She had never seen someone so handsome.
Someone so mesmerizing, so stunning, so blindingly gorgeous. It didn't seem possible at the time- and still didn't, for that matter- for guys that looked like that to exist. It was highly unlikely. She should have known, as logical as she was, that it was entirely possible. But this kind of handsome, no, it didn't just walk into your life everyday. Honestly though, back then she had seen very few boys besides Luke that weren't ugly or that she didn't treat like a brother. This boy... He was new. He was handsome.
And he had been drooling.
She had been about to shake him awake herself when he had sat up with a gasp and had stared at her with big, sea green cow eyes. Oh gods... she thought. His eyes are so beautiful. As beautiful as Aphrodite herself.
And she had messed up their first meeting by stating stupidly, "You drool when you sleep."
She had immediately clamped a hand over her big, fat mouth, but thankfully he had looked down quickly to wipe the puddle of pooling drool on his pants leg. He had looked back up at her with a glare which had only lasted but a brief moment. That was just like Percy. Never able to stay mad at anyone. There was just such a happy, optimistic vibe to him. And yet...
There was something that Annabeth, one of the few closest to him, saw in Percy: something darker, sad, even tragic. It cause her to shudder sometimes, his aura would be so powerful and... just scary.
She was snapped out of the deep trenches of her mind as he snapped his fingers in front of her face.
"Annabeth? Annabeth. Annabeth!" she heard as she came out of her blank state.
"What?" she huffed indignantly. He scoffed.
"Have you even heard a word I've said?" He asked, irritated. She blinked rapidly, trying to remember the conversation that had occurred over the past five minutes. Seeing her failed attempt at remembering, he tried to put on a pouty face, but just ended up grinning. "You don't care about my story, do you?"
She wanted to cry out that of course she did, she cared about everything he said, but to save this normal, easy moment and their casual friendship, she didn't. Instead, she replied, "Of course not, Seaweed Brain. You've never got anything interesting to say anyway."
His jaw dropped, putting on a pretend offended look, but then he just grinned and rolled his eyes. He continued to tell the story anyway, and she struggled to listen this time. But it was hard. As he smiled at her and explained about some crab's dietary needs or something, Annabeth nodded along and smiled with him, but her thoughts were already wandering elsewhere. Percy's care-free deflection of her insult, although only part of his usual la-la attitude about life, had only made her sad. And it got her thinking.
Would he really even care if she didn't worry about his opinion? Would he care about her opinion on his? She wasn't sure. As smart and intelligent as she was- not to toot her own horn, but she was a daughter of Athena, after all- Percy was one of the few mysteries in her life. Although they had been friends for years now, since they were twelve, she still felt sometimes as though he was different than she expected. So wild and unpredictable, yet, at the same time, calm and gentle.
Like the sea.
Her thoughts wandered, yet again, from the present, and to the thoughts she had already pondered millions of times before. How did Percy feel about her? Did he think of her as a friend? Of something more? Did he know how badly she wanted to wrap her arms around him, to kiss him? Did he want to kiss her? These indecisive questions raced 'round and 'round in Annabeth's mind, causing her to become slightly dizzy and nauseous.
"Whoa, Wise Girl," he said. "You okay?" She stared at his three heads, her vision slightly blurry, before mumbling something about needing to "go take a shower" or "get some aspirin."
Percy cast her an odd, worried look, and Annabeth was once again surprised by how much his attention pleased her and satisfied her. If only he would always look at her, and only her.
But there were so many other girls now, and there always had been. It was worse now though. At first, Annabeth's competition for Percy's affection had numbered only one: her. But then, after their first quest, things started to change. She, Percy, and Grover came back to camp, and girls started fawning all over him. There were the numerous nymphs and the obsessive Aphrodite cabin, of course. There were girls that had one time bullied Percy and picked on him, who now claimed that they had always had such a major crush on him. Other girls came along as well: girls from school, from other quests, from Camp Half-Blood, from Camp Jupiter, from Olympus (It was widely rumored that several of the goddesses, both on and off Olympus, had a thing for Percy: Aphrodite, Hera, even Artemis.) Heck, one girl that Annabeth knew liked Percy had been banished for years in exile, and a few others had either been dead, locked away, or in a coma-like state, making them well-over Percy's age. But still, the girls continued to be drawn to him by the dozens, like a moth to a flame. Oh, they all claimed they were in love with him, and very convincingly too, yet they had never liked him, talked to him, loved him, like Annabeth had. Certainly they were drawn to him and his attractive looks, his goofy humor, his strong muscles, his powerful abilities. But they didn't care enough, not as much as she did.
It was enough to make Annabeth spit.
During all of those detestable thoughts, she must have been making a very unattractive, sour face, because Percy just stared at her in surprise and said, "Hey, Annabeth, what's up? You look like you smelled something stinky." When she didn't reply, he tried to lighten the awkward tension by claiming, "Whoops, sorry, my bad. Didn't know my fart would wreak so much."
Annabeth, realizing she had been zoning out again, just laughed a nervous, uneven laugh that immediately raised Percy's eyebrows in suspicion. Luckily for her, he didn't push the subject, but continued to construe his story to her that he had been explaining for well over ten minutes now, she was sure. She was intent on focusing on his story this time.
"And so then, I turned around and I was like, 'Whoa! How does a squid even eat a piece of bread that big?'"
Annabeth, already completely lost in this conversation (as she had been for several minutes now), just allowed her eyes to glaze over slightly and her head to keep on bobbing along to his words, which she was very intent on understanding at this point. She figured that the best way to do that was to just stare at his mouth. So she stared, vigilantly.
The only problem was, thoughts of Percy's mouth led to thoughts of his lips, which led to thoughts of his kisses, which Annabeth had felt very few of.
Although Percy's kisses for Annabeth were few and long in between, the rarity of them made their value all the better, like a precious gemstone of some sort. Annabeth, being the cautious girl that she was, had worked her way up the Ladder of Kissing, beginning on the lowest rung- a peck on the cheek- so as to work from the ground up. The first time she had kissed him had been precisely that: a quick kiss on Percy's cheek, after the their victory at the chariot race when they were thirteen. The next step up the Ladder had been another quick peck, but this was progressive because it was on the mouth. She had kissed him on his lips, with a warning to stay safe, before quickly pulling on her Yankees cap so as to mask her furious blush with invisibility. After that, she was able to climb up the rungs much more quickly, and with much more confidence too. But it had been shaky at the same time, if that made sense. Her next big step had been to ask him- well, more like order him- to go to the most romantic event of the summer: the fireworks show. He had stared at her inquisitively, as if saying, "Why are you even talking to me?" Well, that's how she'd taken it, anyway.
She had later ranted about her frustration in an interview, making a fool of herself by not only openly admitting her huge crush on Percy, but also going on and on and on about how he couldn't take a hint. Although he'd never said anything to her, Annabeth's suspicious and anxious side of her was always afraid that he'd read that interview. But whenever she'd asked him about it indirectly, he would just stare at her with a blank expression and she could just tell that he had no clue what she was talking about.
That happened a lot, actually. Percy was well-known by everyone to be not-so-smart sometimes. Well, that wasn't really fair. It wasn't so much that he was stupid, just...oblivious. Very, very oblivious. Although he sometimes got teased for it, he never seemed to care. Or maybe he was just too unobservant to even realize that people were teasing him in the first place. Yep, that was more likely.
Poor Seaweed Brain, she thought. So clueless.
She turned to look at Percy, studying his features. His famous sea green eyes and jet black hair- there was no other way to describe them- were an instant magnet to girls everywhere, and once you got to know him better, you would also be attracted by his oddball sense of humour, his off-hand jokes, his bright way of viewing life, his inner strength, his sense of loyalty; oh, the list went on and on. If you were lucky enough to catch him when he was in private training at the arena, as Annabeth and, to her resentment, others often did, you would possibly have the privilege of getting to see a shirtless Percy; his faint white scars (heroic medals of battle, as Annabeth viewed them), broad shoulders, and noticeable muscles (complete with an impressive six-pack) also adding to his overall man magnet-nis.
Annabeth fought the very strong urge to let her gaze stay trained on his impressive biceps, instead forcing her eyes to remain locked on his face. He wasn't gesturing with his hands anymore. Was he saying something? He looked slightly annoyed.
"Annabeth." Did he say her name?
"Wise Girl." She stared only at his lips. They were moving.
"Annabeth." Those pink, full lips...
"I give up. You're not even listening to me anymore. What are you doing?"
She sighed in frustration. Maybe they wouldn't ever be anything more than "just friends." Maybe they were destined to never be an item. To become closer. But she didn't voice her concerns. Instead, she simply answered:
"Oh, you know me: just thinking..."