Disclaimer: I do not own PJO or Castle.

Chapter 18

Annabeth's POV

"So, what's this Gorgon's blood foolishness now?" I asked Percy, who was squished beside me in the back seat of Beckett's Crown Vic. I felt him shift uncomfortably

"It was a bargain..." he started softly. "With Phineas."

"The orange haired cartoon character?" Rick asked, he actually sounded serious.

"No." I said flatly, "Probably the old Roman prophet, Phineas. He talked took much about the future that he saw and so the Roman gods cursed him, by blinding him and making Harpies take his food."

"Oh, that Phineas..." Rick muttered, pretending he understood. I saw Beckett roll her eyes in the rear-view mirror and smiled.

I was still glaring at Percy. He shifted under my gaze and mumbled something about freeing harpies and getting an important location.

"Yes, I know you'd have a noble reason for it," I sighed, that's just who Percy was. "I'm just curious as to, you know, who chose their potion first. You or Phineas?"

After a long pause, Percy mumbled "Phineas." There was an awkward silence, that I took the liberty of breaking.

"No way, and you just took the other one? Why?! What if you'd died?!"

My outburst seemed to stop Percy from whispering inaudibly. "Well, Gaea said she'd spare me until I made it north..."

I interrupted again, trying not to sound like a crazy screeching harpy. "So you trusted Gaea?! Is that what you're telling me?!"

"I called her bluff," Percy said in a maddeningly calm voice. His green eyes met mine. "I had to, Annabeth."

I huffed and fell silent; I didn't have a counter-argument for that one.

"So, who is this Gaea person?" Beckett asked from behind the wheel. "You mentioned her earlier Annabeth?"

"She's the mother of the titans and the evilest being in existence," I muttered, grateful to have something to distract myself with.

"So we can't arrest her for double homicide," Beckett summed up between clenched teeth.

Nico chuckled. "I wish."

"No but she almost always has demigods working for her. You can arrest them," I suggested practically.

"And then we can deal with Gaea," Nico added.

"If Chiron gives the go ahead," Thalia reminded us.

We had had a hurried conversation with Chiron in the bathroom again updating him on the current events. He had said he'd keep a look out and that we should keep him informed. We had left Ryan and Espo at the precinct doing paperwork at Kate's orders.

Castle checked his phone. "Ok guys my mother is at her acting studio, and Alexis is off with her friends for the evening, so it'll just be us in the house."

"Good," Kate replied. "No distractions..."

Castle interrupted her. "So we should have enough chocolate left for hot chocolate all around."

"Castle," Kate reprimanded.

"Ok fine, hot chocolate with a little bit of coffee to get the juices flowing. Happy now?"

"You know that's not what I meant."

"So you don't want any of my world-famous spiked hot chocolate?" Castle asked seriously, a grin playing at the edges of his mouth. Beckett swatted him.

"I'll have her share," Percy piped up.

"Like she'd let you," Thalia replied.

Percy P.O.V.

Rick's apartment was really nice. Like I would live here.

The living room was full of art that even I could appreciate, as well as the laser-tag equipment in the corner which I eyed appreciatively before catching Rick's eye.

"Later," he mouthed, just before saying, "I was thinking to set you all up in the study, is that ok?"

"Sure," Annabeth replied.

His study was huge, with glass walls looking into the living room, shelves full of his books and others, and of course a picture of his mother, Aunt Martha, Alexis and Kate Beckett.

"I'll go make the hot chocolate, you guys just sit anywhere around the desk," Castle said as he walked out of the study again.

"You're desk is remarkably empty for a publishing writer," Kate called to him.

"Because you and Gates are keeping my nose to the grindstone at the Precinct," he called back before a loud crash came from the kitchen.

"I'll be back," she said. "You guys get started."

We pulled chairs around the table and got back out the papers we had been studying all day at the precinct.

"We need to look again at everywhere we saw Michael, and see if we can find any proof now of Gaea," Annabeth said, taking charge as usual

"That means any earth, dirt or terrestrial related 'accidents'" Thalia air-quoted the word, "and all demigod looking activity."

"Right, if it is Gaea, she may not have acted directly every time, but used the two demigods who shot at us," Annabeth added

"Ok let's get started," I said, pulling a stack of papers towards me.

Annabeth P.O.V.

I glanced at Percy again, half expecting him to throw down the papers, or be completely staring into space, as I had been expecting for the last half-hour. He was completely absorbed in the papers in from of him. And if you know Percy, that is just weird.

He suggested the timeline idea we had on the standing white board in front of us (that Rick had provided) to get a better idea of Michael and Gaea's movements.

As I watched him, he rose and added a dust storm that had almost suffocated several people in a town to the time line (in blue marker of course). Michael had been in that town just 3 days before.

"Clearly, she's following him," I pointed out.

"And she's getting closer each time," Percy added, highlighting the fact that last time she had stuck a city with a minor earthquake 5 days after Michael had passed through and made the whole city pleasantly sunny after weeks of rain.

He sat back down and got reabsorbed in the reports.

Nico glanced up at hardworking Percy and then at me, still watching him in disbelief.

Thalia added a report that 3 minors killed an old woman while they were operating a fork lift. 'The 3 minors, two boys and a girl are still at large', Thalia wrote.

Two days before in the same town, there was a boy who predicted the day's winning lotto numbers and gave most of the money to the woman who had given him shelter free for the night. I added Michael's position to the timeline: if that wasn't a son of Apollo, I don't know what was.

Nico put Michael in New York one month before his death.

Percy added Gaea there a day later after he read the last report.

He sat staring at the board while the rest of us gathered up the papers.

"If Michael was here a month before he died, why didn't he try and contact us sooner?" he asked. His tone made me glance up at his face.

He almost looked angry with himself. Now I understood the out-of character epic work enthusiasm. He felt guilty.

"It's not your fault Percy," I said softly, but he stood with a sigh and went closer to the board.

"So Gaea and her demigods, 2 boys and a girl were following him until here in New York. Then there are suddenly only the boy and the girl? Where did the other male demigod go?"

"Maybe that's the body we found in the park?" Thalia suggested. "Oliver."

"Ok," I picked up. "So Gaea and the three demigods follow him to New York. Then there are only two demigods. And when Michael tries to contact Percy..."

"They can't allow that," Nico finished. "Cuz they know we're the ones who finished her off last time."

"But we still find out about Michael, and Gaea," I continued. "And Oliver, and sniper 1 and 2, her male and female demigods, who she sends to make sure we don't find out anything else."

"Well she's a tad late on that count," Thalia quipped.

"But she's still going to try and stop us, so we need to be on our guard," I added.

I glanced at Percy. He hadn't spoken in a while and his brows were so knitted together his eyebrows looked connected.

"But we destroyed her!" he burst out finally. He turned to Nico and Thalia. "We watched her disappear! " He turned to me. There was anguish in his eyes. "All those demigods. So many demigods died that day and it was all for nothing?!" He was shouting now. The kitchen had gone silent. Percy fell heavily into a chair beside me.

"No, Perce, it wasn't." I said softly. I put my hand on his. "We stalled her until now." I glanced and Nico and Thalia. "It wasn't what we had expected," I looked back at Percy, "but it's enough."

I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back before giving a sigh. "We should probably call Chiron."

"And tell Kate," I added.

"Tell me what?" Kate replied form the door to the living room. She had a tray with 4 regular sized cups and a mug twice the size of all the others, all filled to the brim with hot chocolate that was still steaming, and marshmallows.

"Sorry I took so long," she added, as she handed each of us one of the regular sized mugs and took the large one for herself. Percy didn't let go of my hand but took his mug in his free hand and took a sip.

"I had to convince Castle not to make smorlets for dinner, since the chocolate and marshmallows were already out," Kate continued.

I nearly choked on my spiked hot chocolate, which was really good by the way. Like a cappuccino on chocolate overload, but not enough coffee to keep me awake all night.

But no, I would have no smorlets. I exchanged a glance with Percy and saw him crack half a smile at me.

"Make what?" Nico asked, cupping his warm mug in two hands.

"Smorlets?!" Percy asked with a grin and an attempt at nonchalance that anyone who didn't know him as well as I did would have fallen for. "I want one!"

"Of course you would," Beckett sighed, taking a sip form her mug as she set the tray on the floor of the study.

"Did I hear someone ask for a smorlet?!" Castle called from the kitchen. "We have enough eggs!"

"NO!' Kate and I replied simultaneously.

"Can I get a blue one?" Percy added, pointlessly.

Okay, so I went ahead and posted the next one, as you can see...
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