The Kanes laid low at Percy's apartment for about a week so that the dust had time to settle. They only returned to their mansion after they were sure that the House of Life had stopped head-hunting them, and weren't gunning for them any worse than they'd been before the whole kidnapping incident had started.
Nico shadow-traveled their entire group onto the Kanes' balcony. They entered cautiously, each of them with their weapon at the ready in case the House of Life had left any agents lurking about. Once they were satisfied that they were the only ones there, they set about repairing the house's wards. Or rather Sadie, Carter, and Bast repaired the wards. Nico and Percy stayed back, out of the way.
"Anubis says I'll be able to do magic like that," commented Nico as they watched. "Or at least, I should be able to."
"Is that what you want?" asked Percy.
"The more ways I know how to protect myself or attack someone, the better off I'll be," said Nico rationally.
"That's not what I asked," said Percy.
Nico sighed, realizing that his cousin wasn't going to let this go. "I wouldn't have chosen this," he admitted. "Getting a god stuck in my head, being conscripted into Egyptian magic training, getting kidnapped by a sadistic witch, and dragging you into the whole mess was not what I had in mind when I decided to take a walk in Central Park. But now that this is the path I'm on . . . I guess it's not so bad."
"You're planning to stay here with them?" Percy wanted to know.
"For awhile. They're the only ones who can teach me how to deal with my new powers, and probably the best chance I have of figuring out a way to unfuse my soul from Anubis's. Then there's that End of Days prophecy to consider . . ."
Percy put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a small shake. "We'll figure out. We'll make this prophecy not about you."
Looking at his cousin, Nico could tell that Percy truly believed that. He, himself wasn't so certain. But he was glad to have Percy on his side.
"I don't want more people knowing about this than absolutely have to," said Nico.
"If we don't get Anubis out of your head, someone's going to find out sooner or later," said Percy.
"Let's hope for later then."
He waited to see if there would be an argument. He knew Percy. His cousin was all about trust and teamwork. He'd want to get his other friends to help them on this one. Annabeth, for certain, and probably Grover and Rachel too. And though Nico liked those three well enough, he was wary of them. His father thought him stupid and naïve, and Nico knew that to some extent, that was true, but he was learning better. Hades himself had taught Nico how few people could really be trusted. In fact, the only people Nico really trusted now were Anubis and Percy. Anubis, because the god was in his head, and he had no choice in the matter. Percy because his cousin had proven time and time again how far he was willing to go to help his friends, and for reasons unbeknownst to Nico, Percy considered him a friend.
"If that's what you want, then I won't tell them," said Percy after a long hesitation, and Nico released the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Yet," Percy continued. "There may come a time when I have to tell someone."
"Use your best judgment," Nico told him. "I . . . trust you."
Percy must have known how hard those words were for Nico to say, because he clapped his cousin's shoulder and shook him again. "We'll get through this."
"Finished," said Sadie, walking back to the cousins with her brother. "As long as you don't throw anymore blood on the windows or walls, we should be good."
"Yeah . . . sorry about that," said Nico, feeling a little sheepish.
"Don't worry about it," Carter told him. "You didn't know. But I find it very interesting. I wonder if your blood corrodes all types of Egyptian magic. Or if it will effect Greek magic as well?"
"Next time I'm at Camp Halfblood I'll test it out," promised Nico, then smirked at Percy. "On Clarise's spear."
Percy smirked and shook his head.
"Is this the room that Nico will be staying in?" asked a voice from right behind them.
Everyone jumped and weapons were drawn out again, but they all relaxed when Anubis stepped out of the shadows.
"Yes," Sadie told him. "This is Nico's room for as long as he wants it."
"He's about to ask if you mind if he paints the walls black," Anubis informed them.
Nico glared at the god. "Stop that. Just because I pwned you at Mythomagic doesn't mean you should act like a three-year-old all week."
"It was only dumb luck that you won," growled Anubis. "Not any real skill."
"You can keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better," Nico told him.
"You can paint the walls," said Carter, trying to stave off yet another debate about the outcome of that epic Mythomagic battle. "Or we might be able to change their color with magic."
"Don't waste your power on that," said Anubis. He raised one hand, pointed at the wall, and made a few sounds that were more like dry barking noises than actual words. The walls darkened and took on a grainy, stone texture, then hieroglyphics and Egyptian death murals came into view. The overhead light disappeared but torches sprouted on the walls, shedding an eerie green light, much like the ones at the Hades Cabin. Then tombstones and statues that looked like they belonged in a graveyard rose from the floor, giving the room a nice, homey feeling. Anubis admired his work for a moment with a satisfied smile. "I wasn't sure if that would work," he confessed. "But it seems that a room belonging to a death god's son counts as a place of death or mourning."
"You turned his room into a room of death," said Carter slowly and warily, looking at Nico as though he wasn't sure if the younger boy would be alright with this.
"Cool," said Nico. "Thanks. I now forgive you for cheating and stealing looks at my cards."
"I never –"
"What is this?" demanded Bast from the doorway. "I leave for a minute and you let the dog inhabit a room here?"
"Stop calling me a dog!" Nico and Anubis both snapped in unison. Then Nico shook his head and amended. "I mean, stop calling him a dog!"
Bast looked at Sadie and Carter. "Having them here will draw trouble."
"No more trouble than you," said Anubis. "You're the one they want to seal away. As far as they're concerned, Nico's just a demigod, and one who's father is willing to start a war if anyone harms him. Our presence here actually gives them more protection than they'd have otherwise."
"We haven't been doing too good finding others with the blood of the pharaohs so far, Bast," Sadie pointed out. "He's the next best thing."
"Next best?" muttered Nico.
"We need allies," said Carter. "And he needs our help."
"Your uncle will not approve."
"He can disapprove all he wants," said Sadie. "They stay. Nico and Anubis are part of the team now. Percy too, but I don't think his mom will let him stay."
"I won't be here all the time," Nico warned them. "I have to train with the dead and get better control over my demigod powers."
"And Camp Halfblood in the summer," put in Percy, and Nico nodded. He wouldn't mind going to camp while the people he liked were there.
"When you have other stuff to do, you can go do it," Sadie told him. "This room's here for you when you want it."
"So yeah," said Carter, nodding to both Nico and Anubis. "Welcome home."
Antarctica (Three-hundred-and-sixtieth Nome)
Aziza glared at the magical penguin as it waddled out of the room and considered casting a fire spell on it, but she knew it wouldn't do any good. One small flame compared to the arctic chill was absolutely nothing.
Beside her Hakim shivered and tried to shuffle a deck of cards with hands that were too cold to move properly.
"I can't believe this," said Aziza, for what must have been the fiftieth time since arriving in the 360th Nome. "We did nothing except what we were told to do and somehow we're to blame for the entire di Angelo Incident!"
That was what the fiasco was now being called. And the high lector had decided to pin the blame for it on Aziza and Hakim, just because they were the ones who first encountered Nico di Angelo. Now Aziza wished that she had killed the little brat when she'd had the chance. A war with the Greek pantheon would have been interesting at least. It would be a thousand times better than being bored out of her mind as she froze in Antarctica, with only Hakim the mediocre idiot and some magic penguins for company.
"It's your fault," muttered Hakim. "You were the one who nearly killed him."
"You were the first one to attack him. I was backing you up! It's your fault!"
"It was you who let them escape from the First Nome."
"I was facing both Kanes, their pet goddess, and the two demigods, and I might as well have been facing them alone because my back up didn't help at all! And then I got mobbed by those damned tiger fish!"
She pointed her staff at Hakim, and spoke the word for the most powerful fire spell that she knew. Hakim went up in flames like last year's Christmas tree. His nervous system was burnt to a crisp before he even had the chance to scream.
Aziza allowed herself one sick smile and a short moment of laughter before sweeping the evidence into the Duat, where no one would find it.
Poor Hakim, she would say when she had to report on her partner's disappearance. Wandered outside right before a storm and never came back. I've searched so hard, trying to find his body, to bring it home, but I'm afraid he's buried under ice somewhere.
She'd pretend to still be loyal to the House of Life despite this slight, but in truth, she now considered herself freelance. They couldn't punish her like this and expect her to take it laying down, but she'd let them think they could. Ostracizing herself from the House of Life would just be stupid. They were a powerful organization, and for now she still needed their backing. So she'd serve out the rest of her sentence in the 360th Nome, and then she'd set about getting revenge on those who'd caused this. Her superiors. The Kanes. And those two meddling demigods.
She smiled cruelly as she thought about how Nico di Angelo had been writhing in pain the last time she had him in her grasp.
I'll see you again soon, pet.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end, and for all the feedback that everyone who's reviewed has left me. Sorry it took me so long to get this last chapter up. I had a hard time writing it so that it felt right, and had to keep starting over because I wanted to get it just right. This is the newest and best draft of it, and I knew you guys were probably getting tired of waiting, so here it finally is!
Like I said earlier, I'm planning other stories in this AU, and I'm taking into consideration all requests that have been made, because I know I'm not the only one with good ideas about what should happen. Annabeth, Paul, and Thalia will be in future stories. Nico's going to learn more about the Kanes and what they've been through, and the Kanes are going to hear more about the demigods' adventures. If you have any ideas you want me to try to incorporate, please let me know in a review.
Also, I've gotten a couple PMs from people asking permission to use this AU. My answer to them, and anyone else who might want to write a story in this AU is go for it!