(The first time I saw him, I noticed how haunted his eyes were. And I was drawn to him, in the way a melody draws a crowd to the dance floor. Pulled by invisible strings.)

Thalia was such a hipster sometimes and it made Annabeth want to bash her head against the wall, honestly.

She didn't drink coffee from Starbucks because it was "too basic" and she wouldn't turn the car radio on any regular station because it "too basic" and she refused to go into pretty much any regular stores because apparently "the whole world was too god damn basic."

Okay, so most of the time this wouldn't be such a big deal, but Thalia's birthday was next week. And Thalia was pretty much impossible to shop for.

So that's how Annabeth eventually found herself here, in a small record store a few streets down from her apartment. Thalia did have a record player – further highlighting her hipsterness (Annabeth was fairly certain that was a word) – and so getting her some records seemed like a good idea.

However, now that the grey eyed girl was here, she realized there was a huge flaw in her birthday present plan: she had no idea what kind of music Thalia would actually want. God, she was stupid for not checking before she left. Oh well. It was too late to go back now, Annabeth decided, so she should just get one of the workers to help her out.

She headed toward one sorting through boxes near the back of the shop.

"Excuse me sir, I'm shopping for friend's birthday but then I realized that I don't know what kind of music she likes…I was wondering if you'd—''

He had turned around, and upon eye contact Annabeth seemed to come up short.

He was tall, built, and looked to be her age, with messy black hair and a polite smile at his lips. Aesthetically pleasing for sure, but what really caught the girl off guard was his eyes.

They were green and gorgeous, but looked so very haunted. And not a tragic oh-my-god-I-failed-a-test or I-just-discovered-my-girlfriend-of-a-week-cheating sort of sadness, but a quality that spoke of chronic exposure pain; that spoke of a tiredness beyond what sleep could fix.

In hindsight, Annabeth should have realized she was a goner right then and there.

"—your friend?" he inquired. She nodded.

Thalia, Right. That's why she was here. Birthday Present. Focus, Annabeth.

"Yeah. Would you help me out?" He smiled.

"Of course, that is my job." He leaned against the wall behind him. "So what kind music does this friend of yours like?"

"Ah. Well, that's the thing…I don't really know" He raised an eyebrow, and his lips curved upward into a smile.

"So you decided out of all things to buy your friend a record as a present, and you don't even know what kind of music she likes?"

Well yeah, the blonde knew she had –for lack of a better description—a blonde moment, but that was just flat out mocking her.

"She's a hard person to shop for" Annabeth said defensively. "I'd like to see you try it."

He put his hands up in surrender. "Okay, okay—I get it. We'll find something, don't worry. Just-" He paused for a second, as if in thought "—describe her to me."

Annabeth contemplated for a good minute before replying. Thalia was…hard to fit into words.

"She's not emo, but her favorite color is black. She hates normal things and if she was in a movie, she'd be the badass lead who has a gun in the pocket of her dress and whips the main guy into shape. Sometimes she acts like she's five, then out of nowhere she'll give me the best advice and just. She's my best friend." Lame finish, but whatever. This probably wouldn't help anything, anyways.

The guy smiled, and for second it seemed to almost reach his eyes. But then the moment was gone and he turned to the front of the shop, coming to a stop before part of the "G" section and beginning to dig.

"I've got just the thing for your not emo badass friend." He handed her the record and she read it skeptically. 21st Century Breakdown.

"Are you sure about this?" Sure, Mr. attractive worker guy was probably better at this whole music stuff then Annabeth was, but she wanted Thalia to genuinely enjoy the gift.

"Positive. From the description you gave. She's hands down classic rock; I bet Green Day is her national anthem. It's the perfect injection of depressing lyrics, without being enough to go full out goth."

He smiled, and Annabeth couldn't help but smiling too.

"Well you do seem to know what you're talking about, Mr. Worker Guy—"

"You know, there's this really cool item people with jobs have," he interrupted, "they're called nametags. They do this super awesome thing where they tell you someone's name so you don't have to keep making up pronouns for them in your head!"

The ghost of the blonde's smile died in favor for a glare. "Oh shut up—'' she squinted at the guy's nametag "—Percy. This whole customer service thing? I'm not impressed. Dissatisfied, even. So keep it up, and maybe I'll have to talk to the manager."

Contrary to the glare she was giving him, Percy's smile just seemed to grow wider. "I'd like to see you try. The guy absolutely loves me, so you're out of luck Annabeth."

And there were probably a million witty comebacks the grey eyed girl could have retorted with, but she was just speechless. Because, what the hell?

"How do you know my name?" that was honest to god creepy, because Annabeth didn't remember mentioning it. And Annabeth was known for having a good memory.

Even though Percy's back was to Annabeth as he walked to the register, she could practically feel the eye roll he was giving her.

"Relax wise girl, your name is on the back of your sweatshirt. I'm not a stalker, just perceptive. Promise."

Annabeth studied him. Looking closer, she could see the circles under his eyes – which still seemed empty and dead, but the way he spoke made him seem so…alive. Annabeth was confused, yet inexplicably drawn in. She did not understand this Percy enigma, but she really, really wanted to. None of this was vocalized, of course.

"Smart ass," she muttered instead.

"You know, that's the first time I've ever been called that."

"What, an ass?" she highly doubted that.

"No, smart. So thanks." Of course he would take her insult as a complement. He handed her bag with the record to her and continued "I have officially decided that I like you Annabeth, so do come back again. It gets really boring here sometimes, and you amuse me."

"we'll see." She exited out the door.

You amuse me. Really? Seriously? He'd be lucky if she doesn't call the company and complain.

Except maybe –just maybe—she actually couldn't stop thinking about those haunted eyes and witty retorts. And maybe she did already want to go back again and meet Percy again. She'd never admit it out loud, though.

I retain no rights to PJO or Lang Leav's Soundtracks, which inspired this story.