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High school is rough. I should know. The hallways are hardly ever empty, there are always papers flying everywhere, and sometimes your locker jams. Then, there's the teachers that seem like they have it out for you, namely my Italian teacher, Mr. di Angelo. He hated me for some reason, and I understood why, but that didn't mean he had to call me out on everything. I hated it when teachers did that.

I walked down the crowded hallways—and by walked, I mean evaded every person, trying not to run into them or step on the backs of their shoes, and avoided getting hit in the face by anyone or anything—with my Italian textbook tucked in my arm and my homework about 75% done, aimed for my next class, which I was dreading with every fiber of my being. My girlfriend of a year and a half, Annabeth Chase, babbled about something she found interesting about the architecture of the Roman colosseum as we made our way to our next class. I nodded to tell her I was listening, but I really wasn't.

Most guys my age were in basketball or some sport, but I'd always been fascinated by the bass guitar and music in its entirety. People told me to go out for swimming, which I would be absolutely amazing at, but I was unable to maintain a good enough GPA to be able to participate, even with a girlfriend as smart as Annabeth.

She waved goodbye to me as I entered the gloomy torture chamber that was known as the Italian classroom. I sighed, sitting down in my assigned desk, which was next to a girl with black hair, the tips of it dyed blue.

Her name was Thalia, and we'd been friends when we were younger, both of us wanting to start a band, but we never actually were able to because of other kids' lack of interest. Her younger brother wanted to join, too, but he was just kinda annoying. After then, in middle school, we sort of drifted apart. She joined this skater group called "The Hunters of Artemis," and we went our separate ways. Mainly because we never had time to hang out anymore.

"Buon giorno," said the devil himself as he entered the room and set his books on his desk.

I felt a shiver of foreboding course down my spine as he looked directly at me with his intimidating brown eyes.

"Everyone got their textbooks? If so, open them to page 293."

I huffed as I flipped to the page, which was a lesson assessment (those are just fancy words for a test that I didn't study for).

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯

The bell rang, the final bell for the day, and I left the Algebra classroom faster than Grover left to the cafeteria on enchilada day. Annabeth had tried tutoring me in math, but we both eventually gave up on it, mainly because I did not want to put the effort in. It was just not worth it. I wasn't going to use it. Ever. Not everyone is going to be a super smart engineer.

I just wished I could have a music class, just one, but my schedule didn't allow it. It was more focused on credits I needed so I could graduate. Then, maybe I could get a music scholarship and go somewhere that I could start a band.

Lost in my thoughts, I ran into a boy shorter and slighter than me.

"Oh, sorry," I told him, but the dark-haired boy only casted a glare at me.

I froze. I just pissed off the one person I shouldn't have. Nico di Angelo, the son of the teacher that absolutely hated me. Goodbye, graduation. Damn it.

Once he saw who ran into him, he turned his head away quickly and rushed in the opposite direction.

"What's his problem?" I muttered to myself before shrugging it off and walking to my locker.

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯

I slammed my fist against my locker in frustration—the lock jammed again. Now I was going to have to talk to a custodian and get it undone so I could get my stuff. I headed toward the main office to ask if the receptionist knew where one was.

As I reached the main office, I saw it. The most beautiful flier I had ever seen.

"Ready to rock your socks off?" the flier read in metal-band-style letters. "Bring your band to our annual Band-Off and win a musical scholarship! Preforming April 21st. Entrance deadline March 15th."

It seemed as if it was made just for me. The frustration I felt alleviated, and I resisted shouting in joy about the flier, which was manna from heaven. My mind was set. I was going to start a band and we were going to win that scholarship. I thought of the first person who would join a band with me and fantasized us playing together. I felt my stomach flutter in excitement.

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯

After getting my locker unstuck and coming home, I decided to text Thalia to tell her about my latest and greatest discovery.

You: Hey, Thals. I saw the coolest thing today.

Pinecone Face: What?

You: There was a flier for a band-off in April. The winner gets a scholarship to a music school. How cool is that?

Pinecone Face: Really?

You: Yeah it was in the office

Pinecone Face: we should make a band and get that because I'm surely not getting any of those other scholarships Annabeth had me apply for

You: Yeah that would be so cool

You: but who would join?

Pinecone Face: Jason can play electric, like me. He can join. Trust me he's not that annoying anymore.

You: I guess he can join. Annabeth told me once she could play piano and her friend Piper is really good at singing.

Pinecone Face: Yeah, they can be in it. You can play bass and backup vocals because you're not bad at singing

You: Is Thalia complimenting me?

Pinecone Face: don't let it get to your head. We still need a drummer.

You: I don't know anyone that can play drums very well.

Pinecone Face: How about asking one of those band kids?

You: I don't think the band kids have the best opinion on me

Pinecone Face: Why?

You: well, I kinda accidentally set the band room on fire in sophomore year.

Pinecone Face: oh yeah, you were the one that did that?

You: Yeah.

Pinecone Face: Why am I not surprised

Pinecone Face: how did you even manage to do that

You: I don't remember.

Pinecone Face: well we need to find a drummer. We can have Annabeth help print out fliers and we can ask around for one.

You: Yeah we can do that

Pinecone Face: k I gtg.

You: k

Pinecone Face: Also if my contact name is pinecone face again I will personally murder you.

Pinecone Face: love ya, Perce.

Damn it.