All right, here's part 2. I'm going to write a part 3 and then that will be it! This one doesn't have any Percy-Nico interaction, but instead Nico thinking on his past and his dealings with Percy. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: As always, all characters and the quotes from Son of Neptune are NOT mine and belong to Rick Riordan!
"You know him, don't you."
Nico and Hazel lounged on the rooftop of their father's shrine. Hazel's words rang through Nico's head, pounding through him with a peculiar pain. Her words were true—Nico knew Percy. But Percy didn't know him. At least, Percy didn't remember him. But Nico saw the struggle in Percy's eyes when he tried to remember where they'd met before.
He swung his feet off the ledge of the roof, his dark sword lying by his side. He gazed across the fields, unseeing. "Percy Jackson…" he spoke, the name rolling off his tongue. He felt a surge of pleasure, saying his name, knowing he was only a short distance away. "Hazel, I have to be careful what I say. Important things are at work here. Some secrets need to stay secret."
"But he's not like…like me?"
Nico shook his head. "No. I'm sorry I can't tell you more. I can't interfere. Percy has to find his own way at this camp." He felt a bitter taste in his mouth, a sort of remorse at this realization. He wanted to help Percy—gods, did he want to help him—but as he said, certain things were at play, things way out of his control, and any interference on his part could result in the destruction of the world as they knew it. As much as Nico adored and admired Percy, he wasn't about to screw everything up on some stupid impulse to be with the famed demigod.
"Is he dangerous?" Hazel asked.
Nico bit back a chuckle. Percy Jackson was all kinds of things—comical, trusting, strong, not to mention easy on the eyes—but he was especially dangerous. "Very," Nico replied dryly. "To his enemies. But he's not a threat to Camp Jupiter. You can trust him."
"Like I trust you," she replied bitterly.
Nico, who had been absently twisting his skull ring, felt a flash of anger and annoyance at her remark, causing the ground around them to rumble eerily. Bones on the shrine quivered as if they were coming to life.
Seeing the look of panic flash across Hazel's face, Nico quickly calmed himself down. "Look, I know this is hard," he said. "But you have a second chance. You can make things right."
"Nothing about this is right. If they find out the truth about me—"
"They won't. They'll call a quest soon. They have to. You'll make me proud. Trust me, Bi—"
Nico snapped his mouth shut.
Bianca. That's the name he was going to say. He felt an odd, familiar pain grip his chest, his stomach tightening with sorrow.
He looked away from Hazel, jaw clenched. "I'm sorry."
Hazel didn't acknowledge the slip up. Instead, she began asking about Death, and Alcyoneus' part in everything. Nico answered as best as he could, but his mind was focused on something else. Focused on Bianca. Focused on the time when she was still alive.
That was when he first met Percy Jackson. Percy had saved his and Bianca's lives. He'd been part of the team that had brought them to Camp Half-Blood, introduced them to the life they really belonged to. At the time, Nico had just been a kid interested in a card game. Eleven, maybe twelve. Percy had been fourteen.
At the time, Percy was this sort of…god, to Nico. He was the boy who had saved them! The boy that had brought them into this new life, a life which Nico could only dream about previously. It was fantastic!
A part of Nico thought that maybe his feelings for Percy began developing around this time, though maybe subconsciously. During this time in Nico's life, a lot of things were changing, and maybe he just latched onto someone that seemed to care the most. Someone he could admire. After all, Percy had been there to save them once already. He'd be there again, right?
But of course, that wasn't necessarily the case, and Nico's fantasy world was dismantled the minute Percy Jackson came back from the quest. Without Bianca.
Nico clenched his fist at the memory. He remembered feeling so frustrated, sick to his stomach with grief, and so angry. Angry at Bianca for ever going on the quest, angry at life for putting them in this situation instead of letting them continue on together. And especially angry at Percy. For breaking the rules and joining the quest. For allowing Bianca to die. For not protecting her. For lying to him.
Nico had been crushed. He felt that he'd been let down, especially by Percy. He'd never felt such rage, and from it, he had experienced his first power as a son of Hades, creating a fissure in the dining pavilion.
He'd run away after that. For a while, he hated Percy with every fiber of his being. Percy was the reason Bianca was dead. Percy was the reason he was alone now. And because of that, he vowed to take some sort of revenge on him.
Of course, that hadn't worked out so well. He'd eventually seen the error in his ways, and he tried to forgive Percy. He knew, though, that there was no way he could follow the camp blindly.
The camp, its moral, its rules…they had failed him. He would help them, but only if it was the right thing to do. By all means, he didn't want to see camp destroyed. But he couldn't put faith in a system that had let him down. Instead, Nico worked hard to do what was right, to do what was necessary. Unfortunately, those weren't always the same thing.
Like tricking Percy to swim in the River Styx. Okay, so he hadn't really tricked Percy—he could never intentionally lead Percy into danger without knowing the risks—but he was the one to give him the idea. Because it was necessary.
Maybe that's when Nico started falling hard for Percy. When Nico had given him the option, a dangerous mission of swimming in the River Styx in order to gain Achilles' curse, and Percy had accepted it as a viable option. He'd seen Percy's bravery and courage, his willingness to do what was needed. Surely, Nico admired him.
Whatever the case, fate was cruel to allow Nico to fall for the guy that, ultimately, in his mind, caused him the greatest pain. That pain he felt over Bianca's death was a strong force that still drove Nico on to this day. Except now it was a different type of pain, because thinking of her only made him think of Percy, and how they could never be together.
Nico shook his head, clearing the depressing thoughts from his mind. He didn't need to think about any of that. He didn't want to remember all the hardships he'd endured—physically, mentally, emotionally. He had bigger things to worry about now.
He sighed heavily, for once feeling like his true age. Sometimes he forgot that he'd actually been born in the mid-1940s. Even though he didn't age while in the casino, and he'd technically been alive during that time, he hadn't actually been living, so sometimes it was too easy to believe he was a kid of this generation.
He turned to Hazel but felt a shock of alarm run through him. She was staring off into the distance, tears running down her cheeks. Diamonds popped up from the roof, surrounding her.
Nico quickly reached over, shaking her shoulders, trying to wake her from her memories. "Hazel!" he called. "Wake up!"
She eventually came to, red eyes landing on Nico's pale form. "You did it again."
"S-sorry," she mumbled.
Nico shook his head. "Don't be. Where were you?"
"My mother's apartment. The day we moved."
Nico nodded. He understood her past, understood what it was like to be part of a different time. And even though their pasts were drastically different, they both shared that same pain that came from tragedy.
Nico reminded her that she needed to get a hold of her memories. He wouldn't be able to save her during a battle if she were ever caught in one. Hazel understood, but she was still nervous.
"I can't go north again," Hazel said. "Nico, if I have to go back to where it happened—"
"You'll be fine," Nico promised. "You'll have friends this time. Percy Jackson—he's got a role to play in this. You can sense that, can't you? He's a good person to have on your side."
And Nico felt the truth of that in every word he spoke. He may not have had the best dealings with Percy, and maybe their history was a little rocky, but Nico trusted Percy with his life.
Nico's fatal flaw was grudges. A part of him maybe still held a grudge against Percy for playing a large part in Bianca's death. Maybe, because of that, he'd never be able to fully forgive Percy. But that didn't keep him from trusting the demigod, because Percy's fatal flaw was his friends. He'd always keep them safe, do anything for them. It was a good flaw to have.
"Where did he come from?" Hazel suddenly asked. "Why do the ghosts call him the Greek?"
Nico felt a flash of panic course through him. His throat went dry, but before he was forced to scramble for an excuse, horns blew from across the fields, signaling that the legionnaires were gathering for roll call.
A pang of relief pulsed through Nico. He swallowed thickly, nodding towards the sound of the horns. "We better get down there. I have a feeling tonight's war games are going to be interesting."
Hazel looked like she wanted to argue, but instead she nodded and began climbing down the roof. Nico sighed heavily, following after her, thoughts wandering to a certain dark-haired, Greek demigod.
His heart skipped a beat.
And there you go! Part 2! I'll write the last installment within a couple days here.
Thanks for reading and review please!