Authors' Note: The initial part of this was drafted sometime early October, after my sixth (or was it eighth? I forget) revision of Titans' Curse. With Christmas due in one day, I figured I might as well as type it in, and see if a decent climax will pop up from thin air. So here goes…
The saga of how Paul Blofis
met Percy Jackson
Apartment 256/B, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Fossil fuels burning all over the world had produced many, many climactic changes. Homeless polar bears, a mosquito population explosion in the tropics, the El Nino drifting hazily around Mexico; stuff like that. Winter in New York, though, was the same as ever. Grey skies, grey snow, grey streets and grey apartment buildings. The only splash of colour around was from a wreath, hung on the door of a solitary apartment.
Paul Blofis, part time actor and screenwriter-in-training, confidently rang the doorbell of Apartment 256/B. It was Christmas morning, and he had two hastily wrapped packages crammed into his bag. Note that there were two. Even so, he wasn't emotionally prepared for a teenage boy opening the door.
Sally had pictures of him all over the place. Paul knew the kid was fourteen, black-haired and into skateboarding. He also knew he'd been kicked out of seven schools in sevens years, and had once been the object of a nationwide manhunt. Sally still doted on the kid, which made sense, she being who she was. But Paul was somewhat more practical. He doubted he and the kid would ever get along.
That didn't mean he wasn't going to try.
Paul stared at the kid for about five seconds, getting his panicking inner self to control itself. Once his mental self had stopped hyperventilating, his body produced a bright smile.
"MOM! It's your friend." The kid yelled into the house. Then he turned back. "Mr Blofis, right?"
Paul detected a slight hint of an unspoken 'h' at the end of his last name. The brightness of the smile wavered somewhat as memories of school, college and wannabe pun pundits resurfaced. He really hated blowfish.
"You must be Perseus." You dish it out kid, you learn to take it.
A flicker of annoyance crossed his face. "Percy."
"And I'm Paul." Paul held out a hand. "Pleased to finally meet you." The kid took it unenthusiastically.
Sally came in at that point, managing to look divine in sweatpants, an apron and flour all over her nose. Paul noted the kid had patches of white on him too. That didn't really make him happy.
"Paul! I'm so glad you could make it!" Sally hugged him.
But that did.
"Merry Christmas." He wanted to accompany that with a kiss, but his diplomatic skills weren't quite that bad. "To you too, Percy."
"Merry Christmas." Percy muttered back.
"We were making cookies." Sally flicked flour off his coat. "Come on in."
The apartment looked like it always had, cluttered and cozy. Paul couldn't see anything different about it, but the feeling of comfort he generally felt when in here was absent. He guessed it had something to do with the eyes boring into the back of his head. He sat down at the familiar table, and met the kid face-on. There wasn't much of a difference. Intense green eyes staring out from an impassive face. The kid wasn't even scowling.
This was starting to creep him out.
"Percy." Sally must have noticed it. He detected the hint of a plea in her voice.
The kid sighed. "I'm fine with it." He said. "Can we get back to the cookies?"
"Not we. Me." Sally said firmly. "Half the dough's gone. You stay here and keep Mr. Blofis company."
"Paul." Paul said automatically. Blasted last name – that was sort of a pun, right? Blast, blow, balloon?
Sally Jackson strode purposefully into the kitchen, somehow ignoring the two "how-could-you-do-this-to-me" glares. The kitchen door closed.
Paul spent as much time as possible staring at all things except the kid. This was a very effective, but short-lived technique. Eventually, he had to look at the hurdle.
The problematic factor in his new relationship was staring at one of the walls, foot and hand tapping impatiently. There was a faint trace of Sally somewhere in the face, but everything else was alien. For starters, the moody look. The kid looked perfectly capable of blowing up a gymnasium. Which definitely wasn't Sally.
This was going to be hard.
"You like basketball, right?" Paul ventured bravely.
The kid looked at him, careful not to meet his eyes, and gave a non-committal shrug. "I s'pose."
"So, you play it?" Paul felt like kicking himself. Wonderful conversation they had here. At this rate, he'd know the boys' innermost secrets by tomorrow.
"Umm…yeah. When I can."
"How's school?" Paul tried again.
Paul toyed with asking what his favourite subject was, then gave up. He was always rubbish at small talk, anyway.
"Your mother's an amazing woman." Now where did that come from?
He looked up, slightly startled. "I know."
"I'd do almost anything to be around her." Paul said, still wondering where all of it was coming from. "She's- she's beautiful, she's sweet, she's funny, she's-"
"I know." Paul saw his lips twitch slightly.
Encouraged, he went on. "I saw her at the seminar and I was completely blown over. Then I got to know her a little, and it became worse."
He didn't say anything.
Paul took a deep breath. "I just want you to know that I'd never, ever do anything to hurt your mother. And I don't plan to give up on her either. So you'd better get used to having me around."
At this point, the logical part of Paul reminded him that he was talking to a troubled teenager about stalking his mother. Or something to that effect. So he was pretty thankful when Sally came in, gave him a concerned look, and set a tray of cookies on the table.
Paul avoided Percy's eyes, embarrassed he had said anything like that, and picked up a cookie. Halfway to his mouth, his hand paused.
Sally winced and looked at Percy. "Ah, well…I'd already added in the colour and-"
Percy cut her off. "It's Jackson family tradition." He told Paul. "Blue food. Long story."
"Oh." Paul carefully kept the cookie back. That worst thing he could do now was go barging into family tradition, however delicious it smelled.
"If you don't take one, it's your loss." Percy told him. "They're the best cookies around."
It took Paul a few moments to get what that signified. He glanced at Sally (who was beaming) and Percy (who looked like he wanted to cut his tongue out), and took a cookie.
And that is the story of how the nice, normal life of Paul S. Blofis became intertwined with zombie skeletons and lunatic Lords of Time.
End Note: So there you have it. It didn't really turn out like what I expected…it was supposed to be humour, mostly. Not Mush. But heck, it keeps with the spirit. Merry Christmas, all! And if you can spare some time, you know what to do.