A/N

Hey. Story continues! Some fighting between Percy and Annabeth. Please don't hate me. Ha-ha.

I know the quality of my writing's a bit down, but I just really want to chug out the plot. So I apologize for that. If you need prose, though, you shouldn't be on FF in the first place. Go check out Shakespeare or something.

Review to tell me what you think~


Am I being noble for wanting to leave? Or stupid? Ugh.

I slammed the door behind me, wildly searching for all my belongings. Head pounding, I shoved my clothes into my backpack, dreading the confrontation. I knew Percy was going to try and stop me from leaving. But that wasn't going to happen.

"Annabeth!" The door swung open, and a weary teenage boy hustled in.

I didn't turn around.

"Annabeth." Percy forced me to look at him, gripping my shoulder and angling me his way. I shot him a glare, courtesy of my acidic gray eyes, and continued to zip up my pack.

"Annabeth, you're not going."

"Is that a threat?" I spat, standing to my full height. I was about an inch taller than he was. Score one for Annabeth.

"No," he said, backing away to block the doorway. "Annabeth, please don't go."

"Percy," I said slowly, "I'm selfish. Everyone is. But I'm not selfish enough to suck the blood out of a family struggling as it is."

"You're not sucking our blood!" Percy protested. "Gods, Annabeth. You've only helped since you've been here. And I think another pair of hands, specifically yours, could be great for me and Mom."

I shook my head. "Percy, no. I think I'll just crawl back to my old house. If they don't take me back I'll just threaten to tell the authorities they kicked me out in the first place. Or I'll go creep into an orphanage or foster home."

"You'll just be abused again," he said, his voice pleading. "Stay."

"I'll be fine. I can take care of myself," I replied, my tone scathing. One of many reasons I don't have any friends.

"Oh yeah? Like you were taking care of yourself back on that rainy day? Annabeth, make it go through your bullhead that you need help!" Percy yelled, shocking us both.

Hot, angry tears were making their way into my eyes, and I blinked them back. Don't cry. You never cry. "Don't call me a bullhead. And why do you care so much about me anyway?"

Without warning, Percy tightly wound his arms around me into a hug, and I let out a squeak. His voice was hoarse: "I… don't know. I like you, I guess. Even though I know you don't like me that much. You're not judgmental, you're quiet, reserved… there's something about you that's special."

Is this what you call love at first sight? Ha-ha. Something, an emotion, to be specific, fluttered inside of my chest, one I'd never felt before. I then pulled away from Percy, wearing a genuinely happy smile I didn't know I could. Blushing, I muttered something around the lines of, "…thank you."

"So… you'll stay?" Percy asked. His face seemed a little pink from his confession.

Depressed, I replied, "I want to. You know I do. Percy, this has been my respite. I'm so glad you took me… under your wing, so to speak. But as bitchy as I can be, I'm not going to bother you any longer."

Percy frowned, probably because he had just poured his heart out to someone to prevent her from leaving him only to have her leave anyways. My body felt like an empty shell as I prepared to say the final 'goodbye' until Percy perked up like a puppy dog.

"Annabeth! That's it! Foster home!"

"What?"

Grinning, he said, "Mom and I can be your foster family! That way you can stay without all your stupid guilty feelings."

I shoved him, but did it playfully. A sudden hope had filled me. "You really think so?"

"I know so. Come on, let's go tell Mom."

I smiled as a weight seemed to be lifted off of my shoulders. Earlier, I had visualized myself scrounging for moldy food, pawing through a dumpster, maybe. A hot, steaming dinner with my favorite two people around an actual dining table had much more appeal. Especially with a cleared conscience. "You go. I need some time to think things through."

I saw the look on Percy's face and blurted out, "No! I'm not sneaking out. Not until I know this foster home business is totally impossible."

He left, sliding the door closed, leaving me hunched on the guest bed, debating on whether or not to unpack my stuff. On a sudden impulse, I did: taking out my balled up clothes and folding them into a neat pile beside the bureau.

I sprawled out on the comforter as stupid, gleeful daydreams began to invade my head: ones of me and Percy eating lunch together and riding the bus to school together and chasing each other in Central Park and all sorts of that crap. The darker side of my brain (the one that's more in tune with reality, unfortunately) depicted me getting screamed at by my dad and Christine and getting beaten by workers at a dilapidated orphanage. Sighing, I buried my face in my pillow.

Vaguely, I knew Percy was talking to his mother down in the dining room, but their voices weren't raised or pitchy or hushed, giving me good vibes. Would I really be able to live here?

Percy answered my prayers, as he always was lately, opening the door with a shy smile. "Mom and I talked it over. She says you can be registered for foster care. We'll have to lie a little, but in the end, you can live here with us."

My heart did a leap. I can stay? I was too shell-shocked to say anything, though. So he went on.

"They'll send money here to 'pay for you' or something. Will that clear your conscience, Wise Girl?"

Wise Girl. That was a new one. "Of course." I hugged him, and the sheer awkwardness of our last hug seemed to disappear, warmth left in its place. On an unrelated but pleasant note, Percy smelled like… the ocean.

"Mom's making pancakes," Percy informed me after breaking off the hug, gesturing towards the kitchen. "Blueberry ones."

"Yum."

I followed him out, my head whirring. My mind was such a flurry of thought I wouldn't be able to tell you any definite thing if I tried. I could, however, make out the pleasant lack of nightmarish thoughts. Always good.

That morning the three of us laughed and talked over pancakes, made from scratch, apparently. The peculiar blue color took some getting used to (food coloring), but they were still delicious. I was happier than I'd ever been. People that cared about me? People I cared about? Check, and check. I'll have to get used to this.

There are still the Jacksons' financial issues to worry about, but I think that together we can get through it. Hey, my life has been full of, if not made out of, rough patches. This won't be any different.

Right now it's midnight. The moon set across the inky blue sky is full and round, and there are no visible stars as usual; just the occasional helicopter. I'm tucked under the covers in the guest bedroom (I can't wait to call it mine) while reliving the events of the past few days. At several scenes I've cringed, smiled, or even had near-watery eyes. I wonder if my life will ever turn normal.

Also, Percy was (slightly) wrong about me before. Honestly, I happen to be very judgmental. The thing is that I don't talk much, so no one knows what I think of them anyway. But since you're here, my opinion Percy is this: he's kind. So unbelievably, so impractically kind. He annoys me, but I really do like him, as opposed to what he thinks.

And I've benefited from Percy's kindness. Now I have a home. A friend. A mom figure.

But now I know the levels of his severe niceness. I'm telling you, the boy is too nice for his own good. Everyone has their strengths, right? His is helping others.

But I think Percy's greatest strength may just be his greatest weakness too. His kindness may just be the demise of him.

I roll to one side now, trying to shut out the disturbing thought and fall asleep.

But I tell you, it's hard.