Annabeth woke to an insistent pounding on the door of Percy's cabin.
Percy's cabin. Shit. She was going to be in soooo much trouble.
"Percy get your ass up! Just because you saved the world doesn't mean you get to slack off of your teaching duties!"
Annabeth relaxed when she realized that it was Grover, from the sound of it, trying to break the door down, not Chiron or a harpy.
"Percy!" she whispered urgently. "Percy! Wake up! Grover is at the door. You need to let him know that you are awake so that he doesn't catch me in here." She didn't think he heard half of what she had just said.
Sighing and trying to extricate herself from his death grip on her waist, she got up and opened the door to pull Grover inside by his collar, before he woke up every cabin with his obnoxious pounding and shouting.
"Hey! Wha-" he started, coming to an abrupt halt when he noticed it was Annabeth that had pulled him in, not Percy. His eyes took in her hair - which she was sure looked like some birds had made their home there overnight - her wrinkled clothing, and the covers of Percy's bed thrown part way back on one side.
"Umm...Annabeth. Hey! Uh...What are you doing in Percy's cabin?" he asked.
"Nightmares." she answered, making her way over to Percy's bed again. She wondered if he would be mad at her if she rolled him onto the floor to wake him up. Sure, it was kind of a bad way to wake your boyfriend up, but hey - Percy could sleep like a Medusa victim sometimes. In the end, she wound up not having to wake him up at all because before her hand could touch his shoulder, his eyes opened and he drank in the sight of her.
"Hey, Wise Girl." he said with a smile that immediately made her smile in return.
"It's about time you got your sorry ass up, Jackson."
"Hey, don't be a hater. I need my beauty sleep," he said with green eyes that twinkled mischievously.
Behind them Grover forced a coughed. "Sorry to interrupt, but Percy if you don't get down to the sword fighting arena people are going to wonder where you are."
"Oh. Hey, Grover. I didn't see you there."
Percy just laughed, not embarrassed in the slightest. "You are not any better with Juniper, G-man."
Annabeth turned from Percy to Grover. "Speaking of, how is Juniper? I haven't seen her yet."
"Oh, she is fine. Just shaken up, you know? I think everybody is trying to let it sink in that the war is finally over."
She knew what he meant. It seemed like years ago - not months - that her and Percy were on winter break, excited that they got to spend it at camp together. But then, of course, Hera had made 'the switch,' and thus began the whole crusade.
"Ok, well I have to go. I'm teaching a nature class in 10 minutes so I'll catch you later." Grover said. But when he reached the door he turned around with a smirk. "Oh, and Annabeth? I see you still only break the rules for Percy. Good to know some things never change."
He laughed at her blush, and headed toward the forest to teach his class.
A few days later everybody was around the campfire singing the silly songs that they all knew by heart. The flames were a bright yellow orange color, indicating the good mood that the campers were in. Annabeth couldn't help but smile to herself; this was what she had wanted for so long now. To be able to sit with Percy and her friends around the campfire made her so happy that she was sure her smile couldn't get any bigger. And sure, her nightmares were bad, but the past few nights she had been able to sneak into his cabin - via her yankees cap of course - and she had started to feel stronger again. She guessed that having a diet containing real food and not Phlegethon lava water had that effect.
However just as they were starting a new song Chiron came up behind them.
"Annabeth, I'm sorry for the interruption, but you and Percy must come with me please. I have to talk to you."
"Oh. Sure Chiron." She shot Percy an uneasy glance as she got up and started following Chiron to the big house. She noticed a few of the campers were shooting quizzical looks their way, but she supposed that it couldn't be helped, all things considered.
Percy came up next to her, matching his stride with hers, while entwining their fingers together.
"Yeah…?" she questioned. He had a worried look in his eyes.
"Do you…." He shook his head like he didn't want to say it. "Nevermind."
"Percy, it's okay. Spit it out." She hated when he got all worried.
He huffed and ran his free hand through his hair. "I feel like I'm being a little paranoid, but you don't think we are going to have to go on another quest for a while, right? I mean we just got back."
She thought about it for a second. It didn't make sense to send them back out right away. Not after what they had been through. Besides, who would want to stir up trouble this soon after the war anyway?
"No, Percy. I don't think we are going on a quest for a looong time."
"I hope not. I - I don't think I'm ready for that. Yet," he added.
She would have reassured him; told him that she wasn't ready either - not by a long shot - but they had reached the Big House and Chiron was leading them into the rec room.
He gestured for them to sit down by the ping pong table and they almost sat in the same chair. ( She didn't mind sitting in Percy's lap, but she doubted Chiron would appreciate it.)
"What's going on, Chiron?" she asked, a little nervous.
"Well, it appears that you and Percy have been bending a rule or two. The rest of the campers look up to you guys, and you should want to set a better example for them. Why are you sneaking out of your cabin, and into Percy's, at night with that hat of yours' Annabeth?" he asked calmly.
She shifted her eyes downward. She hated disappointing Chiron, he was like a father to her, but she hated admitting she had a weakness to anybody almost as much.
"It was because of the nightmares. I can't sleep without him near me." She felt the blood rush to her cheeks, but it was the truth. She, physically and mentally, couldn't relax when she didn't have him in her sight. She felt Percy take her hand under the table and give it a reassuring squeeze.
"Mmm. Well, that is understandable, you two have been through a lot recently, however that is no excuse." His stern expression turned to a sympathetic one. "Do you wish to talk about it?" he asked.
"No, I, uh...don't like to think about them if I don't have to," she said, looking at her and Percy's intertwined hands under the table, "but thanks, Chiron."
The centaur gave a weary sigh. "Of course, Annabeth." He then turned his attention to Percy, who tensed reflexively, when the centaur's gaze landed on him. Even if they were home now, they still found themselves with one hand on their weapons, always prepared for an attack.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say you are suffering from something similar?"
"I, uh," Percy looked tentative, then took a deep breath, "yeah," he admitted slightly defeated, but also slightly relieved. Annabeth knew that he didn't like to talk about it either. It was bad enough they had to relive everything at night - but they always had people constantly asking for stories during the day too, and it was just too much sometimes.
"While I understand that this is a hard time for the two of you, more so than the others, you still can't break the rules. There is a reason that campers are not allowed to sleep in cabins that are not their godly parent's. Each cabin is a shrine, so to speak, to the respective god, and it can be seen as act of disrespect to the gods when you don't abide by the rules. Now, that being said, maybe if you could get permission from your father, Percy, that might allow Annabeth to join you in your cabin."
Percy looked at her with defeat in his eyes. She could tell he knew it wasn't an option for him to come to her cabin - and the only other option she could think of was building their own cabin off to the side of all the other ones. (But that was as likely as Poseidon granting Annabeth the privilege of sleeping in Percy's cabin.)
Annabeth was sitting with Percy on the far side of the canoe lake. After their talk with Chiron, they had decided not to go back to the campfire to avoid any questions that might arise from the other campers. Now, with just a few minutes before lights out, they were sitting together enjoying the night and each others company. Percy was playing with her hair
Percy broke the silence first. "Annabeth?" he started. "Do you want to make a meeting place for when we can't sleep?" They both knew that they wouldn't be able to work something out with their parents to sleep in the same cabin.
She thought about it. "Yeah, thats a good idea."
"Ok, well, where should it be?" he asked playing with one of her curls.
"Hmmm...how about the beach? In my old favorite place?"
"Damn," she hated having to watch out for them.
"Hmm. Why not the loft? I mean the harpies won't come around there because they hate the stables…."
She turned to look at him. "I think thats perfect."
Percy's dream started well enough. He was on a date with Annabeth, and she looked gorgeous in a royal blue dress that just brushed the top of her knees. The front of her hair was pinned back on one side and you could just see the silver owl earrings she never took off. He looked around and saw they were in Central Park, the moonlight cast long shadows across the path they were leisurely walking on. They were making small talk about random little things, until Annabeth stopped short.
"Did you hear that?" she asked.
"That noise. I think we are being followed," she said, her eyes scanning the area around them automatically.
"Stay here. I'll go see if I can find anything," said Percy, wanting to protect her even though he knew she didn't need his protecting.
"Like hell I will. We aren't separating Percy! How many times do I need to tell you that?"
"Right. Sorry," he said, his eyes involuntarily scanning the area as well.
They stepped off the path, but before he could make it more than a couple steps, he found himself sinking in the mud.
She turned around and her eyes went wide.
"Percy! Don't move!"
As he was sinking his surroundings began to change. The sky overhead became nothing but a cloud of acid, the air became insufferably hot, and large, metal doors appeared in front of him. He was staring at the doors of death, which meant they were back in tartarus.
He struggled against the mud, and started making headway, but before he was completely free, a massive cyclops pounced on Annabeth, and she had to roll out of his line of sight to avoid being crushed.
Finally breaking free of the quicksand-like substance, he ran towards Annabeth. He was still couldn't see her when she suddenly screamed.
"Percy! The doors!"
He looked over his shoulder and saw they were beginning to close.
Running like a madman, he stuck his foot in the crevice just in time to stop them.
"Annabeth! Come on!" he shouted.
He turned his head in time to see her get knocked down by the creature's massive paws.
"Annabeth!" he screamed.
She looked at him with big, gray eyes and mouthed 'I love you' before the cyclops crushed her.
"NO!" he cried. "We were supposed to stay together!" Unfortunately, this only brought the attention of all the other monsters in the vicinity on himself. Just as a dracanae was about to stab him his eyes flew open.
He sat there for a while, catching his breath and calming himself down. He had woken up with tears running down his face, and adrenaline pumping through his veins. Knowing that he wasn't getting back to sleep anytime soon, he decided to walk around and try to clear his head. What he really needed was Annabeth, but she was - hopefully - sleeping in the Athena cabin.
As he was walking, he wondered how long these nightmares would plague him and Annabeth. Seeing as they just got back from the most terrifying quest they had been on yet, he knew it would probably be a while, but knowing that didn't make them any easier to deal with.
He shook his head, as if that would clear his thoughts, and looking up, he found himself at the stables.
Walking in, Percy thought he could visit Blackjack. Sure it was around 2 a.m. but what did that matter? Blackjack could take a nap if he wanted. (Ok so maybe that was a little rude, but he needed to talk to somebody. Besides, the loft was above the horse stalls so he could check for Annabeth too.)
He reached Blackjack's stable before realizing he didn't have any donuts on hand. Then he smiled at the thought.
"Blackjack," he thought.
"Donuts….mmmm" was his response.
"Wha- Boss? That you?
"Yeah, sorry to wake you."
"It's fine. Got any donuts for me?"
"Sorry, Blackjack. Fresh out."
"So, you went all around the world fighting all those monsters, and you didn't smuggle a single donut in for me?"
Percy laughed. "No, sorry Blackjack. I couldn't exactly pull up to a Krispy Kreme in a greek warship."
"I guess. So, Boss, What are you doing up at this hour anyway?"
Percy moved to sit on a haybale before answering him. "Oh, nightmare. But Annabeth's not awake, and I can never get back to sleep after them without her."
"I see. You really like her, huh, Boss?"
"Yeah, Blackjack. I really do." Percy said, even though like didn't seem to cover it. Annabeth was his girlfriend, but also his best friend, and somebody who he couldn't imagine living without. They had literally been to hell and back together. He needed than he could ever admit.
Just then a loud clatter came from above them. Percy wondered if Annabeth was up there, but he hadn't seen her come in, and it had been completely silent until now.
"Yo! Boss! You hear that?"
"Yeah, Blackjack. Stay quiet," Percy thought at Blackjack warily, already heading toward the noise. "I'm going to check it out."
Annabeth woke with a gasp, and almost tumbled out of her bunk. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and tried to calm her out of control heartbeat. She was getting really tired of almost dying in her dreams along with almost dying in real life. Luckily she hadn't woken up any of her siblings with her outburst. She looked around her cabin for a few minutes as her breathing returned to normal. She tried to turn over and go back to sleep, but after a half an hour of lying in her bed wide awake, she gave up.
Crawling out of bed quietly, she got up, changed her clothes and strapped her ivory, drakon bone sword to her belt, to help reassure herself. Opening the cabin door she crept outside, wondering what she was going to do for - she looked at her watch, frowning slightly when it read 3:00 am - 3 hours until everybody else woke up. She briefly wondered if she could go in the forest and hunt, but that didn't seem like the best idea to do alone when on edge. Instead she decided to go to the loft that was above the stables and see if Percy was there.
As she walked in she passed Blackjack, who was asleep in his stall. Probably dreaming of donuts, she thought to herself. She climbed the stairs two at a time and looked around the small, yet cozy space. her old spot. As she made a pile of hay for herself to lay on, she wondered if Percy was having better luck than she was sleeping tonight.
She was laying there for about a half and hour when she realized she still had her sword strapped onto her belt, and it was digging into her hip painfully. She unstrapped it and thought she was setting it on a haybale, but she wasn't paying attention and she felt it slip from her fingers when her hand was still 6 inches from the edge of it. The sword fell to the floor with a loud clatter, and she mentally cursed. She got up to put it on the haybale, but paused to listen. She thought she heard somebody creeping up the stairs. Picking up her sword from where she had dropped it, she got ready to attack.
Percy walked slowly up the stairs, while drawing Riptide from his pocket. He didn't really think a monster was in the loft, but he wasn't taking any chances. He got up the last step, and all he saw was a flash of blond hair and gray eyes that were harder than steel before his reflexes kicked into high gear and blocked a strike that would have pierced his heart.
"Percy!?" Annabeth cried when she saw the familiar raven black hair and sea green eyes. "Oh my gods! I thought you were a monster or something! I could have killed you! Don't ever do that to me!" She stood there panting, looking at him like he had just murdered her favorite teddy bear.
"Annabeth…." he said reaching to take her hand. "It's okay.
She didn't have to ask him why he had his sword out coming up the stairs even though he probably guessed it was her who had made the huge noise.
"Percy, I could have killed you."
"You said that already, Wise Girl."
She just looked at him before tackling him in a hug that made him lose his balance slightly.
"I'm sorry, Percy," she said into his shoulder.
"Hey, don't be. I would've done the same thing. I had my sword out too."
He sat down on her pile of hay and drew her down into his lap, and she made herself comfortable in his arms.
"Do you want to talk about it tonight?" she asked, referring to his nightmares. Because, why else would they both be up in the middle of the night like this?
"It was the same one," he said staring at the wall, his voice almost flat, but with a slight quiver.
She knew what he was talking about. Percy's nightmares were usually a recurrence of the same one. Annabeth's nightmares liked to remind her of all the different ways she could die. She rarely had the same one, but they were usually always some form of losing Percy.
She just hugged him, knowing he would tell her more if he wanted.
"It's just - every night I have to relive the same thing. I have to watch you die every night, Annabeth," he said, his voice cracking.
She felt her eyes well up because she knew exactly how it felt.
"Percy, I'm okay. I'm not going anywhere, ever. You know that."
"I know, but every night I'm the one that fails. Every night I lose the thing I can't live without."
She noticed with a pang that he had tears running down his face.
"Percy," she said softly. "Look at me."
He turned his bright green eyes on her, and she took his face in her hands.
"I am still here, Percy. That proves you didn't fail when it mattered. It's going to be hard for a while, but I won't leave you to face it alone."
And with that, she kissed him, a soft reassuring brush of the lips, to show just how much she meant it.
Percy woke to Blackjack's voice in his head.
Yo, Boss! You gotta get up. The harpies are gonna getcha."
Percy groaned. He most certainly did not want to wake up. He was waaaay to comfortable. "How many times have I told you not to call me that?"
It also didn't help that he could smell Annabeth's lemon soap and he always found the smell intoxicating.
Annabeth's lemon soap? He started awake. He and Annabeth were curled together, in almost the exact same position they had been in when they fell asleep talking earlier.
"Annabeth. Come on we have to get up."
She opened one eye and looked at him. "You have hay in your hair."
"Whatever," he said running his hand through his hair. "Come on, we gotta get back to the cabins before anybody notices we are gone."
"Yeah, I know," she said standing up.
"You might want to brush yourself off. You look like you lost a battle with a haybale."
She just smirked at him while she made sure all the hay was off of her clothes.
She leaned in like she was going to kiss him only to smirk and say, "Race you back to the cabins, Jackson?"
"Oh, you're on, Chase."
A/N: Hi everybody! Ok so I know I have been really bad about updating lately, but that is due to me getting back on schedule with my skating. I have been injured for the past 3 months ( I had 2 stress fractures in my back) so I had a lot of free time. Now - not so much. Updates are going to be sporadic because summer is high training time, so just try to bear with me.
Also as always, Thanks for reading and please review! I love to hear what you guys think!