Author's notes: Thank you for your kind reviews and love for this fic! I had a lot of fun writing it, but unfortunately, this is the last chapter. Thanks again for reading, and I hope you like it.
Also, for those of you who insisted that the baby's eyes should be sea green instead... most babies are born with blue eyes and the color switches later on, and the same is often true for babies born with blond hair. Genetics are super fun.
Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
A Baby Story
"Give him back to me!"
Rachel's hands on Annabeth's shoulders were the only thing that kept her in the tub as a dark haired EMT walked out of the bathroom, the squalling baby in arms. The two male EMTs remained with her, one of them trying to wrap a blood pressure meter around her arm, and the other fiddling useless with the equipment. They'd asked her to pass the baby over so he could be examined after the cord was cut, but they hadn't told her he'd be taken out of her eyesight.
"It'll be all right," the older EMT with Ezra written on his name tag said calmly, patting her on the knee. "She's just going to clean up him and record his vitals. You need to stay here until that placenta passes."
"You don't understand," Annabeth moaned, the distant cries of her baby piercing her heart. "There's something wrong with her. She can't have him."
Annabeth wasn't sure what that woman was; all she knew that when she had approached, her skin had crawled with an impending sense of danger. Ezra exchanged looks with his fresh faced colleague, clearly believing she was a first time mother overreacting to strangers around her newborn. But Annabeth's instincts were never wrong and she knew she had to get her baby back.
"He'll back back soon, don't worry," the other man said. "We're going to focus on you right now, and make sure there aren't any complications, okay?"
Annabeth shook her head, but Rachel squeezed her arm reassuringly. "I'll go look after him if you're okay being alone, Annabeth."
Gods bless Rachel Elizabeth Dare, because Annabeth didn't know what she would've done without her friend at her side throughout all of this. She was definitely being named godmother, and getting an order of her favorite gourmet cupcakes after of all this trouble.
"Yes, please," she said, turning her harried gaze on to the other woman. Rachel had to be aware of the danger — she had better Sight than any of them. "Watch her."
She winced as still painful contraction rolled through her, and one of the EMTs began to murmur something about gentle pushing. Rachel squeezed her arm one more time, and then got up, going after the third EMT and leaving Annabeth to finish the birthing process.
She didn't see any of them again until five or ten minutes later, after it was all over, and she'd gotten cleaned and checked over, changed and settled into bed. She repeatedly asked for the baby during this time, only to be ignored like a child. It wasn't until the mysterious woman reappeared in the bedroom doorway, the baby now swaddled in her arms, that she realized why she'd been bothered so much by her.
But then again, the last place one expects the queen of Olympus to put in an appearance at is a tiny, seaside cabin bathroom and one certainly does not expect said queen to be masquerading as a paramedic.
"Congratulations, Miss Chase," Hera said as the other paramedics exited, leaving them alone. She smirked down at her as she bobbed the baby expertly, "You have a perfectly healthy baby boy."
There was a twinkle of triumph in the goddess's eyes, and the sight of it made Annabeth's chest contract, as though a fist had wrapped around her heart and had begun to crush it. Hera had her baby.
Hera had her baby.
"Thank you, Lady Hera," Annabeth said, forcing a respectful tone out past the lump in her throat. She watched every move the goddess made, listening for any sounds of distress from her son. The baby had been crying after their separation, but he'd quieted down now and somehow, the silence was so much worse. She frantically wondered if Hera had done something to him. "I — I'm glad he's safe."
"Remarkable, isn't it, how so many things can go in just a few quick moments. You were very lucky."
Hera cooed at the baby, adjusting the purple knit cap on his head, and Annabeth clutched the bed sheets tightly in her hands, trying not to fling herself at the goddess and punch her out.
She had to play this safe. If Hera was here to take him or — or — oh gods, she couldn't even think of it. She was helpless against Hera, and the thought of anything happening to her little boy made her absolutely sick. How could she have forgotten to make the sacrifice and put her baby in so much danger?
"I had a lot of help," she replied, her voice thick. "May I have him back? Please?"
The dark haired immortal looked at her as if she had asked the most idiotic question in the world, like she would give a baby to someone like Annabeth, who had let him go so easily in the first place. Annabeth held back a desperate sob, her entire body trembling. She wanted her baby, and she wanted him now.
Then, to her complete surprise, Hera sat on the edge of the bed beside her and held out the bundle. "Open your arms, Annabeth."
Puzzled, Annabeth did as the goddess asked and she set the baby down in her arms, handling him as if he was made of glass. Hera gently adjusted Annabeth's hold on him until she was satisfied, and then, hesitantly, pulled away and sat back. The grip on Annabeth's heart loosened the instant the baby was in her arms, and tears of relief sprung to her eyes when she saw that he was awake and peering at her. She kissed his forehead and held him close to her breast, afraid to let him go for one more moment.
"I was not going to hurt him," Hera said suddenly, drawing her attention once more. Annabeth blinked in surprise. "I'm rather fond of newborns, unless they're my husband's bastards. Besides, Poseidon and Athena would never let me hear the end of it if I did, and that's certainly an alliance I don't want to face."
Annabeth stared at her, brow furrowing. "Then... why else did you come? You hate me."
"It's been a century or two since demigods such as yourself and Percy Jackson reproduced, and I wanted to see the results firsthand," she said with a shrug, "I'm the goddess of family, child. Occasionally it's best to set aside grudges for a day and celebrate triumphs like this. Even if the darling was born out of wedlock."
A long ago memory of Hera casually dismissing those family members she deemed unworthy flared in Annabeth's mind, and outright indignation curdled in her heart. Her baby wasn't going to be part of her Olympian Stepford collection. How dare she judge him already — he hadn't even been out of her womb for an hour!
She swallowed down her anger as best she could, but some managed to seep out when she spoke again. "Sure. What's a celebration without a giant snake, huh?"
Hera rolled her eyes. "Like I said, I wasn't trying to hurt you or the babe. But I couldn't resist a little scare. You had such a blase attitude about pregnancy and motherhood, dear. Someone had to remind you what was important about it all."
Annabeth glanced down at her baby, mulling over Hera's words with an irritated frown. She didn't need to be condescended to about the importance of family; she had a better clue what it meant than Hera did. While it was true that she hadn't exactly been over the moon about her pregnancy and she'd been hesitant about becoming a mother, she'd always taken the idea of having a baby seriously... hadn't she?
She sighed heavily. It was hard to believe that she'd ever been indifferent to her child now that he was here and such a delicate weight in her arms. One look into his eyes, and she'd been lost. He was barely twenty minutes old, and she would walk through the depths of Tartarus all over again to keep him safe. Was that what Hera had wanted to ensure?
"Still," she grumbled, adjusting the blanket around the baby as he squirmed, "you could've found another way to teach me a lesson besides putting me through absolute hell. Your whole plan might have backfired. The resulting trauma from such a dramatic birth could've delayed bonding, you know."
"You have biology to thank for the swift delivery, not I. I only sent Python. Percy was supposed to be here to fight him and test his fatherly dedication, but sons of Poseidon never seem to do what they're supposed to. You'll need to work on that," Hera said, a long suffering look appearing on her face. "If I had known you would be prone to precipitous labor, I would have held off on the task. Probably."
Oh, that was some straight bullshit. Hera had clearly been beyond delighted that Annabeth had had such a rough time with her labor; she wouldn't have shown up to play mind games with her if she hadn't wanted to prolong Annabeth's suffering. She kept that comment to herself though, hoping to avoid earning another early parenting task from the goddess.
"Does this mean you owe me one, and you won't ruin a wedding if Percy and I decide to get married?"
Hera gave her a dirty look as she rose from the bed, adjusting her uniform primly. "Goddesses do not owe favors, Miss Chase. However, if you request my blessing at the appropriate time and with a substantial sacrifice, I will give it to you." She turned her gaze to the baby once more, and her face softened imperceptibly. "Your child has a bright future ahead of him. Take care and raise him right."
Annabeth nodded, wondering what, exactly, she meant by bright.
"I will." The goddess lingered in the doorway, arching a pointed eyebrow at her, and Annabeth quickly added, "Um, thank you. I guess."
Although she muttered, "Ungrateful demigods," under her breath, that apparently satisfied Hera enough, for she turned on her heel and swept from the room, carrying herself far more regally than one dressed in safety orange should be able to.
Annabeth let out a tense breath at her departure, and slumped back into her pillows, grimacing as her sore muscles flared up. Her body was tired and hurt in ways she'd never dreamed were possible; she'd rather take on a pack of hydras than give birth again any time soon.
She stared at the child in her arms, finally having a chance to study him properly. He stared back, equally curious about her — well, as curious as a newborn with terrible vision could be, anyway. With a tiny grunt, one of his arms broke free of the swaddling and waved around; she reached out and touched his hand, unable to stop the giddy grin that spread across her face when his hand wrapped around her finger possessively.
"Hey there, baby," she murmured, gently stroking the back of his hand with her thumb. "You know, you caused quite a bit of trouble getting here. You better bet I'm never going to let you forget it, either. Just ask your father when he gets here... you do get that from his side, unfortunately."
The baby gurgled at her, and kicked his feet in response to her laugh. Warmth flooded Annabeth's body, and she clutched him a little closer.
Maybe she'd skip the pack of hydras; fighting mythological creatures didn't have nearly as sweet of a reward waiting at the end of it.
Percy was pretty confident that his cabin's front lawn had not had as many gouge and burn marks in it when he'd left a few hours ago. He was also certain that Rachel's car hadn't had a person sized dent in it's passenger side the last time he'd seen it either, and that his mother was going to kill him if she ever saw the bits of Underworld skeleton soldiers still hanging out in the flowerbed.
Really, the scene that greeted him as he approached the cabin's front door should've worried him more than it did, especially considering his heavily pregnant girlfriend had probably been inside when all this destruction had gone on (or, more likely, had been the cause of it), but these sorts of things tended to happen when Nico di Angelo hung around. Add an Oracle like Rachel Dare, and there was double the mess.
On the plus side, however, the cabin was still standing and the lights were on, so whatever had gone on outside probably hadn't been too serious in nature.
"Hey, I'm back," Percy called as he opened the door, balancing several boxes of pizza with one hand. "And I brought food."
"Food?" Nico asked, shifting from where he was splayed on the couch. His clothes were covered in dirt and torn in places, and he had a bag of frozen peas draped over half his face. "Did you get Hawaiian? 'Cause I call dibs on the entire box if you did."
He shook his head. "No Hawaiian. Annabeth's been sensitive to pineapple. It's tragic, dude, let me tell you."
Nico groaned dramatically and flopped back onto the couch. "Pregnancy ruins everything."
"Poor thing, he thinks he had a rough afternoon," Rachel remarked, standing from where she had been kneeling by the television, a broom and dustpan in hand. Percy noticed the broken china and glass on the floor as he set the pizza on the island counter, and wondered if Annabeth had snapped and thrown something while he was gone. He wouldn't be surprised, not with Nico hanging around. "I, for one, appreciate your timing, Percy."
"He could've gotten here earlier. Would've saved me a lot of trouble."
"I had hoped your afternoon would be less eventful than mine," Percy replied, opening one of the boxes immediately. Fighting monsters and dealing with fawning teenage demigods was tough work and he was starving. "Although judging by the damage to the front lawn, I'd say otherwise. What happened?"
"What didn't happen?" the son of Hades grumbled, looking wistfully at the pizza over the couch's edge. "You and your girlfriend really need to stop pissing Hera off, especially if it results in me getting punched in the face."
Percy choked on his pizza. "Come again?"
"Hera punched him in the face," Rachel repeated, pausing beside Nico. "She had, ah, something she shouldn't have and Nico tried to get it back. It didn't end well. It was pretty heroic of him, actually. Stupid," she touched his face, shooting him a significant glance, "but heroic all the same."
"Well," Nico said, a faint blush spreading across his visible cheek, "she shouldn't have called you what she did and I wouldn't have gotten in her face — "
"Hera was here?" Percy interrupted, not patient enough to deal with Nico and Rachel's poorly hidden attempts at flirting, not after the bomb they'd just dropped.
Why had Hera come to their cabin? He'd thought maybe Athena would come around in the last nine months to lecture Annabeth about reproducing with a spawn of Poseidon, but Hera? She wasn't the biggest fan of the two of them and the feeling was pretty mutual, although she had vowed to stop interfering in their lives after Gaia's defeat. What would've caused her to go back on that? Not the —
A chill went down his spine and he put his pizza down.
"Is Annabeth all right?" he demanded, moving around the other side of the island. "If that cow touched her..."
"Oh, she's fine. She's in the bedroom," Rachel said, practically glowing with happiness. "She's got a surprise for you."
Percy arched an eyebrow skeptically. "A surprise? Annabeth doesn't do surprises."
"Well," the redhead said, fidgeting, "Maybe surprise isn't the best word to describe it since you've been kind of, um, expecting one?"
Percy's brain skittered to the halt at Rachel's words and gaped at her as the pieces started to come together.
"Rachel. What are you... oh, no, you can't be serious... "
"She is. And spoiler alert," Nico said, his glower at half its usual strength due to the frozen bag of peas, "your baby looks like an alien."
For a moment, only shocked silence filled the air in the living room. And then it was broken by a sharp smack as Rachel knocked Nico upside the head.
"Ow! Haven't I been hit enough today?"
Rachel whacked him one more time for good measure. "You insensitive, zombie infested ass! You can't tell someone they have a baby like that!"
"Why not? You just did!"
"Annabeth... " Percy said, feeling lightheaded. "Annabeth had the baby? Our baby?"
"That's generally what happens when the woman you impregnated goes into labor, yes," Nico snapped churlishly, dodging another whack on the head from Rachel. "Would you stop already? Why do you I always get in trouble for being honest?"
"Because your fatal flaw is lacking tact, Nico!"
Percy hardly listened as his friends continued to bicker. One phrase kept echoing in his mind over and over, getting louder with each repetition.
Annabeth had the baby.
Annabeth had the baby without him.
He'd missed the most important, once-in-a-lifetime event in his life, all so he could pick up pizza. Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck. He was the worst father ever.
His stomach churned, and he felt like puking up the whole two bites of food he'd managed to swallow down. Then, he felt like punching the wall.
How could she have had the baby without him? How could his friends have let him miss the birth of his first child? Why did this shit always happen to him?
"Why the hell didn't you call me?" he asked, his temple throbbing in fury. "Why didn't you come and get me?"
"We tried, but Python ate the receiving tower and — "
"Python?" he asked loudly, bearing down on Nico. Now that he knew what had happened outside, that the damage had been a threat to his new child, he wanted to make someone pay. Unfortunately, that someone happened to be the son of Hades. "How did Python get here? What did he do to my family?!"
"What the hell do you think he was doing here, Percy?" Nico replied, throwing the bag aside and getting to his feet. His left eye was swollen shut, the skin around it already turning purple and red. "Hera sent him to give Annabeth a scare. She went into labor, like, two minutes after we got here, and then he attacked — that's why we couldn't call you! I was a little busy trying to stop a giant fucking snake from eating your girlfriend and kid, and Rachel had her hands full too. Besides, if you had been here in the first place — "
"I didn't know! I wouldn't have left if I had!" Percy said defensively, but Nico's reminder punctured a hole in his fury and it deflated just as quick as it'd come, leaving him feeling a bit hollow and unsteady. "I just... I needed to... shit, I've screwed everything up."
He ran a hand through his hair and turned away from his friends, letting out a heavy, shaky breath and hoping they hadn't seen the tears in his eyes. Too many emotions clashed for dominance inside of him, and he didn't know if he could deal with them all. This was supposed to have been one of the happiest days of his life, and it'd turned into a quasi-nightmare.
"Percy," Rachel said gently, touching his elbow. "Annabeth and the baby are fine. Nico did an excellent job protecting us, the destruction wrought on my car not included. Everything turned out all right, so don't sweat it any more than you have to, okay?"
But he was an irresponsible mess, an already poor excuse for a father. He'd left Annabeth — knowing she could go into labor at any time — to go play glorious hero at a summer camp for a few hours. What did that say about his priorities? He knew he hadn't been ready for this responsibility, and now everyone knew it too. Especially Annabeth.
"Nope, none of that self-doubty stuff," she said, tugging his elbow insistently and turning him toward the hallway. "You have a baby to see, dork. What are you still doing, arguing with us?"
"Yeah," Nico grumbled, brushing past him to get to the pizza. "You better go before I end up spoiling something else about it and Rachel makes me sleep on the couch for the next month."
"Yes, what he sa... no, wait, not what he said!" Rachel exclaimed, turning her suddenly flustered gaze on Nico. "I mean, listen to what he said about the baby, not about me. Or my couch. And sleeping. Bah! Forget you ever heard any of that, and go cuddle with the newborn!"
Rachel gave Percy another push, and he arched a curious eyebrow at the two of them before heading toward the hallway. While the redhead looked positively mortified, Nico looked completely unrepentant about his slip-up.
Great. On top of everything else, he was going to owe Hazel 50 dramachas for being completely right about Nico's mystery girlfriend.
"Oh, and remember, when you're picking out godparents, I'm on the top of the list," the son of Hades called through a mouth full of pizza, as Rachel glared at him, her hands on her hips. "You so totally owe me for dealing with Hera and her pet snake."
A knuckle sandwich was what he was going to owe him if Nico didn't stop being a little asshat and shut up for the rest of his life, Percy thought absentmindedly as he continued toward the bedroom. The door was closed and Percy's hand hovered over the knob hesitantly, his ears straining for sound on the other side. He could only hear the echoes of Rachel's terse lecturing from the kitchen; he wondered if Annabeth and the baby were sleeping already, and if they were, if he should wake them up.
Gods above, Annabeth was going to be furious with him. He would have to spend the rest of his life making up for missing this — he'd gladly do it too, if it would help alleviate some of the guilt and disappointment churning in his stomach. He'd been so excited at the thought of becoming a father, and it hurt knowing he'd already failed before his child was even born.
He sighed, deciding he'd spent enough time pitying himself, and gathered his courage, turning the handle slowly.
The bedroom door creaked as he pushed it open. Their room was awash in the orange and red yellows of the fading summer sun, and someone had opened the window so the gentle, soothing smell of the sea could float in. Percy's eyes were immediately drawn to the woman on the bed, with her back was propped against the headboard, her bare legs and lap half-covered by the light blue sheets. Her blonde curls had been pulled into a sweaty, messy high ponytail and while she looked utterly exhausted, the serene expression on her face as she marveled and murmured at the bundle in her arms made Percy's chest ache. He'd never seen her look so beautiful and at peace with herself before.
Annabeth glanced up as he entered the room, and for a moment, neither of them moved. Then, a curious new sound split the air — a short, high pitched squeak — and she smiled widely at him, erasing his doubts and fears in one easy movement.
"Hey stranger," she said hoarsely, tapping the space next to her on the bed. "Come meet our son."
"Percy Jackson, are you crying?"
Annabeth almost laughed at the caught look on her boyfriend's face as he not-so-discretely ran the back of his hand over his eyes to blot the tears away. The tears had started almost as soon as he'd crawled into bed next to her and got his first look at their baby — Percy was definitely not a crier, so his reaction had taken her by complete surprise.
"No. Gods, what gave you that idea?" he denied, glaring at her with distinctly red rimmed eyes. "It's just... allergies. Or dust. Or... something."
"Right," Annabeth said slowly, turning her gaze toward her son. "You see what I was talking about, kiddo? Your daddy is just plain silly."
"Have you been telling him lies about me already?" Percy said, aghast. "Annabeth, he hasn't even met me yet!"
"Well, that should probably change, don't you think?"
Percy blinked at her and then glanced down at the baby, his face softening as he took a deep, long look at the newborn. She'd managed to wrangle their son into a onesie from the just-in-case overnight hospital bag they'd brought along to the cabin, and had taken off the thick, knit cap from Hera once he started to fuss. She'd tried to comb his thick blond hair after it'd dried, but apparently he'd inherited Percy's unfortunate cowlick and it hadn't cooperated with her.
"Yeah, I think so," he said, in a hushed voice, holding out his arms. Annabeth noticed they were trembling slightly. "Can I?"
For as much as she'd wanted the baby out and away from her several hours ago, Annabeth was surprised how reluctant she was to let him out of her arms now, even to give him to Percy, who she knew would never harm a hair on his head. She had Hera to thank for her newfound paranoia — just what every new mother needed. But despite this, she passed him over slowly, arranging him in the crook of Percy's arm and stroking the baby's head soothingly as he mewled and squirmed in protest at being taken away from her.
"It's okay, it's just your daddy," she said. "I know I'm your favorite, but he's a good guy too, I promise."
"Oh, don't listen to your mom, she's not the fun one," Percy replied, holding the baby close to his chest and giving him his undivided attention. "Now, you and me. We're going to have lots of fun together, aren't we, little guy? Well, once you've grown out of the drool monster stage anyway."
This time, Annabeth did laugh and she leaned against Percy's shoulder, looping her arm with his. The baby squirmed as Percy stroked his face with wonder, and his big blue eyes opened, squinting at the stranger above. The way he looked at their child in that moment made Annabeth fall in love with him all over again.
"I can't believe how small you are," he continued, his voice cracking with awe. "Gods, it's good to see you. I was worried your mom would hog you forever. But you're here! And you've already had an adventure..."
"An adventure this woman would not like to repeat any time soon," she said with a groan. "What a mess that was."
"I'm... sure it was," Percy said awkwardly, not looking at her. She waited, feeling the tenseness in his body, and, after a few moments of pregnant silence, he burst out, "So, how mad are you at me?"
She studied her boyfriend carefully, picking up on the shadow of disappointment in his eyes and the slight slump of his shoulders. He had to be beating himself up about missing the birth, and she felt a tiny pang of guilt about that. While she had been distressed and annoyed that he'd left her alone for it all, she didn't want to be mad and it was unfair to be angry with him for something a goddess herself had interfered with.
If this had happened a few years ago, she might've held it against him and stewed about it until it came bursting out at the most inopportune moment. But it wasn't worth it to get into an argument, not when they could be spending that time getting to know their child and when it would ruin the good parts of an otherwise very horrible day.
"Honestly, I'm more exhausted than anything. I had him in less than two hours, Percy. That's... gods, I still can't believe it happened like that," she said, feeling exhaustion beginning to creep up on her again as she spoke. "You wouldn't have wanted to see me like that. Ask Rachel. It was probably best that you weren't there; I'm sure I would've punched you if you had been."
"That doesn't sound any different than usual."
She slapped his thigh lightly, proving his point. "I'm trying to alleviate whatever misplaced guilt you have here, Seaweed Brain, so shush. I'm not happy you missed his birth, yes, but things not working out how they're supposed to, that's... that's just how it works with us, you know? It sucks, but there's nothing we can do to change it. So, don't focus on that, okay? Our family is here, healthy, and safe, and that's what matters to me right now. But you better be here for the next one, Jackson, or I am going to have words with a certain Olympian queen and they will not be pretty."
Percy glanced at her for a long beat, warmth and love emanating from every inch of him, and a smirk quirked on his lips. "So we're having another one now, huh?"
"Not right now we're not. Maybe in a few years, once this one's in college we can — "
Her boyfriend's lips settled on hers with a gentle gratitude that made her heart swell, and she kissed him back eagerly, taking in his relief and love. An impatient squawk from the baby drew them away from each other and they shared shy grins, embarrassed to have been already caught in a moment by their child.
"So then," Percy said again, clearing his throat and glancing down at the baby in his arms, "What are we going to name this kid?"
That was the remaining, million drachma question, wasn't it? Who knew naming such a small person could be so hard?
"Did you ever decide on a boy's name you liked?" Annabeth asked hesitantly. "Otherwise, I have one in mind."
It wasn't a name that had been on her favorites list, but she had considered it briefly earlier in her pregnancy. She'd already tried out a few of the favorites, whispering them to the baby before Percy had returned, and none of them seemed to fit her child quite right. This one, though, had a lot of potential.
Percy shook his head. "I picked out all girls names. Besides, the least I can do is let you pick the name after you went through all that."
"Well," she said, "what do you think of Theo?"
She'd had her reservations about the name — mostly because it sounded like Leo and she knew the son of Hephaestus would never let that one go — and it was slightly old fashioned. However, it was still a Greek name and a nice way to acknowledge their Olympian heritage without choosing a name that already had some nasty history behind it.
"Theo Jackson. Theo Jackson," Percy said, testing the name in different ways as he bobbed the baby. "Hmm. Are you sure you don't want to name him Theodore so you have something to yell to strike the fear of Athena into him when he misbehaves?"
"I'm sure," she responded, watching as her son yawned and stretched his arms out. She adjusted the blanket around him just so she could touch him once more. "He can be just Theo. For now, anyway."
Percy nodded, glancing down at the baby. "All right. Theo it is. You think you can live with that, kiddo?"
The baby — Theo yawned again, clearly disinterested in the incredibly simple resolution of what had been a several month long debate between his parents, and closed his big eyes, snuggling up to Percy's chest like he knew he belonged there.
"He has his priorities straight," Annabeth said, leaning back against the headboard, "A nap sounds amazing right now."
"Go ahead. You earned it. I'll keep him busy."
"Mmm, all right," Annabeth said, already sinking into her pillows. Her eyelids felt like they weighed 10 pounds each. "You should call your mom and Paul, before Nico decides to. Piper, too, and Dr. Lieske, and — "
"Annabeth," Percy said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pulling her into his side. "I promise I'll call them all in a bit. Sleep, before Theo decides to put his lungs to good use, 'cause I'm sure he inherited yours."
"Har har," Annabeth grumbled, breathing in the clean scent of his shirt and feeling herself relax all over. "You're hilarious."
"I knew you loved me for my fabulous wit."
She grunted in disagreement, but stayed cuddled next to him, enjoying the steady rise and fall of his chest, and the rhythmic drumming of his fingers on her shoulder. At last, she felt content and calm, a far cry from the hysterical, sobbing turmoil she'd been put through earlier in the day. Everything was okay, and she was grateful for that.
Now, she could look forward to getting to know and loving her son, with Percy at her side. Some tough days would be ahead for them as they learned how to adapt as parents and adjust themselves to a new person in their lives, but she knew they'd be able to do it. They'd always been able to do anything they set their minds too, and Theo would be no exception.
She cracked open an eye to reveal one more time in the blissful scene her boyfriend and child presented. She couldn't be happier with the two of them, with their (in her biased opinion) perfect family .
And then, Percy ruined the moment with a resigned sigh.
"Nico's right. He does look like an alien."
Maybe not quite perfect.