Hey there! This is a short, pointless little ficlet written for PJO Ship Weeks (Leyna week finally! Totally had to contribute to this one). It was inspired by Mayday Parade's song "Anywhere But Here." Give it a listen, you won't regret it :)
Fair warning, this has some pretty suggestive themes. It's a sort of high T rating, but definitely not too extreme. It's kind of removed from the series timeline, set a bit in the future.
Part of me kind of wants to make a longer fic out of this, but for now I'm sticking with a one-shot.
Reyna hated Senate meetings.
As praetor, it was her responsibility to be present, punctual, and proper – the three P's that she had repeated to herself ever since the first time she'd donned her purple cloak. She was expected to be respectful and attentive, as well as appear interested no matter how trivial the topic of discussion. Her speech had to be clear and her decisions fair. If she so much as slouched or glanced at the ceiling, she ran the risk of looking bored and offending those around her. At first, Reyna had relished the challenge that came with the authority. But after so long, she had begun to find it tiring.
"Do you agree, Reyna?"
Reyna glanced to her right toward Octavian, her face expertly masking her mild surprise at his having asked for her opinion. He was, unsurprisingly, also a contributing factor to her growing disdain for her position. In the past year since Jason had moved permanently to New York to be with Piper and Octavian had finally risen to the position of praetor – a shift he had endlessly assured her would make her own job easier – she had found that her stress levels had risen exponentially. If Octavian had been pushy and obnoxious as augur, the added position of power had made him even more so. He was like a child who had just had a taste of icing and now wouldn't rest until he'd eaten the entire cake.
"I think it's an apt solution," Reyna answered the question put to her. "As we stand, the hills beyond the Field of Mars are wholly unprotected. We've been attacked from that ground before. It's an ideal location to build the land docking for the fleet." Octavian offered her an agreeable smile, and she noticed clearly that it didn't quite reach his eyes.
Reyna had to walk a fine line where it came to sharing the praetorship with Octavian. If she argued with him too much, she would appear belligerent. Not to mention the fact that he was far more eloquent than she was, which would end up making her look even worse. If she let him do all the talking, however, people might mistake her silence for carelessness or disinterest, which she wanted even less. Reyna had always hated speech and preferred to let her actions do the talking, and having to take extra care in every word she said only made that feeling grow. She was sure to state her opinion where it needed to be stated, but not to appear too argumentative. All in all, it was very trying.
"My thoughts exactly," Octavian replied, his voice smooth and oily. "All in favor?" Unsurprisingly, the entire Senate raised their hands. "Then it's settled," Octavian said with finality, rising to his feet and thus signaling the remainder of the room to do the same. "I'd like construction to begin as soon as possible. For the safety of the city, of course. Now there's only the matter of electing an overseer."
Reyna stepped forward before he could continue, taking the chance to interrupt without cutting him off and appearing rude. "Leo Valdez," she recited, eyeing the demigod in question and determinedly avoiding Octavian's gaze. "You were in charge of the construction and assembly of the fleet, and have done a more than acceptable job, as I'm sure my fellow praetor will agree." She chanced a glance at Octavian to find his face expressionless, though his eyes seemed darker than they had seconds before. "If you're willing, we'd like you to take command of this project as well."
From the second row, Leo looked back and forth between Reyna and Octavian, a small smile on his face. "Sure," he said simply. "Whatever you guys need."
When Octavian had first proposed the idea of constructing an aerial fleet, he was met with mixed reactions. Reyna had been reluctant at first, not having seen the need in the beginning. But she had to admit that once he'd explained the benefits, even she had had her opinion swayed. Originally, he'd wanted a full-scale fleet – two hundred ships each fully outfitted and armored, and all identical. This had been vetoed almost immediately due mostly to cost and material availability, thought Reyna thought her argument that the Twelfth Legion didn't have anywhere near enough people to man two hundred ships was enough to refute the request by itself. Based on what they had, the Senate had settled on a dozen ships, much to Octavian's disappointment. What he had planned to do with two hundred warships, Reyna was almost afraid to know.
Their relatives at Camp Half-Blood had been more than happy to supply them with materials and builders, including their star mechanic to oversee the project. Reyna accepted their help gratefully, having seen the Argo II in action. She trusted Leo's designs and the Greeks' handiwork, though of course she appointed many of her own legionnaires to assist with construction. Leo and his team had been staying at Camp Jupiter for the past ten months as the ships were built, and finally they were almost finished. Though none were quite as large as the Argo II, each galley was beautifully constructed and impressively outfitted. Reyna thought the project had gone quite well – and to her surprise, so did Octavian.
"All in favor?" Reyna asked the Senate, and thankfully she was met once again with no objections. "Good." She glanced at Leo and gave him a small smile, and he offered a grin and a salute.
"I believe we have nothing else to cover," Octavian said with a good impression of a friendly smile. He reached over and placed a hand on the small of Reyna's back, guiding her a step closer to him. She didn't resist, having gotten used to this sort of thing. "This meeting is adjourned. Thank you all." He and Reyna bowed their heads in unison, signaling everyone present that it was alright to leave.
Reyna allowed Octavian to lead her outside the Senate House, bidding goodbye to everyone that passed them. Once out in the open air, he turned to her and smiled that convincing smile, his hand shifting to grasp her fingers. She used to recoil at the coldness of his touch, but now it was just another detail she'd become accustomed to.
"Have you ever noticed what an ideal team we make?" he said somewhat wistfully, and Reyna quietly wondered at his choice of the word ideal. "I told you all along, Reyna, you and me – we're exactly what this legion needs."
"This legion needs a lot of things," Reyna said noncommittally.
"Yes," Octavian agreed. "And we're here to make sure it all happens. After all, when the camp is happy, we're happy, right?"
Reyna smiled. "Of course," she replied. "Who said I wasn't happy?"
Octavian laughed. "Sorry," he said, the humor in his voice absent from his eyes. "I forget you have a difficult time expressing yourself. Who am I to judge you for that?"
Who are you, indeed, Reyna thought, finding it ironic that he of all people would be talking about expressiveness. "You know me too well," was all she said.
"That I do," he replied, before leaning down and pressing his lips to hers.
Reyna responded dutifully, just like she always did. Her hands went to Octavian's shoulders as his gripped her waist, though it was only seconds before he pulled away and smiled down at her, his eyes studying her face for anything out of the ordinary. But she wouldn't oblige him. She never did.
Just then, out of the corner of her eye, Reyna saw Leo stride out of the Senate House amid a small group of friends. She gave Octavian her best apologetic smile and called out, "Valdez!"
Leo spun around, looking for the voice, then when his eyes landed on Reyna he left his crowd and walked toward her. "What's up?"
"You forgot, didn't you?" Reyna said dryly as Octavian's hand returned to her back in an almost possessive gesture. When Leo stared at her blankly, Reyna rolled her eyes. "My dogs," she explained. "They're malfunctioning again. You agreed to come and take a look at them, remember? I'll deny I ever said this, but no one knows how to fix them like you do."
Leo grinned. "Ah, the praetor's famous automaton pets," he said. "They're broken again? Anyone ever tell you that you work them way too hard?"
"You did," Reyna told him. "The last time." He laughed and gave her a shrug, and she resisted the urge to roll her eyes a second time. Instead she turned back to Octavian, who was watching Leo with a guarded expression. "I've got to take care of this. I'll see you later, okay?"
Octavian's eyes snapped back onto Reyna, as if just remembering she was there. His gaze suddenly intensified and he gave her a strange smile, before he used his grip on her back to pull her against him, head lowering to kiss her again.
As his hand wandered a bit further down her back than she would have liked, Reyna wanted to back up and smack him, but she resisted. It was natural for fellow praetors to develop romantic relationships, and as far as the rest of the legion was concerned, that was exactly what had happened between Reyna and Octavian. But she was sure that he harbored no more serious feelings for her than she did for him, as the lack of passion in his kisses hinted toward. His hands had a tendency to wander, but never had he asked for anything beyond that, to which Reyna was secretly relieved. She suspected that he had asked her out as a sort of trap to ensure her continued cooperation, knowing that if she refused she would appear obstinate and cold. It was almost like a game they played, each waiting for the other to crack and surrender first. But Reyna would not be that person. She cared about the legion too much to leave it in Octavian's hands.
When finally they separated, she noticed Leo had turned to the side and averted his gaze, and that Octavian was looking at him with a smug expression. Fighting back a scowl, Reyna bid Octavian a hasty goodbye and led Leo back toward her home at camp.
On the way, they discussed the details of the land docking project, including building parameters, necessary materials, and estimated time of completion. Reyna was glad to see that Leo seemed excited for the coming work, knowing that that meant he'd be finished more quickly. She knew him well enough to trust his workmanship – it was his focus that she tended to worry about.
When they reached her house on the Via Principalis, Reyna showed Leo inside and closed the door, reflexively locking it behind her. "Sorry about Octavian," she said with a ragged sigh, discarding her cloak and toga and tossing them over the back of the couch. "It's like he thinks he has something to prove. He acts that way when we're around most other guys, but he seems to hate you especially." She shook her head in disapproval.
Leo laughed knowingly, stopping in the center of the room and turning to face her. "Maybe he feels threatened by me," he teased, wiggling his eyebrows. "I mean, I am pretty threatening."
Reyna couldn't help but smile, sincere for once. "If only he knew," she said innocently.
"So," Leo began, his voice light, "where are your 'malfunctioning dogs'?"
Reyna crossed her arms in front of her chest, taking a step toward Leo. "You know there's nothing wrong with my dogs," she said pointedly. "They're perfect."
Leo frowned, looking confused, but Reyna saw through the act and fought back a smile. "Then what am I doing here, Your Highness?" he said in mock suspicion. "You know, you're not setting a very good example for your camp by lying."
"Shut it," Reyna ordered him, "or I'll shut it for you."
Leo grinned. "Is that a promise?"
Finally letting out a light laugh, Reyna took another step forward, before she gripped the collar of Leo's shirt tightly and yanked him toward her, forcing her mouth against his with a hungry fervor. She felt his hands travel instantly to her hips as he pulled her into him, and her skin tingled at the heat in his fingers – the heat that was the exact opposite of Octavian's icy touch in every way. Her arms wound around his neck and her hands clutched at his hair as she kissed him harder, breathing in the smoke that seemed to emanate from his body and melt the frozen layer of indifference she wore when she was with her fellow praetor.
The next thing Reyna knew, she was backed against her living room wall, breathing fast as Leo pressed his mouth against the crook of her neck, warmth spreading across her skin everywhere it touched his. She slipped her hands under his shirt and let her fingers play across the tight skin of his stomach and the lean, wiry muscles on his chest. Real smoke drifted from him beneath her touch, telling her she was welcome to keep going. With a satisfied smile, she turned her head and caught his lips in hers, almost burning her tongue from the intense heat in his mouth.
It was laughable how different he was from Octavian. Where her fellow praetor was cold and forceful, Leo was warm and gentle. Reyna had to fight to keep from visibly cringing when Octavian's hands brushed her skin, but Leo's touch left her aching for more. When Octavian kissed her, it was stiff and impersonal, almost like a handshake. Leo's kisses were full of passion and fire, and warmed Reyna's body right down to her toes. They never talked about it, but Reyna knew her feelings for Leo were more serious than anything she'd experienced before, and she also knew that his for her were just as strong. She had Octavian, but she wanted Leo, even if they were the only two that would ever know it.
Reyna hooked her fingers in Leo's tool belt as she pulled away, smoke on her breath. "You planning to lose the shirt, or do I have to tear it off of you?" she asked in a low voice, a smile playing on her lips as she expertly unhooked his tool belt and tossed it onto the couch behind him.
"Come on, Reyna," Leo complained with a huff. "You've already ruined three of my good shirts. Let me keep one, at least." Reyna raised an eyebrow and Leo grinned, grabbing at his collar and yanking the fabric up over his head. Reyna's eyes followed the curve of his shoulders as he rested one hand against the wall behind her and used the other to tug at the hem of her own T-shirt. "What about you? You want another shirt burned to ashes?"
"Not particularly," she answered honestly, pulling the material away as tiny tongues of flame appeared on his fingertips. "You didn't even help me clean it up last time."
Leo shrugged, leaning closer with a mischievous gleam in his dark eyes. "Your boyfriend was here," he said teasingly.
Reyna smiled, shooting him a smoldering glare of her own. "Well, he isn't here now," she pointed out.
"Then why are you still dressed?" he challenged with a smirk, before once again closing the distance between them and capturing her mouth with his. She could have sworn his hands and tongue were literally on fire (which they may have been) as she guided them blindly through the living room and into her bedroom, not bothering to turn on the light. As far as anyone else was concerned, Leo was performing maintenance on Reyna's automaton dogs, which they knew could take hours. No one would come looking for them, which was exactly the way she wanted it.
Octavian may have been using their romantic relationship as a way to trap Reyna, probably hoping to make her so uncomfortable or angry that she eventually would snap and push him away. Then he could use her behavior as pretext to have her discharged from her position, saying she was hostile and unwelcoming, unwilling to work with anyone and desiring of the praetorship for herself. But she wouldn't give into him. What he didn't know was that as long as Reyna had Leo to help her forget her frustration – the strange sort of 'forbidden love' that the girls on Circe's island had often told stories and dreamed of – she could endure anything her fellow praetor threw at her. She would never truly be caught in his elaborate snare. And he would never beat her.
Because like Octavian had said – she was happy. He just never realized it wasn't with him.
God, I love this pairing. And I don't know why, but I love the idea of Reyna sneaking around behind Octavian's back. Anyway, drop me a review on your way out. Love to hear from fellow fans :)