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Voice on the Radio

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Annabeth wasn’t one for underground bands.

Theoretically, she was all for artists finding their sound and struggling to make ends meet, and working towards the perfection of their art, but in reality underground bands were mainly comprised of whiney, annoying kids who were subpar at music. In her experience, anyways.

But she was a supportive friend.

“Leo, I’m not going to listen to the band you produce.” Annabeth folded herself deeper into the chair as her fingers flitted across the tablet, looking over the work she’d done.

“I don’t know why I bother,” Leo shook his head sadly, “you’ll be an uninformed cretin in the music world for the rest of your life. When Demi makes it big, you’ll be all ‘oh my friend was their original producer, he helped them with the tech and music for their first album!’ Well second album, their first album was a mess, just guitars and piano, what is that?”

“Natural.” She shot back as Piper strode into the room.

“I thought producers just throw money at people and stuff.” Piper dropped onto the couch, making Leo jerk away from Annabeth towards Piper.

“Nope, producers are artists-” Leo started, with a slightly manic grin on his face.

“So your friends didn’t know how to work the sound board?” Annabeth cut in.

“Yeah, well that too. But I’m really proud of it, it’s good! They need a female lead singer, but all they can think of is Percy’s ex girlfriend and they made a pact not to hang out until they found their soulmates.” Leo shrugged and his leg all but vibrated, it was more a blur than an actual leg.

“Fine. Play one track. One!” Annabeth shifted in her seat, pulling her laptop closer so she could bring up the software to get started on her work. “It’s only because I’m happy you’re finally making an effort to meet new people.”

“Ha ha,” Leo responded, “I have friends other than you two.”

Piper and Annabeth shot each other a look and Leo just muttered “Assholes” under his breath as he queued up a song.

“Okay, so this is the song that’s gunna make them big, Nico- that’s the kid on the piano- he wrote it but Percy sings it which is kinda-” Piper leaned forward and hit play, interrupting Leo’s rant.

The intro played in, and unlike other underground bands she’d been dragged to, the guitarist and the drummer actually seemed to know what they were doing. The piano kicked in and she couldn’t deny that they weren’t actually half bad.

Then the voice came.

He joined the instruments seamlessly, as if his voice was just a tool that could be played as easily as a guitar. His voice was upbeat, but there was an undertone of sadness. He sounded like the ocean, wide and reassuring, yet with depths that could tear a person apart.

The lyrics needled at her, it was about falling in love before finding your soulmate, and knowing that your love was doomed because of some unknown person out there that you’d love more than life itself.

It was reassuring and heartbreaking at the same time, the last few lyrics hinting that the future would bring better and greater loves. She could imagine the singer ending the song with a sad smile, it was weird that something could tear her in opposite directions.

The song dwindled down, Annabeth hadn’t noticed that a female singer had joined the male lead at some point, but their voices trailed off at the same time. The next song kicked in, upbeat and cheerful.

“Alright Leo, you had your one song-”

“Play it again.”

Leo and Piper both looked at Annabeth, Leo grinning widely, and Piper had a look of perplexion.

“I mean, it’s good,” Annabeth sank back into the couch, she hadn’t realized she sat up. She tugged her laptop closer, “I wouldn’t mind if you played it again.”

Leo double clicked, and the song started again as Leo smugly crossed his arms.

By the end of the second play, Annabeth was positive that they’d definitely be famous someday.

And by the third she stopped pretending to be doing anything else.

----------

Annabeth very rarely fangirled over anything, anything besides architecture, so listening to the two albums that Demi had put out on repeat is a new experience. Sure, here and there she’d listen to a song a few times before adding it to her ipod, but she burned through the two albums in the span of 80 minutes, and then went back for more, almost non-stop.

As she listened to the songs she could hear traces of the personalities and the band members who influenced the songs. Jason played the electric guitar and wrote the songs about friendship, one of which was literally called ‘In which we wear our friendship bracelets unironically.’ All the heartbreaking songs were credited to Nico, the pianist. The youngest member was the drummer named Hazel who was only credited with one song, Sammy a hidden track. Then last came the voice, that stupid voice.

Percy was the vocalist’s name, and his songs revolved around the unfairness of the world while somehow being upbeat and excited. The songs that annoyed her the most and stuck in her head day in and day out were penned by the same voice who brought them to life.

His voice was as annoyingly flexible as everyone’s instruments. In his own songs, his voice took on a sardonic twist, as if he was ready to punch the universe in the face, but he’d rather not. In the heartbreaking songs his voice took on the same tone she’d heard in the first, the upbeat with the undertone of sadness. The friendship songs were unhindered, just a happy voice singing at her over the speakers.

Hazel’s voice came in sometimes, to assist Percy where the lyrics demanded it, and in choruses.

Jason and Nico’s voices are only heard in one track on the first album, in a song titled ‘Pizza Unifies Nations and Also Feeds Us.’ It’s early in the first album, and the author is uncredited, but even Annabeth can tell it was four friends getting together and goofing around in front of a mic. Jason harmonized the chorus with Percy with Nico occasionally punctuating a lyric with an exclamation.

There’s no ridiculous songs about Pizza on the second album. Listening to the first album is like watching someone else’s home video. There’s inside jokes galore, and tongue in cheek references to people they knew. The second album is more polished. It sounds like it belongs on the radio. The songs are vague enough to apply to anyone, but real enough to draw everyone in. There’s something about the first album that makes her feel uncomfortable as if she was peeking in stranger’s windows, so she stuck to listening to the second album.

Annabeth pretended at first that she wasn’t obsessed, she honestly did. She went to work, she attended meetings, she dragged her way up the corporate ladder so she could design her own buildings. But more and more her headphones were in her ears, and that haunting happy voice sang at her across the wires.

After a week, Leo staged an intervention.

“Do you want to meet him?” He asked as they strode towards a bar.

“What?” Annabeth cut in, the weird ache in her heart settling in her chest again, as it always did when she turned off the music.

“Do you want to meet the band? Or Percy?” Leo winked, and nudged her.

“What? No. Why would I?” Annabeth shot back.

But the thought of meeting that voice and hearing it in person made her want to punch something and sob in relief at once.

After that suggestion, and the unwarranted emotional response, Annabeth does the only reasonable thing. She ignores it.

She turned on the radio when she was showering instead of the album, she hummed to herself as she worked like she used to. She let her cubicle buddy choose the station and put it on low. She adamantly refused to admit that the album triggered anything in her, because that would be ridiculous. People met their soulmates in stores, or in clubs, in class or at work. Not from hearing an album.

It worked well, for a week. Then on thursday, her plan failed.

The same song, the song she now knew was called Sorrow becomes my best friend, the first song that introduced her to that stupid voice that she couldn’t get out of her head came on the radio.

At first it didn’t register in her brain, the tightness in her chest loosened up and she breathed her first full breath in a week since the self imposed ban.

Then when the chorus came on and the beat picked up, she realized what was happening.

Her eyes snapped to the small battered radio that predated both her and her cubicle buddy. “What station is this?”

“This? It’s Underground New York, they introduce a local band every week, this one is called-”

“Demi.” Her cubicle buddy spun around to look at her, and she did a double take.

“Annabeth are you okay? I can turn it off.”

“No!” Annabeth said too quickly, before clearing her throat and trying to play it off “it’s okay, I like this band, I’m just surprised to hear them on the radio.”

Annabeth turned back to her screen, but she was no longer seeing anything. She listened to Percy’s voice as he crooned about lost loves. She was tempted to open google and search “is it possible to be addicted to voices?” But instead she kept listening to the song.

Instead of smoothly transitioning into an upbeat Jason tune like she’s used to, the Disc Jockey cuts in.

“So here in the studio with us is the band, well 3/4ths of the band, that we just played. Why don’t you guys introduce yourselves?” The DJ had an annoying and grating voice, but Annabeth hung on every word.

“Um, hey! I’m Jason,” a deep voice said, and Annabeth almost shut off the radio.

“And I’m Nico.” A quiet voice followed.

Please let the last person be Hazel she thought, irrationally, why wouldn’t she want to listen to him talk? He was just a singer of a small underground NYC band. She was being ridiculous.

“And I’m Percy!”

For a voice she was so familiar with, she’d never heard him talk. He sounded like a camp counselor. The kind would shove a kid off a diving board and bandage up knees in equal measures.

You can’t tell that from an introduction she chided herself, stop being ridiculous.

“So where’s Hazel today?” The DJ asked, chuckling as he did so.

“In school,” the three of them responded.

“Unlike our amazing selves, Hazel is still in high school.” Percy’s voice clarified.

“She’s in the band because she’s your younger sister, right Nico?”

“She’s also incredibly talented. She’s a few years younger than us-” Nico was quick to defend, and sounded ready to punch the DJ as much as Annabeth wanted to punch him.

“When we formed the band, Percy and I were twenty-one, and Nico was nineteen. Hazel was already the most mature of the lot of us, and we needed a drummer.” Jason, a peace keeper apparently, clarified.

“But her dad threatened to kill us if we gave her any alcohol or let her hold prolonged eye contact with anyone really. Education comes first!” And Percy came in with a joking tone.

“Your music is really- it’s interesting” the DJ said, almost complementary.

“You guys don’t really talk about soulmates-”

“Well none of us have soulmates yet, but also we’re tired of music revolving around soulmates. We do have one song I wish I could meet you soon but it’s more about the anticipation of meeting someone. Most songs about soulmates are all ‘color has definition now!’ And my heart is completed! Oh hallelujah and sainted day we have found our love and our stupid tattoos sprouted-” Annabeth let out a breath as Percy ranted. Percy hadn’t found his soulmate yet, she refused to think about why that would matter, and instead focused on his words.

“What I think Percy is trying to say, is that there’s a lot more to life then soulmates. Soulmates are great and everything and we’re all super excited to meet our soulmates. But we have thoughts and opinions and lives outside of our soulmates.”

“We’ve all been in the unfortunate situation of falling in love with someone before we turned 18, and realizing that the person we loved wasn’t our soulmate and having to break up with them. It sucked and we had no music to listen to.” Nico’s voice sounds sad, but Annabeth is beginning to suspect that he always sounds sad.

“We also all come from broken soul bonds-”

“Well-”

“Nico and I come from broken soulbonds. My dad had parallel lives, and my mom had no idea because she had a one sided soulbond. When she found out- well it wasn’t pleasant. And it kind of put me off this idea that your soulmate is your whole life, soulmates were supposed to be a good thing- a support to life, not an all encompassing thing.”

“That’s so sad!” A girl’s voice came in from out of nowhere, “that must’ve been awful!”

“Well, it’s better than what happened to Percy,” Jason deflected awkwardly.

“Well what happened to Percy?” The girl asks, far too flirtatiously for Annabeth’s tastes.

“My dad died after two weeks.” Percy states matter of factly, like losing your soulmate wouldn’t devastate someone.

“Better than to have loved and lost, right?” The Annoying DJ butted in.

“Yeah, tell that to my mom. She always told me that meeting your soulmate was like going for a walk in a hurricane. Everything happened so quick, and after the dust settles you have to rebuild your life over again with someone new, and better for the experience but-”

“Listeners, you can’t see it, but he just shrugged.” One of the DJs said, and there’s a burst of laughter.

Suddenly Annabeth wants nothing more than to see Percy shrug. She doesn’t even know what he looks like.

“What about Nico?” The annoying DJ says as the laughter wrapped up, “what’s your soulmate hating sob story?”

“‘Sorrow becomes my best friend’ is my sob story.” Nico replies, and Annabeth decides she kinda likes him a little.

“What Nico means is,” Jason pauses, as if he’s waiting for a nod from Nico, “Of the three of us, Nico had it the worst romance wise. I was dating this girl for awhile, but we realized we weren’t soulmates when we turned 18 and we just parted ways, and Percy was sorta heartbroken, but he managed to step away from the relationship when he turned 18. Whereas Nico was so totally in love with someone who was older than him, and turned 18 before him, and Nico always thought that, well he thought that they’d see him as a soulmate-”

“And she didn’t-” the woman cut in again.

“They didn’t. Sorrow becomes my best friend is about how we’re expected to set aside free choice in the love of our lives, but it kind of really sucks. The whole process just bites.” Annabeth didn’t miss the linguistic hopping that Jason did, and Annabeth wouldn’t be surprised if there was a guy in the world who had no idea he broke Nico’s heart. “In the end it’s worth it, you’ll have this amazing love and everything, but when you’re sixteen and the person you’ve loved since you were thirteen still sees you as nothing more than a little brother, it can suck a lot.”

Sorrow becomes my best friend is definitely the most tear jerking song I’ve heard in a long time.” The not-annoying DJ says, and Annabeth agreed wholeheartedly.

“It was the first song Nico ever wrote, and when we tried to play it when we were recording the first album, we were realized we weren’t ready yet to do that song. Emotionally or physically, so we held off until the second album.” Percy explains, his voice coming in and out for a moment as if he’s playing with his mic.

“Do you still talk to-”

“We’re good friends now.” Nico cut in. And the conversation halts for a moment.

“So what if you guys find your soulmates?” Annoying DJ asked with another cackle.

“Well if we find our soulmates then we’ll still write about friendship, and how the patriarchy is bad and-”

“About pizza.” Percy cut in.

“Yeah about pizza, but we’ll probably sprinkle in a soulmate song or two. But for the most part, our music tries to be about every aspect of our lives, not just about our shitty high school break ups. We wanted to write about our shitty high school break ups because everyone has had them- everyone gets sucked into this idea of maybe I’m different, maybe I’m the person who meets their soulmate at fourteen and wakes up one day in the middle of being eighteen and this person I’ve already been with for years is the person I will be with for years. But there’s only a few people who are so lucky.” Jason may not be the vocalist on the album, but he was definitely the leader in conversations.

“Yeah and people need songs for shitty breakups.” Percy’s chuckle is far less grating than the DJ’s.

“That’s the title of our next album, ‘People need songs for shitty breakups.’” Jason joked, the cackles erupt again, and the DJ shuffles a paper.

“Well that’s Demi with their latest single Sorrow Becomes my Best Friend off of their-”

“Aren’t they great?” Her cubicle mate asks, and Annabeth snaps back to reality. The radio starts playing another song off their second album, I wish I could meet you soon their only sappy song, written from the perspective of someone hoping to meet their soulmate and compiling a list of things to talk to them about.

“Yeah, they seem cool.” Annabeth says, when her brain stops failing her.

“We’re going to go see them, they’re supposed to perform tonight in Brooklyn and tomorrow in Manhattan. I hear they’re great live.” A clacking of keys informs Annabeth that her cubicle mate didn’t notice that she broke Annabeth’s brain.

The rest of the day flies by in a flash, and Annabeth ends it by dropping onto Piper’s bed.

“I’m in love with a voice on the radio.” Annabeth croaked into Piper’s pillow, as Piper swatted at her butt.

“Are you finally becoming a hysterical teeanger? I knew it! I knew it would happen someday! You became a hysterical teeanger!” Piper thudded onto her bed, causing annabeth to bounce.

“I'm worried that this band singer might actually be my soulmate.” Annabeth rolled over, “I physically cannot stop listening to him.”

“Okay? So? What's the problem? Either he's your soulmate or you finally have more than a passing interest in music, either way you have a chance to go see a pretty decent band for cheap,” piper patted annabeth's back reassuringly but it didn't chase away the problems in her mind.

She thought about her dad, in the long distance and eventually broken soul bond, she thought about the night that she could see her mother’s name fading off his arm. She thought about Luke and how she'd believed with her whole heart that he'd be her forever until she woke up one morning and realized he wouldn’t. She'd bucked against the idea for so long, passionately debating against the idea that soulmates only had each other.

Then again, Percy agreed with her, at least his music did. She thought about his snarky rant on the radio that morning, and how more than one of his songs fixated on life beyond soulmates.

“Besides, it’s not like you have a choice-” Piper trailed off “I’ve been telling Leo we’d go all week.”

It was something she could vaguely recall, Leo spent half the week ranting about basses and the other about label contracts. It’d all gone in one ear and out the other as she spent the week in a fog.

Annabeth looked up at Piper who was wincing slightly “and I got called into work.”

“Piper!” Annabeth fought the urge to give in to more dramatics.

“They asked him to play bass because they found out he’s better than Percy at it and he was so excited! It's his first time playing for anyone who wasn't family and I couldn't tell him that I couldn't do it,” Piper did her best puppy dog face, and Annabeth couldn't disappoint both of her friends in one go. “Plus apparently tonight is the premiere of their new album, and it’s just a really big deal to him!”

“Fine! But if this ends horribly-”

“I will take full blame!”

Annabeth just groaned, standing up to spin around and head towards her room, “I’m going to go get dressed now.”

“Yay! Wear something cute!” Piper said, and Annabeth turned in time to see the horrified look on her face.

“You sound like your sister.” Annabeth shot over her shoulder at Piper, who just looked even more horrified.

“Don’t you dare!” Piper shouted, even as Annabeth went into her own room.

After a few moments of floundering and staring blankly at her closet, Annabeth sat down and took a deep breath.

“Okay let’s talk this out.” She muttered mostly to herself.

Although Annabeth always loved a good girl’s night out, with a fair amount of getting ready and joking around, this was going to a bar to support a friend on a hot summer night. She pulled out an old orange camp shirt, a comforting one that had the neckline cut. It was comfortable and she had it on good authority that she looked cute in it.

She pulled on her shoes, again avoiding fancy clothes in order to stick to what she’d normally wear, simple sandals that were more worn in then the rest of her clothes.

As she brushed and braided back her hair, she did what she always did, she walked through the logic. 1. Soulmates always met in person, there was no way that she’d hear a voice on a track and know it was her soulmate. Soulmate bonds couldn’t be transmitted through technology, or at least, it’d never happened before. 2. What were the chances that Annabeth, a person who rarely listened to music, would be bonded to someone in a band..

She repeated the two facts in her head, like a calming mantra as she walked into the living room to find Piper waiting for her.

“You ready to go?” Piper asked, standing up and adjusting her skirt.

“I don’t need an escort to go to a bar Piper.” Annabeth grabbed her purse and grinned over at her roommate. “Honestly.”

“Well, the precinct I’m volunteering at is just a few blocks away from the bar. I’ll walk with you.”

“I’m not going to bail on Leo,” Annabeth tugged open the door and Piper followed.

“It’s a nice night, let’s head to the fountain,” Piper tucked her arm through Annabeth’s instead of addressing her comment.

The park they lived near held a fountain and garden in a tucked away corner. A few years earlier there had been a nationwide challenge to build it, and Annabeth, a precocious fourteen year old, had won. When she and Piper decided to move to Brooklyn, they moved as close as possible to the fountain. All of their walks took them on detours to visit the tiny little corner that Annabeth designed. That night was no different, they detoured to the little garden, where the sound of a group of boys walking away echoed. Annabeth caught a glimpse of dark hair in the hedges as they walked up.

“Okay, so I think that he’s not my soulmate.” Annabeth dropped down onto the bench. “It’s just not possible to meet your soul bond over the radio-”

“Well it was Leo’s laptop-” Piper shot back with a grin.

“Anyways, it just isn’t possible, he’s not my soulmate, he’s just a really good singer.” Annabeth played with the hem of her shirt.

“Yeah, he really is a good singer.” Piper nodded her head in the direction of the bar, “you wanna go watch him play?”

“Remember when Elvis was really big? Girls wrote his name on their arms and and pretended to be his mate, he couldn't sign anything with his real signature until after he found his actual mate. There's no way that I’d hear a bond before I met him- or her.” Annabeth continued as piper just smiled. “There's no way.”

“Okay so you're definitely not freaking out?” Piper’s grin turned all-knowing.

“Yeah definitely. I am not freaking out.” Annabeth replied, waving a hand as she did so.

“But you're going to wait here for a few minutes before going?” Piper nudged her as she asked.

“Yes, it’s just because it's a nice night and was surrounded by people all day.” Annabeth clarified, piper just grinned wider. “Seriously.”

“Alright there buddy, I gotta go do some pro-bono work.” Piper waved before walking away, “have a nice night! Get home safe!”

“Bye!” Annabeth shouted after her, it wasn’t long until Piper disappeared from view, leaving Annabeth to look around the small garden. It relaxed her, thinking about how she carefully designed the columns from her bedroom in San Francisco. How she managed to avoid her dad’s wife in her narrow room by claiming she was doing work. She couldn’t stand her stepmom, for reasons she could never quite explain. The sight of another person’s name on her stepmother’s arm didn’t help, a man who had died long before Annabeth was even born. People were allowed to remarried after their bonds broke, or if the person they bonded to died. Fourteen year old Annabeth couldn’t quite wrap her head around it. But at twenty-two she understood a little better.

The small garden was a relic from a different life, the groundwork for who she was a young adult in a moody teen.

Her phone vibrated a few times but she ignored it, taking in the view and taking in deep breaths.

Finally it vibrated one more time and she saw a stream of texts from Leo.

Piper says you’re comingggg YAYYYYYYY

Okay but you gotta hurry we’re starting soon.

why am I so nervous I AM A WAY BETTER BASSIST THEN PERCY

Percy takes offense at that but I am

shows abt to start see u soon!?

The last text was a stream of emojis; skeletons and panicked smiley faces.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming.” She stood up, regretting the shorts that she wore, as the sun dipped behind the brooklyn skyline so did the temperature. She set a brisk pace to the bar, even so, she was still late. The bar looked like a seedy hole in the wall from the outside, but was an expansive venue on the inside from what she’d heard. It was the kind of place that the hipsters congregated to in order to be the first people to discover new bands. Even early in the evening there was always a line, a small cluster of annoyed and excited people chattering about the bands that were posted on the Marquis. DEMI was written in old plastic letters, along with a few other bands she didn’t recognize. But DEMI was right next to a cursive script that read “Featuring.”

She’d been to the bar once or twice, but never inside. Paying a cover to listen to hopeful bands wasn’t her cup of tea, but it was Leo’s. She’d wait for him beyond the smokers and they’d walk home together.

Annabeth slid in the line, her ears strained for the chords of music that would slip out as the door opened and closed. Nothing she recognized, but also nothing distinguishable. After a few minutes of waiting, the bouncer quickly checked her ID and took her cash, letting her slip through the door.

The bar was packed, which was slightly surprising for a thursday night, but Annabeth had no idea what a typical thursday night looked like in a bar, as she couldn’t recall ever going to a bar on a thursday night.

She squeezed past groups of people hanging around and looked up at the stage, Leo waved frantically as he helped some tall blonde guy set up. She overheard people talking about the band that just left and figured she managed to miss the opening act. She waved back and went over to the bar, figuring she might as well sit as she listened.

Annabeth ordered the first thing on the menu that didn’t look like it had too much alcohol in it, and watched as Leo setup. Tall, blonde and muscled was joined very briefly by a tall dark haired boy who looked like he was in a post goth recovery phase, complete with strips of white skin on his wrists that must’ve once been loaded down with spiky jewelry. He had one friendship bracelet on his arm, which matched the blond boy’s. Even from a distance she could see that Leo now had a friendship bracelet on his arm, and she made the mental note to tease him about his new best friends later.

A short girl who had a wide wristband that read “UNDER 21” next to her friendship bracelet was hefting parts of a drum set on her own. Annabeth figured that was Hazel, meaning the two boys in the front were any one of the other three. Chances were that the blond one was Jason, as he seemed to be mostly fiddling with the amps, and the dark haired one was Nico, as he wasn’t leaving his keyboard alone. Leo was turned, talking to someone off stage as he quickly ran through the items on the stage. It was interesting to watch, it was a group effort but they worked like a well oiled machine, even Leo who apparently was only brought on as the bassist last week.

Once the instruments were set up they all streamed off the stage towards whoever Leo had been speaking to. Annabeth took a sip of her drink and instantly winced, shoving the drink away.

“Hello everyone,” the voice echoed through the room with a loud squeal of feedback and there was a collective wince as the voice swore under his breath- but loud enough to be picked up by the microphone. Annabeth turned to see what had happened and instead turned to see the world stop.

Dimly, she registered a few things, the band had gone out to their respective instruments. Leo’s fingers twitching, as if he was running through the chords in his brain. Jason- it was definitely Jason because he held the electric guitar- was frowning at the microphone, as if he could will the microphone to stay in line by being disappointed in it. Nico at the piano was glaring at the mic, taking the opposite stance that sending a stream of hatred at something would make it functional. Hazel was grinning as she spun her drumsticks through her fingers, as if she waited all week to be behind the drums and she didn’t care was going on beyond her set.

She registered everything in a flash, her mind taking in everything as if she was at the forefront of an adrenaline rush, the rush kicked in and the world narrowed. Slim but calloused fingers were struggling with the mic stand, short black hair flopped into his face as he looked away, it was a disaster of a haircut with the sides shaved high and a soft looking poof of hair that was trying desperately bad to be a mohawk and it should’ve looked awful, but it looked so good. Annabeth wanted to run her fingers through that hair for the rest of time. His face was cast in profile as he said something to someone behind the curtains, there was a jagged scar by his chin that went up to one ear. His friendship bracelet was sliding down a wrist that looked like it was sculpted from marble. He wore jeans like the rest of the band, but they rested on his hips in a way that made her want to weep with gratitude for anyone whoever created denim.

He wore the same shirt as her.

It jarred her momentarily, she tried to pull herself back together, but before she could accomplish it, he looked away from backstage and towards the audience.

And straight at her.

Sea green eyes bore into hers, and she felt a warm pressure on her arm, like someone was gently holding her forearm. She wanted to look down and see what happened but that would’ve required looking away from him, and that just wasn’t going to happen.

Annabeth never wanted to know everything about a person, but she wanted to drag him off stage and talk to him forever, learn everything he thought about anything and hold the hand he was using to hold up the microphone.

It felt like eternity but somehow it also felt too fast.

An awkward cough pulled her back, their eye contact broke, and her eyes slid down to his forearm, the one that definitely had been blank before now had a long squiggle. Even from a distance she could recognize her signature, ANNABETH CHASE was now scrawled along his arm, as it was scrawled along the bottom of countless blueprints.

She looked down at her own arm, a choppy and awkward signature read PERCY JACKSON where the comfortable warmth had been.

“Dude-” Leo’s voice came over the microphone and she looked back up at the stage. Leo was trying to help Percy with the microphone, and Percy took a step back and let him, Jason was leaning over and he whispered something to Percy. Annabeth gathered from a distance that Jason was asking Percy if he was alright.

Suddenly she realized exactly what was going to happen, Percy was going to get down from the stage, thwarting a show that was supposed to launch his second album, just to talk to her. When they had the rest of eternity to talk. She cast a glance around the audience, it was packed and expectant, quiet murmurs as they watched Leo fiddle with the microphone. There were a few furtive whispers and glances at Percy’s arm, and she recalled with stunning detail the interview that she’d heard just this morning. She’d heard Percy himself rant about the importance of life outside of a bond.

She knew she had to do something to stop him from coming over, but the first thing that jumped into her mind was to shout THE SHOW MUST GO ON

She let the impulse pass, and made eye contact with Percy again, which frankly, wasn’t hard. He was staring at her like she was an oasis in the desert that might disappear at any point. She held up her hand like it was a microphone and mimicked singing, hoping to any gods that might be listening that she didn’t look like an idiot. Percy jerked back and looked over, realizing that Leo was now staring at him instead of the microphone.

There was few more whispered words between the boys on the stage, Percy said something that made Leo and Jason look at each other with a perplexed look on their faces. Nico and Hazel both looking on in confusion, but Percy looked up at her and nodded, mouthing something that looked like smart. He looked back at the rest of the band for a moment and everyone nodded back, as if he gave them a direction that they were all more than happy to follow.

He stepped up to the microphone, as Leo took a step back.

“Mic check one, two- alright, sorry about the technical difficulty there. Hi I’m Percy Jackson-” her heart swelled, she felt so stupid, getting giddy over hearing her soulmate say his name in person for the first time, “that’s Jason Grace on the guitar, We’ve got Hazel Levesque on the drums and Nico Di Angelo on the keyboard, joining us for the first time is Leo Valdez on the bass. We’re Demi and this one goes out to the wise girl in the audience-”

Immediately the band launched into I wish I could meet you soon And Annabeth couldn’t help but laugh at that. Percy was apparently a quick one.

Annabeth knew every word, but she didn’t sing along, singing along would’ve made it hard to hear Percy’s voice. She wasn’t sure if the rest of the audience was as mesmerized as her, but she was pretty positive that his voice wasn’t a soul-mate induced illusion.

His voice hit the notes as perfectly as they had on the album. His voice was almost magnified by his actions on the stage, he gripped the microphone stand as if it was a lifeline, but he didn’t just stand there and sing. He moved with the music, like he was a snake charmer trying to lure the audience out of a basket. The rest of the audience was singing along with the song, haltingly because the album had only been out for a week. His voice was more hauntingly beautiful in person, which seemed impossible but now the high scores for beautiful voices in her mind were labeled “Percy Jackson Recorded” and “Percy Jackson Live.”

It was ridiculous that she hadn’t paid more attention to I wish I could meet you soon before. It hadn’t been one of her favorites, not that she disliked any of their music, but it definitely didn’t get replayed as much as Sorrow becomes my best friend and I play Dodgeball with Cannibals (a song that she now knows from looking at him is so ridiculously Percy that she’s not surprised at all that it was one of her favorites). Now she doesn’t think she’ll ever stop playing I wish I could meet you soon It’s a lovely and hopeful song and she wanted it to never end.

But of course it did. Unfazed by the change in playlist, the band leaped into their next song. They didn’t bother to introduce it, it was a cover of an Adele song that they had on their soundcloud page and itunes, she gathered it was a big one for their group because the audience cheered. More people sang along to the cover- probably because they already knew the words. Annabeth had once snarkily told someone that only Adele could possibly sing Adele songs, but now she knew better. Percy hit the notes perfectly, and the band altered the song so subtly that it was their own homage to the track instead of a gender swapped copy.

From then it was a stream of songs, a healthy mix of covers and original tracks, which had been a smart move on someone’s part. Annabeth didn’t know much about the music world, but she could tell that this crowd would’ve been bored by a straight set of original songs. Although she was sorely disappointed that they didn’t play I Play Dodgeball with Cannibals.

Annabeth did her best not to stare at Percy, so of course, she just stared at Percy. As the night wore on she noticed beads of sweat rolling down his collarbone and into his shirt. His hair had started the night sticking forward, but after he ran his fingers through it a few times it was sticking up and back.

She tried to focus on everything, she wanted to watch Leo so she could tell him later that he did a good job, she attempted to appreciate how talented the band was. But her gaze kept sliding back to Percy, just as he kept looking at her edge of the bar.

It felt like a few rushed minutes instead of an hour before Sorrow Becomes My Best Friend started, but when the opening chords came on, she realized that after that song there’d be an encore and her soulmate would rush to meet her.

In a crowded bar.

She imagined leaning in close to shout hi, I’m your soulmate Annabeth Chase, I like architecture, I’m surprisingly good at throwing daggers, I hate spiders and I want to lick your collarbone in a crowded bar that probably wanted to congratulate him, or even get his autograph.

She hated it.

She didn’t want to share him, she didn’t want to shout over other people, she didn’t want to have to awkwardly wait as people interrupted to speak to him.

A solution sprang into her mind as soon as the problem appeared, she pulled up her purse, rifling through it to find a post-it pad to write on. She scribbled a quick note, and paused before adding her number just in case. She didn’t want to risk it being lost, but she also didn’t want to wait on Leo to finish making fun of them to give Percy her number if he couldn’t find her.

Then came the hard part, she had to edge around the crowd towards the stage, which was not easy. There were large clusters of people nodding along and singing off-key. There was no security close to the stage, but the amps shook as the bass Leo played came ringing through. Percy had kept his eyes on her and she hoped that he’d follow her lead for the second time that night. She held up the post it note as she stood against the stage, he nodded as he sang and she stuck it on the far side of the amp, before waving and backing up.

If she thought trying to get through the crowd was hard, walking away from Percy was harder. She kept glancing backwards at him, and he was still singing, but watching her more intently than he had before. She gave him one more wave before dashing out the door.

The walk back to the garden was shorter than the walk to the bar, or at least it felt shorter. Annabeth wasn’t prone to second guessing herself, but she did then as she waited for Percy to show up.

She expected to sit there for an hour or two, she figured there’d be encores, plus he’d have to talk to whatever big-wigs were hanging around. So she folded her legs, ignoring the press of cold cement against her thighs as she pulled her phone out to answer some emails. It wasn’t long before she gave in and started playing a game on her phone that she didn’t even remember downloading. The game gave away to Annabeth laying down on the bench and staring up at the sky, clouds obscured what few stars would be seen in the city, but she was still grinning up at it as if it was the most beautiful sky she’d ever seen.

She heard the thudding of feet, and propped herself up, Percy came flying into the garden and without thinking she checked the time, only fifteen minutes had passed since she left the bar.

“How did you-”

He wasn’t even out of breath as he sat down on the bench next to her, she sat up and into his arms.

“Hey, hi, nice to meet you, I’m going to kiss you now okay?”

Annabeth wasn’t sure what she wanted him to say, but apparently he didn’t bother thinking before talking, and she was okay with it.

“Hello, that sounds good.” She said, as if he was suggesting altering a floor plan or eggs for breakfast, not their first kiss as soulmates.

He pulled her forward, his arms wrapping around her waist and pulling her in tight, her hands went where they wanted to be all night, cupping the back of his head to pull him closer. Their lips met and she felt like the current was pulling her out to sea.

It could have been hours, years, centuries and it wouldn’t have been enough, but the need to talk, ask questions, investigate, find out everything about him boiled up in her, she pulled away. He hadn’t been out of breath before, but he was now.

“How did you get here so quickly?” She asked, not giving him space to move away.

“Um, I ran? I also made Jason deal with the record label stuff, that’s usually his wheelhouse. I mostly just piss people off.” Percy’s eyes kept flitting down to her lips as he spoke, as if he was trying his best to resist opening pandora’s box. “Also, sorry but uh, I can’t read your handwriting.”

He stuck out his arm as he said it, looking down at it before looking back at her. She couldn’t help but burst into laughter.

“Good going, Seaweed brain,” she untangled her hand from his neck, sticking it between them so she could shake his hand, “Annabeth Chase.”

“Percy Jackson,” he replied, shaking her hand. She looked down and saw the matching tattoos on their arms.

“Yeah, I know, I have your album- both of them actually.” She said it like a confession, “and Leo is my roommate, he talks about you all the time.”

“Do you like my music- wait does that make you the genius architect?” Percy smiled, “my soulmate is hot and smart?”

“I wouldn’t say genius-” she tried her best to play it off, “except I’m kind of a genius.”

“I’d say! Leo said you got your Master’s degree when you were twenty!” He paused, looking slightly concerned, “I don’t even have my bachelor’s yet.”

“What are you getting your bachelor’s in?” She asked, the conversation feeling weirdly mundane, hey soulmate, what’s your major?

“Marine Biology,” he responded quickly, “with a minor in music theory. Sort of. The minor is more de facto than anything else, I took a bunch of electives in music but marine biologist is what I want to be when my music crashes and burns.”

“How could your music crash and burn? You have the voice of-” she struggled to think of something that didn’t sound cheesey, “-a male Adele.”

“Thanks,” he said it with a grin, “I actually get that a lot.”

“No I mean, normally I don’t listen to bands non-stop. I’ll pick up a song here and a song there, mostly whatever’s on the radio or whatever Leo slips onto my ipod but your music, I don’t know. It’s good.”

“Thanks,” he said again, with an even wider smile.

“Your voice has been haunting me for the last week- don’t say thanks!” A blush was rising in her cheeks. Percy looked around like he was trying to find something to talk about.

“This garden is my favorite place in the city, whenever I go to Jason’s apartment- I live in manhattan- I swing by here.” Percy shrugged, “when you wrote out to come here I stopped freaking out that I met my soulmate across a crowded bar, this feels more real.”

“I designed it,” she blurted out, ecstatic that she’d reached him before they met like he had reached her. “I designed it when I was fourteen, it won a competition.”

“Oh my gods, you’re amazing.” Percy tugged her again, and she had just enough time to mutter thanks before they were kissing again.

“No seriously,” he said after a minute, pulling her away, “it’s somehow classic and modern at the same time, and it’s so beautiful.”

“Are we complimenting each other now?” Annabeth grinned, “is that what we’re doing? Because I’ll admit it now that I was disappointed you guys didn’t play I play Dodgeball with Cannibals, that’s my favorite song.”

“It’s my favorite too! I wrote it here!” Percy gestured towards the other bench, “there actually. And you left before the encore. That’s when we do that song and Sammy.”

The knowledge that he wrote her favorite song, while sitting in the garden she designed made a fire burn in her stomach.

“I can’t believe I missed it,” she tried to think of a way to voice her feelings that doesn’t sound completely stupid. Oh my gods it’s as if we’re meant to be! keeps unironically running through her head. That’s what soulmates are, two people who are inexplicably drawn together until they meet and spend the rest of their lives together. Of course they’d like some of the same things, they probably had the same favorite tv show, or make the same stupid puns.

“I mean to be fair, I had a hard time keeping it together after you left.” Percy shrugged, “I was so happy that Hazel sings Sammy so I could just stand there with my tambourine.”

“Tambourine! I can’t believe I missed it,” she frowned and Percy scrambled to make her smile again.

“You’ll definitely- I could pull it out now, well I left it at the bar. But I could sing I play Dodgeballs with Cannibals for you, wait that’s not romantic it’s about corporate greed-” Percy looked confused for a moment and Annabeth couldn’t help but smile.

“No, you should definitely sing me the song you wrote about corporate greed while sitting in my garden,” she scooted closer, linking her arms behind his head.

He cleared his throat, bringing his fist up to cover his mouth between them as he did so, it only made Annabeth smile wider, “Are you sure about this?”

“Positive,” Annabeth responded, committing every second to memory.

If there was a category of “Percy recorded” and “Percy live” there was a new third category, “Percy alone with me.” The recordings of the song she’d heard were powerful, the song starts with him singing quietly and devolves into him belting out the chorus. In person however, he kept his voice down, as if very aware that they were in a garden in the middle of Brooklyn. The words are decidedly not romantic, it’s a political song that’s angry at the world. But the way he was crooning to her, she almost thought he was singing At Last by Etta James. She could understand now how Sirens could lure men to death with their voices, because if Percy had been a siren, she would’ve leapt off any ship to be near him.

He got as far as the chorus before she pulled him in by his cut neckline for another kiss, a slow and sweet one that they both pulled away from grinning.

“Is now a good time to tell you that I wrote I Wish I Could Meet You Soon here because-”

She didn’t even let him finish his sentence before she was pulling him back in. She threaded her fingers through his hair with one hand, and wrapped her other arm around him.

She shifted, moving to her knees so that she could move closer, but the shift introduced more cold cement to her legs, and she shivered unconsciously.

He leaned back, looking up at her, “are you cold?”

His eyes flitted down to her shorts before he shifted back, pulling her into his lap, if he was trying to warm her up, he was certainly doing a good job of it, because she felt like she was on fire. He rubbed his hands up and down her legs, as if the feel of rough callouses on her thighs would reassure her and not whip the flame into a frenzy. Suddenly she didn’t want to be in a garden, she wanted to be in her bed, preferably they’d get there without her leaving his lap.

“We should probably go somewhere,” she wrapped her arms around him again.

“Yeah, I don’t want you to get sick,” Percy responded, rubbing her legs again, and her mind skipped back to what track he was on.

“Yeah, that too.” She said, her eyes flickering down to where she sat in his lap.

“Oh my gods.” Percy groaned, a flush spreading across his cheeks. “That’s not what I meant-”

“It is what I meant.”

“Don’t get me wrong I’m totally okay with it-”

“Okay, let’s discuss it elsewhere because if we keep tiptoeing around it here, I’ll have to ask my roommate for help to get out of public indecency charges.” Annabeth watched as Percy shot her a mischievous smile.

“Yeah we don’t want that do we?” Percy stood up, taking Annabeth with her, she couldn’t help but let out a surprised giggle.

“Okay put me down,” she contradicted her words by wrapping her legs around his waist and pressing another kiss to his lips, edging to the side of filthy.

When her feet finally touched the ground, she instantly set off towards her apartment, almost on autopilot. “You said you live in Manhattan? Do you want go back to mine?”

“Yeah, I was supposed to spend the night with Jason- let me text him,” he pulled his phone out of his pocket, his fingers fumbled over the keypad, and she realized she was probably gripping his dominant hand, but she wasn’t willing to let go.

“Why were you supposed to stay with Jason? You just didn’t feel like making the trek back to manhattan?” She shifted her hands and he automatically threaded his fingers through hers.

“No, I just didn’t want to wake up my mom and I figured after the show we’d have a few drinks or jam a bit.” As his words sank in, a smile spread on her face.

“You live with your mom? Do you live in her basement?” She grabbed his arm with her other hand, pulling him closer so she could cuddle him as she teased him, “do you stay up all night blogging on the internet about the cruelty of the world?”

“No! School is expensive and my mom and my stepdad didn’t want me trying to work full time and go to school full time. I pay rent!” She tugged him down so she could kiss his cheek.

“I think it’s adorable,” she leaned her head against his shoulder, “my dad lives in San Francisico. So I live on my own- well, I live with Piper and Leo on my own.”

“So I’ve heard. You know Leo has been trying to get me to come over to meet you guys for months? I’ve just been too busy.”

Annabeth imagined it for a moment, walking in from class to find a man in her apartment that she would have the sudden and uncontrollable need to jump.

“You also went to my camp?” She asked, tugging on the sleeve of his shirt.

“Yeah, I would attend the August sessions, with Jason and Nico. Nico was my first icamper. Jason and I were supposed to have twelve campers when we were counselors in training, but last minute they all came down with the flu-” she could vaguely recall that year, it was her first summer as a counselor in training as well, she and Piper shared five campers. “-so it was just the two of us and Nico in our cabin. For our skit we did a band thing because Nico knew a billion instruments. But he choked last minute and refused to sing so I sang for him. And that is how Demi started. The first time anyways.”

“I went in the July sessions. Leo was a C.I.T. with us the year of the dastardly flu.”

“He was a counselor with us the following year,” Percy smiled as if remembering something, “he set the cafeteria on fire.”

“That was him?” She could remember the following year when the entire July session was stuck eating around the bonfire where the mosquitoes would attack. “Is demi a play on the camp name?”

He looked down at his shirt that read “CAMP HALF” the joke being that no one knew what it was half of. He looked back at her and nodded.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said, letting the laughter over take her, “I can’t believe it. If I did one august session-”

“Or if I did one July session.”

“We would’ve known each other for years.”

“We could’ve been doing this for years,” he swooped down, kissing her until her toes curled. She tried to keep walking and kissing him at the same time, but it wasn’t happening, she stepped into his arms, stepping up onto her toes to get better leverage.

“Seriously, Percy, we need to slow our roll,” Annabeth tried to say, but it mostly came out as a mumble against his lips.

“Or I could pick you up again-” his phone buzzed in his pocket.

She managed to pull away, tugging him towards her apartment. She could hear him texting with his free hand again, as she still had his hand firm in her grasp.

With a sigh he slid his phone into his pocket, “I just got a text from my Jason, but it’s just a stream of emojis. Sometimes I regret introducing him to the concept.”

“This is me,” she pointed up to the apartment complex, as she realized how final her statement sounded, “let’s go up and talk?”

“Talk and maybe make out?” Percy’s hopeful voice made her want to laugh but the question was making her weak in the knees.

“Talk and definitely make out.”

Two hours later they were still oscillating between the two. There were bits of random conversations where they talked about their childhoods, or what they had for lunch, or the time they had gone to the hoover dam on the same day without realizing it. She showed him her senior thesis and he explained why he chose marine biology as a major. They didn’t stick to a topic for too long, frankly because they kept getting distracted and kissing like their lives depended on it.

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you,” Annabeth slapped her forehead as they leaned back in her bed, his arms were around her and she had one leg thrown over his lap. “I have a very strict rule in my room.”

“What is it?” His hand was resting on her hip, the edges of his fingers just brushing the skin under her shirt.

“It’s a strict no shirts policy,” She frowned as she said it, “hot guys can’t be wearing shirts in my room.”

Percy looked around and Annabeth just laughed, whacking his shoulder as she did so, “you do know I mean you right?”

“Okay, first of all, I’m calling bullshit. Second of all, I’m willing to meet the requirement if we amend it slightly, I want to be the only guy who is allowed to take off his shirt in your room.” Percy smirked, arching an eyebrow at her.

“Deal, I now have a very strict ‘Percy can’t wear shirts in my room’ rule. Go on, take it off.” She reached forward to help him, but apparently he listened and responded quickly, flinging his shirt away.

Annabeth sat up and looked down at Percy. “What?” She poked him in the stomach, “how are you even real?”

“What?” He looked down and looked back up, apparently not seeing what she saw.

“Lead singers of underground bands are supposed to be scrawny and awkward you’re all-” she gestured towards his chest and stomach. He didn’t look like a bodybuilder, but he did have defined muscles on almost every inch. “How?”

“I swim?” She looked down at his chest before looking up at him again, “for an hour every day, it helps me get my mind in gear for the school day.”

“You’re way too hot, this is ridiculous. It’s one thing to be bonded to a lead singer in a band but another to be bonded to a hot one.” She moved to straddle him, stroking his chest as if trying to see if he was real.

“Says the hottest girl I’ve ever seen!” He paused as if he was thinking about it, “Hot and smart too! How’d that happen?”

“I am not hot-” his arms wrapped around her and rolled them, her head hung dangerously off the edge of the bed, and her neck strained as she tried to keep staring into his green eyes.

“I spent all night trying not to stare at you- not because it’d be awkward and weird but because I would most definitely get a boner and I no longer had the bass to hide behind.” She couldn’t help but smile at the thought. “I’m a hundred percent serious right now, with you grey eyes and your general-”

She cut him off, kissing the words out of his mouth and distracting him long enough to roll them again.

“If you spent all night trying to hide a boner then why don’t you have one now?” She raised an eyebrow as if to say trump that!

He rose to the challenge, both literally and metaphorically, he gripped her hips and pushed her down as he rose his own, grinding them together in a way that made stars explode behind her eyes.

“Maybe I’m just really good at hiding them.” He snarked back, a wide smile on his face, but Annabeth was beyond flirting, she wanted to see those stars again.

Experimentally, she ground down and he cut off a moan as her breath caught in her chest.

She looked down at him and as soon as their eyes met, it was like a gun went off. She leaned forward, kissing him hard and licking into his mouth as he struggled to pull up the hem of her shirt. She tried to keep grinding against him, but the pace was off and awkward, she only pulled away to let him pull off her shirt before she leaned back down, instead of his lips she went straight for his collarbone, biting, licking and sucking her way up to his neck.

Percy’s hands apparently had no idea where to go, his fingers clutched at her skin as her teeth nipped his skin and he moaned. As if on the mission, his fingers skirted down to her shorts, unbuckling them, his rough calloused fingers skimming the top of her underwear.

Annabeth knew she should say something like we should slow down, or let’s talk about this, Percy seemed to be waiting for something, so she stretched up to whisper in his ear, “Go for it.”

His wrist was caught between her stomach and his, but he still managed to deftly get his fingers under her waistband, she bowed up as his fingers stroked where only she’d stroked before. She groaned into his collarbone, but redoubled her efforts to mark him up as best as she could.

His other hand shoved at her shorts and she shifted, doing her best to take them off without losing any contact, she failed horribly and accidentally ended up on her back with a clatter of her dresser as the shorts she’d been wearing smacking into it.

Percy apparently wasn’t fazed, he just sat up and leaned over her, his fingers returning to where they belonged which was in her panties. His fingers were exploring, like the wanted to know every inch of her, but he kept his eyes on her face.

“Is- can I-” He started to ask, his thumb brushed against her clit and her back arched again.

“Are you trying to kill me?” She groaned, and his smile was wide and earnest.

“Is that a yes?”

“Yes that’s a yes!” She wasn’t even sure what she was saying yes to, but she quickly figured it out, his index finger pushed into her as his thumb circled her clit and it was so good. All these years she thought she’d done a pretty decent job taking care of herself, and here was some guy she didn’t even know that morning out pacing her, pushing at her boundaries and limits, “oh my gods stop torturing me!”

He took that to mean one finger isn’t enough, which it really wasn’t, and a second finger joined the first. Her panties had become just as constricting as her shorts had been, but she managed to shove them off with more coordination.

Percy leaned down, pulling her into a sweet kiss as his finger dragged her to greater heights, his fingers curled and hit a spot deep inside, Annabeth moaned into his mouth, her toes curling.

“Can I-” he started again, and Annabeth wanted to sob, he was just so sweet continuing to search for permission long after most people would’ve just done whatever they wanted.

Yes” she said again, not even knowing what she was agreeing to. He moved away from her, and she wanted to say no, come back! but he moved with a purpose, sliding between her legs. The clouds cleared for a moment as he put her leg on his shoulder. “Oh my gods

His fingers were still inside of her, probing and pushing and hitting the spot deep inside of her like it held the secrets to the universe. His tongue licked where his thumb had abandoned her, and the stars were a permanent fixture behind her eyes, she’d never see straight again.

Her whole body was reaching a fever pitch, her knees shook even as Percy held her thigh with her free hand. She grabbed his hand with one of hers, clutching his fingers for something to hold on to as her other hand threaded through his hair.

It wasn’t long before her back was bowing again, and she was clutching his hair entirely too hard, but he didn’t seem to care, he was persistent and steady, like waves lapping against the beach.

She forced herself to let go of his hair before she hurt him, instead flinging her arm across her eyes so she didn’t have to be tortured with the sight of him between her legs. He sped up, pressing deeper and licking harder, and she broke into a million pieces.

For the second time that night, eternity passed in a moment as she fought to get her breath back.

She struggled to clear her eyes, looking down to see Percy smirking between her legs, his hair sticking in all directions. She was still wearing her bra, the plain boring grey bra that she wore to work that morning.

“Where did you learn to do that?” She asked, out of breath, he just shrugged. “Come here.”

He crawled up her, and she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, an innocent and light kiss like she was about to go off to work instead of thanking him for rocking her world.

He still had his jeans on, although he seemed to have undone the top button at some point. Her mind scrambled, for a second at the sight of his happy trail disappearing under a waistband that peeked out between an unbuttoned jeans. There was a very obvious shape curved under the waistband and her fingers itched to get ahold of it.

“Oh no,” she said blankly, looking up at him, he just frowned in confusion and tried to back away but she kept her arms tight around his neck, “I don’t have any condoms.”

She was laying there, in the same boring grey bra she wore to work, on the bed that was still made from when she woke up that morning and fixed it out of habit, with the most gorgeous guy she’d ever met in her life between her legs, and she didn’t have any condoms

A treacherous thought skirted across her face, because Percy frowned and said, “well we can’t not do it without condoms, that’s why I exist.”

“I’m really happy you exist right now, but I see your point.” Annabeth remembered scoffing in health class where they always warned students to carry condoms just in case after they turned eighteen because once you meet your soulmate, your ability to control yourself will be severely limited. Annabeth thought her control would never be limited. She was the queen of control. Piper had been nodding resolutely next to her, agreeing with every word the teacher said.

“We can just-”

“Wait!” She shoved at his shoulder and he dropped off of her, landing on the bed with a thump. She opened the door, and looked out into the hall, checking for Leo and Piper’s shoes by the front door before she strolled out of her room, still almost completely naked.

The first aid kid was in the kitchen, in a drawer underneath the utensils. She dug through it, hoping against hope. None of them had met their soulmates, so she knew the chances of Piper and Leo having any in their rooms was a longshot, but generally Piper was romantic enough to be hopeful and keep a condom in with the first aid. Just in case! she always said with a sing song voice if Annabeth brought it up.

She heard the padding of feet and didn’t need to turn around in order to see that Percy had followed her.

“Ah ha!” She said with victory, holding up the small square foil, “thank you Piper- Expired?”

“It’s okay!” Percy pulled the traitorous condom out of her hand, Annabeth tried to figure out if a year long expired condom was safe or not, but he tossed it in the general direction of the garbage, “we don’t need to go all the way tonight, we have the rest of our lives.”

“Yeah but,” Annabeth sucked in a breath, and regained her tenuous control on her hormones, “we have the rest of our lives.”

He smiled again, with that mischievous smile that made her think that she’d walked into a trap or a prank. He stick his hands in his pockets, his jeans still riding his hips like he was an underwear model.

Maybe it's time to wipe that smirk off his face she thought as she took a step closer to him.

“Well maybe we should go to bed,” Percy nodded ready to agree with Annabeth or say something snarky. She tucked her fingers into the waistband of his jeans “Or.”

Percy was quick, following her lead as she walked him backwards, helping him step out of his pants. The tantalizing underwear she'd been seeing traces of all night were apparently dark blue boxer briefs. She sent up a prayer of thanks that her life had gone in a way that she could see Percy Jackson in his boxer briefs.

“Is this okay?” He was nodding before she even finished asking the question. She stroked her finger along the outside of the shorts before reaching inside. He was warm and heavy in her hand. He seemed to finally notice that she never took her bra off. He reached around to unbuckle and pulled her closer as he did so. She stepped into the kiss, she kept note of when he moaned into her mouth as she stroked him. He dropped her bra and instantly cupped her breast which made her roll her eyes and think Men even as she relished how warm his hands were, and the feel of his callouses against her skin.

It was her turn to shove his underwear down, which she did quickly before looking between them at him, he was hard, precum tagging her skin as it dragged against her stomach as she pulled him out of his shorts. She had no frame of reference, but she knew he was definitely not small. She looked back up to him, he was biting his lip as if he was doing his best not to explode.

“Heads up, I am not going to last long.” Percy informed her, the wicked smirk making a triumphant return. Apparently his smile makes her want to do stupid things.

She dropped down to her knees, and he let out a yelp. She stroked him once or twice, her mind floundered, unsure of what she wanted to do but bravado carried her this far. Annabeth looked up at Percy and smiled, before licking a long strip up the underside.

“Yeah, I’m definitely not going to last long.” Percy groaned, making Annabeth chuckle before she experimentally licked again, it didn’t seem very efficient so she popped the head of his dick into her mouth. He moaned again, and she decided she definitely liked the sound of his moan and didn’t hate the taste of him on her tongue.

His hands threaded through her hair, but he didn’t try to move her head in any direction, so she took it upon herself, mimicking with her mouth what she wished they’d be doing if the damn condoms weren’t expired. She couldn’t get much of him in her mouth, a combination of gag reflex and plain inexperience kept her from getting more than halfway down his dick, so she made up the difference with her hands. Her knees were smarting from where she hit the floor too hard, but Percy was moaning and saying nonsensical things as his hand clutched at her hair.

It wasn’t hard to emulate the enthusiasm Percy had earlier, hearing him moan was like an addiction, she wanted to make him louder, so she sucked harder until he was tugging at her hair and saying, “wait no I’m going to-”

Again she floundered, unsure what the etiquette was when one was giving their soulmate a blowjob in the kitchen at two in the morning. She let his tugging hand guide her, sitting back on her haunches just in time for her cheek to get splattered.

“Oh fuck! Oh fuck! I’m so sorry!” Percy kept swearing as he dropped down to his knees, trying to wipe her face with his hand, which was only making a bigger mess.

“It’s fine, stop it-” she smacked his hand away before kissing him, “It’s good, it was good.”

“It was very good!” His enthusiasm was dampened as he winced, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-”

“Will you stop? It’s our first time, we have eternity. Next time I’ll just swallow.” Annabeth pressed another kiss, she always knew theoretically that sex was messy, but she always thought she’d handle it better.

Percy didn’t say anything so she pulled back to look at him, he looked like he’d been hit over the head with a baseball bat.

“What?” She asked, “are you okay? Was that okay?”

“No I just- you just- I mean,” Percy stammered, “you said ‘next time I’ll swallow’ and my brain broke a little bit.”

She laughed, pulling him up, “come on, let’s shower and go to bed.”

Showering was fraught with perils, mainly that they were both naked and kept getting distracted, but they persevered and managed to get cleaned and get dry before stumbling into her room. The short walk back to her room took entirely too long because she couldn’t keep her hands off of him.

Finally, as he had her pressed up to her doorway and her legs were wrapped around her waist, she finally had to make a stand.

“Until we get our hands on a box of condoms, you have to wear pants.” Annabeth shoved Percy’s shoulders as he groaned. He let her stand up and she moved towards her dresser. “I’m serious, you’re a danger to my uterus.

“Fine, but I’m not happy about it.” His clothes were mixed with her clothes on her floor, which made her smile as she rifled through her drawers.

“These should fit you,” she flung a pair of boxers at him as he was leaning down to pick up the jeans that had been tossed in her room before they showered.

“You just have men’s boxers chillin in your drawers?” He asked as he pulled on the shorts.

“Did you think I was going to make you wear jeans to bed?” She pulled on a pair of underwear herself, a barrier to unwanted pregnancy. “I like having boxers to sleep in during the summer.”

“Okay well that’s just awesome” Percy mumbled, moving to stand next to her. She pulled out two shirts, but Percy grabbed them and put them back into the dresser, “may I remind you about your strict no shirts policy?”

“You’re right, I do have a strict no shirts policy. But I’m also instituting a strict ‘no more fooling around for the rest of the night’ policy” Annabeth moved over to the bed, feeling sort of ridiculous that she was just wearing a pair of underwear and he was just in a pair of boxers, “and I’m also so mad at myself for not listening to my health teacher in high school.”

“Tell me about it,” Percy stretched out in her bed, following her lead and sliding his legs under the covers to pull the blankets up to their chest, “I had a condom in my wallet and last week my friend Grover met his soulmate, and I gave him the condom. I guess this is what I get for doing kind deeds.”

Annabeth nestled into his arm, throwing her arm across his waist and her leg across his.

“Also I never really understood that song- you know the Hozier one?”

“Hmm?” Annabeth was ready to drop off into sleep, but Percy sounded wide awake.

“You know, that one Take me to church you know, The only heaven I’ll be sent to, is when I’m alone with-

“No singing until we get our hands on condoms,” Annabeth cut in, cuddling him closer. “I mean that.”

Percy chuckled and her world faded to black.

The slam of a door had her jolting awake in what felt like minutes later, she rolled over to look at her clock, which was resolutely showing her that she had to be up for work in five minutes. She groaned before looking over at Percy. There was a small drool stain on her pillowcase where his head must’ve been, but he was looking down at her.

“Do you have any circulation in your arm?”

“I’d rather hack it off then wake you up.”

“That’s really cheesey.”

“Yeah but it’s true.”

Annabeth sat up and smiled down at him, her mornings were going to be like this from now on. Waking up in Percy’s arms before striding off to work. She couldn’t believe that the previous morning she had refused to listen to his music as she got ready.

“You drool in your sleep.” She informed him, smiling widely as she did so.

“I do not!” He said sitting up, and she just pointed to the pillow.

“That was all you,” Percy denied and Annabeth just laughed.

“If it was me, It’d be all over your arm not the pillowcase.”

Percy’s response was to tackle her and pepper her face with kisses they rolled like a pair of idiots on the bed, calling each other childish names and giggling like a pair of idiots.

The alarm went off, and just like every morning, as soon as her alarm went off Piper flung open the door.

Annabeth froze, and looked up at her roommate, she’d ended up laying the wrong way on her bed, with Percy leaning over her. Instead of tugging up the blanket to cover her chest she tugged down Percy, who yelped in shock.

“Oh my gods-” Piper flung her arms up, “so sorry I’m just going to-”

She slammed the door shut, and Percy started chuckling into her hair.

“Oh my gods, I can’t believe that just happened,” Percy moved with her, sitting up as Annabeth fell over the edge of the bed. She grabbed the shirt that Percy had shoved into her dresser last night and pulled on her pajama pants. “Excuse me while I go-” she gestured towards the door and rushed out after Piper.

“Hey Piper” Piper said in a poor imitation of Annabeth’s voice, when Annabeth found her in the kitchen sitting on the table and drinking coffee, “Please don’t wake me up in the morning, I’ll be hanging out with a hot random stranger in my bed.”

“Oh shut up, I got distracted-” At the squawking laugh Piper made, Annabeth rushed on, “-besides, I thought you were going to go straight to classes from volunteering.”

“Yeah, well I didn’t. And now I’ve seen your boobs.” Piper lifted up her cup in a salute, “they’re very nice by the way, I’m sure random stranger in there-”

“My name’s Percy and her boobs are one of my new favorite things in the world, attached to my newest favorite person.” Percy stood in the doorway, wearing his jeans and his Camp Half shirt. “Sorry to interrupt but I’m actually going to be super late for breakfast with my mom if I don’t leave soon.”

“Breakfast with your mom?” Annabeth reached out for his hand, ignoring Piper mouthing ‘Percy Jackson?’ at her.

“Yeah, she’ll probably want to meet you at some point but maybe not today. I don’t want her to have a heart attack,” he kissed Annabeth’s temple, “I wrote my phone number on your mirror with an expo marker I found in your desk, I figured you wouldn’t want me to fuck up your lipstick. Will I see you at the show tonight?”

Annabeth just nodded and waved as Percy stepped away.

“Percy Jackson?” Piper started, but Percy walked back into the room and dipped Annabeth into a toe curling kiss, uprighting her again before leaving as quickly as he came in.

Annabeth waved again to Percy’s retreating back, conscious of his name scrawled across her arm in the same handwriting that was probably on her mirror. Her smile was a mix of bashful and smug as she turned to Piper.

“Oh Piper!” Piper had brought back the poor imitation of Annabeth’s voice, “there’s no way that I could find my soulmate by listening to his songs! No way at all!”

Annabeth decided it was best not to address that, and instead spun around to head back to her room.

“You know I’m not going to let this go right?” Piper shouted after her, Annabeth’s only response was to slam her door and blast I Play Dodgeballs with Cannibals to cover Piper’s laughter.

--------
“So we’re here with Demi again, why don’t you introduce yourselves?” Annabeth turned in her seat and fiddled with the dial, turning the volume as loud as she was allowed to have it.

“I’m Jason!” She could imagine Jason sitting in the booth in the dark purple shirt she saw him wearing when they grabbed breakfast early that morning.

“And I’m Percy.” Who was probably sitting in the booth messing with the microphone or his friendship bracelet.

“Nico, Hazel-”

“And Leo!”

“And Leo couldn’t be with us today. But I hear you guys had a big weekend.”

“Yeah! Jason and I got our bachelor’s degrees yesterday!” Annabeth smiled, and imagined Percy’s blank look as he intentionally messed with the annoying DJ.

“Yeah, I’m a certified storm chaser and this one is a certified whale expert.” Jason chuckled, going along with Percy.

“Rude, whale and other fish expert.” Percy cleared his throat. “Or did you mean us getting signed with a label-”

“This guy is sitting here with a woman’s name on his forearm-” the woman cut in, laughter at the edge of her voice, “- and he’s acting like it’s just another wednesday in the world.”

“Oh you mean this?”

“Listeners, Percy just showed off his forearm- what does that say?”

“It says-” She could tell Percy was about to say something snarky, so she waited for Jason to cut in.

“Annabeth- she’s an architect who lives a few blocks away from me.” As dependable as a metronome.

“We heard that you got your soulmate tattoo in the middle of a set, and just finished it like it wasn’t a big deal,” one of the djs phrased it as a question.

“Yeah, well she came because she’s good friends with Leo, and I guess Leo had told her what a big deal it was. So we made eye contact, and I could see my name sprout on her arm, but she made this sign like I should continue singing, and I’m glad she did- I would’ve totally blown it.”

“Was it hard to sing and wait to meet your soulmate?”

“It was so hard, you have no idea-” Annabeth snorted, remembering his boner confession from later in the night, “-but in the end it was worth it, and she loved every second of the show.”

“So are there soulmate songs on the horizon?” The annoying dj asked cheerfully.

“Um, I’ll probably write one or two, but honestly I have no idea how to put it into words. Everything seems to pale in comparison. What am I supposed to say? ‘We seem more soulmatey then most? I can’t believe you listened to my music and I sat in your garden-’”

“Not a euphemism” Jason cut in, sparking another wave of chuckles.

“Like I said before, my music revolves around my life, and Annabeth will be a big part of my life, but I’m still salty about corporate greed, and I still hate my childhood stepdad- I’m not going to spend the rest of my life penning cheesey songs to my soulmate, because frankly only my soulmate would want to hear them. Plus she really likes the songs about corporate greed.” Annabeth nodded, as if Percy could see her.

“Does she get an unironic friendship bracelet?” The DJ asked, and Annabeth looked down at her arm at the bracelet Jason had given her that morning.

“If Jason had his way, everyone would have unironic friendship bracelets. I think as soon as I told him that my soulmate was waiting for me he pulled out strings for her.” Annabeth loved that could hear when Percy was smiling.

“Well I waited until I got home first anyways.”

At the tail end of the laughter the DJ cut in, “Alright, stick around because after this song we’ll be asking Jason and Percy about storms and whales-”

“Finally!” Percy cut in.

“Here’s Demi with their newest song-”

Annabeth lowered the radio so she could still hear the song playing out of the speakers as she continued to work on her blueprints. The friendship bracelet tickling the edge of her tattoo.

Her cubicle buddy walked back to her chair.

“Oh hey! Demi’s on the radio again, I love them. I saw them friday night and apparently the lead singer had found his soulmate the night before. Apparently she loved his music and went to see him play, isn’t that romantic?” Her cubicle buddy spoke without turning around to look at Annabeth, who tugged her sweater further down her wrist over her tattoo. “Imagine! Falling in love with a voice on the radio!”

“Yeah,” Annabeth replied quietly, smiling as she continued her work, and only occasionally looking down at her phone where a photo of her and Percy was set as her background. “It sounds impossible.”