It's my first PJO fic! Yay! But seriously, it's kind of a dark one, with character death and all, but meh, what can you do. The story happens in the yet unwritten last book of the HoO, and has major Percabeth. I have a plan to someday maybe add another chapter on someone else's POV, but I'll see about that later. This was kindly beta'd by love-serenades, and she is brilliant. Go check out her stories. Go! Oh, and one more thing: I got the idea for this while listening to the song "Born to die," hence the title.
Born to die
We were running for our lives.
I admit, I do that pretty often, but this wasn't your average oh-my-gods-we're-going-to-die kind of running, but more like
oh-my-gods-if-we-get-crushed-under-this-mountain-the-giants-will-win-our-friends-will-die-and-the-world-as-we-know-it-will-endkind. Yeah, something like that.
Back to running.
Gaea had tricked us underground and was doing her best to collapse our tunnel. I was trying to control the earthquakes and Hazel was leading us the right way while holding the tunnel up with her powers. Jason and Frank were right behind her, ready for any monsters that might wait for us ahead. Leo and Piper came after them, Leo providing us light with his flaming hand. Annabeth and I were last, fighting off the few monsters that kept coming at us from Zeus knows where.
I was wearing down, and I guessed Annabeth was too. We had been fighting for too long and Riptide was starting to feel heavy in my hand. Annabeth's breathing was rough, but when she glanced back at me over her shoulder, her intelligent eyes shone with energy.
Some more running and a couple of monsters later, things started to go really wrong. The mountain was shook by the strongest earthquake yet. I skidded to a halt and used all my strength and concentration to fight the tremors.
Unfortunately, while I was distracted with doing my "Son of the Earthshaker" thing, another servant of Gaea's sneaked up on me from behind and slashed at my back. I took a wild swipe at it, but it dodged, snarled at me and lunged for my left shoulder. I fell on my back with a cry and my concentration broke. The bite made my shoulder feel like it was burning up. The monster hovered above me, preparing to finish me off, but right then, Annabeth's knife flew through the air and the creature turned into a cloud of dust with an indignant wail.
Now that there was no one stopping her, Gaea's full wrath crashed upon us. Through my hazy vision, I saw Hazel stumbling as she struggled with the enormous effort of keeping the tunnel from collapsing. I was still too dazed from the pain to help. I could hear yelps and the sound of people falling down as the earth shook all around us.
The earthquake became even more violent and I heard a familiar voice screaming my name. After that, the world turned into a mess of crumbling and falling stone, dust, and agony.
I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see. I would've screamed in pain if I hadn't been in danger of suffocating from the dust if I opened my mouth. Time seemed to drag on as I was slowly getting buried alive.
And then it was over. I breathed in deeply, then winced at the sharp pain that erupted from my shoulder and lungs.
I heard voices, and soon there was someone clearing rubble off of me. Annabeth's voice reached my ears from somewhere close. "Percy! Percy, can you hear me?"
I cracked my eyes open and saw Annabeth's face hovering over mine. Her expression morphed from concern to relief, and then right back to concern. "Can you feel your legs?"
It hadn't really hit me until she said that. I did feel them, and I was hoping I didn't. They hurt like Hades. Like fire. I glanced at them and winced. Like they were crushed under a few tons of rock.
"I can," I croaked, wincing again.
I could see Leo and Piper behind Annabeth, and Jason a little further away. They were all pale-faced and covered in dust and sweat. Frank and Hazel were probably somewhere close, but out of my line of sight.
Annabeth was digging through her backpack and soon brought out a flask of nectar. She poured some of it on my shoulder wound and let me drink a few sips. I inhaled sharply as the drink stung at the wound, then relaxed when it eased my pain and cleared my mind- just in time, for Gaea hadn't given up yet. Hazel and Frank appeared in my vision, faces lined with worry.
The tunnel started to shake again, and Hazel abruptly stiffened as she closed her eyes to support the tunnel. I squeezed my eyes shut in concentration, trying to calm the earthquake, but it was just too strong. I gasped, "Go! Leave me!"
I had expected the protests, but they still warmed my heart. Through the various sounds of protest I could make out Frank's deep "We're not leaving you!" and Piper's high and melodic "You can't be serious, Percy!" I saw the fire on Leo's hand that was threatening to spread all over him. I was surprised that Annabeth had stayed silent and had instead started moving away the rocks covering my entire lower body. It was impossible, but before I could say anything about it, Gaea doubled her efforts.
"I can't hold the tunnel much longer here," Hazel warned us, her voice strained.
"Go!" I managed through gritted teeth. Again, there were protests, but they were cut short when a chunk of the ceiling came crashing down.
While everyone was recovering, I caught Jason's eye, who hadn't said a word but was wearing a pained expression. I sent him a meaningful look, knowing he would understand. We were alike in many ways, and I knew he, too, had accepted the fact that there were things larger and greater than a single person.
He sent me a regretful look in return, letting me know he didn't want to do this. Then he gathered his Roman authority and said, "We can't stay here; the tunnel won't last much longer!"
"No!" came the immediate response from Leo. "We can't leave him, he'll die!" He looked horrified and was steaming all over from panic and frustration.
"We don't have a choice!" I was surprised to see tears on Jason's cheeks. "It's either P-Percy," his voice cracked on my name, "or all of us! We don't have time!"
Nobody spoke, because they knew it was true. Annabeth was still desperately trying to clear away the stones, her face tight.
The quake eased enough for me to regain my ability to speak. "The world is not going to end because of me! You have to leave me behind, it's the only way."
I stared at the ceiling blankly. I didn't want to see the tears.
Jason walked to Annabeth, who was still kneeling next to me, trying to move the rubble. He asked her something, too quiet for me to hear over the rumbling of the earth. She answered shortly and sharply. He didn't give up, and finally she turned to look at him and told him something. He blinked, and got a strange, slightly awed expression. She turned back to the rocks, completely ignoring him.
The mountain shook violently again, creating cracks in our tunnel. "Go!" Jason and I yelled simultaneously. Giving me one last look, Hazel ran to lead the way again. The others followed suit until only Jason was left. He looked at me with pain in his eyes and said, "I'm sorry."
I nodded, giving him a small smile to tell him that I didn't blame him, and he ran after the others.
For a while, I concentrated completely on the earthquake, but once its centre moved away from where I was, I realized Annabeth was still working on the dauntingly high pile of stone and rubble. My stomach clenched in fear.
"What are you doing? You have to go before they get too far!"
"I'm not going," she said, not even looking at my way.
"Please," I begged, although I knew it wouldn't work.
She finally gave up on freeing me from under the weight of the rocks and turned to face me instead. There was an intense fire in her eyes.
"Percy, be honest with me. If this was the other way around, would you leave?"
Looking at her beautiful, dusty, tear-streaked face, I knew the answer. I could never leave her to die, not when I would have the chance to stay with her.
I remembered how back at the Styx, when my whole being was dissolving and nothing else mattered in this mortal world enough to keep me here, she was the one who appeared to me. And when I forgot almost everything, even myself, she was the one I remembered. The two of us had long ago reached the point of no return, and we hadn't even slowed down while crossing it.
"No. I wouldn't."
It hurt. It hurt so bad that she was going to die for me, because of me- with me-but I knew nothing I could do would change it.
The Fates truly are cruel, but, if I'm completely honest with myself, I knew my luck couldn't last forever. I'm a hero, and heroes don't gethappily ever afters. Nothing can change the fact that demigods are born to fight, born to die. At least Aphrodite would get her tragic love story.
We were both crying freely now. Annabeth leaned in to give me a light kiss. I barely felt it.
"I love you, Seaweed Brain."
"I love you too, Wise Girl."
I closed my eyes and felt her breath on my cheek as she whispered: "We'll see each other in Elysium. It'll only be a moment, and then we'll have the rest of eternity, just for us. We'll meet Silena and Beckendorf again, and all the others too. Percy?"
I smiled to let her know I had heard her. I felt Gaea turning her attention back to us. She was furious. Her prey had escaped. Well, not all of it…
The earthquakes started again, but Annabeth kept talking over the rumble, her fingers running through my messy hair gently as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"Remember our first quest? When we went to the tunnel of love? And how we got past Cerberus? Then at the sea of monsters, with Tyson. You were cute as a guinea pig, you know." She gave me a wan smile through her tears.
She kept talking about our adventures together until I couldn't hear her over the goddess's rage anymore.
I looked into her gray eyes. There were cracks on the ceiling above us, and the ground was rumbling louder than ever.
Right before the end came, I saw her mouth four words. I love you, Percy.
The mountain collapsed on us.