Author's notes: Written for the Prompt Fic Battle at PJO Fic Battle that's still going on over at LiveJournal. Links in my profile. I thought I was beginning to tucker out with fic for the month, but then the teaser trailer was released and all my inspiration came flooding back. The prompt for this fic was "Percy/Annabeth, Why would I want to go to the stupid prom anyway?"
Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Better Late Than Never
Annabeth was going to kill him.
That's all there was to it. She was going to find a way around his invulnerable hide, and stab him right in the kidneys and give her knife an extra twist so it hurt a little more. That's what she said she'd do if he was even a minute late, and considering Percy was now two hours, ten minutes, and fifty-three seconds overdue for his senior prom, he was going to be lucky if he escaped with any of his limbs still attached to his body.
It's not like he wanted to be late. He never wanted to be late for any of their date nights, but when you're a demigod, especially the demigod son of Poseidon, you're almost never guaranteed to be on time for anything other than a fight. Percy swore all the monsters in the Manhattan area must get a signal whenever he and Annabeth make plans to do something normal – it's like they decided, "What's this? Percy Jackson is planning something that might actually bring him happiness? Well, we can't have that! Charge!" – because he got attacked by more monsters on the way to the movies during any other moment in his day-to-day life.
So of course the desk clerk at the tuxedo rental shop would turn out to be a mad automaton on the loose that needed to be chased down Fifth Avenue and shut down before it strangled anyone else with silk ties. Of course some dumb, yet-to-be-claimed demigod would pick today to go wandering in Central Park, get attacked by Laestrygonians, and need to be given the "One of Your Parents Is A God and You're Officially a Freak Now If You Weren't Already" talk before running off and stealing Percy's cell phone. Stupid sons of Hermes.
And hey, why wouldn't today be a good day for Nico di Angelo to practice his necromancy and raise a bunch of Revolutionary era zombies that he couldn't control from the Trinity Church cemetery in lower Manhattan? It's not like Percy hadn't told him five hundred times in the last week that if he did anything to make him late on prom, he would throw Nico into the deepest part of the ocean with the most vicious sea monsters without a second thought.
Speaking of vicious sea monsters, Poseidon must've been in on this whole "Stop Percy From Having Fun" plot because there was no way the sea god hadn't known a bunch of sea serpents and other creepy crawly things were going to stage a revolt to take over Liberty Island today.
Percy had watched from Battery Park as some octopus like thing crawled up to the top of Lady Liberty's crown, battling off the New York National Guard, and just knew he was never, ever going to get to the prom tonight. He'd left Nico, flailing in terror, to handle the sea monster attack for a bit and hailed the cab to take him to the restaurant where they were supposed to go with a bunch of mortal friends so he could at least explain himself to Annabeth. Percy hoped she would at least listen to him, but with the way things were going tonight, he doubted that.
The cab pulled up in front of the restaurant, right behind a limo Percy knew his friends had rented, and there she was on the sidewalk, her back turned to street and talking to some other tuxedoed boy. Percy hoped it wasn't that jerk Reilly, who was always hitting on Annabeth in front of him and had somehow wormed his way into coming with their group tonight.
"Wait just a couple of minutes," Percy told the cab driver, opening the door before the cab even came to a complete stop and hopping out onto the sidewalk. "Annabeth!"
Her shoulders tensed, but she didn't turn around. The other boy (it was Reilly, damn, damn, damn!) glanced over her shoulder and smirked smugly at him.
"Well, if it isn't Percy Jackson. Running behind as usual, it seems," Reilly said, giving Percy a quick glance over and then rolling his eyes. "God, when don't you look like you got in a fight with garbage truck and lost, Jackson?"
Percy hadn't even thought about the state of his tuxedo. One glance down at his muddy, torn pant legs and he knew he wasn't getting his deposit back.
"Shove it, Reilly. I need to talk to Annabeth."
"I don't think she wants to talk to you, dude. Besides, we gotta go. Some of us like to be on time."
"Just give me two minutes," Annabeth said at last, and Percy could hear the suppressed anger in her voice. She whirled around, grabbed Percy by the arm, and dragged him toward the entrance of the restaurant, away from the limo.
She let go of him almost immediately, like he was decided, and put her hands on her hips. She pursed her lips and said, "Well?"
But all the air had left Percy's lungs when he got a good look at her in the restaurant's light. Besides the color, she hadn't told him what her dress looked like because she had wanted it to be a surprise, and Percy was certainly…well, surprised wasn't exactly the word for it.
Annabeth's dress was made up dark blue silk with white and silver beads making up patterns that looked like the night sky had been sewn directly onto the fabric. The straps hung off her shoulders, and the material clung to her curves in all the right ways. She was wearing no jewelry, and she had pulled her curly hair into a side ponytail with little bits of glittering silver woven throughout the curls.
In short, she looked absolutely and utterly gorgeous.
"Um," Percy said, running a hand through his messy hair and realizing exactly how terrible he must look in comparison. "You look fantastic, Annabeth."
The fire in her eyes grew more intense, and Percy knew he had said the wrong thing, which he didn't understand at all. Didn't girls like it when boys said they looked good?
"Thanks, but it would've been nice to hear two hours ago when my boyfriend was supposed to show up so we could get our picture taken!" Annabeth said, poking him in the chest emphatically. "I have been calling you non-stop for the past four hours! What's your excuse this time, Jackson?"
As she spoke, a caravan of emergency vehicles tore through the street past the restaurant, heading toward the harbor and the direction Percy had just come from. He sighed, and Annabeth's eyes narrowed.
"Please tell me that has nothing to do with you."
"It's part of the ongoing cluster fuck that has been my day so far," Percy said quickly. "I'm going to mostly blame Nico because if he hadn't – "
"Nico? You were hanging out with Nico?"
If Annabeth could breathe fire, Percy was pretty sure he'd be a crispy side of bacon by now. If there was one thing she hated more than Percy being late, it was because he was late because got roped into one of Nico's schemes. Annabeth and Nico were the two people in the world he couldn't say no to.
"I wasn't hanging out with him, unless that's what you consider dealing with his out of control zombie hordes running around the Lower East Side! I tried to be on time, but you know how things are with me. Things happen and I – "
"I just wanted to be a normal teenager for one night," she said slowly. "One night, and you couldn't even give me that."
"I can't be normal!" he replied, throwing his hands in the air in exasperation. "You know that, I know that, the gods know that – I can try, but I'm just not going to be a normal guy!"
"That's why I'm going to prom with a real normal guy instead."
Percy's eyes flew from her face to the leering teenager leaning against the limo, and couldn't help the shocked squawk that escaped from him.
"You're going with him? But he's – he's Reilly!" Percy protested.
She couldn't be giving up on him for some stupid, blond lacrosse player who only thought with one head and it wasn't the one on his shoulders. The fact that she had even decided to go with someone else, even though Percy knew he couldn't go anyway, was a shock.
"He was here on time and he didn't abandon his date like some stupid Son of Poseidon I could mention! If you didn't want to go to prom, you could've just said something!" Annabeth replied, and Percy could see tears glistening in her eyes. He'd really done it this time. "Do you know how embarrassing it was to stand around for pictures or sit at dinner without you there? All of my friends were laughing at me! You're lucky I'm even talking to you right now – "
"I did want to go!" he said, feeling more miserable by the second. "Do you honestly think I'd rather be dealing with George Washington's zombie than with you right now when you look like a million golden drachma?"
"Annabeth, we're going to be late," one of the girls from inside the limo called, poking her head outside the window. "If you could finish breaking up with Percy sometime this year, we'd all appreciate it!"
Percy felt like someone had just knocked him over the head with something heavy.
"Is that what we're doing? Breaking up?" he asked, finding it very hard to breathe suddenly. This couldn't be the end for them, not after everything they'd been through. He knew she had been annoyed by him being late all the time, but not enough to break up with him. It was just so – so stupid and pathetic and an utterly normal thing to break up over.
Annabeth sighed and looked away from him, not answering his question verbally, but her body language told him everything he needed to know.
"Fine," Percy said shortly, taking a step back. "Fine, if that's what you want."
"Percy – "
"Look, I gotta go, all right? There's something tentacled scaling the Statue of Liberty, and I left Nico alone with the rest of the sea monsters in the harbor and he's probably been eaten by now," he interrupted, really not wanting to hear anything more. "Have fun at the prom."
Percy turned and walked back toward the cab, trying not to hear the jeers that were being thrown his way by Annabeth's friends in the limo. He got back into the cab, slammed the door shut, and sank back into the cushions.
"Back to Battery Park, please," he said miserably, pressing his hands against his eyes in exhaustion. He really didn't want to see Annabeth and Reilly getting into the limo together.
He felt the cab move a couple of a feet, and then it came to a jarring stop. Percy heard the door farthest from him open and someone slid in next to him.
"Do we have all your passengers in the car?" the cabbie demanded from up front, annoyed.
Percy pulled his hands away from his face, and stared.
"Yes," Annabeth said, slamming the door behind her. "We can leave."
"Uh…you got in the wrong car, Wise Girl," Percy said stupidly as the cab started moving, zooming past the still parked limo and Reilly still standing outside.
"Do you honestly think I'd break up with you because of prom?" Annabeth asked, turning to him. "Oh, I'm mad at you, no doubt about that, and I expect you to do some serious groveling for months after this, but break up with you? Seriously, Percy."
Percy's heart was suddenly doing a little jig in his chest.
"What about prom?"
But Annabeth was already reaching up the slit in her dress, and pulling her celestial bronze dagger free from her garter. She sliced at the material and then ripped, scattering beads everywhere, tearing her dress off just above her knees so her legs were free for better movement.
"Why would I want to go to the stupid prom when I could be slaying tentacle monsters with you?" she replied, looking at him as if it was the most obvious choice in the world.
It was then that Percy realized, maybe for the millionth time since they started dating, that he had the most awesome girlfriend in the universe. Even though she was mad at him, Percy couldn't help himself; he leaned across the seat and kissed her for all he was worth.
"I owe you a dance after this," he mumbled as he pulled away. Annabeth had a dreamy, dazed expression on her face that quickly slid away when she noticed his smirk.
"I'll keep that in mind," Annabeth said. "But don't think that just because you kissed me that I'm going to forget that I'm mad at you. Now, you said sea monsters were attacking my mother's statue?"
Percy wasn't thinking that and he kept it in mind when he watched her savagely go after a sea dragon in her high heels and come back a few minutes later without so much as a hair out of place and a satisfied grin on her face. It was at the front of his mind too, when he got swept onto one of the spikes of the Statue of Liberty's crown, just before she saved him from a painful, splattered death on the platform below because he would've really hated to die with Annabeth still mad at him.
After all the monsters were slain, he started thinking maybe she wasn't so mad at him when he asked her to dance on the top of Statue of Liberty's head and she didn't slug him. Hey, he might be clueless most of the time, but he knew a romantic moment in the moonlight at an exotic location when he saw one, even if they were both covered in monster slime and exhausted.
Okay, it wasn't completely romantic because Nico kept making gagging noises in the background, the New Jersey Port of Authority was yelling at them through megaphones from at the base of the statue, and the media helicopters kept making passes with glaring spotlights, but having Annabeth in his arms and the view of New York City at night more than made up for it.
"Sorry I was late for prom," Percy muttered, swaying her slowly around so she could get a better view of the city.
"Well," Annabeth said, sounding perfectly content as she laid her head on his shoulder and shifted closer to him. "As they say, better late than never. And this is definitely better than any old prom."