Hey! So this is the fourth installation of Ten Days of Percabeth. It's more dramatic and different than the rest. Maybe bordering cliché. I'm not sure about it. But I'm rather certain that if it'd happen to someone it'd happen to Percy and Annabeth. Enjoy!
Dedication: to a fry
Disclaimer: Me no own!
My Absolute Best
Percy had to time this exactly right or else everything was going to collapse around him and the dust would never settle.
"You have two weeks," Juno said. "That's surely enough time to complete this task."
"Yeah," Percy said. "Unless something goes horribly wrong- which I would like to inform you probably will. And even if your deadline was a year, I couldn't leave. Not now. Ask me next year, or the year after, or after that."
"Perseus, I understand what starting a family is like. Believe me. I'm the goddess of it-"
"But you're a bad goddess of family, and I'm kind-of going for being a good dad." Percy said.
Juno shot him a dark look before finishing her sentence. "-But the world is important as well."
Percy sighed. "Can't you get Jason to do it? I thought that was your favourite slave."
"He's deployed in Northern Africa with the air force," Juno said. "You know that."
"I'm back with the Navy in three months," Percy said raising his hands.
"Three," Juno said. "That's a lot. I'm asking for maybe a week of work. This is of extreme importance."
"Reyna's in the country."
"I dislike the daughter of Bellona."
"But you dislike me too."
"Not as much."
"She's on adoption leave for her dead sister's child- Nadia, I believe the baby is."
"Getting married in a week," Juno said. How she knew their calendars escaped –and at the moment didn't particularly interest, though it worried- Percy.
"What about Leo? He's driving across the Rockies on a motorcycle! That's something he can be excused from!" Percy said.
"But I can't have Valdez do it, his skills are all wrong," Juno said. "And don't you suggest any other heroes to me. It has to be you."
He'd been about to mention the –oh that's right- two camps full of demigods who were young and willing and definitely craving a quest like that one.
Percy groaned. "When are the fates going to decide that it's okay for gods to get their hands dirty?"
"You know what," Juno said. "I'll give you a second option, after all. I can incinerate you right now. Make your pick."
O-kay, she's in her Roman state for sure.
"I'll talk to Annabeth about it," Percy said. "You're the goddess of women," he quickly added once he saw her face harden in anger, "You can understand that she should get a say in this. C'mon. I missed half of it, and it's hard on her."
"Talk to her," she said. "But I want my answer, Perseus Jackson."
And with that Percy woke up.
At first he thought that it was just the will of the gods (well, goddess this time), but then he realised that Annabeth had moved and she was looking up at him. He swore that her eyes could see through his skin and to his soul.
"You know what sounds really good right now?" She asked quietly, her hair tumbling over a shoulder.
"What flavour?" Percy asked.
"Cookie dough," Annabeth said with a sheepish smile.
Percy swung his feet out of bed and took about ten minutes to just sit there and wonder if she'd give up. She ended up pushing him off the bed.
It was colder than Percy had thought it was, so he was thankful that he was wearing sweatpants. Then he opened the refrigerator and it just felt cruel as he scooped some ice cream into a bowl quickly. Four varieties were lined up on a shelf, and a few tiny Ben and Jerry's container were squeezed between the frozen peas and corn and soup and ice cube platters. Leo had been the world's happiest seven year old last time he'd swung by the apartment last week and found it all.
When he returned to their room, he sat down next to her and handed her the ice cream. She propped herself against him and ate.
"I'm glad you're home. I used to have to walk all the way to the kitchen when I wanted ice cream." Annabeth said. She smiled at him and he kissed her, her cold lips tasting like cookie dough.
Okay, she's got ice cream. She isn't getting happier than this anytime soon; tell her now.
Her stomach was swollen; he could see the blankets shift up. Part of Percy still panicked a bit when he saw that. The other part panicked hard.
He put a hand on her baby bump and she put her soft fingers over his.
"Hey, so, I had this dream." He said.
"If it's about the unborn child destroying the world, being born in the middle of a raging war or something in that genre, I don't want to know." Annabeth said.
"No, it's not that." He said. "Juno's got something she wants me to do." Annabeth put down her spoon and turned to look at Percy.
"This better include making sure the refrigerator is always full of ice cream."
"No, not that pleasant. Or easy. Or convenient. Or that I'm that willing to do. It's a quest."
"Someone stole her diadem and she's afraid that he/she/it will try to overtake her as queen of the heavens."
"Who is left in the mythological world that's powerful enough? We've been through the Titans, through the giants; what's left? After that comes the Bronze Age and –not that I think you know this- but that's very unthreatening to us since it was when the humans ruled."
"I don't know, I didn't get all the details, I mostly argued with her about not going." Percy said to stop her from rambling on about ages and Chaos.
"She's Juno." Annabeth shrugged like 'yeah, okay, fine.' "I got her to give me the chance to talk to you."
"I get to pick? Great! Don't go."
"I don't think that that's exactly what she meant," Percy said, "But I'll pass the message on."
Annabeth leaned her head against his shoulder. Suddenly the ice cream didn't appeal to her and she put it on the side table.
"I'm sorry," Percy said.
"It's not your fault. If I were a goddess, I'd be asking these favours from you, too." Annabeth said. "Actually, no, if I were a goddess I wouldn't be pregnant right now and so I would do it myself."
"Well, although not-pregnant herself –at least I hope not because that would just lead to more quests or another god to hate my guts- Juno doesn't have that initiative."
"She's not allowed to."
"I wish the fates functioned with democracy." Percy said. "Then I wouldn't have to keep going away and doing these things, away from you. I don't think I'll be able to say no with her. I mean, I'll argue. But I don't think it'll go really well."
Annabeth didn't say anything for a while. "That's alright."
"No it's not," Percy said. "But I'll come back in time, okay? I mean, there are still two weeks to go."
"Unless she's a preemie," Annabeth said softly.
"Yeah, unless she's a preemie," Percy said. "But I'm hoping she won't be."
"You just jinxed it, Seaweed Brain. Besides, you were a preemie. I know it's not genetic, but that just seems like the fate are giving us clues." Annabeth said.
"I'll make it quick," Percy promised. "I won't leave you when everything's about to change for us, okay? I won't. I'll be back. I promise Wise Girl, and I don't break my promises."
"Don't promise, because sometimes they're broken without consent. But just… do your absolute best."
"What if I promise to do my absolute best?"
Annabeth shoved his arm. "You're such a Seaweed brain."
"Well I'm glad we've established the things you love about me. Now eat your ice cream before it melts."
Percy rode the elevator to Olympus, his backpack over a shoulder. When he got to the top floor he considered setting fire to the place. But Annabeth would kill him because it'd taken her forever to finish up the design.
Some minor gods passed him and whispered. He didn't see anyone he recognised until he crossed Athena, sitting on a bench pouring over a book. At that moment she looked so much like Annabeth. They both looked vulnerable when they read books, and somewhat giddy. As if anytime the words and characters could pierce through their hearts and steal their souls, as if the locations could gobble them up and the plot twists could bend their minds into knots.
But she looked up when he passed her.
"Perseus Jackson?" She asked.
"Lady Athena," he said bowing. Since Annabeth had told him she was pregnant, he'd lived in fear of his mother and law and what she might possibly do to him. But now he was mentally dead and grumpy and the idea that he could spend the rest of his life as a shrew didn't cross his mind.
Her eyes were on his backpack. "How is Annabeth?"
"She's doing okay. She's got a stock of ice cream big enough to feed a small Pacific nation and a pile of documentaries to watch." She was staying at home now; traveling to work wasn't worth the trouble anymore. One more reason Percy didn't want to leave; she was home alone. He had Grover checking on her every now and then, and of course his mom was fussing over her first grandchild and her daughter in-law.
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"Juno," Percy said as if it explained everything.
To Athena it did and she shut her book.
"What is going on?" She asked.
"Oh, well you know the gods. Can't keep track of their items of power, don't have a Lost-and-Found bin, and so I guess Zeus, Apollo, Ares and Hades passed the memo that I was as good at tracking these things down." He said. Sarcasm was dripping through every word.
Athena didn't look pleased, her eyes narrowed.
"Very well then," she said. "Make it quick. Annabeth…"
"I know," Percy said annoyed. As if it was humanely possible for him to just forget that his wife was pregnant with their first daughter; a goddess of wisdom should know better. He walked away.
The gods had a bad perception of time. For them, it wasn't as if it took away from the lives of mortals to go hunt down weapons and monsters and rogue or underage demigods.
But demigods had an over glorifying perception of time. They loved it. They clung onto it, they fought for it, they begged for it. Probably because they were shown so frequently and so suddenly how little of it they might have, but it was part of demigod nature to dream of doing big things. Their soul wanted, the fates didn't.
Time was a touchy subject, and Percy didn't like wasting it on the gods.
All he remembered was paint chips.
It sounded stupid; but paint chips.
A few of them were taped onto the wall when he'd gotten back home from deployment, after hours spent unloading the ship and the final formation and generally just him being impatient because he'd spotted Annabeth in the crowd.
"I cleaned up this room," Annabeth said. "Don't worry- Jason came in and helped with the heavy lifting."
"Good," Percy said. Nothing had been bought for the room, there were only a few paint chips tacked onto the wall.
"Looks pretty empty," he said an arm around her. She laughed.
"I wanted to buy stuff with you," she said. "We both made this baby; we're both painting and decorating and finding things for it. I just looked and made lists and found paint chips."
He read the colours. Mayan blue, Greek green, grape green, jonquil, peach, seashell pink (which was actually orange for the record), Alice blue…
"I like the blue," he said.
"Of course you do," Annabeth rolled her eyes.
After the paint chips he remembered the baby room; after they'd shopped and picked out colours and baby toys and he'd wrestled with instructions and assembled furniture (maybe with a few calls to Leo).
The walls were pale blue, and there was a tree in wall sticker form in the corner, near the changing table. A hooting owl was living in the center of it. The crib was on the same wall as the window ('so the light doesn't wake her up' Annabeth said) and above it, GEN was spelled out in letters decorated with butterflies. They'd let their mortal parents pick the name, so Genevieve Mira Jackson it was.
There was a pale orange chair certified comfy by Annabeth, fuzzy blankets with cute cartoon owls on them (because the rest of the Argo II's crew were, of course, hilarious), a nightlight plugged into the wall, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were set up, a dresser, a bookshelf, a tiny baby swing, little baskets filled with the amount of toys and clothes and blankets one got if one was a demigod with an extensive camp family who all worshipped one's unborn child…
It was perfect, and ready, and just waiting for the baby.
Percy and Annabeth were sitting propped up against the wall. They'd just finished hanging framed pages of children's books on the wall (not his idea) and they were munching on nachos and dip.
"Genevieve Mira," she said looking at the letters over the crib. "They did well."
"Especially considering your dad suggested Shelly."
"It was a pun."
"I'm never sure with your father," Percy said dipping a chip in the guacamole.
"Hey!" She said punching his arm, a smile on her face. "And it's not like it was my stepmother who suggested 'Paige'. Paige the legacy of Athena, they are so bad…"
He pulled her closer and put a hand on her belly.
"Is she still kicking a lot?"
Annabeth nodded. "It's like she's ADHD already."
"Fantastic," Percy said. "That'll be fun."
She smiled and put her head against his chest. He pushed her bangs from her face and stroked her hair.
"Do you think we'll take care of her well?"
"If she's ADHD?"
"No, Seaweed Brain, in general. Like, can we keep a baby safe? Can we keep a baby happy?" She asked.
Percy didn't know what to reply, because he hadn't gotten answers from himself yet.
"I think that we'll do okay," Percy said.
"Okay?" Annabeth snapped, sitting up and turning around to look at him. "Okay? That's all you're planning on- being okay?"
"I didn't mean it that way!" Percy said. Every time she got mad, it was a race against hormones to see who would win her over first. If he lost, that was that, he was sleeping on the couch and depending on other people for communication. "I mean… it'll take some getting used to, and we'll get better as we go along, and it'll take me forever because I'll be in and out… I think we'll be okay, then we'll be great, then we'll be excellent."
Annabeth was satisfied with this answer because she leaned back against him.
"I don't know what 'okay' parenting is. I don't know how I'll work my way up." She said.
Damn it: hormones might make a comeback.
"You're a child of Athena, Wise girl. You don't have to know. You just have to do." Percy said. "And for what it's worth, I'll… I'll do my absolute best. I'm not sure what that is, but you'll see. It'll be there."
Percy groaned and sat up. My absolute best.
He wasn't sure where he was until a few seconds later. Then he remembered that he was in Khione's palace because, of course, she'd turned on the Olympians again and she was the one with the stupid diadem, of course. She'd knocked him out and now…
Oh gods. He'd had ten days before Annabeth's due date last time he'd seen a calendar, before his knock out. He started panicking, but he calmed himself. No. Panicking would not help.
Piper let herself into the apartment and found Annabeth in the kitchen, propped against the counter with a packed bag at her feet.
"Hey," she said approaching her friend.
Annabeth looked up.
"This can't be happening," she said.
"You're eight months pregnant, Annabeth, it's okay," she said trying to be reassuring.
"He's not- he's not back yet," she said.
"It's okay," Piper said taking her arm. "It's okay; we'll find a way to contact him. I have Rachel in the backseat of my car, and Reyna on speed dial: we can do this."
Annabeth gasped and she shook her head, shaking.
"Hey, the car's just outside, come on babe." Piper said softly.
Percy put his hands against the wall of the chamber he was in. It was so cold, it felt like a bite and he took his hand off quickly. It looked like one of those quinces; a pile of snow frozen over and dug out from the inside.
If it was… Percy had made one at camp with Grover, Will, Jake and Beckendorf once. But it'd crumbled down because the walls were so thin. Maybe...
He reached into his pocket and found Riptide. It was a little bonus his father had added onto the magic sword after the Titan war. Most of the mythological world had 'forgotten' that Riptide always returned to him, and the traces of its magic were hidden. He could even sneak it past Terminus, though Jason and Reyna had hated it when he did that.
He smiled and drew his sword. He aimed for a spot Annabeth would've considered weak and smashed through it with Riptide.
Piper and Rachel were around her, trying to distract her while they waited for the doctor to come. Annabeth felt like she was going to cry, and it wasn't even like she'd pushed or been into labour for a while.
His foot got lodged between two blocks of falling snow. He could have dug himself out from the debris as well as a professional, but since he couldn't work with this, he was stuck.
Annabeth's eyes were shut. Piper squeezed her hand in comfort.
"You're okay, you're okay." She said.
Annabeth didn't want anything to do with it. She winced as a contraction took hold of her.
He lit matches and tried to melt the ice above him. It was working, but not well enough. He had to get out of here. He knew where the diadem was, he knew how to get there, and he knew how to get out. Blackjack wasn't far off, and his cell phone was there so he could check the date. Also end his stupid quest right there and then.
He used up his last match and out of nowhere all the ice trapping his foot regrew.
"Oh that's low," he complained.
Eventually he figured out that he could use his water powers to change the state of water.
"It's been ten hours hon, you okay?" The nurse asked.
Annabeth nodded and her shoulders stiffened as she was hit by another contraction.
"You're great," Rachel said.
"Did Reyna reach Percy yet?" Annabeth asked.
Piper shook her head. "Sorry. She's still trying via IM, cell phone…"
Annabeth closed her eyes again, just in time for another contraction. Oh gods, it was coming too quickly.
He rushed down the hallway of the palace and made a hard right, slipping on a sheet of ice and slamming into the wall.
He kept going and burst into a room so cold, his instincts wanted to make him run right back out.
He snaked through a path of icicles dripping down, nearly touching the ground. Every hair on his body was raised, and every inch of him demanded he go to Florida or Hawaii or Cuba right that minute.
He made his way to the back of the room and saw Hera's diadem. Khione was trying to change it, layering it with frost, letting it gestate in a sphere of ice, fogging up the metal. But it still looked enough like Hera's diadem, so it wasn't anything the goddess couldn't fix herself. And even if she couldn't, it wasn't Percy's problem anymore.
Percy slammed Riptide into the ice sphere, shattering it into a million pieces. He grabbed the diadem just as the alarm system went off, and ever icicle turned into a frosty warrior.
"You're nearly there," the nurse told Annabeth. "You'll start pushing in about one more hour at this rate. It's a long and slow labour, but it's looking pretty steady, dear."
Annabeth shut her eyes. "Not until my husband gets here," she said.
Piper and Rachel both swore in their minds.
Boiling water filled the room and the ice warriors were cracking inside like ice cubes, and becoming smaller. Their movements were flimsy, whereas Percy was at home, and perfectly capable to swordfight.
Rachel and Piper were twisting their hands and talking to Reyna over the phone.
"I keep trying, but he just doesn't have his phone on him and he's somewhere where IM's don't go," she told them. "I'm two seconds away from going to get him myself."
"No," Piper said. "He'll… eventually he'll turn around. He's Percy. He always does."
She looked to Rachel for confirmation, but the oracle couldn't tell her a thing.
"Whatever the case," Reyna said, "Make sure that Annabeth understands that whether he's there or not, she has to listen to the doctors. Just in case. That's the absolute best thing to do right now."
He made his way to the back, Riptide in one hand and the diadem in another. In other times he'd go and kick Khione's butt for betraying the gods after they gave her a second chance, but time was pushing against him and he had to make sure he had enough of it.
"Annabeth," Piper said sitting next to her. "I know you don't like the idea, and neither does anyone… but if Percy doesn't show up on time, you're still going to have to push."
"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "Because he will. He always does, he always will."
"Annabeth," Piper tried to reason. "How do you know this time?"
"I know him, Piper McLean." Annabeth said. "He promised me his best, that's what I'm getting. He'll be here."
She had no good news to report to the nurse.
He whistled and summoned Blackjack. He showed up soon.
Long-time no see, boss. Nice face.
"Nice sass," Percy said climbing up. He reached to the saddle bag and pulled out his cellphone as Blackjack rose into the sky.
Five missed texts and twenty missed calls all from… Reyna. Shoot, what was going on?
Then he checked the date and oh… oh shoot. Five days left… but that meant… Annabeth's gut feeling about the baby coming early…
"Blackjack, get us to Olympus as quickly as you possibly can and I will buy you a bag of sugar cubes." Percy said wounding his hands in his stallion's mane. "Now."
Annabeth gripped onto the bars of her hospital bed. The contractions were getting really regular and intense.
Come on Seaweed Brain. You promised your absolute best. Your best can nail a wedding on time, wearing a tie and everything, after being summoned to the Underworld and attacked by an Empoussa, let's go. She pleaded again and again, as if Percy was a god and she could reach him that way.
Blackjack landed on Olympus and Percy grabbed the nearest godling and demanded to see Hera. The diadem floated out of his hands and went to go find the queen for him. He let go of the terrified godling jogged after it, sometimes even passing it.
"Oh, come on!" He complained loudly.
"It's a little rusty Perseus Jackson, don't get angry at it." A voice said. The voice was way too calm for Percy's taste and the amount of energy zooming through his veins.
He spun around and saw Hera.
"I must say, it was a job well done though I had doubts at some points," she said holding out her hand as the diadem lazily floated back. "Getting knocked out for days? Not your smoothest move, son of Poseidon."
"Look lady, I don't have time for this." Percy said. "Annabeth's having the baby right now, and I can name two gods right off the bat who would be ticked off if I didn't get there in time because of your quest, and it's not like I can run that fast."
Hera's eyebrows narrowed and she was about to say something.
"I mean, Athena, Poseidon, Aphrodite, possibly Demeter, Apollo if he's in the mood, definitely Artemis…" Percy started.
"You forgot me in that list, Percy Jackson. Really, you think I don't care? She's about to enter the second stage of labour, and she'll be really happy to see you."
"Also I need to know that Khione won't come after me, because I can't get close to Annabeth if she might get hurt." Percy said quickly so she'd wait.
"Naturally," Hera said. "I'll deal with the Snow Pest myself Percy. Thank you, and bless your child."
With a snap of the goddess' fingers, Percy was gone.
The door was open and Percy thanked the nurse who'd brought him there and ran in.
Annabeth's eyes were shut tight, she was sweating and her hair was packed up over her head with a clip, curls falling around her face. Piper was with her, holding her hand, and Rachel was in the corner trying to channel prophecies judging by the way she was rubbing her temples and muttering under her breath.
"Annabeth," he said.
Her eyes shot open and everyone turned around. She nearly burst into tears.
"Of course," he said walking up to her. He put his arms around her and kissed her forehead. "I'm sorry I'm late. I did my absolute best to get here on time, but I got a little side-tracked by the whole world."
Annabeth laughed though it sounded more out of relief. "Shut up Seaweed Brain, you're here now." She winced at the last word and reached for the hand Percy held out for her.
Rachel and Piper excused themselves, and Annabeth had to start pushing five minutes later.
Beating fate by a fifteen minute marge.
He ran his fingers down her back as Annabeth held her close. She was tiny, the size of a pop bottle, resting against Annabeth's chest. Wispy black hair covered her head and she was bundled up and sleeping.
He kissed Annabeth's cheek again and she turned for a proper kiss on the lips.
"You look as exhausted as I do, Seaweed Brain," she said with a tired smile. "I don't want to hear about it though, okay? One showstopper is enough for today, and I pick her."
"I'd pick her over anything," Percy said.
There was a knock at the door and the nurse was smiling at them like they were cute or something.
"You have visitors," she said.
"Oh," Annabeth said. She looked at Percy. "Okay."
Behold the giddy grandparents standing in the doorframe, smiling shyly.
"Rachel told us it was safe to come up," Sally said. "And... well, we were impatient."
Annabeth looked way too exhausted to have visitors (twenty-two hours of labour was not to be messed with), but she'd given the okay and was nodding as Sally, Paul, Frederic and Susan came closer. "Come in," Percy said.
"So this is Genevieve?" Frederic said. "She's…"
"She's beautiful," Sally finished with a smile.
"She is," Susan and Paul nodded. Annabeth got a kiss on the forehead from her dad.
"Well, we did our absolute best." Percy said.
Annabeth turned to look at him and smiled like 'did you seriously just make that joke Seaweed Brain?'
At that moment Gen woke up and wasn't too happy about seeing daylight.
"See what your bad jokes do?" Annabeth said readjusting Genevieve and herself so that she could hold her better.
Percy kissed her and ignored the confused looks. He'd made it back on time, the most gorgeous baby girl on earth in the most gorgeous woman on earth's arms was his daughter, they were safe from monsters for at least as long as they were in the hospital, and they'd manage to be for the rest of their lives because that was how they worked. This was the happiest day of his life, and it'd take more than four confused mortals -or immortals as a matter of fact, to ruin it.