DISCLAIMER: I do not own the 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians' series. The books completely belong to Rick Riordan.
WARNING: Contains adult language and child abuse.
AU. I hear the whispers when I walk past. I see the pitiful looks on their faces when they notice the bruises that I try to cover up. I know they're wondering why I don't leave. They would understand if they were in my shoes, if they had to hear the threats and feel the blows. No one ever questioned me. Not until he came along. He was the first that ever dared to ask.
I push through the double doors and walk straight ahead, not daring to glance at the eyes that I know are looking my way. You'd think I'd be used to everyone looking and whispering but, truthfully, it is as uncomfortable and awkward as it was the first time I had to do this.
No matter how much makeup I put on, it never hides the bruises completely.
All I've ever wanted to be is a normal teenager that can go to school without a worry in the world. But all I have is an endless list of worries; what my uncle will yell at me for today, how hard he will hit me, and if anyone will question the bruises.
It's the same routine every morning on a school day; get up, make my uncle breakfast, shower as soon as he leaves, attempt to cover the bruises with makeup and clothing, then come to school and ignore the whispers and stares.
I've lived with my uncle Ben since I was twelve, when my dad was killed in a plane crash. My mother had left me on my father's doorstep when I was a newborn and I've never seen or heard from her since.
The only person left to take care of me was uncle Ben. I was moved from one city to another so my uncle could take care of me. I had never met him before but, since he was my dad's stepbrother, I figured he would be nice. How wrong I was.
I was so happy I hadn't been put in care that I ignored how he treated me. When he asked for something, I gave it to him. I thought it was the least I could do after he put a roof over my head. The first time he hit me was three months after my dad died.
I had been asleep and he must've been calling for something and when I didn't get it for him he stormed up the stairs to find me asleep and dragged me out of bed. I was barely awake and thought I was dreaming. It was only when I felt a sting on my cheek that I came to life. I didn't cry. I just stood there in shock and terror, realising he had hit me.
It happened a lot after that. All he did was yell and throw threats my way. He'd hit me with his own hands or with a belt and even held me underwater a few times.
After each episode he would threaten me into silence. "Tell anyone and I'll kill you!" Since he was so violent I always believed that he could do it if he wanted to. Sometimes I wish he would do it already so I would be put out of my misery.
I was too scared to tell anyone about the abuse, though I knew the teachers wondered. One even asked if everything was okay at home and I'd nearly died on the spot in terror. "Yes, miss," I had quickly said and ran out of school. That was when I was thirteen. No one has mentioned anything since.
And now here I am, Annabeth Chase, a seventeen-year-old girl who gets abused by her uncle and stared at and whispered about in school. I'm not popular, actually I don't have any friends. I do not socialise with other students. I don't talk in school except for when a teacher asks me something in class.
The school day passes as it usually does - me sitting at the back of the class, quietly doing my work in the hope that if I get good grades I'll be able to do something with my life and get the guts to run away. Before, when my dad was alive, I was strong and brave and now I'm weak and terrified, though I try my best not to show it.
When it's finally the end of school, I slowly leave the building, knowing Ben won't be home so I can be as long as I want on my short journey home. He's a police officer, which is the main reason why I am not willing to call the police for help. Why would any of his colleagues believe that 'big, old Ben' would abuse his niece?
After work he usually goes to the pub and drinks until he can barely walk. That must be where he picks up the women because he's always bringing some woman home that reeks of cheap perfume and thinks that he's such a gentlemen. Whenever he brings a girl home he acts like the best uncle ever until she leaves and he tells me to clean his bed sheets.
Sometimes, on my walks home, I have a sudden urge to run away. I've come close to doing it several times but I've always changed my mind and went back to my so called 'home', knowing that as soon as Ben realised I was gone, he would be after me and I'll be dead within a short amount of time. He'd hide the evidence and tell his police friends that he hadn't seen me for hours, that I may have run away. He'd act like the distraught uncle that everyone would expect him to be.
Oh, how I hate him.
It doesn't take me long to get home and when I get there I'm surprised to see a large white van parked outside the house next to mine. It has been up for sale for several months and I can only guess my screams were the reason my neighbours moved. I wonder why they didn't call the police. I don't blame them, or hold a grudge. Maybe my uncle threatened them or they just didn't care.
I shake my head, bringing myself out of my thoughts and start to walk past the van to get to the house. I'm too busy digging through my bag for my key to notice the guy carrying a cardboard box stepping onto the pavement from behind the van. We crash into each other and I stumble backwards, tripping over my feet and falling to the ground. The 'thump' of a box being dropped makes me realise that whomever bumped into me has also fallen.
"Shit," the guy says, and quickly jumps to his feet. I have to squint to see him as the sun is directly in my eyes. I put a hand over my eyes as the tall boy walks over, apologising profusely. His hair is as black as coal and falls over his forehead. He's tall, about a head taller than me, and is slim but muscular. "I'm sorry. The box was blocking my view of you. Are you okay?"
I nod and flinch when he holds a hand out to me. Instead of taking his hand, I jump to my feet and grab my bag off the floor before quickly walking to the house.
Once inside, I close the door and lean against it. He probably thinks I'm crazy, flinching like that when he was only trying to help me. I squeeze my eyes shut before opening them and taking in the trashed house. The sight of beer bottles in the living room and a matching set of woman's lacy underwear let's me know that Ben brought a woman home last night and obviously left it to me to clean everything up. No surprise there…
I dump my bag on the floor before collecting the beer bottles and throwing them in the bin. I pick the underwear up and hold them at arms length before I throw them in with the bottles. I nearly gag as I see the white stains on the couch and I grab a wet cloth to wash it clean.
After cleaning the living room I vacuum the floors both upstairs and downstairs before washing the dishes that lie in the sink and putting them away. I wash down the kitchen counters before starting to make a meal for both Ben and I. As soon as Ben realised I could cook he made sure that I was the one to cook his meals. My dad was a chef and had often taught me how to cook.
The memory brings tears to my eyes and I quickly blink them away, knowing that if Ben was here he would call me names and probably throw a punch my way. It's when I remember that he isn't here that I stop trying to hold them in and let them fall.
I drop into a chair and lean my head against the wooden table as I sob. I sob because I miss my dad. I sob because I have to live with Ben and his violence. I sob because I have no one to tell and to help me. I sob because my mother abandoned me and if she were here then I wouldn't be living like this.
I can't help but think that this is her fault.
I must've cried myself to sleep at the table because it's only when I hear a door slam do I realise how long I must have been asleep. I jump out of my seat at the table and resume cutting up the raw chicken I had been preparing before I had got upset. I tense as I hear his footsteps come closer.
"I'm hungry," Ben's deep voice snaps as he comes into the room.
I gulp before biting my lip as I say, "I'm making curry."
"Where is it?" he growls, coming closer to me.
"I just said that I was making it," I reply.
I can feel his eyes on me as he says, "All I ask of you is to clean the house and make my food so it's ready for when I get home after working a long shift. Is that too much to fucking ask for?" He tugs on my hair harshly, tugging on it so hard that I am forced to turn and face him.
"I'm sorry," I mutter. "I-I was busy."
"Busy? Doing what? Trying to make friends?" He laughs hysterically.
"I was cleaning up your mess," I say, squeezing my eyes shut, waiting for the blow.
"Don't talk to me like that, Annabeth," he says, his mouth against my ear as he speaks in an eerily calm voice. I wait for it, try to prepare, but the punch is hard enough to cause me to bend over, clutching my stomach, which only makes him pull my hair harder. I scream.
"Shut the fuck up! I hear we have new neighbours. I don't want to have to threaten them like I had to with the last ones," he lsnaps.
"Ben, please," I beg, tears in my eyes.
"Oh, is little Annie going to cry?" he asks and pretends to weep before laughing. "I'm going out. I'd rather eat in the pub than the shit you make. Make sure my bed is made for when I get in."
He shoves me before he storms out of the room. I lean against the kitchen counter for support as I try to hold in the tears. I don't let them fall until the front door slams shut. I sink to the floor, leaning against the counter as I rest my head against my knees. I sob so hard I start gagging and I stand abruptly and reach the sink just in time before the bile rises.
Forgetting the food, I slowly walk upstairs and to my room. I close the door behind me and sink onto the bed, weeping into my pillow.
No matter how hard I try to be strong, I always end the day crying into my pillow, wishing for the life I had lived when my father had been alive.