Chapter One: The Wake
How Annabeth Chase became Buffy Summers
Disclaimer: I do not own BTVS or Percy Jackson.
Annabeth Chase stood and stared out of the window of the Jackson's’ apartment. Rain fell in continuous sheets. It had been like this for a week now, ever since...well, Poseidon had found out. Poseidon was in the kitchen right now, helping Paul wash up the dishes left over from the wake. Annabeth had been surprised that he had offered to help but she saw him glance at Sally’s broken figure and she had decided then that maybe Lord Poseidon wasn’t so bad after all.
Sally Jackson had collapsed after the last mourner had left; just sat on the couch and stared. Annabeth felt like maybe she should help her but she kind of felt like collapsing herself right now. So she stood and stared out at the endless rain. It felt appropriate, she had decided, that the sky should mourn him. After all, he had saved the world hadn’t he? He had saved the world, only to get killed by some strange twist of fate.
She could still remember watching the life drain from his bright, sea-green eyes while she held him in the middle of an alley in downtown New York; just a couple of streets away from the ocean.
Of course, everybody had told her it wasn’t her fault; she couldn’t have possibly known that the fight with the Minotaur would make the floor collapse into a flooded basement. She couldn’t possibly have known that a trailing wire still carried some spark and would electrocute them both; killing the Minotaur and leaving Percy weakened but alive.
She knew all of this and she accepted it but the one thing she couldn’t forgive herself for was for letting her guard down; for letting Percy make his own way out when he was still weak, for letting him try to climb those rotten stairs.
She could’ve grabbed him. He had been in her reach when the step underneath him had given out and he’d fallen backwards into the water. At first she had laughed, after all, he was a bit of a seaweed brain wasn’t he? Then she had panicked when he didn’t come up again.
The next part was a blur of panic. She had tied a rope and thrown it over the edge so it hung down and reached the water. She remembered practically falling down the rope into the water.
Gods that water had stank. It had mostly been sewage. It had clung to her fingers in brown lumps when she had searched the water for him and when she finally found him, it had clumped in his hair.
Her hand had reached round and felt his lower back; when it found the shard she had almost physically recoiled.
Somehow, she still didn’t remember how, she had gotten them both out of that gods-be-damned basement and managed to get him outside to the alley.
Torrential gout's of rain had hit them as soon as they were outside. She was frozen within seconds but Percy, oh gods, Percy, had woken up. The rain had given him a second life or at least that was what she had hoped with every particle of her being.
She almost laughed at how naive she’d been. It had only given him time enough to smile and die in her arms in the rain. He had looked at her, right into her eyes with his and smiled.
Then he was gone.
Just like that, her best friend since she was eleven, the love of her life, was gone.
She had clung to him, pleaded to his blank face, not to leave her alone; she needed him so much that it hurt.
But he hadn’t woken up. Those eyes had remained unseeing, had quickly gone pale; losing that spark that had made her go weak at the knees more than once. Of course she had never admitted that, not to anyone, not even to him.
It had only been a week but already the world felt smaller for not having him in it. Many had said that at the wake. Even the gods had. Hades, even Lord Ares had said ‘He’d miss the little punk’ and coming from him that was practically a sobbed eulogy.
Out of all of the gods assembled, Annabeth decided that Mr D had been the most surprising. He had actually called her and Percy by their names and he’d complimented Percy for ‘being a hero that we can be proud of for many millennia to come’. Turns out he had a soft spot for ‘Old Barnacle Beard’s son’ after all.
There was the sound of a door opening quietly, as if it was trying not to disturb the two mourners in the living room and Annabeth turned her head to see Poseidon entering the room she and Sally were sitting in. He looked haggard and old; much older than Annabeth had ever seen him look before. His salt and pepper hair was more salt than pepper and his laughter lines had deepened, giving him a look of brokenness. He stood in front of Sally and she raised her head to give him a weak smile which he returned with just as much vigor.
“I don’t know how to thank you Poseidon. It was very kind of you to stay and help,” Sally said in a small voice.
“It was no trouble Sally. I’m sorry that I couldn’t help more.” I’m sorry that I couldn’t save our son, was a statement that went unspoken but hung heavily in the air. Annabeth turned away. Their display of private grief was not something she could share in; they had lost a part of themselves. Her eyes tracked two raindrops as they raced each other down the windowpane. She wished her Mother was there. She needed her.
Annabeth closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, the cracking feeling in her chest numbed as she focused on pushing her emotions into a dark recess of her mind. She could deal with her own grief later, privately; she knew Sally was barely holding it together and that if Annabeth’s walls cracked, then so would Sally’s and Annabeth felt that Sally would rather break down in the privacy of her own home with Paul nearby than with Poseidon and Annabeth there.
Annabeth reflected on the pain Poseidon must have felt over the years; to lose so many children and to never see them again, to never be able to reunite with them in death as their mortal parents could. It must be heartbreaking for him, for all of them, Annabeth thought.
He had been close with Percy though and Annabeth had respected him for that. Even though he was a god, he had found the time to talk to his son and show him he cared. Annabeth’s own Mother, Athena, didn’t show emotion as much; sometimes Annabeth had wondered if she cared about her or any of her siblings. She shook her head to dislodge the thought. Her Mother cared about her; she knew that now for sure.
There was a sound of shifting springs and rustling cloth as Sally Jackson rose from the couch and strongly embraced Poseidon, it was almost as if she was trying to feel that shared part of them once again. However, she stepped away from him and they shared a regretful smile. Poseidon exchanged a nod with Paul that conveyed many meanings and left quietly, without the usual ceremony that the gods exited stage right with.
Annabeth saw him leave out of the corner of her eye and turned back to see Sally, on the edge of breaking down. Annabeth moved then and gently touched Sally’s elbow. The older woman turned to look at her and the demigod saw her pain reflected in the eyes of the mortal. Sally’s knees crumpled and Annabeth caught her, managing to guide her fall towards the couch. She had never seen Percy’s mom looking as frail as she did then. Annabeth knew then that it was time for her to go, time for her to leave Percy’s mother to mourn without a constant reminder of her dead son’s life.
“Mrs Jackson, I’ll go now.” She whispered and Sally nodded. As Annabeth reached the other side of the room and the entrance to the hall, she turned around. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t save him Ma’am.” The words hung in the air, Sally looked up at her and held judgment in that quiet second in the still apartment. Sally nodded once and Annabeth left; exiting stage right.
Annabeth tightened her coat around her body as a wind whipped through the metal canyons of New York. The rain was lashing against her skin and she felt the whips of cold sink through her skin right to her very bones. A particularly violent gust of wind blew rain into her eyes, blinding her briefly and causing her to trip over a broken piece of cement in the sidewalk. She fell heavily and the vibrations rattled through her skeleton. She was seriously considering just staying there on the ground till everything went away when the storm began to abate and a strong hand was extended into her line of sight.
“Here. Let me help you.” A solemn voice announced this offer of aid and Annabeth looked up to see Poseidon, storm-bringer, earth-shaker, standing over her. Dazed, she took his hand and he pulled her up with ease. There was a slight spark of humor in his eyes as Annabeth, shocked over his sudden appearance, stared at him as if he had just stated that in his spare time he liked to dance the Macarena. “Are you alright, Miss Chase?” he asked.
“Um. Er.” Annabeth shifted slightly and felt a tickling feeling enveloping her body. She looked down and saw that the water was steaming off of her. “Ye-yes sir. Thank you for helping me.” The grief took a back seat as all of her neurons started screaming 'Why is he here? What does he want?'.
“You’re welcome Miss Chase.” The spark of humor in his eyes faded as they stood opposite each other. The storm settled down. They remained silent.
They both spoke at the same time and stopped speaking almost immediately to share an embarrassed laugh which promptly faded as the guilt of happiness hit them. The silence grew again and Annabeth, hating the oppressive thickness of it, spoke first.
“Um, thanks again sir for helping me but I should probably be heading home. My Dad will be worried.” Annabeth shifted uncomfortably on her feet. “Um, so-” Poseidon cut her off before she could stumble out an awkward goodbye.
“I will accompany you Miss Chase. There are some things that I wish to discuss with you.” Annabeth nodded nervously and as Poseidon began to walk in the direction of her home, she fell into step beside him. Poseidon did not speak immediately and that left Annabeth to brood over their last meeting.
The last time they’d been alone together was over Percy’s cooling body.
The alley they had been in was only a few streets away from the ocean and Poseidon had come as quickly as possible. She remembered hearing his staccato footsteps as she had numbly held Percy’s body. He had come into the alley, filling it with his aura of sheer power which was tied into his sheer grief. He had crumpled to the ground on the other side of Percy and reaching in-between Annabeth’s shaking, shivering arms, he had closed Percy’s eyes.
That was when the reality of the situation had hit her. She heard this horrible, animal-like wail. It had reverberated off every dumpster, echoed off of every nook and cranny till it filled the whole alley with the pure, raw emotion she felt; emotion so powerful that it could not be named and tamed as so many of humanity’s greatest assets and their greatest flaws had been. Annabeth wasn’t sure as to when exactly she knew it was her making that noise, that howl, but she remembered that it had stopped when her Mother had picked her up like a small child and soothed her with calm words.
Annabeth had clung onto Athena, crying into her neck. It was the first time in the demigod’s memory that any adult had ever held her when in such a comforting, if vulnerable, position; Annabeth’s Dad, even though she loved him, had never been great at the comforting hold thing and her Stepmother had come along too late to try. (A small part of Annabeth regretted that it hadn’t been under better circumstances.) Still comforting her, her Mother had carried her from that alley in some nondescript warehouse district while Poseidon followed behind with Percy’s body.
Since then, since her Mother had carried her home and stayed holding onto her until Lord Zeus himself had had to call her back to Olympus (even then Mother had refused to move a single inch until Annabeth’s Dad was home and the accident was explained to him), she and Lord Poseidon had avoided coming into direct contact with each other. This was a harder task than usual as they both had helped Sally answer the questions of the police and prepare the funeral and wake.
However they had both successfully managed the task, so Annabeth was really at a loss to explain why he was here, why he wanted to talk to her. She felt a faint stab of annoyance at this lack of knowledge which she guiltily smothered; she shouldn’t be feeling anything other than grief. It was wrong to even contemplate her emotions changing from this state of pain and melancholy, even though logically she knew that she would have to move on eventually. But logic and emotion have never been bound together, Annabeth thought.
They walked on in silence. A dog barked across the street. Cars and taxis rushed past them, seeming to be moving in a different world to the one they inhabited. They turned the corner of the block and passed a school playground filled with screaming children.
“That was Percy’s first grade school.” Poseidon said quietly as they walked by. Annabeth looked at him in surprise. Poseidon, perhaps noting her look, carried on. “I have always kept watch on my son, Miss Chase. I always tried to protect him as best as I could without breaking the Ancient Laws.” Pedestrians parted around them, leaving a gap of at least three feet at all times. The ADHD part of her brain wished she had that power; she was always getting jostled by people when she walked in New York. “But what happened in the warehouse was random, unforeseeable and unstoppable. I couldn’t do anything Miss Chase, and you couldn’t have done anything either.” Annabeth inhaled sharply and her hands formed tight fists; her nails digging into her palm. They kept walking though. Annabeth dimly recognized the buildings, they were close to her home, but she kept her focus on the words of the god walking beside her. They reached her home a few minutes later and the door creaked open as they stopped in front of the porch steps. “It was not your fault Miss Chase. Remember that as you grieve.” She stood still in shock for a few moments before Poseidon gave her a light push and she was propelled up the steps. She turned to look at him. He nodded to her, just like he’d nodded to Paul back in the Jackson’s apartment and began to walk away.
“Sir! Wait a minute!” Annabeth called out quickly. Poseidon stopped and turned to look at her, a gleam of curiosity entering his eyes. “Thank you sir, but why are you helping me?” Poseidon smiled at her briefly, but it was untainted by grief.
“You love my son.”
Annabeth didn’t bother to argue about the tense with him.
AN: Okay, the time-line is different because I’ve shunted everything back a year. Percy and Annabeth’s first quest was when they were 11 not 12 and he saved the world on his 15th birthday not his 16th. There was another great prophecy but as of this moment in time, I’m not sure if I’ll act on it or not. Annabeth is 15 so I can add the Buffy time-line to her own personal time-line without too much trouble. Also, Annabeth’s family are back in New York for a time, her Dad got a new job in the Museum there; in fact, he got the job at about the same time as Annabeth was made Architect of Olympus…