Chapter 13: Things Simultaneously Get Better and Worse


Okay, considering that he's the god of prophecy, Apollo's foresight is shitty.

A week.

A whole week.

Parked on my useless ass in the Olympian version of a hospital wing, feeling like I was dying either from the pneumonia or worse, boredom. There were times at Camp Half-Blood that I forgot that I was ADHD, and then things like this happened that made me want to punch babies. I couldn't even play video games to pass the time because my stupid wrist was sprained something awful.

Breathing, as it had been for the week before that, was difficult. Pneumonia makes it so fluid accumulates in your lungs. Gravity makes that fluid pool at the bottom of your lungs. Guess where the cells are that take oxygen from the air and dissolve it into your bloodstream? The bottom of your lungs. So, actually getting oxygen from breathing is way harder with pneumonia, which is why hospitals want you in a bed, lying down, with an oxygen mask. Guess who didn't figure on pneumonia and basically trashed the only oxygen tank in the facility? Your favourite god of prophecy and mine, Apollo. You'd think that would mean he would've seen this coming, but no.

Not to sound ungrateful or anything. He saved my life. He was putting up with me, and had been for a week straight. There aren't many people who can do that, particularly when I'm grouchy and irritable and bored. Apollo had been wonderfully patient with me, so I tried to shut up about the oxygen tank. After all, the whole water-in-place-of-oxygen thing worked out okay. It took a lot more effort than the oxygen tank would have, but at least I could breathe.

It was only when I had the water mask on that my throat healed up enough for speech. Each coughing fit tore my throat to shreds. At one point I'd been whining to Annabeth and she told me that it was probably a sign from the universe to shut up for once. Normally I would have been offended, but it was a good enough point at the time that I let it slide. That, and she was just looking out for me, because speech was part of what triggered the coughing fits in the first place.

The fever went down a little and bounced around the 101-102o range for the rest of the week. I still had hot and cold flashes and was generally miserable, but at least I didn't get dizzy from turning my head. I also did not talk gibberish or have hallucinations.

And that was part of what ate at me the most.

Annabeth was there for me every single day of it. She slept in the bed next to mine (I insisted that she wear a surgical mask to prevent her from catching it, what with pneumonia being contagious and all) and sent updates back and forth to Camp Half-Blood and my mom almost daily. She made me food and sat through all my whining. She stayed with me even though I wasn't awake very often, simply because being conscious was exhausting. If I could have fallen in love with her any more, I would have.

She wouldn't touch me anywhere but my hand, though. Wouldn't help me change clothes. Got a pale look on her face and left the room whenever Apollo or I mentioned a need for such a thing. If I reached out to touch her, she didn't flinch away, but whenever one of her hands would move towards me, she would pause and then yank it back.

I barely remembered the first few hours of my stay in the infirmary. My fever had been so high, I'd been delirious. They'd – quite literally – had to put me on ice just to make it go down to an acceptable range. I had been dying when they found me, my brain cooking from the heat. As such, the whole cataloguing of memories went a little awry and I had bupkis. Well, almost. Annabeth refused to tell me what happened, what I had done, what I had said, but the way she acted around me told me everything I needed to know.

I must have had some kind of… flashback. Like some kind of trauma victim in shock. I hated that. I was a hero, not a victim. This wasn't the way the world was supposed to work. I didn't want anyone's stupid pity, because I was going to beat this thing into submission. I didn't have post-traumatic stress disorder or anything like that. I wasn't crazy. I wasn't crying my eyes out or hiding under the bed and I knew what reality was perfectly well, thank you. But sometimes I got that scared look from Annabeth like she wasn't as sure about my sanity as I was, and that scared the living crap out of me. Whatever happened that I didn't remember, it must have been serious. I must have been full-on freaking out, thinking I was back with – nope, not thinking about that. No; if I had to prove to people that I was okay, I needed to get past it. Put it behind me. Couldn't dwell on it. I certainly wasn't going to go on about my feelings or dreams to anyone who wasn't a shrink.

The worst part was the uncertainty in her face. And the pain. I think she genuinely thought that I thought she was a threat. I knew Annabeth would never hurt me. I knew that. She loved me, and I saw that in every little look, every hesitant touch, every word she said to me. Even when she was telling me to shut up. Especially when she was telling me to shut up. I'd hurt her to make her think this way. Whatever I'd done or said, it had hurt her, and I couldn't begin to forgive myself for that. I'd caused Annabeth pain, and that was unforgiveable. I couldn't even remember having done it.

I tried to touch her, to show her that it was okay, that it wasn't going to freak me out. It had just been the delirium from earlier. She still avoided physical contact like the plague, unless it was hand-holding. She wouldn't go any further than that. I could understand not kissing me (ew, sick germs), but we used to be big on hugs and soft touches and just little stuff like that. Not anymore. And what was with ditching as soon as I tried to change clothes? She's seen me naked before (don't ask, because I'm not telling) and she'd never acted like she was scared of bare skin before. Most mornings, I went around camp in a bathing suit and nothing else, so it wasn't like people weren't used to me wearing precious little. Maybe it was the bruises, which were healing nicely but still clearly visible when the bandaging holding my ribs in place were unwound. Maybe they reminded her that I was fucking weak. That's what they said to me, at least. Maybe she hated seeing me as a victim every bit that I did.

I just wanted things to go back to normal. I wanted to go back home and breathe normally and then we could all pretend that this never happened.

Right, like that's healthy.


My brother had called a meeting of the Olympians. I wasn't stupid or naïve enough that I didn't know what the meeting was about. My brother was intent on having his revenge.

It had been a week, over the course of which Percy had been steadily improving, although he was still so weak that he could barely make it a few steps out of bed without needing to sit down almost immediately. Luckily, his ribs and wrist were healing up with no hitches. His illness could only be defeated with time and patience. But time might not be a thing we had.

I had spoken against Zeus. I had ranted and railed against him to his face. My brother was nothing if not a vindictive little shit. Because I had defied him, he would take it out on Percy, and now was his golden opportunity to do so. He was going to point a finger at me and say some sort of nonsense about how irresponsible I was, and how I was ruining everything, and how I'd bring civilisation crashing down around our ears like he usually did. Splendid. And then he'd find some way to blame this on Percy, or the relationship I had with him. Yes, most gods truly did love their children, but I was the only one to actively do something about it, which somehow translated as me breaking all the rules – the unwritten rules that no-one was under any obligation to obey in the first place.

Sure enough, ten minutes into the meeting, I'd rolled my eyes so many times I was surprised they didn't just give up and escape their sockets entirely.

"Olympians," Zeus began, "I have gathered you here today to discuss the grievous crimes that have been perpetrated in our midst." Next time I went out shopping, I'd get him one of those plastic tiaras that had 'drama queen' painted on it.

Anxious murmuring broke out immediately. Athena's face hardened as she looked towards me, staring with those piercing eyes of hers. Oh, yes, she definitely already knew. She knew the rules were ridiculous just as well as I did, but she would hardly pass up an opportunity to stick it to me. Ares looked more aggressive than usual, but didn't speak, which made me think it was defensive. He probably did something that actually deserved the 'grievous crime' title and didn't want to think he'd gotten caught. Hades looked delighted that somebody else was going to get it for once. Artemis rolled her eyes, knowing her father's penchant for drama. Apollo flashed me a concerned, guilty look. I might've glossed over the details of my exchange with his father when I told him. The poor boy looked like he had his hand caught in a cookie jar. Aphrodite plucked away at a split end. Demeter did her best to look interested in the proceedings, but by no means was. Hermes… was that a Nintendo DS? How had he smuggled that in Olympus?

"My fellow gods, we are all aware of our children, and the laws governing our involvement in their affairs," Zeus said. Hermes sat up straighter and began paying attention. Ever since Luke, he'd taken the issue of demigods very seriously. "We are not permitted to coddle our children, nor to live their lives for them, or defeat their enemies for them. We do not meddle. We keep our distance, and in doing so, protect the half-bloods and ourselves." Some gods nodded. Some looked uncomfortable. "My brother Poseidon has broken this most ancient of rules."

All eyes turned to me. Let them look. I had done nothing wrong.

"What have you to say for yourself?" Zeus demanded, eyes flashing.

"I have-"

Zeus cut me off. "Humans and demigods die; this is an unequivocal rule of the universe, and as gods we have no reason to meddle in that rule. You have blatantly ignored this fact and gone ahead anyway, interfering in the life of one Perseus Jackson beyond the acceptable limits. Far beyond."

"He was dying!" I said.

"He was mortal, and mortals die. It's what they do. Why should you care?" Zeus asked.

"He is my son, and just because I'm nowhere near as heartless as you-"

"My heart has nothing to do with this conversation. We have laws. We must not become too closely attached to our mortal offspring, and yet you have obviously broken that law. You interfered in the boy's life and then brought him here to Olympus for a full week, now." More murmuring broke out. A triumph smile bloomed on the faces of both Zeus and Athena. Maybe saving Percy hadn't angered too many, but keeping him in Olympus had probably tipped the scales for those who would have been on the fence.

"You are all aware he bears the curse of Achilles. Mortal hospitals cannot treat him," I said.

"He should have thought of that before jumping in the Styx then, hm?" Hades said. I could have punched him. "And besides, if he managed to get himself hurt despite the curse of Achilles, doesn't he deserve to die for such incredible incompetence?"

"That's a good point actually – what was so strong that it knocked the munchkin for two?" Ares asked. "Is it still kicking? Can I go fight it?"

"It is dead," I said shortly. "It was a demon of the new religion."

"Another transgression!" Zeus howled, pointing an accusing finger at me. I could think of a few choice things he could do with that finger. "We must never interact with those of the new religion! To break this law in addition? Surely you all agree that he must be punished."

"He only wanted to protect his family," Hera mused.

"And therein lies the problem! Mortal children bring nothing but trouble, causing chaos and rifts between gods, religions, and each other.

"Henceforth, no contact shall be made between gods and their mortal children outside of claimings."

(A/N): Next chapter's the last chapter, and then on to the sequel, which will probably be more of a oneshot that fixes an unresolved plotline about the Winchesters.

Percy is very critical of himself. Any hint of weakness about himself and he'll pick at that scab until it scars. He would definitely approach mental disorders in the worst way possible - that is to say, waffling back and forth between hating himself for having them in the first place, and ignoring their existence entirely. Just because his personality pops up so easily in my head, his part of the chapter went smooth like butter. Zeus is much harder to write, so his parts took FOREVER.