AN: This is my first actually intended PJO sadness fic. I don't know why I came up with this- but, enjoy. If you can.

Inspired by "Dance 'Round the Memory Tree" by Oren Lavie (You'd better check it out, or else. It adds effect to this story.)


"Words we had said
Grew in my head
Colored I thought
Sent me to bed

It had been five years. Five years, since his wife last fully knew him. It started out slowly. She'd said things that were acceptable- things that he knew were coming. Then it got worse. She'd nearly given him a heart attack when she asked, "Who are you?"

She had some mysterious disease, one which had caused her to lose her memory, slowly, over the course of two years. At the end of the first year, they'd condemned her to the hospital. She had been seeing things- hallucinating. The doctors didn't want any more damage to come to her, mentally. Physically, she was fine. But inside that smart brain of hers- things were missing.

And she'd noticed, too. She knew things were going wrong, and one day, he brought her to a doctor. He'd confirmed it- a disease that would make her lose memory. An irreversible disease- or so they say.

But he never gave up. To this day, he is trying. Along the way, there were tears.

Percy Jackson will never give up on his wife.

Lost memories
Grew into trees
Cover the doors
Swallow the cure

So, when he could, he visited her.

By now, at the coming end of five years, the elderly people he passes on his way to her room know him by name, as did he.

"Hello, Grace," he says, waving at the ninety-year old woman who'd greeted him on his first day. She beams at him, and returns the wave- feebly, but with just as much joy as she felt. Then, he passes another old woman- around eighty years old or so, but a very grouchy woman.

"Good afternoon, Miss Helen," he greets her, and is answered with a grunt. He shrugs, as he did whenever he passes her.

"Mr. Jackson?" someone calls.

He turns around to see Grace, the ninety-year old woman. He crouches down to her level, as she was in a wheelchair, and she holds his hands in both of hers. "Good luck today. I hope she remembers. You have my blessing, dearie," she says soothingly, and pats his hands.

"Thank you," he says, and continues onto his wife's room.

He knocks on her door, and is answered by a cheerful, "Come in!" He struggles to put on a fake smile, and can't help but feel hopeless. But he cannot lose hope- when he is so close to getting her back again.

There is a nurse there- one he knows by name. It is Tina, a friendly middle-aged woman. She greets him with a wave, and pats his shoulder as she turns to leave. Then he is alone, with her.

"Ashley?" he asks tentatively. She smiles at him.

"Parker, right?" she asks. He feels his heart grow heavy. She has forgotten his "name" again.

"Actually, it's Pete. Pete Jackson," he says, sitting down next to her bed, in a rather uncomfortable chair. He fold his hands in his lap, struggling to keep the tears from leaking out of his eyes. Back to square one, he thinks, and smiles weakly at his wife.

He comes to see her almost every day, to tell her a tale about her old life. He doesn't flat-out say that it is her he is talking about, but hints at it. He calls her Ashley, to be able to use her real name in the stories. She doesn't even remember her own name. He lies about his name as well, for the same reason as her name.

"So, where was I?" he asks, kindly.

She thinks for a second, and remembers. "You were getting to the part where Percy and Annabeth fight the giants in Central Park," she answers. He sighs. At least she remembers where I left off yesterday, he thinks.

Winters have come and gone, you know
Winters have come and gone, you know
But Ill miss you young and free
For a dance round the memory tree

At the end of the week, he nears the end of his tales to her. He is at the part where Pete (he) proposes.

"So he proposes to her. He feels like a big fool, worried that she won't accept," he says, smiling inside, remembering the time when he proposed to the beautiful woman in front of him.

Annabeth, or rather- Ashley- laughs. "He is a big fool. Of course she'll marry him! They're perfect," she insists, smiling. He gulps loudly, feeling tears rise to his eyes. She notices, too. "Are you okay?" she asks, patting his shoulder.

He nods feebly, and takes in a breath to continue.

"You tell this story- as if you know it. I mean, really know it. Has this happened to you?" she asks.

You have no idea, he thinks, and ignores her question. "She does accept. They get married- to the severe displeasure of their parents. Their love was too strong to be broken by their parents," he says, his mind elsewhere.

"Happily ever after?" she asks.

Percy, or, Pete, rubs his hands together. This is where is might happen. Where he gets her back.

"Not quite." His tone is sorrowful, and Annabeth/Ashley leans forward apprehensively.

Her stormy gray eyes are eager. "What happened?" she asks.

"She loses her memory. Everything Percy and Annabeth do together- is gone. Erased from her oh, so intelligent mind. She forgets everything. Even her own name. Even Percy's name. Everything is gone."

Annabeth/Ashley gasps, her eyes telling him to continue.

"The doctors take her to a hospital- where she cannot be hurt. And Percy comes, nearly everyday, to see if anything came back. To see if she remembers. He tells her a story, the one about her- their wedding day. Then something happens." He pauses, to get her mind back on track- then continues.

"She remembers. Nearly everything. Percy is overjoyed. He had gotten his wife back. They talk for one or two hours, and it seems as if everything is right again. But it's not. After that second hour- Annabeth forgets- again," he says slowly, and by now, his voice is thick with tears. He'd never been one for tears, but he felt like he was going to burst.

"But he never loses hope. He comes back, again and again. The process is like a cycle. He gets her back, then she falls away again."

Annabeth/Ashley is crying now- the sadness of it all impacts her like a giant meteor. But he continues his story, anyways. He mustn't give up. Not now.

"To this day, he is trying. Trying to get her back. You asked how I somehow came up with a story like this, Ashley." He looks at her in the eye, trying to find some sort of recognition. There is one tiny spark.

Then he takes out a necklace. It's an old necklace, with beads and a gold college ring.

"That looks familiar," she remarks. He nods vigorously. He hands it to her, and she holds it reverently in her hands, struggling to remember. "Is this yours?" she asks, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. He shakes his head.

"No, but you know whose it is."

She looks at me, confused. "I do?" she asks, and he nods.

"Think," he says quietly, his eyes pleading her. She does as he says- just to make him happy. Poor guy, she thinks.

Percy is almost ready to give up, and wait for her to forget again. But then, she looks up at him, her eyes wide. "It's mine!" she exclaims. He smiles weakly, and plunges on.

"What is my name?" he asks, his heart pounding.

Said I forgot
But I did not
Dreams we have had
Played in my head

For a moment, her eyes are blank, and he begins to worry that he asked too soon.

But a brightness lights her stormy, gray eyes. "Percy!" she cries, and tackles him with a hug. His heart soars. He did it.

But then his heart is heavy. How long will this last, until she forgets again?, he thinks, but is too happy- he hugs her back. "Annabeth," he sighs, and holds her to him as if he will never let go. Tears fill his eyes, and she looks at him.

"Percy, what happened to me?" she asks, despair in her voice.

"It's over now, Annabeth. Don't worry," he whispers, holding her closer.

She nods, and kisses me softly on the lips. "How- how many times have you tried?" she asks weakly. She doesn't have to elaborate- he knows exactly what she's talking about. He doesn't meet her eyes.

"I- I'm not sure. A lot," he says.

"How many times have I come back?" she asks.

"A lot?"

These questions he'd heard before. She'd always ask them, whenever she remembered. And his answer would be the same.

Did we believe
The cry of the wind
Did we regret
Would we forget

It'd been an hour. She was happy and cheerful- but also afraid. They both knew- him, especially, that this would not last forever.

"I don't want to forget," she says quietly, leaning into his shoulder. She's said that before.

"I know you don't. Neither do I."

"I love you, Percy. I don't want you to have to start over again. I don't want you to go through this pain again," she cries, and wraps her thin arms around him. He buries his face in her hair, trying to keep his tears from leaking out.

No matter how many times he'd gone through this, it was worth it to see his wife again. His realwife. "Annabeth, I love you. I will do anything for you. And hopefully, one day, we'll be able to spend as much time together as we want. Maybe we have to go through this. Maybe the twentieth time's the charm," he says, his voice thick.

They hold each other for a moment, and his lips connect with hers. A second later, he feels something change.

His heart fell. He is losing her- again.

He presses his lips harder against hers, not wanting this moment to end. But it does.

She pushes against him, trying to push him off.

He reluctantly lets go, the tears falling freely. Ashley has returned, and he's Pete again.

When he walks out of her room, tears are streaming down his young face, and it breaks the heart of the elderly who know him. Those who know him know what happened. She remembers, then forgets.

"Give up, Percy. It's no use," one of the elderly tells him. It's George, the snappy old man who is a constant downer. His wife lightly smacks him on the side of the head.

"Don't listen to him, dearie. I think it's beautiful- what you're trying to do for her," says his wife, Melanie.

He nods his thanks, and gets ready to leave the hospital.

Grace wheels up to him in her wheelchair. She's the only one who doesn't fully understand his look yet. "What's the matter, dear?" she asks, putting a soft, wrinkled hand on his shoulder. The tears flow even more now.

"I just spent three and a half hours with my real wife," he says bitterly.

The other patients gasp inwardly. The longest she'd stayed with him was an hour. Even five minutes with the real Annabeth Chase was too much to ask for. They were all inspired by the boy, and his brave efforts to get his wife back.

"Can I see you for a second, Mr. Jackson?"

Winters have come and gone, you know
Winters have come and gone, you know

It is Dr. Trace.

He leads Percy into his office, and sits the young man down in front of him.

"Percy," he starts, but falters when he sees the sad look in the boy's eyes. Perseus doesn't try to hold his sobs back anymore. Hard, heart-wrenching sobs escape from his mouth, and the doctor is now unsure of what he will say next.

Dr. Trace takes in a deep breath. "You cannot visit your wife anymore, Mr. Jackson," says the doctor.

To Percy, it feels like his whole world is falling apart. You cannot visit your wife anymore, echoes in the young man's head. "No..." cries Percy. The doctor is unswayed. As much as he enjoys the boy's presence, enough is enough.

"It is better if you do. You are hurting your wife, Mr. Jackson! Your efforts are wonderful, but you have to accept the truth! You musn't visit her!" the doctor plunges on, before he loses his momentum. Percy leaves.

The patients have heard.

"It can't be true!" insists Grace, who holds his hand close to her heart. Percy just nods, and moves to leave. Frankie- a teenage nurse who knew Percy well, speaks up.

"I'll keep you updated by e-mail. The other patients and I- we'll continue your efforts. It's the least we can do," she says, hugging him. He nods in thanks. He still has one thing left to do.

But Ill miss you young and free
For a dance round the memory tree

She is asleep when he arrives. He used to watch her in her sleep all the time. It was oddly comforting. He takes a peice of paper out of his pocket, and scribbles a letter down to her.

While she is asleep, he tucks the letter under her pillow, and kisses her on the forehead. "Goodbye, love," he whispers, a stray tear rolling down his cheek. Then, it is over. This was the last time he would see his wife.

Perseus Jackson leaves the hospital. Forever.

But fate has other plans.

As he drives out of the hospital parking lot in his gray BMW, his mind is preoccupied. So is another driver's. They drive in opposite directions, and as they round the corner, the sound of breaks squealing echoes through the heavy air. But it is too late.

The ambulances don't reach the two drivers in time. The other driver- a man who owns a black truck- survives. But the unmistakable young driver of the gray BMW does not.

Meanwhile, Ashley awakens. Something in her heart is not right. She feels that someone close to her is gone. The pain she feels in her heart is so bad, tears stream down her face. But this is not a heartache.

Annabeth Chase returns. And she is dying.

Like the ambulances, the nurses do not reach the young woman in time. Five minutes after her husband's death, Annabeth Chase dies, on December 9, at 9:00 PM. An hour after she forgot. She never actually does read the letter under her pillow. Frankie finds it, and the letter is posted on the lobby cork board, as a symbol of one man's faith.

Not all stories have happy endings. But this one does.

AN: Review?