Percy had been staring at the list of quotes in his hand for roughly thirty minutes. Firstly, he hated Literature. Hated it. With a passion. Almost more than he liked Annabeth. Secondly, his handwriting was atrocious. That was a word he'd learnt from her, actually. But no matter how well he phrased it, his dyslexia was giving him a major headache.
He groaned inwardly. SATs were no joke, especially since he was actually trying this time. There was a pact he'd made with Jason that the both of them would make it to university.
It was partly because Percy knew his mother wanted him to, and partly because he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do with his life yet. And NYU had a great biology programme.
A loud shout caught Percy's attention and his head snapped up. There was a boy, about five years old, thrashing around in the deep end.
Percy leaped into action; he tossed the sheets down and jumped off the lifeguard's chair and into the water with a splash.
As he felt the water envelop him, Percy had to force himself to fight the grin that threatened to spread across his face. He swam over to the kicking boy, grabbing him by the waist and shushing him comfortingly.
The boy whimpered as Percy paddled to the edge of the pool, hoisting him up onto the ledge.
Percy treaded water to stay afloat. "You okay?" he asked in concern as he climbed up to join the boy.
"Oh my god, Jamie!" someone screamed.
It was a girl, only a little older than Percy, probably around 18 years old. She squeezed Jamie in a hug so tight Percy wondered if he should save him.
"Are you okay?" she said hysterically. "You-you almost drowned! I can't believe you would do something so irresponsible — after Mum told you to stay out of there!"
Percy grabbed a towel off the rack and wrapped it around Jamie's shoulders. The boy pulled the towel over himself gratefully, still trembling.
The girl sighed. "I'm sorry, Jamie. I was just so worried!" She glared half-heartedly at him. "Don't ever do that to me again." Her gaze slid away from her younger brother — Percy assumed — to Percy, where her amber eyes widened slightly. "Oh, oh — hi."
"Hi," Percy replies awkwardly. "Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt your..." He trailed off uncertainly.
She laughed. "Yeah, I'm a little protective of Jamie." She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear with a blush as she realised that people were glancing over after her shouts.
"It's fine," Percy assured her. He leaned down towards Jamie. "I know the deep end's pretty cool, but maybe you could stick with your big sis before trying it out?"
Jamie nodded sheepishly. "Sorry. Thanks for saving me there."
Percy grinned. "It's fine. Don't worry."
"Thank you," his sister said again. "Really." She extended a hand. "I'm Layla."
"So you're the new lifeguard?" Layla guessed, glancing at the band on Percy's wrist.
"Yeah," he said. "Part-time job — saving up for college."
"Oh?" she sounded surprised. "You're in high school?"
Percy winced. "SATs coming up next month."
She nodded understandingly. "Oh yeah, they suck. I did mine two years ago." So she was 18; Percy was right.
"I always see you guys here," Percy noted as they walked back to the chairs so Jamie could dry off. "Never thought to say hi."
Layla smiled. "Yeah, the old lifeguard Tom used to give Jamie swimming lessons. He refuses to go to any other pool since. Do you swim usually?"
"I'm in my school team." Percy shrugged. He figured he shouldn't mention anything about being the son of the sea god.
"Well, Percy," Layla paused. "I'll see you around."
"Yeah, yeah," Percy laughed. "Bye."
The next few weeks were better, because Percy had a new friend. He didn't have to study alone.
Layla was good at Literature — and she liked it, something Percy would never understand. Jamie was adorable, and he would sit by the pool with Percy and talk about his school.
The next few weeks were also a little weird. It was his first few weeks as a lifeguard, so Percy didn't know if this usually happened at pools — maybe he never noticed before — but there were a lot of people who couldn't swim.
As in, every hour there would be someone who couldn't swim, and Percy had to jump in and save them. After a few days, he didn't even bother to wear his shirt around the pool. It was easier to just leap in.
"I don't know," Percy complained. "I always thought — if you come to a swimming pool, you usually know how to swim."
Layla looked like she was stifling a laugh, but she nodded with a straight face. "Yeah, definitely. No idea what's going on."
"I don't know," Percy mused. "I'm genuinely thinking about it."
His feet were up on the couch as he typed away on Piper's laptop. The wonderful smells of Calypso's heavenly paella filled the apartment.
"What are you doing?" Annabeth asked curiously. She peeled herself off the armchair and kneeled down behind him, wrapping her arms around his chest and kissing his cheek affectionately.
Percy gestured to the screen. "Making a poster. For swimming classes. There are just so many people who can't swim at the pool." He glanced up at Annabeth, who was staring at the poster thoughtfully.
"So let me get this straight," she said slowly. "You walk around the pool — shirtless, right? — and jump in and heroically save anyone who's — ahem — drowning?"
"Yeah, no," Annabeth said, ducking her head to hide a smile. "I have no idea why so many people can't swim."
"That's exactly what Layla said," Percy said accusatorially. "With the smirk and everything. Although she was more subtle about it. I'm just trying to help people learn to swim!"
Annabeth laughed. "I'm sorry, Seaweed Brain. I promise, I'm not making fun of you. It really is a nice thing of you to do."
"Who's Layla?" Leo asked, wiping the wet dishes. He was on dish duty tonight after losing a bet to Jason.
"This girl who comes to the pool with her brother every week," Percy said, unfazed. He suddenly turned to Annabeth. "That's okay, right?"
Annabeth rolled her eyes. "Okay, if I got mad at every girl who talked to you, well, that'd be kind of annoying wouldn't it. Yes, Percy, you can make friends with whoever you want."
"I bet she's hot," Leo sing-songed.
Percy glared at him the same time Annabeth did.
The next weekend, the rest of Percy's friends joined him at the pool for his first swimming class. Piper wanted to see all these people who were allegedly "drowning" and "unable to swim".
Annabeth sat by the poolside in her shorts and t-shirt, reading a book, when Piper started poking her.
"What?" she said irritatedly.
Piper stifled a laugh. "You might want to see all of Percy's students."
Annabeth glanced up and nearly burst out laughing.
There were kids, of course, and their parents. But most of all, there were bikini-clad girls, whispering excitedly to each other as they stepped into the shallow end of the pool, and Annabeth saw, even some guys who were eying Percy.
"I know you said you're fine with him talking to whoever he wanted," Piper told her. "But they're practically mentally undressing your boyfriend!"
Jason, who was sitting beside her, chuckled. "Aren't you a little concerned, Annabeth?"
"Yeah, he's surrounded by a thousand girls who could be in a fashion show," Hazel pointed out.
Annabeth closed her book and sat up, glancing at her friends. "It took Percy five years to ask me out. Me," she burst into laughter. "Poor Percy. I just wish we had some popcorn."
Percy spent the next hour aiding people who couldn't swim, having to awkwardly hold random girls by the waist and have them giggle at him. He was also extremely uncomfortable whenever the occasional guy would stroke his arm.
"Hey, Percy, you almost done?" Annabeth asked.
Percy glanced back at her. She was standing by the edge of the pool, trying her hardest to keep a straight face.
"Yeah," he said as he glanced at the clock. "See you next week, guys," he called out to the swimmers, who pulled disappointed faces.
He swam up and leaned on the edge. "You coming in, Wise Girl?" Percy asked Annabeth.
She shrugged. "Nah. I didn't bring a change of clothes."
Percy gave her his infamous puppy eyes. When she didn't relent, Percy reached out a hand. "Fine, help me up."
Annabeth snorted. "Don't even think about it," she said threateningly. "I've seen enough movies to see how this—"
Strings of water grabbed Annabeth and yanked her in anyways, landing beside Percy with a splash.
Hopefully no one saw that.
He burst out laughing as she resurfaced with a murderous expression. "I love you," he promised her. He yelped as Annabeth launched herself onto him, laughing as she wrangled him into the water.
"I'm all wet," Annabeth complained, glaring at him. She folded her arms across her chest, blushing. "This was a great day to wear a white shirt." She mentally thanked herself for deciding to put on a nice bra in the morning.
As they climbed out of the pool, Annabeth refusing any help — "I'm sorry, Annabeth!" — "No, you're not!" — more laughs from Percy — Percy grabbed his shirt.
"It's a little big," he said apologetically as she pulled it on.
Annabeth glared at him. "I'm keeping this."
"Hey," Percy protested as he ran after her. "That's my favourite shirt!"
As he caught up to her, Percy slung an arm across her shoulders. "Do I have something on my face?" he whispered.
Annabeth wrinkled her nose. "What? No."
"But everyone's staring at us."
Annabeth stopped in her tracks and turned him to face her. "Okay, listen, Percy. I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but—"
She paused. "You're kind of really hot."
Percy stared at her incredulously. "Did you just say—"
"I'll take it back," Annabeth warned.
A slow smile grew across his face. "You said I was hot."
"I take it back."
"Too late!" Percy grinned. "I knew it. You love me." He leaned down and kissed her between laughs.
Annabeth rolled her eyes as he drew away from the kiss. "I knew I would regret that."
"Annabeth Chase thinks I'm hot!"
"Percy, come on!"