Long Island Sound glittered in the silvery moonlight as I stared toward the mess hall. I was waiting for Tyson to finish slapping blue icing on Percy's birthday cupcake so I could bring it to him.

"Annabeth!" I heard Tyson exclaim from behind me. "It is finished!"

I wheeled around to see Percy's Cyclops half-brother holding out what looked like a lumpy blue brick. Percy probably wouldn't care how it looked, as long as Tyson had made it—it's the sentiment that counts, right?

"Thanks, Tyson," I said with a grin, carefully extracting the lump from his hands. "I'll bring it to Percy."

"Oh! Wait!" He produced a slightly bent blue candle from the pocket of his jeans and stuffed it into the top of what was now the saddest-looking cupcake I had ever seen, then whipped out a lighter and lit the candle.

"Great!" Cradling the mess in my palms, I headed off toward the mess hall.

Most of the campers had trickled out, but Percy was sitting alone at the Poseidon table, gazing out at the Sound. Carefully, so as not to startle him and earn a faceful of Riptide, I slid onto the bench beside him.

"Hey," I murmured, holding out the cupcake. "Happy birthday."

He stared at me. "What?"

Fighting the urge to roll my eyes, I replied, "It's August eighteenth. Your birthday, right?"

He looked stunned, so I said in a gentler tone, "Make a wish."

"Did you bake this yourself?"

"Tyson helped."

A look of understanding passed over his face. "That explains why it looks like a chocolate brick. With extra blue cement."

I laughed as he thought for a few seconds, then blew out the candle, cut the cupcake in half, and passed one part to me. We ate in silence for a while, listening to the sounds of things in the woods.

"You saved the world," I said quietly, still in awe of the boy beside me. How could he not be aware of (as a younger Nico probably would have put it) his sheer awesomeness?

He fixed me with his piercing green gaze. "We saved the world."

"And Rachel is the new Oracle, which means she won't be dating anybody." The selfish part of me was gloating at this fact—like maybe, just maybe, I would get to keep this hero for myself.

"You don't sound disappointed," he noticed.

I shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. "Oh, I don't care."

"Uh-uh."

This made me raise an eyebrow. "You got something to say to me, Seaweed Brain?"

"You'd probably kick my butt."

"You know I'd kick your butt."

He brushed the cake off his hands. "When I was at the river Styx, turning invulnerable...Nico said I had to concentrate on one thing that kept me anchored to the world, that made me want to stay mortal."

I kept my eyes locked on the horizon, trying to force down the sudden excitement welling in my chest. "Yeah?

"Then up on Olympus," he said, "when they wanted to make me a god and stuff, I kept thinking—"

"Oh, you so wanted to." This stung a little bit, though I couldn't quite pinpoint why.

"Well, maybe a little. But I didn't, because I thought—I didn't want things to stay the same for eternity, because things could always get better. and I was thinking..."

"Anyone in particular?" I asked softly. I was trying very, very hard not to let the manic grin show on my face.

"You're laughing at me," Percy complained in a whiny toddler voice.

"I am not!"

"You are so not making this easy."

I laughed for real, and before I knew what I was doing, I had my arms around his neck. "I am never, ever going to make things easy for you, Seaweed Brain. Get used to it."

And then I kissed him. Suddenly I had trouble remembering what my name was, or what tied me to this earth—and then it came flooding back. He was what held me here now. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, the most wonderful, amazing person possibly ever to enter my life—the voice in my head warned that I was getting carried away, but I couldn't care less. His arms were tightening around my waist, pulling me closer (if that was even possible) when we were suddenly interrupted.

"Well, it's about time!"

Torchlight and demigods flooded the pavilion, Clarisse in the lead, and we were hoisted onto the shoulders of the crowd.

"Oh, come on!" I heard Percy complain. "Is there no privacy?

"The lovebirds need to cool off!" Clarisse cried, her tone gleeful.

"The canoe lake!" screamed Connor Stoll over the shouting crowds.

A roaring cheer went up, and the mass of campers began moving toward the lake, though Percy and I were kept close enough to hold hands. His face was as bright red as Dionysus's strawberries—I was fairly sure mine was the same from laughing so hard.

I only let go of his hand the moment we were plunged into the lake, but I knew that he had another trick up his sleeve, being Poseidon's son and all. And I wasn't disappointed—he created a giant air bubble at the bottom of the lake, pulled me closer to him, and picked up where we left off in the pavilion.

And it was pretty much the best underwater kiss of all time

—•—

A/N: I promised it, so here is your Percabeth. Everything you recognize belongs to Rick Riordan. Got that? Good, now no one can sue me.

Gods, I love these two…

EPC