Have ya missed me? Have ya? Have ya?

I wouldn't, I've been an awful updater. And I have no excuse. I suck. You can hate me, if you want. Leave a flame! Or don't. Because those suck, and they make me weep.

Bee tee dubs, to those who asked, this is NOT an Annico. Naw, Percabeth all the way. (Though I have to admit, I rooted for Rachel for a while. The artist in me recognized a kindred spirit, but then she was like "Fate brought me to you so I could became the Oracle and ditch you." The bitch.)

Disclaimer: Roses are red, violets are blue.

Do I look like Rick Riordan to you?

Annabeth gapes up at Nico, her grey eyes swirling like hurricanes at the son of Hades. She can't believe her ears. China? They're in China?

She stands up, tossing her food to the side angrily. She can see Nico scrambling nervously from her peripheral vision, picking up the container and scooping up the rice. She has no idea why he does it, and puts it down to an excuse for him not to look her in the eyes.

As he picks up every last grain of rice, Annabeth reflects on what he had just said. China. How the hell had he managed to get them in China? Nico always said he was getting better, that he was practically an expert at shadow-travel. Oh, yes, all experts accidentally end up on the other side of the world. It's like a daily occurrence!

Shoving her angry, sarcastic remarks aside, Annabeth turns to Nico and clasps her hands in front of her, trying to remain cool.

"We're in China? Are you sure we're not just in China Town?" she asks. Her voice is strained, and she can feel her face flushing so deeply. She figures she must look like a tomato, but she can't find it in her heart to care. Her looks are at the bottom of her list at the moment, as they had been since that fateful night at Olympus.

Nico mumbles inaudibly under his breath, and Annabeth feels her anger spike for a moment before she closes her eyes and takes a minute to cool down.

"What was that? I didn't hear you, you'll have to speak up," she said tersely. He sighs and finally meets her eyes. When he sees the anger churning in them, he draws in on himself slightly.

"We're in China, I'm sure. A women at the place I got the food from spoke some English, and…" he swallows hard. "She said we're in China, and then asked me if I wanted soy sauce with our food. I got some, by the way. It's in the bag."

Annabeth collapses against a tree, feeling dizzy. Nico looks uncomfortable as he sets a comforting hand on her shoulder, which she immediately shakes off angrily.

"I don't need your comfort, I need out of here," she spits out. He has the decency to look ashamed, and Annabeth straightens up, wiping the dirt off her back as she starts to pack.

Her movements are harsh and mechanical, hardened by anger and laced with obvious violence. She focuses all her attention on the action of packing, not letting herself think about anything. Not Nico, not Percy, not even China. Only packing.

She finishes packing and slings her bag on her back, still refusing to meet Nico's eyes as he offers his arm. She stares at it dumbly.

"What do you expect me to do with that?" she asks coldly. She can't help her anger; it's completely Nico's fault, and she isn't about to just let the fact that he screwed up slide.

"Take it so we can shadow-travel back home?" he says, his tone oozing 'duh'. Annabeth almost laughs, but she's too busy staring at Nico as if he had grown a second head.

"That's almost laughable," she spits angrily, "I'll shadow-travel with you again when Kronos throws on a grass skirt and dances the hula."

"What?" he gasps, "Annabeth, chill! I made a simple mistake, it was a small miscalculation, and it'll take so much longer to get back without it, and there's no entrance to the Underworld in China!"

Annabeth rolls her eyes and thrusts Nico's bag into his chest, smiling sardonically as he lets out a surprised wheeze.

"Come on, show me the way to the market," she orders, gesturing for him to lead the way. He grumbles and starts off in a direction that she believes is west, judging by the sun's position in the sky.

They walk in silence, the only sounds coming from the crunching of the twigs and such under their feet. After a while of navigating through thick, treacherous forest, they finally reach a long, thin river, flowing rather gently through the brush. On the other side, Annabeth can see the end of the forest, and a long road weaving through countryside. She smiles slightly before turning to Nico. Her smile immediately drops.

"How do we get to the other side?" she asks. He grins slightly.

"We swim, obviously."

"What?" Annabeth whines. "Can't you just use your son-of-Hades powers or something?"

Nico grimaces. "Not unless you want to use a dead body as a raft, no. I don't control water, I'm not Per—"

"Don't say it," she warns angrily. He nods minutely and heads toward the riverbank, grabbing his bag and, with all his might, tossing it to the other side- Annabeth is surprised by the small boy's strength, as the bag just makes it to the other side. He holds out his hand and she gives him her own pack, which he also throws to the other side.

"Think you could do the same for me?" she jokes. He chuckles.

"Sorry, jokester, we're swimming to the other side."

Annabeth sighs and walks uneasily to the water, and takes a step in. The water is flowing weakly, so there's no worry about being whisked away by the current. Annabeth takes another shuddering breath before she dives fully into the water, arms working hard to get her to the other side. She can hear Nico paddling behind her.

She makes it about halfway very quickly, and as she gets close to the other side, a strong hand grips her ankle and pulls her into the murky depths before she can even scream.