Send Me on My Way
Alright. I cranked out 8k for my novel and kept on top of all my schoolwork, so now it's time for a little bit more fanfiction.
For those that wanted more of this, congratulations. For those that wanted more Transcendence or Blood War, be patient. Those are next. I want to finish the Lightning Thief arc before moving on.
Disclaimer: I don't own PJO or BL
On the train heading for Denver, Hedge, Annabeth, and Percy sat in one of the many cabins about the car, having paid for their tickets with Mist. Annabeth's favorite trick was to use that nifty little reality-warping magic to bend rules and get her way, whatever that way may be. Honestly, she didn't understand why more demigods didn't use the Mist like she did; she didn't understand why more demigods didn't use the Mist to bring about peace and order in America, using the Mist to put themselves in positions of great political power, and further using the Mist to bend the minds of others into compliance so that laws would be passed unobstructed.
Hell, forget that part. Just use the Mist and wrap it around America's collective mind and bring every man, woman, and child under the singular influence of one. It was a great way to get rid of crime and poverty, and Annabeth would not be swayed otherwise.
As she looked at her reflection in the window, she resolved herself to go about doing something like that, using the Mist on a grand scale to temper aggression and pride, and bolster compassion and humility.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Hm?" Annabeth looked to Hedge, mentally prepared to defend her position.
"I asked what's wrong with you," Hedge said. "You're acting funny around the kid. You're not usually this…warm."
Annabeth blinked, brain short-circuiting as she was caught flat-footed. As she rebooted, she recalled her previous behavior and compared it to her current. Hedge's remark about warmth was not unfounded, as even amongst her siblings she was regarded as chilly. Not mean or unapproachable, just cold and projecting an aura of unwelcomeness. Brooding was probably the best way to describe her, but was her brooding state not without merit?
Given to a father that didn't want her; pushed aside for a woman that wasn't her mother and boys that weren't her brothers—literally, as no DNA had been shared between Frederick and Athena, meaning that Bobby and Matthew were complete biological aliens to Annabeth. At ten, she took to the streets by choice, which was cause for demerits in regards to sympathy and pity points, but what she then endured was cause for gold stars.
Starvation, dehydration, disease, the odd monster coming to eat her, various groups of various peoples of various ages and genders coming to do what they wanted to her, whether be rape her, kidnap her and sell her into prostitution, or slavery, or to some sick freak so that they could cut her up and mutilate her, like in Hostel. Having to scavenge through the garbage, praying that she was about to eat wasn't going to kill her. Getting sick with whatever disease, and having to suffer through it, whether it just be fever and nausea, or more drastic things like vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea, faintness, coughing up blood, and more.
Annabeth could tell you from experience that there was no worse physical feeling than having a high fever, trembling in the cold, laying in a puddle of your own sick, the sensation of your insides churning and twisting, your brain feeling like melting cheese, your nose stopped up, your ears blocked, your mouth dry, and to top it all off, watery waste pooled in your pants, running down the backs of your legs, and leaking over the waistline to stain your back and shirt
And then she met Thalia, and then Luke, and grew to love them both very much. Then Luke died, and Thalia was turned into a fucking tree.
And she had to wake up everyday henceforth and see that towering pine looming over the whole camp, the camp filled with happy, smiling, plucky kids with no comprehension of pain and suffering.
So, one could make a very strong argument of her reasons for being a brooding loner.
And then Percy popped into her life, or more like she popped into his, and as she reflected on their interactions with each other in the past three-ish days, she could recall quite clearly a change in her behavior. She smiled more, touched more, and she could feel that aura around her, so cold and unwelcoming, had become more lukewarm and more…"meh" for lack of a better word.
Something stirred against her legs, and Annabeth refocused on the here and now. Percy had decided to nap again and was using her lap as his pillow. A bit of his hair had gotten in his mouth and he was spitting it out in his sleep. Annabeth gently curled her fingers through Percy's hair, a fond smile on her face.
"The little one here is bringing out buried emotions," the blonde finally answered Hedge's question. "Percy reminds me of Luke."
"Luke…I remember him. Cerebral palsy making him limp really bad, high-stress environment made him urinate at night. I don't think you ever clarified: was Luke your son or your little brother?"
"Neither, genetically speaking. Spiritually…it varied. Sometimes he was like a little brother, others like a son. Depended on the mood everyone was in, the atmosphere, the situation, and how he was acting."
Hedge hummed, the look on his face making it clear that he didn't understand.
Annabeth grinned knowingly at the satyr's plight. "In time, when there's someone close to you, a lot younger than you, you might get it."
Hedge grunted. "We'll see, cupcake. Now what's wrong with the kid? He didn't strike me as the…mushy type."
"His mother was raped and murdered in front of him," Annabeth said neutrally. "Things like that leave deep psychological scars, some of which don't heal over. Let me ask you: if your mother was killed before you at a young age, wouldn't you want someone there to fill the sudden void? A proxy, or a substitute? Not necessarily someone to take your mother's full place, but someone close enough to where you feel a little bit better?"
"I guess. Psychology isn't my field of study."
"Doesn't have to be," Annabeth shrugged. "If you can understand a smoker fresh off the cigarette wanting something to soothe his nerves and occupy himself, then you can understand a hurting child wanting the comfort of his mother."
"Ah, so the kid's seeing you as his new mommy."
"Something like that."
"Consider the way he's dressed, I figured that bitch was his mommy."
"You think she was a mother-figure?"
"Apparently one good enough to where the kid decided to dress like her."
"…good enough point. I suppose I'm more maternal than Revy is, and Percy subconsciously likes that."
Hedge snorted. "Subconsciously my hairy ass. If he was any smaller, he'd proudly be telling you about how he successfully went potty and didn't make a mess everywhere."
Annabeth's lips quirked upward. "And then I'd have to check his underwear to make sure he wiped good enough."
"Heh, probably. You humans are strange. Your children stranger."
The daughter of Athena shrugged. "Such is our nature."
A dark look suddenly crossed Hedge's face. "Nature, bah! If there's going to be any talk about nature, it'll be about how you humans are destroying it."
"And about how you nature spirits are sitting on your asses, bitching about it being destroyed," Annabeth countered flatly.
Hedge grabbed his bat. "What'd you say, cupcake?" he growled.
Annabeth grabbed her knife. "You heard me."
Neither one of them had noticed how the sudden hostile air had awoken Percy, but his conscious state soon became clear when Hedge stood from the bench. Faster than the blink of an eye, there was the sound of whipping, of metal cleaving through air, the crack of bone setting, the clap of flesh suddenly stopping. Hedge and Annabeth both got very still, and the satyr found himself on the business end of Russian Tokarev TT-30 pistol.
And further down from the barrel was a single, crack open green eye.
Percy was not playing anymore.
Hedge grumbled. "I'm going to go walk the train and make sure there aren't any monsters on board."
With that, he left.
Percy holstered his gun and snuggled in to Annabeth. She put her knife away and started to play with his hair, leaning back and closing her own eyes. Within moments, they were both sound asleep together.
The end of line was Denver, which was met with mixed emotions. Hedge thought the city stank far too much like a skunk's ass. Annabeth was more occupied with brainstorming transportation methods. Percy was where the mixture came in, because where he was glad to be off the cramped and boring train that had nothing fun to do, he also found it comforting to take a nap with Annabeth.
He couldn't take a nap with Annabeth on the train when they weren't on the stupid train.
"Now what?" Hedge asked.
Annabeth inhaled. "We find a car wash. We can use the sprayer to get in touch with Chiron to give him a status update, and if the Fates are kind, a set of wheels will roll up and we can borrow them."
Percy's tummy added its own opinion. He looked up at Annabeth. I'm hungry. Can we eat somewhere? There's going to be lots of cars at wherever we go.
Annabeth raised a brow. "And what if we go to a trashcan?"
Why would we go to trashcan?
But we're not desperate…I think.
"Exactly. Which is why you are going to wait till we're done at the carwash."
Percy pouted at not immediately getting his way of going to eat somewhere, and flickering iota of a thought flashed across his mind of giving both Hedge and Annabeth the finger and going to find someplace for himself, but he let that flicker die out. He liked these two, and besides:
He could go a little while longer without food.
The nearest carwash was easily found, and when Annabeth asked if Percy knew what an Iris Message was and how it worked, and he said yes—because he really did know—she nodded and put him on lookout duty while Hedge held the sprayer.
A car quickly rolled up, and Percy's jaw practically unhinged at how stupid it was.
The boy didn't know the model, much less the make, as he wasn't a car person, but the vehicle's body was painted a reflective purple, its grill and wheels a shiny gold, white tiger print on the top of the car, a hood ornament of a middle finger, and a license plate that Percy eventually deciphered as saying "GNGSTA."
Never mind the base system shaking the bricks of the carwash and making Percy's ear hurt.
The guy who got out of the car was even harder on the eyes, as it was a lanky white man wearing very baggy pants that were sagging about his thighs, an overly large football jersey, and the man had a scraggly beard and mustache, a white fedora-esque hat with a leopard print band around it, and numerous gold chains around his neck as well as numerous gold watches around his wrists.
There was also the cloud of smoke that had erupted from the open door and was continuing to pour out into the open air, the smell of which was making Percy gag.
The guy caught sight of the son of Poseidon and mistook him for a potential buyer.
"Wassup, mah niggah? If yo lookin' fo a blunt, I got jus' whatcho need. Jus' show me da green and I'll show you da green, wuz yo say?"
You're an embarrassment to pimps and drug dealers.
Percy crushed the pimp's nutsack with a well-placed kick, and there was so much power behind said kick that the pimp's eyeballs literally popped out of his skull and he died of shock, cornea dangling from his sockets.
Percy shivered. Then he grabbed one of the watches, noted its impressive weight for its size, and hurled it into the car's dashboard with all the speed of an MLB fastball, completely destroying the sound system and making the speakers and radio shut off. The silence was music to Percy's ears.
Annabeth and Hedge both poked their heads around the corner, surveyed the damage, drew conclusions based on what they saw, and decided Percy had done the world a great favor, perhaps one even greater than bringing back the Master Bolt and averting World War Three.
"Alright. Let's go eat," Annabeth said.
Percy jumped, legs curled and a fist pumped high, a happy look on his face.
The diner was just as easily found as the carwash. It was getting late, and the evening crowd was starting to trickle in. Annabeth surveyed the establishment, locating exits, taking note of the floorplan and layout, and analyzing the clientele for the evening. Average families, a couple of loners, a few old people—no one of true noteworthiness. However, in a booth there at the very back of the diner, was an odd trio.
Two of them had their backs turned, but Annabeth could still the muscles on the one on the left, and his white hair, tipped in black. A girl was next to him, with sun-kissed skin, bordering between Hispanic and surfer, and she had shiny black hair. The one on the opposite side of the two with their backs to her was the most interesting, for they (as Annabeth couldn't discern gender) were cosplaying as a member of the Akatsuki, from the anime Naruto. The person had the collar buttoned all the way up, hiding most of their face, but Annabeth could that the individual had gone the extra mile with their cosplay and put in Sharingan contacts.
Annabeth caught the person's eye and nodded in simple acknowledgement of their existence. They nodded back.
Percy, Hedge, and the blonde all took seats at a booth close to the door, with Annabeth getting the window, her back to those in the corner, Percy scooching in next to her, leaving Hedge to take the opposite bench. A waitress approached, a young woman working this as either part time for high school or part time for college, looking a little worn down, probably having been here most of the day and was nearing the end of her people fuse.
Still, that didn't stop her from being all smiles and friendliness.
"And what will we be having to drink this evening?"
"I'll have a water," Hedge said shortly.
Annabeth put a hand on Percy's head. "He'll also be having a water, and I'll have a black coffee, no cream or sugar. Just the coffee."
"Two waters and a straight black coffee…" the waitress muttered as she scribbled down on her notepad. "Alright. I'll be right back."
She went away and didn't return before an angry red light came glaring in through the windows, an impossibly deep rumble accompanying, rattling silverware, chairs, tables, and drinks. Before anyone could start screaming about an earthquake, the rumble and the light both shut off, and a moment later, someone entered.
That someone was wearing black jeans and a red muscle shirt, a black duster trailing behind him. His face was scarred, his black hair cut military style, dark sunglasses over his eyes. His boots thudded against the floor, and his grin was one of pure malice.
He trudged right up to the booth our protagonists were sitting on, and practically squashed Hedge against the wall.
"Well, if it ain't Poseidon's little bitch and Athena's brain turd," Ares said. He rested his arm across the back of the bench, and mussed Hedge's hat. "And a goat."
The satyr bleated angrily. "You want to say that again?"
"Coach!" Annabeth barked. "Control yourself. Lord Ares' natural aura provokes violence and conflict. Be calm and composed."
"Calm and composed, eh?" the war god grinned. "And how calm and composed were you when Little Luke's insides got splattered all over the ground?"
"Not very," Annabeth said evenly. "Did you come here just to make conversation with us, or was there something of importance that you needed to do here?"
"Neither. I came here to be helpful."
"How so, my lord?"
Ares scratched his cheek, a taunting grin on his face.
He was the god here, the most powerful one, and he knew it. He had full and total control over everything that was happening right now, and he knew that no one around could challenge that authority. And it pleased him, made him drunk on the rush of power that it brought to him, and if there was one thing Ares was all about, it was about power, authority, and weight.
And throwing it around.
"Call me 'daddy' and I'll answer."
Percy's guns were out in a snap, his face one of ice. Ares just grinned. "Careful, bitch. There's no one around for hundred of miles in every direction that'll be able to stop me from bending your little ass over this table and making you moan my name."
Annabeth calmly put her arm over Percy's extended ones, and gently pushed down, making him power his weapons.
"And nothing like that will come to pass, because we're all going to play nice from here on out. Now, how are you here to help us, Daddy?"
"Mmm, I like that. From this point forward, you will be referring to me as Daddy, and that one as Princess Percy."
The son of Poseidon glowered, while Annabeth just smiled thinly, unimpressed. "As you wish, Daddy. Princess Percy said he had to go to the bathroom, so would you please allow him to go, Daddy?"
"Hmm, well, since you asked so nicely, I shall allow it."
Annabeth gave Percy a very pointed look, and he just glowered back. The point became like a searing hot blade, and the boy caved with a huff. Percy slid out of the booth and went for the bathroom, but on his way there, Ares reached out and grabbed a generous handful of his ass, freely groping and squeezing him like he was a waitress whore at a sleezy dive. Percy's face burned red, both in anger and embarrassment, and there was no stopping him this time.
The guns were out, and twin dots of red glowed brightly from behind Ares' sunglasses. The god grinned, and with a jut of his chin, Percy's arms were jerked straight up just as he fired, and the bullets went ripping through the ceiling.
The war god tutted. "You just attacked an Olympian god. As such, I'm allowed to punish you however I see fit."
Ares rose from the booth, and ran his hands over Percy's slim and toned body like he was examining a trophy. It was clear to all just what he intended, but no one could move, all of their bodies locked in place by an otherworldly force. Ares slid his hands down to cup Percy's ass once again.
"This is mine now, and so are these."
The son of Zeus leaned down to take Percy's lips, but the boy was not wholly immobile. He spat at Ares, his balled up saliva impacting the scarred cheek. The war god just grinned, his tongue rolling out of his mouth to lick away the saliva.
"You've got some fight in you. I like that."
"Then you're going to love me."
That was all the warning Ares got before what felt like a dump truck hit him in the face at terminal velocity, and he was sent rocketing out of the diner with such speed that a cone of air formed around him, his tailwind being so strong that it shredded everything in his wake, including the diner, the people in the diner, and everything for the next ten thousand feet.
Annabeth openly gaped at the extended fist, and she gaped even more as she followed that fist to the rest of the body, the rest of the body being black as the sky at midnight, female in shape, and with many oddities, including a bladed tail, four tubes poking from the back, and tendrils in place of air. Annabeth didn't know what this creature was, but she was afraid of it, perhaps even more so than of spiders.
But those feelings of fear were washed away when the creature leaned over and gently planted a kiss so full of love and maternity on Annabeth's forehead, that she almost let out a pitiful whine when the contact ended. Never, ever in her life had she experienced a feeling of love like that, so strong and powerful.
She wanted to follow the creature, to get answers, but when she focused back in, the creature was gone, nowhere to be seen in the destroyed diner.
"She stole the first strike," Annabeth heard someone mutter, impress and jealousy in his deep voice. She looked over and saw a big specimen of a man trudge past, wearing the garb of a warrior king. "I hate it when someone besides me gets the first strike."
He disappeared out the wreckage, and then there was someone else.
The one in the cloak.
He slowly turned his head, and Annabeth knew terror once again when she beheld those scarlet eyes glowing in the darkness of the shadows. It was like looking at twin red giants in the depths of the cold void of space, so massive and powerful that you couldn't help but feel insignificant and worthless, like all you ever accomplished in life was meaningless, and all you ever did, or would do, had no value.
Looking into those eyes was like realizing the true emptiness of the human existence.
Those suns got brighter and brighter, before they became so luminous that Annabeth couldn't look at them anymore, and she had to close her eyes lest she be blinded.
She felt tugging on her sleeve, and cracked her eyes open to behold a scary sight: the diner in perfect condition and Ares gone.
Percy was the one to have tugged her sleeve, and he was looking worried. Are you okay?
"I'm fine. What happened?"
That jerk wants us to go get his shield from a waterpark. He'll get us a ride west if we do.
Annabeth blinked. She recalled that conversation, Ares talking about being on a date that got interrupted, and in his haste to leave he had left his favorite shield on a water ride at Waterland, an abandoned water park a little ways down the street from here. In return for retrieving his shield, he had promised transportation west.
She remembered all this, and yet it also felt off. But the more she dwelled on those off feelings, the more they dissipated until she was sure of what had happened.
"Well, you heard the god. Let's go get that shield."
Hedge grunted. "I hate shields. Only cupcakes use shields."
As the trio made their way on foot to the abandoned water park, they were unaware of the three watchers above.
"If I'm supposed to be War, and she's supposed to be Plague, and you're supposed to be Death, who is Famine?"
"Undecided," Death said, exhaling a cloud of smoke from the cigarette in his mouth. "There's symbolism to all of and our names, but Famine doesn't fit anyone. Virgil might qualify, as he has engaged in fasting with Muslims before, and Tobi is a possibility, as he was never fed anything but bleach and rat poison as a child, and cannot die by starvation, but Kraken also qualifies, as they need to feed on humans and other Ghouls to live. Essentially, whoever Famine will be, they'll have to have some kind of eating situation."
'Famine is our constant variant,' Plague spoke up. 'Famine will be the one that has no specific person to fill the position, and so is open to our choice based on who best fits the situation.'
War hummed again.
There was a pained groan behind the Three Horsemen.
"Yes, about that one: what exactly were you planning on doing with him?"
Plague let out a low, raspy hiss. 'I'll think of something.'
"Careful," Death warned in a low tone. "We are not here to alter destiny. Do not cripple him."
'All it takes is some water and he's healed,' Plague argued.
"As I said: don't cripple him. Nor let your association of Annabeth and Gunslinger, with your Annabeth and Arcadia, cloud your judgement. Again."
Plague stalked away to have her way with the war god.
War stood next to Death. "Ironic. Arguably she's the most level-headed of all of us, and she's the one acting like a teenager, acting in accordance with her emotions instead of her brain."
"Let her do as she pleases. She's became a mother of three when she was thirteen and a goddess when she was fourteen. Things like that rob one of their experiences in life."
War hummed. "And you'd know all about robbed experiences, wouldn't you?"
Death remained silent.
"That's what I thought," War grinned. "I believe we've taken enough of the limelight for now."
In a swirl of water, all Three vanished.
Sorry. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to bring them in. It's a guilty pleasure of mine. However, on a real note, this clears up just who Famine is in accordance to my Four Horsemen. Famine is the interchangeable character based on who I want.
Anyway, I finally finished this chapter and here it is. You can tell I enjoy a little bit of Ares bashing in my fics, with him being killed in Backup Plan, being one-shotted in Ghoul, manhandled by Jesus in Transcendence, and then manhandled by Asteria in this one. Also keep in mind that Asteria hates Ares because it's the war god's fault Annabeth's mind went all screwy in Xenomorphic.
Next chapter should be the wrapping-up of the Lightning Thief arc, and that's going to bring a massive question:
What's going to happen to Annabeth?
Think about it after you Fav, Follow, and Review!