The Secret is OutPercy gulped in a breath of the tainted air and tightened his grip on Annabeth's hand. She squeezed back providing a brief moment of comfort for the son of Poseidon. Neither of them could tell why they were so scared of this challenge. Surely they had proved their love to the gods by now, and surely they didn't need anything more to grant their wish of marriage.
Annabeth turned to Percy and nodded with a forced smile. She was always brave for him. "Nothing to be afraid of." She assured him.
'Then why are you so scared?'
He plastered on his own forced smile and nodded back, letting her hand go to drop to her side, "Yeah. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to hide."
The never ending corridor flooded with translucent white, clouding the demigods' vision and burning their throats. Percy savoured it. It might be the last time he could feel this kind of sensation without going numb. That is, if this was what he thought it was.
Sure enough, the conclusion sounded over the invisible speaker like a commanding omnipotent force, "You are now breathing 50/50 Oxygen and Truthantia. Converse."
Percy assumed this 'trial' from now would go silently awkward, seeing as he himself were awkward enough to pull it off. Annabeth had to break it.
"You said 'nothing to hide' before we were told it was Truthantia. How did you know?"
Percy shrugged, just a feeling "I've been subjected to it before. I know the taste." When he realised its affects were stronger than he recalled from his past encounter, he swore under his breath.
"You have something to hide, don't you?" Annabeth stared at him in confusion and hurt, capped off with vague disbelief.
Percy held his mouth shut.
"Percy, you do. What could you possibly feel the need to hide from me?" Her eyes softened, but Percy knew the tactic all too well. He had used it before, almost every day. Taking the potentially threatening elements out of a stare so as to seem more innocent and trustworthy. Even in the truth gas he knew to keep up his guard. This daughter of Athena was a tricky one.
"Not just you. Everyone." He did not mean to say that.
"So far you've been asking all the questions."
"That's because I have nothing to be asked about. I don't hide things from you." The fire returned to her stark grey eyes and burned just so he could see the smoke swirling up into the pending storm.
He was quiet.
"Tell me what you don't want to tell anyone else and I will keep your secret. Let me find out and the world knows with me."
And Percy knew she would eventually find out.
He opened my mouth to speak my secret, but his thoughts came out instead, "I don't even know why it's such a big deal to me. It really shouldn't be. It would just be a little thing that surprises people when they find out." I recalled an incident. "Maybe it's from when I was little. I was always told to hide it. To deny it if asked. Make sure nobody knew. I didn't see the point but I obeyed. Maybe I'm still obeying."
"What is it?" Annabeth demanded, the fire in her eyes growing higher and brighter to illuminate the clouds of her eyes with a fierce glow of determination.
"I'm-" He took a clear breath and noticed the untainted air. Breathing out air without words felt good.
"I'm glad that's over." Percy forced a laugh and started for the door at the end of the corridor.
"Why don't you trust me?" Annabeth scampered after him, but she did it have to go far. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared into her fire pits and storm clouds. Beauty.
"I do. I promise I do."
"Then why won't-"
"It's a stupid thing. Just a silly little thing that doesn't even matter."
"Then. Tell. Me."
No getting out. Unless...
He pulled her face closer to his and smiled gently into her lips. They touched before their noses did and he whispered the thing that doesn't matter and the thing that ruined his life, "I'm a genius. But only technically. Don't speak." He kissed her, fingers entangled in her hair, their lips moving passionately against each other. Until the daughter of Athena ruined it by pulling away.
"What do you mean?" She demanded, Percy's head still in her hands.
"What I said. Not figuratively. Kiss me?" He headed in for her lips once again before her answer and was met by a finger pressing his lips closed and shushing him simultaneously.
"Yes. Try to keep up." He had given up on the kiss now. If she wanted one she could get it herself.
"Okay, whatever. Just tell me the real secret." Percy was taken aback by her words. It justice shown to cause her to further explain herself. "I mean, come on. One: no you're not. Two: that's not a secret. Three: what are you hiding?"
"Am too. Told you it was stupid. Not sure. But hey, you can choose weather or not to believe me. I'm not forcing you." His calm tone was of the highest caliber acting. He was mentally breaking down despite his lack of understanding. This was the one thing he had always been told, no matter what, to keep a secret. No explanation. No exception. It's. Not. A. Big. Deal. Calm. Down.
After a long silence a stern and graceful voice echoed gently around the hallway and reached Percy's ears. The most beautiful sound he knew. "I do believe you. I think I do." The sound of her voice.
"Yeah." Why did his brain always shut down when he needed it. If this 194 IQ can't help me speak then I don't need it. Though it never did help much with the speaking part...
"194!?" Annabeth gasped and pulled away from Percy in shock. He cursed his perception as he broke down just there, crumbling into a ball on the floor in tears. It hurt too much. Did it? What was it? The secret? No. It was keeping it that hurt him. Why had he?
He blamed everyone who had ever told him to silence who he was. To not draw attention. To be stupid rather than smart. He blamed them for having cost him Annabeth.
The resentment he didn't realise was there melted with Annabeth's arms around his shuddering figure, alone in the dark.
"It's okay." That was all she said. Of course it was okay. They were alive and together. That was all he needed. That was all me ever needed.
"Hey, you know I love you, right Wise Girl?" His voice was steady despite the breakdown.
"Of course, Seaweed Brain. Don't be so thick." And He had to grin. She was always the best.
"Yeah." She gave Percy a light cheek peck and patted him on the back as if to say 'you're a big boy, get up by yourself.' He stood with unreasonably shaky legs. They weren't shaking from fear, but from knowing that finally someone had accepted him for who he actually was. No more lies. Starting tomorrow, no more lies. Except that one... No. Not now.
He wrapped his arm around Annabeth's waist and began the track down the testing corridor of Olympus.