AN: This is probably the longest one shot that I have ever made. Bam. Happy Holidays, demigods!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you might recognize.
Word count: 4, 499.
Stockings are hung with care
As children sleep with one eye open
Well, now there's more than toys at stake
Cause I'm older now but not done hoping.
The first thing you would see when you entered college student Percy Jackson's dorm was a calendar. Just a plain, ordinary, worn calendar. 11 pages were already ripped off and burned, and the last page was also close to the trash can as well. There were 24 crossed out boxes, and when the clock reached twelve, the next box will also meet the same fate.
Because of his quite lowly status, there wasn't much in the room. A decent couch, some chairs, two or three tables, and a slightly uncared-for and unruly stack of books and papers and a small bookshelf. The aforementioned owner of the dorm had gone away, and instead there was a blue-eyed blonde, arms full with a few bags of Christmas decorations. Luckily for his status, it wasn't a challenge to push through starstruck shoppers with the shine in their eyes, just to get some of the more decent ornaments, not that he knew much about those.
He took out most of the objects from the paper bags; seeing as the largest decoration in the form of a small pine tree was already sitting near the window displaying the snowing Manhattan background, leaving only an elegantly wrapped present in one, and a few boxes of takeout on the other. The amount of missed calls and ignored texts on his phone from one irate college student was a sign that he was doing perfectly fine, just as he finished putting up the garlands against the lone bookshelf against the left wall.
Percy was a little bit more than nervous, if there was a word for that. He'd been checking the clock all afternoon, from the first moment he entered the shop to right now. Though the demanding customers and the rush of people for their regular meals at Sally's had changed him from spic-and-span to bedraggled, that didn't mean the butterflies in his stomach was going to go away any time soon.
Luke said he was going to arrive at the airport a little after 3 in the morning, after their shooting for another episode of a TV show that CW was planning on broadcasting next year. The ravenette left the apartment – dorm, flat, what have you – clean enough, but he knew Luke, he could be standing in front of the apartment complex right now, luggage at his feet and a ridiculous hat and wig disguise on. He became jumpy, and mismatched orders once or twice. Luckily, Grover – one of the other waiters – would stop him before he gave a waffle to someone who ordered for a pancake. Lord knows that they didn't need another temper tantrum and sticky syrup on the floor again, especially not at this hour.
Amidst all the screaming and kicking and general fussing around the small two-story diner, the part-time waiter was still quite distracted. Not even the pretty girl in one of the booths with her batting eyelashes and pouting pink lips put his mind on a halt. His brain was wracking for many ideas on what to give his – boyfriend? acquaintance? - …friend when he got back.
Shoot him, he didn't have much of a backbone to do such a stunt yet.
And yes, ladies, Percy was quite in love with his friend. Or whatever you call people who would call over at 1 in the afternoon after a tough quiz – though they are well aware that it's 3am where they are, people who would send over anything and everything coloured blue imaginable that they could find just to get you to smile again, without even a bat of the eyelash.
It was a miracle for such a bond to exist when one is a clumsy, broke college student and one is a debonair actor, not to mention the oceans that were blocking their way to each other.
"Percy, yo, Perce!" a dark hand was being waved in front of him. Grover was in front of him, and the jingling of the keys in the same hand was barely heard over the pandemonium in the place. "Are we going or not?" the African-American almost bleated in impatience, itching to get out of the tacky blue and white uniform they had to force themselves into for most of the winter break.
"Huh? Oh yeah," Percy muttered still in a daze. He put down the spray bottle and the spanner on the unoccupied table, taking his grey coat from the hook, and entered the employees' area, quickly changing out of the blue and white striped outfit to his turquoise shirt and comfortable denim jeans. He put on the woolen gloves in his pockets, obnoxiously blue with some patches of green and white on the edges. He picked up his backpack from his locker, just as Grover clocked them both out. He was given a light yellow envelope as they exited the diner, making way for some jovial families and weary employees on their payroll.
"So, Jackson, have you got a gift for your girlfriend yet?" his coworker asked him, as they both crossed the street to a snow covered lot. There was a lone blue car on the ice-encrusted grass. Percy let out a cloud of fog escape his mouth in a restless sigh. That was right, he covered up Luke as a calculating blonde named Annabeth Chase (who was, in reality, his grandfather's mistress. She was a really nice lady, though, so he paid no mind to that minor detail when he first met her as a kid. She was lovely and gave him sweets sometimes.), he was sure Grover already looked her up on Google or whatever to find that she wasn't even their age.
"Nah, I'm still thinking," he replied, remembering that she loved all the science-y stuff, architecture and all that. "Maybe a set of those tech pens I saw in a bookstore when I passed by it," he shrugged, getting into the passenger's side of the car. "What about you? Got a present for Juniper yet?" he asked, stashing his backpack in the backseat.
Juniper was Grover's girlfriend, and for quite some time now, too. Even before they'd met – which was about four years ago – she'd already been there. She was a somewhat fiery girl, but was sweet, and worked as a gardener in a flower shop downtown.
Grover had a goofy smile on his face – like he always did when someone mentioned the girl – and his hand was still in his pocket. Percy had to clap his hands loudly just to snap Grover out of the trance he'd put himself in.
"Earth to Underwood! Come in, Underwood!" Percy said through his palm, as if through an intercom. The car finally started, after the keys were twisted into the ignition and a small box was deposited on to the dashboard with a light 'plunk'. He took the black velveteen box, feeling it with his index finger. It was already obvious as to what the present was. The car pulled out of the lot to the busy metropolitan road.
"I'm gonna propose to her at Central Park," Grover said, a wistful tone colouring his voice. Percy could hear the smile in his voice even without looking to the side. He whistled lowly, replacing the box on the dashboard.
"Good luck, man," he said with a fond smile, Grover turned to him with a broad smirk.
"Psh. Dude, I don't need luck, I already have the greatest girlfriend in the world," he gloated, slowing down when they hit a red light. Percy had a sneaking suspicion that Grover was tempted to add 'bitch' at the end of that sentence, but he always looked like that somehow.
"Oh yeah," Grover ventured, as the traffic built up around two cars that collided with each other – it wasn't anything out of the ordinary for him, what with his rather stereotypical life in the ghetto. He cut off the engine, eyes plastered on the red and blue lights surrounding the scene. "Who's the blonde dude I saw in one of the pictures in your apartment?"
If Percy had been drinking a soda then, this would be the moment that Grover would've laughed out loud when the fizzy beverage burned through his nostrils and on to the glove compartment. "Oh, that's Luke, Annabeth's brother," he lied effortlessly, though it was a pain to keep his voice steady throughout the excuse.
Grover raised his eyebrow, starting the ending up again to find an alternate route. It was almost five, and he promised Juniper that he'd pick her up at 5:30. "Right," he stretched the syllable. "Like I'm gonna believe that," he stated, skillfully swerving through roadblock after roadblock, all before the next tragic light beamed red.
"What do you expect him to be, then? Her secret lover or something?" he snorted.
"Actually, I'd think that he was your secret lover, Jackson. One of those pictures had a picture of you having eyesex over an intense match of ping-pong," he looked at him again with a raised eyebrow that said 'you are being so obvious, man'. Percy almost choked on his spit at the reply, but he took that remark in stride as best as he could and rolled his eyes.
"Anything for a good scandal these days, huh?" He chided, clicking his tongue. "Whatever, just drop me off at that jewelry store a few blocks from here, alright?" he tried to keep his huff playful rather than fuming. But instead of being put off at this development, Grover was intrigued.
"Ooh!" he squealed like a schoolgirl, which Percy couldn't help but crack a grin at. "I seem to have hit a sore spot, didn't I?" Grover grinned deviously at his passenger. Not even the glare full of venom directed at him made the pearly white grin falter. "Alright, alright," he stepped on the gas – speed limit be damned – to get to the destination.
"Good luck with whoever the hell you're with, alright?" was his last remark before the door was rudely shut at him.
As the car drove off, Percy slung his bag over his shoulder, the envelope now safely tucked away in his backpack. (Contrary to popular belief after the 'Frog Fest of 2009', his bag wasn't riddled with reptiles, barbarians, and the Manhattan zoo.) He didn't head for the boutique, which wasn't that big of a surprise, but instead headed for a store a few doors down.
For a 21 year old to still have an obsession with comic books was still such a complete anomaly to him, but he doesn't judge. But the one he was picking up wasn't just any ordinary comic book. At least, for the person he's giving it to, not really. The dozens of notebooks filled with inked drawings and scribbles of dialogue and backstory was a testament to that. When there were the rare times when Luke wasn't in the hotel room for a few hours, Percy would grab the most he could take in one go, and photocopy them at the nearest bookstore for faxing. It was a taxing job that went on for months on end, but he still hoped that his (well, their) efforts would be worth it.
The Biweekly Oracle was almost like an ordinary comic book store where hundreds of nerds flock to every weekend. Mint condition books line the walls, and some of the rarest posters were laminated and placed side by side in places some kleptomanic kid's hands wouldn't reach.
"Hey Percy," the redhead at the counter greeted him, the bell at the door a signal before the trained line.
"Hey Rachel," he put his backpack on one of the beanbag chairs, striding over to where she was.
Rachel Elizabeth Dare was the kid of Wesley and Janice Dare, two big shot gamblers who ran a business out of the jackpot they won in Vegas after years of wasting money. They urged her to go to a law or business management school to help in cultivating and maintaining their empire. However, she evaded their grasp and became a struggling artist instead.
Needless to say, Percy wasn't complaining.
"So, do you have the special order I asked for?" he asked, placing his hands on the cold glass.
"How could I forget? You've been pestering me about it all year, and I'm not even exaggerating," she replied sarcastically, lifting her head from the sketchbook. He tilted his head a bit, seeing faint blue lines on the paper.
He shrugged. "Not my fault you suggested the idea in the first place," he shot back, watching was she took a finely-tipped pen and started tracing the details in the portrait of what seemed to be a Ferrari with a man wearing sunglasses. Written in green was 'Chariot of the sun, Apollo'. She had a profound love for Greek Mythology, which was pretty odd to him, since she didn't seem like the type.
"Well," she sighed. "I didn't think your friend was aiming for the whole deal, you know," she groaned, stretching a bit since she'd been frozen in that pose for quite a while.
"I didn't either, but it looks like a great side project, anyhow," he countered. She shrugged in return, closing the sketchbook and placing the writing instruments on top.
"Did you come here for any reason other than pestering me? That ignoramus of a mother was more than enough for the week, thank you very much," she complained, taking the book by the spine and placed it inside a drawer under the counter.
"It's almost December 25th, do you have it ready yet?" he asked, a little bit breathy with nervousness. Her eyes widened considerably, even the bit lip was a sign that she was starting to panic.
"Now?" she sputtered, seeming to be holding on to the improbable hope that he wasn't asking for it yet.
"I can't exactly go back here on the 24th, right?" he quipped.
"But, I didn't think you'd need it today!" she stammered. "There's still some parts I have to go over!" he didn't raise an eyebrow at the sudden outburst. The girl could be perfectly calm the first moment, and act like the world was ending on the next.
A lot like she was doing right now, actually.
"Nothing rarer than the first edition, right?" he smiled. She was starting to pace around, fingers tangling together as she struggled to get the key from the belt loop.
"Not when it's full of errors!" she cried, finally finding the right key and twisting. He rolled his eyes; she was always one for dramatics that way.
The comic's cover looked worn, but it wasn't. It displayed an explosion of stars, and what seemed like a cut out drawing of an astronaut. The title was imprinted with shining silver paper, 'Estranged', and gold letters that read 'Luke Castellan' was directly below the humanoid figure. A '1' was obvious on the suit, but that was only if you knew what you were looking for.
On the back was nothing but a barcode that would read 'The Biweekly Oracle' and an 'Arranged and Edited by Ellie Dare and Nate Jameson' in small letters, transcribed to Ancient Greek.
"Do you think he'll like it?" she furrowed her brow, biting her lip in worry. Percy delicately picked up the brand new comic book, as if it would break with one wrong move.
"It's perfect," he whispered, inspecting the entire thing. He suddenly broke out of his seemingly epiphanic daze with a grin and a raised eyebrow. "That is, until he realizes that it's his own brainchild and probably chase whoever made it with a shotgun and a writ of habeas corpus," he remarked dryly, walking over to his bag and placing it in between a World History and Biology book.
"Well, he's always been one for dramatics, right?" she said over his shoulder, and he just rolled his eyes at the irony.
The twinkling of the lights,
As Santa carols fill the household,
Old Saint Nick has taken flight,
With a heart on board so please be careful.
After hours of work, the clock read 3pm, 12 hours exactly before he would "arrive at the airport". Admittedly, he could've finished it hours earlier, had he not taken a break and watched a few western film on the telly. That, and eaten half of what was supposed to be their dinner. His still rumbling stomach demanded that he should go buy groceries and cook his boy- Percy something instead.
But of course, he was quite a stubborn mule when he wanted to.
He had taken up pacing as an exercise to retain his current body weight, but it was mainly he was bored out of his mind waiting for the ravenette. His phone rang after a few more rounds, and 'La Cucaracha' told him that it was one of the twins calling.
"What is it now, Travis?" he huffed, thought the booming music in the background told him more than enough on where one – but both was more likely – of the Stolls were.
"How'd you guess?" came the voice of one surprised Travis Stoll. Truth be told, it was just a lucky guess, but he's not gonna let him know that.
"Caller IDs were made for a reason, dumbass," Luke replied sarcastically, and the person on the other line scoffed.
"Why did you go away so soon? The party was just getting started!" the last word was shouted to the crowd, to which many hoots and hollers followed. He was sure that he busted an eardrum, but he had to tell off the rambunctious twins before one of them get arrested for sodomizing a pony. Again.
"I had an appointment to get to," Luke explained, fishing the door keys from his jacket pocket. He made his way out of the living room and out the door, locking the door behind him.
"In New York City? Unlikely," Travis stated, amidst the loud noises in whatever club they managed to sneak into this time.
"I don't judge you when you go to Vegas for your retail therapy," the blonde threw out innocently, as he walked down the stairs of the apartment complex.
"Point taken," there was a loud screeching sound, and the line suddenly went dead. Knowing them, it was probably the arrival of some famous DJ handling the party or Nicki Minaj decided to drop by or whatever.
He was returned to reality when the phone snapped shut. The grocery store was just across the street and- Shit, he forgot his disguise.
"Power through it, you pansy," he muttered to himself, crossing the street when the amount of cars lessened to an extent, hands in his pockets at all times.
So please just fall in love with me this Christmas
There's nothing else that I will need this Christmas
Won't be wrapped under a tree
I want something that lasts forever
So kiss me on this cold December night.
The sky was turning amber as the sun started sinking into the skyline. Percy was hurrying to run back to his apartment to get his stuff ready for tomorrow and to pick up Luke at the airport, and not to mention get an actual decent night's sleep. Adrenaline was humming through him was he was sprinting the sidewalk, trying to reach home before drug addicts and such start loitering the streets.
With a sigh of relief, he started climbing the stairs to the third floor, where his apartment lay. However, there was something that made him stop in his tracks.
He could smell something wafting through the door. And it didn't smell like anything mom would make, plus she was in Milan with his stepdad at the moment, so that was a total no-go. Butterflies started making their way to his stomach when the next possibility appeared in his head.
A nervous gulp, and then he walked hesitant steps to his door. It was locked, so he had to struggle with the keys – picking them twice off the floor – just to open it.
Once he did, though, that was when he was almost frozen when the door swung open. There were Christmas decorations everywhere, not even the tree was spared. Green, red, blue, and silver was on the tables, the bookshelves, hell, even in the pillows on the sofa! But, there was no one in the living/dining room. He could hear oil sizzling from the kitchen, and he's still hanging on to the hope that it was his mom or something.
He put down his backpack on the sofa, and walked over to the kitchen, heart still pounding in his ribcage.
When he saw the sight in the kitchen, he was surprised. Luke was handling three pans in one try. One was sizzling a few quesadillas; one was boiling water and a few yellow sticks circling in it – presumably pasta, and one was for the tomato sauce. Percy leaned on the doorframe, watching as the actor juggled the tasks that would normally freak him out, especially in the morning.
"I thought you were going to be here," he looked at his watch. "9 hours from now?" he finished, watching as the blonde looked at him, startled.
"Wha- Oh, Percy. Hey," for the first time in months, Percy actually caught Luke off guard. He would've done an internal happy dance had he also not been caught off guard at the older's sudden appearance. Luke looked at the pans that held food then back to Percy. "Well… uh…"
Percy was enjoying this Luke, though, that he couldn't deny. He crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow. His smirk faltered just a bit when Luke went on to drain the pasta and turned off the stove at the same time. The pasta was sent to a bowl, and the quesadillas were put on a small pyrex pan. There was a quick rinsing of the hands, and then the food was in the blonde's hands.
"Cooking me food? Jeez, Castellan, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were courting me or something," Percy commented, as he followed Luke back into the dining room.
"And if I said I was trying to court you? Would you object?" Luke shot back nonchalantly, but that was enough for Percy to be shocked silent. There were a few minutes of awkward stillness, which was cleared up with the clearing of the throat.
"Well, I certainly won't, not sure about everyone else, though," he replied, hoping that the smirk on the other's face didn't mean that he was going to call his Hollywood friends and tell them that Percy Jackson was a gullible idiot who thought he was actually bi.
Luke hummed then, and Percy's nervousness escalated.
"So!" the blonde clapped, before the room could descend again into awkward silence. "Let's eat, shall we?"
A tree that smells of pine
A house that's filled with joy and laughter
The mistletoe says stand in line
Loneliness is what I've captured
Oh but this evening can be a holy night
Lets cozy on up the fireplace
And dim those Christmas lights
"So when did you learn how to cook?" Percy asked after taking a bite of the quesadilla. (He was trying so, so very hard not to moan at the scrumptiousness of the Spanish dish.) "I doubt that Supernatural boot camp teaches you how to cook real food," he teased. Luke blushed then, while he was eating pasta.
"Nah, not even back then," he raised his fork, a piece of sausage impaled on its tines. "I think it started when I started dating, meeting girls and whatnot," he continued, swallowing what he'd eaten.
"What? So it's like a routine for you? Cook her food; make her fall head over heels in love with you, then bam, relationship?" Percy asked, trying hard at keeping the jealousy out of his voice. It was a very arduous task, and he was surprised he still hadn't reacted badly then.
"…Something like that," Luke chuckled at Percy's description of his technique to get girlfriends.
They ate in comfortable silence then, only when they were both seated on the couch, some teen show on the TV that they weren't paying attention to, did the silence break again.
"So, what did you mean about trying to court me?" Percy asked, attention not directed at the two girls in the bathroom stall discussing some scandal or another. His head was filled to the brim with excuses like 'Maybe it's some sort of code for something else?'
Something flashed in Luke's eyes that Percy couldn't describe. The normally cold and calculating ice blue in his eyes darkened to a shade of cobalt. His heart would've just given up at that point, when he realized what look it was.
"Exactly what it would mean," the words were said airily, but the tension in the room increased, like they were said in the opposite manner. Percy turned to look at him with a raised eyebrow, but the blonde only gave him a grin and slung his arm over the other's shoulder.
The words were forgotten when the show ended (they honestly couldn't remember what it was about, their faces were too close to each other to focus on anything other than the other) and one of Luke's movies came on. Percy grinned impishly at this, because he knew he wouldn't hear the end of it if he laughed raucously once the blonde's character made itself known.
"Don't you even dare," Luke shot the ravenette a warning look, noting the grin that was threatening to burst into a full out guffaw. He remedied this with a vice grip on the other's wrist, but loosened it just enough so that it wouldn't cut off his arm's circulation.
So please just fall in love with me this Christmas
There's nothing else that you will need this Christmas
Won't be wrapped under a tree
I want something that lasts forever
So kiss me on this cold December night.
Luke reached for the remote to switch off the television, just as a sleeping Percy Jackson started snoring lightly. The credits rolled for the third film that was shown (After his film was The Devil Wears Prada – which Percy had a secret obsession of, but the boy would castrate him if he told anyone, and then some kid's movie about spies and robot clones of them. Percy slept halfway through it, to which Luke had the opportunity to channel-surf, but what do you expect to watch at 11 at night other than some reruns of outdated shows?), the music was blocked out by his senses when Percy clutched his arm close.
The blonde gave the gesture a fond smile, releasing the grip for just a moment to turn the sofa into a bed. It wasn't an unfamiliar task, seeing as he's had to work under worse conditions for some of the films and shows he's been in. It was tough work to make Percy scoot over when he was done with the chore so that he could get some rest, too.
He put his arm under Percy again, and let the other's head fall onto the crook of his neck. Luke tucked it in under his chin, breathing in the ocean scent of the darkly-coloured hair. He relaxed his head on the backrest. The clock in the kitchen dinged twelve times, and Luke could hear bells chiming outside. He closed his eyes and muttered softly, "Merry Christmas, Percy."
Just as he was drifting off to sleep, he heard a sleep-filled voice murmur in return, "Love you, Luke."
They call it the season of giving
I'm here, I'm yours for the taking
They call it the season of giving
I'm here, I'm yours.