Paul hated the rain. He hated walking through it (whoever said that by running it was possible to dodge raindrops had clearly never been in an actual storm before), and New York traffic when it was raining was horrendous. Heck, rain made him start to hate water in general, which was probably not a good thing considering he had a sixteen-year-old stepson at home who was 1. the son of the freaking Sea God and 2. highly trained to kill.

Cursing under his breath, he made it all the way up the steps to his apartment with his pile of still-ungraded papers, kicked off his shoes, and slammed the door behind him against the driving wind before realizing that something was terribly wrong.

Paul was no expert on the concept of normality, but he was pretty sure that it was not a normal occurence to have several heavily wounded teenagers lying in various awkward positions (judging by some of the more interesting ones, he figured that they'd been dumped in a hurry) on the living room floor and draped across furniture at nine o'clock on a Friday night.

"Hey, Paul," called Nico di Angelo weakly from his spot on the couch. He was paler than ever, steadily losing blood from a long gash in his side. "Long time no see."

Paul could only wave a hand in reply, dumbfounded by the sheer number of injuries on some of these kids. He only stood there for a moment longer, though, as he found it necessary to jump out of the way when the front door crashed open behind him.

Percy was carrying a stocky boy with light brown hair through the doorway, closely followed by Annabeth (Paul had always liked his stepson's girlfriend for her levelheadedness) and a muscular girl in red armor, her long dirty blonde hair plastered to her back by the rain.

The three of them appeared to be arguing about something that Paul only half understood, though perhaps that was because they kept slipping into Greek.

"...Mark could have gotten himself killed!" the brunette girl was yelling. "Just because you're invulnerable doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself, Percy—"

"And I keep telling you, Clarisse, I can finish this by myself! No one else has to get hurt!"

Percy lowered the boy Paul assumed was Mark down onto the carpet, setting him down so that he was on his back. Annabeth and Clarisse went into action, undoing buckles on the kid's armor. When the two girls slid off Mark's breastplate, Paul nearly fainted at the sight of all the blood.

Studying the injury critically, Percy let his fingers trail gently down Mark's chest—barely touching it, evidently in fear of hurting the boy. He finally sat up and looked at Annabeth, worry written all over his face. "I'm no son of Apollo, but I'm pretty sure he broke a couple of ribs. If we don't get some ambrosia into him in the next ten minutes, we're going to be in bad shape."

Clarisse spoke up. "Will's out there right now, and so is Austin. I could go get one of them, if you wanted—"

"No." Percy's voice was calm, commanding. "We need everyone who isn't hurt too badly to be out fighting like Hades. In fact, I should probably be down there now—we've wasted enough time up here." He straightened up, drew his sword—which gleamed wickedly even with the low light level in the room—and sprinted back out the front door with a yell: "CONNOR AND TRAVIS, DON'T YOU DARE PULL OUT ANY EXPLOSIVES! YOU KNOW YOU AREN'T ALLOWED TO HAVE THOSE, ANYWAY!"

Annabeth rolled her eyes. "I swear to Olympus, I'll follow him all the way to the Underworld if I have to just so I can kick his butt." Pausing only long enough to unsheath her knife, she ran out after her boyfriend.

It was at this point that Sally came hurrying through the kitchen door with a bowl of water balanced in one hand and a tray of what looked like lemon squares—ambrosia, the food of the gods—in the other. When she saw Paul, she almost dropped both. "Paul, honey, I'm sorry about this. Maybe you should just go to bed."

Paul glanced back at the wounds on the teenagers strewn across his living room, at the blood slowly pooling on the carpet. He wondered, not for the first time, how his wife and stepson had lived like this for five years.

I'm not man enough for this.

"Yeah, Sally, I think I will."

A/N: Hello, lovelies! :) I wanted to post some of the shorter fics I've been working on, so here...have my first attempt to get inside Paul's head.

I really like what little we've seen of Paul's character so far, and I hope he comes up in HoO at some point. After all the schist Sally's been through (and what's still to come, if the end of MoA is any indication), she definitely deserves a guy like him. I'm hoping that I can write from Paul's POV more, because it's actually really fun!

EPC