NOTE: Sorry if you got this chapter in your e-mail twice. I uploaded it a few days ago and it deleted for some reason so I had to re-upload it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson
Chapter 16: My Big Fat Greek Mouth
Annabeth was either a genius or incredibly optimistic.
"It's never going to work." I said as we climbed into the back of the cab.
Annabeth hushed me, and put on an air of confidence. The Cabby was pressing buttons on the counter. Annabeth leaned forward, "Los Angeles, please."
As I suspected the cabby blinked, and looked at us through his rear view mirror, chewing on the end of his cheap cigar, "That's three hundred miles. For that, you gotta pay up."
"You accept casino debit card?"
The cabby shrugged, "Some of 'em. Same as credit cards. I gotta swipe 'em through first."
Annabeth handed him the green Lotus card and he swiped it through the machine. We watched as the meter machine rattled and then the infinity symbol popped up. I raised both my eyebrows, extremely conscious of my own Lotus Cash card in my back pocket, which I was definitely going to keep.
The cigar dropped out of the cabby's mouth, "Where to in Los Angeles...uh, Your Highness?"
I snorted and Annabeth straightened with a small smirk, "The Santa Monica pier." She said, and I remembered that Percy had to speak with his dad, "Get us there fast and you can keep the change."
I wished she hadn't said that. The taxi had turned into something of a death trap as we zoomed through the desert.
I began thinking again. Most about our stop in Vegas. I remembered about the truck with the animals, it had said it was just making a stop in Vegas. But where would they be heading after that? San Diego? Or maybe all the way to LA. But Ares had said it was heading to Vegas. Or maybe he just wanted us to get off there...
Percy spoke about another dream he'd had before the casino that he was having troubles remembering. Of a man talking about their quest to a master.
I immediately knew that the man was Luke. Percy had said that he'd recognized the voice, but he couldn't remember who it was now. But the so-called master. Was it possible that Luke was working with Hades after all?
"There was a name..." Percy frowned, "A name other than My Lord...something specific, like a title."
"The Silent one?" Annabeth suggested. "The Rich One? Both of those are names of Hades."
"Those seem a bit friendlier then what I've been calling him." I grumbled under my breath.
"Maybe..." Percy mumbled, but I could tell he wasn't convinced.
"That throne room sounds like Hades'." Grover pointed out, "That's the way it's usually described."
Percy shook his head, "Something's wrong... The throne wasn't the main part of the dream. And that voice from the pit...I don't know. It just didn't feel like a god's voice."
Annabeth stiffed in her seat.
Percy looked at her nervously, "What?"
"Oh..." She swallowed, "Nothing. I was just- No, it has to be Hades. Maybe he sent this thief, this invisible person, to get the master bolt, and something went wrong..."
"I-I don't know." Her voice shook. "But if he stole Zeus' symbol of power from Olympus, and the gods were hunting him, I mean, a lot of things could go wrong. So this thief had to hide the bolt, or he lost it somehow. Anyway, he failed to bring it to Hades. That's what the voice said in your dream, right? The guy failed. That would explain what the Furies were searching for when they came after us on the bus. Maybe they thought we had retrieved the bolt."
Percy frowned, "But id I'd already retrieved the bolt, why would I be travelling to the Underworld?"
"Blackmail." both me and Grover said at the same time.
Percy looked at us, "You two have spent too much time together. You're a bad influence on him."
"Me!" I scoffed.
"Yes, you!" Percy joked, before looking serious again, "But the thing in the pit said it was waiting for two items. If the master bolt is one, what's the other?"
"Your soul?" I guessed.
Percy rolled his eyes, "Yeah, thanks for that."
I shrugged, "I dunno, that's what the thing said. 'Hades will have your soul'."
Percy flinched as the memory came back to him as well. It didn't exactly give me warm fuzzy feelings as well, but I didn't see any of the others throwing out guesses.
Percy looked over at Annabeth with furrowed brow, "You have an idea what might be in that pit, don't you?" He asked, "I mean, if it isn't Hades."
"Percy..." Annabeth bit her lip, "Let's not talk about it. Because f it isn't Hades...No, it has to be Hades."
But it wasn't, and I knew that. But the further we went on this quest the less sense everything made. Luke didn't have the bolt. Hades didn't have it. We didn't have it and there was a mysterious pit monster talking to Luke.
Could Luke be working with someone else? They'd never said so in the movie, never given any indication that he had help. But the more I think about it...Luke was good, but he couldn't be that good, could he?
"The answer is in the underworld." Annabeth said, looking like she was trying to convince herself more than us, "You saw spirits of the dead, Percy. There's only one place that could be. We're doing the right thing."
Then she spent the next hour or so talking about several different ways we could sneak into the Underworld. I couldn't help but point out that we needed to find the actual entrance still, and Annabeth shot me a look that said I was clearly not helping.
But I knew we were all waiting for something to go wrong. For some monster to attack, or the cab to break down. So I was rather surprised when the cabbie pulled up at the beach in Santa Monica, where he took the green card and sped off.
I wrinkled my nose at the smell of thick smog, but other than that it was beautiful. End of June, the beach was full of surfers and beach volleyball, and women that made me self-conscious.
We walked right down to the water, standing there and looking out at the ocean.
"What now?" Annabeth asked.
The sun was setting, giving everything a sort of yellow-y glow. If we weren't strapped for time I would have enjoyed it. The war evening air, the breeze off the ocean. But right now I was all too aware of how little time we had left.
Percy started to walk into the water.
"Percy?" Annabeth frowned, "What are you doing?" He didn't stop, just kept going out. The water seemed to be helping him along rather than slowing his efforts. Annabeth wrinkled her nose, "You know how polluted that water is? There's all kinds of Toxic chemicals and-" She stopped as Percy's head sucked below the water.
"Brilliant." I grumbled, I word I'd picked up James. "Now what?"
Annabeth ran her hands through her blond curls, "I dunno. It's not like we can go after him."
We sat in the sand and watched the sun slowly set. I knew that Percy could breathe under water but all the same I felt my stomach clench as he waited for him to resurface.
And eventually he did. He came to shore, his clothes dry like he'd never gone in there. He quickly told them about his meeting with a sea spirit, then he pulled something out of his pocket.
They looked at me and I cleared my throat waving them off. It was the freaking pearls. Four of them in his hands. At least we had an escape route if things got ugly.
All I could remember from the underworld in the movie was a lot of fire, lightning, and angry gods. All in all it seemed like a shitty time, and i was not looking forward to it.
Annabeth looked at the pearls with a frown, "No gift comes without a price."
And the price was that there wasn't enough. There would be five of us if you included his mom, and there was only four beads.
"They were free." Percy shrugged.
Annabeth shook her head, "No...There is no such thing as a free lunch. That's an ancient Greek saying that translated pretty well into America. There will be a price. You wait."
We took the bus into west hollywood, showing the address we'd gotten from Medusa to the bus driver, but he'd never heard of it.
Unfortunately though, he did recognize Percy.
"You remind me of somebody I saw on TV." He frowned, "You a child actor or something."
"Uh..." Percy froze, "I'm a stunt double...for a lot of child actors."
"Oh!" The bus driver grinned, "That explains it."
Percy let the air come out of his lungs in a 'woosh', and then we sat down.
The so-called 'DOA recording studios' must be enchanted or something, because we couldn't seem to find it anywhere. We asked around, but nobody seemed to have heard him. We passed an appliance store which was showing Barbara Walter's with what seemed to be Percy's step-dad. Watching the interview had nearly given Percy an aneurism, so we decided to move on.
But not before it showed a picture of us standing with Ares at the diner in Denver, which was good news for us. They probably thought we were still there, so far we'd given no signs of being in LA.
it was dark now, and I was starting to get nervous. Monsters were on things, but LA wasn't the best place to be outside after dark. We walked past bums and wanna be gangsters who watched us with beady eyes. I think our smelly and ratty attire was the only reason we didn't get shanked. We probably looked like one of them.
But our luck wasn't good enough to last.
Percy stopped and I scowled. Idiot.
Within seconds we were surrounded by a group of kids. I had to hide my smirk as my twenty year old brain came to life. They were cute, they had their own little 'Gang' and everything. But my twelve-year-old brain was realizing that this could end very badly.
The leader pulled out a switch blade and I rolled my eyes. Someone having faced monsters and gods made this little kid a bit less scary.
"Put that away Richy Rich, before you hurt yourself."
"Don't think I won't hit a girl." He sneered at me.
"And don't think I won't hit a twelve-year-old brat you doesn't mind his own business!"
"Why you little-"
But before he could do anything I balled up my fist and punched him in the face. Of course I was an idiot, and didn't know the first thing about punching. The kid went down, but I heard a could 'crunch' come from my hand and I yelped.
"Run!" Percy said, grabbing my other arm and we ran down the street. Annabeth and Grover followed as we ran around a sharp corner.
"There!" Annabeth pointed.
It was the only store with lights on.
"Crusty's Water Bed Palace." Grover read.
"Doesn't matter." I shook my head, "Inside, now."
We pushed out way inside and hide behind one of the water bed's, looking out the glass Windows to see if the mob of kids were still running after us.
But there was nothing.
"I think we lost them." Grover panted.
We all jumped and turned around.
I wrinkled my nose, and If my hand wasn't in so much pain I would have made some sort of comment. HIs skin was sickly and grey and he wore one of those seventies suits with the shirts unbuttoned half way. Like some kind of seventies pimp.
"I'm Crusty." He grinned, his teeth dark yellow.
Percy cleared his throat, "Sorry to barge in. We were just, um, browsing."
"You mean hiding from those no-good kids!" Crusty mumbled, glaring outside, "They hang around every night. I get a lot of people in here, thanks to them. Say, you want to look at a water-bed."
Percy started to shake his head but Crusty grabbed his shoulder and yanked him up, pulling him into the next room.
Annabeth and Grover quickly followed, and I trailed behind, cradling my hand to my chest. It was definitely broken, and already starting to swell up.
In the back room there were dozen's of water-bed, and some of them actually quite nice if I was the water-bed type.
"This is my most popular model." Crusty said looking at a bed with lava lamps in the headboard, "Million hand massage. Go on, try it out. Shoot, take a nap. I don't care. No business today, any-way."
Percy shook his head, "Um...I don't think."
But Grover looked thrilled, "Million hand massage!" And he jumped on the bed, "Oh, you guys! This is cool!"
"Hmm." Crusty pursed his lips, "Almost, almost."
"Almost what?" Percy asked, before he walked back over to me. "You okay?" He asked in a lowered voice. I nodded. It hurt like a son of a bitch, but nothing seemed out-of-place. There was nothing for it but ti ice it and wrap it up.
Crusty turned to Annabeth, "Do me a favour and try this one over here, honey." He grinned, "Might fit."
Annabeth let him leader her over to other bed before frowning, "But what-Hey!"
I turned over to see that Crusty had pushed Annabeth down on the bed. Faster than we could think he snapped his fingers and yelled "Ergo!"
My eyes widened as roped sprang from the bed, wrapping around Annabeth's arms, and legs, pinning them to the bed,
The next thing I knew Crusty had grabbed my arm and then a knife. I screamed as he pinned unbroken up against the wall, then stabbed. But looking up I saw that he'd only pinned my sweater. I yanked but I wasn't going anything. I lifted my other hand, meaning to remove the knife, but I yelped.
Oh, right. My other hand was broken.
I looked over at Percy nervously. He was looking between me and Annabeth and Grover. They seemed to be in a worse position than me. I was trapped, but unharmed.
"N-not c-c-cool." Grover's voice vibrated from the water-bed.
Crusty looked down at Annabeth, then turned to Percy and grinned, "Almost, darn it."
Percy tried to walk away, but crusty reached out and grabbed his neck, "Whoa, kid. Don't worry. We'll find one for you and the girl in a sec."
"The girl, is right here you know." I snapped, yanking my pinned arm with all my strength, but the knife was in there good. I started to try and rub my seater against the knife, hoping t cut it or rip it, but it was taking a while.
"Let my friends go." Percy demanded, his scary eyes coming back.
Crusty smiled, "Oh sure I will. But I got to make them fit first."
"What do you mean?"
"All the beds are exactly six feet, see? Your friends are too short. Got to make them fit."
I suddenly felt nauseous as I looked over at the ropes, my eyes wide. Oh gods...
"Can't stand imperfections..." Crusty tutted, "Ergo!"
Two more ropes came out, wrapping around their armpits and ankles. Annabeth's eyes widened in horror as she understood what was about to happen.
"Percy..." I warned him, in case he hadn't already figured it out. Who knew, he might not have. He was dense sometimes.
"Don't worry." Crusty grinned, "These are stretching jobs. Maybe three extra inches on their spines. They might even live."
I shook my head. No way was it gonna be just three inches. Annabeth would need twice that and I'd need almost a full foot.
"Now," Crusty turned to Percy, "why don't we find a bed you like. Then I can help the young lady find something. I have just the thing for her."
"Percy!" Grover cried as his ropes got tighter.
But Crusty still had his hands wrapped around Percy's throat. I was pinned to the wall, and the knife wasn't doing much to my clothes. I wondered if it was enchanted or something, because the sweater and thin and crappy, it should have ripped by now.
"Your real name's not Crusty, is it?" Percy asked, stalling for time.
"Legally, it's Procrustes."
"The stretcher." Percy winced. I didn't know who he was, but I didn't like the sound of that name.
"Yeah." Crusty frowned, "But who can pronounce Procrustes? Bad for business. Now 'Crusty', anybody can say that."
"You're right. It's got a good ring to it."
I wanted to groan. Percy was going to try to outwit the giant. I mean, I could understand Annabeth trying to do it, but Percy?
We were all going to die.
Crusty perked up, "You think so?"
"Oh absolutely. And the workmanship on these beds? Fabulous!"
"I tell my customers that. Every time. Nobody bothers to look at the workmanship. How many built-in Lava lamp headboards have you seen?"
"No too many."
"Percy!" Annabeth snapped, "What are you doing?"
"Don't mind her." Percy rolled his eyes, "She's impossible."
Annabeth growled and threw her head back on the bed. I could see the strain on her body already, it made me sick just watching it.
"All my customers are. Never six feet exactly. So inconsiderate. And then they complain about the fitting."
"What do you do if they're longer than six feet?"
"Oh, that happens all the time. It's a simple fix."
Finally he let go of Percy's neck, obviously no longer thinking him a threat, and he moved around the desk and pulled out a huge doubled sided axe. I couldn't help the squeak that escaped me.
"Ah…" Percy swallowed, "Sensible."
"I'm so glad to come across an intelligent customer!"
Annabeth had turned white, and was shaking from the strain, and Grover was making unpleasant sounds.
"Percy..." I whispered.
"So crusty." Percy said, her voice coming out quicker, "Does this one really have dynamic stabilizers to stop wave motion?"
"Absolutely, try it out!"
"Yeah, maybe I will. But would it work even for a big guys like you? No waves at all?"
Oh, this was brilliant. A bit late, but still brilliant.
He flopped onto the mattress without another word, "No waves. See?"
The roped wrapped around the giant and pressed him into the bed. Percy let out a breath of relief and ran over to me, yanking the knife of out the wall. I let my arm drop and he pressed the knife into my hand, pointing to Annabeth and Grover.
I ran over and started to cut the ropes, which was harder with my left hand. Once I had free'd Grover, who scrambled off the bed onto the floor.
I started on Annabeth's ropes, keeping on eye fixed on Percy.
"Centre him just right." Percy commanded and the ropes did the rest of the work.
"No!" Crusty yelled, "Wait! This is just a demo."
Percy uncapped his sword, and I could see Crusty's eyes widen at the sight of the celestial bronze sword. "A few simple adjustments..."
"You drive a hard bargain! I'll give you thirty percent off on selected floor models."
"I think I'll start with the top." I pulled the rope off Annabeth and yelped her up.
"No money down! No interest for six months!"
And then Percy swung the sword. it didn't go all the way through his neck, which was probably a good thing. They didn't need another head as a spoil of war. Percy had already pissed the gods off enough as it was.
Percy sighed and looked up from the dust pile to Annabeth, grinning, "You look taller."
"Very funny." Annabeth glared, "Be faster next time."
"I can't believe that worked." I gapped at Percy.
He chuckled and recapped his sword, "Did you ever doubt me?"
"Yes." I nodded, "A few times."
Percy snorted, then moved over to a bulletin board behind Crusty's desk. He pressed his hand against an orange flier before grinning, "Come on."
"Give us a minute." Grover mumbled from his place on the floor, "We were almost stretched to death."
"Then you're ready for the underworld." Percy sighed, "It's only a block from here."
"Fantastic, "I groaned, walking over to a desk and looking through it. This was a business, and Crusty had been a pretty serious business owner. And every business must have... "Ah ha!"
I pulled out the first aid kit and threw it open. digging through it I found a tensor bandage and some wrap around gauze. I wrapped on the gauze, taping it, before wrapping the tensor bandage around it and pinning it in place.
"Where'd you learn how to do that?" Percy asked.
I admired my handiwork. not amazing, but it would do. Annabeth handed e an ambrosia square who I ate slowly. It numbed the pain in my hand, "I was on the basketball team in high school. I jammed my finger more than a few times."
I expected them to leave it at that, but all three of them blinked at me.
"What?" I asked.
"High School?" Percy asked me, confused.
Oh shit, oh...fuck.
"Yeah." I tried to play it off cool, but inwardly I was screaming. "It was called High…Middle School, named after some guys named 'High'."
"Oh..." Percy shrugged, buying it as he walked off. I let off a breath of relief, but Annabeth was still watching me. Her eyes were narrowed, not in suspicion, but like she was thinking heavily.
I was so screwed.
A/N: Guess who's back! Woot! Blood of Olympus is only days from being released and I am back in the PJO spirit. Not too much is happening in this chapter that's different from the story. Yay for fillers!
For anyone who's worried I do promise that I'll be finishing this story and continuing on with the sequel. I was extremely busy all summer and had no time to write. I've been getting back on track a lot with my DW stories, so I figured I'd get back to this one as well. I've read over my notes and I'm gotten back on track with where I'm taking this story :D
Ya'll should remember to give me some love. I honestly get so motivated when I hear from you guys it honestly brightens my day. So drop by a review with any comments/concerns or questions. Also I do have a blog which I post about PJO on if you're interested. I'm almost at 3k followers so you guys should come follow me!
Until Next Time,