A/N: So since you're kind of being dropped in on the middle of things, just realize that everything will be explained as the story continues.
"Percy?" Annabeth sat up, brushing her hand over her eyes. From what she could tell, she was stuck in midair with her fiancé and his horse. Not the best predicament, after all they'd gone through the night before.
"Oh good, you're up. Blackjack's taking us somewhere safe."
"I figured as much," she replied, giving Percy a swift kiss. "Where, though?"
He glanced all around them, and then said, "I'm not sure exactly. Thalia signaled."
"Thalia?" Annabeth felt nerves seize her slightly; Thalia was supposed to be in hiding. "It must be bad then."
Percy tried to look reassuring. "Don't worry yet, we don't know everything." However, the news of the huntresses disbanding in hopes of safety had reached their ears, and Annabeth felt it was plenty cause for worry.
"And remember, she still has Artemis's protection," Percy said. "And she'd tough. I'm sure she's fine."
Annabeth nodded. "You're right." She sighed. They probably should have been more concerned about their other friends, whose fates were unknown, but worrying had become a bit of a hazard in it of itself. It was time consuming and distracting, and greatly impaired one's judgment. And seeing as it had also become rather chronic due to the circumstances, Percy had trained himself to coax he and Annabeth away from it, whenever possible.
"How long?" Annabeth asked. They'd started keeping count, so that they never forgot.
"Three months," Percy replied. "To the day, in fact."
"I know," Percy breathed, in response. Only three months ago the mortals were an ignorant, harmless race. Then something had happened. No one knew what, or what had triggered it, but the knowledge of Olympians had spread in ripple effect. Rumors soon became headlines, and the half bloods had waited around nervously for people to come up with conclusions.
Everyone had expected that the conclusion would negate the suspicions; it had not occurred to anyone that the mortals might exceed expectations. And they did, with flying colors that left the demigods reeling for days after. News reports, picketing; they thought the Gods and their kin were a danger.
The Gods had done all that they could, but it hadn't made much of a difference. They couldn't directly interfere with free will, and that seemed to be all that was egging the mortals on. They learned a miraculous amount about the Gods, and had proceeded to try and destruct every little piece they could.
Olympus was in distress. Or nonexistent, to be more specific. Once they citizens had believed, it had been easier for them to find the secret elevator and destroy the Gods' chambers. Not even the Gods could fight against an entire city. And it soon became more than just New York; the mortals rallied, recruiting one and all who felt that demigods were a hindrance and danger to society. The story of the recent Titan War hadn't helped much.
Their target was unclear, though. After decimating Olympus and thus scattering the Gods, they seemed to leave them alone. They wanted half bloods, and so it was half bloods that they targeted.
Annabeth said that it was driven by jealousy. The Gods, they were on another level, whereas the demigods were easy targets. The mortals wanted what they had, but since they couldn't get it, they did what they thought was the next best thing - they tried to wipe the demigods out.
"Over here, boss?" Blackjack said.
"Looks good," Percy replied. He gripped Annabeth's hand tightly, ready for the two of them to jump off together. "Thanks a lot, Blackjack."
"Anytime. Listen, I know I'm supposed to hide and everything, but if you ever need me, I'll be around."
Percy patted his fur. "Thanks, Blackjack."
"Where is she?" Annabeth asked, after Thalia failed to appear for a few minutes.
"I don't know," Percy admitted. He hated that he couldn't be more comforting to her; there was hardly good news anymore, though. All of their relations, including both their mortal parents, were missing. No one was trustworthy, nowhere was safe. It was as bad as Hades ever could have been.
"Annabeth!" Thalia shouted, sprinting towards them at high speed. "Percy!" Her hair was jaggedly cut and her feet bare, but she looked delighted to see them. "Oh, thank the Gods! For a second I thought something happened to you guys!"
"Thalia!" Annabeth felt herself sag with relief; at least they knew that someone was okay. The three hugged all at once, soaking up as much strength from one another as they could.
When they broke apart, Thalia looked tearful. "Chiron's dead."
"What?" Percy asked, his alarm more of a priority than his grief.
"I found him, they got to him. You guys, we can't stay here long."
Annabeth felt as if her chest was frozen; too much was happening all at once. "What about everyone else?" she asked. She was grateful when she felt Percy move behind her, so she could lean on him. If they didn't have each other, she didn't know what she'd do.
"I don't know," Thalia replied, her voice breaking. "I haven't from Grover or Tyson in months."
"What about Rachel? And Nico?" Percy asked. He locked an arm gently around Annabeth, pulling her close to him. They were safest when their proximity was nearest.
"I don't know about Rachel," Thalia replied. "If she found some of her old friends, she might be okay."
Old friends, Percy thought. From what, elementary school?
"And I have a theory about Nico. He might be hiding in Hades."
Percy thought it over. It was plausible for a lot of people, technically. Even Hades should be hospitable in times like these.
"Yeah," Percy said finally, "Maybe. What about the Gods?"
Thalia sank into a sitting position, her expression one of defeat. "I haven't heard a thing. Not from Artemis, not from… my dad. Not from any of them."
Annabeth swallowed hard. The Gods were weakest when separated from each other; their power wouldn't be the same now. "Do you know anything about the mortal parents of demigods?"
Thalia shook her head, giving Annabeth's hand a squeeze. "I'm sorry. Everything's kind of in chaos right now, and no one's sure. They don't seem to have any goals really, besides killing us, so they should be fun."
Annabeth exhaled a little bit. Their parents would be alright, then. It was a relief, although not much of one after all that had happened.
"So where have you guys been?" Thalia said, trying desperately for a smile. "I've only heard talk."
"We've been around," Percy replied. "We've fought where we could, and mostly tried to escape capture. Last night," he shook his head, sadly. "Last night a couple of us got captured in the streets. We were there, and they almost got us too."
Thalia looked upset. "I was afraid you'd say something like that."
"What? Why?" Percy asked. He understood what she meant in the general sense, but had a feeling she was honing in on something more specific. He glanced at Annabeth nervously, concerned about her. She'd become so quiet, it was unlike her.
"Percy, I found Clarisse the other day, and she said that she thinks you two are being targeted."
"Us?" Annabeth asked. She sounded tired, rather than surprised, and Percy kissed her forehead. He'd ask Thalia about her strange behavior, later.
Thalia nodded. "Yeah. Because of the war, there's a lot more written information on you guys that they've found. And Percy, you've blown up quite a few schools." She smiled wryly. "It makes sense, really. Percy, you're a big three child."
"So are you."
"Yeah, but I lay pretty low. You guys, not so much."
"Well, we will from now on," Percy promised. "We'll try harder."
Thalia shook her head. "It's not just that. Every time you go out in public, you put yourself in danger."
"What do you want us to do, then?" Percy asked.
Thalia pursed her lips. "I – I had an idea. But you're not going to like it."
"Try me," Percy deadpanned.
Annabeth echoed this, albeit with a bit less vehemence.
Thalia shrugged. "Just a suggestion. I knew you wouldn't like it, though."
"Wait, wait a sec," Percy said. "Tell us more, maybe…"
He avoided Annabeth's furious gaze. She didn't want to, he knew, but their safety came first.
"Come up with new names," Thalia said. "I can get a house for you guys, and you can start lives together. It would be the way it always was, only you wouldn't be Percy and Annabeth."
"We're engaged." Annabeth spoke so softly, that Percy had to repeat it for her in order for Thalia to hear.
"Congrats," she said, softly. There was a pregnant pause, and then she said, "You could get married, you know."
Annabeth stared straight ahead, not looking at either friend. She wanted that, but not when they couldn't be themselves.
"Listen guys," Thalia said, in a low voice. "Please do this. I can't keep trying to stop this if I don't know you guys are safe."
Percy tenderly turned Annabeth's chin with his thumb. Her eyes pleaded with his not to agree, but he hoped he communicated the fact that he needed to. He didn't think he could wake up every day, knowing that they might not see the night.
"We will," he said, at last. He continued to hold onto Annabeth, knowing that he had broken what was left of her spirit.
Thalia looked so immensely relieved that he felt better, about it. At least he'd made her happy. She leaned over then, embracing them both with all her strength. "Stay here, alright? I'll be back in a few days with the keys to your new home."
Percy felt tears pushing at his eyelids. For Chiron, he supposed. Or maybe for all of their dark fates. "Thanks, Thalia. We'll be waiting."
Annabeth merely hugged her again, unable to speak. Too much had happened, too much of what she knew was being destroyed. She knew that Percy and Thalia understood though, and for this she was glad.
"Bye guys," Thalia said. She gave one last wave, before walking away and leaving them in silence.
"I'm sorry," Percy said at once, giving Annabeth a hug. "I know – I know –"
"Stop," she whispered, placing a finger to his lips. "Don't be, I understand."
"Of course." She shrugged. "Desperate times…"
Percy nodded, fear nibbling away at his chest. The old Annabeth would not have understood.
Her acceptance, it marked the day with grim audacity for him. The day Chiron ceased to live, the day Annabeth became agreeable, the day they took on whole new lives. And only three months gone.