"You know you're in love when you can't asleep, because reality is finally better than your dreams" - Dr Seuss.
The first time Leo dreams of Hazel it's so vivid he hasn't completely convinced himself it was a dream; the smell of her cinnamon curls is so intense and the gold of her eyes seemed so rich that it couldn't even be dream-worthy.
Leo outstretched his left hand, which recently had a comfortable spot under his pillow, and let his fingers entangle in Hazel's hair. He could feel her own fingers tracing pointless markings on his cheeks.
Leo can actually hear himself purr inwardly as he senses Hazel coming closer and he swallows some saliva back down and then -
She kisses him. Hazel kisses him. Hazel kisses Leo. And it's not like a super lusty kiss, it's a soft kiss, a first kiss that he expected from Hazel.
And then his eyes open, and he can hear the hums and groans of the Argo II Argot sails in open sky.
Leo sighs and turns to his side - where he sees no Hazel, just a empty, colder side of the bed.
But he swears he can smell her curls. Leo swears it.
Percy and Annabeth's absence lurks in the air - mocking them. No one can smell that faint scent of the sea that Percy carried with him everywhere he went, and, gods, no one even wanted to talk about Annabeth. Not one of them even mentioned her name, not out of anything negative -
Except for shame.
Because they were all there, they were all helping and any one of them could've help, one of them could've saved her. The only one not feeling the entire burden was Nico who, of course, tried to help. And at least Hazel screamed for help, but the rest of them, including Leo, was too busy with the statue.
The statue - it seemed to laugh at them all now. Leo was so proud of himself for getting it safely out of Arachne's cave, but now it was just seemed like a big bully like haha you cared more about me than your only friends lol.
And now there's just five of them, well, five plus a big goat man who tries to give them push-ups and tells them to buck up and calls them Nancy and such. But there's still five demigods on board now. Five that should be seven.
Jason and Piper pretty much make a lot of the decisions and no one else questions it, because they've earned it. No one else is really fit to take on the leader position, and who better than the freaking son of Zeus and daughter of call me pretty or thou shall die.
And then there's Hazel and Frank, or Hazel and Leo, or even Frank and Nico. But Leo is never in any fold. He tries to keep away from Hazel, and she probably notices, but he keeps a clear away from Hazel anyway. Because if Frank or Nico found out he'd been having dreams about a particular lady with pretty golden eyes and luscious dark skin and cinnamon curls than he'd get thrown off the ship so damn fast.
And there's so much whirling through Leo's head nowadays that any moment he might explode. But still, when things get too heavy it goes on deck and stirs, and hopes the soft clouds calm him down (oh, and don't happen to be super evil wind spirits)
The sound of the Argo flying is the most relaxing sound in all the cosmos to Leo, but right now it just reminds him of the cold. Hell, he's hot enough for every single person on board, but no one wants to cuddle up near the fire (the fire being Leo, of course)
The metal just reminds him of how he might always be alone, alone with his cold metal and no organic life form to hold. And Leo doesn't really know when he finally fell asleep to the humming of the ship, but he knows he's asleep now because Hazel's lying above him, with a million dollar smile.
Leo returns the smile and reaches up to pull Hazel down to him, and he doesn't know how but his body heats up to her like a furnace, and he closes his eyes, and lets dream Hazel hold him all night.
He's really used to this.
Piper is the first one to notice him acting weird. Well, of course she is, she's the daughter of Aphrodite and if anyone knows stupid dreamy love-dovey kissy-wissy expressions it's her.
"Okay, what's up?"
"Just the sky," Leo jokes, flashing a dumb grin. But it doesn't faze Piper, it never does.
Piper takes a seat in the mess hall and Leo stuffs his hands in his pockets and sort of balances on his tip-toes before relaxing.
"I know something's up, so what is it?" Piper says, eyeing him for anything else.
And Leo can't believe she wants to go into therapy mood right now, but knows if not now she's just going to pester him all day when she could be pestering Jason and he can't have that. So he takes a seat across from her and tries to find some beginning sentence to his story.
But Piper snatches the words from his mouth and says, "Is it Hazel again?"
Leo's head spins on automatic at the sound of Hazel's name. "Wh-What?"
"I was right, it's Hazel. You still like her?"
"Like is more of a understatement, Pipes." Leo replies, his gaze leaving Piper's scrutinizing face and to the laces of his shoes. "I really, really like her."
"Leo, no." Piper interrupts firmly, crossing her arms to her turquoise blouse.
And Leo remembers when he first saw Piper and hit on her and how she replied pretty much the same way with the exact same tone.
Leo almost laughs because he knows what this means. Just no.
"She's with Frank, and I know you like her, but you can't hit on Hazel and be Frank's friend at the same time -"
"And I can't like Hazel and just be her friend either,"
"Yeah - well, I - Ugh, thank you, mom!" Piper shouts sarcastically, throwing her hands up in the air while Leo scratches his head. "Listen," she begins when she recovers from her outburst. "We're stopping in a while to get some supplies, Frank and I will be gone, do you think you can. . relax with it just being you and Hazel?"
"Where are Coach Hedge, Nico, and Jason going? Are they furniture now?"
"Do you think you can relax with it just being and you Hazel, Leo?" Piper repeats the question with narrowed eyes.
Leo almost tries to say something else clever, but nothing comes through but a firm, "Yes." and he watches as Piper gets up from her seat and starts walking away. But she does, of course, look back with one of her don't do anything stupid while I'm not here looks.
And it's too early for a look like that, Leo hadn't even had cereal yet.
What's funny about Jason Grace is that the guy can freakin' make lightning-bolts appear and start raucous storms but in truth he's just as dense as any other guy in the world.
Coach Hedge has more swag than this guy.
And it's funny to watch Piper struggle to make him understand something romantic and also try to keep him from completely embarrassing himself. It's not like any of them would laugh at him or anything, but still.
And as far as Nico and Coach Hedge go, Coach Hedge has enough of a job keeping Jason from impregnating Piper, and Leo felt that if Piper had her way she would live off of Jason like one of those parasites in one of those Sci-Fi movies. And Nico is only kinda-sorta apart of the group, because he's grateful they saved him, but at the same time, Leo's pretty sure he's not a real people person, so he keeps himself back.
And Leo knows Piper trusts him (or as much as Piper could trust him) but he also knows she probably tipped Jason off about him and Hazel and told him to keep a sharp eye on the two of them.
And Leo pretty much envies Frank because as far as he knows they're all past all the relationship, 91210-but-with-demigods malarkey and that simply isn't the case. Or, at least not for Leo.
Hazel hasn't really spoken at all, she probably thinks Leo doesn't notice (or cares) and in her own way, she's sort of clueless about things, too. So when Hazel walks into the mess hall, yawning, Leo freezes. Should he leave or should he go? He freezes because he's uncomfortable but he also freezes because even in the crack of dawn, Hazel still looks dazzling, with her pajamas (decorated with horses - Leo thinks Arion might like those) on and her walk slightly lop-sided.
She sits down by the table and grabs a piece of hot toast, and takes a huge bite out of it, leaving small crumbs on the sides of her lips. And Leo might just be dumb, but he notices that she avoids his eyes, almost as if he were indecent or something (oh no, if he were naked she'd start fanning herself)
"You okay," Leo asks nervously, his voice shakes slightly as he pours the milk into his bowl of cheerios.
Hazel does really answer, just nods curtly. Leo nods back and seals the lid back on the milk, and sets it down. He doesn't really know whether to push the conversation further or just leave it in the dessert to die. And before he gets a chance to say one more thing Hazel jumps.
"Ah! Oh no!" she exclaims, bolting from her seat.
"What?" Leo asks, walking to where she was sitting and -
On the chair, and on the floor were at least fifteen pearly diamonds shining and gleaming in the sunshine, Leo blinks a couple of times.
"Don't touch them," she pushes him away, and bents down to scoops up as many as she can and tries to stand and leave.
"How are you going to get all that booty out the door?"
Hazel's head snaps in his direction, eyes widened. "Excuse me?"
"The. . ermm. ." Leo just now realizes how weird the sentence was and doubles back. "The. .the diamonds, the - I mean . . um .. "
And Hazel just rolls her eyes and leaves him to his stuttering.
Leo just stands there for a couple of seconds before he blames Jason for this happening. He was supposed to be watching them, anyway.
Frank and Piper finally get back from shopping for supplies (mostly medicine for future demigod injuries and concussions on Jason's part) but they mostly have the ambrosia and nectar, so all that was in the bags were bandages and wrappings and for some reason lotion (or was it ointment?) that Piper just stashed in a cabinet for later.
But Leo did notice Piper's very clear expression, were you a good boy while I was gone?
Leo just wished he had the expression that meant ask your boyfriend oh right he fell asleep and let me make a total ass of myself.
Leo gives Hazel her space as much as he can after that ordeal. He doesn't even know if she got rid of the diamonds (or how she disposed of them) or not.
But it unnerves him even more that he doesn't dream of her life he did anymore.
When Piper notices Leo's still acting the same way, she finally gets the truth out of him about the dreams and Leo can't even believe she's looking at him with her forever color-changing eyes like he can actually control what he dreams about.
She shoves a chip in her mouth and lets the bag rest on her side, pushing some chocolate hair from her vision before saying, "Well, isn't it good you're not having these dreams anymore?"
"Yeah, I. . I guess." Leo replies.
In truth, he doesn't know what to think of him not having Hazel-oriented dreams anymore. The guilt he felt for having the dreams had finally subsided, but -
It reminded him of how lonely he was. And without the dreams, Leo had to shrug at the thought, it made him even lonelier. If that was possible.
And apparently it was.
He'd been flying the ship for hours and to be honest Argo just couldn't take anymore so when he finally settled in a woods and watched everyone get off, Leo rubbed the wooden surface to try and soothe his poor shippy-poo.
He gets off himself, and sees that Hazel had frozen.
"Hazel?" Frank says, peering over to look at her face, concern-stricken. "Are you okay?"
"Y-Yeah. . .but. . this. ."
"What? What's wrong with this place? Leo?" Frank says, as if to say where the hell did you land us and why is it making my girlfriend uncomfortable?
But Hazel answers, "This is New Orleans."
Nico raises his head, and Leo's sees Hazel's golden eyes turn a even deeper shade.
Leo doesn't know why he keeps stepping in it left and right, but he really can't say sorry enough and despite Argo's creaking he sails off again with the crew. Although Hazel said she was okay and would even like to show them around and see how much the city had changed.
And Leo was totally up for that if the suggestion didn't make her seem so sad. And why shouldn't it make her feel sad? Being in New Orleans would just remind her that she was over ninety years old and Leo knew it. She doesn't need reminders that if the gods and the universe (or, just Hera, yeah, just blame Hera, or Juno, or whatever) weren't so cruel she could've had a normal life in her own time and married and had kids and could've been spared all the pain.
But the thing that hurts Leo the most is that he doesn't know how to make it better. Leo sits in his room, and holds out his hand, watching a tiny little candle fire erupt in his palm. And he's so caught up in the fragile (no, fire was never fragile, never.) flame that he didn't notice the door creak open and close.
"Pretty fire," Hazel says, and Leo's head raises so fast he think he might've cracked something. "I didn't mean to sound like such a caveman right then," she continues, smiling sheepishly.
Leo gulps and stays silent, watching as Hazel walks slowly towards him and eases down on his bed, sitting with her hands politely tucked in her lap.
"Hazel. . listen. . .I'm really sorry. It's just me. . . me and -"
"Organic lifeforms?" Hazel finished, smile still stiched on her face. "Yeah, we all know, Leo. We know you're a tactless little thing."
"So you're not mad?"
"It could've been worse, at least you didn't drop us in Alaska."
Leo laughs nervously as he doesn't think he'd ever heard a more accurate description of anything in his life. The laughter stops abruptly when one of Hazel's hands moves from her lap to his knee.
And Leo feels it's time to come clean, to clear the air, so he starts to say, "I'v -"
"I've been having dreams about you, Leo."
That feels better. . .Wait, what?
"You - You've been having -"
"Yes." Hazel's says, and now she looks just as ashamed as he'd been feeling. "Not very lady-like, huh?"
"What - I - Hazel -"
"Wait, Leo. . " Hazel tells him, and Leo silences himself, his mind still whirling. "I. . I broke up with Frank. And. . I told him it was because with everything going on, I didn't think we should have any. . you know, distractions. Which was kind of a lie and a truth, because, well, I am worried and I am scared, but if there's anything I need right now it's someone to hold."
"But. . he's not the one I want to hold. . " Hazel finishes, giving Leo a meaningful look.
"Is it Jason?" Leo blurts
Hazel blinks. "What, no! Piper would kill me, number one, and number two. . I'm talking about you, Leo."
For a minute Leo honestly doesn't think this is truly happening; that this is just another dream, and the extremely real feeling of Hazel's soft hand or the intensity of her gaze is just a dream.
"Are you okay?" Hazel asks, tilting her head.
"Hm?" Leo says, purposely avoiding the shine of her eyes. "Yeah - I just -. . I like you too, Hazel. And I want to. . ."
What? I want to hold you and let you absorb my warmth? Well, that's what he wishes he could say, but what it really be that easy? Just say it?
But Hazel was too busy moving her hand, that was a second ago so interested in massaging his knee, and placed it on his face. Leo turned to look at her, And he saw that the flame coiling in his hand had grown a bit brighter.
And he doesn't really remember her leaning towards him, all he realizes is that Hazel's pink lips had covered his own, her arms wrapping themselves around his neck. And it's not like in his dreams, it's not a kind little peck or a sweet smooch. It's a kiss. And there's no cute noun Leo can possibly think of to describe it or minimize it.
Leo shivers noticeably as he feels Hazel's front teeth graze over his lower lip, and Leo gets a bit more brave and lets his own arms snake around her waist as Hazel scoots closer to him.
Hazel, after what seemed like a lifetime, finally pulls back and watches him. Her eyes looking from his left and right ones, waiting for some sign of acceptance.
And the only thing Leo can say is, "How do you think Frank'll feel about this?"
"I want him to be happy for me, and not kill you."
"Easier said than done, Haze," Leo tells her. "You're talking about a guy who turn into any man-eating species on earth."
"Oh, come on, he wouldn't - anyway," Hazel says, sighing as she really doesn't know what Frank will do when he finds out he'd been right all along. "I'm old enough to know what I want, and all I really want is you."
Leo doesn't argue anymore, in fear he'll say something really dumb or tactless and ruin it all. He watches as Hazel scoots up the bed and rests her curl infested head on one of his fluffy blue pillows, and gestures he should do the same.
And he does, and gets in the most comfortable position he can and lets his hand curve over Hazel's shoulder and pulls her closer. Her hand rests on his chest. Leo can feel his body heat up as it had done before in one of his dreams..
"Gee, I hope we don't crash into a rock or something, that would suck. . "
"Leo." Hazel says, exasperated.
"Sorry, night, Haze."
Maybe he'll sleep better now.