Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Warning(s):Genderbent Percy. Genderbent Thalia. Good!Luke. Bad!Annabeth. AU. Possible OOCness.
Wooow, it had been a Suuuper long time, hasn't it? Well, hope everyone's doing well during these trying times!
Eyes of The Sea
Even before he is ever truly awake, long before she is born, he dreams of her. Of her lonely figure shuffling around and about a throng of people that never seem to notice, much less care about her. She always looks so alone, that heart-wrenching, frustrated look of someone who's trying their hardest with nothing to show for it, desperately trying to find some semblance of belonging, being wanted or needed. And when she fails like all the other times, she will cast her gaze downwards, crestfallen, and usually that's where the dream ends for him, watching that lone tear escape down onto her cheek as familiar arms wrap around her from behind.
Only this time things are different, she turns, focusing the most beautiful sea-green eyes he'd ever seen unmistakably on him. Her hair seemed brighter somehow, catching the light of the sun outside, moving her lips in the form of an urgent whisper. A warning.
There's no time.
And his eyes fly open, an unearthly howl piercing through the dead of night. He is up and running to his companion's makeshift bed comprised of a few stolen blankets and such before he is even fully awake, shaking them from their own deep slumber despite the dull ache that settles in his limbs from their last fight and the hazy state of mind they are all still in. But the next moment when a set of sharp claws, too big and pointy to be anything remotely human, tears through their makeshift camp's roof with tremendous ease, they are all wide awake and alert and screaming.
Run! Thaddeus commands handing Annabeth off to Luke because if the look in his eyes was any indication, not all of them were going to make it out of this one alive. They don't bother with belongings before they are outside, after all nothing in a pile of clutter is worth more than their lives.
"Teddy, I-I'm scared…!"
"Don't worry Annabeth, I'll protect you!"
The hellhounds at their heels were huge and terrifying beings as Thaddeus learned that day. None seemed to care for the fact that they were just kids or for whatever possessions they destroyed while they were rampaging, especially not the few whose bone-chilling red eyes zeroed in on Thaddeus. No doubt smelling exactly whose blood ran through his very veins.
It was all the go-ahead he needed to bring out Aegis; slapping the metal band fastened around his wrist with nothing but the mental image of the two others running ahead of him. His family. He needed to protect them, he promised.
The satyr, Grover he introduced himself as to Thaddeus-only Thaddeus because of course the son of Zeus takes priority over all others, Thaddeus thought bitterly at the time-was in the lead. Luke right behind, still holding a frightened Annabeth. The son of Zeus brought up the rear, a feat that was made remarkably easier when the monsters glimpsed the terrifying image of Medusa's head carved onto his shield.
It was getting harder to tell what was sweat and rain. The wound inflicted on his leg from their encounter with the cyclops was making it more difficult to run. "How much farther!?"
A crack of lightning resounded in the sky above, the storm seeming to intensify along with Thaddeus's frustration. For someone labeled a protector, Grover was nothing more than a jittery bundle of nerves and insecurity. The two of them would have to have a serious talk about confidence once they reach this mysterious camp.
"Camp Half-Blood. It's a safe haven for ones like you, the offspring of gods."
Little Annabeth is the most eager to get there despite her own tiredness and the constant danger surrounding them, surrounding Thaddeus. He is doubtful but tries to hold onto hope because he wants his small family to be safe more than anything.
Luke, while holding certain reservations of his own, says so long as Thaddeus and Annabeth are there he'll go wherever.
Thaddeus Grace is secretly the one most eager to get there; he is tired of running and putting others in danger, tired of the girl with sea-green eyes haunting him in his dreams. He wants to settle things once and for all.
Too bad things never work out as planned when you're a demigod.
Is this what you're trying to tell me?
Don't you think it's a little too late now, Zeus?
Thaddeus is surprised at just how clear his thoughts are despite the unbearably intense pain eating away at his body and mind, frying and overloading every nerve with indescribable agony as he lay on the cold, wet ground dying, feeling a single helpless tear roll out from the corner of his eye.
He fixes his gaze up towards the heavens instead of the sneering fury that had impaled him with his own spear seconds ago, or the hellhounds snapping at his listless form. He wants to ask so many things from 'why didn't you ever help me?' to 'do you even care?'
'Were you happy I was born?' Is always the last one. He sees the lightning streak across the sky, finding it harder and harder to draw in a lungful of air because oh right, that's where he was stabbed, wasn't it?
He blinked through the haze of pain swirling around him, barely able to make out the faint cry of something familiar-
Before his vision tunnels into the void, he wonders dazedly 'why are my hands turning into branches?'
He's certain he is dead but strangely, he is still able to hear and feel and think. But most of what he hears and feels isn't pleasant. He hears Annabeth's bitter words, her harsh promises of "I'm going to bring Olympus down, for you Teddy. They let you die." Her hands gripping onto his branches, caressing the trunk of the tree and brushing the leaves away like a lock of hair on his forehead.
Luke's words are more grief-stricken than he'd ever heard him speak. Half-spoken mutters of regret laced with pain of "I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry," and "if only I'd done more. If only I was stronger!"
Then an unfamiliar touch. Accompanied by an unfamiliar voice.
The newcomer's touch was softer than both Annabeth's and Luke's. She-he can surmise by the voice-is also far less confident than either of the aforementioned demigods as well, though what she lacks in toughness she makes up for in sincerity. The tones of her voice like the mesmerizing lull of a Siren's lullaby.
"H-hello. I-I've heard a lot about you, Thaddeus, from Grover, Annabeth and even Luke." Her fingers reach up and brush along the pines of his lower branches with fascination and awe. "I wish I'd gotten to meet you. A real hero. Maybe we could've been friends?"
She visits periodically. Usually alone, but never leaving too quickly.
"I still can't believe it. Me, a half-blood? I'm no hero, I could never do what you did."
Part of him wants to tell her she shouldn't be so spineless. That with a little bit of training and such she'd probably be just fine. Practice makes perfect and all that, or at least that was what he told himself whenever he chose to practice, not wanting to end up as some random monster's midday snack just because he got a little careless.
"Clarisse tried to stick my head into the toilet. According to Luke and Annabeth she's a daughter of Ares, god of war, so I guess it fits she'd be a little rough around the edges but still...Well, at least Annabeth seems okay. "
With no other choice he listens to the newcomer tell him of her budding friendship with Luke and Annabeth, and how she got claimed as a child of Poseidon, one of the Big Three. How she teamed up with Annabeth and Luke for Capture the Flag. Able to somehow pick up on the noticeably more vibrant aura around her whenever she talked about the daughter of Athena.
"She volunteered to accompany me on this quest for your dad's bolt along with Luke, isn't that amazing! I was worried I'd have to go alone, or that I wouldn't be able to keep me and Grover safe out there, but Annabeth's pretty amazing. She can come up with a plan in almost any scenario and I saw her whup a lot of butt during the game of capture the flag. I usually don't get along too well with girls my own age, Nancy Bobofit was the worst."
She doesn't visit for a long while after that. And the next time she comes, it's with Luke in tow. A noticeably somber around them.
"So I guess I'll see you next summer then, my little Damselfish?" Luke's voice sounds more joyful than he's heard in years. "Try not to get attacked by nearby monsters without me there to watch your back, yeah?"
"I'll be fine! 'Sides, I did take on a Chimera in case you forgot." The other girl said in a chipper tone, sounding a little more confident than before.
"Yeah, and you almost died from the poison, remember?" Luke says with a snort. And Thaddeus is reminded of all the times he'd one-upped the other boy in their sparring. Even on the times without his shield.
It seems like forever before someone visits him again. And it's Annabeth which is even more surprising. Her touch is more sadder now, speaking in hushed tones of regret and remorse.
"Don't worry Thaddeus. Soon we'll be together again, the Fleece will make it happen. It'll bring you back and then...then I'll make sure we're never separated again. I promise."
Following her words is a fresh new kind of pain, more unbearable and agonizing than so many years ago. It turns the beautiful flourishing pines a pukish-green and the leaves a sickly shade of yellow causing them to droop down low. The numbness slowly eating away at him is worse than anything he'd ever faced before, and he just wants it to end.
If he had a voice, if he were still human, he would have screamed out in pain from the poison.
Thea was surprised when she didn't dream about Grover.
Instead she found herself back in Annabeth's stateroom aboard the Princess Andromeda. The curtains were open and it was nighttime outside. The surrounding air was thick with shadows. Voices whispering all around her-spirits of the dead.
Kronos's golden sarcophagus glowed faintly-the only source of light in the room.
A cold laugh startled her, putting her even more on edge. It seemed to come from miles below the ship. Her already flimsy confidence started to break apart.
She knew what she had to do. She had to open that coffin and face whatever was inside.
Her heart pounded as she uncapped Riptide, her trusty sword. She had to be brave, to stop Kronos! Only she couldn't force her feet to move. Fear settling into her heart, her courage diminishing greatly.
Thea jumped and whirled around, expecting to see Luke. There was a boy but he wasn't Luke; He seemed vaguely familiar but she wasn't really sure why. He wore punk-style clothes with silver chains on each wrist and had black hair that was somehow both spikey and a bit on the disheveled side. The dark smudges of eyeliner making his stormy-blue eyes shine more in the dark, barely able to make out the splash of freckles across his nose.
Very briefly her mind went back to her class trip to the museum, recalling the fleeting glance of one of the Adonis statues she'd seen some other girls ogling over. Her cheeks burned at the recollection.
"Well?" The mysterious boy prodded, unfazed. "Are we going to stop him or what?"
She couldn't answer, pinned to the spot as she was. Numbly realizing he was speaking to her, pointing lamely towards herself just to be sure.
The boy merely rolled his eyes, giving out a laugh. "Fine, fine. I get it, just leave it to me and Aegis."
He didn't listen while she pushed through her fear, trying to reachand grab hold of him as he walked on by. The ghosts parting under the terrible aura of his shield that the silver chains transformed into-a terrifying gorgon's head emblazoned in the center. Thea herself actually felt a chill up her spine just from looking at it.
He made it up to the coffin with a wall of ghosts between them, watching as he pushed open the lid.
For a moment he stood there, staring down at whatever was inside.
"No." His voice trembled and it sent a sharp stab of pain through Thea's heart just hearing it. "It can't be."
From the depths of the ocean, Kronos's laugh was enough to shake the entire ship it seemed.
"No!"The boy screamed as the sarcophagus engulfed him in a golden blast of light.
Thea bolted forward, her fear forgotten in favor of saving him. Her hand reaching out, oblivious to the name escaping her lips-
She woke up to Luke shaking her, clutching an unfamiliar silver chain in her palm. When Luke saw it, he did a double-take.
The relief comes in the form of something heavy being draped against his body, immediately working to ease the pain eating away at him. If he were human, he would have exhaled a breath of relief at how soothing it was. The wonderful warmth driving away the bitter ice lancing through his roots.
He was saved. He was able to breathe once more. He was alive.
"Hey, are you okay?"
Sea-green eyes peer into his with worry that's not supposed to be there because they're strangers, and yet at the same time, they weren't. She'd been in his dreams, and he's been her inspiration.
"Who...are you?" His eyes never leave hers, and Thaddeus feels like he's drowning in an ocean of green.
He hears her breath hitch, looking at him with widened eyes of fascination and awe. Her grip on him tightening just a little like she was afraid he would disappear any second. He still felt so weak.
"M-my name is Panthea. Panthea Jackson."
Her arms are wrapped around him, keeping him from falling back down onto the cold hard ground. He swallowed with some difficulty, his dark lashes fluttering a bit as he tried to make sense of the sudden swirl of colors and myriad of unfamiliar voices around him.
"I'm Thaddeus." He finally says. "Thaddeus Grace. Son of Zeus," because it felt like an essential part of him now.
Among the hushed whispers and quiet looks of awe and disbelief going through the gathered crowd a single, choked murmur broke through. Unintentionally breaking whatever spell had settled over the two 'Big Three' children, drawing their attention towards where a familiar head of short spiky, blonde hair was pushing its way through. To Thaddeus, Luke looked noticeably older now.
"Th-Thaddeus...is that-is it really you?"
He takes a moment to respond, his throat unbearably dry from years of disuse. His voice hoarse while he whispers his best friend's name.
He lowered his head, and if Thaddeus didn't know him any better he'd think the blonde was actually praying. A heavy sob escaping through his long-time friend's trembling lips while managing a nod.
The clopping of hooves broke apart the tender moment happening,
"Panthea, Luke, and Grover. Perhaps you could assist in helping young Thaddeus to the infirmary? I'd imagine he is still quite fatigued from his fight. We will discuss things more once he has had a chance to rest."
The son of Zeus looked ready to protest, to insist that he was fine as Luke and Grover came around. The son of Hermes was gripping onto him like he would disappear the second Luke let go, the blonde struggling to keep the tremor out of his voice. "Ted, can you stand okay?"
Thaddeus looked about ready to snap and say "of course!" Only to have his knees buckle, his body swoons a bit because walking is something he has not done in what feels like ages. Whether intentional or not, he can't say for sure, he winds up leaning more on the girl named Panthea.
The question is always at the tip of his tongue, especially with Luke so damn close after so long, but he holds back the how are you doing and Where's Annie, instead asking where he is. For now, everything else would have to wait until he has more information.
'Brace yourself indeed.'
Panthea wasn't sure whether to be elated or just plain confused. Her father's words running through her mind, becoming reality much quicker than she anticipated. Usually these kinds of things take a few days, right?
'Though I guess for him it has been years.' Her mind supplies helpfully, lips pursed while watching the Apollo kid wring out the washcloth that sat atop the son of Zeus's head. After arriving at the infirmary and after some insisting-pleading in Grover's case-Thaddeus was made to rest in one of the unoccupied beds.
"He's running a fever. While the Golden Fleece may have healed most if not all from the tree, it's likely his immune system is responding to having been ejected so quickly from it." The one tending to him informed the trio.
Panthea did her best not to wince from the thought of how much pain Thaddeus might still be in.
Her sea-green eyes lingering on where the now closed electric-blue irises were, thinking back to what Annabeth said on the Princess Andromeda.
"If Thaddeus were still alive, he would join me."
Was that the truth? Luke refuted the claim as soon as she said it.
Later though, when it was just the two of them. Luke seemed unsure, standing in a place that he, Ted, and Annabeth once stood in.
"Ted was stupidly stubborn, but he was no traitor. You remind me of him, your loyalty I mean."
Thea hadn't meant for her cheeks to get as red as they did. Always seeming to get so easily flustered by what Luke said. Even so, she wasn't as much of a 'Seaweed' brain as Annabeth insisted, for her and Luke...friendship was as far as things would go.
Annabeth's betrayal hit them both hard in different ways. For Percy, she lost the one true friend she'd ever had other than Grover.
The blonde girl seemed so nice and welcoming at first, especially after having caught Panthea sneaking away a few times to go visit Thaddeus's tree. Something they had in common, apparently.
"This is my favorite spot in the whole camp."
She remembers the other girl's twisted look of fury when they fought aboard the Princess Andromeda, how her calm exterior finally shattered when Panthea brought out an all too familiar looking bracelet just before Annabeth's dagger could gouge out an eye. The metal band expanded and flattened. A familiar, frightening visage of Medusa's head on the center. The surrounding guards all took a step back, even Annabeth looked startled.
How could she not have? With his shield standing between them, protecting Panthea. Denying the child of wisdom her victory.
Panthea didn't know Thaddeus in the same way as Luke and Annabeth, even Grover. And she never told any of them about how she saw him in her dreams either, only being able to put a name to the face in the last half-hour. She never would have guessed the one who'd been unknowingly haunting her-that's what it was since he was declared as dead, right?-was the one and only Thaddeus Grace. It felt weird knowing the two of them had met without ever actually knowing it.
Did Thaddeus even recognize her the way she did him? If he did, then would he be happy to see her? Or would he be upset, especially after finding out about Annabeth, though he seemed pretty neutral to her so far?
'Maybe he doesn't recognize me?' She thought, the smallest pinch of bitterness entering her gut.
In her hands she clutched the small silver band-Thaddeus's shield, Aegis-stepping forward. She wanted to return it. To ask how he managed to give it to her via a dream anyway? Only something stopped her. A similar feeling to the dream where it was just the two of them and the golden sarcophagus.
Fear washed over her. The fear of rejection and anger at her having such an important item-Luke informed her Ted always made sure to have it. The bitter acceptance at finding out Panthea was-in a strange sense-Annabeth's replacement, being left to fill the void from the blonde girl's betrayal.
She faltered, and without another thought turned to face Luke all but shoving the wristband towards him with a shaky smile. "Uh, maybe you should be the one to give this to him…? Tell him thanks for me, a-and I gotta go take care of the horses."
She ran, ignoring both boys' protests. Part of her really wanting to stay and talk with the boy who'd been in her dreams for so long, but a much larger part of her said not to. Telling her she was not the one he wanted to see when he woke up in the first place.
When the son of Zeus awakens again, he murmurs the words 'strangest dream' and 'dying,' feeling like he was back on that hill again. A wash of panic surging through him when instead of the familiar brush of pine needles and thick roots he feels something warm and wet being placed on his forehead.
Utilizing a great deal of effort just to re-open his eyes and when he sees a glint of something green, it takes what little energy he has to spare from calling out Panthea. After all that was the daughter of Poseidon's name, wasn't it?
Instead of the gentle, smiling face and most beautiful sea-green eyes he'd ever seen, he realizes he is only staring at a plant strung up near the entranceway. He can't help but feel hollow and disappointed, deep down knowing how stupid it was to wish to see someone who had never even truly met you to begin with.
He pushes the thought away, focusing on more important matters like how his arms and legs are no longer tree trunks.
He moves to rise from the cot he was on, only for a hand to stop him.
"Don't even try it."
Electric blue met softer sky-blue, opening his mouth, ready to protest when Luke cut him off.
"Ted," the blonde began with that look, like a doting parent scolding their child. "You need to rest, the medic hasn't cleared you to leave yet."
"M'fine." Thaddeus snapped, pinning the other boy with his own signature glare. Part of him offended when Luke didn't immediately cave like he used to, maybe he'd gotten soft?
"You've been out of commission for years, Ted. Please," Luke went on to say, a rare sliver of emotion showing on his face. "Just this once. Rest."
Silence settled between them. Thaddeus felt something bitter swell in his chest.
'Years, huh?' The son of Zeus closed his eyes.
It still felt like a strange dream. His death. Unable to shake the chill of his own spear having been used to pierce his lung.
"Where's Annabeth?" He asked, partly to distract himself from the painful memories and also because he was curious.
Luke averted his eyes towards some random corner of the room.
"Luke? Something wrong?"
Thaddeus ignored the cold feeling building in the pit of his stomach, refusing to take his eyes off the other boy.
It was something he knew Luke always secretly hated, Thaddeus's ability to hold anyone's stare even in the most dire of situations.
He attributed it as a child of Zeus thing. Along with being a human spark plug and suddenly being able to talk to anything with wings or flying capabilities.
"Is she…?" Thaddeus felt a lump in his throat at the mere thought that sweet little Annie, someone he'd promised he would protect, might have-
"What? No. No!" Luke was quick to squash Thaddeus's rising fear. "She's still alive, she just, well-"
"Well what? Come on, tell me!" Thaddeus snapped, never being known to have very good patience to begin with.
"She-she was lying to us the whole time, Ted." Luke settled on saying, expression full of sorrow. "I thought after a few months, almost a year even, she was finally starting to move on with her life. She was smiling more, seemed genuinely happy."
Thaddeus listened, the cold feeling in his stomach getting worse.
"When Panthea was given the quest to retrieve your father's bolt, she volunteered to go with, said she didn't want anything bad to happen to Thea. She told me," he hesitated for a split second, "she didn't want to lose her like she did you. I believed her, sent her on ahead with good wishes and all that."
A sliver of memory; A familiar touch and hate-filled words-
"I'm going to bring down Olympus, for you Teddy. They let you die."
-accompanied by tear-filled stormy-grey eyes.
"She...betrayed us." Thaddeus finished, feeling hollow all of a sudden. "She's not here in camp anymore, is she?"
"...No." Luke finally admitted. "I'm sorry Ted, I'm so sorry."
Thaddeus didn't respond. Truthfully he was tired of the apologies. Tired from losing people he cared about.
If only he hadn't been so stupid back on Half-Blood Hill. If only he had moved a little faster, or struck a little harder. If only he had actually been with them.
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