TRIGGER WARNING: THERE WILL BE IMPLIED DOMESTIC ABUSE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT TOWARDS THE END OF THE PROLOGUE! BUT NOTHING VERY DETAILED OR EXPLICIT
Disclaimer: I don't own PJO.
Annabeth Chase was four when she fell in love with music. Her mother, Athena, placed her in piano lessons to keep the active child busy after school. Both her parents worked long hours and the little girl couldn't be home alone. Athena even bought her a keyboard to practice on at home.
Her piano teacher's name is Sasha Volkov. Sasha is only twenty, but a talented pianist. She had long black hair and dazzling blue eyes that sparkled when she smiled. She's intelligent and kind and Annabeth loves her automatically.
After Annabeth was taught the basics, she learned simple songs like 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' and 'Mary had a Little Lamb'. The little girls smiles happily when her teacher compliments her singing. Sasha also noticed how easily the young child seemed to pick up on how to play the instrument.
A few months into the lessons, Annabeth proudly announces, "I want to be a singer when I get older!"
Sasha smiles affectionately and ruffles her blonde curls. "I think that's a wonderful dream, lyubov moya." My love. That day Annabeth went home and repeated to her mother what she had told her teacher.
"That's not a practical career, Annabeth," Is all Athena sternly says before focusing on the paperwork she had brought home. Annabeth ran up to her room, her tears go unnoticed by her mother.
Annabeth is seven when Athena leaves. There's no note - nothing as to where her mother may have gone. All the little blonde knows is that her mother's clothes are gone from her closet, the perpetual stack of paper on the desk is missing, and the house feels emptier. A week later, the divorce papers arrive in the mail. She hasn't heard from Athena since. Her father, Frederick, throws himself deeper into his work, leaving his daughter to her lonesome. Understanding that no consolation would come from her dad, Annabeth runs to the one person she trusted left.
"Shh, it's okay," Sasha whispered gently, rubbing small circles on her student's back. Annabeth sat in the pianist's lap, face buried in her shoulder, sobbing.
"Mom-mommy left!" She bawled. "She's left me and Daddy." The small girl's body shook and trembled with her cries.
"I will never leave you," Sasha murmured in the little blonde's ear.
Annabeth drew back and looked her teacher in the eye. "You promise?"
The raven haired woman nodded. "Yes, lyubov moya, I promise."
The walls around her heart go up and only one she allows in is Sasha: the one thing keeping the fragile girl together.
Annabeth is nine when Frederick remarries. Her new stepmother's name is Mia, but she's dismissive of the little gray eyed girl. Annabeth isn't hurt by it, she's learned to be self-sufficient. Still, she retreated into herself and her music. She pulled away from her friends and they let her go easily enough. She was okay with that. The only thing that keeps her going is her piano lessons.
Annabeth is twelve when the twins, Matthew and Bobby, are born. She watched in silence as her father and stepmother fawned over her half-brothers. They seemed to receive more attention than Annabeth could remember ever been given in her entire life. She knew the reason, of course. The little blonde was only a painful reminder of her father's previous life. Any pictures of Athena had been locked away in the attic long ago, but Frederick couldn't lock Annabeth away. No, she was doomed to watch from the sidelines; her walls seemed to grow two feet taller.
That year Sasha married a man named Alec Zima, changing her name to Sasha Zima. Annabeth is deprived of her lessons for a month while Sasha and Alec are on their honeymoon. During that empty, unoccupied time Annabeth writes her very first song. As the year starts to pass, one journal turns to two, two into three, and so on. She plays them for her teacher.
"Oh, lyubov moya," Sasha had exclaimed when Annabeth finished. "That was beautiful! You wrote that?! You have lyrical talent, and a beautiful voice on top of it. I think you're dream of being a singer is attainable for you."
Annabeth's gray eyes brightened. "Sasha, you really think so?"
Sasha smiled encouragingly. "Yes, I do, lyubov moya. I truly do."
Annabeth is fourteen when she gets her first boyfriend. His name is Daniel, and it comes as a surprise to her when he asked her out. She barely spoke at school unless it was to answer a question or she had to. Confused, she asks her piano teacher what to do.
The raven haired woman had a hand resting on her swollen belly when she told the blonde to try dating. Sasha was six months pregnant, and Annabeth had been a little jealous at the prospect of having to share her teacher with someone else; otherwise, she was excited for the woman who had come to be like an older sister to her.
Annabeth and Daniel dated for three months. He's her first kiss, but she doesn't open up too him. The walls around her heart stay up, refusing to allow herself to become attached to someone who could hurt her. When he breaks up with her, she doesn't cry. After all, she never let him get close enough to break her heart. That's the whole reason he dumped her.
Annabeth is sixteen when her entire world came crashing down around her. She remember that day clearly.
It was a Sunday, and she was at home teaching herself how to play the guitar off of YouTube tutorials. She had saved up enough allowance to buy herself an acoustic guitar. She was already very skilled in piano and wanted to learn something else. Her phone had started ringing and the name 'Alec Zima' had been displayed on the caller ID. Annabeth had been babysitting the Zima's son, Mikhail, for awhile now, and his number was in there for emergencies. Alec was like an older brother to the blonde after a few years, but they would never be very close to her like Sasha was.
"Hello," Annabeth answered.
"Annabeth," Alec's voice croaked. "Something's happened."
The teenager froze, icy dread pooled in her stomach. "What happened?"
"Sasha- she- she-" His voice died.
"What happened to Sasha, Alec?" Annabeth demanded, panic seized her like a vice.
"She's was in an car accident."
"Which hospital are you at?" Annabeth already had her shoes on and was headed downstairs.
"Sacramento General," He choked out, in the background Annabeth could her a small child start to cry.
"I'm on my way." She pulled out of the driveway as she said so.
The fifteen minutes it took her to get there was the longest fifteen minutes of Annabeth's life. She parked and ran full speed into the building. She immediately spotted Alec and a wailing Mikhail. She sprinted to them.
"Any news?" She asked, taking the toddler from the anxious man.
Alec shook his head, brown hair disheveled. "No, she's in surgery."
Annabeth nodded as she bounced up down un the balls of her feet, trying to calm the distressed child. She started to sing under her breath and Mikhail's crying stopped. She could feel his little hands start to play with her loose curls. Alec slumped into one of the waiting room's chair and the blonde sat down next to him.
"What happened?" Annabeth prodded gently.
"A car lost control and caused a pile-up." He explained solemnly, rubbing his face worriedly.
Annabeth closed her eyes and allowed the news to sink in. It never really did, but for the next hour she kept herself occupied by distracting Mikhail. The boy had been asleep for about ten minutes when a surgeon entered the waiting room looking for the family of Sasha Zima.
Alec and Annabeth, who was still holding a sleeping toddler, quickly rushed over to him.
"I'm her husband," Alec explained urgently to the doctor. "Is she okay?"
"I'm sorry, she lost too much blood. There was nothing else we could do."
It sounded like the words had come from the end of a long tunnel. Faded. Echoed. Annabeth doesn't remember how she ended up sitting on the floor, but there she was clutching her piano teacher's son. Her dead piano teacher's son. Tsunamis of emotion crashed into her. First it was shock, then pain and grief, finally numbness. She didn't even register as the sobbing Alec took his son from her arms. She doesn't know how long she sat there, time seemed to slow down around her. That night, Annabeth cried herself to sleep clutching an old photograph of her and her teacher.
The funeral was held a few days later. To the teen girl, it seemed cruel that it was sunny and warm. She sang 'Amazing Grace' for the congregation, but she was unable to keep herself from breaking down into tears halfway through. The blonde kept singing, and if anyone was bothered by how her voice cracked and shook occasionally, no one said so.
She brought flowers to the grave every Sunday, after that.
Her parents and brothers seemed to tiptoe around her for the next couple of months. She didn't blame them, she had become snappy and rude to anyone who bothered her. Her walls grew higher and stronger. The one person who promised to never leave her was gone, and she was now alone. All she had left was her music. That's what kept her going.
Annabeth was seventeen when she met John. Somehow, despite how fiercely Annabeth resisted, he managed to get through her walls and worm his way into her heart. John let her talk about Sasha and he didn't care when she dissolved into sobs while doing so. He merely put his arm around her and let her cry. It took a while, but eventually she agreed to go on a date with him. It was amazing. He treated her like she was a queen and he worshiped her. For the first time in two years, she was happy. She fell fast and she fell hard. Annabeth let her walls crumble.
That turned out to be the greatest mistake of her life.
They had been dating for a few months when he started making comments on how she dressed and the music she listened to. He didn't like it when she wore heels, or when she dressed in something "revealing". Slowly, without her even realizing it, Annabeth started to conform to his thoughts about her wardrobe. The fighting increases and the affection comes less and less. When they aren't fighting, they barely speak. Sometimes, Annabeth would start a fight just to feel something.
They had been dating for six months when he hits her for the first time. It sends her reeling, but John quickly apologizes. He cries, buys her gifts, and swears that he'll never do it again.
Each time he hits her, the force is stronger, the bruises get darker and last longer. But every time he apologizes, tells her he loves her, and promises that he won't do it again. So the cycle goes on and on and on. Every time he lies, but Annabeth believes him. She loves him. At least, she thinks she does.
Nine months they've been dating when it happens for the first time. John wanted to have some "fun", but she was tired and didn't want to. She told him no. But, John doesn't take no for an answer. She doesn't know how long or how many times it happened for the next few months, but she feels dirty. Disgusting. Revolting. Again, she retreats into her songwriting and music. The only thing that understands her.
Annabeth just turned nineteen when she escapes. She was in the hospital because of John for the nth time when she finally cracks. She has agrees to let her doctor call the police and she tells them everything. The trial happens quickly. John was sentenced for a long time. He'll most likely be an old man before he gets out of prison. That summer she receives her acceptance letter for Olympus University in New York.
She leaves as fast as she can find and rent an apartment. She packs up her things, and says the briefest of goodbyes to her father and stepmother. Annabeth gives Matthew and Bobby each a hug. When they ask if she's ever coming back, she smiles sadly and tells them she doesn't know. They frown at her. They may not be the closest of siblings but she still cares for them.
On her way out of town, she stops at the Zima's house. She had still babysat Mikhail, even after Sasha died. She hugged Alec goodbye, thanking him for everything he's ever done for her, promising to call and check in every so often. Mikhail bawled as she hugged him and kissed his cheek. He clutched her and she had a flashback of how she had gripped his mother the same way all those years ago. Annabeth tore herself away from the little boy and got back in her car, eyes burning with unshed tears. The blonde had one last stop to make before she left for good.
She laid the flowers down on the grave. "Goodbye, Sasha," She whispered, a tear racing down her cheek before she wiped it away. As she walked away toward her car, a breeze rushed by her. In the rustle of the grass and trees, she heard a faint whisper.
"Goodbye, lyubov moya."