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In it and below it the markings of a hero

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You but arrive at the city to which you were destined, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are called by an irresistible call to depart.
You shall be treated to unironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you
What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting.
You shall not know the hold of those who spread their reached hands towards you.

----

Percy Jackson, the superhero to end all superheroes. Or so the headlines said. He’d taken the city by storm a year ago when the Tartarian armies had invaded. He’s reported to have exited his house rolling his eyes, and pulling on a sweatshirt. Whether these rumors are true is unconfirmed.

However, since then, he managed to single-handedly unmask the mastermind Ares Graceus, as well as harness the entirety of the Hudson river to decimate his forces.

Many other superheroes have been recorded as wishing Percy their best, and have moved on to greener pastures since the city is so well taken care of. Superman has been sighted in Tokyo, and Spiderman in Austin.

Despite this influx of responsibility and popularity, Percy had managed to keep his relationship with Annabeth Chase (and her connections with the leader of a nomadic crime syndicate known as the ‘Hunters’) under wraps. At least, he thought he had.

He was proven wrong when he opened his apartment door on his birthday to find a sight more gruesome than many crime scenes. On what was left of the coffee table, a note was penned:

We have the girl. Meet me on the roof of the Empire State Building. Tick tock. Tick Tock.

Percy Jackson managed to make it to the impromptu appointment in three minutes flat. He alighted upon the roof with the silence of a cat. The man waiting heard him anyway.

The villain in question wore a three-piece black suit embroidered with clocks. When he turned, they seemed to tick just slightly. His eyes were a bold golden color, and a scar ran through his eye down his cheek.

“Ah, Percy Jackson. I’m pleased you made it. Very pleased, indeed.”

“Time Lord.” The name came out like a snarl.

“I prefer Lord of Time, or sometimes Kronos, but I am honored you remembered me. You seem to forget people's names fairly often.”

Kronos moved casually across the roof, away from the sorry excuse for a greenhouse that had been planted as a community project and subsequently abandoned, and towards a rusted metal door.

Percy inclined his head. “They’re forgettable.”

Kronos reached the door, and opened it, revealing a bound, gagged, and struggling Annabeth Chase flanked by two burly men. He let her be shoved forward, and took a wicked looking scythe from two goons still in the stairwell.

Kronos’s movements were almost too fast to follow, but suddenly the weapon was across Annabeth’s throat, hooking her head upwards, and looking almost like a noose the way it curved around her.

“I think you’ll find that I’m not.”

The bay that could be seen just on the horizon began to churn, and the irrigation system of the dilapidated greenhouse burst. It’s water snaked towards Percy like wires to a motherboard.

Kronos clucked his tongue, and tugged his scythe backwards, pulling Annabeth closer. “Don’t try anything or you’ll have plenty of liquid to work with.”

A trickle of blood ran down Annabeth’s neck and stained her orange shirt.

The water kept amassing around Percy, but it did nothing but swirl at his feet, latent.

“Good,” Kronos purred. “Now here’s the deal. I’ve planted bombs in every apartment building in Manhattan. They set off in exactly an hour, unless disabled by my order.”

Percy’s eyes narrowed. “What do you want?”

“Oh, I don’t want anything. This is a game, you see, perfectly outfitted to hurt you. Painfully. You get to choose. Her life? Or the lives of your precious city-dwellers. Tick. Tock. Tick. To-”

Percy interrupted him. “Annabeth.”

Kronos blinked. “What?”

“Give me Annabeth.”

Kronos smirked. “Why don’t I… raise the stakes?” A building behind Percy exploded. The sound reverberated through the metal roof. The superhero flinched, but did not waver.

“Give me Annabeth.”

There was a moment of silence. The water Percy was drawing near now reached his neck.

Then the Lord of Time laughed. It was not your stereotypical maniacal laugh. They were giggles. He lowered his double-edged weapon to clutch his knees in mirth. “This is good. This is too good.” His laughter abruptly cut off, and he straightened, expression humorless. “Take the girl.”

He pushed Annabeth forward, and Percy caught her. He held onto her as if she was his only anchor in the world, the only thing keeping him afloat. The water encased them, working Annabeth’s bonds undone. She did not drown.

“But know that when the world burns you’ll have only yourself to blame.”

Percy ignored him, kissing Annabeth, and lifting them in a ball of water. It began to twist inwards, and when it finally slowed to a standstill, the water sloshing onto the roof of the building, the two of them were gone.

The bombs went off an hour later.

The synchronized and efficient destruction of a large portion of America's largest city remained a mystery, one that cost thousands of lives. It remained a mystery, that is, until someone anonymously uploaded a video of a particular rooftop encounter. One that blurred the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.

No one saw Percy Jackson again. He and Annabeth disappeared off the map, like they’d never been there in the first place. The FBI sent out countless searches for him. They always came back empty-handed, or didn’t come back at all.

But if you’d managed to find him, perhaps in the rumored city of Atlantis, perhaps not on Earth at all, if you’d managed to find him and ask him a question, he’d tell you this:

“I’d do it again. For her, I’d do it again and again.”