WARNING: BLOOD OF OLYMPUS SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. (MAJOR SPOILERS CASUALLY THROWN ABOUT AS IF THEY WERE MINOR SPOILERS. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.)
I MEAN IT. I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO SAY "I DIDN'T KNOW IT HAD SPOILERS!" OR GET ANGRY WITH ME BECAUSE OF THEM.
YOU. HAVE. BEEN. WARNED.
Piper was tired. It had been a long day. Her back was sore. Her arms felt like lead. She blew her hair out of her face. On anyone else it would have simply looked messy. But on her it looked deliberately mussed, adding chic to her simple outfit of a Camp Half-Blood shirt and well-worn jeans. She looked like a model, she couldn’t help it. But she did little to draw attention to herself. At the moment, she was sweaty and sleepy.
She’d forgotten it was Halloween.
She stepped into the Aphrodite cabin, which never failed to smell as if several models had thrown their various perfume bottles through the windows like smelly Molotov cocktails. Breathing shallowly, she frowned at the darkness beyond the door. There was always one of her siblings in here, either testing out some make-up, gossiping or cleaning, it was never empty. The lights were never completely off. Someone’s mirror or the bathroom light was always on.
She flicked the main switch, and scrunched her brow when nothing happened. Did magic cabins have breaker boxes? She wondered. Her heart ached momentarily. In the normal course of things, she would wander down to Bunker 9 or the Hephaestus cabin and get Leo to help her.
But Leo was gone.
She refused to cry again. She was sick of tears and it didn’t help anything anyway. She’d simply get one of Leo’s siblings, and get them to help her. But after she checked things out here.
After all, she may have been a daughter of Aphrodite, but it didn’t mean she was helpless. Finding her way in the dark, she found the flashlight she kept around for emergency purposes-like late night bathroom breaks. Or sneaking into Zeus’s cabin to kiss Jason. One of the many perks of having Charmspeak was if she got caught by a harpy, she could simply convince it that she’d had never been there. She felt bad…but it rarely happened.
Shining the flashlight, she looked for anything obviously wrong with the electricity. All the bulbs couldn’t be blown, she mused. She checked the bathroom light, and got the same result-nothing. Frowning, she wondered if the Stoll brothers had messed with the lights to mess with her. She checked the bulbs, they hadn’t been unscrewed enough to cause them not to work.
“What is wrong with these things?” Piper muttered to herself, resigning herself to getting Jake. She turned and her jaw dropped in shock. The flashlight slipped out of her hand. She couldn’t move. Could barely breathe. Her knees were weak, and she couldn’t think enough to grab a weapon or scream.
She simply stood there stupefied as the figure lifted its hand.
Jason was stumbling his way through a book Annabeth had recommended. He didn’t know much about Greek mythology, and if he was going to create a shrine to every god out there, he needed to know them.
It didn’t mean it couldn’t make his head hurt.
He blinked at the blurry words on the page, his dyslexia making it nearly impossible to decipher the words.
And the Greek? Forget it. He was hardwired for Latin, not Greek. He did pretty well considering. He was twenty pages in and he’d only gotten the book yesterday. He was quite proud of himself.
The lights snapped off.
“Come on, Percy.” Jason rolled his eyes. “Could you be more predictable? Ooooo! The lights turned off! A monster's going to get me. Come on dude, after what we’ve been through do you think some Halloween prank is going to scare me?” When he didn’t get a response, Jason sighed, got up. “Dude. Knock it off. I’m trying to read.” Striding over to the wall, he flipped the light switch back up.
“Seriously?” Jason was getting towards ticked. He wasn’t in the mood for pranks. “Did you get Jake or the Stoll brothers to rig the place? Man, I’m shaking now.” Still no answer, not even a repressed laugh or scuffle of feet. The darkness hung in, clung to walls, clung to him. It was almost unnatural. “Dammit Nico, are you in on this too? You know Solace will kick your ass if he finds out your using your abilities.” When he still didn’t get an answer, he lost his temper. Thunder boomed across the cabin-granted, there was always thunder in Cabin One, but Jason had had enough. Lightning flashed across the ceiling, allowing Jason to see around the cabin.
What he saw nearly brought him to his knees.
Percy and Annabeth were on the beach. It was getting close to curfew. It was pitch black, but they didn’t care. They were splashing in the cold surf, Percy staying dry and extending the ability to Annabeth. Holding hands, they laughed and kissed, their voices muffled by the crashing of the water. Percy pushed Annabeth into an oncoming wave, letting in slam over top of them, but creating a bubble around them. The surf created a show, bubbles skittered along the edge of the bubble, water coursed and dripped. It was almost alive. Annabeth leaned into him, and without even thinking about it, Percy leaned into her. They were connected, even when they were miles apart.
His chin on Annabeth’s head, Percy breathed her in.
He was never letting go again.
“This is fun.” Annabeth smiled. He could hear the humor in her voice.
“Yeah, new favorite sport.” He joked. She giggled. He loved her giggle. Wrapped his arms around her waist, he risked serious injury by tickling her. She fought, screamed with laughter, swore at him, and nearly managed to judo flip him again. But he got his wish-she giggled helplessly for several seconds before Percy had to surrender. When they finally came out of the surf, they were both breathless from laughter. True night had fallen, and not a single animal called. No crickets chirped. No rustle in the undergrowth. Percy suddenly became aware of the unnatural silence.
This is Camp, he told himself. Nothing could hurt him here.
Still, he watching the wood line as he and Annabeth made their way back to the cabins. She’s noticed it too, Percy noted, he knew Annabeth well enough to be able to tell when she was faking being interested in their conversation. She was focusing on the woods.
Percy slipped a casual hand into his pocket and gripped Riptide. A monster that wandered away from the woods he thought. It had happened before. A camper trying to play a prank.
It was Halloween.
Still, fear pooled in the bottom of his gut. Fear that had never really gone away since his time in Tartarus. Fear that this battle could be his last. Fear that he wouldn’t be able to save the people that mattered most. Fear of fear. He hated the weakness, but couldn’t stop it. Fear was a formidable enemy.
Spooky music began to play in slow, mournfully fearful tones. Relief trickled into Percy. Just some idiot trying to scare them. Annabeth rolled her eyes. Really, it was so clichéd. He wasn’t sure even the scariest, goriest of horror movies could scare him now. He faced the trees now, annoyance bubbling through him.
“I don’t care who you are, or if you were put up to this, but it isn’t funny, and it’s not a good joke. So try your tunes on someone else and leave us alone.” Percy snapped out impatiently. Annabeth’s hand was on her bone sword.
“Unless you’d like to meet the end of my blade, I suggest you leave.” She said. The music snapped off suddenly, and footsteps were heard in rapid retreat.
Annabeth was about to laugh when a hand landed on her shoulder and pulled her into a cold, cold, infinitely dark place.
Frank and Hazel were visiting Camp Half-Blood for Halloween. There had been many games and candy filled prizes earlier in the day and curfew was being broken by more than a few kids who were trying to get more candy. For a bunch of ADHD demi-gods, a boatload of free candy seemed like a bad idea.
And indeed, it had made for an interesting day. Sugar intoxicated demi-gods had challenged each other to foolish duels or bounced around like Ping-Pong balls. Arguments over the best candy were abound. No one had been able to sit still; even the calmest of the demi-gods had shifted around as if they were high. Clovis and his Hypnos siblings were positively hyperactive, being awake all through lunch and all.
Frank’s hand slapped against his side, he’d had a bit too much candy as well and couldn’t seem to stop moving some part of his body. Hazel, not that big of a fan of most modern day candy, had been one of the few demi-gods not to overindulge. She looked over at
Frank, amused that even her big lug of a boyfriend couldn’t seem to resist the siren’s call of candy.
“Frank, do yourself a favor, hide your candy, and limit yourself.” She said with a laugh in her voice. “If you come wired up like this to a Senate meeting people will think you’ve had too much of Dakoda’s Cool-Aid.” Frank grinned.
“I won’t be the only one at the Senate meeting who had too much candy.” He said, referring to the one he had next week. “Even Romans love candy. We’ll all be loaded and hiding stashes in the bunkhouses.” Hazel smiled.
“Oh yeah.” She said. “Cohort Five will be crazy when we get back.” Frank laughed, knowing it had been crazy before they’d left. But Reyna had insisted they enjoy some of the Greek’s way of celebration.
“Did you have fun?” Frank asked, hoping he’d said and done all the right things. It was damn scary having a girlfriend to please.
“A blast.” She smiled. “It was almost like Mardi Gras, it was so crazy. They act like wild heathens.” She grinned now, beaming up at Frank. “I’m glad we came.”
“Me too.” Frank squeezed her shoulders, lightly kissed her soft lips, and then, blushing, headed over to Ares cabin. It wasn’t too bad in that cabin, after his…siblings, he supposed, had found out about his shape shifting they’d welcomed him. Percy had warmed him to not tell them that he was related to Poseidon. Apparently, the Ares kids had bad blood with descendants of Poseidon. He supposed it helped that they’d seen him fighting too, and knew he was formidable in battle. The only way to gain respect in the Ares cabin-as far as Frank could tell-was dunking newbies heads in the toilet and dominating the battlefield.
He never made it to the cabin.
Hazel, blushing as hard as Frank, was still giddy from the kiss as she climbed the steps to Hades cabin. It still needed some major work but Nico had managed to make it look less like a vampire’s lair. The beds were normal beds now, and the overall….darkness of the cabin had been lessoned. Green fire still burned at either side of the door, but it was a nice touch. She opened the door and found Nico almost buried in books and papers.
He’d been trying to catch up on seventy years of history, and since a computer would only attract monsters and Nico wasn’t much better with technology than Hazel was, he was reduced to books. He was rubbing his eyes and looked frustrated.
“How could so much change in seventy years?” He muttered slammed a book down on a stack. “I mean, come on! The Second World War ends, and then there’s Korea and Vietnam and-and Communism and Nukes and crap. How can anyone remember so much?”
“It’s a lot to catch up on.” Hazel said, trying to soothe. “You aren’t going to know it all so fast. It’s seventy years Nico. I know how you feel.” She shook her head. “So much has changed down South I’m told. No more Segregation. Can you imagine?”
Nico looked over at his coffee toned sister. She was right. That had to be a major change. Since he didn’t remember much from the 1940s, he didn’t remember how bad racism was. From what he’d read though, Hazel had been lucky to just get bullied. Lynching, he thought with an inward shutter. What a horrid way to die.
“Yeah, Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.” Nico looked at the pages but the words just blurred. “Lots of stuff happened on that front to. I’m glad that happened.”
Hazel’s smile blossomed. “Me too.”
The lights clicked out.
“Oh come on!” Nico snapped. “I swear, whoever that is, do you really think you can scare the freaking children of the god of death with darkness of all things? Save your fake zombies and mummies for the mortals for the god’s sake!”
Halloween really ticked Nico off. What a stupid holiday.
But hey, free candy. Even Nico couldn’t argue with that.
He heard Hazel sigh in frustration. He didn’t blame her. Something creaked across the floor, and he heard the distinct click of the lock on the door.
“Get lost loser.” Hazel snapped, unamused. “It’s not going to work.” Something roared, loud enough to rattle the windows. It was deep, mean and feral. Nico stood, his hand going to his sword. Hazel stepped closer to him.
No human could make a sound so loud.
“Halloween prank: Hades Style?” Nico muttered, wondering if their father or some other god was messing with them.
“Plu-Hades, our father doesn’t play lame pranks.” Hazel said. “I don’t think he plays pranks at all.”
“With what, the world’s loudest conch shell?”
“I don’t know. Stoll brothers. Speaker?” Nico didn’t know enough about tech to know if speakers could be loud enough to shake a cabin.
“I don’t know.” She said. “But it’s still lame.”
They each held a weapon in their hands, waiting.
“The whole camp had to have heard that.” Nico muttered. “They’d have to be deaf not to.” Hazel didn’t answer, she could hear the lock turning, unlocking the door. The door creaked open, letting in some moonlight.
Their weapons fell to the floor.
Piper woke up on a cold, hard floor in a place that smelled like an auto shop. Her head throbbed.
“The hell…?” She muttered and it all came flooding back to her. The dark cabin, the figure in the doorway.
No. It couldn’t be.
She looked around and found other figures moving in the dark light. She saw Jason and stood up quickly, going to him.
“Do you know what’s going on?” She asked him. Jason rubbed his head.
“Not a clue, just that I’m sick to death of passing out.” He muttered. “My cabin though, someone was in there. But….” No he couldn’t say it.
“I am going to hurt whoever did this.” Percy snapped. “I am so sick of being messed with. If it’s a god asking for help, I may just punch them and be done with it.”
“Get in line.” Nico ground out. Someone was playing a cruel, nasty joke on them. “Whoever did this is heading straight to the Underworld.” The ground rumbled with his promise.
“Nico!” Hazel scolded. He still couldn’t use his Underworld powers to much without risking fading away into nothing.
“I know.” He snapped. “But dammit you saw what I did! Playing a trick like that-it’s inexcusable!”
“Who did you see?” Frank asked cautiously. He wasn’t going to bring it up if he was wrong.
And he had to be wrong.
Everyone fell silent.
“Let’s just say it at the same time.” Annabeth suggested. Percy took her hand.
“Okay, Wise Girl,” He said. “Count it down.”
“Three…” Everyone braced, as if expecting a blow. “Two…One.”
A chorus of “Leo!” sounded out. Once the name left their lips they fell silent in shock, the name seemed to echo around the room. No one breathed, grief was a palpable thing. It lived and breathed and threatened to swallow them all whole.
Finally, Frank spoke. “It’s impossible. It’s a prank.” His eyes fired. “Come out coward!” He brandished his sword in a dare. While usually mild mannered, Frank refused to let anyone smear the reputation of a fallen comrade.
“It isn’t enough that he’s dead?” Hazel said in a broken voice. “You have to go and bring it up again? And as a prank. What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” A voice came from the darkness. “I’m just the super fly mcshizzle Leonator of awesomeness. And I couldn’t resist a Halloween scare!” The lights snapped on. Leo leaned casually against a beat up Festus.
Nobody breathed. Piper had tears running down her face and she was shaking her head back and forth.
She and Jason believed him to be alive….but it seemed too good to be true that he was standing right in front of them. Annabeth’s eyes were smoke gray and seemed seconds away from igniting. Nico stared slack jawed at Leo.
He’d felt him die. Granted, there had been something off about it, but still.
Death was death.
Percy was the first to speak. “How-this has to be a dream, or a prank.” He rubbed his temples. “The Hades is going on here.”
“I don’t even think Hades knows.” Nico muttered. “I sure don’t.”
Leo grinned, lightning fast. “Oh come on. You guys can’t believe I would just ditch you like that. I’m the Leonator. Defeater of Gaea. King of the all things mechanical!” His hands lit. “I am the Fire Lord!”
Piper sobbed, ran to him. “Only Leo can make jokes this lame.” She said when she slammed into him. He was solid. He was real.
He was alive.
Indeed, Nico could feel his soul.
It was Leo.
“Holy crap.” Nico muttered.
“It’s…really him?” Percy muttered. Nico nodded mutely.
Annabeth’s eyes ignited. She charged forward, pulling Piper from Leo. Leo paled when he saw Annabeth’s face.
He was in for it now.
“You jerk!” Annabeth shouted. She grabbed him, slammed him to the ground and pinned him. “You better have an explanation for not telling us you’re alive! It’s been two month Leo and not a damn word! We-” Her voice cracked. “We gave you a hero’s funeral.”
Risking the consequences, Percy stepped forward. “Annabeth, let him up. I’m sure he’ll explain.”
“Oh, he will.” A girl’s voice said. Percy froze. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights a very large truck. Annabeth noticed the poorly disguised guilt on Percy’s face and knew.
Calypso stepped into view. She hadn’t been too happy with Leo either when she discovered he hadn’t told his friends of his plans. Jason watched Annabeth like a hawk, he knew this had to be Calypso, he could tell by the look on Percy face. But she almost looked pleased. She released Leo who groaned and flipped himself over.
“Gods, the floor tastes like grease.” He muttered.
“Calypso.” Percy breathed a million emotions slamming around inside him. She smiled at him, but it was purely friendly. Then her expression faded into regret.
“I’m sorry.” She said before Percy could.
“Huh?” He said.
“For cursing you.” She blurted. “It-it was small and mean of me. It’s inexcusable.” She looked to Annabeth. “I apologize, sincerely, for what I’ve done.”
“I figure.” Annabeth said. “For a girl who’s been stuck on an island for 3,000 years, her only company men she can’t help but fall in love with, even knowing they can’t stay; you turned out pretty well. Not as bitter as some would be. I think one major slip is expected. You’re forgiven.”
“Yeah.” Percy said unsure of what to do now. “And I’m sorry too, for not keeping my promise.” Calypso shook her head.
“It’s okay.” She smiled serenely at Leo. “I was meant to be taken off that island by a different hero.” Leo grinned like a fool, and Piper could feel their connection. Leo had finally found love.
“’Fess up boy.” Jason said. “How the hell did you survive that explosion?”
“You…” Piper swallowed. “You were alone. How could you administer the Physician’s Cure?”
“Alone?” Leo cocked his head. “Really?”
“Oh gods I’m stupid.” Annabeth said suddenly. “He wasn’t alone. Festus!” The dragon
grumbled and clicked in response to his name.
“Oh duh.” Hazel muttered. Of course Festus.
“Wow.” Percy muttered. “That was stupid obvious.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Frank demanded.
“I didn’t know if Festus would survive the battle either.” Leo said, for once serious. “And if he did if he would be in any shape to help me. I didn’t know, exactly, what was going to happen. I couldn’t give you guys hope, or have you try and talk me out of it, because I didn’t know how it was going to go down. If I died…and Festus couldn’t resurrect me, well, I didn’t want you guys thinking that I could be alive and try and find me or something.”
“Dammit Leo.” Jason said. “I get it, I do. But you could’ve-I don’t know, left a note if you survived. A damn flying robot or something that would find us and let us know. You rebuilt Festus inside the Argo II and you couldn’t leave a messenger robot?”
Leo blinked. “I didn’t even think of that.” He grinned. “I have to make that now.”
“On topic Leo.” Hazel warned. “You told us some of your plan, had me make a fake Cure. Why not tell us the whole truth?”
“Because no one would’ve let me go through with it.” He said, thinking of Percy. “There was too much risk. I didn’t want to distract you from the battle. And I didn’t know how long it would take to find Calypso or get her off the island.” That hadn’t been fun, Leo thought with a grimace. “There were too many variables, too much margin for error. I’m sorry I caused you grief.”
They all looked at each other, expressions guarded.
“It’s fine man.” Jason said after a long silence that had sweat breaking out on Leo’s brow. “We get it.” He strode over and pulled Leo into a bear hug.
“Don’t you ever do that again, Repair Boy.” Piper warned, hugging him too.
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Beauty Queen.” Leo smiled. Soon a giant group hug had been initiated. Even Nico had been pulled in. Calypso, however, stood back from the group, smiling softly. Percy looked up and held a hand out to her.
“You’re welcome here.” He said. She was pulled into the hug as well.
“Yeah you are, Sunshine.” Leo smiled. He was finally home. “Don’t you ever go anywhere.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Calypso said.
“Oh, and did I mention I brought candy?” Something shifted and metal creaked above.
Hundreds of pounds of candy rained down. Everyone ducked for cover. Jason used his power over wind to protect Piper and himself. Everyone else was on their own.
“Leo!” Chorused out in varying degrees of annoyance.
“Happy Halloween!” He called, cackling. He kissed Calypso as candy rained around them.
It was good to be home.
When they all woke up in the morning, they discovered something.
It had all been a dream.