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The Choice of Destiny

Chapter Text

The small boy ran through the woods, praying his little legs would carry him faster than the monster could catch up to him.

The multi-headed creature bounded after him, mockingly calling out for the child to slow down, to stop and say hello. The boy had been running from monsters like that thing for the past six months, since he had been kicked onto the street, and even sometimes before that. It had been thirty-six hours since the boy had last eaten, and thirteen hours since he'd had something to drink. The effects of his starvation were starting to take their tole on him; his vision was blurring and his muscles felt weak, making avoiding trees in the dark as he ran very difficult.

Just as the boy was loosing hope that he would ever get away from this latest monster, he caught sight of a fire a little ways away. Gaining a sudden burst of energy, the boy ran faster, becoming close enough to see two people, a man and a woman, sitting on elegant looking chairs next to the flames, furniture that was out of place in the woods.

He opened his mouth to call out for help but found he couldn't; he had rarely used his voice in the last six months except for screaming. The boy refused to give up, deciding that if he couldn't call out to them, he'd barrel straight into them.

He came within a foot of the couple when the woman noticed the child. He grunted as he used his remaining strength to leap over the fire, falling roughly to the forest floor and scraping his knee as he landed.

He turned quickly to try and croak out a plea for help when he saw a surprising sight. The man that had only a moment ago been sitting by the fire was twenty feet away, his hand raised towards the creature that had been hunting the boy. Right before the child's eyes the monster let out a cry of pain and then dissolved into dust.

The boy's eyes widened and he began to panic, thinking the man was something much worse than the creature. He scrambled to his feet and turned to run, only for two strong arms to wrap around his midsection, effectively trapping him. He struggled against the embrace, his fear evident.

"Be calm, you are in no danger," a gentle voice said. A warmth radiated from the being behind him, from the one who had spoken. Slowly the boy's struggling slowed, until he was still. The arms loosened their hold on him and he turned to look into the face of the woman, who was gazing at him worriedly.

"Who-who are you?" the boy stuttered out.

The woman smiled kindly. "My name is Demeter. You have nothing to fear any more, my son-in-law took care of that beast."

The boy looked warily over at the man, who was staring at him with a sense of curious detachment. "Thank you for saving me," he managed to croak out. The man smiled slightly and nodded his welcome, looking into the child's eyes.

Suddenly a look of realization crossed the man's face and he scowled angrily, taking a few steps towards the woman and the boy she held close. "He is a son of Poseidon; I can see the sea in his eyes and smell it on his being. Of course both of my brothers broke the oath they forced me into." His tone was bitter.

Demeter looked at her son-in-law disapprovingly. "I am sorry for the wrongdoings of your siblings, but this child has done nothing to you He is innocent. Please, Hades, do not take your anger at Poseidon out on this boy."

The man huffed, annoyed, but nodded. "Very well, Demeter, I will leave the boy alone...for now."

The boy twitched nervously in the woman's arms, having watched the conversation with curiosity and fear. These people clearly were the family of his father, a man he'd never had the displeasure to meet. The boy turned to look at the woman that held him gently, feeling no threat from her.

"Who are you, dear child? Why are you out in the middle of the woods in the dead of night?"

The boy cleared his throat, determined to speak clearly. "I'm Percy," he said. His expression quickly turned from shy to one of anger. "And I'm out here because six months ago my stepfather killed my mother."

Power rolled off the boy in waves and Hades watched, shocked. He had never seen so much power in a demigod   especially in one so young.

Hades stared at the boy curiously. The child was extremely skinny, his ribs visible under his ratty t-shirt. Old scars and new cuts marred his skin from head to toe. Hades's attention was drawn to a large scar that began at the top of his neck and ran until it went under his shirt collar, no longer visible. Hades also saw deep cuts circling both of his wrists; most likely from being bound.

Becoming even more interested in the boy after examining him, Hades delved into Percy's memories to try and understand what had happened to a child so young to give him so many scars. But the more the Lord of the Dead saw, the more furious he became. What he saw made he want to murder someone, starting with his arrogant brother for leaving this child to such a fate.

Hades looked at his mother-in-law, who had clearly looked into the boy's memories as well. A silent understanding seemed to pass between the two of them and Demeter nodded.

Hades stepped towards Percy, who tensed as if readying himself for a fight. Hades rose his hand to the boy's forehead. "Sleep," he commanded soothingly.

Percy felt unconsciousness pulling at him but he fought it, too afraid to go to sleep in the care of people he didn't know. Hades admired the boy's strength, surprised yet again by his strong power. Hades increased the spell and, finally, the eight-year-old child slumped in Demeter's arms.

"This boy is immensely powerful," Hades remarked. "Stronger than any demigod I've encountered, especially at such a young age."

Demeter nodded in agreement. "What on Earth will we do with him? If I take him to Olympus or Camp Half-Blood Zeus will surely kill the boy right away..." She looked at her son-in-law hopefully.

Hades scoffed as he understood her meaning. "Are you serious? You wish for me to take in the boy? He is a son of Poseidon! Let him raise his son!"

Demeter scowled. "You saw the same things I did in this child's memories. I think Poseidon has done enough. Plus, I doubt this boy will want anything to do with the man who left him to such a fate." Her expression softened. "Hades, I know you miss your children. Think of Percy as a possible chance to get them out of that horrid casino someday."

The man sighed, looking at the small child. In sleep, Percy no longer held his fearful expression or the tenseness of his body; he looked at peace, and Hades found himself glad the child wasn't in any pain at the moment.

"Persephone will never agree to it. She would run and tell her father the first chance she gets," he said.

Demeter smiled wryly. "Leave the convincing of my daughter to me, Hades. Actually, I think Persephone will actually enjoy raising a child that isn't one of your demigods."

Hades stared at the boy thoughtfully. "He is most likely the one of the prophecy."

Demeter nodded. "Don't you think a child raised by one of the Big Three has a better chance of defeating the king titan than if he were left on the street?" She smiled hopefully.

The man rubbed his forehead. "Very well. But I'm leaving it up to you to convince my wife not to turn the boy in. Seeing as she returns to the underworld in less than two months, I suggest you begin."

Demeter nodded, smiling in satisfaction. Hades faded into shadows, and Demeter held the boy tightly against her chest, disappearing in a flash of green light.

Hades found himself taking quite a liking to Percy. The child had only been in the underworld for two weeks, but he had quickly ditched his shyness. He was brave and stubborn, quick to get angry but somehow very levelheaded at the same time.

Actually, he reminded the Lord of the Dead of himself.

Demeter and Hades had done their best to explain everything to the young boy. Percy had taken everything in stride, happy to know why he could breathe underwater and talk to horses, and relieved to know he wasn't crazy for seeing monsters.

Hades took quite an amount of pleasure in Percy's opinion of his Poseidon. The little boy scowled whenever he was mentioned, wanting nothing to do with the man that left him and his mother to be tortured every day. Even when Demeter tried to explain the ancient law forbidding Poseidon from interfering in his child's life, Percy didn't want to hear it. He knew that if the Lord of the Seas had actually cared, he would have found a way to help. Percy only wished to never think of Poseidon as his father.

After hearing this statement, Hades's pleasure only grew. What better way to get back at that horrid brother of his than to adopt and raise his demigod son as his own?

He summoned Percy and asked the boy if he was okay with that, and the child jumped at the opportunity, wanting nothing more than to never live on the street again.

To make the adoption official, Hades claimed Percy as his son, making Percy a true son of Hades with all that entailed. Percy's eyes changed from sea green to the same blackness of his new father's, the only sign of his old eyes a circle of sea green around his irises. Hades smiled at the change, happy to have a physical claim over his adoptive son like all the other gods had with their children. Percy very much looked the part of a son of Hades, what with his scar-covered body and pale skin.

Demeter looked at Hades warily. "Hades, please tell me you are taking Percy in for him, and not for revenge against Poseidon."

Hades narrowed his eyes. "Demeter, you know as well as I that Poseidon could've killed that insolent man that tortured Percy and his mother any time he wanted to and the ancient law would not have been broken."

Demeter opened her mouth to protest but Hades continued speaking.

"Bending a rule is not breaking it, I have learned that over the many years of being who I am." Hades paused. "I won't lie and say that hurting Poseidon doesn't make this so much better, but I do this for the boy. You were correct when you said I missed my children. If Persephone can accept the boy then he will have a far better upbringing than he would in the mortal world."

Demeter nodded, satisfied with her son-in-laws's answer. "You do know that, when he founds out, Poseidon will fight you for the boy."

Hades scowled. "My brother lost all right to Perseus when he left him in that hellhole of a house with his stepfather."

Demeter sighed, knowing fighting Hades on this matter would be stupid and just leave both gods angry. Finally she smiled, knowing that Hades's anger on this topic meant he cared about the boy. Percy would be well taken care of.

"I am glad you decided to take the child in, Hades. I believe this is the right thing to do." The two gods shared a smile. "Now I must be off to speak with my daughter, but I will visit occasionally to check up on our little hero, if that is alright with you."

Hades nodded his head. "Of course, Demeter. You are welcome here."

The Goddess of the Harvest smiled and disappeared in a flash of green light.

Hades waved his hand and a shadow appeared in front of him, bringing the fury Alecto into the throne room.

She bowed low. "My lord, what may I do for you?" she rasped.

"I have a son now, Perseus Jackson. He is the demigod son of Poseidon but I have chosen to adopt him as my own. There are some things I would like you to set up for him."

Alecto looked shocked for a moment but quickly nodded. "Of course, my Lord. What is it I can do?"

"First, gather some of the greatest heroes   my son will be trained by no one but the best. Then, spread the word. The Underworld has a new prince."

"Of course, my Lord. Right away." Alecto bowed again and disappeared from the throne room.

Hades smiled to himself, leaning back in his throne. The time for the disrespect of his children was over. Perseus Jackson would change Olympus forever, he just knew it. When the time came, the Son of Hades would be the greatest demigod warrior to ever live   Hades would make sure of it.

Chapter Text

Four Years Later

Percy rolled to his left as a sword came down on the place he'd been sitting. He quickly raised his blade and it clashed against his opponent's. He hopped to his feet, backing up a few steps to give himself some room. The man brought his sword down hard and Percy raised his shield, the blow rebounding and causing the man to stumble back a few steps. Percy took this opening to swing his sword at the man's legs, the flat of his blade hitting hard against his opponent's thigh, causing him to fall on his back.

Percy pointed his sword at the man's neck, grinning. "Do you yield?"

The man dropped his sword and rose his hands in surrender, laughing. "Yes, young one, I give in."

Percy's grin widened and he dropped his sword as well, offering a hand to help the man up. "Well, Odysseus, I believe I just got my first win against you!"

The man chuckled as he stood, looking proudly at his student. "Yes, my friend, I believe you did. And the student surpasses the master," he said with a smile, patting Percy warmly on the shoulder.

Percy shook his head, disbelieving, but couldn't stop the pleased smile from tilting his lips. "Odysseus, having won once against you is hardly surpassing the master. Besides, you would've won that one if you hadn't put so much force in that last strike."

Odysseus smiled proudly. "Ah, but you see Percy, it is because you recognized my mistake and acted on it in an effective way that makes you an amazing warrior of not just body, but of mind, as well."

Percy rolled his eyes. "Gods, you sound like Theseus. How about no lectures while we're in battle armor, okay?"

Odysseus smirked, smacking Percy's head lightly. "You would do well to not disrespect your elders. Theseus has taught you much."

Percy grinned, smacking Odysseus back and then moving out of range of a rebuttal. "I respect Theseus with all my might, just like I respect you, Achilles, Jason, Cadmus, and all the rest of my teachers."

Before Odysseus could reply, Alecto flew into view. She bowed to Percy. "My Lord Perseus, your father requests your presence in the throne room. He has something quite serious to discuss with you."

Percy nodded but rolled his eyes. "I'll go to him right now, but for Hades sake, would you please start calling me Percy, Alecto? I've been telling you this for four years!"

The fury bowed its head and nodded. "Of course, Lord Percy. I apologize."

Percy shook his head and began his walk towards the palace, shedding armor as he moved. He could easily shadow travel into the throne room, but Percy had always loved the Underworld itself as much as he loved his home in the palace.

The Underworld was like no other, full of darkness and fear in some parts and full of light and joy in others. Percy very much enjoyed seeing the happiness of the heroes in Elysium, and reveled in the pain of the unworthy in the Fields of Punishment.

Soon, he reached his destination.

The throne room of Hades was large and beautiful. The walls were pure black and glowed slightly, shimmering from the gem stones embedded in the metal. Hades and Persephone sat at their dark thrones, talking idly. When they noticed Percy, they smiled. Persephone stood up and walked to Percy, enveloping him in a hug.

"Hello my son," she smiled. "How was your training today?"

Percy grinned. "It was great, mother! I beat him, finally. I can't wait until the next time to see how I do."

Hades chuckled at his son's determination. Persephone squeezed Percy's hand and then moved back to sit on her throne.

Percy moved towards the thrones and bowed; they might've been his parents, but respect was incredibly important when interacting with the gods. "Alecto told me you needed to see me, father. She said that it was most serious."

Hades's expression turned thoughtful. "Yes. Zeus's master bolt has been stolen."

Percy frowned. He knew of his father's dislike of his siblings; he expected Hades to be jumping for joy now that Zeus had lost his item of power. "I'm sorry, father, but I don't see how that is a bad thing."

Hades grinned and barked out a laugh. "It's not! It's marvelous! The reason I called you here is because a daughter of Apollo named Kayla Snow has been accused of stealing the bolt. For the past couple weeks I've had Megaera posing as a teacher at the girl's school, trying to see where she was hiding Zeus's master bolt. After that failed, Megaera tried to take it by force, but the girl was talented with a bow and managed to escape." Hades scowled as he said the last part, shifting in his seat restlessly.

Percy nodded his understanding. If he knew his father at all, his next move would be to send Percy to watch the girl, see where she was hiding Zeus's master bolt, and steal it from her.

"Percy, I wish for you to go and meet her, watch her, get close to her if you must, and find the bolt and bring it too me," Hades said, confirming Percy's suspicions. "Right now the girl is at Camp Half-Blood, participating in some team game. You will find her in a small clearing deep in the forest on the north side. She appears to be guarding something."

Percy nodded, smiling at his parents. "Of course, father. I will head out straight away."

Hades nodded his thanks. Persephone smiled, and Percy could hear her wishing him luck as he disappeared into a shadow.

Percy stood in the shadow of a tree, easily concealed from the eyes of all the demigods that ran past him. Percy smirked as he watched four angry children of Ares chase after two small boys who were each holding two wallets, grinning and laughing as they ran. Percy had never played it before, but he'd watched Capture the Flag played enough to know how fun it was   especially when you got to use weapons.

Percy shadow traveled from his current position to just outside a small clearing a little ways away, the place that his father was most likely talking about.

He stayed in the darkness, wrapping shadows around himself to keep from being seen. In the clearing were two demigods wearing helmets with blue plumes on the top. One stood in front of a pile of boulders, where a blue flag stood hanging from a metal spike, with his sword raised. The other sat on a tree branch directly above the pile of boulders, bow in hand. From what his father had told him, he assumed this to be Kayla Snow.

He shadow-traveled a bit deeper into the woods, silently thanking his father for that ability; it would be harder to move as quickly as he needed to without that gift.

He let out a shout, and picked up a rock, throwing it at a tree, causing a loud thud. Percy then quickly shadow traveled away, back to his spot from before, hoping his plan worked.

The boy on the ground looked up at Kayla. "I'm going to go and check that out," he told her.

The girl hesitated, but then nodded, jumping to the ground. "Alright, Jacob, be careful. I'll stay here and keep watch." The boy   now known to Percy as Jacob   began heading in the direction that Percy had made the noise before.

Kayla pulled an arrow out of her quiver and knocked it, her bow at the ready. Percy shadow traveled to on top of the pile of boulders, conjuring an apple for himself to eat   there were perks to having your grandmother be the goddess of the harvest.

Percy took a large bite of the red fruit, creating a loud crunch sound. Kayla whirled around, pulling her bow string tight, ready to shoot. Percy could see her frown in confusion at his appearance, and he smirked. In dark blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and a leather jacket, Percy clearly wasn't dressed for Capture the Flag.

"Who are you?" Kayla demanded. Percy took another bite of his apple, the smirk never leaving his lips. The girl's eyes narrowed at his carefree attitude, the calm way he handled an arrow being pointed at his head. "Who are you?" she repeated.

Percy shrugged, sliding to the forest floor. "Nobody important. Simply a demigod watching the games." He put up his hands in mock surrender. "I promise I'm not here to attack you or steal your flag."

Kayla continued to glare, keeping her bow leveled at him.

Percy sighed, exasperated. He reached into his pocket and uncapped his pen, which instantly transformed into his sword Anaklusmos. Kayla took a step back, firing her arrow. Percy dodged it with ease and moved towards the daughter of Apollo with amazing speed, instantly getting inside her guard. Percy sliced Anaklusmos through the camp bow Kayla was using, cutting it in two easily. Kayla stumbled backwards, her helmet falling off, and raised her fists, ready for an attack.

Percy simply capped Anaklusmos and put it back inside his pocket, moving back and leaning against the pile of rocks. Kayla stared at him, shocked, as he took another bite of his apple, his stance nonthreatening. The girl let her fists drop, staring at the mysterious boy in confusion.

Percy chuckled at the expression on Kayla's face. "I told you   I'm not here to attack you. I just really hate talking to a girl while she has a weapon pointed at my face."

Not that Percy had actually talked to a girl in a long time, save some of the children in Elysium. The past four years of his life had been incredible and he wouldn't trade them for anything, but they had certainly left him at a disadvantage when it came to socializing with people his own age.

Kayla examined the boy in front of her. He had pure black hair and slightly pale skin. He was tall for his clearly young age, no older than her at thirteen. His eyes were captivating; they were pure black except for a sea green ring around his irises. They held a pain in them that was far too old for someone so young.

"How old are you?" She asked tentatively, hoping to get a straight answer to her question this time.

"Twelve," the boy replied simply. So Kayla had been right   he wasn't older than her.

"Why are you here?" Kayla glanced nervously behind the boy, in the direction Jacob had taken off in. She prayed her friend would return soon to help her deal with this unknown foe.

The boy's lips quirked into another smirk, an expression Kayla was beginning to associate with the mysterious boy. "That son of Hermes will not be returning anytime soon. I wanted to give us time to talk," he said, reading her mind.

Fear spiked through Kayla, afraid that the boy in front of her had hurt her friend. But, once again, the boy read her mind. "Relax, he's fine. I just had a pet of mine knock him out. He's only sleeping." Kayla nodded, unsure on how to continue.

That was...a lie. Percy hadn't brought any of the hellhounds with him, nor a fury. Jacob would wander back sometime soon, completely conscious and unharmed. He simply wanted her to stop looking for backup while they talked.

The boy stood up straighter, using the boulders to propel himself forward a few steps. Kayla quickly backtracked as she tried to get away from the boy, who walked towards her like an animal stalking its prey.

Suddenly, Kayla found she couldn't move. She looked down to see darkness surrounding her legs, keeping her from moving them. This terrified her, but she had no time to think about that. When the boy was within a foot away from her, he stopped.

"You are Kayla Helen Snow, correct?" he asked, his voice silky, his face stoic. Kayla nodded, not trusting her voice. "How long have you been coming to Camp Half-Blood?"

Kayla cleared her throat, straightening up a bit to try and look tougher. "This is my third summer. Why?"

The boy ignored her, asking another question. "Are you loyal to your friends here at camp?"

This question surprised her, her lips parting. She chose to answer; the question seemed harmless enough. "Yes, they're like my family."

The boy nodded slowly. "Do you love your father?"

Kayla rolled her eyes, and the boy's mouth twitched in a hidden smile. "Of course! He's been nothing but good to me."

The boy's eyes narrowed, and his voice was icy as he spoke his next question. "Where is Zeus's master bolt?"

Kayla paled, her blood going cold. That fury had demanded the same thing of her, almost killing her in its desperation to get the King of the Gods' item of power. She had barely managed to escape   luckily they'd been in a museum and she was able to break a case and retrieve a bow and some arrows, sending the monster back to Tartarus.

"I don't have it," Kayla said desperately, her voice quiet under the icy glare of the boy. "I swear I didn't take it."

The boy's glare deepened, taking another step forward.

"Daughter of Apollo, good luck," he murmured, before the shadow left Kayla and engulfed the boy. When the lightness returned, the boy was gone.

Chapter Text

Lee Fletcher was the first to speak up. "What did shadow-guy say again?"

All the other head counselors groaned and voiced their complaints, this having been the fourth time the Son of Apollo asked the question.

Kayla sighed at her brother. "The last thing he said, and I quote, 'Daughter of Apollo, good luck.' Do you think you could remember that, Lee? I'd appreciate it if we could stop repeating what the creepy guy said to me and talk about why I've been singled out by so many people!"

Chiron nodded his agreement. "Kayla is right. Zeus is furious; the gods are split down the middle   some siding with Apollo, claiming Kayla's innocence, and some siding with Zeus, out for blood. Zeus has given an ultimatum: either his master bolt be returned by the summer solstice, or there will be war."

A worried silence filled the meeting room, all of the campers lost in their own thoughts.

Finally, Annabeth Chase cleared her throat. "I believe we should have a quest to retrieve the master bolt."

Some campers rolled their eyes at her, knowing how desperate Annabeth was to go on a quest, and others nodded their agreement.

"Yes, that is what must happen," Chiron turned to Kayla. "Kayla, as you are the one most involved in this, having been accused of being the thief, would you lead the quest to find Zeus's item of power?"

Everyone looked at Kayla and she paled. Kayla loved her life at Camp Half-Blood. She had become very close with her siblings and some other campers, and had become one of the best archers. She loved going to lessons and trying to improve her skills, eating in the pavilion, and falling asleep to the sound of multiple people    her siblings   breathing around her. She loved feeling safe.

Kayla had never felt the need to go on a quest like so many of her fellow campers did. She was perfectly happy doing anything and everything she could at camp, maybe taking out a monster here and there when she was at school. But going on a quest? Leading a quest? That was way out of her comfort zone!

Kayla took a deep breath and nodded. Her friends needed her. "Yes, I will lead the quest."

Hades frowned as his son told him about his confrontation with the Apollo girl. He didn't understand why Percy would be so reckless; he was supposed to watch her, have her lead him to the bolt!

The Lord of the Underworld voiced his concerns, but Percy only smiled.

"Trust me, father. A quest will now be enacted after my threat and Zeus'. Kayla Snow will definitely be on it because of the level she is involved. Because of this, she will lead us straight to the bolt." Percy said, sounding completely confident. 

Hades smiled at his son's quick thinking. "You are quite smart, my boy. Smarter than I give you credit for." Percy just smiled back, glancing at his mother who was beaming proudly.

"I will keep watch of the movements of the quest, but I don't really think that'll be necessary. They most likely believe you responsible, and will come to the Underworld. Like a present put on our doorstep."

Father and son shared a grin, and then Percy bowed. "If you need me, I'll be in my room." Hades nodded.

Percy allowed a shadow to engulf him, releasing him in his bedroom.

The room looked quite similar to when Percy had moved in four years earlier, except for a few changes. The bookshelf was filled with books, everything from history textbooks to children's stories to mystery novels. On his desk sat a couple books he had pulled down recently to re-read, and a bunch of different kinds of gems.

There was also a cup of water.

While Percy hated to use his water powers because of where he'd gotten them, he knew he should master them because it was a strong ability and could aid him in times of need.

Percy grabbed 'The Odyssey' from his desk and threw himself onto the bed. He'd read that book a few times before, but knowing the person it was about made it more fun. After reading for about fifteen minutes, he drifted to sleep.

Days passed, and the quest for the master bolt continued. Percy watched from the shadows, always keeping an eye on the movements of the three demigods. Along with Kayla was Annabeth Chase, a daughter of Athena, who had volunteered for the quest and was selected by Chiron. The last member of the quest was Jake Mason, a son of Hephaestus, and close friend of Kayla.

Percy had watched them run from the furies and numerous other monsters, had seen them do a favor for Ares and get a backpack of supplies in return. Percy couldn't help but wince as he saw Kayla's fearful expression when Ares informed her that her mother had been kidnapped by Hades.

His father hadn't told him he was going to do that, but it was understandable; this was a life-or-death situation, and some leverage could help them.

Percy watched, disinterested, while the three demigods played video game after video game in the Lotus Casino. So far, the quest-goers had been at the casino for almost five whole days, which only left them one day until Zeus's deadline.

Kayla finished playing the game she was on and walked around a bit, watching different people play different things. Finally she stopped by an old fashioned Pac-Man game, and talked to the boy playing it. She walked away, confused, and talked to a couple other kids. Percy smirked. Finally; the girl was catching on.

Percy watched as the daughter of Apollo ran and got her friends, quickly leaving the casino. Percy sighed in relief. A war among the gods would be annoying if his father didn't hold the cards.

When the three demigods encountered Procrustes, Percy was extremely tempted to go and help them   he wouldn't get the master bolt if Kayla was dead. But, luckily, Kayla was smart enough and tricked the immortal, killing him and escaping to the entrance to the Underworld, DOA Recording Studios.

Kayla was 100% out of breath. She had come so close to watching her friends die, and her along with them. Kayla had been terrified enough when the furies had cornered them on that bus, and then scared out of her mind when she'd met her first god   not to mention he was the god of war. Luckily the encounter was easy enough, if a little intimidating.

And now she was in DOA Recording Studios, the freaking entrance to the underworld. And the stupid ferryboat guy Charon wasn't letting them in! Earth shattering, lifesaving quest, and he wouldn't let them into the underworld!

After more than five minutes of arguing with the bored looking death-guy, an amused chuckle chilled her blood.

"Aw, come on, Charon. Give the saps a break. I'll make sure your boss gives you a good raise, some recognition!"

Kayla turned and gaped at the mysterious boy that she had met in the woods before she was given the quest. He was grinning at her, but turned his gaze to Charon. He tossed a small velvet bag onto the counter in front of him; it made a clink sound as it landed.

Charon looked up at the boy with wide, slightly afraid, eyes. "Of-of course Lor-"

The boy cut him off. "Now, now, Charon. These three demigods are on a need-to-know basis. And, well, that don't need to know shit. Just let them in, call it an I-owe-you-one."

Charon bowed his head and gestured towards the door to the underworld. "Please follow me, you three."

Jake Mason looked at the boy suspiciously. "Who are you? Why are you helping us?"

The boy grinned. "Let's call it a mutually beneficial deal. Just take what you get, son of Hephaestus. Your deadline is very close, and you need to get to Hades." He made a shooing motion with his hand and Annabeth scowled, opening her mouth to speak.

"Annabeth," Kayla hissed. She could feel the power coming off of the boy, could feel the darkness around him, and knew he wasn't someone to be messed with. "Thanks for your help...mysterious stranger."

He smirked as she said the last bit, and then turned and walked out the front door, back into Las Vegas.

Percy shadow-traveled into the underworld, finding it funny that Kayla Snow and her friends had to walk all the way to Hades' palace, while Percy could just teleport right in.

Percy knelt in front of his parents. "They're in Charon's boat, father. He wouldn't let them in for a long while, so I had to show myself. I gave him a bag of drachmas, hoping that would placate him. It did. Luckily they didn't find out who I was."

When Percy looked up he saw his Father smiling determinedly. "Well done, my son. They will be here any moment then."

After a few minutes, Percy hid himself in the shadows, having heard the front doors of the palace creak open. Hades straightened himself on his throne and Persephone did the same, but her expression was softer than her husband's.

Percy could hear the whispers of the three demigods as they approached the throne room. Hades snapped his fingers and the doors opened wide, revealing three tired and shocked-looking kids. They eyed Hades warily, but not without respect. Slowly they approached the two thrones.

The girl, Annabeth, had enough sense to bow. Kayla and Jake quickly followed suit. "Lord Hades-" Annabeth began.

The Lord of the Dead rose his hand in front of him, palm out, cutting her off. "Silence, Daughter of Athena. I wish to hear from the Lightning Thief," he said, his voice smooth. He turned his attention towards Kayla. "Kayla Snow, give me the master bolt and you may leave the Underworld alive."

Kayla winced, her eyes pained. "Look, I'm sorry, Lord Hades. But I don't have the bolt. I was almost dragged into Tartarus a few moments ago, so frankly I'm going to skip the pleasantries." She paused, taking a breath. "We're here to take the bolt from you. Please return it so that we can avoid war. And please, may I have my mother back?"

Hades' expression tightened, his lips twitching in displeasure. "You should know better than to lie to me, Daughter of Apollo."

Kayla's eyes widened. "I'm not-"

"Yes, you are," Hades snapped. "And you have the gall to walk right into my home, with the bolt, and say you do not have it. Hand it over and your mother may go free."

Kayla frowned in confusion and looked over at her friends. Annabeth's brow was furrowed, until understanding dawned on her expression. She pointed at the backpack slung over Kayla's shoulder.

Kayla quickly removed the bag and put in on the ground. She unzipped the top and gasped. Zeus's Master Bolt grew and grew until it was at least four feet long. Jake gaped at the item as it practically singed with electricity. Percy's hair stood on end just being that close to it.

Hades nodded, satisfied. "You didn't have it, hmm? It looks as if you've lied, little girl. Now where is my helm?"

Percy felt shock ripple through him, the shadows around him rippling in response; Hades was the only one who seemed to notice, sparing a quick apologetic look towards his son.

The three demigods looked just as confused. "Your Helm of Darkness was stolen as well?" Jake asked.

Hades looked displeased with this answer. "Yes, Son of Hephaestus. I would say it was in that bag as well, except I would feel its presence. So where have you hidden it?"

Kayla shook her head, her eyes wide and pleading. "Please, Lord Hades. This is all a mistake! We received that bag from Ares earlier this week! He must've stolen the bolt and your helm! Think about it   who would benefit more in a war of gods than the god of war?"

Percy almost rolled his eyes at this ludicrous accusation, but then...he had seen Ares give them the bag. And he'd been watching them nonstop since they set off on their quest   never once had he seen them with the bolt or put the bolt in the bag. And Ares was the god of war   a war between gods would juice him up!

He wanted to travel to his quickly growing impatient father's side, but he really didn't want to reveal himself. He'd already taken a risk when he'd spoken with Charon, he couldn't just appear and give Hades council.

Hades waved his hand and a woman in her forties or fifties appeared. She looked around, wide eyed, until she saw Kayla.

"Kayla!" she cried.

Kayla gasped. "Mom!" She took a few fast strides towards the woman, but then the woman disappeared. Kayla cried out and looked up at Hades, tears in her eyes.

The Lord of the Dead stared back, unwavering. "If you tell me where my item of power is then you can have your mother back."

Screw it, Percy scowled.

He shadow-traveled to right in front of his father, kneeling immediately. If he was about blatantly go against Hades, then he was going to do it with as much respect as he could give.

Kayla gave a little started gasp as Percy appeared, but he didn't look up at her, keeping his eyes on the ground.

"Lord Hades, I believe them to be telling the truth. I watched every move of their quest, and they did receive that bag from Ares. Never once did any of them put the bolt in the bag, or even register its existence."

There was a long silence, and Percy kept his head bowed. He knew his Father was thinking, considering what he had said against what he believed. Percy decided to take a chance and push a little more.

"My Lord, you have the bolt now, which is what you had wanted all along. If Ares truly took your helm then it will be easy to get back. These demigods have not lied to you. Their only crime is their disrespect in thinking that you took the bolt in the first place."

Another long pause. Then Hades said, "Gods cannot touch other gods' items of power."

"Maybe Ares got a demigod to do his bidding." Percy knew he was pushing his father, but he needed to do this. He might hate most of the gods, but he didn't want to kill some innocent demigods just because Ares wanted a war.

After another minute or so, Hades sighed. "Stand, my son." Percy was grateful that Hades didn't use his name   the longer the gods didn't know that Hades had Poseidon's son, the better.

Percy stood, looking up at his parents. Persephone had a small smile on her face, her pride clear but quiet, and Hades looked thoughtful, as if seeing Percy for the first time. Percy glanced at Kayla and her friends; they all looked mystified by the appearance of the Son of Hades.

"My son, you make a very strong point, and it seems very likely that Ares would pull something like this. Thank you for being my council, as always." Percy smiled slightly and nodded his head in acknowledgment.

Hades turned to the three demigods. He waved his hand and the woman   Kayla's mom   appeared again, next to Kayla this time. "I have given you your mother back. In return I will take the master bolt. You are free to leave."

Annabeth and Kayla exchanged a glance, their expressions nervous. Percy narrowed his eyes slightly as the three demigods all removed something from their pockets, a flash of sea blue was all Percy could see.

Kayla pulled her mother into a tight hug, and Percy's hand twitched towards his sword as his saw the girl whisper something in the woman's ear. When they pulled apart, the woman nodded sadly, smiling with pride.

Kayla stepped back until she was next to Annabeth. "Now!" she yelled.

All in one moment multiple things happened. Jake Mason dove towards the master bolt, grasping it in his hand. Then all three demigods tossed green-blue spheres onto the floor, each smashing them with their feet. And then in a puff of sea-colored magic the demigods   and the master bolt   were gone.

Hades stood in a rage, his expression full of fury. "Perseus, why did you not tell me that they had ocean pearls?"

Percy flinched and took an involuntary step back. Hades had never   not in the four years that he had been with Percy   used his threatening-voice against his son.

"Hades," Persephone said softly.

The Lord of the Dead closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them he looked much calmer. "Percy, when did they receive those? And how?"

Percy wracked his brain. He'd watched their quest every step of the way but he didn't know how they could've gotten ocean pearls, only a seas spirit could have them. Wait, they'd stopped at the beach! But why...

"Father, is Poseidon siding with Apollo?" Percy couldn't keep the disdain out of his voice as he said the Lord of the Sea's name.

Hades nodded. "Yes, he believes Apollo is telling the truth in vouching for his daughter." Understanding dawned on the god's face. "Ah, so a spirit of his decided to help."

It was understandable that Percy had missed such an interaction, but he still hated that he had. "What do you wish for me to do, father?"

Hades waved his hand and a shadow appeared in front of him. An image, like an Iris message, formed in the shadow. Percy's eyes widened as he saw Kayla, Jake, and Annabeth all fighting Ares. Suddenly Ares froze, his expression going blank. He pulled the Helm of Darkness out of somewhere in his jacket and tossed it to Kayla. Then he got on his motorcycle and drove away.

Kayla tossed the Helm to the three furies hovering above her, and then the demigods made their way towards Olympus.

Hades sighed and waved his hand again, making the image disappear. "Well, the bolt is now back with Zeus. I suppose this whole endeavor was a failure."

"I'm sorry, father. I spoke against you and for that they escaped," Percy mumbled, lowering his head.

Hades scoffed, surprising his son. "Please, Perseus! I do not blame you for this."

Percy nodded. "Thank you. That actually means a lot."

Hades smiled slightly. "Get your rest, my son. Tomorrow you can continue your training."

Chapter Text

Percy spent the next year and a half in the Underworld.

He quite liked it, actually. He'd spent four straight years of his life never really leaving this place, only breaking for a mission from his father. But now he could enjoy his life. He'd been training almost nonstop with the greatest heroes of all time, even passing Odysseus in wins against him. He even went and visited his birth-mother in Elysium, which technically was against the rules, but he was a son of Hades   he broke rules for fun.

Seeing his birth-mother was...strange. He'd spent more years with her than he had with Persephone, but his life before coming to the Underworld was so connected to pain and fear and anger that it was hard for him to pull up good memories with Sally Jackson. He could tell it made her sad, but...

Sally would always be his mother, he supposed. But Persephone was him mom.

The peace and calm of Percy's life lasted until a year and a half after the fiasco with Zeus's master bolt. It was winter when Hades called his son into the throne room, the actions so similar to that of a year earlier.

"Percy, about a month ago I pulled your siblings, Bianca and Nico, out of that casino and put them in a boarding school to readjust to new-century life. A satyr from Camp Half-Blood sensed their power and has been at the school for the past week. He has identified them as demigods and a group of half-bloods are on their way to take them to the Camp." Hades paused, his lips twitching. "I wish for you to get them before they can be taken, bring them back here."

Percy nodded, a smile forming on his face. "I'm excited to meet them. For the past five and a half years I couldn't wait for this...I won't let you down, I swear it."

Finding Nico and Biana Di Angelo was fairly simple   as soon as Percy arrived at the school, the Blood of Hades seemed to call out to him, the darkness in him wanting to go to the same darkness.

He found himself in the school's gym, where a dance was apparently happening. He immediately saw the satyr and the demigods from Camp Half-Blood, surprised to see Kayla Snow and Jake Mason there, as well as another girl with choppy black hair and blue streaks. Kayla and Jake were dancing, trying to fit in, Percy guessed. The other girl and the satyr were very obviously looking around for the kids they'd been sent for, not doing that well in blending in.

Percy's eyes landed on a boy no older than ten and a girl not much older than the boy. They both had olive skin and dark hair and eyes. They stood in the corner of the room, looking awkward and out of place at the school dance. A man approached the two children, and Percy recognized a ripple in the mist around him. Percy sharpened his gaze and saw through the mist, recognizing the man for what he truly was: a manticore.

The creature said something to the children and then led them out of the gym. Percy quickly followed, knowing them to be his siblings.

He stealthily crept along after the three people, waiting until they were out of the school before showing himself. He uncapped Anaklusmos, his sword growing in front of him.

The creature turned and scowled, yanking the two children behind him. "Demigod," he sneered. "Leave before I devour your flesh!"

Percy smirked, twirling his blade. "Yeah...not gonna happen, but thanks for the offer! Give them to me. Now."

The creature's tail suddenly appeared, sending thorns towards Percy. Percy just managed to get mostly out of the way, the thorns imbedding themselves into the ground where he had been standing only moments before.

Percy scowled and charged, forcing the creature to drop the mist surrounding it so it could focus on fighting. Percy heard the two kids gasp, one of them even yelling something along the lines of, "That's so cool!"

Percy immediately fell into the familiar pattern of fighting, his natural reflexes and time training with the best giving him the upper hand over the creature. But the thing managed to hit him with a thorn, making him weaker and slower than he normally would be. Percy heard the three demigods from Camp Half-Blood run towards the cliff where he was fighting, Kayla and the satyr checking the children for any injuries. The other girl and Jake Mason drew their own weapons, trying to come to Percy's aid.

Suddenly a volley of silver arrows rained down from the sky, pounding into the beast. The manticore roared angrily and swatted at the group of adolescent girls emerging from the trees. A few of them ran over, continuously shooting the thing with arrows from all sides. Finally, the creature was backed towards the edge of the cliff, and began to fall.

At the last second the monster grabbed onto two of the girls, holding them tightly in his grasp. The group of girls all yelled, running forward as if they could do anything.

Even with his senses dulled, Percy reacted immediately. He shadow-traveled to midair, by where the girls were. He grabbed both of their hands and shadow-traveled back to the cliff, collapsing onto the ground.

The girls immediately pulled away from him, backing away to join their friends. Percy breathed heavily   the poison in his system making that shadow-travel take more out of him than usual.

When he stood up, he realized the demigods and the group of girls were staring at him with expressions ranging from awe to confusion to hatred. Finally, after a minute or so of no one saying anything, Percy capped Anaklusmous and walked over to his siblings. The girl with black hair stood protectively in front of them, but they pushed towards him, as if they felt the same pull inside him as he did.

Percy leaned down a bit. "Hello," he said calmly. "I was sent by your father. I'm here to take you home."

The girl   Bianca   looked relieved, if a little wary, and the boy   Nico   looked down-right ecstatic. "That's so cool! You fought against that giant thingy and won!" Nico cheered, a giant grin spread across his features.

Percy couldn't help but smile back, pulling the two kids into a hug. Percy only let go when he heard someone speak behind him.

"Who are you?"

He turned at the young feminine voice, his eyes landing on a girl no older than twelve. Everything clicked, then. The group of girls dressed in grays and whites, the silver arrows, they were the Hunter of Artemis. And the girl who'd spoken was...

Percy knelt, bowing his head. "My Lady Artemis. My name is Perseus, and I am sorry to have disturbed your hunt. I was sent to bring Nico and Bianca Di Angelo to their father, and saw they were about to be hurt. I had to step in."

Percy heard Artemis approach and rose his head. She was looking at his curiously. "You saved two of my hunters," she said like an accusation.

The demigod nodded. "Yes, My Lady. I know that would've been an honorable death for them, dying in battle, but my gut wouldn't let me just watch them die if I could do something."

Artemis nodded sharply. "Who is your parent?"

Percy winced inwardly. This was the part where the damn gods came into play. "My Lady, I'm sorry but I must get these two to the Underworld. May we continue this conversation after I have completed my mission?"

One of the demigods behind him snorted. "No way, whoever you are. These two are coming to Camp Half-Blood, where they'll be safe."

Percy turned his head to looked at the three half-bloods and satyr. He saw the recognition in Jake and Kayla's expressions, but he focused on the second girl, the one who'd spoken. "No, you're not. These two are children of Hades, and it has been a long time since they have seen their father. It's time for them to be with family."

The girl's eyes narrowed minutely but she didn't say anything else.

"And what assurance does our Lady have that you will even return? You are but a boy!"

Percy turned back around, seeing the girl who had spoken was one of the ones he had rescued from dying. He noticed that she wore a silver band around her head   she was Artemis' lieutenant.

Percy bit his lip, knowing that they had none. But if he stayed then Nico and Bianca would be taken to that camp, away from their family, if they managed to not be killed by Zeus. He turned to Artemis.

"Lady Artemis, if you allow me to shadow-travel these two to the Underworld, then I swear on the river Styx that I will do whatever you ask." Percy stated boldly. A rumble of lightning flashed through the sky, signifying Percy's promise.

Artemis nodded. "Very well, off with you then."

Percy turned and practically ran towards his siblings, kneeling next to them. "Nico, Bianca, I'm going to take you to your father now. Tell him right away that I'm with Lady Artemis. Okay?"

They both nodded hastily. Percy took a deep breath and closed his eyes, engulfing the siblings in a shadow. When the darkness receded they were gone.

Percy turned to the goddess of the hunt. "My name is Perseus Jackson and I am son to Hades and Persephone."

Artemis frowned and a ripple of murmurs ran through the group of hunters. "I must take you to Olympus."

A moment of fear flashed through Percy, and he shook his head, practically stumbling away. "I'm sorry, Lady Artemis. But I will not go there."

Artemis smirked. "You swore on the river Styx to do whatever I ask. And now I am ordering you, Perseus Jackson, to accompany me to Olympus."

Percy felt a tug in him, and knew that he couldn't disobey. So he nodded, a pained expression covering his face.

Artemis took a few steps towards him, briefly looking at her hunters. "I will return shortly. Set up camp here, allow those demigods to stay." Then, in a flash of silver light, the god and demigod were transported to Olympus.

Chapter Text

Percy had never been to Olympus before.

He knew it was the place where Zeus, someone who would probably try to kill him, and Poseidon, his deadbeat of a birth-father, would both be. Hades had kept him from being found for a long time, now that was all out the window.

Adrenaline was making his hands tingle, his heart speeding up in his chest. He really didn't want to be here. This place made him anxious; nothing but pain and chaos followed the gods of Mount Olympus. He had no interest in being hurt by them again.

Percy took a shaky breath as they approached to doors of the gods' throne room. Artemis gave him a curious glance. "Scared of the gods?"

The demigod shook his head. "Not overly fond of what follows them," he muttered. Before Artemis could ask what he meant, they were in the room.

All of the gods   some of them on their thrones, some milling about   turned as Artemis and Percy entered. Percy kept himself from looking at Poseidon, knowing that when he did he wouldn't be able to control his anger.

The Goddess of the Hunt had sent a message ahead to her father, having all of the Olympians gather in the throne room. Everyone took their seats, leaving Percy standing alone in the middle of the huge room.

"Artemis, daughter, why have you called us all here? Who is this boy?" Zeus asked impatiently.

Artemis sat up straighter, looking so very tiny in her young form, but still carrying a regal air about her. "I was hunting a manticore with my hunters. When we managed to catch up to it, we found this boy already battling it. We managed to kill it, but it grabbed two of my girls before falling over the cliff. This boy saved them."

Zeus sighed in exasperation. "What, have you brought him here for an award? How unlike you, Artemis."

Artemis scowled. "He shadow-traveled off the cliff to save my girls. When I asked him who we was, he said he was the son of Hades and Persephone."

Just like the group of hunters, all the gods began murmuring.

Zeus held up his hand, silencing them. He turned his gaze to Percy. "What is your name?"

Percy rose his chin in a sign of defiance. "Perseus Jackson."

A strangled sound escaped the lips of the god to Zeus' left   Poseidon. All the Olympians glanced at the Lord of the Seas curiously, but quickly looked back at Percy.

"Do you, Perseus Jackson, claim to be the godly son of Hades and Persephone?" Zeus asked sharply. Percy's lips twitched into a smile as he heard Demeter snort. Zeus looked over at her in annoyance. "What is it?" he snapped.

The goddess of the Harvest just rolled her eyes. "Well, you're harassing my grandson!" She turned her gaze to Percy, her expression warm. "Percy, it's been far to long! How are you, sweet boy?"

Percy grinned and shadow-traveled to Demeter so that he was sitting next to her in her throne. The gods all looked shocked, but Demeter didn't look offended that a mortal sat on her throne, simply gave Percy a hug.

"Yes, grandmother, it has been to long. And I'm well," Percy replied.

"Well, what on Earth were you doing out of the Underworld? Your father must've known you would be found, you were so close to Artemis! What was that idiot thinking?"

Percy laughed. "Sorry, grandma, but I was saving Nico and Bianca before they could be stolen away to that wretched camp." Demeter nodded in understanding.

Zeus cleared his throat. "Sorry to interrupt-" he didn't sound sorry, "-but I'm quite curious to know what in Tartarus is going on!"

Demeter sighed. "This is Hades and Persephone's son. He is not a god, but a demigod. My daughter and son-in-law adopted Percy, here, when they found him running from monsters on the street."

"You said he's a demigod. If he's not Hades', who is Perseus' godly parent?" Zeus asked, mystified.

"Why don't you ask our brother?" Percy smiled as Hades appeared in the throne room, Persephone right next to him. Percy quickly shadow-traveled to his parents, standing between them. Persephone grabbed his hand.

Zeus scowled. "Hades, what a...pleasant surprise. Stealing another god's child now, are you?"

Hades scoffed. "Oh, please, brother. Look far into Percy's memories. You will see why his birth parent has forsaken any right to my son."

All of the Olympians, except for Demeter   as she had already seen the horrors in Percy's mind   looked into the boy's memories. When they were done, they all looked slightly horrified. A few of them even glanced at Poseidon in disdain.

"My birth-father is Poseidon," Percy said, his tone filled with disgust. "But my father is Hades. I am loyal to him, not Poseidon, not you, and not any of the other gods."

Zeus scowled, but he couldn't really muster up the anger at the disrespect after seeing Percy's memories. What the boy had been through...that was something no one shoulder ever have to experience.

"Even in spite of Perseus'...past...there is still the fact of the matter that such a powerful demigod is roaming around uncontrolled," Zeus huffed. "You've all seen his memories, you know what he can do   the boy is a danger to us all."

Hades scowled. "My son doesn't need to be controlled. He is perfectly capable of handling himself. Besides, unless you are making any plans to go against me, Perseus is no danger to you."

Zeus frowned. "What do you mean, brother?"

Percy smirked. "He means exactly what I said earlier   my loyalties are to him, not to the gods or Olympus or Poseidon or that camp. Unless you go against my father, you will not have to worry about me."

Zeus's eyes narrowed and he glanced around the room. "We will take a vote, then. All in favor of killing the boy?"

All of the gods looked at Zeus with expressions ranging from fury to annoyance. No one raised their hands.

"All in favor of sending the boy to Camp Half-Blood so that he can be watched?" Zeus paused, and then tersely added, "A reminder to everyone here that we still have the problem of the titan lord, and that this boy is a threat. Leaving him unsupervised could be catastrophic."

The first thought that passed through Percy's mind was I don't need to be supervised, and the next was, My father is all the supervision I might need.

Slowly, even hesitantly, all the gods raised their hands, one by one.

Hades scowled and Persephone sighed sadly. She knelt and turned her son towards her. "Percy, your father and I love you. Never forget that, alright? We will speak soon." She kissed him on the cheek, and then winked conspiratorially. "Try not to kill too many annoying prats on your first day, hmm?"

Percy grinned and hugged her. "I love you too, mother."

"Your other children will also have to go with him, Hades," Zeus said sternly.

Suddenly Percy drew Anaklusmos, surprising everyone in the room. He turned to Zeus, his expression full of fury. "If you go anywhere near my siblings then you will  have to worry about me. It that understood?"

Zeus's eyes narrowed and he stood. "Insolent boy! You dare to defy me?"

Percy nodded sharply. "Yes." He said this with so much authority and truth and fury that Zeus faltered.

Hera put her hand on her husband's arm, looking at Percy thoughtfully.

"Zeus, there is no harm in letting the children stay in the underworld. From what I see they are just children, and they are not nearly as powerful as Perseus. Besides, I believe if we attempt to force them to attend Camp Half-Blood that Perseus will attempt to kill us all." Her voice was calm and authoritative, but sounded amused at the last part. Percy nodded in agreement.

Zeus scowled but sat back down. "Very well," he said stiffly. "Nico and Bianca Di Angelo will remain in the underworld until they begin to show signs of immense power, and then they will go to Camp Half-Blood, or there shall be consequences. Perseus will go straight there."

Percy had never been a fan of god-travelling. Yes, it was fast, but it always left him dizzy and a little nauseous. So having to travel by god twice within an hour of each other, Percy wasn't that happy.

They blinked into existence back at the place where the Hunters of Artemis had set up camp. It had been decided that Percy would travel to Camp Half-Blood with the other demigods and the Hunters. Apparently Artemis had something important to hunt, and was leaving her girls behind.

Percy couldn't wait to see their faces when they found out that they had to go to Camp Half-Blood; if he was annoyed about it, he couldn't even imagine how angry these girls would be.

Artemis's Lieutenant walked forward as soon as she saw them and bowed slightly towards Artemis, not even looking at Percy. Percy, in turn, kept his gaze respectful and distant.

"My Lady," she said with a strong voice. "The demigods are currently by the main fire. Phoebe has taken stock of their weapons, but they don't pose much threat. Shall we begin to pack up?"

Artemis sighed and shook her head. "No, Zoe, you and the girls will be traveling to Camp Half-Blood with the demigods."

The girl   Zoe   started in surprise, but quickly composed herself. "My Lady...may I ask why?"

"There is a beast I must hunt," Artemis said, and then rose her hand as Zoe opened her mouth to speak. "And only I can hunt it. It is a mission from Zeus. Please tell everyone to begin packing up. Apollo will be here shortly to take you all to camp."

Zoe looked like she wanted to protest, but just nodded. She sent a small glare at Percy and then was gone.

Artemis turned to Percy. "Come with me." She led him through the camp of Hunters. Almost every girl glared hatefully at him, but Percy only kept his hands clasped behind his back and his eyes averted, never looking at one of them for more than a second   Percy knew how much the Hunters hated men; he needed to be as respectful and distant as he could manage.

They reached a large fire in the center of the camp set-up. Sitting around it were the demigods and satyr from before, as well as a girl with bright orange hair, a girl with brown hair, and Zoe.

One of the demigods   Kayla Snow, Percy remembered her well   caught sight of him and stood, crossing her arms over her chest.

Percy quirked an eyebrow and smirked. "Kayla Snow, daughter of Apollo." Percy mock bowed. "A real pleasure to see you again, truly."

The red-haired girl scowled and stood. "You ape. Show your betters some respect."

Percy schooled his expression. He loved messing with people, but getting on the bad side of the Hunters was a very bad idea.

He nodded his head respectfully. "I'm sorry, Hunter, I do not mean to disrespect. Only I haven't seen Kayla in a year and a half, and it would be nice to catch up with her."

The redhead narrowed her eyes. She looked like she was about to yell some more, but Kayla spoke up.

"It's alright, Phoebe. He's saved my life a few times. Though, I'm not exactly sure why." The archer looked at Percy pointedly and he rolled his eyes.

"Wait, wait, wait, wait," the punk-looking demigod said. "You know creepy boy over here? How?" Sudden understanding bloomed in her eyes. "Hold up   is this the mysterious stranger that threatened you and then let you into the Underworld?" Kayla nodded, and punk-girl laughed. "Well! Nice to meet you then!" She stuck out her hand, and Percy took it. "I'm Thalia, by the way. Daughter of Zeus."

"Percy, son of Hades," Percy replied, taking a seat between her and Kayla. Jake Mason leaned forward, looking at him.

"So...what? Are you on our side now? You seemed kind of threatening back then," he said with a snort.

Percy grinned, all teeth and sharp angles, making him look intimidating. "Ah, Jake Mason, son of Hephaestus! Good to see you again. And to answer your question, no, I'm not on your side. Just like when we met, I'm loyal to my father, no one else."

The brown-haired Hunter   which Percy realized was the other girl he'd saved   spoke up. "Who in Hades are you? There are rumors circulating that you're the godly child of Hades and Persephone. Is that true?" She didn't appear to have the same hatred as her comrades, looking curious instead.

Percy smiled politely. "No, I'm a demigod. Just a lame ass boy, to top it off." The girl giggled and Phoebe sneered.

"My name's Celyn, by the way. Thank you for saving me earlier," she said with a very kind smile, cheeks pinking. Percy's eyes widened slightly, his lips parting. Celyn must've been new to the Hunter life style, because she definitely wasn't man-hating.

Percy extended his hand to her respectfully. He could see the Hunters nearby watching him closely   if he took Celyn up on her flirting, all of the Hunters would want his head for ruining her oath. "Just doing my duty, Celyn. Nice to meet you. How long have you been a Hunter?"

Celyn's cheeks reddened even further, and Percy sighed inwardly. If this girl kept being sweet and cute and pretty, then Percy would have a very hard time keeping the Hunters from hating him. "I took my oath forty-three days ago," she replied proudly.

Suddenly a red sports car appeared out of the sky, morphing into a yellow school bus as it landed. A teenage boy Percy recognized as Apollo emerged from it, smiling at all of the girls. He walked forward and embraced Artemis, who looked uncomfortable at the contact.

"Apollo's hot," Thalia murmured under her breath.

Percy smirked. "He's the sun god."

Thalia smirked back, winking and shoving his shoulder playfully. "Yeah, that's not what I meant."

Percy chuckled and walked forward. He half-bowed respectfully. "Lord Apollo. I would like to thank you for not voting against my life. I am grateful for that."

Apollo looked surprised, but then grinned, clapping Percy on the back. "Well, don't mention it, kid! After what I saw in those memories of yours, killing you would be a crime. Think of the stories!"

Percy winced at the mention of his memories, and a few Hunters looked at him curiously at the statement.

"Well, let's get a move on, girls! Percy, would you like the honor of driving?" Apollo bounced excitedly, motioning towards his bus. Percy started, surprised, and nodded.

Percy waited by the entrance as all of the Hunters filed onto the bus, then the demigods and satyr. Lastly he got on, looking at the driver's seat warily. He glanced around and saw a lot of the girls looking slightly miffed that a boy would be driving them.

He came to a decision. "You know what, Lord Apollo? As a son of Hades, I prefer to remain on the ground, so driving a flying contraption..." He smiled ruefully. "I think that Lieutenant Zoe should drive."

Artemis's right-hand looked up in surprise, but schooled her expression and stood. Apollo nodded happily. "Of course! Come on, Lieutenant Zoe. Show us what you've got!"

Chapter Text

The bus ride was, over all, not completely horrible.

As a son of Hades (and, technically, Poseidon), his instinct was most certainly to keep his feet flat on the floor. But for a who-knows-how-old Hunter, Artemis's Lieutenant seemed to be a pretty fair driver; she went too fast or too slow occasionally, but Percy had a feeling she was doing far better than he would have.

Across from him, Thalia was clutching her seat, her eyes wide, skin a little green.

They landed somewhat awkwardly at the base of Half-Blood Hill, thudding against the ground hard enough to make everyone jerk in their seats. A crowd of demigods began to form outside, people watching the flying school bus (Percy was sure there was a TV show reference in there somewhere) land in their camp with a mixture of awe, confusion, and apprehension.

"Well, that was...interesting," Percy said with a breathless laugh. "Can't say that I've ever flown in a sun school bus before. Or flown at all, really. Not sure it's something I should do again, all things considered."

Thalia snorted and shook her head at him, looking very relieved to be on solid ground again. A daughter of Zeus with a fear of heights? That had to be one for the history books.

The son of Hades exited the bus, along with everyone else, and was greeted by strange looks by all of the campers around him. Percy simply smirked at all of them and waved his fingers in a teasing hello, which made some people smile and others look uncomfortable.

A centaur that Percy knew was named Chiron made his way through the crowd towards the newly arrived group. He eyed Percy warily; the son of Hades had a feeling that was a look he was going to be getting a lot.

Kayla, Thalia, and Jake approached the centaur, talking to him quietly for a few minutes. Percy saw the three of them glance over at him a couple of times, but he didn't let it bother him; they were most likely just filling Chiron in on everything that had happened.

"Hunters of Artemis, son of Hades, I welcome you to Camp Half-Blood. Hunters, you are of course welcome to the use of your Lady's cabin that we have here for the duration of your stay."

Percy saw a lot of the campers tense at the acknowledgment of his godly parent   some looking suspicious, some in awe   but ignored them in favor of the way Chiron's eyes slid to him, cautious and guarded. It made Percy smile.

"Underworld Prince, if you wouldn't mind following me for a brief conversation?"

For a moment, Percy debated being difficult, debated striding off to go explore the camp and find a place to wait out his months in the fuck awful place. But Chiron was a being deserving of respect, even if he ran a place Percy detested on principal.

"Of course," he agreed, bowing his head. "Lead the way."

The centaur turned around and headed for a large blue house with a wrap-around porch. Thalia, Kayla, the girl Percy vaguely recognized and thought was named Annabeth, and a few other campers Percy didn't know followed as well, and he watched them carefully.

This was a place of strangers, and everyone was a possible enemy. Percy couldn't forget that.

"Now," Chiron said with a kind smile when they reached a room with a ping-pong table, his eyes still wary, "Kayla tells me that you're the one who helped them get into the Underworld on their quest?"

Percy glanced at the Daughter of Apollo, who stared back at him boldly, her arms folded across her chest. She didn't look suspicious, though; she looked curious.

"That's correct," Percy confirmed. "Charon wasn't going to let them in, so I gave him a bag of drachmas and he agreed."

"Why do it?" one of the other people asked, a tall, burly boy who reeked of smoke; a son of Hephaestus, Percy easily recognized. "Jake told me about how you appeared in the throne room, too, and went to bat for them when Hades was getting all...angry. Why help at all?"

Percy pursed his lips. He didn't owe these people explanations about himself or her family. He didn't want to be here at all, let alone letting all these random demigods know about him. All of them were blind in one way or another, thinking the gods actually had their back. He didn't want to get close, or let them in. He wanted to go home.


But he had to be here, or Zeus would kill him, and likely go after Nico and Bianca. He couldn't let them get hurt. And so for now, he had to play along. Depending on what he said and how he phrased this, he could really endear them to him and earnt their trust. Could come in handy, in the long run.

"My father's Helm of Darkness was stolen," he said calmly. "So was Zeus' bolt but who gives a shit-" He paused as thunder rumbled up above, and a slow smile grew on his face. "Right   different rules here than in the Underworld. Anyway   Kayla Snow was said to be the one to have it. The easiest way to get it back was to make sure they got into the Underworld. As for what happened in the throne room..."

His tongue darted out to wet his lips. "I'd been watching the quest, and so I knew they were telling the truth about where they got the bag. They hadn't taken the bolt or the helm; I couldn't just sit back and let my father punish them for something they didn't do."

Percy turned his gaze to Kayla and he rose a disapproving eyebrow. "I'd missed the part where you got those sea pearls, though, so thanks for that. The grounding was hell."

Some of the campers snorted at his joke.

"You also said you were Hades' and Persephone's kid," Thalia pointed out, "back at Westover. But you're not a god   so...?"

"I call Persephone mother and she calls me son," Percy told them simply. "Does that not make me her child?"

"It's simply surprising," Chiron said gently. "The fact that Persephone has accepted Hades' half-blood son as her own is...unusual."

Percy smirked and rose his hand, conjuring an apple. The campers startled, eyes wide. "Demeter has also accepted me as family, by the way." He took a loud bite of the fruit, grinning at the incredulous looks he received.

"Well, shit," a girl said, shaking her head. Percy tilted his head and looked closer through the mist, smelling grain and earth; she was a daughter of Demeter. "I can't fucking do that."

"Language," Chiron chastised, and Percy laughed at both comments.

"Did you really grow up in the Underworld?" another girl asked curiously. She was very pretty, with long black hair, blue eyes, and a slim figure. There was a certain kind of magnetism to her, and it wasn't hard to identify her as a daughter of Aphrodite.

Percy nodded, a smirk pulling at his features; they didn't, after all, need to know the semantics. "Trained with Odysseus, Theseus, Achilles, Jason, Cadmus..." He trailed off, enjoying the incredulous and impressed looks he was getting. "It was certainly a fascinating childhood."

"And so why are you here now?" Thalia asked. "Why not go back to the Underworld, be with your parents and siblings?"

"Because Zeus threatened to kill him," Annabeth murmured. Percy looked to her, meeting wise gray eyes and an air of surety. "Right? Thalia said Artemis took you to Olympus   Zeus gave you the choice between death or Camp Half-Blood?"

"I wouldn't exactly call it a choice," Percy said wryly. "More like he and the other gods voted over whether or not I was allowed to keep breathing." He barely managed to keep the bitter edge out of his voice. "They decided I could, but that I'm too dangerous to be allowed to remain out in the world, unsupervised."

"But he didn't make your siblings come here as well?" another boy asked, tilting his head.

I threatened his life if he touched them, Percy thought wryly, and the king of the gods actually listened.

"Nico and Bianca have shown no signs of abilities yet past a strong aura; according to Zeus, they can remain in the Underworld until they display power." And if I have anything to say about it, they'll stay in the Underworld for long after that happens.

"So you'll be living here, then?" Thalia asked. "Permanently?"

"That's what I've been told to do, yes," Percy said with a smirk. The Daughter of Zeus grinned back at him.

"And you are welcome here," Chiron said graciously. "Now, your father does not have a cabin here-" Percy's smile sharpened, "-but you are welcome to stay anywhere you wish."

He saw one of the campers open their mouth   maybe to offer a place, maybe to voice a complaint   but he spoke before they could. "Where did the Lightning Thief live?"

Some of the people shared wary glances, some glanced at Kayla.

"No, not her," Percy said dismissively. "I mean the actual Lightning Thief, the one who took Zeus' Master Bolt and my father's Helm of Darkness. I assume he went to this camp; who was his godly parent?"

The room was deathly silent.

"Hermes," Annabeth said eventually. Her expression was carefully blank, but her eyes showed a deep well of emotion, not that Percy understood whatever it was she was feeling. "His name is Luke Castellan, and he is a son of Hermes."

Percy hummed, nodding. "Oddly fitting." He saw one of the campers tense, eyes narrowing, and continued before the boy could protest or yell or whatever. "I'd like to stay in the Hermes cabin, then, if there's room."

"Why?" Annabeth asked, her tone almost accusatory.

Percy met her gaze calmly and easily, his eyes cold. "Because the Olympians have so much disdain for my father that he doesn't even have a place here, let alone the respect he deserves from all of you. I am an outcast and a stranger here, and until I am allowed to leave, I have to pick a cabin to live in; I have to choose one of the gods who would easily see me dead if it suited them, or my father contained to the Underworld. So if I'm going to do that, I think I'd like to pick the god that has a tendency to take in strays, and the home of the boy who seemed to have quite a bit of bitterness towards the gods. It's something I can relate to."

He noticed, then, that the shadows of the room had been responding to his feelings, spreading across the walls and darkening the lights. The campers in the room were shifting uneasily, some even looking openly afraid. Percy took a deep breath and released the well of bitterness and anger, pushing it down. The light of the room returned to normal.

"So!" he said, far more brightly. "Is there room in the Hermes cabin?"

The first moment he could, Percy slipped away from everyone.

Chrion had assigned him a "guide", someone to show him around the camp, but it wasn't hard for Percy to figure out that guide really meant babysitter, or maybe a better term was actually watcher.

Frankly, Percy wasn't a fan of being watched. So, the moment the girl had turned her back   it was the Aphrodite girl from before, who introduced herself as Silena   he shadow-traveled away, depositing himself on a riverbank, surrounded by trees. It was...pretty. Couldn't hold a torch to the Underworld, of course, but...Well, at least it was pretty.

Percy really wasn't an emotional person, but he could feel his eyes stinging with tears nonetheless. He missed his parents, and his bedroom, and the walls of the palace that almost seemed to glow, and his teachers, and, and, and...

The list went on and on. He missed his home. And he wanted to spend time with Nico and Bianca, wanted to get to know them, wanted to be their family. And there was a small part of him, a part he'd never admit to anyone, that was afraid. The pair of them were actually children of Hades   now that Hades had them with him, what use did he have for a fake son, one who wasn't even there?

What would stop Hades from forgetting all about the boy he took in, the boy who had served his purpose?

"You're being stupid," Percy muttered to himself, plopping down on the ground in front of the river. "He's your father, has been for five and a half years. He's not just going to cast you out."

The water of the river, much like the shadows in the Big House, responded to his emotional conflict. Little ripples started and then grew bigger and bigger. Percy pursed his lips, staring at it hatefully, and then flicked his wrist. The ripples began to swirl and then rose, turning into a mini cyclone. Percy twisted his fingers and the cyclone began to twirl faster and faster, the wind around it buffeting Percy's hair.

He'd never liked the abilities he had that came from Poseidon, would far rather perfect all the things Hades had gifted him with. But only an idiot ignored a possible advantage, and his control over water was certainly that. He'd trained so long and hard to master this, and he was skilled, but it never made him feel anything except contempt.

"What the hell," someone breathed.

Percy jerked to his feet and whirled around, the water splashing back to the ground behind him. Standing just a few feet away was Thalia, staring at him incredulously.

"Can I help you?" Percy asked smoothly.

"What the hell was that?" the Daughter of Zeus demanded, eyes still wide.

Percy smirked. "Haven't the faintest idea what you mean."

"You just manipulated the water!" Thalia exclaimed, completely unperturbed by Percy's denials. "How did you   that's not a power Hades should have. That's-" She blinked, lips parting. "Oh my gods."

"What?" Percy asked defensively. He had to restrain himself from the instinct to draw his sword or cross his arms, two very obvious defensive moves.

"After you left, Mr. D wandered through. He was rude and drunk as per fucking usual, of course, but when Chiron mentioned you were here, he referred to you as the stolen demigod. He laughed like it was some big joke and then left again, not explaining. But this is..." She shook her head, still wide-eyed. "How does this even work? I   you have powers of Hades, but if he took you-"

"My father didn't take me," Percy snarled. "I am son of Hades and Persephone. I wasn't stolen. I made my choice, and the gods made theirs."

Thalia watched him for a long moment. There was something almost understanding in her gaze, and though the look made something inside of Percy bristle, he figured that out of everyone, Thalia probably had the best chance of understanding him, considering she was also a child of the eldest gods.

"I won't tell anyone," she said eventually. "I know how dangerous being a kid of the Big Three can be; somehow you have both Hades and Poseidon inside of you   it would make you even more of a target than you already are if that got out. I can't claim to understand whatever the hell is going on inside of you, or what beef you clearly have with the gods, but   " She shook her head. "For whatever it's worth, I won't tell anyone."

Percy hesitated, examining her for a while, and then nodded, a small   genuine   smile pulling at his lips. "Thank you, Thalia."

The Daughter of Zeus nodded. "'Course." Then she smirked. "You're gonna have to show me what you can do, though. Because it seems like you've got quite a few tricks up your sleeve."

Percy grinned back, all sharp angles and dark eyes. "Oh trust me, I've got tricks."