I do not know what came over me when I wrote this. I thought it was a good idea at first and then I was just like: Wait, what the heck am I writing? What is going on? ... But, whatever. What's done is done. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson. All rights to Rick.
Warning: Foul language used.
"Real love still happens sometimes. It's not just something we make up when we're nine.
I have to believe that.
You do too."
- Taylor Swift
See You Sooner Than Later
She was fine with being alone.
She kind of liked it actually. She liked the calmness that came with the silence that frequently surrounded her. Whether it be at home, at school, or at the library, she welcomed silence like an old time friend.
But sometimes she'd lose herself in the thought of having a real friendship. One with a living, breathing person who would enjoy her company. They would laugh together and share inside jokes. They'd watch movies, eat sweets, and go on wonderful inner city adventures together. They'd be a kind and loyal friend who would always be there for her to pick her up when she's feeling down. They'd be funny and make her laugh at a moments notice. But most of all, they'd be trustworthy. Someone who she can guarantee will always have her back and she can tell absolutely anything to.
Okay, so maybe she's thought about it more than she cares to admit.
But for a girl who's own mother avoids her like the plague, she thinks she has the right to at least dream about the possibility.
She was sitting in the library when it happened.
She was reading a book named, Greek Mythology: Famous Myths, in a comfy chair near the corner of the large room. She sat beside the window so she would get more lighting when suddenly a shadow loomed over her, blocking her natural light.
She figured it was just another snotty girl about to tell her that she's sitting in her spot, so she was quickly about to mumble an apology when she nearly choked on her saliva.
A stunning boy looked at her, a soft smile gracing his handsome face. His messy black hair stood out in all directions, like it couldn't decide which way worked best. His bright sea green eyes sparkled with mischief and curiosity, and his skin looked so tan and smooth he almost didn't seem real. Not to mention the light that shined behind his head just added to his angelic features.
She had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.
He seemed to catch the action, making his soft smile spread to a wide grin.
Sweet Jesus, even his freaking teeth are perfect.
"Hi," he greeted, his voice silky and deep.
Her shyness immediately kicked in. "Um, hi?"
"What's your name?"
"Annabeth." She waited a beat before she asked, "Yours?"
He looked down at the book she was reading, then to her eyes and answered, "Perseus."
She frowned and glanced at the page she was on. The title read, Perseus defeats Medusa. "Like the Greek hero?"
He grinned again, showing a dimple this time. "Exactly. But you can call me Percy."
She blushed as he sat beside her. Damn it, could she be any more obvious?
He draped an arm over her chair. "So Annabeth, I have a proposition for you."
"What is it?" she asked warily.
"Well, I'm kind of lacking a best friend at the current moment, so I was wondering if you'd like to fill in the role."
Uncertainty and skepticism flared inside of her at the word friend. "Did someone set you up to this?"
His eyebrows furrowed. "No, Annabeth. Of course not. This offer comes from the genuine place that is my heart."
Okay there smooth talker.
He placed his hand over hers. His warmth extinguishing the coldness in her fingers. "What do you say?"
"Why do you want to be my friend anyways?" she countered. "In case you haven't heard I'm not very good company."
He just smiled at her and said, "We'll see."
She was walking home after school one day when she saw him again.
He was sitting on a bench not far from her and as soon as she was within talking distance he said, "Well, fancy seeing you here."
She raised an eyebrow. "This is my street," she replied back.
"Really?" He looked at the houses aimlessly. "What a strange coincidence that I would find you walking around a street- that just so happens to be yours- while I innocently sit on this particularly disgusting bench?"
She snorted. "I have a feeling that you never do anything innocently."
He smiled at her, and damn it all to hell if it didn't do something funny in her chest. "Spoken like a true best friend."
Annabeth continued walking. "You know, I never agreed to that."
He fell into step with her. "Then I'll just keep bothering you until you agree."
She sighed and stopped in her tracks, suddenly frustrated. "I don't even know you. How can you want to be friends with me so badly?"
"We have more in common than you think, Annabeth," he said softly, his gaze penetrating her very soul.
"Really?" she asked doubtfully. "Name one thing."
"We're both lonely."
That made her inhale sharply. How could this boy possibly have any idea about how she felt? He was attractive, charming, and admittedly amusing. He should have tons of friends. So why does he want a friendship with her?
"I don't understand," she admitted.
"You don't have to. You just have to trust me. Can you do that?"
Strangely, she found that she could. "Yes."
"Good," he replied, grinning widely. "'Cause I trust you too." He reached for her hand then, and frowned. "Why are your hands so cold?"
She tried not to blush as he played with her fingers. "I don't know, they've always been that way."
He rubbed both his hands on hers, attempting to add warmth to them. "How about now?"
She wasn't so sure about her hands, but she was positive that her entire face just went up fifty degrees. "That's good. Thanks." She was embarrassed that her voice came out breathless.
He gave her a smoldering look. "You're welcome. I've always got your back, Annabeth."
She laughed nervously as she continued on her path. He followed her, his left hand securely wrapping around her right.
Annabeth may have been new to this whole friendship thing, but she was certain that friends didn't hold hands like this. Especially when they've only known each other for a day.
They walked in comfortable silence and once they reached her house, he gave her a tentative smile. Which was strange since she's always seen him so confident.
"So... Friends?" he asked.
She pretended to think about it, then shrugged. "Sure, why not?"
His eyes sparkled. "Best friends?"
"Don't push it."
He laughed which made her smile. She liked making him laugh.
"Alright, I'll see you soon. Don't miss me too much." He winked and walked away, looking at her over his shoulder.
She quickly turned before he could see her blush.
Friends. Just friends.
And that night she did not dream about a boy with impossibly messy hair and eyes that reminded her of the sea.
She swears she didn't.
God, she hated the mall.
She just wanted to go in, get the things she needed, and get out. But she could never do that because of the never ending lines that the stores seemed to have.
She just wanted to buy some new socks without having to wait two hours to pay for them. Was that too much to ask?
She was fourth in line seven years later and she was honestly ready to punch the woman who was at the counter. If you don't have the receipt you can't return it lady! How hard was that to comprehend? Apparently it was rocket science because the woman didn't seem to grasp the concept.
She was just about ready to explode when she felt an arm around her shoulder.
Who the fuck-
She turned and of course, there was Percy with a shit-eating grin spread across his face.
"Hey there Bestie," he greeted. "Fancy seeing you here."
"You know, I'm starting to get the slightest suspicion that you're stalking me."
"Me? Stalking? Now what would ever give you that crazy idea?"
She raised an eyebrow.
He laughed. "I'm just messing with you, Annabeth. I saw you through the store window and thought I'd say hello. I promise I'm not stalking you."
"Isn't that something a stalker would say?"
"Touché, Chase. I guess you're just going to have to trust me."
She wasn't sure what it was. If it was his confident personality, his carefree smile, or his warm eyes, but she knew in her gut that she did trust him. As insane as it was, he was able to wiggle his way into her life and got her to trust him wholeheartedly. It was a little unnerving actually.
He looked down at her hands and smirked. "Nice socks."
Her cheeks burned. "They were in sale."
"Hey, I'm not judging," he said, raising his hands in surrender. "To be honest I always wear purple socks with yellow flowers on them. They're even more in fashion than white socks with little pink bows."
"Shut up!" She punched his arm as he laughed. She'd be a liar if she didn't say she wasn't smiling the whole time.
She realized she was next in line and quickly paid for her things as Percy waited patiently beside her. What she didn't understand was why the clerk was staring at her warily. Was there something on her face?
"So what are you doing after this?" Percy asked.
"Just heading home."
"Do you want to hang out?"
She bit her lip as she thought it over. She wanted to get some studying done, but this would be their first time actually doing something together. And to be honest, she wanted to spend more time with him.
"Okay. You can come over to my house if you want. My mom doesn't come home till nine so she wouldn't mind-"
"Um, excuse me Miss?" the clerk interrupted while handing Annabeth a bag filled with her purchased items.
"Are you feeling alright?"
She frowned at him and put her hand on her forehead. She didn't feel a fever or anything. Did she look sick or something? Maybe she's been studying too hard and it's starting to affect her appearance.
"Um, yes I'm fine," she replied. "Why do you ask?"
The clerk's eyes widen as he stammered, "Oh, no reason. Sorry to have bothered you."
Annabeth furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. That was weird. What was stranger was when she turned to leave, all the other customers in line seemed pretty uncomfortable and were giving her wary looks.
She just decided to ignore it and walked out of the store with Percy still by her side.
"So you're inviting me over?" he asked excitedly, moving up and down from the balls of his feet.
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"Awesome," he grinned. He looked like a little kid on Christmas. "I can't wait. Can we go there now?"
"Uh, yeah. Sure. But don't you need to buy something? Why'd you come to the mall anyways?"
He shrugged. "No reason. I was just bored. Now come on, I want to see your house."
Percy was a part of her everyday life now.
He was like a constant thing she expected to see every day. He'd walk her to school, spend lunch with her in the library, and walk her back home. Then, they'd spend their afternoons together and he'd leave before her mother arrived home from work.
She liked spending time with him. Loved it actually. He always brightened up her day with his warm smile and charming charisma. He had a way of making her laugh and making her feel happy. She no longer felt the sting of abandonment when she thought about her father. Or the stab of sorrow she used to get from her mother's icy stare and her bare acknowledgement of Annabeth's existence. Finally, after so many years, she no longer felt lonely.
At last she had a friend.
But it was a Friday morning when things started getting strange.
Percy and her were just getting to school when he asked, "So what do you want to do tonight?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. You wanna watch a movie?"
He grinned, the dimple on his left cheek making an appearance. She tried not to stare, but it was nearly impossible not to. She almost tripped a second later and decided to blame it on his hypnotic smile.
"Finding Nemo?" he suggested.
She groaned in annoyance. "Percy, we watched that movie last week! Three times!"
"Hey, don't pretend you didn't enjoy it Annabeth. Finding Nemo is a classic."
"As amazing as it may be, can't we watch something else?"
"Fine," he sighed dejectedly. He thought for a moment, then his face lit up. As he smiled mischievously down at her, she just knew that she was going to hate whatever came out of his mouth next. "How about a scary movie?"
She blanched. "A scary movie?"
"Yeah," he said excitedly. "You know, with a lot of blood and killers and screams. It'll be awesome!"
She wasn't so sure 'awesome' was the correct term for it. Annabeth wasn't afraid of many things- spiders were the only thing that really freaked her out- but she had an incredibly wild imagination and the last time she saw a scary movie, she wasn't able to sleep well for an entire week. She never watched a scary movie again after that.
"Uh, I don't know Percy..."
"Oh come on. It'll be fun!"
She thought it over, but then felt her blood pressure drop from the vision she saw of Percy seeing her so terrified. She could just imagine it now. Her sitting in a ball position at the corner of her couch underneath the blankets and pillows, as if they would protect her or something. Yeah, so not gonna happen.
"I don't think so, Percy."
He took her hand then and pulled her to him. She gasped as she crashed into his chest. He looked at her pleadingly, his sea-green eyes growing larger by the second. It made him appear as if he were impersonating a baby seal.
"Please Annabeth? If you watch this with me I promise you can choose the movies we watch for the next two weeks."
She was still a little flustered over their closeness, but was able to mange a, "Deal."
"Thank you," he said while hugging her in the process. "You're the greatest and don't worry, I promise to protect you from any scary monsters."
Thank God he was still hugging her because the blush that overtook her face was not flattering at all. She punched his shoulder. "You're making a lot of promises there buddy."
"They're promises I intend to keep. You of all people should know I never break my promises, Annabeth."
He pulled back a bit and she did as well, but when he kissed her on the cheek she froze in shock. He had always shown affection to her before, but it was just simple things like holding her hand, giving her a hug, or playing with her curls. He has never given her a kiss.
And it wasn't a fast kiss either. His lips lingered there. The softness of them igniting her face in a bright red that spread down to her neck. Not to mention her skin tingled all across her body like she'd just been shocked with electricity.
"I'll see you at lunch," he whispered. He kissed her softly one last time and walked away, winking at her over his shoulder.
She just stood there, waving after him like an idiot while trying not to gape in surprise. She knew she had always felt something for Percy that went deeper than friendship, but now that he had kissed her? Her brain felt like it had melted and her heart seemed to be trying to explode out of her chest. What made the whole thing even more ridiculous was that he didn't even kiss her on the lips! He kissed her cheek for Christ's sake! She really needed to get a freaking grip.
She turned to find her lab partner Thalia Grace. She was a punk girl who treated Annabeth very nicely. Before Percy, she was the closest thing to a friend Annabeth had.
"Hi Thalia. What's up?"
"Nothing much. Who were you just waving at?"
Annabeth looked to see where Percy had gone, but he had already disappeared. Wow, he's a fast walker, she mused.
"Oh that was my friend Percy."
Thalia looked at the direction Annabeth was pointing at and then back at her. She scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. "Percy?"
"Yeah, Percy Jackson. He's in our grade."
"Um, there's no Percy Jackson in our grade, Annabeth."
She suddenly got a weird feeling then. "Of course there is. He's tall, with dark black hair, and sea-green eyes."
Thalia shook her head. "I've never seen a guy like that before."
The bell rang, signaling the students to head to class. And as Annabeth walked to her homeroom she became more and more puzzled. The uneasy feeling in her gut increasing.
Percy had been attending school for three months now. How had Thalia not seen him before? The high school wasn't very large, on the contrary it was small compared to other schools. Everyone knew each other here so how is it possible that Percy had passed under Thalia's radar.
She'd have to ask Percy tonight.
Annabeth felt like she was going to throw up any minute now.
Percy and her were walking back to her house after school (but not before stopping at a local video store to rent the movie). He was talking animatedly to her about- well, she really had no idea what. She was too lost in her thoughts to actually hear what he was saying.
She had asked people throughout the day if they'd ever met or seen someone named Percy Jackson before. She'd even given them Percy's description, but no one knew who she was talking about.
The whole situation was really starting to freak her out. Especially when she realized that after three months she'd never been to Percy's house before. Hell, she didn't even know where he lived! Not to mention he never talked about his family. Ever. Annabeth just assumed that he had problems with them and that's why he never told her anything concerning them.
Maybe Percy isn't the person she thought he was. And if that was true, then she honestly had no idea what she'd do. What if he really was a stalker? Or some crazy psychopath? But how could she know for sure? The only proof she had was that no one at school seemed to know him and she'd never seen his house. That's hardly case cracking evidence.
And yet she had never felt so terrified.
"Hey, are you okay?"
She jumped, her heart beating rapidly. "Fine. Why do you ask?"
"You seem a little on edge. And you're really quiet."
"It's nothing, don't worry. I was just distracted." She tried to give him a smile, but it felt forced. Plus, she couldn't meet his eyes.
"Alright, if you say so." His tone clearly stated that he didn't believe her.
They made it to her house and quickly began setting up for their movie night. Annabeth made popcorn as Percy put in the DVD. The creepy music had already begun as soon as Annabeth had sat down on the couch trying to get comfortable. Percy moved closer to her and she let him share the blanket.
As they watched the film, Annabeth did her best to shake away the unease she felt from her daily discoveries. There had to be a logical explanation to all of this and she was just overthinking the situation. There had to be.
So instead she focused on the movie, which was pretty terrifying actually. There came one particular scene where Annabeth felt the hair on her arms stand on end. She knew the killer was going to pop out, she just knew it. And yet, like the scaredy-cat that she was, she still screamed in surprise when it happened.
But that wasn't the most embarrassing part. No, the worst part was that she basically leaped into Percy's lap in the process.
"You alright there?" he chuckled.
"I should have never let you talk me into watching this," she grumbled.
"Come on, it's not so bad."
She glared at him. "Are you even human? I'm pretty sure this movie can give people heart attacks."
He laughed. "Okay, okay. We don't have to watch the rest if you don't want to."
"Thank God! Just turn it off already! Please!"
Percy turned off the television while shaking his head at her dramatics. As soon as the light from the screen vanished, the whole room was encased in black. Annabeth could barely make out Percy's face, but she could feel his presence surrounding her. It may also have to do with the fact that she was still sitting on his lap.
A minute passed before he moved. His hands went around her waist slowly, as if he were afraid she'd run off if he went too fast. Her hands were on his chest, gripping his shirt tightly to make her hands stop shaking. His forehead leaned against hers, his breath coming out in short pants.
"Annabeth?" he whispered.
She couldn't respond. She could barely breathe at the moment, let alone actually form a sentence.
"I really want to kiss you right now."
That snapped her back to the present. "I-I've never- I mean, I don't-"
"It's okay," he said, his tone reassuring. "Me neither."
"Really." He placed his hand on her cheek, his thumb moving softly across her skin. "We don't have to if you don't want to. I understand."
"No! I do," she said quickly, wrapping her arms around his neck in attempt to pull him closer. "I want to."
He smiled, making her heart feel like it was doing a gymnastics routine. She couldn't wait anymore, so she leaned in the rest of the way and kissed her best friend.
A tingling sensation rippled through her as soon as their lips touched. It wasn't a heated, passionate kiss. But instead it was warm and sweet, just like she thought a first kiss should be.
She felt as if her senses had heightened as the kiss continued. Her skin turned hot whenever she touched his skin. Her ears could only catch the sounds of their heavy breathing. His scent reminded her of the ocean, which was strange since they didn't live near one. And his lips were warm and tasted like salty popcorn.
They moved slowly as Percy's hand drifted to Annabeth's hair. He started to lean over her as she laid back against the couch, never breaking the kiss. His forearms rested beside her head as her hands ran through his dark unruly waves.
It didn't take long for the realization to hit Annabeth straight in the gut.
Jesus H. Christ, I'm making out with Percy! My best friend. Who may be lying to me. Who may be a psychopath. And also a stalker. What am I doing?! But it feels so good... SNAP OUT OF IT!
"Percy," she gasped, trying to catch her breath.
"Hmm?" he hummed while trailing kisses down her neck.
Her eyes nearly rolled back from how amazing that felt, but she was determined to stay focused.
"Where do you go to school?"
He chuckled, his voice sounded deeper than usual. "Annabeth, we've walked to the same school together for the past few months. I think the answer is pretty obvious."
He leaned back and started kissing her again. She almost relented, but she just couldn't let it go.
"Percy," she said again, breaking the kiss. "Just answer the question."
He stared at her for a moment, his eyes not shining as brightly as they usually do. "Annabeth, what is this about?"
"I asked people around school today about you, but no one knew who you were. It's been three months, Percy. How come no one has ever seen you before?"
"I like to keep to myself."
"But I asked all the teachers who teach senior classes and they've never heard of a Percy Jackson either."
He sighed. "Can we not talk about this right now?"
"No, Percy. I want to know."
He sat up. "Why is this information so important to you?"
"Because I don't know anything about you!" she exclaimed.
"What are you talking about? You know a lot about me."
"I don't know where you live, I know nothing about your family, and it seems like you don't even go to school! Why can't you just tell me, Percy? I'm your best friend, these are things I should already know about."
He frowned and looked away from her. "I can't tell you, Annabeth."
"Why not?" she asked desperately. "This is honestly scaring me, Percy! How am I supposed to trust you if you can't even talk to me about the simplest things?!"
"Annabeth!" her mother barked, flicking on the light of the living room. She didn't even hear her car pull up. "Why in the world are you yelling?"
"It's nothing, Mom. I was just talking with Percy."
Her mother scrunched her eyebrows. "Who's Percy?"
When Annabeth turned to the boy next to her, he was gone.
Percy had disappeared.
Annabeth was terrified.
It was inhumanly possible for Percy to just vanish into thin air. And there's absolutely no way that he could have just ran from the couch without her noticing.
As she laid down on her bed, she decided to weigh the options.
One, he could be a ghost. Two, he could be some sort of angel or demon that's able to disappear when they want. Three, he could just be a really, really good magician.
She groaned in frustration. Those ideas were terrible. She didn't believe in the supernatural. And she doubted magicians could vanish right in front of someone's eyes without using some sort of prop.
She was just about to conjure up some new ideas when a voice suddenly said, "You know, you're more perceptive than I thought you were."
She was so close to letting out a scream before Percy shushed her. "Be quiet. You don't want your Mom coming in here now do you?"
Her heart was beating against her rib cage and she couldn't stop herself from hyperventilating. "H-How'd you get in here?"
"Calm down, Annabeth. I'm not going to hurt you."
She kept her defenses up. "What are you?"
"What am I?" Percy paused before smirking at her. "I think the real question is, where do I come from?"
He laughed at Annabeth's confused face. He sat down on the bed facing her, a pleasant smile on his face.
"You see, Annabeth. I didn't expect you to be questioning me so soon. I thought we'd have more time together."
"What are you talking about?"
"Listen, we have fun don't we?" he asked, completely ignoring her question.
She nodded because well, it was true.
"And we're best friends?"
She nodded again.
"And you like me, right?"
She gazed down at her lap, embarrassed as she nodded a third time.
"Then you've got to be careful, Annabeth. Because other people can't see me. You're the only person who can."
"Why? How come I'm the only one?"
He smiled softly as he tapped her forehead. "Because, Annabeth. I'm not real."
She inhaled sharply as the boy in front of her started to dematerialize.
"You made me up."
"I'm crazy aren't I?"
Annabeth did her best to try to keep calm, but the situation was really freaking her out.
Percy shrugged. "I guess it depends on your definition of crazy."
It was around three in the morning. She was pacing her room, trying to grasp the information that Percy had dropped onto her lap a few hours before.
He had been sitting on her bed looking as bored as ever, as she was having a mental breakdown.
"Well I guess this explains why people always look at me weird when I'm talking to you in public," she mused.
"Yeah, I try not to appear to you in those situations. You've got to be more careful from now on."
She glared at him. "Maybe if you had told me about this beforehand I would have been."
"I wanted you to like me as Percy. Not, Percy-the-guy-you-made-up-in-your-head. I think it helped us build a better relationship that way."
"'Better relationship'?" she repeated in disbelief. "You're insane!"
"No sweetheart, that would be you," he smirked.
"You just said it depends on a person's definition of crazy!"
"Oh you're definitely crazy. I was just trying to be nice."
"You're no help at all," she grumbled angrily.
"Annabeth, I know as much about this as you do. I'm the one in your head after all."
She groaned frustratedly, pulling the hair at the top of her head in the process. "I think I liked you a lot better when I didn't know you weren't real."
"Yeah, well, it's a little late for that."
"No kidding." Her eyes suddenly widened and she stopped in front of him. "How am I able to touch you? I mean, if you're not real, I shouldn't be able to do things like hold you're hand let alone kiss you."
"I don't know, Annabeth. Imagination is a pretty powerful thing." He then grinned mischievously at her. "We could always test the limits. I'd be more than happy to volunteer."
She threw a pillow at him. "Get your mind out of the gutter."
"Technically it's your mind so..."
She wondered if it was possible to beat him up. Maybe if she focused really hard...
"Don't even think about it."
She rolled her eyes. "Oh great. You can read my thoughts too?"
"What part of 'being in your head' do you not understand?"
"Wait, so you've known what I've been thinking this whole time?" Her face flushed as she recalled everything she's ever thought about him.
"Yup. And I must say, I was pretty flattered."
"Well, it's not like I didn't feel the same way."
She looked at him in shock.
He smiled at her reaction, got up from the bed, and walked over to her. He tucked a loose curl behind her ear. "You may have created me, but I can still think and feel for myself."
"How does that even work?" she asked in a mixture of astonishment and wariness.
"Imagination, Annabeth. Remember?"
"Now this is starting to feel like some sort of Disney fairytale gone wrong."
He laughed as he leaned in closer to her. It was amazing that despite everything, he could still make her feel like she was floating on a cloud.
"Promise me something, Annabeth," he whispered against her lips.
Before she could think twice about it, she found herself saying, "Anything."
"Don't let them separate us. No matter what they say or do, don't let them take you away from me."
She stared at him, confused. "Who's they?"
And before she could say another word, he kissed her.
And damn it, she didn't care if he wasn't actually there. Because if there was one thing she was sure about, it was this. Percy and her. In this moment. Together.
And it sure as hell felt real to her.
"Percy, I can't talk right now."
He pouted. "Why not?"
"Because I'm in the middle of taking a test," she hissed quietly.
She sat in the left corner of the room in the back row. Now that she was more conscious of her predicament, she made sure to maintain as far a distance from people as possible. Especially since Percy decided to be by her side all day every day from the moment he told her the truth. Which wasn't bad per say, she rather enjoyed his company, but there were moments like these where he really needed to just go away.
"I can help you. I'll just walk over to that guy's desk and tell you what he wrote for number five."
"No, Percy. That's cheating. Just please be quiet and let me concentrate."
She looked down at her page again. She studied hard for this test, but that didn't make the material any easier. At one point she got stuck on number eleven and nearly fell out of her seat when a certain boy's voice said in her ear, "The answer's C."
"Jesus, Percy! Don't do that!"
"Ms. Chase!" bellowed the teacher, Mrs. Keene. "There is no talking during the test!"
Annabeth flushed in embarrassment as her classmates snickered. "Sorry, Mrs. Keene. It won't happen again."
She gave Percy a murderous look to which he had the decency to give her a guilty one in return.
As soon as she was finished the test, Annabeth stormed out of class and sped to her locker. Unfortunately, Percy was hot on her trail. Annoyance built up inside her because she honestly just wanted to be alone for a while, but it was impossible with him hovering around her at all hours.
"Annabeth, I'm sorry."
She ignored him.
"I didn't mean to get you in trouble."
She put her books in her locker without saying a word.
He sighed. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him running his hand through his hair, something he only did when he was frustrated. "Listen, I don't want you to be mad at me. I care about you and all I wanted was to talk to you for a while, but I obviously have terrible timing-"
"The worst timing," she corrected.
"Hey, I got you to speak," he beamed.
She scowled at him. His shoulders slumped.
"Sorry. This isn't time to joke."
"No, it's not," she sighed. "I need space, Percy. I can't entertain you at all hours of the day. Sometimes I need to be alone."
He nodded vigorously. "I can do that. I promise from now on I'll give you space... And I really am sorry, Annabeth."
"Apology accepted. But I get to decide what we watch on TV for the next two weeks."
He grinned. "Deal."
It was a Friday when something surprising happened.
Annabeth had come home from school with Percy in tow. She was telling him about the explosion Leo Valdez did in chemistry class when she stopped in her tracks.
There, in her kitchen, was her mother.
Her mother. Home. Before nine. On a Friday.
Surprised didn't seem to cover it. Especially since Athena was running around the kitchen trying to cook three things at once on the stove.
Annabeth's mother never cooks. One time when she was five, Athena had tried to make a special breakfast for her birthday and they ended up having to call the fire department. On the bright side, Annabeth got to see the inside a fire truck.
"Mom?" she asked warily. "Why are you home so early? And why are you cooking?"
"Oh!" Athena exclaimed, clearly startled by her presence. "Hello honey. I was just cooking dinner."
"We have guests coming over tonight," Athena explained while checking the chicken in the oven. "A possible investor and his son. I'm supposed to convince him to support the company over a home-cooked meal because apparently, he loves this sort of thing."
Feeling sympathetic, Annabeth offered to help. The way her mother's eyes brightened and the permanent frown on her face disappeared, made Annabeth's heart warm. Although her mother has stayed as far away from her life as possible, she is still her mother. She may work 24/7 and not talk to her at all, but Annabeth still loves her despite the neglect she has received.
After around an hour and a half of slaving over the stove, Annabeth and her mother were successfully able to create an impressive looking chicken dinner with potatoes and steamed vegetables on the side. As soon as they finish, Athena instructs Annabeth to get dressed in her nicest clothes since she will be joining in the evening festivities.
Annabeth frowned as she walked up the stairs to her room. This is exactly what she had always wanted, spending her Friday night with her mother and her potential business partner. What fun...
But, as always, she does what her mother asks of her. She was looking through her closet when Percy decided to pop out of nowhere. "What are you looking for?"
She had gotten so used to his little Houdini act that she didn't even jump anymore. "Something to wear for dinner tonight."
"Oh right. Your mom has company coming over."
"Yeah. She told me to dress accordingly, but I'm not sure what to wear."
"How 'bout a dress?" he suggested. "I've never seen you in one before."
She grimaced. "I only have one and I've never worn it in public."
"Because I didn't look good in it."
He rolled his eyes. "Yeah right. There's no way you wouldn't look good in it. Let me see."
"Annabeth," he warned, "don't make me tickle you."
She glared at him. "Fine. But get out. I'll call you when I'm ready."
He did as she asked and she quickly pulled out the dark purple dress from the back of her closet. She put it on and placed the matching silver belt around her waist. She called Percy back and waited for his verdict as he stared at her.
He walked towards her, his face just inches from her own. He reached behind her head and pulled the elastic band out of her hair, making the blonde curls fall over her shoulders.
"I like it when your hair is down," he whispered.
She nearly died right there.
"You look beautiful, Annabeth." His hands moved to her cheeks, holding her head in place. His warm breath fanned her face as he leaned in closer. His sea-green eyes making her feel like she's drowning in the ocean. "I need to kiss you."
Oh. My. God.
"Well, if you must," she responded, clearly breathless. He smiled at her, his eyes crinkling at the corners, before removing the rest of the space between them and kissing her softly.
She melted into him. Literally. Okay, maybe not literally, but it sure as hell felt like it. She ran her fingers through his thick, raven hair and sighed as he wrapped his arms around her waist, bringing her closer to his chest.
He kissed her deeply, walking backwards until they both fell on her bed, with her on top of him. They didn't stop. They couldn't stop. The longer she kissed him, the stronger her connection to him became.
He ran his hands up and down her back, occasionally tangling his fingers into her hair and making her shiver. Eventually, she just couldn't breathe anymore and she separated herself from him with a gasp. They stared at each other, breathing hard as they tried to catch their breaths.
It was then as she looked down at him that she knew. She was in love with him. She was in love with this funny, annoying, childish, loyal, charming, and incredibly amazing boy.
And he wasn't even real.
"Hey," he whispered hoarsely, "don't cry."
Was she crying? She hadn't even noticed, but sure enough, a stray tear streamed down her cheek. Percy wiped it away with his thumb, kissing the spot where it had resided.
"Annabeth, why are you crying?"
"Because," she sniffled. "You're not real, Percy. God, why couldn't you be real?"
She looked at his face and was surprised to find that his own eyes were shining with unshed tears. "I'm sorry, Annabeth. I wish I was."
"I'm in love with you," she whispered brokenly.
He closed his eyes then, taking a deep breath before opening them again. "I'm in love with you too."
She kissed him hard while clutching his shirt, afraid that if she let go, he would disappear.
"Annabeth!" Athena called. "Come down! Our guests are here!"
"I have to go," she told him regretfully. He nodded and helped her stand. She grasped his hand in hers. "Will you come down with me?"
"You want me to stay for dinner?" he asked, his face scrunching up in confusion.
"Yes, I do. I want to be near you. But you'll have to be quiet okay?"
He smiled brightly. "Okay. I'll be quiet."
He then kissed her one last time before they descended the stairs hand in hand. The hardest part though, was letting go as they entered the living room.
The visit was turning out just fine. Athena had introduced her to the possible investor, Hermes Castellan, and his son Luke. They all had polite conversation and sat down for dinner not long after they had finished the appetizers. It was during the meal when things went downhill.
Athena and Hermes immediately began talking business as soon as the chicken was served. So, Annabeth didn't really have much choice but to talk to Luke. He sat next to her and she could admit that he was attractive, but he was nothing compared to the imaginary boy sitting to her right.
"So, how old are you?" she asked conversationally.
"I'm nineteen," he responded. "I turn twenty in May. What about you?"
"Seventeen. My birthday's in June."
They continued to talk pleasantly. He even made her laugh a few times from his childhood stories. She was actually enjoying herself, but she couldn't help but notice Percy's sudden change in demeanor.
She glanced at him every few minutes and every time she did, he either had a frown or scowl on his face, or a deadly glare in his eyes. She was worried, but she couldn't ask him what was wrong in front of the company. The only thing she knew was that whatever it was that had made Percy so angry, it wasn't going to be good.
Luke had just finished retelling his story of his visit to Greece when he put his hand over hers. "I could take you there someday if you'd like," he offered.
Annabeth was speechless. No one had ever voluntarily wanted to take her anywhere before (except Percy, of course), especially not some handsome, rich, college guy.
She was about to politely decline, when Percy was suddenly by her side. "I need to talk to you," he said harshly.
For the first time in weeks, she jumped in surprise at his sudden proximity. Not now, she said in her head, glaring at him through the corner of her eye.
"Annabeth?' Luke asked, looking at her with concern. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just-"
"Annabeth. I want to talk to you," Percy interrupted. "Tell him you're going to the washroom."
She looked back to glare at him again, but stopped herself when she saw how troubled he looked.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Luke repeated, grabbing her attention. "You just stopped talking all of a sudden."
"Yes, I'm okay," she assured him. "There was just a fly somewhere." She swatted around Percy's general area for good measure.
Luke looked at her strangely. "Okay then."
"I have to go to the washroom," she blurted. "I'll be right back."
She then rushed from the table before he could say a word. She went to the hallway where the washroom was located and found Percy, pacing back and forth.
He stopped moving and stared at her. His eyes cracked with hurt.
She walked towards him immediately, throwing her arms around his neck. "Percy, what happened?"
"You won't go with him will you?"
She gave him a confused look. "Go where with who?"
"Luke," he said, saying his name with clear distaste. "You won't leave me for him and go to Greece?"
She shook her head, utterly surprised by his question. "Of course not, Percy! How could you ever think that?"
He looked down miserably. "Because you were laughing and smiling with him. And he's rich and can take you places and buy you things. And because he's..." he mumbled the rest.
"Because he's what?"
He lifted his eyes to hers. "Because he's real."
"No," she said, her tone filled with certainty. "No, Percy. I would never leave you for him. Never. I love you, not him. You."
She kissed him then, trying her best to take away all of his anger and insecurity. It didn't matter to her that he wasn't real. She loved him and he loved her. That's all that mattered. Yeah, she was crazy for falling for an imaginary boy, but honestly, with Percy by her side she just didn't care. Not even for a moment.
"I love you," she whispered as they pulled apart.
He kissed her nose. "I love you too. So much."
She placed her hand on his cheek. "You're the only guy for me. Okay? Don't you forget it."
He smiled down at her, but frowned when he looked over her shoulder. She turned around to find Luke, staring at her worriedly. "Annabeth? Who were you talking to?"
She felt her face whiten. "No one! I mean, I was just... On the phone! Yeah, I was on my cell just a second ago. Talking to someone. A person. Who is real."
Percy snorted. "Nice save."
She ignored him.
Luke looked completely confused. "Uh, okay. Well, your mom told me to tell you that dessert is served."
"Okay," she smiled, trying her best to appear as calm as she could. "I'll be there in a minute."
He nodded and left. She turned to Percy and he shook his head at her, smiling softly. "You really need to think of better lies."
"Well sorry!" she huffed frustratedly. "He caught me off guard."
"I know," he said, kissing her forehead. "We just have to be careful next time."
She hummed in agreement. "I should get back. Do you think you can control yourself and keep your jealousy at bay?"
"What jealousy? I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, Annabeth."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Right..."
"Shush you." He leaned in and kissed her one last time before sending her back to the dining room.
The dinner ended well.
Athena was able to land a deal with Hermes, which in Annabeth's opinion, should have made her mother look at least a little bit joyful. But instead, Athena's scowl seemed harsher than usual. Her brows were knit as she washed the fragile china plates.
Annabeth knew something was up, and to say she wasn't nervous to see what her mother would do would be a complete lie.
She glanced at her through the corner of her eye, pretending to be invested in organizing the silverware. It felt like she was waiting for a volcano to erupt and melt her with its magma.
"So, you and Luke seemed to get along well."
Annabeth pursed her lips, wondering where she was going with this. "I guess."
"He told me he invited you to Greece."
"Yup," she replied, not wanting to go further into it.
But of course, Athena wasn't one to let things go. "Did you accept?"
"No, Mom. I didn't."
"I see." The bitterness in her tone surprised her. "Is there a reason why?"
Annabeth gave her a puzzled look. "I didn't want to go to some foreign country with a guy I barely know. I think that should be reason enough."
"Are you sure no one was influencing you? Telling you to say no?"
She stiffened, her eyes widening in the process. Athena couldn't have known could she? She had been so careful. Other than the one time that Luke-
Oh God. He wouldn't. He wouldn't have said something to her mother. Right?
"What are you implying, Mom?" Annabeth asked calmly, doing her best to keep her composure.
"Luke said something that bothered me before he left," Athena explained, eyes narrowing in accusation. "Something about how you were talking to yourself in the hallway."
"I wasn't talking to myself. I was on the phone."
"So you say. Yet your phone was still on the dining table when you left."
Annabeth's blood went cold. It didn't help that Percy decided it was a good time to appear in that moment. "Well, we're screwed," he said.
"Thank you Captain Obvious," she muttered back.
"I had hoped you would grow out of this," Athena sighed, not noticing her daughter's petrified state. "But clearly you haven't. So tell me, what's the name of this one?"
"What do you mean by 'this one'?"
"The first one came when you were four years old," Athena said, her nose crinkling as if she smelled something awful. "Her name was Piper. You were always playing dress-up with her and pretending you were both movie stars. It was cute in the beginning until I realized that Piper wasn't just some imaginary friend to you. You honestly thought she was real."
"It was a year later before Piper suddenly 'moved away'. Then Jason came along when you were seven. According to you, he was capable of flying. And since you wanted to be like him, you decided to climb a tree and jump. You broke your arm and after that little stunt, I couldn't take it anymore."
"I sent you to a psychiatric hospital over the summer and by the time school started, you were good as new. You didn't have any imaginary friends from then on." Athena looked at her then, frustration and disgust clear in her eyes. "Until now that is."
Annabeth was shocked. This has happened to her before? For the life of her, she couldn't remember any Jason or Piper. She didn't even remember the summer she spent in the psychiatric hospital. She figured she must have subconsciously blocked it from her memory.
"You thought of a guy who wasn't me?" Percy asked, pouting like a child who just dropped his ice cream.
"Percy, not now!" Annabeth exclaimed. "Can't you see I'm in the middle of a crisis?"
"So his name is Percy?" Athena mused. "A little old fashioned, but I'm not one to judge."
Annabeth cursed under her breath. She hadn't meant to talk to Percy out loud. Now she just revealed herself and proved Athena right.
"Since it appears that your disorder isn't going to go away on its own, I've arranged to have a room ready for you in the psychiatric hospital."
Annabeth paled. "When would I have to leave?"
"They're picking you up tomorrow morning," she responded evenly, as if sending your daughter to a mental institution wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
"But, Mom!" Annabeth protested. "I don't want to go! I still have school. I can't just-"
"I'm sure your principal will understand your absence. Your leaving tomorrow, Annabeth. And that's final."
"Mom, please!" she begged. "Don't make me go! I don't want to lose him!" She looked at Percy in despair. He stared back at her in a state of sad acceptance, like he knew this was going to happen from the beginning.
"Annabeth, he does not exist," Athena said harshly. Percy flinched back at her words. "The sooner you get that through your head and the sooner you get your sanity back the better. I can't have a nutcase for a daughter."
Annabeth was openly sobbing now as she ran up the stairs to her room, not daring to look back at the cruel woman that is her mother.
She crawled into her covers and cried into her pillow, unintentional animal-like sounds coming from her throat. She might have sobbed the whole night if it weren't for the warm arm circling around her waist, catching her attention.
"It'll be okay," Percy whispered in her ear, his hand rubbing soothing circles over her back. "Everything will be okay, Annabeth."
She didn't respond. Instead, she mushed herself against him, clinging to his shirt, and settling her face into the crook of his neck.
He kissed her hair. "Don't worry. We'll always be together, Annabeth. Nothing can tear us apart."
She was well aware he said those words to alleviate her pain, and yet she just couldn't bring herself to calm down. Because internally, she knew just as well as he did.
They were complete lies.
It wasn't as bad as she had thought.
The hospital was cheerier than what she had anticipated. The people were extremely pleasant as well. Even her room wasn't as terrible as she had originally imagined.
Despite all the good attributes of the place, that still didn't mean that she wanted to be there. Truthfully, the only thing that was getting her by was seeing Percy.
He'd visit her throughout the day, always making her laugh and getting her to forget the harsh reality that awaited her every time he left. But recently, Percy's visits have come less often than usual.
She knew it had to do with the medicine they were giving her. Her mind felt like it was getting clearer, but if that meant that Percy would be gone from her life forever, she really didn't give two shits. She would rather spend her life looking insane rather than losing Percy for good, even if that meant spending the rest of her existence in a mental hospital.
So, she decided she wasn't going to take her medicine anymore. She faked it for a week and Percy's visits were already becoming more frequent. She was surprised to see that Percy didn't like what she was doing.
"You have to take your medicine, Annabeth," he told her, his tone firm and serious.
She shook her head. "No, Percy. Not if it means I'll never see you again."
He sighed, running his hand through his hair, making it more unruly than usual. "You need to, Annabeth. It's the only way you're going to get better and be released from here."
"I don't care about that," she said, taking his hands in hers. "I just want to be with you. I love you, Percy."
"God, Annabeth. I love you too. I love you so much it hurts, but I can't do this anymore if it means that you're going to spend the rest of your life in here. I don't want that for you."
He brought his hands to her cheeks, staring at her pleadingly. "I need you to understand, Annabeth. I want so much more for you than for you to waste your time living in this white prison cell. I want you to go to college, have a career, get married, start a family-"
"I do too!" she exclaimed, bringing her face closer to his. "I want all those things, but not just with anyone. I want it with you. No one else. You."
"But you can't," he said brokenly, his expression nearly tearing her apart. "I wish you could do that with me, but you can't, Annabeth. I'm not real and I never will be."
He exhaled, then leaned in and kissed her softly. He separated after a few seconds and said the words that ultimately killed her inside. "I think it's time for you to let me go."
And despite her internal rebellion, she did as he asked. She took her medicine and as the days went by, the less she saw of Percy. Eventually, he was only able to visit once a day. The doctors saw it as progress. She saw it as the slow, painful death of her soul.
The last day she would ever see him was a Tuesday.
They sat on her small bed together, not saying a word because honestly, what more could they say? Instead of speaking, Percy entwined his fingers with hers, played with her curls, and kissed her as much as he could.
She did the same.
At some point she asked, "Do you think I'll ever be able to see you again?"
Percy looked at her sadly. "I don't know, Annabeth. I sure hope so."
Tears filled her eyes. "I'm going to miss you."
He hugged her tightly, burying his face into her hair. "I'll miss you too, beautiful. God, I wish things could have been different."
She nodded against his neck in agreement, too choked up to speak.
He sighed as he pulled away from her, looking at her tear streaked face. "It's time, Annabeth."
"Please don't go," she begged, the panic suddenly rising in her chest, threatening to explode. "Stay with me, Percy. Please. Don't leave me."
"I have to, Annabeth," he said regretfully. "I'm sorry." He kissed her, long and hard and passionate. It was unlike any kiss he had ever given her before. And the feeling of how good it was just made her cry harder because she would never feel something so amazing ever again.
"Thank you," he whispered against her lips, his breath coming out in short pants. "Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making me feel real."
He fixed her with an intense gaze so full of love and adoration that she could hardly take it. "I love you, Annabeth. And I always will."
She kissed him again, showing how much she cared for him through the desperate movement of their lips.
"I will never forget you, Percy," she promised. "You were there for me when I needed you most and for that, I could never thank you enough. You showed me what true love really is and I will always love you. That will never change."
They kissed one last time and whispered their final declarations of love to each other. It wasn't long after that until Percy's form started to fade. She clung onto his hands, desperately roaming her eyes over his face so she wouldn't forget a single detail.
He grinned at her, the cute dimple on his left cheek making its final appearance. "I love you, Annabeth."
Despite the sad departure, she couldn't help but smile back at him. "I love you, Percy."
And then he was gone.
To say she didn't break down afterward would be a total lie.
She sobbed and threw the few things she had in her room at the wall. She was in such a bad state the nurses had to come in and try to subdue her.
They told her that she was safe. That she was in good hands. That everything was going to be okay.
But it wasn't.
It wasn't going to be okay because he was gone.
He was gone.
She screamed as the two nurses tried to hold her down. "PERCY! COME BACK! PLEASE!"
"You have to let him go, sweetheart," one of the nurses told her in a calming tone, but the words cut her like knives. "It's better this way."
No. It wasn't better.
Nothing was better without him.
"PERCY!" she continued screaming. "NO! PERCY!"
It was only a second later when she heard it. The voice that lifted her spirits, that brought light into her life, that made her heart stop and speed up all at the same time.
Her stomach churned at how desperate he sounded. But what surprised her the most was that the nurses stopped holding her back. They stared at each other in astonishment as if they couldn't believe what they were hearing.
Wait, were they actually able to hear him?!
"ANNABETH! WHERE ARE YOU?!"
She snapped out of her stupor and ran out the door before her nurses could stop her. She dashed towards the sound of his voice, frantically calling for him. He answered back, yelling her name.
She could hear him getting closer. And closer. And closer. Until finally, she saw him.
Percy stood a few feet away from her, gazing at her with wide eyes and a crazed look on his face. She thought she must have looked the same because she was utterly puzzled to not only see him, but to see him with a patient uniform on.
"Oh my God," he breathed, stepping closer to her. He raised a shaky hand to her cheek, grazing it softly with his fingers. He let out a startled gasp as his skin met her own.
"You're real?" he choked out.
She didn't know what he was talking about, but she honestly didn't care. He was here. In front of her. And she was foolish to ever think she could have had the strength to let him go.
It wasn't until a man in a business suit, who appeared to be around his forties, came stumbling after Percy, did she finally realize the truth of the situation. The man looked like an older version of Percy, which could only mean that this man was his father.
"Son," he said gruffly and breathlessly, clearly winded from chasing after the raven haired boy. "That couldn't have been her. She's not-"
"She is," Percy insisted. "She is real, Dad." He then looked at her lovingly. "And she's standing right in front of me."
His father seemed stunned as he stared down at her. "You're Annabeth?"
She nodded, a large smile spreading across her face. She then gazed at Percy and placed her hand on his cheek, just as he did to her. Her smile grew wider as he leaned into it.
"Are you real?" she asked, trying not to get too excited at the possibility.
He grinned at her, his dimple making her heart hammer in her chest. He stepped closer to her and leaned his forehead against her own. Her breath stalled.
"Yes, Annabeth," he whispered. "I'm real."