It Takes Two
Percy is a suffering student of marine biology at NYU. Against his wishes, his cousin signs him up for a tutor, and he resigns himself to endless boredom...but the tutor he gets definitely isn't what he was expecting. Percabeth, AU
Chapter One: The Bliss of Blind Dates
"...You're kidding me."
My Stats professor focused his bulgy eyes on me, his unibrow digging down between them. "Mister Jackson, why on Earth would this be a kidding matter? You are two and a half points away from failing my statistics class, and frankly I can't see any way to pull your grade up but to get a perfect score on my exam."
Because that was totally gonna happen.
"Professor Stein, I really don't -"
He held up a gnarled hand. "I don't want to hear your arguments, Mister Jackson. Either you pass my exam or you will fail Statistics, and thus be unable to graduate. I am very sorry."
"...Thank you for telling me, Professor."
"Mm," he said in that nasally way of his. He looked down, fiddling with the papers on his desk with those knotted hands...and disgustingly long fingernails. Eugh. He glanced up and looked surprised to still see me there. "You may be on your way, Mister Jackson."
"...Thank you, sir."
"How could this happen!?"
I was raging in the peace (not really) of my dorm room, much to the amusement of my dorm mate. He smirked at me. "Maybe you are as dumb as you look," he suggested.
I hummed a coffee mug at his head.
"Crap! Jesus - "
Both of our heads swiveled around on our necks at the fake-excited yell. I rolled my eyes, barely holding back a grin. "...Hey, Thales."
"So what's all this about The Dude Upstairs?" she asked, bouncing into the room and throwing herself on Nico's bed. "Apparently you have some contact with him...which surprises me, because I'm almost sure you're going directly to Hell."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," he grumbled, flicking her between the eyes. "And no, I was about to curse because Percy hummed a fricking coffee mug at my head."
"Well," she said sensibly, yanking on a piece of his hair, "I'm sure that if you would be a sensitive, sensible, intelligent person for once in your life, no one would chuck anything at your head."
"Thank you," I stuck in. "And you're rather cheerful today. Back together with What's-his-name, are you?"
I narrowly dodged a pillow aimed at my head. "Yes, I am. And I've been going out with him since high school, Percy; I know you know his name."
"Yeah, so? I don't like him, Thalia. He just gives off...this bad vibe. Like...like..."
"He feels like a traitor," Nico put bluntly, which probably wasn't the wisest thing to do when sitting next to said person's girlfriend. "OW!"
Thalia rubbed her hand as Nico cowered on the opposite end of the bed. "Luke," she said, issuing a glare in my direction, "is not and never will be a traitor. He has never cheated on me - "
" 's far as you know...OW!"
"Do you have a goddamn deathwish, di Angelo? Huh? Is that it? 'Cause lemme tell you, I'm good at granting wishes..."
A little scream emerged from the bundle that was Nico, and he shuffled sideways until he plummeted to the floor. "...ow..."
Thalia rolled her bright blue eyes and tossed a messy, wavy strand of black hair over a shoulder. "Dear god, you two are stupid. Anyway. Why were you humming things at Nico's head, Perce? I'll admit it's a great way to pass the time, but you don't usually do it."
"He's just being Nico."
"That explains it...but what's to explain your less-the-sunshine-y mood, Messer. Jackson?"
I sighed, flopping down onto my mattress. "I'm gonna fail Stats, and if I fail..."
"...You can't graduate..." she finished. I saw a look pass across her face, and then she suddenly brightened up like a tiny sun. Shit.
"Oh, Pe-ercy!" she sang. Shit, shit, shit... "I've just had an absolutely wonderful idea..." she said, standing up and dancing over to my bed, where she attempted to pull me up. "D'you know that sign-up board in the main building right outside the office?"
"Yeah," I said, resisting her efforts and remaining a near-lifeless, gelatinous mass on the mattress.
"We-ell," she grinned, "there is also a sign up board for tutors."
I froze, my green eyes locking onto her blue ones in utter disbelief. "No. No way. Never, nunca, uh-uh, when it's a cold day in Hell. I refuse to be subjected to humiliation by some freaking nerdy Poindexter who wouldn't know the meaning of the words surfing, party, or date. NO."
She sighed and released my hands. "Look. You need the help to graduate, and if I graduate without you Mom will have a flying frenzy fit, and I think we all know how much fun those are."
On the floor, Nico shuddered in fear.
"So? I am not asking a tutor for help."
"Fine," she sighed, giving up on me. She walked to the door, tapping Nico with her foot. "I'll see you guys later," she promised (threatened?), giving a backward salute as she left, slamming the door behind her. A picture of Nico's mom fell off the wall.
He looked out of his little ball-o'-Nico (TM) and peered cautiously around the room. "Is she really gone?"
I would've laughed, but it was a legitimate fear. Nothing pleased Thalia more (well, okay, some things did, but she loved this a lot) than lying in wait around a corner for some poor, unsuspecting person (usually me) who thought that she had left. I swear, last time I thought Nico had wet himself...but it was only his soup.
I sighed, rolling into a sitting position. "C'mon, cuz. We have to get ready..."
"Why-y-y-y?" he whined, rolling around on the floor. "I'm tired."
"And I'm totally not. But really, we promised Grover we'd go on those blind dates with him at that fancy restaurant, remember?"
He groaned and got to his feet. "I hate Grover's blind date adventures. It always, always, turns out badly. Like, you remember that time with those upperclassman lacrosse players?"
"What, you mean the one where you ended up on a blind date with Bianca? No, not at all. Care to refresh my memory?"
"Oh shut up," he laughed, tossing a throw pillow halfheartedly at me. "C'mon. Shower time."
Okay, so we had showered, cleaned ourselves up, and looked relatively decent/respectable. Now to find Grover.
"What do you mean, they don't serve enchiladas here?!"
There he was.
"Hey, G-man," I called out to the frustrated-looking guy in a nice suit. He turned and his face lit up.
"Thank you guys so much for coming...did you know that they - "
"Don't serve enchiladas here?" I finished, grinning.
"Grover," Nico sighed, "It's a really high class restaurant. I think the chefs here consider enchilada a dirty word."
I snorted. "Yeah, along with burrito, flapjack, and cookie."
Grover moaned and buried his face in his hands. "Why?!"
Nico laughed and patted him on the back. "It'll be okay, Grover. As long as none of these chicks are ugly and none of them are my sister. If they're either of the above two, it'll be a very long night for you, my friend."
Grover shuddered briefly before turning to me. "Okay, I'm with some girl named Zoë, Nico, you're with...uh...Clarisse, that was it! And Percy, you're with...um...Annie Bell?"
"Annabeth," a smooth voice from behind him corrected. Turning, we saw a beautiful dark-haired girl in a silver dress, her eyes focused on Grover. "You're Grover Underwood, right?"
"Y-yeah," he gulped.
"Zoë Nightshade," she said, holding out her hand, presumably for Grover to kiss it. He shook it, pumping up and down violently. She blinked rapidly, a bit shell-shocked from the enthusiastic greeting. "Um...my friends, Clarisse and Annabeth, will be coming shortly...and...you are their dates, I presume?" she asked, turning an appraising dark eye on us.
Nico and I gulped and nodded simultaneously. She raised an eyebrow. "Who are you with tonight?" she asked Nico.
"Uh...Clarisse, was her name? Right, G-man?"
Grover nodded and said something that sounded like, "Gah."
"And you will be dating Annabeth," she continued, turning to me. "...I suppose you three are bearable enough."
...I think that was a compliment.
"Dammit, Annabeth, how the bloody hell is this my effing fault?!"
We all jumped at the loud, bellowing female voice, and Zoë let out a long-suffering sigh. "Here comes Clarisse."
Nico visibly paled, color draining away from his face.
He then blinked once - twice - three times at the source of the noise.
It was a beautifully slender girl, with wavy light-brown hair and athletically tanned skin. A scowl was set in her face, and she was shoving a cell phone back into her purse. "Hey, Zoë. Annabeth told us just to go in and sit, as apparently I left my straightener on her dress..." She descended into a fit of grumbling, punctuated with curses that would make a sailor blush.
Zoë rolled her eyes. "Clarisse," she said softly, taking her friend by the arm, "these are our dates. There's yours right there...um...what's your name?"
"Nico," he squeaked. "Nico di Angelo."
Clarisse raised a thin eyebrow at him but said nothing. She sort of drifted to his side to stand.
Grover actually began to speak: "So, um, maybe we should, uh, go on in, right? If - if Annabeth said to, then I guess - "
"Oh, stuff it already. Let's just go in," Clarisse said impatiently, pushing past Grover and Zoë and heading into the restaurant.
"You must excuse her," Zoë said softly. "She has all of her mother's looks and all of her father's temperament, which isn't exactly a good thing."
"Who was her father, a demon?" Nico hissed under his breath. Grover and I elbowed him simultaneously.
Zoe flipped her smooth dark hair over one shoulder, a regal expression set on her face. "Come," she said, "we had best go make sure Clarisse doesn't get into too much trouble."
How was it possible for someone so delicate to cause so much pain?
First, she ticked off the maître'd, causing us to get booted from the Reservations list. That meant we had to wait over an hour for a table. More than one time, Clarisse suggested leaving, but Zoë refused to let us go. Why, I have no idea.
After we were seated, she was rude to the waiter, which pretty much assured me that we would get our food spit in. Luckily, Zoë calmed him down with the promise of a large tip. (Which reminded me of exactly how little cash I had on my person.)
Then she began to work on Nico.
Now, let me say something about Nico. He's my cousin, and as such I know him very well. (It's a kind of tight-knit family. Sort of.) So I know his limits…and they are not to be tested. See, he can be a very sweet, kind person. He knows how to make polite conversation, he has a great sense of humor, and he's good at self-deprecation too. Great.
But he has an incredible temper.
It's very, very hard to make Nico angry. It's even harder to make Nico furious. But when you do, pray to whatever god you know that you can safely fly to, say, Thailand before he gets his hands on you, because when he does, it's payback time.
And it is safe to say that he can make life a living Hell.
Clarisse – darling little Clarisse – didn't know any of this. So she began to nag Nico about his suit, about his hair, about how his last name was the same as the last name of the top diamond store in the world (it was owned by his dad, my uncle). She began to nag him about his interests, his hobbies, his family, what he did in his free time…and when she knew all of that, the real torture began.
She began to tease him, even flat out insult him. I saw the warning signs, and I tried to signal to Grover to get the hell out of here, but it was too late.
"SHUT UP! YOU CAN GO TO HELL, FOR ALL I CARE! YOU ARE A COMPLETE BITCH, AND I HATE YOU!"
The entire restaurant fell silent. Clarisse looked blown away. Slowly, slowly, her cheeks flushed a dark crimson. Her eyes darkened, and she stood up, matching Nico in height.
"You listen to me, and you listen well. Now you've pissed me off, and when someone makes me mad I don't well forget it. You'll regret those words, Nico di Angelo."
And with that final threat, she stormed off. Nico followed briefly afterward, telling me that he'd be in the dorm. Zoë stood hastily and dashed after her friend, and Grover, love-struck fool that he was, followed. Why? I don't know.
As I prepared to leave, something occurred to me:
Who had stayed to wait for Annabeth?
Sighing, I made my way to the front of the restaurant, determined to do the right thing.
I waited outside for fifteen minutes before I saw anyone.
I was checking my phone for the time when I heard a clear, smooth voice.
I looked up and had to almost physically reach up to keep my jaw from dropping.
In front of me stood an absolutely beautiful, model-like woman. She wore a knee-length silky gray dress that swayed in a soft breeze. Her hair was like gold, falling in ringlets to her waist. It was hastily tied back in some sort of bun, and some bobby pins were stuck in for good measure.
God, please be Annabeth.
"Um, I was wondering if you had seen two girls, my age…one has dark hair, the other has light brown, and – "
"Zoë and Clarisse," I said. "So you must be Annabeth."
She nodded, smiling. "Great! So…uh…you're my date, right?"
"Yeah – uh, I'm Percy. Percy Jackson."
"Nice to meet you, Percy," she said, her gray eyes lighting up as she grinned, taking my hand in a small handshake. "So the others are inside?"
I winced. "About that…"
She sighed, rolling her eyes. "What did Clarisse do now?"
"She…well…it was kind of Nico's fault – he was her date – but in all fairness she goaded him first. He kind of…um…blew up at her over dinner…called her a bitch in front of the entire restaurant…and they all stormed out. I didn't want you to think we'd left you, so…"
She laughed sadly, shaking her head. "Story of my life."
She looked so sad that, just for a moment, I felt some of the obvious misery she was feeling. I sighed and the smiled at her. "…Listen. I don't exactly have enough on me for this place, but…do you like pizza?"
She looked up at me, her eyes happy again. She laughed. "Hell yes."
"And so then – I kid you not – this disgustingly huge burrito slaps me right in the face! I mean, I'm talking as big as, like, your torso! Dead serious!"
I was almost crying, I was laughing so hard.
Annabeth and I sat across from one another in a small pizza shop downtown. Half-eaten salads lay abandoned on the table as we sipped our drinks, waiting for our pizza. We were swapping classic food fight stories.
"I think," I said, chuckling, "that in terms of deadly projectiles, burritos are right up their next to heat-seeking missiles."(1)
"Oh yeah," she agreed, taking a sip from her Coke. "Do you have any idea how fast cheap beans in a burrito can dry on your face? I felt like I was wearing squishy Saran-wrap all over…I could barely breathe, and for the next two weeks everything smelled like beans." She shuddered. "To this day, I cannot, in good conscience, eat beans."
I laughed. "So like, no seven layer dip or anything? And I'm guessing Mexican food is a big no-no."
"Nunca," she said, giggling. She had gone for the first five minutes in the pizza parlor with her hair down, and then she had hissed in frustration. She had yanked out her ponytail holder and tied her gold curls up in a ponytail. A few little ringlets fell in front of her face.
We had made an abrupt pit stop at a Walgreens and bought some nice, normal clothes…and flip-flops. Especially for Annabeth, who swore her blisters would never stop bleeding.
"Here you guys go," the waitress said, lowering the pizza onto the table. "Half ham-and-pineapple, half anchovies, right?"
"Right-o," I replied. When she left, I turned to Annabeth. "Anchovies?"
"Pineapple?" she countered, raising an eyebrow. Then she shook her head, laughing. "Whatever." She looked down at her pizza and licked her lips. "He-ere, fishy fishy fishy!"
In between gusts of laughter, I thought that maybe Grover had, for once, done something right.
Alright! My first "real" story, PJO or otherwise. I know that the humor is practically nonexistant, but I'm trying to fix that. And chapters will be at least this length or longer (probably longer), but updates will be spaztic. Sometimes I just can't write, y'know? (Like right now.)
So, uh, like it said in the summary, this is an AU. This means "Alternate Universe". Thus, the parents who were gods are not gods. They are, instead, very rich businessmen. For example, Hades owns a chain of jewelery stores. Poseidon probably is in the ship business, and Zeus is more than likely founder of an airline. -shrugs-
So yeah. Um...that's about all for now. Please review or PM letting me know how you liked it, what needs to change...and any suggestions for future chapters would be great as well!
Thanks very much...