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kiss and tell

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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.

Chapter Text

Annabeth wakes up to seventeen missed calls, five voicemails, and fifty-eight texts.

Most of them are from the groupchat with Thalia, Clarisse, and Silena (it’s called “the pussycat dolls” this morning, with a tongue emoji and a cat emoji. Silena keeps changing it back to “Silena’s Angels” but Clarisse is stubborn and thinks she’s way funnier than she actually is). Annabeth doesn’t bother responding to any of them once she realizes that the most recent text is just a string of emojis from Clarisse: three tongues, a scissor, and a smirk.

She snorts and puts her phone back where she’d found it...in her pocket, in a crumpled heap of her clothes on the floor next to the bed.

The realness of the situation hits Annabeth like a freight train, and alone in the bedroom, she suddenly claps her hands over her face, muffling a rather undignified squeak that slips out before she can stop it.

She does a quick sweep of the bedroom, blushing up to the tips of her ears when she dimly notes the trail of clothes strewn from the doorway to the side of the bed.

Well, Annabeth’s clothes are strewn from the doorway to the side of the bed. Reyna’s black dress is draped over the back of a chair in the corner of the room. Annabeth remembers how she’d pulled it off the night before, holding eye contact with Annabeth the whole time as she slowly slid the fabric down her body and stepped out of it, toward Annabeth---she bites her lip and squeezes her eyes shut, feeling herself shudder involuntarily.

Speaking of Reyna---Annabeth attunes herself to the sound of the shower running in the bathroom adjacent to Reyna’s bedroom, and lets herself take a deep breath, thankful to have these few moments to herself.

It’s not, strictly speaking, the first time this has happened. But it’s definitely the first time it had happened completely sober, totally off campus, and to the knowledge of not one, but all of her friends. She presses her hands to her face, feeling heat burn under her palms, and groans to herself.

She considers, briefly, just burrowing back under the covers and putting off her problems, at least until she gets a little more sleep (which provokes another round of fierce blushing when she realizes just how little sleep she’d gotten), but she has a class at 11:40 that she should probably count on making. And, well. Reyna’s shower isn’t going to last forever, and while Annabeth doesn’t necessarily want to run out, she would at least like to be...ready to walk out the door.

It’s just a bit awkward , is all. Annabeth has never done well with awkward. She likes being in control of the situation, looking like she knows what she’s doing. That’s all well and good when it’s dark and late, because as intimidating as it can be, sex has some kind of formula, a pattern, a natural progression, and it’s easy enough to memorize it, even if every partner is different: the same body parts are more or less involved, the same reactions more or less mean yes that’s good and no that’s bad , and generally speaking it has a distinct ending.

The morning after is not like that, at all. There’s no method and there’s certainly no formula, and it involves conversation, which can be a fumbling mess at the best of times, not to mention after a night where you’ve exchanged bodily fluids but not last names. Annabeth really finds the whole thing too much of a danger zone for painful awkwardness, so she usually tries to avoid it as much as possible.

And this is not usually a problem, as the feeling is usually mutual. The guys she’s been with were never looking for anything more than sex, and Annabeth had always made it clear before the act that she really wasn’t, either. She’s been with a couple girls (because as much as Clarisse is annoying and Annabeth will deny it, all her friends sort of are gay, or at least don’t seem to think that hooking up with other girls is something particularly groundbreaking), but it’s always been far more casual and far less... involved than anything that had happened last night.

She wonders if there’s an etiquette to this sort of thing. A lesbian etiquette. Come to think of it, she’s actually fairly certain that Silena had explained it to her once, and wishes desperately that she’d been paying more attention. She thinks about calling her, but then decides she doesn’t need to add any more humiliation into her already quite large predicament.

That’s when the shower clicks off, and Annabeth flies almost robotically into a flurry of action, snatching her clothes up and pulling them a bit wildly. Then she pauses, standing alone in the bedroom, fully dressed but clothes incurably rumpled and hair hopelessly messy. She also needs a shower, but there’s no chance in hell she’ll take one here, so walk of shame it’ll just have to be.

She uses the last few moments of solitude to call an Uber. Takes a deep breath. Glances at the rumpled bed sheets guiltily, and wonders if she should make it, then wonders if that’s too intimate, then wonders if there’s actually anything more intimate than sex.

Even with all the time to mentally prepare, she still jumps when the bathroom door opens and probably manages to look like a deer in the headlights. She scolds herself and intentionally rolls her shoulders back, trying to smile amicably, but it gets lost somewhere in her chest when Reyna steps out of the bathroom.

See, the thing is---Annabeth doesn’t regret it. Any of it. As much as she avoids awkwardness like the plague and really thinks too much for her own good, she really, really doesn’t regret it, and she’s reminded of this with the mental equivalent of getting hit by a truck, because god . Reyna steps out with a cloud of steam billowing out behind her, like some kind of fucking goddess, or something. Even while she’s towel drying her hair over one shoulder and barefoot, she looks incredible, and something almost painful twists inside Annabeth for reasons she couldn’t possibly articulate in words.

Her smile is bright and warm, although Annabeth thinks she might look a little shy, too, and the subtle display of vulnerability sets her skin buzzing with warmth.

This is not how one-night stands are supposed to go.

“Hey,” she says softly.

“Hi,” Annabeth says, but she could never hope to replicate Reyna’s sultry and casual tone, so it comes out much closer to a squeak.

“You can totally use the bathroom, if you need,” Reyna says, stepping out of the bathroom. The steam has faded and she looks a lot less ethereal, but Annabeth still thinks she looks better in jeans and a white button down than anyone really has any right to. “I’m sure I have a spare toothbrush around here somewhere.”

She’s well aware she looks like a mess, and the offer is tempting, it really is, and for awhile she considers it seriously, but eventually concludes that it’s really a recipe for disaster. Such as forgetting why she needs to run out of here in the first place.

“Thank you,” she says, and means it, “but I actually have a class today that I can probably still make, so I’m just gonna try and scramble back to campus.”

“Oh, of course,” Reyna says graciously.

“I mean, just ‘cause, I’ll have to grab a change of clothes anyway, so why do two bathroom trips,” she says, feeling the need to explain why she doesn’t want to brush her teeth before a day of classes, but then thinks belatedly that it probably sounds stupider when she explains it, and then wishes she could facepalm.

Fortunately, Reyna laughs, like Annabeth is charming, or something, instead of a floundering mess with little to no experience at handling one night stands. Reyna probably has experience with this. Reyna is probably a regular at Sapphire, who expertly picks up girls with her pumps and silky black mini dresses and brings them back to her apartment. Reyna is far too good at this and Annabeth is far too not good at this, and she’s very thankful she had the sense to call the Uber before they started this conversation.

“Sure, whatever’s easiest for you,” Reyna says indulgently. Friendly. Suave. Composed. It’s not fair . “You have a ride?”

“Yeah,” Annabeth says, latching onto the change of subject a little desperately. “Yeah, should be here any minute.”

She’s lying. She has no idea how many minutes. But surely waiting on the sidewalk is better than hovering by Reyna’s door awkwardly.

“Oh,” Reyna says impassively. “Well, just give me a second, I’ll show you out.”

Annabeth nods while Reyna hangs up her towel, biting her lip when she sees Reyna give a final toss to her damp hair, liking how long it is, and how it’s slightly curly when wet, as opposed to how sleek and straight it had been last night. And then she bites her lip a little harder when she remembers how it had felt between her fingers, and if it would feel as nice when it was wet.

Definitely time to leave, then.

She follows Reyna, feeling strangely detached from her body, until Reyna pauses with her hand on the doorknob and looks Annabeth right in the eye. Her eyes are dark brown, black, really, and they glitter fascinatingly. So deep she could probably stare at them forever, which is such a hopelessly romantic thought that Annabeth cringes away from it the instant it enters her head.

“I had a really nice time,” Reyna says, lowly, and Annabeth really doesn’t understand how she manages to make her voice sound so smooth . It makes her blush, more than anything they’d done last night had. Maybe it’s something about the brightness of the sunshine---everything seems so much more real, so much more tangible in the daytime.

“Me too,” Annabeth says through a very dry throat, anchored in place only by Reyna’s dark eyes. The gaze is weighted, and she gets the distinct feeling that something is being communicated beyond just a verbal conversation.

(She hopes so, anyway.)

Reyna’s eyes roam over her face slowly, and it feels far more explicit than it really should. Her smile starts slow and stays small and close-lipped, but Annabeth can tell it’s genuine, and feels an answering smile on her own face.

“I’m glad,” Reyna answers, barely above a whisper. It’s devilishly sexy for absolutely no reason at all, and Annabeth feels her cheeks flush.

Reyna opens the door for Annabeth and leans her hips against it, which only makes her turn redder. She remembers thinking last night that Reyna seemed so effortlessly sexy that it was impossible to tell if she was doing it on purpose, or if she was even aware of it, but Annabeth supposes it doesn’t really matter, because she’s a sucker either way.

It seems strange to just leave without any sort of closure, even if most of Annabeth’s mind is screaming that one night stands don’t need closure, because that’s what makes them one night stands. But another part of her is also possibly aware that this has already gone way beyond that, even if nothing substantial has actually happened.

“I’ll see you around?” she says, hoping not to sound too presumptuous, but Reyna’s smile grows a little warmer around the edges and Annabeth suspects it was a good move after all.

“Here,” she says, outstretching her hand. “I’ll give you my number.”

Annabeth hands Reyna her phone, the surrealism of the situation being the only thing keeping her from shaking apart at the seams.

“Text me when you get home,” Reyna says, handing it back to her. “Just so I know you got back okay. I mean, I know it’s daytime and all, but.” She shrugs.

“Yeah,” Annabeth says weakly, then swallows hard. “Yeah, okay. I will.”

“Okay then,” Reyna says in her impossibly smooth voice.

Annabeth gets the distinct feeling that those two words mean a lot more than they actually say---but before she can figure out how much thought to put into what might be there, she bids her goodbyes and heads back to her apartment.

-

Piper and Annabeth moved off campus before junior year. Annabeth has known her since freshman year, and really couldn’t imagine moving in with anyone else. Piper’s easy to get along with, great about inhabiting her own space, and fun to have around. They’ve always meshed well, and of course, it helps that Piper’s dad is rich enough to cover the difference when they’re struggling to make ends meet. (They’d both resisted the money at first, but after their heat got shut off last winter, they’ve graciously accepted the extra hand.)

It’s been a lot easier having a roommate than Annabeth ever expected it to be. She can be moody, and difficult, and she needs a fair bit of alone time to be a functional human being. She’d been worried that living together might strain their relationship, but it’s been surprisingly stress-free.

The only downside is that it’s a lot harder to keep secrets, and even that’s not much of a downside. Piper’s got a sixth sense for all Annabeth’s personal drama to begin with, and while she’s good at respecting space and privacy, it’s essentially pointless to make any real effort to keep things secret from Piper when they both know Annabeth will eventually end up spilling.

So Annabeth really isn’t surprised to find that Piper’s poised conveniently by the door to their apartment, looking casual as ever but not half as innocently minding her own business as she’s pretending to be.

Piper’s eyes rake over her almost greedily as soon as she’s stepped inside, although it’s possible that Annabeth is just self conscious. She grumbles a greeting and starts muttering something about needing a shower when Piper raises her eyebrows knowingly and says, “Oh, who’s the lucky boy, then?”

Annabeth glares at her weakly and tries to push past her to the bathroom, but Piper suddenly pulls her head back in surprise.

“Oh my god,” she squeals. “Annabeth Chase!”

“What?” she mutters defensively, rapidly feeling more and more like she wants to slink away and never be seen again.

“I smell perfume! And that’s---those are makeup smudges!” Piper shrieks.

Annabeth sighs and rubs at her face self consciously. “Of course my makeup is smudged, I’ve been out all night.”

“Oh, no no no,” Piper says, wagging her finger back and forth tauntingly. “That’s someone else’s makeup!”

Annabeth stiffens. “How do you know that?”

For a moment, Piper freezes up, her eyes opening wide. It's possibly the most peculiar expression Annabeth has ever seen her make---something between excitement, shock, and something a little more guarded, a little harder to place. It fades quickly, though, leaving Annabeth wondering if she'd imagined it, and then Piper claps a hand over her mouth and screeches . “Who was it, who was it?” she demands, hitting Annabeth on the arm while she shoves past her and starts running the shower.

“Shut up!” Annabeth says back, half-heartedly. “I don’t even know, okay?”

Piper shrieks. “A one night stand! With a girl ? Annabeth Chase!”

It's something about the wording that gets her back up, probably. Annabeth's always been a private person, but this especially feels...new, even if it's not that new, and she's just not exactly ready to have it shouted to the heavens like this. Almost on autopilot, she whips her head around and says, “Shut up !” a little more forcefully.

Piper sobers quickly and casts her eyes down to her feet, and Annabeth feels kind of bad, because it's not like that. But before she can clarify, Piper backs off, almost visibly. “Okay. Got it. Okay, I’m cool,” she says, and steps out of Annabeth's space.

“Okay, good.” Annabeth says, nodding. “Thank you. Can I please take a shower now?”

Piper nods and exits their bathroom, and Annabeth sighs in relief, pressing her hands to her temples and trying to find some semblance of rationality.