A Phone Call and A Little Black Dress
"Are you going to apologize for being a dick?" Percy heard Annabeth say through the muffled speaker.
She was pissed, very pissed. That wasn't much of a surprise. Percy felt the words get caught in his throat. He could almost feel them roll off the tip of his tongue, but when he opened his mouth, no sounds came out.
"Well? Seriously Jackson, if you're gonna call me and tell me the we need to talk, I expect at least some sort of articulation." She spoke bluntly.
He couldn't explain it, but he felt like he was setting himself up for failure.
"I… " He mumbled, trying to find the right words.
He didn't want to have this discussion with her over the phone, he wanted to see her, and talk face to face. He bit his lower lip, cursing himself for not being able to get the words out. He should've started out by apologizing, but the image of Annabeth, and whatever-his-name was still fresh on his mind. He took a moment to close his eyes and calm himself, before he let his anger get the best of him, again.
"Gods, Percy, I have a meeting in like 5 minutes, get out with it already!" She said impatiently.
There was no longer any anger to her voice, simply annoyance.
"Let's go on a date, you and me, this Friday. And don't say you have other plans, cause I know you don't." He said in a rushed breath.
His mouth was dry, but he felt like some weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
"Look, I know I was a dick, to…"
"Hunter." Annabeth finished for him.
"Right, Hunter. I know I overreacted, and that wasn't alright. But, can you even blame me? I mean seriously Annabeth, things between us have been so tense since we came back, it's like I don't— I thought…" His voice trailed off, unable to finish that stream of words.
"Oh, by all means, please continue." She spoke, a hint of sarcasm lacing her voice, he could almost see her rolling her eyes at him. He ran his free hand through his hair.
"Annabeth," He took a breath before saying anything else. "I, I don't wanna fight." He said.
There was another pause.
"Neither do I." Her voice was small now, like even the simple act of speaking was draining the energy from her.
"So, it's settled then? We're going to a party this Friday, with underage drinking and actual people, and we'll pretend like we're actually cool enough to be there?" He asked, trying to lighten the mood and he heard her let out a small scoff.
Percy bit his lip, as he waited for an answer.
"Correction, you're probably not cool enough, me on the other hand…"
A small smile made its way to his lips. "Right. So it's a date?" He asked one last time.
"Fine. Just remember to text me the details later." She said, "Goodbye, Jackson."
"Goodbye, Chase." He said and hung up.
On a scale of one, to a radioactive war-zone, that conversation hadn't been nearly as disastrous as Percy had thought it would be. He decided not to waste anymore time aimlessly walking around Goode. Feeling the crumpled up paper pressed against his hand, inside his pocket, he headed home.
"You've got everything? Your keys? Your phone? Your jacket? Do you have your jacket, you know how cold it gets!" Sally Jackson fumbled, as she tried to smooth out Percy's hair.
"Mom, I'm fine. Seriously! Stop!" He said trying to swat her hand away.
His mom crossed her hands and stepped back looking at him.
"I can't believe how grown up you look!" She mumbled as she looked at him.
"Mom, it's not like I'm moving away, it's just a party I'm going to with Annabeth. No big deal." He said jokingly, and Sally smiled.
"Oh I know, but you know how us moms are, we just get sentimental." She laughed and Paul joined in.
"Let's not embarrass the kid any further and let him go, look at him, he's practically out the door already." Paul said and winked at Percy.
"Right, right. Don't come home too late, and call us when you're on your way back, and tell Annabeth we said hi." His mother continued, but he was already past the door.
"Be careful!" His mom said as she began to close the door.
"Yeah, love you!" Percy said, got in the elevator and made his way down.
He made his way through the parking lot and got in the car, his step-father had lent him with the condition that he had to return it in a pristine state (considering how on previous occasions, when Paul had lent his car to Percy, it had been ran over by a certain black pegasus). His parents still got nervous over Percy's driving. He'd only gotten his license about a month ago, but after steering old greek chariots and Pegasi, driving a car felt like a breeze to him. Although, he didn't at all use the car that much (New York City traffic was a bitch when it wanted to be), he enjoyed the freedom and the option to go visit his friends at camp if he wanted to.
You mean the ones you haven't talked to in ages?, he thought to himself, as he jammed the key into the slot, and turned on the ignition. He really should've given them a call, or at least send them an e-mail or something, but things were hectic enough as it was and he didn't wan't to bother them. Besides, the only person he had talked to from his old life was Grover, and it'd only been to tell him he was back.
He hadn't mentioned the incident, or his troubles with Annabeth, or any of it for that matter, just a simple "Hey G-man, how's it been? I'm sorry for being out of touch for so long, but I'm back home. So whenever you come visit, just give me a call, okay? -P. Jackson" There was no point in saying much, they hadn't seen each other in almost a year and Grover was doing his own thing, being Lord of the Wild and all. He had a life, and Percy wasn't about to just barge into it with his problems. Pushing his thoughts aside, he decided he'd better get going, if he wanted to get his girlfriend on time.
Feeling the soft roar of the engine as it came alive, he started making his way to Annabeth's apartment.
Thanks to the traffic, it took him about 20 to 30 minutes to reach her apartment.
He thanked the gods that she lived on one of the less crowded streets of NYC. He'd been nervous the entire car ride, and as he pulled over, it had only gotten worse. He tapped his anxiously on the steering wheel, as he pulled up on the curve next to her building. It wasn't much, just a plain, old brick colored building, with small windows that signaled where each room was. He saw Annabeth's window on the third floor, her light was on and he could se her silhouette move along the small curtains. He turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. The night air felt cold against his face. He buried his hands deeper into the pockets of his jacket and buzzed in Annabeth's apartment. 3A. After a few seconds a voice answered.
"Hey, I'm here." He spoke into the speaker, tapping his foot on the dark grey steps.
"Oh, I'll be down in a sec, just stay there." She spoke and the line went dead.
Percy leaned against the brick wall, deciding what exactly he was going to say to her. Were they going to talk about their 'fight', or had that been forgotten for now? Was he going to bring up the last few weeks? The last few months? He sighed as he shuffled uneasily on his feet. The wait was excruciating, but was it because he was anxious to see her, or the complete opposite? The sound of the door opening was what snapped him out of his thoughts and back into reality.
Annabeth closed the door behind her as she stepped into the pavement. Her hair fell down her back, and side of her face. She wore a simple black dress, with a tights and a deep red coat. She was wearing makeup too, it wasn't a lot, Percy noticed. More like subtle hints of it here and there. Percy stared for a moment.
There was a brief moment whenever he saw her, where he'd forget everything. Where she was the only thing in the panorama, and he enjoyed looking at her. There wasn't any particular reason for it, she wasn't more beautiful than what she had been a week ago, neither was she doing anything remotely interesting. Yet he simply liked looking at her, when she was unsuspecting of his eyes on her. She turned around and saw him.
"What?" She asked, running her hands through her hair.
She was beautiful, no one could argue that, but she was so many other things too. There were layers, and layers of complexity to her, and Percy feared he would never be able to decipher them all.
"Huh? Oh, nothing. You look great, now let's go, it's kind of freezing out here." He said with a small smile and she followed him.
He opened her door and proceeded to get in the car himself. He started the engine as she took off her coat and set it on her lap. Her dark sleeved dress contrasted greatly against her pale hands. He began to pull away from the curve when he heard her mumble.
"Shit." He stopped the car.
"What happened?" He asked and she looked at him.
"I left my lights on," She said pointing at her window.
"Two minutes with you and this is what happens" She said with a smirk, and he smiled. "Wait here, I swear this will take less than a minute!" She said as she started getting out of the car.
"No problem." He replied and watched her walk back over to the building.
He rested his hands on the steering wheel and reached for the radio when he heard something beep. It was Annabeth's phone, she had put it on the car's cup holders. There were two more beeps, one followed immediately by another. Percy picked up the phone curiously, there were 3 new messages. The screen showed only the beginning of each:
New Message from HUNTER:
He doesn't know does he? Wh…
New Message from HUNTER:
I'm serious Anna, you nee…
New Message from HUNTER:
You should tell him.
Hunter, that was the guy from Annabeth's class, the one she had been hanging out with when Percy had seen her on his way to school, the NYU guy. Why was he texting her, and what was he talking about? Who should tell who what? Percy stared at the screen for a few more seconds trying to figure out what the half messages flashing on the screen meant.
He wasn't going to unlock her phone and read her messages, he knew Annabeth well enough to know that going through her stuff was never a good idea. But still, curiosity couldn't help but eat at him. Was Hunter talking about him? If so, what was Annabeth hiding from him? Something burned through Percy impulsively. A million more questions forming themselves in his mind. Why was Annabeth keeping anything from him? When had they started keeping secrets from each other? And how did that fucker now more about what was going on with Annabeth, than Percy? What made him so goddamn special?
It was stupid, but Percy felt cheated. Not because Annabeth was talking to Hunter, but because he'd been trying for so long to knock down all of Annabeth's walls, and here she was building new ones, just underneath Percy's nose. He was tired of playing an endless game of cat and mouse with her, and decrypting every single thing she said. All the fight he had in him had been drained out, instead there was only vacancy. An overwhelming feeling of nothing that coursed through his veins.
He put the phone back where it was and stared blankly at the road in front of him. He looked over at the building. The light was no longer on, which meant Annabeth should've been walking through the main entrance in a few seconds. Effectively, he saw her step out and walk towards him, a small smile on her face as she held her own body trying to fight off the cold. Her hair moved with her as she walked, and got in the car.
"Sorry about that," She looked at him and her smile wavered.
"Are you okay?" She asked and he just stared at the road.
"Yeah, I'm fine, let's just go." He said, and they took off down the empty street.