A head popped out from under the piles of papers at the desk. The woman looked middle-aged, maybe 40 or so. She had graying brown hair and kind green eyes. Her skin was pale, and she was quite tall.
"Ah, you must be Annabeth and Percy. My name is Seija. Lets get down to business, why don't we?"
Percy looked at Annabeth. Who was this woman? He thought they would be meeting some creepy person who was eating his last client for dinner that night. Not some tall woman who looked like she didn't know what a vacuum is.
"Come, sit down." Seija said, gesturing to the green couch the sat in the center of the room. Exchanging looks with each other, Annabeth and Percy made their way over to the couch. Annabeth took a seat on the end of the couch and Percy parked his wheelchair beside her.
Seija sat down in a brown leather chair in front of them. She grabbed a huge file from the stack beside her. The file was bulging with loose papers and notes filled with everything there was to know about Percy and Annabeth's ordeal. The thought that everything that had happened to them could be condensed and rationalized into one single file made gave Percy a slight feeling of unease. He had to fight down butterflies at the thought of everything she must know.
"So, how are you two feeling today?" Seija asked, placing the file in her lap before looking at the two.
"Nervous." Annabeth answered first.
"And you Percy? How are you feeling?" Seija turned to him.
Fighting down the instinct to lie and say everything was okay he replied, "Same as Annabeth."
"And why are you feeling that way?" She asked.
squashing the anger down Percy replied, "Well, you know I'm in a wheelchair now so…"
"And why does this make you uncomfortable?" Seija pressed on, forgetting about Annabeth now that she had line of thought to follow.
Percy couldn't take it anymore. "Why wouldn't I be uncomfortable? I'm in a freaking wheelchair! It's not a hard leap to make lady!"
Annabeth cut in. "It's just a new experience for him. It's new for me too."
Sighing, Seija turned to Annabeth. "And why is it different for you?"
"Well this is the first time in a long time that I haven't been in advanced classes." Annabeth took a breath. "No offense to Percy but it feels kind of degrading to be back there."
"How does Annabeth saying that make you feel Percy?"
Percy shrugged. "It doesn't bother me. She can talk circles around me. You should have seen her in the hospital, talking all about how the layout of the floor and the coloring of the walls affects recovery time and stuff like that." Then, before she could say anything he added, "It doesn't make me feel dumb or anything, that's stupid."
Seija nodded and sat there for a minute. Then she said, "How long have you two known each other? You seem very close."
They looked at each other, silently asking who should answer. After second deliberation, Annabeth answered. "We actually met when the lockdown happened. We both ended up in this empty classroom together. You know what happened after that."
"What made you two so close then? You come from completely different social circles yet now you are inseparable."
A look of annoyance only Percy was able to catch crossed Annabeth's face before she said, "With all due respect ma'am, being held hostage and tortured with someone you don't know makes for a pretty good bonding experience, wouldn't you think?" Percy had to fight back a smirk at Annabeth's outburst. She may not be easily angered, but when she does, it's a storm to behold.
Seija looked at both of them in turn before saying, "Sorry, I wasn't thinking. Why don't we get off of this heavy stuff, hmm? What do you like to do during your free time?"
Surprised but happy with the change in subject Percy said, "Well, I liked to swim before The Incident, but now…"
"You know that there are ways that you cans till get in the water. In fact, I know of an aquatic center not far from here. I can get you the address if you would like." Seija said with a smile on her face writing something down on a clean piece of paper before handing it to Percy.
"Thanks, I'll tell my mom." Percy said awkwardly, putting the slip of paper away in one of the pockets of his wheelchair.
"And what about you Annabeth? What do you like to do?"
"I like to do architecture, as Percy mentioned earlier. That, and I read a lot."
"Oh, what's your favorite book?" Seija seemed to like where this was going. 'She must like to read too' Percy decided.
"Oh, To Kill a Mockingbird. I must have read it at least 10 times."
"And what do you like about it?" Seija pressed on.
Annabeth sat and thought for a minute, To Percy's surprise, she did not seem frustrated by the question. Classic Annabeth. Percy thought. The only time she doesn't get mad at the nosy therapist is when they start talking about books.
"I guess what I love about it is the truth in it. There is no avoidance of sensitive parts of the novel. Harper Lee just tells it how it is. It's very refreshing. She doesn't try to keep anything from you, at least by the end of the book. I mean, she mention's Jem breaking his arm at the beginning of the novel but doesn't revel that-. Opps, I almost spoiled it. Sorry."
Annabeth had a sheepish look on her face before she said, "What about you? What's your favorite book?"
Seija chuckled. "Me? I would have to say Seitsemän veljestä. It translates to Seven Brothers in English. It is considered by most Finnish people to be the greatest piece of Finnish literature in history."
Annabeth jumped at the word Finnish. "Oh, is that where you are from? I couldn't quite place your accent. Where did you live?"
Seija laughed again. " I lived in-" Just then, the final bell rang. "I guess that will have to wait for tomorrow. See you two then."
Percy and Annabeth nodded and left.
"Well, that was not what I expected." Percy said as the pair sat waiting on the curb for Percy's mom to come and pick them up.
"Me neither. I expected either a really nice person who walked on eggshells around us, or someone who didn't really care. Instead, we got her." Annabeth replied.
"She so aggravating. I mean, 'why are you nervous about facing your friends since you were taken hostage and disabled?'" He did an impersonation of the woman to get his point across.
"Well, it is her job to poke around in our heads and figure out how we are feeling. I guess she had no other way to do it. It may seem weird, but in the end, it is meant to help us feel better. Give it some time, and you'll see." Annabeth said, reading how he was feeling. She stood up and gave him a hug.
"I know, I just don't like to think that she will be taking us apart." Percy said, avoiding Annabeth's eyes.
"I don't either." Changing the subject she said, "What about that aquatic center? It would be good for you to get in the water again. Whenever you talk about it, your eyes light up."
"Ya maybe. Hey, want to see if Mom will let us go get 'first day back at school' celebratory ice cream? We know this great place a few block's away." Percy asked getting unexpectedly excited at the prospect of getting ice cream with Annabeth.
Before he could think any further Annabeth replied, "No, we have to get started on the homework if we want to finish before the end of the year.
Percy groaned. "Don't remind me. I thought I had escaped the beast that is homework, but no, I will use mighty Riptide and slay it." Percy reached into his pocket before bringing out a cheap ballpoint pen Annabeth never saw him without.
"Riptide? Why did you name a disposable pen you got today Riptide?"
Percy gasped dramatically. "Riptide has been my loyal pen ever since second grade. I found it at the beach. It had Anaklusmos written on the side. When I got home, I looked up what it meant. I decided then I was going to keep it forever. It's good luck. And some how, I have never lost it.
A strange look went across Annabeth's face, before she out her hand over her mouth and bent over. She shook for a few seconds before giggles escaped her mouth.
"Hey!" Percy shouted indignantly. At that, Annabeth's giggles turned into a full-out laughing fit.
"You….are…...ridiculous!" She said, gasping for breath. Percy raised and eyebrow before saying in a quiet, dangerous tone, "No one laughs at Riptide and gets away with it." Then, he lunged his wheelchair towards Annabeth. Percy grabbed her and pulled her onto his lap, before finding her stomach and tickling her. She started laughing even more. Before Percy could reply they heard a voice.
"Do you lovebirds want me to drive around a block again?" The pair froze and looked up. There was Sally, leaning out the car window smiling at the two teenagers.
"Oh mom, it's fine, we were just joking around." Percy said, trying to keep a blush from forming on his face. With a nudge, Annabeth got off Percy's lap and helped him into the car.
Percy wheeled into the classroom. Where was Annabeth? Then he spotted Grover and Nico.
He wheeled over. Why did they seem so tall?
"Hey guys" Percy said as he reached them. The pair didn't spare a glance at him as they kept talking. "Grover, Nico? Guys? Hello! I'm right here" He tried everything to get their attention.
Finally Nico turned to him. Percy let out a sigh and a small laugh. "Funny dude, how was the game last night."
Before he could get any farther Nico said, "Are you talking to use, Crip?" The look on Nico's face was something Percy had never seen before.
"What are you talking about Nico? We're best friends." Percy said, getting confused.
" I asked you, Crip, why are you talking to us? Why we would be friends with a wheelchair freak?" Nico replied with a sneer.
"What are you talking about? Grover?" Percy asked, reaching for Grover.
Grover turned to him. "You crips just take up unnecessary recourses. You people are like cockroaches. At least most people are smart enough to treat them like one. Learn your place Crip." With that, both boys walked into the door that was suddenly in front of them. The door disappeared, and the room changed. It was now a plain gray door with no windows or doors. And standing in front of him, was Bruce.
Percy wheeled back, desperately looking for an exit. His breathing quickened when his wheelchair banged against the back wall. Bruce slowly made his way towards Percy. With every step, the man got bigger and bigger until he was towering over Percy.
"Look at you." The man said, bending down in front of Percy so that with every word, spittle flew into his face. "I should have killed you when I had the chance. I mean, look at you. Who wants to be friends with a cripple? No one, that's who. And the people who do are just taking pity on you. Just wait. Soon, they will forget all about you. You will be all alone. And then, I'll be there. And I will slowly, painfully extract the life from you. The worst part is, once your gone, no one will miss you."
With an evil laugh, Bruce grabbed Percy's neck and lifted him from the chair. As the life slowly bled from his body, he thought he saw Annabeth. He tried to reach for her. He tried, but slowly, his world became darker and darker, until he fell on the floor, and blackness enveloped him.
Percy shot up in bed gasping. He reached for his throat. He felt around it, but there were no bruises. He sat there, trying to catch his breath. He looked down at his body only to see he was drenched in sweat. He grabbed the towel he kept handy and started to dry himself off. As he did so, he glanced over at the clock. 3:26 it read. Percy knew that after a nightmare like that, he would never get to bed.
He glanced at his phone and contemplated calling Annabeth. But last time he called, she was in the middle of the first full night of sleep she had in who knows how long. He should let her sleep. He can deal with his nightmares. He doesn't need any help.
He was getting nervous though. Unlike Annabeth, Percy's nightmares had not lessened at all. He only called her half the time now. He was getting only 4-5 hours of sleep a night now, and though it wasn't good for him, he couldn't bother his parents. They had enough on their hands with paying for the hospital. They didn't have to be buying sleeping pills and whatnot for him. Plus, if they knew, they would make him see Seija more often and by himself.
With a groan, Percy transferred himself into his wheelchair. He wheeled over to his desk, grabbed a pencil and Riptide, and started on the homework he had purposely left unfinished for this purpose. With determination not seen by anybody, Percy let himself dive into the world of Algebra III, and slowly, the terror that gripped him slipped away into the night like a diver into the deep, blue sea.
Hello my loyal people who never gave up on me,
SO SORRY I WAS GONE SO LONG! All of the sudden, the hell that I sort of love grabbed me by the collar and pulled me headfirst into homework and studying. That, combined with swim, which is over now, sucked away all of my free time.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR STAYING WITH ME. I am happy that I got only one review in my absence that asked if I had abandoned my story. And now I will say to you, I WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU. It may take me a few months to update, but I will always update. Until, you know, the story ends.
I now have recommendations for you all.
TO Kill a Mockingbird
Love you all so much, Cookies to you all for your patience,