Card games have never interested you. You would rather be flipping through a book or simply lost in thought, as you are now.
You lean on the porch railing, your sharp grey eyes taking in both nothing and everything. A foolish observer would think you were daydreaming. That is not the case. You feel everything, see everything. Your god-blood sings with awareness, with thirst for knowledge of all your surroundings.
You're not even particularly focused on the card game behind you, but even from your mental distance, you knew long before Chiron knew that Dionysus was going to win that game of cards. You didn't even have to see their hands. You could tell from the cards they'd already put down.
But you have more important things to think about.
Besting your superiors at pinochle and slaying Underworld minions are two entirely different undertakings, and you prefer to focus on the latter. Well, that and re-building New York. But heck, the city needs a revamp. Something commanding, elegant, radiating life...
If it's playing cards, a sword, or a blueprint, you'll take the blueprint any day.
That's not to say that you hate combat, exactly. You'll need it if a monster attacks your architecture, correct? Really, a sword isn't so bad, so long as you're used to it and have fought with the blade before – you're no stranger to the training ground, where you spar with Luke on a regular basis. The battlefield is a chaos, a bloody tangle, yet you've learned how to navigate it. Even Ares cabin has a healthy amount of respect for your skill with a sword-blade, although you're sure those idiots would never admit it to your face. Ares' sons and daughters are all bulk and brawn, breathing out threats like a bunch of pigs.
But you – you're different. Smarter. Faster. Braver. Your drive and resolve is as fierce as your mother's, sparkling in your grey eyes just as it does in hers. You've inherited some of her better traits; possibly some of her worst, as well, but you don't like to think about that. You focus not on your flaws, but on your strengths. Delicacy. Speed. Precision.
You strategize. You actually know how think on the fly.
Unlike Ares' war gluttons.
Still, war is not home for you. A sword is bearable, a fight entertaining, but not for the same reasons as Ares' spawn – choked groans pushing out of an opponent's throat, warm scarlet spurting from a knife slash, the hard impact of bone on bone, steel on steel, blow on blow – these hold no attraction for you.
Battle is a game to you, an enjoyable experience... but only because of what you learn. Because you can watch the way your opponent moves, learn the way they think – see the way their eyes glint before a lunge, how their muscles tense moments before a stabbing thrust, a cleaving strike, a leap, a whirl, a flash of the silver blade...
Wisdom, not battle, is your love. Battle affords more knowledge than it does wisdom – the latter is infinitely higher than the former – but all the same, knowledge is wisdom in its crudest form. You still enjoy it. But more than a good fight, you enjoy true wisdom. The kind of wisdom that makes your mind fly free, unfettered, your heart racing with dreams and plans, images of a reformed New York City dancing before your eyes.
Battle is not enough.
War is not your solace.
Reading. This is your home. This is your private love, although it's hardly a secret around camp Half-Blood. English books swim before your grey eyes, the letters flipping and tangling, but Ancient Greek opened up a new world for you. Even better are the books on architecture, exquisite in their detail.
Your attachment to reading helped to earn you your nickname here at camp – "Wise Girl." The half-bloods say it out of spite, but you ignore it to the best of your ability. Let them wait until they're choking on dust, your bronze blade hovering mere inches from the soft skin of their necks. Let them wait until a utopia, a skyscraper skyline you've built, glows in the light of the sunset. Flawless. Awe-inspiring.
They'll see. They'll all see. Athena's daughter will forge a legacy for herself. Annabeth Chase will prove her worth. When the time comes, Wise Girl will get her quest.
And if he really is the one...
You catch the sound of footsteps behind you. Two pairs. No, only one pair of footsteps – the other is hooves. You can tell by the gait that it's Grover, and that can only mean one thing.
Well, it looks like Perseus Jackson is alive, after all.
Something flares inside of your chest, and you know your eyes must be blazing with anticipation. Slow down, Annabeth, you tell yourself. He's not an instant quest. He's just another undetermined.
You remain nonchalantly staring into space, hoping to look as indifferent as possible. Act overly curious... and you'll get in trouble again. Chiron and Argus already gave you a pep talk, and you aren't in the mood for another.
You hear Grover making introductions behind you. "That's Mr. D. He's the camp director. Be polite. The girl, that's Annabeth Chase. She's just a camper, but she's been here longer than just about anybody."
You bite your lip. The just a camper part was a bit, how should you put it, unwelcome – but the satyr did give you credit for your lengthy time spent at Camp Half-Blood, so you decide not to interrupt him. Part of you wonders, though. Was that she's been here longer than just about anybody meant as a compliment, or an underhanded insult?
A quest. All you want is one quest, one chance to prove yourself – to fight real battles with real monsters, not just straw dummies or your cabin-mates. One quest. One opportunity to solve real problems, to test your skills, and to prove that "Wise Girl" isn't all you'll ever be...
"And you already know Chiron," Grover goes on.
After a moment, Perseus exclaims, "Mr. Brunner!"
"Ah, good, Percy," he said. "Now we have four for pinochle."
Mr. D sighs. "Oh, you suppose you must say it. Welcome to Camp Half-Blood. There. Now, don't expect me to be glad to see you."
Perseus is so obviously startled, it's almost comical. "Uh, thanks." You hear his chair squeak as he scoots away from Mr. D.
Chiron calls your name. "Annabeth?"
You know it's a summons. You quickly fix your hair, turn around, and come forward beside Chiron. "This young lady nursed you back to health, Percy," he says. "Annabeth, my dear, why don't you go check on Percy's bunk? We'll be putting him in cabin eleven for now."
You nod, pleased at how calm you are. "Sure, Chiron."
That's when you get your first real look at Percy Jackson.
There's nothing all that unique about his appearance, really. Typical clothes, nervous expression, maybe a small amount of panic in his eyes as he sizes you up.
You're disappointed. If this boy's the one you've been waiting for, he certainly doesn't look like it. You expected better. Really, he looked awful enough while you nursed him back to health – but you figured the ambrosia and nectar would do something for him, make him look more... heroic, somehow. He looks like a regular kid.
You aren't waiting for a regular kid.
Then you see it. You glance away quickly, not wanting to show awe or admiration too early. Better to let the kid earn his own rep. But still, there it is, shining in the sun, jagged on the edge that used to be attached to the monster's head.
A minotaur horn.
A battle trophy – taken by this regular kid.
You can't afford to compete with Percy, and you certainly don't like the attention he's been getting from Chiron. Or the way Argus assigned you to care for him, like this Perseus Jackson was meant to... one-up you, somehow. Like you're to raise this new hero for his own quest – while you sit in the safety of Camp Half-Blood's borders, reading some more Ancient Greek books on architecture.
You will not be outdone by Percy Jackson.
You fix him with your grey eyes. You want to come up with a witty comment, or something wrong with his hair, or a snippet about how there are worse monsters than the minotaur, but all that comes to your lips is, "You drool when you sleep."
Then you sprint across the lawn, eager to get away from this new rival.
Perseus Jackson makes no reply.