A/N Hello there! I am in full-scale procrastination mode...again. Yes, I know I must update Somewhere in Time. But I also have to earn the ability to write (gag) decent romance fics. Hence, this one-shot. This is really just practice, so flame away if you must. I wrote this, thinking I might improve at writing fluff, and the funny thing here is...there is no fluff! So let that CC in, please. Also, (this is transcendent, I promise) I have a poll! And it's about Somewhere in Time, so please go read it! And I am now offering my service as a Beta Reader. Please, go read that, too. (My Beta Profile) And tell me if you'd like to have me as a Beta Reader. 'Yes' being the most desired answer. So thank you! And read on.
Disclaimer- I do not own Percy Jackson and the Olympians and/or the song by Chuck Wicks. Any likeness of the song lyrics and this fic is purely on purpose. The title is on purpose, too. No copyright infringement intended, of course.
Rain pounds the sidewalks of San Francisco mercilessly, making them a potential death trap for all who dare to walk on them. The air is cold and heavy, and lightning occasionally illuminates the otherwise dark sky.
If anyone is enjoying this thunderstorm the least, that's Percy Jackson.
Although the weather only adds to his originally bad day, he takes it somewhat personal. After hopping off the plane with shot nerves, a chalky expression, and fists balled in anxiety, the twenty-two year old stashed his bags in an old motel somewhat far from his destination.
But because said motel did not have (what a strange occurrence of him, really!) taxi service, he had to walk aimlessly around for almost an hour, hoping to catch a ride. Then, proving the only thing he'd catch was a cold if he stayed still in this climate any longer, he had to run aimlessly to warm up. And then, because almighty Zeus just couldn't wait fifteen more minutes to throw his weekly monumental tantrum, he had to slow down to avoid slipping.
Now that would've been the perfect, round, red cherry to top off Disaster Day.
He rounds the corner, wrapping his jacket tighter around himself. Blame it on the freaking weatherman for announcing a "sunny day here at Frisco," in plain winter. Percy still thinks the guy should try his luck at fishing rather than forecasting.
Lightning strikes, thunder rolls, and he sees a memory in the sudden flash of brightness.
"Do you have everything, Percy?" Sally Jackson asks for the umpteenth time in five minutes.
"Yes, mom. Don't worry, I'll be fine." He recites in a monotone. By now, he is expected to know the drill, right?
Of course, Percy knows that by 'everything', Sally doesn't mean an extra pair of socks, money, or even the plane ticket. No, she means something more important than that. Way more important than a toothbrush or something vitally-necessary of the sort.
They have been standing at boarding gate 'A', while mobs buzz around them, carrying heavy suitcases, occasionally mistaking their feet for a bump in the carpet. Percy picks up his own with ease, and looks down at his mother solemnly. She stares back, biting her lip.
"I know, Percy. I just can't get over how fast you've grown. It seems like yesterday that you—" Her voice catches in her throat, and she's unable to continue.
Percy chuckles briefly at the cliché line she uses every time he does something 'transcendent' in his life. Like the time he graduated from Goode, or when he entered college and got a well-paid job as a marine biologist. Even when he moved out of his mom's apartment to one of his own. He keeps saying it's only six blocks away and that she and Paul can visit anytime, but Sally insists on saying she's losing her little boy.
"It's okay, mom." He reminds her. "I'm not going anywhere. I'll be back so soon you guys won't even have the time to miss me. It's only three days. And say hi to Paul for me, will you?"
"I will. He's sorry he couldn't come see you off, though. But when you get back, we'll celebrate, okay?"
Percy smiles at that. "Will you make me blue cookies?"
For the shortest of moments, Sally is reminded of that beaming kid that still lives somewhere inside the grown man in front of her.
"As many as you want, dear." She promises, and before she can start bawling in front of her son, she urges him off in a hoarse voice. "You'd better go now. Or you'll miss your flight."
As if on cue, a female voice reaches his ears.
"Passengers of the 160 flight to San Francisco, last call to board the plane through gate 'A'. 160 flight to San Francisco, boarding through gate 'A'."
Suddenly, for the first time since their arrival to the airport, Percy turns on his mother with a panicked look in his eyes. It's in sudden realization of what he's about to do, and why he's flying for.
Finally he got some sense in that brain of his, Sally thinks with a small smile. She gives him an encouraging hug. With the sweetest of voices, she murmurs soothingly in his ear.
"I trust you, Percy. No matter what happens now, I'm with you. Always."
The familiar house appears in view long before he wants it to. Instinctively, his hand reaches for his pocket, and sighs in relief when he sees he has come this far successfully (so to speak, of course). A sit down man to man, Paul had advised. He rings the doorbell once, twice, a third time.
A man with sandy blond hair and an aviator's outfit opens the door. He takes off his goggles as if to see more clearly, and when he does, he smiles in wonder.
"Percy! What a surprise! We weren't expecting you until tomorrow. Come in, come in, son."
"Thank you, Mr. Chase." Percy says as he steps in. The little house is much like he remembers it; cozy, warm, and messy. The only difference is that Bobby and Matthew are sixteen now rather than six.
"Where'd you leave your bags, Percy? Are they dropping them by later?"
"No, sir. I knew I was supposed to come until tomorrow, so I checked in a hotel for the night."
Frederick Chase turns on him. "By Athena! Don't be silly, son. I'll send Matt to pick them up later. Come on up to the study. Annabeth's not home yet, but you can wait until she gets here."
Percy smiles in spite of himself, knowing it'll be useless to try to convince Dr. Chase to let him stay at the hotel. He's heard Matthew has had an obsession for all things motorized ever since he got his license, and the resentment that resulted from Bobby's failing to get it.
Mr. Chase opens the door to his huge office and pours himself a glass of Scotch. "Anything to drink? You are legal now, aren't you?"
Percy stares at the auburn liquid. He'd never been a booze fan, not even when his mother took him to Vegas for his twenty-first birthday, and he was supposed to be all excited. Sure, he could have two or three glasses throughout the evening, but that was about it.
Recently, though, he's had the habit of not taking a sip at all when Annabeth is near him. She's a terrible drinker, and if she asks for anything stronger than apple juice, he always makes it a point to be the driver for the night. Having learned her lesson, Percy rarely sees a drunk Annabeth. But he dares not admit it to himself that the one time he did, it was a rather funny sight.
Chuckling, he answers. "Yes, I am, sir. But I'd rather not. It's been a long trip."
Frederick shrugs and gestures for him to take the armchair in front of him. "Suit yourself. Sit, sit."
They settle into comfortable silence. Percy had been nervous about Annabeth asking him to spend Spring Break with her family, but now, he isn't half as anxious. He remembers now that Mr. Chase leads a rather laidback life, and that he's perfectly at ease with him dating his daughter.
But that could always change sooner rather than later.
"So, Percy," Frederick begins casually. "What have you been up to lately? How's Sally?"
"She's great, sir, thank you. We were planning to throw a party, now that I passed all my midterms."
The man laughs. "Good for you, son. Would you believe me if I told you that Annabeth aced hers?"
Percy shakes his head. "I wouldn't be surprised at all, sir."
"As a matter of fact, I'm glad you're here. She's been working so hard lately; my wife and I are beginning to worry. You know how she gets."
Percy nods, remorse biting at the back of his mind. Annabeth would be home anytime soon. He had to hurry. Feeling daring, he said, "Sir?"
The old man looks up from a half-finished biplane. "Hmm?"
"I hate to give you one more thing to think about, sir, but…um—well," He takes the small black box out of his pocket and places it gently on the table, making sure the man in front of him understands what it is.
Frederick's eyes widen, and he slugs down his drink. He looks up at Percy with a strange light on his expression. "I see."
Percy starts babbling automatically, not sure what he's supposed to do.
"I know we're young, sir. But I—I've got a steady job and a nice place…well, not at all nice, but it's big enough for two, and I'm sure Annabeth would enjoy remodeling it…I know I may not seem responsible enough, but I can take care of her, Mr. Chase, I promise. If you could just give me a shot, I—"
But that's as far Percy gets before Frederick begins to smile slowly. "I know that, son. You don't have to prove anything to me. I just—well, it's just gone by too fast." The following words seem to weigh down his tongue. "If—if anyone deserves my Annabeth…well, you come pretty darn close, son. Excuse me, will you?"
Percy watches him stand up and leave the room, probably to hyperventilate in the hallway. That went well…, he thinks darkly. He finds himself leaving his chair to pace the study. His eye catches a wall in particular. He strides over to where at least a dozen framed pictures of Annabeth are sitting on a shelf.
He recognizes the first one as Goode's Halloween Party a few years ago. He had practically begged for Annabeth to go with him, regardless of her numerous protests that wearing a costume was silly.
Percy looks up from his paper to look at Annabeth, scribbling furiously on a notebook across from him.
"Hmmm?" She hardly looks up from her work.
The moment Sally suggested a study date, Percy knew it was a bad idea. Especially when Annabeth could focus on what she was doing, as opposed to him, who could only look at the paper he was writing for a few seconds at a time. And when it's a report on the Impact of Classic Fairytales on the World for Literature that he's working on, you can count on him wanting to drown himself.
No pun intended, of course.
"Why is there a 'Prince Charming' in all these fairytales?"
The blond girl sighs, sensing a long conversation that involves her doing all the answering while Percy busies himself with firing away with random questions. She puts down her pen and folds her hands in front of her.
"It's a way the author has of showing a reward for good actions. You know, all the hardships the princess has to go through before she gets her prince? It's kind of like saying that it was all worth it."
Percy scoffs. "Reward? The dude's like, perfect all the time. That cannot be real!"
"No, Percy, it's not real. That's why it's called a fairytale. It's made out of fiction. They're just stories."
"Well," Percy grumbles. "Since guys can't be Prince Charming and all, I don't think they should be reading these stories to little girls. It would make it a lot easier if we didn't have to live up to fictitious expectations."
Annabeth bursts out laughing at her boyfriend's conclusion. "Your head is full of kelp."
He smiles. "You think Mrs. Anderson would flunk me if I wrote that in my report?"
By now, Annabeth has returned her attention to her homework and merely answers, "Very likely, Percy."
He shrugs and continues writing a project he doesn't buy. They've fallen into a comfortable silence again when Percy has an idea.
She glares at him, exasperated. "What, Percy? I'll never get this done in time if you—"
He cuts her off, too excited with his idea to put up with her ranting. "Why don't we go as Prince Charming and Cinderella for the Halloween Dance?"
The word 'Cheesy' jumps into Annabeth's mind, and it's a while, a lot of begging, and some blackmail before he can convince her.
Despite the perilous situation he's in (at least it's perilous to him. It's his girlfriend's father, for Zeus's sake!) , he's able to laugh at all the framed memories. He stares at them methodically, one after another, and finds himself with the ability to be amused by her even now.
"Come on, Annabeth. Just one!" Thalia begs at her friend. She holds a camera on one hand, and an impatient stance on the other. Even immortality has its quirks.
"No. Go away, Thalia."
The daughter of Zeus has been trying for the past hour to get a picture of Percy and Annabeth together, a feat that has proved no easier than facing the Nemean Lion. And while Percy stands awkwardly to the side, hands buried in his pockets, the blond girl keeps shifting, making it unable to get a clear shot.
"You do realize you're being childish?" Thalia points out. "Come on. It'll be a great Christmas present for your parents!"
The couple turns on her, eyes wide, jaws open.
"Err, your mortal parents. Now stop fidgeting and stay still."
Sighing, Annabeth gestures Percy closer. When they finally get their arms around each other, Thalia freezes.
"Oh, what now—"
Annabeth never got to articulate her complaint, for Percy's wide eyes told her everything she needed to know.
"Um, Annabeth? Don't panic, okay? I'm just going to sweep it away with my hand, yeah?"
She barely hears him, because she's too busy jumping around, trying to get the itsy bitsy spider off her shoulder.
A few weeks later, Percy and Annabeth sit at a cheerful Christmas reunion in New York. They're not part of the laughter, though. They're the reason for it. Sally Jackson smiles widely at the photo of a blond girl with eyes firmly shut, fists tightly balled, and mouth open in an 'o' of terror. Next to her, a green-eyed boy has his arm around her, a panicked look on his face. One of his hands is flying across her left shoulder, and the other grips his hair.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM CAMP HALF-BLOOD! The card reads.
And while it doesn't amuse either of them, it makes great for dinner conversation.
Percy frowns at the expression on his face. He's surprised Mr. Chase has kept it all this time. He thought only his mom was capable of putting him through such passive-aggressive torture. He sighs, and moves on to another one.
"Dad!" she complains half-heartedly in a high-pitched voice. "No. Stop that!"
Despite that, Annabeth can't keep the smile off her face as her dad twirls her around in the living room. Percy watching and all.
"You got into Yale, Annabeth!" He yells in delight. "We have to celebrate!"
"Dad, honestly. I don't know why you're so surprised."
The blond man looks bewildered. "I'm not. I'm just proud of you, Annabeth, that's all."
He blasts a waltz from the stereo, and swirls her daughter around to the music. This time, she cannot stop the laughter that this ridiculous event causes. And while she's too busy enjoying herself, she doesn't notice her boyfriend snap a picture of her and her dad. Flash and everything.
She's not wearing Cinderella's dress, but she looks ten times more beautiful.
He's just stepping closer to get a better look at a small Annabeth on her bike, when he senses someone step into the room. His back straightens as if a broom has been taped to it, and he bites his lip, turning around.
"She's something, alright." Frederick muses. "Probably had the same expression on her face when she saw I'd kept those. But I think they're nice pictures. Something to show to the grandchildren."
A knot twists around Percy's stomach.
Stepping toward the tall black-haired man, Mr. Chase ponders over the unfairness of the situation. It had been his right to Annabeth, had it been not? As her father, he ought to be the number one man in her life, right? Melancholy showers sprinkles on his spine as he realizes he's had the opportunity to have her long enough, but never did. It dawns on him…
Well, it's Percy's turn, and he's just wasted his.
He slaps him on the shoulder, and smiles. It's sad, but sincere. He truly likes the boy.
"Go for it, son. I'm rooting for you."
Percy has only the briefest of moments to look at him in gratitude when a female voice bursts through the door.
"Hey Dad, have you seen my—"
A tall, blond woman saunters into the room, keeping her eyes focused on a very heavy book. Her hair is wet, and she's wrapped in a long, black coat. As she steps into the threshold, though, her gray eyes focus on her father, and then on the man beside him.
She blinks, taken aback. "Percy?"
The demigod smiles crookedly, and as if that simple gesture makes him all recognizable, she smiles, too, dropping her huge copy and hurrying toward him rather childishly.
After a long hug, Annabeth begins to babble, a habit she has picked up from her boyfriend (err, fiancée, hopefully). "What are you doing here, Seaweed Brain? We thought you'd be arriving tomorrow!"
He scratches the back on his head, scrunching up his expression. "I took an early flight out here. It was cheaper so…" He says, attempting to distract her.
But as of the first sentence, she's already distracted enough.
"Flight? Percy, you flew out here?"
He shrugs. "Yeah, well…"
"I'm glad you're alive, then." She punches him playfully on the arm, frowning, because she momentarily forgot he was invulnerable.
Her father nearly spits out his whiskey at her comment, but Percy laughs.
"Thanks. Nothing really happened on the way here, but you know how Zeus is."
He watches her connect the dots. "So…"
"So the weather would be my fault, yeah. I'm sorry."
She laughs briefly and looks around him. "Where's your stuff?"
"Checked into a hotel for the night." He admits, his idea sounding more and more stupid.
"Percy, you do know our 'guest room' is an appellation of origin, right?" She asks as though she's more concerned than usual for his mental well-being.
"That's what your dad told me, but really, Annabeth, I don't ne—"
"Care." She finishes for him, smirking. "See? I finished your phrase."
"Not what I was going to say."
She rolls her eyes and turns to her father, still smiling. "Have you seen my blueprints, dad?"
"The ones of your mother's temple?"
"Yeah. Can't find them, and I swore I left them somewhere in here…"
She twirls, scanning the room. For once, Percy is quicker than her, and his eyes rest on Mr. Chase's desk, where a scroll of blue paper sits next to a little black velvet box.
The little black velvet box.
He catches Frederick's eyes, and darts his own around in a panic, hoping he'd understand. Thankfully, he does, and he artfully slips the ring in his right hand, while taking the blueprints with the left one.
"Are these the ones, dear?" He holds them up. Annabeth sighs.
"Yes. Thanks, dad."
Now that he's out of danger, Percy is able to utter conversation. "Expanding?"
She looks at him. "Yeah. Definitely expanding."
And then, after sighing for the second time, she leans her head on his chest. He hesitantly puts his arms around her, and she closes her eyes. She's dead tired.
"You know," he begins hesitantly, holding her at arm's length and leaning down his head to look at her. "You work too much for your own good."
"That's what we all tell her. Hopefully, she'll listen to you." Mr. Chase laughs. Seeing his queue to leave, he adds, "I'll go, uh….check on dinner and send Matthew for your bags. Where'd you check in, son?"
"The Marina Motel on Lombard Street, sir."
The old man nods. Slapping Percy's shoulder, he gives him a hand shake, placing the little box on his palm. Annabeth's eyes are intent on the blueprints for the time being, and she misses the quiet transaction.
"Very well. I'm glad you're here, Percy. Don't take long, you two. I'm sure my wife has it all cooked up by now. Dinner, I mean."
"We won't, Dad." Annabeth promises, lacing her hand with her boyfriend's.
Percy watches Frederick straighten up, take a deep breath, and walk quietly out of the study. He becomes aware that the man has been quite nice in taking this sudden news. Frederick is sure of Annabeth's answer, and Percy wouldn't blame him if he felt a little baffled.
After all, he's the one who's stealing Cinderella.
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