Chapter 19 - DON'T THINK. JUST RUN

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Annabeth sat quietly at Softball tryouts, in the baseball field bleachers. It had been Percy's idea for her to try out, and she only had the courage to do it because Piper was beside her, holding a baseball, one signed by Babe Ruth. Annabeth sighed nervously, feeling judging stares on her. Everyone had been told about her and Marks deal. Everyone said that they would have died before letting someone do that to her.

She knew they'd say it. She also knew that if she did let herself die, they would have called it a suicide. It wasn't the first time she'd been told to kill herself, after all. But Annabeth had had a reason to live at that point, whether anyone knew it or not. Percy was her reason. She'd been falling for him, still was. For a day or two, she thought she'd already hit the bottom, but then he'd decked someone for insulting her behind her back, yelling at them, calling her his girl, and then he'd kissed her like he was a dying man, and she his last hope for life... Though, shortly after he was suspended for a week.

She knew then that she would never stop falling. Not for a very long time, at least. She'd loved so few people in her life that it took her longer to reach the point where Percy's safety and happiness would be the only thing she'd ever need to be happy. She felt pretty close to that already.

Annabeth sighed, running a hand through her hair. She was next. All she had to do was hit the ball the coach pitched to her... and she could go home. And she could go to Percy and do whatever crazy game thing he planned for that weekend.

"Annabeth Chase." The coach, Artemis Olympus, called her name with a big smile. The bleachers cried out in annoyed cheers - Except for Piper. Piper cheered her on with more excitement than Annabeth could muster for herself.

She trotted down the bleacher steps to the bases, grabbing the metal bat and holding it beside her head, ready to swing. The first ball thrown was a curve, the second went over her head, and Annabeth didn't swing. She heard people groaning in annoyance, yelling at her to either swing or get off the pitch. She waited. Artemis had a smile on her face. Annabeth tensed, ready.

Artemis threw the third ball, and it came straight for Annabeth. She swung the bat, and the ball and bat collided with a painful ring that almost deafened her. Annabeth didn't stop to stare. The ball was long gone, far away from any possible catch, and so was Annabeth. They'd been told to run the bases, so she did. She was just glad that everyone was too stunned to try and stop her moving feet.

Piper was screaming her head off, standing, cheering. Annabeth was beaming when she reached the home plate. Even Artemis looked amazed.

Some yelled. "Great, she lost the ball!"

"She should have to go get it! That was such a bad hit! You don't wanna hit it that far!"

Piper yelled at them. "She's a better player than you ever will be!"

Annabeth laughed, walking to Piper. Her best friend hugged her, and Annabeth sunk weakly onto the bleacher step. "That was nerve-wracking. How am I alive, right now?"

"Very good question." Drews voice came from behind them. Annabeth ignored her. "Don't ignore me, you little slut."

"Come on, Pipes, I'm meeting Percy in a few minutes." Annabeth stood, and they started to walk. Drew grabbed Annabeth's ponytail, jerk in her backwards. Annabeth cried out, hitting her head on the metal. Drew shoved Piper away, so Piper fell to the bottom of the bleachers. She surrounded Annabeth with her firneds, each of them wearing mean, matching snarls. Annabeth felt terrified. She was close to the top.

This was it. One wrong move and she was dead. Drew grabbed Annabeth's arms and pressed her back against the rickety railing. "Hey, what's going on over here!?"

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