Annabeth Chase was very good at holding her alcohol.
In all honesty it was mostly because she didn’t drink that much to begin with. Being drunk had never been all that appealing to her— years of being on edge for the next fight made it difficult for her to intentionally dull her senses, and she never liked how foggy it made her brain either. Living in New Rome for the past few years hadn’t completely squashed those instincts, despite its top of the line anti-monster security.
But still. Annabeth could keep it together pretty well, when she chose to indulge. She’d gone to a few wild parties earlier in college, mostly at Piper’s behest, and she didn’t mind having a few glasses of wine every once in a while.
Girl’s Night was every once in a while. Every first Friday of the month, if you wanted to be exact about it. In all honesty the practice was probably a bit dumb and middle aged for a bunch of people (and, okay, ‘a bunch of people’ was generous- it was really only Piper, Annabeth and Hazel) in their early twenties, but Annabeth didn’t care. It was hard to keep up with people these days, and Annabeth appreciated the emphasis on female camaraderie and friendship.
Plus, Piper had really stellar taste in wine.
Tonight’s had been especially good, and after a long and stupidly stressful week at school (Annabeth wished she could emulate Percy’s senioritis, but unfortunately the Architecture program only got harder as it went on, not easier) Annabeth found herself a little extra appreciative of the relaxing effects of alcohol.
It seemed like all of them had had a tough week, because they were all buzzed pretty fast. Piper was even happy to deliver the latest Hollywood gossip, courtesy of her dad, and Hazel was telling them a story about a probie getting stuck in the unicorn stables that made Annabeth laugh so hard she was practically sobbing. Piper and Hazel were not much better; Piper had completely fallen off the couch from cracking up so hard, and Hazel could barely get a word in edgewise before she completely dissolved into giggles again.
It was then that Annabeth caught a glance of the two completely empty bottles of wine in front of them, and realized that all of them— though mostly she, specifically— had made a grave mistake. She had no idea how many times her own glass had been filled and then subsequently emptied, but it was enough that she was well past tipsy and solidly in drunk territory.
It was hard to care about the bad parts of being drunk when you were currently drunk, Annabeth was finding. Everything was just so much funnier.
Apparently Jason had also sensed that mistakes had been made, or maybe he just had heard the deranged cackling coming from the living room, and wanted to make sure they were all still alive.
“Are you guys alright?” he asked, sticking his head through the doorway.
“I’m fantastic. I mean, I don’t know about you two, but I am—” Piper paused, letting out a small hiccup, “Feeling awesome.”
“I feel great,” Hazel agreed, barely able to stop laughing long enough to let the words out.
Annabeth wasn’t sure she remembered how to form coherent words anymore, so she just gave a thumbs up.
“You guys are really drunk,” Jason said, voice an impressive mix of concern and amusement. He walked into the room, picking up one of the empty bottles of wine they’d left on the table and examining the label.
“That’s my man. Very smart,” Piper said, apparently completely seriously, leaning against Jason’s leg.
“Pipes, you realize this wine is like, 20%, right?” Jason asked, ignoring her declaration of his intelligence.
Piper frowned. The expression seemed very exaggerated, or maybe Annabeth’s head was just messing with her. It was very funny either way, and she had to stifle a laugh.
“Shut up Annabeth. Let me see that,” Piper said, holding her hand up for the bottle. Jason very wisely did not let Piper hold the bottle herself, instead holding it at eye level in front of her. She gripped the bottom of it, pulling it towards her and squinting at the label.
“Nevermind. I can’t read anymore,” Piper said, relinquishing her grip on the bottle. That sent Hazel and Annabeth into another fit of laughter. They would probably be drunk even if the wine wasn’t that strong, but it certainly explained why Annabeth felt like she was floating right now. She hadn’t been this wasted since at least freshman year, maybe ever. Everything was a little blurry at the edges, and she was dizzy in a kind of delightful way. She let out one last giggle.
“And that means we are officially at the me-calling-your-boyfriends time of the night,” Jason said, setting the bottle back down on the table. Piper groaned.
“Party pooper,” she grumbled, though she didn’t move herself off his legs.
“Sorry babe,” he said, apologetically, “You guys are welcome to crash here, obviously. I’ll just call Frank and Percy to let them know.”
“S’fine,” Hazel said, yawning and pulling out her phone, “I’ve been texting him. I’ll just tell him now.”
“That’s against the spirit of Girls Night.” Piper said, pointing an accusing finger at Hazel, “You’re a cheater.”
“I had to tell him about your dad’s friend secretly dating his co-star! She was in his favorite movie!” Hazel protested.
Annabeth had not texted Percy tonight, in part because, as Piper had said, it was against the spirit of Girl’s Night, but also because he was probably asleep. Usually he’d stay up and wait for her to get home, even though New Rome was probably the safest city on the face of the planet, and the chances of anything happening to Annabeth on the six block walk between their respective apartments was ludicrously slim. But he’d been practically dead on his feet when she left, and had agreed pretty easily to turn in early when she suggested it.
She immediately felt bad about the prospect of waking him up. She knew she should though— he’d much rather be woken up in the middle of the night than wake up in the morning with her not there. Even though it would take about three seconds to check his phone and realize everything was fine, old habits die hard and it would unnecessarily stress him out. Especially since it was the one night he’d agreed not to stay up and wait for her.
So waking him up was inevitable. Worse, she was starting to realize that she really wanted to be home with him. As comfortable as Piper’s floor was (and given how drunk Annabeth was, it was genuinely pretty comfortable) she just really wanted to be in her own bed, preferably with Percy also in it.
“Annabeth’s gonna want to go home,” Piper predicted, drawing Annabeth out of her thoughts, “She gets boyfriend clingy when she’s drunk.”
“I do not,” Annabeth said, even though she most definitely did.
“You’re a bad liar,” Hazel said, patting Annabeth’s leg sympathetically.
“I’m an excellent liar,” Annabeth said. Under normal circumstances this would be true. Unfortunately being drunk was not normal for her.
“Uh huh.” Piper said, “Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t want Percy to come pick you up.”
Annabeth looked into Piper’s eyes, currently a very pretty green shade. Not as pretty as the shade of green Percy’s eyes were, but nice, for eyes that were not Percy’s. What was she supposed to be doing again?
“This feels like a trick,” Annabeth said, squinting.
“She wants Percy to pick her up,” Piper said, tugging at Jason’s pant leg.
“Yeah, I got that,” Jason said. Annabeth was pretty sure he was laughing at them, but in her current state it was a little hard to tell. “Let me go get my phone.”
Piper whined as Jason walked away, leaning back against the couch.
“Can you even walk, Chase?” she asked, looking dubiously at Annabeth “He’s going to have to carry you home.”
“I can walk,” Annabeth said, very offended even though she didn’t entirely know if her statement was true. Piper snorted.
“You’re lucky Percy is strong.”
“This is all your fault, McLean. Don’t think I’ve forgotten,” Annabeth said, aiming a soft kick at Piper’s leg.
“Okay, in my defense I didn’t read the label,” Piper said, pulling her leg back just in time to avoid Annabeth’s foot.
“How is that a defense?” Hazel asked, though she was giggling.
Piper did not have time to further defend and/or implicate herself, because Jason appeared in the doorway again.
“Percy’s coming, he’ll be here in ten.”
“Was he mad?” Annabeth asked anxiously. Piper rolled her eyes.
“I don’t think Percy is physically capable of being mad at you,” she said.
“He thought it was funny, actually,” Jason said, ignoring Piper.
“Told you so,” Piper said smugly.
“Shut up,” Annabeth grumbled.
The next ten minutes passed in a very drunken blur. Now that she had fully realized she was intoxicated, the feeling only seemed to compound, each uncounted drink catching up to her with a reckless abandon. She was vaguely aware of Piper crawling back on the couch to lie down, and Hazel curling up in an armchair. Annabeth just stayed on her little patch of floor. If she got too comfortable, she wasn’t going to want to get up.
She could feel something anxious starting to prickle under the surface of all her artificially happy feelings, but it was sort of difficult to dissect when she couldn’t really think straight.
“Hey, Wise Girl,” a familiar voice said.
Annabeth looked up to see Percy smiling down at her. He looked so pretty she almost started crying. Almost. Crying as a normal human function was fine and good and emotionally necessary and all that, but crying because you were drunk and your boyfriend was hot was just embarrassing.
“I’m drunk,” she told him. Might as well get right to the point.
“Yeah, I gathered,” he said, still looking at her with entirely too much affection, “You feel okay enough to walk home?”
“Yeah. I wanna walk,” Annabeth said, accepting his hand and pulling herself to his feet. If he hadn’t been holding her she probably would have fallen over.
“You sure about that?” he asked skeptically, putting his other hand around her waist, steadying her. She leaned into him, because she always leaned into him, and yeah, okay, maybe she needed his support to walk straight, but what about it.
“Very sure,” Annabeth said. Already she was adjusting to being on her feet. Percy half looked like he wanted to protest, but making it out of the living room seemed to convince him that she was okay to at least make it a few blocks home.
Sitting down on the bench in the front hall to put her shoes on was somehow worse than walking. She managed to shove her shoes into her sneakers, but getting them tied was probably not going to happen.
“I can’t remember how shoelaces work,” Annabeth admitted, looking up at him, “Does that mean I’m screwed?”
“Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news,” Percy said, leaning down to tie her shoe for her. Annabeth shut her eyes tight, then opened them again, trying very hard to focus out her vision. It didn’t work.
“What’s the bad news?” Annabeth asked, because bad news tended to ruin good news, and she’d rather just get it out of the way.
“You’re going to be very hungover tomorrow.” Percy said, straightening up. She thought he was smiling, but considering there were two of his head floating around in front of her, it was kind of hard to tell.
“Are you laughing at me?” Annabeth asked. He was definitely smiling now.
“I would never,” Percy said, wrapping an arm around her waist, “C’mon, lets go.”
Their goodbye was not as extended or elaborate as Annabeth expected, mostly because Piper and Hazel were already half-way to being passed out. Still, there were some waves, some I-love-yous and a partially incoherent apology from Piper, though who it was aimed at was something of a mystery.
Stairs were just a bit tricky, but she managed to stumble down them without seriously injuring herself. She was sure Percy helped somehow, but she could barely tell the difference between his arms supporting her and her own movement.
“What’s the good news?” Annabeth asked, once they were safely on the sidewalk, heading in the direction of her apartment. It was probably cold, but between Percy’s body heat next to her and her own drunkenness, she could barely feel it.
“You haven’t thrown up?” Percy offered, half-heartedly. Annabeth swallowed down a gag.
“Don’t say those words again,” she warned. Percy winced.
“That wasn’t even good news, that was irrelevant news,”
“I think it’s excellent news, personally.” Percy said. He was laughing at her again, probably, but she also probably deserved it. Probably. She was wrapped under his shoulder because his arm was still helping hold her up, so it was kind of hard to see his face. She focused her eyes down at the sidewalk in front of her instead, focusing on not tripping.
“You would,” Annabeth said, “You didn’t have good news, did you?”
“I was sort of hoping you would forget,” Percy admitted.
“I never forget,” Annabeth reminded him. She had an excellent memory. Especially for things that had happened only 2 minutes ago. Admittedly the rest of the night was already starting to get a little blurry.
“I’m sorry for doubting you,” he said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
Annabeth felt a small stab of guilt. He was teasing her, sure, but he was also being stupid nice even after she’d dragged him out of bed in the middle of the night to practically carry her intoxicated self back home.
And now she was remembering where that little wiggle of anxiety had been stemming from. He didn’t like being around drunk people. He never really said anything, because he was him and thus was probably allergic to the mere thought of even mildly killing anyone else’s fun for his own personal comfort or convenience. But she knew him well enough that he didn’t need to say anything. He’d never taken up Piper’s offer to go partying with them, even though he encouraged Annabeth to go when she’d wanted to, and he hardly ever drank himself. Even then it was only in social situations, and usually just one drink that he probably didn’t even feel.
So maybe he hadn’t flat out said he didn’t like people being wasted around him, but he had told her about Gabe; how he was a drunk, abusive asshole. It wasn’t too hard to put the pieces together.
“I’m sorry I got drunk,” Annabeth said. It was kind of a lame apology considering she was probably slurring her words a good amount, but she meant it anyways.
She felt something shift in his demeanor— if she was sober, she would know instantly what the slight change in pressure meant. As it was, she was kind of in the dark.
“Why are you sorry?” he asked. She thought he sounded surprised, but maybe she was mishearing, because it would be dumb for him to be surprised by that. At the very least, he should understand she felt bad about ruining his night.
“Because, I got messy and you had to wake up and take me home even though I could have just slept on Piper’s floor,” Annabeth said. Words were sort of flowing out of her without her completely approving them, in a jumbled rush. She didn’t like it, but she couldn’t quite remember how to stop it either.
“I don’t mind,” he said, just as she’d known he would. He meant it too, even drunk off her ass she could tell he wasn’t annoyed at her at all, even though he would be totally justified to be.
“But I could have just slept on the floor,” Annabeth repeated, though even the thought caused her to lean deeper into him.
Percy slowed his pace, almost stopping. Annabeth tried looking up at him to decipher what he was thinking, but she couldn’t really make out his face well enough to tell.
“This isn’t just about waking me up, isn’t it?” he asked.
Ugh. Why did she forget in her drunken stupor that he knew her just as well as she knew him? Obviously he was going to pick up on something deeper that was making her feel guilty.
“I just—” Annabeth started, then stopped. It was difficult to pick words precisely enough for the thoughts she was having.
“I know you don’t really like parties and stuff. Or drunk people. And I’m a drunk people right now, so I’m sorry.”
Great job, Annabeth, Annabeth thought to herself. Very delicately put. The lack of subject verb agreement, that was a nice touch. You didn’t sound completely fucked up even a little bit.
God, she hated being drunk.
“I didn’t want you to wake up alone, tomorrow,” Annabeth said, trying again, “But I forgot that me being drunk might be worse, so that's why I feel bad.”
Percy stopped walking. At first Annabeth thought it was in response to what she’d just said, but then she realized they were in front of their apartment building.
Then she realized he wasn’t making any moves to go inside, so it was about what she’d said after all. Instead he turned her around so she could see his face, keeping his arms around her waist in support.
She couldn’t quite read his expression, yet another reason why alcohol was the devil.
“I have a feeling we’re going to need to repeat this conversation in the morning when you’re sober,” he started, “But just for the record, you being drunk doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all.”
Annabeth studied his expression, searching his face for any signs of mistruth. She found none, but she also couldn’t entirely trust her senses at the moment.
“Are you just saying that?” Annabeth asked, suspiciously, “Because that’s the sort of thing you would lie about.”
She had sort of expected him to sigh in annoyance, but to her surprise he smiled instead.
“I’m not lying, I swear.”
“But you don’t like other drunk people,” Annabeth insisted. For some reason the two ideas could not coexist in her mind.
“I don’t like drunk strangers,” he corrected, “You’re not a stranger.”
“Well, duh,” Annabeth said, which made him laugh. She hadn’t meant to, but she liked hearing him laugh, so she would accept it anyways.
“But doesn’t it— I don’t know, bring up bad memories, for you?” she asked, cautiously, “I don’t wanna do that. I don’t even really like being drunk.”
He just shook his head.
“If it did, I would tell you. But it doesn’t, I swear.”
Annabeth frowned. It was probably just her stupid wine brain, but she couldn’t quite connect the dots between all the points he was making.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because,” he said, somehow still smiling, “You’re you.”
“That’s a lame answer.” Annabeth said.
“It’s true,” he said, in that stupid earnest honest voice of his, “I mean, maybe if you started throwing beer cans at my head when you got tipsy it’d be different, but you’re the opposite of aggressive when you’re drunk. You actually get really cuddly, it's kind of cute.”
Annabeth knew he was trying to comfort her, but she also knew that Gabe had done a lot worse than throw beer cans at him. She felt a surge of anger on his behalf, but more powerfully a wave of sadness looking at his upbeat expression. It was so supremely unfair that she wanted to cry, but she just hugged him instead. She was probably proving his point about being cuddly, but she didn’t even care.
“I’m so glad your mom made him into a statue,” she mumbled into his chest.
“Me too,” Percy said, resting his chin on the top of her head.
“I love you so much,” Annabeth said, because she really, really did. Like so much. An embarrassing amount, if she were capable of feeling embarrassed about anything having to do with Percy Jackson, which she was pretty sure was impossible.
“I love you too,” he said, kissing the top of her head to prove it.
“Piper said I get boyfriend clingy when I’m drunk,” Annabeth admitted. He laughed, his chest vibrating beneath her.
“She might be right about that.”
“She’s usually right about things,” Annabeth said, without thinking. Then—
“Don’t tell her I said that.”
He laughed again, but it was quieter. She felt it more than she heard it this time.
“Your secret is safe with me,” he promised.
“I’m sorry I woke you up,” Annabeth said, because she really did feel bad about that, even beyond all the other stuff, “I should have paid more attention to what I was doing.”
She felt him shrug underneath her.
“Stuff happens, it's not a big deal,” Percy said easily, “We’ll just sleep in tomorrow. Speaking of, we should probably go inside.”
As soon as he said ‘go inside’ Annabeth’s brain suddenly registered that she was exhausted. It was late, her head was swimming, and his chest had been very warm and very comfortable. She’d fallen half asleep without even realizing it.
“Inside sounds good,” Annabeth agreed, yawning.
“C’mon, I’ll carry you the rest of the way,” Percy said, finally pulling away, brushing a few stray curls out of her eyes.
Maybe if she had been sober she would have protested. As it was she was pretty happy to climb on his back and rest her head on his shoulder. He looped his arms under her legs and lifted her up easily. Gods, he was stupidly strong. She should appreciate that more.
“I love you,” she mumbled one last time into his shoulder. Whether he’d heard or responded was a mystery to her, because she was asleep before he finished climbing the stairs.