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With Me, You Always Are

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She was standing on a mountain, looking down. She couldn’t see anything through the layer of fog that was completely covering everything. She had a sense that something important was about to happen, that their whole world — their whole lives — would be determined by what happened next, but she didn’t want to leave. Not yet.

She heard a noise behind her, very faint, but she knew immediately what it was.

She turned around, and a smile spread across her face as she took in the other girl. Her dark hair flowing around her head, her eyes glimmering in the pale light.

“I waited for you,” she heard herself say, and the dark-haired girl smiled.

“You know I will always come for you,” the other girl said.

They closed the gap between them, each one drawing nearer the other, until they stood almost nose to nose. The dark-haired girl reached up and put her hands on her cheeks.

“We’ll get through this, Annabeth,” she said.

And then Reyna kissed her.

•••

Annabeth woke with a start, her breath caught in her throat. She turned her head to the form beside her, and felt her heart sink.

It had felt so real. But it would never be real. Most likely, she and Percy were going to die down here in Tartarus and these dreams she had been having about Reyna would mean as much as they did now — nothing.

Annabeth sighed. She didn’t even know why she was thinking about Reyna. Or kept thinking about her, she corrected herself. She hadn’t even met her for very long. Just one conversation, one small touch, one moment …

Annabeth groaned. It had been one thing to dream about the girl when they were on the ship with the others, when maybe, possibly, there had been a chance, but now there was no chance.

She was going to die here. She was never going to see Reyna again.

•••

It was Percy who brought it up. Which seemed a weird thing to do considering they were hiking down the throat of Tartarus himself, but then, what else were they going to talk about? Wondering about how they were going to die had gotten more than old by now.

“Do you ever think about what will happen when we get out of here?” Percy asked her as they walked.

Annabeth frowned, carefully picking her way around the slippery stones. “What do you mean?”

“You know,” Percy said, and he hesitated. When he spoke again, it was with a lowered voice. “What you’ll say to Reyna.”

Oh.

Annabeth understood exactly what he was saying. She turned her head and flashed a grin. “What you’ll say to Nico?” she asked, and Percy shrugged.

“Yeah, that, too,” he said.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “Facing them can’t be any worse that what we’re facing down here, right?”

Percy snorted at that. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s true.”

“So then what do we have to fear?”

Percy reached over and took her hand, squeezing it lightly.

“I’m glad you’re here with me,” he said, and she smiled, leaning her head against his shoulder for a brief moment, grateful once again that they were both able to remain friends even if they were no longer a couple.

“Me too,” she said.

•••

The smell of fresh air was invigorating. The first full breath of oxygen. The first ray of sun that hit her eyes. It was like being born anew, seeing everything for the first time.

But nothing compared to the moment she saw her.

Standing there beside her golden-colored pegasus, her dark hair blowing in the wind just like it was blowing in her dream, her eyes glittering just as she had seen them. She looked tired, worn down, injured. But to Annabeth, she was a beacon of light.

“You got my message,” Annabeth said to Reyna, and she winced as she heard her voice tremble.

“Yes,” Reyna said, “I did.” And she smiled at Annabeth like she knew something no one else did.

•••

They found time to talk later that night, after everyone else had escaped downstairs to their bunks.

“If you’re tired …” Annabeth started. They were sitting side-by-side on the floor of the bow of the Argo II. Only the glint from the moonlight above gave them light to see by. Reyna looked thinner than Annabeth remembered, more worn down, but she looked just as stoic, just as graceful.

“I’m fine,” Reyna said. “I’m not the one who escaped from the underworld.”

“I’m not the one who rode halfway across the world by herself.”

“You would have if you had to.”

“I don’t know if I would have made it.”

“Of course you would have.”

In the darkness, Annabeth felt Reyna scoot closer to her — whether intentional or not she wasn’t sure — and she felt her heart leap into her chest.

“Why did you really come?” Annabeth asked. The question had been weighing on her mind since she had seen Reyna.

“Because you told Rachel to come see me.”

“No,” Annabeth said. “I know that. I mean, why did you really come?”

“Because,” Reyna said, and this time she spoke slowly, directly. “You told Rachel to come see me.”

Annabeth turned her head. Somehow Reyna had gotten to be closer to her than she knew. They were barely an inch apart. Even in the dark, she could see into her eyes, could see the way Reyna was looking at her.

Because you told Rachel to come see me.

Realization hit her hard. Her eyes widened.

“Ohhh,” she breathed.

Reyna smiled, almost wryly. “I know,” she said. “You’re with Percy. You don’t swing that way. I get it. I know. I just … I’ve been having these dreams about you, and in them … Well, I just feel so connected to you, but I know, I know.”

Reyna shook her head. “Maybe I should go to bed,” she said, and started to get up.

Annabeth reached out and grabbed her wrist. “Reyna,” she said. “Shut up.”

And before Reyna could react, Annabeth leaned over and pressed her lips to the other girl’s.

“I’m not with Percy,” Annabeth whispered against Reyna’s lips.

“Well, okay then,” Reyna said, and she kissed Annabeth back.