AN: My first Percy Jackson story! Sorry it's not that good; I've only read the book once, and it's hard to get a grasp of the characters. Despite that, I still hope that you all enjoyed this!
Disclaimer: I do not own Mark of Athena. Rick Riordan does.
For one single, blissful moment, Percy thought that he was still in the stables on the Argo II.
He could feel Annabeth's head resting against his chest, her breath soft and warm against his neck, sending chills down his spine with each puff that hit him. His arms were wrapped around her, holding her as tightly to him as he could, his body doing in sleep what it couldn't awake. After six months of wishing for her, of just waiting for the moment when he could finally say that he had completed his quest and could just be with her, although that moment had not yet come, this was close enough. He had his Wise Girl back, and for Percy, that was enough.
It was enough, until he shifted slightly to smooth out the blanket that had become bunched under them in their sleep and felt the agonizing pain that jolted him fully into consciousness.
A second later, it was the harsh growl of a nearby monster in the dark that sent him into action.
Maneuvering Annabeth so that he could better lift her in his arms, it was with a bitten back screech of pain that Percy forced himself to stand, his body protesting the movement and the extra weigh that, rightly so, wasn't its to carry. Softly, in the back of his mind, Percy could hear the smallest of the voices that taunted him whispering that he should leave her, that unless he did so he wouldn't survive, though it was easy for him to shake away the treacherous words as a low moan escaped Annabeth's lips. Gritting his teeth as his body screamed, battered and bruised but amazingly not broken, it took him a minute to gain his bearings, his head swimming as he fought against the urge to just lay back down and sleep.
He would have, but a moment later the growl echoed once again, sending him racing away in the opposite directing.
They had fallen into Tartarus, and unless he did something very soon, they were going to die there without even being able to put up a fight.
He hadn't been running for long when he finally found the small crevasse in the wall, though how he had known it was there in the darkness he would never know. His steps had been faltering, more of a stumble than a flee from the danger behind them. The past few hours had just been too much for him to handle, and although his need to keep himself and Annabeth alive had kept his mind as focused as he could manage, his body was taxed beyond its limits. Wiggling through the crack that he hoped would be too small for any monsters to reach them, curled into a protective ball around his still unconscious girlfriend, it was with a quick prayer to any god that might be powerful enough to keep them safe that Percy gave into his body's demands and slept.
It didn't take long for Annabeth's voice to break through the haze of sleep that had fallen over him, his mind struggling through the exhaustion that the few hours of rest that he had had since finding their cave had failed to get rid of. Squinting his eyes in an attempt to see in the almost non-existent light that he had only just realized was there, it was with a soft sigh that he saw her outline, a deeper dark in the night that surrounded them. Slowly raising his hand to where he believe her cheek to be, it was with the slightest of smiles that she leaned against his palm, her lips brushing the skin slightly as she opened her mouth to speak. However, she said nothing.
"Hey. How are you feeling," Percy asked softly, already well aware of just how stupid his question was even before it had formed on his tongue.
"I'll live," was her reply, exactly what Percy had expected her to say, though he was quite sure that she was lying to him. He knew exactly how he was, and if Annabeth asked him the same question, he would have to lie through his teeth if he wanted to keep them both calm. He was sore, mentally and physically exhausted from the last handful of hours spent in a non-stop battle for their lives, and he was pretty sure that every part of him was officially covered in bruises. Considering that she was the one with the broken ankle, their whole situation was already worse for her, something that would, eventually, be used to their disadvantage. Shifting his hand so that it rested against her shoulder, it was with a sudden need to feel that she was alive that Percy drew Annabeth back into his embrace, his face burying itself into her hair of his own accord.
"We're going to die in here."
His head snapping back from surprise, it was with gasp of pain that the back of Percy's skull met the rock wall that he had been resting against a few minutes ago, causing sparks to jump before his eyes. Cursing under her breath, Annabeth's hand groped the back of his skull, her fingers searching before sighing, just thankful that she hadn't found blood.
"Careful, Seaweed brain; we don't need you having a concussion on top of everything else."
"We are not going to die." Pulling her against him, Percy rested his chin against the top of her head, his voice harsh as he continued to whisper. "Listen to me, Wise Girl: we are not going to die. So long as we're together, we'll find a way out of this. I promise you, we are not going to die."
Tightening his grip on her, Percy had to believe what he was saying; that, so long as they were together, they would be okay. They wouldn't die; they would get out of there alive. He had to believe it, for as Annabeth started to sob against him, it was the only thing that kept him from crying as well.