After an hour of my mom and me packing our clothes and other such things, we were ready to leave.

Smelly Gabe took a respite from his poker game long enough to watch me schlep my mom's bags to the car. He kept groaning and moaning about losing her cooking — and, more importantly, his '78 Camaro — for an entire weekend.

"Not a scratch on this car, brain boy," Gabe warned me as I lugged the last bag into the trunk. "Not one little itty-bitty scratch."

I almost scoffed out loud — like I would be the one to drive. I was twelve! But that didn't matter to Gabe at all. Even if a gull so much as defecated on his paint job, Smelly Gabe would blame me. He would find a way.

Watching him trudge back toward the apartment building, I got an idea. As Gabe reached the doorway, I made the hand gesture that I'd seen Grover use on the bus. It was a sort of warding-off-evil gesture — a clawed hand over my heart, then a shoving movement toward Smelly Gabe. The screen door flung shut so hard that it walloped him in the butt and sent him flying up the staircase as though he'd been shot by a cannon. It might have been the wind, or a freak hinge accident, but I didn't stay long enough to figure it out.

"Interesting," Itachi said. I couldn't help but agree with him.

I got in the old Camaro and told my mom to step on it. She obliged.


Our rental cabin was on the south shore, way out at the tip of Long Island. It was a small, light-toned box with curtains that had been colored at some point, half sunken into the mounds of sand. There was always sand in the linens and spiders in the cupboards, and most of the time the waters were too cold to swim in.

I adored the place.

We had been going there since I was a baby. My mom had been going even longer. She never exactly said, but I knew why the beach was special to her — it was the place where she'd met my dad. It was obvious, what with the way she always had a wistful look on her face whenever we first got there for the year.

As we got closer to Montauk, she seemed to grow younger, years of worry and work disappearing from her face. Her eyes turned the color of the sea. I commented on it to Itachi.

"You're right," Itachi agreed. "Perhaps a god or goddess has blessed her."

"Blessed her?" I questioned. "What does that mean?"

Itachi chuckled. "I'm sure that you will find out soon enough."

We got there at sunset, opened all the cabin's windows, and went through our usual cleaning routine. We walked on the beach, fed blue corn chips to the seagulls, and munched on blue jelly beans, blue saltwater taffy, and all the other free samples my mom had brought from work.

I suppose I should explain the blue food.

See, Gabe had once told my mom there was no such thing as blue food. They had a really big fight, which seemed like a really small thing at the time — to me, at least. But ever since, my mom went out of her way to eat blue. She baked blue birthday cakes. She mixed blueberry smoothies. She bought blue-corn tortilla chips and brought home blue candy from the shop. This — along with keeping her maiden name, Jackson, rather than calling herself Mrs. Ugliano — was proof that she wasn't totally suckered by Gabe. She did have a rebellious streak, just like me.

But I digress.

When night fell, we made a fire. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Mom told me stories about when she was a kid, back before her parents died in the plane crash. She told me about the books she wanted to write someday when she had enough money to quit the candy shop.

Eventually, I worked up the nerve to ask about what was always on my mind whenever we came to Montauk — my father. Mom's eyes went all misty. I figured she would tell me the same things she always did, but I never got tired of hearing them.

"He was very kind, Percy," she said. "Tall, handsome, and powerful. But gentle, too. You have his black hair, you know. And his green eyes."

Mom fished a blue jelly bean out of her candy bag and gave a woebegone sigh. "I wish he could see you, Percy. He would be so proud."

I pessimistically wondered how she could say that. What was so great about me? A dyslexic, hyperactive failure of a kid with a D+ report card, kicked out of school for the sixth time in six years. My only redeeming quality — in my eyes, at least — was my Sharingan, which no one knew about.

"How old was I?" I asked. "I mean… when he left?"

She watched the flames blankly. "He was only with me for one summer, Percy. Right here at this beach. This cabin."

"But... I thought he knew me as a baby."

"No, honey," she said, shaking her head minutely. "He knew I was expecting a baby, but he never saw you. He had to leave before you were born."

I tried to compute that with the fact that I seemed to remember… something about my father. A warm glow. A bright smile. A twinkling eye full of mirth.

I had always presumed that he knew me as a baby. My mom had never said it outright, but still, I'd felt it must be true. Now, to be told that he'd never even seen me…

I felt angry at my father. Maybe it was stupid, but I resented him for going on that ocean voyage, for not having the guts to marry my mom.

"You're right, Perseus," Itachi grunted. "It is 'stupid,' as you say."

I narrowed my eyes. "How do you mean?"

Itachi groaned. "Have I taught you nothing, pupil mine? You have golden chakra! Your mother is mortal, which means that your father…?"

My mouth opened in surprise. "...Is a god?!"

Itachi snorted. "I see that you indeed have a brain, Percy."

"Should I talk to her about it, in addition to my eyes and the monster that was Dodds?" I asked, ignoring his quip.

Itachi paused. It was silent for a few minutes.

"Yes," he said at long last. "You should tell her about our eyes first and then branch off into the monster."

"Alright, Itachi. I will."

"Mom?" I asked, snapping her out of whatever sort of trance she was in. She hadn't moved from her position at all — she was staring directly at the fire, too.

"Yes, Percy?"

I closed my eyes. "What do you know about the Sharingan?"

My mom made a confused sound. "What's that?"

I opened my eyes, showing off the first-level crimson eyes. She gasped.

"You have those eyes!" She quickly activated her own eyes, shocking both me and Itachi. Her eyes were at the third level, too, which made me feel a pang of jealousy, but I quickly quashed it.

"How do you have them?"

Mom shook her head. "They 'unlocked,' so-to-speak, when my parents died, and I felt a lot of pain behind them when my uncle passed away. They didn't change, though. What I do know about them is that they are activated from stress and loss. How do you have them?"

"Tell her about Dodds, Percy," Itachi said. "This is probably the best time to do it. We both know that you had unlocked it before then — we just don't know exactly when — but she doesn't."

"Right," I agreed.

"I unlocked my eyes when my math teacher attacked me after turning into a demon," I said in one breath before flinching.

I could hear Itachi slap his forehead in exasperation. "What is tact, Percy?"

"Perseus Jackson," my mother said, looking up sharply, "this is a very serious matter. I need you to answer me truthfully. Have you been attacked by any other unusual people?"

"No," I responded.

We sat in silence for a while. I could tell that she was thinking really hard.

"Well," Mom said after a few more minutes of quiet, "We should turn in for the night. Come on, Percy."

I followed her.


That night, I had a vivid dream.

It was storming on the beach, and two beautiful animals — a white horse and a golden eagle — were trying to kill each other at the edge of the surf. The eagle swooped down and slashed the horse's muzzle with its huge talons. The horse reared up and kicked at the eagle's wings. As they fought, the ground rumbled, and a monstrous voice chuckled somewhere beneath the earth, goading the animals to fight harder.

I ran toward them, knowing I had to stop them from killing each other, but I was running in slow motion. I knew I would be too late. I saw the eagle dive down, its beak aimed at the horse's wide eyes, and I screamed.

"No!"

I woke with a start.

Outside, it really was storming, the kind of storm that breaks trees and knocks down houses — just like it was in my dream. There was no horse or eagle on the beach, however — just lightning making false daylight and twenty-foot waves pounding into the sand dunes like cannonry.

With the next thunderclap, my mom woke. She sat up, eyes wide, and muttered, "Hurricane."

I knew that was crazy. Long Island never sees hurricanes this early in the summer. But the ocean seemed to have forgotten. Over the roar of the wind, I heard a distant bellow, an angry, tortured sound that made my hair stand on end.

Then a much closer noise, like mallets in the sand, reached my ears. A desperate voice — someone yelling and pounding on our cabin door.

My mother jumped out of bed in her nightgown and threw open the lock.

Grover stood framed in the doorway against a backdrop of pouring rain. But he wasn't… he wasn't exactly Grover.

"Searching all night," he gasped. "What were you thinking?"

My mother looked at me in terror — not scared of Grover, but of why he'd come.

"Percy," she said, shouting to be heard over the rain. "What happened at school? What didn't you tell me?"

I was frozen, looking at Grover. I couldn't understand what I was seeing.

"O Zeu kai alloi theoi!" he yelled. "It's right behind me! Didn't you tell her?"

I was too shocked to register that he'd just cursed in Ancient Greek, and I'd understood him perfectly. I was too shocked to wonder how Grover had gotten here by himself in the middle of the night. Because Grover didn't have his pants on-and where his legs should be… where his legs should be…

"What have I gotten you into…?" Itachi murmured.

"I did tell her!" I shouted, but I was so… so confused! Confused at everything that was going on!

Mom grabbed her purse, tossed me my rain jacket, and said, "Get to the car, now! Both of you! Go!"

Grover ran for the Camaro — but he wasn't running, no, not at all. He was trotting, shaking his shaggy hindquarters, and suddenly his story about a muscular disorder in his legs made sense to me. I understood how he could run so fast and still limp when he walked.

Because where his feet should be, there were no feet. There were cloven hooves.


We tore through the night along dark country roads. Wind shot toward the Camaro. Rain whipped at the windshield. I didn't know how my mom could see anything, but she kept her foot slammed on the acceleration.

Each and every time there was a bolt of lightning, I looked at Grover sitting next to me in the backseat and I wondered if I'd gone insane, or if he was wearing some kind of shag-carpet pants. But, no, the smell was one I remembered from kindergarten field trips to the petting zoo — lanolin, like from wool. The smell of a wet barnyard animal.

All that I could think to say was, "So you and my mom… know each other?"

Grover's eyes flitted to the rearview mirror, even though there were no cars behind us. "Not exactly," he said. "I mean, we've never met in person. But she knew I was watching you."

"Watching me?"

"This is not good at all," Itachi said absently.

"Keeping tabs on you, making sure you were okay, that kind of stuff. But I wasn't faking being your friend," he added hastily. "I am your friend."

There was a slight pause. All that was audible was the heavy pitter-patter of the rain.

"Um… What are you, exactly?" I asked, completely at a loss.

"You know this, Percy," Itachi noted worriedly.

"That doesn't matter right now," Grover said firmly. I ignored his tone.

"It doesn't matter?" I repeated incredulously. "From the waist down, my best friend is a donkey —"

Grover let out a sharp, throaty "Blaa-ha-ha!"

I'd heard him make that sound before, but I'd always assumed it was a nervous laugh. Now I realized it was more of an irritated bleat.

"Goat!" he cried.

"What?"

"I'm a goat from the waist down."

"You just said it didn't matter."

"Blaa-ha-ha! There are satyrs who would trample you underhoof for such an insult!"

I paused. "Whoa — wait — satyrs? You mean like… Mr. Brunner's myths?"

"Were those old ladies at the fruit stand a myth, Percy? Was Mrs. Dodds a myth?"

"So you admit Mrs. Dodds existed!"

"We knew that already," Itachi said in a brusque tone.

"Of course."

"Then why —"

"The less you knew, the fewer monsters you'd attract," Grover said immediately — like that should be perfectly obvious. "We put Mist over the humans' eyes. We hoped you'd think the Kindly One was a hallucination. But it was no good. You started to realize who you are."

"Who I — wait a minute, what do you mean?"

"He's likely talking about you being a demigod, Percy," Itachi said.

"I know," I responded. "I'm fishing for information. Maybe we'll find out who Mr. Brunner is." I could feel Itachi smiling at my answer.

The strange bellowing sound rose up again somewhere behind us, closer than it was before. Whatever was chasing us was still hot — or, rather, wet — on our trail.

"Percy," my mom said, choked with emotion, "there's too much to explain and not enough time. We have to get you to safety."

"Safety from what? Who's after me?"

"Oh, nobody much," Grover said, obviously still miffed about the donkey comment. "Just the Lord of the Dead and a few of his blood-thirstiest minions."

"Shinigami…?" Itachi muttered frightfully. I couldn't help but agree. The Lord of the Dead was after me?

"Grover!" my mom screeched exasperatedly, interrupting my thoughts.

"Sorry, Mrs. Jackson. Could you drive faster, please?"

I tried to wrap my mind around what was happening, but I couldn't do it. I knew this wasn't a dream. I had no imagination. I could never dream up something this weird.

My mom made a hard left. We swerved onto a narrower road, racing past darkened farmhouses and wooded hills and PICK YOUR OWN STRAWBERRIES signs on white picket fences.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"The summer camp I told you about." My mother's voice was tight — she was trying for my sake not to be scared. "The place your father wanted to send you."

"The place you didn't want me to go."

"Please, dear," my mother begged. "This is hard enough. Try to understand. You're in danger."

"Because some old ladies cut yarn," I guessed. Itachi snickered in my head despite the situation.

"Those weren't old ladies," Grover said. "Those were the Fates. Do you know what it means — the fact they appeared in front of you? They only do that when you're about to… when someone's about to die."

"Wait," I said, looking at him accusingly. "You said 'you.'"

"No, I didn't. I said ''someone.'"

"You meant 'you.' As in me."

"I meant you, like 'someone.' Not you, as in 'you.'"

"Boys!" my mom shouted.

She pulled the wheel hard to the right, and I got a glimpse of a figure she'd swerved to avoid — a dark fluttering shape now lost behind us in the storm.

"You are not ready for any of this," Itachi said quietly. I ignored him.

"What was that?" I asked.

"We're almost there," my mother said, ignoring my question. "Another mile. Please. Please. Please."

I didn't know where 'there' was, but I found myself leaning forward in the car, anticipating, wanting us to arrive.

Outside, nothing but rain and darkness — the kind of empty countryside you get way out on the tip of Long Island. I thought about Mrs. Dodds and the moment when she'd changed into the thing with pointed teeth and leathery wings. My limbs went numb from delayed shock. She really hadn't been human. She'd meant to kill me. "A Kindly One," Grover had said. What did that mean?

Then I thought about Mr. Brunner… and the sword he had thrown me. Before I could ask Grover about that, the hair rose on the back of my neck. There was a blinding flash — a jaw-rattling boom! — and our car exploded.


A/N IV:

This actually took a while. It was kind of infuriating trying to find a way to write this chapter in an original sense, but the base form of this that Rick Riordan wrote is just so perfect. I changed it to have a bit less tension, due to upcoming scenes, but that was pretty much it.

To the guest that said "you can do better than this," thank you. Really. I appreciate what you said. But as is evident with the release of this chapter, Percy's act is just that — an act. He knows far more about the Greek myths than he lets on, and Itachi knows even more due to him studying it while Percy was learning other things at Yancy. Itachi did know about a lot of things, so History would be his only new subject.

But that's all semantics. I appreciate the reviews that you guys leave.

Also, I'll say it here — if you want to join my Discord server, private message me! We're not a big community yet, but we can be! We'll discuss all sorts of things there, from my stories to your stories, from video games to reality! It'll be fun, I promise.

In addition to that, I'm changing the update schedule from every Tuesday to every Sunday. It's easier for my schedule.

As for the disclaimer…

Naruto is a property of Masashi Kishimoto and Percy Jackson is owned by Rick Riordan. I do not own either series in any way, nor do I attempt to make claims of the said ownership. This is all in good fun, after all, and to hone my writing skills.

I will see you in the next chapter.

Tychon.