Title: Spiders on the Stairwell
Set: Between The Last Olympian and The Lost Hero
Summary: "'Uh, thanks,' Annabeth said, mentally cursing spiders and stairwells and attentive doormen and anything else that made her look like some kind of empty-headed, stereotypical damsel-in-distress." A fluffly little oneshot in which Annabeth is embarrassed, Percy is amused, and the doorman thinks they both have issues.
A/N: Beware of extreme fluff. I really meant to give this thing some substance, but considering I wrote the part that appears here (intended to be the first part) in January and still haven't even started on the second part, I have a strong feel it's going to stay fluffy and meaningless.
But I decided that today, of all days, I could justify posting a little Percabeth fluff. Happy birthday to Percy, and happy anniversary to Percabeth! *Passes out blue cupcakes*
Disclaimer: I don't own Annabeth Chase or Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson and the Olympians belongs solely to Rick Riordan. I also don't own Percy's math problem. I stole it off whatever random math sheet was closest to me back in January. (And do I remember how to solve it now? No.) I do own Phil the doorman, so... Please don't take him. ;)
"I pity whoever has to come up with this stuff."
Annabeth Chase glanced up from the English essay she was scribbling out. Next to her, legs stretched out across the floor and back resting against the base of the sofa, Percy Jackson was scrawling something that might resemble the answer to x2+9x+10=0 on his math worksheet.
"Come up with…?" Annabeth asked dryly as she returned to her work.
"The Quadrilateral whatever-it-is."
"The Quadratic Formula?"
"Yes." Percy made another x on the page and tossed down his pencil with dramatic finality. "That."
Annabeth couldn't help chuckling. She set her own pen down—much more gently—and stretched her hands over her head. Her feet had been tucked off to the side, but now she maneuvered them around the leg of the coffee table and spread them out next to her boyfriend's. "I'm guessing it was someone smarter than you, Seaweed Brain."
He gave her a grin, sea-green eyes sparkling. "Well, duh."
She shoved his shoulder, and he shoved back. Annabeth smirked and got up on her knees to retaliate with a harder push, but before she could, the kitchen timer began to ring.
"Percy! Annabeth!" Both teens twisted their heads toward the kitchen. Given that they were sitting on the floor, and a half-wall separated the living room from the kitchen and entry hall, they couldn't see much. "Time to wrap it up," Sally Jackson-Blofis announced, and the timer's shrill beeping abruptly ceased.
"Mo-om," Percy whined, ignoring Annabeth as she began sweeping her papers together and stuffing them back in her folder. "All we did was homework."
Sally appeared in the doorway, eyes twinkling as she took in the two of them. "You know, there's a perfectly good couch for you to sit on," she said to Annabeth, ignoring her son's continued complaints.
"Can't reach the coffee table," Annabeth explained, tucking her book away.
"Ah," Sally said. "Well, as long as no one develops back problems." She winked at Annabeth.
Apparently realizing he wasn't going to get any sympathy from his mom, Percy changed tacks. "Five more minutes?"
"No." Sally's mouth twitched as she pointed her finger at him. "Annabeth has to make curfew, mister."
"You're an adult. You could excuse her," he suggested.
Annabeth laughed, getting to her feet and easing out from between the faded blue couch and the table. "Percy, honestly. What are you, five?"
He sighed dramatically. "What? I never get to see you."
"You just saw me yesterday," she informed him.
"Well, yeah, but…" He paused, forehead wrinkling as he stared into space.
"Can't come up with any more arguments?" She reached down a hand to help him up
"Shut up," he said, taking her hand and scrambling to his feet. "You could at least act like you want to spend time with your boyfriend."
Annabeth wrapped her arms around him, tightly as she dared with Sally watching. With her face buried in Percy's shoulder, she asked in her best girly-girl tone, "Walk me to the Subway, boyfriend?"
Percy hugged her back, resting his cheek against the side of her head. "If that's the best I can get," he said in an overly wounded voice. He sighed dramatically as she let go.
"Let's get a move on, then," Annabeth said, heading for the door. "I don't want to be late again."
"It's good to have a girlfriend who's always on my side," Percy commented dryly as he and Sally followed Annabeth into the entry hall.
"Agreeing to disagree is part of a successful relationship," Sally teased Percy. She gave Annabeth a hug.
"It's a sign of maturity, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth added.
Percy rolled his eyes dramatically. Annabeth took her black hoodie down from a hook by the door, dropping her bag briefly to slide it on.
"You should put on a coat, too, Percy," Sally said.
"Mom, it's not even that cold out!" he protested.
Grumbling again, Percy sorted through the various jackets by the door and came up with a hunter green one that had definitely seen better days. Annabeth rolled her eyes and swung her bag back over her shoulder. "You have such a sense of style."
"Goodnight, Annabeth," Sally said through a chuckle. "Will you be back tomorrow?"
Annabeth hesitated, fiddling with the zipper on her bag. "I… Maybe. I might have to work on a science project with my roommate." Stupid projects.
Sally nodded. "Just come if you can. I'm sure it would make Percy quite happy," she added slyly.
Percy finished zipping up his jacket. "There. I'm wearing a coat. Are you happy?"
Sally tapped a finger on her chin. "I don't know, Percy. I really don't want you to get sick. You might need gloves, and a hat, and—"
She laughed, giving him a quick hug. "Hurry back. Watch out for monsters. You have your sword, don't you?"
"No. The magical sword that always returns to my pocket has disappeared."
"I hope you find it soon," Sally replied, straight-faced.
Annabeth couldn't help laughing. She envied Percy's easy relationship with his mom—much better than her own relations with her dad. "Come on, Seaweed Brain," she said, taking his hand and pulling him toward the door. "If I miss my train, I'm blaming you."
"Blame my mother, and her insistence on health!"
Annabeth released him as they stepped into the hallway, stopping to check that the door was closed. It had a habit of not catching.
"Are you sure you can't stay?"
Percy let out a wounded sigh. "I guess I'll just have to be lonely all evening. No one—"
Annabeth leaned forward and brushed her lips lightly across his, effectively shutting him up and waking a swarm of butterflies in her stomach. "Late for my train," she repeated as she spun away and power-walked down the hallway.
There was a moment of silence, and then Percy scrambled to reach her side. "I wish we could go to the same school."
"Goode isn't a boarding school," Annabeth pointed out. "I wouldn't have anywhere to live."
"You could live with us," Percy suggested brightly.
Annabeth snorted. "Right. I really think your mom and Paul will go for that."
They reached the end of the hall, and Annabeth headed left. Percy groaned. "You're worried about missing your train, and yet you still insist we take the stairs?"
"It's good exercise!" Annabeth defended, preparing to start another round of good-natured arguing on the stairs vs. the elevator.
"We get plenty of exercise. And the elevator gives you exercise, too!"
"How, exactly?" Annabeth raised one eyebrow as she pushed open the heavy stair door and started down the concrete steps.
"It's farther from our apartment."
Annabeth laughed. "That's a new one."
"It's true!" Percy protested, although he was also laughing.
"You're the one who keeps saying you want to spend more time with me. Taking the stairs gives you that chance."
"Hm. Good answer."
"Thank you." Annabeth shot him a grin and swung around to trot down the next flight of stairs.
There was silence until they passed the fourth floor, two down from Percy's. Annabeth snuck a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. His hands were tucked into the pockets of the jacket he'd been so against, and his head was bowed as he watched his feet. His dark hair was messy, probably from getting hit upside the head with a couch pillow earlier, when she was, er, helping him with his science questions.
"What?" he asked, glancing over.
"Nothing," Annabeth said, returning her gaze to her own feet.
Percy chuckled and moved a bit closer, dropping his arm around her shoulder and giving her a squeeze. She smiled and leaned into him, enjoying the extra warmth.
They made it down another flight, and something moving along the edge of one of the steps caught Annabeth's attention. "Wha—aah!" She jerked away from Percy and scrambled back up two steps.
"What?" Percy spun around, jerking Riptide from his pocket and removing the cap.
"S-spider!" Annabeth squawked, pointing a rigid finger to the edge of the step Percy was on. "Aah!" She backpedaled even higher.
Percy blinked once, and then slowly dropped his gaze to the concrete below him. A fair-sized black spider made its way past his feet and disappeared from Annabeth's view behind the next step. She climbed three steps higher this time, watching as the little creature reappeared again on the next step and began crossing determinedly, doing its spider-y best to get to her.
"Percy!" she yelped.
Percy closed his eyes, the corners of his mouth twitching.
"Kill it!" Annabeth cried, slapping her hand on the rail as she took another step back. "Will you just—aah!" She touched something sticky and yanked her hand off the rail, almost slipping. "Ew! Web! Spider web!" She frantically rubbed her hands on her jeans.
Percy, now six steps below Annabeth and two below the spider, calmly put away his sword and removed his right shoe. He reached the spider's side in one hop, and with a bang that echoed though the stairs, he brought the shoe's sole down on the spider.
"Gross," Annabeth moaned, holding up her palm to examine it. No visible strands of web clung to it, but it still seemed like she could feel them.
Percy didn't say anything, just sank down on the steps, holding his shoe. A bit of embarrassment swirled in Annabeth's stomach and she rubbed her hand once more on her jeans.
"Percy?" she asked timidly.
There was no response, but as she watched her boyfriend, his shoulders started shaking.
"Percy Jackson, are you laughing at me?" she demanded indignantly.
Percy leaned back, enough for her to see the mirth on his face. He was laughing so hard he could hardly speak.
"It's not funny!" Annabeth wailed.
Percy shook his head, holding up the bottom of his shoe and showing her the squished dot that had been a spider. "You—you can face down a three-headed dog, Kampê, Circe, and a Titan, but a spi—a spi—" He leaned over, laughing so hard he couldn't talk.
Annabeth crossed her arms, her defenses rising. "What part of 'ancient feud' do you not understand? Ancient—feud. Athena and Arachne. You know I hate spiders!"
Percy shook his head, lowering his shoe back to the steps and shoving his foot in. "Oh my gods, Annabeth. That was hilarious."
"It's not funny!"
He got to his feet, giving her another grin that threatened to melt the mask of wounded superiority she was putting on. "I didn't say it was funny. I said it was hilarious."
"Ancient feud!" Annabeth cried again, scrambling down the steps past him.
Percy caught her arm as she went by, pulling her to a stop. "You know you see the funniness," he said, forcing her to turn and look at him.
"It's not funny," she repeated, fixing her gaze pointedly on his jacket zipper. Since he was still a step above her, it was just about at her eye level anyway.
Percy stepped down and tucked a hand under her chin, lifting it so she had to look up into his eyes. Humor still sparkled in their depths, along with a bit of concern and a whole lot of affection. "Sorry I didn't kill the spider fast enough," he whispered, letting go of her elbow and moving that hand to her waist. He tugged her closer, until their faces were less than an inch apart.
"S'okay," Annabeth managed, heart pounding. Her eyes fluttered closed, and she leaned in. Percy's hand slipped down from her chin to her neck, his breath tickled her cheek, and—
Annabeth and Percy both jumped, lurching apart. Annabeth scrambled to peer over the stair railing, heart now beating unpleasantly quickly.
"Everything all right up there?" a male voice shouted, echoing through the stairwell.
"Ah…" Percy exchanged a glance with Annabeth, and then they both turned and began darting down the stairs.
"I heard screaming," the voice continued.
Another smirk crossed Percy's face, but he managed to keep from laughing out loud. "Everything's fine!" he shouted. They reached the final flight of steps, and Annabeth spotted the building's doorman at the bottom.
"You kids sure you're okay?" he asked as they reached him. He quickly took them in with light brown eyes.
"Yeah," Annabeth muttered, hoping she wasn't blushing. No way did she want her spider phobia hitting the fan in front of some strange middle-aged doorman, especially not one with freakishly good hearing.
"What was with the screams?" he pressed, eyeing Percy as though he were to blame. "I heard a bang."
Oh, gods. Did he think Percy was abusing her, or something?
Perfectly straight-faced, Percy said, "My girlfriend just saw a spider."
The doorman raised his eyebrows and turned his gaze to her, as though silently asking if this was true. She was definitely blushing now. "I, um, hate them," she managed.
Percy lifted his foot and displayed the bottom of his shoe, complete with the remains of the spider, somewhat awkwardly. "I took care of it," he said, his attempt at a solemn tone trembling with restrained laughter.
The doorman's face slowly relaxed, and a smile twitched his lips. "Well. I'm very sorry that you had to fight a spider, Miss…?"
"Annabeth," she muttered. "I'm Annabeth, this is Percy."
The doorman nodded and turned back to the stair door. "I'm Phil. You know, I've noticed you two before," he told them, glancing over his shoulder. "You're about the only people in this building who take the stairs."
"Really?" Percy asked, shooting Annabeth a pointed look. She stuck her tongue out.
"Mhm," Phil continued, oblivious to silent exchange behind him. "It's such an easy way to exercise—more people should do it."
Now it was Annabeth's turn to look triumphant.
"Where are you off to?" Phil asked, returning to his place behind the desk in the lobby. There was only a doorman on duty here from eight to five on weekdays, which in Annabeth's opinion was a little stupid. If you wanted to get in Scott-free, all you had to do was come at night or over the weekend.
"Annabeth has to get back to her school before curfew," Percy explained.
"Ah," Phil said. "Well, don't let me keep you." He gave them a warm smile. "I'll try to keep the stairs free of spiders for you, Annabeth," he added.
"Uh, thanks," Annabeth said, mentally cursing spiders and stairwells and attentive doormen and anything else that made her look like some kind of empty-headed, stereotypical damsel-in-distress.
Phil nodded, and from the gleam in his eye, Annabeth suddenly felt that he must know much of what she was thinking.
"Nice to meet you," Percy called, following Annabeth as she all but ran across the lobby to the door.
"Oh my gods!" Annabeth shouted, punching out the door and into the brisk, late October air.
Behind her, Percy cracked up again. "What, Annabeth? He's going to take care of all the wittle spiddy's fwiends."
"You're an idiot."
Percy reached her side and wrapped his arm around her shoulders again. "You didn't have to tell him about the spider, you know. You could've just said you tripped or something."
"You told him about the spider! And he was looking at you like he thought you were hitting me," Annabeth complained. "What was I supposed to do, let him put you down as abusive?"
Percy considered that for a moment, and then uncurled his arm from around her shoulders and gave her a playful smack on the side of the head.
He laughed and dodged as she attempted to hit him back. Not deterred, she ducked around him and landed a well-aimed—but gentle—punch to his stomach.
"I'd hate to see any guy try to abuse you," Percy said, pulling her back against him, this time with both arms around her.
Annabeth tipped her face up to look at him. "Wait, Seaweed Brain. Are you saying you want me to go find another guy?" she asked mischievously.
Surprise flashed in Percy's eyes, and then, startling Annabeth slightly, jealousy. "No, I am most definitely not," he whispered, leaning down to nuzzle at her cheek.
Tingles raced down Annabeth's spine, and she ducked her head to hide the smile on her face.
There was silence for a moment before Percy cleared his throat. "So, you are coming back tomorrow, right?"
Annabeth sighed deeply. "I dunno, Percy. I have my science project do, and I have to type up that English report, and I'm behind in history, plus I have to finish the snack bar for Oly—"
"Please," he whined.
She snuggled a tiny bit closer to his side, and he responded by tightening his arms around her. "I'll try," she whispered. "I wish I weren't so busy."
"You should totally get time off for Halloween," Percy said.
Annabeth chuckled. "I don't think the school board would go for that. But just think: before too long, we'll have three weeks for winter break."
"I know," Percy said happily, uncurling his arms from around her so that they could cross the street. He took her hand and gave it a light squeeze. "It's gonna be great."
She nodded agreement. "We can go to Camp, and we won't have to worry about school, or homework, or getting me back before curfew…"
"Shut up." She shoved him with her shoulder.
Another minute of walking brought the Subway station into view. Annabeth hoped she hadn't already missed her train. How much time had the spider thing taken up?
"I'll see you soon," Annabeth said, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. Percy was right, they didn't get to spend enough time together. Especially since most of the time they did have revolved around homework…
He sighed. "Are you sure—"
"Yes, Seaweed Brain! I am absolutely positive I cannot stay!"
"Fine," Percy grumbled.
She stopped and twirled to face him, her heart fluttering a little. "Goodnight, I guess."
"That's it?" Percy asked, raising one eyebrow.
It was Percy's turn to shut her up. He smashed his lips to hers, pulling her forward with his hand until he could wrap his arms around her waist. She didn't resist, draping her own arms around his neck. Electricity surged through her body, and she tightened her grip.
All too soon, Annabeth ran out of air. She broke off, panting. "We're in public, Seaweed Brain!" she scolded, trying to slow her racing heart. "Let's exercise a little restraint, shall we?"
"Pft, restraint," Percy said, resting his forehead against hers. "Who's going to care? The rest of the world doesn't use it."
She didn't get to finish that sentence, either. Her entire body was trembling by the time he pulled away again. "Percy…" she moaned, trying to drum up the tone to correct him once more.
"We're gonna keep doing this until you enjoy it," Percy said, his voice sounding a lot dreamer than usual.
"I never said I didn't enjoy it," Annabeth whispered. She leaned forward and placed her lips gently against his, a quick kiss.
"You're absolutely positive that—"
"I cannot stay!" Annabeth stepped back, and Percy loosened his grip on her with a sigh.
"Worth one last try."
She smiled at him. "I wish I could," she whispered.
He winked and finally let his hands slip off her waist. "See you tomorrow, then." He hesitated, then said, "Goodnight."
It had seemed almost like he wanted to say something more, but he didn't.
"Goodnight, Percy. Thanks for walking with me."
Percy laughed. "And for killing the spider?"
Annabeth rolled her eyes and headed for the escalator into the station, trying to ignore the stares of… well, pretty much everyone in the vicinity.
They needed to mind their own business.
Unexpectedly, Annabeth giggled. How ridiculous was this? She stepped onto the escalator and turned around. Percy was still standing just outside the station opening. He saw her looking and waved, mouthing you're welcome.
She winked and blew him a kiss. See you tomorrow, she mouthed back.
In just a few seconds, he was out of sight, replaced by the top of the escalator. Annabeth turned forward, lips still tingling, and started running down.
If she missed her train, she decided, she was just going to blame the spider. Yeah…
It was totally the spider.
A/N: So there we go. Fluff. If you enjoyed it, will you pretty, pretty please click the button and leave me a review? Please? I'll give you another cupcake...
Thanks for reading!