: Soldier :

For: Blondie B. Happy

Sorry it took so long, but I hope it met your expectations xx

AnnabethxPercy, Luke, AU

Her heart thrashed in her chest like a caged monster trying to free itself from its bonds. It throbbed, sending streams of blood all through her body and pumping adrenaline through her veins. Her breaths were frantic and wild, and she gripped the small dagger tightly in her hand.

The dagger, a small, yet sharp, blade with golden inscriptions on the base, was the only thing left of her mother. In fact, it was the only thing left from home—if she could call it "home" in the first place—even if she had stolen it from where her father had locked it up.

So what she had run away—everyone there had hated her, and they did nothing to try and suppress their obvious disdain towards her. Did it even matter that outside their house, there were monsters that were trying to kill her? They were really no different than the beasts she lived with for seven years—the only thing, as crude as it sounded, was that she couldn't get rid of them!

She ducked behind a dumpster, still clutching the dagger, hoping the monster that was following her lost her tracks. Perhaps the clouds in the night sky and shadowy alley would keep the monster from finding her. But where was everyone else? Surely there had to be other people out!

Annabeth didn't know exactly why monsters were hunting her down, but she had devised a theory that only strengthened with every passing moment. Although she was only seven, she was smarter than most and could easily adapt to new situations. Like her predicament in the alleyway, for example.

"Annabeth?" a voice called out in a saccharine sing-song manner. It had a slightly snakish undertone to it, and Annabeth's knuckles blanched as she held onto the knife, prepared to fight back. "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" It taunted her, and from the shadow cast under the moonlight, she saw the forked tongue of a snake-like creature hiss.

Her fists were clamped so tightly that they shook, and she struggled to slow her breathing down so she could think properly. Just do it, Annabeth, she chided. You can do this. She heard the jingle of scales with every step the monster took, and it slowly neared her location. It sent shivers down her spine, but it did not phase her much—for once, Annabeth Chase was prepared to fight back at the monsters that life hurled at her.

"I don't want to hurt you," the monster hissed. "I just want to play with you, Child of Wisdom. Just come out of your hiding spot."

The voice neared and neared, and her heart accelerated with apprehension. However, despite her unease, she had enough confidence that she could take on the monster successfully. Just one chance…all you have to do is drive the dagger through it, Annabeth. You can do it.

When she saw the shadow of the monster right around the corner of the dumpster, she jumped out with her dagger and slashed through the air at where the monster should have been. Her heart trembled, and she froze as she came face to face with the monster.

With the lower body of a serpent and a bare human-like torso, the monster stood nearly two feet taller than her; its tongue menacingly flickered out at Annabeth, and she took a step back. Its eyes were red, like they were windows and she was staring directly into the depths of Hell, and when the beast bared its teeth, Annabeth could see sharpened canines like a vampire.

She knew what this was…it was a Lamia, a mythological Greek Monster that was part vampire-demon, part serpent… and, if she remembered correctly, it devoured children. She took another step back, but just as she was doing so, the tail of the Lamia swept out and sent her dagger flying into the darkness of the alley.

Annabeth was now trapped in the corner of an alleyway, tired, defenseless, and defeated. The minimal confidence she once carried had dispersed, and the itching feeling of utter terror crept into her bloodstream as the monster advanced. She wanted to be strong, she wanted to feign that confidence and power, but ultimately, she couldn't.

"I only wanted to play..." the Lamia purred, licking its bloodied lips with its forked tongue. It came closer and closer to her, the moonlight glinting off of the sharp fangs as if they were diamonds. Her dagger was elsewhere, and there was nothing Annabeth could do to save herself. "...but it is too late, and now you shall die, Daughter of Athena. He shall be happy, yes, Kro—he will."

Her theory was suddenly confirmed, right then and there. It only made sense! She was a daughter of the Greek goddess Athena; she was half-god… and she was about to die. The monster was only a couple feet away from her at this point; it was taking its time, garnishing the meal. It was so close that every time its long, coarse tongue flickered out, Annabeth could nearly feel it brush her cheek.

That was when it hit her: she was truly about to die. In that moment of truth, she, in her seven-year-old body, straightened her back, squared her shoulders, held her breath, and welcomed the black veil of death. She shut her eyes and heard the slither of scales as the Lamia recoiled in order to strike.

But it didn't come. Instead, she heard the disgruntled, yet distinctly male, cry, and the hissing stopped. Her eyes warily fluttered open, fully expecting to see the Lamia, but she only saw boy, much older than her, with pale blonde hair and bright blue eyes. In one hand, he held a bloodied sword, and in the other… her dagger!

He inched towards her, and she cowered in retreat, causing her back to be flush against the grimy brick wall. Even though he had killed the Lamia that did not mean he could be trusted.

"Hey," he said softly, holding her dagger out towards her. When she didn't reach for it, he dropped it on the ground near her feet, and Annabeth scurried to pick it up. "I'm not going to hurt you."

His eyes looked genuine, and his voice sounds sincere, and all Annabeth wanted was to have someone in her life that she could trust and depend on… but could it be him?

"I'm Luke," he said, crouching down so he didn't tower over her. "I'm sixteen years old, and I like green apples."

She found herself laughing, but then forced herself to stop and remain cautious of the friendly boy. "My name is Annabeth, and I'm seven." She said this as firmly as she could, trying to exert as much confidence, and even power, that her petite body could.

He chuckled, running a hand through his hair. "Well it's nice to meet you, Miss Annabeth." He pretended to tip a tophat as if he was a gentleman dressed up formally. "How do you do, milady?"

Annabeth didn't stop herself from laughing this time, and she slowly moved towards him, slipping around the gold dust—the only remains of the Lamia. He had seen the monster—in fact, he had even killed it… so did that mean that… "Are you a half-god too?"

Luke stared at her blankly for a moment, and her small hand went to grab at the dagger that was secured on her forearm. "Oh, you mean demigod!" he exclaimed, nodding his head. "We usually use the term 'demigod,' or even 'halfblood.' There's a camp for all the half-mortal children of the gods around New York City called 'Camp Halfblood,' where monsters—"

"Like the Lamia," Annabeth interrupted.

He nodded. "Yeah, like the Lamia, can't get in. It's one of the only safe havens for people like us."

People like us, Luke said. Did that mean there were others? "Who is your mother?" she questioned curiously, staring at his furrowed face. Annabeth noticed his face was slightly covered with a layer of grime, and she wondered if he had run away from home like her.

He grimaced, and Annabeth realized she had come upon a topic that he didn't like to talk about much. But, less than a moment later, his face relaxed again, and so did she. "My dad, actually," Luke explained, "is Hermes."

She nodded, knowing who the god was. "Oh, okay." She didn't know what else to say, and she was quickly growing tired. A wave of exhaustion flooded Annabeth's body, and a low grumble was released from the depths of her nearly empty stomach.

Luke wiped the flat edge of the bloody sword on a napkin he pulled out from his pocket, before sheathing the blade within its cover that was hooked to his belt loop. He held a hand out to Annabeth and stood up to his full height. "I bet you haven't had anything to eat for a while, hmm?"

Annabeth shook her head, debating whether or not to take his hand. Although he seemed kind, and he had indirectly offered to get her food, she still wasn't sure if she could trust him. Frederick had always told her not to talk to strangers… Her face went solemn from thinking about her father, and she timidly took a step forward, although not accepting his hand.

"What would you like for dinner, Miss Chase?" he asked, slinging a grimy backpack over his shoulder. She walked alongside him, and they exited the alley as if nothing had happened there. "Your choices are… spinach, broccoli, celery—" Annabeth made a face, and he laughed, "—and, of course, McDonalds."

Her eyes brightened at the mention of the fast-food, and she nodded her head eagerly. Back at home, she had never gotten the chance to ever eat the things she wanted; she had never been able to do anything she wanted. This was different… and she liked it!

Together they walked to the nearest McDonalds in their suburban New York—of course, he placed his sword in his bag, and she put a jacket on to conceal her dagger, in addition to prevent the wind from biting her skin. She became more excited than she would have imagined, upon seeing the large, glowing, yellow "M."

Annabeth entered the building first, immediately overwhelmed with the greasy, somehow appealing smell of french fries. Her stomach churned in her abdomen, eager to taste the salty potato strips deep-fried in heaven for the first time. She bounced on her toes as Luke ordered at the counter.

He turned around to ask her what she wanted, and Annabeth pointed up at the Happy Meal that flashed on the menu above them. Luke chuckled, ordering the chicken nuggets for her, and when asked what kind of drink she preferred, Annabeth blurted out "Chocolate milk!" with a happy grin on her face. (She hadn't even received the infamous Happy Meal, and it was already bringing happiness to her; McDonalds was truly a magical place.)

They sat down at a booth, and Annabeth's feet swung beneath her— her legs were not quite tall enough to reach the ground— and she ate her food chicken-by-chicken— assuming it was real meat— and fry-by-fry— it really tasted as marvelous as she had heard and imagined about—and she did this all without taking a single sip of her chocolate milk.

When she emerged from her food-devouring-mode, Annabeth looked up at the boy across from her, and she giggled— he had yet to even take a bite of his colossal burger, and she had already inhaled her entire meal! Maybe he was savouring it? It certainly did look tasty… Her stomach growled again, and she clutched her abdomen, staring down at it in surprise. She had already eaten, and she was still hungry?

Luke's eyebrows were raised in amusement, and he set his burger back into the box, much to Annabeth's dismay; why wasn't he eating it? But, to her confusion, he slid it across the table-top in her direction. "Go ahead," he grinned, shaking his head at her. "You can eat it. You must be starving!"

He must be too, she thought. It had only been a day and a night since she had escaped the confines of her home. Either way, she was only seven, and he was a giant! Shouldn't he be eating the serving of food fit for at least three of her? But, she couldn't help how her greedy hands immediately stretched towards the food in front of her, despite her urge to slap her own palms back.

Noticing her hesitation, he gestured with his head towards the cashiers. "Don't worry about it, Annie," he teased with a laugh; her nose had crinkled at the nickname. "I'll just go purchase another one." Luke's hands were in the front pockets of his jeans, and Annabeth could hear the jingle of coins in his palms. It was almost as if he was weighing how much money he had…

After a few more moments of uncertainty, followed by a reassuring nod from Luke, Annabeth took a large bite of the burger. Within five minutes, she had fully completed wolfing down the entire meal, and Luke got up from the table.

"Let's wash up," he said, walking to the bathroom. Annabeth followed him to the general area of the public restrooms, and she ducked into the women's room just as it was about to shut from a departing person.

She rolled up her jacket sleeves to her elbows and unclipped the dagger, placing it on the counter. If a stranger were to see it… Annabeth placed a paper-towel over it as an after thought. She could reach the faucet, but she had to stand on the tips of her toes to reach the soap dispenser, and finally, after a few minutes, she was able to scrub her hands and face clean. Securely re-attaching her dagger to her forearm and rolling down her sleeves, Annabeth studied her face in the mirror for a moment.

Her gray eyes looked wide in the reflection, and she wondered what her mom looked like. She still couldn't believe it; her biological mom was Athena, a Greek goddess! Did she look anything like her? Annabeth didn't look much like Frederick… She stopped her train of thought and immediately cleared her mind. Straightening out her shirt, Annabeth re-tied her ponytail and left the bathroom.

Luke was sitting at a table near the restrooms, and his hands were in his pockets. She could still hear the faint sound of rattling coins, and she quickly wonders if he had bought anything to eat while she was gone. Before she could voice her thoughts, he stood up, a grin on his face. "Shall we go now?"

He mock-bowed, allowing her to go first, and they walked out of the McDonalds. The moon was out, although it was shrouded by dark masses of clouds, and the only lights out were unnatural. It was a relatively warm summer night, and Annabeth wondered where they would sleep that night. The night before, she had spent it under a tree in some park, curled up by the large trunk. Were there any places like that nearby? She yawned from simply thinking about sleeping, and (as she noticed frequently happened) Luke took notice.

"Sleepy, Annie?" He gave her a smile as they walked, but she could see his tired soul behind his crystal blue eyes and brotherly persona.

She nodded silently. Her feet were starting to ache, and every little noise from the shrubs beside the sidewalk sent her into a paranoid frenzy. Would another Lamia pop out? Or, perhaps, something even worse?

"We're maybe an hour's away from Camp Halfblood," Luke estimated. "Not too far along now, hmm? Think you can keep those eyes awake for an hour more?"

Annabeth shook her head, barely being able to even keep her head up. She didn't even want to think about how it was possible she was still standing up straight. And as if she had jinxed herself, her knees buckled under her weight upon her next step. Fortunately, Luke was standing next to her, and he caught her before she toppled to the sidewalk.

"C'mon there, sleepyhead," he said lightly. "Hop up on my back, and I'll carry you." Luke moved in front of her, crouching down and positioning himself accordingly.

She shook her head again, rubbing at her heavy eyes with the back of her hands. "We're almost there," Annabeth murmured sleepily. She would have to resist the temptation to sleep standing until then. Just another hour. Sixty mere minutes.

But Luke insisted— despite how obviously fatigued he was— and somehow, she found herself gently being carried piggy-back style. She wanted to protest, but she had no energy to do so, and she pressed the side of her head on the flat plain of his shoulder.

"You need to eat more," Luke murmured, hoisting her higher on his back. "You're way too light for your age, even if you're just seven."

Annabeth babbled something incoherently, shifting so her other cheek leaned on his shoulder. She willed her eyes not to close and her mouth not to drool, but eventually, she couldn't help it, and the weights someone had placed on her eyelids were just too strong for her to lift, and her heart slowed down to a steady pulse, and before she knew it, she was fast asleep.

The next time her eyes opened, she was tucked securely under a white linen blanket, on top of a cot. Light filtered through cracks of covered windows, and she blinked blearily, unaware of her surroundings. Annabeth sat up straight, slowly opening and closing her sensitive eyes to readjust to the light.

To the left of her was a boy she didn't recognize, but to the right, lay Luke. She let out a deep breath of relief— they must have made it to Camp Halfblood after all! However, she immediately felt guilty as she remembered how Luke insisted to carry her the last mile or so.

Her gray eyes flickered around the room— it seemed to be an infirmary of sorts— but rather than everything being a blinding shade of white, the color scheme was more of a subtle manila color. Annabeth stared at Luke, observing the sunken skin beneath his eyes and the shallow ridges of his face.

His white shirt clung to the outline of his ribs, and she could see the near concave of his stomach. He must have been starving! Annabeth thought in shock. Had he even bought another sandwich at McDonalds for himself? Had he really given up his meal for her, and had she really snatched it up like a vulture, without even a word of thanks?

Annabeth felt sick to her stomach, and yesterday's dinner threatened to come back up her esophagus. She felt dizzy just from thinking about it. If only she had stayed home— then Luke would have had enough money to pay for at least two meals for himself; but, since she had tagged along, he had not even one!

She blinked back tears. Annabeth had never been a crier, but with all the events piling up on one another— leaving home, encountering the lamia, finding out she was half-god, meeting Luke, arriving at the camp— she didn't know how else to let out all her emotions, and so she sat there for a good ten minutes, simply crying her eyes out.

From beside her, she heard the bed shift, and then a white tissue came into view. She tried to calm herself, taking deep breaths until she was only a snivelling mess. Annabeth accept the tissue, dabbed at her eyes, and blew her stuffed nose.

When she turned to thank the tissue-giver, her eyes were immediately drawn to the empty cot to her left. She shifted her gaze further, noticing that the boy that was once on the bed, was now standing beside her cot, holding out another tissue. Annabeth accepted it gratefully, blowing her nose as if it would rid her of all her bad memories.

"Are you okay?" The boy spoke, his voice in a low whisper.

For some reason, his words brought out another round of sobs in her, and she grabbed a pillow, burying her face into the feathery wonderfulness to muffle the reckless crying.

He handed her another tissue. "You're not okay," he said softly. Annabeth felt a hand pat her shoulder, and she turned to look up at the boy with red-rimmed eyes. He wasn't that old— maybe even her age— although his eyes held much innocence. They were a deep sea-green, and it complimented his dark mop of hair. "I'm Percy."

He held out his hand for her to shake, and she did so gingerly. "Annabeth. Is your name Percy, like the hero Perseus who slayed Medusa and rescued Andromeda?" She couldn't help asking.

From the way his nose crinkled with disgust and disinterest, she inferred that he didn't like his full name much. "Yes, but my mom calls me Percy. You can call me Percy too!" He offered her a toothy grin.

She wanted to laugh at him, but all her energy was spent and had seeped out along with her tears. "Are you a son of Zeus?" After all, Perseus from Greek Mythology was the son of the ruler of the gods, Zeus, and a princess Danae.

He crinkled his nose again, shaking his head. "I'm a son of Poseidon!" As a second thought, he added, "Well, the son of Poseidon."

"Are there not any others?" Annabeth asked curiously. Her head cocked to the side, and she didn't even realize she had stopped her incessant sniffling.

Percy's nearly perpetual grin dropped, and he shook his head solemnly. "No, there's only one." He offered her a slight grin and a hesitant laugh, shrugging his shoulders in an almost sheepish manner. "Just Percy."

Her eyebrows furrowed, and she placed her pillow in her lap, moving her legs so they criss-crossed. "Am I the only child of Athena?"

He sat down on the edge of his cot, swinging his legs so they hit the mattress. "Nope! There are more demigods like you!"

"But why not Poseidon?" she inquired.

Percy shrugged, stuffing his hands inside his pockets. "I dunno. Chiron said something about a prophecy, but he wouldn't tell me what it was. You can't just begin to say something, and not say the entire thing!"

A prophecy? What kind of prophecy? Annabeth nodded in what she hoped came off as understanding. "What are… the others like?"

"There's a whole cabin full of other children of Athena, like you, and your cabin is super cool, and I don't think they like me very much, but I like you so hopefully you're not like them!" As Percy spoke, his voice gradually crescendoed as his excitement grew. However, Annabeth could detect some kind of… longing… in his eyes, and she realized that he was lonely.

And so she smiled at him, holding out a dainty hand. "I like you too," Annabeth announced firmly, her grin stretching across her flushed cheeks when he shook her hand. "Friends?"

It seemed as if Percy was about to surge upwards in happiness. "Friends."

There was a cough to the right of Annabeth, followed by a teasing voice. "Hey hey hey, replacing me already, Annie?"

She immediately turned to face Luke who had just awoken. "You're awake!"

He gave her a slight grin, ruffling his already messed up hair with one hand and pressing the other to the flat plain of his stomach. "Nothing can conquer Luke Castellan!" Luke proclaimed. "Nothing, I say! Not the gods, and especially not sleep!"

But what about hunger? she thought silently. Hopefully at Camp Halfblood, he would be able to eat enough.

"Hey buddy," Luke said, looking at Percy. "Stealing my best friend, now are you?"

Percy looked somewhat intimidated by the older male, and Annabeth laughed to herself silently. He was no where near as talkative as he had been when just the two of them had been awake… "I, I, uh, I'm sorry," Percy stuttered, obviously unsure of what to do.

"I'm just teasing around," replied Luke, offering Percy a grin. "We both can be friends with her, so lighten up. In fact, I need another strong, valiant man to help protect Princess Annabeth, after all…"

A smile grew on Percy's face, and he glanced around the room modestly. Annabeth beamed, in spite of her dislike towards being called a princess. "Well, if no one else volunteers, I guess I can help," he said quietly, although his great pleasure was evident.

Luke crossed the short space between the cots in one step and sat with his legs criss-crossed on Annabeth's cot. She could see the outline of his blade-like ribs cutting into the front of his shirt."It seems to me that you now have two soldiers at your service, milady."

Percy shifted on the other cot uncomfortably, and so Luke beckoned towards him, scooting over to make space for Percy on the small infirmary bed as well. Annabeth grinned, hugging her knees to her chest, and flickering her gaze between the both of them.

This was the start of a long friendship—she was sure of it.


There was a loud clank, and she could feel the vibrations travel down her arm, as she parried her opponent's weapon with her own. She bit back a grin when she saw how much more the block had affected him. "Tired, Jackson?" she taunted, swinging her sabre expertly.

He rolled his shoulders back; his movements were stiff and jerky due to the breastplate he sported. "You wish, Chase." And with those words, he lunged forward with a jab, causing her to nimbly sidestep and avoid the attack.

Although his face was somewhat obscured by a helmet, she could see the familiar sea-green glint, and her heart pounded in her chest. The corner of his lips quirked upwards, his eyes flashed, and she barely had time to jump up to avoid his sabre as it swept across her feet. She landed on the ground unsteadily, and he immediately engaged her in combat.

They almost seemed to be in synchronization as they fought; every maneuver was countered with a block, every lunge parried by the other. It was almost like a dance— carefully planned, elegantly performed. Their concentration was unbreakable; she was living, breathing, fighting, and her focus on his movements did not falter.

"So, capture the flag tonight?" he questioned casually as he swung the sabre at her.

She ducked out of the way and lunged towards him. "Well, it is Friday, isn't it?" she replied sarcastically, scowling when he dodged her attack.

He continued to make small talk.

Thrust. "Something could happen—"

Dodge. "Oh, really, and what might this 'something'—" Jab. "—be?"

Sidestep. "It could…" Lunge. "It could rain?"

She rolled her eyes, moving out of the way. "You dumbass, it doesn't rain here!" She swung her sabre at his torso, but he blocked it with his own sword. They both held it there, putting immense amounts of pressure on it in attempt to make the other's arm cave.

His eyebrows raised at her. "Well—"

She seized the moment to maneuver her sabre under his, twisting it out of his grip, into the air, and catching it with her nondominant hand. She placed the dull tip of the sabre against his neck and watched him shiver from the cool metal of the blade.

"Next time you might want to focus on the opponent rather than the weather," she teased, slightly increasing the pressure of the blunt blade on his neck. Even though he had lost, he still maintained that easy-going, omnipresent grin, and his eyes twinkled.

The next thing she knew, the earth was shaking beneath her feet, and it caught her so off-guard that she stumbled backwards and fell onto the dirt ground. The sabres fell out of her hands as she used her palms to brace her fall, and almost daintily, he picked them up and pointed the tip at her face.

"You cheater!" she cried out indignantly, sprawled out on the ground in his shadow. He towered above her, but despite this height difference and his helmet that obstructed her view, she knew he was smirking.

He lethargically circled the point of the sword around her face. "What did I do?" he inquired, feigning ignorance and avoiding looking directly into her glowering eyes.

Instinctively, her gloved hand shot up, grabbed the dull blade, and pulled it to the side of her. Not expecting her movement, he didn't let go over the sabre, instead toppling down on top over her.

His arms automatically shifted so he held his weight above her, simultaneously caging her with his body. She froze, paralyzed, and all thoughts of fencing, his cheating, the sabres, dispersed. Her chest felt constricted as if it was caving in on her, and she wanted to tug at her breast plates to loosen them. She was trapped, and although it was terrifying, she had never felt like this—whatever this was.

Her cheeks felt warm, and she was thankful for her helmet that hid her sweaty, blushing face. He had yet to move, and the look he was giving her was just so intense, she didn't know what to do. You're a Child of Athena, for gods sakes! she scolded herself. Be smart! Do something—anything!

"Annabeth…" he murmured.

"Percy! Oi!" The addition of a new voice seemed to shake Percy out of whatever daze he had been in, and he scrambled off of her, extending a hand to help her up as well.

Annabeth dusted off herself, straightening her ponytail. (This was a habit she had picked up and performed whenever she was nervous or needed to clear her mind.) Her eyes shifted to the person, and a grin broke out on her face.

"You're supposed to be protecting Princess Annie, not capturing her, you Oaf!" Luke reprimanded Percy, who shrugged sheepishly. Even nine years later, at the age of twenty-five, he had kept up with referring to her as "Princess" and himself (along with Percy) as her dutiful soldiers.

Luke turned to look at Annabeth critically, a playful look in his eyes. "Nothing injured? Everything good? If not, we can always send him to the guillotine…" Luke joked, making a disgruntled noise with his mouth and drawing a finger across his neck.

Percy threw his hands up cheekily. "Let them eat cake!"

Annabeth rolled her eyes and punched Percy's shoulder. "Percy was just being a dick," she muttered, tugging at her heavy armor.

At her words, Percy threw his hands up in the air, pretending to be aghast, but he couldn't keep his smirk hidden. Simultaneously, Luke gasped and playfully scolded her. "Now, Annie, we don't use those words," he said mockingly. "That's not a very nice thing to call Percy."

She shrugged, glancing over at Percy who was staring at her intently. "Well it was a dick move. He cheated by making me fall."

Luke raised his eyebrows, his sky-blue eyes shining mischievously. "And why do we fall, Annie?" he inquired.

"So we can learn to pick ourselves up," Percy interjected loudly, not even bothering to hide his smirk.

"Shut up, Seaweed Brain. Who do you think you are? A member of the Wayne family?" She scoffed incredulously.

Percy shrugged, Luke chuckled, and Annabeth couldn't help but grin despite Percy's cheating methods. She lightly punched Percy in the shoulder and gave Luke a wave before she headed back towards her cabin.

Annabeth stripped her body of her armor, and then her clothes, before she stepped into the shower. The water struck her back in gentle pitter-patters, and she relaxed as she stood under the warm sprinkler.

Today had been different… that was for sure. This was the only thought she could completely comprehend out of all the other thoughts floating around in her head. And for some reason, a lot of them were centering on Percy.

She laughed to herself, although it turned out into more of a scoff. He was her best friend, her partner in crime, her companion on quests, her Seaweed Brain—he was her soldier, for gods sakes, her shoulder to lean on! There was no way that he could be something more… and definitely not in the romantic sense!

Annabeth stood under the water until it ran cold, simply thinking. She thought of how he never failed to make her smile, how he always found a way to cheer her up, how she could trust him with all her qualms about her family. She thought of the way his eyes shone through the darkness of his helmet, the way his lips would quirk up in the corners, the way he could be doused in his own perspiration, but look undeniably sexy.

Her cheeks heated up, and she slammed the knob of the shower off. Her heart was pounding like it was cuffed in chains, trying to escape from the bonds.

Okay, so maybe she liked Percy a little more than she originally thought.


"So, this 'Great Prophecy' or whatever," Percy said, walking alongside her, as they made their way towards the Big House for lunch. "Chiron said that the 'time to reveal it is nigh.' What does that mean?"

Annabeth opened her mouth to reply, but he continued on with a wave of his hand.

"I mean, I know what it means, but why tell me now? They've had, what, ten years to do so? I've known about this since I was seven," he said pointedly. "I'm seventeen, almost eighteennow—basically an adult, for the love of god! I can watch rated R movies by myself—" He sheepishly side-glanced at Annabeth. "—not that I would, or anything…"

She wanted to tell Percy the reason—in fact, she had wanted to since they were ten, seven years ago. Chiron, the head of Camp Halfblood, had informed her of the prophecy when she was young, but he had made her swear not to tell Percy until the time was right.

And it wasn't quite the time yet.

"Well, maybe the time wasn't right," Annabeth offered, in attempt to pacify the raging Percy. Even when he was frustrated he was cute. She couldn't help but tease him: "Or… maybe your vocabulary wasn't strong enough to know all the words."

He looked at her from the corner of his eyes again, and her heart skipped a beat. She told herself to breathe to calm herself down. "My lexicon is quite excellent," Percy replied mockingly.

"Excellent? Wow, two-point vocabulary word!" she laughed sarcastically, nudging him with her shoulder.

Percy grabbed her around her waist, using his fingers to tickle her under her ribs. She screamed in laughter, squirming in his arms in attempt to get him to stop, but as if he was immune to her struggling, he picked her up and spun her around.

"Percy, you bastard! Put me down!" Annabeth screeched, although she really didn't want to be out of his arms.

"Say the magic words," he whispered into her ear, causing her to abruptly stop wriggling.

She groaned internally. "Pleeeeaaaaaaseeee?"

He shook his head, chuckling, and she could feel the vibrations from his chest that was pressed up against her back. "No, the other ones."

This time, Annabeth groaned aloud. She began to recite the words in a monotone: "Percy is my favorite hero. He will save Olympus and all shall hail him. He is the best demigod I know. In fact, he is the bomb diggity…" Annabeth paused, hoping she wasn't blushing.

Percy urged her on. "You didn't finish it!"

Annabeth sighed. "... and… I love him."

He set her down, a goofy grin on his face. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"

She didn't even bother replying. "So how long is Luke supposed to be gone on his quest? He's been gone for a few months now," Annabeth murmured quietly, twisting her fingers together.

Luke had left two months ago, supposedly on a quest for the golden apples of Hesperides. This wasn't uncommon—Luke, even at the age of twenty-six, was the go-to boy for quests. Well, him and Percy, that is. However, what worried Annabeth was that for the past two months he had been absent, they hadn't received any kind of communication from him back at Camp Halfblood.

And this frightened her.

They finally reached the mess hall, arriving at lunch slightly late. She re-tied her ponytail, shaking her head as if that would disperse all her worried thoughts. "Let's go," she murmured, walking up the steps. A hand latched onto her arm, stopping her from moving forwards, and she turned to face Percy.

He pulled her back down the steps, gripping her upper arms with his hands. Annabeth stared up—he was a mere three inches taller than her—at him expectantly, wondering why he had stopped her. His mouth opened to say something, but it closed, his unspoken words causing tension between them. He was holding something back, she decided, but she didn't know what.

Annabeth looked down at the ground, wishing he would just let go of her already—it was bad enough she was worried, but now she had to be sure to maintain her composure!

"Hey, look at me," Percy said softly. His voice was low so no one around them could happen to listen in on his words. "Luke will be fine. He's a tough guy, and he's not going to just leave me to protect you on my own, right?"

From the upwards inflection of his voice, she could tell that he was trying to reassure the both of them. Nevertheless, she nodded, appreciating his effort to calm her. Percy's hands ran up and down her arms soothingly, and she nodded again, offering a small smile.

They made their way to their separate tables—Percy, as usual, ate alone—and Annabeth desperately tried not to think of Luke. He was fine, just as Percy said, and she shouldn't worry about it.

Annabeth ate her lunch in silence, attempting to focus on something else. She couldn't. After all, avoiding something only makes you think about it more; and so, she let her thoughts consume her.

"Peter Johnson," a loud, obnoxious voice announced. Her head shot up to the front of the mess hall, where she spotted Mr. D. He was the other head of Camp Halfblood, although he was no where near as efficient as Chiron.

She turned to look at Percy, who awkwardly shifted out of his bench seat and made his way towards the front. Her eyes were trained on the two of them—Percy and Mr. D—until Percy was dismissed and left the mess hall.

Immediately, Annabeth left her table to follow him, despite her cabin's disgusted looks and Mr. D's warning glare.

It was time—she was sure of it; Percy would finally find out about the prophecy, and maybe, together, they'd make some kind of sense out of it.

She made her way to the Big House and stood outside on the porch, before deciding to sneak inside. Percy was undoubtedly up in the attic with the spirit of the Oracle. Annabeth held her breath, waiting for him to exit.

"Waiting for someone?" a voice from behind her said.

Startled, she cowered back, only to trip and fall over a pair of feet—or more accurately, hooves. With a chuckle the centaur set her upright, backing up so she wouldn't be crowded by his lower body of a horse.

Annabeth looked up at Chiron, glad it wasn't someone else—like Mr. D, for instance. "Percy," she said, her fingers tugging at the edge of her orange Camp Halfblood t-shirt. "The prophecy…" Annabeth added curiously. "What does it mean?"

A guarded look took over the centaur's jaded face, and this only further spiked her curiosity. "Even I am not entirely sure," he finally answered, looking down at her.

"But surely you have an idea," Annabeth pressed on. She crossed her arms and stared at the centaur. He was withholding information—vital information that could be of some use. For the past seven years, Annabeth had been trying to figure out the prophecy, but it was to no avail, only serving to frustrate her.

Chiron sighed, his face looking rather conflicted. "I… The prophecy may not be what you first think," he relented, although Annabeth wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the centaur was stopped short by the door leading to the attic opening.

"Percy," Annabeth called out, nimbly maneuvering around Chiron's legs to reach him.

He looked rather distraught, but more confused than anything. "The prophecy…" Percy murmured, shaking his head.

"Yes, do you understand it?" she questioned eagerly. "I have no clue how to interpret it."

He shook his head again. "Wait, wait, wait, you knew? And you didn't tell me?" Percy inquired incredulously. "Annabeth, why would you keep something like this from me? You knew how much it meant—"

Annabeth's heart picked up as she tried to stammer a protest. "Percy—"

"How long?" Percy demanded. His voice wasn't raised, but it was certainly strained, as if it took all his willpower to maintain his calm.

She tried to answer, but Chiron cut in before she could say anything.

"I am the one at fault here, Percy," he interjected. "I made her swear not to tell you."

Annabeth didn't even try to state an excuse. They trusted each other, and she had withheld something important to him. She fidgeted with the hem of her t-shirt and re-tied her hair. Percy was taking deep breaths, and it was silent between the three of them until Chiron decided to leave. "Percy, I'm sorry."

He waved off her apology and gave her a small nod. "It's fine," Percy replied tersely, and she wanted to believe he said that genuinely. "Deciphering the prophecy is more important right now."

Percy then pulled out a small scrap of paper from his pocket and showed it to her. As she read the contents of the paper, she couldn't help but tease him—she was going to do anything to evaporate the tension between them. "You wrote it out? I didn't know you could write!"

He responded with a sheepish grin. "Hey, it was hard to remember, so I wrote it down. Not everyone is a Wise Girl like you." And just like that, they were back to normal, and she was more than relieved.

Annabeth read the prophecy aloud this time, in hope that something would click and make sense if she heard the words.

"A half-blood of the eldest gods
"Shall turn eighteen against all odds
"And see his friend in dire need.
"When face-to-face with life or greed
"The hero makes the final call
"To save the friend or end it all"

No. Nothing. It still didn't make sense to her.

"Okay, so obviously, the half-blood of the eldest gods and the hero is me," Percy started. "Because the eldest gods refers to the Big Three, right?"

"Well, yes, but you can't be sure you're the hero. And you're turning eighteen in a month, so even if we don't figure out the prophecy, we'll find out soon," Annabeth remarked. She stared blankly at the paper, as if by doing so, it would send signals to her brain that would tell her the meaning.

Percy performed a dramatic hair toss, despite his lack of long hair. "I am ninety-nine percent positive that the hero is me. The single percent of doubt is only to appease you, since you are standing right next to me. Everyone knows you're the abuser in this relationship… don't want to get hit!"

She punched him gently anyways. "Focus. Who is the friend? They're mentioned twice in the prophecy."

He shifted next to her. "At first, I thought it would be, um, you," Percy stated, "until I realized…"

Annabeth knew where this was headed, but she didn't want to say the words herself. There was something about vocalizing thoughts that made them seem all the more real.

Percy struggled with words. "Recently—well, the quest—I mean, there's been no communication—Luke."

She nodded in understanding. "Yeah."

There was a terse silence between them, and Percy cleared his throat, changing the topic. "What about the 'final call'? Any ideas?"

Shaking her head, she sighed. "None." Her concentration had evaporated the moment she realized who the "friend" in the prophecy was.

He stared at her intently. "Let's take a break, hmm? Maybe we can go to the beach when it's dark," Percy suggested.

Annabeth relaxed her shoulders. "In the dark? I thought you were afraid of the dark," she teased with a laugh.

"Afraid?" Percy deepened his voice to a husky growl. "I was born in the darkness!"


War. It was all around her, and she was trapped in the middle; the center of New York City; the center of Manhattan. The once bustling city was now put to sleep by the god, Morpheus, and her fellow demigods, as well as monsters that she only knew to exist in myths, surrounded her.

Behind her, stood Percy, armed with his pen-sword, Riptide, and together they took on the monsters, until their opponents exploded into a shower of gold dust.

"Houston we have a problem." She heard Percy's voice behind her, and she couldn't help but groan. Although they had defeated most of the monsters, a new group of three were crowding them. "Two snake-haired ladies, and a plus one!"

Snake-ladies? Oh, did he mean Gorgons? (That uncultured swine!) Were they here to avenge their sister Medusa, who Percy had vaporized a couple years ago? What were their names… they were immortal… "Stheno and Euryale!" Both the Gorgons turned to look at her, and Annabeth froze, their hair hissing at her venomously. She didn't freeze because they had turned her to stone—no, Medusa was the only one who could do that—but because she recognized their "plus one."

The Lamia.

"Come back to play with me, Daughter of Athena?" the Lamia purred, slithering towards her. "Kronos will be most happy… Sisters, I have the girl. Kill the boy."

Her fingers clenched the dagger in her hand, and a fierce look of determination took over her features. Last time she was afraid, but now, now, the only emotion that surged through her veins was anger. She was much stronger now. Faster, wiser, and trained. She would be able to take down the Lamia with ease.

Its tail swung at her feet, but she jumped out of the way before it could catch onto her leg. Annabeth stepped closer to the Lamia so she would be in range to stab, and then quickly moved out as the monster let out a strangled screech. It's just like fencing with Percy, Annabeth.

"You've gotten stronger," the Lamia commented, cowering back to tend to it's miniscule wound. "But that does not make you better, my darling. It does not allow you to anticipate this!" And with those words, the Lamia sprang forward, its tail flickering out like a tongue and latching onto her leg.

Annabeth fell to the ground, screaming in pain, as the Lamia coiled its tail tighter like a serpent, cutting off her circulation and restricting her from moving. The monster closed in on her, and her body surged with raw fear, but she couldn't move away. Come on, Annabeth! she yelled at herself. Up, get up! Fight!

Her dagger was still in her hand—for the Lamia had not realized this fact—and she willed herself to calm down so she could think clearly. Strike when the moment is right. You can do it, Annabeth, just breathe. The tail of the Lamia was biting into her skin, foreshadowing the pain she would face if she did not fight back.

The Lamia coiled backwards, baring its fangs, prepared to strike, yet Annabeth didn't move, instead clenching her eyes shut. Wait for it… be patient… "Think of it as a favor… now you can join that other boy who killed me the first time!" Luke! Her eyes flew open just as the Lamia struck downward, and her hand flew up, slashing at the Lamia's neck with the dagger.

The vice around her ankle immediately loosened, and Annabeth stared upwards at the empty space where the Lamia had once been—now, there was only a spray of dust. She did it. She had killed the Lamia.

The strangulated cry brought her back to her senses. Percy! She got up and saw him still battling both the Gorgon sisters. They were cornering in on him, capturing him in between them, and there was no way he'd be able to fight both of them simultaneously!

Annabeth raced to over where he was, watching him narrowly miss the swing of a blade from the Gorgon with the red-snaked hair… Stheno. But as the Gorgon swung, the other retracted her arm to do so as well—straight into Percy's spine.

"Percy! Behind you!" Annabeth screamed, diving in between Percy and the other Gorgon, Euryale, right as the dagger came plummeting down into the side of her abdomen. She fell to the ground, clutching at the blade in her side.

"Annabeth!" She blearily watched Percy turn around, quickly slicing the head off of Euryale before the Gorgon could react.

She could practically see the adrenaline race through Percy's body, as he began fighting the remaining Gorgon. She winced as the Gorgon's dagger slashed at his arm, causing blood to seep onto his shirt, but he didn't relent. In fact, he seemed to fight back harder because of it.

However, when Stheno knocked the sword out of his hand, Annabeth could no longer bear to watch. She wanted to do something, anything, to try and save him! He may have been her soldier for the entire time she knew him, but she was there to protect him as well! She tried to get up, but she couldn't, and Annabeth had never felt more vulnerable in her life. She wouldn't look—she couldn't look.

But then the miraculous happened—the ground began to shake. Annabeth stared at Percy, amazed, and even the Gorgon paused in shock. As the earth split open below their feet, Percy had enough time to retrieve his sword and deliver the kill shot, causing the Gorgon to vaporize into dust, just as it fell through the crack.

Immediately afterwards, he dropped his sword and ran to Annabeth's side. "Annabeth!" he cried, picking her up to gently cradle her in his arms. Her side was on fire—and it wasn't because she was pressed up against him. "Someone! Solace! Help!" Percy called out, his voice cracking. "You can't die, Annabeth, you can't… Anybody!"

Her eyes fluttered shut as someone came to their aid, and she felt her body drift off, her mind growing lighter and lighter and lighter, her eyes growing heavier and heavier and heavier, until finally, she blacked out.

When she awoke, the first thing she saw was the tired, dirty face of Percy. He was asleep on a chair next to the bed she was on, and one of his hands was holding hers. Annabeth looked around at the hotel room around her, and then rested her gaze on Percy, staring at him for a while, before he jolted awake, his bloodshot, worried eyes trained on her.

They stared at each other for what seemed like eternity, but was only a minute, before Percy finally spoke. "I thought you had died on me," he murmured quietly, and she could hear the angst and desperation in his voice. "The dagger… it could have killed you. It was for me... I should have taken it instead."

She tried to sit up, but her head was whirling in circles. "Stop," Annabeth replied, squeezing his hand tight and basking of the feeling of it. "I chose to save you; even the soldiers need someone to watch over them." He opened his mouth to say something else, but she cut him off. "Besides, a little blade can't kill me; I have too much swagger for the dagger."

This brought out a small laugh from him, as she had hoped, and he leaned down to hug her. Annabeth wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, holding him to her, and his arms came to wrap around her waist. Pleasantly, she felt no pain when he did that—only a small pinch of uncomfortableness—and she revelled in this small world of bliss.

"Friend in dire need," Percy said suddenly. "Do you think the prophecy was about you?"

Annabeth paused. "Final call… save the friend, or end it all," she said, pushing him back. "Percy, if I was the friend, then does that if you… let me die, then the fight would be over? Life or greed. Saving a hundred lives, or saving me. Percy—"

She was pulled into his arms again. "No. I'd do this over a million times if I had to and still choose saving you. We can still end this; the prophecy never said anything about having to end the war the fastest."

Annabeth nodded, her chin resting on the crook between his neck and shoulder. "How long was I out?" she whispered.

He pulled back, much to her dismay, and placed her hand in his. "Three days. Annabeth… I was so worried about you—"

"I'm sorry."

Percy shook his head. "No, don't apologize. But I thought I had lost you, forever—I thought you had died in my arms, and I never would be able to tell you the truth."

This sparked her curiosity, and she sat up on the bed, now that her dizziness had faded away. "If the truth pertains to me, then I think I am entitled to know."

He smiled softly, and she knew he was going to make one of his movie references. "You can't handle the truth."

Annabeth groaned, shoving him in the shoulder. "Percy…"

His thumb ran across the top of her hand, and they both stared down at their entwined hands. "I like you."

She bit her lip to contain her smile. "I like you, too."

"No, Annabeth, you don't understand; I like you, like, like like you," Percy blurted, running his unoccupied hand through his hair. "Gods, wait, I think I'm in like like with you!" His words meshed together, and he looked thoroughly embarrassed, but she could still hear what he had said.

Her heart rate spiked, and she couldn't contain her smile. She cupped his cheek with her hand, forcing him to look at her, rather than the white of the bed sheet. Annabeth could see her reflection in his eyes, and she forced herself to respond to him before she got lost in the sea-green depths. "I know I'm in like like with you."

"I'm sorry to break up this moment, but there is a war going on outside this little bubble of yours," a new voice interrupted.

Both of them turned to look at the intruder: a rather short man in his mid-forties, with a suit and tie on. Percy looked as if he was about to yell at this man, and so she placed a hand on his to keep silent—he looked oddly familiar.

The eyes. Blue, like Luke's. Of course! This was the god Hermes!

Annabeth sat up straighter in her bed. "I apologize,"—Percy furrowed his eyebrows at her—"Lord Hermes," she replied. "I had gotten stabbed and only just recovered, so we will commence fighting once more."

Hermes waved her words off with a flick of his hand, pulling out his smartphone instead. Now, Percy really looked like he wanted to wage a war against this man. "No more fighting for you two—the head honcho you're looking for, Kronos, that is, is up at the... gates of Olympus, if I've been informed correctly."

"But what about the others?" Percy demanded, getting up from the chair. "We can't just let them fight on their own!"

The god didn't even bother looking up from his phone. "You can, and you will." Annabeth could see why Luke didn't think too highly of his father. He almost reminded her of her own—mortal—parents.

"Sir—" Annabeth began. She didn't even have time to finish her sentence before Hermes snapped his fingers, and suddenly she, Percy, and Hermes were standing in the elevator of the Empire State Building.

"Annabeth's unwell, sir," Percy said, holding her body to him. "Take only me to Olympus to defeat Kronos."

"Percy, I'm fine—"

"You see? Your girlfriend's a-okay… for now," Hermes said. He chuckled to himself as if he had said something funny, and she felt the same anger towards him that Luke originally contained the first time she asked about it. "Anyways, we're here already. Too late."

The elevator doors opened, blinding Annabeth for a moment from the intensity of the lighting. Hermes nearly pushed the two out of the elevator, and they fell onto the plush carpeting outside the gates of Olympus.

"Oh, whoops, I guess he's already made his way in," Hermes informed them once he noticed the gates were open. "Well, on we go now."

Despite the glowing facade, Olympus looked rather deserted to Annabeth. It was almost as if nobody was home, and the place was free for the taking.

"All the gods scrambled when Kronos arrived. It was like the Jewish Diaspora, but well, not Jewish. Duh," Hermes explained, still typing away on his phone as he led them to the atrium. "Only Hestia stayed, bless her soul. It'd be chilly here without—" He stopped his obnoxious opinions short when he saw who was sitting in the throne.

"You? What are you doing here? You're supposed to be dead! Where is Kronos?" he demanded.

Annabeth couldn't believe her eyes. The person on the throne looked like Luke, sounded like Luke, but for some reason, his presence seemed really… off. Not to mention the long scar running from his left eyebrow to his chin.

"Oh, but I am Kronos," the man said.

No, Luke couldn't be Kronos! He had saved her from the Lamia—the Lamia who was working for Kronos! All those years, the soldier and princess thing… how could that have been Kronos, all this time?

"Nakamura!" he called out, and suddenly, a golden net was thrown upon all three of them. Hermes immediately tried to break free, to no avail.

"Hephaestus' golden net," Percy whispered to her. "The one he captured Aphrodite and Ares in."

"What have you done to my son?" Hermes stipulated.

The man who had cast the net on them laughed spitefully. "Son? We found him on the side of the road, half dead! You could practically feel his back through his stomach—even more so than Buddha when he was an ascetic! If anything, we saved your son, so you should be grateful you unappreciative son of a—"

"Enough, Ethan!" Luke/Kronos boomed. "Kill the god first."

Hermes was dragged out of the net, and placed on his knees in front of the throne, a sword at his neck. "No, wait!" he protested. "Luke, I know you're there! Luke, I am your father!"

Luke/Kronos chuckled acrimoniously. "I am not Luke, nor are you Darth Vader."

The god grunted when he realized the father-card wouldn't work. Annabeth was sure that even if Kronos was Luke, the pleading wouldn't have worked either way. "I'm a god! You wouldn't kill me if I could be of use to you! Use me as a bargaining chip with Zeus! Kill the pathetic demigods instead!"

The titan paused, considering Hermes' begging. "Throw him back into the net. Get the girl."

"No! Take me instead!" Percy immediately objected. "She's not a child of the Big Three; she doesn't have anything to do with the prophecy! You can spare her!"

Luke/Kronos rolled his eyes as if he didn't have time for Percy. "Nakamura, what are you waiting for? Get the girl."

Annabeth was dragged out of the net, and placed on the ground in the same position Hermes had previously been in. Her heart pounded, her breaths were labored, and she couldn't help but think that this was it, the moment she would cease to exist.

She could hear Percy's pleads behind her—each cry he made lodged a shard of glass deeper into her heart, stabbing her further. Stab. She still had her dagger! The cool blade of metal pressed against her neck, and she knew she would have to act fast.

Taking a deep breath, she ducked her head down, drew her dagger, and plunged it into Nakamura's lower abdomen. At the resounding sound of the sword clanking to the marble floor away from them, Annabeth retracted the dagger—causing Nakamura to fall to the ground in pain—and throw it at the chest of Luke/Kronos.

He pulled it out easily, not a single emotion of pain seen on his face. Instead, he laughed humorlessly, and helplessly, Annabeth watched the dagger fall to the floor. "Naive girl," Luke/Kronos mocked. "I have been dipped in the River Styx—I am invulnerable!"

No. There had to be something she could do.

"Luke!" Annabeth screamed as the titan approached her. "Luke, please! It's me, Annabeth!" Her voice was becoming hoarse as the titan expertly toyed with his sword.

Percy joined in with her yelling. "Luke! We're soldiers, remember? You have to remember, please, Luke, fucking hell, please!"

"Luke, I know you're still there!" Annabeth gasped in between cries. Kronos had brought the sword up, prepared to strike her, and she clamped her eyes shut. "Princess Annie! You promised to protect me!"

The next thing she knew, the sword swung, not at her, but across the hall, where the blade shattered into pieces amongst hitting the wall. Surprised, she stared at Luke/Kronos, who seemed to be fighting a battle within himself. Luke was still alive, and he was resisting!

Only Luke knew the exact whereabouts of Kronos' Achilles heel… there was only one thing to do.

"Annabeth!" She turned around and caught the small pen Percy had thrown at her just in time. Her eyes connected with Luke's as she clicked the pen and tossed it to him. Immediately, although with great struggle, he raised the sword to his left ribcage, just to the left of his heart, and plunged it into the flesh.

There was a horrid shriek—worse than anything she had ever heard—as Luke/Kronos collapsed to the floor. Annabeth couldn't do anything but stand there and watch as her oldest friend was dying. When face-to-face with life or greed/ The hero makes the final call/ To save the friend or end it all.

"Percy…" Luke croaked out. "Remember... what I told you." She turned around to see Percy nod earnestly at Luke's dying body. There were glimmers of tears in his eyes, and from the wetness on her cheeks, her face was the same way.

She faced Luke again. He gave her a smile that seemed to take every ounce of energy left in him. "I love you, Princess."

And just like that—he was gone.

Annabeth fell to her knees in silent sobs. Her friend of eleven years… Gone. Dead. Nonexistent. How was she supposed to react to that? Was there some "right" way? Numb; she felt numb.

"So now that he's dead, could you get us out of here?" Her head whipped around to see Hermes attentively type away on his phone, as if he hadn't just witnessed his son's death for the greater good of mankind. He paused momentarily, glancing up from his device to her face. "Oh come on. You can't expect me to be sad over the loss of one son? Why do you think I have so many others? And it's not like he was 'The Jason' or 'The Theseus.'"

She didn't want to hear anymore of his incessant remarks. Annabeth swiftly cast the net off both Percy and the god; the latter promptly disappeared seconds after this occurred. Annabeth collapsed into Percy's arms as if she had carried the burden of the world.

He rocked her back and forth, rubbing soothing circles on her back and mumbling incoherable words. He wasn't crying, but she could tell he was straining to suppress his sobs from the way his body shook with tremors every minute or so. Strong—he was trying to be strong for her.

The friend hadn't been her, and the hero hadn't been Percy; both had been Luke. He had essentially protected her until the very end… She would have to be strong, just like him. But with Luke no longer existing in this world, she couldn't find it in herself to do so—at least, not at this moment.

There was nothing she could do in this moment, but cry.


After she and Percy had returned down from Olympus, they had found that the city of New York had awaken and was bustling once more with life. It seemed as if Morpheus had never even cast a sleeping curse over the city—the monsters had dissipated, the demigods had retreated, the destruction was reconstructed.

The world was seemingly at peace, even a half-a-year after the Great War—which really only lasted a week—occurred. Camp Halfblood was a time of bliss and a place of leisure, and Annabeth had never been happier.

She was sitting on the edge of the dock, her feeting hanging aimlessly over the soft waters. It was early dawn and no one was awake yet—it was just her, the fresh air, and the sound of the waves softly lapping up against the shore.

A euphoric six months had passed, and it was the morning of her eighteenth birthday. Annabeth didn't know what to think—she was finally an adult. She could leave Camp Halfblood if she wanted to, she could travel the world. She was free from the legal bonds of her parents—her parents, which she hadn't spoken to in eleven years.

They probably thought she was dead.

She scoffed to herself lightly, swinging her feet above the ocean, making little splashes when the tips of her toes caught a drop of saltwater. Eighteen. Wow, she was really eighteen. It didn't feel any different, nor did she feel any more… important. If anything, it made her feel smaller and more insignificant, now that she was truly part of the "adult world."

There was a light tap on her shoulder, and she looked up to see a smiling Percy and a blue cupcake in his hand. "Happy Birthday, Wise Girl." He handed her the cupcake and sat down beside her on the edge of the dock.

Annabeth stared at the crudely—although lovingly—made cupcakes in her hand and grinned at him. "You remembered."

He nudged her with his shoulder, before leaning backwards on the flat of his hands. "Of course I did! It's not like everyday my princess becomes an adult!"

At the term "princess," Annabeth's heart panged as she remembered Luke, but her face quickly heated from his possessive use of "my." "Thank you," she said politely, licking the tip of the frosting off. Immediately, a burst of sweetness exploded in her mouth, and she craved milk to wash it down. Percy watched her expectantly, gauging her reaction, and so she smiled, for his effort was cute. (It was obviously self-baked.)

Almost hesitantly, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and she settled comfortably next to him, nibbling on the cupcake every so often. They weren't officially together, she didn't think, but it was obvious that there was… something, between them. Or at least that was what a fellow camp member had mentioned.

Either way, she kind of liked the relationship they maintained now. She was certain they were together—they hugged, they kissed, they even went on a date once—but she liked how there wasn't… a name to their relationship. They didn't have to live up to any expectations, or have any preset standards.

They were just Percy and Annabeth, and she was perfectly fine with that. And together, in silence, they watched the sun rise up above the waters of the east coast.

Around lunch time, she was called into the Big House by Chiron. It had been months since she was last summoned, and so for this to happen on her birthday, her interest was piqued.

However, all she received was a letter. The outside was nothing much—there was no return address written on the outside flap. However, the handwriting was vaguely familiar, and Annabeth retired into her cabin to read it.

That was where Percy found her, hours later, curled up into a ball on her bunk and dry tears on her face.

Her dad had asked her to come home.


"I can't do this, I really can't do this," she murmured, wiping her sweaty palms on the front of her legs and retying her ponytail. "Damn you for convincing me to do this."

He hushed her, taking both of her hands in one of his, and sliding a piece of hair behind her ear. "C'mon now," he whispered as they stood on the porch to the house—the dreaded house. "We'll do this together, okay?"

Annabeth couldn't help how her heart spiked with absolute terror, especially because of her stepmother. She hadn't seen either of her parents for twelve years, and so the only memories she had of her stepmom was the terrifying images of monsters her seven year old mind had conjured. She let out a deep breath and nodded her head. "Okay."

They stood in front of the door, Annabeth's hand a clamp on his. He looked down at her patiently, and she nodded again, extending her other hand to knock on the door. No matter what, she had Percy by her side, not only as her lover, but her soldier as well.

She knocked on the door.

It opened slowly, revealing a face she had lost in the caverns of her mind, but the longer she stared, the clearer her memories became. "Annabeth?" Even the voice was familiar—it had always been low, warm, and fatherly, although his actions had not always corresponded.

Percy squeezed her hand reassuringly, and she offered a tentative smile.

"Hi, Dad."


"And why do we fall, Bruce?/ So we can learn to pick ourselves up." — Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins

"A half-blood of the eldest gods/ Shall turn sixteen against all odds…" — The great prophecy, Percy Jackson and the Olympians

"But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it…" — Bane, The Dark Knight Rises

"'I think I'm entitled to.'/ 'You can't handle the truth!'" — Kaffee, Colonel Jessep, A Few Good Men

** Please infer about the rest of the prophecy, as well as what Luke had told Percy. (He told Percy this before he went on his quest.) Also, this is not edited!

tumblr: universalborderlines