Jason Grace was thoroughly pissed off.
It seemed like wherever he went, nobody could shut up about this Percy Jackson guy. Or the stuff he did, for that matter. Like today in sword-fighting, when he'd struck up a conversation with the Stoll brothers about a simple disarming technique the Ares camper in charge had just demonstrated.
"Dude," Travis said to his brother, Connor, "remember how Percy got this on his first day?"
"Oh, yeah," Connor replied. "And Luke was totally shocked. I don't think anyone had ever beaten him before."
Rolling his eyes, Jason turned away from the conversation. What hadn't this kid done? Yesterday at the head counselor's meeting, nobody could seem to go two sentences without mentioning Percy. It was a good thing Annabeth hadn't been there; nobody would dare bring up his name around her these days.
Jason stalked out of the arena. If he heard one more thing about this Percy kid, he was going to go all son-of-Jupiter on their sorry podex—not that anyone here would know what that was, of course.
He decided to head up to Half-Blood Hill—one of the only quiet spots in the whole camp, because most people were smarter than to go meeting their friends in close proximity to a giant dragon. Right now, everyone was either in their cabins or up in Bunker Nine, working with Leo on the Argo II, so Jason figured no one would bother him. Right?
"Crap," he groaned, seeing the silver-jacketed figure sitting beneath the pine tree that had once been his sister (or so he'd been told by Annabeth). He didn't realize he'd voiced his thoughts aloud until the person turned and he found himself looking back into a pair of electric blue eyes.
Jason blinked in shock. "Thalia?"
"Hey, little brother," Thalia said, grinning as she patted the ground next to her. "Come sit with me."
Seeing no other option at this point, Jason obediently sat.
"What's your problem?" the Hunter questioned, noticing the annoyed expression on her brother's face.
"Nothing," he sighed. "It's just that nobody here can shut up about this Percy dude. I mean, was he that great?"
Thalia fixed him with that unblinking blue stare that he found so unnerving. "Come on bro, it's story time."
Seeing his confused look, Thalia smiled softly. "What? I've got to make up for lost time, don't I?"
Accepting his fate silently, Jason sighed and settled in for what he was sure was going to be another Percy Jackson is amazing and you will never live up to him no matter how hard you try session.
So it was a shock to Jason when Thalia started her speech with, "Percy Jackson is the biggest moron that I have ever met. I mean, sometimes I can't believe that we're cousins!"
Smirking at Jason's staggered expression, Thalia continued, "But that idiot saved my butt so many times—gods, where do I begin?" She paused for a moment. "Oh yeah, so you know how I used to be a tree right?" Taking his nod as agreement, the daughter of Zeus continued, "Well when I got re-humanified—wait, is that even a word?"
"I—don't—know—" Jason stammered, but Thalia continued.
"Anyway, Percy was the first person that I talked to when I finally came around. It was pretty funny, actually. Everyone else was pretty much scared to Tartarus; Percy was the only one who was doing anything. Offering me nectar, asking me if I was all right. It was actually really nice."
Thalia seemed to take Jason's complete silence as a cue to keep going.
"Then we basically went on a cross-country road trip with some Hunters—no, I wasn't one at the time—and he held up the sky for Annabeth. Gods, those two are so sweet it makes me sick." Thalia's expression softened. "I swear, nobody loves anyone more than he loves her."
At that moment, Thalia looked down and seemed to remember she was a Hunter. "I never said that," she stated quickly. Glaring at Jason, Thalia repeated herself, "I never said that. Did I?"
"No, most high Huntress."
"Shut up, Jason. So yeah, I joined the Hunt, and Percy and Annabeth basically avoided each other for a year. They're like that a lot—one moment they're insulting each other, the next they're practically eating each others' faces." She mimed vomiting before turning back to him. "After that, well—after that was the battle of Manhattan, and just for the record, it was horrible. So many good people died. But that was when Percy's true leadership showed through. I swear, that guy was amazing. He pulled off so many miracles that day."
"I thought I could count on you not to worship him like the rest of the campers here," Jason sighed. "Guess I should have known I wouldn't be so lucky."
Thalia snorted derisively. "Please, Jason, I don't worship him. The kid's head is full of kelp, for crying out loud. But he's one of the most loyal, loving people I've ever met. Just—don't judge him until you've actually met him, okay?"
"All right, Thals. You know, you never told me why you're here, anyway."
Thalia shook her head and closed her eyes. "Lady Artemis is a very tolerant goddess. She knew that today was a hard day for me." Noticing Jason's confused face, Thalia quickly elaborated. "Twelve years ago today, I turned into this." She gestured up towards the pine tree towering above them.
She clapped Jason on the shoulder and stood. "I'd better go. The Hunters are about an hour away, and I'll lose their trail if I don't leave now. Say hi to Annabeth for me."
Before Jason could respond, she took off down Half-Blood Hill, sprinted into the woods, and disappeared.
Well, that was…interesting, Jason thought, standing up just as Leo came running into view, shouting "THE CLUB CAN'T EVEN HANDLE ME RIGHT NOW!"
Piper came jogging behind him, rolling her eyes. "Leo, do not start that again!"
"Were you annoying Annabeth so much that she kicked you out of Bunker Nine?" Jason sighed. "Look, man—don't start getting her angry. She's going through a lot."
Leo frowned. "Since when did you become Camp Half-Blood's psychologist?"
"Since Thalia decided it was story time."
A/N: Hey, guys. No, I'm not dead. I'm just seriously lacking inspiration for fics right now...and, you know, school happened... Anyway, huge thanks to wombat-of-awesomeness for being my collab buddy on this story. (The club can't even handle us right now.)