Merry Christmas, everyone!
Perseus Jackson—the son of Poseidon, one of the Big Three. The Hero of Olympus, and one of the Seven. The bane of both Kronos (a Titan) and Gaea (a primordial deity). Bearer of the world's weight, and survivor of Tartarus. The hero who had led not just one, but two demigod camps, and who had turned down godhood, to boot. Perseus Jackson was a hero, no doubt about it.
Percy was also the type of person who could get tangled up in anything. And currently, the savior of Olympus was hopelessly ensnared in long strands of holiday lights, struggling to get out— to no avail.
"Seaweed Brain!" Annabeth laughed, entering the Poseidon cabin, her grey eyes sparkling merrily. Percy grinned back—his Wise Girl looked amazing. She was clad in holiday attire—a red-and-grey sweater, dark green joggers, and a goofy reindeer headband Percy had given her the day before. While demigods didn't all celebrate Christmas, the holiday spirit was definitely present on the night of Christmas Eve. Trees had been placed outside all the cabins at Camp Half-Blood, and each was decorated… interestingly. The Aphrodite cabin had placed pictures of celebrities in pink-tinged ornaments, with metallic hearts scattered around the branches artfully. Much to Piper's disgust, there was even a picture of her shirtless father in a hot-pink bauble. (Percy had spent a full day teasing her about that.)
The Hermes cabin was lazy, so they stole a fully-decorated tree from a nearby mortal town. That was the most normal-looking tree, which was kind of sad. Nico and Hazel had worked together, making their seven-foot tall tree glitter with gems and flicker with dancing shadows. Jason's tree crackled with electricity and a variety of random objects from both the Greek and Roman camps, while the Ares cabin's tree was decorated with blood red lights and miniature (and full-sized) weapons. Frank was very happy about that… note the sarcasm. The Hephaestus cabin had a mechanical tree, which whirred with churning gears and shone in rust-colored lights from the interior of the "tree". Annabeth's tree was beautifully designed, and had intricate ornaments placed in strategic, eye-catching places. Percy's was decorated with… well, a whole lot of blue. Anything that was blue and fit on the tree—on it went. All that was needed were the (of course) blue lights.
"I was just trying to decorate my tree!" Percy protested, turning his attention back to his fruitless attempt to detach himself from his lights. Laughing together, the couple hung up the lights on Percy's tree, after Annabeth (muttering "Seaweed Brain…") unraveled the cords from Percy.
After the Giant War was over, life had returned to normal—or as normal as a demigod's life was going to get, anyway. The Romans and Greeks had an exchange between demigods at the camps going, and there had even been a few quests completed by the demigods working together—successfully, causing Connor Stoll to win ten drachmas from his brother. And there'd been (almost) no maiming, besides that incident with an angry Clarisse and a drunk Dakota…
Frank and Hazel were at Camp Half-Blood for the holidays, which completed the seven… except for Leo. Whenever he was mentioned, Nico would shake his head sadly. Hazel had had frequent bouts of insomnia, but the Hypnos kids helped with that... somewhat. Frank never talked about Leo, and the first few weeks, whenever he was mentioned, Frank would turn into a weasel, for some reason. And if anyone ever said a single bad thing about him, Frank and Hazel wouldn't hesitate to unleash the full fury of their respective powers on the unlucky person (or monster). Annabeth spent hours upon hours trying to come up with a way Gaea would have been defeated without Leo sacrificing himself. She never did come up with anything else, though.
Jason took it badly, but not as badly as Piper did. The son of Jupiter would try to cheer up everyone else, but Percy knew he blamed himself. He threw himself into his work wholeheartedly—so much that it had begun to worry the others. Piper… she was, quite honestly, a wreck. Talking about Leo seemed to help her, and Percy had learned more about Leo after he'd died than when he was alive. Piper would talk about how Leo used to help her with math and science homework at the Wilderness School, or about how he'd stood up for her against the bullies there, or even about the few things he'd told her about his many foster homes. Percy himself wasn't sure how to react. He and Leo were never close, but still. The cheeky, cheerful fire-user hadn't deserved that kind of ending. Everyone blamed themselves for his death, the ultimate sacrifice, but gradually, they were learning to let go. Several months later was enough time for that, at least.
"What are you thinking about, Percy?" his girlfriend's voice jolted Percy out of his thoughts. He turned to her and smiled.
"Leo…" he answered honestly, glancing around at his fully-decorated cabin and tree.
"We're together," Annabeth assured him, leading him out the door. "Leo would want us to be happy," her voice was soft. "—especially today. And camp looks beautiful!"
It really did. Enchanted snowflakes fluttered down softly, magicked up by the Hecate kids. Campers strolled back and forth, enjoying the rare holiday atmosphere. Percy spotted Clarisse and her siblings arguing with some Aphrodite girls, as usual. But it wasn't angry—it was amiable. The fight was almost like a daily ritual. Drew had even admitted earlier that Clarisse wasn't "that bad-looking". Coming from Drew, that was a huge compliment.
Even the son of Hades was happy, walking to the campfire hand-in-hand with Will Solace. Percy was glad to see Nico so carefree. Gods knew he deserved it. Even if Percy wasn't "his type" (how could anyone not have Percy as their type, though? Come on!), he'd apparently found someone who was his type—the sunny, optimistic son of Apollo. Percy's only explanation for how that happened was that opposites really did attract. Getting back to the point… holiday lights hung on nearly every cabin, and Dionysus, drunk (Zeus had let him, in honor of the holidays), sang a loud, off-key love song to a pair of amused daughters of Demeter. The Stoll brothers ran by, laughing as they chased Lou Ellen, from the Hecate cabin, towards the massive party in the woods.
"Yes. Yes, it does," Percy agreed with his girlfriend, feeling carefree for the first time… well, in a while. Without speaking, he and Annabeth both headed towards the campfire, where Piper, Jason, Frank, Hazel, Nico, and Will were chatting already. The flames were warm and comfortable. Percy caught sight of a little girl in a rich brown dress tending the flames quietly, smiling warmly at him.
"—one of my new half-sisters doesn't know about Santa!" exclaimed Piper, warming her hands over the fire. Jason sat next to her, while Frank and Nico were sprawled on the ground, idly playing Mythomagic as Hazel rested her head on Frank's shoulder. Will occasionally asked a question about the game, but mostly watched. Percy and Annabeth sat across from Jason and Piper.
"Santa?" Nico raised a quizzical eyebrow.
"Oh, gods—you don't know about Santa?" Annabeth laughed, her eyes dancing in the warm glow of the flickering fire.
"I don't either," Hazel piped up. Frank groaned, either because of the conversation, or because he'd just lost to Nico.
"Oh, no—don't start them on Santa! And Nico—why?!" Both reasons, then. Ignoring the son of Mars, Annabeth and Piper began to "educate" the Underworld children on Santa Claus. Percy stifled a laugh, and exchanged amused looks with Frank and Will. Jason just shook his head, smiling.
"You mean, he watches you when you sleep?" Nico asked incredulously. "That's downright creepy!" Percy and Frank eyed each other over the fire, and burst out laughing. Percy toppled over, but Annabeth set him upright again. Of course, being the Seaweed Brain that he was, Percy feel right over again, knocking Hazel into Frank's lap. They didn't seem to mind, but Nico glared at Frank, his eyes saying something like you play Mythomagic, which is the only reason I'm not sending you to the Underworld right now. Annabeth broke into mirthful laughter.
"He also has a naughty-or-nice list," Frank pointed out, still grinning. But Percy guessed it had less to do with the conversation than him having Hazel on his lap.
"Isn't the world too big for him to get to everyone?" Hazel knitted her eyebrows together.
"It is," confirmed Annabeth, still laughing.
"It's a story, guys! There isn't really a fat, white-bearded man in a red suit that flies around stalking people!" Percy joined in, picking himself back up.
"Hey, hey—I'm not that fat, am I?" a voice stopped all conversation. Ringing sounds echoed into the night. They definitely weren't there before, and they sounded… like bells. The campfire grew brighter, and a shadow passed overhead. Percy was suddenly aware that it was getting late, and most of the other campers were either partying in the woods far away, or they had already went to bed for the night. He couldn't hear Dionysus drunkenly singing or see Hestia tending the flames, either.
Percy looked up, and gaped. There—there was a thing flying up above... He couldn't see much, as the sky was growing dark, but he could've sworn on the Styx that there was a figure atop the… thing. It wasn't very large, but not skinny, either. It could've been a slightly overweight person, or two slender people close together—probably one person. What were the odds of there being two mysterious beings? Then again, what were the odds of a giant shadow-thingy appearing in the sky late at night on Christmas Eve?
And why did Percy hear weird laughter? It sounded like ha, ha, ha, but not quite… It—it sounded like ho, ho, ho! It sounded like…
Everyone goggled at Percy, and he couldn't blame them. As ridiculous as it sounded… was it really Santa? Everything matched up. Maybe it was just that all the talk of Santa Claus and his stalker-ish habits had gone to Percy's head… maybe. But Percy wasn't imagining the shape in the sky and the voice. There was no maybe about that.
"What?!" Annabeth narrowed her eyes, gazing up at the dark, cloudless sky. The voice came from a distance away, but sounded vaguely familiar. A monster, maybe?
"Dude, it's not nice to talk about people behind their backs, you know?" A… modern monster?
Piper blinked. "S-Santa? Could…"
Suddenly, Percy felt a whoosh of air fly by in front of him, and a package landed at his feet. Instinctively, he jumped out of the way, fearing the worst. His hand automatically reached for Riptide in his pocket, and he crouched in a defensive stance. Around the fire, the others had weapons drawn as well, as if the package might suddenly sprout fangs and chomp at them. That's actually a distinct possibility with my crappy luck… The harsh firelight highlighted sharp angles and deep shadows, and Percy thought he saw a hydra, but it just turned out to be a trick of the light.
But nothing happened, and Percy noticed, belatedly, something else. The package was a wrapped box, complete with a giant red bow. In Percy's (unfortunately) vast experience, monsters didn't usually gift-wrap bombs or weapons or little baby monsters. Most weren't smart enough to do so, anyway. Santa… Cautiously, Percy picked it up, finding a tag. Could it be..? The figure, the thing it was riding on (a sleigh?), the timing—Christmas Eve… if the Greek and Roman gods could be real, could Santa Claus be real too? Hesitantly, he read the tag out loud to the others.
"To the demigods… from… from…" he trailed off.
"From whom?!" Jason Grace, the only demigod with perfect grammar… "Don't leave us hanging!"
"What?!" was the immediate reaction.
"Let me see!" Hands reached out.
"If this is a prank…" Annabeth didn't look convinced.
"Did the Stolls do this?" Hazel was all-too familiar with them by now.
"Can I see?" Frank's eyebrows furrowed.
"Wait… Santa?" Nico processed the information slowly.
"You better believe it!" the voice called again. Looking up, Percy still saw the figure riding astride the shape. "Now open it!"
Percy rolled his eyes, and took the box back, ripping open the (badly-wrapped) elf wrapping paper. There was a plain brown box inside, and he opened that too. Rather anticlimactically, there was just a sheet of black paper, with white letting on it—at least Santa knew he had dyslexia. Wait… that's incredibly creepy…
He read it. "It says: Look up! Pipes, don't kill me, and—"
Piper had silent tears streaming down her face, and Percy didn't understand at first. Pipes… wasn't that what Leo called her? Oh! Percy glanced around at the others. Jason's face was ashen, and he gripped Piper's arm so tightly that it must have hurt.
Someone startled the son of Poseidon—it was Frank. "Read the r-rest…" he whispered.
"… don't kill me, and… and… merry Christmas," Percy read softly, before ripping the note up. He felt immense pressure building up inside his gut, until he felt he would explode. "Are you kidding me?! Is this some kind of sick joke, Zeus? Hera?! Why—" his voice suddenly failed him. While he'd been yelling… the shape in the sky was gone. Slowly, he remembered the first line of the note—look up! But the shape wasn't anywhere that Percy could see. And all the others were staring, wide-eyed, somewhere behind Percy.
He turned and dropped the ripped note. Because there was Leo. Very much alive, and beaming as he slung an arm over—oh gods—Calypso's shoulders. That wasn't even the most surprising bit. Leo. Leo! LEO! Leo was back—somehow!
Piper and Hazel reacted first, sprinting at the Latino and simultaneously slapping him, once on each cheek. Then Hazel began to sob into his shoulder as he awkwardly patted her—at least until Piper started to punch and slap him more and Jason joined in by practically tackling Leo to the ground in a huge bear hug, his glasses knocked askew. And then Annabeth joined in by socking him in the stomach and Frank just stood there, paralyzed, before running to the fire-user and shouting and hugging him and turning into a golden retriever and turning back to shout at him again… and Will just stood there with a enormous grin as Nico, his eyes fierce, drew his sword and held it against Leo's throat, growling a threat into his ear while Piper alternately screamed, cried, and punched Leo. Leo just stood there next to Calypso, his jaw practically on the ground as he stared at everyone's antics.
And Percy noticed something else. Leo was wearing… a Santa suit. And the gigantic shape he'd been riding on—Festus?!—was adorned with assorted holiday ornaments. In the distance, Christmas music played. And Leo just stood in his Santa costume, complete with a long white beard. It slipped off, and Percy saw the biggest, most genuine smile he'd even seen in his life appear. It stayed, even as Piper hit him for about the tenth time.
"I thought I told you to try not to kill me, Beauty Queen," he grinned. Piper punched him again, half-sobbing but laughing at the same time. "Murdering me as Santa isn't too nice either…"
The beating-up of Leo had stopped (temporarily), and Percy realized that he'd just been staring at everyone else for a good five minutes. Just then, sheepishly, Leo beamed widely. "I'm back!"
The obvious statement broke the tension, and everyone began to laugh (and cry), enveloping Leo into an enormous group hug. No questions were asked—those could wait. What mattered was that Leo was alive. Until then, they were content with just hugging the life out of the newly-returned son of Hephaestus—Calypso even joined in.
Percy began to smile—a huge, wide, Leo-worthy grin—as he realized something. Leo's dressed up like Santa, but… "Leo, you look more like one of Santa's elves that Santa himself!"
And he joined the massive group hug, while Leo weakly protested that he'd given them the best Christmas present ever, so he deserved to be Santa. And Percy had to say—he agreed, though he didn't tell Leo that.
(Leo still looked like an elf, though.)
I hope you enjoyed this one-shot! Review/favorite if you liked it. (Don't bother following- there is a "one" in "one-shot".) If you celebrate it, merry Christmas! Enjoy the holidays!