A/N: A short Lazel oneshot that randomly popped up in my head. Honestly, Leo/Hazel are just the cutest Leo ship out there :) I love them to bits and they deserve more stories! Anyways, Mark of Athena spoilers ahead but don't let that stop you from reading. Set right after MoA. BTW all typos are mine and this is un-beta'd. Happy reading :)


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

― Lao Tzu


Leo didn't know what love felt like.

To him, love was this great complex machine that no one – not even him – could fix. No matter how hard he tried deciphering the feelings of love, Leo Valdez would always fail. Was love getting so many stomach butterflies you wanted to puke? Was love forgetting your name when the person walked in? Was love a feeling that one got when frustration mingled with a whole lot of stress?

Leo could not answer.

Many times he had been called the odd-one-out, the seventh wheel, the one that would ruin it all. He was the unnecessary one in the group; he was just another turn in the cog.

But once in a while, Leo would feel more than just a freak with fire. He would feel like a part of the group. Not just another pawn in Gaea's game, he would feel complete.

Percy was gone.

Annabeth was gone.

Five of the seven remained.

Guilt was one of the first feelings Leo felt. Nauseating and stomach-churning guilt that filled every pore of his body.

He should've gotten Annabeth before the statue. He should've untangled her and Percy before untangling the blasted Athena Parthenos.

But sometimes, Leo's hands spoke for themselves.

After the fall into Tartarus, Leo took count of the group. One washed-out son of Jupiter. Check. One injured but standing straight daughter of Aphrodite. Check. One angrily depressed son of Mars. Check. One half-dead, starving and crippled son of Hades. Check. And one grave-faced and concerned daughter of Pluto who was currently in the same mood as Leo. Check and check.

Nico di Angelo was one of the most intriguingly spine-chilling demigods Leo had ever met. The dark-clothed, pale-faced son of Hades gave him the Tia-Callida-creeps.

"They're not dead," Nico had said. "I could've felt it."

He had said Percy and Annabeth would survive the depths of Tartarus... but if only this group found the other Door of Death. And it was up to Leo to lead them there.

"Admiral Leo reporting for duty," he had managed with a lopsided grin before crashing onto the starboard deck. Fatigue and lethargy filled his veins, but nothing ADHD Leo Valdez couldn't shake off.

"So, where's our destination?" he had asked Jason. "Where do we find this other Door of Death?"

"Epirus, Greece," Hazel had answered timidly; the struggle had taken a lot out of her. "Or at least according to Nico. He says the other Door was there."

Leo had nodded and quickly retreated to his chambers – or his captain's quarters – he liked to call it, to quickly route out a way as fast as possible. All the while thinking about what had happened over the last few days.

Went to Roman camp and was possessed by weird-evil-spirit things.

Met with goddess of revenge and was offered evil fortune cookie of doom.

Broke fortune cookie in exchange for the loss of two powerful friends.

Found out was great-grandson of friend's dead crush.

Potentially may have crush on friend who was friends with great-grandfather.

As he battled with these multifarious feelings, another thought would always snake into his head.

Hazel.

Hazel was as far from a dead person as Leo could get. She was this being made of joy and liveliness. Every time Leo was near her, he would feel more... alive.

Leo fell for every girl he met; every girl he knew would turn him down. But Hazel... Hazel was this completely different story.

Never in his life had Leo met a girl like her. A girl who actually liked him and could relate to him. When they had shared that memory, it was like a new chapter in his whole life had been opened.

But Hazel was Frank's boyfriend, thus out-of-bounds.

Leo didn't know what he felt for Hazel. He was she was his friend, but some of the moments they had shared seemed to have proved that theory wrong. Could it be possible if—

"Leo?"

Leo jumped in surprise, his fingers frozen over the ship's navigation system. He had been down in his quarters for over an hour, setting course for Epirus, not keeping track of his surroundings.

He looked up and saw Hazel, her curly brown hair tied in a loose pony-tail and her eyes glittering like gold. It was all Leo could do but not to reach out and wrap his finger around a strand of her hair.

"Uh, hi," Leo said, forcing a crooked smile, deftly tapping in a few commands. "Need anything, Hazel?"

"What? Oh, no," Hazel answered as she walked over to him. Leo saw her faced creased in concern. "It's just you've been down here for a long time and we were wondering if, you know, you had fallen asleep or something."

Leo put on a mock-look of hurt and placed a hand over his heart. "What, me – Admiral Leo – fall asleep while on the job? Psh, I was made for this stuff. Besides, things like this require professional skill and awesomeness. How can you deny that I have both?"

Hazel managed a slight laugh and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Well," she remarked, "what have you been doing down here? I mean, were you building a bridge or something?"

"Yep," Leo replied, grinning. "A bridge to Narnia."

"To... where?!"

"Never mind."

He went back to working in silence.

After several moments of calm, Hazel took a deep breath. "I'm sure we can do it," she said. "We can and will find the Doors of Death."

Leo looked up hesitantly, locking eyes with Hazel. It was still eerie to think that she had once fallen for his great-grandfather. But at the same time, fate had brought them together...

He swallowed. "How are you so sure?" he asked. For the first time in a long time, Leo allowed some anxiety flow into his words. He was frightened, and this time he wasn't afraid to admit it.

Hazel bit her lip. "Because you're here," she stated, "and we're here. And everyone's here. We were brought here for a reason and I'm sure we can do it together."

Leo looked down at his grease-caked sneakers. Was it true? Would it really work?

"I guess you're right," he said. "I mean, what's life without Leo?"

Hazel laughed and stepped forward. Soon she was face-to-face with Leo. For a moment, Leo was apprehensive, worried about what might happen - before Hazel leant forward on her tip-toes, and gently pressed a kiss against his cheek.

"Hard to imagine," she whispered. "Now, hurry up and finish. We don't know how long Percy and Annabeth have."

And just like that, she was gone.

It was a friendly kiss, a gesture of appreciation. But to Leo, it meant so much more. It filled him with new hope and new strength. It gave him something he realize he hadn't needed before...

Courage.

Fin.


A/N: Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed it :) Please leave a REVIEW with thoughts, feedback and just about anything. Please check out my other stories and once again, REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW! More Lazel to come later :D

Peace, Love, and Nutella! (with some Lazel too) xx cuteypuffgirl