Annabeth hated moving. Ever since her parents divorce it had been all her and her father could do. Slowly but surely getting further and further away from their old home in San Francisco, a city full of memories turned bittersweet for Frederick by the collapse of his marriage. Constantly the new kid, never in one place long enough to make any lasting friends. Here she was stuck as the new kid once again, stuck attending some random school in Manhattan. What felt like half a world away from her old life on the opposite coast.
Annabeth hated lots of things actually. She hated lawyers, for it was they who had finalized the divorce. She hated her new step-mother, Helen, who she felt was a poor attempt on her father's part to replace Athena. She hated her half-brothers because they were living proof her parents marriage was over for good, she could no longer delude herself into thinking eventually her parents would get back together and life would go back to normal, there was no normal anymore.
She hated her father for not fighting, for not trying harder to convince her mother not to do this. She knew if he had just tried a little harder he could have prevented all of this! Obviously her dad didn't care as much about the marriage as he pretended or he never would have let it go so easily. She hated her mother for choosing work over family. For abandoning her, not doing anything to stop Frederick from fleeing all the way to the other side of the county in his futile efforts to outrun the memories. She hated her mother for having raised Annabeth with such high expectations. Instilling into Annabeth the importance of knowledge, of always knowing, of being right, being prepared.
Even now she couldn't give it up. No matter how much she wanted to just give up on school, throw the grades her mother had cared so much for into Athena's face. She couldn't do it though, it was all she had left really. A mother who couldn't be bothered with her, a father who was pained every time he looked at her, reminded of the ex-wife who'd caused him so much pain, a step-mother who did her best to put Annabeth down, and step siblings she's never been able to connect with. Grades are all she has left, they make her feel accomplished, the one thing she can do right, the only thing that can stem the constant feelings of worthlessness and self doubt.
She couldn't really connect to people either, there was never enough time in one place to make friends. At least that's what she told herself. She never really tried because she was convinced it would be pointless, eventually every friend would be left behind anyway. So what if she didn;t have many friends or a social life, she had her grades. So what if she didn't connect with her family, she had her books. Maybe she came off to others as closed off, arrogant and condescending. But it kept them away, didn't it? As long as she didn't get close to anyone she wouldn't have to feel the pain of leaving them, or of them leaving her.
Maybe, she thought to herself sometimes, late at night when there was nothing and no one to be angry at, if she wasn't so much of a freak her mother wouldn't have wanted to leave and wouldn't have pushed her and her father away. Maybe if she wasn't so freakishly smart and didn't attract bullies like lights attract moths her mom would have loved her enough to stay. Maybe if her eyes weren't such a weird and ugly color, grey, her mom would have thought she was pretty enough for her to love. Maybe if she wasn't so afraid of spiders her mom would have thought she was brave and deserved to have both of her parents.
Percy loved his life and only wished others could share in his good fortune. He had a great mom, a great dad, and a great step-dad. Things hadn't always been this good of course, but Percy knew every life had it's downs, his had certainly been full of downs. The downs all started when his dad was caught cheating on his mom. Poseidon had been the supporter, Sally went from only having to worry about caring for her child and her home to having to work several part time jobs just to pay for the rent of the rundown apartment they found themselves in.
It crushed his mom's self esteem too. Leading Sally to jump at the first nice man who seemed willing to give her attention. Gabe seemed nice at first, always ready with a compliment for Sally. Gabe was just sucking up to the recently rich, though. Assuming that the ex-wife of the great Poseidon would be loaded with cash. Maybe Gabe was a little fond of Sally, maybe not. Percy really didn't understand how people could go from nice one minute to an absolute monster like Gabe did. Gabe was insulting, looking down on Percy and constantly making fun of him. Ordering Sally around like she was a maid instead of his girlfriend, and then wife. But Sally stuck with him, because she didn't feel she was good enough for anyone better.
Around the time that Sally married Gabe Poseidon stopped coming around to see his son. His mom was busy with her jobs and Percy certainly didn't want to be home alone with Gabe. He started staying out all night to avoid coming home. Hanging with friends, wandering the streets. Acting out for attention too, making fun of Smelly Gabe's drunk friends during his poker games and getting into Gabe's alcohol just because Percy knew it would rile him up.
Fights between Percy and Gabe started to become more frequent as the years went on. A game of antagonism, each one trying their best to rile the other up into being the first to throw a punch. Percy did it just so he had an excuse to punch back, so he could let loose his anger in the rush of the fight. Gabe did it so he could run and tell sally in his efforts to convince her to send Percy to a stay in school for troubled kids or something of that sort, anything to get the little brat out of the house.
In this Percy discovered his wild side. The thrill of danger. His need to disregard the rules, his lack of concern for his own safety as long as it got his blood pumping and let him work off some steam. His grades started slipping. His new manner was a bit disconcerting to most of his friends and he started drifting away from them too. A few stuck around, but mostly he made new friends, so much worse than the ones he'd left behind. The kind of friends who encouraged and mirrored his new self destructive tendencies.
Percy might have just continued to spiral, further and further into that horrible lifestyle of long nights and lots of fights. Of alcohol and, once or twice, even a bit more. The life of parties and fake ID's, of friends who only know enough about you to understand that you're as broken as they are. A life of constant fun, glittering lights and constant motion that looks attractive from the outside, but is just rotten on the inside. Disappointing his mother, pushing away his real friends, sinking, sinking, sinking.
Then things changed again. Gabe was arrested for something, Percy didn't look into it too hard, he was just glad Gabe was gone. Percy found out his dad hadn't really abandoned him, at least not intentionally. Instead he was staying away because Gabe had led him to believe Percy hadn't wanted to see him anymore. Of course Percy always wondered if maybe Poseidon accepted that idea a little too easily, but no sense dwelling on the past right? Paul, one of Percy's teachers, was trying to help Percy get through the difficult times but Percy wanted none of it. Paul found someone much more willing to accept some support in Percy's mother.
Paul helped get Sally back on her feet, filling her with confidence and encouraging her to live her life. Things got better after that and Percy is glad that if his mother and father aren't going to get back together again then at least she found Paul, who's almost as good. And if Percy blames Sally a bit for not standing up to Gabe when things went wrong, or feels bitter towards the friends who just let him drift away instead of staying and trying to help him like Grover did, at least he can push those things aside because it's not as bad as things use to be.