I Don't Own Naruto or Percy Jackson & The Olympians
A Father's Love – Chapter 24
In the past year, their family room finally became a family room. In the small, warm, and cozy space, whether it be Athena's arts and crafts in the morning, Naruto's homemade snacks in the afternoon, or Aphrodite's movie nights, they would be together. The once sparsely filled mantle now held memories of their precious new life together. Pictures of Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, and birthdays. It had become their hearth, a warm, nurturing place with only peace, love, and laughter.
But sometimes, also family meetings.
"Is there no other way?" Aphrodite softly glanced at Naruto and Athena, "Anything else?"
Athena sighed as she closed her eyes, "I'm afraid not."
"But" Dite started, "This is crazy!"
Athena could only nod in silence.
"This is the only way, Dite." Naruto welcomed Aphrodite into his arms, kissing the top of her head as lovingly as he could. "The longer we idle, the more time we give Gaea. We cannot let her take control of me again. The moment she does, it'd be over." He tightened his arms around her as he felt her flinch. "This is dangerous and reckless, but it's has the best odds we're going to get."
"And Naruto won't be alone." Athena shone with confidence and power. "We will be there, too. This won't be the first time we've used our powers this way. We've soothed the memories of the other Naruto once before with minimal effort or difficulty. I imagine this would be a much more complicated endeavor, but it's logical to assume it will work similarly to before."
Aphrodite forlornly nodded, "How much time do we have to prepare?"
"Father has ordered a barrier ring to be constructed in the Nevada Desert. Apollo and Hephaestus are personally handling it."
Naruto frowned, "Do they know about what we're doing?"
"No," Athena answered, "Father gave them no explanation and they know better than to ask. They've been tasked to finish in three days' time."
"So soon?" asked Dite, holding Naruto tighter.
Athena nodded "The sooner the better."
Naruto sighed, "What do we need to do to prepare?"
"Nothing. Three days won't amount to much. We should take this time to calm ourselves and mentally prepare. This will be more emotionally and mentally taxing than likely anything we've done before in our lives." Athena reached for Naruto's hand, "We need to rest and relax."
Naruto pulled Athena close and hugged both his goddesses tightly. He gave a deep sigh, "After this," he began, "When this mess is finally over, we're getting married." He felt them nod against his chest, "And we're taking a long honeymoon."
Athena smiled, "Agreed."
"We have to at least spend a month in Paris," mumbled Dite against his shirt, "Then maybe a few weeks in Monaco. Prague could be fun as well."
"I'm partial to Europe. It has been a while since I've visited our old capitals."
Naruto chuckled and kissed each of his beloveds' head, "We'll go wherever we want to go. Do whatever we want to do."
"Yes," whispered Athena, "Forever."
Aphrodite smiled and nodded, "Forever."
"Come on, Annie!" Lacy giggled as she ran out the front door, her Toothless backpack flailing from behind. "We're going to be late!"
Annabeth calmly followed her hyper sister, "You can't be late to Disneyland, Lace." She sighed as she tried to act beyond her years, "And if you're this hyper now, you really shouldn't have any more sugar when we get there. I don't want to chase you around the park."
Lacy jumped into her car-seat and stuck her tongue out at Annabeth, "I'm going to get the biggest cotton candy cone ever!"
Annabeth shivered and looked up at her father, "Please don't buy her the big one. That thing is almost bigger than her!"
Naruto chuckled and ruffled Annabeth's princess curls, "We'll see, princess."
"You're the big sister, Annabeth. You always have to look after and take care of Lacy." Athena smiled and pulled her little girl close, kissing the top of her head. "You're the older and more mature one, so you're the one who has to protect her."
"Let's go!" cried Aphrodite, looking drop-dead gorgeous in a simple pink sundress that did little to hide her godlike body. "I'm going to get the biggest sundae there!"
Athena sighed, "No matter how immature and stupid they are." Annabeth giggled and kissed her mom on her cheek, making the Goddess smile. "Now, remember what we discussed. Stay close to your Dad and Dite. Hold their hands if it's too crowded, and never run off on your own." Looking over at the bouncing Dite who was trying to secure a bouncing Lacy in her car-seat, Athena pursed her lips. "And never let Lacy out of your sight. When she's high on sugar, you know she'll run off in excitement. Just hold on to her."
Annabeth nodded, as if saluting. "I will, mom!"
Athena kissed Annabeth's head, "You can never be too old to call me Mama, honey."
The girl giggled, "Okay, Mama!"
"Now go have fun!"
Naruto smiled at the sight of Annabeth running to the car, finally acting her age. With a sigh, he wrapped his arms around Athena and kissed her as tenderly as he could, nibbling at her tongue, smiling against her giggling lips. "Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" he whispered, pecking her lips as he did. "You need to relax, too."
"You know me," she replied, smiling against his lips, "Planning relaxes me. And I'll have your other half here with me."
Warmly rubbing her arms, Naruto nodded. "Okay, but don't work too hard. You need to relax as well." Athena shivered at his lucid tones and could only smile in return. "You tend to forget the time when you concentrate too hard, so make sure to take breaks and eat on time."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of her.
Another Naruto, his other half as a result of his Bunretsu no Jutsu smiled as he wrapped his arms around Athena's waist from behind. Now sandwiched between two Naruto, Athena flushed gold and couldn't look at either of them. Both Naruto gave a low chuckle by her ears, sending shivers down her spine, and she could barely utter a sound as they peppered her with kisses.
"Make sure," whisper the Naruto in front of her as he nibbled on her lips, "She doesn't forget to eat. You know how she gets."
"I will," whispered the Naruto from behind, kissing her earlobe. "I'll make her favorite." His lips made their way to the back of her neck and trailed up to the back of her ear, "You don't have to worry."
"I'm not worried." Naruto stared at Athena's wavering eyes as he caressed her golden cheeks, "I know I'll miss her like crazy, so I'm just getting my fill before I leave." He kissed Athena as lovingly as he could on her lips, softly moaning into her as his tongue bid farewell to hers. "I'll see you in a couple of days, my love. I'll miss you till then." He gave Athena's lip a final peck before pulling away, "I love you."
His fervent gaze did little to free Athena from her stupor, but she managed, "I-I love you, too."
He stepped away and kissed her hands, "Bye."
The other Naruto chuckled as he rested his head atop Athena's, "Have a good trip. Take care of Dite and the girls for me."
Naruto smiled, "I will."
Athena's gaze lingered on Naruto as he left; even when the car started to drive away, her eyes followed.
Naruto's other half tightened his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek, "You know I love you literally as much as my other half, right?" His voice broke the goddess from her stupor, "I'm going to get jealous if you keep staring longingly at him."
She managed to turn around in his embrace, and placed her hands on his chest, still unable to look him in the eyes. "You've become far too brazen lately," she whispered, "Dite has been a bad influence on you."
"It's only natural," answered Naruto softly, "You're too cute and I love you too much to not tease you."
She could only stare at his chest, "L-Let's go inside. You said you're cooking lunch for me."
He chuckled, "Anything for my lady."
"Since when can cars move so fast?"
Annabeth watched as New York City fade into lines of light as they sped from their suburb street. Grey blur turned green as they left the metropolis and into the country, and soon cities and towns came and gone as mere specs across their frosted car-window. The car was moving so quickly, Annabeth saw different weather patterns as they moved. From the cloudy overcast of their home in the morning to sunny, cloudless skies within seconds.
"Since one of your uncles begged me for a favor," answered Dite with a giggle, "His children, your cousins, were having trouble with their relationships. He needed my help and I asked for this car in return."
Naruto gave a small laugh, "I am loving this car." He swiftly swerved by another town, his eyes occasionally flickering to his Sharingan to improve reaction times. "I don't think I can go back to the mini-van after this."
"Are we there yet?"
Annabeth turned on her sister, "We've literally been driving for ten minutes!"
Lacy shrugged, "You said this car is fast, right?"
"Not that fast."
"Well, we're here!" Naruto chuckled at Annabeth's surprise as they caught sight of Cinderella's Castle in the distance.
Many a time had Naruto promised his daughters a trip to Disneyland. But as a father to two demigoddesses, he knew better than to bring them to a crowded, potentially monster-invested den. Year after year, he'd blame his work for not going to the theme park, and he hated their looks of disappointment. Annabeth quickly grew out of her Disney phase, or sensed her father's reluctance, and never asked after the first few times. But Lacy never relented. Birthday after birthday; Christmas after Christmas, Lacy would beg her father for a Disney trip, and Naruto's heart ached every time he had to say no.
But not anymore. He could finally watch his little princess' eyes light up and run into the park. Holding onto a VVIP Family Pass given to them by Annabeth and Lacy's loving grandparents, they could barely hold the small girl back as she pulled her family into the park, racing to the nearest cotton candy stand.
With each girl holding onto a cone of cotton candy larger than their heads, they ran to the nearest ride, their passes allowing them straight to the head of the line.
"Be careful, girls," called out Naruto as his daughters giggled and ran to the Teacups. "Lacy, hold on to your sister!"
"Don't worry," started Aphrodite with a smile, her arms tightly wrapped around Naruto's. "There were some monsters in the park, but literally all of them ran away when they sensed us."
Naruto chuckled, "If I had regained these powers earlier, it would have saved me a lot of anxiety."
They both smiled and laughed when they watched their children scurry into the ride, Lacy almost pulling Annabeth's arm off as she jumped into the Teacup. Lacy was having the time of her life, but it was even more endearing for them to see Annabeth finally acting her age.
"Too bad Athena didn't come," Naruto said wistfully, "She will love seeing the girls so happy."
Aphrodite shook her head, "She doesn't like California."
"Really?" he asked, "Why?"
"Story for her to tell you another time." The Goddess of Love winked, "Come on, Daddy, I need you to get me some treats!"
Kissing the top of her head, Naruto smiled, "Anything for my lovely wife."
"I want the biggest strawberry sundae you can find!" Dite's eyes sparkled at the thought before she pointed over at a lone stand, "And I want one of those deep-fried pickles over there!"
Naruto raised a brow, "Deep fried and pickles? You hate both of those things."
The Goddess shrugged and licked her lips, "I have a sudden craving for them."
He chuckled, "Sure."
Racing away to the stall, Naruto felt his smile drain from his face. Away from his family, he felt the anxiety and fear seep back into his mind. The imminent confrontation with his inner beast was mere days away, and as much as he forced himself to detach from it, it was something too big to ignore. For millennia, he'd survived, not lived. The memories were faint and distant, but he could feel the past loneliness and isolation his past self felt. Times when days felt like years and every second was a loss to his pain. Alas, he'd found happiness and peace, but almost immediately, strife followed.
And he knew he wasn't alone.
Since his reawakening, Naruto had regained his former grasp over empathy. He could feel the strong and negative emotions of those around him. And while he was thankful that he felt no such feelings from his daughters, he couldn't say the same for his future-bride.
Aphrodite, one of the loves of his life, a star that finally brought light and love into his dark and terrible world. She was the most joyous and optimistic person he'd ever met in his life. She was passion and love given form, and Goddess of the most volatile and untamed domain. She'd been through every emotion her domain had to offer. She knew exactly how precious and irreplaceable their love had become, as well as how easily it could destroy her.
The thought of losing each other, of losing their family, of losing the love they'd finally found, rendered them both catatonic. Seeing her still smile at him, still trying to ease his mind, to remain strong for him, made him feel an insurmountable love for her and utter hatred for himself.
"Order up!" He managed an easy smile at the sight of her, beautiful and loving. "Strawberry Sundae and a deep-fried pickle!"
"That was fast!" Despite her fears, she happily bit into the pickle and offered Naruto a spoon of ice cream. "Here, say ahh."
Wrapping and arm around her waist, he gladly accepted her spoon, staring into her beautiful eyes. He would be strong for her, smile for her, he would do anything for her, just as he did for him.
"The Juubi is a mass of power. It's not complicated nor is it highly intelligent. It does have some rational thought and self-perseverance, but it merely reacts. It attacks and moves in the short-term. There is no planning involved, no strategy. This battle will be a hunt, a match of wits and brawn." Naruto offered a hopeful smile, "It is definitely more powerful than I am, but thankfully, we have much more brawn than it does wits. Base on stats alone, we do have the advantage."
The sun had set, and dinner was finished. Sat shoulder to shoulder at their dinner table, Naruto and Athena stared down at their plan layout. Using Athena's own system, they brought to view the geography of their battle location, their strategies and all possible contingencies.
Despite the subject matter and possible impending doom, Naruto felt at peace. This was their comfort zone, their shared hobby, and the root of their relationship. Just him and Athena together around a small table in a dimly lit room, discussing their ideas and clashing their minds. Sitting, standing and pacing around the small table, with books and bottles of dry wine scattered about the room, the two immortals truly connected.
"Based on your experience and what you've shown me, I have no doubt that your skills will give you a clear advantage. The only threatening weapon the beast has against you is your own emotions." Athena stood from her seat and paced around the table, "Aphrodite and I have proved that we are capable of effecting your state of mind. We can calm all aspects of our domains, which together encapsulates most of our concerns."
"Yes, but while we can assume that you two can calm my emotions, we don't know for how long. If this becomes a drawn-out battle, we run the risk of you and Aphrodite's powers losing their effectiveness." Athena nodded in agreement, "The last thing I want is for my mind to become accustomed to your power's influence. I propose that we stretch both your abilities as thin as possible. Either you or Dite can start off alone with the other only joining in if necessary."
"Yes, and if your mind really does become accustomed or resistant to one of us, the other can hold off for a while longer."
"Exactly." Naruto pursed his lips, "But conversely, we must also take into account the possibility of yours and Aphrodite's combined power being ineffective." He continued before Athena could interrupt, "I know it has worked before and I agree that it is logical to believe it will still work, but regardless, even if there is a sliver of a chance for it to not work, we need to have a contingency plan."
Athena stared into his eyes, "There is no contingency."
"What do you mean by that?"
"If our combined powers don't work and you fall victim to the beast's wrath, there will be no contingency. This is a battle of control, meaning that if you don't take control over the beast, the beast will take control of you. It will be a repeat of what happened in the last age." Naruto silent sat down, "In your body, the power of Gaea's Champion is focused and concentrated into a vocal point. It will become so unfathomably powerful that anything we do would be negligible. It wouldn't matter if we have all Twelve Olympians and all other Gods and Goddesses present, because even together, none of us would stand a chance."
He closed his eyes and sighed, "So, everything comes down to one battle. All or nothing."
Athena nodded, "All or nothing."
"So be it," he said, meeting her eyes again. "I may actually prefer it this way. All or nothing."
She stood in front of him and gently placed a hand on his cheek, "I'm glad you see it this way, but don't be overconfident."
He held her hand to his cheek, "I'm not. I'm merely playing the odds. As we said, at this moment, we have the advantage. It's better to take one decisive blow at the enemy rather than several disarming attacks."
She smiled, "You do listen in class."
Naruto stood and welcomed Athena into his arms, "And I have absolute faith in you and Aphrodite." He kissed her softly, "I have faith in my love for you two."
"What do you mean," she whispered against his lips.
"Baby," he whispered back, his hands tightly holding her close by the waist. "You have no idea how much control you have over me." Seeing her surprise, he kissed her hard on the lips. "I am crazy about you. I am absolutely, head-over-heels, in love with you." Sucking on her lips, he near moaned, "I know your voice will reach me."
Her hands found their way into his hair, "Ironic, coming from you," she whispered, "Because you drive me crazy. I'm the one who is head-over-heels in love with you."
He could only respond by attacking her flushed and swollen lips.
Moaning into the kiss, Athena fought and subjugated his tongue with her own, "I won't let Gaea control you. She will not have you." She pushed him back into his seat and straddled his lap, "You're mine, Naruto."
His wandering hands found their way to her soft and plump bottom, his fingers grasping onto her warm, luscious body. "And you're mine, Athena."
She pulled away as she sucked on his defeated tongue and stared deep into his eyes. "I'm all yours, my love." She leaned close and whispered against his trembling lips, "Now I'm going to make you mine."
"But I'm not tired yet!"
Naruto smiled at his little girl before kissing her forehead. "You're just on a sugar high, princess. You'll be tired as soon as you calm down. We still a whole other day tomorrow in the park, so you need your rest." He lifted the small girl into his arms and held her close, rubbing his face against her soft hair as she rested against his shoulder. "And your sister was running after you the whole day, so she's really tired."
It nearly took half an hour for Naruto to convince Lacy to take a bath, but even after that the little girl was still hyper and full of energy. She had been hyperactive since birth and he had once associated it with her mother's genes, but after he regained his early memories as a child, he could proudly say that she was exactly like him.
He hoped she wouldn't start pranking people, though.
"Fine, but can we watch a bit of TV before bed?" she asked with her best whiney voice.
They had reserved a family suite in the Disneyland Hotel, and it was everything Naruto thought it would be. Even in the room, high and away from the festivities of the park below, the childhood fantasies followed. It was Lacy's dream room, complete with a fridge full of sugary drinks, a cupboard full of snacks in the shape of her favorite characters, and a bunk bed carved into the wall like a cave bed.
But alas, the big TV was in front of Naruto and Aphrodite's King-sized bed, so that where Lacy wanted to sleep.
Still sitting on her dad's lap, Lacy happily put on her favorite movie. "Toothless is so cute!" she said with a giggle, making Naruto smiled and wrap his arms around her. "I wish he was real."
"Lacy," came the stern, but still lovely voice of Aphrodite. "We talked about this: no dragon training with your Auntie Artemis."
"Yeah, you don't even like changing our cats' litter box. I can't even imagine cleaning up after a dragon." Annabeth shivered at the thought, "Eww, it's gross to think about."
Lacy pouted at her mother and sister, "I'll still love him."
Ignoring the bickering, Naruto smiled at the sight of Aphrodite and Annabeth. The girl was sat upon the Goddess' lap in front of a vanity mirror as she braided her golden hair. It seemed that when she was with Dite, Annabeth's latent little girl side would surface, and she would enjoy all the pampering and cooing the Goddess had to give her.
"Now we clip the end back to the side here, and we're done!" Dite kissed Annabeth's cheek as the girl giggled, "My so-call Andromeda's Braid. But you're more beautiful than that girl ever was."
Annabeth smiled at Dite in the mirror, "Thanks, Mommy!"
Much to the joy of Naruto, Annabeth had started to call Aphrodite, Mommy, just as Lacy started to call Athena, Mama.
"You're welcome, sweetie!"
Aphrodite lifted Annabeth into her arms and settled in on the bed next to Naruto and Lacy, smiling as the girls quickly climbed under the large blanket and huddled together in the middle. From her side, Dite gave her lover a dazzling smile as they tilted closer together, instinctively hovering over their daughters protectively. She rested her head on his shoulder as the girls argued about the movie.
Kissing the top of Dite's head, Naruto just watched in silence, enjoying having his family so close together. And soon, the movie was forgotten, and the two little girls fell asleep. Lacy clung onto Annabeth's shirt like her safety blanket and Annabeth hugged her sister like a teddy bear.
"I can't even put into words how much I love these girls." Aphrodite whispered as she smiled down at her daughters.
Naruto gave a small nod, "I know what you mean."
Staring into her eyes, he saw her façade fade and tears welled. Before she even sniffled, she casted a thick layer of Mist over the sleeping girls, and Naruto reached over for her. He held her trembling frame tightly and kissed her hair, whispering to her ear as tenderly as he could, "It's going to be okay. We're going to be okay."
She nodded, but he knew it wasn't enough.
"I promise you, Dite, I will not fail our family." She met his eyes as tears fell, "This," he started, looking down at the girls before resting his forehead against hers, "This is everything to me. And I will do everything and anything to keep this safe." He kissed her as lovingly as he could on her lips, "I promise you, this family trip is the first of many, many to come."
Dite kissed him softly and whispered, "I love you, Naruto."
"I love you, too."
In the midst of kisses and caresses, Naruto found himself in his bedroom. Before he could even reach for the light, he was shoved onto the bed, and he could scarcely trust his senses as Athena rested her body atop of his. He could feel every heavenly curve of her divine body as she writhed upon him, kissing and licking her way from his jaw to his neck.
"A-Athena," he managed to moan, "What are you doing?"
He felt her warm breath trail up his neck, sending shivers down his spine. "Don't," Athena muttered as she reached for the hem of his shirt. With a flare of her power, she tore it from his body. There was only her thin silk chiton between their bodies as the Goddess kissed his ear and whispered, "I hate it when you play dumb."
Shakily, he held the side of her arms, involuntarily caressing her soft and warm skin. "This is very sudden."
Still fully pressed against him, Athena slithered up to meet his eyes, "We have established that we are to marry. It's natural for us to consummate our relationship." He caught a sliver of doubt hiding behind her conviction as she continued, "You love me, and I love you. I want to do this."
"We can't," he whispered, reaching for her face at her flinch.
"Why are you doing this?" Emotions left her face as she stared down at him. "Why are you rejecting me?"
He gently ran his thumb over her cheek, smiling as some life returned to her eyes, "There is a time and place for this."
"And this is the perfect time." She leaned against his touch, her eyes wavering against his, "We're alone in our home-"
"With an impending life or death battle in two days," he interrupted.
She fell silent and pursed her lips.
He slowly sat up, pulling her close to his chest as she sat on his lap. His hands slid warmly from her neck into her hair, gently caressing her. As she hid her face into his chest, he kissed her head, breathing in her heavenly scent.
"I'm not rejecting you, my love." He held her tighter as she stiffened, "I will never reject you."
She grasped onto him tightly, holding him close. "Don't you want me?" she managed to whisper.
He chuckled, "Are you kidding?" He squeezed her tightly, "I've wanted you for a decade, Athena. You have no idea how many times I've fallen asleep dreaming about making love to you, or how many mornings I woke to your gorgeous image haunting my mind." He couldn't see her, but he knew she was flushed golden. "You've been a fantasy of mine for years, and if you'd known about it back when I was still your student, you might have killed me."
She rubbed against his chest, "I wouldn't have hurt you."
He gave a soft laugh, "Maybe, but you wouldn't like what I was thinking."
"Then…" she whispered, "Then why?"
"I understand you," he whispered back. Running a hand soothingly down her back, he continued, "You cherish our relationship like a life passion. And I know I can't even fathom the number of plans and scenarios you've concocted about our first time together." He gently pulled back to look at his love, staring into her tearful eyes. "But I know none are like this."
"The situation has changed," she answered, finally able to look into his eyes.
"Seeing you and Dite plan our wedding, plan our lives, I know you want something romantic, something meaningful and natural." He kissed her softly, "I will not have you settle for a cheap night just because of a battle. I want our first time to be natural and comfortable and romantic."
"Naruto," she could only whisper.
Resting his forehead against hers, he stared into her, "When the time comes, and it will, we will not feel like this. There will be no fear, no anxiety; there will be nothing forcing us to change our plans. We'll be happy, at peace, and without concern. I will naturally carry you to our bed, in our home, and I will make love to you until we both collapse in pleasure."
Still, ichor flooded her face and turned golden.
"When we wake up the next morning, we'll be husband and wife. I'll pull you close, like right now, and I'll beg you for more. I will spend the rest of our immortal lives wanting you, needing you, loving you." Kissing her hard on the lips, he said, "And when we have a hundred children and a thousand grandchildren, I'll tell each and every one of them the story of how Mom and Dad defeated Gaea's Champion."
"Promise of a lifetime."
Well, that's the end of Chapter 24.
Thank you all for reading and stay safe!
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