Nico wasn't quite sure why he'd volunteered. He hadn't been back at camp in years, and it wasn't as if he was particularly attached to the place. It had been nice, towards the end. It was a good haven, a decent home. He'd never had any real desire to return, though.
"Wonderful, you're here," Chiron said. "They're waiting outside for you."
Apparently, there had been a burst of panic within the newest group of half bloods. Chiron had made the mistake of passing on the story of the Titan War, which had spiraled into an epidemic of fear. Nico couldn't help but think that these kids must be considerably less brave than he and his friends.
"We think this might do them some good," Chiron said, "Hearing you talk. Seeing that you're alive." He smiled.
Nico grinned back. He thought the whole thing was kind of dumb, but he was happy to help. "Nothing's happened with the prophecy?"
"No," Chiron replied. "These are some of the most peaceful days we've had in a while."
Nico nodded. He wondered sometimes what his camp experience would have been like without all the drama. It might have been fun. "They're outside, you said?"
"Yes," Chiron replied. "Thanks again for doing this, Nico."
"No problem," Nico replied. He was unsure as to why he was being so agreeable, but decided it was not so bad. Arguing used up a lot of energy.
They stepped out onto the field, and Chiron clapped him on the back. "I'll come over in a little while, and see how you're doing." He turned around, wheeling his wheelchair into the distance.
Nico swallowed. There were a lot of kids, and they were smaller than he remembered. They looked so…attentive.
"Hey," Nico begin, casually waving at them. "So… I heard that you guys are scared about being half bloods." A couple of girls nodded, one boy said 'yeah' softly. Nico searched the crowd with his eyes, wondering who of the kids were his half siblings.
"Well," he shrugged, uncertain about how he wanted to go about phrasing it. "Don't be worried. All of the hard stuff… we took care of that for you."
"What was it like?" a little boy asked. Nico stared at him.
"W-what do you mean?" he stuttered.
"What was it like?" the boy repeated. He sat on his knees, staring transfixed in Nico's direction.
"The… war?" Nico asked. He wanted to slap himself for being so nervous; it was uncharacteristic of him. A few kids nodded, expectantly waiting for his reply.
"Well, it was hard," Nico confessed. "I wasn't… once I was on the right side, it was really hard. We were always worried about what was going to happen." Their small faces were wide open with curiosity and horror. Nico found it refreshing; he wasn't used to telling stories.
"You know, it ended up okay though," he continued. "We won."
They didn't care about this, though. It had been before their time, and so it felt irrelevant to their life. They'd never know how close they came to not existing. This seemed important, and so Nico decided to touch upon it. He wished he'd brought notes.
"Listen, there's something nice about it too," he said. "Doesn't – don't any of you want to be heroes?" There were a few nods and assorted giggling, but mostly silence. It was an odd reaction; Nico had memories of everyone wanting to be a hero.
"Why not?" he asked, surprising himself. "You don't think it could be fun?" He was met with further silence, and tried to relax a bit more. "Come on, I'm actually asking you guys."
One of the girls, an older one, sat up straighter. "Well," she said, "Heroes don't seem all that nice."
Nico grinned. "My cousin Percy's a hero, and he's one of the nicest guys I know."
The girl squished her lips around, looking thoughtful. "Well, yeah. But that's rare, isn't it? We've been hearing that the heroes from the myths weren't all that nice."
Nico stood quietly, amazed. It was what they'd always encouraged, in a way. It was the best-case scenario. These kids – they weren't scared, exactly. Well, they were, but only by default. They had the morals, though. None of them were power crazy or overachievers, they just wanted to be normal and content.
"You know what," Nico said, changing direction. "I'm going to promise you right now that nothing's going to happen to you guys. Okay?" They nodded, some more reluctantly then others.
Nico gave a quick wave, and slowly strolled out of the field. His departure was abrupt, he knew. But it felt like the right moment to leave. The new generation, they had the right idea. Being a hero was second best to being a good person. That might have done them some good, when he was young.