The Argo II is on a set course in the middle of what feels like freaking nowhere, smooth seas and general normalities abound, when what Percy has come to call the Argo Armageddon begins.
And it's, like, all Leo's fault. Also Jason's. Even Hazel is guilty. Percy just wants to see some land.
"Gods, there's sea as far as the eye can see," Leo half-heartedly complains at the helm, but with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Jason looks up from the game of Mythomagic he's playing with Nico, makes eye contact with Leo, and groans.
"That was awful, Leo," Jason chides.
Leo cackles. "Whale, what do you expect?" After a momentary pause, and five sets of demigod glares directed at him (Nico, Jason, Hazel, Frank, and Piper, to be specific), Leo shakes his head with his hands up in surrender.
"Sorry, I'm off my game right now - I'll have better ones soon. It's only day one," he says with glee in his voice. Everyone else figures it's only a matter of time before he rubs his hands together in diabolical excitement like a villain in a B-list action movie.
Percy isn't actually above deck when these first events transpire, but it's only a few more moments until every other demigod on board is spewing ocean related jokes in any situation.
The first time Percy brings this up, and speaks pretty much those exact words, no one really takes him seriously.
"Ha!" Leo exclaims in triumph. "That's a good one, Percy - spewing!"
"What?" Percy glowers (confusedly). He's getting really tired of all the marine humor.
"Spewing! Like a whale - get it?" Jason offers with a grin. His hair is nearly as curly as Leo’s thanks to the constant exposure to seawater. "That was a really good one, man, we should open up a category for unintentional puns, too."
"No way," Percy says in horror, eyes wide. "Absolutely not, I did not sign up for this. Seriously, guys," he says, slowly walking backwards, and then abruptly turning and running below deck.
As he flees, he thinks he can hear Jason and Leo exclaiming, "Seariously!" but Percy's kind of reached the point where he could be hallucinating and he would just accept it.
Later, they're at dinner, eating fish and seaweed, or something, and Percy's feeling kind of guilty about eating seafood, but hey, whatever, they have to eat what they can, right?
And then the puns start again. It starts under the guise of an innocent dinner conversation, which, in Percy’s opinion, is just awful and mean and terrible to those who want to get through one meal without any marine humor. Pulling the fleece over someone’s eyes like that. It’s a testament to how consistent his friends have been in delivering puns all the time that his mind flashes instantly to “pulling the Golden Fleece over someone’s eyes”. He hates this ship and everyone in it. (He’s not pouting at this point, but it’s all a matter of time.)
"This fish is delicious. You definitely get a gold star for cooking, Coach," Frank says approvingly, gesturing with his fork.
Coach Hedge glows in pride. "Thanks, Frank! I'd happily show you the recipe sometime!" he offers. He chews off the tines of his fork happily.
"A gold star?" Leo inserts himself into the conversation. "Must be some star fish, then." He sits back in his chair in satisfaction.
Everyone except for Percy lets out a mix of laughs and groans. It's the standard reaction for puns, really.
"You know, I'm getting kind of sick of all these sea puns," Percy comments.
"Getting seasick, Seaweed Brain?" Annabeth says with a small smile.
Leo whoops, and reaches behind Percy to high five Annabeth.
"Nice one," Jason says with a grin. He spears another shrimp with his fork.
"Stop trying to steal my girlfriend, Valdez," Percy mutters, though everyone knows he's not really serious.
"Ah - but I'm no Siren! Better keep an eye out for Piper, though," Leo says with a flourish and a wink.
Piper rolls her eyes. "Leave me outta it, Valdez." She laughs anyway.
Percy stabs a piece of salmon with his fork moodily. Instead of making its way onto his fork, it simply breaks into two smaller pieces. Percy thinks it's a representation of how his life is being destroyed by bad marine humor.
"Leo!" Jason strides into the room determinedly.
"You look like you're walking with a lot of porpoise," Frank calls to Jason. He’s sitting with Nico, playing a game of Mythomagic. Nico rolls his eyes, but a small smile is visible on his face nevertheless.
Jason's grin gets a little wider. "Aw, nice one, Frank!"
They nod their heads in acknowledgement from either side of the deck.
Leo looks up from whatever he's tinkering with. "What's up, Jason?"
"Your name is Leo." he states.
"Thank you," is the reply, followed by a solemn nod of agreement.
"You're a crab!" he crows. The son of Jupiter looks pleased with himself.
"…Zodiac?" Jason says, his excitement having dimmed slightly.
In comprehension, Leo breaks into a friendly grin.
"Bro. That means the ol' god of war is a ram!"
They look at each other and high five. It's pretty standard on the Argo II these days.
"Expect to be called crabby whenever you’re being annoying," Jason tells him, laughter almost tangible on his face.
"Eh, I don't mind. Not when Percy's being crabbier."
They look over at where Percy is peacefully looking out at the sea, undisturbed by puns for what must be a blissful few minutes.
"Should we say something? Break the silence, like a wave breaking the shore…” Leo trails off, staring across the ship at the endless sea around them.
“Or is that too deep?" Leo asks.
Mischief is palpable in the air.
"Let him be, guys. Don't be shellfish," Hazel says, a little bit disapprovingly, though it's not as serious followed by her pun.
Leo smirks. “We’ve corrupted them all, now!” An exaggerated laugh follows, accompanied by the rubbing of his hands together like the B-list villain he swore he would never become.
Jason stands there and waits for Leo to finish his theatrics.
“You’re krilling me, man,” he says with a shake of his head, like he’s disappointed at the level Leo has dared to stoop down to.
“How? I’m afraid you’ll have to be more Pacific, young Jason,” Leo says innocently, in his best Obi-Wan Kenobi impression.
Jason shoves him good-naturedly. “Hate you,” he grins.
“Hate you too!” Leo says, eyes crinkled in laughter, before turning back to the helm to steady their course.
And then, the day comes that Percy rushes above deck, both teeth and hair unbrushed because he literally just woke up, but Leo’s yelling like a maniac and Percy needs to see just what is going on before his eardrums split.
“What in Poseidon’s name is going on?” Percy croaks – and, yeah, he’s awake, despite what his voice may sound like. Annabeth elbows him amusedly, but is mercifully silent.
“Land ahoy!” Leo yells excitedly, pointing and almost jumping with glee. Sure enough, a strip of land is growing steadily on the horizon.
“Thank gods,” Percy mumbles under his (morning) breath.
“What’s that I hear? Percy, son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, is glad to see land?” Leo gasps, pausing his excited jig. He places a hand over his heart dramatically.
Percy resists the urge to roll his eyes. “Don’t give me that line. I’d rather not flounder on deck – I’m half god, not half fish!”
A beat passes. “Plus, as nice is the Argo II is, we’re packed like sardines.” He says this almost hesitantly, like he’s not sure if he wants to succumb to the sheer power of puns just yet.
Nico raises an eyebrow, in either skepticism or surprise. (It’s hard to tell in any situation.) “You’re on board with the puns, then?”
“Thank you, Nico! Finally, the lost fish has swum home!” Jason cries, clutching to Leo’s bicep dramatically. He pretends to wipe a tear from his eye.
Ah, Percy thinks. So the emphasis on “on board” hadn’t been a figment of his imagination, then.
“Well, you’re a little lake to be starting these puns now,” Leo sniffs disapprovingly. Sure enough, the Argo II is almost at shore, and the land seems inhabited enough that they can afford to stay off the ship for at least a few days.
After a flurry of discussion and movement, they all agree to disembark. As they walk off the ship, Leo and Jason turns back and wave.
The ocean rises, and waves right back.
Percy just groans, happy for once that sea is not the only thing he can see.