Here is the sequel to Masking the Pain! If you haven't read that story yet, you will not understand this one, so go to my page, click it, and read! Then you may return and join us… thanks!
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson… sadly…
"Happy birthday to you!" sang my best friend, waving my blue cupcake in the air.
I sighed, a smile playing on my lips. "Hazel, I was planning on eating that, you know?"
Hazel raised an eyebrow, her frizzy brown hair framing her dark skin. "Well then," she huffed, "I go to all this trouble to make you special birthday cupcakes, and I don't even get one?"
I glanced over at the table laden with blue frosted cupcakes. "Can't you have one of the other hundred you baked?" I asked. "And, you know, maybe give mine back?"
Hazel frowned thoughtfully, looking down at where I lay sprawled on the couch. "Fine," she said decisively, "but only because it's your birthday." She deposited the cake in my hand before turning and walking back over to the table, searching for a good cupcake.
"Hey, Perce," called Dakota, "can you toss me another Kool-Aid?"
I gave him a quick examination. You see, Dakota had a kind of… drinking problem. But the strange thing is, it's with Kool-Aid. He rarely puts the stuff down, and is in a continuous sugar high which makes him seem almost drunk half the time.
"How many have you had?" I asked.
Dakota rolled his eyes, his lips stained with the red drink. "Dude, it's a party. Now pass me a Kool-Aid."
Chuckling, I reached into the ice bin and tossed him a can. My friend eagerly snapped the lid and took a sip, tilting his head back to get the full effects.
"I can't believe you're leaving tomorrow," Frank said from where he sat across from me. He cast a formidable shadow with his bulk and muscled body, but his face was rather babyish in contrast, and he didn't care much for violence.
I sighed, picking up a bit of blue frosting on my finger and popping it in my mouth. "I know," I sighed, "I can't believe it either. Has it really been four months?"
Reyna let out a small snort. She was sitting in a chair off to the side, her arms crossed and her posture erect. Her black hair was braided down her back, and she was wearing a white and purple dress that showed off her curves.
"Four months? You've caused enough trouble to last a year, Jackson," she said, raising an eyebrow at me.
I gave her a crooked grin. "I made this place more fun."
"It's definitely been… interesting," Gwen said pointedly, her blond hair thrown up in a messy bun. She was halfway through her own cupcake, licking the frosting off.
"I think you're being a bit generous there," Reyna said. "Percy has made it absolute mayhem."
"I have not!" I defended myself.
"Well, there was that time that you skateboarded into the water fountain…" Hazel trailed off, coming to sit next to Frank on the couch across from me.
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, come on, is that the best you can-"
"And don't forget you hit an old lady on the way and brought her in with you," Frank interrupted.
I opened mouth, ready to shoot back a witty response. But then I remembered something: I don't have witty responses.
"Whatever," I muttered, sitting back and moodily poking my cupcake. "I thought this was my birthday? Isn't everyone supposed to be really nice and like, worship me?"
Dakota actually laughed out loud. "Worship you?"
Everyone else joined in with his laughter, except for Reyna, who allowed herself a small smile. Hazel entwined her hand in Frank's, smiling up at him. I was pleased to see the two so happy as a couple (they had, after all, had a crush on each other for ages- all they needed was a bit of… prodding… from me to get them going), but I was still miffed about the whole 'worship' thing.
"That's it," I said, standing up, "I'm out of here."
I turned and resolutely started marching towards the door, still holding my cupcake.
Gwen laughed again. "Oh, come back, you drama queen."
I spun around, glaring at them. "I'm not a drama queen!"
"Is he in denial again?" asked a deep voice from the other room.
Poseidon came in, lugging grocery bags behind him. My father set them on the counter before turning and smiling at everyone.
"Hey, Mr. Jackson!" Dakota called, looking up from his drink.
"Hello, Mr. Jackson," Hazel said politely, returning my fathers' smile.
Poseidon chuckled. "Hello, everyone," he said. "How's the party going?"
"It was going great until they all turned on me," I muttered, disgruntled.
Poseidon ruffled my hair and walked over to the snack table, leaving me to glare at the back of his head. He swept his gaze over the mounds of food on the table, blinking at it all.
"You guys went all out," he said, taking in the blue cupcakes, blue corn chips, bowls of blue jelly beans and blue M&M's, blueberries, and the big bowl of blue punch.
"Percy likes blue," Frank said simply.
"Understatement of the century," Reyna muttered.
"I've realized," Poseidon said, grabbing a handful of M&M's and popping them into his mouth.
"Mr. Jackson, do you and Percy have to leave?" Dakota asked. "You both can crash at my place if you can't stay here, my dad won't care. He's gone half the time anyways."
"Dakota, he can't stay," Gwen scolded, shooting a glare at her friend. "Haven't we gone over this like, a billion times?"
Dakota shrugged, peering into his drink to see if there was any left. "I dunno, did we?"
"I have… unfinished business back in New York," I said, wincing slightly. Gods, I was not looking forward to what was going to happen when I got there.
"Percy's got to go see his girlfriend!" Frank said, grinning at me. I shot him a glare as Reyna pursed her lips, looking pointedly at Dakota in disapproval as he hurried over to the ice bucket for another can of Kool-Aid.
Reyna and I… well, I wouldn't say we had a 'thing', but she definitely had feelings for me. She had pretty much told me and invited me to be her boyfriend. And I did feel something for her… I just wasn't sure what. I could have easily accepted her invitation; I'm sure we would have made a fine couple. But it felt like cheating, almost, even though I knew I had already broken up with my other girlfriend. I don't know, it just didn't feel right…
So Reyna and I had kept it as just friends. It was pretty clear she didn't exactly like that, but she agreed to not push it and instead we just hung out and chatted. We ended up becoming excellent friends, though I could tell she still liked me, and I still wasn't sure what I felt for her.
"Yes, well, it doesn't matter that Percy's going back," Hazel said, breaking the frosty silence that had spread across the room, "because we're all visiting him over break, right?"
There were murmurs of agreement from the assembled party. Both of our schools had a sort of 'winter/fall' break, starting in the last week of November and stretching into December. Everyone was going to come to New York and stay with me for two weeks, as a sort-of reunion. Gwen, ever the eager one, was already planning things out for everyone to do.
"Oh, it's going to be so much fun," Gwen said, fingering the string on her hoodie. "We have to see the Empire State building, I've always wanted to go, and let's go skating in Central Park and-"
"We get it, Gwen," Reyna sighed. "You've been going on and on about it ever since we planned it-"
"Oh, all right, I get it," Gwen snapped. "So I'm a bit excited; can you really blame me? We're going to New York in a couple of months! America!" Her British accent seemed to be exaggerated as she spoke, grinning at me.
I chuckled. "You have no idea how many people say the same thing about London," I said, my American-accent sticking out like a sore thumb.
I guess it wasn't entirely American though, however. Four months of being around people who only speak with British accents has taken its toll on me. My speech is a bit different, and when I'm talking, I will occasionally find myself lapsing into their accent; I had noticed that my dad did that as well. It just came with living here, I guessed. My friends find it quite amusing whenever I do that, and are constantly poking fun at me when it occurs.
"Yes, but America's so…" Gwen trailed off dreamily, sighing. It was her dream to go visit America. Her mother had been born there, and when she had died when Gwen was eleven, she had made it her mission to visit the place where her mom had grown up. She hadn't gotten that chance until now, and she was absolutely ecstatic about it.
"Just ask your dad if you can move to America," Dakota suggested.
Gwen frowned. "I tried."
"Of course you did," Hazel said, laughing.
Poseidon watched them all with a smile. "Alright, I'll leave you kids alone," he said, "I have some packing to finish. Percy, are you done?"
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Dad. I told you this morning, I'm done."
Poseidon held up his hands in surrender. "Alright, alright," he said. "Our plane leaves at six; I just want to finish up now so we can get some extra sleep in the morning."
"Six?" Frank asked in surprise as Poseidon walked back upstairs. "You didn't tell us you were leaving at six!"
"I didn't?" I asked, smiling nervously. "Well, I'm leaving at six tomorrow."
Hazel frowned. "But we were going to have breakfast! We were going to say our goodbyes at our café!"
I shrugged apologetically. "Dad told me this morning, I thought we were leaving later. I didn't want to spoil the party."
Reyna sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Percy…" she trailed off exasperatedly.
"But that means we have to say our goodbyes tonight!" Gwen said. "And the party ends in half an hour; we have to say goodbye to you in half an hour!?"
"Thanks, Perce," Dakota muttered, downing his fifth can of Kool-Aid.
I groaned, throwing my head back. "I said I was sorry, okay? It slipped my mind!"
Hazel sighed, leaning into Frank's side. "It's alright, Percy," she said, "you just forgot."
Suddenly, Hazel leapt up. "Oh my gosh! We totally forgot to give him our present!" she said, her hair flying.
I stared at her. "Um, Hazel? You already gave me my presents." I gestured over to the pile of pool floaties and squirt guns that my friends had given me as a joke.
"No, we have another for you," Gwen said, standing as well. She walked over to our broom closet and stuck her head in. "Ta-da!" She emerged with a large box wrapped in bright blue paper, complete with a big white bow.
I slowly shook my head as she handed me the present. "You hid my birthday present in my own broom closet?" I asked incredulously.
"That's where the cleaning supplies are, we knew you'd never look in there," Reyna said reasonably. I shot her a glare.
"Well, open it!" Hazel said, smiling at me. "It's from all of us."
Sighing, I started to rip it open. "You guys didn't have to," I said, dropping the wrapping paper to the side and slitting the box. "You already got me presents."
"Yeah, but this is different." Hazel sat down next to me, eagerly watching over my shoulder as I popped the box open.
Frowning, I reached in and picked out a rectangular piece of wood. Flipping it over, I saw it was a framed picture of me, Hazel, and Frank at the park, sitting next to our favorite fountain. I had my arms slung around both of them, and we were all grinning up at the camera.
"What the-" I reached in and pulled out another frame. This time it was of me and Reyna at the movies. I was holding her drink out of reach with a lopsided grin on my face. Picture-Reyna was smirking, using one hand to pull down on my shoulder and the other to reach up for her drink.
"They're pictures of all of us!" Gwen said happily. "We got them from our phones and stuff and had them framed. We knew you'd miss us so much, we decided to give you little mementos to remember us until we visit."
I stared down at the pictures; there must be more than a dozen in there. Uncharacteristically, I felt myself choke up a bit as I skimmed through pictures of my friends and I over the last four months. I couldn't believe that after only a very short time in London, I had gained such great friends. I had even been 'encouraged' by Poseidon to tell them about Gabe a few weeks ago, and they had reacted… well, they had been supportive after they had finished cursing Gabe.
"Thanks, guys," I said quietly. "I'm going to miss you."
Smiling sadly, Hazel took my hand, leaning against my shoulder. She was younger than me by two years, and was like the little sister I never had. "We'll miss you too," she said quietly.
"Aww," Dakota said, wiping his mouth. He gave me a smile. "GROUP HUG!" he shouted, leaping forward and crushing me in a hug.
Laughing, Hazel jumped out of the way just in time. Everyone laughed at my expense, savoring the last night we'd get to spend together for the next couple of months.
"Okay… okay, Dakota, I'll miss you too, now get off," I laughed, pushing my friend off.
There was a buzz, and Gwen tugged her phone out of her jeans, staring down at the screen. "Shoot, I have to get home," she muttered.
I glanced at the clock. 8. The party was over.
"Right," I mumbled. "You should all get going."
Slowly, everyone gathered their things. I stood by awkwardly as Dakota tossed the rest of the Kool-Aids in one of my empty birthday present bags and Hazel tossed the candles she had borrowed from her parents back into her purse.
When everyone was ready, we all stood awkwardly in a circle. Eventually, Gwen sprang forward, wrapping me in a hug. "You're skyping me every night," she ordered, talking into my neck. "And I'm going to text you all the time, and we can e-mail, and-"
"I know, Gwen," I said. "Trust me, I'm not going to forget any of you."
Gwen pulled back, giving me one last watery smile. "I'll miss ya, kid," she said, reaching up to ruffle my hair.
I rolled my eyes good-naturedly. "You're six months older than me."
"Exactly!" she said. Sighing, she stepped away. "Bye, Perce. Good luck back in New York. I'll see you all tomorrow," she called to the rest of the group. Shooting me one last look, she slipped out the door and into the cold night air.
Dakota was next. Stepping forward, he gave me a quick hug. "Bye, Perce," he said. "See you in three months."
With a last salute, he trooped out the door after Gwen.
Frank and I exchanged quick good-byes, promising to keep in touch and what-not. Then Hazel flung her arms around my neck, tears escaping her eyes.
"Oh, Percy, I'm going to miss you so much," she said, holding on to me tightly.
I hugged her back just as tight, shutting my eyes. "I'll miss you too, Hazel. But don't worry, I'll 'skype you every night and text you all the time and we can e-mail-"
Laughing, Hazel pulled back and smacked my arm lightly. "You're impossible," she muttered, sniffing.
"I know," I said cheekily.
Smiling, Hazel leaned up and gave me a short, sisterly kiss on the cheek, just like she always did. "See you soon, Perce," she said, taking Frank's hand. I watched as they walked out of the house, headed home.
That left only me and Reyna. She stood there, arms crossed, staring at me with a calculating gaze.
I cleared my throat. "So," I said, awkwardly scratching the back of my neck. "Er… bye?"
Reyna shut her eyes briefly. "You're an idiot, Percy," she said.
I dragged my lips into a half-smile. "So you've told me," I said.
Reyna opened her mouth, hesitating, then shut it. "I'll miss you," she muttered.
"I'll miss you too," I immediately said, thankful that the awkwardness was starting to dissipate.
Reyna gave me one last once-over, sighing. "Oh, alright," she said, stepping forward and wrapping her slim arms around my neck. I wrapped my arms around her waist and for a long time we just stood there, not speaking.
Finally, Reyna pulled back ever so slightly, so our faces were still very close, our noses almost touching. She stared straight at me with her sharp brown eyes, our breathing evenly paced.
Suddenly, I pulled away. Reyna dropped her arms to her side, glancing down at the floor.
"Bye, Percy," she said, before turning and hurrying out.
I stood there, staring as the door slammed shut behind her. After a few moments, I let out a frustrated noise and ran a hand through my hair. Why did everything have to be so complicated? I didn't know what I felt for Reyna; was she just a friend, or a little bit more…?
I tried to picture us dating, kissing, doing anything more than hanging out, but I just… I couldn't. Every time the image was even half-formed, it would halt. I couldn't imagine being anything other than friends with Reyna, just like I couldn't with Hazel or Gwen. Our relationship was just too… sisterly. But…
I sighed. I knew what my final decision was.
I loved Reyna.
But as a sister. She was a great friend, and really fun to be around when you got past her hard exterior, but I don't think we'll be anything other than really good friends. I know she respects my decision, and she'll definitely get over me soon.
"Percy? Are you packed?"
I groaned, pinching the bridge of my nose.
"Yes, Dad, I am packed!"
A/N: *squeals* I am so excited for this story! I just had to bring in the Romans, didn't I? Yes, I did. Sorry if they were a bit out of character, but eh, they're in the story!
I was going to wait longer to post this, but I was just too eager to hear everyone's opinions. A lot of you liked the 'Masking the Regret' title, so I just went with that. I hope you all liked this chapter! The next one will be entirely Annabeth's POV :3
Oh, and opinions on the cover? I edited Masking the Regret's cover into that. What do you guys think, should I keep it?
On a completely unrelated note, I got a recommendation to a science and math camp over the summer. It's a week-long scholarship program on a college campus- I get to spend a week in a dorm with a roommate and learn all this science and math stuff! I'm not in yet, though. There is a VERY good chance I won't get in… you have to get a nomination from a science or math teacher, and they have to write about you (check), you have to submit an essay (check), and, if you get past that stage, you have to go into an interview. It's college preparation in a way, an all-girls camp. I'm excited (if I actually get to go :/)
So, yeah! And I started the second year of my Marauders' fanfiction, which I'm super duper excited about. If you haven't read it (and have read Harry Potter), go! This is the year they find out Remus is a werewolf… ; Dyes…
Okay, I guess that's it! I'll have the next chapter up soon, please leave a review, and thanks for reading!