Title credits go the Beatles: the greatest band of all time.
Summary: Annabeth's POV of all the times Percy's gotten hurt. Percabeth, obviously.
Protection: the act of protecting, or the state of being protected; preservation from loss, injury, or annoyance; defense; shelter; as, the weak need protection.
Annabeth didn't really think that Percy needed protection. She just... got paranoid when he was away from her. Let's face it, he isn't the luckiest guy out there, you know?
Chapter One: Welcome to the Jungle
I don't like thunderstorms. I never have, and never will. Even under the protection of the camp's boundaries, the thunder was deep and ominous, and the rain could be seen dark and heavy on the top of the hill. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a scared person. After everything I've been through, few things have the privilege to frighten me.
Maybe that's what brought me here, hugging my overlarge T-shirt to my body and speed walking to the Big House because I can't sleep. Lightning struck so bright, that it lit up the grass an eerie blue, and illuminated the pathway I was walking on.
I don't like thunderstorms. Especially those with lightning; it baffles me, how anyone can find them pretty, or beautiful at all. What is pretty about thousands of electrons jolting the earth and creating heat three times that of the Sun? Nothing.
And maybe I was running from that dream again. The one that struck a chord so deep inside my chest, it had hardly ever been touched before. It started out the same way every night, I was standing on a beach, staring at the ocean, but it was different. Everything was green, a vivid, brilliant green, churning and twisting with the tempestuous waves that rolled in the water. It seemed as though the very sea itself was humming with tension, taut as a bow string, ready to snap at any moment. Throughout the entire dream, that felt like it lasted for hours, I stood there and analyzed it, searching for the reason it didn't follow my conceptions. No answer ever stood out. And it bugged me.
It had ended differently tonight, though. Instead of fading into the mumbles of my other, normal dreams; it had ended with a heart stopping slash of pure black, like a haphazard slash of a paintbrush, silencing it all. And then I heard this laughing, this maniacal, chilling chuckle that radiated from far below and wrecked the vulnerable emotion of my original dream.
It was like it had been tainted, stained with evil.
But then suddenly the black wasn't threatening anymore, no longer sending fear running up my spine. It turned into lines, ones that were curved. As the dream started falling away from me, I recognized what the lines had been.
They were eyelashes; ridiculously long, black eyelashes, blinking innocently, pushing the alarm from my system and sending me sliding reluctantly into the real world.
I didn't understand any of it, whatsoever. It was of the ocean, which made me assume that Poseidon was trying to send me some sort of message. Yet that didn't fit either, a Big Three god wouldn't single me out. And for some reason, I knew it wasn't from him. It didn't give me that feeling. The dream (excluding the ending) was usually tense, dizzying, and confusing, but not old. I've gotten dream messages from my mother, and this had nothing in common with it.
A loud boom of thunder made me fly up and scurry the rest of the way to the Big House. I left my dignity at the bottom of the bottom of the stairs and hastily pounded on the door before sliding in without an okay.
Chiron was sitting at a small coffee table towards the wall, facing the window and peering with a critical eye into the dark clouds above us. It was almost as if he was looking for something… or someone.
He sighed heavily and faced me, his eyes clouded. "Annabeth, has sleep escaped you tonight, too?"
I nodded miserably, grabbing the blanket he held out to me and deflating into the hard wooden chair across from him. Ants were crawling up my spine. I had no idea why I was so tense; it was related to the storm, but something else was fueling it.
"What's with this weather lately?"
Chiron's mouth flattened into a stiff line and he said, "I suppose passing it off as a minor fluke wouldn't be accepted by you, would it?"
That almost got a sliver of humor out of me, and I laughed and gripped the hot cup of tea that had mysteriously materialized in front of me. The scent wafted up to my nose and I breathed it in, muscles loosening and tension fleeing.
"Has it ever?"
Chiron chuckled tiredly and looked out the window once more.
"Are you looking for something?" I asked, curiosity overruling courtesy.
He shook his head slowly and turned his wheelchair, rolling towards a shelf and picking a newspaper up and throwing it on the table. The headline read in big black letters:
FREAK THUNDERSTORMS SCOURING THE EAST COAST
I read the article through, skimming over strange accidents, dead animals, and destroyed homes. The whole thing gave me a headache. What was going on with the gods? What was so monumental that they were wrecking the country for?
"Chiron," I asked. "I want to help. It's getting serious. What are they fighting over?"
"Annabeth, you know I'm only at liberty to say so much. You will get your chance, I promise you."
It got frustrating that he said that so much. I have no patience. Just sitting here, like a bump on a log, doing nothing, was killing me.
"I'm just sick of waiting… I want to help."
Chiron gave me one of his looks—the one that said your time will come, not unlike a Star Wars reenactment with fur and four legs.
"Annabeth, you must wait for the right per—."
An exceptionally loud crack of thunder shook the Big House and Chiron nearly rose out of his wheelchair while I rushed to the window. I put my hand on the cold pane and watched in awe as the rain pounded on the ground. My stomach sunk deeper. I was starting to hallucinate things, because I could've sworn that the thunder sounded like growling. Like there was a monster at the top of the hill.
"Chiron, it sounds like something's up there. Should I go…"
"No," he started quickly, analyzing the storm as if he saw something I didn't. "The borders are strong."
I shook my head. "But still, there could be something—."
I tipped my head at the sudden whimsical, yet serious tone of his voice. It was the comforting one, like he knew things were happening but he couldn't do anything about it. He had adopted the same look when he watched me slay my first monster when I was eight.
"What?" I asked slowly.
"Do you trust me?"
He looked sad.
"What? Chiron, of course I trust you."
An unearthly roar that was definitely not thunder made the floors vibrate. Worry curdled in my stomach and I desperately searched for a sign of a monster.
I opened my mouth to protest, before he cut me off. "Don't go out there."
"We need to see what he can do."
My eyes widened. "What? Chiron! If there's a new camper coming we need to help them! Who knows what could be out there!"
A forceful gust of wind thrashed the side of the building. Everything went eerily still. The rain was now a distant rushing sound. We must have been in the eye of the storm. Chiron's face was still, troubled. He was seeing something I wasn't; because there was no way he would just let an inexperienced child die without sending help, or going out there himself.
He avoided my incredulous look and rolled towards the door. If I strained my ears, I could hear a faint sound. Someone… crying?
Rarely did I ever disobey Chiron, but I couldn't take it anymore. How could I blatantly ignore someone in pain? I swung the door open. It was still outside, but I wasn't really focusing, because I completely missed the kid in front of me. I didn't move, half-stunned and shocked.
A boy. He was stumbling up the steps, tears running down his mud-streaked cheeks and one arm wrapped around Grover, dragging and then clumsily dropping him onto the porch. He was crying and sobbing and gasping for air, and holy crap what was I supposed to do? The boy's quivering knees finally gave out and I flinched when I heard them connect with the floor.
"Mom," he whimpered, coughing and collapsing to his side on the porch.
I held the door open, heard Chiron's sharp intake of breath, and the calm inhale of my own.
The boy rolled onto his back with a muted groan. He was covered in mud. Rainwater had plastered black hair, and maybe it was dark brown, to his forehead. There was a deep gash running down his temple, blood rolling down the bridge of his nose and leaking into his closed lids. It must have bothered him, because his eyes fluttered open.
And this was the moment. The one I'd been waiting for months, years even.
Green. His eyes were beautiful. A beautiful, surging, green sea; the exact one I'd seen in my dream. They were rushing with an angry mess of emotions that I couldn't even begin to decipher. Even muted by pain and the closeness of unconsciousness they were unnervingly bright. They were lined by deep black eyelashes, long and curled, the same ones that constantly warded off the evil.
He looked up at me with absolutely no comprehension, eyes clouded and troubled.
"He's the one," I breathed. "He must be."
Chiron's faced was creased with a worry that I couldn't place and he said, "Silence, Annabeth. He's still conscious. Bring him inside."
The boy's eyelids were slowly sinking shut, those haunting green eyes disappearing from my view.
"Not for very long," I whispered, crouching down beside him. Behind me, I could hear Chiron climbing out of his wheelchair, because there was no way Grover or the boy were walking inside on their own steam. Grover was stirring, mumbling something about Diet Coke and stretching his back legs out. That was almost reassuring, because if Grover could talk about food, he would be fine. The distinct clopping of Chiron's hooves on the wooden floor announced his arrival.
Chiron knelt in front of Grover, who was sprawled a few inches in front us, and needed to be moved in order to get to the boy. Expert hands shook the satyr's shoulder and assessed the lump on the back of his head.
Grover's eyes snapped open and he lurched up with a strangled gasp, "Percy!"
"He's right next to you, Grover." Chiron said, handing him a piece of ambrosia patting his back.
Grover looked to the ground next to him and groaned. "Oh, man, Percy. Gods, I messed up. Is he okay? The-the Minotaur! His mom… He stabbed it!"
"I do suggest you go get some rest, Grover. Annabeth and I will take care of Percy. You can come back in the morning. I'm sure Dionysus will want to speak with you about this recent… problem, you've come across."
Grover stumbled to his feet with Chiron's help and gave the boy—Percy—one last look before disappearing into the woods.
The boy was utterly still. Under the yellow light of the fan, I could see the watery blood that was sticking his hair to his forehead. Chiron shuffled forward on his knees pressed his hand to the wound, features dark with worry.
"You never do anything halfway, do you, Percy?"
In an attempt to comfort him, which was pointless, I said, "We've had ones come in looking worse."
He sighed heavily and nodded. "I suppose so, although he looks quite worrisome. Why don't we get him inside?"
He made it sound like a two-man project, when in reality there wasn't much I could do to help. Chiron threaded one hand under Percy's shoulders and another under his knees and lifted him off the ground like he was just a small child.
I don't know why the scene was rocking me so hard; I'd seen Chiron carry plenty of injured campers.
But maybe it was because I'd never seen him carry someone who looked so defeated. The boy's left arm was swinging freely and blood was dripping from his fingers, and his head was threatening to tip over Chiron's elbow, except that the centaur adjusted him at the last minute and hefted him up higher so the boy's face was resting against his shoulder, and gods why was I so affected by this?
"Could you get the door for me?" Chiron asked, gesturing towards the entryway. Finally gathering myself, because there was no way I cared that much that this kid looked so sad, but maybe I did, because he was the possible answer to my problems, I lurched to my feet and held open the door.
Chiron stepped through, bypassing the curious looks of Mr. D and headed straight into the infirmary. He laid the boy down carefully on the closest bed to the door. The room was completely empty, which was good; Percy definitely didn't need any obnoxious gawkers watching him heal.
He pressed his hand to Percy's chest and frowned. "Three broken ribs."
"Are you going to heal him?" I asked quietly. I had never actually seen him do it before. I was never around when the injuries were grave enough to warrant it, and ambrosia and nectar usually did the trick.
"Marginally. I wouldn't want to overload his system and the rest should be taken care of quite smoothly."
With that, he folded his front legs and bent over Percy, his hand on his head, and his lips moving in a silent prayer. And maybe I was hallucinating, but I could've sworn his hand glowed golden for a few seconds and then died.
Percy sighed, breathing deeper.
Chiron stood, looking down at Percy with a satisfied glance and then turned to me. "The rest can be solved with rest and ambrosia. Could I ask you to find clothes for him? I don't suppose I have any in the house to fit."
"He's really small."
Chiron chuckled quietly. I hightailed it out the door.
I managed to rifle through some of Malcolm's stuff and stole a pair of sweatpants and a shirt that I thought might fit him. Everyone was still asleep in my cabin, which looked weird and foreign to me, considering how wired I was.
Chiron took the clothes with an appreciative glance and I left the room. When he waved me in five minutes later, Percy was dry, save the damp hair, and curled on his side, looking completely exhausted and out.
Chiron instructed me to feed him ambrosia when he started waking up and I pretended not to notice him pull up the blanket and settled it over Percy's shoulder. It made my heart blossom with fondness; thousands of years old and he still cared for his students.
I settled down on the chair next to Percy's bed.
He looked a lot better now that he was clean and not covered with blood. Pulling my legs onto the chair, I rested my head on my hand.
"I hope you're the one." I whispered.
Unsurprisingly, I didn't get a response. The adrenaline was starting to die down, tempered by the soft lighting and the repetitive sound of breathing. It had to be around two in the morning. He was already a lot of work.
I didn't even remember sliding into sleep.
"Mom…I can't—. Why's it.. working. Monster. Mrs. Dodds…"
I leaned forward, struggling to make sense of the words spilling from his mouth. His head was rolling side to side, arms twitching as he fought off unknown horrors in his dreams.
"It's all… dark," he said breathlessly. "Eat me. Grover…furry. Bad math teacher. Wings."
His eyebrows furrowed even tighter and he clenched the blankets in his hands.
"Mom." With a pitiful whimper, he lurched to his side and cried out, "Dead."
My hand fluttered over his shoulder helplessly; there was nothing I could do. I had heard the story from Grover. How their car had crashed; Percy stabbing the Minotaur after his mother disappeared in a shower of golden light, and pulling Grover all the way down the hill.
He was in pain. I put my hand on his shoulder, trying to coax him to roll over to his back. He tensed, and then relented, back to supine.
"Hey, there, Percy. I'm about to give you ambrosia, okay? It's this stuff that makes you feel better, promise."
I was hoping I'd get through to him so he wouldn't try and fight me on this. I wasn't interested in force-feeding someone today. Percy's eyes remained firmly closed. Despite the restlessness that had held a tenacious hold on him, he still looked exhausted, like moving was work.
Figuring that he'd take it a lot better if he was sitting up more, I piled some pillows behind his back and spooned a little bit of it into his mouth. He flinched away, but swallowed regardless, too tired to fight.
It never ceased to amaze me how well ambrosia worked. Percy relaxed instantly, tension fleeing his body and the pain lines smoothing in his face.
"Better," he sighed slowly, sinking into the pillows.
I snorted and managed to get him to take in another few spoonfuls before he fell asleep again.
His eyes were open.
At first, it didn't even register in my mind, but as soon as that vibrant green smacked me in the face, I gathered myself.
"What will happen at the summer solstice?"
His eyebrows crinkled and he asked, "What?" His voice sounded terrible.
I looked around, scared that Chiron or Argus were going to catch me interrogating a guy who'd been asleep for the past day and a half.
"What's going on? What was stolen? We've only got a few weeks!" I rushed.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, "I don't…"
Somebody knocked on the door, and in a panic, I shoved more ambrosia into Percy's mouth and turned around.
I heard muffled voices, and figured that a camper must have intercepted Chiron. Laughing at my luck, I looked behind me and sighed with relief when I saw that Percy was asleep.
But the knock on the door came again and Chiron walked in the room.
"How is he?" he asked.
"Better than he was before."
Chiron stepped forward to assess him for himself. When he rested his hand on Percy's forehead, Percy shrugged away and rolled onto his side, huffing with irritation. Chiron stared at him in blank surprise until he chuckled and walked towards the door.
"You've done a great job, Annabeth. He should be waking up soon. We'll see if we can move him to the porch in a couple hours."
And with that, he walked out.
I managed to catch a few more hours of sleep before I woke up to the afternoon sunshine on my face. I realized I woke up to Chiron walking out the door. I noticed the empty bed, and the twisted sheets, and went after him. We ended up on the porch and he laid Percy down on a deck chair. Percy rolled on his side, mumbling something along the lines of, "Thanks, Mom."
Chiron and I both kept our faces smooth as if those two whispered words didn't make dread curl in our stomachs.
"He should wake up within the hour. I have a game of pinochle with Dionysus waiting for me."
He still looked a little pale, so I ran back into the house and filled a glass with nectar, adding my own personal touch of a cherry with an umbrella stuck through it.
I set the cup on the table beside Percy and threw a blanket over his waist.
Snorting, I turned away and shook my head.
"You better be the one."
So, how's the first one look?
You see, I'm trying to balance this out, by downgrading the thought process of Annabeth. She's only 12 during this scene, and she doesn't know Percy. It was an interesting challenge. I already have a SoM scene down, and I'm positive that the next one I do is going to go up really fast-it's when Percy gets bit by the scorpion. And I'm just bursting with ideas for it :)
Once again, my apologies about Divided They Fall. I'm having a really tough time pooping out the next chapter . It's just stuck.
Ha. Didya like the pun there? Purty yucky. I downgraded the humor in this one too. Because, Annabeth really doesn't have the great sense of humor like Percy does; she's more of the logical scale of things. Not as much fun to write, but still enjoyable.
Otherwise, plenty more fluff to come.
(Another update.) I'm coming out with a different one-shot. Here's the summary, if you're interested:
"The longer Percy and Annabeth are best friends, the more she begins to think about him... that way."
It's probably going in the same format All Along the Watchtower went, if you read that. Review and tell me what you think it's going to be about :) And if you get super close, I'll probably reply and tell you about it. 'Cause it's pretty funny.
And while you're at it, review for this one, too! :)
Song credits go to Guns 'N' Roses- I thought it fit. :)