Never Let Me Go

BY : Magma
Category: M through R > Percy Jackson & the Olympians
Dragon prints: 5846
Disclaimer: I do not own Percy Jackson nor do I make any profit from this. I do it purely for my own enjoyment

 


 

It's a long way

d

o

w

n.

-

She's falling again, gravity tugging at her skin and bones as she hurtles through infinite blackness toward the bottom miles and days away. If she's screaming, she can't be heard over the noise of the thick, putrid air whistling past her ears - not even by the boy next to her, whose hand is slipping away from her little-by-little as inertia takes its toll.

Her nails dig into the skin of his wrist, drawing blood as she fights desperately to keep him with her, but it's no use. In an instant, he's gone and she's screaming herself raw, flailing for his hand and grasping nothing but air.

This time, she falls alone.

And it is immeasurably, unbearably worse.

-

She jolts awake, clutching her sheets to her heaving chest like a lifeline. Her back flares with an acute, aching pain, as if she hit the ground going a million miles an hour and broke every single vertebrae of her spine. But that's impossible because it's been years and - she chokes on a sob. Oh gods, no, please not again -

"You all right?"

Annabeth nods, although she knows her tears directly contradict her words. Beside her, Percy reaches out and runs a gentle, calming hand up and down her arm, gauging her response. She doesn't always liked to be touched after one of her night episodes, but sometimes she needs the extra help to ground herself back in reality.

Gradually, she notices the blue glow and low murmur of the television set on the wall and that Percy's legs are sticking out on top of the comforter. Some nights he doesn't sleep at all and more often than not, those nights coincide with her night terrors. She doesn't know what to make of that, if there's anything left to be said about their messed up lives.

"What was it this time?" Percy asks after a little while, his deep voice quiet and comforting. They don't remember everything that happened down there; they couldn't remember it all without being driven out of their minds. It's a small blessing, although sometimes their dreams deliver some fresh new horrors to keep them trembling and afraid. But not tonight, not for Annabeth.

"The fall," she whispers, pressing her palms into her eyes and trying to stop the tears. "A - and you weren't - "

Her voice cracks and Percy hesitates only briefly before pulling her to his chest, muscled arms encircling her body protectively. His lips brush against her wet cheeks, and she can almost hear the echo of a desperate, sixteen year old boy in his voice as he murmurs over and over, "You're not getting away from me, Annabeth. Never again."

-

They don't talk about it for months after its over.

There's too much else to focus on - rebuilding Camp Half-Blood, Camp Jupiter, and the rest of the world; mourning their losses and burying their dead; dealing with the gods and their ridiculous egos; trying desperately to be normal again - to talk about that. She knows they'll need spend a thousands of hours in therapy rehashing it over and over again at some point, but first, they need to put some distance between themselves and Tartarus, when the emotional and physical wounds aren't so fresh.

(And if she can avoid talking about it, she reasons, then no one will know about the mistake and she won't have to - )

Even though they don't talk about it, the funny thing is... no one asks them about what happened either. Their friends on the Argo II had gotten a brief version of events after the rescue, but they hadn't pressed them for more, already having gotten their fill of horrors from Nico and what they saw on the other side.

Their fellow demigods at Camp Half-Blood are usually salivating at the mouth to hear war stories around the campfire, especially from Percy and Annabeth, but it's different this time. No want wants to hear those stories, not when they can look at their broken and feral heroes, and can fill in the blanks on their own. Someone's imagination can cook up all sorts of horrible possibilities and Annabeth doesn't want to be the one to inform them that there are much worse things out there . 

-

Demigods don't scar very easily, what with the abundance of ambrosia, nectar and children of Apollo running around to bandage and soothe over their torn skin and put broken bones back into place.

So when they do scar, either they've managed to have a close and traumatic enough brush with death that something needs to be left behind to mark the occasion or they've purposefully let the wound heal normally to distinguish themselves among other demigods.

Annabeth's body after Tartarus is littered with them, most of them small enough to be covered with her clothing and explained away as bad falls from childhood. She doesn't remember how she got half of them or which monster left their mark on her. Her left ankle bears the worst one, a ring of shiny, burned flesh left behind where Arachne's webs caught her up and dragged her to hell. It's a constant reminder of Annabeth's hubris, of what happens when she lets her pride take over and lets her guard down. Often, she'll catch herself looking down at her ankle and second guessing herself when she has to make an important decision - it's a bad habit she'll need to learn to break before she goes back out on the battlefield. If she ever does.

Out of the two of them, Percy has the worst scar - a long, jagged red line that runs from the corner of his neck down to the top of his sternum. The puckered edge isn't covered by any of his shirt collars, but it's not all that noticeable when he has clothes on, so very few people know how bad the scar really was. 

-

"Percy, Percy, no, please," Annabeth's hands are slick and warm with blood as she holds them against Percy's neck, trying to stem the flow, but it just keeps gushing out, dribbling between her fingers and down her arms. "You can't - oh gods, Percy!"

He's so pale and so cold, and there's no way she can save him. She has no ambrosia or nectar, no healing powers that can fix him and no god to pray to for a last minute miracle. Annabeth has nothing but herself and she's just a useless daughter of Athena who's not smart enough to save the boy she loves from bleeding out inches from the threshold of the Doors of Death.

Percy wraps a weak hand around her wrist and she meets his gaze, terrified by the fear she sees in his dulling green eyes.

"Don't... " he whispers, struggling to get the words out. Annabeth doesn't even recognize his voice, it's so hoarse and insubstantial. "Don't let go. O-okay?"

Annabeth nods, unable to hold back the panicked tears making their way down her cheeks and the great, animalistic sobs bursting out of her as her heart shatters from grief. She can feel his pulse weakening under her palms, hear his wet, raspy breathing getting shallower, and his hand slips from her wrist as the last of his energy fades.

"Percy, no," she wails, afraid that it might already be too late . 

And underneath her, the ground rumbles with triumphant laughter.

She then wakes with a start, heart thumping in her chest, sweating like crazy as she's dragged out of her worst living nightmare. Most of it is true of course. And it haunts her everyday...

-

It doesn't take him all that long to find her again.

She's wrapped up in a huge blanket on the beach, listlessly staring at the waves rolling in and out, idly wondering how cold the water is this time of year, when she hears him approach. It's way early and they both should be in bed, but dealing with harpies and the consequences of breaking camp rules is nothing now compared to what they've gone through.

She looks over her shoulder at him, but doesn't say anything.

"D'you mind if I sit?" he asks quietly and in true Percy Jackson fashion, he's already folding himself down beside her before she gives him an answer. He takes a deep breath and runs his hand through his hair nervously. 

"Nightmares got you again didn't they..?"

She doesn't say anything at first, letting the steady sound of the waves breaking against the sand fill the silence between them as she works on maintaining her composure.

"Yeah...," she says at last, her voice soft but steady. She stares straight ahead at the ocean. "But it's been burned into my memory and it's you... I see you... ", her voice breaks.

"Every time I close my eyes, I see it... I see you, and I'm afraid that when I open them again, you'll be gone for real and the last few months have all been in my head."

"Hey... I'm here aren't I..?", he reaches out and intertwines their fingers. "And I swear by the river Styx, I'm not going ANYWHERE"

Annabeth drags her gaze away from the ocean and looks at him. There's no anger in him, just acceptance and understanding, and she feels her control slipping.

She buries her face in her knees, letting the silent tears coursing down her cheeks be soaked up by the blanket. The grief for the boy she almost lost threatens to rise up and crush her anew, but he now puts his arm around her shoulders, anchoring her.

"Thanatos sent me back for a reason, Annabeth," he murmurs, pressing his face into her short curls. "I don't know what it was, but I know he doesn't make mistakes and I would've been long gone if I wasn't supposed to be here. Except I'm still here, I'm alive, and we're together. Just like I said we'd be. You... you don't have to face this alone any more, 'Beth. You can let go."

With a shuddering sigh, she nods and opens the blanket, pulling him to her. She slides her hands under the front of his shirt and settles them over the warmth of his chest where she can feel the steady, unending beat of his heart skin.

Her hands and that steady beat are still there when she wakes in the morning, sand in her hair and the sun beginning to peek over the inky blue horizon. 

-

Bit-by-bit, things start to get better.

She still has to sleep with the lights on and the nightmares are just as bad, but they're not as frequent and realistic as they were. Her hair's grown past her chin and she's gaining back some of the weight she's lost, so the girl in the mirror in the mornings isn't quite so unrecognizable.

The wounds are closing over and there will be scars, yet some day, those, too, will fade. Maybe she won't ever be completely whole again, but she'll learn to keep living and make the most of it. And she's okay with that.

-

The lone benefit of careening into the pits of hell and surviving long enough to pop back out on the other side is that no monster is stupid enough to take them on any more.

She and Percy are out on a date when they happen across a couple of empousa on a night out on the town, dressed to, well, kill. The she-demons take one look at them and cross hurriedly the street to avoid a confrontation. Annabeth sees one of the brunettes pull a gawking young one's hair, dragging her gaze to cement and shrieking, "Don't look them in the eyes, they can vaporize you with a glance!"

It's that scene that causes Percy to laugh - really laugh - for the first time in months and soon they're both leaning against a street pole, giggling until tears stream from their eyes and the empousa are long gone.

"Gods," Percy chuckles, wiping the corners of his eyes. "What are they going to do when they find out you're the only one with a death glare?"

Annabeth glares and smacks him in the shoulder indignantly. "Oooh, you're going to regret that later, Seaweed Brain!"

But Percy just laughs at her some more and Annabeth can't help but let her glare turn into a helpless, radiant smile.

-

The sun was almost all the way gone, disappearing into the Long Island Sound. Higher up the beach in the dunes one of the guys from the Apollo cabin was strumming his guitar and singing a moody song, with his hair hanging in his eyes looking broody and poetic for a few of their fellow campers.

Percy and Annabeth were strolling down along the tide line, their toes sinking into the soft sand. Annabeth had rolled up her jeans so they wouldn't get wet. Percy's hems were dragging in the water but they weren't wet. They wouldn't be unless he wanted them to be. Annabeth looked down at their bare feet inches away from each other as they walked and gave a small smile that was almost hidden by the fall of her hair. Percy caught the look though and nudged her with his shoulder.

"What are you smiling about, Wise Girl?" Annabeth looked up and rolled her eyes at him. For the first time, in a really long time, she was happy. Her nightmares now were slowly fading and she almost completely, felt like her old self again. And its all thanks to a certain Seaweed Brain...

"Nothing, Seaweed Brain," she scoffed, pushing on his shoulder. Percy pushed her back and she shoved him. Soon they were in a full out wrestling match, each trying to topple the other in the lazy waves that lapped at their calves. Percy was sure not to tap into the strength of the ocean around him though he was tempted a time or two.

"If you two losers are supposed to be dancing, you're doing it wrong!" Clarisse announced on her way back up the beach towards the bonfire.

Percy and Annabeth jumped apart, startled, neither had even heard her coming. Percy looked a little abashed. They stood in awkward silence for long moments. Annabeth reached up and finger combed his hair back into place from where it had been mussed in their tussling. She didn't know when she'd started having to look up at Percy.

Percy stood quietly while she fixed his hair and then reached out and tugged gently on a long blond curl where it hung loose over her shoulder. "Thanks, Wise Girl."

"No... Thank you"

Annabeth smiled at him in the twilight and leaned up and kissed him with a passion that sent him stumbling back a step. He could almost feel her grinning into the kiss . 

"What was that for?" Percy asked, pulling away, unable to stop himself from grinning back at her.

"We survived hell Percy Jackson..! And we've saved Olympus... Twice! You were impressive... Really impressive. It was deserving of a kiss." Percy let out a short chuckle and nudged her shoulder with his own as they turned and started walking down the beach again.

"You were pretty awesome too, Annabeth."

"Really?" She stopped and raised her eyebrows at him.

"Yes..." he agreed slowly when she appeared to be waiting on some sort of response. A beat went by and her eyebrows rose higher. Finally she signed and turned to continue walking. Percy put his hand on her shoulder and spun her around. His arms were warm and his lips were salty when he kissed her, just the merest brush of their lips. Then they were both grinning widely, stupidly and turning and walking down the beach again.

The two of them - they're going to have a future, a good one, and they're going to be all right.

-

Annabeth doesn't remember when she became comfortable with sleeping with the lights off. It was something that had to be worked up to over time and then adjusted when they began sleeping together, so they would both be comfortable. When they went apartment shopping, Annabeth insisted they needed a place with lots and lots of windows, no matter what the cost, so in the mornings, their bedroom would positively flood with natural sunlight and she wouldn't wake up feeling trapped and scared ever again.

The overhead light in the bedroom is the first to go off, replaced by a solitary lamp by the bedside table. It doesn't always stay off - both of them take their turn flipping it back on in the middle of the night - to check whether the other is alright.

Now there's just a single seashell night light plugged in next to the bed, casting a calm, blue glow against the wall. Annabeth watches it every night as she falls asleep, thinking of the ocean, of the sun's warmth and golden blue light, and of the man who won't let go, who has his arm around her waist and is snoring softly into her hair. And she just can't put in words how happy his drooling sight makes her

..............................................................

[A/N]

Hope you guys liked it :D

Percabeth for life..!

 



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