Annabeth Chase has been all over America. She has been to Rome. She has seen Olympus, the highest point in the world, and Tartarus, the lowest. She has seen communities come together in the face of tragedy and she has seen Percy Jackson when he’s asleep. Through all of that, though, Annabeth doesn’t think she’s seen anything as beautiful as this hotel lobby.
There’s something so majestic about the decor, and the way the ceilings curve, and the columns that artfully hold the building up. Walking inside, Annabeth gets a sense of grandeur from everything around her. One day, she wants to build a building like this. She wants to make something as permanent and valuable as this hotel lobby. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as it makes her feel like this room makes her feel.
This is a situation in which she would expect Percy to feel uncomfortable, but he’s just soaking up the hotel with an astutely interested gaze. Maybe he’s gained an interest in architecture from the long nights listening to her rumble on about her work while he waits patiently for her to finish it. Maybe he’s had an education from all the mornings that he had to push her papers aside in order to properly sit at their kitchen table and eat breakfast. Maybe he’s realized that hearing him talk about architecture is pretty much as good as dirty talk for Annabeth.
Actually, hopefully not. She doesn’t think she’d be able to handle Percy, architecture, and sex all at the same time. Maybe two grouped together in different variations, but certainly not all three.
While Annabeth could very happily stay in the hotel lobby for the rest of the vacation, she’s aware of the fact that Percy wants to get to their room and settle in. With that in mind, she follows him to the check in desk like a normal girlfriend instead of one that wants to make a tent in this room and get room service ordered to it. The receptionist looks up as they get closer, smiling politely at their approach. Annabeth eyes her posture wearily; her back is far too straight for any human being to be comfortable. Perhaps this hotel is a little grand for their tastes. After all, most of their evenings in are spent lying on the couch drinking beer and eating takeout. When Percy had suggested that the two of them take a vacation together, not even Annabeth had been thinking about one of this scope.
“Welcome,” the woman says genially. Percy clears his throat and leans against the counter. Annabeth takes a moment to watch his Adam’s apple bob up and down, as she tends to do at least three times a day. She has a thing for Adam’s apples, which Percy thinks is hilarious until she questions him as to why he thinks that breasts are sexy. Then they call it a stalemate.
“Reservation for Percy Jackson,” Percy says, and the woman’s fingers immediately move to the keyboard and begin typing furiously.
“You’re in room number 913,” she says, handing Percy and Annabeth a keycard each. “We hope you have a nice stay, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.”
Annabeth feels something in her stomach lurch, and her head snaps up from examining the keycard. Her face is turning slightly red beneath her blond hair, but Percy is grinning wildly.
“Oh, we’re not-” Annabeth starts to say, pointing between herself and her boyfriend, but Percy just grabs her hand and speaks over her.
“I’m sure we’ll have a marvelous time,” he says to the lady. “And you have a wonderful afternoon, now.”
Before Annabeth can say anything else, he pulls her away from the reception desk, leaving the receptionist looking after them, her expression utterly bemused. Percy tugs Annabeth away from the beautiful lobby, pulls her into the elevator, and kisses her deeply as soon as the doors are closed.
“What was that?” Annabeth gasps out when he pulls away, adjusting her shirt as Percy clears his throat and presses the button.
“Nothing,” he says cheerfully, and Annabeth allows him to dip down and kiss her again, his hands firmly on her hips, his knee pressed against the wall between her legs.
As he kisses her quite thoroughly, Annabeth notes that it’s the first time anyone has ever called her Mrs. Jackson. Furthermore, she likes it far more than she had thought she would.
Not that she’s been thinking about it.
She’s in the middle of a meeting when she gets the text. Normally, she wouldn’t even look at her phone while at an event so important, but something in her gut propels her to glance down at the device in her hand.
As it turns out, her gut is correct.
Annabeth stands up quickly, hand clutching onto her phone as if it’s a lifeline. Her chair gets shoved over when she rises, but she doesn’t give it another glance as she stares around the table with wild eyes.
“I… I have to go. I’m sorry, it’s an emergency, I have to… go.”
Everybody at the table sits in stunned silence as Annabeth gives them one final parting nod and then, in a stunning display of unprofessionalism, rushes out of the room. She doesn’t even stop to grab her purse from her office, just makes a break for the stairs and never looks back. Her feet thunder down the steps, not worrying about propriety, just glad that she isn’t wearing heels. The hospital isn’t that far, so she doesn’t even need to take a cab to get there. She just needs to run.
Her feet hit the pavement rapidly, his name thundering on the sidewalk with each step. Percy. Percy. Percy, Percy, Percy. The only thing that she can think about is reaching him- everything else is secondary. Later, she will look back upon this moment and blush at how idiotic she must have looked, dashing down the street in her work clothes, her curly hair fighting to escape from its confining bun. Right now, though, her boyfriend is all that matters.
The cool air conditioning hits her like a wall, disorienting her in its juxtaposition to the hot heat. Annabeth bends over, puts her hands on her knees, and lets herself breathe. When she’s finally caught her breath, she looks around, perplexed. She’s not really sure what to do. Upon seeing no familiar faces, she decides to approach the front desk. The woman there has the most unwelcoming face that Annabeth has ever seen, and she’s lived in New York for years.
“Hi,” Annabeth gasps out, locking her fingers on the desk and letting her knuckles turn white. “I’m looking for Percy Jackson?”
The woman looks up, seeming to be bored.
“Are you family?”
“Are you family?”
“I can’t let you in unless you are family. You know, a parent, a sibling, a spouse…” she says patronizingly.
“I know what family is,” Annabeth spits out. “And I am family. I’m his wife.”
“You are?” the woman says skeptically.
“Yes, I am.”
“You’re not wearing a ring,” she points out. Annabeth just stares at her, too overwhelmed to think. “Do you have any other proof?”
“Annabeth!” a voice calls from behind her, and Annabeth turns around to see Sally Jackson walking towards her. She looks stressed and exhausted, but she offers Annabeth a weak smile. “I’m glad that you got my message.”
“Me too,” Annabeth says warmly, reaching forward to hug Sally. “I’m so glad that you informed me that my husband is in the hospital.”
“What?” Sally says, shocked. She pulls back and sees Annabeth giving her a pointed stare. Promptly, the pieces fall into place. “Yes, your husband! Well. He’s doing just fine, so I’m sure this kind lady won’t mind if I bring you back to see him.”
The “kind lady” pulls out a pen.
“What name would you like me to put on the visitor’s pass, ma’am?”
“Annabeth Jackson,” Sally tells her, a proud note in her voice. The woman scribbles the name onto a sticker and hands it to Annabeth.
“Thank you,” Annabeth says as she hurriedly sticks it out her outfit, and then she lets Sally take her by the hand and pull her towards Percy’s room.
“You gave me quite a turn back there,” Sally laughs as they move through the hallways. “For a second, I thought that you and Percy had actually gotten married!”
“Haha,” Annabeth says, her voice strained. “Yes, sorry about that, Sally.”
“No problem,” Sally says, halting in her steps. She gives Annabeth a mischievous smile. “You know, I was momentarily happy about it.”
Annabeth’s face turns red again.
“I will certainly keep that in mind.”
“Do,” Sally implores. She points to a door. “He’s right through there.”
“Thank you!” Annabeth says before bolting to the door and throwing it open. “Percy!”
He’s lying in one of the several beds in the room, wearing a hospital gown and looking extremely pale.
“Hey, wise girl,” he says weakly.
She rushes to his bedside, throwing her arms around him.
“What did you do to yourself? You’re a Latin teacher, for the love of the Gods!”
One of his hands reaches up to stroke her back lightly.
“I’m fine,” he whispers, breath hot against her ear. “It’s going to be fine.”
Annabeth pulls back breathlessly, sitting down properly in the chair by Percy’s bed. Percy, for his part, just lies there, grinning stupidly at her until she leans forward to brush some of his hair away from his face.
“I love you,” she says softly. “You scared me, but I still love you.”
“I love you too,” Percy tells her, beaming. “And I don’t think … hey. What’s that on your chest?”
“What are you talking about?” Annabeth inquires, confused.
Her heart stumbles, skipping a beat.
“Oh. I had to lie a little bit to get in here to see you.”
A large smirk stretches across Percy’s face.
“So you told them that you’re my wife?”
“Well, it was that or stealing a nurse’s outfit and doing rounds until I found you.”
“Either way works for me,” Percy grins cockily. Annabeth hits him on the arm. “Ouch! Mrs. Jackson, you are not supposed to be hitting your husband.”
“Mr. Jackson, you’re not supposed to be making perverted moves on your wife!” He raises his eyebrows at her. “While you’re sick,” Annabeth amends.
“Okay,” Percy says, yawning hugely. “When I get better, we’re going to have to look into that nurse’s costume thing.”
“In your dreams,” Annabeth snorts.
“Exactly,” Percy replies, letting his eyes slip closed so that he can properly fall asleep.
The school hallway is buzzing with children, all milling around and going about their days. Their chatter fills up the halls of the school, giving it a generally hectic atmosphere. To Annabeth, the chaos has the overall feeling of being back at Camp Halfblood. As she walks through the hall, she is irresistibly taken back to a time when she was thirteen years old and kids these age were her camp mates, bringing her joy and warmth and safety.
Annabeth passes through the hallway as inconspicuously as she possibly can, trying to blend into an environment which she was once so familiar with. It’s more difficult than one would assume. She’s ten years older than most of these kids. She doesn’t exactly fit in anymore. Upon reaching Percy’s classroom, Annabeth opens the door and ducks inside. The desks are lined up neatly in rows, posters of Rome and Greece line the walls, and three of Percy’s middle schoolers are sitting next to each other, all working feverishly on something.
Percy is seated at his desk, presumably grading a paper. Annabeth has seen him in a crisp white button down and dark green tie many times before, but she’s never seen it in a classroom, and somehow it’s sexier when there’s a blackboard behind him. He looks up when Annabeth is standing in front of his desk, confused, but smiling all the same.
“Hi,” he says, instinctively standing up to kiss her. At the last minute, he remembers where he is and turns it into an awkward hug. Even though he’s leaning over his desk, he’s still tall enough to wrap his arms around her and sniff her hair. “What are you doing here?”
“You forgot both your briefcase and your lunch. I thought I would drop them off before I went to work.”
“How thoughtful of you,” Percy says genuinely. “And you get to see my classroom!”
“It’s really great, Percy,” Annabeth tells him tenderly. “I love all the posters.”
Percy turns around the single picture frame on his desk and Annabeth leans down to see a picture of the two of them in Greece together, beaming and waving to Grover, who had been taking the picture.
“They remind me of where I’ve been,” Percy admits, gesturing to the posters hung up on the walls of the classroom.
Annabeth’s smile becomes a little strained, and it seems to register in Percy’s eyes that he’s only just remembered that she doesn’t really want to think about the past. It’s not that she wants to forget, but she doesn’t like remembering it either. At some point, they’re going to have to recall how terribly broken they both have been, but right now, it’s good. Right now they’ve both got steady jobs and steady lives and- most importantly- a steady relationship. There’s no more lying or chasing or hiding or seeking.
It’s just them.
As a young girl, she had never really thought about this kind of life. Her universe had been filled to the brim with endless magic and adventure and heroics, and that was the way that Annabeth had wanted it. But somewhere along the way (after she met Percy and before the prophesy had been fulfilled) she had become sick of all of it. She had passionately wanted it to end because there was only so much that a girl could take. But her worst fear was that the adventures ending would mean the end of everything. There was only one way for all of it to stop, and to Annabeth, that had seemed like death. Either her death or Percy’s death. In her mind, it didn’t really seem like there could be any other way.
Sometimes, she wakes up in the morning curled up against his warm body and she has to blink at least six times before she can fully register where she is. She has to look around their apartment and see the way it has been decorated- completely to her tastes with extra bits of Percy here and there. She has to get out of bed, reach down to the floor to button on one of Percy’s work shirts, and then tip toe into the den to look at the desk and see the designs that she was working on the night before lying next to the papers he had been grading before they had gotten distracted by each other and gone to bed. And then, feeling joy fill her up, she jumps back into bed with her boyfriend and traces his grown up, adult face with her fingers and feels the stubble and the jaw line and the Adams apple and it hits her like a freight train that this is her life now.
Percy is a teacher, she is an architect. They both do what they love. Their life is boring. They come home to each other after work, they go to dinner with their friends, they stay home at night and make fun of romantic comedies and bad reality television. Considering the fact that they’re both still breathing, Annabeth would call all the rest of these things icing on the cake.
She never knew how badly she wanted this kind of life until she had stumbled into it. Now, she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Annabeth turns her head to see a small girl standing behind her. She must be a sixth grader, because that’s the youngest grade that Percy teaches, but the girl seems to be oddly tiny.
“Yes, Jen?” Percy says kindly.
Gods, he’s so good with the kids, Annabeth thinks, her mind churning.
“Who’s this, Mr. Jackson?”
“Oh, this is Mrs. Jackson,” Percy says confidently. Annabeth’s eyes widen, and so do Percy’s as he realizes what he had just said.
“I mean… um… well, the future Mrs. Jackson,” he stutters, and Annabeth raises her eyebrows, amused now. “I mean, if she’ll have me. ANNABETH! This is Annabeth.”
There’s a long pause.
“Interesting,” the girl replies carefully.
“Mr. Jackson and I met when we were your age,” Annabeth informs Jen.
Percy’s body seems to be frozen.
“Annabeth is pretty,” Jen whispers to Percy, shooting Annabeth a small smile. The returning smile that Annabeth gives the small girl seems to wake Percy up.
“Yeah, she is,” he agrees quietly.
Jen walks away to tell her friends about her newly discovered information, and Annabeth focuses her attention back on Percy. He avoids her eyes, cheeks flaming red.
“Are you okay?” Annabeth asks carefully.
“I’m fine,” Percy mutters, choosing to pay attention to his fingers drumming against his desk instead of the woman that is standing before him. “Um. Yeah.”
“Well, I have to go to work,” Annabeth says. “Have a good day, seaweed brain.”
“Mhmm,” Percy replies absently.
She starts to walk to the classroom door, then spins around to look at Percy again. He’s still gazing at his fingers, horrified.
“And by the way… she’ll have you.
For Annabeth, it takes a while for it to sink in. For a minimal stretch of time, it doesn’t register, and it’s more like she’s floating around in a fog. She’s never been the kind of woman to live with her head in the clouds, but there’s something so surreal about all of this that she can’t really latch onto it like she would any regular moment.
It doesn’t snap into place when the minister announces them husband and wife.
It doesn’t snap into place when the front man of the band shouts into his microphone “and now presenting for the very first time Mr. and Mrs. Percy Jackson!”
It doesn’t snap into place when Grover is hugging both of them and Sally is in tears and Chiron starts to get out of his wheelchair to embrace them but he can’t because there are humans at the wedding. It doesn’t even register when Clarisse slaps Annabeth on the back and makes her temporarily fear for the wellbeing of her white dress.
When they’re on the dance floor, spinning around in endless circles, he whispers it into her ear as many times as he can, and she whispers it back. But it still doesn’t really click. Really, all she wants to do is talk to him. They haven’t seen each other all day, after all, and that’s the most time they’ve been apart since a trip she took to her father’s when she was twenty-two. After that point, he just came with her whenever she visited her dad. There had been no need for them to separate.
She’s pressed up against his tuxedo, and his hand is smoothly stroking the back of the soft fabric of her wedding dress, and none of it clicks yet because when you’ve wanted something for so long, it doesn’t make sense that one minute it isn’t true and one minute it is.
Three hours ago, she wasn’t married. Now she is. She feels like a different person, somehow, which is strange because they’ve been together for so long and nothing has really changed. Nothing except her name. Yet all she has to do is say a few words and put on a pretty dress and everything is just irrevocably different.
When she finally realizes that she is married to Percy Jackson, Annabeth isn’t even wearing the dress. She’s pressed against the soft mattress of the Honeymoon suit, and Percy is hovering above her and leaving hot trails of kisses all over her body. She’s needed this since he pulled the garter off with his teeth, so it’s no surprise that she’s practically dizzy with desire as he moves over her. He stops kissing her skin in order to meet her gaze, and his eyes are twinkling with happiness, bright with life. He flashes her a grin, kisses her on the lips, and murmurs,
“Hi there, Mrs. Jackson.”
And then she knows.