Leaving aside the never ending army of monster in the place, everything was going ok. The group had dispersed; the air was thick and filled with the dying screams of monsters as they were either slashed, smashed or incinerated.
Percy made his way through another wave of monsters. He was covered in sweat, mud and hundreds of bleeding cuts but he was still alive. That was good.
Stopping to catch a breath, he analyzed his surroundings. Some 100 feet to his left he watched from behind as Annabeth fell to her knees. A dracnae hovered over and pointed her with a spear.
“Annabeth!” He yelled, already running towards her. He wasn’t going to make it in time.
In the last second, Piper threw herself against the snake lady, pushing her away from the blond girl.
“Oh gods, no…” murmured Percy, letting go of Riptide to hold Annabeth. There was a spreading stain of blood in her stomach and her skin was getting paler. Her eyes were barely open. “What happened?” He demanded.
Piper approached while sheathing her sword, her face dyeing worry as she stared Annabeth’s wound. “We … we were fighting nearby and she tried to warn me about a monster at my back and…” She looked away and fought back a sobb.
Annabeth made an effort to talk. “It’s not your fault Piper. I was too reckless”
Piper was going to talk again when Jason landed lightly by her side.
“Is something wro— Oh. That doesn’t look very good”
“It doesn’t feel any better”
Jason gulped and controlled his bewilderment. “We’ll keep the monsters at bay you… stay here.”
“I don’t think I can actually move anymore so don’t worry” Annabeth tried to smile but flinched instead. It hurt. Everything hurt.
“Annabeth, please— don’t.” Percy’s voice was full of concern.
“Let’s go” Jason carried a very reluctant Piper and flew away.
Percy watched them go and then tried to pull Annabeth up. “Come on, I’ll take you to a safer place”
“Percy, no” Annabeth grasped the boy’s hand. “There’s no safe place in here. You know it.”
“But you can stay here. Not like this”
“You’re saying I don’t look good?”
The blond girl managed a giggle. “I’m sorry. Looks like the roles are turned: Now I’m the one doing silly jokes in serious situations.” She raised a trembling hand and caressed Percy’s face. “You still look handsome when you frown that much. I’m… I’m gonna miss that”
“Annabeth…” Percy took her hand between his and kissed it.
“I’m not your Wise girl any more, huh?”
“You’ll always be.” He said, pressing his lips hard against hers.
“Oh, Seaweed Brain … I’ll miss that even more.” Tears were gathering in the girl’s eyes. Was this really happening?
Percy shook his head in denial and spoke with a strangled voice. “You’re gonna be fine. You have to.” The desperation inside of him was growing every second. He was losing her. “I can’t do this without you”
“Then… do it for me. Be my hero again”
The boy couldn’t bear it anymore and burst into tears. All they have done until now seemed useless.
“I love you Seaweed Brain…” Annabeth whispered when her hand fell to the ground. “I’m sorry…”
“No… Annabeth, no…” Percy muttered as he watched the gray eyes of his girlfriend disappear behind her flickering eyelashes. “As long as we are together, Wise girl, remember?!
Lightning illuminated the gray sky and everything around vanished. The howling of monsters, the clattering of arms—nothing else mattered. Annabeth was no longer with them.
Percy raised a shout to heaven while thick raindrops began to fall and Gaea’s laughter echoed in the distance.