Malcolm Pace was up late into the night, reading. It was one of his favorite hobbies, and one shared by some of the Athena kids. There was nothing quite like reading a good book (preferably nonfiction) in the dead of night where there weren’t any distractions.
On one rainy night, Malcolm was reading a book on military history. It made sense why he was so captivated by it, being a son of Athena and all. However, after every couple of pages, Malcolm’s eyelids started to become droopy. Before he did inevitably go to bed, he wanted to finish the chapter he was on. His reading became more hurried, and before he knew it, he was done.
Malcolm put a bookmark in & set the book down on his nightstand next to his bed. He wasn’t quite sure what the time was, but judging by the moon’s appearance in the sky, he assumed it was an ungodly hour of the night. That was all the information he needed to decide it was time for bed. He quickly drifted off to sleep.
On this particular night, Malcolm didn’t have any dreams. But at the same time, it also felt like he was only asleep for a couple of minutes before he awoke. He groggily sat up and rubbed his eyes, cursing under his breath. Only after closing his eyes did he hear a sound.
Malcolm was hesitant to get up. The Athena cabin sometimes made weird sounds in the middle of the night that could never seem to be rationalized. But then, he heard it again. This time, Malcolm was 80% sure that it came from one of the beds.
Malcolm sat up again, this time his eyes were more adjusted to the dark. He started scanning the room for the cause of the sounds, and his eyes eventually landed on one of the beds: Annabeth’s bed. He could see a figure sitting on the side of it.
On any other given night, he would’ve just assumed she was reading; it was one of her favorite things to do. But tonight, for some odd reason, felt different. He sighed and walked over to her bed, seating himself on the very edge of it.
“Hey,” Malcolm said.
Annabeth looks up at him “Hi,” she said. To Malcolm, it sounded like she had been crying.
“Uhm, is everything okay?” he asked.
Annabeth took a sudden interest in the design of the floor. “Yeah, yeah everything’s fine, Malcolm. Go back to bed.”
Malcolm raised his eyebrows. “You don’t sound fine,” he said quietly.
“Well, I can assure you,” she said while wiping what looked to be a tear off her cheek. “That I’m okay. I just had another… stupid nightmare.”
Malcolm nodded his head to himself. Annabeth & her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, had been struggling since their time back from Tartarus. As their nightmares became more frequent between the two of them, the nights that they spent sleeping next to each other also became more frequent. Percy really did become an honorary son of Athena (even if he was a bit dumb sometimes).
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked Annabeth.
She looked at him with a confused look.
“I-I mean you don’t have to,” he clarified. “I just remember reading somewhere that it can be good to talk about them.”
Annebeth sighed, a brief moment of silence passed before she started talking again.
“We were back… there, me and Percy. I could feel the warm air and taste the hot water. And then there were all the monsters, the empousi, the arai. And then Bob and Damasen were there, and I just…”
By the time she trailed off, Annabeth was crying softly, trying not to wake the others. Malcolm put a comforting arm on her shoulder to let her know that he was there for her.
Eventually, her sobs became scarce.
“That is... Uhm, intense,” Malcolm said after he’d taken in what she’d told him. He wasn’t familiar with a Bob or Damasen, but Annabeth mentioned that Percy & she had made some friends in Tartarus.
“You could say that again,” Annabeth mumbled.
“But luckily it’s just a nightmare,” Malcolm continued. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, it's still awful that you still have to endure it, but it's in the past. You’re safe now.”
Malcolm stopped to catch his breath.
“And hey, you’ll eventually stop having those nightmares. Time does heal most things after all. Tartarus will just become a distant memory."
As soon as he finished, Annabeth sat back up and gave him an astonished look. “Malcolm Pace, that has to be the best advice you’ve ever given me.”
Malcolm smiled. “Eh, definitely in my top 3.”
Annabeth chuckled and ruffled Malcolm's blonde hair.
“We should probably go back to bed,” Malcolm said after some time elapsed.
As if on cue, Annebeth yawned. “Sleep sounds nice” she murmured.
Malcolm started to stand up before Annabeth grabbed his arm. “Will you stay with me?” she asked softly.
Malcolm sighed and sat back down. “Uh, yeah sure.” He sat on the edge of the bed awkwardly while Annabeth climbed under her mountain of blankets.
“Well?” she asked, motioning her hand at an empty spot in her bed.
Malcolm looked at her confused. “You-you want me to sleep with you?”
Even thru the darkness, he could see Annabeth roll her eyes. “No, I just invited you to sit on the edge of my bed for the rest of the night,” she said sarcastically.
“Exactly what I wanted!” Malcolm said, matching her sarcasm.
“Just get in,” Annabeth grumbled
Malcolm complies, climbing in the bed next to Annabeth. Admittedly, it was a cozy fit, but Malcolm managed to get comfortable. His eyelids started drooping when Annabeth spoke.
“Thanks for listening to me tonight, Malcolm," she says quietly.
“Hey, that just comes with the job of being your favorite brother." he couldn't see, but he was sure Annabeth was rolling her eyes again.
After a few moments of silence, Malcolm started to drift back to sleep until he heard Annabeth again.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” he replies sleepily.
After a few minutes, both demigods drifted off to sleep, comfortable in each other’s presence.