Ch 10: The Boss, His Woman and their Child
"I'm going to talk to Chiron regarding our leave for tomorrow." Percy stated as he led Annabeth towards the Aphrodite cabin to fetch Luke. Annabeth only nodded as she continued to stare at their linked hands, marveling at how their hands seemed to fit just perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle.
"Ah! Percy, Annabeth!" Audrey, one of Silena's half-sisters, exclaimed when she answered the door. She then saw their hands and squealed.
"OH MY GODS!My dearest siblings, PERCABETH IS FINALLY PROGRESSING!"
As soon as the words were out, a bunch of excited Aphrodite kids fought their way to catch a glimpse of Camp Half-Blood's Power Couple; some gave an ear-deafening squeal while others gave a grumble of what sounded suspiciously as 'I lost the bet'. Then they all started talking and giggling at the same time, completely forgetting the couple standing by their porch.
"Uhh, guys? We're here for Luke." Percy deadpanned. Beside him, Annabeth gave Audrey an intimidating stare which made the latter gulp nervously. She grabbed Luke from another one of her half-siblings and hastily handed the child to Annabeth, who smiled. "Thank you."
"Thanks guys!" The son of Poseidon grinned at them as he put his hands on Annabeth's shoulders and steered her off the porch. A unified happy scream echoed all throughout camp; effectively deafening the ears of many residents and campers within 50 meter radius.
"I think you're going to Chiron's office alone." Annabeth suddenly said as they reached the Big House. Percy removed his hands from her shoulders and turned in order to see her face.
"Why?" He asked simply. Instead of Annabeth answering, Luke leaned slightly and replied. "Dada, bwocks!"
Percy followed the direction where chubby finger was pointing to. He then saw the box of colorful building blocks placed on the shelf by the receiving area. Immediately, it dawned on him. "Aww, c'mon Luke! You can't be seriously obsessing with architecture just like Annabeth! I could barely put up with your mother's ranting whenever the topic's at hand; I don't need another architect geek!"
"Hey! There's nothing wrong with being an architecture know-it-all!" Annabeth protested as Percy tried to obscure Luke's view. He ignored her as he was too busy having a father-son battle with Luke regarding vision. Percy knew he'll win since it's impossible to pass through his 6 ft height and his muscular yet lean body but then his smugness totally backfired when Luke started tearing up.
"Oh gods, don't cry now Luke, I'm sorry, here! You can see the blocks now right? Don't cry please, Daddy's really sorry."
Annabeth watched the two quietly but her face clearly showed amusement. Luke sniffed and ignored Percy's ramblings as he buried his face on her chest. The sight of Percy's bewildered look finally made her laugh hysterically. "Hahaha! Oh gods Seaweed Brain just go and see Chiron! Don't worry, Luke will calm down eventually. I hoped this served you a lesson to not mess with Luke and architecture."
"Uhh, Chiron?" Percy's head poked from the slightly opened door. The said centaur smiled warmly and gestured his hands for him to come in. Percy ignored the unusual decorations inside the office as he's already used to it and seated himself comfortably on the couch. Chiron offered some weird looking tea but Percy politely refused after inhaling a pungent smell.
"So what brings you in here, child?" He asked in a casual tone. Percy smiled at him and replied.
"I wanted to ask permission if we could leave camp for a while."
"You said 'we'. Is there someone coming along with you?" The centaur noticed the slight coloring on his student's cheeks.
"Annabeth and Luke are. I figured that, uh, they should be coming along with me back home and…you know, spend time with Mom and Paul." Percy decided that he did not like the knowing look Chiron's currently giving him.
"Ah, I see. Well it sounds as if you and Annabeth are getting married, no?" He teased and Percy turned red. "But do not worry, child; you have my permission. I'll talk to Argus and tell him to escort you all the way to the nearest bus station."
The son of Poseidon beamed. "Thanks Chiron! And oh, one more last favor to ask you: can we skip the sing-along tonight? Annabeth and I haven't started packing our stuff yet since I decided upon the matter only this morning."
Chiron only nodded as he placed an old 70's CD in his player. Knowing that his teacher has bad taste in music, Percy's eyes widened in horror as he hastily stood up, thanked the centaur and left before the music could start playing.
Luke managed to construct a perfectly symmetrical pyramid using the colored blocks Annabeth handed him and the two looked so concentrated and alike that Percy had to stifle his laugh. His plan of keeping quiet obviously failed when his laugh escaped from his mouth. Annabeth and Luke's heads snapped at him at the same time and Percy realized just how much Luke resembles Annabeth.
"What?" The daughter of Athena asked curiously. Percy grinned as he made his way towards them and settled himself comfortably beside Annabeth. "Nothing. You guys just looked so cute."
He then turned to Luke and ruffled his hair in an affectionate manner. "Wow, you're really good at architecture! Daddy's very sorry for teasing you." Luke grinned and gave Percy a tackled hug. "Dada!"
The teen laughed heartily as he lifted Luke while standing up. Annabeth only smiled as she disassembled Luke's creation and retuned the blocks to its rightful place.
"I assume the talk went well?" She asked while placing the box back to the shelf.
"Yeah. We even got the permission to skip the sing-along for tonight and have the privilege to be escorted by Argus tomorrow."
"Great!" She said. Percy placed Luke in one arm and handed his free one for Annabeth. "Milady?" He said while using a faux British accent.
Annabeth rolled her eyes as she linked her arm to his. "You are so getting cheesier, Seaweed Brain."
Later that night
After getting Chiron's permission to skip the sing-along, Percy, Annabeth and Luke decided to retire early for the night in favor of readying their luggage for tomorrow. Percy fished inside his cabinet for old shirts and handed it to Annabeth, who looked surprised and confused at the same time.
"You don't want to wear those nightgowns in your cabinet, right?" He asked and she nodded. "Well you can keep my old shirts. Use it as pajamas or whatever. And I'm not taking a 'no' for an answer; I have no more use for those anyways." He said hastily after seeing Annabeth's mouth open slightly; probably to argue. She eventually closed her mouth and sighed in defeat as she accepted his old clothing.
They spent a few hours packing up their stuff. Luke fell asleep as soon as he had his dinner, which was completely fine with the couple since the child spent a busy day with various people in camp.
"Is that all you're bringing?" Percy asked, perplexed, when he saw Annabeth's regular-sized silver suitcase placed beside her cabinet. The said girl merely shrugged.
"Yeah. I don't have that much clothes now, remember? And I'd rather go jump off a cliff than wear those Aphrodite-approved styles of clothing. Besides, it might look small but it contains everything from everyday necessities, to my books and of course, drawing materials."
Percy decided not to ask how Annabeth managed to fit all those stuff in since he knows he'll never understand even if she explained anyway. So he settled on nodding and changing topics. "What about Luke's? Don't you think that carrying a flashy and girlish basket is just too…you know, lame?"
Annabeth smirked at that. "You know, sometime while you were gone, I experimented with the basket and turns out it could transform into a bag." To prove her point, she settled the basket on the bed where they were currently occupying and talked to the thing. "Magic basket, turn into a backpack small enough for Luke to carry."
The basket shone brightly and seconds later, a small black-and-blue backpack lay in front of them.
"Cool!" Percy exclaimed, completely fascinated by the magical object.
"Yeah, I know. But really Percy, we need to sleep now since we're leaving early tomorrow." Annabeth stated as she kissed Luke on the forehead and turned off her bedside lamp.
"Don't I get a goodnight kiss too?" Percy didn't know why but he was feeling quite daring that night. He glanced at Annabeth who wore that rare mischievous look he recognizes and pouted. He was about to say something when she suddenly leaned in and kissed the corner of his mouth, narrowly missing his lips.
"Good night Seaweed Brain and I hope that'll do." He hears the smirk in her voice as she settled herself to sleep. He blushes involuntarily then grinned; the familiar feeling of audacity coming back. "I guess that'll do, for now." He says.
He manages to catch her chuckle before succumbing to sleep.
The next day
"Thanks again for letting Argus escort us to the bus station, Chiron." Percy said as he gave the centaur a manly hug. Chiron's eyes twinkled in mischief while he whispered to the son of Poseidon.
"Be safe, and make sure that by the time you return to camp, there won't be another child with you."
Percy turned red in embarrassment. "I'm not that desperate. Geez!"
The centaur laughed as Percy childishly stomped his way towards Annabeth who was surrounded by many of the campers.
"Ooh! We're going to miss him so much!" Silena blurted out and wailed along with her siblings; making Annabeth roll her eyes in exasperation. "Gods, you're making it sound like we're leaving camp permanently. Calm down all of you!"
"You'll let us hold him next time, right, Annabeth? We never got the chance to play with Luke." Katie Gardner, head counselor for the Demeter Cabin, spoke up as different campers from other cabins and the residents nodded along with her.
"Yeah, and we never got the chance to teach this kid some tricks!" Travis and Connor said.
"Oh no, you are not teaching my son to become a prankster." Percy stated as he made his way from the people swarming around. The Stoll brothers gave a grumble while others smirked at his words.
"Now campers, you must all go back to your daily activities." Chiron told them gently when he saw that Argus is ready. Everyone bid their goodbyes as Percy, Annabeth and Luke settled at the back seat of the camp's van.
"Thanks again, Argus, and be safe on the way back." Percy said as he shook the hands of Argus and waved him goodbye. He then bought bus tickets while Annabeth and Luke waited at the vacant plastic seats.
When their designated bus came, Percy offered to carry Annabeth's suitcase as they rode on the transportation. The couple was having fun talking about nothing of importance when they overheard two old women badmouth them.
"Kids these days get pregnant at an early age." Old woman #1 stated disdainfully.
"Yes. That's because teens either get too carried away with their hormones or they get dumber. Most teen mothers these days are blonde. Blonde and dumb, that's what." Old woman #2 said.
"I had this neighbor who had a blonde daughter and she got pregnant with her boyfriend. And the guy totally left her and the child alone. Serves her right for being such a slut."
The women giggled at that and sent a scorned look at Percy and Annabeth, effectively making them blush. Unfortunately, their seats were assigned directly behind them and they tried their best to ignore the seemingly loud conversation. As the bus started to move, the rude old women's talk continued and they still were not considerate enough to lower their voices.
Percy knew that they're been stared at by almost all of the passengers. He recognizes their discreet way of glancing at them occasionally; some hid behind the newspapers while others pretended to look at the windows but used the reflection to see their faces.
Annabeth tried to ignore everything by busying herself with Luke's fussing but Percy knew she's hurt and bothered about the women's comments earlier judging by the look in her eyes. So he snakes a comforting arm around her and gently put her head on his shoulder. Annabeth bit her lip as her watery eyes followed Percy's movement to place Luke on his lap. He eventually starts stroking her hair while they both zoned out everything happening inside the bus.
Oh gods, this is it. Percy thought.
Calm down Jackson, you've had worse. And remember, Mom and Paul are the best accepting parents one could ever ask for. Okay, take a deep breath and act cool and dignified in front of your woman. Wait, she's not yet my woman though. Oh who cares?
Percy started dragging his and Annabeth's suitcases as he led them towards his home apartment. He was doing a fine job looking cool when suddenly he lost his balance. Whoa. What was that?! How dare you make me look more idiotic than I already am in front of Annabeth and my son! Oh never mind; it was just my shoes. Gods, I hope they haven't seen the cause of that little slip.
"Percy, did you just trip on your shoelaces?" As usual, his prayer was not answered since Annabeth spoke up with a hint of amusement in her voice.
He tried to redeem himself by calmly picking up their luggage on the ground and stood up in his full height. "No, Annabeth that was a rock." Okay, that was still the wrong thing to say.
Annabeth laughed. "Okay, Seaweed Brain, whatever you say."
Percy rolled his eyes when she still laughed even as they ascended the stairs. A dreadful feeling bubbled inside his stomach as they neared his apartment number. He sneaks a quick glance at Annabeth, who was at that time busy scrutinizing the lame architecture, then to Luke who all but looked curiously around with his large eyes. When the door of his home was in front of them, Percy took a deep breath and pressed the doorbell.
"Why are you using the doorbell when it's your own house, Seaweed Brain?" Annabeth asked after he pressed the button. Percy shrugged, acting in complete nonchalance. "Nah I just felt like it." She has a point. Why didn't I think of that?
His musings were interrupted when the door creaked open. Sally Jackson's baffled look greeted their sight. "Percy?" She asked tentatively.
"Yeah Mom, I'm home."
"Oh, honey!" And immediately she engulfed him in a suffocating hug.
"Mom…can't…breathe!" Percy gasped. Sally released him and gave a sheepish smile. "Sorry Percy honey. I was just glad to see you. And is that…Annabeth?"
Annabeth gave a warm smile. "Hello, Mrs. Jackson." She then turned to the child in her arms. "This is your grandmother, Luke."
"Just call me Sally, dear. Oh is that my grandson?" Sally exclaimed in excitement as she hugged the two. "Paul! Percy, Annabeth and Luke are here!" She called out to her husband inside.
"Come in, dears. Percy where are your manners? Take Annabeth's luggage inside."
"That's what I'm doing mom, geez." Percy grumbled as he hauled the suitcases inside.
"Oh, hey Percy." Paul greeted as he gave him a manly hug. "Hello, Annabeth and…"
"Luke." Annabeth and Sally said at the same time. The women turned to each other and smiled.
"Gwanma, Gwampa." The kid greeted. Sally melted at his cuteness and Annabeth gave Luke to her.
"So are you two dating now?" Sally asked them casually while Paul's eyes twinkled in mirth. Percy and Annabeth's face turned beet red instantly.
"Mom!"Oh gods, Mom, please stop embarrassing me. Percy gave his parents a pleading look to which thankfully they got the message.
"Oh, um, oh well." Sally said with a hint of disappointment then changed topic. "Who wants cookies?" Percy mentally face-palmed at his mother's poor attempt to change topics. Luckily for him, Luke became excited after hearing 'cookies'.
Sally happily dragged Luke and Annabeth towards the kitchen with Paul trailing behind them. She turned to look at her son. "Aren't you coming with us, Percy?"
The son of Poseidon only smiled. "Nah, you guys go ahead. I'll just go to my room to place the luggage."
His mother eyed him skeptically. "Okay honey, if you say so."
Percy was busy putting his stuff back in his room when Paul knocked on the widely-opened door. "So I guess you haven't asked her out yet, huh?" He asked as he leaned by the doorframe. Percy sighed as sat on his bed, gesturing for Paul to enter.
"I can't get the timing right. I mean, whenever I'm about to say or do something, someone or something would always get in my way. It happens every time." He said as he ruffled his hair in frustration. Paul smiled sympathetically as he patted his shoulder in an affectionate, fatherly way.
"Don't lose hope, Percy. You know that nobody can help you find the right path; it's for you to discover on your own. Just keep trying because someday you'll eventually find this all worth it."
Percy smiled at his step-father. "Thanks Paul. That really helped me a lot." The adult only nodded in response.
"Okay, now I'm hungry. I hope Mom left me some of her blue cookies."
As the men made their way towards the kitchen, merry laughter bounced throughout the house. Percy immediately knew he was the topic of the women's conversation and hurriedly rushed off.
"Hmm?" Sally turned to look at her son looking curious. Percy's brows scrunched in confusion at her reaction. His gaze shifted from his mother, then to Annabeth who was raising a delicate brow, then to Luke whose face was painted in blue. He did a double-take.
"Uh, what?" He turned to ask at Annabeth, who proceeded to wipe the child's face clean. "He ate some cupcakes, Percy. Apparently, he inherited your rowdy manner of eating since he just started stuffing the whole thing in his tiny mouth and left the icing to his face."
At her words, the two adults laughed heartily. "It's just typical of you to eat that way, Percy." Paul commented as he calmed himself down. Why do I get the feeling that the humiliation totally bounced off from Luke towards me?
"Yes, I've had pictures of him while eating when he was younger. He was so cute back then! Would you like to see some of Percy's old baby photos, Annabeth?" Nooo mom! Not the pictures!
Annabeth smirked after he sent her a pleading look and nodded towards the direction of his mother. "I'd love to, Sally."
"Why don't you start on the baby photos now? I'll wash the dishes." Paul offered. Sally gave him a thank-you kiss on the cheeks while waiting for Annabeth to finish cleaning up Luke's icing-clad face. "The old baby photos are on the living room, Annabeth honey, so we're going to look–"
"No, not today Mom. We're going somewhere." Percy hastily interrupted before they get started with the pictures. His mother paused and gave him a questioning look.
"Where are you going?" She asked. Behind her, Annabeth wore the whatever-you're-planning-it-better-be-good-or-I'll-hit-you-where-it-really-hurts stare. He involuntarily gulped and nodded.
"I was planning to, uh, take Annabeth and Luke to the park and spend time with just the three of us and maybe give them a little tour of New York City."
Sally's face brightened up at his words. "Oh, really honey? That's great! You should've told us that a while ago." At this she handed Luke to him. "Come, Annabeth! We're going to dress you up and make you even more beautiful for this date."
"It's not a date since we're just friends." He and Annabeth suddenly blurted out in unison. They stared at each other in shock then avoided each other's gaze.
"Uh huh, you're just really great friends who happened to have a kid together. Okay. Let the world believe your lie –" Paul laughed at Sally's words. "- but I'm still insisting on pampering you up, Annabeth. You should know that I've always wanted a good daughter-in-law ever since I gave birth to Percy. And,my dear, you are an example of a very good and ideal daughter-in-law."
Annabeth blushed at the compliment and Sally seized the opportunity to drag her to her room while she was still in a temporary daze. As soon as they were gone, Paul turned to Percy.
"Do you need help for your look too?" He teased. Percy flushed and grumbled as he sat on the kitchen stool and settled Luke on the counter while viciously inhaling the leftover cookies on a plate.
Exactly an hour later, Percy and Luke emerged from the former's room looking all fresh and neat. Since Percy had no idea how to bathe a baby (that was Annabeth's job since she always takes Luke along with her whenever she's off to shower), he just used his powers to help him get Luke all cleaned up immediately.
If you asked how Percy and Luke spent the whole hour, well, let's just say they ate for a long time, watched TV, and then hurried off to get cleaned and changed only after when Paul told them that Annabeth's nearly ready.
Percy decided to wear his best clothes for the not-a-date-but-a-friendly-walk consisting of a blue button-up shirt with a plain white T-shirt underneath, jet black denim pants and his favorite black-and-blue Converse. He even tried to tame his messy hair but eventually gave up when he saw no difference. For Luke, he decided to dress him up in a similar manner only that the kid's button-up shirt was a checkered black-and-red one and wore brown military boots.
"Wow, you guys look totally fashionable." Paul commented as soon as he saw the pair enter the living room. Percy placed Luke beside him on the couch and groaned. "It took me a long time to dress Luke up. He kept fussing around and I seriously have no idea how Annabeth managed to not lose her patience." His step-father only chuckled and the three turned their attention back to the TV.
"Is Percy – okay good, you're here." Sally said as she entered the living room.
Percy tilted his head to look behind his mother. "Mom, where's Annabeth?"
Sally gave a tut. "Now, now, honey. It's always good manners for a guy to walk and fetch his date from her house." Percy made a face at that.
"But isn't she technically living with us? I think that it doesn't apply in this situation." Apparently he said the wrong thing since Sally gave him a harsh glare.
"Perseus Jackson you will fetch Annabeth just like a gentleman would. It does not matter whether you're both living under the same roof; you will still follow general etiquette. Now, go to my room and escort Annabeth."
"No buts! Luke will wait here. Now go before I drag you by the ear!"
Percy sighed as he stood up and walked away from the living room. As he made his way towards her mom's and step-dad's room, his heart started pounding like crazy. He takes a deep breath and collects himself before knocking gently on the door.
The door creaks open gently as Annabeth shyly peeks from behind it. Percy smiles and runs a hand through his hair in nervousness. "Hey, uh, are you ready to go?"
"Um, yeah." When Annabeth stepped out from the room, Percy sucked in a breath after seeing her transformation.
She was wearing a sleeveless floral-printed dress that reached a few inches above her knees; the first time he saw her with that much skin displayed. Her curly blond hair was down this time but Percy could see the headband-like elegant braid on the crown of her head and wore a badass-looking black low heels. Since she barely wore make-up save for the lip gloss, mascara and a blush on, her natural beauty became the main highlight and that made Percy appreciate her even more. Thank you, Mom!
"You look beautiful." He blurted out and blushed. Annabeth blushed too but managed to smile gratefully. "Thanks. You look handsome yourself."
"So um, uh, shall we go then?" He stuttered and mentally slapped himself. He awkwardly presented his arm and waited until Annabeth linked hers. With that, the pair made their way towards the living room.
Percy tried to ignore the smug look both his mother and step-father wore and focused his eyes on his shoes. Annabeth was busy putting on Luke's magic basket-turned-backpack so she was not able to see the very bright red face of Percy's.
"Here's some money for you guys." Paul said as he handed a wad of cash to Percy. Sally stroked Annabeth's cheeks and pinched Luke's. "Remember to have fun, okay?"
"We will, Sally, Paul. Thank you so much." Annabeth said as she gave them a hug. Percy gave his parents a hug and when he reached his mother, he whispered to her ever so gently. "Thanks for this, Mom."
At that moment, Sally Jackson realized that her son has finally fallen in love.