"Wait, wait, wait… you have how many cats?" I asked.
"Six," Nicole said with a broad smile. "Artemis, Apollo, Nike, Hera, Demeter, and Richard."
I frowned. "Okay, I was following the whole Greek thing, but you kind of lost me with the last one."
Nicole let out an irritated huff, as though Richard was a continual thorn in her side. "I know. I wanted to name him Heracles, but I got him with my ex-boyfriend and he said he was sick of our cats feeling like they were entitled to worship or whatever because they were named after gods. I kept Richard when he moved out and I've been thinking about changing his name, but I just think that would confuse him, don't you think? Imagine being called one thing for all your life, and then suddenly you have this new name, and even if it's more awesome than the last one I still don't want him to have like, a mid-life crisis or anything. Can you imagine if he went out and got a motorcycle- or a mohawk!"
She laughed, and Leo struggled to chuckle as well. He had lost her after 'Heracles'.
He had known this blind date was a bad idea as soon as Piper had set it up, but he had allowed himself to be coerced into it. "It'll be fun," she had said. "Nicole's great, you'll love her."
It wasn't that Nicole wasn't nice or anything. She just wasn't Leo's type. Everything she liked seemed to be the opposite of what Leo liked. She had six cats. Leo was a dog person. She'd insisted on going out for gourmet sushi. Leo couldn't stand seafood, and had been poking at a bowl of teriyaki chicken all night. It was just… awkward.
Nicole didn't seem to think so, though.
"This has been so great," she said with a smile as the waiter cleared their plates away and handed Leo the check. She showed all her gums when she smiled. Leo hummed a half-interested acknowledgement and glanced at the check, bracing himself. His stomach plummeted. Leo could hardly afford his rent each month, and this bill was massive. Nicole was obviously expecting him to pay, though, and Leo wanted to be a gentleman, so he took out his wallet and handed his credit card to the waiter, not making eye contact with the man that would be sapping his bank account. Oh, the pains of being poor and so pitiful people took it as their duty to try and set you up.
"So I was thinking we could go see a movie tomorrow," Nicole was saying, snapping Leo back into attention. "There's this new drama that I really wanted to see, and I would love to spend more time with you." All gums again. Leo felt his heart clench. He made it a rule of his to never lie to prospective dates, unless it was about his accomplishments. Or his personality. But it was morally acceptable to amp those things up to get a good impression.
"Listen, Nicole," he said with a sigh, "this has been a lot of fun." She nodded, unperturbed, a huge smile still on her face. "And you're a great girl. But I don't think… this," he motioned between us, "is going to work out."
He had tried to be as polite as possible, not wanting her to get too invested in a relationship he knew wouldn't work out, but her smile died immediately. She frowned.
"But… I thought we hit it off," she said.
"Yeah, no," Leo said, shaking his head. Realizing what he had said, he tried to recover quickly. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed talking to-"
It was too late. Nicole stood up, grabbed her iced tea, and threw it in his face. Leo sat there with his eyes closed as it dripped down his face and into his lap. When he opened his eyes again Nicole was gone, but the whole restaurant was staring at him. The waiter stood in front of him, holding out his credit card and looking alarmed.
Leo took it and offered him a weak smile. "Could I get a to-go box?"
"Don't you two have your own place?" Leo said, pacing back and forth in his living room. He was rubbing his hair with a towel, trying to sop up the iced tea.
"We wanted to see how your date went," Piper said, watching him. "We thought it would go well."
"Obviously we were a little over-optimistic," Jason said, snickering. Piper elbowed him in the ribs and then leaned more comfortably against his chest.
"I really thought you two would be good together," she said with a pout. Her hair was done in sloppy braids, but she and Jason still looked like a Stock photo lounging on his couch- like Superman and a super model. And then there was Leo, standing because they took up all the seats and still dripping iced tea from his curly, matted hair.
"She was psychotic!" he said. "Who chucks a drink at someone after the first date?"
"You probably upset her," Piper said. "I told you she was very sensitive."
"Yeah, well I like girls who aren't mentally unstable, thank you very much," he said. "Now could you two scootch over?"
They scooted so Piper was practically in Jason's lap, which neither of them seemed to mind. Leo squeezed into the corner of the couch, crossing his arms and glaring at the tv.
"Oh, cheer up, buddy," Jason said. "The right girl's still out there."
"I think my 'right girl' got lost or something," Leo muttered. "Maybe she's trapped in a ditch somewhere."
"Maybe you just need to rescue her," Piper said, a wistful expression so romantic it made Leo pucker his lips crossing her face.
"Like you rescued me," Jason murmured. They turned towards each other and touched noses, staring into each others' eyes, leaving Leo to stare at them in disbelief.
"Okay, what does that even mean?" Leo asked in exasperation. Piper and Jason sighed as though he had ruined the mood.
"You'll understand someday," Piper said, nodding at Jason. He grinned goofily at her. Leo couldn't take it anymore.
"Alright, get out," he said, getting to his feet. "I want to take a shower and hibernate for a while, so if you two could take your Romeo and Juliet, Spock and Kirk lovey-doveyness out of my apartment that would be appreciated."
Piper and Jason complained the whole way out of the room, but finally Leo managed to get the door shut and locked behind him. He leaned against it, sighing, and shut his eyes, exhausted. The last thing he needed was them rubbing their happily-ever-after in his face for the thousandth time right after he had dumped (been dumped? It was all kind of foggy at this point) on his first date in ages.
All he wanted to do now was scrub the Splenda sweetener out of his hair and marathon Doctor Who to get his mind off of things. Then, he got to wake up at six in the morning to get to work on time and get glared at by Calypso the whole day.
He groaned, sliding to the floor. When did his life get so depressing?
"Come on, I know this insanely awesome steakhouse only ten minutes from here, and afterwards we could go dancing. Think about it- you, me, a 16 oz. steak and a whole night of my smooth moves." Dr. Morgan beamed at her, his teeth literally sparkling under the harsh fluorescent bulbs. "What do you say?"
Calypso wiped her sweaty palms on her pants, nervous. He had never been this direct about asking her out before, and frankly she was out of practice with the whole dating scene. Him just asking her out made her feel claustrophobic and anxious.
"I told you, Dr. Morgan-"
"Dr. Morgan," she said, "while I'm flattered, I really don't feel comfortable dating a co-worker. You understand, don't you?"
"But I'm a surgeon. You're a nurse. We're perfect for each other." He smirked. "Besides, we don't even run into each other that often, it'll be fine."
"I was sent to give you this," I said, shoving a folder into his arms and withdrawing before I made prolonged contact. "Please, just… drop it, okay?"
He seemed to deflate a little, and then perked up again with a wink. "Alright, you can play hard to get- for now. I'll be here when you're ready."
He turned, already whistling as he started his work again. I looked at the ceiling, exasperated, and left without saying anything. Honestly, how that man had ever gotten through school, I have no clue.
I glanced up and down the hall for Cathy, wanting someone to complain to, but she was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, I set off down the hall towards the front desk.
Leo was there, of course, trying to build a tower out of paper clips. He looked up when I dropped my paperwork in the 'incoming' file, and a smirk slid across his face.
"Calypso, funny running into you here," he said, waggling his eyebrows.
"Haha," I muttered, not in the mood to argue right now. I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to get my thoughts straight, and Leo watched me, a frown on my face.
"You alright?" he asked.
"I'm fine. Just… stressed."
"Overworked?" he asked with a sympathetic nod. "I totally understand where you're coming from."
I snorted, surprising myself. I usually didn't snort, but it seemed that Leo dragged any and all exasperation I had out of me. "Like you do any real work. I saw you trying to staple your shirt to your desk the other day."
"That was an experiment," Leo pointed out. "And I do plenty of work here. Just this morning this guy came in and said- you're not going to believe this, but it actually happened- he was going on and on about how his chicken, who was angry because he hadn't let him watch the season finale of Dancing With the Stars last night, had stolen his shampoo and replaced it with battery acid, and he was worried that it was seeping through to his brain."
Calypso laughed nervously, a little worried about the outcome of this story. "And what'd you tell him?"
"Well, I told him-" Leo straightened himself up in his seat, jutting his chin into the air. He looked so tiny and was trying to seem so important Calypso had to repress a giggle. "'Sir,' I says, 'first of all, I commend you for your ability to raise a chicken in the middle of New York City. That takes extreme farming abilities I'm afraid much of society lacks today. I for one find it an impressive trait and we should encourage all of our children to look to you as an example of what the future should look like. But I'm afraid we can't help you with your foul fowl problem, as we aren't permitted to treat animal-related symptoms here. For that, you will need to go to the chicken hospital branch of the veterinarian.' And I was just messing with him but I swear to God he just tipped his top hat to me- did I mention he was wearing a top hat? The guy looked like he just came from a Charles Dickens fan convention or something, beard and everything- and spun right around and marched toward the doors. I'm convinced he would have gone to to the vet and demanded to be admitted into their hospital, too."
I started laughing, even though I probably shouldn't. I didn't have a lot of trouble believing him; weird stuff like that did happen in hospitals. I had never heard of someone handling it like Leo had, though. "You didn't actually let him leave, though, did you?"
"No,that redheaded nurse swooped by and intercepted him before he could get out the door. I wouldn't have really let him go, though, I thought he was just messing with me at first. I didn't think that sort of stuff actually happened in hospitals."
"You'll get used to it," I said, still laughing. "It's better than someone showing up dripping blood. That gets a little messy."
Leo laughed, then frowned. "Haha, you're joking, right? That stuff doesn't… that doesn't happen often, does it?"
I doubled over with giggles at his legitimately concerned expression. When I didn't respond respond for a while he chuckled worriedly, which only made me giggle harder.
"No, luckily for you most of that stuff happens on the emergency side of the hospital," I said. "You're just going to get visitors and common flus and the occasional Charles Dickens."
Leo sighed with relief. "Oh. Good. I don't like blood much."
"You don't like blood… yet you took a job at a hospital?" I asked, questioning his sanity yet again.
He shrugged. "I needed a job." He appraised me for a little bit, his lips twitching up in the corners. His dark eyes were lit up with that mischievous twinkle I had come to dread. "I didn't know you could actually laugh, Calypso."
I frowned, slightly insulted. "Of course I can laugh. I laugh around funny people."
"I'm plenty funny," Leo defended himself.
"Only at the expense of others," I said, "which I don't find quite as humorous as you do."
"You still aren't over that Mountain Dew incident, are you?" Leo said, rolling his eyes.
"I was afraid of soda cans for weeks!" I said, feeling my cheeks start to flush as they always did in confrontations.
"God, you just suck the fun out of every conversation, don't you? Do you have to be such a curmudgeon about everything?" Leo said, crossing his arms and looking like a scolded puppy.
"Do you have to be such a… a child?" I snatched a clipboard off the desk and marched away, trying to look like I had somewhere to go. I didn't turn around again, but he was probably making faces at me behind my back. As I marched down the hall, I looked at the clipboard I had grabbed and let out an incredulous laugh. Leo had doodled all over it in Sharpie, a detailed picture of himself on a horse fighting a dragon, while a horde of curvy princesses cheered him on. It was complete with his chicken scratch signature in the corner.
"He is an actual five year old," I muttered, dropping the ruined clipboard in the first trashcan I passed.
I ran into Cathy shortly afterward, who looked just as wound-up as I felt. "You'll never guessed what that receptionist kid did," she started complaining immediately. She recounted the story of the top hat guy, and I struggled to keep my face impartial. "The man was suffering from extreme stress, and he was going to let him just walk out!"
"He was just messing around," I said. "That's the way Leo is. He wouldn't have actually let him leave."
Cathy frowned. "Are you defending him?"
"I- no, of course not!" I said. "No, I'm just- you know, trying to be fair."
Cathy raised her eyebrows at me. I looked down and fingered the hem of my shirt, and when I looked back up she was grinning.
"Oh, God, please don't tell me you like him."
My eyes widened. "No! Cathy- ew, have you even seen him and me together? It's like the beginning of World War III whenever we're in the same room. Don't be silly."
"Alright, fine," she said with a grin, "I was just checking. You two do seem to spend a lot of time complaining about each other, though. And he's kind of cute, in that scrawny, elfish way, don't you think?"
"Cute? He's practically a child," I said, stopping to face her in the middle of the hall. "He spends his entire life goofing around and doesn't seem to care about anyone else's feelings but his own. If he ever wants an actual chance with anyone he needs to grow up and stop trying to get by on charm he doesn't even have."
Someone brushed past me- someone with a head of curly brown hair. But he was gone as quickly as he had come, leaving me staring down the hall after him.
Cathy whistled. "That was harsh."
"Do you think he heard that?" I asked, suddenly nervous.
"It looked like it," Cathy said, shaking her head. "Don't let him bother you, Calypso. I don't think he'll last that long here, after what I saw today."
She patted my shoulder and turned to go. I hesitated, then called her back. "Cathy? You don't think I'm a… a fun-sucker, do you?"
Cathy wrinkled her nose. "What does that mean?"
"Like, a curmudgeon," I explained. "Someone who… sucks the fun out of stuff?"
Cathy cocked her head to the side. "Who said that to you?" I just shrugged, and she came over and smiled supportively at me. "Of course not, Calypso. I wouldn't hang out with you if it wasn't fun, would I?"
I nodded and smiled weakly, and then I was alone in the hall. I tugged my shirt down, trying to smooth out the wrinkles in my blue uniform. I wished that Percy and I had one of our coffee dates coming up, but our last one had been only a couple of days ago.
I really wished I could talk to him.
A/N: Ehehe. Okay. Um.
Yes, It's been almost a year since I updated this fic. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to say much more aside from my life changed a lot and writing fanfiction didn't fit into it for a while. I want to get back into it a little bit though, so I'm going to try. I do appreciate all the reviews left in my absence, and all my continued readres. I love you all. 3
Please leave a review on what you thought of this chapter. I'm a little out of the swing of things but I do love this story. Let me know! I hope you all have an amazing day.