.of when we say
"These melodies are settling; they're starting to stain.."
- We Are The In Crowd
Percy shot up where he lay, gasping for air, running his hands through his messy jet-black hair. He found that tears were forming in his eyes, and he wiped them away quickly. Shaking violently, he held himself protectively, and breathed raggedly. He looked around his surroundings, and when his vision cleared, his eyes widened in surprise.
Percy found himself in a very thalassic setting: he was sitting on a large oyster-shaped bed; the room was an aqua-blue colour and prints of fish and other sea creatures adorned the walls. It was strange, because it seemed as if sea creatures were floating outside of his window majestically.
It was when he saw a shark nod to him respectfully did he realize he wasn't in some strange, aquatic hotel. He jumped out of bed, but then once he got on his feet, he immediately fell to the ground with a plop.
"Oh my God, oh my God," he whispered in panic, trying to get back up, but once he got on his hands to push up, his limbs shook and he fell back down, forehead hitting the cool, coral floor. Dizzy with fright and chest heaving, he attempted to roll over to face the ceiling. He blinked twice and clutched his head in pain.
"Ugh," he groaned, grabbing his bedside table for support. It shook unsteadily, and a photo frame fell, crashing to the ground. "God damn," he muttered, dragging his legs along as he pushed himself back onto his bed, laying his inert legs on it as he bent down waist-up to grab a hold of the photo that fell, and as he shook out the glass residue, he noticed that he was looking at a photo of himself with Annabeth at his high school graduation two years previously.
"No way," he breathed.
"I see that you're still wondering what on earth is going on," a deep, friendly voice said brightly. Percy turned his head around slowly and saw his father, the lord of the seas, Poseidon, standing before him in human form, the smile crinkles around his eyes emphasized by the large grin on his face. Percy smiled weakly and nodded his head towards his father in regal recognition.
"I'm alive again," Percy whispered hoarsely. "Everything worked, didn't it? My trial and all?"
Poseidon nodded. "Yes, my son, it all did."
"And I'm here, in your palace, talking to you for real, not in some Underworld dream land, right?"
"Right you are," Poseidon nodded once again.
"No way," Percy breathed, feeling his face, his torso, his feet, and his hair. Everything about him was completely solid, not transparent. "Oh my God, it's all real, the back-to-life-crap and stuff like that, oh my God."
Poseidon chuckled. "You're impossible sometimes, Percy."
Percy laughed loudly and cheered. Yes! Yes, yes, yes! I'm alive!
"So when can I go back to the surface and see people?" Percy asked, still grinning from ear-to-ear. "Annabeth will be so happy, and mom, of course mom and Paul—"
"Not yet," Poseidon chided, cutting into his excitement. "You still need to regain your strength. You know what happened when you tried to walk, Percy. Your body is rebuilding itself; your soul trying to repair itself and get used to your body again."
Percy nodded slowly. "Alright."
"Percy, who gave you the idea of coming back to life?" Poseidon asked suddenly. "We need to know."
"Nico," he said simply, shrugging. "A fantastic idea, wasn't it?" he added, exhilarant.
Poseidon gave him a very pointed expression—his best poker face. "Percy…as much as I…as I love you as a son, there are even some things I do not wish for you, even in death."
Percy stared at his father, and the smile immediately wiped from his face. "What?"
"You see, Percy…with rebirth and immortality comes a great price."
"Hades said nothing of payback."
"That is where you are wrong, Perseus," Poseidon said sharply. Percy twitched at the sound of his full first name. "Very, very wrong. My brother isn't the type to just give away presents. He always expects something in return from the receiver."
"But…but Nico said he was still happy about all of you reconciling with each other," Percy frowned, indignant.
"There are some things he wants from us. Retribution. Revenge. The years before Luke's self-sacrifice were not a cakewalk for my brother, and I knew there was a catch to your rebirth, Perseus. Have you heard of the Fifty Pillars?"
The name did not sound familiar at all. Percy racked his brains hard for any reference in Greek Mythology and could not recall any. "No. Should I have?"
"No. You shouldn't have, and now you will. Percy, the Fifty Pillars are 50 tasks that must be done for a god by a certain individual. Usually, individuals who have received some sort of gifts from the gods do these tasks. They range from simplistic deeds such as planting trees or taking care of a godling, to very detailed reconnaissance and murder missions."
Percy stared at his father. "So…you're saying that I'm bound to Hades by these 50 tasks."
"Not that I have heard of, my child, but soon enough we will all find out when you are unceremoniously yanked from one of your daily activities."
"Oh my God," Percy whispered, slightly panicking.
"Percy," Poseidon began sternly, "I want you to promise me, no matter what, to do these tasks to the best of your ability, no matter the deed, no matter the cost of life. I will regret the day you do something rash because of my brother, but in order to stay as you are, if you still want to, you will complete the tasks."
"I thought you said you didn't really want me to go through this in the first place," Percy muttered.
"I don't, Perseus, but it was your choice to come back to life. You were willing to achieve rebirth and immortality at the same time, so therefore, you must complete these tasks in order to keep what you have gained."
"No way," Percy shouted, "What the hell? Nico didn't tell me about—"
Sometimes, the gods who give you the gift of immortality expect something in return.
His bright-green eyes widened and he leaned back against his bed frame, running his hands through his hair. "No, this can't be happening," he whispered, shaking. Poseidon sighed, stood up, and walked out of the room.
As the door clicked shut behind his father, Percy looked around the room wildly and slammed his fist against the wall in frustration. How his emotions could change from jubilation to anxiety, he wondered.
"Fifty tasks," he muttered to himself. "Fifty tasks, I think I can do them," he added, lying back down on his bed. He closed his eyes, and let himself fall back to sleep.
New York City, New York, three weeks later
"God damn it, where's my key?" Annabeth muttered to herself as she fumbled with the groceries in her arms and her purse. She frowned and put down the two large brown paper bags she was carrying, and dug in her bag for the keys. When she found them, she jammed them into the lock and turned it grumpily, kicking her grocery bags in gently.
She threw her bag on top of the shoe rack in the foyer of her—no, her and Percy's—apartment, and continued to kick the grocery bags in lazily, and left them on the floor by the kitchen counter.
Annabeth sighed, and sat down on their couch. The memories from the past few weeks still haunted her.
It had been three weeks. Three slow, antagonizing weeks since Percy's murder, and they heard nothing from the Olympians. It's like they don't even give a shit, she thought angrily, plopping down on her couch. This doesn't even make any sense.
As much as she wanted it to, school didn't even help. When she tried to focus and work on keeping her grades up; fighting her dyslexia, nothing worked. Her classmates, who didn't know a thing, kept on going up to her, giving their condolences. She didn't need them. He wasn't dead. She was sure of it. Instead of focusing on her essays and assignments, she researched extensively on the River Styx, commuting to Camp Half-Blood on weekends to peruse the many bookshelves in the Athena Cabin. Her siblings looked at her strangely, but let her keep to herself.
Even Chiron didn't stop her. She knew that he, too, had that spark of hope—the belief that Percy was still alive somehow. The fact that Grover was easily revived two days after the funeral was proof enough. So instead of burning his body under his funeral shroud like tradition called for, they decided to bury it in a sleek coffin near Peleus and the Golden Fleece.
It was maniac; crazy that they had done so. The whole camp was in attendance, along with Percy's mother and stepfather. Poseidon and Tyson were nowhere in sight. Typical Olympian. But, the fact that Tyson wasn't there struck her as odd.
Annabeth shook off all of her thoughts and assumptions, and turned on the television. She hadn't done so in weeks. The television was still on the channel Percy left it at: Animal Planet. She suddenly remembered that they were watching several 'underwater' specials that night.
"Isn't that cool?" he laughed, his arm around her shoulders protectively as she flipped through a Greek translation of Ancient Greek Architecture for her class the next day. "A bunch of divers haven't seen those fish yet; they'd have to pay a zillion dollars just to go underwater to see them. We're the lucky ones. I can just make a little bubble," he drew a circle in the air with his finger, "and we'll be able to get down there in no time."
"Mmhmm," she nodded, flipping a page tentatively. He looked at her worriedly.
"Are you alright?" he asked, frowning. "You haven't said a word all night."
"Just trying to finish this for class tomorrow."
Percy sighed. "You've already read it from cover-to-cover about fifty times."
"Five," she snapped. She slammed it shut and noticed his worried expression. "I'm sorry, Perce," she mumbled. "Exams in two weeks, that's why."
He laughed. "You'll do fine! You'll be at the top of the class, like always."
"This is different!" she exclaimed, sitting up, moving his arm out of the way. He scooted a little farther from her. "The test'll be in English. The words will be all over the place. I need to memorize this book so I can match it to the English version, but the hard thing will be reading the questions and answering them."
He smiled. She stared at him as he started to laugh. "What?" she frowned.
"You've faced countless monsters, Annabeth, and you're worried about a simple test? Yeah, that's heroic," Percy snorted. Annabeth rolled her eyes and moved in closer to him. He looked at her as they both just sat there.
"I'm sorry," she muttered.
"You need to relax," Percy smiled, patting her shoulder. "Your birthday is tomorrow, right? I have class all day with no breaks, so I'll just take a cab to school and back around four or five, depending on what time my biology class ends. I start at seven in the morning."
"What are you trying to say?"
"I'll take you out to dinner tomorrow. Sucks that I can't have breakfast and lunch with you tomorrow, but I think dinner will be better than anything," he laughed, pulling her closer. She laughed and kissed him on the cheek.
"You're crazy, Seaweed Brain."
"Right back at you, Wise Girl," he smiled. "Put on something nice and I'll be in a suit already tomorrow. The professors and everyone'll look at me weird, but I don't care."
"I've got to go study," she mumbled again. "Quiz tomorrow." She stood up.
He sighed. "Where are you going?"
"Library. I'll be home in an hour or two, okay?"
"Can I come with?" he asked eagerly. She shook her head.
"I can't have any distractions," she winked. Percy mumbled a curse in Ancient Greek, and she laughed. "You better be in bed by the time I get home."
"Who are you, my mother?" Percy pouted, folding his arms. "Ha, fine."
"Is it alright if I sleep in the living room too, when I get home?" Annabeth asked. Percy raised an eyebrow.
"I don't want to bother you with my memorization."
He thought for a minute, and sighed. "Fine."
She kissed him on the lips, and waved goodbye as she picked up her backpack and made her way out the door. The last thing she saw of him was his sad expression.
Annabeth regretted that last night. She cursed her studious side and all she remembered of the day afterwards was someone kissing her cheek and the front door opening and closing quietly.
She turned off the television, and walked back to her groceries and began sorting them out.
"Annabeth," a familiar voice announced behind her. She jumped, nearly dropping her milk carton, and found Chiron speaking to her via Iris Message.
"What's going on?" she asked, putting down the milk carton. Chiron looked both worried and excited at the same time.
"You better get to Camp Half-Blood. Immediately."
She stuffed her groceries into the refrigerator, and was out the door in a flash.
A van was already waiting for her outside the apartment building.
Author's Note: Holy crap, it's been forever since I've posted. I'm really sorry about that. I've been really busy with school and exams just finished, so I thought I would just finish this chapter and keep on going throughout my break time to do so. I hope you enjoyed this. Please leave a review, and much nectar and ambrosia will be given! I'd really appreciate it.
Disclaimer: Again, I am not Rick Riordan, therefore, I don't own the Percy Jackson series. I'm not Mae, so I don't own their song "Giving It Away". Excellent song, though.