.of when we say
"The night is getting darker, still."
-Whitney Wiatt & Stephen Jerzak
The man looked down the alleyway. It was broad daylight, the sun beating down on the pavement outside of his sanctuary. As like all other stereotypical homeless men, he was covered in the stink of the alley dumpsters, and his old suit was grimy and worn with age. In his pocket was a gun. A simple pistol with one bullet placed in place.
He wanted to play a game. A simple game, in fact, a game that would end quickly-a dangerous game that would end with two different outcomes, depending on if the bullet were shot: death or life. Russian Roulette. But he would not be playing it himself. No, he would not.
He had been homeless for some time-his wife had left him months ago due to extreme debt, and his boss (he was a traveling salesman, you see) laid him off after several drunken ventures.
So, basically, he needed cash.
Cold, hard cash. And how was he to obtain this "cold, hard cash"?
Russian Roulette, of course. But he would not be playing it himself.
He gazed down the column of darkness, his dark, dilated eyes squinting towards the light. He was looking for a friend to play with. A friend to play Russian Roulette with him.
A woman passed by, a little child in tow. She was a pretty brunette with a good figure and was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. No. He didn't want to kill a child's innocence in the process. It was too risky.
Five minutes later, an elderly man waited to cross the crosswalk, this time, not a child, but a simple, wooden cane was in tow. No, the suited alley-man muttered. He should live his life out. And he could sense the man did not have much.
Finally, after waiting a while, a young man, about eighteen or twenty, with dark, messy jet-black hair walked in front of the alley entrance and stopped to check his watch. He didn't seem like he was going to cross the street. The bonus was that the boy was wearing a black suit, complete with a tie and a dark laptop bag. Jackpot.
The alley-man made his way down to the end, without the young man noticing. He slowly pulled out his gun, flipped the switch to let the game begin. As he switched it, he hid himself behind one of the trash cans, and aimed it at the smiling young man. He should not experience my world, no, no, no, he shouldn't. He must be put out before his misery comes. Yes, yes, yes. These deranged thoughts racked his brain more so than ever.
He targeted the young man's back, and pulled the trigger.
The bullet released, and hit its target, point-blank.
And he watched the boy fall, fall, fall to the ground. Dead? He couldn't tell, but he slowly crept over to the dying boy, placing his pistol quickly in his suit pocket. A pool of blood was collecting under the boy, who struggled to get up. The alley-man quickly turned the boy, who began to groan in pain, over on his front, and stole as much money as he could from his pocket. Once he retrieved the last cent, he looked at the boy's face.
He was pale, young, and very handsome.
The alley-man continued to search the boy's pockets, and found a wallet. He usually did not check out the information of the people he robbed, but the boy's youth intrigued him. As he began to open the wallet, the boy grabbed his wrist tightly, and suddenly, he found himself looking straight into the boy's eyes. The wallet fell out of his hands.
"W…why?" the boy whispered hoarsely. The alley-man panicked, dropped the wallet, and ran down the long, dark alley that was his only sanctuary.
Those bright, sea-green eyes would haunt him forever.
Twenty year-old Percy Jackson was dying.
"Fading" was the easy way to put it. The son of a bitch had shot him in his Achilles' Spot, the small of his back. And now he was fading away slowly; his suit was damp with blood. Any minute now, a monster or two would probably appear out of nowhere and eat him. Ah, what a happy ending, he thought sarcastically, though his thoughts were beginning to muddle together.
Percy knew nothing would save him. Nico had warned him about bathing in the River Styx. Once bathed, if he were hit in his vulnerable spot-his Achilles' 'Heel'-he would die, for sure. How could he have let himself be caught off-guard? How could he let that son of a bitch shoot him like that?
He coughed, a little blood dripping down his lip. He began to inch his hand towards his wallet (which was lying on the pavement; the bastard tried to take that along with his loose change), and flipped it open quickly to one picture. A picture he would see for the last time.
Him and Annabeth.
He smiled, and fell into the darkness, feeling the Fates cut his string ever so slowly.
It was too bad no one was on the street to save him.
Annabeth Chase was getting anxious. It had been two hours, and Percy, her 'boyfriend' (they swore not to call each other such repetitive, boring names) was supposed to arrive at her apartment via cab to take her out to dinner for her birthday. And, her ADHD wasn't helping one bit.
Where the hell is he? she thought miserably, running a hand through her blonde curls. It wasn't like him to be this late…unless…
A monster attack?
No, she would hear destruction going on from a mile away. No, there was no monster.
She sighed and stood up, pulling her blue pumps (given to her by Aphrodite as a birthday present earlier that day) off and throwing them to the side. She walked towards her couch and lay there, blue dress and all. It really wasn't like him to be extremely late for a…well, 'date'. Sighing, she pulled out a book on Greek Architecture, her favorite (of course, written in Ancient Greek to dispel her dyslexia), and flipped through it impatiently. No. Damn it, no.
Annabeth threw the book aside and stood up, kicked the pumps aside, put on a pair of sneakers and a pea coat. She grabbed her purse and walked straight out of her apartment, not forgetting to lock it.
Where would he be? she thought worriedly as she waited for a cab to pass by.
Just then, a little shade of rainbow appeared over her head. An Iris-Message.
She took it immediately. It was Chiron.
"Annabeth-" he began.
"Where's Percy? Have you heard anything from him?"
Chiron gave her a grave look. "I thought you would know. Grover's not getting up. He's not responding to anything we do or say, Annabeth-"
Grover and Percy. Both unresponsive.
Oh, holy shit.
Annabeth quickly left the Iris-Message and dashed straight for the apartment garage. On any given day, she would never do this, but at a moment like this, it was crucial. She looked at the assortment of cars among her, and picked the most conspicuous car of the lot-a bright, cherry-red convertible. She groaned (it was too pretty to take, but she needed a fast-looking car), and quickly began to hotwire it.
She jumped in once it started. She thanked as many of the Olympians as she could, and drove off into the streets.
As she drove down, Annabeth heard her cell-phone ring in her purse on the shotgun seat. Muttering Greek curses, she pulled out her phone and answered it. "Hello?" she said, her voice strained. An unfamiliar male voice immediately began to speak.
"Is this Miss Annabeth Chase?"
"Yes, yes, who the hell is this?" she growled as she turned a corner quickly. "I'm a bit busy, right now, and I don't need someone to-"
"You're looking for your boyfriend, aren't you, Miss Chase?" the voice said quickly. "This is the NYPD."
Annabeth found herself driving towards the street Percy usually waited for taxis after studying at the community college. Instead of finding a normally empty street, she arrived to a mass of reporters, an ambulance full of EMTs, and several police cars. She pushed through the throng of curious people and found herself barricaded from the scene by a line of yellow police tape. Cursing in Ancient Greek, she quietly pulled out her special bronze dagger and cut the tape, quickly stowing it away once her deed was done. Annabeth crossed over the rope and was immediately halted by a policewoman.
"Excuse, me, ma'am, I'm afraid you can't cross over here-"
"Annabeth!" called a very familiar, breathless and frightened voice. Annabeth found herself looking up at her old friend, the eighteen year-old Nico di Angelo, a son of Hades. "Annabeth…" he panted, grabbing her arm.
He was still the same as ever, with long, chin-length hair and dark, Mediterranean skin. And he still stunk of death. But, instead of wearing the regular black tee and torn jeans he always wore, he was suited up in an EMT uniform. Incognito? Maybe, because the police woman looked between them confusedly, and finally realizing they knew each other, she wandered off elsewhere.
"Where's Percy?" Annabeth whispered to him, trying to keep her composure. Nico looked at her sullenly.
"There," he mumbled, his voice cracking. He pointed towards the ambulance. Annabeth took a shuddering breath and ran for the ambulance, Nico following her. EMTs were tending to a covered body and were about to lift it into the truck.
"Wait!" she screamed, and they almost dropped the gurney in shock. Nico motioned for them to leave, and they hurriedly left the gurney to him and Annabeth.
"Annabeth, I tried, I tried so hard to get him back, but most of the Underworld shut down today for his trial, and-"
Annabeth slowly opened the body bag.
"I'm so sorry, Annabeth," Nico whispered as he saw the tears spill down her face. "I tried. I really did."
She shook her head and stared at Percy's face. With a shaky hand, she placed her hand on his cheek. It was cold. She would never see those lovely, unique, sea-green eyes ever again.
She placed a small kiss on his forehead, and zipped up the bag. She kept one hand on where his chest would be over the bag, and one running through her hair.
And that was when she broke.
Author's Note: Well, that was hard to write. Basically, this was my first PJO fanfic, but not my first fanfic overall, so I tried to keep them in-character as much as possible. Sorry for the shortness (it is a prologue, after all); I promise chapter one will be much longer! So, if you will, please review and leave praises, flames, constructive criticism, cookies, and whatnot by pressing the button with the speech bubble below! I hope you liked it.
Disclaimer: I am not Rick Riordan, therefore I don't own the Percy Jackson universe, and the quote at the beginning of the chapter is from the song "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Whitney Wiatt, featuring Stephen Jerzak.