jk just Keegan, RoseThornOlympia, Guest: Thanks!

CrazyBlueOwl: I know right? I had nearly that much! And that's a really good idea... I'm going to incorporate something like that in later on. You'll see how :) Yeah, I feel like that too... like, at the end of BOO, I was still like "Noooooo... there was no Percy/Piper bonding! Leo/Frank! Nico/everyone! Leo/Percy bonding! No large Frazel moments! No bonding! Argh!" And yeah... you could be the next Confucius or whoever! [insert name of famous philosopher here]

Luna: Yeah... sadly, I do. But my math midterm just finished up today, and I'm freeeeeeee! Thanks! And I do have instagram, but it's my personal, so sorry about that. / I'm excited too XD That sucks. I have a cold... *sniff* Ah, you don't have midterms? Lucky you! I don't have midterms for all my classes though (at least not yet), so that's something. Gah.

awesomeninja09: Was it narcissistic of me to put those, considering I wrote them? Oh well. And... uh... O.O But I'm divergent! And... protego! Thanks for the short and less painful death, though. I think. I hereby declare you not-that-bad of an awesome ninja.

OwlGirl2000: Thanks! And I did watch it! The PJO/HOO series really need to be made into an animated series, and that should totally be the intro! *cough* Rick read this *cough*

SuzuBells: It was awkward for me to write (at first). I mean, Hazel's so sweet and adorable (even as she kills monsters and defeats giants)! Thanks! And I do love my puns... I was trying not to do weird titles for this story, but then I was just like ah, screw it! Thanks again for your constant support :)

Dorian Havilliard: That's the highest compliment :) P!ATD is awesome. And that song is amazing!

Rosycat: You're speechless! (Type-less, whatever.) Thank you soo much for that review! It made my day!

This chapter is sort of filler-y but it's needed for the plot, so whatever. And I was listening to Fall Out Boy while writing this... they are amazing. Oh, a warning: There is a lot of cursing (no f-bombs, though) in the later parts of the chapter, mainly by Grudge.

Piper

Piper couldn't stop laughing, even though there was pretty much nothing to be laughing about. The whole thing was just so ridiculous all of a sudden—they were kids of Greek gods—who'd saved the world and defeated the earth herself—and now their personalities were split apart by an entirely too overbearing goddess just so they could "bond".

Ha. Bond. More like you-don't-really-have-a-choice-and-by-the-way-I've-frozen-time-so-you-can't-escape-and-one-more-thing-you'll-lose-your-flaw-forever-if-you-don't-bond—wait! Piper distinctly remembered Hera saying the flaws would be returned to the demigods after they finished bonding. Yet they were still there. In separate bodies.

Piper's mind raced, and her laugh faded from her lips. Subconsciously, she clutched Jason (who was sitting right next to her) by the arm. If the flaws didn't come back—what would happen? Would the demigods be stuck, frozen in time, until they did get the flaws back? Or would Hera send them back into normal time without major parts of their personalities? Or—stop it, McLean! You've faced giants and mythological monsters—like Drew. You can do this. Piper felt a sudden rush of confidence in herself, rising and swelling. Without meaning to, her heartbeat settled and her breathing evened out, but her mind was primed and ready. It felt like a million, sassy, vaguely likeable, Pipers had settled in her brain and began directing her on what to do.

Tell the others! Confront Hera! Piper started to do exactly that, but a thought struck her and she snapped her mouth closed. If not having Fear felt like that… did she even need it? No! No! N—yes! No! No! Piper bit her lip, ignoring Jason's worried glance. Before either could do anything, though, someone else spoke.

"Oh gods—this is bad." Annabeth spoke, not laughing anymore. While her voice was still relatively timid and soft, everyone could her the undisguised, panicked urgency in the daughter of Athena's tone. Pride or no Pride, they still listened to her. But Piper was beginning to wonder… the rest of the group had good ideas too, not just Annabeth. With Pride out of the way, maybe the others would get a chance to make their ideas heard, too…

"What? We're done with all this crappy bonding!" Leo cheered, pumping his fist in the air. Piper felt a stone drop into her gut. It had been bearable when she'd thought it, but hearing it aloud… whole other story. The flaws weren't back. They might never be. And the scariest part of it was that Piper might have preferred that. There was silence, as the fifteen demigods and flaws processed what Leo had said. Piper saw it in their expressions of dawning comprehension, ten their simultaneous looks of panic, horror, anger, and… what was that? Percy had an odd look on his face as he glanced between Loyalty and Annabeth. (Jason looked strange as well, but maybe that was because Piper was cutting off his arm's blood circulation. She smiled slightly and released her grip.) Pandemonium broke out

"Wait—so—we didn't—" Insecurity stuttered, while Frank and Hazel exchanged meaningful glances.

"I don't understand… she said after, so…" Pride stoop up and began pacing thoughtfully.

"This is a load of bull!" Loyalty stood and glared at Hera, slamming his palms against the table. Duty shook his head, but glared too. Piper briefly wondered how much this sucked for the flaws—getting pulled out from a body (ick), needing to re-watch memories, this… She watched intently as Fear, Guilt, Inferiority, and Annabeth huddled together, whispering furiously. Grudge only shrugged slightly. He doesn't really care, since Nico himself isn't here… Hey, maybe that was why Nico wasn't there—Hades, as the lord of the dead, might have figured out that this would happen.

"Did we not bond enough?" Jason asked Piper. She shrugged—she had absolutely no idea. She glanced around, wondering where Leo and Percy had gone off to. Sure enough, Piper spotted them holding a rather loud conversation with Hera, who kept trying to talk but was always cut off by one of them.

Finally, the goddess appeared to get fed up. "Silence!" she roared, and the entire group fell silent, though Piper was sure everyone's thoughts were just as R-rated as hers. What kind of explanation could Hera possibly give? More importantly, was she going to provide an actual solution to the mess? She didn't know if the others remembered, but Piper definitely remembered that it was Hera's fault the flaws had left the demigods in the first place.

"Thank you. Have a seat, everyone." With varying shades of reluctance, those who were standing sat down, scattered throughout the dining pavilion. Hera stood. "Your flaws were supposed to return after you bond. I've shown memories, let you rant, let you tell secrets…" She's talking like she did us a big favor. What a load of crap.

Loyalty snorted, but a glare from Pride and Duty quickly quieted him. Hera continued speaking in a slightly less patronizing tone. "I don't know exactly why your flaws haven't been returned yet. But this process requires that both parties reach an agreement. At that very moment, the painful returning process will begin." Cut the jargon already! Piper wanted to scream. She knew a stalling technique when she heard one. Movie actors and teenagers were the best procrastinators, and she had experience with both. But what if Hera wasn't stalling? Both parties…

Insecurity raised his hand meekly, and the queen of the gods nodded at him. However, Frank was the one that spoke in lieu of his flaw. "What the hell is that supposed to mean, in non-lawyer talk?" he crossed his arms, scowling.

Piper had just enough time to wonder about Frank's new demeanor before Pride responded to him. "It means…" she paused ever-so-slightly. "It means that both the flaw and the demigod have to be willing to join back together. So if that's not happening… well, someone here doesn't agree. And in order for us to join, everyone needs to agree."

Someone didn't agree to reunite he flaws with the other parts of the demigods' personalities? Why would… oh. Flaws are fatal, duh … I wonder if it's just the flaws that don't want to be reunited, or the demigods. Do I want to have Fear back? She thought back to how she'd felt during that sudden surge of confidence. It'd felt great, sure, but not in a healthy or natural way. It was more like the effects of alcohol or something unnatural. After all, there was a reason why humans (half-humans) weren't flawless. Without any fear at all, was Piper even half-human? She tried to imagine a world in which fear was nonexistent.

She couldn't, and so she made her decision. But suddenly, Piper was jolted, rather rudely, from her thoughts as someone began to talk. By then, Piper had already made her choice. Being flawless—it sucked. She wanted Fear back. And ironically, it was just as the last traces of Fear left her that she decided that. Because with Fear, she wouldn't—to put it plainly—been scared to have her flaw back. But since she wasn't fearful… she wanted it. Paradoxical irony.

"I don't want to!" Piper spun around to face the dissenter—who was it? One of the more outspoken flaws—Duty, Loyalty, or Pride? One of the demigods with less-than-great flaws—herself, Frank, Leo, or Hazel? Or maybe even Grudge—no, that wouldn't make sense, since Nico-not-the-flaw wasn't even there in the first place.

It wasn't any one of those. It was Percy.

"What?!" Pride exploded, her face turning red and pale at the same time. "Do you even know how stupid you're being?! Do you want to be stuck here?! Do you want to lose Loyalty—which is a good trait?!" Her voice got progressively higher and higher. But before Percy and her could begin arguing like an elderly couple—

"I don't want my flaw either," the person sitting next to Piper said quietly. Jason. Wait—Jason?!

"What?!" Piper gazed at Jason, not daring to believe it. "Why—Duty isn't a bad thing, it—" It's actually useful.

"But it's my flaw," Jason ran his fingers through his hair. "I have way too much of it, and it stresses me out, puts too much pressure on me—even though I'm not praetor anymore. Duty was what made me accept that job to recognize all the gods—do you know how many there are? I'll die doing that! There are thousands upon thousands of unrecognized gods that are on the brink of fading! Gods of every single little useless obsolete thing you can imagine!" Piper tuned out everything else. She'd known what Jason was saying in the back of her mind—how big of a responsibility he'd taken on. But still. "I don't want to spend my life travelling back and forth doing that. All I want is to stay and one place and be happy." His voice dipped. "And now I have a chance to be free."

There were so many things wrong with that. He'd made a promise to honor all the gods. A promise was a promise, flaw or not. And the travelling… was he really using that as a reason? (He kind of did have a point…) And the thing that made Piper the angriest and hurt at the same time was that he'd made not a single mention of her. At all. Not even when he'd said he wanted to be happy. But that wasn't the problem. The problem was that Jason was being a selfish jerk. Piper wanted to punch some sense into him; she needed to make him see reason, because Jason just wasn't Jason without his sense of duty. Losing that would be like… Leo without humor. Percy without loyalty. Annabeth without perseverance. It would be like… well, a hero without a flaw.

"Listen to me," Piper kept her voice dangerously even. "You will not disagree with getting your flaw back. You will have Duty, as annoying as he may be. You will listen. Okay?" She leaned her head against the son of Jupiter's shoulder, suddenly feeling cold and tired. But when she felt him nodding almost mechanically, his eyes glazed, she tensed. She'd used charmspeak. She hadn't meant to do that! Panting, she shook him, and his clear blue eyes suddenly seemed to buzz with electricity.

"Did you—"

"Yeah," she admitted. "But seriously, Jason! It's not going to work, and I bet you know that. Holding out isn't going to work." She glanced around, and with some surprise, found that nobody was really paying attention to them.

Several others were arguing with one another, as Hera sat down heavily. Listening while Jason deliberated, she managed to figure out what the heck was going on—apparently, Frank didn't want his flaw either. He and Percy were trying to convince Leo that he shouldn't get Inferiority back, while the two Hazels and Insecurity were adamant on the opposite side. Fear appeared to join Frank and Percy's side. The others were nearby, discussing their own private things.

"Oh, schist," Piper sighed. She rose from her seat, along with an unenthusiastic Jason, and approached the arguing group.

"—seriously? Inferiority's useless!" Frank gestured to the flaw, who only nodded—a slight inclination of his grease-smeared chin—as if he'd accepted that long ago. It wasn't Leo's hesitant look, or Frank's words, or even anything else that made Piper's blood boil, though. It was the fact that Inferiority seemed to accept his so-called uselessness. He accepted it; that wasn't acceptable.

All her life, Piper had chafed against authority. She was a rebel by nature. First it was her father's coworkers—how dare they take away the little, precious time she had with him? Then the stuck-up, bullying snobs in school, and the teachers that turned a blind eye. The gods, even, because what right did they have to turn her life upside-down for their own benefit? And Gaea, for sure. Piper hated being told what to do—being told what she could and couldn't be, what she could and couldn't do, whether she could live or die.

And here was Inferiority, the flaw of her best friend, just standing—well, sitting—there. Taking it. He just took it. He took it.

Piper must've suddenly gotten a glint in her eye or something, because Jason tried to pull her back. She shrugged him off and continued marching toward the group, intending to give them a piece of her mind. As it turned out, though, Jason needn't have tried. Piper stopped dead in her tracks and stared.

Grudge had somehow managed to slip himself into the middle of the circle, unseen. But now he was the subject of everyone's full, undivided attention. Everyone crept forward, waiting. "You're all being idiots!" he said exasperatedly. His dark eyes shined with a purpose, and he even stood straighter. This wasn't a moody, brooding son of Hades. This was a leader, a powerful warrior, a deadly adversary. The very grass at his feet seemed to shiver.

"What?" Percy groaned. Piper and Grudge both ignored him.

"You realize you can't live without your flaws, crappy as they may be, right? What the hell are you thinking? No, wait, you're freaking not. And flaws—" Grudge turned to Fear. "—are you effing serious? Fear. Where's that shit gonna get you? You need the rest of Piper to balance you out. Taking away the damn problem doesn't help. Solving it does… I would know." Though the last part was said in a whisper, Piper heard and remembered the son of Hades' memories of Percy—he'd run from Camp Half-Blood so he would be away from the "problem", Percy. But that hadn't fixed anything (not that his sexuality needed to be fixed). "With a flaw, you'll die."

Well, that was inspirational. (And Piper hadn't known that a person could actually curse that many times and make it seem natural.) Yet, Jason was nodding with a guilty expression.

"Well, eventually, you'll die. But without a flaw, you won't die, because you're not even living. You're not alive if you're flawless. Percy, Jason, Frank, Fear, Leo—damn, you're being stupid. Your reasons for not wanting to go back are freaking stupid and borderline idiotic. Nobody wants a disloyal friend—or an irresponsible one—or a cocky, brash idiot—or an insecure wimp—or an overconfident, swaggering jokester—with them. Hell, I don't care what you do want, but you need to want your entire self. What the hell is hating yourself doing? I've done that shit before."

"It's useless. So dammit, stop it!"

The words echoed—whether throughout the silent camp or in Piper's mind, she didn't know. Despite the cursing and attitude… he made sense. But one by one, the holdouts nodded. Percy looked reluctant; Jason nodded sheepishly; Frank looked conflicted; Fear swallowed audibly; Leo seemed stricken. They nodded. Hera nodded, and Piper nodded, bracing herself for the process that she knew would come next. Because Hera had said that as soon as they agreed, the flaws would be returned. Everybody nodded silently.

(They all looked like bobble-head dolls.)

There was a blinding, golden flash that was so bright that Piper couldn't see and the world was gold and every single thing was gold and everything was just gold. It was all gold, and she felt herself coming back together. And her thoughts whirled and rushed around in the gold.

Everything was golden. Ouch… what was that? She felt a tugging sensation. And then she was sucked into a whirlwind of memories that she'd experienced already, and those she hadn't yet experienced at all. Somehow, instinctively, she understood that she was reliving everything, and pre-living everything else, and that this was the "painful" process Hera had cited. But she remembered something else. She'd been flawless. Flawless. That was perfect. Flaw. That was imperfection. Flawless. Flaw. Less. Less. Flaw. Hey, would you look at that—flawless had less and flaw in it. Less flaw. Flawless equaled less flaws. Flawless. Everything was golden.

Thanks for reading! Drop a review if you liked it. I'm thinking that there will be two chapters left in the whole story... sadness.

Next chapter will be updated Thursday-Friday next week, because I have next to no homework after midterms are over (and doing some in class helped too). And happy day-late birthday to Nico!