Disclaimer: I don't own PJO or HoO or very much else.

Hello! Sorry, it's been awhile, hasn't it. I'll try to update more often but no promises.

Enjoy, R&R!

- Annabeth -

I walk off towards the cabins to find my friends. Camp Half-Blood looks the exact same as when I was forced to leave. I spend the entire walk relishing the familiarity of the terrain. It's not exactly the same though, a year has gently shaped the familiar slopes into something new. The earth rests for no one after all.

It wouldn't normally have taken as long as it did to walk from the Big House to the cabins but I didn't rush. I think about contemplating who to go visit first but then I realize it's no contest. I walk to the Athena cabin and hope she's there because I'd prefer not to repeat the Half-Blood Hill incident.

I get to her cabin and knock on the doorframe. Malcolm comes to the doorway and his formerly cheerful face pales when he sees me. I didn't really think I looked that bad but I haven't exactly had a lot of mirrors to go inspect my reflection in recently.

"I'd like to speak to Annabeth." I tell him. He relaxes a bit.

"She's down by the lake."

"Oh, okay. Thanks." I walked off leaving Malcolm to return to his normal state of existence. I wonder what it was that made him so nervous? Maybe I'll ask Annabeth when I see her. She might know why everyone seems to be avoiding me. During my walk I should have passed numerous people but I didn't, odd. After a bit of walking I arrive at the beach and I see Annabeth sitting on the sand, staring out over the water. The urge to run up to her is almost overpowering but I keep it in check because this is the perfect opportunity to try out a new trick I've been working on.

Quietly as I can, I sneak up behind her and the focusing my energy I lift some of the water out of the lake. The hard part about this is that I want it to form letters which requires a lot of control and concentration. I write the words 'TURN AROUND' using the water from the lake and Annabeth's reaction really is priceless. She jump up and spins around to see me sitting less than 10 feet behind her. I grin at her. Not my usually 'I'm-going-to-kill-you-because-I'm-that-cool' grin but my 'it's-great-to-see-you-too' grin. She runs up to me and throws her arms around me. I feel her crying onto my shoulder and I lie her down and look at her. She's changed in a year, more so than Camp Half-Blood has. She looks older and wiser, if that's even possible. We sit staring at each other for many minutes, just being comfortable in the moment, not something that rarely happens to someone who's ADHD.

Annabeth breaks the silence first. "You're back." She says.

"Yeah."

"I take it you haven't been dead for the past year."

"No, but it almost would have been better if I had been."

"Where were you?"

"Tartarus." I say it so offhandedly. Annabeth doesn't take it that way seeing as she whips her head around from staring over the water to look at me.

"You've been in Tartarus."

"More than once now, unfortunately."

"Why?!" The look of confusion on Annabeth's face would be really funny normally but in the moment it doesn't affect me at all. I sigh, something I've been doing way too much recently.

"It's a long story."

"We have plenty of time."

So I start at the beginning, I tell Annabeth about the emergency meeting and about who voted against me. I tell her about what happened after, falling into Tartarus but I don't go into very much detail about what happened while I was in there, she knows. I tell her about how I escaped though and include the duel with Tartarus and my subsequent inheritance of throne of Tartarus. I tell her about my plans for the gods and surprisingly, she's the first not to disagree with it.

"I can't believe they did that to you after everything you've done to help them."

"I didn't either, Tartarus changed that." Annabeth pulls me into a hug. It's nice to know someone cares.

"Are you okay?"

"I've been better."

"What are your plans now? I want to come with you, I'm certainly not leaving you to go off by yourself. You've had a year to do that." I grin and grudgingly concede that yes, she should definitely come with me.

"Nothing, not even the gods themselves, can keep up apart." I say. Annabeth hugs me harder, leaving me gasping for breath.

"Need. Ribs. Unbroken." I manage to say with the oxygen I have left. Annabeth reluctantly loosens her grip around me then eventually, lets go altogether. We sit on the beach together, savouring the moment.

"You're plans?" Annabeth prompts me. I jump a little at the sound of her voice. Right! The plans! I had completely forgotten to tell her.

"Right! My plans!" I say. "Well, I'm here at Camp Half-Blood to look for supporters. I won't face demigods, a lot of whom are my friends, in order to reach Olympus. I won't be like Luke." Annabeth squeezes my hand at the mention of his name.

"You're nothing like Luke, Percy." She says.

"All the people who've died in the wars fought for the gods. Imagine all the campers that would be here if not for the wars. I don't want this to be one of them. I've seen enough war for a couple lifetimes to come, but I've also seen enough suffering to know that the world would be better off without the gods fighting their battles in our world without heed to their consequences on us." I say. I know Annabeth has seen a lot as well, I know what it feel like to have the sky resting on your shoulders, literally. It's not fun and we both know it.

"Yeah, but what happens when they're gone? Will we really be better rulers?"

"Who better to rule the world than the people who live in it."

"I guess."

A calm silence falls upon us. I think of what I said earlier, about how many people died in the wars. Beckendorf, Silena, neither of whom I knew very well. More recently, Piper had died in the final confrontation with Gaia after a boulder had been dropped on her. The total death toll from the Giant War alone was almost 200 demigods. It may not seem like a lot, but back then it had been at least a third of all the demigods we knew of. The whole First Cohort had been obliterated when fissure had opened up beneath them. Artemis had lost over half her hunters. Less than 100 campers had survived the battle, out of the 200 who started it and that's just the demigods. The satyr population had gone down by 40% after the war and throughout Greece the total number of dryads had been halved, mostly due to the many earthquakes devastated the area.

Annabeth brings be back from my thoughts by yanking on my arm to haul me up. "Come on Seaweed Brain, let's go find Nico. We've kept him waiting long enough." She says as I allow myself to be dragged back to the cabins. "Ok. Ok. I can walk." I tell her once I regain some amount of balance. I look at her, with her wavy blonde hair and storm grey eyes. She was something the gods could never take away from me.

But I'd like to see them try.

- Close -

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