Sadie thought she knew what cute guys looked like.
Up until that point, she'd fallen for exactly two guys, and both seemed to like her back.
First there was Anubis: the Egyptian god of death and funerals. He was more of the silent type, dark and brooding and mysterious. His jet black hair and dark brown eyes made Sadie's heart race, beating faster and faster against her will each time she laid eyes on him. She liked it.
Then there was Walt Stone. Poor, sweet Walt, who warmed her heart to the core and made her feel special for who she was. Walt, who was doomed to die by the ancient curse that hung over his family's head. He, like Anubis, also had black hair and dark eyes, but his skin was a nice chocolate color, in contrast to Anubis's milky white skin tone.
Both Anubis and Walt would have made wonderful boyfriends separately, and in the back of her mind, Sadie was always followed by the lingering question of who she would choose when she would be forced to make a decision one day. So that's why Sadie was almost relieved when Anubis had nobly volunteered to inhibit Walt to save his life, making the latter the Eye of Anubis. Basically, in the end, Sadie wound up with a guy that was a combination of two boys she had huge crushes on. Why, she was prepping for a date with him/ them right now! How could she be so lucky?! She got the perfect two-for-one deal! Not many girls had that luxury of not having to choose. She didn't even have to choose between the two great guys, and at the end of the day she still wound up with both of them. All in one package. The boy of her dreams.
Or so she thought.
Sadie Kane had recently discovered that Anubis, Walt, or whatever you want to call the hybrid version of the two guys, was nothing compared to Percy Jackson.
Something about the guy just sent Sadie over the edge. As she tugged on the light lavender dress that sat, cleanly pressed, on her bed, she pondered what it was that made her feel that way. It wasn't just his fabulous good looks, although the smoldering green eyes and messy black hair certainly didn't hurt. It wasn't only because of his amazing muscles, which she had spent several days ogling and drooling over when she'd conjured up a slightly-altered memory in her head. And it also wasn't just because of his scary-good fighting skills and awesome powers. No, Sadie wasn't a stereotypical dumb blonde like that, since she mainly felt drawn to him because of their common sense of fun, and the way their minds worked. Although initially she'd been attracted to Walt and Anubis because of their charming looks, when it came down to it, Sadie always liked a guy based on him, his inner self and his personage. Basically, the stuff that mattered.
She had heard plenty of things from others about him, namely her annoying older brother Carter and her new-found friend Annabeth Chase. Both knew Percy Jackson before Sadie did, and she couldn't help being jealous because of that, as silly and childish of a notion as it was.
As she slipped on a pair of simple black flats that she retrieved from the mess that was her closet, Sadie recalled the day that she had come home and her brother had bragged about fighting and defeating the monster that had been terrorizing Brooklyn. Although Carter had actually fought the crocodile, he didn't tell her that he'd needed the assistance of a certain demigod named Percy Jackson, and he hadn't told her a thing about it until after she'd met Annabeth. She remembered as she sat down at her vanity and began to do her hair that she had fought another cook named Serapis with Annabeth about a month ago, and she had found out from the other girl that Annabeth was Percy's girlfriend, which, incidentally, was how Annabeth knew Percy. When they'd made the connection that Annabeth's boyfriend had fought the crocodile Serapis with Sadie's brother, she had stormed home, outraged that her brother had taken all the credit and didn't tell her about the discovery that Greek gods existed too, in addition to the Egyptian gods that they had once needed to deal with on a daily basis. It was all slightly confusing, and the information rattled around Sadie's brain as she twirled her long blonde hair into a bun atop her head, the purple highlights matching her pale dress. (She'd changed her hair from orange to purple immediately after the battle. It was sort of a tradition with herself.)
Even now, exactly three weeks later, Sadie still couldn't stop thinking about that encounter with the two teenage demigods. In fact, she had to concentrate even to clasp the silver necklace that rested on her nightstand around her neck. She had never met anyone like Percy before, except for Annabeth, but the two girls had only met a little over a month ago. Still, she'd instantly felt a connection with each that was unexplainable. With Annabeth, Sadie had sensed someone she could trust, and someone that could easily be a great new friend. That one had worked out as she had pictured, and since then the girls texted each other as much as they could on a weekly, sometimes even daily, basis. And with Percy, she had sensed someone who thought like her, who understood her. Someone who could relate to the energy she always felt and the jittery nerves she received right before a battle. Someone who understood that sometimes it was better to act than to think. Basically, someone who got her.
Sadie was jolted out of her wistful thoughts as she heard a light knock at her door. She turned around on the vanity seat with a sporadic twist, and accidentally knocked the bottle of perfume resting on the counter into the trash bin. Her brother's light smile and "Hey sis" was greeted with an inundation of curse words as Sadie tried to save what she could of the perfume bottle that was now nearly empty. Seeing her trouble, Carter frowned.
"Should I come back later?" he asked uncertainly. Sadie sighed and shook her head, waving her hand to indicate everything was fine.
"No, no, it's fine. Come on in, big bro." She smiled at him easily to assure him it was alright, and he stepped inside with a hesitant smile.
"Whatcha been doin'?" he asked her as he glanced around her room. She didn't know why. He'd been in here hundreds of times before, so it wasn't like there was anything new in here.
"Oh, I'm just getting ready for my date," she said, squealing like a little girl on the last word. She couldn't help it; she was excited. Who wouldn't be? She was going to a fancy restaurant with a really cute guy, who was actually two really cute guys forced to share the same body. Make sense? Yeah, it didn't to most people either. Even Sadie got confused sometimes.
Carter looked at her with an odd expression on his face. "You seem oddly excited. Usually you don't seem so worked up over girly stuff like this." He shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant. "I guess you're growing up. Woman stuff and all that." Sadie was oddly satisfied to see that Carter felt slightly embarrassed about this dating stuff. "Just make sure they- er, he- takes good care of you, okay? And if he tries to pull anything, just tell me, and I'll be down there so fast I'll..." He trailed off, seeing the slightly amused look on her face. "What?" He asked, bewildered. It made her realize how much her brother cared about her.
"Carter," she laughed, taking out the heart earrings she'd been wearing and replacing them with silver hoops. "I'm a big girl now, remember? I can take care of myself. And I know what I'm dealing with. Walt- Anubis, whatever- would never hurt me. I trust him- them." She smiled to assure him, though she could see that he really was concerned. She was given some satisfaction to know he was taking the big-brother stance on this situation, and it made her realize how much her brother truly cared about her.
He nodded, then placed a finger on his chin, as if trying to remember something. "I forgot what the other reason I came up here was." With a look from her, he added, "Besides coming to warn you about the dangers of mixing boys with hormones, let alone two boys, one of which has been a teenager for roughly 2,000 years now." He snapped his fingers in triumph. "I just remembered! I came to ask you if you would help me document that thing we did a few weeks ago." He answered her questioning look by saying, "You know. The run-in with the demigods, Percy and Annabeth. With the crown of Ptolemy."
Sadie gave him a dumbfounded look. "Of course I remember that! How could I forget? With you always rambling on about how cool Percy is-" Carter turned pink, "-and how hot Annabeth is-" he turned a shade pinker, "-it's impossible to forget! Plus, I talk to them all the time!" Her brother was now two or three shades darker than was probably healthy, so to ease the color of his cheeks, Sadie patted the side of her bed, and he complied by sitting down on the edge of it. "Loosen up a bit, brother dear" she said lovingly. "You look like a nutty git who's going to spring out of his pin the next chance he gets!" After he'd relaxed the tension in his shoulders, she brightened. "That's better! Now, let's get a move on. I've got a date coming to pick me up in about ten minutes. Let's make this fast, shall we?" Carter turned on the tape recorder.
"Hey," he said. "It's us again, Carter and Sadie. We're back, as you can probably tell."
Sadie rolled her eyes. "Get on with it, brother dear."
Carter glared at her. "Fine. Well, three weeks ago exactly, I woke up with this voice in my head saying, over and over again, Carter, Carter, Carter. It was really annoying, actually. But I remembered that a few months ago, I'd met this guy named Percy Jackson. We fought, bonded, saved the world, blah blah blah. I already did a recording of that anyway. Point is, I marked him and told him that whenever he needed my help, he just had to call my name. So, knowing he was in trouble, I woke up Sadie."
"Rather rudely too," she pointed out. "You rolled me out of bed like a sack of potatoes. I was having a lovely dream at the time." With an irritated look from Carter, she continued. "Anyway, we felt this pull to Governor's Island, so we turned into falcons and flew down there. When we arrived, we were greeted with the lovely sight of Setne cornering two kids. So naturally we dropped a camel on him. The two kids were our friends, Annabeth Chase and Percy Jackson." Sadie, momentarily losing her cool demeanor, choked and stumbled over the guy's name. Carter gave her a questioning look but didn't push it, which she was grateful for. She swallowed and continued. "We dropped out of the sky in front of them and did this really cool Power Ranger stance thing, where we had out our weapons and out linen clothes were like swaying in the breeze. It was awesome." Without warning, she stopped talking for some reason, leaving her brother to save the awkwardness by picking up the rest of the story. As he continued on, all she could think about was how she felt about Percy Jackson.
Did she like him? Did she sort-of like him? Did she love him? It was all too confusing for her. So far in her life, she had never thought of herself as consciously loving someone in the romantic sense. The idea just seemed to absurd for her taste, and she wasn't comfortable with it. Unless, maybe she was already. Was it possible that she was in love with Walt? Or Anubis? Or whatever the hell you wanted to call him! How were people supposed to judge these things? Was there like a meter, or a diagram or something? Usually, Sadie just left all of the math and charts and diagrams and things to her brother. Carter was the one who liked thinking things out, using fact to explain things, and logic, and math, and numbers, and coherent thoughts. None of these things were in Sadie's mind right now. No, all she sensed inside her brain was a bunch of muddle-up thoughts that didn't make sense. She couldn't make heads or tails out of anything. This wasn't like her! Usually she was the one who was able to sense what people were feeling. Could sense their emotions and thoughts. She was the one that liked to charge into battle, fully prepared by not being prepared at all. It was what she did, and it was one of the things she'd found in common with Percy when they'd first met. Now though, she was charging into a battle that she didn't understand, fully unprepared. What was happening to her? This wasn't her!
Sadie began to feel queasy and sick. Her head started spinning, her heart pounding, and her skin felt wan and chilly. Goosebumps crept up her arms, and the hairs stuck up. She shivered. She felt so fragile and frail, which was also a new sensation to her.
Distantly and faintly, Sadie could hear Carter's voice as he got to the part of the story where he, Percy, Annabeth, and Sadie began their slow charge to the south end of Governor's Island. Sadie's head began spinning faster and faster, and her stomach lurched. How was he already to that part of the story?! Her heart filled with dread as she realized how long she must have been silent. She must be worse off than she thought. One long at her brother's worried face was all that Sadie needed to know that she must have looked terrible. She stared at Carter's mouth as he trailed off.
"Um...Sadie? Anything you want to add?" His words seemed practical enough, but his eyes danced with the worry that only a big brother could carry for his little sister. She had to be strong, even if it was only a recording. She needed to stop acting so silly and ridiculous, and just finish out the tape.
She opened her mouth to pick up the story, but all that came out was "Ugh!" before she collapsed to the floor in a heap of chilly limbs. Spots danced before her eyes, and she was finding it harder and harder to breathe. She could feel her brother's presence by her side, and she registered with disdain that at some point she had dropped her handbag on the ground. Great. It was probably under the bed, gathering a million dust bunnies a second. But the dusty purse faded out of Sadie's worries as her mind fogged over and the darkness closed in.
Splish, splash! went the water as Sadie danced around in the muddy puddles. Rain poured down around her on all sides, but she was safe from the falling sky drops because of the umbrella that covered her and her friends' heads. The constant sound of the rain was like someone's fingers drumming on a tabletop, and she found it quite peaceful and tranquil. The drops made a little plopping sound as they made contact with the ground, and Sadie watched with a gentle fascination that was unlike her own as she splashed through the storm, kicking up mud as she went.
Up ahead, she saw her brother and Annabeth chatting away about who-knows what. Probably research or something boring like that. Sadie caught snippets of their conversation through her noisy splashing: something about Ptolemy and Greek and Egyptian magic. It was slightly bemusing to see her brother had found someone to share his nerd notes with, even if it was a girl that was about an inch taller than him.
Next to her, Sadie could plainly see Percy staring at her. He didn't' seem to be trying to hide it, for she looked over at him every so once and a while, and the meet of their gazes never deterred him from watching. The intense stare of his gaze was so vigilant that she became nervous and jittery, and she would occasionally pull things out of her backpack, like some extra papyrus, some candy, a clothespin, some string, her wax figurines... Anything, really, to distract her from the intense gaze she was subject to. She hummed her favorite tune as the rain came down, something that was a mix between a pop song and a lullaby her mother used to sing.
She wondered what Percy was thinking about. Surely, there had to be some sort of thought behind those startling green eyes. Carter had described Percy as not being the sharpest tool in the drawer, but somehow Sadie doubted that. True, he might not be as intelligent as her know-it-all, geeky brother, or the wise, owl-like Annabeth, but there was definitely something more to Percy that she sensed often went unnoticed. She could see that he had been through much and suffered through too many horrible experiences not to have acquired some sort of knowledge over the years, even if it was something as odd as knowing what the tip of a sword is called.
His cool, steady gaze was hard not to squirm under, but she knew in her heart that it wasn't a hard stare. He was looking at her as if he saw something beautiful, something wonderful. Somehow, though, she knew he wasn't looking exactly at her, per se. He was looking at what she was, what she could be. Maybe she reminded him of himself, with a bit of Annabeth? That seemed about right. Sadie had a bit of a sixth sense for these things, and she wasn't so stupid that she hadn't immediately drawn similarities between herself and the two demigods. Annabeth obviously contained her long blonde hair, possibly her eyes, but she knew that Percy also saw some of himself in her. Her fidgeting, her nervousness and her hyperness. True, she was like that a lot, but then it was mostly because of his staring. She was done with it for now.
Sadie made full eye contact with Percy, and he flinched, like he was unaware that he'd been staring. She frowned. "What?"
"Nothing," he said quickly, and as he turned away, he didn't see the smile on her face.
"Sadie. Sadie..." said a distant voice. "Sadie! SADIE!"Gah! What? What?" she cried as she sat up with a jolt, wincing as her forehead collided with a hard object. It was her brother's head. He must have been leaning over her. It sounded like something he would do, at least, and Sadie was surprisingly touched by the gesture.
"Thank the gods," he breathed, while rubbing his head that no doubt was throbbing like hers. "Are you okay? What happened? Did you bump your head?" He was fretting over her like a mother hen. Sadie was about to answer when the doorbell from downstairs bonged in a manner that sent chills up her spine. She bolted up and kissed her brother on the cheek.
"I'm fine, brother dear, but I've got to go now. I've got a D-A-T-E date! See you later!" She raced out of her room, and she could hear her brother muttering as she left him behind, saying "You're crazy, Sadie, you know that?" She jumped on the banister and slid down, leaping off when she reached the bottom. She called a final goodbye to her brother as she threw upon the door.
"Walt!" she cried joyfully. "You look smashing! You really put a lot of effort into this, didn't you?"
He smiled and shrugged humbly, looking roguish and dapper in his attire that consisted of a nice black tux and a striped lavender tie to match her dress. He looked wonderful, his face lit up in a bright smile. But his smile faded when worry lines creased his forehead and he asked, "Sadie, are you alright? You don't look well."
Sadie almost told him. She almost told him how she had been so close to admitting to herself that there was chance that she might love Percy Jackson. It seemed reasonable enough: they saw each other a lot now since they started hanging out more, and both had a lot of similar interests, and they were only a few years apart in age. Everything was set up right. So what was the problem? The problem was that he would never love her like that, and as a result she didn't think she could love him that way either. He would always love Annabeth that way, a fact that Sadie realized she had never been really jealous of. If she truly loved Percy in a romantic sense, wouldn't she be jealous of Annabeth? But she wasn't. And she somehow knew that whenever Percy saw her, he didn't really see her. When he got that look, that twinkle, in his eye, he didn't see Sadie. He saw a future with Annabeth, a symbol of what he and the love of his life could make together. Who was she to take that away from them? They needed each other. They were each other's oxygen. They deserved all the happiness in the world, and she felt that she did too. That's why she took Walt's extended arm and answered him honestly with a smile.
"I'm fine, Walt. I'm perfectly fine."