Well, hello, hello! I'm Rae :D You might know me from around the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew section of the site, or you might not. Doesn't matter to me, I'm still going to write this story ;) I had this thought stuck in my head – as writing inspiration usually does – of what R.R. didn't say, but really should have, at the end of The Son of Neptune. If you haven't read it, then be aware this story is chock full of spoilers, so don't flame me and say I didn't warn you – 'cause I did! Right there. See it? I warned you right there! …oh whatever, you people are useless *eye roll*. Alright, so that said, this is probably going to be a one-shot, but it may get longer depending on the response I receive for it. In case you're wondering, yes that was a hint that I'd like some reviews pretty please! ;D Onward!
Edit: 10/24/11 – A couple of astute reviewers have pointed out some inconsistencies I missed when editing before I posted. These problems have been corrected, but the chapter is largely the same. Thanks for reading.
That's My Seaweed Brain
I stood on the bow of the ship, watching as the Roman camp came into view. Jason had called it Camp Jupiter, which made sense, as Jupiter is Zeus' Roman aspect. He also happens to be Jason's father, but that's not important right now.
All that mattered is that we're finally here, and I knew somewhere down in that maze of white columns and buildings, is Percy Jackson, the boy I love. He's been missing for nine months, two weeks, four days, twenty-one hours and five minutes. Not that I've been counting.
My skin tingled in anticipation, as if my body could feel Percy's presence nearby; just the same as I could sense if a monster might be close. I literally ached at the thought of having Percy hold me in his arms again, of feeling his soft, messy black hair, smelling the scent of ocean on his skin, and seeing those mesmerizing green eyes.
Oh gods, just the wait I go through while we set the ship down in a large field nearly killed me. Everything inside was screaming at me to jump off the Argo II and run into that camp, slashing anyone who got in my way with my dagger. Okay, so that might sound a bit extreme, but if your boyfriend disappeared without a trace for as long as mine did, you'd be impatient too.
Finally, Jason set us down easily and Leo shut off the ship's engines. I'm not a hundred percent clear on how the ship operates, but basically it can fly or sail only with the help of a demigod's or god's power. Hence, we needed both Jason and Percy to get to the birthplace of the gods. Aside from the prophecy, we couldn't expect either one of them to carry a ship as big as the Argo II all the way to Greece by themselves.
As soon as the ship was one hundred percent on the ground and gangplank was down, I was running. I pounded the turf beneath my sneakers, skirting around deep scars in the ground, along with a few potholes and several unnatural ditches. I got the feeling from the uneven turf and scorch marks that this field saw a lot of battles, and part of me wondered if it's just my imagination or if some of the dug up grass is fresh enough to come from just yesterday.
I'm not focused on that though – I'm focused on the small group of people coming toward me from the city, most of whom were wearing (oddly enough) togas. I slowed my pace down to a walk so they didn't think I was attacking, and looked back to see Piper, Jason, Leo, Grover, and a handful of Hephaestus kids from the ship jogging to catch up to me.
Jason was looking around with a reminiscent, happy look on his face, like he couldn't really believe he was finally home. Piper and Leo both looked awed, not that I blamed them. Even from a few hundred feet in the air I could already tell that the architecture around here was amazing, but I didn't have time to think about support structures and angles at that moment. Grover looked nervous and was chewing on his reed pipes, however that was normal. Leo's siblings seemed cautious and wary, but not worried necessarily – yet.
I turned back to see the group was only about two or three yards away. A girl with long dark hair in a toga stepped forward, and opened her mouth to say something, probably ask what we were doing here. Before she could though, I saw him. And he saw me.
I'd been dreading this moment for months now, ever since I found out that Hera had messed with Percy's memories like she did with Jason's. I couldn't help overanalyzing the situation from every angle, with one main worry always coming back to the forefront of my battle strategizing mind: What if he doesn't remember me?
In that instant, my worry was gone, like it never even existed. Because Percy looked at me, and I just knew that he remembered. He charged forward at the same moment that I did, and then I was in his arms and for several moments, nothing else mattered.
I clung to him desperately, afraid that he'd evaporate into thin air if I relinquished my hold for even a moment. He seemed to be on the same wavelength as me – never thought I'd say that – because he didn't let up on his hold either.
Percy turned his head into my neck and nuzzled me, kissing the hollow behind my ear gently, "Gods, Annabeth, I missed you so much." He murmured the words against my skin, the sensation igniting ever nerve ending in my body.
"Percy," I breathed. I know, I know! I must have sounded like such a romantic sap, but I couldn't help it. I'd been waiting for this moment for an eternity. "You remember," I said brilliantly.
I really wanted to be questioning him fully, to find out exactly how much he remembered. I wanted to know how much Hera took, so I could kick her godly behind for every neuron she fried in his kelp-filled head. I wanted to yell at him for being gone so long without trying to contact me somehow and for worrying his mom and stepdad sick.
I know the last one's not really fair, but I still wanted to do it.
Percy leaned back and smiled at me cutely, melting my heart. His sea-green eyes twinkled with both mischief and love. "How could I forget you, Wise Girl?"
Yep, that's my Percy. I grinned and kissed him on the lips, and thank the gods he kissed me right back.
I'm not really sure how long we were standing there like that, when suddenly a girl's voice off to my right interrupted my concentration; which was a pretty hard thing to do to a daughter of Athena.
"Aw, that is so sweet!"
I looked up to see a small girl of maybe thirteen, with cocoa skin and curly dark hair, who smiled at me in a friendly manner. I wasn't sure what was more surprising – her New Orleans accent, the red toga she was wearing, or her gold colored eyes. I'd never seen a demigod with gold eyes – not even Piper or her sibling's eyes changed to that color.
"Um, and you are?" I asked. I kept my arms around Percy's neck possessively. Hey, when your boyfriend falls off the face of the earth for nearly a year, I'd like to see you not get a little clingy.
Percy chuckled, "easy, Annabeth, she's a friend. This is Hazel Levesque, daughter of Pluto."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small sapphire poke through the ground at Hazel's feet, almost like how a flower would pop up in the spring. Hazel didn't seem fazed by the precious gem, like this sort of thing happened a lot. She picked up the sapphire and put it in a pocket of her toga. Hmm, togas with pockets – what will they think of next?
"It's nice to have a face to put with a name. Percy's talked about you constantly in the past week. It was beginning to get annoying," Hazel grinned and winked. Call me crazy, but I think I liked this girl.
Percy rolled his eyes, "Ha ha, Hazel, very funny."
"I thought it was," the tall Chinese boy next to Hazel chimed in with a suppressed laugh. He was at least half a foot taller than Percy, which only seemed to dwarf Hazel's size even more, and he was built like a football player – big. His physical appearance reminded me of the Ares kids back at camp, but the open smile ruined the image.
"Seriously, I don't know why you guys don't go on the road. You'd make a killing," Percy told him with a deadpan expression. Gods I've missed his sarcasm. "Anyway, Annabeth, this is Frank Zhang, son of Mars. He and Hazel have probably saved my butt about a dozen times this past week."
I smiled. "Well then I guess a thank you is in order. I would've been mad if I got here and all that was left of Percy was a pile of seaweed where his brain used to be."
"Hey!" Percy protested indignantly. I laughed and kissed his cheek. He smiled and looked relatively appeased.
Suddenly, something occurred to me. "Wait, 'this past week'? How long have you been here at Camp Jupiter? You've been missing for nine months back in New York."
Percy frowned and sighed, rubbing his neck. "Yeah… about that? Uh…"
I looked around at the rest of the group of people from New Rome, noticing someone was missing. "Percy? Where's Nico? I got a message from him a few days ago, confirming you were here."
Percy winced. "Well, he was here, but he's missing now."
"What do you mean, 'missing'?" I asked anxiously.
Hazel answered my question, her gold eyes sad. "He was taken captive by the giants. We think they're going to use him to raise more villains from the Underworld."
I frowned. "You're a child of the god of the Underworld too, though. Why didn't they take you?"
Hazel looked down uncomfortably. "Nico and I share the same father, but not the same powers."
She didn't elaborate, but as I thought about the jewels that had popped up around her, it suddenly clicked. In Greece, Hades was just the god of the Underworld and Lord of the dead. In Rome, however, as Pluto he also became the god of riches and wealth.
I got the feeling from Hazel's vague answer that few people knew what her powers entailed. I gave her a reassuring smile – I wouldn't be telling anyone without her permission. Hazel smiled back, looking relieved.
Getting back to the problem at hand, I sighed. "I hope Nico won't be tempted to work for Gaea."
Hazel shook her head. "Nico's a lot of things, but he's not a traitor."
Percy rolled his eyes and snorted. Hazel, Frank and I looked at him questioningly. "Okay, so he wouldn't join Gaea, but I'm still pissed he didn't tell me who I was when he saw me here!"
"Percy, he probably realized that you'd lost your memories for a reason, and didn't want to screw something up," I reasoned.
Percy agreed with me reluctantly, but still grumbled under his breath, "Remind me to throttle, stab, and then drowned him in the River Styx after we save his sorry ass," he muttered to me. I bit back a smile at that. Still the same violent boy I met in sixth grade. At least some things never change.
"Hey, Hazel, good to see you again," Jason said, walking up with Piper, Leo, Grover, the familiar looking black haired girl, and a skinny blonde kid with a crazed look in his eyes.
Hazel gave him a sisterly hug. "You're a sight for sore eyes yourself. Good to have you back."
I saw that Leo's siblings had returned to the ship, either to work on a few kinks we'd encountered with the engine, or to guard it from curious Romans – probably both. All the older men who'd been with the group had dispersed; maybe they were late for a toga party.
"Peerrrcy!" Grover suddenly bleated, tackling his best friend to the ground in a hug.
Percy laughed, "Hey man, watch the ribs! I've missed you too, Grover."
"Percy, we've been so worried. I kept trying every tracking spell I knew, and our empathy link, but nothing worked! I was worried you were – that you might be…" Grover blubbered, starting to tear up.
"Hey, easy! I'm fine G-man, really. See? Look at me, I'm totally cool," Percy said, trying to calm the satyr down.
Grover sniffed and nodded, wiping his eyes. "Right, of course."
"…Can you get off me now?"
Grover blushed. "Oh! Right, sorry! Here, let me help you." He pulled Percy to his feet, looking embarrassed.
"Who's the faun?" The familiar black haired girl asked Jason, "and why is he so emotional?"
Grover glared at her. "I'm not a faun! I'm a satyr! …And I am not emotional!"
I didn't have the heart to say anything.
Percy tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, staring at the son of Jupiter. "You must be Jason." He stuck out his hand for a shake. "Nice to meet a fellow kid of the Big Three. You're quite the legend around here."
Jason took Percy's hand in a firm grasp. "Same. I have to say you're just as much, if not more, of a legend at Camp Half-Blood."
Percy blushed, rubbing his neck. "Yeah, well, I try."
"So there is a Greek demigod camp? Ha! I knew it!" The blonde kid crowed triumphantly. He shook his fist in the air, drawing attention to the butcher's knife he was clutching, along with the shredded remains of a stuffed duck toy.
I leaned towards Percy, warily keeping my eyes glued to the blonde. "Who's the serial killer in training?"
Percy rolled his eyes. "That's Octavian, the camp's augur. He's Camp Jupiter's equivalent to Rachel Dare, just a whole lot weirder and not as reliable. Just don't tell him I said that," he replied lowly. "And whatever you do, don't provoke him. He's convinced that the Greek demigods are going to declare war on the Roman demigods, and that Camp Jupiter should strike first before it can happen."
"You think he's going to use this as an opening," I stated in a mutter only loud enough for my boyfriend's ears.
Percy gave me a look that I'd know anywhere. It plainly read, duh. Great, all we needed was something else to worry about. Like the fate of Western Civilization wasn't enough of a burden.
"We just said that, yes," Piper replied, rolling her eyes at Octavian. Obviously she found him really disturbing as well, from the way she kept a hand on her dagger and stayed close to Jason's side.
"Then it's also true that the Greeks are hoping to make a comeback? They want to take down Rome while we're still weak from battle! I told you, Reyna!" Octavian declared, pointing his knife at Leo threateningly.
Leo calmly pulled a huge hammer out of his tool belt and hefted it in his hands. Smart boy. "Seriously, dude, you need to chill. No one's here to attack anyone. We're just here to pick up Percy and whoever else is going on the quest with us."
"And you are?" Percy asked blankly.
"Oops. Sorry, my bad. Percy this is Piper McLean, daughter of Aphrodite," I said as Percy shook Piper's hand.
"McLean?" Percy asked tilting his head like the name rang a bell… which it probably did.
Piper blushed slightly, "Don't ask."
"And this is Leo Valdez, son of Hephaestus," I continued to save Piper from an extra embarrassment. "They're both head counselors of their cabins, and they went with Jason to free Hera when she was kidnapped nine months ago."
Percy frowned. "Hera was kidnapped?" But before I could explain, he asked another question. "Wait a second, they're head counselors? I can see Jake stepping down – he didn't even want the job – but Drew? I thought she loved being in charge. I didn't think that she could be challenged with that Charmspeak of hers."
Piper smirked, "Let's just say I can be very persuasive myself." She winked and then giggled at his confused look.
Percy wisely held back the question that was burning in his eyes. He shook his head. "Anyway… you said you came to get me and pick up the other demigods for a quest? You mean?" He didn't finish, but he didn't have to.
"The quest of the seven is here, Percy," I said quietly, "so much for not seeing it in our lifetime, huh?"
"You can say that again," he muttered and sighed. "I suspected as much. Well, I can tell you I already know who the last two are." He pointed to Hazel and Frank, who looked grim, but ready.
"Hold it! Hold it!" The black haired girl, Reyna I think, held up her hands impatiently. "You guys can't just leave! Jason just got back, and Percy, you were just elected praetor. We need you both!"
Jason frowned. "Praetor? Percy? But, how…?"
Reyna looked apologetic, "The Feast of Fortuna, Jason. We needed a second praetor, and well, with Percy's triumph in the battle yesterday…"
"Okay, that's the second time someone has mentioned a battle," Leo interrupted. "Does anyone care to explain that?"
"Maybe we should discuss this somewhere more private?" Jason suggested.
"Agreed," Reyna replied, looking relieved. "The senate hall is empty right now, let's head there."
"Senate hall?" I asked, glancing at Percy. He grinned at the excited look that must've been in my grey eyes.
"You're going to love this place – there's even a Coliseum," Percy said. Have I mentioned how much I love this guy? He knows my weaknesses all too well.
"I don't suppose we could, maybe, take a tour once things are settled and before we have to leave? A quick one? Please?" I said my eyes pleading as I gave my boyfriend my most winning smile.
Percy pretended to think it over for a moment. "Well… I guess saving the gods could wait long enough for us to take a quick run around the city and camp." He winked at me and I grinned, giving him a quick kiss. Seriously, I love this boy!
"Sheesh, get a room why don't you?" Leo muttered. I shot him a rude gesture from Ancient Greece, making Piper laugh.
That settled, Jason, Reyna and Percy took the lead showing us through the city to the senate house. Percy held my hand tightly, rubbing my palm with his thumb, and I smiled, ridiculously happy to be reunited with my boyfriend.
Behind me, I could hear Leo, Piper, and Grover getting to know Hazel and Frank. Octavian was hanging out in the back of the group, apparently sizing up the situation with cold, calculating blue eyes. I'd have to keep a close eye on him – I knew trouble when I saw it, and this kid fairly reeked of it.
Percy caught my eye as I was looking over my shoulder.
He mouthed, 'you okay?'
I smiled back and nodded, 'perfect'.
He matched my smile, putting his arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him as we walked along. I noticed out of the corner of my vision the frown Reyna was wearing, and how she glanced back and forth between Percy and Jason who was answering Piper's question about something. Something told me this was going to be a long day…