Rumor: I own PJO and Alex Rider. (This is why we believe rumors: we like them.)

Truth: I do not. Sadly. All rights go to Rick Riordan and Anthony Horowitz.

"The most insidious type of bullying isn't physical.

It's the gossip in the bathroom,

The rumors in the hallway,

And the Truth that no one believes."

"Good morning Alex." Alex groaned, shoving his face deeper into his pillow.

"Go 'way." Dr. Pollo smiled brightly. Too brightly. It was like…way too early for this. He glanced blearily over at the clock to check the time. 3 PM, the clock confirmed. It was definitely too early. "'m tired."

"I'm afraid not. We have to make sure you're reacting well to the medicine and that your bones are setting properly. Among other things." He wouldn't get rid of that stupid smile. It was way too early for anyone to be that happy. Like, at all. Alex groaned again, focusing his eyes on the young doctor. His teeth were literally as white as snow. Alex thought he might go blind just looking at them. Like the sun.

That thought made him giggle. His doctor's name was funny. Like…just look at it. It literally spelled out Apollo. Like, the Greek god of healing and the sun. And truth.

"Can you sit up for me Alex?"

"'mm." He hummed noncommittedly. He was really much too out of it to care. Dr. Andrews worked in silence for a few moments as Alex studied him intently. In all honesty, he looked kind-of adorable with his mussed hair, sleepy eyes and brows furrowed together intently as he watched the doctor work. It only took the doctor a couple seconds before he shook his head, smiling at the young boy with poorly concealed amusement.

"Yes?"

"Yur name's funny." Alex stated, as if this was a very obvious fact.

Dr. Pollo laughed, writing something down on his notepad as he worked. "Hmm? So I've heard."

"Dij'you know yur name spells 'Pollo?" Alex asked, his slurred words a testament to how tired he was. And high.

The doctor laughed again. "Yes. As a matter of fact I did. Quite the coincidence, am I right?"

"Don' 'lieve 'n wincidences." Alex replied, voice dropping off into a wide yawn. He rubbed his eyes tiredly, letting another yawn escape.

"Maybe I am Apollo." Alex squinted up at him, trying to tell if he was being serious or not. After a second he gave up and fell back into the bed, yawning comically.

"I think that last surgery went very well. That means we can start weening you off the morphine and start prepping you for physical therapy." Dr. Pollo remarked. Alex looked at him with uncomprehending eyes, and he shook his head, chuckling quietly to himself. "Alright sleepyhead. You can go back to bed-we're all finished up here."

His only response was a light snore as he exited the room.

Alex Rider hadn't been at school in two weeks, and the rumors were back with a vengeance. James paid little attention to them, neither believing nor refuting them, but that wasn't the case with much of the rest of the football team, and really, the whole school. If the conversation so much as brushed against the topic of Alex Rider, they would immediately delve into the realm of rumors and myths, trying puzzle out the mystery of Alex Rider.

And despite his generally easy-going manner, the rumors flying around the school had an obvious affect on the new kid that was visible to almost everyone. The moment the topic of Alex came up, the black-haired boy would excuse himself from the conversation, a frown marring his usually happy face. He seemed extremely troubled about the rumors that by now had become a constant part of Brookland Comprehensive.

James himself wasn't comfortable spreading rumors about someone who used to be such good friends with him, but he wasn't as bothered by it as the older boy seemed to be. Even Tom had resigned himself to the rumors, although he was quick to refute one if he heard it.

Finally, after hearing a particularly vicious rumor about how Alex had cut the brake lines on his guardian's car when she threatened to report his gang activities to the police, the older teen snapped. "Do you have any decency?! My gods you are despicable!" He spat out, standing up so quickly his chair fell over. Shelly leapt to her feet beside him, sensing the tension in the air.

Matthew reeled back in shock, never before having heard anyone get so angry over Alex Rider. The rest of the team jolted from their seats watching Percy with weary eyes, unsure how to react to his seemingly random outburst. Finally, Matthew found his voice. "Calm down. It was just a joke. Jeez." He muttered unapologetically.

Percy's fists clenched in anger, eyes blazing with raw fury. "A joke?!" He shouted, incredulous. "A joke?!"

He laughed, a harsh, angry laugh. "A joke is saying someone's gonna fail their math test, not insinuating that they murdered their guardian in cold-blood like not one of the worst things that's ever happened to them." He hissed, his entire body trembling with rage. Venom dripped from every word he spoke, the raw fury oozing off of him enough to make half the football team take a step backward unconsciously. "Did you ever even consider the fact that he was telling the truth?!"

"Oh come on! Don't tell me you really believe that crap!" Matthew threw back, his own fists clenched in anger. "What kind of kid spends half his life in a hospital bed and still manages to come back to school covered in bruises? It's obvious he's lying-you're just too blind to see it!"

"Really?! That's your reasoning?" Percy asked, cynically.

"Well…yes! How else do you explain the bruises and the absences? Obviously, he has to be doing something illegal he doesn't want us to know about, otherwise he wouldn't go through all the trouble to forge all those fake doctor's notes!"

"Right. So let me get this straight. Because Alex misses a few weeks of school he must be in a gang or selling drugs." Percy snarked. "So what about me? Am I in a gang? Do I do drugs?"

"Wha-no! Of course not!" Matthew replied, momentarily confused by this sudden turn of events. "I never said that!"

"Really?" Percy replied, voice taking on a false nonchalant tone. "Well that's what you were insinuating. I mean, I've been kicked out of ten schools…I must be a delinquent, right?"

"You've what?! But that's not…you're not…I didn't know…that's not what I meant!"

"But that's what you were insinuating…right?"

"No…you…that's different." Matthew protested weakly.

Percy snorted, shaking his head. "It's not. It's really not." He sat down suddenly, all of the anger rushing out of him all at once and leaving behind a resigned, dejected boy. "You think he doesn't hear the rumors? You think he doesn't know what people say about him? What people think about him? How would you feel if your friends started calling you a druggie? A murderer? You're better than this. All of you."

Nobody would meet his eyes, shame washing over them in torrents. How long had they gone without reproof? Acting like this wasn't a blatant act of bullying on their part. "I don't want to be friends with a group of bullies."

"We're not-!" Matthew started to protest, but Percy cut him off.

"Don't kid yourself. This-this is bullying. Plain and simple. And I won't stand for it anymore. Either this stops-or I'm done. I refuse to associate myself with people who would take-Hades-that is probably one of the most horrible things that's ever happened to him, and you have the gall to blame it on him. My gods Matthew-he's a kid. He's your age. He doesn't deserve that…no one does. I mean-I just-I can't even-I need some air. Don't wait for me."

He looked so upset, so defeated. Like he couldn't even fathom why anyone would indulge themselves in spreading rumors like that, which only served to make them feel a hundred times worse. "And for your information," He called back to them, "He's not lying about being in the hospital. My cousin's his doctor, I'd know if he was."

And then he was gone, leaving a shell-shocked group of football players in his wake.

"Hey, you okay kid?" Green-eyes flickered up to meet Ben's blue ones, before glancing away again. The dark-haired boy was leaning against the school building, arms crossed over his chest, eyes staring off into space while Shelly frolicked in the grass. His jaw clenched for a moment while he mulled over his thoughts, trying to decide whether to say something or not. Finally, he sighed, shoulders slumping in defeat.

"Why do kids have to be so cruel?" He whispered, a frown marring his features. His eyes stared off into the distance, filled with pain. "What's the point?"

Ben hesitated for a second. "What happened?" He inquired gently.

"It was just a rumor. A really, really messed up rumor." He pushed himself off the wall, whistling to get Shelly's attention. Ben watched him, waiting patiently while he slipped the vest back onto his service dog and stood up. The younger boy sighed again, before turning to face his companion.

"About you?" Ben asked.

"Ah…no. A friend. I just…it made me so angry." Percy frowned thoughtfully.

Ben offered him an empathetic smile, "That's understandable. You're a good kid Percy, whoever your friend was," And he had a pretty good idea, "He's lucky to have you. Don't forget, rumors are just rumors. They aren't real, and you know that. You have the ability to make someone's life better because you know that. You don't listen to the rumors. That's precious, kid. Don't ever lose sight of it."

Percy flushed in embarrassment, shoving Ben to the side slightly. "You sound like my mom."

"Eh…she must be a smart woman." Ben laughed.

Percy smiled, "Yeah. Yeah, she is. Thanks, Ben."

"Ok. Now that we have that out of the way, do you have any idea when Alex's birthday is? He refuses to tell me, and I made a bet with him I'd be able to figure it out by today."

"You're on your own there. I get ice-cream if you fail."

"Wha-you're supposed to be on my side here!"

"Ice-cream Ben. Ice-cream."

"You aren't a true friend until you've stood up for your friend in their absence."

*Greek Translation: "Δεν έχεις κάπου να πας; Η τάξη σου είναι στην άλλη πλευρά του σχολείου Τομ."

I don't know if I liked this chapter but…here you go. :D

PLEASE LEAVE ME A REVIEW! Even constructive criticism, I would love ideas for my book. Also, if anyone has any other book ideas or drabbles, they'd want me to write, I'm open to that. Just PM me a plot or idea, love to hear them.

Thank you so much for reading, favoriting, and/or following! Hopefully my writer's block is over by now. But no guarantees.

"…I'll buy you cookies…"

"They'll never beat my mom's."

"…Pizza?…"

"I'm from New York, the pizza here pales in comparison."

"…I'll buy you a car!…"

"Tempting. But I don't think you have the money for that."

"…rude…"

"Give up Ben. I'm never going to tell you."

"…I'll figure it out eventually…"

("Yeah, on your death bed.")

"…I heard that."

"What? I didn't say anything. C'mon! My ice-cream awaits!"

"You're hopeless, you know that?"

"Mm-hmm."

"…Hopeless, I tell you! Hopeless!"