Annabeth never thought she would be so terrified to miss her period.
She kept good track of her cycle, and it came like clockwork. Annoying clockwork, oftentimes inconvenient clockwork, but she could reliably predict exactly when it would start and end. With her life so governed by instability, it was a strangely comforting constant.
Right up until it wasn't.
Annabeth hadn't even realized at first; the days since they'd started their quest had quickly blended together, and the timeless days and nights spent in Tartarus definitely hadn't helped. But it had been a suspiciously long time, and when she finally remembered to check, she realized it should have come a week ago. Too long ago to just be late, nevermind that she'd never been late in her life.
Under normal circumstances this wouldn't be cause for alarm. She and Percy were always careful. Except, she'd quit taking the pill after he disappeared, and they hadn't had anything on them that first night alone together in the stables, and Annabeth had missed him too much to even care.
Well. She definitely cared now.
Still, there were lots of reasons someone could miss their period that had absolutely nothing to do with being pregnant. She had just gone though some seriously traumatic experiences. Her time in hell had left her underweight and exhausted. Her body was under so much stress, it probably would have been more surprising if she had gotten her period.
But still. There was that little voice in the back of her mind, constantly whispering three very horrible words: but what if?
Frankly, it probably wouldn't matter either way, since there was a good chance they'd all be dead by the end of the month anyways. And since they were currently fluctuating between being in the middle of the ocean and flying over the coast with no side trips, Annabeth hadn't been able to sneak off to buy a test. It was a bit absurd actually, that her anxiety could be quelled one way or the other with one little mortal item, and she had absolutely no way of getting it.
Annabeth had often wished that her life contained more normal problems. Now she would gladly fight half a dozen monsters if it meant she didn't have to deal with this.
She'd thought she'd been hiding it well too; not really from any effort on her part, but mostly because she could pass off just about anything as a Tartarus side effect. But she could tell Percy wasn't buying it as well as the others. He kept sneaking worried glances at her, squeezing her hand under the table. He hadn't tried talking to her about it yet, but she could tell he wanted to.
Now, for example, they were standing together at the bow of the ship on watch duty, and Percy was uncharacteristically quiet. They had just taken over for Piper and Leo, who had looked particularly bedraggled after a mid-sized sea monster had attacked the ship while everyone else was sleeping. Now the night air was still and the sea was calm.
"Something's up with you." Percy said finally, after a few minutes of silence. It was a statement rather than a question, because he knew her well enough to know that it was true without asking. He was right, but it still flooded her stomach with anxiety.
"It's nothing." She said, rolling her shoulder uncomfortably. That old wound had started to flare up after Tartarus, like the pit had re-injured her, the same way it had never let her ankle heal all the way. Percy gave her a look, one that said he didn't believe her for a second.
"It is." she said, though she suspected it was equally unconvincing as her first assertion.
"You've been a little... withdrawn, I guess. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to you and you're not even there." Percy said, "I'm just worried."
Annabeth's stomach flipped. She knew she should just tell him. He deserved to know. But how could she straddle him with that kind of stress when they had half the quest left to go through, when she wasn't even sure?
One look at Percy's worried face and her resolve all but crumbled. He'd probably be more stressed not knowing what was going on with her, because he was just infuriatingly good like that. Annabeth sighed, channeling all her nerves into her exhale.
"It's probably nothing. But... I missed my last period."
Percy looked confused for a few seconds. Then the understanding set in. His eyes widened.
"Does that mean--"
"It doesn't have to." Annabeth said quickly, "There's lots of reasons it could happen. Like stress, or malnutrition. And I've got both of those in spades."
Percy's shoulders, now tense, didn't relax. Annabeth was an expert at reading his expression, and normally he was an open book. But now she couldn't quite discern what the look on his face meant.
"But it could be?" he asked. Annabeth bit her bottom lip.
Percy took a deep breath. Annabeth watched his expression, still unreadable.
"Okay." Percy said.
"Okay?" Annabeth asked.
"Sorry, I'm just-- trying to process." Percy said, and just for a second Annabeth saw a flash of panic in his eyes. She reached for his free hand, clenched on the railing, covering it with her own.
"Percy, it's not a sure thing. And even if it was..." Annabeth trailed off. She'd been about to say "we might be dead soon," but Percy never thought like that, no matter how impossible their odds were. It was half of what had gotten them through every quest they'd ever been on, through the first war and and now this one, Tartarus and the Labyrinth and every other horrible thing. Annabeth was grateful for it, even if she couldn't always match his attitude.
"What?" Percy asked. He threaded his fingers through hers. She could feel his eyes on her, but she kept hers fixed firmly on the horizon.
"Just... we have this whole quest left. Who knows what's going to happen."
"We'll make it." Percy said, as if reading her thoughts, and Annabeth had to smile a little at his confidence. It was nice how predictable it was, even if she didn't share it.
"We will." Percy insisted, "And after we do, we can deal with this."
"After?" Annabeth asked tentatively. She risked a look at his expression; it had hardened slightly into a look of forced confidence Annabeth was very familiar with. He'd worn it every time they had faced down impossible odds together, fought monsters they shouldn't have won their battles against. He didn't want her to see how much it scared him.
"After." Percy confirmed, his voice gaining conviction, "Look, you're right, we still have this whole quest left. It's not going to help anyone if we're distracted by this. Especially since we don't really know what's going on."
"Okay." Annabeth said, forcing down the anxiety that had been plaguing her for days. For the first time, it actually worked. "After."
"After." Percy said, squeezing her hand and giving her a small smile.
Annabeth let herself sit in the moment, internalizing it. Restructuring her thoughts and stresses from now-worries to later-worries. It was surprisingly easy, now that she had told Percy. She didn't know why she had thought his reaction would be any different, now that she really thought about it. She hadn't really let herself imagine his reaction, if she was being honest. Maybe because she had been so scared and unsure herself, she was terrified if he felt strongly one way or the other she would never find out exactly what she wanted. It was hard for her to plan when she didn't have all the variables, and the reality of the situation and Percy's reactions were the two biggest ones.
She could probably plan now, if she wanted to. Her brain was already drawing up scenarios, but she felt strangely tempted to let them all go, to just follow Percy's non-plan of dealing with it later. It was, surprisingly, the logical thing to do. There were still too many variables, too much up in the air. But something was still bothering her, and it took her a moment to sort out exactly what it was.
"Percy, you can't treat me any differently while we're on this quest." Annabeth said, meeting his gaze, "If we want to win this, we're going to have to both be at our best. And neither of us can do that if you're looking out for me more than you normally would."
Annabeth almost expected him to argue with her, but to her surprise he just nodded.
"You're right." he said, "I mean, I don't think I could hold you back if I tried. But if I did I would just be sabotaging the whole quest. We need you."
Annabeth felt a warm sensation in her chest. One of her favorite things about Percy was that he never underestimated her, always gave her the credit she deserved, and maybe a little more on top of that. Too many people in her life had treated her like she was fragile or stupid. Percy was the one, constant exception. The fact that that clearly wasn't going to change gave Annabeth a sweeping feeling of relief.
"Did I ever tell you that I love you?" Annabeth asked, a genuine smile tugging at her lips for what felt like the first time in weeks. Percy just grinned back at her.
"Only a few dozen times." he joked, squeezing her hand. He tugged it lightly, pulling her so she was face-to-face with him.
"I'm not swearing on any more rivers. I'm done with that." Percy said, and there was an intensity to his gaze that made Annabeth shiver, "But I swear to you. We're going to get out of this, and we're going to build a life together. I don't know all the details, but I don't need to. Whatever happens we'll figure it out, together."
Annabeth pulled him forward and kissed him, not caring that they were on guard duty, not caring that a monster could come out of the sky or the sea to ruin the moment. They could try, if they wanted to, but it was so perfect Annabeth doubted anything less than a giant squid could do the job.
Sometimes, Annabeth thought, having no plan at all was the best kind.