"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."

Those words ran through Leo's head constantly. Whether he was fixing the Argo II, fighting monsters, hitting on girls, cracking jokes, or lying in his bed. It was always the same thing…playing like a stupid broken record.

"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."

Leo had tried to blow it off, thinking the Goddess was just messing with him. He tried to put on his fake smile and make his jokes to help him forget. For a while he convinced himself everything was fine, that he was thinking too much.

Try not to think, it interferes with being nuts.

You aren't just nuts. You're bolts, you're screws…you're a pile of tools for them to use then throw away until they need you again.

STOP IT. Just...stop.

"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."

He would pilot the Argo IIfor hours on end and turn to his friends for company, but they had all the company they needed. Percy had Annabeth. Hazel had Frank. Jason had Piper. Even Coach Hedge had his movies and magazines. All Leo had was a dragon head that would creak and whistle at him. Not exactly built for small talk.

All he had was his machines.

He finally started to realize that he wasthe seventh wheel, the odd man out, the lonely "repair boy". He kept up his act though, he couldn't take the thought of his friends losing hope despite all they had been through. So, he kept them together without even an acknowledgment.

They're just catching up before we fight Gaea, before we die. Everything will be fine after we stop the war. Then we can hang out. But who wants to catch up with me? Who wants to talk to the mechanic? Who wants to talk to Leo "Seventh Wheel" Valdez?

He'd try to talk to them to be blown off like an annoying gnat, thinking him stupid…until they needed him like a wrench in a dusty tool box.

"You wouldn't understand Leo."

"Now's not the time for jokes, Valdez."

"Can't talk now, busy working on battle plans."

"Maybe later, repair boy."

"See if so and so wants to hang out with you."

"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."

All Leo had was his machines, but even they couldn't talk to him.

After the war, things never picked up. Sure, he felt needed by getting them to the Doors of Death; but his need was gone as much as it came. Getting home was a piece of cake, aside from some storms and monsters but Leo kept the group together; not wanting their spirits to dampen after all they had been through. Leo kept up his act of being the funny repair boy.

Humor was a good way to hide the pain.

He was welcomed back to Camp Half-Blood as a hero, they had a feast, they had fun, and they loved Leo…for a while. They just as soon tossed him to the side of the workshop, they all had someone to come back home too. Everyone except Leo. Jason had Thalia, Piper had her dad, despite their differences, Annabeth and Percy had their family, Frank had his grandma, and Hazel had Nico. They were all happy to be back with their families and loved ones…

All he had was his machines.

They never truly left Leo. They stayed close to him, but just close enough so they could ask for his help when they needed it. He always helped. Despite being the seventh wheel, he always helped people. Leo always found time for people around him, but no one found time for him. Even his brothers and sisters were too busy for him, except when they needed help with forging.

"Leo, help us with the automatons."

"Leo, help us with Bunker 9."

"Leo, help us with Archimedes' work."

That's all he was, he was a tool in their work belt. He was a prop in the background of everyone's lives to only being noticed when he was needed…and even then….

"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."

It had been a few months since the war, Leo sat on the beach with his knees up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. Nothing had gotten better for him. He sat there and stared for hours, wondering what problem he would have to fix next, what machine would break, what relationship he would have to help mend, what project would come up next, what person would put up with Leo for a few hours to get what they wanted. He sat and stared, watching the waves roll across the sandy Earth.

So calm, so peaceful, so sad.

It reminded him of how the camp acted now, now that they were in a new age of peace.

So calm, so peaceful, so lonely.

He snapped his fingers and a small flame danced on his grease covered fingers. Casting a small glow on his face, a small light of hope that it would get better. But, Leo was smarter than that. He knew it never would.

Would they even care if I left?

Would they even notice?

Would they even look?

He heard a throat clear behind him as he sat and watched the flame. He quickly put on his fake smile, the one he perfected to hide his feelings, and closed his hand to snuff out the flame. He turned around ready to fix someone's problem, ready to cherish those few moments of someone putting up with the lonely mechanic.

"You will always be the outsider, the seventh wheel."