Well, there's no point hiding it anymore. This fanfic proves it. I'm insane.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, hello my name's Rick Riordan. And yes, I am a high school girl who writes fanfiction. Honest.
Seriously, we know I own nothing. Must we mock me?
BTW, House of Hades SPOILERS
Hazel felt like death itself, and believe her, she should know. She hate, hate, HATED being seasick. Or airsick. Or whatever kind of sick was making her stomach pitch and roll like the great bronze warship she was stuck on. She remembered what Leo told her – keep your eyes to the horizon. The horizon was a big empty blue-ness, with a floor of clouds that wouldn't stop moving. Not helping.
She decided she'd had enough. She had only come up on deck to get away from the fight, but surely Leo and Jason were done by now? Even if they weren't, a lie down would be good.
As she walked through the Argo II's halls towards her room, she noticed her fellow questers – Piper, Frank, Percy and Annabeth – standing next to the mess hall door. They were still fighting in there? That was concerning. Jason could argue for half an hour, if he was having a bad day, but probably only with an enemy. Not with Leo, his best friend. And Leo, cheery, joking, ever-smiling Leo, shouldn't be fighting in the first place. She went over. There were muffled yells coming from inside.
"They're still fighting?" she asked. Piper nodded, listening intently. "What in Hades could they be fighting about?"
"From what we've heard – y'know, when they're yelling really loud – Jason tried to get Leo to tell him what happened when he was missing, Leo snapped at him, Jason blew up, Leo blew up more, and now it's a blowing up contest" Frank summed up.
"I think they're just tired." They all looked at Piper. "Well, Jason keeps on trying to be a hero and not let anyone take a shift because 'after Epirus, we need our rest' and Leo won't stop working." she explained. True enough, Hazel thought. Sometimes she thought that Leo spent so much time with machines, he was beginning to think he was one.
Suddenly, there was a crash, and all went quiet. Then, Leo burst out of the room, shoved past them and stormed away. Hazel was alarmed to see tears in his eyes, held back by sheer willpower. She followed the others in to the mess hall. Piper was helping Jason get up off the floor and into a chair. He had a nasty bruise already forming over his left eye.
"What in Hades happened?" asked Annabeth.
"Leo and I had a disagreement." said Jason.
"Really? Didn't notice." quipped Percy. Jason shot him a look.
"I was trying to figure out what happened to him, and he exploded at me." Jason explained.
"We gathered that. But was … that?" asked Frank, gesturing vaguely at the door, still open. Jason blushed and wouldn't meet anyone's eyes.
"Ah. Well, I um…" Jason cleared his throat. "I may have … um … brought his mum into it."
There was a full second of silence, broken by Piper smacking him one on the back of the head and yelling "JASON!" Frank pinched his nose bridge – of all them, he knew that playing the dead mum card was just low. Come to think, Jason should know that too. Hazel was stunned by how cruel that was. Percy just glared.
"And then, I take it, he punched you in the face?" Annabeth's tone was deadly calm, but her grey eyes were near black with anger. Jason nodded.
"Look, I tried to apologise. I hated myself as soon as the words left my mouth. But was gone." said Jason, his every feature racked with guilt. Obviously, he would never deliberately hurt Leo. He got to his feet with new purpose. "Could you guys help me find him? I have to make this right." The others nodded. Aside from wanting to help, this kind of rift could jeopardise the quest.
"I'll check the deck." said Frank.
"I'll go with Frank. That way, I can ask Festus if he knows." volunteered Piper.
"I'll check his room." said Annabeth.
"I got the stables." said Percy.
"I'll search the ship. He might be hiding." said Hazel softly.
"Then I've got the engine room. Let's go." said Jason.
In the corner of the room, invisible to the questers, Hera's eyes flashed. She'd watch the fight with a certain amount of … disapproval. Jason's actions today had proved that they clearly didn't know Leo well enough. Just before they headed for their designated areas, she waved an elegant hand. Divine magic rippled through the air, invisible. This would be interesting.
Jason sprinted towards the engine room. He was feeling so guilty he thought he would be sick. A tiny, Roman part of him said, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. He had it coming". But he ruthlessly squashed it. Another rebellious part of him was still burning with anger at Leo's stubbornness, and the punch to the face. But he killed that too. Get with the program, he scolded himself mentally. That was below the belt, and now I'm feeling guilty.
He rounded the last corner, slowly opened the door and peered inside. Leo was inside, tinkering at his workbench. Jason took a deep breath and walked in.
"Hey, man, I-" Jason faltered as Leo turned to him. But he wasn't quite Leo.
He was wearing a red bandanna to keep hair out of his eyes, which he had never done. His hands were more calloused, like he'd worked his whole life. There was a long smudge of grease down the side of his face. But the face was strangest. It was harder, not smiling at all. He looked Jason up and down, like he was a broken machine he had to fix. There was no sign he'd been crying, just dry eyes and a confused frown, like he didn't recognise Jason. And the EYES. They were … orange. The same colour as fire. Not angry fire or cosy fire. Forge fire, just something to be used as a tool.
If someone didn't know Leo like Jason did, they wouldn't notice anything. But Jason could see – THIS WASN'T LEO.
"Can I help?" the not-Leo said. He sounded irritated, like Jason had interrupted something super important.
"Dude, what's with…?" Jason gestured helplessly at him. The not-Leo mimicked the gesture, eyebrows raised. "The bandanna, the hands, the…eyes" Jason tried to explain.
"My eyes are always like this." He snapped.
"No, your eyes are brown… never mind." said Jason. "Look, I wanted to say I didn't mean what I said." The not-Leo stared.
"What did you say?" alarm bells went off in Jason's head.
"C'mon. We have to talk to the others." Jason walked towards the door.
"Why? I'm working." The not-Leo seemed confused. Jason blinked, and then all but dragged him out of the room.
"Guys. I found him, but-" for the umpteenth that day, Jason faltered. He'd walked into the mess hall and stared, gapping like Frank when he was a goldfish.
The others were already there, with…
Jason's head swivelled between the not-Leo and the rest of the room. There wasn't one Leo.
Including the guy he had in tow, there were seven.
WHOA! Didn't see that coming! Review. Maybe I'll tell what happens next…