This was all spur of the moment so I'm sorry if it sucks but someone needed to write Bob and Nico friendship fic so screw it. :D There is a lack of Nico and Bob friendship fics and I wanted to correct that.
Disclaimer: yeah I don't own PJO/HoO
The Underworld Sky
By: Coqui's Song
Nico rushes into Hades' palace. He's looked for maybe two weeks already but he can't detect where Percy is at all, and it bothers him because he is so in tune with the son of Poseidon that he can just feel where Percy is, just by wondering. But he can't right now and he curses Hera. He's already looked at Camp Jupiter, playing it off as visiting his sister Hazel, but there wasn't even an amnesiac Percy. He's gone and Nico doesn't know where he could be. He's not dead, Nico can feel that much. Just... Gone.
He rubs his face as he brushes past skeleton guards.
"Nico!" He hears a familiar voice call him, and he turns to see Bob the Titan mopping the hallway. The ten-foot tall Titan finishes up hastily and walks over to greet him, smiling widely. "You are back!"
"I'm back, big guy," he agrees wearily. Bob picks him up and crushes him into a hug. Nico kicks his feet wildly, because he's a good five feet above ground and he doesn't like it. He wishes Bob could just realize that, hey, he can shrink to human size if he wants to, but the Titan seems to think that if he is this size, he can maybe get the cleaning done faster. Somehow.
Bob gently places him back on the ground and Nico dusts off his jeans and smiles up his Titan friend, but it's forced. It's always good seeing Bob again, but he's being weighed down by Percy's disappearance, and yeah, he knows what's up and that it has to happen, but it doesn't mean Nico has to like it.
The friendly Titan senses that there is something wrong, and he asks Nico.
The thirteen-year-old shrugs. "Percy's gone."
"Here?" says Bob, in a gentle way of asking if Percy has died.
Nico shakes his head. "He's lost. We can't find him anywhere. I can't find him anywhere."
"You'll find him," Bob assures him. "You will find Percy again, and maybe he can visit me."
Nico grimaces. He knows that Percy most likely completely forgot about Bob, maybe only making a joke or two at his expense once in a while. Percy isn't Bob's friend, but Bob doesn't need to know that. "Yeah, big guy. No doubt about it."
He falls into silence, but Bob only pauses for a moment before saying slowly, "You care much about him. He is lucky to have a friend like you." He smiles down at the son of Hades. "Maybe he doesn't see it yet, but I know."
It feels good to have someone who appreciates his friendship. Not for the first time, Nico thinks of Hestia and ponders over how his closest friends are not even mortal. One is the kind and unnoticed, gentle goddess of the hearth and the other is a Titan whose memory got wiped by the Lethe. He forces a smile. "I'm lucky to have you as a friend, too, Bob."
"Everything will be okay. Percy will be fine," says Bob, and he goes back to mopping.
Nico can't help but wonder if Bob knows. He never told the Titan outright, but he has dropped hints. He sighs and climbs up one stair and sits down on it. He watches his friend mop the black marble floors of the foyer as he sits on the first step of the staircase. "Bob?" Nico asks a bit tiredly, propping his elbow on his knee and resting his head in his hand.
The Titan turns and fixes him with a questioning silver gaze. "Yes, Nico?"
"Do you... Do you remember when you healed Percy from his wounds? By the River Lethe?" Nico picks at the rubber sole of his shoe; he should start wearing one of those brand new pairs of shoes from his closet (he has a million of them, courtesy of Hades. One of the upsides of being a child of the god of wealth), but he finds that just using the same ones until they're worn to shreds is easier.
"I remember," Bob says enthusiastically, because there aren't many things that he can recall. "Why do you ask?"
Nico risks meeting Bob's eyes; the Titan's gaze is kind and sympathetic. "I was wondering if you could heal me."
"Heal you?" At this, Bob looks distressed. He drops the mop and hurries over to the stairs and crouches down beside Nico, inspecting him for wounds. "You have an owie? I don't see an owie, Nico."
The son of Hades barks out a laugh. He truly enjoys Bob's company and the amnesiac Titan is honestly his best friend. He shakes his head. "No, Bob. I wanted to see if you could heal a broken heart."
"Who hurt you?" Bob asks, looking both a little sad and a little angry.
He shakes his head sadly. "Does it matter?"
Bob hums thoughtfully. "Nico, I am sorry, but only time can heal you. But talking about it may help. I am your friend, right?"
A ghost of a smile haunts Nico's face and he stares into those honest silver eyes. "You're my best friend, Bob. Surely you must know what's bothering me already."
The Titan blinks slowly. Once. Twice. "I know," he admits. "It's hard not to see. When I ask you about Percy. And you tell me. I know."
"So you see," Nico says, "why I asked you to heal my broken heart."
"He does not love you?"
He thinks about the last night he saw Percy. How he and Annabeth kissed each other goodnight. And then his mind flies back to the night he met Percy, years ago. How distressed he was at losing her. Percy has only ever loved Annabeth, it was clear from the beginning, and yet Nico always hoped. It's futile, though. Intellectually, he knows it's futile. His heart is not with the program. "He loves someone else."
How it pains him to say those words aloud.
Bob is silent for a moment. "I am not Aphrodite. I know it hurts now. And I can see how much you love him. But one day, either he will see you as you truly are, Nico, or you will move on. It will take time. But it will happen. "
"Thank you, Bob," Nico murmurs gratefully. His friend's words didn't really make him feel any better, but the Titan tried, and that's all that really matters. "Hey, buddy?"
"Will you do something for me?" he wonders.
Bob nods eagerly. "Anything for you!"
"If anything ever happens to Percy and I'm not there to help him, will you help him? Help him live. No matter what it takes?" It's a heavy thing to ask of his friend, he knows, but he can feel something in the air that tells him that one day, he won't be there for Percy, and when that happens, he needs Bob to be there. Nico has learned to trust his gut feelings. They're usually right.
Bob nods slowly. "Of course, Nico. He is my friend. And more than that, he is your friend. And you love him. Yes, of course. Bob always helps his friends."
"BOB!" calls a voice from the kitchen, and Nico scowls because he recognizes it as Persephone. "BOB, A ZOMBIE EXPLODED IN THE KITCHEN. CLEAN THIS MESS UP IMMEDIATELY."
The two share a smile and Bob stands to get his mop. Nico stands up, too. He shouldn't be following Bob or helping clean (Hades thinks it's unfit for a child of his to be doing work when Nico can just summon skeletons to do it for him, but if Nico did that all the time, he would die of boredom), but he has a mop he got from a mortal grocery store and he helps Bob clean the exploded zombie off of the walls and floor of the kitchen as best he can.
They joke and laugh, and Bob pats his back after they're finished, causing Nico to stumble forward. He's had enough practice, and he quickly steadies himself, grinning widely at the Titan. They climb up the stairs. Nico and Bob have separate bedrooms, of course, and on different ends of the hall, but they don't mind. Sometimes Bob will invite Nico into his room and Nico will lay on Bob's bed, talking lazily about Percy, or about Hestia, or about how the construction of the Hades cabin at camp is going, and Bob is a good listener.
"I'll miss you," Bob said, the first time Nico mentioned that he was getting a cabin at camp.
"What makes you say that?" he'd asked.
Bob had given him a pained smile. "You won't be around as much anymore."
"I won't be up there much. Just sometimes." He'd smiled back, an image of Percy and Annabeth holding hands flashing in his mind. "It'll be just like before."
And for the most part, it was.
Now, they pass floor to ceiling windows and Bob abruptly stops, staring out of the windows and up at the (non-existent) Underworld sky. It's just a cave ceiling, but Bob stares at it intently.
"What's wrong, Bob?" Nico wonders.
"I was thinking about something," Bob says, frowning in confusion. "The… sky?"
Sky? Bob doesn't remember the sky. The teen blinks, trying to process the information. He smiles. "The sky."
"Yes. I was wondering…" Bob turns to Nico and fixes him with a silver stare. "What does it look like?"
One corner of his mouth curls upward in a half-smile. "One day, Bob, I'll bring you upside and you can see the sky for real. But for now, I'll only be able to show you pictures. Is that okay?"
He nods eagerly. "Where are these pictures?"
Nico has quite a few pictures of the sky in his room (he's not often upside, and well, he misses the sky sometimes too) so he smiles and tells Bob to wait right there as he runs into his room and takes few pictures he'd printed out of a library he'd gone to in Virginia off of the wall. (And yeah, they're in color even though the librarians had told him not to use the color printer. But he had insisted it was for a school project and they'd reluctantly agreed to let him use it. He apparently has really good puppy-dog eyes.)
He takes a picture of the sunset, with all its hues of red, orange, and pink; he has a picture of the clear night sky with dazzling stars; he has a picture of a soft gray overcast sky. A picture of the blazing sun sitting up high in the clear blue afternoon sky. He loves them all, but not as much as his pictures of the oceans.
He won't miss these pictures, because he has dozens of pictures of bodies of water. Rivers cutting through forests. Waves crashing on a Caribbean shore. Blue-green water. He has a picture of an arctic sea that is stunning. It hurts, because they remind him of Percy, but they calm him, too.
He smiles around his room and glances his nightstand, where a conch shell he'd found is placed next to a black-and-white picture of him and Bianca that Hades had given him. They hurt, too. He clears his throat and walks out of his room to where Bob is still standing, looking out the windows.
"Here," he says, giving the Titan his pictures, and watches as Bob flips through them.
Bob nods and smiles. "Thank you, Nico." He makes as if to give them back, but Nico steps back and grins.
"You keep them," he orders gently. "I can see the sky whenever I want. You can't. One day you will, but not today. Probably not any time soon. But one day."
"Until then," Bob says, smiling painfully, "tell the sun and stars hello for me."
Oops was that too soon? I'm sorry. D:
Reviews are appreciated. :)