"That's not fair!" Charlie protested, jumping in front of Jase's body to protect him. He picked up Jase's dagger and pretended he knew how to use it. "You can't fight him if he's not conscious! What do you think you're going to do?"

Ate ignored Charlie's question. "He's not the one I summoned here to fight. You are."

Charlie stumbled back with a short, "What?" Charlie hadn't considered this to be an option, and neither did the Jacksons. Even Nico, who was just beginning to wake up, was surprised.

Ate flowed forward to meet him. He graced his fingers beneath Charlie's chin. "A weapon is only as powerful as he who beholds it."

Charlie growled in defiance. He sharply said, "Jason is not a weapon, and I do not behold him."

"Oh?" Ate seemed to find pleasure in this. "Is that so? He has powers, I've heard, that could take down the gods. Powers that could leave Zeus helpless against him. But he doesn't want to use these powers, pity. So why does he?"

Me, Charlie thought. He did not say this.

"If I let him go now, he would attack me would he not?"

Charlie nearly rolled his eyes. "You've attacked his family! Of course he would!"

"What if you told him not to?" Ate asked. "What if you clasped one hand over his knee, the other around his chin, forced him to look you in the eye and told him not to attack me. Would he?"

Charlie knew the answer. Supplication wouldn't have been necessary. If Jase awoke right now and ran forward, ready to kill, Charlie wouldn't have to beg. He wouldn't even have to ask. Charlie knew that if he raised a hand, even just one finger, Jase would stop. If he so much as sent Jase an unsure look, he would not lunge forward to attack. Again, Charlie didn't say this.

"Wherever you go, he is bound to follow. Don't you understand? All the power you have, the kingdoms you could conquer with him by your side. But you don't want that. You don't want any of that. Join me, and I could make everything go back to normal. You could go back to California. Go back to your mechanics club and Friday steak nights. Nothing would have to change. You'd never have to worry about monsters again, nightmares would no longer hinder you at night," Ate offered.

Charlie wanted to ask how he knew all of this. He wanted to yell in defiance and burn the perfectly sculpted eyebrows off of Ate's face. Instead, what came out was, "And Jase?"

Ate smiled, showing his wickedly straight teeth. "He would stay beside you. He would not leave you for the world, you know that by now. The perfect life. No monsters, no Tartarus, no wars, him safely beside you each night and every day. He would have no more nightmares, no voices, no scars. You both would be safe."

Charlie hated how he thought of the idea. It sounded too good to be true, so perfect. Life could go back to normal. But at what cost? How many people would die because of his greed? Jase would never say yes. He would have stared Ate down and made some sort of threat. But Charlie wasn't Jase. He didn't have the ability to just go with whatever pain the Fates could throw at him.

"Let him go," Charlie finally said, turning his head slightly towards Charlie.

Ate sighed dramatically. "If you will not agree with me, I will be forced to make you."

Charlie lifted one eyebrow and lit his hands aflame. "Oh yeah? I thought you said I was the most powerful demigod in the world."

"Not without your weapon," Ate taunted.

Charlie had no quip for this. "What are you going to do to him?" he asked, his confidence waning.

"Break him."

For some reason, this didn't scare Charlie as much as it probably should have. Lots of monsters and even gods had tried break Jase but they never could. How was this any different? Jase promised him that he would never leave him, and Charlie believed it.

"And how do you plan to do that? There isn't much you can do that hasn't already been done. He can take whatever it is you have, but can you handle him when you're done? He's stronger than you'll ever be and you know it. Don't anger him, don't anger me, and you might survive this day," Charlie threatened.

"You know," Ate calmly spoke, "there's one thing in common with every time Jason Jackson has been near death in the past year. You. You've always been there. It makes him stronger. What would he do if you were gone?"

Charlie's breath turned to stone. Alastor had said that Ate was the god of delusions, trickery. He could make Jase see whatever he needed to see. Charlie realized what Ate was doing.

"Me. You're using me," Charlie said simply.

Ate gave only one single nod. "Right about now, he thinks you're dead. Impaled through the stomach, begging for mercy. Much like Philtatos Patroclus in the old tales. I suspect to hear his cries of grief soon."

Charlie spared a look behind him. Jase wasn't crying. He wore a determined look. He knew. Jase always knew. Charlie had seen him die once before, he was determined not to see it again. He'd seen Jase in times of pure desperation, when he was at his weakest and everything was broken. This was not him now.

"He'll know it's not me," Charlie said confidently.

"Why do you say that? Do you think the god of delusions is not enough to trick him?"

Charlie smirked. "No, you're not. He will know it isn't me. He will know it's not real, and he will come back."

He will come back to me, Charlie thought.

Ate began to laugh but stopped suddenly. He looked towards Jase's body in shock. Charlie didn't need to look. He felt Jase's hand settle on his shoulder. He smiled.

"Charlie," he said.

Charlie only nodded, trying not to display his relief.

Jase turned towards Ate. "You were right about one thing. I'm with him, whatever happens. But Charlie would go nowhere I cannot follow. You don't give him enough credit," Jason hissed.

He took the awaiting dagger from Charlie's hands and burst forward. Charlie's cheeks were flushed. He didn't know Jase had been listening.

Blue light lingered after each swing of Jase's blade. Ichor, blood of the gods, left puddles on the ground. Jase didn't need to use his powers here, although he had the urge to.

"Don't you realize?" he said as the god neared death. "I would know him anywhere. The way his eyes squint just slightly when he's hurt. I know his smell. I know the way his fingers feel curled against my skin. I know the sound of his footfall, the patterns of his literal beating heart. You cannot fool me, for I would know him in pain like you tried to show me, I know the exact beating of his heart." Jase spoke almost poetically. "But seeing his death, whether real or a deception angers me beyond your understanding. And you'll pay for it." The final blow was one of revenge. The blade landed directly between Ate's eyes, completely submerged in the space of his skull.

(Author's Note: I actually haven't decided on the final ending yet, even though I've written multiple... What do you want to see?)