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Social Deviance

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Deviance: The violation of social rules and conventions.

"Hey, Grover," says Percy. "Did you get the notes from this morning? I'm missing the definition for 'deviant subculture', and I can't lose points on the notes again. I'm already going to bomb the test."

"You're not going to bomb the test," says Grover. He turns his school-issued Chromebook for Percy to see.

Deviant subculture: a group that's developed norms and values different than those of the dominant population.

What does that even mean? Percy writes it down on his document anyway.

The rest of Percy's friends take a seat at their study table in the library, causing quite a commotion.

"Hey, hey!" says Leo. "What are you guys doing for your sociology project?"

Leave it to Mr. Brunner to assign a massive project the first day back from spring break. On the bright side, it's a partner project, but on the other hand, it's a research project on a deviant subculture, complete with a presentation.

"Probably a cult or something," Percy answers. "That should be easy to research, right?"

Grover takes a bite from his granola bar. "I want to talk about hippies during the environmental movement."

The others disregard this entirely. Leo claims a seat across from Jason. The Stoll brothers take the far end of the table.

"Wait 'til I tell you guys about my grand plan to get a prom date!" says Connor.

His brother Travis, a second-year senior, rolls his eyes. "This'll be the third time I've heard about this today."

"Who are you asking?" Jason asks. He presses his pencil against the scar on his lip.

Connor shrugs. "Not sure yet. It doesn't matter though. My promposal is going to be just that awesome!"

"Promposal?" Percy asks. He always thought that's just something people do in movies.

"Oh, that's right. You're new this year," says Travis. "Goode goes all out. People put on these public declarations. I saw a guy zip line off the roof a couple of years ago."

"That's almost as cool as my plan," says Connor.

Connor begins to explain his plan and Percy zones out in a panic. He peers into his backpack. He and his mom were up all night making chocolate chip cookies to give to the girl he's asking to the prom today.

Well, the girl he was going to ask to prom today. His promposal is a joke compared to the stories his friends are swapping.

He sighs and stares off to the far side of the library, the silent area. That's where she always is during study hall.

Annabeth Chase is a wonder, in her own unique kind of way.

Sure, she's not conventionally hot like the popular kids. The most dressed-up Percy's ever seen her was on Halloween when seniors got to wear costumes to school. She looked so cute in her sweater and green and silver striped tie.

Most days, however, she wears jeans and a t-shirt with a book reference Percy doesn't understand. He wants to ask, but he knows better than to do that.

He watches as she opens her sticker-covered laptop and types away, far too fast to be working on actual homework. What is she writing? Percy wants to ask, but he knows better than to do that.

He knows better than to talk to her. She may be a nerd, but she's a scary nerd. Percy was on the receiving end of one of her famous stormy grey death glares this morning when he got caught staring at her in sociology. Let's just say he never wants to be in that position again.

It's easy to think that she's all bark and no bite. What's the worst she could do, stab somebody with one of her Hot Topic pins?

Here's the thing: she doesn't have to bite, because-

"Hey there. I'm Octavian. What 'cha writing?"

Percy snaps out of his thoughts when the new kid approaches Annabeth. He's sickly, like a scarecrow.

Annabeth furrows her eyebrows and speaks quietly, most likely informing him that they're in the silent study area.

Octavian's new at Goode. He doesn't know any better. Yet.

"Aw, lighten up." He leans down, much too close for comfort. "You'd be so pretty if you smiled."

"Bug off. I'm working." She's giving this guy a signature Annabeth Chase death glare, and he still won't back off.

"You don't mean that. C'mon, let me read your-"

"I'm pretty sure she told you to leave her alone."

Annabeth doesn't have to bite because wherever she is, Clarisse La Rue is always lurking.

"Annabeth, is this freak bothering you?" Clarisse asks.

Octavian crosses his arms. "Excuse me. We were talking, so if you could leave us alone-"

And suddenly Octavian's on the floor, jolting back and forth from the aftershocks of Clarisse's notorious taser.

Annabeth covers her eyes, but Percy can tell it's just for show; she's peeking through her fingers.

Everyone's watching now.

Travis laughs. "Poor new kid; hit by Clarisse's Maimer on the first day."

"You mean Lamer," says Leo.

"Her taser has a name?" Percy asks. He continues to watch as the school resource officer drags Clarisse off, no doubt to the principal's office for an in-school suspension.

"I've got it!" says Connor. "I'll ask Annabeth to the prom! Dibs!"

Percy grips the bottom of his chair, not caring that he just stuck his fingers in a wad of chewed-up gum. "You- you can't call dibs on a person..."

"What's wrong, Seaweed Brain?" Connor asks, calling him by the nickname he earned from the swim team. "I thought you didn't even know what a promposal was until today."

He's right- kind of- and there's no stopping Connor, so Percy resigns and zips his cookie tin away in his backpack. He'll crinkle up the note and feed the sweets to his friends at lunch. Speaking of lunch-

"Guys, c'mon," says Grover. "They're serving enchiladas today!"

Who are they to miss out on enchiladas? They follow Grover out into the hallway and towards the cafeteria.

Percy might have missed his chance to ask Annabeth to the prom, but at least he'll be among the first in line for the only meal the cafeteria can get right.

"Percy Jackson!" yells Will Solace, head cheerleader and president of Goode High's acapella ensemble. That boy has so much pep, it's a wonder he's dating Nico di Angelo.

Percy almost screams when members of the acapella group burst from various hiding spots. Some of them even pop out of lockers. It's scarier than any haunted house he's ever seen.

"Someone is sending you an extra special promposal!" Will blows into a pitch pipe and the singing begins.

Percy never knows what to do when people sing "Happy Birthday", let alone a public serenade.

There's no escape. The singers are clogging the entire hallway, so Percy just sticks his hands in his sweatshirt pocket and shuffles his feet. At least they're talented. The song is a cover of "Dance with Me Tonight" by Olly Murs.

When it's finally over, Drew Tanaka emerges at the front. "How about it, Percy? Be my prom date?"

This is so awkward. People are filming; Percy's answer is probably going to be all over social media.

He'd like to go to the prom, but ever since he made up his mind about who he wanted to ask, he hasn't been able to imagine going with anybody but Annabeth.

"Look, this is a really cool promposal, but, uh, I'm not sure I'm going to the prom," he says. Just for good measure, he adds, "Sorry."

Drew looks embarrassed, but she's popular. She'll get over it.

Jason applauds the acapella performance. "What a great show, everybody! Bravo!"

Percy's other friends join in. It's nice of them to try to play this awkward situation off, but it's not working.

"We'll meet you guys in the cafeteria," says Connor. "I have to get ready for my big promposal."

"I have to help him get ready," says Travis. The brothers speed into the bathroom, and Percy begins to worry. He's not sure Annabeth will like something so public, like, for example, an acapella performance, or whatever the Stolls have up their sleeves.

And if Percy's day hasn't been bad enough, the enchiladas are gone.

"I'm so hungry, I might eat this soda can, aluminum and all!" says a distraught Grover.

Percy should share his cookies- Annabeth's cookies- with his friends since they're hungry and there's no possible way he'll get his dream date. But for some reason, he holds off.

"Ladies, gentlemen, and gentle-thems!" Travis shouts from atop a table. "During my first senior year, I stood on this very table and asked Katie Gardner to the prom. We've been together for a whole year! Now, get ready for some more Stoll brother magic!"

Turns out Travis's speech is just a distraction from the soap and water being poured in a steady stream across the floor.

A sight for sore eyes is Connor, wearing swim trunks and arm floaties.

"Ah, my eyes!" shouts Leo.

"Hello cafeteria populus!" Connor shouts. "Today, I'm going to convince one Miss Annabeth Chase to accompany me to the prom by sliding across... The Thrill Ride O' Love!" He gestures to the makeshift Slip 'N Slide.

Travis drags Annabeth away from her lunch- and her book- and leads her towards Connor.

Connor slaps his pasty skin and rubs his palms together like a pro-swimmer.

Redness dusts the bridge of Annabeth's nose. It's a cute look on her, but Percy knows from recent experience that it's one of embarrassment.

Everything happens in super-ultra-slow-motion, but not in a cool way. It's a disaster.

Connor throws himself head-first into the suds, quickly ricocheting off a table, tripping poor Annabeth.

Percy wants to come to her rescue, help her up and walk her to the nurse's office, tell off the Stolls, tase them... or something like that.

But he can't move. He's frozen like he just made eye contact with Medusa.

Where's Clarisse and her taser when you need her?

Annabeth's a little classier than Clarisse though. She stumbles to her feet, refusing help from the Stolls, gives them one of her famous death glares, and then hobbles off.

Percy is no longer upset about not getting an enchilada; he's lost his appetite.

He can't pay attention during sixth-period physics, and it's not even worth trying if he can't hear Annabeth correct the teacher every so often.

So he just sulks and plays '2048 Cupcakes'.

"You alright?" Grover whispers. "You've been moping since lunch. Is it about what happened with the Stolls?"

When Percy doesn't answer, Grover continues talking. "Annabeth and I were close in middle school; we went to the same summer camp. Trust me, she's tough. She'll be alright."

"I still feel awful. I should've told Connor that she wouldn't like that sort of thing," says Percy.

"If you feel bad, you could give her those cookies you've been hiding all day."

Percy gasps involuntarily.

"Don't think I wouldn't smell your mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies," says Grover.

When the bell rings, Percy decides to take Grover's advice. His English teacher never takes attendance anyway.

He can't help but smile at the sight of Annabeth sitting on a cot in the nurse's office. Her ankle is splinted, but she looks relatively unhurt. Her forearm is covered in a sleeve of black and blue ink. She must have drawn on herself to pass the time.

"Mind if I join you?" Percy asks, keeping a safe distance. The last thing he wants is to upset her. He's having a bad day too, but he's sure it doesn't even begin to compare to Annabeth's.

She moves her pin-covered backpack to the ground and pats the space next to her.

"Are you alright?" Percy asks, gesturing to her ankle.

She sighs. "I'm pretty sure it's sprained. I'm supposed to stay here until I can get a ride to urgent care, but my dad works all the time and my stepmom didn't pick up the phone."

"Do you need a ride?" Percy asks. "I don't mind."

Annabeth purses her lips. "I wouldn't want to make you go out of your way. Besides, I'll need Helen to bring my insurance card. Thanks though."

They sit in silence for a minute, but Percy can't stand silence. "I'm sorry about what Connor did. He and Travis have good intentions, but they're also..." Percy trails off, looking for the right word.

"Deviants?" Annabeth supplies.

"Yeah."

She goes back to drawing on her arm. "You don't have to stay with me. You probably have more important things to do."

"Never!" Percy says, a little too enthusiastically. "I mean... Do you want a cookie?" He opens the cookie tin from his backpack and holds it out, inviting her to indulge.

"Wow, are these homemade?" She happily takes a cookie.

"Yeah, my mom and I baked them last night." He decides not to mention the reason why they made cookies. That's not what's important right now.

"They're really good," Annabeth says.

"My mom makes the best cookies. I have more if you want," Percy offers.

She takes another cookie with inky fingers.

Percy's completely awestruck that this is actually happening. They keep it light, for the most part, talking about hobbies and music, but they graze some serious topics too. He has a feeling that he and Annabeth have a lot in common.

Percy clears his throat. "I like your sleeves. You're good at drawing."

"Thanks," she says. "I want to get real ones someday. Tattoos, I mean. I've had a lot of people come and go in my life, so I guess I've always liked the idea of having something permanent... shoot, you don't want to hear all this."

"No, it's fine. I can actually relate. My dad left when I was a kid and my mom and I move around a lot."

Before it can get any deeper, though, the nurse returns. "Annabeth, your stepmother is here."

"Thank you; I'll be right out." Annabeth puts her pens away and shrugs her jacket on.

"Here, take the rest of these," Percy hands her the cookie tin. "My mom and I have more at home."

"Thanks," she says. "But I'd hate to steal your tin. We'll have to arrange for a time I can return it. How's March 27th? Around seven o'clock?"

"Uh, sure?"

And with that, Annabeth leaves the nurse's office.

That's an oddly specific date, Percy thinks to himself as he walks towards his locker. March 27th isn't particularly close; it'll only take a few days to finish the cookies, right?

Then the realization hits Percy, or rather, a big orange banner falls from the ceiling and hits him in the face.

The banner reads, "PROM: MARCH 27th AT 7:00!"