Maybe Dark!Annabeth fighting a child of the big three and she knows that defeating them with physical, raw power isn't possible, so she attacks mentally. She defeats them with words, something Annabeth constantly does throughout the books to her enemies. Making them so angry, distracted, and/or sad that they lose focus and she easily takes the victory.
Annabeth feels him coming before she sees him.
There’s a charge in the air. A gathering static that threatens to strike with every movement she makes, but never quite gets the guts to do so.
That’s Jason Grace for you. Son of Jupiter, chosen of Juno, and just a touch too soft to do what needs to be done. Oh sure, he’ll kill monsters if he needs to, but when the monsters are gods, his solution is to become a priest.
It’s about finding a compromise, he’d said. And making sure that we’re heard.
Annabeth’s finding there are better ways of making noise.
“You got here faster than I expected,” she remarks as he touches down in front of her. She’s perched on the crumbling remnants of a wall that’s thousands of years old. Some small, distant part of her regrets what is about to happen here, but not enough to change course.
“Your pattern’s getting old,” he says. His gladius is out and he holds it warily between them. Annabeth keeps her drakonbone sword at her side. “The others can hold Percy off long enough for me to stop what you’re doing.”
She raises her eyebrows. “You’re the only one coming?”
He tries to hide his grimace, but that’s the danger with fighting your friends. They can read you too well, and a smile curls over Annabeth’s mouth at the confirmation. She hops off the wall, landing lightly on the dirt.
“What made you think I’d be at Pompeii?”
Lightning crackles in the sky overhead, raising the small hairs at the back of her neck. He nods at the scaffolding in the distance, empty of workers this early in the morning. It’s a grim dawn, about to get darker.
“No tourists today. You might’ve turned against the gods, Annabeth, but you’re not a murderer.”
Isn’t she? Annabeth has lost count of the number of monsters she’s put in the ground (under the ground). How many demigods died in the war with Kronos? They bleed red the same as mortals, and her hands are as stained as anyone’s.
So are Jason’s, and irritation pricks at her face. She smooths it away with a cool smile, carefully tracking him as he starts to circle her. She has a certain amount of faith in Jason’s willingness to ‘save’ his friends, but she’s not an idiot.
“So I should start picking locations with people if I don’t want you to interfere, is that what you’re saying?”
“That’s obviously not what I’m saying.” His gaze flickers over the ruins stretching behind her. “So this is all rigged to blow, huh?”
“Leo does good work.”
He winces. He can play on whatever friendship the two of them might have had all he likes, but that betrayal is the real knife in the guts and they both know it. Annabeth coerces her expression into concern, the cogs of her brain turning the right muscles to give it the realism it needs. She takes a half step forward, and Jason doesn’t step away.
“He misses you, you know.” Her voice is a soft thing. Caring. “Misses both of you.”
“If he misses us so bad, he should come and see us.”
“You really think we’re going to be welcome at Camp after all this?
“You haven’t killed anyone.”
The yet sits between us, and it doesn’t matter anyway. The gods would be more likely to forgive her if she had killed someone. They could have murdered thousands of mortals and not been struck down, if they’d just done it far away from the last vestiges of godly power in this world.
Gaea had plotted to bring down Mt Olympus, and that’s definitely on Annabeth’s list. But she’s always been a methodical sort of girl, and divine power runs deep. Best to stamp out all traces of it, one relic at a time.
She sighs. “We don’t plan to. You know that.”
“You’re trying to kill the gods!” Lightning cracks again, closer now. It takes more strength than Annabeth wants to admit to to avoid reaching for her weapon.
“And how many times have they tried to kill us? At best they don’t give a shit, Jason, you know that.”
But he’s shaking his head. They’ve had this fight before, all of them, enough times that she could probably just record it for him to save energy. He’s long since stopped listening to sense, and she doesn’t bother with more than a cursory attempt to convince him.
“You’re too late for this one,” she says. “I’m proud of you for getting here before it blows, but you were right. It’s ready to go.”
His grip shifts on his sword. And - there’s something in his expression that prompts her to brace for an attack, because it’s not defeat. This time, she thinks. This time might be the one where I push too far.
It’s sad, sort of, but relief swamps that soon enough. It’s not that she wants to fight old friends, but it would make everything a lot simpler. To just be able to fight, without caring what happens to them anymore. To draw battlelines instead of blurring them
“I don’t want to hurt you,” he growls. “But even if the rest of your team is ready to destroy this place, they’ll stop once you’re a hostage.”
Annabeth laughs. It’s a miscalculation, but she can’t help herself. “The others might. But hell itself couldn’t keep Percy Jackson from me, Jason, and you’re no Tartarus.”
“I can deal with Percy.”
He can’t. She wonders idly if he knows that. Everyone’s aware of Percy’s power these days, but that’s what he’s like with her at his side. Jason, she suspects, still has a little too much optimism left about what Percy’s self control would be like without her. What it would be like if he even thought she was in danger.
“Right, well, that’ll be your mistake to live with.” She squints up at the sky, trying to judge her next play. Being a hostage would accelerate certain things that she’s not ready to set into motion just yet. Most of all, she doesn’t think that Percy is quite as ready to fight the others as she is.
“You made a miscalculation,” she said finally. “You always want to go for the biggest player, Jason. It’s one of your biggest weaknesses.”
“You can’t talk your way out of this, Annabeth.” His body moves, and she can almost trace the lines in the air, the familiar forms he’s about to slide into. “You’re coming back to Camp wth me.”
He lifts his blade, wreathed in lightning. She smells ozone on the air, the threat of violence wafting in behind it. She clasps her hands behind her back, and lays down her hand.
“Where’s Piper, Jason?”
Everything stops. Nature itself holds its breath as those too-blue eyes widen in sheer panic, before narrowing at her.
“Piper’s your friend. You wouldn’t hurt her.”
Annabeth waits. She doesn’t need to say anything. The silence between them does it for her. The even sound of her breathing. The shroud of absolute confidence holding her shoulders straight.
You are not going to take me, her body says, like it’s all a foregone conclusion.
“She can handle herself,” he tries again, and there’s the edge of desperation that she’s been waiting for. Enough to cloud his thinking. He might not think she’s a murderer, but there are other atrocities. Things she hasn’t held back from in the opening numbers of this new war.
That’s a risk. Because they both know that Percy isn’t steady, isn’t stable, that his relationship with Piper had been tenuous at best and that without Annabeth there, his temper might just get away with him. Piper has her Charmspeak, but there are ways around everything if you have enough power.
It’s a risk, because Jason’s anger could always outweigh his fear. He could always take it out on her rather than fly off for Piper. Annabeth is confident in her ability to take him with a sword, but Jason comes with all those bonus add-ons that children of Athena just aren’t privy to.
So she gives him one last push. Just to make sure.
“Tartarus has so many doors,” she says softly. That same quiet concern from before, turned deadly now. “You know we found all of them, right Jason?”
He spits a curse, something in Latin about the gods and what he hopes they’ll do to her. She watches him leap into the sky, shading her eyes against the rising sun until he’s no more than a dot in the distance.
“You say that like they haven’t already done their worst,” she murmurs, before turning back to the ruins.
There’s work to be done.