I got this idea only an hour or so after finishing Mark of Athena, and it was too bittersweet now to persue. Very sad, and rather unsatisfactory. Kind of an "oh. . so close" sort of short story. . . .Well, enjoy it!

Annabeth doesn't remember finally hitting the grounds of Tartarus. She just remembers the endless darkness sucking her farther and farther into it's depths, than a BANG, and than she couldn't feel anything at all.

Annabeth opens her eyes, vision blurry, she feels Percy Jackson's hand is still in hers, she turns her head left and sees him unconscious. She feels his hand, his grip is still unusually tight for someone insensible. With difficulty, she raises as much as she can, propping up on her elbow.

It is still dark; but the dark is disturbed slightly by a ray of glowing orange light up ahead.

"Lava," Annabeth suggests to herself, misty grey eyes narrowing.

Slowly, she takes her hand out from Percy's grip and tries to stir him.

"Percy, Percy! We - We made it! We're still alive! -"

"Ah, I'd let him sleep if I were you."

Annabeth shrieks, scooting away from Percy's limp form. She looks up - a shining bright light is in front of her, blocking out further darkness as well. Annabeth squints, and looks closer.

And when she does, her heart stops.


Luke Castellan looks down at Annabeth, a sad, yet elated gleam in his eye. "Annabeth, you look beautiful."

Annabeth was frozen, but the little part of her brain that was still in working order says otherwise. With a broken leg, dirt etched on her face, and spider webs entangled in her hair, she is no beauty. Or at least not now.

She thinks Luke is the true beautiful one here; he looks the complete contrast to when she last saw him. His skin is glowing, his blonde hair is shiny and clean-looking, the scar that had been across his face for so long was no more. He looked whole, fuller, and yet he looked down at Annabeth as if she were a goddess herself.

He had never looked more handsome.

"Yeah, death's improved me a lot." He says, as if he were reading her thoughts all along. "You've grown so much, Annabeth."

He's looking at her like he did all those years ago, he's speaking to her like he did all those years ago, with softness, with kindness. Annabeth feels tears well up in her eyes.

"I don't have much time. . " He says, and as he said it Annabeth could see his image flickering slightly. "I need to repeat my question. ."

Annabeth's stomach clenched; she knew the question.

Luke narrowed his eyes. "Did you love me?"

The darkness of Tartarus seemed to seep into her heart, shrinking and crushing it. Her memory returned to Mount Olympus, seeing the strength zap out of Luke's body, his hand going limp, his eyes closing. .

But she said no. She said no to his feelings. She said no nicely, because Percy had taken his place, the image of Percy's smile made her warm. But the idea of Luke's soft smile, his touch, his embrace made her even warmer.

"I thought," Luke began, stepping closer. "that you had said no because of Percy, because we weren't alone. . . was a wrong again?"

Annabeth took a shaky breath, as if it would calm her nerves. "No."

There was a cutting silence. Luke knelt beside her, Annabeth's eyes skimmed over his form again. He leans forward, giving her a soft kiss on the lips. Annabeth doesn't push him away, she can't, she doesn't have the strength. . nor the desire to. .

"I was hoping I was right. . . " Luke said, emitting a small, sad smile. "I think, no matter how much I love you, I don't think I could ever deserve you."

His words comfort her as much as hurt as, Annabeth smiles back with difficulty. She brings her hand up and touches the warm presence of that is Luke Castellan.

"I'm going to have to say goodbye again. . "

Annabeth strains her eyes to keep him in view, and when he's finally disappeared, Annabeth barely notices Percy stirring beside her.

In which my first Lukabeth story is about Luke meeting Annabeth in Tartarus and them declaring love for each other. Could I be more horrible?