Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or the characters, places, things, and ideas therein. Those belong to Rick Riordan and Hyperion Publishing. I am making no monetary gain whatsoever from this story.
Summary: This battle was won, but I knew the war was far from over. I wondered if we'd have a chance to see the finish, whichever way it ended. Percabeth, slightly AU.
Timeline: Between Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian
Dedication: To the ray-ray, my great friend and fellow PJO fan, who asked for more. Here you go, and I really hope you enjoy this story!! -hugs-
Author's Note: Thank you so much to everyone who read, reviewed, and put my other PJO story Sensations on their favorites list! The response was overwhelming, and you all made me so happy! I envision this story as a battle taking place sometime between Labyrinth and Last Olympian, but I plan to keep things mostly within canon. I really hope I don't disappoint you with this story, and thank you all so much for checking it out! ~fyd
Demigods never had normal days. Normal days were reserved for humans, who were in and of themselves normal, with comfortable routines and even more comfortable lives in general.
On the other hand, demigods could never have comfortable routines or comfortable lives. They had to fight monsters and enemies and a world who could and would never understand them. It was foolish indeed to believe otherwise, even for a few hours.
So when I had gone to New York to visit Percy for a week, and we had decided to go catch a movie, maybe a hot dog in the park, I said yes. I honestly believed that we could spend a normal day together, two demigod friends just out for a day of fun.
It was the demigod part that got us.
Our time in the movie theater had been relatively uneventful. The movie was an action flick, which was fine for both of us (I had never really been into the romance scene), with enough humor to keep us laughing. In fact, the problems didn't start until we reached the park.
The hot dog vendor, and the park in general, for that matter, were not busy. That should have been our first clue, but Percy and I were having too much fun to notice. Our second clue was when he didn't ask us what we wanted on them as he reached into the stand itself to pull out our hot dogs.
Suddenly Percy's face changed, and he shouted something even as he grabbed my arm and pulled me down. I opened my mouth to shout angrily back when less than a foot away the hot dog stand exploded, sending debris showering down over us. I realized what was happening then, pulling my knife out of its sheath hidden beneath the tail of my shirt as Percy pulled Riptide, in pen form, from his pocket and uncapped it.
The vendor was no longer a slightly overweight balding New Yorker. He was now all teeth and claws and muscle, his throat working with an unearthly scream as he came after us.
Percy brandished Riptide, forcing the monster to pause warily, as I held my knife ready to back him up. A quick look around showed me that there were no other monsters, at least not close by, but there was also no one to help us. Percy and I were completely on our own.
The monster let out a laugh as it slowly circled us. "Kronos will win," it said. Every breath that left its mouth sounded like a bellows working. "You," at this it looked at me, "and you," the more significant look was given to Percy, "will lose. And die."
I almost wanted to laugh. Many monsters had been sent after Percy and me as individuals and a team, and we had managed to defeat each of them. What made this hulking thing think he had a better chance?
The answer came swiftly, in the form of very long, very sharp claws that slashed the air less than an inch from my face. I bent backwards, shocked and surprised, shaking off my momentary levity as I threw myself into the fight with Percy.
Despite his size, our attacker was very swift. Even as he avoided the Celestial bronze of our weapons, he easily swiped his claws and snapped his teeth at us, his teeth coming close enough to me to tear my t-shirt and his claws close enough to Percy to leave four long gashes across his leg.
He stumbled back, and I took the opportunity to jump in front of him, trying to find a good place to thrust my knife so the blade would destroy our foe, at least for now. His left paw came at me and I immediately twisted to drive my knife into his leg, knowing if I could just get in that vital strike we could win…
"Annabeth!" Percy shouted my name, but his warning came a second too late.
I had been so focused on his left paw, I didn't see the monster's right flash across his body until the searing pain exploded through my back and side. My knife fell from my hand as I staggered back, shocked. Before I could get away, his other set of forward claws raked across my front, burning four more lines of pain from my hip up to the opposite shoulder.
The world reeled around in quick flashes of green, brown, black, then finally blue and white as I hit the ground. Things blurred and cut in and out from the grey that warned near unconsciousness as I stared up at the sky, the ringing in my ears not quite able to drown out the sounds of a fiercely intense battle only a few feet away.
Percy… I tried to pull myself up, to find my knife and rejoin the battle, but my body wouldn't obey my commands. I could only grit my teeth, try to stay conscious, and listen to the fight that was so close, but at the same time just too far away.
The screams blended together, and eventually I wasn't able to tell the difference between Percy's and the monster's. There were so many…
There was another scream, a final death cry, and then silence.
I couldn't seem to be able to turn my head far enough to see who had won; even if I had, I wasn't sure I could have focused my gaze enough to tell. If it were the monster who had won, it would be coming after me, lying hopeless and helpless in the grass, slowly staining red beneath me. If it were the monster who had won, there were to be many, many more lives than mine that would soon be lost.
"Annabeth!" And then suddenly Percy was there, leaning over me. His clear green eyes were wide in his white face, which was speckled with red.
After a bit of a struggle, I was able to pull my hazy gaze down a bit. It was only then I noticed that the wounds on his leg had been joined by more on his chest, his shoulder, his side, his neck… "Percy…!" I didn't have enough breath to put any more words to my surprise even if I could find the right ones.
He didn't say anything more. His face twisted in an emotion I couldn't identify, and his jaw tightened as he wrapped his arms around me to lift me up.
I protested, trying to push him away. "You need to get to water," I said. "The water will…"
"I know what the water will do!" Percy snapped. Briefly he closed his eyes, then shook his head. "Come on." He lifted me up, setting me on my unsteady feet as he started half-walking, half-stumbling in the direction of the ocean.
It was then I realized what he was trying to do. "No!" I protested. "We'll never make it in time."
"We will," he said from between his teeth. "Just keep putting one foot in front of the other."
We were leaving bloody footprints, which I dimly realized would lead anyone, monster, god, or human, to the water, where they would promptly disappear. That would not be a good thing. And there were other things, too… "Percy, I'm nothing. You -- you have a prophecy to fulfill…"
He stubbornly shook his head, gaze focused straight ahead. I was beginning to see occasional glimmers now, from where the sun was striking off the water.
"Percy, we can both die, or just I can. We both know you're more valuable than I am." What part of my concentration that wasn't going toward convincing Percy was being put toward walking, trying not to trip, or fall, or do anything that would slow him down.
"Who has the right to say who is and isn't valuable?" Percy growled. "It's not you, or me, or the gods, or even that Oracle who spouts off this and that and calls it all sacred prophecy."
I wasn't beyond begging. "Percy…" My foot caught and I nearly brought us both down. It was through sheer force of will that we both remained upright.
"Stop arguing. We're both going to the water." Percy's head was down, his eyes narrow and glowering with full power toward the water, though I knew the glare was meant for me.
It didn't take much effort at all for Percy to heal himself. The water and his natural powers did all the work. But it did take an effort, a great one, for him to become a conduit for the water to flow through to heal someone else. If he tried to heal me first, or worse, both of them at the same time…
"Don't be stupid, Seaweed Brain!" I stumbled again, and this time we both fell with simultaneous groans of pain.
Of all times for nectar and ambrosia not to be handy for us…
Percy got back up to his hands and knees, his jaw tight with pain, or frustration, or maybe both. I let myself go limp, half hoping I was too heavy for him to pick up again. If he would just leave me here… "Come back for me," I whispered. It was my last card to play. "Go on to the water, then you can come back for me later, after you're healed."
We both knew I didn't have that kind of time left. I was bleeding out, and it was becoming harder and harder to breathe.
But Percy didn't, either, because he was even worse off than me.
This time Percy didn't even bother to argue. He just slid one arm under my shoulders, the other beneath my knees, and lifted. I saw a muscle in his neck twitch, and his eyes narrowed, but he didn't make a sound. He just turned and started walking again, carrying us both toward the water.
"Percy, stop--" I tried to protest again.
He stumbled, going to one knee in the sand. The sand? We've reached the beach! His arms briefly hugged me closer as he stood again, staggering for a second before he regained his balance and his single-minded march for the water.
I heard the slosh of water as he headed out into it. Only a few seconds later it lapped against me, and then we were both immersed in it.
The suddenness of it left me choking and sputtering. I already had little breath to spare, and not nearly enough to hold underwater. I weakly flailed, looking up towards the ruby-tinged path of water that led back to the surface. I couldn't breathe. My vision was beginning to grey, darkening toward black. Was the last thing I was going to see the blood-muddied water, and the sunlight that was rapidly getting farther and father away as we both sank?
Percy's arms were still around me, clutching me tightly to him. He shook his head, then closed his eyes.
Suddenly when I tried to breathe again, I could. Lifting my head from Percy's shoulder, I looked around, realizing he'd formed a bubble around us -- a bubble filled with oxygen.
His grip suddenly felt stronger around me, and I moaned as the pressure hurt my injuries further. He made a shushing sound, and then…
I couldn't really explain the feeling. It was soft, and warm, a bit like a caress. It moved over my body, easing the pain as it went. I wanted to say something -- to protest, I think -- but the water was washing everything away. Was this what the healing process felt like to Percy? Was this what being in the water felt like to him?
I felt my eyes sliding closed, my head tipping forward to fall against Percy's shoulder again…
And then we were moving, and the feeling of the water fell away from me. I had just enough time to miss the sensation before something sturdy appeared beneath me, and my feet started moving by rote as we left the water and stumbled ashore.
I fell into a seated position, dragging Percy down with me. For a moment we sat side by side in the sand, heads hanging, as we regained a bit of our lost strength.
"Feel better?" Percy asked, finally breaking the silence.
Lifting my head to look at him, I nodded. "Yes." And then, because I couldn't seem to be able to stay mad at him, I added, "Thank you, Seaweed Brain."
Percy's lips lifted into a smile. "Well, you can't be too mad at me," he said. "If you're calling me Seaweed Brain, you're not mad."
I wanted to protest, but I just didn't have the energy. Shaking my head, I looked down, just then noticing that I wasn't wet. Of course. "I still hold by what I said earlier, though," I said. "You took too big a chance today by being stubborn and trying to save us both."
He sighed. "I would do the same thing even if I had to do it a thousand times over."
It had been a long time since I'd last wanted to throttle Percy, but I found that urge suddenly returning. "Percy…"
His hand was suddenly on my shoulder, his earnest green eyes staring directly into my grey ones. "Annabeth," he said firmly. "You're my friend. I'm not going to let you die. Enough people have already died in this war. I refuse to let you be another one."
"I'll make you a deal," I said, unable to argue with him. He was so earnest. "I'll stay alive if you do."
The glint returned to Percy's eyes as he smiled. "I think we're in agreement, Wise Girl." Rising to his feet, he stretched his hand down to me to pull me up. Then we turned our steps back toward his mom's apartment. "I still owe you a hot dog," he said conversationally.
Apparently our former conversation was over, at least for now. I accepted it, but I knew we would come back to it eventually. We still had things to discuss. "I think we'd cause quite a stir if we showed up like this," I said.
Percy draped a friendly arm over my shoulders and nodded. "Tomorrow, then?"
I smiled. "Tomorrow."
Hopefully we would have many tomorrows. But, if not -- I was glad we had this one.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed!