Hello internet.

These chapters are going to be semi-short for me, 'cause it makes it easier to write. Hopefully, with that notion, I can actually finish a freakin story.

I'm not totally into the deep research for every little story I do, so I'm going with the general guidelines I know Paul to have been interwoven in the story. Generally. Kind of.

Yeah, so don't hate me if the timelines a bit screwy.

Enjoy

"Percy, you're an idiot."

"Gee, Annabeth, I can really feel the love."

"No, seriously, you're an idiot."

"Again, I feel so loved."

Annabeth scoffed and made to punch him in the shoulder, but stopped herself, and with an effort, managed to place her hands in her lap and intertwine them tensely.

"I'm being nice to you, if you couldn't tell." She said through gritted teeth.

"I wish you wouldn't, it's weirding me out." Percy commented dully, leaning back into the seat of the taxi they were taking home. Well, Percy was going home, and Annabeth was coming with him for some reason he couldn't understand. He didn't want to right now either.

Things were still stressed between them, the whole Luke thing was difficult, plus the war, plus Bianca and Zoe and Nico…

Gods, he was just so tried.

"Well I'm going to be nice to you, so get used to it!" She snapped, glaring out the window.

"Well, I said I don't want you to." Percy snapped back.

"Why?" She demanded turning back to him angrily. "Because you want to sulk in self-pity about something you didn't so? For things you can't change? For the whole freaking world and the screwed up gods and titans and fates?" Thunder rumbled overhead. She glared at the sky.

"No, I want to mourn the loss of my friends," Percy huffed. "I want to feel bad they died. I want to worry about Nico, I want to be scared for one freakin minute, but I can't."

"Why? Too macho to care? To confident in your own infallibility to care if you die and the world ends? What can't you just admit you're scared and guilty and miserable, everyone else is! It would make it a lot easier on all of us if you didn't have to be so-"

"Because I'm not. I'm tired Annabeth, I'm tired."

"Being tired makes it so you can't be scared?" She scoffed.

"Yes, it does. I just want to sleep, and wake up when I'm sixteen. I want Nico to be ok, I want Zoe and Bianca back. Hell, I even want Thalia back, but life just sucks, doesn't it?"

"This isn't like you." She sniffed. "You, who's always so annoyingly upbeat and positive. This is why I'm coming with you. I like your mom, and if you act this way with her, it'll hurt her and you'll forever be the ass that made your saint-of-a-mother cry, so I'm saving your behind on this one. You better get used to me being nice, because it's gonna happen until you snap out of it."

"Well I don't want you to!"

"Oh right, you want to wallow in misery, right?"

"Yes! For a few days!"

"Well, sucks. Until you're you again, get used to me being nice."

"This is a strange argument." Percy noted randomly, and it seemed to de-rail Annabeth. She decided to fall silent, shaking her head in disbelief and admiration. She knew Percy was feeling lower than he ever had before. He tried to tell her about is promise to Nico, but he couldn't even find the words. Percy never had an issue with speaking his mind, much less to her, and it was a sentiment how badly he felt for the ten-year-old kid out there probably fighting off monsters as they sat here in a warm car, how guilty he felt. She knew she couldn't convince Percy it wasn't his fault, he was too caring, and she did acknowledge he deserved some break and a moment or two to grieve, but at the same time, he needed to be better. Everyone was looking to him. Percy didn't realize how scared everyone else was, how much they looked to the son of Poseidon for guidance, to take the cues from. He was their leader, he couldn't fall apart, which was why she was going to make sure he got his act together before going about his normal life. If these scars didn't heal properly, there is going to be some real issues for people.

So, despite their awkwardness and the tension constantly between them, she was going to make sure he got over this. She told herself it was for the good of the world, nothing more.