The Nanny and the Butler
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
It had taken Annabeth nearly a week to work up the courage to call her mother's number.
Thanksgiving had distracted her with all the preparation and the amount of friends and family that arrived at the penthouse-Zeus and Hera absent of course. She had phoned her father in San Francisco like she usually did and he was surprisingly supportive of her working for school.
But, on a nearly snowy Wednesday afternoon, Annabeth could put it off no longer.
The kids were at school and Percy had headed across the city to return some plates that his mom had brought over for the holiday. Annabeth sat in the empty penthouse, nibbling her lip and staring at the piece of paper in her hand. It was cricked by now and one of the numbers was slightly smudged. Taking a breath, she dialled the number on her phone and pressed it to her ear, listing to the ringing.
A moment later, the phone was picked up and she heard a familiar voice ask, "Annabeth?"
It was strange to hear her after so long; Athena's voice sounded different, even somewhat uncertain.
"Yah, yah it's me, Mom," she managed to say.
"Poseidon said that you would call. I think that you must have some questions."
That was a severe understatement.
"Do we have to do this over the phone?" Annabeth wondered out loud and Athena paused before she answered her.
"No, no I can send someone to pick you up in a car. We could have lunch together and I could explain everything...if you wanted to."
It felt a little too soon and as stupid as it sounded, Annabeth didn't really want to do this without Percy. They were a team of sorts and she liked having someone to have her back. Then again, Athena was her mother. "Alright...I have to be back for two though."
"That won't be a problem. I'll see you in a while then." Athena hung up the phone before Annabeth could ask how she would know when the car was arriving or even where they were going.
It turned out, however, to not be a problem because Annabeth knew the person her mother had sent. Her phone rang again a few minutes after Athena had hung up and it was Clarisse. Annabeth really didn't have the time or the patience to make chit chat at that very moment but the other girl was clear and to the point.
"I'm outside in the black car, Annabeth," she said shortly, "Your mom is expecting you for lunch."
And with that, she had ended the call, leaving Annabeth in a state of shock. She was careful to wait until she got into the car downstairs before she lost her patience.
"Since when do you work for my mother?!" she demanded to know as the car drew away from the curb.
The other girl kept up her air of indifference, choosing to lounge on the seat while tapping at her phone. "I said that I got a new job; never said who for. Your mom pays good money and no, I have not been spying on you."
Annabeth sat back against her seat, clutching her own phone in her hands. The car ride went on for a few minutes, before stopping outside a tall building with windows for walls. Clarisse and Annabeth stepped out of the car and walked through the entrance. Clarisse led the way to the elevator and pushed the button for the top floor.
"What is it with rich people and tallest point of a building?" Annabeth mused to herself, earning a grin from Clarisse.
The elevator dinged open a few minutes later and Annabeth was hurried into a large room with a stunning view of the city. She only saw the small table, set for two, in the middle of the room. Athena was sat at one of the chairs, reading the menu. She hadn't changed much since Annabeth had last seen her, much to the girl's surprise. She still had the impossibly intimidating air about her that made her daughter feel about five year old. Athena looked up and saw her.
The two of them exchanged hesitant smiles and Annabeth quickly sat down across from her mother, if only to give herself something to do. A waiter appeared from a door in the corner and took their order, while Clarisse across the room, now tapping away at a tablet. Annabeth didn't even really pay much attention to her order, just asking for the first thing she saw on the menu. Finally, she and her mother were left alone. Athena gave a once over, putting a smile on her face.
"It's been a while I know; that's my fault."
Annabeth really didn't want to have to go through a long drawn out conversation with her; she needed to put the Graces first. "I'm not here to sort out any problems that we have," she said sternly, "I am here to find out what you are up to and how the kids are going to be affected by it."
"How very official of you," Athena commented, "You get that from me, of course."
Annabeth shook her head and rubbed her temples for a moment as she asked, "What have you got planned Mom?"
Athena cleared her throat and paused before answering. "In a few months time, near the end of January, the bank accounts of all the Olympians will be drained dry and signed confessions about their involvement in Kronus' death and any other illegal activities will be sent to the authorities."
Annabeth let out a breath and leaned back in her chair. Her mother had just laid out the downfall of some of the world's most powerful people right on the table. She had said it like she had been reading a number from the phone book.
"That's some plan," Annabeth said, "But what makes you think that the Olympians will just go along with this; don't you think they'd just tell the truth."
Athena smiled wearily and they were interrupted by their drinks arriving. Once the waiter left again, Athena spoke. "If the Olympians are anything, they are self-serving. The authorities will see the confessions and the "donation" of the money as something in their favour. So the Olympians will go along with it because it makes them look better."
Annabeth was thankful of the arrival of their meal because it gave her time to think this through. Her mother was smart and had obviously thought all of this through. There was every chance that her plan would work.
"Zeus and Hera are up to something," she said, halfway through her sandwich, "I think they are planning and they've involved the kids in it somehow. It has something to do with their signatures."
This seemed to trouble Athena and she mused over this for a while. Finally, when their plates got taken away, she spoke. "It is possible that they know of my plan or at least, have some inkling that there is a threat. If I was them and I needed another person's signature...then it would be to hide money away. The children are still quite young so any transfer of funds to secret accounts would be under their parents' control. If these are accounts that not even I can access then signatures would be need to open them in the children's names. My guess: Zeus and Hera are hoarding away money and will bolt with the children at any moment."
Annabeth stood up sharply, knocking over her chair. Clarisse and Athena stood up too but it was Annabeth who spoke first.
"What?! They couldn't-Oh my God, the kids are at school right now."
She pulled out her phone and practically ran to the elevator.
"Annabeth wait!" Athena called and managed to catch her arm. "This is not the time for rash action!"
"This is the perfect time for rash action," Annabeth exclaimed, "What if they try to take the kids?"
Athena let go of her arm and smoothed out her cream dress. "I have people watching Zeus and Hera; they can't get close enough to gain information but they know where they are. They won't make a move yet."
Annabeth let out a breath and ran a hand through her hair in frustration. "Well, if that's the case then what do I do in the meantime? I can't just wait around for the moment they try to take them."
Athena turned to Clarisse and mumbled, "Bring the car around."
The girl nodded and walked back to the elevator, leaving Annabeth and her mom alone. The room suddenly felt too big and too exposed and Annabeth just wanted out of there and to see the kids, safe and right in front of her.
"It's nearly Christmas," Athena said, "I would suggest that you celebrate the holidays with the children like normal; the coming weeks may be difficult."
That wasn't an honest answer or even a good one but it was the best she was going to get in that moment.
"Alright," Annabeth sighed and she just went back to the elevator and pressed the button.
"I never meant for you to get involved in all of this," Athena said, as the doors slid open again.
"I know," Annabeth said and she stepped inside. "Thank you, Mom," she added, "For whatever help you are giving us."
Athena did not get a chance to respond because the doors shut between them.
The weeks went by quickly and Annabeth spent them trying to make the coming Christmas the best it could be for the Graces. It would be their first with so many people. Sally and Paul were coming for dinner while Thalia and Luke would call over for desert after spending the afternoon at Hermes'. Annabeth was actually glad that they weren't coming for the whole day because she didn't think she could look Luke in the face knowing what she did about Athena's plan for his father. Tyson and Poseidon were going to phone them and the Stolls were going to come to open presents.
The kids barely slept the night before and Annabeth was woken up by the door bursting open and Katie and Hazel running into her room. "Wake up Annabeth!" they called, "Santa Claus came!"
Annabeth managed a tiered smile and she pulled her hair up in a messy ponytail. Throwing on a light cardigan over her pyjamas, she followed the girls out into the hallway. The boys had obviously just done the same to Percy because he strolled out of his door, looking just as tiered as she did.
"I told you we should have locked their doors last night," he said, "We'd still be asleep right now."
Annabeth ignored his quip and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Merry Christmas Percy," she said, waking up a bit more as his warm arms went around her waist.
"Merry Christmas Annabeth; you can clean up the wrapping paper."
She laughed and let go of him only to see that the kids were impatiently waiting in the hallway. "Alright, go in!" she said and the four of them raced into the room. The next few minutes were spent unwrapping gifts and saying thank you, with Percy getting hot chocolate for everyone.
When he walked back into the kitchen with some empty cups, Katie jumped up to sit beside Annabeth on the couch. "Annabeth, I think I left another gift in the kitchen."
Annabeth frowned at her, watching as Katie practically bounced on the cushions.
"Which gift?" she asked, looking around at the items sitting on the coffee table and the chairs. She had helped Katie wrap all of her presents and put them under the tree. The only one she hadn't seen was her own from Katie but she had already open it.
"I'm sure there is one in the kitchen," Katie persisted.
Annabeth sighed and walked towards the swinging door of the kitchen, even just to figure out what Katie was up to. She reached it just as Percy exited the room, holding the door open for her. The smell of the Christmas dinner cooking wafted out of the room and Annabeth's mouth practically watered.
She stood in the doorway with Percy and asked, "Did you see a gift from Katie in there?"
Percy frowned and shook his head. "There's nothing in there," he said and they both stepped back into the living room.
Katie deflated slightly when she saw this but quickly made herself busy with her new presents.
"What was that about?" Percy asked but Annabeth just shrugged.
The rest of the day went pretty calmly and Sally and Paul came over in good time; Sally didn't want to leave Percy and Annabeth with all the cooking. The Stolls arrived with bright smiles and greetings. Travis and Connor were excited to be spending time with other kids on Christmas. Even when Katie started to act weird again, trying to get Annabeth and Percy to walk over to the living room archway for some unknown reason, Travis didn't tease her. Instead he planted a big kiss on her cheek, shocking her slightly.
Travis grinned and pointed upwards. "Mistletoe," he said, which just caused Katie to nearly punch him. They actually got along pretty well after that.
The Stolls left just before dinner was served and everyone sat down. The food looked amazing, including the blue cake for desert. Plates were filled and emptied again while warm chatter filled the once silent and cold room. As if on cue, Thalia and Luke showed up just as the cake was being dished out. Percy knew that to see her friends and to not tell them such devastating information was going to be difficult for Annabeth. So he did most of the talking and prompted the kids to tell everyone about how school was going.
It was getting late by the time everyone finally left and Percy and Annabeth only had the energy to put on a DVD and curl up on the couch. Somehow, with two armchairs and a beanbag, all four kids ended up squished on the couch around Percy and Annabeth, with a pile of blankets and cushions. As the movie played, they kept an eye out for drooping heads and yawns.
By the time Hazel was practically unconscious on Jason's shoulder, Annabeth said, "Alright guys, it is defiantly time for bed." Surprisingly, none of them complained; they just stood up and shuffled towards the stairs.
Annabeth followed them and Percy went with her to help. Teeth were brushed and pyjamas were put back on and all four kids went to their beds gladly.
Katie was the last one, as she stood in her doorway, staring at Percy and Annabeth. They stared back at her, completely clueless before Katie sighed and said, "You two are impossible."
With that she shut her door and went to sleep. "That's the third time she's been like that today," Annabeth stated, "What was up with her?"
She looked at Percy who was trying not to laugh and he pointed upwards. Annabeth looked at the ceiling above them and there, sticking to a beam, was a sprig of mistletoe.
"Oh," she said, looking back at him, "So that's it. She's been trying to get us to kiss."
Percy nodded, staring at her with those green eyes she had noticed the first day they'd met. "Well, I was hoping I'd get to kiss you without any mistletoe."
Annabeth startled at his honesty. Of course, she had feelings for him, how could she not? In the few months they had known each other, he had found out more about her than her closet friends. He was always by her side and she knew that she couldn't have faced some of the challenges she had without him. And he was funny and cute and maddening and so very Percy. But with everything going on, with all that was coming, were they really going to cross that line? And to admit it so openly? That wasn't something she had been expecting.
Percy actually blushed slightly and added, "I figured what Katie was doing a few hours ago; it took me that amount of time to think of a good response."
That finally had Annabeth laughing but she tried to muffle it because of the kids. Percy grinned at her and she stared at the guy who had come to mean so much to her.
"It wasn't a bad line Seaweed Brain," she whispered, tilting her head at him.
Percy stepped closer to her, mumbling, "Thanks Wise Girl."
And, without fear of the future, Annabeth leaned forward and kissed him. They could have kissed all night but the sound of an excited "Yes!" broke them apart.
All four kids were sticking their head out of the rooms, grinning at them. "I knew it!" Leo exclaimed before Jason said to him, "You owe me a bag of gummy bears." Katie was smiling knowingly while Hazel was bouncing up and down in her bunny slippers.
Annabeth blushed wildly while Percy just let himself laugh. "Go to bed!" she ordered and the children ducked back into their rooms.
Annabeth turned back to Percy who was still grinning and leaning against the banister. "Are we really doing this?" she asked him carefully.
He straightened up and took her hand in his. "All I know is, whatever is coming our way, I want to be right beside you no matter what."
Well, how could she refuse something like that? "Come on," he said, "Let's go watch the rest of the movie."
She walked down the stairs with him and sat down on the couch for the next hour, choosing not to worry about anything else for the moment.