A/N I did not expect this to get past five hundred words. I was writing the words in my head last night, before I fell asleep - basically I got tired of everyone romanticizing Nico. I probably romanticized him too, but I like to think that I've pointed out his flaws. Lots of people ignore the flaws.

Don't tell me you loved this. Tell me what's wrong with it. Flame me, for heaven's sake - I need the feedback. I'm getting tired of good reviews. Find something in here to flame me for. Then I can laugh and point out how you're wrong.

Nico di Angelo

Nico di Angelo is not handsome. Not in the least.

He is tall, yes, and lean, but more lean than average. His body weight is extremely below the norm, and his physical build resembles a skeleton more than a human or even a corpse. Skin grips the bones tightly, emphasizing this. He has muscles, but they aren't visible.

His clothing looks like it was fine once, maybe even expensive, but now it's torn, stained and discolored; time and hardship have unraveled it and the skull ring is tarnished. His aviator's jacket has seen better days, to say the least, and no matter what he wants he's going to have to give it up at some point.

He is pale, pale almost beyond all recognition from too much time underground and too little time above it. Sometimes, if you look closely enough, you can see the blue and red veins crisscrossing just beneath the surface of his skin. His lips are pale, thin and chapped, because he doesn't do anything to prevent it.

His hands are thin and long, and when they move in the dark they resemble flourescent spiders. They are cold, and there is dirt encrusted beneath his fingernails from summoning spirits and ghosts too much. They are callused from swinging a sword, and a little burned from sharpening the blade.

His face is pale too, and it looks like snow underneath his black hair. His hair is thick, like his mother's, but it's oily and stringy because he doesn't wash it often. He doesn't have too many acne problems like most teenagers, but he makes up for it by being covered in scars; momentos from various battles and encounters, not all of them accounted for or by the same person. His eyes are gaunt and sunken. Dark colored eyes are never deep, and his aren't any different: because they aren't deep you can see madness and insanity lurking within, just waiting for the chance to spring out. And it's there with good reason: Nico has lost so many people, has killed so many more...

He didn't used to kill mortals. When he was younger he never even dreamed of it. Monsters, yes, demigods, maybe. But never mortals.

Encounters with mortals, though, changed that. When he was younger instincts couldn't compete with the lack of knowledge, and it was easier to beat him then than it is now. He's gotten better with his sword, though, and now if you get into a fight with him it's best to write your will and say your prayers, because you won't come back alive. He doesn't care who he kills any more.

He justifies it, though – the people he kills often have something they need to be killed for. Maybe they're criminals, or were thinking about betraying someone. They were probably thinking about betraying him, even. Maybe they were getting ready to raise the Titans again. Maybe they were about to commit treason against their country.

It doesn't matter now. He's killed them and they're gone, and they don't need to be thought about any longer.

But he thinks about them still. He thinks about them like an obsession; he sees faces and hears voices almost all the time.

Maybe he feels ashamed.

Maybe he feels hurt, or depressed. Maybe he doesn't feel anything at all.

He does feel things, though. He's an amazing liar and a phenomenal actor; if he wants you to believe something then by Zeus you'll believe it, regardless of anything. You can't read his face, or his eyes, but if you get close enough to him he lets you see himself sometimes. In his eyes you can see shame, lots of shame, and there's also the need for something. You can see hurt, and fear, and you can see madness and encroaching insanity. You can see hatred. And you can see love.

Love for his friends, who are gone. Love for his sister, who is gone. Love for a father who will never love him back. He wants love, but he's too damn stubborn to ask for it and too damn introverted to accept it. If you didn't know better, you'd think he wanted to feel sorry for himself.

Sometimes feeling sorry for himself is the only outlet.

He never goes to camp anymore. His friends aren't there. Thalia is still with the hunt, and Annabeth joined a few years back. So he doesn't see them. Percy died a little before Annabeth joined: he was assassinated by another demigod, a trusted demigod. They still don't know why. Nico killed said demigod before anything could be uncovered. The other people who are at camp, Rachel and Chiron and the other campers, are scared of him. Rachel acts like she isn't, but he can feel her repulsion. She makes excuses and gets away as fast as possible. Chiron's not scared, not really, but he looks at Nico like he feels sorry for him, like he wishes he could help. Well, he can't help. Nobody can help anymore; and nobody could help before either.

The other campers are scared of him and they're not afraid to show it. Clarisse isn't around to beat the Ares cabin into admiration for the Battle of Olympus anymore, so they don't admit they're scared, but they hiss at him and jeer at him and sharpen their blades when he's around. The other cabins stare with wide eyes and open mouths: the son of Hades towers over them, radiating death and tragedy, and anyone in his right mind knows that to get near him is to die. And they're probably right. Nobody's going to replace Percy, Thalia, Rachel and Annabeth. Nobody in this next generation of demigods can even come close.

So he stays away from camp. He stays away from Percy's old apartment, and though he can find the Hunters at any time and Thalia will make them welcome him, he stays away from them too. He stays away from the Roman camp because they can see what nobody else can. He stays away from the underworld because if the people he's killed crowd him, he won't be able to handle it. Sons of Hades are hardwired against this sort of thing, but Nico has always been different. He's always been weaker.

The Romans can see it. Jason and the rest of the First Legion, they know what's going on, and for Nico's own safety Jason banned him from the camp. So now Nico wanders around, going to places. He goes to China sometimes, for old times' sake. But he doesn't find anything there.

Jason can see what everybody else can see but doesn't want to. Nico di Angelo is getting more dangerous by the hour.

He's getting more dangerous because he's losing it. He might lash out against someone and that would be the last straw, and then they'd have to kill him, because you can't do anything for a son of Hades once he's gone.

Nico di Angelo is just like every other son of Hades.

It's gradual and slow, almost painfully slow, but it's happening.

He's going insane.

And there's nothing anybody can do about it.