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All of your street light eyes

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Forks, 2020

 

There’s a reason he left, but–

Sometimes, when Percy lets himself think about her–the blood red eyes, long blonde hair bouncing in princess curls, the harshness of her gait and the knowledge she possesses–he has to take a breath. Not that breathing helps, of course, because he hasn’t needed oxygen in almost a thousand years. But he always feels like he has to do something, to check himself, make sure he doesn’t drop everything to go running back to her. Every day he spends without her there’s a hot iron rod prodding his heart, but he’s used to it. Running back to her means running back to them, and Percy may be old but he hasn’t forgotten. There’s a reason he left.

The new town he moves to is gloomy and wet, just the way he likes it. There are plenty of beaches where he could play, but no sand, just small dark rocks that could cut skin. Not his, obviously, but he always has to be careful whenever he’s around people. It’s been almost a hundred years (98, to be exact) but he still hasn’t fully controlled his thirst. Still, he has forever to work on it. It’ll be fine, someday.

He was turned at 19, so Chiron insisted he enroll at the community college to keep up the disguise. Percy’s lost count of the number of degrees he has. His new “family” has been nice, he guesses, and overly generous. Chiron leads their coven, posing as their father. There’s only been one addition to the group since Percy joined them, and they’re all vegetarians–if you can call not eating people and sticking to animal blood vegetarian, that is. Despite that, he finds himself growing fond of them. Annabeth has always told him that he had a bigger heart than what was good for him, and that he was loyal to a fault.

And well–there it is again: the spark he feels from the base of his spine all the way to his unbeating heart, whenever his mind so much as glazes over her name. Sometimes he thinks that she is capable of making him breathe again, that one kiss and his heart will pump blood enough to overwhelm his senses. Other times he knows it’s just her effect on him; after all, she is his mate. Was. Is. He’s not entirely sure anymore.

“Percy,” Piper calls his attention from the door of his bedroom, leaning against the frame. She’s young, only about two hundred years old, and the newest member of the coven, but she has control none of them has seen before, even Percy. He still has bouts of envy at the thought at times. “Chiron, Leo and I are going hunting later. It’s been a while and it’s kind of beginning to take toll. Clarisse and Beckendorf went out earlier so it’s just us. You coming?”

Percy shakes his head. “I already ate yesterday when I went to the beach.”

Piper raises a brow, making him sigh exasperatingly. “It was a mountain lion, Piper, but thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“Can’t blame me,” she shrugs, her braided hair falling to her back. “You are an Olympian.”

Percy inhales sharply at her words, and he sees regret instantly fill her expression. Piper tries to open her mouth to say something else, but he brushes it off. “Never going to live that down, huh?”

“Perce…”

“It’s fine,” he tries for a smile, standing up and patting her shoulder. “Go. Chiron’s probably waiting for you. Besides, I have that thing in Seattle that I have to go to tonight, anyway.”

Upon hearing his words, Piper’s entire demeanor changes, switching from guilty to teasing in a matter of seconds. “Oh. Seattle, is it?”

“Piper,” Percy warns, narrowing his eyes.

“Let me guess, you’re going with Rachel?” She asks, a grin tugging her lips upward. She even wiggles her eyebrows for effect.

Percy should have expected this. Piper’s the most hopeless romantic out of all of them, though she hasn’t found her mate yet. She’s always teasing him about his human friend, so much that he’s kind of getting used to it. “And Grover. We’re going to this art exhibit. Her work’s going to be featured and everything.”

“Poor Grover, then,” Piper muses just as she’s starting to walk away from his room. “He’s going to be a third wheel all night.”

“No, he’s not.” Percy protests, rolling his own golden eyes.

Piper stops mid walk to turn back to face him. “It’s not so bad, you know?”

“What?” He shakes his head in confusion.

This time her voice is soft when she tells him, “Falling in love. Again. Or just going out in general.”

“Piper,” Percy starts to feel his whole body tense at her words, one hand coming up to his forehead in frustration. “You know that can’t happen.”

“Why not, Percy?” She questions with a frown. “Because you already have a mate? Do I need to remind you that Ann–“

“Piper,” Chiron interrupts them from downstairs, but the damage has already been done. Percy clenches his fists at his sides. He doesn’t want to hurt Piper. She’s like his sister. But she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t have a mate. She doesn’t know that it’s physically impossible to fall in love with someone else. Vampires live forever, and they mate forever too. “Let’s go. We’ve been waiting for you for ages. Leo’s getting antsy.”

There’s a thud of footsteps on the stairs before Leo pokes his head just enough to see them. “Yeah, Pipes, let’s go! I’m craving for some deer.”

“You’re disgusting,” Piper deadpans before turning back to Percy. “Listen, I’m sorry, okay? Forget what I said. Enjoy your night and tell us all about it later, alright? Bye, Perce.”

He manages a quiet ‘bye’ back before they’re gone.

-

North America, 1269

 

Percy has never believed in soulmates before. In his four hundred years of living, he’s seen enough death and destruction and selfishness to doubt that such a thing could exist. Even his father and uncles couldn’t stick to one person, especially now that they have all the time in the world. So when a few cold ones have started telling stories, claiming that they have found their one true mate, someone they’d willingly spend all their days with, someone with an invisible pull, an inexplicable sense of home–he didn’t exactly believe them.

Love is just so…human. It is fragile and unpredictable and fleeting.

Percy has about an eternity left to go. He didn’t need fleeting in his life.

He’s 449 when he meets her.

Annabeth.

She was extraordinary as a human, and very different. She partakes in tasks only meant for men, but she lets her hair grow long, ‘till the curls hang loose, hovering just an inch above her waist. She dresses just like the others, although her family is a bit wealthier than the usual commoners. She helps build housings and huts, teaches the kids arithmetic and how to hunt. She never parts with her dagger.

She was just nineteen, too, when even her dagger couldn’t save her.

Annabeth had decided to run away from home, she would tell him later (much later, when trust is a word they’re both familiar with and kisses are lingering and soft, even with their marble stone bodies.) A soldier had visited their town along with his colleagues, looking for a place to rest before they continue their journey home about five towns over. He had been charming, all gleaming teeth and cold blue eyes, and he was great with swords, taught her tricks she never thought she’d be able to do.

Annabeth thought she was in love. It wasn’t much later after meeting Percy that she’d find out what she felt was very far from it.

Still, she was naïve and hopeful, so when the soldier (Lukas, Percy recalls the name) asks her to run away with him, she says yes.

All his soldier friends were waiting in the woods when they got to the clearing. She knew instantly that she wasn’t going anywhere.

They didn’t get to touch her. No, Annabeth was smarter than them. She took her dagger out and slashed blindly at Lukas, getting him right in the face, and while the others were distracted by his pained screams, she ran.

She didn’t get far, of course, and they cornered her against the rock she uses as a writing board to teach the kids arithmetic. There were still markings of numbers in chalk when she pressed her back against the rough surface. She knew she didn’t have a choice, so Annabeth slashes again. This time her blade cuts right across her throat, and through the gushing of blood, she manages a laugh.

The first time Percy sees her, she’s lying blood soaked on the dirt, eyes closed so peacefully one could mistake her for sleeping, if not for the red staining her skin and clothes. He and his cousin Jason were sent in the area to investigate a creation of an immortal child a few towns over, and really they were just passing through. He’s heard of a crystal clear lake in those very woods from a few locals and convinced Jason to check it out, if only so he could play with his powers a little bit. They haven’t even stepped foot in the woods before they caught the scent of too much blood.

Jason had detected heartbeat while Percy stood frozen at the sight, lips bitten in thought. There’s thrumming in his chest that he’s unfamiliar with, and he doesn’t know what came over him, but the next minute Jason is letting out a wry comment about lunch and Percy is hissing and cradling Annabeth to his chest.

“Oh,” his cousin raises a brow at him knowingly. “Well, get on with it then, Perseus. Her heart’s getting faint. It won’t be long now.”

He doesn’t think twice before he’s biting at her open neck.

-

Seattle, 2020

 

Seattle isn’t really Percy’s favorite place. Not that he has anything against it, but just because it’s so dull compared to the cities he’s visited in the past, so the three-hour drive is hardly worth it. Grover and Rachel made things better, though, brighter, with the former’s innocent remarks and the latter’s red hair. Only Rachel knows about him, but things are nice, for the first time in what seems like years (65, his traitorous brain reminds him). He lets himself soak in the normalness of the situation, three friends linked by arms, wandering the city streets and laughing like they have no care in the world. For a few moments Percy forgets just who and what he is, the years that long have weighed down his shoulders suddenly feeling light. But it was only for a few hopeful seconds, and then reality comes crashing back down.

Percy smells him just as they step inside the venue–Chris. Rachel, despite knowing about their kind, was clueless, stepping into the vampire’s arms for a brief hug and introducing him to her friends as her substitute Art History professor. Of course, how would she have known that the man she’s rubbing shoulders with had been with Percy and the Olympians, once upon a time, staying in their castle in Italy and even befriending and working for them?

Chris’ eyes glitter as they meet Percy’s, black to gold (he must be wearing contacts to hide the redness). “It’s nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Grover is the one to reply, shaking his hand eagerly. “I don’t know much about art but I do know Rachel here is very talented.”

“Oh yes,” Chris agrees, giving them a grin. His pearly teeth glint against the fluorescent lights, and Percy fights back the hiss that is building up from his chest. “The very best.”

Rachel offers to show them her work displayed at the back, and Percy tells her and Grover to go ahead. (“I just need to check on something.”)

Once they’re alone, he doesn’t hesitate to grab Chris by the lapels of his suit and drag him outside, slamming his body against the alley wall. “What the fuck are you doing here? You spying on me?”

“Please,” Chris rolls his eyes. “As if the Olympians need to spy on you. They know exactly where you are, Percy, they just find it fun to watch you run around like some saint, thinking you can fool them.”

Percy narrows his eyes. “I know I can’t fool nor outrun them. That’s not the point. What are you doing here?”

“Well, you know your uncle Zeus,” the other vampire answers with a sigh, as if he is growing tired of the conversation. “He wanted to get this tiara for his wife. It’s inside being displayed in the artifacts section.”

“So he, what? Hired you to steal it?” Percy questions, straining his neck to look back at the party. He catches a glimpse of Rachel and Grover laughing about what looked like a modern art piece and talking animatedly and feels himself relax. At least they’re safe. “That’s quite romantic, coming from Zeus and especially for Hera.”

Chris chuckles. “They’ve been separated the last fifty years so maybe this is just your uncle trying to get her back. It’s really not good for mates to be apart for long, you know.”

Percy tenses up, releasing the vampire from his grip harshly and taking three steps back. His throat feels tight, suddenly, similar to the way it feels when he’s around human blood, but there’s no human close enough in sight.

“Just go ahead and ask,” Chris rolls his eyes, leaning comfortably against the wall and even going as far as starting to tap his foot in successive beats. “You know you want to.”

He glares at him, feeling his resolve start to crumble. “Just don’t cause a scene, alright? At least until my friends and I are gone.”

“Is that a threat?”

“It’s whatever you like it to be,” Percy corrects, walking away, but not before throwing over his shoulder, “Your choice.”

“She hasn’t asked about you, you know,” Chris calls out, causing Percy to stop in his tracks. He doesn’t dare turn around, but his fists clench at his side instinctively anyway. “Not in almost seventy years.”

He doesn’t answer, doesn’t move a single muscle except for releasing a shaky breath and closing his eyes shut. Percy knows he should walk away, he knows that. This is clearly bait– a way to rile him up, though he doesn’t know why Chris of all people would want to anger him. Percy remembers he used to be cool, once upon a time.

“You knew that, though, of course,” Chris continues with a chuckle. “Because the first few years that you left, you were still seeing her, right? That one time in Athens, in Rhode Island, oh and you can’t forget that one Rome trip–you were brave for that.”

“Stop,” he hisses under his breath, eyes still closed but his other senses were on overdrive. He could hear every conversation inside the building, every tick of every wristwatch, the pitter-patter of fragile human hearts, the rush in their bloodstreams. This isn’t good.

“Did you know that after Rome, she tried to leave Olympus?”

Percy jolts as if he’s been shocked, and the next second he’s pinning Chris against the wall again, one hand around his neck in a chokehold and another pulling at his hair, eyes wild and frantic. It would only take the slightest pressure to kill him. “What did you say?”

“Something must have happened there,” Chris laughs, but Percy sees the twitch in his fingers at their compromising position. He’s afraid. Good. “She didn’t succeed, of course. Jason caught her. But she paid for her treason, don’t worry.”

Percy tightens his grip. “What did they do to her?”

“Don’t worry,” Chris repeats. “They wouldn’t kill your mate, not if they still have hope that you’d return.”

Percy knows he’s still riling him up, knows inside his gut that he’s not the only reason Annabeth is still alive. She’s the Olympians’ best strategist. What she lacks in gifts, she makes up for with wisdom, and plenty of it. She’s won them all their wars ever since they recruited her. But hearing the words from another vampire’s mouth, about her being punished and only being alive because of him, even without knowing whether it’s the truth…It’s enough to make him want to murder an entire town–of vampires, that is, or Olympians, because he’s spent almost a hundred years clean off killing humans and he didn’t want to taint his record, thank you very much.

“Percy!” The sound of Rachel’s concerned voice snaps him out of his grip. Chris immediately takes a few steps backwards.

“Rach, go back inside,” he tells her in a stern voice, still keeping an eye on Chris who looked way too lax for his liking.

Rachel only moves closer to him slowly, ever stubborn, and seemingly unfazed by the sight of Percy choking her professor. “Are you okay? Grover’s not feeling too well after having a bite of that crab cake they’re giving out so we’re thinking of heading out.”

“Rachel,” Percy grits out, but the redhead stubbornly meets his gaze. Damn it.

Chris watches them in fascination. “You know, I don’t think Annabeth would be too happy to find out you’re fooling around with a human.”

Percy opens his mouth for a sarcastic retort, but suddenly there is a blur of black and a familiar shade of yellow that makes his stomach drop, and Annabeth is there, velvet case in hand, head cocked to the side, looking at him like it hasn’t been nearly seventy years.

“No, I wont.” She says, tossing the case to Chris without breaking eye contact with Percy. The sound of her voice makes his chest tremble. “You were taking too long so I took matters in my own hands. Hope you don’t mind.”

He can’t look at her, not without feeling like rushing to her and taking her far far away until it’s just them, but Percy feels like he’s breathing again, and that has always been the way they work, hasn’t it? Making each other breathe, making each other human, even in death.

-

Greece, 1923

 

It’s been barely a year since Percy left when they meet up in Greece.

He hired a human to send the message, promising him of money and a ship as payment. He knew that the man wasn’t getting out of Italy, of course. With his luck he’d be Jason’s lunch. He’d always been more sympathetic than most. God forbid he becomes Zeus’, though, or Hades’. Or even his dad’s. They were always the harshest.

Percy’s lying on the hot sand, waves bouncing in between his spread fingers just for fun, when he feels the weight of a cold body pressing down against his.

He doesn’t need to open his eyes to know who it is.

“Took you long enough,” he says, a smile tugging his lips upward.

“It’s hard to get a day off in Olympus, you know,” Annabeth quips before she’s pressing her lips to his own, languidly, and then deeply, tugging until her taste is branded on his mouth again. Not that it would ever go away, even if he wanted to. “Missed you.”

Percy finally opens his eyes, meeting hers red to blood red, and lets himself take in the sight of her; long curly hair, pale smooth glittering skin against the sun, plush red lips. He moves his hands to squeeze her hips. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” she sighs into his mouth, pecking him one more time before getting up. “Come on. I would like to swim.”

Percy gets up right after. “I know a thing or two about swimming.”

Annabeth snorts but continues walking towards the water. She starts taking off her dress piece by piece, tugging at the ribbons expertly fast. Percy walks a little faster at the sight.

The island he chooses in Greece is quiet and isolated, so they spend the whole day naked in the ocean, floating around idly, and then the next three months they spend making love and talking, to make up for the past year.

When Annabeth inevitably has to leave before Zeus sends someone after her, Percy makes love to her slowly, tenderly, roughly, so she’d feel him in her bones for the years to come. He grips her with his whole body and kisses her like it’s the last, because the thought of letting go, of going another year without her…well, let’s just say that there are times he wishes he wasn’t immortal.

So Annabeth leaves, goes back to Italy while Percy goes off to god knows where. They don’t see each other again until ten years later, when Percy’s eyes had become yellow and Annabeth’s has stayed blood red.

-

Washington, 2020

 

“So…” Rachel trails off, biting her lip. Percy’s parked right outside her apartment building, having dropped off Grover first. “That’s Annabeth?”

He bites back a groan. “I don’t really wanna talk about it.”

“I mean, you kind of have to,” Rachel says back, raising her brows at him. “Considering I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be her next meal in the next three days at most.

“If Annabeth wanted to kill you she would have done that already, trust me,” Percy tells her with a tired chuckle, leaning his head against the steering wheel.

Rachel snorts. “Well that’s comforting.”

“Listen,” Percy starts. “If you really feel unsafe, you can stay with me for a while. My family won’t mind.”

She raises an eyebrow at him as if to say, ‘really?’

“Okay, so Clarisse might mind, but she’s Clarisse,” Percy backtracks, making them both laugh. “Just say the word.”

“I’ll be okay, Perce. I have you on speed dial so don’t worry too much. Besides, you don’t really strike me as the type to fall for someone who would hurt your friends.” Rachel reassures him with a smile, removing her seatbelt. “I’ll see you, okay? Text me when you get home.”

Percy waves, watching her disappear behind the entrance doors of the apartment complex without a look back.

Sometimes, if he’s being honest with himself, he lets Piper’s words get into his head. It wouldn’t exactly be easy, falling in love with a human, but anything is easier than what he has now with Annabeth. Maybe Rachel or some other kind, normal human will let him turn them, so they would have eternity, too. Maybe they could form a family of their own–a new coven of vampires that are good and that don’t prey on innocents. Maybe in time, if he stayed away long enough, his dead heart would be able to forget about the girl that laid bloodied on the dirt, a few heartbeats away from fading, the one who made him start to feel again. But just the thought of spending his forever tucked beside someone who doesn’t have the exact right shade of blonde, someone who doesn’t smell of lemons, lavender and cedar wood, someone who could win wars with just a sentence and a sharp smile, who cuts him off with a searing kiss when he says something particularly stupid or sarcastic, who’s touch feels like liquid gold and embrace feels like coming home, someone who’s not Annabeth–it makes him want to throw up, even if it is physically impossible.

Having a mate kind of sucks.

Percy stays seated in his car unmoving for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long before he hears a loud thud and a rush of wind. He knows without turning his head that Annabeth is sitting in the passenger seat.

“Hey, stranger,” She breezes, but there’s underlying tension in her tone and the set of her shoulders. Be with someone for eight hundred some years and you just might know everything about them. “Long time.”

Percy still doesn’t look at her when he answers. “Zeus sent you?”

A small noise gets out from her throat, something stuck between a hum and a growl. “You’re an asshole.”

“What are you doing here? Since when does Zeus send you for shopping? No, you’re more useful than that.”

By his side, he didn’t say, but the words hang in the air unspoken. Zeus has always been impulsive, and this trait of his has cost them a lot in the early years of the Olympians. A lot of vampire covens, especially those with unique gifts like them, had tried to usurp the Olympians over the years. Few have come close, but those who did almost succeeded. It wasn’t until Percy and Jason brought Annabeth with them that the Olympians finally managed to claim their positions as the ruling coven steadily, and any who tried to go against them hadn’t managed to go past thinking of doing so before they’re eradicated or punished ever since.

“I do keep tabs on you, you know,” Annabeth admits with a frown. “Same way you do to me.”

Percy doesn’t bother correcting her. It’s the truth. Of course, keeping tabs on her is a lot easier, considering she just stays in Italy most of the time.

“Are you really not going to look at me?” She asks with a huff. Percy stays silent, determinedly watching the streetlight from across them flicker on and off. “So, Rachel’s kind of cute, in an artsy-college-girl sort of way.”

This time Percy does look, if only so he could glare at her, but he’s met with a triumphant grin. “Seriously?”

“Got you to look, didn’t I?” She grins, and it’s blinding and suffocating and gorgeous at the same time.

The first thing he notices when he looks at her–really looks at her–is her hair. It falls just above her shoulders now, with the curls tighter yet more all over the place. Her style has changed, of course, given that the last time he saw her was sixty something years ago. She’s wearing a white t-shirt with a black blazer over. It suits her. It’s a given that Annabeth would never look less than perfect in his eyes, but the sentiments are the same. Her eyes are a darker red that night, meaning she hasn’t hunted, but other than that she remains completely, superficially the same. Still, Percy drinks in her sight like a starved man, knowing that it just may be another sixty or a hundred years before he sees her again after tonight.

“She’s harmless,” Percy finally speaks. “Don’t you hurt her.”

Annabeth smiles sharply. “So, are the rumors true, then? Have you fallen in love with a human?”

It’s then that Percy notices a glint of tamed red against her chest, standing out against pale, milky skin, and there hanging on a thin silver chain sits a coral taking shape of an almost-heart–the one he sent her just three years ago, before he moved to Washington, through a younger vampire he met who’s headed to Europe.

He said he hasn’t seen nor talked to her in 65 years, doesn’t mean he lost all contact.

Percy starts the engine of his car to take his mind off the fact that his throat is tightening and his fingers are itching to reach out and touch, carefully pulling out of the parking space and into the late night traffic. “You know that’s not true.”

“Do I?” Annabeth tilts her head to the side. He can’t exactly see her eyes since he’s driving, but he knows they’ve grown as cold as her tone. “Can’t exactly blame you. Sixty years is a long time.”

He steps on the breaks abruptly, causing the two of them to grunt at the impact. “What do you want me to do, Annabeth? What do you want from me?”

This time she doesn’t care to mask the rage in her gaze as she tells him, “I wanted you to fight for us. I wanted you to stay, or to take me with you. I wanted you to keep your promise of eternity with me, by my side, not just through knick knacks you send from time to time to assure me you’re alive.”

“Annabeth–“

“We’re supposed to be mates,” she grounds out the word like it disgusted her. She’s never said it that way before. “Or have you forgotten, in your search for righteousness and normalcy and whatever the hell it is you’re looking for?”

Percy sighs, defeated. He knows it’s his fault. Over the years after he left Olympus, Annabeth has never failed to meet up with him whenever he asks. It wasn’t until the last time that they stopped. She’s always understood why he had to leave, has always told him that she loved him and supported him no matter what he did. This is just the first time she outright called him out for abandoning her.

“Please,” he says softly, closing his eyes. If he opens them he’d see the hatred in her own, the hurt, and he’s not sure he’s strong enough to take it. “Are we really going to get into this?”

She’s silent for a few grueling seconds, letting his words cook in the heated space between their icy bodies before she tells him simply, “I liked your eyes better red.”

-

Volterra, 1525

 

“This…thing,” Annabeth says to him one night in their chambers, sitting in front the vanity while brushing her hair carefully to untangle the mess that the afternoon of battle strategy meetings left. “Between us–it’s not normal, is it?”

Percy gets up from where he’s sitting on the foot of their bed, halting in his ministrations. He’s dirty with mud and dried blood, fingernails dark and chipped, hair falling from where he’s tied it with a leather cord. His white shirt is untied and open, exposing his marble chest, and he takes a second to look at Annabeth’s picture perfection, contrasting his scum. “What thing?”

“The you loving me before even knowing me thing,” she replies, smiling at him through the reflection in the mirror briefly before it dropped and her ivory teeth sticks out to bite at her lower lip, pearl to red. “And me loving you back with no question.”

Sometimes Percy forgets that even at 256 years old, Annabeth is still quite young for a vampire. He’s met ones older than her that have never met their mates, or even encountered the word. Maybe he’ll make an example out of them someday, once they win this war against the Volturi and secured their rightful place as the ruling coven. He’d make sure every cold one knew that love is possible, even in death, and that they were meant to live forever for a reason. “Mates, you mean.”

She nods with a small frown. Percy takes slow, careful steps towards her, until he’s close enough that Annabeth can lean her head against his stomach and look up at him.

“Just because something is unique doesn’t mean it’s not normal,” Percy tells her in a low voice, arms wrapping carefully around her chest to pull her flush against him, because close will never be close enough. “I’ve existed so long not knowing that this could be possible, that I could find meaning beyond the next hunt or the next coven to slaughter. And when I met you…”

His voice falters, and Annabeth stands up from her seat to hug him close, pushing her face against the crook of his neck and breathing in his scent, dirt and all.

“When I met you, I felt like I could live again. I found out that there is something more important than hunting or ruling or whatever: love. And if that’s not the most normal, humane thing, then I don’t know what is.”

She laughs brokenly against his skin, pressing kisses wherever she could reach before she finally got to his lips, slotting their mouths together perfectly, like the mold was made in time with the creation of the universe and it’s been waiting a billion years for them to fill it.

“I love you,” Annabeth whispers in the dark of the night, but her words echo like gunfire. “I don’t need to understand why or how this happened, why mates exist or why we feel what we feel. I just know that I love you.”

Percy kisses her more deeply after that, and after the war, no one utters a word when Annabeth shows up at a council meeting with a shiny rock on her finger.

-

Washington, 2020

 

“I’m thirsy,” Annabeth tells him, leaning so far away that her side is flushed against the car door. He wants to tease her, taunt her like old times, a simple I don’t bite, but stops himself. They both know he does. “Pull over.”

Percy shakes his head and steps on the gas. “You can’t hunt here. We have a treaty with a werewolf pack back in Forks. That’s the only reason this place hasn’t been a bloodbath yet.”

“If it’s still not obvious to your seaweed brain, I’m not part of your little coven,” Annabeth quips with a mocking grin. “So the treaty is moot to me.”

“You think the pack cares?” Percy questions sarcastically, risking a glance at her. “You’re my mate. As far as they’re concerned, you’re part of my coven by association.”

Annabeth glowers at him. “Pull over, Percy.”

He hums thoughtfully. “No.”

“Pull over, or I’ll make you. And trust me, you’ll regret it.” She warns, staring bullet holes on the side of his face. “You know, that little redhead’s scent is all over this seat. It’ll be so easy to jump out of this car and run back to her place. I bet she’s tasty.”

Percy slams on the breaks, for what seemed like the hundredth time that night. “Not funny.”

“No?” Annabeth asks with a raised brow and the beginnings of a teasing grin. It’s all too familiar, making a flash of pain shoot right through his chest. “Or maybe your other friend will do. What’s his name? Oh, right, Grover. I heard he was feeling ill, though, so I doubt he’d be more delicious.”

“Fine,” Percy gives in with a groan, pulling over to the side of the road. At this time of night, the road to Forks from Seattle is almost deserted, with only the tall trees of the woods lining both sides as their company. “But if you’re going to hunt here, you’re doing it our way.”

Annabeth scoffs. “You’re dreaming if you think you can make me drink whatever the hell it is you’re drinking.”

“Animals, Annabeth,” Percy supplies like he’s lecturing a child, something that didn’t go appreciated by the blonde, making her glare at him some more. “We feed on animals. I don’t know if you have those in Olympus, but in this little patch of America, there’s plenty of them.”

Annabeth suddenly starts smiling, a glint in her eye that goes straight to his groin, the same look she gets whenever they rile each other up in the past, bickering to their limits, which is completely unfair, in Percy’s unbiased opinion. “You’re really pushing it tonight, aren’t you?”

Percy decides that shutting up might be the best course of action, lest he does something astronomically stupid like, say, grab her by the neck and kiss her. She’d let him, he knows, might even allow him to take her right there, for everyone passing by to see. Suddenly his pants feel way too tight, and Percy has to clear his throat, opening his door and stepping out the car. “Come on.”

Judging by Annabeth’s wicked grin, his predicament hasn’t entirely been unnoticed.

“I’m not eating a squirrel for dinner,” Annabeth protests adamantly as she too exits the vehicle, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

Percy openly laughs. Gods, he missed her. “You’re not. Perhaps a mountain lion or oh! Leo’s particularly fond of deer. It’s an acquired taste, in my opinion, but you never know. You might like it.”

“Blergh,” She fake gags, sticking her tongue out. “You’re not really going to make your wife eat anything less nutritious, are you? I haven’t hunted since two weeks ago, you know. We’ve been quite busy at home.”

Percy tries not to flinch at that word–wife. It’s been so long since they referred to each other as husband and wife. Normally they just say mates, and everyone would have understood. They did make the term popular, after all, much to Zeus and Poseidon’s original chagrin, thinking that displaying affection would somehow taint their image. He and Annabeth had proved them wrong, in the end, despite the divide they have now.

“Home, huh?” Percy says, scuffing the heel of his shoe against the asphalt. That used to be me, he didn’t say. “What’s keeping the big three busy these days, then?”

Annabeth hums, tucks a strand of hair behind her ears. “Well, Hades is playing house with his wife as per usual. You know him. Poseidon’s found himself a woman, as well. They’ve been together for almost forty years, which is quite a record. Zeus, though, is all about the law.”

“Of course,” he agrees, choosing to ignore the bit about his father and settling to stand a few inches away from her. With their distance, he could almost imagine how she would feel flushed against him again. It would be so easy, too, to close the gap and wrap his arms around her, or grab her hand and never let go. Times like this he wishes they were human again, so he could do these things under the guise of being cold and merely searching for warmth. He wonders if he tries that trick now if she would let him get away with it.

“We’ve been tracking a case in Alaska–the Denali Clan, do you remember them?” Percy hums in the affirmative–they were Chiron’s acquaintances, if he remembers correctly, being vegetarians themselves–before gesturing at Annabeth to continue. “Well, one of the sisters, Irina, lost her mate to a group of human hunters.”

Percy frowns. “There are human hunters? I thought they weren’t supposed to know of our existence?”

“The same way your friend Rachel doesn’t know about us?” Annabeth bites back.

Percy holds up his hands as if to say, fair enough.

“They’re descendants of werewolves; pack members without the gene and couldn’t’ shift, so technically, it’s allowed. Anyways, Irina lost control, slaughtered more than half of the human members of the pack in one night while the wolves were away.”

“Damn,” he shakes his head, trying to get rid of the image of innocent people slain in their very beds and their families going home to see the rampage out of his head. “I remember her. She’s always been a bitch.”

Annabeth lets out a small chuckle. “Well, the pack’s been threatening to start a vampire-werewolf war, so Zeus is concerned, and rightfully so. They’ve been contacting packs from all over the world to join their cause. I’m surprised your coven hasn’t heard of it, living so close to one of them.”

“So what’s the plan?”

She narrows her eyes at him, but drops her suspicions anyway. “Not that it’s any of your business, but we’re planning to eradicate the problem. No Denali Clan, no war. Maybe we’ll let the wolves have a go at them as a peace offering of sorts.”

Percy feels sick to his stomach, something that shouldn’t even be physically possible for him to feel. He’s met the Denali Clan, and although they’re acquaintances at most, they’re Chiron’s friends. They don’t hurt people. They try to live as peacefully as possible. How is it fair, to condemn a whole family for the sins of one?

Then again, as Percy looks at Annabeth, the way she’s glancing around the area thoughtlessly, the part of her lips, the curve of her brow bone, something in the pit of his stomach can admit that he gets it. If it had been Annabeth who was killed…he can’t trust himself enough to say he wouldn’t have done the same.

Annabeth quirks a brow at his silence. “I thought you’d have said something righteous by now.”

“I get it,” Percy allows himself to look at her in the eye. “If it had been you–“

“Don’t say that–“ Annabeth shakes her head.

“I’m just saying,” Percy continues, not breaking eye contact with her. “I get it.”

She’s silent for a few seconds before she sighs, bumping a shoulder against his. The contact alone makes him feel electrocuted, his spine stiffening and his breath hitching. “I do, too.”

Percy stares at her, mouth dry. “Listen, Annabeth–“

The sound of a car approaching snaps them both out of their reveries, Annabeth immediately stepping from the car and into the middle of the street.

“Don’t do this,” Percy pleads, eyebrows scrunched in concern. The sinking feeling worsens when Annabeth lifts a hand up, a gesture for the car to stop.

“Don’t worry,” Annabeth promises without a look back. “I won’t kill him. I’ll just have enough to tide me over.”

Percy has to look away the second the man behind the wheel steps out of the car, has to clench his jaw and shut his eyes when he hears the familiar scream of terror piercing the quiet night, and the soft grunts that fall from Annabeth’s lips as she drinks.

“You’re going to turn around and drive back,” she whispers against the stranger’s ear softly, almost seductively, but Percy hears every word. In films and books vampires have always been depicted as having the ability to compel people, make them do whatever they want. While it’s not exactly true, they do have a strong enough allure to get weak-minded people to do certain things, or to believe that something besides the truth had happened. Annabeth, being a master at wits, has also mastered this particular skill. “And then you’ll notice that your breaks aren’t working, so you’re going to crash into a tree right before the exit turn, just enough to draw a little blood. Understood?”

The unassuming man, still hazy from being almost drained of blood, mutters an agreement of sorts, making Annabeth smile and pat his shoulder. “Go on, then.”

Percy waits for the car to disappear from his sight completely before turning around to face Annabeth, a disapproving look on his face.

“Your eyes look darker,” she comments dryly before he could say anything, walking closer to him. Percy tries not to look at the blood running down from the corner of her mouth to her chin and neck. “Thirsty?”

He breathes through his nose sharply, croaking out, “I already ate yesterday.”

“Interesting,” Annabeth supplies, stopping just short of five inches away from him. One more step and their chests would touch. “Too bad, then. He was quite tasty.”

Percy hums, the sound vibrating at the back of his throat, and he knows he’s in trouble when his tongue darts out to wet his lips, and when his eyes follow the movement as Annabeth does the same, spreading the smeared blood further. “Not really my type.”

“No,” Annabeth agrees breathlessly, and suddenly she has him against the hood of his car with a loud thud, body pressing into his inch by painful inch, writhing with the sensation of being so close to each other again after sixty-five agonizing years. “No, he’s not.”

When she pulls him in for a searing, long awaited kiss, Percy’s guilty to admit that he didn’t even hesitate or think to stop her, no. He hisses against her mouth instead, grips at her thighs, and pulls her blazer off. He’s not exactly proud of what happens after.

-

Rome, 1955

 

He’s lying in bed in a hotel in Rome, thin white sheets barely covering his hips and crotch. Annabeth’s fully nude at the chaise by the open windows, a thick sketchbook in her lap, fingers muddied with charcoal, her muscled back to him. In the eight am morning light, he could see everything; every curve of her body, every fold, every dip and faded scar from when she was human. It’s the first time in two and a half weeks that they even bothered stopping. Usually they would take a few minutes in between days to feed, but this time there’s franticness in their meeting, a lingering pull stronger than ever before, a hovering deadline. If Annabeth hadn’t almost attacked the housekeeper tending to the room next to theirs, he wouldn’t have suggested for a time out.

“What’re you sketching?” Percy rasps, lifting his head and resting it on one hand.

Annabeth moves her head to the side to acknowledge him, but her hands continue to move over the yellowed paper. “Rome. This is the longest I’ve been.”

“I doubt you saw much of it either this time,” he states, still content in watching her work. Her hair almost reaches the dimples in her bottom back, similar to the length it’s been when they had first met.

She hums in agreement, folding her sketchbook close and moving towards him until she’s straddling his hips. There’s nothing remotely sexual about it, which makes it a thousand times more intimate: just two bodies slotting into place. “I just wanna commit it to memory.”

“We’ll be back,” he promises, catching one of her hands and pressing a tender kiss to the palm. He feels the metals of her wedding and engagement rings, only slightly less cold than their own temperatures. It’s reassuring, in a way, to have that semblance of warmth connecting the two of them.

Annabeth takes her hand from his and traces his thick eyebrows with it, her tongue popping out in concentration as she soothed his face in a gentle massage. “Do you remember our wedding?”

“Of course,” he can’t help but smile at the memory. They went away, just the two of them, to the quaint cottage Percy had gotten them in a province in France. No one knew where they went. Annabeth had kissed him in the morning and left with a promise of breakfast, only to return with a priest she convinced to wed them. They said their vows in the middle of the growing garden behind the house beside the small pond Annabeth made sure was made just for him. They didn’t return to Italy for ten whole years; the best of his life. “I remember it down to the minute detail.”

Annabeth cups his face and kisses him, slowly, deeply, the way she usually does when she’s trying to convey something but the words don’t come to her. After a moment she pulls away, just far enough so that she could speak, but with every movement her lips brush against his. “There’s a space in the world that’s quiet and peaceful…”

Percy tries not to gasp, recognizing the words as his own vows to her when they married, her in a modest white summer dress with flowers all over her hair, barefoot against the wet grass.

Annabeth takes a deep, shaky breath before continuing, “And it’s something that I didn’t know existed–something I thought to be out of reach, a place in a parallel universe with a map that shouldn’t ever find its way in my pocket. And I love you,” she kisses him lightly, fingertips shaking against his skin. “I love you because you’ve showed me how to get to that place, that little patch of hope that makes eternity worth it. I don’t know what I did to ever deserve something of this value, but I shall spend this eternity and the next trying to earn it.”

“You’ve memorized it…”

“Come home with me,” she breathes into his mouth, ignoring his words, wrapping her limbs around him like she’s scared he would flee if she so much as wavers in her hold. “Or leave. But take me with you. I can’t go on like this anymore, Percy. Everyday without you, it’s like someone’s trying to take my heart out of my ribs.”

Percy sucks in a breath, eyes glued to the elegant ceiling, struggling to process her words. “You know why I left. You said you understood.”

“I do!” Annabeth protests, taking his jaw to force him to look at her. All Percy could seem to register is the redness of her eyes and how different his must look in comparison. “I do understand. But I thought that you of all people would get me as well. How can you bare to be so far away from me, if you truly mean the words you said that day in our cottage with the mortal law and this so-called God as our witnesses?”

“You know–“ He sits up, making Annabeth follow, still wrapped around him. “Zeus would never allow it. You know that.”

His mind is reeling, trying to think of the right words to say to make them go back to the way they were merely three minutes ago, when the only thing on their minds had been kissing, and there’s no looming sense that he’s going to lose her flickering at his chest and at the bottom of his stomach, so strong it’s like he could taste it.

“I don’t care,” Annabeth grits out, tightening her hold almost painfully. “I’m smarter than him. We’ll be fine. We survived ten years without them finding out where we were, didn’t we?”

“Yes, but that’s ten years. Annabeth, we’re talking about forever, here,” Percy argues, trying to soothe her tensed back by rubbing slow circles over it to no avail.

Annabeth takes a shuddering breath. “Why would you rather leave me than spend forever on the run with me?”

Percy opens his mouth to reply but nothing comes out save for a helpless, “I can’t.”

There’s been a time, not too long ago (give or take a couple hundred years), when Percy needs only to reassure his mate with words, gentle touches and soothing kisses, and Annabeth would drop everything for him. She’d take him into an embrace so warm it should be impossible given their iced skins, whisper ‘it’s okays’ and ‘I understands’ in his ear and kiss him ‘till the problem is forgotten.

This time, though, Annabeth’s out of his arms before his words can completely come out of his mouth, dressed and packed in seconds, standing by the door of their hotel room in record time while he gapes at the loss of contact.

“Annabeth, please,” he begs, but he doesn’t know what he’s begging for. Please don’t leave me? Please get back to bed? Please never let me go? Please don’t give up on me? I can’t tell you my reasons but please love me anyway?

Annabeth is trembling, suitcase rattling in her cold grip, but her voice is steady and dead as she tells him, “You don’t want me.”

I’ve never wanted before I met you, he wants to say to her. I love you to the deepest corner of my body, down to the marrow, and deeper still until it reaches the place where the man and monster meet.

None of these words come out of his mouth, though, because in the blink of an eye, Annabeth’s gone–his wife, his mate, his reason for being–leaving only the swaying hotel room door and her discarded sketchbook in her wake.

Slowly, much slowly, as if weighed down by the universe, Percy gets himself to stand up in order to retrieve the leather bound book still resting on the velvet chaise by the window. He opens it to the latest page, and he is certain if he’d been physically able to shed tears, he would be weeping. The noise that comes out of him sure as hell sounds like it, because Annabeth–

Annabeth lied.

She hadn’t been sketching the pretty streets of Rome, not at all. Instead, drawn roughly in charcoal and in some places smudged by her fingerprints, their little French cottage with the garden and the pond is immortalized, along with a hasty signature and a word at the bottom to complete the masterpiece: forever.

-

Washington, 2020

 

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Percy wonders whether he should start whistling. It would be a terrible idea, certainly, but it would probably make Annabeth glare at him or punch him, so he’d take it. It’s better than her ignoring him and avoiding his eyes as they both wriggle back into their discarded clothes. Then again, it’s not entirely her fault, given that he hasn’t said anything himself.

Gods, when did they become so awkward?

The drive back to Forks is silent–no bickering or taunting each other this time. It’s crazy how just an hour ago, Annabeth’s talking away, trying to get him to talk or even just look at her, and now it’s like they don’t know how to move around each other, which is ridiculous by the way. Mates don’t have to hover or test the waters.

“Where are we going?” The sound of Annabeth’s voice startles Percy into stepping on the gas, making the car speed up a little. She still isn’t looking at him, but there’s a frown in her face as she takes in the surroundings just as they pass the ‘Welcome to Forks, Washington’ sign.

“Home,” he says, and then backtracks when he realizes the implication. “My home, I mean. For the mean time.”

Annabeth reaches up to scratch the back of her neck. She still hasn’t worn back her blazer, so the v of her shirt leaves plenty of skin for his staring. Not that he’s staring, of course, no, not at all. “You can just drop me off somewhere here. I need to go.”

“What?”

Annabeth finally looks at him, but her face is made up and determined and Percy knows he’s looking at her mask. “I need to go. This was only supposed to be a detour, anyway. My job is in Alaska, and then I’m back to Italy.”

He tries not to let her words sting, but there’s a lump in his throat, anyway. “So you’re leaving?”

“Yes?” She sounds confused at his tone. He can’t blame her. He’s pretty confused too. Logically, Percy knows that he’s the one who made things difficult between them. She had even tried to runaway with him, but he didn’t let her. Maybe he had just gotten used to their meet ups being months long instead of a few minutes outside his car for anyone to see, too much that he feels disoriented. “There’s still the issue of the Denali Clan and the werewolves, remember?”

Percy still didn’t slow down the car. “Just go tomorrow. It’s late.”

“Are you kidding me?” Annabeth laughs disbelievingly. “I’m an Olympian vampire. I think I’ll be fine.”

“How are you even going to get to Alaska? By running?” Percy questions sarcastically, fingers tapping on the steering wheel. He’s feeling antsy all of a sudden, like if he lets Annabeth leave now, without even having the chance to properly talk to her, without the assurance that they’re okay, he’ll never see her again. He doesn’t know how he lasted sixty years without even a glimpse of her, but suddenly the thought of going through something like that again seems unbearable. “Just go tomorrow, you can take my car.”

“What are you on about?” Annabeth asks, and this time she sounds genuinely out of sorts and not at all hostile like she’s been all night. “Just drop me off here. I’m serious.”

Percy shakes his head. They’ve always been stubborn, the two of them. It’s what made their fights so much fun and interesting back in the day. “We’re almost there. If you still want to leave, fine, but I’m sure you can find your way to Alaska from my house.”

Annabeth doesn’t answer, just huffs in resignation, and they continue their ride for seven more minutes before his house comes into view. It’s hard to miss, surrounded by the forest trees and lit up like it’s Christmas. Piper tends to go overboard decorating. Annabeth takes in the sight of the exposed cement finish and the tall glass windows with a raised brow. “Wow.”

“I feel like that’s a judgmental wow,” Percy mutters, pulling up his driveway and parking the car smoothly. “You’re good at judgmental wows.”

“It’s not,” Annabeth lies–and he knows this because she blinks too much when she does and she did just that. “It’s just very…modern. Doesn’t exactly scream Percy Jackson to me.”

He steps out of the car after pulling the ignition, hearing Annabeth do the same. “It’s hasn’t exactly been my choice.”

“Right,” she nods, eyes still tracing the façade of the house with her Architect eyes. “Coven. I almost forgot.”

“Yep,” he agrees. Judging by all the lights turned on inside, he’s guessing the others are back from hunting, or Clarisse and Beckendorf came back early from their little getaway. God forbid any of them ever sees Annabeth. They’d go ballistic. Leo would probably start slinging fireballs, Piper would probably control Annabeth’s emotions and make her cry, and Clarisse would definitely start throwing axes. Chiron would be the only calm one; as the father figure, he’s always been the most levelheaded, though maybe Beckendorf would also let Percy speak first before going on offense. Realizing he’s starting to space out, he clears his throat. “Coven. So…”

He lets the word drag out until Annabeth snaps out of her perusing of his home. “Right. I should go.”

She starts walking away immediately, throwing Percy off and making him scramble for words to get her to look back at him. Was she not even going to say bye? Or give him a hug? Or let him give her a hug, for good luck if anything else? “Annabeth!”

She continues walking, ignoring his call.

“Chris told me something earlier,” he continued, speeding to catch up to her. God, she’s fast. They’re deeper in the woods now, and he almost forgets what he’s supposed to be saying because damn it, they’re getting closer to wolf territory. “Wait! If you’re going on foot, don’t. Take the highway. Just steal a car or something.”

This time Annabeth stops speeding abruptly, causing them to crash into each other. Instinctively, Percy holds out his hands to steady her. His skin burns at the touch. “Did you just encourage me to steal a car?”

“Uhh,” he trails off, suddenly distracted by their closeness.

Annabeth fights back a smile. “Who are you?”

“You don’t want to cross over to werewolf territory. They’ll tear you apart.” He warns instead. Neither of them tries to move away.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” she huffs, crossing her arms in front of her chest and nope, Percy’s still not looking, definitely not.

“There’s an entire pack of them and you’re alone,” he deadpans. “Not exactly rocket science.”

Annabeth clicks her jaw, eyes narrowed, and for a minute Percy’s afraid she’d stubbornly go through with her original route, just to prove him wrong. He wouldn’t put it past her. They’ve both done incredibly stupid things in the past just to prove a point. Like he said, they’re both stubborn. Sometimes it isn’t a nice mix. Thankfully, though, Annabeth’s smarter than that. “Fine. Thanks for the warning.”

Percy’s about to say a smug ‘you’re welcome,’ when Annabeth fires back, “It’s nice to know you care.”

So. Stubborn.

“I do care,” Percy frowns, biting back a groan. “You know I do.”

She only hums, finally stepping back. Percy feels the distance between them right down to his gut. Watching her leave has always been the hardest part. So when she turns around, ready to take off and speed again, Percy grabs a hold of her arm.

“Chris said that you tried to leave,” he rushes out, and he suddenly feels breathless, which is ridiculous because he’s a freaking vampire. “After Rome, I mean. But that you got caught.”

Annabeth turns back to face him, expression closed off. It’s the same look she gets right before battle, and it’s an observation Percy doesn’t know what to do with. “I did.”

“Why?” is the only thing he could think to say, and it feels inconsequential somehow, like the answer is so obvious but his stupid brain cannot possible keep up long enough to find out.

Annabeth gives a smile at that, and this time her mask drops and she looks sad, and Percy’s hand twitches at the need to get her close. “You underestimate how much I loved you, Seaweed Brain.”

He lets out a breath, and it’s louder than gunshot.

-

Volterra, 1542

 

The thing Percy loved the most about their Italy castle, probably even more than the small lake near the stables, are the vast open grounds. Some nights, like tonight, he and Annabeth would lay there in the grass, eyes tracing the stars in the dark blue sky. They would talk about their past, the dreams they had as children, their families. It’s reassuring, to know that they haven’t forgotten, that in their daily quests as immortals they’re still the same fragile humans they once were to their core.

“Do you remember your parents?” Percy asks her, voice muffled against her hair.

The day had been exhausting, even after a whole decade since they’ve defeated the Volturi. Zeus is always paranoid despite declaring himself King, and he isn’t a fan of Percy and Annabeth showing off their affection in public where other vampires could see. Not that he could stop them, of course. More and more cold ones have announced that they’ve found their mates, and it fills him with pride, the thought that vampires can be more, that there is more to them than being eternals and killing and glittering under the sun. He had his proof right there, snuggled in his arms.

“I do,” Annabeth replies quietly. Her fingers started to trace random shapes over his clothed chest, something that Percy’s sure could lull him to sleep if he were human. “And my siblings. They were so young when I died, I doubt they even remembered more than a glimpse of me.”

Percy tightens his hold on her. “Of course they did. You’re the furthest thing from forgettable, Annabeth.”

“It’s okay,” she reassures him with a small smile. “You know that day I went to go back?”

He hums in acknowledgment. He remembered the day well; it was only a few weeks after he turned Annabeth, and while he and Jason were out to run an errand for Hades, Annabeth ran away. He still gets a pang in his chest whenever he remembers coming back without her in the castle. He thought she’d never return, but she did only a few weeks later.

“They tried to look for me, you know,” she sniffed. Percy was glad vampires couldn’t cry; he wouldn’t know how to handle it if she started tearing up. “There were posters everywhere. My father drew my picture. I knew because he could never get my left eye right.”

“Did you talk to them?”

Annabeth shakes her head sadly. “No. By the time I got there, Lukas and his demon for friends had already spread rumors about me. Told the town that I seduced them, lured them into the woods, and then performed witchcraft there.” She lets out a cold laugh. “They said I was going to sacrifice them to the devil for good fortune, but they luckily got away. My family never believed them, but they too were ostracized and had to leave. I wonder where they moved; how old they got to be.”

“I’m so glad you let me join when you killed him,” Percy groans, trying to ease the tension. It worked like magic, the sound of Annabeth’s laughter music to his ears. “He tasted so bland too.”

“Oh?” Annabeth raises an eyebrow at him, a grin pulling at her lips. “Is that why you drowned him instead?”

Percy shrugs. “I hear it’s one of the most painful ways to die. I figured it’s the least he deserves.”

“What about you?” The blonde asks, pushing closer so there’s no inch of space between them. “Your family?”

“Well, you know my father and uncles,” he offers, to which Annabeth nods. “My father left my mother and I when I was a babe, but my mother never said a word against him. She always believed he’d come back.”

“And he did.”

“Yes,” Percy says. “But not as him, as you know. He didn’t really give me a choice, either. I wasn’t dying or ill. If anything I was at my prime. I was supposed to sail to Europe, probably meet a girl there and marry her. Have kids. Make my mother proud. Maybe even give her a nice house. But then one night he looked at me, just looked, and then he pounced. When I woke up I was already dead.”

Annabeth sits up right then, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around it. “Did you ever resent him for it?”

Percy ponders for a few seconds before settling with, “No. Maybe at first. But then I was just glad he didn’t turn my mother, too. She would have hated being a vampire. She’s just too good and pure. This life would have corrupted her.”

“I doubt that,” Annabeth manages a soft smile, reaching out one hand to push his hair away from his face. “It hasn’t corrupted you.”

“Well, I have you, so…” he trails off, giving a quiet sigh when Annabeth leans down to press a quick kiss against his lips. “Anyway, I didn’t leave her right away. I stayed a few years. You can imagine my father’s ire. But then eventually I did have to leave. People were starting to notice that I wasn’t aging. But mother had met a nice man at that point, and had planned to settle down, so I knew she would be okay. My only regret is that I became too reliant on the fates. Zeus and Poseidon had to physically incapacitate me, you know, when we found out of her and her husband’s deaths; at the hands of vampires, no less.”

Annabeth squeezes his hand but says nothing, having already heard the story.

“Rogue newborns, they said,” Percy’s voice had gone deep, a faraway look in his eye. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

“Percy…”

“It’s alright,” he shakes his head, sitting up as well. “She was sixty two. She’s lived her life. I’m glad about that, if nothing else.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes. Despite the grave note the evening had gone into, Percy still feels relaxed, sitting besides his wife and letting her peel his layers to get to know him. He’d never thought there would be someone he could trust as much as he trusted her, not in their line of ‘work’, but there they are.

“Did you ever find out who they were?” Annabeth suddenly asks, eyebrows scrunched together. “The rogue newborns?”

Percy pauses, thinking. “No. Poseidon said he and Hades took care of them shortly after, knowing I wouldn’t be able to do it without losing control.”

“So they killed them?”

“Yes,” he answers, but at the back of his mind, he can admit he’s not as sure.

-

Forks, 2020

 

Percy and Annabeth walk until they reach a clearing. The silence that surrounds them now is more melancholic than tensed, and Percy’s beginning to have whiplash at the range of emotions he’s experienced just this night alone.

Finally, after they’ve sat down a good feet apart in the dirt, Annabeth speaks, eyes trailed on her fumbling hands. “I was barely in Olympus for a day when I started regretting the way I left you in Rome.”

Her voice is quiet, almost whispering, and Percy knows her enough to sit back and just listen. If he speaks now, she might close up again, and then they’ll be back to square one. It’s the last thing he wants to happen.

“And then before I knew it, I was packing my things,” she lets out a small laugh. “Just one duffel bag. I knew I couldn’t bring everything, so I packed lightly. My favorite books. A few change of clothes. Some gifts you gave me. I didn’t know where I could find you but I was prepared to go to the ends of the earth to do so.”

Percy can’t look at her even if he tried. He feels a weight pressing down his chest, so heavy he’s scared he can’t lift it even with his immortal strength. The idea of Annabeth willingly leaving everything behind, even after their misunderstanding in Rome…he shakes his head to clear his thoughts.

“I didn’t get far,” Annabeth continues with a blank look, picking up a stray thin branch and using it to draw random shapes in the dirt. “Jason gets to me just before I could board a boat that would take me to Sicily.”

Percy closes his eyes tightly, a lump forming in his throat. When he speaks his voice comes out in choked. “Did they hurt you?”

“Not too much,” she admits after a few seconds of silence. It’s then that she catches his eyes, and he’s helpless to do anything but look back. “But I handled it.”

“You shouldn’t have to,” Percy shakes his head. He’s disgusted with himself; how did he live so comfortably for the past sixty-five years, knowing he’s abandoned his mate? He should have known Annabeth would go after him, especially after Rome. He should have told her everything from the beginning. She’s his wife; shouldn’t he be able to trust that she would drop everything for him? That she would willingly put herself in danger just to be with him? When that’s exactly what he would do, if the roles were reversed? “I’m so sorry. You don’t understand how…”

She waves him off with a small smile. “I was so angry, you know, that you left me to deal with that. I hated you.”

He flinches at the truth in her words, and he can’t bear to look at her anymore, so he buries his face in his hands.

“Most of all, I just wanted to see you again. Just to hear your voice or catch a millisecond look at your face. They starved me for ten years. I was so sure that all it would take was one push for me to crumble. And the thought of dying without ever having seen you or kissed you again…well, it wasn’t exactly pleasant.”

How could he have made a bigger mistake? He feels the guilt all the way from his head to the tips of his toes. He had left in resentment, and–in some desperate ploy to protect her– he left her with the wolves.

“Annabeth…” he starts to say, but she cuts him off.

“So now you know,” she tells him, throwing the stick she has in her hand far away before turning to look at him. “Maybe it’s time you tell me your secrets, too.”

And he didn’t really have a choice, now, did he? He owed her this much, even if she might hate him even more for it.

“What do you remember?”

Annabeth purses her lips in thought. “You told me that you needed to leave because you couldn’t handle the Olympian lifestyle anymore. You couldn’t stomach killing other people the same way your mother and her husband had been killed. Only it doesn’t make sense that you wouldn’t take me with you. You had to know that I would’ve done anything in order to be with you, even if it means trading my red eyes for gold. It would’ve gone well with my hair, at the very least.”

“Even if it means eating a squirrel for dinner?” Percy cannot help but tease, trying to lighten the mood.

Annabeth laughs, so he considers it a win. “Where is your class? Let me have a deer, at least.”

“Some of that is true,” he sobers up, getting back on track. “I did feel bad about feeding on people because of my mother. But you’re right. It didn’t make sense that I wouldn’t take you. I love you more than anything.”

If Annabeth is surprised or even remotely affected by his words, she didn’t show it, so Percy continues.

“My mother and Paul weren’t killed by rogue newborns,” he confesses, voice deathly quiet. Annabeth looks up at him with a confused frown. “They were killed by the Volturi.”

Annabeth gasps, springing to her feet. “Percy…”

“I found out just two days before I took off,” he tells her, jaw clenched tight. “Zeus, Hades, even my dad, they all knew about it. Aro had warned them. He threatened my mother’s life in exchange for Olympus’ place as the ruling coven. They chose to rule. Didn’t even try to save or warn her.”

Annabeth takes one hand to push her blonde hair from her face, mouth still dropped open. “Oh my god…”

“You have to understand,” Percy croaks out, looking up at Annabeth with vulnerable eyes. “I had to leave. I couldn’t stand to be near them. I would’ve tried to kill them all. I had to–“

“Shh, shh, Perce,” suddenly Annabeth is there, putting her arms around him so familiarly, and he gasps against her stomach, eyes closed shut. Can vampires have panic attacks? “You’re okay. I understand. It’s okay.”

“I wanted to tell you,” he confesses in a harsh whisper, feeling Annabeth tighten her grip around him. “It didn’t even occur to me that I could leave without you. But then I remembered how much my father used to love my mom. And I knew that family or not, if I go against them, they’ll go after us too. You were probably even more valuable than me in their eyes. I got the brute strength because of my powers, but your mind is infinitely more deadly. If you were on my side…we would have been too much of a threat. Zeus wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate us before we had the chance to think about betraying him, or join another coven. He’s too paranoid. Going off the grid for ten years for our wedding was already pushing it. I knew I had no choice. We would have to stay apart.”

Annabeth stayed silent, barely even moving, but Percy feels lighter than he had been for the last hundred years. Even Chiron or anyone in his current coven didn’t know the full story. This is the first time he’s saying them aloud, even to his own ears. It’s a burden he’s glad he doesn’t have to carry alone anymore.

“I thought that we could make it work, sneaking off to meet up every couple of years. It killed me to be away from you, but if it meant you would be safe, it’s a no brainer. If I had known that leaving will put you in more harm than good, I would never have done it.” Percy chances a look up to gauge Annabeth’s reaction, but her face is carefully blank. “Will you say something?”

She releases her hold on him, and instantly he misses the contact, so much that his skin is stinging from loss. “I wish you told me.”

Percy opens his mouth to say something in defense, but Annabeth holds a hand up to stop him, then drops to the space beside him to sit down. “I get it. If I thought I was protecting you, I’d leave too. No matter how much it would hurt. I just wish you told me so I could have come up with another way. A better way.”

He can’t help it; he lets out a snort at her words, which results in a round of quiet chuckles from Annabeth.

“For the record,” she says to him with a bright smile, and immediately his chest feels full, because he missed her. So much. He missed being able to make her smile like that. He missed kissing it off. “This is why I come up with the plans. Yours always suck.”

Percy laughs. “Can’t help it. Seaweed for brains and all.”

“I can’t believe we lasted sixty-five years with no contact,” she sighs, eyes still mirthful but with a tinge of regret.

Bravely, Percy reaches out to tug at the red coral pendant she’s wearing. He can’t help but notice the way her back slightly arches at the contact. “Not exactly.”

“No,” she agrees, barely biting back a smile. It’s a good look on her, but everything is a good look on Annabeth in Percy’s eyes. “So what’s your plan now?”

Percy has to dig his feet on the ground to physically stop himself from tugging Annabeth close to him. “I don’t know. I guess I need a little help in that front, since my plans apparently suck.”

“Hmm,” she hums, eyes twinkling like red diamonds or something more dangerous, like fiery sparks. “Well you did get one thing right: together, we’d be pretty unbeatable, especially with a few more gifted covens backing us.”

“Hmm–wait, what?” He whips his head to look at her incredulously. Is she going where he thinks she’s going…?

Annabeth bites her lip to contain her smile. “First things first, though. Rachel.”

“What abou–seriously?” He deadpans with a playful glare, making Annabeth shrug teasingly at him. “You think you’re funny.”

“Just making sure,” she chuckles, and then in a flash she’s straddling him, hips slotting in place against his, their chests touching, her one hand stretching across the span of his shirt-clad back and the other tugging at the hairs at the back of his neck. “So. Wanna go to Alaska and help a few vegetarian vampires beat the system?”

Percy inhales her scent–lemon, lavender and cider grass, just the way he remembers it. “I’ve always hated monarchies, anyway. But first–“

When he strains his head up to kiss her, deeply and passionately just because he can, and Annabeth purrs in his mouth and only pulls him closer, Percy can finally live again.

Tomorrow they have a vampire war to plan, and it would be a long, grueling process, but tonight they have this, each other, mates finding their way back together inevitably, husband and wife, and it’s enough.

(They win the war, by the way, but that’s a story for another time.)

 

End.