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i am still painting flowers for you

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Percy nervously knocked at the mouth of the of Rachel’s cave, shivering in the strange, suddenly cold atmosphere. He bit his lip as he waited for a response, taking in the gray clouds above him, and if there was weather in Camp, he imagined he would be standing in a mysterious mist. His friend was the Oracle, and yet it still made him unsettled.

“Come on it!” Rachel called, Percy stepping into the surprisingly warm and homely cave, to find Rachel with her jeans covered in paint on, and her red curly hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, as she painted Olympus. She looked content, almost undisturbed in her concentration. “What’s up, Percy?” She asked, turning to face him, paintbrush still in hand.

Percy smiled, and looked at her latest work. “Nice art.” He turned toward her, serious. “Uh, well, you see…”

Rachel set her paintbrush down on some newspaper covered in all the colors of the rainbow. She went to him, tilting her head. “Are you alright?”

Percy sat on her comfy sofa, melting into the soft cushions. “Will said Annabeth and I should take up hobbies.”

Rachel nodded in understanding, and quickly excused herself to grab some art supplies for him. Percy looked around her cave while she was gone, the walls covered in art from floor to ceiling. It was quite breathtaking, how she managed to transform a dank cave into a space worthy of being in an art museum. He understood why she liked it.

Rachel came back, and motioned Percy over to her table in the center of the room. There, she dumped everything she held on it, emitting a small thump. “Sit.” She all but ordered, Percy lazily pulling himself back up and going to sit in the chair across from her.

Rachel looked at the pile in front of her, before picking up what she thought was the easiest to start with, colored pencils. “Let’s start with these.” Rachel said, handing the box of Prismacolors to him. “These should be the easy ones.”

Percy turned it around it his hands, study every surface, and breaking them open. “Primsacolor?” He asked, and chuckled. “I used to want these when I was younger. We were too poor to afford them, so I stuck with off-brand Crayola.”

“Well then, Percy, it’s your lucky day.” She took the box back and opened it, and handed Percy some paper. He took it, and thought of what to draw.

“What should I draw?” He asked Rachel, and she shrugged, getting up to put on some music.

“Whatever you want. It’s your art.” Rachel responded, and went back to her painting as Percy started to draw Annabeth.

He wasn’t the best with color pencils, and couldn’t believe he forgot how much he used to struggle with them. He bit down on his tongue accidentally trying to color in her eyes, and sighed heavily after the pain faded. “I don’t think this is for me, Rachel.” He announced, turning to Rachel as she was in a deep concentration.

“What do you mean?” She said, turning toward him, to see he had somehow made a mess with the least messy things in her pile. Pencil shavings covered her table, and most of her pencils were broken. Good thing she had the money to buy more. Rachel sighed, and helped Percy clean up the mess, and sat back down at the table.

Percy went to throw out the paper, but was stopped by Rachel. “Don’t throw that out.” She said, and placed on the table, starting a pile. “I want you to keep everything you make, so you can see how you improved!”

Percy smiled. “You sound like an art teacher.”

“Well, in a way, I am, aren’t I?” Rachel shot back, eyebrow raised.

“I suppose that’s true!”

Percy looked over what Rachel still had on the table, pastel oils catching his eyes. Gently, he reached for them. When he opened them, he couldn’t help but notice the smell, the smell of unmade art.

“I think I’ll try these.” Percy said, running his finger along them, turning them in their case. Rachel handed him some felty paper.

“You want to go outside to draw this?” Rachel asked, gathering her stuff. Percy nodded, and pushed himself out of his chair, almost dropping his supplies.

To keep it short, let’s just say pastel oils didn’t work out either. By the time Rachel finally dragged him back to her cave, his hands and clothes were covered in oils. Next, they went for some acrylic paints.

“This is my choice of paint, most of the painting in here are acrylic.” Rachel said, handing Percy a small canvas and paintbrushes of all sizes. “It’s best to have some kind of reference when you use these.”

This time, Percy and Rachel went to the lake, Percy resting on his knees in the sand, allowing the water to lap onto his jeans. He bit his lip as he squinted at the sight before him, dark clouds above a still lake. It was a little spooky, and he actually enjoyed it.

When he tried to paint it, however, such luck was not his.

It looked like a toe.

“Okay, I have one more thing.” Rachel said, collapsing into her seat across from Percy. She pushed a thing of water colors over to Percy, yawning. “Water color is simple, and I think it should be right in your area of expertise.”

Percy leaned back, allowing his head to hang off the chair, the wall upside down. “I don’t know if art is for me, Rachel.” He complained, before straightening his back out. “Maybe I should sing, or write, or play sports.”

“I think you’re an artistic guy, Percy.” Rachel said, trying to encourage him. “If watercolors don’t work, art is not for you, but you have to try.”

Percy nodded, and was left alone. He painted Luke, using nothing but what he remembered from the front of his mind. It was peaceful, actually, and he suddenly understood why Rachel liked it so much. He figured Annabeth might like it, she never admitted it, but she did still really miss him. Percy loved the way the water mixed with the paint, and the way it spread across the paper and the way it made the color look. Rachel took a break to see how Percy was doing.

“It’s amazing!” She said, smiling at him. “I told you. You are an artist!”

When it dried, Percy ran to Annabeth. “Annabeth!” He called, a big smile on his face. She swung around, her curls flying in the air. Her head cocked to the side, a slight smile on her face.

“Yes?”She looked down, to see what was in his hands, but could not see all of it. “What is that, Percy?”

“Well, you know how Will said we should find some hobbies?” Percy said, Annabeth nodded. “Well, I’m taking up painting!” He thrust his picture in her hands. “I made this for you.”

Tears came to her eyes at the one look at it. She smiled, and threw her arms around Percy. “I love it.” Annabeth cried.

She hung it above her bed in the Athena cabin, along with the many more things Percy painted for her over the years, and when they moved in together, she hung them in their office.