In a nutshell, the second giant war was over, there was victory, the world was saved and the two long estranged factions of the Greco-Roman were finally learning to get along with the help of a complicated system of regular reconnaissance missions, cultural events and mandatory exchange programs. All of which Rachel was really truly happy about, honest.
But then came the day when her name turned up on the roster of exchange.
"But why me?" she'd asked, "I'm not even Greek."
"Doesn't matter," Annabeth had carelessly waved away her protests, "People are protesting about their training program, and you're one of the few people who won't have to go through that."
"Are you sure about that?"
Because seriously, she had heard things about the training program. Mostly under cover of darkness with accompanied slashes of sharp things serving as illustration.
"Of course I'm sure," Annabeth had said, "The Romans are all about forseeing the future. They're going to love you."
And that, eventually, had turned out to be the problem.
She wasn't too clear on the details, but it turned out that the last augur in Camp Jupiter had been a mouth-frothing megalomaniac who had started the mother of all civil wars against the Greeks. Which meant that, for the moment, most people were pretending the post did not exist. Which in turn meant that when a genuine supernatural Oracle landed in their midst, the Romans were all excited about her.
Unlike the Greeks, who tended to stay far, far away from anything predicting the future, the Romans had a tendency to the exact opposite. Knowledge, they claimed, was never a bad thing. Not even if it involved proclamations of certain doom, blood, gore and general chaos. And no amount of her trying to convince them that consulting the Oracle was only something you did in desperate straits actually worked. She ended up having to duck and run for cover whenever she saw someone walking at her, in case she said something that would end up with them having to deal with another apocalypse.
Anyway, eventually Reyna had gotten fed up with the whole mess (and her regular requests for annulling the exchange) and assigned her a bodyguard.
And okay, Nico was shorter than she was and dragged more gloom and doom around with him than any fourteen-year old ever had the right to, but he was effective. Especially with the Lares, who were more trouble than the rest of the Camp combined.
So here she was, one fine Sunday morning two weeks into her internship (with one week to go) and lounging in the Coliseum while buff, sweating, handsome half-naked male campers (and, granted, their female counterparts) went at each other with practice swords. The Greeks who had come along with her regarded gladiator time with the same amount of horror with which they regarded wild drakons attacking their cabins; but given that nobody expected the great and powerful and respected Oracle to actually join in the fracas, Rachel personally considered it the best time of the day.
In many ways, it was a good life.
Garion of the third cohort swung his sword in an arc which was neatly intercepted by Dakota of the fifth, their faces flushed and sweating and glaring. Rachel let out an involuntary appreciative sigh.
One seat to her left, Nico sighed too. Except he didn't sound all that appreciative.
"Oh come on, Nico," Rachel said, not taking her eyes off the spectacle, "Don't tell me you aren't enjoying this just a little."
"I yelled off three Lares in the last ten minutes," Nico grumbled, "This is not my idea of fun."
"You are working very hard and you deserve a reward," Rachel agreed, continued to not take her eyes off the arena, "Which is why I want you to enjoy these sights with me."
Silence from the left. Garion got inside Dakota's reach and lunged, leading to some spectacular acrobatics- or not acrobatics as much as some spectacular flailing and ouch, that had to hurt-
"Ouch," Nico winced, "That had to hurt."
"How good are the medics here?" Rachel wondered.
"Very good," Nico confirmed, "Our Apollo guys were petitioning for reassignment from gladiator training to the medical wing."
"There was paperwork."
"Ah." (CJ ran on paperwork, while CHB cheerfully denied its' existence. It made for some interesting incidents.)
Rachel turned back to the arena just in time to see Serena from the Fourth execute a move that made Declan from the Ares Cabin duck and yelp. Nico groaned and yelled out a correction at Declan, who responded with a glare which dissipated to nothingness when he saw her.
Rachel waved at him, which for some reason made him shudder and turn back to the fight just in time for Serena (who had absolutely no sympathy for mid-fight communications) to soundly knock him over the head with a wooden practice sword, leaving only three CHB-ers left awake and undamaged- a significant step down from the original ten.
Well, eight- what with her being exempt from banging people over the head with wooden swords and Nico being conscripted into being her personal secretary. That last one made Rachel grin like a grinny thing. Or possibly a shark.
"What?" Nico asked suspiciously.
"You do realize you're my girl friday, right?"
"Because when you think about it, you're not bodyguarding me as much as you're taking applications for prophecies and keeping the paparazzi away-"
"The Lares. I'm glad you exist, by the way- or I would have spent all my time in CJ hiding in Apollo's temple- by which I mean I would have missed the views."
One of said views (someone from the Second, Rachel guessed) screamed and charged at another of the views, and there was a flurry of ducks and parries which were somehow more dance than fight and- really, it was wonderful to watch.
"You can't actually date them," Nico pointed out.
"I don't have to want a guy to admire his form," Rachel said, "Take Apollo, for example. Horrible, terrible, cataclysmically abysmal boyfriend material? Without a doubt. Worth staring at for ages? Yeah, probably."
"You do that to him?"
"It's hard to not stare at him, really," Rachel shrugged, "He kindof- draws the eye."
"My Dad does that too," Nico volunteered, "I mean, you can't really look away from him when he's speaking to you. Or tune him out. Or lie. Or well- do anything but listen."
"I've never met your father," Rachel mused, "I mean, most of the Olympians have spoken to me at one point or another, or sent me messages at least -did you know Hermes likes gatorade and kinda looks like Nathan Fillion?- but your dad's a little reclusive."
"He's always busy," Nico shrugged, "And grumpy. Not too fond of the Oracle, either."
"Yeah, that." Rachel lightly kicked at a random stone under her seat, "And you?"
"Are you not fond of the Oracle?"
"Oh," Nico stared at his feet, "Not too much, I guess- not you, Rachel. I like you. But the Oracle..."
"I get it, believe me. I just wish the Romans would get it too- especially the freaking Lares," She sighed and got up, dusting herself off, "Well, that's it's for today, I guess. Anything you want to do next?"
"Then want to help me bully Reyna into making arts and crafts a mandatory part of Roman training?"
"Bullying Jason would be easier," Nico pointed out.
"Maybe, but all the administrative stuff goes to Reyna towards the end anyway," Rachel said, "It's like Camp- you want something done, you go to Annabeth and not Percy. On the other hand, if you want something blown up..."
"You go to Leo?"
"Or Percy. Or Clarisse, I suppose. Or the Stolls. Or that one Demeter girl with the frizzy hair-"
"Catalina," Nico supplied, shuddering.
"Yes, her. I like her. We can always find use for people who blow things up," Rachel said, "As a person of mass destruction, you should be aware of this. So come on- you can back me up when I talk to Reyna."
And so Nico sighed and prepared himself to go from bodyguard-secretary to minion, because this assignment was really giving him a crash course in multitasking. He shuddered to think of the day when Rachel inherited her Dad's company, he really did.