“Okay, Jackson, whaddaya got for me?” Piper asked, eyes sparkling. She enjoyed this tradition far too much, considering she didn’t even like nail polish in the first place.
“You’re gonna love this: Russian Navy. Get it?” Percy’s face was caught between that beaming grin of his that made him look like a 5 year old who thought he was going to be praised, and that stupid troublemaker smirk of his that only appeared when he was convinced he was going to win. Well, not today, he wasn’t.
“Ooh, nice try, but maybe next time. Teal the Cows Come Home. I totally win this round.” Her smirk was audible.
Percy gasped, then sulked, his whole body deflating. “You do not! Annabeth, tell her she doesn’t win!” He turned to look at his girlfriend, who was sharpening her dagger with his whetstone (which he’d given her full access to when the Stolls had stolen hers, in a failed attempt to get her to stop trying to stab them) and having a conversation with Jason. She glanced up at him and cocked an eyebrow. Her gaze flickered between them a couple of times, and then she snorted, which, for the record, should not have made his heart stutter the way it did. Annabeth’s mere existence tended to make his body react in strange and unexpected ways.
“I don’t know, Percy. I stopped paying attention to your riveting debates about nail polish puns about a month ago. You’re a big boy—you and Piper can decide this among yourselves.” Her eyes rolled mightily. He felt a little betrayed, and a little turned on. Dammit.
Piper smirked victoriously. “That totally means I win.”
“Does not, Aphrodite girl.”
“Ok, a) you are really bad at the insulting nicknames thing. And b) it definitely does mean I win, barnacle face.”
“No, that wasn’t a fair win. You definitely cheated—you got help from one of your siblings, or something.”
“I so did not, and even if I had, that wouldn’t be cheating, that would be using all the resources at my disposal, so suck it.”
Annabeth rolled her eyes, and exchanged a glance with Jason, who held up his sharpened sword meaningfully. She nodded, and they quickly grabbed their coats and hats, and snuck out of cabin three—not that Piper and Percy were in a state of mind to notice anyone outside of their own little bubble at the moment. “I take back what I said about him being a big boy,” she muttered, shaking her head. Jason chuckled.
“Come on, I think it’s good for them. Painfully annoying? Sure. But at least they’re not trying to talk to either of us about nail polish.”
He chuckled again. “Come on, Owl Brain. Let’s go see what damage that dagger of yours can do.”
She laughed right in his face. “My dagger can do a heck of a lot more damage than your sword."
“Oh yeah? Wanna test that theory?”
“You’re going to regret that.” She grinned, then started running to the arena. “Last one there has to walk Mrs. O’Leary.”
He gaped. “What, you—hey! No fair!” He shouted and sprinted after her.
They arrived back at cabin three a few hours later, having demolished several perfectly innocent training dummies, and having given each other quite a few bruises. Annabeth glowed with the satisfaction of having solidly kicked a good opponent’s ass, having been determined the victor of nearly all of their bouts.
Annabeth pushed open the door of cabin three and her eyebrows jumped. Jason, who stood behind her, looked entirely bemused.
Percy and Piper were curled up under a throw blanket, watching what appeared to be The Little Mermaid on the tv that Poseidon had given Percy for his 18th birthday. Piper was--and Annabeth had to blink and shake her head to make sure this wasn’t just some weird hallucination (being a half-blood, that was a very real possibility)—braiding Percy’s hair, which just proved her point that his hair was getting way too long and that he really ought to cut it, because who did he think he was? Samson?
They were drinking something out of mugs—probably the hot chocolate Percy had smuggled in when he and Annabeth had come up to Camp Half-Blood for winter break.
“Percy, your dad is kind of a jerk in this movie, no offense.”
“Piper, how many times do we need to go over this: Triton is nothing like Poseidon. Poseidon’s way cooler and more easygoing.”
“Yeah, you only say that because you’re his son. I bet if you were a daughter of Poseidon he’d be just as overprotective of you as he is of Ariel.”
“That is blatantly untrue, not least because Poseidon is not Triton. The only thing similar about them is the trident. That’s it.”
“Uh-huh. Sure thing, Ariel.”
Annabeth couldn’t help herself. What started as a suppressed snicker turned into giggles, which turned into full-body laughter. Percy whipped his head around, a lock of his hair slipping out of Piper’s hands half-braided, and he smiled sheepishly. “Oh, uh, hi, Annabeth. How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough, you goof.” She shook her head. Her boyfriend was such a dork. She walked over to where he and Piper were sitting and wriggled in next to him, on the edge of the bed, pushing him a little to make more room. He grinned at her and pulled her into his lap, which, okay, was pretty nice.
He tucked his chin over her shoulder, placed a light kiss on her clavicle. She pretty much forgot that Piper and Jason existed, let alone that they were in the room. “Sit and watch the movie with me.” He mumbled into her ear, raising goosebumps on the back of her neck.
She clasped his hands in hers, where they were resting on her stomach. “Fine, we’ll watch your silly Disney movie,” She tilted her head up to smirk at him, and her eyes glittered with amusement. “Ariel.”
She was never going to let him live that down.