First day of school, third grade…
I walked into my new third grade classroom and paused, letting the smell of the room engulf me as I looked around. There were only a few kids right now but I knew that the room would soon be filled with twenty-five other kids running around looking for glue and scissors and paper.
The desks were gathered in groups of four all over the room. They had our names taped onto them and I quickly found mine. Annabeth Chase, written perfectly in cursive writing. I realized that I would be learning how to do that very same thing this year. I smiled.
I pulled the seat out and spent the next five minutes organizing my supplies in my desk, separating my binder from the new textbooks I knew I was going to receive in the coming days. Once everything was in its right place, I pulled out my book on Greek mythology and waited patiently for the first day of school to begin.
Not long after, the room was filled with kids my age. Everyone was chattering with friends about their summer and how "fun and amazing it was!" I didn't really have any close friends and none of my friends were in this class, so I kept to myself mostly. I found it a little harder to concentrate on my book but then the chair of the desk next to mine was abruptly pulled out and a boy sat down with a huff. I glanced at him irritably and turned back to my book.
"Hi, I'm Percy Jackson," the boy said.
I turned my head to look at him. He was about my age (obviously) but even sitting down, I could tell I was taller than him. He had messy raven-black hair, beautiful green eyes, and I counted at least three missing teeth in the smile he gave me. He was holding out his hand.
I shook it. "Annabeth Chase," I said, introducing myself. I gave him a confused look. "What kind of name is Percy? I've never heard of that name before."
"It's short of Perseus," he explained, grimacing. "I don't like my full name too much, so everyone just calls me Percy." I noticed he took a quick glance at my book.
"Perseus…?" I asked. The name sounded really familiar.
"Oh, you see, my mom teaches Greek mythology at Berkeley. I'm named after the Greek hero who killed Medusa."
My eyes opened wide as I looked between him and the book in my hands. That's why the name sounded familiar! I had read about Perseus just last night!
Before I could say anything else, the bell rang and our teacher, Mr. Brunner, who wheeled around in a wheelchair, called for attention.
"Good morning, class," he greeted with a smile once everyone was in their seats. "Because today is the first day of school, I want you all to find a partner and fill out this worksheet." He held up a stack of papers. "You're going to find out more about your partners by asking them the questions on this sheet. These do not have to be turned in but you should keep them in your binders in case you need them for a later date. Choose someone that you do not already know."
He began passing out the worksheet and all of the kids starting picking partners.
"Wanna be partners?" Percy asked.
I smiled and said, "Sure."
Just then, Mr. Brunner came around and asked, "Ms. Chase, who are you partnered with?"
"Percy," I answered, nodding my head in his direction. He handed me two worksheets and I gave one to Percy.
I reached into my desk for my pencil and looked over the questions while I waited for Percy, who was rummaging around in his desk, to grab his pencil. However, he seemed to have misplaced his pencil or forgot to bring it with him from home. I smirked and played with an extra pencil I had in my desk. Eventually, he let out a groan and put his face in his hands.
"Hey, Annabeth?" he asked, looking at me with hopeful eyes. "Can I borrow – oh, thanks."
I hadn't even let him finish his question before I held out the pencil I'd been playing with. Percy grabbed it and looked down at his worksheet, a light blush appearing on his cheeks.
I smiled. "Ok, let's start this," I said, going back to the task at hand.
"Ok…" Percy glanced at the first question. "What's your name?" he asked with an innocent smile. He looked at me expectantly.
Rolling my eyes, but smiling nonetheless, I said, "Annabeth Chase. And what's your name?"
The questions were easy to answer and pretty soon we were done, chatting while we waited for the rest of the class to finish. After about forty-five minutes, Mr. Brunner had us stop and explained what we were going to do next.
We were going to play a game where everyone had to sit on their desks and toss a beach ball around. But, before we passed it, we had to say the name of the person we were passing it to. It was a lot of fun and I was able to learn most everyone's names in the class by the time we finished.
When it was time for recess, I grabbed my book and lined up with everyone else waiting at the door. As soon as we were allowed to go out, I headed straight for the small grove of trees at the edge of the large field next to the playground. Once there, I sat down on the ground and leaned up against a tree, propping my book open on my lap, blocking out the sounds of kids laughing and playing soccer or jumping rope.
It was barely five minutes later when a shadow fell across my book and a voice asked from behind me, "Can I join you?"
Before I could look up, Percy Jackson sat down on the grass beside me. I shot him a glare.
"What do you think you're doing?" I asked him, peeved I was being interrupted from my book. Again.
He raised his hands in defense. "Whoa, Wise Girl, I only sat down. You were alone so I thought I'd join you. Is there a problem with that?"
I thought about it for a second but scowled when I couldn't think of an excuse. I sighed snapping my book shut. "Fine," I said. Percy grinned. "Wait, Wise Girl?"
He nodded his head. "Yup! You're smart and a girl, so that's my nickname for you: Wise Girl." I rolled me eyes but ignored it.
We sat in silence for about a minute when Percy suddenly prodded me in the arm, yelled, "Tag, you're it!" and ran off, laughing like crazy.
"Oh, no you don't," I grumbled and raced after him, leaving my book at the base of the tree.
Percy and I continued chasing each other around the yard until, gasping for air and laughing our heads off, we heard the bell signaling that recess was over. We were walking back to our class when Percy suddenly stopped. "Hold on a sec., I'll be right back," he said before dashing off.
"Percy?" I called after him, but he didn't answer.
I watched him as he ran to the tree I had been leaning against, bent down and grabbed something, then come running back to me. As he got closer, I saw what was in his hand.
"My book!" I exclaimed, mentally facepalming myself for forgetting. "I completely forgot about it!"
He grinned at me. "That's why I went back to get it." He handed it to me.
I hugged it to my chest and smiled at him. "Thank you. I would've been really upset if I'd lost it."
We turned around and walked back to our class together. As I sat back down in my seat, I realized that I had just made a friend in Percy Jackson.
End of 6th grade….
The car rumbled down the road and passed the familiar sights of downtown San Francisco as it made its way to the airport. But I wasn't paying attention. I was too wrapped up in my own grief, but I told myself I wasn't going to cry. Crying was a sign of weakness and I was not weak.
It was silent in the car. Nobody talked or made a sound and the silence wrapped around us like an uncomfortable cocoon. It soured my mood even more and I knew I was close to snapping, but I kept it in.
But all too soon, Dad was pulling into a space in the parking lot of the airport and he and my step-mom were getting out of the car. I stayed where I was, my eyes closed against the tears that threatened to spill down my cheeks.
I felt a hand cover my own and I looked up into the eyes of Percy Jackson, who was watching me with sadness. He didn't say anything, but he squeezed my hand once before opening the door and getting out of the car. I tried to put on a brave face and followed him.
The hot and muggy air didn't help as we walked over to the rental car parked a few spaces from us. Nobody spoke as each of us grabbed a piece of luggage from the trunk and began hauling them to the front doors. If at all possible, the cool air inside the building made me feel even worse and I could feel my brave face melting.
Before I knew it, we were at security and the Jacksons had yet to get in line. The two families talked but we all knew that the moment was coming way too fast.
Paul, Percy's step-dad, looked at his watch and said to Sally, Percy's mom, "We should get in line; we have to be there in less than half an hour."
This was it. The moment was here and I was losing my best friend, probably forever. I could feel the tears coming but I pushed them back; I was not going to cry.
After saying his goodbyes to my dad and step-mom, and I finished giving Sally and Paul hugs, Percy turned to me and gave me a sad smile. "I guess this is it, Wise Girl. Be safe now, don't get into any trouble."
I snorted. "Me? Get in trouble? Speak for yourself. You need to watch out for yourself. You're moving to New York after all, who knows what kind of people are there."
Our parents were keeping their distance from us, to give us a moment of privacy. But we stood awkwardly, not really wanting to continue on but both knowing we had to.
Percy broke the silence first. "I'll be seeing you, Wise Girl. Don't forget us." After a moment's hesitation, he held out his hand awkwardly. I looked at it and then up at him, but he wouldn't look at me.
I shook it. "Bye, Seaweed Brain."
And with that, he turned around, grabbed his stuff, and followed his parents to the line for security. I watched him, dread filling my heart and a heavy weight was in my stomach. I couldn't believe this was really it. My best friend, who I have known since third grade, was leaving today, within the next hour, and I may never get to see him again. We were supposed to be best friends forever and nothing was ever going to tear us apart. But we never anticipated that a job offer in New York would have enough power to do just that.
In the blink of an eye, I realized Percy was at the front of the line and was handing the security guard his plane ticket and school I.D. Just ten more minutes, and he will be out of my life.
I felt my heart broke and the dam I had put up to block the tears finally crumbled. I stumbled forward. "Percy," I said, too low for anyone to hear. My voice cracked and I felt the first few tears trickle down my cheeks. I moved forward more. "Percy!" I called.
He froze and turned around. When he saw me, he immediately got out of line and ran over to me. I spread my arms out and met him halfway, feeling his strong arms wrap around me tightly as I wrapped mine around his neck. The tears came and I was suddenly sobbing into his neck, grabbing onto the back of his shirt and not letting go.
"Shh, shhh, it's going to be ok," he whispered into my ear.
"N-No, it's n-not," I sobbed. "Y-You're my best f-friend, I-I don't want t-to lose you."
"You're not going to. We'll still be best friends, I promise."
"How c-can you promise th-that?" I asked incredulously. "You're moving a-and I'll n-never see you a-again."
I felt him shake his head. "I'll find you, this isn't the end. When I can move out and live on my own, I'll come back and find you. I promise."
I moved my head back to look him in the eyes. His beautiful sea-green eyes were outlined in red and tears were falling down his cheeks, too. Never, in the three years I have known him, have I ever seen Percy Jackson cry. It made my heart hurt even more.
"Do you promise?" I asked quietly.
He smiled at me. "I promise."
"Swear it on the River Styx." It was binding, something we had done for years because of our mutual obsession with Greek mythology.
He smirked and said, "I swear on the River Styx that I will come back and find you."
"You better. I'm going to miss you."
Percy hugged me tighter. "I'll miss you, too, Wise Girl."
"Percy!" We both looked around to see Sally, with tears running down her cheeks, gesturing at Percy to move. "We have to go."
My chin wobbled as I looked back at Percy. I could see the fresh tears swimming in his eyes.
"Goodbye, Wise Girl," he said.
"Goodbye, Seaweed Brain."
He hugged me a little tighter before letting go and going back to his parents. He handed the security guard his ticket and I.D. again. Just before he disappeared into the line, he turned around and waved at me. I waved back.
"Goodbye, Percy," I whispered to myself before turning around and following my parents out of the airport and to the car.
6 years later, Senior year…
It was after first period that I started hearing the rumors about the new kid, particularly from the sex-crazed girls.
"Oh, he's so gorgeous!"
"His eyes are so green! I've never seen that kind of green before!"
"And the way his hair just goes everywhere!"
Seriously, it was making me sick. I'd never been one for gossip and tried to ignore it. But that didn't stop my best friend, Thalia, from joining in on it.
"I hear he was the top swimmer of the state, and that he's like…all into that Greek crap you like so much…"
"Thalia!" I snapped. She looked at me, stunned. I rolled my eyes. "Stop talking about him. He's just a new student and from what I've heard about him, he's not going to give you the time of day. Ever. He'll probably get sucked into the stupid popularity in this school. I don't care."
Thalia had a hurt look in her eyes but I had had enough. This new kid was pretty much all I had heard about since first period. And it was lunchtime now; there was only so much I could handle.
We ate in silence for the rest of lunch and when the bell rang, Thalia jumped up from the table and walked away so fast, she could've left a trail of fire behind her. I sighed. I knew she was upset and I love her to death, but I couldn't hear about the new kid anymore.
What I didn't tell Thalia though, was that it actually hurt to hear about the new kid. Everything I had heard about him – the messy, raven-black hair, the eyes as green as the sea, the swimming, the Greek obsession – it all reminded me of Percy. Those were all of Percy's qualities, right down to the swimming. He loved to swim and used to drag me to the Y as soon as summer hit.
I sighed as I left the lunchroom. I had a free period and I usually spent it working on homework in the library. But as soon as I opened my architecture book, I realized I wouldn't be able to concentrate on it. Damn new kid, I thought. I hadn't seen or heard from Percy since he moved to New York at the end of the 6th grade, almost six years ago. Knowing Percy, I knew he would try to keep his promise he made to me, that he would come back and find me, but as I got older, I started to realize that that would be harder than I thought at twelve years old. The earliest he could come back would be during college and it could be too late by then.
When there were five minutes left of the period, I packed up my stuff and left the library, headed for my locker. Other students who had this period off wandered around the halls, opening and closing their lockers, and heading to their next class. I was pulling out my Greek mythology book from my locker when the first bell rang and kids poured into the halls.
Before I closed my locker, the picture I had taped up to the back caught my eye and I stared at it wistfully. It was a picture of Percy and I a week before he moved. Our mouths were open mid-laugh and we weren't looking at the camera. There was vanilla ice cream smeared all over Percy's nose and mouth and a glob of blueberry ice cream was stuck in my hair.
It was a miracle that day that neither of us had homework so we decided to spend it together. We'd somehow convinced Sally and my dad to take us to an amusement park nearby and we had had a blast. After riding so many rides, we decided to take a little break and get some ice cream. It had been normal enough, until Percy, in his ADHD-ness, decided it wasn't nearly that much fun and shoved his ice cream cone into my hair. An ice cream war ensued and we ended up with ice cream all over ourselves and laughing our heads off, our parents watching us with smiles on their faces and shaking their heads. Sally had her camera with her and she quickly took a picture of us without either of us knowing.
But the day Percy told me they were moving, he gave me a copy of the picture in a white picture frame with small waves carved into the wood. The frame broke so I took the picture and kept it in my locker during the school year and pinned on my bedroom wall during the summer. It was my favorite picture of the two of us.
My next class was nearby so I took my time walking down the hall, ignoring the comments about the new kid that I heard from all around me. When I got to my class, I sat in my usual seat in the back of the room. I had just opened my textbook when I notice somebody stand next to the empty seat next to mine. I was surprised, but I didn't say anything to them. Technically, with my Greek mythology obsession, my interest in architecture, and my fluency in Ancient Greek, I was considered the nerd of the school and was avoided by a majority of the student body. The only exception really was Thalia, who always stood up for me and was the only person I could talk to.
I figured it was the new kid because nobody else would willingly sit next to me and he probably hadn't been told about me yet.
"Hey, can I borrow a pencil?" the guy asked.
"Sure," I said, opening my pencil case to grab an extra pencil. This oddly felt like how it did when Percy asked me for a pencil all those years ago. I grimaced discreetly and handed the guy the pencil without looking at him.
He finally sat down. "Thanks, Wise Girl."
I froze. My breath caught in my throat and I suddenly forgot how to breathe properly. I abruptly stood up and he followed suit. When I finally turned around to look at him, I saw his lips were curled up into a smirk.
"What? Don't recognize me, Wise Girl?"
I took in his appearance for the first time. His black hair was messy and fell into his eyes; his smile was wide and friendly, with a sarcastic edge. He had a swimmer's body, with broad shoulders and a small waist. He was at least half a head taller than me, so I had to look up to look at his eyes.
And his eyes….Oh gods, his eyes. They were the most beautiful green I had ever seen, like I was looking into the green of the sea. I felt like I was drowning in them and I never wanted to leave.
"Percy?" I finally breathed out, barely more than a whisper.
He grinned and held his arms out. "The one and only."
I was still for a second, but then….
"Percy!" I shot forward and wrapped my arms tight around his shoulders while he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me closer to him.
I breathed in his scent, a mixture of the sea and chocolate chip cookies, his favorite food. It was all so…Percy. And I had missed it.
"You came back," I whispered in his ear.
I could feel the laugh ripple through his body. "I told you I would. And I'm not letting you go this time."
I smiled and hugged him even tighter. "You better."
Percy kissed my cheek and I felt a shock going through my body from the place where he kissed me. He pulled back and smiled at me.
Percy and I immediately jumped away from each other. But I jumped right into my desk and I stumbled. Quick as a flash, Percy's hand was wrapped around my upper arm and he was holding me steady. I blushed and mumbled, "Thanks," before taking my seat.
The teacher, Mr. Grange, looked at us, annoyed. "As I was saying," he said. "Class, I would like to introduce the new student, Percy Jackson, who moved here from…?" He glanced at Percy uncertainly.
"Well," Percy began. "I moved here from New York, but I'm originally from San Francisco. My step-dad was offered—"
"Yes, well….whatever," Mr. Grange interrupted, waving his hand dismissively. Percy blushed and quickly sat down.
Mr. Grange droned on about gods-knows-what (seriously, it's a good thing I already know all the myths and everything about the Ancient Greeks by heart). When he wasn't looking, I ripped out a blank piece of paper, wrote a quick note, and handed it to Percy.
Don't worry about him, he hates his job.
Percy smirked and wrote something before handing it back to me.
Thanks for the warning.
Gods, you wouldn't believe the morning I've had.
That bad huh?
You have no idea. I think I got asked out about ten different times. It was really weird the first time it happened, and then it got old by the time the fifth girl asked me, and downright annoying when the tenth girl asked me out.
I had to cover my mouth with my hand to stop from snorting with laughter. It was like middle school all over again. Percy was a fun guy to be around with even then and he was constantly asked out by over-confident girls. It was hilarious but Percy hated it. I once asked him why he didn't just get a girlfriend, because then he wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. He told me that none of them were the right girl. But he wouldn't tell me who the 'right' girl was.
I looked over at Percy and suddenly saw why he kept getting asked out. I realized that this wasn't like middle school at all.
I had always known Percy was good-looking, even in sixth grade, but that was six years ago; I never anticipated that he would grow up to look like this. And the more I looked at him, the more this feeling of….something began to rise in my chest. I felt oddly….protective of Percy, like if any girl decided to so much as look at him, I'd claw their eyes out. And it wasn't just that either. I was suddenly feeling a growing fondness for my long-time best friend.
What was wrong with me? I had only ever felt nothing but friendship for Percy, nor have I ever felt like this for anyone before. I couldn't put a name to the feeling, which was absolutely ridiculous. I'm Annabeth Chase for crying out loud! I'm one of the top students in this year's graduating class! Percy and I even used joke that if I had a godly parent, it would be Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. I'm all of this and I can't even—
I jumped, moving the desk at least five inches. When I heard the snickers from the students around me, I covered my face with my hands, hoping to hide the blush that was appearing on my cheeks. After a minute, when my heart rate slowed down a little, I peeked out from between my fingers, only to see Percy's head buried in the crook of his arm and lying on the desk. I thought something was wrong until I saw his shoulders were shaking.
"Percy!" I groaned, pushing his shoulder before burying my face into my hands again. But that only made him laugh even harder, actually making noises as opposed to just sporting a very red face.
"You-You should've seen you-your face!" he gasped, struggling for breath. He wiped at his eyes, rubbing away tears.
"Oh, shut up," I snapped half-heartedly. He just let out another short burst of laughter. I glared at him for a few seconds before I finally cracked and started laughing. Honestly, it felt amazing to laugh with my best friend again. I never thought I would have the opportunity to do it again.
After that, despite Mr. Grange's attempts to get the attention back on him, the class just got too rowdy and he ended up giving us the rest of the period off. There were cheers until everyone realized that there were only five minutes left of class.
Percy and I spent the remaining minutes catching up and when the bell rang to signal the end of class, there was no stop in our conversation as we picked up our books and left the classroom. We were in front of my locker when I saw Thalia over Percy's shoulder. I grinned.
"Thalia!" I called, gesturing for her to come over.
"Thalia?" Percy asked. I thought I saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes, but I dismissed it. "As in – ?"
"Is this the—" She gasped. "Kelp Head?! You're the new kid?!"
"Thalia!" Percy exclaimed excitedly, wrapping Thalia in a big hug. Both of them were laughing.
"Wait," I asked. "You guys know each other?"
Percy stepped away from Thalia, but kept his arm around her shoulders. "Interesting story about with Miss Thals here." Thalia glared at him but Percy ignored her. "We first met at a summer camp about four years ago in Long Island. We were enemies, then friends. Turns out we're first cousins."
I stared at them in shock. "Cousins?" I asked.
"Yup. Our fathers were brothers."
"Your father? As in like…..your real father?" Percy had never known his father, just like I had never known my mother. Sally used to tell us stories about Percy's father, but when we asked her what had happened to him, she said that he had gone sailing one day and never came home.
"Yeah." Percy scratched his head, looking a little uncomfortable. Thalia gave him a sympathetic look. I felt a small pang of jealousy at the way they acted around each other. I knew it was unjustified, since they're cousins, but I wished I had the kind of relationship with my family that they did with each other. Ever since Percy moved away, my relationship with my father dwindled considerably and even more so with my step-mom. We'd been working on it some more the last year, but we still had a long ways to go.
But I let the jealousy go as I saw the look on Percy's face. I could tell that finding out who his father was wasn't exactly an exciting experience. Thalia must've seen the look on my face because she withdrew her arm from his shoulder a second before I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around Percy's waist. He hesitated for a second before I felt his arms wrap around me.
We stood there in silence for a few minutes, during which I heard Thalia say, "I'll talk to you two later," and walk off.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled into his chest. "I'm sure that was hard meeting him."
Percy chuckled unhappily before letting me grab my books and backpack from my locker. He placed his arm around my shoulders as we made our way out the front doors. I didn't miss the confused and mystified looks from the other students in the hallway as we passed them. Or the whispers hidden behind hands. I just rolled my eyes and ignored them.
"It was ok," Percy said, continuing our conversation from my locker. "He knew about me but he was always sailing so he never got the chance to come visit. And my mom never told him where we lived or when my birthday was so that was why I never got anything from him."
"So, what's wrong?" I asked.
"What makes you think something's wrong?" he asked. I could tell he was trying to sound upbeat, but it failed.
I rolled my eyes. "Percy, I've known you for nine years, and yeah, I may not have seen you for most of that time, but we were also best friends; I know you almost better than you know yourself."
"Ok, that's creepy." I shot him a glare. He lifted his hands in surrender. "Just saying."
We were outside now and I pulled my jacket tighter around myself to block the cool breeze coming in from the ocean.
"Boy, have I missed that," I heard Percy say in a low voice. I looked up at him and saw that he was watching the waves of the ocean coming in and going out. There was a certain look on his face that I couldn't quite describe, like he was remembering things that had long since occurred.
"What are you thinking?" I asked him softly, not wanting to break whatever moment he was having.
"Just thinking about the days when we used to hang out on the beach all day when we didn't have school. You don't get a view quite like this in New York. Don't get me wrong, there are beaches, but none like the ones here."
I smiled at him before placing my hand on his arm. "Well, it's good to have you back."
Percy smiled down at me, his sea-green eyes twinkling.
"It's good to be back."
Over the next few months, Percy and I got closer, closer than when we were kids. We pretty much started right where we were when he moved and did everything together. We had sleepovers at each other's houses (Sally was beyond ecstatic the first time I stepped through their door after they moved back and had immediately pulled me into a hug), our families had dinners together. Percy and I hung out like any other teenaged best friends.
Thalia has since started dating Nico di Angelo, a quiet boy who was a bit of an outsider in the school but who had somehow stolen my best friend's heart. Nico became quick friends with all of us and he and Percy were almost always up to no good.
As I had suspected, Percy became popular, but he didn't brag about it like some other idiots would have normally done. Percy hated the social standing he had, but I knew it was bound to happen with his crazy good looks and his care-free lifestyle. It didn't help that he quickly replaced the previous swim team captain just because he practically lived in the water.
And….I would be lying if I said I hadn't developed a little…minor…crush on a certain best friend in the last few months. I quickly realized that the feeling of fondness I had when I saw Percy again was actually the beginnings of a crush I hadn't realized was there when he first moved. Of course, this did not go unnoticed by Thalia, who caught me staring at Percy while he and Nico discussed how to get itching powder into the cheerleader uniforms.
"Hey, Annabeth," Thalia said as she came up beside me. "What are they talking about?"
I shrugged. "Something about itching powder and cheerleader uniforms. I don't wanna know," I added at the look Thalia gave me.
She was silent for a few seconds, probably trying to decide whether or not she wanted to scold them or join in on the fun. My guess is the latter.
"So, anyway, I have a question to ask you."
I felt the color drain from my face. I hated being asked that question. "Ok…?"
"Do you like my cousin?"
Leave it to Thalia to be blunt, I thought as I felt my cheeks go the other way on the color wheel.
"Oh, umm….n-n—what kind of question i-is that?" I asked. "Percy and I, w-we're just friends. I-I don't like him like that."
But one look at Thalia and I knew I had blown it. I let my shoulders drop. "Ok, yes." She got a really excited look on her face and her electric blue eyes seemed to spark. "But don't tell him."
The excited look dropped immediately. "Why not?"
"I just…" I glanced quickly at Percy and Nico to make sure neither of them was listening. "I'm pretty sure he doesn't feel the same way about me. Sure, we've known each other since third grade, but he's just—he's so—" I trailed off, waving my hands around, trying to find the word.
"He's so—what?" Thalia pushed.
I floundered a little more. "Percy," I finally got out.
"So let me get this straight: you don't want to tell him you like him because he's Percy? Do you not realize how stupid that sounds?"
I groaned. "I know it sounds stupid, but you don't understand! Percy has always been oblivious to pretty much everything around him. I've given him signs ever since he came back and I realized I liked him, but he has never noticed them. And you know how I feel about the girl asking the guy; it just doesn't feel right."
Thalia smacked me across the head. "Hey! What was that for?" I exclaimed as I rubbed the spot where she hit me.
"You're an idiot! Have you ever thought that maybe Percy has been wanting you to take that step? That maybe he has seen all of your little signs but has been too damn scared to do anything about it?"
I looked at Thalia like she'd gone crazy. "Percy is one of the bravest people I know; how can he be so scared to ask me out?"
"Because you can be scary. I know for a fact that Percy is scared shitless of asking you out because he doesn't think you like him the same way."
"I—What?" I asked, stunned. "Percy's wanted to—?"
"Ask you out? Yes, he has."
I leaned against my locker, not trusting myself to speak. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and I tried my hardest to blink them away.
After a moment, I finally whispered, "How long?"
"How long what?" Thalia asked.
I opened my mouth to speak but realized that it was dry. I swallowed once before trying again. "How long has he wanted to ask me out?"
"Since his first day of school."
I bowed my head and squeezed my eyes shut, but it didn't stop the tears from making their way down my cheeks. Thalia put a comforting hand on my back while I cried quietly.
When I felt enough time had passed, I wiped all evidence of tears from my face and stood up a little straighter. I grabbed my books from my locker and turned around to face Thalia.
"So what should I do?" I asked her.
Thalia grinned and I saw a wicked glint appear in her eyes.
"I have the perfect idea…"
"Do you think he'll like it?" I asked timidly.
"He will love it," Thalia answered as she did the finishing touches to my makeup. "And if he doesn't, I will personally make sure he falls into the Pacific and drowns."
"Thalia!" I chided. She just rolled her eyes.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was nervous three days ago, when Thalia first told me her plan. Now I was terrified. What if everything went completely wrong? What if we were wrong and Percy didn't like me as more than just a friend? I know what Thalia said, but I couldn't help the doubts that always invaded my thoughts.
"Done," Thalia announced and pulled away. "You can turn around now."
I took a deep breath, let it out, and turned around to face the mirror behind me. When I focused on it, I gasped.
"Oh," I breathed out.
I was…beautiful. Thalia had gone for natural when she did my makeup, applying very little foundation and blush. But what stood out the most were my eyes. The grey shined underneath the light brown eye shadow Thalia had put on. They shined with a brightness I had never seen before. They gave a certain carefree look to my face that hadn't been there since I was younger. Thalia barely touched my hair, except to pull one side of it back with a silver clip.
And my dress! Thalia had insisted I wear one because I never wear dresses; I'd much rather wear a T-shirt and jeans. But as soon as I saw it on me in the mirror, I knew it was the right choice.
The dress was strapless (which took Thalia forever to convince me to wear) and came down to just above my knees. It was a beautiful royal blue – Percy's favorite color – with a white ribbon that tied around my waist twice and wrapped into a bow at my left hip. I wore white ballet flats.
"Thalia…" I paused, not able to put to words the feelings swirling around in my chest.
She grinned at my reflection. "I know. You're beautiful."
I whirled around and hugged her. "Thank you," I said in her ear.
Just then, Thalia's phone dinged and we broke apart. She opened it and looked at the screen.
"Shit!" she exclaimed.
"What's wrong?" I asked, afraid of her answer.
"We gotta go, they're less than ten minutes away." She sprinted out the door and ran down the hallway.
"What?!" I squeaked, stumbling after her.
I groaned, my heart pounding with nerves, and followed her through the house and out the front door. We ran for her car and got in. In record time, Thalia had the car on and was zipping down the road.
I grabbed onto the sides of my seat. "Thalia!" I yelled. "Slow down! You're a maniac!"
I saw her smirk out of the corner of my eye, her eyes on the road. "I know."
On the way to our destination, I kept my eyes peeled, shouting out whenever Thalia came too close to something on the sidewalk. She knew how much I hated it when she drives in a hurry. I was convinced she was going to get into an accident one day because of it.
In less than five minutes, we made it to the beach and Thalia parked the car in the parking lot. Just before stepping into the sand, I slipped off my flats and held them in my hand as we sprinted for a little natural alcove surrounded by a group of trees. When I stepped inside, I felt my breath catch in my throat.
Thalia said she and Nico had come down earlier to decorate the little space with candles and small bunches of flowers. It was beautiful and I felt a little more confident in what was about to happen.
Thalia checked her phone. "Nico says they should be here in about five minutes. Now don't forget," she warned, looking at me sternly. "Percy will be blindfolded so Nico is going to lead him here. It's up to you to decide when to take the blindfold off."
I nodded in understanding.
"Nico and I will be over there." She pointed at a picnic table about fifty yards away.
"Ok." I bit my lip.
Thalia's phone dinged again. "They're here. I'm leaving now." She started exiting the alcove.
"Thalia?" I called. She turned around.
I smiled at her. "Thank you, for all of this. You're an amazing friend."
Thatlia grinned, her blue eyes twinkling. "That's what best friends are for." She disappeared from the entrance of the alcove.
I stood there, waiting in the little alcove, hoping and wishing that everything was going to go right tonight.
"No, keep it on; you're not done with it yet."
My mouth fell open. I ducked farther into the alcove to hide myself. But it was next to impossible to control the sudden increase of my heart.
"Just this way."
I brought my hand up to my mouth as I heard Nico's voice again, this time much closer. I could hear their footsteps now, softly pressing through the sand. I closed my eyes and tried to get my breathing under control; I was afraid that they would hear me before they ever made it to the alcove.
"Are we there yet?"
My eyes flew open at the sound of Percy's voice and I suddenly felt calmer, like all I needed was to hear his voice and my nervous energy dimmed considerably. I stood up a little straighter and smoothed out any wrinkles that may have appeared on my dress. I watched the entrance of the alcove.
A minute later, I saw two figures walk into my line of sight from the alcove. One was short, wearing a plain black T-shirt and blue jeans. The other was much taller, wearing blue jeans, a royal blue button-up shirt with a white tie tucked into a black waistcoat. A black blindfold was hiding his sea-green eyes. I couldn't help but smile.
Nico led Percy to the alcove and let go of his arm. While Percy waved his arms around a little, trying to find Nico, Nico just looked at me, smiled, and bowed his head before stepping away.
When Nico was out of sight, Percy asked, "Nico? Hey man, are you there?" He was now turning around in circles.
I giggled a little, and said, "Nico's already left."
Percy froze, his back to me and his arms raised. Slowly, he turned around until he was facing the direction the sound of my voice came from.
"Annabeth?" he asked, barely above a whisper. I saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. He finally lowered his arms.
I stepped forward and reached up to take his blindfold off.
"Hi, Percy." He blinked his eyes as he tried to get used to the sudden light. He focused on me.
"Annabeth? What are—Whoa." He noticed the little alcove we were in and I could see the awestruck look in his eyes as he took in everything. But when he looked back at me, the awestruck look was replaced with something akin to wonder and…love? I couldn't be sure, but that's what I thought I was seeing.
Percy looked like he was finding it difficult to speak. "You look…beautiful."
I blushed and looked down at my dress. "Thanks," I responded shyly.
"Hey," Percy placed a finger under my chin and gently lifted my head so that I was looking at him. I felt sparks at his touch. "Never be embarrassed; you're way too pretty to ever feel like that." He dropped his hand.
We stood in a silence for a couple minutes. I began to wonder if this was a good idea, practically forcing him into this kind of situation. But whenever I caught his eye, I was always surprised to find him already watching me, a small smile curling his lips. Maybe…maybe this would work after all.
"So, do you have any idea why Nico dressed me up and brought me here?" Percy asked.
I felt my heart start thumping a little faster. Should I tell him? I looked up at him and saw he had probably already figured something out, whether or not it was the right thing is beyond me. I took a breath. Here goes….
"Umm…yeah, I do." Percy raised his eyebrows, but waited for me to continue. My heart went even faster. "Thalia and Nico…they…they think that we should—"
"Start dating?" Percy guessed. I glanced up at him in surprise, only to find him grinning.
"How'd you know?"
He shrugged. "Nico started asking me questions about you, about when we were friends before I moved to New York. I knew he was planning something and I knew it had something to do with us. I figured it out earlier though when I overheard him and Thalia conspiring on the phone."
I was flabbergasted. He knew? But he still went along with it? Did that mean…?
"So…if you knew what they had planned, why'd you still go along with it?"
"Honestly?" I nodded my head. "It's because I knew that this would probably be the best way to finally ask you out."
I felt the confusion on my face morph to a look of shock and then happiness as I took in what he said.
"You…You've wanted to ask me out?" I asked in a quiet voice.
"I've wanted to ask you out since sixth grade."
I looked at him in shock. "Sixth grade? Wait…all those girls you said no to, you told me it was because you were waiting for the right girl. Was that – ?"
"You? Yeah it was. I started liking you during Christmas break of sixth grade, when we made snow angels in the yard in that snowstorm we had."
I smiled at the memory. San Francisco rarely, if ever, got snow and Percy and I had spent the day making snow angels in my front yard.
"You looked so pretty, with snow in your hair and it was falling onto your eyelashes. I took one look at you and was pretty much a goner. I knew I wanted to go out with you right there, but I could never buck up the courage to actually ask you out. And then we moved and I wondered if I would ever see you again, even though I had promised I would find you again."
I was crying. The stupid Seaweed Brain was making me cry and I didn't care if my mascara was running.
Percy noticed the tears for the first time. He reached out and I folded myself into his arms. "Why are you crying?" he asked as he rubbed my back.
I smiled through my tears. "I'm crying because I'm happy. I…I liked you, too, back in sixth grade," I admitted.
He pulled back to look me in the eye with a shocked expression. "Really? How come you didn't say anything?"
I wiped at my eyes. "I didn't realize it until you came back. And also…" I trailed off, suddenly nervous.
"What?" he asked.
"I also realized that I still liked you. My feelings had never changed even though I didn't see or talk to you."
Percy hugged me closer and I buried my face in his chest, breathing in his scent that smelled like the sea.
We stood like that for a few minutes before Percy pulled away just enough to look down at me. And his kiss left my breathless as my hands slid up from his waist and buried themselves in his hair. His arms wrapped tighter around my waist and he pulled me even closer to him.
When he had to pull away from need of air, Percy leaned his forehead against mine and grinned at me.
"So, will you be my girlfriend?" he asked.
I giggled and rolled my eyes. "Yes, Seaweed Brain, I will love to be your girlfriend. Finally." He wasted no time pulling me in for another kiss.
About ten minutes later, we left the little space of the alcove. Our fingers were laced together and we were both grinning. Percy met my eyes, brought our hands up, and placed a small kiss on my fingers.
I blushed and looked away from him to the ocean. I stopped when I realized that we were just in time to see the sunset. Percy wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on my head while I laid my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat.
We watched the sunset and I couldn't help, as Percy stole another kiss from me, but think that this was the best night of my life. And that I was beyond happy that Percy was back in my life, hopefully for good this time.
A/N I'm not gonna lie, I really enjoyed writing this story. This was just something that had been on my mind for awhile and I decided to finally write it. I hope you guys liked it! :)