Percy Jackson wishes that someone had told him how difficult college is before he had entered college.
It's not like he regrets it or anything, but something has to be said about the simple, easy life he had left behind: killing monsters, making battle plans, and going up against Greek Gods. College is far more difficult than that. He's tired, like, all the time. He spends his days writing essays and taking notes in lectures and trying to decipher his handwriting on the pages of hastily scrawled notes from said lectures.
And yes, he's well aware that becoming a teacher is worth all the joy being sucked out of his present life, but it's still frustrating. He misses things that he used to be able to do before he had entered the program. He never gets to go down to the camp and train new kids anymore; he never gets to go to the bar with his friends; he never gets to spend time with Annabeth.
To be fair, they live together. They get to spend some time together. When he wakes up in the morning, she's always in the bed next to him- her eyes blinking blearily and her limbs all tangled in his. He likes it best when she shifts in the night and begins using him as a pillow, so that the first thing he smells in the morning is the scent of her hair.
And then there are nights like tonight, when he gets home from his 6:00 Friday lecture, and she's almost always home from work. She usually works late when he has late night lectures, but she knows he hates having such a late class on a Friday, so when he gets home she is always there with pizza, beer, and a good mood.
The small apartment is brightly lit when he turns the key in the door and lets himself in. Annabeth is standing at a counter, her knife moving quickly as she expertly dices olives. The smell of meat wafts up his nose, and it takes him a moment to realize that Annabeth is actually cooking. Like, cooking. Not heating up a frozen lasagna or sifting through takeout menus. Cooking. Percy closes the door as quietly as he can, then tiptoes closer to see what she's making.
"What are you doing?" he asks, curious. Annabeth doesn't jump in surprise- she's too well trained not to hear him. Instead, she turns around, smiles, and wraps her arms around his neck.
"What does it look like I'm doing, seaweed brain?"
"Making food," Percy replies uncertainly. Annabeth nods. "For…me?"
"For you," Annabeth confirms, her bringing a finger up to lovingly trace his jawline. Percy leans into her touch, dropping his keys on the table so that he can run his hand through her hair and begin the task of untangling the knots there. Some nights, when she's asleep on the couch and he's still watching TV, he'll slowly get all of the tangles out as she slips in and out of consciousness, head on his lap. It's become one of his favorite things to do.
"Did I do something awesome to deserve this?"
Annabeth frowns at him.
"Do you have to do something nice to get me to cook for you?"
"I mean… yes. Usually. Unless you're making me dinner because of my tragically attractive face."
"Yes, that must be it," Annabeth hums, leaning up on her tiptoes to plant a tiny, tantalizing kiss on his lips. "It's certainly not because Aphrodite finally approved my plans for her temple and I feel like I can do anything, including cooking."
Percy pushes her body back, eyes wide.
"Seriously? She did?" Annabeth nods her head emphatically, her eyes sparkling. "Congratulations, wise girl!"
He gives her a much more thorough kiss this time, and Annabeth reciprocates gladly.
"Thank the Gods," she mutters as she pulls back, Percy reluctantly letting go of her bottom lip. "I don't think I could have redesigned it one more time."
"Think of all the extra time you'll have," Percy says, wiggling his eyebrows as he pulls away and goes to hang his coat up on the hat rack by the door. "Maybe you can actually focus on your degree now, instead of just taking weekend classes."
Annabeth shakes her head.
"Mmmm, nope. Designing Olympus is still a full time job."
"It's been six years since you started."
"And it will probably be another six before I'm done."
Percy grabs a knife and takes over her job of dicing the olives. He pretends that they are Kronos' head.
"Well, at least we get a nice dinner out of it."
"If it's not nice, I bought two bottles of extremely cheap red wine," Annabeth says, holding them up as proof.
"I approve," Percy grins. "What are we making, anyways?"
"Tacos," Annabeth says promptly. She narrows her eyes. "Act excited."
"I'M SO EXCITED!" Percy responds, enthusiastically waving his knife in the air. "TACOS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO COME BY IN NEW YORK CITY!"
"Shut up," Annabeth laughs, jabbing her knife dangerously at him. Percy looks, cross eyed, at the knife lurking dangerously close to his nose.
"We are way too comfortable with knives," he says.
Annabeth looks stricken.
"Yeah, we really are."
They stand there for a moment, staring at the knives that they are holding casually in their hands, and then both shrug and turn back to the food that they are preparing.
"I mean, we haven't started drinking yet," Percy points out. "So that's good."
In response, Annabeth points to the kitchen counter, where a third bottle of wine rests, open and partly consumed.
"I started without you," she says. "I was a bit nervous about the whole cooking idea."
"It was your idea!" Percy guffaws.
"Well, it made me nervous!" Annabeth says defensively, watching as he laughs.
"Did you drink straight from the bottle?" Percy asks, coming to his senses, and when Annabeth nods he cocks his head to the side and gives her a goofy half smile. "That's my girl."
She curtsies in response, the action looking altogether odd on a woman wearing her work clothes and an apron depicting Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home. With a final smile at him, Annabeth turns back to the stove.
"The meat should be ready really soon," she informs him.
"You should probably change out of your work clothes, in that case," Percy suggests, and Annabeth nods and gives him a kiss on the cheek before walking a few steps into their bedroom.
He can hear her clothes piling on the floor, and a moment later being dumped onto the chest at the side of the room. When one is a part time college student and a full time designer of Olympus, she doesn't have time to be as meticulous as she'd prefer when it comes to cleanliness. This is the best compromise that she has been able to come up with.
"How was your lecture?" Annabeth calls to him from their room.
"Good," Percy projects back to her. "Professor Lance decided to be in a good mood tonight, so that was a bonus."
"Miracle of miracles!" Annabeth responds, coming out of the bedroom. Her jeans are buttoned, but her shirt is half off, showing the white cotton bra underneath.
"Aw, now you've ruined all the mystery of the night," Percy whines.
"The bra. I know what your bra looks like, so there's no reason to go on."
Annabeth stares at him blankly.
"Your mystery of the night is which bra I'm wearing?"
"When I undress you, it's like unwrapping a present," Percy says seriously.
"Oh my god, Percy," Annabeth moans.
"Small pleasures, Annabeth."
She cocks her head at him, looking totally baffled, then shakes her head as though clearing it.
"Um. I guess I could go put on a different bra so that you could enjoy it later on?"
Percy looks hopeful.
Moving closer, Annabeth slaps him hard on the arm.
He grins at her.
Resisting the strong urge to roll her eyes, Annabeth turns to the stove, where her ground beef is sizzling animatedly.
"Foreplay would imply that both of us are awake enough to have sex tonight," she sighs.
Percy, standing next to her at the counter, looks deep into her eyes.
"We can do this, Annabeth."
"Wine puts you to sleep," Annabeth reminds him. "Besides, I'm tired and you already know what my bra looks like. How about tomorrow night?"
"That's what you said last night!"
"Yeah, and then you got to third base. Everybody wins."
"Annabeth, we're having sex tonight," Percy says sternly. "Drink some coffee and get in the mood."
They go back to making the tacos and end up eating them on their living room floor, passing a bottle of wine back and forth. Percy endearingly gets the taco all over his face, while Annabeth eats hers in neatly and dignified manner. Afterwards, Percy stretches out and puts his head on her lap while she strokes his hair. Pretty soon, he's snoring.
Percy wakes up on the floor, a pillow tucked underneath his head. His bones ache, but not in the good way. As soon as he realizes what he has done, he moves the pillow over so that he can bang his head on the floor angrily. His head throbbing, he rises, eyes going to the clock in the dark. It says 4:36 in giant green letters. Yawning enormously, Percy stumbles into the bedroom and hauls himself onto the bed. Annabeth is sleeping peacefully, her tank top slipping low over her breasts, legs peeking out from her simple purple underwear. He taps her insistently on the shoulder, causing her to swat his hand away in her sleep. Persistently, Percy moves closer, his breath against her ear as he whispers,
"Annabeth, sex now?"
"No," she mumbles. "Sleep now."
"Ugh… I promised… sorry."
Percy kisses her three times on the shoulder, then collapses onto the bed, falling asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.
As soon as his eyes open, he registers that Annabeth is not next to him. Light is spilling through the curtains of their bedroom, illuminating the turquoise walls. Immediately, Percy sits up, panic coursing through him. Usually, she'll wake him up when she leaves for work. Usually, she'll give him a kiss goodbye.
"Annabeth!" he shouts. "Annabeth, are you here?"
No answer. His alarm rises as he shoves back the covers and leaps off of the bed, running for the bathroom. At the sight of the light peeking under the door and the sound of the shower running, his heart slows considerably. He opens the door and storms in, calling out her name.
"What?" Annabeth demands, sounding annoyed. He can see her frame through the cloudy shower curtain. She's just finishing washing her hair.
"Nothing. I…I just didn't see you," Percy says sheepishly.
Every once in a while, their PTSD will rear its ugly head. It happens more than either of them would like. Mostly, they would like to be rid of it altogether.
"Sorry," Annabeth replies, her voice softening. He can see her reaching for the soap. "I didn't want to wake you. You had such a busy week last week."
Percy puts down the toilet seat and sits on it, placing his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. Sadly, this is not the first time that they have had conversations while the other is in the shower. Yeah. They're busy.
"Why are you showering so early, anyways? It's Saturday."
"I have to lecture to get to," Annabeth reminds him. "Not all of us get a weekend."
Percy makes a face.
"Annabeth, do you know how long it's been since I've gotten laid?"
"I would assume that it's the same amount of time since I've gotten laid," she snickers.
"A long ass time, that is how long," Percy continues as though she has not spoken.
Annabeth peaks her head out around the shower curtain. Her sopping wet hair drips beads of water onto the floor, curls straightening out in the weight of the water. He feels something stir in his stomach and it's all he can do to stop himself from kissing her.
"It's good to know that you only want me for my body," Annabeth says pointedly.
Percy rolls his eyes.
"Don't even try to pretend like you think that's true."
A smile stretches out across her face.
"What time is it, Percy?"
He checks his cell phone.
"Get in," Annabeth commands nonchalantly.
"I have a whole hour until I need to get to class. Get in the shower."
He takes off his shirt in about two seconds, his pants pooling onto the floor soon after.
"I love your ideas."
"And I love you."
"Mhhmmm," she agrees, kissing him tenderly and trailer her fingers over his cheeks. "I love you too." It's quiet for a while, just the sound of their mouths slicking together. He's in between the stages of wow, I love when her breasts are crushed against my chest and skfsdflsdlskdf when Annabeth's voice says, "Percy?"
"It's been a while, and we're on a time limit."
"Skipping the foreplay?"
"Skipping the foreplay."
For the next several weeks, shower sex becomes the norm. It's no longer an issue when Percy and Annabeth come home absolutely exhausted from their days. Before, when he would have an essay to write and would have to stay up all night to do so, Annabeth would merely resign herself to not getting touched until the next night. Or, when Annabeth would have to work late up on Olympus, Percy would simply go to sleep to distract himself from the loneliness. Shower sex introduces a new era to their lives. They can work guiltlessly all night and then get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning. Problem solved.
Percy goes through several stages when it comes to this new idea. First, he's cautious because it's new and different. Then, he's excited because it's new, different, and awesome. Annabeth accepts his enthusiasm with some amusement, though she eventually sees how she benefits from it. There comes a period when he cannot hear water running without getting slightly turned on. Next, Percy decides to eschew all other types of sex that are not shower sex. After all, it's exceedingly practical: a great wall, no extra clean up afterwards, and time efficient. He's on top of the world for at least two weeks. And then, shockingly, he goes through another stage: withdrawal.
He misses cuddling. As weird as it is, spooning isn't as awesome when Annabeth is already dead asleep and Percy has just finished a power point on some boring subject. He loves her dearly, but snuggling is always more worth it when two people are awake for it. Also, at the risk of sounding like a girl, he misses the intimacy of sex in a bed. Somehow, it feels different than shower sex.
He says this to Jason one night when Annabeth is at a class and the two of them are at the bar.
"You miss the intimacy of sex, but you're having sex every morning?" Jason echoes, trying to understand. "Percy, that makes no sense."
Percy takes a swig of his beer, mind half on the conversation and half on the Knicks game.
"Shower sex is dirty sex," Percy says flatly. "And at first it was great, but now it's like… hey, we love each other, too."
Jason stares at him, thunderstruck.
"But… you're still having sex every day."
Percy finally turns his eyes away from the TV screen and looks back at his friend.
"I just want to do it in a bed, okay?" he huffs out, frustrated. "Or, like, even a bath. Or on the couch. Just, something other than super-fast, super-efficient shower sex."
Jason nods his head thoughtfully.
"Well, my advice would be to be the master of your own fate. If you want to have sex in a bed, seduce Annabeth into bed. It seems like that's the only way."
"I guess you're right."
If he was a woman, all he'd have to do was walk around in some sort of lingerie and he'd be all set. But Percy? Percy has to actually use his brain to get her into bed. If he started walking around naked, she'd probably get annoyed and kick him to the couch with some witty comment about how uncomfortable it is there.
But wait… there's nothing she can say about him walking around half naked.
When Percy gets home, he immediately checks around for his girlfriend. She is nowhere to be seen- probably staying after class to go over her last essay. He hates that she takes classes on the weekends, but there's nothing he can do about. Annabeth wants what Annabeth wants. And right now, all he has to do is make Annabeth want him.
The first thing he does is take a shower. He only gets out when he hears the front door slam closed, at which point he hurries over to the closet and puts on some boxers and an old pair of jeans. He meanders into the kitchen just as Annabeth is slumping exhaustedly into a kitchen chair, her head on the table. She's wearing clothes on the more professional side, and they accentuate her figure nicely.
He really hopes that this plan works.
"Hi, love," Percy says, pausing in the door way to the kitchen. "How was your day?"
Annabeth lets out a sigh, the sound muffled by her arms.
"Oh, it was…" she begins, and she trails off as lifts her head and looks at him. "Good?"
"That's nice," Percy responds. Annabeth's eyes flicker from his chest to his hair, her eyebrows contracting.
"You… you took a shower."
"Yeah," Percy nods. "I was thinking of getting up early tomorrow and doing some work at the library. This way I can just wake up, have coffee, and go."
"No shower tomorrow?" Annabeth whispers, looking hurt.
Percy shrugs, pretending to be oblivious.
"I'm really into time efficiency lately," he says. "Thanks for that, by the way."
"Yeah," Annabeth says absently, sitting back in her chair and biting her lip. "You're welcome."
"Well, you look absolutely exhausted," Percy says. "How about some scotch?"
"Oh, I don't want any sc-" Annabeth starts, but Percy has gotten onto his tip toes and is stretching his entire body so that he can reach the highest cabinet, the one that they happen to keep the scotch in. He hears her whimper as he grasps the bottle and tugs it down from the shelf that it's resting on.
"Scotch?" he asks again, holding up the bottle and lifting it into the air.
Her eyes are on his biceps as she says, "Mhhhmm." He sees her begin to twirl her hair around her finger and suddenly, triumphantly, realizes that he's going to win this.
And if his chest doesn't do it, he's going to win because scotch makes her horny.
Percy reaches into another cupboard, lifting up on his bare feet, and grabs two glasses, which he then proceeds to fill with scotch. He pads over to the table, holds his hand out to Annabeth, and when she takes it he helps her up.
"You look tired," he says. "We should go sit on the couch."
She nods, glassy eyed, and follows him to the couch.
"I am tired," she adds belatedly, and he would almost feel bad about seducing her except her skin is starting to become tinged pink, so he knows that it's too late to stop it. He gently brings her to the couch and watches her flop gratefully onto it. He joins her only a moment later and hands her the drink that he has poured for her, then sits down next to her. Immediately, her head goes to his chest, which is still bare. "You smell good," Annabeth murmurs into his skin. "And you're warm. And I love you."
Percy shivers at her breath against his skin. She subconsciously rubs her cheek against him, her soft hair brushing up against him. His hand instinctively goes up to stroke it, still so long and blond, and yeah, sometimes he still can't believe that he's allowed to casually touch her like this. Sometimes he still can't believe that they have moments like these on the couch, and that he can see her naked, and that she's in love with him as much as he's in love with her. Sometimes it knocks the breath out of him, their relationship.
"I'm sorry that we've had difficulty with making time for the important stuff lately," Percy says suddenly. "The non-school related stuff."
Annabeth looks surprised.
"Really?" she questions, reaching out to take a sip of scotch.
"Yeah. I think we've been so focused on the future that we kinda forget about each other."
Annabeth squints up at him.
"Yes, I suppose we did."
"But college isn't the most important thing," Percy says, his voice getting louder. His hand is under her shirt, making tiny circles on her bare back with his thumb.
"No, it isn't," Annabeth replies, eyes troubled.
"And no matter how much romance we put our time into, I'm still going to be a teacher and you're still going to be an architect," he says confidently.
"That's a lovely thought," Annabeth yawns.
Her chest is falling and rising rhythmically as she gazes up at him. She seems so tired.
"You can go to sleep if you want," he says softly, still playing with her hair lovingly.
"Okay," Annabeth murmurs, looking up to smile at him, but as soon as he sees the smile, he lowers his lips to hers, unable to help himself. She kisses him back immediately, and when he pulls back, her eyes are much more alert. "Or we could do this."
Annabeth shifts her position so that she's straddling him, and Percy feels a satisfied jump in his heart when he realizes that her hair is dry and curly. He runs his fingers through it as she begins to trail kisses down his chest.
"So, this shower sex thing," Percy begins.
"Mhmm?" Annabeth replies, voice muffled by his skin.
Percy loses his train of thought as her lips get lower.
"Ummm," he stutters. "Ummm..."
Annabeth looks at him, her eyes wide and sparkling.
"I'm pretty done with it," he tells her boldly. "I want to make more time for each other."
"I mean, we can still do it in the shower," Percy adds. "But not all the time."
"And I want to do it in a bed more often!"
He feels like he's on a roll now.
"And I want to snuggle afterwards!"
Annabeth bursts out laughing.
"You want to snuggle?"
"Yeah," Percy says defiantly. "I like spooning. So sue me."
Annabeth raises her lips back to his and kisses him.
"I like spooning too," she informs Percy, whispering the words against his lips.
They continue kissing, Percy's hand slipping further up her shirt.
"Are you still tired?" he tries to say, but she's doing this thing to his bottom lip that makes coherency kind of difficult.
"Nope," Annabeth says breathlessly before going back in for his lip.
"So we can keep going?"
"Oh yes," she agrees. "Besides, we haven't solved the mystery of the night."
"What's that?" Percy questions, confused.
Annabeth's eyes sparkle with mischief.
"You don't know which bra I'm wearing yet."
He finds out quite soon after that.