disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Sonya. Happy birthday, my gorgeous girl.
notes: I ship this pairing so hard it hurts.

title: running south
summary: A stolen truck, a joyride, and the world without any limits. — Percy/Annabeth.

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The problem was, the whole thing was kind of… stupid.

Everyone knew that living to thirty was lucky (at least if you've got godhood in your veins), and that waiting around didn't really make sense, because saving yourself was easier in the long run anyway. Annabeth had always been the kind of girl to save herself. She'd never waited around for a boy to swing a sword and oh, save me, save me! She'd never wanted that. Never needed it.

(The thought actually sort of made her a little bit ill.)

She was nineteen and perfectly able to save herself.

So this… thing

It was really starting to get her down.

Annabeth ran her fingers through curly blonde locks of hair and glared out the window. This was pathetic. She'd checked her phone twelve times in the past half-hour, waiting to find a text from that idiot who made hey seem like the best word in the world.

It was stupid.

Thirty seconds later, she checked her phone again.

Still nothing.

Annabeth groaned and buried her face in crossed arms.

This was so stupid. She was so stupid.

Percy was—he was unreliable and dumb and stupid, stupid, stupid, you are so stupid, Annabeth, how could you even think that this would come to anything?

The kitchen table was probably going to get a dent in it from how many times she'd banged her forehead against it. Ow. The wood was cool underneath her flushed cheek and Annabeth shot a furtive glance at her phone. It wouldn't do any good to check again because she rationally knew that he hadn't because it hadn't made a sound but—

Bzzzzzzzz—bzzzzzzzzz—bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

If a yelp of terror escaped her, no one heard it. Annabeth dove at her phone, trying to type in the lock-code with shaking fingers and don't mess it up, oh my god, oh my god

It was a white text with black script and three simple words.

Come outside.
—Percy

She jumped up, heart pounding a thudding drumbeat against her ribs, blood rushing to her face. Her hands flew to her mouth to cover the smile that was determinedly working its way across her lips when she looked out the window and down to the street below. There was a truck sitting there amid the smoking rain gutters, still gushing steam and Annabeth was actually feeling giddy.

You do not do giddy, Annabeth Chase, she scolded herself.

Even as she did it, she was running around her father's apartment trying to find a coat and a hat and a scarf and—

Cool it, Chase. You're acting like a lovesick teenager, the always-calm voice in the back of her head said. It was probably smirking. Annabeth sent it a violent mental glare and went back to searching for a pair of mittens.

It wasn't winter yet, but it was getting close, and Annabeth had never dealt with the cold well.

(Plus, she sort of was a love-sick teenager, much as she hated to admit it. Then Percy's goofy grin made its way into her head, and she hated it a little bit less. He was such a dork.)

"Bye Dad!" she yelled into the recesses of the apartment. Her father's affirmation was vague and quiet and Annabeth paid it no heed as she rushed out the door, half-dressed and probably looking like a chicken with its head cut off. She finished pulling her jacket on as she ran down the stairs and burst out into the cold. The wind nipped at her cheeks. Her breath came out solid.

None of it registered.

The pavement was slippery under her feet. A dark shape moved in the recesses of the truck to open the door but Annabeth got there first; she swung herself up and into the gush of warmth coming from inside.

The first thing she saw was Percy's stupid grin.

She was suddenly thankful that the air was so cold. It disguised the blood pouring into her cheeks. "You—" she said, "—what are you doing here?"

"Hello to you too, Chase," Percy said, still grinning like a fool.

Annabeth decided that he needed to know this. "You're a moron."

"So mean, Annabeth," he laughed, and reached over to ruffle her hair.

She grimaced and ducked out of his reach. "Stop that," she ordered. "And drive already, would you?"

"Slave driver."

"You wish."

They fell back into the familiar pattern—they went back and forth as easy as breathing as the road sped away beneath them. Annabeth sat back in the cracked leather seat, running her fingers along the grooves.

"Where'd you even get this truck?" she asked.

"Stole it," Percy said, smiling widely.

She stared with her jaw unhinged. "You did not."

"Okay, okay, you're right. I didn't—"

Annabeth breathed a sigh of relief.

"—Grover did."

"What—he's supposed to keep you out of trouble! Oh my god, I don't even—I am telling Chiron!"

"Sure you are, Chase."

"You are impossible. Where are we going?"

"Somewhere your name makes little children cry," Percy actually smirked.

For a minute, Annabeth said nothing. She weighed the words carefully before she said them. "I would watch my mouth if I were you. I could totally kick your ass."

"Sure you could."

Annabeth narrowed her eyes. "Just what are you implying, Seaweed Brain?"

"Nothing, nothing!" he said. She thought he'd be flailing all over the place in his Percy-way if he wasn't determinedly holding on to the steering wheel. They stopped in the red glow of a stoplight, late-night and blood-coloured. She looked at him through her bangs, at the long streak of his nose, the tilt to his chin, down the nodule of his Adam's apple, the line and dip of his collar bones, and back to her hands with a lump in her throat.

"I missed you," she told her hands softly.

"Hold on," he said, signalling right, flicking the hazards on, and pulling to the curb. There was a look of intense concentration on his face. Annabeth's breath caught in her throat.

"Percy?"

"Just hold on, Annabeth," he muttered, and put the truck in park. It nearly stalled under his hands but he paid it no mind and turned to look at her, eyes liquid and dark. He was suddenly in her space, white-knuckled hands flexing.

"Hi," she whispered.

"Hey," he muttered in reply.

And he kissed her fiercely, then. Like thunder and lightning crashing in a storm, tipping her head back and pressing down, he held her there and kissed her and kissed her.

"I missed you, too," he said when he finally pulled away.

It was running up stairs with her heart in her throat; a (probably) stolen truck and a joyride and the world without any limits. Kissing underwater, under stars, in the eye of a hurricane; never wanting to breathe and never wanting anything but each other. Sparks and the rain on fire, giving way to little explosions of happiness up and down her spine. Like stumbling into something that was really, really amazing. Like a beach sunrise, with everything around her turned to gold. That was how he made her feel.

Iridescent as a butterfly wing.

That was how he made her feel.

Annabeth tucked her head into the crook of his neck, and smiled.

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fin.

notes2: first time writing for this fandom. hi. I just. Who doesn't ship Percy/Annabeth?
notes3: please don't Favourite/Alert without leaving a review! :)