A/N: If you read the description, you've probably figured out by now that this is an AU story. But if you didn't, or you just didn't realize it, well...Now you know. Anyways, this takes place in the 40's in New York City, with our favorite demigod, Percy Jackson. And of course, he can't go through with this adventure on his own, so a bunch of characters from the PJO and HoO series will be making appearances. I hope you guys enjoy the story!
Rating: T for crude language and humor, violence, minor sexual themes.
Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians, nor the Heroes of Olympus. Both series, along with their respective characters, belong to the wonderful Rick Riordan.
The Covert Guardians
Chapter One: Fumes and Fuming
A crust of ash tumbled from the end of a cigarette, as it landed on top of a pile that had already accumulated in an ashtray. The holder brought it up to his mouth, as he inhaled the smoky, toxic fumes that were building up inside the paper and tobacco. After he took it all in, he let out a slow, foggy breath. It floated up to the ceiling, out of sight. He was ready to inhale another stretch of it, until the sound of footsteps descending down the stairs could be faintly heard.
Hastily, the smoker extinguished what was left of the cigarette butt, as he waved his hand over his head in order to clear what was left of the fumes. A figure stood in the doorway of the kitchen, and he dared to look. His mother, Sally, only stood there for another moment, before taking her usual seat across from him at the kitchen table, in the torn-up vinyl chair,
"You know I don't like you smoking in the house-if you absolutely need to smoke to begin with."
He exhaled in slight agitation, but it gradually turned into a small coughing fit.
"Sorry," He apologized, his voice slightly hoarse, "Still, I don't know what you mean by if I absolutely need to. They're perfectly healthy to have."
"How do you know if they're healthy or not, Percy?"
He faltered, as his mind went blank as he tried to muster up a somewhat valid answer.
"Even if they are healthy," Sally continued, "They're disgusting, and I'd rather not have my kitchen smell like a smoking lounge."
Percy said nothing more about the matter, and instead, scooped up the paper lying on the table. He pushed his cup of coffee and bowl of cornflakes aside, which had since become the consistency of mush. He shook the paper with a single, swift jolt, popping the kinks that had formed in the paper back into place. Percy narrowed his eyes at the headline, before glancing over the newspaper towards his mother, who was pouring herself a cup of coffee.
"Did you see this?" He questioned, turning the front of the paper towards her.
"Into battle for D-Day heroes," Sally read aloud.
Percy turned the paper back towards him, "Yeah...I guess that's what it says."
His eyes looked down at the picture under the headline. It had been taken from a boat, as swarms of American soldiers stormed towards the beaches of Normandy. Or-At least he thought that they were American soldiers, and at least he thought they were storming the beaches of Normandy. It had been all over the news over the past weeks, so he just had to assume that was the case. Percy wasn't even going to try and read the caption underneath the picture in order to answer his curiousity, or else…
"Is it bothering you again, your dyslexia, I mean?"
"I know what you mean!" He snapped, but almost instantly felt guilty.
As much as he knew that his mother was simply asking out of love and concern, whenever his "disability" was brought up, his defenses were instantly on the rise.
"Sorry," He muttered.
"It's fine. I'm sorry, too. I know that you don't like me bringing it up."
Percy glared at the newspaper in his hands, specifically at the picture. A pang of anger, or some other emotion one would more than likely pass off as envy, coursed through him. He wanted to be there, fighting, serving his country. But like many other occasions in his twenty-two year lifespan, he knew that it wasn't possible. That had been made clear on his first, and last trip to the recruiter's,
"I'm afraid that you won't be able to enlist," The physician had reported to him, "What with your ADHD and your Dyslexia. Ah, but don't take it personally. You're probably better off, anyway."
He might as well have said to him, "Sorry, kid. They don't let hyper-active freaks like you fight. You'll just get in the way."
It would have sounded almost exactly the same to him, either way.
After that rejection at the recruiter's, he was given a pamphlet about service in the home front, and scooted out the door. Percy supposed that he should have long since been adjusted to things like this. But, of course, he wasn't, and by now, it simply made him bitter. As he read each headline involving the war, it festered. As he welded away at his job in a warehouse manufacturing plane parts, it slowly boiled inside him.
Though everyday, on his way to work, sitting at the table with his mother, or laying in bed, something else intensified alongside his bitter, pure hatred: His feeling of incompletion. When his rancorous emotions weren't present, the dark void of deficiency existed instead. And it was a heavy burden to bear.
He was pulled from his idle thoughts by Sally. Percy quickly looked up at his mother to acknowledge her, in order to avoid any worry on her part.
"You should get going. You don't want to be late again."
Percy glanced down at the watch clasped to his wrist.
"Quarter to nine," He replied, "I guess I should."
Percy stood from his place at the table, glancing at his mother briefly. He paused when a faint smile crept across her face.
"What?" Percy questioned, as his own mouth tugged up into a smile.
"Check the fridge," She said.
He walked a few paces towards it, before opening it. A brown paper bag sat on the top shelf, and with a grin, took it from the fridge.
Percy turned back to her, as he engulfed her into a hug.
"Try and have a good day at work?"
"I'll try, mom," He responded, "I'll try."
Percy walked down the street at a fairly sped-up tempo. As he went along, he rolled up his shirt sleeves from the heat that June brought with it. Despite the fact that it was quite warm out, the sky was a pale sheet of grey clouds. Rather than having a beaming Sun, it had been condensed into a faint light concealed by the haze. Percy turned a few corners, ducked into a handful of alleyways, knowing that they would take him right to the wharf.
As he stepped out onto the street that many of the warehouses were situated on, he spotted a lone, jet black car, parked beside the sidewalk. Percy found it quite peculiar, and certainly out of place. This area of the city wasn't prone for much attention, and the car definitely didn't belong to any of the workers-it was too new. The few who did in fact own cars typically drove in battered old tin cans that were on their last leg, and that would be better off as scrap metal.
Percy slowly, hesitantly, kept walking, in hopes that whoever might be sitting in the car didn't notice him gawking. If anyone was even sitting in the car. He cringed as he heard one of the doors open, and a voice call,
Percy froze in his tracks, with one foot just barely on the sidewalk. He looked to his left, in the direction of the car. A tall man stood in the space between one of the passenger doors and the car.
The man stepped towards him slowly, and though he didn't exactly have a threatening demeanor, Percy was still wary of him. He brushed his suit off once and slicked his brown hair back as he advanced towards Percy.
"I'm looking for a building where they are currently manufacturing parts for the war? Specifically plane parts?"
A knot constricted in his stomach. That was the warehouse he worked in. And even though there could have been a million reasons why he was searching out that specific building, Percy was suspicious. He shrugged after a moment,
"Sorry, I don't know."
The man studied Percy, "Well...Thank you nevertheless."
Percy managed a small smile, "No problem."
He regarded Percy one last time, before walking back to the car. Percy didn't look back after this, and quickly walked away. He stepped into a huge lot, where the warehouses built around it created huge, looming shadows over it. At the end of it was where the docks began, a place that Percy had become quite fond of. Once he had crossed over to the right hand side of the airy space, he ducked into the building he worked in.
He dug out his slightly wrinkled ticket, before glancing up at the clock. Letting out a sigh, he was relieved to find that he had made it to work on time for once.
He clocked in, tucking the slip of paper into the slot that read Jackson. Percy wandered down one of the many aisles of planes until he came to his usual work place, which consisted of welding parts onto the planes. Percy scooped up a welder's helmet, a pair of gloves, and a welding arc. As he pulled on the gloves, Percy glanced around a handful of times for the man. He was no where to be found.
But he spotted yet another man in a suit who looked out of place. In comparison to the man he had seen outside, he looked even more dangerous, even without stepping out of a fancy car. He looked back and forth from his spot from the door, before stalking down another aisle.
Percy quickly ducked down, flipping the visor of the helmet over his face, and started up the arc. He hadn't been working for even five minutes before a large hand patted his shoulder to get his attention,
His supervisor was hovering over him, examining his work on the plane.
"We're behind by two planes. Wanna know why?" He grunted.
"I don't know," Percy answered, "How about you tell me?"
"Listen, Jackson, I don't want to hear your lip. Got it?" His supervisor barked, jamming a finger into the middle of Percy's chest, "We're behind because of you and your crummy welding!"
"Crummy?" Percy echoed with a scoff, "At least I'm doing some work around here, unlike you. The last I checked, the most work you do is on that box of donuts in your office."
Even in the dim lighting of the huge warehouse, he could see the supervisor's face slowly turn a dark shade of pink.
"For that little comment, you get to work overtime," He growled, and marched off as Percy let out a spew of curses under his breath.
"Fat son of a bitch," Percy muttered as he turned his attention back to his work. Though he wasn't exactly thrilled over having to work late, he felt a small amount of gratisfaction from being able to throw an insult back at the supervisor. He tipped his head forward slightly, and the front of his helmet rolled back to shield his face. As he turned the arc back on, a violent shower of sparks flew all around him as he brought it up to the metal interior walls of the plane. He sat, crouched on his knees, knowing that he might as well get comfortable for the long haul.
Percy stumbled out of the warehouse, bone-tired. He shuffled across the courtyard, glancing up at the beaming moon in the sky as he went along. As he leaned back, stretching, he spotted a lone rock on the ground. Percy stooped down, as he picked it up. He heaved it in the direction of the water, and after a few seconds, heard it submerge with a satisfying splash. As he stepped out of the lot, he peeked cautiously down both sides of the street.
The car was no where to be found.
He allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief at this, as he continued on without worry. Percy made his way back home, knowing that his mother would probably still be awake by the time he got home. Despite the fact that he had called her from a telephone booth during his lunch break to tell her that he would be getting home late, he knew that she would be worried about him and his whereabouts anyway. He undid the top buttons of his shirt as he stepped out of the dark confines of one of his shortcuts.
Percy spotted his house, with its ugly yellow paint. The porch light was on, and he pressed a tired at the sight of it. He crossed the street before hopping up the rickety old porch steps. Percy leaned his weight against the door, as it needed the extra force in order to get it open. As he stepped inside the house, lightly kicking the door shut behind him, he peered into the small living room.
From his view in the vestibule, it appeared as though his mother wasn't in the sitting room. But upon walking farther down the hall, he spotted his mother in the old armchair that was nestled in the corner, sleeping. Percy quietly padded into the room, crouching down in front of the chair. He rested his hand on top of hers, as she quietly awoke from her sleep.
"Percy," She muttered, blinking her eyes slightly, "There you are."
He grinned slightly, "Here I am."
"Rough day at work?" Sally asked as he dove onto the couch.
Percy nodded at this, as he tried to pry off his boots. Sally flipped on a lamp sitting on a stand beside her chair.
"I hate that supervisor," Percy grumbled, as his tone turned sour, "The son of a bitch complains about me not working hard enough, and the only thing he does is strut his fat ass around and tell people they aren't doing their job."
Sally appeared as though she was ready to scold him for his vulgar language, but her hardened expression vanished out of sympathy.
"I know you don't like it Percy. But...You're helping the country, doesn't that make it worthwhile?"
He reclined into the seat, "I wish I could just be doing something else to help the effort, you know?"
His mother averted her gaze from Percy.
"I can't stay at that job forever, mom. I'm sick of it."
The living room fell silent after that, as Percy sat in silent contemplation.
"What if I found him?" He wondered suddenly, "What if I found dad?"
"Percy…" Sally let out a small groan at her son's idea, throwing her head into her hands.
"I'm his son, after all. I could go work for him maybe, or-"
"Just-stop!" She snapped, as she glared up at him, "I thought you had given up on that idea...I wish, you would give up on that idea."
He sighed, as he glanced out the window behind him, regretting that he had even brought up the subject of his father. He was a blacklisted topic of conversation between him and his mother. And if he was ever mentioned by Percy, his mother would quickly stop it. After he had vanished shortly after his birth, he supposed it had become a sore spot for his mother, to say the very least. And he couldn't blame her for that. But it didn't dull his curiosity about his father.
"Why won't you tell me anything about him?" He persisted after a while.
"It's not my place to say, Percy," She answered quietly, though her tone was still aggravated.
"Not your place?" Percy repeated, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
His mother rose from her chair, as she began to walk out of the room. Sally paused in the doorway, as though she was going to say something. He stared at her, waiting, but she left the room, as she disappeared into the upstairs hallway. Percy sighed, flustered, as he turned over onto his back, and extended the rest of his body onto the length of the sofa. He stared up at the spots of water stains that freckled the ceiling, varying in size.
Percy began to count them, but before long, this boring task only made his exhaustion more poignant. He glanced over to the staircase leading upstairs, but from his comfortable spot on the sofa, it seemed as though it was a million miles away. Percy rolled partially so that he was on his side, as his eyelids began to slowly droop. And before he could make an effort to stir himself from his daze in order to sleep in his bed, he had already fallen fast asleep.
A/N: So, how was that for a first chapter? Please let me know by submitting a review! Also, I know I'm sort of being a hypocrite for asking this, since I hate people who constantly ask for R+Rs, follows, and favorites, but I promise I won't ask all the time. I'll just say this: They're greatly appreciated by me. As for chapter two, my veteran readers should know the drill. But as for those of you where this is your first time reading my stories, check back next Saturday, I'll be posting another chapter then.
Thanks for the support!