So, I was recently ill. A bug's been going around work, and I caught it off this girl from cosmetics. But, even through sickness, I managed to join my family in a trip to the mall a state over, where I purchased The Mark of Athena and The Serpent's Shadow.
Shortly after that, my sickness progressed to where I was confined to an easy chair in the living room with no computer, no internet, and a DVR full of old Guy Code episodes. Settling in with some NyQuil and cough drops, I read through MoA, whereupon I almost felt a little emotional tug at the final pages. Now, having recuperated to the point of the sniffles and the occasional cough, my appetite Percy Jackson has been whetted, and I'm rereading The Lightning Thief while looking for some good Percy Jackson fan fiction.
To my dismay, there isn't much.
So, I wrote this in like an hour.
"How's Leo doing?"
Jason rolled his eyes, and Piper felt her lips widen in a smile as he merely shook his head, joining her in her walk through the camp, aiming nowhere in particular.
"I swear, if he doesn't kill himself from overworking, he's gonna kill the next person that tries to offer him help," her blonde almost-but-not-quite-boyfriend sighed, running a hand over his hair. He'd recently let the Aphrodite girls cut it for him (they'd appealed to Jason through Piper, because "all you have to do is give him the weepy-eyes, and he'll do whatever you say!"), so it was now mere millimeters in length.
"Why don't you ever grow it out?" Piper asked, running a hand over the bristles, and she saw his face pink a little, making her blush as well. "You'd look good with long hair."
"Long hair is a liability in battle," Jason replied instantly, the words sounding automatic. She blinked, unable to really think of anything to say, and nodded. He glanced at her, seeming to spot her discomfort, and smiled.
"Sorry," he said. "Roman stuff. Short hair isn't a requirement, but if you let it get really long, the senior legionnaires just stare at you, judging you."
She giggled, and he chuckled along with her. Feeling daring, she reached over and snagged his hand, lacing her fingers through his. He didn't pull away or show any signs of discomfort, though he fell silent, his expression thoughtful. She'd used to inwardly panic when he got all quiet (she'd mistaken it for moody/uninterested), but she'd long since accepted that he was just a quiet guy. As such, it was usually up to her to keep the conversational ball rolling.
"So, you have pretty much all your memories back?" she asked to break the silence, and he nodded.
"I mean, there's no gaping holes like before," he said. "I can remember where the camp is, all the people, Hannibal the elephant."
"Wait, Hannibal the elephant?"
Jason grinned. "I guess you could call him our mascot? He's way useful in battle."
Piper wanted to call his bluff, but while Jason Grace could tell a bald-faced lie without the slightest facial tick, she and Leo had long since come to the conclusion that he couldn't tell a joke to save his life. They suspected it was a Roman thing; perhaps they all gathered together on Tuesdays and watched DVDs of awkward comedy routines.
She was getting sidetracked.
"So, what about, um…Reyna?" she asked, and Jason stopped in his tracks, Piper wincing, a small bubble of panic swelling in her chest. Easy, Piper.
"Reyna," he muttered. "Almost forgot I told you about her."
Piper certainly didn't forget. Jason had brought up Reyna during a stargazing session one night, just as she was making a move toward their first real not-Hera-Mist-memory-implant kiss.
C'mon, a girl could only wait so long before she started sending out some gentle nudges. She wasn't outright declaring that Jason had better choose between her and "that harlot" (as her fellow Aphrodite members called Reyna) and wasn't trying to seduce him like the protagonist in some emo teen romance fantasy.
She was just…tired of this weird in-between stage, not quite going out, but not just friends anymore.
Back to the present moment, she gave Jason's hand a squeeze. "Sorry if…it's painful to remember her."
He shook his head, giving her that heart-melting smile that made some of her cabin-mates swoon.
"I remember Reyna now," he said, staring out at the strawberry fields, watching the satyrs prance through the trees, reed pipes tweeting the daily bug evacuation. "Just before…all this…I was made praetor. That's basically the highest position of authority at Camp Jupiter. There are always two. One boy, one girl, and they usually wind up a couple."
"Oh," Piper felt her heart sink, staring down at his chest. "Um…oh…."
She felt his fingers brushing her cheek. "Pipes, look at me."
She didn't want to; her eyes were stinging, and she knew if she looked up at him, the tears would start to flow. His finger went down and curled under her chin, pulling her face up to meet his. He was still smiling at her, his chiseled face as handsome as a sculpture.
"I was only praetor for a little while," he said. "Before that, Reyna and I were friends, but we didn't really talk. After I made praetor, we got closer, yeah, but nothing ever happened. It might have, but it didn't."
"Because of Hera," Piper grumbled. "She took you away."
"And put me with you," Jason said. "Piper…. I like you. I like being with you, even if we're just walking around like right now. I like…I dunno, you make me feel…comfortable. Like I don't have to be anything. I can just be Jason Grace, and that's enough for you."
"More than enough," Piper whispered. "But…none of this would've happened if you hadn't been taken away from Camp Jupiter. You'd probably be dating Reyna by now."
"But I'm not," Jason said. "I'm here with you. So what if our relationship needed a little divine intervention? It'll be a fun story to tell new couples we meet."
She laughed at that, and he felt his chest shaking as he chuckled against her. When had he wrapped his arms around her? Gods, this felt nice.
"Pipes…I want you," he said, and she felt a thrill in her stomach. "I want you to be my girlfriend for real."
"Okay, but don't kiss me yet," Piper said, her voice muffled as she buried her face in his chest.
"What?" Jason asked, sounding surprised. "Why not?"
"Because I'm crying, and I'm all gross," Piper said, and if she sounded petulant, so what?
She wanted her first real kiss with her new real-actual boyfriend to be perfect.
I can't quite get a handle around Piper and Jason, so I thought I'd kick this one out to see if I could find them. They still elude me.
Apparently, somewhere between SoN and MoA, they cemented their "couple" status, but it wasn't shown, so this is my version.
Also, Serpent's Shadow was pretty good.