Piper breaking up with Jason wasn’t the shocker. It was the wave of emotions that came with it.
Reyna supposed she should have been happy. She’d known this was a long time coming. A couple years ago, she might’ve even said Piper deserved it. The child of Aphrodite was foolish enough to believe a relationship could last despite the foundation of lies; the heartbreak she would inevitably face would be satisfying. Years of camaraderie and gradual love and respect between Jason and Reyna were washed away in an instant. Who was to say the spontaneous spark between Jason and Piper wouldn’t vanish just as easily? A couple years ago, Reyna would’ve scoffed at the outcry The Breakup produced between the camps. But this Breakup did not, in fact, occur a couple years ago. In reality, it took place a couple weeks ago; it merely took awhile for the news to reach Reyna.
And, for some reason the child of Bellona could not seem to uncover, this unsettled Reyna deeply.
Firstly, Jason—being a sort of bridge in the gap between Greeks and Romans, his father being Jupiter and his sister being Greek—traveled between the two camps frequently. During these visits, he made sure to meet up with Reyna at least once to catch up over a cup of coffee and the rim of his imperial gold glasses. Not once, during any of these meetings, did Jason seem perturbed by anything whatsoever. Secondly, Reyna had managed to maintain the fondness for Jason she’d cultivated over their years of friendship, something she’d always described as a crush. This feeling never disappeared, per se, but suddenly seemed insignificant in comparison to… other things. Thirdly, Reyna had hit a snag in her journey toward self-love, a self-appointed mission she’d assign herself after humiliatingly throwing herself at Percy in her moment of vulnerability. She found that she had an attraction to women. Which wasn’t taboo or anything, just… surprising. Reyna supposed this shouldn’t have been too surprising, considering her awe at the sorceresses on Circe’s island and how she had longed to touch them—experience their beauty from more than just afar. Her attraction to women should’ve been especially obvious when she stared, slack-jawed, at Annabeth’s awesome strength when judo-flipping Percy. But, uh, that’s not the point.
All of this leads to Reyna’s maelstrom of mixed emotions about Piper McLean (and, to a lesser extent, her breakup with Jason).
There seemed to be no hard feelings on either part of the Breakup. Most shockingly enough, neither seemed quite too affected, despite Piper’s unyielding passion for him in the beginning. Reyna’s fondness for Jason had yet to subside, and yet…
Reyna thought Piper was really fucking hot . After beginning to embrace her femininity, Piper never seemed to have a hair out of place (not that she ever looked less than perfect before). She’d grown her hair out enough to cut it into a neat, dark bob, naturally pinstraight but curling inward toward her neck on days where she felt especially inclined to groom herself. Her high cheek bones seemed to highlight her smile. Her bent nose was adorably imperfect, only adding to her overall charm. Her heavy-set almond eyes were emphasized by long lashes that only made the colors of her kaleidoscope eyes seem more vivid with every languid blink. Her lips were on the thinner side, and absently curled upwards into a mischievous smirk she had to have inherited from Percy or Leo.
But Piper couldn’t just stop there, she had to be one of the funniest, most charming, and kindest people Reyna ever had the pleasure of knowing. It was fucking annoying.
Every time Piper unexpectedly IM'ed her in the middle of an important meeting, had Jason pass on a flower that made her “think of Reyna,” roll the “r"s in her name exaggeratedly, touch her shoulder, force her into a pinky promise… anything, Reyna could feel her heart thumping in her chest. It threatened to crawl up her throat and break every wall she’d ever built. It would bypass every security measure Reyna could assign. It would find its way to Piper .
And, finally, after hours of introspection, she reached her conclusion.
Reyna Avila Ramírez-Arellano was in love with Piper McLean.
"Rey?” a voice called gently.
Reyna jerked upwards, falling out of her seat. She knocked her elbows on the desk she had been hunched over, the pencil she had been twiddling with clattering to the floor and rolling under the shelves of clutter Reyna had yet to reorganize. Toppling to the ground, Reyna called weakly from underneath her desk, face red, “Yes?”
“The great Reyna, praetor of New Rome,” the voice sounded amused. “So surprised she fell under her desk.”
“Piper,” Reyna groaned playfully. She got off her knees, seating herself back on her rolly chair and crossing her legs. At the sight of Piper’s smudged eyeliner and bedhead, her heart softened. “Why are you IM'ing this time?”
“Just a for a quick chit-chat,” Piper smiled in response. “How’ve you been?”
Scrambling for a response, Reyna replied, hoping she sounded smoother than she truly felt, “I should be asking you that. I heard about you and Jason.”
Piper’s ever-present grin faltered slightly: “Oh.”
Reyna attempted to carry on, unsure of how to react, “I know how much you liked him, so uh… sorry, I guess? Unless you’re happy with this outcome; in which case, good for you.”
Piper tilted her head to the side, sweeping her hair behind her shoulder, and breathed out a laugh, “Oh, well, it was a mutual decision. I’m kind of sad that it ended, but I honestly can’t see us having any sort of future. Besides,” she glances at Reyna meaningfully. “I may have developed… feelings… for someone else before we broke up.”
“Oh, wow,” Reyna said, once again at a loss for words. Her stomach felt hollow.
“Yeah…” Piper trailed off. The look in her eyes was far-off, before her vision cleared and all her focus returned to Reyna. A new sort of false confidence seemed to straighten her shoulders, but she toyed with her camp necklace—a dead giveaway that she was at least somewhat nervous. “Look, uh…”
She seemed to steel herself, staring at Reyna directly in the eyes, “That was kind of the point of this call.”
Reyna quirked an eyebrow, “Oh?”
“Mhm, okay, so,” Piper stammered. She stared down at her feet for a second, before sighing and looking up again. She opened her mouth to speak when:
“Your call time is up. Please send a new offering for more minutes.”
Reyna froze; whatever Piper wanted to say seemed important. Groaning at the clutter, Reyna scavenged through her drawers, hoping to find one of her leftover Greek drachmas. Finally, she found one at the bottom of her lowest drawer, buried deep under untouched paperwork. Struggling to remember the phrasing of the Iris Message, the words finally came to her.
“O Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow, please accept my offering. Show me Piper McLean at Camp Half-Blood.”
“—so please don’t hate me, okay?” Piper finished her spiel, apparently not even noticing that the call had paused.
Reyna blinked, “Why would I hate you?”
“Because,” the child of Aphrodite made a frustrated noise, gesticulating randomly so as to convey a message Reyna did not understand. “You know!”
“No, I don’t,” Reyna said flatly. “The call paused. Is that normal?”
“Uh,” Piper gazed at her in disbelief. “I’m sorry, what ?”
“The call,” Reyna could not suppress a small snort of amusement, “paused.”
Piper didn’t seem to understand this: “So what was the last thing you heard?”
“Uh, okay, so,” Reyna imitated teasingly.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Piper smacked herself in the face. “Are you kidding me right now?”
“Could you just repeat what you said earli—?”
“I HAVE A CRUSH ON YOU,” Piper blurted out.
“I have a,” Piper repeated slowly. “Big, gayass, fucking crush on you. It’s the middle of asscrack o'clock here in New York, it took me three hours to work up the courage to even IM you at all, five more minutes to figure out what I wanted to say, and you didn’t even hear it!”
“I spent weeks, Reyna, WEEKS building up the balls to tell you how I feel. My speech was romantic and poetic and all that mushy gushy stuff!” Piper was pacing back and forth now. Suddenly, she halted, turning toward Reyna and throwing her arms up in the air, “And all of it is ruined because Miss Hippie Goddess decided she wanted more fucking money! The nerve —”
“Piper, can you shut up for one second?” Reyna interrupted. “Before you get killed?”
Obediently, Piper shushed. Only to turn bright red, almost as vibrant as the strawberries growing in front of Camp Half-Blood.
“Oh, my gods,” Piper whisper-shouted, panicking. “I can’t believe I just said that. Wait, lemme do a redo. I can do it better. Ugh, this is so embarrassing—”
“Piper McLean,” Reyna cut her off again, grinning. “You are the most beautiful woman I know.” Piper squeaked. “And I, too, have big, gayass, fucking crush on you. Every time I see you, my heart beats faster and moths eat at my intestines.”
“Romantic,” Piper commented drily.
“I want to kiss you,” Reyna continued, pretending she hadn’t heard the other, “and hold your hand and hug you and cuddle you. I like you so much.” Here, she paused, “I would even go so far as to say I love you.”
Piper’s cheeks got impossibly redder.
“You totally one-upped me,” she grinned. “Sneaky RARA.”
In turn, Reyna’s cheeks dusted pink.
“I love you, too,” Piper said softly. Her lips curled upwards, “Pink promise? You love me?”
Reyna smiled, “Pinky promise. I love you.”
Even though they couldn’t physically touch each other (the mist fizzled out where Reyna mock-wrapped her pinky around Piper’s), the deal was done. No turning back now.
“Oh, and Reyna?” Piper interjected as the call began to fade.
“Yes, love?” Reyna replied, relishing in the way Piper’s expression turned flustered at the pet name.
“I am going to kiss you so hard the next time I see you.”
Reyna gaped at the other girl, the mist dissipating before she could respond. Sighing contentedly, the child of Bellona leaned back in her chair, eyes fluttering shut and falling asleep.
(The crick in her neck later is totally worth it.)
(And spoiler alert: Piper carries through on her promise.)