Percy Jackson was not, by nature, a selfish person.
But—and he swore it up and down by every god he knew—Annabeth Chase was his and his alone.
He supposed he had a right to be selfish, though—he couldn't survive without her anymore. They were two parts of a single whole, so in tune with the other's feelings that they were practically the same person.
Percy and Annabeth, his mind whispered again. There can never be one without the other.
He was not someone who cried often, if at all, yet he couldn't stop a few tears from leaking down his cheeks when the girl in his arms shifted into a more comfortable position in her sleep. She's alive. We're alive.
"Don't cry, Seaweed Brain," she whispered sleepily, twisting her fingers into the fabric of his t-shirt. His heart thumped faster beneath her hand.
"I just can't believe we both survived Tartar—you-know-where," he murmured back, brushing his finger across a stray curl trailing across her forehead. They were trying not to say the name too much (not in these early days, anyway; the pain for both of them was just too great).
"I know." She adjusted herself on the narrow bed so her head rested on his chest. "I wasn't expecting it, either."
"Aren't we full of sunshine and rainbows." He wrapped a protective arm around her back, pinning her close to him. "You know, Wise Girl, it's nice when something's not trying to brutally murder us every five seconds."
She laughed—her first real laugh since they left Epirus—and he had to smile. The laugh brought back a warm, peaceful memory: an old bedtime story his mom used to tell him when he was younger. How did it go again?
Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
How selfish he was; he wanted to pull her closer to him, wind his fingers through her hair, feel her heart beat against his and in doing so forsake the world.