So, you guys didn't like the ambiguous ending. Er… I would like you guys to read anything else I write, so here's a couple of epilogues. A couple, because I'm not sure which one I prefer. Pretty sure the situation I wrote about doesn't have a happy ending, so here are two, different, not-happy ones. You have been warned.
Percy kept trying.
It made no difference to the water which rippled and swayed completely independently, without the slightest deference to Percy's will. Not a move he made changed that. No matter how much desperate, he couldn't bend it to his will. He couldn't even feel that place inside him anymore.
"I told you," said Nico, "they've taken our powers. All of them."
But Percy couldn't believe it. He'd had these powers all his life, the ability to control water, to breathe it, to swim miles without breaking a sweat, to talk to the animals that made the sea their home. They couldn't just be gone.
"We tried," said Nico. "Now we take our punishment."
"I'm twenty three!" shouted Percy, "I'm not some kid!"
Nico shrugged, "I don't know if four-thousand year old immortals consider twenty three that old. And you should be grateful for it. Anyone else would be dead."
Percy swore again and punched the wall of the palace. "They're only keeping us alive to torture us," he groaned.
"No," said Nico, calmly, "they're keeping us alive because they don't want to start a war."
"Stupid!" Percy shouted, kicking the wall over and over again, "fucking! Stupid! Fucking! Motherfucking…!"
"Real helpful, Percy," Nico interrupted.
Percy stopped kicking and collapsed against the wall, "Made me feel better," he muttered.
Nico raised a knowing eyebrow, "Did it? Really?"
Frowning, Percy admitted; "No."
Nico didn't reply. He was sat with his back against a wall, staring ahead of him. Percy looked at him properly for the first time since Poseidon had caught them, and glared.
"At least I'm trying!" he growled, "you're just sat there!"
With a shrug, Nico said "We are but the playthings of the gods."
"What?" snapped Percy.
Nico looked at him, thoughtfully. "It's the way they always have been. No reason to think it's different now."
Percy gaped. "But… but… that's so unfair!"
Nico blinked, and Percy saw a smile playing around his lips. He thought about what he'd just said, heard it from Nico's point of view. He grunted. It did seem ridiculous enough to be funny.
But he had to groan too. "I can't believe I've been so stupid!" he said.
Nico's smile disappeared. "I'm sorry," he said.
"Me too," said Percy. "I was so stupid."
"No, but I'm really sorry," said Nico, "I'm sorry I put you in that situation."
He looked miserable, so miserable, Percy had to protest.
"It's not your fault," he said.
"Yes it is!" said Nico, "you'd be nowhere near here if it wasn't for me."
"But I wouldn't have it any other way," said Percy. And he meant it. There was no way he could just stay home with Annabeth and watch her read and design for the rest of his life. Nico was meant to be there, a part of his life. "I meant what I said."
Nico blinked again, and Percy saw the tears on his face. "Hey!" Percy protested, "it's OK," he got up and went towards Nico, "it'll be O…"
Suddenly, Poseidon appeared between them.
His face was uglier than Percy thought possible, twisted with rage and hatred. It was turned full on Percy, who couldn't hold the gaze.
"You will be relieved to know that my brother didn't notice the beast was missing," Poseidon said, "He was out chasing a nymph amongst other things, and I got the fucking thing back into the aquarium with seconds to spare. Lucky for you, or your head would have exploded just imagining our punishment for you."
Percy glared at the floor, "Yeah, because life's been a bowl full of cherries up 'til now!"
Poseidon surged forward. Everywhere around him, bubbles appeared, steaming, hissing. He stopped himself, inches from Percy. "Do not push me, boy!"
"What, are you going to take away my trident, too?" Percy sneered, angrily.
Poseidon took another furious step forward, and Percy tried hard not to flinch, but Poseidon stopped short. His eyes stayed glued on Percy, but he pointed at Nico.
Instantly Nico started to cough.
"What are you doing?" Percy asked, terrified.
Nico coughed louder, between great gasps of breath. He started turning red.
"I'm filling his lungs with water," said Poseidon, calmly, "Sea water, too. It will take him a couple of minutes to drown."
Nico couldn't breathe anymore. He clawed at his throat, at the ground. He choked, and it was the most horrible sound Percy could ever imagine.
"Stop it!" Percy cried.
Nico kept choking, falling forward. Percy ran to him, but as he passed Poseidon, a whirlpool of water erupted around him, holding him fast, but with a clear view of Nico drowning.
"Please!" Percy shouted.
Poseidon forced Percy closer to Nico, forcing him to watch the younger man's pain, but keeping him too far away to help. "Watch your lover die, Percy. Isn't that what you wanted?"
"No!" cried Percy, "Please! Stop it!"
"You wanted your family dead and gone," sneered Poseidon. "Why not start with him?"
"Please!" shouted Percy, "I'm sorry! Please! It's me you're angry with, not him!"
"Oh, I assure you, I'm angry with both of you."
"Please!" wept Percy, "I was trying to protect him, I couldn't let you hurt him! Please!"
"I'll do more than hurt him, now," snapped Poseidon. "I am the earth shaker! I have swallowed ships whole, pulled millions to their deaths. I have chosen who lived and who died for thousands of years, and I can kill him if I choose."
Percy couldn't even see Nico anymore, there were so many tears in his eyes. "Kill me!" he shouted, "kill me instead!"
He heard Poseidon grunt, then felt himself propelled across the room. He hit a chair, painfully, but didn't care. He was up in an instant, stumbling to Nico's side.
Nico had collapsed, landed flat on the ground, still as a corpse. He was always so pale, but now he seemed translucent. Percy brushed the hair out of his eyes. There wasn't a mark on Nico's face, and he couldn't tell. "Is he… have you?"
"He's not dead," snapped Poseidon. "And don't think for a moment that's a good thing. He lives because we don't fancy explaining his death to our brother."
Percy watched him warily. They both knew Hades' opinion on Nico's continued existence. It did not look good.
"Not that one," Poseidon snapped, as though reading Percy's thoughts. "If Ze… the sky god should hear of this, he will believe Hades and I are somehow responsible. We will not escape a war."
Percy wanted to argue. He didn't. He didn't want Nico to pay the price for his sass.
"At last," said Poseidon, cruelly, "I've discovered the trick to making you shut up."
"Lord Uncle," Nico coughed. His voice was quiet and hoarse, his throat had clearly been damaged by the water, "you have taken our powers; we are no threat to you now."
"You were never a threat to me, boy," growled Poseidon. "And now look at you. Children barely able to stand." He glared between the two of them. "You will both remain here, indefinitely. There is no escape, unless you think you can survive under so much water without the protective charms of the palace, but if you do somehow find a way to the surface, know that there is no hope of freedom. Hades or I will find you, and when we do we will return you in chains."
Percy gaped. Nico stuttered "But… Hazel and…"
Poseidon continued, "The story shall be that you have chosen to live a peaceful life down here at your own request, and desire no company but each other, and I, in my generosity, granted you that wish. If either of you contacts any creature, human or otherwise, the other will pay the price in pain."
Percy gaped "You can't…"
"I am a god!" roared Poseidon. The water boiled around him, scalding hot. Nico and Percy shrank away. The god's face was twisted with contempt, "This is why we have kept our distance from you ungrateful spawn! You're deceitful, conniving creatures."
Percy didn't reply. He was hit anew by the extent of his father's hypocrisy. Had Poseidon not conspired to murder his own father? He stepped closer to Nico, not sure if he was hoping to provide comfort or feel some in return.
Poseidon glared at them. "I should send you back to your own father. Separate you."
Percy couldn't stand it. Here, alone, knowing Nico was alone too, and forever. "The story…" he whispered.
Poseidon grunted, "Of course, the story." He sneered at them.
"What about Annabeth?" Percy asked, shocked by how silent his whisper was.
"What about her?" replied Poseidon, "Do you wish for her to share in your punishment?"
"No," said Percy.
"She stays where she is," said Poseidon, carelessly, "She hears the same story as everyone else. She will grieve, she will hate you, and then she will move on."
Percy gaped. Annabeth was going to be told he'd left her for a man, and hadn't even had the grace to tell her himself. So was Grover, and Jason and all their other friends. What would they think of them?
"And my mom?" he asked.
Poseidon didn't reply. The answer was obvious.
"Can't we at least say goodbye?" Percy asked. "They'll hate us…"
"You would prefer the truth?" Poseidon demanded, "That you tried to kill your family and destroy the world?"
In a way, Percy would. That was more understandable. But Annabeth would never see it that way. She would never understand Percy's decisions.
His heart began to actually ache. He would never see Annabeth again. The woman he'd been certain he loved for so long, the one he'd meant to spend the rest of his life with, the only name he'd remembered when Hera had stolen his memories. It was painful beyond belief.
"Finally seeing the true consequences of your actions?" Poseidon hissed. "Better late than never."
He swirled. Percy realized he was about to leave and shielded his eyes. His father had left him. Now his punishment began. The rest of his life, here, with nothing to do. Powerless, useless and at the mercy of an angry god.
A hand slipped into his. When he turned to Nico he saw the same feeling of defeat and loss. Except there was hope. This was a punishment, this was fear and captivity, but there was one light amongst the darkness.
They still had each other.
"A great storm rose in up through the sea, and into the sky. The world shuddered, Olympus fell to the ground, and in the blink of an eye, Zeus, the terrible King of the gods, was dead."
A cheer went up around the assembled creatures. They gloated at the end of Olympus, toasted its downfall, as though they'd been dreaming of it for thousands of years.
"And with him, powerful king of the gods, went the lot! The whole council, the twelve gods who thought they were rulers of the world, the earth, the sky, the seas and all the feats of Western Civilization, gone without a trace. The very dust of Tartarus now holds their beings."
The cheer turned into a roar of approval. Minor gods, monsters, creatures Percy couldn't even name, all celebrating the words of triumph thrown at them.
"We have no more Masters!"
The roar became something even louder. Feet stamped, wings flapped, hooves pounded, animals screeched and bellowed with ear-splitting volume and heart-stopping intent.
Triton turned to Percy, his grin wide and terrifying, growing wider with every roar and cheer his words received. He might have been born to play this role. "And it's all thanks to my little brother."
The creatures stirred. Some laughed, some shifted uneasily. They weren't sure how they felt about the half-blood trying to make himself invisible in the corner. Maybe they knew of Percy, the boy who defeated giants and titans and hundreds of monsters on the way, and now the killer of gods. Maybe they were scared of him, even now wondering what he was capable of.
"And our dear cousin, of course!" Triton bent down to Percy, looked deep into his eyes. "How does it feel, Percy Jackson, to have killed your own father?"
Percy didn't answer. An answer wasn't expected, anyway, and he'd barely thought about the death of Poseidon. He had been simply overwhelmed by the thousands of deaths and miseries that had occurred since.
"My father's kingdom is mine!" shouted Triton, to cheers and catcalls of his assembled monsters, "the realms of my uncles are up for negotiation, as is this once in an eternity offer."
He turned in a circle, his eyes full of mischief and excitement. The assembled monsters watched him curiously, minor gods smirked; maybe they were in on whatever it was Percy wasn't.
"The half-breed bastards are dead. No spawn of the Olympian snobs are left to try any heroics, but for our two notable exceptions."
He turned away from Percy, in the direction Percy had refused to look since he saw its contents.
"This one is mine!" shouted Triton.
There were muffled grumbles around him, quiet protests at the statement. Apparently Triton had claimed something very valuable and his 'friends' were not best pleased about it. Percy wasn't pleased about it either. In fact, he was furious.
"Get your filthy hands off him!" Percy shouted.
Triton didn't look perturbed. He stroked Nico's head, so casually. Percy wanted to burn that hand to ash for daring to touch Nico at all.
"Don't touch him, you bastard!" Percy shouted, "I'll fucking kill you, you motherfucking shit!"
Triton actually laughed at him. "You'll kill me? I doubt it."
The monsters around him chuckled, but uneasily. Percy had killed bigger and more terrifying creatures than any of them.
"You played your hand already, little brother," sneered Triton. "You have no powers that I don't have at twice the strength. Your understanding is like a gnat compared to mine, your life even less. You are hardly in a position to fight me!"
Percy roared and struggled. His arms were held in solid chains of celestial bronze, and spread apart to the point of pain. They had realized his sword kept reappearing in his pocket, so disarming him made no difference, and they were not taking chances. Even if he could get it from his pocket into his hand, he could not wield it. His feet were weighed down with chains that were heavier than him. He could barely move a muscle. But he refused to believe he was powerless.
Triton's face was a picture of delight. He could not have gloated better with words, but he just looked Percy up and down, before running an exploratory hand down Nico's back to rest on his arse. To the assembled monsters, he cried, "Who will start the bidding for the last surviving, half-blood child of Poseidon?"
The monsters squirmed. Some looked concerned. Maybe they didn't trust themselves to try to hold Percy Jackson captive. But others got into the swing of it. Their faces lit up with interest, excitement. Their gazes on Percy were hungry, and Percy couldn't stop wondering what they could possibly actually want him for.
It was obvious what Triton wanted Nico for. Percy's lover was chained naked to a table, arse in the air. His bonds were golden, his back arched, his entire body on display, like a carefully arranged prize. Triton was showing off his new slave, while keeping him close and ready for whatever disgusting whims might occur to him next. Maybe Percy was about to experience the same fate. And Percy couldn't let it happen to either of them.
The bidding started, but not in money. Fortunes in gold and armies, nectar and ambrosia were offered for Percy's life. Percy seemed to be worth a lot, however strange that seemed to him. He noticed Phorcys amongst the bidders. He found himself hoping that guy would win. A life in an aquarium would probably be better than what Triton had planned for Nico.
But no, he wasn't going to give up. He wrenched his arm so hard, it almost came out of its socket.
"Look at that fire," cried Triton, "if you were careful, you would never need another meal, just keep syphoning him. Or could you imagine hunting him? He could go for days, then still run again the next. Or could you imagine taking him to bed?"
The monsters roared in appreciation. The bids exploded to oaths of loyalty sworn on the Styx alongside more wealth and power than anyone could imagine. There was a wave of excitement, and Triton smirked at Percy. "Maybe I should sell the other one, after all. I could probably get visiting rights thrown in as part of the deal. Or maybe I could just rent him when I'm feeling bored."
Another swell of approval from the crowd had Triton grinning in triumph and Percy's wrists bleeding as he tried to fight his bonds. He couldn't let this happen. He had to escape, he had to save Nico and himself. He had to stop this.
"I will kill anyone who touches either of the half-bloods!"
It was a new voice. Strong and powerful and it silenced the monsters around it. A tall form was emerging from amongst the gathered creatures, familiar, and carrying a broom.
"Bob..." Percy mumbled.
The titan that had saved Percy from impossible situations before was here to do it again. Percy could have cried at the sight of him, his sheer size making Percy feel like a child.
"Iapetus..." the mumble spread around the monsters, his name causing fear and confusion but drawing blank looks too. Then the second word followed "Titan," and the monsters drew back, collectively.
"What do you want, uncle?" demanded Triton, "you ran from my horn once, you..."
"I am here for the children," Bob interrupted, imperiously, "I will take them with me." The monsters parted for him, and he made his way first to Nico. He plucked the chains that held him to the table like they were weeds, but Nico just fell to the floor. He'd been through too much already. Bob scooped him up in one hand as though he were a toy doll rather than a grown man of twenty one.
"Stop!" cried Triton, "He is my prize! My spoil of war! He is mine by rights!"
"There was no war," Bob replied without looking at him. "So there are no spoils."
He crossed the room to Percy, and plucked his chains from the wall.
"I am the victor!" cried Triton, "I can take what I want."
Bob looked at him scathingly, "You are no victor. If anything, these are the victors. But I am happy to fight you for them if you should choose."
He looked at Triton as though genuinely giving him a moment to choose his path. Percy stared too, partly through shock, but partly because the chains on his feet were so heavy, he didn't think he'd be able to move.
Triton got flustered, "They... you... you can't..."
"I am taking them with me now. Goodbye, minor god."
"I am not a minor..."
"Good bye monsters," said Bob, a hand on Percy's back pulling him along.
"Bye!" said some of the monsters.
"Er..." said some more.
"Grr!" replied some.
"Can you run, Percy Jackson?" asked Bob, quietly.
"I don't think so..." said Percy struggling to move his feet at all.
Bob sighed. "Very well," he said, and scooped Percy up, and threw him onto his back. Percy grabbed the first bit of shirt he could. "Hold on to Nico di Angelo," said Bob, throwing Nico onto his back as well, and then, just as the balance of greetings and growlings began to change in the gathered monsters, Bob sprung, once, twice, and then out of Triton's Kingdom, out of the world Percy had feared would be his fate forever.
Except the surface was no better.
Death was everywhere. Thanatos was unseen but his work was clear to all. Piles of bodies littered the ground, once mighty magnificent buildings lay in tatters. Monsters prowled, unimpeded. The dead walked without hindrance, ghostly, pale, and confused.
"This is the world you have created," said Bob, unkindly. "Was it worth it?"
Maybe this wasn't a rescue attempt after all.
"No," said Percy.
"I should send you both to Tartarus where you both belong. Foolish children."
Percy and Nico both shivered. They'd both been to Tartarus. They had no desire to return.
"Are you going to?" Percy asked, fearfully.
"You would not survive there for two minutes," mumbled Bob, "now there are twelve new additions out for your blood."
"The Olympians are in Tartarus?" Nico asked, surprised.
"Of course," said Bob, "They cannot be destroyed so easily. They will bide their time, as we once did, as the giants did. One day they will be strong enough to fight to return."
Percy's face was damp with tears. The sacrifice had done nothing but evil, and even that wouldn't last. Soon enough the gods would be back, and the weak would be crippled and bullied by the might of the strong. As it always was, as it always would be. "What can we do?" he said, in a voice he barely recognized, it was so broken and pathetic.
"Nothing," said Bob.
He dropped them down the ruins of what might have once been an office block. Nico and Percy, still weighed down with chains were still unable to stand, so Bob, none-too-gently, ripped the metal from their arms and legs, leaving them bruised and exhausted on the ground.
"Say goodbye," said Bob.
"What?" asked Nico.
"They will come for you. I know you, you would not have lived as slaves and concubines. You wanted to fight. You shall die now. Say goodbye."
Even as he said it, Percy heard the approaching mass. A million monsters robbed of their prizes by one quick Titan. Bob was right, they couldn't have stayed there and submitted, but there was no escape. They would be overtaken by these monsters, and when they were they would be overwhelmed.
"Nico," he said.
"But... but..." said Nico, "it can't..."
"Nico, I love you."
Nico blinked, "But... it can't all just be for nothing? All of that? All of those horrible things?"
Percy nodded. "But we fought it, Nico. We stood up for each other. We stood up to the bullies."
"But it made no difference!"
Percy grasped his head and kissed him. Nico almost fought him off at first, he was so disturbed. But he didn't. He threw his arms around Percy's neck and kissed him back like his life depended on it.
The noise crescendoed. Bob's loud voice rumbled. "It's time to die now."
Percy didn't want to let go. Dying with his arms round Nico sounded like a nice way to go. But that wasn't what they did. They stood up for the weak, the fought the bullies. It was just the way they were.
He drew Riptide. Nico grasped one of the discarded chains. They stood, side by side with a Titan, and waited to be overwhelmed.
This was not a happy story, I know. I feel a bit like I cheated you, because it was un-thoughtout. I will be co-writing a better story soon, one more hopeful and, well, full. If you have enjoyed the angst and the drama and the Pernico, keep an eye out for it.
Thanks again for reading, reviewing and favouriting. It has meant a lot.
Watch this space.