A/N: ahhhhhh i've been working on this for a long time, actually
it took a good three weeks or so (part of it was procrastination and laziness), but it's done!
the ending is a little abrupt but other than that i'm quite happy with this
well, enjoy!

After all that saving the world business and all the fighting and battling and life-threatening situations, it can wear a person out, even a demigod.

Leo's exhausted, drained of his perky energy and his usual cocky remarks go unsaid. He's tired, he wants to sleep, so when a strong-arm is hooked under the bend of his knees and another one gently pressed to the small of his back, he doesn't protest. Jason doesn't say anything, either, because he knows that all this has exhausted the son of Hephaestus. He doesn't make any snide remarks, nor does he tease the Latino- because he knows, he knows that Leo's been strong and fought hard and he's supported the whole crew through the trials of hardship.

He doesn't say anything when that devilish grin slowly fades from his sun-kissed features, or when his eyelids drop and his face seems to age ten years, at the very least. He doesn't say anything when Leo curls into himself or folds his arms over his chest, or when the Roman can feel thick ringlets of curls brushing the skin of his neck and collarbone. Jason just holds him tighter, that sudden Roman instinct to protect taking over his drives as he keeps the Latino close to his body, all while holding him carefully as if he were a precious treasure. The scion of the forge doesn't protest this, in fact he let's himself soak in the feeling of being protected, and it's nice. It's nice not having to run, not afraid of the arms around him, not afraid to trust Jason. It's really nice, he thinks, so Leo just presses his head into the crook where the paler of the two boys' neck meets his wide shoulders, and the blond lets him.

Leo's strong- strong in a way that not many people are, and Jason can't help but adore and respect such a quality in his companion. The brilliant child of Rome may be able to command legions, or fight with his fists and with a great golden weapon, or summon fierce charges of lighting to his fingertips, but Leo's got this different kind of strength. This strength to grin despite his pain, or his past; this kind of inner strength that let's him carry others on his shoulders, to encourage their joy and laughter all while taming his own inner conflicts. He knows that his beloved friend could carry thousands on his shoulders in that sort of metaphorical way, yet still strike out a hand for another poor soul. So the taller teen let' his chin fall, cool lips brushing over the skin of warm, bronze colored skin and he gives the Latino a soft kiss- it's soft and gentle, almost timid it seems, as if he's afraid the action might startle the tired boy, but it doesn't. The corner's of his lips are briefly pulled into a gentle grin, a weak chuckle rumbling in his throat, and Jason's relieved. He's happiness, Jason thinks, like an embodiment of hope, and Jason adores him for that. He's filled with this warm pride and joy that feels like a glow in his chest; that kind of feeling you get when from your significant other, and so the Roman demigod continues to proudly carry his quasi-godly counterpart, his thoughts still stuck on his admiration for the dark-skinned demigod.

That's why he doesn't provoke the son of fire and machine when he looses his stance, or when he caves in just a little bit and he needs someone. He's ready, ready to stretch out his arm or silently offer his shoulder. The Roman demigod doesn't mind when Leo shrinks into his arms, falling into them it seems, or when he sighs and his warm breath tickles the blond's pale skin. He carries him, he supports the darker skinned boy when he needs it. Not pity, of course not, he's too proud of himself for that- and Jason knows that, too. The smaller of the two teens is thankful for the one he's so happily dubbed as "Superman"; he's thankful for the comfort, the strong shoulder, being able to provide Leo that sort of silent need that he doesn't voice, all while never pitying him or shaming him. Leo hates that. He doesn't want a pity party, and son of Jupiter doesn't pity him- he's silent all throughout, unless Leo makes the approach to conversation, and Jason diligently and casually complies with it. And Leo's thankful for such a friend.

Leo's tired, oh so tired, he feels like he could sleep for days, maybe even weeks. In silence, Jason tends to his spirit, though, and he brings his companion home- to camp, to safety. It's not too long before he's regained his spirits at the site of his siblings, that brilliant flame in his chocolate brown eyes restoring and his thin lips stretching over his cheeks from one ear to the other. He clambers out of the son of Jupiter's arms, and Jason doesn't say anything, he lets him, a content grin spread from each pale skinned cheek to the other as he breaks into a steady jog to stay alongside the sprinting Latino. He watches as his brothers and sisters welcome him, chatter ensuing rather quickly and without fail, Repair boy is breaking into a riveting and exciting tale about their adventures, his arms and hands waving about to dramatize his story. The listen tentatively as he carries on, telling about the great fights his friends put up, occasionally reverting back to himself with a slightly puffed chest and a cocky smirk spread over his bronze toned face. That's Leo for you.

The day passes, and the two are silently inseparable. Soon the hours grow dark and the sky looses it's luster as it's colors fade and little bright dots sprinkle the evening paints. Finally, they retreat to the Hephaestus cabin; normally, the Roman would take himself to the Greek cabin of Zeus, but he slipped into Leo's sleeping quarters without comment from his siblings. None of them say anything, and both boys are thankful for it. He wasn't sure why, but the child of Rome didn't dwell on the thought too much, he just feels the need to stay by Leo's side.

Leo immediately slumps onto the thick mattress, a long drawn-out groan leaving his aching body before rolling onto his back and letting his legs hang off the mattress. Jason scolds him, tells him he ought to change, and the curly-haired demigod groans in protest, muttering in a weak tone in his native Spanish tongue as he crawls from the haven of cushion and spring to do as he is told. Meanwhile, Jason keeps his old dark purple t-shirt on, his only other garment being his boxers as he slips into the far-side of the large bed, waiting for the other to join him. The Latino is back once again in just a few short moments, a loose pair of shorts hanging on his thin frame and a much-too-large t-shirt covering his torso- his Roman counterpart had to look over his attire a second time to actually take note of the almost unapparent shorts. He's clambered onto the bed now, burying himself under blankets and sheets as he tucks his head against the pillows, a soft sigh leaving his thin lips.

Jason is quiet and gentle, still, just as he always is. A cool palm finds his waist and Leo doesn't have the heart to nag at him or comment back with one of his signature remarks, so he let's him. He lets himself curl against Jason's chest, a strong chin and warm breath brushing over his curls as the son of Jupiter falls to a relaxed state of rest. He's thankful for the feeling of being protected, but the son of Hephaestus quietly reminds himself he's been indulging too much lately; however, he doesn't have to heart to break from it when his companion so readily and openly offers it in a way accustomed to Leo and his complex emotions. His back is pressed to Jason's chest now- a strong, porcelain skinned chest that's toned with muscles and with the slightest hint of roughness to it. Slowly, the Latino's thoughts hitch on the son of the lighting lord, and he's beginning to think about that little scar that grazes over his soft lips, or how his eyes are like lighting and are just as fierce and beautiful, and how his hair is like wild untamed tuffs; but Leo enjoys it, enjoys each little quirk, and he finds himself grinning as his finger clutch the soft fabric of the blankets while the Roman demigod sleeps curled around the smaller of the two.

As the evening hours drag on, his thoughts turn to his beloved mother whom he misses ever so dearly. He's reminded of the vague plans for the following day, and this dark, nagging feels begins to entangle his thoughts and emotions and drag them into a vice grip. He begins to chew on his lips, brow furrowed in an almost distressed way. It's been a long, long while since he's visited his mother- or, her grave, at least. It was still a part of her, though, and that's what mattered. Vaguely, the Hispanic teen had mentioned this to the other sleeping boy before, but it was quiet and personal, just between the two of them. His thoughts whirled, gracing over how much he had began to let himself put so much faith and trust into his best friend, though he admitted to himself he was worried. He felt as if he was exposing something- something dear and personal and oh so private, as if he had was exposing the pulsing arteries of his heart.

But he had faith in Jason, faith that he would cherish the visit and still be as gentle as ever. He knew how the brilliant son of Jupiter was, and though doubt tread on his heels and nipped at his ankles, he sighed. Even still, the blond boy held him tightly and protectively as he slept, though it was soft and careful in touch. Perhaps such trust wasn't as horribly terrifying as it could be, and perhaps exposing himself to his companion- well, that could be okay. He reassured himself, reminding himself of the gentleness he devoted to the smaller of the two and how he supported him through the good and the bad. Yes, if there was anyone he could trust to handle his heart and trust, that was Jason Grace.

[ - ]

Leo's arranged everything already, he's talked with Chiron and their little excursion's been accepted. Jason's arranged the transportation, much to the Greek demigod's distaste, but he doesn't say anything as the windy stead was summoned and his blond friend has already situated himself in complete comfort on the seemingly constantly moving beast. Leo doesn't trust it, to put it simply, he trusts his machines and the ground more so than he trusts a wild not-so-animal horse. However, he climbs on regardless, latching himself onto his larger companion and pressing his body against Jason's back as the rocket upward over the camp. Wind blasted against his face, even though Leo's cheek was pressed to the other's shoulder-blade and his eyes tightly punched close. Gods, how he hated riding this damned thin so much.

He can feel the arms stretch tightly around his waist, nails digging into his skin and warm breath burning the cool skin of his back. The blond-haired demigod turns back, an amused hint of a smirk on his scared lips as he notes how closely the Latino has secured himself to Jason. A hand strays from the noted wisps of wind that resemble that of a horse's mane and pats Leo's own skinny hands, reassuring him that he'd never allow for anything to happen to him during the ride. The nails are no longer buried into his sides, but the grip is still vice-like and the caramel skinned teen doesn't lift his head from behind his back.

"C'mon, Valdez, it's not that bad. Scared of a little wind?" There's a teasing tone of his voice, speaking louder than usual to counter the heavy blasts of wind that crashed against their bodies while riding the air-formed beast. Deep brown eyes shoot up to look at the blonde, a tiny frown formed on the Hispanic demigod's lips as he rolled his eyes, "Shut up, Grace." is all he says, and Jason chuckles.

It's a somewhat long ride, and about half way through Leo's beginning to nod off while his grip loosens just a tad. The blond-haired Roman keep the flying beast on coarse, occasionally taking a glimpse of slurred scenery passing below them like mixed paints on a canvas. He vaguely recalled asking about the route they'd be taking to the small cemetery, but he just relaid the destination to his winded stead so as to free himself from the thought. He had faith that the horse would successfully take them to where they were venturing to. The son of Jupiter began to relax, leaning back against the Latino who seemed to be dozing peacefully behind him. It's quiet, peacefully, really, and a soft smile is spread over Jason's slightly flushed features while he lets the horse guide them, galloping on the breeze and whipping the wind into it's own trail.

It's been an hour, two, maybe? He doesn't know, nor does he quite care. His fingers are entangled in the wisps of air that flicker back and forth, untamed and wild just as the wind that blasted past the pair of half-gods. He glances back to check that Leo is still resting, and indeed he is, his eye lids laying close and his curls bouncing and running with the the breeze while his arms rest on the Roman's hips. He turns back to face the horizon, letting his body slid into a content state of numb relaxation. Brilliant blue orbs watch the streaks of green and blue touched with golds and white fly fast them, like speared paints on a canvas until he feels the pace began to slow, a signal that they're reaching their destination.

Reluctantly, the son of Jupiter pats the tan skinned arms that lay on his hips, rubbing the soft skin with his thumb as to try and coax his companion out of his state of slumber. A grunt is all that meets his actions, so the blond haired boy gives his shoulders a roll and purposely shifts his back and arms, forcing the Latino to grunt and murmur until he's blinking and trying to awaken. The windy steed has sunken lower now, and the details of the terrain below them begin to show themselves to the the demigods, though Leo still seems to be blinking the sleep from his eyes and rests his chin on the Roman's shoulder. Those brightly painted fiery orbs watch attentively yet he remains quiet while he notes the little land marks that hold significance to him, and he shifts in his seat- Jason isn't sure if he's restless, or its discomfort. Suddenly, the pair of teens jolt and tighten their grips on whatever it is that they're in reach of to keep themselves steady as the horse trots to a stop, a breathy whinny following.

Jason remains still as Leo pulls himself up and slides down off the beast, eager to let his feet meet the steady ground once more. He follows the darker skinned boy, giving the horse's muzzle a pat and murmuring something incoherent to the windy creature- but it bursts into a violent blast of wind, signaling that it had taken its leave.

Leo still hasn't spoken, and the Roman begins to vaguely worry if he's really alright or if he's sick, but the familiar sounds of metal clacking against each other and the soft noises of tinkering soothed his thoughts. The son of Hephaestus quietly beckoned the taller to follow him, and so he did. The Roman hadn't much of a clue as to where the Latino was leading him, but he trusted him, and he stayed close behind the other as they turned this way and that, making small talk as they traveled. They held their casual banter here and there, but it was light and seemed to fall to silence more often than not. Quite frankly, it gave the Roman a slight touch of nervousness. Perhaps he was treading on something too sensitive too soon? He almost felt guilty- like a foreigner or a trespasser who was barging in on something so delicate and intimate that a simple brush of his touch might cause it to crumble, or a whisper might cause it to flee and disappear. However, it was his companion that had insisted that they visit his beloved, deceased mother, so Jason put his faith into the Latino.

It's rather hot, he admits, but that's Texas for you. The son of Hephaestus seems unfazed, though- which is to be expected, being a child of fire. Still, he doesn't protest, he doesn't make a snarky comments, nor does he tests the waters. He still feels compelled to give some sort of assurance, but how? Leo's rather odd when it comes to someone touching his hands- they're his tools, without them Jason's sure the dark skinned demigod would be lost. Rather, he makes a subtle touch, an attempt to comfort Leo or sooth his own nerves, he wasn't sure, but it was pleasant enough. His fingers grazed the back of the button-up shirt that the son of Jupiter had persisted he wear, resting at his waist for just a moment until Leo raised his hand in indication that they were but a few blocks away from the cemetery.

Jason nodded and pulled his hand back to his pockets, settling his pace to keep in time with the shorter demigod. The cemetery itself is old, he can tell, with iron gates wrapping around the area, vines snaking around the brick walls and clinging to the black, brittle bars- little blossoms sprinkled into the greenery despite the dismal and disheartening atmosphere. Grey stones of different shapes and sizes jutted out of the ground in rows, though others seemed to rest out of alignment. Perhaps it was because of how old the place was? He didn't know, but the Latino pushed his new miniature machine back into his beloved tool belt, then urged the blond to follow him through the open entrance. He could pick up on the hint of eagerness and the subtle tones of anxiety that laced his voice, but the scion of thunder could feel a hint of excitement and unexplained joy bubbling in the pit of his stomach. It's hard to explain, but it's like the tempo is starting to pick up and suddenly it's the steady of their running and it's reassuring and it's a wild feeling of exhilaration.

He's running him, he's a child again aching to see his mother and he's aching to feel her arms and to her honey-like voice. Leo know he can't, but he can feel it. He can feel her. His fingers squeeze Jason's hand and he's picking up the pace and his legs are sprinting in long strides while bright, fiery eyes trace the scenery and search each detail for the delicate, sweet name of a beloved woman named Esperanza. The name of a woman who long left the surface of this earth; the name of a woman who once softened the heart of the god of machinery and the forge, the woman who mothered a hero; a heroine and a goddess in her own right. His search is almost panicked, frightened even- he feels like he's a lost child again, crying for his mother as if he can't find her comforting arms. Jason's still behind him, though, at its reassuring and a subtle comfort as he peeks from headstone to headstone until finally, after several long rows and Leo loosing his "cool" demeanor he always makes a point of keeping, they find her.

The stone is a soft toned grey, soft, curved letters spelling out his dearly beloved mother's name. Leo's stuck where he's standing, and it feels like suddenly everything is coming at him all at once like a freight train or suddenly he's crashing down while trying to hold the sky. It's a lot to take in; he's not visited his mother's grave since the first day he ran away from home to escape the chaos his life became- he's been running for so long, and now it's all caught up to him. Still, his Roman companion stayed close behind him, and he's been silent yet comforting, and he still is. The shorter of the two demigods can feel his thumb strokes his palm (Jason's unsure of what else to do, really) and it's reassuring. Despite his running, his walls, and his stupid quirks, Jason puts up with him; Jason trusts him- and he feels like he can trust Jason. The Latino is quiet for a while, thinking about all that's happened about how much things have changed (and how much he has changed) and he can feel the salty burns of tears starting to swell at the corner of his eyes. It stings a little, but a smile starts to come to his features, and he's sad and he can feel all of this pain, but there's hope and an undefined happiness that burns the rest out- perhaps that's the thing with fire. It's a bright grin, stretching from each tanned cheek to cheek and his free, somewhat oily, hand wipes those watery beads from his eyes.

"Hi, mom."