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Percy Jackson, The Avenger

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This week had been a long one for Fury and it wasn’t showing any signs of stopping. Even the week after the incident in Budapest hadn’t been this tiring. Just within the span of a few days, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was dealing with unmovable hammers falling into deserts, General Ross pestering him about the manhunt for scientist-turned-fugitive Bruce Banner, and dealing with Tony Stark who was just being… Tony.

 

And then he got the call about the horse.

 

“You’re telling me that you saw a horse flying around the base?”

 

“Yessir,” the agent said on the other side of the phone. “At first we thought it was some type of missile, but it moved too fast. Once I figured out what it was, I ordered for it to be tranquilized and brought to the labs.”

 

Fury pushed aside the paperwork he had been working on and picked up a file that he had been the topic of many debates with the World Council Recently. Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. He knew a flying horse was called a Pegasus from Greek mythology. Was this some kind of sign for them to go ahead with the project? A warning to stop?

 

“Give me the lab number.”

 

Fury knew that whatever this was, it was just the beginning.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy silently cursed Blackjack down to Tartarus and back. He’d had a demigod dream of the pegasus getting captured, prompting the demigod to go and rescue him in the middle of finals week. Not that he wasn’t glad for the excuse to get away from the mind-numbing hours of sitting around and studying, testing, and eating too many snacks and not enough meals, but this wasn’t the break he was looking for.

 

He was outside a huge, government-looking facility. The building was big, with a guard monitoring the gate that allowed people in and out. It had been hard to find. The place was in the middle of nowhere, with only a single road leading up to it. Surrounded by a forest and hills on all sides, the only way in or out undetected was through the sky.

 

Schist.

 

He wished desperately that Annabeth was with him to help him come up with a clever plan to get in, but she was too busy taking tests this week for her to accompany him. And now Percy was glad that she didn’t come. On the high chance that something went wrong, she wouldn’t get dragged down too.

 

Percy fiddled with the pen in his pocket. Several ideas were racing through his head. He could always crawl through the vents, spy style. Or come up with some kind of lie that would get him into the building.

 

The son of Poseidon wished he could shadow-travel like Nico, or that he could have Mrs. O’Leary jump him in there, but Percy figured that having a hellhound larger than a tank appearing out of nowhere might cause some trouble, even if the mist made her look like—

 

A new idea hit Percy like one of Tyson’s hugs.

 

There were several things that were missing, like what he would do once he got in, if he got in, but it was the best plan he had and would manage to come up with. Now all he needed was a car.

 

\~*~/

 

Fury thought he had seen everything. He should've known better, working in this line of work, that even when you thought you've seen everything, there was something new lurking around the corner.

 

Including a horse with wings.

 

The pegasus seemed relatively unharmed. One of its wings was folded over its stomach, which rose and fell steadily. The other was spread out behind it, showing its massive wingspan.

 

Fury stood behind a glass panel staring at the sedated equestrian while scientists ran around, prepping blood tests and taking DNA samples. He motioned over the head scientist.

 

"Give me a full report."

 

"Well we, uh, we, um..." She fumbled over her words.

 

"Get to it."

 

"We don't know. All tests so far have been inconclusive. No one knows what it is. It isn't a horse or bird—the DNA doesn't match. It's its own breed."

 

"It's a pegasus." Fury told her.

 

"Well, yes. But pegasus' are from Greek mythology." She started explaining. "They're the children of Poseidon. Or at least that's what legend says. But pegasus don't exist, so it has to be the result of an experimentation, but nothing is adding up." 

 

Fury watched the pegasus. "So you mean that no one can tell me anything about it?"

 

She nodded. "But we're working hard on it." She amended. "We'll have results by the end of the day."

 

"I want them in an hour."

 

He gave one last look to the pegasus before leaving the lab, not seeing the stressed face of the scientist.

 

\~*~/

 

If anyone were to ask Percy, the official story was that he got in, got Blackjack, and got out without a hitch.

 

He wished it had happened like that.

 

Things started off smooth. He'd gotten the car and driven his way up to the road, wondering the entire time if his idea would work or he’d get hauled away. There was only one way to find out.

 

He approached the gate, rolling his window down. Percy tried to look confident. The guard eyed him warily. “How can I help you?”

 

Percy had never really used the Mist before, but he figured he could wing it. He looked the man in the eyes, focused really hard (he hoped he didn’t look like he was about to fart), and snapped his fingers—making a loud, clear snap. Mustering his most confident voice, he told the guard, “I forgot my key card. You will let me in and not tell anyone about me.”

 

There was a tense second where Percy was sure that the man was about to haul him away, but then a calm expression settled over his face and he pressed a button. A second later, the gate rolled open. He contained his jump of joy and instead nodded at the guard and drove off.

 

Percy felt a little bit of relief. Using the mist had been a bit of a wild card, the last time having used it, it didn’t work. But that was just the first part, he reminded himself as he saw people dressed in suits and business outfits. He felt underdressed in his Camp Half-Blood shirt and jeans.

 

It was after he snuck in through the maintenance door that things started getting rough. The building looked bigger on the inside than it had on the outside. Before him laid a maze of halls, designed to trap anyone who didn’t know their way around (maybe not literally but either way it felt like an attack on Percy). Somewhere inside the mortal version of the Labyrinth was Blackjack, alone, probably scared, and most likely wanting a donut.

 

And Percy had to find him.

 

\~*~/

 

It wasn’t too long after Percy had set off in the building that Fury became aware of the intruder. Video feeds showed a young man manipulating the guard at the front gate to let him pass. After talking to the guard who had no memory of the incident, Fury ordered for the man to be brought to him.

 

Percy couldn’t tell something was off. He was wondering the halls, searching for Lab 28 where he had figured out a knocked-out Blackjack had been brought to. It made him furious to think that his pegasus was being used as some sort of lab rat.

 

He was in the right area, if the BLA sign had been any indication (and that’s all science sounded like to him anyway—bla, bla, bla).

 

I can’t believe they gave me this horse crap. A faint voice entered Percy’s head. I need sugar cubes at the least.

 

Blackjack? Percy tried reaching out. Blackjack? Can you hear me?

 

Boss?

 

Definitely Blackjack.

 

Blackjack, thank the gods. Stay put, I’m coming to get you.

 

Thanks boss. I couldn’t’ve moved anyway. They have me tied to a table. They also gave me this stupid hay that horses eat. Can you believe that?

 

Percy followed Blackjack’s voice as a homing beacon. It got steadily louder and louder.

 

Blackjack, you look like a horse. You are part horse.

 

You wouldn’t happen to have donuts with you, would you?

 

The son of Poseidon opened a door. Blackjack looked over at him, kneeling on the floor.

 

No donuts, I see.

 

“This is a rescue mission,” Percy told him as he moved to free the pegasus from his restraints. “Why would I bring donuts?”

 

Percy got the first latch undone and started working on the second one.

 

Maybe we can get some later then.

 

“Sure. Later. After we get out of here. I almost got you. Just another minute and—”

 

Behind you!

 

Blackjack had shouted the words too late. Something hit his back, causing a burning sensation to flow through him. He fell to the floor with a thud and was unable to move. Percy could see Blackjack struggling to get his attacker, but he couldn’t hear him or anything else. His own heartbeat was too loud. The last thing he saw was a pair of boots stepping in front of him before his head fell to the floor and the world faded to black.

 

He couldn’t tell how long he had been out, but judging from his stiff shoulders and the small ache in his neck, it had probably been a good while. Percy tried to make himself as comfortable as possible. His hands had been cuffed to the table, which didn’t surprise Percy, but the addition of gloves did.

 

It wasn’t much longer before the door opened and a man walked in and hold up. The first thing Percy noticed was the spy/pirate-ish look—a black trench coat, don’t-mess-with-me attitude, and, as the final touch, an eye patch. Percy hoped that the man knew Halloween was over.

 

Mr. Jackson,” the man said in a way that made him hate the name almost as much as when monsters called him Perseus. “I must say, it was a surprise when I was alerted that someone had broken into a facility more secure than the White House.”

 

Percy swallowed uncomfortably. “You might want to update your security.”

 

“We will. This time we’ll take into account mind control.” The demigod frowned in confusion. He couldn’t mind control people… the mist. Looking down at his gloves, he realized that these people thought that he could manipulate people. “But I’m not here to talk about that.” The pirate-man continued. “What I want to know is how you knew about this.”

 

He slid a photo of Blackjack across the table. Percy couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen to his pegasus now that his only shot at rescue now needed rescuing himself. “Why should I tell you anything?” Percy eventually told the man.

 

“I’ve had a long week, and the sooner you’re gone, the sooner I can get back to other, bigger problems.” The man explained. Percy was surprised that the man was going to let him go, and suddenly thought that this might be a trap. But the chance that this man would actually let him free seemed like a better deal than he would get otherwise.

 

“I had a dream,” Percy said lowly. “That may sound strange but I swear to Hades its true. I saw—”

 

“I’m gonna stop you right there,” Pirate-man held up his hand to stop him. “Did you just swear to Hades?

 

Percy froze, realizing that he had messed up. “Well, uh, you see, it’s—” he started back-pedaling but the man wasn’t buying any of it.

 

“The Greek Gods are real? Hades, Aphrodite, all of it?”

 

Percy wondered if he could get away with saying no before remembering that the man could probably give him some truth serum if they had any and he’d be forced to tell him. His shoulders slumped. “Yeah,” he mumbled. “Yeah, they’re real. That’s a pegasus—” he pointed to the picture of Blackjack. “and he’s kinda mine so when I had the dream of you guys capturing him I had to come rescue him.”

 

The man stared at Percy, trying to determine if he was really telling the truth or not. Percy started to grow uncomfortable when the man dropped his gaze and rubbed his head, like soothing a headache. “If the Greek gods are real,” he started asking, “why haven’t we seen any proof of them?”

 

“The mist,” Percy answered. “It’s a mystical force that stops mortals from seeing our world. I used the mist to get past the guard at the front gate. Some can see past it, like my mom. It’s how she met my dad.”

 

“And your dad is…”

 

“Poseidon.”

 

The man was taking this all exceptionally well, Percy thought. A sudden thought struck Percy. “Hey, uh, this doesn’t change our little agreement, right? About you letting me go?” When the man didn’t respond right away, Percy’s fear grew. “Please, I gotta get back so I can take finals tomorrow, and if I don’t my girlfriend’s gonna kill me and nothing, not even you, could stop her.”

 

Pirate-dude held up his hand. “I’ll let you go, don’t worry.” Percy’s shoulder’s sagged in relief. “On one condition.”

 

And there’s the catch. There’s always a catch.

 

“I’m assuming you can fight,” When Percy nodded, he continued. “If ever needed, I want you to come fight for us.”

 

Percy paused. “Who’s ‘us’?”

 

“S.H.I.E.L.D.”

 

The son of Poseidon considered the offer. On one hand, he really didn’t want to fight anymore. He’d seen and done enough fighting to last him a lifetime. The thought of fighting for this government agency or whatever they were didn’t sit too well with him.

 

But saying no didn’t sit well either. Saying no meant he wouldn’t get to leave, and Blackjack would be stuck here. He couldn’t fail his family, who were so excited for him to finally be at college. Percy couldn’t fail Annabeth, who was waiting back in New Rome for him.

 

“Okay.” He said a beat later. Percy wasn’t sure if he was ever going to regret that, but right now, he knew it was his only choice.

 

The man nodded. “Now that that’s settled,” he reached over the table and unlocked Percy’s handcuffs. Percy rubbed his wrists a little and took off the gloves. “I’ll have someone take you to your, pegasus.”

 

“Aye aye.” Percy mocked saluted the man whose glare seemed to grow. “Oh, I’m sorry, that was insensitive of me. Aye.”

 

“Let’s hope you never meet Stark.”

 

“Who?”

 

The man ignored him and led him out of the room. A woman was waiting, tapping away on a pad. She looked up when they walked out, eyeing Percy. Percy gave a small wave. She tilted her head a little before addressing the man. “Director Fury, your plane is waiting.”

 

Pirate-man, or Fury, nodded. He started walking away, leaving Percy with the woman. “Wait,” Percy called. Fury paused and turned around. “You wouldn’t happen to have donuts, would you?”

 

\~*~/

 

When Percy arrived back in New Rome, the sun had started setting. Blackjack took his time, moaning about how awful his day there had been. The woman, whose name Percy didn’t get had led him to Blackjack who was happy to see him (especially with a box of donuts in his hand). Before they left, Percy had asked the woman if they needed his contact info. All she had said was “We’ll find you” and left.

 

Blackjack dropped Percy off on the street in front of his apartment. “Stay safe buddy,” Percy told him. “Don’t get caught by any more secret government agencies.”

 

I wasn’t plannin’ on it boss.

 

Percy smiled. “Alright. Now go get some rest,” Blackjack gave the demigod one last farewell before taking off towards the stables. Percy waited until Blackjack had flown out of sight behind the buildings before heading inside.

 

Annabeth was waiting on the couch. She had notes spread out all over the coffee table and on the cushions next to her. Percy remembered that she had her final test tomorrow, and it was her one for her major Architecture.

 

She looked up when Percy entered. A smile spread across her face as she rose to greet him. “How’d it go?” She asked, giving him a small peck on the cheek.

 

“Without a hitch,” Percy lied. “Blackjack’s fine, he’s off to the stables right now to rest.”

 

“Wonderful.” Annabeth’s smile made Percy feel guilty for lying to her, but he told himself that she didn’t need to be concerned for him. If S.H.I.E.L.D. ever decided that they needed him, then he’d cross that bridge when it came time. But for now, as far as Annabeth would know, everything was fine. “Come on, I know you might be tired but you have your final tomorrow and I want to test you.”

 

Percy let her lead him to the couch while she quizzed him on Marine Biology. Soon, the thought of S.H.I.E.L.D. left his head as he started worrying about his final tomorrow and reassuring Annabeth that she would do fine and that she didn’t need to be worried.

 

On the other side of California, Nick Fury was looking up research on Greek Mythology. He looked down at the two files that sat next to him. One was Percy Jackson’s file, filled with every school he had attended, who his friends were, even if he had a dental plan.

 

Next to Percy’s file sat another, thicker file. This one had the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo stamped across the front.

 

And underneath it were the words AVENGERS INITIATIVE.

Chapter Text

1 Year Later

 

Percy was settled on the floor, leaning back against the couch. Annabeth sat above him running her fingers through his hair while his two-year-old sister, Estelle, sat between his legs as they watched The Little Mermaid.

 

“I can’t believe I’m just now realizing this,” Percy said as the movie ended. “but if Ariel is the daughter of Triton… and Triton’s my brother…”

 

“It makes you Ariel’s Uncle,” Annabeth concluded, following Percy’s train of thought.

 

Estelle giggled. “Percy mermaid!”

 

Percy ruffled her hair affectionately. “I’m not a mermaid. I’m just related to mermaids.”

 

“Don’t let them hear you calling them mermaids,” Annabeth told him.

 

“I wasn’t planning on it. Last thing I need is my brother showing up here or in New Rome. We’ve had three years of peace and I don’t plan on breaking that streak anytime soon.”

 

Sally poked her head in the living room. “Everything going okay?”

 

“Just finished the Little Mermaid.”

 

“I see fish.” Estelle clapped her hands together.

 

“Saw,” Sally gently corrected. “I saw fish.”

 

“I see fish.”

 

“It’s a pointless battle, Mom.” Percy picked Estelle up and settled her on his hip, gently bounding her. “Wanna join us for a round of Go Fish? We were just about to play.”

 

Sally frowned. “Actually, I have to run out for a while. And Paul’s still with his friends. Could you watch Estelle for a little while? Maybe take her to the aquarium.”

 

“The aquarium?” Percy looked affronted.

 

Annabeth was to quick soothe him. “It’s not like Phorcys. That was cruel, but at an aquarium, fish don’t have to worry about finding food, shelter, or predators. They’re taken care of.” Percy looked skeptical but nodded.

 

“Thanks guys.” Sally thanked them before grabbing her purse and rushing out.

 

Estelle grabbed Percy’s hair, yanking hard. Percy gently detangled his hair from his baby sister’s grip. “You wanna go to an aquarium?” He asked, inadvertently taking on a baby voice. Estelle nodded eagerly. Percy sighed, clearly having been hoping for a different. “Seems I’m out-numbered. Shall we?” He held out his hand to Annabeth.

 

She took it with a smile. “We shall.”

 

\~*~/

 

It was a lovely day out. The aquarium wasn’t too crowded as Percy pulled the wagon behind him. Estelle liked the wagon a lot better than she ever did the stroller, mostly because of the noises Percy would sometimes make as he ran with the wagon. Annabeth walked beside the wagon, pointing to all the fish, and making sure Estelle didn’t fall out of the wagon while it was moving.

 

As soon as they had entered the building, thousands of voices filled Percy’s head. Son of Sea God. Son of Sea God. When they walked by tanks, the fish gravitated towards him. Annabeth found it funny to watch the fish crowding one another to see Percy.

 

The aquarium, Percy decided, wasn’t too bad. He soon found himself pointing out the different fishes to Estelle. “That’s a Moorish Idol,” Percy told them as they passed a particular tank filled with colorful fish. “They’re omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.” He pointed at another fish. “That’s a black-tailed humbug. They’re more aggressive than other fish, but they’re usually only three to four inches big.” Percy turned back to Annabeth who was staring at him. “What?”

 

“You just became a walking fish encyclopedia.” Annabeth pointed out. “Honestly, you have a collection of some of the best and weirdest powers ever.”

 

He chuckled. “I guess. Having my own hurricane? That’s cool. Knowing every fishes’ mating season, not so much.” Percy turned back to Estelle who was standing up. She had her hands pressed against the glass, eyes wide as she watched all the different fish swim by her.

 

Percy smiled. He turned to the nearest fish.

 

What’s your name? He asked a Cherub Angelfish, a little blue fish swimming around the coral implants.

 

My name is Phil, my lord.

 

Well Phil, do you think you could do me a favor?

 

Phil swam in a circle excitedly. Of course, my lord. I would be honored.

 

Do you think you could swim in front of my baby sister? It would mean a lot to me if you did.

 

If that is what you desire, my lord, then I shall do it.

 

Estelle giggled ecstatically when Phil swam in front of her. “Look Percy, pretty fish!”

 

“I see. Every fish needs a name. What do you think, should we name him?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“How’s… Phil?”

 

“Hi Phil.” Estelle waved at Phil and Percy saw Phil wave back at her. She continued to talk to Phil, blabbing about random things.

 

Annabeth sidled up next to him. “That was sweet of you.” She whispered.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Of course.” Annabeth’s eyes twinkled, and Percy was reminded just how lucky he was to have her. Looking around, he saw a tank filled with seahorses on the other side. Hey.

 

Hello, lord, came about a dozen different voices.

 

So I’m here with my girlfriend and—

 

Son of Sea God has a girlfriend?

 

Uh, yes. Do you think—

 

Is she the tall blonde?

 

She’s cute.

 

Think about their babies—

 

With his eyes and her hair—

 

No, his hair and her eyes.

 

Are you crazy?

 

Percy couldn’t stop the blush creeping up on his neck as the seahorses started arguing about how his and Annabeth’s children would look and oh gods Annabeth’s looking at me now.

 

“What’s going on Seaweed Brain?” she asked. “You’re blushing like crazy. You okay?”

 

“I, uh, well, um…” Percy stuttered, not able to say a word because now the seahorses had moved onto the topic of how many kids they would have and the names of each, with the number so far at a total of twenty.

 

“That’s too many kids,” Percy whispered in horror.

 

Annabeth frowned. She followed his gaze, looking for a large group for kids that may have entered but found nothing. “What kids? Percy?”

 

Percy shook his head, his cheeks still very pink. “It’s, it’s nothing.” He waved her off. The dark-haired demigod turned back to the seahorses. Guys, really quick, do you think you could form a big heart?

 

Are you trying two trying to get it on?

 

No, I’m not trying to—

 

Hey guys, we gotta make a heart so our lord and his girlfriend can have the babies.

 

Wait a sec—

 

It was a lost cause. The seahorses were already excited and had formed a big heart, linking together. People walking by pointed and started taking out their phones to take photos. Percy gently took Annabeth’s hand and pointed at the tank.

 

Annabeth’s smile was big. Percy gave her a kiss, ignoring the loud chattering of the seahorses as they cheered him on. “Love you, Wise Girl.”

 

“I love you too, even if you are a Seaweed Brain.”

 

They kissed again. This time, they were interrupted by Estelle as she grabbed Percy’s hand and started leading him towards the seahorses. Percy let Estelle lead him towards the tank. Annabeth watched Percy point out different seahorses, saying something that made Estelle giggle.

 

The scene made her heart warm. Ever since she was seven, she had longed for a family. She thought she had found one with Luke, but that had gone south. With Percy, however, she finally felt that sense of peace that had been missing for so long, she almost didn’t recognize the feeling.

 

“Thank you,” she told Percy when he walked back over. His brows scrunched up.

 

“What for?”

 

“For just being you.”

 

Percy smiled. “Come on, let’s go check out the sea lion performance.

 

\~*~/

 

The rest of the day went by quick. They saw the sea lions perform, went to the touch pool, and got ice cream before leaving. It was only five-thirty when they left the aquarium so Annabeth decided they should go out to eat dinner.

 

They skipped past the seafood restaurants that Percy hated and continued on until they reached a small diner. It took them two and a half hours to order, eat, and pay the bill, and by the time they walked back out, the sun had started setting. The trio made their way back to Sally and Paul’s apartment.

 

Walking down the hall, Percy felt like nothing could ruin the moment.

 

“Mom, we’re home,” Percy called out as they entered the apartment. Annabeth started unpacking the wagon while Percy took the sleeping Estelle into his arms. He entered the living room, expecting to see his mom and Paul watching TV together on the couch.

 

Instead, Percy found his mom serving cookies to a man he’s never seen before. Percy didn’t know suits well enough, but he figured that it was expensive. It fit the man well, not like the baggy ones that he and his friends had worn to school dances.

 

His mom turned to him, her face tense. “Percy, this man says he’s here to see you. Says he from…”

 

“Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.” The man said quickly. He stood up and held out his hand for Percy to shake. “But we call it S.H.I.E.L.D. for short.”

 

Percy froze. He had forgotten all about the incident that had happened a year ago. The demigod couldn’t believe how rotten his luck was. He could recall the terms for his freedom, and he specifically remembered promising Pirate-man he’d fight for him if ever needed. The odds, he thought, would’ve been small, not Olympian throne room sized.

 

Sally noticed the look on her son’s face and stepped forward. “I’m sorry sir but I think you’re going to have to leave.”

 

Coulson dropped his hand, and looked over at Sally, noticing her protective stance. He held his hands up in surrender, backing away from Percy. “I meant no harm, Mrs. Blofis.”

 

“Mom,” Percy spoke up. An awkward tension still hung in the air. “It’s fine.” It’s not. He handed Estelle to his mom, who squirmed a little before falling back asleep. “Here, we wore her out for you. Ask Annabeth for the bag from the gift shop, there should be a stuffed animal in there that we bought for her.”

 

Sally hesitated, staring at Percy for another moment, wanting an explanation but not pressing for one at the moment. She gave the man a quick glance before exiting the room. The man lowered his arms. “Sorry to bother you like this, but we need your help.” The man held out his hand for a second time. “Agent Coulson.”

 

“Percy Jackson—” Percy shook the man’s hand. “—but I’m sure you already knew that. Your group seems like the ‘stalker’ type. Except less Facebook and more personal.” He dropped the other man's hand and heaved out a sigh. “So Pirate guy has a fight?”

 

If Coulson was amused by Percy’s nickname for the serious director, he didn’t let it show. “This isn’t just a matter of national security,” he said casually like it was something he experienced every day, and coming from his line of work, it easily could’ve been. “The stake of the whole world, and possibly more, is on the line right now.”

 

“Am I doing this by myself or…”

 

“You’ll be part of a team. You specifically will be out there in the fighting.” Coulson handed him a small packet. Percy was surprised to find it in Greek. He quickly flipped through a couple of pages, seeing lots of words and not enough pictures. The pictures he did see varied—one featured a man-shaped suit of red and gold armor; another featured a huge green monster.

 

“Please don’t tell me I’ll have to wear a suit.” Percy pointed to a picture of a man wearing a tight red, white and blue suit with a shield. “I’m just saying this now, I don’t do the whole spandex thing.”

 

This time, Percy got a smile out of Coulson. “Duly noted.” The agent’s phone beeped. “Hang on a sec,” he pulled the phone out answered. “You get him? I’m on my way now, just finishing up with… okay.” He pulled the phone away.

 

“You have somewhere else you need to be?” Percy asked, gesturing to the phone.

 

Coulson nodded. “It was nice meeting you. And tell your mother I said thank you for the cookies, however… blue they were.” The man was gone a second later. As soon as the apartment door closed, Annabeth and Sally peaked their heads out of Estelle’s nursery.

 

“Care to explain what that was?” Annabeth asked.

 

Percy swallowed, turning to his confused girlfriend and mom. “Surprise.” He said weakly.

Chapter Text

“So not only did you think it was a good idea to idea to promise to fight for a secret organization, even though they had just threatened to keep you locked up if you didn’t agree to their terms, but you hid it from me? For a year?”

 

“Well when you put it like that…”

 

Percy had told the entire story to his mom and Annabeth, with his mom interrupting and asking questions. After finishing, Sally gave him a hug and told him that she understood that saving the world came first before leaving to intercept Paul who had walked back in, leading him into the kitchen. That left a very nervous Percy and an angered Annabeth in the living room.

 

It was only after Percy’s mom had left did Annabeth start chewing him out. He hated being yelled at by his girlfriend, but her anger was justified. Percy tried to hold his ground under Annabeth’s piercing glare, but eventually, he folded.

 

“’When I put it like that’,” she repeated, not fully believing her boyfriend. “How were you putting it then? Where you putting it as the thing you didn’t want to tell Annabeth about because it’s not like she wouldn’t help.”

 

“It wasn’t like that—” Percy tried to tell her but Annabeth was nowhere near done.

 

“Percy, something like this isn’t something you should keep to yourself.”

 

“I know that, but—”

 

“But what?” Annabeth had her arms crossed. “What reason did you have that you couldn’t tell me about this.”

 

The son of Poseidon looked down at the ground, scuffing his shoe against the floor. “You were happy.”

 

Annabeth paused, mouth mid-open. She closed it, before asking, “What?”

 

Percy looked up at her. “You were happy. Simple as that. Back at college, in New Rome, you’re happy. You love it there, and it’s because you don’t worry about fighting anymore. And after everything we’ve been through—Titan war, Gaea, Tartarus—you deserve a little peace and happiness.” Percy grabbed her hands, gently holding them. “And before you even ask, you’re not coming.”

 

Annabeth let out a noise of protest. “Percy, you can’t decide that for me.”

 

“Wise girl, please.” Percy pulled out his baby seal eyes. “This isn’t a request. I don’t know what I’m up against here, but I would feel better knowing that you’re here with my mom and Paul. Help watch over Estelle.”

 

“Percy,” Annabeth spoke up. “You can’t expect me to sit here while you're out there doing gods knows what.” She pulled her hands from Percy’s and crossed her arms. “I’m coming.”

 

“No,” Percy said with a tone of finality. He could see Annabeth wasn’t going to let this go any time soon, and would eventually worm her way into coming if this continued on. “Another reason I didn’t tell you about S.H.I.E.L.D. was because I knew you’d want to get involved some way. I don’t know a lot about these people, but I know they’re just not the type to let anyone walk away. Just look at me, I owe them a favor and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that this isn’t going to end here.”

 

The dark-haired demigod watched the gears turn in his girlfriend’s brain, analyzing the situation before them. She huffed, pushing her curly blonde hair behind her ear. “You know, sometimes I’m surprised you managed to graduate kindergarten.”

 

“I have an associate’s degree if you want to see.”

 

Annabeth didn’t smile, just wrapped Percy in a big hug. “I don’t like this,” she whispered.

 

“I didn’t expect you too.”

 

“I can’t believe you’re actually going.”

 

Percy’s arms tightened, drawing her in closer. “I have no choice.”

 

“This has to be one of your worst ideas. And there’s a lot to pick,” she teased.

 

The son of Poseidon smiled, starting with a small grin before chuckling. “Yeah, I guess I deserve that.” He watched as Annabeth’s eyes drifted towards the packet on the table.

 

“I wonder what can make a government agency so scared that they feel the need to contact you.” Annabeth mused. She looked back up at Percy, like he might know the answer.

 

“Whatever it is, it’s nothing good.”

 

\~*~/

 

The next morning, Percy felt the dread in his stomach build. He had packed the night before, thinking he’d need to leave right away, but to his surprise found, after flicking through the packet, that the meeting time was 10 the next morning.

 

Percy had a duffel bag packed with all the essentials; clothes, armor, toiletries, and duct tape. He didn’t have to check to know that Riptide was in his pocket. His hand slipped into his pocket and started to fiddle with the pen, the familiar gesture calming him down some. He glanced over at Annabeth while his mom went over the list one last time.

 

“You have extra clothes?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Drachmas to IM us?”

 

“In my wallet.”

 

“Deodorant?”

 

“Mom,” Percy stopped her from continuing. “I’m good. It’ll only be a day. Hopefully.” Sally didn’t look impressed. “I’ll be back as soon as I can, promise.” Percy gave his mom a hug, who embraced it.

 

“Please be careful,” she asked him. Sally let go of him, getting one good last look at his face before letting Paul say goodbye.

 

“Hey, Paul, take care.” Percy told him, giving him a hug. Paul gave him a pat on the back, before letting go.

 

“I should be saying that to you. Come back,” Paul said before leaving him and Annabeth to say their goodbyes.

 

The air was tense, the two still reeling from their little argument. “I want regular updates,” Annabeth ordered. “And don’t do anything stupid. I prefer my boyfriend to be alive.”

 

Percy nodded. “Got it,” He paused for a second, wondering if he could kiss her goodbye. Taking a step, he gave her a quick kiss, pulling away before Annabeth could fully realize what was happening. “Love you,” he told her. “And I’m sorry.”

 

“I know,” Annabeth said. “Come back soon.”

 

Percy looked at his family, minus Estelle who was still sleeping this early in the morning. With a final wave, he picked up his duffel bag and head for the door.

 

As soon as the door closed behind him, his shoulders slumped. He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night. There had been too much tossing and turning and worries plaguing his mind to get any sleep. A couple seconds passed before Percy took a deep breath and pushed himself off the wall. He headed towards the elevator, where he would take a taxi over to Montauk.

 

Then he would swim to the strange coordinates that led to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy’s waterproof watch showed that the time was 10:06 by the time he arrived at the coordinates. His head poked above the water, having already seen the hulking ship from under the water. It was just as impressive above.

 

Huge propellers, four of them, sat in the water unmoving. Percy thought it was a little strange how, above water, there was almost nothing until he noticed a plane land. He realized that it was a runway as he saw other planes up there.

 

The demigod also noticed people running around. Figuring that this was his destination, he propelled himself forward with the water currents. The water carried him clear to the ship. At the edge, Percy willed the water to lift him up and plop him on the deck.

 

Not many people took notice of the twenty-year-old as he looked around. The only person who looked at him was a red-headed woman, who didn’t seem all that surprised to see the man appear from the water. Or if she did, she hid it well.

 

The woman strolled over to where Percy was watching the crew run around, preparing the ship for takeoff. Standing behind him, she spooked the demigod when she spoke. “You’re late.”

 

Percy spun around, one hand going for his pocket before realizing that there was no threat. The woman raised her eyebrow. Percy felt as he was on display as the woman briefly scanned him. Remembering what the woman had said, the demigod gave a sheepish smile. “Yeah, sorry about that. I didn’t want to come.”

 

The woman said nothing, instead turning around and walking away. “Follow me,” she called behind. Percy picked up his duffel bag and headed after her. “I’m going to introduce you to the rest of the team.”

 

They walked toward a plane that had just landed. The ramp was lowering. Two men walked out, the first one Percy recognized as the same agent who had shown up at his house, Agent Coulson. The second man looked familiar, but Percy couldn’t place it. He looked like he the perfect American Idol—neat blond hair, button-down shirt, and leather jacket.

 

“Ah, Percy,” Agent Coulson greeted. “This is Agent Romanoff,” he gestured to the red-headed woman. “And this is Captain Rogers.”

 

“Hi,” Percy gave a small wave to the newly introduced people. The Captain gave a wave back, looking from him to Coulson confusedly. Agent Romanoff ignored Percy’s wave.

 

“They need you on the bridge. They’re starting the face-trace.” She told Coulson.

 

“See you there.”

 

Coulson walked off, leaving the three by themselves. Agent Romanoff wandered off, leaving Captain Rogers and Percy to follow behind (again).

 

“It was quite the buzz around here, finding you in the ice.” The agent spoke to the blond man. “I thought Coulson was gonna swoon. Did he ask you to sign his Captain America trading cards yet?”

 

“Trading cards?” Captain Rogers asked.

 

“Captain America?” Percy asked at the same time.

 

The two looked at one another. Captain Rogers held up his hand. “Please, just Steve.” He turned back to Agent Romanoff. “And what trading cards?”

 

“They’re vintage, he’s very proud.”

 

Percy saw a man spinning around in circles, trying not to bump into the workers crowding the area. Steve noticed him too, calling out, “Dr. Banner.” The man turned, noticing them. Looking grateful, he walked over to their small-but-growing group. Steve and Dr. Banner shook hands.

 

“Oh, yeah. Hi. They told me you’d be coming.” Dr. Banner glanced Steve over. His eyes then shifted over to Percy. “And you must be the demigod.”

 

“Uh, yeah,” Percy said. “Name’s Percy.” He held out his hand for the older man to shake. The demigod was slowly realizing that he should’ve read the packet a little more before coming because he knew little about the people who surrounded him were, but they clearly knew about him.

 

“Word is you can find the cube,” Steve said, helping break the awkward silence that had been beginning to fall.

 

Banner looked nervous. “Is that the only word on me?”

 

“Only word I care about.”

 

“Hang on, what cube?”

 

Three sets of eyes turned to him. “Did you read the packet?” Steve asked him.

 

“I skimmed it,” Percy admitted. “Reading isn’t my strong suit.”

 

“We can talk about it later.” Agent Romanoff stepped forward. “Gentlemen, you may wanna step inside in a minute. It’s gonna get a little hard to breathe.”

 

The ship started to creak and beep as various parts started moving, preparing the ship to get ready. Steve looked around, something akin to amazement on his face. “Is this a submarine?”

 

“Really?” Banner asked. “They want me in a submerged pressurized metal container?”

 

Percy, Steve, and Banner stepped closer to the edge to see the four propellers started to spin, sending the water flying. The three of them seemed to realize at the same time that this wasn’t a submarine, but a plane.

 

Banner smiled, although it was pained. “Oh, no. This is much worse.”

 

“Much worse indeed,” Percy agreed, thinking of his uncle that wouldn’t hesitate to blast them out of the sky.

 

The plane rose higher into the sky. People started heading indoors, leaving the top deck clear. The four of them followed suit, following Agent Romanoff as she lead them through a series of hallways that eventually led to a door that opened as soon as they got close.

 

Percy fought to keep his mouth from dropping to the floor in shock. They stood in a large room, filled with agents manning computers as they lifted the plane higher into the sky. Percy watched out the windows as the sea grew farther and farther and the clouds closer. His stomach twisted slightly and he turned away.

 

“Let’s vanish.”

 

Percy turned towards the familiar voice. He found Fury standing above the rest of the agents, two consoles on either side of him, displaying a bunch of information that Percy wouldn’t understand half of. The man turned around and walked towards them. “Gentlemen,” he addressed.

 

“Pirate-man,” Percy said back. Fury glanced at him before being handed ten dollars by Steve. He pocketed the money then held out his hand for Dr. Banner to shake. Percy could see Banner hesitate before accepting the other man’s hand.

 

“Doctor, thank you for coming.”

 

“Thanks for asking so nicely.” Banner replied. “So, uh… how long am I staying?”

 

“Once we get our hands on the Tesseract, you’re in the wind.”

 

“Where are you with that?” The two wandered off, leaving Percy by himself.

 

\~*~/

 

Several hours had passed since they had taken off. An agent had shown him to his room, where he dropped off his duffel and made a quick IM to Annabeth, updating her on the situation. After a while, Percy ventured back to what seemed to be the main area. He had read a little more of the packet, and could understand more of what was going on.

 

Steve and Coulson stood to the side, talking back and forth. Percy let them be. He sat at the table, just spinning the chair around in circles. Around them, people were trying to run a face-match on the evil-guy, Loki.

 

One of the computers started beeping, signaling a match. Everyone ran towards the computer. Percy caught a look over everyone’s shoulders. A picture of a tall man with slicked back black hair was shown.

 

“We got a hit.” The agent called out. “Sixty-seven percent match. Wait, cross match, seventy-nine percent.”

 

“Location?” Coulson asked.

 

“Stuttgart, Germany. 28, Konigstrasse. He's not exactly hiding.”

 

Fury nodded, before turning to Steve and Percy. “Captain, Mr. Jackson, you're up.”

Chapter Text

 

Percy refused to step foot on another plane. It was bad enough that he was already on the Helicarrier, but getting on another, and faster plane made him put his foot down. He really didn’t need to push his bad luck any further.

 

Agent Romanoff and Steve, now dressed in the red, white, and blue spandex outfit that Percy had seen in the packet with his shield, stood at the foot of a plane ramp. Percy stood twenty feet away, arguing with Fury.

 

“Listen,” Fury said. “We need you in Germany. Apprehending Loki is a top priority.”

 

“Sure thing. But I’m not getting on that plane. Or any other flying vehicle for that matter.”

 

“The quinjet is the fastest way to get to Stuttgart.”

 

Percy paused, thinking about something. “What if I could find another way to get there?”

 

“What do you have in mind?”

 

The demigod looked up at the sky. He wondered if he was making a good call before ultimately deciding that any decision was better than choosing a plane.

 

Percy gave his best whistle. The sound rang loud and clear. He gave four more whistles, causing several people to stop what they were doing to look at the demigod who was now patiently waiting, gazing towards the direction New York was in. Natasha and Steve watched curiously. About two minutes passed before a little spot appeared on the horizon. As it grew larger, Natasha and Steve thought it looked like a bird. A large bird.

 

It wasn’t until it was about a hundred yards away before they realized that it wasn’t a bird. Steve’s jaw dropped a little, watching the pegasus land on the deck next to Percy. Natasha, whose face was usually unreadable, had her eye’s wide.

 

“Hey, Blackjack,” Percy said to his pegasus. “How’s it going?”

 

Yo boss! Who are all these freaky people with the guns?

 

“They’re allies.”

 

Fury recognized the pegasus from last year. “How fast will he be able to get you to Germany?”

 

Percy smiled. “Blackjack could probably keep up with your jet over there.”

 

Are we going to Germany boss? I heard the mares over there are fine.

 

“At least it's not donuts,” Percy muttered as he mounted Blackjack. “Alright buddy, just follow that jet right over there.” He pointed to where the ship Steve and Natasha had been on earlier was now powering up.

 

You got it boss. Mares, here I come.

 

\~*~/

 

Loki watched as the mortals scrambled around him. He dropped the spell that showed him in the mortal suit, letting it melt away to reveal his green and gold armor. The god felt a rush as the mortals ran from him, falling and screaming in their haste.

 

A siren sound grew loud, and a mortal contraption (car, Loki remembered) came speeding around the corner. Without breaking his stride, he shot his scepter at the car and continued on, not watching as the car flipped.

 

A clone of him appeared in front of the crowd of people trying to escape. They scurried back away from him. “Kneel before me,” he ordered. More clones appeared, pushing the people into one area.

 

“I said, KNEEL!”

 

Everyone grew silent. As the people slowly started getting down on their knees, Loki grinned. “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state?” The god spoke, slowly moving through the crowd. “It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

 

“Not to men like you.”

 

Loki looked up. He found an elder man standing above the rest, refusing to kneel to him. “There are no men like me.” He told the man.

 

The elder man didn’t move. “There are always men like you.”

 

“Look to your elder, people.” He raised his scepter, charging it up. “Let him be an example.” The scepter glowed. Loki took his shot, an energy beam shooting out. Just before it hit the man, someone jumped in front of it.

 

The energy blast reflected back, hitting Loki and knocking his feet out from under him. He fell forward. Loki whipped his head up. Standing in front of the old man was a man he recognized.

 

“You know, the last time I was in Germany, and saw a man standing above everybody else, we ended up disagreeing.” Captain America told Loki, walked towards him. As he talked, people in the crowd stood up.

 

Loki pushed himself up. “The soldier. A man out of time.”

 

There was a clattering sound behind him that reminded Loki of horses. Loki turned around. There indeed was a horse, wait—pegasus. And on top of the pegasus was a man in what Loki recognized as Greek armor. “Guess again, Maleficent.”

 

“Loki, drop the weapon and stand down.”

 

A large plane appeared out of the sky. A gun was pointed down at them, specifically at Loki. Quick as lightning, he shot a blast of energy at the jet. It swerved just in time, the blast just missing it.

 

Cap took the opportunity to throw his shield at Loki. People started scrambling out of the way as a fight erupted around them. Cap started throwing out punches while Percy slid off Blackjack and took out Riptide. Loki used the scepter as a staff. Cap went on the defense, using his shield to block his attacks. Percy jumped in, intercepting Loki’s hit.

 

The god looked up at him. Percy didn’t register the god’s look of contempt. He pushed with Riptide, knocking Loki back. With renewed vigor, the two clashed. Loki sent another blast at Percy, who jumped out of the way. Cap leaped back in. He threw his shield at Loki, who swatted it away. The god got a good hit in, bringing Captain America to his knees.

 

Loki put the tip of his scepter over the Captain’s helmet. “Kneel.”

 

“Not today!”

 

Captain America jumped back up, kicking Loki in the face. Loki staggered back. The Captain went back in for another kick. This time Loki grabbed his leg and flipped him over.

 

He landed on the ground in front of Percy, who was draining water from the nearby fountain. The demigod quickly thrust the water at the god. Percy tried to encase the god by freezing the water, but Loki was using his scepter to dislodge most of the water. The water was vaporizing as he tried to whack it away.

 

Loud rock music started blasting from the quinjet. Percy looked up in confusion, wondering what was going on. His eye’s caught the human-shaped-missile-like object hurtling straight towards them. It landed near Percy. He realized that it was the same suit of armor that he’d seen from the packet.

 

The armor sent a blast from its palms, sending Loki flying back. Several smaller missiles popped from the shoulder. “Make your move, Reindeer Games.” The man in the suit of armor spoke. Loki slowly put his hands up in surrender, materializing his armor away. “Good move.”

 

“Mr. Stark.” Captain addressed the armored man.

 

“Captain.”

 

“Guy in armor.”

 

Stark turned to look at him. “Perseus, right?

 

“Just Percy.”

 

The Captain stepped forward, slapping a pair of S.H.I.E.L.D. issued handcuffs on Loki. Not too far, Natasha was landing the plane for them to bring Loki on. Percy whistled once more. Blackjack came swooping out of the sky a minute later.

 

Are we leaving already boss? We just got here. I haven’t even gotten to meet anyone of the mares here yet.

 

“Sorry, buddy. We got to get Rudolph here back to the base. Maybe we can come back another time?”

 

It’s fine, boss. Let’s just get out of here. The pigeons here are super rude anyway. It’s like they’ve never seen a pegasus before.

 

The plane was loaded up. Percy mounted Blackjack, giving him a pat. “Alright buddy. You know what to do.”

 

\~*~/

 

They were only fifteen minutes into the trip back when things went wrong.

 

Blackjack was following the quinjet over a mountainside forest. The sky was already dark, but the black clouds closing in made it darker. Percy could hardly see anything around him. Even Blackjack, who he was on, blended into the sky in front of him.

 

When the lighting started, Percy jumped. He leaned in closer to Blackjack. “Fly lower,” he ordered. Looking up at the sky, the demigod wondered what he had done this time to deserve his uncle’s wrath.

 

Through the light provided from the rapid lighting, Percy saw something land on the quinjet. The plane rattled and a couple seconds later, the ramp door was opening. Percy watched as the figure on top the quinjet quickly jumped onto the ramp. He disappeared inside. Percy leaned over, trying to figure out what was happening. The figure reappeared in a few seconds. They had Loki with them. Just as quick as the strange figure had appeared, he had disappeared into the dark sky, taking their prisoner with them.

 

Whoa, boss. Who was that?

 

“Whoever it was, we need to follow them. They took Loki and we need him.” Blackjack turned around, heading in the direction the two had vanished.

 

Percy heard the sound of repulsors behind him. Stark flew out of the quinjet, also flying after Loki. The man sped up to reach Percy. He caught up fast, flying right along with Blackjack.

 

“Do you have any idea who that was?” Percy shouted, trying to be heard over the loud sounds of the repulsors.

 

“Loki seems to know him. Guy has a heavy hammer.”

 

Percy frowned. He didn’t know if the guy was kidding or not. But heavy hammers wouldn’t be the weirdest thing he's ever heard (or seen) of. “Hey, if you can fly ahead, go. I’ll catch up.”

 

“Gotcha, Lancelot.”

 

Stark pulled ahead. Percy and Blackjack were still going, but Percy could hear Blackjack’s exhaustion. The poor pegasus was breathing heavy. Percy immediately felt bad for pushing his pegasus this far. As soon as they re-grouped, he would risk the quinjet so that Blackjack could rest for a while before flying back to New York.

 

With all the lightning, Percy was able to spot a figure on the side of one of the mountains. He saw the dark green leather that helped the tall man blend into the scenery around them, but not enough to hide him from the son of Poseidon.

 

Percy pointed at Loki. “Dive.”

 

Hold on.

 

Percy held onto Blackjack as the pegasus dove down. The wind whipped Percy’s hair back. When Blackjack got low enough, Percy jumped off the pegasus. He rolled on his landing, years of landing kicking in.

 

Loki looked at Percy dis-interested. Percy recognized the look, having seen in on many gods and goddess’s faces, even on some of his old teacher’s faces. He recognized it as a look of I’m-more-superior-than-you-are. Percy had never liked seeing that condescending look, making him feel as if he wasn’t good enough.

 

He rose up. The demigod took out Riptide and pointed it at Loki’s throat. “Out for a night stroll?”

 

Loki rolled his eyes. He eyed the sword at his throat, before gently raising his hands. “This isn’t much of a stroll.”

 

Percy was about to retort when he heard what sounded like Stark’s cries and a tree crashing. He looked over at the forest in alarm, dropping Riptide.

 

“Oh, yes.” Loki pipped up. “My brother and your friend seem to be getting along quite nicely.”

 

Percy could see Stark firing up his suit and flying at the mysterious man who Percy could now see was wearing a red cape and had long blond hair. Out of the corner of his eye, Loki settled down on the rocks to watch the fight between the two. Percy debated staying or breaking up the fight, ultimately deciding that stopping the fight was more important.

 

“Stay here.”

 

“Wouldn’t dream of missing this,” Loki called.

 

Percy ignored him and jumped over the ledge. Unlike the time in California, Percy had no sled, just his feet to quickly push him down the steep mountainside. Bushes and small branches grabbed at his legs and arms, giving him tiny cuts that stung a little. He pushed aside a large tree branch before stumbling into the clearing that the two were using as their battle arena.

 

The demigod raised Riptide, ready to fight the strange man who reminded Percy of a big, muscly Goldilocks. “Hey,” Percy called out. “What is this?” He gestured to the area around them.

 

“He started it,” Stark said like a kindergartner.

 

Goldilocks glanced him over, taking note of his armor and sword. “You’re one of the Greek’s? This isn’t something you need worry about. I will take care of my brother.”

 

“Actually Goldilocks, he is.” Percy corrected. “So if you don’t mind…” Percy lowered Riptide in a show of good faith. Stark hesitated, glancing between the two before lowering his arm. Goldilocks gripped his hammer tighter, but begrudgingly lowered his hand to his side.

 

It was only after Percy breathed a small sigh of relief that the man threw his hammer at Percy. The demigod jumped out of the way, while Stark raised his hand to blast Goldilocks. Percy pushed himself off the ground. Goldilocks was trying to block Stark’s energy blast with one huge hand. His other hand was out, like he was trying to grab an invisible weapon.

 

Behind Percy, the leaves rustled. Goldilocks’ hammer came flying out of the bushes. In a quick moment of impulse, Percy grabbed the flying hammer, thinking that he could stop Jason’s rip-off from getting it back.

 

The hammer didn’t even slow as it dragged the demigod behind it, trying not to scream at the suddenness of being weightless. Goldilocks had to move or otherwise he would have been rammed into by Percy who zoomed by him, ending up being dragged through the high bushes.

 

The hammer, and subsequently Percy, smashed into a large tree, ripping it straight out of the ground. Percy lost his grip on the strangely impossibly heavy hammer.

 

The son of Poseidon could only watch as the hammer flew back into Goldie’s waiting hand. Dark clouds gathered heavy above them, and a huge burst of lighting hit the hammer, similar to what Percy had seen Thalia and Jason do before. Goldie aimed the lightening at Stark. The man struggled against the lighting. Fear struck Percy’s heart, knowing exactly what electricity and a metal suit could do to someone. Percy watched as the lightning attack stopped and Stark seemed to stand still for a second.

 

If suits could grin, Percy thought that Tony’s suit would have at that moment. Three bright blue beams of energy shot from the suit all at once, hitting Goldie with enough force to send him back into the nearest tree. The two surged forward, forgetting about Percy. That was their mistake.

 

As hammer and suit clashed, Percy stood up, Riptide in hand. He watched as Stark carried Thor up into the sky, past the demigod’s reach. Percy, praying that his pegasus hadn’t gone far, gave a whistle.

 

Blackjack flew down, a couple seconds later.

 

You called ?

 

“Yeah. Follow those two.”

 

Percy swung his leg over Blackjack and they were off.

 

The two of them caught up to the fighting duo just as Tony slammed Goldie into the mountainside, dragging him through the hard rock. Blackjack whinnied loudly as he was splattered with mud and splinters of wood.

 

Percy held on to Blackjack as the pegasus soared higher and higher to keep up with the two. The demigod could see Goldie putting up a fight. With a strong push, he shoved himself and Tony away from the mountainside. Percy had to grip Blackjack tighter as the pegasus made a sharp turn to avoid the two spiraling back to Earth.

 

Blackjack turned in time to avoid getting hit by the two men, but Percy’s sword was far out enough to cut Goldie’s arm as he flew by. The blond haired man dropped Tony in surprise. He made a wild grab for Percy.

 

Goldie only managed to grab Blackjack’s leg, dragging the other two down with him. Percy fell off of Blackjack’s back and rammed into Goldie. The other man let go of Blackjack’s leg.

 

Once again, Percy struggled to cope with sudden weightlessness. He was too far up to make a safe landing, and Goldie was charging after him, catching up to his freefall speed rapidly.

 

Think, Percy, think!

 

As the ground grew ever closer, Percy could feel the familiar sensation of another pulse under his skin, beating rapidly.

 

Water.

 

Percy could sense the underground springs, ready for him to use. He turned away from Goldie, diving head first, arms arched above his head, into the ground, which erupted with a jet of water just in time to catch him.

 

Percy stood up, the water shooting past him and above him, slamming itself into Goldie as he continued his flight path. To his relief, Goldie was knocked off path, but his hammer wasn’t. The heavy item slammed into his chest, pinning him against the ground. He tried to roll, attempting to break free, but it was like having the weight of the sky pressing down on his chest. Percy was effectively immobilized. Thankfully, the feeling didn’t last long as Tony grabbed Goldie by the cape and chucked him clear across the forest.

 

Percy wasn’t entirely sure what happened next, as the hammer flew off his chest, and he was on his feet in an instant, following the sound of snapping trees.

 

Water followed him up the side of the mountain as he sprinted at full speed, ready to attack as soon as he was in sight.

 

This plan was foiled when Tony decided it was a good idea to go jetting across the ground. Percy was swept off his feet, but so was Goldie. Goldie summoned his hammer back, recovering first, just in time to be slammed into by a truly absurd amount of water. Percy didn’t know that mountains could hide so much water.

 

Tony slammed into Goldie as the water abated, pinning him to the ground. Percy stood, Riptide once again at his side, and pointed it at Goldie, keeping his distance. Goldie roared something imperceptible, and threw Ironman off. He turned to Percy.

 

Sword met hammer, leaving Percy’s arms shaking as the reverberations ran through his body. Percy was strong, but he had nothing on this guy. Percy braced for another blow, ready to duck low and swing high when a familiar blue and red shield smashed into Goldie from the side.

 

“Hey!” Captain America stood tall across the clearing, perched in a tree. “Now, I don’t know what you plan on doing here.”

 

“I’ve come to put an end to Loki’s schemes!”

 

“Then prove it. Put the hammer down.” Steve sounded a little too fatherly there, and Percy saw something in Goldie’s jaw twitch. He dove forward, sword impacting Goldie’s armor, causing him to stumble.

 

“One minute, Greek.” And then he was off, flying towards Steve. Percy shouted a warning, and with a loud clang, the world exploded around him. Debris flew around his body, and he could feel the familiar trickle of blood running down his face from minor scratches. He knew he was bruised in other places, but his armor had taken the worst of it. When he could open his eyes again, Tony and Steve were staring at Goldie, who in turn was looking between the three of them.

 

“We done here?” Steve asked, shield still braced defensively.

 

Goldilocks, awestruck, nods. Percy let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. Slowly, the group, though tension still high, managed to lower their weapons. Steve called for Loki, who had remained on his little perch through the entire fight, to be brought back. Above them, Percy could see the quinjet circling, waiting to land.

 

As Romanoff landed the plane and the group loaded up, Percy couldn’t help but glance at Loki. The son of Poseidon had lots of experience with bad guys, and almost all of them put up a fight or tried to escape.

 

So the fact that the green-clothed man didn’t made Percy’s stomach twist with anticipation. He wondered what he could possibly have planned for them.

Chapter Text

It took them an hour to get back to the Helicarrier. An hour of Percy nervously glancing up at the ceiling. An hour of violently gripping the nearest surface every time they hit turbulence. An hour of wondering whether Zeus would strike the plane down.

 

Steve had sat by Percy and tried to make small talk. Percy gave short, quick answers, not in the mood to chit-chat. Steve left after a while, giving Percy some space. When the plane landed, Percy was the first one off. Being on the Helicarrier wasn’t the same as the ground, but Percy could feel the ocean below them, giving him a much needed boost.

 

The others followed after Percy. Several agents had been waiting for their arrival, taking Loki and escorting him to presumably his cell. Percy watched him go, the unsettling feeling from his stomach still not gone.

 

Everyone made their way inside. They ended back up in the main area, where Dr. Banner was waiting, pacing back and forth. As soon as the group entered, Banner stopped his pacing. They all took places around the table. Romanoff managed to pull up a security feed of the holding cell that Loki was in for them to watch.

 

Percy found himself staring at Loki through a glass prison cell. The guards had taken off the cuffs, letting him wander around the small cell freely. Percy stared at the god, trying to figure out what his ulterior motive for coming here was. No man—or god, for that matter—would let themselves be captured without a plan of sorts.

 

Director Fury walked on screen, just as intimidating as he had been when Percy first met him. He didn’t spare Loki a glance until he was standing next to the control panel of the cell. “In case it's unclear,” his voice boomed. “You try to escape, you so much as scratch that glass—” Fury pressed one of the buttons on the panel. Percy figured that the button must have opened a hatch under the cage as the sound of gushing wind became almost deafening. Loki tried his best to peer down the glass without pressing himself to the window. “—Thirty thousand feet, straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works?”

 

Fury pressed the button again, and the hatch closed. With a pointed gesture at Loki, he said “Ant,” before gesturing to the panel. “Boot.”

 

Loki smirked. “It’s an impressive cage. Not built, I think, for me.”

 

“Built for something a lot stronger than you.”

 

“Oh, I’ve heard.” Loki turned to look into the camera. Around the table, the others took subtle glances at Banner, who was watching Loki intently, trying to ignore the others. “The mindless beast makes play he's still a man. How desperate are you that you call upon such lost creatures to defend you?

 

“How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk about peace and you kill cause it's fun. You have made me very      desperate.” Fury was walking closer and closer to Loki’s cage, illustrating each point with another step. “You might not be glad that you did.”

 

“Ooh. It burns you to come so close.” Loki nearly laughed. “To have the Tesseract, to have power, unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded what real power is.”

 

Fury stared at Loki, not backing down from the god. After a beat, he turned away, hiding a small smile. “Well, you let me know if ‘Real Power’ wants a magazine or something.”

 

The director left, leaving Loki by himself. With a smirk, Loki cast the camera another glance, before the monitor went dark. Everyone around the table was silent. Percy sat there, mulling over Loki’s words. The speech didn’t sound like what someone who had been captured would sound like. Loki sounded relaxed, confident. Even though he was the one in the cage, Loki sounded like the one with the upper hand.

 

Across from Percy, Steve sat in silence. Just to his left, Thor stood, looking torn. Percy remembered that Thor and Loki were brothers. Until this moment, the son of Poseidon realized that the Greek gods might not be the only immortal dysfunctional family out there.

 

Dr. Banner broke the silence first. “He really grows on you, doesn't he?”

 

“Loki's gonna drag this out,” Steve noted. The super soldier lifted his eyes to the blond god. “So, Thor, what's his play?”

 

“He has an army called the Chitauri. They're not of Asgard or any world known.” Thor uncrossed his arms and wandered closer to the table. “He means to lead them against your people. They will win him the earth. In return, I suspect, for the Tesseract.”

 

“An army? From outer space?” Steve repeated, tone sort of disbelieving.

 

Percy swiveled his chair towards the Captain. “Trust me on this, Cap. Space armies? Not the weirdest thing.”

 

“So he's building another portal.” Banner pieced together, ignoring Percy and Cap’s small conversation. “That's what he needs Erik Selvig for.”

 

Thor frowned. “Selvig?”

 

“He's an astrophysicist.” Banner explained to the god.

 

“He's a friend.”

 

“Loki has him under some kind of spell, along with one of ours,” Natasha spoke up for the first time. Percy gave a small jump, having forgotten that she was in the room with them. The demigod assumed that was just part of her nature from being a spy—don’t be noticed, blend into the background.

 

A troubling thought that had plagued Percy earlier popped back into his head. “Something’s up with Loki. Did anyone else notice how he actually sat and watched us like we something on Prime TV before letting us take him? Loki’s planning something.”

 

“I don't think we should be focusing on Loki.” Banner waved Percy’s concern off. “That guy's brain is a bag full of cats, you could smell crazy on him.”

 

Thor turned on Banner. “Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard, and he's my brother.”

 

“He killed eighty people in two days,” Natasha informed him.

 

“He's adopted.”

 

Percy chuckled. Dysfunctional family all right. He stood up from his chair, walking closer to Thor. “Hey man, I get it. My cousin once told me families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy.” Percy shrugged his shoulders. “The best thing to do is just remind yourselves that you’re related, for better or worse.” Thor’s shoulders slumped as Percy’s words moved over him. “He also said to try and keep the killing to a low, but…”

 

“Thank you, Perseus,” Thor told him. “I’m not sure things with Loki will go over smoothly, but I will keep your words in mind.”

 

Percy gave him a nod. Some of the uneasy air that had been between them seemed to melt away.

 

Banner looked deep in thought. “I think it’s about the mechanics.” He spoke up.  Iridium. What do they need the iridium for?”

 

“It’s a stabilizing agent.”

 

Stark and Coulson walked into the room. Tony had answered Banner’s question before turning back to Coulson and finishing whatever conversation they had been having before walking into the room. When he finished, he turned back to them. “Means the portal won’t collapse on itself like it did at S.H.I.E.L.D.” Tony walked by Thor and gave him a pat on the back. “No hard feelings, Point Break. You’ve got a mean swing.

 

“Also,” he switched back to Banner’s question. “it means the portal can open as wide, and stay open as long, as Loki wants.”

 

“Like to bring in a giant army from space,” Percy realized. He turned to Stark before he realized that the man had turned his attention to the agents that were milling around. Percy wondered if the man had ADHD. Stark reminded Percy of some of the kids at Camp Half-Blood, jumping from one conversation topic to the next without any logical solution behind it.

 

“Uh, raise the mid-mast, ship the top sails.” He commanded. “That man is playing GALAGA. Thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did.” Tony then proceeded to cover one of his eyes and look at the large monitors. “How does Fury even see these?”

 

“He turns.” Agent Hill answered.

 

“Sounds exhausting.” Tony turned back to Banner, but not before subtly placing something on the back of the monitor. Percy furrowed his brow as Stark continued talking. “The rest of the raw materials, Agent Barton can get on his hands pretty easily. Only major component he still needs is a power source. A high energy density, something to kick start the cube.”

 

“When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?”

 

“Last night. The packet, Selvig’s notes, the Extraction Theory papers. Am I the only one who did the reading?”

 

“Pretty sure you’re the only one who got that,” Percy spoke up. “Unless I missed that in my skim through.”

 

Steve pipped up with a question. “Does Loki need any particular kind of power source?”

 

“He’s got to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier.”

 

“The what now?” Percy asked, confused by what had just come out of the Doctor’s mouth. Only Tony seemed to understand his words because the two quickly launched into a conversation that Percy had trouble following.

 

“Finally, someone who speaks English,” Tony said.

 

Steve frowned. “Is that what just happened?”

 

“I don’t know, Cap.” Percy shrugged his shoulders. “Didn’t sound like it.”

 

Tony and Bruce shook hands. Percy could see what looked like a mutual respect for each other as they introduced themselves to one another. “It’s good to meet you, Dr. Banner. You’re work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled.” Tony paused for a second. “And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into a huge green rage monster.”

 

Banner looked away. “Thanks,” he muttered.

 

“Dr. Banner is only here to track the cube,” Fury announced to Stark. “I was hoping you might join him.”

 

“Let’s start with that stick of his,” Steve suggested. “It may be magical, but it works an awful lot like a HYDRA weapon.”

 

Percy frowned. “Hydras don’t need weapons.”

 

Everyone around the table seemed to look over at Percy. The son of Poseidon noticed the shocked and questioning looks from mainly everyone except from Agent Hill and Director Fury, the latter of who looked over at Percy. “Not Hydra as in the monster. HYDRA as in the secret organization that existed during World War Two. I’m not sure this is like them, but it is powered by the cube. And I’d like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys.”

 

“Monkeys?” Thor asked. “I do not understand.”

 

“I do! I understood that reference.” Percy stifled a laugh at the proud looking Captain who finally wasn’t the clueless one on a pop culture reference.

 

Tony looked to Banner, ignoring Steve. “Shall we play, doctor?”

 

“Let’s play some.”

 

Tony and Bruce walked out, heading towards the lab. Percy headed off to his room, ready to make a call to Annabeth.

 

He made sure to close the door behind him before heading into his small bathroom. Percy stared at the shower, trying to figure out how to turn it on. Instead of a knob, there was a couple of buttons and a pad. Percy started pushing the buttons. It took him a couple tries before he got the water going. Taking the water, he bent it to the bathroom lights just right to get a small rainbow.

 

Percy tossed a drachma into the rainbow-colored water. “O Fleecy, do me a solid. Show me Annabeth Chase, Upper East Side, Manhattan.”

 

The rainbow started to shimmer, and the familiar sight of Percy’s living room came into focus. He saw Annabeth curled up on the couch, fast asleep. There was a stack of papers on the coffee table in front of her. Next to the stack of papers was a cup of coffee, half empty.

 

Percy paused. The last time that Annabeth had drank coffee was when they were studying for their college finals. Prior to contrary belief, coffee actually made them better focused rather than bouncing off the walls. So when Annabeth was studying hard for something, she always had a little bit of coffee to help keep her on track. He tried to peer closer at the stack of papers. The IM, while great for getting general pictures across, was not good enough to help Percy see the words on the paper, that were just a small blur.

 

On the couch, Annabeth stirred. One of her eyes blinked open lazily. “Percy?” She asked, running her eyes as she sat up.

 

Percy smiled. “Hey, Wise girl.”

 

“Percy,” she sat up fully. “It’s like midnight.”

 

Percy glanced over at the clock that hung on the wall. “Over here, it’s two. Sorry that I woke you, I just wanted to check in on you.”

 

“I’m fine. I was just working on something.” She waved her hands dismissably towards the coffee table. “How are things going? Saved the world yet?”

 

Percy chuckled. “I’m not sure if getting by podex handed to me by a god with a heavy hammer counts.”

 

“Which god?” Annabeth asked.

 

“Thor,” Percy told her. “His brother Loki is the one we were going after. He’s in his cell right now while Stark and Banner are tracking down the cube that he stole from S.H.I.E.L.D. so he could invade Earth with an army from outer space.” The son of Poseidon paused, replaying his last sentence and realizing how confusing that probably was.

 

Annabeth seemed to agree, if her furrowed brows were anything to go by. Percy was about to explain more when she asked a question that he didn’t expect.

 

“Did you say Thor and Loki?”

 

Percy froze. “Uh, yeah. Why? Do the names mean anything to you?”

 

Annabeth was visibly more awake than she had moments before, leaning forward towards Percy. “Thor and Loki famous Norse gods. If I remember correctly, Thor was the god of thunder while Loki was the god of mischief. I think stories also said that Loki killed an unkillable guy and his punishment was to have snake poison drip on him.”

 

“How does one kill an unkillable person?”

 

“Percy—”

 

“That’s not logical Annabeth.” Percy pointed out. “If the guy’s unkillable, then how can someone kill them?”

 

“I think the guy was meant to be unkillable. I’m not up to speed on my Norse mythology. I may be smart, but I can’t remember something I read once in a book when I was six.” Annabeth took a deep breath. “Okay, I need you to tell me. Does Loki have any scarring on his face? Any marks whatsoever?”

 

Percy shook his head. “No. That guy could be a model if he, you know, wasn’t a murderer. But he can do illusions.” Percy added after a second. “Maybe he’s hiding something.” He shrugged. “Not all stories are true though, remember?”

 

“Yeah.” Annabeth agreed. “I know, just making sure.” She glanced at the clock behind her. “Listen, Percy, I got to get to bed, and so do you. You never know when you’ll get to sleep next.”

 

Percy didn’t want to go, it felt like they had just started talking, but Percy couldn’t deny his heavy eyelids or calling bed in the next room. “Okay,” he said simply. “I’ll IM you with another update soon. I love you, wise girl.”

 

“Love you too, seaweed brain.”

 

He swiped through the Iris-message and shut off the shower. Percy stared at the place Annabeth’s beautiful face had only just been before trudging back into his bedroom and falling into his small bed. Within minutes, he was fast asleep.

Chapter Text

6 – The Shaquille O’Neal of Lying

 

There were certain things Percy could live without. Quests, over-arrogant and dramatic gods and goddesses, pranks from the Hermes cabin that left him covered in peanut butter and harpy feathers... but the one thing Percy probably hated most was demigod dreams.

 

As soon as Percy had fallen asleep, he found himself in the last place he wanted to be—Loki’s cell. The green glass prison formed around the son of Poseidon. Across the cell from where Percy stood, Loki was sitting on the small cot. He was staring at the camera that the others had watched him from earlier.

 

Loki finally shifted his gaze from the camera to Percy. “What a pleasant surprise,” he said in a tone that made Percy know that this wasn’t pleasant nor a surprise. Loki spread his arms wide, gesturing to the small cell around them. “Welcome.”

 

Percy crossed his arms in front of him. All of a sudden, he was glad that he had fallen asleep in his clothes, instead of standing in front of Loki in his PJs. “What do you want, Loki?”

 

“I want to offer you a proposal.”

 

“Uh, sorry, but I already have a girlfriend.”

 

“A business proposal,” Loki stressed. “I know you want to avoid this upcoming fight. You’re not prepared. You haven’t practiced or so much as swung a sword in three years. You’re hopelessly outmatched for what’s coming. But, if you agree to work with me, then you won’t have anything to worry.”

 

Percy remained unmoved. “I assume this proposal isn’t free.”

 

“Listen carefully, for I will only offer this once,” Loki stated. “If you agree to work with me, you will lend me your forces, your armies, then I will make you powerful. You can have mortals kneeling at your feet, and all you have to do is give me command of Olympus’ armies. Together, we could control those pathetic mortals.”

 

The son of Poseidon remained silent for a couple seconds. His hands drifted down towards his pockets. Percy curled his hand around Riptide, ready to pull his sword out in case things went south. “I think you’re forgetting what I am. Sure, I’m the son of Poseidon, god of the sea and earthquakes, but I’m also the son of Sally Jackson. Half human, half god. You, on the other hand, are a mixture of vegetables and Ares’ sweat—nothing but plain nastiness.”

 

Loki’s smug smile melted away as he sneered. “You’re a fool. Letting unlimited power go for what? A family that has used you as a pawn before? For a world that would shun you if they knew what you truly were?” Percy’s hands tightened into a fist as Loki kept talking. “Join me, Perseus. Together, we can show those mortals what real power is.”

 

“I’d rather die protecting my family than live knowing I betrayed them.”

 

Loki rushed him. Percy pulled out Riptide and held the sharp blade carefully against Loki’s neck. The Norse god froze. Loki carefully eyed the blade, before raising his hands. He gave a small laugh. “Fine. When the Chitauri come, you’ll fail, and you’ll realize that you should’ve accepted my offer while you had the chance. You will die knowing that you had the chance to save yourself but threw it away.”

 

The edges of Percy’s vision started fading, the green cell disappearing. Just before Percy’s dream took him elsewhere, he whispered, “Go to Tartarus.”

 

Loki’s face disappeared and suddenly he found himself in a different place.

 

Space, to be exact.

 

A gasp escaped Percy’s mouth as he floated around. Living in Manhattan, Percy had never seen many stars. Instead, city lights lit up the night. There had been a couple times when he’d gotten the chance to get out of the city and see the stars, but none of those times could ever compete with what he was seeing now.

 

Hundreds upon thousands of stars surrounded Percy, larger and brighter than he had ever seen. Percy was struck by the beauty of it all. He thought of Bob, the titan who sacrificed himself to help Annabeth and him escape Tartarus. Bob, whose last request was to say hello to the stars.

 

A loud roar came from behind him. It took the demigod a couple seconds to turn around—having to move like he was swimming without water—before he could see the cause of the noise. High above him was a large spaceship, something straight out of Star Wars. Flying in and out of the ship were the equivalent of alien whales. Huge, swimming, aliens that vaguely resembled whales. In space. Oh gods.

 

One of the space whales let a big roar or scream. A sick feeling settled in Percy’s—not like the time he had gotten on the Cyclone after eating too many hotdogs despite Annabeth’s warnings (that hadn’t been a pleasant experience for either of them, nor the dude that sat in front of them). That was a different sick from what Percy was feeling now. His neck was tingling, and his stomach was twisting in knots. These had to be the Chitauri that Thor had mentioned. The thought of having these creatures invade Earth, his home, didn’t sit well with the Greek demigod. Loki had to be stopped.

 

The dream changed again, and Percy finally found himself in a place he recognized; a large loft overlooking half of Manhattan, paint supplies scattered around on the coffee table, and a big mural on one wall that featured the cabins of Camp Half-Blood. He was in Rachel Dare’s apartment.

 

Rachel herself was sitting on one of the leather couches, probably an old gift from her father when she had first moved into the loft. A sketchbook sat in her lap. Percy could sense that she was frustrated with something, most likely with the picture not coming out right. The demigod had seen some of her art blocks before and they were never fun to be around.

 

Percy wondered if she was working on a piece for college or for one of her clients. The demigod could still remember the big fight that had occurred between Rachel and her father that had led to her taking on clients to help pay for her college after her father dropped the pay. In the months that had followed, Rachel had made a decent amount of money. Percy had seen the amount some people paid for a small painting, and it made him wish he knew how to draw past stick figures.

 

Out of nowhere, Rachel jerked up. Percy reached out for her when he noticed that her eyes had turned green. The son of Poseidon reeled back a little, watching as green mist started swirling around them. Rachel’s mouth opened and the haunting voice that belonged to the oracle started speaking.

 

It comes from day as dark as night,

After evil's rule, the final fight,

They're gone, they're broke, they come together,

Charged to protect, earthly tether,

Rolling Stone, purple reign,

All must end in blazing pain.

 

As soon as the prophecy was done, the green glow surrounding Rachel faded and she started swaying. Percy rushed forward to help her, but she fell safely back into her couch. Her sketchbook fell off her lap and onto the floor, landing upwards and revealing what had been plaguing Rachel.

 

The sketch showed a tall building that Percy didn’t completely recognize, but he would know the surrounding skyline of New York anywhere. High above the city, in the sky, was a huge hole where Percy recognized the Chitauri flooding though. Just as his blood turned to ice, the dream started fading away, pulling him back to the real world.

 

Percy shot up in his bed, heart racing. He scrambled out of bed, reaching for a golden drachma and heading into the bathroom to make an IM. Percy turned on the shower and let the water flow through the light. He tossed the drachma through the water, asking Fleecy to patch him through to Rachel’s home.

 

Rachel’s distressed face appeared a moment later. “Percy!” She cried. “Why are you—”

 

“I had a dream about you last night.” Percy interrupted Rachel, cutting her off. She frowned.

 

“Please tell meet wasn’t one of those sexy kinds of—”

 

“No!” Percy shouted. “No, not that kind of dream. Although I’m not sure this is much better.”

 

“Percy, anything is better than you cheating on Annabeth.”

 

“You gave a prophecy.”

 

Rachel’s face turned serious. “What about?”

 

“I think it’s about the upcoming battle with Loki.” He paused. “I also saw the sketch you drew.”

 

“I was actually just about to call Chiron. Show him the sketch.” She turned around to pick up her sketchbook. “I just drew this last night. It wasn’t until this morning that I recognized the building.” Rachael held up the sketch. “That’s STARK Tower. I don’t know what those things are, but it’s obviously not good. What was the prophecy?”

 

Percy recited the prophecy. Rachel wrote it down in the corner of the sketch, like an artist’s signature. When Percy was finished, she sat there for a moment silent. “Blazing pain? They’re broke? This doesn’t sound like a typical prophecy.”

 

“What are you thinking?”

 

Rachel frowned. “I’m not sure. I might talk it over with Ella, see if there’s anything similar to this. Something I don’t understand, ‘the final fight’? What do you think that means?”

 

“I don’t know.” Percy shrugged. “Most times, the meaning isn’t clear until it’s happened. The only line I’m worried about is the last one.”

 

“I can see why. Make sure to stay away from any fire that might cause blazing pain.” Rachel sighed. “I’m going to call Ella, compare some thoughts, ideas.”

 

“Got it.” Percy gave her a wave. “See you later.”

 

“Later,” Rachel said before waving through the rainbow, leaving Percy standing alone in the bathroom. His mind wandered to his dream conversation with Loki, and the sick feeling he’d felt earlier returned as he came to the conclusion that prophecies were worse than dreams.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy didn’t know if he was allowed in any part of the ship that wasn’t the main area and his own room, not even one of the small supply closets in the halls. Fury didn’t seem to be the sharing type. That didn’t stop the demigod from wandering the huge ship.

 

After talking with Rachel, Percy had found the urge to escape the confines of his room. He started walking through the vast halls, trying to let go of his thoughts for a little while. It wasn’t too long in that he’d gotten lost. Percy was sure that he’d passed the same section of doors three times now.

 

“Mr. Jackson.”

 

Fury stalked towards Percy, clearly angry and annoyed with the demigod.

 

“Hey Pirate,” Percy gave him a wave. “Just checking out your man-o-war. Got a bit lost. Do you have maps to hand out?”

 

The director sighed. “Cut the pirate lingo and come with me.”

 

“Aye.”

 

Fury didn’t even bother with a glare at Percy’s remark. Percy followed Fury through the halls as the director led him past the residential hall and the main area and eventually into a conference room, complete with a fake plant in an attempt to try and make the room look cozier.

 

“What’s happening?” Percy asked.

 

“Please take a seat, Mr. Jackson.” Fury pulled out a chair and took a seat, gesturing to one of the empty chairs around the long table. “I just have a couple questions I’d like to ask you.”

 

“What kind of questions?”

 

“S.H.I.E.L.D. does their homework, and we do it well. But even we can’t figure out everything sometimes. We just want a little help to make sense of some things.”

 

Percy hesitated a second before he pulled a chair out. “What do you want to know?”

 

“We’ll start easy. What’s the extent of your training?”

 

The son of Poseidon shifted in his seat. “Uh, I can fight with a sword?” It came out more of a question, unsure if that was what Fury was looking for. “I started when I was twelve. Um, I have control over water.”

 

“What all can do you with water?” Fury interrupted. “I know your father is Poseidon, but just how does that work? Do you have hydrokinesis?”

 

“Yeah,” Percy nodded. “I can also breathe underwater and even talk to sea animals. Horses too.”

 

Fury frowned slightly. “Horses?”

 

“My dad created them out of sea foam to try and win and be the patron god of Athens. But then Athena went and invented olives and for some reason they liked that better.”

 

“Mr. Jackson—”

 

“Just call me Percy.” The demigod told the director. “My father isn’t Mr. Jackson but hearing that just sounds weird.”

 

“Okay, Percy, I’m curious. This is the second time I’ve seen you wear that shirt.” He pointed at Percy’s CAMP HALF-BLOOD t-shirt. “What is Camp Half-Blood?”

 

Percy suddenly felt uncomfortable sitting in his chair. “Nothing really. Just a camp that I’ve gone to.”

 

Fury leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. “Percy, I’m interested in helping everyone, keeping the world safe and protected. I need you to tell me the truth. If you want, you don’t have to answer, but if Camp Half-Blood provides a danger to anyone, I need to know.”

 

“No one at Camp is a danger,” Percy assured. “It’s just a safe haven for demigods; a place for them to train and not have to worry about monsters hunting them down. If you’re worried about us trying to take over the mortal world or something, don’t.”

 

“Okay,” Fury leaned back put kept his hands on the table. “Okay. I just want to make sure. Can we continue?” At Percy’s nod, he asked, “What are the locations to the entrances of the underworld?”

 

“I’m sorry?” Percy said. “You want to know what now?”

 

“You heard me.”

 

“Pass.”

 

Fury sighed. “Fine. I suppose you won’t tell me the location of Olympus either?”

 

“Gods no,” Percy snorted. “I may not be the brightest, but I don’t want a death wish. My uncle would gladly kill me before that ever happened.”

 

“Just needed to ask.” Fury told Percy. “As I said before, you don’t have to answer questions you don’t want to. But,” he added. “it would be better for all of us if you were more forthcoming.

 

“One more question and I request that you answer this one, please.” Fury said, throwing in the please as an afterthought. “Is there anything that might warrant watching? Any threats?”

 

Percy thought for a second. There were several things he could mention, monsters for starters, but those weren’t the big problems. “Watch out for titans and giants. Most of them are still in Tartarus, the monster prison,” Percy explained. “but they just reform and come back. I don’t know how soon they would though after the wars.”

 

“What wars?”

 

Percy opened his mouth to start explaining about the war against Kronos and the one with Gaea, but a loud beeping noise stopped him. Fury seemed to tense as he pulled a phone out of his pocket. With a quick glance, he scowled. “Stark,” the director muttered with distaste before leaving the room.

 

Jumping up to join him, Percy followed Fury through the halls and into a lab were Tony and Bruce were sitting. Fury stormed into the room, Percy following just a couple steps behind. Tony and Bruce looked up as they entered. Fury stood in front of Tony who seemed to be watching a computer intently and not looking at Fury. “What are you doing, Mr. Stark?” The director asked.

 

“Uh...kind of been wondering the same thing about you.” Tony rebutted.

 

“You're supposed to be locating the Tesseract.”

 

“We are,” Bruce interjected. “The model's locked and we're sweeping for the signature now. When we get a hit, we'll have the location within half a mile.”

 

“And you'll get your cube back, no muss, no fuss,” Tony promised. Percy watched the billionaire frown as the computer beeped. “What is PHASE 2?”

 

There was a loud thud behind Percy. Steve had set down a large gun on the table, looking pissed. “PHASE 2 is SHIELD uses the cube to make weapons. Sorry, the computer was moving a little slow.”

 

Fury turned towards the captain. “Rogers, we gathered everything related to the Tesseract. This does not mean that we're...”

 

“I’m sorry, Nick.” Tony interrupted Fury, turning the computer around to show what seemed to be plans on building weapons. “What, were you lying?”

 

“And earlier you told me you wanted to help people.” Percy scoffed.

 

Right at that moment, Thor and Natasha walked into the lab. Banner turned to Natasha. “Did you know about this?”

 

“You wanna think about removing yourself from this environment, doctor?”

 

“I was in Calcutta, I was pretty well removed.”

 

“Loki's manipulating you,” Natasha told him.

 

“And you've been doing what exactly?”

 

“You didn't come here because I bat my eyelashes at you.”

 

“Yes, and I'm not leaving because suddenly you get a little twitchy.” Banner grabbed the computer and pointed to the weapon on the screen. “I'd like to know why SHIELD is using the Tesseract to build weapons of mass destruction.”

 

“Because of them.” Fury pointed at Thor and Percy. Percy’s eyebrows raised in shock.

 

“Wait, what?” Percy asked at the same time Thor asked, “Me?”

 

Fury sighed. “Last year, not only did earth have a visitor from another planet who had a grudge match that leveled a small town, but also learned about the existence of immortal gods whose affairs have started countless wars since forever. We learned that, not only are we alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously, outgunned.”

 

“My people want nothing but peace with your planet,” Thor said.

 

Percy stepped forward. “Mortals have gone for centuries without knowing about the existence of the Greek gods living among you and you’ve been fine. We take care of our problems.”

 

“But you're not the only people out there, are you? And, you're not the only threat. The world's filling up with people who can't be matched, they can't be controlled.”

 

“Like you controlled the cube?” Steve asked, clearly not believing Fury.

 

“Your work with the Tesseract is what drew Loki to it, and his allies,” Thor informed Fury. “It is the signal to all the realms that the earth is ready for a higher form of war.”

 

Steve frowned. “A higher form?”

 

“You forced our hand. We had to come up with something.” Fury tried to explain, but by that time it had all descended into chaos.

 

Tony argued, “Nuclear deterrent. Cause that always calms everything right down.”

 

“Remind me again how you made your fortune, Stark?”

 

“I’m sure if he still made—” Steve started saying before he was interrupted by Tony.

 

“—Wait! Wait! Hold on! How is—”

 

“—weapons, Stark would be neck—”

 

“—this now about me?”

 

“—deep… I’m sorry, isn’t everything?”

 

“I thought humans were more evolved than this,” Thor commented.

 

Percy whirled on Thor. “Oh, I’m sorry, but out of all of us, who’s the one blowing up other planets?

 

“Did you always give your champions such mistrust?” Thor questioned Fury, ignoring Percy’s remark.

 

Everyone started shouting over one another. At one point, it got too hard to tell who was saying what.

 

“You understand that—”

 

“I can’t believe—”

 

“Are you boys really that naive? SHIELD monitors potential threats.”

 

“Captain America is on threat watch?”

 

“We all are.”

 

“Just a little concern, Doctor.”

 

“You're on that list?”

 

“Stark, just one more word…”

 

“Threatened. I feel threatened.” Tony shouted loud enough for everyone to hear.

 

“Cool it, tin can.” Percy shot. “They just said that everyone in this room is on that list, including you.”

 

“My suit isn’t tin, it’s a titanium-gold alloy.”

 

“You speak of control, yet you court chaos.” Thor’s voice boomed.

 

“It’s his M.O., isn’t it? I mean, what are we, a team?” Bruce started ranting. “No, no, no. We’re a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We’re… we’re a time-bomb.”

 

“You need to step away.” Fury told Banner.

 

Tony threw his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Why shouldn’t the guy let off a little steam?”

 

“You know damn well why!” Steve pushed Tony’s hand away. “Back off!”

 

The two squared each other, turning face-to-face. There was a fire building in Steve’s eyes as everyone else turned to watch the showdown. “Oh, I’m starting to want you to make me.”

 

“Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?” Steve asked him.

 

Without missing a beat, Tony replied, “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”

 

Percy’s eyes bounced between the two fighting men. It was like watching a tennis match, serving the ball back and forth to each other.

 

“I know guys with none of that worth ten of you.” Steve took a small step forward. “Yeah, I’ve seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.”

 

“I think I would just cut the wire.”

 

Steve let out a small chuckle. “Always a way out… you know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero.”

 

“A hero? Like you?” Tony scoffed. “You’re a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle!”

 

Immediately there was a change in the air as the room grew tenser. Steve’s face grew tighter and his jaw clenched. “Put on the suit, let’s go a few rounds.”

 

Thor laughed. “You people are so petty… and tiny.”

 

“As opposed to looking like a hippie surfer.”

 

“Yeah, this is a tee…” Banner muttered.

 

“Agent Romanoff,” Fury started to order. “would you escort Dr. Banner back to his...”

 

“Where?” Banner asked. “You rented my room.”

 

“The cell was just in case...”

 

“In case you needed to kill me, but you can't! I know! I tried!”

 

Everyone turned to Banner at his confession. The doctor took a second to regain some of his breath. “I got low. I didn't see an end, so I put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out! So I moved on. I focused on helping other people. I was good, until you dragged me back into this freak show and put everyone here at risk!”

 

Banner was getting more and more upset. He looked at Romanoff, who for the first time that Percy had seen, actually looked unnerved. “You wanna know my secret, Agent Romanoff?” Banner asked the redhead. “You wanna know how I stay calm?”

 

Percy reached for Riptide as soon as the Doctor grabbed the scepter. Out of the corner of his eye, the demigod noticed Fury and Natasha reaching for their guns. “Let’s not do anything rash now,” Percy spoke. “Put the scepter down and we can all go home happy and in one piece.”

 

Banner looked down and noticed he was holding a glowing scepter. His grip loosened, but he didn’t drop it. Shocked, the doctor stared at the scepter in his hands.

 

The computer beeped, breaking the moment. Banner quickly put the scepter back on the table and made his way over to the computer. “Sorry, kids. You don’t get to see my party trick after all.”

 

“Located the Tesseract?”

 

“I can get there faster.”

 

“Look, all of us…”

 

“The Tesseract belongs on Asgard,” Thor said. “No human is a match for it.”

 

“That’s fine,” Percy agreed. “As long as no one else on your planet tries to use it to take our planet.”

 

Tony turned to leave, but Steve held out one of his hands to stop him. “You’re not going alone.”

 

“You gonna stop me?” Tony argued.

 

“Put on the suit, let's find out.”

 

“I'm not afraid to hit an old man.”

 

“This is stupid!” Percy shouted. Everyone turned towards him. “Look, none of us by ourselves can defeat Loki and whatever army he’s bringing. We can only do this if we work together.” Percy took a second to scan his eyes over the group. “I don’t care if you guys think that the others are lame, I don’t. You can butt heads later. All I care about is making sure that New York City is still standing tomorrow.”

 

Everyone was quiet. Steve’s head hung a little, like he was ashamed. Tony just stared at Percy, looking away when Percy made eye contact.

 

At that moment, Banner, who had been looking at the monitors, gasped and said “Oh, my god!”

 

The ship shook violently, and a big burst of fire came up from the vent underneath, throwing everyone in different directions. Percy landed hard on his back just a couple feet from where he had been standing originally. He was left winded, desperately gasping for air. The room was filled with smoke. Percy heard Steve from somewhere in the room yelling, “Put on the suit!”

 

The demigod pulled himself up just in time to see Tony and Steve run out of the room. Fury and Thor were still getting back up. Percy ran a quick scan of the room, not finding Natasha or Bruce.

 

“Styx,” Percy swore as he headed for the door.

Chapter Text

7 – I Know Exactly What I’m Doing (No I Don’t)

 

The Helicarrier was in full panic mode; emergency lights were flashing, and an alarm was going on from somewhere in the ship. Red lights flashed in the lab. Percy was almost out the door when Fury called him back.

 

“Jackson!”

 

“Back to last names, are we?”

 

Fury threw something small at Percy. The demigod caught the small piece and saw that it was an earpiece, like the kind that all the agents wore.

 

“Cool. Am I a spy now?” Percy asked as he fitted the device on his ear.

 

Fury shook his head. “If we can’t get the Helicarrier back up and running, we might need your help landing her in the water. Listen for the call.”

 

“I can do that.” He told the director before he was running out of the lab and down the hall towards his room. Agents ran past him, all hurrying to get to their positions to help stabilize the falling ship.

 

In the back of Percy’s mind, his own alarm bells were ringing. As soon as the explosion had hit the lab, he knew that Loki was the one behind it. Suddenly, his willingness to come along made sense.

 

The ship shook as it continued falling. Percy steadied himself against the wall. He was about to push himself off when he heard it—louder than any of the alarms, a roar so primal and angry and inhuman. A sound that made goosebumps rise along Percy’s arms.

 

With renewed energy, he pushed himself away from the hall and ran faster. Maybe it was just luck (he hadn’t had any of that in a while) or maybe he was finally getting the layout of the ship, but he was able to find his way back to his room. He threw on his breastplate and grabbed the shield before running back out of the room, fumbling with his straps as he ran towards Loki’s cell. Percy needed to check to see that the god was still there and hadn’t escaped and then he would go find whatever the Hades had made that hair-raising noise.

 

Except he didn’t know where Loki’s cell was. There were no signs advertising Evil Norse God this way. He was lost again.

 

Percy tapped the button on the side of his earpiece. “Testing, testing, one two three. Pirate?”

 

There was a small static sound before Fury’s voice joined in. “What?” He snapped.

 

“You never gave me a map.”

 

The demigod could hear Fury’s heavy sigh. “And that’s important how?”

 

“Because someone should be with Loki.” Percy explained. “to make sure he doesn’t get out.”

 

There was a small pause before Fury said, “Two lefts and down the stairs.”

 

The demigod took a sharp turn as he ran down the left hall. “Thanks.” He said to Fury, but there was no response from the director. Percy followed his instructions, taking another left before heading down the staircase until he found himself outside of Loki’s room.

 

He walked in, thankful to see the god sitting there on his small cot, looking bored, despite the chaos he had caused upon the ship. Loki only spared a quick glance at him. “I supposed one of you might come to check on me,” the god commented. “but I did not think that it would have been you. One of the smart ones, Stark or Banner.” A small grin spread across his face. “Although from what I heard, Dr. Banner is no longer available.”

 

Percy recalled the loud roar from earlier. Had that been the doctor? He had been so mild and calm earlier, and he definitely didn’t look capable of making a roar close to that. Then again, lots of things were possible. Greek gods, armies from outer space. Percy had also learned the hard way not to underestimate people. When Percy had first met Leo, for instance, the guy had looked like a small child hyped up on too much sugar that had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Of course, Leo still looked like a child from time to time, but now the son of Hephaestus had helped defeat Gaea, sacrificing himself and then coming back from the land of Hades.

 

The demigod walked along the catwalk and leaned against the rail. Facing Loki, he took Riptide out of his pocket and uncapped the pen. Causally, he started twirling it in his hand, loving the familiar feeling of having his trusty sword in his hand that he had missed. After a couple good twirls, he pointed the sword at Loki. “I hope I don’t have to tell you what this means.”

 

Loki recognized the threat being given to him by the demigod. “Oh, I have no intention of breaking out of this cell.” He said with a smirk. “But are you sure you want to waste your time watching me while I’m locked up when the real monster’s out there?”

 

As if on cue, Percy heard several gunshots followed by a bellowing roar. His fists tightened, and he gripped Riptide tighter. It’s a trick, he told himself. Don’t listen to Loki. He glanced over at Loki as the ground shook.

 

“I did say I wouldn’t break out,” Loki told him.

 

Percy laughed despite himself. “How am I supposed to believe that? You lie all the time.”

 

“Well I wouldn’t put it past me,” Loki admitted. “but if it means anything to you, I swear to not break out of this cell.”

 

The ground shook again, and Percy glanced over his shoulder towards where the roar was coming from. Was it worth the risk of leaving Loki by himself, giving him a chance to escape during an attack that Percy knew Loki was behind, just so he could go find the source of that roar? Loki had hinted at it being Dr. Banner who had roared, but Percy didn’t know how the mild-mannered doctor could produce such a sound. Could this be the ‘party trick’ he had mentioned earlier?

 

It only took him a couple seconds to decide. “Stay here.” He told Loki as he ran out of the room.

 

“I’m not a dog!” Loki yelled at Percy’s retreating back. Percy ignored the god and continued running. He pressed the button on his earpiece.

 

“Can someone get to Loki’s cell and watch him?” Percy requested over the comm. “We can’t let him escape.”

 

A familiar voice responded. “This is Agent Coulson. I’m heading to Loki’s location.”

 

Percy nodded before remembering that Coulson couldn’t see him. He was too used to Iris Messages. “Get there fast. Don’t want him alone for long.”

 

A loud crash came from down the hall. Percy entered what appeared to be a hanger room. People were running past him, desperate to escape the room and whatever was in there. He pushed past them to see Thor and oh gods.

 

It was the large green beast from the packet. And gods it was huge. Percy felt his breath catch a little at the hulking monster that was getting up and facing Thor. The son of Poseidon watched as the green beast looked over at him, noticing Riptide in Percy’s hand. The demigod leaped out of the way of the charging monster. It roared at Percy and the demigod hesitated when he realized what, or who this monster was.

 

“I think you and I have very different definitions of party, Doctor,” Percy whispered as he stared wide-eyed at the former doctor.

 

The small hesitation was all that Hulk needed. He took a swing, boxer style. If Thor hadn’t jumped in and grabbed the Hulk’s fist, Percy would’ve gone flying. Thor strained against the Hulk’s strength. Percy shook his head, clearing it, before shoving Riptide in his pocket and rushed to grab the other first that Hulk was winding up to hit Thor.

 

“We are not your enemies, Banner!” Thor shouted over Hulk’s harsh breathing. “Try to think!”

 

Hulk lifted his fists, taking Percy and Thor with them, lifting the two off the floor. They shared a look of horror before Hulk tossed them aside like rag dolls. Percy slid on the ground, coming to a stop in front of one of the planes. He scrambled to his feet as Hulk let out another roar.

 

Taking a brisk glance, he spotted Thor a couple of feet away. He was kneeling, hand outstretched. Percy didn’t take too much time wondering what Thor was doing. He had other things to worry about. Like an eight-foot-tall angry and green doctor running right at him.

 

Percy let his instincts lead him (which admittedly have never been that great in the past). He ran towards Hulk. The Hulk grinned at the sight of a challenger. Percy kept running closer, until the very last second when he slid baseball style under the Hulk’s legs. The Hulk slowed and looked around, confused as to where its target had just gone. It gave Percy all the time he needed to jump on the Hulk’s back and wrap his arms around Hulk’s throat.

 

At this point, Percy thought, as he held onto the Hulk as he thrashed around trying to reach around and grab Percy, if the whole superhero business didn’t go well, he could maybe make a living bull riding since that seemed to be a pretty common occurrence to the demigod. He tried to steer the Hulk away from Thor until he was done doing… whatever he was doing.

 

Percy saw Thor’s hammer fly into his hand. As soon as he saw the hammer, Percy started working on a plan, becoming distracted enough that he didn’t even notice the Hulk reaching out to grab him until it was too late.

 

The Hulk smiled victoriously at Percy. Just before the angry green doctor could do anything, Percy shouted, “Thor, throw it!”

 

A confused look crossed Hulk’s face as he turned to Thor. He ended up getting a face full of Thor’s hammer, letting go of Percy as he went flying back into one of the fighter jets. Percy wobbled on his landing but straightened himself up. Thor called his hammer back to him as Percy thought about pulling out Riptide. He was unsure of whether to use it on the turned doctor, not certain on how the doctor would feel after switching back.

 

Across from them, the Hulk was already back up and tearing off a piece of the plane to throw at them. Percy ducked down, barely missing the flying plane part. The plane part passed close enough to Percy for him to feel the breeze as it passed overhead. Gathering himself, he jumped back up as soon as he heard the loud crash of the plane part hitting the wall behind him.

 

Percy needed to act fast. The demigod glanced around frantically. Thor was already back up and rearing his arm back to throw his hammer. Like slow-motion, Percy watched as the Hulk tried to grab the hammer, only to be dragged behind like Percy had the night before. The Hulk landed on the floor, dazed, and Percy saw an opportunity. While Hulk started struggling with the impossibly heavy hammer, Percy managed to pull Thor back from pounding on the giant green beast.

 

“We need a plan,” Percy told Thor. “If I knew what made him like this, then I could come up with a counter-idea maybe. But the best we can do for now is subdue him. Can you do that?”

 

Thor nodded and Percy noticed that the god was bleeding a little. While he certainly felt tired, bruised, and sore, he didn’t have any open cuts. He was definitely fairing better than he had the night before.

 

The duo took back to fighting the Hulk, who was still struggling to pick the hammer that hadn’t budged an inch. By now, the Hulk’s feet had managed to dig deep into the flooring of the ship.

 

Percy stood on one side of the Hulk while Thor stood on the other side. Hulk slowly took notice of them. He looked up from the hammer, letting it go, and gazed at the two, flicking his head back and forth between the two.

 

Thor made eye contact with Percy, who gave just a subtle nod. In a split-second Thor was running towards Hulk, jumping on his back like he had seen Percy do earlier. He called his hammer to his hand and used it to help him keep the Hulk from bucking him off. Percy narrowly dodged one of Hulk’s flailing hands as the doctor attempted to get Thor off his back. He seemed to have learned from last time. Very soon after Thor had jumped atop him, the Hulk leaped up, hitting the ceiling and going through.

 

Dust and debris flew back down at Percy. “Okay. New plan.” He told himself. The son of Poseidon knew he couldn’t jump that high, but with the big shipping crates nearby, Percy figured he could use those to climb through the new hole in the ceiling.

 

He scrambled over and quickly scaled the boxes. Percy could hear thuds and crashes from up above him. Standing on four of the crates, he could easily reach and grab the edge of the hole. Percy wasted no time in pulling himself up.

 

As soon as he got up onto the floor, he watched Thor go flying past him. The Hulk growled once he noticed Percy. The demigod reached into his pocket and wrapped his hand around Riptide. With a roar, the Hulk started towards Percy.

 

There was a small second where everything slowed. Percy felt his heart slow a little, and his head cleared as the Hulk got closer. The Helicarrier’s alarm and other noises faded. For a second, Percy was in the midst of a battle and he loved it. He wondered how he could have ever left this behind.

 

Then the bullets started.

 

Percy quickly dove for shelter behind one of the desks. He was shortly joined by Thor, who had his arms above his head to protect him from the falling shards of glass. Percy didn’t look around the desk to watch what was happening. The only thing he knew was that the Hulk roared and suddenly the bullets stopped.

 

When the bullets had been done for a couple seconds, Percy cautiously peered around the side. There was a huge gaping hole in the window, where just outside he could see the Hulk tearing a fighter jet to pieces.

 

Thor gingerly picked himself, brushing off some of the glass shards. “Where’s Banner?” He asked, looking around for any sign of the green beast.

 

“I think,” Percy stated. “he needed some fresh air.” He gestured to the broken window. “Let’s just hope he’s okay after all this.”

 

Thor nodded. “Do not worry, Perseus. I am sure that Banner will turn out fine.”

 

“Please, it’s Percy,” The demigod told the blond god. “And before something else pops up, I already sent Coulson towards Loki, but you better hurry over there. You’re the best person, or god, to take care of your brother.”

 

“Thank you, Percy.” Thor gave him a small wave before turning around and running away. Percy stood there for a second, watching the god run off, before he the ship shuddered again and started to tilt. The demigod fell onto the floor and started sliding towards the broken window.

 

“Fury?” Percy yelled through the comm. “Fury? Is this the call? Hello?” The comm remained silent. Percy tried planting his feet on the ground, but his shoe slipped. Riptide had slipped through his grasp and Percy had watched it go through the window. He wasn’t too far from the window at this point, and he could see the sea glittering under Apollo’s rays.

 

Percy braced himself, closing his eyes and covering his face from the flying glass shards. There was a brief second where the demigod could still feel the ground under him before he was surrounded by nothing.

 

The wind roared in Percy’s ears. His breath was ripped from him as he fell. Above him, Percy watched as the Helicarrier grew farther from him. It was the first time Percy could see just how huge the flying ship was. The ship was bigger than the Argo II, a ship so big it had been able to hold the Athena Parthenos (albeit with some rather tight fits).

 

His eye was drawn to one of the propellers. Smoke was billowing out from it. Out of nowhere, a giant piece of metal fell from the propeller. Percy could see a red blur flying around, and realized it was Tony in his suit. The demigod also guessed that the Captain was also somewhere up there, since the two had run off together when the attack had first begun.

 

Looking back down at the fast approaching ocean, Percy knew he could use the water to propel himself back up to the craft. The water’s surface was close, probably less than 50 yards away. Percy reached out for the water, feeling a tightening in his gut.

 

A huge spout of water shot upwards, grabbing Percy and carried him back towards the Helicarrier. The water wrapped around Percy, creating a cocoon around the demigod.

 

It didn’t take long to get back up to the Helicarrier. The water shot past Percy as he tumbled onto the broken wing, steam evaporating around him as the water came into contact with the heat of the wing.  He could see through a few gaps in the wing and noted Cap rushing around below.

 

"You need any help down there?" He called as the plane shook, sending him through the gap to land at Steve's feet.

 

Steve quickly glanced at Percy. “Yeah. See that lever?” He pointed toward a red lever on the other side of the broken wing. “Pull it when Stark says. I’ll deal with these guys.” He gestured to the three men piling through the hole in the side of the aircraft.

 

Percy looked at the huge gap between him and the lever. “Got it.” Looking around, he noticed a damaged ladder. Percy did a quick check on the ladder, pulling down on it as hard as he could, before launching himself up. The ladder squeaked and groaned under Percy’s weight, but supported him long enough for him to get up to the next level.

 

It was easy enough from there to just walk along the catwalk to the area above the lever before he could just drop down in front of it and wait for Tony’s word. The sound of gunfire however brought Percy to a halt and had him crouching for cover. Carefully, Percy peeked over the edge just in time to watch Cap punch the shooter off the ship. The demigod gave Steve a thumbs-up before running to the other side, eager to avoid any more shooting.

 

Lowering himself from the catwalk to the platform below proved to be easy. Percy stood waiting by the lever when he heard Steve cry out. He turned just in time to see Steve slip off the edge of the platform. For a second, Percy thought that he was about to lose him until Cap managed to grab a loose piece of the ship.

 

It held, and Cap dangled from the side of the ship. Percy started heading for him when Tony’s voice came over the comm. “Cap, I need the lever!”

 

“Go!” Steve managed to shout. “I’m fine.”

 

Percy glanced at the captain one last time before running over to the lever and cranking it. The sound of gunfire returned, and Percy noticed the gunman down on the platform beneath him. From the height and angle Percy was at, there was no clear way to hit the man without turning into swiss cheese.

 

The sound of repulsors grew loud and Tony flew by, the bullets ricocheting off the metal armor. Tony slammed into the guy and tackled him into the wall, knocking the guy out. Percy stood up, looking over at Cap who had pulled himself up back onto the ship.

 

“Everyone good?” Percy asked. There was no answer, just a sigh from Steve and Tony who just rolled off the unconscious man’s body and laid on the ground. “I’ll take this as a yes.”

 

A couple minutes passed while the three waited, catching their breath. The attack seemed to be over. Percy had just started to relax as the ship turned eerily quiet, the engines humming in an odd but stable pattern, when Fury's voice cut through the silence from the comms.

 

“Agent Coulson is down.”

 

Percy tensed at Fury’s words. Other voices started flooding the comm.

 

“Paramedics are on their way.” One person said.

 

“They're here.” Fury responded. There was a brief silence and in those few seconds, Percy’s heart dropped.

 

“They called it.”

 

Chapter Text

 

8 – This is the Sad Part

 

Percy replayed the story that Fury had told them over in his head. Apparently, not only did Loki's fancy scepter open portals, but it also controlled minds. Some of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s own agents under its influence had struck the ship. In the end, they had managed to lose Loki and his scepter, Banner, Thor (who had fallen in the glass cell that had used to host Loki), and most devastating, Agent Coulson who had died at the hands of Loki.

 

To say he was shocked would be an understatement. There were so many emotions swirling around inside of Percy like a hurricane. Frustration, humiliation, guilt…

 

Sure, Percy didn't know Agent Coulson that well. He didn't even know that his first name was Phil until the director had told him. But no one should've died. No one.

 

The son of Poseidon just stared down in his lap, fiddling with his pen. On one side of Percy, Tony sat with a blank face and glazed eyes, body turned away from the table. From what Percy could remember, the two had been friends. Percy had lost many friends of his own through the years, and each death was always a punch to the gut, leaving him lost and numb.

 

On Percy's other side was Steve. The super soldier has been silent since Fury announced Coulson's death, his jaw clenched tight and his hands hidden under the table where Percy guessed they were curled into fists. Percy wasn't sure how well the Captain and Coulson had known each other, but it was clear to Percy that Steve was just as distraught as everyone else.

 

In front of the table stood Fury. His face seemed to have age, becoming tired and worn. With a heavy sigh, he reached into his coat's pocket and pulled something out. "These were in Phil Coulson's jacket. Guess he never did get you to sign them."

 

He tossed a pack of cards onto the table. Steve reached for the top card. Percy noted that the top corner of the card was stained with blood. He looked away from the cards and back down on Riptide.

 

"We're dead in the air up here." Fury told them. "Our communications, location of the cube, Banner, Thor. I got nothing for you. Lost my one good eye. Maybe I had that coming." Fury's eyes swept over the table.

 

"Yes, we were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract." The director admitted. "I never put all my chips on that number though, because I was playing something even riskier. There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avenger Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could."

 

Percy let his eyes drift back up slowly. Fury had moved from the front of the table to behind one of the empty chairs. The two quickly met eyes, and Percy felt himself trapped as the director studied him.

 

After a brief pause, Fury sighed and stood up straight. "Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea." He tried to make eye contact with each of the three men, only which of two he caught their gaze. When Fury met Percy's eyes, he was able to see just how tired the director was. How heavy his shoulders seemed to be, burdened with the weight of Coulson's death. "In heroes."

 

Tony swiftly stood up and left. Percy watched him leave, his now empty chair spinning slowly. Fury walked to stand next to Percy, his eyes focused on the doorway that Tony had just left through. "Well, it's an old-fashioned notion."

 

Percy snapped. He stood up so that he was eye-to-eye with the director. Jaw clenched so hard that his teeth started aching, he stared Fury down. The director met his gaze. After a few seconds, Percy spoke up, his voice as soft as a whisper that only Fury could hear him.

 

"Don't say that. Don't act like there's nothing to fight for anymore. Coulson died a hero. We should honor that. Honor him."

 

Percy didn't give Fury a chance to respond. He turned on his heel and stormed out of the room.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy figured there were one of two spots that Tony would run to. The first would be his room, but as it was empty, Percy headed to spot number two.

 

He entered the cell room. The large green glass cell that had once housed Loki was gone, leaving a big gaping hole in the middle of the room. Percy slowly walked around the catwalk, closer to Tony. The man was staring blankly in the center of the room, eyeing the empty space.

 

"I'm sorry," Percy spoke up. "I know he was a friend."

 

"He was." Tony took a deep breath. "He was an idiot too. Thinking he could take on Loki by himself."

 

"I asked him to," Percy admitted. "I asked for someone to come watch Loki while I went and tried to help Thor tame Banner." He let out a bitter laugh. "Lot of good that did…"

 

"He should've waited." Tony insisted. "He was out of his league."

 

"Everyone else was busy. Who was he supposed to wait for? You?" Percy asked. Tony turned around to face the demigod and he noticed the anger on Percy's face. "You were busy with the engine. There's nothing you could've done."

 

The room fell silent. Percy stared at Tony, waiting for him to say something. When the billionaire said nothing, Percy let out a sigh. "If…if it's any consolation, I do know that his actions more than likely earned him a spot in Elysium. Paradise, for heroes." He added when he saw Tony's blank face. "All we can do now is honor his memory and stop Loki."

 

Tony pushed past Percy and marched down the catwalk. "And how are we gonna do that?" He asked. "Half of our team is gone, we just got our butts whipped. How are we supposed to take down an army when we can't even stop fighting for five minutes?" Tony stopped in front of a large stain on the wall, staring intently at it.

 

Percy recognized it as blood instantly.

 

"He made it personal," Tony muttered, almost too quiet for Percy to hear.

 

The demigod paused, recalling the prophecy Rachael had given. The words played like a broken record over and over in his head. Dark as night… final fight…charged to protect… all must end in blazing pain.

 

Percy shook his head, trying to clear it. The prophecy had to mean something. There had to be a hidden meaning somewhere. His mind wandered to the other aspects of the dream; his and Loki's talk, the Chitauri, Rachael's sketch…

 

Wait.

 

"I know where Loki's next move is!" Percy shouted, startling Tony. The demigod ran over to the billionaire. Tony lifted his eyebrow, waiting for Percy to elaborate. "Your tower," Percy explained. "I saw it in a sketch. Rachael, our oracle, drew it, I just didn't remember because the prophecy was more pressing at the moment."

 

There was a small silence while Tony absorbed what Percy had just said. When realization finally dawned on him, he asked the demigod, "You mean that antler-wearing-diva is planning to use my tower as his source of energy? Son of a bitch!"

 

\~*~/

 

Percy fished around in his bag, searching for a drachma. As soon as he found one, he headed to the bathroom, where the shower was already running and waiting for him.

 

As soon as Percy and Tony had realized Loki's next move, they left to go find Steve, who had actually been on his way to see them. Together, the three had devised a strategy to take down Loki. Now Percy stood in the bathroom, armor on and ready for battle. He was supposed to meet the others at the Quinjet in five minutes so they could fly to New York City.

 

There was only one thing left he had to do.

 

"O Fleecy, do me a solid. Show me Sally Jackson, Upper East Side, Manhattan."

 

The first thing Percy heard was laughter. There was a shimmer in the rainbow as it revealed Sally's living room. Percy saw Annabeth sitting on one of the chairs, her head tossed back in laughter. Sitting on the couch opposite of her were Sally and Paul. Sally had a big smile on her face as she stared at Estelle, who was sitting on the ground in front of them, surrounded by her toys.

 

Percy's lips curved into a smile. He loved little moments like this, where everything melted away. It was nice to not worry about space armies, or egotistical gods trying to take over the world.

 

His smile dropped a little as he realized he was running out of time. "Mom?" He called out.

 

Sally's eyes turned to him, widening in surprise. "Percy!" She smiled.

 

Annabeth turned towards him, her curly blonde hair falling in her face. She noticed the battle armor and her smile dropped. Percy noticed the slight tilt of her head as she started trying to analyze the situation. "Why are you wearing armor? What's happening?"

 

"There was an attack, Loki escaped." Percy rushed to get his explanation out. "We know he's heading your way. You need to leave now."

 

Paul scooped Estelle off the floor and brought her close to his chest. "I'm on it."

 

Percy nodded. "I don't want you guys taking any risks. Head to Montauk for the weekend or something."

 

"But what about you?" Sally asked, concern written on her face. "I can't just leave knowing that you're going to be in danger."

 

"I'll stay," Annabeth spoke up.

 

Percy shook his head fiercely. "No." He stated. It wasn't even an option to him. He crossed his arms, unwilling to change his mind. "Annabeth, you need to go too. This isn't a debate."

 

Annabeth stood up and walked to stand in front of the IM. "We're not having this fight again Percy. I don't want to fight with you." She pleaded. "Remember before you left? We were arguing about the same thing."

 

"I don't either want to fight with you either," Percy confessed. He sighed, knowing that the clock was ticking. He needed to wrap this up. Running a hand through his hair, he tried to come up with a quick solution.

 

"We can handle ourselves, son," Sally told him. "We'll… head to Montauk," she said slowly, looking over at Paul for confirmation. "Annabeth's needed here more than there."

 

"Besides," Annabeth piped in with a small smile. "You need someone watching your back. I know you're unhappy with the idea of me staying, but… I can help evacuate civilians!" She offered.

 

Percy thought about the idea. After a brief silence, he slowly nodded his head. "Okay. Don't draw unwanted attention," he advised. Annabeth nodded as she turned to start preparing. "And stay safe!"

 

Annabeth turned back towards him. "You too, Seaweed Brain."

 

She cut through the IM and Percy leaned against the wall, the events of the day finally catching up. His body was tired, and his arms were heavy. He wanted to stay there for a while, but he knew he had to go. Making sure to grab his helmet, he took one last sweep of the room, trying to make sure he had everything he needed, before leaving.

 

Percy jogged through the halls to try and make up for the time he had spent talking to Annabeth and his family. His armor clanked and his shield made his heavy arms even heavier, but he trudged on.

 

Eventually, he rounded the corner and entered the hangar bay. Straight up ahead he could see Steve's distinctive blue suit. Slowing down, he neared the group. "I'm here," he said.

 

"You're late," Tony told him before turning his attention back to his suit, making final adjustments.

 

Percy took a quick glance at the group. He had seen Tony and Cap's suits before, but he noticed that Natasha was in a new leather suit and had some cool looking gadgets on her belt and wrists. She was checking her guns and talking to a man Percy hadn't seen before. The man was tall with blond hair and had a quiver stocked full of arrows strapped to his back.

 

"Who's this?" Percy shrugged towards the new guy.

 

The man turned towards him, and Percy saw the light reflect on something small in the man's ear. "Hey, I'm Clint."

 

The guy, Clint, held out his hand for Percy to shake. "Nice to meet you," Percy said taking his hand. "I'm Percy…so are you new here?"

 

"He was one of the agents under Loki's mind-control," Natasha informed him as she strolled into the Quinjet, Steve following close behind her. "He's part of the team."

 

"Ah…got it, I think," Percy muttered as he climbed the Quinjet. He took a seat on the bench, wishing that there were some form of seat belts. Didn't the place pride in safety for everyone?

 

The ramp door closed, and Clint moved up to the cockpit with Natasha while Steve took a seat opposite of Percy. "We're not too far from New York," Steve reassured Percy. "It should only take us fifteen minutes to get there."

 

"That's fifteen minutes too long," Percy muttered.

 

He set his helmet down next to him and tried to get comfortable. The demigod could hear the familiar sound of Tony's repulsors firing up before he took off, the Quinjet following close behind as they made their way to New York City.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy realized that Tony had reached the tower when he heard the billionaire talking to a Dr. Selvig. Listening to Tony talk to his AI, the son of Poseidon grabbed his helmet and placed it on his head. He saw Steve also gearing himself up, strapping on his own shield. There was a small pause and Percy figured that Tony was making his way inside the tower.

 

"Please tell me you're going to appeal to my humanity."

 

Loki's voice came through the comm. Percy could imagine the god, with his smug smile and that condescending look in his eyes as he stared down Tony.

 

"Uh...actually, I'm planning to threaten you," Tony informed the god.

 

"You should have left your armor on for that."

 

"Yeah, it's seen a bit of mileage. You've got the blue stick of destiny. Would you like a drink?"

 

Percy concluded that Tony Stark was either ADHD or just really good at evasive tactics. With an anxious glance into the cockpit, Percy hoped that Tony could keep Loki busy until the Quinjet arrived to help.

 

"Stalling me won't change anything."

 

"No, no, no! Threatening." Tony corrected. "No drink? You sure? I'm having one."

 

"The Chitauri are coming," Loki told Tony. Percy, still miles from where the words had actually been spoken, felt a slight chill run down his spine and the image from his dream entered his head. "Nothing will change that. What have I to fear?"

 

"The Avengers." The billionaire answered. "It's what we call ourselves, sort of like a team. 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes' type of thing."

 

"Yes, I've met them."

 

"Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, I'll give you that one. But, let's do a head count here. Your brother, a literal god; a super soldier, a living legend that kinda lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a Greek demigod who holds true to his namesake; a couple master assassins and you, big fella, you've managed to piss off every single one of them."

 

"That was the plan," Loki said. He sounded confident, so sure of himself. Percy couldn't wait for the opportunity to change that.

 

"Not a great plan. When they come, and they will, they'll come for you."

 

"I have an army."

 

"We have a hulk."

 

"I thought the beast had wandered off?"

 

"You're missing the point." Tony's voice rose, getting louder. "There's no throne, there is no version of this, where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it's too much for us, but it's all on you. Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it."

 

There was a small pause and Percy hated how he couldn't see what was happening. And then Loki spoke, sounding much closer to Tony. "How will your friends have time for me, when they're so busy fighting you?"

 

"No!" Percy shouted. Across from him, Cap sat with the same wide eyes and shocked expression. A cold feeling stirred inside Percy. How could they have been so stupid to not realize what Loki could do? Now they had lost Tony to Loki, and with them down Thor, the only other flying member of their team, they stood very little chance—

 

"It should work." Loki's voice came through, confusion lacing his words.

 

The cold feeling left Percy's body as he slumped back in his seat. 'It didn't work' he thought, relieved.

 

"Well, performance issues. You know, not uncommon. One out of five, I would—" Tony cut off as a large thud noise occurred. Percy could hear Tony talking to JARVIS, his voice sounding rough.

 

Tony made a guttural sound like he was being choked. "You will all fall before me." Loki stated through Tony's harsh breathing and yelling of 'deploy' before the sound of glass breaking and wind filled the comm. Percy figured that Tony had been thrown out of his window. He waited with bated breath for the roaring wind to stop, for Tony to miraculously stop falling. It took a couple seconds, but finally, Percy could hear the thrusters of Tony's Iron Man suit.

 

"And there's one other person you pissed off!" Tony yelled over the sounds of the thrusters. "His name was Phil." A blast sound followed by a cry from Loki made Percy smile a little. The smile did not last long, however.

 

A great boom sound filled the air. Percy didn't even need the comm to be able to hear it from inside the plane. Needing to see what was happening, Percy stood up and headed into the cockpit.

 

Just up ahead was the island of Manhattan. The familiar skyline brought come comfort to Percy before it was wiped away by a huge portal that was only growing larger by the second right above the city. It was just like the sketch Rachael had drawn.

 

Then to top it all off, something came through the portal. At first, it was just the one, then a couple, quickly growing to a huge mass of flying aliens. Percy could faintly see Tony flying up in his suit to meet them. He was able to knock a couple down, but they were coming through too quickly for Tony to be able to stop them all.

 

Pretty soon, they started shooting at people, no doubt causing mass panic among the population of New York. The demigod could see some smoke start to rise from the streets. Flying high over the buildings. the Quinjet made its way to STARK Tower.

 

"You know, Loki isn't being low-key," Percy commented as a group of aliens on flying scooters flew after Tony.

 

"If I could shoot you right now, I would," Natasha told him, her voice calm and collected for what was happening. "Stark, we're heading northeast."

 

"What, did you stop for drive-thru? Swing up Park, I'm gonna lay 'em out for you."

 

Up ahead, Tony flew by with his Chitauri entourage close behind. Clint used the Quinjet's gun to shoot down some of the invaders. Percy grabbed onto the back of Natasha's seat as she steered the jet upwards.

 

A queasy feeling entered Percy's stomach and he felt the need to sit. Making his way to the back, he gripped onto the rail tightly as the Quinjet made a sudden turn.

 

"You hanging in there?" Percy heard Steve ask.

 

The demigod waved his free hand dismissively. "Yeah, as soon as we land—"

 

He never got to finish his sentence as Clint and Natasha both grunted as the ship shuddered and started to spin. Percy's heart dropped when he realized that the plane was descending. His feet lifted off the floor of the plane. The son of Poseidon clamped his eyes shut and gripped the rails so hard his knuckles turned white.

 

There was a rumble and the jet shook as it landed on the ground. Percy's feet fell back on the floor and he became aware of his own harsh breathing and rapid heartbeat. When he heard the sound of the ramp being lowered, he loosened his grip on the bar and took a couple of deep breaths. Once he gathered himself, he joined Steve, Natasha, and Clint outside the plane.

 

It was chaos. People ran by screaming, desperately trying to run away from the massive crowd of aliens flying overhead on hovering bikes, shooting at anything that moved. Just up ahead was STARK Tower, now missing its R and K.

 

"We gotta get back up there," Cap shouted over all the noise.

 

Percy took off running with the group as they started making their way back to Stark's tower.

 

 

Chapter Text

9 – Not all Heroes Wear Capes (Just tight Spandex)

 

Percy ran through the road, weaving in and out of abandoned cars that had been overturned and were on fire. A loud siren rang through the city. Chitauri flew overhead, taking aim at shop windows and people who ran past the demigod, screaming.

 

He, Cap, Natasha, and Clint ran up Park Avenue, where STARK Tower stood high behind Grand Central Terminal. It was impressive, Percy admitted, with its sleek design and clean energy plan, but he would never admit that to the billionaire, whose ego already seemed inflated enough if the huge lettering of STARK plastered on the building was any indication.

 

A deep, primal roar came from the portal, echoing off the buildings. The small group skidded to a stop. Percy craned his neck so that he was looking right above him, where the portal hung over their heads. He brought a hand up to his face trying to block the sun. Inside the blackness of the portal, it was hard to make out much, but the demigod could’ve sworn he saw something massive move.

 

Then it emerged.

 

The son of Poseidon’s jaw slacked, watching as the humongous alien-whale hybrid flew down from out of the portal. It let out an ear-piercing screech as it made its way down towards the city. Percy couldn’t help but feel way out of his element, standing in the middle of New York City with an army of aliens flying around him, with nothing to fight them with other than a sword and shield.

 

The space-whale flew down over the Terminal, flying so low that it smashed the statue of Mercury into pieces. Percy got a flashback from the last time he had fought a battle in the city, where Annabeth and he had used the statues to help aid them.

 

There’s an idea, Percy thought. He wondered if the statues would still work, or if it was a one-use thing. But, if he could get them to activate, then the statues could help get the civilians to safety.

 

He was brought out of his thoughts when the space-whale started dispensing Chitauri who latched onto the sides of the buildings. Percy figured that the space-whale has to be carrying over a hundred Chitauri. If too many of those came through the portal, then they’d have a very big problem.

 

The Chitauri on the buildings started shooting. People below screamed as they ran for cover from the hailstorm of energy.

 

“Stark, are you seeing this?” Cap asked.

 

“I'm seeing, still working on believing.” Tony’s voice came through. “Where's Banner? Has he shown up yet?”

 

Cap frowned as he surveyed the area around them. “Banner?”

 

“Just keep me posted,” Tony asked before leaving.

 

Just then, Percy caught sight of Loki. He was flying on one of the alien scooters with a group behind him, setting off a chain of explosions as they flew down the street. Percy watched as one car narrowly missed a woman as she ran as fast as she could to escape the attack.

 

“Those people need assistance down there,” Cap informed. Next to him, Natasha pulled out both of her guns and started firing, picking off Chitauri like ducks at a shooting booth.

 

“We got this.” She told Cap. “It's good. Go!”

 

Steve turned to Clint. “You think you can hold them off?”

 

“Captain.” Clint pulled a trigger on his bow, and Percy watched as an arrow was mechanically chosen before the archer loaded it in his bow. “It would be my genuine pleasure.” He then proceeded to shoot the arrow into a Chitauri’s head, exploding the alien.

 

Cap took the moment to gain a head start, running away from them and to the people in danger. Percy also took off, running in the opposite direction from Cap, towards a motorcycle that had been abandoned from the fighting. Quickly making sure it worked, he sped off, looking for any close statue that hadn’t been smashed to pieces already.

 

He zoomed between cars, picking up speed as the seconds passed. Careening onto Madison Avenue, the demigod kept his eyes open, scanning for a statue he could awaken. Nearing the intersection of thirty-seventh street, his eyes caught sight of a bronze sculpture.

 

Percy pulled over, jumping off the bike and running to the undamaged statue. The bronze man was sitting on a park bench with a chessboard lying next to him. There was also a simple cane he held in his left hand. Percy could remember seeing the statue before, but never really paying close attention to it.

 

Suddenly he realized he had no clue what to look for. He started looking around the bench that the person was sitting on, trying to look for anything that might activate it. He checked on the chess board, the man’s body, and the bench. Finally, the demigod spotted it on the side of the cane; the Ancient Greek Delta.

 

Daedalus’s symbol.

 

Percy pressed his finger to the delta symbol. It softly glowed blue. He took a step back, trying to remember how Annabeth had activated the first statue. “Uh, hey there… Jan.”

 

The statue didn’t respond. Jan’s stone face looked unimpressed with Percy. The demigod tried again. “Er, command sequence: Daedalus Twenty-three. Protect people and kill aliens. Begin Activation.”

 

Jan stood up, abandoning his game of chess and ran off. Percy hoped that he would wake other the statues. He started heading back to the motorcycle when he heard a kid scream.

 

Percy took off running in the direction of the scream. Up ahead, he saw a group of three Chitauri surrounding a young boy and his mother. Rage flooded Percy. Reaching into his pocket, he drew Riptide. The bronze sword grew to its full three feet.

 

“Hey, ETs!” Percy shouted, drawing the Chitauri’s attention. “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

 

The Chitauri’s turned around to face him fully, forgetting about the son and mother. They slowly started walking away from the family, advancing towards Percy. The son of Poseidon gripped his blade tighter and readied himself to fight.

 

With one swipe, his sword sliced through the Chitauri, its body collapsing. The other two aliens held up their weapons. Percy moved to stand in front of the mother and boy, pushing them back.

 

“Go hide,” Percy instructed. “Don’t move until I come back.”

 

The two ran into the building behind them, leaving Percy alone with the aliens. One of the Chitauri lunged at Percy. The son of Poseidon grabbed the shaft of the alien’s weapon and pushed it down, effectively knocking it out of the Chitauri’s grasp. Percy then swung his sword.

 

The blade cut through the alien like it was butter. Percy grimaced at the black blood that clung to his sword. He realized how lucky demigods were, not having to clean up or hide the bodies of the monsters they killed.

 

The other Chitauri roared at Percy, apparently angry at the demigod for cutting his friend in half. Percy lunged forward. The Chitauri deflected his swing and charged up its gun. Percy swiftly dodged the blast and the bolt hit the building.

 

The bolt shook the building, causing chunks of concrete fall from above. Percy lifted his shield to protect him from the falling stones. They clanged against the metal, sending jolts up Percy’s arm every time one hit the shield. When the small hail storm finished, Percy found the Chitauri hoisting its blaster, getting ready to fire.

 

Percy threw his sword. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the smartest move, considering how terrible Percy’s aim was (Chiron still wouldn’t come near him when the demigod had a bow in his hand). But he wasn’t sure if his shield would’ve been able to take the damage.

 

True enough, Riptide sailed past the Chitauri. However, it did grab the alien’s attention enough to take his eyes off Percy for a couple seconds.

 

And that was all he needed.

 

The demigod ran at the Chitauri. He managed to get a hold on the gun and ripped it away from the alien. Now weaponless, the alien swung its arm to punch Percy.

 

The Chitauri’s fist connected with the side of Percy’s helmet. Percy stumbled backward. There was a faint ringing in his ear as he quickly backed away from the alien.

 

His foot hit something. Looking down, he saw the Chitauri’s gun which he had thrown. Percy swiftly bent down and grabbed it. There wasn’t a trigger, like a normal gun, but rather a series of four buttons.

 

“Oh, come on,” Percy muttered as he tried to figure out how to shoot the gun. Taking a quick glance at the Chitauri, he saw it walking closer, only a couple feet away. Percy figured, screw it, and pressed all four buttons.

 

A blue bolt shot out the other end and hit the Chitauri. The alien exploded, going up in a small burst of fire. Percy could feel the heat from the blast. He turned away from the dead aliens and dropped the gun, running into the building.

 

His footsteps echoed on the marble floor. He looked around for any sign of where the mother and son might’ve run off to hide. “It’s all right now,” he called out. “They’re gone. You can come out.”

 

There was a small shuffle from one of the back rooms. Small eyes stared at him. Percy gave the boy a small wave, trying to ease the boy’s fright. The mom appeared, grabbing the little boy’s hand and pulling him out.

 

“Thank you!” The mom cried. “Thank you so, so much!”

 

Percy stiffened slightly when the woman suddenly brought him in for a hug, but relaxed when he heard her sobs. His eyes drifted down to the boy, who was still staring at him.

 

A loud bang from outside the bank had Percy on alert. He gently pried the crying woman away from him. His hand wandered down to his pocket, where he drew out his pen, uncapping the sword. “I’ll get you guys out of here, just follow me.”

 

Percy peered out the door, making sure the coast was clear, before beckoning for the family to follow. He started to lead them down thirty-seventh. The demigod made sure to keep his eyes alert, looking for any sign of a Chitauri.

 

Half-way down the block, Percy felt something tug on the back of his shirt. He quickly whirled around, raising his sword and preparing to fight, when he realized that it had been the little boy, who was now staring wide-eyed at Percy.

 

Percy hastily lowered his sword. The kid’s eyes trailed after the sword, a gleam in his eyes that reminded the son of Poseidon of a ten-year-old Nico di Angelo. “Woah,” the kid muttered, totally oblivious to the fact that Percy had almost impaled him (not that it would’ve done anything, Riptide being harmless to mortals) . “That’s awesome! What’s it called? Is it really sharp? Can I touch it?”

 

A small grin appeared on Percy’s face. He made sure that there were no Chitauri around before he crouched down to the boy’s height. The demigod held the sword to where the boy could get a good look at it. “It’s called Riptide,” Percy told the kid. “like the current that drags you out to sea.”

 

“That’s so cool!”

 

“I think so too,” Percy pushed himself up. “Let’s get you guys out of here.” The son of Poseidon led them down the rest of the block. “Keep going down until you can get some help. You should be safe as the fight hasn’t spread over there yet.”

 

Percy was about to take off when the small boy latched onto his legs, giving him a hug. “Thanks,” he muttered. The son of Poseidon smiled.

 

“No problem, buddy. Listen to your mother, stay safe.” Percy watched as the kid detached from his legs and grabbed his mom’s hand, making their way away from the fight.

 

Percy headed back towards where he left the bike. He didn’t run into any Chitauri, but he could hear them pass overhead on their fancy flying chariots. There was another noise overhead, but it was different from the Chitauri. Looking up, Percy managed to see a huge burst of lighting followed by the blond Norse god as he flew down.

 

Percy hopped back on the bike. He revved the motorcycle and took off, heading back to the group. The sounds of explosions and screaming got louder as he drove into the heart of the battle.

 

Up ahead there was a lone Chitauri, shooting at a group of people. Percy picked up speed, turning his bike so he was heading straight towards the alien. The Chitauri noticed him coming and didn’t have any time to react before Percy rammed the motorcycle into the alien.

 

Percy found himself face-to-face with the Chitauri who was now hitching a ride on the front of the motorcycle. The alien growled and swung its arm around to hit Percy. He quickly raised his shield to block the blow. The Chitauri growled, its ugly and mangled face less than a foot away from Percy’s own.

 

Unable to see around the Chitauri, Percy tried his best to navigate the street, pushing the bike to go faster. The Chitauri tried climbing onto of the bike, standing above Percy on the front fender. Through the Chitauri's legs, Percy could just see the road ahead of him and further on, the rest of the team.

 

Just as the alien raised his gun, Percy gripped the brakes. The bike came to a sudden stop and the Chitauri flew forward, skidding on the road and coming to a stop near the god of Thunder’s feet. “Thor!” Percy yelled, catching the god’s attention. He pointed down at the alien at his feet. With a simple nod, Thor raised his hammer and brought it down swiftly on the alien.

 

Stepping off the motorcycle, Percy walked up to the group, stepping into their half-formed circle. “What’s going on?”

 

“The powers surrounding the cube is impenetrable,” Thor informed the group.

 

“Thor is right,” Tony spoke through the comms. “We gotta deal with these guys.”

 

Natasha looked over the destruction that Loki had caused and frowned. “How do we do this?”

 

“As a team,” Cap answered.

 

“I have unfinished business with Loki,” Thor announced.

 

“Yeah, get in line,” Clint argued with Thor. Percy felt the same, and he knew that just about every New Yorker would be feeling the same after this fight. But he couldn’t worry about that now.

 

“We need to plan,” Percy spoke up. “Our priority is getting the people to safety. The fight is between us and Loki. They didn’t sign up for this.” The demigod turned to Cap. “Anything you’d like to add?”

 

Steve nodded. “Loki's gonna keep this fight focused on us and that's what we need. Without him, these things could run wild. We got Stark up top, he's gonna need us...”

 

He trailed off as the sound of an old motor got louder. Percy turned around to find Banner getting off of a small motorbike. The doctor looked around nervously, taking in the sight of the crumbling city. “So, this all seems horrible.”

 

Natasha didn’t even blink. “I’ve seen worse.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“No,” she told him. “We could use a little worse.”

 

“Stark?” Cap called. “We got him.”

 

“Banner?”

 

“Just like you said.”

 

“Then tell him to suit up,” Tony ordered. “I’m bringing the party to you.”

 

The next second, Percy spotted Tony in his suit flying around the corner of a building. Following him was the big space-whale, its tail knocking into the corner of the building and sending a large cloud of dust and debris down onto the street below.

 

Percy reaches into his pocket and gripped Riptide. He saw out of the corners of his eyes the others readying their weapons, trying to prepare themselves to fight the huge monster.

 

“I… I don’t see how that’s a party…” the son of Poseidon heard Natasha comment softly as Tony flew closer.

 

Tony landed in front of them. The space-whale started to fly lower to meet them head-on, barreling down the street like a freight train. Percy gripped his sword even tighter, trying to find any weak spots in the whale’s armor.

 

He watched as Banner walked past him, heading to meet the whale. “Dr. Banner,” Cap called after him. “Now might be a really good time for you to get angry.”

 

Banner gave them a small smile. “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”

 

The doctor started swelling and turning green just as the Chitauri. Hulk punched the whale right in the nose, bringing the gigantic monster to a halt. Percy watched with fascinated horror as the creature started to flip over, its large and heavy body about to flatten them to pancakes.

 

Tony flew up, raising his arm. He shot a small missile out, aiming at the space-whale’s spine. Percy grabbed Clint, who had been standing next to him, and pulled him down in a crouch as he lifted his shield above their heads. He felt the heat from the explosion and a couple small dings from various parts of the space-whale’s body armor hitting his shield.

 

From all sides, the team could hear the screams of the Chitauri echoing off the buildings as they roared in anger. Soon enough, the Hulk roared back, his cry far louder than those of the Chitauri. But maybe that was due to proximity, Percy thought.

 

They closed ranks. Clint stood on his right, drawing an arrow and loading it into his bow. Thor was on his left, gripping Mjölnir tightly. Percy was comforted by the feeling of being in a team again. He knew that, no matter how much they argued, they’d have his back.

 

There were a few seconds where everything seemed to still. The city became quiet and the only sounds that Percy could hear were his own heartbeat and the crackling of nearby fires. Percy tensed, feeling that something else was coming.

 

The next second, hundreds of Chitauri started coming out of the portal, accompanied by a few space-whales. Percy watched as they flew out of the portal and straight to the streets, shooting anything that moved.

 

“Guys,” Natasha said, worry lacing her voice as she pointed out the growing number of aliens.

 

“Call it, Cap.”

 

“Alright, listen up,” Cap ordered. “Until we can close that portal up there, we’re gonna use containment. Barton, I want you on the roof, eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays.”

 

“Tony can work on perimeter,” Percy offered. “We don’t want anything getting more than three blocks out. If we have him flying around, he can make sure that we keep the battle in one area.”

 

Steve looked over at Tony, before he nodded in agreement. “Percy’s right. Tony, if you see anything, I want you to turn it back or turn it to ash.”

 

Clint looked over at Tony. “Wanna give me a lift?”

 

“Right,” Tony walked over to Clint, grabbing the back of the archer’s suit. “Better clench up, Legolas.” Tony flew away, taking Clint with him.

 

Steve turned his attention to the Norse god. “Thor, you've gotta try and bottleneck that portal. Slow them down. You've got the lightning. Light the bastards up.” Thor nodded and took off.

 

“We need people down here,” Percy commented to himself. He turned to Cap, waiting for him to give the next order. Instead, Steve gestured to the demigod, asking him to continue. “Steve, Natasha, we’re on ground duty. Let’s try and keep the fight in this area.”

 

Natasha and Steve nodded. Percy wondered what else was missing when he remembered Hulk. “Oh,” He turned back to the large green doctor. “And Hulk… smash.”

 

Hulk gave him a grin before jumping away, latching onto the nearest building. He threw several Chitauri off as he ran up the building before jumping to another building and doing the same thing.

 

Percy watched him before turning his attention back to the ground. Together, the group ran down the street towards where they could see a large group of Chitauri. Steve jogged up next to him. “Where’d you learn to strategize like that?” The captain asked the demigod.

 

“This isn’t my first rodeo, Captain. I’ve fought in wars before.” Percy told him, before running straight at the nearest Chitauri, slicing it before it even had a chance to react to the son of Poseidon. “At this point, it’s almost like a… hobby.”

 

Steve threw his shield at another Chitauri before responding, “Well then I think we need to find you a new hobby soon or you’re going to be really bored for the rest of your life.”

“Boys, maybe less talking and more killing,” Natasha yelled as she flipped over a Chitauri and used it as a shield as another alien shot it, killing its own. Percy nodded and reached out with his senses. He pulled some water from a nearby building with plumbing and used the water to trip up the Chitauri before plunging Riptide into them.

 

They fought for a while, the stream of Chitauri never slowing. Percy could feel a small strain as he cut down Chitauri after Chitauri. It seemed pointless. As soon as he killed one, there was always another to take its place, with several more behind it.

 

To his right, he noticed Natasha struggling with a Chitauri. With a flick of his hand, a trail of water wrapped around the alien’s waist, pulling it back from Natasha. The agent took the opportunity to grab the alien’s rifle and use it against the Chitauri. She gave a small nod of thanks towards Percy.

 

“Guys,” Natasha spoke up. “None of this is gonna mean a damn thing if we don’t close that portal.”

 

“Our biggest guns couldn’t touch it,” Steve told her, walking up to the two of them.

 

Percy frowned as he stared upwards at the portal. “It’s not about guns,” the demigod muttered.

 

Natasha eyed the alien scooters. Percy followed her eyes and understood what she was going to do. “Need a hand?”

 

The agent nodded. Steve backed up, readying his shield. “Are you sure about this?” He asked her.

 

Natasha nodded, though she didn’t look fully convinced. “Yeah. It’s gonna be fun.” She ran forward, jumping onto a car and using it to springboard onto Steve’s shield. Steve sent her flying high into the air, just in time for her to grab one of the Chitauri’s passing chariots.

 

Percy watched her fly away until he heard the sound of Chitauri grumbling behind him. The demigod smirked under his helmet. He looked over at Cap and, with a nod, they both lunged into battle.

 

\~*~/

 

When the invasion started, it had become apparent to Annabeth that, while large in number, the Chitauri weren’t much for planning. From what she could gather, their only goal was to shoot anything. Annabeth knew from experience that the monsters with no plan were just as dangerous as the ones with. At least if they had plans, you could calculate what their next might be. With the Chitauri, there was no logic.

 

Ever since the invasion had begun, Annabeth had been running around, aiding people to safety and killing the occasional Chitauri. That was how she ended up in the bank, her Yankee’s hat on, sneaking up the stairs. A group of Chitauri had managed to find the bank that people had been hiding in from the battle. Annabeth had been dropping off an elderly couple when the aliens had barged in, blocking the doors.

 

She reached the top. Quietly, she unsheathed her drakon-bone sword. The daughter of Athena could see the three Chitauri: two of them aiming their alien-energy rifles (she’d definitely have to grab one for later, maybe let the Athena cabin dissect it), and the third one messing with what appeared to be a bomb.

 

Schist. She needed to move quickly before the aliens blew up the place. Moving quickly, she got halfway across the room when she saw someone jump in through the window. She paused when the man stood up and threw their shield at the Chitauri holding the bomb, revealing himself to be Captain America.

 

The other two Chitauri turned around. Annabeth saw them raising their guns to shoot the Captain. She jumped in, her sword plunging into the chest of the first one. The one next to it turned to its dead friend. Annabeth turned her sword on that one. Unable to stop the invisible attack, the Chitauri dropped dead next to its friend.

 

Annabeth turned around to face the Captain, only to find that the third Chitauri had snuck up behind him and jumped him. At her foot, the bomb beeped, and Annabeth smiled as a plan formed in her mind. She sheathed her sword and scooped up the bomb, taking her Yankee cap off. “Hey!” She shouted, drawing the attention of both the Chitauri and the Captain. The bomb started beeping faster in her hand as the two regarded the woman in front of them.

 

“Catch.”

 

Annabeth threw the bomb at the alien. The alien let go of Captain America to hurriedly catch the bomb. Cap scrambled away from the Chitauri, backing up closer to the window. Annabeth was also moving away from the space-invader. Her back bumped against the rail. Unable to go any farther without jumping, she watched as the Chitauri reared it’s arm back to throw the bomb at Captain America.

 

She knew what was about to happen before it happened. Quickly, she jumped over the rail. Below her, the people parted, and she landed on the ground. “Get down!” Annabeth yelled. The crowd listened and crouched down, hands covering their heads just as the bomb exploded upstairs.

 

A large blast of blue energy spread across the ceiling. Little bits of dust rained down on the crowd as the room shook slightly. Annabeth prayed that the building didn’t come down on top of them.

 

After a couple seconds, the energy from the blast died down, and the building stopped shaking. People slowly started looking up. Annabeth stood up, surveying the room for any structural damage. None of the pillars looked too damaged, and as most of the blast had been upstairs, not much of the downstairs had been affected. But it was better not to risk it by staying in here for much longer.

 

“We need to move out of here!” Annabeth shouted, encouraging people to start moving towards the door. On the other side of the banks’ doors, police and firefighters swarmed up to meet them. There was an ambulance waiting with paramedics to take some of the more injured people up to a hospital far from the fighting.

 

Annabeth looked around for any sign of the Captain. She had no idea if he had made it out of the blast. Looking to her left, she saw the Captain gingerly picking himself off of a car. He seemed fine from afar, just dazed.

 

Satisfied, Annabeth stuck her Yankee’s cap back on and disappeared, off to lead more people away from the invasion.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy could feel the adrenaline that had fueled him earlier fading away. The fighting had picked up as more and more Chitauri came through the portal. Over the course of the battle, he had gathered a collection of scrapes and cuts that had begun to sting. There was also a but on his leg from where a blast had grazed him. He could feel the bag of ambrosia that he had stuffed in his pocket, saving it in case of emergency.

 

Thor fought next to him. He swung Mjölnir around, knocking aliens aside like they were dolls. But Percy could see that Thor was getting tired too. The god’s swings were becoming slower as more and more Chitauri surrounded them.

 

Distracted and tired, Percy didn’t notice one of the alien’s sneaking up behind him until he heard the sound of Cap’s shield bouncing off the Chitauri’s chest. Percy turned around, seeing Cap sling his shield back onto his arm.

 

“Thanks,” Percy told him. Cap nodded, waving him off. They hopped back into the fight. At one point, Percy remembered Thor flipping a car over, crushing a few Chitauri that Percy had used water to freeze them in place.

 

The son of Poseidon was about to launch another attack when Natasha yelled through the comms, “I can close it! Can anybody hear me? I can shut the portal down!”

 

Percy grinned and jumped in victory, only to almost be impaled by a Chitauri’s weapon. The demigod waved his hand a burst of water flew up and landed on the Chitauri’s face before freezing. “Then close it,” Percy told Natasha.

 

“No, wait!” Stark shouted through the comm.

 

“Stark, these things are still coming!” Steve argued.

 

“I got a nuke coming in, it’s gonna blow in less than a minute.” Percy shared a concerned look with Steve. A nuke? They’re sending a nuke? Thor, who had no idea what a nuke was, could only guess that it was bad news from his teammates' faces. Percy turned back in just as Stark said, “And I know just where to put it.”

 

The son of Poseidon could hear the sound of the jet repulsers on Tony’s suit as he appeared, the nuke right above him. Tony flew upward, pushing the nuke upwards towards the portal.  

 

“Stark, you know that’s a one-way trip?” Steve asked, fear and concern lacing his voice.

 

Tony didn’t respond. Percy watched as the man flew closer to the portal, picking up speed as he went. Closer… and closer… and gone.

 

Percy waited with bated breath for Tony to reappear. He didn’t look away. Not even when the Chitauri collapsed around him. “Come on,” Percy muttered. The demigod could see the cloud from the explosion growing closer to the portal.

 

“Close it,” Steve ordered, having also seen the explosion.

 

Percy turned to the man. “Wait!” He tried to tell Natasha, but he could already see the beam keeping the portal open disappearing, Natasha having already done whatever needed to be done to shut it down. In his head, the son of Poseidon cursed his fatal flaw. Logically, he knew that it was better to lose one man’s life than to risk thousands. But it didn’t stop him from staring up at the portal in hope.

 

Just as the portal was about to close for good, a small dark figure came out.

 

Tony.

 

Percy released a breath he hadn’t been aware he’d been holding in. He could feel Steve’s and Thor’s relief as well, their bodies relaxing, even Steve’s disbelieving “Son of a gun,” as they watched their friend make it out alive. Tony was alive.

 

And he wasn’t slowing.

 

Percy’s smiles faded as he realized that Tony wasn’t flying back down, but rather falling. Next to him, Thor started whirling Mjölnir, preparing to fly up and grab Tony when Hulk appeared, grabbing Tony. The Hulk leaped from building to building, slowing making his way down to the street.

 

Steve, Thor, and Percy ran to greet the two. They surrounded Tony, who Hulk had set on the ground, where he laid unmoving. Thor ripped off the front part of the mask, revealing an unbreathing Tony. Percy rocked back on his heels, forcing himself to take a deep breath as Steve leaned his head down by Tony’s chest. Unable to hear anything, Steve leaned back.

 

They were silent. The city was silent. Percy only remembered the city being this quiet when Morpheus had placed his charm during the Titan War. It had been unnaturally quiet then, like it was now. Percy hated the silence. He wished that there was something, some sort of noise—

 

Just then, the Hulk roared. Tony shot up, breathing harshly from Hulk’s angry roar. “What the hell?” Tony asked. “What just happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me.”

 

Steve let out a small smile. “We won.”

 

Percy couldn’t help but let out a huge grin. “Good job, man.” He patted Tony’s arm. “You did it.”

 

“Alright. Hey, alright. Good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma?” Tony rambled. “There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it.”

 

“We’re not finished yet,” Thor told them. Percy noticed he was staring straight up at STARK tower. Oh yeah. Loki.

 

“We better go get him before he disappears,” Percy warned the team.

 

Below him, Tony heaved out a heavy sigh. “And then shawarma after.”

 

\~*~/

 

Percy stood in the penthouse level of STARK tower, sword in hand. He stared at the Norse god, Loki, who looked a little worse for wear after his run-in with the Hulk. Loki slowly crawled up the steps. He paused, sensing that someone was behind him.

 

The Avengers stood behind him. He came face-to-face with the seven heroes, all staring at him with hatred and anger.

 

Loki spoke softly. “If it's all the same to you, I'll have that drink.”

Chapter Text

10 – I Get My Own Action Figure!

 

The next couple of weeks after the battle were hectic.

 

Once the dust had settled and the injured were being tended to and the dead counted, questions started popping up. Questions about what exactly had happened. Were those aliens that had attacked? Are they going to come back? Who had saved them? Were they superheroes? Was Thor really a Norse god or just another alien?

 

Not all of those questions had been answered. SHEILD never made an official statement, but slowly the questions started being answered. Yes, it had been aliens and no, the Chitauri weren’t coming back anytime soon. They had been led by a Norse god called Loki, whose brother, Thor, was in the attack against him, part of a team called the Avengers.

 

All around the world, people were talking about the Avengers. Some argued against the team, trying to force them to take responsibility for the attack, saying that they were to blame for the damage done to the city. Those people, however, were few and far between.

 

Most people regarded them as heroes. Citizens being interviewed by local news stations and papers praised the heroes, thanking them for saving their lives. Walking around the city, one could see spray-painted murals, people wearing hoodies and t-shirts with the heroes on them. There were even action figures modeled after the group.

 

Percy found that the action figures were the coolest part yet. He had already managed to buy a mini-figure of himself, complete with his shield and sword, that he had sitting on his nightstand. Annabeth thought that it was funny. She hadn’t said anything, but Percy knew that she found it amusing.

 

He also couldn’t help but marvel at his ‘superhero’ name—Riptide. Apparently, the little boy that he had saved had been interviewed by the New York Post and had told them the story about Percy saving him and his mother from the Chitauri. Well, his mother had told the story. The only thing the little boy could talk about was how cool Percy had looked, with his armor and big sword that he called Riptide.

 

The media took it up and went with it. Now he was Riptide, the superhero with the mutant ability to manipulate water.

 

In all honesty, Percy was glad that no one had gotten ahold of the knowledge of the Greek world. When information had started appearing in the news, Percy had IM’d Fury (actually managing to scare the director when he was alone in his office) and had asked to keep his identity, along with the existence of the Greek gods, under wraps.

 

So far, it seemed to be working nicely. Percy figured that he would head to Camp Half-Blood the next day and inform Chiron about all that had happened. But there was something else that the demigod had to do first.

 

He stood in a secluded area of Central Park. The whole team had shown up to accompany Thor (and Loki, whose hands were bound, and a muzzle placed on his face) back to Asgard. Thor went around, shaking hands with everyone as he said goodbye. When he reached Percy, the demigod gave Thor a big smile. “Hey man, it was nice meeting you.”

 

“Honor is mine, Percy,” Thor told him. “Maybe we can fight together again one day.”

 

The son of Poseidon laughed. “Let’s hope it’s under better circumstances.” Thor nodded and started to move away, but Percy grabbed his arm before he could fully walk away. “Hey, just remember, always family. No matter what.”

 

“Thank you, Percy.”

 

Percy watched on as Thor finished the rest of his rounds before heading back to Loki. Bruce and Tony stepped forward, Tony holding out a briefcase. It opened to reveal the Tesseract, dimly glowing blue. Bruce took the Tesseract and placed it in a glass tube before handing it to Thor. The Norse god held one end, giving the other to Loki, who reluctantly took it. He took one last look at the team before turning the handle.

 

The energy of the Tesseract swept over the two. Percy fixed Loki with one last glare before they were both gone.

 

Then slowly, one-by-one, the Avengers wandered off. Natasha and Clint riding off together; Steve on his old Harley; and Bruce and Tony getting into one of Tony’s sports cars. Percy headed to Paul’s blue Prius. Hopping into the driver's seat, he started the car and drove away.

 

Driving through the city, Percy could see the efforts of the citizens as they began to clean up the city. He knew that Tony was going to be in charge of the rebuilding process. The billionaire had already struck a deal with the Department of Damage Control, signing a contract that all post-battle cleanup would be under his control.

 

Percy passed an empty pedestal, its statue gone and somewhere in the streets of the city. People had noticed the statues running around during the battle (they were hard to miss), but no one seemed to remember the same incident happening almost five years ago—most likely due to the Mist.

 

The son of Poseidon was glad. It was one less thing for him to worry about. He had enough on his plate at the moment, mainly helping with the clean-up process.

 

Percy pulled up to the hotel he and Annabeth were staying in. During the battle, the apartment building where Sally and Paul lived had taken a large hit to the wall, deeming it unsafe to live in at the moment. Percy had told his family to stay in Montauk for the time being. Annabeth and he had decided to stay in a hotel for a couple days while Percy finished up his Avengers stuff before heading to Camp Half-Blood.

 

The demigod entered the hotel room. Annabeth sat on the bed; eyes glued to the TV where a reporter stood on screen. It appeared to be another interview, this time with an older group of men playing chess.

 

“Superheroes in New York? Give me a—” a man said before Annabeth paused the TV. Percy sat down next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

 

Annabeth smiled at him. “How’d it go?” She asked.

 

“Well, Thor and Loki are officially back in Asgard, and the Tesseract is with them.” He leaned back into the pillows, letting out a sigh as he went. “I think that it’ll be a while before we see Thor again. Imagine the family drama going on right now.”

 

“I can imagine it,” Annabeth teased, laying down beside Percy. “Just look at who our family is. It can’t be too different from ours.”

 

“Except their father doesn’t eat them, he adopts them. Or, one of them, I guess.”

 

They laid in silence for a while. Percy played with Annabeth’s hair, trying to braid her blonde hair while she read her book. After a while, Percy gave up and settled for just staring at Annabeth. She looked beautiful—as always—even with the small purple bruise on her chin that she had gained during the battle (something about a bank and a bomb).

 

“You ready to go back to camp?” Percy asked.

 

Annabeth set her book down and looked over at him. “Yeah. I wonder how the others will react to you becoming famous.”

 

“Technically, I’m not the famous one. Riptide is.” Percy gave Annabeth a small smirk before continuing on. “Secondly, it’s not that different from Piper. I mean, her dad’s Tristan McLean and we didn’t bat an eye when she told us.”

 

“That’s because you didn’t know who Tristan McLean was. And it is different from Piper—it's her dad that’s famous, and at least he isn’t known for having saved the world.”

 

Percy held up his hands in surrender. “Fine,” he agreed, before slowly lowering his arms again. “They’ll be fine with it, right? I mean, it’s not like I had much of a choice, and if I hadn’t been there, who knows what might’ve—”

 

“Hey, don’t worry,” Annabeth cut off Percy’s rambling. “I’m sure they’ll understand. Besides, I’m sure they won’t even think it’s that big of a deal. Most demigods don’t worry too much about the mortal world anyway.”

 

Percy smiled softly. “You’re right, as always. It’s not a big deal.” He said, the last part more for himself, before pushing himself up. “Now come on, let’s get packed.”

 

\~*~/

 

“This is a huge deal!” Leo shouted. “I mean, holy Hephaestus, wow.”

 

Percy shot a glance over at Annabeth. So much for not a big deal, he told himself. Shaking his head, he walked closer to Leo who was pacing around them on the hill, having run up to greet them when they had first arrived. “Leo, it’s really nothing—”

 

“You met Tony Stark. The Tony Stark, the legendary mechanic!”

 

Percy scratched the back of his head, not fully understanding Leo’s reason for excitement. “Yeah, l guess.”

 

“You guess?” Leo threw hands into the air in shock. “Percy, Tony Stark is a genius. His work with nanobots is revolutionary, not to mention the mechanics of the Iron Man suit. Half of the Hephaestus cabin has a poster of him hanging by their bed.”

 

“What about you?”

 

“Are you kidding? I already have his Iron Man T-Shirts, Iron Man Hoodie, Iron Man trading cards, Iron Man action figure, and two posters—one from before and after the whole alien-thingy.”

 

Percy nodded dimly. “Woah, I didn’t know he was such… wait, did you say trading cards?”

 

Annabeth gently grabbed his arm. “Percy, focus.”

 

“I am focusing. Focusing on the fact that I somehow missed the fact that I have trading cards with me on them.”

 

“Percy.”

 

“But Annabeth…”

 

“And Leo,” Leo chipped in. “Don’t forget I’m still here.”

 

The couple turned back towards Leo. “Sorry,” Annabeth apologized.

 

Leo dismissed her apology with a wave of his hand. “It’s fine. I can’t imagine how weird it must be for you to be famous. That’s gotta feel weird.”

 

“Honestly, it doesn’t faze me,” Percy shrugged.

 

“Well if I was you, I’d be hanging out with Tony Stark and comparing notes,” Leo stated. “Maybe we could work on something together!”

 

Percy noticed a small twinge of smoke start rising from the top of Leo’s hair. He pointed it out to him, smiling as Leo frantically reached his hand up to pat out the small fire. When the fire was out, Percy considered an idea he knew he would probably come to regret, but...

 

“Hey Leo, if you want, I could introduce you to Tony.”

 

Leo froze, his eyes growing impossibly wide. “Really?” When Percy nodded, Leo jumped into the air, punching the air. “Oh, gods! This is—thank you, Percy.” The fire reappeared on Leo’s hair, much bigger than before. Leo ran back down the hill, screaming about getting to meet Iron Man.

 

Next to him, Annabeth laughed. “I think you just made his day.” She commented.

 

“At least one person’s happy about this situation,” Percy noted as they started making their way down Half-Blood hill. “Let’s hope that everyone else takes it just as well.”

 

At the bottom of the hill, campers had gathered around, no doubt drawn out by Leo’s shouting. At the front stood Chiron, his tail flicking back and forth in a way Percy had seen it do before whenever the centaur had been agitated. Percy swallowed.

 

Chiron stared at him with a poker face, and that only made Percy feel even more scared. “Welcome back, you two.” Their mentor greeted. “I think we need to have a talk.”

 

\~*~/

 

Chiron ushered them into the Big House, shooing away the curious campers. Once the last camper had wandered off, he led them to the living room. Percy and Annabeth took a seat on the couch while Chiron lowered himself into his wheelchair, the centaur’s lower half disappearing and a set of fake human legs popping out.

 

“So,” Chiron started once wheeled himself over to the couch. “Drinks?”

 

Percy and Annabeth shook their heads. “Listen, Chiron…”

 

The centaur held up his hand, bringing Percy’s word to a stop. “Percy, I’m not mad. Just tell me what happened.”

 

For the next fifteen minutes, Percy told the entire story, starting from Blackjack getting captured to him and Annabeth sitting on the couch. Chiron listened carefully the entire, only interrupting once or twice to ask a question. Annabeth was the same. She had already heard the first part, but she listened very carefully to his time with the Avengers. When Percy finished, the room was silent except for Seymour the Leopard’s snoring.

 

Finally, Chiron spoke up. “This may be more serious than I thought.”

 

“What do you mean?” Percy asked.

 

“If Loki willingly teamed up with… aliens,” Chiron said, almost as if he was unfamiliar with the word. “Then he must have struck a deal with someone. With the way you described the Chitauri, they don’t seem all that capable of thinking of a plan. So the real question is, who’s their leader?”

 

“And what could Loki offer them?” Annabeth input. “Think, if Loki struck a deal, it's obvious what he gets. An army.”

 

“He tried striking a deal with me for Olympus’ armies,” Percy remembered. “He came to me in a dream and said that if I gave him command, then he would make me powerful.”

 

“Is this the same dream with Rachael’s prophecy?” Chiron asked.

 

The son of Poseidon nodded. “It is. That’s also part of the reason why we’re here. Something isn’t adding up.”

 

Chiron’s eyebrow raised. “Like what?”

 

“The prophecy… it doesn’t feel finished yet. Like there’s more to come. I’m scared, too, because the last time I felt like a prophecy wasn’t finished yet, Luke went and sicced a pit scorpion after me. And then he went and joined the Titans and we all know what that led to—”

 

“Percy, deep breath.” Chiron broke through Percy’s panicked rambling. “This could be very serious, Percy. You should meet with Rachael as soon as possible. She arrived yesterday. I spoke with her briefly before she headed to her cave, saying how she needed to contact Ella.”

 

Percy and Annabeth stood up. “Thank you, Chiron,” Percy said, grabbing Annabeth’s hand as they headed for the door.

 

Chiron smiled. “No problem, my dear boy. Also, before the two of you go,” he called, making Percy and Annabeth turn back to face him. “I’m happy you’re back.”

 

\~*~/

 

Percy and Annabeth made their way to Rachael’s cave. Luckily, the campers had returned to their activities after Chiron had shooed them away, so no one stopped them to talk. A few did wave, but quickly turned back to their activities. Percy returned the gesture jovially. He didn’t realize how much he had missed Camp Half-Blood, and he could only smile as lava poured down the rock-climbing wall and the familiar sounds of swords clanging and kids yelling reached his ears. Camp Jupiter was nice, but Camp Half-Blood would always be his first home.

 

They climbed up the small hill, where Rachael’s cave resided at the top. The thick burgundy curtains that usually were draped closed in the cave’s entrance were drawn to the sides, revealing the mess of throw pillows and bean bags in the cave. Percy and Annabeth shared a look of concern before venturing in.

 

Rachael’s back was to them. She sat facing her mural wall, which she frequently painted on whenever she was plagued with images from the Oracle. Paint covered her arms and legs, which wasn’t too far from normal. But what wasn’t normal was the slight green glow that emanated from Rachael’s body.

 

Annabeth took a step closer. She reached her hand out, intending to shake Rachael’s shoulder. “Rachael?” She asked.

 

Rachael jumped and whirled around, holding out a paintbrush like a sword as the green glow faded away. She lowered it once she saw who it was that was standing behind her. “Hey, guys.” She greeted. “What brings you here?”

 

“We wanted to talk to you about the prophecy,” Percy told her.

 

“I thought that might happen. Take a seat,” she gestured to the haphazardly scattered beanbags. Percy picked a purple one while Annabeth took the bright yellow one next to it. Rachael remained standing, pacing around them. Eventually, she settled and sat on the concrete floor. “I talked with Ella,” she started. “She had never heard the prophecy, nor anything that might relate to it.”

 

“I’ve never actually heard the prophecy,” Annabeth spoke up. “Could one of you repeat it for me?”

 

Percy looked over at Rachael who nodded at him. He tried to recall the prophecy he had heard. “Um, it comes from… comes from—”

 

“Oh, let me,” Rachael told him. “It comes from day as dark as night—”

 

At least I was on the right track,” Percy muttered. Annabeth shushed him and turned back to Rachael.

 

“After evil’s rule, the final fight,” Rachael continued. “They’re gone, they’re broke, they come together.” Percy saw Annabeth frown. She opened her mouth as if to speak but closed it after a second. “Charged to protect, earthly tether. Rolling stone, purple reign. All must end in blazing pain.” Rachael finished reciting the prophecy. Noticing Annabeth’s grim expression, Rachael joked, “Cheery, right?”

 

“Peachy,” Annabeth responded.

 

“Well,” Percy clapped his hands, drawing the attention of the two women. “Now that we all know the prophecy, some thoughts. Rachael, you said that Ella didn’t have anything?”

 

“I didn’t say that,” Rachael corrected. “I said she didn’t recognize it. But we did discuss some possible meanings.”

 

“Did any of those include a meaning for ‘final fight’?”

 

“That’s what you’re worried about?” Rachael asked, slightly taken back. “I would’ve thought blazing pain—”

 

“The blazing pain part is over and done with,” Percy dismissed with a wave of his hand. “The nuke,” he explained when he saw Rachael’s blank face.

 

Her face transformed from confused to scared—face paling at his words. “Nuke?”

 

“The government wanted to nuke us, put Tony ended up putting it through the portal. All’s fine now. Blazing pain avoided.”

 

Annabeth nodded slowly. “That…makes sense. But what I don’t get is the final fight part. This is your guys’ first fight together.”

 

“But it does say ‘must end in blazing pain’,” Rachael interjected. “That’s what worries me. The fates wouldn’t put in the word must unless it was unavoidable.”

 

“They must have been wrong, Rachael. That part is over with. Even the wise girl agrees.”

 

Rachael sighed tiredly. “I don’t know. Usually, after the events of the prophecy, the lines become clearer. But they aren’t now. Which may mean…” She trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence. But the implication hung in the air.

 

Percy cleared his throat, breaking the silent tension. “I, for one, think that there’s nothing left. We’ve got to be overthinking this. I mean, Loki’s back on Asgard, and the Chitauri aren’t coming back anytime soon.”

 

“But I don’t feel that it’s done,” Rachael said, her voice filled with worry. “There are still too many unsolved variables. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this sounds like a Great Prophecy.”

 

Both Annabeth and Percy sat up straighter at the mention of a Great Prophecy. They shared a glance, remembering what the last two had entailed. Percy looked back over at Rachael; brows furrowed together. “You really think? So soon after?”

 

“Well, one was given not even a day after the other had been completed,” Rachael recalled. “So yeah. Totally possible.”

 

That made some sense to Percy, given the last time, but he was sure it was over with already. He frowned as Annabeth grumbled. Looking over at her and her tense posture, he thought the situation over in his head. On one hand, if this really was a Great Prophecy, then they needed to be prepared. They would most likely need to give up college and jobs to prepare for whatever would come. But on the other hand…

 

The son of Poseidon knew that Annabeth would be disappointed on giving up her goal of becoming an architect to fight. Besides, the whole situation was a huge ‘if’. If the prophecy wasn’t over, if this was a Great Prophecy. Did he really want to jeopardize Annabeth’s happiness for a small, unlikely chance?

 

“It’s probably nothing to fret over,” Percy said. “I saw we call it a day. It’s about to get late anyway. Didn’t you want to get cleaned up before dinner?” He asked Annabeth, distracting her from the prophecy.

 

Rachael tried to protest. “I really think that—”

 

“No, he’s right,” Annabeth said, pushing herself up. “I say that it’s over and done with. That’s two against one.”

 

“I really think my vote should count twice as I’m the Oracle, but whatever,” Rachael muttered, irritation creeping into her voice. As she stood up, she added, “I’ll keep looking into it, just in case.”

 

Percy nodded as he and Annabeth started to make their way out of the cave. “Just in case.” The demigod hoped that she wouldn’t find anything. He hoped that he had made the right call.

 

\~*~/

 

Percy stood on the beach, starting out at the water. The waves crashed gently at his feet and the breeze blew his hair into his face. He didn’t bother to fix it. Instead, he stood there mulling over his earlier conversation with Annabeth and Rachael.

 

Even as he denied it, he couldn’t help but muse over the thought of another Great Prophecy. Wasn’t two in his lifetime enough? That by itself already sounded like a stretch. The idea of a third seemed laughable. Did the Fates really hate him that much to put him in the center of another Great Prophecy? What had he ever done to them?

 

Percy cleared his thoughts, stalling the oncoming headache. He knew that if he continued to stand there and analyze everything too deeply, his head would start pounding. In an attempt to clear his head, he took a couple of deep breaths and focused on his surroundings.

 

It felt nice for a July evening. In just three days, it would be the fourth, and he knew that the Hephaestus cabin would pull out all the stops, especially when Leo was the one in charge of the firework display. Just thinking about it made Percy excited. It felt as if it had been forever since he had celebrated July 4th at Camp.

 

He was so deep in his head; he didn’t notice the figure behind him until they spoke. “Nice weather for some fishing, wouldn’t you say?”

 

The demigod whirled around. Poseidon stood behind him in his usual garb, Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, sandals, and his lucky Neptune fishing hat. In his hand, he held his trident, waves of power radiating from it. He moved his eyes from the sea to Percy, smiling at him. “Hi, son.”

 

Percy stared at his father as the god walked closer to the edge of the water, his trident transforming into a fishing rod. Poseidon cast out his line. The line soared impossibly far out (a little godly magic) before plunking into the water. Next to Percy, another fishing rod appeared. Percy grabbed it and cast it out, his line much closer to shore. They stood there for a while, soaking in the peace.

 

Eventually, Percy turned to Poseidon. “Dad, what are you doing here?”

 

“Can’t say hi to my son?” Poseidon asked as he checked his line for a tug. When Percy raised his eyebrow at the god, Poseidon shrugged. “Figured I’d see how you’ve been doing,” he admitted. “Especially after your little adventure with that group. The Avengers, right?”

 

Percy nodded. “That’s what we’re calling it. And… I’m fine.” He dropped his fishing rod and turned to face his dad. “Did you know about the Norse gods? The Chitauri?”

 

“We’ve known about the Norse since they were first created. Of course, it’s been a while since they’ve come to Earth, but, nevertheless. And with the Chitauri, not specifically. There are whole other worlds out there, Percy. Even I don’t know most of them, or even how many there are.”

 

“And why did you never bother to share this information with anyone?”

 

“It was never relevant. Until now, that is.” Poseidon stroked his beard, shifting his eyes away from the sea to his son. “Your uncle is in a sour mood. Apparently, Loki coming to Earth and waging war broke a treaty between Odin and Zeus. But as the Norse are in space and Zeus has no way of getting in contact, there’s nothing he can really do. I don’t care much for politics. I’ll be spending the next couple months in my palace just so I don’t have to listen to his grumbling and pitiful whining.”

 

Percy smiled a little. Catching Percy’s smile, Poseidon turned his attention back to his line, a twinkle in his eye. All of a sudden, the line became taught. “Oh, think I got something.” With a small flick of the wrist, the fishing rod started wheeling in the prize. Percy could see the start of a gigantic sea serpent-looking monster. Poseidon only grinned at the monster. “This will do nicely. Amphitrite has been nagging me lately about her new diet, wanting to try new things. Hopefully, this will do the trick.”

 

The demigod figured his father would just disappear, but the god turned back to Percy. “I need you to remember, son, that no matter what happens in the future, I will always be proud of you. The coming times will be difficult, but I know you will prevail. Mortals will start to pry a little about our existence. It’ll come out at some point or another, I know it. Zeus is too confident that no one will ever discover the truth, but with the re-introduction of Thor… just know that many people might not be happy. Maybe even some of the gods.”

 

Percy nodded. When he had shown up in New York, in the midst of battle, he had known there was a chance of the demigods being exposed. And even though he had talked to Fury, and even though the media believed he was a mutant, it seemed like that would come true.

 

Poseidon clapped Percy on the back. “I’m sorry.” Was all he said before dissolving into the sea breeze, his fishing rod and dinner disappearing along with him. On the beach, a small sand dollar rested just where Poseidon had been standing, with Percy standing there alone.

 

Annabeth found him half an hour later still staring at the sand dollar. With only a glance at his face, she could guess what had happened. “Your dad?”

 

“Yeah,” Percy confirmed. He bent down to pick up the sand dollar, turning it over in his hands. It looked remarkably similar to the one Poseidon had given to him on his fifteenth birthday. With a sigh, he stood up and pocketed the sand dollar. “He wanted to talk.”

 

“About what?”

 

“A lot. But he said he was proud of me.” Percy took Annabeth’s hand and pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her. She melted into the hug. “He also mentioned how the mortals are going to find out about us, sooner or later.”

 

Annabeth hummed. “When you first told me, I thought that might happen and just prepared myself for the worst.”

 

“I still think we have a while. People still doubt that Thor really is the same one from mythology.”

 

“But there are others out there, Percy. Others that might prod or poke just a little too closely and stumble across something they might not like.”

 

“We’ll deal with it when it comes. Together.” In the distance, the familiar sound of the conch shell blowing could be heard, calling the campers together for dinner. “Come on,” Percy tugged Annabeth towards the Pavilion. “I’m starving.”

 

Annabeth laughed. “You’re always starving.”

 

“Exactly, which is why we should go eat. Last one there’s a rotten minotaur!” Percy shouted before taking off. Annabeth followed, laughing and yelling as she chased after him.

 

\~*~/

 

A couple of days later, the two sat on the beach, staring up at the sky as bright explosions lit up the night sky above them. They watched as some of the usual fireworks were shown (the camp, George Washington crossing the Delaware River, and the newer one of Camp Jupiter).

 

Percy’s face lit up as bright as the sky when he saw the one of the Avengers, all doing a fighting pose as the firework-Chitauri raced towards them on either side. It was exciting to watch as Percy’s firework-self destroyed some of the aliens, the fireworks exploding even brighter when a Chitauri died.

 

Finally, when the show was done, courtesy of Leo McSchizzle, Bad Boy Supreme, (Or so the fireworks proclaimed), most of the campers trudged to bed. Percy and Annabeth stayed on the beach; the daughter of Athena curled into Percy’s side. Percy’s eyes gazed at the bright stars. Somewhere out there in the vast emptiness of space, where Thor and his brother. The demigod hoped they were starting to patch things up. He really didn’t need Loki coming back to Earth to try and destroy it again the next time he and Thor had a little squabble.

 

Beside him, Annabeth yawned. Percy shifted his gaze to look down at her. “I think we better get to bed before the patrol harpies catch us. Want me to walk you to your cabin?”

 

Annabeth nodded tiredly. “Yes please.”

 

The two slowly stood up, their legs tired and heavy. They walked hand-in-hand together towards the cabins, both slightly leaning on each other. When they reached cabin six, Percy gave Annabeth a goodnight kiss before watching her head into her cabin. After the door closed, Percy trudged to his own cabin, cabin three. He didn’t bother changing into pajamas, barely managing to get his shoes off before he collapsed onto his bed.

 

Percy fell asleep with a smile on his face, dreaming of him and Annabeth laying under the stars together.

 

 

Chapter Text

11 – The Midnight Race for Coffee

 

Percy spent a peaceful week at Camp Half-Blood. A week of sitting around the campfire, cooking s’mores and singing to classics like ‘This Land is Minos’ Land’ and ‘My Grandma’s Armor’. A week of teaching younger kids how to hold a sword properly and showing the older one’s new techniques. A week of relaxing in the canoe lake, sometimes hanging out at the bottom or floating on top of the water with Annabeth.

 

And then he got the invitation.

 

It had been slipped under his cabin door one day. He recognized his mom’s slanted curly handwriting on the envelope with Camp Half-Blood's address written on the front. When he opened it, he found two things awaiting him.

 

The first thing was a simple black-and-white card inviting him to Phil Coulson’s memorial. Percy read the card and found out that Tony was inviting all the Avengers to show up at his tower to honor Coulson’s memory. Looking at the date, he saw that the memorial was in three days.

 

The second thing in the envelope was a letter from his mom. In it, she explained how Tony had sent her the invitation, hoping that she could pass it to him, with his whereabouts currently being unknown. She had also updated him on the situation in Montauk. Apparently, Estelle had found a new love for the ocean, wanting to sit in the water all day and play with the sand.

 

When he was finished reading the letter, a small smile ghosting his lips, his eyes strayed back to the invitation. Percy tried to imagine how Tony was feeling at the moment. He didn’t know the full relationship between the billionaire and the agent, but they had obviously been close, and Percy knew from first-hand experience what it was like to lose a friend. That feeling of wanting to reject the world and not wanting to be alone at the same time. He didn’t want Tony to be alone. Clearing his thoughts with a small shake of his head, he shoved both the letter and invitation back into the envelope and headed out to find Annabeth.

 

It was still early morning. The sun was slowly making its way up into the sky—Apollo slowly taking his time. A few campers wandered around, some heading to the Pavilion to have breakfast while others waited for friends. When he got there, he didn’t see Annabeth, but he did see another blond.

 

“Hey Will,” Percy greeted.

 

The eighteen-year-old turned, a piece of toast hanging from his mouth. He put his toast down and patted the bench next to him. “Hey Perce, how’s it hanging?”

 

Percy slipped into the empty bench next to Will. There were only four other campers currently around—a kid at Nike’s table, two kids at the fire sacrificing a small portion of their meal, and a very tired looking Lou Ellen sitting at Hecate’s table. She offered him a small grin before returning to her sausage. Percy knew that none of the kids would say anything to him (or more importantly to Chiron) about him sitting at another cabin’s table.

 

He grabbed an apple. “Things are good. How are you? Last I heard, you were applying to med schools.”

 

“Yeah,” Will nodded, his shaggy hair falling into his face. He impatiently pushed it out of his face. “I was originally just gonna go to New Rome University, but then I got accepted into Stanford’s med program. Figured I’d go there and if, when I’m done and I feel like it, maybe I’ll go to New Rome. See the different methods and techniques and whatnot.”

 

“That’s great! Congrats, man.”

 

“Thanks. I’m excited.” Will took another bite of his toast. “So,” he spoke again mouth full of bread. “Wha’s on the agen’a to’ay?”

 

Percy smiled at Will’s botched speech before remembering what had sent him to the Pavilion so early. “I think I’m going to head back to the city for a while. There are some more things that need to be done.”

 

“Well good luck. I’m going to go see if I can’t convince Nico to join me in the infirmary.”

 

They both stood up and went their separate ways; Will heading towards Hades’ cabin, and Percy towards his own table. He managed to finish his apple and get half-way through a stack of pancakes before he spotted Annabeth entering, her nose buried in a book.

 

Abandoning his breakfast, he stood and walked over to her. He took the invitation out of his pocket and set it on the table in front of her. She looked back at him curiously before reading it.

 

“Oh,” she said when she finished. “I know you probably want to go. Are you okay? Going alone?”

 

“Well, I know it doesn’t say ‘plus one’, but I don’t think Tony would be too mad if I brought my girlfriend along. I’d like to have you there.” Percy wrapped his arms around Annabeth, bending down to hug her. “What do you say?”

 

Annabeth leaned back into her boyfriend’s arms. “I say that sounds great.” A slight smile appeared on Percy’s face, happy that he wouldn’t have to go alone. “Do you have anything nice to wear?”

 

And just like that, the smile dropped from his face.

 

\~*~/

 

Three days later, on the morning of the memorial, Percy and Annabeth ordered a cab to take them from Long Island to STARK Tower. Chiron had sent them off with a simple goodbye, more occupied on making sure Leo stayed at camp instead of following the couple to Tony’s tower. The last thing anyone wanted was a flaming teenager bouncing around at a memorial service.

 

When the cab driver stopped in front of STARK Tower, he raised an eyebrow at the two young adults, but didn’t say anything. They paid him and he drove off, disappearing in the busy traffic of forty-fifth street. Percy grabbed Annabeth’s hand. She squeezed it in comfort, and with a deep breath, Percy was ready to head in.

 

The last time Percy had walked through the lobby, he hadn’t had much time to look around, what with the team hurrying up to reach Loki in time. Now that he wasn’t running through it, he had to admire the sleek design of everything—the tall windows and dark tile floor that worked well with the white walls. There was still some damage from the battle. He could see a blast mark on one of the walls that had come from one of the Chitauri’s blasters.

 

There wasn’t anyone at the receptionist’s desk, so Percy figured it was okay to just head on up. They stepped into the elevator. As soon as the doors closed, an unknown voice spoke, “Welcome, Mr. Jackson and, Ms. Chase, I presume.”

 

The couple jumped at the disembodied British voice. Annabeth started looking around for any sign of a camera while Percy stared at the ceiling where the voice seemed to have come from. “Who is this?” he asked.

 

“I am Jarvis, Tony Stark’s A.I. butler. He asked me to inform him of your arrival.”

 

“Oh, cool.” Percy nodded slowly as the elevator started moving. He thought back to the times he had heard Tony talk to himself and realized that he had probably been speaking to Jarvis the entire time. Feeling a bit silly for talking to air, Percy hesitantly asked, “Is anyone else here yet?”

 

“Just Ms. Romanoff, Mr. Rogers, and Dr. Banner. Mr. Barton is on his way still.”

 

Annabeth leaned back into Percy; eyes wide with curiosity. “Wow,” she muttered softly. “This is… wow.”

 

Percy smiled. Even though he didn’t always fully understand what she was talking about when she was rambling about architecture, he still knew that she admired the tower’s design ever since it had begun construction, with its supposed green energy plan and everything. Top it all off with an A.I. system and you were sure to have an awestricken Annabeth. “You should’ve seen the Helicarrier,” he told her. “It was bigger than the Argo II.”

 

“That was just a quick build,” Annabeth said, offhanded. “We were rushed with the war. I’m sure if Leo wanted, he could build something bigger.”

 

The elevator dinged and the doors started to slide open. “Maybe one day,” Percy said before walking off.

 

The penthouse had been cleaned up. Holes had been patched up and dust had been swept. The window that Loki had thrown Tony out of had been replaced. Annabeth looked around the large room, taking in the design and layout and structure. Percy had no doubt that she was envisioning the room in her head in her own design.

 

To Percy’s right, Tony was walking up to them. “Water Boy!” He greeted; arms open wide. “Glad to see you could make it. Who’s your lovely friend?”

 

Percy rolled his eyes at Tony’s lame nickname but didn’t comment on it. He just wrapped his arm around Annabeth’s waist. “Hey, Tony. This is my girlfriend.”

 

“Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena.” Annabeth held out her hand for Tony to shake.

 

Tony shook her hand. “Athena… that’s the smart one, right?”

 

Annabeth nodded. Percy shifted uncomfortably, realizing what Tony was wearing. “So, this isn’t a formal event, is it?”

 

Tony stood before them wearing jeans and a Black Sabbath t-shirt—a stark contrast to Percy’s dress shirt and slacks that Annabeth had forced on him. The clothes had been borrowed from the Aphrodite Cabin since the last time Percy had owned a suit was when he and Annabeth had gone to prom. Even then, the suit he had worn hadn’t been a good suit. This one, although a little big on his lithe form, was a much better quality.

 

“You’re fine. Cap and Romanoff also dressed up,” The billionaire waved a dismissive hand at Percy. “Besides, it’s just us. So, ready to get the party started?”

 

\~*~/

 

After greeting everyone (which included a funny meeting between Annabeth and Steve, who had, at some point during the battle, ran into each other) and taking a spot on one of the many couches or chairs Tony had in his gigantic living room, the party started. That is, if you could count drinking alcohol and making small talk a party (not that Percy was drinking, he wasn't twenty-one yet, a fact that slightly shocked some of his teammates besides Natasha who looked more amused, as did Annabeth). Percy wondered if this was how all adult parties were. There was music playing faintly in the background, not loud enough to cover the sound of Tony and Bruce talking about some scientific thingy, and certainly not loud enough to dance too.

 

But Percy didn’t mind once he, Steve, and Natasha started sharing battle stories. Steve recalled some of his missions with his group, the Howling Commandos, which Percy faintly remembered from his past history classes that he had fallen asleep in a multitude of times. Most of Natasha’s missions, of course, were classified, but she did tell them a funny story about her and Clint in Budapest. Annabeth and Percy shared their own stories—moments from their past quests together.

 

It wasn’t too long until Tony and Bruce joined the conversation. Annabeth was quick to reel Tony into a side-conversation, firing off questions to him about the architecture of the building and its clean-energy plan. Tony kept up with her rapid questions, a smile on his face the entire time. Percy continued talking with the others, throwing around stories and jokes until Jarvis interrupted them saying that Clint had finally arrived and was on his way up.

 

“Finally,” Tony muttered as he pushed himself up. “There’s something I want to show you guys.” The billionaire walked off to greet their last guest. Percy took a sip of his coke while he waited for Tony to re-appear.

 

When he did a minute later with Clint, Percy’s eyes went past the blond archer and straight to the dog at his side. From what Percy could see, it looked like a yellow lab, with one of its eyes missing. The dog stood patiently at Clint’s side while Natasha greeted Clint with a hug. “Let me guess,” she said once she had detached herself. “You lost them?”

 

Clint shrugged before plopping himself onto the nearest chair. “Yeah.”  He said loudly, the word sounding over-pronounced. His dog came up to him and Clint started rubbing it behind its ears.

 

Percy frowned, unsure of what was going on. Steve seemed to share his sentiment if his tilted head and furrowed brow was anything to go by. Clint seemed to notice their confusion because the next thing he said was, “This is Lucky, my unofficial service dog.”

 

“You're deaf.” Percy realized. He recognized the speech pattern from the other demigods at the camps that were hard of hearing, mostly from monster related incidents. Percy then remembered selecting his college courses and choosing sign language as his elective. He leaned forward and was about to sign something when he remembered that New Rome taught DSL (Demigod Sign Language) instead of ASL—with signs for Hydra and Cyclopes while missing common words such as grocery store or airplane. Percy wondered if the two languages were similar enough that he could communicate if needed and told himself to ask Clint later.

 

Clint nodded. “Eighty percent, if that means anything. I learned how to read lips well, though.”

 

The room fell into a tense silence. Tony, Steve, and Bruce looked slightly put off, like they didn’t know what to do with the information. The only ones who weren’t fazed were Natasha, who, of course, had already known, and Percy and Annabeth, who knew more people like Clint.

 

After a few moments, Percy clapped his hands, drawing all attention to him. “So, Tony, you wanted to show us something?”

 

“Yes,” Tony remembered, drawing him out of his silence. He made his way to the coffee table and pulled up a hologram of the building they were currently in. Tony did some fancy hand gestures and soon enough, everyone was looking at what appeared to be floor plans. “I did some thinking and figured that if tall, dark, and evil ever showed back up, or any baddie for that matter, we should have some form of HQ.”

 

“So what’s this?” Steve gestured to the different floors. “Do you want us to help design the place?”

 

“Mmm, kind of. These are your rooms. Thor can have the top floor for whenever he shows up from Magic Kingdom, just for ease of coming and going. Legolas, you can have the room under him. After that, it’ll be me, Capsicle, Water Boy, Natasha, and finally Bruce. Of course, there’ll also be a kitchen-slash-living room, lab, med bay, and a gym that everyone will have access to.”

 

“You really thought this through,” Steve muttered, sounding impressed.

 

Tony shrugged, but Percy saw something flash across the billionaire’s face before he turned away, heading back to the bar. He quickly returned with a drink in his hand. “And now, for the real reason we’re all here.”

 

A hush fell over the room again. But this time, it was in honor of a good man. A man with a good heart and strong morals. Whose only intentions were in favor of the world.

 

“To Coulson,” Steve said.

 

“Coulson,” The others echoed, raising their glasses.

 

Tony was silent. His face was stony, but slowly, he raised his drink. “To Phil Coulson, the bravest and dumbest man I ever knew.”

 

\~*~/

 

When Percy’s eyelids started drooping, he knew it was time to head back to Camp. Bruce, Natasha, and Clint were already gone (Clint having said something about getting some pizza for Lucky) and Steve had just mentioned about heading back out when Percy realized what the time was.

 

“Aw schist.” Percy cursed when he saw the clock showed it was a quarter past midnight. Even if they left now for camp, they wouldn’t arrive until two in the morning. Percy found the idea of going back miserable.

 

He thought back to earlier in the night, when Tony had shown them the new plans for his—or now their—building. Percy had figured that that was Tony’s way of trying to make or keep friends, not that he could compare this experience with another as there wasn’t one. He only knew one billionaire superhero and he hoped it stayed that way.

 

Annabeth leaned back against the couch with her eyes closed, muttering something about wanting to sleep. Sharing her sentiment, Percy reluctantly pushed himself up and walked over to Tony who finished chatting with Steve and looked over towards Percy. “You about to head off to wherever your kind go when they want to drop completely off the map?”

 

“Actually,” Percy started. “You mentioned something about us having rooms? I know you probably didn’t mean right away—”

 

“No, no, it’s fine.” Tony removed Percy’s concern with a smile on his face that hadn’t been there seconds before. “I can show you the way, and J will let you have access to just about every floor for anything you might need.”

 

“That’s great, thanks man. Oh,” Percy remembered just as Tony started to turn around. “We didn’t bring anything.”

 

Tony sized Percy up, and Percy tilted his head curiously when a corner of Tony’s mouth turned down. “We have extras of most stuff like brushes and whatnot, but for the pajamas… you’d have to borrow mine. And I can grab something of Pepper’s for Annabeth.”

 

“Thank you. Really,” he reassured when Tony raised an eyebrow at him. “It’s nice of you to let me and Annabeth stay here.”

 

Tony stared at him for a second before nodding. “Right. Well, I’m gonna go get the stuff. Just wait here.”

 

He walked off, leaving Percy with a sleepy Annabeth. Strands of her bun had fallen out and Percy noticed the slight smear of mascara under her eye when he got closer. She looked pretty, just lightly dozing off on the couch.

 

Percy knelt down. He started gently shaking Annabeth, pushing her to wake up. She opened one bleary eye. “Hey wise girl,” Percy greeted.

 

Annabeth yawned. “What time is it? Are we leaving soon?”

 

“It’s just past midnight. Tony’s letting us stay the night here.”

 

“That’s nice of him.” Annabeth rubbed her eyes, smearing the mascara even more. Percy held out his hand and helped her up, brushing the hair that had fallen in her face back. “Everything good?”

 

Percy nodded. “Yeah. Just thinking about how happy I am to be with you.”

 

Annabeth smiled. “Me too.”

 

Tony chose that moment to walk back in. Percy and Annabeth didn’t jump apart, but they did turn to face the billionaire, holding a pile of clothes. He paused, looking back and forth between the two. “I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?”

 

“Nope,” Annabeth answered.

 

Tony gave a slight nod. “C’mon, your rooms are this way."

 

\~*~/

 

Tony shot up, covered in sweat. Images flashed behind his eyes—the cave in Afghanistan, the explosions at Stark Expo, flying through the giant wormhole. He could still feel the bitter cold of space, the gripping fear as the ship exploded, the numb sensation as he started to fall back down—

 

The sheets clung to him. Suddenly feeling confined, Tony ripped them away, launching himself from his bed.

 

Another nightmare. Another night spent awake.

 

Ever since the battle, Tony had been losing sleep to memories coming back to haunt him. At first, they had just featured the battle of New York. It wasn’t until just last week that his dreams started resurfacing some of the older stuff such as the time his former long-time business partner, Obadiah Stane, tried to kill him. Tony was glad that Pepper was away on business for the time being. The billionaire didn’t want her to see him this way. Not yet.

 

He didn’t even realize he had left his bedroom until he found himself standing in his living room and a cautious voice behind saying, “Tony?”

 

Behind him, standing hesitantly in the doorway, was Percy. He had a concerned look on his face. His eyebrows were furrowed together, and his eyes were questioning as he looked Tony over. The scene would’ve been serious if Percy hadn’t been wearing the pjs that Tony had lent him. His pants were too short, stopping mid-calf, while the shirt was a little tight in the shoulder area.

 

“Jarvis told me to come here,” Percy said, some of the concern leaving his face as he realized Tony wasn’t in immediate danger. “Are you okay?”

 

Tony didn’t answer right away. If he was being honest, he wasn’t alright. He hadn’t eaten real food in two days, and he couldn’t even remember the last time he had slept for longer than four hours. Tony may not have been in immediate danger, but he knew he would be later if kept this up.

 

Percy must’ve seen something on Tony’s face because the next thing he said was, “Race you to the coffee maker.”

 

\~*~/

 

There ended up not being much of a race, with Percy not knowing the way to the kitchen. In the end, Tony had led them there, before letting Percy fix a pot for them.

 

Percy settled himself on top of the kitchen counter, slowly sipping his cup of coffee, with Tony leaning against the counter opposite him. Tony nursed his own cup, enjoying the peaceful silence. Minutes passed and he realized that the anxiety he had felt before had passed. He glanced at Percy, who was more focused on staring out of the large windows. Tony wondered if the demigod knew that he had just helped him. He figured that Percy must’ve. Why would he be in his kitchen at two in the morning drinking a pot of coffee otherwise?

 

It wasn’t until Tony had finished his cup that he spoke up. “Did Jarvis wake you up and tell you what was going on?”

 

“I was already up.” Percy clarified, taking his eyes from the window and looking at Tony. “He just told me to head to the living room.”

 

Tony nodded. They fell back into a comfortable silence, both of them refilling their cups. After a while, Percy spoke softly, “You don’t have to, but sometimes talking about it can help. If you ever need a friend, I’m here.”

 

The offer hung in the air. Tony remained silent, mulling it over. He considered it for just a brief second before dismissing the idea. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk about it (maybe just a little), but he didn’t know what to say. Tony had never been to a shrink before, and while Percy certainly wasn’t qualified to be a full-fledged therapist, he had offered to listen…

 

“Do you ever feel like everything’s just coming apart, no matter how hard you try?” Tony found himself asking.

 

Percy gave him a small smile. “I hope you know you’re asking a person who deals with gods and monsters every day.” He sobered up. “But yeah. All the time.” Noticing Tony’s somber expression, he added, “Wanna know what cheers me up?”

 

Tony curiously followed Percy as he made his way to the window. The billionaire stared out the window, taking in the view of all the lights from the buildings. It truly was a pretty sight—even if he did prefer his place in Malibu over the city.

 

“That, up there.” Percy pointed into the dark night sky. Tony could see faint lights. Stars. “If I ever just feel the need to clear my head, taking some deep breaths and focusing on the stars. It usually works.” Percy gazed over at Tony. “See that constellation, right over there? That’s my favorite.”

 

Tony stared at the constellation. The image of a girl shooting her bow was a pretty sight, made up of burning gases billions of miles away. He tried to recall its name, but nothing came. Not surprising, considering Tony had never held a particular interest in the stars. He was always more focused on something he could do with his hands, something he could feel.

 

Percy’s face was melancholic. “The Huntress,” he muttered, seemingly lost in thought. Tony frowned at the odd tone in his voice, almost as if he was reliving a painful memory…

 

There was a sound of clinking glass behind them. Percy and Tony whirled around, not sure what to expect. Tony was ready to call on one of his suits—the words were on the tip of his tongue. Percy had fumbled getting into his pocket, the pants too tight to access easily. However, both of them stopped when they saw what, or rather who, stood in the kitchen.

 

Annabeth didn’t look impressed with the duo. She casually took a sip of coffee as she raised her eyebrow at them, unfazed. Tony and Percy relaxed. The son of Poseidon walked over to his girlfriend, whispering something to her while Tony glanced one last time out the window, unable to keep his mind from wandering to his latest nightmare, and the final haunting image of all his friends and teammates dead. He repressed a shudder when he recalled their words.

 

‘Your fault. It’s all your fault, Tony.’

 

“Hey man, are you okay?”

 

Tony couldn’t look at Percy, not yet. Not when he could see his dead body laid out in his mind. Not when the voices in his head were taunting him, blaming him for not doing enough.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder and Tony jumped at the sudden contact. Percy moved to stand in front of him. Annabeth was at his side, looking concerned if not upset. The amount of worry in both of their eyes threw Tony off a little, and it hit him that they cared. And it wasn’t his money or fame they cared for; it was Tony himself. In the past years, the number of people Tony could rely on could’ve been counted on one hand, and it felt so nice to finally have more people that he could trust.

 

Tony remembered that Percy and Annabeth were still staring at him, waiting for him to answer Percy’s question. “I’ll be alright,” he eventually said. “Don’t sweat it, water boy.”

 

Percy groaned, breaking the serious atmosphere, which Tony was glad for. Annabeth smiled as Percy complained to Tony, “Of all things, you choose water boy? I actually prefer Lancelot to this. It’s like me calling you metal suit.”

 

“Whatever you say, water boy. Or would you prefer aqua man? Sea dude? Oh, here’s a good one—ocean bro.”

 

“No, to all of those.”

 

“Boys, boys, no need to fight over the name calling,” Annabeth interjected with a large smile on her face. “Now, tin can and liquid guy—” The guys interrupted her, sending them into a whole new round of banter.

 

A couple hours later, when the sun had risen and people started getting ready for the day, Pepper Potts walked into the kitchen, having just landed back in New York that morning, planning to grab a cup of coffee and an apple before getting to work on the new business deal with a building company.

 

She paused when she saw three empty cups sitting by the sink. Her eyes drifted to the kitchen table that she had insisted on getting (‘We need a table, Tony. Do you expect to eat in the living room?’) where she saw three people sleeping. A black-haired boy, Percy, if she remembered correctly from what Tony told her, was slumped in his chair, lips parted, and arm wrapped around a blonde woman, who was using Percy as a pillow.

 

Tony sat across from them, arms cushioning his head from the hard tabletop. Pepper noticed that he looked at peace. The few times that their schedules had lined up and she had managed to convince Tony to sleep, she had felt him slip off in the middle of the night. She knew he was suffering from nightmares, but he wouldn’t tell her what they were ever about. But, from the looks of it, maybe Tony had finally found someone to talk to about it.

 

A soft smile on her face, she grabbed her breakfast and left, giving the others some time to rest.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

11.5 – Apparently, Hellhounds Like Blue Cake

 

The sun streamed in through the large windows, basking the bedroom in its golden light. Percy’s eyes slowly blinked open from the patch of sunlight hitting him squarely in the face. He rolled sleepily onto his other side. Annabeth laid there and smiled at him, her golden curls a tangle and grey eyes still bleary with sleep.

 

“Morning, sleepyhead,” she murmured before leaning in for a quick kiss. “Happy birthday.”

 

Percy blinked again, this time more forcefully as he remembered what day it was—August eighteenth. He was officially twenty-one today.

 

Annabeth gave a soft giggle. “Don’t tell me you forgot again. Come on, what are some things you want to do today?”

 

“Well… we have to go see mom and Paul. And then after, head to camp?”

 

Annabeth’s smile dropped for the briefest of seconds, but she quickly started talking, “How about we explore the city?” She suggested. “Just you and me. No monsters trying to kill us, no aliens trying to invade, just two people having some fun.”

 

“Are you just trying to find an excuse to dig through some of the rubble?” Percy questioned, narrowing his eyes playfully. “Find something that you can take back to your cabin and have your siblings’ study?”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Uh-huh. I know about the energy gun.”

 

“Shhh,” Annabeth gave him another quick peck on the cheek before climbing out of the bed and heading over to the window. The view from their floor in the tower was incredible, overlooking all the buildings. From up here, everything looked small.

 

Percy frowned as he caught the faint smell of smoke. His nose scrunched up at the foul, nose-burning smell. “Do you smell that?”

 

Annabeth frowned and nodded. “Do you think…”

 

They exchanged a quick, panicked look before running to the staircase, taking the steps two at a time to reach the floor that hosted the kitchen and other communal areas. The smell of smoke grew as they reached the correct floor.

 

Tony looked up at the demigods calmly as they ran into the room, even as the smoke cloud continued to grow larger with each passing second. “Hey water boy, you like pancakes, right? I was thinking about placing an order from this little diner a couple streets down. It wasn’t totally crushed from the invasion and I’m feeling hungry.”

 

He was met with gaping mouths as the two demigods stared at the giant smoke cloud. Tony rolled his eyes. “Hey J, air out the place, will you?”

 

Fans started whirling, and it wasn’t too long before the smoke started to fade. Tony quickly moved the pan that had been sitting on the stove into the sink, a conspicuous black object in it. “So,” he looked back up at Percy. “Hungary? Yes or no?”

 

“Uh, sure. Yeah.” Percy replied as he took a seat at the counter.

 

Annabeth slid into the seat next to him, eyes scanning the room. “Where are the others?”

 

“Capsicle’s on his way and Banner is down in the labs at the moment. Clint and Natasha got called away last minute for a SHIELD thing.” Tony eyed Annabeth nervously, like he was scared of saying the wrong thing. “I’m sure they wanted to be here, of course.

 

“I’m starving,” Percy said loudly, breaking off Tony’s little trip down memory lane. “Let’s order some pancakes.”

 

\~*~/

 

About twenty minutes later there were several large stacks of fluffy-looking pancakes waiting to be devoured. Bruce had emerged from the lab, heavy bags under his eyes but a smile on his face nonetheless.

 

“Happy birthday.” He said to Percy as he grabbed a plate and pulled a pancake from the stack.

 

“Thanks.” Percy got his own plate and pushed five pancakes onto it. He grabbed the syrup and started pouring. He could feel Annabeth watching him as he used about a quarter or the bottle, but Percy had a smile on his face when he determined that his pancakes had enough syrup.

 

The elevator dinged and Steve walked out, holding a small, neatly wrapped package. A grin appeared on his face when he saw the pancakes. He quickly wished Percy a happy birthday before he grabbed a plate, loading even more pancakes than Percy. Percy heard Tony sigh and mutter something about going bankrupt from buying food to feed everyone before wandering away. Steve took the seat Tony had just abandoned with his large stack of pancakes.

 

They ate in silence for a while. Bruce finished his breakfast way before the others and left to go find Tony, leaving Steve, Annabeth, and Percy together. Steve took the time to slide the package across the table. It hit Percy’s plate.

 

Glancing up at Steve confusedly, he unwrapped the package to find a small box. Inside was a chain necklace with a dog tag. Etched into the steal, the dog tag read;

 

PERSEUS JACKSON

AUGUST 18, 1993

 

Percy flipped it over to find more, only on this side, it seemed to be a quote.

 

Be who you are. Not a perfect soldier or a confident leader, but a good man.

 

“I, uh, didn’t know exactly what to get you at first,” Steve started rambling when Percy didn’t say anything. “and if you don’t like it that’s—”

 

“Where’s the quote from?”

 

Steve paused. “It’s… it’s something that a friend told me before I got the serum. Well, it wasn’t that exactly, I added the leader part because it fits you, but—”

 

“Thank you,” Percy told him. He slipped the chain over his head and let the cold metal rest against his chest. “Seriously, thanks. You didn’t have to, but you did, so thanks.”

 

Steve smiled before getting up to get seconds. Annabeth leaned over and picked up the tag, mouthing the words as she slowly read it. “That’s nice of him.”

 

“I really wasn’t expecting anything,” Percy told her, which caused a slight frown. He leaned in and kissed her.

 

“Mmm, are you ready to go?” Annabeth asked once Percy had pulled away.

 

“I’m ready.”

 

\~*~/

 

“Alright, the presents go on that table right over there. Travis, I swear to gods if that explodes—”

 

“It won’t,” Travis called to Piper holding what looked suspiciously like one of the landmines that surrounded the Ares cabin. “Promise!”

 

Piper turned away from the child of Hermes as he made his way to the Hephaestus cabin. Gods knew what Leo wanted with that. He was supposed to be making a birthday cake, not an explosive. With a sigh, she turned to view the rest of the beach.

 

Telling Annabeth that she could get everything ready for Percy’s birthday at camp was a lot harder than she expected it to be. So far, she had already had to deal with two fires, a haywire singing and dancing card that jerked around before exploding, and other constant push-back and delays. Annabeth had assured her that she could stall Percy as long as needed, but Piper was beginning to wonder if they could have everything done by the end of the day.

 

Just then, she noticed a camper adding another chair to a table. “Wait—don’t put it there.” The demigod froze, still holding the chair. “It’s four to a table and why does this one already have five?”

 

The camper immediately grabbed the extra chair and dragged it off, passing Jason who seemed to be straining under the weight of the impossible amount of party supplies that Katie and Calypso kept piling into his arms. Apparently, they had grabbed the supplies from a single closet (a fact which, due to the sheer number of items, Piper found hard to believe).

 

Chiron wasn’t too far away from where the daughter of Aphrodite stood. Piper could hear him chastising Conner for stealing some of the magical plates from the dining pavilion. She heard Conner swear before Chiron reprimanded him again before telling him to go put the plates back.

 

Piper took a deep, calming breath. Everything was fine, she had everything in control. By the time Annabeth brought Percy, they’d have everything together—

 

“The water’s rising!”

 

Piper let out a long exhale through her nose. Right, the tides. How could she forget? She opened her eyes and walked over to where Grover was starting to pull back the tables. He looked tired from helping Jake Mason move the firework system for later tonight. Piper scanned for anyone who wasn’t currently doing anything. “Drew! Help Grover pull the tables back from the water.”

 

Drew looked up from where she had been filing her nails. She didn’t look happy to be doing manual labor but grudgingly went to help the satyr. Piper ran through the mental task list in her head. The food was ready to go, thanks to the nymphs. Jason was hanging the banner and the tables were set. Leo had promised the cake would be ready soon, so there was that. All that was left was—

 

“I forgot a present!”

 

Piper whirled around to find Hazel with a giant box of napkins which laid sideways in the sand that she had dropped. Her eyes were wide, and Piper noticed she appeared to be on the verge of tears. The clattering of silverware caught Piper’s ear. Grover and Drew had backed up from the tables and were staring at the shaking forks and knives, sending worried glances towards Hazel.

 

“How could I forget to get a present?” Hazel continued. Piper ran to her, wrapping her in a hug. “This is awful.”

 

“Hey, calm down,” Piper said, easing some charm speak into the command. “It’s alright. There’s still some time—” at least Piper hoped. “—and once you’re done with the napkins you can hurry to get him something. And if you don’t want to, I’m sure Percy would understand if you didn’t get him a gift.”

 

The silverware stopped shaking. Grover and Drew went back to work as Piper released Hazel. The younger girl picked up the basket of napkins and rushed off to finish. Another problem solved.

 

Leo and Malcolm appeared, carrying a large blue cake between them. Piper grinned. Finally.

 

She walked over to the table that the presents were, clearing a spot for the cake. The boys eased the cake down and high-fived. Piper checked the cake over, thanking Malcolm for his interest in baking otherwise they’d be without a cake.

 

“This is awesome,” Piper told the duo, who grinned. “How did it look when you tested it?”

 

Their grin faded. “We, uh, we didn’t test it,” Malcolm admitted.

 

“But it’ll work.” Leo jumped in, reassuring Piper. “Percy won’t have any choice but to love it.”

 

Piper looked over the cake once more before nodding. “I hope it works. Now that you’re finally here, go finish setting up the fireworks. There set up, but I want to make sure they work.”

 

They scuttled off as fast as possible. Leo must not have been paying attention cause he managed to smack right into Jason who had finished the banner and was now helping Katie carry a tower of decorations. Jason and Leo tumbled to the ground, landing on top of the paper decorations and squishing them. Katie cried out. “You ruined them.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Leo apologized, picking himself up.

 

“Sorry doesn’t fix the damage. I spent all night making those sea creatures.”

 

“Can’t we just use them as is?” Leo picked up the remains of a whale, which looked a bit more like a deflated balloon now. “Or not.”

 

“I’ll make do. Just stay out of the way.” Katie pushed him to the side as Calypso rushed to help her pick up the fallen creatures. Leo gave another apology before running to the firework stand.

 

The air in front of Piper shimmered and she did her best to put on a smile as Annabeth’s face appeared. The blonde kept glancing anxiously over her shoulder. “How’s it going?” Annabeth whispered.

 

Off in the distance, Piper heard a loud boom that sounded like a firework gone wrong. A second later, Travis was running by behind her, being chased by Leo. Piper forced her smile to stay. She gritted her teeth. “Perfect. Everything’s perfect.”

 

Another loud boom went off. Piper didn’t even flinch.

 

Annabeth looked concern. “Pipes? What’s happenin—”

 

“Wise girl?” Percy’s voice drifted faintly through the IM. “You okay? What was that noise?”

 

“I’d better go. Keep him busy.”

 

“Piper,” Annabeth started but Percy called her name again, his voice louder this time. “Fine. See you in an hour.” The IM cut off as Annabeth swiped through it and Piper’s shoulders slumped.

 

Travis screamed and the sound of something crashing followed. Piper sighed. It was going to be a long hour.

 

\~*~/

 

At seven o’clock, Percy and Annabeth stepped out of a cab at the base of Half-blood Hill. Percy was feeling antsy. The day had been great so far, but he had been itching to get to camp. Annabeth paid the cabbie while Percy headed on up the hill. Peleus greeted him with a snort, allowing Percy to pet him.

 

Percy paused after a second. Something didn’t sound right. He looked into camp, seeing no one, despite it being dinner time. “What the…” It was empty. The sound of laughter and swords clanking was nowhere to be heard.

 

“Come on,” Annabeth said, suddenly by his side. She grabbed his hand and started leading him towards the beach. “I set something up for us. Asked Chiron for some privacy.”

 

Percy let her lead him through camp. Even going through he found the place to be deserted. What had happened?

 

“Annabeth, hang on. I think something’s wrong…”

 

The ground changed from grass to sand and Percy found himself staring at a large banner that read in Ancient Greek; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Someone had put tables and chairs everywhere, along with a longer table that held boxes and a two-tier blue cake under a giant tent. There was a scorch mark on one of the rocks near the tent that had never been there before but he ignored it as the entire camp emerged from around the dunes.

 

“Happy birthday Percy!”

 

Percy heard the sound of fireworks and he turned to see Leo at the booth, firing them off. They arched into the sky, bursts of bright blue lighting up the sky. A huge smile appeared on Percy’s face. “Wow,” he muttered. “This is—”

 

Leo shouted, “Not again,” and Percy watched as a smaller firework veered off-course and made its course straight for the roof of the tent. Percy reacted quickly, controlling the water from the ocean to intercept the stray-firework. The water wrapped around it in a ball just as it exploded. A few campers ducked instinctively as water rained down on them.

 

Piper walked up to Annabeth and Percy, a sheepish smile on her face. “Sorry. Leo said something’s up with the controls and he hasn’t figured it out yet—”

 

“It’s fine,” Percy told her. “This is… awesome. Seriously.”

 

Piper looked relieved. “Good. Now let’s go eat some dinner.”

 

\~*~/

 

Percy sat at the head table, listening to Grover play a song on his pipes. His playing skills hadn’t improved much over the years, but it was the thought that counted. After a while, Piper announced that it was time for cake. Percy was brought over to the cake while Leo fiddled with something for a minute.

 

Lighting the one giant candle on top, the cake began to spin slowly, the tiers separating. Percy was impressed with the dancing cake for only a second before it began to spin wildly.

 

“Oh no,” Leo muttered as the top tier cake flying off, hitting a son of Morpheus in the face. “Watch out!”

 

The bottom layer exploded, splattering everyone in a ten-foot vicinity in blue frosting and cake. Percy could feel it covering the entirety of his face. He wiped it from his eyes to see Piper standing over Leo, both of them also covered head-to-toe in blue.

 

“Leo, you said it would work!”

 

“I said I thought it did! Besides, Malcolm’s the one who did the planning.”

 

“Please leave me out of this.”

 

Percy started laughing. Piper froze mid-sentence and stared at Percy. “Guys,” Percy said loudly. “This is perfect.” He wrapped them both in a hug. “Thanks.”

 

The ground started shaking and Percy pulled away to see Mrs. O’Leary bounding her way over to him, the crowd of demigods parting to avoid getting trampled by the over-eager hellhound. With her giant, sandpaper-like tongue, she licked the cake off of Percy, tail wagging.

 

Annabeth joined his side to pet Mrs. O’Leary. She had gotten blue frosting in her hair and a large amount on her back. She smiled at him and Percy couldn’t help but think that this was the best birthday he’d ever had.

 

 

Chapter Text

12 - Time to Sing the Clean-Up Song


Annabeth remembered the first time she knew she wanted to become an architect.

 

She had been six, and her family had decided to take a day trip to Lynchburg. While her father had been fascinated by the Civil War museum, and her half-brothers interested in the park they had played at, Annabeth had been taken by the architecture—the old buildings that had lasted hundreds of years.

 

Even though the trip had ended abruptly, thanks to a small monster that Annabeth had seen and started freaking out over, it was one of Annabeth’s fonder memories. It was then that she had known that one day, she wanted to build a monument that would last thousands of years. Something that wouldn’t be torn down easily. Something permanent.

 

It was that one moment that had started her down a path that led to her current predicament.

 

At that moment, Annabeth was standing outside Tony’s office, located on one of the lower floors of the tower. She had the folder that contained her prints and her portfolio clutched tightly to her chest as she pondered how to feel. Nervous? Excited?

 

In her mind, Annabeth knew it was ridiculous to be nervous. For weeks, she and Percy had been staying at the tower, where they planned on staying until college started back up in mid-September. She interacted with Tony almost daily. Going into an interview with him, that she had requested (Tony's initial plan was to just hire her without any sort of interview, but Annabeth had wanted to actually work for it), should be easy.

 

But this was finally the start of her road to becoming a famous architect. Rebuilding the city would be the first step, and from there? Well, Annabeth didn’t know for sure. Maybe be handed her own project, or continue working with Tony until she could open her own law firm?

 

Annabeth cleared her head of those thoughts. It was far too early to be thinking about that. First thing first, land this job. She took a deep breath and quietly reminded herself that she had this. After all, this was the same person who had fought in two wars. Went head-to-head with Arachne (still hated the sight of spiders). All that, and she was getting worked up over a single interview?

 

An interview that will make or break your future.

 

Annabeth told the voice in her head to stuff it and opened the door.

 

Tony’s office was fully decked out with framed rock band posters, a few action figures that sat on shelves (reminding Annabeth of Percy’s little growing collection, with a complete Avengers set), and even an ironman bobblehead that rested on the large wooden desk. Despite all the extra decorations that Annabeth could’ve found in a teenager’s room, the office still managed to keep an air of professionalism to it (which Annabeth attributed to Pepper).

 

There were three people in the room waiting for her.

 

The first two, sitting in front of the desk, were new to Annabeth. On the demigod’s right was an older woman with her hair pulled back into a sleek bun and beady eyes that scanned Annabeth. Sitting next to her was an older man. He was a stark contrast to the stern-looking woman, with a small smile that eased Annabeth some. She figured that they were some of the other architects working on the project and had come to see what she had to offer.

 

Annabeth’s eyes finally drifted towards Tony, who sat behind the desk with his legs propped up on top. He had a ball in his hand and idly tossed the ball into the air and catching it. Tony glanced in her direction and sent her a grin. “Welcome, Ms. Chase. Take a seat between Salt and Pepper right here and we can get started.”

 

The woman, ‘Salt’, shifted her eyes away from Annabeth to glare at Tony. Annabeth took a seat in the empty chair. She placed her folders on the desk, letting Tony grab them. He started flicking through the pages, humming every once in a while. Even though Annabeth had shown Tony her plans before (the thing that convinced Tony to bring Annabeth in for an interview), she was nervous. Her hand flew up to her necklace, running her hands over the leather cord and smooth wooden bead, nervously playing with the small shell that Percy had given her years ago. The motion helped calm her nerves as Tony continued looking over her prints.

 

On her right, ‘Salt’ shifted in her seat, letting out a displeased sigh as Tony flipped back to the front of the folder, seemingly starting over. “Any day now.”

 

“Shh,” Tony said, flipping through pages quickly. “I’m admiring.” He closed the folder and tossed it to ‘Pepper’ on Annabeth’s left. “Look at that and tell me what you think. I mean I’ve already made up my mind, but for formality’s sake, let’s hear your opinions.”

 

The man opened the folder and started pouring over the document inside. Annabeth felt butterflies appear in her stomach. Her nerves only kicked up when the man frowned and handed a print to the ‘Salt’.

 

“Hey Hedwig,” Annabeth started slightly when Tony called her, using the nickname he had started calling her (“She’s an owl and she’s smart!” Tony had claimed one day. “It’s perfect.”). “Pepper’s birthday is coming up and I need some help figuring out what to get her. Any ideas?”

 

Annabeth tore her eyes away from the other two architects who were moving across the room to discuss the papers. “Uhhh, flowers? No, wait. Um, jewelry? I don’t know.”

 

“Well, what does Percy normally get you?”

 

Annabeth remained silent, not wanting to tell Tony about the dagger Percy had given her when she turned eighteen, or the ride with hippocampus when she turned twenty. Tony seemed to realize as his eyes flicked to the back of the room. Annabeth leaned back in her chair as another memory floated through.

 

“Maybe, just a nice dinner? Somewhere Pepper likes, or maybe a picnic.” Flashes of Percy offering her a slice of chocolate cake, a single candle in it. It had been just the two of them. No work, no responsibilities. Just peace.

 

Tony smiled. “I like that idea. Thank you.”

 

Annabeth realized that the whispering had stopped, and the two architects were standing behind them. There was a new twinkle in the woman’s eyes as she eyed Annabeth in a new light. “We’ve decided that she would make a good addition to the team.” ‘Pepper’ said with a large smile. He turned to Annabeth, holding his hand out for Annabeth to take. “Welcome aboard, Ms. Chase.”

 

Annabeth shook the man’s hand. “Thank you so much, Mr...?”

 

“Clifford Porter. And this is—"

 

“Sylvia Keen.” The woman cut in, not bothering to take Annabeth’s hand. “Congratulations. I want you to know that this is a rigorous job and I expect you to be able to keep up with us. I don’t have any patience for those who don’t take it seriously. Am I clear?”

 

Annabeth nodded.

 

“Good. I’m curious to see what you bring to the table, Ms. Chase.”

 

Sylvia handed back her folders before excusing herself and Clifford from the room. Tony clapped his hand on Annabeth’s shoulder. “Way to go, Hedwig. I knew you could—”

 

“Thank you!” She turned around and hugged Tony. Tony chuckled and gave her another congratulatory pat. Annabeth pulled back, a large grin overtaking her face. “I gotta go tell Percy.”

 

She started to run to the door. She paused in the doorway and looked back at Tony. “Thank you, again.”

 

Tony watched her run from the room, a small smile forming. “No problem, kiddo.”

 

\~*~/

 

Three days later, Annabeth found herself in a conference room with the rest of the architects.

 

There were a total of nine other architects, Annabeth making the tenth one. She was thankful for Clifford, who took the role of taking her around the room and slowly introducing her to everyone. Three architects were representatives from a small firm, while the rest seemed to work with various big firms such as HOK. There were many names, several “I’m excited to work with you”s, and the comments from two architects saying “don’t slow us down.”

 

It didn’t help that everyone in the room seemed to be in their mid-forties to early sixties. They had been chosen because they were the best of the best, so many years of experience under their belts.

 

It would be a lie to say Annabeth didn’t feel just a little intimidated.

 

But Annabeth shoved aside the butterflies and focused on the task. She had dreamed of this since she was a little girl. Annabeth had read and studied as much as she could, gone to college, for Hades’ sake, she had even re-designed Olympus when she was sixteen! A smile formed on Annabeth’s face, sliding quietly into her seat as Sylvia called for the meeting to start.

 

There was a new air that surrounded Sylvia. She seemed to radiate confidence, something Annabeth had seen Percy do before when leading them in battles. Everyone became silent. Sylvia scanned her eyes over the long table. She paused slightly when her eyes landed on Annabeth. Annabeth couldn’t tell what the older woman was thinking, her poker face not giving anything away.

 

Eventually, Sylvia sat down at the head of the table. “I’m glad to see everyone again. Now in this meeting, I want to build a foundation plan that we can then use to build everything else off of. We’ll start by throwing out some ideas and then see where that leads us. Who’d like to go first?”

 

As the meeting progressed, Annabeth fell into her comfort zone. She knew this stuff, having studied it for fifteen years. Annabeth threw in her own ideas, most of which gained some interest from the others. The meeting seemed to fly by, and before Annabeth knew it, they were wrapping up, putting the final ideas on the board.

 

“That was, perhaps, the most successful first meeting,” Sylvia told them. “We have a good starting place. Next time we can start a plan for the more residential areas.”

 

Most of the architects left. Clifford walked up to Annabeth, a large smile on his face. “You did wonderfully, didn’t let your nerves get to you.” He praised Annabeth.

 

“I was too distracted to be nervous,” Annabeth admitted. With the excitement and focus on the task, Annabeth hadn’t worried about what the other architects would think. “Thank you for taking a chance on me.”

 

“I would say you have potential, but what you have is better. You have determination. That’ll get you far if you keep it up.” He gave her a pat on the back. “Go home and rest. It’s going to be a long couple of weeks coming up for us.”

 

Later, when Annabeth stepped off the elevator onto her and Percy’s floor, she was enveloped in Percy’s arm. The hug was warm, and Annabeth happily melted into it. She proceeded to tell him all about her day. Annabeth knew Percy didn’t always understand the things she mentioned, but he never showed any disinterest in what Annabeth said. She knew that he enjoyed just listening to her talk, watching the way her eyes would light up when talking about architecture.

 

Percy just smiled. “I’m so happy for you, wise girl.”

 

\~*~/

 

Three days later Annabeth discovered a small problem.

 

A small problem stretching from New York to New Rome.

 

“Percy, how are we gonna do this?” Annabeth and Percy were sitting on the couch in their living room. Both of them had realized the huge conflict Annabeth’s new job posed when Frank IM’d them, asking what their plans were for next week when they were supposed to be back in New Rome. At college. “College starts next week and I need to be here with the rest of the architects working on the rebuild—”

 

Percy reached forward and gently grabbed Annabeth’s hands that had been waving wildly through the air. “Hey, we can figure something out.” Annabeth nodded, taking a deep calming breath. “There’s a couple of options. We could try to figure out some way to let you work from California. Maybe talk to Tony and see if he could hook you up with something.”

 

Annabeth wasn’t too pleased with the idea. She wanted to be hands-on with the rest, not sitting behind a monster-attracting computer screen from across the country. Percy must’ve seen her displeasure because he added, “or we could just not go to college.”

 

“What?” Annabeth’s head snapped up. “We can’t just not go to college.”

 

“Why not?” Percy challenged. “Your hands are going to be full working and besides, it's not like they could teach me stuff that I don’t already know in Marine Biology.”

 

“What would you do?”

 

Percy shrugged. “I dunno. Get a job at the aquarium? I think I’d be over-qualified to work there, personally.”

 

“How would you tell them that? Just say ‘I’m the son of Poseidon, I can speak fish’?”

 

“Pretty much, yeah.”

 

Annabeth laughed. She smiled as she pondered Percy’s idea. “You know what, that’s not a bad idea.”

 

Percy frowned, his brows furrowing. “Me telling the New York aquarium that I talk to fish?”

 

“No, not that part, seaweed brain.” Annabeth lightly shoved Percy’s arm. “Us staying in New York. Your parents and Estelle are here—”

 

“And so is your job.”

 

She nodded. “And you’re right in saying that I’d be too busy to actually focus on schoolwork.”

 

Percy took Annabeth’s hands again, a smile on his face. “So it’s official? We’re not going back to college?”

 

“I guess it is.” Annabeth smiled. “This is kinda crazy, right?”

 

“I know. No more homework!” Percy pulled Annabeth into a hug, laughing. “Officially done with tests and teachers.”

 

“Yeah, we are, aren’t we? We did it.” Annabeth thought back to her childhood, hearing all the stories of half-bloods getting killed before they could ever go to college. For a while, she had thought she and Percy would be added to that group.

 

How lucky she was that she was wrong.