Fifteen minutes into the Attack on Manhattan
Really, Jason was getting too old for this.
The son of Zeus ducked behind the cover of an overturned cafe table as a smoking chunk of concrete went sailing over his head and paused to catch his breath. It had been quite some time since he had really been caught up in an engagement of this scale and the stitch in his side proved that. He tapped the shin of his prosthetic leg impatiently, a habit he had picked up in the months following the Giant War, when he was still in partial denial about his amputated limb. He had to give Leo major props though; the fake leg worked beautifully.
There was a lull in the gunshots and Jason hazarded a peek over the edge of the table. The street lay in ruins. Smoke hung low in the air and every movement on the ground threw up little puffs of dust. Vague, shadowy figures darted through the haze, some motions frantic, the others smooth with deadly purpose. Jason cast a practiced eye over the scene as he plotted his next move. The battle had sucked him in a touch too close to the epicenter of the attack for his comfort. The demigods were fighting on the sidelines.
Jason rose partially from his crouch, and with only a moment of hesitation, darted into the fray. In the dust and smoke, the world shifted in odd ways. Innocent objects became looming threats, and the dark writhing figures formed in the twisting smog kicked Jason's paranoia up a notch. A strangled yelp had the Roman turning on his heel and rushing to the sound. A breath of wind pushed back the smoke like a curtain, and Jason could, if only briefly, see where he was going. The author of the shout was being backed up to a wall by a Chitauri warrior. And as Jason ran, the thought "Why is Percy fighting with a chair?" whipped through his mind. The person was indeed fending the alien off with what appeared to be the chair that went with the table Jason had been crouching behind only a few moments previous. He was holding it by the back, legs out, as if he were a lion tamer at the circus. But as he shifted, Jason could clearly see that the man was not actually Percy; he just bore a striking resemblance to him.
Not-actually-Percy stumbled back a few steps as the alien lashed out and wrenched the chair from his grasp. He gained his footing and Jason absently noted that the Percy impersonator actually had a good defensive stance. The demigod would bet he was a boxer. The alien drew back its arm and not-actually-Percy prepared to meet the blow. A motion that was not really necessary because Jason had finally reached him. As fast as lightning (pun intended), Jason intercepted the strike with the flat of his blade, and used the alien's own momentum to send it tumbling to the fractured pavement. A few well placed slashes later and the alien was no longer a threat.
Jason stepped back and glanced at not-actually-Percy. The man was pale and wide-eyed under a fine layer of dust.
"Are you hurt?" Jason asked him, habitually scanning the street for further threats. Not-actually-Percy shook his head.
"Is that really a sword you're fighting with?" The man questioned, his hand was pointed at Jason's golden blade. Jason chewed his lip thoughtfully.
"No." He said slowly and crossed his fingers behind his back that the man would just let it go.
"Dude, yes it is."
"I can see the sword right there."
Jason called forth his inner Thalia and snapped his fingers in the guy's face, claiming the sword was a chair leg as he did so. Not-actually-Percy blinked and Jason felt his hopes rise.
"Ya know, if you're trying to Jedi-mind-trick me, you're supposed to wave your hand, not snap your fingers." The "dumbass" at the end of his sentence was implied.
Jason winced. Damn it.
Suddenly, Thor landed heavily on the street, sending shudders through the ground, followed by several more aliens. His entrance drew the attention of every living thing in the area. Jason leapt at the opportunity.
"Oh, would you look at that, the professionals are here." He grabbed not-actually-Percy's bicep and wheeled him in the opposite direction. "Time to go."
Not-actually-Percy—Jason needed to learn his real name—didn't argue.
The dim lighting would probably be a bother to anyone else, but Nico's eyes were tuned perfectly for the dark. Wall-mounted torches flickered erratically, throwing sharp shadows around the room. The son of Hades walked slowly through the gloom, every step measured, as if he had all the time left in the world. Nico had defeated his ADHD years ago.
The air was thick with the smell of dust and old paper. Row after row of thick mahogany shelves formed a labyrinth of shadow and wood. Silence, disturbed only by Nico's soft footsteps, hung like a thick blanket over the bookshelves.
Nico stopped in front of one of the bookcases. He double checked the brass number tacked to the end of the shelf with the number scrawled on a piece of paper in his own messy hand. Nodding to himself, he stepped closer to the books. The books were bound in heavy red leather and emblazoned with gold lettering that was mercifully in Greek.
He pulled out a heavy tome with a promising title, and wrinkled his nose at the large cloud of dislodged dust that accompanied it. He had never been one for libraries, and couldn't help but think that this should be Annabeth right now. Nico flipped the book open and stared at the first page dejectedly. Gods forbid the author actually include an index. He thought. Styx, this is going to take forever. Annabeth would be all over this. The teenager shifted uncomfortably. Maybe I should have told someone where I was going. Nico shut the book with an irritated snap and returned it to its place. Useless. He eyed the endless rows of books in a new, highly unappreciative light. Screw telling someone where I was going—I should have brought a whole task force.
The son of Hades ran a light finger over the books as he moved through aisles. He eyed the books critically as he went.
Annabeth had taken him to a library in New York once. It had been a few weeks after the Battle of Manhattan, before Percy disappeared and the entire world basically went to shit for the next couple of months. The New York library had been vastly different than this one. It had been full of light and movement and the comforting hum of hushed conversations and the rhythmic clacking of someone typing a term paper. Nico had trailed sullenly after Annabeth as she enthusiastically perused the books, tagging along only because Percy was at some school-thing (he had explained, but Nico hadn't cared to listen) and Annabeth had bribed him with McDonald's after they finished her "errands". The library had not been mentioned. Nico had not been happy.
Pulling himself out of the lighter memory, Nico glanced down at the crumpled paper in his hand and considered which of the dozen other possible locations where his target manuscript could be hiding to search through next.
Gods, he hated libraries.
The custodian of the Metropolitan Museum of Art briefly considered the possibility that he was hallucinating. Had he accidentally inhaled too much of the fumes from the cleaning products? Was he finally losing it?
The custodian closed his eyes and counted to ten. The wood of the mop handle dug into his clenched palms, grounding him to reality. Slowly, he opened his eyes. Nope, he wasn't hallucinating.
What the Hell? The staff had filed a police report; they had searched the museum from top to bottom. Even the feds had shown up. The jar had definitely still been missing ten minutes ago when the custodian left the room to retrieve to retrieve the wood polish he had forgotten.
And it was definitely now sitting back in its display, as if nothing had happened.
The man pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to ward off the coming headache. Maybe it was time to retire.
I can explain. I really can. But I'm sure none of you want to hear my extensive list of excuses for why I haven't updated in a month, and why this chapter is so short(and obviously filler). Sorry. I'll just mention Volleyball, college applications, a fifteen page essay worth half my grade and the ever awful physics, and leave it that. Now, moving on. My Volleyball season has ended(I'm seriously depressed) so I should be able to update quicker than this one took. But patience is a virtue, right?
As usual, let me know watcha think, because it seriously makes my day!
p.s. Can I just say that I actually got accepted into my dream school? Can I just say that? Oh God I'm so excited. Shit. College is a real thing. Holy Crap. *cue internal partying*