I'm back and now, as a member of yet another forum.

This one-shot has been written in response to Camp Jupiter - War Games' Forum (going to leave the link in my bio in case anyone wants to join.

I wasn't actually planning to write anything for a while but I had a rare afternoon in which I wasn't drowning in assignments and inspiration struck so here we you have. Hope you guys like it!

Title: Winners And Losers.

Name: Kate.

Cohort/Team: Third/ Offense.

Prompt: 10. TUBA - "I wanna try the tuba!" "You sure? It looks like it would crush you."

Word count: 2290 words.

Cheers for reading!

"Winners And Losers."

Percy was no stranger when it came to dealing with change.

With multiple changes of school, changes in his group of friends and, of course, the whole chaos implied in finding out his father was actually the Mighty Greek God of the Seas, one could argue changes couldn't hold a candle to Perseus Jackson and his Outstanding History of Life Altering Moments.

But maybe, change was different from the other constants in life. In the end, Percy found that he could adapt to anything but that didn't mean that with every change, he stopped feeling the same chemical reactions. His anxiety still spiked, his stomach still fluttered as if thousands of butterflies were floating inside that narrow space and for a second, panic was always King, for the future was once again unreliable.

Still, he adapted. Of course he did. What else could he have done? And really, not all changes were so bad.

For example, the new friends he made after the Giant War. Friends from New Rome, like Reyna, who still liked him despite him having fled Camp Jupiter right after Leo attacked it from their warship (which wasn't technically his fault but still.) Friends from Camp Half Blood, like Nico, who he reconnected with after the War as a way of healing from their shared past.

And friends he met through mutual acquaintances, like Will Solace.

Now, please, do not think Percy didn't like Will. Will was definitely his friend and also, Percy found himself to be especially accepting of his relationship with Nico. Even if he did feel protective over the son of Hades - maybe as a way to compensate for the past -, he still couldn't help to love the irony of that broody, dark demigod being in a relationship with the son of Apollo, God of Light.

The thing was that Percy and Will were too similar and, at the same time, too different.

Take their music tastes, for example. Percy was all about bands such as Queen, Arctic Monkeys and Green Day. He loved going to concerts and dancing to the beat as he felt the thrill of listening to music with people who enjoyed it as much as he did coursing through his veins. The rapid, bold rhythm of those songs in a way reflected his own personality and he was proud of that. He was proud of being bold and cunning because that's how he had been able to survive. All music was enjoyable for him but with rock music, he felt in his element and more comfortable than with anything or anyone else (except for Annabeth, of course.)

Meanwhile, Will's taste in music was in comparison more comforting. Coldplay, X Ambassadors and Sleeping At Last were his favorite bands. Though he wasn't good at playing instruments, unlike his siblings, he still was deeply in tune with it. Will loved feeling understood by the songs he listened, feeling extremely comforted as some rich, beautiful voice sang his exact feelings back to him. Specially on days in which things were hectic or days in which he lost a patient, this kind of songs provided him with a comfort he couldn't get anywhere else. Not because Nico wouldn't have comforted him, of course, but because it took Will a minute to lower down his barriers and accept the comfort. Until then, music was all he managed to let in.

So, as I said, they were similar and different at the same time.

Still, it wasn't a big deal at all. Once they got used to it, Percy and Will stuck to polite discussions about music or teasing each other about their taste in music. Also, they eventually teamed up to hunt Leo down when he inevitably skipped past them singing the 'he was a punk, she did ballet' lyrics from Avril Lavigne's 'Sk8er Boi.'

If anything, one could sum up their relationship by saying they had healthy respect for one another. Sure, they argued but really, who didn't?

It all changed five years after the Giant War.

And it was the fault of a five-year-old.

oOo

It all began one cool, October morning.

The streets were still damp from the rain of the night before but it did nothing to deter Estelle Jackson-Blofis from skipping down the street towards school, giggling every time she had to jump over a loose paving stone or a fallen branch.

Since it was a tranquil neighborhood, Percy felt comfortable in letting his little sister wander away from him. Also, it meant that he wasn't in risk of being splattered with water when Estelle irrevocably miscalculated and jumped onto a loose tile so really, it was a win-win situation.

"Hey, Estelle," Percy suddenly called out. He motioned for Estelle to get closer and smiled when his little sister presented him with a bunch of yellow leaves she must have picked out from the floor. "Thanks, sweetie. So, I was thinking that your birthday is coming up."

Instantly, Estelle's smile brightened considerably. She stepped before Percy, raising her arms in a silent plea of being carried the rest of the way. All Percy had to do was comply with her request to have her chattering away right into his ear. "I'm so excited! Did you know mom is going to give me the invitations this afternoon? She said she's going to have Miss Dinah give them away to my friends but I don't want that. I want to give out the invitations."

"Mom probably wants to make sure all of your friends know about the birthday party." Percy shrugged, struggling to hide a smile when Estelle only crossed her chubby arms in a moody manner, her lips twisted into a scowl. "You wouldn't want any of your friends to miss it, right? I'm sure your teacher will make sure everyone gets one."

"Right but what if Miss Dinah loses any of the invitations?" Estelle retorted with impatience, her tone letting Percy know she expected for him to know of her concerns. "I don't want to have less presents because my teacher lost an invitation!"

Coughing to hide a snort, Percy took the opportunity and quickly diverted the conversation to safer topics. "Speaking of presents, Annabeth and I were talking about your present the other day. Do you still want a Wonder Woman' costume?"

"Oh no," Estelle shook her head vehemently. Her hair had been pulled into a french braid, and its end slapped her shoulder lightly every time her head moved. "I didn't tell you? I want a music instrument!"

"Really?" Percy asked, his eyebrows twisted into a confused frown. "That's a first. I didn't know you wanted to play music."

"Me either but the other day, when Nico and Will dropped by your house, Will watched 'Carmen San Diego' with me while you and Nico went over to the garage." Estelle shrugged, her eyes lit with excitement. "And Will told me of how his siblings are really good with music instruments. I want to be really good at something."

His little sister, an overachiever. Annabeth was going to be so proud.

"But sweetie, you are really good at lots of things." Percy trailed off as he waited for an incoming car to drive past him so he could cross the street. He could see the school in the distance, a crowd of kids and adults already forming before its closed doors. "If you want to play an instrument, you should do it because it's fun for you."

Once they reached the other side of the street, Estelle fidgeted in order to be left on the floor. Once Percy carefully lowered her onto the sidewalk, the five-year-old took Percy's hand and looked up at him with an exasperated frown. "Will you just get me a music instrument, please?"

Percy chuckled and shook his head before leading his sister the rest of the way to school.

Of course he would.

Really, when he had been able to deny his sister of anything?

oOo

The following Friday found Percy, Annabeth and Will waiting by the front gates of the school for Estelle to come out.

After much discussion, Sally allowed Percy to buy Estelle a music instrument under the condition that Will went with them. Even if he didn't play any, Will had still been around music instruments his entire life. When it came to them, he was the professional of the group.

In the end, Percy had decided they would all go to the music store after school on the day before Estelle's birthday party. That way, Percy was giving Sally several hours to actually ready everything for the party, which he knew she appreciated greatly.

Now, you might wonder what Annabeth was doing there. As much as the daughter of Athena would have liked to say she was there because of Estelle, the truth was that she was there to keep Percy and Will from making too much of a mess.

The banter they had started years ago had become personal when Estelle asked for a music instrument. All of a sudden, Percy and Will were fighting over what to get the adorable little girl. While her older brother wanted to convince Estelle to get an electric guitar or even a bass, Will wanted Estelle to get a flute or a harp. Now, part of the reason was to annoy Percy, of course, but Will actually thought Estelle was quite angelic so an instrument like the ones mentioned before would only add to the adorable presence that was the young girl.

Honestly, the only reason Nico wasn't there to help Annabeth was because Will threatened to curse him into speaking only in rhyming couplets if he attempted to stop him. Annabeth wasn't subject to the same threat because even in spite of the years that had gone by, she was still utterly intimidating to most of her friends.

When the foursome entered the music store, Will and Percy followed Estelle closely as she wandered through the different aisles. Will wore an expression filled with dread as she studied every guitar and bass hanging on the walls and Percy felt his heart hammer with anxiety every time Estelle twirled a flute in her hands, her eyes wide with awe.

And then, they reached the last corner of the store. Percy and Will hung back, bickering quietly, while Annabeth followed Estelle as she studied every instrument.

All of a sudden, the decision was made.

"I want this one!"

Percy and Will looked up with a start, their stomachs doing a somersault as they simultaneously saw themselves as winners and losers.

Estelle stood a few feet before them, her smile wide and her eyes bright with happiness. Her index finger was pointing at a large instrument that stood on a platform way taller than her petite frame.

"A tuba?" Will asked slowly, his face pale. Beside him, Percy's shock had rendered him mute.

"Yes!" Estelle cheered, her excitement only growing as she finally learned the name of that shiny, beautiful instrument. "I wanna try the tuba!"

"You sure?" Percy stammered nervously, his voice slightly hoarse as panic overcame his senses. Not only was this instrument nothing like what he had expected but also, his mother hadn't told him what to do in this case. Of course, he imagined Sally wasn't going to be happy about this but really, what could he do? It was Estelle's birthday. Oh, how he hated changes. "It looks like it would crush you."

"Percy, can you get me a tuba for my birthday? Pretty please?" Estelle pouted, widening her eyes in a way she knew worked with her brother every time. "It's so shiny and big! I don't care if I can't play it until I'm taller, I still want it. I want to play the tuba and be the best tuba player in the world!"

"Under any other circumstances, I'd let you panic." Annabeth's smirk was prominent as she knelt besides Estelle. "But I get what she means. She can play in our garage if Sally doesn't want all that noise in her apartment."

Percy gulped nervously.

His mother was going to kill him.

oOo

Twenty minutes later, Percy was grumbling to himself as he walked down the street with Will. Annabeth and Estelle were walking slightly ahead, talking excitedly about music lessons and everything else Estelle was going to need in order to actually learn to play the tuba.

"You know, I was sad that Estelle didn't want to buy a flute or a harp," Will began suddenly, his lips pulled into a smirk as he buried his hands into his jacket. "But seeing the scowl in your face, I feel better."

"You know I'm blaming you for this, don't you?" Percy countered calmly, his gaze straight ahead.

Percy smirked as he felt Will stiffen beside him. "You have nothing on me, Jackson. Sally knows better than to believe you."

"Wanna bet?" Percy challenged, tightening his grip on the large instrument in his hands.

Will narrowed his eyes with a thoughtful demeanor, studying Percy's expression with the clear objective of knowing whether the son of Poseidon was lying through his teeth.

After a moment, Will was sprinting down the street, cackling as Percy cursed loudly.

"Perce!" Estelle admonished Percy as he quickened his step, fidgeting with the tuba in his hands as he held it uncomfortably. "Don't curse!"

"Sorry, sweetie!" Percy called as he finally began to run. "I'll see you back at the apartment!"

As Percy sprinted down the street, ignoring the near passersby, Estelle looked up at Annabeth with a frown. "Why are Perce and Will running, Annabeth?"

Annabeth smiled with a mix of exasperation and fondness. "Boys are silly, Estelle. Never forget that."