A rustle. A dull clank of trash can on trash can.

Thwack, thwack, thwack. Sneakers on concrete.

The night is too silent. I've heard her even before she tries to make her move.

She tries to dart in, grab my sandwich, and dissapear from sight, but I have my sword in hand before she even gets close. Heard her footsteps. It was an instinctive reaction. The girl stumbles back for a moment, and I get a quick look at her - young, grey-eyed, blond - and then I realize she's weilding a hammer.

Clang. The girl's hammer collides with my sword-blade. I twist around and bear down on her wrist, but not to hurt her, just to disarm her. There's a grating screech of weapons, and I hear the girl give a cry, something between pain and shock, but she drops the hammer. It falls to the concrete with a hollow thud.

Our eyes meet for the first time.

Grey eyes meet my own, wide with the raw terror, the constant questioning of a child who's been running for a while. Those eyes hold mine for a long moment that feels frozen in time, as though the seconds have ceased to pass. We just look at each other.

Fourteen-year-old boy, sword in hand.

Girl that couldn't be older than seven, staring numbly at her fallen hammer. Probably the only weapon she has.

...

I see you there, don't know where you come from
Unaware, the stare from someone
Don't appear to care that I saw you, and I want you.
...

A split second later, and the girl's stumbling back through the trash cans, trying to get away. I grab the edge of her sleeve and hold her back. She's panting, her face paper-white. She gives a yell, struggles, but I grip her shoulder and she knows she can't win. I slowly turn her around, examining her.

Seven-year-olds don't just hide in trash cans and attack people everyday, so that's reason enough for me to figure out exactly who this kid is before I just let her run off. And I sensed something in that brief exchange of blows, a cold spark of life that I'd only felt once before. But in Thalia Grace – a half-blood.

The little girl shivers, a quiet whimper escaping her lips.

I lower my sword. "It's alright, it's alright... Y-You okay?"

The girl studies me critically, her misty grey eyes slowly taking me in. Her eyes flit to me, then flutter down to the hammer, then fly back up to my face again, as if she's wondering whether I'll try something.

"It's okay," I say, keeping my voice low. "I'm not going to hurt you."

She rubs her wrist. "Well, that hurt."

"I'm sorry about that," I laugh lightly. "But you did try to jump me, you know." I lay my sword on the ground by her hammer. "See? I'm not going to hurt you."

I crouch down on one knee so we're eye-to-eye – grey-eyed little girl, renegade boy. The girl shivers, probably not just from the cold. She looks terrified. But her eyes blaze with a half-blood's fire.

"Are you a monster?" she ventures.

"No."

"Are you helping the monsters?"

"No."

She swallows. "Are you a friend?"

It takes me less than minute to answer. "Yes."

The girl smiles, and for a moment, she's just a normal kid. None of the fear, the uncertainty, the panic. It's gone, and she's just smiling nervously at me, observing my reaction.

"Thanks. I need a friend."

I can't help but smile back. "What's your name?"

"Annabeth," she says. She's shuddering. I wonder where she's been, but then I decide I don't want to think about it.

She's here now, that's all that matters. If she's a half-blood, I need to protect her. We're family. That's what families do. But I don't like the implications of having another demigod in our clan. It's already been rough – another mouth to feed, and it'll get rougher. I don't like how it feels as though we're driving blind into a fight that won't end well... for any of us.

But she's so terrified. We have to do something.

My thoughts have distracted me. What was her name?

Annabeth.

...

What's your name?
Cause I have to know it
You let me in and begin to show it
We're terrified, cause we're heading straight for it, might get it.
...

"Hey, Annabeth." I take her hand; turn her around to face my ally. "That girl there, you see her? That's Thalia. She's a friend, too. We're fighting monsters together."

The fire flares in the girl's – Annabeth's – eyes again, and I get the feeling that she's dealt with more than her fair share of monster attacks. Her grey irises are vivid – sharp and perceptive – sparkling like burnished silver. A daughter of Athena; she must be. No wonder she's being so logical in her first impressions of us.

"Can you help me?" she bursts out.

Thalia takes over, kneeling down beside Annabeth. She lifts the younger girl's hand, grasping it tight. A sign of friendship. "Help you with what, sweetie?"

"The monsters," she says. The tears in her eyes glint in the moonlight. "I'm scared. I'm really, really scared..."

"It's okay," Thalia says. "We're friends. Right, Luke?"

I nod. "Friends."

Annabeth manages a small smile.

...
You're in the song playing on the background
All alone, but you're turning up now
And everyone is rising to meet you, to greet you
...

A/N: The song lyrics are by The Fray; the song is "Say When." It's not the whole song yet, I'm working through several Annabeth/Luke incidents, and the lyrics will continue as I move forward in time. These are one-shots, chronological, although flashbacks may be included later.

Please review! And thanks for reading.

Updates will hopefully come. Reviews, of course, will encourage me to continue!