Title: Lights Outside Here
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians
Character/pairing: Percy/Nico, Bianca
Rating: PG at most?
Author's note: Comment_fic: Percy Jackson & The Olympians (books), Percy/Nico, he always spends time with Nico on the anniversary of Bianca's death. Post-series. Lots of spoilers for books 3-5. Title comes from a song by Kyte.
Nico brings out a second slice of blue cake from Percy's mom and sets out a piece for her. Percy doesn't need to ask, because really, Nico's sad expression says all.
"You know you can always stay with me, right?" Percy says. "I'm sure my mom won't mind at all."
"I know," Nico replies. There's the sound of cars going by as they sit on the fire escape. Nico isn't going to ask, so Percy pulls him close and wraps the blanket around both of them. They don't talk.
"Hey, Percy...can you do something for me?"
"Sure," Percy says, even though it's a bad idea, considering the last time he did what Nico wanted, he'd gotten imprisoned in the Underworld.
"When the ghosts come up, will you come with me?"
And Percy doesn't even think before he respond with a I'll be there.It's one of those things that always drove Annabeth crazy with all her well-plotted out ways.
"Good. Thanks," Nico says.
He's sitting there, stiff and awkward and Percy sighs just a little as he puts his arms around Nico and pulls him ever closer because there never has been a kid who needed a hug more than Nico de Angelo. And Nico doesn't fight it, just raises one brow.
"Quiet, you're getting hugged, ok?" Percy says. "It's what I want for my birthday."
"If you say so," Nico says. "You're a really cheap date, you know that?"
"Ha-Ha, really funny," Percy says.
Nico chuckles and looks down, a slight blush on his face. He's still such a kid with his awkward teenage emotions. Percy is nineteen now, and has the ability to look back sagely at the foibles of teenage angst. Mostly to tick off Annabeth and Nico, really.
He ruffles Nico's hair and it turns into a tickle fight until they're both laughing. There's the faint graze of their lips. Percy has a smudge of blue frosting he licks from Nico's cheek.
When they stop wrestling (like dumb boys, as Annabeth would put it) they lay out on the cold fire escape grill.
"It's what I wanted, you know?" Percy says.
"Yeah, I know," Nico says.
Nico lights a candle for her. The church is old, somewhere in New Orleans. It's late enough that most of the crowd has gone on from here. Like any demigod, Percy knows that Nico tends to avoid crowds if he can. No telling if he might lure a monster out simply by existing, and then some mortal could get caught in the middle, and that wouldn't be pretty. Not at all.
"In China they feed the ghosts. The Christian nations called it All Saint's Day. In Mexico, it's the day of the dead." Nico reads off the holiday in a monotone. "They're set at different times, but it's all the same, more or less."
Percy is a step away, holding a candle. The wax is running down his fingers, and he isn't sure what to say. He isn't sure Nico wantshim to say anything.
They step out of the church and instead of a Happy Meal, there's a platter of Fettuccine Alfredo and Tiramasu. "She used to love this," he murmurs. There's silvery light over and Percy can't tell if it's just fog or ghosts. "It's ghosts," Nico assures as if he's read his mind.
"Are you suremind reading isn't one of your specialties?" Percy says, exasperated.
Nico cracks a smile, the first one all day. "Positive."
"Just know you, is all," Nico murmurs.
Percy looks to him, but Nico is looking ahead and doesn't elaborate. They walk out with only candles to light their way through the graveyard. Maybe a few years ago he'd have thought going out in the middle of night on a night when ghosts had to be appeased to not haunt their family members, but now it just reminded him of Nico. Plus, once you've seen Typhon, and fought head to head with the Titan lord Kronos, horror movie scenes just didn't cut it. The grass is dewy and moonlit, and it soaks his tennis shoes. He isn't master of all waters, after all. He's yet to get any condensation to work by talking to it, though he's still trying. Rain tends to be Zeus' territory and thus usually ignores him outright. Sometimes he can get on the good side of the elements if it evaporated from a particularly friendly body of water. Such is the life of a demi-god.
Nico lays the food down. This night apparently doesn't require a chant, just waiting. He's brought Happy Meals for the rest of the ghosts who may come, especially any who didn't have a relative to feed them, but saved the best for his sister.
"I'll just be over here," Percy says, for the moment feels too intimate. Nico reaches out and grabs his wrist, quick before he can walk out into the graves.
"No, don't. I...want you to stay. Besides, it's not safe. There's a lot of ghosts hanging around."
Nico keeps a hold on his hand, and Percy doesn't shake free. Nico's skin is cold, like it never gets warm. Holding Nico's hand, suddenly it's like the mist is peeled back and he can see them–hundreds, no thousandsof them: silver specks of ghosts all around. Some are contorted in agony and others look sad. Still others seem peaceful. That's how Bianca looks as she steps through the crowd. Nico lets go for a minute, and the silver fades into mist . He lays out the happy meals so they won't go for Bianca's food, so the forgotten ghosts won't try to haunt him.
She comes out, thin and wispy walking through the moonlit graves.
"Bianca..." Nico says, barely above a whisper.
She nods to both of them.
"It's been a while," she says.
"Because you won't come when I call you," Nico says.
"It's for your own sake," Bianca says.
"Don't be sulky," she admonishes.
"I'm not," he protests.
The food disappears, turning into light as she absorbs it. She grows brighter, the shape of her becoming more defined and corporeal.
"I just have one thing to ask...are you happy?"
"Yes," she says simply. "I'm happy."
"...Good," Nico says. There regret and unease in his voice. It's the shaky voice of someone who is still a young boy, despite the many ways life has tried to steal it from him. Percy reaches out and touches his shoulder. Nico looks to him, a brief moment. In that time, she has moved, floating up above them.
"You better take good care of my brother, Percy," she says in a soft warning.
"I'll do my best. He's kind of a handful," Percy says, with a playful pat to Nico's shoulder.
"And like you're not?" Nico counters with a laughter.
Bianca smiles then. The lights of the dead drift and flow around them. Bianca rises with them. Away and far, and now gone.
"You'll be back next year?" Nico asks, a desperate tinge to his voice.
She nods as she disappears into moonlight. And then it's just them and the other dead souls drifting. Nico looks very young, vulnerable for a second. Percy grasps his hands, a bit too tight.
"Let's go in. Smelling all that food must have left you starved. C'mon, I'll pay."
Nico smiles, lopsided, but there, and nods.
They walk through the dew, feet shuffling along the grass.
"Be careful to not kick a tombstone. It really aggravates the dead. They'll curse you if they're angry enough," Nico says.
"Oh joy," Percy mutters as they weave through the tombstones. Some are cracking and some barely readable. Percy knows this place is old; some of these graves date back hundreds of years.
Before the question comes, Percy answers it outright. "I'll give you a ride next year. We can have a road trip or something."
"Who's the mind reader now?" Nico counters.
"I just know you well, is all," Percy says.