The thing is, it’s her own damn fault for picking nosy, gay, extroverts to be her closest friends.
She’s really not sure what she was expecting to come of this.
Actually, she’s confused as to why her and her friends are even in the bar in the first place, being that it’s loud and crowded and the whole point was to spend the night together, not to get grabbed at by drunk men.
They’re not even dancing or drinking. Well, she’s not, at least. Thalia, Silena, and Clarisse make a valiant effort, but Annabeth knows they’re over it when they approach her where she’s wedged herself in the corner, steadily blowing up Piper’s phone with complaints.
“This sucks,” Clarisse sums up neatly.
Annabeth flicks her eyes up from her phone and thinks about saying, I told you so, when she notices the slightly devious look in Silena’s eyes.
“What?” she asks cautiously, as she watches Thalia and Silena exchange a sly grin. Silena looks to Clarisse for confirmation and then leans closer towards Annabeth, lowering her voice like she’s about to tell a secret.
“Come to Sapphire with us.”
Annabeth tries to feign ignorance but she can’t quite disguise how she blinks and swallows in nervousness, and she knows by the glimmer in Silena’s eyes that she hadn’t missed it.
“Sapphire?” Annabeth says. Her voice only squeaks a little , it’s hardly even worth noting.
Sapphire is the very popular, very gay club on the edge of their city. Annabeth knows that her friends are no strangers there, and although she’s had her fair share of teasing, they’ve never asked her to join them before. She feels strangely honored, like she’s been given the secret password for membership, or something. And a bit nervous, too, although she’s not sure why.
Thalia ushers them out onto the sidewalk and tries to flag down a taxi while Annabeth mulls it over.
“I don’t know, guys,” she says, rubbing her forehead anxiously. “Sapphire is so… Sapphire .”
Clarisse barks out a laugh and pounds her on the back. “Exactly! It’s an experience. You’ve been missing out, Beth.”
Annabeth gives her a dirty side-eye and steps out from under her arm. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Thalia turns over her shoulder to shoot Annabeth a flat, sarcastic look. “Oh, you know what it means.”
“Excuse me!” Annabeth squeaks.
“Haven’t you ever wondered why all your friends are gay?” Clarisse demands.
“Because I’m not an asshole?” Annabeth says, and then bristles. “And not all of my friends are gay. Piper’s not gay.”
Clarisse and Thalia lock eyes and then burst out laughing---loud, rowdy, bellowing laughter. Annabeth looks between them in surprise, while Silena grimaces as though in pain. Finally, Clarisse pounds her on the back, wiping tears from her eyes. “Good one, Beth. Didn’t know you had it in you.”
They’re still laughing while they climb into the taxi. Annabeth hovers out on the sidewalk for a few beats before following them inside somewhat reluctantly.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Annabeth grumbles, which only makes Clarisse and Thalia start laughing again.
Silena rolls her eyes at them and Annabeth feels a rush of companionship, but then quickly deflates when Silena says, “I mean, really though, Annabeth. Haven’t you ever… thought about it?”
“ Silena ,” she groans.
Silena holds her hands up in surrender. “I’m just saying. I mean, how many men have you ever actually connected with?”
“Excuse me?” she says again.
Clarisse laughs loudly and leans across her lap, holding up a big round zero with her fist. “That’s right, exactly none .”
“Oh, shut up,” she says weakly, wedging herself up closer to the window. It only succeeds in provoking another round of laughter.
Sapphire is slightly less intimidating than she’d been expecting. Silena whispers in her ear that that’s the reason why it’s so popular---more understated, less of a scene, hardly any men. The whole place is lit up with blues and purples and the music is tolerably, decently loud. She gets a few looks as she walks in, probably because she looks tense and awkward more than anything else.
She hovers behind her friends---that is, until Thalia recognizes the bartender, makes a squeaking noise, and hurries off to go flirt over the counter, and Silena and Clarisse tug each other away and wind up on the dance floor.
Annabeth stands in the same spot, glancing around at them in desperation and vague frustration. She can’t really muster much anger, though, because she knows her friends deserve a night to themselves. Anyway, Thalia’s been chasing that same girl for weeks now, and Silena and Clarisse are so lowkey that people don’t even realize they’re together most of the time, so she can hardly complain if they want a night to themselves. She can’t begrudge them for it, even if it leads her to slink off into an inconspicuous corner by herself. She reasons that at least she’s no worse off than she was before, and feels a bit better.
She finds a seat in the corner of the bar, far enough away from the action that she thinks she’ll be left alone. She’s decidedly unsuccessful, because no sooner has she sat down than a girl materializes out from the crowd on the dance floor.
She’s beautiful, in an intense, commanding sort of way. She’s not as tall as Annabeth but seems to make up for it in presence. She looks vaguely familiar, almost like she resembles someone that Annabeth knows.
She leans up against the bar, swinging her hips in a way that might be suggestive or just natural---Annabeth can’t tell---and setting a beer that she isn’t drinking down on the counter.
“You look uncomfortable,” she tells Annabeth, dark eyes glistening.
Annabeth swallows tightly and shrugs, hoping for nonchalance. “I’m just here for my friends.”
Something flickers across the girl’s expression---skepticism, maybe just a bit of disappointment---before she composes herself and her lips tug upward in a small smirk.
“I see,” she says smoothly, in a way that has Annabeth wondering how on earth she’s meant to interpret that. “Your friend is the one who’s been hitting on my sister, yeah?”
They both glance over their shoulders to wear Thalia is still leaning over the counter of the bar, elbows planted, and Hylla keeps ignoring customers to reply.
“Yes,” Annabeth says, turning back to the girl.
“Right, so, it’s Annabeth then, isn’t it?”
She nods and offers her hand. “Reyna, right?”
Reyna smiles in acknowledgement and reaches for her hand. Annabeth is hyperconscious that it’s a very chaste, unusual greeting in a place like Sapphire, but Reyna’s hand is warm and her handshake is firm and she decides it doesn’t matter.
“Well,” Reyna says. “You planning on sitting here all night?”
Annabeth shrugs again, easily, this time, and laughs softly. “I kind of was, yeah.”
The glimmer is back in Reyna’s eyes, except this time it looks a little more mischievous, a little more curious, in a way that makes Annabeth’s stomach pull down hard.
“You sure you can’t spare me some time for one dance?” she asks lowly.
Annabeth’s skin prickles cold with nerves. “Oh,” she says airily. But she glances back at Thalia at the counter, and Clarisse and Silena on the dancefloor, and thinks about the loud teasing and laughing she’d gone through earlier, and Piper scolding her for not loosening up more last week---and her chest tightens with resolve. She quickly downs the rest of her beer, looks Reyna firmly in the eye and says, “Sure, I’d like that.”
Reyna doesn’t seem to need any more encouragement apparently, because she smirks and takes Annabeth’s hand, leading her firmly behind her. They pass Silena and Clarisse on the way and Annabeth is certain that Silena is craning her neck to look, but she ignores it and keeps her head held high, fixed firmly on Reyna’s back.
Reyna’s not all that hard to watch, really. Her hair is long, dark, and shiny, especially when it catches the blues and purples of the club lights. She’s wearing a tight black dress that’s backless, too, apparently aware that her back muscles are somewhat mesmerizing.
Well. It’s possible that Annabeth is more in touch with her sexuality than her friends seem to think she is.
Reyna stops and turns over her shoulder to face Annabeth, looking ethereal and mysterious in the purple lighting. She tugs on Annabeth’s hand again, reeling her in and whispering low in her ear, “Do you care that they’re watching us?”
Annabeth pulls back enough to make out the playful glint in Reyna’s dark eyes and the edges of a smirk on her lips. She follows Reyna’s line of sight over her shoulder, to where Silena and Clarisse are both staring, not bothering to try and be subtle.
Annabeth opens her mouth, maybe to say yes , but then she thinks of all their jostling and teasing in the cab before, and feels galvanized, electrified .
She turns back to Reyna, meeting her gaze firmly and determinedly, even as she feels a flush creeping across her shoulders and up her neck. Annabeth shrugs loosely, feigning confident nonchalance, and says, “No, but if they’re going to watch, we might as well give them a show.”
Reyna’s eyes are nearly black, but Annabeth swears she sees her pupils blow wide anyway, her smirk growing downright dangerous. “I like the way you think, Annabeth,” she says lowly, and Annabeth notes that her name sounds very nice in that tone.
If Annabeth had known then what she was getting herself into, she doubts she would have been so cool and carefree about it, but all in all, she thinks it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made in her life.