A/N: Hey everyone! I'm not new to this site, but this is my first Percy Jackson story. It's something that came to me while on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and I've finally decided to write about it. The story is set after The Titan's Curse. I hope you enjoy.
Also, I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Rick Riordan does. It's quite simple, you see.
The rest of my school year was pretty lame. And it wasn't just because of the insane amount of homework I got nearly every day. I swear, teachers must get together and plot how to overwork their students. Nothing would surprise me. But I guess things could be worse. I could have another pack of cannibal giants trying to make mince meat of me. But really, you'd think that after all the stuff that went down during the winter break I'd be hearing something out of Kronos' army. Oh well, no news is good news.
I can't say that life outside of school hasn't been eventful, not with Mr. Blowfish around. He's not a bad guy, he's just always around. He doesn't smell as bad as Gabe though, which is a major relief. But the thing is, my mom seems to be spending more time with him than with me. I mean, I go to school and she goes to work. And then in the evenings she goes out with the Fish Man, which is a nickname I invented on the phone with Annabeth one night. I've stayed in touch with Annabeth, which is a good thing, because she's the one who's keeping me sane. Although, I can't help but to think of my conversation with Aphrodite every time I talk to her.
So you can probably imagine how weird it was when I asked her if she wanted to come spend a weekend up in New York before we returned to camp for the summer. I pretty much melted into a tiny puddle of Percy when she said she'd love to.
Annabeth had arrived that morning, meaning I had to wake up bright and early on a Saturday. My mom drove us to the airport to pick her up. All along the way I begged her not to share anymore 'adorable' stories with her. She just smiled at me.
We waited at the gate in Terminal One for Annabeth's flight in from San Francisco. For the whole twenty minutes, I chewed the inside of my lip nervously, and felt oddly like a guinea pig again.
"Percy, she's here."
My mom had grabbed my shoulder and pointed to a wave of people coming out of the gate. Annabeth was just a few people back and when I saw her all thoughts of rodents instantly left my brain. Instead, I remembered the words of a certain goddess. I watched as Annabeth descended down the ramp, pulling a small black luggage behind her. She looked exhausted, with her tired eyes and messy ponytail; and yet there was still something…pretty about her. At the moment, I wasn't sure what I hated more; Aphrodite or hormones. Both were pretty confusing.
The minute Annabeth saw me and my mom, her face lit up with a big smile and she hurried towards us. She dropped her luggage at my feet and gave me a huge bear-hug. I felt my cheeks burning against her shoulder. My blush wasn't helped by the fact that her hair smelled like peaches. When we broke apart, I noticed Annabeth was looking at the floor, her face a little flushed as well, and I didn't feel so bad. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my mom give a little knowing smile. Talk about embarrassing.
"Hey Ms. Jackson," Annabeth greeted my mom with another smile, pulling me out of my thoughts.
"Hello Annabeth," my mom smiled, "How was your flight?"
"It wasn't bad," Annabeth replied, "A bit too early for my liking though."
"That makes two of us," I mumbled. Annabeth looked at me with a raised eyebrow and laughed slightly.
"Well then," my mom continued the conversation, "How about I take you guys back home and you can fall asleep for a couple of hours."
That offer sounded too good to be true. We started back to the car, me nearly tripping my own feet a dozen times in grogginess. I fell asleep on the way home and barely woke up to help Annabeth bring her luggage in. My mom showed her to her room and I went straight to mine, throwing myself onto the bed and slipping into a deep sleep.
I woke up who knows how long after, to the sound of my mother calling me to lunch. After a yawn that would make the Nemean Lion jealous, I walked into the kitchen, where Annabeth was setting the table. As I entered the room, she looked up at me, a playful smiling on her lips, dancing up to her grey eyes.
"Have a nice sleep Pumpkin Percy?"
I instantly paled and turned to glare at my mother, who purposely avoided my eyes. Okay, story time. When I was a little kid, like four years old or something, I wanted to be a superhero really badly. So I invented Pumpkin Percy. It was me, but cooler. Picture my body with a big pumpkin head in an orange cape. So lame, I know. I can't believe that Annabeth knew about that. I would never live this down.
I opened my mouth to reply, but Annabeth just laughed and rolled her eyes jokingly. She seemed to have changed over the year. She just looked happier than she ever had, now that she was living with her family again. It was really nice to see her smiling so much.
Lunch was great, but that was expected, what with my mom being super talented in the kitchen. We had these really good sandwiches with blue eggs and bacon. Annabeth thought the whole blue theme of our food was really cool. I was happy to hear that.
After we finished eating, my mom cleared up with help from both Annabeth and I. We finished the dishes in no time and Annabeth and I plopped down in the living room to relax, watch TV, and be normal teenagers for the weekend. My mom disappeared for a little while, and then returned halfway through some hilariously stupid cartoon show. She was dressed into her work uniform.
"I'll be back later tonight guys," she said as she walked towards the front door, "Don't waste the beautiful weather today. Go out and do something."
And with one final wave she was on her way. After a moment, I looked at Annabeth, to find that she was already staring at me expectantly.
"What do you want to do?" she asked.
"Anything," I said, "There's this really cool carnival in town this weekend. You know rides, cotton candy, games, and carnies. Want to check it out later? It's nicer at night."
Annabeth looked like a little girl on Christmas morning, her entire face lit up. I'd never seen her look so vibrant.
"Oh Percy," she sighed, "I'd love to go! I've never been to a carnival before! Thank you so much!"
Needless to say, I blushed. Oh gods, I had done that a lot today. I wondered if Annabeth thought this was like a date. I certainly didn't mean for it to sound like I was asking her out, but maybe a real date wouldn't be so bad. No, Annabeth and I had better things to do than date. We had a world to save.
If I would have known how that night would turn out, I would have never mentioned the carnival at all.
We set off at around six o'clock, after I left a note for my mother on the fridge, telling her where we had gone. I guess she had figured that I would take Annabeth some place nicer than the corner store, because she left about thirty bucks on the counter. We would be able to do a few rides and play a few games with that money. For some reason, I had the strange desire to win Annabeth one of those giant stuffed toys.
We took a subway down to the carnival. On the ride there, I couldn't help but notice that Annabeth looked a little nervous and distant. She kept her eyes locked on the feet, which were tapping nervously.
"You okay Wise Girl?" I asked her with concern. She looked up at me and nodded curtly. Then she pursed her lips.
"I'm not sure Percy," she muttered, "I have a bad feeling about…something."
I wasn't really sure how to respond. Just a couple of hours earlier, Annabeth had nearly jumped for joy over going to a carnival, and now looked like she was going to be sick all over the subway. And I had a feeling the guy sitting across from us would not like that. I decided to play the comfort card.
"It'll be fine Annabeth," I assured her, "We're going to have lots of fun."
"I know, I know," Annabeth sighed, "But what…"
"Don't worry," I said, "Got the Yankees cap?" She nodded and pulled the blue baseball cap out of the pocket of her jeans. "Good," I continued, "And I've got Riptide." I pointed to my pocket where I kept my sword disguised as a ballpoint pen. "We'll be fine."
Annabeth nodded and smiled softly, thanking me for being so great. Even if she had wanted to continue worrying, she wouldn't have had time, because we had reached our stop. We got off the subway and left the station. As soon as we emerged from underground, our eyes fell upon the carnival.
Okay, picture this. Take every school dance you've ever been too. Take all the lights and all the noise and add them together. Then multiply by ten. That's what the carnival was like. And if you're saying, 'Oh well it doesn't sound that great,' then you've been to some pretty pathetic school dances.
Once we reached the gates, I bought a couple of tickets, thinking they would last us about an hour. I was completely wrong. Annabeth, who seemed to have forgotten her worries, wanted to do everything. We went on a couple rides; the ones that make people nauseous. I figured that it was nothing compared to the ride we took on a giant pig last winter. Nothing could be worse than that.
I did manage to win Annabeth a stuffed bear though, in that game where you shoot the water at a target. I swear I did not cheat. I just have really good aim. It wasn't one of those really massive bears I won her; she insisted she was happy with the one she could actually carry in her arms. After the game, she hugged me again. Girls.
The time seemed to fly by while we ate chilli cheese fries and cotton candy, and before we knew it, we only had two tickets left. One last ride. Somehow, we had managed to walk right between the Ferris wheel and The Tunnel of Love. I shot the guy who operated the wheel a dirty look, although I know he didn't see it. And I know it wasn't his fault that the carnival people had decided to put the two most romantic rides side-by-side.
I looked over at Annabeth, who was gazing dreamily at the top of the Ferris wheel. I really did not want to go up there. The sky wasn't my element. I moved to tap Annabeth on the shoulder, but before I could, she turned around to look at me.
"Which one?" she asked. I bit my lip. I really wanted to say Tunnel of Love, but how weird would that be? What if Annabeth thought I liked her? What if I did like her? No. My indecision wasn't because of Annabeth. It was because neither ride was appealing. The Ferris wheel was too airy. And the Tunnel of Love…well I remembered what had happened last time Annabeth and I had been in one of those things. It had not ended nicely, and was part of the reason I didn't like Ares all that much. But still, when it came down to water versus air, there was no competition to which I preferred.
"How about this one?" I mumbled shyly, jerking my thumb towards the neon-pink sign shaped as a heart. Annabeth looked at me quizzically for a moment, no doubt remembering what had happened last time. Then she grinned.
"No way Seaweed Brain," she laughed, "I know what you're thinking."
She did? I knew Annabeth was smart, but there was no way she could read minds. Did she really know that I was going over everything Aphrodite had said about true love?
"It's a water ride," Annabeth's voice pulled me back to reality, "I don't plan on getting drenched tonight."
I was so relieved that I laughed, which was good because Annabeth thought I was laughing at her remark and didn't suspect a thing.
"So," I said after our laughter had subsided, "You want the Ferris wheel?"
"I think it would be cool," Annabeth nodded. I took a moment and swallowed my indecision.
"Come on Wise Girl," I muttered, grabbing Annabeth's hand and pulling her towards the line for the Ferris wheel.
Twenty minutes later, we were sitting in a cart, perched at the top of the wheel. The twilight had been masked by rolling black clouds. Faint yellow lightning crackled inside if the clouds, which made me pretty nervous being the son of Poseidon and all. Annabeth was peering out over the side of the cart, while I was staying put in my seat, gripping my knees. That lightning was really unsettling, but Annabeth didn't seem to notice.
Suddenly, Annabeth whipped around to look at me, her face pale.
"Percy, I…I think I just…I think I just saw," she stuttered. Then she took a good look at me and I must've looked pretty rough, because she stopped saying whatever she was going to say and grabbed my hand. "Never mind," she muttered, "Are you okay?"
I nodded grimly and Annabeth frowned.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled, "I shouldn't have made you come up here."
I opened my mouth to tell her it was no problem at all, but I was interrupted by a loud screech. And let me tell you, whatever made that noise was not human.
"Oh gods," Annabeth groaned, "Percy, get down!" Without warning, Annabeth pushed me to the floor of the cart, where my hand came into contact with used gum. Gross. But we had bigger problems to worry about. I looked beside me, where Annabeth was crouched low, eyes closed, muttering under her breath. She was probably praying to her mother. I figured that even though I had no idea what I was facing it couldn't be a bad idea to follow her example.
Dad, I thought, Please let us get out of this alive.
That's about as far as I got, because the monstrous shrieking interrupted my thoughts. I decided to risk a look at what we were dealing with. I moved into a kneeling position, my eyes wandering over the top of the cart and down to the ground, fifty feet below us. I felt anger bubble up inside of me, almost overwhelming my fear.
Luke was standing at the base of the Ferris wheel, a huge, sleek feathered eagle balanced on his forearm. He was looking upwards and grinning. I knew he could tell we were up here. I wondered how long he had been following us. It seemed that Luke had spotted me, because he cast the bird off his arm and waved.
The bird began to rocket towards our cart. I heard people screaming as I uncapped Riptide, and I vaguely wondered what they saw through The Mist. Quickly, I jumped to my feet and watched the bird as it came closer, growing in size as it rose.
I felt the cart rocking, and I knew Annabeth was getting to her feet as well. One quick glance and I saw that she held her celestial bronze knife.
"It's Ethon," she muttered to me, "The eagle that the gods used to punish Prometheus."
I knew that story, and there was no way I was letting that beak go anyway near me. Not only was it razor sharp, but it had spent centuries gnawing at some guy's liver. That was even grosser than my hand landing in chewed gum.
Before I could process one more thought, Ethon had reached the top of the wheel, his wings flapping dangerously, his beak glinting in the lights of the midway, far below. I raised Riptide and Annabeth did the same with her sword. But it didn't seem as though the eagle wanted to kill us. He swooped low, and I swung, and I missed completely, although I almost did hit Annabeth, which would have been a really bad way to end our date. No, it wasn't a date.
Ethon was quick and, because Annabeth and I had no room to swing, his claws wrapped around us and brought us plummeting towards the earth. I heard Annabeth screaming as we flew downwards, but I was too angry to scream. I knew that we were going to have an audience with Luke. That's why he hadn't ordered the bird to kill.
We were dropped surprisingly delicately on the worn out grass, right in front of Luke's feet. The eagle had shrunk back down to size and was now resting on Luke's arm. Luke was looking down at us with a grin that reminded me of his father Hermes.
"I'm sorry to have interrupted you," Luke said coldly, "I didn't realize you two enjoyed spending extra time together."
I noticed that Annabeth was avoiding looking at Luke. It was almost like she thought that if she didn't see him being evil than it wasn't true. For a daughter of Athena, she sure was blind about some things. I, on the other hand, stood up and looked right at Luke, anger flaring in my eyes.
"What do you want?" I asked, my voice slightly louder than normal. Luke ignored me. Instead, he focused on Annabeth, who was still sitting quietly on the floor. He knelt down beside her, a sympathetic look on his face. I could tell it was fake.
"I miss being at camp with you Annabeth," he whispered to her, "I wish you would just give up and help me. We could be great together." His hand travelled to Annabeth's cheek and I instantly felt angrier than Ares had ever made me. In one swift movement, I had the sharp tip of Riptide pressed against Luke's back.
"Percy," he growled, "Why do you continue to fight?" Luke slowly stood up and I kept Riptide trained on him, just in case. "You're weak. You're easy to beat."
"Is that why you came here?" I shouted, acting much braver than I felt, "To try to scare me? It's not going to work Luke! I'm not scared of you. You're a coward."
I seemed to have hit a nerve. Luke's eyes glinted dangerously, and the large scar given to him by Ladon seemed much more imposing. It reminded me of the day Luke had set the pit scorpion after me.
Luke muttered something in Ancient Greek, and before I could even process that he had said 'attack', I was overwhelmed by a fury of talons and a sharp beak. The world began to fade from sight, and the last thing I heard was Annabeth screaming my name.
I woke up, surrounded by darkness and the smell of stale water. As my vision returned, I saw someone leaning over me. A pretty girl with flowing blonde hair and fair skin. An angel?
"Oh my gods, Percy! You're awake!"
So it wasn't an angel. It was Annabeth. Close enough. I moved to sit up, but Annabeth held me back, shaking her head.
"Rest," she whispered, "I Iris-messaged Chiron. They're sending someone from camp to come and get us."
"Annabeth…" my voice was tired and my throat was dry, "What…what happened to Luke?"
I remembered how Ethon had attacked me on Luke's command. How Luke had been talking to Annabeth, trying to get the best of her. I was afraid, but Annabeth was still here. She had to be one of the good guys. But what had happened to Luke after I blacked out?
"You were nearly a goner Percy," she muttered, ignoring my question, "I had to give you the Yankees cap and hide you before the eagle decided to start poking your liver out. Luke left without calling it off."
"So you fought it?" I asked, "Good gods Annabeth you're brave."
"It was close," Annabeth murmured, her cheeks flushed, "I almost didn't make it. I was already worn out from Luke. I can't believe it Percy, but he's really gone. He's really…turned."
I wanted to say something like 'duh' but I saw the tears leaking down Annabeth's cheeks and a decided against it.
"It's alright Annabeth," I said softly, trying to sit up, and this time succeeding. I noticed that we were seated in a cave-like place with fluorescent pink hearts decorated the walls. Annabeth had dragged me into the Tunnel of Love and brought me to the water. We were seated right at the riverbank.
"I'm sorry," Annabeth muttered lamely. I inched closer to her and cocked my head to the side.
"Because," she continued, "I kept thinking I could change Luke back to the way he used to be."
"It's alright," I nodded, "You guys were friends. It's hard to let go."
There was a long silence and finally, Annabeth clasped my hand tightly.
"Thank you Percy," she smiled, "You're the best."
"I know," I smirked. Annabeth punched my arm playfully and then kissed me quickly on the cheek. I was glad it was dark. I put my arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. Maybe so good had come out of tonight after all.
A/N: So that's it, the end! What did you guys think? Reviews are loved and constructive criticism is appreciated. Thank you so much!