Annabeth once told him she doubted he could dance if his life had depended on it. He had replied back, "Well, considering how often my life is in danger, that sounds like a weak bet." This was while they were at Sally and Paul's wedding, where he and Annabeth were eating the wedding cupcakes as his parents danced, and Annabeth had laughed and shoved his cupcake in his face.
He cursed her out in Ancient Greek, chased her around the yard until the Cha Cha Slide came on, and every time the wedding was brought up, he swore he could still smell the teal frosting coating a section of his nostrils. It was a great night, seeing his mom so happy, seeing Annabeth again, and Paul finally being in the family proper.
Not the point. The point was: The joke was on Annabeth. His life would be safe another day, he would be proud to announce. He had been taking classes on various types of dance. He was so going to sweep her off her feet, for all her insistence that daughters of Athena did not “swoon” for any pretty boy that came along. He said she called him pretty, and she threw a pillow at him.
Well, he’d sweep her off her feet if he survived suit shopping, that is. Percy scowled at the numbers scrawled on the tag, and looked up at his step-dad Paul, who was browsing some of the suit jackets. Paul was the one who dragged him here, rather than someplace cheaper with rental suits, or thrift suits, when he heard about Percy asking Annabeth to prom a few weeks ago.
(It was a great promposal. He and Leo worked together to get her, like, a mechanical puzzle she needed to solve to get to the question, and it was just the kind of challenge she needed. After the second war, she decided she wanted to finish revision on Olympus and had been blowing all her effort on that, along with homework. It all got repetitive and boring after a while. The day she solved it, she immediately went and found Percy, and they spent some time at his apartment. Relaxing. Not to give any details away or anything, but can Percy just say he loves topless Annabeth?)
"Are you sure we can afford this?" He asked, and Paul looked over at him, a grin crawling up his face.
"Sure! I know you guys have struggled by in the past, but my salary brings in quite a bit. Besides, every young man needs a good suit. I know you never got to wear these types of clothing when you were younger, so I just think that makes you even more deserving of it." Paul gave him a thumbs up, which Percy reluctantly followed.
“I mean, I guess. But it’s just, like, prom,” Percy tried again. Paul, again, waved his concerns off with all the grace Paul Blofis had (which, to be fair, was a great deal).
“You’ll wear the suit more than this. If we fit it properly after we buy one for you, you’ll probably wear it for a while. You have stopped growing, right?” Paul joked, and he rolled his eyes at his step-dad. “Anyways, if it lasts you a while, that’s good. I know you’ve got lots of friends coming of age, and hey, maybe you’ll even wear it for you and Annabeth’s wedding.”
Percy made a choking noise at the back of his throat. “No- I don’t- I’m-”
Paul just chuckled knowingly at Percy’s stammers and shook his head. “Alright, Perce. Nevermind.” He made a grumbling noise directed at him, at stuck his face closer to the suits to get away from the conversation. It was a welcome reprieve when Paul’s phone rang and he said, “Hello? Oh, hi Annabeth! Yeah, I’m with Percy right now, here, just let me hand the phone over.”
Percy had a phone of his own, but as it still attracted numbers when he used it, he often left it at home when he didn’t feel like sending a beacon out. “Hey babe, what’s up?”
“You two talk, I’ll buy you that suit, alright?” Paul whispered, and Percy nodded, sending a thumbs-up he took as his dismissal.
“Percy.” Annabeth sounded serious. That was always trouble. “I’m sorry to bother you and Paul, but can you send me your mom’s number? I don’t have her new one since she changed it.”
He almost wanted to laugh, he was just asking for his mom’s number? Regardless, he resisted. She sounded like somebody had died. “Yeah, sure, but I mean, why?”
She was silent for a few seconds before finally admitting, “Dress problems.”
“What? Is it that big of a deal?” Annabeth groaned from across the line.
“Percy,” she whisper-shouted intensely through the phone. “I don’t know anything about shopping for dresses, my mom is a god, me and my step-mom hate each other and are in different states, and Piper and Hazel don’t know anything about dress shopping either. I don’t even know how to search for the right bra. Please just call Sally for me. She’s the only one that really knows anything.”
“If you’re stressing that badly we don’t have to-” Percy tried gently, but she interrupted with an exasperated sigh, her go-to response to when he said something stupid, even from way back when they were kids.
“Don’t you dare say we don’t have to go, Perseus Jackson. If you do, I’m breaking up with you. You know I micromanage because it’s fun, so don’t even try.” There was a pause. “I’m just stressing because I never thought I’d be this beautiful, pretty prom girl princess, back at my parent’s house. And then when I was living at the camp, it was a surprise to live to eighteen, and a bigger surprise to do something normal like this. And that’s all I want, normal. Shopping for normal prom with normal mom with normal past performances of wearing normal dresses. I didn’t wear a dress for years. Circe’s Island, when we were, I dunno, thirteen? Fourteen? First time I wore a dress for an extended time without fear, ever. I mean, until the end, I guess. So you can see why I’m freaking out.”
Percy waited a few seconds, and then swallowed, nodding though she couldn’t see him. “Of course. I’ve never worn a suit before, and Paul keeps going on about how a good suit makes up a good young man, and I know he’s trying to be helpful, but, you know. I’ll get you her number asap.” There was a beat, and Percy grinned. “I can’t believe you threatened to break up with me. As we shop for prom clothing. What kind of crappy teen drama move would that be?”
“Don’t.” She groaned, but he could hear the amusement leaking through.
Percy cooed at her through the phone. “Aw, come on. You love me, you could never break up with me. Say it, say ‘I love you.’” In response, Annabeth hung up. Rude. He texted her his mom’s number anyway because that’s what you did when you loved someone.
“Alright Paul, we should probably get out of here. I think every monster within the next three miles just got the flare. By the way, mom’s likely not going to be home when we get back,” he called, and Paul gave him a thumbs up, apparently having bought the clothing items like he said he would.
As they hustled out, the two of them exchanged items as Paul explained, “We’ll have to come within a few days and get you fitted. So, what did Annabeth call about?”
“Oh, you know,” Percy drawled as he looked over the suit jacket, which was a lovely color of navy, just as he expected. “Just girl stuff.”
“Mom, I’m fine, I promise,” Percy said, squirming as she readjusted his tie for the fourth time in the past hour.
“C’mon Sally, it’s alright.” Paul supported Percy but didn’t do a thing to stop the assault, just sitting at the dining table, drinking his evening tea. “He looks good, and you’ve redone that tie so many times, it’s about to start a formal protest.”
Sally relented. “Sorry,” she cooed, not sounding very sorry at all. “It’s just, you look so grown up! You’ve always looked so grown up, even since you came back home when you were thirteen.” She cupped his cheek, and they smiled at each other. “And to think, Annabeth! You’ve known that girl just as long. I remember when you two would not admit a thing-!”
“Mo-o-om,” Percy groaned again, and she just laughed.
“Alright, fine, I’ll lay off. You have a corsage or something to give her?” Percy made a face.
“No, shit. Wait, actually, I think I didn’t buy one because the material gives her a rash or something like that.”
She slid into the seat next to Paul, wrapping an arm around his shoulders, and leaning against him with a yawn. Everyone was tired a lot, dealing with baby Estelle. “Language,” she chided.
They spent the next couple minutes in wait for Annabeth, who still lived at camp but went to a mortal school, and had the make the whole drive out, or convince Nico to shadow travel. Percy was in particular favor of shadow traveling because as much as it tired Nico, he was always pleased to see the kid.
That evening, in particular, was no different. Some time passed, and then there was a thudding noise from the living room, and Percy turned to greet the two with a grin. Nico, for all his past effort to melt into the darkness both figuratively and literally, always drew his attention first. Maybe it was a Big Three thing. Today, he had gone adventurous and was wearing an orange half-blood sweatshirt. He staggered over to the couch, and sat down and wait for the greeting he knew was coming.
Then, Percy’s gaze was drawn to Annabeth, steadying herself against the wall. She was good with shadow travel at this point, but she was wearing heels (heels!) which probably made things disorienting. And by the fucking gods.
When she caught him looking at her, she gave him a warm smile and waved him over. Her hair was brought into tighter curls than usual, with her eyes accented by a silver laurel wreath looking headband on top. Her dress was long, flowery, and she looked so much like a princess he thought his heart would burst.
Finally, he walked over to the pair and wrapped Annabeth in a tight hug. “Ms. Chase.” He pulled away grinning, and she sat down next to Nico, who was next in the Percy attack hugs. “Nico!” He cheered, and he rolled his eyes at Percy, but stood up anyways and let him drag him into a hug as well. “It’s good to see you, man!” He said when they separated. “You’ve finally hit a growth spurt!”
“I know, I know. It’s a shock to everyone. Last time I visited the underworld, I encountered Persephone eating breakfast-” he was so casual about it like this was normal. Well, by demigod standards, it was pretty typical. “-and when she saw me she almost freaked. But hey, I figure I’ve spent enough time in the past. The first step to get out? Grow taller than goddamn Percy Jackson.”
“Hey, c’mon. I’m still taller than you,” Percy protested.
Nico’s response was to smile all sly like he knew something Percy didn’t. “Not for much longer.” He clapped his hands together loudly, changing the topic. “Anyways, you two kid have fun. Make sure she’s home by midnight, don’t do anything you don’t want to be done to you, that whole spiel, yadda yadda. Now I need nutrients before I shadow travel back home.”
Percy grinned when he called camp home. It was good to see Nico finally finding a place to belong. “Alright, grandpa,” he replied, giving a mockingly lazy military salute, and Nico made an odd sound of protest. “I’ll treat her very gentlemanly like, right Annabeth?”
At her cue, she stood up and came over to him, where he latched onto her arm. “And when that fails, he’ll make an ass out of himself in a hopefully endearing way.” Percy rolled his eyes. Sally and Paul laughed from the table.
“Alright kids, I’ll drive the couple to the school,” Sally announced, standing up and grabbing the car keys. “It’s wonderful to see you again, Nico. If you want to eat before you travel back, there’s tons of leftover in the fridge. Everything from lasagna, to pizza, to crepes.”
“Alright. Thank you, Ms. Jackson.” Nico liked Sally, and Sally seemed to like ever one of the friends Percy brought home, even if she and Nico had first met in a bad situation (seeing his mom so heartbroken as she gave her blessing was not a good time). This resulted in respectfulness, which Nico didn’t often give out, not even to his dad. Percy considered this an accomplishment.
Sally laughed and opened the door, Annabeth and Percy following close behind. “It’s just Sally. And of course, Nico, dear. Any time. Alright kids, let's get out of here.”
When they shut the door, it was to the sounds of Nico and Paul awkwardly making small talk as Nico rooted through the fridge. Percy grinned brightly at Annabeth, and reached for her hand, squeezing tight. It was time to do this thing.
“Okay,” Percy started once they were in the car. “I have three people we’re meeting there. Their names are Emmett, Mike, and Kathy, and they’re my friends at school. They’re cool and you’ll love them, so don’t worry.”
“You have other friends?” Annabeth asked, her voice amused and her lips curling up into a sly grin, threatening even the teasing smile Leo gave everyone.
Percy made a face at her. “Of course I have other friends. Everybody loves me. Just look at camp, or the gods, or my past track record.” Annabeth snorted, and he laughed with her. “Okay, I can make friends occasionally. I was friends with Grover, even if it was his job to look out for me. Hm. Nevermind, bad example. Anyway! Friends. It's the outcasts, the geeks and freaks, that's us, because even in the mortal world, I'm Mr. Percy Jackson, and I got kidnapped when I was twelve,” he poked her side and she smiled lazily at him. “Not to mention I am tough, buff, have been kicked out of more schools than there are wonders of the world, and I have a lovely nonsensical tattoo. And, when we were in theater and messing around with the swords- fake ones, don't give me that look, Annie -I taught them how to actually use one. So now they want to know how I know how to use one. Everybody is kind of in awe, worried for, and scared of me. So I'm not exactly popular.”
“Point made, Percy,” she said with a little laugh, before frowning. “It's strange to think about at this point. Mortal friends. Not just mortals you have to protect. You think they'll like me?”
“Of course they will! Everyone with a working brain likes you. I promise, they will be all over you. Ooh, like when Nico wore that pink shirt out for the first time.”
“I swear,” she told him, shaking her head at him. “You all are so bad. You jumped that poor boy. And Will wouldn't stop laughing.”
Though they didn't like questing or demigod-ing, or any of that much anymore, they were still so tightly wound with the recent history and campers of Half-Blood, that they went back very often. Several meetings back, the monthly meetings consisting of the main warriors of the last great war (The Seven, Reyna, and Nico) that is, Nico had tentatively brought his boyfriend, an Apollo camper, and was seen wearing a shirt of brighter color than light gray. A truly marvelous accomplishment. Though the first time after the war, he and Nico’s interaction was awkward, Percy got over the shock of finding out Nico had a crush on him for years without Percy ever realizing, and they started building a much healthier relationship. Annabeth thought the kid was sweet when he wasn't pushing people away, even if the uneasiness she always had about him was crawling away at a snail's pace.
Percy rolled his eyes, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Don't lie, Annabeth. You were laughing too. Anyways, I've shown them pictures of you, and they've heard me talking to you and about you, so they sort of know who you are? But also, I don't think they really believe you're totally real? Lame, right?”
Annabeth ran a hand through her curls even though she probably shouldn't disturb them, and gripped the hand wrapped around her. “I don't talk about you much at my school. Nobody really likes me. Too “bossy” or something. Laugh it up when I say this, but I'm kind of difficult to get along with, especially with mortals. Not to mention, like, I thought once people get older, they're supposed to get less stupid and focused on hierarchy and shit. I haven't gone to a lot of mortal schooling, plus I have ADHD and dyslexia, plus I'm a know it all. So I'm kind of spending all my time studying or trying to catch up, or whatever. And sure, I'm smart and I'm keeping up, but I still get sort of mocked for having to take more time with tests or getting extensions on assignments.” It was stupid, and it makes her feel stupid, and Annabeth hated feeling stupid.
“Hey.” He looked over at her sharply, a scowl taking up most of the space on his features. It wasn't angry, at least not at her. It was just kind of sad, and protective. “Why's this the first I'm hearing of this?”
Annabeth bit the inside of her cheek, and shrugged, looking away from the intense look in his eyes. You'd think he's part puppy from the way he acted some of the time, but there were other times- sometimes big, sometimes small -that he got this look that was deadly serious, that made you feel like you were looking at a godly form, that made you remember he was at the very forefront of two wars, had bathed in the River Styx, had survived Tartarus, had been offered godhood (it very well could’ve been his real godly form if their situation was just a little different!). It was ridiculous, she thought, that he'd use it for something as small as this. They saved the world twice, it's not like a couple of means girls and lonely lunches should even bother her.
“Whatever,” she finally huffed. “It's not a big deal, I have like, a month and a half left and then I'm graduated and waiting for you, what with your head full of kelp and all.”
“Of course it's a big deal,” Percy told her gently, and she was glad his expression finally melted. “That's not right, Annie. You don't have to do it alone just because you don't want to be judged. It's cool. You can always ask me for help.”
Her eyes darted over to his, and he smiled at her, soft and warm and rough (and though two of those words contradicted each other, it was both soft and rough in nature), much like the sea in summer. She smiled back tentatively, and squeezed his hand, but didn't say much else for the next couple minutes of driving. They'd… they'd talk about it later. There was stuff she left out, like the group of girls actually attempting to bar her from the bathroom, or how people mocked the angry white scars riddling her, well, everywhere. She hadn’t told him because he had a small (okay, huguley obvious) hero complex, and it’s not like he could do anything unless he felt like getting arrested. It would be nice to have a hand to hold onto, though.
In the mirror, Annabeth could see Sally watching them. She gave Annabeth a sympathetic smile and a wink, and it was all Annabeth could do to resist rolling her eyes.
She had been to Percy’s school before, but it wasn’t frequent, and she hadn’t been in the gym before. It was pretty big. It was the one Paul worked at, which is how Percy managed to get in and stay in despite being trouble.
Percy led her, hand-in-hand, like a child wanting to get to some important piece in a museum. He waved ahead, and she could see a group of people wave back. Two boys, and a girl. One of the boys, we’ll say boy A, was short, shorter than Hazel finally landed at, had big glasses, and was wearing, oh gods, a tuxedo shirt. Percy was so getting thanks later that he didn’t do that. The second one, boy B, was more Nico’s height, but that was where the similarities ended. Point? He was wearing rainbow suspenders. The girl looked like she took style advice from Thalia Grace, and was even wearing army boots with the stars on them. She thought she loved them.
“Hey guys!” Percy exclaimed, coming up in front of them, and they opened the group up with warm smiles. “How are you? So this is my girlfriend, Annabeth,” he informed them, not giving them a chance to answer the first question.
“Hey,” she said, nodding to them. They nodded back. They were cool.
"Alrighty, introductions. So," Percy started, pointing at the first of the people in his group. Boy A. "This is Emmett. We're grade-behind buddies!"
Emmett punched his shoulder lightly. "At least you have an excuse of being missing for more than half a year. I'm just too stupid to function."
"Okay, but seriously dude, I'd be getting solid D's and F's if it weren't for my parents and Annabeth here. Anyways, the next guy is Mike, and that's his sister, Kathy." Annabeth smiled politely at her, offering a handshake, which she gingerly took. Percy just grinned. "Aw man, this is great. Hey, I totally told you guys I had a really hot and awesome girlfriend."
"Perce," Annabeth warned him quietly, but he just shrugged.
“It’s true, we did think you were fake for a while,” Mike piped up. “I mean, even with all the proof, it’s Percy, for Christ's sake. Sure, he’s got a swimmer bod, or whatever the hell girls are into, but he’s also a “bad boy” and not in a good way. In the juvenile delinquent way.”
“Duh,” Annabeth said, with a playful smile. “I only like to date someone if they’ve been arrested at least twice. Didn’t he tell you I’m a run-away and fellow juvenile delinquent?” They laughed good-naturedly, not knowing she was mostly serious.
“No, no way. You look like a princess, no way you’ve been arrested,” Emmett said, and she winked conspiratorially at him, which got them laughing again.
Percy rolled his eyes at them. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve been arrested, I’ve been to jail, I’m underage and have a tattoo, all the same jokes.” Annabeth patted his back gently in mock sympathy and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.
“You’ll live,” she said matter-of-factly, cupping his cheek, and he melted like he always did when she did that, grinning goofily at her.
Kathy wolf-whistled quietly, and Mike chortled. “PDA alert! I’m going to have to arrest you guys again for being too sickeningly sweet!”
“Shut up, Mike,” Percy said, and swatted for him, but Mike quickly dodged, and Annabeth tsked at him. He sighed, and watched her expectantly, waiting for her critique on his fighting stance with Mike.
“So slow you can’t even manage to nab one person? I only date people who win in fights. Very disappointing, Mr. Chase,” she informed him, grave, and Percy cocked an eyebrow. Annabeth looked at him smugly. “What? I’m going to make you take my name when we get married. Perseus Chase has a much better ring to it than Annabeth Jackson.”
Percy then went a very, very interesting shade of red, and if his smile managed to get any bigger, it sure did. “‘When’ we get married?” He paused, realized his friends were all staring at him, and cleared his throat. “Actually, nevermind. I’m going to get us some drinks.”
Mike looked impressed. Kathy wolf-whistled again. “I have never,” Emmett declared, “ever, seen Percy so flustered.” There was a beat, and he was offering his hand out for her to shake. “Welcome to the team, Miss Annabeth.”
Annabeth smiled like the cat who got the canary and gripped his hand firmly. “Pleasure’s all mine. And Perce? He’s actually pretty easy to break, once you know his tells. Either in humor or embarrassment. We’ve known each other for years, so hey, marriage is, well, inevitable at this point,” she informed them with a shy laugh. “But I do suppose the time I’ve known him puts me at an unfair advantage.”
“How long have you known him, then?” Kathy asked, raising an eyebrow. “Two teenage criminals, meetin’, falling in romance.”
“Well, it more started as two pubescent criminals, meeting, falling in romance. Percy and I met for the first time at a summer camp when we were twelve, and fate kind of pushed us together.” The literal fates, Annabeth wanted to add on, twisting the college ring on the necklace, which she was still adamant about wearing everywhere.
“Summer camp romance? How sweet,” Mike cooed, and she grinned at him. “So, when did you two actually get together? Because as much as I’d like to believe you fell madly in love and never stopped, but…”
Annabeth laughed, yeah, definitely not. “We first kissed when we were around, oh, fourteen? Fifteen? But we officially got together on the day of his sixteenth birthday.” Her mouth twisted into a frown. “After that, it was a few blissful months, around four? And then he disappeared for a while. A couple of months and nobody heard from him. That sucked.” They were silent for a few seconds, Annabeth remembering the sleepless, sad nights before they finally set sail and actually found him. Then she straightened up, breaking into a much more confident smile. “But it’s in the past. We found him, and we’re here.”
It’s clear they wanted to ask about the disappearance, as nobody outside of the Half-Blood team, both un- and official, really knew much about it, but it was right then Percy came back with the drinks. Great timing, that one. “I don’t think it’s spiked yet, but drink slowly in case,” he warned her, giving her her cup.
“Mhm. Thanks, Perce.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and conversation about Percy’s disappearance was put to rest for the night.
As much as the pair fretted about it beforehand, the night was nice. The air was buzzing with energy, the punch had in fact not been spiked yet, and Percy’s friends were fun. Despite the slight awkwardness that peppered the time, they all got along like a house on fire, Annabeth having more than enough experience integrating herself into a friend group, and even more experience integrating into a friend group with Percy involved.
They shouted along to songs, made fun of one another (“Oh kiss me, you animal!” Mike cried in a high falsetto, swooning into Emmett’s arms.
Percy cocked his head, looking at it one way, then another way. “Okay, you’re impersonating me and Annabeth, very funny,” he said, trying to sound dry, but his eyes sparkled in amusement.
“Incredibly funny,” she said, her lips twitching to follow in their gaiety. “Man, Mike, you do a great Percy impression.” He turned to her in a protest, but she carried on. “I mean, that’s seriously how high his voice gets sometimes. One time, we were at the pool, and I took off my shirt so I could get in, and Percy actually squeaked and said something in this Chipmunk voice about me and Aphrodite, and it would’ve been sweet if he hadn’t been talking about me and her’s boo-” Percy clasped a hand over her mouth before she could get out the rest of the sentence, but the damage was done. Mike laughed so hard, it took him a full minute to catch his breath), and they overall had a good time, for the start of it, at least.
After one of the pop songs, which Emmett and Kathy had gone out to jump around to, slowly faded out, Annabeth could feel the atmosphere shift, and somebody changed the color of the lights. A slow song, the first of the night, quietly came in. The two of the group came back, flushed and smiling. Not a couple, so they couldn’t exactly do a slow dance.
Annabeth shrugged. “Well, you still could, as friends, I suppose. But, I feel you, I’ve been to dances in the past, and the slow dances were always the weirdest for me. I mean, I didn’t dance them all that often, but when I did? It’s just swaying. What’s the point?”
Percy, standing next to her with an arm around her shoulder, hummed in response. He rocked gently to the music, though one of his legs was bouncing quick either out of boredom, or of a need to say something.
Couples were banding together and heading for the middle of the room, boys are trying to look for girls to ask, and girls waiting to be asked, like a match and a firecracker. Knowing how these things work, however, Percy figured there would only be a few that actually match up. Kathy was looking at him pointedly, having been hearing about the classes from him, so he sucked it up and cleared his throat.
“So, Annie,” he started, and she turned towards him, a curious sparkle in her eyes. She’s around the same height as him, but with the heels on, she’s a bit taller, so he had to incline his head. He’s glad Sally was tall and he inherited those genes, but he also kind of likes her being slightly taller. “Um, do you want to-”
“Excuse me?” A voice from next to them interrupted, and Percy sighed internally. Nevermind then.
“Yeah?” He turned to look at the person, a girl who looked like a sophomore- at most -who seemed to be wearing full-length gloves, stretching up her arms. She smiled at him, a full mouth grin, but he blinked, and it looked less like a grin, and more like a snarl. Her teeth were certainly sharp enough for it. He sighed internally yet again. Guess he’s gotta get this over with.
“Perseus Jackson?” It hissed curiously, and that made Annabeth catch on, and groan audibly. They were having such a good time. “Yes, it seems I am correct! The scent of sea lingers on you, even far within land. Ah, and Annabeth Chase, daughter of the wise Athena! My oh my, it is such a thrill to be within the presence of such accomplished heroes!”
“Can’t exactly share the feeling,” he muttered under his breath, before returning to a more normal volume. “Look, can we not do this right now? I’m sure you have something to prove or own up to, but we’re kind of busy with something right now, and I don’t really feel like dissolving you into a million pieces right now.”
“Of course, great hero.” The harpy reached for its gloves, slowly peeling them off as it talked. “No need to fret. The only one who will be breaking into a million pieces-” it grinned and flexed it’s now fully exposed hands, claws catching the light, “-will be you two.”
It’s that lovely sentiment, and then, the harpy launched.
In a quick moment that Annabeth could only take hold of due to the ADHD, Percy whipped out Riptide and swung it for the monster. It dodged quickly, and then seeing Annabeth, without a weapon currently in her hand, it grabbed for her.
She yelped in surprise and pain as it dug its claws into her, but this involuntary noise was covered up by mortals scrambling back in fear, a few shouting or screaming. Annabeth kneed it in the stomach, and then grabbed on tight to a handful of its feathers and yanked hard. The harpy squawked and loosened its grip, so she pulled harder, as Percy moved fast to grab something from one of the tables.
One more pull and she ripped several feathers out. The claws let go in entirety, so Annabeth jumped it and grabbed for its arms in hopes she could bind them and one of them could finally stab it, calling, “Percy, hurry up!”
She managed to sort of get a grip on its wrists, but it pulled hard, yanked its legs up, and brought them in a tumbling flip, with it mostly pinning Annabeth down at the end. She watched the harpy go for her throat with its claws, the experience happening in slow-motion almost, but Percy was there in an instant, smashing the still full punch bowl against its head.
The monster went down for a second, broken glass cascading down, accented by the punch exploding with it, Percy barely just controlling the liquid to go only for the harpy. A piece of glass grazed Annabeth’s cheek and almost certainly other places, while the harpy clawed a section down her leg, mostly stopped by the skirt, which it was ripping. Annabeth flipped it over, but was forced to stand when it pushed up.
She staggered for a moment, and one foot collapsed, so she assumed one heel is broken. Great. Annabeth did a quick look down, and- yep, her skirt definitely got ripped. The harpy didn’t dig too far into the flesh though, thankfully. It’s a rip even she could fix with her rudimentary sewing capabilities, and something Sally would be willing to fix up even better, but she was still kind of pissed. Meanwhile, the harpy attempted to attack Percy, swinging for his face.
“You asshole!” She shouted at it, pulling off her heels and running over closer. “This is my only dress!” In a fit of anger, and probably making her poster child of the week for ADHD impulsiveness, she chucked one of the heels as hard as she could at its head. To the surprise of everyone, including Annabeth, the heel hit its mark and made a loud thudding noise. The harpy stilled, mostly in surprise, and then began to round on Annabeth, momentarily distracted from her boyfriend.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Percy shouted, and lept on its back. It squawked, and flung backward, hitting the ground, and effectively knocking the breath out of Percy. Despite this, he still attempted to hold on tight to its arms so it couldn’t wail on him properly. “Annabeth, get it!”
She smiling broadly and maybe a little darkly, though it melted right back into exasperation and determination, and reached under her skirt to grab her knife, strapped to her thigh. Once she got a good grip on it, she lunged forwards and stabbed it in the head as it was scratching Percy’s collarbones. He winced, but did nothing much else to show his pain until the harpy completely dissolved.
Annabeth helped him up, and he groaned for a second before he realized they were still in the prom floor, and everyone was staring at them. “Um-” He stammered for a second, before standing up straighter, and attempting to properly control the mist. “Thanks for watching our great demonstration of the Greek style of fighting, courtesy of combined efforts of the Latin and Theatre class!”
He prayed it worked, and nothing happened to indicate either way that the mist and the mortals were responding the way he wanted for a few moments. Until, thank the gods, one person started hesitantly clapping, which got everyone else to. Percy grinned, and took a bow, with Annabeth quick to do the same, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
After they stopped clapping, the dance got started up again, and the two of them retook their place within Percy’s friend group. They watched them warily, but after Percy gave them a grin and a shrug, Emmett and Mike continued as normal. Kathy was the only one who looked at them with wide eyes, listening with them of the whispers coming from the chaperoning Theatre teacher apologizing for the demonstration “slipping my mind!”
“Did that- What just- Are you guys-” She whispered frantically to them before breaking into confused and distressed noises, and the two of them shared matching panicked looks with each other. Best? A mortal who could simply see through the mist, but hadn’t paid too much attention until now. Worst? A new, older, completely untrained demigod. The worst was pretty rare though, so they went with best.
“We’ll- er, I guess I’ll explain later, alright, Kathy?” Percy assured her, and she looked a little broken, so she just nodded quickly, and turned to her brother like nothing was wrong and her brain wasn’t splitting in half.
The music had become something faster, some pop song. Annabeth frowned because she was pretty sure Percy was asking her to slow dance before the monster attack, and then it changed into a scowl, because she realized she only had one heel in her hands, and it was broken, and she had no idea where the other one was. “Hey, Perce, do you know where my other shoe is?”
“Hm? Oh, no. I think it could be over th- fuck.” He quickly turned back to her, instead of wherever he had just been pointing. She looked over his shoulder, and- fuck. Yep, one of the chaperones was coming over that way. Maybe it was nothing?
Five minutes later, they were kicked out of Junior Prom, and Annabeth still had no idea where her right shoe was. To be fair, they did break the punch bowl. They perched together on the hood of Percy’s car, bemoaning their demigod status and the trouble it wrought. Since they were obviously not doing much else for the night, the adrenalin was starting to come down, and wounds were becoming apparent. She had a giant scratch on her arm from where the harpy got her, and she didn’t have any bandaids, but she did have a knife.
Percy watched her as she cut off of a section of her skirt, despite her complaining that the harpy had ripped it earlier, and wrapped it around the cut on her arm, cursing low under her breath. Percy went through his music selection on the phone which he, adamantly, shouldn’t have, and set it on a quiet shuffle next to them. The moonlight danced down, and he could still see and hear the music and lights from the school. Her hair was a little messed up from the fighting, and he could see the curls come loose from their hairspray prison. She was bleeding in several places, but she huffed and sat forwards once the biggest cut had been wrapped with a dress section.
Annabeth looked almost like a princess. The golden ringlets fit the bill, as did her dress and the silver crown-like headband that sat, mostly undisturbed on the top of her head. With the atmosphere of the distant lights, the moon, and the stars, he could’ve very well seen her as a princess. Frankly though? That wasn’t it.
Look a little closer, and you were privy to the fuzziness of her hairdo, the rips in the dress, the one missing high heel and the other sitting next to her, heel broken. You could see the way her gray eyes were distant and gray- not silver, or any other fancy term. The knife in her lap was a big indicator, and she definitely did not sit like a lady, whatever that outdated term meant. And the atmosphere? It wasn’t even that good. The night was chilly, the prom from a distance just reminded them that they couldn’t even act like normal mortals for even one night, and the music had landed on Beastie Boys. Percy didn’t feel like he had to explain how this was not romantic.
It was okay though. Maybe they couldn’t emulate “normal” normal, with prom queens and drama and getting fucked up on spiked punch. But at that point in their lives, it would be strange if anything went perfectly to plan. Their normal was warriors and danger and getting fucked up on the thrill of the kill (of monsters).
And sure, Annabeth didn’t look like a princess. But she looked like Annabeth, and that’s all Percy really wanted.
Rather than telling her any of this, as it was kind of sickeningly sappy, even for him, he stretched out with a grimace, his back popping in a loud protest. “Gods, fighting monsters in this get-up is so inconvenient.”
Annabeth huffed out a laugh. “Didn’t you get it fitted?”
“For wearing, Wise Girl. Not fighting in.” He pointed a finger at her, and she held up her hands in defense.
“Alright, ha. And your binder…?” She asked, and he blinked, looked down in confusion, and looked back up at her once he remembered.
“Oh. No, it’s good. I didn’t wear it at all until I got dressed for the thing. No more uncomfortable than the rest of the time. The harpy didn’t scratch my clothes up as much.” Annabeth wrinkled her nose at him, and he stuck his tongue out in response. “Man, maybe I’ll actually take summer classes so I can graduate mostly with the rest of the seniors, then we could head to New Rome together, where the surgery is free. Free! New Rome never fails to shock me.”
She smiled fondly at him and kicked his ankle gently before scooting closer to lean against him. “A real marvel of science and magic. I’m looking forward to that date, and then you’re going to be so loopy and needy. Finally, I can take care of you. Plus, you’ll be able to take your shirt off more when you work out.”
Percy grinned wolfishly at her. “I knew you had ulterior motives, Ms. Chase.”
Her face broke out into a matching expression. “Of course not. Just a perk, Mr. Jackson.”
He laughed, bright and loud, and then, they lapsed into a comfortable silence, listening as the songs on Percy’s phone ran through. It was a cool night, but just warm enough to be perfect. When the music changed again to some kind of electronic-sounding style, he glanced over at her, to find her frowning, watching the school.
“Hey,” he tried gently, and her head snapped up to him. “You okay, ‘Beth? What’s wrong?”
The corners of her mouth canted father down, and she leaned harder against him. “Nothing. I’m just annoyed we got kicked out of another school. You know, I’ve gotten suspended twice this year?”
“What? No, why?”
She twisted the ring on her necklace, looking down slightly. “You know, getting into fights with assholes at school. Once for fighting in something I was actually trying to stop, and once for stopping something I started.”
“Yeah, the girls at your school.” Percy squeezed her softly. “I get my fair share of bullies and suspensions too this year. You know you don’t deserve that crap, right? And I’m always here if you just want to vent?”
Annabeth nodded, and turned her head, bringing them into a small kiss. He kissed back gently, and she pulled away glowing. “Thanks, Perce. This night has been pretty good, all things considering.”
He tapped his chin to do said considering, and then laughed sharply. “Nope. No verdicts yet. I still have to do one last thing.” Percy jumped up off the hood, and she hesitantly mirrored him as he dusted his pants off, and quickly twirled to her, offering his hand. “Slow dance with me.”
She chuckled, and folded her arms, a single eyebrow raised, as she indicated at the phone. It was playing My Chemical Romance, which he didn’t know what she was complaining about. MCR was a great band to slow dance to. Still, he relented and switched the song.
“‘My Funny Valentine’ by Frank Sinatra. That, and its channel. Better?” Annabeth shrugged, as if to laugh and tell him ‘whos to say?’ Regardless, she grabbed his hand, and he pulled her in tight with a broad smile. “Alright, now waltz with me.”
“Is this a waltz song? Do you even know how to waltz?”
“Nah, it’s actually swing music. And, of course I know how to waltz. I’ve been taking a class, learning how to dance, prepping for this night. I wanted to impress you.” Her eyebrows climbed to her hairline, and her face heated up.
“Oh,” was all she had to say, watching their feet. Then, she looked back up at him. “I don’t actually know how to waltz.” Percy laughed quietly, and helped adjust her hands.
“Alright,” he said softly. “I’ll show you how to do this, okay? Just follow my lead.”
It was slow going, and she stepped on his feet a couple of times (this thankfully didn’t hurt as she wasn’t wearing shoes), but she managed to get the basics right, and soon enough, he and Annabeth were moving in a tentative 1-2-3-4 step, curling in a circle.
That’s what they were doing when Percy’s friends came after them. A little late, but they had to steal a bunch of cream puffs for them, as that’s what friends did for other friends. Mike grinned at their stumbling little dance, and immediately grabbed for Emmett and forced him to join with him, neither of them keeping to the slowness of the current song, or waltzing correctly. It seemed Mike mostly just wanted to dip Emmett. Kathy popped a cream puff into her mouth and watched them with a warm smile lighting up her face.
Percy watched Mike perform the dip, and grinned mischievously. He had the right idea. Annabeth had only a second to catch on and form the beginning syllable of “Percy, no!” before she was being dipped down, her head close to the ground and her gravity thrown off-kilter. He held onto her strong though, and she laughed brightly and breathlessly.
The night was gentle. Percy and Annabeth danced and laughed in the presence of kindred spirits, souls flickering as one. Prom night, schmom night. This was where the real magic was.