I've gotten used to my warnings getting ignored by now, even if I don't like it.
Luke did it the most often and Annabeth the least, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still do it.
"It's the Gateway Arch, Perce, what could go wrong?" She asked, tapping her foot impatiently.
"I'm going to dive off that thing if we go there," I warned her.
She rolled her eyes and dragged Grover and I onto the elevator.
At least it got her babbling about architecture again, in a way I haven't heard her talk since before Luke went on his quest.
Annabeth looked confused when I told her that I was taking the fast way down and then uncapped Riptide, but her look of realisation and following screech of "PERSEUS!" right as the elevator closed in her face.
I did take the fast way down after successfully killing Echidna, but the Chimera nearly killed me and I had to throw myself out of the national monument.
Thank gods that even if I don't have powers over water, it can heal me and I can breathe underwater. That was very close…
Oh no, Apollo is going to be so angry I got myself into unnecessary danger. Great, I'm going to be swaddled in bubble wrap between him and Luke once this quest is over.
I was working myself into a panic attack at the fact that I'm so grounded when the Okeanid showed up.
She looked vaguely familiar, like a woman I knew a long time ago, but that line of thought got pushed aside as she informed me she had a message from my father and that I needed to meet her at Santa Monica Beach before she disappeared.
Annabeth began to yell at me once I met up with her, but I quickly silenced her with an annoyed, "I told you so!"
She didn't ignore a single prediction of mine for the rest of the quest.
We ended up Iris-Messaging Luke.
It was… awkward.
My apology was stilted, and he just sighed like a parent dealing with a rebellious teenager before accepting it.
"It's okay, Perce, I know it's not your fault. What you're Seeing and saying isn't you anymore." He said that so tiredly, so resigned, that I felt too guilty to ask what he meant by that.
I know what he means, and I'm scared by his belief.
Luke yelled one more thing about staying safe, and then the rainbow collapsed.
I was left standing there with a bitter taste in my mouth, and the slightest wisp of comfort that at least I saw my dad for a few minutes.
Ares appeared to ask us to do a mini-quest for him.
"I'm not giving a prophecy for this mess," I told him, unimpressed, the second he appeared. "I know what's going to happen, and I'd rather not."
He blinked at me in surprise. "I see why my brothers like you so much- you've got spunk, kid. But you're doing this quest."
"Did I say I wouldn't?" I snarked back, "I said I wasn't giving a prophecy for this. Now, can you at least pay the waitress in american dollars? Using drachmas is rude."
"I'm rude," He shot back, but did actually pay for our cheeseburgers with cash. "Do you want to explain what the quest is, Oracle, or should I?"
"It's your quest," I said, then focused on eating the diner food over his explanation.
Once he left, Annabeth elbowed me, hard.
"Ow! What was that for?" I whined, rubbing my ribs.
"You idiot! Be polite to the gods!" She hissed at me.
I rolled my eyes, "He respects bluntness over politeness. Besides, it's not like they can kill me- Apollo would throw a fit."
She hit me again, lecturing me on how I'm not immortal and hence cannot go around insulting gods.
I knew it was going to be fine, honestly, she should have realised by now that I don't do things that would kill me.
Annabeth was ready to strangle me.
"YOU KNEW THERE WERE SPIDERS AND YOU DIDN'T WARN ME?!" She shrieked, furious.
I was rubbing my ear, "I didn't See that they were spiders! It was blurry- I thought they were ants!"
As she fumed, I muttered under my breath, "Gods, Annie, you'd think it wasn't me with the superpowered scream the way you're shrieking."
She heard me. "PERSEUS ACHILLES JACKSON!"
I flinched, and hid behind the god who just appeared.
"Wha-?" Ares said, eyeing a furious Annabeth, a soaked Grover, and a cowering me. "Are the cameras still rolling?"
Annabeth looked at the Tunnel of Love, realised that yes, the cameras were still on, and turned bright red. "Perseus, you are so dead!" She hissed lowly.
I was still hiding behind the war god, to his amusement. "Please don't!"
"Do you brats want your reward, or not?" He was definitely hiding laughter, but since he snapped his fingers and turned off the cameras, I decided not to attack his ankles for it.
I knew I shouldn't have, but I took a nap in the back of the animal transport van.
I opened my eyes to the familiar black pit.
I greeted him, "Grandfather."
There was a long pause, "Perseus."
"Percy, please, I only get called Perseus when I'm in trouble." I replied.
"You are far more friendly this time, Percy. Have you realized that I don't want to bring you harm?"
"You don't want to harm me, not physically, but my mental health is of no consequence to you." I corrected him.
"Percy," He sighed. "You don't understand- the gods are manipulating you. The Oracles were cursed; you think just because you are of a new generation that you aren't cursed too? You met Luke's mother, she was mad. That is what's happening to you, you're already Seeing false visions, but it comes on slowly."
"That's a lie," I declared. "You're lying to me and you're lying to Luke! Why can't you just leave him alone? You'll kill him!"
"To fall in love with an immortal is a death sentence, child." Kronos corrected softly, "You know this just like you know your sanity- while you hold the powers of the Oracle- is not sustainable."
"I love him." I said, "I'll die for him."
I woke up.
So, I released a zebra, an antelope, and a lion in the middle of Las Vegas.
I couldn't exactly understand any of them, though Grover translated for us and said that the animals were very thankful for our help.
Roaring. Clopping. Crunch.
I didn't have the heart to inform them that the zebra gets caught by animal control after only two hours, and the lion eats the antelope at dawn before being put down. At least they'll have the freedom to run and be wild for a time.
I ended up physically having to sit down and weigh my options when it came to the Lotus Hotel and Casino.
On one hand, going inside would keep us to the exact timeline. We wouldn't be untangling the exact lines of the prophecy, it would be following exactly the ideal tapestry for our quest. I know I can get us out in time.
On the other hand, we would be wasting valuable time. What if I stumble later on in the quest and we don't make it in time? The Casino makes us so very close to the deadline. We can afford to skip entering it- this isn't fate.
I sat, cross legged outside the door of the Hotel- to the doorman's confusion- watching my hands.
Watching my fingers.
In my hand, I hold the strings. Untangle them, play the cat's cradle, knot and unknot them right, and I can see the best course.
After a few moments, I reached a decision.
Standing up, I marched into the hotel, grabbed Annabeth and Grover- who walked right in even though I told them to wait- and several Lotus cards from a concierge, before marching out.
"Percy! They had the coolest games!" Grover whined.
"It was also a trap," I told them. "Come on, the Marriott across the way is just as good, and the room service isn't drugged."
Annabeth is quick to follow me at that.
The next morning, when we pile into a taxi and promise the driver five thousand dollars to take us to Santa Monica Beach, I lean back against Annabeth and open my mouth.
"Hades doesn't have the Bolt."
"What?!" Annabeth hissed, "Then who does?"
I ignored the question, knowing she wouldn't react well to the response of 'we do.'
"His helm is missing, and he thinks I took it. That's why the Furies have been after us. He'll be pissed if we walk into the Underworld and start accusing him."
"So what do we do?" Grover asked, "Why are we still going to California?"
I smiled tiredly, "It has to happen."
They couldn't get any more answers from me after that.
I also have a PJO discord server for this fanfic (and my other fics) that anyone can join! (Just remove the spaces) : / / discord . gg/ hfXGUeraTg