A/N: I decided to make this a twoshot. Sorry to those of you who were hoping that this would become a full-fledged story.
Annabeth was barely able to shut the phone because she was so numb.
He had been there. Percy Jackson, her boyfriend who'd gone missing two months ago, had been in her father's apartment in San Francisco. And the worst part? She had been out there not three days ago visiting. She had missed him by seventy two hours. Four thousand twenty minutes. Two hundred fifty nine thousand, two hundred seconds.
Her mind ran in semicoherent circles. Percy had been in her house. He'd sat at the same counter, probably tripped over the same Legos. They were so close, but, as cliché as it was, so far away. Being in the exact same place and just missing each other by a few days, when they've been searching for two months across the continent. It would happen to them, she thought. Because the gods never made anything easy. Hera probably did it to torture Annabeth more, and Aphrodite would have been completely content with the plan because of her delusional conception that love was more fun if you suffered.
Her dad and stepmother had seen him before she had. How in Hades was that fair? Actually, how was any of this fair?
With a frustrated yell, she threw the phone down on the floor of the Big House's living room, where she'd been pacing for the last quarter of an hour as she listened to her mortal family talk about Percy's visit. She'd practically begged for every single detail they could spare. What did he look like? Did he have a purple shirt on? Did he mention where he was going? What did they say to him? Her stepmother, thankfully, had one of those minds that remembered minutiae. She had been able to give Annabeth a complete description of every aspect of the encounter, right down to what brand of shoes Percy was wearing.
A muted knock interrupted her thoughts.
"Annabeth, dear? Are you alright?" came Chiron's voice through the door. She blinked, turning around.
"Uh, yeah," she called. "Come on in." She bent to pick up the phone with trembling fingers as the centaur entered, quietly closing the door behind him. Sitting with a huff on the worn leather couch, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes like she had a headache. Which she did, kind of. It was most likely a product of the ever-present stress.
"What did they say?" Chiron asked gently. Without looking, she knew exactly what his expression would be like. His eyebrows would be furrowed with concern over those sad, fatherly eyes. And a small frown would be on his mouth, just like all the other times he'd shown his worry about her these last few months. She knew Chiron wasn't the only one who was noticing her gradual mental breakdown.
She ran her hands over her face tiredly, even though it was the middle of the day.
"My dad found Percy somewhere in San Francisco. He brought him back to the apartment, but then a hellhound attacked and he ran off because he felt guilty," she sighed. Chiron kept silent, probably guessing that there was more that she wanted to say. After a while, she said in a tiny, almost scared-sounding voice, "He—he remembered me. He could barely remember anything about his own life, but he knew what my favorite color is, and that I have two little brothers, and that I call him Seaweed Brain…"
She opened her eyes to find Chiron smiling at her sadly. "You feel bad about that, don't you? That he remembers you, but nothing about himself."
Against her will, tears began to prick at her eyes. She blinked them back ferociously. She'd cried too much lately. She had to be strong—she was a daughter of Athena, for the gods' sakes.
"Yeah. I do. I mean, I'm… happy that he remembers me," she said slowly. "But it doesn't seem fair that he knows all those things about me, and nothing from his life. Shouldn't there be some kind of balance? How is the knowledge of a nickname I gave him when we were twelve going to help him survive?"
Chiron sighed. "You never know, I suppose. The smallest things can become unexpectedly important. We learned that in the last war."
"You know what the worst part of this is?" She wasn't usually one to complain, but she just needed to say it out loud. And if her audience was going to be a six thousand year-old centaur, well, so be it. "It's knowing that even if I had been out there, and seen him, and he remembered me, I couldn't have done anything. I would've had to let him go off to the Roman camp, because of Hera's stupid plan."
Thunder rolled in the distance, but she ignored it. She had never cared less about what the queen of the gods thought. What had she done to deserve this punishment? Were a few insults and a refusal to sacrifice really worth having Percy stolen from her? She knew, of course, being the rational daughter of Athena that she was, that Hera hadn't acted simply because of her grudge. But sometimes Annabeth couldn't help but think that the goddess took extra measures to torture her.
"We have to have faith," Chiron reminded her gently. "In both the gods and Percy. I highly doubt that Percy will allow himself to die. We know that he's safe as of this morning, and we also know that he remembers you. At the moment, that's all we can hope for." He patted her on the shoulder and quietly left the room.
Annabeth's mind spun with the weight of what she'd heard that morning. It was all too much to handle. Percy had been so close, nearly within her reach, but she was supposed to trust the gods—the same gods who were ignoring their children, the same gods who had separated her from Percy in the first place—and let him slip away. How was any of this fair? How was she supposed to keep fighting, when all she wanted to do was curl up into a ball and sob? She thought about Percy's words to her mortal parents: Tell her that I love her, and that she can't give up.
How could he know her so well, even when he could barely remember her? Could he possibly sense how close she was to throwing down her knife and surrendering to the turmoil inside of her?
Tell her that I love her, and that she can't give up.
She wouldn't cave, not yet.