_Percy Jackson_

_Tartarus _

After crawling out of the hole, we had walked briskly along the river bank, trying to get as far from where we'd started as possible. There was no telling how long we walked, but we didn't slow down until Grey Shadow tripped over a rock, nearly falling into the fire-river. "You okay?" I asked.

"Just a little tired," she mumbled.

I nodded, looking around the landscape. Every few moments, a fissure would erupt, sending fiery steam into toxic air. The forums was scaly, filled with random bumps and ridges, like skin on a freckle-ridden, acne prone teen. There was a jagged looking rock with low ground a few meters away. Together, Annabeth and I walked over, taking a seat under the shade. We sat in silence, listening to hiss of Phlegethon not too far away.

After what felt like forever, Annabeth sighed, saying, "We're never gonna get out of here."

I frowned, looking down at her. "Don't say that."

"But it's true! We have no food or water! We won't last more then a week without water, and who knows how long we've been down here!" Annabeth shouted. "We're probably already dead!"

"Stop shouting," I said. "Don't start freaking out on me, okay? We need to keep going. We can't let Luke Castallan win, okay?"

"He's already won," Annabeth sniffed. "We might as well just jump on the Phlegethon, end it now."

"He hasn't won, Annabeth. We're the unstoppable team."

"Well I'm stopping," she said. Looking at me with teary eyes, she said, "we're going to die down here, alone, because of me. Nico hates us, he'd rather be in this hell hole then the real world. I don't even have a stupid family. I know so many people would rather me down here then out there, causing problems. We're not superheroes Percy. We're just a bunch of obnoxious teens driven by selfish motives, thinking we're doing good."

"Annabeth, listen to me," I said. "I don't care if the whole world would rather us down here. I want you—us—to be out there. No matter what anyone thinks, we are family, and I'm not letting you die down here. I don't know if we're the good guys…"

I looked at her, in her gray eyes, seeing them wide with fear, but there was also hope.

"…but we have to do what we think is right. We can't give up."

She stared at me, chewing the corner of her bottom lip. We stayed like that, staring, for minutes (or maybe a few seconds), before she sighed, resting her head on my shoulder. "I hate it when your all prophetic and smart." she mumbled.

"I know. Now rest up, Annie. We've got a lot of walking left." I said.

"No, Percy, you need to rest too." Annabeth argued.

I smiled softly, because it was so Annabeth to want me to get things and her not.

"Annabeth, just sleep."

"No," she mumbled sleepily.

I raised an eyebrow at her, watching as her heavy eyelids drooped before closing. Within minutes, she was sound asleep, snoring softly with her head on my chest.

Presently, I was only focused on staying awake to keep watch. Sure, if something came out and attacked us, it would be difficult to protect Grey Shadow without waking her up. Is it came to that, however, I was prepared to fight with every last aching breath. I was excessively tired as well, and my legs ached, my nose and throats were raw from breathing the poisonous air and drinking fire. It felt like when you threw up too often and it burned, but about ten times worse. This was about getting back to the surface, to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. Grey Shadow would do the same for me, no matter how much she said she hates me. And if she really is Annabeth (which I don't doubt), she would especially do the same.

The red sky above churned like a pot of steamy…steamy red stew. I'm sorry, I was never really good at comparisons. And what even can you compare and swirling, cloudy mass of shades of red to? Tulips? All you need to know is that the clouds were swirling as if they were angry. I sat, staring at the sky and horizon, watching puffs of steam sprout like geysers. God only knows what was happening there.

I'd bet Nico di Angelo was sending troops after us already. There were probably hundreds of thousands of mutant freaks chasing after us. And yet, here we were, resting and sleeping. Those half robot freaks could show up right now, screaming bloody murder. I'd Kill everything before I'd wake up Annabeth. It's kinda like how I never tell my mom I'm cold after we go out and she told me to bring a jacket. It's a matter of pride, you know?

What felt like hours later, but no one knows how long it had really been, it seemed as if Grey Shadow was starting to wake up. She was mumbling in her sleep random nothings. If she was anything like Annabeth, she would be awake any time now.

The roar of the river intensified, the air getting murky and excessively hot. I felt chills crawl up my spine, the hairs on my neck standing on end. Instinctively, I looked up, watching as the clouds funneled, turning into an angry red color. There was a tiny object falling through the even smaller hole, the object growing larger the closer it to to the ground. Too late, I realized it was a person, unconscious, falling straight for the River of Fire.

I had no idea if I could even control a River of Fire, but I didn't have much of a choice. I shot up, knocking Grey Shadow off of me and hitting the ground hard. Less concerned about her at the moment, I continued on, reaching my arm out toward the 'water'. I focused on the flaming water, the untamable waves of fire as they were kept at bay by the riverbank. I grabbed a hold of the reigns, piloting the water up into the flaming atmosphere.

The water swirled in a funnel of its own, the buoyancy and gases keeping the person afloat, merely inches above the the river.

"What's going on?" Grey Shadow demanded, appearing next to me.

"Help me get'm ashore," I said.

She nodded, moving quickly to the riverbank. Her wings sprung from her back, sending her up several feet in the air. She seemed to tilt and toddle to the side, but she managed to reach into the funnel, pulling out a limp body and dragging him onto the ground next to me. She collapsed onto the ground, wheezing as if she had just run a marathon. I let the Phlegethon disperse, getting onto the ground next to the person.

I glanced over at Grey Shadow, seeing the cracks and ruptures on her wings steaming, the air around her an even angrier red then usual. "You okay?" I asked.

She nodded weakly, gasping for breath. "Who's that?" she asked.

I shrugged, rolling to person onto their back. I was slightly shocked to find that it was Ethan Nakamura, his eyepatch displaced and covering his forehead, his left eye socket empty and red and slightly open. It was absolutely disgusting. I looked back at Annabeth, seeing that she had her breathing slightly under check, her wings still steaming.

"Remember him?" I asked. "We fought him last summer, I think it was."

"Nakamura," she mumbled. "Wasn't he like, in charge?"

"It's cause of us," I said. "Castallan disgraced him cause we, and the others, got that big box—"

"It was a casket, Hurricane. A casket."

"I am not current concerned with what the big box is called, Grey Shadow," I stated.

Nakamura groaned next to me, rolling onto his side in the process.

"How do you even know this?" Grey Shadow asked.

"I had a dream, the other day when I was passed out."

"Oh," Grey Shadow said.

Silence. The only sound was the steaming sizzle of Grey Shadow's wings, Nakamura's moaning in his sleep, and the hiss of the Phlegethon.

Suddenly, Annabeth stood up, saying, "Nico's armies are coming. They're getting close, we need to move."

"We can't just leave Nakamura here," I stated, getting up as well.

"Why not? He's tried to kill us on multiple accounts."

"But he's a human." I said.

"So? He's evil."

"Were superheroes, Annabeth, we don't leave anyone behind. Even if they tried to kill us. Especially if someone who's presently trying to kill us will kill them."

Annabeth groaned, rolling her eyes. "Your so noble and loyal, it's disgusting."

I smirked, lifting Nakamura up by the arm. "Help me carry him, how bout."

She grabbed his other arm, holding it around her shoulder. Together, we trudged along the Phlegethon, dragging the barely conscious Ethan Nakamura between us.

A/N: Where have I been? Oh no one asked. I wonder why? Anyway, I wrote this when I was supposed to be studying for finals, because school sucks and I'm over it and I'm just gonna flunk out before I even do anything important! AAAAAAHHH. Sorry, I'm going a little insane. Read and review.