He turned slightly, his eyes widening at the sound of his name, at the sound of that voice.

And there she was, flushed and surprised, her gray eyes shining almost inhumanely to where he wondered for a split second whether she might be a figment of his imagination.

"Percy?" she repeated, as though she couldn't believe it herself.

She was tan, no doubt from the summer sun. It had been a year since they'd parted, but he could still make out the small streak of gray in her golden locks. He could still trace the curve of her lips in his sleep, perfectly draw the slope of her nose from memory, could picture her stunning eyes for nights on end. He had tried—had desperately wished to forget her but found himself unable to.

He had been completely and utterly enchanted by the sway fo her hips when she walked, by her delicate giggle that melted into boisterous laughter, by her ability to glare at him one minute, then smile the next, by her tenacity and determination, by her fucking presence, by her.

"Annabeth," he breathed. The words were lost in the crowd, but he watched recognition flit across her features and lips curve slightly at the corners. He knew, knew, that she had read his lips, but it really, truly felt like she had read his mind—he found he didn't particularly mind delusion so he clung to it—momentarily, anyway, just in case she decided to reject him.

She took a tentative step towards him, something akin to confusion flickering in her eyes.

Annabeth had not seen him, not seen that face, not heard that voice since last January. When she had returned from school to find a package on her doorstep. Since the day she had cautiously regarded the strange box before carrying it into her apartment.

Once inside, Annabeth had placed the package on her kitchen counter and simply stared. She was not used to receiving packages. She had no far-reaching friends and did not trust online shopping. She tentatively ran her slender fingers over the corners of the box, her nail pulling at the tape holding it together.

Then she saw it, and she swore—fucking swore—her heart stopped.

It was postmarked in New York.

Could it be—no, surely not, he wouldn't—except he would, and he did.

She reached with trembling hands into the kitchen drawer and withdrew a knife. As delicately as she could, she used to the blade to tear at the seams of the container.

It was small, not tiny, but small nonetheless. She wondered what it could be, what it would be.

As the final piece of tape holding it together came undone, the box fell open loosely. Annabeth swallowed thickly and fought to dislodge her breath from where it was caught in the back of her throat. She could only see packing peanuts—an absurd amount of packing peanuts.

The blonde hastily placed the knife back in the drawer before staring nervously at the mysterious contents of the shipment. With her bottom lip caught between her teeth, Annabeth carefully reached into the mountain of white foam and rummaged around until her fingers curled around a rounded corner.

She inhaled sharply, desperately seeking air as she pulled the mysterious object from its container. It was a rectangle and blue and thin and—a movie?

Annabeth anxiously turned over the blue ray DVD and examined the cover. It displayed Percy's shirtless torso, the lower half of him obscured by a mermaid's tale, around him were two women, comically posed.

The image was hilarious. It was just as she'd imagined. It was perfect. It was—well, it was Percy. It was expectedly gutwrenching and the easy smile on his face brought melancholy memories to light.

The blonde tried to watch it that night, she really did, but she barely made it past the credits. The moment she saw him, heard his voice—that smooth fucking voice—there was an overabundance of silent tears streaming down her cheeks, catching on the edge of her jaw.

"Dad," he'd remarked softly, his stupid tale glimmering in the CGI water, "do you think they know we're down here—"

Her hand shot out for the remote and not a moment too soon, she had turned off the movie.

He'd spoken less than ten words before she'd become unable to bear it, willing to go to unimaginable lengths to extinguish the distress beginning to overwhelm her.

Annabeth then delicately removed the DVD from the player and placed it back in its container. She went to place it back in the box it had arrived in when she noticed a small slip of paper she had apparently overlooked in her desperation earlier.

Annabeth, it said, and the one word—that one word—expelled the breath from her lungs.

I know you probably don't want to hear from me, but I promised to take you to the premier—Annabeth swallowed harshly at that memory, of that hot summer day that seemed simultaneously so close yet so far away.

And this seemed like the next best thing,

Yours, Percy.

Not just Percy, no, never just Percy, no no noyours.


Annabeth carelessly threw the movie back into the box. She pulled it into her arms and carried it to her room where she shoved it under her bed, hoping to attend to it later. She laid in bed that day and didn't get back up until her stomach growled so loud it was impossible to ignore. But then, when she stood up and began to head into her kitchen, she caught sight of herself in the floor length mirror on the back of bedroom door.

There, on her chest, right over her heart, were Percy's words, his unique script, reverently transcribed onto her skin from how tightly she'd held onto them.

Annabeth sucked in a ragged breath, wiping frantically at her chest before stalking away from her reflection, choosing not to dwell on the seeming symbolic implications of the occurrence.

That was the last time she'd seen his face, the last time she'd heard his voice. She had never revisited the box, figuring it would bring her distress rather than the closure she sought for so long.

It was jarring to see him, especially like this. He was relaxed, seemingly in his element. His eyes were bright, his lips pulled into a disbelieving smile. Annabeth could only assume she was wearing the same expression.

She was.

"Annabeth," Percy breathed. It was less a question and more a strangled realization.

"How?' Annabeth asked, stepping towards him with her arms outstretched, wanting to feel him, to touch him, to make sure he wasn't some alcohol addled dream.

"I—I applied in the fall," he spilled, moving clumsily towards her. "Got accepted on a swimming scholarship—put down my deposit—registered—"

"No," Annabeth shook her head, unable to stop the nervous bubble of laughter that emptied from her lips at his rambling. "No, not how did you get in, how are you here?"

"It's my party. I—" he swallowed, his pink dipping out to moisten his lips. He was mesmerized for a second, by that laugh—her laugh. "I threw it for you."

"How did—" the blonde started, before catching sight of rapid movement through her peripheral vision. The room suddenly widened, and, while she was no longer focused solely on Percy; she noticed they had begun to draw a crowd. "Can we—uh—go somewhere private?" Annabeth requested suddenly, turning to glance up at him with a pleading look.

"Okay," Percy agreed, his blue-green eyes—the ones she had worried she would never see again—glued to hers as his fingers threaded through hers.

Annabeth could hardly contain her sharp intake of breath at his action but blamed the spike of her heartbeat on the movement the followed. Before she could say another word, he was whisking her through the crowd of people and up the stairs. He led to her a cozy bedroom decorated with green trimming.

Percy silently let go of her hand and took a seat on the bed, knotting his hands in his lap. He looked nervous—worried even—as he twitched unevenly in his place.

"So," he began after a minute of awkward, jolted tension. "How has school been for you?"

"Good," Annabeth replied, clearly bemused with the line of questioning. "I mean—wait, no—what the fuck, Percy?"

"Uh—" Percy said plainly and licked his lips. "Same? It's been good for me too—"

"No," Annabeth shook her head wildly, her curls falling into her eyes, splaying across her forehead. "What the fuck is happening? How are you here? I thought I would never see you again. I don't understand—"

"Well, then let me explain," Percy requested, putting an end to her nervous scattered thoughts.

"Okay," Annabeth nodded, swallowing an I missed you and strangling the I love you caught dangerous close to her larynx.

"After I left your apartment," the green-eyed boy began, "I wanted to respect your wishes and leave you alone, so I finished my movie and tried to go back to my normal life." He frowned at that, his brows furrowing and his eyes darting to his hands in his lap. "I tried and I tried to resume my life in LA, but I realized something. After several weeks of feeling unusually empty, I realized not only did I miss you, but I missed the genuine connection. I missed knowing someone liked me—someone loved me—for me, not for my success or my money."

Annabeth couldn't help but gasp at his use of the love, the word that had been fluttering through her head all summer, flickering just out of reach since he'd left.

"And I realized, that if my career was going to be a deterrent of intimate and genuine friendship, if it was going to keep me away from people like you, and Tyson, and my mother then it's not worth it. From that day forward, I set out to be a normal teenager. I wanted to try it out again, to see if I could go back."

The blonde wetted her lips nervously, suddenly guilty that Percy's feelings towards her might have led him to quit acting, to put his career on hold, the very thing she had refused to do, the line she had refused to cross for him.

"I finished my last year of high school and desperately held onto the notion that we might meet again, that someday, in some world, we would find each other and hold onto what we used to have—I knew, even then, that it was a positively idiotic idea, but I couldn't help but hope."

What we used to have, the words echoed through Annabeth's brain. Did that mean what she thought it did? Why had it been in the past tense? Did he—did he not—

She couldn't—wouldn't—finish the thought.

"Anyway," he shook his head, chuckling to himself. Annabeth might have laughed with him had she not absolutely captivated by the natural curve of his lips, by the sway of his hair, by the way he had aged over the last year. "I heard about this blonde girl with a scary high IQ and thought maybe—just maybe—that might be you. So I threw a party," he grinned, wringing his hands in his lap, "then I threw another—and another and another."

"How Gatsby-esque of you," Annabeth giggled, forcing herself to meet his piercing eyes.

"Gatsby didn't get the girl," Percy noted, his brow taking a wry arch.

"He didn't," she agreed, unable to hide the smile slipping across her lips at the reference. She summoned her courage—and the two shots of vodka running through her system—and said, "but you might."

His eyes widened, his mouth tilting into a lopsided grin that was suddenly both gutwrenching and exciting.

"How have you been?" Percy asked her, in an attempt to be casual.

"Good—great, even," Annabeth laughed, her lips permanently pulled up. "Did you end up choosing to study Marine Biology?"

"Yes," Percy nodded. He took her hand in his, his tender touch sparking an uncontrollable nostalgia within the blonde. "Do you—do you think we could talk about us?" he ventured, his beautiful blue-green eyes vulnerable and questioning.

"Okay," Annabeth agreed, unconsciously licking her lips.

"I know it's been a year—more than a year actually—but I still feel the same way," Percy's eyes flickered to hers, his gaze questioning. "So if—if you—um—reciprocate those feelings, then maybe we could pick up where we left of?"

Annabeth considered his words, allowing warm memories of sun and ocean and saltwater to ensnare her senses. She had cried over him for days—weeks—months—until the memories had turned bittersweet, before long they were just bitter, leaving a dark taste in her mouth. Despite the grief, Percy had caused her, however, her heart could help but ache at the prospect of going back to those simpler days. She wanted that—simple sunny days of chaste kisses and fluttering butterflies—but—

No, she wasn't like that anymore. A year could do a lot to a person and it had. Her year had changed her, caused her to realize what she wanted and forced her to come to terms with what she was willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it. She was different. He was different.

They were different.

Annabeth parted her lips, carefully slipping the flat of her tongue over her teeth as she mulled over her thoughts.

"I don't know that that's the best idea," she finally revealed in barely less than a whisper.

She chanced a glance in his direction and the second she saw his expression, she regretted her actions. She could barely face the sadness reflected in his eyes. The deep blue looked so similar to the color from that last rainy day in the summer.

"You don't feel the same," Percy nodded. "I should have realized." He was threading his fingers aggressively. "I shouldn't have expected you to wait around for me—"

"No, no," Annabeth jumped in, wanting to spare him any additional anguish. "It's not that. I do feel the same."

"Then why—"

"Well," the blonde swallowed thickly, trying to explain. "I still feel the same about you, but you're not the same person I met last summer."

He frowned at her declaration, furrowing his brows together in that adorable expression she missed so much.

"And, just the same, I'm not the same person you fell in love." Annabeth bit her lip, trying not to mess this up—Gods, she hoped she wasn't messing this up. "So I propose we start fresh—well," she considered her words for a second. "Maybe only semi-fresh."

"What do you mean?" Percy asked, trying to soften the loud thumping of his heart at the sign of hope in her eyes.

"I mean we should go on a date," Annabeth expounded with a shy smile, a soft blush touching her sun-kissed skin. "And hopefully we'll have a good time, but there shouldn't be any pressure to fall in love instantly. We should try to get to know each other as—the new people we are rather than the people we used to be. If we don't do that, we'll both be entering a relationship with unrealistic expectations. We'll be setting ourselves up for failure," she finished with a shrug.

"Okay," Percy agreed slowly. "I guess there's no harm in getting to know you again, even though I'm pretty sure I would love any incarnation of you."

"Don't build me up like that," she smiled. "We'll see if you really feel like after our first date."

"I'll feel like that after the first minute," Percy assured her smoothly, his charming smile gliding effortlessly onto his face.

"Percy," Annabeth sighed as she shoved him, a serious undertone accompanying her playful movement.

"Okay, okay," Percy laughed. "I promise to reserve all judgments until after our first date."

"Okay," Annabeth smiled, unsure what else to say. Before they knew it, they were enveloped in a familiar silence—except it was far from silent, there were people screaming downstairs, a faint chant appearing to linger in the air—in the room, however, it was only the two of them. And as Annabeth stared into Percy's eyes, she knew, it didn't matter if he'd changed or if she'd changed, in the end, it would always be him, it would always be her.

It would always be them.

"So," Percy trailed off, his brows lifting suggestively as they reached her dorm room. "Third date. You know what that means, right?"

"Oh please, Percy," Annabeth rolled her eyes, reaching into her bag for her key. "As if I was waiting for some arbitrary, societally imposed deadline to have sex with you."

He chuckled. The sound was rich and it reverberated throughout his body. Percy missed it. He missed laughing so naturally and easily around another person, around his person.

"Besides," she found the key and pushed him aside to unlock her door, her eyes glued to him as she did. "It's not as if I haven't already seen all of you."

"That's not what I meant," Percy muttered mysteriously.

"What?" Annabeth questioned, her brows coming together to form a worried expression just as she managed to turn the knob of the door.

"Just wait," Percy smiled.

The blonde was confused but mostly suspiciously because her new friend, almost boyfriend, and definitely love had grown to love pranks over the past year, and, unfortunately, she had become the victim of too many of them.

"Percy—" Annabeth began steadily as she swung the door open. The air left her lungs at what she saw. Her entire room was covered in sticky notes.

She stormed into the center of the small room and was in the midst of contemplating which excruciating form of death she should subject Percy to when she spotted something else. The small paper squares all came together to form a heart. She hadn't seen it before, but once Percy had turned on the lights it had become clear.

Percy closed the door behind her. Annabeth heard the door slam but couldn't find it in herself to care as she further examined the paper slips. They were covered in writing. Annabeth narrowed her eyes to decipher the scribbled words when—

"I love you."

She whipped around, barely able to stand on her two feet as the confession washed over her. The words were like syrup and sweetness, like bubbles and bliss.

"W—what is all this?" Annabeth stuttered, trying to work through the situation in her head. She knew she was ignoring his heartfelt words, but she needed a moment to work through her own reaction before she could reply. Deep down she already knew what she was going to say, she figured she always knew, since the first time he'd taken her by the waist and helped her through an embarrassing dance, or—

No, perhaps it was when he'd answered the phone when no one else had. Perhaps it was that shattering moment, in his car when he'd pushed her off of him and told her the truth. That moment when he had managed to see through her walls and understand her, the true her. But, no—

It was the first time she'd ever seen him, ever shared a word with him. It was the moment in the VIP section when he had been just a guy, and she had been just a girl. When the tables were cleared and the playing feel seemingly leveled. It was the soft calming color of his eyes and the curve of his mischevious smile.

"I wrote on all of the sticky notes," he explained. "They all represent something I love about you."

"Oh," Annabeth said dumbly, her mind whirring at a speed she could no longer comprehend or control. "You—you love me."

"Yeah," Percy chuckled. "I always did, really."

"Oh," the blonde repeated, seemingly unable to close her mouth as she circled the room, carefully tracing the sticky notes—no, not sticky notes: love notes—with the tips of her fingers. Her eyes quickly flicked over the shorter ones, divulging in the intimacy of the moment.

... your eyes...

... your kindness...

... your bad bitch-ness...

... your midnight texts...

... your quips...

Then she lingered for an extra second on the longer ones, the ones that seemed to somehow embody the hundreds of lovely little moments they had shared.

... the way you reach for me at night, your arms seeking me out like a sunflower twisting towards the sun...

... your scary stories, the last of which managed to give me nightmares for at least week...

... the way you make me smile at just the sight of you...

... the way a tiny quirk of your lips can make me want to burn down the world just to make you smile...

... you you you...

"I fucking love you, Annabeth Chase," Percy announced suddenly, letting the adoration laced words slip off the tip of his tongue. "I would be the luckiest guy on the planet if you—wait," he stopped.

"What?" Annabeth asked, breathless, her fingers twitching before her. She watched him reach into his pocket and remove a small velvet box. He dropped to one knee. He was on one knee. He was on one knee. He was on one knee. He was going to—she wasn't ready. A boyfriend, yes. The love of her life, yes. But marriage, a family, no no no. She was in college. She had some much she wanted to accomplish.

She wasn't ready. He knew she wasn't ready.

"Will you do me the honor of being my girlfriend?" Percy queried, opening the box to reveal a purple ring pop.

Annabeth's mouth slid open.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" she asked, her lips pursed together dangerously.

"I'm sorry," Percy laughed loudly, throwing his head back. The sound rang in her ears, relaxing her muscles, forcing her to smile despite herself. "I couldn't resist seeing your face."

"That was a dick move." Annabeth crossed her arms over her chest.

"I know," he assured her, standing up to plant a chaste kiss on her cheek and take her in his arms. "I know we're too young and that it's too big of a step for us, but I really do love you."

"I love you, too," Annabeth whispered into his chest, allowing the hushed confession to envelop them both in a new light.

"Then be my girlfriend," Percy proposed, leaning back to meet her eyes.

"Okay," the blonde agreed, reaching up to curl her hands around his stubbled cheeks. "As long as you agree to be my boyfriend as well."

"I assumed it was implied," he breathed, his lips ghosting over her, sparks of old fireworks lighting up.

"I still want to hear you say it," Annabeth husked with a smile. "For equality's sake and all."

"Of course, I'll be your boyfriend," Percy grinned, his lips stretching wide. "I love you, after all."

"My roommate is gonna be pissed when she gets back," Annabeth warned, but she couldn't help but smile at the goofy curve of Percy's lips.

His eyes were glazed, no doubt dazed with love. She wondered if she looked the same.

"I love you," he replied simply.

"But I don't think I care," the blonde beamed.

"And you love me," Percy finished, the words that had for so long seemed forbidden and dangerous to Annabeth sliding warmly against her lips.

"I've been waiting for this moment almost a year a half," Annabeth admitted, her soft gray irises flicking up to meet Percy's sea green ones.

"Me too," he conceded, leaning down to capture her mouth with his.

a/n: welp, this is the end. It's so strange. I started this story my sophomore year of high school and god, sometimes I go back and read some of those initial chapters and they're literal shit (I will definitely be editing this whole story in the future). But still, I love this story because it's my firstborn. I have gotten so much support for this story and I thank each and every single one of you who stuck with me even though I kind of sucked at updating; I would update in rapid mode for like a month or two and then just go MIA, like I did for the last month.

Anyway, thank you, everyone who followed, favorited, and/or reviewed this story. Your support has meant everything to me. It's crazy that this is over. The ending has always been on the horizon for me, and now that it's here, I can't believe it. Hope you guys enjoyed the ending. I didn't want them to get married or anything bc I've read stories like that, and I think it's 1. dumb to get married so young and 2. unrealistic. I hope Percy's actions at the end weren't too fluffy.

If you guys liked my writing, I have a few other stories in the making. Dumb Luck is completed but it's a short, light-hearted college AU. I know I probably shouldn't plug my own writing, but I would recommend. It's one of my favorites. Treason is a pirate/princess AU and it's a wip. I am supposed to update weekly but... well, I try. Funny Business is a workplace AU. I'm about halfway done, and I know I haven't updated since November but I'm going to continue writing that now that this story is done.

Thank you all for going on this roller coaster ride of percabeth and angst and cringy lemons and romance. I loved every second of it and I hope y'all did as well, or at least 95% of it.

Well, guess this is the end. It's been a crazy couple of years yall