Holy Poseidon. I'm an awful updater, am I not? (Don't feel the need to deny it. I know it's true. :P)
Let's talk Son of Neptune for a moment - IT WAS AMAZING. I wasn't very keen on Lost Hero but I really, really enjoyed this one . . . except for that god-damned ending! WHY YOU TROLL US, RICK? WHY? Anyway, on a lighter note, it provided me with inspiration - so here's this chapter, and, if you go to my profile, the first chapter of my very own Mark of Athena :) Unlike other Mark of Athena's (none of which I have read, but I know that they will be out there) I will actually update it. But you know me. I can't guarantee fast updates . . . it's just not in my character ;) I do have it all planned out though, so . . . we'll see how that goes (:
I took inspiration from the line at the end of Battle of the Labyrinth (which is when this is set) "It took a little work to convince Paul that Poseidon had left via the fire escape . . . " I elaborated, of course. That scene with Percy and Poseidon at the end of BOL is one of my favourites - you know I love all that father and son stuff. Perhaps that's my daddy issues coming out on me :P
I hope you enjoy this chapter. Let me know what you think and I promise to try and update soon! xoxo
'So he's . . . Percy's father?'
Sally nodded and tried her best not to smile. She felt surprisingly at ease with the entire situation, although it couldn't be considered a normal one – her Greek God lover of years long gone dropping in at her and her boyfriend's home to talk to his demi-god son. Sure, it was bizarre, but in what had become of their life lately, this was normality.
'And his name is . . . Poseidon?'
'He's quite a mythology enthusiast,' she said.
The urge to laugh was almost overwhelming now. Paul's expression was one of complete confusion; he evidently thought that this was all just one big joke. Sally's lips twitched – she couldn't wait until the time came for him to actually find out the truth . . .
Tyson turned to Paul with a face of pure jubilation.
'Daddy's here for Percy's birthday!' he said brightly, wringing his enormous hands together. 'I think Percy is happy. It is a nice surprise for him to come so far –'
'Yes, well, Percy doesn't see his father very often,' Sally said quickly, determined to veer Paul from the topic. She felt like it should be Percy's decision when Paul should find out about Percy's heritage, and with the way Tyson was going, the secret would be spilled within the next thirty seconds. 'Tyson, why don't you help me –'
'Daddy is very proud of Percy,' he ploughed on, big brown eye batting innocently. Sally wanted to slap a hand to her forehead, but the calmer she stayed the less chance there was of Paul finding out the truth –
'Percy has done very much. Percy was almost dead, but he didn't die, and I think Daddy is very happy that Percy did not die. I like it when Percy isn't dead. He's better when he's not dead.'
Paul tried to say something but nothing came out. Tyson seemed to have realised he was saying something wrong – clapping a hand over his mouth, he turned to Sally.
'I am sorry!'
'Tyson, it's fine,' said Sally gently, putting a hand on his shoulder while glancing fearfully at the door. She wanted to know what he was saying, how Percy was reacting, everything and anything because she had no idea about the state of their relationship in the slightest. She had been too nervous to ask. What if it was worse than what she had in mind? What if it was better?
'He . . . his name is Poseidon?'
Sally nodded and said nothing, instead taking a great deal of interest on the still burning candles.
'And he's . . . he's, ah – meaning to say, he's perfectly sane?'
Paul's face was flushed red as if simply asking the question would set either Sally or Tyson off. Perhaps he thought that even Poseidon would hear him and storm back into the living room to beat him up. Sally was too busy trying not to laugh again to give it much thought.
'And you're . . . sure that he's –'
Tyson was looking at Paul as if he had just suggested that Poseidon was God of Bags, or something.
'Daddy . . .' he said, his voice seemingly close to breaking. 'He is –'
Paul rushed to correct his mistake and Sally had to laugh this time. Resting a hand on Tyson's shoulder once again, she said, 'Tyson, he doesn't understand, OK? Now how about you help me -'
'Understand what exactly?' said Paul, looking less and less confused and more and more irritated. 'Sally, what is going on? Surely Percy's father is – I mean, he isn't – what's going on?'
'Nothing,' said Sally innocently, eyes focused on the slowly dwindling candle. 'Absolutely nothing. He's Percy's father, that's all –' Tyson made a noise of protest. '- and Tyson's father. He's simply . . . very keen on his mythology.'
'Very keen on his mythology,' murmured Paul. He seemed extremely confused. 'He's . . . very keen on his mythology. OK.'
Tyson seemed to have finally caught on and started laughing in a manner extremely similar to a giggle. Sally smiled; even if Tyson was her son, she really didn't think she would care. He had to be the most lovely mythological creature to have ever roamed the earth. Percy couldn't have been sent a better brother.
'And Tyson is . . . Tyson is . . . Poseidon's son?'
'Yes,' said Sally, leaning back against the table to enjoy watching Paul struggling to grasp the entire thing. 'Poseidon's son, Percy's brother. Not my son, Paul, so you can calm down.'
Paul still didn't seem overly convinced. He kept throwing the kitchen door bewildered looks, as if expecting Poseidon to burst from it and admit his mental instability. Sally was no longer smiling, however. In fact, she felt slightly guilty for smiling before. Should she be so happy that he was here? Her mind flashed to all those other times Poseidon had visited, times she had failed to let Paul know about. Paul deserved to know the truth sometime soon – about Percy, about Camp Half-Blood, about everything, but she couldn't bring herself to do it . . . and was it because she wanted to preserve whatever it was of a relationship she and Poseidon had left?
'Annabeth doesn't like Daddy,' said Tyson. His previous realisation seemed to have slipped his brain already. 'I don't know why, though. Daddy is nice. He sent me Percy, and Percy says he sent me to him.'
Paul's face wrinkled with confusion.
'But I am just saying that Daddy is good! Annabeth doesn't understand, but I like Annabeth because Annabeth is nice to me.'
'Yes, Tyson, I –'
'-and Percy says that Annabeth's Mom just doesn't like us very much, and Daddy doesn't like her –'
'Tyson, just –'
'Oh, let me guess,' said Paul warily, collapsing down into a chair. He looked up at Sally and said, 'Annabeth's mother is . . . Aphrodite, or something?'
Tyson looked at Paul like he had lost his mind; Sally clapped a hand to her forehead and passed Tyson a cupcake, hoping it would serve as a distraction from declaring Annabeth's true heritage: Sally really didn't think Paul would believe that both Annabeth's mother and Percy's father just so happened to be named after Greek Gods . . .
'Sally, what –'
'Percy? The candles are melting!' Sally called, turning her back on Paul to face the kitchen door and hide her burning cheeks. She couldn't help herself – despite everything, despite Paul, despite Percy and Tyson – wanting Poseidon to stride out of that kitchen with his son, their son, but she knew it just wouldn't happen.
And so she was proved right when Percy entered the living room unaccompanied, clutching something in his hand but otherwise perfectly alone.
'Everything OK?' said Sally, finding herself still unable to turn back to Paul, her gaze drawn to whatever it was in Percy's fist.
'Yeah . . .' Percy clenched the item tighter. Sally looked away. He had obviously noticed her looking, but she wouldn't push him tonight. He could keep it to himself – whatever it was. It would be between the pair of them – he and his father.
'Where's Poseidon?' asked Paul, in a voice that was obviously supposed to be casual.
'He, er . . . climbed down the fire escape.'
Sally didn't have to look at Paul to know that he would be disbelieving of this new revelation, too.
'The – the fire escape? Is that safe? And at this time of night?'
'Yeah, well . . .' said Percy, rubbing the back of his neck and moving to stand beside Tyson. 'Dad's, er, a bit . . . weird like that. He does crazy stuff like . . . climbing down, um, fire escapes at night.'
Tyson seemed to find Percy's explanation extremely amusing. Paul was about as convinced as he would be at being told Sally was secretly Wonder Woman, and he was asking as many questions as he would have done then.
'Can you get to the fire escape from the kitchen?'
'Of course! Percy, come on, let's blow out your candles –'
'Wait, why has Tyson already got a cupcake? I wanted a cupcake before and you said I had to wait!'
'Because,' said Sally, eyes narrowing pointedly and her back to Paul once more, 'Tyson was being rather talkative.'
Percy opened and closed his mouth, remarkably similar to a fish. He'd obviously got the idea. Tyson grinned at his brother through a mouthful of cake and Percy was rendered unable not to smile at the sight of him.
They sang a hasty chorus of 'Happy Birthday' but Tyson accidentally blew out the candles halfway through. Percy didn't seem to mind, laughing as Tyson took a bite out of a candle in his rush to eat his piece of cake. Sally watched on, smiling, and turned to Paul once Percy and Tyson lapsed into conversation.
'Cake?' she said, not waiting for an answer before she passed it over. Paul accepted it warily, still peering at the kitchen door as if expecting Poseidon to burst out in all of his raving lunatic glory.
'So . . . Poseidon . . . climbed down the –'
'Oh, yes, the fire escape,' said Sally, laughing nervously. 'He's always doing it. He's an adrenaline junkie, you see. Climbing down fire-escapes . . . it's just his thing, Paul. Just ask Percy.' Percy looked up at the mention of his name. 'I was just telling Paul about how your Dad's a bit . . . strange.' She could see the corners of Percy's mouth twitching and Sally had to keep telling herself that laughing would give the game away entirely.
'Yeah,' he said, and Sally's smile grew at the chocolate that had found its way onto his cheek. 'Yeah, Dad's . . . crazy. Crazy as a fish.'
Sally threw him a warning look and turned back to her boyfriend. He hadn't touched his cake.
Gods above, was he going to hang onto this all night?
'Is he OK? Climbing down the fire-escape . . . it's a bit dangerous, after all. He could have fallen.'
Tyson began to say something and Percy hastily forced another piece of cake upon him.
'Oh, I assure you, he's very careful,' said Sally. 'Paul, eat your cake –'
'A fire-escape above New York's hardly the world's safest –'
'Paul, I promise you –'
'. . . It's just, the fire-escape? Sally, it's a bit –'
'Oh, Paul, just eat –'
'Paul!' exclaimed Percy. 'You're gonna drop your cake, my Dad's gone down the fire-escape – he couldn't just evaporate, could he? - everything is just fine! Mom, don't we have some ice cream?'
'Yes,' sighed Sally, taking Paul's unfinished cake from him and putting it back down onto her plate. He was still watching the kitchen door with keen interest and so it was with a roll of her eyes and a lot of bravado that Sally swung it open to reveal an empty room.
'Paul, he's not in here! Either Percy imagined him going down the fire-escape and he evaporated, or . . .' She smiled and entered the room, leaving a still bewildered Paul with her son and his Cyclops brother. The door swung shut behind her, and suddenly she was overwhelmed with the strongest of smells – one that most people probably wouldn't have noticed so notably, but Sally did and always would for the rest of her life . . . A scent like ocean spray, salty and warm . . .
Sally stayed in there for five minutes and it was only when Percy called to ask what flavour ice cream was left that she was brought back to her senses. She knew what she had been thinking and she cursed herself for thinking it. She had a boyfriend, one who she hoped and predicted might one day marry her.
It didn't change anything. For years after her eventual marriage – in fact, until her last days in that world – Sally found herself searching for, hoping for that smell. One that only came to her on rare days like this.
They were the best days.
Love you, love you, love you all! Please check out my Mark of Athena story . . . and, until next time, stay safe and happy my fellow demi-gods! xoxo