linked fingers

starring the seven (and reyna!)

The winds they felt upon the docking of the Argo II felt like winds of change. –Hazel, Leo, Frank, Jason, Piper, Reyna

Percy looks the happiest Hazel's ever seen him as he rejoins her side, the two of them watching the Argo II finally dock port on the shores of Camp Jupiter. His face breaks into a grin as his already windswept hair whips around his face, his sea-green eyes lighting up with love and loyalty and recognition and a million other beautiful things as the faces of his fellow Greek demigods peer out from the ship. Percy's hand tightens around hers and she can see him biting his lip as the ladder finally, finally touches ground.

The first to descend – and by that Hazel means the first to rush down the platform – is a tall, well-built blonde, and upon seeing her Percy's fingers leave hers and they barrel towards each other, eventually becoming an entanglement of arms and laughs and hugs.

Hazel realizes this must be the Annabeth Percy had so often lovingly talked about: Annabeth and her beauty, Annabeth and her skills, Annabeth and her intelligence. There had been rumors once upon a time of a young girl who had been designated architect of the Greek pantheon, rumors that Hazel had scoffed at when Percy had retold his tale to her, rumors that, when she looked at Annabeth, could only be believable now.

The second to descend is a smiling, clumsy-looking faun – satyr, Hazel chides herself – who immediately joins the hug, and he's followed by a swarm of demigods, all in armor and carrying weapons, and all calling Percy's name with pride and love because this was Perseus Jackson, everybody – the one who had born the Curse of Achilles, who'd defeated titans and giants and gods, who was praetor of a Roman legion, and who wouldn't be proud of him?

"…everybody, and I couldn't remember anything, and I could only wonder who on earth Annabeth was…"

They raise him on their shoulders proudly, screaming percy percy percy over and over, and upon looking at them, Hazel is almost jealous of her brother. If he had come from a group this loving and welcoming, why was he the way he was?


The satyr (whose name Hazel later learns is Grover) announces that Percy and Annabeth must have their private time, and suddenly Percy seems to realize that Hazel and the rest of Camp Jupiter exist, and he turns towards her, smiling, but Hazel grins at him, mouthing that they could handle themselves.

Couldn't they?

Leo is taking a ridiculous amount of time prepping up for his big "Roman debut," as Piper had so sarcastically put it. But she's anything but sarcastic now, as they stand outside the captain's cabin waiting for him, Piper biting her lip.

He takes her hand in his. "Is something wrong?"

She gives him a half-smile. "Well, we're here," she whispers. "You're back."

Back at Camp Jupiter, back where he belonged, back to Reyna

"You remember now, right?" Piper says, turning to the welcoming party on the shore, and she sees the cluster of demigods surrounding someone who could only be Percy Jackson. "You're staying, and he's…"

"Yeah," Jason says, because really, what is he supposed to say? He pauses. "Take care, okay?"

She nods, and is obviously about to add something when Leo busts open the cabin door, wearing a ridiculous bright red captain's hat and the cockiest grin Jason's ever seen on him. "Hello, amigos," he greets, grinning at both of them. "Are you ready for my big–"

"Roman debut? We were ready eras ago, Captain," Piper cuts in, yanking the hat off his head. "Now get moving, repairman, you look dumb."

Leo rolls his eyes. "You go on ahead," he tells the two of them. "Piper messed up my hair."


"No, really, I think I left something behind in the cabin." He winks at the two of them and gives them a thumbs-up before disappearing into the cabin.

Jason smiles wistfully and nudges her. "Come on. Just leave him."

He leads her to the ladder, and with every step of the way he feels like he weighs a hundred more pounds. His head is spinning, as if this isn't supposed to be happening, but that's when Piper's fingers tighten around his and she smiles at him, and suddenly everything is back to normal.

They face the sun and the shore, and immediately it's Jason's fingers that tighten around Piper's. She looks at him in confusion, and follows his line of sight, and all of a sudden she knows what he's looking at.

If there was anything Hazel thinks Reyna feels the moment Jason – he looks taller, maybe tanner, but still the handsome golden boy she knows – starts descending the ladder, it's betrayed. From her standpoint, Hazel can see Reyna's frown grow deeper and deeper as she eyes Jason – the necklace on his neck filled with gibberish she doesn't understand, the bright orange shirt that stings her eyes, his fingers curling around those of the beautiful girl next to him. Reyna bites her lip as if to hide tears, and she turns in Percy's direction as if she would find comfort in her fellow praetor, as if she could show Jason that she could leave him, them, what they had, just as easily as he could (had).

But Percy's arm is around Annabeth and her hand is in his, and Hazel knows Reyna feels alone. Hazel sympathizes. She knows what it feels like.

Jason looks uncomfortable, but as his eyes survey the welcoming party, his face relaxes as he rushes down the platform, dragging his lovely partner with him. For a moment, Hazel wonders who she is, but she joins the people who start crowding around him, asking him a million questions that probably won't be answered. And there's Reyna, who stands uncomfortably to one side, eyeing the scene.

Hazel goes to her. "Shouldn't you be with them?"

Reyna's lips curl downwards with disdain. "Shouldn't you?"

Hazel says nothing, and instead takes Reyna's hand in a gesture of comfort. "He'll work things out," she says absently, gazing at Jason's new girl. "He's Jason."

Reyna says nothing.

Jason doesn't want to look at Reyna.

It's not that he doesn't want to see her. On the contrary, she's almost all he's thought about (when he isn't thinking of camp or battles or Piper) and he realizes just how much he misses that dark hair and regal expression, that queenly grace with which she carried herself. He misses her calm, powerful voice and how good she was with a sword, because of all people she had to stay strong, because she was intelligent and a leader. He misses how Reyna used to take forever every morning making sure that her stoic mien was in place, how she coiled her hair and practiced her stern expression. He misses how Reyna is dark and moody and emotionally suppressed, but in an absolutely gorgeous way.

But there's Piper, Piper who loves him, and Piper whom he's quite sure he loves back. There's Piper who's all life and sunshine and love, (and she's someone whose hair Jason can run his fingers through - it smells like peppermint), Piper who's good with a dagger (because they're for clever fighters, and his Piper is plenty clever), Piper who's already strong, Piper who can take on any bitchy, undeserving head counselors the world can throw at her. There's Piper who cuts her hair with safety scissors like his sister and doesn't care about her dad's wealth or fame or popularity, Piper who does her best to be just her and manages to be absolutely beautiful while she's at it.

And he doesn't know what to do, so he just keeps Piper's hand in his and hopes for the best.

Hazel is eyeing the Argo II, taking in every single detail it had – it's strong and artistic, everything so very Greek that it's foreign – when her heart stops.

It isn't the boy on the platform's fault, she's sure. It's not his fault he's Sammy, but he isn't Sammy, because he can't be Sammy, even though he looks exactly like Sammy and where on earth would anybody have the same curlyblackhair-pointyears-darkbrowneyes-upturnednose-tanskin because people didn't look exactly alike so he's Sammy but he isn't

She has to bite her lip to stop from screaming out loud, because then what if it is Sammy?

That's when Jason's new girl turns around (looking gorgeous even while doing that) and yells "Leo!" and that jolts Hazel out of her train of thought, because hah, Leo is the most un-Sammy name she could possibly think of, but wouldn't that mean then that Sammy's grandkid (great-grandkid? It's ironic how fast she's lost track of time) is a demigod? And a Greek one at that? Is the world trying to be difficult on purpose, because what would this mean and oh my god how would she live with this Leo kid walking around camp and looking exactly like Sammy and carrying Sammy's blood in him, Sammy and some other woman's

And all of a sudden she's remembering little details, like how Sammy smelled like Indian summers and how she liked how his hair curled up at the end and the feeling of his lips on her cheek and oh god ugh –

Her fingers tighten around Reyna's, who looks at her curiously. "Hazel?" she says, her voice calming. "Are you okay? Do we need to call in a healer–"

Hazel takes deep breaths and is about to say "No, Reyna, I'll be fine–" when Leo comes up to them and she has to blink rapidly to stop fainting.

"And you must be the praetor," he tells Reyna, and for the love of god his voice is the same, too – "Reyna, huh? Jason talks about you–"

This time it's Reyna who blinks rapidly, her mouth dropped open in a very un-praetor way. "Does he, now?"

And that's when Leo smiles and talks, and his smile is big and wide and toothy and so very honest, and Hazel can't help but stare in triumph because finally, here's something you got wrong, here's a part of you that isn't Sammy, because Sammy didn't smile like that, Sammy didn't talk like that, Sammy was all quiet and reserved and you're anything but, you and your megawatt smile and stop using that tone –

But Sammy's smile was so very honest, too.

Hazel stops her inner rant when Leo turns to her, looking every bit like Sammy, and is about to open his mouth to say something when she hears the girl's voice again. "Leo Valdez–" and his surname is the same, too – "Can we not leave you alone for five minutes without you trying to hit on every girl in a five-meter radius?"

Leo rolls his eyes. "Well, I'm sorry, Piper McLean–"

Hazel turns to Reyna, who looks just as troubled as she does, Reyna who's eyeing Piper and her big smile and her jagged hair and her kaleidoscope eyes, Piper who's loose and light and everything Reyna isn't, and didn't she look just like that Hollywood actor? And Hazel turns to Leo, the boy who's Sammy but isn't because Sammy doesn't act like that, Sammy never acted like that, and her head feels light –

And the world goes black.

When Hazel faints, Jason springs into action. He figures that between her and Piper he's had enough practice, so he's the one who breaks up the happy reunion by catching her effortlessly and bringing her to a room, Leo, Reyna, Piper, Percy, and Annabeth quickly trailing behind.

"Oh, gods, is she going to be okay?" says Percy – Percy, who's a little older than Jason and is already so different from him that it bothers him – Jason is gold where Percy is bronze, Jason with his close-cropped golden hair and his sister's dazzling blue eyes and quiet half-smile and Percy with his windswept dark hair and sea-green eyes and big, honest beam.

"She'll be fine," Annabeth says, her cheeks flushed and her gray eyes brighter than Jason's ever seen them. "I think she just fainted from shock. She should be up in a little bit."

Percy frowns. "Shock? But how–"

Reyna and Leo both open their mouths, but they're interrupted by the door slamming shut. "I heard Hazel fainted," Frank gasps. "By the gods, is she all right?"

"She'll be fine," Annabeth repeats, smiling kindly at him. "Just had a little shock."

"Shock? But how–"

This time, it's Leo who speaks first. "I swear to god I didn't do anything! I just looked at her and she just–" He flopped his arm around. "–Fainted."

Piper laughs openly, and Reyna suppresses a smile. Jason notes this.

"Beauty queen, don't be like that! I am not that ugly–"

Hazel dreams of times long gone, times of not-so-warm summers and cursed jewels and picnics under apple trees.

Sammy is part of those times. She knows and she thinks she accepts. She's taken to pushing him to the back of her mind, reducing him to her biggest what if. But to have someone who lives and breathes like him and someone who has his blood walking around and screwing everything up. Especially when they were so, so very different.

Wait, hold that thought.

Leo is nearly everything Sammy is, and some things he isn't. He's Sammy's appearance down pat – right down to that sparkle in his eye – except for one thing. Leo's smile is too toothy and white and open to be Sammy's meaningful, conservative one, and that both screws and fixes everything up.

"…not that ugly–"

The memory jolts her awake.

The first thing she hears is "Hazel!"

The first thing she sees is Frank and that pretty blonde girl bending over her, a concerned look on the former and a knowing smile on the latter. "See, I told you it wouldn't be long," the girl says, smiling. "She's a tough one, Hazel."

Frank's grinning at her. "I know."

And that's when Leo pushes himself to the side of the bed. "Oh, hey," he says, his face surprisingly serious. "Uh, I'm sorry about earlier," he says. "I'm not really sure what happened back there. That doesn't normally happen, really–"

By this time Hazel is out of the blink-incomprehensibly stage. "I know," she laughs. "It's okay." She reaches up and squeezes his hand, and she doesn't feel the familiar jolt she expected, the jolt of picnics and horses and colored schools. She feels nothing when he looks at her and smiles his thanks. Maybe that was another reason he and Sammy were different.

She sits up, turns to Frank, and touches her fingers to his. "Hi, Frank."

The shock is like lightning to her, and she smiles.

"I guess we never had time for a formal introduction, did we?" Percy's laugh is boyish. He holds out his hand. "Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. You've met Annabeth, daughter of Athena," he says, gesturing to Annabeth. "And you must be the famous Jason…" he trails off, staring at Jason, an eyebrow raised.

Jason scratches the back of his head and eyes Percy right back, resisting the urge to frown at this talented boy with equal power. But he feels Piper's eyes on him, and shakes Percy's hand, giving it an extra special warm squeeze. Percy involuntarily flinches, and easily retracts his hand. "Grace," he mutters. "Jason Grace. Son of Jupiter." He watches Percy's mouth turn into a perfect o.

(There's a divide between the two of them, see, an uncomfortable fifteen inches that separates him, Frank, Hazel, and Reyna from Percy, Annabeth, Piper, and Leo, and he wishes it didn't exist).

Annabeth leans in to Percy's ear and Jason can see her mouth move to form the words Thalia's younger brother and I'll explain everything later. Percy's face relaxes. "So Thalia had a younger brother she never told any of us about," he says. "Figured. You have the same eyes." He grins at Jason. "Your sister's great."

Jason nods at him, and quickly continues. "This is Piper McLean," he says, squeezing Piper's hand. "Daughter of Aphrodite. My – er, friend." He glances at Piper's face, and it's a gorgeous mesh of hurt and confusion and understanding and all that is lovely. And then at Reyna's, which is an equally beautiful mess, and his heart hurts a little.

"And I'm Leo Valdez," says Leo, fiddling with his collar. "Son of Hephaestus, reporting for duty." He turns to Hazel and winks at her.

Hazel squeaks, flinches and turns a million different shades of red at once, although Jason can tell it's not (just?) out of love, and he can tell he isn't the only one who sees it.

"I'm Frank Zhang," Frank, who has been silent this whole time, cuts in, his face flushed. "Son of Mars."

Annabeth stifles a giggle, and Percy cracks a smile. Leo holds his hands up in mock surrender.

"Hazel Levesque," Hazel says, her voice slow and rich. "Daughter of Pluto."

This time it's Annabeth's turn to look shocked, and she swivels around to look at Percy. "Daughter of Pluto? Then–"

"I've met my brother, yes," says Hazel, and Jason wonders what she means. "Nico–"

"Is a cool guy, yeah." Percy gives her a warning look. Not now.

Hazel smiles.

Reyna clears her throat – Reyna, Jason decides, is one of the people who rarely spoke, but people listened to them anyway. "My name is Reyna, praetor of the twelfth legion," she says. "I think we've dillydallied here long enough, don't you? Let's proceed to the dining hall; the other demigods are waiting for us there."

Jason looks at her. "Perhaps we should have them sorted into temporary cohorts now?"

"Nope," says Leo quickly, draping one arm around Piper and one around Percy, who smiles uncomfortably at first but lets his face relax later on. "That's silly. We're sticking with each other, Jace. We're family, remember?"

Jason blinks at them, then at Reyna, who smiles warmly at him, her eyes just telling him how these Greeks were so dependent on each other and so different and why don't you come along with me?

"Can I stay with them?" he asks all of a sudden. "Just for tonight."

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Piper's face light up like a tree on Christmas.

Hazel's eyes look like they're about to pop out of their sockets. Frank's face is a little more flattering. And Reyna's mouth is slightly open in shock, but she gracefully closes it. "Of course," she says. "If you wish it, Jason."

This time he smiles warmly at them. "So, there are these two really nice guest rooms near the praetor's…"

"They're something, aren't they?" Frank's voice is serious. "Really gonna shake things up around here."

Hazel follows Frank's line of sight, and sees the Greek demigods and Jason at one table, laughing and smiling – and among the myriad of bright orange shirts and bronze weapons there's Jason's arm around Piper's, Annabeth clutching Percy's arm, Percy's other arm around the satyr from earlier, Leo's smile big and wide, so very un-Sammy-like. And, she realizes, that's okay.

"Yeah," she replies, "They are."

A pause.

"Hey," she tells Frank, grinning at him. "We'll be okay."

"I guess," he says uncertainly, but she grasps his hand as if she'll never let go, and he smiles.

someone tell me how on earth i'm supposed to wait another year DD:

if it wasn't obvious, i enjoy writing about the hypothetical interactions between the seven. how could one not?