The other campers pity me. Only Annabeth deliberately seeks me out for sparring practice. Sometimes, I think she's letting me win, just to remind me that I'm a fighter. That I won't give in. That one failed quest can't ruin this.

Sunset's light – scarlet flashes across the sky. That's when we meet, every night, alone in the starlight. We stand on the porch, trying to hide the silence with lifeless words. But it feels like there's a rock in my chest, like I've frozen over, a layer of ice covering me. I have to shield myself from her. I've never had to hide from her before, but now I need to. For both of us.

There are times when one of us loses control, comes too close. Anything, sometimes the most unexpected things, can trigger it. One careless word. One slip, a secret confession escaping, hovering uncertainly in the air between us.

I frighten her on some nights. I curse the gods, curse Mount Olympus. I swear that when I earn my way, when I leave this stupid camp on a real quest, I will ensure that Annabeth's goals are realized. I will set her free from her bonds. I will fight the deadly force of fate. I will outwit the gods and the games they play with us.

There are times when we break down, only when nobody's watching. Her tears start again, slowly at first, and she blinks them away... but it still hurts to see her like that. Sometimes, I just glare at the sky and swear I will find a way to change this. Restart. Rebuild.

Once, her resolve falters, I feel her pull in closer, and I can't bring myself to push her away. Close now. Closer. She practically falls into me, resting her head against my chest, her arms wrapped around me in a hug that's too tight to be casual. Her eyes close; she's safe here. The jagged, trembling rise and fall of her chest against mine sends a chill, a shudder, shivering up my spine.


Come close, and then even closer
We bring it in, but we go no further


I can't help myself. I hold her there. I wrap one arm around her, pressing her tightly against me, and place the other on her shoulder, against the side of her neck. Her soft hair intertwines with my fingers.

I don't just hear, but feel the sigh of relief that escapes her. I can feel her breathing. Her heart thuds hollowly against my chest. Our heartbeats race together, tumbling too fast, but neither of us care. Neither of us has the strength to pull away.

Close. Closer.

But no further. Not now.

We don't kiss again. There are times when we hover on the edge, so close, listening to each other's breathing. But we don't. Somehow. We care enough for each other to hold back, so much as we can. We both have obligations. We can't let this go too far, can't hold each other back.

The words carry on, but the fire is gone. It burns beneath the surface, dangerous passion, but in hiding it we both can feel our connection slipping away.

She looks pale, not porcelain, in the moonlight. Her lips tremble on words that start but don't escape into audible sound, because she has to restrain them. I try to crack jokes, but when I hear her laughter, see that familiar sparkle in her grey eyes, my thoughts scatter and I lose myself in her.


We're separate
Two ghosts in one mirror, no nearer


But we have to try. I owe her that much. We're more than friends, less than lovers. We're family. Always have been.

Family is worth fighting for.


A/N: Thank you for the reviews! OhMyFinnickOdair: Read the books, I tell you! Read them! You will love them! SparkoftheForgotten: Omigosh! :) I almost made you cry! MIGHTYRULEROFGUMMYBEARS: Gosh, you've reviewed ALL of my PJO fics... thanks for the review, but, uh, you're kind of... freaking me out. xD

Thanks, guys. R&R!

More to come. I'm not out of song lyrics just yet!