A sixteen year old boy sat on the step of the Big House, surrounded by rubble and destruction. His purple shirt was badly torn and he could feel the autumn breeze cascade over his limbs. A golden gladius sat by his side like a sole companion.
The boy did not turn at the sound of his name. His improved hearing allowed him to detect the speaker without the need to see them. Not that he could see anything anymore.
“What is it Nico?” Jason asked tiredly, raking a hand through his blond hair.
Jason heard the wooden step he was sitting on creak and felt Nico’s presence beside him. He smelt the Stygian iron sword on the boy’s hip but he could not, no matter how much he wanted to, see him.
Jason was blind. A casualty of the war between the demigods and Gaia. The memory of the incident burnt vividly in his mind. A flash of lightning rebounded and hit him straight in his face. His skin and other features had been restored, but his eyesight was too far gone to do anything about.
“Are you alright?” Nico asked quietly. Jason detected the cautious nature in which the question had been asked.
Right now, there was nothing more he would like to do that to throw a hissy fit. To shake his fist at the Gods. Hadn’t he sacrificed enough for this war. What was the need to lose his eyesight? However, Jason Grace didn’t throw tantrums. Jason Grace was the calm and collected one.
And so Jason Grace replied, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
When he truly wasn’t.
There was nothing like losing your eyesight to show who his true friends were. After the war, the seven had split up in their different ways. Leo was on his way to Ogygia to find Calypso. Hazel and Frank were busy helping the Romans get back on their feet. Percy and Annabeth were doing the same for the Greeks.
Piper, the one person who Jason thought would stick by him through thick and thin was gone. Probably helping Percy and Annabeth somewhere. She couldn’t stand being in a relationship with a boy who couldn’t see her. Jason could no longer gaze into her kaleidoscope eyes and for once he was thankful for that. She could no longer trap him with her charmspeak. His hearing made it easy to detect and avoid. Slowly their relationship began to unravel until the point where neither of them could take the awkward silence anymore and agreed that it was best if they moved in separate ways.
Surprisingly, all he had was Nico. The one boy who he had always had second thoughts about. The one that couldn’t be trusted was now the one who had had his back all along. Nico knew what is felt like to be alone, to no longer fit in with the others.
“I have someone who wants to meet you,” Nico said. “Can I let them come here?”
Jason frowned. Who would want to meet him now? His face was scarred and he no longer possessed the beauty the world had loved him for. Why would he have a visitor now?
“Sure,” Jason said, out of curiosity.
He heard Nico’s footsteps fade behind him and a new set come in. They possessed a much lighter tread than Nico’s and moved with remarkable precision. Jason knew who they belonged to before their owner had the chance to sit down.
“Reyna,” he breathed.
A tiny hand curled around his own, giving it a familiar squeeze.
“Hey, Jace,” she said softly.
An involuntary smile spread across Jason’s face at the use of the old nickname.
“I thought you were leaving for Camp Jupiter today,” Jason said.
“Without saying goodbye?” Reyna asked in surprise. “I have Bobby, Gwen and Dakota all waiting outside to be let in. Bobby nearly pushed me aside to come and talk to you.”
Jason laughed. “I miss him,” he said wistfully. “It’s been so long that the past seems like another lifetime.”
“Does it?” Reyna asked quietly.
“I don’t know who I am anymore Rey,” Jason replied sadly. “I can’t see and I’m certainly not the praetor I once was.”
He heard Reyna sharp intake of breath
“What does being a praetor have anything to with this? You’re still that reckless daredevil I met all those years ago. You’re still you.”
“Even though I can’t see?”
Reyna sighed. “To be honest I don’t care at all whether you can see or not. You can sense people even without your eyes and I’m sure that with special training, you’ll just fine. But-” she paused and Jason felt her grip loosen.
“But what?” Jason pressed.
“If your eyes mean that much to you, Annabeth can figure out how to transplant some…”
Jason laughed bitterly.
“And who would want to give me their eyes, Rey?”
There was a pause before Reyna replied.
Jason was shocked. It was a moment before his brain could come up with something coherent to say.
“No. Nobody is giving me their eyes,” Jason said firmly.
“Why not? They are mine to give away.”
“Listen to me Reyna. You are a brilliant girl okay? There is so much you are going to achieve. There is no point in giving your eyes to a broken and beaten down hero-”
“- who I love,” Reyna interrupted.
There was another pause as Jason struggled to take in her words.
“You- you meant it?” he spluttered. He heard her giggle.
“Of course Jason. I should have said so eight months ago. I was a fool,” she said, with a tinge of angst in her voice.
Jason shook his head.
“I’m the fool. I’ve been so blind…” he trailed off, smiling ruefully at the irony of the situation. “I’ve been deluded in thinking that Piper was the one for me. Forgetting all that we’ve been through together was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
“It wasn’t your fault…” Reyna began, but Jason held up a hand to stop her.
“I’m sorry I didn’t do anything when we met at Camp Jupiter. I’m sorry I put you through hell when I disappeared,” he continued. “I hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.”
“You know I do,” Reyna whispered, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Jason returned the hug, burying his head into the crook of her neck.
“I love you too,” he mumbled. He could picture Reyna smiling, not the way she did when she was addressing an audience in the Senate. A carefree smile that made her entire face light up. He realized that he would give anything to see that smile again.
“I’ll get your eyes back for you Jason Grace,” Reyna whispered, as if reading his thoughts. “Even if it means walking all the way to Mount Olympus and demanding it from the Gods.”