On Their Feet

Woohoo, it's me again! This time with something a little different- a Percy Jackson story! Because I just finished rereading MOA for about the fourth time, and literally could not stop crying the entire time. So then I wrote this, and just cried some more.

This is dedicated to Taylor the ULTIMATE PJO fan. Ever.

Seriously, you're obsessed, Taylor, get help.

Enjoy!

It did strange things to people. Tartarus.

By strange, Percy meant mess with your head, bring out your deepest fears, and make you beg for death.

That kind of strange, he thought, as Annabeth fell to her knees beside him, was not the good kind.

Percy knelt beside Annabeth, who's shoulders seemed curled in on herself. Her matted hair fell in her face as she looked up at him. When their eyes met, Percy felt his grasp on reality (or what used to be reality) slipping ever further away. Annabeth had always been the normal one, the level-headed, logical one. Now, the reassurance a look into her eyes had once given him was gone. They stared wildly at him, having seen everything there was to fear, but knowing there was more to come.

When she spoke, her voice was entirely different. "I can't do it."

No sooner had she finished, than Percy had gathered her into his arms, burying his face in her hair and whispering. "Don't say that." His voice, like hers, was cracked and weary from lack of, well, anything, really. He held her tightly, as if she was the last thing he had in the world- because, he realized, she was.

Annabeth was shaking her head, voice growing louder and louder. "I can't, we can't, and we're kidding ourselves if we think we can. We'll never get out of here, and it'll be dark, forever. This is it! I-"

"Stop." Percy said, and she did, if only for a moment out of sheer shock. His voice had sounded harsher than before, and for the first time, the real toll that Tartarus had taken showed. Because really, for all of his pathetic attempts at humor, for all the witty remarks he could muster, they were in the same boat, him and Annabeth. They were the only thing that the other had, in this new world of darkness and horror; where quests and tasks seemed infinitely far away.

He heard a light sob, and realized Annabeth was crying. Something inside him broke, which he hadn't thought possible, by now. She was Annabeth Chase. She could do anything she wanted, and gods help you if you tried to intervene. She was unbeatable, unbreakable- and the few times that she came close, she fought with all her might, never coming close to giving in.

Until now.

"Hey." Percy said, and a quiet kind of desperation took hold of his voice. "Hey, don't worry. We... We're going to get out of here, Wise Girl."

"No-"

"Yes." Percy insisted, drawing her back, looking into her eyes. "We will get out of this." You will get out of this. He wouldn't- couldn't let anything happen to her. Not after this.

It was silent, for a long moment. Drawing her close to him, under his arm, he lay back on the ground, absently drawing circles on her arm. "Remember, I told you about the Roman city?" She didn't make any move to respond, but Percy continued anyway. "I figure we'll live there one day."

He glanced down at her still figure, and after a moment, kept speaking, partly to her, and partly to himself, to break the suffocating silence. "Probably get married. Eventually." Something he hadn't thought possible happened- a faint smile ghosted across her lips, for the briefest of seconds. Grasping desperately at the glimpse of normality, Percy continued quickly. "I was thinking it'd be on the beach. At sunset."

It wasn't like he had anything to lose.

"You'd be an architect. I'd be... I haven't got there yet. But it'd be something awesome." His voice had taken on almost a lull, and he felt Annabeth relaxing slightly under his touch. He squirmed on the uncomfortable ground, then decided this was as good as it was going to get, under the circumstances.

"Maybe a couple kids. Someday." He was spilling everything now, his most secret thoughts that he'd never imagined sharing because, frankly, they'd kind of scared him.

How stupid he'd been.

"I guess it's your choice, though." Percy said, in an almost conversational tone, staring out into the nothingness surrounding them. "As long as I've got you." He looked at her, craning his neck to see her face. It was entirely slack, and more relaxed than he'd seen it in any time he could remember.

She'd fallen asleep. For a moment, he wondered if she'd have a nightmare, then he stopped himself. A nightmare would be a reprieve, now.

He tore his gaze away, but tightened his hold on her, settling himself into a different position, careful not to disturb her.

He would have killed for a pillow pet.

Then, he would have killed for a lot of things.

The all consuming darkness pressed down on him, and he felt more alone than ever before. Because really, dreams of a nonexistant future could only last so long, here, in this place where there was nothing but him and her.

And there it was, the cruel twist that made this so difficult.

Her. Annabeth was there- and as long as she was, Percy was not alone. He couldn't give up entirely. Not on her. She, his finally broken, finally shattered Annabeth, had protected him from everything the world had thrown at them, including himself.

It was his turn, now.

So that became his only reason for stumbling on, carrying her, at times. He had to protect her. He had to push on with this impossible task for as long as he could, and more- and it was impossible, he knew that much.

No matter how hard he tried to tell himself different, there was no way either of them was getting out of this.

They were dead on their feet.