Okay, guys! Here is the PJO oneshot I promised like, two months ago.
This is an AU where one of Leo's foster homes was right next to the Jackson-Ugliano apartment, and he and Percy knew each other. It goes through their reunion at Camp Jupiter.
I'll be honest, I don't really love this. I love the idea, but I'm not happy with how I wrote it.
WARNINGS: Child abuse mentioned. It's all off-screen, and nothing too graphic.
SPOILERS: A teensy bit of The Lost Hero, and pieces of Mark of Athena.
The tiny Latino sniffled, curling into himself on the icy ground and covering his head as the bullies laughed above him.
"Aww, look at the pathetic little baby," sneered one of them. "If we hit you, are you gonna cry like one, too?" He raised his foot to kick him again.
Leo closed his eyes and braced for the impact that he knew was coming.
"Leave him alone, Brady," said a new voice, low and hard and angry. "Or I'll beat the tar out of you."
The bully laughed again, but there was a definite edge of nervousness to it now. "Yeah, right, Jackson! There are five of us, and only one of you!"
"Try me," the new voice growled. "I beg of you. Try me. I really, really want to hit something right now."
Brady huffed. "Well fine, if you're gonna make such a big deal out of it!"
Leo heard the bullies moving off a lot quicker than they'd arrived.
"Hey, are you okay?" the voice was a lot closer, and it sounded totally different.
Leo cautiously cracked one eye open, leaving his arms over his head and staying curled up tight. The other boy had tangled, messy black hair and startlingly bright sea-green eyes. Those eyes were currently locked onto his with concern.
"I'm fine," Leo whispered. "Who are you?"
The boy grinned and helped him upright. "I'm Percy Jackson," he said. "You?"
Percy's grin turned into something softer. "Hey, do you wanna come to my house? You look like you're starving. My mom made cookies earlier, and you can have some if you want. Come on!" He grabbed Leo's wrist—right over the bruises his latest foster dad had given him this morning. Leo yelped and pulled away.
"Oh, crud, did they hurt you?" Percy winced. "I'm sorry! Here, let me see."
He took Leo's wrist again—albeit much gentler this time—and eased up the sleeve of his sweater before Leo could shove him off.
The bruises were in the very clear imprint of a hand.
Percy's eyes darkened.
Leo laughed nervously. "Weird, aren't they?" he started babbling. "It's totally wacked out, but let me tell you where I got those. I was outside, you see, and there's this really big drainage pipe, and—"
Percy tilted his head back and pulled down his jacket collar, and Leo's words died in his throat as he saw the necklace of bruises identical to his own hidden behind Percy's scarf.
"Oh," he said.
Percy gave him a sad little grin. "I get it."
"Oh," Leo said again, feeling his eyes well up with tears.
"Hey, no, don't do that," Percy said quickly. He reached out and patted the Latino on the back. "It's okay. Well, it's not really okay. It's kind of terrible, but we'll definitely be okay. I've got your back now, okay? We can be friends! But only if you want, I mean, we don't have to be friends—"
Leo's tears overflowed. "I don't—I don't wanna be alone anymore," he whispered.
Percy's arms came up around him, strong and safe. "You won't be," he said, sounding much, much older than his seven years. "You won't ever be alone again, Leo. I promise."
Leo's eyes opened slowly, and he stared out the window of the school bus at the miles of desert that stretched clear to the horizon.
That was the first time he'd dreamed of New York in a long time. He wondered how Percy was doing, back in New York. Percy would be almost seventeen, now. The two years he'd spent in New York were the best in his life, if he didn't count his life before his mo—before. His life before.
Sally and Percy had been so wonderful. Leo's foster family at the time had lived literally right next door to the Jacksons—and Smelly Gabe.
Even eight years later, the thought of that wretched man made him clench his fists. Percy had crawled to his balcony so many times, beat to hell and back. Leo had done what he could each time, and when his foster dad went down the bottle, Percy would return the favor. Sally had made them cookies, and tucked them in when they had sleepovers—which was basically every night. They had given him a door-is-always-open promise. Matter of fact, he still had a key to the apartment on a chain around his neck. The Jacksons were the ones who threw him birthday parties. They were always really small, just the three of them, some cookies, and a pizza, but it was always more than enough for him.
"You're my brother now!" Percy had said that first year, eyes sparkling and grin so wide Leo was half afraid he'd split his face open.
Sally had laughed and taken pictures of Leo's plate-sized eyes and open jaw.
"What are you looking at me for?" she'd said when he turned to her in disbelief. "Percy didn't stutter, did he?"
Then he'd dissolved into tears, and they'd dogpiled him.
He'd had a family again, for the first time since—since Before.
But then one of the neighbors had seen Evan, his foster dad, hit him. They called CPS, and before he could blink, Leo was ripped away from the only family he had left.
"Brothers, remember?" Percy said hoarsely, the day the social workers were taking Leo away. Gabe had gotten in a good hit to his throat last night, and he really shouldn't be talking at all, but well, this was Percy.
Leo couldn't speak for his tears.
Percy wrapped him tight in his arms. "Brothers for the rest of eternity. We swore. Blood brothers, remember?"
Leo nodded. "What if—what if we tell them about Gabe?" he whispered. "Would they—would they take him away?"
"No," Percy whispered, kissing the top of his head. "They would take me away from mom, and they would separate you and me. Better I stay here. That way, you always know where I am. I will always be here for you, Leonidas, you hear me?"
Leo laugh/sobbed at the old nickname. "I hear you."
"Good," Percy laughed, but it broke and now he was crying, too. "Because my throat really hurts and I don't think I can say it again."
He held the Latino boy until the social workers literally pried them apart.
"Love you, Little Lion," he said, pressing their foreheads together. "Brothers for the rest of eternity."
"L-love you, too, Perce," Leo whispered.
He clung to Percy's hands and tried not to scream when the social workers pulled him away, into the car.
Percy ran after them and rapped on the window in Morse code: I LOVE YOU.
Leo rapped it back as fast as he could, as many times as he could before the car pulled away. He stared out the back window until he couldn't see the slender, beaten figure in the old alley anymore.
That was when he screamed.
He blinked, twisting his head around. "Yeah, Beauty Queen?"
Piper scowled at him. "I told you not to call me that!"
He grinned unrepentantly. "My bad."
She rolled her eyes as Coach stood up.
"We are approaching our destination, cupcakes!" he bellowed into his megaphone.
Leo snorted and wondered how long it would take his "upgrades" to kick in…
"The cow says moo— VALDEZ!"
They were hovering over New Rome, and Leo was dancing with nerves. Percy Jackson was down there. Perce. His big brother. For the first time in eight years, he was going to see his brother.
Oh, if this ship took any longer to land, he was jumping!
Finally—finally—they set down and filed off the ramp.
There were a lot of introductions happening, but Leo ignored them all, eyes raking back and forth over the assembled crowd of Romans.
Come on, come on, where are you?
Then there was a disturbance in the crowd, and—by the gods.
It was Percy.
Unbidden, Leo felt his eyes flood with tears.
He was almost two feet taller, slim and lean and tan. Silver scars marred his skin in several places, and his green eyes were a lot darker than they used to be.
But it was definitely Percy.
Annabeth shot forward and judo flipped him, and Leo let out a watery laugh.
His whole body was trembling.
Percy dragged himself to his feet, rubbing his back and grinning like a lunatic.
(Which, let's be honest, he kind of is)
His eyes moved over the assembled demigods, and then his smile shattered and his eyes were very much only nine years old again and he stopped breathing when he saw Leo.
"Leo?" he whispered, eyes wide and mouth slightly open.
"Wait, you know him?" Annabeth looked really confused.
Percy ignored her. "Leo?" he said again, and his voice cracked a little with desperation.
Leo felt a tear slide down his face. He offered a tiny little wave.
"Hey, Perce," he croaked.
Percy stretched out his arms and Leo was sobbing and flying into them and clinging to him.
"Hey, Little Lion," Percy said, deep voice choked with tears. He laughed and pressed Leo closer to him with a hand on the back of his head.
"Shh, Little Brother," Percy whispered, kissing his temple. "I've got you. I'm here. You found me."
Leo clung to him until his fingers cramped.
He could hear the others yelling in the background, but he didn't care enough to try to listen to what they were saying. All he cared about was the steady beat of his brother's heart, the strong arms holding him tight, and that familiar voice murmuring steadily into his ear.
Besides, Percy was holding on to him at least as tightly.
That awful, cold feeling that had been haunting him since they left Camp Half-Blood fled in the face of such warm, overwhelming love, and Leo felt more like himself than he had since the day he left New York.
Percy was shaking, and Leo knew the older boy was crying. Percy wasn't a loud crier—that had always ticked Gabe off. No, Percy's sobs were utterly silent, and that always made Leo's heart hurt more than if he had been screaming.
"Hey," he said, voice wrecked. "Hey, you're good. You're good. Brothers for eternity, remember?"
Percy laughed, but it was far too wet for Leo's taste.
He tapped out I LOVE YOU on Percy's back, and couldn't contain his smile when the older boy reciprocated.
"Okay, what is happening?!" Annabeth half-shouted.
"Leo?" said a soft, confused, kinda hurt voice.
That was Piper, and Leo felt a quick spear of guilt. Poor Pipes…finding out that Jason hadn't been real was bad enough, but now knowing that her real friend had lied to her, too?
He sniffed and wiped his eyes as he reluctantly pulled away from his brother. He turned to face Piper, intending to apologize, but she was already two steps ahead.
"No way," she said, eyes sparkling. "This is that boy you were talking about, isn't it? The one from New York?"
He stared at her, shocked out of his tears. "You remember that?"
She lightly smacked his arm. "Of course I remember that! It was the first time you really trusted me with anything personal!" she squealed then, and shot forward to hug him. "I am so happy you found him again!"
"Telling stories about me, Little Lion?" Percy's voice was still a little hoarse, and Annabeth's anger quickly evaporated at the totally overjoyed, totally overwhelmed look on his face.
She stepped up and wiped his tears away.
Leo grinned. "Yep."
Percy snorted, kissing Annabeth's forehead. "And not a good thing among them, I'll bet."
Leo's grin turned downright wicked. "Nope."
"Leo Valdez!" Piper smacked him again. She turned to face Percy, and surprised him with a huge hug. Then she stepped back, leaving her hands on his shoulders. "Thank you," she said, eyes shining with sincerity. "For taking care of him. He's basically my little brother at this point, and I am so glad he had you." Her multi-colored eyes sparkled with tears.
"Well, lucky me," Percy said warmly, gently wiping the tear that escaped. "Now I've got an awesome little sis."
Piper's whole face lit up, and she threw herself at him again. He laughed and hugged her tight. One of her arms flailed in Leo's general direction, latching onto his collar and dragging him into the embrace as well.
Leo hadn't been this happy in over eight years.
Reyna had gotten the whole courtyard cleared of spectators remarkably quickly, and now Annabeth, Jason, Reyna, and the two Romans who'd come up with Percy were the only ones still there.
"Do you have any idea what's happening?" Jason asked Annabeth.
The blonde shook her head. "I don't," she said softly.
Reyna's eyes were suspiciously bright as she looked at the still-embracing teens. "I do not know what is happening," she said softly, "but from the amount of love and relief in their eyes, it cannot be anything but good."
The girl with golden eyes was wiping her was wiping away tears, and the big guy behind her rested his hands on her shoulders.
"I'm sorry, I'm not meaning to be rude," Annabeth said. "We haven't met yet. I'm Annabeth."
The boy snorted, and the girl giggled. "We know," she said in a clear, sweet voice. "He talks about you all the time." She held out her hand, and Annabeth shook it with a grin. "I'm Hazel."
"And I'm Frank," the big guy said.
The daughter of Athena smiled at them as Jason introduced—and re-introduced, as it were—himself to the two of them.
"Mom's gonna flip," Percy laughed, drawing their attention again.
The three had let go of each other, but Percy still had a protective arm slung over both of their shoulders.
Leo's eyes went very wide. "Mom?" his voice broke, and Percy kissed his forehead.
"You bet," he said. "We still light a cupcake every year on your birthday."
Leo's smile could have outshone the sun. "I can't wait to see her!"
"Me, either!" Piper was practically jumping up and down. "I've never had a mom-figure…"
Percy ruffled her hair with a wide grin. "She's always wanted a daughter. Now she has two."
Piper tilted her head, and Percy nodded towards Annabeth. The daughter of Aphrodite nodded.
"Gods have mercy," Jason groaned.
"What?" Reyna stiffened, and all of the others looked around warily.
"They've only known each other for five minutes and they're already having silent conversations!" Jason mock-wailed. "Annabeth, for the love of Jupiter, tell me Percy doesn't do pranks."
In eerie unison, all three siblings smiled.
"That's it!" Jason threw his hands up. "I quit!"
Reyna snorted, covering her smile with her hand as Frank and Hazel laughed freely. Annabeth shook her head, but she was smiling as well.
Then Percy bit his lip. "Speaking of Mom…" he turned to Annabeth. "I—I left a message. At some point…" his eyes clouded. "I can't…really remember exactly when…but as soon as I remembered her, I called her. Did she—"
The daughter of Athena nodded fast as she could. "Yeah, she got it. IM'd me at three o'clock in the morning, but yeah. She definitely got it."
"Oh," Percy nodded, swallowing hard. "That's—yeah. That's good."
Leo wrapped his arms around the son of Poseidon's waist, and Percy draped his right arm over Leo's shoulders and his left arm over Piper's.
Leo's smile faltered when he realized that the older boy was trembling.
"So I am actually fully aware of how serious and important this whole meeting and conversation is and all that jazz, but can we take, like, a half an hour?" Leo widened his eyes as he stared at Annabeth, Reyna, and Jason. "Please?"
"If you don't mind?" Piper chipped in, biting her lip and letting her eyes water just a little.
Percy didn't say anything, but there was a raw desperation in his eyes, and Annabeth could see it.
She turned to the Roman leaders. "We can manage for an hour, right? After all, in spite of the fact that Percy is the leader of Camp Half-Blood, I am currently a little more up-to-date on the goings on."
"Absolutely," Reyna gave the three of them a smile, and from Jason's wide eyes, that was a pretty uncommon occurrence. "It is a bit later in the day, so why don't Annabeth, Jason, Frank, Hazel, and I begin to write up some agreements and plans, and we'll have a full gathering tomorrow morning?"
"Thank you," Percy said hoarsely. "Thank you so much."
Reyna's dark eyes glittered, and she stepped forward to place a hand on Percy's cheek and a kiss on his forehead. "You are not the only one who has been abruptly and unexpectedly reunited with a long-lost sibling in the past two days. I owe you far more than this."
He gave her a watery smile, and she smiled back. "Use my house," she offered. "No one should bother you there."
"Awe, thanks, Praetor," he joked softly, and tugged on Leo and Piper as she mock glared at him.
"Get out of here, you Graecus," she said, gently shoving his chest.
"See you in a bit, Jason," Piper waved and Leo saluted as Annabeth kissed Percy.
"You're okay, right?" she whispered.
He pressed their foreheads together. "I'm good. And my parents, and you—"
"I'm fine." She sighed and closed her eyes. "And your mom and Paul are just fine. Worried, but they're fine. Camp is doing great—Clarisse is tormenting the younger campers to hide the fact that she misses you."
"Every plant in a five-mile radius has wilted, because Katie and the Satyrs couldn't find you with any nature spells, and the Naiads haven't flirted with anyone in weeks." She sniffed. "Travis, Connor, and Chris haven't stolen anything in six months, and even Clovis and his siblings have been staying awake and helping direct dreams to try and find you. Malcolm has stayed up all night with me more times than I can count, and I honestly don't think Thalia's slept since we discovered you were missing."
Percy frowned. "That's not good."
"I'm so glad you were here," she gave a tremulous smile. "I was so worried you'd be alone."
He hesitated for a heartbeat, then hugged her tight again. "Me, too. I'll tell you all about it later," he promised.
"Right, right," she pushed him away lightly. "Go catch up! Reyna, Jason, and I are going to go get started."
"Awesome." He kissed her forehead. "Love you, Wise Girl. See you in a bit."
"Love you, too, Seaweed Brain."
Percy took them back to Reyna's Praetor home, which had Leo whistling and Piper's eyebrows going up. They settled in the living room, and Leo tucked himself under one of the older boy's arms.
"Why can I feel all of your ribs?" he asked, very displeased.
Percy sighed and raked the fingers of his other hand through his hair as Piper sat on the floor in front of them and leaned on their legs.
"I may or may not have lied to Annabeth," he said.
Piper's jaw dropped. "You what?!"
Percy winced. "Yeah, I know, but she said she was glad that I was here, and..."
Leo's heart sank. "You weren't here, were you?"
Percy shook his head. "Not until a week ago. I woke up in the middle of nowhere with nothing but my name and Annabeth's," he said grimly. "I found the Roman version of Chiron—a wolf goddess named Lupa—and she basically pointed me in the right direction and said 'March'."
Piper's eyes flamed, and Percy offered her a smile, gently tugging on one of her braids.
"She did train me for about a month before that," he amended. "Then she pointed in the right direction and said, 'March'." He shrugged. "I traveled for about two months before I was found by Medusa's sisters."
Piper made a squeaking noise, and Leo could feel the color draining from his face.
"No, no!" Percy hurried to reassure them. "They don't do the whole stone thing! They're just normal monsters. The problem with them was that the Doors of Death were open, so nothing I did killed them. By the time I finally got here, they were reforming in as little as ten minutes."
"Oh gods," Piper choked, pouncing on the couch and burying her face in his chest.
"Hey, I'm okay, I was fine," he soothed, dropping a kiss on her hair. "Juno actually helped me for once, and led me to Camp. Then there was this whole crazy quest thing that I'll tell everybody about tomorrow, and I ended up getting my memory back on the return trip."
Leo sniffed and pressed his face into Percy's shoulder. "I'm still kinda having trouble believing that you're actually here."
"You're telling me," Percy laughed and held him tighter. "Last time I saw you was when CPS was taking you away and you looked like you were six seconds away from setting the car on fire and running back to me."
"I considered it," Leo admitted. "I really did. But I knew that would just get you and Mom in trouble, and you had enough as it was with him." He practically spat the word.
"Him?" Piper sat up, frowning.
"My stepdad," Percy said, mouth thinning. "He was…not the best person ever."
Piper could fill in the blanks, and Leo would have shrunk away from the fury in her eyes if it hadn't been on his behalf. "I'll kill him."
"Too late," Percy grinned, anger gone as suddenly as it had arrived.
Leo gaped at him. "Wha-?"
"So I had to fight Medusa a few years ago," Percy said eagerly. "I ended up with her head as a spoil of war, and get this: Mom turned Gabe into a statue and sold him. He's still in the Soho Gallery in New York. They called it a breakthrough in—oh, what was it? Um…Super Ugly Neorealism? Or something like that. It was awesome."
Leo shot off the couch, cackling and doing a victory dance. "Yes!" he shouted. "Haha! Serves him right!"
Percy laughed, and Piper grinned.
"Oh, I think I'm gonna like your mom," she said.
Percy's smile got really small, but really happy. "I think she's gonna like you, too," he said. Then his eyes darkened. "You know, assuming we live through this stupid war and actually make it home for you to meet her."
Leo's victory dance slammed to a halt. "You shut up right now, Perseus Jackson," he said, shaking with anger. "You shut up! We have not gone through all the Hades that we have just to give up now. We are going to make it home. You hear me? It's not an if. It's not a hope. It's a fact. We're going home, Brother. We're going to make it. Got it?"
Percy's eyes sparkled with tears, and he pulled both of them close. "Got it," he said hoarsely.
Piper kissed his cheek. "You've got us, and we've got you," she said softly. "If Gaea wants this world, she is in for the fight of her life, because none of us are giving up. Are you with us, Percy?"
"Always," he promised, determination settling in his eyes.
"Okay then," Piper smiled. "There's that. We're gonna kick Gaea's butt, go home and gorge ourselves on chocolate chip cookies while watching Finding Nemo. Any objections? None? Good!"
Percy had to laugh, and Leo's grin was starting to hurt his face.
So sure, they were up against Mother Earth herself. But Leo knew that there was nothing in all of existence that he wouldn't do for his family, and he knew they felt the same.
You want to take this world? He thought to Gaea, feeling hope and love and determination well up inside him.
I would like to see you try.
So yeah. There it is.
Not too happy with the ending...or, you know, the whole thing?
But I promised, so here it is!
Liked it, hated it, let me know!