"Get away from my cousin!"
Jason held up his hands to show he didn't mean any harm, but didn't scoot away from Nico. "Hey, hey," he said hastily when the other demigod got a look in his eyes that Jason suspected meant he was about to spring, "I'm not going to hurt him. You and I aren't enemies."
"I don't care, get away from him now!"
Jason really didn't want to, but he could tell that nothing he said was going to make a difference right now. So he backed off a few steps. "He's hurt," he told the other demigod, as he advanced once Jason backed off. "I couldn't find a pulse and he's not breathing. That machine did something to him when it exploded."
The other demigod, who Jason was pretty sure was Percy, knelt down beside Nico to check for himself. "Damn it . . ."
"I was about to give him CPR," said Jason, "but I don't know if it will work with that . . . thing on his chest."
"I don't know either," growled Percy. "Just . . . you just stay back."
"I'm not your enemy," Jason told him again. "I busted in here to rescue Nico too. You, you're Percy right? Hurricane Percy?"
"What?" demanded Percy. "What did you just call me?"
Jason winced. "Actually, Nico called you that. I thought it might be a nickname, or a title."
That must have sounded like something Nico would say, because a little bit of the suspicion in Percy's eyes went away and he started giving Nico chest compressions. "How long has he been like this?"
"Less than a minute. I can help -"
"You can stay back," snapped Percy, before giving Nico two rescue breaths. "What in Hades is that guy over there screaming about?" he asked once he switched back to chest compressions.
"He got hit by the power dampener's blast when it blew up too," explained Jason. "Nico got the worst of it. He shielded me."
A little bit of surprise crossed Percy's face but he didn't comment on what it was he found unusual. Jason couldn't help but wonder, even though he didn't want to distract Percy by asking. Was it unusual for Nico to prioritize others over his own safety? That wasn't in line with what Jason knew about him, not that he knew all that much. Nico had infiltrated the school of his own volition. Risked his own safety for all those other demigods. As much as Jason would have liked to think that maybe Nico had acted out of character and shielded Jason because they were cousins, he didn't think it was true. No, Nico was a natural born hero if Jason had ever known one, and Jason knew that he could have been anyone and Nico would still have shielded him.
He watched in silence as Percy continued trying to revive Nico, growing more and more desperate as one minute turned into two.
"Please," he tried again, "let me help."
Percy's green eyes boiled with suspicion.
"I can't possibly make things any worse," said Jason.
Finally, Percy nodded and Jason hurried over and took over giving chest compressions.
Two minutes turned into three. Then four.
"Nico, Nico, come on!" Percy began growing even more desperate. "Wake up, you little hellion! Wake up!"
"No, it's not too late! Don't even suggest it!"
"There's one more thing I can try," said Jason, "but you'll want to stand back."
"Why? What are you going to do?"
"Give him a jolt," said Jason, then clarified. "Of electricity. See if I can jumpstart his heart . . . stone . . . thing."
Percy only hesitated a second, then nodded and moved back. "So, your sword is electric? That's -"
Jason pressed one hand over Nico's heart scarab and summoned a bolt of lightning. There was a thunderclap and a flash of light. Nico's body jerked as electricity ran through all his nerves and muscles, then flopped back down and lay still. For a second, Jason thought it hadn't worked. His own frustration had just started to give way to burning despair, and he prepared to try again, but then Nico bolted upright and screamed.
Green hieroglyphics blazed all around him, and though Jason couldn't read them, he recognized some as depicting jackals, vultures, and coffins, right before an unseen force flung him backwards, all the way against the far wall. Nico's eyes burned green as he jerked his head around frantically, like he was panicking. Then all at once, he calmed, and the green lights around him died.
Percy was the first to recover. He picked himself up and hurried over to Nico, looking relieved enough to cry, which was kind of how Jason felt. He might not know Nico, or even Percy very well, but they were both sons of the Elder Three, which made them the closest thing to family that he had, until he got Thalia back. He would have hurried over as well, but didn't want Percy misinterpreting his movements as a threat.
"Are you okay?" asked Percy, grabbing onto Nico's shoulder, but Jason wasn't sure if it was to steady his cousin or himself.
"I . . . I . . . yes. I think I am," said Nico, but somehow he didn't look all that certain.
"Are you sure?" asked Jason, stopping a few feet away from the Greek demigods, to respect personal boundaries.
"Sure enough," said Nico. "I see you two have met."
"Not officially," said Jason. He turned to Percy and held out a hand. "Jason Grace."
"Percy Jackson," the son of Poseideon introduced himself. "Sorry about before."
"No worried. I know how the situation had to have looked."
Percy seemed a lot more friendly now that he wasn't staring at Jason like he wanted to drown him. Then his brow furrowed and he seemed to make some sort of connection. "Your last name is Grace? And you have lightning powers?"
"Yes," said Jason, "I think you know my sister -"
"Thalia's his sister," said Nico.
"Nico told me he knows her," said Jason, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice.
"And he – I told him I would reintroduce them," said Nico. "It's a very long story -"
"But an important one, I think," said Percy. His expression had changed minutely. If Jason didn't know better, he'd think Percy looked almost suspicious. But no, it had to be that he'd just remembered their situation, because he hauled Landin off the floor and struck him in the head with the pommel of his sword, knocking him out. "Let's get out of here and then you guys can tell me all about it. Should we head out on foot? Or are you strong enough to shadow travel us?"
Nico looked a little apprehensive, but nodded and held out his hands. Percy grabbed one, then both boys looked at Jason expectingly. Nico very deliberately moved his hand closer to Jason, indicating that he wanted him to grab onto it, so Jason obeyed. "What -"
Before he could finish he was swamped by darkness. Bitter cold darkness, like he was drowning in an icy current that was rushing past him so fast. He was about to scream, but suddenly, the darkness was gone. Or at least, the cold darkness was gone. Regular, not-so-dark darkness took its place, colored slightly by city lights.
"Where are we?" asked Percy. There was something in his tone that Jason thought sounded dangerous and angry. Then he saw the signs and kind of understood why.
"Those signs are in Chinese," he said.
"Oops," said Nico. "Hang on."
Darkness welled up again before Jason had time to even react. Just as suddenly it cleared away, but this time the cold did not. He realized, with shock and horror, that he was neck deep in water. Even worse, a very familiar giant statue was lit up further out in the water. The Statue of Libery. They were in New York. Not a good place for three half bloods to be if they didn't want a whole bunch of fights with monsters. For three sons of the Elder Three it was even worse.
Percy took care of towing them all to shore. Jason could have swam on his own, but he quickly realized that it was faster just to let Percy take care of it. His sea god powers helped propel all three of them, well four if Landin was included, to the shore.
"We're near Brooklyn House," said Nico. "We can keep Landin prisoner there for awhile. The other magicians will be willing to watch him while we reintroduce Thalia and Jason, explain the whole Greek-Roman thing, and figure out how to avoid another civil war between you guys."
"Greek-Roman thing?" asked Percy.
"It's going to take awhile to explain," said Jason. "Maybe we should get Landin secured first?"
"I can wait for an explanation for that," said Percy, "but there's one thing I need to know right now."
"What's that?" asked Jason.
"Sorry, but I need to ask it to Nico alone," said Percy.
Jason nodded. "Sure. Alright. I'll just take Landin then? And go wait . . . over there?" He motioned vaguely down the street then hauled Landin up over one of his shoulders and headed in that direction.
"Thanks," said Percy. "And sorry about this. It's just . . . a personal matter."
"It's fine," assured Jason, even though he felt a little stung. But then, he had known Percy for like three minutes, and Nico for only a couple weeks. Trust took time, he knew, and he was sure he would be able to build it with them both eventually. Besides, the two of them were going to give him his sister back. He was willing to do a whole lot more for them than just give them a few minutes of privacy, if it meant he could see Thalia again.
Percy waited until he was sure Jason was out of earshot then turned toward his cousin.
"What is it, Percy?"
Percy glared at him. "Why don't you tell me, Anubis?"
Nico, no Anubis, blinked. "You . . . you can tell it's me?"
"Of course I can tell it's you," said Percy. "You and Nico don't form your words the same way, and you speak more formally. If I'm right, you've been the one in control since you woke up, which begs the question: why is Nico letting you?"
Worry shaded Nico's face. Anubis's worry. Percy had never liked the idea of the Egyptian god being able to take over his cousin at will, but had put up with it because he didn't really have a choice, and because Nico and Anubis had come to an agreement, where Nico was in charge of his own body, unless he deemed it necessary for Anubis to take control.
"I'm sorry, Percy," said Anubis, "but we have a problem."
"And that is?"
Anubis took a deep breath before answering. "Nico's not here."
Percy gaped at him. "What in Hades's name do you mean Nico's not here?"
"Don't invoke his father's name," pleaded Anubis. "It might attract his attention."
"What do you mean Nico's not here?!" demanded Percy. "Are you saying . . . is he . . ."
"I don't know," said Anubis. "He's just . . . he's not in my head anymore. Not in his head anymore. He's nowhere."
"Do you mean he's dead, and his body is just . . . Oh gods . . ."
"I don't think he's dead," said Anubis. "I don't know what happened to him, but . . . I just don't know what happened to him, but I'd know if he was dead. And he's not."
Percy took several deep breaths, trying to make sense of this. "So he's not dead. You're positive?" he asked finally.
"I'm positive," said Anubis.
"So if he's not dead that means, what? His soul is just missing?"
"Ok . . . so all we need to do is get it back, right?"
Anubis gave a helpless looking shrug.
"If we find it, we can get it back into his body, right?" asked Percy. "You can do that, can't you?"
"I . . . yes. I'll find a way. If I can't figure it out on my own, we can ask Thoth for help," said Anubis. "In fact, asking him what he thinks of this might be a good place to start . . . even though he is currently besieged by a bunch of chaos demons in the Pyramid Arena."
"Right," muttered Percy. "I'd forgotten about the Egyptian apocalypse that was in progress. You guys are stretched thin, then?"
Anubis nodded. "But I don't think you have time to worry about that. You have to figure out a way to prevent a civil war from breaking out."
"Between the Greek and Roman demigods. Er . . . you don't know."
"Yeah, I get the feeling that I'm missing something," said Percy, "but you know what? Let's let it wait. I'm pretty sure we're going to need more help than just the god of hippies, for all these problems." He stared at Nico's face, and just felt really, really weird knowing Nico wasn't the one behind it now. He hoped that when he got his cousin back, he'd forgive him for what he was about to do. "I'm Iris messaging Annabeth and Thalia. I'm letting them know everything now. Jason too, if you and Thalia think he can be trusted. And we're going to figure this out together. We're stronger as a family."
To Be Continued In The Next Installment Of The Alliance AU: Children Of The Underworld
AN: The first chapter of Children of the Underworld will hopefully be ready in about two weeks. Also on the way is a Christmas fic, and the Percy Jackson/Façade crossover that I'm coauthoring with another writer on this site. I plan to do a freaking ton of writing over Christmas break, and cannot wait until it starts.
Thank you all for reading!