you cannot convince me that annabeth and percy won't ask for a temple for bob ok. what better way to help preserve his memory than jason's new life goal.
He taps his pen on the table.
He scrunches his face up, staring down the pen. "PONTifex MaxImus."
Jason is very glad he's sitting along in his cabin right now, because he's not sure he wants to explain why he's repeating the words aloud over and over, trying to find a good pronunciation that rolls easily off his tongue. One that feels right. He never really wanted or intended to get himself a new title, but at least Pontifex Maximus feels more welcome and natural than Praetor.
He should probably focus less on the details of the title and moreso on the details of construction. There are temples to build all over, and he's no architect like Annabeth. But if the stick figure houses and scribbled out plans for one to Hecate out near New Orleans are any indication, he's got a long road ahead.
The knock at his door is welcome, though it shouldn't be. He jumps on the sound. "Come in!" And then he flinches, because he probably should have asked who it was. Very few people stop by, and the most popular visitor takes girlfriend privileges by rarely announcing her arrival via knocking.
He's not expecting Percy, with Annabeth right beside him. He looks a little nervous, eyes darting around the cabin, and Annabeth reaches for his hand to steady him.
Jason looks up and sighs, waving at the statue of his dad. "I can throw a veil on his face, if it'll help." He drops his voice with mock conspiracy. "I do it when I sleep sometimes, but that's just between us."
Annabeth grins at him, and Percy nods. "I feel like he just stares right into your soul."
Jason nods solemnly. He doesn't miss the way Annabeth glances over to where Thalia used to sleep. Honestly, he's kind of taken up a similar pattern – making sure to keep out of sight of the statue, or at least the statue's face. On especially warm nights, he likes to sleep on the roof. It's far less suffocating, in more than just the obvious way.
She comes around the table he's set up, taking a cursory look over his plans with a critical eye that makes him a little nervous. Percy trails after her like an oblivious magnet, practically bumping into the edge of the table simply because he hadn't realized he'd moved there.
"I like this one," she says, pointing at the most basic of plans for the temple to Hecate.
He's pleased, because she doesn't dose out compliments easily. "I think we're gonna put this one in New Orleans. Where Hazel was born."
"What about that one?" She points to another.
"Los Angeles. Piper said she has the perfect place in mind. I'm gonna go check it out with her, next time we go to California."
She asks about three more, but her attention doesn't seem all that focused by the fourth. She's here for another reason, Percy too. Percy's the one who looks more fidgety, constantly moving his hands from his pockets to Annabeth's to crossing his arms over his chest, taking out Riptide to tap it against his leg in between.
And in true Percy fashion, he interrupts Annabeth when she's about to question a sixth, making it very apparent that she's just been talking to kill time for him to speak up. "We had a favor to ask you."
He blurts it very unceremoniously. Jason raises an eyebrow, not at the manner, but at the possibility of what they're here for. "Okay?"
Percy gets a little tongue tied again, and Annabeth takes his hand. She squeezes it, gently, and they lock eyes, carrying on one of their quick, silent conversations that everyone else knows to leave be. He looks away from her at last, chin nervous but his gaze is steady. "It's about Bob."
Jason stills, hit suddenly with the importance of this conversation. They all know about Bob, they know about Tartarus. But Bob isn't someone Percy and Annabeth have been able to talk about so freely yet. He knows they will – but they're still healing. He nods at them gently. "Yeah?"
"Well, we were thinking," Percy starts, fiddling with Annabeth's hand. "About what you're doing, going back and forth between the camps and stuff."
"And we know it's a little…unconventional," Annabeth adds. She brushes some hair behind her ear in her own nervous tick. "Because he's a titan."
Half of Jason wants to just tell them to spit it out, but the other half is patient. "Hit me," he says, purposely casual in hopes of putting them at ease.
He counts to five, watches Percy open his mouth. Counts to ten when Annabeth squeezes his hand again. Fourteen seconds later, the issue drops at last.
"We want you to build a temple for Bob."
It sinks in slowly. And it's not that he's opposed to it at all, he's just mostly distracted by their faces: Annabeth's cold, hard frown, and Percy's twitchy, tense lip biting. He knows suddenly how much they had to work themselves up to ask the quickest question in the world.
"Guys," he starts, and they both stiffen. He stands up and smiles at them. "Yeah. Of course."
It's such a simple answer to a heavy question, but it's all they needed. They sink with relief, hands still clenched. Jason looks between them, the dark circles under both their eyes, and remembers watching them last night as they both snuck out of their cabins to camp out on the beach. Chiron must have temporarily lifted the curfew, because no one disturbed them there. Even on the Argo II, they were often found sleeping beneath the stars.
"But I want your help," he adds sternly. "I want your input – where it goes, what it looks like. A temple for Bob needs to be reflective of him, right?"
Annabeth nods, while Percy grins weakly. "Thank you," she says, speaking it for both of them. How she manages to keep her face so steady and even while looking so hopeful and exhausted at the same time is a mystery.
"It's no big deal," Jason replies.
"Yes it is," Percy says instantly. One of his fists clenches. "I want it to be a big deal. I want people to know whose temple it is, as soon as they see it."
There's the smallest trace of anger in his tone, and Jason can see it vibrate up his arm. Annabeth looks at him, taking his fist in her other hand, where her grip softens how tightly he's wound it.
"That's why I want your help," Jason says, hoping to break that tension too. "Let me know when you want to, and we'll get started."
"Yeah," Percy says, running his fingers along Annabeth's palm. Her eyes flicker down to watch, the gesture pulling out comfort in both directions. "Yeah, okay."
"Constellations," Annabeth murmurs, making the first suggestion to no one's surprise. "Painted on the ceiling." Percy looks at her like she's full of stars and the rest of his anger deflates.
There's a silence in the air after that's not quite awkward, but no one in the room really knows where to go from here. Jason takes it upon himself, acting on an instinct. He walks around the other side of the table, and they watch him confused as he sweeps in, throwing his arms around them both.
He pulls them in close, but they both just stand there dumbly. "This is gonna get real awkward if you don't react differently," he warns in jest.
Percy shifts first, grasping an arm behind Jason's back and holding him fiercely. Annabeth is more tentative as she returns the hug, one hand gently resting at Jason's waist. He's ready to let go whenever they give sign of discomfort, but he's surprised by how long they cling to him, hiding their faces in each other and in his shoulders. They try to put on a good show of being okay, and it's mostly easy to play along, but Jason knows it's still hard on them. It's impossible to just pick up right where they left off, not after everything they've gone through. Building this temple for them and for Bob himself is going to help that along, so it's easy for Jason to jump aboard.
Annabeth's the one who moves away first, and Percy turns back into a magnet, moving with her. Jason's still got his hands on their shoulders though, and he nods another confirmation, nods another sign that he wants to help them (beyond just the temple).
"Thanks, man," Percy says, his voice a little scratchy.
"It's part of the job I signed up for, right?" Jason lets go, smiling. "I'm glad to do this, really."
"Thank you," Annabeth chimes in, adding her own gratitude. It's a little quieter from Percy's rawness, but just as genuine. "He deserves it, you know?"
"He deserves more," Percy mumbles. "But this is a start."
He pulls at Annabeth's hand, like he wants to leave but doesn't realize it. She can tell, of course, because she offers Jason a small smile. "We'll let you get back to work now," she says, tugging on her boyfriend to lead him from the cabin. "Just don't work too hard."
Jason salutes. "Piper's due any minute for reprieve."
It gets a laugh out of her, which he takes as a victory, really wishing they'd both laugh more lately, especially as he watches the way Annabeth, exhausted, directs Percy, also exhausted, and he can only hope the both of them don't collapse on their way out.
The room is empty and heavy after they leave, so Jason grabs some blank pages and climbs up onto the roof. He can't do much yet, not without their help, but he's the Pontifex Maximus, and if he can't give them a head start, what good's the job? He starts to draw.