Epilogue - NICO Version
Author’s Note: Actually, there are two epilogues I've managed to create because of my super creative mind (lol). This is the alternative epilogue.
It's been ten years since the "Baby Theory" incident. Saying that Annabeth and I had completely forgotten about that would be a total lie. Yes, our lives may have been occupied with quests, sudden disappearances, crappy luck, new prophecies, pissed Immortals, raging wars, interrupted dates and – ugh – school, but somehow Annabeth and I always managed to even think about what had happened years ago and with Luke even for a brief second.
Speaking of Luke, my mouth formed into a crazy grin. I stuffed my hand into my jeans pocket and pulled out the worn, crumpled letter from ten years ago.
Remember when Aphrodite wrote: 'you might get a present from me, your godly parents, and some generous Olympians out there in the future. We know you'll immediately love it when you'll have it.'?
Well, she was actually talking about Luke.
Yes, it was the same Luke: untamable jet black curly hair, gray-green eyes and mostly inherited my physical structures. The only difference is that he's a complete human; no longer made of DNA samples and fluffy teddy bear.
Why, you ask?
Because he's my son – well, mine and Annabeth's – and this time, he was created physically and legally.
Ugh. Don't look at me like that. This is uncomfortable even for me.
Anyways, he's legally my son since Annabeth and I married two years ago. I know, I know, I still can't believe how I managed to live this long and proposed to my Wise Girl. And I still can't believe she actually said yes even though she's always been out of my league. Oh well, thank the gods for my once-in-a-lifetime-awesome luck.
Back to the main topic, our Luke had also been made out of pure love (please tell me you understand already so that I wouldn't have to explain this and give you 'The Talk'). So yeah, I guess that's all?
Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you that this Luke has Hera's blessing (under Aphrodite, Athena and Poseidon's pestering) and well, this totally makes him in the 'allowed-to-live-in-the-earth' zone.
I quietly closed the door behind me as I lightly tossed my keys on a coffee table nearby. I tried to walk quietly but alas, I was never made for complete stealth. I tripped because of the carpet and made a loud crashing noise as I fell down face-first. Great.So much for being quiet.
"Percy, is that you?" Annabeth called from the kitchen. I sighed as I made my way towards her.
I smiled when I saw Luke sitting on the high chair playing with his Finding Nemo stuffed toy that I bought; his empty bowl of baby food now completely forgotten. Annabeth's back was facing me since she was busy making our dinner. After sloppily kissing Luke on the forehead (and earned a loud giggle at that), I wrapped my arms around my wife and kissed her on the cheeks.
"Hey beautiful." I said, grinning widely.
"Yeah, yeah, welcome home. Now get off me so that I can finish this and we'll be able to eat dinner." Annabeth mumbled and I teasingly sucked the tender spot of her neck just to piss her off a bit.
"Percy." She warned.
I sighed in mock exasperation and finally released my hold on her waist. I wasn't angry when she told me to get off her; I already know that I can successfully distract her when I wanted to. The last time this happened was over a few months back.
I kind of kissed her the same way I did awhile ago, only that last time Annabeth had responded rather enthusiastically. So yeah, it led into a series of events that involved a bit of undressing and making embarrassing noises, and it was until Luke cried from upstairs that we scurried to fix ourselves.
We ended up ordering pizza instead after Annabeth finished feeding Luke. Since that, she forbade me to kiss her while she's cooking because 'I am very distracting'; well, unless I have enough money to take her out for an expensive dinner date.
Speaking of dinner dates, we hadn't had those since Luke was born. Hmm. Maybe I can ask one of our friends to babysit Luke for one night; after all, he's over 10 months old now and still very smart for his age. Not to mention he had said his first word two weeks ago.
Neither of us won the bet regarding his first word. Annabeth betted on the 'mama' word while I of course, betted on 'dada'. Sadly though, Luke's first word was 'Nemo'; yes, the same plush toy he currently possesses. Oh well.
Somewhere along my train of thoughts, Luke managed to get a hold of my phone on the table and started tapping on the screen. I quickly snatched it from his salivated fingers and handed his owl plush toy.
Now that Luke's busy smashing Nemo and Aw's (his pronunciation of 'owl') faces, I swiped my phone and made a quick text to our friends.
"Who're you texting?" Annabeth asked as she placed the large bowl of blue spaghetti on the table.
"A potential babysitter." I said as I placed my phone and filled a large serving of the food on my plate.
Her brows scrunched up together at my vague answer. "I don't think we need a babysitter, Seaweed Brain. What else would be the reason why I decided to become a stay-home architect-slash-mother?"
I smirked cockily. "Well, I haven't taken you out for a date in a long time now, have I? Don't worry, I just texted some of our friends who're willing and free on Friday night."
"Isn't that tomorrow?" She queried again after swallowing her spaghetti. "Wouldn't they be pissed at the short notice?"
"Don't worry, Wise Girl. I'm sure there'll be someone who'd agree since they love Luke after all."
"Why the Hades did I agree again? Oh, that's right! I didn't." Was Nico's greeting when I opened the door of our awesome house.
"C'mon man, I'm asking you a favor. Everybody's too busy and Annabeth doesn't trust Leo to babysit Luke after he gave him an exploding baseball set in celebration of his first word. Plus, you're the only one who didn't have any plans."
"By that, I'm sure you meant 'I'm the only one who doesn't have a love life at the moment.'"
"Yeah, that too. Anyways this'll be just for tonight. Please, Nico!"
Nico sighed in exasperation. "Yeah yeah, whatever, I'm already here so I might as well do it."
"Thanks!" I gave him a light slap on the back. He grimaced and glared at me. Oops. Annabeth suddenly appeared beside me wearing a stunning green dress with Luke in her arms.
"Ah, Nico! Thanks for babysitting Luke for tonight; we totally owe you for this." She said as she handed Luke to him and gave a hug.
"There's an emergency nectar and ambrosia supply on the kitchen cupboards. Emergency weapons are under the coffee table, behind the giant photo of everyone at camp, and on the table drawers in the kitchen. Luke's already fed and diaper-changed so all you have to do is keep him safe until we come home. And lastly, call us when you need anything."
"Okay, got it, Annabeth. You two have fun on the date."
"Cool. See you guys and thanks again." I said as I gave Nico a fist bump. I ruffled Luke's messy curly locks and grabbed my wife's hand. "Let's go."
"Be good to Nico, baby. Mommy and Daddy will be back later at nine."
Luke only nodded in response as he and Nico watched us walk towards the car.
"Okay, now that they're gone, what shall we do kiddo?"
The kid only pointed his hand towards the TV and I immediately understood. Can normal ten-month infants understand adults as well as this one?
I settled him on the couch and pried his tight grip on my leather jacket. We wrestled for a bit on that because unfortunately, he inherited both Percy's strength and Annabeth's stubbornness. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be the most powerful child of two demigods in his generation.
After a few minutes of struggling, I finally managed to loosen his grip on my jacket. It came out much crinkled than I imagined but I just sighed and forgave him since he's still a baby after all. I grabbed the remote and surfed through the channels.
"Do you want to watch horror shows? Or do you prefer movies with a lot of action and killing or death?"
The kid gave me blank, hard stare which eerily looks like Annabeth. If she were here, she'd probably give me a lecture of how Luke's too young to watch blah blahblah and go on for an hour and Percy would probably hide in the kitchen and laugh his ass out at my expense.
"Ugh, let's just watch Finding Nemo." I said after I saw the DVD case full of family-oriented movies. Percy must've been the one buying all those since most of the movies were sea-related.
"Nemo!Nemo!" Luke clapped his hands and his gray-green eyes sparkled in excitement. The sight actually made me smile for a bit.
I admit the movie's not really that bad, but it still isn't my type to watch. The only reason why I forced myself to watch is because the kid is enjoying himself.
Suddenly, I heard a crash coming from the Jacksons' front lawn. I tensed and silently crept my way to peek by the window; Luke's attention was still on the movie. I couldn't see the culprit's face since it is dark and that's what made me yell in shock when a face suddenly appeared on the window.
Luke cried, probably shocked as well because of my scream, and I hurriedly lifted him to calm him down; the face on the window temporarily forgotten.
When he's finally reduced to quiet sniffs, I quietly approached the window again with my Stygian sword in hand and the kid held securely with my other arm. This time, the door banged open.
Luke hurriedly buried his face on my jacket and purposefully stopped shifting. I readied my sword and looked around in case of incoming sudden attacks.
To my utter relief and irritation, the culprit finally showed itself and revealed the large drooling tongue of Mrs. O'Leary. She wagged her tail happily that earned a bit of shaking on the ground.
"Whoa, down girl! We don't want to risk the neighbors finding out."
Thankfully, Mrs. O'Leary calmed down and just settled on creating a large puddle of drool by the window. Luke shifted in my arms and it was right then and there that I remembered him. Not a good thing, if you ask me.
"Hey, Luke kiddo, it's okay. It's just Mrs. O'Leary, your daddy's pet hellhound. Say hi to her now."
Luke hesitatingly craned his body to meet Mrs. O'Leary. He must've seen worse since he only tilted his curious head and then waved his hand tentatively in what seemed like a greeting.
The hellhound pushed her face further on the window that ended up looking like a pancake. It wasn't a very good thing to look at, trust me. But somehow, like I said earlier, the kid probably had worse since he started laughing and clapping his hands in glee.
He then started leaning towards the window, a sure sign that he wants to touch her, but I'm not really sure if Percy and Annabeth appreciates seeing their house partially destroyed when they got home from their date. So I did what was natural for me: I took him outside the house.
I admit I'm very much impressed at the fact that hellhounds don't scare this little Jackson. As soon as Luke saw Mrs. O'Leary's actual appearance, he merely squealed and tugged at my jacket, urging me to go faster. Gods, this kid clearly inherited Annabeth's bossy attitude.
We ended up sitting on the perfectly mowed backyard of the Jacksons' home that faced the view of the sea (of course). Luke crawled and played with Mrs. O'Leary and even tried to teach her some basic tricks. I doubt that the last part's effective since he can barely form coherent words himself.
"Boo. Doggy boo!"
Mrs. O'Leary just wagged her tail, unsure of what do to from the unrecognizable command. Luke on the other hand, seemed to accept it and just went on with the flow. Geez, he's like Percy at the moment. He's a spawn of those two after all.
Suddenly, Mrs. O'Leary tensed and sniffed around the area. Sensing danger, I quickly stood up from my brooding spot and pulled my trusty Stygian sword. After a few minutes of tense silence, I finally heard hissing. A collective hissing made from at least four empousai.
I let out a string of muffled curses as I turn to Luke and Mrs. O'Leary. I can't fight them all here, in this kind of environment where a lot of mortals could get hurt, and I probably wouldn't be able to assure Luke's safety if I did try to fight them back. Asking the couple's help is also out of the question since I honestly wanted them to have a good time alone at least for today.
I lifted Luke from the ground and settled him on the hellhound's back with me following suit. I summoned some skeletons to buy us some time for escaping.
"Mrs. O'Leary, let's shadow travel."
We arrived at the Underworld not long after. I immediately dismissed whatever gloomy thoughts I had (which is a feat for me) regarding the consequences I'll be facing when the most powerful demigod couple of this generation ever finds out about this whole thing.
I went to my usual brooding face as I carried Luke and decided to just give him a quick tour of the place. I encountered a loud of squealing spirits of teenage girls saying that I'm handsome and cool or that the kid's impossibly adorable (I remember Annabeth telling me that they're called fangirls) and I even ran for my life when they started pursuing us. Thankfully, Mrs. O'Leary chased them out.
I went to Elysium and talked to the real Luke again. This time, the son of Hermes got a chance to meet the actual son of Annabeth and Percy. The kid surprised us again when he merely smiled after seeing a spirit.
"Oh, he has Annabeth's smarts and more of Percy's physical appearance." Luke Castellan commented after a few minutes of staring at him intently. Kiddo made a grab-me gesture towards him in which I shook my head at.
"Sorry kiddo, but he can't hold you, let alone touch you. He's a spirit; he can't hold solid things even if he wanted to."
After that depressing thought, we somehow stayed and Luke (Castellan) tried his best to give the child a proper pat on the head. Though it failed every time since his hands just passes through, the kid made up for it by giving the infamous Jackson grin to which the son of Hermes returned.
Somewhere along our conversation, the kiddo managed to utter 'Nico' and 'Wuke' which earned genuine smiles from both of us. Mrs. O'Leary walked a few minutes later and I immediately knew it was time to say goodbye.
"Hey, man. Thanks for keeping me company and for introducing Luke Perseus Jackson. Tell Annabeth and Percy once again that I appreciate their dedication of naming him after me. And do tell Annabeth that I miss her and I wanted to at least see my 'sister' even for a while."
Feeling a bit sorry for him, I nodded my head and gave him a firm handshake and fist bump (as a son of Hades I can touch the souls of the dead).
"Bye bye." Kiddo said after I settled him again on Mrs. O'Leary's back. Luke said nothing and just waved his hand as we started shadow-travelling again.
Thankfully, the empousai weren't there anymore when we arrived back at the Jackson residence. They must've gone away when our scent completely faded. I glanced at Luke only to find him peacefully sleeping in my arms. I let Mrs. O'Leary sleep on the backyard lawn as I trudged my way inside.
Glancing at the wall clock, I was a bit surprised that it was five minutes before nine. That means we've been in the Underworld for three hours, give and take.
I've just settled Luke comfortably on the couch when the front door creaked open. Percy and Annabeth entered with smiles on their faces.
"Wow, you're really good at babysitting, Nico! You've managed to get him in one piece! You could totally start a babysitting career." Percy said as he laughed at the idea.
Annabeth elbowed him hard on the side after noticing my glare. "Shut up Seaweed Brain. We should be thankful that Nico helped us out. Was there any trouble, Nico?"
I smiled slightly at her worried tone. "It was nothing I couldn't handle."
Percy grinned again as Annabeth walked towards the couch and lifted the sleeping Luke. "You went to the Underworld, didn't you?"
I stood frozen momentarily in place. How did she know? Is this what Percy meant when he said 'sometimes I feel like my wife has eyes everywhere because she'll always know even when nobody says anything'?
But instead of panicking, I stuffed my hands to my jeans pocket and raised my brows at her. Annabeth rolled her eyes, clearly exasperated and continued to clarify things.
"I noticed Mrs. O'Leary's at the backyard sleeping."
"Wait, what? She is?" Percy asked as he made a mad dash outside. He came back seconds later with a baffled expression. "How did you-"
"Know she was there? Simple. The ground's shaking because of her wagging tail. And she's only really tired when she does shadow-travelling for a long period of time. So, I just put all things together and then I knew."
Percy was looking at her in awe. "Gods, how did I end up marrying you again?"
Annabeth grinned at him. "By sheer luck, of course."
Before the infamous PDA-loving couple could start acting like obnoxious teenagers again, I cleared my throat and readjusted my leather jacket. "I'll be going now."
I was about to walk when Percy gripped my shoulder firmly. "Not so fast, Death Breath. We still need an explanation why you took my son at the Underworld."
I sighed and quickly told them everything as well as Luke Castellan's request. After doing so, the couple seemed relax and accepted everything.
"Thanks, Nico. You really are the best cousin one could ever ask for. But don't tell Jason and Thalia that I said that." Percy said quickly before I could even open my mouth to tease him.
Annabeth stood and gave me a half-hug (Luke was in her other arm). "Thank you again, Nico. I'll take Luke back to his room now and Percy will pay you for the babysitting tonight."
"Here you go." Percy shoved me a couple of hundred dollar bills. I stare at him incredulously as he just whistled and joined me outside.
"I've been promoted and Annabeth would kill me if I'll give you less than that, so no worries dude."
I felt embarrassed, which was so totally not like me, and I protested at the ridiculously large amount of tip. "Fish Breath, this is like, fifty times the rate of an actual babysitting fee! Why are you giving me so much?!"
My idiotic cousin merely shrugged. "I won't accept even if you try to give them back, Nico. You should be thankful that that isn't the actual amount Annabeth and I agreed upon. I figured you wouldn't accept at all if we give you a thousand dollars as payment."
"A thousand? Just how much do you guys earn every year anyway?" I mumbled to myself and begrudgingly pocketed the wad of cash. I ignored the smug look Percy sent me.
We arrived at their backyard with Mrs. O'Leary already awake. I watched (and laughed) as she tackled Percy and gave him a disgusting lick on the face that earned a loud groan. When she bounced back to me, I gave Percy a handshake then a slap on his arm.
"I'll see you guys around, then."
"Yeah. We'll call you when we need another babysitting job, okay?"
"Whatever. Don't pay me next time; I still owe you a lot from this."
He shrugged. "I'll talk to Annabeth about that. But anyways, thanks again for the millionth time."
"'Kay. Tell Annabeth thanks." I purposefully left him out since he knows anyways.
"Will do. And you're welcome." See what I mean?
Percy stuffed his hands into his pocket as I turned around to start shadow travelling back home with the hell hound behind me.
What a day. Hmm, maybe I'll do this again after all.
A/N: And there you have it folks, the alternative epilogue
of The Baby Theory! The curtains have closed.