AN:/ This is so completely and utterly overdue that I should feel guilty, but alas, I do not. Why? Because numero uno, the first draft of this chapter was giving me writer's block out of the wazzoo. And numero dos, I just stopped writing for a little bit to focus on the ending summertime and then school. I'm superubersorry though. I actually scrapped the old draft of this chapter and rewrote the entire thing, and voila! this! I hope you enjoy t. :)
Disclaimer: I hate writing these things but: I don't own PJO. And probably never will. (Clever, right?)
"Wake up, sleepy head."
Percy groaned as the tent flap opened and rolled on his side, his arm raised to his face. Reyna stood above him, hands on her hips. "Seriously, get up."
He ignored her and buried deep into the sleeping bag, blocking out any light that seeped through the opening. Above him, Reyna sighed and grabbed the end of the bag. "I warned you."
She lifted the bag up and it jerked from underneath Percy. He crashed into a heap on the hard dirt. "Ow." He rubbed his face with a dirty palm and shot a glare at Reyna. She crossed her arms and looked smugly at him, her blues eyes brilliant. "What was that for?"
Reyna rolled her eyes. "Simple: you wouldn't wake up."
"Yeah, well, you didn't have to dump me on the ground!" He brushed the dirt of his clothes.
She quirked a brow. "Oh, really? What would I have had to do, dump a bucket of water on you?" Strangely enough, the idea sounded appealing to Percy.
"Too bad. The nearest river is a decent couple of miles away from camp. This girl isn't about to waste her time getting a pail of water when she could do this" – she gestured to the sleeping bag– "Nuh-uh."
Percy glowered, having nothing else to say, and let the tent slip into silence. Reyna stared off into space. She tapped her fingers against her arm and chewed the inside of her cheek before she threw her hands in the air. "I don't have time for this!" Then, looking at her wrist as if it held a watch, she said, "Diana will be waiting. We've wasted enough time as it is."
"Why would she be waiting?"
She glanced at him, and then back at the tent flap. "Camp packed up hours ago. I'd be out of here if it weren't for you."
Two brows shot into his hairline, incredulous. "Yes, because it's my fault that I'm an amnesiac who just happened to stumble upon a Hunter's camp where boys are frowned upon and sometimes even turned into animals and killed who's a heavy sleeper!"
"Gods, calm down. It was just a joke. Take a chill pill." Reyna gave him a look that said thisboyiscrazy and started a brisk walk. Percy trailed behind her. "Anyway, once we group up, we're dropping you off at the Legion. Can't have half-crazed, amnesiac-demigods running around a national forest, now can we?" She led him out into what was once the hub of the camp, now reduced to a grassy, muddy clearing. It was as if they were never there.
"Wait – national forest? Where are we?" Something dawned on him. "The 'Legion'? You mean the camp?"
"Figures you'd ask the less important question first," Reyna muttered. "We are in the Redwood National Forest, located in sunny California. And yes, I meant the camp."
"So, this campo you go there?"
Her head snapped toward him and then to the sky, looking somewhere far beyond the canopy of Redwoods. "I did go there. 'Did' as in 'used to'."
His curiosity was piqued, and he asked her, "Why not anymore?"
Reyna shrugged, her face still turned away from him. "Bad memories, bad people. The whole she-bang. I've got the Hunters now – we can all find a common issue between us. Somewhere, something went wrong." She looked at him and spread her hands, as if to say, and here we are.
Percy stumbled over a branch. "Huh."
"'Huh'?" Reyna repeated incredulously. "I tell you a vital piece of information about me and all you have to say is 'Huh'? Boys."
"Well, what did you expect? For me give you a hug?"
She cringed. "Ugh, no. I'm a Hunter of Diana, idiot. I'm not even supposed to associate with boys."
Ignorant as ever, Percy asked, "Then why are you 'associating' with me?"
Reyna slapped a hand to her face and rubbed her nose. "You really, truly are an idiot, you know that?"
"You might've mentioned it before."
Reyna's golden ponytail bobbed as she shook her head, reminding Percy strikingly of someone else. He furrowed his brows and studied her. Reyna caught him staring and crossed her arms. "What are you looking at?"
"I..." he said, swallowing a lump in his throat. "I think I might have just remembered something."
"Really?" Her eyes widened. "What?"
Gold ponytail, gold ponytail, gold ponytail. Percy's train of thought abruptly crashed into an impenetrable wall and he cradled his head in his arms, moaning in pain. "Eugh, I don't know. There's some sort of a wall blocking everything."
Reyna barked a laugh. It was quick and mocking and somehow melodic. "Figures. You really are hopeless, aren't you?"
"I am not hopeless," Percy said, still clutching the sides of his head. "And now I've got a killer headache – no thanks to you. Couldn't your hair be a different colour?"
"Sorry, hun, but Goldilocks is here to stay. Suck it up. Come on," she started to pick up her pace, settling into an easy jog.
The pair ran, with Reyna always in the lead, in silence past trees upon trees upon trees, over logs and under low-hanging branches. A few times Percy tripped or slipped in a slick patch of mud, causing Reyna to snort and roll her eyes. "Clumsy," she'd say. Percy would then flash a grin and trot on behind her.
After what felt like eternity to Percy, he asked, "Are we there yet?"
"Just a few more minutes." She didn't even look back.
Percy threw his head back and groaned. "You said that few minutes ago," he pointed out.
"This time," Reyna said, "I mean it."
He was sceptical, but wasn't about to piss Reyna off by voicing his opinions. She could lead him on a wild goose chase and dump him in the middle of the woods, a place where Percy didn't know left from right; he'd be lost for days.
A mob of silver peaked through the vast tree trunks and Percy nearly sighed in relief. It turns out Reyna was right. At the centre of the pack was Diana, an immortal glow and the air of power easily distinguishing her from the rest of the crowd. The girls parted like the Red Sea when Percy and Reyna approached. Diana lifted her head and peered down her nose at them. "I take it you were – delayed." Reyna began to apologise, but Diana had resumed speaking. "It doesn't matter now. We are now behind schedule, so we must reach the camp as soon as possible. Girls, load up." She fixed her eyes on Reyna, a we'lltalkabouthislater glint in her moonshine eyes. The blonde ducked her head and looked properly cowed. She didn't speak a word to Percy the entire trip to the Legion.
Soon enough, the group came to a cave that was more badger den than anything else. It was large hole in the ground with a thicket of brambles guarding the opening. Diana nodded at the cave.
"I guess this is my stop then...?" Percy rubbed the back of his head awkwardly.
"It is, boy. Farewell." Diana stood stoically to his left and Percy stepped hesitantly down into the hole. He was surprised at the depth of it once he stood at the bottom.
"Goodbye, Lady Diana. Bye, Reyna." He waved at Reyna, and she only regarded him with a cold expression. "Oh-kay, then, bye," he muttered.
"Good luck, Perseus Jackson," called Diana from the rim of the den, "and may the gods be with you."
As Percy strolled through the long, dark cave, he kept on repeating what Diana had said: "Good luck, Perseus Jackson." Perseus Jackson... He let it roll around his head. Yeah, he liked the sound of it; it flowed. He could get used to having a last name.
He'd lost track of time when the light at the end of the tunnel finally appeared. Being there all alone in the dark and damp cave had driven Percy's ADHD to edge. By the time he stepped back into the daylight, a multi-chaptered epic about a wizard cat and his petpierogi had filled the great, black expanse that was his mind. Percy supposed he should've been checking for boobytraps or something, but he was just so bored.
At the end off the tunnel was a large meadow that seemed out of place in the expansive forest. It was filled with violet and yellow and blue wildflowers, and tall blades of grass. There was a stream somewhere among the grass; it gurgled and spit as it moved along. Percy walked up to it and formed his hand into a cup. He dipped it in the water and sipped, surprised at how cool and fresh it was. He fell back onto his knees and stared at his reflection, the stranger in the water.
At first he was unsure of what to think. Handsome if he were vain, or battle-hardened if he felt like the warrior he was, which wouldn't be an entirely unlikely possibility for a boy with no memory. At least now he had a clue as to how old he was now. The strong jaw and tanned skin with the sea-green eyes and the jet black hair could've been sixteen, maybe seventeen. There were scars caressing his cheek, pale and pink against his darker complexion, and one crossed the bridge of his nose. He ran his fingers across it and felt the sliver of raised flesh when he was standing in front of a crowd, the glint of bronze in the corner of his eye and a man with molten eyes before him moved to touch the long, knotted scar on his forearm.
Percy kept exploring his face and body, hoping for another glimpse of a forgotten memory, and came to the small of his back, a seemingly magnetic spot on his body, and touched it. He flinched and dropped to the ground. His back lifted off the ground and his limbs jittered like an electrical current as he convulsed. The world around like flashed black, white, and red until his body finally seized up and stopped. Limply, Percy lay on the ground, a pain blooming in his back. "Ugh." His eyes flickered and he stretched, arching like a cat. "Note to self," he muttered, "do not, under any circumstances, let anyone touch your back. At all."
Back on his knees, Percy scooped more water from the liquid and let it wash over him before drinking more. He was suddenly swept up by the immense desire to sleep and against his will his lids fluttered shut and his mind shut down.
"Jupiter above!" growled Gwen. "Why don't you guys just – "
"Hush, Gwen," hissed Dakota, "I think he's waking up!"
She glanced at the unconscious boy and, true to form, Frank was right. He stirred slightly and his lids lifted before dropping again. "Mmm," he moaned, twisting to his left on the cot and throwing his arm at some unseen enemy. He rolled into the pool of drool on the other side of the pillow. Gwen snickered.
When the boy finally opened his eyes, Bobby was leaning over him. "Good mornin', Sleeping Beauty," he crowed then glanced out the window. "Or evenin'."
The boy tiredly shoved him away and sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Where am I?" he asked.
Bobby opened his mouth to say something, but Gwen was quicker. "Not until you answer some questions will we tell you."
He pondered this for a moment before answering. "Perseus Jackson," he said, almost unsure of his own name.
Gwen's mouth twisted into a smile. Interrogating him would be too easy. "Okay, Perseus," she tested the name on her tongue.
"I like to be called Percy," he said, cutting her off.
"Perseus," she began again, "how did you get here?"
"Well," he said slowly, "I'd tell you if I actually knew." Percy gave her a pointed look and Frank tried to hide a smile behind his hand.
Heat crept into Gwen's cheeks that she tried to push down. "You are currently in the infirmary of Legio Romana."
"The Roman Legion," Percy realised immediately. "Reyna talked about this place."
"R-Reyna?" said Bobby. Dakota leaned back, his lips in a thin line and a slight frown on his face. Gwen simply looked astonished and made no effort to school her expression. "You saw her?" Bobby whispered, a bright hope in his dark eyes.
"Yeah." Percy rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. Why were they so shocked about Reyna? "The Hunters picked me up and she was... there."
"Reyna?" Gwen repeated in disbelief. "Joined the Hunters?"
"Uh huh," he nodded. "She seemed to be pretty high up in rank there."
There was a crease between Dakota's eyebrows. "You said she talked about camp, did she ever mention us?"
Percy thought about this and shook his head. "No, she mentioned a 'Kota, Hazel, Gwen, and Bobby, but Jason seemed to be a hot topic..." he trailed off, unsure of what else to say.
"Jason?" Bobby swore. "Damnit. I should've known."
Gwen went to put a hand on his shoulder but he brushed her off. "None of us could have stopped her, Bobby," she murmured into deaf ears.
"Um," Percy volunteered, "who exactly is Jason? Reyna told me that he was a praetor and a hero and her friend and stuff, but who is he really?"
"Jason," said Dakota, "was a close friend to all of us. As cliché as it may sound, he was more than a leader. He was an inspiration to all of us in the Legion. And after the war – he just disappeared. Like, one day he was here, and the next, not."
"What would Reyna have to do with this though?" Percy couldn't help it, his curiosity was insatiable.
"Reyna and Jason – " Gwen hesitated and cast a worried glance at Bobby.
"Reyna and Jason had a fling, which then turned into 'true love'," the other boy spat with a tinge of bitterness. His dark eyes were flecked with anger and another emotion Percy couldn't identify.
"Now, Bobby," Gwen sighed, "it wasn't 'true love'."
"Fine," he huffed, "they were soul mates. Much better, isn't it?"
"If it makes you feel any better," Percy piped out of the blue. "I can't even remember my soul mate – or, at least I think she was my soul mate. We were in love," he said.
"How can you not remember you 'soul mate'?" sneered Bobby.
"Just like I can't remember anything else," snapped Percy.
"Wait," Dakota said, "you can't remember anything?"
He shrugged. "Not anything before today besides my first name. Why do you care?"
Gwen rolled her eyes. "Who wouldn't care? It's not everyday you get your memory wiped."
She and Dakota shared a long look. "We should go tell Lupa," he muttered.
"Lupa? That wolf who eats people?" Percy said.
"She doesn't eat them," Gwen defended her mentor quickly. "She just... sucks the meat from their bones," she finished weakly.
"Big difference," he said to himself.
"Hey!" barked Gwen. "Do you want to stay or not?"
Percy stared at her. "I wasn't aware that I was given the option."
"Why was he given the option?" grumbled the sulking Bobby.
"Gods, just shut up, will you?" she retorted and turned back to Percy. "Lupa will decide whether or not to train you. We lost a lot of campers in the war." A shadow flickered across her face as she stood in the door. "Come on," she gestured to Dakota and the pair left the room.
"So," Percy began, breaking the perpetual silence, "what's it like here?"
Bobby could feel the sea-green gaze burning a hole in the back of his head and studiously ignored it. "It's like any other camp, really. Only a lot more violent," he said at last.
"So that means you have arts and crafts?" Percy wondered.
Bobby barked a short laugh. "Ha, no. Lupa had to get rid of it when she found out kids were using the paint as war paint and started throwing the ceramics at other campers. Man, was she pissed."
Percy smiled, pleased with himself that he knocked the bitterness from Bobby. "Yeah, I bet. She seems kinda up tight, if you're picking up what I'm putting down."
All of a sudden Bobby was at Percy's side and he leaned in close and whispered, "You know, she doesn't really eat kids. It's just a camp legend used to scare the newbies; a myth, that's all."
The amnesiac boy laughed softly. "Good to know," he whispered back, "I'd rather not be a wolf's breakfast, lunch, or dinner."
There were footsteps in the hall outside and a sort muffled shuffle as Dakota and Gwen returned. Percy waved. "Where's Lupa?"
A great furry beast stepped out from behind them and raised its head. "Perseus Jackson," greeted a strong, female voice, "I wasn't told of your coming."
AN:/ I'm going to shamelessly advertise for my other story, so feel free to skip over this part (even though you totally shouldn't). So, I have this fic 'girls just wanna have fun' and it's my baby and you should read and review ASAP. I'm feelin' the love, you see. I think just 'cause it's a genderbender means that people think it's going to be stupid, but guess what? (Spoiler alert!) Annabeth doesn't even leave Percy in it! (What? What is this insanity? This, my dear, dear friends, is my brains on paper. It involves bra measurings, bikini waxes, and mucho, mucho more! It's like a girl's best friend!)
You should definitely review this story too.
Just because I told you to. ;)
Feed the review whore!