Summary: Annabeth Chase is a no one, spending her time studying, hiding from others, and burying herself deep into her past. To top it all off, this anti-social loner has the biggest crush on Percy Jackson—the most popular guy in school. Travel through the pain of high school with Annabeth as she watches her beloved one, hidden in the shadows.

Dedication: Skaiya McFee - thanks for editing! Also, thank you for all the reads and reviews, and I'm terribly sorry for the wait!


Chapter Eighteen


"Hi, Annabeth!" Rachel approaches me at my locker, her arm linked with Percy's at the elbows. I give her a quick smile and turn to look at Percy, but he's staring blankly at the ground.

"Oh, hi, how are you?" I question, genuinely pleased to see her.

She bounces on her toes slightly, her wild red curls flailing in a halo around her head. "I'm great, actually, thanks! I just wanted to say hi—although I see you last period—and hand you this." Rachel looks expectantly at Percy, who continues to stare at the floor.

It is only when she stands on her toes and pecks him on the cheek that he comes to life. His deep sea green eyes immediately snap up to look at me; his gaze is intense, although guarded, and I can feel my blood slowly creep up to stain my cheeks red.

"The invite?" Rachel prompts, her lips falling into a pout. Percy blinks, nods his head, and retrieves a lilac-colored envelope from a manila folder I hadn't realized he'd been holding. She takes it from his possession, murmuring a bright "Thank you!" and holds it out to me with two hands.

I accept the envelope, cautious to train my eyes on anything but Percy. The front of the invite reads my name in an elaborate script. Glancing up at Rachel, she grins widely, urging me to open it and read the contents.

You are cordially invited to the 17th birthday of Miss Rachel Elizabeth Dare.

When: Friday night, 7:00 pm until 11:30 pm.

Where: The Dare Household, 4526 Allistar Lane

Please RSVP by Thursday to either Rachel or Percy

When I finish reading the invitation, my eyes are drawn to Percy's. His gaze is trained on me, and once he notices I'm staring back, his eyes widen, and he looks away. Another party?

"So, do you think you can make it this time?" Rachel questions hopefully. "I know you couldn't make it to the other one, but I'd really like it if you'd come to my birthday? It's going to be bigger than the previous, and I assure you you'll have fun!"

I open my mouth to say something, but she interrupts me, a pleading look in her eyes. "My parents are going out of town for this, and I've even invited Thalia and Luke and Drew! With them there, you're bound to have at least a little bit of fun!"

From the corner of my eye, I can see Percy scowl and furrow his eyebrows at what was probably Luke's name—or was it Drew's? I don't mention it, and Rachel continues to beg me to go. Why would she want me to come to her birthday party? Aren't they supposed to be… special? With people who mean a lot to you?


She gives me these puppy dog eyes, and her green eyes pop in contrast to her black eyeliner and pale face. "Please, Annabeth? It's my seventeenth birthday!"

"I, uh, I guess, okay," I relent quietly, trying not to regret my decision, especially after seeing the way her face lights up. Rachel beams at me and embraces me in a quick hug. She interlocks her fingers with Percy's—who had remained silent during this entire exchange—and her grin widens.

"Thank you so much, Annabeth!" Rachel exclaims as she drags Percy down the hall with her.

The five minute warning bell rings, and I stand in front of my locker, simply staring down at the lilac colored envelope in my hand. As I walk down the hall to first period, English, I'm unsure whether I regretted my answer or not, but one thing is positive: there is definitely something different about Percy.


During lunch, Thalia and I sit in the far corner of the cafeteria, not to be seen by anyone. Thalia thinks I'm was being ridiculous, but after yesterday, although I had gotten over the actual event, I didn't want to be laughed at by the entire school for the second time.

"C'mon, Annie," she groans, pushing her peas around on the styrofoam tray. "You're just being silly now—there's no reason for us to be sitting all the way over here," Thalia gestures around the room wildly, before pointing at our usual table, "when we could be sitting there."

I shake my head with a sigh. "Over here, I don't have to duck every time someone walks by, because nobody comes over here." I stare down at my tray, debating whether I really want to know what's in the meat or not.

"Annabeth, someone's coming!" she hisses urgently, and I quickly try to hide my face in a discreet manner.

Seconds pass, and I suddenly hear Thalia's laughter, which causes me to glance up in confusion: no one was coming our way. "Meanie," I say, and I make a face at her.

"Cute," she laughs sarcastically, running a hand through her hair. "But in all honesty, I'm sure everyone's forgotten about it. The people here forget everything in a matter of minutes—you don't have to worry about your budding social life to be demolished because of that. Also, not everyone here is a Drew; it just takes a bit of courage to discover that."

I shake my head again, pulling a book out of my bag to read. "Whatever you say, Thals."

She nods sagaciously. "I'm always right. Here, I'll show you." Thalia pulls her phone out of her back pocket and quickly sends a message to someone, while I attempt to read.

Moments later, I hear my name, loud and clear, much like yesterday. "Hi, Annabeth!"

Thalia nudges my shoulder, and I glance up from my book. Across the cafeteria, I see Jason waving his arms playfully at me as he sits beside Percy. A few other people look our way, but other than that, they don't say anything else; there aren't any snide remarks or crude stares. When Thalia gives a small, dismissive wave in return, he sits back down and resumes eating. "See?"

"What were you trying to prove?" I inquire, squirming on the bench. I can still feel some eyes on me, and I voice my thoughts to Thalia.

"They aren't making fun of you for yesterday," she replies easily. "In fact, I'm pretty sure they're jealous of you."

This brings out an incredulous laugh from me. "Jealous? Why would they be jealous?"

She pauses, her face scrunching up into something that resembled disgust. "Let's face it; one of the—supposedly—hottest guys in our grade just said hi to you from across the room. Believe me when I say this: they're totally jealous."

My eyebrows furrow. "But isn't he dating Piper?"

"Even more of a reason to be envious. Although…" she trails off, shaking her head. "Nevermind."

"No, what were you going to say?"

Her eyes shift from me, to Jason's table across the cafeteria, and then me again. "Well… I didn't text Jason?"

What? "Then why did he—"

"… I had texted Percy instead…?"

"So then… why did Jason respond rather than him?" I question curiously.

Thalia gives me a sideways look and shrugs her shoulders. "I was hoping you'd be able to tell me."


During gym, Thalia had to finish her homework for APUSH, and so she left me and Luke to walk the track alone. I sit on the bleachers, waiting for Luke to come out, and think about what Thalia had said during lunch.

Had I done something wrong? Did Percy resent me because of something I did? He had never replied to my text message the other day…

Ever since yesterday when I had gone to the ice cream parlor with Luke, the tension between Percy and I has been… off. Especially this morning, he seemed much more closed off—not that I could read him like an open slate before—and it was unusually awkward to talk to him. I could practically feel the awkward vibrations emitted from him. I'm not exactly sure why or how it came to be like this. All I know is that it's an unsettling feeling, and I don't like it a single bit.

Luke, on the other hand, is slowly becoming… closer. He'll swing his arm over my shoulder, or nudge me lightly in my upper-arm, or grin at me like he knows some inside joke that I'm supposed to be able to recall as well. I feel more aware of every movement he does, and sometimes his proximity makes me blush.

"Gray Eyes!" I look up to see Luke making his way towards me, a grin on his face.

I smile at him, and we walk out of the gym and onto the track. As we make our way along the gray pavement, Luke casually slings an arm across my shoulders. His arm is slightly heavy, oddly comforting, but it provides too much heat; a bad addition to the already sweltering sun.

Subtly, I move out of the way, and his arm drops to his side. "It's really hot out here, don't you think?"

He gives me an easy smile and nods. "Sure is."

For the first time, I feel awkward around Luke; somehow, the once easy-going conversation has dropped to nil, and I feel slightly uncomfortable. "Thank you for taking me to the ice cream parlor yesterday," I say weakly, not knowing how else to move the conversation forward.

"Anytime." He pauses and stops walking. "Annabeth?"

I stop as well, tugging at the hem of my school gym shirt. "Yes?"

"Rachel said—I mean, do you—was she telling the truth—," Luke mumbles in an embarrassed manner, his face heating red. "What I'm trying to say is—well—will you, no, do you—I like—"

"'Ello, mates," Thalia drawls, pulling up next to us. "Finally finished that history homework. Missed me?"

Luke drops his gaze, but I continue to stare at him, urging him to finish what he was saying—what was he trying to say?

"Hey, Thals," I greet once I realize Luke isn't planning on continuing his words.

She looks between the two of us, raising her eyebrows at me. "What's up with both of you?"

He shakes his head, running a hand through his already messy, sandy-blonde hair. "I'm going to go play soccer today. See you, Annabeth, Thalia."

I weakly wave goodbye to his retreating back, and Thalia turns to me once he is gone. "Something's off between you two; he was being decent to me." I don't say anything, and she begins to voice her thoughts aloud. "Did he profess his love to you or something? Didn't I say he liked you before? Totally called it."

"What?" I splutter out, incredulous as to why she would even suggest that.

Thalia shakes her head at me. "Are you just being dumb, or are you really that oblivious to both Luke and Percy's raging crushes on you?"

Crushes… Luke… Percy? I shake my head adamantly. "No, no way."

Her eyes, a sharp blue, seem to soften, and she sighs. "I'm not sure how you view yourself, but believe me when I say you've come a long way from where you originally were. And I know you like Percy… so go for it. You deserve someone like him, at least."

Thalia's words counter the voice inside my head: "You don't deserve to have friends, and especially not a boyfriend!" I squeeze my eyes shut, take a deep breath, and suddenly, the voice is gone.

"But he doesn't even like me?" Those six words seem to be all I can say, all I can seem to think, and I shake my head stubbornly, completely dismissing the blossom of hope from my head. "And he's with Rachel," I add, knowing it will effectively end the discussion.

Thalia sighs, shrugging her shoulders. "If you really believe neither of them like you... I guess there's nothing I can do about that. You'll see for yourself when the time comes."


When the bell rings, signaling the beginning of Home Ec, Mr. D still has yet to make an appearance. In his absence, the entire class passes time by chatting and laughing with each other. The Stoll twin—Connor, I think—is up and about, making conversation with everyone and flirting with all the girls.

Meanwhile, I focus on the pencil sitting on my desk, hoping that my bangs are long enough to shroud my view of Percy to my left. I can tell his eyes are on me—you know, that feeling you get when someone is watching you?—but he makes no effort to strike up a conversation.

But, why? Was it something I did? Something I said?

I take a deep breath, exhaling through my nose. You can do it, you can ask him; three seconds of courage, Annabeth, that's all you need.





"Ay, girl." Connor slides up to my desk, sitting on top of it. He changes his voice to an unrealistic drawl and says, "Now, why haven't I see you around? Can I get'cho number?"

Thalia crosses her arms and scowls. "Buzz off, Stoll; Annabeth doesn't like you."

Without meaning to, I let out a small laugh and raise my eyebrows at Connor. The people around my desk turn their eyes towards me, and I say, "Hi, I'm Annabeth, nice to meet you."

He triumphantly grins at Thalia, who looks at me confusedly, and then he shakes my outstretched hand. "Connor Stoll, at your service, milady. Welcome to Goode—"

I interrupt him with a cough. "Actually, I've been at Goode since… ninth grade."

Connor pauses, an "uh oh" look crossing his face. "Right, right, I knew that. You're that girl who scored a 220 on the PSAT in freshman year! Umm… did you switch into this class, or something?"

I know he was joking about asking for my number, but it's a little bit saddening to realize that, honestly, he had no clue I had existed; maybe he had heard my name around, maybe he had known me as "that girl", but he didn't actually know who I was. I can't blame him for that. But… I can't help but tease him either.

"No," I reply, biting back a smile. "I've been in fifth period Home Ec all year."

He gives me an awkward grin, and I can tell he's scrambling for excuses. "Did you sit in the back? Maybe that's why I never noticed you?"

Thalia rolls her eyes, and I can see her body tremble with silent laughter.

"Uh, no?" I say again, although my words inflect upwards like a question. I shake my head, smiling sadly at him. "I've sat in this seat… in the very front row… every day… all year long."

He slowly slips off the desk top and sheepishly rubs the back of his neck with one hand as I intently stare at him. It's quite obvious that he doesn't know what to say; in fact, he's slightly squirming under my gaze. "Cat got your tongue?" I inquire.

From somewhere behind me, someone shouts, "Ooh, Connor's done for!" and that's when I realize I've captured the attention of the entire room. Apparently, Connor also realizes this, and he fidgets even more.

I had never seen one of the Stoll brothers look so uncomfortable, and the thought is so outrageous that my demeanor cracks and I laugh.

"Don't worry, I'm just messing with you, Connor," I say, tucking my bangs behind my ear. The class goes back to whatever they're doing, yet he continues to stand there, embarrassed.

"I'm really sorry about that, Annabeth," Connor apologizes, his tan face rueful. "I didn't mean to—"

"No worries, I don't really mind at all," I interject, smiling reassuringly at him.

He nods silently and runs a hand through his curly mop of brown hair. "You're pretty cool, Annabeth. I'll be sure to talk to you more." With those words, he turns and walks back to his seat.

Thalia applauds me and mock claps, laughing about how "I got him so bad" and what not—it's not like I meant to make him so uncomfortable, though? I can't help but sneak a glance to my left, averting my eyes when I see Percy is still staring at me. A blush quickly rises up my cheeks, and I turn so the back of my head faces him.


Percy's husky voice startles me, and I turn towards him again. His eyes are slightly guarded—there's a distant, somewhat confused look in them—and he's fumbling with his hands hesitantly. He still hasn't said anything after a minute, so I take a deep breath and shift in Thalia's direction again, when I hear it.

His voice is almost too low, his words nearly too rushed, for it to be properly heard, but somehow I manage to understand what he asked: "Are you and Luke dating?"


tumblr - universalborderlines