A fish out of water - Blizzaria (2023)

Chapter 1

Chapter Text


It was only as Percy approached the glistening school gates that he remembered the knife in his pocket. Shit, he thought, that was definitely something that could get him into some serious trouble on his first day. His mind had been elsewhere as he walked, cycling through memories from his last year at school, and pondering the year ahead. Yancy High School, an underfunded New York City public school with a reputation that could rival a prison, had been Percy Jackson's stomping ground for the last three years, as he and his friends carved out a reputation that lived up to the area they came from – the notorious Olympus Estate.

Their little gang of 'Olympians' had loved nothing more than to wreak havoc on the lives of the poor Yancy staff, and were frequently the initiators of large scale corridor brawls, parking lot scuffles and afterschool shoplifting. They had hardly been the only troublemakers though, with countless other gangs and groups scattered throughout the school, usually divided by where people lived. You didn't have to look very far for unrest if you wanted it, and most students were more than happy to oblige, with the school not far off resembling a battlefield on particularly bad days. As they'd been getting older, it had been becoming increasingly more dangerous, hence the knife in Percy's pocket. It had become instinct to take it when leaving Olympus, and especially on his own, hoping to never use it but always ready if he needed protection. Percy knew what they did was wrong, but what did he care, his life wasn't worth much to the outside world anyway, and to the staff at school he was just another juvenile delinquent; an image he had always been more than happy to play up to. Besides, it was fun for him; he got to spend time with his pals, messing around and generally just getting up to no good. In their minds they were doing little more than letting off steam, and for as much as Percy hated school with every fibre of his being, he certainly had some great memories. He'd be well on his way to making another year's worth of them if it weren't for one little problem – the hellhole in his mind was not the school he now stood before.

No, Percy stood gazing at the pristine white marble building that was Goode High School, a self-styled specialist school that typically catered to New York's richest trust fund babies. In the early morning September sun, it looked like the whole place was glowing. What Percy was actually doing here, he was still trying to comprehend. These were kids who lived in huge houses and drove to school in Mercedes, whose parents all had memberships to golf clubs and worked big city jobs for obscene salaries, or came from some of the most well-known families in the city. It was out in an area of New York Percy hardly visited, away from the overbearing concrete and asphalt jungle he lived in. By all accounts, he shouldn't be anywhere near a school like this. As he glanced around, he noticed no students, only empty looking windows and gleaming walls. He knew he was late, but briefly wondered if anybody else risked tardiness at this place. He'd been told to head straight to the principal's office at eight o'clock for the start of the day, and wanted to see how it would land if he were ever so slightly off with his timing. Not enough to be insulting, just the amount to fit a 'missed my bus' excuse; it would give him an idea of how lenient his new overlords would be early on. Percy doubted that anybody at a school like this had the balls to stand up to teachers. Then again, he doubted they had many students like him. Standing and gazing up at the place he was now supposed to spend the final year of his school life, he just couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't belong, like he was some sort of alien about to land on a brand new planet.

It wasn't just his historically bad school behavior that Percy was thinking about; he was sure there were some troublemakers somewhere in this building (rich kids had to have wild sides, surely). No, it was his home life that was playing on Percy's mind. Olympus Estate was home to more than just some rowdy school kids, and he and his friends didn't call themselves 'Olympians' for no reason. The Olympians was actually the name of one of New York's largest criminal gangs, and they operated from the estate they'd been born out of. Many of the adults who lived in the various apartments were involved in the gang in some way or another; not everyone mind, but still more than enough for the place to be considered a no-go area unless you were really brave or really stupid. Crime was not only the most common career path for kids from the estate when they left school, it was just about the only choice they had, and kids took to calling themselves mini-Olympians from young ages. It amused many of the actual gang members no end, and meant that there was always a sense of expectation among lots of the estate kids, expectation to live up to the name they chose, or lose the right to use it. All that pressure was twofold for Percy, whose father just so happened to run the gang.

Yes, that's right, Percy Jackson's father, known to any and every one simply as Poseidon, had been a criminal for as long as anybody could remember. No one really knew how long he'd been running his gang, or how he came to acquire so much power and influence, or just quite how many different areas the gang seemed to operate in, but everybody knew who the boss was in the estate. He collected the rent, he protected the residents, and his gang policed the people that lived there when necessary. It was rare to see any actual police officers brave enough to step foot there, and they were called so rarely that they hardly ever bothered. No, if you had a problem at Olympus, going to the police was a big no-no; you called the gang, you called Poseidon, they would deal with it. It was all very hush-hush though, you never made a big deal about it; if you needed their help, you wanted it over and done with as quickly as possible. That was the type of father Percy had grown up with, tough, intimidating and hardly ever around. He had been an ever present figure looming over Percy's life without really being involved in it, leaving Percy to be raised by his mother. And yet, his reputation was so large within the walls of Olympus that it had always been assumed by practically everyone, Percy included, that he would one day inevitably follow in his father's footsteps and join the gang. It wasn't a dream of Percy's necessarily, just a dismal understanding that it was probably all he would be good for when he grew up. As far as he knew, in his seventeen years on earth his father had never once tried to steer Percy away from his delinquent behavior, which is why it was such a surprise to find himself in front of this strange school, a potential chance at opportunity, all because of his father.

His father had never taken an interest in his education before now, but had apparently decided that now was the time to get started, and had begun making arrangements for Percy's final year, all without telling him. In a rare afternoon dinner with him a week ago, Poseidon had made it quite clear to Percy that Goode would be his new school, and it wasn't up for discussion. In neglecting to tell his son exactly why he had taken this sudden interest, he left Percy wracking his brains trying to come up with a logical explanation, and he kept coming up short. How he'd managed to get Percy a place at a prestigious school like Goode was an even bigger mystery (although knowing his father, he thought it might be for the best he didn't find out) – Yancy was a dirty word to many people in the city, and the only reason most parents didn't pull their children out was because few other schools would take on transfers. Gazing up at the building, Percy imagined he was the first Yancy student to ever upgrade schools like this. Yet, this didn't fill him with joy, and as he realised he had been standing in one spot for a good few minutes now, he noticed a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was a nervous tingling, and made Percy feel like a kid on his first day of high school again. Briefly, he wondered how much trouble he would get in for skipping his first day completely.

"Fuck this", he muttered to himself. He wasn't going to let something as pathetic as first day nerves glue him to the spot like a scared child. As quickly as he had noticed it, he swallowed down the nervousness, ashamed it had even manifested. At Olympus you stood and faced your problems, you never ran from them. Besides, if he skipped his first day, he didn't want to imagine how his father would react. For as tough as Percy tried to be, his father was still so much scarier than any other person he knew, and he wasn't insecure enough to deny the man could scare the living daylights out of him. Taking one final look around the alien area, and admiring the sports cars that adorned the parking bays in front of the school, Percy began to ascend the imposing white steps. He briefly pulled out his old phone to check the time – 8:14. As he fumbled around putting it back in his pocket, he felt the cool metal of the knife. He slowly shoved it down as far as it would go. Knowing his luck, they'd ask him to empty out his pockets straight away. He decided to cross that bridge if he got to it, and slowly sauntered off down the hallway in search of the principal's office.

The hallways were ridiculously clean, gleaming as if every nook and cranny had been polished. The pale grey floor and lockers blended in with the white walls, and made the whole place feel a bit like a hospital. There was the occasional poster up promoting a club or start of year event, but it was eerily silent. Yancy had only ever been silent at night, when the janitors had been doing the late rounds, and Percy only knew that because he and his friends had frequently snuck back in to cause some kind of trouble for the teachers (rats in the desk drawers had been a particular favourite). No, at Yancy there was always some kind of noise in the background, it buzzed with pent up energy, but walking through the halls of Goode right now, Percy would've heard a pin drop. Occasionally he would meander past a classroom full of students, peering in out of curiosity. They all seemed to be glued to the teacher, or heads down and working. Great, a whole school of brainiacs, Percy was sure he would lose his mind within the day. Eventually he turned a corner, still with absolutely no bearings on where he was going, when he saw a deep brown door with the word 'Principal' in fancy gold letters, at least he hoped that's what it said (his dyslexia did tend to act up with fancy letters). He checked his phone one final time – 8:19. Twenty minutes late was pushing it a bit on his first day, but he could hardly go back in time now. He slipped the phone back into his pocket, and remembered the knife one more time. There was no point in backing out now, and without a second thought, Percy raised his hand and knocked lightly on the door.

It was opened a few seconds later by a short woman with a big bushy hair and a friendly smile. She was wearing a plain brown shirt adorning a big name badge with the name Mrs. Wheeler written across it, at least that was Percy's best guess, that or Mrs. Wheelie. The badge, combined with her expectant stance, made her look like she worked in a shop.

"How can I help you?" she spoke with a thick Midwestern accent and never broke her happy grin.

"I'm Percy Jackson, the, uh, new student" he just assumed they'd been expecting him, but Mrs. Wheeler's eyes had a vacant quality to them, like she wasn't entirely present in their conversation.

"Oh isn't that nice," she beamed, suddenly swinging the door wide open, "why don't you come and wait in here, I'm sure Mr. D will be with you shortly."

Without speaking, Percy drifted into the room, and gazed around at the mini waiting room. Just like the rest of the school, it was incredibly clean looking, with filing cabinets making up two of the walls and a little brown desk covered in trinkets. Mrs. Wheeler made her way back to the seat, while Percy sat down in a plain old school chair up against the opposite wall. There was a door opposite the one he had just come through, which he assumed was the actual principal's office, and wondered how long he would be waiting for it to open. The room was completely silent, apart from Mrs. Wheeler's slow typing. Occasionally she would use a pencil to scratch in her beehive, even leaving one to sit there for a minute as she typed away at something, the whole time with that same vacant expression she'd stared at Percy with. The minutes ticked by, but he didn't want to check his phone; there was an uncomfortable silence that lay heavy in the room, and Percy was afraid if he moved a muscle it would only get worse. Street fights he could handle, but this deep awkwardness was a bit much even for him. The white walls felt oddly overbearing, and he could almost make out dots moving about on them, just at the edge of his vision. He was sure he was going insane when finally a machine buzzed on Mrs. Wheeler's desk and a disinterested voice crackled through it, breaking the silence and jolting Percy back into the moment.

"Okay Grace, send him through now." Mrs. Wheeler turned her absent minded face back to Percy.

"Mr D. will see you now," she said, and nodded towards the door before turning back without a second glance. Slowly, Percy rose from his seat and made his way to the door. Without knocking, he pushed it open and stepped into a much darker room than he'd just been in.

The blinds were drawn slightly, casting noir-like shadows across the dark brown walls and deep green carpet. As Percy looked around, he thought to himself how different this room was to the principal's office he had frequently visited at Yancy. It was neat, clean and well organised, not like the mess that Percy was used to. Whereas Yancy's old principal had to deal with multiple incidents per day, and often had papers strewn across the surfaces and floors, this office gave the impression that this Mr. D was the only person who was ever in here. Percy could see thin layers of dust on bookcases, filing cabinets and the windowsill. Yes, this room was definitely not used to disturbances.

Right in the middle of all this immaculate decorating was an impressively carved brown desk, with a short plump man sat in a huge deep purple chair, hunched over some papers, paying no mind to Percy. So this was Mr. D. When you imagine the principal of a school as reputable as Goode, he was about as far away from that as he could be. With his sleek jet-black hair and scraggly beard, he probably wouldn't look out of place at Olympus. He wore an expensive black suit with purple shirt and tie. The whole look didn't quite fit him, which given his size was saying something; it looked as if it all needed a good iron. He slowly raised his head, and Percy suddenly felt his startlingly purple eyes boring into him. They were slightly bloodshot and had a trace of anger in them, and it distracted significantly from his rosy cheeks and red nose. He had the look of a man who had enjoyed a few too many glasses of wine for a few too many days in a row, and would've looked more at home in the local bar than a principal's office. Percy had certainly never met a teacher quite as immediately intimidating as this.

"Sit" was all he uttered, gesturing to a chair placed opposite him. He gazed at Percy almost carelessly, like he really couldn't be bothered to have this conversation right now, yet there was also a confidence to how he sat in his chair, like he'd already analysed Percy the moment he walked into the room, and wouldn't be caught out by anything. Slowly (you might even say timidly), Percy descended into the school chair, Mr. D's purple eyes never leaving him.

"Percy Jackson, I assume?" he flicked a pen between his fingers as he spoke.

"Yes," Percy replied, before quickly adding "…sir." A word he usually reserved solely for Poseidon, but something about Mr. D's presence made it feel appropriate. For his part, he didn't seem at all bothered.

"I trust you found the school okay?"

"Yes sir," he replied again, wondering when the anger at his lateness would come. Maybe he'd got lucky and Mr. D had forgotten, although something about his tone again gave a stronger impression that he simply didn't care.

"So Percy," his eyes boring into Percy's, "this is the part of this induction where I tell you how happy we are to have you, and what a wonderful school we have here and blah blah blah. I'm really not in the mood this morning, so let's just pretend I've already given you the whole speech, okay?" He asked, but it wasn't really a question. He spoke with such a frank boredom that it caught Percy off guard, and the way he'd sarcastically emphasized his praises of the school almost seemed tinged with contempt. Usually teachers at least pretended to care. Percy couldn't keep the smile off his face, but it didn't pass under Mr. D's radar.

"Something amuse you?" he grumbled, his little bloodshot balls of anger glaring out of his chubby cheeks. Percy never broke eye contact, refusing to be intimidated by this man.

"I just assumed a principal would care about stuff like that," he didn't make his tone snarky, but it was still risky to talk back the principal this early into the day. Mr. D just grinned slightly before leaning back into his chair, the purple in his shirt practically melting into the giant purple headrest. When he spoke, he actually sounded more jovial.

"If you must know, I have a hangover." He didn't mince his words, did he? Percy couldn't even comprehend a teacher talking this way to a student, let alone the principal of one of the city's finest schools. There was something amusing about it, and Percy found himself quipping back – an even riskier play than talking back.

"You're the principal, and you got drunk before the first day of a new year?" he kept his tone light. Despite the brazen nature of the comment, there was something about Mr. D that made him feel at ease, an up-front honesty that was rare in a person, but valued highly at Olympus. It paid off, as Mr. D broke into his first proper smile, although the anger bubbling behind his eyes never seemed to dissipate.

"That's the reason I got drunk," he replied, chuckling to himself as if remembering last night's haziness. Well, this was certainly the strangest conversation Percy had ever had with a teacher before, and very possibly any adult. He didn't laugh, but did give an almost nervous smile, unsure exactly how to respond. For as unbothered as Mr. D had been so far, Percy wasn't about to start chatting about his own drinking habits, that was a step too far into uncomfortableness. As he leaned back into his chair, the fat principal began to click his tongue, his gaze shifting to the thin beams of light shining breaking through his blinds. Percy sat in the uncomfortable silence for a few moments before speaking up.

"So do I have a timetable or something?" He really wasn't sure what else to do, he never anticipated a meeting like this. Mr. D kept his eyes to the window for a moment, before turning back to Percy with that same piercing expression.

"Okay, I'm gonna level with you right now, because you aren't like any of the other students here", he sounded honest, composed, far more assured and intelligent than his outward exterior would suggest. "This school is full of promising young ladies and gentlemen from New York's finest families, and they're either arrogant little shits who think they're untouchable, or pathetic grovelers afraid that one bad word from me will cut their monthly allowance in half." He paused for a moment, as if picturing some of his least favourite students.

"They sound right up my alley" Percy muttered, earning a wry chuckle from Mr. D as he sat back.

"Honestly, they bore me to death, and their parents even more so. These people don't live in the real world, which makes it hell on earth for those of us that do when we have to deal with them. I'm sick of them all, which is why I was very much looking forward to meeting you." Percy had listened to him rant, slightly unsure where it was all going, but was glued into the conversation now. Mr. D continued. "As far as students go, you are a complete anomaly in the history of Goode High. You come from a completely different world to your new classmates, and being completely frank, we've never had a student of your background here before, so-"

"You mean I'm some little poor kid? I don't fit the 'profile'?" Percy suddenly snapped, instantly irritated at the mention of his home. He couldn't help it, and knew it probably wasn't his wisest move when the anger from Mr. D's eyes seems to spread to his whole face. He didn't look furious, but he did look menacing, reaffirming to Percy that he was still the adult in the room, and the principal no less.

"No, I mean your little gang, Percy" Mr. D said calmly, his voice still that slightly apathetic drawl. Percy must've looked shocked or defensive, because the man smiled widely and chuckled under his breath, revealing a set of wine stained teeth. "Yes, I know all about your little friends and what you liked to get up to at your last school, and out of school for that matter. Under any normal circumstances a school like Goode wouldn't touch you with a ten foot barge pole. It is solely down to my own good graces that you're even in this room right now."

"Your thank you's in the mail…" Percy muttered back quietly, causing the principal's smile to drop instantly and the anger to spread through the chubby cheeks.

"Listen kid, if you wanna play that game, I'll fucking play with you" Percy was again shocked at his swearing. Coming from a teacher it just sounded so much harsher. "If you wanna talk shit and try and piss me off, I can make your life hell for the next year. You think you had it bad at your last place? I'll make you wish you were going to school in Guantanamo fucking Bay!" his anger was contained, but raging, and Percy instantly knew he wasn't joking around. He'd gotten pretty used to reading people at Olympus, especially angry, aggressive people, and right now Mr. D looked like he was running on a very short fuse. There was a slight manic gleam in his eyes, and his composed posture was only helping so much in making him look calmer than he sounded. Percy didn't want to break eye contact, treating this stand off like they were wolves in the wild asserting dominance, but he slowly nodded his head in deference. He never looked away, but the understanding passed between them. Percy hated backing down, but at the same time he knew when to pick his battles, and right now getting in the bad books of a man like Mr. D wasn't worth it. The anger from the principal's face faded slightly, but it still lingered enough for Percy to remain on edge.

"As I was saying," he continued, "we aren't used to having a student with your background. Frankly, your behavior record almost impressive. I imagine you spent more time in the principal's office than out of it." He chuckled, and Percy couldn't help but think how accurate it was. Barely a day went by when he wasn't called up for something or other, whether he even did it or not.

"Yeah, I guess" he muttered in response, careful not to try and sound snide.

"Well that won't be happening here." Mr. D said matter-of-factly, "If I have to see any student more than is absolutely necessary, I lose my patience very quickly. That's not even mentioning the angry parents I'll have to deal with if a new troublemaker starts messing with teachers and disrupting the classes. They may be annoying assholes, but they pay a lot of money for their kids to come here, and more importantly they pay me a lot of money to run this school. No, I will not deal with that kind of shit from you. So that's the one thing I want to make absolutely crystal clear, so that when you leave this office there's no confusion. Stay out of trouble; you do that for me, and your short time with us will be over before you know it. I can't promise you'll enjoy it, it'll probably bore you to death, but you'll certainly be in my good books." Percy pondered his words, actually appreciating what seemed to be sincerity. When he actually thought about it, the idea of messing around in school didn't seem as fun without his friends, and he highly doubted he'd find many similar characters in these classrooms. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to stay out of trouble, and he didn't need Mr. D to warn him of anything, Percy could already tell he was the type of man you didn't want to make a habit out of seeing. He suddenly remembered the knife sitting deep in his pocket, it looked like that was where it would be staying for the year. He nodded his head again, and Mr. D sat back slightly, looking about as close to happy as it was probably possible for him to (which was still pretty angry looking). When he spoke again, most of his underlying aggression was toned down.

"You know, you're the most refreshing student I've ever had walk through that door. You deal with this spoilt brats so long you start to think that all teenagers are like that. I mean they're so vacuous, so clean cut; I swear half of them are engineered in a lab. They bore me to tears some days, 'Yes Mr. D' 'No Mr. D' 'It won't happen again Mr. D'" he put on a silly, high pitched voice for the imitation, and Percy couldn't not find it amusing, even if his face betrayed nothing. "You've given me hope, reminded me that teenagers can still be rude little assholes, that they can still hate their teachers to their faces. Do you know how long I've been begging for a student to talk back to me? These kids have absolutely no backbone, but you, you're from the real world. You know how things really are, so I'm not going to treat you like I do them. I'm gonna be honest with you, if I'm not being up front with you, I'd be wasting my time. Don't confuse my anger for dislike; every indication says I shouldn't have let you in here, but I have, and at least right now, I feel like I've made the right decision. You may prove to be more trouble than you're worth, but that's up to you now." It was a strange tirade, and left Percy feeling slightly confused. He'd never had a teacher be that up front with him before, and he wasn't sure quite how to respond. Thinking back, he did sort of appreciate how straightforward the principal had been throughout their meeting, even in his anger. It had gotten the message across to Percy more effectively than any typical schooling methods would have, and in a strange way, his words had slowly built up Percy's confidence in himself and his upbringing. He had experienced a reality so different from anyone else in this school, but instead of adopting a mindset of inferiority, he was beginning to see how it had actually prepared him well for the real world, at least in some aspects. For the first time that morning, Percy suddenly saw a glimpse of a real teacher in Mr. D, instilling confidence in his own unique way. There was one thing still bugging him though.

"Mr. D, sir, if I'm more trouble than I'm worth, why take the chance? I mean, what am I actually doing here?" It had been on his mind all morning, in fact it had been on his mind pretty much since his father had told him the previous week. It was all well and good him being given the opportunity, but what was in it for the school? Goode hardly seemed like a place that bothered with community outreach and goodwill, Mr. D himself hardly appeared to care about the school or its students, so why take the risk in the first place.

"Well, honestly, because your father asked me to. He and I go back a ways, so you can look at this as a sort of favour I'm doing for him." What surprised Percy wasn't just that it was his father's doing – he'd sort of assumed his father's influence had just found its way to the right people – but that Poseidon and Mr. D were friends.

"You were friends with him?" Percy asked incredulously, causing the principal to grin.

"I like to think we still are. He came to me, we talked about you and your opportunities, and he felt that you should get the best possible education for your final year, so that you can 'better your life in the future'; his words, not mine." If it hadn't have been for Mr. D's consistent candidness all morning, Percy would never have believed him. His father had rarely even taken in interest in him, so the idea he was thinking ahead to Percy's future was almost laughable. His skepticism must've been showing, because Mr. D shrugged slightly. "Believe me or not, he asked for me to see what I could do, and that he'd appreciate it if I could get you in for senior year, in that way he does where it feels more like an order than a request. It was a pretty easy choice, your father isn't somebody I want to get on the bad side of." Percy could hardly blame him of that. Just as he'd recognised when to stand down to Mr. D, he was pretty sure everybody who met his father worked out pretty quickly who the alpha was.

"Even at the risk of pissing off all the parents?" Percy joked lightly.

"I'd rather face a hundred angry parents armed with pitchforks than your father, every day of the week." This time there was no smile on Mr. D's face, no joking around. Percy always knew that his father scared people, but he never realised just how much power his father truly had until now. It went beyond the local estate, Mr. D was clearly a well-paid, educated man who would be unlikely to ever even need to set foot in Olympus, as well as being a fairly intimidating man himself, and yet here he was, openly telling Percy how much his father terrified him. Percy had always been scared of him, but when you're a child on Olympus a lot of things scare you. The fact that that same fear was laced in the voice of a grown man, a principal of a school, even a self-proclaimed friend of Poseidon's, spoke volumes about the type of reputation his father had. So why, after seventeen years of doing the bare minimum, had he finally flexed that power to benefit his son? Percy wasn't sure whether he appreciated it; he didn't want to be in this school, he wanted to be around his friends. It was just typical of his relationship with Poseidon that even when he is actually doing something for his son, he still manages to be a frustration.

"It was just that then?" He asked, inquisitively.

"Percy, I owe it to your father to try and get the best out of you, but I wouldn't take on any student like this unless I thought they were worth it. After our conversation this morning, I think you are. There may be untapped potential in you yet." Mr. D added. That completely caught Percy off guard. No teacher had ever said anything of the sort to him before. He wasn't sure what exactly it was he'd done to give Mr. D that impression, but it was perhaps the best compliment he'd ever gotten from someone that wasn't his mother. "But you didn't hear that from me," the principal added, before pulling out a single sheet of paper. Suddenly the shrill school bell rang, and Percy could faintly make out the hustle and bustle of students in the hallways even from the office.

"Looks like you're right on time. Now let's see, your next class is-" he paused as he looked at Percy's new timetable "-Math, with Mrs. Dodds." He seemed to smirk a bit at that "Good luck with her" he added, passing the sheet over to Percy.

"Thank you, sir" Percy examined the paper, understanding what he read about as much as he understood French.

"Grace can tell you how to get there, I'm sure you can make your way around for the rest of the day. If you need to talk to me, let Grace know and she'll sort it out, but do try and keep it to a minimum" Mr. D was back to sounding bored, the plain old apathetic principal. Percy had just reached the door when Mr. D called him one last time.

"Oh and Percy," The boy turned, and was once again met with the bloodshot balls of fury, "if you're ever eighteen minutes late to a meeting with me again I will rip your fucking head off." His voice was calm and steady, but it got the message across to Percy. To be fair, his whole intention with being late was to see how much leniency he would get, and he it looked like it was a big fat zero. He nodded at the man one final time before stepping out of the office and back into Mrs. Wheeler's little waiting room. It was perhaps the strangest conversation Percy had ever had, and despite seeming to be on Mr. D's good side, he was thrilled to finally be out of the room.

As he once again meandered down the pristine grey corridors, Percy was still in no rush. He'd caught a glimpse of some students, but the hallways were close to empty by the time he had left Mrs. Wheeler, and her directions were hardly clear as day, so Percy kept his pace slow, trying to navigate his way to class. He assumed he was still safe for another few minutes, after all it was his first day, and while Mr. D had told him not to be late to a meeting with him again, he hadn't said anything about being late to boring old class. As he walked, Percy thought about his old school, his old friends, his life back at home. At Yancy, he'd been largely carefree and he hadn't even realised it until now. At Goode he already felt like an outsider, and he hadn't even met anyone yet. Sure, Mr. D had given some surprisingly encouraging words, and some of them had even resonated a bit, but as he looked around at this new environment, something just didn't feel right. He wasn't used to being somewhere that took school so seriously, and suddenly his slow pace, scruffy clothes and general attitude all felt more glaringly obvious than they had before he entered the building. In one of the larger hallways, Percy walked past a trophy cabinet, adorned with all sorts of sports trophies and achievements the school had won. Clearly that extra funding and fees paid to get into a place like this were worth it. Yancy never had anything like this, kids didn't care enough about school activities, and any trophies that might've been won would've probably been stolen the next day anyway. As Percy examined the silverware behind the glass, he worked out that Goode had a very good football team, with more than half the trophies belonging to them, as well as pictures of pig physical looking boys posing for team photos. Percy briefly remembered hearing talk around town of a few good sports prospects coming from here.

He pondered whether or not he should try out for the team, if that was even something he could do, but in a second erased that thought. Sure, Percy liked football, he watched it whenever he could, which was rare, and played whenever he could too, which was even rarer. When he was younger he'd been really into it, and while he'd still consider himself to be athletic his life at Olympus meant there wasn't much time for sports. He thought about how his friends would mock him if he were to ever think of doing such a thing. Percy Jackson playing high school football. The jokes would be relentless.

That was the kind of people Percy hung out with. To the outside world, they were gang members, juvenile delinquents on a fast track to nowhere, but to Percy, they were more like brothers, family. Some of them really were family. He had a half-brother on his father's side, Tyson, and a cousin, Nico. Outside of them, there was also Grover, Percy's oldest and best friend. Grover had always been what Olympus would consider weak; he scared easily, and was one of the least confrontational people you'd ever meet. Grover wasn't really about that life like the rest of them were, but he had been raised on the estate just like Percy and all the other guys, and they all went to efforts to look out for their friend over the years. That was what no one understood about Percy and his friends. Outsiders branded them as reckless, violent thugs, and there were definitely times when they deserved to be labeled that way, but they weren't all bad all the time. When they needed each other, they came through, no matter what it was; it really was like an extra family.

After turning a corner for what felt like the tenth time that morning, Percy finally arrived outside the correct room. Just like everything else in this school, the door was grey, and it's small window showed a picture of a full class already seated, a small woman standing at the whiteboard. Percy paused. This was his final chance, he could run right now. He could leave the school and head straight back to the estate. No doubt Nico was skipping school, he usually did nowadays. They could hang together, and Percy could sack off this eerie grey prison and kick back for the rest of the year, maybe start working for his father right away. But then, Percy thought about his mother's reaction, disappointment no doubt, and then his father's, obviously fury. Just like Mr. D, Percy knew he didn't want to face that, and disappointing his mother would almost be worse. He knew he put her through hell with worry some nights, and every time felt worse than the last. To then pile flunking school on top of all her other worries would be plain cruel. Then he remembered Mr. D's words, his apparent confidence in Percy to survive at this school. A small part of him wanted to see if the principal was right, not so much to please the man, but to really see for himself. He'd handled much tougher situations than this before, after all, he was an Olympian. So with that knife lodged deep down in his pocket, out of his reach and out of his mind, Percy confidently knocked, before pushing the door open and walking into class.

Chapter 2

Chapter Text


"Annabeth, get up! I won't say it again." Frederick Chase's impatient voice echoed through the halls of the house, aggressively breaking the comfortable morning silence. Annabeth slowly raised her head, not quite ready to wipe the sleep from her eyes just yet, as she gazed at the bright numbers on her digital alarm clock. 6:07. She groaned, knowing that she had a mere three more minutes before the shrill beeping of the alarm clock went off again. She very wearily began to shift herself up into a sitting position, stretching and wiping her eyes, blinking as she took in her familiar surroundings. She was sure she'd been having the most pleasant dream, but for the life of her she couldn't remember what it had been about.

"I'm up!" She yelled back, then yawned, "I'm up." The second time was too quiet for anyone else to hear, that one was Annabeth talking to herself, a habit she had. She was usually a great one for getting up as soon as her alarm clock went off, but today was different. It was after all, the first day of school; no teenager, no matter how studious they may be, looked forward to going back to school. She'd allowed herself a few extra minutes indulgence today, knowing she would be back into her normal routine in no time. As she slowly raised herself out of her warm, comfortable king size bed, she gazed out of her window at the sun rising. The brilliant yellow and orangey colour landed softly on the ground, covering everything she laid her eyes on, making the morning dew shine. Annabeth stared for a minute, pondering the last time that she'd seen a sunrise, and one this beautiful at that. Plenty of sunsets, but never sunrises.

"Annabeth-" Her father walked in briskly, already dressed in his smart shirt and trousers, a tie hanging over his shoulder. He was balding, but still had enough blonde hair left on his head to hide it reasonably well, and had kind brown eyes behind his glasses. "-oh, you're up. Well then…" He said, expectantly, "Get showered and dressed." Then gave Annabeth a look, one that she knew all too well. He was in a rush today, and she didn't want to make his day any more stressful. Her father was the Vice President of a major New York University, and she knew that it took its toll on him; since accepting the post six years ago he seemed to have aged by twenty, far from the sprightly, happy-go-lucky man she remembered as a child. Still very loving, but constantly busy. Annabeth groggily made her way to the bathroom, passing the twins' room on the way. Her twin brothers, Bobby and Matthew, were still sleeping, waking up at the crack of dawn really wasn't their kind of vibe, but they had their first day of high school today, so she knew her father wouldn't let them lie about much longer. Once in the bathroom, she locked the door, stripped down and entered the shower.

The second the hot water hit her body she knew that it had been worth getting out of bed this morning. The shower was pure bliss. Water trickled over her curves and dampened her curly blonde hair. This was the perfect way to start her morning, reinvigorating her tired body with comfort. For Annabeth, the shower was a retreat, a sanctuary, a place where no one could interrupt or bother her. It was relaxing beyond anything else in the world. Sometimes she would use the time to think, and sometimes she would use the time to escape her thoughts, to turn off her brain and just relish the feeling of the hot water on her soft skin, practically meditating. She would throw in the occasional happy phrase, speaking to no one but herself.

She would've stayed there all day if she could, but she didn't have all day, and after what must've been pushing fifteen minutes, Annabeth finished up in the shower, before getting out and wiping the mist from the mirror. Then she grabbed a towel and began to dry off, starting with her legs, and slowly working her way up to her hair. If Annabeth was being honest with herself, as she stared into the mirror, she loved her luscious blonde curls. Everyone saw those curls and immediately thought of Annabeth Chase. But also looking into the mirror, she saw a feature that she didn't care for so much – her striking grey eyes, something that she had inherited from her mother. At times, she would look at herself and feel that her eyes could look quite nice, but more often than not, she felt that they were dull, colourless and unexciting. It didn't help that they reminded her of her mother too, never feeling like something unique to her. She quickly brushed her teeth, wrapped the towel around her body and headed back to her room.

"Bathroom's free!" she shouted as she passed the twins' room. They didn't respond, but she heard bickering going behind the door and decided they could manage for themselves.

As she re-entered her room, she threw off her towel started to pull out clothes, dressing herself in the usual collection of designer jeans and tops she wore. Sitting down at her vanity mirror to do her makeup, Annabeth thought about the day ahead of her and the friends she would be reunited with. She couldn't wait to see Thalia again, who had been away for practically the entire duration of the holidays. Annabeth herself had been in Italy for a month, staying with her Aunt and Uncle. Thalia was her oldest and best friend, had been since day one of Kindergarten, and despite their extremely different personalities, they saw each other as sisters. Thalia was into punk style and dark colours, Annabeth dressed rather more modestly in comparison; still in expensive designer clothes mind, she did like looking her best, but nowhere near as outrageous. Like all best friends, they didn't let these differences get in the way of their bond. It had been so long since Annabeth had seen her, and she'd been containing her excitement for the past week.

She thought of their other best friend, Silena Beauregard. Silena's mother had taken her away globetrotting, and it had been even longer since the three of them had all been a trio. Silena was one of the only girls Annabeth would readily admit to being less attractive than. She was an unbelievably beautiful, fun-loving party girl, who always had a pointless fashion tip to give you. Like Thalia, Annabeth had been friends with Silena since Elementary School. The three of them, with their apparent confidence and fun-loving nature, had integrated themselves with cliques all over the school, and although they liked to consider themselves above such labels (not entirely it had to said), they were easily considered the most popular girls in their year-group, and now, as new Seniors, in the school. As a trio they felt strong, confident, supported, damn near invincible. The start of the year was always a joyous reunion, and with this being their final year, finally seniors after three long years, it was bound to feel that extra bit special.

Of course, they weren't the only people she was looking forward to seeing. Among the various other friends in their main group, there was also Luke, her boyfriend. It was your typical, clichéd 'school Quarterback, popular blonde' romance, the type good-looking jocks always have in teen movies and TV shows before they meet the shy new girl. They'd been dating on and off for the entirety of high school, but it had been 'on' for its longest period to date, approaching 9 months. Gods, had it really been three quarters of a year already? A smirk spread across Annabeth's face as she thought about seeing him later, not that she hadn't seen him in the holidays. No, Annabeth had made sure she saw quite a bit of Luke while she'd been around. The smirk grew into a smile grew as she recalled one time, when they had had his house all to themselves, and-

"NO I GET TO USE IT FIRST!" Her brothers' argument over who got to use the bathroom first broke her train of thought from that particularly nice memory. With them now up and awake, Annabeth took one last quick glance in the mirror at her choice of clothes, a pair of designer jeans that hugged her waist, and a simple t-shirt that was low cut enough for her liking, but not so low cut that her parents would throw a fit and make her change. Then again, she highly doubted that they'd notice this morning. Make up all done, she grabbed her school bag, obviously made the night before, and slammed her door shut as she ventured off to find breakfast.

As she made her way into the large, expensive modern kitchen, the smell of fresh coffee hit her nose. She instantly walked over to the coffee maker and poured herself a cup. There was nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to start your day; that was Annabeth's motto, or one of them anyway. She made her way over to the fruit bowl and picked up an apple. Just as she took a large, crunchy bite, in walked her mother, dressed smartly and tapping away at her phone furiously, paying little attention to anything else.

"Hey mom." Annabeth said, tentatively. She was never sure what kind of mood her mother would be in. "Sleep well last night?"

It took Athena a few seconds to acknowledge that Annabeth had even talked.

"Yes, well." She replied, curtly. Annabeth sighed. I guess she's in one of those moods today, she thought to herself.

Athena Chase was one of America's leading architects. Her successful business and workaholic attitude meant big money for the Chase household, but it also meant that she was rarely around to actually spend time with them. Combine that with the fact that Frederick Chase never took a day off, it meant that Annabeth pretty much lived by herself half the time, apart from her brothers of course. Athena was a tall, elegant woman, with long flowing black hair, which was pulled into a tight ponytail today, and the same piercing grey eyes that Annabeth had. Annabeth felt that they looked much more intimidating on her mother. Just then, Athena put the phone down and turned to face her daughter, those grey eyes making contact with Annabeth's own matching pair. Athena always looked like she was about to start a staring contest with you, and not one she would lose either.

"Are you ready for school?" Athena asked. There was very little interest in her voice.

"Uh, yeah…" Annabeth answered. "Yeah everything's… everything's ready." Why did she get so nervous around her mother? It was as if she was afraid of messing up in front of her. Maybe she thought that if she was perfect, her mother's eyes would show an emotion other than boredom or frustration, or maybe her glare would be slightly less intense.

"Annabeth, this is your final year of school. That means you must work harder than you've ever worked before." Athena said, matter-of-factly.

"But mom, I already work-" Annabeth was cut off.

"Harder than you've ever worked before." She repeated, slower this time. "It's for your own future, your own benefit." Annabeth wanted to scream out loud, she'd heard this same spiel so many times throughout her high school life. She already worked harder than anyone else just attempting to live up to her mother's high expectations, she wasn't sure how much more she could be doing. She never pushed Bobby and Matthew like this.

"Honey, lay off a bit, eh?" her father said as he walked into the room. "It's her first day back. She knows how important this year is, don't you Annie?" He turned to Annabeth, with his eyebrows raised. Annabeth nodded slightly, grateful to him for taking her side.

"Good, now come and give your dad a hug" He held out his arms, and Annabeth got up and embraced him. She had always been more of a daddy's girl, and Frederick Chase was the best father she could've asked for. She just wished he wasn't always working so much, often missing the times they used to spend together when she was younger, just the two of them bonding as father and daughter.

"No matter what happens this year, we'll always love you Annie, you know that right?" He softly whispered in her ear, loud enough so only she could hear it.

"I know." Annabeth wasn't so sure she believed her own words though. She didn't even want to imagine her mother's reaction if she didn't get the best possible grades come June.

"Okay, I'm off. Bye boys!" Frederick shouted up the stairs. They shouted back down, sounding like they were in the middle of another one of their sibling scuffles, as Fred turned to Annabeth.

"Make sure your brothers are ready to leave soon okay, don't let them make you late." Annabeth nodded, she'd agreed (somewhat begrudgingly) to drive her brothers to school, at least for the first few weeks. She wasn't exactly happy about it, but she knew it was appreciated by her folks.

"Okay, bye sweetie" her father said, as he kissed her forehead gently. He smiled encouragingly, and it warmed her heart just a tiny bit. "Have a great day." Just as he was about to turn around and out of the door, Annabeth called out

"I love you dad." It wasn't something she often said to her parents, but she just wanted to make sure he know this morning.

"I love you too." He said without hesitation, a huge grin still covering his face. Then he left the room and made his way to the front door, off to work until what would likely be late in the evening.

"I'm off too," Athena had been tapping away while the two had been talking, paying no mind to what was happenig, and now marched towards the door. "Remember what I said." She didn't even look at Annabeth as she walked past her.

"Love you mom…" Annabeth said, timidly, as if she was scared of the reply.

"Me too" Athena responded, emotionlessly, not even turning to look back before she walked out of the door.

Silence engulfed the room. Annabeth was left on her own, with an empty cup of coffee and a half eaten apple. She pondered her mother's reply. 'Me too.' Annabeth had always assured herself that her mother did love her, and only had a hard time showing it. But that reply, the detached, blank, curt words had sent her insecurities into overdrive. At least she had replied, she thought, she hadn't walked out without saying a word. But a nagging voice at the back of her head pestered her, reminding her that her mother hadn't actually said the crucial words. Annabeth tried to recall the last time her mother had even said that she loved her. 'Surely, it goes without saying a mother loves her daughter, right?' Annabeth questioned herself, asking no one in particular. Suddenly, she felt a tear on her cheek. She hadn't even noticed it coming, or felt the emotion that normally came with crying. Furiously, she wiped it away; Annabeth Chase does not cry. Annabeth Chase does not need anyone else's approval.

She was broken out of her thoughts by the twins, who burst into the kitchen arguing at a hundred miles an hour about some video game. Matthew and Bobby Chase were the spitting image of one another. Sometimes, with twins, you could always tell one apart from the other, whether it be down to a tiny feature, their haircut or even the way they spoke and acted. That was not the case with the Chase twins. They had the same haircut, they talked in the same way, they liked the same things; the pair did absolutely everything together. Annabeth was their sister, and even she had moments when she had to double-check who was who. She wondered if her parents ever had that problem, after all, they didn't see an awful lot of them. Annabeth had been more present in the boy's lives than their parents had. She thought about what kind of effect that would have on them. As much as she wished that her parents were around more, she did have lots of memories of them around from when she was younger. Her brothers, on the other hand, didn't. seven years ago, when her father had received the promotion to Vice-Principal, meaning both of her parents were around even less, Annabeth had been ten, but her brothers were only seven. The majority of their memories were missing Frederick and Athena Chase. She never spoke to her brothers about it; she didn't even know if they were upset or frustrated or just plain didn't care.

The pair went straight for the cereal cupboard, pouring out huge bowls of sugary treats. They turned and look at their sister as they munched away.

"You both got your bags ready?" she asked, watching them nod in response. "Okay, well I want to be gone quickly so make sure you brush your teeth after that and we can get going. Bobby went to speak, no doubt to complain, but with a mouthful of cereal it sounded more like 'dwah-wah-hah-tuh'.

"Don't eat with your mouth closed" she scolded him in response, hating how much like a parent she sounded. Then again, with her parents out at work so much, she had often had to be their parent, making them do their homework and putting dinner in front of them many nights. It meant she often felt like she was missing out on a proper sibling relationship with them, too often having to be the one telling them what to do. Now she was even driving them to school, just like a real parent would. Annabeth was getting a crash course in motherhood free of charge. Both twins finally finished and began washing their bowls.

"Can we both sit in the back seat?" Bobby asked, sounding excited.

"Only if you don't hit each other", Annabeth replied. Too often car rides with them descended into irritating play fighting, the type only toddlers do. They may have been teens now, but that didn't stop them.

"We'll hit each other even if one's in the front" Matthew joked back, causing Annabeth to smile. If she was overly bossy with them, they clearly didn't resent it. They were very rarely in a bad mood, even if she was nagging them, which Annabeth appreciated.

The twins ran upstairs to brush their teeth for all of about thirty seconds, before standing ready and waiting with their schoolbags by the door. Annabeth walked out of the house, grabbing her bag on the way, and they followed obediently, before rushing towards the car. Annabeth pressed the lock on her fob, locked the front door and made her way to the driver's side. Before she knew it she was speeding off towards a new school year with old school friends. At that moment in time, she was completely oblivious to just how life-changing this year was going to be.

As her red Porsche pulled up to the school car park, she checked herself in the mirror one last time, making sure her makeup and hair were just right. The boys exited from the back having bickered all the way, although thankfully kept the pushing to a minimum. Annabeth got out of the car gracefully, or as gracefully as one can with your two younger brothers with you, and locked the doors.

"Right, you both know where you're going?" she asked, watching as they took in their new surroundings.

"Yeah," Matthew replied, "they want us in the gym for some assembly."

"We can find our way there," Bobby chipped in, both clearly eager to get going, no doubt looking for mischief somewhere.

"Alright, meet me back here after school" she said, although they didn't look to be listening anymore. They said their goodbyes and the brothers ran off too quickly for Annabeth to tell them the gym was in the other direction. Oh well, they'd get there in the end. Turning, she made her way through the school gate, walking with a confidence that was the complete opposite of the Annabeth who had been craving her mother's approval earlier that morning. She'd gotten to school early, seeing very few students roaming the hallways yet. She always liked to be early to school, as strange as that may sound for a teenager. She enjoyed the minutes of peace before the storm of the day, and before all of her friends arrived. It was nothing against them; it was just a habit she'd become fond of over time.

She made her way to her locker, in the usual spot round the corner from the history hallway. As she unlocked it and opened the door, she gazed at the collection of pictures that adorned the inside. Lots of them were with Thalia and Silena, ranging from their time at Elementary School all the way up to a few months ago, as well as pictures with some of the other girls. Then, of course, there was a picture of her and Luke, taken at a house party he'd had for his last birthday. The night had gotten pretty wild by that point, and Luke had a cut above his eye, the result of some silly game they'd decided to play with kitchen knives and all the fruit in the house. Still, they looked happy together, and it always made Annabeth smile when she remembered that night.

Taking in the few more minutes before her friends no doubt found her, Annabeth thought back to that morning conversation with her mother. Now she was in school, her confidence felt higher, and she resolved that she was going to make this year her best academically (which was saying something), even if simply to prove to her mother that she could. When she was here, in her world, she could accomplish anything. She'd also had time to think on the last part of their chat, and the word that hadn't been said. She'd decided in the drive to school, as her brothers bickered in the backseats, that she wouldn't worry about it too much. Her mom was already in her work mindset, she'd probably been working on some plans in her head, not even paying full attention. Annabeth was sure it was no big deal. Besides, they hardly a family that talked like that to each other anyway, she was reading too much into it. That's what she was telling herself at least.

After putting her books in her locker, she shut the door, and as if on cue, she saw her friends turning the corner. As soon as Annabeth's grey eyes met with Thalia's electric blue ones, she broke into a huge smile, one that Thalia matched. It felt so good to finally see her after so long.

"I missed you so much!" Thalia practically shouted as she walked up and wrapped her best friend in a hug. It made Annabeth laugh with delight.

"You look amazing." she exclaimed, "I see that the Caribbean sun was kind to you." Underneath her punk clothes, Thalia definitely had her summer tan still going strong. When they were younger Thalia had always been pale, like you'd imagine a stereotypical punk girl to be, but years of exotic holidays had gotten her quickly used to sun-worshiping.

"I could say the same about you." Thalia replied, still clutching her best friend's arm. "How was Italy?"

"Ooh, yeah, how was Italy Annabeth? Meet anyone… interesting?" Silena waltzed on up from behind Thalia, looking as fashionable as ever. Dressed in head to toe Chanel, she could've just arrived from the runway. Long, luscious brown hair fell elegantly over her shoulders, and her big brown doe eyes had beautiful little spots of green and blue within them, often giving the impression that her eyes changed colour. There was something kaleidoscopic about gazing into them, and they always had a twinkle. She sauntered casually over, a suggestive smile on her face as she embraced her friend.

"Oh how I missed your prying ears!" Annabeth smiled sarcastically, hugging her tight.

"I'm serious!" Silena asserted back, her smile never wavering. "I've waited this whole summer to hear your sordid holiday stories. Both of you! You know I can't get up to anything like that, so I have to live vicariously through you. What kind of a friend would deny me that?" she could be very persistent when gossip was involved. Annabeth would bet Silena heard about absolutely everything that went on at Goode, people just had a habit of opening up to her, she didn't even need to try that hard. They probably just lost their wits while staring into her eyes, which still hadn't broken from Annabeth's.

"I also have a boyfriend, which you know," Annabeth reminded her, laughing. The look on Silena's face remained unchanged; she could smell when Annabeth was lying. She raised an eyebrow inquisitively. "Besides," Annabeth added cheekily, "I don't kiss and tell." This caused Silena's eyes to light up with glee as she nodded her head, a look of recognition passing between the two.

"Oh you so did." Thalia chuckled as she put her books in her own locker.

"Seriously Annie, what was his name? Was it Paulo? Ooh I bet it was Luca!" Silena was like a dog with a bone now. She wouldn't be able to rest until she knew it all. Just as Annabeth was about to answer, she saw Luke out of the corner of her eye.

"I'll have to take a rain check on this conversation" she said, nodding behind her. Thalia saw too and sniggered to herself. Annabeth felt a little bad, but there was no way she was going to tell him. After all, what Luke didn't know wouldn't hurt him, right?

Luke was dressed in tight fitting clothes that showed off his muscles, and was flanked by their usual group of friends. It was some of the boys he played with on the football team, walking along with some of the other girls from their grade, Katie, Rachel and Piper. They all began greeting the three girls, and Silena was immediately extracting holiday stories from them like a vacuum cleaner.

"Hello Miss Chase, I must say you're looking marvelous, how are you on this fine morning?" Luke asked, talking with a silly posh accent. For as talented and good looking as Luke was, he had an awkward sense of humour. The only time Annabeth laughed at Luke's jokes was when they were so bad it was literally laughable. But he was sweet enough most of the time, and she decided to play along.

"I'm wonderful Mr. Castellan, yourself?" she smiled despite the awkwardness, although if this were to become a regular joke she would definitely have to have some words with him.

"Better now I've seen you. How was Italy?" He asked as he wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. She was reminded he could be charming when he wanted to be. Annabeth had seen Luke a lot before she went away, but not at all since she had gotten back the previous week.

"Oh, y'know, fun. I had a good time, met some great people." Annabeth grinned as she recalled her previous conversation with Silena. Silena herself, ever the eavesdropper, was trying to hide her amusement from Luke, and Thalia was just looking at him as if he was the dumbest person in the world. But Luke apparently, was oblivious to this, as he said-

"Well I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, you deserved break."

"Yeah, I did, didn't I?" She pulled him in closer for a cuddle, and gave Silena a sly wink that Luke couldn't see. At that, Silena couldn't hold her laughter in anymore, which of course set Thalia off. Even Annabeth couldn't help but laugh along. Poor Luke was left standing by them, a very confused look on his face.

"What's so funny?" He asked.

"Nothing baby, nothing." Annabeth said reassuringly, stroking his arm lightly. "Just some girly jokes you probably would get." Luke, ever the hyper-masculine jock, seemed satisfied with this answer. Annabeth turned her attention from him and back to her best friends.

"Well I don't know about you but I've got a wonderful chemistry lesson to get to" she said in a sarcastic tone.

"I think I'm with you for Mrs. Dodds second period" Silena groaned, not that she needed to remind Annabeth. Mrs. Dodds was that teacher every school had, the one that took pleasure in torturing kids with endless boredom and constant punishments. Being subjected to her on the first day back should've amounted to a war crime. Just as they were about to walk off, she felt Luke pull at her arm lightly.

"Can we talk for a minute? He asked, his voice hushed.

"Sure, I'll see you guys later" she called as the girls made their way to class. Annabeth moved closer to Luke, one foot just through his legs as he wrapped both hands lightly around her elbows. "So what do you want to talk about then?" She asked quietly.

"I missed you." That was all he said. He moved his face closer to hers, but she moved away, smiling.

"Luke, we'll be late for class." She joked with him. She could feel his hands on her back now, and moving further down. They reached the hem of her shirt and began brushing it lightly.

"Luke?..." Annabeth was enjoying the attention, but she really didn't want to be late on the very first day of the year, that would be an awful look for someone trying to achieve greatness. She could practically feel her mother's disappointment radiating from her office miles away.

"What?" He asked innocently, "I said I missed you…" And then he pressed his lips to hers. It was sweet, but felt slightly aggressive. Now really wasn't the time. She kissed back, and after about five seconds she pulled away, still smiling. Luke's hands were now lower than her shirt.

"I missed you too, but I really can't be late for class. It's literally the first lesson of the year," she said, unwinding herself from his arms. "I'll see you at Lunch, okay?"

"Okay." Luke sounded disappointed, and looked it too as he turned and trudged off to his class. With that, Annabeth began the brisk walk down the hallway. She whizzed round a few turns before finding her destination, entering Mr. White's chemistry lab just as the bell rang to begin the day.

"I hope you don't intend to cut it that close all year," Mr. White said wryly as she passed him and sat down in the front row. It made her smile, she knew she was one of his favourite students, but she also promised herself she wouldn't let it happen again.

Mr. White's lesson passed by quickly, mostly spent just going over what they'd be looking at throughout the year. It was a whole hour of uninterrupted focus as Annabeth wrote down just about everything her teacher said. By the time the bell rung for second period, her hand was already sore. She considered it breaking it back in again after the long summer, after all, she'd have her work cut out for her if she were to improve on last year. She speedily weaved through the hallways, making sure she wouldn't be late for Mrs. Dodds math lesson. No one ever dared to be tardy with her; she would rip a student to shreds in front of the whole class remorselessly, and doled out detentions like they were going out of fashion. Turning the corner, she saw the open door and entered the drab, grey classroom. She was well on time, thank the gods. Finding an empty seat in between Silena and Rachel Dare, the only two of her friends in this class, Annabeth slid down to the plain brown school desk and pulled out her textbook.

Mrs. Dodds sat at a desk at the front of the room, looking as miserable as ever. She was small, 50 something and always had a scowl on her face. Her features often resembled those of a bat, and she had a tendency to wear all black, which didn't help her dispel the image. There were always rumors among the younger students that she actually was a bat, and that she slept hanging upside-down in her classroom at night, which honestly wouldn't have been surprising. Her thin glasses sat on the end of her bony nose, and must've given her super vision, because she was known throughout Goode for being able to spot the most miniscule acts of misbehavior in her classroom.

"Okay class," she spoke in a raspy voice, polite but in a very passive-aggressive tone, "remember where you are seated because that's where you will stay. Any problems and I will move you where I like. Now turn to page four of your new textbooks and answer questions one to eight in silence." She emphasized the last two words. It was well known that Mrs. Dodds classroom was as quiet as a morgue, and any who broke it would quickly be called out and berated. It often felt like her words bordered on bullying, and Annabeth wasn't entirely sure why or how the woman was still employed, but she'd been around as long as anybody could remember, and she never seemed to be called up on it. It was very likely that as long as her class got good results the school simply looked the other way, and she certainly did that. Students were far too afraid to fail and face her, so most just studied as hard as they could, even if they didn't for any other class.

She was halfway through question six, further than anyone else, when a knock at the door broke the heavy silence. Mrs. Dodds' piercing eyes shot up from whatever she had been doing. Suddenly, the sound of pens on paper stopped, as everyone looked up at the door that had just swung wide open. A tall, relatively well built boy was standing in the doorway, with messy black hair sticking up all over his head, and deep sea green eyes. He wasn't a student Annabeth had seen before, and from the looks of him, he didn't look like the type of kid you usually saw at Goode. His stance was tougher, not at ease in the slightest, his face scowling ever so slightly. Most kids at Goode were pretty carefree, but as this boy walked into the room he looked anything but. Mrs. Dodds' had a look of almost joy, like she was delighted one person had decided to push her buttons on the first day back, and only the second lesson.

"Who, may I ask, are you and why are you late?" she sounded annoyed, as usual.

"I was with the Principal," the boy responded, looking standoffish. Everyone in the room was watching this exchange with fascination. "I'm a new student, Percy Jackson."

Chapter 3

Chapter Text


"I was with the Principal," Percy said. As he stood in front of everyone, he was very aware of every eye in the room looking straight at him. The teacher in front of him, Mrs. Dodds, looked even meaner than Mr. D had, staring at him with an almost malicious glare. He never broke eye contact with the short, bat-like woman, completely unafraid. At Yancy, the governors had resorted to employing some former army instructors as teachers to instill discipline, or people who had experiences educating felons. You had to be tough to last as a teacher there, this little old woman in this cosy private school would be no bother whatsoever. "I'm the new kid, Percy Jackson."

"Well Mr. Jackson, from now on you will be on time to every single one of my lessons, is that clear?" She barked, a restrained anger lacing her every word. Percy stared at her, not sure how to respond. But before he could, Mrs. Dodds carried on.

"Not one minute late, not five minutes late, and certainly not," she paused to look at her watch, "eleven minutes late, as you are right now! Now I will ask again, is that clear, Mr. Jackson?" She said his name with such disdain any onlooker would've guessed that she had hated this boy for years, despite the fact that she had only just met him. Her brown eyes were practically glowing with disgust through her glasses.

"Yes." Percy replied, flatly. He wasn't trying to get into any sort of trouble on his first day, he'd just assumed they'd be lenient with a new student, he had gotten pretty lost in the seemingly endless maze of grey hallways. However, it seemed that his simple response was not enough for Mrs. Dodds, as she moved closer to him.

"Yes… what? Didn't your mother ever teach you to address the person you're talking to?" She asked quietly, but with menace in her voice, much more than was normal for a high school teacher to have when talking to a student. She said 'mother' with such disdain that it could only be seen as a personal insult, like it was beneath her to even mention someone like that. It set the anger deep inside him bubbling, his mom was off-limits, no one went there.

Percy knew Mrs. Dodds' game; she was one of those sneaky teachers, the really nasty ones who took pleasure in pushing your buttons until you lashed out, just so they could punish you for it. Percy knew she was goading him, but it was working; he was really suppressing the urge to spew some words at her that would certainly land him in some serious shit. He had never been the type of person to give in to bullies and right now, Mrs. Dodds was singling him out for the simple fact that she could; she had power over him so she might as well use it. Just as he was about to let loose his pent up anger, no doubt ending himself up in detention in the process, he remembered back to his conversation with Mr. D, about how he would not have any behavior issues. He guessed that calling a teacher what he had been planning on calling her, and the moment he walked into his very first lesson no less, would definitely fall under that category. He remembered his commitment only a few minutes before, that he would stay out of trouble; he'd feel pretty stupid if he couldn't even last an hour. Reluctantly, he swallowed his anger, as well as his pride.

"Yes, Mrs. Dodds…" He chose to say, speaking just as quietly as she had, although still clearly unhappy. God, what would his friends think of him? Choosing to avoid a confrontation instead of standing up for himself. And what about his father? Would he be proud to see Percy like this? After all, he had sent Percy here, surely this was how he wanted it? No; Percy felt Poseidon was much more likely to share the opinion of his friends. 'Always stand up for yourself.' Wasn't that something he told Percy once? The eyes of every student boring into the back of him suddenly felt ten times stronger. Way to make a first impression.

"Sit down Mr. Jackson." Mrs. Dodds shrill voice interrupted his thoughts. "Page four, questions one to eight."

Percy suddenly realised that he had been standing; staring into space for a few seconds, and was very aware that everyone in the class was looking at him. He could practically see the instantaneous judgment in their eyes that often goes hand in hand with high school, and kids with money. They looked well dressed, well groomed, and slightly confused as to why this rough looking teenager was in their classroom right now. Quickly, he looked around for an empty seat and found one at the very back of the class. Perfect. He was happy to sit as far away from that psycho teacher as possible, and away from the eyes of his new peers.

As he sat down and opened the textbook laid out on his desk, he examined the classroom more closely. Mrs. Dodds seemed to have a 'Most Boring Classroom in the World' contender. Like everything else in this school, the bare walls were a dark shade of grey, with only the farthest one having a whiteboard on it. It didn't help that the windows barely let in any light, and blinds were turned almost all the way down. It brought to mind images of interrogation rooms from detective films and TV shows, all it needed was a single bare lightbulb hanging down from the middle of the ceiling. Percy turned his gaze from the boring classroom to the boring math questions in front of him. From the feel of the room, no one was even remotely considering messing around, so in the absence of anything entertaining he figured he might as well take a look. Page four, question one. Apparently they were polynomials, whatever the hell those were. This lesson was going to be a long one.

Working through the questions was a struggle, and in 30 minutes, he managed to reach question four, although he wasn't certain of what he was reading or whether his answers were even right. Mrs. Dodds had kept quiet for almost the entire lesson, and no one, literally not one student, had raised their hands to ask a question. Either they were all super smart, or all scared to death of their teacher; Percy got the feeling it was the latter. Then, with ten minutes to go, Mrs. Dodds stood up, took out a whiteboard pen, and proceeded to write down an equation on the board. As she slowly turned to the class, her eyes slightly narrowed, as if she was preparing for an old fashioned cowboy shoot-out. Percy was beginning to wonder what type of teachers Mr. D hired here at Goode.

"Right class, eyes forward. Now, if X cubed add X squared subtract five X add three equals zero, what is X? [x3+x2−5x+3=0]. Percy heard everyone quickly scribbling down his or her working out. He however, had no idea what Mrs. Dodds had even said. Math just went in one ear and out the other.

"Right, who has the answer?" Mrs. Dodds asked the class. A few hands went up. "Let's see…" Percy saw her lock her predator-like gaze onto his. Shit.

"Mr. Jackson, do you have the answer?" She feigned politeness, but this time he was having none of it. He had regained his composure after their earlier standoff once he had sat down, and quickly remembered that with teachers like Mrs. Dodds, once you knew their tricks they couldn't do anything to you. Show you weren't scared of their tactics and they didn't know what to do. He could still talk back without being rude, and Percy reckoned that students here so rarely talked back to her that it might just catch the old hag off guard.

"No, Mrs. Dodds, I don't" He said loudly. He wanted her to know that he knew her game. He was guilty of many things in the past, but he had always stood up to bullies, and this woman was a textbook case.

"Now honey, why is that?" He could see that she was enjoying this, but Percy wouldn't just give her the satisfaction. His reply was laced with the same passive aggressive politeness that she was trying to throw at him.

"Because I couldn't work it out. You see, I've never been taught how to. Honestly, I blame the teacher." At that last part, her smile faltered, and her eyes hardened. Percy could feel the tension rising in the room. Most other students were looking down, scared to make eye contact. Percy on the other hand, kept his cool composure.

"You're blaming me?" Mrs. Dodds questioned, as if to double check what she had heard. Her voice was cold and steely, her eyes locked firmly on their target. The whole class was holding its breath, no one even daring to turn around and look at him, as if the slightest movement might shift Mrs. Dodds focus on to them. In fact, none of them were looking at Mrs. Dodds either, they were just staring blankly at their desks, waiting for Percy's response. Yeah, this was definitely not a school used to behavior like this. Now it was Percy's turn to have some fun.

"Oh, oh no," he responded, acting innocent, "no, you… you thought I was blaming you?" he chuckled lightly, his laugh echoing around the silent room and causing the old girl's nostrils to flare up. "I don't even know you. I was blaming the teachers from my old school. You see Mrs. Dodds, I was a student at Yancy High School, not got the greatest rep, as you probably know. I always felt one of the reasons for that was because, well, they didn't have very good math teachers, not like you. You may be the best teacher I've ever wasted time in a class of. You know, my father always says that you can tell a lot about a school by the quality of its math teachers, and if you're anything to go by, I think I'm gonna love it here." Percy finished, his little speech delivered in that same slightly mocking polite tone.

Now Percy didn't think the tension could increase, but he was wrong. This wasn't tension you could cut with a simple knife, you'd need a machete, or a chainsaw, or a samurai sword, like Butch from Pulp Fiction. He had expected Mrs. Dodds to explode, to go into a fury, to transform into one of the Devil's minions and eat him, but instead, she just stared at him, the gleeful expression gone from her face, her eyes never leaving his. She looked slightly shell-shocked, as if she were still trying to register what she'd just heard. He had thrown something her way that she clearly hadn't planned for, something no student probably ever threw back at her, and she genuinely didn't know how to respond. Percy knew he had won this round. Slowly, she turned her eyes away from him and back to the front of the room.

"Does anyone else have the correct answer to the question?" Her voice sounded much quieter than it had previously been. It faltered ever so slightly, as if she was holding back unrequited rage. Three rows in front of Percy, a girl with blonde curly hair raised her hand. Percy looked at her for a second; she seemed to be the only student who wasn't afraid right now, with her head held up high. She oozed confidence, Percy somewhat admired that.

"Yes, Annabeth?" Mrs. Dodds pointed to her

"X can equal one, or negative three." She answered.

"Correct, well done."

The class sat in silence for a minute, Mrs. Dodds clearly unwilling to say another word, lest she explode with rage. Eventually the bell sounded, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Much to Percy's surprise however, the class didn't move, they looked as if they were waiting for something. Mrs. Dodds saw this too, and answered Percy's unasked question.

"No homework today." She said quietly, still sounding furious, before throwing one last menacing look at Percy. With that, everyone stood up; looking slightly surprised by the whole 'no homework' thing. As people began filing into the hallway on the way to his or her next lesson, Percy lagged behind. Mrs. Dodds was still looking at him, her eyes burrowing into his. He broke eye contact, feeling uncomfortable, and as he moved his gaze from Mrs. Dodds dark eyes, he met another pair, a pair of piercing grey eyes, eyes that gave the impression a swirling, impending storm. Percy then realized to whom they belonged; the blonde girl, the one who answered the question. The only one in the whole class who hadn't been nervous or afraid of Mrs. Dodds, What was her name again? Annabelle? No, Annabeth. That was it. As Percy looked at her, he realized that she was beautiful. Stunning. Striking. Neither broke the eye contact. Percy watched as Annabeth's lips moved slightly, but her stare remained unwavering. She had a curious look, like she was examining a work of art in a museum. It didn't make Percy uncomfortable though, quite the contrary actually. He felt just an intrigued as she seemed to be; who was this girl? Was she really as supremely confident as she seemed when she raised her hand, or simply a bit too brainy for her own good? He smiled slightly, unsure quite how to act in a situation like this. In that one second, Percy could've sworn he saw lightning flash across her stormy eyes. Then, like that, she was gone, walking out of the door after some girls, they must've been her friends. The whole exchange had lasted maybe ten seconds. Percy realised, and not for the first time that morning, that he was left standing like an idiot, staring into nothing. He gathered his things up and left the room, moving lethargically but not sparing Mrs. Dodds a second glance as he walked past her. Her eyes never left him, but he wasn't about to give her the satisfaction of thinking she was still on his mind. Checking his timetable, off he went down the never-ending grey hallways, in search of the history classrooms.

The rest of the morning's lessons went by pretty smoothly. Percy felt like he'd managed to avoid annoying any more of Goode's teachers, and none of them had been quite as intense as Mrs. Dodds. He noticed that this Annabeth girl was also in his History class, and judging by the amount of questions she answered correctly, he guessed that she was pretty damn clever. The whole time, she never even gave him a second glance. He wasn't sure if he expected one or not, but after that look earlier, that weird staring contest, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about her. He wondered if it meant anything, or whether he was just imagining things. After all, he was in a strange environment; his mind was liable to run wild, and she'd bolted the second he smiled, trying to be friendly. She was probably just scared of him, or something along those lines anyway.

His History teacher was an older man in a wheelchair, Mr. Brunner. He had a huge bushy brown beard and a very kind face. At first, Percy wasn't quite sure what to expect, but he seemed nice enough. He had come to the conclusion that any teacher would be better than Mrs. Dodds, as long as they left him alone at the back of the class they'd be alright in Percy's book. When Mr. Brunner introduced himself, the way he carried himself gave the impression that he was at the complete opposite end of the teacher spectrum from Mrs. Dodds.

"Percy was it? Not any relation to Perseus are you?" he asked, with a laugh. It was clearly a joke, but Percy just stood there dumbfounded, unsure of what he even meant.

"Who? Who's Perseus?" Percy replied, baffled.

"Perseus? The Greek Hero? Son of Zeus?" He quickly realized Percy did not understand the reference. Despite the Greek links to him home life, Olympus Estate and a father literally called Poseidon, researching old myths had hardly been something young kids around there did. The old teacher sighed, scratching his magnificent beard. "Never mind, take a seat please Percy. Oh, and welcome to Goode."

History was dull, as was every other lesson he sat through, always finding the most remote, secluded chair as far away from the teacher as possible. He would occasionally notice a student or two glance his way, but no one dared to speak a word to him. Finally, the bell rang for lunch. Their teacher had been in the middle of reading Shakespeare to the class, and Percy was relieved for the reprieve, because it was one of the dreariest things he'd ever suffered through listening to. At Yancy they wouldn't have even considered something so refined, and Percy's dyslexia was working overtime trying to comprehend the old English on the page in front of him.

As students were getting up, he couldn't help noticing people gathering with their group of friends, chatting, generally having a good time. Once again, he was left standing on his own like an idiot, completely isolated. It was becoming an annoying frequency today, and after years of always having a friend to be able to mess around with, it felt hollow to be so alone. He silently blamed his father for the strange sensation. At Yancy he'd had friends, he'd been comfortable, and he hadn't felt constantly out of place. Sure he hated it, but what normal teenager didn't hate school? At least it was his place to hate, not some strange place where up felt like down and nothing exciting seemed to be happening. Even the joy at talking back to Mrs. Dodds had faded the moment Mr. Brunner began to list off key figures of the Civil War, and felt like a long distant memory now. As he made his way to try and seek out his new locker (scrawled across the top of his timetable), deciding that there was no better place for him to be right now, he looked at the people he now shared a school with.

Percy could tell that these kids had it easy. It was obvious simply by looking at them, at the way they walked with their laid back, relaxed demeanor. They had no cares in the world. These were trust fund kids through and through, decked out in full designer clothes, turning up at school in their shiny Mercedes, or worse, driven by a chauffeur. Percy was surrounded by wealth he couldn't even begin to comprehend, and it began to frustrate him. They didn't understand what the real world was like, what real suffering was. Percy highly doubted that any of them had ever seen what he'd seen, experienced what he'd experienced. Had any of them watched their own mother go hungry just so her son could eat? No. Percy instantly decided he hated all of them, every single person in this school.

But then, some part of him made him think otherwise. He didn't actually know any of these people. Who was he to judge them? Was he better than them? No, he had just been ready to label them as one thing based on their class and wealth, something people had done to him his entire life. They couldn't help what social class they were born into any more than he could. But that also didn't mean they had the right to be assholes about it, and the numerous sideways glances he'd been on the end of already today suggested at least a few of them were looking down their noses at him. It was all too much for Percy to take; he needed a minute to think it through, to collect his thoughts. He reached the locker he had been assigned, and looked around. By now, the hallway was practically empty; Percy guessed everyone was outside or in the cafeteria. He was grateful for the quiet, for the moment of rest away from his new classmates. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he spotted someone walking down the hallway, a tall African American kid lugging a huge gym bag. As he turned his head, their gazes met. He looked familiar, very familiar…

"Percy?" the kid uttered in disbelief. Upon hearing his voice, it hit Percy, he recognized him.

Charles Beckendorf.

"Beckendorf?" Percy felt a smile spreading as Beckendorf suddenly took huge strides towards him, a similar grin plastered across his face.

"Holy shit, Percy Jackson! What the hell are you doing here?" Beckendorf's loud voice boomed as he and Percy embraced in a man hug. This was a strong, friendly hug. After a few seconds they parted and looked each other up and down.

"Damn man," Beckendorf said, "how long's it been?"

"Ten years, nearly." Percy replied. Beckendorf had changed a lot since Percy had last seen him. He had definitely hit a growth spurt, as he was now incredibly tall. Percy would've guessed he was around 6"5'. He was also incredibly well built, especially for a high school kid. He'd felt the size and strength of the muscles beneath his clothes when they'd hugged. If Percy didn't know him, he'd have guessed he was a college athlete. His dark hair was cut short, and he was dressed in what looked like an expensive, tight black top that really made his muscles prominent, the bag hanging comfortably over his shoulder. This was a very different kid from the Charles Beckendorf Percy remembered.

Years before, when they were both young children, Beckendorf had lived on the same estate as Percy, only a few doors down from his apartment. He'd gone to the same Elementary school as well, and hung out with Percy and Nico all the time. He'd honestly been one of Percy's best friends. There was a time when they were inseparable, but it hadn't lasted. One day, out of the blue, Beckendorf's mother left the estate and took her son with her. Percy had never been told why, his mom had just told him that's the way things were sometimes. One minute his best friend lived two doors down from him, the next he didn't. He didn't even get to say goodbye. It was years before Percy found out the truth. Beckendorf's father, Mark, was one of the many men that worked for Poseidon, and from what Percy understood, a 'job' he had been doing went badly wrong, and the police caught him. Instead of ratting out Percy's father, he kept his mouth shut and received a ten year prison sentence for First Degree Robbery, no parole. Turns out, that was the straw that broke the camel's back for Beckendorf's mom. Life was already hard at Olympus, and she knew what would happen to her son if he continued to grow up there. She moved out of the estate, divorced Mark and completely left her life behind, never looking back. The last thing anyone had heard was that she had hit the big time, remarried to some millionaire businessman and living the high life.

"So, yeah man, what are you doing here?" Beckendorf asked again.

"I'm the new student." Percy said, waving his arms around slightly, gesturing around him. "I love it here." He stated, the sarcasm not lost on Beckendorf as he laughed.

"It'll grow on you, trust me." He assured Percy. "So how'd you end up here?"

"My father suddenly decided to take an interest in my education, and decided I wouldn't 'achieve my full potential' at Yancy, or some bullshit like that." Percy explained. Beckendorf nodded understandingly.

"Yeah, I mean no offense, but your father never seemed like the type who 'took an interest'." Percy just laughed under his breath.

"You're damn right there."

"But hey man, fathers are real assholes." Beckendorf added coldly. "Especially where we come from." Percy thought about it, and the more he did, the more he agreed. On the estate, their mothers raised most of the kids, because their fathers were either absent or in jail, out trying to prove just how macho they all could be. There were kids like Grover who never had a father. He'd been raised by his Grandmother and Uncle, but even his Uncle was in jail for something. Percy realized he was one of the lucky ones, at least he saw his father, no matter how distant he was. But on the other hand, that meant Percy's father had no excuse for not connecting with his son. Percy also noted Beckendorf had referred to Olympus as his roots, it was actually pretty cool to see he hadn't forgotten everything.

"Speaking of fathers, yours is out soon, you gonna see him?" Percy asked Beckendorf. He saw him look away, before looking back. Realisation crept in as Percy recognised this was probably not a topic Beckendorf talked about much. At Olympus, it was common; almost a badge of honor to say you had a family member in jail, but he couldn't imagine high society praising Beckendorf for having an incarcerated relative, let alone your dad. He had doubts as to whether Beckendorf even shared this information with anyone else. His old friend spoke up.

"I don't know, I mean, he is my dad, but I haven't been a part of that world for years. I've got a step-dad now, Lee, he's alright I guess. I mean, he's busy all the time so he's hardly around much, but he makes my mom real happy, and he gave me a roof, and a comfortable life, so I can't really complain." Percy nodded. Then it fully hit him; he was seeing one of his best friends for the first time in nearly ten years, someone he had practically pushed to the recesses of his mind, branded as a lost friend, a long forgotten memory. He was surprised at how effortlessly they'd slipped into conversation, joking about their dads like they talked about it every day. But he knew it wasn't the Beckendorf he remembered, he was different, he was one of the rich kids now. There was a relaxed tone to his voice, a happy look in his eye, all things that Olympus beat out of you. It was all quite surreal.

"So hey man, what have you been up to the last ten years?" Percy asked, laughing slightly at the ridiculousness of the time frame. Beckendorf laughed too.

"Oh, y'know, a bit of this, a bit of that." He said, grinning. "I got really into my sports, football, basketball, baseball, even soccer. I'm looking at basketball scholarships next year." That didn't surprise Percy at all; just looking at him you could see the natural athleticism. "What about you?"

"Sports? Not my thing." Percy replied.

"No, I meant in general."

"Oh, well, you remember what the older kids were always like at Olympus?" Percy asked.


"Well there's your answer." Beckendorf nodded, understanding completely. There were few opportunities for a better future in Percy's area outside of crime, and that wasn't hardly what you'd consider a good option to begin with.

"Anyway, I was on my way to the cafeteria, you coming?" Beckendorf saw that they were nearly fifteen minutes into lunch already.

"I don't know man, I don't really know anyone-" Beckendorf cut him off.

"You know me though, you can sit with me and my friends, they're cool."

"I really don't want to intrude on anything." The idea of eating lunch with a load of rich spoiled kids didn't entice Percy, even if Beckendorf would be there. But he could also see that Beckendorf was not prepared to take no for an answer.

"Percy. You're coming with me." He said, matter-of-factly. "C'mon, at least try and make some friends, you need to." He said, pulling Percy's arm, but Percy stopped him, standing his ground.

"I have friends already." He said, his voice flat. He stared at Beckendorf, who returned the stare. He did have friends already, friends he liked, friends who understood him. He didn't need anyone telling him he should make more, that he needed to make more. Why would he want to make friends at this school anyway? Surely all the kids looked down on him, they'd just mock him. Not for the first time today, he realised he really didn't belong in this school. He felt like a fish out of water. Percy knew Beckendorf hadn't meant anything by it, but part of him was still doubtful. This kid had made no attempt to talk to him in ten years, why should they hang out now like they were still best friends?

"I know…" He said, breaking the awkward silence that had engulfed them. "I'm sorry. Look, I know we can't just immediately go back to being best buds, but we can try right?" He sounded sincere.

"Yeah, I guess." Percy said, gruffly.

"Okay, well then will you please come and have lunch with me and my friends? I'm asking you. I want you to." Percy pondered it for a moment, before nodding.

"Alright, good," a small smile crept onto Beckendorf's face, "okay, follow me. Cafeteria's this way."

They walked to the cafeteria in silence. As they got closer, the noise grew louder, until the roar of the student body was all around them. The cafeteria wasn't the biggest room ever, probably about half the size of Yancy's, but it was packed. Kids were queuing for bad school food while holding plastic trays, some were sitting at tables chatting with each other. There was a certain atmosphere that was always present in a school cafeteria, a constant buzzing energy. Different grades, social groups and circles sat with each other, usually at the same table every day. It was the center of everything in school. The place where all students went, where stories and gossip were exchanged, where people really could feel like part of a school. Percy hated it. It merely served to remind him of how little he fit in here. He was already garnering a few side glances from kids not even in his grade. Did he stand out that much, or did rumour simply spread that quickly at this place?

Beckendorf parted the crowds, and looked over to a table in the far corner, where a group of athletic looking boys were sitting, along with some attractive looking girls.

"Hey guys!" Beckendorf called over. Percy tentatively followed, feeling deeply uncomfortable. A hallway scrap at Yancy was a piece of cake compared to this.

"Where the hell have you been?" A blonde boy asked, raising an eyebrow.

"This is the new kid, Percy." He said, pointing at me. "He's actually an old friend of mine. I said he could sit with us."

Percy didn't hear any complaints, so he took that as a yes. Before he sat down, he quickly looked over the group. Scanning across the table, he saw a blonde boy, twins, a punky girl, a red head, then suddenly he saw a blonde girl. He recognized her before she turned to face him. He made contact with those stormy grey eyes, this time a small smile playing on her lips. She had been mid conversation, but her eyes ever so slowly widened; she was fully focused on Percy now.


Chapter 4

Chapter Text


Math had been one of the most interesting lessons Annabeth had ever been in, which really wasn't something she'd expected to say this morning. Usually, Mrs. Dodds conducted her lessons in complete and utter silence. She'd occasionally single out a student for some minor mistake or passing notes, but they never, ever talked back to her. Until today.

Percy Jackson.

Annabeth couldn't put her finger on it; there was just something captivating about him. She'd heard it in the way he'd talked to Mrs. Dodds; he hadn't taken any shit from her. Annabeth had been just as shocked as her teacher by the new boy's responses. Every student knew to just toke the abuse from Mrs. Dodds, that reacting would only land you in more trouble. It was just how things went. She had managed to make every student in Goode angry, scared or intimidated at one point or another. Well, every student except Annabeth, and that was mainly due to the fact that she never gave Mrs. Dodds the chance. She always made sure she had the right answer, and knew how to work out everything as quickly as possible, just in case a difficult question was thrown her way. It was a simple strategy. Mrs. Dodds picked on students who answered questions incorrectly, so if Annabeth never got a question wrong, Mrs. Dodds never had a reason to bully her. It required a lot of hard work but it had been effective for three years now. That was, after all, why she had chosen Percy. He didn't have the answer, and she probably knew that. Of course, no one expected him to take what Mrs. Dodds threw at him and spit it back in her face.

And it had been amazing.

Annabeth had loved every minute, every second, every detail. She couldn't help it. The sheer audacity of it all had been far too entertaining, complete disruption in the least likely environment. When the rigid plan for how things were meant to go was changed, or smashed, as it had been earlier, she couldn't help but be amused. Maybe it was a backlash to her mother's constant demand for order and consistency. This Percy Jackson had made a lesson with Mrs. Dodds the most exciting part of her day; that was impressive in itself. The utter disbelief on the miserable teachers face was just the cherry on top.

While everyone in the class had been looking down, listening but not wanting to make eye contact, Annabeth chose to hold her head up. The look on Mrs. Dodds face had been priceless. She wanted to freeze-frame that second, take a photo and have it framed on her wall. The utter confusion; the shock of the whole situation. Annabeth silently wondered when the last time Mrs. Dodds had a student talk back to her was. She was so used to everyone doing what she said, she was so used to having order, and Percy Jackson had taken order away from her for a moment. For a split second, Mrs. Dodds world was flipped upside-down. It was hilarious, and it was all thanks to the boy with the sea green eyes.

Of course, she'd shared that brief look with him afterwards. She saw something behind those sea green eyes, eyes that looked like they had seen far too much for a boy of seventeen. They were deep like the ocean and looked wild and aggressive, like there was a storm brewing within them. She was afraid to stare too much longer, and had turned away sharply to follow her friends. She thought she might've caught him smile, just out of the corner of her eye, but she decided not to turn back. The boy scared her just as much as he intrigued her, and she knew that she had to get to know him, had to find an excuse, any excuse to talk to him. She would come up with a plan, she always did. Strategy.

She had ignored him completely throughout their History class. It wasn't that she didn't feel the urge to look at him, she definitely did, but she didn't want to have him ruin her concentration. She could practically hear her mother's voice echoing in her brain.

"Work hard. You call this working hard? You can always work harder. You aren't fulfilling your potential Annabeth."

Annabeth half expected working harder to silence the nagging echo, but it only seemed to ring louder through her ears. She wished her mother saw her like this, the confident Annabeth who would not give up until the task was completed instead of the insecure Annabeth at home, craving her mother's approval and love. She carried on working hard through her next lesson, which was Percy Jackson free. She was thankful for that. The further through the day she got, the more her brain shifted into overdrive. She couldn't stop thinking about that look. Annabeth prided herself on being able to read people damn well. In fairness most people at Goode were fairly easy to read, but Percy Jackson was not. Had he smiled or not? She couldn't stop going over the moment, trying to remember if she had or not. Did she look rude? She hoped he didn't think so, but couldn't quite understand why. His eyes had hardly been friendly. Maybe, this Percy Jackson was just a waster from Yancy who was just here to talk back to teachers, and his little altercation with Mrs. Dodds was proof of that. She just couldn't make her mind up, throwing herself into her work to try and dispel this plague of overthinking.

The Lunch bell couldn't ring soon enough. Annabeth walked from her Geography class to the cafeteria with Luke, Thalia and Silena. She had Luke's arm around her as the other two chatted away, and could feel Luke's hand as he gripped her hip ever so slightly.

Annabeth had to admit, she loved the attention she got from Luke. He was one of the most popular boys in the school, Quarterback for the school football team and good looking to boot. It was another point of pride, and a little ego boost, for her that she had managed to tie down the self-proclaimed 'bachelor for life', a little nickname Luke had proudly made up for himself when they were new freshman. It had lasted about two months. They'd been an item quite a few times, but always ended up arguing after a couple of months, sometimes even weeks (sophomore year had been particularly emotional), and breaking it off for a while, only to start the cycle all over again. She really did care for him, although part of her felt (at least recently) that it was just familiarity. They had so much history that it was easy to remember the fun times, and aside from a few flings (if that was even the right word), none of the other boys at Goode particularly interested her. As they'd gotten older, they'd become slightly more stable. It was sort of fun to be the 'It Couple', with rumours of their relationship status often spreading like wildfire. It was easy being together now after all their years at Goode, learning when to give the other some space and not getting overly emotional about little things anymore. There were also some other… needs that they indulged each other in; teenagers were still teenagers after all. As he pulled her slightly closer to his side, Annabeth was pulled out of her thoughts by the ever-inquisitive Thalia Grace.

"Annie, what's this I hear about some new kid and Mrs. Dodds? You two were in that class, right?" gesturing to Silena too. Annabeth knew that the news would get around quickly; after all, it was once every blue moon that Mrs. Dodds had a student argue back. Percy Jackson was already becoming a Goode High School celebrity and he hadn't even been here a day.

"Yeah, it was pretty unbelievable. I mean, she just froze. She looked like someone had just slapped her across the face with a wet fish." She told the group before adding added "Twice." Just for emphasis. She described to Thalia and Luke exactly what happened in that classroom this morning, with occasional input from Silena. Annabeth always had a talent for telling stories.

"Ah man, I wish I could've seen it." Luke said absentmindedly. "She made sophomore year hell for me, just because I didn't get stupid Pythagoras Theorem."

"Luke sweetie, Pythagoras Theorem is like middle school level…" Annabeth pointed out, laughing slightly. Luke playfully shoved her.

"Yeah well I still don't get Math. My talents lie elsewhere." He nudged her as he said that last part suggestively.

"They certainly do." Annabeth had to agree with him as she leaned in for a kiss.

"Guys come on, public display of affection to a minimum please." Thalia exclaimed loudly, making fake gagging noises. Annabeth pulled away from Luke to give her a cheeky smile.

The cafeteria was buzzing, full of groups hanging out properly for the first time in months. They sat down at the table they had claimed as their own for the past two years now. Within a minute Rachel, Piper and Katie had joined them shortly followed by Luke's friends, the Stoll twins Connor and Travis, Michael Yew and Jason Grace, Thalia's younger brother. Despite being siblings, Thalia and Jason looked almost nothing alike, and the same went for their personalities. Thalia was cynical and snarky, Jason was like a Diet Luke. He copied his best friend in practically everything, from sports team down to haircut. You could have a conversation with both of the Grace siblings and never even know they were related. Their eyes gave it away though, both a startling sky blue, almost appearing to buzz with electricity. As Annabeth looked around from her usual seat next to Luke, watching the group chat aimlessly in pockets of twos and threes, she realised one member of their group was missing. Apparently the others had too.

"Hey, where's Beckendorf?" Michael asked. Everyone seemed to look at Silena, as if she should know. Yes he was her boyfriend, but that didn't mean she automatically knew where he was.

"Hey, don't look at me, I have no idea." She responded to all the looks.

"Well what lesson did he just have?" Luke asked her curtly.

"I don't know do I, am I supposed to keep tabs on him twenty-four seven?" Silena sounded slightly annoyed now, her nostrils flaring like they always did when she had a frustrated rant brewing. Annabeth was quick to stop this becoming anything. Both Silena and Luke could get extremely annoyed at the drop of a hat, and this wouldn't be the first time they'd start a shouting match. It would all be a bit much for the first day back.

"Luke, she doesn't know. Okay?" She spoke softly, rubbing his arm slightly. "He'll be here, he's probably just talking to a teacher or his coach or something." Everyone nodded in agreement. When Annabeth wanted them to stop arguing, they usually did. It was quiet remarkable, as if she had waved a magic wand.

"Speaking of coach," Connor Stoll spoke up, causing Annabeth to sigh mentally, these boys really didn't talk about much else, "I talked to Hedge, and turns out Jake Mason is out of the team till at least February."

"What?!" Luke demanded. Annabeth knew how much Luke's precious football team meant to him, and his sudden change of tone, and the fact that he was now tensed up, showed this.

"Yeah, turns out that he had a skiing accident on holiday and broke his leg pretty bad. I heard it snapped in about three different places. He won't even be back in for another few weeks."

"Shit. Stupid asshole." Luke uttered, sparing no thought for Jake Mason and the well being of his apparently mangled leg.

"It gets worse." Travis Stoll added. Luke's eyes looked dangerous, like he was about to hit someone. Annabeth had seen this side to him before; for as sweet and goofy as he could be with her, Luke was always one to show off his masculinity and strength any chance he could, particularly around other guys. He wasn't against pinning someone against the wall, or throwing mindless threats at them, or calling someone outside for a fight (admittedly usually behind a wall of his friends). Honestly though, it got boring. Luke was all talk and no walk. Annabeth was sure that if he were ever in a real fight, he would be more focused on trying to talk his way out of it.

"How does it get worse?" Luke asked, his voice low.

"Well, Lee Fletcher's also not on the team anymore. His parents aren't letting him play until he gets his grades up, but honestly, the way he told us, I don't think he's gonna be back on the team at all this year. He started talking about not wanting to be a football player anyway so it's a waste of time for him now, something like that." Travis said it all, also sounding frustrated. Annabeth could sympathize with Lee on this; his parents probably expected more of him too. She was also wondering why this was a serious problem for Luke. Didn't they have back ups in each position?

"So you're telling me," Luke said, as if trying to work out the situation, "that we're about to go into the new season, without our two best corners?"

Oh, that made a bit more sense. Annabeth appreciated the unfortunate circumstance of two of the best people who played a position having to leave; it probably meant a bunch of younger students would have to fill in. She knew Luke would be angry about it, and that that would put a downer on the mood. He was aiming to get a football scholarship somewhere, and she reckoned the likelihood of that happening would certainly diminish if the schools team was bad. In an attempt to lighten the conversation she decided to change the subject, back to the incident in Math this morning while Luke seethed for a bit. It seemed an appropriate topic.

"You all heard about the new kid and Mrs. Dodds right?" she asked, talking to the people who hadn't been in the class.

"Yeah, that sounded crazy." Piper exclaimed. "What was he thinking?"

"He was probably thinking he was the new kid and he had to make an impression on his first day." Jason stated. The others nodded, agreeing, but Annabeth wasn't so sure. The whole thing can't have just been to make an impression, surely. It seemed like he really didn't care what anyone else thought.

"Yeah, didn't he say he was from Yancy?" Rachel asked Annabeth. "They probably do stuff like that all the time at that school, worse I bet."

"Jesus, why is the school letting a Yancy kid in here?" Luke butted in, just tuning in now. Everyone knew about Yancy High School, one of the worst schools, not just in New York City, but in the state. To the kids at Goode, it was a fabled sort of a place, a terrifying media buzzword to sum up their idea of the inner city. Annabeth didn't know anyone who had ever been there. No one replied to Luke, because no one knew. Goode High was very particular about who they let in (if you could even afford it), and it was never kids below a certain standard of living, as unfair as that may be. That was what made Percy Jackson all the more interesting to Annabeth. She was still trying to formulate a plan in her head, one that would allow her to talk to him, find out about him, and allow her to see what type of person he really was. Of course, she was Annabeth Chase, she could just walk up and talk to him any time she wanted during school hours and no one would think anything was out of the ordinary, but he would probably see right through her, or may not even want to talk to her. This was going to be tricky.

Just then, they all heard Beckendorf's booming voice.

"Hey guys!" They all turned to see Beckendorf walking towards them, behind him, a boy with raven black hair and sea green eyes following him. So much for needing a plan.

"Where the hell have you been?" Luke asked, raising an eyebrow.

"This is the new kid, Percy." He said, gesturing to the boy behind him. Of course, everyone at the table already knew who he was. "He's actually an old friend of mine. D'you mind if he sits with us?" Annabeth silently thanked Beckendorf; he had just made her plan a whole lot easier. He had unknowingly delivered him to her. Their eyes met once again, green on grey.

Percy Jackson.

She hid her glee as Percy sat down, on the seat at the very end of the table. Beckendorf had told him everyone's names and now they were all looking at him, as if expecting him to burst into flames, or do cartwheels through a hoop, like he was a circus animal. They all chose to ignore the last point Luke had made about Yancy. An awkward silence enveloped the group. Percy was moving his eyes around the table; he looked very uncomfortable, as if he wanted to leave. Right now, he looked a million miles from the confident boy who had told Mrs. Dodds where to stick it earlier. Beckendorf broke the awkward silence, from his seat next to Silena.

"So how were all your holidays guys?" People muttered replies of 'Good', 'Fine', 'Interesting', before all turning their attention back to Percy. Then he looked at everyone around the table, his eyes meeting with Annabeth's for a second before he looked away, and sighed.

"I am here you know." He said, frustration clear in his voice. At that, everyone awkwardly averted their glances to their feet, or the ceiling, or something other than the boy at the end of the table. Then he started whispering with Beckendorf under his breath, not loud enough for Annabeth to hear, although it looked like Beckendorf was trying to persuade him to stay. Annabeth was not about to let him just leave. No, she had to take matters into her own hands.

"So Percy," she said loudly, breaking up his and Beckendorf's whispering, he looked back at her, a slightly perplexed look on his face. "Beckendorf said you were old friends?" He turned his eyes towards her. She smiled innocently.

"Yeah." He sighed. Annabeth raised her eyebrows, indicating she wanted him to elaborate. He looked back at Beckendorf with questioning eyes, who took a second before nodding in return.

"He and I used to live in the same area of town, same estate in fact. We hung out most days. One day he left with his mom; I never knew where he was. Turns out it was here." The group looked around at each other. No one knew much about Charles Beckendorf, so the fact that he was from the same world as Percy came as a surprise. Beckendorf himself looked down, as if embarrassed, Silena gently stroking his shoulder. It dawned on Annabeth that she must've known, and was silently proud of her friend for keeping it a secret. For as much as she loved to gossip, she knew what to keep quiet about.

"And you're from Yancy right? What's it like there?" Annabeth was determined to keep him here, but that required the others help too.

"Shit." Percy replied, laughing. "Really shit, why? You thinking of enrolling?" He was joking, that was a good sign.

She was ready to come up with a witty reply, but Luke apparently beat her to the punch.

"Is picking fights with teachers common there?" He asked, grinning. Percy leaned back, smiling as if he had to have known that this would come up at some point; it was, after all, the talk of the town.

"Yeah, yeah, they don't get pissed off easily at Yancy though, so you really have to work hard at it. They're tough man, ex-army type shit." He seemed to be having fun. "Your teachers here, one word and they start sulking." At that everyone laughed.

"Well man, I have to say, taking on Mrs. Dodds? That's brave." Connor Stoll spoke up.

"You have no idea how long all of us have waited for that woman to get a taste of her own medicine." Jason added.

"Not just us. Everyone in the school." Luke pointed out. He wasn't wrong either.

Percy seemed to take all this in, and just shrugged.

"I had no idea that she was the most feared teacher in the school'. All I knew was that she was trying to show me up in front of everyone and I wasn't going to stand for that. Honestly, what I said wasn't even that offensive." He acted like it was no big deal, like it was just a normal school day for him.

"But dude, seriously, you have no idea what that woman is like." Luke told him, "She's probably out planning her revenge as we speak." It wouldn't have surprised Annabeth if that were the case.

"Okay, as scary as that sounds," Percy replied sarcastically, "I've dealt with tougher teachers than Mrs. Dodds. You know, I've made teachers cry, scream, have nervous breakdowns; in fact, this one time, my cousin Nico and I made this Chemistry teacher quit her job." He listed all of the things off on his fingers, looking proud as he did it. Luke looked at him in disbelief.

"How?" Everyone on the table was suddenly interested in finding this out.

"Well, I won't bore you with the details, but we set her desk on fire." Even Annabeth's eyes widened at that.

"You what?!"

"Set her desk on fire." He said it again nonchalantly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do. "Burned all of her books and test papers too." He added.

"They didn't kick you out?" Thalia asked in disbelief.

"No, they could never prove it was us." He grinned, and it made him look suddenly quite scary, like they were only seeing the very tip of the iceberg.

"You and who did that again?" Beckendorf asked.

"Nico. He's become a mean motherfucker." Beckendorf nodded, Annabeth realised he probably knew this Nico too. "But hey, he's family right?"

Everyone sat still for a moment, taking in what Percy had just told them. Only one question was in Annabeth's head though, but now was not the time to ask it. She would wait.

For the rest of lunch, the gang questioned Percy. He answered most of what they threw his way, and told them some truly shocking stories. This kid seemed to live dangerously, with him and his friends getting up to some seriously scary sounding situations. The group were so enamored that they didn't even consider asking about any topics that were more personal, like family or his home. Though he seemed more comfortable than he had been when he sat down, Annabeth knew that this little lunchtime didn't automatically make them friends. She did however notice that every so often, while in the middle of telling the group about one of his escapades, he would throw a glace her way. Not obvious glances, Luke was right next to her after all, but a glance nonetheless, the type of glance you only noticed if you were really looking, which no one but Annabeth seemed to be doing.

In no time the bell had rung and everyone went off to their respective classes. Percy had Biology with Beckendorf, Jason, Piper and Michael, while Annabeth had music. As she made her way to her music lesson, she thought about the lunchtime they had just had, and the stories she had heard. The thing that kept playing over in her mind was his story about setting the Chemistry teacher's desk on fire. That should scare her, shock her. She should look at him in complete disgust, but she didn't. It actually satisfied her, excited her, some deep dark part of her, like a fascinating front seat to a true crime drama. She could picture the look of horror on the teacher's face, the image of the desk of fire implanted in her brain. It must've been quite the sight. The audacity of it all, the confidence to know that he wouldn't be caught, and the nonchalant way that he'd described the act. She almost admired him for it. There was something Annabeth found undeniably sexy about it all. Was that wrong? Then of course, she remembered it had led to a woman quitting her job, a woman losing her livelihood, which made her feel much worse. She pushed all those thoughts back. She couldn't afford to get distracted in class.

After Music, Annabeth made her way to her final lesson of the day, Psychology. As she walked through the door, and looked around the class she spotted Percy Jackson, sitting at the back, the third class today they had shared. Then she noticed the empty seat next to him, and felt the urge to sit there, to be close to him. She fought the urge, knowing he would only be a distraction in a class she could afford none in. He had just noticed her, as their eyes met, that familiar smile appeared on his lips. She smiled back before sitting down, right at the front of the class. Within a minute, Dr. Thorn, had walked in. Dr. Thorn was one of the best teachers in the school, but also one of the strictest. While he had never had a Mrs. Dodds style approach to teaching, it wouldn't surprise Annabeth to find out that he was secretly a serial killer outside of school. His slicked back grey hair, fully tailored suit, hawkish features and heterochromatic eyes, one brown and one blue, gave him the appearance of a Bond villain. Annabeth did always like his lessons, he got to the point quickly and demanded a lot, something she was very receptive to.

"Textbooks out." His voice dripped with authority. Annabeth put her head down and began to work.

As the lesson ended, thus meaning the school day was also over, she turned, expecting to see Percy behind her, but he was gone. She looked around, slightly confused, when she saw him deep in conversation with Dr. Thorn. She left the classroom, wondering what they were talking about, not that it was any of her business. But that was Annabeth, always curious. She decided to wait outside the door for Percy; she didn't think he'd mind. A part if her said it was stupid, foolish, but another part of her knew that this would be the first time they would be alone together. What exactly she expected she didn't know, but it would hopefully put her day of overthinking to rest. As she waited, she saw a text from Bobby; they'd made some friends and wanted to hang out with them on the bus back home. That was no stress for Annabeth; she knew her parents would still be hours, and really wasn't in the mood to babysit her brothers on their first day.

About five minutes later, Percy emerged. He noticed Annabeth, and then looked around, presumably for the others. When he realized she was the only one there, he approached.

"You not walking home?" He asked.

"I drove here." He rolled his eyes slightly

"And do you intend on going home, or are you just gonna stand there until tomorrow?" He was smiling now.

"Absolutely not. Let's walk." He nodded in agreement.

They walked down the hallway in silence, a comfortable silence mind, but still silence. Annabeth felt like she should talk first, after all, she had waited for him.

"So how was your first day here?" A little boring, but at least she was trying right? He laughed under his breath.

"Definitely interesting."

"Dr. Thorn is something, isn't he?"

"Yeah." Percy agreed. "I think even I'd think twice before messing with him." Annabeth knew what he meant. Dr. Thorn could make Mrs. Dodds look like a docile house cat if he really wanted to. They carried on walking, all the time, never really looking at each other.

The silence reappeared. She was desperate to know more about him, but she was lost for words, she had no idea what to say. Annabeth Chase always had something to say, but right now, she felt silly. Before she knew it, she could see her car. She turned and looked at Percy.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow." She said, to which he nodded slowly. He began to walk off, and she knew she would lose her opportunity.

"Percy!" She called after him. He turned to her, their eyes meeting for what felt like the umpteenth time today. She had to ask him the question she hadn't asked earlier, around the others. This was her best chance.

"The Chemistry teacher, whose desk you burnt," He nodded, "why'd you do it? Y'know, set fire to the desk? I mean, why d'you really do it?"

He was silent for a minute; she wasn't sure what exactly she expected him to say. Maybe 'She failed me' or 'She insulted me'. But his reply sounded brutally honest, cold and without any of the cockiness he'd had a few hours ago.

"Because I could."

Yeah, this year was going to get very interesting.

Chapter 5

Chapter Text


Percy Jackson just wanted to get home. The walk between his estate and Goode was long, almost an hour, but he managed it in about forty-five. Today had been without a doubt one of the weirdest days of Percy's life. On the walk home through the streets of New York, getting closer and closer to the all-encompassing concrete he called home, he went over the day's events in his head.

The most prominent thing on his mind was the feeling that had been bugging him pretty much since he had stepped through the Goode doors. The feeling of not belonging. It was an unusual feeling for Percy to be experiencing. At Yancy, he had been surrounded by people like himself, people from broken homes, people who had either been abandoned or neglected in some way. As bad a school as Yancy had been, Percy had felt like a part of a community there. He didn't feel like that at Goode, not in the slightest. Sure, he could give it time, but Percy wasn't dumb, he knew that someone like him didn't fit in at a place like Goode High School. At least he still had his home. Olympus Estate was the only place where Percy felt comfortable now. There, he had people he loved around him, people that he cared about and got along with and had a good time with. But how long before that feeling began to deteriorate? He was now going to be seeing less and less of his friends; he began to wonder if he would become completely isolated from them. Would they do that to him? No. No, Percy was sure that his friends would not, for lack of a better word, abandon him.

Then he thought about the people he had met at Goode. Seeing Beckendorf had been a pleasant surprise, but there had been an awkwardness too. After all, they hadn't spoken in nearly ten years, and no one is the same person after ten years. Beckendorf was one of the rich kids now, one of the kids who looked down on people like Percy. Okay, that was unfair, Percy knew Beckendorf didn't look down on him, he knew how Percy lived, and understood the situation well because he too had lived it, even if only for a short time. He had just gotten out from it. But while Percy understood that, he doubted some of the guys from Olympus would when they found out. He did contemplate not telling them about Beckendorf, but he quickly scratched that thought. Nico and the others had been friends with him too; they had a right to know. Also, Percy had always been completely honest with Nico, Tyson and Grover. He wasn't gonna change that now, was he? No. He may go to a different school now but he wasn't a different person.

His mind wandered to the others, Luke and Jason, Thalia and Silena. All of them, as well as the others in their group, had acted friendly enough towards him, but he wasn't fooled. They didn't view him as an actual friend, or even as an equal. No, they saw him as a distraction, as a rough guy with funny stories. Well, Percy was perfectly happy to indulge them. He had told them some of the most fucked up things he and his friends had done. He told them about the time Tyson held down a kid from a rival local gang while he and Nico took turns punching him in the gut. He even added the fact that the kid had broken a rib, just to see if they all looked horrified. While he had seen some shocked faces, he didn't see any looks of disgust or horror. In fact, he had briefly looked at Luke and saw an excitement in his eyes, as if he was imagining doing that himself. Percy could tell immediately that this pretty boy football player had never been in a real fight. A proper fight, where your own well being and more was on the line. A fight that left you with scars that would never fully heal, a fight that made it painful to move for days. Percy laughed to himself; he had been raised on fights like that. The look in Luke's eye when Percy told him about the broken rib had been pure fantasy. Of course, Percy did leave out a bit of the truth. The boy had in fact broken five ribs, and Percy and Nico didn't stop until the boy was coughing up blood. He wasn't too proud of that particular moment, and they surely would've thought him a monster, but Percy knew that as bad as it was, moments like that just came hand in hand with where he lived.

Of course, he had also told them about the incident with Miss. Kerr and the flaming desk. That was actually something Percy didn't feel so guilty about, despite the fact he knew that he should. As he looked back, he realised that he hadn't really had too big an issue with Miss Kerr. Sure, she hadn't been the nicest woman in the world, but she was hardly the worst teacher in Yancy, just a little patronising was all. Yet for some reason, Nico just had hated her. Percy never really asked why (Nico was hardly the friendliest guy towards strangers anyway), he just agreed to help his cousin out when he came to him one day. He remembered it so clearly…

Percy looked up from the switchblade he was playing with in his hand to see Nico walking towards him. Percy could see it in his eyes; he knew that Nico's mind was racing with malicious thoughts. That was becoming the case more and more frequently nowadays.

"Perce, I gotta ask you something." Nico sounded angry, yet calm.

"Ask away."

"Okay, that bitch Kerr? I got a plan for her. I'm gonna ruin her life, scare the shit outta her, and make her fuck off back to whatever fuckin' stuck up town she comes from, but I need help. You in?" Nico gave Percy an expectant look.

Percy sighed. He knew whatever Nico had planned was not going to be pretty. For the past few months, he had made it his mission to piss off Miss Kerr every opportunity he got, and it had only been escalating as the months went by. Percy contemplated his request for a minute; he really didn't need the stress of getting involved in Nico's little vendetta. But Nico was family, and Percy stuck by his family, no matter what. He looked back at Nico and gave him the answer Nico always knew he would get.

"You know I got you." He wasn't scared or worried, he was more curious as to what Nico had up his sleeve this time.

"Alright, this is good. Okay, well basically, every Lunch, Miss Kerr leaves her class for like five minutes to go get food. That means, we got a five-minute window, but it shouldn't even take that long." Percy could see the thrill in Nico's eyes, he really was having fun. Percy couldn't help but smile at that.

"And what will we be doing in that five minute window I hear you ask?" Nico then slipped his backpack off, and opened it up for Percy to see. "Look at that." He heard Nico exclaim.

Inside the bag, there were a couple of bottles of lighter fluid, boxes of firestarter cubes, a few lighters and cans of deodorant. Percy put two and two together.

"What the fuck are you gonna set on fire?!" He asked. This was a shock, but the more he thought about it, the more he felt it shouldn't be. Nico had no boundaries.

"Desk. She's gonna come back with her lunch, and see her fuckin' desk going up in flames. I only wish I could see her face." Percy thought about it more.

"Nico, they're gonna catch us. There's a camera pointing right outside her door." The boys knew where just about every camera in the school was placed, and where the best spots to hide from them were too. Miss Kerr's hallway had a few to contend with; this plan would never work.

"Yeah, I thought that too, but get this. Turns out, those cameras are just for show. They don't fuckin' work, haven't for the whole of this year. I found out the other day from one of the janitors. Apparently funding was cut and that meant the cameras too, or some other bullshit like that. That's not important. What is important is that they won't catch us." Nico looked like he'd just found buried treasure. The school's cameras didn't work. This was almost too good to believe, they'd been caught red handed by those cameras a few times over the years. Percy just had to laugh at it all.

"Who told you?" Percy asked, knowing that some of the janitors could be pretty dodgy guys.

"Argus" Nico replied. Argus was that one janitor every school has, the guy that seemed to know everyone. He'd even built up a friendly relationship with some student who skipped class regularly, of which Nico was one. He wouldn't rat you out if he caught you, which was about as cool as you could hope for a janitor, and always appeared to hate the senior teachers as much as the students did. He was even known to sell smokes and let kids sneak out the school's back door on occasion, if he was feeling generous. Why the school still employed him was beyond Percy; he must clean the floors really well. Then again, it was Yancy, they were hardly a shining example of how to run an institution.

"You sure he's not fucking with you?" Percy asked.

"Argus? Come on" Nico responded dismissively. "You know he wouldn't do someone like that."

"Just making sure" Percy muttered, knowing it was probably ridiculous. It was just that what he was planning was serious, a prank to Nico but arson to just about everybody else. If they were caught, they would be handed much, much more than just detentions.

"So we'll meet at lunch, okay?" Nico asked. Percy nodded. He looked at his watch; they were ten minutes late for school already. He slipped the switchblade into the back pocket of his jeans.

"Well we can't pull it off if we aren't in school, can we?" With that they turned and walked towards Yancy. This day had the potential to get fucked up, really quickly.

When Lunch finally came around, Percy met up with Nico at his locker. He was not nervous, or scared, which surprised him a bit; after all, they were about to commit arson in a public school.

"Okay Perce, listen. I've got Tyson watching the hallway to make sure we ain't interrupted." Nico looked excited, he was practically bursting with anticipation.

"What if we're seen? I'm just wondering that's all."

"We say we was out the back with Leo, Grover and the others. They're gonna vouch for us if anyone asks. Besides, who's gonna rat on us?" Nico said with a chuckle, and he had a point. Yancy's unwritten rule was no snitching to the teachers. The 'Us vs. Them' sentiments ran deep, which meant no matter how much trouble you were in, you'd be in a hell of a lot more trouble with the rest of the school if you cracked. It was a sign of weakness, and sure to brand you a traitor in the eyes of many. No one at Yancy ever told the teachers or the police anything, (because yes, the police had been called to Yancy a few times.) It was always the same thing, 'I didn't see nothing', 'I wasn't there', 'I wasn't really paying attention'. Percy didn't even know why they bothered asking the kids questions. They were all either too scared to talk, or it was just their nature to not tell the authority anything. Now without the cameras, Percy wondered how they'd ever catch students misbehaving. School was about to get a lot more fun for their little gang, he was sure of that. As calmly as possible, Nico and Percy started walking through the empty hallways.

They arrived at the Chemistry classroom to see Tyson standing alone. Tyson was Percy's younger half-brother, sharing the same father. Despite that, there was virtually no resemblance between the two boys. He may have been younger, but Tyson was definitely not the little brother. The boy was huge; he definitely hit a major growth spurt early. He had only recently turned sixteen, but he already towered above nearly everyone in school at around 6'6". He was as wide as a fridge and strong as a bull. Recently he's started working out a lot, and it was already evident; his huge muscles could clearly be seen under his shirt. Tyson looked like a professional wrestler, and he was only halfway through high school. He was sort of the enforcer of their little group, very good at holding people down, and intimidation. Hell, the big guy intimidated Percy sometimes. The fact that he rarely talked didn't help. It was a strange relationship that the two brothers had. Tyson was raised by his mother, a similarly silent and reclusive woman who had little time for anything or anyone. Despite the relationship he had with her son, she wasn't someone Percy knew at all well. Quite what his father had seen in her Percy never understood, but he tried not to dwell on thoughts like that too much. The half-brothers hadn't spent much time together as children, but as they'd grown up a strong, unspoken loyalty towards one another had developed within them. They weren't the type to talk about anything deep or emotional, and hardly even spoke about their dad at all, but there was an odd comfort in knowing he wasn't alone. Poseidon treated both his sons with equal indifference. At least he didn't play favorites, Percy thought. Tyson nodded at Nico and Percy as they walked past him, into the Chemistry class.

The lights were off, only faint sunlight coming through the window. It was eerily quiet, Percy and Nico were rarely in an empty classroom. Nico didn't waste any time. He unshouldered his backpack in one fluid motion, and threw Percy a deodorant can and a lighter. He caught them both, then watched as Nico began to empty a can of lighter fuel, the stuff you use on campfires, all over the desk. He threw one Percy's way and he joined his cousin in covering the desk with the stuff. Nico pulled open the drawers and emptied it into there too, dropping a lot of firestarter cubes in there just for good measure. Once one can was empty, he pulled out a second one and continued. Percy couldn't help but notice the efficiency that Nico moved with, getting all of this done in about a minute. Then, Nico noticed something in the corner of the room. He smiled sadistically.

"Perce, pass me that will you?" Percy walked over to the bag and checked its contents. Sure enough it had everything they expected, some schoolbooks of hers, unmarked test papers. He threw the bag to Nico, who emptied it onto the table. As all the books and papers fell out, so did something else. Nico picked it up and examined it; Miss Kerr's purse. He looked inside, and pocketed the twenty-seven dollars she had, before taking out her driver's license.

"Miss Amanda Kerr. Twenty-nine. Washington Driver's License." Nico read out loud, before laughing and dropping it onto the desk. "Fuck you."

"Alright, now for the real fun." Nico pulled out a spray can and lighter from his bag too. Percy knew what to do; he was only really surprised that he did it without hesitation. He held the lighter in front of the spray can, and pushed down. The spray of deodorant passed through the flame, causing a stream of fire to spurt from the end. These lighters had been modified to let out more gas, and combined with the deodorant made quite the little flamethrower. He was just testing it. The whole morning, he had been wondering to himself if he would actually be able to go through with this. It was arson after all. People could go to jail for fifteen years plus for arson, and he doubted anyone would be too sympathetic towards them if they were caught. But as he pushed down on the nozzle again, he knew he could, so why shouldn't he?

Nico was the first to attack the desk. He knew they only had about three minutes left, so Percy got to work too. They aimed the cans at the desk, and pushed down. The streams hit the table, and instantly, the desk was alight. The books and papers on top of it were burning. Percy knew it would take a minute before the actual wood of the desk caught fire, but he and Nico carried on. The draws were now completely on fire, and it was starting to spread to the surface. Nico had that same sadistic look in his eye; Percy had seen it a few times today already. He was muttering things under his breath that Percy couldn't hear. He was very aware of how hot it was getting. Suddenly, there were three loud knocks on the door. They both knew what that meant; it was Tyson, telling them they had a minute to get the hell out of there. Quickly, they stopped what they were doing. Nico threw the discarded lighter fuel bottles onto the burning desk, destroying any chance of fingerprints being found, because the police would surely be called for this. They both did the same with their lighters and deodorant bottles, the blaze now far too big to not destroy everything on it. They made their way to the door as quickly as possible. Percy knew the fire alarm would be sounding soon, but he and Nico both turned to have one final look at their handiwork.

The red and yellow flames licked at the air, while black smoke billowed before it hit the ceiling, where there was a growing layer of smoke. The books on the desk were burnt to a crisp by now, with the edges curled up and black, as were the remains of their spray cans. The fire had truly engulfed the desk; it was like a beacon at the top of an old lighthouse. It was mesmerizing. Percy realised he had been staring too long when he felt Tyson's large hand pull him and Nico out of the doorway. They walked down the hall quickly but composed, looking completely inconspicuous. The biggest surprise was that the fire alarm had yet to go off. Then again, if the cameras didn't work, who's to say the fire bell didn't either. As they walked through a door at the back of the school where the rest of their friends were standing, they heard what sounded like a woman's scream, faintly, in the distance. Suddenly, the shrill notes of the fire alarm sounded around the whole school. At that, Nico burst out into hysterics, which led everyone else to laugh too. Everyone except Grover that is, because that wasn't the type of person Grover was, and Percy, who was too wrapped up in his own thoughts.

He had gone through with it, but why? He didn't hate twenty-nine year-old Amanda Kerr from Washington. He held no grudge towards her, but he had set fire to her desk without hesitation. Was there something wrong with him? He couldn't put this down simply to the life he had, the people he hung out with. He could've said no to Nico, or just watched Nico do it. But no, he had joined in. And the sick part was that he hadn't felt sick doing it. He hadn't enjoyed it, certainly not in the way Nico had, but he hadn't felt particularly bad about it either. He simply did it because he could, because he was able to do it. It wasn't something he necessarily understood, but he knew it was the truth.

And that had been exactly what he told Annabeth.

He didn't quite know why he had been honest with her. Maybe it was her expression, one that seemed to tell him that she needed to know. Percy had been slightly taken aback by it. She didn't seem to have the same attitude towards his heinous acts as her friends did. They saw them as stories, as awkward situations Percy had ended up in, almost like film moments, as opposed to what they really were, fucked up moments in Percy's fucked up life. To them, Percy had been their entertainer for lunch, and his re-telling escapades were merely his party trick. It wouldn't surprise him if they thought they were all made up or exaggerated, when in fact; he had left out a lot of the detail, giving them the soft version. He didn't want them to think he was a monster after all.

But Annabeth hadn't seen it like that. While telling them, he had often quickly moved his eyes to her, to see her reaction. For the most part, there wasn't one. Where the others had been openly intrigued and somewhat shocked, Annabeth had been reserved. She never averted her gaze, but nor did she listen to them with the enthusiasm that those around her did. Percy was also careful to not make his interest in Annabeth's reaction obvious. He worked out she was 'with' Luke, and even though Percy was not afraid of Luke, not in a million years would Percy be afraid of Luke, he didn't particularly want another altercation on his first day, particularly with the people he was meant to be making friends with.

Then he thought back to after Psychology, that five minute walk between Dr. Thorn's classroom and Annabeth's Porsche. He had stayed behind to just ask Dr. Thorn some questions about their work in the class, because, much to Percy's surprise, it actually interested him. Dr. Thorn was a wildly intelligent man, the type of teacher it was hard not to pay attention to, even if you were actively trying to time waste. Percy wasn't afraid to admit he was also perhaps the only teacher he had ever been scared of, with his mobster style and cold dead eyes, made only more disturbing by their different colours. He was exactly the type of adult Percy had been taught to avoid if you ever saw them around Olympus, except Dr. Thorn looked more dressed for Fifth Avenue. Forget Mrs. Dodds, Percy wondered why the students weren't more scared of the evil genius looking Psychology teacher. Luckily, he seemed to take a liking to Percy.

Of that five minute walk between classroom and car park, about four consisted of silence, but when they reached Annabeth's car, and she had asked him why he had really set Miss Kerr's desk on fire, he paused. That was a question that had been asked at Lunch to which the response was along the lines of 'she was a bitch', 'needed to be brought down a peg', blah blah blah. But apparently Annabeth didn't believe that. She knew that there was more to it, maybe that's why Percy was honest with her. He considered saying 'Because it was fun' or 'because I was bored', but she would probably see through that too. No, instead he had been one hundred percent honest with her. It shocked him a bit, after all, he had only just met her, shared one conversation with her, and even that had been eighty percent silence. Why had he done that?

He was broken from his thoughts when he looked up and saw the entrance to Olympus Estate. Percy sighed happily. He was home.

The walk through the estate towards his small apartment was not long, but he knew that he would see someone he knew and have to stop and chat, and lo and behold, he hadn't even made it past the first set of apartment doors when he saw familiar faces for the first time all day. Nico, Leo Valdez and Will Solace. They were sitting just outside Leo's apartment or leaning against the railing opposite it, smoking and playing cards on the concrete floor.

"Well well well, look at this boys," Nico had just seen him and began approaching, talking in a joking manner "if it isn't the kid from that rich school. You know? Where everyone thinks they're the bees fuckin' knees." He laughed before putting out the cigarette he had been smoking and wrapping Percy in a firm hug. "How was day one with the assholes?" Percy was much taller than his cousin, and bigger in terms of muscle too, but Nico Di Angelo was not a person anyone wanted to mess with. He was tough, very quick and extremely aggressive. His dark brown eyes always had a slightly crazed look to them; they were identical to his fathers.

Nico's father, Percy's Uncle Harry, was jokingly given the nickname Hades, because he was Poseidon's brother, but he was also his lawyer. After leaving high school, he had gone off to law school and changed his name to Harry Di Angelo; something to do with distancing himself from their family name. The two brothers rarely told their respective sons anything about their younger lives. Down the line, Harry met someone, and married Percy's Aunt Maria. They had two children, Nico and his older sister Bianca. When Nico was born, they decided to move back home to New York, to Poseidon, where Harry would look after his 'business', and represent him in certain capacities. A few years after they'd moved here, the Di Angelo's were struck with tragedy; Maria was walking back from work late one night when a drunk driver swerved onto the pavement, crashing into three pedestrians before going through a shop window. She had been one of the pedestrians, and the Di Angelo children became motherless at a very young age. Percy knew it had always affected Nico badly, and had led to his often reckless attitude for his own safety, something that had only gotten worse through adolescence. Coincidentally, the drunk driver survived and went to prison. A few months into his sentence he was killed in a prison brawl. Although he'd never asked, Percy was sure he knew who had been responsible. He smiled as he took in his cousin, the day had made him appreciate his friends just that little bit more.

"Weird." Percy laughed as he greeted the others with informal handshakes, glad to be around his own people again. Will was the quiet one of the group. Tall, blonde and considered quite the looker with the ladies, he didn't like confrontation, but that didn't mean he wasn't willing to get his hands dirty if needs be. Leo was the shortest kid he knew. Standing at about 5'5". He was that one kid that most people knew growing up, the kid who liked to burn things. Percy remembered the boy's frustration at not being in on the whole desk burning fiasco.

"So what, they started brainwashing you yet?" Leo asked, a cigarette in his mouth too.

"Not yet, but I wouldn't put it past them."

"You pull anything?" Nico asked. He always wanted to know about the troublemaking.

"Not even man. Seriously, these kids are never rude to the teachers. This math teacher starts trying to rip me out in front of everybody, you know the type. She talks all sweet and innocent, but tryna bait you into trouble. All I did was talk back to her, and not even anything bad, but the whole school was talking about it." Percy saw them all start laughing.

"Ah man, imagine if they were at Yancy." Leo chuckled.

"I bet half the teachers will be scared of you" Will said.

"Yeah, they'll take one look at you and think you have a blade in your pocket" Nico was finding it all very amusing.

"They're not wrong," Percy joked back in response, causing them all to laugh more. Only at Olympus was carrying a knife considered humorous. "Seriously though, they've got one or two really weird teachers. There's this Psychology guy that looks like a big time mobster, and the principal is like the last drunk left in the bar at closing time. The whole place feels wrong, I really don't get why I'm there." They all looked at him sympathetically; they each knew that were they in the same position, they'd no doubt feel just as alienated, just as confused. It was a culture shock of epic proportions, and Percy knew none of them would swap places with him in a second.

"So hey, how was the old place today?" Percy asked Nico. He was eager to find out what had happened at Yancy, he would rather have spent his day there.

"Wouldn't know, didn't go." Nico muttered, as he pulled out another cigarette, and lit it. "You want one?" he asked Percy, holding out the cigarette packet.

"Yeah, fuck it, why not." Percy took one from Nico, and then took the lighter. Percy didn't smoke often, and not nearly as often as Nico, but he'd had a stressful day. He'd much rather have been skipping school with Nico all day, although it did worry him slightly how much his cousin was absent. Towards the end of last year it had started reaching four days a week, sometimes even all five. Now he wasn't even bothering for the first day back; he doubted the rest of the year would get much interest from him either.

"Oh hey," Percy suddenly remembered something and looked at his cousin, "I saw Beckendorf today, you remember?" Percy hadn't had any kind of tone to his voice, but Nico's face instantly soured, which told Percy he remembered exactly who the boy was.

"Charles Beckendorf? The kid that ditched us?" Nico looked more agitated now, furiously inhaling and billowing smoke everywhere.

"Well I wouldn't exactly put it like that," Percy muttered, surprised at the sudden aggression.

"I remember him, his mom married some millionaire right?" Will mentioned, while Leo looked at them all with a confused expression. He was the only one who hadn't been around in the early days.

"Fuck that, he's at Goode? And he never bothered to stay in touch? That piece of shit" Nico sounded bitter and malicious, a side Percy had seen many times before. It was never pretty.

"I ran into him, got talking for a bit. He's good, looked like a whole new guy," he was trying to sound positive, but Nico's angry face made it hard.

"Of course he's a new guy, money changes you; he's too good for us now." Percy hadn't heard his cousin this worked up in a while, and was eager to stop it escalating.

"His father went to jail, he and his mom went through a lot…" Percy added, although he wasn't sure it would help. Nico took a few deep breaths before sliding back down against the wall, until he was in a sitting position. He flicked away his cigarette and lit up another one. When he spoke again he was quieter, sounding more mournful than anything.

"Yeah, well we all go through tough shit…" He wasn't really speaking to Percy, or any of the boys. He just stared off into the middle distance, an angry look still in his eyes. An awkward silence engulfed their little group.

"So," it was Will who spoke up, breaking the uncomfortable air, "any girls at Goode?" He was usually the one who brought up girls. "I heard that those rich girls are always willing to go at it, if you know what I mean." He said, smirking.

"Yeah and I heard that they all get plastic surgery at like fifteen." Leo added. The two others looked at Percy as he inhaled again on his cigarette.

"Yeah, I guess some of them were pretty hot." He told them, smoke billowing from his mouth as he talked. The others laughed. He meant it too; he wasn't blind after all, he'd noticed how attractive some of the girls had been. Silena was simply breathtaking (he'd worked out she was Beckendorf's girlfriend quickly, but that didn't change the fact of the matter). Some of the others, the redhead Rachel in particular, had also been incredibly attractive. And of course there was Annabeth. He wasn't about to go into details with the guys, but let's just say Percy thought that Luke was a very lucky man to have a girlfriend that stunning.

"Well bring some of 'em back here sometime. We'll show 'em a good time." Leo said, moving his limbs around wildly like he always did whenever he spoke.

"Y'know Percy," Will told him, "you're probably in with a good chance with some of them. I bet they're crazy over the tough kid thing." That caused another round of laughter.

"Yeah, though I bet Calypso won't take it too well." Leo added, causing even heavier laughter from himself and Will. Even Nico took a moment out of his brooding to smile at his cousin's expense. Percy just exhaled more smoke, before putting his cigarette out.

"Alright, fuck you guys," he said jokingly, with a smile, "I gotta get home."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Leo said between laughs. "See you later."

As Percy walked past them, he heard their laughter continue, no doubt at his expense. He didn't mind though, it was just banter between friends. They'd all been victim of it at one point or another; mocking each other was practically the language of Olympus. He walked past Grover's apartment, guessing he was inside, seeing as he hadn't been with the others. He contemplated knocking, but thought better of it. Grover's grandmother usually had chores she made him do as soon as he got back from school, and Percy didn't want to be in Grandma Underwood's bad books. As he carried on past the identical wooden doors, with small front windows separating each one, he could eventually see his own apartment door. Just as he was about to reach for his key, he was stopped by a small voice behind him.

"You just gonna ignore me then?" The voice asked innocently. Percy smiled; he didn't need to turn around to know who it was.

"No, I've just had a long day." He replied, still not turning around, suddenly feeling a smile spread across his face.

"Are you gonna look at me at all?" The voice asked again.

"Only if you say please…" He liked annoying her.

"Fine, will you please turn around?" The please was sarcastically emphasised, but Percy obliged, and turned to face her.

'Her' was Calypso Atlas. Percy didn't quite know the best way to describe Calypso. She was like the perfect girl next door, if that girl had serious daddy issues and a drug problem. She was wearing next to nothing, a thin white vest and some short shorts, and looked cold in the September chill. With long cinnamon hair hanging loose and dark almond eyes, her beauty was undeniable, but Percy knew better than most not to be deceived by her looks. She could be cold blooded when she wanted to be.

Calypso and Percy had lived next door to each other for as long as either could remember. Her father, Atlas, a cold and hardened man, was one of Poseidon's top men. Percy imagined his father had placed the mother of his child next door to him as some sort of protection. Whatever the reason, Percy had got to grow up with another close friend right next door. Atlas had sent Calypso's mother packing when she was very young, or she'd run away from him; even Calypso wasn't entirely sure. It meant she'd spent a lot of time next door with Percy and his mom growing up. Whenever Atlas was home late, or she needed some motherly advice from Sally, or just a distraction, she'd be straight over. The two of them only got closer as they went through adolescence. Calypso was a year older than Percy (she'd already finished her time a Yancy), but that had never been something either of them even noticed.

At first they'd just been friends, always able to knock next door if they wanted to do something. As Calypso had aged, her beauty became more and more evident, until the attraction a fifteen year old Percy had felt towards her became totally undeniable. Luckily, she had been feeling the exact same way, and since then the two friends had become something more. Calypso was the type of girl who hated labels, hated the idea of being tied down, so they'd never officially called each other boyfriend or girlfriend. That suited Percy just fine too. In his mind she could never be his girlfriend; she was just Calypso, a permanent part of his life. 'Girlfriend' meant a potential break-up, and he and Calypso could never really break up. She was his friend above everything else, and whatever physical relationship they had, they always seemed to make their friendship work. The two had been very close for the first year or so, and though their romance (if that was even the word for it) had died down more recently, they still held affection for the other one. It was an affection Calypso didn't have for many other people, and Percy had seen first-hand the grudges she could hold; she was her father's daughter after all. Slowly, the petite girl stepped closer to him.

"Hey." She asked, using that same innocent tone. Percy laughed under his breath.

"Hey to you too." She was face to face with him now, albeit more face to chest. Her almond eyes had a wicked glint in them; it was always difficult to tell whether Calypso was playing games or not.

"So… how was your day?" She looked into his eyes.

"Really, you're carrying on with the shit small talk?" He asked. A smile appeared on her lips as she looked down, before looking back up, her head tilted sideways slightly.

"No." She replied plainly, before moving her hands to the back of Percy's neck. "You in the mood to… hang out at my place?" Despite himself, Percy could feel something inside himself growing, an animal hunger. He'd had a stressful day, why not relax for a while?

"Calypso, there are plenty of other guys here who you've 'hung out' with before." he told her, emphasizing the words, "Why don't you find one of them?" He eyed her suspiciously, a small smirk playing on his lips.

"They're good enough, they'll get to fourth base, maybe, but you're the only one who gets a home run." She eyed him seductively, and he couldn't help the smile that spread wider across his face. Percy took in her aroma, an intoxicating blend of marijuana and perfume. "What d'you say Percy?" He sighed, she sure did make a tempting offer, but he was curious as to how far she was willing to go to convince him.

"As tempting as that sounds, I have to decline." He didn't sound sure of himself, and Calypso could tell.

"How about if I convince you?" In one second, her other hand reached up behind his neck and her lips met Percy's. His eyes closed and they were both suddenly lost in the moment, as their lips familiarized themselves with each other's once more. Instinctively he wrapped his arms around her, one hand caressing her back, while the other rested on her neck. Calypso in return gripped onto some of Percy's hair, as they pulled each other closer. After a few moments (he couldn't really tell if it was seconds or minutes), Percy pulled away. As he looked back at her, she pouting, which made him laugh; he couldn't deny she looked really cute when she did that.

"Well how could I refuse an offer that inviting?" he joked back, before taking her in his arms and moving the two of them towards the door. The height difference was so much that he could carry her easily, and she laughed the whole time. As they entered her apartment, practically identical to his own, he slammed the front door shut and made for her bedroom. He knew the route well, and also knew that her father wasn't home; he was hardly ever in when it was light outside. Eventually he placed her gently down on the floor, before she pulled at his shirt, forcing him closer to her. The two fell down hard on the bed, lost in a tangle of limbs and discarded clothes.

"So how was your day? You never actually answered." Calypso spoke softly, slowly running her finger up and down Percy's arm. It was well over an hour since he'd got back from school, and the two of them were lying naked next to each other, Calypso's thin sheets barely covering anything. Now was the time when they would usually speak their minds to each other, venting their feelings unashamedly. They'd always had that element to their friendship, but they were surprised at how much easier it was after an hour or so of a very different kind of therapy. For whatever flaws their relationship had, they certainly at least felt like they helped each other through things.

"Awful," he replied candidly, never feeling the need to sugar coat things with her. "I had a weird tingling sensation down my spine the whole day, always reminding me I don't fit in. I don't sit up as straight, I don't walk as fast, I don't smile as much. Every single thing about the place reminds me of how little I belong there. I'm not saying I miss Yancy, but at least I fit in there, I feel comfortable. You wouldn't have recognised me for most of the day today." He laughed at that last line, Calypso listening intently the whole time, never stopping the gentle caressing her hand of his bicep. Percy enjoyed the sensation, a soothing reminder that this was the world he was grounded in.

"Of course you don't fit in," Calypso replied, "no one at that school has lived anything even close to the kind of life you have. But don't let that get you down." He reached up and turned his head, so that he was looking her straight in the eye.

"You're better than all of them combined." She sounded confident and assured, like she knew the truth even if Percy didn't. "Their whole life is material, it's about what they've got; a car, expensive clothes, their fancy holidays. You know what it's like to live, to really live. To you, family, friendship, loyalty, all means something completely different. They've got privilege and luxury but they don't value anything like you do. Don't let their world blind you to that." She spoke candidly, and Percy could tell it she meant every word. It was these moments where he realised how much he valued her friendship. Sure, the intimacy was fun, and gave them both a release valve, but it was this kind of advice that made it all worth doing. They'd grown up together, literally from the moment they could walk. It was a short list of people who knew Percy as well as the girl lying next to him, so when she talked to him like this, he knew it was worth taking on board.

"Thanks" he whispered to her, smiling softly as he leant his head back against the headboard. She rested her head on his shoulder and they sat there for a few minutes, enjoying the comfortable silence. It was peaceful; there was no playful touching now, just two friends lying back and thinking.

He pondered what she'd said. It was only now that he was so far removed from the place that he could see Goode as she did. This morning it had been a prison, all-encompassing and overbearing. He had felt confined, trapped within the grey walls, which really wasn't a fun feeling for someone with ADHD. Beckendorf and his friends had been pleasant, but Percy could see what Calypso had described in each of them. They were carefree, relaxed and clearly having fun, as if slumming it with the poor kid for an hour as he tells his life's horror stories was their fun activity for the day. They'd been gripped on every word, shocked by some of the brutality, and Percy knew that right now they were all curled up in their cosy houses (no doubt mansions or Fifth Avenue apartments in most cases), still thinking of him as entertainment. That wasn't a luxury Percy had, he had to come back to that world, to live in it. Yet, it was that tough world that formed the bonds he had with all his closest friends, and he wouldn't change that for the world right now. Calypso was right, people at Goode didn't value their life and everything that makes it special, not the way he did. He was grateful to her for making him see it that way, for reminding him who he was.

"So how's things been with you?" Percy broke the silence. Calypso shifted slightly to the side so that she could look at him.

"Oh y'know, same old shit. Dad's not been home in two days, but I've been looking after myself." She sounded much quieter, and Percy could tell that she wasn't quite telling him everything. For as well as he knew her, she still had a hard time opening up about things, and Percy never liked to push her. She knew he would be there whenever she did need to talk.

"You just at the apartment all day?" he asked.

"Yeah, don't really get out much." Percy could tell. Her skin was porcelain white and she certainly didn't look like she was getting three meals a day; trips to the store didn't look like something she'd bothered with much. "I swear I feel like I'm going crazy in these walls sometimes, but I find ways to pass the time." At that she chuckled lightly.

"I can see that." Percy looked around her room and saw the evidence; books strewn across the floor, piles of DVDs scattered everywhere, and a side table covered in all sorts of illegal substances. He laughed as she suddenly reached across him and wiped some leftover powder off of a small mirror lying on the surface, before rubbing it into her gums. She raised her eyebrows, as if daring him to call her out, but he just smiled back amusedly.

"You doing that stuff a lot?" when he spoke, he sounded more concerned than he looked. The two of them had spoken about her habits before; Percy didn't mind the weed, but the other stuff worried him a bit more. He was far from innocent himself, even known to have gone overboard on occasion, but it was hardly a regular thing he did. With Calypso it was much more so. She always said she saw it as just fun but even she was willing to admit she could go overboard too. Being alone in her apartment all day probably didn't help to keep her distracted.

"No, not too often," she smiled back, clearly not insulted by his insinuation. She could tell Percy cared, and he hoped she was being honest with him. Suddenly she spoke again, this time sounding genuinely more concerned.

"I tried calling Zoe the other day," she was avoiding eye contact now, so Percy knew she was speaking honestly. She could look anyone in the eye and lie, but often struggled to maintain it for the truth.

Zoe was her older sister, and had even more problems with their father than Calypso did. She'd left home almost a year ago now, unable to be anywhere near Atlas without the two of them clashing. The walls at Olympus were pretty thick (luckily for him and Calypso), but Percy still remembered hearing shouting matches between Atlas and his eldest daughter on occasion, so loud would they get. He had often been the one who consoled the upset Calypso when her only family members both stormed off, and it hadn't gotten better as they'd grown up. Eventually Zoe decided she couldn't take it anymore. She simply upped and left one day, not even really saying a proper goodbye to her sister. The siblings had spoken since, but Percy knew it was still a sore wound for Calypso. All of a sudden she'd been left alone with their neglectful father, and that was really when a lot of her habits had escalated. Percy had listened to her rant furiously about Zoe countless times, so the fact that she had tried to reach out to her estranged sister was a big step. Zoe was apparently still in New York, although no one had seen her since she left, or knew where she actually lived.

"Did you get to talk to her?" he asked. Calypso was still avoiding his eyes.

"No, I don't know if she missed it or ignored it but she hasn't called back yet."

"Why did you call her?" he was trying to allow her to open up at her own pace.

"I don't know, I guess I was bored. Being cooped up gets you thinking. I just miss her." Calypso's voice was close to a whisper now, like she was afraid to even say the words.

"Well look, you did a good thing. Reaching out is the right thing to do, don't get yourself down too quickly." he tried to sound comforting.

"But if she wanted to talk she would've called back." It wasn't posed as a question, but Percy could tell she was asking him whether she sounded crazy.

"Maybe she's just been busy, or maybe she feels bad, like she's afraid to talk to you, or wouldn't know what to say. Either way, she knows you're there, you've taken a step. Don't let it stop you taking another. I'm sure she'll come around at some point." When he finished speaking, Calypso signed, leaning her head back down against Percy's torso.

"Thank you." This time it was her turn to say it to him, and they lay in silence for another minute or so. Eventually, she reached back across Percy, checking the time on her phone.

"You've gotta leave soon." Her voice was lively again, as she suddenly moved herself across his body, their bare bodies up close against each other, before she climbed off the other side of her bed. "I've got a date coming here." She jumped up lightly and hopped towards her table and mirror, her perky little curves bouncing ever so slightly as she moved. Still completely naked, she sat down in front of her mirror and began rooting around for makeup.

"You don't want me here for that?" he joked back, not moving from his comfortable seated position.

"I'm serious, I'm not gonna let you cock-block me." She smiled back at him through the mirror, already applying various makeup items Percy could never remember the names of.

"Who's the lucky guy?" He was having fun messing with her.

(Video) Yo-Kai Watch - Part 8 - Walkappa

"Just a guy I know," she replied innocently, "he's bringing some valuables 'round for me." Her smile was devilish now, causing Percy to roll his eyes.

"I didn't know screwing your dealer was considered a date now?" He knew the reaction he would get, as she turned quickly and dashed a makeup brush at him. He only just dodged, the brush missing his head by a couple of inches.

"Hey asshole, I will kick you out myself if you don't watch your mouth." Her voice was angry, but the smile on her face gave her amusement away. Percy held up his hands in mock surrender, and Calypso turned, grinning, back to her own reflection.

"I love it when you talk dirty to me." At that comment, Calypso burst out laughing, which made Percy smile. Her laugh was lighthearted, and he'd heard it from her far too little recently. As she got back to doing her makeup, Percy still didn't feel like moving.

"So does this guy have anything going for himself? Other than what he's selling of course."

"Well," Calypso pondered, "it helps that he's also got a girlfriend, a girlfriend who is about to be sorry she fucked with me." Her tone was suddenly much more sinister; Percy was always freaked out by how quickly she could turn. Luckily she never had with him, but he'd seen her switch on people in a second, revealing a vindictive, calculating side to her personality.

"What did she do to you?" Percy asked, always amused by her escapades.

"Oh nothing major, that's why I'm only fucking her boyfriend and not her father." It was one of those phrases that sounds like a joke, but Percy knew it wasn't an empty threat. One time at Yancy, one of Calypso's old best friends started spilling her secrets behind her back. Instead of just fighting her (just like all Olympians, Calypso had been no stranger to fighting over the years), she decided to mess with the girl's family instead, seducing her friend's father and subsequently breaking up the parents' marriage. It was fucked up, a Machiavellian scheme most wouldn't even think of; but that was Calypso. She'd grown up with a brutal father, so ruthlessness was normal to her. Percy had never really seen it as a bad thing; he'd hated the two-faced friend anyway, and at Olympus few people were completely innocent. He was just glad she'd never turned the evils on to him.

By now, Calypso was nearly done with her makeup, never using much anyway, and had begun combing through her hair. She had it up over her shoulder, and her bare, elegant back was exposed. Percy could make out some familiar scars, reminders from some of Atlas' 'punishments'. Percy wasn't without his own similar scars, but it still made him a little angry every time he saw them streaked across her pale skin. It's safe to say Percy and Atlas were hardly on the best of terms.

"You're not kicking me out yet, are you?" he asked.

"Not if you roll us a joint" Calypso replied, smiling back via her reflection. Percy duly obliged, taking some of the green buds from her bedside table and putting them into the grinder he found on it. As he worked away, he turned back to Calypso's direction.

"So does this dealer have a name?" he asked.

"Why, are you getting jealous?" she joked, smirking to herself slightly. By now she was done with her hair and had turned back to face him, body still on full display.

"No, I just want a name I can go after if he hurts you" Percy was smiling too, but only half joking. Letting some random guy into your apartment was hardly the safest thing you could do, let alone if that guy was a dealer. Sure he was just next door, but you could never be too careful.

"Ah, my knight in shining armour" Calypso clasped both her hands to her chest, giving Percy a mocking thankful look. As he finished rolling the joint, she got back up and made her way to the bed again. As they both lay back in their original positions, Percy lit up, breathing in the smoke and letting it billow around in his lungs before exhaling, passing it Calypso's way. He watched as waves of smoke drifted lightly up towards the ceiling. She began smoking, as the two of them sat again in another minute of silence.

"Ethan Nakamura, if you must know," she muttered, passing the joint back his way.

"Nakamura? Couple grades above us right?" Calypso nodded. Percy vaguely remembered him, a typical Yancy kid, dropped out early to make money selling instead.

"And how long until he's here?" Calypso checked the time on her phone again.

"About forty-five minutes." She replied, taking another drag on the joint.

"So we've still got time right?" He didn't need to say what he was propositioning, she knew. Her eyebrows raised questioningly, her face saying 'oh, do we now?' Percy grinned and began kissing her shoulder.

"Percy…" she muttered quietly, still puffing away at the joint.

"Come on, we'll be thirty minutes max," he grinned, slowly kissing his way lower down her arm, onto her body, and the rest.

"Okay," Calypso replied, smirking again, "but you better not ruin my makeup." At that, she laughed, as Percy threw the sheets back and they once again lost themselves in the moment.

Percy left Calypso's a little over thirty minutes later. There was no dramatic goodbye, just a quick peck and a 'see you 'round'. They weren't the type to get all mushy, and Percy found he was glad he'd accepted her advances earlier. It had de-stressed him big time, and he had felt at ease for the first time that day. His mind drifted back to his time spent at Goode, more specifically the girls. He wondered if he would spend time with any of them like he just had with Calypso; after all, he would be with them in class all day anyway, so why not explore possibilities. His mind floated to back to Annabeth for the first time in a little while. He was sure they had a connection of sorts, she'd even waited behind after class for him, and he did find her extremely attractive. She did of course have a boyfriend; that was usually an issue. There was also the fact that he actually barely knew her. Come to think of it, Percy didn't even know her last name. Annabeth what? He pondered all this as he took out his key and unlocked the front door.

"Mom! I'm home!" He shouted as he dropped his bag down by the door.

"In the kitchen!" His detour at Calypso's meant his mother was already home, usually working long eleven hour shifts at least five days a week at a candy shop near Grand Central. As Percy closed the door behind him, the smell of pasta wafted through the apartment. Percy's apartment was pretty small, identical to every other apartment in the estate. Right now, it was about as messy as the apartment he'd just left. They lived on the second floor of four, the area in front of their front door was a balcony-like walkway, facing onto a courtyard in the middle of the estate. Inside, their living room was connected to the kitchen, and there was a hallway that led to three rooms: Percy's room, his mom's room and a bathroom. The rooms themselves were small, but it was enough. Everyone who lived around here paid rent to Percy's father; Percy wasn't quite sure how he got away with it, but that was the way it had always been as long as he could remember. Either the regular fee, which was not extortionate anyway (especially so for New York), or a reduced rate, but in return they'd have to work for him if he ever needed it. Not strictly legal of course, but then again not much around here was. Percy's father, of course, didn't live with them, and though they were hardly charged the maximum rent, Percy and his mom weren't given a free ride by him either.

Percy walked into the kitchen, and saw his mother standing over the cooker. She turned and greeted him.

"Hi sweetie, where were you?"

Sally Jackson was the kindest, friendliest, and all around best woman Percy could think of. If there was one person in his life he was truly grateful for, it was his mother. He knew the struggles she had faced in her life, and he also knew how difficult it had been raising him practically single handedly. She was just 'that unlucky girl the boss knocked up', but she had made a good life for herself given the circumstances, and tried her hardest to make one for her son. Percy was aware that she disapproved of many of his life choices, but Sally also knew that there were very few alternatives for boys in Percy's situation. Percy in particular. Being the son of the boss meant there were expectations on him to be tough, to be no nonsense, to stand up for himself even when it seemed like a fools errand. So far, he had pretty much lived up to that. The expectations were another reason why Percy was surprised his dad made him change schools. Didn't he want him to follow in his footsteps? It would appear perhaps not.

"Oh, just seeing Calypso" he muttered back. His mother had helped look after Calypso when she'd been a baby, and treated the girl as family ever since. She'd always been fond of the idea of her son and Calypso together, and liked to check in on the troubled girl next door herself from time to time. Ever since the absence of her real mother, Sally had acted like Calypso's adopted one. There was probably something strange about that type of motherly relationship when judged against her, shall we say, less than brotherly relationship with Percy, but it all just felt so natural that they never really noticed it. At Olympus, you value those people you're close with and those who look out for you, regardless of how it may seem to others. They didn't spend too much time worrying about what others thought.

"How was school?" Sally asked, looking up from the pot she was stirring.

"It'll take some getting used to." He told her. He didn't have the heart to tell her how much he'd hated it, Sally was probably the only person excited about Percy's whole change of school. The way she saw it, this was finally an opportunity for her son to make something of himself, whatever that meant. Percy doubted he would achieve much, but he didn't want to burst his mom's bubble after just one day.

"Look, I know it may seem like a shock right now, not being around your friends all the time, but I promise you it'll all work out. You could really have a chance at a future outside of working for your father." She looked at him sympathetically, he knew exactly what she meant by 'working'. She was right, of course. Before, at Yancy, his future had just been two words. Family Business. That of course, was a clean way of saying drug dealer, armed thug, bank robber, whatever glove fit him best really. Honestly, Percy didn't know half of what his father did for 'business', but he could certainly take a few guesses.

"Is dad around?" Percy asked. Speaking of the family business, he wanted to know if he could expect a surprise visit from his father anytime soon. He wasn't a man who liked to wait around for long.

"No, he left the city for a few days, business. He'll be back at the end of the week." Percy knew what that meant; he was meeting a gangster or two, probably out in New Jersey somewhere. "He'll want to talk to you about school when he get's back"

"Oh, mom, you'll never guess who goes to Goode?" She raised her eyebrows as Percy changed the subject away from his father. "Beckendorf. Charles Beckendorf. Remember him?" Her eyes widened in astonishment.

"Yeah, Mark and Abby's son. He's at Goode?"

"Yeah, Abby remarried some Wall Street suit."

"I remember hearing that. Well good for her I guess." His mother smiled, before turning back to the food. But Percy detected more than that in her voice; he heard an itching. Making it out of this place was something he knew his mother craved. It was easy to stay; Percy's father wasn't entirely absent after all, and compared to other areas of the city it was pretty cheap, but that didn't mean she thought it was a good environment to be around. To hear that one of her old friends had made it out, married a millionaire and was probably lounging around a two-story New York apartment as they spoke? Well Percy guessed it must have hurt her a little. He doubted if Abby Beckendorf had even contacted her in a decade. Yet Percy knew his mother, she'd hate to make it out simply by marrying someone. She was proud, and if she ever moved on, it would be on her own merits, no one else's. "Dinner will be ready around eight, okay?" Her tone changed suddenly, as if there was no problem at all.

"Okay." he replied, and left the room.

Percy made his way to his bedroom; he just wanted to lie down on his bed for a minute, just one minute. As he did, he tried to turn off his brain, almost like meditation. He wanted one minute where he didn't have to think about anything, not about Goode or how out of place he felt there, or Yancy and how he strangely wished he was still there, not about Nico or Beckendorf or his other friends, not about Mrs. Dodds, not about old memories at his old school or potential memories at his new school, not about Calypso, not about his mother or his father, and not about Annabeth. No, he had had far too much on his mind all day now. He wanted one minute where he thought about nothing.

Nothing at all.

Chapter 6

Chapter Text


The radio blared away in the car as Annabeth sped down the road. At this time of day, just before the rush of people returning home from their nine to five jobs, the roads were pretty empty, particularly around Annabeth's neighborhood. Of course, her parents were not a part of that demographic. No, they were rarely home before at least eight o'clock, and that was on a good day. In the past five years, Annabeth had gotten pretty used to the absence of her parents. At times, she felt like she practically lived alone. The only company she ever had at home came from Matthew and Bobby, which wasn't saying much.

Despite the fact that they shared a house, and blood, Annabeth had never felt extremely close to her brothers. Maybe it was because they were twins and had each other instead, or because she had to act as the parent figure so often, but they'd just never bonded as they'd grown up. That didn't mean she didn't love them, they were her brothers; it just meant that they didn't really spend time together. They had no private jokes that only siblings would get, she struggled to choose Christmas presents for them. Annabeth wasn't even sure if she knew what their favourite TV show was, or who their best friends at school were. There were often times when Annabeth wondered if she was a bad sister. They never seemed to be upset by the fact that she kept to herself, but then again, maybe they were and just didn't know how to tell her. Her lack of a relationship with Bobby and Matthew bothered Annabeth, mainly because it was not a problem she could blame on her parents. If she wanted to connect with them, she would have to make an effort.

She wondered how her brothers had gotten on with their first day. They were clearly just as embarrassed to be seen with their big sister as she would be to be driving them home every day. They must've made some friends who got the bus home, or decided to make their own way back. They'd probably make it home around the same time as her if they hadn't been lying. Honestly, as long as they actually got home Annabeth didn't care, and she knew they would. For as much as they enjoyed mischief, it was all very childish and immature; they weren't going out at night and getting involved with anything bad, not like anything Percy had described earlier. He'd barely been older than them in some of his stories. No, Annabeth imagined Percy had been a very different type of fourteen-year-old to her brothers. She wondered whether she'd even notice having her brothers at school with her. Her mind when to Thalia; she complained about Jason on a daily basis, and Annabeth hoped she would never reach that point. Despite being in the grade below, Jason was firmly a part of their gang. Half of them had known him about as long as they'd known Thalia anyway. He and Luke were the best of friends, and it never felt weird having him around. Despite that, Annabeth could tell it irritated Thalia, and that she wished he would hang out with his own grade more often.

Thalia's parents didn't have a great relationship. Her father was one of New York's biggest judges, and her mother was a washed up old actress living off of the millions she made in her youth. Nowadays, she was the kind of person who appeared on celebrity game shows, and the only time she was really in the news was whenever she got another DUI. Theirs was, as far as Thalia had told Annabeth, a loveless marriage. It had made the Grace siblings quite cold and abrasive towards people, and that extended to each other too. They'd never been close, argued a lot, and Thalia had often confided in Annabeth that she wasn't really sure if she actually loved him. While she would hardly say she was close to her own brothers, it had never gotten that bad. She knew she loved them.

'What if you're just lying to yourself?' A dark thought passed through her mind from a dark part of her brain, 'Do you even know what love is?' The thought scared her, it preyed on her fears and insecurities. She was certain she loved the twins, but the more she thought, the more she suddenly realised she couldn't tell you anything about them. Was her mind just blanking in sheer panic, or was she really imagining a sibling relationship that just wasn't there. They hardly spoke, didn't really talk unless Annabeth was acting the parent. Maybe she was wrong? Did that count as love? It had to, they were her brothers. It was a given that she loved them, right?

'Excuses, excuses. Running from the truth.' Another voice lingered in her mind, deeper and rougher than a moment before.

"Shut up!" Annabeth muttered under her breath. She quickly pulled over to the side of the road to regain her composure; it was dangerous to drive like this. It wasn't the first time she had lost herself in a hole of anxious overthinking, and she hated the confused, insecure feeling that always came with it. She did an excellent job keeping her composure around people, but every so often when she was alone with her thoughts, her brain was liable to go wild. It hadn't always been a problem, but as she had gone through school she had noticed the frequency increasing. She would question herself, doubt herself and punish herself mentally and there was nothing she could do to stop it. It scared her because it showed her all aspects of her personality. The insecurity, the self doubt, the pressure put on her; it would come out all guns blazing. A voice in her head would tell her it knew she was living a lie. She felt like shouting back at it.

"I know who I am!"

"I know what I am!"

But the voice would reply, always.

'So do I Annabeth. I know you better than you want to admit.'

That same voice; it was always there in the back of her mind. She had a moment of doubt, a moment of worry, a moment of weakness, there it was, ready to pounce, ready to twist the thorn in her side. She wanted to scream at it.


The same reply, always.

'I am you...'


Annabeth was breathing heavily, trying to get it to stop. Her mind was in complete disorder. She had to rein it in, and fast. The voice was usually her voice, but it had been known to be her mother's from time to time. Only today, it was neither. It had a deeper sound, a rougher, slightly more sympathetic sound to it. Whenever it was Athena's voice, it was cold and harsh but today was different, the voice belonged to another. She knew she recognised it too, but couldn't quite put her finger on it.

Her thoughts were broken by a tapping on her window. She turned her head so quickly, that the curious woman standing there jumped back a bit with surprise. Annabeth wound down her window.

"You alright in there honey?" The woman asked politely. She had an expensive blue tracksuit on and a poodle on a leash. She must've been about sixty.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Annabeth asked. It came across as quite snappy.

"Well… I was just walking past and thought you looked pretty distressed sitting there. Look, you're shaking" she pointed out. Annabeth hadn't noticed it until now, but her hands were a quivering mess. She took another deep breath.

"I'm fine, really. Thank you though."

"Alright, take care now." The woman wagged her finger before walking off with her dog. Annabeth sat there for a minute longer, before taking off; she was only a few minutes away from her house. That had been embarrassing, she really had to get a grip. She didn't recognise the older woman, but that didn't mean the woman didn't know who she was. Some of the old housewives in the neighbourhood could be such busybodies, and gossip could spread just as quickly as it did in Goode. The last thing she wanted was word getting around that the Chase's daughter was having nervous breakdowns.

She thought back to her little meltdown. They had been happening more and more over the last year. Telling the school counselor had crossed her mind, and she even thought about going to see a psychiatrist, but she didn't want to have to explain to her parents why she felt it would help her. The voice was gone for now. Annabeth had no doubt it would be back, but for now, she was fine. She still couldn't put her finger on whose voice it had been today, and that concerned her. She knew it from somewhere.

As she pulled into the empty driveway of the three-story house, Annabeth heard her phone buzz in her pocket. She quickly turned off the radio and checked it. A message from Luke popped up on her lock screen. She groaned inwardly; she wasn't in the mood to talk to Luke right now. She had to get in and do her Psychology and Physics homework, as well as piano practice. She didn't want any excuse to have to face her mother's disapproving glare. That always seemed like the reason for Annabeth's hard working attitude, 'I don't want to annoy mom'. What kind of life was it where she was constantly wondering how she could get her mother to pay attention to her? A mother shouldn't make her child feel like this, surely? Annabeth immediately pushed those thoughts away. Looking back down at her phone, she saw that message from Luke still there, waiting for her to slide it to the right so she could see it. She shoved it back into her pocket. She would check it later.

The house key clicked as it turned in the lock, and Annabeth tentatively stepped inside.

"Hello?" she called. No reply. If the school bus was on time, she guessed that there were maybe five minutes before she had company. She put her school bag at the bottom of the staircase and walked into the kitchen, where only this morning her mother had informed her she needed to work 'harder than ever before'. Annabeth snorted; that would be damn difficult to do. Her mother seemed to be the only person in the world who didn't know how hard Annabeth worked. As her eyes moved across the kitchen, she spotted the cabinet where the alcohol was kept. Annabeth wasn't the heaviest drinker in the world, but she did like to let loose every now and then at parties. She heard her soft steps on the tiled floor as her legs moved her to the cabinet on the other side of the room. It was a bad idea, but also a tempting one. Annabeth did need to relax; her last half hour had been very stressful. Her hands went to the cabinet doors.

'Stop it Annabeth!' she thought to herself.

'Relax, just a bit.' That damn voice again. This time it was like the devil on her left shoulder, tempting her, while the angel on the right pleaded.

The cabinet contained some very old, expensive whiskey, as well as bourbon and a bottle of vodka. Her hand rested on the vodka bottle.

'Stop it!' the angel pleaded.

'Just one shot, mom and dad will never notice'. Annabeth's parents didn't like her drinking at all. She was occasionally allowed small amounts of wine, but even then that was only because it was a special occasion and they had a small cellar full of the stuff. Besides, she didn't care much for wine. Now vodka on the other hand, that was more to Annabeth's taste. Her resting hand was still placed on the bottle. It was cool to the touch.

'You have school work to do, forget this.'

'No, that's no fun. Have some fun.'

The angel and devil were getting louder and louder. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, the front door slamming shut.

"Annabeth? We're home" Bobby called from the lobby.

The cabinet door slammed shut too. She quickly composed herself; the last thing she wanted was her brothers finding her like this.

"Yeah," she called back, "in the kitchen."

The twins stuck their heads round the door, smiling mischievously, before making their way in. Matthew went straight to the fridge, while Bobby sat on the chair around the counter in the middle of the room.

"Your day as shit as ours?" he asked her, still grinning.

"Don't swear." Annabeth warned them.

"Why not?" Bobby responded, faking offense.

"Because you're only thirteen, and if mom or dad hears you swear, they'll get angry with me, not you." She looked at him sternly, before cracking a smile. "Hey, that goes for you too." She wagged he finger at Matthew as well, still smiling.

"I didn't even say anything." Matthew closed the fridge, and put the milk on the counter. He pulled out a bowl and some cereal.

"Are you eating cereal?" Annabeth asked in disbelief, as if the concept of eating cereal mid-afternoon was completely alien to her. Matthew poured the contents of the box into the bowl.

"Yeah, there's never a bad time to have some cereal." He said it with such conviction, as if he based his entire life and morals on that one message. Annabeth just laughed. She knew that this would probably be the only interaction she had with her brothers for the rest of the evening, so she was going to try to make the most of it.

"So come on, how was school today? You get lost after you left me? I didn't see you all day" She asked them. This was good right? She was making an effort?

"Man, it was not good." Matthew spoke up.

"Yeah," Bobby agreed, "I already hate being a freshman." That made Annabeth laugh.

"You think freshman year is bad, wait till you're a senior. What I wouldn't give to be a freshman again," she said. "What teachers do you have?"

"We had Miss Johnson for English, Mr. White for Chemistry, um, I can't remember many of the others." Bobby said.

"I think we have Mrs. Dodds for Math later this week." Matthew sounded less than thrilled. Rumours of the mean old teacher were told to incoming freshman every year, with each cycle of tales more terrible than the last. Annabeth could almost laugh at their faces, she remembered exactly how they felt.

"Well just don't talk back to her and you should be fine," she smiled. "I had her today. Some new kid today really chewed her ass right in front of everyone, and she didn't say a word."

"No way!" Bobby exclaimed. "Who?" The twins' interest was suddenly piqued, sharing a cautious glance, as if they were more scared of this new boy than the legendary math teacher.

"Some kid called Percy, Percy Jackson, he's just transferred"

"And he stood up to her?" Matthew looked almost worried. Annabeth just had to laugh again.

"Yeah, I thought he was crazy, but he seems nice enough," she looked back at her brothers expressions, remembering being their age, when everything that happened at school felt like such a big deal.

"He must be so cool" Bobby muttered to Matthew, who nodded, suddenly looking much more excited than just a second ago. Annabeth could never get the hang of their ever changing moods. Pretty soon a silence engulfed them. This was what usually happened when she talked to her brothers: a few minutes of light conversation followed by an awkward silence. It would usually last, unless of course, they brought up…

"So when are we gonna get to see your hot friends again?"

… that. If Bobby and Matthew Chase were grateful for one thing, it was that their sister had incredibly attractive friends. Annabeth laughed to herself.

"I'm just saying, it's been nearly two months," Bobby added, a small smile on his face. Matthew was smirking too.

"Yeah, you saw them today right? How are they looking?" Matthew enquired.

"Hey man, I bet Thalia looked great today."

"I told you man, Silena's way hotter."

"I can see that." This carried on for another minute, Annabeth watching in amusement. Oh to be a teenage boy, she thought. When they both finished their little debate on the attractiveness of her friends, Annabeth responded with a simple

"You two are gross." She gave them a look of disapproval.

"At least tell us what they were all wearing today?" Bobby asked.

"There's no way I'm answering that."

"Shit…" Bobby uttered under his breath. He meant it to be quiet, but clearly it was too loud, because Annabeth span around to face him.

"I told you, watch your language!" This time she didn't crack a smile.

"Okay, so we can't swear, but you can fuck Luke anytime you want right?" Bobby quickly responded. It was said casually enough, but he clearly realised his mistake as he finished his sentence.

The awkward silence earlier in their conversation had been nothing compared to this one. Bobby looked like he wasn't even breathing. Annabeth's grey eyes met his blue ones. They both had Frederick Chase's eyes, which had always made Annabeth a little jealous; she would've loved to have her father's eyes. They were kinder, not as harsh as her grey orbs. Right now though, she imagined her grey eyes looked quite intimidating. She imagined she looked quite like Athena right now, but didn't know how to respond. Did she want to shout at him? Perhaps she should use the silent strategy? Should she just let it go? This was a whole new situation for her to be in, Bobby had never said anything like that to her before. It was the sort of line that might've gone down fine if they had a close relationship, the kind of rude jab siblings are allowed to make. But the reality was they weren't that close. Bobby suddenly looked very worried; he had no idea how his sister would react. That made the both of them. In the end, Annabeth just shook her head slowly. Bobby understood what it meant. This is your first and only warning, don't push it.

"I've got homework to do." She stated, looking at both of them. "I'll be in my room if you need me." She turned her gaze back to Bobby one last time. "Are we good?"

"Yeah. Annie I'm really sorry-" She cut him off before he could make a speech.

"It's fine, forget it."

"I know, but-"

"Bobby! It's fine. I'm not mad, I know you didn't mean it" she repeated. He nodded. Inside, she was cursing herself, why did she have to make a big thing out of it? She'd been wishing she could be closer with them, but now it felt as though she'd put another block in that road. Wasn't pushing the limits with comments like that part of being a sibling? Dejectedly, she decided to put it behind her and let them both get on with their afternoons.

Annabeth walked out of the kitchen and up the large staircase, grabbing her bag on the way up. Her room, as well as the bathroom, spare bedrooms and her brothers' bedroom, was up the first flight of stairs. If you carried on up the second flight, you'd reach her parent's room and the office. She strode into her room and threw her bag down. Then just fell onto her bed, literally. As she lay there, feeling the benefits of a memory foam mattress, she contemplated her day. It had mainly consisted of voices in her head, which she really needed to get a grip on fast, and Percy Jackson. Whenever her mind wasn't taunting her, it had been thinking about that strange boy. What was it about him? Annabeth had asked herself that a few times today, and she was yet to come up with an answer. She settled for the fact that he was new, mysterious and, from what he told them at lunchtime, quite dangerous. It was just a phase, Annabeth was sure of it. He would leave her thoughts soon enough. What if he didn't though? She barely seemed to have a grip on her own mind, could she really trust herself to just stop thinking about him? After all, she did hear voices.

Suddenly she put it together. Holy Shit. The voice she heard in the car, it hadn't been her own, or her mother's, it had been Percy's. She had heard his voice call her out on her insecurities. Percy Jackson. Why was he the voice in her head? She had only just met him. Why, when she felt weak, was it Percy Jackson that she heard echoing in her head? Percy Fucking Jackson. Now more than ever, he was running through her mind. All she could see was his face, his smirk, his sea green eyes. He radiated confidence. He had a charm about him that made Annabeth crazy. Why did he have this affect on her? She had never been struck by a person like this before. Never. She shook her head; she didn't have time for this right now. She had a pile of homework that she wanted gone, and it wasn't going to just vanish into thin air. Pushing Percy Jackson from her mind, she got up from her bed, sat at her desk, and pulled her Psychology book from her bag.


That was the time on Annabeth's phone when she finally finished all her work. She'd taken a break halfway through to heat up some leftover dinner for her and her brothers, but she hadn't really been on her phone since she got back home. There were three messages from three different people: the one from Luke she ignored earlier, one from Thalia and one from her dad. She opened the one from her father first.

I'll be back around 9:30. Hope school went well today.

Annabeth didn't bother replying, he would know she had gotten it. She then checked the message from Luke, the one he had sent hours ago.

Hey, wanna meet up tonight? x

She quickly typed a reply, something along the lines of no, she still had homework and she was pretty tired. The last thing she wanted right now was to meet up with Luke, especially after the day she had had. Finally, she checked Thalia's text.

I'm bored af at home, got Silena with me, wanna hang out?

Just as Annabeth was about to reply with another no, she thought about it. She could do with some time with her two best friends. She might actually get to relax for the first time today. She typed a reply.

Sounds good, you two wanna come to my place? House is free for a few hours.

Within a minute, Thalia confirmed that they'd be at Annabeth's house in about ten minutes. Both her and Silena didn't live far away from Annabeth. She just wanted to make sure her brothers weren't around to ogle at them.

The ringing doorbell echoed through the large house. As Annabeth walked down the hallway, she thought about just how immense their house was. They had about six bedrooms overall, but half of them were always empty. It was very modern; Athena had had a hand in designing it herself, and had gone all out. The two spacious offices upstairs, one for each parent, took up more than half of the floor. Downstairs, there was the kitchen, and the living room, which was decorated completely with art and sculptures. The exception was the staircase, which looked like something out of a 1940's costume drama. Yes, this house was Annabeth's mother's dream, her crowning glory, her Mona Lisa. Annabeth had to admit she did love living here. However that didn't mean, at times, she didn't find the whole thing very ostentatious. The place practically screamed money. Then again, so did every other house in the neighborhood.

Annabeth crossed the lobby to the front door, and opened it with a smile, seeing her two oldest friends standing in front of her. Thalia was still wearing the same punk style clothes she had on at school, while Silena had changed into a new pair of designer jeans and a pink top that showed off her features very well. Annabeth was always amazed at how Silena could wear anything and pull it off. Hell, she could probably wear a garbage bag and still look stunning.

"Annie, you gonna let us in?" Thalia asked lightly.

"No, I was thinking about leaving you on my front step." Annabeth replied sarcastically, before moving to the side to let them walk past her.

"Damn, I missed your house. I feel like I haven't been here in ages" Thalia exclaimed. She was right; it had been over two months since Annabeth had last had any friends over.

"I wish our house had this kind of modern design to it." Silena sighed. "Mom's changed it all up again at home. She's gone for the whole feng shui feel; said we need to 'harmonize with where we live'; like it wasn't weird enough before." Annabeth laughed. Silena's mother owned and ran a beauty product company, one of America's largest, but she was very eccentric. It wasn't hard to imagine her frantically changing the layout of her entire house in a whim.

"Well if you ever want to live here, just ask. We always have empty rooms," Annabeth jokingly offered, to which they laughed. She knew that they wouldn't seriously accept, but that made her feel a strange sadness. It would be a dream to share a house with someone who she actually got on with well, someone who really knew her, and no one knew her better than these two girls.

They walked up the stairs to Annabeth's room, chatting about nothing important, and when they finally reached the room, Thalia jumped onto straight onto the bed, sighing.

"Your bed is so comfortable" she moaned, before sitting up. Silena sat on the foot of her bed, while Annabeth pulled up her desk chair.

"So, you never finished telling me about Italy this morning." Silena looked at her and smiled.

"I told you, nothing to tell" Annabeth replied innocently.

"That's bullshit and you know it Annabeth Chase" Thalia responded. She gave in, knowing there was no way in hell she was ever going to withhold any details from these two. They spent the next thirty minutes talking and laughing, as she told them everything about Italy. The sights, the beaches, the sun and of course, what Silena really wanted to know, the boys. Specifically, Aldo, who Annabeth had gotten to know very well while she was there.

"So anyway, we didn't agree to like, keep in touch or anything, it was just a summer thing." She concluded.

"He sounds great, I wish I could've met him." Silena laughed.

"Silena, you have a boyfriend, remember? Beckendorf?" Thalia reminded her.

"I didn't mean it like that" she responded, rolling her eyes. "Besides, so does Annabeth. Why does she not get reminded?" She raised her perfect eyebrows questioningly back at her friend.

"Because you and Beckendorf actually like each other. Annabeth and Luke aren't like you two are." Thalia replied. Annabeth knew what Thalia meant; it wasn't that she didn't like Luke as such, more that they weren't nearly as close as Silena and Beckendorf were.

"Silena, you wouldn't cheat on Beckendorf. You love him" Annabeth assured her.

"I don't love him, okay? I just… I don't know. Maybe I do love him…" She sounded confused; like it was something she was trying to put together in her head. They had been dating for a little over a year by now. And for as coy as she was being, Annabeth would bet good money that her best friend was very much in love with her sweetheart. She would admit it to herself in her own time.

"Can we change the subject please?" Silena asked.

"Yeah sure." Thalia wrapped her arm around Silena, "How about… ooh, the new kid, Percy."

Shit. Would this boy not leave her alone? Annabeth couldn't exactly ask to change the topic; that would make her friends suspicious. Sure, they shared almost everything, but she wouldn't be comfortable sharing the fact that she heard his voice talking to her all day, they'd think she was mental. In all honesty she probably was.

"Yeah, he seemed mysterious" Silena stated. "D'you believe the stories he told us?"

"Yeah. Usually I'd say that he made them up to sound cool on his first day, but he is from Yancy. The whole thing with Mrs. Dodds didn't even seem like it registered for him. I think this guy means what he says," Thalia said, and Annabeth had to agree. Percy wasn't just the typical new kid. Most of them were transfers from places like L.A. or Miami, or foreign students who'd just arrived with wealthy parents. Quite how Percy, a tough kid from the other side of the tracks, had managed to get a place at one of New York's most prestigious high schools was frankly a little baffling. Percy must surely have some idea himself, and Annabeth silently promised herself that she would ask him some day.

"I had no idea that Charlie used to live in that area though." Silena was the only person who referred to her boyfriend by his first name, Charles.

"Me neither. I guess he probably knew some of the kids Percy was talking about. Like that kid who set the desk on fire. Nico was it?" Thalia said.

"Yeah, that sounded bad. You think Percy's dangerous? Like, should we be hanging out with him?" Silena sounded worried.

"I don't know, what d'you think Annie? Annie?"

Annabeth was suddenly aware that she had been listening, completely silent. She hadn't said a word since they brought up Percy, completely lost in thought.

"Earth to Annabeth, hello?" Thalia's voice brought her back.

"Yeah? Uh, no. No, I don't think Percy's dangerous. Well maybe, I don't know" she muttered, aware that she sounded zany. Thalia and Silena exchanged looks.

"Annabeth, are you alright?" Thalia sounded concerned. She rested her hand on Annabeth's knee, who in return placed her hand on top of Thalia's.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, really." She knew they didn't believe her. "Really, I'm just tired. That's all." Thalia slowly nodded, and removed her hand.

"You know you can talk to us, right?" Silena reassured her.

"Yeah." Annabeth let a small smile move across her lips.

"Anyway, you'll never guess what?" Silena sounded excited; this was probably gossip, which had that effect on her. She's probably spent her entire first day back gathering as many new secrets and rumours about most people in the school.


"I was talking to Rachel, and she said that she already has her eyes set on Percy." Annabeth froze. What? Rachel liked Percy?

"But she only met him today?" Annabeth pointed out, trying to sound cool. Underneath, she was anything but. She didn't know what she was feeling.

"I know, but she said something about first impressions, and him being really hot, which he is. I think she likes the bad boy vibe he's got going. She's gonna try and get him to come along to a party as soon as possible."

Annabeth was worried again; this was a feeling she wasn't used to. She was vaguely aware that her best friends were still talking, but she couldn't even hear them. Why did she feel like this? What was this? So Rachel liked Percy, so what? But as much as she tried, Annabeth couldn't shift the feeling. It was stuck there, in her gut. In one day, Percy Jackson had come into her life and seemingly implanted himself in her brain, and now she couldn't shake him off. Why? He had been the voice in her head, and now he was causing this feeling. Because Annabeth now knew what the feeling was, and it worried her, because she had rarely felt it before.


Chapter 7

Chapter Text


Percy woke on Friday morning to the sound of his alarm clock ringing away. He sat up, reached over to turn it off, and jumped out of bed. Percy was surprisingly looking forward to a day at Goode today. He couldn't wait to get to school, because the sooner he was in school, the sooner school would be finished. And after today, Percy would have completed a whole week. Only twenty-five more to go.

What a strange week it had been. Percy had, at times, felt like aliens had abducted him and forced him to integrate with their society. Goode High School was becoming the prison where Percy was kept from eight to four. He would go to lessons or engage in mindless small talk with people he didn't actually like, all the while watching the second hand slowly tick round his cheap watch. Since his first day, and what was now being described as his 'showdown' with Mrs. Dodds, Percy had kept himself out of trouble. He had always loved how overblown rumors became in school. The story had changed from Percy talking back to Mrs. Dodds, to Percy threatening to punch her, squaring up to her face to face or even, Percy had overheard one student say, threatening to set her desk on fire. Well that had gotten out quickly. Not that it bothered Percy too much; it just meant he got a few extra glances here and there. Reputation could be a useful thing at a new school. He'd had one or two more lessons with Mrs. Dodds since then, but he hadn't acted out, and she, to the shock of most, was acting like nothing had happened. It seemed like she wasn't even acknowledging Percy's existence anymore, which was perfectly fine with him.

His lunchtimes had been spent with 'the gang'. They'd all sit at the same table every Lunch and talk about the same bullshit. Now and then they'd ask Percy some questions about his past, no doubt wanting another story, another Percy Jackson special. Well who was he to deny his audience. Yesterday though, he had accidently added a bit more violent detail to one of his stories.

They were all sitting round the same table, captivated by another of Percy's stories.

"Okay, so this big kid walks up to me, he's maybe like seventeen-eighteen? I knew who he was from school, mean bastard. Really tough, got some tattoos on his arms already, a few of his boys behind him. I was maybe, thirteen or fourteen at the time. Fourteen I think." Percy tells them. He was very animated, something the gang noticed every time he told them about his life.

"Anyway," Percy continued, "He walks up to me, and he's like 'yo, you wouldn't be thinking you're some tough shit if your daddy was gone.' Well it was something like that anyway, I don't exactly remember. Point is, he was trying to pick a fight, and he wanted to fight me. It would be my cousin Nico and me against three big guys." Everyone's eyes were on Percy. He made eye contact with all of them, making sure that they were listening. His eyes met a pair of stormy grey ones. They shared a momentary look before he moved on.

"So Nico says to the guy 'you're still scared shitless of his dad though'. Now this kid doesn't want to look scared in front of his buddies does he? No, he wants to look tough, so he's like 'Shut the fuck up, I ain't fuckin' scared of no-one little man, especially not this asshole's dad. You better watch who you're talking to.' Suddenly, my father walks around the corner of the alleyway. Turns out, he had heard every fuckin' word that asshole had said to me, and as you can guess, he wasn't amused." There were smiles on the faces of some of the gang. Percy wasn't sure what they expected. If this had been a fairy tale, or a bedtime story, this would be the point where the heroic father scares off the evil monsters threatening his son. That was one way of looking at it, Percy thought, but they probably won't see it that way. He digressed.

"So suddenly, this guy's face to face with my father, who hasn't said a word yet. The guy starts muttering an apology. I'm sorry sir; it won't happen again sir, I meant nothing by it sir, all that bullshit. Then my father looks back at me, before turning to face him again, and he says quietly, he says 'you were threatening my son'. It wasn't a question; it was a statement, a fact. Before the guy can even open his mouth, he's got a fist in his face. My father punches him square on the nose. Then he grabs the guy's collar with his free hand and carries on punching. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten." With every number, Percy would hit his palm with his fist.

"The guy's bleeding everywhere, there's blood all over my father's fist and all up his sleeve. He lets go of the guy, who falls straight to the floor. He gets a few kicks for good measure before his boys go and pick him up to take him away. Turns out, my father broke that piece of shit's nose and jaw." Percy looked around and saw looks of shock on the gang's faces, but this wasn't shock like when he'd told them about the burning desk. This was scared shock. The looks he was receiving were ones of horror. He suddenly realized he had gotten carried away, revealed much more than he intended to, and sounded happy doing it.

"Anyway, they never bothered me again." he said quickly, suddenly quite self-conscious. He looked down. Luke broke the silence, grinning.

"Hardcore man." Some of the others nodded in agreement. Percy couldn't meet their eyes; the moment of fear he'd seen in them reflected back every insecurity he had about this place. With how fast word got around at Goode, he was sure the whole school would think he was a violent psychopath by the end of the day. He cursed himself for forgetting where he was, and who he was with.

"Percy?" Annabeth's voice made him look up. They hadn't spoken since that walk after Psychology on his first day. "What does your father do?"

That was the question he didn't want to hear asked. What did his father do? He couldn't tell them the truth. 'Oh, y'know, he's one of the biggest gangsters in New York and runs nearly all crime in my area of town', no that was not an option.

"He's… a businessman."

"And he beats people up?" Annabeth replied curiously, clearly not believing Percy.

"He's in the hostile takeover business." Percy's tone was sharp, his voice told them to drop it, and they did. No one brought it up again the rest of the day.

Looking back at that moment, Percy kicked himself. He had gotten carried away while talking. He had the intention of telling them that his father had just intimidated the boys, scared them off. But halfway through, he had gotten lost in the story, reliving every moment of it, every fantastic moment of it. You see, that particular memory was one of the best Percy had. Why? It was the one of the only times in his life that his father had openly showed his love for Percy.

The average person would see it as a moment of violence; a moment that mentally scars a child, the complete opposite of a loving act, but Percy saw the whole picture. Yes, his father had hospitalised someone right in front of his eyes, but Percy was never shocked or scared by that. Percy had long known what his father was capable of. Instead, he chose to look into why he had done it. Poseidon had been defending Percy, his son. He had seen his young son in danger, and like any good father, had prevented it even happening. Granted, he hadn't done so in the way most dads would, but then again, Poseidon had never been a dad to Percy. He was his father, but he was never a dad. You have to put in time and effort to be called a dad. You have to care for your child and be there for your child and let your child know that you always will be. That was not Poseidon.

That moment, in that alleyway, had been the only time that Percy felt like he had a dad. It was like his paternal instincts took control, like a predator in the wild defending his young. That was why, whenever he told it, he would get carried away, lost in it. In hindsight, he should've told a different story. Hey, at least he left out one detail, his father's warning. He still remembered his fathers chilling words to the guy whose face he had just rearranged.

'I see you near my son again, I see you talking to him, I hear that you even go near him… I won't stop at ten punches. I'll go to twenty, and then thirty, then forty, and I'll carry on until all that's left is your shoulders, neck and little bits of skull in a pool of blood. We on the same page?'

That was the first time Percy truly understood why so many people were afraid of his father. He had always been, but that's always the case with parents. It wasn't until that moment that he realised just how dangerous a man his father could be. He spoke so calmly, but with so much malice, and it should've scared him, but it didn't, because he knew where it was coming from. That was the only time in his childhood that Percy felt loved by both parents, not just his mom.

Percy's morning routine consisted of thirty sit-ups and thirty press-ups, followed by a shower and breakfast. This morning, he walked into the kitchen and found that it was unusually empty. He looked around the apartment and couldn't see his mother anywhere. He was beginning to get worried, when he spotted a note on the kitchen table.

Percy, I had to go in early to open up the shop. Have a great day at school. Your father will be back tonight, will probably want to talk. Mom x

As Percy read the note, he thought about his father being around today. He hadn't spoken to Poseidon in a few weeks, and he would no doubt want to know how the new school was going. Percy considered telling him that he hated it and wanted to go back to Yancy, but he knew that would not be received so well. His father, for whatever reason, wanted Percy to be at Goode; nothing would change his mind. Percy sighed, before picking up his bag and walking out of the apartment, locking the door behind him.

Walking through the estate, Percy couldn't help but notice how much earlier he left for school now he was at Goode; after all, the walk to Goode had an extra forty minutes on the walk to Yancy. He saw no kids leaving their apartments, ready for another boring day at school. It was this moment every morning that he remembered that he was the only kid who lived around here that didn't go to Yancy. Great; as if he hadn't felt like an outsider enough lately. He walked past Calypso's apartment; she was no doubt asleep. Since she had left school she put little effort into anything except getting high and popping pills, and was never awake before at least midday. He often wondered what she would do with her life, but like most people in the area, it would probably end up being a shitty job for Poseidon. Percy felt sad when he imagined Calypso like that. He knew what some of the women did around here for money, and he had difficulty coming to terms with the idea of Calypso doing that too. As uncomfortable as it may be, for the people who left Yancy only to find themselves wasting away on the estate, they often found their choices very limited. It was a cold reality to face; perhaps that was why Poseidon wanted his son out of the area, at a school with opportunities.

Just as Percy was about to leave the estate's gates, he heard a voice from behind him.

"Perce, wait up!" He knew that voice, and turned, with a smile, to face his best friend Grover Underwood. Grover was quite short, and very skinny. He had curly brown hair, which he hid under a Rasta hat, and had a wispy beard. When he walked, it was often with a limp, the result of some muscle problems he'd had as a child. When they were younger, Grover had been a very easy target for bullies, and that often meant Nico and Percy would have to protect him. Eventually though, everyone - Tyson, Leo, Will and any of the other guys from Olympus - began to defend Grover too. By sophomore year, it became clear to the bullies that Grover was not someone they wanted to mess with. For that, Grover had been eternally grateful to his friends. He always said that they didn't have to hang around with a loser like him, but Percy didn't see it like that. Grover was one of them, and they had to stand up for one of their own. Their little gang didn't have the 'leave the weakest behind' mentality, they were loyal to each other; they were family. That was why it bothered Percy so much that his father had secluded him from them.

"Hey man!" Percy smiled. He had barely seen Grover all week.

"I wanted to walk with you. Is- is that alright?" he asked nervously. Only Grover would be nervous when talking to his best friend.

"Of course it's alright. Shit, I'd love company." He and Grover began walking down the street, going at quite a slow pace. Percy knew there would be a point where Grover walked in one direction, to go to Yancy, and he'd walk in another, to Goode, so he wanted to make this walk last.

"So how's the new school?" The number of times Percy had been asked that question this week was ridiculous.

"Boring. Really boring. I'd rather watch paint dry. It feels like a prison." He saw the sympathetic look in Grover's eyes.

"Well if it's any consolation, people at school miss you."

"I highly doubt that." Percy joked, "You're forgetting no one at Yancy has feelings."

"Well I miss you" Grover said quietly, looking down at the pavement. Percy looked at his best friend for a minute, before looking forward. He wasn't sure what to say. Feelings weren't his forte. Slowly, he patted Grover on the shoulder.

"I miss you too. I really do." An awkward silence was in danger of sneaking up on them, so Grover quickly changed the subject.

"So how's Beckendorf?"

"He's good, I think." Nico had told Grover all about Beckendorf in Percy's absence, how he went to Goode and how he was a rich kid now. He hadn't really gotten the reaction he'd wanted though; Grover was happy, and really wanted to meet up with him. Percy had largely avoided talking about Beckendorf to the others since that first day, but recalled hearing Nico muttering words like 'traitor', 'asshole', and 'another fucking rich kid' a few times when he was brooding.

"You should bring him over, we can hang out again, just like old times." Grover sounded excited. Percy didn't want to crush him, but he had to.

"Grover, I don't think that's a good idea. You remember Nico's reaction, he was mad. He doesn't want to see Beckendorf."

"Look Nico didn't mean all of that, he was just overreacting."

"I don't think it's a good idea to invite Beckendorf over, that's all. I have no idea what Nico might do." That was becoming the case more and more. Nico had the worst mood swings of anyone Percy knew.

"At least think about it." Grover pleaded with him. Percy agreed, somewhat reluctantly.

"Hey, I got some good news the other day," Grover said, "my Uncle Ferdinand will be getting out soon. They think that it could be around Christmas time." Grover looked thrilled, and Percy couldn't help being happy for him. His uncle had spent the better part of a decade in prison. Grover never knew his parents, and as a child had been taken in by his Uncle Ferdinand. However, Ferdinand worked for Poseidon, and ten years ago had been on a job gone wrong, the same job as Beckendorf's dad coincidentally. Neither Mark Beckendorf nor Ferdinand talked, so both received ten-year sentences. They both could've gotten much longer if Harry Di Angelo, Nico's dad, wasn't such a good lawyer. When it happened, Beckendorf moved away, but Grover was forced to live with his grandma. Now, it looked like they would both be out soon.

"You must be excited. I'm happy for you man" Percy said, and he really meant it. Grover deserved to be happy for once.

"Thanks, I really am. I hardly saw him in prison. Grandma wouldn't let me visit, said it's a bad environment for a kid. Y'know, Uncle Ferdinand was like a father." Percy knew the effect of not having a father figure all too well, and it wasn't good. Speaking of fathers, Percy thought about how happy his father would be to hear this news. He always said Ferdinand and Mark had been two of his best guys.

"Well," Grover exclaimed, "this is where we part ways I guess." Percy looked around. Sure enough, this was where they had to go in separate directions.

"So long Percy" Grover declared, doing a fake salute.

"See you on the other side Grover" Percy replied in a joke voice, also saluting. He walked in the opposite direction to Grover, laughing. Jokes like that were one of the many reasons Percy called Grover his best friend. Grover was loyal, dependable and honest, but he was also the only person Percy felt remotely comfortable opening up to, when he eventually did. He knew that the others would mock him, but not Grover. He would listen to you, but he would also help you in the best way he knew how. Grover was what Percy missed most about Yancy. Once again, he was angry with his father for moving him, for flipping his life upside-down, but he was also upset.

"Pull yourself together Percy." he muttered to himself. He was Percy Jackson, Son of Poseidon. He didn't let people know he was scared or upset. He didn't show his emotions. No, he would get to school, sit in his lessons, not cause any trouble, talk to people who he would rather not, and then go home, and this strange, disconcerting week would be over.

Unfortunately for Percy, by the end of the day the last part of his plan, go home, seemed to be in jeopardy. He didn't have detention or anything, no; in some ways it was worse than that. The gang wanted him to socialise.

"C'mon Percy, we need you." Luke pleaded with him. "It's our first practice, and we don't have either of our good Corners. Any help would be great." Yes, Luke was trying to get Percy to go to football practice, and no, Percy didn't want to.

"You don't need me." He pointed out. It wasn't just Luke, it was Beckendorf, Michael, the Stoll's and Jason, the whole shebang.

"Oh we do. You heard Luke, we don't have good cover, and you're the only kid athletic enough who's still available." Jason chipped in. Getting out of this was going to be tricky.

"Okay, you may need someone, but I'm telling you you don't want me. I mean, guys, I've never played a game of football before." It was true. Percy had rarely found time to play sports as a child.

"That doesn't matter, we'll teach you the rules." Jason replied.

"But- but I don't even know what a Corner does." He was struggling to come up with excuses, that last one was an outright lie.

"We'll teach you that too." Connor added. Damn, Percy thought to himself, these guys had an answer for everything.

"I don't… have the uniform. I can't play in these can I?" he gestured to his clothes, "That would be stupid."

"The school has spares. They ain't the best, but they're good enough." Luke told him. Percy was running out of ideas. He looked past Luke, at Annabeth. She was smirking slightly, as if amused by his futile attempts to escape. In fact, all of the girls seemed to find his predicament funny, he saw Rachel and Silena exchange a knowing glance at him as they chattered away. He sighed.

"I'm not getting out of this am I?" he looked at Beckendorf, who had a slightly sympathetic look on his face.

"Not really buddy." He smiled supportively. "Hell man, you might enjoy it."

"Just this once." Percy bargained.

"Okay, just today." Beckendorf assured him.

On that note, Percy nodded; he would give it a go. The boys all cheered, patting him on the back.

"That's the spirit. Let's go play some football!" Luke sounded overjoyed. "We looked at everyone in the grade, but none of them filled the criteria. You're the closest we've got to an athlete, I mean, you don't look out of shape…" Luke rambled on about how important this was for the team, but Percy wasn't really listening. Five minutes ago, he'd been preparing to walk home, now he was walking towards the changing rooms. This was not how he envisioned his day ending.

As they entered the changing room, Luke introduced Percy to the rest of the team and handed him an old gym kit that he could wear. The other guys were all juniors and seniors, with some proper workout warriors in among them. Broad shoulders and prominent chins seemed to be mandatory. He sat down on a bench, when Luke walked over and sat down next to him.

"Percy, we're having a little gathering, a party if you wanna call it that, after practice at my house, just our group. You're gonna come right?" Luke told him. Great, Percy thought, more socialising.

"Look, Luke, I really just want to go home after this, relax y'know?" He tried to talk his way out of it.

"You can relax there. Everyone wants you to come." He said reassuringly. Then he leaned in closer to whisper, "Look, we'll have some drink, we'll have some other stuff, it'll be a good time." To any other seventeen year old that may have sounded tempting, but Percy could get plenty of both if he really wanted to.

"Luke, I really don't feel up to it."

"Percy, I'm trying to be friendly here, okay? I like you, and I think you'd have a good time. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable or anything, but I really would like you to be there, we all would." Percy thought about it. Luke was trying to be nice, he was going out of his way to include Percy in their group. Should Percy make the same amount of effort? It was just a party, and it might be enjoyable, who knows? But what would his old friends think of him, hanging out with rich kids outside of school, going to football practice. What would his father think?

'My father doesn't rule my life though.' Percy thought to himself. Neither did his friends. He was his own person.

"Yeah, alright, I'll go." Percy looked at Luke, nodding. A huge smile spread on Luke's face.

"Awesome. You'll enjoy yourself. I guarantee it. Hey, Rachel will be there." He smiled suggestively at Percy, raising his eyebrows jokingly before walking away, laughing. Percy already knew that Rachel liked him; she'd hardly been subtle about it. In the few classes they shared together she'd tried to strike up conversations with him, and once or twice he'd found himself chatting to her on the walk from lesson to lesson. He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about any of these rich girls, but he certainly acknowledged that talking to a girl in high school, especially one as attractive as Rachel, was hardly the worst thing in the world. Talking to her was pretty easy too, given he wasn't exactly bothered whether anybody at Goode actually liked him, Rachel included. But he was appreciative of her trying to make him feel included. Maybe he could have some fun with her at the party later. His mind then flashed briefly back to Annabeth, the only other girl who'd somewhat piqued his interest in his first week. That wasn't any kind of romantic interest though, it was more a curiosity. Or was it just that? She'd popped up in his thoughts at least once every day, some would say that was more than idle curiosity. He'd briefly wondered after their conversation on Monday whether they would be able to talk some more, but so far she'd made no further efforts, and he wasn't about to go out of his way to chat to a girl in a relationship. Sighing, he pulled the spare shirt out of the bag it was in and began to change, pushing Annabeth and Rachel to the back of his mind; he didn't have time for that right now.

The guys' talking died down in the background. Percy looked up to see what had caused it, and found them all staring at him. He looked at them all with confusion, before it clicked in his head. Shit. He had taken his shirt off. Percy looked down at his fairly well built torso, and his eyes were met with scars. Percy Jackson had scars of all sizes over his body, about fourteen or so. They were mostly the result of the gang fights he had gotten into growing up. Most were just cuts and grazes that were never given the time to heal properly before being opened again, a few were from broken bones, and two of the larger, deeper ones were from weapons. Bats, bottles, chains, blades, Percy had been in a fair few dangerous fights in the past year or two, and they'd certainly left their mark on him. Hiding them from his mother was becoming harder. The looks on the boy's faces said it all; they had never seen anything like this, except maybe on the TV. Percy almost wanted to laugh. They looked ridiculous.

"Hey," Percy broke the silence, "you should see the other guy." He chuckled, and a few of them joined in. Then, he saw the look on Beckendorf's face. He was the only person who looked really scared. Maybe that was because he knew that his future would've been the same had his mother stayed. He looked at Percy's scars and saw what would have been, and what never was. Percy pulled on the old shirt, which was slightly too small, and the pair of shorts, which were slightly too baggy, before lacing up his cleats, a surprisingly good fit. He walked up to Luke, who was still not speaking, and lightly patted him on the arm.

"Let's go play some football." Mimicking what Luke had said earlier.

"Okay then Mr. Jackson! The Cornerback's job is to cover the opposition receiver, intercept offensive passes and make tackles. Comprende?"

Coach Hedge was the shortest adult Percy had ever seen, standing at surely no more than five foot tall. It was almost laughable that this man was a high school football coach.

"Uh yeah, I understand." Percy replied tentatively.

"You ever played a game of football before son?"

"Um… not really, no." Percy realised how stupid he sounded, "I've watched football." As if adding that helped at all.

"Christ! Castellan! What kind of replacement do you call this?!" Coach Hedge yelled at Luke, walking up to him as if to look intimidating. Admittedly, it was hard to look intimidating when you're five feet tall and can't look the other person in the eye, but he was definitely doing his best. While Coach Hedge was shouting at the team, Percy scanned his surroundings. The field was behind the school, and it had two sets of seating stands on either side. As Percy looked more closely at the stands, he saw the girls sitting there, clearly waiting for the guys to finish. Great, Percy thought, he had an audience for his embarrassment, because this would no doubt be embarrassing. As he stood on the pitch, he seriously questioned how stupid he was to have agreed to this. Right now he could be at home, on his couch watching bad TV, or he could be with Nico, Grover and the others, just having fun, or he could be with Calypso, 'destressing' after a tough week. But no, instead he was standing in the middle of a football field, in pretty chilly conditions, being yelled at by a five-foot tall man. Life couldn't be better, right? He briefly remembered back to his first day, when he considered trying out for the team. He hadn't really meant it. He enjoyed watching football, but he didn't play it.

"JACKSON! Over here now!" The barking of Coach Hedge pulled him from his thoughts. He slowly trotted over to the huddle.

"Alright Jackson, try not to mess up." Coach no doubt tried to sound motivational, but it just came across as patronising. As the guys ran onto the pitch, Percy followed behind, silently reminding himself never give in to incessant begging again.

Practice was tiring. Percy had never run so much in his life, and he had had to do a lot of running in the past, from other gangs and occasionally the police. But at least with that, it felt like there was a reason he was running. With football, it just felt like torture. First, Coach Hedge had had them do fitness, followed by drills, and finally a small scrimmage. As it turns out, Percy was quite good at playing Cornerback. He made a few good tackles and batted the ball away nicely, even catching an interception. There was a certain violence in the game that he could definitely thrive on; it was all about force of will and sheer grit, something he had been forced to grow in abundance. After the session, Coach Hedge told him to that the place in the team was his if he ever wanted it, not that he did. But it was nice to know that he was semi-decent at something.

Now they were all standing outside of the school, waiting for the last of their group to finish changing.

"Percy man, you were great." Beckendorf said as he clapped him on the back. The others voiced their agreement. Percy just nodded; he didn't need their approval. He saw the girls walking towards them, Annabeth at the front. She went straight to Luke, and gave him a kiss. Percy averted his eyes. He didn't need to see that. But why? He had no problems watching couples kiss, so why had he not wanted to look this time?

"Great job Percy." It was Annabeth who had spoken; she eyed Percy with a smile; which he hesitantly returned. She had Luke's arm wrapped around her, although she didn't look as comfortable with it as he did.

"Yeah Percy, you were really good" Rachel said. She was standing next to him, and gave him a smile too, which he returned. He was suddenly very aware of the closeness of their bodies, shoulders practically touching. Some of the others shared some knowing glances, and Percy realised they all must've been gossiping about him and Rachel when he wasn't around. He was sure it was harmless, but it was also another reminder of just how out-of-place he had felt all week.

"So are we all ready?" Luke asked the group. People nodded, and Luke put his arm around Annabeth as he began to walk towards the parking lot.

"Let's go!" he exclaimed loudly. Some of the others cheered, as they walked on with him. Percy was the only one who wasn't walking. He stood there for a second, wondering how they'd react if he just made a run for it. He could probably be at Olympus Estate in about forty minutes if he was fast. But just as he was considering this, Annabeth turned her head and looked at him, smiling slightly. She tilted her head, motioning for him to follow. Well, he could hardly refuse now. With a sigh, Percy followed the group as they made their way towards their cars. He pulled out his phone to check if he had any texts, but found it dead in his pocket. Damn it, he thought. His phone was old, and that meant short battery life too. Oh well, he'd have to make do without. As he caught up to the gang, he suddenly realised he was about to be the odd one out yet again.

"Hey guys," he called out to the group, causing them to turn and face him, "I'm sure it's standard for all of you, but cars aren't really something many people have in my area, I can't even drive." If they were all driving to Luke's, he was missing one key component. No one at Olympus ever took proper driving lessons; if they did know how it was because a friend taught them the basics. Even then, cars were a luxury that few of the young people on the estate could afford, and the adults never let any of them use theirs. Most of the cars kids drove were stolen, and would be quickly burned after a joyride or two.

"I got space, don't worry," it was Rachel who spoke up, stepping closer to him so that their shoulders were again nearly touching. She smiled broadly, and her green eyes twinkled playfully. Percy could see the others all smiling, except Annabeth, who wasn't even looking their way, already making her way towards to Luke's Audi. No one seemed to care too much though, all too amused by Percy's predicament. He had a feeling this had been a set up all along to get him alone with the red-head, and he had to say, they'd pulled it off well.

Slowly, they all filtered off towards their own vehicles in groups of two and three, while Rachel led Percy to her shiny Mercedes. Although he wasn't about to let her know, this would easily be the most expensive car Percy had ever even been near, let alone sat in. As Rachel unlocked the doors, Percy opened it and slid in, the smell of leather and air-freshener hitting his nostrils immediately. The seat was ridiculously comfortable, and there were neon-like lights shining faintly all around him, from the doors to the space by his feet. It all seemed very futuristic, and with the push of a button from Rachel, now seated in the driver's side, his seat began to heat up slightly. Self-warming seats, now this was definitely a new experience.

"You can relax," Rachel said with a laugh, clearly amused by his amazement. He noticed he still had a tension in his shoulders, and slowly leaned back, beginning to enjoy the warm under-heating. Rachel pulled away onto the road, and made off in the same direction as the others.

"So how far does Luke live?" he asked, keeping the conversation simple. It was the first time he'd been alone with someone from Goode outside of school, and he was still cautious of revealing too much of his real personality.

"About a twenty minute drive," she replied, keeping her eyes on the road. Percy sat back a bit more, allowing the comfortable seats to engulf him. The roads were pretty empty; he never usually left school this late, always preferring to leave as soon as the bell rung. The streets around Goode were always quiet anyway, but as they took a few turns and made their way towards some much nicer areas of New York, Percy saw less and less people up and down the sidewalks.

"So, good week?" Rachel asked lightly, glancing over at him. An uncomfortable silence had threatened to engulf them, so Percy was glad for the conversation.

"I've had better," he smiled back sarcastically, "but it's had its moments." He wasn't really telling the truth, he'd absolutely hated it if he were being totally honest, but he didn't think that would make for pleasant chat. Rachel, for her part, seemed happy with his answer, glancing a smile his way for a second before gluing her eyes back on the road. It was only now that they were alone that Percy could really take in the red-head's beauty. She wore a simple white skirt, riding up her legs slightly as she sat, revealing just enough to excite the imagination. Her light green top hugged her curves nicely, and her long, curly hair fell gracefully, framing her face. Her piercing green eyes had a glint to them, and her lips were invitingly luscious. All things considered, this was hardly the worst predicament Percy had found himself in.

"I guess it's a big culture shock" Rachel joked back.

"You can say that again," Percy replied, "you all actually seem to take it seriously."

"Yeah, the school has a reputation to keep up." The sarcastic tone in which she said the word made him chuckle. He knew all about maintaining reputations, albeit very different ones, and in very different ways.

"It's also way less dangerous," he said, "this is the first week in years where I haven't gotten into some kind of trouble." He was still cautious of playing up the thug image, but he felt more inclined to open up. Maybe it was the warm seats, or the mood lighting, or Rachel's inviting presence, but he was suddenly more willing to talk candidly.

"You don't go a week without fighting?" Rachel asked in disbelief.

"You haven't been to Yancy" he retorted. Their eyes met briefly, a playful gleam flashing across her green ones.

"Fair enough," she said, "is it really as bad as you hear about?" She was driving through the roads slower now. Every so often her hand would move down to shift the gearstick, and lightly brush Percy's arm. He could feel the spot she touched tingling slightly even after she'd moved it away, and suddenly felt the heat rising in the car.

"I don't know what you've heard, but it's probably true," he laughed wryly. "That place is like a warzone half the time." Rachel pondered his words, as a silence lingered between them, only broken by the sound of the outside world going by.

"So what's Luke's place like?" he asked, breaking her from her thoughts.

"Yeah, it's sweet, we mostly just hang out in the garden. It's got more than enough room for all of us."

"Must be a big garden" he muttered, almost to himself. Rachel gave him a surprised look.

"I guess you could say that," she muttered back, amused by what he had said for some reason. He looked at her questioningly, but she just laughed. "You'll know when you see it. You have many garden parties in your area?"

"No garden's to have them in," he joked back. The closest thing Percy had to a garden was the courtyard at Olympus, but he'd hardly consider that drab, grey landscape to be a place to have a party. "You guys have a lot of them?"

"Oh yeah," Rachel replied, her hand again brushing his as she changed the gears, this time lingering half a second longer. Percy could feel his blood rising ever so slightly; dammit, these heated chairs were starting to work their magic. "Yeah, we love ourselves a party, work hard play hard, right?"

"Oh really?" Percy laughed, suddenly amused by the devilish look that had spread across Rachel's face. "I can fuck with that, you're speaking my language now." He suddenly felt more comfortable. He could always relax if he knew he was with people that could party like that, because that was his world, he knew no one could show him up. He's grown up around so much drugs and alcohol that he often forgot it was actually illegal, so used to it was he. He imagined all of the others getting messed up; some he could picture it clearly, some much less so. An image of Annabeth suddenly flashed into his mind, jolting him slightly. Why did that make him feel uncomfortable? He didn't have time to dwell on it before the conversation continued.

"You guys like to party as well then?" Rachel asked, he voice suddenly sounded more seductive than before; Percy wasn't complaining. Every so often she would scratch at a spot on her thigh, riding her skirt up her legs a little more every time. After that, thoughts of anything else were easily dispelled from his mind.

"Well we're not having any fancy garden parties, but we do okay" he replied, relaxing more into the warm seat.

"What's a typical night like for you then?" she asked.

"Oh, normally just a load of us in someone's apartment. It gets pretty cramped but we got good sound systems and access to just about anything you could want. Sometimes we'll head out to a warehouse rave in an industrial park or something like that."

"Isn't that really dangerous?" she sounded concerned, which he found kind of cute.

"Where I live is dangerous, hard to avoid it really" he replied. Their eyes met, but neither said a word. Slowly, Rachel pulled over to the side of the road. As Percy glanced around, he saw nothing around them. They were in some backstreet of a nice residential area, but aside from the backs of some houses, he could see nothing around them at all. "Why've you stopped?" he asked her, looking back puzzled. She was sitting back, eyeing him seductively. If it were possible, her clothes looked even shorter and tighter than they had when she'd gotten in the car.

"I just wanted to carry on talking, y'know, before we reach the others" she layered her innocent tone with flirtatiousness, an inciting smile across her face. He nodded, smiling back. This must've been the end play of her little plan. He decided to wait a moment longer, see how this was going to play out.

"So what should I expect when we get to the party?" he asked. "Are they all gonna be far gone by the time we get there?"

"Yeah, some of the boys like to get fucked up" she replied back, shifting ever so slightly towards him in her seat. He felt his shoulders brace, almost instinctively.

"And what about you?" he asked more quietly, leaning in closer to her. "You like to get fucked up?"

"If I've got someone to get fucked up with," she smiled so invitingly, biting her lip lightly. Her eyes were boring into his, her elegant face framed by her fiery ginger curls, drawing him in closer to her. Percy was suddenly aware of the sound of both of them breathing heavily, the only thing breaking the silence of the outside world. He was close to her now, and suddenly noticed that she'd already unlocked her seatbelt, probably the moment she'd pulled over. 'Just wanted to talk, my ass,' he thought. That was all the invitation he needed, as he undid his own seatbelt and crashed his lips onto hers. She kissed back hungrily, reaching up and pulling at his shirt. Percy wrapped him right arm around her back, and felt her shifting closer towards him in her seat. Their lips never stopped, as Rachel attacked the area all around Percy's mouth. Her lips tasted faintly fruity (it must've been the lip gloss), and her fragrance filled Percy's nostrils. It was a sweet, intoxicating smell, no doubt some perfume that cost a fortune. Well it certainly worked its magic, whatever it was.

She was still moving in her chair, and Percy could tell what she wanted him to do. He duly obliged, hooking his arm around her waist and practically lifting her. She let out a yelp as they awkwardly fumbled their way over the middle section of the car, before eventually landing in the position they both wanted. Percy was sat with her astride his lap, so close he could make out every little freckle speckled across the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were even more stunning up close, looking like little emeralds shining out from a sea of red. Her hands went down to the side of the chair, and she pulled at a lever. Suddenly, Percy jolted backwards as his seat leant back as far as it would go, which was nearly completely horizontal. He half laughed, half grunted as he fell back. Practically lying there, with the gorgeous red-head sat over him, Percy felt for the first time that day that this Friday might not be so bad after all.

She slowly lifted her top up and over her head, revealing a lacy bra and some expensive necklaces. They both fumbled about with the rest of their clothes; it was already pretty dark outside, but neither of them even considered whether anybody would see them or not. Percy had never done it in a car before, and never dreamed of it being one this comfortable. This was quite exciting. Slowly, Rachel lowered herself down onto him, their lips meeting again as they both got completely lost in the moment. Some night this was turning out to be, Percy thought; and they hadn't even reached the party yet.

Chapter 8

Chapter Text


For Annabeth, the weekend couldn't have come soon enough. She felt like she needed a break, from school and from social interaction. It was only one week into the new year and already her head felt like it was about to explode. That feeling usually kicked in around April, not September. And of course, on the weekend she wouldn't have to see Percy.

Her feelings towards Percy Jackson scared her. She had done her best not to talk to him, since she had felt that moment of jealousy back on Monday. She wanted to get a grip on her feelings before she even thought about talking to him. But getting a grip on her feelings was harder than she thought, especially seeing as her instinct was to push them to the back of her mind, to run from them. When Annabeth first saw Percy Jackson, she knew that there was something about him; something about him that she liked, maybe even recognised, but she didn't think there was any kind of attraction towards him. Sure, she thought he was attractive, but she wasn't attracted to him. But when she heard that Rachel was, and she had felt jealous, she started to realise that maybe she was, even if only a little.

That made Annabeth uncomfortable. She had never really felt any kind of strong attraction to anyone else, let alone one this instantaneous. Every time her mind began to wander, it landed on Percy Jackson. But what was even more uncomfortable was that she didn't necessarily want the feelings gone, not completely anyway. There were times when she enjoyed thinking about him, because it allowed her to focus on something other than her schoolwork, and her mother's expectations. But she didn't like the jealousy that overcame her whenever Rachel talked about Percy, which had been frequently this week. It was a strange, unwelcome feeling for Annabeth. This weekend, she'd have time away from them all, to think it over in her head. She couldn't wait for next week, simply because it would mean this strange week would be over. She just had one more party at Luke's to get through.

As Annabeth sat in the passenger seat of her boyfriend's car, music softly playing from his speakers, it dawned on her that this was probably the first time the two of them had been alone together since the early summer days. The gang had each taken off in twos and threes in separate rides, and Annabeth knew that Luke liked to have a friendly competition with Jason as to who would make it to his house first. She had left her car at home that morning in anticipation of tonight's party, but right now she wished she had the independence of her own vehicle. If it weren't for the fact that Luke had been looking forward to this first Friday night party since school had ended the previous year, she'd probably have faked a headache to get out of it. Also, Percy would be there, and she was at least a little curious to see him in a more laid back environment. She wasn't entirely happy that he was pairing up with Rachel so soon, but she could hardly make that known, and besides, it had probably helped in convincing him to come.

She heard Luke say something next to her, but her attention was elsewhere.

"Annabeth?" he called, louder this time, tapping her shoulder jolting her out of her thoughts.

"Hmm, what was that?" she asked, trying to play it off as nothing. The last thing she wanted was Luke asking her what she'd been thinking about. Luckily, he was only too eager to disregard everything and bring up his new favourite topic.

"I was saying I'm really glad Percy decided to come." As he spoke, she could practically see his grin widen. He'd been talking of nothing but their new classmate all week. Since his desk horror story on his first day, Luke had been bringing up Percy as frequently as Annabeth thought about him. To put it plainly, Luke thought he was the most badass person he'd ever met, everything he fantasised about being. Throughout the week, Percy had told them some more of his escapades, and it was safe to say Luke had been imagining himself in situations that gritty and dangerous. It was pure fantasy, but Luke liked to picture himself as this super tough, super cool kind of guy, and it looked as though he was trying to live vicariously through the new kid.

"Yeah," she replied, still pretty uninterested. She grew tired of talking about the boy, especially when she couldn't confide in anyone just how much he'd been bothering him.

"I knew we'd be able to convince him" Luke continued, "I'll bet he's been to some crazy parties, we'll need to go all out for him."

"Why?" Annabeth asked. From the little she'd been able to gather about Percy, he hardly seemed like the type to be impressed by things like parties.

"So he'll remember his first week here." Luke replied matter-of-factly, as if Annabeth was asking a stupid question. "I don't want him going back to his friends and laughing about us."

"Why do you even care?" she asked, slightly confused now. She genuinely meant it, why was he concerned with what some complete strangers thought about him? She knew he was materialistic, but even that was a bit far.

"I don't know," he sounded almost hurt now, as if Annabeth was being really confrontational. "They're probably used to some wild nights, I just want him to want to hang out with us." Although he hadn't said it, Annabeth guessed that Luke secretly wished that Percy would invite them all to some crazy party. God knows where he'd gotten the idea that Percy was a party animal; he'd talked largely about fights and troublemaking, but hadn't once mentioned a party. It must've been Luke's imagination running wild again. She just nodded, hoping he would drop it.

"So d'you like him?" Jesus, would this boy not drop the subject? Annabeth could feel her frustration growing, as Luke insisted on keeping the conversation firmly on Percy Jackson.

"Yeah, I like him fine." Her frustration must've been evident in her voice, because Luke didn't look best pleased with her response.

"What's the matter? You got a problem with him or something?" Luke sounded defensive, like he'd known Percy all his life, and was outraged at the notion he might not be awesome. Annabeth sighed.

"Look, I'm not trying to put a downer on your man crush or anything, it's just that we hardly know him." She didn't sound annoyed, but Luke clearly took it that way.

"That's why we're having the party" he retorted, sounding annoyed himself now. "We've been getting to know him all week and now he'll officially feel like part of the group." He still had an assured look in his eye, like he couldn't believe Annabeth doubted a single word he was saying. He often got like this when they argued, determined and boneheaded. It frustrated her more and more the longer they were together.

"Luke," she replied, slightly exacerbated now, "he's not going to be want to be friends with you just because you threw him a party. He's not that type of person." She couldn't believe that she had to spell that out for him, but Luke could be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

"When did you get to know him so well then?" Luke fired back, glancing her way with an accusatory glare. Annabeth suddenly felt her cheeks redden slightly, and was glad that her long hair concealed it from Luke's vision. She did not want her boyfriend to know just how much she had been thinking about Percy, observing him, trying to work out exactly what kind of person he was.

"Well, I don't, but-" she began to say, but Luke quickly cut her off.

"That's right, you don't. Just trust me, I know guys like Percy, we're cut from the same cloth." He was snappy, and totally deluded if he thought he and Percy were anything alike, but Annabeth thought it best not to argue any further. Luke had a habit of never conceding, especially when he had a newfound obsession, as it seemed Percy Jackson was becoming.

They sat quietly for a few minutes, although it wasn't too uncomfortable. They'd had so many arguments in their years of dating that it didn't feel like the huge, emotional explosions they once had. She knew when it was better to drop something, and didn't mind just sitting in silence with the familiar company. Their disagreements had become more commonplace towards the end of the last school year, and she had hoped the summer would alleviate some of their tensions. But if this was how they acted one week into school being back, she had her doubts that it would improve dramatically as the year went on.

"Is your dad in?" she asked, breaking the silence that had engulfed the Audi.

"No, he's off in Europe somewhere" Luke replied flatly. He hated talking about his father, and avoided the topic as much as he could. Herman Castellan was the CEO of one of the most prominent shipping companies in the world. Unfortunately, that meant that he was rarely home, always jetting around the world for some sort of business.

"How's your mom doing?" Annabeth asked, this time more quietly, careful to make sure she sounded sincere. May Castellan was also frequently absent; a former glamour model who spent her time in and out of hospitals and mental health institution. It was actually quite a sad story. After Luke had been born, his mother suffered from postnatal depression, and never really recovered. She developed a drug addiction and had spent more time in rehab than out of it, and then went completely off the rails when Luke was about twelve. She found out that Luke's father had been having an affair; and had tried to kill herself. Since then, she had been hospitalised a few more times, most recently had been back in January some time, and doctors didn't deem her well enough to leave. It was a sad story of two people who probably shouldn't have been parents. Family was not a topic that Luke ever really liked to talk about; since it had all happened, he basically lived at home with whatever maids and nannies his father hired. Being his girlfriend, Luke had shared more with Annabeth than he had with most, but it was still always a touchy subject for him.

"They say she's doing good, but not enough to discharge her." He sounded sad when he spoke, a strange tone for a boy normally so confident. It was times like this when Annabeth realised that, for as much as they argued, she did still care about him.

"Have you seen her recently?"

"I went once in the summer…" he said, sounding distant as he stared at the road ahead. They were nearly at his house now. "I don't really want to go back, they've got her on so many meds I don't even know if she recognises me half the time." He wasn't look her way at all, but Annabeth could hear the hurt deep in his words. Luke was never the best at this opening up stuff anyway, and she didn't want to press him. She slowly reached across and placed her hand over his resting one, rubbing it slightly to comfort him. He smiled back at her, but moved his hand away to turn the steering wheel. She knew he hadn't meant anything by it, but there was something cold about the gesture, like he'd been rejecting her comfort. She was probably just overthinking; it had been along week, she could do with some relaxation. As if on cue, they turned into Luke's gated community, driving through the spacious roads and massive houses for a minute before pulling up at the Castellan house.

Luke Castellan's house was, in typical Goode High School fashion, immense. Luke always said that the plus side of his absent parents was that if the group ever wanted to hang out, they knew that his house would usually be empty. It had a main body with about four floors, two mini wings on both sides, and a litter of garden houses spread around the grounds. All in all, when taking the gardens into account, it probably covered twenty to thirty acres of land, much too much for just one boy to live on. Exuberant wealth was commonplace in this world though, and all of Luke's neighbours, distant as they might be, had equal amounts of space.

His Audi skidded into place in the driveway, the only car that ever frequently left any of the garages this house had. Annabeth opened her door, but hadn't even gotten out before she heard the sound of Jason's car speeding down after them. He had only recently passed his test, and darted around everywhere like a boy racer in his red sports car. Luke was out of the Audi in a flash.

"Too slow my friend" he joked, as Jason slammed his own door shut. Michael Yew had been in the passenger seat, and jumped out with them.

"Your day is coming" Jason retorted, wiping a spot on the hood of his car.

"You go the stuff?" Michael asked Luke.

"Yeah, don't worry" Luke replied casually, reaching back into his Audi, across to the glove compartment that had been in front of Annabeth. He popped it and pulled out a fist-sized bag, wrapped up in a lot of cellophane – drugs.

"Gimme gimme gimme" Michael held out his hands, as Luke threw the carefully wrapped bag his way.

"Why are you driving around with that?" Annabeth asked, suddenly more concerned. She knew her friends liked to get up to some recreational fun, but that looked like a pretty large amount. If they'd have been pulled over by cops, they'd have no excuse.

"Relax," Luke replied, the nonchalant, carefree tone firmly back in his voice. "Nothing was gonna happen."

"What is it?" she asked.

"Just some E, should be forty in there."

"Forty?!" she replied, shocked. She wasn't too knowledgeable when it came to her boyfriend's habits, but eve she knew that was an awful lot. "What if we'd been pulled over?" Luke just laughed her off, before turning back to Jason and Michael.

"I've got the Charlie and the bud up in my room, we'll have it off tonight." He slapped them both on the back, as Michael took out one of the small blue pills and examined it. By now, Annabeth could see Beckendorf's Mustang pulling up the long driveway, no doubt driving Silena and Thalia. The Stoll twins in their BMW weren't far behind, shortly followed by Katie and Piper in Piper's little Fiat. Still no sign of Percy and Rachel; she decided not to dwell on it too much. Luke patted her on the shoulder.

"You taking a walk on the wild side tonight?" He had a devilish grin on his face, and she knew he was asking about drugs. It wasn't really up Annabeth's street; sure, she'd tried things every now and then, but she definitely didn't feel the need to do it as regularly as her friends did.

"I might smoke, nothing else." Luke seemed content with that answer, as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and led her up the steps to his front door. The others all followed in their twos and threes, chatting about this and that. As they entered Luke's cavernous hotel foyer-like entrance, Annabeth marveled; she always marveled, every single time. It was all white marble, with a ceiling about twenty feet up and a huge chandelier right above them. There were various hallways leading off to different parts of the house on every wall, interspersed with huge works of art. There was also a gold-trimmed staircase leading to a second floor balcony above them. The whole place looked like a palace; only the finest for business tycoon Herman Castellan's family.

They were all familiar with their surroundings, and everyone immediately made their way through to the kitchen, all except Luke, who darted up the stairs. The kitchen was similarly spacious; a sleek modern looking room, like something you might see in a near-future sci-fi film, with a big kitchen island surrounded by stools. More chairs were spotted around the edges. It had an adjoining store room that was about as big as most people's living rooms, and a far door that led to the garden. The gang sat around in the various seats as Jason went to look for the drinks.

"Anyone know how long Percy will be?" Beckendorf asked.

"Oh, I think they might be a while yet." Silena replied, smiling slyly at Piper and Katie, who giggled.

"Yeah, Rachel's taking him around the scenic route" Piper laughed, and some of the others joined in. Annabeth didn't. She'd assumed that this party was really just a rouse to get Percy and Rachel together, but before the party even started? Damn, that girl was moving quickly. Rachel was the type of person who was used to getting what she wanted, and Annabeth knew most guys found her irresistible. There was no doubt in her mind how their car ride was going, as much as she wished she was wrong. This unfamiliar jealousy felt like it was in overdrive now, she had never experienced anything like this before. She still didn't understand it, but she knew she could also control it, at least for tonight.

Her train of thought was broken by Jason's return, big cases of beer in his arms. Thalia had already reached the massive liquor cabinet, which Luke kept well stocked, and had been pouring various spirits into glasses. Just then, Luke burst back into the room, a huge bag of marijuana in one hand, a big folded up paper ticket in the other. The boys immediately got up as they all crowded around the kitchen island.

"Everybody go out in the garden, we'll only be a few minutes," he said, gesturing to the door at the back. "Grab a drink, Annabeth you set the music." He threw her his phone from across the room, which she only just managed to catch (Gods, he was so careless sometimes). She grabbed a bottle of spiced rum and a glass and headed out to the back garden with the others, as Luke began emptying out some powder onto the table. Thalia downed a whole vodka-lemonade before joining the boys at their little island. Beckendorf came with Silena, he was the only one of the boys who didn't touch anything. He would drink a little, and had smoked with them a few times in the past, but generally took his athletic commitments incredibly seriously. Beckendorf wanted a scholarship, and you weren't likely to get one by drinking and doing drugs every weekend.

They all carried on into the garden, where Luke had huge patio that faced onto massive gardens. Along the patio there were huge full glass walls that showed the inside of Luke's living room, even bigger than the foyer; the patio itself was bigger than most houses, with multiple shaded areas for people to sit under when it was raining. There was a pool much further down, uncovered while the weather was still warm, and various garden houses and gazebos, along with some massive trees on one side. It was like a local park, not someone's back garden. Annabeth made her way to the biggest seating area. Only the most expensive garden furniture was allowed in Luke's house, obviously, but fortunately expensive meant comfortable. There was also a mini fridge with various mixers and another mini bar. She opened up Luke's phone and put a random playlist on shuffle, music blaring out of the garden speakers. Everything in this house was really advanced, with the ability to Bluetooth connect to massive speakers in just about every room, and that extended to outside as well.

Annabeth plotted down in the most comfortable chair before anyone else could. All the others sat down and made themselves at home, pouring out whatever drinks they'd brought out into cups. Some of the others chatted idly for a few minutes, but Annabeth stayed quiet, getting through her spiced-rum and coke. She needed something to take the edge off of this week, and welcomed the sweet tasting beverage. Eventually, Luke and the others came out, drinks and bottles in their hands, chatting away incessantly. They threw their various drugs onto the table in the middle, as they each found a space to sit down in.

"Who's ready to have fun?" Luke exclaimed loudly, as he placed some bottles on the table. Thalia immediately grabbed the vodka, as she poured a large amount into a cup, and drank it all straight. She liked to be considered a hardcore drinker, and given what they'd been doing in the kitchen, as well as what they all no doubt had planned for later, Thalia was well on her way to a heavy night.

"I think we should drop later" Michael exclaimed. "Aim to be rolling for midnight." Some of the others nodded in agreement. Luke sat down in the chair next to Annabeth, and began to roll a joint. Connor Stoll was doing the exact same thing just a few seats down. Yes, these boys certainly liked to get going quickly.

"So are Percy and Rachel lost or something?" Luke asked everyone, smirking massively. Some of the boys burst out laughing, clearly the gang still found it all incredibly amusing. Annabeth wished the jokes wouldn't last all night, although even she knew that was optimistic thinking.

"Oh he's having a great first week, I guarantee it" said Jason. There was no way Annabeth was avoiding this topic tonight.

"So do you guys think he's for real?" Thalia asked, sipping at her massive drink.

"What do you mean?" said Silena.

"I mean do you buy everything he's said?"

"It does seem a bit over the top" Katie piped up. Annabeth knew that some of the guys had their doubts about their new classmate and some of his escapades. It wouldn't be the most surprising thing for a new student to over-exaggerate slightly, but Annabeth highly doubted Percy would go to much length to try and impress anybody, let alone them. As little as she actually knew him, he just didn't strike her as the type to lie.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking. There's no way a seventeen year-old can have had that kind of life." You could hear the affects of the alcohol and drugs already seeping into Thalia's voice.

"Nah," it was Luke who spoke up, "this kid ain't bullshitting, I can tell. You can just see it in his eyes."

"Yeah, you guys didn't see him in the locker room" Jason added, glancing at his sister.

"I'd rather not hear about what you all get up to in the locker room, thank you very much" Thalia replied sarcastically, causing some snickers from the group.

"Shut up!" Jason snapped back angrily. He hated when his sister teased him, he'd never been able to beat her in games of wits and insults.

"He's talking about his body" Luke cut in before the siblings descended into name calling, which wasn't uncommon. "It's all covered in scars." That piqued the girls' interest, Annabeth was keenly paying attention now, and the laughing around her died down.

"Dude's got some serious looking ones, have to have been done by weapons, right along the ribs." As Jason described some more he could remember, Annabeth began picturing Percy in action. Mental images of him getting slashed at with knives suddenly made her unbelievable worried, as stupid as that sounded.

"Seriously? Do you think he'd show us some?" Thalia asked, she always had a morbid sense of humour.

"I bet Rachel's got a good view of them right about now" Piper interjected, causing more laughter. Annabeth smiled along, but inside these jokes were chipping away at her resolve. She didn't know how much more discussion of the hot new couple she could bare.

"It was kind of scary to see, I can't lie," added one of the Stoll twins, Annabeth wasn't paying close enough attention to which one.

"So you don't think he's bullshitting us? Because the way he describes his home is pretty graphic." Thalia always had a knack for voicing the silent opinion of the group, but the looks on the other boys' faces told Annabeth they were dead serious.

"Beckendorf," Jason spoke up, "he said you used to live there, is he kidding us?" They all turned to the large boy, who'd hardly said a word to anyone since arriving. His eyes darted around, and Annabeth could've sworn he looked nervous. Silena's arm was wrapped around his muscular one as they reclined back on a couch, but she could make out his shoulders tensing slightly, bracing himself to speak.

"He's not exaggerating, his home is tough man." It only now dawned on Annabeth that Beckendorf had never shared this information with them before. Perhaps Silena knew, but the rest of them hadn't even known he'd lived on the infamous Olympus Estate until that week. In the social circles Beckendorf and his family now occupied, that wasn't going to be the best conversation topic.

"You were there a decade ago, how much do you honestly remember?" Katie still sounded unconvinced.

"I remember the drug dealers who used to hang around the apartments," Beckendorf snapped back, but in that very measured tone of voice he normally had. He rarely got angry, but he certainly caught everyone's attention with that. "I even knew everything they were selling. I was only eight, but I still remember what places to avoid, and when, because you might get mugged. I remember being terrified of the older kids, they could start a fight at any minute. Some of the kids my age even ran drugs for some of the guys around there, for all I know Percy and his cousin were doing it too. Once they get you in, it's hard to get out." His words lingered with everyone; it sounded like the first time Beckendorf had gone over those memories in a good while.

"Come on man, eight year old's running drugs?" Michael didn't sound convinced, but Beckendorf's face remained serious.

"Police are less likely to search a kid, that's what we were always told." He looked positively morose, clearly uncomfortable with the topic.

"Well shit" someone muttered, Annabeth didn't notice who. She was too consumed in her thoughts. Beckendorf's description had hardly done her imagination any favours. She kept picturing Percy in serious danger, and didn't like the uncomfortable panic that came with that.

"Let's just say I'm lucky I didn't grow up there." Beckendorf then sat back and took a big gulp of his drink. His body language told them all they needed to know; that was enough Olympus talk from him. Silena softly wrapped her arm back around his, as they both sunk into the couch together. They began talking to each other intimately, in the way that only strong couples do, and the rest of the gang began chatting aimlessly amongst themselves. Some began to pour out more drinks, while Luke grabbed his phone and changed the music. The boys began to move a bit more to the faster techno beat, and began having a conversation about gang violence and some random films they'd seen, talking a mile a minute.

There were a few spliffs being passed around the circle, and Annabeth readily accepted when it came her way. The smoke filled her lungs, and she felt the light tingly feeling she always got at the back of her throat. She wasn't a regular smoker, just on certain occasions, but tonight she wanted to relax her mind as much as possible. She was the only person not really engaging in conversation, which was absolutely fine with her. She was happy to sit there and sip her way through glasses of spiced rum and coke, peacefully sinking further into the giant comfy garden chair. Thalia was emptying out a bottle of vodka into various cups and filling them all up with mixers, seemingly all for herself. Luke and some of the boys were still chatting away relentlessly, with more joints being rolled and passed around. Annabeth had no idea how fast time was going, enjoying the relaxing sensation spreading through her body, but she was jolted back to reality when Silena stood up, phone in hand.

"Rachel's here" she uttered, smirking. Everybody instantly sat up, as Silena stood up and made her way back into the house. Everybody was still chatting quietly amongst themselves, but with one eye keenly on the garden entrance. After a minute, Silena emerged hand in hand with the redhead, Percy following not too far behind them. The moment Annabeth saw him, she felt a pang in her heart, almost like a little flutter. Damn it, all that reassurance that she could handle herself tonight was slowly flying out the window. For his part, Percy was just staring at everything around him in total amazement.

"Percy!" Luke exclaimed, jumping up to greet the boy as he approached.

"Where's my hello?" Rachel quipped, to which Luke just rolled his eyes.

"Hey man," Percy muttered quietly, still taking in the garden he found himself in, only half-heartedly returning Luke's weird handshake greeting.

"You get here okay? Luke asked with a smirk, causing the rest of the guys to hide their own amusement. It made Annabeth's stomach lurch with jealousy, but she managed to keep a straight face. This time it was Rachel's turn to roll her eyes, but Percy hardly seemed to register the comment, nodding slightly as his eyes still wandered the vast gardens.

"Hey, you okay man?" Luke laughed, poking him in the shoulder lightly.

"Yeah, I've just never been in a house this big before. I've never seen anything like it." He still sounded distant as he spoke. Everybody seemed a bit taken aback by that. They all lived in houses of a similar magnitude, and were all so used to the luxury that they never really contemplated how other people lived. You could probably fit Percy's apartment inside Luke's house a hundred times over and still have space for more. It was quite incredible to see the look of wonder on his face; Annabeth couldn't recall ever seeing such a look on someone before. Rachel and Silena slid past Luke and down onto a sofa together. The redhead gave the other girls a knowing smile, causing them to giggle to themselves quietly, before she and Silena began whispering frantically to one another, no doubt sharing the sordid details of her car ride over here.

"Anyway man, make yourself at home!" Luke said, handing a beer to Percy, who accepted tentatively. He now turned his attention from the house to the gang, and Annabeth could tell he hated the fact that every eye was on him.

"Is your dad alright with this Luke?" he asked as he passed his own beer from hand to hand, seemingly nervously. Luke chuckled.

"My dad's never home, he's probably with some woman he's seeing, and the maids have gone home so we're alone for the night. Honestly, I doubt my father would really care." That seemed to be enough motivation for Percy, as he pulled out a lighter, and in one fluid movement used it to open up the beer. Everyone stared at him in amazement.

"Dude, that was awesome, how'd you do it?" Michael sounded genuinely awestruck.

"When you don't have any bottle openers, you learn to improvise" Percy said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Suddenly, all the guys were begging him to show them, as he made his way into the circle of chairs and sat down with them all.

"You boys are so easily impressed." Silena laughed. Annabeth had to agree. She was more interested in why Percy had a lighter; he didn't strike her as the smoking type. Then again, she hardly knew him, despite her feelings making her think otherwise.

"So you take a lighter to school?" Apparently Beckendorf had wondered the same thing, as he looked at Percy inquisitively. Goode was known for quite a strict policy on items like that.

"Yeah… I usually have one on me in case I want to smoke, that's all. Well, that, or if I'm ever in the mood to set a desk on fire again." At that last line, he smiled playfully, but to anyone else, it could've come across as dangerous.

"What else d'you take to school?" Beckendorf asked. Percy looked at him for a moment, before leaning back.

"You really wanna know?" Everyone seemed to nod, and with that confirmation, Percy reached in and emptied out his front and back pockets, dropping the contents onto the table at the center of the circle.

He pulled out a really old mobile phone, a crumpled five dollar bill, a key (no doubt to his apartment), a wrapped condom, rolling papers, filters, a small packet of tobacco and finally, a switchblade. The gang looked at the pile in fascination; as if it was the most incredible thing they'd ever seen.

"You take all that to school?" someone asked in disbelief, but for the life of her, Annabeth couldn't tell who. She was not paying attention, because her gaze was glued to one thing, the condom, as strange at that was. She'd guessed that Percy was sexually active, and had known what Rachel's intentions were, but this practically screamed it in her face. Did this mean he had a girlfriend? Or did he just always carry one around on the off-chance someone took an interest in him? Annabeth knew that she had to hide her growing jealousy. Everyone's suggestive jokes had been bad enough, but this was practically a flashing neon sign. Suddenly, she noticed a hand pick up the condom, and she looked up to see it was Luke. She snapped out of it.

"So, you always carry these around?" Luke asked, indicating the object in his hand. Percy just smiled and nodded.

"I had two of them this morning" he joked back, risking a side-eye at Rachel and causing a wave of smirking around the group. That was all the confirmation needed, and Annabeth felt that familiar sinking feeling in her gut. Rachel seemed unbothered; if anything she was laughing along with everyone. She will have known the whole group had been talking about her and Percy while they waited, but Rachel was the type of person who subscribed to the notion that the more money you had, the less you needed to care - as long as people were talking about you, it didn't matter whether it was good or bad. Their little gang knowing who had been trying to sleep with who was nothing new, in fact it had been regular gossip for the whole last year of school. Rachel wasn't the type to let other people get in the way of what she wanted; Annabeth doubted whether she'd even considered asking Percy if he had a girlfriend or not.

"So who's the lucky girl?" he asked "Or guy." He added, as if to be sure.

"Girl. She's just a girl from my estate. We get together every once in a while, hang out, smoke pot, maybe some other stuff if she's got it. We just have fun, that's all." Why did that make Annabeth so jealous? She should've guessed that a guy like Percy probably had a girlfriend already, but to actually have confirmation? That was a whole different ballpark. Rachel was one thing; she knew how Rachel operated, and doubted there were any deep feelings, but this sounded wholly more intimate.

"So you have a girlfriend?" Rachel asked humorously, a small smile playing on her lips. If Annabeth knew her at all, she would almost take pride in seducing someone who was taken. Percy just laughed.

"No, no. Calypso isn't my girlfriend. I've known her all my life." So she had a name, Calypso. Annabeth couldn't believe her immediate dislike of this girl. Rachel seemed largely uninterested, but she smiled before taking another gulf of her vodka and coke.

"Is that the girl who lived next door to you?" Beckendorf piped up, causing Percy to nod.

"The very one, we've been close for as long as I can remember." He sounded sincere, but Annabeth could still feel something gnawing away at her insides.

"Was she hot?" Jason asked Beckendorf, grinning towards Percy like they were in on some joke together. For his part, Percy just looked a little confused.

"Dude, we were children," Beckendorf replied, a hint of mock disgust laced in his tone. Jason quickly realised he'd stuck his foot in his mouth, causing a wave of laughter from everyone, not least Jason's sister. After letting his face redden a little more in embarrassment, Thalia, in her slightly drunken state, tried to change the subject.

"You bring a knife to school? That fuckin' badass." She wasn't slurring her words quite yet, but at the rate Thalia usually went, it wouldn't be long until then. Annabeth had also wondered about the knife, as there were never things like that found at Goode. Most everyone obeyed the rules on banned items, and if it was ever broken it was just for cigarettes, never dangerous weapons.

"It's purely practical," Percy stated, "if I'm walking home and some randoms try to jump me, I'm protected." Annabeth wasn't quite sure the logic behind that, but she didn't say anything.

"Man, you know you can get in serious trouble for having that right?" Beckendorf voiced. Percy just smiled casually.

"Yeah, but you're not gonna tell on me are you?" he replied. That could've come across as a threat, but Beckendorf chose not to see it like that.

"No man, I'm just saying if the school ever found out then-"

"Beckendorf, the school won't find out." Percy cut him off, talking slowly, matter-of-factly. That seemed to be enough to get Beckendorf to stop talking about it. Annabeth couldn't help but notice the mood had gone down slightly, as she took a swig of her drink. The alcohol was beginning to work its magic now; Annabeth wanted to relax and to have fun, to not have to think about her feelings for a few hours. She knew that she may regret it tomorrow, but she also didn't really care right now. She poured herself another drink while Luke changed the subject.

"You smoke Percy?" he asked, as he pulled out the bag of marijuana, still pretty full. He picked up papers from the table, better quality than Percy's ones, and began to take them out.

"Luke, let me." Percy spoke up, as he held out his hand.

"I can roll you know." Luke pointed out.

"How long does it take you?"

"About five minutes I guess, I don't know." Percy just laughed, before further holding his hand out. Annabeth was watching this exchange with fascination. Luke, almost begrudgingly, handed over the weed, papers and grinder in his hands to Percy, who made space on the table, before he began rolling. It couldn't have been much longer than thirty seconds before he held up a perfectly rolled joint, which he handed to Luke, and then began rolling a second.

"Holy shit that was fast" Silena exclaimed. Percy just gave her a devilish smile.

"I got a lot of practice."

"No shit." Luke muttered under his breath, examining the joint in his hand. "Percy, this is incredible. I gotta try this." As he lit it, and breathed it in, Annabeth couldn't help but notice how naturally he did it now. She remembered when Luke had just started smoking pot, and she had done it a few times with him, but it had only been every once in a while. Now she was pretty sure he did it everyday, and that he was well on his way to becoming a complete pothead. At the weekends, he would party hard, and she had no doubt his little habits were costing him a lot of money. Not that money was ever a huge issue for Luke, but drugs were becoming his answer to 'what should I spend my fathers millions of dollars on?' Annabeth wasn't quite sure how he expected to get a football scholarship if he had a drug problem, but she hadn't quite found the right time to bring that up with him.

"Percy, this is one of the best joints I ever smoked." he said between draws, before passing it Percy's way. He inhaled effortlessly, the smoke billowing out of his mouth and nose. As he took another swig of his beer, his eyes made contact with Annabeth's for the first time that night. It was a quick fleeting glace, but it excited her. It seemed to be daring her to do something, only she had no idea what that was. He did though, and he was being cocky about that. That's what it seemed like anyway. Was she overthinking everything? Was the booze and bud distorting her mind? Probably.

"Right, come on Perce, I've gotta give you a tour of the place." Luke said, standing up. The use of a nickname sounded odd out of his mouth, and Annabeth could've sworn she saw the briefest of side-eye glances from Percy. Luke started walking back towards the house, not really giving Percy an option to decline. He slowly sat back up and followed the boy back into the mansion. All the other boys, Beckendorf included, got up and followed, one of the Stoll twins taking a couple of joints with them as they walked back towards the kitchen. Luke liked his 'guy time', and he would no doubt be grilling Percy with 'locker room banter' and dirty questions about Rachel and other girls. It was a side of Luke she wasn't particularly fond of, and internally hoped Percy was above such behavior, as unlikely as that may be.

As soon as the guys got up, the girls closed in on Rachel, eager to hear all the juicy details of her car ride with Percy. Just as it irritated her with Luke, this sort of chat between the girls was hardly her idea of fun. She could just about bare it with Thalia and Silena, but with the whole gang she usually just ended up feeling uncomfortable. This evening, that was only intensified; she did not want to hear details of the guy she had spent the last week unable to stop thinking about getting it on with one of her friends. Just as Rachel began to describe something to do with her reclining seat and how easily she could lean it back, Annabeth took a last big gulp of her drink, and quickly leaned forward to refill it. Half a joint was left in one of the ashtrays, and she quickly claimed it, grabbing a nearby lighter. All of the girls were too wrapped up in Rachel's story to notice her disinterest. Annabeth just zoned out and focused on the music in the background, keeping her mind away from the topic of discussion.

Annabeth didn't know how long had gone by, or how many drinks she'd gotten through, when the boys returned. Percy walked among them, hands in pockets, shoulders hunched a little. None of the boys had noticed, but he kept glancing around like he had when he first walked in, as if he still couldn't quite comprehend his surroundings. Annabeth knew how vast the various floors and rooms of Luke's house were; it was a lot to take in. They all sat back down, still smoking and drinking away. The girls had long since moved their discussion on, and by now everybody was nicely buzzed.

As the night went on, everyone slowly relaxed. After another hour, Thalia was so drunk that she was just mindlessly dancing to the house music, along with some of the other girls and guys. Luke was sitting down, talking away rapidly with Jason and Travis. Annabeth was still sitting in her comfy reclining chair. She had not actually said anything to anyone. Had they not all been either drunk or high, they probably would've noticed, but no one had said anything to her. She hoped it stayed that way.

For most of the night she had been glancing at Percy, trying not to make her interest in him obvious. At that moment, he was sitting in the same chair, chatting to Michael Yew. Then, suddenly, in her slightly drunken state, Rachel went over and sat herself down on Percy's lap. She was laughing and he seemed to be finding something funny too. They were getting very touchy feely. Annabeth told herself to look away, she knew that jealousy would rear its ugly head soon enough, but she couldn't take her eyes off of the encounter. It was like self-inflicted torture: she knew that she didn't want to see it, but she had to look. Why did she have to feel like this?

Percy and Rachel talked for a good five minutes before Rachel's lips started kissing Percy's cheek, then his jawbone, then his neck. Annabeth felt her heart rate quicken. She felt like such an idiot. In this moment, all the alcohol and cannabis she'd consumed was wasted, she could take her mind off of it even if her life depended on it. Closing her eyes, she tried to ignore. 'You have a boyfriend' she told herself over and over again.

'But you don't actually love him do you?'

Not the voice again. She'd kept it quiet all night. Even now it sounded faint. Annabeth took another gulp of her drink, hoping it would simply go away. Just as she opened her eyes, she saw Percy and Rachel's lips meet. It was short, but enough for Annabeth's mind to go racing. She couldn't handle this; she had to get out of here, had to have ten minutes to herself. She got up; muttering something about going to the bathroom, although she doubted anyone was listening, and made her way into Luke's house, avoiding glancing at Percy and Rachel as she walked past them.

She headed straight for the nearest bathroom in Luke's house, which was through the kitchen and up a flight of stairs. As soon as she reached it, she slammed the door shut and locked it. She was pretty sure nobody had even been paying attention; most of the boys had dropped by now and were waiting till it all kicked in and they began to roll. She washed her hands in the nearest sink, splashing a little on her face. Her eyes were slightly bloodshot and she could feel the buzz of the alcohol, but she didn't look as bad as she had thought she might. She opened a cabinet and grabbed a glass, and pouring herself water from the tap (Luke's house was the type that had basically everything you needed in any given room). Maybe water would help; after all, her head was spinning a bit. She silently cursed herself, having probably made a huge fool of herself walking out like that. But no one came in to check, so maybe no one noticed. She perched on the edge of the bath, her mind unable to dismiss the image of Percy and Rachel's lips meeting.

'They'll all have figured out by now.'

"Shut up" she muttered, aware she'd spoken out loud. If the first sign of madness was talking to yourself, Annabeth was sure that she'd passed that a while ago. What she was feeling right now only confirmed what she was probably afraid to admit. Right now, it felt as if she were perched on a cliff edge, waiting for the inevitable fall. A small, nagging part of her subconscious wanted to have Percy Jackson all to herself. How these feelings had dawned on her so quickly was beyond her comprehension, but they were becoming undeniable. Saying them in her head didn't make her feel like the load had been taken off, she just felt worse. She felt worse because she knew that she couldn't act on these feelings, not without messing up her life. She suddenly became aware that there were some tears on her cheeks. Damn it, she thought, she hated crying; it made her feel so weak.

(Video) Yo-kai Watch 3 - Part 16: DR. MADDIMAN! (100% Walkthrough)

Through an open window, she could hear the music and chatter from the garden. She got up and glanced out, and could just about make out two people walking off in the distance, towards the end of the massive garden where the pool and the trees were, now too dark to properly make out. Although they were too far away to actually recognise, the red hair on one of them told Annabeth exactly who it was. Rachel was no doubt giving Percy a personal tour of the gardens. Great, Annabeth though, she wasn't sure what was worse; the actual images she couldn't shake or the mental ones she was now imagining. She suddenly heard Thalia screaming the lyrics to a song, and she forced herself away from the window.

She stayed sat in that bathroom for a little while longer, she wasn't quite ready to rejoin the party. She'd thought she could handle this, that booze and drugs would push Percy to the back of her mind, but if anything it had made it worse. She was in no mood to socialise, but it was still half an hour until midnight, and she knew that there'd be awkward questions to dodge if she left this early. By now her drunkenness had levelled out somewhat. Some sight she must've been, sitting alone in a bathroom, breathing heavily and staring off into nothingness. She wondered if anybody had noticed she was gone yet, although they were all probably too far gone to even care.

Slowly, she got herself up and left the room, making her way down the stairs and back into the kitchen. She could still make out the music out in the garden, and heard the occasional shriek of delight, but still didn't feel inclined to go out just yet. She poured herself another glass of water from the tap, standing alone in Luke's kitchen. She was annoyed at herself for losing control of her emotions earlier, but she also now felt the best she had since they'd arrived at Luke's. Her friends were too much right now, high as kites and obsessed with the mysterious new student she was trying so hard to ignore. Her time-out had cleared her mind somewhat. She knew she'd only stick it out another hour or so before heading home, the last half hour had drained her energy.

"Oh, hey" a familiar voice suddenly spoke from the far end of the room, just out of her vision. She turned quickly and saw the boy who had invaded her thoughts over the past week standing in the doorway. His hair was sticking up more than it usually did, and he had a beer bottle in his hand.

"Percy…" she breathed, suddenly trying to think of some excuse as to why she was here. All that anxiety she thought she had dealt with suddenly flooded back to her, and she fidgeted about on the spot as he approached her, swigging the last of the drink down. He put it down on the counter as he reached her, leaning next to her, not close enough that they were touching, but close enough to send Annabeth's mind racing.

"How long have you been in here?" he asked. Up close, she could see his own eyes were slightly bloodshot, and she felt slightly less insecure about her own drunken appearance. He still looked pretty calm, and she could swear he was getting more attractive every time she saw him. His eyes were just so captivating and his hair never stayed put, but it gave him a unique kind of- Dammit Annabeth, she thought, now isn't the time to lose control.

"Not long," she muttered, trying to sound calmer than she felt. "I had to go to the bathroom." Gods, why did she tell him that?

"You weren't throwing up were you?" he asked her, smirking slightly as he did. It put her at ease.

"Ha ha," she joked back sarcastically, "I can handle myself thank you very much."

"Good, I wouldn't want to think you're a lightweight." He was smiling fully now, and Annabeth felt a layer of anxiety wash away as she smiled back. Talking to him suddenly felt more natural; it was a feeling she welcomed.

"More importantly, what are you doing in here?" she asked, in a mockingly accusatory tone.

"Honestly? I was actually leaving." He held his hands up in fake surrender, and she couldn't help but find it amusing. Still, hearing he was planning on leaving filled her with an irritating disappointment. Sure she hadn't been having the best of nights, particularly when it came to the boy himself, but she still wanted him to feel welcome. Besides, the next few minutes might not be that bad.

"You not having fun?" she asked, trying to disguise any upset that might be laced in her voice.

"No I am, I've had a good night," he grinned warmly as spoke, lighting up his face. Why could she not stop noticing little features like that? "I just didn't plan on going out after school, let alone staying out. It's late and my phone died hours ago, my mom will be wondering where I am."

"How responsible" she joked back, eliciting laughter from him.

"Tonight's hardly been a picture of responsibility." They were both chuckling now. She wasn't sure if her mind was playing tricks on her but she could swear he was standing slightly closer to her than he had been a minute ago.

"Well we can order you a cab if you need?" she asked, silently hoping he would suddenly change his mind. Percy just laughed instead.

"No cab place around here will drop in my area" he said. That surprised Annabeth slightly, she couldn't imagine that was true.

"It's really that bad?" she replied, daring to turn and make eye contact with him. She met the sea green orbs, which had a look of seriousness. He nodded slowly, and she could tell he wasn't joking.

"Did the guys tell you about my scars?" he asked quietly, and this time it was her turn to nod silently. He smiled, but it wasn't a happy one, more a resigned acceptance, like he'd expected nothing else. "That's about all you need to know. It's not a pretty place for kids, and only gets tougher as you grow up." He spoke so frankly about topics like this it was almost alarming. Percy's home was a world Annabeth was used to seeing in TV shows and films, not having told to her by a schoolmate.

"What was the worst one?" she probed, referring to his scars and hoping he wouldn't take offence. He didn't, smiling broadly as if suddenly remembering fonder times. Suddenly he lifted up his shirt, showing off the left hand side of his body. He was fairly well built for a seventeen year old, broad and developing muscles, and even in the dim light Annabeth could make out one or two of the scars across his torso. He pointed below him arm towards a long jagged mark, pinker than the rest of the skin around it.

"Broken bottle. Nico had to pull out bits of glass that stuck in there," he said, as she leaned in closer to see. It ran from below his armpit to just under his nipple at a diagonal slant, and looked about four or five inches long. It must've hurt like hell at the time.

"It looks painful" she muttered, unsure how to respond. She wasn't used to being in situations like this, while Percy was talking like it didn't even matter. He dropped his shirt, and this time she was certain they were standing closer together.

"I mean yeah, there was a lot of blood. We were worried it hit a big artery or something. A local doctor patched me up and it was fine a week later."

"And stuff like that is normal for you?" she asked, still slightly amazed at it all.

"Uh-huh, every week or so. Could happen at any time" he still spoke frankly, but Annabeth thought she detected a more somber tone, a weariness that had no place in the voice of a teenager. She could easily see why none of their fancy local cab companies would drop him off.

"Goode must be a really big change for you then?"

"Oh yeah," Percy smiled again now, and any hint of melancholy was gone. "It's a different world. I have no idea how to act half the time." She smiled at his honesty.

"Oh come on, it's not that bad, you seem to have adjusted fine from where I stand." Annabeth responded, "I can tell you've had some fun this week."

"Okay yeah, it's not been entirely bad, I'm still not sure about the whole place though," he admitted, "making new friends has been… interesting."

"What do you mean?"

"Well at Olympus, I know everyone. I've never had to 'make' any friends, it's just part of our lives. We've all known each other for years. I have no idea how to talk to people like you guys."

"Well," Annabeth paused, unsure whether she was brave enough to finish her sentence. Fuck it, she thought, you've got nothing to lose. "You can always talk to me if you want, about anything." She smiled, and would've reached out to touch his hand if she didn't think that would've been too on the nose. She was thankful when he smiled appreciatively back.

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." A silence engulfed them, so Annabeth built up the courage to mention the topic that had been bugging her all evening.

"You seemed to be getting on okay with Rachel" she spoke softly, trying to smile sincerely, the way a friend might. Inside, she was completely torn, longing to find out exactly how he felt about the girl and hating herself for having such pitiful feelings. Her exterior however conveyed a calm, unbothered attitude, like she hadn't spent most of the night mentally fretting over the two of them. Percy didn't pick up on anything.

"Oh I get it," he laughed, "you're being the 'good friend' right? Checking my intentions with one of your girlfriends are honorable?" She couldn't help but smile back.

"No I'm genuinely curious. Honestly, I'd be more concerned about her intentions with you" Annabeth quipped back, and they both laughed again.

"You're not wrong there" he replied, "I don't know, she's fun. It's not exactly something I went after, but it's fun. I don't know if there's any feelings on her part, but I doubt it. I don't think I'll be asking her to be my girlfriend any time soon, it's not that type of thing. I can say that right? That doesn't make me an asshole?"

"No, it makes you honest." Annabeth was fighting to suppress the grin spreading across her face. Even in the dim lighting, she was sure Percy would notice. "And don't worry, this can stay between us."

"That's great," he whispered back. Their bodies were achingly close now, Annabeth could practically feel the heat radiating off of his arm onto hers, just a few inches apart.

"One thing I've noticed," he began, "is that you're all used to getting exactly what you want. I think it's why I'm feeling a little out of place." He spoke matter-of-factly, not accusatory or angry but as though he was simply stating facts. "The whole school is full of kids like that. Like Luke getting me to come to this party, or Rachel getting me into her car. I feel like no one ever says no to them, that you all get every indulgence you could dream of. That's doesn't happen where I come from." She wanted to argue, but she knew deep down he was probably right. She knew she was privileged, and although she had her own problems, meeting Percy had reminded her just how lucky they all had it. Still, she hoped he didn't see her as some spoilt princess; she could barely remember the last time she'd done something for herself, rather than because it was what someone else (namely her mother) wanted. Her studying, her boyfriend, this whole party tonight – was it really all exactly what she desired?

"I never get what I want," she muttered quietly, suddenly aware of how close their hands were, both leaning against the kitchen counter. Their eyes met yet again, and she could've sworn electricity passed through them.

"What do you want?" he asked, just as quietly as he had. In the dim kitchen lights, with the faint sound of music coming from the garden the moment suddenly felt incredibly intimate.

"Y'know, I don't think anyone's ever asked me that before," she replied, and it was true. She'd always been so busy getting on with what was expected of her, she'd never paused to ask herself what she actually wanted, and no one else she knew had asked either.

"Well, for what it's worth, I think you could do anything." Annabeth took a sharp breath as Percy smiled; was he just complimenting her, or was this something more inviting? He hadn't crossed any lines, but his eyes had a playful gleam in them now. Did he feel the same way that she felt? Had he been wrestling with his thoughts all week, just as she had? Unable to take it anymore, she moved her hand lightly on top of his, and felt all the walls she'd built crumble at the contact. The beautiful sea green colour of his eyes seemed to be changing, moving, like the very waves of the ocean they resembled. They drew her in, and Annabeth made an in-the-moment decision that she knew she may regret later. She reduced the small distance between them and kissed Percy Jackson.

It was a light kiss at first, lasting only a second. Her heart skipped a beat, and the anxiety and tension in her stomach vanished momentarily. When she pulled away and looked into his eyes, she saw a hunger in them. Before she knew it, he pulled her back into another kiss, this one longer, deeper. She leaned into it, and closed her eyes as their lips moved in tandem. All she could hear was her increasing heartbeat, and wondered if his was going at the same rate. Suddenly, she felt his hand rest on her neck, as he pulled her closer. His touch was gentle, not forceful. His lips were hard, but Annabeth could also feel a tenderness to them. She wrapped her arm around him, as his other arm rested itself on her lower back. She pressed her body into his; wanting more, needing more. She had kissed Luke so many times over the duration of their relationship, but never had she felt like this, this alive, this exhilarated.


That was enough to snap her out of it. She quickly pulled away from Percy, her lips instantly and sharply feeling the absence of his. She didn't know how long they'd been kissing, it could've been seconds, minutes or hours, and as much as she'd enjoyed it, she also knew that kissing him in her boyfriend's kitchen probably wasn't the best idea. Anyone could walk in at any moment. They still had each other's arms wrapped around them, and they were breathing heavily, staring at each other, when they heard a voice from the garden door.

"Annabeth?" It was Silena. Very quickly, her and Percy separated, just before Silena walked in. "Oh, you're both in here. We just wondered where you were, that's all."

"I'll be through in a minute, just wanted a glass of water," she said. Silena nodded, but looked at both of them suspiciously, as if she was guessing what exactly they'd been doing.

"Okay…" she said quietly, before walking out. If Silena had realised, Annabeth knew that she wouldn't tell anyone; she'd talk to her directly. That was just a bridge she'd have to cross when she got to it.

They were both alone again, Percy and Annabeth. She couldn't help but notice that that had a ring to it, Percy and Annabeth. Their eyes met, green on grey. She was unsure of what his eyes were saying, but they looked just like they had earlier. The urge to kiss him arose again from deep within her, but she knew that it would be a bad idea.

"So I was going," Percy said, somewhat awkwardly, as he pointed to the door. She suddenly remembered why he was inside in the first place. "I'm sorry," he muttered, unsure of how to act now. Annabeth felt just as confused.

"Don't apologise, we can forget it" she murmured back, actively avoiding gazing back into his eyes.

"You wanna forget it?" he whispered. It made Annabeth think. Now that she'd kissed Percy, all she wanted was more. But she couldn't say that, could she? At least not while she was still with Luke.

"I don't know." she answered truthfully, earning a sympathetic smile from him. Unconsciously, they agreed that that was enough said about that subject for tonight. Percy shuffled awkwardly past her, towards the door at the other end of the kitchen.

"Can you tell them all I left?" he asked, "Thank Luke for having me and all that?" At the mention of Luke, she felt a sharp mental twinge. She'd broken his trust in his own house, and the guy she had just kissed was asking her to thank him. There was a cruel irony to it all.

"Yeah," she muttered back, "get home okay…" He flashed her one final winning smile before heading out of the far door. With that, he was gone, and Annabeth suddenly felt an emptiness engulf the room. She stood there for a second, with only her thoughts. Had she just made a huge mistake? And if she had, why did she feel so good? She quickly got up and made her way to rejoin her friends. This night had taken an unexpected turn.

Chapter 9

Chapter Text


Walking through the Olympus Estate late at night could be very dangerous if you weren't careful. People seemed to never go to sleep, because there was nearly always someone out and about, no matter the hour. Olympus Estate consisted of four long apartment complexes in the shape of a square, with three being identical and one being slightly larger. That was the building Poseidon lived in, and where most of his key cronies did too. At the center of the square there was a small concrete park, and around the sides and the back of the buildings there were alleyways and paths that were almost always occupied by some kind of group of kids or gang members. The walls were meant to be a pale white, but they'd become more of a grey colour over the years, and were mostly covered with graffiti anyway. Some of the apartments faced onto the park, while some faced onto the busy local street. Neither was a particularly good view. There were usually people either sitting outside the front of their apartments, in the park or in the street at any time of the day. This meant that if you weren't from the local area, or you were from a rival gang, or you were just plain rude to anyone, well, you better be careful, because most of the locals didn't take kindly to strangers.

You didn't call the police if you got into trouble. That was a rule. If you were hurt, no ambulance for you. All problems were brought to Poseidon, or if he wasn't there, one of his top men. If you were injured at all, there was an old doctor on the estate who you went to. Dr. Solace was Will's father, often nicknamed Apollo. Living on a place named after Mount Olympus brought on a lot of Greek Mythology nicknames. It was only in the rare circumstance that Apollo couldn't help you that you went to a hospital, but even then, the local hospital seemed to know a lot of what went on in the area, and knew better than to ask questions unless absolutely necessary.

If you had a dispute with someone else in the gang, you were supposed to go to Poseidon to sort it out. If you were in trouble with the police, go to Poseidon and he'd deal with it. If you were threatened or injured by another gang, go to Poseidon and… well you get the point. Poseidon dealt with all problems because no one wanted the police sniffing around. Percy always found it quite ironic that his father took more interest in the neighbours that lived around the estate than he did his own son; he would begrudgingly help anyone who needed it before he even made time to see Percy. Fortunately, most people could handle themselves, and didn't run to the boss with every small issue they had, particularly the younger members. To a lot of them, asking the big guy to solve your problem was a sign of cowardice, of running away from your responsibilities. Percy in particular couldn't do this, being the son of Poseidon. Everyone would just call him a daddy's boy. No; he had always stood up for himself. At first, it had never ended well, but as he got older, he had gradually started earning his respect.

As he walked through the estate that night, Percy spotted a few groups of people. He nodded a greeting at them, seeing as he knew most people around here. Olympus at night was only safe for the inhabitants. Percy could see his own apartment door up above, but he didn't want to go home yet. It was pushing one in the morning now, and he'd left Luke's about an hour ago. The walk back had been longer than he'd expected, Percy had never had to return from Luke's area in his life. It really had been an eventful night. Instead of walking straight to his apartment, where his mother was no doubt still waiting for him to come home, he sat down on a bench in the park, and thought about the past few hours.

He'd kissed Annabeth. Well technically she'd kissed him first, but he returned it. And it hadn't been an ordinary kiss either. Percy had been sure that he didn't have any sort of attraction to her beyond admitting she was attractive, but that kiss had changed things a bit. Now, he couldn't get the image of her standing just in front of him out of his head. All his memories of Rachel, Luke and all the others from the night were suddenly swept under the rug, pushed to the back of his mind, at least for tonight. He could easily recall the smell of Annabeth's perfume, the taste of her lips, the feel of her body as his hands moved up and down her curves. It was like she was a drug that Percy had tried, and now he was addicted.

He wasn't even sure why he had kissed back. Sure, he'd felt their conversation getting more intimate, but when she had kissed him he barely had time to react before she had pulled away, looking slightly embarrassed. Maybe it was her embarrassment, maybe it was her looks, or maybe it was the fact that Percy actually quite liked it, but whatever it was, he had leaned forward and kissed her.

And he had really enjoyed it. His heart had been racing so fast he could practically hear it in his ears afterwards, and when Annabeth pulled away, Percy had actually been disappointed. Of course, he wasn't an idiot. He knew that kissing Luke's girlfriend in his own house was as disrespectful as anything and would no doubt cause serious problems. Then Silena walked in. It had been so obvious from her face that she knew what had happened. Percy didn't know her well, but he knew the look in her eyes. She wasn't fooled for a second. He decided to let Annabeth deal with that. After all, they were all her friends.

Annabeth's words still rung in Percy's ears, after he'd asked if they should forget about it.

"I don't know."

Did that mean she liked him? It wasn't a yes, but it definitely wasn't a no. Would they see each other like that again? Did he even want that? Percy quickly stopped his train of thought from going down that path. Why did he care so much? An hour ago he hadn't felt like this. Did one kiss change that much?

Percy was so deep in thought that he didn't notice the well-dressed man approaching until he was standing in front of him.

"Percy?" the voice was deep, and dripped with authority, but there was also an edge to it. It wasn't hard to tell that this man wasn't too fond of Percy. Percy knew who it was instantly, of course. He raised his eyes and saw one of the most intimidating men he knew standing in front of him, holding out his hand.


Atlas was Calypso's father, and they lived alone together (whenever he was actually home) since Zoe had left the estate. Now, you may be wondering what Atlas's first name was, and honestly, Percy had no idea. He had always just gone by his surname, and everyone was too scared to ask him. Atlas was one of Poseidon's top guys. In fact it was probably safe to call him the second in command. He was strong, well muscled and always dressed better than most people in Olympus; he was fond of suits. His sleeked back black hair and stone grey eyes only added to the intimidation levels. If anyone around here looked like a proper, stereotypical gangster, it was Atlas. Oh, and he wasn't too fond of Percy. In fact, he didn't like him one bit.

You see, Percy had dared to touch Atlas' daughter, and despite the fact that he was just about as distant as a father could be to Calypso, he didn't like anyone else having a relationship her either. When he first found out about Percy and Calypso being more than just friends, the only thing that had prevented him from 'ripping Percy's spine out' (his words) had been the fact that he was Poseidon's son. This meant that he was the last person Percy particularly wanted to see after midnight.

Percy looked at the outstretched hand of Atlas and shook it. It felt like he was attempting to crush Percy's hand with his own, his immense strength evident.

"Atlas… sir. Hello." Percy muttered. He was never quite sure how to address his father's friends. He really didn't like this man, but he knew he didn't have a choice but to suffer through the conversation.

"You're on your own." the suit clad man pointed out.

"And your eyes work..." Percy muttered under his breath, sarcastically. It was dangerous; Atlas was known to have a short fuse. Even a small bit of sarcasm might send him into a rage, but if he heard Percy's comment, he didn't react to it.

"Tell me, what are you doing out so late, on your own?" Atlas asked. Percy wanted to know why he cared; after all, past experiences told him that Atlas wasn't his number one fan.

"Well I was with friends earlier, and on the walk back I decided to sit down for a minute. Why the hell do you care?" He knew it was risky talking back like this, but his patience with the man was incredibly short; Percy had heard too much from Calypso's mouth to respect her father. Suddenly a huge cocky smile broke out across Atlas' face.

"And you are aware that your father is waiting in your apartment for you to get home? Has been for about four hours." The large man flashed his pearly whites, with one golden one, as he saw the panic spread in the sea green eyes. His father was home?

The panic kicked in immediately, and Percy cursed himself for forgetting. He remembered now his mom's words before school, but in the midst of football and car journeys and parties his mind had completely blanked the information out. He was suddenly furious with himself for letting his phone die, just one call would've saved him. Percy knew better than most how his father hated waiting, so the knowledge that he'd been back for four hours, waiting for Percy, was enough to press every panic button inside his head. Would he be angry? That was a stupid question; of course he'd be angry. This explained Atlas' cocky demeanor. Percy could see that he was enjoying his momentary freak out, but honestly he didn't care. He quickly got up, excused himself and walked straight to his apartment door, leaving Atlas chuckling to himself in the middle of the estate.

"I hope your party was fun," the man called out to him as he darted away. If Percy wasn't so annoyed at himself he might have let the snide comment bother him.

He raced up the stairs and along the drab pathways full of doors. As he approached his apartment door, he heard what sounded like a muffled argument inside.

"He'll be here, okay?" Percy recognised the voice of his mother.

"He better be." That was his father. Percy didn't like his tone. He braced himself for whatever torrent of words his father would throw at him. He was seventeen years old, and he could still get nervous whenever he was in trouble with his father. Breathing deeply, he put in his key and opened the front door.

"Guys, I'm home!" he called out as he entered. Immediately the talking stopped, and Percy heard footsteps before he even saw anyone.

"Where the fuck have you been?!"

That was, of course, Poseidon. Now in all honestly, Percy was never actually sure what his father's real name was. Sure, it was a little weird, but Olympus could be a strange place, and lots of people went by nicknames instead. He knew his real surname was Waters, but he never asked him what his first name actually was. Percy always guessed it was Peter or Paul or something like that. The first thing anyone would notice about Poseidon was how intimidating he was. Percy would rather run off and face one hundred Atlas' than his father if he could. Poseidon was tall, around 6'4", and was incredibly well built. He kept his jet-black hair and beard neatly cut, and his face looked like it might break if he tried to smile. Whenever he wore a short-sleeved shirt, like he was right now, you could see lots of tattoos up and down his arms. A gold medallion, shaped like a trident, hung from his neck, and he had a collection of rings on his fingers. The rings actually served another purpose, and that was to add extra pain when he punched someone.

"Nice to see you too." Percy replied, perhaps a little bravely, in a sarcastic tone. His father walked closer to him.

"Don't get fuckin' smart with me, answer the damn question. Where have you been?" His father sounded irritated, and that in turn irritated Percy. He hadn't seen his son in a week, and he didn't even say hello first. No, it was straight to swearing at him.

"Percy," his mother walked up and hugged him "you should've called." Sally Jackson never went down Poseidon's parenting route. In fact, Percy struggled to remember the last time she'd gotten really angry with him. Exacerbated sure, but rarely angry.

"I know, I'm sorry."

"Hey, answer the fuckin' question dipshit." Poseidon shouted. He certainly swore like a sailor, living up to his name in that sense. Percy tried not to take it personally (he heard how his father talked to everybody, and it wasn't much different), but it still stung to hear the venom in his voice. It was evident that he would be reaching new levels of anger soon.

"Poseidon, just lower your voice. Calm down." Sally tried to keep the situation from getting out of hand, forever playing the peacemaker between her son and his father.

"Calm down? I am fuckin' calm. Don't fuckin' tell me to calm down. You watch your damn mouth Sally," he barked, turning his gaze to Percy's mom. Sally was not a short woman, but Poseidon still towered over her. Percy was worried for a second that his father may go too far and hit her or something, although to Percy's recollection he never had before, never even came close in fact. He was a distant father sure, and an asshole of the highest degree, but he wasn't abusive.

"Hey!" Percy yelled, "You don't talk to my mother like that. You're pissed at me, so shout at me. You wanna know where I was? I was with some people from school. Y'know, that new school I'm at? Yeah, they invited me to a party, and I couldn't really say no." He could see his father was about to interrupt him, but he didn't give him the chance. "You know why? Because I'm trying to fit in, because you made me go to some school where I don't know anyone, which by the way, I really fuckin' hate." Percy hadn't realised how loud he had been shouting. Hell, Calypso probably heard him next door. All their neighbors must have gotten used to living next to the boss's family by now.

Poseidon just glared at Percy. It was a long glare, as sea green eyes met sea green eyes. According to everyone, Percy was the spitting image of Poseidon as a teenager, and his eyes were no exception. They were one of the many things Percy inherited from his deeply dislikable dad. The father son stare contest was ended when Poseidon faced away, before looking back, his face emotionless. No anger, no hatred, no love.

"Next time call your mother, she was worried sick," he said, completely deadpan. "I don't want to have to wait over four hours again. Understood?" He pointed at Percy, cocking his eyebrow as he talked. Percy nodded, which was good enough for his father.

"We were just worried about you sweetie," his mom added, although Percy was sure that was only true on her part. At her soothing words, he instantly felt the adrenaline of the argument vanish, and guilt took back over. As often as he did it, disappointing his mom was something he still hated doing. It was Poseidon who spoke up next.

"I wanted to have a talk with you, about the school and everything, but I have somewhere to be tonight. We'll have to talk over the weekend, okay?" he raised his eyebrow again, and Percy dutifully nodded again in return. "And what are you not going to do?" Poseidon continued.

"Make you wait four hours…" Percy responded, trying to sound uninterested, like this was all meaningless to him. It wasn't true, and he doubted his father was buying it, but any opportunity to act like his father didn't scare the living daylights out of him was worth it to him.

"I don't wanna wait four fuckin' minutes, okay?" Poseidon spat back, and Percy just nodded again, resigned to the fact that he would never get in the last word with his father. "Okay. Sally, it was good to see you, if you need help with that thing just let me know."

"I will, thanks," his mom replied, smiling warmly at him. She would treat anybody with warmth and kindness, even someone as tough and nasty as Poseidon. When he was younger, Percy had been confused as to why his parents weren't together; his dream had always been to be one happy family. Now he was older though, he was thankful they weren't. Sally Jackson was too kind and sweet a woman to be married to an asshole like Poseidon, and Percy often wondered what she'd ever even seen all those years ago. He guessed he shouldn't complain, because then he wouldn't be here in the first place, but it was still pretty mindboggling. Without another word, Poseidon walked to the door, stopping only briefly to pat Percy on the shoulder. No doubt he thought it was affectionate, fatherly, but Percy just wished he'd leave. Then, in one second, the door slammed shut, and the room was silent.

The silence hung in the room, neither Percy nor Sally daring to move. It was like they expected Poseidon to burst back in or something. Then, Sally let out a huge sigh of relief as she walked into the kitchen.

"Mom," Percy started, "I'm sorry I didn't-" Sally cut him off.

"I know Percy, I'm just glad you're home safe."

"I would've been home sooner if I'd remembered he was waiting." he assured her.

"Percy," his mother sighed, "I reminded you this morning for this exact reason, I didn't want him to be waiting around."

"My phone died, I would've called you otherwise."

"You didn't have a pen and paper to write it down and remind yourself?" she raised an eyebrow at him, and he knew he wasn't going to win this argument either. His parents took two very different approaches, but both usually reached the same end goal.

"Where does he even have to go at one in the morning?" Percy asked out loud. It was just as much a rhetorical question as it was one aimed at Sally.

"You know what he's like, and I know better than to ask. You should too." His father was the only topic where Sally would put her foot down with her son, where she was somewhat firm with him. She knew how dangerous the man's world was, and had always tried, however unsuccessfully, to shield her son from it as much as possible.

"What did he mean about helping you?" Percy asked, referring to Poseidon's parting words to his mom.

"Nothing you need to worry about sweetie." She smiled warmly at him once more, before sighing deeply again. "I'm very tired, it's been a long day dealing with you both. I just want to go to sleep now. I'll see you in the morning." She gave him a quick hug before turning, and with that Sally Jackson trotted off to bed. Percy felt so bad. His mother didn't deserve to be spoken to the way his father had done. She'd been nothing but supportive of him, she'd allowed him to try and be a part of his son's life, even if he was really bad at it, and she put up with a lot of his shit. But Percy also knew that his mother was frustrated at him, probably more so. After all, this was mostly all his fault. He should've just called, even if his father hadn't been waiting for him, just so his mother knew he was safe. Maybe if he hadn't been so distracted by Annabeth…

Annabeth. Why could he not stop thinking about her? This wasn't like him at all. Her curly blonde hair, the feel of her body, her strikingly beautiful grey eyes. No, he had to get her out of his mind. He had to kick her out, because he knew he couldn't think straight otherwise. And he only knew one way that he could clear his head. Without a second thought, Percy left the apartment, walked to the flat next door and knocked loudly.

"Hey there stranger." Calypso stuck her head around the door. She was wearing a simple, thin white sundress, and the look on her beautiful pale face was one of slight concern. Percy hadn't come round after midnight for a while.

"Hey. You busy? I've had a long day, could do with kicking back." He had a small grin playing across his moth. Calypso's face lit up, she was clearly delighted, having hardly seen Percy all week.

"Come on in." She let him past her and into the apartment, as always much messier than Percy's identical one. "Dad's out, what a surprise, so it's just us."

"I know, he was just giving me a hard time in the park" Percy joked back. Turning to face him, Calypso was met with the familiar feel of his lips crashing against hers. He picked her up by the waist, holding her petite frame easily as she stifled a giggle. They made their way to Calypso's bedroom, their lips never parting. Percy knew that he'd have to explain some of his reasoning behind this visit afterwards, but for now, he was lost in the moment, trying to push the grey-eyed blonde girl invading his thoughts out of his mind. He heard Calypso stifle a moan as they fell onto her bed, before ripping each other's clothes off. Percy needed this, badly.

It must've been two in the morning by now, but the city still buzzed with life outside of Calypso's window. The bright beams from cars, windows and storefronts cut through the blinds, the only source of light in the room. Calypso and Percy lay next to each other, still breathing heavily and coated in sweat. They'd been laying there for a few minutes before Calypso spoke.

"You wanna talk about it?" She was close to a whisper, but Percy could hear every word so distinctly; his mind always felt so clear when he lay in this room.

"It's the people there. They're just confusing" he replied. The grimace in his voice was obvious, as much as he tried to hide it. She knew he was talking about his new classmates, and smiled supportively.

"Like I said, they live a different life. Don't start comparing yourself to them."

"I've never met so many privileged people. It's like they live in some kind of sit-com and just expect everything to go their way." He laughed dryly as he remembered how desperate Luke was to get him to come to the party earlier. Football practice earlier didn't even feel like the same day anymore. He certainly appreciated the efforts the gang had gone to to include him, but it had been very overwhelming, and Luke had definitely started to get ideas that the two of them were somehow extra close. He'd starting asking Percy very candid questions as the night went on, about gang fights, drugs, even Calypso (that was a topic he had shut down instantly). As the party went on, Luke couldn't comprehend that Percy wasn't going along with them all on their drug-fueled bender, and it was only at the insistence of Beckendorf that Luke eventually dropped the subject. Sure, he was intoxicated up to his teeth (he certainly hadn't been that up front during school time), but it was still a bit weird for Percy. He hated bragging about himself, and certainly didn't want to be doing any hardcore drugs around them all. If only Luke knew wat Percy had done with his girlfriend; then he might not think they were so close.

"They don't live in the real world, they're the ones that are different, not you." Calypso's support was helping. It always reassured him to hear her be his voice of reason; perhaps that was why he still found himself coming round as much as he did.

"I know, but I still have to deal with them" he muttered back. Calypso stared at him for a few moments before grinning, as if she had just worked something out.

"Let me guess, girl trouble?" She asked, eyebrow raised. Percy laughed under his breath. She always knew how to read people. It was like some magic trick she could pull off; more often than not Calypso could guess exactly what was on someone's mind at any given time. Percy had gotten used to it by now, but it still impressed him.

"Yeah, but it's seriously not anything big enough to talk about." That was his code for her, he needed time to think on it first. She just kept smiling at him, rubbing his arm lightly, affectionately.

"Okay, well just remember, don't let these airhead heiresses take you for a ride. Use them if you have to, but don't let them fuck with you. They aren't worth it." He smiled back at her, and she leaned over him to grab a half-smoked joint from her bedside table. They both relaxed a bit more as they sparked up, and Percy digested her words. He knew she had a point, that he shouldn't let anybody make him overthink. For some reason though he just didn't want to talk about Annabeth with Calypso. It would make it all seem really real, and although he and Calypso weren't in any kind of official relationship, it still didn't sit quite right with him right now. He needed time to process it all. Before today, she'd just been a curiosity. One kiss later, and he couldn't stop his mind going back to her every chance it got.

"What did my dad say to you earlier?" Calypso's question broke him out of his thoughts as she passed him the joint.

"Just the usual shit, he was tryna fuck with me, push my buttons, y'know." She gave him a sympathetic glance as he inhaled. Knowing how much her father hated him, Calypso had always appreciated Percy enduring it all and remaining friends with her. Most boys wouldn't risk their necks for any girl after one conversation with Atlas, but Percy was loyal, too loyal for his own good sometimes.

"At least you've seen him today," Calypso mumbled, and Percy heard the disdain in her voice.

"Has he been giving you a hard time?" he asked, always concerned for her safety. Atlas, unlike Poseidon, could get abusive, and Percy had spent many a night comforting his neighbour, helping her wash cuts and cover bruises. Yeah, Percy knew every detail of the Atlas' family drama. He treated Atlas with contempt, perhaps foolishly, because in his mind the man deserved nothing better from him.

"Not for a few weeks now. He mostly just ignores me, when he's even home. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather not see him, but it doesn't mean it can't get lonely in here during the day." She sounded wounded, like she was only scratching the surface of her problems.

"Do you get out of the apartment much?" Percy asked.

"Yeah, enough," she muttered back, and Percy knew by her tone what she was really saying back to him. Drop it. She was staring at a spot in the corner of her ceiling, ignoring Percy and mindlessly inhaling what was left of the joint, which was Calypso code for 'don't want to talk about it'. Well, she hadn't bombarded him with questions about Annabeth, so he would have to return the favour. Calypso knew that if she ever really needed to get something off her chest, she could talk to him, and vice-versa.

"Well if it's any consolation, your dad isn't the only father who's a piece of shit." He rubbed her shoulder comfortingly, making her turn back to him and smile a bit.

"Yeah, I heard he was back today." Talk got around Olympus quicker than it did at Goode, and the return of the boss always got people chatting. "I heard you guys too. It wasn't the worst argument I've heard through the walls if that's any consolation" she laughed.

"I kept him waiting, I'll admit that, but he's just such a bastard. He treats me like dogshit, never lets me explain myself without dismissing me, talks to my mom like crap. I don't even know why he's moved me to a new school, he just up and does it and expects me to go along with it, no complaints. And when I am finally in the room to talk to him about it, he has to leave, because of course he has plans at one in the fucking morning! He finally tries to be involved with my life, and he's even worse at it than he was at ignoring me." Calypso let him rant. She'd heard it all before, but Percy appreciated the outlet she gave him. He never felt that he could speak this candidly to his guy friends. His frustration had been boiling up all night. The last half hour with Calypso had gone a long way to helping him, but he felt better for vocalising it. He didn't know if it was all about his father, about the party with the Goode lot, or a combination of them both, but he hadn't noticed his stress building up until just then, when it bubbled over. He suddenly realised how tired he was; he'd had a very long day.

"He's a piece of shit, always has been," Calypso spoke reassuringly, "if he doesn't realise how good he's got it, having a son like you, well then that's his loss." She smiled warmly, and it comforted Percy a bit more. There was no easy answer to either of their problems, but it always helped to get stuff off their chests (in more ways than one). Percy stifled a big yawn, a wave of tiredness becoming harder and harder to fight off.

"I should get back to mine" he said, and Calypso nodded, already reaching back over her bedside table to grab her rolling kit. Percy swung his legs back over the side of his bed and grabbed his boxers. He got up and began putting the rest of his clothes back on, fumbling around in the dim light for wherever they had been discarded. Eventually he found them all and was fully clothed, standing at the bedroom door. Calypso had finished rolling and sparked up again.

"Thanks for listening to my bullshit" he said.

"Right back at ya," she replied, and Percy could make out her grin in the semi-darkness, "you know I've always got time for you." Her sincerity cheered him up slightly, always reiterating that this friendship was valuable to him, that it was about more than just sex (although that was certainly fun).

"Right back at ya…" he replied, flashing her one final smile. With that he opened the door and left, closing it behind him. He walked through Calypso's messy place, out into the cool September night and made the short trip back into his own abode. His tiredness was so much that he couldn't even remember walking through his apartment. He just crashed down on his bed and closed his eyes, drifting away quickly. One week at Goode was officially over.

Percy awoke in the comfort of his own bed. In his sleep, his mind had been clear, no annoying dreams about blonde hair and grey eyes, not that he was ever great at remembering his dream anyway. It was like Annabeth Chase had been completely erased from his mind for eight hours. But now he was awake, she was suddenly all he could think about again. His little escapade with Calypso hadn't cleared her from his mind quite like he'd hoped it would. It concerned him, because Percy wasn't the best guy when it came to feelings. He tended to keep them bottled up until they went away, and they usually did in the end. Maybe that would be the case with Annabeth. Despite that, Percy knew he'd have to face her eventually, and while part of him just wanted to avoid it, another part, a much deeper part, wanted to see her again, to talk to her, to kiss her.

Snap out of it, he thought to himself. The clock by his bed told Percy the time was 11:26. Hey, it was Saturday, he was allowed a lie in. But he couldn't lie in bed much longer, avoiding his problems. By midday, Percy was showered and dressed, and standing in the kitchen, pouring himself cereal. Sally Jackson was working the weekend shift on this particular Saturday, but she had left a note for Percy on the kitchen table.

Your father wants to speak to you today, he told me to tell you to find him. Mom.

Great, more time with Poseidon. He probably wanted to have the conversation they were meant to have had yesterday, y'know, before he stormed out in a furious rage. Well, Percy didn't really want to keep him waiting for a second time in as many days. He finished his bowl and walked to the door, grabbing his jacket before leaving the apartment, locking the door behind him.

The walk to the farthest block of flats, where Poseidon lived, was not long, and Percy was there within minutes. There was a surprising lack of people around today, so there had been no reason to stop and chat. As he reached the door of his father's apartment, he nodded his greeting to Festus, the giant, silent man who always stood outside Poseidon's apartment, kind of like a bodyguard, before knocking.

"It's open." He heard the muffled yell from inside, his father's voice, before he entered.

Percy walked in to the familiar room, and saw his father, and four other guys, sitting around a table, playing what appeared to be poker. From the looks of the scattered bottles and cans and empty plates of takeaway, they looked like they'd been at it for hours. This must've been Poseidon's late night appointment – can't miss poker night with the boys for one measly conversation with his son.

Percy knew two of his father's friends by name, and the other two he recognised. There was Atlas, looking as imposing as ever, even sitting down, and to Poseidon's left sat Gabe Ugliano. Gabe, a man who had somehow gained the unfortunate nickname Smelly Gabe, was a short, pudgy, bald asshole of a guy, who just so happened to be one of Poseidon's oldest associates. From what rumours Percy had heard, Gabe was a pretty effective gangster, and it was one of the only reasons Poseidon still tolerated him around the estate. He wore a stained brown shirt and beach shorts, and from the looks of it, was winning a fair amount of money. Percy had never liked him. He used to live next door, the other side to Calypso, but always gave him and his mom so much shit. He was obnoxious, rude and bothered them night and day, and finally, Poseidon forced him to move to a different block. The whole situation left Percy and his mom in Gabe's bad books, but there was little he could do about that.

"Percy? What are you doing here?" His father looked up from his hand at his son with confusion in his eyes.

"You… uh, mom said you wanted to talk to me?" Percy was getting slightly nervous; he didn't like that everyone in the room was staring at him. They all had cold demeanors; any room with his father and his goons in it had an air of hostility. He saw a look of disdain in Gabe's eyes, as he looked up from his hand too. The room stunk of smoke and booze, and the closer Percy looked, the more it looked like none of the guys had gone to sleep at all. An all-night poker game must've been what Poseidon and Atlas were on their way to last night. Some fathers, choosing poker over their own children.

"No, I told her that I wanted to talk to you after three o'clock" he said, rubbing his face with frustration. "Did she not tell you that?"

"No, she was at work, just left a note that said you wanted to talk to me," he said, defending his mother. "I didn't want to keep you waiting," he added, seeing a small smirk appear on Atlas's face. Gabe was also sniggering, and the thought of both men laughing at Percy behind his back enraged him. Poseidon got up out of his seat and walked over to his son, until they were face to face. To Percy's surprise, he didn't look angry at all; he was being quite passive.

"Okay, go back to your place, I'll come round as soon as I can. I want to talk to you about the school" he said, in a lower voice, so the others wouldn't hear. Percy wasn't complaining, he wanted to get out of this room as quickly as possible. Just as he was about to walk out of the door, he heard Gabe shout from behind his dad, and it made Percy's blood boil.

"Tell your fuckin' stupid mother to remember the time next time. You interrupted our game." He sounded very drunk, but Percy wasn't about to stand by while this fat piece of shit talked bad about his mom. Percy turned slowly, and went to launch himself at Gabe.

"What did you fuckin' say?" he shouted, and no doubt he would've made some contact if Poseidon hadn't held him back with one hand.

"Calm down Percy!" Poseidon shouted as he easily pushed Percy back. Percy was red in the face, partly from rage, partly from embarrassment. He'd lost his cool and been manhandled by his father. All of Poseidon's friends were laughing at him. Gabe had the biggest grin on his face.

"Ooh, I'm so scared Jackson," he taunted, "is Percy Jackson gonna hurt me?" He was slurring some of his words, and Percy could tell the alcohol had made him more confident. Talking to your boss' son like this was risky anyway, let alone if your boss was Poseidon.

"Gabe," Poseidon warned, "stop it."

"What? It ain't my fault his mother's such an idiot. If she had any brains, she wouldn't be working in a fucking candy store everyday," he laughed, looking at the others, expecting them to laugh too. They, however, were all looking at Poseidon, waiting for his reaction. He seemed to not have one, and that made Percy angry again.

"Hey," Percy snapped at his father, "are you gonna let him talk like that?" Poseidon had his eyes fixed on his son, before he talked.

"Percy, I'll talk to you later." It was clear he wanted Percy to leave, for whatever reason. Just as Percy was about to reluctantly oblige, Gabe shouted one more thing, and it made the room freeze.

"Yeah, run back to your fucking whore mother." He was grinning to himself, his eyes focused solely on his poker hand. You could hear the sound of everyone simultaneously holding their breath, although it appeared as though Gabe barely registered the change in atmosphere. Percy wanted to kill him, to run at him and beat the shit out of him, but before he could, his father reacted. But not in the way anyone expected.

"Gabe, how well do you know me?" he asked, no sign of malice in his voice whatsoever.

"What the fuck?" Now it was Gabe's turn to look bemused. Smelly Fucking Gabe. "Pretty well I guess, why?"

"Can you tell me what I love most in the world?" It was a simple question, but something about the way Poseidon talked was beginning to sound off, as if he were being too polite.

"Uh, money? Power? Control? All three of those are pretty good bets" Gabe answered, laughing slightly. Poseidon just laughed under his breath, as if there was some private joke only he knew.

"All right, you three," he pointed to the other people around the table, "I want you to fold." He was talking about the game of poker they'd been playing. The others hesitantly looked at each other, before Poseidon repeated himself.

"Fold!" he said, louder. It wasn't a request; it was an order. There was a trace of danger in Poseidon's voice now. Quickly, the other three laid down their cards and sat back. Gabe was looking slightly worried now. Poseidon walked around the table, mirroring the movements of a lion hunting its prey.

"Gabe, show me your cards." Poseidon talked almost so quietly that you couldn't hear him. Gabe looked at him in shock, as if he'd just been slapped in the face. Percy wished he'd just get slapped in the face, but a part of him knew something worse was coming.

"What? Show you my cards? No, why would I fucking do that?" It was a fair argument; after all the whole point of poker was to not let anyone know what hand you had.

"Because I told you to. Now do it." Gabe stared at him for a minute, unsure of how to react. Percy imagined his dilemma. On the one hand, you could potentially lose the hand, and with it lots of money, but on the other hand, refusing to do so would put you in the bad books of your boss, who happened to be prone to serious anger management issues. It looked like Gabe went with the former decision, as he slowly, reluctantly flipped his cards over. Poseidon stared at him.

"Ah, looks like you've got a King high, not very good. Planning on bluffing were you?" Gabe wasn't looking as Poseidon spoke, he seemed much more interested in his shoes. Poseidon, on the other hand, looked ecstatic.

"Well, you see Gabe, I have a pair of sevens, also not amazing, but better than yours. Now, I'm going to tell you what's going to happen. You're going to go all in, and I'm going to take your money, understood?" Gabe's eyes shot up, and he stood up, eying up Poseidon.

"Are you fucking crazy? I got almost ten grand, and you want me to lose on purpose?" Gabe looked angry now, "Listen to me, you-" Poseidon angrily cut him off.

"No Gabe, you listen to me," he yelled, practically pushing Gabe back down into his seat with his voice alone, "you're going to go all in, because I fuckin' said so! Now fuckin' do it!" Percy was pretty sure that Gabe had begun to shake, probably in fear. He was also pretty sure he hadn't seen his dad this angry in years, and it was not something he felt like he should be present for, but he also couldn't leave, especially if it involved pain for Gabe.

Gabe nodded, and slowly pushed all of his chips into the middle of the table. The tension in the air was so thick, that you'd need more than just one knife to cut through it; you'd need the whole kitchen drawer. Not one of the other men in the room, Atlas included, had moved a muscle, but their eyes darted from Poseidon to Gabe like a tennis match, an extremely one sided tennis match. No one dared even breathe loudly. Once Gabe's chips were in the center, Poseidon pushed all of his chips into the middle too.

"Now Gabriel, my friend," Poseidon was feigning politeness, "show me what hand you have." Gabe dropped the cards onto the table, everyone of course already knowing what they were. "King high, ah well, better luck next time." Poseidon said mockingly, as he showed his pair of sevens. He collected the chips in the middle. From what Percy could tell, Gabe wasn't kidding; it was around ten grand. No wonder the ugly gangster looked miserable. But if he thought his humiliation was over, he was very much mistaken.

"Gabe, you named what you thought were the three things I love most in the world, and you are right, I do love all those things. Money, power and control. I just showed you that I have all three. I have money, thanks to you, around ten thousand dollars extra now. I proved that I have power over you, because you did exactly what I said, and I also had complete control of the whole situation. You see Gabe, money, power and control. But you left off one thing, the one thing I love more than anything else. Well, technically it's two things. My sons, Percy and Tyson." Percy stopped breathing for a second. Did his father just say he loved him? Had he heard him right? Percy couldn't recall his father ever saying that to him before. Well, he hadn't actually said it to him, he'd said it to Gabe, but he'd still said it nonetheless. Poseidon continued, not even glancing at Percy.

"I love my two sons more than anything else, and you insulted my eldest son's mother. Regardless of my relationship with her, she will always have a place in my heart, because she gave me my first son." Gabe had gone as white as a sheet of paper by this point. It looked like he wanted to defend himself, but knew he should probably keep his mouth shut. "You've always had a problem with her, and I don't like to get too involved in other people's lives, so I tried to let you sort it out yourselves. I had to move you, and I hoped that would be the end of it."

"But Gabe," Poseidon stepped closer to the quivering, pathetic excuse for a gangster, "when you called her stupid, an idiot, a fucking whore, you didn't just piss off my son, you finally pissed me off. You insulted the woman who brought my son into the world, who raised him. I can't let that go unpunished." By now, he was towering over the shorter man, who was standing and breathing rather heavily.

"Boss, please…" Gabe began, but Poseidon held up a hand, silencing him.

"Gabe, I'm sorry, but you should've known better. I'd say I don't wanna do this, but that wouldn't strictly be true now would it?" He smirked slightly. Everyone in the room, including Percy, knew what was coming next. Then, in one swift movement that took all of half a second, Poseidon's fist connected with Gabe's cheek. The short man stumbled, half falling from his chair. As he again turned his head, he was met with another fist.

Before anyone could even move, Gabe was on the floor, Poseidon above him, delivering a torrent of punches to the head of the smaller man. Percy began to move forward, but saw Atlas hold up a hand, his face completely serious. The other men had still not moved at all. Poseidon was shouting at this point, but not words. It was just a primal yell, the sound of every punch seemingly echoing through the room. Thud. Thud. Thud. Poseidon was punching his body now, Gabe's face looking nearly unrecognisable from cuts and blood. Poseidon pulled at Gabe's shirt, lifting him into a sitting position, before grabbing a beer bottle from the table and smashing it over the bloodied man's head. His father stood up, and looked directly at Percy. He could see the blood on his father's knuckles and rings. The only sounds in the room were Gabe's moans and Poseidon's panting.

"You three, drag him into the other room. We're not done." He looked at them. Atlas immediately got up and dragged the groaning Gabe through the door at the far end of the room, with the other two men following. Percy almost didn't want to think about what further punishment Gabe would receive.

Poseidon walked up to him, blood still on his hands, and looked at Percy sympathetically.

"I'm sorry… Percy, that you had to see that" he said awkwardly. He never usually had to explain his acts of violence.

"It's alright… dad." Percy replied, just as awkwardly. He rarely called Poseidon dad.

"So I'll talk to you later, about school." Poseidon stated

"Yeah, I'll see you later I guess." His father patted him lightly on the shoulder, just like he'd done yesterday, before Percy turned around to walk out.

"Oh, and Percy?" Poseidon added, "Don't tell your mother about this, okay?"

"Sure thing" Percy replied, quietly. He could understand his father not wanting his mother finding out about this: Gabe's insults, his beat down of the aforementioned Gabe and particularly Percy seeing it all.

He left his father's apartment and stood outside the door for a minute. He said goodbye to the large bodyguard and began to walk down the stairs. One thought running through his mind.

'My father said he loves me. He actually said it."

It was a big deal to Percy. It was like the situation with the thugs in the alley. As violent as it was, it was actually proof that Poseidon was capable of love, in his own weird way. Percy briefly wondered if Tyson, his half brother, ever worried about things like this. Either way, today had taken a strange turn, but one that Percy welcomed.

'My dad said he loves me."

Chapter 10

Chapter Text


As she sat in Luke's garden, alone, Annabeth thought back to the night's events. She had kissed Percy Jackson. She wanted to crack a smile at that memory, but honestly she was too deep in her own thoughts to bother. She had kissed Percy Jackson. Those words kept running through her head, she had kissed Percy Jackson, always followed by the same question. Why? That was a question she had no reply to, she couldn't think of the right answer. Every excuse she seemed to come up with seemed wrong. She assumed that deep down she did know why, and just wasn't being honest with herself, something she did a lot, but then, she worried that even that wasn't true. She was beginning to wonder why she did or said anything anymore, and it was worrying.

She had always been so confident. Even when her mother was pressuring her, she had always fulfilled what was wanted of her, and had done so with such efficiency and confidence that there was no comparison in the school. She had been top, Annabeth Chase, popular and intelligent. So what was wrong? Lately, she had been so out of character, so unlike herself that it worried her. No one else noticed, she was great at hiding things from regular people, but she knew. It had been ever since Percy Jackson waltzed into her life; however, it couldn't be him, could it? He had barely spoken to her before tonight. Perhaps it was the years of expectation her mother placed upon her finally crashing down. Every year, Athena appeared to intensify the pressure on her young daughter. Maybe it was all finally getting to Annabeth. Of course, there was always the possibility that she was plain crazy. Honestly, Annabeth had no idea about anything for certain. There was only one thing she was one hundred percent sure of, she had kissed Percy Jackson.

Silena knew. She recognized the look on Silena's face, and for the rest of the party, up until everyone left, Silena had been giving Annabeth knowing glances. No doubt Annabeth could expect the Spanish Inquisition some time in the near future, but she didn't mind too much. Silena wasn't much of a threat, and there was no real worry on Annabeth's part that she'd found out. Silena knew pretty much every secret involving people in the school; she simply adored gossip. Therefore, her having dirt on someone wasn't new, Annabeth was just thankful that they were so close, knowing her best friend wouldn't tell anyone except Thalia, and Thalia wouldn't tell anyone either. Besides, it was better Silena and Thalia knew than Luke. She was in Luke, her boyfriend's, house and had kissed someone else. He would have been furious if he'd found out, although then again, he was so out of it on drugs and alcohol that maybe he wouldn't have even processed it. But Annabeth knew that that was wishful thinking.

Speaking of Luke, he was inside the house, probably taking extra long in the bathroom, and everyone else had gone home about 20 minutes ago, except for Percy, who left a good hour before everyone else. The time was around half twelve, and Annabeth found herself in Luke's enormous garden, thinking about her kiss with another boy. Funny that. It had been a good kiss though. No, that wasn't the right way to describe it. It was a fantastic kiss. It made Annabeth's heart skip a beat, stop completely and go at one hundred miles an hour all at once. It was the type of kiss she and Luke had never shared. And that just made her feelings towards Percy more confusing. Did she like him like that? Was there some deep connection between them? All the signs seemed to say yes, yet Annabeth wanted to scream no. She didn't want to have 'feelings' for anyone, because that would mean facing them, and Annabeth didn't face feelings well. That was the whole reason she went out with Luke, she had no feelings for him, and he helped her become more popular, it was perfect.

But being with Percy had felt so good. She couldn't help it. There was a part of her that wanted to experience that feeling again, that's why she had not told him that it wouldn't happen again.

'I don't know.'

That was what she'd said, and she truly meant it. This was all so confusing, and despite how much she knew it was very likely a bad idea, she wasn't ready to close that door completely. But now she was doubting herself. What if Percy expected it to happen again? What if he thought she wanted to be with him?

"But you do want to be with him."

That stupid voice was back, chattering away in the back of her mind, telling her what she didn't want to admit. No. I don't want to be with him, Annabeth told herself, attempting to silence that voice, yet to no avail.

"You can't get rid of me Annabeth."

It seemed to mock her. Stop it, she thought, just leave me alone. No doubt she would've carried on this silent argument in her head had Luke not walked through the large French doors, looking very exhausted. He slumped down in the chair next to her, and reached out his hand for Annabeth to take. She did, and they simply sat there for a minute, holding hands, saying nothing. Annabeth was actually quite uncomfortable, it felt like Luke was gripping her hand slightly too tightly. That was strange; she never felt like that when Luke held her hand before. No doubt it had something to do with her messed up head and Percy Jackson.

"You have fun tonight?" Luke asked, turning his head slightly to look at his girlfriend.

"Yeah, I guess." She replied, looking away from him. She didn't particularly want to talk to him; she'd enjoyed the silence.

"You were pretty quiet, that's all. Something up?" he rubbed her hand slightly, trying to be comforting, but Annabeth just wanted him to let go. It was strange, she suddenly didn't want attention from him, and wasn't making eye contact with him. Was this guilt? Luke was just trying to be the comforting boyfriend, yet all his attempts were simply frustrating Annabeth.

"No, nothing's up." She assured him, turning to face him with a semi-forced smile. "I'm just tired I guess. Long week." That answer seemed to satisfy Luke. He leaned back into his chair, closing his eyes. They sat in silence for another minute. Annabeth knew she'd have to leave soon, and was just waiting for the right moment.

"Percy's awesome, isn't he?" Luke's statement caught Annabeth completely off guard; Percy had been on her mind so much lately that it was a bit of a shock to her when anyone brought him up in actual conversation.

"Um, yeah, I guess." Annabeth replied, trying to sound like she didn't care about him and wasn't completely nervous. The last thing she wanted was her boyfriend thinking anything strange or out of the ordinary was going on between the two of them.

"Well, I'm just thinking," Luke began, "he joined a week ago from Yancy, and when I heard that I thought we'd have a tough kid who hated all of us for being rich and started fights, you know? I expected him to be really confrontational. But he's actually a great guy. He gets on with everyone, the group love him. He is tough, don't get me wrong, but it's not like he'd hurt any of us. We're all friends now. Plus the way he rolls…" Annabeth stopped listening to what Luke was saying, it was mostly along the lines of Percy being awesome at football and rolling joints and tough and just all around amazing, but Annabeth wasn't such an idiot. She knew Luke was deluded if he thought Percy considered any of them friends. Maybe Beckendorf, and perhaps she herself was slightly more than an acquaintance, but there was no way that Percy thought more of any of the rest of them after only a week of knowing them. But if Luke wanted to believe that Percy was Mr. Fantastic then Annabeth would let him. Right now, Percy was the last topic she wanted to be talking about to anyone, let alone her boyfriend.

Once Luke had finished his speech on the amazing qualities of Percy Jackson, Annabeth knew that it was time to leave. Just as she stood up, Luke reached out and grabbed her arm.

"Hey, where are you going?" he asked, sounding surprised that she was considering leaving at all.

"Luke, it's nearly one, I want to sleep tonight." She didn't even bother hiding the frustration in her voice. She wanted to be in the comfort of her own bed.

"But don't you want to, y'know, stay the night?" he inquired, standing up to face her. The look in his eye suggested that he'd been expecting this all night, for her to leave tomorrow morning. Maybe a few months ago she would've gladly spent the night, but right now, she could think of nothing she wanted less.

"No, I'd rather sleep in my bed tonight." The insulted and hurt look on Luke's face didn't escape her notice; she just chose to ignore it. If he was going to be a baby about this then that was fine, but Annabeth would definitely be waking up in her own bed tomorrow morning.

Just as she was about to turn, Luke spun her back around and pressed his lips to hers. It lingered for a few seconds, and although it was in no way different to any of their previous kisses, this one felt off. It was probably a result of her kiss with Percy. That had lit a fire inside of her that Luke could never match, and while right now she didn't want to be with Percy, she also didn't want to be with Luke. She broke the kiss when she felt Luke's hands creeping lower down her back, beginning to slide into her jeans.

"What?" he exclaimed exasperatedly. "What's gotten into you?" Annabeth tried to push all the frustration she felt to the back of her mind. Faking her way through the next few seconds would be easy.

"Baby, I'm just tired." She told him, wrapping her arms around his neck, giving him innocent puppy dog eyes. "We can try and meet up at the weekend, alright?" Luke nodded slowly, mesmerized by Annabeth's eyes and sudden affection. Luke was almost too easy to manipulate at times. She gave him a quick peck on the lips before making her way to his front door. Luke had slumped back down into his garden chair, and it wouldn't surprise her if he fell asleep right there. By now, she was sober enough to drive. Without looking back at Luke's house, Annabeth got into her Porsche and sped out of the driveway, towards her house.

The sun broke through the crack in the curtain, delicately illuminating the room, not blaring sunlight, but enough to be able to see, and under a messy pile of duvets and blankets, Annabeth Chase slept. She always slept in on weekends; enjoying the small comfort it brought her. While asleep, real problems couldn't affect her. There was no pressure to be perfect while asleep, she didn't have to be anyone except her. She could dream, and whether they were normal or strange or even scary, they were an entertaining break from life. As the hours passed, Annabeth began to stir. Unless there was an event on or an emergency, Frederick and Athena Chase never woke their daughter up within the hours of Saturday of Sunday, perhaps small compensation for working her so hard. Then again, they often weren't home to do so. 'Work never rests' was a favourite quote of Athena's.

The noises from downstairs were what eventually made Annabeth arise from her slumber. It sounded like Bobby and Matthew doing something, and their dad was trying to control them. Annabeth sat up in bed and stretched, yawning as she did. She swung her legs out of the bed and trudged to the bathroom, ready to enjoy her favourite time of the day, the shower. Thinking no one to be upstairs, you can imagine Annabeth's surprise when the bathroom door opened and out came her mother, Athena, wrapped in a towel.

"Mom, I thought you were at work?" Annabeth asked in surprise. There was very rarely a day when Athena wasn't in at her office. On Saturday, like any other day, she was usually out of the house before seven in the morning. She stared at her daughter, as if wondering who the hell she was. That hurt Annabeth. She knew that it was just how her mother was, but it hurt nonetheless.

"Well, I decided to stay home today. It isn't that busy at the office, Malcolm can handle it. It's good to see you up." She said curtly, examining Annabeth up and down. Her face never broke from its indifferent look. Quickly, she turned and walked towards the staircase, up to her room. Annabeth was left stunned for a moment; racking her brains for the last time she'd seen her mother on a Saturday morning. And she'd been so cold, almost uncaring. It was as if she was judging Annabeth even now. With a sigh, Annabeth made her way into the bathroom, towards the steamy shower and the relaxation it would bring her, wondering if there would ever be a moment where she didn't feel like a stranger around her own mother.

Pulling the designer t-shirt over her head, Annabeth contemplated what she would do this weekend. She had no homework at all, just two days to relax. But she had to do something, because not doing so meant that her mind would wander, and when it did that, it eventually found the same destination every time. Mom, pressure, insecurity, Percy. She had to do something to dull the nagging voices in her head. She knew that Silena and Thalia would probably contact her mid afternoon; it was a common Saturday occurrence, but she had to fill the void of time between now and then. Family time really didn't sound appealing, so Annabeth made the decision to work her way through the pile of Books-To-Read. Eyeing her magnificent bookshelf, she moved past the large collection of books she had read to the unread ones. She reached for the first one she saw, We Were Liars, and pulled it from its place on her shelf. She had purchased it in the airport on the way to Italy, but never got round to reading it. Well that would change.

In Annabeth's eyes, nothing could ever beat a book. Books were your best friends, there to cheer you up when you were down. They could make you cry and weep and ache, but you'd love them all the same for doing so, because you know that their intention is never to hurt you, they only want to bring you joy and intelligence. When you are alone, or if you are abandoned, books will stand by your side. They don't keep secrets from you; they aren't deceitful. They are honest with you, literally like an open book. Annabeth had countless famous quotes about how important books were in her head that she lost track of who said what. Examining the blurb of We Were Liars, she read the first two lines.

We are beautiful and privileged

We are cracked and broken

Sounds familiar, Annabeth thought, realizing that description could perfectly match her at times. Deciding this was the one; she sat down on her bed and began.

Annabeth was up to page 76 when her mother entered her room, not bothering with the courtesy of knocking.

"Annabeth, I want to talk to you about school." She said, so matter-of-factly it was as if Annabeth not only had no choice, the whole universe was expecting this conversation to happen. The tone of her voice oozed with a sense of entitlement, a 'what I say goes' attitude. Annabeth placed a bookmark in her book; she had just been getting really into it, and locked eyes with her mother. Nothing could annoy her more than when someone interrupted her reading.

"What particular aspect of school would you like to talk about?" she replied, her voice laced with much more sarcasm than she intended. Her mother never changed her glare; that same indifferent look from earlier.

"Change that tone young lady." She snapped. "I want to talk about the new school year with you. In particular your approach towards it."

Annabeth was taken back a bit. She hadn't expected her day to turn out like this at all. Had she really gone from reading a brilliant book in bed, to speaking about school with her strident mother? Was now really the best time?

"My approach? My approach?" Annabeth repeated herself, as if to check she'd heard properly.

"Yes Annabeth, your approach." Athena sounded frustrated now. "I do not believe that your attitude towards your education and future recently, particularly since the New Year, has been satisfactory. You go to parties and spend time with your friends when you should be studying. That is unacceptable"

This is unbelievable, Annabeth thought. Her attitude? Unacceptable? Her attitude? Out of everyone in the school, no one worked harder than Annabeth. She persisted when others saw no reason, she never got an answer wrong, she always made sure her schoolwork was finished, on time and beyond satisfactory. All that, because her mother told her to do so, because for so long, Athena Chase had made it seem like Annabeth had no other option.

'A Chase doesn't quit.'

'A Chase always finished top.'

'A Chase is second to none.'

Years upon years of being told by her mother to work long and work hard, to work until she couldn't anymore. Work because mother said so, because what mother says, happens, because 'A Chase never stops working.' Years of these sayings, of these lessons and messages, and now what? The very woman who made her act this way was telling Annabeth she was not satisfactory, that she was unacceptable.

"Are you actually serious?" the words escaped Annabeth's mouth before she could stop them. She instantly regretted them, but knew she meant it too.

"I beg your pardon?" Athena sounded offended and angry, as if someone had dared to question her for once.

"All I mean is that I work so hard already, that I just get a bit annoyed when you say I'm not working at all. That's all." Annabeth refused to make eye contact anymore, fearing whatever look may be in her mothers eyes.

"Well I have some news for you Annabeth, you do not work hard enough. I know about all your 'activities' with your friends, the nights you stay over with Thalia or Silena, the days you spend with Luke, or whatever his name was. Those are moments you are wasting. I mean look at you right now. Reading yes, but it's not a proper book is it, you won't learn anything from it, it won't help you in any way."

A rage was burning inside Annabeth, but she knew that it had to be reeled in, fast. She decided to let the jab at her book go, her mother didn't value young adult literature, or consider it proper literature, and that wasn't an argument Annabeth wanted to get into again.

"Mother," Annabeth spoke very calmly, and quite slowly, "I'm simply trying to have a social life. I want to have fun. I like my friends, I like my boyfriend." At that last part, she nearly faltered; seeing as it wasn't strictly true, but she wouldn't let her emotions about her love life get in her way right now.

"Annabeth, your social life, your friends, your boyfriend? None of them will help you get into Harvard or Yale, none of them will help you in the architecture business." Annabeth wanted to scream so loudly.

"STOP CONTROLLING MY LIFE!" her mental voice yelled, echoing throughout her head.

For as long as Annabeth could remember, Athena told her daughter that she would be an architect. That she would follow in her mother's footsteps; that she would go to a top university. But now, as she got older, Annabeth was beginning to think that she didn't want what her mother wanted for her. It wasn't that she didn't like architecture, it was still an interest, but Annabeth wanted to decide her own future. She wanted to actually be in charge, instead of just acting like she was, which she did throughout the school year. She'd felt like this for a while, but actually voicing this to her mother was a different story. They clearly didn't have the best relationship, and as much as her mother bothered her at times, Annabeth didn't want to completely break their relationship, and she was sure that saying she didn't want to follow a career in architecture would come dangerously close to doing that. But she'd have to bring it up at some point, wouldn't she? She couldn't just tiptoe around it forever, particularly in her final year of school.

"Did you ever consider that…" she had to say it, but she paused, dammit Annabeth, she thought, spit it out you coward. "Have you ever thought that… maybe I don't want any of that?" Annabeth spoke nervously, quite quietly. Her heart was racing. Her mother would surely kill her for even thinking like that. If the people in school could see her now, they'd be too shocked to move. The confident, assured and at times arrogant Annabeth Chase muttering her replies to someone, afraid of their reaction and desperate for their approval. Usually it was the other way round.

"Nonsense." Athena replied so quickly Annabeth almost missed it. She was so to-the-point. Her mother had brushed off her little attempt at gaining independence like it was nothing, and that infuriated Annabeth no end. Just as she was about to retort, defend herself, her mother continued talking, still in that same tone of voice that said 'what I say goes' she used so often.

"You will work harder than before this year Annabeth, you will utilize your full potential, and next year, you will be at an Ivy League school studying Architecture. There are no ifs or buts, nothing else to consider. That has been the plan since you could first walk and talk. How else will you follow in my footsteps? All this means that you won't have any time to mess around this year. That means less partying, less time frittered away with your friends. Do I make myself clear?"

Annabeth was left stunned, what an unexpected turn this day had taken. She wanted to scream and shout and tear down her mother's precious sense of entitlement. She wanted to attack her with words, to cut her and wound her with the power of the tongue, and destroy that part of her that felt like she could control her daughter's life. Was this why Athena had stayed home today? It honestly wouldn't have surprised Annabeth one bit.

"But mom-" she began, before being abruptly cut off for what felt like the umpteenth time.

"Do I make myself clear?" Athena repeated, much more slowly.

'Yes…" Annabeth almost didn't recognize the voice that came out of her mouth. She hated how weak and pathetic she sounded right now, but knew that there was no point fighting her mother.

"Good. Remember this conversation. The hard work will pay off eventually, but it starts immediately." And with that statement, Athena Chase exited the room, not sparing her daughter a second glance.

What kind of mother do I have? Annabeth thought. She briefly wondered of Athena was even capable of love, but nipped that thought in the bud. She had to believe her mother still loved her, that in some weird way, all of this, the pressure and expectations, were because her mother loved her. But if she expected Annabeth to stop her life in order to work hard she was wrong. No, she suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to leave the house, even just for a few hours. She wanted to talk to someone. Percy briefly crossed her mind, but she wasn't sure that was the best idea. Also, she had no way of contacting him. Silena and Thalia would have to do. Annabeth stood up, still holding her book, and began to climb out of the window, scribbling a note before she did. She had discovered she could leave the house this way when she was much younger, but it still worked. No doubt Athena would be furious that she left, but honestly, Annabeth wasn't afraid to face the music later. With that thought, she dropped down onto the lawn, and dialed Silena's number.

Annabeth was at Silena's house within 10 minutes. After calling to ask if she could come over, Silena had said yes and called Thalia over too. As Annabeth rung the doorbell, she realized she was shaking. Did her mother's words have that much of an impact on her, or was it simply the autumn chill slowly beginning to creep into the air? When the door opened, and the unbelievably beautiful face of Silena Beauregard appeared, Annabeth lost whatever self control she'd had and threw herself at her best friend, her shaky arms wrapping around her midsection and shoulders. Silena hugged back tightly, not saying a word. Annabeth wasn't crying, just shaking uncontrollably.

"Let's go up to my room." Silena whispered, and Annabeth nodded. In silence, they walked up the stairs, then turned and entered Silena's enormous bedroom.

The wallpaper was pink, the king sized bed had pink and purple sheets. Her window looked over the Japanese style garden. Her large mirror was surrounded with pictures of Silena with Annabeth and Thalia, and of course Beckendorf. There was a desk that was covered with beauty products, and there was definitely a smell of designer perfume in the air. A giant walk in wardrobe was open, with clothes strewn all over the place. Thalia was sitting on the floor, but she stood up immediately when Annabeth walked in, her grinning face turned to concern when she saw her friend's state. Annabeth sat down on Silena's unmade bed, and her two best friends sat down either side.

"Annie, what's the matter." It was Silena's voice, laced with worry. Even they rarely saw this side of Annabeth.

"Why are you holding a book?" Thalia asked. Annabeth looked down and realized she was still gripping her We Were Liars copy. Why had she kept hold of it?

"I don't know…" she muttered, almost too quiet to hear. She placed it onto the bedside table. The shaking had died down now, and she felt an arm wrap around her. Silena. Annabeth leaned into the embrace.

"Seriously, what happened?" Silena asked again. Annabeth knew she had to tell them. She hadn't expected to have her little breakdown, but she knew her best friends deserved the truth.

"I had a huge argument with my mom." She confided. "She told me that I had to work harder this year, because I had not been up to the standards of a Chase the last few years, or something along those lines. Told me no more partying, no more Luke, no more you guys." Annabeth watched their faces as they took in the information. Silena stayed quiet, but Thalia, ever the outspoken one, let her mind be known.

"That's complete fucking bullshit!" Annabeth laughed under her breath. It was a fair point, even if it was worded slightly badly. "Who works harder than you? Not either of us, that's for sure. Is she serious?" There was anger in her voice as she spoke, and Annabeth couldn't help but appreciate how willingly her friend would stand up for her. She did love these two.

"Yeah, but it's not like this is new. She's always wanted you to work hard hasn't she?" Silena spoke up. Both her and Thalia were fairly well informed about the pressure Athena Chase put on her daughter, and neither liked her much for it.

"Well yeah, but it's the fact that she doesn't seem to notice, and constantly expects more of me. She wants to control my entire future." Annabeth said.

"She still wants you to be an architect?" Thalia asked.

"Yeah. I tried to tell her it's not necessarily what I want anymore, but she didn't listen. It was like I hadn't said anything at all." Annabeth remembered how quickly her mother ignored her, and she felt frustration grow again. "I don't know, I guess it just got to me today, that's all." She sighed, and fell back onto the bed. There, she stared at Silena's ceiling, and marveled at how simple it was. Plain white, no pattern what so ever. Why couldn't her life be that simple?

"Annie, you'll be fine." She heard Silena's comforting voice "We'll make sure of it." Suddenly, Silena was lying next to Annabeth, smiling. Soon, Thalia did the same. All three of them started laughing for no apparent reason, and for the second time in the past few minutes, Annabeth had an overwhelming sense of love for these two girls.

Now Silena was a gossip fiend, so Annabeth knew it was only a matter of time before she brought up what she had walked in on yesterday, and as if on cue…

"So Annie, did you enjoy yourself yesterday?" Silena's question was innocent enough, but was laced with a suggestive tone that made it obvious what she was referring to, Annabeth and Percy.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that…" she replied, trying not to give anything away.

"It sure seemed that way." Silena said, grinning wide.

"Wait, what are you two talking about?" Thalia interrupted, but Silena ignored her.

"Seriously Annie, did I walk in on what I think I walked in on?" Annabeth nodded tentatively, a small smile across her lips as she remembered the feel of Percy's on hers.

"Seriously, what are you two talking about?" Thalia was trying to get their attention, but it had no effect on Silena.

"Oh My God Annie!" Silena practically screamed. "What were you thinking?" She would've answered had Thalia not shouted over them.

"Will one of you please tell me what you are talking about!?" she was sitting up now, a look of annoyance spread across her face.

"Annabeth and Percy kissed last night." Silena said quickly, breaking the silence.

Now that someone had finally said it out loud, it felt like a load taken off of Annabeth's shoulders. All three girls sat in silence on Silena's bed for a minute.

"Did you really?" Thalia finally broke the silence.

"Yeah, I kissed Percy." Annabeth was saying that as much for herself as she was for her friends. Confirming, out loud, that she had kissed Percy Jackson.

"Why?" Thalia had just asked the million dollar question, the one Annabeth had asked herself constantly, yet still had no solid reply to.

"Do you like him?" Silena butted in, curiosity spread across her face. She was like a child on Christmas day.

"Yeah, I guess." She said, but then decided to open up, to be honest with her friends. "I feel like he and I have a connection, one that Luke and I just don't. I can't explain it, but he just seems to have this effect on me. Yesterday, I just had the sudden urge to kiss him, so I did. I don't regret it." Now that she had finally said that out loud, to other humans, and not just the crazy voices in her head, she felt better, more confident in her feelings. This was the Annabeth she enjoyed being.

"So do you want to, like, be with him?" Thalia asked, and that made Annabeth think long and hard. Did she? She had a good thing going with Luke, but it was nothing serious, and it hadn't made her feel the way kissing Percy had. Annabeth knew the honest answer. She had avoided it for as long as possible, never truly admitting it. But in the week he'd been in her life, Percy had made a bigger impact than Annabeth had ever thought anyone could make. She suddenly thought back to her first thoughts about the boy, how he intrigued her, and how she felt like he could add excitement to her dull life. That was still what she wanted, and she knew it.

"Yeah, I think I do."

She wanted to be with Percy Jackson.

Chapter 11

Chapter Text


6:30 AM. The sound of the alarm clock echoes throughout the room, filling every corner with its high pitched ringing. However, the ringing doesn't last for long, as a hand slams down on top of the clock with such force you'd think the clock would break. A sleepy Percy Jackson sits up from his bed, stretching, yawning and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Most teenagers crave the extra five minutes they get in bed, live for it, because to them those are the last five minutes of comfort they will get for 24 hours. This is not how Percy Jackson feels. Most weekdays, he gets up as soon as he can, choosing not to stay in bed. It's not really his thing; he prefers to be up and active. That's not to say he doesn't indulge himself from time to time, but it's not often. Before he even considers leaving his room, he drops to the floor, to complete his daily exercises.

This is Percy's daily routine. Every morning, the same steps, over and over, for years. There are even handprints on the same spot on the carpet where Percy does his press ups, 50 of them in total every day. He uses the time to clear his head, instead focusing on the strength in his lean body, and the counting. While he is on the ground, there is nothing in his head except numbers.

Twenty six… twenty seven… twenty eight…

No problems or worries, no Poseidon, no Goode, no Annabeth; just the numbers, and maintaining his breathing.

Thirty eight… thirty nine… forty…

It was calming, yet also necessary. If you weren't tough on the Olympus Estate, you weren't going to have the best of times. Percy was strong, much stronger than he looked. That had been evident when he'd played football the previous week. On more than one occasion someone underestimated Percy, and ended up on the floor, completely outmuscled.

Forty eight… forty nine… fifty...

Done with the press-ups, onto the sit-ups, all part of the routine. When Percy had first begun this little pre day work out, it had practically drained him, but now it was all second nature. There were times when he would work on other parts of his body, arms, legs, back. But he did this every day, even weekends. Hell, he wouldn't leave his room on Christmas morning until he'd worked out. If he didn't spend that 10 minutes in the morning, his whole day felt strange, off kilter.

When he was finally done with the sit-ups, Percy stood up, and made his way to the bathroom. He could hear commotion in the kitchen, no doubt his mother making some kind of lunch for herself. She had no idea what had happened over the weekend, how Poseidon had made a punching bag out of Gabe in front of Percy's eyes. As his father requested, Percy hadn't told his mother about it, but that moment had been on his mind for the rest of the weekend. He could still see Gabe, bruised and bloodied, sprawled across the floor and gasping for air. Percy could still see the spots of blood appearing on the carpet, and he could hear Gabe's cries and Poseidon's shouts. He remembered every word his father had said to Gabe building up to it, and he remembered he tension in the room. But most of all, he remembered the look on his father's face, a look of loathing, as if Gabe's words offended him personally. That was Percy's favourite thing about it all. Forget the fact that he should be disturbed by what his father had done, violence was no surprise to Percy anymore. The fact that his father had, even for a second, shown love for his son was the one thing Percy couldn't stop thinking about. He had often wondered if his father actually loved him, and moments like that made him think he did.

Once he was washed and ready for the day, Percy walked out of his apartment, saying goodbye to his mother as he did. With his bag slung over his shoulder, he walked to the gate of the Olympus Estate, where a certain short, gloomy boy was waiting for him. Nico Di Angelo.

"Perce, I wanna talk to you!" he called out, stepping closer. Percy took a second to take in Nico's appearance. He had on scruffy jeans and an old, black top. His hair was long and scraggly, as usual, and he himself was as pale and pasty as ever. There was however one distinct change. He had a huge black eye, and it looked pretty fresh.

"Shit, what the hell happened?" Percy replied, not bothering to hide the surprise in his voice. A look of frustration briefly passed over Nico's face, but it disappeared just as quickly as he broke into a smile at the sight of his cousin.

"This? Nothing. Little fight, that's all." Nico was careful to avoid Percy's eyes, which upset Percy slightly. It was obvious Nico was not telling him something, and it made Percy miss the times when they'd been thick as thieves. Since the summer, that had deteriorated.

"Well if we're gonna talk, can we walk and do it, can't be late." Percy asked.

"Man, don't tell me you're worried about being late? What have they done to you?" Nico looked, and sounded, genuinely worried. Percy wasn't sure how to reply. It was true, at Yancy, he had one of the worst punctuality records, but back then he'd had friends who were late with him. He didn't really have that at Goode, so he never felt inclined to be rebellious.

"Can we walk or not?" Percy responded, trying not to sound impatient. Nico nodded, and the made their way down the street.

"So what did you want to talk about?" Percy asked. There was no point engaging in small talk.

"Well it's actually about the whole new school thing. I'm worried that you'll change too much" Nico said, which took Percy aback a bit. Nico didn't seem like the type of person who really thought about this a lot.

"What d'you mean?" Percy was genuinely curious. Nico just concentrated on the sidewalk, not looking up at all.

"Well we haven't hung out all week, and I'm worried you'll change without even realizing it. I don't want us to not talk to each other, or for you to make new friends. I mean, look at Beckendorf, he completely forgot us." Nico spoke with nervousness, but also passion. It was evident he meant every word. There had been very few times when Nico had opened up to Percy, and none over the last three or so years. That was just how he was.

"You don't have to worry about that. There aren't a lot of people there I get on with anyway." Percy felt a slight amount of guilt at that, seeing as it wasn't strictly true. He did actually get on with some people in the group, even if they weren't classed as friends.

"I just don't want you to drift away from the rest of us, that's all. You're family." Nico still wouldn't look up. This was probably new territory for him, opening up.

"Don't worry about it, I still live in the same area, like the same things, I just have a different school now." Percy felt an air of awkwardness creeping over them. He was almost thankful that he had to get to Goode quickly, which was also a feeling he didn't like much, seeing as he did still love Nico.

They walked until they reached Goode, talking about nothing really important. It was definitely less awkward. But now they both stood in the shadow of the huge, modern, expensive school.

"So this is the shithole is it?" Nico pointed out sarcastically, earning a foul look from a passing girl, causing him to snicker.

"Look at them all Perce. Can you believe you actually go to school with these fuckers?" Nico was definitely speaking louder than normal. He probably wanted a fight. Suddenly, a familiar voice called out from behind them.

"Percy, over here." Percy turned his head to see Luke waving him over. Now was not the best time for this. Nico turned too, with a look of both annoyance and enjoyment, as if these new kids were his entertainment for the day.

"Are you not gonna go over to your new friends?" he said mockingly.

Percy was in a very awkward situation. He knew Nico meeting the entire group was probably not the best idea, meeting anyone really. Yet he couldn't leave Nico for them could he? That would just be him doing exactly what Nico feared he would. He was now standing in one spot like cheese at fourpence, until he felt Nico tap his shoulder, and begin walking towards the group.

"C'mon Percy," that mocking tone still present in his voice, "introduce me to your friends." Percy sighed and reluctantly led the way, through the expensive cars to the spot where Luke and the guys were standing. Everyone was there, except for Annabeth and Thalia.

"Hey Percy, who's this?" Luke asked, as everyone turned their gaze to the short kid with the black eye they'd never seen before, looks of caution on their faces. Even at a glance Nico looked dangerous. There was no way this could go well.

"This is Nico, my cousin…" Percy said, slightly awkwardly. He turned to face Nico, but saw his cousin's eyes transfixed on one person, Beckendorf. Of course, Nico hadn't liked the idea that Beckendorf was a rich kid now, no doubt feeling betrayed. Suddenly, Percy just wanted to get Nico out of here. Nico could be volatile at the best of times, but if he was angry, and it was for a personal reason, he was a ticking time bomb. Percy half expected him to forgive Beckendorf as soon as they were face to face, as Grover had said, but something told him that that was wishful thinking.

The whole group was suddenly aware of the small staring contest going on. Beckendorf had looked quite happy, but that expression faded when he saw the look of malice in Nico's eyes.

"Nico…" Percy muttered under his breath, as a warning. That one word was all he needed to say. He knew Nico was ready to flip out, and Nico knew he knew, but the group didn't. They were, however, suddenly aware that something was wrong, that this boy was angry.

"Nico," Percy leaned in and whispered, loud enough for only his cousin to hear, "maybe you should go." He didn't want Nico thinking he was rejecting him, but he also didn't want him starting a fight five minutes before school.

Nico nodded slowly, and began to turn around. It probably would've been nothing, if Beckendorf had not foolishly chosen to speak up.

"Nico, it's good to see you." He called out. Nico stopped in his tracks, before turning around as fast as lightning and charging for the larger boy. Nico's fist made contact with Beckendorf's cheek, despite at least half a foot of height difference. Suddenly, there was chaos. All the boys surged forward, suddenly intent on hurting Nico. Beckendorf was attempting to hit back, but Nico was too fast. Silena screamed, some of the other girls ran forward to help and all the while, Nico was shouting "Ten years?! Ten fucking years and it's good to see me?!" in between punches. It wasn't actually all that different from the incident with Poseidon and Gabe. Percy was frozen for a moment, stunned by the sudden turn of events. However, when he saw Jason's fist connect with Nico's ribs, he jumped into action.

Without so much as a second thought, he sprinted towards the heart of it all, and smashed his fist into Jason's abdomen, hard. Then he punched him on the nose, before turning to hit one of Stoll brothers. Despite the obvious number difference, Percy and Nico seemed to be winning; after all, they were the only two with real fighting experience. After about 30 more seconds, Percy saw an opportunity and dragged Nico back, kicking and screaming, out of the circle and towards the school gate. He was still much stronger than his cousin. When they were a safe distance away, he stopped, and he and Nico turned to face the gang. Percy saw Beckendorf holding parts of his body, clearly in pain and already badly bruising. Jason looked horrible, with possibly a broken nose, but other than that, everyone else just looked a bit scruffy. They all, of course, had shocked looks on their faces. A crowd had gathered round them, and about thirty people were watching the events unfold. Luke stepped forward, and spoke up.

"What the fuck are you doing Percy? What just happened?" he looked offended, angry and bitter. Percy honestly had no reply. Backing up Nico in a fight was second nature to him by now; instincts had just kicked in. Nico chose to speak up, though not in reply to Luke. He looked directly at Beckendorf and practically yelled,

"You say that after ten years?! You didn't try to keep in touch once! Not once! You're lucky I don't fuck up your disloyal ass more. Fuck you!" A silence followed his words; only the traffic in the background could be heard. Nico turned and walked out of the gate. Suddenly all eyes were on Percy. He had just practically attacked his so-called friends, and they would no doubt want answers. This kind of ruined their whole dynamic. He knew he had to say something, but he had no idea what. His fist still ached, and he was also slightly out of breath, but he thought about Nico's reasoning behind it all. Beckendorf had made no attempts to contact them for ten years! He had the means, but he chose not to.

"You should've tried Beckendorf," he finally muttered, "even a lousy phone call." As if on cue, the bell for the start of school went. On with the day eh?

It was definitely one of the more awkward school days in Percy's life. In all of his lessons, people were throwing glances his way, whispering, gesturing. For the most part, Percy ignored them, but he still couldn't help the annoyance that rose up in him after a while. Suddenly, he was right back to being the new kid, the outsider. Not that it bothered him too much; after all, they'd attacked Nico. Percy was defending family, something he was sure any one of them would do too. When Jason and Luke walked into Chemistry class, Percy wasn't oblivious to the spiteful looks they sent his way. Chemistry was just before lunch, and Percy was honestly not sure what he would do this lunchtime. He couldn't exactly walk over to them and act as if nothing had happened, and he sure as hell wasn't apologizing. Percy really wasn't paying attention to anything Mr. White was saying, until he heard his name called out.

"Percy Jackson?" the bald man standing at the front of the class called out. Quickly, Percy snapped out of his daydreaming state and raised his hand.

"At the back, sir" he replied.

"The Principal wants to see you" he said, before carrying on explaining covalent bonds.

It was certainly not the first time Percy had heard those words uttered, not by a long shot, but something about this time was different. This time, Percy knew he could be in real trouble. After all, what could Mr. D want other than to talk about the fight? He remembered Mr. D's warning to him on the first day about his behaviour. Percy thought he could keep out of trouble longer than a week, but evidently not. Everyone stared at him as he left the class, Mr. White still drabbling on.

The corridor was completely empty as Percy made his way down it. Every door was closed, lessons midway through. When he finally reached the Principal's office, he knocked on the door, and waited for a response. He was actually nervous at school, for the first time in years, and what was probably a few seconds felt like minutes, before he heard Mr. D call him in. Slowly, he opened the door, and saw Mr. D sitting behind his desk, looking incredibly bored, and Beckendorf opposite him, bruised faced and miserable looking.

"Ah Percy, good." Mr. D looked up, and gestured to a seat next to Beckendorf. "Please take a seat." Percy slowly stepped into the office, and sat opposite the fat Principal. He was trying to look like he didn't care, but he wasn't sure he was doing so well.

"So Percy, you aren't stupid, you know why you're here right?" He never broke eye contact with Percy. Mr. D was definitely a different type of Principal to the one from Yancy. He didn't sugar coat anything, and he honestly seemed pretty tired of the whole 'teaching' thing.

"The fight this morning?" Percy replied quietly.

"Clever, not indicating you had anything to do with it, I like it" Mr. D exclaimed, although Percy wasn't quite sure he understood. He remembered being told, by this man, that he may be the most interesting student he'd had for a while, and also that Mr. D knew his father somehow, making a note to himself to ask his dad next time he could about that. He was also aware that Beckendorf was right next to him, yet he hadn't moved at all since Percy entered, staring aggressively at a single spot on the wall.

"But in all seriousness, the fight is an issue." He paused, and looked at Beckendorf, before speaking to him.

"Charles, you can go back to class now, I want to speak with Percy" he said, quickly and to the point.

"But Mr. D-" Beckendorf began.

"Charles! Back to class now!" Mr. D said, this time much louder. He didn't shout, but it was clear there was nothing to debate. Beckendorf reluctantly stood up and left, still not looking at Percy at all. With force, he slammed the door as he stormed out.

"Charles will calm down eventually" he told Percy, not that Percy was wondering. "Now I've heard quite a bit about this fight. Jason and Luke gave me their take, some other people have given me details, and Charles told me what happened." He paused, looking for a reaction from Percy. After there wasn't one, he continued.

"Jason and Luke made it out as if this boy, Nico was it, ran at Charles for no reason, threatening to kill him. They then claim you joined in, and they got involved when you pulled out a knife to try and stab Charles with." Percy took that in, suddenly worried that Mr. D would search Percy. He did indeed have his knife on him, like any other day, and knew he could get expelled for that. Mr. D carried on talking.

"Charles, however, gave me what I believe to be a much fairer account of what happened. He said that the boy, your cousin, ran at him, but the others got involved first, before you. Then, you dragged your cousin away." Percy was surprised Beckendorf had been so honest, he expected him to lie like the others.

"Now Percy, I won't ask you for your account, because I actually don't care about what happened. This is all a major inconvenience for me. Now I personally don't believe that you, as Jason put it, 'pulled out a knife and swung it around like a madman'. That seems slightly too dramatic for you. However, you were involved, I'm sure of that." He sighed, and leaned back in his chair. Percy was suddenly very unsure of his fate. Before, he had been thinking he would be expelled, but now he wasn't sure what would happen.

"Look, this fight happened outside of school hours, and not in the school building, but I'm still expected to do something. You won't be expelled, don't worry, but you will have detention, every day after school, for this week-"

"What?! How is that fair?" Percy called out, very suddenly, almost instinctively. He wanted to keep quiet, but he just couldn't, not after hearing that.

"Calm down, the others received the same punishment. They won't be in the same detention as you. I'm not that stupid. Fighting is against school rules, for obvious reasons, so you will serve these detentions, and say nothing about it. Now go back to class." He gestured to the door, and Percy stood up. The more he thought about it, the better he felt. He could've gotten a much worse punishment than five detentions; after all, he was pretty sure Jason had a broken nose. Just before he walked out of the door, Percy heard Mr. D talk.

"The detention is in Dr. Thorn's classroom. Be thankful it's not with Mrs. Dodds. Or, perhaps you'd rather have her than Thorn." Mr. D chuckled to himself. "And Percy," he called out finally, looking directly into Percy's sea green eyes, "try not to get in anymore fights, okay? Put's a damper on my mood for the day." Percy nodded, and left the room without another word.

After a pretty boring lunch in which he had sat on his own on a bench, followed by two more boring lessons, Percy was glad for the end of the day. Or at least he would've been had he not had the detention in Dr. Thorn's room. One more hour, he told himself, as he made his way to his Psychology classroom. He entered the class to find the impossibly intimidating Dr. Thorn sitting at his desk.

"Percy? What do you want?" he asked, irritated.

"I, uh, have a detention… in this room?" He was nervous for the second time that day. This time however, he wasn't as insecure about it. Dr. Thorn was genuinely terrifying.

"Shit." Percy was surprised to hear his teacher swear. "Well I have to be somewhere, but you have to stay. Quite a dilemma isn't it Percy?" He stood up and walked over to Percy. They were around the same height, but Dr. Thorn was a lot skinnier. His heterochromatic eyes had a manic gleam to them, intelligent, but also unbelievably aggressive.

"Percy, can I trust you to stay in this classroom for one hour, and not touch anything? Can I?" His smooth voice seemed to echo in the room, but there was an edge to it, one that could send shivers down a spine.

"Yes sir." Percy replied.

"Good, because you know how I'll feel if you lie to me." He stepped back to his desk, picked up his briefcase and walked to the door. "Sit down Percy, and when this clock says four thirty, you can go. Understood?" Percy nodded. "Good, I like you Percy, don't change that." And then he walked out, the classroom door slamming shut behind him, and Percy was left alone, in a small classroom. With nothing better to do, he sat down and waited.

Nearly twenty minutes had passed, and Percy felt like blowing his brains out. He kept asking himself why he didn't just leave. He definitely would've a week ago. But Dr. Thorn seemed like the kind of guy who would find out, track him down and hurt him in the worst possible way. Also, he'd said he liked Percy, and he didn't want to give him a reason to change his mind. He gazed up at the clock. 3:48. Groaning internally, he dropped his head down to the desk. Another five minutes passed, when Percy heard someone walk into the room. He lifted his head up, and his sea green eyes were met with a pair of striking grey, a pair that was very familiar. Annabeth.

The blonde haired girl walked into the classroom, looking around, before her eyes met Percy's. Honestly, she looked lost, as if she were looking for someone. Their eye contact lasted a few seconds, before she looked away. What on earth was she doing in here?

"I'm uh, looking for Luke…" she said nervously. "I was told detention was in this room?" She stepped into the room slightly.

"Yeah, my detention's in this room, he's somewhere else" Percy replied.

"Where?" Annabeth responded.

"I don't know; why would I know?" Percy practically snapped at her. He didn't mean to sound bitter or angry, but he did.

This, however, did not cause Annabeth to leave. In fact, she stepped further into the classroom.

"You're sitting at my desk you know?" she said with a smile. As Percy looked around, he realized that he was in fact in Annabeth's class seat.

"Sorry about that" he said with a laugh. Suddenly, memories of their kiss came flooding back to him; this was the first they'd spoken since. He was pretty sure those feelings would be coming back to him soon. Then, Percy stood up and faced Annabeth, who was now only a few feet away, leaning on another desk. Percy did the same.

"You can sit there now if you want" he said, a playful tone to his voice. Annabeth smiled and looked down, before lifting her gaze back up to his eyes. Percy wasn't sure that Annabeth's eyes would ever not amaze him.

"Why did you kiss me?" she asked suddenly. It completely changed the mood in the room. Percy was suddenly very aware of the silence, and its increasing awkwardness. "I'd just like to know" she added. Percy wasn't entirely sure how to act. Should he tell her it meant nothing, even though he was pretty sure that was a lie, or should he tell her about his strange feelings.

"You kissed me first." he settled for, like an idiot. She knew that. Why was he nervous? Percy Jackson didn't get nervous with girls. Annabeth, however, just laughed.

"That's true, I suppose." She smiled. "I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you. I'm not going to make up an excuse. I wanted to." A small smile spread across Percy's face at her words, because honestly he had been thinking the same thing, he just didn't want to say it. "And you know what, I liked it too. And I really would like it to happen again." He looked up and saw that she was closer to him now. He moved forward, closing the distance. They were so close they could hear each other breathe. Then, without a second thought, their lips met, and it was as incredible as the first time, yet completely different. This one wasn't as passionate, or as fuelled by instinct. This was slow, gentle, and literally only lasted two seconds, before Percy pulled away.

"Annabeth, you have a boyfriend." he said, reminding her. It seemed as though she had forgotten.

"Thanks for pointing out the obvious." She chuckled, before she wrapped her arms around his neck. Percy however, wouldn't be swayed that easily.

"I'm serious, don't you care about him?"

"To be completely honest, no. I like Luke, but I don't love him; I just kind of go out with him because it's fun. But there's no feelings, at least on my part."

"So why haven't you dumped him?" Percy asked.

"Because I haven't had a good enough reason. D'you want to be that reason?" she asked playfully, before brushing his lips with her own again.

"Look," he pulled away, "I don't think I need any more reasons for your friends to hate me, not after today."

"Oh yeah, I heard about the little fight" Annabeth said gleefully. "I wish I'd been there." Percy would rather not talk about the fight, so he was thankful Annabeth didn't delve into details.

"Percy, let me say this. Since I first saw you, you've been on my mind. You're different, out of the ordinary. I didn't like my feelings for you, because I don't do feelings. I thought maybe if I kissed you, they'd go away, as if that would ever work. It just made me more sure." She paused, playing with some of Percy's hair. "What I'm trying to say is, I like you, and I think you like me too. I think we should see each other. What do you think?"

Chapter 12

Chapter Text


Autumn was clearly setting in in New York. The trees that lined the streets of Greenwich Village and filled Central Park were beginning to brown and lose their leaves, and from Harlem to Brooklyn, there were the first inklings of winter coats coming out of the wardrobe to be worn out and about. The cold wasn't bitter, and on some days it was still so hot and humid you'd swear it was summer, but it was raining more, and the winds were picking up more often. The large streets of Manhattan became extremely difficult to walk through as they were transformed into powerful wind tunnels. The nightlife was starting a bit earlier every day, and while it was still only mid-September, it would not be long at all before the Christmas decorations hung from the tall buildings, and the giant ball would drop in Times Square, marking a New Year for everyone. The tourist season was over for a few months, until December at least, which meant that the native New Yorkers didn't have to deal with crowds of foreigners on their way to work.

On this particular day, the winds weren't strong and the cold wasn't bitter, far from it actually, but the streets were empty. Not a single New Yorker in sight, apart from a girl with blonde curly hair and striking grey eyes. As Annabeth walked down the sidewalk, she looked around, wandering where on earth everybody was. She questioned her sanity; she knew the reputation the area she was in had, and a young, pretty and unaccompanied girl walking down the streets of such a place was nothing short of a recipe for disaster. Yet Annabeth didn't feel worried or scared. She was confident, self-assured and, to be honest, happy. That feeling only intensified as she turned a street corner and saw the gateway to her destination. The Olympus Estate.

Now all morning, Annabeth hadn't been able to stop thinking about her summer in Italy, and in particular, the relationship she'd had with the local boy, Aldo. She kept playing those events over and over in her head.

The sand of the beach was smooth against Annabeth's skin as she lay down, the bright rays of the sun blocked by her Gucci sunglasses. The sound of the waves softly lapping at the shore would've filled her ears if she did not have her headphones in. As the Green Day song blared from her headphones, she took a minute to appreciate the moment she was in. It was peaceful, the beach was nearly empty and the heat was just wonderful. Annabeth would definitely be going back to America with a tan. Life couldn't get much better than this was all Annabeth could think, as she completely immersed herself in the lyrics. Thalia had gotten her into Green Day a while back, and now they were one of Annabeth's favourite bands.

Annabeth was more relaxed than she had been in months, so you can imagine her frustration when she felt a hand tap on her shoulder. Of course, that momentary anger faded as soon as she saw the handsome face of Aldo Romano. He lived just down the street from Annabeth's Aunt and Uncle, and Annabeth had definitely enjoyed getting to know him over the past week. He was nearly 20 years old, tall, athletic, intelligent, and best of all; language was not an issue, as he spoke brilliant English. There was something about his accent that Annabeth found extremely sexy, and his deep voice to match didn't help her case. It was nothing serious, they just had fun, and she knew that when she went home, she would probably never speak to him again. There was no commitment, which Annabeth was completely fine with.

She pulled out her headphones and turned to face him, a broad smile growing on her face that matched his. Aldo's sharp jawline was covered in neatly shaven stubble, and he had long curly hair that would've framed his face if it were not held back by a headband. He was only wearing his swimming trunks, which meant Annabeth had a great view of his brilliantly chiselled chest, adorned with a shark tooth necklace and some beads. He leaned in close and pecked her on the lips.

"Ciao Annabeth." He said, as he stroked her hair. "How are you?" he asked her.

"I'm good, the weather's to die for." She exclaimed. She always spoke slightly slower around him, just in case he didn't pick up on anything she said.

"Sì, this is a typical Italian summer, and I have a beautiful girl in my arms. I am loving life right now." His accent definitely worked its charm on Annabeth, but it was the words he was saying that really made her like him. Luke never spoke like this to her, never treated her like royalty. Not that she expected him to, but that didn't mean she wouldn't like it. While this was only a holiday romance, she definitely felt something for Aldo, and that was in large part to his smooth words and charming personality.

"Come, let's swim in the sea." Aldo announced, standing up and pulling her up with him. He placed another kiss on her lips before running straight into the Mediterranean Sea. Annabeth had a quick moment where realisation overcame her; she was cheating on Luke, her boyfriend. But another, slightly more worrying thought crossed her mind; she didn't care. With that, she ran after Aldo, and into the endless blue mass in front of her.

That feeling, on that beach, on that day, was the exact same feeling she felt right now. Standing in front of the Olympus Estate, and the temptations that lay inside, almost all in the form of the raven-haired boy Percy Jackson. Annabeth knew that if she walked in, she would be cheating on Luke, but she also didn't care. Percy was exciting, Luke wasn't. Percy was interesting, Luke wasn't. Percy was dangerous, and Luke definitely wasn't.

Of course, Percy was expecting her. How could he have said no to her offer? She had come clean to him about her feelings, and had gotten what she wanted. It wasn't until after Annabeth arrived home that night that she even realised she'd been terrified in that moment. Terrified of rejection, humiliation. She had gone against what she knew, thrown caution to the wind, and now she was 'seeing' Percy Jackson. That was all she could really call it right now. Sure they had kissed a few times, and there was a definite connection between them, one neither of them completely understood, but she couldn't really say they were an item, particularly when Annabeth still had a boyfriend. She hadn't gotten round to dumping Luke yet, she was waiting for the opportune moment. After over a year together, a text message would be plain insulting. Yet still, she wasn't overly bothered about hurting Luke's feelings.

As a few people began to stare at her, Annabeth realised that she had been standing in front of the gate for a good while now. The early autumn chill was not too bad today, but the sky was that ominous colour where you cant be too sure that it won't rain within the next hour or two. Taking a deep breath, Annabeth walked through the estate entrance.

Now Annabeth had often heard rumours about the famed Olympus Estate, usually on the evening news, related to some sort of gang crime, but she had never paid attention to them. To her, it was in the bad part of town; the other side of the tracks, a place Annabeth Chase wouldn't be seen dead in. Of course, at this moment, she wished that she had listened when people brought it up, instead of zoning out, because then she might have some kind of feel for the place she had just so confidently walked into. That confidence had lasted all of ten seconds before the realization set in. Everywhere around her was bricked and grey, and there were groups of people standing in clumps, leaning against walls and railings, some on bikes, some smoking; there was even a kid lifting weights on a bench. One by one, they were turning to look at her. Usually this wouldn't bother Annabeth – she loved turning heads when she went anywhere – but something about this time was different. Unlike at school, she was not safe here. What would she do if one of the people tried to threaten her? Panic suddenly overwhelmed her, and she knew she had to keep it under control. And then she saw him.

Walking out from an alleyway, Percy Jackson looked even better than usual. His hair was the same, his clothes were similar and his sea green eyes still had that glint in them that could drive Annabeth crazy, but right now, Percy looked relaxed. Comfortable. It struck Annabeth that she'd never seen him around his home before, that whenever she'd seen him, it had been in her world. Now, she was in his world, and he was here to be her tour guide. He stopped a few steps in front of her, and smiled that familiar, troublemaker smile.

"Welcome to my humble abode Annabeth Chase." He held his arms out wide as he said this, and it gave Annabeth a great view of his biceps. She laughed despite herself, which made Percy laugh too.

"So how you doing?" he asked, stepping slightly closer to her.

"I'm alright I guess. Never really been to this area of town before." she admitted to him.

"Anyone give you any trouble?" he asked, sounding concerned, but not overly. Annabeth shook her head.

"No, I just feel like everyone's staring at me."

"That's because they are." he replied, chuckling. "You do kinda stand out." She hit him playfully. The two of them stood together in silence for a few seconds, neither knowing what to say.

"So your apartment is near?" Annabeth asked finally, tilting her head towards Percy as she spoke.

"Oh you want to see my apartment?" he replied, the smirk still plastered on his lips. Annabeth just laughed again, before Percy turned and walked away, leaving her slightly shocked.

"Percy," she called, "where are you going?" He turned, his smirking face unchanged, that mischievous glint appearing in his eye.

"Where d'you think?" he called back, "You coming?" and not waiting for a reply, he turned back around and carried on at a brisk pace. Annabeth really couldn't help but smile, as she took off, jogging slightly to catch up with him.

When Percy stopped walking, Annabeth assumed it was so that she could catch up with him, but that was not the case. When she finally reached him, she found him deep in conversation with the largest boy she'd ever seen. It was the same kid who'd been lifting weights on the bench, and they were clearly doing their job. The boy had a Patrick Ewing New York Knicks jersey on, and Annabeth could see the rippling muscles on his arms. This boy was at least six foot six, with a small patch of brown hair and huge brown eyes, and he looked angry. It wouldn't surprise her to find out that he was always scowling, because it certainly looked that way.

"Oh, hey Annabeth," Percy had just noticed her next to him, "this is my brother, Tyson." Brother? Percy had a brother? And this was him? This giant of a boy was Percy's brother? She must've looked very confused, because Percy and Tyson both burst out laughing.

"I didn't know you had a brother." She muttered quietly, once the two had calmed down. It didn't seem that funny to her.

"Well I don't really, Tyson's my half brother. Same dad." That made more sense to Annabeth, because the two boys shared very few qualities.

"Well it's nice to meet you Tyson." Annabeth said, extending her hand. Tyson stared at it for a second before picking up the weights again, leaving Annabeth's hand suspended in the air. She slowly raised it to brush her hair behind her ear, slightly embarrassed. Percy just shook his head, before slapping the large boy on the shoulder.

"I'll see you around big guy" he said, and Tyson just nodded in reply, clearly getting back into his weights. Percy took Annabeth by the arm and led her away, no doubt towards his apartment.

"He seems nice." It was all Annabeth could say about him.

"Don't worry, he liked you. He's not the friendliest guy in the world, but then again not a lot of people around here are" Percy said. "He is, however, a good brother, and very useful to have backing you up, which around here can be priceless." Percy talked as if fights were nothing, and to him they probably weren't.

"Yeah, I guess people see his size and run" Annabeth chuckled.

"He definitely got the height gene," Percy laughed. "But no one around here runs from a fight" he added, slightly too serious. Annabeth now wanted to change the topic.

"So you've lived here all your life?" It was all she could think to ask at this time, and silently she cursed herself for such a mundane question.

"Yeah, born and raised. It's not actually that bad if you get used to it" Percy said, almost defensively. Annabeth just nodded, but Percy persisted. "I'm serious Annabeth. In areas like this, we have community; we get along, there are hardly any secrets. Sure we might seem like thugs, but we stick together-" He stopped abruptly. It sounded as if Percy had meant to say so much more, it felt like he had been a few seconds away from pouring his guts out, but composed himself at the last.

"Percy…" Annabeth began, not quite knowing what to say.

"It's fine," he muttered, walking at an ever so slightly faster pace. Annabeth matched it.

"Look Percy, if you ever want to talk, I like to think I'm an okay listener" she said, turning to smile at him. But he would not meet her eye, instead looking straight ahead.

"Can we change the subject please?" he asked, still not meeting her eye. As if on cue, a shout was heard from a terrace above them.

"Yo Perce! Who's your new friend?" Annabeth looked up to see a short boy with long black hair leaning over a railing. Before she could even blink, he was climbing over and jumping down. It was quite a distance, but the boy made it, seemingly unfazed. Now that they were face to face, Annabeth took in his whole demeanour. Clearly there was a black theme going on, with the scraggly black hair, tank top and trousers. He had eyes that looked empty and hollow, sunken in, but that also had a glint to them, not too dissimilar to the look Annabeth so often recognised in the eyes of Percy. The boy had tight muscles, and his arms were covered in bruises and cuts. Quickly, he pulled out a cigarette from his back pocket and put it between his lips, igniting it with a lighter.

"Annabeth," Percy said, turning to face her, "I don't believe you've had the pleasure of meeting Nico, my cousin." So this was the famous Nico, the kid who'd burned the desk, and more recently the kid who'd kicked the shit out of Beckendorf. Honestly, Annabeth wasn't quite sure what she expected, but it was not this short, angry looking boy.

"You're the kid who beat up Beckendorf?" Annabeth asked. She wasn't angry with him or anything like that, it was just the only question she could think of. Nico was, after all, nearly a foot shorter than their tall, athletic friend. However, as soon as she said that, the mischievous grin disappeared from Nico's face completely, replaced instead by a look of disapproval, anger and disgust. He turned to Percy and, completely ignoring Annabeth's presence, began to berate him.

"What the fuck are you doing with one of those rich kids? Seriously?"

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"No Percy! What the hell is your problem?!"

"Just hold-"

"Were you trying to piss me off?" This went on for a while, Annabeth reduced to standing around like a fool. If she'd known that her presence would annoy Percy's friends this much she never would have set out in the first place.

"Look, Percy, I can go if you want, I mean-" she was cut off.

"No, you're staying" he said, with authority. Annabeth quite liked it; it at least told her he wanted her around. "Nico, she's not like the others, trust me." Percy was practically pleading with the shorter boy, however it seemed as if he was talking to an emotionless brick wall. Nico's eyes darted between the two, and then he shook his head and walked off, around the corner, towards the courtyard where Percy and Annabeth had just seen Tyson.

"Well that went well." Annabeth muttered to herself. She and Percy had simply arranged to hang out, nothing serious, and it already seemed to be causing a lot of unhappiness.

"Yeah, I guess…" Percy almost whispered; he was still looking in the direction Nico had walked off in. Then he span on the spot and gestured forward.

"My apartment is just down this building. Shall we?" Annabeth smiled and nodded, following as Percy led the way.

"We aren't going to run into anymore of your friends are we?" she joked. Percy let out a laugh and looked back at her, smiling.

"I think we've met all the crazy ones." He countered. Oh how wrong he was.

"Home sweet home." Percy announced, as he opened his front door, allowing Annabeth to walk past him. She took a minute to look around, take in the surroundings; after all, she had a feeling they may become very familiar to her in the near future. The apartment was small, very small in comparison to Annabeth's house. In fact, she was pretty sure that her bedroom was the same size as Percy's living room. The kitchen was joined to the room, and there was a long corridor at the end that led to more rooms, no doubt smaller than this one. Percy's home was not a tidy place. There was a pizza box on the coffee table, with four slices left in it. Old newspapers and magazines were piled up, and there was an ashtray with what looked like week old cigarettes in them.

"It's definitely cosy." Annabeth said, and she was not lying. Suddenly, her mind was bombarded with images of her and Percy in this apartment, having takeaway, watching bad TV, kissing on the sofa. Maybe he was thinking the same thing. Hopefully.

"Well this is how the other side live Rich Girl." Percy stated with a laugh, emphasising the last two words.

"Don't call me that Percy." Annabeth replied, half joking half serious. She really didn't want to get into a debate over their economic situation.

"What would you rather I call you then? Clever Clogs? Wise Girl? Undeniably Attractive?" Percy asked, stepping closer to her. She, in turn, stepped closer too, until they were close enough to feel each other's breath.

"That last one wasn't so bad." she uttered, barely audible, just above a whisper.

"Well then," Percy said, leaning so close their lips were almost touching, "Wise Girl it is." He subsequently burst out laughing, as Annabeth smacked his arm. He was being deliberately frustrating, but for some reason Annabeth didn't mind.

"Yeah, well you're… a Seaweed Brain." she fired back, suddenly aware how stupid it sounded.

"Seaweed Brain?" he said, cocking an eyebrow. He was laughing under his breath.

"It was all I could think of okay?" Annabeth smiled, and that made Percy smile too. She was enjoying the intimacy of this moment.

"Seriously though," Percy looked at her, "make yourself comfortable." He gestured to the sofa, while he went into the kitchen. "You want anything to drink?" he called.

"Just water thanks" she replied, before slumping down onto his sofa. It was old, green and had a fair few old food stains on it, but it was incredibly comfortable. Annabeth rearranged the cushions until she was satisfied, by which point Percy had returned. He placed a glass of water on the table, and took a sip of his own beer before putting that down. Then he sat down next to her, so close that their arms were touching. He opened his mouth to speak, but he was cut off by a knock on the door.

"You gonna get that?" Annabeth asked lightly, with a playful, innocent smile. Percy got up and walked the short distance to the door, and opened it.

All of a sudden, a tornado of talking and long hair burst in. It was a girl. The more Annabeth looked at her, the more she realised how beautiful this girl was. Who the hell was she? She had long cinnamon brown hair, and wore a simple white top, with fairly short shorts and no shoes. She was not quite as tall as Annabeth, and her skin was incredibly pale. This did not look like a person who left her home much. Yet still, that did not subtract from her beauty. She looked almost like a very well kept porcelain doll. But none of this answered Annabeth's initial questions. Who was she and why was she here? Now that she looked closely at the situation, she saw just how close the girl was standing to Percy; she was touching his arm and they were speaking quietly. Annabeth listened closely to see if she could catch any of it.

"I need you."

"Now's really not a good time."

"But it's me."

"I can't right now."


"Calypso, not right now."

Annabeth got the feeling that this was a private conversation. She had also worked out that this girl, whoever she was, knew Percy and was probably quite close with him too. The idea that Percy could have a girlfriend had never struck Annabeth as strongly as right now. She was almost positive that she was looking at one of Percy's ex's. That wave of jealousy rose up inside her again, similar to when she saw him kiss Rachel that night at Luke's. She stood up from the sofa and spoke up.

"Uh, Percy, is something wrong?" Her voice was quiet, but they both stopped talking immediately. Percy met her eyes, before looking away, while the girl – Annabeth assumed her name was Calypso – just stared at her, a look of indifference across her face. Suddenly she remembered back to that moment at Luke's house, when Percy had talked of a 'friend with benefits' called Calypso. Now that they were face to face, the jealousy she felt on that night seemed incomparable to what she was feeling right this second.

"No," Calypso said lightly, "nothing that concerns you."

"Excuse me?" Annabeth questioned.

"I said," she said, pausing for emphasis, "this doesn't concern you." Annabeth was left slightly speechless as the girl turned back to Percy. He however, was looking directly at Annabeth. Calypso diverted his attention back to her, but Percy stopped her just before she began talking again.

"No Calypso, I'm busy right now. I'll talk to you later." He said it with such finality, and went to walk past her, but she grabbed his arm, forcing him to turn and face her again.

"What are you doing Percy? Are you seriously choosing this bimbo over me?" she spat. Annabeth instinctively jumped into defence mode.

"Hey! I'm not a bimbo! Who the hell even are you?" she shouted. This girl Calypso, which was a stupid name anyway, thought that she could just stand there and insult Annabeth? If that was the case, she had another thing coming. Annabeth Chase had never been one to back away from an argument.

"Who am I?" Calypso spoke, too innocently for Annabeth's liking. "I'm no one really, just the girl that's been screwing Percy regularly for a good year." Her words increased the tension tenfold. Despite her presumptions, hearing with her own ears that this girl had been romantically involved with Percy hurt her. It hurt her more than she would've liked to admit. Annabeth heard white noise for a second, only broken by her heavy breathing.

"So what, you can't bear the idea that he'd be with someone else so you came to stop it?" Annabeth was suddenly determined to win this argument, as petty as that sounded. She would not make a fool of herself.

"Someone has a feeling of self importance." Calypso quipped. "Tell me, has living in a five bedroom house made you feel that way? Or was it perhaps the designer brands that you buy on one of daddy's ten credit cards? Maybe it was the fact that no one's ever said no to you? Or it's possible that you've created it, to compensate for the fact that your parents don't actually love you." Calypso was not loud like Annabeth, but her words seemed carefully chosen, as if she were trying to poke at every weak bone in Annabeth's body. It was almost creepy.

"You don't know anything about my life!" Annabeth practically screamed at her. This girl didn't have to deal with the crushing expectations of a pushy mother. She didn't have a social reputation that she was forced to maintain under false pretences. "You think because you've lived in a shitty apartment all your life that you're suddenly the queen of everything? That you 'know people'? You're just a cheap skank who would kill to have the socks from my drawer, which, lets face it, are more expensive than your entire wardrobe." Annabeth wanted to wound Calypso with her words, but for a second she felt like she'd gone too far. Calypso pounced.

"So that 'shitty apartment' that makes you better than me? Well Percy's lived in an identical one his entire life. You're literally standing in it right now. Were you talking about him too? Or is it just me?" Annabeth suddenly realised what she'd said. What if she'd offended Percy? She'd run head first into an argument and not thought about what she'd said. Surely Percy would be offended, insulted, hurt. "I'm just wondering, that's all" Calypso continued. "Does he not come under that category of worthless poor people? Or do you like the fact that he's poor, see it as a way to rebel against mommy and daddy? He's just another accessory to you isn't he? He and I have more in common than you and him ever will. Just think about that."

"Calypso! Enough!" Percy had been silent the whole time, almost as if he'd blended into the furniture, become invisible. "You should leave. I'll talk to you later." He spoke deadpan, giving no indications of his emotions. Calypso waited for a minute, swaying very slightly from left to right, before nodding and walking to the door. Just before she left, she blew a kiss to Percy then made eye contact with Annabeth. There was no fear or intimidation in her eyes. Her dark almond eyes had that same mischievous glint that Percy's and Nico's had; it must've been an Olympus Estate thing, only Calypso's was more dangerous. She was so clearly unafraid of Annabeth. She winked at her, before walking out, slamming the door shut behind her.

The silence that engulfed the room was deafening. Annabeth was afraid to even breathe, let alone look at Percy. He must be mad, must be furious. She'd practically called his home, his area and his life worthless. All she'd done all day was prove that she didn't belong in his life. None of his friends or family liked her. Hell, she didn't even feel safe right now. Yet the idea of suddenly not seeing Percy, especially when she had been so close to getting to know him, hurt. It hurt more than she thought it would. What had become of Annabeth Chase?

Percy was the first to move. He turned around and faced her. His face was emotionless, but his eyes told a different story. The beautiful sea green looked distorted. It was impossible for Annabeth to tell what he was feeling. He suddenly walked forward, and when he passed Annabeth, no doubt heading for the kitchen, she spoke up.

"Percy I'm sorry." she said, quickly. It halted Percy, and Annabeth used that as a cue to carry on. "I didn't mean what… what I said, I was… just trying to…" she was babbling now, "I don't know, I guess I wanted to hurt her" she muttered. Percy turned his head, looking straight into Annabeth's eyes. Then he did the last thing she expected. He rushed forward and kissed her. She was so shocked that it took her a good few seconds to react, by which point they were practically on the sofa. As Annabeth kissed back, she found that she couldn't keep up. Percy was moving fast, his kisses hard and harsh, not soft and tender like the first time. Annabeth's mind quickly wandered to a thought: does he kiss Calypso like this? With so much emotion? However, Percy attempting to remove her shirt pulled her out of that thought. Annabeth assisted, and when they were both shirtless, they commenced with the animal instinct again. Annabeth became lost in a world of Percy Jackson.

Chapter 13

Chapter Text


The autumn was changing into winter, with the brown leaves on the New York trees slowly beginning to fall. September dragged on, and before anyone knew it Halloween was only a few days away. The day where it was acceptable for toddlers and teens alike to stuff their faces with candy, dress up in ridiculous attire and have a damn good time doing so.

"Have you ever thought about how fast everything moves?" a female voice echoed in Percy's ears. He turned to look at Annabeth, smiling slightly as if amused by her question.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he asked jokingly. They were sitting on a bench in a small garden area near Annabeth's house, both taking in the chill of the October air.

"I mean," she responded, "it's Halloween in two days, and pretty soon it'll be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, New Year." Percy stifled a laugh.

"Yes, those are all true." He said with a mocking tone.

"I'm serious." Annabeth turned to face him, "Pretty soon school will be over, and I'll be going to college and-"

"Whoa, you're going a bit far into the future there aren't you?" Percy interrupted, surprised by this sudden and strange turn in their conversation.

"Am I?" Annabeth questioned. "It seems like it now, but in another year I'll be saying 'wow, didn't that year go quickly?' when it was absolutely no faster than any other year of my life."

"I don't know, I think next year's a leap year, so it will be longer" Percy joked, which was met with an unenthusiastic sigh.

"Life moves really fast, we can't just sit around and waste it." She muttered quietly.

"Isn't that a Ferris Bueller quote?" Percy replied, still joking. Annabeth just slumped back onto the bench and looked away. "Why the sudden philosophical thinking?" Percy asked. She turned and their eyes met, grey on green.

"I don't know."

Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase had been, for lack of a better phrase, 'dating' for just over a month, and it was a secret as well kept as the Coca Cola formula. Percy's friends knew, but they weren't the issue; it was Annabeth's. Apart from Silena and Thalia, no one at Goode even knew that Annabeth was still acquainted with Percy. She had yet to break up with Luke, which had kind of bothered Percy. He may not be the nicest guy ever, but he didn't deserve to be cheated on. Sure, Luke was an asshole. In fact, since the scuffle with Nico and Beckendorf, he had seemingly gone out of his way to be an asshole. It might surprise you the amount of power one of the most popular kids in school would have, but Luke, Jason and the rest of the group pretty much made sure no one spoke to Percy in school anymore. Truth be told it wasn't really their doing, Percy hadn't had any friends in Goode anyway, so people who had never spoken to him beforehand carried on doing so. To them, Percy was an anomaly; that strange, poor kid who sat at the back of class, and ate lunch behind the school.

Honestly, it didn't particularly bother Percy, if anything it was helping his grades not socialising with people. He didn't care at all what Luke did, but he still didn't feel right about Annabeth cheating on him. He knew, if the tables were turned, just how mad he'd be.

As for why Annabeth hadn't dumped Luke yet, well she had insisted to Percy that she would when the time was right; it was just that the moment hadn't come yet. The only problem was that the longer she waited, the worse it became. Eventually, she would have no choice, and the backlash would be greater than she thought, particularly if it became known she'd been 'having fun' behind her boyfriend's back. And with Percy no less. Luke seemed like the kind who would want to resort to violence in a situation like that, and while Percy was confident he could take on Luke easily, taking on the whole gang weren't odds that favored him.

Since that day at his apartment, when they had hooked up for the first time, neither Percy nor Annabeth had thought to spend any more time at the Olympus Estate. Percy for one had learned a valuable lesson about keeping his Goode life out of Olympus. Not that he had a particularly great life at Goode, but even a mention of it at Olympus would make the conversation awkward. As far as his friends were concerned, Percy went to a magical island between eight and four, and it was never to be brought up. He never, ever thought he would admit it, but he really missed Yancy.

Nico in particular had been more aggressive lately, if that was even possible. It was commonplace for him to have a fresh bruise or two every time Percy saw him, and sometimes a limp. He was getting through cigarette packets faster, and his temper was shorter than ever. A violent altercation had occurred last week as a result of one kid just looking at him. Percy was beginning to dislike hanging out with him. Yet he knew that if worse came to worst, either with the whole Luke situation or otherwise, Nico would still be there to back Percy up. Funny that, Nico could seemingly hate Percy, yet there was never a doubt in Percy's mind that Nico would be there for him.

"D'you ever think about the unwavering trust we have in our loved ones?" Percy spoke aloud, breaking the comfortable silence. Annabeth raised her head and gave him a quizzical look.

"Who's the one being philosophical now?" she joked.

"Well I figured I'd give it a shot" he replied.

"Alright," Annabeth seemed to ponder Percy's question, "I guess it comes from the innate bond be we share with our family. It's instinctive, primal, natural. There's a reason they say blood is thicker than water." She turned to him. "Anyone in particular you're thinking about?"

"Nico." He muttered softly, still thinking about her answer.

"But what's stopping them just leaving? Not being there when we need them most?" Percy retorted. He spoke with urgency, as if this were something that was really bothering him rather than just pondering for pondering's sake. Percy was well aware how out of character he sounded. He usually tried to play things off, act cool; but in his short time spent in Annabeth's company, he felt that he could be more open. Her reply was well thought out.

"Our faith in them. Our bond with them. How we treat them. You can fight with someone, be angry with someone, heck even hate someone; yet still love them. Sometimes we can't understand that, but it doesn't have to make sense, to make sense." Annabeth was silent for a moment, the low rumble of cars in the distance the only noise. Percy was looking at the ground, trying to connect dots in his head. Annabeth spoke well, really well.

"Okay, I'm sure you took that one from a movie" Percy laughed, trying to ease the mood. A small smile crept across her face, as she leaned back. Yet Percy's laugh was forced, and his eyes still gave away his worry.

"Probably," she replied, "it did sound a touch clichéd." A silence crept over the pair, but not an awkward one, a surprisingly relaxed, contented silence. It was a moment of tranquility, neither wrapped up in thought or emotion, instead just sitting, and sharing the peaceful atmosphere. Even the cars in the background had stopped, and their breathing was so hushed, as if the sound of a mere breath would intrude on their moment, that any casual onlooker would believe that in this one moment, around that one bench, for these two people, the gods had stopped time itself. The illusion was shattered when the boy reached across, and took the girl's hand in his own.

"Y'know," Percy spoke up, "'that's when you know you've found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.' Now that is a movie quote." He chuckled softly to himself.

"You a big fan of movies then?" she questioned.

"I've seen a few I guess, why?" They turned to face each other.

"Well first you asked if something was a Ferris Bueller quote, you mentioned movie quotes a few more times. You seem knowledgeable, that's all. I mean, I didn't even know you liked Ferris Bueller" Annabeth explained.

"How would you? I haven't told you. And I don't like Ferris Bueller, I love it" he said, smiling widely. She hit him playfully on his shoulder.

"You know what I mean. We don't know the simplest stuff about each other. I only just found out Ferris Bueller is your favorite movie-"

"Whoa whoa," Percy interrupted her, "that's not my favorite movie. Sure it's great, it's definitely up there, but Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie. That's what the comfortable silence quote is from."

"See, that's exactly my point! If we're gonna be together, shouldn't we know things like this about each other?" she exclaimed.

"If we're gonna be together, shouldn't you break up with Luke?" Percy quickly replied, accompanied by a sly grin. His smart-ass comment earned him a harder smack on the shoulder. "Okay, bad timing."

"I'm serious. What's your favourite colour?" Percy hesitated for a second, somewhat perplexed by the simplicity of the question.

"Blue." He said quickly, "how about you?"

"Brown" she responded. "Favourite food?"

"Cookies. But they've gotta be blue" he said.

This back and forth went on for a little while. They talked about anything and everything, from television shows to holidays. It was times like this that almost felt strange to Percy; he'd never really been able to open up to anyone outside of Calypso. But with Annabeth it was easy, bizarrely easy. Even with Calypso, or Nico, or really anyone at Olympus Estate, he tended to just talk about his problems. Things that made him angry, people he wanted to hurt. This unadorned, straightforward chatting was alien to him, yet he didn't want it to stop. Suddenly he had an overwhelming urge to learn every miniscule, pointless fact about Annabeth Chase, and tell her the same. What the hell was happening? Of course, all good things must come to an end, and the shrill ring of Percy's outdated phone fragmented the conversation they were having. Percy gave a quick look down at the caller ID. Nico. This couldn't be good.

"Hey, what's up?" Percy answered the phone, gesturing for Annabeth to hold on one second.

"Perce, I need you here man. Where the fuck are you? I went by your apartment. You weren't fuckin' there. Where the hell are you?" Nico sounded frantic. There where hints of anger in his voice, and he was speaking fast, very fast.

"Hold on, slow down." Percy said, leaning forward slightly on the bench. He was aware of the look Annabeth was giving him, but he made sure his voice gave away nothing. Deep down, he was slightly panicked. Nico never called unless it was serious. "What's going on?" he inquired.

"I'm not telling you over the phone man, just fuckin' get here! Where the fuck are you anyway?" Nico didn't slow down at all, his frantic tone still present.

"I'm out." Percy didn't care to elaborate, he knew Nico would just be angrier of he found out he'd been with Annabeth.

"Suit yourself. Just get here, now!" he practically shouted it down the phone, before hanging up.

Percy's feeling of worry remained. Nico sounded like he needed him. He had to go. There it was again, that unwavering loyalty to his cousin.

"Who was that?" Annabeth's voice penetrated his thoughts, and he turned to face her.

"No one." He said quickly, trying to mask his worried look, but he knew Annabeth was too clever to fall for any lie he could possibly make up. "It was Nico. I gotta go find him" he confessed.

"Right now?" She looked disappointed.

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I guess I'll see you in school." Before he stood up, he pulled Annabeth close by her neck and kissed her. It was short, but tender, and there was a tiny smile on her face when he pulled away. He returned it before walking out of the little park. At first he was walking at a brisk pace, but quickly that turned into a speedy jog. The sky was starting to become dark, as Percy made his way back into the asphalt jungle of the city, towards the Olympus Estate.

Upon arrival at Olympus, the sky was dark and the streetlights illuminated the sidewalk with their yellowy gold tinge. Percy jogged through the main gate, recognising a few of the faces around, but not stopping to chat. He needed to find Nico as soon as possible. On the way here, he'd been going over all the possible situations Nico would define as an emergency. Percy's money was on it involving a fight. Nico probably bit off more than he could chew, pissed off another local gang, something like that. There was however a chance that this was a serious problem. The sooner he found Nico, the sooner the suspense would be over.

With pace, he made his way to the area in which Nico and the guys usually hung out, only to find they weren't there. What had Nico said before he'd hung up; something about trying his apartment? They might still be there. Percy walked along the small terrace like row of apartments. Nico had to be there. When he turned the corner, onto the row his was on, he saw a large crowd. He instantly knew it was his friends.

"Hey guys!" Percy called. They all turned around, and in an instant rushed towards him. Percy was bombarded with questions.

"Where the fuck were you?"

"What you been doing?"

"Did you hear about Matt?"

It was all so sudden. Percy looked at them, and he realized he'd barely seen his friends over the past few weeks. Grover looked as scruffy as ever, he had grown his hair out and his goatee was longer. The Rasta hat he usually wore was in his hands, being thrown from hand to hand nervously. Will was still the tall and handsome one. Leo was dressed as he always was, in a pair of stained, baggy shorts, despite the fact that winter was around the corner, and Tyson still looked mean and dangerous, as per usual. Nico however, did not look good. He looked so unlike anyone about to turn seventeen it was ridiculous. There were two fat, fresh bruises on his face, one was a black eye, the other on his lip. Percy glanced down at his fists and noticed cuts and bruises there too. Nico looked like a hardened prison inmate. The scowl on his face did nothing to make him appear seemlier, or pleasant in any way at all really. Still as pale as Banquo's ghost, he looked the embodiment of death itself.

"Guys, chill, I was out and now I'm here. Now can someone please tell me what the fuck is going on?" His words made them take a step back. "Nico, you don't call unless it's important, what's happened?"

Leo stepped forward, a half grin on his face. In his hands he held a lighter, and kept flicking the flame on and off. Nico was still clearly too vexed to form coherent sentences.

"Okay, so you know Matt Sloan?" Leo began, as Percy nodded. Matt Sloan was a typical Yancy High School kid, rough, tough and ready to fight. He lived nearby, and it was fair to say he and Percy, and particularly he and Nico, had never gotten along. If he was involved, it probably wasn't a good thing. Leo continued.

"Well basically, he's been running his mouth about you, joking to all his friends about how you ran away, think you're better than us all now on account of you going to Goode, shit like that." Leo glanced warily at Nico before continuing. No one else seemed to want to talk, least of all Nico. "Anyway, Nico ain't been in school much to hear this shit, but he went in today, and he did hear it. He told Matt to shut the fuck up, didn't you Nico? Matt started getting all tough. 'What you gonna do about it little man?' 'Can't hear you from down there'. 'You gonna hit puberty any time soon?' Asshole actually fuckin said all that. Nico jumped the prick before anyone could react. You know Nico, tough as a bag of nails. Punches flying, all that shit. Matt's guys jump in, try to save his ass, Nico beats on them too. By this point there's a massive fuckin crowd, we all try to pull Nico back, it's chaos. Matt's guys backed down, but word is he's getting all buddies from his area together. Gonna try to jump us all." So Percy was right, it was a fight. Still, he didn't feel any sense of victory.

"That's why I called!" Nico exclaimed loudly, interrupting Leo. "We fuckin' need you here man. I need you here. You're no use to anyone when you're running off with that rich girl." Percy had never seen Nico this mad when talking to him, yet he felt it wasn't really towards him. Nico just seemed angry in general. "Now look, Perce, if we stay in the estate they won't come near us, and word through the grapevine is he's got ten plus guys, but I don't want to wait. I want to catch this fucker out, tonight. They're expecting us to wait, so we don't. I want to teach this fucker what happens when he talks shit about Olympians, when he thinks he can scare us. That's why I need you here, we ain't fighting without you."

Percy looked over the group, examining their faces. Tyson had that same, callous stare, Leo an almost excited gleam in his eyes, Will looked quite bored, but still intimidating. Nico of course only looked determined. Grover had the solitary worried look. He really wouldn't be much use in any sort of conflict. Slowly, the realisation that he couldn't get out of this fight dawned across Percy.

"Are you sure that this is the best idea?" he tried to reason with them, but the others were having none of it.

"Are you shittin' me? Not long ago you'd have agreed in a heart beat." Nico spoke in near disgust. "What's that school done to you?"

"I'm not saying I won't fight," he reassured them, "I'm just wondering if it's really necessary?" Nico stepped close, put his hand on Percy's shoulder.

"Look, forget Sloan and those assholes, forget Beckendorf and those rich jerks. Us, right here, we're you're family. We stick together. I bleed for you; you bleed for me. Don't forget that man." He never broke eye contact, sea green on dark brown. In that moment, all of Percy's previous worries vanished. He knew what he had to do. Nodding, he spoke up.

"I'm no math genius, but didn't you say he had ten plus guys? We got five, not including Grover. Those don't look like good odds." A smile cracked across Nico's damaged face, looking out of place, and actually quite scary.

"Oh, don't worry. We ain't going empty handed."

"Where are they gonna be?" Percy asked, as they made their way down the streets, the yellow flickering glow of the streetlights their only source of light. The time was close to midnight now, so the streets in the area were typically empty. Late night strolls were not a regular occurrence in this part of the city.

"Well if there's a large group of them, they're more than likely in the old parking lot a few blocks down" Nico replied. That made sense, lots of space for a brawl, but also lots of getaway directions if the police turned up.

"You sure they won't be at the underpass?" Will questioned. Nico voiced Percy's exact thoughts.

"Doubt it, too enclosed, limited getaway paths, not enough space. My bet is parking lot." The group they'd gathered was pretty tough, the regular guys, apart from Grover, who would only be a liability, plus two Olympus kids who were up for some hostility, Butch, a boy nearly as big as Tyson, and Mitchell, whose handsome looks didn't give off the impression he was dangerous. But both guys were as tough as you could get, they were Olympians after all. This group could probably take on eleven or twelve guys easily anyway, even if it weren't for their little surprise. Weapons. Each boy had a weapon of some sort stuffed in their belt or waistline of their trousers. Nothing overkill like machetes or guns, but broken 2x4's, wrenches, crowbars, you get the idea. For the most part, they were just for intimidation. There were unspoken rules amongst people in the area, no head or crotch shots, no killing, along those lines. Such rules in a street fight did seem odd, nonetheless people stuck to them for the most part.

Walking along with the others, Percy felt a sudden rush of anticipation, eagerness and adrenaline all at once. He hadn't felt this feeling in a while, and in the moment he realized that he was enjoying himself. This was part of who he was, it always would be. He loved fighting. There wasn't even fear that he would get hurt, because honestly Percy didn't care. He was side by side with his brothers, his family. Annabeth flashed across his mind, but he shut that stream of thought down instantly. The last thing Percy needed was to be getting distracted. Yet as much as he tried, she still lingered at the back of his mind. Would she like him like this? Would she be proud because he was standing by his family, or shocked and disappointed, because he was embracing violence.

"Percy? You still with us?" Nico tore him from his thoughts.

"Yeah, yeah. I was just thinking." Percy muttered.

"Well, you're about to have some fun." Nico spoke with glee. This was such a change from the anger he'd had laced in his voice earlier. The boy was coming into his element. "Gentlemen," he turned to the whole group, walking backwards, "our dear brother Percy has missed out on some tasty action since he left our presence to hang with privileged pieces of shit. Well he's about to compensate for that. We have to teach Matt limp-dick Sloan that he doesn't fuck with Olympians! We've come for a good time!" Nico spoke of fighting like a game. He was so animated and passionate, his words aflame with delight. Percy briefly wondered if Nico might actually be a psychopath. Before he could dwell on that, they turned the corner, and the parking lot was in front of them. Sure enough, there was a large gang of people congregating in the middle of it, with only a few old cars scattered around the lot itself.

"Nico," Will spoke quietly, "there's at least twenty guys there." Upon closer inspection, Percy did make a rough estimate of about twenty people. Matt hadn't been kidding. Twenty guys?! This was more than they bargained for.

"Relax." Nico was still calm, untroubled. Percy got the impression this was his big night and no one would ruin it. "Just follow my fuckin' lead okay." With that, Nico strode forward as fast as his short frame would take him. Percy and the others followed behind.

Quickly, Sloan's gang realised they were coming, and all stood to attention, focusing on the much smaller group approaching. There were some snickers and mutters exchanged. No one looked worried at all. Matt Sloan moved out of the crowd, and Nico stopped about six feet in front of him. Sloan was smiling, his grin arguably the largest.

"Di Angelo, lovely to see you," the sarcasm obvious in his voice, "and I see you brought your friends. Is that Jackson?" He focused his gaze on Percy. Matt was not monstrously tall, but he was stocky. While not being amazingly strong, he sure acted like he was, and even looked it. He had pit bull like eyes and shaggy black hair, giving him the appearance of an overweight dog. His clothes were sloppy, and he was missing one of his front teeth. "Jackson, how's your life socialising with rich scum? You think you're better than all of us now? Me and my boys will teach you that you ain't shit."

"Shut the fuck up Matt, you ain't got a clue what you're talking about" Percy shouted back. He became aware that all of Matt's 'boys' were getting ready to fight. He hoped Nico had something planned. As if on cue, Nico spoke up.

"Matt, you really should be less confident." Nico was calm and soft spoken. The effect was surprisingly creepy, this much was clear on Matt's face. The coolness in his voice surprised Percy. Normally they would've just headed straight into the action, but Nico didn't seem fazed one bit right now, savouring his moment in the spotlight.

"My boys will smash your little face in." His attempt at a tough retort sounded somewhat pathetic.

"Your 'boys' are weak. We're from Olympus." Nico was still speaking softly, slowly. "Like our namesake, we're tough, resilient and very, very dangerous. You kicked a hornets nest my friend."

It all happened so fast Percy could barely comprehend the situation before it was happening. In one, swift movement, Nico reached behind his back and pulled out his crowbar. All the while he was running at Matt. Before anyone could react, the crowbar connected with Matt's stomach. Percy took that as his prompt to pull out his broken 2x4, and the others followed suit too. Leo had a huge wrench, Will the other end of Percy's own weapon of choice, the others each armed with rusty metal pipes. Only Tyson remained unarmed, his colossal fists and mammoth strength were weapon enough.

As soon as the weapons came out, nearly half of the guys from Matt's gang abandoned ship, running off in all different directions. This left the numbers fairly even. All of a sudden, Percy and the other Olympians were on top of their adversaries. There were sounds of wood and metal connecting with body and limb. The 2x4 was heavy in his hand, and did not have the elegance of a classic sword, but its clunky nature made Percy confident it would do its required job. He whacked one guy hard on the knee, knocking him down, before turning to face another. He was, however, caught in his tracks. The opponent he faced was a boy, not a tough teenager. He was surely no more than twelve. What type of gang had Sloan got together? The kid looked scared, and for one split second Percy considered leaving him alone. He was, after all, just a kid, and as much as Percy had gotten used to violence, he never liked to see kids get involved or hurt in their troubles. But then the boy's face hardened and he swung a punch. It was feeble and didn't even connect as Percy dodged back, but it was enough of an excuse for Percy to thump his 2x4 into his shoulder. The youngster crumpled immediately, and Percy kicked him, to make sure he stayed down. He didn't enjoy it, but a kid like that had to learn the hard way, just as Percy had. Don't pick a fight you can't finish.

Percy took a moment to examine the scene. Will was holding his own against two guys; Leo was laughing as he jumped around like a madman. He had dropped his wrench and was kicking like a madman. Butch and Mitchell were also using their hands by now. Tyson was absolutely crushing the largest man they had. Although a few of Sloan's guys were fighting well, most of them were sprawled across the floor, holding painful limbs or trying to crawl away. Percy again noticed a few younger looking faces, which made him grimace. It was a pitiful sight; he'd not witnessed a scene like this unfold in quite some time, and had forgotten what it felt like. It was leaving a bittersweet taste in his mouth.

Unfortunately, he had no time to deal with this, as a burley teen charged at him, shaven headed, his face a picture of rage. Percy quickly dodged him, tripping the boy in the process. Once Skinhead was sprawled out across the floor, Percy began belting him with the 2x4, and he felt that abnormal, animalistic joy one feels when fighting. Humans, after all, have a tendency to resort to violence. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the young boy get up and dash towards him, still clutching his shoulder. Percy hurled his 2x4 in the boys direction, making direct contact with his chest. He collapsed; and if he knew what was good for him would stay down this time.

Then, without warning, Skinhead wrapped his arms around Percy from behind and threw him down. Percy felt his entire left side of his body thump down on the granite, feeling every rough patch against his face as he struggled to break free. Damn, this dude was strong. The vice grip was loosened slightly, and for a brief moment Percy thought he could capitalise, but then his head began ringing. An unbearable ringing that echoed and echoed. Then again, and again, and again, and again. There was no sign it was going to stop. He was being punched in the head, harder than he could ever remember being punched. He had to stop this barrage of strikes before it became too much. Any more and he wouldn't be able to do anything, he'd succumb to a blackout if he didn't act quickly. Without thinking, he jerked his head backwards, and felt it connect with something. The punching stopped momentarily, and Percy used that lapse to jerk back again. He head-butted him a third time and felt the arms around him loosen enough so that he could escape. Percy elbowed him in the chest and rolled out. His head was still ringing as he tried to stand up. Skinhead had gotten up pretty fast, and Percy, through slightly blurry vision, saw a little silver gleam in his hand. Shit, he'd pulled a knife!

There was no time for Percy to reach for his own blade, before Skinhead was on him. He dodged and spun away, ungracefully but suddenly very aware that his life could be in danger right here. Skinhead had a bleeding nose, and fury in his eyes. Percy knew his type, the two of them were not too dissimilar. But there was no time for comparisons. The larger boy swiped again and again, slashing at air, Percy barely dodging them each time. He was already dizzy; this much movement couldn't be helping his head. His sight was still good enough for him to make out his opponent though. Skinhead lunged at Percy with the knife, and he felt it graze the skin on his upper arm. Despite the pain, in that split second, he pulled back his good arm, clenching his fist, and threw it forward with enough force to knock the larger boy back a step. The punch was a little off, connecting with his lower jaw. Muscle memory kicked in, and Percy used all of his remaining strength to jab his left hand up into Skinhead's windpipe. The connection was clean, as the larger boy suddenly make a choking noise. Percy heard the faint sound of the blade falling to the floor and took that as his cue. Percy was relentless, digging at this his body with lefts and rights. He stopped briefly, and Skinhead fell to the ground, violently coughing and gripping his abdomen.

As soon as Percy stopped, the dizziness kicked back in, and he had to steady himself. A severe headache was surely on its way, likely even a concussion. Percy felt his arm, where the knife had connected. He felt blood, a familiar enough sensation by now. The cut wasn't severe, but enough to leave its mark. He'd been extremely lucky. This could be added to the canvas on his body. No doubt he would feel it once his adrenaline stopped pumping. He was very fortunate it was only a light cut.

Percy turned around to check the situation, vision still not perfect. Mitchell was stooped over, as was Will, but the others looked fine. Nearly all of Sloan's guys were on the floor, groaning and moaning. It was their own fault, Percy thought. Then, he turned his attention to Nico. It appeared as though Nico had taken on four guys, including Matt, successfully. This just served as a reminder to Percy of how tough Nico actually was.

"I think that's all of them!" Leo called. He was right. As Percy scanned over the unconscious and the injured, he noticed lots more of them were much younger, like that boy he'd fought. It was not a pleasant sight to see, but he had been exactly the same at that age. Matt just used these kids, probably threatened them, or treated it as initiation, something like that. They never stood a chance. Nico turned to Percy and cracked a smile. There was blood dripping down from his eyelid, and he was clutching his wrists, but other than that he seemed relatively unscathed. Percy's head still ached, but he doubted any lasting damage had been done. Nico was standing by the fallen Matt Sloan, who was a picture of defeat.

"We should probably go!" Percy called out to the others, as he looked down at Skinhead. He did not feel pride, but he was not heartbroken over the boys condition. Quickly he picked up Skinhead's dropped blade and pocketed it. Then, looking back at Nico, he noticed something, movement, from Sloan. It was so sudden Percy didn't even comprehend calling out to Nico. Sloan had somehow grabbed a fallen wrench, and was sitting up slightly. He moved his arm back, and swung with all his seated might. The wrench connected with Nico's arm, and the definite sound of a crack filled the air, and then there was a moment, a fleeting moment, of silence, before the visceral cry of pain and rage from Nico. That crack definitely sounded like a broken bone. In a fury, Nico spun and unloaded a barrage of punches onto the already pummeled Sloan, using both his good and possibly broken arm. He was unstoppable, screaming obscenities out of pure hate. Leo and Tyson rushed to pull him off; as much as they disliked Matt Sloan they didn't want him to die. Percy sprinted over, while the others retrained Nico. Even with someone as big as Tyson holding him back, Nico was a handful to contain when the red mist descended.

Upon examination, Matt did not look as he had looked about twenty minutes ago. His dog like features were unrecognisable, his face made up of bruises and blood. Right now, he had a face not even a mother could love. Nico had gone hardcore on this one.

"Nico, you alright?" Percy called, getting up to move over. Nico had stopped struggling by this point, instead focusing on the more immediate problem, his arm.

"I think that fucking asshole broke it. I should fucking kill him!" he was furious, as he lashed out another kick at Sloan's defeated body, only missing thanks to Tyson's efforts in containing him. Percy could see a vein in his cousin's neck bulging, and there was still a streak of blood across his face. Come to think of it, he had no idea how bad he looked, he'd taken some bad punches to the head.

"Nico," Will was speaking, "we gotta get you to my dad, he'll fix you up. All of us in fact." They all nodded, everyone except Tyson looking pretty beat up. That kid must be indestructible, Percy thought.

"Thanks for bringing us along guys," Mitchell joked, half sarcastically, "this was loads of fun."

"Um, what about Matt?" Percy voiced. He was wondering if they should just leave him, they weren't been the best of friends obviously. However, he was in a terrible state, and Percy was worried that he might end up spending the night on the street. Particularly in this area, that was dangerous. Did Matt deserve that?

"Leave him to fucking rot…" Nico muttered, lacing his voice with bitterness. They all stood there in an awkward silence, not entirely sure what to do. Then, Will went over to two of the young boys Matt had brought along, and pulled them up easily by their shirts. They looked around fifteen.

"You two, go take Matt to his place, or a doctor, I really don't give a shit. Just get him, and all your other guys, off the streets. Got it?" they stared blank faced, one still clutching his side. "Got it?!" Will repeated, much louder. They nodded reverently and jogged away. One went to pick up Matt's bulky frame, the other went around checking on the other guys on the floor.

"Right, that's that sorted" said Will. "Let's go." And with that, they all walked off down the street. Nico clutching his arm still; Percy rubbing the side of his head.

They'd been walking for about five minutes as a group when Percy noticed Nico trailing behind. Naturally, he slowed his pace down until it was just him and his cousin. If Nico noticed him, he didn't show it. The boy was lost in his own thoughts, still clearly seething with rage, supporting his damaged arm with his strong one. They'd all received similar blows at one point or another in their lives, so Percy knew the feelings that were pumping through Nico. Rage, pain, mixed with a touch of embarrassment at being caught slipping so badly. He was hardly in top condition himself, beginning to feel a headache creeping in already.

"How's it feel?" he asked cautiously. Nico's eyes snapped to him, a small smirk suddenly spreading across his lips. On anyone else it would've looked lightly mischievous, but with his dark hair, eyes and bruises it was downright devilish.

"Nothing I haven't felt before," his tone was surprisingly nonchalant, a far cry from his visceral screams not ten minutes prior. "Besides, once Sloan's face heals up I'll be back for more." Percy didn't doubt him for one bit, just smiling back and nodding. They walked in silence again for a minute before Nico spoke up.

"I appreciate you coming along man, we all do. It felt good to be back, right?" Percy still had the events of the night spinning around in his head, not least the young boy he'd decked, but he couldn't deny his cousin's words. Some part of him knew he'd always feel at home in this environment.

"It did" he replied, chuckling to himself. Nico appeared to straighten up at his words.

"Imagine what we could be doing now if we were both still at Yancy" he sounded wistful. "I mean really making a name for ourselves." Percy didn't have the heart to burst his bubble right now, knowing that two kids like them from the sticks could only go so far in this world. The two allowed silence to spread as they mulled over what could've been had they both been Yancy students. Truth be told, Percy doubted Nico would even be going into school, Percy or no Percy. But it was a fun fantasy, and made Percy's mind harken back to his chat with Annabeth on the bench, about family and trust. It had only been a few hours ago, but right now it seemed like a lifetime. And for as much as Percy loved his cousin's company, he'd do anything to be back there on that bench right now, frozen in time. He wondered whether he'd tell Annabeth about this, and how much detail if he did. As if reading his mind, Nico broke the silence around them.

"You were with her tonight, weren't you?" He didn't sound angry, but Percy still felt nervous about the direction this conversation could go.

"Yeah, left her when you called" he replied, trying not to say anything that might come across as irritated.

"How's it going with her?" Nico followed up, sounding more sincere than Percy was used to. It threw him off a bit, causing him to hesitate momentarily when he spoke.

"It's… yeah… good… She's great actually." He knew Nico wasn't Annabeth's biggest fan, but something about the way he'd asked made Percy feel more comfortable being honest. Nico took a deep breath before opening his mouth.

"Look, I, uh, know I was a bit rude the last time I saw her," he was stumbling over his words slightly, sounding as nervous as Percy had ever heard him. He kept quiet and let his cousin finish. "I don't like that school, or the people in it, but I can tell you really do like this one. So I… I don't know, I guess I wanted to apologise. If I made her uncomfortable. If she makes you happy, you know I got no problem with that." Nico dared a glance at Percy, who was observing his cousin with surprise. Nico was never one to open up like this, but something about this moment, trailing the others after a night of high emotions, that felt right. Percy cracked a sympathetic smile, showing Nico he appreciated the gesture without saying anything. He lifted a hand and patted his relative affectionately on the shoulder. They walked the rest of the way in comfortable silence.

Olympus Estate was usually at its quietest around 2AM, which actually made it a good time to be out. That's what Percy was thinking at this moment, as he ambled around the alleyways and courtyards. Most people were either asleep or in their apartments watching TV, so the place was also empty. This was a bonus on this night, as the last thing Percy wanted was a conversation.

After taking Nico to Will's dad, Dr. Apollo Solace, to be looked at, they'd all kind of drifted back to their own homes. Apollo said that the wrench hit had probably cracked Nico's forearm bone, the radius. As a result he'd have to stay at Apollo's 'office' for check ups or tests or something. Honestly, Percy had been in and out of concentration. He hadn't given details to Apollo, but he did tell him of the hits to the head. Turns out he didn't have a concussion, just a great big bruise and a splitting headache. Other than that he was fine. Percy had washed and cleaned the cut on his arm and gone back to his apartment. But after twenty minutes of staring at his bedroom wall he headed out, to clear his aching brain. The cool October air was relaxing, and the breeze felt pleasant, yet his entire body still ached. He'd forgotten how much a brawl took out of you.

The events of the night kept running through his head, and in particular, one; the young boy he'd hurt. He'd been too young to be there, shouldn't have been there and Percy shouldn't have hurt him. But then again, it had been Sloan who'd brought him and all the other youngsters along, it was his fault. He should've known they'd be useless, even if the Olympians had been unarmed. So why couldn't Percy shake the uneasy feeling he had? He'd hurt younger kids before, why was this bothering him more? Granted he had been closer to their age himself at the time, but was it really that different? He'd been like that at that age, he'd received much worse injuries than that little boy. The event with Skinhead and the knife didn't even bother him as much as it should, but this little boy refused to stop bugging him. What the hell was it about him? Maybe it was because in that split second he had seen the boy's life map out in front of him. He would fight, clash and be hostile, and waste away and hate the world. Eventually he would end up like Skinhead, mindlessly charging into fights, not caring for the consequences. Or he might get a dead end job working for someone he hates, being paid nothing and having no choice, because he'd had the misfortune of being born in one part of the city instead of another. Or perhaps Percy was overthinking things, and he should just feel bad for hurting a child because it's morally right to feel that way.

He was walking along his own row of apartments, the front door of his home almost within reach, when one of the doors burst open. The familiar smell of marijuana and perfume filled his nostrils. Calypso stood in front of Percy, blocking his way. She was adorned in her usual wafer-thin clothes, and must've been feeling the chill in the air. Although her stern expression didn't give anything away. He was not getting out of this conversation, and truth be told he was sort of happy for the distraction. He and Calypso hadn't spoken much since her little spat with Annabeth, and he definitely hadn't been round for any late night trysts. Their friendship was deep enough to endure a few quiet months, but Percy knew they'd have to hash out their last encounter at some point or another. And after his little chat with Nico earlier, now seemed as good a time as any.

"Hey…" he spoke slowly. In truth he was beginning to feel very tired.

"I saw you walking around the estate." She said, matter-of-factly.

"You were spying on me?" he replied jokingly, giving her a small smile.

"I was looking out for you" she stated, before stepping closer to him. "We need to talk." Those four words were never good, in any context, ever. It was almost a cliché.

"I know" Percy said, smiling slightly as he gave Calypso the proverbial floor.

"Alright, well we haven't really talked since that day. I was so mad at you, you left me when I needed you the most. I was scared and confused and you wanting to hang out with that rich girl hurt." She actually sounded hurt too. Percy knew Calypso could be one hell of an actress when she wanted to be, but he could always tell when he was speaking her truth.

"Calypso, look, I'm sor-" she interrupted him.

"No Percy, let me finish." She spoke firmly. "I went to you, I trusted you, and you turned me away. You don't do that, not to me, not after everything we've been through." He knew on some level she was right. In hindsight, he would've handled that day quite differently. His infatuation with Annabeth had sort of blinded him to reason.

"Why did you need me?" he asked.

"Because, Percy," she whispered angrily, clearly not wanting any possible eavesdroppers to overhear, "I thought I was pregnant."

Pregnant? Did she just say pregnant? If Percy had been drinking he would have most definitely spat it out. His heart literally stopped for a second, and a feeling of panic washed over him. Was she joking or serious? He must have looked as strange as he felt, as Calypso laughed under her breath.

"Relax, I'm not." She sounded fed up, although Percy knew her well enough to see the reluctant amusement she felt at his sudden panic, deep in her almond eyes.

"You sure?" Percy's voice was gone, barely more audible than a whisper.

"Of course I'm fucking sure" Calypso spat, as she folded her arms. Percy noticed just how cold she looked, wearing nothing but short shorts and a thin top that left little to the imagination. Standing barefoot in late October couldn't be good. He'd have offered her a jacket if he had one on himself. "But I wasn't sure at the time, and I needed to talk to you. I wasn't even sure if it was yours, but it's not like I have loads of options when it comes to opening up. You're it."

The two stood together in silence, absorbing the situation. The panic Percy had felt was slowly waning. The moment he heard the P word, he'd almost gone into meltdown, thinking the worst. He was not ready for the responsibility of being a father, absolutely no where near. Tonight just proved that. Besides, it's not like he had a great example set for him by his dad. He and Calypso had always been careful, a child was not something either of them wanted. Anyway, Percy was with Annabeth now, wasn't he? As if reading his thoughts, Calypso began talking.

"I know you like that girl, I get it. She's new and exotic and her parents would probably hate you, which would only interest you more. But that's not reality. Olympus is. We are. Not just me, but Nico, Grover, Tyson, all your friends, your mom and dad. We are your family, and we will stand by you. The pregnancy scare wasn't what upset me. It felt like you were choosing her over us, over Olympus." Percy absorbed her words, hearing the sincerity within them. One thing you couldn't say about Calypso was that she pulled her punches; if she felt something, she would tell you straight. When she put everything like that, Percy could at least see where she was coming from.

"I know," he finally spoke, "I didn't mean for it to come across like that. I'm sorry. But Annabeth's important to me. Me choosing to spend time with her doesn't mean I'm rejecting everything here. I'll work on it, but you'll have to get used to her being a part of my life now." He hoped that would get his point across, but Calypso wasn't letting it go quietly.

"Do you think she'd choose you over her family? I never see her around your place, it's always you going to her. We put you first, just remember that." She was standing so close to Percy now that he could make out every detail of her beautiful dark almond eyes. Then, she moved up, and her lips lightly brushed against his cheek. Percy didn't move away, despite a mental image of Annabeth crossing his mind. Breathing in her familiar smell, he felt a wave of nostalgia wash over him. Her scent was intrinsically linked to his experience of Olympus, as memories came flooding back like a waterfall. It was emotionally draining. Calypso lingered there for a minute before stepping back down off her tiptoes. She looked almost as tired as he now felt.

"Calypso…" Percy began muttering, but he didn't really know where he was going.

"No, I understand" Calypso said. "You're confused right now, conflicted. You're with Blondie, and for now it's all daisies. But it won't always be. One day you'll realise that she doesn't care about you the way you think she does. I don't want to sound harsh, but that's how it always goes with something like this. What happens when she realises who you really are? That the stories you tell her aren't just make-believe. Are you sure she'll accept you then? Does she know about your little bruise?" Calypso reached up and touched the area on his head that Skinhead had repeatedly punched. Percy winced. "I don't want to sound like a bitter ex, you know that's not why I'm saying this. I'm trying to make you open your eyes. You and her aren't compatible, I can't see it lasting. I have to be honest with you." She stepped backwards, closer to her apartment door.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Percy muttered quietly, a laugh barely escaping.

"Well anyway," Calypso was standing in her doorway by now, "it's freezing, I'm going back inside. See you 'round." And with that, her door slammed shut. Percy was left on his own, looking a bit of fool.

Her words rang around inside his ringing head. Percy knew that there was validity to what Calypso had said. She wasn't the only person who'd brought up Percy's recent disconnect from all things Olympus. At some point, he'd have to recongise the common denominator. It was good that they were talking about it though, and no one had outright told him to stop seeing Annabeth. His brain felt like it would go into overload any second now. Slowly, he trudged to his apartment door.

Once inside, Percy walked straight through to his bedroom. There was too much going through his mind for him to comprehend. The fight, the young boy, the pregnancy scare, Calypso's less than friendly advice, Annabeth; it was all getting jumbled up into one big mental mess. He was eternally grateful to see his bed. Without even changing, he crashed down onto his pile of sheets. It had been an enormously long day, and sleep came instantly. At least there were no worries in his dreams.

Chapter 14

Chapter Text


The sun was setting by the time Annabeth stepped through her front door, with the New York City skyline emphasized by the orange and red of the fading light. Annabeth often felt that she took the city for granted; she'd lived here all her life and had never really appreciated the spectacular sights and attractions, simply because she saw them an awful lot. It was part of her regular routine, wake up and see New York. She imagined people who lived in London or Paris felt similar, ignoring their world-famous city without even realising. But such was big city life; Annabeth would still have rather lived nowhere else. Yet she imagined someone like Percy lived in a very different New York City, and that served as a reminder to Annabeth. She enjoyed her New York, but millions of other New Yorkers did not live her life, and did not see New York through Annabeth's rose tinted glasses.

As she walked in, the first thing Annabeth noticed were the noises coming from the kitchen.

"Mom? Dad?" she called out pointlessly. They were never home before at least nine o'clock.

"In here Annabeth!" came a voice from the kitchen, a voice Annabeth recognised instantly, and one that made her suddenly, extremely warm and happy. She quickly slipped off her shoes and ran across the marble tiles, bursting into the kitchen.

Standing over the cooker was an elderly woman, seemingly preparing multiple meals at once. The familiar smell of home made apple pie, as well as an assortment of other wonderful aromas, filled her nostrils. Annabeth was amazed how this smell always made her feel younger, more innocent. It seemed clichéd, but she couldn't help it.

"I'm glad you're home sweetie" the woman said, her voice as soft and sweet as ever, as she stepped back from the cooker to embrace Annabeth, who had rushed into her arms.

The woman was Annabeth's grandmother, Demeter. For a woman her age, she held up well. Her hair was still a light blonde, with the occasional streak of grey. It was long and flowing, not too different from the dress she was wearing. Her eyes were a warm, comforting brown that mimicked the homely fire she stood over, preparing meals for whoever wanted them. She was slim and tall, and looked as elegant as she ever had, Annabeth having been stunned by her beauty in old family photos. Demeter had lived a relatively interesting, undeniably luxurious life.

She married young, to a rich as Croesus, old money Democrat from Massachusetts, and spent many of her younger years lounging around the finest mansions New England had to offer. Seeing as her husband was never around, Demeter was alone, and as such valued the company of others, some friends and family, some not. Despite this, she did have two children, Annabeth's Aunt Persephone, and Athena, Annabeth's mother. Persephone was the absolute apple of both her parent's eyes, until she did what all privileged trust fund babies seem to do and rebelled, running off to marry a rock star. That left Athena as the sole beneficiary of both her parent's attention, and not to mention their money.

When her husband died, Demeter left New England to move closer to Athena, by this time living in New York City. Nowadays, she lived slightly north, in an enormous house lakeside of Lake Ontario, where she did pretty much what she'd done for years of her life before: lounge about a huge house, drinking cocktails and socialising with her rich friends. Except that every month or so, she would travel down to visit her favorite granddaughter. This was one such occasion.

"Demeter, when did you get here?" Annabeth always called her grandmother by her first name; she thought it was beautiful, and Demeter looked far too young to be a 'grandma'. She pulled away from the hug and laughed, a rich laugh of someone who's had a life of little worry. She flashed Annabeth that million-dollar smile she still had, even though she was into her seventies. This was a woman who kept up her looks, and didn't look a day over fifty. If you'd told Annabeth she was a goddess, she might've believed you.

"Around midday." She spoke with a thick mid-Atlantic accent, "I've been up at the lakes for a few months now, and I thought it was about high time that I came down and paid my favorite granddaughter a visit." She spoke slowly, and her voice was soothing. Annabeth had always had a huge amount of love for her grandma. "Also your brothers, but mainly you," she added, with a sly smile, before chuckling lightly. She made her way back to the cooker.

"It's fantastic to see you" Annabeth exclaimed, and she meant it too. Demeter, the matriarch of the family, was also Annabeth's favorite relative.

"So why are you back so late? I thought school finished hours ago? Your brothers have been upstairs shouting at one another for about that long" her grandmother enquired, not looking up from the food she was preparing.

"It did, I was with a friend." Annabeth replied, sitting on one of the high chairs at the kitchen counter.

"And tell me," Demeter smirked, "was this friend of the male species?" Annabeth had to smile; her always-inquisitive grandmother had little concept of personal information. To her, gossip was fun, and should be shared. Annabeth saw little point in lying. She knew Demeter would get the information from her eventually.

"He was… is… his name's Percy. We really get on." She rarely said anything like this out loud; only Thalia and Silena actually knew the two were dating.

"Percy eh?" Demeter looked up to face Annabeth, her radiant smile still plastered across her face, but hinting at mischief. Annabeth was suddenly slightly worried. "That's actually quite funny, because a boy stopped by the house earlier, asking for you. Tall, handsome, blonde hair… Name was Luke. Said he was your boyfriend, here to surprise you." Demeter was still smiling mischievously, not too similar to how Annabeth would occasionally.

Under her grandmother's gaze, Annabeth was unsure how to act. She felt a small, slow panic creeping over her, and couldn't quite bring words to her mouth, couldn't vocalise her thoughts. Why the hell had Luke even come round? He was never one for surprises. Hell, she hadn't even introduced him to her parents yet, despite their lengthy relationship. They only hung out at his place. Usually if he wanted to talk to her, he would call her iPhone or message her. And what must Demeter be thinking? That question was made even harder to answer by the fact that Demeter had not stopped smiling. Was this even an issue? Her grandmother answered that question for her.

"Relax Annabeth." She spoke calmly, "we're all allowed a little fun aren't we? You think your grandfather was the only man I was ever with?" She laughed that rich, Katharine Hepburn-esque laugh of hers.

"Gods…" Annabeth muttered, not too pleased with the sudden mental image of her grandmother and gentlemen suitors.

"I certainly wasn't the only woman he was ever with" she added, as if that made it better. "Just be careful. If that's the road you're going down, tread lightly. Most people don't share my liberal views." Annabeth was unsure that she would call them 'liberal'. After all, despite her actions, she did not typically condone adultery. Her situation was complicated, but she would fix it soon.

"I don't enjoy it," she replied, "I want to end things with Luke soon, I just haven't found the right moment."

"Oh don't pussyfoot around it child." Demeter spoke with an authoritative tone: "trust me, you'll be much happier if you get it over with. Just tell this boy you find him boring and want to move on, rip off the proverbial band aid, so to speak."

Annabeth pondered this. Her grandmother made a lot of sense; it was probably best if she didn't keep putting it off. As she sat on her chair at the counter, watching Demeter prepare a lobster, her thoughts began to wander. Why couldn't she actually be like her grandmother, strong and to the point, instead of just acting like it? It shouldn't be hard to break up with Luke; after all, her whole reason for dating him was because she didn't have feelings for him. Was she worried what people would think of her?

"Honey, dinner won't be ready for about half an hour." Demeter's soothing voice broke the silence that had engulfed the room. Evidently, this woman felt no awkwardness in any situation. "Go upstairs, lie down for a bit." Her advice sounded quite appealing. Annabeth nodded and stood up, going to the living room instead of her bedroom, straight for the sofa. She practically fell onto it, completely lost in a world of comfortable cushions.

Both Athena and Frederick Chase came home early that day. They'd heard Demeter was staying and decided to have a family meal. Demeter had prepared a New England Clam Bake, with baked beans and Anadama Bread on the side. She absolutely loved preparing Traditional New England cuisine, and the family always ate every last spoonful. However, family dinners at the Chase household weren't always enjoyable, often ending with Annabeth and Athena arguing, and the former storming out. Annabeth hoped this one might be an exception.

Everyone was seated around their huge dining table, the adults at one end, and Annabeth and her brothers at the other. They were talking about some video game they played together, while Athena and Frederick were comparing their days. While the room was filled with chatter, Annabeth felt lonely, which she hated. She had nothing to say to her brothers that might lead to an interesting conversation, and her parents didn't seem to care how her day had been at all. She wished Thalia and Silena were here right now, just so she could have someone she got along with present. She'd even put up with the twins ogling them. Or Percy, now that was a recipe for an interesting dinner. Laughing slightly, the image of Percy meeting her parents, but more so the looks on their face, were, in her head, priceless. He could scare them all with tales of the darker side of New York, the side her parents never told her about. He could be a role model for Bobby and Matthew, and maybe teach her mom that grades aren't everything, because Percy wasn't considered academically clever, yet he was one of the brightest people Annabeth had ever met. But alas, this was a family meal, and as distant as they were, that still meant family only.

Annabeth was delighted when Demeter finally came in with the food that she'd been preparing all day, looking exhausted, yet also perky and cheerful. That woman was seriously superhuman; nothing stressed her out. From a young age, she'd been Annabeth's absolute role model, and that affection showed no signs of waning any time soon. As she seated herself at the head of the table, Bobby and Matthew dived in for the food.

"Ah ah ah," their father said, halting them in their tracks, centimeters from the steaming pile of seafood, "what do you say to your grandmother?" He looked at them as if they were much younger than their fourteen years, and Annabeth was reminded how good a parent her dad was, despite not being around much.

"Thank you, grandma," the boys chorused together, and Demeter smiled.

"Thank you to you too my darlings, now dig in" she commanded, and with that, the boys filled their plates. Athena then served her mother and husband, before serving herself. Annabeth, as usual, was last, serving herself the less juicy remains. She was used to it by now; it didn't bother her.

Athena spent a good chunk of the meal telling them all about her plans at work, about how her company was going places and about the large sums of money she was in control of. It was glorified bragging, trying to show to her mother that she was successful in life. Demeter nodded every so often, and made the appropriate remarks when necessary, but it was clear to Annabeth, as well as just about everyone around the table, that she didn't care one bit. Everyone, it seemed, except Athena, who did not notice any of her mother's eye rolls. It was actually quite amusing; Annabeth felt a sense of satisfaction at watching her own aloof mother practically crave her own mother's approval, without even realising. Even her dad noticed, smiling slightly as Athena went on and on and on, boring the room with talk of plans no one was really concerned about.

"…and because of that, we are being strongly considered to plan a new building for the New York City skyline. It could be my biggest project yet" Athena announced with pride, looking around for admiration.

"Darling." Demeter's voice had a much more comforting tone than Athena's, and instantly Annabeth felt relieved, as though she never had to hear her mother talk of papers and plans ever again. "You've done nothing but talk about your work since you got home. Now you know how much I love your talk of architecture, but I haven't even had a chance to ask Fred how he's been, or how Bobby and Matthew's school is going, or learn the ups and downs of Annabeth's social life." Although that wasn't strictly true, Annabeth appreciated her grandmother attempting to change the subject. If she had to hear about planning, designing or constructing one more time, she might go completely insane.

"Well, Annabeth's social life should be of little concern," her mother retorted, sharply, "she's focusing on studying for good grades this year." Athena spoke about her daughter like she wasn't even there.

"Focusing on grades?" Demeter suddenly started laughing, and in a second, any joviality that had been in the room was sucked out. Athena was visibly tight and tense. Everyone could tell. Demeter's laugh echoed around the large room, ringing in everyone's ears. Annabeth glanced at Bobby and Matthew, who were both staring at their plates. Her dad had a resigned look on his face, as if he were preparing for the ensuing argument that was undoubtedly about to come. The family menfolk would be of little use here, as the matriarch of the family and her own daughter were clearly rearing to clash. So much for hoping for a normal, stress free family dinner.

"What is so funny?" Athena demanded, cutting Demeter's laugh short. Despite her daughter's obvious attitude, Demeter carried on smiling. She actually, strangely, reminded Annabeth of Calypso. During the argument they'd had in Percy's apartment, she had not stopped smiling, savoring every moment. That was the exact same look Demeter had. Combine that with Athena's temper, and this would not end well.

"It's the girl's last year of high school my dear, she should be out having a great time, making memories and experiences before she goes off to college."

"She-" Athena began, but was quickly cut off.

"No, you let me finish" Demeter spat, a small grin still on her face. Yet she was being completely serious. No one else around the table was moving; you could barely tell they were breathing. "Don't force your plans onto Annabeth. She is her own person, who is old enough to be trusted to make her own decisions. You still treat her like a child, because you can't bear the thought of someone not doing something your way. That's always been your problem; you have to do things your way. It's been that way for years. Christ Athena, she's nearly eighteen years old! She'll be an adult who can vote and get married and all sorts if she wishes. No eighteen year old should be as stressed out as you make her." Athena was clearly bubbling with rage; no one ever talked back to her like that before.

"Just because you married dad at eighteen and got to live a carefree, lazy existence, doesn't mean everyone should do that. I've worked hard every day of my life, and I'm where I am now because of it, and Annabeth will do that too, so that she can make something of herself, become a professional."

"You don't get it, do you?" Demeter was actually sounding annoyed now. Everyone in the room was simply staring the unfolding battle of words. "You need to give your daughter a choice. If going into business and architecture isn't what she wants, then she shouldn't be forced to pursue that by her belligerent mother."

"That's coming from a woman whose hopes and dreams as a child were to get married, have kids and stay at home. No, my daughter will be more than a housewife, more than a slave to a husband, more than some ornament on his arm." Athena was so passionate, but she was acting like her daughter wasn't even there. After all this time, it still hurt Annabeth that she could so easily snub her feelings.

"You're no better than people who think like that" Demeter responded. "You're forcing her to fit your own ideals. Just because they're different and more liberal than my generation's, doesn't make it any better that you're doing it. I gave you and your sister choice. Persephone chose to run away and get married, while you chose to advance your career. Nothing is wrong with either. You must give that same choice to Annabeth; otherwise she will grow to resent you. I thought I raised you to know better."

"Oh, you want to talk about how you raised me now? Shall we go into it? Who were those strange men who visited when dad was away? Why did I spend more time with the nanny than my actual mother? You think you gave me a choice, but you were too self-centered to even notice me. Persephone ran away because she hated our life, not because you empowered her!" Annabeth could suddenly see her mother attempting to change the subject, which infuriated her. She was going to make herself out to be a victim, and Demeter would look like the bad guy. Without quite knowing what she was doing, Annabeth stood up and shouted.

"I am here you know!" A sudden silence overwhelmed them all, so she continued. All eyes, Athena's included, were on her now. "I have been the whole time. Mom, you talk like I'm not even here. Demeter's right, you don't give me any choice in my own damn future." Athena's stormy grey eyes were burrowing into Annabeth. In that moment she looked ready to explode, that's how intimidating she was. "I told you a while back that I was rethinking your plans for me, and you just brushed it off. All I'm asking for is that you let me decide what's best for myself." No one was moving, no one was blinking, Hell, no one was even breathing. The silence was deafening, and it felt like it lasted forever. Demeter had an encouraging smile on her face, her father looked sympathetic, and Bobby and Matthew weren't even looking up. Athena, however, had pure hate in her eyes. Annabeth wouldn't have imagined in her worst nightmare a mother could look at her own child like that, but she knew what she saw, and it was far from motherly. Slowly, Athena began to speak.

"If you," she began, spite in her voice, "want to end up like your grandmother, scrounging off of someone else's hard work, then by all means, find a rich socialite to marry. I just thought you'd have more self respect." Demeter laughed at the insult.

"At least I see Annabeth as who she is, not who I want her to be."

"Believe it or not Annabeth," Athena completely ignored her mother, turning her back on her, "I know what's best for you. It may not seem like it, but you'll thank me in ten years."

"But what about now?" Demeter pestered Athena, who was growing visibly frustrated. "You should want your child to be happy all the time, not just in ten or twenty years time. That happiness can't help her now." Annabeth realized she was standing still, but she didn't care. She had only one more question, and she had to ask it now.

"Mom, do you love me?"

This was it. Annabeth had been wondering for some time now. She'd always just assumed her mother had a weird way of showing it, but recently, her attitude, combined with that look, had Annabeth seriously doubting that there was any love on her mother's part. Of course, she loved Athena; she was her mother. No matter how difficult she was Annabeth loved her. That's why she did nearly everything her mother demanded. For what seemed like the hundredth time, an awkward silence surrounded the room, as everyone now looked at Athena.

"How could you ask something so ridiculous?" Athena retorted, shaking her head and looking away. Not good enough, Annabeth thought.

"Mom," she said again, "do you love me?"

"I'm not answering something so stupid."

"Mom," this time, aggressively, "do you love me?!" This time there was no reply. Athena stared into the middle distance, her mouth moving as is trying to form words, but saying nothing. Well, no answer was all the answer Annabeth needed.

"Athena…" Frederick uttered in disbelief, his first words in a while. Even Bobby and Matthew looked shocked. Demeter had a look of absolute disgust on her face, which did not suit her warm, kind features. Annabeth could no longer take the tension. Immediately, she bolted from the room, and up the stairs, not waiting to hear protests from her family.

Once in her room, Annabeth slammed the door shut. Immediately she grabbed a bag, and stuffed some clothes into it, a few shirts, pants, underwear and socks. Then, she pulled on her hoody and shoes, picked up the book she was currently reading, and headed to the window. As it swung open, one last check of the phone was made. Luckily it was well charged, and with that, Annabeth climbed out from her window and down the tree nearby, landing softly on the grass below. Inside the house, she could almost make out the figures pacing around the dining room, but the blinds were closed. She'd be back, Annabeth thought; she was by no means done with her mother. However, something new had come over her. In that moment, when all that filled her ears was the lack of reciprocation of love from her mother, it had all clicked. She had to start taking charge of her own life. Clearly, her mother was inadequate when it came to such a task, and as much as she loved both her grandmother and father, what she wanted, no one could give to her. She had to take it. She wasn't sure how long this new found determination would last, but she was ready to utilize it immediately. Turning her back on the precious house her mother had designed, she walked off into the night, not entirely sure when she'd be back. She had something she had to do.

It was getting close to 11:00 when Annabeth walked into the practically empty café. It was one of those places that stayed well into the night, which was convenient for anyone who felt like having the rush of energy coffee gave you when they should be going to sleep. As soon as she'd left the house, a wave of hunger had crashed down on Annabeth. She realised that she hadn't actually eaten anything at dinner, due to the slight distraction of a possible relationship-ruining argument with Athena. A place like this, a small Greek café close to Annabeth's neighborhood, was a godsend right now. Without wanting to break the peaceful atmosphere, she quietly ordered her coffee and sat down at the table nearest to the front window. There were a few people scattered around the room, a woman writing on a notepad in one corner, two gay men chatting close to Annabeth, and an attractive guy, early twenties at the most, reading a book near the counter. As she stared out of the window, Annabeth thought back to her argument earlier.

She'd finally confronted her mother, and gotten all the answer she needed. It seemed certain to her now; her mother did not love her. At least not in the natural, maternal way any mother loves their daughter. But instead of facing her daughter, admitting such a hard truth, she had remained in denial, and shut her daughter out, acted like she had asked her nothing. If that's how she wanted it, that was fine with Annabeth. It hurt her, definitely, but for now, she was strangely okay. At that moment, her mother had lost all power she had over her daughter. Annabeth no longer felt inclined to give into Athena, because surely it could never win her love? No, that woman was not meant to be a mom, yet she'd ended up with three children somehow. It almost seemed unfair to Annabeth, there were plenty of potentially brilliant parents who couldn't have kids, yet Athena Chase, who practically admitted she didn't care for her own child, had three. Isn't life cruel, Annabeth thought?

Now, here she was, on her own in this café, late at night. Since leaving Percy, her day had become a series of unpredictable events. She silently wondered if his night had been as strange, after all, he had run away to respond to his cousin's desperate call. An overwhelming feeling of regret swept over Annabeth, wishing she'd made him stay, and that the two could still be frozen in time on that park bench, with nothing but each other's company. But alas, that wasn't how life worked. She was almost glad actually, because now she was finally here, doing something she should've done a while ago. That was when she saw him walk up to the window. She waved slightly as he walked through the front door.

Luke Castellan.

His blonde hair was uncombed, and he looked incredibly tired, or stoned, or both. You never really could tell anymore when it came to Luke. At this time of night, it could be either. Annabeth guessed he must be quite confused, after all, he rarely got a call from her late at night asking to meet at a café. Maybe he thought they would head back to his and hook up. Alas, that was far from the case.

After all, she'd called him here to break up with him.

Yes, she was finally doing it. She'd been nervously putting it off for about a month now, always reasoning with herself that it wasn't the right time, that next week would be better. That attitude was counter productive, and not a good one to have in life in general, not just when it came to a relationship. The burst of confidence she'd gained tonight was her savior. She'd practically forced herself to call him, and had arranged to meet up. This place was sufficiently empty, so if it went as planned, and they were both adults about this, then no one would even notice. Unfortunately, break ups were rarely that clean, and especially if Luke was on anything, this could be bumpy. He tended to get his way, and didn't appreciate when he didn't.

As he meandered up to her table, smiling, he pulled up his chair and sat down lazily, stretching his legs out. Surely he must be asking himself why Annabeth had called him out here? Why did he look so calm? Never mind, Annabeth thought, that doesn't change why she had arranged this.

"Hey babe, how are you?" he asked, quietly, picking up a small menu from the table before discarding it carelessly. He clearly wasn't here to eat.

"I'm not great actually, that's kind of why I asked you to come" Annabeth responded truthfully.

"Hey, how's your evening been?" Luke spoke up, completely ignoring her. He was looking around, not making eye contact, as if he were bored and didn't want to be here. This was very peculiar.

Slightly puzzled, Annabeth replied. "Well it hasn't been particularly enjoyable. Like I said, I'm not feeling great right now. I think-"

"Oh no, what happened?" Luke interrupted, completely ignoring her again, his gaze wandering across the rest of the room. This was getting very annoying now. Annabeth was sure that he was almost mocking her. His tone of voice had been deadpan, no sympathy at all. Luke could be an asshole sometimes, but this was not like him, especially towards her. He'd always practically worshipped Annabeth, so the sudden rudeness was strange.

"I, uh, I had a massive fight with my mom. I kinda stormed out of my house." She confessed, now slightly self-conscious. This was not going as planned.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. How was the rest of your evening though?" He asked again, this time looking directly at her. There was something penetrative about his eyes, and a look in them that was almost angry. What on earth was Luke's problem?

"Luke, I don't understand. Why do you keep asking me about my evening? Don't you want to know why I've asked you here?" He just laughed and shook his head. This was worrying. The event had not gone down like this in Annabeth's head. Then again, when does any situation?

"No actually, I don't care" Luke said bluntly. He again looked away, as if holding eye contact with her was a struggle. When he looked back, that angry expression was in his eyes again. Except this time, there was an element of disgust to it. Annabeth wasn't sure what was going on in Luke's head, but she felt slightly upset, and slightly offended too. "Where were you at five thirty?" He asked inquisitively, still with that look of disdain.

"What?" was all Annabeth could reply with. It was a strange question that caught her off guard.

"You heard me, where were you at five thirty?" he repeated, assertively.

"At my house" she replied simply, still perplexed by the turn this conversation was taking.

"That's funny," Luke laughed under his breath, "because Jason and I went by your place, and you weren't there. Your grandma practically told me to scram. I don't think she liked me much." Shit, of course. Annabeth remembered Demeter telling her that Luke had stopped by. Why had she not remembered? This was suddenly a much more awkward situation.

"Oh yeah she told me. I was at Silena's." She quickly lied, aware Luke was staring at her. Her face gave away no hint that that was anything but the truth. "I must have gotten the time mixed up in my head. I'm sorry I missed you" she added, hoping he might relax. Alas, he didn't.

"Really? You see, afterwards, I messaged Silena and Thalia, because I assumed you were with them, telling them to tell you to call me, seeing as you barely reply to my messages lately." Dammit, Annabeth thought, she'd dug herself into a hole with this one. Luke continued. "They told me they hadn't seen you since school finished earlier. So you see, you can't have been at Silena's, can you babe?" He was smirking now.

Great, how was she going to get herself out of this one? Or maybe she shouldn't. This clearly wasn't going to end well in terms of their relationship. And she did intend on breaking up with Luke herself. Perhaps this was simply a spell of luck, meaning she didn't have to awkwardly explain why, after more than a year, it was no longer working out between them. Then again, maybe she had to do that. After all, owning up to one's mistakes and facing problems is important. Everything in her head suddenly felt like it was happening at a hundred miles an hour. She decided for the time being to remain silent, and see how the next few minutes went. When she didn't answer, Luke became irritated.

"Where the hell were you Annabeth?" He was still quiet, but there was an edge to his voice, it was laced with malice. She hadn't seen him like this in a while. "Do you want to know what I think?" he asked, with an unkind smile. Without waiting for her to answer he leaned in and spoke. "I think you're cheating on me."

All at once, Annabeth felt panicked and calm. She panicked because she had gone to great effort to hide her and Percy's relationship, and if Luke could find out about it, then so could many others. However, she also remained calm, both not to give anything away to him, and because she had accepted that Luke wouldn't be her boyfriend past this conversation, so she wasn't bothered by what he thought of her. Realising she was not talking, Luke continued, more frustrated now.

"You've been ignoring me for like a month now, we never hang out, and now I find out you lie to me about where you've been, not once but twice. It all adds up. You're a fucking cheat and you're seeing some guy behind my back." Annabeth wasn't quite sure that it was that obvious, she could just like being alone, but a jealous guy like Luke would clearly jump to infidelity. It was so that he could deflect any blame for a bad relationship from himself and onto her. It was all her fault. While it most definitely was, at least in part, her fault, that didn't make Luke blameless. Instead of being up front and honest with her, he was angry and hurtful, trying to upset her.

Annabeth's silence was clearly getting to Luke now, as he slammed his palm on the table surface, causing a few of the heads in the café to turn. "Jesus fucking Christ!" he hissed, "Will you fucking talk to me?"

"Why, so you can be rude to me some more?" she quickly retorted, not hiding her own annoyance.

"Are you cheating on me?" he asked, aggressively. When she just sighed and looked away, he kicked the table stand, causing Annabeth to jump slightly. "Answer the fucking question Annabeth!" he demanded, careful to keep his voice from getting too loud. They were definitely getting some odd glances from the other café occupants now.

Should she tell him, or simply keep her mouth shut? If she remained quiet, who knew how angry Luke would get, whereas if she owned up, admitted her 'mistake', they could maybe be grown up about this. With that resolve, she spoke up.

"Alright Luke, yes, I've been seeing someone else." It felt as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders, and she'd barely even noticed how heavy it had been until now. Similar to when she first admitted to herself that she had feelings for Percy. In that moment, she actually relaxed a bit. No longer was she keeping her life a secret. Looking at Luke's face, she wasn't quite sure what she expected to see. Maybe happiness, at her honesty? Or anger, at her unfaithfulness? Perhaps disgust, or pain, or anything other than what she actually saw. She saw a look of utter indifference in his eyes, as if he didn't even care.

"Who is he?" he immediately spat venomously. And suddenly the bubble that had existed around her relationship with Luke popped. This just proved it; Luke didn't care about their relationship either; he just cared about his reputation. A real partner would be more concerned with the fact that their other half was unfaithful, who they did it with would be secondary. That would be a secondary thought. Luke probably wanted to know so that he could threaten them, and prove how masculine he is. Annabeth realised in that moment that Luke never truly cared for her, the same way she never truly cared for him. He just wanted to show off that he could date the most popular girl in school. He probably thought that he had her wrapped around his finger, just as she had thought of him in the past. Now that the shoe was on the other foot, Annabeth felt regret. Was this how she had been treating people?

"Fuck you Luke" she replied almost immediately.

"Tell me the fucker's name." He replied, being suddenly very loud. Everyone in the room was looking now.

"I don't need this" Annabeth muttered, deciding in that moment to just ignore him from now on. If he was going to behave childishly, then she had no time for him anymore.

"Hey. Hey!" Luke was shouting at her now, trying to get her attention. All of a sudden, he stood up and flipped the table between them on its side. It landed on the floor with a loud crash that caused everyone to turn their heads. Immediately Annabeth jumped back, her hands either side of her head, suddenly worried about what Luke was planning to do.

"Who the fuck is he you lying whore?!" he bellowed. Chairs were strewn across the floor, and the owner of the café was rushing towards them.

"Oh grow up Luke. No one's impressed" she responded, and in a flash she felt a grip on her arm. Luke was grabbing her, trying desperately to pull her close to him. She resisted and broke her arm free. Just as she did that, she saw Luke get pushed back against the window by the attractive guy she'd noticed earlier. He was slightly bigger than Luke, and had a hard look in his eyes.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he yelled, with a deep voice.

"Fuck you asshole!" Luke replied pathetically, pushing the man off him. By this point, the owner was next to the man, and yelling at Luke to leave.

"Man, you were going to hit your girlfriend, I had to stop you." The man spoke calmly.

"She's not my girlfriend anymore asshole, you can have her. Just remember, she's a skank, probably be an easy lay."

"Way to make a scene Luke" Annabeth replied. Then it hit her, he'd said she wasn't his girlfriend anymore. That meant they were no longer a couple. Finally, she had done what she'd been meaning to do for a long while. Sure, it had been messy, and had not gone as she'd planned, but she'd come clean with him and broken it off. It was actually a surprisingly good feeling.

"You, get out of my place. I don't want to see you here ever again." The owner was yelling at Luke.

"I wouldn't fucking come back here if you paid me. Fuck, I could buy this place tomorrow and kick your ass out on the street," he was posturing now, flexing his family wealth like all arrogant trust fund babies. Luke shuffled out slowly, knocking over another chair on his way out. He really was acting about five. Walking out of the door, he didn't even spare Annabeth a second glance. That upset her. Even a look of hate would imply he had some emotion for her. The indifference hurt. She silently vowed to never treat someone like that again. She watched out of the window as Luke walked away into the darkness.

Once Luke was gone, Annabeth picked up all the tables and chairs, and apologised profusely to the owner for Luke's actions. He was cool with it, and everyone in the room went back to minding their own business, often giving a quick glance Annabeth's way. It didn't bother her; she was more focused on her own problems.

No more Luke. There were no longer any obstacles between her and Percy. She may give it a while, let the situation cool down for a while; after all, Luke and Annabeth breaking up would be bound to fuel gossip around the school. That was just the way Goode worked. Then again, she may just be open about it on Monday. She was not ashamed, and it would most definitely annoy Luke immensely, which after his performance tonight, he most definitely deserved.

She checked her watch, and it had just gone midnight. Isn't that poetic, Annabeth thought. It was a completely new day, where she could now be a completely new person. It seemed as if in one night, her entire outlook and attitude had changed. She'd stood up to her mother, and broken up with Luke, seemingly losing the two burdens that had been bothering her for a while now. She felt good, but also exhausted. Doing so much self-improvement, it seemed, was tiring. She briefly considered calling Percy, but then remembered the phone call from his cousin earlier. It had sounded important, and she didn't want to bother him. Also, he lived quite a while away, in a dangerous neighborhood to be in at night. Instead, she dialed Thalia's number.

"Hey Annie," Thalia answered, "what's up?"

"It's a long story, but I need a place to crash tonight, maybe the whole weekend." She realised how strange she must sound. "I'll explain it all, I promise."

"Sure, no problem" Thalia responded. "Both my parents are out anyway. I'd like some company."

"I'll be there in like twenty minutes" she replied happily, before hanging up. Explaining it would definitely take a while, but Thalia would understand. Standing up, Annabeth shouldered her backpack, and waved goodbye to the owner before heading out of the door and into the night, leaving all the day's problems behind in that café. She didn't look back.

Chapter 15

Chapter Text


Monday morning. Again. That Monday feeling would never go away. It seems almost impossible for a Monday morning to feel good. You could wake up to a world in which war, poverty, hunger and disease have all magically disappeared overnight, causing harmony and peace for the first time ever on Earth, but if it was a Monday, you'd still have the attitude of 'Do I have to get up?' for at least 10 minutes. It's just human nature. Mankind and Mondays are simply incompatible.

This was the thought going through Percy Jackson's head on this particular Monday. Yet, despite this, he carried out his daily routine. The prospect of school was not the most enticing thing in the world, particularly as he was a social outcast, but the prospect of even seeing Annabeth cheered him up. They rarely talked in school; he understood that she had a reputation and a boyfriend to maintain. As annoying as that was, he knew it was necessary for now. He and Annabeth weren't really serious yet, and the last thing he wanted was for her to feel he was pressuring her. What would happen would happen in it's own time. Still, even just seeing her, sharing one of their secret smiles in lessons would be enough to brighten up his day, and make getting up this early bearable. They hadn't spoken all weekend, so Percy had no idea what she'd been up to.

His weekend had been pretty uneventful, most of the time spent nursing bumps he received in Friday's fight. The cut on his arm was healing just fine. While still sore when he touched it, at least the bleeding had stopped. He had had a splitting headache on Saturday, but some aspirin had helped clear it up pretty quickly. The aching body made Percy realize he should either get back into a habit of fighting or not do it at all, because he wasn't sure his body could cope sporadically. Speaking of the fight, it had been all the youth of Olympus could talk about. Rumor spread quickly about how a group of outnumbered Olympians had taken on Matt Sloan and his goons and won. No one really mentioned that the group they'd beaten were all practically children, somehow it made the tale seem less glorious. More like just a bunch of mean guys hurting kids for fun. No one would enjoy that story. Percy, of course, hadn't talked about it to anyone, not even Nico and Grover. It was not something he particularly wanted to go over. That young boy, slumping to the ground as he was hit, was still on Percy's mind. He imagined the boy's mother shouting at him the next day, his friends laughing at how easily he'd given up. His conscience was constantly torn between sympathy, and indifference. Yes the boy should've known better than to show up, but no one deserved to get hurt for simply trying to fit in. Particularly in this area, that was often all you could do to survive. Then again, fitting in often meant receiving your fair share of injuries, but that was no way to justify what he did.

Walking into the kitchen, Percy saw his mother getting ready to leave for work.

"Hey mom, y'alright?" he asked her, smiling as he walked over to hug her. She returned it, before heading out of the kitchen.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Didn't get a great sleep last night though" she called from the other room, desperately searching around for something.

"Sorry to hear that." Percy responded, sticking his head into their living room. "What are you looking for?"

"My phone," she replied, "I could've sworn I had it in my hands a minute ago" She sounded frustrated, and this early in the morning, Percy didn't want to have to have his mother frustrated at herself.

"I'll call you," he said, as he pulled his phone from out of his pocket and dialed his mom's number. The faint sound of the Nokia ringtone could be heard coming from behind them, in Sally's room. Sighing, she trudged back, and emerged moments later clutching the old brick phone. It made Percy laugh.

"For as long as I can remember, you've had that phone," he remarked, amusement clear in his voice, "are you going to upgrade any time soon?" Sally laughed under her breath too, as she slid the brick into her bag.

"You think we have the money for that?" she responded, raising an eyebrow jokingly, although Percy knew she was being semi serious as well, new phones were a luxury they couldn't really afford. "Besides, this one hasn't let me down yet, lets me make calls and texts, all I need it for really."

They stood in the kitchen in silence for a minute. Sally was examining Percy, no doubt worrying herself silly about his new bruises. He felt odd under her gaze, uncomfortable. He hated the feeling of letting his mother down. Turning, he stared at the wall, or the floor, or anywhere except his mothers blue eyes.

"Are you feeling better?" she asked caringly "Y'know, after Friday?" Percy didn't respond. He wasn't sure what to say. He obviously hadn't told his mom anything, but she kept her ears open, listened to the gossip. It was practically impossible for her to have not heard about the fight. Hell, even the police had been around asking questions, getting nothing helpful as per usual. Sally sighed resignedly.

"Look, I know what you get into, I'm not an idiot. And I know that me telling you not to won't make you stop. I'm not sure if it's loyalty to your friends, or if it's my weak parenting, or too much of your father in you, but you'll always fight." She sounded sad, not angry. Yet, it wasn't like she was pleading, it sounded more of a passive, sad acceptance. Before Percy could even think of what to say, Sally continued.

"I'm not telling you not to Percy. I can't imagine what it's like to grow up here, especially with your dad being who he is. All I'm asking, I guess, is that you be careful. I want a son at the end of the day." At that last part, Sally choked up a bit, and some small tears began rolling down her cheeks. Instinctively Percy ran forward and pulled his mother into a hug. She wasn't bawling, or even making a sound, and when she pulled away, she looked almost happy.

"I…" Percy was struggling for words, which made his mother laugh slightly. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to worry you. It's just… I'm not entirely sure…"

"It's okay sweetie. I hoped this new school situation would slow you down a bit. I guess you can take the boy out of Olympus, but you can't take Olympus out of the boy." That much was true, while Yancy High School may be quickly becoming a distant memory for Percy, the life he had lived while there, his old habits, those were harder to break. Often times he had been ready to talk back to a teacher, or threaten a student who gave him a weird look. He had to control himself to stop his old instinctive behavior. On the other hand, constantly reminding himself that he was basically a Goode social outcast, and that it would most likely only make his school experience worse also helped.

"I'm trying," Percy said to his mother, "I'm really trying." Even as he spoke he was unsure of what he was saying. What was he trying? To be a better son? If so he wasn't doing a very good job. No, deep down he knew he was just saying words and phrases he felt like his mom wanted to hear. Sally could also clearly tell this, as she smiled knowingly.

"Percy, just be yourself. I'll always be proud of you." That was a line she'd used a million times, yet each time it felt just as true. Percy knew it, yet it didn't stop him from feeling guilty every time he came home with new bumps and bruises. And although she'd stopped nursing his injuries years ago, Percy also knew that her maternal instinct would never go away.

"Anyway," Sally exclaimed, breaking the silence that had engulfed the room, "I can't be late for work. Are you home tonight?"

"I should be, why?" Percy asked.

"Well I hardly see you nowadays, you're either at school, with your friends getting into God knows what kind of trouble, or with that girl." She smirked as she spoke, causing Percy to on instinct go red in the face.

"What girl?" he asked defensively, embarrassed by the fact that he suddenly seemed like a twelve year old with a crush.

"Come on Percy, I know you don't spend all your free time around here. A mother can tell when her little boy has a new lady friend." Sally was grinning widely now, clearly enjoying embarrassing her son.

"I'm not little anymore." Percy retorted back jokingly, also laughing at his own embarrassment now.

"But there is a girl." Sally said, as he walked towards the door. "What happened to you and Calypso? I quite liked her." She enquired. Percy however, was unwilling to dive into his personal life with his mother.

"Stuff, we're off right now, hey what happened to being late for work?" He joked, desperately trying to get the conversation away from this topic. Few teenage boys want to discuss the intricacies of their dating life with their mother.

"Okay okay, I'm out." Sally waved her hands in the air, still laughing at her son's obvious discomfort. "It'd be great to see you tonight. Have a great day."

"You too." He called after her, and the door slammed shut.

Alone in the kitchen, wearing nothing but his boxers and a shirt, Percy began to think about Sally's words. He knew that despite everything she said, he put her through Hell whenever he went out with his friends. He tried to imagine having a child grow up in this area himself; he certainly wouldn't feel at ease knowing they were out in the streets either. He briefly considered if that was also part of his fathers reasoning for sending him to Goode. After all, he had been seeing much less of the guys, and that meant he was safer, to put it simply. Maybe Poseidon had known how bad it would get, and got his son a way out. Looking at the state of Nico recently certainly made Percy think. Much like Beckendorf had seen what could've been when he saw Percy's scars, Percy saw what would've happened to him in the last couple of months in Nico, because he undoubtedly would've stuck by him through whatever. Deciding between safety and family had never been a problem for Percy, but no doubt staying at Yancy would've made that a much more common decision to make than it had been recently. Percy pensively wondered if that made him feel happy or sad. Yet another difficult thought his short time at Goode had made him contemplate. Checking the time, he realised that now was not the time for deep contemplation if he wanted to make it to school, unless he wanted to end up in Mr. D.'s office again. With that, he quickly headed for the shower, and prepared himself for the Monday ahead.

As he walked through the huge front doors, Percy instantly felt that alien feeling he experienced everyday. No matter how many times he came here; no matter how many hours he spent, this place would never be his world. It was not a place he belonged. No friends came to greet him, or even nodded in his direction. All he got were side-glances and hushed whispers. No one dared talk to him, lest they face the outrage from Luke, Jason and the others. Honestly, Percy felt like they'd all taken the whole Nico/Beckendorf fight way too seriously. What had they expected Percy to do, just leave his family? It hadn't even been too bad. Admittedly Percy had broken Jason's nose, but that had only been to get him away from Nico. And once he remembered his own strength, he had held back, hit lighter. Yet they hadn't cared, and now everyone in school made sure that Percy felt so alone and alienated. It didn't bother Percy the way they would've liked, after all he hadn't been friends with anyone at the school before, but it wasn't exactly a great feeling.

Weaving through the crowds of students in the grey hallways, Percy eventually came to his locker. He was so zoned out he didn't even notice Luke, Jason and the Stoll twins all standing just a few lockers down. They were leaning against them, trying to look cool, instead coming across as the most stereotypical group of high school jocks. They threw a few dirty looks Percy's way, but were mostly muttering amongst themselves. Even out of the corner of his eye, Percy could see that Luke was pissed off. He clearly had a bone to pick with someone, and from the looks of it his friends were all talking him into something. Percy briefly wondered if they wanted to fight him again, but the fact that they weren't even looking at him, and hadn't approached him at all suggested they were waiting for someone else. Intrigued, Percy waited by his locker, keeping his eye on the group. Luke looked ready to fight; he'd had seen that look a hundred times on countless guys. While Percy and no one he knew would be scared of this, within Goode Luke must've been pretty intimidating. He was tall and strong, and from the looks of most of the students the only fighting they ever did was with their parents when their monthly allowance went down. Percy briefly wondered, if Luke had another problem with a different student, maybe they'd move on from Percy, stop deliberately trying to single him out, and he'd be able to blend into the background of the student body, for a while at least. Then, Annabeth walked around the corner, and it all kicked off.

Their eyes met instantly, once again. It was almost as though they were just naturally drawn to each other, like they couldn't walk into a room without grey meeting green, the storm meeting the ocean. Of all of Annabeth's features, her mind, her hair, her looks, her eyes might just have been Percy's favourite. Yet, it was something in them today that he saw that made him worried, there was an edge, a tension that he'd never seen before. It definitely hadn't been there on that bench last Friday. Then, he noticed her eyes dart to the left, to where Luke and the boys were standing, and he started to piece together the puzzle. It helped that instantly the anger on Luke's face grew, as he pushed away from the locker to approach her. His walk was aggressive, and Percy's instant reaction was to jerk up in retaliation as well. The look in Annabeth's eyes, however, made him stop. He recognised what she was saying, to let her deal with it. A second later, Luke, surrounded by his boys, began shouting.

"Hey, you think it's fuckin' funny how you acted?" as he shouted everyone in the corridor turned their heads. There was silence, everyone staring at the situation that was now unfolding. At a glance, a relatively small Annabeth, surrounded by a group of angry looking football players looked extremely dangerous. While Percy knew, or at least hoped, that the boys weren't crazy enough to actually try to hurt her, he was coiled back like a jungle cat, ready to pounce in and intervene if necessary. That said if he knew one thing about Annabeth, it was that she was capable of dealing with this well enough, and he guessed that she would be able to hold her own.

"Get out of my way." She said bluntly, clearly not in the mood. By this point lots more people had come to watch. It was, after all, Luke and Annabeth. Nobody ever saw them argue like this.

"You hear that boys? The skank said something. Anyone catch it?" Luke turned to smile at his boys, obviously thinking he looked and sounded really tough. Percy was tense; his heart was racing. If Luke even went to lay a finger on her, the Percy from Friday night would come out again, more furious than before. It was taking everything for him to contain himself. Annabeth, however, remained calm.

"Luke, please don't be difficult. Just let me past." She wasn't looking away, almost daring Luke to try something. From where Percy stood, it looked clever. Luke was clearly angry, but if he were to flip out, he would look like a huge bully trying to intimidate his ex. Even Luke would struggle to make that look cool. He suddenly became very aware that everyone was watching him, and he must've realised this too. His spur of the moment act of aggression seemed slightly stupid now. Slowly he moved out of the way, the guys following suit. Annabeth muttered a thank you and continued walking down the hallway. Just as she reached Percy, Luke spoke up, pretending to speak to only his friends, but knowing full well everyone in the hallway could hear him.

"Hey look, it's a poor thug and a cheap whore, they're a perfect match." He was speaking of course about Percy and Annabeth, and they both froze, their eyes locking now as they always did. It felt like Percy spent half his time just staring into Annabeth's eyes, and when he wasn't, he was thinking about them. They both smiled, as Percy knew the look on her face. 'A perfect match', Luke couldn't have put it better of he tried. It seemed like he too realised that he might have been more right than he thought. Everyone was watching the two just stand there, eyes locked. Almost telepathically, Annabeth and Percy moved for each other. That unspoken understanding they had. They both reacted perfectly. Their lips met ever so briefly, their hands resting lightly on each other. It wasn't much, but in front of this many people, especially Luke, it was enough. Everyone remained frozen; no one knew what to do. Luke was staring at them, but not really looking. Percy knew they had a couple of seconds before it all kicked off, so they had to move quickly.

"Hey, you wanna get outta this place?" he whispered quickly, only loud enough for Annabeth to hear. She nodded, neither breaking eye contact. Percy broke into a huge grin. Excitement filled his entire body as he grabbed hold of Annabeth's hand.

"Come on." He pulled her hand and they both walked off quickly, turning a corner and leaving the hallway, and everyone in it, still frozen with shock. For once, Percy was starting to enjoy his Monday morning.

After their kiss, instead of going to class, they snuck out of school. Percy knew a way, having discovered it pretty quickly. It was a talent he'd acquired at Yancy, he could sneak out of practically any school in the country. This one was a little gap between fences near the back of the fields. He wasn't sure if anyone even knew it was there. Surely some kids must misbehave at Goode.

They both knew that if they'd stayed in school, they'd have been a bit overwhelmed. The kiss was a spur of the moment decision, and Percy was happy with it. It just meant they weren't a secret anymore, and that was something neither of them wanted to deal with just yet. It wasn't until they got back to Percy's area, and Olympus, that they even talked about the kiss. Annabeth had spent most of the 45 minute walk telling Percy the story of her weekend, from her grandmother Demeter, to the argument with Athena to breaking up with Luke and spending the next two days at Thalia's house. Her parents had been out, and it sounded like Annabeth, for the first time in a while, had genuinely enjoyed herself for three days straight. Percy couldn't describe his happiness at Luke and Annabeth finally breaking up. Even though he'd obviously worked it out, when she'd actually told him, he'd picked her up in a huge hug and didn't put her down until she was dizzy with laughter. It was only once they reached the gates to Olympus that Percy stared to hear doubt creep into her voice.

"Was this the best idea?" she asked, turning to look at him. They both stopped walking.

"Was what the best idea?" Percy replied.

"Everything today, this morning. We kissed in front of everyone; we haven't even talked about that yet. Everything's different now."

"Annabeth just relax-" Percy was about to try to be understanding, but she cut him off straight away.

"Or what about this, right now. You may know what you're doing but I've never even skipped school before. We're probably in so much trouble right now." She was starting to speak faster, sounding slightly panicked. "I think we should go back." That was when he noticed her eyes, they kept darting about, looking into the estate and around for anyone who could walk past. Percy understood. She was nervous, but not about getting in trouble at school. This was the first time they'd been back at Percy's home since that first time, when Annabeth had gotten into a shouting match with Calypso.

"Hey, it's fine here okay, everyone's at school, you don't have to be nervous." He spoke softer to her, holding her hand.

"I'm not nervous." She uttered, although Percy could hear that even she didn't believe herself. Laughing, Percy pulled at her arm.

"Come on, you're with me, nothing will happen." She agreed, and followed Percy's lead as they both headed through the entrance and into the estate.

Olympus Estate during the day is very different. Most of the kids are at school and the adults are at work, so anyone still hanging out on the street corners stands out like a sore thumb. This was when lots of the more elderly residents were out. They'd be out getting their bit of fresh air for the day before the crowds of kids got back. Some walked their dogs, some just sat and talked. As it was getting closer to winter, many had chosen to stay inside today. But the courtyard wasn't completely empty.

"Yo, Perce!" Nico di Angelo came charging forward, a grin spread across his damaged looking face. Friday had left its mark on him for sure, but Nico never let anything like that get him down. He had a makeshift cast on his arm, probably for the next couple of weeks. Turns out his broken arm wasn't as bad as they'd thought. Percy could tell that he hated having the thing on. He never stopped fidgeting with it, like he just wanted to break out of it. Nico reached the pair, and held his gaze over Annabeth for a second before turning it back to Percy.

"What you doing here? I thought you'd be at school." He smiled again, he was in a good mood today.

"Could say the same for you." Percy replied, happy to see Nico something other than angry for once.

"Hey man, I get some time off, doctor's orders." He pointed to his cast and laughed.

"Fair enough." Percy decided Nico being in a good mood meant he would take a risk. "This is Annabeth, you remember her right?" He wasn't sure whether Nico would be nice or not, after all, he'd made his feelings on Percy's relationship with her clear. Annabeth suddenly looked uncomfortable, as if Percy had put her on the spot. He hoped the risk paid off. Thankfully, Nico came through for him. After an awkward couple seconds, Nico held out his good hand for Annabeth to shake.

"Hi," he said, as Annabeth took his hand, "It's good to properly meet you, Percy speaks highly of you." That wasn't entirely true, Percy hardly ever mentioned her, but he appreciated Nico making effort.

"Thanks, he speaks really highly of you too." Annabeth replied. That wasn't a lie. Percy had only realised how much he'd been opening up to Annabeth recently. Before he could speak, Nico spoke up.

"Hey look, I know the first time we met I may have been a bit rude. I apologise." This was odd, Percy had never seen Nico apologise like this. "I don't wanna get off on the wrong foot, and if you make my cousin happy, I can live with it." He looked uncomfortable, shifting from side to side slightly, but when he looked at Percy, his eyes said it all. He was making an effort for that exact reason; he knew how happy she made Percy. Despite his rough exterior, Nico really was a good cousin.

"I'd like that." Annabeth said, smiling widely. Percy could see her relief. If she could break down Nico's walls, then maybe she and Percy could really start going somewhere.

"So anyway," Nico changed the subject, "what are you both doing here? You get bored of getting waited hand on foot at that fancy school?" he was laughing to himself, but not sounding mean for once. Percy laughed along too.

"Nah we weren't really feeling it today, snuck out." Nico didn't need the dramatic details; he hated high school stuff like that.

"You can take the kid outta Yancy…" Nico muttered to himself, everyone had been saying that to Percy today, "But what about you?" he turned his attention to Annabeth, "Is my cousin a bad influence on you?"

Annabeth laughed, and looked at Percy before answering, grinning mischievously.

"Little bit." She spoke softly; it was intimate. Percy suddenly felt an instinct, an attraction inside of him. What was this girl doing to him? "I mean, this is my first time skipping school." At that Nico laughed.

"Y'know what, there just might be an Olympian in you yet." He seemed more relaxed now. Percy was overjoyed; he'd dreaded having to bring Annabeth here again. They couldn't avoid it forever, but Nico was making this all so easy.

"I think so too." Percy spoke up, wrapping his arm affectionately around Annabeth's waist, pulling her closer to him. They kissed briefly, despite Nico standing right there.

"So what's your plan?" said Nico, aware he was interrupting their moment. "You guys sneak outta school to do it? Maybe get high?" he was grinning, as an embarrassed look swept across Annabeth's face. Percy stepped in.

"Y'know, we hadn't actually thought about that." He said, saving Annabeth from an awkward silence. And it was true. Honestly, they'd been so caught up in the moment, lost in their own little world, that they didn't even decide how they were going to spend their day.

"Well come on then, we'll hang out at mine." Nico said, matter-of-factly. "It'll be fun." Percy quickly glanced at Annabeth, who nodded slightly, giving her approval. She seemed genuinely excited to see some of Percy's world. Percy hoped that this time would go smoothly, but he knew that in Olympus, anything could happen.

Nico's place was practically identical in design to Percy's, but absolutely nothing like it. It was dark, and seemed like no one lived there. Nico's father, Harry di Angelo, was almost never in, and when he was, it was usually just to sleep for a couple of hours before getting back to work. Being Poseidon's lawyer kept him busy. Nico's mother, Percy's Aunt Maria, had died when Nico was young, and Percy knew how much it affected Nico. They hardly ever talked about it, and mere mention of her name could get Harry to go into a rage. He had a sister as well, Bianca, who worked all over the world helping the environment. Percy had always liked Bianca. As if on cue, from out of one of the bedrooms, Bianca di Angelo came walking forward, grinning. She had Nico's dark eyes and hair and pale skin, but it suited her more. She didn't look angry all the time, more like a model if he was honest. Then again, she wasn't covered in cuts or bruises either, that probably helped.

"Percy, it's so good to see you." She exclaimed, as she wrapped her younger cousin in a hug.

"I didn't know you were home." He hugged her back, genuinely happy. It had been months since he'd last seen her. She went all around the world with this group that helped the environment, doing charity work. It was really impressive. "This is Annabeth," and then he paused, thinking briefly before he carried on with "my girlfriend." She looked at him shocked, but before she could even open her mouth Bianca was hugging her. Annabeth greeted her, still smiling. Percy was pretty sure she was cool with it.

"It's so lovely to meet you, I always wondered if there was a girl who could tie down this one." She glanced knowingly at Percy. Bianca knew a lot about the boys, and what they got up to. She was, after all, an Olympian herself, and family at that. She may have been off doing good deeds around the world, but that didn't change her completely, and Percy had seen firsthand how tough Bianca could be. She was a good figure in Percy and Nico's lives, patching them up more times than you could count when she lived here.

"So what are you doing back?" Percy asked, still wondering. Nico was off in his room, getting something.

"Well we've just done lots of work up in the forests in Canada. I've got some time to rest before I'm off to somewhere else in the world. Don't know where yet. But I thought I'd come home; see Nico for a little bit. It's a hell of a lot warmer here than it is up there that's for sure."

"I'll bet." Percy said.

"What is it you do?" Annabeth enquired. She looked comfortable, and Percy was silently thankful there was another girl here for Annabeth to talk to. Bianca had that ability, to make everyone feel at ease. As Bianca and Annabeth chatted about Bianca's work, Percy went to check on Nico in his room.

"Hey man, need any help?" he asked, as he poked his head round the door. Nico's room was very similar to the rest of the house: dark, quiet and dreary looking. For someone with Nico's scruffy appearance, he kept his room incredibly tidy. Then again, Percy supposed he was hardly ever in here, always off somewhere causing trouble. Apart from a few baggies scattered about with some questionable substances in them, the room was a standard teenage boy's room. He had a bed, drawers for his clothes, some weights and a big stack of magazines. The room stunk of smoke, and there was an ashtray full of butts by the open window.

"Nah man, I've got it." Nico stood up, a small box he'd just pulled out from under his bed in his hands. Percy knew what was in it. All sorts of things you don't want your parents to find. Nico called the girls through, as he sat on the floor, Percy perching on his bed. Annabeth joined Percy on the bed, as Bianca stood by the window and lit a joint she'd just pulled out. She was, after all, an Olympian, she liked to enjoy herself too. Annabeth noticed and Percy felt her move against him ever so slightly.

"Hey," he whispered to her, "if you wanna get out of here we can." He remembered back to that night at Luke's, when they'd first kissed. Lots of the guys and girls had been doing drugs, but Percy couldn't recall Annabeth being one of them.

"No no, it's fine, I'm good here." She whispered back, locking her fingers between Percy's.

"Okay, but don't feel like-" Percy started to speak, but Annabeth nudged him softly, playfully.

"Relax Percy," she turned to face him. "It's not like this is all new to me." She gave him a smirk, by the look on her face she knew she'd caught him off guard. As Bianca passed it round, Percy watched Annabeth. She looked comfortable, maybe for the first time since coming into Olympus. And lying there, with her in his arms, Percy felt comfortable too. It wasn't awkward that there were others there; they were family. And that was what Percy noticed the most. How normal it all felt. That was a good sign surely.

They spent the next couple of hours indulging themselves. They paid no mind to school, or their other friends, or their parents. No doubt they'd be in trouble, but right now that didn't matter one bit. The four of them, in this room, was all they needed right now. Bianca amazed them with stories from her adventures around the world. She'd gone travelling once, and decided it was her calling. She'd been helping people and environments around the world for 2 years now, and had the most interesting tales to tell. Percy could tell Annabeth liked her, she was hooked on practically every word. Nico kept them entertained too, giving Annabeth some idea as to what he and Percy got up to. Percy was glad that Nico kept some of the worse details out; he'd rather his new girlfriend not think he was a complete thug. Nico, as Percy had done way back in the cafeteria when he'd first met Annabeth's friends, kept it light enough to tell to a group. Of course, Annabeth saw right through it. Percy knew that with someone that clever, you could only hide the truth for so long.

Nico was telling this one story about a time they'd intimidated this other gang member, everyone following along intently, even though both Percy and Bianca already knew the ending.

"So Percy throws one punch at the guy and he hits the floor like a sack of bricks. He got up and ran off so quick." Nico laughed, Percy and Bianca made eye contact, and shared a knowing glance. They knew the details Nico was leaving out.

"Come on," Annabeth spoke up for once, "what really happened?" she asked. The other three were quite shocked; she'd been pretty quiet the whole time.

"What d'you mean?" Nico replied, clearly not expecting it.

"Nico," she sat up, untangling herself from Percy's arms, but still holding his hand. "I know what people around here are like. From everything all three of you have told me, I don't think any of them would just run without at least putting up a fight. And one punch? I mean come on. He's not that strong?" She turned smirking slightly at Percy, who playfully pushed her in response. She laughed as she turned back to Nico. "So what happened?" Nico was struggling to find an answer, looking directly at Percy. After all, it was his story, and Annabeth was his girl. Nico didn't want to just put his cousin on the spot like that, but Annabeth wasn't letting this go.

"I'd rather you not hide details from me that you think I won't like. I see the little glances; I can tell you aren't telling the whole story. Just tell me." By now she turned to face Percy, those grey eyes burrowing into his green. She didn't sound angry, just really curious. That's what reassured Percy.

"Okay," he spoke, "but just a pre-warning, I don't come across as the nicest guy."

"Percy," Annabeth looked deeply at him, squeezed his hand, "I want to know you, the good and the bad; every little detail. I know you aren't a bad person, I just don't want to have secrets." She smiled, and it made him smile, and instinctively he leaned in and kissed her. It wasn't long, but it was passionate, and said all the words he couldn't. Nico and Bianca looked at each other a little awkwardly, but also kind of amused.

"So what really happened," Percy said, looking back to the rest of the room, "was a bit worse. Nico was kinda right, the guy left, but he didn't run, he practically crawled."

"What happened?" Annabeth whispered to him, barely audible. It was still as if the others weren't in the room, like it was just the two of them. She sounded sure, but with a hint of doubt hidden behind that. Percy knew she may not look at him the same again, but he went for it."

"I started beating on the guy with a weapon, a two-by-four if you want to know." There was a silence, as Nico and Bianca held their breath, waiting on Annabeth's response. There wasn't one, but her eyes told Percy to continue. She hadn't stormed out, that was a good sign. If he really could trust her, how she reacted to what he was about to say would determine it.

"You see we caught him selling drugs. Now around here there are rules, it's very territorial. You can't sell in another gang's area and not let them know. You need permission. This kid thought he was being clever making a buck. We have to defend our turf, that's the way it's looked at. 'Send a message', that's what my father always says. If hitting this asshole a couple times with a big fuckin' stick does that, then that's what I'll do. And it worked. We didn't have another like him in a while."

"How many times did you hit him?" Annabeth asked. Percy was slightly surprised by her follow up question, but her face was giving nothing away.

"Um- I- about five or six times probably?" he looked at Nico, who nodded in agreement.

"And how long ago was it?" Annabeth followed up.

"Eight, maybe nine months." Percy replied, looking a bit puzzled now. "Why?" Annabeth ignored his question, but hers made Percy sit up.

"Did you enjoy it?"

That was a tricky one. Percy wasn't sure if she was playing a game with him or not. Did she have an answer she wanted to hear, and this was her way of trying to indicate it? If he said yes, she may very well call him a psychopath and storm out. Maybe, she wanted him to say yes, to confirm fears about him. 'What fears?' he suddenly asked himself; surely he was making stuff up now. Just say no, he told himself, it's the good answer. It's what any girlfriend would want to hear, surely. What kind of psychopath would enjoy beating up a kid? Just say no.

But that would be a lie. Percy knew it, Nico and Bianca knew it, and if he said it, he was pretty sure Annabeth would know it straight away. It wasn't that he was a bad person, but in that moment, when Percy had seen that guy practically drag himself away, he saw how much his reputation had been growing. Beating on that guy had made him feel superior, strong and feared. He would be lying to everyone if he said he hadn't enjoyed it a bit. It just came with the world he was in. Did that make him horrible? And more importantly, could he tell Annabeth? He really thought about that, and thought back, strangely, to his first day at school. The day he'd told Annabeth and everyone else about the burning desk. She'd asked why he'd done it, and he was honest. He'd said 'because he could', and Annabeth was still here. He'd been honest with her then, he should be honest with her now. He thought about this morning, their leaving school together, her telling him every detail of what had happened. She'd broken up with her boyfriend for him, she'd broken school rules for the first time for him, the least she deserved what his honesty. He made his mind up.

"Yeah, a part of me did." As he said the words, a smile flickered across Annabeth's lips, only brief enough for Percy to notice.

"Okay then." She said, as she took his hands again and returned to their previous position. Percy still had tons of questions, but Bianca changed the topic with another story from her travel.

They talked for another hour. The whole time, Annabeth and Percy were getting closer and closer. He couldn't quite believe it, but Annabeth was being extremely touchy with him, yet Nico and Bianca hadn't seemed to notice. He was loving it. He'd never expected Annabeth to be like this, but he could practically see the sparks jumping between them. As a comfortable silence engulfed the room, Percy became aware of the time. There were still a few hours before his mom came home from work, which meant his place was completely free. He couldn't wait any longer.

"Follow my lead," he whispered in Annabeth's ear, so softly that only she heard it. Then, he sat up, maneuvering Annabeth slightly. As she turned, she caught his eye; she was looking at him playfully, nodding slightly.

"Nico," Percy averted his gave to his cousin, who looked up, "thanks for having us over man, but I'm starving, got some food for Annaneth and me at mine." Nico nodded.

"No problem brother, I had fun."

"Yeah me too," said Bianca, "it was great catching up."

They all said their goodbyes, Annabeth said how good a time she'd had. Percy would've enjoyed that, if they weren't still all over each other. The second they stepped out of the door, they rushed straight back to Percy's, laughing and smiling the whole way. By now a couple of the kids were getting back from school, and they definitely garnered a few odd looks, but they couldn't have cared less. When they reached Percy's front door, he quickly fit the key in the lock and pushed the door wide open. The second they were in, Annabeth slammed the door shut and they went at it. Their lips met passionately as they stood in the front room. Percy was already pulling his shirt over his head. He threw it across the room, and Annabeth jumped onto him. Percy held her up, her legs around his waist. He carried her through the apartment to his room, their lips never stopping. Once in his room, he dropped her down on his bed. Not too hard, but with enough force to make her giggle as she landed. Percy took the rest of his clothes off as Annabeth lay on his bed, staring at him seductively. Percy felt that excitement; he was seeing a whole new side of Annabeth. Or perhaps, this side had always been there, and he was only now granted the privilege of her company.

Annabeth began to slowly remove her clothes, the designer skirt and top. Down to just the bare minimum, she leaned forward a bit, just enough to be inviting. The smile on her face was all the encouragement he needed. In a split second they moved under his sheets, and let their passion take over.

"I had the best time today."

It was Annabeth who broke the silence. They'd been lying in each other's arms for a while; just enjoying the quiet of each other's company. Percy had her hand in his and was gently stroking it with his thumb.

"Yeah, me too" was all he could think to say in response, and it was true. He hadn't had this much fun skipping school since he was about 15 with Nico. "So you're a rule breaker now." He said as he pulled Annabeth closer, laughing under his breath. "Perfect Annabeth Chase will have a not so perfect attendance record after today."

"Whatever will my parents say?" Annabeth joked, as she turned to face Percy. "You called me you're girlfriend earlier." She was still smiling, and Percy smiled back.

"Yeah, you not okay with that? Now you're a rebel who skips school you're too cool for a loser like me?" he responded playfully, and Annabeth laughed along. Neither of them had stopped smiling all day.

"Is it not courtesy to ask the girl before?" she replied, poking him in his chest.

"Fine, if you insist on being so old fashioned." Percy said sarcastically, sitting up slightly. He looked at Annabeth. Lying there in his bed, his arm around her, she was more radiant than he could ever remember her being. "Annabeth Chase, will you be my girlfriend?"

Her smile grew wider, if that were even possible. She sat up to kiss Percy, and they held it for a while. When they finally parted Annabeth had that magical look in her eyes again, the slightly mischievous one that always got Percy's heartbeat up. And now she was his girlfriend. Scratch that, this was the most beautiful he could remember her being.

"Just in case you didn't get that, that was a yes." She joked.

"Oh thanks, I can be a bit slow sometimes." He joked back; he honestly couldn't remember ever feeling this way about anyone. What he was going to say next could've ended up ruining that, but Percy decided once again to trust her.

"Why were you so interested in the story earlier? Y'know, me beating that guy up?" Her smile went away, but she didn't look mad.

"Percy, you've had such a different life to me." He was slightly perplexed.

"What do you mean?" he asked, genuinely curious as to where she was going. Annabeth carried on.

"I can't imagine what it must've been like growing up here at times. You've seen and done so much that I couldn't possible begin to understand. It would be horrible of me to hold that against you. It's part of who you are. But you also know that it's not always the right thing to do, even if it is what you have to do." She wasn't speaking down to him, or trying to pretend to understand it. No, when she spoke, Percy felt like she was reading his mind. "Knowing you've done those things doesn't change how I feel about you, if anything it helps it. I really feel like I can trust you, and I want to see you would trust me too. I don't care what you've done in the past, as long as you're honest with me. That's why I was so interested. I wanted you to tell me the truth."

A tear fell down Annabeth's cheek, and she smiled as Percy reached across to wipe it away. He was speechless. Deciding to trust this girl was the greatest decision he'd ever made. There was so much that he wanted to say right now. That he agreed with her completely. He didn't want any secrets, that's why he'd been honest. And he wanted to tell her that he'd never met anyone like her. And that he'd never felt like this. He wanted her to know that since she'd come into his life he'd had a little extra jump in his step. She was contagious. A fire had started inside him and he had no idea when it would go out. Jesus, he thought, is this what it's like to be in love? Probably just that instant chemistry, he told himself. He couldn't be in love already, could he?

He wanted to say so much, but the words just couldn't come out. He could never word it as beautifully and honestly as Annabeth had. Instead, he did the next best thing. As he gazed into her stormy grey eyes for the millionth time today, he smiled, and leant in to kiss her. It was slow, but passionate. Percy was trying to put everything into it, all his unspoken words, all his feelings and emotions, his mind and heart; he wanted to share it all with her. God, he wished he never had t stop kissing this girl. Annabeth pulled him in closer, matching Percy's intensity on every level.

As things started to get intimate again, there was a loud banging heard at the door. It broke them both out of their spell. Quickly, they shot up and started looking for clothes. Again, three loud knocks on the front door.

"Is your mom home?" Annabeth asked, pulling her shirt on.

"This won't be her," Percy replied, "Mom's got a key." He was still so out of it, he'd thought of no one but Annabeth for so long. He wanted to find out who was trying to break the door down from the sounds of it. Three more bangs, this time they heard a muffled voice too. It sounded like a man.

"Is it your dad?" Annabeth asked quietly. It was the one thing Percy hadn't talked about with her. She still didn't even know what he did. He wasn't quite ready for that yet. Maybe soon, hopefully, but now wasn't the time for that conversation.

"Let's hope not" was all he said, gravely. If this was his dad, that meant trouble. In a flash, Percy shot through his apartment, Annabeth following slightly behind. He quickly grabbed the shirt he'd discarded when he came in, pulled it on and opened the door.

Chapter 16

Chapter Text


Standing outside the door was Charles Beckendorf. Both Percy and Annabeth were shocked. Annabeth wasn't sure who she'd expected, but she knew enough about Olympus to know it could be anything or anyone. The way Percy had spoken when she'd asked about his dad had worried her slightly. His father was something she wanted to bring up at some point, but there were clearly more pressing issues at hand.

"Percy, man, I ran as fast as I could." Beckendorf said, panting slightly, looking relieved to see him. He was sweating and slightly hunched over. Annabeth knew as fast as Beckendorf could run meant pretty damn fast. The guy looked exhausted.

"Why the hell are you banging on my door so loudly?" Percy asked furiously. Beckendorf suddenly caught Annabeth's eye behind Percy, and looked away awkwardly. He must've guessed she was here, surely. The whole school must've been talking about how they ran out.

"It's Luke," Beckendorf said, speaking to Percy again. Annabeth became frustrated silently. Luke was becoming annoying. Where she'd previously harbored affection, resentment was growing. What stupid thing had the man-child done now?

"What about Luke?" Percy replied, still clearly annoyed. He kept his hand on the door, not letting Beckendorf in. "How did you even know where to find me?" Beckendorf looked a bit hurt at that comment, Annabeth wasn't quite sure why. He stared at Percy for a second.

"You live in the same apartment. You haven't moved." His words were quiet. It clicked for Annabeth. She kept forgetting Percy and Beckendorf had used to be best friends; that Beckendorf had lived on Olympus too. Percy had clearly forgotten momentarily too. Of course he'd known where to come, Percy had spent his whole life in this apartment. Percy became still, and then relaxed. He took his hand off the door and let Beckendorf in; he nodded to Annabeth as he entered. She didn't move, still wanting to know why he was here. This had something to do with Luke, and that bothered her. She caught a glimpse of Percy's face. He looked slightly sad, and she wished for a second that they were actually telepathic. She guessed he was remembering the times he and Beckendorf had had as kids, and annoyed at himself for forgetting about them. She wanted nothing more than to comfort him.

"So what's going on?" he asked, as he closed the door. That was the million-dollar question. Annabeth was desperate to know what Luke had done this time. It had to be serious for Charles Beckendorf to be this panicked.

"Luke's coming here." He said, looking between Percy and Annabeth. "He's coming here with the guys."

"Why?" it was Annabeth who spoke, what on earth was Luke doing that for. Beckendorf continued.

"The whole school heard about what happened this morning." He looked awkwardly at Annabeth. They'd both guessed as much anyway, that was high school for you. "Well Luke didn't take it well. He spent the whole day running his mouth around school, saying how he's gonna march down here and teach you a lesson. He's embarrassed, you took his girlfriend in front of everyone."

"He didn't take me!" Annabeth snapped, "I'm no one's to take. I chose to go with Percy." Beckendorf held his hands up slightly, he had clearly not meant to offend.

"You think I don't know that?" he replied "Silena told me about you two earlier today. But Luke doesn't see it that way. He's mad."

"Luke broke up with me! I'm not allowed to move on?" Annabeth shouted back, she was becoming frustrated. Why did she let Luke irritate her so much? She wished she'd never started seeing him I the first place. This would all have been so much easier. 'Hindsight's 20/20 eh?' she thought to herself. Percy reached across and took her hand comfortingly.

"That's not what he's been saying." Beckendorf spoke up, his face still worried. "His story is that you dumped him, or more Percy made you dump him. He's been telling everyone that Percy's threatening you and you're scared he'll hurt you. I don't know how many people believe him, but it's enough. It's like a witch-hunt man; he spent the whole day telling everyone all these lies about you. I tried to stop him, but he wouldn't listen. He started getting more aggressive, talked about coming down here. It was fucked up man, fucked up." Beckendorf stopped for a breath and slumped down onto the sofa. He looked shattered and he'd been talking a mile a minute. By the sounds of it, Percy and Annabeth had missed quite the eventful day. Then again, them leaving had caused the eventful day to begin with. Annabeth wondered how Thalia and Silena had held up. She hadn't even been on her phone all day, too preoccupied with Percy to care. Percy looked at her, and his face said it all. Worry. They both knew that what they'd done would be a big deal, but neither of them had expected Luke to act like this. Annabeth had always thought Luke, despite not being the most intelligent guy ever, was smart and sensible enough, and a sweet guy deep down. Well not anymore. Since Friday, Luke had been green with jealousy, and it wasn't a colour that suited him. Percy was the first to speak.

"Okay so lemme get this straight. Luke's on his way here, now, to beat me up?"

"That's his plan." Beckendorf replied.

"He's a fuckin idiot then." Percy replied, matter-of-factly. Both Annabeth and Beckendorf were a bit surprised. They hadn't expected that reply.

"Perce, he ain't alone," Beckendorf said, "he's bringing guys. Not just the football guys either." He looked a bit nervous at what he was about to say. "Some of the kids at school are a little, different. Asshole's is the best word. They aren't happy the school let you in."

"What are you talking about?" Percy looked perplexed again, "No one at Goode likes me. I know that already." Annabeth wanted to tell him that wasn't strictly true, but there was a time and a place.

"No, most people only act that way because they're more scared of Luke than they are of you. I'm talking about a serious group. Lots of them are on the sports teams with me. These are the richest of the rich kids, they're snobby and privileged and they don't like you because, well…" Beckendorf didn't finish. He didn't need to. All three of them knew what he was going to say.

"Because I'm poor." Percy said, trying to hide the hurt in his voice. Annabeth's heart went out to him a bit. She imagined he knew anyway, but that doesn't make it any easier to hear.

"At first it was just that, because you were poor. They'd make comments every now and then, I'd try to tell them you were cool, but I don't always fit in either." He pointed to his own skin, and Annabeth knew what he meant. Beckendorf was black, and Goode was mostly full of rich white kids. It wasn't a racist school by any means, but lots of the kids came from old rich families, who had less than liberal views on lots of things. Nurturing like that was hard to break in a kid. To hear that even after all the years at Goode, Beckendorf was still getting treated differently was infuriating to Annabeth. Beckendorf continued. "It wasn't anything serious though, until recently. Luke's started telling them all these things about you, about the Estate, some of the things you told us. He painted you out to be a thug. Now those guys are angry. The way they see it, you've taken their school's princess from them." Annabeth felt uncomfortable at that. She knew she was popular at school, and that loads of the guys liked her. She also knew how they could get when they wanted something. These rich boys were used to things going their way, and they got pretty angry when they didn't get what they wanted. If a whole lot of them were coming down here, they were serious. "They started planning to come down here after school. Luke talked them into it. They think they're gonna teach you a lesson, that you'll be too scared to come back. I had to let you know, I came straight here."

"Thanks," muttered Percy, clearly deep in thought. Annabeth wondered what was going through that mind. Was he scared? She doubted that, but then again, Luke and all his friends were very strong and angry, and looking for a fight from the sounds of it. That wasn't a great combination for Percy. He'd started pacing; Annabeth had never seen him like this. He looked worried, but also determined. Surely he was coming up with a plan. He wouldn't just go out and get beaten up. Besides, this was his home. What had he said to Annabeth earlier, what his father always told him? 'Send a message'.

"How many guys are coming?" he looked at Beckendorf. Beckendorf was taken aback slightly at Percy's demeanor. There was no fun loving side to him right now, that often friendly raven haired boy replaced with this serious, hardened looking one. Annabeth was suddenly aware of some very faint bruising on the side of Percy's head, hardly noticeable. She also saw the cut on his arm, she'd noticed it earlier but chose not to bring it up. Right now, standing there, he looked so different to what Annabeth was used to, tougher, and grittier; he even looked a bit taller. She had a feeling she was seeing his other side now, his Olympus side. The side of him that made him fight and break the rules; that made him who he was. She knew it wasn't the right moment, but she found it all incredibly attractive. He looked grown up, mature, and more of a man than Luke had ever looked to her. She'd jump his bones right there and then if she could.

"I don't know; it's the football guys, plus some of the other rich boys. Maybe fifteen?" Percy just nodded, his mind still clearly racing.

"Any of them gonna bring weapons?" he asked. Annabeth stopped breathing for a second. Weapons? How serious was this getting? She really hoped Percy knew what he was doing. Beckendorf looked equally surprised.

"What, why-"

"Just answer the question?" Percy interrupted immediately. He wasn't messing around; Annabeth could tell this was serious now.

"Uh- no, no they won't." Annabeth agreed, Luke and his friends thought they were tough, but they'd never think to bring weapons. Percy's mind went back to racing; Annabeth could see him working it all out.

"Percy," Beckendorf broke him out of his trance, "what are you doing?" Percy stared at him, a look of annoyance on his face.

"What do you think?" it was a rhetorical question, before Beckendorf could even answer Percy continued, "You think I'm just gonna let them all turn up here and try to intimidate me? No no no, they wanna play with fire, they're gonna get fuckin' burned." Percy looked angry; Annabeth had never seen him like this. Always so composed and laid back, seeing this side of him could've scared her, but it didn't. This was also part of who he was. This was his home, and his family and Luke thought he could just bowl up and get what he wanted. As far as Annabeth was concerned, Percy was completely justified. Beckendorf looked like he didn't recognise him. But he looked scared of who he saw. He must've felt like he was staring at some distorted mirror; showing him what his future could've been.

"What if something bad happ-" he started to say, before Percy cut him off, now shouting.

"Beckendorf, they're threatening me! If another gang walked through our gates like that we'd consider it an act of fuckin' war! I'm not gonna let this go. They want a poor kid to fight? They're gonna get a whole bunch of 'em." Quickly, he moved over to Annabeth, and as if forgetting Beckendorf was in the room, cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. Annabeth could feel Beckendorf look away awkwardly, but she couldn't care less.

"Hey," Percy whispered to her, "I'm sorry about all this. Just trust me, stay here and I'll be back in about twenty minutes, okay?" he still looked serious, and Annabeth nodded her agreement. She did trust him, this was his world, he knew what he was doing. That's what she kept telling herself. Percy went for the door, but was stopped by a question.

"What are you gonna do?" Beckendorf asked again. Annabeth still couldn't believe he hadn't put it together, or maybe he didn't want to. After all, had his mother not left, Beckendorf could've easily been on Percy's side of it. That must've been hard to come to terms with, Annabeth thought.

Percy turned, and smiled, for the first time since Beckendorf had interrupted him and Annabeth. The two of them lying together, comfortable in each other's arms, seemed like quite a while ago now. He looked not at Beckendorf, who'd asked the question, but at Annabeth. Grey on green.

"I'm gonna send a message." Annabeth smiled back, silently offering him her support. With that, Percy left, leaving both of them quite awkwardly standing in his apartment.

Annabeth waited around Percy's apartment, using the time to have a look around. She wanted to get to know it; it already had that homey feel. As she explored all the various nooks and crannies of the place, Beckendorf sat quietly on the sofa. He'd tried to talk to Annabeth at first, just after Percy had left. He'd kept asking her what Percy was up to, what she thought would happen, what had really happened that morning at school. He worked out pretty quickly that Annabeth didn't want to talk. She was too wrapped up in her own thoughts to give proper answers, and now the two of them sat in silence, in an apartment that wasn't theirs.

Annabeth was a strange mix of scared and calm. She was obviously scared for Percy. I mean, hell, fifteen or so guys were on their way here right now looking for him. That was a little worrying to say the least. She didn't want him to get hurt, and the image of Luke standing over Percy, punch after punch destroying his perfect face kept flashing in her mind. But then she remembered all the stories Percy had told, and that Nico had told, and she thought to the Percy she'd seen fifteen minutes ago. He'd not looked like anyone you should be worried about. And Annabeth remembered him telling her to trust him, and she did. That's where her calmness came from. She really did trust Percy, she knew he was doing what he had to do right now. She really hoped it didn't come to that, and she felt like she knew Percy well enough by now to believe that he did too. And he trusted her now too. She couldn't describe how happy that made her. When he had told her what he'd actually done to that drug dealer, earlier in Nico's room, she felt her walls crash down. He hadn't made up some story to try and come across as better. He embraced who he was. She respected that, and truly felt in that moment they'd reached another level in their relationship. He was someone she could be completely open with, and that excited her no end. She'd struggled to keep her hands off him after that. When they eventually got away, just the two of them, it had been incredible. When it came to the bedroom, Percy was-

"Hey," Beckendorf called from the front room, breaking that particular train of thought, "what if his mom comes home?" It was a valid question. She would definitely have some questions if she opened the door and found two people she didn't recognise in her apartment, and not her son.

"We hope she doesn't." Annabeth replied, walking back into the front room. She sat down next to Beckendorf.

"What's Percy's mom like?" she asked. Beckendorf looked at her puzzled. "I'm just assuming you knew her, y'know, before."

"Yeah, I remember her a little bit." He paused, and Annabeth gave him a look that said carry on. "Well, uh, she was always baking. That's what I remember anyway. She used to bake us these blue cookies. I would run home to my mom and tell her I had Sally's blue cookies again, and beg her to make some. But only Sally ever baked cookies that good. She was always happy, fun loving, warm. Warm's the word I think of most. Other than the cookies, I don't remember much else." Annabeth sat silently. She imagined Percy's mom walking through the door, and just greeting her with the biggest hug in the world. Sally. She'd never even met her, but the way Percy described her made Annabeth wish she had a mother like that. She desperately hoped Sally would like her. It was odd to feel so attached to someone she'd never met, but then again Annabeth was experiencing lots of new feelings recently.

All of a sudden, the door flew open again, and Percy waltzed back in, looking breezy as the day. Annabeth jumped up to see him, wrapping him in a big hug.

"Okay, we made some calls to friends in other estates, and they told us they've seen a gang of rich looking kids driving around looking for someone. Beckendorf," Percy turned him, and affectionately put his hand on his shoulder, "thank you for telling me. You've done more than you know." He smiled, but Beckendorf didn't. In another tone, those same words could've sounded a lot more threatening. Still, he held out his hand, and he and Percy shook. "Mind giving us a minute?" he asked, indicating to himself and Annabeth. Beckendorf nodded, and walked out the door.

Percy and Annabeth stood in silence for a while, just taking in each other's company. It was Annabeth who eventually broke the silence.

"Do you know what you're doing?" she asked. She was not playing around, she didn't want the details of what he was about to do, just wanted to know that he was sure.

"Yeah" was all he uttered. They kissed again. When Percy pulled away, he took a deep breath. "Look," he gripped her hands as he spoke, "you can choose what you wanna do here. If you want to stay out of the whole thing, you're more than welcome to stay in here. If you want to watch, I'm cool with that too." She could tell he knew what her answer would be straight away.

"I want to see what happens," she said, and it was a fair point. She was a part of this too. She wasn't going to hide away from her problems anymore. She wanted to see just what Percy had planned for Luke. She wanted that boy to learn that he couldn't get away with acting like this.

"You can watch from the balcony out front, stay up there." He said, earning him a funny look. "It's for your safety," he told her, "anything could happen down there." Annabeth saw he wasn't joking, and agreed. She realised that the worst thing she could do right now was worry Percy any more.

"I'll see you right after this Chase, don't you worry." He spoke confidently again, as he led her outside. Beckendorf was still waiting there.

"Hey man," Percy said to him, "you can head home if you want, or you can come help me out. Your call." Beckendorf look sadly at Percy. He didn't say anything, just patted Percy on the shoulder. As he walked away, he turned and called back.

"Good luck." And you could tell he meant it. He turned a corner, and it was just Percy and Annabeth again.

"Smart guy…" Percy muttered to himself, pulling Annabeth in for a hug.

"Good luck." She whispered softly, and they shared one more, brief kiss, before Percy went the same way as Beckendorf, off to do what he had to. Annabeth walked towards the balcony ledge and leaned against it. She had a view of the whole courtyard. The buildings enclosed it, with a big pathway leading to the entrance. Nothing extravagant, there were a couple of benches scattered around, and some very old looking basketball hoops at either end. Neither had a net. It was getting dark now, and the grey concrete was lit by the yellow tinge of street lighting. Olympus had this otherworldly feel. It didn't look like anywhere else Annabeth knew. It was like a setting straight out of a dystopian future. She wasn't trying to demean it, because it had another quality. It had an air to it, an air of loyalty. Everyone here knew, loved and trusted each other. The whole place was like one huge family; you could see that much from just how people interacted. At first, Annabeth had been so intimidated by it. She thought she would never get over the initial wall, the one that outsiders couldn't see past. But today, with Percy, she had seen a new side to the place. She was starting to like it here.

Down below her, she saw Percy turn a corner into the courtyard. He walked briskly, almost with a jump in his step. Annabeth had rarely seen him look so comfortable. This was nothing like the angry, tense boy who'd shouted at Beckendorf. She was surprised at how quickly and easily he could change. From where she stood, she watched as Percy walked over to a bench and sat down. Once down, he hardly moved, but even from her distance, Annabeth could just about make out his eyes, darting left to right. She always seemed to find those sea green eyes.

Annabeth was so preoccupied with watching Percy, she didn't notice that, a few doors down, a door had opened. Calypso walked up to the railing. Annabeth didn't notice her until she was practically next to her. She jumped, and instantly wanted to step back. She still remembered what this girl had said to her, and she had the sudden urge to just punch her. It was actually looking at Calypso's face that made Annabeth not. When she got a proper look, she wasn't quite sure how to react. The girl's beautiful dark almond eyes were large, almost popping out of her skull, and her pupils were huge. They kept rolling up into her skull every so often. She looked happy. Her jaw looked tense, she was gurning a bit, and she looked slightly sweaty. Annabeth could tell she was on something.

"Relax, I'm not here to fight with you." When she spoke, she sounded a strange mix of relaxed, interested and completely out of it. She leaned against the railing as Annabeth had done, and looked out over the estate, at Percy. Annabeth felt that jealousy again. "You've never seen him like this before, have you." Annabeth stayed silent. This didn't seem like the twisted girl she'd seen before. She was so softly spoken, and moved so elegantly. She was almost ghostly. Whatever Calypso was on was having a docile effect.

The silence between them became aware, and Calypso turned to Annabeth. Her focus kept being drawn away every so often, but Annabeth kept finding her large pupils. She couldn't not notice them.

"It's your body language. It gives it away." Calypso spoke before turning back to face the courtyard. "You look tense. You shouldn't be, Percy will be fine." She paused for a minute, before muttering, "he always is." Annabeth relaxed slightly, and took back her position by the railing, a little further away from Calypso. If Percy had noticed the two of them standing there, next to each other on the balcony, he didn't make it clear. He hadn't moved an inch from where he had been sitting. Annabeth kept darting her eyes to the right, she couldn't stop looking at Calypso. It must have been more obvious than she thought.

"Never seen anyone on happy pills before?" she asked, laughing as she did. Annabeth awkwardly looked down to the floor, several meters below. So that was it, ecstasy.

"Uh, no… no I haven't" Annabeth replied, looking back up, but only at Percy.

"Yeah, it can look a bit freaky at first. Are my eyes popping?" She asked. Annabeth still felt uncomfortable, she definitely didn't want to joke around with her new boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. The fact that she was on ecstasy only made the whole thing weirder.

"Yeah, a little bit." Annabeth replied. She decided that talking was better than the awkward silences.

"Yeah, I can feel my jaw going. I can't help it. I'm feeling a lot better than I look, trust me." Calypso still sounded so relaxed.

"It affects your face a lot." Annabeth said, trying to carry on the conversation. She wasn't sure what to say, she had after all, never been in a situation like this.

"Yeah, but it also opens up my emotions, makes me more empathetic. You get an urge to be friendly, where you feel like you can talk to anyone. It's like artificial love." Calypso really did sound like she was speaking from the heart. This was so wildly different to their first interaction Annabeth was struggling to comprehend it.

"It is only artificial though." Annabeth said. She hadn't tried to sound like a downer, but that's how it came across. Calypso sighed, and looked back across the courtyard pensively.

"Yeah," she said, almost mournfully, "it's only ever artificial." Annabeth suddenly felt a small bit of sympathy for Calypso. She still didn't like her, but hearing her, looking at her right now, she looked to Annabeth like someone who was fighting some serious demons. She remembered what she'd said to Percy earlier, about how she couldn't hold his growing up on Olympus against him. Did the same thing not apply to Calypso? She was dealing with her problems in her own way, maybe not a way Annabeth would, but they lived in completely different worlds. Sure, she didn't have to be so bitter and spiteful, but did she not also deserve the benefit of the doubt? Annabeth was so unsure.

"Honestly," Calypso spoke up, "it's probably the only reason I can tolerate talking to you right now. No offence." She laughed to herself again, Annabeth remaining quiet. Calypso was clearly not realising how awkward this conversation was, or choosing to ignore it. Maybe that was the ecstasy too. Stuff like that must've been so normal around here, it again reminded Annabeth just how different Olympus was to her world. She knew loads of rich kids who experimented recreationally with various drugs. Looking at Calypso, Annabeth could tell this wasn't just recreational. Calypso carried on speaking.

"You don't like me," she said, matter-of-factly, "I get it, I don't like you either. We hardly had the best introduction." Annabeth almost laughed, that was an understatement. She remained quiet; actually quite interested to hear where Calypso was going with this. Annabeth wasn't sure if she was in for a simple, if slightly awkward conversation or a drug-fueled rant. Calypso carried on, "I'm not here to say let's be friends. I'm here because Percy's important to me. He's sweeter and kinder and more sensitive than he knows. There's another boy, under that hard exterior. That's what this place does, it hardens you." Calypso sounded sad again. Annabeth wanted to be jealous that she was speaking so affectionately about her boyfriend, but she had a feeling that she needed to hear what Calypso was going to say.

"I can't help it, I get protective over him. I don't think he ever thinks about things sometimes, and that frustrates me. That's why I got so mad at you, it wasn't personal, well not entirely; I just lose my mind around him sometimes. It's just because I love him." Annabeth stopped breathing. She loved him? The fucking nerve of this girl. Calypso looked at Annabeth's reaction and laughed, she must not have disguised her anger well. "Not like that." She said, trying to ease Annabeth's mind. "Well, sometimes like that. But that's not the point. I've known him most of my life, he means a lot. I'm not trying to steal him from you or anything like that. No, I don't think you two will ever work out, but he's gotta figure that out on his own. Nothing I can say or do will change that boy's mind." Annabeth felt uncomfortable again, it hurt to have someone say these kinds of things to your face.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence. Y'know you're hardly perfect for him either." Annabeth replied, ready to defend herself and her relationship.

"This isn't about me wanting him." Calypso spat back. She was still visibly feeling the ecstasy, but the nice tone in her voice was gone, replaced with an edge. "I want Percy to be happy. He deserves that. If you make him happy, I can accept that. But one day you won't. And I'm here to tell you, the day you hurt him, I'll be there. And I will hunt you down, and you'll regret ever meeting Percy Jackson." She spoke so calmly. It made her threat scarier. Annabeth knew that she wasn't joking either. This girl had some serious mood swings. It looked so odd, being threatened by someone who looked so happy and out-of-it. Yet Annabeth had heard the ever-so-slight tint of malice behind the words. Just as she had never seen a place like Olympus, Annabeth had never met a person like Calypso. She scared her more than anyone else she'd ever met. She still remembered before, how Calypso had cut her open with her words, seemingly knowing every insecurity Annabeth had about herself. If she wasn't so horrible, Annabeth might have enjoyed talking to her. Then again, all she'd really done is be honest to Annabeth's face, did that mean she was horrible? At least she wasn't pretending to be nice and trying to manipulate Percy behind her back. When Calypso said she wasn't trying to steal Percy away, Annabeth believed her. Was she too trusting? Or did this girl simply have a different way of seeing the world? Realising she'd let another awkward silence engulf them, Annabeth replied.

"I don't want to hurt him." She said. The words came from her heart, it was the last thing she ever wanted to do.

"Y'know it's funny, I think I almost believe you." Calypso muttered, and that hurt Annabeth. Why did what Calypso thought of her bother her so much? Perhaps, in her mind, Percy and Calypso and Olympus and Nico and everything here was all connected. You couldn't have one without the other. She'd come so far into Percy's world today, but Calypso reminded her that she was still an outsider. "You may not want to hurt him, but that doesn't mean you won't." Calypso didn't sound bitter or angry anymore, more melancholic if anything. She was right, in a sense. Relationships could get messy; there was no blueprint to follow. But that didn't mean they had to be bad. Annabeth believed in herself and Percy, she gave them a chance, even if no one else did.

"I'm not going to hurt him." She said. Yet, it sounded odd, not quite right. She had tried to speak confidently, but it came out completely wrong. She sounded quiet, doubtful. Why? Annabeth suddenly became a little self-conscious. Calypso clearly noticed too. She turned her huge brown eyes to Annabeth, a small smirk on her lips. Or was it just a smile, an effect of the drugs, Annabeth could hardly tell.

"Even you didn't believe that." She was right, Annabeth suddenly doubted herself, something she hadn't really done since she left her family dinner the Friday before. Did she really think she'd end up hurting Percy? It wasn't something she'd even considered before this. Then, the thought crossed her mind, what if this was all some big game from Calypso? She'd come over, lowered Annabeth's guard slightly, and started planting seeds of doubt. It wouldn't surprise her. Annabeth remembered back to her first encounter with Calypso again, she'd sworn the girl was evil that day. She'd looked inside Annabeth and torn her apart. This could very easily be another play. Annabeth suddenly felt a foolish for trusting Calypso at all. Calypso, for her part, hadn't changed her demeanor. She was still staring out over the yard, still visibly affected by the drugs. Annabeth wondered how long it lasted.

"Here we go," Calypso spoke, dragging Annabeth out of her own thoughts, "here comes the cavalry." She spoke sarcastically. As Annabeth looked back to the estate, she saw a large group of guys walking from some parked cars, right to where Percy was sitting. Luke was at the head of the pack. She could make out Jason and the Stoll brothers, she recognised all the other guys as well. Even from this distance, they looked big, imposing. Percy had noticed, but still hadn't moved. Suddenly faced with actually seeing a group of this size, Annabeth felt that gut fear. She hoped Percy would be okay. She must've appeared tense, or tenser than she already did.

"Like I said," Calypso said to her, the trace of malice no longer present in her voice, "Percy will be okay. Trust me, I've seen him survive worse than this." Annabeth still wasn't convinced though. She knew that in this state, Luke was capable of anything. He'd proved how far he would go to protect his image already. Annabeth also knew that at least some of those bigger rich kids had started using steroids, and were probably looking for any opportunity to show off their newfound strength. She silently prayed that Percy's plan, whatever it was, worked. Luke was fast approaching the bench where Percy sat. As his gang entered the open courtyard, Percy shot up. He looked agile, quick and kept his distance.

"Jackson!" Luke shouted, which turned a few heads. From where Annabeth stood, she could hear every word. Luke's boys had formed into a sort of triangle. They all looked around, examining their surroundings. Annabeth wondered if Olympus seemed as intimidating to them as it did to her first time. They didn't seem to be nervous, she hoped to god Percy made them regret that.

"Oh, hey Luke," Percy called back, not appearing phased in the slightest, "I heard you might be rolling through." He stayed where he was, a good couple of meters away. Luke looked furious, and started flexing his muscles slightly. He muttered something to his guys. Annabeth couldn't make out what. They all laughed, and glanced at Percy.

"Percy's got this one." Calypso spoke, she sounded confident. Annabeth wasn't sure why. She was still nervous as hell, and looking down at Luke and his guys didn't do anything to ease her mind.

"How do you know?" she asked, curious.

"I've seen enough fights here over the years. If you have to bring that many friends, just to take on one guy, you ain't doing shit." Annabeth still wasn't so sure. Maybe Calypso was right, but she wasn't letting herself relax just yet.

"Trust me. Percy's not alone down there." Calypso said, it was like she sensed Annabeth's lingering unease. How was this girl so good at reading her? It was like she was a book. Annabeth looked back down, to where the action was about to go down. Luke was still whispering, the guys still snickering. This was hardly what Annabeth had expected. Percy was standing around, looking a bit bored.

"Do they usually start like this?" Annabeth asked Calypso, who laughed to herself.

"Why? Not enough blood for you?" she could tell Annabeth wasn't in the mood. "Okay not the time for jokes" she muttered to herself, before answering. "No, those rich kids have no idea what they're doing. They're all talk."

"How can you tell?" Annabeth asked. She was too nervous to stand silently watching nothing. She needed a quick distraction, even if it meant talking to Calypso. For her part, Calypso seemed happy to talk too.

"If they really wanted to beat him up they'd have marched straight up to him, they wouldn't be doing all this posing and looking tough. They're talkers, they want to let you know how dangerous they are, what they're gonna do to you, rather than actually show you. Percy loves a talker, around here they eat talkers alive." Annabeth kind of understood what Calypso meant. She'd expected a brawl, but now she had a feeling she was in for something completely different. That all depended on Percy. When she looked back down, she saw Percy wasn't looking at Luke, but up at her. He was smiling, and she made out a wink. She felt a heave in her chest, and suddenly she was a bit more relaxed. His seeming confidence eased her mind. Calypso noticed too, although she made no indication as to whether it bothered her.

"Come on Luke," Percy called to him, drawing everyone's attention. By now, there were multiple onlookers, scattered across the estate. "What's so funny? Why don't you share with the class?" he was mocking him, showing him he wasn't afraid. Luke looked at him angrily, and started pacing in front of the group.

"We're just deciding what order we're gonna punch you in the face." He said aggressively, hitting his fist into his palm as he spoke. Jason behind him started to get agitated, clearly wanting that to begin. Percy just stared at them, never breaking eye contact with Luke. Luke took his silence as cue to continue to monologue.

"Percy, you got some balls, I'll give you that. First, you try, and fail" he emphasized the 'fail' loudly, "to beat me and my buddies up with your chicken-shit cousin. Now you think you can threaten my girlfriend into leaving me. I ought to rip your fucking head off for just looking at her. I mean seriously, did you think I wouldn't find you? That if you ran outta school, you'd be safe from me?" Annabeth couldn't believe what she was hearing; did Luke actually believe his own lies? He looked silly, walking back and forth as he carried on ranting about how he was going to get Annabeth back and beat up Percy, smacking his fist in his palm the whole time. Percy, on the other hand, began to laugh. This irritated Luke no end.

"What?! What are you laughing at you little asshole?" By now more people had gathered on the various balconies, enjoying the show. Some were pointing and laughing, but Luke hadn't seemed to notice. Annabeth wondered if the Olympians had seen many confrontations like this.

"I'm gonna be honest with you buddy, you look really stupid pacing back and forth like that." Percy said, before laughing to himself again. Even from this distance Annabeth was sure she could see one of Luke's veins popping out.

"Okay you've fuckin' done it now-" he began to start shouting, but Percy cut him off.

"Shut the fuck up!" he shouted with authority. Luke was so shocked, that for a split second he actually did, and Percy carried on. "What did you think would happen when you came here huh? You think you were just gonna walk in here, leave me in a pool of blood and drive the fuck back to your cosy fuckin' mansions? You really got no idea where you are, do you?" Percy stared at them all, and Annabeth could see the power shift. Some of the guys stared noticing the crowds. They moved in a bit closer to each other. Luke was still staring at Percy. He looked frustrated. Annabeth was enjoying this. None of them chose to answer, so Percy carried on.

"You want your girlfriend?" He asked him, before pointing up to Annabeth. "She's right there, go on, call her, tell her she can leave with you guys." Every head watching turned to the balcony, all the eyes suddenly glued to Annabeth. Calypso laughed under her breath as Annabeth stepped back a little, overwhelmed slightly. She made eye contact with Luke. He didn't look angry, he looked surprised, scared, and upset. Maybe he hadn't expected to see her, or hadn't prepared himself to. Either way, he looked like he'd just been shot. He carried on staring like an idiot, not saying a word.

"What is it Luke?" Percy called, turning the attention back to him. "Do you not want her back? Oh, you still think she's too scared to leave, that I'll hurt her or something. Is that it? Don't worry, I'm not gonna touch her. Hey Annabeth!" he called up to her now. "You're free to go! Don't worry, Luke will take you home. You wanna go with Luke?" Annabeth laughed and shook her head. Percy clearly loved this, he didn't seem like he was taking this seriously at all. "What do you know? She likes it here. Who'd have guessed?" and he laughed again. At that, Luke began to move forward at Percy, his boys ready to follow suit. Quick as a cheetah, Percy jerked back, maintaining his distance.

"Whoa whoa there, let's not get too excited now. You don't wanna do something you'll regret." He had no joke to his tone now; he was dead serious. The smile and relaxed demeanor were gone instantly, along with the witty jokes.

"The only person-" Luke began.

"Stop with the bullshit threats. This isn't Hollywood, you're in the wrong area. Don't you get that? You think people can just come down here and act like they own the place? Those people usually learn their lesson the hard way. But I don't want to fight you Luke. Okay? Do you get that? I'm gonna give you guys the benefit of the doubt, you didn't know there are certain rules about how you act in Olympus. So we're gonna give you one chance, right now, to walk out of here, and forget this whole thing ever happened."

"Who's 'we'? I only see you out here" Luke called back. Percy just smiled.

"I'm so glad you asked." Percy replied cockily. Then, out of his pocket, he pulled out a baseball. His eyes moved back, past Luke and his gang, to one of the basketball hoops at the far end of the yard. Percy took one step and threw the ball full strength. Every eye watching followed it, and saw as it crashed against the backboard. The crash was loud, the old metal plate rattled. The sound practically echoed around the silent estate. It must have been a signal, because no sooner had the ball hit the board than a large group began filtering into the yard from the various alleys and corners. Had they been waiting there the whole time? Annabeth looked down and she could see boys, and even some girls, mostly around Percy's age. There must have been close to thirty. Annabeth could make out Nico, plus Bianca. She saw Percy's huge brother Tyson, he looked humungous even with the distance. They all started forming a sort of ring, all around Percy, Luke and the others. It really was quite impressive to look at. Percy was looking around, smiling at everyone. Annabeth had to admit, it was quite an impressive plan. Even Calypso had let out a little laugh.

"He's cleverer than he looks." She muttered. By now the whole group of Olympians had formed a circle around them all, with a gap leading off to the gates, where the Goode boy's cars were still parked. Luke and his friends were huddled even closer together. All their confidence was gone. Being faced with thirty angry looking gang members would probably do that to the best of people. Their eyes kept nervously darting around, as if waiting for the attack at any minute. If Percy did decide to go down that route, they wouldn't stand a chance.

"So what do you say? Luke? We'll let you walk outta here now, no hard feelings. Besides, fancy cars like yours left out in this area, they're liable to get stolen. I'm looking out for you." Percy spoke with authority; he was trying to end this now. Luke looked like he wanted to respond, but one wrong word and he and his friends would be in very deep shit. No, he stayed silent. Annabeth had never seen him look so weak, defeated. At Goode, Luke was a king. Percy had made him look like a mouse. "Come on Luke, turn around, stick your tail between your legs and get the fuck off my doorstep."

Slowly, Luke began to turn. As he did, he looked up at Annabeth one more time. She tried to send him her most spiteful look; she wasn't even sure if he could tell. Seeing him look this humiliated, after how nasty he'd been to her since Friday, brought Annabeth some enjoyment. But it was bittersweet. It was still sad to see Luke act like this. The fact that Percy had embarrassed him only made it worse. As he and his friends began to filter out, heading back to their cars quite quickly, Annabeth was glad to see the back of them. Once there, Luke and Jason turned around one more time. The Olympians had all lined up, forming a sort of wall. They were still staring, all with the same, hard facial expression. The two boys quickly got back in Luke's Audi, started the engines, and sped off, back into the New York streets. The sounds of their cars slowly faded away into the distance. Good riddance, Annabeth thought to herself.

Down on the courtyard, the Olympians began to filter back into the alleys they'd come from. Some climbed the stairways to various apartments across the buildings, some stayed to shoot some hoops. A few were stopping to chat to Percy, who was standing with Nico and a group of other boys. He kept glancing up at Annabeth, she was sure he'd be up as soon as he could. She looked up at the sky, it was dark now, the late autumn cold finally being felt. Annabeth hadn't even noticed how much her heart had been pumping. Adrenaline had been rushing through her, and she'd only been watching. This was definitely a Monday she would remember for a while. Calypso turned to face her. She still looked happy as anything.

"He's good. I've not seen a move like that before." She sounded impressed.

"What do you mean?" Annabeth asked, puzzled.

"They usually just fight. If you're stupid enough to want to fight him, Percy and the others will just beat the hell out of you. Never seen them avoid it before." That made Annabeth think. If that were true, she was desperate to know why. Honestly, she'd just expected them to start brawling too. Suddenly she felt guilty, like she'd stereotyped Percy. She'd assumed he would just respond with violence, because that's what every story he'd told indicated. She hadn't even considered that he'd think of another way. Of course he was clever enough to think this up, she'd practically seen gears spinning in his head the moment Beckendorf had told them.

"Don't ask why, but I'm gonna give you some advice." Calypso was staring at Annabeth with those huge almond eyes, they were still 'popping', as she'd put it. Annabeth stared back, curious. What advice could she possibly give Annabeth. Calypso continued. "I know you like him, but be careful. He's like the ocean; you go too deep and you don't come back up. He might not mean to, but he'll end up doing something, and other people in his life suffer."

They stood together awkwardly for a second. Then Calypso smiled, and tilted her head slightly. Then, without saying a word, she turned around, pushed her door open and walked through, into the darkness of her apartment. Annabeth was left dumbfounded. What had Calypso meant by that? Was this all just one huge game, or was she genuinely looking out for Annabeth? At this point, Annabeth gave up, she could never understand this girl.

Annabeth looked down and saw that the courtyard was practically empty. Percy was nowhere in sight; that must mean he was on his way up. As if on cue, Annabeth caught sight of a mop of raven hair out of the corner of her eye. She turned to see Percy bounding towards her, a smile spread across his face. She returned it, and practically jumped into his arms.

"How'd I do?" he asked, leaning in for a quick kiss. Annabeth returned it, and beamed up at her new boyfriend. She really was quite proud of him.

"Well I certainly didn't expect that." She laughed, and Percy laughed too.

"Yeah, lemme guess, you thought we'd all jump them the second they turned up?"

"Something like that." She leaned in closer, enjoying being close to him again. "I'm pleasantly surprised. How did you know you'd hit the board with the baseball though?" He just smiled cockily.

"Please," he said, "I've made that shot a hundred times." He was trying to sound jokingly arrogant, but his tone quickly changed. "I saw you up here with Calypso, everything okay?" he looked at her worried. He clearly remembered how fragile she'd been after their first encounter. Annabeth nodded, although she wasn't sure if 'okay' was the word.

"We didn't argue. She came out to talk; she was on ecstasy. It was actually pretty awkward." Annabeth laughed, but Percy just rolled his eyes. Hearing that had clearly bothered him. Annabeth didn't know if that was something she should be concerned with or not. She decided to leave it, for now at least, remembering back to what Calypso had said. The two of them had known each other practically their whole lives, knowing or hearing that someone like that was abusing drugs was bound to have an impact. The two stood in silence, before Annabeth decided to ask a question she'd been wondering the answer too for a while now.

"With Calypso," she began, "how does she always know what's going on in your head?" Percy pondered it for a second. Annabeth clarified, "Not yours specifically. It's just every time she talks, she seems to know exactly what I'm feeling; it's like she can read me like that." Percy thought about it for a second, and just laughed under his breath.

"Honestly, I don't know either. It's just one of her special powers. You get used to it." Annabeth wasn't sure she wanted to get used to it. If she never spoke to the girl again she doubted she'd feel left out.

"Okay, enough about Calypso." Percy smiled again, and Annabeth felt that tug in her chest every time she saw it. "It's getting cold," he continued, "wanna go inside? I can walk you home in a bit if you want?"

"I haven't even been home yet." She just realised. Since storming out on Friday she'd hardly even thought about going home. It was odd, she suddenly felt no attachment to it. It was honestly the last place she wanted to go right now.

"I'm happy to stay, if you want?" she asked, giving him slight puppy dog eyes. She knew he wouldn't be able to resist. In one motion, he picked Annabeth up and practically carried her to his door. She was playfully fighting back, but only so slightly. She didn't want their day together to end just yet. She wasn't ready. Percy opened the door, he dropped Annabeth back to the floor. They kissed as they walked through, slamming the door behind them.

(Video) Yo-kai Watch 3 - Part 51: FROGETMENOT SECRET QUEST! (100% Walkthrough)

Chapter 17

Chapter Text


6:00 AM.

Friday morning. Anyone who works a regular nine-to-five will tell you that the two best days to wake up to are payday and Friday. Any Friday. It doesn't matter if it's winter or summer, if you love your job or hate it, if you've got plans for the evening or not. Waking up is always that bit easier when it's a Friday. It's the exact reason school students' worldwide spend the day watching their clocks tick by, minute-by-minute, waiting for that bell. The thought of the weekend, two whole days to do whatever you want, is what drives most through their Friday's. These were the thoughts going through Percy Jackson's head as he awoke in his dark room, alarm ringing. It was getting closer to winter now, and the sun was breaking through the blinds later and later every day. Percy hated waking up in the dark, usually flicking his light on, stretching and dropping to do his morning workout immediately. This particular Friday, however, Percy wasn't in such a rush. He wasn't alone. As he opened his eyes, and began to make out his surroundings, he spotted the long blonde hair draped over his arm.


Percy laughed to himself; his arm had gone dead. She began stirring. The alarm was still ringing. Percy flicked his bedside light on and slowly pulled his arm out from under his girlfriend. As he stood up and stretched, shaking his arm about to get the blood flowing, he watched Annabeth. She was nearly completely up now, wiping the sleep out of her eyes and sitting up.

Annabeth had been staying with Percy since Monday, when they'd snuck out of school. After the whole fiasco with Luke, Percy and Annabeth had spent pretty much the rest of the evening the same way they'd spent the day. They watched TV, ate some terrible microwave dinner Percy had prepared and talked and talked until Sally got home from work. Sally, much to Percy's delight, absolutely loved Annabeth. The two got on like a house on fire. Convincing her to let Annabeth stay had been hard, but Percy knew that she'd eventually give in. The decision was very impulsive. Annabeth had decided she simply wasn't ready to go home yet. While most seventeen year old's would kill for a week away from their parents, Percy felt like Annabeth actually needed this. Once she'd explained to Sally the situation with her mom and her desire to start taking control of her own life, she'd eventually won her over. Percy had seen why Annabeth was top of all her classes. The girl was straight up clever, and could seemingly argue any point she wanted with no preparation needed. And Percy couldn't have been more delighted. She'd decided to spend the whole week, her parent's still thinking she was at Thalia's.

As Percy looked down at her now, barely awake and messy haired, he couldn't believe how far they'd come that week. He was still amazed she was his girlfriend. She was mesmerizing; intelligent, funny, confident and caring all at the same time. The fact that she was drop dead gorgeous, even at this early hour, straight out of bed, was just an added bonus. As she got her bearings, he caught her eye. They were both instantly wide-awake. It was as if electricity shot between their eyes and through their whole body. If they didn't have school, Percy was sure they'd go at it right then and there. She smiled at him playfully.

"You just gonna keep staring at me?" she asked, a twinkle in her eye.

"I'm just waiting for you to grow a big pair of horns." He replied plainly, making her laugh.

"You like a girl with horns?" she joked back.

"No," he laughed, "but there's gotta be something wrong with you. No one's this perfect." He winked at her and smirked as she blushed slightly despite the deliberate cheesiness. He began to stretch properly, ready to do his morning workout. Annabeth being here didn't change everything. As Percy got down into the push up position, Annabeth spoke up.

"Uh, aren't you forgetting something?" she spoke politely and quietly, but still playfully. Percy knew full well what she wanted. He could only laugh and indulge her.

"As you wish." He lightheartedly retorted, as he pulled his shirt over his head and threw it at her lightly. She batted it away, but slowly ran her eyes over Percy's fairly well built torso. The various scars had made Percy slightly self-conscious at first, but he could tell that they didn't bother Annabeth. They didn't freak her out, and they didn't heavily turn her on like some girls Percy had been with. That always made him feel weird. No, she seemed more intrigued than anything, and had insisting on hearing some of the stories behind them. She was genuinely interested too; she had been trying to find out every last detail about Percy all week. He'd been happy to share most, but some areas, like Calypso and his father, he still tactfully dodged. He did want to tell her eventually, it just wasn't the right time.

Percy got back down to the floor again, and began the press-ups. Annabeth watched the whole time, clearly enjoying her view. It made Percy laugh; he couldn't deny that he kind of enjoyed it. They'd been becoming incredibly intimate all week, hardly being able to keep their hands off each other at times. That said, with them not being alone in the apartment they had shown a certain level of restraint. If it weren't for Sally being home too, they may very well have occupied all of their time together with each other.

When Percy finished, he got up and practically dragged Annabeth up. As she headed for the shower, Percy walked through his apartment to the kitchen. His mom was already up and ready, dressed in her candy shop uniform. She looked tired, and was sipping at a cup of coffee.

"Morning," Percy said as he entered, heading straight for the fridge.

"Morning sweetie," Sally replied, "you two sleep well last night?" Percy nodded. She had very quickly gotten used to Annabeth staying round. As Percy began pouring himself a bowl of cereal he thought about that. He couldn't put into words how much he appreciated how cool she'd been about the whole thing. Most mothers would laugh if their teenage son asked to let their new girlfriend stay round, before telling them to stop being stupid. Sally was different though, she was understanding and kind, and she'd been able to tell straight away that it was more for Annabeth than it was for Percy. Percy guessed it must have been a maternal thing, or perhaps a female intuition. Either way, she'd been nothing but accommodating. That was why the two of them had shown her enough respect to keep their hands off of each other, at least for the most part.

"I'm opening the shop today, so I'm off out in a few minutes." Sally told her son, finishing her coffee and leaving the mug in the sink. "Make sure you clean your bowl." She always had that mothering tone ready. Percy just laughed and agreed.

"What time are you back tonight?" Percy asked.

"I was actually meaning to talk to you about-" Sally began to speak, but Annabeth's entry distracted her. Wrapped in a dressing gown, drying her hair with a towel, she looked as stunning as ever. She smiled warmly at Sally as she entered.

"How did you sleep my love?" Sally asked, turning her complete attention to Annabeth. Percy was still thinking about what his mother wanted to talk about.

"Great thanks Sally," Annabeth replied, "I honestly can't thank you enough for this week. I've had such a good time." She was being honest too, which made Percy happy. He'd never have thought Annabeth would fit in so much at Olympus, particularly after her first time here. Yet, looking at her now, fresh out of the shower, waltzing around the kitchen, she looked like she belonged. She walked past Percy and into the kitchen, where she began to tidy up everything Percy had forgotten to.

"I told you to clean up after yourself Percy." Sally said, telling him off but only in that way mothers do when they've said the same thing hundreds of times over the years. Annabeth just laughed.

"Always got to look after this one, don't we." She said, causing Sally to laugh.

"I've always said that this apartment needed another woman." Sally joked. Percy was stood between the two women in his life, and found himself just taking their jokes. He was happy to in all honesty. He just wanted to enjoy his time with Annabeth today, annoyed that it couldn't last longer. Some might think they were moving ridiculously fast, after all it wasn't normal for a couple to move in together for their first week of officially dating. But in all honesty they hadn't even thought about it like that, it all felt so natural. They'd both decided a week was long enough to spend away, and make Annabeth's mom regret how she'd acted. Annabeth had talked to her brothers in school, they all knew she'd be back tonight. It was about time, probably even incredibly overdue, but that didn't mean Percy didn't wish he could freeze time, right here and now, just to savor every second.

"Mom," Percy spoke up, remembering that Sally had been about to say something. "What did you want to talk to me about?" She rarely had any big news at all, so something like this had peaked Percy's interest.

"Yeah," she said, straightening up slightly. She sounded quieter, almost nervous. "I would be grateful if you'd leave me the apartment tonight."

"Why?" Percy asked instantly, curious but sounding much more aggressive than he had intended. Sally looked a bit taken aback, and Percy quickly began to retract, but Annabeth jumped in before he could word anything.

"We'd be happy to Sally," she said, smiling understandingly. She gave Percy the eyes, eyes that said to keep his foot out of his mouth. "What's the occasion?" Annabeth just had a way about her. She seemed to be able to word everything perfectly, and had a charm in her voice that made you comfortable, and more willing to open up. Percy had been noticing it more and more, the more and more they found out about each other.

"Well, if you must know," she said, looking rather embarrassed. Percy had never seen his mom act like this; she appeared to be blushing slightly. "I'm having a friend of mine over for dinner."

"Which friend?" Percy asked, careful to watch his tone this time. The last thing he wanted was to upset his mom right before she went off to work.

"It's actually a man I've been seeing recently. His name's Paul. Paul Blofis." She looked happy, like telling her son had just taken a big weight off her chest. Percy, on the other hand, felt like that weight had just been dropped on him. A man? Sally had never so much as mentioned another man before. How had Percy not known? How long had his mom been dating? Was Paul the first guy she'd seen since Poseidon? Or was he just the first one she'd told Percy about? Were they serious? They must be pretty serious if she was inviting him round for dinner; asking for the apartment to herself. So many questions raced through Percy's head, but the first one he asked was perhaps the oddest of them all.

"Did you say Blowfish?" he asked, sounding very confused. Annabeth was clearly doing her best to hold in a laughing fit. Sally was smiling too. He must've looked as shocked as he felt.

"No honey," Sally said, looking relieved. Perhaps she'd expected Percy to get angry. But Percy wasn't his father, he was happy for her. "Blofis. No 'H' at the end." Percy just nodded, trying to process this. He couldn't imagine his mother seeing another guy; he could barely imagine her with his own father. Aware that there was a growing awkward silence, he spoke up.

"Uh, how long have you been seeing him?" he asked awkwardly, trying his best not to sound too shocked. It clearly wasn't working; both the women were still very amused.

"A few months, every now and then. I really like him, he's a teacher at a local school and came into the store a while back." Percy wasn't even sure why he'd asked, the last thing he wanted to do was hear his mom recount her dating life to him. What teenage boy would want to hear that? He just nodded, still looking completely bemused. Annabeth came to the rescue.

"We'll keep out of your hair, don't worry Sally." She said, still with an amused tone, as she took Percy's hand. "And we're happy for you. I hope you have a great time." Sally beamed and wrapped the blonde in a huge motherly hug. Percy thanked the Gods that she'd been here, he wasn't quite sure how he'd have made it through that conversation without her.

"Right, I'm off now, I hope you two have a good day. Annabeth sweetie," Sally turned to her, looking as proud and loving as though Annabeth were one of her own, "it's been an absolute pleasure having you. I'll see you soon, and look after this one." She said as she indicated to Percy. As she turned to walk out of the door, Percy called back to her. He didn't want her to think he was annoyed at her at all.

"Hey mom," he caught her eye as she turned back, "I hope you have fun" he said with a smile. He genuinely meant it. If anyone in this world deserved to have a night off it was Sally Jackson. Percy couldn't remember the last time she had taken a break. She was either always working or always being Percy's mom. That was a full time job in of itself. The only man Percy ever saw her interact with regularly was Poseidon, and that was hardly what he would call quality time. Honestly, Percy was overjoyed that Sally was getting out of Olympus and meeting new people.

"Thank you sweetie." She called back, giving her son one last loving smile before leaving for work. Percy and Annabeth were left in the apartment. The second the door closed, Annabeth burst out laughing. Clearly holding in her amusement had only made it build. Percy wasn't sure it was that funny, but her laugh was infectious enough to bring a smile to his face.

"You should've seen your face." She hooted, clearly still enjoying her boyfriend's discomfort.

"I just… didn't expect that." Percy said, trying to defend himself. Annabeth affectionately pulled him in for a quick kiss, wiping his mind clear for a second.

"She's gonna have a good time, you should be happy for her." She whispered, trying to ease his mind. Percy wasn't even sure what he was feeling. He wasn't angry, more shocked or confused. It was a strange feeling. He'd never even considered that his mom would date anyone; that was clearly an oversight.

"I know, I am happy for her," Percy replied, "it's just new, that's all. She's never asked for the apartment before."

"What would she want an empty apartment for?" Annabeth asked suggestively, clearly messing with Percy now.

"No, stop that. You are not making me think about that." Percy quickly retorted. He didn't want to imagine his mother doing anything other than hosting a very friendly dinner. Annabeth just laughed even more. "Do you think he's nice? This Paul guy I mean." Percy asked her. He couldn't help but try to picture him. He had literally no frame of reference though. He didn't know what kind of guys Sally had ever liked, other than his father, and Percy doubted Paul would be anything like Poseidon. For starters, he wouldn't be coming to a home cooked dinner if he was.

"Probably," Annabeth answered, "she said he was a teacher right? They're usually pretty normal. Hey, he might even be able to handle you." She quipped, earning a stern look.

"Hey, I'm not that bad." Percy said, although even as he spoke he didn't believe himself. No, there was probably a reason Sally hadn't told him about this until now. And as much as Percy knew she loved him, he didn't really blame her. He knew how he could come across to strangers.

"All I'm saying," Annabeth spoke softly as she walked close to Percy and wrapped her arms around his neck, "is that she seems genuinely excited, so don't ruin this for her. She's been nothing but kind to me, I mean come on she let me stay for the whole week. I swear to the gods if you mess this up for her you'll have me to deal with." She grinned at that last line, before planting a kiss on his lips.

"I promise." Percy said as he pulled away. Being this close to her was too much for him, he suddenly realised his hands were reaching lower and lower. Annabeth had noticed too, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"Y'know, there's no harm in being little late today, is there?" Percy propositioned suggestively, giving her that mischievous smirk he knew she loved.

"I guess not" Annabeth said, smiling back "lead the way." All of a sudden she jumped up onto Percy, wrapping her legs around his waist. He instantly grabbed her as their lips met again, and began walking to his bedroom. Yeah, Percy definitely loved Friday's.

They walked through the gates of Olympus slightly late, having taken longer than they had initially assumed. When they were around each other they did tend to lose all concept of time. Neither seemed to be rushing, chatting away without a care in the world. As they turned the corner quickly, Percy nearly walked head first into Grover. He was waiting right by the gate, tossing his rasta hat nervously between his hands, as he so often did. He had the usual baggy clothes look going on, and his constant worried look was spread across his face. Even around his friends and family, Grover would find something to be nervous about. It was basically a part of who he was. Seeing Percy and Annabeth, however, made him break out into a grin.

"Hey" he said, beaming. Percy was glad to see him, it had been far too long since just the two of them had hung out. He made a mental note to make some time for that at some point soon.

"Hey man, what are you doing here?" Percy asked, sounding genuinely happy.

"Well I thought I could walk to school with you guys today?" he asked, suddenly nervous again. "If you two don't mind that is?" It always kind of bothered Percy that Grover felt so uncomfortable asking his closest friends for anything. They'd always tried to make him realise that he was one of them, that they loved him, but it was just Grover's natural instincts. In a way, it was endearing too. He wore his emotions on his sleeve, and it made Grover one of the most genuine people you could meet. If he talked to you about anything, you could tell it was important to him.

"Of course we don't mind Grover," Annabeth replied, smiling at the boy, "I see enough of Percy anyway, I could do with some more interesting conversation." She joked and flashed a grin Percy's way. Once they'd given her a chance and actually met her, Percy's friends had really gotten on with Annabeth, and she loved them. They'd spent a lot of time together this past week, hanging out and getting to know her, and she had bonded with them all. But even Percy could tell she had a soft spot for Grover. Perhaps it was for that real honesty that made Grover so lovable, but whatever the reason the two got on like a house on fire. During her week at Olympus, Annabeth had made it a daily part of her routine for her and Percy to spend time with the awkward, anxious teen. Percy was more than happy to oblige, absolutely thrilled that his girlfriend and best friend got on so well. He'd seen more of Grover this past week than he had for probably the last month. That went for all of his friends to be honest. Initially, being at Goode meant that Percy saw less of them, and he'd begun to feel like an outsider in his own group. However, the past week had made him realise how much he valued those close to him, and he was determined to break that negative feeling and make more time for his pals again.

"So how's your day ahead looking?" Percy asked as they began walking.

"Same as any other Yancy day." Grover replied.

"So shit then." Percy retorted, causing both boys to burst out in laughter. Annabeth clearly felt slightly left out.

"What's Yancy like?" she asked after the boys cackles died down. Percy had another smart reply ready; when it came to Yancy Percy could talk trash for hours. Annabeth must've been able to read him though, because she quickly added "No jokes or anything, I'm actually interested." He could tell she wasn't lying either. Over the past week he'd begun to get used to her, her mannerisms, her inflections. Percy could tell when she was serious, when she was messing with him, and everything in between pretty well now. Her question made both boys pause. Percy struggled to word it, it had been so long since he'd been there, and all his memories were of wanting to leave. Now he actually had, he had a strange fondness for it. Perhaps it was just nostalgia for being younger and spending time with his friends, or being somewhere where everyone else was just like him, but recently Percy had thought that if he ended up back at Yancy it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Grover was the one who spoke up.

"Anyone who goes there spends their whole time wishing they were somewhere else. The kids are tough; it's hell when you first start. Older kids single you out and call it initiation. None of the teachers give a damn about you, they just wait for the day to end. Some of them get walked all over, some are like army drill sergeants. There's loads of people from different areas, so you have to be careful who you talk to, bump into or even look at. You have to make friends, being a loner there is like a death sentence. Loads of kids just don't show up, and the ones that do don't take it seriously. Arguments; talking back; fights. They all happen every day. It's a miracle the place is still standing." Grover could not have described it more perfectly. It was a rough environment to grow up in. Particularly for a kid like Grover, it hadn't been the easiest ride. His friendship with the Olympians was the only thing that meant he didn't get it as bad as some of the other kids Percy knew. Although he'd never been a bully to anyone, Percy had hardly been a peace and love kind of student. His record was littered with fights over exchanged words or unpleasant glances.

"The problem is," Percy began, bringing Annabeth's attention to him, "at least for me, it's so territorial. And you have to stick up for your own. Say if two Romans jump an Olympian after school, then five of us have to go back and get two of them." The Romans were a street gang that had always had problems with the Olympians. Unlike most of the other gangs around the area, like Matt Sloane and his goons, the Romans went higher than just the local courtyards and playgrounds, having links to organized crime. In this sense they were similar to the Olympians, and most of the serious scraps Percy had been in throughout his life stemmed from this rivalry. He continued talking. "Eventually it all boils over, and Yancy ain't a great place to be when tensions are high." Annabeth's expression didn't give away her thoughts, listening intently but without obvious judgement.

"Those were the worst weeks" Grover cut in, "I mean Nico would think that someone looked at him funny, and then they don't back down, then you and Will would jump in and before you know it the hallway is full of kids beating the hell out of each other." As crazy as the image sounded, it was true. Before Percy could interject however, Grover continued. "I remember one time, when Darrin had me held up against the wall, and you all grabbed him from behind and beat him down until he couldn't sit up. Or when you pulled-"

"Grover." Percy cut him off sharply and quickly. He could tell he was about to enter his rambling mode, where he would talk without really thinking. While he was happy to reminisce about Yancy, some of the stories Grover would have told were not the kind of stories he wanted Annabeth to hear. It wasn't because he thought that she would judge, it was more down to the fact that he hardly came across as the good guy in a lot of those stories, and in all honesty felt a bit guilty. As Grover looked at him, Percy gestured at Annabeth with his eyes, getting his message across, in an admittedly unsubtle manner.

"Yeah," Grover muttered awkwardly, clearly trying to change the topic. "It's not all bad though" he said meekly.

"You'll have to show me sometime." Annabeth joked slightly, trying to lighten the mood. For her part, she hadn't seemed bothered by any of what the boys had said. Taking her to Yancy though, that was a no go. Percy had been surprised at how quickly she'd gotten used to Olympus, but Yancy was a completely different ball park. Olympus seemed rough, and was, but Yancy was a free-for-all, a melting pot of built up teenage aggression, gang loyalties and neglect. Many kids there had nothing, came from nothing and so had nothing to lose. It was a dangerous combination, and helped to make Percy sure that as long as he was with Annabeth he wouldn't take her anywhere near that place.

"Trust me, you'd be better off staying away." Percy said. He knew that from the tone of his voice she could tell he wasn't joking around the way she was. Suddenly, she became much more serious, meeting Percy's gaze.

"Do you miss it?" she asked. It was one of those questions Percy always thought he had the answer to, until about a second ago. Ask him any day he had been at Yancy if he'd miss it when he left, he'd laugh in your face, and quite likely threaten you in the process for asking such a stupid question. Yet now, roughly two months removed from it, he had found himself reminiscing about it. Sure he'd hated it, but it was school; all teenagers hate school. But at least at Yancy he'd been around people like him, and been able to act how he wanted, even if that wasn't exactly model behavior. Despite every negative thought he had about the place, he'd felt comfortable there. It was his old stomping ground, and Nico's, and they'd practically been kings towards the end. Even older kids knew that Olympians weren't any normal sophomores and juniors. And Percy would be lying if he said he hadn't spent at least a couple of hours at Goode daydreaming about what being one of the seniors at Yancy would be like. They'd always looked the toughest, meanest kids, and there were times when Percy resented his father for robbing him of that opportunity. It felt odd to him that the place he had come to despise was now like an idyllic paradise in his head. He'd never appreciated the free reign he had there until it was taken away.

"Yeah" he finally uttered, meeting Annabeth's gaze. "I never thought I would, but now that I'm away from it all I'm looking at it differently. It's full of people like me, I fit in there." He sounded pensive, surprised at his own honesty. Annabeth was listening passively, but Grover looked slightly taken aback. With good reason, Percy thought, that very well may have been the first they had heard anybody say they actually missed that hell hole of a school. Percy caught his eye, and they shared a look. Percy could tell Grover knew what he meant. Yancy had never been kind to Grover, he had no loyalties to it, but Percy hadn't had such a hard time. For a guy like Percy to be uprooted and dropped into a pristine, established private school full of Upper East Side trust fund kids with a million rules to follow, it hadn't been an easy transition. Hell, Percy wouldn't even say he had transitioned successfully, he was more just getting by day by day. Grover's lips curved up into a smile, and Percy knew that he understood this. He hated Yancy, but he knew why Percy didn't. That's why Percy could call this boy his best friend.

Eventually they reached the point of diversion, where Grover went one way, towards hell on earth, and Percy and Annabeth went another, to Percy's own, private hell. At least he had his girlfriend by his side. The closer they got to Goode, the more students they saw, and the more stares they garnered. Walking to school was already seen as weird enough; most kids either drove or had their driver drop them right at the gate. But Percy was sure if he'd been walking alone no one would even notice him. He'd blend in and go about his day relatively undisturbed. That was impossible when he was walking with Annabeth.

Despite the whole situation, people hadn't turned on Annabeth, yet. Her reputation at Goode had certainly taken a hit when it became school knowledge that she had dumped the school quarterback for the new kid from the other side of the tracks, but no one had really made a thing about it yet; at least not since Luke had been sent home from Olympus embarrassed. Maybe people genuinely didn't care, although Percy seriously doubted that. After all, high school and gossip go hand in hand. Percy also pondered that perhaps people had genuinely liked Annabeth, and were happy, although he was certain that people were too intimidated to say anything. This was based on some of the glances he received every time he was seen with her. Percy had almost forgotten that Luke had spent the last month spreading the word that Percy was a violent delinquent, and he'd hardly gone out of his way to correct people. He simply hadn't cared, because no one paid attention to him. That was impossible when you were Annabeth Chase's boyfriend. He silently wondered if people would ever get used to the two of them dating, as Annabeth's voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

"Ready for another day of side glances and hushed whispers?" she asked jokingly, lacing her hand into his. He smiled back, thankful that at least he wasn't the only one who'd noticed. He nodded, and they walked through the large gates. As long as he had Annabeth by his side, going through this with him, he was ready for anything.

Lessons dragged by at their usual, excruciatingly slow pace. That often happened on Fridays, with the possibilities the weekend held almost in sight. First period with Mrs. Dodds had been as fun as expected. Since Percy's infamous first lesson with her, she had seemingly decided that he didn't exist. She didn't even call his name out when she did roll call anymore. Percy spent most of the lesson, and any others that they shared, watching Annabeth. If he wasn't going to pay attention to his own work, he may as well pay attention to something worth his time; this was his thought process anyway. Being at Goode made him admire her in a whole new light. She'd been such a joy to be around all week at Olympus, laughing and bantering with his friends, getting to know his mom and really fitting in in ways he hadn't expected. Perhaps he should have given her more credit. But now they were firmly in her world, and it was easy to see why she was queen. She gave her all in lessons, trying to answer absolutely every question correctly, and usually succeeding might he add. It was more than just her academics though. As he watched, Percy could see she was comfortable. The way she interacted with the other students was so natural, and never seemed forced. Percy wasn't sure how she could smile through so many vacuous conversations about social events and boys and what these kids planned on spending daddy's millions on. It would go in one of his ears and out the other. Yet Annabeth managed – no, excelled, at pulling it off with skill and sincerity. She was like New York's own Grace Kelly.

As lunch came around, Percy and Annabeth found themselves drifting away from the crowds in the cafeteria, choosing to find a spot on the grass near the fence of the school rather than sit and be ogled at like a circus show. Annabeth always said she was used to it, while trying not to sound vain or arrogant. She had explained to Percy she had pretty much been this popular since elementary school, but Percy was sure that her new gang member boyfriend had definitely increased interest recently. They both preferred to avoid it completely. As they sat down, leaning against the fence, Percy wrapped his arm around Annabeth's shoulder, pulling her into his side. He felt her relax, and rest her head in the crook of his neck. They sat chatting about the day's lessons for a while, Annabeth having much more to say as always. She was in the middle of telling a story about a hilarious moment in Biology, and Percy was hanging on every word. He would listen to this girl read the dictionary front to back; she just had a way of hooking you on whatever she was saying, so that you hung on every word.

"And then Jack stood up and-" she was interrupted by the shrill notes of her ringtone. Taking her phone out of her pocket, she slid and answered.

"Silena, hey!" she exclaimed, sitting up from Percy to talk properly. "No, I'm just by the fence past the football field with Percy." Percy sat and watched her. She looked genuinely happy to be talking to her friend. Something else Percy had noticed over the week was that if Annabeth liked you, she didn't hide it.

"Alright, see you soon." She said, and hung up. Smiling she turned to Percy. "Silena and Thalia are gonna come hang with us, that's okay right?" She asked, but it wasn't really a question. He knew that she knew he wouldn't care; he had actually gotten along really well with the two girls this week at school. He appreciated that he had to make an effort to get on with Annabeth's friends, particularly after she had taken on his world in full stride. She was the one giving up a lot for this relationship, her untouchable status within Goode and more pressingly a good relationship with her parents. The least Percy could do was be friendly with the people she was still close with. Silently, he nodded.

Suddenly feeling the urge, he reached up and cupped her cheek with his hand, bringing his lips to hers. She pursed her lips in response, matching him. It was short and sweet, but said everything it needed to. As long as she was there, Percy would hang out with whomever she chose to inflict on him. When he pulled away she smiled up at him, biting her lower lip slightly. If they weren't at school, Percy wouldn't be able to contain the urge that was building in him. This girl seriously drive him crazy with desire. He could tell from the look in her eyes that her mind was going through a similar thought process, racing at 100 miles per hour. Although they hadn't talked much about it, they both knew that neither of them had felt this way about someone before, and while that honeymoon feeling would more than likely fade eventually, right now they took every opportunity to indulge themselves. Without hesitation, Percy leant back in, lips meeting again. Annabeth duly deepened the kiss, matching Percy's slow intensity. He could feel his hunger for her growing, so was thankful for his self-control once he heard Thalia.

"Get a room lovebirds!" she yelled, a short distance away from them but quickly approaching. She was wearing her usual punky style, a leather jacket and black studded jeans and boots. Despite Percy and Annabeth's public display of affection, she had a big grin on her face. Percy had always found Thalia quite striking, with her electric blue eyes and shoulder length black hair, but he'd seen a softer, friendlier side of her more recently.

"They kicked us out of all the classrooms." Percy replied as Thalia got nearer, causing her to laugh. She sat down opposite the two, pulled out some potato chips and began munching.

"Where's Silena?" Annabeth asked, sitting up slightly so that she and Percy weren't being so touchy-feely.

"She's coming." Thalia replied between chips. "How's your week away been?" she asked, raising an eyebrow suggestively and sounding amused. Annabeth blushed slightly, opening her mouth but not speaking, only smiling slightly. Her friends knew, but they hadn't spoken much about her living situation that week. Percy was amused by this no end. Annabeth Chase was rarely lost for words. Thalia continued.

"Come on Annie it's not like I'm asking for intimate details. I know you aren't shacking up with a criminal, no offence." She aimed that last comment at Percy, who simply laughed. He assumed that was what some of the gossip going around school was saying about him, but he knew from Thalia's sarcastic tone that she was joking. "I just want to know what you've been up to, what you guys have done – outside of the bedroom obviously." She said matter-of-factly. At that Annabeth looked away smiling but still slightly red faced, and Percy just laughed more to himself. "I do not need those details." Thalia was clearly enjoying messing with her friend. Luckily for Annabeth she was saved from further embarrassment by an approaching Silena; at least for now.

Silena looked stunning, as she always did. Percy didn't even feel bad about thinking that, even with Annabeth next to him. Only a fool would say Silena wasn't flawless. Her long chestnut brown hair had some curl to it, and her tanned skin made her light blue eyes stand out even from a short distance. She was wearing head to toe designer, a mix of Prada, Gucci, and many other labels Percy had probably never heard of. Her biggest accessory however was about 6'5" and walking next to her, carrying a gym bag: Beckendorf. Percy immediately sat up a bit, feeling a definite shift in his mood. He and Beckendorf hadn't spoken since he'd been banging on Percy's door earlier that week, and Percy was still confused about the whole situation with him. He wouldn't say they were friends, but at the same time he had definitely appreciated his actions on Monday. If he was being honest, Percy also missed having a guy friend to talk to in school. As much as he'd loved Annabeth's friends, he found himself missing that dynamic every now and then.

"Hey!" Silena called over cheerfully, "Charlie's gonna join us, I hope you don't mind." As they got nearer, Beckendorf took off his hoody and laid it down on the grass. Silena smiled gratefully at her boyfriend and gracefully sat herself down on the clothing, making sure not to badly crease any of her clothes. Beckendorf sat down next to her, loosely wrapping his arms around his knees. He had a slightly sheepish expression as he nodded in greeting to everyone. Percy watched what had just unfolded with amusement. Laying the jumper down was an act of chivalry that wouldn't be out of place in Victorian England, but Percy had never seen something like it, even since being at Goode. Silena clearly noticed his bemused expression as she just smiled regally.

"Prada does not touch the grass." She said, so matter-of-factly Percy almost felt stupid for not knowing. The others all laughed to themselves, Percy included, but Silena paid no attention to them, pulling a box with an assortment of fruits out of her bag. Opening it, she began to pick at the food like a bird with a plastic fork. Throughout the week, Percy remembered her mentioning some new effective diet, and he assumed this was part of that. Silena Beauregard didn't seem like the type of girl who ate regular cafeteria food anyway.

"So…" Silena began, pausing for effect, "why are we hiding off in some corner of the school like lepers?" she asked, sounding frustrated but clearly joking around. She eyed Annabeth mysteriously, and Percy watched as his girlfriend, not for the first time that day, averted her eyes from her friends. He remembered seeing that look in Silena's eyes before; at Luke's, the first time he and Annabeth had kissed. She hadn't said anything then, and she didn't need to now. They all knew why Annabeth and Percy had chosen to remain so secluded while at school, they were just reveling in every opportunity to poke fun at them. Percy didn't mind, but feeling Annabeth tense up against him told him that she was beginning too.

"Alright guys, come on." Percy spoke up, acting as the voice of reason. "We could ask you guys the same question, don't you have other girls to be bossing around?" He said to Silena in a wry tone, earning himself a look of fake hurt. "How about you Beckendorf?" he continued, hoping to move the conversation away from himself and Annabeth. "Don't you have a game to train for? I thought you'd be with the others." He hadn't used any kind of tone to make Beckendorf think he didn't want him there, but the look in the boy's eyes, followed swiftly by him looking off into the distance, told Percy he had perhaps said the wrong thing. At the very least he'd hit a nerve. Silena gazed comfortingly at her boyfriend, lacing her fingers through his slowly. Percy suddenly felt bad. He would be the first to admit that the two of them had a rocky relationship to say the least, but he still, despite everything, considered him a friend of sorts. When Beckendorf looked back, he was smiling slightly, but his eyes gave away the sadness underneath.

"Luke and the guys…" he began, squeezing Silena's hand slightly, "they've been acting different this week. Since Monday really." He winced slightly at the mention of Monday, as images flashed back to Percy's mind of Beckendorf bursting into his apartment. Had the others found out that he'd given Percy the heads up? That almost certainly wouldn't bode well for the boy.

"Do they know you told me?" Percy asked, suddenly aware of the tension in their small circle. Despite seeing a lot of each other this week, no one had really talked about Monday. Word had gone round school, rumours that Luke and his goons hadn't fared very well against a gang of Olympians, but no one had been brave enough to ask Percy or Annabeth for details. He knew Luke and Jason and the gang certainly wouldn't want to share those details either, so it remained in the rumour mill.

"No," Beckendorf replied "but I think they think it was me."

"Did they see you at all?" Percy asked, suddenly worried for his old friend, for the first time in a while. Despite everything, that was a good thing, right? It definitely showed a thaw in their friendship.

"No, I still remember all the back alley routes out." Beckendorf smiled, a glint in his eye that reminded Percy of the old times they'd spent running around Olympus. He couldn't help but smile too, and nod in agreement. He almost felt bad for assuming Beckendorf wouldn't remember them.

"You can take the boy out of Olympus…" he muttered, earning a laugh from his old friend.

"They really wanted me to go with them," Beckendorf continued, everyone's attention fully on him, "but I knew it would be trouble. Silena covered for me and said I was with her, but they definitely think someone gave you a heads up. They said you were too prepared, organized and that they'd have got you if there wasn't a snitch, all that bullshit they always talk." He looked frustrated at that, like his friendship with the group was finally starting to wear thin. No one knew what to say. Percy wanted to reassure Beckendorf, but if they all thought someone had let Percy know they were coming, it made the most sense that it would be him. He knew their plan, and knew where Percy lived. Him not going with them was the icing on the cake. He could see from Silena's slightly worried look that this had been a big deal for Beckendorf this week. If she'd had to vouch for him, it showed that Beckendorf was already willing to cover it up. You don't cover up something inconsequential. Before Percy could talk, Thalia spoke up, breaking the silence.

"Okay, what actually happened on Monday?" she questioned, looking from face to face. When no one initially spoke up, she continued. "I've been a good friend all week and not asked, but now Beckendorf is involved and I just wanna know. Even Jason has kept quiet about it, and he's the loudest little shit at home. He's just been brooding and working out in his room."

Percy was unsure quite how to start explaining what happened, but knew that he wouldn't be able to just brush this one aside. Slowly he told them all exactly what had gone down, trying to be as modest as possible. While even he could admit that how he had dealt with the situation seemed impressive, it was a little too showy for his usual tastes. He'd known that Luke and the others would only respond without conflict to a big show of force and solidarity, but the showmanship, the throwing of the ball and the smart one liners, wasn't really Percy's style. He'd had fun no doubt, but he'd never been one to regale others with the gritty details of his home life regardless; this one felt considerably more ostentatious and sensational than any of the others. Occasionally Annabeth would interject with some of the details, but for the most part the other three hung on Percy's every word. Even Beckendorf, who had left before he could see what went down, looked impressed.

"No wonder Jason has kept quiet" Thalia said, laughing, clearly amused "that is embarrassing. Those guys always think everything will go their way. I wish I could've seen their faces."

"Yeah, it's about time that they were brought down off their high horse." Silena agreed, also cracking a smile now. Percy couldn't help but smile back. He'd been worried that his rivalry with their group would put Annabeth's friend off of him, but it seemed to be having the opposite effect.

"Aren't they your friends though?" he asked

"Of course," Silena replied nonchalantly, "but that doesn't mean they aren't assholes." At that, all five of them shared a laugh, and Percy noticed felt truly comfortable around people not from Yancy, perhaps for the first time.

"That should keep them off your back for a while" Thalia replied, although at that, Beckendorf suddenly shifted and looked uncomfortable. He tried to disguise it, but when you're 6'5" it's hard to hide anything you do. Immediately the others noticed, and turned their attention to him. Under the pressure of four pairs of eyes burning into him, Beckendorf began to talk.

"Luke ain't done." He spoke plainly, sounding tired of the whole situation. "They're still planning on getting you, they just don't know how yet." He paused, but no one replied, and Beckendorf took the hint and continued. "They don't wanna jump you in school, because they're worried about getting in trouble," Percy couldn't help but laugh at that, imagining them spending a day at Yancy with that attitude, "and they want to get you after school but they don't know your area. They're worried you'll have guys ready to jump out of nowhere; keep asking me questions about the area. I try to tell them I really don't remember it well, but I think they know I'm holding out. They'll do something soon though, I know them." Percy sat pensively, silently noting to on his toes more than usual from now on. He wasn't scared of them, but that didn't mean his odds were good if they caught him alone.

"I don't get it," Thalia interjected, looking at Percy, "why don't you just get some of your friends to come and really scare them, put them off for good?" Percy could tell she meant no offence, but he still couldn't shake the image that he was a violent gang member to her. In fairness it was a valid question, and Yancy Percy wouldn't have even let it get this far. He'd have gathered Nico and the others and this whole debacle would've been settled the day it began. But he wasn't Yancy Percy right now, and he knew he didn't want to bring that into Goode at all.

"I just…" Percy began, struggling to find the right words, "I don't know. I just don't want to bring that here. That's not who I am here. There wouldn't be the fun in it that there would be at Yancy, as bad as that sounds. I don't mean fun like I enjoy violence, but if you're gonna get in trouble at school, it's always better with friends. On my first day Mr. D told me he didn't want any trouble from me. I respect him enough to stick to that. It wouldn't feel right to bring that here." He was surprised with his honesty. He hadn't been that honest with even his closest friends much, yet sitting here with these rich kids he had only just gotten to know, he felt comfortable being completely open. They all looked a little shocked, clearly understanding the importance of revealing something like that for Percy.

"You respect Mr. D?" It was Thalia who broke the silence, sounding completely perplexed. "The principal Mr. D? Old, miserable, alcoholic Mr. D?"

"Well that all may be true," he began, "but that doesn't change how he's treated me. That's how I judge people, He's always been honest, sometimes too honest. He's really stuck his neck on the line by letting me go here, and has always treated me as well as I could hope for." He remembered back to the meeting he'd had with Beckendorf in his office, and wondered if the other boy did too.

"He has never, ever treated any student here with anything other than irritation, usually straight up contempt." Thalia responded, appearing genuinely shocked to discover Mr. D was anything other than a hate-filled demon.

"Don't get me wrong," Percy replied, laughing slightly, "I don't think he's a saint, but he's always been fair to me. He knows my father, maybe it's that." That last sentence was out of his mouth before he could stop himself. Shit. He hated mentioning Poseidon around here. He hardly made for a civilized conversation topic. He could feel that he wouldn't get out of explaining this one easily. Annabeth was glancing at him curiously from the corner of her eye, clearly waiting for him to explain. She was the one who spoke first.

"Your father knows Mr. D?" It was a perfectly simple question, spoken quite softly, and yet Percy couldn't think of the right answer. In truth he didn't even know how his father knew the principal, but whatever the link, it was worrying to think of a boss of a gang and a school having any affiliation.

"Yeah" was all he could utter back. The girls persisted.

"How?" asked Silena.

"I'm not sure, he's never told me" he said, desperately hoping the inquisition would stop.

"Is he a teacher too?" Thalia asked. Great, Percy thought, I'm cornered from all angles. His eyes jumped from girl to girl, and he saw the determination in their eyes. They would weasel this information out of him if it took them all day.

"I've told you all before, he's a business man." It was a last ditch attempt to get them to drop it, but even he knew it wasn't going to work.

"What's his business?" Thalia retorted immediately. They could clearly sense that they were close to a straight answer. Even Annabeth, who had not pushed him to talk at all about Poseidon while they'd been together, looked too intrigued to hide it. Percy appreciated her restraint and patience all week, and could also understand why she would be so curious. He sighed. This was it, he thought. He'd been very honest with them not five minutes ago, how much would one more revelation hurt? He caught Beckendorf's gaze, offering him a sympathetic look of understanding. The boy knew the answer that was coming, and it was only now that Percy realised how truly grateful he was that he had kept it to himself this whole time. He took a deep breath, and spoke.

"Crime." The word was flat and cold, there was no pride or enjoyment in Percy's tone. The others all looked taken aback, their eyes giving away the shock, even Annabeth. Whatever they had been expecting, it didn't seem to be that. Before they could interrupt, Percy continued. "Drugs, robbery, arms, trafficking, intimidation. You name it, my father is probably in charge of it. He controls ports, businesses and all sorts of other things even I don't know about." He stopped and took a breath. The silence was deafening. Percy could hear the distant chatter of other students, but not one of his friends around him seemed to be able to conjure up any kind of words. Miraculously, just as Thalia was about to open her mouth, the school bell rang in the distance. Wow, Percy thought, saved by the bell. What a cliché.

"No time for questions I'm afraid" he said, half-jokingly. He stood up, and pulled up his girlfriend. She seemed to be too deep in thought to be paying attention. He broke her out of it with a quick peck on her cheek.

"Come on," he whispered, only loud enough for her to hear, "I'll tell you about it later." They caught eyes, and she nodded slightly. Clearly still processing the information, she allowed Percy to lead her away to class, not waiting for the others to catch up.

By the time the end of the day rolled around Percy was dreading the final bell. How many students can say that about Friday afternoons? He knew he would have to, but he just really wasn't looking forward to explaining to Annabeth exactly who his father was. Now that the cat was out of the bag, there was no getting it back in. Like it or not, this was where she would discover exactly where, and who, Percy came from. The bell ringing for the end of the day had a similar effect to that of a bell tolling at a funeral. There was a trepidation about the way he walked towards the exit of Goode, nervously keeping his eye out for Annabeth. Luckily, they hadn't shared a class for the rest of the day, although that meant he had built up the conversation in his head, overthinking and overanalysing to an unhealthy degree. Surely this was the end of their relationship, he had thought. It was one thing to date a rough gang member, it was another thing entirely to date the son of one of New York's biggest crime lords. Even for Annabeth, so understanding and relatable, that would surely be a step too far.

But then he remembered how she had fit into his world, and how they had connected over the past week. Maybe she would understand. She had opened up to him about her issues with her mother. This was kind of the same, right? Perhaps slightly more illegal, but in the same vein, at least in his warped imagination. Percy couldn't shake these conflicting thoughts, and it was then that he realised what his big fear actually was. Annabeth, the girl he had let into his whole lide and been rewarded with one of the greatest weeks he had ever had, could very well leave him today. Had she spent the last lessons of the day working out how to break up with him? He was torn between finding her immediately, even if just for peace of mind, or running back to Olympus and never coming back. Yet, even as he thought it, Percy knew he wouldn't run. It wasn't his style, and Annabeth certainly didn't deserve it. No, one way or another, he would tell her everything.

Percy saw her blonde curls first, bobbing up and down slightly as she walked with purpose towards him. He was clenching his fists, trying to ignore how much they were suddenly sweating. She had a steely look in her eyes as she stopped in front of him, like she was determined to say something. Just as Percy opened his mouth, ready to tell her everything, she cut him off.

"I know you want to talk… to explain; but I have to say something first." Her tone told him not to argue. Oh gods, he though, here we go. The first good thing in his life for a long time was about to up and leave. What she said next, however, was the furthest thing from what Percy had been expecting.

"I want you to meet my parents." Percy was too stunned to respond for a second, and Annabeth took that second as her chance to continue. "Not in the typical way that girlfriends do, but we both know I have to go home tonight. I've put it off probably far too long. Not that I haven't loved every second of this week; it's been fantastic, but I have to stop and face the music at some point. I just don't think I want to do it alone." She now looked at him with a vulnerability that he hadn't seen. Percy suddenly realised that this conversation had been as big a deal for her as the imaginary one he was thinking of had been to him. She was saying she wanted him, needed him, and he suddenly couldn't quite bring the right words to his lips in response.

"Me to meet your parents?" he asked, stupidly repeating what she had just said, as if to reaffirm it.

"Yes" she replied, half smiling at his thick-headedness.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" he asked innocently enough, not wanting to sound disinterested. The last thing he wanted was Annabeth thinking he was having any doubts.

"Well probably not," she said, as she stepped closer to him, resting both her hands around the back of his neck, "but I want you there, by my side." At that she smiled, and Percy couldn't help but grin back. He was sure he looked like a Cheshire cat but he didn't care.

"Wanna show off your new piece of tough guy arm candy?" he asked jokingly, feeling all the tension he had felt lift off of his shoulders.

"Well I don't want to let my mother completely off the hook do I?" she quipped back, "I want her to know that I decide what goes on in my life now." She sounded confident, and Percy couldn't help but admire her even more. Just as it had taken a lot for him to talk about Poseidon, he was sure it was taking Annabeth just as much to have this conversation. He nodded, giving her his agreement, and their lips met for the briefest of kisses. He took her hand in his, and side by side they walked towards the school exit.

"You can still talk about your father later, if you want" she added "I'm here if you need me." He squeezed her hand in his, nodding again. He knew in that moment that he wanted to tell her everything about his life. That final hurdle had been jumped, and he was ready to run towards the finish line.

"Y'know," Percy said tentatively, "I thought you were gonna break up with me just then, because of it" he caught her eye, and saw she knew he was talking about his father and the discovery at lunchtime. Annabeth just smirked.

"Oh you wish," she said, "no, I'm afraid you're stuck with me for a while." At that Percy laughed, and pulled her slightly closer to his side. Together they walked through the exit, and in the general direction of Annabeth's house. Meeting the parents, he thought, what could go wrong?

A/N: Been a while, unfortunately work and life gets in the way a lot of the time. I noticed it's been about a year since I updated. I've had this saved on my laptop for ages and I suddenly felt the urge to finish it. Hope you all enjoy.

Chapter 18

Chapter Text


Annabeth's house was a fair distance from Goode. She usually drove herself; her family had never been one to indulge in personal drivers like many of her classmates did. Annabeth always guessed it was one of her mother's small ways of rebelling against the privileged and luxurious upbringing she often resented Demeter for giving her. The whole thing seemed to be a bit of a first world problem for Annabeth – hating the luxury you were born with while others struggled to get by – but growing up in a world of wealth and advantage had often made her blind to the outside world. It was only now she was with Percy, and had spent time in his world, that she was beginning to realise that there was more to life than the sheltered childhood she had known so far. She wasn't sure if she would even go back to driving to school. When walking, she could appreciate the world around her in ways she had never done before. Her perspective of everything was shifting, and it excited her. None of it would have happened without the help of one person.

Percy walked next to her, alternating between holding her hand and walking side by side. The distance from the school to Annabeth's neighbourhood meant that they had more time to talk. Annabeth had decided to probe her boyfriend about his earlier revelation, that his father was some sort of crime lord, which was still taking some getting used to, and for the first time in as long as she'd known him (and perhaps, she sensed, ever) Percy opened up about it. He told her stories from his childhood, in as much fuzzy detail as he could remember. As it turned out, he didn't actually know a ton of personal information about his dad. He couldn't say how long he'd lived in New York, how he'd met Sally or even what his actual first name was. At first Annabeth had thought the whole 'Poseidon' thing was a joke. It was surely impossible not to know your own fathers first name, no matter how distant he may be. But she could tell quickly he wasn't joking, and it wasn't just him. As far as everyone knew, he was and always had been known as Poseidon. Annabeth was surprised that in her week at Olympus she had hardly even heard mention of his name.

"You don't talk about him unless it's serious," Percy had told her, "if you start asking questions about him you draw attention to yourself, no one wants that. As far as they're all aware, he's the ghost that collects the rent every month. They say if you go a whole month without seeing him, it was a good month. Seeing him usually means bad news." It was such an alien way to live. To grow up with a father who was more of a story than an actual human being - that must've been hard on Percy growing up, and she instantly understood his hesitancy when it came to the topic. Thankfully though, he didn't appear to be having difficulties sharing anymore. Annabeth realised the milestone that this was in their relationship, and couldn't help but tentatively think of what the future would hold for them. Honestly, it filled her with hope. She knew that they were still in the early stages, 'officially' it was only 5 days, but when something feels this right, this comfortable, it was hard to think it wasn't meant to be. She wondered if Percy was having a similar dilemma.

"I want to meet him" Annabeth said suddenly. Percy had just been explaining how Poseidon's 'business partners' in New Jersey were actually men who owned a chain of strip clubs and secret gambling dens, and turned to give her a slightly surprised expression.

"I hope you aren't thinking of signing up" he half joked, and Annabeth realised that it wasn't the best moment in the conversation to have brought it up, given the topic of discussion. Laughing at herself, she pushed Percy playfully.

"Not what I meant," she replied, "I just mean that I would like to meet him some time."

"Absolutely not," Percy said. While not in an angry or defiant way, he had said it a little too fast for her liking. It stung a little bit, and Annabeth must've shown it on her face, because Percy quickly clarified himself. "Not because of you, it's just that he's… different." Percy had to pause to think of the right word. "I wouldn't even want to put you through that."

"Percy I am literally walking you to meet my parents as we speak; you think I couldn't handle meeting yours?" she spoke forcefully, like she did when she knew the answer to every one of the questions in class.

"Yeah but he's different from-" There it was again, the word different. Percy was acting like his father wasn't even human. Annabeth stopped walking and cut him off.

"Will you stop saying different?" She definitely sounded annoyed now, but she couldn't help it. Being unable to let something go, especially when she felt like she was being talked down to, was a trait she was sure she'd picked up from her mother. It was the very thing that led to most of their arguments. She knew it was probably silly, but hearing Percy try to justify why she shouldn't meet his father was getting under her skin. She had just spent a week living in his world for god's sake! She had felt like she was making real inroads into his life, so the sudden apparent change of heart was unexpected. She ignored the slightly perplexed look on her boyfriend's face as she continued. "I got on with all your friends, and your mom. I loved being at your home and seeing where you come from, learning who you are. I want to know you, so if you all of a sudden don't want that then let me know now before I walk through my front door with you." She was suddenly sure she'd come across as too angry, and found she was dreading his reply slightly. What if he decided she was right, that bringing up his dad had been a mistake? He had stopped and turned, looking at her expressionlessly, as if trying to gage her thoughts. When he spoke, he was much calmer than she had been.

"I'm sorry if I seemed like I was saying you wouldn't be able to handle it." Well, that was a start, Annabeth thought. Percy continued. "I know that you handled yourself well at Olympus; better than I thought you would, I'm not gonna lie." At that he smiled apologetically, and a lot of Annabeth's anger and frustration instantly vanished. She was always amazed how all it seemed to take was a smile from him to brighten her mood, which seemed to fluctuate like crazy the more time she spent around him. Percy's voice was softer when he carried on talking. "But my mom, Grover and Nico, hell, anyone from Olympus is a whole different kettle of fish to my father. I'm talking about a man who sends people out to commit crimes for him. He's probably under surveillance twenty-four seven – I just don't think that he's an aspect of my life that it's worth getting to know." There was a sadness to his words that made Annabeth take his hand.

"I want to know every aspect of your life, and I want you to know mine." Their eyes locked and she smiled. A grin began to tug at Percy's lips, and Annabeth had the overwhelming desire to kiss him. When their lips met, she could've sworn little sparks flew off of them. She had never ever experienced desire like this. It sat deep inside her and was slowly spreading its roots until she would be consumed. Was this what love felt like? She knew it was too early to say anything that big out loud, but she secretly wondered if Percy was having the same dilemma.

"Okay, I'll talk to him about it" Percy said, jokingly defeated. "It may be a while though, I don't even know where he is right now."

"That's fine," Annabeth replied, laughing "you have to survive tonight first anyway." At that she could see Percy visibly tense. His face remained claim but his eyes looked worried, and he gave off a nervous energy. Annabeth found it quite amusing. "Relax, I'm joking" she said, taking his arm in hers as she led him down the road, "I've seen you deal with far tougher situations than my mom."

"You don't sound convinced" he replied, allowing her to lead. Annabeth smiled, but deep down knew he had a point. She was praying this didn't backfire.

It was another 20 minutes before they reached her house, and Percy couldn't hide the wonder on his face. Annabeth always had to remind herself that Percy wasn't used to this kind of luxury – his apartment probably wasn't even the size of her front lawn. It made her feel slightly self-conscious, but also really appreciative. Perhaps it was of her week away, but she now saw her house for what it was, a beautiful monument to her parent's hard work. It really was stunning to look at, and she realised she was thankful that she had been given the upbringing most parents dream of providing for their children.

"You and your mom must have some serious problems for you to run away from this place" Percy said, his tone joking. Annabeth smiled at him, but inwardly she was pensive. She had managed to avoid thinking about Athena all week and it had been blissful, but now, standing on her driveway, she had no choice but to face her problems, and she wasn't sure if she could. Her legs felt like they were made of lead. She realised that they hadn't moved, and felt Percy squeezing her hand slightly in his.

"Everything good?" he asked, the slightest hint of concern in his voice.

"Percy I'm not sure this was such a good idea, I mean I've been gone a week, oh Gods a whole week, that's such a long time and I didn't even contact them and-" she began to ramble, speaking in one constant stream, never meeting her boyfriend's eyes. She felt a panic spreading throughout her as the words poured out, words she could barely understand herself. "…and what if they're still mad, and I've just turned up with you and-"

"Annabeth, slow down," Percy cut her off, turning her so that she faced him. He offered her a reassuring glance. "Just take some deep breaths, you'll be fine." He watched her, and she felt so weak and vulnerable again, far from that confident girl who had run away the week before. The breathing worked pretty quickly and she was so glad that Percy had been there for her. It had proved to be a momentary issue, but Annabeth was so used to dealing with her problems on her own that having someone else there for support felt alien. They locked eyes and she felt a wave of confidence begin to rise again.

"Look, if you want I can make my way back-" Percy began, but this time it was Annabeth's turn to cut him off.

"No, it's not that."

"Annabeth, I just mean if it's something that's better for you to do alone I don't mind." She appreciated his thoughtfulness, but her mind was made up.

"I want you here." His smile was infectious, and they just let a comfortable silence engulf them for a second. Annabeth took one more deep breath before turning to face the front door. She took one step, before pausing again. Why was she like this? She couldn't help but wonder if this was truly the best decision? A week wasn't that long a time in the grand scheme of things, but for a parent waiting for their child it might as well have been an eternity. She was sure they'd be livid, and turning up with your new 'bad-boy' boyfriend might not be the best way to win back their approval. It really was now or never, and perhaps Percy had a point. Maybe it would be better to confront this problem alone, and not come back home just to drop another bombshell straight away. However, just as she was about to turn and second guess her decision yet again, she realised it was too late, there was no hiding Percy now.

The front door swung open, and she saw her father, Frederick Chase, practically running towards her. In that moment, all of her previous trepidations flew out of the window as she moved towards her father, allowing him to engulf her in the biggest hug he'd given her since she was about ten. His familiar bookish, homely scent filled her senses and she felt small tears beginning to bud. She would not cry, she forced herself to repeat, blinking them back. She was pretty sure he could feel her heart beating out of her chest, but she didn't care. She had repressed all of the anger and sadness inside of her without even realising, escaping into a different world. Seeing the reminder of her home again, of her world, had brought it all bubbling to the surface. She suddenly realised this was the longest she had ever gone without talking to either of her parents, and as annoyed as she may have been with her mother, her father was near perfect; he didn't deserve that. Sure he wasn't around as much as anyone would've liked, but he'd always tried to make up for it, and truly did consider his children's happiness the most important thing in the world. Right now, holding onto him, she realised that more than ever.

"I'm sorry dad" she whispered, so quietly that only they could hear. She wanted him to know that it wasn't his fault, that it was never his fault, and that a day didn't go by where she didn't think she had the best dad in the world.

"I know" he whispered back, and pulled back, keeping his hands firmly on both her shoulders. He looked her up and down and smiled brightly. "I'm just glad you're okay, and that you came home." Annabeth suddenly felt terrible. He'd probably been worried sick, they both will have been. Annabeth had never considered her parents perspective for a moment. As bad as that was however, she quickly bit down her guilt, as her father's gaze had moved behind her. The overwhelming emotion had made her completely forget about her boyfriend standing three feet away.

"Dad, um, this is Percy…" she said, sounding more nervous than she liked, "he's my new…" oh Gods here we go "boyfriend. He's my new boyfriend." She hoped it sounded more confident the second time, but she could feel her cheeks reddening by the second. Her father's glance never shifted, but he gave a polite smile and reached out his hand.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Percy, I'm Frederick Chase." Percy calmly reached out and shook, firmly but politely.

"It's great to meet you too sir." Annabeth dared a glance at him, and saw his confident green eyes locked, a charming smile on his face. If he was at all nervous, it didn't show.

"Will you be joining us for dinner?" her father asked, glancing more at her than Percy. Annabeth quickly cut it.

"Yeah, if, uh, that's okay? I'm sorry it's short notice." She didn't want to glance at Percy again, she didn't think she'd ever been this nervous in front of him.

"Of course, your mother's made more than enough. Oh shoot," he smacked his forehead "we've got to let her know you're here." That was when Annabeth noticed her mother wasn't out here. She'd been too preoccupied with such sudden emotions, but then again it's not like she'd been expecting Athena. Before she could sit on that thought however, her father had turned was calling her to follow.

"Honey," he shouted as he walked through the door, "guess who's back!" He walked through the doorway, and Annabeth felt Percy brush up next to her. She was grateful for his calming presence.

"Nervous?" he asked her quietly. She could practically hear the grin as he said it.

"No" she replied, but they both knew the truth. She smiled to herself despite it. "Are you?" she asked him back.

"Oh yeah" he said, despite not sounding it.

"Well you're hiding it well." At that he smirked.

"Years of practice" was all he replied.

"Oh, I don't mean to make you more nervous, but they've never actually met one of my boyfriends before." It was true; she'd never wanted Luke or anyone else to be this deep into her life. Parents were a big step, and one she was only beginning to feel ready to make. The look on Percy's face was priceless, and she would've burst out laughing if she weren't still so gripped with anxiety. His eyes looked like saucers, although he quickly began laughing to himself. Calmly he slid his hand over hers, gripping it softly.

"You want me to put on a show for them then, Olympus style?" he asked playfully. Annabeth picked up the hand he was holding and hit Percy with it.

"Perseus Jackson, if you dare I will end you." It was the first time she'd used his full name, and Annabeth wanted to laugh as he rolled his eyes.

"Ah shit, did my mom tell you about that?" he asked, sounding annoyed but happy to be joking around.

"Nico" she replied smiling, before tugging at his arm, "come on" she heard Percy muttering something about Nico being an asshole as he willingly allowed her to drag him through the front door, and completely into her world. Here goes nothing, she thought.

Crossing the threshold, it was like seeing everything for the first time again. With all that had happened, Annabeth felt like a brand new person, far from the girl who had grown up within these walls. She could hear her brothers arguing in the front room, probably playing on some console. The pristine white walls adorned with artwork, the grand old staircase, the sleek tiled floor, it was all so familiar, and yet Annabeth couldn't relax. She knew it would take time to reacclimatise, to explain why she had done what she had done, to apologise, but feeling like a visitor in her own home was a strange sensation to come to terms with. Percy, for his part, couldn't hide his awe. He was looking at the paintings like he was in an art gallery, which come to think of it wasn't the worst comparison. Athena's obsession with cleanliness and order did make the whole place feel like an exhibition of her achievements. 'Look, don't touch' had always been a lifelong house rule. She watched her boyfriend take it all in, his eyes roaming over the walls and up the staircase. There was something endearingly innocent about how he examined extreme wealth. She'd noticed it way back when he'd first seen Luke's house, the night they first kissed. He could never hide his amazement at such extravagancy and luxury, and she doubted he even realised he was showing it.

"This is really impressive" he muttered, and Annabeth wasn't sure if he was speaking to her or himself. She led him through her house, towards the kitchen, when she practically crashed into her mother as she turned a corner. She'd clearly been rushing towards the front door, towards her daughter. Flustered for a second, Annabeth was able to take in her mother's state. She was much more dressed down than usual, wearing a baggy jumper and a pair of normal looking jeans. Her hair was tied up in a messy ponytail and she looked tired, wearing almost no make-up. It was odd for Annabeth to see her mother like this; she was normally the epitome of put together professionalism, even when she wasn't in her office. It had always been such a part of who she was that Annabeth could hardly recognise the woman in front of her. Her grey eyes, the eyes she'd given Annabeth, had a look of shocked concern. Usually so piercing and penetrating, she had never seen such worry in them before. Slowly, Athena reached out and touched Annabeth's cheek, brushing it lightly before reaching out and embracing her. Annabeth hugged back and, just like with her father on the driveway, felt a tide of pent up emotion begin to rise within her. This was perhaps the first genuine hug Annabeth could remember having with Athena in years, but nothing felt strange about it. It was homely and natural – like they'd shared a strong healthy relationship the whole time. While they certainly had their issues with one another, Annabeth suddenly realised that there must be maternal instincts somewhere in her mother, despite how little she showed it, or struggled to.

"Are you okay?" Athena asked, pulling back to look her daughter up and down. Annabeth nodded, afraid her voice would fail her if she tried to speak. Despite everything, being face to face with her mother now made all of her problems with her seem small. At least for this moment she just wanted to be back here, with her family. She took a moment to look into her mother's matching eyes, and tried to convey all of her apologies without words. From behind Athena, Frederick appears and wrapped both of the women in a huge group hug. Annabeth laughed to herself despite everything. Two weeks ago she would've been embarrassed to be hugging her parents like this, but then again two weeks ago they probably wouldn't have hugged at all. Funny the things that can bring you closer together.

"Mom," she muttered, stepping back towards her boyfriend, "this is Percy, my new boyfriend." She was starting to feel comfortable saying that now. A perplexed look spread across Athena's face as she just stared at Percy.

"It's really nice to meet you," Percy said, offering his hand out to shake, just as he had done with Frederick, "you have an amazing home." Athena still stood frozen, her expression unchanged and her gaze unshifting. She was looking at Percy like he was speaking a foreign language. Annabeth couldn't recall seeing Athena so dumbfounded before. Percy was beginning to stand awkwardly, his hand still extended.

"Honey…" Frederick whispered, and it seemed to work, snapping Athena out of her shock. She reached out and shook Percy's hand vigorously.

"Percy, hello, I'm Athena, Annabeth's mother." She was speaking with pauses between each statement, like her brain was still trying to process actually meeting one of her daughter's boyfriends. Annabeth would've been worried, expect she could still see the traces of a smile tugging at the edge of her mother's mouth. Perhaps this evening wouldn't be as combative as she'd initially thought. She'd wanted Percy here as support for when the shit hit the fan, but she was beginning to think it may not come to that.

"Percy will be joining us for dinner" Frederick said.

"Well that's great, there'll be plenty to go around." Athena was still looking around nervously, but offered her daughter an apologetic look. "I made your favourite." It was then that Annabeth noticed the smell – Spaghetti Bolognese. Her mother hadn't made this in years, and she'd used to love it. That smell reminded her of being an eight year old up in the family holiday home on the lakes, not having a worry in the world. She couldn't remember the last time her mother had cooked; things must've been different without her in the house.

"Annie," her father said, "there's still about 15 minutes until food is ready, go and see your brothers." At that, her parents turned and went back into the kitchen. Annabeth then heard a hushed conversation begin between the two, but couldn't make out a word of it. She decided to leave it, after all returning home with a brand new boyfriend was a big bomb to drop after disappearing for a week. She turned to face Percy and felt that familiar flush of butterflies she had whenever they made eye contact.

"That could've gone worse" he joked, offering a sympathetic glance.

"I think they're in shock" Annabeth laughed back, suddenly feeling the burden of anticipation lifted from her shoulders. The hardest part was over.

"So," Percy began, "your brothers, anything I should be worried about?" Annabeth couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculous notion.

"Not unless you're scared of annoying freshman" she smiled back, before slowly leading the way through to the front room. The closer they got the more of the twin's argument you could make out. The two of them practically spoke their own language, but Annabeth was surprised at how glad she was to be able to hear their voices again. She had always loved her brothers, and she was praying that they took to Percy. They'd also no doubt heard some of the rumours going around Goode about him, and hoped that they were tactile enough to avoid bringing them up. She had a feeling that was wishful thinking, but she allowed herself to hope.

The boys were sitting about five feet away from the huge 60 inch television screen, shoulder to shoulder as they usually did. This allowed them to shove each other whenever they saw fit, which was about half the time they spent awake. Many a gaming session had led to an all-out brawl and it usually fell on Annabeth to break it up, only for them to be thick as thieves again ten seconds later. She admired their closeness, and at times envied it. Right now they looked to still be in their clothes from school, and whatever they were playing was clearly getting heated.

"Hey guys," she called as she entered the room, Percy in tow just behind her, "how you doing?"

"Annie!" Bobby exclaimed, pausing the game to practically leap up and rush across to see his sister.

"Bobby don't pause!" Matthew yelled, "We're right in the middle of a game." Matthew had now leaped up too, but instead of even acknowledging his sister had reached across to whack the back of Bobby's head.

"Shut up douchebag, she's our sister." Bobby replied, aiming a clip back at Matthew that he quickly dodged. Annabeth couldn't help but laugh at them, and although she knew they were at the age where they were embarrassed to hug anyone in their family, she couldn't hide her sisterly instincts as she reached out and pulled them both in. They made the typical teenage complaints, but didn't actually put up much of a fuss. Then, both the boys turned their attention to Percy, suddenly looking incredibly curious.

"Hey, are you Percy Jackson?" Bobby asked, his head tilted in a slightly quizzical manner. He and Matthew were both staring at Percy like he was a wild animal in the zoo, amazement with a hint of worry. Annabeth hoped that would disappear once they got to know him, but they'd clearly already heard the rumours.

"Yeah, it's good to meet you both." Percy replied, sounding slightly awkward. He'd probably never been recognised in this way before – clearly at Goode he was quickly becoming something of a celebrity.

"He's my new boyfriend." Annabeth offered, but neither of the twins seemed to register her.

"Is it true you beat up all of the seniors on the football team single handed?" Matthew asked, causing Percy to laugh a little.

"Well no-" Percy began to deny, but Bobby butted in.

"Did you really set a desk on fire?" he sounded even more excited now. Percy still had a grin on his face, but before he could even open his mouth there was a bombardment of questions.

"I heard that you made Luke Castellan and his friends run away screaming?"

"Do you really fight in underground cage fights around New York every night?"

"Did you pull a knife out on Luke in his own home and threaten to rob him?"

"I heard you transferred to Goode from a Mexican prison as part of an outreach initiative."

As this was going on, Percy quickly glanced over at Annabeth, who was finding the whole thing rather funny despite herself. Clearly rumours were spreading faster and wilder than either she or Percy had known about. Annabeth could see nuggets of truth in some, but others were so ridiculous she was surprised her brothers were even asking. It also said a lot about them both that they at least entertained rumours of graphic violence, but had no worries asking him straight to his face about them. Clearly if they did think he was a scary hardened criminal, they still didn't think he would hurt them. When they stopped Percy just laughed again.

"You guys have been hearing a lot by the sounds of it." Annabeth was glad he wasn't taking it too seriously. She wondered how many more rumours had been going round, and whether any of them involved her.

"You are literally the coolest kid in school." Bobby exclaimed. "You're all anybody talks about."

"Yeah, people think it's funny how much you scare the football team." Annabeth could tell from Percy's expression that he was finding all of this incredibly amusing.

"I wouldn't go that far but-" Percy began, before Matthew cut him off.

"No it's true, any time people overhear their conversations it's about you, any time Luke looks angry or miserable he's thinking about you – you're in his head rent free, people love it." Annabeth had clearly underestimated the amount of gossip that had been going around. As much animosity as there may be between her current and ex-boyfriend, she doubted Luke spent every waking second thinking about him.

"Well that's good to know," Percy replied, "but I still wouldn't think too much into it, I'm not exactly loved myself" Annabeth wasn't sure if he was trying to move the conversation on or actually revealing some deep truths, but she herself was keen to change the topic from Luke back to something less stressful. Unfortunately her brothers, completely lacking in social cues or etiquette, carried on.

"What?!" Bobby sounded amazed, "Everybody loves you. No one else stands up to the seniors, everybody wishes they could be you" At that, Annabeth and Percy shared a confused glance. She knew exactly how Percy felt about Goode and his status there, and while she always felt he was being slightly pessimistic about the whole situation, she would hardly have agreed with the twins take. Now that she looked more closely, she could see the spark in Bobby and Matthew's eyes – they were looking at Percy like he was a God, like this conversation was the highlight of their week. Maybe there was something spreading in Goode that neither of them had noticed, maybe because she was so close to Percy no one had brought it up with her.

"Guys, I go whole days at school where no one but your sister talks to me, I'm really not as popular as you think." Percy was trying to convince them, but Annabeth could already hear the slightest trace of doubt in his own voice too. He must surely want to find out more. It was Matthew who unwittingly obliged.

"Yeah, but everybody is still scared of the football team. People think that if they're seen with you the guys will turn their attention to them, and no one is brave enough to do that. But people do like you. The freshman talk about you like you're some kind of superhero."

"No one is gonna believe that we actually spoke to you." Bobby exclaimed excitedly.

"He's dating our sister dipshit," Matthew replied, "of course they will." He flicked his arm out, catching Bobby around the back of the head. Again, Bobby went for a flick of his own that Matthew easily dodged. As they descended into a brotherly scuffle, Annabeth pondered what they had said. She entwined her hand in Percy's, who seemed more frozen than he had all evening. Given they'd been discussing his father, and he'd met her parents, that was saying something.

"You think it's true?" he asked her, Bobby and Matthew now completely uninterested in the couple. His eyes were filled with confusion, like he couldn't actually comprehend what they'd just said.

"It wouldn't surprise me," Annabeth replied, "although no one has said anything to me." She squeezed his hand reassuringly. "It's full of people who care about status and how they're viewed; they may like you and what you've done, but it makes sense that no one would be brave enough to openly say it. If the guys really dislike you that much, I can't see many people disagreeing with them, at least not while they're at school." Percy had a thoughtful look on his face. At that moment, Annabeth wished she were a mind reader. She wished they were alone, back at Olympus, in Percy's bed, where they could be as open and as honest as they wanted with each other. If everybody secretly felt this way, then surely it would only take one or two people to cause a shift in the school social dynamic. As popular as they may be, Luke and the boys couldn't have a gripe with every student in the school. Annabeth wondered what she could do, if anything, but before she could vocalise anything, her father called through the house that dinner was ready. The twins instantly stopped their scuffle and ran through, quick as lightning. Annabeth made a mental note to bring this back up with Percy when they were alone, before quietly taking his hand and leading them back through the house. After all, she had a family dinner to get through, with a boyfriend for the first time. This was going to be fun.

The table was completely set, with six full bowls of spaghetti placed in front of their seats. Frederick was sitting down as Athena went back and forth between the table and the kitchen, just grabbing the final few dinner items. Bobby and Matthew were sat in their normal places, and they'd seemingly laid Percy a place out opposite Annabeth, but next to her father. Annabeth was sure it was intentional, and silently dreaded the inquisition she was sure was coming.

"Percy, your place is right here." Frederick said, indicating next to him and confirming Annabeth's fears. She looked at her boyfriend, attempting to give him an apologetic look but he didn't seem fazed, giving her a subtle wink that only she noticed.

"Thank you Mr. Chase, and again thanks for having me."

"Oh it's no worry son, and please do call me Fred." Wow, Annabeth thought, first name basis already, and nickname no less. She appreciated that her parents seems to be willing to put in the effort to be welcoming, something she'd always been worried about whenever she thought of the first boyfriend meeting. She sat down as Percy slid in next to her father and examined his surroundings, the food, the table, her family. A big smile spread on his face, and as his green eyes met her grey ones, Annabeth could've sworn that Percy was sitting down for his hundredth meal with them, not his first, so relaxed he looked. As she'd noted a few times tonight, if he were nervous, he was brilliant at hiding it. Finally Athena took her seat, allowing dinner to begin. Bobby and Matthew began devouring their food immediately, clearly it had taken a lot of inner strength for them to restrain themselves until their mother was ready. Annabeth couldn't help but smile, surprised at how much she had missed that element of family dinner during her week away. She wondered how long it would be before that topic was properly raised, but for now her parents, it would seem, had something else that was piquing their interest.

"So Percy," her father began, causing Annabeth to grimace at the interrogation she was sure was coming, "are you a student at Goode?" Innocent enough start, Annabeth thought to herself, maybe this wouldn't be so bad. She was tempted to answer for him, but she knew that she would sound as nervous as she was that way and besides, the food was really good. It had been too long since her mom had cooked anything, and she suddenly found she was savouring every bite. Percy could handle himself, she thought, self-indulgently.

"Yes I am," Percy said, remembering not to speak with food in his mouth; and Annabeth briefly wondered if he'd ever had a 'meet the parents' situation before. "I started at the beginning of the semester so I've been there a few months now." So far so good. "This is really good food by the way" he added, earning a smile from Athena. Another point for Percy, carry on like this and he'll have won them over in no time. Her father continued.

"And are you enjoying Goode so far?"

"I am actually, yes. It's a big change and it's taken me a while to get used to it but I'm beginning to like it more and more." His eyes darted to Annabeth's, and she looked down at her food, certain she was blushing. Percy had the lightest smirk playing on his lips, barely noticeable unless you knew him as well as she now did.

"Where were you previously?" Athena jumped in, and before Annabeth could even register how potentially dangerous the answer to that question could be, Percy replied.

"I was at Yancy High School ma'am." A silence hung in the air, and Annabeth internally cursed herself. Of course this whole 'meet the parents' was a stupid idea; everyone in New York knew about Yancy and the type of kids that went there. Her parents could hardly disguise the look of concern she suddenly saw in their eyes, and even the twins had taken a second to stop inhaling their food and see where this went. Percy, to his credit, still looked unfazed, and it was he that broke the silence. "I know it doesn't exactly have the best reputation, but where I live it's the only school people can get into." He didn't sound nervous or defensive, and Annabeth couldn't help but admire him. He knew exactly the reaction details of his life would get from people like her parents, and although they hadn't gone into this evening with any kind of plan for what to discuss, she was glad he was going with honesty.

"And where is it you live?" Athena again, and Annabeth was sure the tone was less light-hearted than it had been before. Here comes the other bombshell, she thought to herself.

"A place called the Olympus estate, further into the city." He was now glancing at the adults too, hoping to see some kind of reaction. For the most part, it seemed to be a surprised silence. Not only was this not the typical profile of boys Annabeth had ever described to them, it wasn't the typical profile for Goode students either.

"I've heard of that place," her father spoke up, clearly noticing the awkward air that threatened to engulf dinner, "kind of a rough area though, isn't it?"

"Dad!" Annabeth exclaimed, mortified that he would be so blunt.

"Annie, I'm only trying to make conversation." He replied firmly, causing his daughter to hide her face in her hands in frustration. Athena was still hardly moving as Percy laughed lightly. This was surely up there for nightmare scenarios any parent, or daughter for that matter, could face.

"It's alright." His tone was still easy. "Yeah, it can be. I've lived there all my life though, I know nearly everyone. It gets a harder time in the media than it deserves but if you know how to handle yourself you'll be fine."

"Handle yourself?" Athena asked. Annabeth was sure her mother thought that meant fighting.

"Yeah, you know, how you carry yourself. Don't talk to people disrespectfully, don't treat people like they're less than you, listen to your elders – that kind of stuff. It's not the best area in the world but we're all in the same boat so we try to look out for each other. Bad things happen all over the city, it's just that a lot of our bad things make for headlines that sell." He sounded genuine, and Annabeth wondered how much of it was real and just made up to sound good to her parents. Having seen his world, his home, and how much it all meant to him she was fairly certain it was mostly the former. Either way, his answer seemed to have impressed her parents enough. Their eyes had lost the gravely worried look and seemed more curious than anything. It was Athena that spoke next.

"How did you end up at Goode then? If you don't mind my asking, it's just that it's notoriously difficult to get on the waiting list, and it's unusual for a transfer from a school like Yancy." Although worded well, Annabeth would've understood if Percy had taken offence, but thankfully he seemed to be fine with this. After all, Athena wasn't exactly wrong.

"My father is friends with Mr. D. I think they went to school together. I'm pretty sure it was just a favour to him." Percy could clearly see that Athena was ready to ask who his father was to have such influence over Mr. D. and interjected before she could. "He doesn't live with my mother and me, but felt that I should go to a school where I'd have a better chance of getting into college." Annabeth was pretty impressed if she was honest. Not only was it exactly the kind of answer her parents would like to hear, but it wasn't even a lie. Sure it omitted who his father actually was, but even her parents knew that too much quizzing about an apparently absentee father was impolite, especially to someone you'd just met who had been nothing short of a perfect guest so far.

"Well," Athena replied, "I can't blame him for that." She glanced at Annabeth as she said it, and in that look Annabeth knew that a very different conversation was still to be had. The difference this time, however, was that her mother's gaze wasn't piercing with authority as it normally was – Annabeth couldn't quite make out the feelings behind the look. Maybe it wouldn't go as badly as she'd been dreading. Right now though, she was just happy that they'd seemingly gotten past discussing some of Percy's rougher edges. Not that she was ashamed, but there were still parts of him and their relationship she definitely didn't want her parents to know.

Everyone spent the rest of dinner discussing school. Athena was particularly interested in how Percy found certain classes, and seemed impressed by his intelligence, although less so by his actual application. Perhaps it was just in her nature to demand people strive for greatness, but by the end of the meal, Percy was on the receiving end of a speech that sounded eerily familiar to Annabeth.

"You're clearly intelligent Percy, it's obvious just from talking to you. You've been given a fantastic opportunity at Goode to work towards a successful future and I'd hate to see you waste it." Frederick reached over and patted his hand comfortingly over his wife's.

"Lay off him honey" he said, half-jokingly but also clearly trying to move on. They all knew what Athena could be like when it came to studies (particularly after a glass or two of wine) and no one wanted to subject Percy to that. Percy, for his part, seemed amused by everything. Annabeth silently wondered if anybody had ever really stressed over his grades. She knew Sally loved him, but she also knew she wasn't the type of mother that valued Percy's academic achievements as a priority – she would accept him no matter what he did, she was just that kind of person.

"I'm just trying to say, Fred, that I hope Percy can see the chance he's got in front of him. You seem like a very well brought up person," she turned her attention back to Percy, who was nodding along. If he was pretending to be interested, he was doing a brilliant job of it. "I'm sure your parents would be very proud if you were to go off to college." Percy chuckled lightly as he spoke.

"I'm sure they would too, but studying's not really for me. I've always kind of assumed I'll go into the family business. I've not even been looking at colleges, my dyslexia and ADHD don't help me in the classroom and honestly four more years of that isn't exactly what I'd call a dream."

"You're dyslexic?" Annabeth blurted out before she could stop herself. She genuinely hadn't known, and her surprise must've shown because Percy found it amusing.

"Yeah, they never helped me out with it at Yancy, or anywhere else, so I've never really learned how to get around it."

"I'm dyslexic too" Annabeth replied, smiling. Just when she thought they were done with surprises, he sprung another one on her. Percy smiled back – sure, it was a small detail, but somehow it seemed so intimate and perfect for them. Another subtle way they connected with each other.

"See," Athena jumped in, "Annabeth can help you." She was clearly getting more animated now. Annabeth was sure that her mother was already planning a studying schedule for the two of them, and would've been ready to sit Percy down and talk through potential colleges at a moment's notice. Watching it from an outsider's perspective, Annabeth could almost admire the belief and confidence Athena had when talking about the academic potential in others. She may have gone overboard with her own daughter, but Annabeth was starting to realise that her heart was in the right place. Throughout dinner, she had also begun, ever so slightly, to imagine Percy going to college. She knew it was a long shot, studying still didn't come easy to him and he would have to have a serious turnaround if he were to get into anywhere, and quickly. Yet despite that, she couldn't help picturing herself and Percy at the same college next year, away from Olympus and Goode, and parents and Luke, just able to be with each other. They could make new friends, experience new things and grow as a couple. It was still just a fantasy, but it was a wonderful one, and honestly Athena wasn't entirely wrong. Percy was clever, and who was to say that if he applied himself for the rest of the year he couldn't get into somewhere. It wouldn't be the places that Athena wanted Annabeth to look at – the Harvard's and Yale's of the world, but lots of cities have more than one college. Annabeth made a mental note to at least broach the topic with him. She'd noticed that Percy seemed to have changed already from the person she first met at the start of the school year, and for the better. Maybe he would be open to the idea.

"Yeah, maybe she can" Percy replied, his eyes never leaving his girlfriend's.

"Well, I hope you all enjoyed that" Frederick spoke up, referring to the meal. The whole pot of food had been devoured, largely by the twins. "Bobby, Matthew, clear the table" their father said, and despite their moaning they did as they were told. Annabeth and Percy were excused too.

"Thanks again for dinner Mrs. Chase" Percy said as he stood up, just proving to Annabeth that he knew exactly how to play the polite boyfriend act.

"No problem whatsoever sweetie," Athena replied, "Annabeth why don't you give Percy a tour of the house?" Annabeth nodded and led Percy out of the room, no doubt leaving her parents to talk with each other about certain revelations about her new boyfriend. While she was sure they at least liked him, she found herself hoping beyond hope that they chose not to be difficult about it. She was the first to admit she maybe hadn't handled this whole situation brilliantly, but she also knew that all of the good signs and progress that had seemingly been made over dinner would go out of the window if they turned around and tried to stop her seeing him.

Annabeth briefly showed Percy around the downstairs rooms, before moving the tour upstairs. They glanced into various bedrooms and studies before finally ending up at Annabeth's. It was only as they approached her door that the weight of this moment began to be felt on her shoulders. Annabeth had never had a boyfriend back to her room before – this was a huge step. She'd been so used to Percy's apartment by the end of the week that she took for granted how he had just let her move into his world, his private and personal space. She had to be fair and do the same for him, but the closer they got to the door, the further away it began to seem. Her room had always been a safe space, just for her and her close friends and family. Once Percy entered there would be no turning back. As she was internally cursing her trepidation, she felt her hand brush ever so slightly against her boyfriend's, instinctively reaching out to hold it. His mere presence next to her calmed her nerves, and she wondered if he was as anxious as she was about this whole night, and this moment particular, or if he could tell that her mind was racing at a million miles an hour. She really hoped that she was as good at keeping her cool as Percy was, highly doubtful as it may be. After what felt like an eternity, step by step, they reached her bedroom door. With one deep breath, she reached up and pressed her hand against the wood. It felt cool to the touch, and Annabeth wondered if anyone had even been in there all week. She rubbed a spot on the door very briefly with her fingertips, before pushing it open. If Percy thought any of her behaviour was out of the ordinary, he didn't say.

Once open, they stepped into the room side by side. Annabeth took a second to take in her surroundings. The only light came from the moonlight through the window, illuminating her bed, shelves and desk in a pale glow. A pile of textbooks remained untouched on her desk, exactly where she'd put them down last Friday. The same could be said for the few folded clothes on her bed. It didn't look like anyone had even been in her room since she'd last been here. It was only now that it dawned on her quite how long she'd been away from home. A week may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but for a seventeen year old who had never stayed away from home outside of vacations abroad, it suddenly felt like a year. Now, standing in her clean, dark room, the seriousness of what she had done finally hit her. She was unbelievably lucky that her parents hadn't called the school, let alone the police or some kind of child services. Perhaps they had been too shocked, or too convinced by her lie that she was staying at Thalia's. More than likely they'd simply not known how to deal with it, and had tried to avoid making everything worse. That sense of guilt she had felt earlier, standing on her driveway, returned, spreading through her gut. She knew she would eventually talk to her parents, and that it would hopefully fade with time, but for now it was just sitting, festering in her gut. Her bedroom light flicked on, courtesy of Percy, breaking her out of her thoughts.

"Why am I not surprised it's spotless?" he joked, letting go of her hand to walk around and get a better look. Annabeth was suddenly aware of the lack of his hand in hers, and felt as if some kind of anchor had been removed. Pull yourself together, she thought, you should be excited. Having her boyfriend visit her home, be in her room for the first time had been a moment she'd always looked forward to, so why couldn't she shake this deep anxiety inside her? She moved over to sit on her bed, hoping Percy wouldn't notice anything. He was slowly pacing around the room, eyeing all of the spines on her bookshelves. Everything was ordered precisely and neatly in alphabetical order, a thin layer of dust lying on a lot of the surfaces around. Carefully, Percy reached out and pulled a book from its place.

"Even I've read this one" he said with a chuckle, turning to reveal her copy of The Outsiders. As he thumbed through the pages it was obvious even to Annabeth how worn out a lot of the corners were, a result of countless re-reads, for both school and pleasure. He slid the book back into its place among the others, and examined the rest.

"You've got me beat on just about all of the others though," he laughed again, "have you really read all of these?"

Annabeth mumbled some kind of response, trying to say no, but she was too lost in her own thoughts. Percy turned and face her and began approaching the bed.

"Annabeth." Her name on his lips made brought her attention back to him. "Is everything okay?" Great, she thought, clearly her skills of masking her worries needed improvement.

"Uh huh" she tried to brush it off, but found herself not resisting when Percy sat down right next to her and took her hand in his, their bodies painfully close to touching. All she could hear was their breathing. Suddenly, she began to feel hot flushes throughout her body, and her breathing became sharper, quicker. Her hands began to tremble slightly as a slight nausea swept through her. She kept trying to catch her breath, causing a knot of pain to swell up in her chest. What on earth was happening to her? Her vision began to distort, widen, like someone had put a fish eye lens over her eyes. If it weren't for the feel of Percy's hand on her shoulder, she would've been sure this was a dream. She could vaguely make out what he was saying, but her own short breaths drowned out any specifics. Sitting here on her bed, Annabeth wouldn't have been able to tell you if this had been going on for a few seconds or a few minutes. She became very aware of the need to calm herself, suddenly sure she was having a panic attack. She remembered hearing about a description of one before, but couldn't for the life of her remember where, or what to do in the situation. She turned her head slightly to look at Percy, and despite his face appearing odd she could make out his concerned expression. She looked into his deep green eyes and, through everything, began to feel herself grab a hold of her breath. She could now hear Percy, repeating for her to breathe. The feel of his arm, softly stroking up and down on her bicep, reassured her, and she began to line her breaths up with his movement.

"You're gonna be okay, keep breathing." He was speaking very quietly, and slowly but surely, Annabeth felt the wave of panic pass. Still rattled, and suddenly very drained, she felt Percy's hand wrap lightly around her shoulder and promptly fell into him. His hand gently rubbed her shoulder, and she felt small tears begin to well in the corners of her eyes. She furiously wiped them away, before sitting up and steading herself.

"I'm fine" she said, speaking more to herself than to Percy.

"You don't have to be" her boyfriend reassured her, squeezing her shoulder ever so slightly. "Can I get you anything?" he asked, concern lacing his voice. The ordeal may have passed, but Annabeth suddenly noticed how drained she felt – whatever food she had just eaten felt like it had all disappeared from inside her.

"There's a water bottle on my desk, could you fill it up? You can just use the bathroom tap." She felt kind of helpless, asking her boyfriend for things in this manner, but she knew she needed to get something inside of her, and she'd rather not make a trip downstairs to explain to her parents why she was snacking so soon after eating. Percy got up, grabbed the bottle and left the room. Annabeth used her brief moment of privacy to compose herself. She walked over to her body length mirror, scrutinising her appearance. She looked fine, if slightly distressed and pale. She brushed some strands of her hair back behind her ears, giving her eyes another wipe to make sure they were dry. Percy re-entered, and passed her a full bottle, which Annabeth proceeded to gulp down so quickly she surprised herself. She and Percy stood in silence for a moment and another wave of calmness passed over her. There was something about knowing the worst was over and having her boyfriend there for her that soothed her worries. She was unimaginably grateful that he had been here to help relax her. Percy broke the silence.

"Do you know what triggered it?" he asked, clearly recognising a panic attack when he saw one too. It made Annabeth think; it could've been a whole host of things. She wasn't even entirely sure what was happening as it was going on, so determining the cause wasn't going to be clear.

"I think just being back in my room." She still sounded quiet, and hoped her voice could regain some of its natural strength. She took his hand and walked them back over to perch on her bed. "I'd had so many thoughts, worries, going through my head all night and I think being back in here with you, it all just hit me, you know? The seriousness of what we've done."

"What do you mean?" Percy asked, clearly hoping for her to open up more.

"Percy I practically ran away" she suddenly let out, and not for the first time tonight, it was as if the flood gates had opened. "What if something had happened to me? I would've never got to see any of this, any of my family; I didn't even call them. They must've been so worried, and all the time I'm away carefree, having the time of my life." At this point she didn't even care how that line landed with Percy. She knew that this last week had been the best of her life, and for a lot of guys hearing your very new girlfriend say that could be a red flag, but if it was, Percy didn't say. Instead, he just placed his hand on hers, rubbing his thumb in the slightest of circles.

"Look," he began, "you can't time travel and undo it, and you're back now, so you can talk to them, explain and apologise if you want to. But don't feel guilty for standing up for yourself last week, and don't feel guilty for trying to enjoy yourself for once." His eyes were serious, his gaze never dropping. "Okay, I'll admit we maybe didn't act in the most responsible way," he laughed, which brought a wry chuckle out of Annabeth too despite everything, "but we're allowed to make mistakes. At least now you'll know how to act in the future." He smiled and her inner turmoil, her deep anxiety, sank further away. She knew it wasn't gone, this wasn't a problem with a quick fix solution, but Percy had helped tame it for the time being. She let out another deep breath as she fell back from her seated position, flopping her back onto her soft duvet.

"I've never had a panic attack before, not one like that anyway." As she spoke, Percy lay down beside her, so that they were shoulder to shoulder, looking up at her plain ceiling.

"Yeah, they aren't pretty" he muttered, suddenly sounding distant.

"How did you know what to do?" she asked softly, again lacing her hand through his. She turned her head slightly to face him, but found he was still staring at the ceiling. She squeezed his hand slightly, but his eyes remained gazing into the middle distance.

"You never know exactly what to do," he began, sounding much quieter, "but I've seen a couple friends have them. Grover, Calypso…" he trailed off slightly. Annabeth felt the tension in the air at the mention of the Olympian girl, but chose not to dwell on it. Percy continued. "Olympus can put your mind through a lot, not everybody copes well with it. And it's not exactly the type of thing people open up about." Annabeth thought about that, and understood completely. Olympus was already a tough, harsh world to be a part of; showing emotions and panic in that manner, however uncontrollable it was, would surely only have negative effects. She silently wondered if Percy had ever had one himself.

"I'm glad you were here" Annabeth whispered, causing Percy's head to swivel round. A small smile played across his lips.

"I'm glad I was here too" he whispered back, his tender gaze reawakening her affections slightly.

"I'm not just taking about the panic attack," she said, inching her body closer to him. She could feel the warmth radiating off of him, and as he shifted ever so slightly back towards her she was sure you could have seen sparks shooting between them. "I mean the whole night, it may not seem it but now that you're here, and we've gone through the first meeting, I don't know, I feel like we can start to move forward now, y'know?" A wide grin spread across her boyfriend's face, and even sideways she could make out the shift from gentle smile to playful smirk.

"Oh yeah? We can, can we? Well thanks for letting me know" he joked, causing her to roll her eyes.

"There'll be no more secrets anymore. Everyone knows we're together now, no hiding from anyone." It was only as she said the words that the realisation that she was right dawned on her. There was no one left to tell, she and Percy were public knowledge now. In that moment, Annabeth had no idea what lay ahead in her life, but Percy was going to be a part of it. She began to feel a budding sent of excitement, for the first time in her life she was actually invested in a relationship. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. Tonight helped prove to her that she wanted to let Percy in.

"Good, I was getting tired of hiding" he smiled, moved his hand from hers and reached up to cup her cheek. Their eyes made the usual magnetic connection, and Percy closed the gap between them. This kiss felt different from all of the others. Slow, tender and imbued with passion, this felt like the official kiss, the couple kiss, the kiss with that little bit extra feeling. It wasn't long, but it practically took Annabeth's breath away. It made her feel at once vulnerable and cherished, and when Percy pulled away, she swore he had never looked as incredible as he did just now, lying awkwardly on his back, his neck craning to face her. She laughed to herself, shifting slightly to prop herself up on an elbow. Still grinning widely, Percy copied and there they lay, leaning on Annabeth's bed. A comfortable silence engulfed them momentarily, before Percy broke it.

"So dinner went well…"

For the rest of the evening they talked and talked, dissecting the dinner conversation, laughing about the twins vacuum like eating habits, praising Athena's cooking. After the shock of the panic attack, it felt wonderful for Annabeth get lost in the flow of the conversation. She and Percy could talk about absolutely nothing for hours and never get bored. It came so easily to them, and she wondered if this was what other couples her age did. As much as Silena talked to Annabeth about Beckendorf, their dates and problems and all the usual friend gossip, she didn't know what they talked about when it was just the two of them. Those private, personal and intimate conversations were things that had to be earned. She suddenly felt very protective of her moments with Percy – if someone else were to even know the details of her whole night tonight she would feel wrong, like their precious memories had been invaded. She made a mental note to always try and remember to cherish these times, because you never know when they may come again.

The panic attack had definitely taken its toll on Annabeth's energy levels. She and Percy had only been talking for an hour or so, but she could already feel her eyelids beginning to drop, weighed down by the whole week. Knowing she wasn't going to last much longer before she began drifting off, she had one more topic she wanted to ask her boyfriend about.

"Earlier," she began, changing the topic from the joke he was in the middle of telling, "when my mom was grilling you about college, I hope that didn't bother you." She wanted to broach the topic carefully. Despite how much she had learned about Percy, the subject of college had never come, so how he would react was anyone's guess.

"From what you've told me, it seemed like I got off relatively easy" Percy laughed, and Annabeth couldn't help but laugh too. In a way he was right, although having that attitude with your own daughter was slightly different to having it with her boyfriend.

"Yeah, once she gets an idea in her head she won't let it go, she's got to be right" When Annabeth used to talk to anybody about this her voice would have a frustrated edge, but for the time being at least she was giving her mother the benefit of the doubt, sounding much calmer about it all. Sometimes it takes a monumental event in life to begin to change perspectives – she hoped this past week would have that effect on both her and Athena.

"Have you ever thought about it?" Annabeth asked, looking straight into those familiar sea green eyes. "Y'know, college, what you want to do after school. Do you have any idea?" Percy was silent for a moment, looking away from her eyes and into the middle distance contemplatively. She desperately wished she could hear what was going on in his head, these moments where she found herself unable to figure out his thinking were frustrating beyond belief. She could usually read him like a book, but it always seemed that whenever she truly wanted to know something, when it was important to her, it was like the book was written in a foreign language – she could still read the words, she just had no clue what they meant. Slowly, Percy began to talk.

"No, I'm not gonna lie it's not something I've ever thought about." He sounded frank without being judgemental. Annabeth felt a little pang of sadness despite herself, that momentary image she'd had at the dinner table seeming less likely already. She resolved to not let her feelings show for now and hear Percy out. He took her silence as indication to continue. "It's not something anybody thinks about at Olympus really. I don't really know anybody that's gone to college, I guess I just assumed I'll get a job after school and move forward from there."

"But even since being at Goode, have you never considered the possibility?" she was trying not to sound pushy, still wanting to get to the root of the problem. They were a real couple now, so she had to get used to real and honest conversations.

"What would I study?" he retorted, "I don't like any of my classes, I'm not good at any of my subjects. And that's not even bringing up my record, I thought you had to be perfect to get in?"

"Maybe for Yale or Harvard," Annabeth half laughed, although she knew he had a point. There were bad school records and then there was Percy at Yancy. Even with perfect grades it wouldn't be guaranteed. "But there's plenty of other colleges you can look at, or community colleges." She was trying to keep herself from sounding too keen on the idea of Percy going to college, unsure how all of this was landing with him.

"Yeah I guess" he muttered in response, "I don't know though. I'm not even a good student, I can't imagine college will fix that."

"You are a good student though" she exclaimed, causing Percy to throw her a perplexed look. That may have been the first time anybody had said that to him. "Just because you don't get the grades doesn't mean you're not smart." Percy had a half smile across his face as she spoke, making Annabeth grin. "I'm serious" she laughed, smacking him lightly on the shoulder.

"I know you are" he responded matter-of-factly. He was looking at her with a slightly bemused expression, and Annabeth again wondered if anybody had shown this much interest in his education before. "Why are you asking me all this?" he asked her, their hands still entwined.

"I just think it might be good for you" she answered, but even to her it didn't sound too convincing. Percy's eyes said he wasn't entirely buying her excuse either, his slightly raised eyebrow questioning her. "Fine," she huffed, deciding to be as honest as possible, "I was picturing you and me at college together, alright?" she felt her cheeks redden slightly, but immediately felt better when she saw the goofy grin plastered across Percy's face.

"Oh really?" he quipped, a jokey tone suddenly back in his voice. "Already planning my life then? I guess you are your mother's daughter."

"It's just a day dream," she replied, smiling back at him, 'I'm not actually asking you to go." She appreciated how cool he was being about this. She doubted Luke would've been so chilled about her suggesting what he do with his future.

"Okay, I'll indulge it. What does this college picture you have in your head look like?" Percy moved towards the opposite end of Annabeth's bed, gesturing with his hands as though to say that Annabeth now had the floor. He was clearly having fun, and perhaps even starting to daydream a little himself. Annabeth certainly hoped that was the case.

"Well," Annabeth began, "we'd get to start fresh. Make new friends, study together, go to parties or even just class without having to worry about people staring at us. We could even live together…" she said the last line quietly, almost suggestively. Percy's eyes lit up slightly at that, his grin still plastered across his face. Unfortunately Annabeth didn't get to find out what he had to say about that, as a knock at her half closed door interrupted their relaxed world. Slowly, her dad stuck his head round the door, and Annabeth was silently thankful that she and Percy had shifted to the opposite end of her bed when he did. Your parents walking in on you and your boyfriend was mortifying enough, she didn't need them to look any more compromised than necessary. Frederick Chase smiled lightly, if he was at all bothered by anything he saw he didn't say.

"I hate to be the dad that breaks up the party, but I imagine your parents might start to wonder where you are Percy?" He sounded perfectly normal, but the message was clear – enough for one night. This was still her parents' house, and it was pushing ten o'clock. Neither of them could really complain.

"Well my mom did ask for a free apartment this evening," Percy joked back to Frederick as he moved himself off the bed, "but I think she does still expect me back at some point tonight." In a flash he was up and ready to go. Very aware of her father behind him, Percy leaned over to Annabeth on her bed and pecked her very lightly on the lips, short and sweet. They both smiled as he moved himself towards the door.

"I'd like to talk to you for just a second Annie if you don't mind?" her father said as Percy approached him. Annabeth nodded as Percy stood in the doorway.

"Thank you for having me Mr. Chase" he said to her father, holding out his hand to shake. Frederick shook back firmly.

"It was a pleasure to meet you Percy" he replied, and sounded genuine. Then again, Annabeth had never known her father to be anything but. Percy turned to face her one last time.

"I'll talk to you soon, and about what you were just telling me…" he paused ever so briefly, Annabeth's mind going back to their college conversation, "I'll think about it." He smiled one last time before heading out of the door and Annabeth's world, at least for the time being. Their week of bliss was finally over. Perched on her bed, she suddenly realised how tired she felt again. Slowly, her dad came and sat down on the edge a few feet away from her. When he spoke, he sounded sadder than he had just a few seconds ago.

"Look, I'm sure today was quite emotional for you. It certainly was for your mother and me," he chuckled despite himself, making Annabeth smile ever so slightly. "I think it's probably best if we all get some rest, and talk about everything that's happened tomorrow, with a clear head." Annabeth nodded, she couldn't agree more, and when her father reached his hand out to her, she did the same. Once again, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt at having run away; this time however, it was tinged with a strange peace of mind. She obviously felt guilty because she loved her parents, but it had taken this extreme situation for her to comprehend just how much, and now that she had, she wasn't planning on forgetting any time soon. That was why she had tolerated her mother's demands for so long, because being close with her family did mean everything to her, and she'd lost sight of that amidst the constant tensions and arguments. They'd felt so close when Annabeth was little, but her relationships with all of them, her brothers included, had felt lacking somewhat as she had grown into adolescence. She silently vowed to try and amend that from now on, and sitting here in her bedroom, she could see the love painted across her father's face.

Just then, the door creaked open, and Annabeth's mother stood in its frame. Athena looked about as tired as Annabeth felt, and was clearly dressed for bed. There was a comfortable silence engulfing the three of them as slowly, Athena approached her daughter. Gently she cupped Annabeth's cheeks and planted a kiss on the top of her head, something she hadn't done since Annabeth was a toddler.

"I'm sorry mom" she muttered quietly, almost hearing her voice break, and Athena responded with soothing shushes.

"I know you are," she whispered, "I am too," there was no edge to her voice, Annabeth could barely remember the last time the two of them had had a conversation that didn't end in arguing before tonight, but it felt nice, almost normal. It was also perhaps the first time she could remember her mother apologising to her ever. Today was still full of firsts. "We'll talk about it tomorrow, get some sleep now, and don't you ever run off like that again." She sounded firm, but not strict like she normally would, more concerned. Annabeth guessed she could put to bed any notion that her mother didn't love her, and she couldn't have been happier about it.

"I won't, I promise" she replied, and she meant it. A small tear began to bud in the corner of her eye, and she silently prayed it would stay where it was until her parents left the room. Fortunately, they both began to make their way to the door, as Fred wrapped his arm around Athena. Standing there in her doorway, they looked for the first time in years like a truly happy couple.

"Oh and Annie," her father turned just as they were about to leave, "please try not to spring any more surprise boyfriends on us in the future, alright?" he smiled, and it made Annabeth smile to herself.

"He was a lovely young man though," Athena added sincerely, and Annabeth knew that Percy had passed whatever little tests her parents had set for him at dinner. It made the whole night worth it, just to hear that. With that, they said their goodnights and shut the bedroom door, leaving Annabeth alone in her room for the first time that night (and that week for that matter). She milled about, familiarising herself with her surroundings again as she got ready for bed. She couldn't remember exactly when the tears had begun sliding lightly down her cheeks, but they weren't annoying her, so she let them slowly trickle their way down her skin. It felt almost cathartic, like the leftover scraps of emotion gently draining out. She was smiling when she finally wrapped herself up in her quilt; smiling at how much fun she had had this week, at the relationships she had built back up at home, and at just how overjoyed she had finally felt at being with her new boyfriend. The last thing that crossed her mind before sleep took hold of her was a mop of messy raven black hair and a pair of sea green eyes, and how much she wished she could be looking into them right now. Before long she had drifted off, and the most eventful week of Annabeth's young life came to a deep, comfortable close.

(Video) Rick & Kine & Coo Gameplay + SECRET HIDDEN LEVEL! | Kirby Star Allies [Guest Star ????] 🔴LIVE

A/N: I finally got round to completing a chapter that had been incomplete for far too long, and started planning where I can see this going. It's been a good while since I started it now, so will be going back over and making some slight amendments before continuing.


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The "fish out of water" idiom refers to a character who is removed from their normal day to day and has to catch up with their new outlook on the world. This writing trope is very popular in TV pilot episodes, action movies, and across almost any genre.

What is the purpose of the slime in fish? ›

Slime is vital for fish and amphibians to survive. Besides aiding the fish in drag resistance in swimming, the slime also protects them from parasites and infection. When germs or parasites try to attach themselves to the fish, they can't because it's too slippery, or they suffocate in the slime.

Is Devilfish a real fish? ›

The devil fish or giant devil ray (Mobula mobular) is a species of ray in the family Mobulidae. It is currently listed as endangered, mostly due to bycatch mortality in unrelated fisheries.

Is fish a boy and a girl? ›

You can determine the sex of your fish by inspecting its gonads (reproductive organs), which are located towards the top of the gut cavity. Mature female fish will have orange ovaries and male fish will have white testes (see photos above).

What does the fish story mean in this is water? ›

At Kenyon, Wallace elaborated on his water parable: The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.... The fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.

How is the water fish story? ›

The speech opens with an anecdote about fish swimming in the ocean. Two young fish are asked by an older fish, “How's the water?” and one young fish turns to the other and says, “what the hell is water?” Wallace uses this story to point out that often, like fish in the ocean, we're not aware of what surrounds us.

Is fish slime toxic? ›

Some fish slimes contain toxins that either immobilize their prey or give them protection from predators. There are species that are said to have such strong toxins in their slime that a shark bite is stalled in mid-chomp.

Is fish slime good for you? ›

A team of researchers have now identified a slimy mucous coating of young fish as a potential source for antibiotics that could fight resistant infections such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

How do you remove fish slime? ›

Just leave them in the cooler you brought them home in, fill it with water until the fish are completely covered and then add two cups of vinegar. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, rinse the fish and fillet.

Did fish have brains? ›

Fish do have brains. Though its structure is anatomically different from the brains found in other animals such as humans, fish have functional brains, as well as an entire nervous system that serves various purposes such as letting them feel pain and stress, and providing memory.

Is Angel fish a true fish? ›

Angelfish are a creature of freshwater cichlid and they are one of the well-known species of tropical aquarium fish. Freshwater angelfish, or Pterophyllum scalare, are basically a species of cichlid native to South America.

What eats devil rays? ›

Larger fish and marine mammals are potential predators of the Atlantic devil ray.

What is the air bubble in fish? ›

Gas bubble disease (GBD), which is seen in captive and wild fish, causes gas bubbles to form in small blood vessels and accumulate most visibly in the fins, gills, and eyes, and sometimes the major organs. Tiny microbubbles can coalesce into larger bubbles, which block blood flow and cause tissue damage.

What causes ascites in fish? ›

Yellowtail ascites virus (YTAV) is the causative agent of ascites and deformity in fish and causes serious losses to the fish-farming industry of yellowtail fry and fingerling Seriola quinqueradiata in Japan. In 2006, cultured yellowtail died from ascites in Kochi, Japan.

What is the name of the fish that shoots water out of its mouth? ›

Archerfish boast an unusual talent: They hunt by spitting powerful streams of water out of their mouths at unsuspecting above-water insects.

What is the name of the fish that shoots water out of its mouth to hunt flies? ›

The archerfish (spinner fish or archer fish) form a monotypic family, Toxotidae, of fish known for their habit of preying on land-based insects and other small animals by shooting them down with water droplets from their specialized mouths. The family is small, consisting of ten species in a single genus, Toxotes.

Do bubbles give fish oxygen? ›

Aerate the water

To do this, fish draw dissolved oxygen out of the water – without it, most breeds of fish will suffocate. Bubblers add oxygen to your aquarium.

Do fish like oxygen bubbles? ›

While air pumps are not always necessary, there are very few circumstances where they would not be beneficial to a tank. Some species of fish, such as bettas, prefer still water, and the presence of an air pump can agitate them. In most cases, however, air pumps benefit fish by allowing them more oxygen to breathe.

What causes fish bubble eyes? ›

The #1 cause of fish popeye is trauma. Usually, a fish gets spooked or super excited and runs into something, damaging the eye. If the globe itself isn't damaged, sometimes swelling just behind the eye can push it outwards, a condition technically called exophthalmia.

Does Epsom salt help fish bloat? ›

Epsom salt for treating dropsy

A fish experiencing dropsy has a bloated abdomen and raised scales. Epsom salt may be used as part of dropsy treatment by isolating the sick fish in a separate “hospital” tank, then adding Epsom salt at a rate of 1/8 teaspoon for every 19L of water. The Epsom salt will relieve swelling.

How do you treat a bloated fish? ›

Supplement the use of antibiotics with the addition of Epsom salt at a dose of 1 teaspoon per 5 to 10 gallons and by raising the temperature to 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Malawi bloat is usually treated with metronidazole. If the fish is still feeding, metronidazole-dosed foods can be used.

Can ascites be fixed? ›

Ascites can't be cured but lifestyle changes and treatments may decrease complications.

What are kissing fish called? ›

Kissing gouramis, also known as kissing fish or kissers (Helostoma temminckii), are giant sized tropical freshwater fish comprising the monotypic labyrinth fish family Helostomatidae (from the Greek elos [stud, nail], stoma [mouth]).

What fish come on land? ›

Snakehead fish have evolved to “walk” on land! They propel themselves forward by moving their head and back fin in opposite directions. Underwater, a snakehead absorbs oxygen through its gills, just like other fish.

What is drowned fish? ›

Most fish breathe when water moves across their gills. But if the gills are damaged or water cannot move across them, the fish can suffocate. They don't technically drown, because they don't inhale the water, but they do die from a lack of oxygen. Fishing equipment, such as some types of hooks, can damage the gills.

Can you eat an archer fish? ›

Archerfish in Fishing and Cooking

Archerfish are mainly caught for the pet trade and are not eaten by humans. Since they are small, fast, and live mainly in brackish mangrove areas, they are hard to catch.

What is the fish with sharp teeth called? ›

Payara. This fish with teeth is called the “Dracula fish,” and it is rightfully called so. Just like a vampire, the payaras have two fangs erupting from their lower jaw. The size of these fangs can be as long as your little fingers! On top of that, they have dozens of sharp teeth with knifelike edges.

What fish spray water on bugs? ›

The archerfish, a species made up of 7 fish that belong to the genus Toxotes, is able to squirt water at its prey with incredible speed and accuracy. It takes just on tenth of a second after the fish has squirted its prey to anticipate the spot an insect will fall so it is ready to gobble it down.


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