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Forgot to Say

By Erica Pacumbaba

Romance / Drama

From the Beginning

He's sitting at the table at night as usual, quietly pushing around his food. She rolls her eyes and snorts.

"You know, you should actually try to make yourself useful or do something other than waste your time away," she scowls at him.

He just looks up and gives her a tired smile, obvious circles under his eyes.

"How was your day? Not too bad, I hope. Wanna eat dinner with me?"

She scoffs, "It's 'want to,' dimwit. And no, I'm not hungry. I'm going to be in my study."

She brushes by him without another glance or word, and she ignores how his smile drops and he hangs his head, shoulders slumping. She feels something uncomfortable shoot through her, but she ignores the feeling and she ignores how it's the twelfth night he's stayed up waiting for her.

She frequently calls him names, and Athena will admit that she goes too far with them. In fact, it's uncalled for, this treatment. She couldn't help it; she just tended to insult him instinctively.

"You're such a stupid Seaweed Brain!" she yells in frustration when he accidentally trips and one of her favorite vases breaks.

She calls him that a lot, but unlike her daughter it's not in fondness.

He just smiles enduringly, like always, and gets on his hands and knees as he starts picking up the broken pieces. The next day, she sees the broken vase has been put back together as best as it could be, although not completely whole but still nearly perfect. He must have spent all night, stayed up just to put it back together for her.

Athena throws it away.

She knows the other goddesses disapprove of how she treats him and how ungrateful she is. How they would have preferred to have him all to themselves. Even the other gods say the same thing, only they're less vocal about it and it just shows more in their eyes. How they all would have loved to have the Hero of Olympus with them instead. How they all want him for themselves.

And she knows how many of them have tried –and failed.

She doesn't know why she's this obnoxious to him, to the point of being nasty. She just innately treats him cruelly and horribly, and she just can't control herself. It's so disgusting, the way she is with him, that it's nearly unbearable to remember and look back on each and every time. She doesn't understand why she acts like this, but he just takes it without a word of complaint. And she doesn't understand that either.

Athena is terrified when she sees Aphrodite set her eyes on him, but it's not a surprise. Because the goddess of love has always set her eyes on him; Athena is just surprised and shocked that the other goddess is finally deciding to make a move.

"Better me than you, hm? At least I will not treat him as horribly as you do."

Athena is absolutely terrified.

She doesn't know why she treats him this way, she really doesn't. And she will admit in her mind that she does treat him horribly and that she shouldn't be so horrible to him. And in her mind, she will admit to the terror of losing him to the other goddess, or anyone else –even her own daughter.

She sees Aphrodite kissing him and runs away from the sight.

He's in her home when she finally comes back, waiting for her as usual, playing with his food unhappily at the table. He looks exhausted and miserable, and there are remnants of tear tracks that she didn't want to comment on.

She hesitantly walks over to him and he lifts his head up in surprise at her. Her mouth opens and her eyes tear up, but she doesn't know what to say. Her lips open and close for a couple times, but nothing comes out. She settles for kneeling in between his legs and leaning against him tentatively, closing her eyes as she places her forehead against his and reluctantly sheds a couple tears.

"You know…I don't tell you this enough…I forget to…but you are incredibly beautiful to me," she murmurs, lifting her hands up to grasp his head between them blindly. "I'm so, so sorry, Perseus. Please."

'I'm sorry. Please don't leave me.'

He's still quiet.

Their story had started with a question.

Athena isn't sure what the importance of it was to him, but to her it had been a defining moment and the first milestone of their relationship. He was half a year into his last year of schooling at Goode High and she had gone on with her life as usual for a goddess. It was mere coincidence that had the two of them meeting up at a library…

"Lady Athena," he greeted her.

She gave him a nod of acknowledgement. It became awkward between the two again, Percy not knowing how to react to seeing the goddess after all this time and she not knowing what to say to the young man who was the son of her rival and had once dated her daughter.

"If you're not too busy, can you help me?"

And suddenly they were locking eyes and nothing more was said as she pulled out a chair and sat next to him, quietly taking the papers he was looking at to read for herself. It was a whim, she told herself. A whim in which she decided that she would help him this once.

His sea-green eyes glitter like the seas themselves, she compared, remembering the seldom times she sees the water and actually deigns to appreciate them, if only for their beauty.

But he didn't say anything, only to lean closer to share the papers and it was how she was pulled into helping Percy Jackson with his college prep.

Weeks passed. Fridays they see each other. And then he's inviting her out to help him with his work at somewhere other than the library. It's Montauk beach and it's beautiful, and she appreciated the beauty of the place as much as she appreciated him inviting her. It had been planned months ago and he'd had it booked because he needed time alone and a rest after everything from the war, and just a way to find peace and calm. He thought a lot about the war, he had told her briefly during one of their short talks outside of college prep. Some things still haunted him and he thought time like this would be able to help him find harmony inside of himself.

She wondered about her invitation and allowing her to intrude on his time like this.

"It's nothing, Lady Athena," Percy said, making himself a sandwich as she sat at the table. "I mean, along with the time for thinking and all, I even get to get more work done with my college prep."

"Yes, your college prep," she murmured, an undertone of disappointment somehow leaking in.

He quickly finished up his sandwich like the growing boy he was, before coming over to her. She looked up at him and noticed how much taller he'd grown. If she was standing up, she would still be taller than him like always, but sitting down as she was, he was nearly a head taller than her.

And then his calloused hands tenderly gripped her face and he took point and kissed her.

She could taste the nutella from his sandwich, the sweet taste permeating her senses as his lips pressed onto hers.

This was like when Frederick kissed her…Or Devon…Or Winston…

Her mind was astounded by how different the kiss was at the same time. It was like the others in the same way she could feel the sparks that lit up inside of her, the lightning effect that ran along her skin at every touch and caress. But something about it crept into her every pore, every thought, and defined itself against the others.

When he pulled back, he gave her a wry grin.

"I've been wanting to do that for awhile," he admitted. "Are you going to punch me now?"

"Depends," she started out cautiously. "Why did you do that? Or want to?"

He grimaced, "The same reason why you're not beating me to a pulp, I'm hoping."

But could she really? Could she somehow have fallen in love with him? He was Poseidon's son, her rival and irritant bane of her immortal life. Other than Ares, of course. And occasionally Apollo. And Amphitrite…

She shook her head and went back on track, glancing at him with a scrutinizing gaze.

The thing was, she didn't have a problem with Percy. After the war, she had become indifferent to his relationship with her daughter (though she still slightly disapproved) and she actually got along well with Percy himself, other than singeing his clothes as she teleported away. Poseidon she still was aggrieved with, but Percy had never done anything to aggravate her. After all was said and done, the young man had become a very respectable, honorable, and brave hero that she reluctantly admitted inside that she admired.

"It is your father I have tensions with, not you. You have proven yourself a worthy man and I should not judge you by your father. I must admit and realize you are not your father and that you are your own person…who I have come to respect and even like," she acknowledged.

He beamed at her and she was surprised to feel herself blush. When he leaned closer, pausing right before her lips, she hesitated a moment before closing the distance determinedly. It was just as lovely as their first kiss and she became less uncertain about him and more open to the idea of them together.

His hand ensconced itself into her hair, nicely massaging her scalp in a way that was unexpectedly enjoyable and pleasant. This assertiveness was different from what she was used to in her men. While they were in no way timid, sometimes she was a little too forceful and overassertive that she crossed the line into overbearing. And they would usually let her take the reins, have control, and take initiative in the relationship.

That Percy moved in first and that he would choose to be so bold wasn't all that surprising. It fit in his character, for she knew he was usually a take charge first kind of person, and boldness and cheekiness was ingrained in who he was.

Her men were usually blond intellectuals and yet, for once, she had become drawn to the exact opposite.

And there was that. His outgoing personality wasn't the only difference from the men she typically fell in love with. All of her children had blond hair because she had for some reason always fallen in love with blond men. They were extremely intelligent, whereas Percy was competent. And as she'd mentioned, they were usually quiet or at least calm, where Percy was loud and noticeable and just not composed…

Percy pulled away again, looking at her intensely. His sea-green eyes reflected her, and his lips were as swollen as hers were sure to be.

"Don't think," he told her.

She blinked. She was always thinking, just like she had been then. It was like he read her mind or knew what she was doing, even at a point where she shouldn't be.

He made it okay not to think and made her feel like she didn't have to.

This time she moved first, kissing him softly and then more firmly. The first two kisses felt good.

This kiss felt freeing.

They sat on the swinging bench on the porch outside, watching the restless waters. They were sitting close, but not yet comfortable with cuddling together, though his arm was settled comfortably around her.

"I am an eternal maiden, Perseus," she started suddenly. "That means you will never receive the physical kind of pleasure that you might want. Are you alright with that? Are you alright with the fact that I will never be able to grant you physical gratification? I am telling you this now, because if you choose to be with me, you will also have to choose this."

Percy was quiet for a moment, and she watched him in curiosity and muted disappointment.

"If I really cared about you, then that's just what I will have to deal with. If I want to be with you, I guess there's no other choice and that is what I want because I want you," he said firmly. "This is what I choose, Lady Athena."

Her lips twitched upwards, but that was the only sign of her relief. They kept watching the waters churning and a storm brewing in the distance.

"Not one of Zeus' storms," Athena noted.

"Not like I can tell. According to me, they all are. I just assume Zeus gets angry all the time," he winked at her.

She laughed genuinely and thought she could enjoy this difference.

"Storm's coming, alright," Percy went back to the distance. "But we'll weather it."

A rare tint of red graced her cheeks and she smiled softly at him. She pulled his head towards her, leaning down to be able to place her forehead against his. This is what she'd always said was the purest form of love, a connection through their minds.

"We'll weather it," he promised. "Us together."

The slightest of glows connected their foreheads, unnoticed by him though she didn't miss it.

She laid a gentle kiss on his forehead. Percy was youthful and bright-eyed, but those were things she found she quite liked in him.

They were a start and this was their beginning.

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