Percy and I had celebrated his nineteenth birthday with the camp a few days ago, but today we're taking a family day to go visit Sally. We rarely got a chance to leave camp, Percy missed his mom and the kids missed their grandmother. I had surprised him the night of his birthday after everyone left out house. He had been so excited he nearly fell out of bed.
I was packing the diaper bag, making sure to remember Noah's stuffed giraffe and Gracie's blanket. Percy was out with them now by the, no shocker there. I was going to meet him by the gates in an hour as soon as I finished packing. Percy offered to help, but his version of packing is grabbing a handful of clothes and stuffing them in a bag. I loved him but there was some things he just couldn't do. After the last pacifier was put into place I grabbed the diaper bag, duffel bag, and suitcase. Im sure I looked ridiculous trying to lock our front door while balancing all of the luggage. I don't even know why I was locking it, if anyone in this camp wanted to get in a lock wouldn't stop them.
I was beginning my walk to the gates when Nico ran around the corner of one of the houses and slammed right into me. I landed in an awkward position amongst my bags, my hair twisted in every direction. He hurried to his feet with an apologetic look, "Oh gods I'm sorry Annabeth! I was just in a hurry and I should have watched were I was going." I laughed as he helped me up, "I'll tell you what, you can make it up to me by helping me carry these bags to the front gates." He picked up the duffel and slug the strap over his shoulder, "Yeah sure, but I really need to talk to Percy, do you know where I can find him?" I gave him a look only a mother could give, "Nico, do you really think I would be going on a trip, with this many bags, and Percy would be anywhere else besides waiting for me at the gates." He blushed a bit, the red contrasting against his pale white skin. "Oh, I guess that would make sense." He chuckled a bit, "So where are you guys headed?" I stopped to pull my suitcase over a rock, "We're just headed into town to visit Sally for a couple days. We won't be too long. What was it that you needed to talk to Percy about?"
He nodded as if contemplating something really important, "Well I don't really know exactly. It's kind of complicated. Besides, it's long, and I doubt you'd want to listen to it twice." I would have thought that evasive response was odd if it had come from anyone other than Nico, I just shrugged it off and kept walking. I could see Percy up ahead he had both of the kids in their car seats, he was sitting between them playing peek-a-boo. It seemed like he was enjoying it more than the kids were, in fact Gracie was half asleep with boredom but Noah seemed to be having fun. Nico ran ahead and dropped the duffel next to car seats and put a hand on Percy's shoulder. Percy stopped his game and looked up, his face went from playful to serious in a matter of seconds. Whatever Nico was saying, it wasn't exactly happy news. Percy nodded his head as Nico spilled his words that were conveniently too hard to speak earlier. I quickened my pace just a bit, to try and catch the end of the conversation, but it seemed it was over by the time I was within earshot.
By the time I got there, Nico was leaving and Percy was smiling again. I narrowed my eyes at him, "Percy Jackson you know if you don't tell me whats going on, I will hit you, right here, right in front of our children." His smile slowly melted as he smooched his lips together in an obvious effort not to laugh. He took the duffel bag that had been thrown in the dirt, "I will, I promise, its just not the time or place. Really it won't make a difference weather I tell you now or later, and I prefer to tell you later." I gave him the puppy dog eyes and he sighed, "You know those don't always work. I am a MAN, not only am I a man but I am a Hero. I can say no if I want to." He picked up the carseats, one in each hand and stepped out of the camp borders. I may have been upset but I was going to forget it for now, "Hey babe you mind turning around for a bit? I want to get a picture of the twins first time leaving camp." He spun around, earning him a squeal of delight from Gracie and a bit of spit up from Noah. He gave a big cheesy grin as I snapped a quick picture and put the camera back into the diaper bag.
The whole cab ride I couldn't think of anything besides Nico's secret, whatever it was. Im sure I was making it a lot worse in my head then it really was. It was just an itch at the back of my mins that just wouldn't go away. Even as we ascended the stairs to his parents new home I was still thinking about it. Sally had met us at the door, completely thrilled to see us. Naturally she went straight to Percy giving him kisses all over his face. It was easy to forget that he was still a teenager, still a baby in his mothers eyes. Then she gave me a quick hug and kiss on the cheek, before she lead us into the den. As soon as Percy put the kids down, Sally was on the floor taking them out of their carseats. She got Noah out first, "Oh my goodness, he looks just like Percy, look at those eyes. But he has his mommy's hair, doesn't he? Yes he does." She ad gone into full baby mode.
I pulled out the play mat and laid it out for her. She put Noah down next to her, he sat up all on his own now. He pulled on her hem of her shirt as she took Gracie out of her carseat, "Oh Annabeth this ones going to be a heartbreaker, I guarantee it. She's beautiful, truly. I gave a proud smile and turned to say something to Percy... but he wasn't there. Sally giggled, "Looking for Percy? He more than likely went straight to the kitchen. You know how boys are when it comes to their moms food." Actually I didn't but I just smiled as Paul sat by her playing with Noah. I took a seat on the couch as Percy called from the kitchen, "Oh my gods mom ! You made a feast! All of my favorites! You even made a blue cake!" I guess no food could trump your mothers food, I felt my chest tighten. I didn't know how to cook. What if my kids never low my cooking, never have those memories.
I joined Percy in the kitchen, he walked around the dinner table sampling everything one by one. He even swiped his finger through the frosting of the cake, making a very satisfied look. I walked up behind him and put my hand on his shoulder, "Alright seaweed brain, its time, spill it." He slowly turned around meeting my eyes, "Okay now before I tell you anything, you need to promise me you won't tell anyone. And I mean anyone." I nodded as I pulled a chair out and sat down. He sighed and took the seat next to me, "Alright where to start. Okay so you know how Luke's been looking for a way to fix Thalia and bring Leo back and all of that nonsense." I nodded, urging him to continue, "Well Hermes kind of popped into Nico's cabin the other day, told him theres a way for him to learn how to control the balance. He's making a trip to the underworld. He asked me to cover for him while he takes his little field trip. No one needs to know where he's going. He doesn't want people to get there hopes up in case he can't do it."
He turned to continue eating, signaling that he was done talking. I felt my heart pick up its pace, I hardly knew Leo, but the thought that there might be a chance he would come back excited me. Not to mention Thalia, she had been my friend when I was young, seeing her so sick had been torture. Percy looked at me, "Oh and he wanted me and Jason to go with him, you know like a quest." My heart went from happy to cold and hard. I knew it was selfish, but there was no way I was letting Percy go underground, not after what happened in Tartarus.