Happy 2012! Welcome to a New Years fic! ^_^ This was co-written with Miz636, who had a huge part in the writing of this fic.
Set after The Last Olympian, AU.
Promises to Keep
Blue and golden swirled together in a burst of sparks before changing into a glittery image of Artemis on the hunt, lighting up the sky.
Underneath the ever-changing, shaped fireworks, the joyful faces of campers pierced through the chilly December air. Every year, the fireworks event at camp the night of New Years was a carefree event, but this year was especially different.
The sound of laughter and celebration sounded through the fields over the colorful explosions in the sky. The realization that the Great War had just come to an end was no secret on the lips of the campers; it was a time when everyone could come together and cross their fingers for a peaceful new year.
In a group off to the side, a flare of green in the sky lit the faces of Connor and Travis as they laughed, already contemplating ideas for new pranks to play in the coming year.
Clarisse grunted. "You'd better not be planning any pranks on me, or I swear I'll-"
Annabeth rolled her eyes, drowning out Clarisse's curses as she claimed, "This isn't what New Years is about." She motioned to Percy and Nico, sitting next to her. "Right, guys?"
Percy scratched his head. "I guess not. Don't people go crazy trying to make New Year's resolutions and other junk like that?"
"It's not junk, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth mumbled, smacking his shoulder.
Nico frowned, pulling his coat around his tighter. "What's the point of resolutions? No one ever follows through with them."
Annabeth took a deep breath, glancing at her friends. "So you mean to tell me that none of you have any resolutions?"
Clarisse scoffed, "No, but I've got a few ideas for what dumb and dumber over here should be working on."
Connor and Travis pretended to look insulted, speaking in union, "What?"
"No more stealing," Clarisse declared with a smirk, knowing that just the idea would seem foreign to the Stoll brothers.
It only took Travis a few seconds to come up with a comeback, an equal smirk growing on his face as he challenged, "How about no more insulting anyone? Agree to that and then we'll be even."
Clarisse sat up straighter, her fists clenched. "Piece of cake," she declared.
"Then it's a deal," Connor agreed. "We won't steal, if you don't insult."
Percy shifted in his seat. "I've got one." He glanced over at Nico in the dark, recalling the numerous amount of times the boy had snuck up on him the last few months. "No more shadow traveling straight into people's rooms, Nico."
Nico matched Percy's glare equally for a second. "When have I ever shadow traveled straight…" Nico paused, slowly flooding with memories of various different incidents. "Oh."
Annabeth elbowed her boyfriend. "What about you? I can name a few resolutions that wouldn't kill you to have."
Percy blinked. "Name one."
"Bring your number of naps down to only one a day," Annabeth stated, knowing how much Percy relied on sleeping lately due to his invulnerability.
It was no surprise that Percy's stubbornness got the best of him. "Challenge accepted," he declared quietly.
Nico spoke up from next to them. "I'll accept mine, too," he said, glancing at Annabeth, "but don't forget about yourself."
"I've already established my New Years' resolutions-" Annabeth tried to say, but Percy was already smiling as he looked at her.
"You chose mine, I get to choose yours," he informed her. "No more going off about architecture."
Annabeth bit her tongue, and Percy was almost certain, invulnerable or not, he would be getting punched in the next few seconds. But Annabeth finally sighed, "Deal."
"So… what just happened?" Nico questioned, following a streak of silver in the sky with his eyes. "Did we all just agree to new year's resolutions?"
"I guess so," Percy acknowledged. He wasn't expecting it when the Stoll brothers began smirking all over again as they stared at him.
"We're not quite done yet," Connor said. "We have one more request."
Annabeth narrowed her eyes at the siblings, noticing a similar grin on Clarisse's face. "What's going on?"
"No more kissing for the rest of break," Travis stated, pointing at Percy and Annabeth.
Percy nearly choked on the winter air, before collecting himself. "Why?"
"What's the matter, Prissy?" Clarisse glared. "Can't do it?"
Annabeth looked flushed, hoping the light from the fireworks wouldn't reveal the blush to her cheeks. "That's ridiculous," Annabeth announced. "A new year's resolution is supposed to be a goal to work towards in order to benefit lives! Not something like this."
Nico couldn't help but join his friends in the moment as they pressed Percy and Annabeth until the two finally looked at each other. An awkward gaze passed between them before Percy sighed, nodding. "Fine."
A loud crackle sounded as the very last set of fireworks exploded in the sky, lighting up the entire camp. Travis put his hand forwards first as Clarisse overlapped it, followed by Connor, Nico, Percy, and then Annabeth. As the six locked eyes, agreeing to start strictly at midnight, they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
At a later time on New Year's Day, when the sun had finally risen enough that the tired campers knew it was time to get up and train again, Clarisse could be spotted walking through camp. Her sword was hanging in its sheath from her belt, spear kept in a special harness against her back, and it was obvious to all who knew the daughter of Ares that she was on her way to the arena to train with whoever was stupid to challenge her or work on her own.
Percy happened to walk past Clarisse as she got near the training arena, and he didn't spot her hand before she had grabbed his arm and began pulling him with her towards the arena.
"Hey! Clarisse! Let me go! If you want me to train with you, just ask," Percy exclaimed as they went, finally wrenching his arm from her strong grasp
"Then hurry up, Pr-" Clarisse actually stopped moving as he suddenly realized what the deal she had made with the others around midnight the night before actually meant. By not insulting people, that meant she couldn't even call Jackson 'Prissy' anymore but had to use his actual name. It had finally hit her how hard this would be.
As for Percy, he was quite amused as he had heard the daughter of Ares prepare to call him 'Prissy' as usual. It was funny to see her face as she fought not to insult him like normal.
"Then hurry up, Jackson, and let's get training," Clarisse finally growled, her anger and frustration at the situation she had gotten herself into finally hitting her quite clear as she began walking quickly towards the arena.
It was going to be an interesting few days.
Percy stared ahead at the same spot in the wall that his eyes had been fixed on for the past twenty minutes. A dazed look clouded his face, and every bone in his body seemed to ache.
Everything in front of his vision was gradually blurring, but Percy refused to blink, knowing he had already used up his one permitted nap earlier that day.
It wasn't until Percy felt a light shove on his arm that he flinched. "Percy," Annabeth was saying, annoyed. "Have you heard a single word I've said in the last five minutes?"
"I'm listening, Annabeth," Percy groaned, clearly annoyed as he leaned forward.
"Oh yeah? Then what did I just say?" Annabeth challenged.
"It's winter break," Percy complained. "No more quizzes."
Annabeth sighed, giving it up. Although she had hated Percy's numerous naps throughout the day, she had to admit that she couldn't stand to see him so sleep deprived. This was the crankiest Annabeth had ever witnessed him.
There was only one thing that Annabeth knew would wake him up quicker than a splash of ice cold water to his face. As Annabeth leaned in to kiss her boyfriend, she immediately caught herself.
Percy yawned, groggily trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes, completely unaware to Annabeth silently cursing the Stoll brothers under her breath.
Conner and Travis quickly sheathed their swords and left the sword arena once their lesson was done. None of their siblings even bothered to ask the two brothers where they were headed for their break before Arts and Crafts, knowing it was better they didn't know.
The path of the two brothers took them through the camp as they rushed back to their cabin, passing by the camp store. Of course, the sight of their favorite place to steal from made them pause as they halted and stared at the store together, both spotting the fact that it was completely empty, no one there to stop them. Together, they took three steps towards the building before memories of the night before returned, and both boys looked at the other.
Would it be worth it? Conner's expression asked Travis, who was just as deep in thought as Conner.
The store is never unprotected, Travis' replied, both boys beginning to looked quite troubled as they felt their instincts yelling at them to go into that store and find things they wanted, sticky fingers pocketing them.
Yeah, but I'm not sure I want to be the first to break, especially since Clarisse is the one who gave this to us, Conner admitted with a few twists of his expression before he sighed sadly.
Next time, Travis promised them both, and they nodded together.
"Come on, Travis, let's go prank your girlfriend," Conner finally stated aloud, slinging his arm around Travis' shoulders to pull him in the direction of the Demeter cabin, already expecting the words that left Travis' mouth.
"She's not my girlfriend!"
Annabeth threw her pencil down, frustrated.
She felt as if someone had stitched a zip onto her lips; she couldn't talk about the thousands of thoughts that were passing through her mind as she stared at the blueprints scattered on her desk.
It didn't help that she could hear her siblings discussing the structural design of the new cabin being built just a few yards down.
Annabeth was fully aware of the extra textbooks left out on her desk, turned to pages with pictures of some of her favorite bridges and skyscrapers. They were probably placed there by Connor and Travis, and Annabeth swore she could have murdered the two the next time she saw them.
"We need your opinion," another girl's voice spoke, getting Annabeth's attention. She turned to see two of her siblings holding rulers and a list of calculations in their hands. "Do you think the fifteen feet walls will be enough to support the cabin's arced ceiling?"
"No," Annabeth immediately snapped. "You'll need at least two pillars on either side to hold up the arc."
"That's what I've been trying to tell them!" the other girl exclaimed. "Anyway, thanks Annabeth."
"Of course, if you didn't install pillars, then you'd have to make sure the arc was no more than a forty five degree curved angle-" Annabeth stopped herself, realizing what she was saying. She sighed, "I mean… I'm sure you guys know what you're doing."
As her siblings exchanged worried looks, Annabeth reluctantly returned to her laptop. After all, her siblings had never seen Annabeth leave out her opinion when it came to architecture. Something was definitely unusual, and Annabeth didn't know how much longer she could go on.
Nico looked out the window of his cabin at the darkened sky, knowing it was just barely past curfew and the harpies were out and about, searching for any campers not in their cabins like they should be. Unfortunately, he really had something he needed to tell Percy from a trip down to the Underworld earlier that afternoon. Beckendorf and Silena had wanted Nico to visit them once in a while and tell them what was going on in the world of the living, so he had gone down to tell them about the resolutions. Their message to tell Percy had mostly been to say that they wished him good luck in not kissing Annabeth for the entire break.
Rather than wait for the next morning, however, Nico wanted to tell Percy now while he still remembered the message, because he had been known to forget once in a while, especially while tired.
Well, that meant chancing the harpies if you weren't a son of Hades. Nico could easily shadow travel into Percy's cabin and –
Nico froze just outside of the shadows he had been about to use to travel to Cabin Three. In his mind was the image of the inside of the cabin, and he had promised Percy that his resolution was to not shadow travel into someone's room, which meant no traveling into cabins. Instinct was going to be a hard thing to overcome, Nico was now realizing, as using the shadows to travel usually meant he went into rooms rather than outside of them first.
With a sigh, Nico pictured right in front of Percy's cabin's door before stepping into the shadows, the thoughts in his mind centering on how difficult this resolution really was going to be to keep.
It was the second of January, and Clarisse had almost had enough of this stupid resolution thing that Chase had brought up. People around her were acting like complete idiots, and she couldn't even tell them that they were! She was so frustrated by all of this that most people were giving her a wide berth for fear of getting bodily damaged.
The day before, Jackson had been ordered by Chiron to at least try to get his aim in archery a tiny, little bit better, if he could, and Clarisse had been on the other side of the arena while it had been going on. The urge to yell over to them and get Jackson angry had been fierce, but Clarisse had managed to hold her tongue and just focus on her training, though perhaps she had run through the training dummies a bit more than usual…
Then there had been the son of Hades, di Angelo, who had been trying to climb the climbing wall and barely succeeding at it. He had completely missed so many obvious paths that would have gotten him to the top a lot faster, without burning the hair off his arms, but Clarisse had stopped herself from yelling at him and using insults, instead getting out her advice between her teeth as a show of how hard she was fighting her normal barbs.
Others around camp did other things that kept bringing her closer and closer to her breaking point. Whether it was one of the kids of Hermes actually trying to steal something from the Ares cabin or the children of Aphrodite sighing that one time Clarisse had been with Chris for a little bit during a break or just campers being their stupid selves, Clarisse was close to breaking by the time lunch came around on the second day of the new year.
Conner and Travis, unfortunately, were the two who caught Clarisse's ire when she finally let it go, having been caught by her slowly making their ways through the mines in the Ares cabin with a backpack over Conner's shoulder, obviously filled with pranking supplies. That they had been the ones to challenge her not to insult people had only added to her fury.
"You idiots! Trying to prank the Ares cabin, are you? Just because we won't work with you for Capture the Flag and you lose so often to us doesn't mean you need to insult us with pranks!" Clarisse yelled when she entered her cabin to find the pair almost past the mines that had been strategically placed throughout the first portion of the cabin.
"Uh-oh," she heard Travis mutter as the brothers slowly turned around.
"Wait, she just insulted us, didn't she?" Conner suddenly questioned, looking much brighter than one should with an angry Clarisse glaring at him.
"She did, didn't she?" Travis returned with a grin. "That means she broke her resolution! We knew you couldn't manage it, Clarisse!"
"Still, that was a full day-and-a-half without her snapping at camp," Conner mused, actually tapping his chin with his index finger. "Not bad, not bad. I was wondering why things were much quieter."
"Uh, Conner…" Travis suddenly said, sounding very afraid as he tapped his brother on the shoulder.
"Yes, Travis?" Conner asked, looking at his brother.
"I think we'd better run…" Travis stated, staring at Clarisse, who had slowly gone red as the two had spoken. Between her built-up anger, even more fury at failing to last longer than the pair at her resolution, and just general annoyance at finding the Stolls in her cabin to pull a prank, Clarisse was about to blow.
"Right you are, Travis," Conner agreed, and both brothers quickly ran between the mines, dodging Clarisse's attempts at grabbing them by ducking skillfully, and charging from the cabin, Clarisse behind them yelling, "STOLLS!"
"Percy!" Connor called for the second time.
"Are you sure he's not just out by the lake talking to the Naiads?" Travis asked, glancing at Annabeth.
"I told you, I've looked everywhere for Percy, he's not-" Annabeth paused. "Wait… talking to the Naiads? Do you know something I don't?"
Nico couldn't help but smirk at Annabeth's aggravated expression as she made a mental note to have a little chat with the Naiads about flirting with her boyfriend as soon as they found him.
No one expected to see the sight in front of them when they stumbled into the sword arena. In the back, fifth row up the bleachers, Percy lay across the seats, passed out.
Percy's hand swung loosely off the side of the seats, and a trace of drool glistened on his lips. It was unclear whether it was the image or the thought of Percy caught red handed as he clearly violated his new year's resolution, but his friends seemed to burst into laughter as they watched him.
The next time Percy opened his eyes to the sound of laughing and talking over his head, he could barely remember where he was. Annabeth sat down next to him on the bleachers once he had sat up straight.
"Crap," Percy muttered, his memories flooding back. "Did I…?"
Annabeth nodded, biting back her smile as she reached forward to fix a part of Percy's hair that was sticking out. "It's your second nap," she told him.
Connor playfully slapped Percy's back. "Looks like you gave in, man."
Percy sighed. He only felt defeated for a second before standing. "Forget this," Percy mumbled, realizing breaking his resolution wasn't all that bad. "I'm going to sleep. Wake me up in twenty four hours."
Travis and Conner searched high and low around the cabin, checking in every nook and cranny and turning inside-out every article of clothing they owned. They couldn't find a single prank supply they hadn't used in the past five days since making their resolution not to steal.
"How are we going to get Chris back for that prank he pulled on us after Clarisse told him to get revenge for making her break her resolution?" Conner cried out after Travis had shaken his head sadly in confirmation of the lack of supplies.
"That wouldn't make sense to anyone but me, you know that, right?" Travis questioned, and Conner nodded. "Just checking. Anyway, I believe it's time to steal. We did outlast Clarisse and Percy, if you remember."
"True… true… It's better than I was honestly expecting to do," Conner sighed before lifting his chin in pride of their accomplishment.
"Very true, Conner," Travis agreed, his own chin lifted. "Now, let's go see if the store is as unoccupied as it was the other day. I've noticed its lack of people this week. Let's go exploit it."
"Yes, let's," Conner stated with a nod, grinning as he and Travis left their cabin, proud to be breaking their resolution for such a good reason, at least in their minds.
Annabeth stopped in her tracks as she passed by the cabins. Normally she prepared herself with a deep breath and determination to look straight ahead while she passed, but this time the construction of the new cabin was right in her face.
"You okay?" Percy asked from next to her.
Annabeth allowed herself to get a good look at the cabin for the first time, unable to avoid it any longer. Campers stood on ladders with hammers and others on the ground with blueprints and pencils in their hand as everyone screamed directions overtop each other. The scene was chaotic.
"Annabeth?" Percy said again, a bit more worried this time as he watched Annabeth's eyes dark glance from inch to inch of the cabins structure.
Percy barely had time to release his hold on her hand when Annabeth suddenly marched straight to the scene, exploding with her thoughts. From a distance, it looked as if everyone suddenly stopped what they were doing to listen to Annabeth as she pointed fingers in her rant.
By the time Percy felt it was safe to approach her, Annabeth was just finishing up. "And another thing," she said, seemingly out of breath. "The three foot space left for the door frame won't be enough. You need to recalculate the perimeter and start over. Oh, and the flooring… what were you guys even thinking? Floorboard won't cut it. You'll need loads more cement! And-"
Percy stopped her.
The next time Annabeth caught her breath and looked back at the campers, realizing what she had just done, she felt like mentally hitting herself. Annabeth bit her lip. "Sorry," she mumbled to all of those standing around the building.
Chatter rose slowly as the campers looked at one another, talking about the various things Annabeth had just mentioned as they all stopped to revaluate their work.
Percy pulled Annabeth aside. "Um, Annabeth, I think you just…"
Annabeth sighed, before straightening her posture. "I know. But what was said needed to be heard," she declared before storming off in the other direction.
Nico woke up just over two weeks after agreeing to the resolution Percy had decided for him. In his dark, shadowed cabin lit only by the green fire torches and what little sunlight shone through the windows from the rising sun, Nico got dressed in his usual black clothes, his mind a haze. It was honestly much earlier than Nico normally woke, being barely seven in the morning, but Percy had wanted to spar with him before breakfast, and who was Nico to say no to a challenge?
Haze blocking his mind and too sleepy to really be thinking, Nico's half-closed eyelids didn't even open all the way as he walked into the shadows with the image of Percy's cabin in his mind. However, the rush of shadow travelling woke him in an instant, and his eyes widened when he realized he was inside of Percy's cabin rather than outside of it, as he would have done had he been properly awake.
Three things crossed his mind as he looked around the Sea Lord's cabin. One: He had broken his resolution. Two: Annabeth was in Percy's cabin. Three: Percy and Annabeth were kissing more heavily than he had ever seen either of them kiss, most likely due to lack of kissing since New Year's.
All Nico could do was stand there, stunned, though he had managed to get his shocked features under control so that his eyes were their normal size and his jaw wasn't hanging open at all. Then, of course, Percy had to look up from Annabeth and see him there, his sea green eyes widening at the sight, quickly pulling away from Annabeth as Nico tried not to look sheepish or embarrassed.
It wasn't clear if Percy's face was red from being caught in a very awkward situation or from anger. "Nico! What the Hades!" Percy exclaimed after untangling himself from Annabeth. "You promised no more shadow traveling inside of our rooms."
Nico quickly collected himself. "You're pointing fingers at me? Look at what you're doing!"
Percy held back his urge to hit the son of Hades. "You broke your resolution, Nico."
"So did you," Nico pointed out. "Besides, I only came in here because you asked me to meet you for a duel."
"Right," Percy said, slowly remembering as his anger faded. "I'll meet you in five. Give me a second, okay?"
Nico took the hint, nodding, before using the door to leave.
Even once he was gone, Annabeth still seemed to be staring into space, just slightly dazed from the kiss and trying to figure out exactly what had just happened in the past ten minutes. She had allowed herself into Percy's cabin, waking him up and complaining that they hadn't spent any time together ever since he broke his resolution and was sleeping all the time. She told him this wasn't how she pictured them spending winter break together; all she wanted was for them to be together. The next second, they were kissing.
When their eyes met, Annabeth could tell Percy was trying to make sense of everything the same way she had been. "So… we kind of kissed," Percy acknowledged, breaking the silence.
Annabeth bit her lip. "Any regrets?"
Percy thought about it for a second. Sure, they had lost in their challenge, but then he remembered the taste of Annabeth's lips and the way it felt to finally hold her so close again.
When Percy leaned in for another kiss, he couldn't tell why they were both smiling after they pulled away. "I'm never going to regret kissing you."
The camp fire seemed to glow a shade of bright red the next time all six of them gathered around together.
Silence had a strong grasp on all of them as no one met each other's eyes. Connor and Travis were the first to speak up, both brothers looking at each other before sighing.
"Alright, we did it!" Travis said, throwing up his hands as if he was making a confession. "We stole."
Clarisse rolled her eyes. "No surprise there."
Connor glared at her. "Let's not forget what happened earlier last week."
Clarisse pounded her fist into the palm of her hand. "You two had it coming," she said, continuing to mumble quietly about the nerve of the two to try and prank the Ares cabin.
"So," Annabeth began, before the Stoll brothers could retaliate to Clarisse's comment. "That makes three people so far who've broken their resolutions."
"Four," Nico added. "Let's not forget about finding Percy cuddled up on the bleachers."
Percy tried his best not to speak his mind as he fixed his glare on Nico. "Five," Percy said as calmly as he could. "Nico shadow traveled into my cabin."
Annabeth took a deep breath. "Six," she admitted. "The campers would have heard from me sooner or later."
The Stoll brothers couldn't help but smirk. "And we take it you two kissed?"
Before Percy or Annabeth could talk, Nico interjected. "Oh, no, I wouldn't call it a kiss," he said, recalling images of what he had shadow traveled in to see. "Sucking face to say in the least."
"Thank you for your unnecessary help," Annabeth said, glancing at Nico. The tone of her voice made him shut up quicker than the threatening look in Percy's eyes.
None of them knew what it was about the moment, but in the next few minutes, they were all either smiling or laughing. Maybe it was the realization that all of them had failed miserably, or maybe it was just memories of their struggles these past weeks, but they couldn't help but laugh.
"So, no winner?" Connor asked.
Percy shook his head. "I guess we all gave in."
"It was never about a winner," Annabeth said. "Maybe we all failed so terribly because this isn't how resolutions are supposed to be."
"Then what?" Nico asked.
Annabeth smiled. "Sure, maybe Connor and Travis could learn to steal a little less, and it wouldn't kill Clarisse to be nicer once in a while." Clarisse stuck up her nose, and the Stoll brothers looked at each other sheepishly as Annabeth continued. "Nico, it wouldn't kill you to respect our privacies a little more, and Percy, maybe you need to manage your time better between your friends and your naps." Percy couldn't help but nudge his girlfriend. Annabeth exhaled. "Alright and maybe I can cut down on the architecture-talk."
Sitting there, even though the accusations of their bad habits stung a bit, no one could disagree with what had been said.
"Resolutions are supposed to be made for ourselves; they're supposed to be goals that we want to accomplish or changes that we want to make for everyone's benefit."
Nico scratched his head. "I guess you're right."
Percy sighed. "I don't know about this resolution stuff, but I gotta say, this was an interesting way to start off the New Year."
For the first time that night, Clarisse cracked a small smile and the others couldn't help but join in. Travis reached into his bag by his feet, pulling out a bottle of sparkling cider that they had snuck onto camp grounds. He held it up as Connor, Percy, Nico, Annabeth and Clarisse reached forward to put their own hands on the bottle.
"Cheers," they said. "And here's to a happy new year!"