The scarlet liquid oozed steadily into the glass, almost like blood. It's sweet, thick smell invaded my nostrils and I was close to believing it was actually blood.
Except not. If you take away the l and swap the d for a ze, it spells booze.
I wasn't drunk, really. Only had a couple of shots.
Maybe five or six.
Oh yeah, that's right. I had eighty-three.
But it doesn't matter. Being a child of Poseidon gave you a high tolerance of alcohol. I could dump three bottles of vodka down my stomach and only feel a bit tipsy. And I didn't get hangovers.
All that mattered was that she would stay as young and as beautiful as ever, a flower forever in full bloom, watching me grow old and shrivel up and die.
And her archery skills would also be better than mine.
The rim felt oddly cold against my tongue, almost icily foreign as I tipped the glass over my throat. Had I not done it so many times previously, I would have started to scream. It was like a blade was hanging over my throat. A sharp one; too sharp. I was afraid to make a sound. Scared of uttering a single phrase. If my speech slipped through, I would be defiled, killed even. I was petrified.
Terrified that, in the silent wind, her voice would come and haunt me again.
How could I let her go like that?
I hate those stupid Hunters.
And Zoë, too. For dying. If she hadn't just died, well...
Things would be different.
She wouldn't have felt so much remorse, wouldn't have jumped out on the closest ride to eternal virginity, wouldn't have left me for good…
I was scared to touch her. If I did, I would surely die. Artemis was not forgiving, no matter how she appeared. And she had power too, the power to send me stalking the Fields of Asphodel.
Maybe even Tartarus.
It started to rain outside.
My hand reached for the phone.
"…Oh, hi…Annabeth," I yawned. Rolled over in bed. Trust the girl to be the only sane person up at six in the morning. The birds were barely awake and chirping.
"Listen, do you want to go get some coffee?" She never gave up. No matter how I told her we were best friends, she would look me in the eye, and try to make me "loosen up".
I wanted to strangle her. I wanted to shout at her, I don't love you! How many times must I tell you? I love her! Not you!
But I couldn't tell her. She should never know.
Even if I did, would she listen?
She would always think I have a crush on her. I suppose the way I act uncomfortably around her would make her think otherwise; justify her "suspicions".
And that good-for-nothing goddess of love. I try to keep a clear head around her, but that crap love magic she's infused on every stable-minded gentleman gets to me all the time. I think she enjoys putting people into trances. Sick and twisted bitch.
"Don't you think it's a bit, um, early, Annabeth?" I stare at the clock.
"Percy! It's already six-thirty!"
What's that supposed to mean?
I relent. "Well, okay then, if we make it quick. Maybe the monsters won't be up yet, either. I've had enough of those hydra heads for one day."
She laughed. I could almost see the image of her sitting with her black cell phone clasped to her blond hair, her mouth slightly open as she chuckled.
"You're cute," she giggles as I grimace, "I'll meet you at The Coffee Bean in a quarter of an hour. Window booth. Try not to get mugged on the way." There goes her demeaning side now. At least she's behaving like my friend Annabeth again, instead of the disgusting love-sick Annabeth.
"'Kay, bye," I hang up.
Poor girl. She doesn't even know what love-sick means.
But I do.
And suddenly I'm clutching the bed sheets, sucking noisily for breath, my heart rate accelerating several times past its regular beat, my vision foggy and my wind-pipe blocked with no oxygen. My body starts twitching uncontrollably on the bed, sweat spilling out of pores, hands swiping for my new friends, the pills.
No, I'm not a drug addict.
I've just been experimenting with methods of healing heartache.
It's been getting to me real bad. Ever since Thalia left me.
Half an hour later, I arrive at The Coffee Bean. It's just opened up for shop, but Annabeth was already seated at a booth, glaring at me.
"You're late," she snapped.
"The shop's just opened!" I protested, and quickly slid into the brown and orange booth directly across from the girl.
Annabeth had chosen a rather discreet café. The only living people in the too-cheerily-decorated room were her and me, and a rather glassy-eyed busboy, who had been rubbing the same tabletop for the last few minutes. The old latte machine in the back was rumbling like a storm cloud.
Like I said, discreet.
Or maybe it was just too early in the morning.
I yawned, "So, what's up?"
Annabeth called the counter-rubbing girl over and ordered two French roasts. She pushed her hair back behind her ears, "Well, Percy…"
I knew what was coming.
"You seem kinda, you know, depressed, nowadays…ever since we both tried to hold the sky up and bear Atlas' curse ten years ago…you're so angry with yourself all the time. You don't talk with me anymore. You're so…so isolated from the rest of us."
If only she knew.
"And I know I've told you this a couple hundred times already, but," She bit her lip, and smiled at me, "I'm hear to listen to your troubles. Percy, if you need help with anything, just ask, okay?"
I look up at her, "Annabeth, I…"
She seemed to perk up suddenly at these words, gazing at me with a sudden fire burning in her eyes, "you…what?"
"I…I…" The words were stuck in my mouth, unwilling to come out. What should I say? Should I lie to make my best friend feel better, tell her that I love her? Or should I break her mercilessly, and tell her that I've loved Thalia all along?
The moment of truth.
Annabeth leaned forward, eager to hear the end of the sentence.
I take a deep breath.
I couldn't lie.
"I miss Thalia."
She seemed to deflate in front of me.
I continued, "I didn't realize it, but I really loved her, Annabeth. Now she's gone and I miss her so much."
There was silence. The breeze outside blew a discarded piece of newspaper into an upturned trash can.
Annabeth seemed to shudder. She was in an obvious state of shock. Her lips trembled, but she held her head up.
The coffee arrived.
Annabeth grabbed her mug hastily and tried to dunk the whole thing in her mouth, "…L-like I said, Percy," she whispered, "you can tell me about it. I'll listen," She almost looked like she was mentally berating herself, trying to control her emotions.
I'm so sorry, Annabeth.
Annabeth took a sip of her coffee, and looked at me. I could see the hint of a tear welling in her eye. She closed her eyes. I willed for her tears to disappear.
And then I felt really, really guilty.
God, I really hope I don't get a panic attack now.
"Anyway, did you hear about Grover's new discovery?" I tried not to make the subject change too quickly.
Annabeth, thankful for the change in the conversation, caught onto her lifesaver, "What, a wood nymph?" She smirked playfully, "you don't suppose he's finally got a steady romantic interest now?"
"I doubt it," I breathed a sigh of relief, and our conversation began shakily, "I don't believe he'll ever settle down."
"Hm? He's a wanderer. I wonder if he's had any luck with that Pan thing, yet," Annabeth's eyes redirected their attention from her lap to my face. Suddenly I felt really uncomfortable. Not just that, but also emotionally unstable. I could see so clearly, behind our bland dialogue that she was breaking down. Her piercing blue Athena eyes betrayed the signs of heartbroken, unrequited love. Her voice was still that soft and strong lilt, but toneless, almost zombie-like.
What have I done?
I nodded, wrapped up in my own thoughts as she talked a bit more about Clarisse's new quest, and how she was a little excited for her, but mainly pissed at the same time.
I sighed and gazed out the window. A woman was walking her little toy poodle. The poodle was wearing a crocheted pink scarf that fluttered every time the dog moved. The fringe of the scarf rocked back and forth in the silent wind blowing outside.
And then I heard her voice again.
It haunted me, ripped my fragile life apart, tore open those stupid old wounds all over again…the silent wind wrenched itself through my heart.
"Percy? Are you listening?"
Embarrassed, Annabeth jumped up from her seat.
"Listen, um, I have to go, so I'll just pay the bill, 'kay?" She muttered, clearly nettled, "I'll, uh, see you around!" Slapping down a few coins and regaining her confidence, Annabeth walked out of the booth and scampered towards the doorway, "See ya, seaweed brain!"
And then frowned.
Outside, in the semi-dark morning stood two tall, dark figures, barring Annabeth's path. They were attired in a weird combination of a workman's suit and an airport jockey uniform. Aside from that, the idiots were showing off their dirt brown, potato shaped bodies to public. Both of them also held giant, nine-feet-long wooden clubs.
Ogres. They have no sense of fashion.
Oh, gods. Ogres.
Rushing out the door (it tinkled happily); I searched my jeans pocket for Riptide. Uncapping the pen, I ran towards the two dumb-looking creatures. One had picked up Annabeth, while the other was just about to smash her head in. She was struggling fiercely.
Where is your baseball cap, Annabeth?
Sprinting forward at a running jump, I jammed the blade into one of the ogres, who was just about to whack Annabeth's head. He exploded into dark dust.
The second ogre still had Annabeth tightly held in his massive, crusty hands. If I tried to stab him, Annabeth would suffer a ten-foot fall (yes, those things were almost as tall as giants that Annabeth might acquire such a steep fall).
The ogre bared its teeth at me, his fangs yellow and broken and crumbling. His green hair was matted and ripped off of his dandruffy scalp in places.
Annabeth tried to attack. Bless her goddess-of-war side. She grabbed the ogre's fat arm and sunk her teeth into it. Surprisingly, the ogre gaze a yelp of pain and dropped her. I saw my chance and stabbed the guy with my sword.
Running towards Annabeth, I picked up the unconscious girl and carried her all the way home to my apartment.
I sat on my couch, with Annabeth still in my arms. She was breathing properly now, concussion evaporated. I looked down at her, resting peacefully. Her head was nestled tightly against my chest, hair slightly ruffled.
"Thank you," she muttered into my shirt, "Thanks a lot, Seaweed Brain."
Someday, I've gotta think of a good comeback when she calls me that.
Annabeth raised her head up and looked into my eyes. Deep.
For a minute, I thought she was going to kiss me.
She did, on the cheek.
I guess we're still friends.
"I'll get Thalia back for you," she promised, "if it's the last thing I do."
It's nice to know Annabeth is still so tough.
Then she fell off my couch and stumbled out the apartment door.
As she walked onto the street, I could see streams of tears flowing down her pale cheeks. She wiped them away, peered up the window at me and waved.
I turned away from the glass.
The silent wind blew past her face, sending the remaining trails of her tears scattering into the sky.
I need more whiskey, please.
A/N: I just want you to know that this is very different from how I usually write, and I want to try a new style so please give me any feedback...reasonable flames are okay! Yeah. So I'm not really good at oneshots (especially angsty oneshots), and I don't know if I got the facts right (haven't read the series since last last month). Please tell me that Annabeth's eyes are blue!
If you're sad that this isn't Percabeth, please don't give me any of that shit. I know, I know. It's just that this fandom doesn't HAVE any other pairing besides Percabeth and LukeXAnnabeth. Try a little PercyXThalia! I call it godchildshipping.
This is set ten years after Titan's Curse (meaning, it'll go AU in a heartbeat), so I deem it appropriate for alcohol and swearing.