The Life and Times of Percy & Annabeth

(one lifetime, one love)

26. A Corner of the Universe

Running. Chest heaving up and down. Blinding flashes of green. Then a distant sound of glass shattering. More running. All leading up to a closed door, a dead end.

This is the dream that's been sneaking its way into Annabeth's head for the last two weeks. Every single night.

The dream itself isn't scary or terrifying or anything like that. There are no random faces that pop out, no creepy voices, no bloody monsters. No, the scariest part about the dream is the ending, when Annabeth reaches the dead end. Every single time, she's so close to escaping – from whom or from what is an entirely different matter – and every single time, she's faced with a locked door with absolutely no chance of getting out.

It scares her; it confuses her. Sometimes, she wakes up in the middle of the night feeling beads of sweat form on her forehead. Her stomach has a strange empty sensation and her heart is pounding a thousand miles per minute. It's times like these when she slips from beneath the covers, fishes around her dresser in the darkness for her phone, and after a few clicks, she slips on a pair of shoes and escapes from the safety of Crystal's apartment and onto the streets of Manhattan.

Much to her pleasure, it's never dark out in Manhattan. It never is, regardless of whether it is three o'clock in the morning or eleven o'clock at night. Cars are endlessly honking, people are constantly streaming down the sidewalks, lights are flashing, everything continues to move despite the fact that if you drive a few hours into a suburban town and the whole place would be fast asleep.

She follows down the sidewalk, knowing very well to duck her head as she passes people who have swallowed down dangerous amounts of alcohol and knows to never make eye contact with the man who has a scraggly beard and unclean clothing. She reaches her hand into the pocket of her pajama pants and feels comfort as the harsh edges of her phone dig into her skin. Knowing that police force is only a few dials away, she feels more confident and continues walking along.

In a few minutes, Annabeth has officially crossed over into the Upper East Side of Manhattan where boys in polos and girls in laced stockings are a regular sight. Finding a narrow pathway snaking off the sidewalk, Annabeth follows it into a small gathering of trees too sparse to be called woods, yet to dense to be called a park. The path leads directly through the middle of the trees and with a few looks over her shoulders and listening for the quiet pitter-patter of feet, she ducks into the trees and walks along the path.

The path follows out of the trees and disappears, and Annabeth is now facing a muddy field. Here she slips off her shoes and sprints through the grass, feeling dirt and mud squeeze their way in between her toes. Her heart is racing and her breathing is heavy when she reaches the end of the field that now pours into an elementary school playground.

The playground has a new set of swings, a set of monkey pairs, a tire swing worn from years of kids tugging at it, a slide, and a few other playground things. Mulch pads the ground and a breeze whistles across the night.

The playground isn't gated or anything. The rich and elite of the Upper East Side must think vandalizers would be too scared to ruin their precious prep-school playground. Curfew times are nonexistent in the city that never sleeps, but trespassing laws do exist. Yet Annabeth walks right onto the playground without giving another thought. She heads for the swings.

Her heart skips a beat when she sees someone occupying one of the swings already. He looks up, and her world crumbles. His unmistakable green eyes are shining, and his hair is in its usual bundle of mess.

She slowly approaches the swing to his right and takes a seat, before turning to look at him again. A smile dances at his lips. She silently thanks the gods for the darkness concealing her blushing cheeks.

And then they begin talk of everything. And they talk of nothing. He sometimes holds her. And sometimes he lets her be. They sit on the swings. And they lie in the grass. They whisper words of endearment, and sometimes, they allow the silence to do all the talking.

They both meet up here when their day-to-day lives have become too much, when even their dreams aren't free from heavy thoughts. They come to this spot, to this safe haven, to this corner of the universe they can call their own.

A/N: I know its short and not my best, but I'm trying to ease into writing fanfiction again so bear with me please (:

I'mmmmmmmm baccccckkkkkkkkkk! :D

On a seriously serious note: thank you. Oh my god, thank you. Thank you for the endless reviews, for the favoriting, for the suscribing. You don't know how much it means to me. Lots has happened in the last few months...I've had a lot to handle and at times, I've honestly just wanted to quit writing altogether. But you guys with your annoying comments about updating(: wouldn't let me. And for that, thank you. Thanks for all the support, I love you all so much that's it kind of freaky. I've missed you guys.

So, yeah, thanks3