Title: The Art and Science of Motherhood
Summary: Snapshots of Sally and Poseidon's relationship over the years.
AN: This fic was written for the Veritas Winter Fic Exchange, to be more precise, for madeliiine. Her prompts were: making snow-angels, freshly baked cookies, and coffee.
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, or the Kane Chronicles. They all belong to Rick Riordan.
Fate and Destiny truly have mysterious ways of working. The smallest of coincidences, the simplest of meetings, could change the very pattern of Life's fate of every single mortal balances over the simple, curious thing called 'choice'. That power- the power of free will- that is what defines human as human. The choices that humanity has made- personally or as a collective- shapes it into what it is. Two certain people meeting at the right place and the right time can be the catalyst of great enlightment. But more often than not, they don't. Maybe one of them caught a cold. Maybe the other was caught in a traffic jam. So many untaken opportunities, wrong choices, roads never travelled. What is not, and never will be.
But I digress. This isn't what this story is about. If you are looking for a story about the effect caused by a certain butterfly, then you'll be disappointed. This isn't a story about different choices and the results thereof. This is a story about a facing the consequences- for all choices must have consequences- of a choice that can never be undone.
Now, now, don't give me that look. I'm just the storyteller, after all. The story isn't mine to change. I'm just retelling the story as it happened. I'm just the mouthpiece for a power higher than your puny mortal mind can comprehend.
Oh? What's that? You want to know my name, huh? How rude of me for not introducing myself earlier! I go by many names, but you can just call me… Talespinner. Hmm, yes, that sounds like a nice name. Call me Talespinner.
Anyway, let's just start the story.
Most couples in love would describe their first meeting as a magical thing- love at first sight, breathtaking beauty, instinctively knowing that the other was their soulmate.
If Sally Jackson could describe the first time she met her first boyfriend in one word, it would be wet. A sentence-long description would be 'some idiot spilled hot coffee all over my blouse'. To be honest, it really didn't set a good precedent for future romantic encounters. In any case, Sally and Poseidon's first meeting was far from nice or romantic.
Of course, it was rather hard to call being chased by monsters and soaked wet by a gigantic wave romantic. But then again, Poseidon was always one for unorthodox encounters.
"Hey, babe," he said awkwardly, becase for all of his milennia as a god, Poseidon had never mastered the art of talking to women who weren't his family, enemy, or lover. Not that he'd had much of the last, mind you, Zeus was the womanizer of the family, not him. There was one time when Zeus had turned himself into a bu- err, never mind. I don't think you'd appreciate the details. Poseidon was just trying not to break the Oath. Even though he personally thought it was minotaur dung, because everyone knew that prophecies always came to pass and there was no way to stop it and- err, where was he again?
Ah, yes. ADHD ran in the family, apparently. Then again, maybe existing as a divine being for so long had inadvertently caused brain damage?
"I'm sorry for all of this," he said apologetically. "Err, I have some towels and a bathroom you could use?" The seabreeze abruptly stilled, following its lord's feelings.
For her part, Sally Jackson was not amused. She had been having such a nice stroll on the beach, feeling the sand crumble beneath her bare feet, and the cold waves occasionally brushing. And then this man had came, chasing a bunch of… dog-things (she would later recognize them as telekhines, after some painstaking research in the mythology section of the library), nearly getting her mauled apart, and had gallons of seawater dumped over her in his haste to get rid of them. But her parents had always taught her to be polite and courteous- and really, angering such a powerful man probably wasn't such a good idea. Being one of the few mortals who could see through the Mist, she'd seen him for exactly what he was, though not who he was. Frankly, the power rolling off of him scared her.
"It's okay, I don't want to be a bother," she said through a tight smile. "I- uh, rented a cabin not far from here." Lies. Sure, she had a change of clothes in her bag, but it was half a mile away- she'd ran away quite far in fright at the sight of the telekhines.
She should have known that this was not a good day to be visiting the beach. Drat.
"Oh. Would you mind if I escort you there? After all, this is my fault- again, I'm so terribly sorry, I'm not usually this careless." he blabbered. Sally felt her cheeks heat in embarassment. Was he- was he trying to be some kind of gentleman? She shook her head vigorously.
"No, no, that wouldn't be necessary, Mr….?"
"Thale. Nate Thales," Poseidon hastily picked up an alias. 'Thalassa' meant sea in ancient Greek- Thales was an appropriate enough surname for a sea god.
"Right. That won't be necessary, Mr. Thales, I really don't want to impose on you. I'll be fine on my own," Sally tried to avoid any further contact with this… being.
"No, I insist," Thales, or at least that was the name he claimed for himself, pressed. It might seemed like outdated chivalry, but like most immortals he tended to have a hard time catching up with modern culture. It just changed so damn fast, compared to their millennia of existence.
"I'll be fine, Mr. Thales." Was it just his imagination, or did she sound rather exasperated? She put her hands on her hips. "I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself."
"Of course you are. I'm just- look, I'm sorry, okay? And this is the least that I can do," Poseidon said, a bit irritated now, using his I'm-just-trying-to-be-nice-to-you-why-won't-you-listen voice. Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a storm was brewing.
"Well, I just- I don't need your help, Mr. Thales. As I said, I can take care of myself. I'm a grown woman, not a simpering child."
Poseidon raised an eyebrow. "You're shivering and soaked wet to the bone, Miss. If you don't get yourself dry soon, you'd catch a cold, or worse, hypothermia."
Oh, Poseidon knew about hypothermia, of course he did. It had been the bane of several of his children- who failed to realize that it was the cold, not the water, that killed many of Titanic's passengers.
Sally clenched her teeth, which was a hard thing to do as they were clattering against each other. "Fine, then. But don't expect me to stay long."
"Good morning, honey," Poseidon greeted his lover. Brown eyes blearily opened and searched sleepily around the room. It looked like… well, however like a room after a night of drunken sex looked like. She sat up, wrapping the blanket around her naked form.
"Ugh. Remind me to not drink vodka ever again," she groaned. Her head was killing her in its incessant pounding.
Despite their horrible initial meeting, the two of them had gotten along swimmingly, as Poseidon would say. Their second meeting had led to a first date, then to another one, and another, and another. Before they knew it, they were madly in love with each other. Poseidon had a feeling that Aphrodite had a hand in that, he'd been on the receiving end of knowing looks from both her and Eros. But it didn't bother him, really, because Sally was on all accounts a wonderful woman, and he knew he'd have fallen for him no matter what.
In another, kinder, universe that was not dissimilar to ours, but with less gods and more love, Nate Thales would be happily married to Sally Jackson. They would have a normal, mortal son who would get into some trouble at school- but then again, don't all boys do?- a perfect, model student daughter, and a modest, white picket fenced house that would never, ever be destroyed by creatures of the Underworld. But as I've told you before, this isn't that kind of story.
"Oh my god. Is that bacon I'm smelling?" Sally asked, smelling the delicious aroma in the air. "Mmm, have I told you how much I love you recently? It smells, mmm, heavenly."
Hey, you don't live for several millennia without picking up some cooking skills. Triton, on the other hand… well, let's just say, his experiments in the kitchen can get a bit… explosive.
Poseidon chuckled. "It's 'gods', my dear. And of course I know how much you love me. You screamed it all night long."
Sally stilled, blood running out of her face. "Did you- I mean, did we…" she hesitated, not quite sure how to continue. "We really had sex, huh? I don't remember much of it." She nibbled on her bottom lip nervously. What would her parents say if they lived to see her now? Their only daughter getting drunk and sleeping with a god? They'd probably be disappointed in her. They wouldn't have say it outright, of course, but her mother would've sent her sad looks, and her father would've glared and frowned at her. As a child, she'd never disobeyed her parents, mainly because their disappointment hurt more than ther punishment. And now…
"Yeah." Poseidon watched Sally carefully. He knew that Sally was- had been a virgin, of course. That it had been her first time sleeping with another. And he knew that it had not been a good idea, meeting here, staying in a cabin together, bringing drinks, none of them. And- and- that blasted Oath! Oh, how was he going to tell Sally about that?
He would never regret loving Sally- never, but how was he going to tell her that their child- for in all of history, there was never a record of gods failing to impregnate mortals, with or without consent- would be damned by all of Olympus?
"Sally, there is something I-" Sally jumped out of bed and staggered across the room before vomiting out the contents of her stomach. "Sally!"
"Ugh. Stupid hangover. You're a bad, bad influence on me, Poseidon," she complained. He laughed nervously. He'd heard people say that all too often.
"You know you love me."
"I do?" Sally asked sarcastically, before vomiting again.
"You really can't hold your liquor, can you, love?" he asked as he continuously rubbed circles on his lover's back. "How many shots did you drink before getting stone drunk? Three? Four?"
"Two and a half," Sally muttered. "Ugh. I really need something to get the taste out of my mouth."
"Coffee?" Poseidon offered innocently, holding out a mug that appeared out of nowhere. Sally gave him a blank look.
"That's a pit of sticky black tar. You call that coffee?" she asked.
"Black Blood of the Earth, actually. Concentrated coffee. Lots and lots of cafeine. Apollo likes to drink it whenever he needs to stay awake long enough to drive his chariot across the sky, which is every other day," he joked.
"Mmm. You know I don't like coffee, Poseidon."
"Tell you what, why don't you go and take a shower while I get us some breakfast?" he asked.
Sally nibbled on her bottom lip again. "Sounds nice."
Poseidon cooked some breakfast. Fried sausages and eggs, toast, and a nice big omelette for the both of them. He hummed and sang a few off-key songs as he did, which was probably why he never heard the front door creak open.
Sally never returned to that cabin.
Sally stood in the locked toilet room, staring at the seemingly innocent strip of paper.
White. Two pink strips.
Oh God. Oh gods.
She left the room in a daze and slumped on the coach, curling herself into a small ball. Her fingers brushed lightly across her belly. A tingling feel rushed through them, like static electricity.
A child. She had a child.
Sally knew next to nothing about child-rearing, or even babies in general. She knew that they were fragile and needed to be taken care of, that they were loud and expensive and messy. And she had very little money, even to support herself, so the only logical choice was giving him up for adoption or- or- Sally couldn't bring herself to even think of abortion- but…
A child. She had a child, and if there was anything her parents had taught her, it was the importance of family.
Sally, you know that you're the best thing to happen in our life, right?
Children are like angels- they're pure, innocent, and they're a gift from God
She hadn't had family for a long time. Her parents had died when she was a teenager, and her uncle not long after. The closest thing to a family she had was Poseidon, but she knew that he would eventually leave her. Mortals age and die. Immortals… didn't.
She looked at the pregnancy test strip again. She couldn't get her hopes up, it could just be a false positive, and there was always a possibility of miscarriage along the line.
What am I supposed to do now? She looked up at the ceiling. "Poseidon? Can you hear me? I'd really like some help right now." Sally jerked as she felt someone, or something enter the apartment, and turned around.
"Sally. We need to talk."
Well. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what Poseidon wants to say, right? If you're here, then you're probably already well-acquainted with the story of Percy Jackson, his parentage, and the oath his father made. I don't think I need to tell you about Sally and Poseidon's argument. Words were exchanged that day that both parties would regret later. And as much as I exist as a storyteller, I am not a gossipmonger. This is their affair, and theirs alone.
Sally sipped from the mug in her hand and stared at the large bottle standing on her kitchen counter. A pair of strong arms circled her waist from behind, and she allowed herself to melt into them. For a moment it was just them, in the kitchen of a ratty apartment, a woman barely into her twenties in the hug of an immortal, ancient god.
Really, this was starting to sound like a cheesy romance novel.
"I really am a bad influence on you, huh?" a low baritone voice asked. "First alcohol. Now coffee."
Sally shifted in her ex-lover's hug. "Let go of me, Poseidon," she said. He complied.
"Are you really sure that you should be drinking this much coffee?" Poseidon asked. Sally scowled.
"No, not really, but that's none of your business, Poseidon." Sally crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Now, if you mind, please leave my apartment. I still have work to do."
This time, he didn't comply. "What, I can't see the mother of my son?" he demanded.
"No," Sally shook her head. "You do know that you're endangering him just by being here, right? I'm not letting you put him in danger."
"Zeus doesn't know that I'm here."
"But he will, if you stay here!" Sally almost snarled. "I've had enough gods to last a lifetime, Poseidon. Please. Just leave me alone."
He did as he was pleaded, leaving behind a woman. A woman who was cracked, but not broken.
"Mommy, mommy, look, I can tie shoes!"
Sally gave a passing glance at her son's feet. It was messy and clumsy, but it would do. At least, he wouldn't be tripping over his own feet. "Very good, Percy. That's my smart boy." Then she looked at his shirt. "Percy, why are you still wearing your pyjamas? Wear your shirt, honey." Sally sighed and bent down to unbutton it.
"No! I can do it myself!" Percy protested. He clumsily started to unbutton his shirt, rather slowly. His face scrunched up in frustration as he struggled to do the task, his fingers lacking the dexterity to do it properly.
"Percy, we have to hurry up. You don't want to be late on your first day at school, do you?" Or rather, daycare. Sally had used up all of the savings she accumulated since she was young. She needed a job with a better salary, a full-time one. It made her feel slightly guilty, leaving her son alone, but she could trust the people there. Well, they were better than the previous one. She shivered at the reminder of her precious son being so close to a snake. A snake! Well, at least the staff at the new daycare had assured her that something like that wouldn't happen.
"No! I can do it!" Percy wailed angrily as Sally tried to button her shirt for him. "No!" he stomped his feet, and Sally could feel the tremors he made. It was worryingly strong.
"Oh, for the love of- Percy, we need to catch the bus, honey. We're in a hurry."
Apparently, 'bus' was the magic word. He looked up at her with wide sea green eyes that was so reminiscent of his father.
"We go ride bus?"
She felt bad for thinking that way, but for once she was thankful for her son's ADHD. "Yes, Percy, we're riding a bus."
"Bus go choo-choo?" he asked innocently. Sally smiled tightly at him.
"No, Percy. Trains go choo-choo. Bus goes vroom-vroom," she corrected.
"Yay! Let's go, mommy!"
Sally could only smile and shake her head at Percy's cheerfulness. "Come on then, let's get you dressed properly, son."
The bus trip to the day care center was not very long, only twenty minutes. It was also quite close to the coffee shop Sally worked at as a waitress, just a walking distance away. The salary was also quite good and it would support the two of them adequately. They wouldn't be rich, but at least they could have nice things every once in a while.
Sally and Percy dropped off at a bus stop a block away from the day care center. It was a modest, two-story building with cheerful canary yellow paint on the outside. Several drawings and art projects made by the children who went there were taped on the windows. There were playsets and swings around the front, near the parking lot.
"Look mommy, sandbox!" Percy exclaimed pointing at said object. "I can play?"
"Not now, Percy. Maybe later. If you're a good boy," Sally gave him a pointed look. They walked towards the front door.
"Hi, my name's Aimee Turner. What can I do for you?" the receptionist, a cheerful young woman with several red streaks dyed in her strawberry blonde hair, asked them. She beamed at Percy, who was hesitantly peeking from behind his mother's legs. "Aww, what a cute kid. He's yours?"
Sally smiled. "Yes, this is my son Percy. He 'll turn five next August. I'm working full-time at a nearby café and I had some… issues, at the previous place, so…" Sally trailed off, uncertain of what to say. "I already registered him last week. His name is Jackson, Percy Jackson."
"Oh, of course, we'll get the little one settled in right away," Aimee said brightly after checking the records. "Would you like to take a look inside?"
"That would be lovely," Sally said, smiling.
"Okay, just gimme a sec." They waited until Aimee finished whatever she was doing and unlocked the door to the playroom.
The room was painted with bright colors— yellow, bright pink, and blue. The carpet was a light green. Colorful wooden desks and chair circled a large empty space in the middle of the room. It was very well organized; the art supplies and small objects that could be potentially hazardous were placed in a high cabinet, blocks and legos were stored in a box, the books in the shelf at the reading corner. Needless to say, Sally was impressed.
"You're really early today, no one else are here. They'll be coming over in around thirty minutes, so I can take care of him until then," Aimee said brightly.
Sally frowned. "No offence miss Turner, but you seem a bit too… young to take care of so many children, even part-time."
"Oh, just call me Aimee. Everyone calls me that. And I'm not here alone, Mrs. Jackson. I'm here just to help my aunt. Family business, you know? My mom used to be a highschool teacher, and I'm studying for a teaching degree myself. I love children." She straightened. "So, is there anything I should know about Percy? Allergies, illnesses, foods he can't eat?"
"Well, you should keep him away from sugar. He has ADHD and it makes him really hyper. He doesn't have any drug allergies, but he can't eat any seafood, it makes him sick." She'd discovered that the hard way. Apparently being the son of the sea god made you allergic to its denizens. Or maybe Poseidon just didn't like his son eating his 'subjects'.
"Okay, no seafood then. Anything else?"
"Umm, no. That's about it, I think." Then Sally glanced at the clock. "Oh my. Forgive me, but I really need to get going. The place I work at is about to open," Sally said apologetically.
"Oh, that's fine, Mrs. Jackson. You'll pick him up at four, right?"
"Yes, that's right." She bent down and gave a hug to her son. "I'll see you in the afternoon, honey. Be a good boy for me, alright?"
The next few weeks passed in relative peace for the both of them. Well. As peaceful as living with a hyperactive toddler who couldn't seem to accept 'no' as an answer, anyway. Sally still regretted allowing Percy to help her in the kitchen. The carpet stains still hadn't came off.
Sally turned around to look at her son. He had a deep frown on his face and was glaring at his plate like it had stolen his favorite toy.
"Yes, what is it, Percy?"
"Why don't I have a daddy like the other kids?"
So much for a peaceful life. Sally pushed away her plate and turned towards her son with a serious look. "Why are you asking something like that, Sweetheart?" she asked carefully, struggling to keep her tone neutral. Percy looked down and fidgeted in his seat.
"Aimee had us make Fathers' Day cards. The older boys… they were nasty to me. They say that I don't have a daddy. They said that I was a buh- a bas- they called me mean names." Percy frowned. "An' I see everyone else has a daddy an' a mommy. Why do I only have a mommy?"
"Percy…" Sally was at a loss, not knowing what to say. "Percy, your father- he's a very important and powerful person. He loves you very much, but he can't be here for us because he's very busy." And because you might get killed, if the other gods even suspect that you exist.
Percy sniffled. "But I wanna have a daddy. Everyone has a daddy. Why I can't have a daddy too?"
Well, wasn't that the million-dollar question? Sally sighed and wrapped her arms around her son. He let out a sob and buried his face in her shoulder. Her hug tightened.
She hated Poseidon even more than before.
"Miss Turner, can I have a private talk with you?"
Aimee looked up from the magazine she was reading and hastily put it away. Sally could only catch a glimpse of the front cover, some kind of vintage fashion magazine. Aimee smiled brightly at her.
"Ah, c'mon, Mrs. Jackson, I told you to call me Aimee. Everyone calls me that." She noted the serious look on Sally's face. "Is there anything wrong, Mrs. Jackson? Percy isn't hurt, is he?"
Sally gave her a hesitant smile. Aimee had been nothing but kind towards them, and Sally genuinely liked the younger woman's company. She was brilliant and helpful, though a bit too naïve for her own good. She loved kids and was like a big sister to Percy.
"Somewhat… actually, it's about last week. It was Fathers' Day, right? Percy told me that you had the kids make Fathers' Day cards."
"Right, and...?" Aimee didn't see where the conversation was going. Sally decided to go straightforward.
"Aimee, you might notice that I'm not exactly a married woman. I don't have a husband. Percy has never met his father before," she said with an explosive sigh. Aimee had a confused look on her face.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Jackson, what do you mean, Percy doesn't know his father? I've seen him with Percy many times before."
"I'm sorry, but can you say that again? I must've heard you wrong," Sally asked, aghast.
"Well- yeah. Nate Thales, right? Black hair, green eyes, just like Percy. He sometimes watches Percy whenever he's playing outside. Claims that he's estranged from you after an argument. Even has the papers to back it up. He's done some volunteer work around here too. Granted, they don't actually interact, but I just assumed…" Aimee shook her head. "Are you telling me that he isn't really Percy's father?" she asked worriedly.
"Actually I- I haven't seen him since Percy's birth. He never told me that he- we barely even talk! But it does sound like something he'd do." Sally muttered. "If he ever comes here again, call me, alright? I want to-" Sally stopped mid-tirade and stared at window overlooking the parking lot.
There was Poseidon, looking perfectly like the day they first met. Messy black hair, bermuda shorts, and barefoot. He smiled at her, winked a sea-green eye, and vanished in a spray of fine mist that created a rainbow.
"No, I don't- Listen, Roy, I'm really sorry, but I can't go tomorrow, I need to finish my report- what? Oh, come on, Roy, you know how much this means to me! I'm sorry, but I can't just drop everything I'm doing! I have work to do and I…. Fine, if that's what you want, but I won't do it for you again. And you owe me a big favor!" Aimee snapped into her phone and practically flung it into her bag in exasperation.
"Trouble in paradise, Aimee?" Sally asked sympathetically. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Aimee sighed, fingers massaging her temple. Her blonde hair was tipped with blue, Sally noticed absently. "It's just my boyfriend, Roy. He needs me to do something for him. I love him- God, I really do, but sometimes he can be so infuriating." Aimee mimed choking someone with her hands and made a stragled noice. She lifted her head and stared at Sally as though she just realized her presence. "Oh, Miss Jackson. You're early today, is there anything wrong?"
Sally smiled at her. "Actually, I need to ask a favor from you."
"I need you to baby-sit Percy for an hour or so. Today's an important day for us," here Sally blushed so brightly, she might as well be a Christmas lightbulb, "so I want to prepare a surprise for Percy. Unfortunately I've been rather busy and I don't think that I can finish before it's time to pick him up. Would you mind taking care for him for a longer while?"
"Of course not," Aimee said. "You go and prepare that surprise for him, Mrs. Jackson; I'd gladly baby-sit Percy for a while." She grinned widely, flashing her braces at Sally. "Go now, before he sees you here."
The key to successful cookie-baking, Sally had long since decided, was not following the instructions to a tee or having high-quality ingredients.
It was focus and good intuition. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sally smiled as she pulled out the tray of cookies from the oven with a mitten-clad hand. She took a deep breath, taking in the aroma of freshly-baked goods. Classic chocolate chip cookies. It was at times like these that she missed her mother. Her Ma had been quite old when she gave birth to her, at the age of fourty two, and it hadn't done her health any good favors. Regardless, she had taught Sally many, many things including the very cookie recipe she was using. But no one could quite pull off the heavenly taste of cookies like her Ma did. She would wager that not even ambrosia tasted better.
Not that she'd ever get the chance to taste ambrosia. She prefered not being a pile of ash, thank you.
But now she would never be able to taste her Ma's cooking again, or her the deer her Papa had hunted and shot for them, or hear him say grace at the table over their Thanksgiving dinner, or- or-
"Get yourself together, Sally," she told herself. What would her Papa say? It was no use crying over spilt milk.
It didn't matter if she didn't have a family any more. She could build one herself, starting from her son. Percy deserved to receive parental love and care. Even if she could only fulfill the maternal aspect of it. Her Papa had been there for her for all of her childood, and she didn't know how to raise a child with a godly absentee father.
"You hate me, don't you, Sally?" a soft voice called. Sally sighed and turned towards the speaker, the silent observer that had been watching her all the time. She had recognized his presence the moment she entered the apartment, but she opted to remain silent. She couldn't make him go away even if she wanted to, anyway. Divine beings were tricky like that.
"Hate? No, I think that word's a bit too strong, Poseidon," she said after a while of silence. "I don't hate you. I can't." She sighed again. She seemed to do that a lot, nowadays. Sighing was such a meaningful gesture. "Percy needs you, you know? He wants to know why he doesn't have a daddy like his friends," she added. Poseidon flinched back in guilt.
"Then why don't you hate me? You've got every right to."
"I do," Sally agreed quite easily. "But I don't. I can't hate you, because you've given me the best present in my life. Because you've given me a chance to get my family back."
"Percy. Percy. Stop doing that!"
Her son stopped stabbing at his food with a spoon and looked at her with wide sea-green eyes.
"I don't like it, Mommy. It taste icky!" he complained, glaring at the baked lima beans on his plate. "Take it away!"
Sally sighed. "Percy, honey, don't you want to grow big and strong? You have to eat your veggies."
"Shan't. Shan't." Percy folded his arms on his chest and gave an expression that, in another time, would be cute and adorable. Instead, it only served to irritate Sally.
"Percy, Santa's coming soon. Do you want to be on his naughty list?" she asked sternly. His eyes widened.
"No!" he exclaimed. "I'll be good!"
"Eat, then." Sally bent down and scooped some beans with her spoon. "Come on, the train's coming, open the tunnel."
Percy went cross-eyed as he glared at the spoon and his face scrunched up in distaste. Then he looked at the window.
"Look, Mommy, it's snowing!" Sally turned.
"Oh, you're right. Looks like we'll have a white christmas this year."
"Can I go play in the snow, Mommy? Can I? Can I?" he pleaded, puppy-dog eyes put to full effect.
"Not today, sweetheart, it's getting late. Maybe tomorrow, hmm?"
"Aww, Mommy, why? I wanna play in the snow!"
"It's just started snowing, Percy, I don't think that the snow's thick enough for you to play in right now." Sally gave him her best stern look. "Now be a good boy and eat your dinner."
There was a brief periode of silence in the room as Percy (very reluctantly) ate his beans. Then,
"Mommy? If I'm good, do you think Santa will give me a present?"
Sally turned towards her son. "Depends. What kind of present do you want?" At worst, she expected his answer to be toys or a puppy or a little brother. Percy looked at the floor.
"I want… I want a daddy."
"Rea- Mom, we don't have reindeer!"
"Oh, really?" Sally asked before pinching Percy's nose between her thumb and forefinger. "Because I think your nose is just as red as Rudolph's"
"Mm! M' n's iint red!" [I shall translate it for you: Mom! My nose isn't red! But you already know that, don't you?] Sally laughed and let go of Percy's nose. He pouted. "Not funny! My nose isn't red!"
"It is now. Come on, you want to get to the park before it gets too late, right?"
"Yeah! Let's go!"
Snow, Sally had once decided, was the most beautiful thing she'd ever lied her eyes upon.
That had been several years ago, when she had moved to New York after her parents' death. Where she grew up it rarely snowed, and as such, she viewed it as a rare occurence. Then her parents died, and she couldn't bear to stay at the place that had been their home for so long. So she sold the house and moved away, far across the country, to the place she could least associate with them. The year of her parents' death was also the first year she experienced a white christmas, the ground all covered in a blanket of pure whiteness. It fitted, in an ironic sort of way. To her, snow symbolized loss and rebirth.
"Mom, come on, let's have a snowball fight!"
But for now, she found snow to be incredibly annoying. This was the fifth time in as many minutes that she'd been hit by a stray snowball, and she was getting tired of it. Kids these days… Percy was seven now, and he seemed to have boundless, unending energy.
"Percy, why don't we play something else? Like make snowmen?" she asked.
"But we already made a snowman…" Percy frowned. "Bob's boring, anyway." Bob the Snowman, as they'd oh-so-affectionately named him, had been the joint effort of mother and son, created in fifteen minutes, and looked like a Barbie doll. A fake Barbie doll, made out of second-rate plastic, and thrown into a furnace, in fact.
So, yeah. Operation: Bob the Snowman was a complete fail.
"Well, how about making snow angels, then?"
Percy's face twisted into a grimace. "Eww, Mom! That's for girls!"
Sally put on a fake hurt expression on her face. "What's wrong with girls? I'm a girl too, you know."
"Yeah, but- angels are girly stuff. And besides…"
Percy avoided the question. "Miss Cathy, the teacher in my class told us about angels last week. She said that angels were all dy-divuh- urm…"
"Yeah, that's what I was gonna say. Miss Cathy said that angels were all divine and stuff."
"Yes, and…?" Sally wasn't sure how to respond to Percy's words. He fidgeted uncomfortably under her eyes.
"Well… well, I figured that if angels were all beautiful, and kind, and stuff, then I don't need any angels. Because, y'know, I already have one." Then he turned towards his mother and hugged her, holding on her like a desperate lifeline. "I don't need snow angels, because I already have a real one."
What? You're expecting more? My, you do flatter me. Well, I'm pretty certain that you, my dear listener, already know how it goes. The rest lies in the hands of another storyteller, far greater than I.
You want another story? …Maybe another day. But for now, farewell.
Eeep! I don't know how this started. I really don't. It started from a Poseidon/Sally romance and... kinda snowballed from there. I exceeded the word limit by 1k+. Sorry. I'm really sorry, and the ending sucks.
Black Blood of the Earth is a real product, by the way. Google it.