"You're cute when you're worried."
Annabeth reached up to the worry line on my forehead. A shock, like a bolt of lightning, ran through my body. Hearing that made me way too happy, especially considering the situation. Kronos was launching his assault. We had just taken out hundreds of monsters, but the army would not stop. There were thousands more to go. Eventually, no matter how bravely, how strongly, the demigods of Camp Half-Blood fought, they would win. We were outnumbered.
Not to mention that Annabeth had taken that poisoned dagger for me. And she might as well have been on deaths door. A knife wound in the shoulder does not have an easy recovery. Especially celestial bronze. Especially when the blade is poisoned.
I was so deep in thought, not paying attention to the conversation we had been having, that I did not notice Annabeth slip her hand underneath my shirt. Her fingertips brushed the spot that marked my vulnerability. I took a deep breath and had to resist shuddering. The shock that I had felt from her touching my forehead was nothing compared to this.
"Here?" she asked. Her eyes were clouded with pain, but her brow was still creased in concentration.
I took her hand in mine. If I could not trust Annabeth, who could I trust? I moved her hand a few inches, centering her fingers over the small of my back.
"You should get some sleep."
"I'm wide awake, Seaweed Brain."
"I'm serious, Wise Girl. You need rest. You can't risk any more ambrosia or nectar."
"I am resting." She tried to gesture to the lounge chair she was lying on, but noticeably winced when she moved her bad shoulder.
"Annabeth…" I pleaded.
She tried to sit upright in protest. I could tell that the effort made her dizzy and maybe nauseous from the way she squeezed her eyes shut, like she was trying to block out the world.
I gave her a gentle push back onto the chair.
"Fine. You need rest too." She scooted over on the chair, indicating that I should take the spot.
There really was not enough room for me. But I knew it was no use arguing with her. Especially since I had just persuaded her to stay lying down. And she was right. Even I needed rest.
I lay down next to her, careful to keep from touching her shoulder. There was no way to prevent the entire side of my body from touching hers. We were not kids anymore and sharing was not the easiest thing. I was sure that this was not going to be a very restful experience. My brain was in overdrive. There was no way I was going to fall asleep like this. I would have had much better luck in one of the hotel rooms that we had commandeered for the war effort.
"How are you?" Annabeth asked. She was looking determinately in front of her, but I saw her sneak a glance at me from the corner of her eye,
"I'm not the one who took a knife."
"I'm well aware. That doesn't change my question."
"Why'd you do it?" I asked.
I was clearly avoiding answering her question. How was I? I was scared out of my mind. Being certain that I was going to die within the next few days certainly was not helping my mood. Not to mention that so many of my friends were wounded or already dead, and more would be after the next night of fighting. And Annabeth. I was happy that we seemed to be becoming more than friends. But she was gravelly injured.
The only answer that came to mind was to lie and say that I was okay. I was not okay, and I had no way to describe what I was feeling. I did not want to lie to Annabeth, and not just because she would call me out on it.
"I felt like you were in danger." She tried to shrug like it was no big deal but winced. "You would have done the same for me."
"Yeah…" I trailed off. She was right. I would have done the same for her without hesitation. But that did not change the fact that it was a big deal.
"Do you want to talk strategy?" she asked.
I was thankful that she had not tried to pursue the are you okay? question.
"No," I responded. "I want you to get some sleep."
"Whatever you say, Seaweed Brain." She grabbed my hand.
I laid awake for what seemed like hours, watching the sun climb higher in the sky, thinking about the previous night, and the nights to come. And Annabeth. I was really worried about her. I knew that she would want to help fight tonight. I knew that there was a good chance that she would not make it through the war – there was a good chance that none of us would. I was worried about what would happen if she had to face Luke – Kronos – in battle. And I was worried that I would get myself or someone else killed if I could not stop thinking about her.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, determined to fall asleep.
I was ripped from my dream with a start. Someone was shaking my shoulder and whispering my name. I tried to open my eyes, but the intensity of the sunlight made me squeeze them back closed. A girl's voice, but it was not Annabeth.
Annabeth! The first thing I noticed was that she was not holding my hand anymore, and I was disappointed until I realized the second thing. Her good arm was wrapped around me, with the tips of her fingers resting on the small of my back. At least that explained the strange dream about Grover tap dancing on my back.
I could feel her other arm pressed between us. Her bad arm! There was no way that was comfortable. I tried to bring my hand up to rub the sleep from my eyes, but my fingers caught on some fabric. I tried to sit up, but I was being held down by something. I steeled myself and started to blink blindly up at the figure that was slowly coming into focus.
Thalia wiped the self-satisfied smirk off her face when she saw that I was awake, settling instead to arch one of her eyebrows.
I looked down. Annabeth was almost entirely on top of me, and my hand was tangled in her shirt. I was awake.
"What?" I asked Thalia, trying to sound nonchalant despite the fact that I could feel the blood rushing to my face, turning it the same color as a firetruck.
"Oh, nothing. Please continue whatever it is that you were doing."
"Tempting. Why'd you wake me up?"
Thalia's expression turned serious. "There's a group coming towards us. A titan, one of those hyperborean giants, some others, all under a flag of truce. I figured you should meet with them and that they would ask for you anyway."
"Okay." I disentangled my hands and rubbed my face. Annabeth was still snoring. Little puffs of air were being exhaled through her nose onto my chest.
Thalia turned and walked across the balcony toward the doors. She turned back halfway there.
"Percy...?" she prompted.
"Help?" I asked. I really did not want to wake her up. And I did not know how to move her in a way that would not jolt her shoulder and wake her up anyway.
Thalia smiled. "Pleasure."
She thought for a minute. "Annabeth, there's a spider…"
She did not say it loudly, and in fact it was almost a whisper, but Annabeth bolted upright, looking around wildly. She almost fell off the chair in the process, but I grabbed her hips to keep her steady.
Her face turned as red as mine felt, and she hurriedly pushed her shirt back down with her good hand – which was probably a good thing. I had been making direct eye contact with her stomach.
"Where's the spider?" she asked, still looking around anxiously.
I cleared my throat, feeling beyond awkward. I pulled my hands away from her, and the shirt settled more solidly against the top of her jeans.
"There's not a spider."
"Someone said there was."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Thalia had an excellent poker face.
Annabeth was not buying it and glared at the both of us in turn.
"Percy, c'mon." Thalia turned her back to us and walked to rest of the way to the doors. She was starting to wear a guilty expression.
"Right." I sat up. "See you soon."
As I got up, she pushed her hair out of her face and huffed. When I walked away, I heard her mutter something.
I turned around. "What?"
"Nothing." Annabeth tried for a smile, but it looked more like a grimace.
I found Will Solace on my way down and asked him to check in on Annabeth. I finally caught up with Thalia in the lobby.
"So," she said as she pushed open the front doors. "How are you two lovebirds – "
I cut her off. "Not a word." That just made her smile more.