Written for #45: Need on the PJO YAlit100 Challenge on LJ. I only now realize it's been so long since I last wrote for my OTP.
Disclaimer: Rick Riordan owns Percy Jackson and the Olympians
You are the light that's leading me
To the place where I'll find peace again.
Annabeth had her hand in his pants again.
Okay, so maybe her hand wasn't in his pants so much as it was on them, resting on the side of his thigh while her fingers drummed lightly against the fabric of his jeans. The arm attached to said hand was wrapped loosely around Percy's waist, pulling their sides close together. Meanwhile, Percy had casually draped his own arm across her shoulders. His hand was cupping her upper arm, giving it a light squeeze every now and then.
Ever since they had gotten out of Tartarus and the Giant War had been won, the two of them would always somehow end up like this: arms wound around each other and barely a hair's width apart. It didn't matter what they were doing, whether they were teaching a weapons training class or just sitting down at the Camp's beach and staring at the sea like they were doing now. They just craved contact sometimes. Just a small touch to remind themselves that the other was still there; a slight brush of skin to let the other person know that they were alive and, most importantly, they were together.
And whenever they would end up in this position, Annabeth would always, always find a way to anchor herself to him in some form. Sometimes, her thumb would be hooked in one of his belt loops; other times, the tips of her fingers would slip under the hem of his T-shirt and stroke the tan, scarred skin underneath. Still others, on those days when memories of Tartarus took hold of her and the shaking in her hands wouldn't stop, her palm would be pressed flat against the small of his back, right where his Achilles' Spot used to be.
Not that Percy was any better. If anything, he was just as bad, or worse, even. More often than not, he would be the first between the two of them to reach out and pull her closer until she was flush against him. His hand would then wind itself around her while his fingers either slipped halfway into the front pocket of her shorts or curled intimately at the hollow of her hip.
They both knew they were getting clingy, for a lack of a better term, but simply holding hands didn't cut it for them anymore. The campers had given them a lot of grief for it at first, teasing them for being even more attached at the hip than they had been before.
And then the first panic attack had happened.
One night a few days after the war ended, the entire Camp Half-Blood had been jolted awake by bloodcurdling screams. At first, everyone had thought the Camp was under attack, but they soon realized it was coming from the Athena Cabin. Inside, all the Athena campers were awake, except for one. Annabeth had been thrashing about and sobbing in her sleep and, no matter what any of her siblings did, none of them could pull her out of her nightmare.
In the end, it had been Percy who managed to finally calm her down. Less than three minutes after Annabeth first started screaming, he had barged in, nearly ripping the door to the Athena Cabin off of its hinges and causing a noticeable dent on the doorknob. Without a word, he pulled Annabeth to him and cradled her in his arms, even as her arms and legs flailed about and hit him multiple times.
When she finally woke up, her thrashing had reduced to uncontrollable shaking, and she had laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around his torso. Percy had long told her siblings to go back to sleep by then. It was late, but he hadn't let go of her until she fell back into a tired but dreamless sleep.
Three days later, it had been Percy's turn.
Once again, the campers were abruptly woken up in the middle of the night. This time, though, instead of incoherent screams, they could clearly hear one word being yelled over and over. And instantly, everyone knew who had woken them up.
It had been terrifying to hear their brave, powerful leader calling out like that; the desperation and anguish in his voice had been downright unbearable. The campers had huddled outside their respective cabins in worry, feeling powerless to do anything. As such, they had witnessed when Annabeth burst out of her cabin, hair and sleeping clothes rumpled and feet still bare, and sprinted across the field towards the Poseidon cabin as if her life had depended on it.
Annabeth, on the other hand, had been cursing herself in her head on her way to Percy's cabin. It had taken a while for her to respond, much longer than Percy had gotten to her when she had been the one having an attack. In a stroke of bad luck, she had taken some sleeping pills that night in an attempt to have one full night of sleep. When the haze had let up and she heard Percy screaming, though, she was out of her bed like a bullet from a gun. (In the back of her mind, she made a mental note never to buy that brand again. It obviously wasn't strong enough if she could still wake up in the middle of the night.).
When she got to his cabin, Annabeth had needed to slap Percy a few times before he startled awake. She took one look at his searching, desperate eyes, and she knew. He had dreamt of the moment she almost died.
"I couldn't get to you in time." He had said, before breaking down into sobs.
After that incident (which nobody ever spoke of again), the campers had backed off on their teasing, realizing that whatever their two leaders were going through, it wasn't something they could take lightly. And after the third panic attack happened two days later (while they had been wide awake, no less), Chiron even allowed Annabeth to take up an officially-temporary-but-unofficially-permanent residence in the Poseidon cabin.
It had been eight months since the Giant War had ended, but the incidents had yet to let up.
Some days, it would be easy. One of them would get a minor attack and all they had to do was find the other one (if they weren't together already) and check up on them.
On days when it got really, really bad, though – on days when both of their visions went dark and they thought they were back in Tartarus, days when one or both of them completely lost it – they would find themselves in a secluded spot like the beach or his cabin. Their arms would wind tightly around each other, locked in a painful death grip. Percy would crush her to him, and Annabeth would be practically clawing at his back while they both waited for the shadows in their minds to disappear.
And when that was done, their holds would loosen but neither would let go. Annabeth would burrow her face into his neck and Percy would press his lips to her shoulder before doing the same. They would stay that way, just breathing each other in, drinking in the fact that they were still alive, that the person beside them – the one they loved above and beyond everything else – was still with them.
When they were finally sure that they could face the world again without falling apart at the seams – minutes or even hours later – they would slowly pull away. Percy would press a tender kiss to her forehead and Annabeth would do the same to the palm cradling the side of her face. Then they would either go back to whatever they were doing before, or just sit there for the rest of the day.
Today had been a really, really bad day.
Annabeth couldn't even remember what had started the attack or what she'd been doing before – Percy later told her she was at Ancient Greek class with her cabin and Malcolm had looked for him as soon as she started hyperventilating and gripping edge of the table, only to find the son of Poseidon in a similar state at the beach. It had been hours since Malcolm had dropped Annabeth off at the beach, but neither of them had any plans of getting up just yet.
"I didn't feel like I was wading through eternal, soul-sucking, life-sapping darkness this time," Percy spoke, breaking the silence that had been their companion for the past few hours. He looked at her from the corner of his eye. "Just the eternal, sense-numbing, fear-and-insanity-inducing kind. I think it's getting better."
Despite everything, she found it terribly amusing that he still had his dark sense of humor. If he could still be snarky about their situation, then that meant Tartarus hadn't changed him completely. But their light-hearted moment was short-lived as his expression became serious.
"Are you real?" He whispered, his eyes searching her face.
Annabeth swallowed. This was what she hated the most about the attacks: the questioning, the not knowing if things were actually happening or if it were all an illusion and they were actually still in that gods-awful pit. Percy experienced it more often than she did. She assumed it was because he had already lost his memory once, and coupled with the trauma of watching her almost die, she assumed he no longer trusted his mind as much as he used to.
She shifted until she was on her knees facing him.
"I'm real, Percy," she said, quietly, but firmly. Her hand grabbed his and placed it against her heart. "See? Still beating. You saved me. Though, it was stupid of you to tackle that manticore weaponless and hope for the best."
"I'd do it again if I had to." There was no doubt in his sentence, not even the slightest pause.
Her lips quirked up in the tiniest of smiles. "I know."
Percy looked at her earnestly.
"Love you." His voice was soft, but the conviction behind his words and in his eyes was more powerful than an oath sworn on the Styx. She squeezed the hand still resting over her heart.
"I know that too." She replied, before falling back to sit beside him once again and resting her head against his shoulder. They then returned to their original position, with her arm around his waist and his across her shoulders.
They weren't okay; not yet.
But they were getting there.
I'd really love it if you left a review. I haven't posted a P/A fic in over a year, so I'm a bit rusty. I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts on this oneshot :)