Burying his head in the pillow, Percy rolled over and tried to ignore whoever was pounding insistently on his apartment door with what sounded like a very large sledgehammer. He risked pulling one side of the pillow away from his face so he could check the time on the luminous blue alarm clock that stood by the bed—three fifty-four. Much too early for anything important to happen.
It's probably either some kid who got drunk or someone selling things I don't need, he thought tiredly, rolling over again and further tangling himself in the sheets. He was completely exhausted; Cassie had been up and down every hour or so since she'd gone to bed at five-thirty. He wished Annabeth were here so they could share the workload like they always did—the absence of warmth in the spot beside him was particularly conspicuous to Percy tonight.
Unfortunately, his wife was in Chicago for some big architectural meeting her boss had wanted her to go to or something (honestly, he'd stopped trying to understand Annabeth's "big words" on the topic of her job quite a while ago), and gods, he missed her, but someone had to stay home with the baby—and he wasn't about to let Leo babysit their daughter or come into their apartment unsupervised anytime soon. After all, there had been the unfortunate incident at camp involving a satellite, a fork, a toaster, and a very pissed off Annabeth that had ended up with Leo dangling by his flame-patterned underwear from Juniper's tree. Percy didn't want to have a repeat of that incident with the son of Hephaestus hanging from a seventh-story balcony railing instead of five feet from soft grass.
The knocking persisted, becoming simultaneously louder and more frequent and (somehow) more annoying than it already was, like the knocker was hammering on the inside of Percy's skull now rather than his front door. Fed up, he rolled out of bed, stalked over to the door (flinging it open and then catching it before it could crash into the wall), and snarled, "Look, buddy. I don't care who you think you are, but my two-month-old has been up half the night and I don't need any of your beauty products, thank you very much—" He broke off because suddenly—inexplicably—he recognized the man standing in front of him.
The son of Jupiter had definitely looked better. The circles under his eyes were so dark they looked like they'd been painted on, and his slight tan had been replaced with a sort of vampire-like pallor. If Percy hadn't known for sure that it was his cousin, he would have locked the door and made an emergency call to the crazy shack.
"Hey, Perce," Jason mumbled.
"Bro...it's four o'clock in the morning.
"I know it is. I just...I need to talk to you."
Percy opened the door wider and stepped aside to let Jason in. "Gods of Olympus, man, then just say so. I do have neighbors and I do have to speak to them occasionally and if I'm talking to my cousin in the hallway in the middle of the night wearing nothing but my boxers, they're going to start thinking I'm not normal."
"You aren't normal," Jason said as he flopped onto the couch and dropped his head into his hands.
"Touché," replied Percy, sitting down beside him.
Jason took a deep breath and looked up, meeting Percy's eyes. He cut right to the chase when he finally spoke. "Piper, uh...well, she...she thinks she might be pregnant."
Percy stared at him for a moment before it really sank in. Then he simply said, "Jase, it's four a.m. and I'm wearing my freaking fish boxers. I am definitely not ready for this conversation—you won't take me seriously if Nemo is swimming around on my underwear, will you?"
"You couldn't be more prepared for my sudden arrival at your place of residence proclaiming my doom and pleading for your help?" asked Jason, his voice slightly muffled because his face was back in his hands.
"Holy Poseidon, you expected me to be prepared? I was just getting to sleep because Cass has been up all freaking night. Hang on, let me put some clothes on."
"Don't put your pants on inside out," Jason called softly as Percy padded back into the bedroom. He snagged a pair of gray sweatpants and a blue t-shirt with YOUR MOM printed on the front (a birthday present from Connor and Travis) and dragged them on. Every muscle in his body ached from exhaustion, the way they hurt after a particularly bad fight.
"Shut up, Grace." Dressed, he headed back into the living room and sat down next to Jason again.
"She thinks she's pregnant," Jason repeated, "and she called me to say she was driving out to go get a test and she'd text me when she found out. I was in town visiting Camp Half-Blood anyway, and you were closest, so..." He trailed off, clearly not knowing what to say anymore.
Percy clapped him on the shoulder. "Dude, that's awesome!" He couldn't stop thinking about Jason and Piper having a kid—an actual tiny person that was part of both of them.
Jason gave a weak laugh. "You think so?"
"What, and you don't think so?" Percy asked incredulously.
Dragging his hands through his hair so that it stuck up at all sorts of weird angles, Jason looked up at him again. If Percy hadn't known better, he would've said Jason looked like an axe murderer or something—completely and utterly crazy. "I'm terrified, Perce. I don't know what to do. What if I—" He broke off as his phone buzzed in his pocket.
Percy nodded encouragingly. Swallowing hard, Jason slid his emergencies-only phone from the pocket of his shorts and looked down at the screen.
The expression on his friend's face told him all he needed to know.
"Congratulations, Jason Grace," he said, aiming for that sort-of-patronizing doctor tone. "You're going to be a father."
"If it's four over here, then in California it's about one...gods," Jason sighed, running a hand through his hair again. "She must've really wanted to find out."
"I don't blame her," replied Percy quietly. "This is big for you guys."
"No kidding." Jason laughed humorlessly. "Dude, I'm so scared right now, I can't even—"
"That's normal, Jason," he said gently. "But honestly, I thought you were going to be more excited about it."
"I don't feel ready for this," admitted the son of Jupiter. "I'm grossly underqualified to have responsibility for an actual human being who needs my attention and love and stuff like that—"
Percy couldn't help it anymore—he cracked up, leaning away from Jason so he wouldn't accidentally knock him off the couch with the force of his laughter.
"Why are you laughing at me?" Jason demanded. "Why are you laughing at me?!"
"Because," Percy said, "I know you, Jason. You're naturally responsible, plus I've seen how well you handle the kids at Camp Jupiter. I mean, look at Julia—she loves you! Dude, you have to trust me on this one."
"But what if—"
"You. Will. Be. Fine."
Jason shook his head, an incredulous grin settling onto his face. "Wow, I'm going to be a dad."
The idea hit him out of nowhere. Suddenly, Percy jumped off the couch. "YES, Jason Grace! You are going to be a dad!"
Raising an eyebrow, Jason asked, "Why are you overly excited about that?"
"Since you really could use the practice," Percy said with a smirk, "you can crash here tonight—but you'll have to take care of Cassie for me, because I'm going to bed. She isn't supposed to wake up for about three more hours, so..."
Jason looked shocked. "Percy!"
Laughing maniacally, Percy sprinted back into his room and dove into bed—ignoring Jason's splutters from the living room. "I have to wake up at four in the morning to give you advice, you have to take care of my daughter—that's how it works, Jason. It's fatherhood, for the gods' sakes; you might as well get used to it now."
Jason sighed in defeat. "Fine."
A/N: Haha, that was fun. I actually really liked Percy and Jason's dynamic in MoA—the bromance was strong (and gay) in that one. Just kidding. :)
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