you and i against the rest of the world
Annabeth liked her school. Maybe that made her sound strange, but she really didn’t care. It was big, with beautiful buildings, high ceilings and a lot of light so that she could sketch whatever she liked whenever she wanted to. The people (for the most part) were nice too, probably because it was an all girls’ boarding school and the most exciting thing that ever happened were the Friday cake sales. It was prestigious, too, and put her in a great place for starting college that fall.
Still, that didn’t make up for the fact that there was no Percy Jackson at her school.
Most of the girls knew about him, because Annabeth had mentioned him to a friend and the whole thing had sort of spiralled from there – rumours about him sneaking into her dorm at night, taking her on wild midnight dates and such.
And none of that had been true.
Annabeth had laughed at the ridiculous stories her classmates had come up with, how they barely scratched the surface of what exactly Percy and her had been up to (somehow, fighting monsters never quite made it onto their lists). None of it had been even half plausible – for one thing, Percy was on the other side of the country back in New York – until one night, when she woke up to the sound of something knocking on her window.
She froze instantaneously at the noise, in spite of the fact that her eyes were still droopy from fatigue, and grabbed a knife from beneath her mattress. She’d been even more on edge than ever since going back to school, away from the security of camp and Percy and her friends. Tartarus had affected her more than she let it show.
Annabeth swung her feet onto the floor and crept towards the window, gripping her weapon tightly. She swept aside her curtain, expecting to find a monster –
Illuminated in the soft yellow light of the lamppost outside was her boyfriend. He was crouched on the windowpane, dressed in a pair of sweatpants and his orange camp t-shirt. She wondered what the hell he was doing, and opened the window.
“Hey.” Percy said, all too loudly for her liking, as he climbed through the window.
Annabeth shushed him, “Seaweed Brain! D’you want everyone to wake up?” she hissed.
He only looked somewhat apologetic, “I just – sorry.”
His head dropped to stare at his feet. Annabeth could hardly believe her sleep-deprived eyes.
“Are you okay?” she said softly, “What’s going on?”
“I…I freaked out.”
And then it clicked. Annabeth knew his mom and Paul had gone away for the weekend; Percy had told her so only yesterday via Iris Message. Which meant that Percy – who, like her, suffered from severe panic attacks – was here because he was scared.
Annabeth took his clammy hand and led him over to her bed. Her room was dark, and she switched on her bedside lamp as they sat down so that she could study him more closely.
In the months that had passed since they’d escaped from Tartarus – since the war had ended – she’d seen a change in him. He didn’t laugh as much anymore. When he made jokes (and they were pretty rare) they were undermined by a cynical tone, usually something bitter, like he’d been chewing on a lemon. Physically, he looked different too – not necessarily in a bad way. She’d be lying if she said the way his hair was perpetually messier and how his green eyes darkened when he was angry didn’t turn her on just a little. But his shoulders were hunched over more frequently now, like he was trying to shield himself from something, and she knew he woke up most nights in a sweat.
She lay down and he mirrored her, squishing next to each other on her single bed.
“I was down there again,” he began, shifting to look at her, “Only you – you weren’t.” His voice broke on the last word.
“You’ll never go there alone,” she whispered, “Remember what I said?”
“You said together,” he said the words low, like a chant, like a prayer. “You said always.”
She wrapped a leg around one of his and cupped his face softly, ignoring the host of questions that she wanted to ask him – how he’d gotten to her so quickly, if he’d woken up feeling like his throat was trying to crawl out of his body. When she kissed him, it was chaste, light. They fell asleep with her head next to his and his arm around her waist. For once, neither of them dreamt of anything.