"Annabeth is going to kill me."

Percy winced at how loudly the words echoed off the concrete walls of the apartment complex. He had intended to drop by Annabeth's apartment to pick up some stuff, but then the set of keys she had given to him had decided to go and vanish.

He checked under the doormat one last time, in case the keys magically reappeared. No such luck.

Maybe it was in the potted plant?

Percy stood up, dusting his hands off on his jeans and turning his jeans the color of lint. The bottom of the doormat wasn't exactly what one could call clean. He bent over to check the plant, but a crash from inside the apartment distracted him. Taking out Riptide, he pressed his ear against the door.

"Give me the remote, damn it!"

Percy furrowed his brow in confusion. The shout was female – and human, too – but who besides him and Annabeth could get into the apartment? He started counting off on his fingers. Monsters. The gods. And –

"After you pushed me off the couch? Are you nuts? HEY!"

And Nico. He dropped by once in a while and looted their fridge of anything sugary and unhealthy, which Percy found rather unfair. He stocked blue jelly beans there for a reason, with the reason being that he actually wanted to eat them.

"This show stinks!"

Now that he listened more closely, it sounded like Thalia. He wondered what she was doing here; the ex-Hunter kind of came and went as she pleased, though how she got into the apartment Percy had no idea. He just hoped that the place wouldn't be completely destroyed after housing both the daughter of Zeus and the son of Hades, or else Annabeth would really kill him.

Maybe telling her his Achilles spot had been a bad idea. After all, her knife was really pointy.

"Too bad! It's not my fault you came on the wrong day!"

"I thought she'd said this Monday, alright? Give it!"


"Now, di Angelo, or I shock your sorry ass."

"My ass is fine, thank you very much."

"How about after I kick it?"

"Go ahead and try."

Another wince-inducing crash.

"I didn't mean it literally! Now look at the mess you made!"

Percy straightened and pressed his eye against the peephole. His attempt at seeing what was going on inside the building failed miserably. Apparently, peepholes were only meant for people on the inside to look out, not the other way around.

"Me? I didn't make any mess. You were the one that tripped over the coffee table. Haha. Klutz."

"Look, Thalia, there's the remote."

"Seriously? Where?"

"Over there. Go fetch."

"You go fetch."

"That has got to be the worst comeback in the history of comebacks."

". . ."

". . . Thalia."


"You have that look."

"Which look?"

"The one like a light socket's going to blow in two seconds."

"Maybe it is. Wanna see?"

It had better not, Percy thought. Then he would have to kill Thalia, which would result in Annabeth killing him, assuming Zeus didn't get to him first, which would result in Poseidon killing her, which would result in . . . a lot of killing. He wondered what it would take to kill gods and goddesses on a godly level.

His ever-helpful brain supplied an image of colorful explosions, and Nico laughing sadistically in the background. Probably eating his blue jelly beans, too.

"One mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi . . ."

"What are you doing?"

"I want to see how long it takes before a light socket actually blows. In the meantime, I'll be watching Nickelodeon."

"It's on Dancing with the Stars."


"So you need the remote."

"Good point. Go get it for me."

"Well, where is it?"

"Right over – oh I see where you're going with this. Never mind, then. I'll just press the buttons on the TV."

A slap and a cuss, muffled through the door. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"Maybe because it involves getting up?"

"I assure you, I am more than capable of getting off my butt and moving across the room to get a remote, or sitting on the couch and eating jelly beans for the rest of my life."

"They're good jelly beans." Duh, Nico, Percy thought. Because they're MY jelly beans.

"Give me some."


"Give me the whole thing."

Percy groaned and facepalmed. It would take him forever to rebuild his cache at this rate. He'd been looking forward to sharing them and a whole other horde of blue candy with Annabeth at Christmas, too. "Great," he muttered. "My dreams are shattered."


Or he could forgive Nico for taking them, Percy decided, as long as he kept them away from Thalia. He didn't know what would happen to the jelly beans after repeated hits from lightning, and he didn't really want to find out. If marshmallows were burnt to a crisp, then the odds of not being turned into sugary goop were looking grim for his jelly beans. His poor jelly beans . . .

"Give them or I break the TV."

Percy sincerely hoped that was an empty threat.

"You wouldn't."

"Oh, I would." There was a definite amount of evilness in that tone.

"It's not even my TV."

"But you're using it."

"You still wouldn't." Nico sounded unreasonably confident.

"Watch me."

The rational part of his brain yelled at him to find the stupid keys already instead of standing there while something got demolished. The other part of his brain decided to ditch, leaving him imagining all the ways Annabeth might castrate him with.

Snap. Crackle. Snap.

That didn't sound promising.

"Hey! You've been sitting on the freaking thing for this whole time!" The fizzling stopped, only to be replaced by thuds and yelps.

"Get off – I'll give you the stupid – get off!" This was followed by a suspicious amount of groaning, and a "Sucker!" of triumph from Thalia.

"Now if only Buffy was still on . . ."

"Who the Hades is Buffy?"

"This isn't working."

"Buffy sounds like a fluffy ball of doom."

"She's a vampire slayer. Why the hell isn't this working?"

"A vampire slayer named Buffy? When did that even air?"

"I dunno. When I was little. Change the channel already! Dancing with the Stars is so stupid."

"You're so old."

"I wouldn't talk. Remind me to tackle you when I get this thing working."

"Kick it."

"You better not kick it," Percy said aloud numbly. A clatter, more thudding and groaning alerted his AWOL senses. He banged on the door hard enough that neighbors began shouting.

"Who is it!" one of the two shouted, probably more out of annoyance than anything else.

"It's a Canadian giant here to bust your heads up! What did you think?"

A pause and some shuffling noises. "You mean Laistrygonian?"

"Just open the freaking door!" Percy hollered.

The door flew open, revealing a disheveled Thalia. Behind her, Percy could see Nico, sprawled on the floor with a bunch of couch cushions, looking equally as messy. The TV was thankfully intact; he could live with a TV that only played ABC, but not a TV that couldn't play at all. Unfortunately, the rest of the room was in shambles.

"Hey, Percy," Nico called, giving him a weak two-fingered wave.

Blinking, Percy registered their appearances. "You guys didn't –"

"Didn't what?" Thalia asked.

He made some vague hand gestures. "You know . . . with the sounds . . ."

Thalia blanched and made a strangled noise, and Nico doubled over like he was going to puke. "Perseus Jackson, get your mind out of the gutter!"

"Ew," Nico added.

Thalia turned around and stomped forward a couple steps, crossing her arms. "Are you saying that I'm –"

"Depends," Nico interrupted, smirking. Assuming he meant yes, Thalia dove for him and the cushions, seizing one and beginning what could turn into a pillow fight that left the apartment in shreds.

"Do I really need to say this?" Percy said, exasperated. "FREEZE, THE BOTH OF YOU!"

Surprisingly enough, they stopped attacking each other, although each wore their own version of an annoyed death glare.

"Ahem," he cleared his throat, which was starting to hurt. "Since Annabeth is going to hunt me down if she finds out I visited with the place like this, which I'm sure she will," he aimed a pointed look at Nico, "you guys are going to clean up. Hey, how did you get in anyway?" he asked Thalia.

She only grinned and pointed to the counter, where his missing key was lying in all its glory. "Even the kelp in your head should be come up with something better than the doormat, Seaweed Brain."