A/N: I'm really, truly sorry I'm doing this instead up updating a Golden Autumn.
I have no idea what I'm going to do next in a Golden Autumn. Honest. I look at the next chapter, and I have no inspiration at ALL. If anyone has an idea of what should happen, PLEASE tell me! I wrote a chapter but it's crap! Even I hate it!
But I DID have inspiration for this, especially after reading a beautiful Thuke one-shot by Katako-chan. Do you remember, in BotL, when Percy leaves camp and Annabeth's really cold and doesn't say much? Well, what do you think was going on the night before? This one-shot happens the night before Percy goes back home...and I hope it's okay. Not too fluffy, maybe a little sad.
Of course this is Percabeth. Do you think I know how to write anything else?
It was about 2:15 in the morning. I was wide-awake.
All of my brothers and sisters were dead to the world--Malcom was snoring louder than a grizzly bear, so I don't know how they fell asleep--but not me. I had the top bunk tonight, and all I could do was stare at the stone ceiling. I hugged the gray silk sheets closer, thinking they might help me forget this plan I'd formulated throughout the evening.
But I'm a daughter of Athena. I follow through on my plans.
Softly as a feather falling to the ground, I gently hopped down from my bunk. If anyone woke up, I told myself, I'm sleepwalking. But the Athena cabin stayed soundly asleep...lucky them. I yanked my sister Susannah's satin dressing-gown-thing from the hook on the mirror, because even though it was midsummer, we'd just had a storm last week and the nighttime temperatures were dipping into the mid sixties.
Every creaking step made me flinch. About a billion years later, I finally made it to the door, clicking it shut behind me and huffing a huge sigh of relief. I started down the line of the other eleven cabins, with my stomach doing backflips at what I was about to do. It had only been a couple steps when I eyed the stone owl, symbol of our mother Athena, gazing down at me questioningly.
"Shut up!" I snapped, trying to whisper as I pulled my arms through the dressing gown. "I....I just need to do this, okay?!"
The owl's expression didn't change.
"Forget it," I muttered. "You wouldn't understand."
I walked as quickly as I could, pulling the gown around me to try to warm myself against the cool night air. I heard one of the harpies cry out hungrily, and I walked faster.
I noticed a pattern here: with every step I got closer to the low, stone-hewn building, the shimmering one with coral studding the walls, my throat became tighter and my heartbeat got louder. It was really annoying, because once I'd reached the conch-shell doorknob on the double doors of the cabin itself, my heartbeat was too loud for me to hear myself think. It was worse than having ADHD.
Here goes nothing, I thought, biting my lip as I ever-so-quietly opened the door and tiptoed inside.
Percy was sprawled sideways on his bed. Of course, half the sheets were wadded at the footboard and the covers were in a pile on the floor, fully kicked from the mattress in his sleep. I sighed and smiled...just a little bit.
"Hey, Seaweed Brain, what's up?" I whispered, praying to Hypnos himself that he wouldn't wake up. He didn't. I pulled up a softly cushioned wicker chair to the side of his bed and sat, cross-legged, watching his closed eyes and hearing his soft breathing, like a mom watching her kid fall asleep. It was different, seeing his face still and peaceful, and very up close.
Sure. This wasn't creepy at all.
I snapped back to business. "So, well, I know you're leaving tomorrow," I continued quietly. "And I needed to say some stuff...like when you were gone for two weeks. I bet you still think I don't know what happened, right?" I smiled. "I'm not stupid, Seaweed Brain. Ogygia. It's the only possible explanation.
"I'm not mad, or anything. I mean...okay, that's a lie, I was mad. But it's not your fault that you were there. You came back, didn't you? You picked your friends and family over Calypso. We know you love your mom, and camp, and Tyson, and Grover, and me, and..." I cut off. I didn't even want to say this kind of stuff when he was sleeping.
"Okay, forget that. Point is, I'm not mad. But I know I've been acting...distant...lately. It's not because you did something wrong. I'm just kind of messed up in my head right now. And I'm supposed to be smarter than that. I hate not knowing what to do.
'It's just...I get so confused. There, I said it, confused. Me." I glanced at his face to make sure he wasn't awake. "Good, you're not laughing. This, Percy, actually is your fault, so listen up. I can't ever tell what you're thinking, and it's annoying as Hades. Like....oh gods, this goes back so long ago. Okay. Okay. Do you remember in seventh grade, when we were in Aeaea, Circe's Island, and I saved your sorry butt from becoming a guinea pig? When you changed back, the way you looked at me...I don't know. This is gonna sound really stupid. It reminded me of the way my dad looks at Athena, sometimes, when he gets to see her in all her glory and all that. Do you know what I mean? I thought we were friends, and then you look at me like I'm a goddess, and in a good way...." I trailed off, brushing an annoying piece of hair out of Percy's eyes.
"That's terrible. If you don't like me, you know, like my dad liked Athena, you shouldn't be giving hints like that. And....and don't ever hold me like you did when you saved me from the Sirens. Because I've hugged Grover before, and sometimes, friends at school. And I know hugs from friends don't feel the same way like when you held me.
"Do you even get what I'm saying?!" I whispered urgently, my voice rising in pitch. "Don't do that stuff if you don't mean it. Don't ask me to dance on Mount Olympus...don't...don't look at me the way you do now, sometimes...don't do any of it. You're just playing with me, okay? Don't do stuff like that if you're just going to end up running off with a girl like Rachel Dare. Oh, crap, I brought her up. I was planning on avoiding this. Crap, crap, crap."
I curled into a ball on my wicker chair, blinking so I wouldn't do something as dumb as crying. I stayed silent for a few minutes. Only the gentle gurgling of the fountain behind me and Percy's steady breathing filled the room. When I was ready to start again, I barely peeked over the top of my knees.
"Well, I brought her up, so...Rachel...you're going to school with her now. You'll see her more. She's prettier than me. She's more talented than me at a lot of cool, romantic stuff like art. So I guess I can't blame you if you like her more." I felt my eyes turn bright, and I unfurled from my little cocoon on the chair. "But I...I know you better. I know you so much better. And I think, maybe, we could be happy...together?
"Did that sound as stupid as I think it did?
"I like you a lot, Percy. Even though I still act like I hate you sometimes. If it looks like I hate you, it's probably because you're being stupid and messing with my head. But I don't hate you. I actually really, really want to be next to you, like, all the time." I placed my smaller hand in his upward facing palm on the bed. "My mom absolutely loved my dad, you know. Her favorite man since Odysseus...don't tell Malcom or Susannah that, though. But that's what I wish could happen. I want to be Athena for you, and I want you to see me the way I see you all the time. I've been thinking...if I went by the Sirens again, today, it would look different. Because I'm pretty sure Luke wouldn't be sitting there with me, and I think you know who would.
"I'm sorry I kissed you back in Mt. St. Helen's. And I'm sorry I was so embarrassing when you came back. So...I'm giving up, Percy. At least for now. I know you think I'm just your friend. That's how I want things to be, I guess."
I quit holding his hand and pushed the chair back, looking at his face one more time. His closed eyes, an almost-smile on his face. I don't think he ever looked this calm in real life. He started to move, and my heart skipped a beat--but he was just turning over in his sleep. His breath settled again, and I sighed.
"See ya tomorrow, Seaweed Brain," I whispered, pressing my lips softly against his forehead. "And tomorrow, you won't remember a word I said, will you?"
I left for Cabin 3, never looking back once.