Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history attests that loss of hope and not loss of lives is what decides the issue of war. — B.H Liddel Heart
"We need a quest."
Rachel put down her paintbrush, staring at me with her bright green eyes. It was obvious that she was really at home in her new cave. There were paintings everywhere, bright purple drapes hung over the stone walls in an attempt to brighten the murky environment, and in one corner, a 52" inch plasma screen TV.
"We need a quest. I know you don't like to leave your cave very often, but I'm sure that you must have found out by now that Nico is missing."
Rachel rolled her eyes. "I love my cave. And I would appreciate it if you knocked before entering."
I sighed. "How long has it been since you've seen sunlight?"
She shrugged. "I'm hibernating."
"That happens in the winter, dumbass."
She gave me a "that's not the point" look. After the war and me and Percy's getting together, Rachel and I had been good friends. The animosity in our banter wasn't deadly anymore, it was more of a friendly thing.
"I've already given you a prophecy. There's no quest needed for it. You'll figure the answer out by yourself."
I nearly exploded. "Nico's stuck on an island! What the hell do you mean there's no quest? How are we supposed to rescue him then!"
Rachel shook her head, her mane of frizzy red hair bouncing. "You don't need a quest to rescue him."
I stared at her incredulously. "So I can rescue him from the comfort of my own home?" I asked sarcastically.
"No. But you don't need a quest to leave camp anymore. And even if you did, I'm sure Chiron would tailor the rules for these special circumstances."
I just stared at her.
She sighed. "Look, a quest is when you get a prophecy telling you where to go, what to do, all that jazz. Well, you already got a prophecy and it said, to be blunt, that you could in fact figure it out from the comfort of your own home. And you did."
"Okay, so I know where Nico is. Now how do we rescue him?"
Rachel sighed impatiently. "Ugh, do I have to paint a picture for you? No pun intended," she added, "You get off your lazy ass, get your magical boyfriend to sail you to Ogygia, and bring Nico back. Capiche?"
"That's it?" I asked dumbly.
"Yes." Rachel said slowly, as if she were talking to an kindergartner. "Now get out." She steered me to the door.
"Wait!" I turned around to face her. "One more thing."
"What?" she snapped.
Needless to say, I got the door slammed in my face.
I took a deep breath, willing myself to walk up to the Poseidon cabin. Unwillingly, I remembered all those times that I had come here, grinning like a maniac, walking inside like it was my own home. How different things had become in such a few short weeks.
And then I remembered the last time I had dared to knock on this door. When I had opened it up to find Percy, my Perseus Jackson, lying on the bed with Calypso, obviously about to do something that Poseidon wouldn't approve of. Or maybe he would. Calypso was the daughter of a water nymph, after all. I was just a stupid daughter of Athena, his arch enemy.
Well, I told myself, trying to stay optimistic. This time, you're going to him to ask help in rescuing Calypso. No awkward scenes for you now.
I used to be able to count on one hand how many times I'd ever been wrong about something in my entire life, and for you uneducated idiots out there, that means not a lot. Ever since meeting Percy Jackson, however, that value had increased drastically.
When I opened the door, the scene awaiting me was less than pleasant.
There were articles of clothing scattered all over the floor. An orange Camp Half-Blood t-shirt; a white skirt; a pair of jeans. And on the bed, were none other than, you guessed it, Percy and Calypso.
Once again, they were just sitting there kissing, cradled in each other's arms. But correct me if I'm mistaken, most make-out sessions don't entail the shedding of clothing. And those dumb noises they were making usually don't happen during normal kisses either.
They were so wound up in themselves, they didn't even notice me standing in the doorway with tears spilling down my cheeks.
For the first time in days, I looked in a mirror.
I was a daughter of Athena. I spent all day slaving over a calculator, figuring out measurements, calculating algorithms. A mirror wasn't really on my list of 5 things to bring to a deserted island.
But sitting here now, I thought, maybe it should be.
The only part of my physical appearance I ever cared about was my hair. It was curly, frizzy and unruly. When I brushed it, it fluffed up in seconds, like an angry pufferfish. I never combed it for this reason, which caused it to be really tangled, and a real pain in the shower.
Right now, my hair looked like a rat's nest, probably because I'd spent the last four hours taking my anger out on training dummies, which isn't really the equivalent of going to a beauty salon, if you know what I mean. My skin was dry and cracked in some places, I realized as the moisturizer I was dabbing onto my face began to sting. The skin on my lips was peeling.
The reason I was thinking like such an Aphrodite girl was the usual reason. Percy. Freaking. Jackson.
The bastard who had turned my life upside down so easily, and hadn't even bothered to try and turn it right again.
I thought about Calypso, her perfect skin, her thick brown hair; her warm chocolate brown eyes; her heart shaped face, so innocent and pitiful. Looks could be deceiving; obviously, Percy hadn't figured that lesson out.
I was going to go take a shower. I was going to untangle my hair, and put some Chapstick on my lips; I wasn't going to give Calypso an outlet to make me a mental slave anymore.
"Whoa, Annabeth! Did you bathe? What's the occasion?"
"Shut up Thalia." I grumbled, pushing past her and flopping myself facedown on my bed.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nico." I grumbled. "How the hell are we supposed to rescue the little brat?"
"You're at the epitome of sisterly-love, Annabeth," Thalia said sarcastically. "Remind me again why you have to rescue him? He's a big boy, he's got two hands and feet. Let him do it himself."
I sighed impatiently, lifting myself into a sitting position and blowing my wet hair out of my face. "Oh yeah? I suppose he's going to swim back, is he? I'm sure it'll be a sight to see. Like an emo fish on steroids."
"Easy, sarcasm. Can't he get some ghost buddies to bring him back? Or, I don't know sail back?"
"Yeah, the undead are going to carry him to shore. And I'm sure Poseidon won't blast a child of Hades out of the water. No risk at all. Really, Thalia, sometimes you're as dumb as Seawee—" I stopped myself.
Thalia eyed me curiously. "Well, now that we've established that I'm dumb, let's focus back on the Nico problem. Say, here's an idea!" She smacked her forehead and grinned like an idiot. "How about," she said in a country accent, "we head over to ol' Seawee's cabin and ask him to take us there?"
I scowled at her. "If you haven't realized, Nico's imprisoned on Calypso's island. Calypso, as in Percy's girlfriend." It still hurt to say it. "How are we supposed to ask him for help?"
Thalia buried her face in her hands. "Gods, Annabeth, you're so dense." She sighed and propped herself onto her elbows. "Let me draw this out for you: You tell Percy the truth about Snow White, you to rush off to rescue Emo Boy, and then you kiss passionately and live happily ever after."
I blushed. "No thank you," I said coolly. "Only when Hades freezes over would I ever want to get back together with Percy Jacks—" But once again, I didn't get to finish his name.
Because right at that moment, the door flung open, and in came none other than Percy Jackson himself.
"Oh golly!" Thalia cried in that dumb accent. "Speak of the devil and he shall arrive. Oh wait," she added, "that's not entirely accurate. I suppose for your case, it's speak of the devil and she shall arrive."
Percy ignored her.
"So, what are you doing here, Kelp Face? Or should I say Seawee?"
"What?" He looked nonplussed for a moment, but decided that it was better not to ask.
"What do you want?" I asked coldly.
He glanced at me for a moment, but then looked away quickly, like I was Medusa or something. "Nico." He said simply. "We need to do something about Nico."
"Yeah, we do. Nice of you to notice," I said, layering my voice with sugar.
He steeled himself to look me in the eyes, but that reluctant look was obvious on his face. "Look," he said. "We need to find Nico, and if you don't have any answers, then I guess I'll have to ask someone else."
That comment instantly revved up my anger. He didn't think I was capable of rescuing Nico? "You want answers, I'll give you answers. Or better yet, why don't you ask your little girlfriend for some answers?"
"What?" I imagined Percy's ears perking up like a dog's, ready for someone to throw him a bone. Of course any mention of Calypso would intrigue him.
"You know what?" Thalia spoke up. She had been so quiet during our argument that I had forgotten that she was even there. We both turned our heads towards her. "I think I've found a better name than Seawee. Peewee." Her voice was cajoling, but I knew her well enough to read that expression on her face, like you're treading on dangerous territory.
Obviously, Percy didn't know her as well. "Seriously?" he asked.
"You're right," she nodded, "Seaweenie sounds much better. It's got a nice ring to it don't you think?"
Percy turned back to me. "What did you say about Calypso?"
I took a deep breath. Watch yourself Annabeth. "She's the one to blame for this whole mess. She blackmailed Aphrodite into giving her love magic, she lured Nico away from camp, and she sent him to Ogygia!"
"Nico's on Ogygia?"
"Yes you idiot!" I exploded. "Nico's on Ogygia, the island home of your stupid girlfriend! He's been there for days, dazed and thinking he was in love with Calypso while she hid out here!" I paused, breathing heavily. "You sure know how to pick 'em."
He stared at me for a second, and I saw a range of emotions pass in his sea-green eyes. Shock, bewilderment, anger, accusations. And then, he did something that I would never have expected.
He hung his head.
"I should've known." He whispered.
I was stunned, but I didn't let me voice betray me. "How could you? You were too busy making out with your girlfriend."
He looked up, and I couldn't quite read the expression in his eyes. "She's not my girlfriend anymore," he said. "I broke up with her."
Nobody said anything for a moment. And then—
"Aw snap!" Thalia shouted, waving her hand up and down. "This is better than cable!"
"You broke up with her?" I whispered. Then what was...? "When?"
Percy was suddenly very interested in his sneakers. "Last week."
Anger helped me get over my shock real quick. Did he think I was in idiot? "I bet." I said icily.
He looked up. "Really, I did."
"Sure didn't look like it." I muttered.
His eyebrows came together, but he shook his head. "We need to get Nico back." Percy said seriously. "I'll talk to Chiron and Grover. We're leaving tomorrow."
I just nodded, too angry to speak.
I apologize for the lateness. Don't forget to leave a review. I'm not going to change the ending I've got in mind, but I'm curious to know what you guys want to happen. So review. 600th reviewer gets a shout-out, and I actually mean it this time.
And oh yeah. Next chapter's last.