Chapter 15 – Annabeth and I Start Our New Future
Two weeks after Annabeth and I reunited at camp on my birthday, I was taking the last box out of my car to my new dorm room. I walked into the small room that had two single beds, two desks, two closets and a whole bunch of boxes strewn around on one side of the room. They were all mine. I hadn't met my roommate yet. I had to admit that I was a little nervous about that. Aside from Tyson, my half-brother, I had never had a roommate in all of my years at camp. I didn't know how I would get along with someone I didn't know, but that's what college was all about. At least that's what my mom said.
I sat down on my plastic mattress. I decided the first thing I should unpack would be my sheets. I started rummaging through a box, looking for my bedding, when I heard someone come in the room. It was a sandy-haired boy whose hair was so long it touched his shoulders. He was a little shorter than me and had a big smile on his face. He was carrying a large duffle bag over his shoulder.
"You must be Percy," he said.
"Yeah, I am. And you're Roger?"
"In the flesh."
He reached out and shook my hand. He had a good, strong grip.
"It's nice to meet you," I said. "I guess we're roommates."
"Guess so. Where are you from?" He asked, putting the duffle bag on his bed.
"New York," I answered. "You?"
"What are you here to study?" I questioned awkwardly. I mean, what did you say to a guy you barely knew, but would be living with for the next eight months?
"Biology," he answered. "At least for my undergrad. I want to study in jungles and rainforests around the world. Find new species and things."
"What about you?"
"Education," I answered. "I want to be a teacher and help kids." When I said it out loud, it seemed a little lame, but I was glad I had finally picked a path in what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
"That's cool." Roger said. "You like video games?"
I shrugged. "Haven't played much."
"Well, then I'll show you everything I know."
I smiled. I liked this guy. I had a feeling we'd get along pretty well.
"And I can teach you how to sword fight," I said without really thinking that that wasn't exactly a normal activity.
"Seriously? He said. "Cool."
"Need some help moving in?" I asked, ready to change the topic.
"Nope, this is all I got," he said, flopping down next to the duffle bag and patting it gently. I looked around at all of the boxes I brought in. My mom insisted that I bring almost everything I owned, just in case. And of course Riptide was safe in my pocket.
We heard some girls giggling in the hallway. They walked by our open door. One of the girls with short blond hair in a pixie cut paused for a moment and gave us a wink before catching up with her friends.
"Sure are a lot of cute girls here," he said. "Heard there's some kind of activities fair later this afternoon. Maybe we can check it out and meet a few of them."
"I'll check out the fair with you," I said. "But I won't be looking at any girls."
"Oh, that's cool with me," he replied.
I thought his response was a little weird and then I realized he thought I wasn't interested in girls. Which was totally fine, but that wasn't me.
"No," I quickly said. "I like girls. I just have a girlfriend already."
"Oh. Does she go here with you?"
I shook my head. "No. But she is in Phoenix. She's doing a special work program in downtown."
"Too bad you'll be missing out, though."
"On what?" I asked.
"On the girls, of course. College is supposed to be about finding yourself. I wouldn't want to be tied down."
"Believe me," I said. "We've been apart. I didn't like it much. And I've spent enough time finding myself. And I'm not tied down. Annabeth is…"
"Did I hear my name?" Annabeth asked as she walked into the room. She was wearing a pretty yellow sundress, her hair falling freely to the middle of her back. I didn't get to see Annabeth dressed up too often so this made me smile. The pizza box she was holding in her hands made me smile a little wider.
"Roger, meet my girlfriend Annabeth. Annabeth, meet my new roommate Roger."
Annabeth put the pizza box down on my desk and shook Roger's hand.
"Nice to meet you," she said.
"Trust me, the pleasure's all mine," he replied, holding onto her hand a little longer than I would have liked.
Annabeth and I had driven to Phoenix together over the last few days. It was the best road trip ever. We ate junk food and sang along to bad music on the radio. After spending so much time apart, it was nice that we got to spend so much time together. After my birthday, Annabeth had called her boss's and asked for her job back. They were delighted to have her. It suddenly felt like things were aligning with the universe. We would be back in the same city at the same time, both pursuing our dreams. As I unpacked the car, Annabeth had walked to the pizza place on campus to get us some food.
"Do you guys have any plates or napkins or anything?" Annabeth asked, looking around at all of the boxes.
"We don't need napkins," I said, opening the top of the pizza box. The pepperoni and cheese smelled delicious.
Annabeth rolled her eyes and mumbled something about 'boys.' She disappeared out of the room, clearly on a mission to find napkins.
"Dude," Roger said. "She's hot."
"Yeah, she is. Do you want some pizza?"
Roger stepped up and took a piece. I started chowing down.
"How long have you two been going out?" Roger asked, his piece mostly gone in one bite.
"Ah…well, we've been friends since we were twelve. But we've been dating for about two years."
"Did you go to school together?"
"No. We met at…at summer camp."
Roger raised an eyebrow. Summer camp as a high schooler sounded immature, but Roger had no idea just what kind of summer camp it was.
"If I knew I could find a girl like that at summer camp, I'd go," he said, reaching for another piece of paper. I gobbled down my second piece as well. Annabeth returned to the room with a stack of paper towels that it looked like she had gotten from the girls' bathroom. She looked at the half-eaten pizza.
"Geez, save some for me," she said, taking a piece and putting it on one of the napkins she had brought. She handed Roger and me a napkin apiece, but we didn't really use them.
"So Annabeth," Roger said. What are you studying?"
As Annabeth went into an explanation of how much she loved architecture, I simply watched her and listened. I loved that she was so passionate about what she was doing. And sitting there, with my new roommate and the girl I loved, I was pretty sure that I had made the right choice coming to Phoenix.
A few hours later, I had driven Annabeth back to her campus. It was a little different experience for her considering she had already done a year at the college. She lived in a dormitory of just girls where she had her own room. All the girls on her floor shared a common area. There was a ping pong table, a pool table, and a really nice kitchen that they all got to use. It was pretty cool. And I'm not going to lie, I was pretty happy that she was surrounded by all girls. I mean, I knew I could trust Annabeth, but still.
"So," she said, opening the door to her room. "This is it."
I walked inside Annabeth's room. It was small, but it was very Annabeth. Her bed was pushed against the wall and had a grey blanket over it that had the skyline of New York in black at the bottom. There was a slanted drafting table next to her bed, covered in pictures and drawings. Photographs were strung up on white string and multi-colored clips around the walls. Some of the pictures were of buildings. Others were of Annabeth's friends like Grover and Thalia and some of her half-siblings from camp. There were a few photos of her dad and her little brothers. Even her step-mother was in a photograph. But the most photographs were of me and her together. Some of them I hadn't even realized had been taken. Some were action shots with me and Annabeth in full armor or running through the woods as we played capture the flag. Others were candid moments of the two of us standing close together or smiling at each other.
"Ashley Garcia," she said.
"The unclaimed half-blood that works for Chiron in The Big House," she continued. "She really likes photography. She would take pictures of everything and everyone at camp. She gave me a few of the photos when I moved out here at the end of last summer."
"Wow," I replied. "I never realized she took photographs."
"Me either. I don't even think anyone realizes she's doing it. But I'm glad she did."
She took my hand and squeezed it. That's when I noticed the Christmas present I had given Annabeth. The photograph of us at the beach on Coney Island that I had given to her in the New York City frame. It was on a small table next to her bed. At the beginning of the summer I had accused Annabeth of not having that picture on her desk at work. I hadn't even stopped to consider that she would have it in her room.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"About what?" Annabeth asked, having no idea where my train of thought had taken me.
"For the argument we had last time I was here in Phoenix. For thinking something was going on between you and Josh. For not trusting you."
She took my hand. "It's ok, Percy. We've talked it all out. We both have pasts with people we could have ended up with. But we chose each other. We love each other. And if it weren't for those moments in the past, I don't think we'd be here right now. So I think we should say thank you to Rachel and Calypso and even Luke and Josh because they all brought us here."
"You're brilliant, you know that?" I said.
She smiled and led me by the hand over to the bed. We sat down beside each other.
"I'm really glad you're here, Percy."
"I think I'm going to like it here."
"I think I'm going to like having you here."
She leaned over and kissed me. It started slowly, but grew pretty fast to a full-fledged kiss. Before too long, Annabeth had laid down on the bed and I was basically on top of her. She had one hand buried in my hair and the other roaming my back. It felt really good to be with her again. I mean, really good. I remembered the last time we had really made out like this. It was Christmas at my mom's apartment. Back then she had said she wasn't ready, which I totally respected. But the way she was kissing me on her bed, things seemed a little different.
"Annabeth," I whispered as her lips attacked my neck. Gods, I loved when she did that.
"It's ok," she said quietly.
I sat up a little, wanting to make sure I was hearing her.
"Are…are you sure?" I asked.
I looked into her eyes. They were sparkling grey. But more than that, they were confident and strong. She didn't look scared or intimidated or worried.
"Because if you want to stop, I…"
"I know," she said. "I love you, Seaweed Brain."
"I love you, Wise Girl."
I kissed her, pouring every ounce of love I had into that kiss and I knew we were both right where we belonged.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading and I'm sorry for the long delay! This may be the last chapter, but I do have an idea for a sequel. I haven't written anything yet, but the ideas are definitely circulating so stay tuned. Thanks again for sticking with me!