I know it's been, like, maaaany months :S But this story is not easy to update, especially if I want to keep it as interesting as possible. The first few chapters came out in quick succession because they're just mostly humorous, and I feel that my later chapters are better. And anyway, I don't have the time I had back then, when I had like *proper* summer holidays xD
Okay, so I have decided NOT to do the AU fanfic, because firstly, not everyone wants me to, as I originally thought. Secondly, the point of the fun with all these references is that you don't understand them, and thirdly, I doubt I'll have the time.
But if I did, for some reason, begin the AU fanfic, it would not follow the same plot as the PJO series. Maybe if I finish my other PJO fanfic (Mind and Body), or/and my Harry Potter fanfic (The Hunt for the Mary-Sue's) I'll consider writing an AU fanfic. But I'm making no promises!
(P.S: I'm shamelessly self-promoting those fanfictions of mine because they are my favourites xD)
And in response to Searox's review, from the PJO-universe, Bianca is from the Titan's Curse, right before her death. All the other PJO characters are from the Lost Hero, but before they find Jason and after Percy's gone missing.
And to everyone else, thank you SO SO MUCH for reviewing! Cookie for you :3 (I just really like cookies xD)
Ahaha so I'll start writing this now and try to finish as soon as I can ;)
Hera glared at Apollo a little balefully. "We get advice from a poodle."
Connor guffawed. "The titles of the chapters are the funniest bits of your book, Perce!"
"Don't call me Perce." He grumbled, not bothering to remind everyone for the umpteenth time that it wasn't his book.
Before Hera could continue, a flash of light appeared, and another figure materialised on the floor, just as PJO Annabeth had. Except that this figure had hooves.
"Grover?" PJO Annabeth was delighted.
The satyr stumbled to his feet, gaping around the room. "Er..."
Hades groaned audibly. "Someone needs to keep the Oracle under control."
"Oh, and you'd know?" Apollo asked sarcastically.
Most of the gods looked displeased with another new arrival, but the demigods were fascinated. With the exception of Sally, Bianca and PJO Annabeth, none of them had ever seen Grover.
"Perrrrrrrrcy!" He bleated, relieved to see Percy alive and well. And then he noticed the two Annabeths. "Woah. What's going on?"
PJO Annabeth explained the situation as briefly as she could.
"Son of Athena?" Grover guffawed, before clapping a hand to his mouth as he remembered whose presence he was in.
"Is it that unbelievable?" Percy asked peevishly.
PJO Annabeth smiled knowingly.
"So..." Grover gestured at the books. "These are..."
"About us." PJO Annabeth confirmed. "And Bianca. And Sally."
Grover's eyes widened as he noticed Bianca for the first time, and he took the empty seat next to her. She smiled at him, and he reflected on how surreal the whole situation was.
But he had learnt to expect the unexpected after spending a few years in Percy's company.
Hera cleared her throat. "If you don't mind, I'm going to read now."
Nobody could argue with that.
"We get advice from a poodle." She repeated.
We were pretty miserable that night.
"What night?" Grover interrupted.
"After Medusa." Bianca told him quickly, before Hera could snap at the interruption so early on in the chapter.
We camped out in the woods, a hundred yards from the main road, in a marshy clearing that local kids had obviously been using for parties. The ground was littered with flattened soda cans and fast-food wrappers.
"Sounds like Grover's food problem is solved." Connor winked at the satyr in question.
Grover wasn't sure whether to laugh, or be offended, so he settled with an ambiguous expression.
We'd taken some food and blankets from Aunty Em's, but we didn't dare light a fire to dry our damp clothes. The Furies and Medusa had provided enough excitement for one day. We didn't want to attract anything else.
"Did we ever get into this much trouble in a day?" Thalia wondered.
"Yep." Annabeth assured her.
"Only because you never listened to me." Percy reminded them.
We decided to sleep in shifts. I volunteered to take first watch.
"Something horrible always happens to people who take first watch." Nico muttered darkly.
Annabeth curled up on the blankets and was snoring as soon as her head hit the ground.
Grover fluttered with his flying shoes to the lowest bough of a tree, put his back to the trunk, and stared at the night sky.
"I really miss those shoes." Grover sighed. "Too bad they-"
PJO Annabeth shushed him. "Spoilers."
Hermes watched curiously.
"Go ahead and sleep," I told him. "I'll wake you if there's trouble."
He nodded, but still didn't close his eyes. "It makes me sad, Percy."
"All the trouble?" Travis joked.
"That's part of the job description." PJO Annabeth and Grover laughed together. (AN: He isn't PJO Grover, because there is no Grover in the AU :)
"What does? The fact that you signed up for this stupid quest?"
"He didn't really have a choice." Artemis purposefully stared at Mr. D.
He sighed. "We all know you disagree with my methods."
"No. This makes me sad." He pointed at all the garbage on the ground. "And the sky. You can't even see the stars. They've polluted the sky. This is a terrible time to be a satyr."
"Of course you can see the stars!" Nico argued.
PJO Annabeth shook her head violently. "Never say that to a satyr."
Grover satisfied himself with a glare in Nico's direction.
"Oh, yeah. I guess you'd be an environmentalist."
Demeter muttered something that sounded like "Insensitive."
He glared at me. "Only a human wouldn't be. Your species is clogging up the world so fast ...
ah, never mind. It's useless to lecture a human. At the rate things are going, I'll never find Pan."
"What?" Connor choked. "What kind of a pan?"
"The secret to the perfect enchilada." Travis stage-whispered.
"I don't think you cook enchiladas in a pan..." Nico trailed off.
"What about pizza?" Travis leaned over PJO Annabeth to pat Nico's shoulder. (AN: hehe an AN again xD I just wanted to announce to everyone (and I'm very proud) that I actually have their seating arrangements mapped out in my head, so there is actually continuity okay I'm just really proud of that xD Carry on reading then!)
Nico groaned. He should have seen that one coming.
"Pam? Like the cooking spray?"
"What cooking spray?" Nico was puzzled.
"Percy, I'm confused." Connor announced.
PJO Annabeth and Percy groaned simultaneously.
"Pan!" he cried indignantly. "P-A-N. The great god Pan! What do you think I want a searcher's license for?"
"What's a searcher's license?" Travis asked.
Thalia looked at him incredulously. "Do you really not know any of this? Or are you just playing dumb?"
Travis and Connor exchanged a sly smile.
"It makes our discussions more interesting." Connor offered.
"We aren't here to discuss." Zeus rumbled.
A strange breeze rustled through the clearing, temporarily overpowering the stink of trash and muck. It brought the smell of berries and wildflowers and clean rainwater, things that might've once been in these woods. Suddenly I was nostalgic for something I'd never known.
"Why doesn't that happen to me when I'm stuck in trash and muck?" Thalia grumbled. "It would be nice to not smell that."
"Tell me about the search," I said.
Grover looked at me cautiously, as if he were afraid I was just making fun.
"Are you really that mean?" Bianca laughed.
"The God of Wild Places disappeared two thousand years ago," he told me.
"He's where the wild things are." Travis said solemnly.
"A sailor off the coast of Ephesos heard a mysterious voice crying out from the shore, 'Tell them that the great god Pan has died!' When humans heard the news, they believed it. They've been pillaging Pan's kingdom ever since. But for the satyrs, Pan was our lord and master. He protected us and the wild places of the earth. We refuse to believe that he died. In every generation, the bravest satyrs pledge their lives to finding Pan. They search the earth, exploring all the wildest places, hoping to find where he is hidden, and wake him from his sleep."
"Does that answer your question?" Thalia asked Travis smugly.
"Yeah." He grinned wickedly. "I have another one. Why don't our parents talk? C'mon, dad!"
The gods eyed him disapprovingly.
"Restrain yourself." Artemis advised him.
"That translates to: shut up." Hermes mumbled, thoroughly embarrassed, but a little amused.
"And you want to be a searcher."
"It's my life's dream," he said. "My father was a searcher. And my Uncle Ferdinand ... the statue you saw back there—"
"What happens to searchers?" Nico asked.
"You don't have Grover in this world." Bianca grinned. "Nobody ever found Pan, did they?"
"And Grover did?" Artemis asked, surveying the satyr with a new found respect.
Bianca placed a finger to her lips and smiled.
"Oh, right, sorry."
Grover shook his head. "Uncle Ferdinand knew the risks. So did my dad. But I'll succeed. I'll be the first searcher to return alive."
"Hang on—the first?"
"That's what they all say." Dionysus complained. "And it's more work for me when they don't come back."
Grover took his reed pipes out of his pocket. "No searcher has ever come back. Once they set out, they disappear. They're never seen alive again."
"Why is he taking out the reed pipes?" Travis moaned. "Is he going to play a tune?"
Grover was affronted. PJO Annabeth nudged Travis to remind him that Grover was in the very same room. Travis had the grace to blush.
"Not once in two thousand years?"
"Why does anyone even bother searching?" Connor asked, glancing at Grover apologetically.
Grover bristled. "I have to believe that. Every searcher does. It's the only thing that keeps us from despair when we look at what humans have done to the world."
Connor zipped his mouth.
"And your dad? You have no idea what happened to him?"
"Does that bother you?" Thalia was curious.
"Can we all stop interrogating the satyr?" Hera demanded.
"But you still want to go," I said, amazed. "I mean, you really think you'll be the one to find Pan?"
"I have to believe that, Percy. Every searcher does. It's the only thing that keeps us from despair when we look at what humans have done to the world. I have to believe Pan can still be awakened."
"Spot on." Travis winked, making up for his earlier offence.
I stared at the orange haze of the sky and tried to understand how Grover could pursue a dream that seemed so hopeless. Then again, was I any better?
"What dream?" Apollo was confused.
"To find his mother." His twin explained. "Have you been paying attention?"
He winked merrily in reply.
"How are we going to get into the Underworld?" I asked him. "I mean, what chance do we have against a god?"
"None at all?" Hades suggested.
"I don't know," he admitted. "But back at Medusa's, when you were searching her office? Annabeth was telling me—"
"Oh, I forgot. Annabeth will have a plan all figured out."
Thalia snickered to Percy. "Sound familiar to you?"
"I bet he has his entire life planned out." Annabeth joked.
"You say that like it's a bad thing." PJO Annabeth said, injured.
"Don't be so hard on her, Percy. She's had a tough life, but she's a good person. After all, she forgave me..." His voice faltered.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Forgave you for what?"
"Planning out your life?" Connor joked.
Travis shook his head. "She obviously gifted him the reed pipes."
There were a few moments of silence as people tried to understand where the joke was.
Suddenly, Grover seemed very interested in playing notes on his pipes.
Connor and Travis exchanged a high-five.
"Wait a minute," I said. "Your first keeper job was five years ago. Annabeth has been at camp five years. She wasn't ... I mean, your first assignment that went wrong—"
A collective gasp of understanding ran through the room. The PJO characters smiled.
"I can't talk about it," Grover said, and his quivering lower lip suggested he'd start crying if I pressed him. "But as I was saying, back at Medusa's, Annabeth and I agreed there's something strange going on with this quest. Something isn't what it seems."
"Everything is not what it seems!" Connor started to sing.
Everyone in the room paused to stare at him. He raised his hands defensively. "Wizards of Waverly Place!" (AN: Those of you who read "Mind and Body" will know that I have this song stuck in my head xD )
"Well, duh. I'm getting blamed for stealing a thunderbolt that Hades took."
Hades grumbled. "Always blaming me. War amongst the mortals? It's Hades' fault. Someone got kidnapped? Hades' fault. Something happened?-"
"Hades' fault." Bianca finished with a giggle.
"That's not what I mean," Grover said. "The Fur—The Kindly Ones were sort of holding back. Like Mrs. Dodds at Yancy Academy ... why did she wait so long to try to kill you? Then on the bus, they just weren't as aggressive as they could've been."
"He actually sounds upset that you weren't killed." Bianca punched Grover playfully.
He bleated. "That's not true!"
"They seemed plenty aggressive to me."
Artemis couldn't hold herself back. "If I were allowed to intervene at Camp..."
"You'd renovate the whole place." Apollo interrupted. "Out with the boys, and in with the ladies! Replace all the dangerous things with even more dangerous things and-"
"Enough." Artemis glared at him.
Apollo shrugged. "You know the rules, sis. You choose the Hunters, we choose Camp."
Grover shook his head. "They were screeching at us: 'Where is it? Where?'"
"Why do you have to use the word screeching?" Annabeth complained. "I can't take you seriously."
"Asking about me," I said.
"Maybe ... but Annabeth and I, we both got the feeling they weren't asking about a person. They said 'Where is it?' They seemed to be asking about an object."
"That doesn't make sense."
"Why don't we blame Hades?" Hades grumbled under his breath, annoyed at the bad light he was being portrayed in.
Bianca rolled her eyes and caught her brother's eye.
"Drama queen." He mouthed silently.
"I know. But if we've misunderstood something about this quest, and we only have nine days to find the master bolt..." He looked at me like he was hoping for answers, but I didn't have any.
I thought about what Medusa had said: I was being used by the gods. What lay ahead of me was worse than petrification.
"One does not simply walk into the Underworld." Thalia winked.
The reference whizzed past Hades, and he took Thalia all too literally. "That's what you'd think."
"I haven't been straight with you," I told Grover. "I don't care about the master bolt. I agreed to go to the Underworld so I could bring back my mother."
Sally smiled to herself.
Grover blew a soft note on his pipes. "I know that, Percy. But are you sure that's the only reason?"
"I like Grover." Travis announced proudly.
"I'm not doing it to help my father. He doesn't care about me. I don't care about him."
"Ouch." Poseidon winced, only half-joking.
Grover gazed down from his tree branch. "Look, Percy, I'm not as smart as Annabeth. I'm not as brave as you. But I'm pretty good at reading emotions. You're glad your dad is alive. You feel good that he's claimed you, and part of you wants to make him proud. That's why you mailed Medusa's head to Olympus. You wanted him to notice what you'd done."
"Or you just wanted to piss the gods off really badly." Apollo winked. "I like that attitude, kid."
"Yeah? Well maybe satyr emotions work differently than human emotions. Because you're wrong. I don't care what he thinks."
Grover pulled his feet up onto the branch. "Okay, Percy. Whatever."
"Yeah. Pfft." Connor waved a hand dismissively. "Like, whatever."
"So not funny." Travis muttered to him.
"Besides, I haven't done anything worth bragging about. We barely got out of New York and we're stuck here with no money and no way west."
Grover looked at the night sky, like he was thinking about that problem. "How about I take first watch, huh? You get some sleep."
I wanted to protest, but he started to play Mozart, soft and sweet, and I turned away, my eyes stinging. After a few bars of Piano Concerto no. 12, I was asleep.
"I can't believe I slept through that." PJO Annabeth shook her head.
"The conversation?" Percy asked. "Or the reed pipes?"
"Both." She laughed.
In my dreams, I stood in a dark cavern before a gaping pit. Gray mist creatures churned all around me, whispering rags of smoke that I somehow knew were the spirits of the dead.
"Nico." Travis wagged a finger at him. "Children shouldn't play with dead things." (AN: heheh Supernatural ;)
They tugged at my clothes, trying to pull me back, but I felt compelled to walk forward to the very edge of the chasm. Looking down made me dizzy.
The pit yawned so wide and was so completely black, I knew it must be bottomless. Yet I had a feeling that something was trying to rise from the abyss, something huge and evil.
Zeus and Poseidon exchanged a glance.
"The little hero," an amused voice echoed far down in the darkness. "Too weak, too young, but perhaps you will do."
"Who are they calling weak?" Annabeth pretended to be offended. "Surely not Percy!"
"Hah." He said sarcastically.
The voice felt ancient—cold and heavy. It wrapped around me like sheets of lead.
"Sheets of lead?" Athena raised an eyebrow.
"Interesting analogy." Percy agreed, grinning.
"They have misled you, boy," it said. "Barter with me. I will give you what you want."
A shimmering image hovered over the void: my mother, frozen at the moment she'd dissolved in a shower of gold. Her face was distorted with pain, as if the Minotaur were still squeezing her neck. Her eyes looked directly at me, pleading: "Go!" I tried to cry out, but my voice wouldn't work.
Cold laughter echoed from the chasm.
"Muahaha-" Travis began, but Connor cut him short.
"Dude." Connor shook his head. "You cannot do the evil laugh."
"Like you can." Travis retorted.
An invisible force pulled me forward. It would drag me into the pit unless I stood firm.
"Help me rise, boy." The voice became hungrier. "Bring me the bolt. Strike a blow against the treacherous gods!"
"Everyone just automatically assumes that I... he has the bolt." Percy complained.
"Enough interruptions!" Hera ordered, peeved.
The spirits of the dead whispered around me, "No! Wake!"
"Who are the asking to wake?" Grover asked Percy. "You? Or the thing in the pit?"
The image of my mother began to fade. The thing in the pit tightened its unseen grip around me.
I realized it wasn't interested in pulling me in. It was using me to pull itself out.
"Creepy." Thalia commented.
"When is it not?" Annabeth muttered cynically.
"Good," it murmured. "Good."
"Wake!" the dead whispered. "Wake!" Someone was shaking me.
"This sounds like a really weird zombie movie." Grover bleated.
My eyes opened, and it was daylight.
"Well," Annabeth said, "the zombie lives."
PJO Annabeth laughed. "Pretty accurate description."
"Well done, Enchilada Boy!" Travis cheered.
I was trembling from the dream. I could still feel the grip of the chasm monster around my chest. "How long was I asleep?"
"Long enough for me to cook breakfast." Annabeth tossed me a bag of nacho-flavored corn chips from Aunty Em's snack bar. "And Grover went exploring. Look, he found a friend."
"Fish are friends." Connor began solemnly, but stopped as Hera glared at him threateningly.
My eyes had trouble focusing.
Grover was sitting cross-legged on a blanket with something fuzzy in his lap, a dirty, unnaturally pink stuffed animal.
No. It wasn't a stuffed animal. It was a pink poodle.
"Do poodles even come in pink?" Apollo wondered.
The poodle yapped at me suspiciously. Grover said, "No, he's not."
"Are you talking to the poodle?" Bianca asked, fascinated.
I blinked. "Are you ... talking to that thing?"
The poodle growled.
"I think the thing talks back." Nico joked.
"This thing," Grover warned, "is our ticket west. Be nice to him."
"Him?" Connor asked incredulously. "The pick poodle is a him?"
"Sexist." PJO Annabeth rolled her eyes in irritation.
"You can talk to animals?"
Grover ignored the question. "Percy, meet Gladiola. Gladiola, Percy."
"Who names a pink male poodle Gladiola?" Travis demanded.
I stared at Annabeth, figuring she'd crack up at this practical joke they were playing on me, but she looked deadly serious.
"I'm not saying hello to a pink poodle," I said. "Forget it."
A few people snorted.
"I don't think I've ever said hello to a pink poodle." Annabeth laughed.
"Percy," Annabeth said. "I said hello to the poodle. You say hello to the poodle."
The poodle growled.
"Scared of a poodle, Jackson?" Ares sneered.
"It is a pretty unfriendly poodle." Aphrodite defended.
I said hello to the poodle.
Grover explained that he'd come across Gladiola in the woods and they'd struck up a conversation. The poodle had run away from a rich local family, who'd posted a $200 reward for his return. Gladiola didn't really want to go back to his family, but he was willing to if it meant helping Grover.
"Pretty nice poodle." Grover grinned.
"How does Gladiola know about the reward?" I asked.
"He read the signs," Grover said. "Duh."
"Like, duh." Connor snorted.
"Of course," I said. "Silly me."
"So we turn in Gladiola," Annabeth explained in her best strategy voice, "we get money, and we buy tickets to Los Angeles. Simple."
"Kudos for being the only demigods to get help from a pink poodle." Hermes winked cheerfully.
I thought about my dream—the whispering voices of the dead, the thing in the chasm, and my mother's face, shimmering as it dissolved into gold. All that might be waiting for me in the West.
"Not another bus," I said warily.
"Don't tell me you ride on the poodle." Travis gaped.
"Sweet ride!" Connor exclaimed, leaning across to exchange a high-five with his brother.
"No," Annabeth agreed.
She pointed downhill, toward train tracks I hadn't been able to see last night in the dark.
"There's an Amtrak station half a mile that way. According to Gladiola, the westbound train leaves at noon."
"The chapter ends there." Hera put the book down with relief.
"Grover's next!" Travis said immediately.
"Blaa ha haa!" The satyr laughed nervously. "No- I couldn't- Um-"
Hera passed the book to Grover. "Just read."
With a baleful glare at Travis, Grover turned to the next page.
*wipes imaginary bead of sweat*
That. Took. So. Long.
I got a new laptop as well, and the keyboard is so confusing! I can barely type!
But YAY I finally got this chapter up! So thank you everyone who's stuck with this story for however long, because I really can't believe that you guys are so wonderful :D Cookie for you! :3
PLEASE leave a review? I would *so* appreciate it!