We gazed silently, standing on the glass deck of the floating Argo II, at the blazing flames swallowing the island city. The little floating town was deserted save for a group of karpoi we had encountered during this stage of our quest. The grain monsters were huddled in a terrified frenzy on the dock, shrieking at the roaring flames behind them. It was honestly a sight to behold - a tragic beauty.
“Yeah, serves you right you little grainy blobs!” Leo yelled enthusiastically, waving a charred fist in the hair, smoke rising from all over his clothes - the aftermath of setting an entire island on fire. The karpoi glared at him, throwing him a rude gesture in one synchronized motion, before sporadically bursting into different poofs of grain, floating away in the wind.
Everyone laughed as Leo continued to shout out insults at the karpoi, that were now only distant specks of brown dust. A content smile surfaced on my face as I looked to my right, where Percy was hunched over the railing, resting on his forearms.
While the group slowly dispersed, walking down to the hull for lunch, Percy remained on the deck, his gaze looking outward on the now distant island.
I approached him and cocked my head, leaning on the railing with one arm and facing him. “Whatcha thinking?” Percy turned his head, slightly startled, then soon relaxed, looking outward again.
“Nothing, just…” he shook his head, and I watched red dance in his eyes, the distant flare of the burning city reflected in his irises. After a brief moment of hesitation, he lifted one arm and stood up straighter, holding out his hand, his palm facing the ocean.
Suddenly, the water near the island rumbled, as a huge wave picked up and swallowed the town whole. The fire was immediately distinguished, and Percy willed the water to wash away, the ocean becoming still again as if nothing happened. The town, except for its charred buildings, was at peace once again. Eyes widened, I turned to him. “Why’d you do that?” I asked incredulously.
“I don’t know.” He paused. “Just thought the town was too pretty to be left burning.” I couldn’t help but soften at his response. I watched as the ocean, gleaming in the midday sun, cast blue reflections in his eyes, turquoise light ripples dancing across his features.
Suddenly, I gasped “Is Percy Jackson a secret romanticist?” With a playful expression, he flicked water up from the ocean, a light spray of sea water hitting my face. “Hey!” I glared at him, trying to conceal my smile as I wiped the salty water off my face, his lopsided grin widening into a laugh. The green in his eyes sparkled. No fair.
“Not fair Aquaman.” I huffed, brushing water off of my shirt and giving him a gentle push.
“I’m terribly sorry, are you okay?” he frowned with a mock-serious voice, then took a step towards me, closing the distance between us considerably. Slightly startled, my eyes instinctively darted down to his feet than back up. I recovered, giving him a playful eye-roll, and shook my head. “You’re sorry, huh?” “‘Course I am” he said, his grin innocent. He took another small step, the fronts of our feet almost touching. Due to our proximity and his inconveniently tall stature, I had to crane my neck to maintain eye contact.
“Mmm, than why do I feel like you’re not sorry at all?” I said, my voice reduced to just above a whisper. “I don’t know” he leaned in closer “maybe-“ “Oy! Lovebirds! You guys mind giving me a hand with this?” Percy winced, before we whipped our heads in the direction of Leo’s voice.
“Yep!” I shouted, taking a step back, breaking our little bubble. Percy didn’t move, and just stood there with a dejected look on his face. “You coming?” I quirked an eyebrow, trying to suppress a smile. “Uh, y-yeah. Yeah. Coming.” I let out a small laugh slip as he trailed behind me, grumbling inaudible insults to the son of Hephaestus under his breath.