A/N: I know, I know: Percy and Annabeth are kind of OC, this is an unlikely scenario, etc. The point is to reject canon and substitute some fanon, am I right?

Disclaimer: The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and "Percy Jackson and the Bronze Dragon" are the property of Rick Riordan. Their use here is for entertainment value only; no profit is being made.

Warning: Spoilers for The Battle of the Labyrinth. Written pre-The Last Olympian, which makes it ever so slightly AU. If you've never read "The Bronze Dragon," the references to fireworks and a wink may be lost on you.

A huge, huge THANK YOU to every single person who reviewed and/or favorited this story. You people rock.

A/N 03/13/14: A huge apology to everyone who has read this fic. I didn't realize it was centered. I personally hate reading centered fics, so I know the struggle. It is now fixed (yay!). I am seriously in awe that people continue to read this fic I wrote in middle school. Thanks so much, demigods!

She woke up in his arms.

At first, the hazy just-awoke feeling fogged her brain, and she didn't immediately assume that she was anywhere but in her own bed. But as her senses slowly kicked back in, it didn't take long for the logical side of her (she was, after all, a daughter of Athena) to ascertain her location.

In his bed. Devoid of a few choice articles of clothing.

Di immortales.

Logical thought soon gave way to panic. (She was, after all, a sixteen year-old girl who'd just woken up in her best friend's bed.) Gray eyes immediately scanned her surroundings, trying to communicate to her brain what it should tell her body to do next. Before it could reach a decision, she was slightly jolted as the owner of the tanned arms around her shifted slightly in his sleep.

Percy. She turned her head a fraction of a degree to the left and was rewarded with the sight of his face. His eyes, green like the sea and twice as tempting, were closed in sleep, framed by dark lashes any girl would envy. His lips were parted slightly as he breathed evenly. The curly, ebony hair she'd always wanted to tease when she was younger was even messier in sleep. Basically, her best friend was perfect. Oh gods, what had she done?

She had previously been nestled against his side, her arm splayed across his bare torso. Holding her breath and hoping that he wouldn't wake, she slowly disentangled their limbs and quietly eased off of the mattress. When the search for her shirt proved futile, she grabbed Percy's discarded one off of the floor, one of his old camp t shirts. The unique scent that could only belong to him was all around her as she pulled the worn, orange garment over her head and prepared to seek out the rest of her clothes and get the heck out of there.

"That's stealing, you know."

She jumped about three feet in the air at the sound of his voice and let out a small shriek and released the doorknob she'd been about to pull forward. If he'd been a monster, she wouldn't have stood a chance. After taking a quick moment to regain her composure, she slowly turned around to face the son of Poseidon now sitting up in the bed with the sheet wrapped around his waist.

His green eyes were riveted intently upon her face, waiting for her to reply. After a moment, she looked away and mumbled, "I couldn't find mine."

He blinked. "You can keep the shirt, Annabeth."

A mumbled, "Thank you," before she finally had the courage to look at him. Big mistake. She knew then how a deer caught in headlights feels.

A minute passed in silence before he noticed the shoes in her hand and her close proximity to the door.

"Are you leaving?"

She knew the color of her face had been competing with that of tomatoes ever since he'd startled her. Not knowing what to say, aching with the knowledge that she was about to lose him forever, she simply looked away again.

Another minute passed in silence again, and he took her lack of response as confirmation.

"Are you sorry?" His tone was unreadable.

"How did we let it happen?" She answered his question with one of her own in close to a whisper.

His face fell.

"I knew you would be," he sad softly, almost to himself. "It figures that the best thing that ever happens to me is the worst thing for you."

She couldn't make out the last part of what he said, but she knew that her heart would have broken at his tone if it wasn't already in pieces.

She immediately walked to the edge of the bed and sat down, her back to him.

"I'm so sorry, Percy," she whispered to the wall. "I can't even use the cliché intoxication as a justification. There was no excuse for me to act like that, to do that to you. I'm sorry," she repeated.

She felt strong hand grip her shoulders and spin her around to face him.

"I don't know where you were last night, Wise Girl," he said angrily reverting back to her old nickname – a tone she rarely heard from him, "but in case you didn't notice, that wasn't exactly a solo performance. I recall participating a little. As for being sorry, don't be. I'm not." He released his grip on her and stood and stated pulling on his clothes.

A bit shocked, she stood and managed, "You're not?"

"No." He glared at her, daring her to argue. Gone were the days where she maintained all control at all times.

"You don't resent me for throwing myself at you?"

He actually laughed, the anger disappearing from his eyes. "You threw yourself at me? Wasn't it more like the other way around? I all but jumped you." Now, he looked sheepish. "Sorry about that, by the way. Wait," he started a moment later. "Are you saying you wanted…?" Here he blushed and paused.

She couldn't look away from his eyes. They looked so hopeful, so loving, that she inwardly slapped herself for being stupid. She'd always prided herself on her intelligence, her logic and reason, and yet she'd just done a very convincing portrayal of the world's biggest dunce.

"I can almost see the wheels turning in your head." He had a small smile on his face which made him look younger, almost like the twelve year-old she first had a crush on.

"I've been so stupid," she sighed.

"Nah, just temporarily insane. You're entitled to a few of those moments. Although, in your case, I'm not so sure that it's going to go away." He grinned, teasing.

She rolled her eyes and smiled back.

"So… about last night," he started.

She bit her lip.

"I meant what I said earlier," he continued. "I'm not sorry. It's something that's been oncoming for a while now. We're not twelve anymore, and I think we both wanted it. I know I did."

Slaying monsters never seemed so scary.

"I did, too." Gray eyes met green ones.

"I love you," he said simply.

"I love you, too," she agreed.

She would never be sure who closed the distance between them. All she knew was that one moment she was facing the man she loved (and she did love him, she finally admitted to herself) across the room, and the next, their arms were entangled as their lips fought for control. Her hands moved up his back before finally fisting in his hair while his gripped her hips possessively.

She was lost. Lost at sea, lost in the sea. If this was drowning, she never wanted to surface.

"You look so confused," he teased later as he played with a strand of her hair.

She smiled into his eyes.

"No, just berating myself for idiocy. You know, I've never been one for dramatics. I can't believe I was such a Drama Queen earlier."

"You think too much," was all he said in reply.

She rolled her eyes.

"And you, Seaweed Brain, don't think enough."

"You probably have a point, but hey. I'm still alive, aren't I?" He grinned.

Instantly, memories of involuntarily leaving him at the mercy of the telekhines while she continued to follow the spider to Hephaestus came flooding back. The cold, icy dread as she waited for him to return, and the hollow nothingness when she knew that he wouldn't, engulfed her suddenly and she did the one thing she'd never done in front of him, not even when she'd literally had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She began to cry into his shoulder.

"Hey, what did I say?" He sounded alarmed. "Annabeth, what's wrong?"

"Your shroud," she whispered between tears.

"My shroud?" He sounded confused. "I have one already? Man, they really must not have much hope for me up there."

"I burned it."

His eyes went wide in realization and his mouth made an "o" of surprise.

"You have no idea what it was like, thinking you were dead, that you'd never come back. I thought the last part of the prophecy had come true, the thing I'd been dreading ever since I visited the Oracle." Here she raised her tear-stained pale cheeks, and he brushed away one that lingered with his thumb.

"And to top that," she continued, "when I realized where you'd been all that time…" She trailed off and sighed.

"I had a feeling you guessed," he admitted. "But you should know, without me even telling you, that nothing happened between me and Calypso. She was really nice and really lonely. She has to endure a horrible punishment just because she's Atlas's daughter. I mean, gods, Annabeth, I've liked you forever. Do you remember the day we played Capture the Flag and you and Silena tricked me and Beckendorf with the Ant Hill thing? Or should I say 'Charlie?'" He laughed.

"Yes," she said quietly.

"Well, when you asked me to the fireworks – I'll never forget that wink you gave me – I was happy beyond belief. I think of Calypso sometimes; she asked me to. But I think of you all the time. Athena probably already has a whole list of creative ways to kill me, but I don't care. Everything we've done and been through together… well, I wouldn't have made it without you. I wouldn't have had the strength to resist Kronos, and I'm pretty sure he'd still be wreaking havoc upon the known world. I love you, Annabeth Chase. You're my best friend, and – what are you laughing at?"

"I'm sorry," she said, wiping her face between peals of laughter.

He feigned hurt. "I can't believe you're laughing at me. I just made this huge confession, and you-"

She cut him off with a meeting of lips.

"Look, it's been a very dramatic morning. I have an idea. Let's lay back down and go back to sleep. When we wake up, we can pretend it's the first time. Okay?"

"See? I knew you were the smart one." He pulled back the rumpled covers and slid between them.

"Mmm hmm," she agreed and lay down and curled up next to him. Ah, he was warm.

"I love you, Wise Girl." He kissed her forehead.

"I love you, too, Seaweed Brain."

She woke up in his arms.

Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.