Percy grinned as his ship cut through the waves, quickly leaving behind the now slightly less pristine treasure ship slowly sinking into the ocean, its passengers clinging to spare timbers that had been flung from the ship on impact from Percy's broadside cannons. Well, some of the passengers. As one of the most dastardly and swashbuckling pirates on the seven seas, Percy had to eliminate some of the crew of the vessel. He had an image to keep, after all. That, and his crew enjoyed a good plank-walking every now and then. He gripped the wheel as he scanned the horizon, his sea green eyes squinting in the bright sunlight reflected off the azure sea. He chuckled as he congratulated himself on his latest theft. He set the Trident on a southwesterly course towards his secret cove, and released the wheel, reveling in the scent of the salty sea air.
"Tyson!" he called, and immediately a massive head popped out from behind a cannon, smeared in soot. Tyson's was Percy's first mate, and his half-brother. As Tyson approached the stern, Percy noticed Tyson absentmindedly itching at the strap that held his eye-patch in place. "Patch bothering you?" Tyson quickly realized what he was doing and sheepishly dropped his hands at his side.
"Cord's just a little worn out is all." Percy smiled sympathetically.
"Tell ya what," he said. "Next port we drop into, I'll go out and get you the best eye-patch the market has to offer." Tyson's face lit up like a Christmas tree.
Percy laughed."Pirate's honor. But now, I need a favor." Tyson regarded him curiously with his one brown eye. "What's that?"
Percy guided him to the wheel as he explained. "We're heading home to drop off our treasure that we just picked up, and I have some business to take care of below decks, and I need you to take over for me. Just keep us on course, and we should be fine." Tyson's eye widened. "Does that mean I get to be captain for now?" he asked breathlessly. Percy tossed him his trifold hat, which Tyson grabbed like a lifeline.
"With that bad boy on, you are!" Tyson beamed at him.
"Aye Aye Percy!" Then he turned and seized the wheel, but was careful not to shift it around too much and took a proud stance. Percy smiled quietly and walked across the ship to the door that led below decks.
As Percy made his way through the ship, he nodded at his various crew members, who quickly scurried out of their captain's way. He strolled down to the brig, careful to make sure that no one was following him. Not that anyone would, but he hadn't made his way to the royal navy's number one most wanted pirate by being totally careless. Once he was sure that the coast was clear, he entered the brig and locked the door behind him. He turned and regarded his prisoner with a hooded gaze, masking any emotions he had. She was awake now, regarding him with eyes as grey as the storm fronts that tore the seas asunder in their wake. Her blond hair shone like brushed gold in the low lantern light, dirty as it was. Her face was pretty, one of the prettier that Percy had seen, but contained a reserved look, as if she knew more than she gave away. She looked to be around his age. After a moment of silence, he spoke. "How are you?" he asked, figuring a civil approach was always worth a try.
"I know who you are," the girl replied curtly "so you can drop the innocent act." Percy dropped his head and chuckled slowly. So much for civil.
"Well, that's hardly fair, seeing as how I don't know how you are." The girl glared at him before speaking again. "
You're Captain Perseus Jackson, the most notorious pirate on the seas." Percy gave her a bow.
"At your service." She continued to stare at him with her eyes as sharp as daggers. Percy remained unfazed by her obvious disdain and continued.
"Well since you know so much about me, then you must know I take no prisoners." Her face quickly lost its haughty appearance and was replaced with an expression that looked to be a mix of curiosity and fear.
"T-then what do you want with me? Why did you bring me here?" she stammered out. Percy put on a surprised face.
"Ah, not too hateful to ask questions now are we?" he asked mockingly. He paced the area in front of the bars, arms folded behind him. "
You see, I knew you were something special when we raided your ship. You, unlike your shipmates, remained calm and tried what you could to resist. Dropping sails and such on my men to slow them down and whatnot. A valiant effort, really, but fruitless nonetheless." The girl eyed him suspiciously.
"So what does that have to do with you taking me prisoner?" she asked slowly. Percy stopped his pacing and squatted down in front of her, locking his eyes with hers.
"I could use someone with a level head on my crew," he said simply. "And I think you'd be perfect for the job." The girl looked thunderstruck, her mouth hanging agape, as if wanting to say something, but her brain simply couldn't process the idea. However, her jaw quickly snapped shut and she stared at the floor of the brig as if contemplating something.
"…..Join you?" she asked after a long while. "I'd rather-" Percy cut her off with an abrupt hand gesture.
"The alternative is walking the plank, before you get all indignant." he said flatly. "These waters are shark infested and there's no land within miles of here. You wouldn't last ten minutes. And just as luck would have it, we have an opening for quartermaster, due to a loss in a certain ship battle not too long ago," he continued, eying her accusingly. "Had a tackle block fall on his head." The girl's gaze dropped guiltily. "It's not so bad being a pirate you know, especially as a quartermaster. Better pay and your own cabin." He said softly, trying to reason with her. "Better than a shark's belly, if you ask me." The girl looked up at him then, her eyes full of uncertainty.
"How can I trust you? You're a pirate. A criminal." She asked, her voice wavering. Percy grinned knowingly at her.
"Oh that's easy. A pirate never lies." She laughed scornfully at that, shaking her head. "Well, you drive a hard bargain captain, but what other choice do I have?" Percy grinned at her again. "Ah, that's the spirit! Now, I'm going to let you out of here. This will be sort of like our first trust exercise. I'm going to open the door, and you're going to go down the hall to the quartermaster's cabin. Second door on the right. You won't try and escape or kill me. Understood?" The girl stood up and nodded.
"Understood, Captain Perseus." Percy waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as he fished the key out of his coat pocket.
"No need for all of that," he said nonchalantly. "My friends call me Percy." The girl smiled at him.
"Percy. Got it." He smiled back. "And I don't believe I ever got your name?" he asked, unlocking the cell door. The girl stepped out of the cell and came close to Percy.
"Annabeth. Annabeth Chase." she said softly. Before Percy could even respond, her fist crashed against his jaw, sending him sprawling backwards onto the floor. He scrambled to his feet, wary for another attack, but Annabeth just stood there, smirking at him.
"You punched me." he said reproachfully. She rolled her eyes at him.
"Obviously," she said, her voice full of poorly concealed satisfaction. "That was for sinking my ship. Plus, the rules didn't say anything about hitting you." He smiled ruefully at her, hand cradling his injured jaw.
"Spoken like a true pirate." She winked at him and opened the door. "See you around, Captain."
After Percy had made sure there was no lasting damage, he went back up to the main deck and took the wheel back from Tyson, who happily returned his hat and went off to sleep in his hammock. It was late in the evening now, the last edge of the sun quickly disappearing off the horizon as night swept across the sky, exposing the stars twinkling far above. Most of the crew had gone below to sleep, leaving Percy alone with some time to think. He was so deep in thought that when someone said "Surprised you didn't bruise" right next to him, he jumped like he'd been shot. He whirled around and, drawing his cutlass with a sharp hiss, swung at the human form standing at the edge of his vision. The figure shrieked and ducked to avoid his swing, stepping in close so that he couldn't bring the deadly metal blade back around. Unfortunately, Percy's other hand was free, and it caught the figure by the neck of its shirt and he threw the unfortunate body onto the deck, where he held in it place by pointing the tip of his sword at its throat. When Percy realized who was at the end of his sword, he rolled his eyes in annoyance.
"Poseidon's underpants, don't you know better than to sneak up on a pirate?" Annabeth, for it was Annabeth that Percy had unwittingly attacked, gulped hard but met Percy's gaze without flinching.
"Well I do now," she said dryly. "You're faster than you look." Percy sheathed his sword and helped Annabeth to her feet.
"You don't live long as a pirate if you aren't fast." He said flatly. "Why are you up here anyway? Figured you'd be asleep with the rest of the crew." Annabeth raised an eyebrow at him, making him feel as if that was a question to which the answer should have been obvious.
"Hard to sleep when you're on a treasure ship to Barcelona and the next thing you know you're a quartermaster for a pirate." Percy shrugged at this. Fair enough, he thought.
"Still doesn't explain why you're up here, Chase." he stated pointedly. Annabeth's face took on that calculating look again.
"I want to know more about the most feared pirate on the seven seas," she replied. "There's a lot of rumors, and I've been mulling over the fact that a pirate never lies. Figured I'd see how true that is." Percy looked at her thoughtfully.
"Alright." he said after a moment's consideration. "But one condition." Annabeth nodded eagerly
He smiled at her slyly. "I get to ask you questions too." Annabeth's eager expression drained away to uncertainty.
He gave a low laugh. "Come on now Annabeth, pirates honor all deals. No backing out now."
"Awful lot of rules for a bunch of criminals." Annabeth grumbled, "But I guess there's no harm in it."
Percy leaned back against the port-side rail, gesturing for Annabeth to ask. "Well, go on. Ladies first, after all."
Annabeth rolled her eyes. "A true gentleman. Alright then, how'd you get into pirating in the first place?"
Percy's face lit up with delight. "Ah! An excellent question!" he exclaimed. "You see, I used to own a small fishing boat and lived off the sea. It was a meager existence, but an honest one. I had a small house, with a dock at the end to moor my boat to. One day, a gigantic royal frigate came down my stretch of the sea, and the going was narrow, due to two sheer cliffs on either side of the water. Instead of simply asking me to move my boat, the frigate simply plowed straight through it. Didn't even give a warning or stop. And when I demanded the captain pay for my boat?" Percy paused here, leaning in closer while dropping his tone to a husky whisper. "He looked down his nose at me and gave the crew the order to fire on my house. Thirty-two cannons ripped my home to nothing but firewood, and I swore vengeance on the man, and tried to kill him with my bare hands on the spot. He gave me these." Percy rolled up his coat sleeves and Annabeth gasped. Thick scars marred his tanned arms, scars that were so severe they raised a half an inch above the rest of his skin. They seemed to glow with a pale radiance in the moonlight. She tore her eyes away from the scars, and locked her gaze with Percy's. Annabeth swallowed dryly, tearing her gaze away from his.
"What happened then?" she asked quietly. Percy rolled his sleeves back down and leaned back against the rail again, his voice returning to its normal level.
"After recovering from my wounds, I followed the ship along the coast. What else could I do? It's not like I had anything to go back to. I followed until the ship anchored down, then I swam out and snuck aboard the ship. And I killed the entire crew." Annabeth's jaw dropped.
Percy nodded slowly, his eyes far-away. "I got the captain first, snuck into his cabin and got him with his own sword." His hand dropped to the hilt at his belt, and Annabeth realized with a chill that it was the same sword. It occurred to her somewhere in the back of her mind that she almost met the same fate as that captain, which didn't help her nerves at all. "Dispatching the crew was a simple matter after that," Percy continued matter-of-factly, "And once everything was taken care of I set off to find Tyson and a crew who'd be willing to join a man who'd just committed a crime against the crown. Been a pirate since then."
Annabeth stared off into the distance for a while before speaking. "You're not the worst pirate out here, that's for sure." she said finally. "We passed a couple on the way here, and the things we saw…" Annabeth shuddered at the memories. She glanced up at Percy who smiled sympathetically.
"Believe me, I know. Not all of us leave survivors. And the ways they, ah, dispose of unwanted prisoners is not pleasant. I'm more a man of necessity than anything."
Annabeth chuckled cynically. "A criminal with a conscience. How refreshing." Percy leveled those sea green eyes of his on Annabeth, making a tremor run up and down her spine. She cursed herself for heart fluttering as it did. What on earth was she doing up here? Talking with a pirate as if it were a common thing, like chatting with a friend! Annabeth swallowed again and pulled a yawn.
"I should probably get some sleep," she said quickly, wanting to run- but at the same time kind of not wanting to. "First full day of piracy and all tomorrow."
Percy just nodded his head in that knowing manner again, a grin spreading slowly across his face. "Of course. Goodnight, Annabeth." Annabeth turned and started walking towards the door that led below decks. "Hey, Chase!" Percy called after her. She spun around to look at him. "Don't think you're getting out of telling me your story," he said humorously. "We're should be home tomorrow, and I intend to hear it.'" Annabeth nodded, a small smile spreading across her lips.
"Yeah, of course. A pirate keeps their word remember?" Percy nodded back sagely.
"Aye, a quick learner. Best get to sleep if you're getting any. As quartermaster, you'll be up with the crew when the sun rises." She nodded again and went below to her cabin and fell asleep to the sound of waves lapping up against the ship's hull.
It seemed like she'd just closed her eyes when the ship bell rang, piercing the air like a dagger. Annabeth groaned and rolled out of her hammock, staggering up to the main deck in the low light of the dawn. As she came through the door, she saw Percy still standing at the wheel, looking worn down from steering the ship all night. However, when he saw her, his eyes flared with that light of excitement and challenge, like she was a new sword he couldn't wait to try out.
"Alright you mangy lot!" Percy called to the crew. "Gather around." As the crew gathered in front of Percy, Annabeth tried to hang around the back of the group, not wanting to be noticed. "Chase! Front and center!" Damn she thought as she shouldered her way to stand by Percy in front of the crew. She glanced around at them as she passed, taking in their faces, trying to memorize them for future use. At last, she reached the front and stood at Percy's right shoulder, facing the assembled men before her. "Here's the deal, lads," Percy said. "Chase here will be your new quartermaster, and you're to take all orders as if they came from me. No questions. No lip. Understood?" The crew gave their assent, and Percy continued. "Good, now get to your stations and we'll be home in no time flat!" The crew gave a cheer and dispersed, leaving Annabeth and Percy alone by the wheel. Annabeth stared at the deck, not wanting to meet those sea-green eyes that always seemed to look right through her. "You alright, Annabeth?" Percy asked quietly, so as no one would overhear their conversation. She looked up at him and saw real concern in his expression, which helped to ease her tense nerves.
"Just nervous is all. Never really captained a ship before." she replied. Percy gave a low chuckle.
"You'll be fine," he said reassuringly. "I can tell. You got that air about you. Plus, it's an easy journey, really. The wind's in your favor and the sea's calm. You've got an experienced crew to boot." Annabeth nodded slowly.
Percy nodded back and went to the door that led below, calling over his shoulder "If you need me, you know where to find me!" Annabeth took a deep breath and turned to the wheel, gripping the weathered wood with a fierce tenacity. She could do this. She wouldn't fail. If she was going to be a pirate, then she was going to be one of the best. She'd show Percy that he wasn't the only force to be reckoned with. She smirked at that thought. She'd love to see his face when she pulled into port, the ship in perfect condition and the crew giving her a chorus of praise.
She was so busy thinking about how impressively she'd do as a captain that she didn't notice the long, all-black ship sliding out of the rocks on the port side, steadily gaining ground on them. By the time she saw the ship, it was too late. The roar of cannons filled the air, deafening Annabeth, the shock wave of the impact throwing her to the deck. She swore as she scrambled to her feet and took stock of the situation on deck. The crew was struggling to fight off the invaders, but they were outnumbered two to one. Annabeth calculated the odds and grimaced, not liking the outcomes. Best case scenario? She got taken prisoner. Again. Worst case scenario? Well, Annabeth had already seen the worst case scenario, and that was definitely was not an option. So that left her two choices: surrender or fight. She took up a sword from a fallen invader and charged into the fray. Annabeth was surprised how easily the swordplay came to her, it was almost like she was watching someone else move her arms and legs, her movements fluid and smooth. Slash, block, and slash again. She was able to almost even the odds before it all went wrong. She'd just finished off an opponent when she became aware of a faint whirring sound coming through the air, and as she turned to face the noise, her vision exploded into color, pain rocketing through every fiber of her being, and she crashed onto the deck with a painful thud. She struggled to remain conscious as she watched a pair of boots slowly walk up to her and pick up the oar that she'd been struck with. Her vision faded to black as she heard a voice as if from the very far away-
"Well, well. What do we have here?"
Percy had just drifted off to sleep when a cannonball punched through the wall of his cabin and flew clear through the other side, flooding the cabin with morning light. Percy sighed and rolled out of bed. He'd suspected that something like this would happen; leaving Annabeth at the wheel and then being attacked by a rival pirate who saw that it wasn't him steering his vessel. As he strapped on his sword belt, he heard the thudding of footsteps and the sounds of battle above. Percy grimaced. Too many people on board for his crew to stand any chance. Above the clamor he heard Annabeth shouting defiantly, encouraging the crew to keep up the fight, making him smile. He knew she had a fire in her, but the smile vanished just as quickly as it had come when he heard her cut off mid-shout. The silence that followed was only broken by the sound of a body hitting the boards of the deck and the creaking of one set of footsteps pacing around the ship. A pit of despair opened up in Percy stomach as he stole quietly throughout the ship. No! He thought desperately. Not her! He crept up to the door that led out to the main deck, putting his ear against the wood listening for any conversation to be heard among the invaders. He could make out one muffled voice through the door
"And where, exactly, is your captain, hm?" the voice asked venomously. Percy scowled- he knew that voice. Quietly, he crept onto the deck, moving slowly so as not to be heard. He slid behind a barrel and peeked around to see a figure dressed in a long black trench coat moving in front of the tied-up forms of his crew. He quickly spotted Annabeth, lying motionless on the deck. Percy's heart crawled up into his throat, he could hardly breathe until he saw her chest heaving up and down slightly with the movement of her breathing. Relief swept over him stronger than any ocean wave he had ever faced; at least she was alive. Now to deal with the scurvy cur who had invaded his ship. The figure continued down the line of his restrained crew members until he came to Annabeth. The figure clicked his fingers and one of his crew doused Annabeth with a bucket of seawater, shocking her awake. She retched and spluttered, her gaze flying around wildly until it settled upon the ghastly shadow looming over her, a look of sheer repulsion settling on her face. The figure seemed amused. "Well now, and who might you be?" it asked bemusedly. "You're not the captain of this ship."
"That's where you're wrong!" Annabeth shot back hotly, her voice full of bravado. "I killed the captain of this ship and took it as my own." Percy had to give her credit, despite the crushing amount of despair she must have been facing she'd glanced around and saw that he wasn't among those captured and deduced he was still free aboard the ship, and now was stalling to buy him time to save them. The figure gave a short bark of laughter.
"You? Kill Perseus Jackson? Give me a break!" The figure turned away from Annabeth, bent over laughing, and Percy's rage grew as he saw it was who he'd suspected: none other than Nico DiAngelo, the filthy scoundrel himself. Nico was renowned for murdering and torturing captives in the darkest of ways. Nico turned back to Annabeth, a dagger now flashing in his hand. He stuck the point under her chin, his voice deadly calm. "Now," he said maliciously, "Where. Is. Your. Captain?" Annabeth swallowed hard, her gray eyes flashing defiantly.
"You'll never find him," she muttered. "He's far smarter than the likes of you." Nico applied more pressure to the dagger, making her draw in a sharp breath from the pain.
"You really aren't too bright are you? You think that you can kill my men, then insult me? You know who I am, I can see it in your face. And yet you have the impudence to call me an idiot?" Percy had already dispatched the few members of Nico's crew that still remained on the Trident in the exchange between the two, and now crept up slowly behind Nico, raising the pommel of his cutlass. Annabeth's gaze met Percy's and she gave Nico a smirk.
"I calls 'em as I sees 'em pal." Nico's eye widened as he realized, far too late, what was happening. Percy's pommel came down on the top of his head, and he dropped to the deck, his eyes glazed. The crew cheered as Percy cut Annabeth's bonds and helped her to her feet. He was pleasantly surprised when she tackled him with an embrace like iron, shouting "That was bloody brilliant!" However, Annabeth quickly released him as she seemed to come back to her senses, and she looked down at the deck, and he could swear she was blushing. "I-I mean, saving the crew and all. Well done." He gave her a lopsided grin, then turned to the rest of the crew, freeing them of their restraints and clapping them on the shoulders, reassuring them that everything would be alright, that no one could have been ready for such an he'd given the crew their assignments of repairing the ship and returned them to their course, he rejoined Annabeth at the mast, who still stood over Nico's unconscious body, looking down, averting her gaze from his.
"Something wrong, Chase?" he asked. Annabeth raised her eyes to meet his, her face full of emotion. "I could've died today." she said quietly "But you saved me." Percy remained silent, unsure of where she was going with this. "He was going to kill me," she continued, her voice growing more bitter and hurt with each word. "I should be dead. I put the whole crew in danger, and I almost got all of us killed and-" she broke off into tears, sniffling quietly as she tried to keep talking "And I-I-" Percy crossed the space between them and wrapped her in his arms, holding her tightly as she sobbed into his coat, and they stood there for a long moment, and the earth seemed to stop spinning for a brief while. The sun painted everything with a golden hue, as if the world had been frozen in amber. The wind tousled their hair, the smell of the ocean carried on the breeze. Eventually, Annabeth calmed down enough to realize that she and Percy were still hugging each other. "Uh, not to be rude, but I'm okay now." she said finally. Percy seemed to start a little and step back, rubbing his neck sheepishly.
"Of course," he said quickly. "Sorry about that." She gave him a small smile. "It's alright," she said, unable to stop her smile from spilling into her tone.
"I needed it. Thank you" Percy swallowed nervously and his eyes darted around until they came to rest on Nico. He stooped to pick up the dagger that had fallen from his hand when Percy had clubbed him and handed it to Annabeth.
"Since you don't have your own," he explained. She took the dagger from him, admiring how the blade flashed in the light and how the grip fit her hand perfectly.
"Hm, two things to thank you for today." she joked, enjoying the way Percy fidgeted.
"Well!" he cried suddenly, eager to change the topic, "What should we do with this bilge rat?" Annabeth gave Percy a sly look.
"I believe there's a reward for his capture, no?" Percy grinned at her and chuckled.
"Oh you are sooo evil."
Three hours later, the Trident was once again home-bound, leaving the bustling port with a few thousand more gold coins and one less wanted pirate.
As the Trident continued on its wayward path, Annabeth marveled at the places they passed, places she'd only ever heard of and had never imagined seeing in person. Percy beamed at her expression of wonder.
"Quite the sight, huh Chase?" Annabeth nodded enthusiastically
"It's just all so much to take in!" she exclaimed. She pointed at an island with so many ships in its port, the docks looked like a forest made entirely out of masts. "That's Tortuga!" Then, squinting to get a better look, she crossed the deck to point out one ship in particular, a frigate made out of black wood with a swaggering figure on the aft deck giving Percy a lazy salute. "And is that...?"
"The Black Pearl," Percy confirmed. "And that's none other than Jack Sparrow on deck. Excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow." he added humorously. "That man is the craziest pirate I know." Annabeth spun around to face Percy, her jaw dropped in awe.
"You've met him?!" Percy waved his hand in a dismissive gesture.
"A couple times, but he's more trouble than he's worth. Always trying to get me to help him get some cursed treasure or some malarkey like that. Now if my quartermaster would be so kind as to help me navigate this ship, we should be home by tonight with this wind." he said, giving Annabeth that look that made her heart stutter. She smiled and returned to stand by his side, giving the crew orders to make full sail and speed their journey home.
It was sundown when they finally arrived, the sun painting the sea a ruddy orange and giving the air an almost surreal feel to it. Annabeth was curious as to where Percy's secret cove was, as she saw no land in sight. Percy noticed her searching gaze and gave a low laugh.
"Still haven't quite come to grips with the pirate life huh, Chase?" he asked knowingly, tossing Annabeth a sidelong look that was so smug she had a strong urge to punch him again. Or hug him again. Whichever came first. She blushed fiercely at the thought.
"What gives you that idea?" she asked hotly. She had been doing a good job so far, with only one minor incident that had almost cost everyone their lives, but hey, they were alive now, weren't they? Percy laughed again, making her feel like the hug/punch urge was leaning dangerously close to the more violent option.
"Because, Chase," he continued "nothing's quite what it seems when you're dealing with pirates." Percy then put his hand to his lips and gave a long, three toned whistle that rolled across the waves. For a moment, nothing happened. Annabeth was just about to ask Percy what was going on when the horizon fell. She stared in slack jawed amazement as what she thought to be empty ocean was drawn up into a bundle on either side of a massive gate. She realized with a jolt that someone had painted an exact likeness of the surrounding ocean onto a large canvas cloth and disguised an entire cliffside from prying eyes. Percy sailed the ship through the gap and Annabeth spun around to watch a dozen or so pirates quickly drop the sheet back into place, sealing them inside of the cave they had entered. Percy gave Annabeth a grin, thoroughly pleased with the fact he had outwitted her. Despite her recent aggravation towards him, she couldn't help but smile back.
"Not bad for a criminal with seaweed for a brain." She said, humor all too evident in her tone. Percy laughed and rolled his eyes at her with such fondness that Annabeth nearly choked.
"Smart enough to outwit you, oh wise one. And that's not even the best part. Look."
Annabeth looked out in front of the ship as they exited the cave they had been sailing through and caught her breath. In front of her was an island surrounded by high cliffs and a lake so clear it might have been made of glass. On the island sat a bustling town, complete with docks, houses, and judging from the smell that wafted on the breeze- restaurants. Multicolored lanterns hung all around the town; lighting up the evening sky with a miasma of color that reminded Annabeth of cheerful memories spent at festivals and spiced foods. The thought of food other than hardtack and salted meat made her mouth water and her stomach growl so loud that Percy laughed. "I know how you feel." he said. "I love being on my ship, but the food just isn't quite as good as it is on land. I got a place in mind if you would like to join me for dinner?" he asked, his inflection changing his sentence to a question. Annabeth raised her eyebrows at him and gave him a smirk.
"Is that the way the great Perseus Jackson asks a lady to dinner?" she teased. Percy flushed and rubbed his neck.
"I-I mean…if you- you'd like to- you don't have to if you don't want…" he stammered, growing redder by the moment. Annabeth laughed at his discomfort but then felt a small pang of regret for teasing him. But only just.
"I'd be honored to join you tonight Captain," she replied, adding his title sarcastically. "Just allow me to freshen up after we dock. Meet you on the pier at around eight?" Percy blinked, obviously taken aback by her straightforwardness. Annabeth stifled another laugh, trying to spare Percy from too much embarrassment. He managed to snap out of his reverie and respond.
"Y-yeah! Eight's perfect. I'll meet you then." He returned his gaze to the ship and gave the crew the order to dock and hurried down to his cabin, leaving Annabeth with a bemused smile and a faint sense of excitement.
Percy lay on his bed, wondering how he could talk his way out if so many things, face down so many dangers, fight so many people, and yet when it came to asking Annabeth to dinner, he seized up and could hardly speak. He twirled a knife in his hands as he thought, watching the candlelight reflect and catch the edge of the blade. Upon hearing a knock at the door, he threw the knife into a wanted poster of himself that had been issued by the royal navy, the handle quivering upon the force of impact. "Come in." he called. The door swung open to reveal Tyson, his hands clutched in front of him.
"Percy, you okay?" he asked cautiously, glancing at the knife buried between the picture's eyes. Percy sighed through his nose and sat up on his bed and put his head in his hands, then looked up at Tyson giving him a tired smile.
"Yeah bud, just….girl trouble." Tyson's face scrunched up at this.
"You've never had girl trouble before. I don't know to fix girl trouble. Ship trouble? Yes. Girl trouble? No." Percy threw back his head and laughed.
"Yeah me neither pal. Girls are harder to figure out than ships." Percy paused for a moment and looked at him. "Tyson, what do you think about Annabeth?" he asked. Tyson was silent for several moments before he replied.
"She is pretty and smart and a good fighter. When we took her ship away, she fought really hard, and when Nico tried to take our ship away, she fought even harder. She's also funny and nice." Tyson summarized. "I like her." Percy smiled and nodded.
"Yeah, me too." Tyson came and sat next to Percy on his bed and looked at him critically.
"But if you like her, then why is she causing trouble?" Percy chuckled at his predicament, unsure of how to explain the situation to Tyson.
"Well," he began "You see, I really like Annabeth. A lot. And I want to spend a lot of time with her, but I'm not sure if she likes me back and wants to spend time with me or not." Tyson nodded slowly, taking in what Percy said like a sponge. Tyson put his arm around Percy's shoulders and gave him a squeeze.
"She likes you too." he answered with such certainty that it made the statement sound like proven fact. Percy looked at him curiously
"How can you be so sure?" he asked, wanting to know the reasoning behind Tyson's response.
"She fought extra hard when you weren't steering the boat. She wanted to protect you. Also, she said yes to dinner with you tonight, so she has to like you because you don't eat with people you don't like." Tyson answered simply. Can't argue with logic like that Percy thought.
"Hold up," Percy put his hands up. "How did you know I asked her to dinner?" Tyson got up and beamed at him as he walked to the door.
"She needed help on deciding what to wear and asked me for help. That's how I know she's pretty!" he replied as he exited, closing the door behind him, leaving Percy wondering if he could ever figure out girls or Tyson.
After cleaning up to the best of his ability, Percy strode out to the dock and waited for Annabeth, pacing nervously back and forth. Suddenly, as he went to turn around and continue his restless circuit, she was there, and it took all of Percy's willpower not to stop and stare. Annabeth stood at the end of the dock, grinning at him expectantly. Instead of her usual sailing get-up, which consisted of the old quartermaster's shirts and breeches, she now wore a jet black pirate's coat, trimmed in gold thread that matched her shining hair, now tucked up into a trifold hat not too unlike from Percy's. Underneath the coat, she wore a white ruffled blouse that Percy offhandedly thought really complimented her tanned skin. As he gave her a once over, Percy noted that the dagger he had given her hung from a red sash tied around her waist, glowing dully in the reflected lantern light. Knee high boots that folded over themselves with large cuffs clung to her toned calves, and Percy had to admit, Tyson nailed the description perfectly. Annabeth was pretty. Clearing his throat, Percy managed to get his mouth to work.
"That's a change." Smooth. Annabeth rolled her eyes at him and he cursed himself for grinning as foolishly as he did.
"Well, one doesn't accompany a captain in just some rags you know." She replied dryly. "Now where was this place you were taking me again?" she asked as she fell into step next to Percy. He waved the query off with a dismissive gesture.
"We'll eat later," he said easily "Right now, I wanted to show you around town, if you didn't mind." Annabeth favored him with another winning smile.
"Alright, Jackson. Lead on."
They walked through the crowded streets, Percy pointing out various buildings as they passed them, telling Annabeth who owned them and what they did. Percy pointed to a wooden building that was painted pink and smelled of lavender and jasmine. "That place is called The Cherokee Retreat. Run by my friend Piper. A spa of sorts. You would not believe how good a bath and massage feels after a long sea trip." Annabeth noted the place in her mind, resolving to definitely take a bath in the near future. As they walked by, a young Native American girl stuck her head out of the window and called after them.
"I thought I smelled you, Jackson!" Percy turned and playfully shook his fist at the girl.
"You wish Pipes! I'm the best smelling pirate on the seas, and you know it!" Piper snorted derisively.
"Hah! Only because I'm here. Who's your friend, by the way?" Piper eyed Annabeth approvingly. "She has good taste in fashion, unlike you." Annabeth laughed at Percy's exasperated sigh and offered out her hand.
"Annabeth Chase. Percy's new quartermaster." Piper shook Annabeth's hand and smiled at her.
"Pleasure to meet you Annabeth. Come by anytime you feel like freshening up. I just got a shipment of lemon soap that I think you'd like." Annabeth smiled back and nodded.
"Sounds delightful." she said happily. The two of them waved goodbye to Piper and continued on with their tour.
Soon, they came to a whitewashed two story building with purple shutters. The sign that hung out over the street was written in a flowing script that took Annabeth a second to decipher.
"The Praetor's Paradise?" Annabeth asked curiously. Percy grinned at her as he opened the door to the shop.
"Oh you'll like what you see." He said humorously "It's rather…ornate." As Annabeth walked past him into the shop, she stopped dead in her tracks; her jaw dropped. Inside was the most dazzling collection of jewels, swords, and clothing she had ever seen. Garments made of fine silk were displayed on mannequins, beautifully crafted jewelry sat in locked glass boxes, shining in the light. Fine crafted swords hung on racks with edges so sharp they looked like they could slice a hair in two if it was dropped on them. As Annabeth marveled at the stores wares, a dark skinned girl came from a doorway in the back of the store, followed by a large, muscular Asian guy. The girl was laughing at something, but cut off when she noticed Percy and Annabeth standing in the store. The girl grinned at Percy
"Ah! Percy! Back from harassing the royal navy again I see." Percy tipped his head back and laughed.
"Good to see you too, Hazel." Percy nodded at the Asian guy. "Same to you, Frank." Frank nodded back and glanced at the dagger on Annabeth's waist.
"Now that," he said arching his eyebrows "Is a blade I haven't seen in a long while. How exactly did you come across that piece miss….?" He trailed off, waiting for her to speak. Annabeth offered out her hand to Frank.
"Annabeth Chase." she supplied and Frank smiled at her and shook her hand. His hands were surprisingly gentle for his size.
"Well Annabeth, last time I saw that dagger, it was in the possession of someone less than desirable to be around. Glad to see it's in a better place." He said kindly. Hazel elbowed him in the side playfully.
"See? And you were just moaning about how awful it was that Nico was using your handiwork for nefarious purposes. C'est la vie. Good things happen when they are supposed to." Hazel looked knowingly at Annabeth. "He always makes it a big deal that his swords and stuff only be used when necessary, honorable fighting and all that nonsense." Frank harrumphed and turned his back to Hazel, pretending to ignore her teasing. Percy rolled his eyes at the two of them.
"You know," he said, interrupting their conversation "I'd actually come in here looking for something Hazel." Hazel raised an eyebrow at him.
"Something like what?" she asked slowly, a lazy smile spreading across her face. Percy gave Hazel a look Annabeth couldn't quite read.
"Jewelry." he answered flatly. Hazel clapped her hands in delight.
"Ah! I knew you'd get your ears pierced! I have just the earring for you too! Crafted just this morning, you-" Percy put a hand up to stop her excited outburst.
"I've already told you no about that," he grumbled. "Don't like getting stabbed any more than I have to. No, I mean for Annabeth here." Hazel was about to say something else, but Percy gave her that look again and she put her hands up in defeat.
"Alright, alright!" she said, suppressing her laughter. Annabeth looked over Percy.
"You're getting me jewelry?" Her tone was full suggestive mirth. Percy now turned those eyes on her. Never breaking eye contact, he answered slowly.
"I am not 'getting you jewelry'. That is an intimate action saved for people in a relationship. I am simply letting you getting a souvenir and I will pay for it." And with that he went over to Frank and began talking to him about payment for whatever Annabeth got; studiously ignoring the two girls. Annabeth looked at her feet and shook her head, but couldn't stop Hazel from seeing the smile on her face. Annabeth looked up at her and was a little taken aback by the fact her eyes were as gold as the jewelry that surrounded her. Hazel smiled knowingly at her and helped Annabeth pick something out. Eventually, she settled on a pair of silver earrings that looked like owls. When she rejoined Percy, he nodded his approval.
"Those suit you." he said simply. With a wave and a word of farewell, the duo set out on the road again, leaving Frank and Hazel to their business. As they jostled their way through the packed streets, Percy remained constantly aware of how Annabeth's hand brushed against his as the moved further along. But he didn't think about it at all, or the way the colored lights shone on her hair, or the way the silver earrings made her gray eyes even brighter. Nope, definitely not thinking anything like that.
Finally, they came to a long, low house that smelled of fresh paint. A handmade sign labeled the place asR.E.D.'s. Upon entering, Annabeth noticed two things: One, the door had a mobile made of what appeared to be paintbrushes placed in front of it so that when the door was opened, the all the brushes clattered together in a pleasing cacophony, and two, the entire place was filled with breathtaking art. Paintings of famous figures, landscapes so real that Annabeth felt like she could step through the frame and be there. She approached one painting of the Royal Commander Reyna and was stunned by the detail. It looked so lifelike that she was sure that the Commander was about to reach out and grab her and demand her death for being pirate scum.
"That's one of my better ones." a voice told her. Annabeth spun around to locate the source of the voice and was greeted by a young girl leaning against a counter. Percy laughed as he turned and saw the girl.
"All of these are amazing Rachel, and you know it!"Rachel turned at beamed at Percy.
"Aww, thanks Perce!" Annabeth looked at the girl. She looked to be around their age, with curly red hair and bright green eyes. She wore a smock that was covered in so many colors of paint, it didn't seem to have any of its original color showing. Rachel smiled at her when she caught her gaze. "I'm sorry," she said in a sing-song tone "I don't believe we've met before?" Annabeth returned her smile and took her outstretched hand.
"I'm Annabeth, Percy's new quartermaster. Your art is fantastic!" she said enthusiastically. Rachel laughed good-naturedly.
"I'm glad you think so. I'm just lucky to be so talented I guess." Percy raised an eyebrow at Rachel's statement.
"You guess?" he said, his voice full of mock disbelief." Did you guess that when you painted the canvas that keeps this whole cove safe?" Annabeth's jaw dropped.
"You did that?" Rachel rolled her eyes at Percy.
"Now why'd you have to go and tell her that?"
Percy snorted. "Because you deserve the credit." Rachel looked at Annabeth with an exasperated expression, making her giggle. Rachel''s face suddenly changed as she had a thought.
"Annabeth, could I paint a picture of you? Your hair looks like it would be fun to paint." Annabeth blushed. No one had ever offered to paint her before.
"Well I would love to, but Percy and I were just on our way to dinner." she said politely. Rachel waved her hand dismissively.
"Well don't let me stop the two of you! Just come on by if you ever feel like sitting here for a while." With assuring words that they would definitely come back sometime, the pair finished up their tour of the town and finally went to eat dinner.
It was late in the evening when Percy led Annabeth to a rather crazy looking building that looked like a mix between an inn and a forge. The front of the two story building was painted in a rich red, with a worn white door that led to what presumably the tavern's dining and common room. From behind the building came the sound a hammer striking metal and cursing. The sign labeled the establishment Calypso's Cove. Instead of heading in through the front door, Percy took Annabeth around back, where a large metal stove sat on bricks, and a set of legs protruded from the underside of the massive contraption.
"Who's out there?" a voice called out from under the stove. "Is that you babe? I'm trying my best to get this thing working again, but-" Percy rolled his eyes and cut the voice off. "Leo, it's me." The legs froze in place and then scrabbled out from under the stove to reveal a short, impish-looking tanned young man covered in grease and soot. "Percy! Good to see you man! How's that new rudder working out?" Percy laughed and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Like a dream Leo, but we can talk boats later, right now me and Annabeth here are starving. Is Calypso awake?" Leo nodded confirmation, eyeing Annabeth like a machine that needed fixing. She found his calculating gaze to be slightly unnerving and inched a little closer to Percy. Anyone with that much energy and access to fire and metal was not someone she wanted to be around too long.
"Yeah," he finally replied. "She should be finishing up a pot of stew, luckily for the two of you." His face lit up. "Hey that rhymed!" Percy lifted his gaze to the heavens as if asking Why me? and Annabeth smothered a giggle. Percy thanked Leo and let him get back to his repairs and led Annabeth inside.
Inside was much cooler and cleaner than Leo's forge, which was a welcome change. As they came through the door, they were greeted by a girl in a white dress with dark brown hair. She smiled at Percy as he entered and led the two of them to a table without a word. Annabeth could only assume that the girl was Calypso, as the only other patrons in the tavern were a bunch of rough looking men baring scars and eye patches. Soon, they were chowing down on the most delicious beef stew that Annabeth had ever tasted in her life and were sitting content with each other's company.
"So," Percy said between bites "I believe you still have to tell me your story." Annabeth nodded slowly at him. "That I do."
She set her spoon down in her now empty bowl and stared at Percy contemplatively, wondering just where to begin. After a moment of silent thought, she began. "I grew up in London. My family is wealthy because they run a successful spice trade." Percy gave her a small smile.
"Sounds like a nice life." He said quietly.
Annabeth snorted softly. "You'd think so, but it's not so nice when your family doesn't even want you around. My father hardly doesn't even know I'm alive what with all the work he does, and my stepmother hates me. She prefers her children." Percy, Annabeth noticed, was uncharacteristically quiet and still, regarding her with those ocean-like eyes, his gaze every bit mysterious as the waves that rippled across the sea. She cleared her throat and continued on. "That's why I was on that ship you know. My stepmother sent me to gather the treasure that was owed to us from one of our settlements in the Caribbean. Probably knew the odds of being attacked by pirates was high. But I guess I got lucky." She said, favoring Percy with a shy smile. A ghost of a grin touched Percy's face, his expression remaining still remaining neutral. Annabeth decided Percy was a really good listener. "It wasn't all bad, however," she went on. "Since my stepmother didn't want me around, I pretty much had free reign and did what I wanted. I learned how to fend for myself, learned a bit of sailing from the men on the docks. I also read. I read about battle strategy and warriors. Never was much like the other girls I suppose." Annabeth chuckled at the thought. "But what I've always loved is architecture. I suppose it's because of my parents, really. I've grown up my whole life watching them build this monetary empire that'll just fade away in a couple generations. I want to make something permanent. Something that people will see centuries from now and be amazed. Buildings that will dominate the skyline and-" Annabeth cut off as she realized she was rambling. She blushed and lowered her head. "Sorry, you probably don't care about any of that stuff." Annabeth jumped in her seat as Percy brought his fist down on the table, causing the silverware to rattle noisily. "No way!" he cried out. Then, after realizing the intensity of his outburst, he slouched back down into his seat and looked at Annabeth sheepishly. "I mean- like- no way am I not interested. That all sounds incredible." Percy gave Annabeth a look she couldn't quite figure out. "Something permanent. I get that." Annabeth was just about to ask him what he meant by that when a dagger buried itself into the wall between her and Percy.
She whirled around to see where the dagger had been thrown from. The rough looking men who had been sitting at bar now glowered at them as they approached slowly, sabers drawn. Too many to fight she thought belatedly as Percy took her by the arm and dragged her upstairs.
"Where are we going?" She cried up to Percy, who still ran at a breakneck pace.
"Somewhere where'll you'll be safe!" he managed to call back over his shoulder. Annabeth grimaced at his words.
"What about you Seaweed Brain?! You can't honestly expect me to stand idly by and do nothing to help you while you're in danger! I want to help! I can fight!" Percy grit his teeth as he opened the trapdoor at the top of the stairs that led outside and slammed it shut behind them. He knew Annabeth wanted to help fight. He knew that she was a good fighter and an even better pirate. But these men….they'd kill her without so much as batting an eye. Putting her in danger was out of the question. Putting her anywhere near the danger was simply not going to happen. There was only one thing Percy could do as they approached a large gap between roofs. He didn't like it, but it was the only way.
"You have to jump!" Percy cried out as they sprinted ever closer to the ledge. Annabeth was right by his side as they made their way towards certain doom. They stopped at the ledge, teetering on the brink of a long fall.
"I'm not jumping without you!" Annabeth cried, tears welling up in the corner of her eyes. "They'll just have to kill us both!" They turned together to face their attackers. The men slowly approached them now, swords glinting wickedly in the moonlight. Percy set his jaw and squared his shoulders. So this is how it ends he though dryly. Looking at it now, a noose doesn't seem all that bad really.
"No," he said defiantly. "They won't."
He swept Annabeth up into his arms and kissed her smack on the mouth, only pausing a moment to lock his eyes with hers before throwing her to the other side of the gap. He drew his saber and spun around once more, ready to face the onslaught.
"PERCY! NO!" Annabeth screamed as she landed. She landed wrong on her ankle, pain flaring up and down her leg like lightning. She knew she wasn't making it back onto the other roof to help Percy. She whirled around to look for Percy in the tangled scene of battle, but could not get a clear look at him. She'd catch a glimpse of a shock of black hair or a flash of his blade as it rained down upon his enemies. For the most part, he seemed to be winning against his attackers and was simply finishing off the last few. Annabeth crawled back to ledge and was about to try and cross when she heard a sound that shattered her heart like so many pieces of glass.
A resounding explosion of a rifle being shot, followed by an even more deafening silence.
The sharp, bone chilling sound of metal hitting stone, clanging like a great bell as it came to rest on the pavement.
And the worst sound of all: the muffled thud of a body hitting the ground, much like a dead branch striking upon the hollow earth on the coldest night of winter.
Annabeth's heart froze like a block of ice. No. He can't be. He can't be! Percy! Annabeth scrambled to her feet, her injured ankle forgotten in her haste to find Percy. After jumping back across the gap, she scrambled to where she last saw Percy standing. She found him lying there, a hole punched through the fabric of his coat in the center of his chest, a trickle of red blood leaking from the ghastly wound. She put her hands over the hole finding his body to be cold to her touch. Oh gods, he's dead! Annabeth took his head in her hands and started to sob uncontrollably.
"No! NO! NO! This wasn't supposed to happen Percy! You were supposed to live with me. We were going to be the best pirates. Together! You can't do this now dammit! I-I-I love you, Percy. So much. I wanted so much for us and now…." Annabeth broke off into heartbroken sobs that racked her whole body as she curled into a ball on the ground.
Leo, Piper, Hazel and Frank all came out onto the roof, weapons at the ready, but found no one to fight. Instead, they found Annabeth curled into a ball, weeping over the corpse of the now late captain, surrounded by the remnants of his final battle. The group gathered around and each spoke a few words on his behalf, saying that he was a true hero, despite being labeled as a criminal by the royal navy. A man of strength and loyalty, an adventurer in his prime. Loyal until his last breath. Everyone bowed their heads in a moment of silent reverence for their fallen friend.
"Well that was all very touching, but it'd be swell if someone could help me up now. This roofing thatch is simply full of chiggers that I'd rather not get to know better."
Annabeth lifted her gaze to the body lying in the center of their circle, unsure of who she heard.
"Percy….?" She asked weakly. Slowly, Percy's now not-so-dead body sat up and regarded the hole in its chest with passive interest.
"H-how...?" Annabeth stammered out, her voice failing to work as her brain struggled to find an explanation. Wincing, Percy took off his shirt to reveal a thick steel plate, a small hole punched into the center of it. Gingerly, he pried the plate off of himself and removed the bullet that was buried less than a half-inch deep into his flesh. Percy tossed the projectile to Frank, who caught the object with a start.
"Your "bulletproof vest" needs more iron." he said flatly, giving everyone a dry grin. He turned to Annabeth with that self-assured smirk on his face. "What do I always say? Nothing's ever as it seems when you're with p-" Annabeth launched herself at him pummeling him with fists and words alike.
"YOU-YOU- IGNORANT, UNBELEIEVEABLE ABSOLUTE-" Annabeth was unable to finish her thought as Percy gave her such an intense kiss that Hazel, Frank, and Piper blushed and averted their eyes while Leo laughed uncontrollably. As the two separated, Percy leveled his sea green eyes with Annabeth's stormy gray ones. "And I love you too, Annabeth Chase." He said with a smile. Annabeth, her brain not even near in shape enough to come back with a witty retort, simply kissed him again.
- Several Days Later-
"How's the starboard side look, Chase?" Percy called out to Annabeth from the wheel of The Trident.
"Clear, Captain!" she replied, giving him a small smile. "No storms coming in, no Navy chasing us, no killer pirates bent on plundering everything in sight-"
"Aside from us, I presume?" Percy interrupted with a grin. Annabeth rolled her eyes at him.
"Aye, aside from us." Percy clapped his hands together in delight and wrapped his arms around Annabeth's shoulders.
"Splendid! Nothing but my ship, my girl, and a beautiful ocean. Does life get any sweeter than this?" Annabeth chuckled and planted a kiss on his cheek.
"Just wait until tonight, Seaweed Brain, then you'll see."