A/N — consider this a pilot chapter. I'm not quite sure as to what the reception to this story will be, so it may or may not be continued. If you like it, be sure to tell me, because I'm still debating.

As stated in the summary, it is probably going to be a crossover with BBC Merlin. No background knowledge necessary.

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!
-tear up the planks!
here, here! -It is the beating
of his hideous heart!"

- Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

- by Solaerius


5475 days, 9 hours, 30 minutes, 2 seconds.

He is born.

The world is awash with colors—blinding, molten colors that burns his eyes. He wails at the top of his lungs, struggling with his tiny little fists. He doesn't like it here. It is too loud, too chaotic, and he is cold —so cold, trembling.

But his cries go unheard, for large hands jerk him up by one foot, and at that very precise moment he is thrown into something that scalds and eats away at his skin, devouring his bones.

He struggles.

It was over before it began.

He sees black.


The water surrounds him, and the light of the world disappears. It is strangely peaceful.

He likes it here.

"It's not your time yet, my child," a voice says, softly, gently. Her hands caress him and for the first time, he feels safe. Warm. He snuggles closer, and blink open his wide eyes with a happy coo. He does not understand what she is saying. Can't he stay with her?

Death shakes her head, places one hand over his heart, her long, slender fingers slightly cupped.

"A gift," she finally whispers. "A curse. Use it wisely, child of the prophecy."

Her touch is like electricity. It screeches through his body, shocking his nerves and forcing them to work again.

His eyes flare open and he sees her face for the first time. It is beautiful, radiant, even, but he can't quite put a description to it. The lethargic darkness is torn away, and suddenly he is thrown back into the world of chaos and frenzy.

He hears people rushing past him, carrying things that hurt and things that beeped. He hears them shouting to each other in grating voices. He sees the colors; red, white, verdant, rushing over and over in his vision until he isn't sure where one ends and the other begins.

"A miracle he survived—"

"—the police are—"

"—the bitch is gone, masquerading as a nurse... how did I not see—"

"—he's alive—"

Then he hears one voice, one voice that stands out amidst the throng of sounds, shouting incoherent things he does not understand. Once again, hands latch on to him, and immediately he begins to panic, struggling vainly against his captors.

"—poor darling—"


He shrieks his rage, but it comes out as a distressed babble. He doesn't want them touching him. He hears everything. It's too loud, and threatens to overwhelm him.

The ticking of a clock.

Five days.

Thirteen years.

Nine months.

Everyone's is different, and as soon as they touch him, he knows what they could not. Things they do not understand.

Touched by Death...

He knew how it was going to end.


They swaddle him in a blue blanket. It's not the standard one, they say, but he has an innate fondness of the color and it soothes him in the way white could not.

White is sterile. It is cold and unliving, and it frightens him.

He is passed to another, one who immediately clutches him to her chest as though afraid he would disappear. She smells of radiance and strawberries and kindness.

And she is... warm. He snuggles closer, sleepily poking his thumb into his mouth. It feels nice.

He feels her quivering, and opening his eyes, he is alarmed to see tears streaming down her face. Her mouth is twisted into a sad expression, and frowning, he reaches out one chubby hand to pull the side of her mouth up. It is clumsy, and he is frustrated, but she seems to understand.

"Perseus. You are my Percy, my little ray of sunshine. They won't get you. I'm here, and I'll always be. I promise."

Percy... is that his name? It feels right, somehow, and he likes it very much.

As he opens his eyes, the woman gasps and hugs him tighter. His body fits into her arms perfectly, and he calms long enough to coo and smile toothlessly.

He isn't quite sure who he is or will be, but this woman has given him a name, something to cherish. He feels a sudden protective urge to keep her safe, and at that very instant, he knows he will do anything for her.

She is beautiful, more so than Death.

"Percy," she coos, planting fleeting kisses on his nose, his forehead, his tiny fingers.

He is putty in her hands.

4745 days, 9 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds.

People judge by appearances. It is the first lesson he learns, and while deception sometimes had its uses, at others it was downright annoying.

He is young, but he isn't naive. In another world, perhaps he would have been like other children. But Death's blessing has ensured he is anything but.

They don't think he understands, but he does. He understands too much at times. Whoever said ignorance was bliss was not exaggerating.

He knows what it means when his mother walks in, looking so tired and worn. At times like those, he would whimper and raise his arms, demanding a hug. She would smile and embrace him tightly —as if this would be the last time she saw him— but sometimes she grew so tired she would collapse on the threshold, and it took much nudging and crying to get her back up.

He feels bad, but he is only three years old. There wasn't anything he could do, and it wasn't like it could get much worse, right?

Murphy's law came into effect.

The next day, the snake tries to kill him, and the day after that, Smelly Gabe walks into his life.

3980 days, 3 hours, 19 minutes, 2 seconds.

In class, he shocks the teacher by flatly responding that Gabriel wasn't an angel. At least, his stepfather Gabe wasn't. He gets a week's worth of detentions for that, and while he takes it with an impassive expression, he seethes on the inside.

Adults are such bigoted, ignorant creatures, and he swears to himself to never become like them.

2875 days, 1 hour, 27 minutes, 49 seconds.

His mum sits by the foot of his bed, smoothing out his blankets, her hands moving in little circles. Frowning, Percy sits up, noticing how her eyes are vacant and staring unblinkingly at her hands.

He reaches out and gently grabs her wrist, stopping her movements. She jerks in surprise, almost as if she'd forgotten he was there.

"Oh, Percy, I'm sorry."

"It's fine, Mum. Is something wrong?"

She hesitates too long in answering.

The clock ticks.

"Nothing, Percy."


"I'm alright."

A lie so big even Smelly Gabe's pea sized brain can detect it.

"Really, everything's great. I just can't believe you're seven already. Time goes by so fast. Only four more—"

She clams up. Percy leans forward, frowning.

"Four more what?"

More hesitation. She doesn't want him to know. Doesn't want to take his innocence.

Didn't she understand he was never innocent to begin with?

"I can handle it," he adds, mostly for her benefit.

"I... Percy, have you noticed anything... strange happening around you? Anything at all?"


He thinks about the strange man with one eye. He thinks about how he doesn't get wet in the rain while everyone else does. He thinks about how the ticking of his clock seemed to get louder every time he passed one of his invisible watchers, the ones with the fiery whips and strangely beady eyes.

He thinks about how worried his mother will be if he says anything.

"No, Mum," he says, almost too quickly. "Nothing strange, except for the teachers hating my guts more than usual. I think I'm going to be kicked out again."

The tension drains away as though a switch had been flicked, and she sags with relief. She really doesn't seem to care that he's probably going to be thrown out before the term ends —really, it wasn't his fault those strange things did in fact happen around him.

He feels a little guilty, but pushes it aside.

She doesn't need more to worry about.

2145 days, 2 hours, 3 minutes, 58 seconds.

They don't believe him when he says that there was a strange snake-lady with a pointy stick after his blood at the museum. They think he set off the cannon for fun. Of course, they didn't exactly let him explain his case, and practically threw him out of the school.

The next school wasn't much better.

... okay, well, it wasn't his fault. Not really. The sharks were saying hi, and hey, he was curious. Besides, if they didn't want him to press the button, then why was it so big and red and in plain sight?

He changes schools once again.

1780 days, 22 hours, 1 minute, 29 seconds.

He sees the bruises. They ring around her arm like a grotesque wreath of violets.

Red hazes his vision, and suddenly, he cannot breathe. Everything fades away but the thought that Gabe had hurt his mother. His wonderful, beautiful mother.

"Who?" he hisses, and the smile on her face falters. Only too late did she realize her mistake, and her vain attempts to conceal the wounds do no good. He advances closer, like a predator that's prowling towards its prey, and grinds out, "was it Gabe?"

Even though he's only nine, he's very tall for his age, and reaches up to her chest in height. He makes up for his short stature with the sheer death that seemed to radiate off of him in waves.

Instinctively, she takes a step back, and on her face is an emotion he hadn't seen for a long time: fear.

It's like a punch in the gut.

(she shouldn't have to be afraid of anything)

Growling low in his throat, he steps backwards. "I know," he says. "You don't have to protect me any longer. I can deal with it."

He remembers how he made the strange man explode into yellow dust. He remembers how he made the rain water form a little tornado on his palm. He remembers how he was able to cause such destruction, such power in a single word.

No, it isn't normal, but normality wouldn't help him now.

He turns and runs towards the living room, his mother's cry of alarm pushed away.


He watches it drip down his hand.

He expects Gabe's blood to be black with filth. He expects him to explode into yellow dust like the monster he is.

He doesn't.

"Touch her again, and I will eviscerate you," he hisses slowly, savoring the words that passed over his tongue. He would like nothing better than to follow through with his threat, and by the way Gabe's beady little eyes flitted around fearfully, he knew it showed.

"I don't mind going to jail," he continues, "not if it means that I can be rid of you."

Gabe swallows thickly.

"Big words, runt," he sneers, but his voice lacks strength and he's shaking like a leaf in the wind.

"I never make empty threats."

The chairs to either side of Percy explodes. He holds out his hands, ignoring the splinters that rained down in a fine dust. Tiny orbs of water hardened to points in his hands —a needle of ice.

"I can do... things," he whispers. "Things you could never comprehend. I can make you explode, just like that man with one eye. I can slowly bleed you out. I can liquefy your organs and watch as you drown from the inside."

The ticking of the clock rings in his ears.

"—but I won't kill you," he says regretfully, "not yet. It's not your time. But do not think that I am afraid. One false word," he motions with his hands, and the splinters of ice stop an inch from impaling Gabe's eye, "and I will make death seem like a liberty."

He squeezes his palms together, and the ice abruptly melts into puddles of harmless water. Gabe eyes it with unadulterated terror —like a rat trapped into a corner.

His own eyes glow unnaturally in the darkness. His voice is quiet, but it promises pain.

"I never forget, and let it be known that I pay back my dues tenfold."


Gabe doesn't bother them again.

1720 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes, 14 seconds.

He is cast into shadow, away from the blistering heat of the sun. They are standing in the shade of an old oak tree, its sparse leaves reaching for the sun.

"Be good, now," his mother fusses, and Percy rolls his eyes, grinning.

"I'm always good, Mum. Yancy Academy won't know what hit it."

He feels a chill down his spine. Looking around his mother, Percy sees a boy with curly brown hair and crutches looking at him intently. As soon as he makes eye contact, however, the boy flinches away, as though surprised he had been caught staring so unabashedly at him.

"Percy?" his mother's voice is worried, and it jerks him back to reality. "Is something the matter?"

He tears his eyes away —there's something odd about that boy, he knows already— and gives her a quick smile. Whatever it is, he can handle it alone.

"No, Mum. Nothing's wrong."

They both know he is lying.

1460 days, 14 hours, 2 minutes, 7 seconds.

Mr. Brunner's sad, sad eyes lock on him, and he taps the mural with one hand. It's one depicting Kronos eating his kids, and he can't help but feel disgusted.

"Why is this important to know, Mr. Jackson?" he asks.

There is a second meaning to his question.

Do you know who you are?

Yes. He did. He wasn't blind.

Grover's looking at him with a worried expression, one of his crutches skittering a little as he fidgets.

The ticking of Death's clock falters.

Percy knows neither of them are human. Grover's ticking is two times slower than a normal human's. Mr. Brunner's didn't exist at all. He isn't sure why, but he's abnormally cautious around the two of them, in spite of Grover's vain attempt to get closer to him.

And Mr. Brunner was still waiting for an answer.

He knows, but he shakes his head and replies, "I'm not sure, Mr. Brunner. I'm sorry."

Somehow, there's just a tiny bit of relief in those brown eyes.


Mrs. Dodds shrieks and unfolds her bat-like wings, a fiery whip crackling to life by her side.

The clock ticks faster.

"Hey, Alecto. Is this the tenth or eleventh time you've tried to have me killed? I'm actually surprised you've waited this long."

Alecto hisses, "Insolent demigod! Return my master's helm, or suffer the consequences—"

"Master?" Percy frowns. "You mean Hades? How could I steal his... whatever it was? I don't even know the way down!"

"Do not feign ignorance with me, halfblood!"

Percy fake-pouts. "Half-blood makes me sound like some sort of contagious disease."

Alecto extends her talons, shrieks out some sort of death threat, and flies at him in a frenzy of crazy algebra teacher batlike rage.

Just then, the door bursts open, and Mr. Brunner wheels himself in with a speed Percy finds surprisingly fast.

"What-ho, Percy!" he shouts, and tosses him a pen. Percy feels his eyebrows shoot up, but catches it in midair, rolling to the side to avoid Alecto's flaming whip from wrapping around his neck.

There is a gouge in the floor a foot wide and just as deep.

The pen grows into a glittering bronze sword. Percy's eyebrows rise even further. It was Mr. Brunner's sword.

"Thanks, Mr. Brunner," he says calmly, "but I've done this so many times it's not even funny. You can keep your sword. I have no need for it."

He tosses it back to the surprised teacher, whose eyes are practically bugging out of their sockets. Percy resists the urge to roll his own eyes, and answers Mr. Brunner's unspoken question, exasperated.

"Of course I know. How can I not, with Alecto here trying to kill me every other day?"

Absentmindedly, he ducks, just as Alecto swoops down with her claws, narrowly missing taking his head off.

"This has gone on for long enough," he suddenly decides. "See you tomorrow, Alecto. Or preferable never again, but knowing my luck, you and your sisters'll probably pop up like daises over the next little while."

Percy snaps his fingers, and she explodes into yellow dust, her dying screech still lingering in the air.

For a few seconds, he watches the sulphuric acid of her blood drip down one side of the wall, eating away the paint. He supposed that if even Alecto's blood was sour, she couldn't help looking like she'd just sucked on a lemon all the time.

Percy turns back to find himself alone.

The room is dark, and there is no Mr. Brunner. Sighing, he runs his hand through his hair, grimacing as it comes out sooty. He'll have to have a shower again. Shoving his hands in his pockets and whistling cheerfully, he hums a short tune and descends the stairs leading into the courtyard, where his class was taking a lunch break.

It was as if Mrs. Dodds never existed. To them, she probably didn't.

Walking up to Mr. Brunner, who was focussing too intently on his magazine —it's upside down, and he hasn't turned the page for the last five minutes— Percy whispers, "I know you're not human, and neither is Grover."

Winking at Mr. Brunner's expression mischievously, he smirked and left.


"—a Kindly One at the school! I just—"

"There's nothing kind about Alecto," Percy mutters, crossing his arms reproachfully. He drums his fingers on his textbook. Raising his voice, he shouts into Mr. Brunner's office, "and hasn't anyone told you it's not nice to talk about people behind their back?"

There is a few seconds of silence. He sees the shadows stretch, and it makes Mr. Brunner's silhouette seem taller than he's supposed to be. Percy is pressed against the wall, the darkness enveloping him like a second skin. They can't see him. He knows how to be quiet.

Then the door slides open with a rusty creak, and Grover is on the other side, sweating profusely.

"Grover, you look like someone's just forced you to eat goat meat," Percy observes, grinning internally in satisfaction as Grover looked like Percy had just accused him of eating a baby.

"Blahahahaha!" he bleats. "I'm a... I'm a vegetarian!"

His reaction is more than enough proof.

From the corner, Mr. Brunner groans and shakes his head ruefully. He's sitting at his dimly illuminated desk, stacks of marking piled up before him. He sits in his wheelchair, a blanket covering his legs.

"You'd better come in, Percy."

Percy drags a chair up to the spot beside Mr. Brunner, and sits calmly.

"I'm assuming that now's the time you'll drop some kind of mind blowing fact in front of me, and I'll faint and fall over and make a fool of myself?"

Mr. Brunner was uncommonly grave.

"How long has Alecto actively pursued you, Percy?"

"Actively... as in tried to kill me? Maybe a couple of years. She's watched me for far longer than that. She really doesn't do a good job of hiding, but I suppose having bat wings doesn't exactly do her any favors."

Grover blanches even further.

"Blahahahaha! You shouldn't insult the Kindly Ones, Percy." Grover's eyes are darting around, as though expecting hell fire to engulf Percy and drag him to the pits of eternal doom. "They don't take kindly to being insulted."

Percy shrugs. "Alecto's used to it. She tries to kill me, I insult her. We're even."

Mr. Brunner's eyes lock with Grover's, and they have a mental conversation. Percy just sits and watches them quietly, verdant eyes taking in their expressions.

Finally, they break eye contact, and Mr. Brunner clears his throat.

"Grover, contact Percy's mother. We need to take him to Camp. There's no way around it now that he knows for sure."

Percy interrupts.

"Camp? I haven't even agreed to go."

Mr. Brunner fixes him with a sad look. "It's the only safe place for you, my boy," he argues.

"I'm fine where I am. At least, I still haven't died yet, have I?"

Mr. Brunner is silent for a long time, before he finally says, "Your presence is endangering your mother. Your scent is too strong for the monsters to ignore, even with that... man... living with you."

Percy flinches back. It is a low blow, but he can't deny that it was the truth. If it weren't for him, his mother wouldn't have to put up with Smelly Gabe. They wouldn't have had to move around constantly. Maybe her life would even be normal.

Could he take that away from her so selfishly?

"Fine," he grumbles, after a few minutes of sullen contemplation. "I'll go. But if I don't like it, I'm leaving."

Mr. Brunner gives him a relieved smile. "Of course, my boy. And call me Chiron. It's time I introduced you to the world of the gods."


Of course, a simple "introduction" turned into blatant accusations.

"I've never been to Olympus," Percy snaps in a rare surge of annoyance. "If you don't believe me, why don't you get Apollo to come down and check? Isn't he the god of truth?"

"In all honesty, the gods know it wasn't you, but they need a scapegoat." Mr. D gauges him with a slightly tipsy expression. "Besides, Uncle dear took your mother. Don't you want to get her back?"

It's as though a switch has been snapped into place. All animosity drains away, being replaced with cold anger.

Nearby furniture shatter in a spray of white.

"Who... dares...?" he snarls, his fingers curling into claws. Unbeknownst to him, his eyes begin to glow with rage-filled power and the air around him turns dry and cracked.

"Save the theatrics for later," Mr. D grunts, not at all impressed, and Percy bares his teeth with a bloodthirsty smile.

"Whoever's there behind me, you can come out. I know you're there."

Annabeth is a blonde girl, the daughter of Athena. She looks at him like he was a particularly stubborn piece of gum stuck to her shoe. In her hand is a Yankees cap, and it looks as though she'd just taken it off her head.

Grover bleats nervously. "A-Annabeth! Are... are you coming on the quest too?"

Annabeth acknowledges him stiffly. "Grover. And yes, I am."

"Wh-where are we going?"

This time, it was Percy who answered.

"The Underworld."


He sees the Fates. They're old ladies, knitting electric blue socks, and their eyes seem to pierce right through him. The one in the middle cuts the yarn, and he feels a sudden chill run through his spine, like he's just seen his own death.

"When the ticking stops..."


"I don't have time for this," Percy growls. He throws his arms out, and a shockwave ripples through the earth, throwing the Greyhound bus to one side, careening through the lanes of traffic.

The passengers scream.

As the Furies are preoccupied in untangling themselves, Percy kicks one of the windows out, before shouting, "Annabeth, Grover, are you coming or not?"

They run.

In the distance, the bus explodes in a fiery array of shrapnel, lighting up the night.


"Open your eyes, my sweet," Medusa purrs. Grover crashes into a stone bear, groaning incoherently.

Annabeth shouts, "Percy! No!"

Percy feels the little snakes of her hair biting at him, trying to petrify him. He gives a snort of disdain. In another world, perhaps he would have been reckless and foolish and tried to chop her head off or something. But the circumstances are different, and he know what to do.

He lets his eyes open.

Immediately, Medusa's hair stands up on end. Her eyes glow. Annabeth screams. Percy stares calmly back.

Medusa falters after a few seconds.

"I don't understand.. why isn't it working? Why aren't you petrified?"

"Nice trick with the eyes," he drawls. "Wanna see mine?"

His irises are wavering, almost transparent in color. They seem to flicker—like the waves of an ocean.

"Water," she realizes. "You're distorting my image."

Percy gives her a lazy smile. "Correct. I can't let you live though. Nothing personal."

Before she can respond, she is headless. A celestial bronze sword completes its cycle, the blade stained with yellow and red.


"Water. Beds." Percy deadpans. Procrustes furrows his brow, and he can almost see his fuzzy little brain working overtime, steam metaphorically coming out of his ears.

"Yeah. So?" he grunts.

Percy uncaps Riptide. "Let me clarify that," he says dangerously. "I am a son of Poseidon. You sell water beds."

With a gesture of his arm, the water in the beds drained away, releasing Grover and Annabeth.

"Furthermore, you dared to harm my... friends."

Friends. The words feels right on his tongue, and suddenly he feels very warm.

(he has people to protect)

Percy raises his hand, and the water twists to form a flickering trident. Procrustes tries to run, but it is too late for him.

"That was your last mistake."

He throws.


Annabeth catches him as he stumbles. His face is pinched and white, and he's shaking. A strong wind would be enough to blow him over. He's left staring at the water of the Styx, seeing his own pale visage staring back.

When the clock stops...

"What's wrong?" she asks, and there's genuine worry in her voice. Percy shakes his head, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves.

"Nothing," he mutters. "I just... it's nothing. I don't like it here."

Grover bleats in agreement, nervously whipping his head to and fro. "Blahahaha! There aren't any trees or flowers or anything... it's all death!"

That, Percy thought, was precisely the problem.

... Death will come for you.


"Perseus Jackson," Hades rumbles.

He's dangerous, like a panther, ready to strike at any moment. Percy feels the urge to kneel, to confess his guilt—

Wait. What guilt? He didn't steal the bolt, and as he told Alecto, he didn't have the helm either.

"Lord Hades," he begins diplomatically, and the god's eyebrows rise. "I do not have the Master Bolt, nor do I have your helm. I have never been to Olympus, and I will swear by the Styx if need be."

Hades is silent for a long time. Percy lets himself hope that maybe, they wouldn't have to resort to violence.

Then he begins to laugh.

"A well prepared speech!" he rumbles. "You had almost convinced me. If you are so innocent, then you wouldn't mind opening your pack, would you?"

Percy inclines his head slowly, ignoring the suspicions that begin to eat away at his stomach.

"Lord Ares is the one who gave this to us," he says, and Annabeth's eyes widen as she realizes what he's trying to do. "I am not sure what is inside. He has... discouraged... any of us from opening it."

Hades' eyes narrow.

"A nice plot, but it is not enough to sufficiently convince me. Open the pack."

The skeleton guards start to close in.

"Lord Hades, please. Lord Ares was most keen on our taking his backpack. We have tried to throw it out in the Lotus Hotel, but it's always re-appeared with us. It won't go away, and I fear that he may be trying to start a war with his machinations."

Annabeth's voice is reasonable and level. Percy feels a sudden surge of respect for the girl.

"It may be some sort of bomb," he adds. "He is the god of war, after all, and wouldn't hesitate to cause some chaos."

Hades hesitates. Percy holds his breath.

"Swear on the Styx to me," he finally says. "Swear that you were not the one to take my helm or the bolt, and swear that all you have said before me is true."

Percy bites his lip. He knows the consequences of striking such oaths, but there were no other options. Annabeth eyes him worriedly. He carefully runs the wording over in his head, and begins.

"I swear on the Styx that Annabeth, Grover, and I did not take the Helm or the Bolt. Ares gave us the backpack and we were not able to get rid of it. My sole reason for coming on this quest was to retrieve the bolt and to save my mother."

Thunder booms. Nothing happens.

Hades relaxes.

"A word of warning: Zeus will be harder to convince. He does not like to listen to reason. Perseus Jackson, your mother will be released with no harm done to her."

Percy bows again, and this time, Annabeth and Grover follow his example.

"Thank you, Lord Hades," they say respectfully. Hades regards Percy for a long time, and the demigod does not flinch under the piercing stare.

"You are different from how I imagined you," Hades finally murmurs. Percy gives him a small smile.

"More like my father?" he guesses.

"Rash, proud, hot-headed," Hades clarifies. "So yes, exactly like Poseidon."

Percy shrugs a little, uncomfortable with Annabeth's calculating look and Grover's apparent sadness.

"He was never in my life. I didn't know him until he needed me to do something for him, and he expects to waltz into my life like he cared all along? He could have... helped, he could have done something, all of those years we were scraping along and barely keeping off the streets. So, no. I am not like him, and I hope I'll never be."

Hades gives him a thin smile.

"Wise words. Do not fall into delusion."

Percy inclines his head. "Thank you for your advice, Lord Hades. I won't. I promise."

"Escort them out." Hades nods to the skeletal guards, and they jerk stiffly to attention, saluting sharply.

They leave the Underworld on cordial terms. The three pearls ring dully in Percy's pocket.


Ares is waiting for them outside of DOA (Dead on Arrival, how inconspicuous) Studios, his face set in an ugly snarl.

Surreptitiously, Percy retrieves the pearls and press one to each of his friends.

"We don't have time for this. I hate to rely on my father, but these should get us to Olympus. There are more important things for us to be doing."

They crush the pearls underfoot.


Olympus is... grand. Magnificent. It stands high on a mountain, terraces ringing around the sides. It seems to be made of marble and delicate structures, far beyond what mortals could achieve in lifetimes.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Annabeth murmurs. He nods, almost dumbly.

The minor gods pause in their daily activities as they pass. The Muses quieten. The eyes of thousands on them, they brace themselves and walk through the golden doors.

Inside, only two gods are present. Annabeth takes one look, nods to herself, and drags Grover back out.

"We'll wait for you out here," she whispers. "Good luck, and," here, her face softens a fraction of a degree, "don't be too harsh on your father. The gods... they have their reasons."

Percy hesitates, gripping the backpack tighter, and walks in.

Zeus is in a pinstriped suit, and is looking sullenly away from his brother, Poseidon, who was dressed in more casual clothing. Both are twenty meters tall, but somehow give off the impression of kindergarteners that are sulking after their favorite toy was taken away.

Percy kneels. "My Lords."

He can feel Poseidon's gaze trained on his back, but he gives no indication or acknowledgement.

"We have found your Master Bolt, Lord Zeus," he continues, retrieving it from the backpack. "Lord Hades was not the one to take it. Ares was the culprit. We have reason to believe he may have Hades' helm as well."

The Master Bolt flew into Zeus' hands, and lightning discharged. Zeus looked a bit happier, or at least like some of the barbed stick up his ass had disappeared.

"You did well, demigod," he rumbles. "As thanks, I shall not kill you... yet. Should you prove yourself a traitor to Olympus, you shall be treated accordingly. I must go and wash the mortal taint from my Bolt. Be gone when I return, or face the consequences."

With a crackle of light, he is gone.

Silence pervades.

"Your uncle always had a thing for dramatic exits," Poseidon says, turning his eyes —so similar to his own—sadly. The god stands up, fading away to a mortal-sized man in Greek armor. Percy clenches his fists and resists the strong urge to move away.

Poseidon walks closer, hesitant.

"You look so much like Sally," he whispers, almost in awe. One of his hands reached towards Percy.

Some part of him wonders what it will feel like to have his father's affection. Some part of him wonders if it would have been different, if he had been more naiive and trusting, if he would have accepted this apology.

But he wasn't naiive, and he wasn't trusting, and it was because of this god in front of him.

Percy rears away.

"Funny thing. She always says I looked like you. Thing is, I never knew what you looked like until right now. I always thought you were dead. Sometimes, I wonder if it isn't better if you were."

Poseidon flinches backwards like Percy had just struck him. In a way, he supposes he did.

"I—I'm sorry—I thought if I did not come, you would be safe. They wouldn't find you—"

Percy turns away. He can't bring himself to forgive his father, but for some reason, he doesn't want to see the sadness reflected in those eyes.

(his disappointment is somehow worse than his mother's)

"There have been no less than a hundred attempts on my life. The first one was a minute after I was born. So don't tell me how it would have been safer, because it's not, and it never will be. You have borne me into this world, and these are the consequences. But you really don't care, do you? It's not your problem the Styx has decided to send everything it has on me. So I guess... since you haven't even managed to say hello all of these years, I'll return the favor, father."

He spits the last word out like it burns his tongue, like it was the worse insult he could think of. Some part of him knows that he's being irrational, but he can't bring himself to care.

He hears the thump of Poseidon's knees hitting the ground, but he's already running towards the door, running away from his problems like the coward he is.

"Annabeth, Grover, we're going back to camp," he snaps out. His friends start in surprise at his tone, but they say nothing. Annabeth gives him a small smile, and Grover claps him on the shoulder.

They understand, and somehow, that dulls the pain in his heart for a while longer.

1095 days, 5 hours, 38 minutes, and 0 seconds.

Circe flings back the curtain.

"What do you see?" she purrs. Percy raises an eyebrow, one hand going surreptitiously to Riptide.

"Honestly? I see my own reflection. I'm assuming those guinea pigs over there thought differently."

745 days, 12 hours, 9 minutes, and 3 seconds.

Percy grits his teeth as the sky pushes him into the earth, the weight crushing his bones into powder. He is helpless. All of his fabled 'intelligence' and 'courage' didn't help him now, did it?

Perhaps it was his arrogance that led him here. Maybe it was loyalty. Whatever the reason, the result is the same.

He watches through red-hazed eyes as Artemis dodges and weaves around Atlas with the nimble skill of a dancer. Indeed, she makes it seem like a dance, albeit a dangerous one where one slip would result in death.

It is the first time he understands the truth. Perhaps to the demigods, he is strong, but when compared to the world, he was nothing more than an ant, liable to be crushed at will.

It is humbling, but he does not like it.

As he starts to black out, he makes a silent promise to himself. He would become strong, and protect his precious people. No more lies. No more deceptions.

Has he always been so blind?

340 days, 15 hours, 21 minutes, 17 seconds.

It hurts.

The telekhines have him pinned down, and the lava eats through his clothes, his skin, until he finally relents and screams, dropping to his knees.

He hears someone scream his name.

Annabeth? He can't tell anymore. All he can hear is the dull ringing in his ears. But he summons enough effort to open his eyes and slams his palms down on the ground. A shockwave throws the telekhines off balance.

The one holding the scythe trips over the edge. He dissolves into dust before Percy's eyes, and the scythe melts in the heat, liquefying into a thin pool of metal that dissolves into lava.

There is a moment of shocked silence. Then the remaining telekhines howl in rage, intent on making him pay for destroying the scythe.

Percy closes his eyes. He hopes Annabeth is gone. He hopes she won't see him die.

Mt. St. Helens explodes.

326 days, 8 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds.

He's never seen Annabeth cry. Not until now. Somehow, that part is worse than almost dying.

He steps into the boundary of the camp. Annabeth looks like she's just seen a ghost. Her face turns pale.

"I'm hurt that you don't trust my word when I said I wouldn't die. I know you want to get rid of me, Wise Girl, but I'm not going away that easily. You'll have to try harder than that."

Then it sinks in and she flings herself at him.

She's screaming now, unintelligible words mixing in with her tears. He wraps his arms around her flailing form and she turns her fury onto him, clawing his face and kicking and wailing. Percy doesn't let go. Eventually, her furious screams turn into heart wrenching sobs and she grabs fistfuls of his shirt and just cries.

"You... you fool," she sobs. "You... you utter, seaweed brained fool! What were you thinking?"

"I'm sorry, Annabeth," he whispers, and her grip tightens.

The ticking gets louder.

1 day, 0 hours, 21 minutes, 5 seconds.

Rachel sits beside him, kicking her heels in the sand. The blue of Paul's Prius glints in the light of the fading sun. The ocean reflects in her eyes.

"Think about it," she urges again. "You need a vacation, and I need the company."

It's tempting, so tempting, and he almost finds himself saying yes. But then he hears the hooves that pound onto the back of Paul's car, and he knows with a sinking feeling what is going to happen.

"I'm sorry, Rachel. But not tonight."

Rachel seems to understand, and she swoops in quickly and kisses him. She draws back to leave a shell shocked Percy, whose eyes are wider than saucers. Smirking, she bumps her shoulder against his.

"Go and save the world for me, alright?"

He nods and smiles at her, still impossibly red in the face.

Beckendorf is looking at him with a sly grin, and Percy scowls back, mounting onto Blackjack.

"Wipe that smirk off your face, Beckendorf, before I do it for you." He turns to the girl still sitting by the car, her arms crossed protectively over her chest. "Goodbye, Rachel. Tell my mom that I... won't be coming home for supper tonight... whenever you're ready, Blackjack."

The pegasus neighs and leaps off.

Rachel watches until they disappear into a speck on the crisp night sky, trying hard not to make it feel like that was the last time she would see Percy alive.

She knows she's being unreasonable. The nightmares were just that. Nightmares.


0 days, 0 hours, 59 minutes, 45 seconds.

The heat is blistering on his skin. It cracks his lips, sending sweat dripping down his face, but he isn't sure if it's actually the heat making him so nervous, or if it was the slow, methodical ticking that resonates through the room.

Like a clock on countdown. A timer running out.

Percy has faced countless monsters in his short lifetime, but something about this sound alone frightens him how no claws or teeth could.

"How much longer?" he whispers aloud.

Beckendorf looks up from his work, but doesn't meet Percy's eyes.

He's hunched over a console, slapping jars of Greek fire over the surface. Only a thin layer of glass keeps death away from the Princess Andromeda. From his hesitation, Percy already knows the answer.

"Too long," he mutters quietly, as though making it inaudible will make it untrue. "I need more time."

He isn't really paying Percy much attention —his eyes are elsewhere, and they keep sliding around like he's anticipating something. The jars of Greek fire clamped firmly in his hands casts an eerie green light through the room, and they quiver like they have a life of their own.

From the corner of his eye, Percy sees the shadows coalesce into a single figure, one dressed in black and holding a scythe. Percy's sword springs out to full size, the celestial bronze fighting back the darkness.

It's time, Death whispers.

She is gone in the next second.

Beckendorf drops the duct tape and eyes the suddenly quiet Percy. He whispers as loud as he dares, "Is someone coming?"

Percy shakes his head.

"No, they're not. I just..."

The ticking of Death's clock becomes deafeningly shrill. He sucks in a few breaths, trying to ease the knot of tension that was his nerves.

"...it's nothing," he finally says, and tries for a smile. Judging from Beckendorf's grimace, it came out pained.

"If you're sure," he says reluctantly, and goes back to his work.

Several minutes pass.

"Beckendorf," he mutters. "Is the detonator ready?"

The son of Hephaestus' eyebrows furrow together in confusion. He holds out the watch.

"Yes," he replies quizzically. "It is. I'm almost done the circuits in the bomb, hang on—"

"Give it to me."

"Excuse me?"

"I hear someone coming. I'll try to lead them away from you, but if you get caught, they'll take it away from you. Luke..." he grimaces, and amends, "Kronos likes to play with his prey. I'll be kept alive for a little while longer, and it should give you enough time to escape."

"Percy, that's ridiculous. I'm not—"

"Beckendorf. I've survived falling from the St. Louis Arch. I can handle falling from the Princess Andromeda. Now hurry."

Beckendorf is reluctant, but hands over the watch.

"It looks normal," he whispers, "but if you twist the face, it'll click three times, and it'll detonate automatically."

Percy nods.

" And... if anything were to... to happen, tell them all that I'm sorry, alright? Especially Nico."

He runs out before Beckendorf can answer.


The ticking of the detonator watch is unanimous with Death's clock. He hears it louder than before, and as a group of telekhines shrieks in alarm, he hacks them down precisely and methodically.

There is no more time for mercy.

Percy doesn't stop as a large crab scuttles into his way. He slides under the monster, twisting Riptide into the chink in the belly of its armor. With a screech, all that is left is the fifty-tonne shell.

But it is a hollow victory, for Riptide is buried, and he has no time to dig it out. But it doesn't matter. Swords are flashy and impressive, but they are also loud and often more of a hindrance than a help. It can leave the user too dependent on one style of fighting.

Percy pulls a thin tendril of water out of the fountain, and forms it into the shape of a whip, one that was nigh impossible to see.

He's gotten better in the last few years. Holding the sky had forced him to open his eyes to his true weaknesses, and since Artemis was the only goddess he'd seen in action, his style mimicks her graceful and fluid motions.

No, if there was one thing Percy has learned, it is how to be resourceful. The monsters advance, thinking him disarmed and defenceless.

Percy cracks the whip, and they begin to dance.

Five dracenae explode.


He begins to tire.

It's been half an hour, and Percy prays to whatever gods are listening that Beckendorf is finished. He isn't sure how much longer he can hold them back. They just keep coming, like swarms of ants. Alone, they are not much of an issue, but the sheer number wear down the most resilient of foes.

Percy catches himself as he stumbles, his breathing starting to come in sharp gasps. The water whip splashes harmlessly onto the ground. He tries to draw Riptide, but he can't feel his fingers and the world was suddenly spun around and around.

The air tastes of bitter almonds.

He can't breathe.


Just as suddenly, he's looking up at the ceiling, shrapnel pressed against his back. The leering visages of the monsters encase his vision.

... when had he fallen?

There is a sharp pain at his temple, and he slumps freely into unconsciousness.


When Percy comes to, it is to the triumphant sound of Kronos' voice. He's being held up by his arms, a few monsters flanking him to ensure that Kronos could get the maximum amusement out of his prisoners.

He feels sick.

"So helpless," Kronos croons, running a finger down Percy's cheek and along his neck. He shudders, but fortunately, the Titan takes it as a subconscious response and turns away.

"Percy!" Beckendorf screams. "They've got the detonator! They've got the—mmfh!"

Someone clamps their hand over his mouth. He's still screaming behind it, and Percy can hear him struggling.

A leaden weight sinks into his stomach.

Beckendorf hadn't given him the remote, and now it was gone. They only have a few minutes at most before Kronos' army disassembles the bomb, and then they would have lost their lives for nothing. Percy wasn't foolish enough to believe that either of them was getting off this ship alive, but that didn't mean he wouldn't try.

(he still had so much to do, it can't end yet)


Percy cracks his left eye open a fraction of a degree, enough to see Beckendorf glancing meaningfully at him, before making a show of thrashing around.

He's trying to tell him something through misdirection. His eyes flick from Percy's wrist to Kronos, and he blinks twice, communicating with him through their predesigned signals.

Do it.

Do it. Set off the bomb? Didn't Kronos have it?


It would have to mean that Percy had the correct detonator, and when Beckendorf knew he was going to be overwhelmed, he'd hastily cobbled together a fake one to deceive them.

Simple, but ingenious.

Percy exhales shakily. His eyes flare open, but before he could do much more, Kronos catches his arm.

"So our guest has finally decided to join us in the land of the living," Kronos muses.

Percy growls and jerks himself forward, kicking Luke in the chest. He needs to create a distraction.

Something in his foot cracks. He gasps in pain and collapses. From behind Kronos' left leg, Percy sends Beckendorf a silent plea.


Percy looks away, Riptide's celestial bronze glimmering gently in his hands. He thinks of Rachel, her long, fiery hair cutting a path in the wind. He thinks of Grover, with his love for enchiladas. And he thinks about Annabeth, smiling cheerfully at him, Yankees cap twined around one slender wrist.

"Surely that is not all you have, Jackson?" Kronos taunts. Percy squeezes his eyes shut.

He has failed. His journey ends here. Mentally, he breathes an apology to Nico. With his death, Nico would have to be the one of the prophecy. It was a fate he would not wish to impose on anyone. They are nothing more than pawns in a game played by the gods.

For a moment, nothing happens. The world is silent. Kronos begins to laugh. Percy meets Beckendorf's eyes from across the deck, the desperation shaking in his gaze.

"Tell them I'm sorry," he whispers.

He closes his eyes and turns the watch's dial. It clicks, the sound reverberating through the silence.

Three... two...

"What is he doing?" a dracenae hisses. "What is that around his wrist? It's—!"

He looks up at the stars for the last time and lets a single tear drip down his cheek. The irony is not lost on him. This is his last stand.


The world explodes into a cataphonic screech of exploding metal and liquid fire.

0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds.