The tequila went down rough, strong, bitter, burning. Acidic enough to burn a hole through his esophagus, and yet basic enough to numb any notion of emotion his mind dared to have. He loved it.
A single finger held up was word enough for a refill, the amber liquid nearly sloshing over the edges of his glass as the bartender held the bottle aloft. And then there was the shot, ready to be tossed back, daring him to take another.
Around him were others, in various stages of inebriation. No one special, rather, the opposite. Everyone there was standard—so much so, that he felt a little like an anthropologist just sitting there and watching all of them. If he was Jane Goodall, they were the chimps.
There were the standard coworkers—their shirtsleeves rolled up as their elbows were propped up on the edge of the bar—knocking back beers like wussies. Then again, they had to work tomorrow; there was no point in getting anything more than tipsy.
There were the frat boys, long past their days in college, and yet still chugging cheap beer. They, of course, wore variously colored striped polo shirts, the standard backwards baseball cap, and, of course, loose, baggy jeans.
Oh, but he couldn't forget the single women, nervously sipping colorful cocktails and eyeing the men with mild interest. Their outfits interested him. Not in any romantic way, rather, the desperately low-cut shirts, the winces they tried to hold back when a man overlooked them, the red lipstick they reapplied after every sip of their drink.
Percy turned as one of the frat boys put his cup down long enough to stagger off to the bathroom, nearly taking out everyone in his path. He sighed, shaking his head slightly, gripping the shot glass and knocking back the tequila.
There it was. The familiar buzz, the burning of the liquid, the finger held up for one more. Another sigh as the party boy stumbled his way back out of the bathroom, a soggy piece of toilet paper glued to his heel.
Percy couldn't help but stare at the toilet paper—the faux pas of bathroom etiquette. It wasn't merely a stare, either. More a glare, directed towards the offending paper. How dare it cling to someone like that?
He pulled himself from his thoughts, swiping at his face and rubbing his burning eyelids. Sleep, although desperately needed, would prove no aid to the hangover he would have tomorrow.
His hand slipped to the bar, a stained, age-darkened slab of wood. What kind, he didn't know. The only knowledge he had about the surface came from the carved initials, the partial phone numbers, offering a 'good time', and the sticky, watermarked vinyl coating.
Percy felt a hand slide across his back, a delicate flutter of affection, and he turned as best he could, just in time for Annabeth to slip onto the stool next to him, throwing her coat over the back of the chair. She smiled at him, or, at least, he thought it was a smile. The liquor shaded his vision nicely.
"Hey." He mumbled, turning back to his glass.
"Oh, just a sec, those douches have been eyeing me since I walked in. You would think I were a steak and they dogs! Hold on." She whispered, laughing, as she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. She lingered there for a few moments.
"There." She said finally, satisfied, as the boys turned away, scowling and grumbling to themselves. "That should do it."
"Yeah. Whatever." Percy mumbled, attempting to get the attention of the bartender.
"Are you alright? You said upset." Her blonde eyebrows knit with concern.
"If you'd have seen what I saw today, you wouldn't exactly be cheery either."
"And what did you see?" She pushed.
"Let's just say it was a very elaborate sex position. Between my girlfriend and the electrician. You know, if I weren't so pissed, I might have even been impressed." He snorted.
"Shit." Annabeth said, shaking her head. "Lucy?" He nodded. "That sucks. You must want to kill the guy. Like, seriously maim him. Torture and all that." He gave her a blank stare. "With your girlfriend, too. The hired help. You trusted him. You were even gonna pay him! Like some sick, twisted male prostitute ring!" She exclaimed.
"Look, Annabeth, you're not—"
"You basically hired someone to have sex with your girlfriend! You must feel so guilty! Like, if you had just chosen someone else to fix the broken lamp, then—"
"Annabeth! Shut up!" He whisper-yelled, slamming his glass against the dirty counter.
She was silent for a moment, focusing her gaze ahead, before speaking again. "How much have you had to drink? You smell like Tijuana."
"None of your business." He grumbled. He hated to admit it, but her concern, slight as it was, came as a comfort. An ex doting on you was usually a good thing, especially when they were as hot as Annabeth. Then again, when they fought you like she did, it could always turn sour very quickly. But, then again, the drinks had long clouded his brain.
"Excuse me, sir, but could you tell me how many shots my friend's consumed tonight?" Annabeth smiled sweetly.
"Five, maybe? But he had a couple 'a beers before that." He answered, handing her a gin and tonic without a word. Percy snorted. Pretty girls always drank gin and tonics. It was a standard drink.
"Alright, that's it, buster." She swiped his glass, thereby disallowing any more alcohol to be drunk from it.
"Hey! What in Hades do you think you're—"
"No buts. You're drunk." Annabeth said, pushing her own drink away and tossing a fifty on the bar. She pulled her coat on and began to help Percy up, though he protested.
She grabbed his ear, laughing evilly as he was forced from his seat. She had always loved besting him in fights. She shoved his coat at him, waiting patiently for him to put it on.
"Come on, seaweed brain." She grabbed his hand and began the walk outside. "Leave your car, I'll give you a ride."
He ripped his hand from her grasp, turning away from her and walking in the other direction.
"I don't need your ride! I'm perfectly capable of walking!" He spat, but instantly knew that the slurred words were lies. He was seriously drunk.
He turned to run, making it all of two feet before tripping over the uneven sidewalk and crashing to the ground. Upon impact, he knew that his knee was gouged, and that his forehead would have a lump tomorrow.
Groaning, he rolled over, so that he faced upward, his vision planted on the sky as he brought a hand to his injured knee. And, mortifying as it was, he could feel tears spring to his eyes, prickling them. He took a deep, strangled breath and tried to sit up, but found that he couldn't.
"Percy?" Annabeth appeared over him, her face flushed with concern. "Gods, are you alright? Can you try to sit up?" She kneeled next to him, placing a protective hand on the back of his head, accompanying the one on his chest.
"Gods, your head is bleeding!" She lightly touched the cut he felt running along the side of his head.
With her face so close to his, the timing was perfect. She was there, he was there, it was perfect. He was single, she…well, she may or may not have had a boyfriend—he was too inebriated to tell.
It was then, at this moment, that he leaned forward, placing his lips against hers, enveloping her in a tight embrace that was reminiscent of their young childhood romance.
And the funny part? She actually kissed him back.