Bullying isn't new.
At some point in their life, everyone has been the victim of intimidation of some sort. It's just natural when people are young. Emotions run high, tensions mount, hormones are out of control, insecurities are numerous, and, to put it simply, some people are just mean.
That used to be Clarisse la Rue. The Bully. The Mean Girl. The One You Avoided in the Hallway.
But things changed. People changed. Percy Jackson came along.
Before Percy Jackson came around, Clarisse was a force to be reckoned with. At only 13 years old, she was already the head counselor of the Ares cabin. Everyone in the cabin respected and looked up to her, or maybe they just obeyed her. No one tried to go up against her in squabbles of any sort. She had a close posse of followers, made up of girls ranging in age from 12 to 16. She held that much power in her meaty hands. She was Clarisse la Rue, favored daughter of Ares, and a girl to be wary and cautious of. Going up against her would be like trying to defy a freight train.
But then, she recalled bitterly as she turned the corner of the Big House's wraparound porch and entered the screen door, Mr. Prissy Perfect had to come along and ruin everything. He took away my popularity, my position, my posse, everything that mattered to me. For a while he even managed to make me soft, but thankfully I recovered from that. Now he's got this whole camp wrapped around his finger.
She threw the door open, smacking a young boy from the Demeter cabin in the head. "Sorry," he apologized quickly and quietly, before scurrying out of her way as fast as he could, cradling his no-doubt broken, or at least bleeding, nose.
She didn't even pause long enough to check if he was alright, but just kept plowing her way through the winding corridors of the building. She finally reached her destination: a room, referred to as the rec room, that was used to hold the head of cabin meetings. In the center of the room was a beat-up, dingy looking ping pong table. On it sat several jars of Cheez Whiz and a few old pizza boxes (with some leftover slices), but, surprisingly, no paddles or balls that would make sense for a ping pong table. Around the table sat about twenty other kids, looking bored and tired, with the exception of one girl.
Annabeth Chase, Clarisse thought with an evil tone. That girl had it too good. Not only was she unbelievably gorgeous: startling grey eyes, blonde princess curls, perfectly tanned skin, unfair curves, all of which made Clarisse's dull brown eyes, stringy and sometimes greasy light brown hair, pimple-ridden forehead, and bulky frame pale in comparison; but she also was known as the most intelligent girl at camp. It made sense about the brains, since her mother was Athena, but the baffling beauty still went unexplained. In addition to all of that, the girl was still extremely blessed by her title as the girlfriend of Percy Jackson, a label to which Clarisse was secretly jealous of beyond all measure. Recently she'd discovered how strongly she'd felt about the son of Poseidon, but her feelings had only really surfaced after she'd agreed to be Chris Rodriguez's girlfriend. The feelings she'd once felt for him had somewhat faded, and she mainly stayed with him out of guilt, which was an emotion she didn't feel very often.
"Clarisse," said Chiron disapprovingly. "You're late," he pointed out.
"I know, Chiron. It's not my fault. I had to beat up a few-" The centaur stopped her by firmly holding up his hand.
"I don't want to hear it," he stated simply. "You have eaten up roughly an eighth of our entire school day. You were late to the lesson, and thus kept everyone else waiting." Clarisse inwardly rolled her eyes as she saw Annabeth nod emphatically, as if to prove a point. "Do not be tardy again tomorrow. Please take your seat."
Clarisse sat down with a huff. "Whatever," she said, loud enough for the other students to hear, but not for the ears of Chiron, a feat which she had achieved by practicing in many classrooms when she was growing up in Phoenix, Arizona. She noticed with some dismay out of the corner of her eye that Percy, who sat a few seats over to her right, was scowling slightly at her attitude. She tried to turn her attention to Chiron, but she could feel Percy's disapproving eyes boring into the back of her head.
"Class," said the teacher, addressing his select-few, year-round pupils, "can you name all three Fates?" Clarisse gave another roll of the eyes when she saw Annabeth's hand shoot up from the group of bored campers. "Anyone besides Annabeth?" Dead silence. He moved on. " How about the three Furies?" Annabeth's lone hand remained poised in the air. Chiron sighed. "One of them?"
Surprisingly, Percy raised his hand tentatively, as if unsure whether or not volunteering to answer was such a good idea. "Alecto, right? Well, I called her Mrs. Dodds when she was my math teacher, but I'm pretty sure her name is Alecto."
"Correct, Percy." Chiron looked impressed. "Well done." Both Chiron and Annabeth rewarded Percy for his answer by beaming with pride, their faces practically glowing and their faces nearly melting from their immense grins. "Thank you all, or at least some of you, for answering the question of the day. Now, I know you're all anxious to get your test scores back from yesterday, so, Miranda, if you please." The daughter of Demeter stood up and passed out papers marked all over with red marks.
Clarisse groaned. "We're all gonna fail, I just know it," she said, trying to get a reaction of some sort, from anyone. Preferably Percy. She wasn't disappointed.
Percy pointed his pizza slice at Clarisse. "You, ma'am, are a ray of sunshine."
Surreptitiously sneaking a glance over at Annabeth's paper and comparing the girl's grade to her own, she immediately became frustrated and balled up her test into a wad of paper, stuffing it into her pocket and brewing over a bunch of hateful names in her head. She allowed her anger to build up inside of her, like she did when she was preparing herself for a fight.
After class, Clarisse confronted Annabeth. A "confrontation" is slightly different for her than most people, as there were no actual words involved. Instead, she just went up behind the daughter of Athena as she was stepping down off the porch of the Big House, and pushed the girl into the dirt with a mighty thud.
Normally, she may have reacted more quickly, but Clarisse hadn't picked a fight with anyone for a long time, so most people probably assumed she was peaceful, like a dormant volcano. But no, this volcano was ready to erupt.
Before Clarisse could throw another punch, someone had pinned her arms behind her back and was pulling her away from the girl on the ground. She struggled against the restraints, but whoever it was was awfully strong, for she couldn't move her arms an inch. She was pulled into the Big House by whoever it was, and they stopped right inside the restroom there (which was intended for use by both girls and boys, since many of the campers had trouble reading the signs by normal bathrooms, due to their dyslexia).
"Let me go!" Clarisse finally shouted, her voice hoarse and strained from the effort of trying to pry herself loose from the person's vice-like grip.
"Okay," the person said. She felt his grip loosen, and she swung her arm around, her hand already balled into a fist and trying to gain a punch. She succeeded, but wished she hadn't when she saw that her fist had collided with Percy's face, of all people.
She immediately tried to apologize, for she wouldn't have punched him if she'd known it was him, but he stopped her short by clenching his fists tight, thus causing all the toilets in the bathroom to send forth a burst of water at a diagonal angle. The angle was so direct, and the stream so harsh, that Clarisse could not move either way, left or right, her body flanked on either side by erupting toilets.
"Let's talk, Clarisse, shall we?" Percy said, his face turned down into a frown. She shuddered, and nodded. "To do that, I'm going to let you go, but you have to promise to not try to hit me again, okay?" She nodded once again sublimely.
"First of all, you're a bully." Clarisse gulped. "I strongly dislike bullies. I've met quite a few of them in my years. They've ranged from the tough athletes at school, to people here at camp, to girls very similar to you. The thing that bothers me so much about bullies is that they take out whatever problems they're dealing with on other people." He gave her a pointed look. "Look, Clarisse, I've met your dad on several occasions, and I know how intimidating he can be. If you're having any issues with him, you have to tell somebody, and maybe they can help you." She shook her head to show that she wouldn't say a word, and Percy sighed in frustration. "You want to be that way? All shut-off and distant? Fine. Whatever, I could care less." Clarisse managed to blink back her tears. "But next time you want to take out your anger, do it somewhere where people who haven't done a damn thing to won't get hurt."
He almost turned to go, but he faltered a moment longer. "Bullies like you may not realize how much damage you can do. I highly doubt it. But to the victims, it makes a huge difference. I remember my first day at camp. I was young, impressionable, and it was my first day in my new home. And you welcomed me by trying to dunk my head in the toilet. I already felt worthless, but you only confirmed what I felt. I remember waht you said to me, 'Like he's Big Three Material. Yeah, right. Minotaur probably fell over laughing, he was so stupid looking.' And you and your friends laughed at me. You had the nerve to laugh. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, Clarisse, and don't ever do something like that again." Clarisse's jaw was dropped in shock.
As he walked out the door, Clarisse felt a nauseating wave of deja vu when he murmured, "You want to gurgle with toilet water again, Clarisse? Close your mouth."
After he left, Clarisse la Rue lay on the dirty floor of the bathroom and cried.