Author's notes: And now back to the previously scheduled Percy/Annabeth fic. This was inspired by a throwaway line in another fic I'm working on. It didn't actually make it in there, so I decided to explore the idea. There can never be enough post-TLO fics! Also, this marks my return to writing in the past tense! I don't know why the present tense lasted as long as it did. Hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Cheater, Cheater

"You're late," Annabeth said as Percy slid into the spot next to her at the study table in the library. She glanced up briefly from her homework, and noticed something was amiss with her boyfriend. "And you're wet. Did you get in a fight with the plumbing again and lose?"

Percy frowned at her, running a hand through his damp hair.

"Har har, very funny," he said, reaching for his book bag. "It just so happens that I tried out for the Goode High School swim team this afternoon."

"That explains why you smell like chlorine then," Annabeth replied, wrinkling her nose. "Why would you want to join the swim team?"

"Chiron suggested I have some sort of physical activity this year to help manage my 'angry, aggressive tendencies' before I come back to camp next summer so I don' know, destroy everything again. Since I suck at every sport imaginable except sword fighting and Goode's fencing team is non-existent, I decided the swim team would be my best bet."

Annabeth nodded, understanding. Demigods were usually advised to stay away from competing in sports during their high school years because they drew too much attention to themselves; most demigods didn't listen and joined the teams anyway. Being a super good athlete was one of the only ways many of them could fit in and make friends at school, even if it was a huge, glaring neon sign screaming "Fresh Half-Blood Meat This Way!" to any monsters passing by.

Percy joining a sports team was probably a hundred times worse than a normal demigod because of the Curse of Achilles. His reflexes were faster and swifter than any demigods who were, in turn, faster and swifter than most mortals, so he'd probably look like a super human freak on the playing field and she didn't even want to think about what sort of trouble his invulnerability could cause in a contact sport like football.

But the Curse of Achilles also made Percy a lot more belligerent than usual, especially when he was inactive, and he'd gotten into a lot of fights at school last year because he was too easy to provoke. He'd even snapped at her a few times before she set him straight on how well that was going to fly with her, which was not at all.

"But you on the swim team," Annabeth said, tapping her pen against her chin. "Isn't that cheating in some way? You being the son of Poseidon, lord of the sea and all things watery, and everything?"

Percy shrugged.

"Was it cheating when you joined Mathletes because you're a smarty pants daughter of Athena, Wise Girl?"

"Mathletes is completely different," she replied, her cheeks coloring. Percy arched an disbelieving eyebrow. "All right, I see your point. But you have to admit that you have an unfair advantage."

"Not really. I mean, I don't have to breathe underwater or anything, but the coach told me my form sucks and manipulating pool water is a lot harder than ocean water without the currents," he said, plopping a heavy textbook on the table and opening it up so he missed Annabeth's incredulous stare. "Besides, there's still two days left of tryouts. I'm not guaranteed to make anything at this point."

"You'll do fine," Annabeth said, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. "So long as you don't cheat."


Two day later, Annabeth received a text message during the middle of Physics which read:

How r u feelin abt eating ur words 4 lunch, WiseGirl?

Annabeth hastily texted a response under her desk.

Did you make the team, Seaweed Brain?

Her phone vibrated in the palm of her hand a few minutes later.

Yup. All thx 2 my mad underwater skillz. Will b l8 4 studying 2night tho. Have 1st practice.

Okay. Congratulations…Cheater.


"So is that your new nickname for me now?" Percy demanded, throwing himself into the seat across from Annabeth. "'Cheater?'"

"You're just so cute when you get indignant," Annabeth replied, filling in another problem before looking at him. "How did practice go?"

"Fine. Just went over the ground rules, when practices are and upcoming meets and stuff. We don't get in the water until next week," he said. "D'you know I have to wear a Speedo? Gross."

Annabeth momentarily allowed the image of Percy in a Speedo to play around inside her head. She decided then she rather liked this whole swim team idea.

"Anyway, my mom and Paul are going to throw a nice, congratulatory dinner since me being in school activity that isn't detention is a huge deal. They said I could invite my always awesome and supportive girlfriend, but since she thinks I'm a cheater – "

Annabeth found Percy's leg under the table, and stroked her bare foot up his calve. He stopped mid-sentence, and gave her a funny look. Since she couldn't give him a good whack in the arm or ankle any more, thanks to his stupid invulnerability, she had to find more convincing ways to get through to him sometimes.

"I did mention that I think swim team boys are really, really hot?" she asked, propping her chin on her hand and fluttering her eyelashes like one of the Aphrodite girls had taught her. She ran her foot just a little higher up his leg for emphasis.

Percy made a noise that sounded like his heart had leapt up into his throat, and then said, "All right, you can come! Just stop doing that – that thing with your foot! We're in public, you know!"

Annabeth grinned, maybe just a tinge evilly, and set her foot down.

"Thank you for the kind invitation to your home, Mr. Jackson. As your awesome and supportive girlfriend, I gladly accept."

Percy glowered darkly at her.

"Cheater," he mumbled under his breath.


"My muscles feel like limp noodles," Percy whined from somewhere in the vicinity of Annabeth's lap. "Why did I think this was a good idea? Why, why, why?"

Annabeth didn't look away from her book as she reached down to pat Percy on the shoulder. Which turned out to be a rather bad idea as she ended up squishing his nose instead.

"Oh, sorry Percy!" she said as he batted her hand away. She grinned at him apologetically, and he frowned. "I didn't mean to, I swear."

The instant Percy had come home from swim team practice, he had thrown himself on the couch where Annabeth had been sitting, reading a novel for school and waiting for him. He at least had enough grace to grab a towel to put over her legs before putting his wet head there.

"Of course you had to get the one part of my body that doesn't ache everywhere," he replied, the whine still in his voice. "The coach made me practice for an hour longer than the rest of the guys to get my form right. I mean, it's bad enough that we have three hours practices on normal days, but four hours of constant swimming plus the weight training this morning is really just pushing it. I mean, just because I don't look exhausted or anything doesn't mean I'm not!"

"It can't be that much worse than Camp Half-Blood training," Annabeth said reasonably, growing used to Percy's theatrics by now. For the last three weeks since he had joined the swim team, he'd had a new complaint every day about the other swimmers, the evil coach, the absurd practice times… It was all part about being an invulnerable seventeen-year-old. Percy couldn't get hurt and rarely felt true exhaustion or pain, so the only way he knew how to deal with their lack was to complain about anything that did hurt in the slightest.

"It's not. I'm just a little out of shape, I suppose."

Annabeth looked down at her boyfriend; Percy was wearing a dark tank top and his toned arm muscles were clearly visible. If he considered those out of shape, then she needed to hit the gym soon.

"I'm sure you'll have your Michael Phelps-esque swim body in a few more weeks," she said sarcastically, making sure to pat his shoulder this time.

"Hopefully not his face though. Do you think too much time in chlorine does that to you?"

Annabeth decided to ignore that comment. "Speaking of swim bodies, when are you going to model your Speedo for me? I told all the girls at school I get lots of pictures to share."

An agonized sound slipped from Percy's lips, and he threw his arm over his eyes.

"Just for that, I am wearing a full body suit from now on."

Even though he couldn't see her, Annabeth pouted all the same.

"That's so cheating."

"No, that's self-preservation."


The night before Percy's first swim meet, Annabeth found herself over at his apartment again, helping Sally Jackson prepare at least a ton of spaghetti and meatballs. Parents of the Goode High School boys swim team apparently hosted dinners for the team before each meet, and Sally and Paul had jumped all over the first one during the parents meeting.

"I know he has you, Grover, and Nico, but it's just so nice that Percy's finally making some mortal friends," Sally was explaining to Annabeth as she poured more noodles into the huge pot of water on the stove. "He always hated school and of course, being a demigod made it hard for him. I'm just glad he's finally finding a place."

Annabeth nodded slightly, watching the pot of water warily. Her cooking skills were limited to not burning Hot Pockets in the microwave and creating lumpy blue birthday cupcakes, so Sally had given her the easiest job of watching the noodles.

She had never had trouble making friends at the various schools she went to, although she knew a lot of people at her current school thought she was a bit of a nerd. If she was honest with herself, she was glad that Percy was making new friends – it helped control his persecution complex and gave him something besides his parents to treasure in the mortal world. Being a demigod was all about finding the right balance between the two worlds, and Percy had been straying into dangerous territory for a long time.

What she didn't like about Percy's new buddies, however, amounted to purely selfish reasons. In the last couple of weeks, she had probably seen Percy for a grand ten minutes altogether. She talked to him on the phone or over IM, but even that amounted to very little. He was always running to practice in his off time, staying late at the pool, or hanging out at one of his teammate's houses to play video games or do some other normal, mortal boy thing. Annabeth wasn't going to harp at him to spend more time with her and she didn't resent his new friends, but now she understood why Percy always got so anxious when she went off to San Francisco for a few weeks to her visit her family.

It was getting so bad that she'd actually dressed up to see him tonight. Annabeth couldn't remember the last time she had worn a skirt and heels; she'd even thrown her hair up in somewhat cute fashion and put on some make-up, all for some Seaweed Brained, no good son of –

"Annabeth!" Sally shouted warningly. "The noodles!"

Annabeth started and realized the pot was overflowing. She quickly snapped off the burner, but that didn't stop the water and noodles from cascading down the sides of the pot and onto the stove where it hissed and crackled from the heat.

"Sorry, sorry!" she said, reaching for some paper towels. "I've got it, don't worry!"

Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of Annabeth's kitchen mishaps that afternoon, her crowning achievement being somehow making the pot of sauce explode everywhere, including on her nice outfit. She had excepted Sally to screech at her like her step-mother would've done, but Sally just laughed it off and told her about the time Percy had nearly burned down the apartment a few years ago by leaving frozen pizza in its box in the oven.

"You should go throw your clothes in the washer while I clean up, Annabeth dear," Sally said, wiping a bit of sauce of her cheek. Somehow, she had managed to stay clean. "You can borrow some of Percy's clothes. I'm sure he won't mind."

Annabeth decided that this probably wasn't the best time to tell Sally that she had some of her own clothes stashed in Percy's bottom dresser drawer. She didn't think the other woman would laugh that off quite as readily.

By the time she had found a pair of sweatpants that weren't full of holes or didn't fall of her hips, and a t-shirt that wasn't on the floor, Paul had come home with the first of the swim teamers, including Percy. Annabeth could hear his voice through the door of the bathroom, so she quick washed the sauce off her face and threw her hair up in a manageable ponytail.

There were five boys all around the same shape and build as Percy, in the living room, gathered around the coffee table and grazing on the chips and salsa she and Sally had set out. Percy wasn't among them, so she turned to go look in the kitchen and she almost smacked into him.

"Percy!" she squeaked, surprised. He looked good, wearing a nice pair of jeans, a white button up shirt and a black blazer. Annabeth had noticed the other boys looked equally nice, and she felt more out of place than ever.

"Hey, Mom said you were running around here," he said with a grin, steadying her with a grip on her elbow. His brow wrinkled as he got a good look at her clothes. "Why are you wearing my good Yankees shirt? And my favorite pair of sweatpants?"

"Because I'm clumsy in the kitchen," she said. "I had a really cute outfit picked out, but it's going through the rinse cycle right now."

"Really?" he replied, arching an eyebrow. "Maybe you should show me. The washing machine's been acting up lately and I wouldn't want your clothes to not get washed or anything."

Annabeth was about to protest, but then she caught the gleam in Percy's eyes. Her eyes widened, and then narrowed in satisfaction. Usually Percy could be about as dumb as a box of rocks when it came to picking up any of her hints about making out, but he was rather good about coming up with his own.

"I'd love to."

And that's how Annabeth found herself sitting on top of said washing machine with her legs wrapped around Percy's waist and his hands creeping up to the top of her shirt. It probably wasn't the best idea they ever had, considering his parents and almost a dozen teenager boys were in the next room.

"Missed you," Percy panted against her lips in-between heated kisses that sent shivers down to Annabeth's toes. Or maybe that was the washing machine's vibrations. She really didn't care, because either way it felt really good. Percy was always really, really excellent at making out when he had been denied access for a few weeks.

"Me too," she replied as his head dipped to her neck. "You better not give me a hickey, Seaweed Brain, or I'll never be able to look at your mother without shame again."

"Relax," he said, surfacing a second later. He licked his lips. "There was just some spaghetti sauce on your neck. How'd that get there anyway?"

Annabeth put on as serious face as she could with Percy's hands centimeters from her bra and said, "Hate to tell you this, but I'm cheating on you with Chef Boyardee. He doesn't look nearly as good in Speedo, but I guess I wouldn't know since – oh!"

Percy had his own ways of getting her to shut up, and the one he was employing now turned out to be very effective.


"Isn't this like cheating or something?"

"Sort of, but don't tell Percy that," Annabeth said, glancing at the younger boy sitting beside her. "He gets really defensive. How'd you find out about this anyway, Nico?"

Nico di Angelo looked pretty out of place sitting on the bleachers with a crowd of school-color clad parents and swim fans with signs. He was dressed in his usual black shirt, tattered jeans, and black Converses, and Annabeth really wanted to tell him that just because he was the son of Hades didn't mean he had to embrace the whole "Lord of Death" look he had going on.

He'd surprised her pretty well when he had shown up at the arena just as they were arriving. Sally had pounced on him at once; she adored Nico, almost as much as she adored her own son. Percy always grumbled about it whenever Nico made surprise visits to their apartment, which had been happening more and more as of late.

"Sally told me. Chiron was going to come too, but something came up at the Camp and he decided to stay put. Don't worry, it's nothing life-threatening or anything," Nico said, catching her look. "Or so I think, anyway."

A horn cut through the air, drawing their attention, and a pudgy man in a tracksuit began to speak into a microphone, welcoming all the visitors to Goode High School's first swim meet of the season. He began to call out the first events, his voice echoing in the pool area, and the swimmers around the pool began to divest of their own tracksuits.

"What events is Percy doing?"

"Um… 200 Individual Medley, 100 Backstroke, and the 400 Free relay. I think most of them are at the end of the meet."

Nico looked stricken.

"Oh, gods. So we're going to be sitting here watching people swim all day?"

Annabeth held up the novel she had brought along. After Percy had snored his way through her Mathletes competition last spring, she felt she was justified.

"Why do you think I have this?"

"Great," Nico muttered, propping his head in his hands. "I knew I should've called before I shadow traveled."


Percy, as it turned out, had been telling the truth about his swimming abilities. He wasn't the best on the team, but he had some potential once he figured out how to swim while not looking like a moron. His one advantage was that he didn't tire out as fast as any of the other swimmers, which would probably prove useful in the long run. Apparently all those lessons in form had gone straight out the window during his first race and he had ended up in fifth place in his heat.

He didn't seem to mind much, though, because he was still in a pretty good mood when he came over to talk to her and Nico afterwards.

"Yeah, it was just a warm up," he said as he toweled off his hair. He'd put his track jacket back on before he'd come over so Annabeth couldn't ogle him as much as she wanted. "The big one is the 400 Relay. I'll be ready by then."

Percy did much better in his second race, almost tying for third. Annabeth and Nico cheered him on the entire way, even though Percy probably couldn't hear them underwater.

The 400 Free Relay was the last race of the day, and it was a real nail biter. Percy was the last one on the relay team to get in the water, and Annabeth nearly screamed herself hoarse for him. The Goode team ended up second by less than second, which was disappointing, but no one seemed too bothered by it.

It was, after all, only the first meet of the season.

"I'm impressed, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth admitted, examining his relay medal in the fluorescent lighting. "Congratulations."

"Yeah, good job," Nico said, patting Percy on the back. He was just starting to hit his growth spurt and was almost as tall as Percy now. They could pass as brothers if they really tried, Annabeth thought idly.

"Hey, thanks for coming. You heading back to Camp soon?"

"Nah, your mom wants to take me out for dinner," Nico said with a sly smile. "She thinks I'm deprived. I'll see you around!"

Percy sighed as Nico bounded away through the crowd.

"More like depraved, I bet. She hasn't taken me out for dinner in months. I really need to find out what he does to be so…so adorable all the time."

"Don't worry," Annabeth said, handing the medal back to him and giving him a once over with her eyes. "I think you're somewhat adorable. Especially in – "

"Don't say it," Percy said, flushing and adjusting the towel around his waist with as much manly dignity as possible.


By the time Percy came out of the locker room, the pool had been emptied of spectators and swimmers, and Annabeth was the only one left, sitting on the bleachers and twisting a damp, wet towel in her hands.

"You ready? 'Cause I'm starving," he said, dropping his bag beside her.

"What took you so long?" she said, getting to her feet. "I thought you fell and hit your head in the showers."

"You try getting a warm shower in a timely fashion when fifty other guys have used up all the hot water," Percy replied. "Will you put that towel down? You're making me nervous."

Annabeth glanced at the offending material in her hands, and a slow smile spread across her face as inspiration struck her.

"What, this?" she said, walking around Percy and swinging the towel casually. "Surely the hero of Olympus wouldn't be afraid of a wet bath towel, would he?"

"Annabeth, if you snap that at me – "

She did anyway. Percy grabbed it before it made contact with his behind, and reeled her in so they were standing chest-to-chest.

"Now what are you going to do that I've got your main weapon, Wise Girl?" he asked, grinning.

Annabeth pretended to think about it.

"I dunno. A little push might be good, don't you think?"

Percy's eyes widened as Annabeth gave him the slightest shove off the edge of the pool; she didn't count on him hooking his arm around her waist and bringing her down with him with a giant splash though.

If there had been anyone else in the pool, they might've been alarmed when neither teenager surfaced after a couple of seconds. They probably would've called emergency services when the two of them didn't reappear for at least another five minutes.

When they finally did burst to the surface near the deep end, Annabeth was the only wet and panting one out of the two. Sometimes she really hated the fact that her boyfriend was the son of a sea god.

"You know," Percy said lightly, treading water with one arm and bringing her close again with the other. "If you want to do more underwater kissing, all do have to do is fill up your bathtub and give me a call."

"But that's – oh, I'm not going to even say it."

"Good," he said, lowering his head. "'Cause I don't wanna hear it."

Thanks for reading. Reviews are appreciated.