He’s older than she’d thought he’d be. When she had signed up to tutor math, she’d really only expected freshmen and sophomores.
But, as it turns out, her first client is none other than Percy Jackson. Senior, star quarterback, and, apparently, struggling in pre-calc.
She doesn’t actually know too much about him because she doesn’t actually know that much about football and his name is often linked with the sport. From what she’s gathered, though, he’s pretty well liked, considered attractive, and a really good football player.
From the smile he’s shooting her as he walks up, she can confirm that he’s really attractive. Messy black hair (that doesn’t look too messy), a lean well-built figure and a strong jawline to boot.
“Hey, you’re the math tutor right?” he asks, finally stopping at her table.
The real clincher in his looks, she notes as she nods in confirmation, are the eyes. A beautiful sea-green that she might be staring into, but he’s studying her back so it’s probably alright.
“Do we have a class together?” he asks, sliding into the seat across from her. She’s shocked that he’s noticed her at all, she’s practically silent in history.
“History, right?” he continues before she can say anything. She nods again.
“What’s your name?” He’s still looking at her with that curious look.
Flushing a little under his gaze, she answers almost automatically.
“Hi Annabeth! Percy,” he introduces, as if she doesn’t know who he is.
“So,” he starts to take out a notebook, “you’re a whiz at pre-calc?”
She just shrugs in response. Given that she’s in AP Calc, she really should know pre-calc.
“Well, I need some help with this homework.” He slides a sheet of paper to her.
There’s about fifteen problems, all devoid of answers with no work to speak of. It looks like he hasn’t even started.
Trying to curb her annoyance, since it’s really looking like he’s expecting her to do his homework for him, she puts the sheet down between them.
“Which problem do you need help with?”
Percy shrugs. “How about the first one?”
She looks at the first problem: (12 – 9i) + (32 – 6i). Simple enough.
“What aren’t you understanding about the problem?” she asks slowly, trying to figure out where to even start with this since he has no work to look at.
“Well, one of those numbers doesn’t even exist so…”
Glancing at him, she tries to figure out if he’s actually struggling with this or trying to get her to do it for him. She can’t tell, but as a tutor she has to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Taking a deep breath, she begins to explain.
“Well, it’s pretty straightforward. Just remember that the imaginary numbers go together and the real numbers go together. Your answer will be the in the same format, real number plus or minus the imaginary number. Why don’t you try it out and I’ll see afterwards?”
She’s throwing him a bone here, and surprisingly enough, Percy nods. So she sits there, waiting for him to finish working it out.
A minute later, he hands her the notebook and asks if he’s done it right. He hasn’t but it’s close. She points out where he went wrong and he fixes it, getting it right.
By the fourth one, he’s gotten the hang of it. “Hey, this isn’t so bad,” he remarks after she tells him he got it right.
He’s got a contagiously wide smile and she looks down to hide the smile that’s forming on her face too. Percy’s actually doing his own work and she hates that she jumped to conclusions at the beginning. Thankfully though, she hadn’t acted on them.
“Do you mind if I stay to finish this so you can check my work?” he asks.
She doesn’t mind at all. (Especially since she, very unfortunately, notices his hands and they’re like…really nice). She tries to keep her eyes on the book in front of her.
She’s read the same paragraph three times by the time he’s done.
“You got these three wrong, but other than that,” she hands the homework back to him after looking it over, “you’re good.”
“Cool!” He’s got that smile again and she awkwardly nods in response. “I’ll fix these later, I got to get to practice, but thank you Annabeth!”
“No problem.” And with a small wave from her and another smile from him, he’s off. (And she definitely doesn’t watch him walk away).
This time he beelines directly towards her, wearing that charming smile of his.
“Percy,” she responds, hoping her face isn’t showing the heat she feels at the reception. There’s no real reason for it, she’s just easily flustered. Well…around him she’s easily flustered.
“How are you doing?” he asks, once again sliding in the seat across from her.
She shrugs shyly in response.
Her shoots her a curious look. “Are you just quiet, or do you not like me?” he jokes lightly.
Unable to stop the heat on her face now, she rushes to explain herself.
“I like you.”
And, of course, it comes out a lot more rushed than she meant it to and he chuckles at the response. He had been joking and she had responded awkwardly. She swears she’s not always like this.
“Good to know,” he responds, shooting her a wink. She wants to melt into the floor out of embarrassment.
Luckily, he moves past the moment and gets out his homework.
“So, I had a question on this problem….”
It’s about the distance and midpoint of complex numbers and she patiently walks him through the process.
“You’re a genius,” he marvels when they get to the solution. She’s really not, but it doesn’t stop her from ducking her head at the praise.
He’s got practice, again, but he’s packing his stuff up earlier than last time and she hates that she wishes he had more questions on his homework.
(And maybe her brain is making it up, but he’s kinda lingering a bit too.)
“Thank you again, Annabeth.” The words are genuine and this time she manages a small smile back.
Percy Jackson, she’s learned, is not dumb. He picks up on concepts after she explains them and, yet, he shows up nearly every day. Sometimes, as she’s noticed, his questions are on concepts that she’s already covered.
Not that she minds. It’s just a little…strange.
Regardless, it’s become almost a routine for him to walk into the library with his backpack slung over his shoulder with that smile and a loud greeting of “Annabeth!” that causes some of the librarians to look over.
So today, when she’s greeted by neat blonde hair, it throws her for a loop. Usually, Percy is the first to get to her before anyone else.
“Annabeth?” It’s a quiet question and she looks up to see sharp blue eyes.
“Do you also tutor calc?”
Technically, no, since she’s in the class right now, but she can probably figure it out.
“What’s your question?”
He smiles and slides into the seat across from her. It’s weird not to see Percy there, especially this early.
“I’m stuck on this one problem—oh, I’m Jason by the way.”
Jason…the name sounds familiar, but before she can think about it, he’s sliding over a notebook. It’s a complex derivative, and he’s already got his work laid out so she can see where he went wrong.
She follows his logic and figures out where he went wrong, but just as she’s about to explain, a familiar ocean-y scent makes her look up.
Percy Jackson has silently walked up to the table wearing a frown in place of his usual smile.
Jason looks up, raising an eyebrow at his tone. “Percy.”
“What are you doing here?”
Jason rolls his eyes. “What do you think? I’m getting math help.”
Percy’s face slips into a little bit of a pout as the two guys look at each other. Clearly, there’s some unsaid conversation going on that Annabeth is just not getting.
“Percy is the one that told me about you,” Jason turns to her, “said you’re a genius at math.”
Percy looks up and mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like regret as he slides into the seat to her right. It’s weird having him closer and she gets momentarily distracted by how soft his hair looks.
“Um,” she says, realizing that she hasn’t responded to Jason. “I don’t know about that, but uh, I figured out what you need to change.”
Focusing her attention on his notebook, she walks him through the part of the derivative he messed up. “You need to do the 2x last…”
Jason nods, making the changes as she explains them until her gets to the end.
“That makes sense,” he says, looking over his work. “I was trying to differentiate this part first.”
“A common mistake,” she replies with a smile. Out of the corner of her eye, Percy’s frown deepens.
Jason also notices and shoots Percy a deadpan look before turning back to her.
“Well, thank you Annabeth!” Jason starts to pack his stuff up and Percy’s shoulders slump a little.
“Wait, actually,” he stops himself from standing up. An audible sigh is heard from Percy’s direction.
Jason looks like he’s fighting to keep a smile off his face as he speaks.
“Maybe you’re already in it, but have you considered trying out for the Mathletes?”
She shakes her head. “No…”
Jason smiles. “Seems like you’d be a good fit. I considered it but practice takes up all my time.”
He turns to Percy with a smirk. “Speaking of, see ya there.”
And that’s when it clicks where she’s heard Jason’s name before. He’s also on the football team.
Percy glares at the back of his head as he walks out the library. He’s still frowning when Annabeth turns to him.
“Are you okay?”
His face clears when he turns to look at her. “Better now that I’m here with you.” The wink at the end brings a blush to her face. He’s not…he’s not actually flirting with her, is he?
“Right...uh…what did you need help with?” She stutters out, trying not to think about it too much.
“Oh, uh, this problem.”
She swears they’ve gone over the polar form of complex numbers already. Even Percy isn’t paying as close attention as he normally does.
They’re not that close but it’s clear something’s on his mind, so she decides to take the chance.
“Is something going on?”
His eyes focus on hers, and she might be drowning for a second in the sea-green. He shakes his head. “No, sorry…uh,” he hesitates for a moment, “there’s a pretty big game this Friday and scouts are going to be there.”
She nods, it makes sense that Percy’s trying to continue playing in college.
“I’m sure you’ll do great.” It doesn’t sound as reassuring as she wants it to but she does believe in it.
He shoots her a half-smile. “Thanks Annabeth.”
“So,” he says, setting aside the math homework, “what do you want to major in?”
She shrugs. “Not sure yet, probably biology or math.”
He smiles. “You are a math whiz.”
Shaking her head, she smiles shyly back. “Nah…but maybe Mathletes would be fun.”
He frowns for a second. “Right, Jason’s recommendation…”
“Are you guys…friends?” She can’t help but ask, there was clearly some tension between the two.
Percy sighs. “He’s my ‘supposed’ best friend.”
Percy shakes his head. “He likes to tease me—you know what, it’s not important. So are you gonna do it?”
Letting the subject drop, she shrugs. “Maybe…”
He leans in, closer to her than he’s ever been since the change in seating and she can feel the heat on her cheeks.
“I’m sure you’d do great,” he quotes.
Ducking her head, she laughs quietly. “That’s fair,” she relents. “But I do think you’ll do great…even though I’ve never seen you play.”
His eyes widen. “You’ve never been to a game before?”
She looks down as she shrugs. “Not really my thing…”
“You should come!” he declares. “I think you’ll have more fun than you think.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Friday finds her walking nervously to the football field.
She did think about it. Percy hadn’t brought it up the following day, where he’d thrown all pretense of math aside just to chat for a half hour. But the hopeful smile he gave her before he left had stuck in her mind.
So here she is.
The place is packed, and she awkwardly walks along the side, hovering between the concessions and the bleachers, feeling very much out of place.
The football team is piled up on the side and she looks around for a glimpse of Percy. Not that she’d talk to him or anything, but just to see a familiar face. She catches his messy black hair for a second before he puts his helmet on and memorizes his number. Seventeen.
“Annabeth?” A voice to her right makes her jump. It’s Jason, all dressed up in his football gear, shooting her a smile.
Brushing a lock of hair to the side, she’s feeling more awkward and out of place by the minute. Jason seems to notice.
“You here alone?”
“Follow me.” They walk towards where the team is gathered.
“Piper!” he yells as they get close. A pretty brunette cheerleader bounds over. “This is Annabeth, she’s by herself, can you introduce her to the hype team?”
At the sound of her name, Percy turns around so quickly he almost knocks someone else over. (Not that she was once again watching him out of the corner of her eye or anything).
Percy Jackson, in all his football glory, is jogging over. And goddamn, she should have come to previous games because he looks unfairly good. Her decision to show up feels better by the second.
He takes off his helmet, leaving his black hair even messier than before and she has to resist the urge to run her fingers through it.
She shrugs shyly. “I was convinced…”
He smirks. “Must have been a really convincing guy.” He takes a step closer and she knows her face is completely red now.
“Maybe even…handsome?” He raises an eyebrow in question. There’s no way she’s answering that question, but she can’t help the smile that comes to her face. She raises a hand over her mouth as if it would block it, but Percy’s smirk widens and she knows she’s failed.
“Good.” He smiles warmly. “I’m glad you came, by the way.”
He makes a face at the sound of his name that only she can see and she can’t help but giggle. She hasn’t felt this giddy in…forever. “Gotta go, but…I’ll be looking for you in the stands.” And with another wink, he jogs away.
Annabeth feels like she might actually pass out.
Luckily, Piper, the cheerleader from earlier, has stepped up. She’s wearing a big smile on her face and Annabeth realizes that although it felt like it had been just the two of them talking, Piper had probably seen that entire exchange.
“I got to go too,” she says. “But see that girl with the red hair over there?” Piper points to a girl who waves back. “That’s Rachel, you can sit with her, join the hype team.”
“Thank you,” Annabeth says, still trying to fight the blush on her face.
Rachel is very nice, so is Grover, and she finds herself getting caught up in the wave of excitement as they watch the game unfold.
Annabeth doesn’t know that much about football, (and if she’s being honest, she mostly focuses on number seventeen), but it’s clear they have a good team and Percy’s really good player.
By the time halftime rolls around, their school has the lead and she’s screamed more than she ever has in her life.
She, along with Rachel and Grover, make their way back down to where the team and cheerleaders have gathered. Piper runs up to them, breathless, with a smile.
“We can so win this!”
Rachel is quick to respond, but the rest of the conversation is lost on her as Percy runs up. His hair is damp and sweaty but he’s also sporting a wide smile. Team spirit is clearly at a high.
“So what do you think of your first ever football game?” he asks, leaning over the fence that separates them.
She pretends to think about it. “Not bad.”
Percy raises an eyebrow, a curious smile overtaking his face. “Are you…banting with me?”
Her heart is already racing too fast from the game, but it quickens at this words.
“Maybe…” she responds, shyly.
He leans even closer to her, eyes twinkling. “Or…is it flirting?”
There’s a moment of bated breath as she tries to figure out how she’s going to answer that.
Saved by the coach. Percy makes a face again. “Don’t think you won’t have to answer that later,” he says as he walks backward.
She just smiles and gives a small wave as he pouts at her, before turning around and jogging the rest of the way.
Annabeth is suddenly extremely glad for the fence in front of her because she needs some grip on reality.
But her grip quickly slips at the end of the game when, amidst the cheering, Percy’s arm comes across her shoulders in a half-hug.
The librarian actually shushes him this time because he’s way too loud this time.
He slides excitedly into the seat next to her. (This has apparently also become part of the routine. It’s great that he’s closer but she’s not sure her heart can take it).
“Remember that scout that talked to me after the last game?” he continues excitedly. “I got a letter from the college! I think I have a shot at a football scholarship!”
“That’s great news!” She smiles widely back, so genuinely happy for him. “Told you you’d do great.”
“Well, it was my best playing,” he brags as she rolls her eyes. But the smile doesn’t leave her face.
“But,” he leans forward, lowering his voice to a whisper. “I think it’s ‘cause my lucky charm was there.” He winks at her before leaning back.
If he’s insinuating what she thinks he’s insinuating…well, it doesn’t matter because her face is already burning red.
Percy just smiles at her floundering for a response and stands up. “See ya later.”
With a wave, he’s off and for the first time she’s glad that he has practice early today.
Percy Jackson, as she’s learned, loves to leave her speechless. She looks down at the text message on her phone. It’s about time she got him back.
Percy’s face when he sees her next game is priceless.
It’s Piper’s old outfit and she’s not actually allowed to do anything. (It had taken Piper pleading with the coach to even allow her to be there).
But it’s enough.
His jaw literally drops. It’s the first time since she’s met him that he’s the one unable to form words.
She waves. “Hey.”
Percy blows the hair out of his mouth as he blatantly stares, slowly walking up to her. “Wow…uh…hey.”
She can’t help but flush under his gaze despite that fact that he’s the one struggling with speaking and she has the upper hand.
“So…” she tries for conversation. “Homecoming game…” She pulls at a strand of her hair from her ponytail nervously. Percy’s eyes follow the movement.
“Yeah…” he clears his throat. “So, you going to be cheering for me?”
“For the team. So you guys win,” she corrects. (Who’s she kidding, she’s definitely cheering for him.)
He leans closer to her. “I’ve got my lucky charm, we’re definitely going to win. So I wouldn’t worry about that.”
She doesn’t know how to respond, too caught up in how dark his eyes have gotten.
“So,” he continues, “you should cheer for me.”
“What do I get out of it?” she asks, mustering up some courage.
“How about a date to homecoming?”
And just like that all the courage is gone as she tries to remember how to breathe.
Percy ignores the call. “What do you say?”
She can’t stop the blush (or smile) from overtaking her face. “Win and we’ll see.”
“Hey, you’re the math tutor, right?”
Arms come to encircle her waist and she doesn’t need to turn around to recognize the ocean scent.
“Depends,” she says, turning around in his arms. “Who’s asking?”
“No?” Percy frowns and she smiles as she runs her hand through his (very soft) hair.
“Why no for me?” He prods, holding her tighter.
“Well,” she begins, leaning forward to stop right by his cheek. “You choose then, math tutor or girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend, I choose girlfriend.”
She smiles, pecking him on the cheek. “That’s what I thought.”
But Percy, being Percy, can’t ever leave well enough alone.
“Or…” he pauses to wiggle his eyebrows, “since it’s a game night, I’ll take cheerleader.”
“Percy!” she pushes him gently, face already starting to flush at the words.
He just laughs and leans down to kiss her properly. “See you at my dorm later.”
Walking away, he shoots her his signature wink. It still brings a flutter to her heart and she turns back to her laptop with a content sigh.
The math TA position is still available, and she should really fill it out. But she can’t help the way her mind drifts to thoughts of when she’ll be able to see her boyfriend later.
She might not be a cheerleader, but she’s still cheering for him.
(But she might have also acquired a uniform, just in case).