Chance: Another Go-Around

A PJO oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus characters belong to Rick Riordan, not to me. My first PJO fic…finally. XD Just a thought that occurred to me during The Son of Neptune. Technically, I should've written this ages ago, but here it is. Oh, and this pairing was discovered by me, so it'd be nice to have a little mention if you write them! Thanks! Read, review, and enjoy!

- ^-^3

It was a victory. …it was a victory, right? Gwen honestly couldn't remember much, because someone had stupidly run her through with their stupid pilum!

She'd met Charon at Styx after…but something had caught her eye. There was a door that she hadn't noticed, and she took her chances with it. If there was a door in the Underworld left unguarded, then maybe…maybe she could survive. But when she went through, the door simply shut behind her, leaving her in pitch darkness.

Ah, well. Just great, Gwen thought. Just when it looks as though the Fifth Cohort's luck has changed, I get killed. Guess there's no time left for me to do anything else. Gods, I didn't even get the chance to retire from all this. I didn't go to college—and I'm at college-age. Ugh, if I ever see Dakota in the Underworld, will he ever let me live it down? The optimistic Gwen, the demigod daughter of Ceres who had plans—she couldn't even live to celebrate with her cohort.

She paused in her silent grumblings. Wait. If she really was dead…then why was she still thinking all these things?

Just like that, Gwen opened her eyes with a gasp. She swallowed a scream when she saw that everyone was standing around, looking down at her. Her eyes followed the others' line of sight…and she swallowed another scream.

The pilum was still sticking out of her chest.

Frank told her to close her eyes, and he and two others pulled the weapon out of her. Surprisingly, Gwen felt nothing. Had that even really happened?

Hazel eyed her warily. "Gwen…you just died."

Gwen checked herself, but she had been completely healed. "It doesn't seem like it…" She moved to tell the others what had happened, but then Mars appeared, bickering about a quest to find Thanatos, and Gwen tuned it all out.

Hazel was right. Gwen had died. And she still should've been dead.

But she wasn't.

The redhead tried to find the humor in the situation—even Mars called her "Centurion Shishkebab"—but her mind was speeding by, tripping over her thoughts. All those ideas she'd just had… Maybe there was still time for them.

"You almost got killed by Octavian," Dakota slurred at dinner that night.

Gwen frowned. "How do you know it was Octavian?"

"I doubt I was the only one who noticed that he was empty-handed when the medics arrived. It was a First Cohort pilum, Gwen," replied the dark-haired son of Bacchus.

She sighed. "Oh."

He giggled as he sipped his Kool-Aid. "By Octavian," he repeated.

Gwen forced a smile. Had it been another time, she would've laughed with Dakota. Octavian wasn't the most well-liked person at the camp, and it truly would've been awful to have fallen at his weapon. Still, Gwen couldn't shake the feeling that she had taken a bite out of Luck, a feeling that put her in a solemn and not a silly mood.

She left Dakota to his supper and left the meal altogether. She knew what she needed. She needed a walk amongst the crops. Walking through them would make her feel as though her mom was giving her advice, even if she hadn't heard from Ceres in a while.

Gwen had barely taken a step into the edge of the wheat field when she sensed someone behind her. She turned and saw Nico, the ambassador to Pluto.

"Hello, Gwendolyn," he said calmly.

Gwen felt herself blush. He was Hazel's half-brother, and knowing he was a son of Pluto made Gwen feel ashamed, to an extent. He'd been one of the faces in the crowd that had watched her come back to life. Surely it was as much of a slap in the face to him as it had been to his father? "…hi, Nico," she muttered.

"Are you all right?"

The girl looked him in the eye and wondered if he was asking in order to tease her. He should've said something nasty to her, shouldn't he have? It was nice to be asked, though. Not even Dakota had asked. He'd said, "Knew it'd take more than that to kill you," and gone on to mention how "sturdy" she was. "I'm…fine. I guess."

Nico pursed his lips, and Gwen got the feeling that he wanted to know what "I guess" meant.

"Except for having visited the Underworld, I feel fine." She patted her chest, arms, and stomach. "See? I feel just as I had before. Human. Mortal. But alive."

He cocked his head to one side as he observed her, and Gwen's blush returned. She knew he was older than Hazel, making him what—fourteen, fifteen? And yet he seemed to be much more older than that. Maybe he was older even than her. He was at least taller than her. Gwen's eyes dropped briefly to his feet; they were too obscured in shadow for her to see if he was even standing on the solid ground, and she'd seen him manipulate the shadows and slip in and out of them in passing. Nico might've been observing her, but he definitely was the one that required more observation.

"Were you done eating?" she asked. She hoped he might stop staring at her if he was forced to converse.

He shrugged. "I wanted to talk to you about your experience."

"Oh. Mind if we walk and talk, then?"

He fidgeted, staying outside the crop. "…I'd rather not. Ceres and all… Being Pluto's son…"

For being such a smart girl, she sure felt stupid. Of course he'd be uncomfortable with so much of her mother's essence around. It wasn't as though Ceres would ever forgive Pluto for taking Gwen's half-sister, Proserpina, into the Underworld with him. It probably was best that Nico stayed put outside of the field. "All right, then. Shoot."

He quirked an eyebrow, and there was a hint of a smirk at the corner of his lips.

Well, duh. Technically, she'd been shot by a pilum today… Gods, when this day ended, she would never be as happy again!

"When you turned down Charon, was he angry?"

"I didn't notice."

"Hmm. When you found that door, you said you just took your chances with it."

Gwen nodded.

"But…you didn't see any of the other doors?"

"You mean the other exits that Mars mentioned? No. I only saw one and made a beeline for it." She frowned. "I guess that wasn't a very brave thing to do."

Her remark surprised him—or so she thought. It was hard to tell in the moonlight, even as dark as his eyebrows were on his pale skin, but she imagined his brow shot up. "Why do you say that?"

She looked away from him and gazed at the wheat instead, taking some comfort from it. "Well… A demigod should fight bravely and accept his or her death. Especially in battle." She closed her eyes as her face grew warm. "Especially a Roman demigod."

There was a chilled wind that rustled through the field and caused goose bumps on her arms. Gwen opened her eyes and saw that Nico had drawn closer to her to give her comfort. His smile was sad, and he raised one hand. He seemed to move to touch her cheek, but his hand instead rested on her shoulder and patted it. "Even the gods get scared, Gwendolyn. And Jupiter can just try striking me down if that's a lie." He waited for a moment and then smirked, and Gwen guiltily laughed.

"I will say one thing, though. Those few breaths of death made me reevaluate life." She clenched her hands into fists. "Not that I took things for granted before, but… I can appreciate the things I have more now, you know?"

Had she said something funny? Nico pulled away until he stood in his initial spot, but she could've sworn she'd heard him chuckle. "It's good to be in that mindset," he stated. And Gwen felt he meant his words.

"Why did you have to ask me those things?" she inquired, curious.

An odd beat of silence passed. "Because an ambassador to Pluto should know everything that goes on with life and death, shouldn't he?"

Gwen shrugged. "I guess." She definitely heard him chuckle that time, but when she looked to see an elusive smile on Nico's face, she saw nothing but shadows and wheat. "Goodnight to you, too," she mumbled to herself.

The daughter of Ceres only spent a little time in her mother's domain before deciding to turn in early for the night. There, tucked into her bed, Gwen slept like the dead—without dreams. In the morning, when she awoke with a yawn and determined she'd had no dreams, she shivered. Being dead for real for a little bit made her yearn for dreams again, even if they turned out to be nightmares or prophecy-related or something like that.

There seemed to be hardly any time for food as all the centurions headed for the Senate. Even a few who weren't centurions—like Frank, Hazel, and the new kid, Percy—were going to attend the meeting. Someone else who wasn't a centurion but held an odd title, too, fell into step with Gwen.

"Good morning," she said to Nico.

"Hello again," he replied. Being the son of Pluto, he was accustomed to black clothing, and his toga was not an exception to that rule. That, coupled with his "hello again," made Gwen wonder offhandedly if he ever thought morning was a good thing.

"What fun—we get to talk in front of the others," she said, hoping to get him to talk more.

"Is there something you need to say?"

She frowned a little. "Yes… I'll be telling them that I'm going to step down as centurion of the Fifth Cohort. I just… I've been it for ten years. And I think, in light of yesterday, it's about time for me to do something else."

Nico nodded. "Yes, being centurion seems to have caused those bags under your eyes."

Gwen didn't begrudge him for pointing out the obvious. She'd seen her reflection earlier. She knew she looked almost as tired as she felt.

"But that's good of you, thinking to put yourself first for once." He grimaced. "Countless times I've heard people tell me that I'm selfish…I only wish."

She caught his profile as he stared ahead determinedly at the Senate, and Gwen considered what he meant. Nico wasn't one necessarily to join the others in their activities and such…but she got the impression that Nico did much more than anyone else gave him credit for. "I'm going to college," she informed him cheerily, glad her tone worked on him when she saw his grimace fade. "I don't know what I'll do, but I can at least learn and enjoy life."

There. She saw it. The ghost of a smile on his lips. "I suppose anything is possible for Gwendolyn, the girl who came back to life."

"What about you? Won't you ever go to college?"

He pulled a face. "I've learned much more than I care to know. Besides, I'm not someone who can sit still for very long."

"I'm not too bad at waiting." She pinched her lips shut. Her words could've meant anything…! Yet, it'd be nice to know that Nico could find her if she stayed in relatively one place. It could be nice, getting to know this surprising son of Death, who hadn't lashed out at her but instead seemed concerned that she was actually alive.

Hmm. Being alive could mean a whole lot more, couldn't it?

Gwen wanted to ask Nico that question, but then they arrived at the Senate doors. He kindly patted her arm before he slipped into the shadows. She saw him appear on the opposite side of the room from where she joined the others. Reyna asked if she was all right, for her face was nearly as red as her hair.

"Actually, I think I'm a lot better now than I was before," Gwen said, other plans for the future growing in the corner of her mind.

- ^-^3

:3 Yay! My 1st PJO fic! XD I've had this idea in mind ever since I read that one line in SoN where it's mentioned that Nico spoke to her…and that idea flourished into this. I thought it'd be a drabble, but it didn't want to end! . But yay. Because Nico. He is awesome. He is LURVE. xDDD (I think one of my friends is rubbing off on me…!) Anywho, I'm definitely going to be writing more Gwico, as my pal BlueMango dubbed them. I know there's a bit of an age difference, but that doesn't bug me…plus, technically Nico's the older one. XD Yeah. Okay. I actually need to finish reading MoA right now…and get more Gwico ideas… Also, since we know so little about her, I thought it'd be interesting to give her short ginger hair and make her a daughter of Ceres. Ah, what fun…! (And please excuse any story mistakes, as I didn't have SoN in front of me when writing this.)

Thank you for reading, and please don't favorite without reviewing.

-mew-tsubaki :}