|From Montauk to the End of the World
Author: pretense PM
There was this one trip to Montauk that didn't go exactly as planned.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Romance - Luke C. & Percy J. - Chapters: 36 - Words: 116,650 - Reviews: 271 - Favs: 221 - Follows: 239 - Updated: 04-06-13 - Published: 10-25-11 - id: 7493588
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Something felt different when he rose from sleep that morning – something in the air, in the too comfortable warmth of the sheets, in the light touches on his cheek. A moan rumbled in his chest and he felt the soft warmth against him shift lightly. He furrowed his brows and held onto the smooth figure, feeling apprehensive at the thought of it slipping away.
A quiet peal of laughter reached his ears followed by an amused murmur. "All these years we've slept in the same bed and I only find out now that you're a hugger…"
Light blue eyes blinked open, finding focus on the smiling face just within two inches of himself. Luke wore a confused expression which quickly gave way to shock when he realized their intimate position and their lack of clothes but then memories of the previous night surfaced in his foggy brain and his face finally settled on a fond look. "Good morning…"
The age-old gesture of Luke's hand brushing back his bangs suddenly felt like the most romantic thing in the world and Percy's breath hitched a little. "The best morning, actually," he whispered, leaning in close.
Luke's hand trailed up the porcelain skin from the base of Percy's spine up to his neck, urging the younger one closer as he moved in to brush their sleep-dry lips. "You don't usually wake up before me," Luke noted, heart eerily calm as though it was the usual business for him to wake up naked with the teen in his arms.
Percy only smiled in reply, pursing his lips and pressing Luke onto his back. His sleep had been troubled and when he woke up at the crack of dawn, he couldn't bring himself to return to the land of dreams – but Luke didn't need to know that. Today was Luke's big day, the big day for everyone in their camp; Percy thought it best not to add unnecessary worry. He positioned himself over Luke, laying chest to chest and tangling his fingers into sandy blond hair. Blue eyes were warm, affection shining in their depths as Luke's hands traveled down his arms and held him in place.
Pale sunlight streamed in from the open balcony. Fresh wafts of the ocean breeze cooled the room but their sleep-warm bodies kept them more than comfortable.
Luke relaxed further as Percy lay down on his chest, nimble fingers drawing his face lower so that their chins almost touched. But before Percy could close the short distance between their lips, the suite's door banged open.
Therese Nolan took a step in, dressed in full battle regalia. She saw her two superiors in bed covered by a single sheet and she promptly backed out. The door slammed shut, followed by a quick shout from the daughter of Enyo. "Apologies for the interruption!"
It all happened so quickly that Percy and Luke were struck immobile, brains still catching up. The sound of more than one pair of hurried footsteps moving away echoed from the closed door and Luke burst out laughing. Percy pouted at him but was soon coerced into chuckling along. Luke traced the bruised patch of skin on Percy's neck with one hand, smiling at his handiwork. "It's safe to assume we have a search party looking for us."
"Should've left a note," Percy grinned as Luke rolled them over until the blond was on top. He leaned in a little to the man's touch, holding back a moan as their bare bodies lined up when Luke kissed his forehead. "Now what?"
A heave of breath left Luke, his hand longingly caressing Percy's cheek. "Now we get back to the real world."
His hands descended on leather and metal, texture rough and temperature cool under his fingertips. Bright eyes traveled the steel length installed upon the wall, finding scars and dents on the trusty scabbard now covered with a thin layer of dust. The corners of his mouth tightened and with a decisive grip he pulled the empty sword sheath down from its mount.
Percy entered their suite to find Luke slipping the scabbard's leather strap into the belt loops of his camouflage pants. The wooden door was left slightly ajar as Percy hastened in his steps towards the blond.
"For old times' sake," Luke answered the unspoken question as he saw the teen approach in his periphery. He straightened up, Backbiter's sheath secure at his side.
"You still look silly," Percy stated, nonetheless allowing a small grin to lift his lips. "And don't tell me you're planning to lead this expedition half-naked." His focus flicked between Luke's bare chest and the man's mirth-filled blue eyes, raising a brow.
Luke returned the demigod's smile. "Okay, I won't tell you."
Percy rolled his eyes, walking over to the closet and picking out a plain white tee. As he pushed the drawer back, he felt Luke come up behind him and wrap strong arms around his waist. Luke's chin rested on his shoulder, lips pressing a light kiss on the hickey on his neck; Percy gave a short hum of approval. He picked apart Luke's hands and placed the pressed shirt between them, meeting Luke's lips for a fleeting kiss. "At least wear a t-shirt."
A pointed cough shot through the silence, making the two half-bloods look towards the door. Kelli's red lips were hitched in a smirk, amber eyes narrowed at her superiors as she delivered a message. "The army has been assembled in the courtyard. They await your orders." She could feel the gossamer warmth dissolving as Luke separated from Percy, a familiar steel edge highlighting the suddenly guarded eyes.
"We'll be joining them shortly."
The senior empousa bowed, pulling the door shut as she exited – the ghost of her knowing smile was the last to leave the room.
Luke pulled on the t-shirt Percy had picked out for him while the younger one fetched his collapsible shield. Percy strapped on the bronze wristwatch, its decorated clock face etched with symbols of victory – he hoped they would prove true for them now more than ever. Luke headed over towards the corner closet throwing the doors wide open and revealing a pair of bronze Greek armor. He put on the bronze breastplate over his T-shirt and Percy was at his side in an instant, securing the clasps. When Percy was done, Luke picked out the teen's armor and helped him into them. He also brought down a pair of leather arm bracers and slipped them onto the shorter half-blood's forearms.
Percy closed the armoire. "I'm all set."
Ice blue eyes swept the room, taking in every speck of detail. Luke found the bedside table where a golden discus and a small hand-painted vase were displayed. The discus had faded a bit over the years, the once blinding sheen dulled, but the etching on its back was still well-defined. The vase, on the other hand, showed marginally more damage. Cracks ran all over the terracotta piece, crisscrossing over the black-painted figures of Greek heroes – evidence of a once-broken-pact, but the vase stood whole now; meticulously glued together by shaking hands and a heavy heart.
Quietly, Percy allowed Luke his time. He followed the blond's eyes all over their shared room and he felt an indefinable shiver run down his body when Luke's gaze settled on the pair of gifts. "Do you remember when you bought me that?" Percy couldn't stop himself from asking in a subdued tone.
"I told you that one day you'd be just like those heroes you idolized so much," Luke replied in the same shushed voice. "You were twelve, I could tell that you didn't believe me then… so how about now?"
"Now?" Green eyes looked up past ebony bangs. "Now, there's only one hero in my eyes, the one who had always been there. I will lead his army to victory because he promised me that he'll come back."
Luke nodded, a small smile softening his features. "Heroes always keep their promises."
Rows and rows of armored figures were lined up before them, weapons of steel and celestial bronze glinting under the morning sun. Grim faces looked up at the pair that stood atop the short flight of stairs. The air all around them was tight and tense. A low grumble came from Atlas deep in the middle of the palace and an uneasy shift flitted through the gathered troops.
Luke cleared his throat, prompting everyone to attention. On his direct right stood Percy, behind them the rest of the faction leaders stood in a single file. "This is the day we've been preparing for," Luke addressed his army with a strong voice. "Before this day comes to an end, we will have Lord Kronos among us. He will walk the earth once more."
Fists took to the air, raising weapons with a loud battle cry. "LORD KRONOS!"
"I will lead the first squadron into the labyrinth, clearing the path to our invasion," Luke continued. "By sundown, Camp Half-Blood will fall!"
A deafening roar rose from the army as they threw their fisted right hands into the air sans weaponry and then began thumping their chests, armor and all. The faction leaders soon followed and Percy held his fist close to his heart.
Luke struck his own right hand against his chest, fingers curled tight into his palm. "Down with the gods and hail Kronos!"
"KRONOS! KRONOS! KRONOS!"
When the last shout died down, Luke turned towards his subordinates. "Queen Sess," he nodded towards the Snake Queen. "I require a couple of your subjects for the expedition."
The green-scaled royalty revealed her fangs when she smiled, motioning with a gold-cuffed hand for three Scythian Dracaena to move forward. "Will three be enough?"
"Three are plenty, dear Queen." Luke bowed again before turning towards the daughter of Enyo. "You stay with the army, Nolan, keep them at the ready. We will return with the string and after that, the invasion of Camp Half-Blood will commence."
Therese nodded, the grip on her sword tight. "I will send two more demigods to accompany you." She met the eyes of the front-most half-bloods in line and they stepped up.
Luke's gaze snapped to a female telekhine standing in place of the Master. "Make sure that the scythe is here by noon."
"Yes, my Lord." The telekhine bowed its tall frame, sleek body catching the rays of the sun.
Turning towards the senior empousa, Luke began to speak only to be cut off. "Kelli–"
"I will personally join the quest," Kelli wore a cocksure smile.
"I was going to have you prepare the sarcophagus under Lady Hecate's guidance," Luke intoned.
"Another can handle that," Kelli replied easily, amber eyes scouring the gathered army until they met another empousa's gaze. "Tammi, come up here."
An empousa with pale skin and shoulder-length wavy blond hair went up the steps. "My Lord." She curtsied in her battle dress towards Luke.
Luke considered the new empousa. "Have Lady Hecate guide you in preparing Lord Kronos' sarcophagus. It must be ready for the ritual by our return."
"Of course, my Lord." Tammi smiled and Kelli placed a hand on her shoulder, prompting the lower-ranked empousa back to her place.
"So are we good to go?" Kelli asked.
Luke nodded. "After me."
Percy walked in stride with Luke, parting the lined-up troops as they made their way towards the labyrinth's entrance.
Renewed shouts burst forth from the army as the first squadron passed, the Lord of Time's name was invoked as a war cry. This day would go down in history.
A copy of Holyfield's map was spread out, the bright glow of a flashlight illuminating the inked-in words and pathways.
Luke cursed. "It should've been the last turn." A hand covered his own as his grip crumpled the sides of the paper.
"Hey, calm down," Percy soothed, taking the map from Luke's hands and examining it himself. "We know that the labyrinth is constantly evolving, but if we can find another landmark, we'll get on track again."
A grumbling breath came from the older demigod, echoing in the stone room that was empty save for the two of them. Luke ran a hand down his face, taking deep inhales. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "It's just… It's been hours – and the army is expecting – and the sarcophagus – Lord Kronos–"
"Luke." A pair of hands cupped the blond's cheeks and ice blue eyes met a sea green pair. "It's going to be okay," Percy said, the map folded carefully and stuck into his pocket. He caressed the tanned cheeks, carefully tracing the thick white scar. "You're stressed, I understand that, but you're not just going to give up, alright? That's not the Luke I know."
Another sigh. "You're right. This isn't the time and place for dramatics." Luke placed his own hand atop Percy's and pressed a soft kiss on the teen's palm. "Where would I be without you?"
"I don't want to think about that," Percy murmured, turning Luke's face towards him as he stood up on tiptoes. "Because that would mean that I'll be somewhere else without you, too."
Luke's shadow fell over Percy as he leaned in, lips just brushing together.
"Sirs!" A demigod came running from the corridor. "The dracaenae – oh! I'm sorry–"
Percy dropped back on his feet, darkened eyes a little extra sharp as he regarded their underling.
"What is it that you came to report, Karam?" Luke asked, appearing untroubled.
"The dracaena, sir, they found a half-blood."
"Alone? Wandering the maze?" Percy's brows furrowed.
"Yes, sir, you'd better come quick. The dracaenae has got him cornered in the next chamber."
"Who is it?" Luke frowned, signaling at Karam to lead the way.
"No one I've seen before, sir." The demigod held out a torch as he headed back down the corridor from which he came.
Luke nodded. "A blessing from Kronos. We may be able to use this half-blood."
They entered a stone chamber exactly like the one they'd just left. The three snake women were surrounding a wiry teenage boy in sullied jeans and a jacket. The dracaena in the center held the demigod still, the last few feet of her reptilian body wrapped around the teen's legs, while her fellows had the points of their javelins aimed at the neck. Glossy black hair framed the thin face as he looked up, an eye patch covering his left eye.
The army's leaders halted, vaguely recognizing the half-blood before them.
"It's me, Ethan!" The demigod shouted, struggling against the dracaena's hold. "I used to lodge in the Hermes Cabin!"
And then it clicked. Luke thought he heard the splash of water and the clunk of a metal pail against wooden floorboards again.
"Nakamura?" Luke peered at the dark-eyed demigod who nodded enthusiastically. With the confirmation, he gestured for the dracaenae to release the teen.
"What happened to you?" Percy asked, watching the half-Japanese teen drop to the ground and pick up a foreign-looking celestial bronze weapon.
Ethan stood up and dusted himself off, sheathing his wakizashi with great care. "I met my mother."
"Your mother?" Luke frowned, recalling that the teen was one of the unclaimed kids the last time he'd been at Camp.
"Nemesis, the Goddess of Balance, of Revenge…" Ethan's grim answer was punctuated by the dark reflection of flames in his good eye.
Luke and Percy shared a glance, consequently deciding it better not to ask about the demigod's missing eye. "Why are you here then?" Luke asked, stepping closer to Ethan who still had celestial bronze javelin tips pointed at him from behind.
"I want to join the Titan army," Ethan responded in a slightly trembling voice. "I want to serve the Lord of Time."
"For what reason?" Percy scrutinized the wiry frame and the soiled clothes.
Ethan felt a little taken aback at the younger demigod's tone. Two years had changed a lot in the bright-eyed teen, there was a deadly edge lacing the seemingly offhand question. He realized that Percy was still waiting for an answer and he tried his darnedest to give a good enough reply. Percy wasn't the only one who'd changed. "When Nemesis took my eye, she gave me my purpose."
The sudden silence of the room served to encourage Ethan to continue. "She taught me what it would take for this world to be saved – it's my duty to bring respect to the minor gods, to overthrow the self-important Olympians and bring about a new age. My mother deserves recognition; the minor gods all deserve their own throne."
Percy's gaze flicked past Ethan's shoulders, meeting the yellow eyes of the dracaenae and giving them a nod to lower their weapons.
A smirk finally rose to Luke's lips. "You've come to the right place."