Chapter 18 - UNEVEN ODDS

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The next day at school, Percy rarely let Annabeth go. Piper had returned from her trip with her dad, and she helped keep people off Annabeth's back. Annabeth was glad that Piper didn't ask what was wrong, and why Drew kept searching for a chance to talk to her. Annabeth was relieved. In Chemistry, Percy put his arm around her waist, promising that she was safe when Drew started insulting her. In Gym, Hedge let Annabeth sit out after Percy gave him a short explanation of what was going on. Piper didn't let Drew try anything in the locker rooms. 

Annabeth was just glad that everything was okay, so far. In History, Annabeth leaned back like usual, and Percy did more than just kiss her neck. At one point in the video, he'd missed one of the questions and asked her for help. She turned around in her seat to help him, and after she wrote the answer down, he kissed her. Not her cheek. Not her neck. Her lips. Annabeth closed her eyes, loosing herself in the kiss in seconds. He put a hand in her hair, and Annabeth turned to putty in his hands.

When he broke away, she was blushing, feeling eyes on her. She closed her eyes, biting her lip shyly. He nuzzled his nose against hers and she smiled, turning around in her seat, unable to resist the smile that broke out on her lips. Percy put his arm around her shoulders, chin on his hand, lips next to her ear so he could whisper to her. The rest of class made her relax, with Percy's arms just holding onto her. She felt safer. She felt happier. It was all she needed. The reassurance that Percy was there, holding her, keeping her safe, protecting her.

***

It wasn't until after class that someone decided to be an asshole. Percy had an arm around Annabeth's waist, her head on his chest as she grabbed her stuff from her locker. Piper stood beside them, talking about someone from Florida. She heard the name Jason and wondered if it was the guy she still wasn't over, the one who knew her best friend. She didn't say that it was, but Annabeth was sure that it was him. Piper was asking Percy for advice on how to get him to ask her out.

Percy got flustered. "Why are you asking me?"

"Because you asked Annabeth out, right?"

"Well... I mean... Technically... No..."

"If you didn't ask her out why are you two so cutesy and cuddly?" Piper huffed. 

"Because I pretty much asked him to kiss me."

"Well, I can't kiss Jason when he's in Florida and I'm here in New York!" Piper groaned. "You guys are zero help."

"Sorry." Annabeth laughed. She closed her locker and the three of them turned to leave, just to be cornered by some of the football players. Annabeth immediately shrunk into Percy's chest, their eyes making her feel like she did when Mark had pinned her against the alley wall. She wanted to start crying. Annabeth was scared. These people knew about her and Marks deal... And they were all stronger than her, and Percy, and Piper. If they wanted to throw her off the roof, they could...

"Let her go." One of the snapped towards Percy, who pulled Annabeth in closer. "I said let her go."

"No. I know exactly what you're doing. You keep your hands off her, or the police will know exactly who to blame." The guy laughed, shaking his head.

"You're funny man." His laugh stopped. "Let the girl go, Perseus Jackson. Or I'll beat you to a pulp." 

Annabeth felt her body shake. She didn't want to see what the football players had planned, but she also didn't want to see Percy get hurt... Seeing Mark hit him had broken her heart... Mark had only hit Percy twice. These people would probably leave him crippled. She turned to Percy, whispering in his ear. "I'll be okay."

His grip tightened on her body. "I am not letting you go." He growled in her ear. "Not again." 

He pushed Annabeth behind him, to Piper, who looked fierce and ready to punch someone. One of the guys, one of the less scary and threatening guys, smiled flirtatiously at Piper, but she leveled him with a mean glare that made him shrink backwards. "You want Annabeth, you're gonna have to go through me. And I will fight dirty."

Annabeth felt her heart break as the first guy cracked his knuckles. The guy was at least 7 foot. Percy was only 6 foot. With the one foot height difference, the odds looked pretty uneven. Percy didn't have a chance. Which meant that neither did Annabeth. She leaned against the lockers, crying, sinking to the floor. Piper knelt beside her, trying to talk to her, getting nothing out of her.

Terror froze her mind, turned her stomach to ice, her bones to jello. She was useless. She looked up when she heard Percy cry out in pain. He fell to the floor in front of her, a hand on his jaw. "PERCY!" Annabeth screamed, jumping to his side, pulling his head into her lap. He was unconscious, nose bleeding. Fury Annabeth had never felt before filled her gut and she got to her feet, kicking the first guy as hard as she could. Her foot went right between his legs, and his eyes bugged out of his head, falling to his knees. Another one of the guys went for Annabeth, and she grabbed him by the arm, judo flipping him. A third and fourth guy grabbed her by the arms lifting her off the ground. Annabeth kicked out at a fifth guy coming towards her, sending him backwards, into a group of bystanders. Annabeth maneuvered her body, kicking the third guy in the head, then knocking out the knees of the fourth one. People stared in awe at Annabeth, none of them able to believe that she'd just taken down five football players on her own with no weapons. She hurt though. Her ankle had twisted wrong when she kicked the fifth guy. She limped back to Percy, who Piper had leaned against the lockers. He was waking up, a hand over his nose.

"Who... Who got rid of them?" Annabeth shook her head to brush it off, but Piper smirked at Percy.

"You're girlfriend is a bad-ass."

Percy looked confused, but he didn't question. Annabeth sat beside him, head on his chest, arms around his waist, knees to her chest. He put one arm around her shoulders as a teacher came to assess the damage. Annabeth's ankle was twisted wrong, more than just sprained, and Percy's shirt was more or less covered in blood. Piper helped Percy to his feet before they both helped Annabeth. She put weight on her ankle and cried out in pain, a sound that made the teacher freeze. He turned o Annabeth and sighed. Mr Brunner wheeled over and looked at Annabeth's ankle. She didn't need to hear it to know.

"Your ankle's broken again..."

Percy, as his nose had stopped bleeding, offered to carry Annabeth to the nurse's office, and she hesitated before he picked her up, not letting her deny. She clung to him and closed her eyes as he walked, Piper at his side. The nurse confirmed it, and Percy not so subtly asked why Mr Brunner said 'again'.

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