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Chapter 3: Mess With the Bull, Get the HornsEdit

Annabeth's way too distracted by Percy to realize that two guys are trying to steal her money. Percy's got her back. And those two? It's safe to say they spent the night nursing their wounds and cursing the day they ever met Percy Jackson. 

*(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Percy's holding the door, with his knee, for Annabeth as they shuffle outside of Pizza Shack, clutching two brown boxes of steaming pepperoni pizza apiece. It's a dance, Percy weaving this way and Annabeth leaning that way so that they can both step into fresh air (or as fresh as it gets in New York) and set the boxes down at their feet to catch their breath.

How would have that that Pizza Shack would have so many people? It was almost as bad as Black Friday, screaming people running about and one elf-ish looking guy stuffing about a zillion slices into his gaping mouth all at once as an Asian guy and his girlfriend timed him with a stopwatch shouting "30 seconds Leo! C'mon buddy! YOU GO!" Percy had personally thought it looked like the best game ever but as he'd watched Annabeth's face scrunch up in disgust he'd decided not to voice his opinions out loud.

He was too nervous about scaring her away.

Annabeth. Her name was perfect. Better than NAABEHBT, for sure. He couldn't believe he'd gotten that wrong but that's dyslexia for you.

She wasn't like any girl he'd ever talked to, not that Percy usually talked to any girls except his mom. He was much too busy for that. Skateboarding and surfing and whatever. Life was in the way.

But Annabeth? She made him want to weave flowers in his hair, start a 'Save the Whales' campaign (something he wanted to do when he was 3 but only managed to save up $0.43 for the project before he lost interest), and find the cure to cancer. (Because cancer sucks and someone needs to show that bully up.)

They'd met only three days before, and the time that passed when Percy hadn't seen her were pure agony. Almost every second without her made him want to sob in despair, it was seriously that bad, and his every waking moment was about her.

This morning, as he'd woken up there'd been a bounce to his step and it was similar to the feeling of waking up on Christmas morning as a child. Except, maybe a million times better.

Percy hoped to any one listening that Annabeth liked him back. She wouldn't have agreed to a second date if she didn't...right? If walking her home from work after just meeting her counted as a date. In Percy's book it worked just fine. And Pizza Shack probably wasn't a place where most people with romantic interest in one another would go but hey, she liked food, he liked food, pizza is a pizza is a pizza.

So pizza it was.

"I can't believe how many people were in there," Annabeth's lips turned up into a slight smile as she tucked a few stray blonde hairs behind her ears, the ones not trapped in a ponytail.

"It was pretty insane," Percy agreed, trying not too stare to intently into her eyes.

"Do you think we're really going to eat all this pizza?" The blonde gestured to the boxes that lay at their feet. The ground was littered in trash and dried gum, and Percy half wondered to himself it was really a good idea to set their food on the sidewalk which was not at all sanitary. She bent down to pick hers up and Percy did they same. They started walking, the sky was growing dark and it was eerily quiet as they went down the street a good couple feet.

"I dunno know," Percy replied honestly after some time. "Once, when I was little I ate five slices in a row and I was super proud of myself. Now I eat like the entire box plus some."

Annabeth probably would have answered something witty, or a cute little remark that would have made Percy's heart soar but she never got the time.

Two masked boys ran up to the two of them, and before Percy or Annabeth had any idea of what was going on one of the two pulled out a handgun.

"Drop the boxes and hand over your money!" The boy closest to Annabeth shouted, waving his arms violently. The other boy with the gun pointed it furiously between the both of them.

"Whoa man, no need to point a gun in the lady's face." Percy couldn't help himself. People did say that his smart remarks could get him killed someday. Too bad they didn't realize it was such an ironic phrase. "Didn't you mom teach you any manners?"

The boy with the gun turned so the gun was trained on Percy. "You shut the *beeeeep* up you little *beeeeeep*. I could shoot you dead if you don't give me your money."

"Give me your money girl," The masked boy next to Annabeth jabbed her with an elbow. "You got ten seconds or your boyfriend here is gonna get a bullet in his brain."

To Percy's credit he didn't react to that at all. "Don't talk to her like that," He growled, face turning an angry red.

Annabeth, he thought should have been crying pathetically and gasping about how 'oh please just spare him' and handing as much cash over as she could...but she wasn't. She was standing in the same position as she'd been when the boys ran up and her grey eyes were snapping back and forth between the two as if she was calculating something. She and Percy locked eyes and they were in unspoken agreement.

"I'm getting sick of this Conner," The boy holding the gun sounded bored. "Let's just shoot 'em and go."

"Travis you idiot," The other boy responded, eyes flickering to Percy and back at Annabeth. "I explained this to you. If we kill them there's a messy body to clean up." He looked at Annabeth and narrowed his eyes. "Not that we won't if it comes down to it."

Annabeth then did something rather unexpected. Instead of maintaining her stoic composure, tears formed in her eyes and her lip began to tremble. "Oh...I don't want to die." She gasped, and then her legs gave out and she was on the ground. The one called Conner inched closer, irritation evident on his face. "Your a stupid *beeeep*. So pathetic." He brought a heart wrenching kick swinging into her side and Annabeth let out a sharp gasp.

It took all Percy's willpower not to say or do anything...not yet.

As soon as Annabeth was sure the ass was close enough she yelled: "NOW!" and then her leg was sweeping out and catching the criminal's legs and bringing him crashing hard to the ground. At the same time, Percy lept forward and knocked the gun from Travis' hand, sending it flying off into the bushes. Just as swiftly, Percy was on the other boy and began pummeling and kicking and punching for all his worth. Poor Travis... those are the only words innocent enough to explain what happened to him.

Red. Red. Red.

Percy wanted to kill him.

He. Insulted. Annabeth.

He was going to die.

Punch, kick, punch.

They. Kicked. Her.

There's noise roaring in his ears and his eyes are narrowed as he glares down at the boy trapped underneath him.

Red. Red. Red.

"Percy stop!"

Annabeth?

Percy looks up confused and see's his date standing next to him, concern and...was that fear? in her eyes.

The other boy, Conner, had gone.

Travis groaned in pain from underneath Percy and with reluctance Percy forced himself off. "Get out of here," He muttered but raised his voice for his following words: "If you ever try to hurt her ever again I will personally arrange a funeral service."

And with that, Travis was up and running limping away.

Percy turned back to Annabeth, who stood still and motionless.

"Annabeth?" He asked tentatively. "Are you okay?"

Her hand ghosted her side and he noticed her slight wince but instead she just nodded.

"Do you...do you still want to go back to your apartment to eat these?"

Gods. Percy hated himself. He'd messed up. Somehow, protecting Annabeth had made her not like him as much. Or at least, that's how it seemed to him. How had he managed to screw this up? (Pretty easily, he supposed).

"No...I uh...I need some time to myself." Her reply cut his soul in half and he tried not to look like a wounded baby seal.

"Oh that's-that's okay," Percy stammered, losing his control over his ability to form sentences. "Maybe another time...do you uh, do you have a cellphone?"

Annabeth appeared to be avoiding making eye contact and that worried Percy even more. Did she not like him?

Does she hate me?

But to his surprise, she nodded and he handed her his pen that he kept with him at all times and she scribbled her number on his hand. "Don't forget it," She added when she was done, then turned on her heel and left.

Percy watched her leave, confusion muddling his thoughts and he sighed dejectedly.

Notes:

Uh oh... what does Annabeth think about Percy now?

Can they still be a happy couple now that she's seen what he's capable of?

(SPOILER: Yeah, I mean otherwise there would be no story...but shhh don't tell the plot that.)

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