A/N: Okay...so the plot bunnies have caught me. Well, more specifically, they've tied me to a chair and are smacking me over and over again :P. I was up like all last night just thinking about a possible next fanfic. Yes, it would be a Chaos fic. But it would be Percabeth, and I promise you it'll have a great plot and character development and be completely different from any other Chaos story you've ever read. Hopefully you guys have some trust in me. :)
Obviously though, if I start another one, it'll take some time away from my current stories, and not everybody likes Chaos stories, so I'm going to put it up to a vote. The complete summary(which will be shrunk down to size because it's over the max character limit for summaries) is on my profile, so go ahead and read it, and then vote on the poll whether or not you would like to see it written.
Oh, and kudos to anyone who gets the references in this chapter. ;)
Percy's bed was surprisingly comfy.
I felt somewhat guilty for mooching it from him, but when it was past ten and he still hadn't returned, I figured he probably wouldn't be needing it anyway. He was probably doing a job. Now that he was here, it looked like I would have to undergo a change in career. My phone showed no messages or missed calls from clients, even though I had been out for a good three days.
I sighed, flicking off the lamp and snuggling down beneath the covers. I felt like I should tell Percy who I was, but I doubt he even remembered Annabeth anymore. Relationships change, especially after almost two decades apart from each other.
Percy had obviously changed plenty. How many girls were in his life now? A lot, I bet. He was all charming and bad-boy now, not the clueless Seaweed Brain that I remembered. He probably had a whole crowd of fawning girls at his disposal. Maybe that's why he never bothered to IM me after I got exhiled. Maybe he had never missed me like I'd missed him.
Maybe I should do a little reconnaissance before I decided whether or not to tell him who I was.
I smiled sadly when I realized that his pillow smelt like the sea. I missed the good old days, that was for sure. Even if there had been a war, and our lives had always been in danger, at least we could have always been sure of each other.
It was weird, the things life threw at you. Innocent until proven guilty, they say. But what if you were proven guilty- but you were actually innocent?
I woke up to golden sunlight streaming through the window. Shadows from the tree outside danced on the covers, their shapes twirling around and around as the wind blew through the branches.
I let out a small yawn and sat up, running a hand through my hair. A strand got caught between my fingers, and I frowned at it. The hair dye was fading, single strands of blonde showing through here and there. I had a week, at most, and then I would have to dye it again.
I slid out of bed and moved to the window, pulling aside the thin satin curtains. I had to blink as my eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight. It seemed like Percy's house was in the countryside. The huge lawn was freshly mowed, and thick groves of trees pressed up against the sides of the house.
I watched as a raven flew off from a nearby branch, then turned away from the window, blinking away the sleepiness that threatened my eyes. I was about to pull open the door when I caught sight of myself in the dresser mirror.
I was still wearing my Ice Castle clothes, and after spending three days in bed, they were dingy and wrinkled. My hair was a mess, tangled and frizzy to the point of almost looking like an afro. I hurriedly rummaged around the room, but it seemed like Percy kept his room devoid of hairbrushes.
With a grimace, I took an elastic off of my wrist and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. It wasn't great, but it would have to do. It wasn't like I wanted to impress anyone, anyway.
I moved to open the door again, but something white flashed at the corner of my eye. A dress, laid out neatly on a chair. I turned to it, surprised.
My surprise quickly turned into horror.
It was pretty and all. Oh, it was very cute. But what? He wanted me to wear that?
It was a white strapless dress, tucked in at the waist, ruffles flaring out at the bottom. It was a very simple dress, but it was lacy and very, very feminine.
I glared at it. I would've skewered Percy alive if he'd bought a dress like this for a girl that he barely knew back when we were dating. I mean, I got it, he was a flirt and a bit of a player, but a simple t-shirt and shorts would have been fine. But no. He buys me a freaking dress?
Uh-uh. No way.
But I did need some clothes to change into.
I considered my options for a moment, then decided to raid Percy's closet. I mean, if he could buy a dress specifically for me, I'm sure he would't mind me borrowing a t-shirt and some pants. I wasn't sure how I felt about borrowing his clothes, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
I dug through his closet for a few minutes- it was still just as messy as he used to keep his cabin back and camp- and emerged with a black t-shirt and gray sweats.
With a grateful sigh, I peeled off my Ice Castle outfit and threw it into Percy's laundry basket. I might as well get my clothes washed while I could. I pulled on his t-shirt and sweats. They were surprisingly comfy, but of course they were many sizes too big. The t-shirt hung down almost to my knees, and I had to pull the strings of the sweatpants tight and tie it in order for it to not drop down to my ankles.
I shot one last glance of distaste at the dress, then grabbed my phone off of the nightstand and walked out into the hallway. I looked around in surprise. Percy's house was not what I'd expected.
It was bright and cheery, sunlight streaming in through the windows. To the left, the hallway opened up into the living room, where a bunch of very masculine leather couches and a flat-screen T.V were placed. There was also a kitchen, lined with chestnut cabinets and a marble countertop. Potted plants sat on the window sills, but most of them were dried-up and in the process of dying. A few had been replaced with cacti. I smiled, despite myself.
The other way led to what looked like another bedroom and possibly a bathroom. There was a note taped to the bathroom door, and it took me a while of squinting to make out what it said.
The lock on this door doesn't work. If you're in here and you hear me come home, LET ME KNOW. Or you can face the consequences...which will not be pretty.
I frowned at it. Okay, maybe I'd go to another bathroom. There had to be more than one bathroom in the house. I headed into the kitchen, where a mug of coffee was sitting on the counter. I looked cautiously at it.
Was that for me?
I was reaching forwards to pick it up when I noticed a yellow sticky-note peeking out from its side. I had to squeeze my eyes shut and re-open them several times before they finally made sense.
Yes, you can drink this, it said. Don't worry. I didn't poison it.
I rolled my eyes, but took a small sip. It was very, very cold. Percy must've made it a few hours ago. I grimaced, then stuck it in the microwave, watching it spin for a few rotations before I took it back out and took a taste test.
I gave a happy sigh. It was warm, almost hot. The coffee was dark, no sugar, whipped cream on top, just the way I liked it.
I almost choked on my sigh. Just the way I liked it. Just the way Annabeth liked it.
No. Could he know?
My hand automatically reached up to my face. Yes. My contacts were still in. But I guess no matter what color I dyed my hair, and even if I was wearing bloodred contacts, I'd still look like myself. Annabeth. Same thing.
But he couldn't know. Not for sure. Maybe he suspected.
I was pretty sure he suspected.
I was debating whether or not to dump the coffee in the sink when the front door suddenly opened. I must've jumped a foot in the air.
Percy looked like he had been at a job, because he was dressed in the same black cargo pants and hoodie that he had been wearing the night I bumped into him. Okay, maybe it hadn't exactly been 'bumping into.' More like stalking.
"Oh, Em! You're..." he trailed off as he took me in, a single eyebrow raising. "Why are you wearing my clothes? You didn't like the dress?"
"I don't know, you tell me." I crossed my arms. I was about to launch into a lecture about buying dresses for girls you barely knew, but I stopped.
Annabeth. What would I be doing in this situation?
I would definitely be launching into a lecture about buying dresses for girls you barely knew.
Okay, change of plans. He definitely suspected me. So I was going to be as un-Annabethlike as possible. I would do the exact opposite that I would normally do in a situation like this.
"I love it!" I squealed. The words burned a little coming out, and I almost had to resist the urge to kill myself. "It was so cute! I just didn't want to wear it, because that would ruin it! I have to at least wait until a special occasion!"
Percy blinked at me. "Uh, Em? Are you okay?"
"I'm better than okay, actually. Thank you so much for the dress, it's absolutely gorgeous!"
"You're welcome?" his uncertainty made the words into a question.
I flashed him a grin that Aphrodite would be proud of. "Percy, I can't believe you bought me a dress and made me coffee, you're, like, the most amazing guy ever!"
He watched with one eyebrow raised as I proceeded to dump the coffee down the drain.
"You don't like it?" he questioned.
I giggled, almost gagging. "No, no. I love coffee. But with milk, and a lot of sugar. That coffee was so bitter! It was gross."
He looked incredulous, but before he could say anything, my phone started to vibrate, jumping around on the counter. I picked it up, cupping my hands around it to block the sunlight so I could read the caller I.D.
I set it back down on the counter.
"Aren't you going to answer that?" Percy asked.
I ignored him, watching the phone buzz. It hopped around for another moment before beeping, indicating that the call had gone to voicemail.
"Em," Liz's voice said from the phone. "I swear-"
I didn't give her a chance to swear anything, because I reached forwards and swiped the phone off of my counter, hitting the take call button and pressing it to my ear. I made heavy breathing sounds.
"Yeah...?" I panted.
"Are you okay? Why are you breathing like that?"
"I...I was in the bathroom. I heard my phone vibrate, and I was just going to let it ring, but then voicemail came on, and I really didn't want an angry Liz."
Liz laughed, in the way that only she could, loud and wild and the kind that you knew was genuine. "Ah, I was just about to threaten to not talk to you for a week there."
I laughed too, trying my best to make it sound real. "Good thing I picked up."
"Yeah. Just checking that you made it home alright and didn't get abducted or anything."
"Nah, I'm fine." I glanced at Percy, who was watching me curiously. "No abductions."
"Glad to hear it." I heard scuffling sounds from the other end. "Okay, so it turns out that Bermuda Triangle2-which we both wanted to see- is still in theaters! And get this- it's playing tonight! Only two more days, though. Do you want to go see it? I can pick you up in five."
"Uh..." I bit my lip. If Liz went to pick me up, all she'd see would be a bunch of burnt debris where my house used to be. "The trailer looked pretty good, but I don't really want to see it anymore."
"I was reading some reviews online, and everyone said it sucked!" the lie rolled off my tongue easily, but there was no doubt that Liz would ask for details, and then I'd have to create myself a web of lies.
"Really? The first one was alright." Liz sounded unsure.
"Well, it didn't necessarily suck, but they said it was totally off from the book."
"It was based on a book?"
"Um. Yeah." I racked through my mind frantically for a few seconds. "They said that, uh, the girl's hair wasn't even the right color in the first movie, and so they dyed it blonde to fix it, but now it doesn't even make sense anymore, because now she's magically a blonde."
"Woah. Seriously? That brunette girl?"
"Yeah. And remember the evil guy, Lucian, who was trying to raise Time?"
"Uh-huh. Didn't he die?"
"Nope," I said. I was totally making up everything as I went, but Liz couldn't know that. Unless, of course, she really went to check the online reviews...
"No way." Liz was laughing.
"Yes way. And get this. Lucian used the Silver Pelt to raise Time-"
"But Time isn't supposed to rise until the last movie!"
"I know! And then Time ate Lucian and the lamb guy-"
Okay, maybe that was a little weird. But hey, I was kind of running out of ideas.
"Yep, ate." I glared at Percy, who was chuckling."Then the brunette girl-who is now blonde- freaking died. Oh, but don't worry, They brought her back to life with the Silver Pelt."
"Wow." Liz was silent. "That sounds pretty messed up. Maybe we should do something else instead."
"Maybe not tonight," I said quickly. "I'm kind of busy."
"I have to do laundry-"
"I can help you, if you want. I'm bored out of my mind."
"No, it's okay. I have to go." I hurriedly hung up, then turned off my phone, praying to the gods that Liz wouldn't decide to come over anyways or check the online reviews for Bermuda Triangle2.
"So." Percy's eyes twinkled mischeviously. "Time ate two of the characters in Bermuda Triangle2? Wow. You'd think that I would have noticed that, since I saw the movie and all."
"Oh, shut up." I put my phone back on the counter and crossed my arms. "I'm not good at lying to Liz."
"Well, I mean, you're screwed if she decides to really go check the reviews."
I sighed. "I know."
"You know, I still haven't asked you." Percy came over to me. "Why didn't you call Liz instead? To save you, I mean. We barely know each other."
I glanced at him, then smiled flirtatiously. "Because you're so hot, of course."
Percy's eyebrows shot up. Okay, maybe that was a little too over-the-top.
"Em, are you sure you're feeling alright? Are you bipolar or something?"
I crossed my arms. "I'm not bipolar."
"See?" he gestured at me. "There you go again."
I sighed. This wasn't working.
Percy shook his head, then pulled off his black hoodie. A strip of his tan chest showed beneath his black t-shirt before he pulled it down, shaking out his tousled hair. He fished a roll of bills out of the pocket of his pants, then tossed it onto the kitchen counter.
I glared at it. "So. You were at a job."
Percy shrugged. "Yeah. Why are you so mad about that?"
I turned my glare on him. "Percy. You stole my job! All my clients just suddenly stopped calling. How am I supposed to get money when nobody wants to hire me?"
"Well, you do have that job at Ice Castle..."
I groaned. "Right. That's supposed to pay for groceries and the water bill and the electricity bill and gas-"
"What about your parents?"
I winced. "My dad's dead."
"Oh." Percy blinked. "I'm sorry."
I shook my head, indicating that I didn't want to talk about it. Sure, he was sorry. They all were. I missed my dad more than I could ever have imagined. Back when he was alive, back when I wasn't a traitor, I used to hate him. Hate him for marrying my stepmom, hate him for never having time for me. Hence why I ran away.
I never realized, though. How much I loved him. How I started to get close to him again, how everything was working out, and then he died of cancer. I never saw it coming. I never expected.
"I'm assuming, then, your mom is a goddess?"
Damn. More things to back up his theory of me being Annabeth.
"Yeah," I muttered. "Now can you please stop changing the subject?"
"I'm not changing the subject."
"Yes, you are. Stop trying to distract me from the fact that you're stealing my money."
He ran a hand through his hair. "I'm not trying to rob you of your money. It's not my fault that your prices are so expensive."
"Excuse me? You're the one whose prices are abnormally cheap."
He sighed. "Sorry, okay? We could always do jobs together, then split the money..."
"Work with you?" I frowned.
"You were just squealing over my hotness a second ago."
"Oh, shut up." I exhaled slowly.
Bipolar, he mouthed. I ignored him.
"Can't you just increase your prices?" I asked.
"What? And let you get all my clients?"
I glowered at the floor. "Fine. How about a compromise? You raise your prices up so that they're the same as mine. Then we'll let the clients decide who they want."
Percy leaned back, smiling crookedly. "Sure. Whatever you want. May the best man—or woman—win."
I smiled back. "Yep."
"Oh, yeah. I almost forgot." He leaned in closer, and for a second I had the wild thought that he was going to kiss me. "Where are you staying? I mean, your house is blown up..."
I scowled, mentally slapping myself for not calling Liz. "With you, I guess...until I get enough money to stay in a hotel."
"Of course, you're going to need to pay rent." Percy's eyes were mischevious. "You know, unless you beg me very nicely."
I was about to snap back a retort, but a small gust of wind blew from seemingly nowhere. It smelled like strawberries and perfume. I narrowed my eyes in suspicion.
Before I could think further about it, though, I smelt the scent of the sea. Percy had leaned in so close that the little gust of wind brought with it the smell of salt water, and countless memories from a lifetime ago.
"Why do you always smell like the sea?" I question, my curiosity getting the best of me. Waves lap gently at my feet, and Percy has his arm wrapped around me, the two of us sitting together in the sand of the beach.
Percy laughs, his green eyes twinkling. "I don't know, Annabeth. Maybe because I'm the son of the sea god? And you're supposed to be the smart one."
I snort, giving him a mock-punch. "I am the smart one, Seaweed Brain."
He grins. "Well, you know, because asking the son of the sea god why he smells like the sea just proves how smart you are."
"This stays between the two of us," I warn. But I'm smiling, nonetheless.
"Okay, okay," he agrees. He leans in, bringing the smell of saltwater with him. "Just the two of us."
"Em! What are you doing?"
I realized, with a sudden jolt, that my eyes were closed. I opened them slowly, and realized that I had been leaning forwards. Going to kiss Percy.
"Em." Percy backed up a bit. "I'm sorry. I like you a lot, and you're a nice girl, but I have a girlfriend."
My head snapped up. "A girlfriend?"
"Who?" The word came out sounding all wrong. Too sharp, snappy. Like I cared.
He looked hesitant for a moment, as if he wasn't sure whether or not he should tell me. He bit his lip, taking a slow breath. "Her name's Annabeth."