A Fish Out of Water – Chapter 4

-Annabeth-

Maths had been one of the most interesting lessons Annabeth had ever been in.

Usually, Mrs. Dodds conducted her lessons in complete and utter silence. She’d

occasionally single out a student, but they never, ever talked back to her. That

was, until today.

Percy Jackson.

Annabeth couldn’t put her finger on it; there was just something about him. She’d

heard it in the way he’d talked to Mrs. Dodds. He hadn’t taken any shit from her.

Annabeth had been as shocked as Mrs. Dodds herself with Percy’s reply. Every

student took shit from Mrs. Dodds. She had managed to make every student in

Goode angry or scared or intimidated at one point or another. Well, every

student except Annabeth, and that was mainly due to the fact that she never gave

Mrs. Dodds the chance. She always had the right answer, just in case a difficult

question was thrown her way. It was simply strategy. Mrs. Dodds picked on

students who answered questions incorrectly, so if Annabeth never got a

question wrong, Mrs. Dodds never had a reason to bully her. That was, after all,

why she chose Percy. He didn’t have the answer. Of course, no one expected him

to take what Mrs. Dodds threw at him and spit it back in her face.

And it had been amazing.

Annabeth had loved every minute, every second, every detail. She couldn’t help

it. Underneath her good girl façade, she worshipped chaos, disorder. In her

honest opinion, there was no better way to start her school year. This Percy

Jackson had given her the biggest surprise, Annabeth almost wanted to thank

him. It was like an early Christmas present.

While everyone in the class had looked down, not wanting to make eye contact,

Annabeth chose to hold her head up. The look on Mrs. Dodds face had been

priceless. She wanted to freeze-frame that second, take a photo and have it

framed on her wall. The utter disbelief, the shock of the whole situation.

Annabeth silently wondered when the last time Mrs. Dodds had a student talk

back to her was. She was so used to everyone doing what she said, she was so

used to having order, and Percy Jackson had taken order away from her for a

moment. For a split second, Mrs. Dodds world was flipped upside-down. It was

perfection, and it was all thanks to the boy with the sea green eyes.

And of course, she had shared that look with him afterwards. That long, lingering

look. She saw something in those sea green eyes, eyes that looked like they had

seen far too much for a boy of 17. The smile that played across her face was a

friendly one. As if to say, ‘Hey Percy, I’m gonna go break some rules, wanna join

me?’ The smile he responded with was affirmation. Well, Annabeth chose to see

it that way. They had connected, on some small level, they had made a

connection, she was sure of that. A complete conversation, unspoken.

Honestly, he intrigued her no end. Who was this boy? There was an element of

mystery about him. He didn’t seem like any of the boys at this school. No, they

were all boring, dreary, repetitive. All they cared about was the school sports

team, or the school music events, or what happened in the game yesterday. They

all came to school and performed the same routine, everyday, month after

month, year after year. They’d go to lessons, eat lunch, talk about pointless things

that meant nothing to them but allowed them to participate in small talk,

because God knows, small talk was better than facing problems, problems half of

them didn’t even know they had. Then, they’d go home, only to repeat it all again

the next day. Not that Annabeth thought that the girls were any better. They had

the same routine, just with different small talk topics. Her friends were no

exception. She loved them all, but she knew that they were part of this repetitive

routine.  She also knew that she was a part of it too; the difference was that she

acknowledged that there was something to begin with. However, that didn’t

mean she wasn’t in danger of falling into it. Annabeth felt like everyone in this

school was slowly dying and they didn’t even realize it. Well, technically,

everyone’s dying, but now wasn’t the time to get philosophical. Annabeth had

become bored with life. Some psychiatrists would probably call it ‘Rich Girl

Syndrome’, or something along those lines, but Annabeth knew it was more than

that. It wasn’t as if Annabeth wasn’t grateful that she was part of a wealthy

family, and she was by no means bored of money. She simply realized no amount

of money could give her what she now knew she needed, an escape from this

monotonous routine she called daily life. But maybe Percy Jackson could.

She had to get to know him, had to find an excuse, any excuse to talk to him. She

would come up with a plan, she always did. Strategy.

She had ignored him completely throughout their History class. It wasn’t that she

didn’t feel the urge to look at him, she definitely did, but she didn’t want to have

him ruin her concentration. She could practically hear her mother’s voice

echoing in her brain.

“Work hard. You call this working hard? You can always work harder. You aren’t

fulfilling your potential Annabeth.”

Annabeth half expected working harder to silence the nagging echo, but it only

seemed to ring louder through her ears. She wished her mother saw her like this,

the confident Annabeth who would not give up until the task was completed

instead of the insecure Annabeth at home, craving her mother’s approval and

love. She carried on working hard through her next two lessons, which were

Percy Jackson free. She was thankful for that, she didn’t need any distractions.

One look in his sea green eyes sent her brain into overdrive. Annabeth prided

herself on being able to read people damn well. In fairness most people at Goode

were fairly easy to read, but Percy Jackson was not. He was, to quote Churchill, ‘A

Riddle, wrapped in a Mystery, inside an Enigma’. That look they had shared was

worth a thousand words and no words at all, both at the same time. Looking into

his eyes, she felt like she could tell what he was thinking, what he was feeling.

She felt like she could find out everything there was to know about him, but at

the same time, it felt like she was only seeing what he was letting her see. That he

too wore a façade, and it was one that was better than hers, because it felt like

his eyes gazed beyond hers, into who she was. The Good Girl mask she wore in

front of teachers did not fool him, but the mask she wore around her peers did

not fool him either. The mask that let everyone know she was better than them;

that she was in charge. And honestly, Percy Jackson being able to see through

both her masks terrified her, excited her, and intrigued her all at once. Then

again, she pondered, maybe it was all in her head. Maybe, this Percy Jackson was

an idiot, and his little altercation with Mrs. Dodds was proof of that. Maybe

Annabeth had imagined everything else. She hoped that was true, but at the

same time, she really hoped it wasn’t.

The Lunch bell couldn’t ring soon enough. Annabeth walked from her English

class to the canteen with Luke, Thalia and Silena. She had Luke’s arm around her

as the other two chatted away. She could feel Luke’s hand as he gripped her hip

ever so slightly.

Annabeth loved the attention she got from Luke. He was one of the most popular

boys in the year, Quarterback for the school football team and good looking to

boot. It was another point of pride for Annabeth that he chose her to be his

girlfriend; he could probably get most girls in their year. But, then again, why

wouldn’t he choose Annabeth? She was undeniably attractive, and had the

popularity level that shallow people like Luke looked for in girls. Don’t be

mistaken, Annabeth didn’t think Luke was a horrible person or anything; she just

knew he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He made up for his lack of wits

in other areas though, and Annabeth was happy to indulge him in those areas

too.

Besides, she would be a hypocrite if she called out Luke on his reasons for being

with her, because she was not with him because she had strong feelings for him.

On the contrary. She had used Luke to cement her place as the Queen Bee at

Goode. She used her relationship with him to show others that she could get the

school Quarterback to follow her around like a puppy dog. There were very little

emotions in her relationship with Luke; that was why they worked. Although she

wasn’t quite sure Luke understood that all too well.

But as he pulled her slightly closer to his side, Annabeth was pulled out of her

thoughts by the ever-inquisitive Thalia Grace.

“So Annie, what’s this I hear about the new kid and Mrs. Dodds? You two were in

that class, right?” gesturing to Silena too. Annabeth knew that the news would

spread fast; after all, it was once every blue moon that Mrs. Dodds had a student

argue back. Percy Jackson was already a Goode High School celebrity and he

hadn’t even been here a day.

“Yeah, it was pretty unbelievable. I mean, she just froze. She looked like someone

had just slapped her across the face with a wet fish.” She told the group before

adding added “Twice.” Just for emphasis. She described exactly what happened

in that classroom this morning, with occasional input from Silena. Annabeth

always had a talent for telling stories.

“Man, I wish I could’ve seen it.” Luke said absentmindedly. “She made 10th Grade

hell for me, just because I didn’t get stupid Pythagoras Theorem.”

“Luke, babe, Pythagoras Theorem is like, 7th Grade…” Annabeth pointed out,

laughing slightly. Luke playfully shoved her.

“Shut up ok, I don’t get Maths. My talents lie elsewhere.” He nudged her as he

said that last part suggestively.

“They certainly do.” Annabeth had to agree with him as she leaned in for a kiss.

“Guys come on, PSA to a minimum please.” Annabeth pulled away from Luke to

give Thalia a cheeky smile.

They reached the canteen and sat down at the table they had always sat at, for

the past three years, and within a minute, Rachel, Piper and Katie had joined

them as well as Luke’s friends, the Stoll twins Connor and Travis, Michael Yew

and Jason Grace, Thalia’s younger brother. While it was very unusual for

someone to have a younger sibling in the same Grade as them, Thalia and Jason

were born nearly a year apart, Thalia early October and Jason late August. As

Annabeth looked around from her usual seat next to Luke, she realized one

member of their group was missing. Apparently the others had too.

“Hey, where’s Beckendorf?” Michael Yew asked. Everyone seemed to look at

Silena, as if she should know. Yes he was her boyfriend, but that didn’t mean she

automatically knew where he was.

“Hey, don’t look at me, I have no idea.” She responded to all the looks.

“Well what lesson did he just have?” Luke asked her.

“I don’t know do I, am I supposed to keep tabs on him 24/7?” Silena sounded

slightly annoyed now. Annabeth was quick to stop this becoming anything.

“Luke, she doesn’t know. Ok? He’ll be here, he’s probably just talking to a teacher

or the basketball coach or something.” Everyone nodded in agreement. When

Annabeth wanted them to stop arguing, they did. It was quiet remarkable, as if

she had waved a magic wand. Annabeth loved her friends, but they weren’t too

difficult to control if she needed to.

“Speaking of sports,” Connor Stoll spoke up, causing Annabeth to sigh mentally,

these boys really didn’t talk about much else, “I talked to Coach Hedge, and turns

out Jake Mason is out of the team till at least next calendar year.”

“What?!” Luke demanded. Annabeth knew how much Luke’s precious football

team meant to him.

“Yeah, turns out that he had a skiing accident on holiday and broke his leg pretty

bad. I heard it’s broken in about three different places.”

“Shit. Stupid asshole.” Luke uttered, sparing no thought for Jake Mason and the

well being of his apparently mangled leg.

“But it gets worse.” Travis Stoll added. Luke’s eyes looked dangerous, like he was

about to hit someone. Annabeth had seen this side to him before; Luke was

always one to show off his masculinity and strength any chance he could. He

wasn’t against pinning someone against the wall, or throwing mindless threats at

them. Honestly though, it got boring. Luke was all talk and no walk. Annabeth

was sure that if he were ever in a real fight, he would be more focused on trying

to talk his way out of it.

“How does it get worse?” Luke asked, his voice low.

“Well, Lee Fletcher’s also not on the team anymore. His parents aren’t letting him

play until he gets his grades up, but honestly, the way he told us, I don’t think

he’s gonna be back on the team at all this year.” Travis said it all, also sounding

frustrated. Annabeth could sympathize with Lee on this; his parents probably

expected more of him too. She was also wondering why this was a serious

problem for Luke. Didn’t they have back ups in each position?

“So you’re telling me,” Luke said, as if trying to work out the situation, “that we’re

about to go into the new season, without any Cornerbacks?”

Oh, that made a bit more sense. Annabeth appreciated the unfortunate

circumstance of both the people who played a position having to leave. She knew

Luke would be angry about it, and that that would put a downer on the mood, so

she decided to change the subject, back to the incident in Maths this morning. It

seemed an appropriate topic.

“You all heard about the new kid and Mrs. Dodds right?” she asked, talking to the

people who hadn’t been in the class.

“Yeah, that sounded crazy.” Piper exclaimed. “What was he thinking?”

“He was probably thinking he was the new kid and he had to make an impression

on his first day.” Jason stated. The others nodded, agreeing, but Annabeth wasn’t

so sure. The whole thing can’t have just been to make an impression, surely. It

seemed like he really didn’t care what anyone else thought.

“Yeah, didn’t he say he was from Yancy?” Rachel pointed out. “They probably do

stuff like that all the time at that school.”

“Jesus, why is the school letting a Yancy kid in here?” Luke butted in. Everyone

knew about Yancy High School, one of the worst schools, not just in New York

City, but in the state. No one replied, because no one knew. Goode High was very

particular about who they let in, and it was never kids below a certain standard

of living, as unfair as that may be. That was what made Percy Jackson all the

more interesting to Annabeth. She was still trying to formulate a plan in her

head, one that would allow her to talk to him, find out about him, allow her to see

if he was the person who could help her. Of course, she was Annabeth Chase, she

could just walk up and talk to him, but he would probably see right through her,

or may not want to talk to her. This was going to be tricky.

Just then, they all heard Beckendorf’s booming voice.

“Hey guys!” They all turned to see Beckendorf walking towards them, behind

him, a boy with raven black hair and sea green eyes following him. So much for

needing a plan.

“Where the hell have you been?” Luke asked, raising an eyebrow.

“This is the new kid, Percy.” He said, gesturing to the boy behind him. Of course,

Annabeth already knew who he was. “He’s actually an old friend of mine. D’you

mind if he sits with us?” Annabeth silently thanked Beckendorf; he had just made

her plan a whole lot easier. He had unknowingly delivered him to her.

Percy Jackson.

She hid her glee as Percy sat down, on the seat at the very end of the table.

Beckendorf had told him everyone’s names and now they were all looking at him,

as if expecting him to burst into flames, or do cartwheels through a hoop, like he

was a circus animal. They chose to ignore the last point Luke had made. An

awkward silence enveloped the group. Percy was moving his eyes around the

table; he looked very uncomfortable, as if he wanted to leave. Right now, he

looked a million miles from the confident boy who had told Mrs. Dodds where to

stick it earlier. Beckendorf broke the awkward silence, from his seat next to

Silena.

“So how were all your holidays guys?” People muttered replies of ‘Good’, ‘Fine’,

‘Interesting’, before all turning their attention back to Percy. Then he looked at

everyone around the table, his eyes meeting with Annabeth’s for a second before

he looked away, and sighed.

“I am here you know.” He said, frustration clear in his voice. At that, everyone

awkwardly averted their glances to their feet, or the ceiling, or something other

than the boy at the end of the table. Then he started whispering with Beckendorf

under his breath, not loud enough for Annabeth to hear, although it looked like

Beckendorf was trying to persuade him to stay. Annabeth was not about to let

him just leave. No, she had to take matters into her own hands.

“So Percy,” she said loudly, breaking up his and Beckendorf’s whispering,

“Beckendorf said you were old friends?” He turned his eyes towards her. She

smiled innocently.

“Yeah.” He sighed. Annabeth raised her eyebrows, indicating she wanted him to

elaborate. The message seemed to be received, as he continued.

“He and I used to live in the same area of town, we hung out most days. Then, one

day his mom just left, and took him with her. I never knew where he was, turns

out it was here.” The group looked around at each other. No one knew much

about Charles Beckendorf, so this was a surprise. Beckendorf himself looked

down, as if embarrassed.

“And you’re from Yancy right? What’s it like there?” Annabeth was determined to

keep him here, but that required the others help too.

“Shit.” Percy replied, laughing. “Really shit, why? You thinking of going there?” He

was being sarcastic, that was a good sign.

She was ready to come up with a witty reply, but Luke apparently beat her to the

punch.

“Is picking fights with teachers common there?” He asked, grinning. Percy leaned

back, smiling. He had to have known that this would come up at some point; it

was, after all, the talk of the town.

“Yeah, yeah, they don’t get pissed off easily at Yancy though, so you really have to

work hard at it.” He seemed to be having fun. “Your teachers here, one word and

they start sulking.” At that everyone laughed.

“Well man, I have to say, taking on Mrs. Dodds? That’s brave.” Connor Stoll spoke

up.

“You have no idea how long all of us have waited for that woman to get a taste of

her own medicine.” Jason added.

“Not just us. Everyone in the school.” Katie pointed out. She wasn’t wrong either.

Percy seemed to take all this in, and just shrugged.

“Look, I had no idea that she was the ‘most feared teacher in school’. All I knew

was that she was trying to show me up in front of everyone and I wasn’t going to

stand for it. Honestly, what I said wasn’t even that offensive.” He acted like it was

no big deal, like it was just a normal school day for him.

“But dude, seriously, you have no idea what that woman is like.” Luke told him,

“She’s probably out planning her revenge as we speak.” It wouldn’t have

surprised Annabeth if that were the case.

“Ok, as scary as that sounds,” Percy replied sarcastically, “I’ve dealt with tougher

teachers than Mrs. Dodds. You know, I’ve made teachers cry, scream, have

nervous breakdowns, and this one time, me and my cousin Nico made this

Chemistry teacher quit her job.” He listed all of the things off on his fingers,

looking proud as he did it. Luke looked at him in disbelief.

“How?” Everyone on the table was suddenly interested in finding this out.

“Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but long story short, we set her desk on

fire.” Even Annabeth’s eyes widened at that.

“You what?!”

“Set her desk on fire.” He said it again, as if it was the most normal thing in the

world to do. “Burned all of her books and test papers too.” He added.

“They didn’t expel you?” Thalia asked in disbelief.

“No, they could never prove it was us.” He grinned.

“You and who did that again?” Beckendorf asked.

“Nico. He’s become a sick son of a bitch though.” Beckendorf nodded, Annabeth

realized he probably knew this Nico too. “But hey, he’s family right?”

Everyone sat still for a moment, taking in what Percy had just told them. Only

one question was in Annabeth’s head though, but now was not the time to ask it.

She would wait.

For the rest of lunch, the gang questioned Percy. He answered most of the

questions, steering away from ones that were more personal. Though he seemed

more comfortable than he had been at the start of lunch, Annabeth knew that

this little lunchtime didn’t automatically make them friends, but she did notice

that every so often, while in the middle of telling the group about one of his

escapades, he would throw a glace her way. Not obvious glances, Luke was right

next to her after all, but a glance nonetheless.

In no time, Lunch had ended, and everyone went off to their respective classes.

Percy had Biology with Beckendorf, Jason, Piper and Michael, while Annabeth

had music. As she made her way to her music lesson, she thought about the

lunchtime they had just had, and the fact that Percy Jackson had been present. It

made her sure about him, how he could be the one to help bring some

excitement into her life. The thing that kept playing over in her mind was his

story about setting the Chemistry teacher’s desk on fire. That should scare her,

shock her. She should look at him in complete disgust, but she didn’t. It actually

satisfied her, excited her, some deep dark part of her. She tried to imagine the

look of horror on the teacher’s face, the image of the desk of fire implanted in her

brain. It must’ve been glorious. She wasn’t sure if she herself could do it, but she

could appreciate the act. The bravery it must’ve taken, the confidence to know

that he wouldn’t be caught, and the nonchalant way that he’d described the act.

She almost admired him for it. There was something Annabeth found undeniably

sexy about it all. Was that wrong? Then of course, she remembered it had led to a

woman quitting her job, a woman losing her livelihood. She pushed all those

thoughts back. She couldn’t afford to get distracted in class.

After Music, Annabeth made her way to her final lesson of the day, Psychology.

As she walked through the door, and looked around the class she spotted Percy

Jackson, sitting at the back, the third class today they had shared. Then she

noticed the empty seat next to him, and felt the urge to sit there, next to him. But

she fought the urge, as she knew he would only be a distraction for her. He had

just noticed her, as their eyes met, that familiar smile appeared on his lips. She

smiled back, before sitting down, right at the front of the class. Within a minute,

Dr. Thorn, had walked in. Dr. Thorn was one of the best teachers in the school,

but also one of the strictest. While he had never had a Mrs. Dodds style approach

to teaching, it wouldn’t surprise Annabeth to find out that he was secretly a

serial killer outside of school. His slicked back grey hair, hawkish features and

heterochromatic eyes, one brown and one blue, gave him the appearance of a

Bond villain. Annabeth did always like his lessons.

“Textbooks out.” His voice dripped with authority. Annabeth put her head down

and began to work.

As the lesson ended, thus meaning the school day was also over, she turned,

expecting to see Percy behind her, but he was gone. She looked around, slightly

confused, when she saw him deep in conversation with Dr. Thorn. She left the

classroom, wondering what they were talking about, not that it was any of her

business. But that was Annabeth, always curious. She decided to wait outside the

door for Percy; she didn’t think he’d mind. A part if her said it was stupid, foolish,

but another part of her knew that this would be the first time they would be

alone together.

About five minutes later, Percy emerged. He noticed Annabeth, then looked

around, presumably for the others. When he realized it was just her, he

approached.

“You not walking home?” He asked.

“No, I drove here.” He rolled his eyes slightly

“And do you intend on going home, or are you just gonna stand there until

tomorrow?” He was smiling now.

“Absolutely not. Let’s walk.” He nodded in agreement.

They walked down the hallway in silence, a comfortable silence mind, but still

silence. Annabeth felt like she should talk first, after all, she had waited for him.

“So how was your first day here?” A little boring, but at least she was trying

right? He laughed under his breath.

“Definitely interesting.”

“Dr. Thorn is something, isn’t he?”

“Yeah.” Percy agreed. “I think even I’d think twice before messing with him.”

Annabeth knew what he meant. Dr. Thorn could make Mrs. Dodds look like a

docile house cat if he really wanted to. They carried on walking, all the time,

never really looking at eachother.

The silence reappeared. She was desperate to know more about him, but she was

lost for words, she had no idea what to say. Annabeth Chase always had

something to say, but right now, she felt silly. Before she knew it, she reached her

car. She looked at Percy.

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said, to which he nodded slowly. He turned

to walk off, and she knew she would lose her opportunity.

“Percy!” She called after him. He turned to her, their eyes meeting for what felt

like the umpteenth time today. She had to ask him the question she hadn’t asked

earlier, around the others. This was her best chance.

“The Chemistry teacher, whose desk you burnt,” He nodded, “why’d you do it?

Y’know, set fire to the desk? I mean, why d’you really do it?

She wasn’t sure what she expected him to say. Maybe ‘She failed me’ or ‘She

insulted me’. But his reply was exactly what Annabeth wanted to hear.

“Because I could.”

This was going to be fun.


 

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