Chapter 1: The News
Annabeth banged her head against the desk. She couldn't believe that Percy hadn't texted her back in ages. And that wasn't just premenstrual syndrome (PMS, for short) speaking (she could feel a period about to happen in a day or two). She stared at the last conversation between her and Percy. It had ended with her saying hello, and that was two days ago. She rubbed her forehead.
Annabeth kept rubbing her temple until she felt a sharp stabbing pain of a headache. Although, that could've been from banging her head against the desk at which she was sitting. She pulled up the last conversation between her and a son of Hecate she'd been talking to to alleviate her pain from not being able to talk to Percy for the last couple days.
Annabeth: Hey, how are you doing?
Annabeth tapped her foot against the floor for a while before she heard the ding of her phone go off. She did a little victory dance inside her head.
Liam: Pretty good. you?
Annabeth: I just wish my boyfriend would respond to me.
Annabeth waited for a few minutes before hearing her phone ding again.
Liam: That sucks, and I know that from experience. Do you need help with anything, then? I could come over and comfort you;)
Annabeth reeled in horror at what she read. Then, she reasoned with herself that Liam was a man who was willing to help comfort her in more ways than one while Percy was away. That would work out in many ways. Percy wouldn't have to know...
Annabeth: Yeah, sure. My house, eight o'clock tomorrow?
Liam: Ok. I'll be there
Annabeth jumped around her room gleefully. She was happy that her reasoning had worked. But what if Percy found out about her side affairs? What would she do then? How would Percy even react? She waved the questions aside with the statement that she'd find out if she ever got there.
You'll get there, Annabeth. You'll get there, and you'll regret it with every fiber of your being, a little voice inside her head warned her.
Annabeth just passed it off as nerves. She didn't know that it was actually a form of foresight telling her that she'd blow it.
Percy had almost finished packing his bags to go back to New Rome University to visit Annabeth for a month. He closed the lid to his suitcase and walked outside. He sniffed and smelled the pleasant air of his home, which he'd lived in for about a year now. He'd never felt as happy since he dropped out of college and moved here.
Percy caught the train to the station closest to the airport and tapped his finger against his leg. He walked to the airport and boarded the plane, praying to Zeus that he wouldn't strike the plane down. He sighed in relief when nothing went wrong, and they made it to Los Angeles safely.
Percy skipped down the street, finding the tunnel where the entrance of New Rome sat. He smiled at the guards guarding the gate as they recognized him from all the times he'd saved their sorry asses. He navigated the streets until he found New Rome University. He found the bungalow Annabeth was renting and paused at the front door when he heard... interesting sounds coming from inside.
Percy knocked on the front door, surprising the two people inside. He heard the sounds of scuffling around. A brown eye raised itself to the little peephole on the door and turned around. Shouting could be heard from inside. He distinctly made out the phrase "Oh, shit!" in Annabeth's voice.
"I know you're in there!" Percy called out.
Annabeth opened the door. She was dressed in her nightie, and Percy could see white fluid dripping down her legs from under the nightgown's skirt. She shot him a smile as she looked up at him.
"Hello, Percy!" she exclaimed, worry trying to mask itself in her voice.
"What did you do?" Percy asked, voice shaking in anger.
Annabeth blinked in confusion. "I'm afraid I don't know what you mean," she said blandly.
Percy made such an angry expression, Annabeth's fake smile and fake joy melded away into fear. She cowered in the corner.
"I know what you did," he growled. "You cheated on me! When I was going to give you a surprise! How could you?! You knew I was going to find out sooner or later, didn't you? So then why in the fuck would you do that?!"
His voice had steadily risen until it was a shout on the last question. Annabeth burst into tears, and Percy would've felt bad if he hadn't found out what she'd done.
"I just thought that you'd found another girl, so I wanted someone who would actually talk to me instead of ignoring me!" she sobbed.
"No. I know that's not the reason. You just wouldn't give me the benefit of the doubt, so you jumped to conclusions and cheated on me when I had a big surprise planned for you," Percy accused.
A boy with blonde hair and brown eyes stepped out from the shadows, dressed in a robe and fluffy pajama pants. He narrowed his eyes at Percy. "She's my girl, so back off," he warned.
"Well, we've been boyfriend and girlfriend since we were sixteen," Percy declared. He glared at Annabeth. "At least, we were."
Annabeth gulped, "What does that mean?"
"It means it's over. We're through, Annabeth."
Annabeth's eyes filled with tears again, which threatened to spill over into another sobbing fit. The boy came over and wrapped his arms around her. Percy was taken aback when she returned the hug and began crying into his chest.
"You should leave," said the boy.
"Alright, but first," Percy responded, "I've got something I need to give to her."
Percy pulled a jewelry box out of his pocket and threw it at Annabeth. He turned around and walked out of the house.
Annabeth held the jewelry box in her hands. Liam put his hand on her chin to turn her tear-streaked face to his.
"It's going to be okay. You didn't need him anyway," he promised.
"Is that really true? We've lived through so much together, and to have ejected him out of my life like that..." Annabeth began, her voice choking with tears. "Oh, gods, what have I done?"
Liam gathered her in his arms again. He took her to the slightly-stained couch from their earlier activities. He laid her down on the couch and resumed their activity to help her.
Percy stormed down the dark street. He chanced upon Reyna, who grabbed his arm when she noticed the bad mood he was in.
"You are angry. Tell me about that," she ordered.
Percy felt anger boiling in his chest again. "I found Annabeth cheating on me with some obscure demigod. I don't even know his name. I had plans to propose to her, but no, I guess I can't do that now, because she found a replacement for me already," he reported.
During his monologue, his hands had balled up into fists so tight, his relatively short fingernails were digging into his palms and on the verge of drawing blood. Percy looked at Reyna.
"Do you believe that?" he asked.
Reyna nodded. "I knew something had been... off about Annabeth Chase over the last few days. I had no idea she had an affair with someone other than you," she responded.
Percy gritted his teeth. "I guess at this point I might just have to leave already. I had been planning to stay for a while longer, but apparently, that upstart took away the person I'd come back to America for."
Reyna nodded again. It was almost as if she understood what he'd been going through, and he wasn't the first who'd come to her with relationship problems. Percy finally made the decision to ask her about it.
"By the way, how do you know how to respond so well to this?" he questioned.
"Many people have come to me with difficulties with everything in their lives, from relationship problems like yours to personal struggles like what Jason Grace did so many years ago," Reyna said.
Percy hummed in response.
That makes sense, he thought to himself.
"Well, it's been a pleasure talking to you, Reyna." Percy fidgeted and stuck out his hand for a handshake. "See you sometime?"
Reyna returned the handshake. "Pleasure talking to you as well, Percy Jackson."
They bade each other farewell and continued on their merry way.
Annabeth lay in her bed, Liam's arms wrapped around her waist. The memory of Percy breaking up with her was burned into her brain, and she couldn't get it out no matter what she tried. Not even what Liam and her would do to have fun would work.
Annabeth rubbed her forehead and went through her phone, the blue light blasting against her face. Liam groaned and rolled on his side.
"Honey, go to bed," he grumbled.
"Yeah, just a second," Annabeth responded.
She scrolled through her and Percy's old conversations. The goofball was always cracking jokes and making her smile. Annabeth wasn't sure she could say goodbye to that just yet. The clock on her smartphone said that it was two in the morning. That meant that Percy was probably asleep, or on a plane bound for Tokyo, where he lived now.
Annabeth rubbed her face and found a joke Percy had made.
Percy: What do u do with a sick chemist?
Annabeth: Idk, what DO you do with a sick chemist?
Percy: if u cant helium and u cant curium, then u might as well barium
Annabeth chuckled to herself at the old jokes Percy would make. She turned her phone off and set it on the nightstand by her bed, decidedly going to sleep on a good joke.
Percy got off the plane and took the train back to his stop, where his house was. He walked home, took his shoes off at the door, stumbled to his bedroom, and collapsed onto it, not bothering to change his clothes into something more suitable for sleeping. He eventually got lulled into a deep yet restless sleep.
Chapter 2: A New Friend
Annabeth regrets her life choices, and Percy makes a new friend while at a café.
In the first chapter, I accidentally (read: intentionally) made Reyna sound like Larry King with her line "Tell me about that". Oh well.
Percy awoke the next morning and checked the clock. Sunlight was already streaming through the window, so he knew right away that he'd overslept. He checked the digital alarm clock on his bedside table and nearly screamed when he saw the time.
The train that normally left at 8 o'clock to make to the closest stop to his workplace in the back alleys of Tokyo Percy worked at would be leaving in five minutes. He threw on his work uniform (which, thankfully, didn't take long to put on), filled a tumbler with two-day-old coffee, and ran out the door.
Annabeth yawned and stretched as she awoke. It was eight o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday, and her classes were all in the afternoon that day. She turned to Liam, who was still fast asleep.
Annabeth was suddenly struck with curiosity about what Percy had prepared for her in the jewelry box. She had a sneaking suspicion, but she had to be absolutely sure before she made assumptions.
Annabeth shuffled into the living room and picked up the jewelry box laying on the coffee table. She opened it, and her heart dropped into her slippers.
Inside was an engagement ring. It was gold and studded with diamonds and emeralds (white/grey for Athena and green for Poseidon, Annabeth realized).
Annabeth felt dizzy. She jumped when she heard Liam's voice from behind her.
"I told you that you didn't need him. Why did you go back?" he asked.
Annabeth ran into Liam's arms and said quietly, "I was curious as to what Percy had in the box. That's it."
Liam stroked her curly blonde hair. He planted kisses on the top of her head. Annabeth gave out a little yelp as Liam picked her up and wrapped her legs around his waist.
Percy's job was boring to say the least. He worked as a cook in an obscure butler café on one of the backstreets of Tokyo. He was currently slicing an apple to decorate a cake a coworker was baking for one of their most esteemed customers, a YouTuber by the name of Riodearest.
Percy placed the apple on a platter and slid it down to the baker. The rest of the workday went a similar route: cooking food for the customers (what else was he to do? That's his job). He continued on with his work, which was just as boring as every other day.
Annabeth tapped her fingers on her desk. She was beginning to worry that she had really messed up, and more than she thought. The Architectural Design teacher's voice was just white nose, droning on and on without any real meaning anymore. She put her head in her hands. She debated what she was going to do after she got home. Text Percy and apologize or just leave him be? After all, she didn't know if he even had her number at all; she wouldn't be surprised if he deleted her number from his contacts list.
Annabeth stared out the window. The stress of thinking about it too much was making her nauseous and headache-y. She groaned and rested here head on the desk. She stole a glance at the chalkboard. She didn't understand any of it; she hadn't been paying attention. She finally came to the decision that she would truly think it over at home after class.
Percy mopped the floor of the kitchen after the café had closed. He was lost in his thoughts and didn't notice the wall. He ran straight into it, and he cried out in surprise.
"Ah, my eye!" he exclaimed.
Another chef ran up to him and asked, "Are you alright?"
Percy looked up at him and nodded. He looked back at the wall he'd run into. The edge of a cabinet was on eye level. He pressed a finger to his eye; he found it swollen and painful to the touch. The co-worker grabbed his arm and took him to the staff bathroom.
The co-worker showed Percy his eye. He ran to get ice and put it in a Ziploc bag (it was the closest thing he could grab) and put it on Percy's eye.
"You should be more careful next time," the co-worker scolded.
Percy shrugged and grumbled, "I guess so."
After the co-worker left, Percy put down the makeshift ice pack and splashed water on his face. He watched his black eye heal itself within seconds. He waited until he could be sure that everyone had left before leaving the bathroom.
Percy took a step out of the bathroom, gathered his things from the backroom, and left for a 24-hour café that he could eat at.
Annabeth ran her fingers through her hair angrily. She stared at her Architectural Design homework the morning she was supposed to turn it in. She eyed her phone and turned over the decision in her head.
Just a little bit of Google searching wouldn't hurt, she thought.
The only justification she needed was that if she was able to have the balls to cheat on her boyfriend, cheating on her homework wouldn't be a problem. At least, it shouldn't be.
Annabeth picked up her phone and googled the answer to her remaining problems. She could only hope Professor Deciduous wouldn't give her a bad grade for cheating. She breathed in and laid her head down on the coffee table.
Annabeth muttered to herself, "I wonder..."
Deciding on acting upon her idea, she picked up the phone and dialed the number.
Yui Atsuko sat cross legged at the corner booth at the twenty-four-hour café, Guinaki's Café. She looked at the comic book panels she'd drawn in her sketchbook. She stretched her left wrist by swiveling it in a circle. She checked the time on her wristwatch and saw that it was almost nine o'clock at night.
Mom and Dad will be waiting for me, Yui thought despondently.
She looked up when she heard the overhead bell ring. A man with hair as black as the Marianas Trench and eyes as green as sea foam walked in. He plopped down on a bar stool and cradled his head in his hands.
Yui knew from experience that that man was suffering from depression. She was tempted to let the man be, but a nagging feeling told her to console him in whatever was going on in his life. She took a deep breath, tucked her notebook and drawing supplies away in her bag, and began taking steps towards the man.
"Are you alright?" Yui asked. "You look like you're about to cry."
The man looked up at her with big, sad puppy eyes. She shifted uncomfortably. He folded his arms on the table and put his head down in them. He sighed.
"It's a long story," the man muttered.
Yui chewed her lip, unfearful of messing up her perfected pastel pink lipstick. Her mind scrambled for a way out of this increasingly awkward situation. An idea struck her, and she pulled out a piece of small notebook paper.
"What's your name?" Yui inquired.
"Percy. Percy Jackson," the man responded.
Yui handed him the slip of paper. "Yui Atsuko. Call me and tell me that long story you told me about," she requested.
Percy took it from her hands with caution and uncertainty. He looked up at her with a confused look. It almost seemed to ask, "Why are you trusting me?".
Yui didn't know why she trusted him, especially since she wasn't a trusting person. It could be because he was so obviously down in the dumps. As she walked away, she couldn't help but feel bad about it. It was another instance in which she couldn't pinpoint the reason behind her emotions.
Yui put down her parasol when it began raining; she couldn't have the delicate material getting ruined. She walked to the apartment in which her parents lived.
Percy stared down at the slip of paper in his hands. He wrinkled his eyebrows as he questioned why someone would do something like that, especially when they'd never met before. He tucked it into his pocket and sat at the counter.
The bartender walked up to him and asked, "Is there anything you want?"
"I'm still looking at what you've got," Percy said.
The bartender grunted. "Make it quick," he ordered.
Percy looked at what the good Guinaki had for him. Various types of coffee, tea, and juices were on the menu written fancily on the chalkboard menu. Surprisingly, ice cream was on the list. He dug out his wallet and motioned to the bartender that he'd finished his order.
The bartender approached him. "What'll it be?" he inquired.
"A small bowl of vanilla ice cream and stress-relief tea, please," Percy requested.
The bartender rushed around, trying to get Percy his order as quickly as possible. Percy consumed his meal heartily, thinking about the girl named Yui Atsuko.
Chapter 3: Art and Coffee
Yui and Percy run into each other at the cafe at which they met the night before. Meanwhile, Annabeth struggles to cope with a broken thumb and being diagnosed with insomnia.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Annabeth sighed and rubbed her face. She looked down at the bad grade she'd gotten on her most recent piece of Architectural Design homework. She looked at the big red "F" and a note reading "See me after class" written underneath it. She had never gotten a grade less than an A+, and she most definitely never had to see the teacher after class. A few minutes were left ticking on the clock above the door. She was afraid that Percy had deleted her number when he didn't pick up, or at the very least he hadn't deleted her number but didn't pick up the call on purpose.
Annabeth didn't want to dwell on it for too long. Her breath hitched and panic rose in her chest when the bell rang, signalling the end of class. She summoned as much bravery as she had left and made her way to the teacher's desk in the front of the room.
"You wanted to talk to me?" she said.
Professor Deciduous looked up at her through his thick eyeglasses. He tapped his pen on the desk, which only made Annabeth more nervous than she already was.
"Can you tell me why in the world you would cheat on your homework? I expected more from my model student!" Professor Deciduous scolded.
Annabeth hung her head. "I can't tell you why. It's very, very personal, and I don't want to involve my professors in it," she explained meekly.
Professor Deciduous slammed his fist down on the desk. "That's not a very good explanation!" he cried. He took in a breath to calm himself. "I want to know what's going on with you. You've been zoning out and not paying attention for the past couple days, you're flunking your pop quizzes, and now cheating on your homework? What's going on with you?"
Annabeth's mind scrambled for a reasonable answer, other than "my boyfriend broke up with me when he was about to propose to me, and only because I cheated on him for the reason that I was lonely, and he moved to Japan". Professor Deciduous tapped his fingers on the desk menacingly. She sighed, finally coming upon an answer.
"My father died," Annabeth lied.
She immediately began beating herself up mentally for lying to her professor. How would he react if he found out? she mentally scolded. Your punishment would be far worse if you just told him the truth.
Another voice piped up from somewhere in her head, Yeah, but it was a pretty dumb reason to be failing Architectural Design, so why not just lie about it?
Annabeth agreed with the first voice. She couldn't believe that she was able to do something so despicable. Professor Deciduous wrapped her up in a hug, and she realized that she couldn't make it a believable story if she didn't break down into tears. She faked a sob and began fake-crying. She reciprocated Professor Deciduous's actions and gave him a hug. It was funny, because her professor was shorter than she was.
Annabeth's face turned red from the effort of fake-crying. She wiped her eyes and hiccuped. She waved goodbye to the professor and started off to her bungalow, where Liam was no doubt waiting for her.
Percy had flopped onto his blue couch after taking his shoes off by the door and changing into fluffy pajamas. He took a look at his phone to see if anyone called him. He had one missed call from Annabeth. He groaned and listened to the voicemail she'd left for him.
"Percy, I just wanted to say, I'm sorry. I know there's no amount of apologizing I can do to make it better, but please, accept my apology. I know that you were going to propose to me now, and I am forever grateful that you had it in your heart to think about marrying a slut like me. I don't know what I was thinking. I know there's nothing I can do to atone for my sins now, and that I am probably going to the Fields of Punishment for being such a terrible human being. I don't expect you to want to get back together, but I hope you will at least accept my apology," the voicemail recording of Annabeth's voice said.
Percy didn't bother texting or calling her back. She didn't deserve the satisfaction in knowing that he'd heard her voice again. He pulled out the slip of paper that Yui Atsuko girl gave him and created a contact for her.
He stretched and decided to head off to bed; he'd text Miss Atsuko in the morning. He collapsed onto his bed and drifted off into a restful sleep.
Annabeth wiped sweat from her brow. Her tired fingers held the nail in place. She'd been outside in the scorching California heat for a classroom assignment. She had to design a small home and then build the bare bones of it (i.e. inner walls, outer walls, rooms, et cetera).
Annabeth almost dropped the nail, so she scrambled to pick it up again. The action caused to ladder to tip precariously. She tried to grab the edge of the building project, but she failed and crashed to the ground. Even though she was wearing thick gloves to prevent injury, she heard a sickening snap when she landed on her thumb.
Professor Deciduous walked up to her and shook his head as he looked down at her. He pulled out his clipboard and marked something down that couldn't have been good.
"Go to the nurse," he ordered before sighing and walking away.
Annabeth scrambled to her feet and started off to the building the school nurse's office was in.
Percy awoke to his alarm clock blaring in his face at six in the morning. He rolled over and slammed the top of it, flicking the switch to turn it off. He rubbed his face and shambled out of bed. He put on a fresh pot of coffee, and he checked to see if anyone had tried to call or text him during the night.
Percy found that he had a new message from Miss Atsuko.
Miss Atsuko: When are you free for that long story you were going to share with me?
Percy was pleasantly surprised to find that it was only a minute before his alarm clock normally rang. He stretched out his long, nimble fingers and began typing his response.
Percy: I'm free on Sundays. It's my day off, you see
His phone dinged a minute later when he was fixing himself a cup of coffee (it had just finished brewing). Percy pulled up the conversation as he sipped on his strong black coffee.
Miss Atsuko: I'm free Sunday, too! The best time for me would be about eight o'clock in the morning. Would that work for you?
Percy: Yeah, that would work! I normally wake up at about six in the morning naturally now, anyway, so there'd be no problems with oversleeping.
Percy eagerly awaited Yui's response. It came, and his heart leaped into his chest.
Miss Atsuko: I don't sleep as much as other people. I go to a college close to where I live.
Percy: I dropped out of college. It was too stressful for me.
Miss Atsuko: I understand college isn't for everyone. I don't know how important college was in America, but it's pretty important here if you want a good job.
Percy: It was drilled into our heads that we wouldn't make anything of ourselves and we'd end up as a homeless person if we didn't have a college education. Well, I gotta get ready for work, so talk to you later?
Miss Atsuko: Talk to you later!
Percy put his phone up and went off to get his uniform on.
Annabeth fidgeted uncomfortably. She couldn't stand nurse's checkups in high school, let alone in college when there was a really long way to go to get there. The nurse was currently setting her finger in a brace to fix it.
"Alright, you'll have to excluded for the rest of the project. There's no use working with a broken finger," the nurse told her.
Annabeth nodded numbly. She knew that the fact she cheated on Percy started a domino effect of diminishing health. Now, it was finally taking its physical toll.
The nurse tapped her finger on the desk, consequently making Annabeth severely jealous the nurse could and she couldn't. She stood up and left the office without another word. She had her face covered in shame with her spare hoodie.
Unfortunately, there were people who could recognize who she was by hair alone, and one of those people was Liam, who walked up to her at a brisk pace.
"Honeybuns, are you okay?" he asked.
Annabeth jerked back and glared at him. "Why would you call me that?" she shrieked before taking off down the road.
Liam looked after her in confusion. He blamed it on her being irrational because of her moody girl problems, but he didn't care; he knew that she would come back to him. She always did, after all.
Percy happily tapped his foot to the song inside his head. He was washing dishes from a guest they'd had. She'd requested him specifically cook for her. That was strange in and of itself, because the only people that knew the cooks were close family and friends.
Percy shrugged it off and continued washing dishes at an alarmingly fast pace.
Annabeth held her face in her hands. She had thrown a blanket over the couch cushions to mask her messy activities with her (apparently) new boyfriend, Liam. She stared down at the melatonin sitting on the coffee table.
Annabeth rubbed her face. She couldn't believe she needed to take melatonin to sleep, let alone prescription-strength. Insomnia was the worst. Although, she could figure out why she had it.
Annabeth popped the top off the bottle and eased one out onto her hand. She put the pill in her mouth and washed it down with a gulp of water.
Yui went to the cafe with a spring in her step. She was hoping to meet Percy there, if he would even be there at all from his work. Nonetheless, she went to the cafe anyway.
Yui opened the door, the merry little bell ringing announcing her presence to the cashier. She walked up to the counter and requested a cup of strong black coffee. She picked out her table in the corner.
Yui dug out her sketchbook and began working on her comic (her personal comic, what she would consider her magnum opus) once more. She'd gotten much farther on it than last night, when she met Percy Jackson. She had to admit, he was really handsome.
Yui chewed on the end of her pencil. She heard the bell ringing. Her heart leaped into her chest when she saw that it was Percy. Her hand shot up and waved frantically in the air.
Percy strolled over, a happy expression written on his face. He took a look at her comic.
"Is that what you're going to college for?" he asked.
Yui nodded. "Yeah. I want it to be published someday," she responded.
Percy's smile grew wider. She could tell that it was genuine. It was a lopsided smile that spelled him out as a troublemaker. She loved that smile. She hoped it would never fade away.
"I'm an artist, too. Although, I don't do it professionally, I consider myself pretty good," Percy said.
Yui returned his smile. "Really? Show me, then. I've got an extra piece of paper somewhere around here..." she trailed off as she began digging around in her bag.
She produced a scrapped character design paper and handed her pencil to Percy.
"Please show me what you mean," she urged.
Percy put the pencil down on the blankside of the paper and began doodling a cute little character. The style was more than a little bit girly, but it was actually pretty good. Like really good. He applied techniques she wouldn't think someone who didn't draw professionally would use.
Percy put the pencil down and showed her his finished product. With a fluttery feeling in her stomach, Yui realized that it was a caricature of her. She put her hand to her chest and made a "g'aww" sound.
Percy shot her another troublemaker smile. "Thanks. I don't think I'm all that good. You're much better than I am," he praised.
"Thank you!" Yui thanked.
The cashier called out, "Yui Atsuko's strong black coffee!"
Whoa! I finally managed to finish something for once!