A/N: I'm so sorry for the long wait, and thanks to everyone who reviewed last chapter! Mwah, love you all!
There was a moment where Percy froze, wondering on his priorities. Annabeth was pregnant; this very second, their child - his baby - grew inside her. Sure, he was invulnerable, but what if... what if she ran out to help, and -
He shut his eyes and raced forward, furious for the time his hesitation cost him.
he was going to have a child, then he needed his friends around him. Period. He would be fine, and he hoped Annabeth would see that. The shouts from the mob caught him round the neck, dragging sweat from the pits of his pores. His heart thudded wildly, and he pushed forward. The crowd circled something - someone - and Percy couldn't get a look, no matter how hard he tried.
"Hey, you there!"
He flinched, nearly tripping over his sneakers. He'd been found out; someone probably noticed that they didn't recognize him from town.
"You look fit, are you fit?"
"Excuse me?" he panted, crashing to a halt. He jimmied his shoulder through two older man, trying to see past them.
"You're fit, I said. Do you think you could... take a spear to this thing?" The speaker looked up, revealing the lines of age in his face. "We've been trying, but..." he shook his head.
"Uh, sure," Percy said, before he could think. He felt too relieved at the extra moment of time, and anyway, if they let him put a spear to... the crowd moved just far enough, and he had to stifle his gasp. He'd worried it was Grover, thinking that's what 'creature' meant, but he hadn't even thought of -
"Tyson!" he shouted, before he could stop himself. The citizens stopped in their tracks, slowed with almost-comic haste. Percy's chest felt it would split open, it brimmed with such anger at the world. How stupid was he, that he hadn't worried about his brother all this time? How selfish and horrible, and oh gods, he couldn't bear this.
"You know this creature?" a woman spat, her gray eyes quivering with disgust.
Percy took one look at his brother, sobbing and rolled into a fetal position on the street, and swallowed. He had to think fast, Annabeth-fast, if he wanted to save them. Only now, straight in front of his brother, did he realize how much he had missed Tyson; sure, maybe he wasn't the shiniest star in the sky, but he had so much love in him... Percy stopped himself quickly, before he could choke up. "I, uh, I read about it," he muttered, pretending his stalled moments were from a lack of breath. "I know," he panted heavily, putting on a show, "I know how to kill it." Tyson gave a wail, either not recognizing Percy or somehow deluded into thinking that Percy would harm him.
"Really?" a woman shouted, eager. "How?" Percy looked at her young face, short blonde hair. She looked so kind, he could almost imagine her as a mother or Chiron-type of figure. What made her this way, so hateful and cruel? Ready to kill an innocent Cyclops? Percy's heart sank, because at last he understood. Of course he thought Cyclopses were a part of every day life, no big deal, but there was a time where he wouldn't have. Maybe these people, these crazed and bloodthirsty mortals, simply didn't understand. There fear had brainwashed them into thinking that they had to end a whole race, just to save themselves.
"Uh, you have to burn them," Percy said, because it was the first thing that came to mind. "Here, I can take him - I mean, uh, it back to my house, and burn it there."
"Nah, let's build a bonfire!" a man cried, thrusting his fist in there. "Make it ceremonious. Tell those damned gods not to mess with us again!" The crowd lifted its arms, shouting rally cries.
"No," Percy shouted, over them. He tried to keep his cool, ignore the jelly-legged sensation beneath him. "You - you don't want it smelling up the town," he said, at last. "I can take care of it, because, um, we're going on vacation pretty soon. The smell won't bother us." There was a great pause, and Percy held his breath. Finally, a chorus of nods shifted around the group, many of them infused with gratitude.
"Where do you live?" someone asked. "I don't think I've seen you here before."
"Uh... over on Jackson street?" he said, though no one seemed to catch the note of uncertainty. He did not know the real address and probably would not have told them if he had.
"That near here?"
"Pretty near, yeah," Percy said. He wiped a hand over his brow, and tried not to stare too hard at Tyson.
"And this brand of monsters are called 'Tyson', you said? I thought they were Cyclopses."
"No... Cyclopses are different," Percy improvised. "Bigger. You've got nothing to worry about with this one."
"Alright, well, thanks." The man slapped him on the shoulder, giving a wink of his brown eyes. "You need help carrying him?"
"No, that's alright," Percy said quickly, the pressure in his chest beginning to relent. "If you stay around, you might scare it, and then it'll run. You can go."
"Okay," the man said. "Come on, everybody. Let's get out of here. Give - what's your name?"
"Nico," Percy replied, as smoothly as if it had been his own. He hadn't bothered to remember the fake names, and no one knew he lived with Frederick, anyway.
"Give Nico your thanks." Clearly, this man was a leader of some kind. Everyone patted Percy's shoulder as they walked by, mouthing words of thanks. He smiled back to each one, sure he would vomit as much as Annabeth later. The thought of burning his brother in the fireplace, let alone the mob chasing him... it made Percy too sick to stand, and he found himself hugging a tree for support.
One by one the town vanished, returning to their homes like rats into holes. They're no better than rats, Percy thought fervently. His sweat turned cold, piercing his scalp with frozen rivulets.
He collapsed against a tree, short of breath, and gave them a few extra seconds. "Tyson… buddy…" he murmured, hands waving weakly into the air. "I'm here, okay? Just give them another minute."
"Okay," Tyson sniffled. "Is that – is that really you, Percy?" He started to roll over, but Percy shushed him.
"Not yet, okay? Another minute." He dropped to his knees, wondering where the bout of exhaustion had come from. They'd been eating regularly, sleeping regularly. Maybe it was just stress.
He glanced up at the sky, the seductively even blue. Was Zeus still up there? After the wedding, what Hera told them, he didn't know. Could Zeus rule without his lightening bolt? Could he rule amidst the blind hatred of mortals? "Okay," he murmured, crawling forward. "I think we're cleared. Tyson… gods, I missed you," he said, shutting his eyes for a second.
"I missed you too, Percy," Tyson sobbed, his classically slow English a comfort. He turned over, revealing the thick layer of dirt on his face. From this angle, with his one eye rimmed in red, Percy understood how he might have seemed scary to strangers. "I came here to tell you – "
"Whoa, hold up there, buddy," Percy murmured, already settling back into his old rhythm with the Cyclops. "We better get back to the house."
"House?" Tyson said, hopefully.
"Yeah…" Percy muttered, dropping his voice. "We're staying with Annabeth's dad, actually, but my mom's here too. Oh Tyson, why were you in the middle of a town?" His heart sank, imagining the scope of terrible things that could have happened. "You could have been killed," he said sullenly, swallowing as he hard as he could.
"You cannot kill a Cyclops, Percy," Tyson said, his voice comparable to a know-it-all two year old's. "And I needed to talk to you."
"Then why – okay, yeah, never mind," Percy sighed, realizing it was pointless to argue. "Let's get back, Annabeth will be worried." He clapped a hand to Tyson's arm, leading them in the right direction.
"Annabeth is here?" Tyson said, his face bright with glee. "Oh good!"
"What?" Percy asked. "You didn't think she'd be with me?" They ascended the cobblestone path to Frederick's pseudo-home.
"We did not know," Tyson replied. "But I can tell the others that both of you are found!"
"What?" Percy asked, suddenly anxious. "Some people aren't found?"
"I have much to tell you, brother."
A/N: All for now! Please review :).