I thought of this sometime last Friday. I think it was during French class... Anyways, I wrote this today and it's getting late, so on to the story!
Disclaimer: If I were Rick Riordan... I don't think I'd have a disclaimer.
"Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!" Mira said, tugging on Percy's leg. He looked down at her, from a pile of very long essays to correct. She had brown pigtails on the back of her head, the typical cute-little-toddler-girl clothes made the green of her eyes come out, and she looked pouty right then.
"What's wrong, Mira?" He asked.
"It's raining outside and I'm bored and I want a Popsicle and there's a storm outside and there's nothing to do."
"You want a Popsicle?"
"No! There's nothing to do!"
"Okay, well, umm…"
"Can you play a game with me?"
"Umm… Mira I'd love to, but I promised these corrected for tomorrow."
"Did you pinky swear?"
"Then you don't have to do it." Mira said. Percy smiled.
"I wish kiddo."
"Can you play a game?"
"But I'm bored!"
"I know but-"
"Please, please, please, please, please, please, please?" Mira begged. Percy rolled his eyes.
Okay; Mira was stubborn as Hades and if she was bored she'd bug him until she wasn't. He couldn't have that because that would be forever and it was hard enough to correct assignments without a 5 year old pulling on the hem of his pants and begging. He had to get Mira busy or the whole 'work' thing was going to flunk.
"Okay; I'll play a game with you, but I have a very important question first." Percy said. "If you answer my question, then I can play with you. But until then…"
"What's the question?" Mira asked.
"I need to know how many raindrops fall from the sky." He said.
"All of them?"
"That's right; all of them."
"But nobody can count that!" Mira objected.
"Hey, if you can't do it…" Percy said. It was like sending out a fish line, and wait for it, in 3, 2, 1…
"I can do it!" Mira said before running to the window, nearly tripping over herself.
Percy watched in downright shock as she perched herself on the windowsill chair and counted. That worked?
"Hey, I'm home," Annabeth said walking into the apartment, unbuttoning her long coat as she walked, and hanging her keys on a peg, dropping her bag on a table.
"Hey," he replied. She put a hand on Percy's shoulder and he turned to kiss her back.
"The pile of doom looks smaller," she offered, pointing to the assignments.
"So has my sanity." Percy said.
"Oh…" Annabeth said. "Just the essays or Mira too? Where is she anyways?"
"Counting." Percy said.
"Mommy," Mira said from behind Annabeth's legs, where she'd decided the best cowering spot from the two strange men was.
"Mira, Mommy's busy." Annabeth told her. "Percy can you take her?"
"I'm part of this discussion too," Percy said.
"Right, umm…" Annabeth thought, picking up Mira and holding her to her hip.
"Children are such a bother." Mr D said, crinkling his nose.
"Then what's cabin 12 for?" Percy asked.
"Percy." Annabeth reproached. "Chiron, what's cabin 6 doing right now?"
"Don't bug your siblings; I'll take care of this." Percy said. He tilted Mira's chin up to look her in the eyes. With eye contact, Percy swore Mira could understand anything from quantum physics to the definition of the word 'unconstitutionally'.
"You see the bit of grass all around this bit of porch?"
"I need to know how many pieces of grass there are all around here. Think you can do it?"
"So you can't?"
"Yes I can!" Mira said. The pride of a 5 year old…
She wrestled with Annabeth to get back to the ground and ran off the porch.
"Is that what you've been sending her to do?" Annabeth said. "Counting?"
"She'll be good at math." Percy shrugged. "Anyways Chiron, what were you saying?"
A blizzard was blowing outside. Well, okay, not a blizzard; but it was a lot of snow for a until-then snowless New York, and Annabeth and Percy were calling it a mini-blizzard. It was the best they'd had, all year and it was making smiles at the kitchen table where they were wrapping presents for the twenty one million various cousins, mortal aunts and uncles, friends and of course daughter.
"I think I get why Olympians don't give gifts often," Percy muttered. "Why so many of us?"
"Percy!" Annabeth laughed. She stuck a self-adhesive bow in his hair.
"Hey!" Percy stuck a 'To: Malcolm' sticker on her nose and they were both laughing and gluing random things on each other, or ducking them, when a small voice called 'Mommy? Daddy?'
"Styx- she can't see her present, Santa's supposed to be doing this!" Annabeth said.
"I'll keep her out of here," Percy said, ripping various price tags off his nose and sprinting to the hall. He caught Mira and spun her around.
"Whoa, why are you up Mira?"
"Santa Clause hasn't come yet, has he?"
"I don't know, I'm not Santa am I?" Percy said.
"But I can't sleep because Santa Clause might come and I want to meet Santa really bad."
"Santa only comes when little girls sleep." Percy said.
"Well I can't sleep! And if Santa doesn't come you won't get your presents either!" Mira said.
Oh boy, she just had to get the logic genes which meant that Percy had to deal with the logic according to a 6 year old?
"Look, you need to fall asleep first. Because Mommy and Daddy have to make sure you're sleeping before we can sleep to. So really you're just retarding everything by staying up."
"What does retarding mean?"
"That doesn't matter now. You have to sleep."
"But I can't sleep!"
Bore her. Bore her out of her little-big mind. Percy thought.
What was boring? None of the things he thought were boring applied to children of Athena and Percy was pretty sure Mira was already going down that road. But maybe just maybe at 11:30 at night on Christmas Eve…
"You know what's going on outside?"
"Okay, other than Santa. There's a mini-blizzard." Mira gasped.
"Will Santa get lost!" She feared.
"No, don't worry, he has Rudolph as a beacon for that. But you know what would help him?"
"What?" Mira asked eagerly. Holly Hephaestus- how gullible could a six year old be? Hopefully for Percy right now; very.
"If he knew exactly how bad it was in New York. So you should count all the snowflakes outside." Percy said.
"But how will Santa know how many I counted?" Mira asked, tilting her head.
"Umm… Well, he goes around the world in one night, so he's magic right?"
Percy put Mira down on her bed and she got up to her window and started counting, her nose smooched against the glass.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice, shame on…
"What did you tell her?" Annabeth asked when he came back in the kitchen.
"I gave her a top secret mission to help Santa." Annabeth started laughing.
"Hey don't laugh, it worked!" Percy said. Annabeth laughed harder and she said,
"It's not just that, you've still got a bow in your hair." She laughed. Percy took it out and put it behind her ear.
"It actually looks good on you," Percy said. "Two of my favourite things in the world; you, and Christmas."
"You're such a flirt." Annabeth said, leaning across the table and kissing him.
"But it works." She said. "And so does the counting for some reason."
Mira had fallen asleep on the windowsill when Percy went to check on her at midnight. There was still fog from her breath on the window from her breath, but that would in no way mean she wouldn't be up at six in the morning. Some kind of internal clock programed every child in the world to wake up early on Christmas.
Percy picked her up and tucked her in, pulling some blue sheets over her, with orange and blue butterflies over Mira. Her hand wrapped itself around the corner of the pillow and she rolled onto her side in her sleep. He watched her for a few seconds.
"Merry Christmas, Mira. That makes 6."
"Dad?" Mira asked. She turned to look at Percy. She'd changed a lot. Her hair was long brown curls like a princess, and she had a splash of freckled across her nose. Her eyes glittered sea green, and she was just another young teenager now; jeans, a tank top and her cell phone with unlimited texting and whatnot in her pocket.
"What?" Percy asked.
"How come they can duplicate sheep and transfer organs, but nobody knows how many stars there are? Not even in the closer atmosphere of the planet?" Mira asked.
"I don't know, maybe you should count them." Percy said. She made a face.
"Yeah right," she said crossing her legs and turning to look back up again.
Yeah; she really had changed a lot.
Percy knocked on the door.
"Mi?" He asked. Nobody answered.
"I'm coming in," he warned. 1 Mississippi… 2 Mississippi… 3 Mississippi… Okay, fair warning.
He opened the door and she was buried under her butterfly comforter, her face in her pillow. She hadn't even taken off her neon converse or school hoody before crumbling on her bed.
Percy closed the door behind him and sat down at the foot of her bed. He touched her ankle.
"It's okay, you know. He didn't deserve you, Mi. Not if he's making you cry." Percy said. Mira straightened up, and shoved some sobs back down her throats, sounding like she was choking on them.
"I don't get it Dad, what did I do wrong?" She asked.
"Nothing," Percy promised.
"Well why can't I even count the number of times I've cried because of him, or because of Mom getting hurt, another idiot, the mean girls, or because of anything?" She said, tears streaking her cheeks.
"You know what you can count, Mi? The number of pieces your heart broke into. Then I'll punch the life out of him once for each piece."
Mira let out a sobbing laugh. She threw her arms around Percy's neck.
"Thanks Dad," Mira said. "I can always count on you."