Title: Have You Heard About the Jacksons?
Character/Pairing: Percy/Annabeth/Nico OT3
Summary: The Mist only goes so far. Percy, Annabeth, and Nico, through the eyes of the mortals around them.
A/N: For the contest at lj comm pjo_fic_battle, prompt "established" and straight up warnings for future fic and head!canon and KIDS. So, you know, watch out for what basically amounts to family fic in the end.
I. Hey now, the storm is overhead/I can't believe the words you said/Somehow I missed the point that we were only friends
As soon as she opens the door she can see why Annabeth arranged this. He's tall, dark, and handsome – saying he's her type is an understatement. He's anyone's type.
"Nico?" she asks, smiling brightly and tucking her hair behind her ears. Annabeth said he was young, but good looking, and wow had she delivered.
He gives her a slightly guarded grin in return, but nods. "Abigail, hi. Sorry I'm a little late –"
"No, no." She waves him off, pulling the door shut and stepping into the hallway with him. "It's fine. I didn't even hear the buzzer go off. Did someone else let you into the building?"
"Mmm," he replies. For a moment they are quiet, and then she watches him physically jerk, as if remembering something. "I mean, yeah. Do you like sushi? I know a great place, but we don't get it often, because of Percy's –"
He cuts himself off, and Abigail just blinks at him. "Percy's… ?"
"Allergies." Nico coughs. Annabeth warned her that Nico was a little quiet and strange. Go easy on him, Annabeth had requested, He doesn't go out much, especially with girls.
That was the first tidbit that caught her attention about Annabeth's roommate. The kid is fascinating, and she'd thought that just from the stories Annabeth had told her in class and during meals together. In person, Nico di Angelo is handsome and sweet and not much of a talker – she can tell that he's obviously been coached by Annabeth on how to keep the conversation going.
"So you take classes with Annabeth?" Nico asks as they walk. It's late spring, warm enough to inspire a sweat, but Nico is wearing an old leather jacket and looks perfectly comfortable.
"Just the one," Abigail replies. "I just needed a gen ed to fill out my schedule and Annabeth happened to be in it." In reality, her passion is art, which is why Annabeth tried to pair them up. There is something about putting the world as you see it down on a piece of paper, about finding someone you know staring back at you – she still remembers the way Annabeth smiled when she first said that, and cautiously suggested that she might like her roommate. "Annabeth says you're an artist."
"I was in school," Nico admits. "That's why I moved to New York in the first place. I used to live in Los Angeles near my family… or at camp. That's how I know Annabeth." He pauses to open the door to the restaurant, shooing her in first – clearly something else he's been instructed to do. "Lucky her and Percy were willing to put up with me."
She laughs, and that serves to break the tension. Nico isn't hard to talk to, but it's obvious that there are certain things he's willing to talk about: they run through everything from their favorite artists and works to which museums have the best collections, but it's really easiest when they're talking about his roommates. Nico likes hearing about Annabeth at school, likes talking about her and Percy at home and their silly habits and right smack dab in the middle of the story about the Valentine's Day dinner that nearly destroyed their kitchen it hits her like a ton of bricks.
She is an artist at heart, has made a life and career out of studying people and figuring out how to shade their emotions through a pencil, and in that moment she can see it perfectly clearly in his eyes, reflected so truly she could sketch it and give it right back to him.
Nico is in love with Annabeth.
At first she figured he was making conversation about something they were both familiar with, their common ground, but as they've talked Abigail has become more certain that Nico's hopelessly in love with Annabeth.
Her heart goes out to him. He's living with the girl he's in love with – and her boyfriend, who Annabeth has stated matter-of-factly, more than once, that she has every intention of marrying.
She can't even be disappointed that the date isn't going to work out. At the end of the evening he kisses her politely and offers to call her, and though Abigail invites him to, and tells Annabeth later how wonderful he was, she knows the truth. All Abigail can do is wonder, judging by the gleam in Annabeth's eye as she talks about her roommate, if she knows the same.
II. I've been down this road ten times/I would run, I would hide/From the fears that ruled my mind
Sally Blofis has an old seashell novelty clock hanging in her kitchen. It doesn't really match the black and white décor, but it's a gift that Percy bought for her in Montauk and she displays it proudly smack dab in the middle of the room, openly chuckling at the people who jump whenever a dolphin barks obnoxiously at the top of every hour.
Today, however, she's ignoring the loud tick-tock as she sits at her kitchen table, trying to keep her face impassive as she studies her son, who is steadfastly refusing to meet her gaze. Percy's staring down at his hands as if he's afraid to look at her, and for a moment Sally remembers that little boy, the one who was so afraid every time he had to come home from a different school even though she never held it against him once his entire life. He does his best, she knows, and she wonders if he realizes exactly how proud she is of him and what he's done.
Still, she doesn't believe this is something that can be ignored any further.
"Honey," she says, and she's trying not to sound upset because she's not really, and even more honestly she's not sure it's her place to say anything even if she's also not sure she can ignore it anymore. "Honey, Paul saw you on Christmas Eve."
Percy's head jerks up and she has a half-second to glimpse the panic in his eyes before he pulls his blank face. She almost wants to laugh, because it's just so familiar to her, no Mom, I wasn't in the cookie jar before dinner, but it's not really funny because this is kind of heartbreakingly serious and she wants Percy to know she's treating it as such.
"When?" Percy finally asks, and Sally screws up her courage to repeat exactly what Paul announced, confused and stumbling into the kitchen after dinner while she was drying dishes.
"Percy just kissed Nico under the mistletoe." Paul said, still holding the mugs of coffee he was taking into the room. "While Annabeth watched from the couch."
At first she wanted to blame the wine with dinner, laugh it off, boys will be boys, but then Paul made it clear: it wasn't that kind of kiss.
She always wondered about Nico di Angelo. Percy always had a soft spot for him, always insisted that he be included on holidays and family dinners without offering much explanation about where Nico's family was. She knew he was a son of Hades but Percy never talked about his mother; she never found out how, exactly, he finished school but he'd got into college and joined up with the Dare girl to open a studio. Despite the fact that they're extremely successful, nobody has ever made a peep about Nico moving into his own place even though Sally knows he has to be making money.
Now, all of that seems to make a little bit more sense. She understood since they were kids how Percy and Annabeth worked, how they were joined at the hip, but the way Nico revolved around them always puzzled her.
"Are you mad?" Percy finally asks weakly, staring at her with a worried look on his face. His eyebrows are knit tight, his mouth turned down in a frown and Sally's heart about bursts.
"Of course not," she responds firmly – honestly – but that doesn't mean she's willing to drop the conversation, awkward though it may be. "It's just... you and Annabeth are getting married soon."
Percy toys with a woven bracelet around his wrist, and Sally wonders for the first time where exactly he got it. "Yeah."
Finally she just says it, blurts out her true concern. "You and Annabeth aren't just… using him for a thrill are you?" Percy's eyes go wide, and Sally holds up her hands to stall him. "I know it's not my business, and I'm not trying to make it my business but… you can see it Percy. He loves the two of you. You have to do right by him."
Percy's face twists into a grimace, as if he's swallowed something sour. "It's not like that Mom." Then, rather hopefully, he adds, "You can really tell that? You really think he loves us?"
Oh Percy. "Don't be a Seaweed Brain," she quips like she's heard Annabeth say a million times before. Percy recoils, surprised, but then his expression morphs into a gratified smile. Sally gets up, kisses the top of his forehead and ruffles his hair like he's five again and decides that, for some kids whose lives have been uncertain since the day they were born, straddling a world of danger and myth and a real life that doesn't have time for heroes, they can have whatever bit of normalcy they can carve out.
III. Watcha doing, can I play too/I had a good life today/Mamma said it's alright, you can stay
Her little block is filled with nice people. Seeing as how she's lived there her entire married life, longer than anyone else on the street, Beatrice Zajac keeps a close eye on her neighborhood and has very high standards for anyone who might want to move in. Luckily the houses around her don't come up for sale often, so she can afford to be picky.
Her latest case study is the Jacksons. There is just something off about them. At first, they appear to be everything she hoped for: newlyweds, a young, attractive couple, both with good jobs – an architects and a member of the NYPD. She can barely contain herself. Even their roommate, a younger, dark haired man, works with a successful studio, and as odd as Beatrice finds it for a just married couple to have a roommate, they all seem nice enough. They didn't wreck up the house or keep everyone awake with screaming fights, so she initially resolves to let them go, even as her curiosity is constantly piqued.
She thought she had it figured out at one point – one sunny afternoon she was out on her walk when she spotted the wife and the roommate walking together.
Nico was holding a couple of canvas grocery bags. For a moment she wondered why Annabeth was home on a weekday afternoon, but then she remembered Percy mentioning to her that they'd created an office for Annabeth in the house. The two of them were sidling along, in no obvious hurry.
As soon as Beatrice saw them she knew something fishy was going on. Nico was using his free hand to touch Annabeth - any part of Annabeth: the stray curl across her cheek or brushing his fingertips down her arm - and Annabeth, still wearing that pretty newlywed glow, was giving Nico a smile that Beatrice had previously thought was reserved only for her husband.
As they turned to disappear into the house Beatrice watched as Nico dipped to unlock the gate, how he crowded Annabeth against it with his body and allowed his lips to press into the curve between her neck and her shoulder. Annabeth gave him a sly look in return, and Beatrice felt triumphant, sure she had finally found out what was bothering her so – Annabeth was carrying on with the roommate, and right under her husband's nose!
She spends a week or two in a righteous rage, ready to say something and only barely holding her tongue every morning as they collect the paper in unison, until the night the thunderstorm knocks out their power.
There is a powerful storm going on, strong enough to make the roof groan and the floorboards shake under her feet. Even through the racket of the storm, however, Beatrice hears a commotion and goes to her window to look.
The street is dark, but she swears she hears the screaming of bending metal, the crash of breaking windows. She assumes it's a car accident, but as she looks outside, all she sees is Percy and Nico, strolling down the center of the street, illuminated softly in blue by something in Percy's hand. They're both dressed strangely, in metal chest plates, and Nico's smiling, his arms up and his steps bounding. To Beatrice it looks almost like he's doing a victory dance, and while she can see that Percy is much more subdued, the shadows playing on his face suggest that he's smiling at Nico all the same. His gait is much more casual, and she cranes her head and squints her eyes to look closer. They're both laughing, and smiling, though there's something dark staining Nico's jeans and every time he lifts his arms she thinks she can make out a blade – though there's no way, that can't possibly be right. Men don't carry swords anymore, but sure enough, she would swear on the Bible that Nico's hoisting an ink black blade up against the moon-lit night.
They're passing directly in front of her house when Nico dances in front of Percy, hand trailing over him the same way she witnessed it trailing over Annabeth's shoulder just a few weeks ago. Percy rolls his eyes and puts a hand on his chest, and suddenly Beatrice's heart speeds up, because she's sure she's about to witness a confrontation, when suddenly Nico rockets forward, grabs Percy by the angle of his jaw, and tugs him into a kiss.
For the first time in her very long life, Beatrice Zajac doesn't have any words.
Percy is the one who breaks it up, shoving Nico away and catching his neck, bowing him over into a noogie, and together they stumble forward back towards their home. Their nice home in their nice neighborhood, where Percy's wife is waiting.
And once again Beatrice doesn't know what to think about the Jacksons.
IV. Got a conscience on hold and the road reels me in/I don't know where I fit/I don't know where I fit
Dr. Chase's flight is delayed out of Pittsburgh, so it's dark by the time he lands at JFK. Percy's waiting there, alone, with the car already warm and a smile as bright as the city itself.
"Sorry," he apologizes. "We didn't' want to pack everything up just for the ride to the airport."
"It's fine." Dr. Chase assures, watching as Percy hefts his suitcase into the car. "Babies need a lot, don't they?"
"I had no idea!" Impossibly, Percy's smile grows bigger at the mention of the baby. "Totally worth it though. Wait til you see him."
His voice has the same joyful quality that it carried the previous Monday, when Dr. Chase was woken out of a restless sleep around three in the morning by the phone. "It's a boy!" Percy was almost shouting. "You have to come see him!"
Indeed, Percy's tone doesn't change much the entire drive back to their home, and as he navigates the snowy roads, Fred hears almost every conceivable detail about his new grandson, from how he was sleeping ("Whenever he feels like.") to how he was eating ("If it's Annabeth, he's awesome, but if it's me or Nico it's like he can tell.") to how he burped ("Like a champ!"), and as obnoxious as it must have sounded to someone who wasn't family Fred can't help but be happy for the kids, having found this.
He simply nods throughout, letting Percy talk – it's really refreshing to hear him so excited. In fact, the only thing Fred finds slightly curious is the constant mention of their roommate Nico. He's only met the boy once, when he flew out with Percy and Annabeth before taking off for LA, but he seemed nice. Annabeth has mentioned that he didn't have much family, so they were protective of him, but nonetheless Fred still finds it odd that not only is he still living with Percy and Annabeth now that an infant is in the house, he appears to be getting up in the middle of the night with the baby as often as Percy is.
Percy doesn't even give him time to get his suitcase out of the trunk, instead shooing him up the icy steps and into the house, stripping him of his coat and shouting, "Annabeth! Nico! I'm home! Your dad's here!"
It takes only a minute for Annabeth to appear on the steps, clad in loose, comfortable clothing, with Nico only a step behind her. She's carrying the baby, swaddled tightly on her shoulder, and the first thing Dr. Chase notices about his grandson is the abundance of dark hair sticking straight up on his head.
"Percy, stop yelling!" Nico scolds, a hand at Annabeth's back. "We were trying to put him down for a nap!"
"Shut up!" Percy retorts, watching as Annabeth steps down and kisses her father. "We've been waiting to see him!"
"We?" Annabeth asks, smiling at him, gently handing the baby to her father. He doesn't even hear Percy's response, instead focusing on his grandson as his daughter leads him into the living room.
As he's settling onto the couch he hears Percy exclaim, "Hold on, I need my camera!" and the sound of someone stomping up the stairs.
Nico sits in the armchair beside the couch as Annabeth crowds in next to Fred. "He's absolutely lovely, Annabeth," he murmurs, watching as Annabeth reaches to stroke the dark strands of fuzzy hair peeking through the top of the blanket.
A barrage of clicking signals Percy's return, but Annabeth doesn't even look up. "He better be beautiful, he's a handful," she laughs, and somewhere in the background Fred can hear Percy giving Nico directions about how to smile or pose. "Percy and Nico have been so helpful though."
Fred glances up at Nico, still sitting close to them in the armchair, and can't help casting an appraising eye on him. Fred knows he lives far away, and he knows he isn't as involved in Annabeth's life as other fathers are, but he always assumed she was living quite happily with Percy and Percy alone. But there is absolutely no mistake about it – Nico is looking at the baby with the same exhausted happiness that Percy and Annabeth both have reflected on their faces; even more than that, he's looking at Percy and Annabeth with a kind of vulnerable softness, that intimate expression you only wear with people you love.
The baby squawks in his arms, drawing his attention away from Nico and back down to the chubby little face attempting to focus his eyes. Fred realizes with the kind of surety that strikes you right in the gut, that whatever arrangement has been reached in this house, his opinion on it is not invited.
"You know," he says, tracing one finger down the infant's nose, blinking at the familiarity of it, "even with all this hair, Annabeth, I think he looks just like you."
V. Say you're too young to die/Some luck can mend and bend your mind/Or just make you blind
"But Dad, I promise – !" Officer Nicholas Riley, at the sound of his partner's young son trailing into the office after his father, immediately cranes back from his desk to greet the boy. There has been some kind of big issue at school today; Percy bolted from work to go pick Theo up. Judging by the end of the phone call that Nick overheard, they've sent their younger boy to the hospital straight from school.
The expression on Percy's face could curdle milk. He nods at Nick, his eyebrows drawn tight. "Annabeth's coming to pick him up, but Nico went to the hospital with Elliott."
"It's no problem," Nick assures him, tilting back further to smile at Theo and wave. A lot of guys would have given their partners a hard time, bringing their kid into the office, but this is a special circumstance. And Nick likes the Jackson boys – they're smart and outgoing little boys, always polite to Nick and curious about the world. If not for the unruly dark hair both of them proudly wear, they both would be the spitting image of their mother – something Percy commented before was "probably for the best." Nick raises his eyebrows. "Is Elliott okay?"
"Just some stitches," Percy answers shortly, beckoning Theo behind him.
Theo looks utterly miserable as he follows his father and settles in the chair next to his desk, slinging his backpack to the floor. "Dad," he insists. "Everyone kept yelling at us, but I'm telling you, it was this big old monster lady bird thing!"
"We'll talk about it at home Theo," Percy says, his tone short and clipped. Nicholas has worked with Percy Jackson for years, has known him since he was fresh-faced out of the Academy, and if there is one thing he knows, it's that he wouldn't argue with Percy Jackson when he has that sort of tone in his voice. Then again, he's completely positive that Percy Jackson is some kind of messenger from God, some kind of angel sent to New York City, because he's seen Percy Jackson do things that should kill a normal man and there is exactly no chance that Percy Jackson is a normal man.
Theo, evidently, hasn't caught on yet. "Dad, they wouldn't even listen! She had claws and was shrieking at us! If Elliott hadn't hit the window we would have – and Dad said –"
"Theo I promise," Percy reaches out and puts his hand on his son's head, ruffling the hair, "I promise, we will talk about it at home once Mom and Dad are there."
Sometimes it still takes Nick by surprise, the fact that both Percy and Nico are called Dad. Not as often as it used to though – the relationship between the Jacksons is one of the worst kept secrets in the department, and only by the sheer force of being Percy freakin' Jackson does Percy prevent people from commenting too much upon it.
"Dad said it was a harpy." Theo insists, and Percy lets out an annoyed grunt and shuffles through his paperwork. "Dad you shoulda heard it screaming and, and snapping at me and Elliott had that knife Uncle Tyson gave him, and –"
"Theo," Percy says softly, gently, and despite the fact that Nick is staring determinedly at his computer monitor, he can practically feel Percy's eyes glancing at him. "I know what it was. We'll talk about it at home."
It's a strange situation with the Jacksons. Both of the boys look at Percy and Nico as fathers, which doesn't bother Nick much on account of both of them seem to be sweet, well adjusted boys. What he finds strange at this point is that Percy's not really disregarding all the monster and weapons talk. Nicholas has raised children, is familiar with the way children talk and make up stories, having spent years curbing the imaginations of his own. Percy takes it way more seriously than he ever did; he wonders if Annabeth and Nico indulge the boys in the same way.
He flips through his paperwork, makes it look like he's focusing on his task, but then he opens up his browser and goes to Google. He looks at Theo out of the corner of his eye, sitting there staring at his hands, kicking his legs dejectedly, and then types H-A-R-P-Y into the search engine.
When the results come back he raises his eyebrows and wonders, yet again, where exactly the Jackson family came from.