He trudged half-heartedly through the streets of New York rubbing his arms, moody and brooding, earning himself occasional glances from passerby. Percy wasn't exactly happy about his current predicament: free-time without Annabeth.
Sure! The giant war ended nicely, no one too loved died (unless you count Leo, who had apparently resurrected and was spotted recently in Texas),which was quite a miracle, considering the amount of action they went through. Most of the giants were killed (so was Khione, that betraying-D-grade goddess!), their essence separated and stored in several celestial bronze around the world. No one knew exactly where they are gone to, after being handed over to Athena. Gaea's human form was blown up into billions upon billions of godly particles, the Earth once more calmed, much like in the state of Uranus.
Both the Demi-gods camps survived, mostly, without great casualty due to the most helpful contributions of Nico and Reyna (not to mention Thanatos, blackmailed by Nico) Now, currently, the former was somewhere on errands for Hades and the latter back to Roman praetorship, joined by Jason and Piper, who volunteered.
Frank was taking Hazel around the world, currently in... somewhere (he can't keep track, okay?), and his piece of firewood safely out of the way, currently in The Pandora's Jar, in the middle of nowhere. Piper thought it was sweet of him, since he obviously took Hazels lack of knowledge about the mortal world to heart. By the gods, she probably doesn't know what the Empire State Building is.
Leo... well, he was... He hadn't made contact with them ever since his fiery fiasco. Nobody actually know what was going on. Though Percy had suspected that Piper know something that he doesn't she had avoided his questions quite expertly.
Thalia went back to service after Artemis, after some pretty tearful hugs. Percy tried not to join in the weepy group, but failed either way when Thalia caught him in her bone-crushing hugs. She was last seen talking with Hylla, the Queen of Amazons, walking away into the forest.
Annabeth was with Athena, doing gods know what. After a giant war and the unity of Greek and Rome, it really creates an unbelievable amount of paper work. And redesigning too, owing to the fact that after meeting the Romans and with the new portable gold mine ~ Hazel ~ Annabeth got so many new ideas and now she really have of the materials she would ever need. Though she did feel a bit guilty (thank you so much) about leaving Percy on his own, again. Not after they been through hell itself. But no one can ever turn down the gods, which had somewhat ruined Percy's plan for Roman College. "Sorry Percy," Annabeth had promised, "I will try to finish this quickly. Just don't die while I am gone, okay?" With his luck? Maybe.
Nico had been handed over to Will Solace, the Apollo medic and head councilor, who had taken to himself to stop Nico from melting in to a puddle of shadow. Strangely, Nico hadn't been protesting at all...? Piper had once again refused to answer his prodding questions.
And that leaves Percy, with nothing to do. Technically, he would had signed up to train newbies sword fighting, if only had Chiron not intervened, with all his: GET SOME REST business.
And tah da! Back to New York. He spent most of his unwanted 'holidays' with his mother and step-father in his apartment, goofing around the streets and slaying random unlucky monsters, coming home only for dinners. It was an alien feeling, freedom. Not having to an objective, a target (aka-run for your life), and frankly, Percy felt quite lost now, living a mortal's life.
Also, it was not until he went back to New York he know that it was recently assaulted by aliens. He, had managed to miss an entire inter-galaxy war. Really, nothing can surprises him anymore. Flying man in armor, big green monsters, aliens, Nordic aliens that looked like humans and proclaimed to be gods...
He kept a hand in his pockets at all time, thumbing Riptide unconsciously. Even though the giant war was relatively a lot less messy than others, he still saw and went through plenty of disturbing things that could not be healthy for anyones' mental health. He still got nightmares, waking up at night panting and sweating. But he was comparatively lucky, next to what Nico went through...
No. No, don't think about it.
During the wars, Percy had made some pretty stunning discoveries about his powers, and it had been somewhat over-powered. Really, right until now, with plenty of spare time, he hadn't exactly take his water powers seriously.
And when he did, it was sweettttttt.
He had always known that he can control water, flood and storms and such, with all his under-water, storm generator and Moses experiences. Absolute power over any sea vessels, or ships, flying or not... And it was not until he somehow blocked a celestial bronze sword cut with water (a story for another time), he realizes the potential of his powers.
He had started with trying to summon his sword with water, and miraculously it worked, flying across the strawberry field straight into his hands. He was pretty exited about it, prancing around the entire day throwing his sword everywhere, but when he discovered that he cannot summon blue cola from the kitchen, his spirit dropped quite drastically.
He had spent hours meditating on the beach, cross-legged (compliments from Hypnos' Cabin), focusing on the water, the waves. He did this for weeks, you can always count him to be sitting there first thing in the morning. In waves he learned to be calm, calculated and keep his energy. It was somewhat of a miracle, that. Percy sitting still for hours? Not something you see every day.
From storms... well, lets just say his already over-powered sword skills went up another notch. And the phrase 'battering down like the hurricane" turned literal.
In a big disk of clear, pure water, he practiced forming things with water, commanding to take shape. At first, he could only raise a tendril of water, writhing like a snake in the air, causing Nico with his hell-fire and Jason with his air lassos to chuckle at his attempt. Though he thought of giving up, he never did. Maybe it was because of Nico and Jason, their very (annoying) existence to cause him to keep on doing the same thing.
Two months later, on a fine friday midnight, Jason was woke by a collapsing water pegasus.
Besides animating water, he tried to form static shapes out of water, such as a shield, armors, and bubble guns. He succeeded in it ( even the bubble gun ), but he stopped at daggers, He never attempted bows, knowing that his aim would still be as wretched as ever. No point testing the limits, or accidentally shooting anyone. His resulting creations are not pretty, but they can get the job done, proven multiple times. Though it was hard to hold its shape. Waters werebe not meant to be contained, keeping them the same for long periods of time would cause him headache and pain in his guts.
He had thought about trying to water travel like Nico can do Shadow travel, but at the end he chickened out. What if he accidentally melted himself and stayed stuck? That, is not a fate he would wish for himself.
Sighing, Percy went into a random eastern restaurant without even looking at the name to escape the summer heat. He nearly purred in content as he slumped down in a nearby seat, enjoying the cold air-conditioner.
He studied his menu, and to his surprise it was Arabian food. He had somewhat expected Indian, and was now feeling ridiculously guilty about being a stereotype. He glanced at the name - Shawarma Palace. Wraps and wraps and roasted meet. He wrinkled his nose slightly, and ordered a lemon tea.
He looked around the room, taking in the details while he waited. The restaurant had seemed like a pizza fast food shop, with all the papers taped and nailed on the wall, tiled floors and a counter. Several customers were sitting on nearby tables, eating quietly while some of the restaurant workers are chatting idly. Percy noted that some of the walls were freshly painted. That had sparked some suspicion in his mind, but when he remembered that the city had just went through a multi-alien invasion, it had snuffed out.
And, there is something queer going on.
There was a dude sitting near the counter, carrying a camera around, acting all jittery, his head kept cocking around nervously as if he is expecting something. His plate was empty. He was wearing glasses, a leather jacket that seen better days over a ruffled T-shirt. His clothes practically screamed NERD!, BULLIED!, HIGH SCHOOLER! and REPORTER!.
Not that Percy was black hearted. He knew what it was like to be the guy picked on, and felt some sympathy to this stranger.
Looking up, he saw that his lemon tea had arrived, giving a small smile to the blushing waitress, who then raced off. Girls. He can never understand them. He swiveled his straw and started drinking idly.
After a while, he started hearing a crowd murmuring. Looking up and shaking off his daydreaming, he saw a small crowd building in front of the shop, and that the reporter dude had perked up as well, his fingers practically twitching on his camera. Suddenly the door banged open, and a man in a stylish suit stumbled in. He got his sunglasses on, a very, very stylish hair cut and goatee beard.
The door banged shut by another big guy in front of the shop, herding the paparazzi away.
Percy glanced at the restaurant workers, who did not at all look to surprised to see this scene happening. The reporter dude held his camera high and took a photo.
The apparently famous dude blinked at the sudden flash of light, and sighed, muttering, "God, paparazzi out, paparazzi in, paparazzi everywhere."
The reporter dude looked sheepish, yet he was having a quite triumphant smile, snapping a few more photos. The manager of Shawarma Palace (seriously, though, what is shawarma?) appeared behind the counter, calling out at the famous dude, "Same? Sir Stark?"
Oh. Now he remember. Tony Stark, the Iron Man, billionaire, weapon manufacture, savior of Manhattan, playboy, dude with the glowing chest, etc. No wonder he looked familiar. Annabeth had tried to contact him several times, but apparently failed. And now, Percy, out of nowhere accidentally met her idol. What are the odds?
Tony looked around, brushed off a nonexistent spot of dirt on his suit and sighed, "Of cause. But seriously though, you guys need a take-away service."
The manager gave a smile that could only be described as slimy, "Well, we've been trying to improve, but the thing is we do not have the funds to hire..."
Tony waved him off, "Just give me a number."
Percy was somewhat confounded by his easy going, if somewhat sassy behavior. Really. A billionaire, going to a restaurant in the slums of New York personally for a meal and waving off a project that might cause hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Percy quickly drained his lemon tea, and paid the waitress before leaving the shop behind. He went back on to the streets and pulled his hood over his head, disappearing inside the crowd without a sound.
He struggled into his car with boxes of shawarma as Happy hit the gas, zooming the car out of the crowd. He rubbed his face tiredly. It was like only elven in the morning, and he already felt like he need to hibernate. The sun, the heat, the crowd... Some are good, but if in an over-dose its deadly.
Not fun at all.
He gaze at the shawarma at his lap, his appetite somewhat dropped. He started wondering if signing that contract was a good idea or not...
Stop it! Stop being negative. Be positive!
He struggled to stay silent and calm on the way back to the Stark tower.
Or more to say, the Avengers Tower. During the battle of New York, the tower was in the centre spotlight, which meant at the of the day it was a miracle that the building was still standing. Major renovations were made, which of corse was expected to be paid by him.
Not. Nope. Actually not really. He got alien friends. What are friends for if not for taking advantages of them?
In the renovation, he had saw fit to make the tower more of a fort than a luxury building. The roof top was armed with anti-air ballistics, all the sensors were and traps were upgraded, the glass windows were now all hammer proof (at least halfway decent, not Thor proof though) and Jarvis got an security update. Plus killing all the cameras and toys Shield sneaked into his home.
All done in the same day. Whew.
About after a twenty minutes car ride, he finally arrived back at his home. He stepped into his hall lugging his boxes of food behind him, his workers and shield agents alike nodded at him.
He stepped into the lift and pressed the 57th floor button, Jarvis suddenly said, sir, Director Fury had called a meeting.
"Yeah? What about it?"
He had assembled the Avengers, sir.
Tony froze, his mind quickly running through this piece of information. The Avengers? Now? What had happened that it would need the entire team to take care off? Unnervingly though, he could list a few. Alien attacks? HYDRA? Someone important dying?
The elevator's door opened with a pleasant ding!, admitting Tony into his own living room.
Only to found out it was occupied by every other member of the Avengers team but Thor: Barton surfing through his fridge, throwing bags of food unceremoniously onto his table, Dr. Banner lounging on his couch watching the News from his plasma screen, Rodger and Natasha regarding him with bored expressions.
And most of all, Director Fury himself standing right in the middle, saying dryly, "Good, you're here," as if it was Tony's fault.
"What's up?" Tony dumped his food onto the table without glancing at Director Fury, ignoring him as much as possible just to vex him, all the while forcing a smile on his face. Barton regarded this new piece of food on his table with interest.
"We had called this meeting today -" Director Fury began to say, but was interrupted by Tony's, "Cut it short. What did Shield mess up this time?", ignoring Fury's glare.
"Another unknown energy source," supplied Banner tiredly, not taking his eyes of the plasma screens.
"Correction: Multiple unknown energy sources," Natasha said, now groping inside her bag.
"Thank you, Agent Romanoff," said Fury, continuing, "Over the years, we had seen some pretty unexplainable things -"
"Nothing is unexplainable, Fury. It only depends if you are willing to find out," Tony quipped while moving the food away from a protesting Hawkseye, earning himself another glare.
"As I was saying, these unexplainable power surges had rocketed a couple of times. Once in New York, and the other one trailing from Long Island to Greece."
"What do you mean by power surges?" Tony asked, sitting down at his table, now interested, "Heat? Distortion?"
"Radiation, and heat too." Banner said, looking up from the TV for once.
Rodgers is now snoring on his particular piece of furniture.
"We had crossed reverenced these two Major power surges, and we found that it was almost identical, and it both occurred something weird happened. Are you familiar with the New York Blackout, Stark?" Natasha asked.
"That? No, not really, I was out of town that day."
"We had found that on that day, nearly half of New York's population had left for one reason or another, the rest had miraculously all fell asleep. Cars were found stuffed in the middle of the roads, some flattened, some other damaged in strange ways. And most of the statues had been removed from their pedestals and was found in pieces all over the city," Natasha recited from a piece of document she found in her bag.
"Okay, thats weird, might be aliens messing around. But -"
"Let me finish, would you?" Natasha snapped, causing Tony to back off sheepishly with his hands in the air, eyes widened dramatically. She began to read on, although with a slight frown, causing Barton to chuckle slightly, "The second time it was messier. By a lot. There was a trail of destruction all the way. Cars destroyed, buildings set on fire, collapsing car parks, flooding rivers, vandalization of many landmarks and such. It ended with an earth quake and a tsunami in Hawaii. "
"Now that is a bit more dramatic. Did some research, been there, done that. Concluded as aliens."
"Other than that, plenty of other instances traces of such power surges were found allover the world, albeit much smaller. And like wise, disasters always follows them. The smallest had been a flying trash can, the larger ones could be a random mountain set on fire, or a volcano eruption."
"Oh. Well, random things do happen. The point is - Wait, you are telling me that you've located one of these sources?"
"Yes, and that was the easy part. Now tell me, Stark, who and what was in that Shawarma Palace with you?"