Men are such idiots!
That was her first thought as she stormed away from the crazy loud bar. If one were to peer inside the door of that particular bar, they wouldn't notice anything out of the ordinary: a lone disco light hanging from the ceiling by a chain, strobe lights that hurt your eyes, tacky light-up beer signs hanging on the wall, the hazy smell of smoke and alcohol coming together to create an intoxicating aroma, a pounding beat with an ear-splitting bass that was referred to as "music." Cheap beer being poured into cups by a perverted bartender. A group of girls trying to coax some poor guy onto the dance floor. A dizzy, confused man stumbling towards the door, over intoxicated to the point of struggling to walk. The whole scene was pretty typical of an L.A. bar.
That is, it would appear typical to the average set of mortal eyes. But to a demigod, a mortal with the Sight, or anyone else affiliated with that type of world, then a completely different scene would appear before their eyes.
The disco light suspended by a chain would morph into a blazing sun, hovering in mid-air over the glass dance floor. The strobe lights were actually lightning bolts, cast from the king of parties himself. The beer signs were no longer tacky and neon, but were fascinating figures made of glass through which a palette of colors could be seen racing around, traveling from a clear tube to a see-through bowl-like feature. The smoke was elaborate perfume from goddesses in the crowd, the alcohol no longer cheap beer, but eccentric wines and nectar for the gods attending the party. That irritating, vibrating music had changed into a clear, yet steady, driving beat that permeated the guests of the party and got them pumped up. That bartender, although still dirty-minded, proved to be the god of wine himself, and he offered detailed glasses of nectar and wine for the party-goers. Normal, ditzy girls were no longer silly and blond-haired, but exquisite-looking nymphs that giggled and danced around the annoyed Greek hero, who only a moment ago had appeared defenseless and at the mercy of the gaggle of girls. The stumbling, wobbly man headed towards the door was recognized as an averagely awkward satyr, whose bent legs and unsure footing made his step look uneven and unbalanced.
So, one could fairly conclude, if not from the astonishing scene taking place inside the strange bar, than at least from the irate, glowing goddess storming out of the joint, that this was most definitely not your average L.A. bar.
The goddess stopped in her tracks, twirled around, and stood with her hands on her hips to face the entrance to the bar. "Leonardo!" she shrieked, "in case you didn't get the message, we are so done!" With that she stomped away from The Wine Dude, stepping off of the the sidewalk curb without checking both ways. She was a goddess, what did she care? Even when a car swung around the bend at 60 miles an hour, she didn't stop or slow down. She simply disappeared into thin air, leaving the driver both very confused and slightly interested to see who the hot girl was, and if he could get her number.
Since she was a goddess, she just teleported into her room on Olympus, stepping out of a shiny hole in the air as if it was as natural as swinging your arms when you walk, or throwing your keys on the table when you get home. But, being the diva that she was (and enjoyed being), she transported out of her room, through her bedroom door, and into the hallway outside of her door. Then she opened it forcefully, slamming it shut with a satisfying bang, and striding purposefully over to her vanity. There she sat, perched on her sequined stool like she was the goddess of love. Which, coincidentally, was quite appropriate, as that was just who she was.
Aphrodite prepared to take off the make-up she'd put on for the party that night, starting the extensive process she had to do to peel off the heavy coating of cover-up, the fake eyelashes, the blush that conjured rashes, the blood-red lipstick. Somehow, she managed to fit all of it onto her petite face, although it was a miracle that she didn't care to question. She never needed it, or so she was told. If anything, people said, the make-up made her look less attractive. And the that most people didn't realize was that Aphrodite knew that. She knew, better than anyone, that she was beautiful. She was the goddess of love and beauty, after all, so it was obvious that she would be extremely gorgeous. But truly, most girls feel more confident when they wear make-up, and Aphrodite was no exception.
There was something about being able to cover yourself up, to hide any flaws in yourself that you saw, to protect any vulnerabilities. It gave you a certain sort of power of yourself, and allowed you to see yourself the way you saw fit. But, at the same time, the more you covered yourself up with the beauty products, the more you would doubt your own beauty. The very beauty you thought you could perfect in the beginning was the same beauty you denied you had at all. You became dependent on make-up, not being able to leave the house without it for fear that people who had only ever seen you with make-up on would recoil at the way you looked without it. In a way, too much make-up was like a drug: the more you used, the worse you felt about yourself.
So it was a beauty phenomenon that Aphrodite felt as good about herself, or at least appeared to, while using that much make-up. Then again, she was the goddess of beauty, so perhaps it wasn't all that shocking.
In fact, it had been due to her good looks that she'd met that douche bag at the Wine Dude tonight. She had sauntered into the club, fashionably late as always, and had instantly felt nearly fifty eyes turn towards her, their gazes admiring and wistful. But one pair of eyes had been especially intense as they stared at her. The amount of attraction the man had been feeling at that moment was enough to get her attention and turn towards the man. Catching his eye, she did a once-over that she suspected he'd already done on her: tall build, blue eyes, pale skin, age maybe 40 or so. He'd been an instant knock-out, and she'd recognized him as a demigod son of Dionysius, which no doubt explained what he'd been doing at his father's bar, and also why he was all over the mortal news, renowned for his acting skills. She'd immediately returned the attraction, and drawn him near to her, using her eyes to hint at what she wanted.
Things had started out fine, but as the night went on and the guests slowly trickled out, the man she'd been gracing with her very interesting company had refilled his glass more than ten times before the evening was through. That had immediately soured the encounter for her. Despite his good looks and charisma, Aphrodite was very adamant about not dating drunks. She could be attracted to a guy regardless of his appearance or personality, but he was instantly no longer a contestant when she found out he was an alcoholic. When it came to men, that was her number one rule, and she never strayed from it. So far it had served her well, and she had never had any real trouble. But tonight had been one of the times in which after she'd explained her reasoning for no longer being interested in the man, he had lashed out at her, even going so far as to throw his beer bottle at her. On a normal occasion, when she was slightly less tipsy, Aphrodite would have certainly done something more dramatic, such as strike down the son of Dionysius with a shower of acidic sparkles, order an army of doves to peck at his eyes (targeting his blue eyes, of course), or mandate that her son Eros shoot the actor with an arrow that would cause him to fall in love with someone much more formidable, such as her half-sister, the virgin goddess Artemis. That would certainly cause problems for poor Leonardo. But that night, Aphrodite hadn't been entirely sober, so the best she'd been able to do was yell at him in front of a crowd and leave him, humiliated, while she stomped away triumphantly, praising herself for her small victory.
However, now as she sat, lonely and dejected, in front of her heart-shaped mirror, entertaining herself only by brushing her long, silky blonde hair, Aphrodite realized that such a triumph needed to be celebrated, even if it was only she who would attend the ceremony. Walking over to and reaching into her massive closet, - which was larger than the White House, as she'd made sure of- she dug around for a moment in the great expanse before finally pulling out a large laundry basket, which she carried over to her triple-king-sized bed and dumped the contents of the basket out on. What spewed out of the basket was an inundation of small pieces of paper: photos. Some were cut from newspapers and magazines, others were pictures that had been copied onto a plain sheet of paper, and even a few oil or pastel paintings, but many were photographs throughout the past two hundred years that Aphrodite or someone else had taken. Each one was a small square or rectangular photo of a man that the goddess of love was somehow affiliated with. Whether she had dated the man, been married to him, had an affair with him, been attracted to and met him, or had admired the man from afar and now had her sights set on attaining him. Approximately half of the papers were marked on the back, whether with a large red "X", or a big green checkmark; the other half were blank on the back, and even a small percentage had a black question mark or an "NA". There were likely more than half a million photos sitting on her bed, stacked up high to the ceiling and sprawled all over the enormous bed, so it was a wonder how so many pictures had managed to be compacted into one, relatively small laundry basket. But then again, it belonged to a goddess, so the answer was simple.
Aphrodite sorted through the mound of paper for only a moment before finding the one she had been searching for. It was a piece of paper torn from a celebrity magazine, and it pictured the man she'd finally met at the bar tonight. The images in her collection were not only magically labeled, they also allowed Aphrodite to see what the man was doing at the moment, no matter what they were doing. Which meant that, yes, she could watch them in the shower, but as the goddess of love and beauty, she was oblivious in recognizing the awkwardness and inappropriateness of the situation. At the moment, the actor was passed out on a filthy green couch in gods know where, drooling all over himself. The Greek goddess sighed thoughtfully as she stared at Leonardo's picture, wistfully tracing a finger lovingly over his face. She had truthfully fancied him for quite some time now, but the idiot had been, unknowingly, very stubborn in being summoned to the Wine Dude that night, and she'd had to use a little extra power in order to get him to be there. But he probably just remembered having a sudden impulse to go to his father's bar that night, not anything about a goddess forcing him to make his presence be there.
The goddess of love and beauty continued her ritual by walking over to her musical fountain and twisting one of the marble knobs on the edge. She had to adjust it accordingly by song title, artist, album (if available), and the approximate year, which could be quite a pain for someone who had seen as many centuries as Aphrodite had. The song that burst forth from the fountain after she'd finished adjusting was "Picture to Burn" by Taylor Swift. It was a very country song, not something that she would typically listen to, but since it had come out a few years ago, Aphrodite had replaced it for "Freak Out," which was apparently no longer popular. That had come as quite a shock and a bummer, as she had been a huge disco fan, but oh well; mortal lives were so swift in passing that it hardly mattered. Following the ritual that she used after a breakup, or at least what she considered to be one, the goddess held Leonardo's picture over a purple fire, and sighed in pleasure as the fire caught onto the photo, the lavender tendrils licking at its edges until the photo finally caught fire. But instead of a normal fire, which would naturally burn the picture to a crisp, Aphrodite's special "boy fire" caused a big red "X" to appear on the back of the image. It faded in and out dimly, as if waiting of approval from the goddess, which she gave with a firm kiss to the back of the paper. The X suddenly solidified and glowed a more brilliant red. She sighed with pleasure as the background song to the ritual ended, and she tossed the stamped photo resolutely onto the mound of papers.
Now, on a normal night, that would have been the end of the celebration, and Aphrodite would have rang the bell for a servant of some sort to pack the photos back into the basket and the looming closet, but, as has been established, this was not a normal night for the goddess of love and beauty. Something, whether it was fate or simply woman's intuition, caused her to hesitate on pulling the cord, and instead to walk curiously over to the mountain of pictures she had collected over the centuries. Guided by an absent and nonexistent hand, Aphrodite rummaged through the melee until she came across the photo she had somehow needed to see. Gazing back at her was a boy of about eighteen years old: dark black hair, peach-colored skin, magnificent green eyes, and a smile so brilliantly white and warm that she had to look away for a moment in order to not be blinded.
The boy, despite his wonderful smile, seemed to be in a load of trouble: wherever he was, it was certainly the most terrifying place Aphrodite had ever seen, filled with ominous shadows and nightmarish faces that seemed to lurch at her through the dark places, disappearing as quickly as they had appeared. Behind the son of Poseidon, she saw a horde of demonic monsters chasing after him, baring their fangs and growling in the back of their throats. Percy said something to someone beside him, although she couldn't tell what because the photos didn't carry sound, a feature which she would soon have to install. Thankfully, an explosion seemed to come from the right, blasting the boy to the side and allowing the person he'd been speaking to to enter the shot. It was a gorgeous blonde, with curly hair that fell past her shoulders. The goddess would have thought her to be one of her own unclaimed children were it not for the stunning pair of grey eyes on the girl, which she instantly recognized as related to Athena. Aphrodite immediately noticed the way the two fit together, making a mental note to herself that these two were a couple, although that wouldn't inhibit her attraction to the son of Poseidon, or cause her to hesitate in pursuing him. Aphrodite also noticed that both the son of Poseidon and the daughter of Athena looked extremely exhausted.
Percy was breathing very heavily, his breath ragged, sweat pouring down his forehead, causing his T-shirt to cling to his skin. Her eyes widened when she saw the outline of the six-pack he had. She wondered how his rough, inexperienced hands would feel on her skin, how their breaths would mingle with each other, how her limbs would be tangled and pressed against his. Thinking about his tan body, his muscled arms and legs, his handsome face made her feel warm and tingly all over. Kissing his soft, pink lips would probably be heavenly. Just wondering about how he would murmur her name in her ears made her feel a raging fire in her body. A blaze that would never stop until she stops wishing for his warm body near (or preferably pressed against) hers. This guy was, to sum it up, drop-dead gorgeous. A definite must. She only wondered why she hadn't tried to pursue him before.
But then it all came back to her in a torrent of emotions, and the goddess, her eyes wide with the hope that what she was remembering wasn't true, that the memories she possessed were of another son of Poseidon, scrambled over to her magnificent nightstand. She yanked out the drawers one by one, emptying the contents onto her plush rug with a cacophony of loud noise. Suddenly, a loud thunk sounded, and Aphrodite recognized the sound of her most precious diary. Aphrodite was a woman of many personalities, so naturally she had more than one journal, all of which were color-coded. This one, the pink one, was her favorite by far, for it possessed all the thoughts and memories of each boy she'd ever had an attraction to or a fling with. She opened the book, which magically revealed the page she had on Percy Jackson, and she read with a terrifying interest, her eyes that of a madman as they scanned the page with lightning speed.
Diary Entry #562, 438: Percy Jackson
Date: December 19, 2007 A.D.
I had been hearing about Percy Jackson for quite a while now. He is all the rage on Mount Olympus, and the news is always buzzing with info on him. I'm quite drawn to him, and today I decided that I should confront the poor boy and tell him how I felt, while also trying to see what he's like.
I asked Ares to drive me to where the boy was, since I knew he's a pushover for me, even though he's a war god. I'm just that beautiful, I guess. I'm also great in bed, and so is he, which is the only reason I keep him around, since he's not that much of an improvement over my husband, facially-wise.
Anyway, the son of Poseidon had embarked on some silly quest to save my half sister Artemis, but I decided to pay him a special visit and intercept his plans.
"Mind your manners," I heard Ares say to Percy outside of my pristine limousine. "She's not as forgiving of rudeness as I am." Oh, I could've murdered the idiot for that comment! What was he thinking, giving the boy a bad first impression of me? So, naturally, to play off the rude warning, I beamed my brightest smile at the young boy when he opened the limo door, causing his jaw to drop an inch lower than it would have if I had just sat there.
"Ah, there you are Percy," I said, waving him into the limo to sit by me. I saw a jealous glint in Ares's eye as he slammed the door shut and waited outside. "I am Aphrodite."
The poor boy, still enamored by my beauty, only managed to get out a few unintelligible words, something that sounded like, "Um uh gah."
I played it off, not wishing to embarrass him, by saying, "Aren't you sweet. Hold this please," I asked, handing him a plate-sized hand mirror and having him hold it up. I had to adjust the mirror in his hands once or twice to get the right angle, but I eventually managed. Although I knew I looked perfect already, I wanted to make an even better first impression, so I added a bit more makeup to my already flawless face, just a touch here and there. "Do you know why you're here?"
"I.. I don't know," Percy stammered. He looked nervous, anxious, which disappointed me.
"Oh dear," I murmured, but continued when I realized he had probably heard me. "Still in denial?" Because I'm not, I thought.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said. When I asked him why he was on this quest, he gave me some answer about saving Artemis, and I interrupted him with a roll of my eyes. "Oh, Artemis. Please. Talk about a hopeless cause. I mean, if they were going to kidnap a goddess, she should be breathtakingly beautiful, don't you think?" I asked, trying to get him to admit that I was gorgeous. Why couldn't he do that? It wasn't hard. When he continued to support his answer on answering Artemis, I got a little frustrated, and a tear started to slip out of my eye. It's never this hard to get someone to admit they like me, so why was he different? But I was not a crier, so I raised the mirror to a height at which he couldn't see my face, or the tears threatening to spill over. I continued trying to get the words out of him, even mustering up the courage to confess my feelings for him (and his body). "But my dear Percy, that is why the others are on this quest. I'm more interested in you."
I was so close, so close, to getting him to say he liked me. I could see his mouth forming the words. But then he blurted out at the last second, "Annabeth is in trouble."
I beamed, "Exactly!", not realizing what he had said until a moment later. So that was why he couldn't like me! He already had feelings for somebody else! And from the looks of his flustered cheeks and worried eyes, those feelings were fairly strong. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. As the goddess of love, I have to sometimes put others' feelings before mine, even if it means the loss of a perfectly good boy toy to play with, for the chance of true love is better than no chance at all. So, rapidly switching my tactics for this mission, I listened with earnest ears to Percy.
"I have to help her!" he cried. Aw, so young, so innocent and eager. "I've been having these dreams."
"Ah, you even dream about her!" I said with some surprise. How... nice. I tried for a smile, but it probably looked more like a grimace. "That's so cute!" I said through clenched teeth.
He quickly tried to backpedal, but I would have none of it. I explained that there was no reason to defend his emotions, for I was there to help him. When he looked confused, I summed up all the things I had done to assist him. He looked frazzled, but I kept going. "Saving Artemis. Let her stay lost, I say. But a quest for true love-"
He tried to backpedal on that too, but I stopped him, gushing over how cute he and Annabeth were together. Honestly, it was a little hard. I don't know why. I guess I'm a little jealous that this girl Annabeth gets to have Percy, and how when they're older he'll be able to do things to her that he won't be able to do to me. And I soooo want him and his body, and I can tell that when he grows up he's going to be a real gold mine. So, I'll admit I was having trouble getting over my jealousy, but I tried to make up for it with a romantic pep talk, which seemed to work on Percy, getting him slightly energized. "Follow your heart," I advised.
"But...I don't know where it's going. My heart, I mean." I tried for a sympathetic smile, but it really was very sad and wistful. His heart was going in a completely different direction than what I wanted.
"Not knowing is half the fun," I said. "Exquisitely painful, isn't it?" He had no idea how much rejection could hurt. "Not being sure you love," I'm sure, "and who loves you?" I know who loves you, I thought sadly. "Oh, you kids!" Oh, the two of them. "It's so cute I'm going to cry!" It's so unfair I'm going to cry.
"No, no, don't do that," he said worriedly. That only made it worse. I looked up at him pitifully.
"You're so cute. I wish all my daughters could break the heart of a boy as nice as you." I started to tear up, water droplets already spilling out of my gorgeous eyes. "Now, you'd better go." I waved goodbye to him, my head turned away so that he wouldn't see how upset I was. I was so embarrassed! I never cried in front of the people I pursued. And I hardly ever change my strategy for dealing with the guy either! What was that crap I was spewing back there? 'Follow your heart'? Um, no, I don't want him to do that! I want him to follow his young bodily urges!
My eyes still damp from the tears, I checked my face to make sure my mascara hadn't run, which it hadn't, and made a solemn vow to myself as Ares drove in and the limo pulled away. I whispered it to myself, softly so that my boyfriend up front wouldn't be able to hear. "I swear, that no matter what, I will never touch Percy Jackson." A lone tear trickled down my cheek. " His heart will never belong to me. It will always belong to Annabeth. His body will never belong to me. It will always belong to Annabeth. Through the many twists and turns that they endure throughout their love, throughout all the bumps in the road, they will encounter many other lovers, but they will always belong to each other. Percy Jackson will never be mine."