Here is chapter two, as promised. I hope you enjoy!

Also, I didn't mention it in the last chapter (I'm so forgetful), but I would like to thank Annabeth Brady for beta-reading my story! She's helped me really put it together so: Thank you very much!

Disclaimer: I don't won PJO…it's 'k though.

Percy's POV-

Shortly after talking to Annabeth, we'd both called it a day and decided to fall asleep together. Neither of us really minded, and considering all we'd been through, sharing a bed didn't seem like a big deal. I just hoped that I didn't have any nightmares, and lucky for me, my wish was granted.

I'd had my first good nap in a long time, and it was all thanks to being with my Wise Girl. Finally.

Smiling, I caressed her face as she remained in dreamland beside me. I'd missed her more than anything in the world, but now that we were together, I couldn't help but think…what was next?

I sighed and leaned back, thinking once again about all the things that had led to this moment. There was just so much to go through, starting with my father and all the people at the Academy.

They'd thought I wouldn't be able to handle it. According to my "father", I was still too fragile to meet any other people and because of that he almost didn't let me see Annabeth again. That was complete bullshit of course, but who knows. I think I'm perfectly fine, but ever since that failed mission at the Academy people have been treating me like a porcelain doll with a crack down her spine. This meaning, I was fine now, yet the moment that broken little zig-zag was touched, there would be only fragments of my body left.

I wasn't angry though, just slightly annoyed. After all, I did manage to convince my father to let me meet her again and that was the only thing I really wanted at the moment. By simply seeing that everyone I cared about was okay, I was content.

Even so, my uneasiness didn't waver. For this, I blamed the Academy. It was their fault that I hadn't seen the outside world for more than a year.

Everyone had been going on and on about how Poseidon had saved me, but they didn't understand. Sure, he'd kept an eye on our family for fifteen years, but that's about all he did. Not once did he step in when Gabe was beating me-sometimes nearly to death-and he sure as hell didn't do a thing when he saw that the Titans were after me. Where was he then, huh? Why did he have to appear only when it was convenient for him?

It was by luck that he had managed to save me. I just happened to be standing near one of the emergency trap doors designed to help the Army escape. He didn't really want to help me. No, he simply saw that there was a bigger chance he could. If not, then he would've walked straight out and focused on himself.

I sighed, pulling the blanket even tighter around Annabeth and me.

I could still remember what happened. I had miscalculated the time the charm would blow, but my father hadn't. There were enough seconds left, that Poseidon could take it from my hands and throw it somewhere farther from us.

He moved so fast, that I didn't even have time to process what was happening. It wasn't until afterwards that I could remember him shoving me through the metal door beneath us.

"There's no time to explain," he'd said, "except that I'm your father and we need to get out of here."

That was the most we've spoken to each other outside of work-related topics, and despite all the months that passed since then, our relationship wasn't getting any better. Not that I cared. It just came to show how little that man cared about having a son; about his own flesh and blood.

Once we'd escaped, he'd taken me to the Academy where I went back to square one of training. That's when I came to the conclusion that I hated him.

There I was, trying to free myself of Olympian life, only to have my chances ruined by some selfish father who'd decided to send me to a fancy boot camp.

It was in that place where I felt myself become the person everyone feared. In the span of six months I'd gone from being the happy-go-lucky Percy Jackson, to the kid with the downright depressing aura.

Was I really depressed? I asked myself.


From behind me, I heard the clicking of a door. Instantly I jumped up and turned around, only to meet eye to eye with a very frightened-looking Frank.

"Geez, man." I grumbled. "At least knock on the door before coming in. We could've been doing something kinky."

Frank froze and eyed Annabeth, who was still sleeping beside me. "Are you sure you didn't already….you know…."

He made a bunch of flapping gestures with his hands, which I supposed were supposed to be imitating human intercourse. Poor dude couldn't even say it.

But I could.

I sighed. "Frank, we weren't having sex."

"I never said you were! I was just making sure…"

I rolled my eyes, turning to shake Annabeth's shoulder. "Hey, it's time to get up. The pervert came to get us."

Frank didn't deny the accusation. Instead, he looked down at the floor and pretended to inspect the carpet. I could hear him mumbling stuff like, Wow, what a nice shade of brown and Is that a blood stain I see?

I liked Frank, I really did. He was one of the few people who I believed was being his actual self, even if he had been undercover all that time I knew him at high school. When I'd first reunited with him at the Academy, I'd thought he would be different and completely unlike the clumsy not-so-little Asian Canadian dude I'd known.

That wasn't how things happened. He was the exact same person I'd grown used to, and for that I was happy. Still, he sometimes jumped to conclusions too fast. Like now, where he tried to pass off his dirty train of thought for innocence.

"Where are we going?"

I came back to reality, hearing Annabeth's groggy voice inches from my ears.

"I think it's time for the meeting," I replied, grabbing a hold of her hand while she was still caught off guard.

She flinched, knowing instantly what I was talking about. This talk was the thing we feared the most.

The most difficult part about coming out of hiding was that I still had to pretend to be dead until the time was right. In the Academy, that wasn't a problem. In there, no one was aloud to leave the building, and even if someone decided that they wanted to escape (something that was very unlikely), they still only knew my fake name.

My identity was concealed behind a ton of bricks and Roman legions.

"Yeah," Frank confirmed. "They're actually waiting for us right now."

Annabeth jumped off the bed, slipping on her shoes faster than lightning. "Then we have to go right away." She sent me a dark look. "You know how Reyna is about punctuality."

I shivered, planting my own feet onto the ground. "That woman is vicious."

We could hear screaming from the end of the hall.

Like always, everyone was settling matters with lots of yelling and drama. If this weren't a private organization, I would've recorded the entire event and sent it to a soap opera producer for reference.

"This isn't a matter that can wait! We need to get it back as soon as possible!"

Frank cringed, recognizing the voice of his superior. "That's probably Reyna."

"She doesn't sound too happy," I commented. "Are we late?"

Annabeth grabbed my arm and hurried up our pace. "Even if we were, she wouldn't be reacting this bad. They must be talking about something serious."

Reaching the door, Frank raised his hand, but before he could knock, a familiar curly-haired person yanked it wide open. .

"Grover!" Frank yelled, ready for a reunion hug.

"There's no time for introductions," he cut in, gasping for breath. "You better get in here fast. Reyna looks like she's about to blow her top, and Jason has no way of stopping her."

"Jason's here too?" I asked, trying my best to ignore Frank's kicked-puppy expression.

"I'm telling you that he is!" Grover sent a nervous glance behind him. "And from the looks of it, he's in some pretty deep doo-doo."

Frank peeked his head around Grover's shoulder, and shivered.

"Reyna, this isn't the end of the world."

"It actually kind of is," muttered someone else, who I immediately recognized as Nico.

Just how many people are participating in this meeting?

I pushed past Frank and Grover, Annabeth at my heels, and saw more members than I expected. Seated at the long table were Poseidon, Nico, Reyna, Jason, Luke, Ethan, and my mom. Wait, what?

"Mom?" I asked. "What are you doing here?"

She smiled, a mischievous glint in her eye. "I wanted to have a voice in these matters too. It's no use sitting around like a damsel in distress and letting things happen on their own. "

"But where's Tyson?" I hadn't seen him all day, and I was hoping it wasn't because he was avoiding seeing me.

My mom looked the other way. "I think it's best if you sit down for now. We'll get to that later."

Doing as she said, we all sat down, Annabeth by my left side and Grover at my right. Frank didn't seem too happy sitting in between Nico and Ethan.

"Alright," Poseidon coughed. "We're here to do two things. The first is to clarify the past, and the second is to plan the future. Are we all in agreement?"

Everyone in the room either grumbled a yes or nodded.

I didn't do anything.

"Now that it's settled, let's start with one of our more memorable events." Poseidon eyed Grover. "I noticed that some our newer members are a bit nervous around some of the people here. So I would like to make it clear that Nico Di' Angelo is not the enemy. Neither is Ethan Nakumura or Luke Castellan."

Grover avoided Poseidon's gaze. "I never-"

"What happened last year was a misunderstanding," my father continued. "Nico's time with The Army was a farce. He never intended to do any harm to Percy or his family. The video chat he set up with Kronos and his Titans was simply an elaborate play, and he was the puppet master. The gun going off, the death of Thalia, and everything that happened in between was the result of advanced special effects. Considering that he did this to protect them, despite the toll it would take on him, I can confidently say that these three boys are to be trusted."

Grover gulped, obviously afraid of what he was going to ask next. "I don't understand how."

This time, Nico himself answered. "Look, I can tell that you don't like me very much, but what I did was for a reason. After that happened, I had planned to infiltrate and tear apart Kronos's Army myself, but even then there was still the chance that some of them would survive and go after Percy and his family. The only way to avoid it was to make them think they were dead. Otherwise, they'd be the first targets to go down."

"Do you get it now?" Luke finished.

Grover shifted uncomfortably and nodded.

"Great," Poseidon said, more enthusiastic than was normal for this situation. "On to the next thing. You are all here because I summoned you, but does anyone actually know why?"

"You thought we were the best suited for the mission you're planning." Reyna spoke up.

"Right, and do you know the reason?"

This time Annabeth answered. "We're the most trusted, and we're also the only people who are willing to risk our lives."

Poseidon raised himself up high, looking like a proud teacher. "Exactly! While I wouldn't trust my own brothers and acquaintances in the U-Council, I can count on all of you."

"Is that why The Olympians still think we're all dead?" Annabeth asked, narrowing her eyes with suspicion.

"They don't think we're all dead." Reyna said. "Just Nico, Luke, Ethan, Percy, Tyson, Thalia, Sally, and Poseidon." She looked down at her hands where she'd been counting them all off on her fingers. "That might as well be half of us."

I frowned. "From what I know, Nico, Luke, and Ethan were supposed to have survived. Why do they think they're dead?"

"There was a follow-up video." Ethan replied, looking uncharacteristically nervous. "We sent it out to The Olympians and any Army member that might've escaped."

"It was a suicide note of sorts," Luke added. "In it, we supposedly killed ourselves alongside the bodies of Thalia and your family. The purpose was so that we could do our work without being chased after, and so that they wouldn't question where the bodies were if they tried to find them."

"That's sick," I commented, disgusted.

"This whole situation is sick," Nico spat, obviously insulted. "There was nothing else we could do and we were too short on time for anything else."

"I still don't think it's right," I grumbled. "Messing with other people's lives and treating them like toys. Poseidon's right. You're a puppet master, but one of the worst kind."

Nico shook, looking like he was going to snap back. Surprisingly he just turned back to Reyna and said, "It's your turn. Fill us in on what happened after."

She nodded, being one of the only people who didn't flinch when Nico addressed her. "Before we went into the main hall, Percy and I went different ways. I was supposed to go in through the back door, but as I was walking there, I bumped into Poseidon. I knew it was him because I've been told stories of how he looked since I was very young. Still, he gave me a fake name as a precaution and that's what I called him as we went to save Annabeth, and later do the same with Percy.

But as you all know, Percy didn't give us room to rescue him. He nearly blew himself up, and if it wasn't for Poseidon being near enough to get him out of the way, he would be gone for real right now."

I stiffened.

There they go again, with the "if it wasn't for Poseidon" talk.

Reyna didn't seem to notice and went on. "After that, I took Annabeth back with me to Half-Blood Alley and got her recuperated, while Poseidon went with Percy to The Academy in California. I was under strict orders not to tell anyone that he was alive." At this, Reyna sent Annabeth and my mom an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, but he would've been in danger if either of you had known."

"That still doesn't explain why I couldn't know my family wasn't dead" I said.

Poseidon sighed. "Percy, we've been over this."

"Not in front of my mom," I smirked, knowing how scary she could be when something had to do with her 'little baby boy'. "Let's see what she has to say to your reasons."

My mom raised an eyebrow, for once looking Poseidon straight in the eye. That simple action was enough to make him visibly pale.

"Yes, Poseidon. Tell us your reasons." She said, her voice coated in an eerie tone.

Despite his obvious fright, my father sat up straighter and faced my mom face-on. A small part of me respected him for that, like it did so many of his other actions. It was the part of me that I wanted to keep hidden.

"I thought it was best to keep him away from any distractions." He replied.

"Like his family and friends?" My mom asked, narrowing her eyes.

"Exactly." Poseidon said, gaining momentum. "Is there a problem with that, Sally?"

Mom looked at me for a moment, and then sat back. "I think it'd be better if we went on with the meeting."

I agree.

"Right," Annabeth cut in. "Good idea. I think it's my turn?"

Frank nodded, not able to muster a word after seeing my parents get at it.

"After I got back on my feet, Reyna told me about a secret organization separate from the Olympians and The Army. She told me that it was founded with only select members, and that the leader was a man named Poseidon." At this, she gestured at my father. "It was supposedly made to handle the things no other group would. She described it being a bit like a freelance type of job, and that's why I'm here now. I spent the time Percy was away, training my body and mind here, while still acting like a normal person outside of work."

Reyna nodded. "The same thing with me. While I'm still Praetor of Rome alongside Jason, I also remain loyal to this unnamed group."

"You didn't have to mention that," Grover grumbled. "We just haven't thought of anything cool enough."

"I say we go with Mythofreaks, in honor of fetus Nico," Luke smirked.

"Shut it." Nico glared at the table in front of him, going red.

"Anyway," Annabeth cut in, "Now we have a problem, and what that issue is, only Ethan knows."

Everyone's eyes swerved to where he sat, mindlessly picking at his shirt.

"What? Is it my turn for story time?" He asked.

No one responded, so he sighed. "Alright then, where should I start? Er…let's see…AH! I Know! I noticed it the night before she caught me."

"Who caught you?" I asked, not even knowing what he'd been caught doing.

"Shh," Ethan said, finger to his lips. "I didn't interrupt you guys, so please don't interrupt me. Anyways, two weeks ago I was given a very simple mission by none other than Poseidon himself." At this he nodded to my father. "Athena was having a meeting with some important businessmen and I had the special job of listening in. It was supposed to be a fast go in and get-the-hell-out kind of thing…except that's not how things turned out.

I remembered Poseidon mentioning a mission like this to me once. Apparently, Ethan had listened in while hanging on a chandelier, though how he'd managed to get on it, I had no idea.

Ethan laid his chin on interlocked hands and thought for a bit. "The whole conversation had been about stolen papers that they needed to get back, and it ended pretty quick.

After they'd left, I waited nearly two hours to make sure they were really gone. It wasn't until then that I moved, thinking nobody else had stayed. As it turned out, Athena was there the entire time, hiding in the shadows until she was absolutely sure no one was listening in."

Grover leaned forward, his eyes wide like a child listening in on an exciting story. "What happened next?"

Ethan smirked, amused by Grover's antics. "She nearly killed me."

"Huh?" Frank gasped.

"Athena pulled on one of the ropes that held up the chandelier," Ethan continued. "I was a halfway up the ground, when she stopped the crash and threatened me with letting go unless I told her who I was."

"You told her about us, didn't you?" Reyna asked, narrowing her eyes.

Ethan fainted being insulted. "You should trust me more than that! Of course I didn't. All I did was say that I was a friend who was trying to help."

"So she let you go just like that?"

Dropping his cocky attitude for once, Ethan nervously avoided Reyna's glare. "That's what I thought. Somehow she followed me all the way here and found out about everything on her own."

"Dude!" Luke smacked Ethan upside the head. "What were you thinking!?"

"Let him finish," Poseidon cut in. "It's because of that event that we have an upper hand now."

"I don't see how we could," Luke grumbled.

Ethan cleared his throat, this time scooting a bit farther away from his friend. "A few days later, she cornered me and told me she knew what we were up to. Except, she wasn't angry like I thought she'd be. Somehow, she knew we were trying to help and even though she admitted to hating his guts, Athena said that she trusted Poseidon. After that, I convinced them to meet, and we formed an alliance. It didn't take long, but there were conditions.

Athena would help us get rid of the rest of the surviving Army Members. She'd make it possible for us to go back to our normal lives and stop pretending to be dead, as long as we did something for her."

Nico frowned, a common sight for him. "Don't tell me…she wants us to get back her precious stolen papers."

"Not exactly." Ethan let out a deep breath. "She wants us to retrieve something much more important."

"What could be more important than her material?" Frank asked.

My arm fell limp as a thought struck me. From what I knew, Athena and Poseidon had a long-time rivalry that they wouldn't overcome for just anything. If the situation were really that bad, then it meant the thing that had been taken from her was-

"The Mark of Athena." I clenched my hands as I looked everyone around me in the eye. "The thing stolen from her…it's The Mark of Athena."

"And…what's that?"

I looked at Frank, shocked that he wasn't familiar with something so important.

"It's a seal," I answered. "Every Olympian has one."

Frank still looked very confused. "Why would she want us to risk our lives for that?"

"You don't get it," I snapped. "The Mark of Athena is a symbol of power. The Olympians have one each, and every one of them is unique. You could look for the rest of your life and never find one like it in your entire lifetime."

"Alright, we get it. It's important stuff." Ethan narrowed his eyes. "Why are you getting so worked up about it? Aren't you usually Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky?"

"Don't call me that. I'm just being careful," I clenched my fists under the table. "That seal can do a lot of damage if the wrong person gets their hands on it."

"The point of bringing this up isn't to start an argument," Poseidon interrupted. "I'm going to propose a plan, and I want to know whether all of you are willing to risk anything to do it."

"What is it?" Frank asked.

Poseidon shook his head. "I need to know if you're willing to face anything first. Whoever leaves this room right now will not be counted as a coward. This is your last chance to back out."

The whole table remained silent. Not a single person moved from their seat, and there wasn't a hint of uncertainty on anyone's face.

We'd already risked too much to back away now. It was either run away or take what we started to the end. Though it wasn't the easiest choice, we all chose the latter.

"You should give us more credit," Ethan commented. "None of us are cowards, you know."

Poseidon sighed. "I apologize, but I needed to know. This isn't something as simple as those last missions, and there's no guarantee that it will come to anything."

"Then spit it out already," I snapped, though I had an inkling about what it was that he wanted us to do.

"I need you all to split up and find the Mark of Athena," Poseidon said. "It was stolen last year, and we'd hoped to recover it by now, but…we still have no clue where it could be."

"Then how can you expect us to find it if you don't know where it is?" Luke asked.

"We've narrowed it down to two places. It'll be either in Mexico or Greece."

"And if it's not actually there?" Nico asked. "What'll happen?"

"Thousands of innocent people get sent to their deaths and whoever stole the Mark gets control over all of Athena's territory," I replied. "What did you expect?"

"Exactly," Poseidon replied. "But not only that. If our enemies see that Athena can have something so important stolen right under her nose, they'll start to believe that it is possible for them to do this to all Olympians. It'll essentially raise their ego's and make them think they're capable of bringing them down."

"That makes sense," Nico remarked. "Unless we find the person who stole the Mark, and punish them, our enemies will think that they have free reign to do whatever they please."

"So, what? We have to bend to Athena's wishes and stoop below the Olympians like before?" Luke scoffed. "I thought we were independent now, but we're exactly the same."

"Not exactly," Poseidon commented. "Athena may be threatening us, but I seriously doubt she can actually do anything. She's putting on a tough face because she doesn't want to look weak, and wants to hide the fact that we can still decline."

"Then lets not help her," Ethan said. "Plain and simple as that."

"We can't do that." I looked at my hands, feeling everyone's eyes swiveling in my direction. "You're all acting like idiots. Sure, you may hate the Olympians, but this isn't just about whether you like them or not. Whoever has the Mark of Athena could do nearly anything to anyone in the world and get away with it."

"Can't Athena fix the problem herself?" Frank said tentatively. "She's the owner of The Mark…so doesn't that mean she can, you know, deactivate it?"

"She won't do it," Poseidon scoffed, his dislike of Athena made clear. "She's too prideful to admit that she lost it."

"It's not that," I frowned. "You're not thinking about the whole idea. If she 'deactivates' The Mark like Frank said, everything she'd stamped up to now would also be put on hold. Either way, lives would be taken unless we get it back."

"So you agree to the mission?" Poseidon asked. I could tell that by the look in his eye that he knew what was going on in my head. He knew that there was a bigger reason for me wanting to help.

Ignoring the curious glances of Frank and Nico, I nodded. "I'll do it by myself if I have to."

"You aren't doing this on your own," Annabeth spoke up. "I agree to go also."

I grimaced, for a second wanting to make her take back her answer. It'd been so long that I'd last been together with Annabeth, and I didn't want that chance to be ruined again. I wanted her to be safe, yet I also knew she wasn't some damsel in distress, and I had no right to hold her back.

Annabeth was brave, and besides, I was sure that after a year of training, she was able to handle herself completely. There was absolutely no way that she'd end up like-like him.

I bunched my jeans into a ball, trembling from the memories.

My fault.

The flames were lapping at his arms…consuming, burning, tearing apart his-

"Go! Don't worry about me!"

My fault.

Olive skin, corroding, blackening-

"Save yourself! We've failed the mission already!"

No longer looking like flesh…Crows feathers…torn and blackened like-

My fault.

Crows feathers, and, and, and, and, and, AND-


I blinked, realizing I'd missed an entire five-minutes worth of conversation. Again.


In the background, I heard my 'father' speaking. His deep voice took up the entire room. "Leaving this room, there is no running away. If you decide that you don't want to partake in this mission, then you may leave this entire organization completely."

He stood. "Get a good night's sleep and make sure to pack your bags for tomorrow." Poseidon gave us each a meaningful look. "And be prepared to say goodbye to those who aren't in your group. You may not be seeing them for a longtime…if ever."

With that, everyone stood and slowly walked out of the room. On his way out, Frank gave me a small pat on the back, as if he knew what had just happened to me.

Out of everyone in the room, he understood the most.

The only person left, besides me, was Annabeth. She was still looking at me with those worried grey eyes of hers, and it wasn't until I saw how she was looking at me that I noticed the small tremors going through my body.

"Are you alright?" She asked, waiting intently for me to answer.

I relaxed the grip on my pants, and forced a smile onto my face. "Yeah, sorry. I must've zoned out a bit."

"That seemed like more than just 'zoning out'", Annabeth pointed out. "You look downright awful."

Feigning hurt, I gave Annabeth one of my signature kicked-puppy pouts. "That isn't something a boyfriend wants to hear from his girlfriend. It's not very nice."

Not falling for it, Annabeth punched me lightly on the shoulder. "I'm serious, Seaweed Brain. You're pale as a sheet!"

"I'm fine. There's nothing to worry about…Scratch that. I need some more sleep."

Annabeth scoffed. "You really weren't paying attention, were you?"

I thought for a moment. I couldn't remember anything past the Annabeth agreeing to the mission, and then…and then the flames consumed him.

"You're doing it again."

"Hm?" I blinked hard, and focused on Annabeth's face.

Seeing the furrow between her eyebrows, I mentally cursed. Involving her in my "little problem" wasn't something I wanted to do.

Before she could voice her anguish, I pulled Annabeth into a tight hug, catching her by surprise.

"Stop worrying, Wise Girl." I grinned into her shoulder. "As long as I'm with you, I'm the happiest guy in the world."

"You're so cheesy," She groaned, nevertheless wrapping her arms around me too. "Sometimes I wonder why we're together."

"Because you can't stand to be apart from me?" I teased.

A moment of silence passed. I chuckled, practically seeing the war between pride and truth going on inside Annabeth's head.

Finally, she sighed. "I guess that isn't a complete lie."

"It's okay," I whispered. "I won't let anyone know that you're completely in for me."

"You better not," Annabeth fake-scolded. "You won't hear the end of it if you do."

I closed my eyes, burying my face into her lemon-scented hair. "Hearing your voice all the time isn't a bad punishment."

Annabeth stayed silent, squeezing my shoulder as a response.

Being with her was my breath of fresh air. It was the only thing that made me forget everything that had been tormenting me for months.

It was the only thing that at least quieted the sound of tortured screams…muffled the smell of acrid flesh.

I could easily see the smoke coming out of his mouth.

The fire was now inside of him.

I hope you enjoyed the chapter! It was much longer than the last one, and that's kind of how the rest will be. :)

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Next update will be on Monday, 12 January 2015