What Regret Tastes Like

Chapter 6- Owed

A/N Final chapter, guys. This one IS the end, sorry if many people thought chapter five was the last one, but I couldn't bring myself to end it that way. So just read on, and review. (pfft...) Enjoy.

Disclaimer- Yeah, not really.

What Regret Tastes Like

Chapter 6- Owed

The first thing I noticed was the weariness.

My lungs felt about ready to collapse. My feet might as well fall off. My eyes could go blind, and I wouldn't even notice it. All in all, it was worse than I'd remembered it, and that's saying something.

All I saw was the hill. That big amount of dirt, of piles after piles of soil, each on top of the last, making one huge lump. Just like the one in my throat.

I ran alongside her, as fast as I could carry my tiny self, while she tried to shield both of us from danger. I looked at her for the hundredth time today, and realized yet another thing I'd missed over the years: Right now, she was running from something, contrary to what I was doing. My feet were carrying me towards what I wished to avoid and yet, I couldn't turn and run the other way, either. I was stuck between two unavoidable fates, though, the way I saw it, the danger wasn't behind, but ahead.

Still, if I kept running, I could reach the Hill and stop this. The repeating actions weren't as deadly as the one about to follow. Thalia wasn't mad at me yet, and I intended to keep it that way.

I fell.

Immersed as I was in my thoughts, I hadn't remembered to remember. I completely forgot about the hateful little rock laying there on the ground, just waiting to trip me. Fortunately, I recalled the next part and I rolled out of the way before the monster could tower over me. I brought my knife up in an arc and slashed blindly, wrinkling my nose as the yellowish powder sprinkled over me. I felt an arm around my shoulders, and an alarmed voice, trying to help me to my feet.

Only this time, they were Thalia's.

"You okay? Come on, we have to keep running. We're very close now."

I nodded and got up as quickly as I could manage. My feet resumed their never-ending task. My blood boiled, and heat rose up to my face, meeting my ears, and making a sound so loud and distracting, it drowned out everything else. The steep ground became flat, and I sighed shakily. I wasn't even sure if it was in relief. I spotted Luke to the far left, battling dracaenae by himself, while Grover bleated around, panicky . This was it. The monsters ran up to meet us, overwhelming every single one of our senses. The tiredness didn't matter any longer, only the natural instinct of our bodies to stay alive at any cost. Adrenaline ran quickly, spreading "fight" to all my muscles, tensing them. Thalia didn't say anything for a heartbeat, and then yelled,

"Luke! Get Annabeth and Grover over the border! Yell for help!"

Luke didn't have time to hear her. He and Grover were flung downhill, straight past the boundaries, hitting their heads in the process, and lay motionless on the grass. Water began caressing my face, splashing it coldly and cruelly. I blinked the drops away, both coming from my eyes and the sky.

The sky was crying, too.

"Help! Anybody!" I yelled frantically, with a shrill voice, to no avail. Thunder drowned out everything else, except for the blood rushing from my arms to my legs. From my legs to my brain. I stepped closer to Thalia, we were shoulder to shoulder now, and she didn't complain. Of course, she tried to protect me as best she could, but when the Furies began soaring over us, she couldn't anymore. I found that my body was more agile, but it had less strength, so I kept dodging instead of killing. Rain poured on both of us, but there wasn't any nerve in our bodies to register the damp coldness. Every single one of them was focused on two different things. For her, survival. For me, change.

And I didn't know how long I stood there, feeling her shoulder press against mine, until we were surrounded.

"Thalia, watch out!" I yelled .

One of the Furies swooped down and slashed at her. She zapped her in reflexive response, causing an explosion. Like Luke and Grover, I flew. I flew until the landing was inevitable, hearing the thud before I felt it. A second passed, I didn't feel it. Another second flashed by, still nothing. Then another and my face was kissed by green, then I saw stars, then I smelled grass, right in my nose. Once more, I saw drops falling from the crying stars, letting me know their grief as thunder crashed one last time, and a piercing sound joined the noise, but was quickly lost in it.

Then, silence.

I scrambled to my feet, and began walking uphill in pain's direction until flesh met green fabric, and someone put their arms around me.

I thrashed violently in his iron grasp, but my screams were worse. I let out five years of feelings into that sound. Feelings that could not be put into words. I screamed in grief, I screamed in defeat, in fear, in longing, in rage, in hatred, in realization. I screamed in pain. Pain that had stuck with me for such a long time and that I had never learned to cope with. I realized I would have to begin, if I wanted to live. But I couldn't fully grasp it now, and so I moved on to screaming words, some incoherent, but sending the message as clear as day.

"Let me go! I have to save her!"

"Annabeth, she's gone. Look." Percy said in such a mature voice, I had a hard time believing it was his. I stopped my crazy behavior enough to do as he asked, much to my heart's protests, and looked over to the Hill.

The bark was tall and strong, the leaves a beautiful shade of green, almost glowing in the starlight. It stood majestically on top of that big pile of dirt, making it look so much like the one I knew.

"Why did you bring me back here? Why?! I thought I could stop the accident!" I complained, and, even though my tone was harsh, it was not intended for him.

"You couldn't stop the accident because it was never your fault. Don't you realize? She would've died anyway. She knew what she was doing, Annabeth. You never made her lose it." He said as I continued to sob. His arms were still around me, but not as a restraint anymore. Now, they acted up as comfort.

"It was my fault. It was my fault," I mumbled over and over. His voice shushed me.

"You didn't come back to stop it from happening, just to learn what caused it. That's what Lee said anyways, but you need to forgive yourself."

I dropped to my knees, knowing he was right, for once. I cried, but the feeling of guilt left me, slowly, reluctantly. It unclasped its claws from my heart, and the scars that were left behind began to heal.

"We need to go. Campers are coming, and Luke's begging to wake up." He said as he stood up. I did the same and he proceeded to call for Clyde with some names I didn't even know were in his very-limited-vocabulary.

***

We were standing in the commons area, my friends' faces a mix of emotion. Silena was the first to recover.

"Thank the gods! We have been waiting for you guys forever! Mr. D came around with Tantalus, and we had to hide. Even Lee was begging to freak out!" She babbled.

"So what did you do!?" Connor asked, and even though his words might've been intended for mockery, there wasn't one single trace of it, which made it weird. Still, Travis smacked him, and Lee glared at him.

"What did you learn, Annabeth?" Lee asked.

I felt five pairs of eyes staring intently at me. I sighed.

"I found out I wasn't responsible for the accident."

"Of course you weren't." Silena said.

"Then what's the matter?" Percy frowned, uncomprehendingly as though this new discovery of mine was supposed to make everything better and peachy. I turned to him, and looked down.

"It makes me….angry, that she will never know I'm fine, I have friends and that I miss her every day." I explained, and Lee got a look of something in his eyes.

"That's not necessarily true," he whispered smugly.

Fog formed next to him, and a transparent girl stepped out.

She personified the sky itself.

She had a unique haircut, black as night. She wore ratty clothes, like clouds before a storm, a signature style of her. Freckles scattered messily across her nose, like stars. Her eyes were the color of raindrops, ever-so expressive, and appeared to be made out of pure lightning. She had the moon shining in her heart, and a whole thunderstorm for moods.

I ran in front of her, my eyes watery. My heart racing, longing to get out of my chest so it could scream in excitement.

"Of course I know who you are, silly, and what you've become." Thalia shook her head, smiling at me. "And yeah, I've been with you every step of the way, but like a good brainiac, you kept me here," she placed a hand near my head, "And forgot to keep me here," She placed her other hand near my heart. "I'm proud of you, Annabeth, but my approval was never what you needed." She snorted then, "Typical Annabeth to blame it on yourself. I hope you get it now, that it was never your fault. I never left. Just remember that the next time you try a stunt like this," she stepped forward, and put her arms close to me, as if enveloping me in a hug. Her armes passed right through me, and she frowned then. "It's strange, I keep forgetting….." She trailed off, and turned to me again. "Keep it up, I swear, I never met a braver person in my life. And hey, we're still family, you know. We didn't break our promise." she smiled, and shimmered away, leaving everyone frozen in their places.

"She was Thalia? As in the Thalia, daughter of the boss up there?" Connor muttered, and Travis didn't seem to be any more collected than his brother was.

"Uh, Lee?" Percy wondered.

The son of Apollo smiled at us.

"Let's just say I owe Clyde now."

The End