A Fish Out of Water- Chapter 3

-Percy-

“I was with the Principal,” Percy said. He was very aware that everyone in the

room was looking at him, but he never broke eye contact with the short woman

standing at the front of the class. He made an educated guess that she was Mrs.

Dodds. “I’m the new kid, Percy Jackson.”

“Well Mr. Jackson, from now on you will be on time to every single on of my

lessons, is that clear?” She barked.  Percy stared at her, not sure how to respond.

But before he could, Mrs. Dodds carried on.

“Not one minute late, not five minutes late, and certainly not,” she paused to look

at her watch, “twelve minutes late, as you are right now! Now I will ask again, is

that clear, Mr. Jackson?” She said his name with such disdain any onlooker

would’ve guessed that she had hated this boy for years, even though she had only

just met him.

“Yes.” Percy replied, flatly. However, it seemed that his simple response was not

enough for Mrs. Dodds as she moved closer to him.

“Yes… what?” She asked quietly, but with menace in her voice. Much more

menace than was normal for a high school teacher to have when talking to a

student.

Percy knew what she wanted him to say, but he had never been the type of

person to give in to bullies, and right now, Mrs. Dodds was singling him out for

the simple fact that she could. Just as he was about to retort with a witty remark

that would no doubt end him up in detention, he remembered back to his

conversation with Mr. D, about how he would not have any behavior issues. He

guessed that starting an argument with a teacher in his first lesson would fall

under that category.

“Yes, Mrs. Dodds…” He instead chose to say, saying it just as quietly as she had.

God, what would his friends think of him? Choosing to avoid a confrontation

instead of standing up for himself. And what about his father? Would he be

proud to see Percy like this? After all, he had sent Percy here. But despite that,

Percy felt Poseidon was much more likely to share the opinion of his friends.

‘Always stand up for yourself.’ Wasn’t that something he told Percy once?

“Sit down Mr. Jackson.” Mrs. Dodds shrill voice interrupted his thoughts. “Page

four, questions one to eight.”

Percy suddenly realized that he had been standing; staring into space for a few

seconds, and was very aware that everyone in the class was looking at him.  He

quickly looked around for an empty seat and found one at the back of the class.

Perfect. He was happy to sit as far away from that psycho Maths teacher as

possible.

As he sat down and pulled out his textbook, he examined the classroom a bit

more closely. Mrs. Dodds seemed to have a ‘Most Boring Classroom in the World’

contender. The bare walls were a dark shade of grey, with only the farthest one

having a whiteboard on it. It didn’t help that the windows barely let in any light.

Percy turned his gaze from the boring classroom to the boring maths questions.

Page four, question one. He looked at it; apparently, they were polynomials,

whatever the hell those were. This lesson was going to be a long one.

Percy struggled through the questions, and in 30 minutes, managed to reach

question four. Then, with ten minutes to go, Mrs. Dodds stood up, took out a

whiteboard pen, and proceeded to write down an equation on the board. Then,

she slowly turned to the class, her eyes slightly narrowed. Percy was beginning

to wonder what type of teachers Mr. D hired here at Goode.

“Right class, eyes forward. Now, if X cubed add X squared subtract five X add

three equals zero, what is X? [x3+x2−5x+3=0]. Percy heard everyone quickly

scribbling down his or her working out. He however, had no idea what Mrs.

Dodds had even said. Maths just went in one ear and out the other.

“Right, who has the answer?” Mrs. Dodds asked the class. A few hands went up.

“Let’s see…” Percy saw her lock her predator like gaze onto his. Shit.

“Mr. Jackson, do you have the answer?” She feigned politeness.

“No, Mrs. Dodds, I don’t” He said loudly. He wanted her to know that he knew her

game.

“And why is that?” He could see that she was enjoying this, but Percy wouldn’t

just give her the satisfaction.

“Because I couldn’t work it out. You see, I’ve never been taught how to. Honestly,

I blame the teacher.” At that last part, her smile faltered, and her eyes hardened.

Percy could feel the tension rising in the room. Most other students were looking

down, scared to make eye contact. Percy on the other hand, kept his cool

composure.

“You’re blaming me?” Mrs. Dodds questioned, as if to double check what she had

heard. Now it was Percy’s turn to have fun.

“Oh, oh no,” he responded, acting innocent, “no, you thought I was blaming you?

No, I was placing blame on the teachers from my old school. You see Mrs. Dodds,

I was a pupil at Yancy High School, not the greatest school, as you probably

know, and one of the reasons for that was because, well, they didn’t have very

good maths teachers, not like you. You may be the best teacher I’ve ever had the

pleasure of wasting time in the lesson of. You know, my father always said that

you can tell a lot about a school by the quality of it’s maths teachers, and if you’re

anything to go by, I think I’ll love Goode.” Percy finished, his little speech

dripping in sarcasm.

Now Percy didn’t think the tension could increase, but he was wrong. This wasn’t

tension you could cut with a simple knife, you’d need a machete, or a chainsaw,

or a samurai sword, like Butch from Pulp Fiction. He had expected Mrs. Dodds to

explode, to go into a fury, to transform into one of the Devil’s minions and eat

him, but instead, she just stared at him, the gleeful expression gone from her

face, her eyes never leaving his.

“Does anyone else have the correct answer to the question?” Her voice sounded

much quieter than it had previously been. Two rows in front of Percy, a girl with

blonde curly hair raised her hand. Percy looked at her for a minute; she seemed

to be the only student who wasn’t afraid right now, with her head held up high.

She oozed confidence, Percy somewhat admired that.

“Yes, Annabeth?” Mrs. Dodds pointed to her

“X can equal one, or negative three.” She answered.

“Correct, well done Annabeth.”

The class sat in silence for a minute, before the bell sounded. However, much to

Percy’s surprise, the class didn’t move, they looked as if they were waiting for

something. Mrs. Dodds saw this too, so answered Percy’s unasked question.

“No homework today.” She said, before throwing one last menacing look at

Percy. With that, everyone stood up; looking slightly surprised by the whole ‘no

homework thing’. As everyone began filing into the corridor on the way to his or

her next lesson, Percy lagged behind. Mrs. Dodds was still looking at him, her

eyes burrowing into his. He broke eye contact, feeling uncomfortable, and as he

moved his eyes from Mrs. Dodds dark eyes, he met another pair of eyes, a pair of

piercing grey eyes, eyes that gave the impression of an impending storm. Percy

then realized to whom they belonged, the blonde girl, the one who answered the

question, but more importantly, the one who hadn’t been nervous or afraid of

Mrs. Dodds, What was her name again? Annabelle? No, Annabeth. That was it. As

Percy looked at her, he realized that she was beautiful. Stunning. Striking.

Neither broke the eye contact, and then, Percy watched as Annabeth’s lips moved

slightly, and then she smiled. But this wasn’t an ordinary smile, this was a

devilish smile. This was a mischievous smile. This was the type of smile Percy

had seen on gang members that were about to ‘teach some asshole a lesson’, this

was a smile that told Percy enough about Annabeth to know that she was not

necessarily good news. The smile, combined with the look in her eyes, seemed to

say

“We’re gonna have some fun together Percy Jackson, you and me.”

Percy acknowledged all of this, and then let a smile of his own creep across his

face, a perfect copy of hers. In that one second, Percy could’ve sworn he saw

lightning flash across her stormy eyes.

Then, like that, she walked out of the door, after her friends. The whole thing had

lasted maybe ten seconds. Percy realized, not for the first time this morning, he

was left standing like an idiot, staring into nothing. He quickly left, not sparing

Mrs. Dodds a second glance, and made his way to History.

The rest of Percy’s lessons went by smoothly, he managed to avoid annoying any

more of Goode’s teachers. He noticed that this Annabeth girl was also in his

History class, and judging by the amount of questions she answered correctly,

Percy guessed that she was pretty damn clever. However, she didn’t give him a

second glance. He wasn’t sure if he expected one or not, but that look earlier

definitely meant something. He was sure of it.

His History teacher was Mr. Brunner, an old guy in a wheelchair. At first, Percy

wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but he seemed nice enough. Percy had come to

the conclusion that any teacher would be better than Mrs. Dodds. When Mr.

Brunner introduced himself, Percy got the impression that he was the complete

opposite of the teacher spectrum from Mrs. Dodds.

“Percy was it? Not any relation to Perseus are you?” he asked, with a laugh. It

was clearly a joke, but not one Percy got.

“Who? Who’s Perseus?” Percy replied, baffled.

“Perseus? The Greek Hero? Son of Zeus?” He quickly realized Percy did not

understand the reference. He sighed. “Take a seat Percy.”

Finally, the bell rang for lunch. Percy couldn’t help noticing people gathering

with their group of friends, chatting, having a good time. Percy was, once again,

left standing like an idiot. It was becoming an annoying frequency today. He

silently blamed his father. He’d had friends at Yancy, he’d been comfortable at

Yancy, and he hadn’t felt out of place at Yancy. As he made his way to his locker,

deciding that there was nothing better to do, he looked at the people he now

shared a school with.

Percy could tell, just by looking at them, that these kids had it easy. These trust

fund kids who only wore designer clothes, who turned up at school in Porsches

and Mercedes. They didn’t understand what the real world was like, what real

suffering was. Percy highly doubted that any of them had ever seen what he’d

seen, experienced what he’d experienced. Had any of them watched their own

mother go hungry just so her son could eat? No. Percy instantly decided he hated

all of them, every single person in this school.

But then, some part of him made him think otherwise. He didn’t actually know

any of these people. Who was he to judge them? Was he better than them? No, he

had just been ready to label them as one thing based on their class and wealth,

something people had done to him his entire life. They couldn’t help what social

class they were born into any more than he could. But that also didn’t mean they

had the right to be assholes about it. It was all too much for Percy to take; he

needed a minute to think it through, to collect his thoughts. He reached his locker

and looked around. By now, the hallway was practically empty; Percy guessed

everyone was outside or in the canteen. He was grateful for the quiet. Then, out

of the corner of his eye, he spotted someone walking down the hallway, a tall

African American kid. He suddenly looked at Percy. He looked familiar, very

familiar, but…

“Percy?” the kid uttered in disbelief. Then it hit Percy, he recognized him.

Charles Beckendorf.

“Charles Beckendorf?” A smile spread across Percy’s face, as Beckendorf

suddenly took huge strides towards him.

“Holy shit, Percy Jackson! What the hell are you doing here?” Beckendorf’s loud

voice boomed as he and Percy embraced in a man hug. This was a strong,

friendly hug. After a few seconds they parted and looked each other up and

down.

“Damn man,” Beckendorf said, “how long’s it been?”

“Nearly ten years.” Percy replied. Beckendorf had changed a lot over the years.

He had definitely hit a growth spurt, as he was now incredibly tall. Percy

would’ve guessed he was around 6”5’. He was also incredibly well built,

especially for a high school kid. If Percy didn’t know him, he’d have guessed he

was a pro footballer or basketballer. His dark hair was cut short, and he was

dressed in quite expensive clothes. This was a very different kid from the Charles

Beckendorf Percy remembered.

You see, Beckendorf had lived on the same estate as Percy, gone to the same

Elementary school as Percy. He had hung out with Percy, Nico, Grover and Tyson.

He had been one of Percy’s best friends. There was a time when they were

inseparable. But it hadn’t lasted. One day, Beckendorf’s mother left the estate and

took Beckendorf with her. Percy had never been told why. One minute his best

friend lived three doors down from him, the next he didn’t. He didn’t even get to

say goodbye. It was a few years later Percy found out the truth. Beckendorf’s

father, Mark, had worked for Percy’s father, and, from what Percy understood, a

job he had been doing for Poseidon went wrong, and the police caught him.

Instead of ratting out Percy’s father, he kept his mouth shut and received a 10-

year prison sentence for 1st Degree Robbery. Turns out, that was Beckendorf’s

mother’s final straw. She moved out of the estate, divorced Mark and completely

left her life behind. The last thing anyone heard was that she had remarried

some millionaire businessman.

“So, yeah man, what are you doing here?” Beckendorf asked again.

“I’m the new student.” Percy said, waving his arms around slightly, gesturing

around him. “I love it here.” He stated, the sarcasm not lost on Beckendorf as he

laughed.

“It’ll grow on you, trust me.” He assured Percy. “So why’d you come to Goode?”

“My father suddenly decided to take an interest in my education, and decided I

wouldn’t fulfill my full potential at Yancy, or some B-S like that.” Percy explained.

Beckendorf nodded understandingly.

“Yeah, I mean no offence, but your father never seemed like the type who ‘took

an interest’.” Percy just laughed under his breath.

“You’re damn right there.”

“But hey man, fathers are real assholes.” Beckendorf added. “Especially where

we come from.” Percy thought about it, and the more he did, the more he agreed.

On the estate, most of the kids were raised by their mothers, because their

fathers were either absent or in jail. There were kids like Grover who never had a

father. Grover had been raised by his Grandmother and Uncle, but even his Uncle

was in jail for something. Percy realized he was one of the lucky ones, at least he

saw his father, no matter how distant he was. But on the other hand, that meant

Percy’s father had no excuse for not connecting with his son.

“Speaking of fathers, yours is out soon, you gonna see him?” Percy asked

Beckendorf. He saw him look away, before looking back.

“I don’t know Perce, I mean, he is my dad, but I haven’t been a part of that life for

years. I’ve got a step-dad now, Leigh, he’s alright I guess. I mean, he makes my

mom happy, and he gave me a roof so I can’t really complain.” Percy nodded.

Then it fully hit him; he was seeing one of his best friends for the first time in

nearly 10 years. But it wasn’t the Beckendorf he remembered, he was different,

he was one of the rich kids now.

“So hey man, what have you been up to the last ten years?” Percy asked, laughing

slightly at the ridiculousness of the time frame. Beckendorf laughed too.

“Oh, y’know, a bit of this, a bit of that.” He said, grinning. “I got really into my

sports, football, basketball, baseball, even soccer.” That didn’t surprise Percy at

all. “What about you?”

“Sports? Not my thing.” Percy replied.

“No, I meant in general.”

“Oh, well, you remember how the older kids always acted right?” Percy asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well there’s your answer.” Beckendorf nodded understandingly. There were

few opportunities for a better future in Percy’s area outside of crime, and that

wasn’t a particularly good option anyway

“Anyway, I was on my way to the canteen, you coming?” Beckendorf saw that

they were nearly 15 minutes into lunch already.

“I don’t know man, I don’t really know anyone-” Beckendorf cut him off.

“You know me though, you can sit with me and my friends, they’re cool.”

“I really don’t want to intrude on anything.” The idea of eating lunch with a load

of rich spoiled kids didn’t entice Percy, even if Beckendorf would be there. But he

could also see that Beckendorf was not prepared to take no for an answer.

“Percy. You’re coming with me.” He said, matter-of-factly. “C’mon, try and make

some friends, you need to.” He said, pulling Percy’s arm.

Percy stopped him, stood his ground.

“I have friends already.” He said, his voice flat. He stared at Beckendorf, who

returned the stare. He had friends already, friends who he liked, friends who

understood him. He didn’t need anyone to tell him he should make more. Why

would he want to make friends at this school anyway? Surely all the kids looked

down on him, they’d just mock him. Not for the first time today, he realized he

really didn’t belong in this school. He felt like a fish out of water. Percy knew

Beckendorf hadn’t meant anything by it, but part of Percy was still doubtful. This

kid made no attempt to talk to him in 10 years, why should they hang out now

like they were still best friends?

“I know…” He said, breaking the awkward silence that had engulfed them. “I’m

sorry. Look, I know we can’t just immediately go back to being best friends again,

but we can try right?” He sounded sincere.

“Yeah, I guess.” Percy said, gruffly.

“Ok, well then will you please come and have lunch with me and my friends? I’m

asking you.” Percy pondered it for a minute, before nodding.

“Alright, good,” a small smile crept onto Beckendorf’s face, “ok, follow me.

Canteen’s this way.”

They walked to the canteen in silence. As they got closer, the noise grew louder.

The canteen itself was packed. Kids queuing for bad school food while holding

plastic trays, some were sitting at tables chatting with each other. There was a

certain atmosphere that was always present in a school canteen. Different social

groups and circles sat with each other, usually at the same table every day. It was

the center of everything in school. The place where all students went, where

stories and gossip were exchanged, where people really could feel like part of a

student body. Percy hated it. It merely reminded him of how he didn’t fit in here.

Beckendorf parted the crowds, and looked over to a table in the far corner,

where a group of athletic looking boys were sitting, along with some attractive

looking girls.

“Hey guys!” Beckendorf called over. Percy tentatively followed. He felt very

uncomfortable.

“Where the hell have you been?” A blonde boy asked, raising an eyebrow.

“This is the new kid, Percy.” He said, pointing at me. “He’s actually an old friend

of mine. D’you mind if he sits with us?”

Percy didn’t hear any complaints, so he took that as a yes. Before he sat down, he

quickly looked over the group. He saw the blonde boy, twins, a punk style girl, a

red head, then suddenly he saw a blonde girl. He recognized her before she

turned to face him. He made contact with those stormy grey eyes, and saw the

small smile once again playing on her lips. The second time he had seen that look

today.

Annabeth.



Read the next chapter here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s