"Oh, Gods no." Annabeth said.
Nico struggled to drag Percy behind him, his face scratched and bruised, a deep cut from his elbow to his wrist. He was a shade paler than usual, and breathless, his eyes still wide with fear. Annabeth's breath hitched when she saw Percy. Unconscious, blood trickling from his mouth, a scratch from his eyebrow to his cheek. But nothing could prepare her for the gash in his chest. It was deep, oozing blood. It was tinged a nasty green around the edge. Poison.
She glanced over at her daughter, stood in the corner, eyes wide with terror. Green eyes. Percy's eyes.
Annabeth knelt at Percy's side, holding back tears. She looked at Nico, fear expanding in her chest. He shook his head, looking down, a tear dripping from his eye.
"I'm sorry." he muttered. "It's the poison... he's already fading, Annabeth." His voice cracked on the last word.
Annabeth let out a sob, a heart – shattering howl of grief like a clap of thunder in dark skies. She brushed the hair from his forehead, still caked in blood and monster dust. His forehead practically set her hand on fire.
He coughed, and his eyes fluttered open, still full of life, even if he was clinging onto it by the fingernails. His breathing was shallow, and he looked into Annabeth's eyes, before placing a hand on her cheek and giving her a crooked smile. Annabeth sobbed again. It was uncontrollable. A river of tears gushed from her eyes, landing on the couch with gentle thuds.
"Don't cry, Wise Girl." He croaked, wincing as he said it, his breathing raspy.
Annabeth nodded, wiping the tears away, and putting her hand to the one on her face, rubbing her thumb across it.
Annabeth looked behind her, and gestured for her to come over. The six year-old walked over nervously, her green eyes wide. Annabeth gave her a tiny, reassuring smile, and took her into her arms.
"Daddy?" She asked, looking at Percy, her voice wobbling.
Percy tried a small smile.
"Hey baby." He said, looking at her, as if drinking her in.
"Are you okay?" She asked.
Percy shook his head microscopically.
"Not really." He whispered. "I love you, okay? Even if I'm not around anymore. I-" Annabeth let out another sob. "love you."
She nodded, the tears welling up in her eyes. She understood what was happening, and it tore her to pieces. Too much grief for a girl of six to handle.
Percy looked at Annabeth, smiling sadly.
"I'm so sorry." He whispered, the tears welling up in his own eyes. "So, so sorry I'm leaving you like this." His hand brushed her swollen stomach and he smiled a little. He would never meet his son. "Look after him." He said. "Make sure he doesn't get into too much trouble." Annabeth laughed a little. "Tell him his Daddy loves him, okay?"
She nodded, and she pulled Louise closer to her, letting her cry into his shoulder. Percy looked at Nico, guilt and grief etched all over his face. His dark eyes looked down to the floor.
"Nico." Percy choked. "It's not... it's not your fault. Don't feel bad."
Nico nodded sullenly, the tears streaking the dirt on his face.
Percy gripped Annabeth's hand, looking into her grey eyes, allowing the tears to fall down his face.
"I'll wait for you." He promised. "No matter how long."
Annabeth nodded, too numb to cry, or speak.
"I'll miss you." Percy muttered, before wincing. "Annabeth, I love you so much. Always. Don't forget that."
Annabeth smiled sadly.
"I know, Seaweed Brain." She managed to choke out, but he was already gone. The life left his eyes, his hand fell from her face, and his body froze.
Annabeth screamed a shattering wail and held Louise tight. She was going to keep her close. She couldn't lose anyone else. She couldn't take it.