the oldest of all gods. She was ancient before Kronos had even set his sights on Mother Rhea."
"Woah! That's ancient."
"Quite. She has seen our age and the one before that. And I have observed in the years that I have lived that love is something beyond logic too. There are times in battle that I have observed when love has changed the course of battle, when there is something in our hearts that tells us to take a path that goes beyond logic and yet leaves us at a better point."
"Annabeth would call that foolish."
"Athena does think of Aphrodite as foolish," he agrees, gleefully thinking of how Aphrodite gets angry. She is an old goddess and Athena is practically an infant in front of her. Aphrodite knows how to exact her revenge and in very painful and terrifying ways.
"She believes love is a waste of time."
"But you don't, right?"
"Of course not." Poseidon said, honestly. "Love is hard to explain, but Aphrodite was born of the seas and as such, she will always have my favor." He can feel Aphrodite's surprise at his declaration and honesty and her anger at Athena. He had swayed Aphrodite in his favor.
"Perhaps that is why she broke you up."
Percy snaps his head up so fast, Poseidon worries about whiplash. "She broke us up?"
"It was of course Annabeth's decision, but she definitely stacked the deck in her favor. Artemis warned you to never have children because they would be powerful enough to kill the mother in the womb. And Apollo warned you that any child you ever have would have a tragic life and short lifespan."
"Were they wrong?"
"No, of course they were right. Goddess of Child-birth and god of Prophecy, they know what they are talking about. But the timing of it all was certainly suspect. Annabeth met a charming intellect in her university across her hall through a series of highly fortunate events. Just when she was struggling to cope with the idea of never having children.
A normal intellect with whom she can have children. And her scent is hardly potent enough for monsters to still be sniffing around especially now that she is old enough. Of course you have the twins' favor, but Athena certainly manipulated them with the timing."
Apollo and Artemis are both raging mad. They don't let it flow into their domains, too curious about what he has to say to alert him unnecessarily. They don't understand the sea's connections.
Percy looks angry too. "She disowns her own daughter and lets her fall into Tartarus and the guy who loves her enough to walk with her isn't good enough. WHY?!"
"It's not about being good enough. It's about pride. How dare her daughter fall for her rival's son? She cared not for my grand-daughter and she seems to not care about her own child. I am afraid her children follow her in this path. Too logical, too cautious."
The part about her not caring is absolutely untrue, as much as Athena probably wishes otherwise. But she can hardly fault him for his opinion because it's not as if he knew they were listening. And really, her latest trickery had been too much. Against his only mortal champion? And that too a particularly favored one!
He did not approve of Annabeth, but he had let his own son set his path. It was his life and his decision. He had not interfered and yet she had thought little of it! Even now though, he would not go back and change the past. There were some things that could only be experienced and some mistakes that had to be made in every lifetime.
"You don't like Annabeth and yet you never interfered."
"I had more than enough chance to," Poseidon doesn't deny. "But I try not to judge a demigod by her parentage and well, you would not have understood then what you understand now. You had to make your own mistakes in your own time."
Percy fisted his right hand in a fit of emotion. "I swear to never fight for Athena or her wretched schemes ever again." Perhaps Percy doesn't realize his promise, but this promise is emotional, from the core of his heart and does not discourage from his chosen path. The Fates themselves would ensure his promise is carried out.
Poseidon nodded, "If that is what you wish for, I shall not let Athena extract her revenge."
"You think she would?"
"She has done so many many things in her misplaced ego and pride that you would not believe. Any slight insult against her she believes is a personal vendetta against her pride. As if the world is out to get her, as if everything were about her. You would not believe how many schemes she has run against her fellow gods and goddesses, and acted innocent against it all!" he ranted, unbelievably angered by her.
They liked to believe he was only mindless destruction when he was angry (which was true a little bit. The pole in front of them finally collapsed from the strain. It was hardly the worst he had done, not even something worth remarking on actually) but when he was truly angry, truly at his limit, that was when he was at his worst.
Nobody would believe her now. She was hardly popular before. People hated her. He had just given them a reason to be actually angry now.
His dark moods were calmed as Percy leaned against him, his head on Poseidon's shoulder. It was a sweet gesture and probably something nobody in the godly world had ever experienced. He could certainly sense their jealousy and awe and adoration.
"Thanks dad. You are the best dad in the world." Certainly a sentiment echoed by countless adoring little boys the world over, but certainly not something his brothers had ever heard. They were more confused than jealous, more cautious than angry.
The storm around them calmed, just a breeze they could enjoy. "She will regret this decision when she realizes that there could nobody better or more loving. And you will be grateful when you find someone loyal."
Percy hummed a little. He did not understand yet, but he would. Of course he would.
"Besides, Triton hasn't taken on a partner. Neither have Hermes and Apollo and they are certainly not lacking for it."
"Triton is such a cool big brother." A pause. "Don't tell him I said that!"
Poseidon smirked but promised nothing. Then as if just realizing something, he cocked his head to the side and abruptly looked up.
"We are being spied on," he said with a recalcitrant pout. "I think we should leave." They get up.
He thought about it then as if the idea had just occurred to him, "Come with me under the sea. Athena cannot harm you there."
"Won't Zeus smite me for it?" He can sense Zeus' surprise that his posturing is being taken seriously by a demigod he actually trusts and respects.
"Not if we are discussing important matters."
It's not that Poseidon intends to say it. He never wishes to manipulate his children, he adores them all. It just comes out. "Perhaps the coronation for a second prince?" And immediately wishes he had kept his mouth shut. And he was doing so well.
Percy surprisingly smirks. "I might just take you up on that."
"You shall have to accept immortality," he says numbly.
"Would that be a problem?"
"Only if you're joking and not actually serious about this. If you are serious, then it would make me the happiest father. You might be surprised by how heavy your own child's body can be." He shudders at the thought.
He has promised his wife that he would not take lovers for at least another century and not bear children for at least another 2. He might be willing to break a promise on the Styx. He would not break his wife's trust. He never has before.
Still, the thought of his one and only mortal son had drove him to restlessness. He had tried to calm his anxious paranoia. But even if Percy had lived up to a hundred, it would hardly be easier on Poseidon. And now…
"This is the happiest day of my life!" he informed Percy exuberantly when Percy did not retract his invitation. He clapped Percy and pulled him into a hug.
Zeus and Hades send him their congratulations. It really is a wonderful day!
The second they disappear and set foot in his palace, Percy leans in to whisper in his ear, "You really are a brilliant strategist, and you do know where to squeeze for it to hurt."
"You caught that?"
"You wasting your time with me to diss Athena? She might be prideful enough to think so but you hardly spend your time with me gossiping about her faults."
"True. The opportunity was just too good to pass up. But what you said, it was true, right?" He hates the fear that creeps into his tone but the thing he is really concerned about is Percy changing his mind on immortality. He could not bear that.
Percy smirks. "Just because I did it to pull her down doesn't make it less true. I was thinking about talking about it to you, but the chance was just too good to pass up right then."
Poseidon clapped his shoulder and calls out for a feast to be prepared. His family had just grown by one.