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Just Like Old Times

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I searched Camp Jupiter as the Argo II descended towards the hills of New Rome. I was starting to miss this place. Sure, I like Camp Half-Blood better, but this was where I grew up, it’s still home to me. I looked down to look for a particular someone when the alarms blared as Leo’s voice boomed across the ship. “Danger! Danger! Romans about to blow our ship up!!!” Leo’s voice echoed across the warship. I guess the legion still haven’t forgiven us for blowing up their city. “But I thought we were at peace already?” I shouted to Leo across the deck. “Why are they still attacking us?” “How the heck should I know that?!” Leo countered as he swings his Wii stick, which happens to be our ship control system. I looked towards the legion below me and happened to see Reyna there, trying to get hold of the situation of hundreds of Romans, primed for war. The ship stopped to a jolt and I saw Piper tumble and fell down the ship’s side. “Jason!!” Piper cried out to me with alarm and fear in her voice. I was glad that I was the son of Jupiter, so I can fly, if I didn’t Piper would probably be a grease stain on the Via Praetoria by now.

I flew down to save her and caught her right when her body was just about to hit the ground, “Remember? Just like the first time we met.” I said to her, trying to calm her down. She was frantic, with her hair all over her face and some smudged mascara lines from tears. She finally calmed down and held on tight on to me.We were embracing midair with Annabeth, Leo, Calypso, Frank, and Hazel looked down at us. We lost Percy in the war against Gaea. I will never forgive Gaea for it. When I remembered about Percy’s death, tears start to form in my eyes. I still could see the scene playing, the image painted clearly inside my eyelids.

His body, limp in Gaea’s hand, his form ruined. He was still alive because I still heard him groan and writhed in pain. A spear was pierced through his body and I heard Annabeth fell down as she cried, “You will pay for this! I will kill you!” Gaea laughed, “What can you do to me now? I’m fully awake, your one true love, your glue, almost dead.” Annabeth cried out in rage and I flew next to her. Frank turned into a dragon and joined us, Hazel and Piper ran beside us, Leo turned into a flaming boy and had a crazed look on his face. Gaea’s laughter boomed across the place, as she threw Percy’s body to the air. “You little children will never learn will you? I won, you will never defeat me!” Annabeth charged first, I guess Poseidon was angry at Gaea for killing his favourite son, for thousands of horses and pegasi came and attacked Gaea. I electrocuted her, Hazel tried to pelt her with piles of schists, Leo was throwing fireballs at Gaea, and Piper was trying to charmspeak Gaea to surrender. Her plan almost worked if the giants didn’t come. Annabeth turned her attention to the giants and she killed them almost in an instant, the twelve olympian gods all in her side. Trust me, you don’t want to see her mad. She got back to Gaea, who is still in shock after seeing all her children turn to yellowish dust. Annabeth jumped and slashed wildly at Gaea’s chest. She somehow wounded her and she had this reddish glowing aura surrounding her body. She got the blessing of Mars. Then a few hundred owls flew behind her, Annabeth’s mother, Athena, must have helped, then a very powerful lightning bolt electrocuted Gaea, right in its face, no doubt it’s the work of Zeus (or Jupiter, whatever), then skeletons rises up from the ground with diverging varieties of uniforms, the work of Hades obviously. If I was Gaea, I would be running and probably jump off a cliff myself. Annabeth was terrifying, she got the help of five gods and goddesses. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Athena, and most surprisingly, Mars (or Ares, whatever). The god of war hates Percy, I guess he must felt sorry for Annabeth. Gaea’s face was burned charcoal black from the lightning strike, courtesy of Zeus. Her arm looked painfully bent, probably from all the stomping horses and pegasi on it. Her chest was pouring golden ichor, definitely from the cuts Annabeth gave her. Annabeth pointed towards Gaea and commanded, “ATTACK!” to no one in particular.

Then the army of skeletons, horses, pegasi, and owls started to run towards Gaea, all six of us ran towards Gaea and slashed and stabbed wildly. I flew towards her face and strike another lighting bolt on it. Frank blew fire to her whole body and she howled in pain. The skeleton soldiers pinned her down to the ground, “You cannot defeat me!” Gaea shouted as the ground started to open, “I am Gaea, mother of the Giants, Titans and I am the most powerful goddess of all!! You cannot defeat me! I am invinci—“ Her voice was cutter off by the ground closing, with Gaea falling straight to the deepest pits of Tartarus, where she would stay there forever. Everyone was silent and Annabeth ran towards Percy’s body.

“No, no, no, no, no! Seaweed Brain, you are not dying on me!” Annabeth said as she shook his limp body. “Somebody give me some nectar and ambrosia!!” She yelled. Piper took some and handed them to Annabeth. She poured the nectar down Percy’s throat and put some broken ambrosia pieces on his mouth. At first, nothing happened. Then suddenly his body jerked forward as if he was waking up after a very bad dream. He came up coughing and he fell back, Annabeth caught him in her arms and Percy faintly said “Annabeth?” “Yeah, Seaweed Brain. You still drool in your sleep.” Annabeth said, laughing. Percy smiled, then winced in pain, as if doing the slightest thing hurts him. “Annabeth, I love you. This might be the last time I talk to you, so I want to say something. I lov—“ Percy was interrupted by Annabeth, “No, don’t talk that way, you’ll survive. Please Percy, stay with me.” “Annabeth, I—“ “NO! I have been left by too many people! First I lost Thalia, then Luke, I’m not going to lose you!” Annabeth shouted. Piper was silently sobbing, Hazel was crying uncontrollably to Frank’s bulky shoulders. I went to Piper and opened up my arms for her. She ran to me and cried. I looked at Percy and Annabeth and heard Percy say, “I’m sorry Annabeth. The fates are cruel. Will you marry me?” With those words, Annabeth sobbed into his shoulder. Percy looked like he was in terrible pain, but he would do anything for his Annabeth. He coughed and there was blood on it. “Goodbye Annabeth, tell my mom I’m sorry, tell Tyson I love him, and tell Grover he was my best friend from the very beginning.” Then he turned to us and said. “I’m sorry guys, but I love you guys.” For a while, he had his old mischievous smile on his face again, Then his face slumped and he fell to the ground, eyes closed. “No, Percy, no! Don’t die! I love you.” Her voice failed her at the end. Hazel came over to comfort Annabeth, but she wouldn’t let go of Percy’s body. Then his body slowly rises up to the sky, still wearing that mischievous smile. Then it vanished into golden smoke and the whole sky turned grey, mourning the greatest hero of all time, Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, has died. Annabeth was still on her knees, hugging herself, muttering “I do, Percy, I do” as Hazel led her away to the Argo II. All of us was still paralysed. I still can’t believe that Percy was gone. Sure we had our differences, but we were best friends. I can’t believe he died. I tried to be the leader of the group just like when I was Praetor back in New Rome. I got inside my cabin and let the tears out.

I suddenly jolted bak to reality when I heard Piper’s voice calling out my name in the distance. I realised I was falling towards New Rome while I had that flashback. Piper’s eyes had this wild fear in them. I commanded to wind to support our feet and we stopped falling. “What were you thinking about Jason?” Piper asked me with concern. “We were flying towards the Argo II when you suddenly blacked out and we were falling to our deaths.” “Nothing.” I lied. The last thing I want to remind Piper about was Percy’s death. It shook all of us, especially Annabeth, but she seems fine now. We flew back to the deck and fell flat on our backs, hands still intertwined with each other. I could feel my heartbeat, I was shaking, after the flashback, Percy’s death seemed more real. Everyday since his death, whenever the crew had a meeting and Percy wasn’t there, I would pretend that he was still sound asleep in his cabin, and he’s going to walk in any moment. “Jason, why are you shaking?” Annabeth asked me. “Nothing.” I lied again. “I was just pretty shocked that just a second ago Piper and I were falling to our deaths.” Annabeth raised her eyebrows in suspicion then shrugged, “Well, you’re safe now. That’s all that matters.” Then I stood up and went to Leo. “Why did we stop?” I guess I sounded a little angry because Leo winced when I asked him. “This dude suddenly popped out of nowhere and started slapping me around and told me to stop. So I stopped.” Leo said, scratching his head. Then Argus suddenly showed up and Leo jumped back in surprise. “Here! This is the dude that popped out of nowhere!” He said with a look of disgust and, fear? “Dude? I am not a dude. I am a god. I am Terminus, I am the god of boundaries, and I will not let you inside New Rome ever again! You blew up this city the last time you were here!” Terminus said. Leo winced at the memory. “I told you I was sorry!” “I thought the camp were at peace, why are they preparing for battle?” I asked Terminus. “Jason Grace, son of Jupiter, former praetor of New Rome. These Romans will never forgive you for blowing up their city. It would be worse if somebody got hurt!” He answered me. “But somebody did get hurt. I got hit in the head with a brick!” I shuddered at the memory. “Please, Terminus. Let us in. I need to see Reyna.” I pleaded. “Oh, I see.” He said with a smirk. “Well, if that’s the case, then you can land here.” After saying that, he vanished into a cloud of yellowish dust, Leo and I coughed. “I hate it when he does that!” Leo said. I chuckled as Leo fiddled with the controls.

The Argo II landed on New Rome. I held Piper’s hand as I walked down from the Argo II. I scanned the crowd of Romans for Reyna and saw her just in time as she turned away and walked back.“Hey Reyna!” I shouted. Reyna turned back and I swore that I saw her smile when she saw my face. I smiled back and her face suddenly turned serious all over again. I also saw a look of confusion in her face. She trudged her way towards me and when I saw her up close, she was a total mess. Her once braided hair was unravelled behind her back, she had bags under her eyes, as if she haven’t slept for a week, and her purple cape that symbolises her place as a Praetor was in tatters. “Reyna, what happened? You’re a total mess.” I said to Reyna. She looked straight into my eyes and answered fiercely, “I don’t have time for questions.” She scanned the crew and seemed utterly confused. “Where’s Percy?” She asked, not knowing that he died. Annabeth burst into tears at the sound of his name. She looked at me with a confused look and I gave her my best I’m sorry look. “Jason, may I talk to you?” Reyna said. I took Piper’s hand and started to walk towards her. “In private?” She added quickly. “Sure.” I answered her. I turned to Piper and told her to go comfort Annabeth as I talk with Reyna. She nodded and I gave her a little kiss. I saw Reyna wince from the corner of my eye. When I look back at her, I saw her staring at the ground, blushing, with a look of hurt in her eyes. I tilted my head in bewilderment. She seemed to not notice and gestured for me to come over. I walked over to her position but she kept on walking until we reach the two cabins meant for two praetors. “I remember this place, when we used to drink hot chocolate and watch movies together in your room, late at night, and when we used to throw jellybeans at each other, and when we used to dance in the ra—“ I was interrupted by Reyna, “Please stop. I don’t want to remember..” She blinked a few times and quickly turned away. I could see her fake a yawn, to hide her tears. “Reyna, are you okay?” I asked her. “It’s ok, I’m fine. Just… tired. It’s hard being a praetor alone and when somebody volunteers to help, its Octavian.” She forced a smile. I frowned and she said again, “Seriously Jason, I’m a big girl. You don’t have to take care of me like that anymore.” And with those words, she entered her cabin as I followed from behind her. Her cabin was way different then it used to be. The last time I entered her cabin was before the war. Before I met Piper, when Reyna and I used to be the best of best friends.

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“Come in.” I said to Jason as I gestured for him to enter. He looked baffled when he entered the cabin. I did a little redecoration inside, to make it more, modern and less Roman. “You like it?’ I asked him, as he looked at the pictures of him and I embracing each other after winning the war games, way before we were praetors, then there’s the one when I trained him and he trained me. We were studying and training real hard to become praetors, it has been our dream since we were kids. Then there’s the photo of the feast we had when Jason and I got our role of praetorship. We were being held up above the legion’s shield and were laughing. We seemed so happy back then, before the Greeks came. “Ah, I remember this one.” Jason said as he pointed to a photo on a frame that showed Jason and I pranking Octavian, and this was when we were already praetors. We were young and innocent back then. Now we’re both fed up with our own problems. I need to control Camp Jupiter on my own, with Octavian starting to convince the legion that Greeks are evil and needed to be exterminated. He successfully convinced almost half of the legion. I told him to sit on the couch as I made him and myself a delicious cup of hot chocolate.

 

“Ah, hot chocolate.” Jason said, delighted that I still remembered his favourite thing about New Rome. “The drink of the gods.” Both Jason and I said, as we clinked our mugs together. We laughed as we remember the old times. Then I looked at his eyes, his beautiful electric blue eyes. No, I can’t fall for him again. I can’t afford to get hurt again. I thought to myself. I immediately averted my eyes from his. “So, what do you want to talk to me about?” Jason asked me, “Where’s Percy?” I asked him. “Why did Annabeth cried when I asked that. Why isn’t he here?” I pushed Jason because I needed answers, Percy was my friend. Well, there was a phase in my life where I considered Percy more than just a friend. “He - he died…” Jason answered me. “He what?!” Jason told me the whole story, of how Gaea was taunting them and how Annabeth got a blessing by five gods at once, how she killed the giants in a single strike, how she commanded the owls, horses, pegasi, and skeletons to attack Gaea and how Gaea is now locked in the deepest pits in Tartarus. Never able to wake ever again. When he finished, I already used a whole box of tissue. Percy’s gone. He was such a nice person. How can this world be so cruel? He deserved better. He deserved to be with Annabeth, he deserved a happy peaceful live, with no monsters disturbing him whatsoever. He couldn’t be gone, but he is, and the sooner I accept the fact that I will never see his mischievous smile again, the easier it’ll get for me to move on with my life. 

 

I slowly sipped on my hot chocolate, now already cold. I looked up and saw Jason trying to blink the tears away. Of course, if somebody saw the son of Jupiter crying, he’ll be made fun of the rest of his life, but this is different. He lost somebody, somebody very important. He lost his best friend, the world has lost the cheerful, funny, Percy, the one that everybody loves. “Does Nico know?” I asked him. He looked surprised. “Aren’t they friends? Even though he stays away from everyone, he looks pretty close to Percy, so have you told him yet?” I blurted out, as nonchalantly as possible. Of course I didn’t mean it, but it’s as if after Jason told me the story of Percy’s death that my heart suddenly became numb, still in shock, still paralysed. “No.” Jason’s voice woke me up from my thoughts. “What?” I asked him, “You asked if Nico knew. No.” Jason said. Not lifting his face from his empty mug of hot chocolate.  “I don’t know how to tell him. It will break him forever.” 

 

Just as Jason was saying that, Nico di Angelo suddenly emerged up from the shadows. “What will break him forever?” He asked. “I’ll live. I handled a lot worse things than you ever had. I already lost my mother and Bianca. I don’t think anything will be worse than losing Bianca.” He insisted. “Nico, I—“ Jason started. “Tell me!” Nico shouted. I know that he didn’t meant it but skeletons emerged from the ground and pinned Jason down. The tip of his Stygian Iron blade was pointed at his chest. “Now, TELL ME!” Nico bellowed. Dam, the son of Hades could be scary when he’s angry. “Nico!” I yelled. “Let go of him! What he’s about to tell you will be worse than anything you ever had in your life!” “Never.” he said, he dug the tip of his blade deeper into Jason’s throat. “Nico.. can’t… breath.” Jason said, gasping for air as the skeletons choked him. “Tell me, or you would never speak ever again.” Nico said. Although Nico is younger than Jason, he looked much scarier than him. With his deathly pale face, sunken eyes, body ripped with muscles from training with the dead, he looked down right ready to kill someone. “Its Percy.” Jason managed to choke out. “He’s gone. Gaea.. took.. his life.. away.” Jason’s body is starting to go limp from the lack of oxygen in his lungs and Nico suddenly fell to the ground, the skeletons disappeared and his sword clung down to the floor. 

 

Nico was there, hugging himself. “You’re lying.” He said, with tears falling to the wooden floor. I can’t help but look at his face, that desperate little kid, willing to cling to any hope that he was still alive. I tried to blink my tears away, but looking at the son of Hades, sobbing on the floor, even Jason can’t help but cry silently next to him. “He couldn’t be gone. No, I’ll bring him back. He couldn’t be gone. He’s at the Argo II now right? This is a prank isn’t it? He’s about to burst through the door with a camera, any moment now, wouldn’t he?” I crouched and lifted Nico’s face. He looked at me with those red puffy eyes. “Nico, I’m sorry but he’s gone.” I said to him, face wet with tears. “The funeral’s tomorrow if you wanna come.” Jason told him. He nodded and said, “I just need some time alone. Don’t search for me.” With that, he shadow-traveled to who knows where. No doubt, training with the dead again. He always does that. He hides his emotional pain behind all the dead and training. “That is why I didn’t want to tell him. He’ll freak out on me, and without you, I would probably be dead right now.” I managed a smile.

 

There was an uncomfortable silence, until Octavian suddenly burst into the room. “Reyna! This is unacceptable, those Greeks back here after—“ He noticed that Jason was here too and abruptly stopped. “You.” He said, his eyes squinting and burning with hatred. “Yeah, me. I’m J-a-s-o-n, and you’re O-c-t-a-v-i-a-n” He spelled the names slowly, as if he was a little kid. It took everything in me not to burst out laughing. “Ha-ha, very funny Grace. And as I know, you’re not praetor anymore, aren’t you?” Octavian said, obviously unamused. “Yeah, but are you? I gave my position to Frank to save others. If you became praetor, no doubt you’ll be laughing evilly and rubbing your hands together like a villain.” Jason said again. This time I can’t hold it in anymore. I laughed and Jason looked behind his shoulders to find me laughing hysterically, falling flat on my butt. He smiled at that and Octavian just got angrier. “I’ll show you, Grace. I’ll show all of you!” Then he stormed off. “Just like old times, huh?” Jason said to me. When I remember the times when I used to be best friends with him, when everybody said that we should be together, when we were still ‘we’, I flinched and unfortunately, Jason noticed. “Reyna? What’s wrong?” He said, with a look of concern in his face. I forced a smile and said, “I’m fine. It’s nothing. Yeah, just like old times.” Jason didn’t look convinced and I cleared my throat, “Well, I’m going to go to my room for a while.” To cry, I thought. “Just make yourself at home.” 

 

Then I went into my room and locked the door. I saw my night desk and the pictures on it. All of them were pictures of Jason and I, oh how I miss those days. When we can run around, when we used to be praetors together, when we used to dance in the rain, when we flew in each other’s arms at night so we can see the city lights, the most painful memory was the kiss. Once, before all this started, way before. Before the Titan war even started, we were young and were still kids. As praetors, we worked together everyday, we were so close and one day, after winning the war games, Jason suddenly pulled me into a kiss. I smile at the memory as I still could hear the cheering crowd roar louder as they saw their two praetors, kissing as they were covered in mud and dirt. After the kiss, we were almost a couple. We held hands almost everywhere we go. Jason would sneak into my room late at night to watch movies together or just to chit chat while drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows. Then one day, when we fell asleep on the shores of the Little Tiber, wrapped in each other’s blankets, I woke up in the morning to see him gone. Good thing nobody saw me sleep on the shore of Little Tiber, or questions and rumours would be flying here and there about their us. I sobbed to my pillow as I remember how when I did find him, he came with another girl. In love with her probably just as much as I’m in love with him. 

 

I went to the sink to wash my face, and said to myself. “Don’t let them see you like this. Be strong. Be a tough warrior. Don’t fall in love again. Don’t get hurt.” Even after I say those words, three words keep ringing in my head, the words that Jason said in his sleep right before he was taken. I love you.

 

Chapter Text

 

Reyna seemed a little odd today . She’s very quiet and that is very unlike her. The lesson that Jason learned by working together with Reyna all those years were once she was among her friends, she would be very talkative and very outgoing. But today she seemed off. She invited me to her cabin, apparently she redecorated it. Now it looked more modern and less Roman. “You like it?” Reyna asked. I stayed speechless as I saw the pictures lining up the walls. I smiled and teared up a bit when I saw them, especially the one when Reyna and I won the war games. I remembered kissing her out of nowhere and afterwards, Dakota patted my back and just laughed and shook his head. I managed to blink my tears away though. Reyna made some hot chocolate for me and herself and we toasted for the future. 

 

Suddenly Nico emerged from the shadows and it took everything in me not to jump back and scream like a girl. The mood was happy until Nico almost killed me and demanded an answer why Percy’s missing “Percy’s gone. Gaea took his life.” I told him. The truth had broken the son of Hades, he sobbed at the floor, with both Reyna and I hugging him. Then he shadow travelled outside. “I’m just going to go to my room now,” Reyna told me, “just make yourself at home.” She turned and got to her room. Making myself at home was easy, because this is my home. Sometimes I had a sleepover with Reyna when we were still fellow praetors, so I know my way around her cabin. I guess she still haven’t changed where she put places, only the style. 

 

I was searching for something to snack on, she usually puts some on the scone drawer. When I opened it, it was full of crumpled papers and letters, all of them had my name written in cursive on it. I took one and opened the seal. It said:

 

Dear Jason,

There’s no point in writing this letter for you . You’ll probably never read it anyways . But if you do, I want you to know that I love you . Remember the first time we met ? When I yelled at you for splashing mud over me and my book ? I’ve known since then that I wanted to be fellow praetors with you, for us to be together . I know you’re with  Piper now and that you don’t love me back . But I don’t care, I want you to be happy .  Go ahead . Be happy . I will always love you . Even if you don’t love me back … 

With love, Reyna

 

I read that letter over and over and over again, afraid that I read some parts wrong. I folded the paper back inside the envelope and sat down on the couch. My head began to swirl. How could this be? Reyna loved me all this time? How could I be so stupid? How could I not see it? I need to tell her I love her too. I need to tell her I haven’t forgotten about the kiss we shared. The fireworks that I felt while kissing her. The butterflies in my stomach when I talk with her. But I can’t break Piper’s heart. Oh my gods, why does my life has to be complicated? First, I got kidnapped my Hera and my memories of Reyna and I were erased. Now, I find out that both Reyna and Piper is in love with me. I bury my head in my hands and just let the tears fall to the floor. As I let my tears fall, I could barely hear Reyna’s sobs from her room, the to of us just sits there. 

 

Reyna must have been really hurt all this time I be with Piper. But she wanted me to be happy. Arghh, love can be confusing. I really am starting to hate Cupid (or Eros, whatever) Now I know the pain Nico di Angelo had when he had a crush on Percy. Not knowing what to do, but helplessly in love with someone. I knocked on Reyna’s door, “Reyna? Are you alright?” I asked pressing my ears against her door. “Please let me in. Reyna I’m sorry that I was blind all this time! Please, Reyna, open the door.” I said, my back against the door. Little did I know, Reyna was sitting on the  other side, hearing every word I say, muttering, “I’m sorry Jason, I’m so so sorry.” 

 

Jason stood up, took a paper and a pen, and wrote:

 

’Hey, it’s Jason. Will you please unlock your door?’ 

 

I slid the note under the tiny space under the door. A few seconds later it slid back out

 

‘Why should I? What would you do, once I unlock it?’

 

I picked up the piece of paper and felt that it was wet with tears,

 

Just open up, Reyna. I need to tell you something important

 

I heard the lock on her door click, but the door didn’t budge. I knocked on the door and whispered, “Reyna? Will you come out?” There was a moment of silence, and right when I was about to ask her again, she answered me. “I’m not in the mood to talk to you Jason.” I still could hear her sobbing inside her room. 

I wanted to tell her that I’m sorry for not noticing. I wanted to tell her I’m sorry for breaking her heart, to tell her I’m sorry for leaving her with the burden of ruling the camp alone. I wanted to tell her that I saw her letter for me, but I guess I’ll have to wait until she calms down a bit more. I took another piece of paper since the previous one is still with her, and wrote:

 

Goodbye Reyna, come meet me when you’re ready. I love you

 

I tried my best to scratch out the ‘I love..” part. I’m afraid that if Reyna sees it, she’ll pull away and our friendship would be over for good. I don’t want that to happen. I slide it halfway through the crack, and saw it disappear as Reyna took it. I turned and left her cabin. 

 

The sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly, the opposite of what Jason is feeling right now. The first thing that came into my mind was ‘I should go tell Percy about this. Maybe he can help me.’ Then I remembered that Percy’s gone. I couldn’t talk to him because he’s dead, soul somewhere in the Underworld, probably with Nico di Angelo beside him. I went to go buy two cups of hot chocolate, one for myself, and the other for Reyna. Then I hiked up to the Garden of Bacchus, Reyna’s favourite spot to hang out with him, drinking hot chocolate after a hard day of praetorship. I looked downwards toward New Rome. I could hear laughter and music all the way from above the hill. Being here reminds him of Reyna. He still remembered the lines from the letter that he read previously. ‘Go ahead. Be happy. I will always love you. Even if you don’t love me back.’  Those words kept on ringing inside his head. All those years, she had love me. I was madly searching my brain for any memories I had with her. 

 

“Jason?” I heard someone call my name from behind. Her voice sounded familiar, Reyna. It was her voice. I turned and found out that I was right. “Hey, Reyna.” I greeted her. She looked at me for a while and then turned her attention to the city below us. “Beautiful isn’t it?” I asked her. Trying to break the silence between the two of us. “Yeah.” Reyna answered me. “Everyday I think of maybe living here, after retiring from praetorship. Maybe with a particular someone. My ears turned red because I understand what she was talking about. “I saw your letter.” I blurted out. Her eyes widened and asked me with a nervous tone. “Wh-what letter?” “The one where you say you love me.” I cursed to myself. Why did I say that? Now she’s just going to stay away from me. I looked to Reyna and saw her hugging herself, it is quite chilly in here, so I opened my jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. She winced at my warm touch. “Such a gentleman, huh, Grace?” She said to me, a wide grin on her face. It was pleasant to see her smile that way. It was a very long time since I saw her that way. I can’t help but smile too. 

“Anyways, I need to talk to you about something.” Right after I said that, her smile disappeared, replaced with a frown. I wished I could take that back. I’d do anything to see her smile that way again. “About what?” She asked, eyes fixated on the distance, no longer looking at me. “About everything, about us.” I said, I really need to know her true feelings for me. “As far as I know, there is no such thing as an… us.” She said, the hurt clear fully shown in the word ‘us’. “I saw your letter cabinet.” I just can’t take it anymore. I needed answers. Her cup of hot chocolate fell slipped out of her hands and spilled all over the ground. She immediately crouched down and try to clean it up. I summoned some hot wind to dry it up. Still, she crouched, eyes on the floor, refusing to look  at me. When I gently lift up her chin, I saw that her eyes were glistening with tears, about to break loose, to spill all over her face. “Just ignore what I just said.” I told her. “I can’t stand seeing you sad.” She looked so forlorn that Jason can’t bear the guilt weighing him down. He should’ve been by Reyna’s side all along. He should’ve told her his feelings for her when he still could, when they were still young and innocent. Now it’s too late. Too late to tell her. Too late to be with her. Too late for everything.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

I was sitting on my bed, looking at pictures of the two of us, or as some of our friends used to call us, the Inseparable Pair. The nickname had a funny backstory to it. Once, before Jason was taken away, a child of Hecate pulled a prank on us by cursing us with a spell while we were walking together, while holding hands. The spell made our hands inseparable, hence the nickname. We can’t let go until the next day so we can’t even take off our armour to sleep. We were sitting in the park bench after tugging both our arms in vain. A crowd was gathered around us, throwing flower petals, confetti, or sometimes even grass while roaring in approval. Astrid took a photo of us smiling and blushing like idiots. 

 

I reached out under my bed and took out a small square wooden box. I groped my neck for the key that I hung on the necklace. I unlocked the wooden box and slowly opened it. Inside was photographs of him and I together, with silly faces, the ‘I didn’t know we were taking a picture’ look, sometimes even kissing. Mostly, Gwen took the photos and printed it out for me. Every single time I got one, I stored it inside the box. And inside the box, there was another object. It was a gift from Jason. It was my birthday and he gave me this as a gift. I took out the smaller object and held it in the palm of my hands. I opened it and a familiar lullaby came rolling out. The music was soothing and lulling. A gift from his mother, he said. I put the music box on the night stand next to the bed and listened as the song reminded me of the bitter sweet memories I had with him. 

 

Then I found the picture of the time about how we got the nickname. We were looking at each other and blushing like crazy, flower petals, grass, and paper flying everywhere around us. A drop of water fell to the photo paper and I touched my cheeks in reflex. They were dry, but the next round of tears that came fell against my cheeks as well as the picture. The room was silent, only the sound of the music box was audible. 

 

I tried my best to cry quietly, I taught myself that when I was still living with my father and Hylla in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I didn’t want Hylla nor my father to know when I was crying, especially my father. He got drunk a lot after my mother left us all alone. He gets violent and apparently, the younger me saw that was scary. Of course I did, I still get nightmares. Hylla would always defend me and will always get the punishment for hiding me from harm, his harm. Father would always hit Hylla and she would always return to our room with red slap marks across her cheeks, sometimes even her lips cut and bleeding. 

 

I shook my head to get rid of the image, I didn’t need any more bad memories at the moment. I have enough in my hands already. A knock came from my door and I immediately knew that it was Jason. I stood up and sat in front of the door, my back leaned on against the polished wooden door. Jason called out for me and I pretended that I didn’t hear him. I didn't show any signs that I heard his voice whatsoever, I just sat there, my back against the chocolate-coloured wood. Then a slip of paper slid out from the small crack under the door and I took it in my hands, reading Jason’s handwriting. I replied and slid it back out. We conversed this way, not talking to each other verbally, but writing messages, replying to the other’s without looking directly at their faces. 

 

After a while of writing to each other, he wrote to meet him when I’m ready. I took deep breaths, and exhaled them, trying to calm myself down. It took about half an hour for me to finally calm down, to wipe away the tears, to flush down both the sorrow and anger that dwells inside. I stood up, unlocked the door, and slowly walked outside. Jason’s no longer here, but he never told me where to meet him. 

 

I opened the front door and the cold air hugged my body, making me shiver a little. I walked along the parks and saw all the happy children running around, playing tag, chasing around their sibling or friends, having the childhood that Hylla and I never had. I walked as the road gets more and more steeper with every step I take. I finally reached the place, The Garden of Bacchus, the place where Jason and I usually hang out when we used to be praetors, before all the Greeks came and ruined my life. I don’t blame them, of course. If I wanted to be honest, if I was willing to see the horrible naked truth in front of me, I blame myself for letting him go, I blame myself for everything that has happened every day since his disappearance. Octavian almost convinced me to step down from my praetorship, automatically making him the new praetor. But I caught myself before I slipped, I steadied myself and built a n emotional wall, promising myself to not let anyone else get to near, to not let anyone else close enough to hurt me again. But when he came back with the same handsome features, with the same him, the same personality that made Reyna fall for him in the first place, he wrecked the wall that she had so carefully built around herself and left her hurting and alone again in the ruins of herself. 

 

I was about to turn back and ignore what Jason said, thinking everything, such as meeting him in this very garden, as an extremely horrible idea when I saw him standing at the very edge of the garden, looking at the view of New Rome across the railing in front of him. My lips moved without me meaning to do it but it formed his name before I tried to stop it. “Jason.” I called out in a soft voice. It wasn’t necessarily a whisper but not loud enough to hear through a commotion, good thing the place was silent, the sound of the winds and the leaves rustling against each other are the only sounds that could be heard, other than my voice, that is. He turned around, his blond hair catching the sunlight and glinting. “Hey, Reyna.” He said with a smile. I came closer and he handed me a cup identical with the one also in his hand. I peered inside the cup in my hands and saw that it was hot chocolate and so I sipped it slowly, careful to not burn my tongue. 

 

The silence between us was killing me but I won’t dare open my mouth, afraid of what would come out, afraid that I would say something that I would regret later on. I saw how relaxed he is from the corners of my eyes, his usually up-straight body posture is now slightly slumped, his muscles relaxing, a little smile on his face. I looked away just before he looked at my direction, feeling the blood rushing to my cheeks, making them warm. I looked to the ground and hoped that my blush wasn’t visible but if it did, he didn’t show any signs of recognition. 

 

He tried to start a conversation and at first it worked, we were talking like usual until he blurted out the exact thing that I feared he would say, “I found your letter.” I pretended that I didn’t know what he was talking about and stuttered, “W-what letter?” “The one where you say that you love me.” Almost immediately afterwards, he looked so guilty and my face was probably as pale as a ghost. I put my drink on the railing in front of me and rubbed my arms, shivering not only because of the cool wind that blows through the trees. He out his jacket around me and what I said afterwards made him blush, even the slightest bit. He told me that he wanted to talk to me about something and the smile that was in my face just a second ago melted off my face, replaced by a frown. I had a faint idea on what he wanted to talk but I asked anyways. “About everything, about us.” He said. The word ‘us’ just broke me from inside but I replied to him with a shaky voice. But I wasn’t in the mood to talk about what he wanted to talk about and my hand was so very shaky, that the cup of hot chocolate that I picked up again earlier fell to the ground below my feet. I wasn’t sure if I dropped the cup on purpose so I don’t have to answer his demanding and pressuring questions or if it was because I knew the answers to those questions but are afraid to answer it, afraid that he won’t feel the same way and I’ll make a fool of myself. He cleaned the hot chocolate spill on the ground and when he saw the tears in my eyes, he just left. Left while saying, “I can’t stand seeing you sad.” 

 

When his footsteps receded, I decided to cry my eyes out. I screamed to the gods above, screamed to anybody who was listening, I screamed about how unfair life is, about why does it have to be me. I screamed my throats raw and would pay a million dollars for Jason’s company and a glass of hot chocolate. But not everything I want would come true and I thought that I have learnt that from when I spent wishing that my father would turn out one day as a completely transformed man instead of being an abusive father who’s drunk most of the time and barely takes care of his children. And yet, when I hear footsteps and cool air blown to my back, I almost got whiplash from turning around so fast, half expecting it to be Jason. 

 

A handsome young man with a muscular build in his body, wearing a white suit and pants, having a quiver of arrows strapped on his shoulder and a bow being carried in his hands is standing in the place where I thought Jason would be. I wanted to ask him who he is but he has answered it before I had the time to ask him, “To save your energy, and your raw throat, my name is Eros, err- you’re Roman, so I guess I’m Cupid to you.” I wanted to ask him what a love god was doing here but the only thing that came out of my mouth was a little squeak and even the effort of trying to speak was burning my throat. In a wave of his hand, the broken-down fountain was repaired and was currently pouring out clean water. I walked over and cupped my hands, collected some water and sipped it. The water replenished my thirst and when I wipe my mouth dry, I asked him, “What’s a love god doing in here?” I knew what he was doing here, he’s probably the only one who could fix my problem, for the problem wasn't in the world, for the problem is in myself. “You know exactly what I’m doing here.” He said, carefully folding his gigantic white wings behind him. Tears. They were falling down my cheeks all over again. My already dried cheeks were now over flooded with tears streaming down my eyes. “Why?” I asked in a wavy voice, my legs like overcooked spaghetti, holding everything in me to not sink down to the floor  because I know once I do, I might not be able to gather myself enough to get up again on my own. And I know for sure that this love god standing before me with his red eyes studying me won’t help me up if I do fall. 

 

“Oh, please do stop complaining.” He said, not much of an answer. “Your little friend Nico di Angelo had it worse. Having a crush on the very guy who pretty much killed his sister beats your case every day, don't you think?” He said, an annoying smirk on his face. I nodded, it’s like he got my heart wrapped up tight with a chain and he’s controlling it. Controlling how hard to pull, controlling how hurt I would feel, how happy I would feel. I resented him. “Wait, but his sister’s alive.” I said, confused. I just met Hazel a few hours ago. “Not that sister, the other one.” He growled. Jason did told me once about his biological sister, Bianca di Angelo. She pledged herself to Lady Artemis and then went down in battle. Jason said that Nico has always blamed Percy for her death. Has hated him ever since. “Percy? Nico had a crush on Percy Jackson?” Cupid nodded and the smug look on his face just demands to be punched. “Oh, but little poor Reyna just can’t get over her first love, couldn’t she? She keeps on returning back to that little boy, Jason Grace, even though he cares nothing for you.” He said, very persuasively. Part of me knew that it wasn’t true, Jason did care for me. Even as just a friend. We’ve always got each other’s back since we were kids and I didn’t think that something as silly as crushes would break that bond. But Cupid must’ve some of his mother’s, Venus’ powers, charmspeak. He spoke with such confidence and very persuasively that Reyna couldn’t help but agree. “You’re just a meaningless piece of dust in his eyes, invisible to him. His eyes only see one person, and that would be my step-sister, Piper McLean.” 

 

‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry..’ She repeated to herself as she looked down and bit her lip. But a tear fell again, and this time she couldn’t stop falling to her knees. She knows that Cupid is just trying to keep her off balance by lies, but deep inside she knows that is true. Jason’s heart belongs to Piper, and who am I to come barging in and ruining it? I was looking around, trying to calm myself down as Cupid stares down at me, daring me to stand up again, and I did. I saw the bow and arrows he was carrying and I stood up quickly. “Kill me.” I said. And for the first time, he genuinely looked shock, but that only lasted for two seconds and his face turned into a smirk, “Excuse me?” He asked, even though he was already reaching for one of his deadly arrows. “Kill me. Just kill me. You were right, I meant nothing in his eyes. I’m just a nobody and I’m just a waste of oxygen.” I said, tears falling to the ground, though my voice was strong and steady. “I think I misheard you, Reyna. Would you mind repeating it?” He said as he knocked an arrow on his bow and pulled the strings taut. “Kill me! Gods, how many times do I have to repeat myself? Kill me now! Take my miserable life away from me! Kill me! Kill. Me. Now!” I yelled, the words coming out of me automatically, I’ve been bottling it up for so long that it’s getting worse and worse by the minute. “Kill me, for I am unwanted. Kill me for I am just a waste. Kill me for I am nothing. Kill me, kill me, kill me. Please..” I pleaded. I never thought I would ever plead for my life, but here I am, pleading for somebody to take away my life from me. Pathetic. 

 

“Alright, that’s enough, kid. Are you sure? You can’t undo this.” He seemed like he actually cared about me and that is impossible. “I am 100% sure, Cupid. Pierce an arrow through me! Gods, I know it will hurt, but it won’t hurt as much as I’m hurting now!” “Alrighty then. Say goodbye, Reyna.” By that time I was on my knees, bawling, saying my silent prayers. 10 seconds passed, 15, 30, a minute. What was taking him so long? Cupid seemed like he hates my guts from the moment he saw me. “Yeah, I can’t do this, kid. I mean, I’m here only to make you hate yourself more, not to kill you.” He said, lowering his bow. “Are you serious, right now?! I swear, with all due respect, Lord Cupid, if you don’t pierce that arrow through my heart, I would do it myself.” I yelled, getting angry at him. 

 

Then he looked at something behind me and smirked. “Well, I’ll do it now with the proper audience.” Audience? What was this guy talking about?! I looked behind me and saw Jason approaching. Cupid aimed the arrow to my chest and pulled back the bowstring. I closed my eyes to embrace my death. “Reyna, what are you doing?” I heard his voice ask me from behind. “Oh, Reyna here just convinced me to kill her. By her own will.” Cupid answered for me. “Just do it already! Make it quick.” I said. “See, I told you.” Then he took a deep breath and I managed to whisper, “Goodbye, Jason.” And the arrow flew in the air before Jason could react and punctured me in the chest. The last thing I saw and heard before it struck me and I got sucked up into a void was Jason flipping his coin, attacking Cupid, managed to cut him a little and Cupid disappeared. Jason sat next to me and pulled my head onto his lap. “No, no, no. You are not dying on me. You are not!” He said as a tear drop fell from his face to mine. I smiled weakly and said, “I’m sorry. Goodbye, Jason.” And his face, his warmth, his voice, all vanished, sucked into what seemed like an endless void of darkness. I was gone, and I was finally happy.