Thanks to all who reviewed last chapter. I'm sorry I can't post the names though because after all of the trouble I've been having with my computer, it finally broke. So I had to go through a crazy enough process just to post this chapter since I really didn't want to leave you guys with nothing when I promised an update. So I couldn't get all of your names down. And that is why I haven't posted Price to Pay either. I get a new computer Tuesday though, so I'll post it then even though it probably won't show up until really late that night.
Anyway, I'll just let you guys get to reading.
Disclaimer: I don't own PJO.
My head was pounding when I came to. And the noise of a crowd bustling around me definitely wasn't helping. The first thing I registered was the cold metal handcuffs around my wrists and I tried desperately to remember what happened or how I even blacked out. When my sight cleared up a bit, I looked around to find myself out front of my house, leaning against a cop car. Neighbors were all outside in their pajamas trying to figure out what happened.
"Annabeth!" I heard someone shout before I got crashed into from the left in a hug. Stumbling to keep my footing, I realized it was Percy. "What happened? Are you okay?"
"Easy, Lover Boy," Thalia told him as she strode her way up to us.
"What happened?" I grumbled, lightly touching my fingers to a throbbing spot on my forehead. When I drew them back from the spot, blood lightly coated them.
"You tell us," she shot back. "All we've gotten out of the police is that you got in a fight with some guy and you knocked him out. They think you might've then fell and hit your head or something. You look like someone tried to choke you though." At the raise of my eyebrow, she clarified, "You have some bruising on your neck that looks kind of like hand marks."
With that, the fight came rushing back to me. He came after me and I just kept dodging his attacks because I didn't want to fight him knowing what kind of trouble I could get in. He'd someone how gotten his hands around my throat and just tried to suffocate me. I had panicked and managed to get my hand up and hit a pressure point on his neck, rendering him unconscious. I must've passed out right after from lack of oxygen and hit my head on the ground.
"It was Tammi's boyfriend," I mumbled, leaning into Percy's embrace. He understood and I felt him nod against my own head while thankfully Thalia didn't bother to pry. "What do the police think?"
"Don't worry, I got your back," Nico said, now walking over.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You seemed suspicious during dinner, so I followed you when you left," he explained. "I thought you were maybe gonna try and confront your dad or something. I hid when I saw that guy approach you. When I realized things weren't going well-"
"You let her fight him alone?" Percy snapped.
Nico rolled his eyes and ignored his comment. "As I was saying, when I saw that things weren't going well I decided to tape it on my phone because I feared the police may get involved. I knew you could hold your own in a fight, so I figured you'd want something that would be more helpful with the cops. Luke's reviewing the video with them since he figured I'd wanna talk to you. Chiron's with them too."
To show my gratitude, I went to hug him but kind of fell against him because of the handcuffs. He got the picture though and wrapped his arms around me.
"Thank you," I whispered.
"Don't mention it."
Thalia tapped my shoulder gently. "I'm going to go see if I can figure out exactly what's going on. I'll be back in a minute."
I nodded in acknowledgement and pulled back from Nico, leaning against the car again.
"I shouldn't have come here," I remarked.
"Annabeth, it's understandable that you came back," Nico assured me. "I'd be curious too if I were you."
"Besides, that guy attacked you," Percy pointed out. "You might've died if you didn't knock him out. The cops won't hold that against you."
I sighed. "You don't get it, Percy. I've pushed my luck enough with the cops. I'm still on probation and this happened. They're gonna want to just lock me up by this point. It'd save them a lot of trouble."
Neither of them knew what to say to that. So instead we all just stood around watching the police talk to several people from STRUCK. They even questioned Mr. D who shockingly didn't seem to be throwing me under the bus over this. I hated waiting like that though. If they were going to throw me in juvie, I'd rather they just get this show on the road. Finally, Thalia returned with Luke.
"Okay, so we found out-" she began only to be cut off by the slam of a car door.
My eyes grew wide as I saw my dad hop out of his car and try to come rushing toward me. A police officer stopped him to make sure he was my father and calm him a bit before sending him my way. Percy instinctively pulled me closer to him as my eyes narrowed. This just topped off the list of things I didn't want to happen while I was here.
"Annabeth!" he called frantically, his arms out as if to go for a hug.
Luke put his hand out to stop my dad in his tracks. "Does now really seem like a good time for that?"
"But I'm her father. And who are you kids even?"
"Friends," Thalia, Luke, and Nico all said at the same time that Percy replied, "Her boyfriend."
"Are you really surprised?" I asked my dad. "I got sent on a trip with a bunch of kids my age who were just as messed up as me. Did you think everyone was going to be my enemy?"
"Annabeth, please just listen to me," he pleaded. "I already told you this in my letter, but I want you back home. I'm sorry about everything that happened. I've even gotten your stepmother to the point where she wants to see you. We want to try again with you. I miss you."
"Do you miss me? Or do you miss Bobby and Matthew?" I growled.
Everyone froze up at that. Percy tightened his grip on me, Thalia and Luke just stood there awkwardly, and I could've sworn Nico coughed 'owned' under his breath. My dad just looked at me with shock and heartbreak.
"Wh-What do you mean?" he babbled. "Of course I miss them but-"
I nodded toward the garbage cans. "You sent that bullshit letter after they were dead. They mattered to you, I didn't. You didn't care that I was away from you, you cared that they were taken from you though and now you just want me to try and fill in their place. I loved Bobby and Matthew, but I'm not going to come home and love you again just because they're gone now."
Thalia seemed to pick up on the fact that I was near my breaking point. "Mr. Chase, go back to your wife. Because clearly your daughter doesn't want you."
He shook his head like he couldn't believe this. "I'm not going to just give up on you like that, Annabeth. I promise."
Not wanting to start a fight though, he left toward the house. Tears built up in my eyes, but I blinked them back, too tired to deal with him at the moment. He seemed sincere, but it just seemed too ironic for him to realize he was wrong at the same time he lost the two sons he favored.
Hoping to change the topic, I turned to Thalia and Luke. "So what does it look like that cops want to do with me?"
"If it helps, they don't want to put you in juvie," Luke told me.
"Why? That seems like the most logical option by this point."
Thalia shrugged. "They claimed that it would do nothing to help your mental state."
"So they think I'm crazy," I deadpanned.
"Well, they didn't phrase it that way but it does kind of sound like it," she agreed.
"You'll be okay," Percy said. It sounded like he was trying just as hard to convince himself of it though.
Pretty soon, everyone else from the program made their way over to us. And it if wasn't for the cuffs on my wrist, they probably would've made me forget what even happened. We were all laughing at the Stoll brothers' terrible singing (they thought Aaron Carter songs fit the occasion quite well) and Clarisse trying to fight Silena off from fixing her hair. All of us were even laughing Beckendorf accidentally tripped over his own feet. It felt like any other night on the program.
"Annabeth, may I speak to you for a moment?" Chiron called at one point. I hadn't even noticed him come up beside me.
Pulling away from Percy, I followed him a little ways away from the group.
"I'm terribly sorry about this but-" he started.
I didn't need for him to finish though. It was obvious where this was going. So I just ended it for him. "I'm off the trip."
He nodded and it felt like my world crashed down around me all over again.