„It’s so unfair that the two of you went shopping without me,” complained Percy as he opened the door of his mother’s apartment. “Tyson told me everything about your traitorous shopping trip through New Rome!”
“Stop your whining, Jackson,” growled Nico with flushed cheeks and took off his coat. “I just wanted to pick up a present for Hazel and met Jason by pure accident. That’s all.”
Percy kicked his shoes off and ignored Nico’s irritated glances. “Oh, and you drank hot chocolate afterwards by pure accident. And you had some brownies. I love hot chocolate and brownies!”
“But only when they’re blue.” Jason collected the shoes and put them neatly in order. Old roman habit. “Thank you for picking us up at the bus station.”
“I’m still pouting, guys! You’ve hurt my feelings.” Percy crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“What are you? Five?” Nico snorted and hung up his coat.
“Sometime he behaves like he is twelve to give him some credits,” said Sally as she came out of the kitchen to welcome the boys.
Percy just rolled his eyes. “Great, even my mother betrays me. I’ve lost my youth out there, fighting. I can behave like I’m three if I want.” He grinned and his mother just shook her head while smiling.
“Welcome, boys.” She embraced Jason and Nico who got a bit insecure because of her motherly touch but enjoyed it nonetheless. “The longer hair looks good on you, Jason. And my, how much have you grown again, Nico? Just look what a handsome young man you are!”
The son of Hades blushed. His body recovered and gained some substance after the big war and so he got hit by some growth spurts.
“What about Tyson, Frank and Will? Aren’t they coming, too?”
“Frank and Tyson are occupied with preparations for the big Christmas Party in New Rome,” said Jason. “Both of them had shed some tears and are very sad that they couldn’t join.”
“And Will tries to teach a choir some Christmas carols but it appears that Apollo’s gifts are still instable,” added Nico as he took off his shoes.
“How did you actually plan to stuff all the guys into our kitchen, mom?” asked Percy but he missed Tyson already. Since the big guy went to New Rome they had only a few times together.
“The more the merrier,” answered Sally and shrugged her shoulders. “You’re welcome in the kitchen after you have washed your hands.”
There was some shoving at the sink in the bathroom but it was just for fun. Mostly. For being the Big Threes’ sons they got along really well and that was the reason Nico didn’t kill Percy on the spot when he shot a stream of water right up Nico’s nose for the boy accidently standing on Percy’s feet three or four times. Jason lectured them both but of course he buddied up with Nico and if Sally wouldn’t have looked after them they would have started a game of towel-hitting.
The flashing and the typical “click” of a camera let the boys freeze in action.
“Just go on. I promised Annabeth to document this historical event,” said Sally and smiled dangerously. “But I bet Piper and Will would also like to have a photo album of this.”
“I hate this stupid camera,” muttered Percy and let the water glide back into the sink.
“My dear warriors, please follow me to the kitchen,” said Sally in her best military tone.
It turned out to be a terrible mess, a battle they could not win. The kitchen was a battlefield, covered in flour, broken eggshells and bits of dough, cream and chocolate everywhere.
The boys stood at the kitchen table, wounded but proud they examined the result. Nico had burns on his left hand, Percy’s shin was all black and blue (Nico had kicked him as he suggested that Will could heal the boy’s fingers with his magical healing-spit) and Jason had burned his tongue because he had to taste the cookies as soon as they left the stove.
But it was worth it. With Sally’s guidance they had made some great cookies which they intended to give to their beloved ones.
“You all did well.” Sally nodded approvingly. She made some nice pictures during the so-called ‘Battle of the Demon-Cookies” and she was pretty content with the boys’ teamwork. “While you’re cleaning up the kitchen I will order some pizza. Paul will be here in a minute and we will go out. So the TV will be yours. Try not to break something, behave and no more fights, okay?”
She kissed every boy on the cheek and said goodbye.
“You’re a lucky guy, Percy,” said Jason as Sally had left the room. He took a broom from Percy.
“I know.” The son of Neptune grinned. “I bet I’m way faster cleaning up my half of the kitchen.”
“In your dreams, Jackson.” Jason growled. “Nico, you’ll be the judge. And be so kind to open that window for I am gonna blow all of that flour out.”
“Fine by me.” Nico shrugged his shoulders and began to put the cookies into little boxes without looking up. “Ready, steady, go!”
Paul and Sally did a little Christmas shopping and went to the cinema afterwards. It was nice and relaxing after the chaos in the kitchen.
She had faith in the boys but was a bit anxious at the same time. They were boys, they were hitting puberty in variable development and they had the mightiest supernatural abilities a demigod could have.
Sally really hoped that they wouldn’t destroy the apartment. She unlocked the door and pushed it open while she crossed her fingers.
The air was filled with the sweet scent of buttery dough and cinnamon.
“Do we have to redecorate?” asked Paul and peered over her shoulder.
“The corridor looks fine to me,” whispered Sally back and entered the apartment tiptoed.
It was silent except a faint fake laughter coming from the TV. She frowned skeptically and opened the door to the living room with utter care. She stood still for a moment and smiled.
The boys were sleeping with the TV turned on. Jason and Percy lay sprawled over the sofa, obviously they’ve been fighting for the upper hand for it wasn’t easy to tell which body part belonged to which boy.
Nico lay curled like a kitten on the armchair like he wasn’t into the power play of the older boys. He looked younger in his sleep and Sally wanted to stuff food into his mouth to fatten up the boy a bit more. Instead she picked up her camera and made a few pictures.
Then she joined her husband in the kitchen which was remarkable clean and smiled.
There stood some Christmas themed boxes with names written on them on the kitchen table. Annabeth, Piper, Will.
“There is one for you, too.” Paul smiled and gave her another box. It said “Sally/Mom” with a badly drawn heart around the inscription.