led by our beating hearts
The first time Annabeth Chase meets Percy Jackson is much more anticlimactic than she imagined.
It’s not that Annabeth spent a lot of time actively thinking about someone she’s never met, but being a student at Pine Senior High School means that an active education in the ongoings of Percy Jackson’s life is inevitable. Annabeth is aware that something similar happens on the other side of town, with her name instead. That’s the nature of the rivalry between the only two high schools in Olympus; every sports team and club is pitted against their sister school of Jupiter. Akin to the rivalry between Poseidon and Athena, this one between the Spartans and Gladiators was born of hormonal adolescent egos and mutual loathing.
Annabeth has experienced being caught in the crosshairs of the ill-fated rivalry more times than she can count. Being one of Pine’s star athletes guarantees that her high school uses her as ammunition and bragging grounds every chance she gets. While she has as much- if not more- school spirit as the next girl, she has no desire to participate in the cutthroat barbs and practical jokes that the majority of the student body takes so much joy in. She makes it a point to attend all major school meets and games against Jupiter, if not for her interest in the sports themselves then for her fascination of how the rivalry makes her already arrogant and hypermasculine peers even more conceited and stupid. It’s at these basketball games, swim meets, and track meets that she glimpses him at first. She always sits at the very top of the bleachers with Reyna (except during track season where she has her own events to worry about, thank you very much) so that they can make fun of all of the posturing and go over schoolwork together. Annabeth can admit that he’s an incredible athlete; right up there with people like Frank Zhang and Jason Grace. She knows that he’s the only junior in Olympus that has a faster mile than her, but she’s never had a desire to seek him out after a track meet or her occasional volleyball games she spots him at. They simply existed on different worlds.
It sometimes seems like both of them were riding different trains on parallel tracks- fated to glimpse the other occasionally, but never to meet. That’s partially why she is so surprised when she spots him at Chiron’s Stop and Shop- very much on the Pine section of town. Chiron’s has always been one of her favorite places. It’s owner was an old family friend who taught her how to deal with her dyslexia when she was younger. He’s always been a mentor and father figure to her, and she picks up shifts at the store on weekends. It’s not that people from Jupiter aren’t allowed on this side of town, but they aren’t exactly expected. Percy Jackson with his shock of black hair and sea green eyes is utterly recognizable- not to mention that he’s wearing a purple hoodie with the words JHS Gladiators emblazoned on the front. It’s like painting a target on your back while simultaneously walking into a war zone. She considers walking away, but he spots her first.
“Hey! You’re Annabeth, right?” he calls out just as she was about to begin her retreat. “You do soccer and track and stuff at Pine.” The way he’s rocking back and forth on his heels reminds her entirely of Leo, and she wonders if he had ADHD too. It’s certainly a big part of why Annabeth’s so involved in sports- it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the restlessness she always feels. She’s suddenly aware of the fact that she hasn’t brushed her hair all day, or bothered to conceal the circles under her eyes
“Soccer and track and stuff. That’s me.” she answers “and you’re Jupiter’s swimming god.” He’s a couple inches taller than her, and even more tan, like he spent all his free time at a beach instead of a tiny town in Virginia.
“So that’s what they call me on this side of the creek, huh?” he questions. “You know, people say that you’re the best forward that the town has seen in years.”
“So what, pray tell, is one of Westbury’s revered athletes doing on this side of town?” Annabeth prods “You know, if any other student had noticed you you’d have been immediately sentenced to death by overzealous high schoolers.”
Percy lets loose a quiet laugh at this, and she can’t help the sliver of satisfaction that snakes through her body. He looks oddly embarrassed, and the sheer normalcy of his accompanying flush goes against all her prior expectations of this boy. She takes in the way he bites down on his lip as he unfurls his right wrist to reveal a small cellophane package filled with… dolphins?
“You… risked your well being in order to buy candy dolphins?” Annabeth can’t help the astonishment in her voice. Percy looks deeply offended
“They’re gummy sharks.” He protested “and they’re my lifeblood. Seriously, Annabeth, gummy sharks are the food of the gods.” he continues, “my cousin, Nico is supposed to supply me with them, since this is the only place in town which sells them, but he’s on some stupid date which means I have to do everything myself as per usual.”
By the time he’s finished with his tirade, his eyebrows are knitted together in concentration and his hands are still moving to finish his latest dramatic gesture.
“Nico Di Angelo?” she questions “He’s your cousin?” Thanks to her longstanding friendship with Will, Annabeth cannot go 24 hours without hearing him ramble on and on about the gorgeous brunette with the gorgeous dark eyes that- oh god annabeth they make me want to melt he’s so out of my league. It took Will an entire semester of pining from a distance before he finally made a move and Annabeth has spent the entirety of the last two weeks helping Will plan an overly complex date meant to woo his pants off, in his own words.
“You know him?” Percy questions
“Indirectly. My friend Will has spent so much time talking about his enormous crush that I probably know more about your cousin than I do myself. Will’s probably setting off heart shaped fireworks as we speak.”
“Ah. So he’s the blond haired casanova that Nico hasn’t been able to shut up about for the past few months. It’s gotten quite concerning, really.”
Their conversation continues and she finds herself enjoying his personality more than she’s willing to admit. She tells him about her visions of becoming an architect, her soccer team, her qualms and praises of the most recent star wars installment… and before she knows it, her phone chimes with a text from Piper asking why in the name of all that is holy, has it taken her over two hours to buy a jar of salsa. She quickly excuses herself from the conversation, and grabs a couple extra jars of queso just to appease Piper.
She mulls over the conversation as she make her way around the block to Piper’s house. It’s odd, how instantly comfortable she was with him. It took her weeks before she had felt that close to any of her other friends. It’s not until she is comfortably nestled between Piper and Reyna, deep into the Goblet of Fire, that she notices the small pale yellow post it on the side of the salsa jar. Scrawled (almost illegibly, she notes) are 10 digits, signed PJ. Piper instantly leans over and lets out a low whistle, her chestnut colored braids brushing Annabeth’s face.
“Damn, Chase has game!” Annabeth squints at her and swats at her hair. This catches Reyna’s interest and she turns away from the screen.
“Who’s PJ?” she asks as she shoots her a smirk. She knows that they’re trying to be nonchalant about it, but the glimmer in Piper’s eyes tells her otherwise. She hasn’t done anything remotely romantic since her historic crush on Luke in middle school which resulted in one date freshmen year before he moved away. Piper has been begging her to go on a date ever since.
“Percy Jackson.” She mutters, making sure to fixate her eyes on Victor Krum. The effect of her words is no less than she predicted. Piper squeals and drops her Tostitos and Reyna raises both eyebrows, instead of just one.
“Like, Jupiter’s Percy Jackson? Thalia’s cousin? If so, congratulations- he’s like seven different levels of fine.” Piper proclaims “I prefer blonds, though.” Reyna glances back at the number and frowns.
“I hate people from Jupiter. They’re like mini-Kardashians. No offense Piper.” Piper tugs thoughtfully at her braid. It was true that students that went to Jupiter were generally more wealthy than the ones at Pine with the exception of the Mcleans, but it didn’t seem like Percy was airheaded or conceited.
“So! Are you going to- CEDRIC NO!” Piper shrieks and covers her eyes with her hands. Annabeth mentally thanks Voldemort for the distraction as Reyna shoots her a meaningful look. She glances back down at the post-it note in her hand and smiles, thinking about what Piper was about to ask. Maybe she would.
AN: so this is the first thing I’ve written ever?? and I threw it together pretty quickly and I would beyond grateful for any criticism and ideas and hopefully I’ll be able to build on this and improve it to a point where it’ll be acceptable. I’m serious. I will personally buy you the moon if you give me writing advice go ahead and PLEASE tear this apart.