A/N: This is the unfortunate product of three things.
One, I was studying for exams and had to find SOME way to take a break. Two, I've always wanted to do one of those fics like, "What if Percy and Annabeth DID go on that date in BotL? Here's what would happen!" Three, I've been obsessing over the Lightning Thief movie trailers.
So this fic went horribly, horribly wrong. Read if you must.
It's from Annabeth's perspective, as always. Set in the summer before freshman year (beginning chapter of The Battle of the Labyrinth). Let's assume that it was really, really rainy during Percy's freshman orientation; the empousai (cheerleaders Tammi and Kelli) didn't want to get their hair wet, so they didn't go to the orientation at all. Thus, Percy succeeded in avoiding Rachel, and he actually got to go to the movie with Annabeth.
Last note: let's pretend this is happening around the present, maybe June 2009, if we pretend they'd released the movie trailer by then.
You'll see why later.
AND THIS AUTHOR'S NOTE IS FINALLY FREAKIN' OVER!
He was earlier than I was.
Ha, got you there. You were expecting me to say, "he was late," weren't you? Because this is Percy we're talking about? And because he's an idiotic slacker, like, 60% of the time?
But no, I was late, by like five minutes, and Percy was leaning against the ticket counter, playing with the two tickets in his hands and looking at his dirt-speckled sneakers like they were the most fascinating thing in the world.
"Percy," I gasped, slowing to a jog as I ran up to him.
His head jerked up, and he bit back a smile. "You're--"
"Late," I said, still panting. "Yeah. I know. I only ran the last two miles to get here."
"The bus broke," I said lamely. It was true, too, even though Percy gave me the most sarcastic, disbelieving look in the world. "It did!" I insisted.
"Sure," Percy rolled his eyes and handed me a ticket.
I stared at the shiny white paper in my hands. "It did break down," I said. "Engine problems. And shouldn't I pay for this?"
Percy's eyes twinkled like huge emeralds under a flashlight as he grinned. "They don't accept drachmas, dummy."
"I've got real money," I scowled at him, then dug through my jean pockets. 3 golden drachmas the size of the York peppermint patties at the concessions stand, a wrapped piece of cinnamon gum, and some lint fuzz. Impressive.
"They don't accept gum as payment, either," Percy reminded me.
"Oh, shut up," I muttered.
I'd promised him a long time ago (last Christmas, in fact, when we'd just finished saving the world from Atlas and gotten the gray streaks in our hair to prove it) that we wouldn't have anymore of this not-seeing-each-other-except-when-we're-on-quests crap. We'd hang out, both of us promised. We'd even go see The Princess and the Frog one day. He may have a skull full of seaweed, but he's still my friend, and I'd much rather be with him and rolling my eyes than without him and lonely.
At least, that's what I thought when I was at school for the past five months. Now, I wasn't so sure.
Percy practically dragged me to the concessions stand once I'd quit insisting that I should pay. "So, time for the real question: sour straws, or sour skittles?"
"I thought we were late for the movie!" I cried.
"You were late for the movie," he corrected me. "I was right on time. And I'm getting sour straws."
"You're disgusting," I noted as he pulled even more money from his pockets. "Sour straws are gross. And how are you so rich all of a sudden?"
"Paul," explained Percy without a snippit of shame. "He slips me money sometimes when he visits me and my mom."
Percy sighed. "We've got a lot of catching up to do, huh?"
"What else is new?" I muttered, heading toward theater six where The Princess and the Frog was supposedly playing.
If you've ever been in a big-city movie theater in the states, this one was no different. Huge: check. Too dark to see where your feet are going: check. Mysterious sticky substance on the floor that could be Diet Coke but could also be something vaguely disgusting: check. And, thanks to me, we had the glorious choices of very very front row or very very back row to pick from. I wanted front. Percy, who paid for both of us, wanted back. Guess who won?
"Don't blame me when you can't see anything," I said as we squee-geed ourselves into two of the last available seats in the back row.
He didn't respond, just looked at me and half-smiled. I think. I couldn't really tell in the dark.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing, nothing," he whispered, flopping into the velour chair. "You just look sorta pretty, that's all."
I crossed my arms. I most certainly did not look sorta pretty. I didn't even look presentable. I'd waited for ten minutes at the bus stop once Argus had given me a ride, changed from my soaked Camp Half-Blood t-shirt into the only other shirt I had at the time, a red v-neck cotton thing, and then ran all the way to the movies. In the rain. And got my shirt soaked again. And lost my ponytail holder somewhere along the way.
Was I dripping wet, with messy hair worn down and a red shirt that, though mercifully not see-through, was hardly stylish? Yes. Was I even borderline pretty? No.
"It's the dim lighting, Seaweed Brain," I told him, taking the neighboring seat.
There was a "Cinema Firstlook" thing that came before the previews (yes, previews--I so did not make us late). Since neither of us cared, and everybody else was talking, we spent the next ten minutes rehashing what had happened in the last six months of each of our lives.
Some of our questions were the same: how bad did you fail English? What are people like at your school? Did you meet any half-bloods? Were you attacked by big monsters, or only the little kind?
Then, of course, I asked mine, like, who the heck is Paul? And then, when he told me who Paul was, Oh! So your mom's getting married?
To which he responded that he had no idea.
Percy had some questions of his own, mainly, So what's your family been doing? How come you told us they sucked if they're really nice? (I never said they sucked. When did I say that?!) Any news about Luke after he, uh, you know...fell? and Did you get a boyfriend or something?
"WHAT?!" I whispered as loudly as possible in a crowded theater. "Boyf--no, no, obviously no. Where the hell did you hear that?"
"I didn't hear it," Percy said sheepishy. "I just guessed."
"All right, I'll rephrase my question," I said. "What the hell made you guess that?"
"I don't know," he retorted. "Maybe a guy got lured in by 'dim lighting'."
I rolled my eyes and raised the armrest from between our chairs. "I'm not trying to be awkward or anything," I told him quickly, now that our unseparated chairs resembled a couch . "The armrest just...bugs me."
Percy frowned. "See, if you do stuff like this all the time to guys, it's called leading them on."
I blushed furiously. "Why don't you just eat those disgusting sour straws," I snapped.
The first preview came on, something with a guy holding his breath in a pool, and everybody hushed at once. There was something intrinsically familiar about the guy on the screen, though, and I turned to poke Percy.
"Hey," I whispered. "That guy looks like you."
Percy, who had a sparkly blue sour straw in his mouth, glanced up at the screen. "Mffmfmfmfmfphff," he tried to say.
I gave him an exasperated look.
He bit off the end of the straw. "You think my nose is that skinny?"
But I didn't want to interrupt the trailer, which actually had lines now: How long was that? the Percy look-alike said, surfacing and swimming to the side of the pool.
Seven minutes, his friend with black skin and a leather jacket said.
"I can hold my breath longer underwater," Percy murmured.
"You can breathe underwater," I said. "Shh!"
There are twelve Olympian gods, a voice said on-screen. Oh, wait, it was Pierce Brosnan. Sweet! The Big Three are the brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.
"Oh my gods," I said. "We have to see this movie."
"No kidding!" Percy cried, grinning at me. "My dad's in it!"
I was about to tell him to shut up, or people would think he meant Pierce Brosnan, but the voice continued: The children of these gods...were half-human, half-gods.
Me and Percy shot each other looks.
"Hang on," Percy and I said at the same time.
"Why is it set at a school if they're talking about demigods?" I asked uneasily. "All the ones mortals know about are back during the Classical period."
"Maybe it's a Hercules re-make," Percy suggested. "They do a lot of stuff like that, where they put an old story in a modern..." he trailed off and looked back at the screen, since we'd missed the past twenty or so seconds because we were talking. Ms. Dodds? the Percy look-alike asked an elderly teacher in the trailer.
Percy's eyes grew huge. "That was my teacher's name!" he whispered urgently. "The one at my old school, who turned into a..."
The elderly lady, perched on scaffolding, sprouted three pairs of ugly-ass wings and formed a hideous, sharp-toothed mouth. And the resulting monster looked just as familiar as the Percy look-alike.
"Kindly one?" I asked him cautiously. "Just guessing, were you about to say 'kindly one'?"
He didn't answer--couldn't answer. His eyes were glued to the screen.
They found him, said Pierce Brosnan.
The look-alike looked as scared as Percy did right now. Who found me?
It only got worse from there. The gods are real, the friend with the leather jacket said, before it cut to the look-alike saying, My father's Poseidon, like he was startled. Percy, on the other hand, looked like he was about to throw up.
Then, they showed a legitimate shot of Olympus at nighttime. Embarrassed to say it, but I jumped out of my seat, hitting the end of my spine on the sticky floor.
"Ouch," I muttered, zooming back into the seat so I could keep watching. But still--how on earth were they getting footage of OLYMPUS?!
Zeus' bolt is the most powerful weapon ever created, some actor who was evil guy from National Treasure said in the trailer. It's been stolen.
Pierce Brosnan continued, If it's not returned by the summer solstice, there will be war.
"Percy!" I cried. "Percy, are you getting any of this?!"
He was still shell-shocked.
"It's what happened in sixth grade," I said, shaking him. "This is totally, exactly, absolutely the quest we took back when we were, like, twelve, and--hey, is that supposed to be me?"
There was a shot of three kids--the Percy look-alike, a pretty girl, and his leather-jacket friend, who, apparently, had horns now. A satyr. No, the actress couldn't possibly be me, could she? She was like a teenage Jennifer Garner.
"Because the boy's obviously you," I tried to explain. "Which means the satyr's Grover..."
Percy nodded a fraction of an inch.
I frowned. "But my hair's different."
"How can you think of hair right now?" Percy finally said, incredulous, breaking his spell of silence.
"Thank gods, I thought you were going mute," I muttered.
I definitely have strong feelings for you, the pretty girl said to the Percy look-alike, kicking Percy's ass in a fight before they showed her leaning in to kiss him. I just haven't decided if they're positive or negative yet.
"I never said that!" I hissed at the screen, blushing even more; thank the gods the two didn't actually kiss on screen. And yeah, by now, more than a couple people were staring at us. "Okay, Seaweed Brain, this is obviously not about either of us, because if it is, they're certainly taking creative liberties with---"
We'll find the bolt, the look-alike said to the pretty girl onscreen, cutting me off.
"Well," Percy told me, his voice shaking. "I actually did say that."
The trailer kept rolling--more scenes of the look-alike, the look-alike and pretty girl with their hair blowing dramatically in the wind, a scene with the look-alike saying, This is a pen. Twice.
"All right, I never said anything that stupid," Percy scowled.
"Riptide," I said weakly, glancing at the pen tucked in Percy's jeans pocket.
All the color drained out of Percy's face, especially as he watched the pen turn into a bronzey sword onscreen. WHILE THE LOOK-ALIKE WAS FIGHTING A MINOTAUR.
"Oh," was all Percy managed to say.
Maybe you're no son of Poseidon, a handsome blond guy said in the trailer.
"Luke," Percy and I said in hushed unison. The guy was a 99% Luke-looking match.
And then, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water swirled around the Percy actor, rising and gathering exactly like the water always did when Percy decided to quit being useless and help defeat monsters.
And then the worst part of the whole trailer--the ending voiceover.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the voice said, sending an awful chill down my spinal cord as the golden logo flashed before us. The Lightning Thief.