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what a wonderful animosity

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There are nine rules for capture the flag.

The first eight rules are standard. No maiming or murder, any magic is allowed, the whole forest is fair game- and so on. These rules have been well-established since long before the current age of demigods stepped out on the playing field.

The ninth, and newest rule, is that Percy and Jason are never allowed to be on a team together.

Ever.

______________________________

At the end of the day, everyone agrees that it’s Leo’s fault.

Leo complains, protesting his innocence in a loud voice to any and all who will listen- but, as everyone solemnly tells him, he really should have known better.

After all, it’s not as though Percy and Jason have ever… gotten along.

Oh, sure, they’re friends, brothers-in-arms. And they’d die for each other in a heartbeat. But unless a very specific set of circumstances is met, including-but-not-limited-to Hera being her usual irritating self, the chances of Percy and Jason agreeing on anything without rivalling each other is…

(The Athena cabin is still trying to calculate the probability.)

But, when it’s time for the weekly capture the flag, with the Hephaestus and Ares cabins at the head of each alliance, Percy saunters over to the Hephaestus cabin- only to stop short at the sight of Jason doing the same.

He blinks, looking at the blond, and at the exact same time, they both say, “What are you doing here?”

(He’s never been on a team with Jason before. Surely, this must be a mistake.)

Before either of them can attempt an answer, Leo walks up to both of them and grins, far too widely for comfort. “We’re going to kick some butt, guys. Team Leo!”

“But-” Percy begins, thinking that he’s got a moral obligation to point out the obvious.

“We’ve never-” Jason butts in at the same time, clearly having a similar thought.

“I know!” Leo does not seem to care. “First time team-up for Poseidon, Ze- Jupiter, and Hephaestus! Woo!”

Around them, the entire camp collectively sucks in an enormous breath.

Above them, a lone thundercloud drifts across the otherwise perfectly clear evening sky.

______________________________

In Percy’s defense, he really was trying to do his assigned job.

At this point, any team with Percy on it knows- one of their best strategies is to have him near the creek border. Sure, it’s an obvious strategy- but there are very few demigods who can go toe-to-toe with the son of Poseidon when he’s armed with, well, water.

But, he never needs to stay exactly near the creek; that’s just begging for an ambush, not to mention it’s predictable.

So, when he’s hiding in the trees near the creek, waiting to attack any of the opposite team that he sees? He’s absolutely doing his job.

And when he’s running through the woods, evading the magic-spear wielding squad that the Ares cabin sent specially to deal with him? Well, he’s not that far from the water; so still, technically, doing his job.

(It’s unfortunate for him that Ares and Athena teamed up for this round, a rare show of solidarity.

Because this attack has his girlfriend written all over it. Gods, he loves her.)

But when he stumbles across Jason lying on the forest floor, after successfully escaping his pursuers? That, is admittedly, when he stops taking his job quite as seriously.

Still, though. The sight in front of him… Percy thinks that anyone would be hard-pressed not to stop.

Jason isn’t exactly lying down, to start with. Instead, the son of Jupiter is frozen in place in what looks like a mid-face-plant, not quite fallen yet but slowly on his way.

Percy does what any self-respecting demigod would do; he falls over laughing.

Jason, who’s apparently able to at least move his face, frowns at him. “It’s not funny, Jackson!”

Percy snorts. “Sure, it isn’t, Grace.” Percy picks himself up, and upon closer inspection, can see a shimmering gray haze surrounding the son of Jupiter. “Hectate cabin?”

His fellow demigod huffs. “Obviously.”

“Alright.” It’s at times like this that Percy really wishes demigods and phones could get along; he’d like nothing better than to be able to take a picture of this. And then perhaps send it to Jason as a birthday gift until they’re both dead.

(Maybe even after they’re dead, too. Can you send birthday gifts from the Underworld? He’ll have to ask Nico.)

For now, he does his best to commit the sight to memory, and makes a mental note to pay one of the Hephaestus kids to draw it out for him later.

(He’d ask Annabeth, but she’d probably give him her frowny face.)

“Well, it’s been fun.” He fingers Riptide, turning around to eye the surrounding trees. “And while I would love to watch the rest of this play out, I should get back to-”

“Wait!” Jason sounds incredulous. “You’re really just going to leave me here?”

Percy turns back around, raising his eyebrow. “Um, yes.”

“Come on, man!” Jason glares at him. “Can’t you like- I don’t know, push me back upright or something? That might-”

“Get me stuck too, if I go anywhere near that hazy stuff,” Percy points out, not unreasonably he thinks. “You’ll be fine until the end of the game, Grace.”

“But I’m supposed to be helping with capturing the flag! You know this!”

“You really think they can’t survive without you?” Percy shakes his head mock solemnly, feeling his amusement come back. “Wait until I tell Leo.”

“You- that’s not what I meant!”

“Too bad.” He grins, offers a salute, and turns the other way. “So long, Grace.”

Percy makes it about two steps before a bolt of lightning slams into the ground approximately one metre in front of him.

Slightly more singed, he turns back around to stare at Jason.

Jason, who is still very much frozen, but glaring at him defiantly.

A different demigod would perhaps say something along the lines of “Holy Jupiter!” Or, “Dude!” Or even, “When did you learn to summon lightning without your sword?”

Percy, not being a different demigod, holds out his hand and reaches out for the water that he can feel, far below the surface of the earth.

Jason’s eyes widen. “Wait-!”

In the next instant, a small flood rises up from ground, knocking Jason over from his position and slamming him face first into a miniature tidal wave, but with his limbs still unable to move.

Percy gets about another three seconds to laugh before there’s an ominous crackle above them, and Hades they’re surrounded by water-

Well. It’s a downhill spiral from there.

______________________________

Capture the flag ends with the Athena cabin taking victory, and a good chunk of the battlefield destroyed.

In the middle of the wreckage, Percy is found with his eyebrows singed off, all his hair standing on end, and wooden splinters from the tree Jason exploded on him embedded in his skin like a miniature manticore had a field day trying to kill him. Jason, on the other hand, is still unable to move himself, is half-drowned, and has lost his glasses due to unknown circumstances.

(Percy watched a seagull appear out of nowhere and swoop away with them while Jason was partially-drowning, and they had fallen off Jason’s face. In his defense, he cannot talk to seagulls, and objectively, he had nothing to do with it.

It was merely a lucky coincidence.)

Annabeth stands in front of them, arms crossed, backed by the rest of the camp. “Perseus-”

He interrupts, before she can finish his full name. “It was his fault!”

(Jason says the exact same thing at the same time, and they glare at each other.)

She smirks. “I mean, on one hand I should be annoyed, Seaweed Brain, but on the other…” She gestures towards the Hephaestus team’s stolen flag, which is now cheerfully displaying a barn owl above an olive tree, on a glistening gray background.

(Percy’s pretty sure the owl is judging him. Athena usually is.)

Leo stomps up to them, and glares both him and Jason down. “What the Hades, man! You-” This is followed by a long stream of Spanish that Percy does not understand. It ends, however, with “This is all your fault! Both of you!”

“Actually,” Nico pops out of nowhere, raising an eyebrow at Leo critically. “I blame you, Valdez.”

Percy nods enthusiastically, fully on board with this line of thought, even though Nico really has no right to complain, considering Hades was on Athena’s team this round. “Yes. What Nico said.”

His cousin offers him the tiniest smirk, which only grows as Jason chimes in with the same agreement.

(Though, the smirk gentles in another second, because Will comes up behind Nico to cuddle the smaller demigod closer, and the two of them are sickeningly adorable.)

Leo begins to argue, but one of his half-siblings from Hephaestus punches him in the arm. “We told you. You should have known better.”

This devolves into more arguing, which is eventually stopped by Chiron, who after removing the Hectate magic on Jason, finally gives up and declares that they’re all guilty.

(Percy, Jason, and Leo, that is. Everyone else is fine.)

They’re punished with two weeks of toilet cleaning duty without any magic or powers, and as everyone finally begins to disperse, Jason mutters to him under his breath, “Next time I find you stuck somewhere Jackson? I’m leaving you there.”

Percy snorts. “You think I’d get stuck like-”

“I will make sure you-”

Annabeth comes up next to Percy, breaking away from her triumphant celebration with the rest of her half-siblings, and glares at him even as she kisses him on the cheek. “Do I need to tell Chiron to make it three weeks of cleaning? He’d do it.”

Percy and Jason both very wisely shut up, and Percy decides to pay attention to the obviously more important task at hand; saying hi to his girlfriend.

By the time the next game of Capture the Flag comes about, a new ninth rule has been very firmly implemented.

It is generally agreed upon, by everyone, that Percy and Jason’s energy is better spent fighting each other on opposite teams.

And of course, it is all Leo’s fault.