A/N: Another Lazel one-shot since my last one got so much positive feedback! It's nice to know you guys enjoy all the Lazelity. Anywho, this one's longer and bit more angsty than the last. Unbeta'd and all mistakes are mine. Happy reading :)
DISCLAIMER: Anything you realize does not belong to me. That (unfortunately) includes Leo. *le sob*
"It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars."
― Richard Evans
Leo Valdez couldn't sleep.
One moment he was half-dead and ready to flop down onto bed, and the next minute it was as if he had taken three shots of espresso and felt more alive than ever.
The son of Hephaestus, lay in his custom-made bed, staring at the ceiling. It was day two of their journey to Epirus, Greece; their journey to the Doors of Death and potentially Annabeth and Percy.
After six hours of constant steering, just about any sane person would punch the clock. But whoever this sane person was, he/she did not know Leo Valdez. Leo was overhyped with adrenaline and never let his eyes leave the horizon. Even after Coach Hedge pried his fingers away from the steering wheel, Leo's eyes never left the blood orange evening sky.
He was shaken, there was no admitting it. Two of the most powerful demigods he knew were gone. Another four of them were on the brink of death by exhaustion, and he himself wasn't sure if he could take the pressure.
Right now, sleeping was the least of his worries.
Leo's eyes were glued to his ceiling. He had specially programmed it to reflect the night sky. Right now, a cluster of stars were making their way across the horizon. Delicate strands of light crisscrossing with orbs of glitter against the dark background seemed to hypnotize Leo. A dull lull fell over him, but nothing strong enough to overcome his temporary insomnia.
When the first footsteps came, they were relatively light and barely noticeable. But they were noticeable enough for Leo, who had perked up his ears at every audible sound. He would know if Piper had snored, five cabins over, or if Jason had sneezed, two decks up. Euphoric at the apparent opportunity of having an excuse for not sleeping, he threw on an acceptable shirt (his Bob the Builder pajamas would not suffice), and grabbed his ever-trusty toolbelt. He found himself humming the Ghostbusters theme song without realizing it.
Leo trudged over to his door, deftly unlocking its sixteen high-tech security measures. Maybe he was paranoid, maybe he was not, but there was one thing he knew and that was footsteps at night - when everyone was asleep -were definitely not a good sign.
The door made the slightest creak and the softest bang when he opened and closed it. He plucked out a flashlight from his toolbelt, using it to illuminate the lightless hallway.
By the time Leo had reached the upper deck, a small shred of common sense had fought its way into him. It was most probably nothing more than a stray pigeon, or maybe a rogue Pegasus high on donuts. Nothing he'd never dealt with before.
The night was young, the moon a slice of angelic white in the midnight black sky. Stars shone in brilliant constellations, and for the first time in a long time, Leo didn't miss the city lights.
But as quickly as the rare blanket of safety had encased him, it quickly dissipated, because Leo remembered what he was here for.
His teeth chattered when he felt the light ocean breeze caress his face. Son of fire, he might've been, but he wished he had brought a jacket.
After enveloping himself in a light film of heat, Leo raked his eyes around the deck. The ship was on auto-pilot, and Festus the dragonhead stirred in his slumber. A faint hum was issued from the masthead, as if to say I'm still here, bro. Overall, everything seemed normal.
Except for the figure standing on the edge of the starboard, of course.
At first, Leo thought it was an intruder. His hands groped at his tool belt, trying to find any weapons of any sort, when the figure turned.
When Leo first saw the curly hair, Coach Hedge immediately sprang to mind. Then eyes as luminous as gold came into view; instantaneous reprieve washed over him.
The name escaped him before he could guarantee himself that this was the daughter of Pluto. But when the figure stepped forward into the moonlight, all doubts were dispelled.
"Leo?" Hazel asked hesitantly. Her curly hair flew across her face in the crisp ocean wind and she was wearing her regular attire of denim. One look at her eyes, which were outlined by bags, reassured Leo she was facing the same situation as him.
"Couldn't sleep?" Leo inquired, looping his hands into his belt. Talking with Hazel in daylight was awkward enough, but talking to her all alone at the dead of the night? Forget it.
Hazel answered with a curt nod of the head before turning back to the sea. "It's been difficult," she admitted, "with Percy and Annabeth gone."
"Yeah, but," Leo continued, walking over to her, "your brother's back, and – and we're pretty close to our destination. So, things are looking up, right?"
Hazel leaned against the starboard with her eyes closed. Leo hoped she wasn't feeling seasick.
"I don't know," she answered after a while. "I don't know if things are looking up. I don't know if things are looking down. I don't if we're going to reach Epirus in time. In fact, I don't know anything right now!"
Her last words were punctuated with a slam of the fist and a burst of anxiety and aggravation. Upon closer inspection, Leo realized – with a shock – that tears were making their way down Hazel's face.
"Uh, Hazel?" Leo said apprehensively. "Are you, uh, are you...okay?"
It was a stupid question to ask, but it was the only one Leo – who had no experience whatsoever with crying girls – managed to say. His hands fumbled with a piece of string in his toolbelt.
Hazel sniffled before reaching up wipe her nose with the back of her hand. She didn't answer but Leo felt as though she had said what she wanted to.
"Hazel, um..." Leo's voice seemed to die in his mouth. He stood stoic for a moment, contemplating what to do. So far, only two options had come to life in his head: stay and comfort her or bolt.
Right now, the bolt option was looking really good.
Slowly, he walked over to her, careful to avoid making sudden sounds. She was leaning against the ledge, mouth drawn in a straight line. Lines of tears were streaking down her cheeks.
He was hesitant, but Leo withdrew his hands from his pockets. Cautiously, he placed the flats of his palm on Hazel's shoulders, and gently turned her towards him.
"Hey, Hazel," Leo managed in his most comforting voice. "It's, uh, it's going to be okay. I mean, we made it this far right?"
A shuddering breath later, Hazel meekly nodded.
"So, there's no need to, um, cry. I mean, we're gonna make it. You believe that right?"
Another tentative nod.
"Everything's going to be alright. We've got your brother back, and we're going to do the same with... Percy and, uh, Annabeth."
"But what if we fail?" Hazel shrilly whispered. What if we don't get Annabeth and Percy in time? What if –"
"Hazel." Leo's voice was steely and had a hint of amusement in it. "Do you honestly think we're not going to save Percy and Annabeth?"
A strident sigh escaped Hazel. "Right now," she said, "I'm not sure."
Leo shook her. "Well, I'm sure. We've got the combined forces of Lighting Boy, Beauty Queen, Animal Man, Death the Kid, and –" Leo's voice caught in his throat. "And you," he finished gravelly. "We've got the help of a freaking awesome daughter of Pluto who can summon riches from the ground and make 'em go BOOM in the faces of her enemies. All of combined to go save a scary son of Poseidon and an even scarier daughter of Athena. That – in my opinion – is the best freaking demigod team in history. And you seriously doubt if we're going to make it? Well then, you, Hazel Levesque, are a pessimistic idiot."
He stopped to catch his breath after finished off his mini-motivational-speech. Leo looked up at Hazel, afraid she was going to angry at him for calling her an idiot.
With relief, he saw the corners of her mouth slightly tilt upward. She was smiling.
Wordlessly, Hazel leaned forward and slipped her arms around him in a hug. Frozen and unsure of what to do, Leo simply stood there and awkwardly patted her on the back. She was just an inch shorter than him, which was short, so the top of her head came up to his nose. Hazel smelled like coffee and lilacs; a surprisingly soothing combination. Suddenly Leo was aware of how close she was to him; he could feel her warmth radiate through him.
"Thanks, Leo," she whispered into his shirt. "I am an idiot."
Leo managed a nervous laugh, trying to keep from running his hands through her hair. "Uh, yeah," he said awkwardly. "Told 'ya so."
Hazel breathily laughed into his shoulder. They stood like for a moment, Leo gritting his teeth and attempting to make use of the situation, before Hazel detached herself from him.
Her eyes were puffy; her face blotchy and red; her hair was tousled and unkempt, but it was in that moment Leo thought she had never looked more beautiful.
The two locked eyes for a moment, dark brown surveying gold before Hazel dropped her gaze to her feet.
She cleared her throat.
"Uh, I should go," she said, not looking at Leo. "It's getting really late." She looked back up at him. "Thanks for, uh, that," she told him, "it meant a lot."
"No problem," Leo replied hoarsely. "Leo Valdez is the new Dr. Phil in town."
Showing no sign of understanding that reference, Hazel simply laughed before turning around. Leo's eyes followed her as she disappeared below deck.
If only, if only...
Leo ran his hands through his hair. Why did love have to be so complicated? Why couldn't it be like a machine; merely a press of this button and twirl of that screw and presto: one batch of love coming up? But, no, this wasn't Leo World. This was real life, and in real life Aphrodite messed everything up.
"Get a grip of yourself, Valdez," he muttered to himself. "You won't defeat Gaea by falling in love with one of your friends."
Grudgingly, he hauled himself forward toward the stairs. He was halfway to opening the door when he saw it.
A small streak of light, brighter than the others, appeared in the night sky. Leo watched mesmerized as it danced around the night sky, sparks flying around it in a swirl of colors. It was golden one minute, silver the next.
A shooting star.
Leo never grew up with superstitions and he didn't have much time for those while running for his life. But then again, if all myths were supposedly true, then why not shooting stars...?
Closing his eyes, Leo made his wish. Not out-loud, but softly in his mind. He knew it was trivial but at the same time essential. Moments later, the star dipped low into the horizon, and disappeared.
Leo opened his eyes.
The next morning, during breakfast, Leo saw Hazel. She was looking considerably happier than she had last night. In fact, everyone was looking more noticeably cheerful.
"Nice today, eh?" Jason asked, getting up from his seat. "Feels...lucky."
"I know what you mean," Piper replied, picking at her scrambled eggs. "Anyone else feel a bit... different?"
"Yeah," Frank put in. "More pumped. As if today will go better than yesterday. A bit tingly, but maybe that's me."
"It feels hopeful," Hazel concluded, her gold eyes glittering. "A lot more hopeful than usual."
"Maybe today will be different from the rest," Leo said. "We might have some success for a change."
Trying to ignore the look Hazel shot at him, Leo hid his grin in his bowl of soggy Cheerios. His wish had come true; the wish wasn't to get Hazel to fall for him, nor would the day be better than the last. The wish was simple. Leo had wished for one thing, a thing many of them needed:
A/N: And that's that. Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed it blah blah blah please leave a review, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Feedback is essential. I tried my best to keep the characters in character, opinions? Also: if any of you hardcore Lazel fans are interested, I have an Ask Lazel blog on Tumblr, the link is on my profile. Anyways, hope I satiated your Lazel feels and don't forget to REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW. Hearing your opinions on my writing is the most gratifying part of my day :)
Until next time:
Peace, Love, and Nutella! xx cuteypuffgirl