Hell And High Water

Ever since the first time Nico set his eyes on the son of Poseidon, he wanted him. Not just as a friend, or even just a boyfriend, but he wanted him. After he admitted that it was Percy he had been crushing on, Percy left. He snuck away from the Argo II in the dead of night. Nico goes after him, of course, but things don't go as Nico thought. What seemed like an easy task turned into a three year hunt for the son of Poseidon. So, what happens when Nico finally finds Percy? Will things explode in his face or will they pay off abundantly? Read and find out.

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13. Twelve

Nico didn't get a wink of sleep after the phone call from Apollo and had sat, watching the elder demigod in his slumber, since the call ended. He had tried once or twice to rest, but sleep evaded him and his efforts were in vain. So, he remained awake, watching the chest of the son of Poseidon rise and fall with his slow, but steady, breathing.

The sun rose in short time and Percy seemed to have sensed it because his eyes lulled open shortly after its appearance. The first thing he did was yawn, stretch out, and make way for the bathroom, ignoring everything else in the room. Nico never took his eyes from the elder as he walked and Percy only noticed he was being watched when he was out of the bathroom and sitting on his bed again.

The older demigod blushed a light bit, thinking back to the day before, but managed to hide his color behind another yawn and hands to cover it. He had expected Nico to either say something or stop staring but neither happened. So, Percy, feeling rather awkward, took the initiative to figure out what was going on.

"How'd you sleep?"

Nicos response was very flat. "I didn't."

Percy blushed again, thinking that Nico had stayed up all night watching him like he had all morning. But, once he looked a little more closely at the son of Hades' face, he realized that was far from the truth. Nicos expression was pretty grim, like it had been a few days earlier when he learned Percy would be sent to kill an old friend. However, this look was different. And, to Percy, there was no way to describe it.

The look itself made the son of Poseidon tensed and worried and the thoughts he came up for its reason made matters worse. "What's going on?"

Nico could feel the fear already radiating off of Percy and he looked at the son of Poseidon intensely, although he tried to keep his expression as soft as he could manage. "I know things are complicated right now, and we have a lot to think about... But they just got worse."

Percys worry intensified and his heart sped a little as he scrunched his eyebrows in confusion and shook his head, his mouth hanging slightly open. "What are you talking about?"

Nico stood from his bed and paced around the room a little, wondering if he should really tell the son of Poseidon. But he had already brought it up, it would be stupid if he didn't tell him. Not to mention that Percy couldn't be kept in the dark about things when he was involved.

"You remember Typhon and the Manticore?" Nico looked at Percy and saw him nod slowly and barely enough to actually be seen.

Nico took a deep breath, trying to find the right words. "I got a call from Apollo last night." The son of Hades was shaking his head slightly. "He told me something. Something not very good."

Percy waited for a second for more but the younger kept it at that. The son of Hades swallowed hard and Percy knew that something must have been very wrong. And, needless to say, Nico was starting to really scare the elder with what he was saying or, rather, what he was not saying. "Nico?"

Nico stopped pacing, making sure he was facing away from Percy, and hung his head. He lifted his hands to run his fingers through his hair before he turned back around. His hands were still clinging to the nape of his neck, fingers interlocked, facing the ceiling, when he sighed and began to speak again.

"We already knew that the Manticore was threatening that you would end up with him. You remember that, right?"

Percy nodded, fear rising even more as he realized there was a chance this could be about him and not just concern him.

"He and Typhon" Nico continued "are the kind of guys that will stop at nothing to get what they want." The son of Hades' words were quiet and his tone was very soft, although both hid an overwhelming, fearful anger.

Percy stared blankly at Nico, still not understanding what was going on.

"They found us, Percy." Nico tried to maintain his tone but saying those words out loud were harder than he expected. "The call from Apollo was to tell me that he saw them at a gas station not far from here. Basically, with an army."

Percys eyes instantly shot open in terror. His heart skipped a beat and his expression turned more fearful than anything Nico had ever seen before; even when he was about to kill someone, and they knew it, they didn't hold expressions like Percys. It made him regret, more than ever, even dragging Percy into any of this.

It took a few silent and tension filled minutes for the son to Poseidon to process what the younger demigod had said. As soon as the words left Nicos lips, Percy knew things were bad. But, once he began to let them sink in, he got a very unpleasant feeling. He continued to think about the words, and the possibilities of what they meant, and the sensation worsened: Percy was afraid and his fear was soon joined by feelings of vulnerability and distress.

The son of Poseidon dropped his gaze as he let things sink in a little deeper and thought about how the morning had taken such a turn for the worst. The unforseen development of yet another issue for the two demigods made Percy feel pretty stupid about what he had thought a bit earlier: things were much more serious than just being watched while he slept. Percy, honestly, felt pretty foolish. Originally, he thought that being watched as he slept would have been creepy. Now, he was kind of wishing that would have been the case.

As Percy finished his final thought, he realized that both he and Nico had much bigger things to worry about than what he had thought that morning. He looked at the son of Hades, who had resumed pacing the floor, and studied him for a second.

As far as Percy remembered, Nico had always been awkward: antisocial, angry, and tense. But this was new. At that moment, the son of Hades was more tense and furious than Percy had ever seen him before, whether it was at Camp or on the Argo. He was even more tense than he had been when Percy was hired for his hit on an old friend. Honestly, this made him look like he was happy before....

Percy sat and watched Nico for the few moments it took for him to stop pacing again. He opened his mouth to speak and the words left as shakey and breathy.

"What are we gonna do?"

Nico pursed his lips for a moment and then nodded before speaking. "You, are not gonna worry. You're gonna call Apollo and the two of you are gonna plan. And you're going to leave everything else up to me."

Percy tried to protest and tell Nico it wasn't fair for the son of Hades to have to worry about Typhon and Manti on his own. He tried to tell him he had to let Percy help. He tried to say that it would make it easier that way. But Nico didn't want to hear it.

"Stop!" The younger couldn't look at the son of Poseidon when he shouted at him but he could tell that Percy totally froze.

"I don't want to hear another thing about it come out of your mouth, you understand?" His tone was sharp now. "Get my phone and call Apollo." Nico headed off to the bathroom after that.

Percy sighed. He had made Nico angry, and he knew it. And, despite what had happened the day before, Percy was still afraid of the son of Hades. Actually, if anything, he was more afraid now. And that was the reason he took the son of Hades' phone from the table and went to his contacts; he wasn't sure if Nico would actually have names saved as contacts but he was about to find out. The only name that appeared was Apollo and  he had to scroll through a few initials and just plain numbers to find it. Percy stared at the small piece of technology questioningly as he wondered why Apollos contact was the only one with a name, but didn't spend too much time thinking before he pressed the word and the dial tone began to sound.

'Hello?'

Percy hesitated before he spoke quietly. "Apollo?"

'Nico?' The man sounded seriously confused.

Percys voice stayed low. "No... his friend."

'Oh.' There was a little noise like Apollo was moving around. 'I didn't expect you to call so early.'

Percy looked for a clock and started to feel guilty for calling Apollo at that time of morning. "Do- do you want me to call back later?"

'No. No, it's fine. Anyway, if you give me a second to get my computer running...' Percy could hear something ruffle in the background of the phone call, and then heard quiet words that sounded like a woman... *Who is it?* 'No one, baby. Go back to sleep.' *I don't wanna go to sleep.* There were a few small sounds then and a very soft moan. 'Baby stop. I'm busy. When I get off the phone I am all yours.' *Make it fast.* Percy blushed lightly, realizing what was going on and wondering what he had interrupted.

'Sorry about that.' Apollo chuckled lightly. 'Alright, you said you had a little bit of a plan. Tell me.'

It took Percy a few minutes, in which Nico had come back out of the bathroom, but he managed to tell Apollo about what he and Nico had put together. Minus using water as a ruse, of course. That would require one heck of an explanation and Apollo already had a few things he was asking about.

'A sword?' Apollo questioned. 'How the hell do you know how to use a sword?'

The son of Poseidon smiled lightly. "It's a long story."

Apollo coughed a little and made a few noises as he typed on his computer and scrolled through what he found. Percy was quick to grab the notebook and write all sorts of things as Apollo spoke, filling in the son of Poseidon on Hormes lack of ability with knives and blades.

Percy asked plenty of questions about what he was told and kept Apollo on his toes. Most everything was pretty easy to grasp but there were some things Percy had a hard time understanding, like how, even with a gun and a sword, he was still running the risk of losing his life. There was much more the teen was confused about and he made plenty of comments to let Apollo know it.

"I don't get what's so dangerous about him."

Apollo scoffed. 'Did you read the profile Nico has?'

"Yes."

'Then that should tell ya.'

Percy sighed. He was begining to feel really stupid and Apollo was not helping. "I don't understand what that stuff means."

Apollos end of the line went silent for a moment and Percy thought he had either hung up or given up. He could hear a soft moan and a deep laugh in the background a few seconds before Apollo picked the phone up again.

'Sorry about that.' ...So Percy had been wrong on both counts... 'You said something before, what was it?'

Percy sighed in agitation. "I said I don't understand what that stuff means."

Apollo leaned back in his chair and Percy could hear a squeak as he did. 'What the hell are you doing on a hit if you can't even figure out how that stuff is important?'

Percy was quiet for a moment and his face contorted into a slightly hurt expression.

Apollo sighed. 'I'm sorry, kid. I don't usually deal with... beginers. But, I'll try to keep it simple. I owe it to Hades.'

Percy nodded, although he knew Apollo couldn't see him. "Can you just explain some things to me about him? I think it'll help."

Apollo coughed and began speaking with slight reluctance in his voice. 'Well, he's a complicated character. He has plenty of associates but he'll do anything to save his ass, and I mean anything, no matter who else is involved. On top of that, he has no shame, so his methods are a little unorthodox and he often puts himself in very dangerous situations in order to carry out a plan. I seriously don't think he's afraid of anything so don't even bother trying to intimidate him. He has more skills than almost anyone out there and how he really goes about his business has been one of the best kept secrets on the streets for almost seven years.'

Apollo sounded like he was pleased with how much he knew but Percy sat, still as confused as he had been before. It seemed like it was a waste of time to be talking to Apollo.

After a few moments of Percys silence, Apollo spoke. 'You still have no clue, do you?'

"No." Percy spoke quietly and there was a little shame in his voice.

Apollo sighed. 'What do you want to know?'

"What I got myself into."

Nico perked up when he heard Percy say that; he was wondering what kind of conversation he was having with Apollo. For a split second, he thought that the phone call had turned to being about him and he swallowed hard as he thought of Percy being worried or afraid to be around him. The thought made him angry at himself because, if Percy was really scared, it had to be because Nico had to be stupid enough to think it was okay to kiss him...

For quite a while, Percy and Apollo talked on the phone. Nico was a little worried, for a short time, that there was a chance that the call could be traced and tracked. He scoffed at the thought because he knew Apollo wasn't stupid and that he would have taken precautionary measures to prevent something like that. Shaking his head at himself, the son of Hades shoved his ear buds in and just tried to lay back and relax. But that was easier said than done.

As the phone call between Percy and Apollo continued, the son of Poseidon was begining to feel a little more at ease about the whole thing. At one point, he managed to stand and grab some leftovers from the hotel fridge as he and Apollo discussed the good and bad in the son of Poseidons plan. It was a surprise to himself because he had thought he would be too nervous to eat. And he had been... until things began to slowly fall into place.

As they talked, Percy felt like he was really making progress. He was learning some of the terminology that had to do with hitting and weapons and other things of the sort. He was getting the hang of how to bait someone, how to draw them in, how to distract them, and how to make that all lead to a solid hit. Then came the time to talk about the hit itself. Percy began to get a little nervous thinking about the act of murder again and wished he could have been anywhere but his current situation. Apollo could tell and he remembered what he had told Percy at the start of the phone call about not dealing with beginners. He had to remember that the kid he was talking to was indeed a beginner so things would be odd for the both of them.

'You alright, kid?'

Percy took a second to take a breath and think "Yeah. I'm good. Keep talking."

Apollo wasted no time in following what Percy told him and continued to talk. He wanted to take things as slow as he could manage, despite the fact it made him uncomfortable, and he kept asking if Percy understood. As he spoke on, he did so in simple sentences and tried not to use too many words he thought might confuse the kid he was talking to. But, even with Apollo attempting to be simplistic, Percy still did get a little lost in it at times.

Apollo, very slowly and in plenty of detail, went through a well thought out plan that Percy had a hard time keeping up with. It was a little bizarre at times, not to mention confusing, but he came to realize that it seemed to tie in with what he already had pretty well. Basically, it seemed as though most of what Apollo said were just ways to perfect, and complicate, what Percy already had. It was helpful, for the most part, but still had the son of Poseidon slightly befuddled.

And things were only going to get worse.

Apollo deeped the conversation a bit and started in on ways that Percy could kill with a blade. He had to ask Apollo to stop for a second before the man went on as he was made a little nauseous at the idea of killing with something he had only ever used for protection.

Percy soon gave a "Go ahead" and Apollo nonchalantly picked up where he left off. He said that he himself had never used a sword but, if Percy was good with one, he figured he could get creative.

"Creative?" Percy questioned through confusion.

'Yeah.' Apollo chuckled back. 'I mean, who doesn't like creativity in killing?'

Right away, 'creative' ideas started to swarm to the son of Poseidons mind and he was made sick by most all of them. But, he put that feeling aside and forced himself to get over it. It was hard, though, considering Apollo was very descriptive and it took everything within the demigod not to throw up or pass out. He had to keep telling himself it wasn't real yet but, as the man spoke on, Percy began to picture things. He tried not to but ended up imagining what it might have looked like to kill someone in the ways Apollo was describing, and he didn't really like what he was seeing.

The son of Poseidon remained silent and kept his mouth closed, as not to throw up, and just tried to listen. He honestly did pretty well with it all until Apollo used that one word: decapitation. That put Percy over the edge and he instinctively gagged at the thought of removing someone's head with Riptide.

Nico had been watching Percy lazily from between his eye lids and he sat up and pulled his ear buds out when he saw the son of Poseidon gag. He couldn't hear what Apollo was talking about but, he kind of wished he could so he would know what had made Percy react in such a way. Instantly, without knowing what had been said, Nico wanted to jump through the phone and strangle Apollo for being such an ass and not thinking before he spoke. Soon, though, Percys demeanor went back to as normal as Nico figured it could be and the son of Hades allowed himself to relax.

Percy and Apollo talked for longer than any of them had expected. Nico had tried to stay focused and keep an eye on the son Poseidon as he and Apollo spoke to see any other reactions but he ended up slipping into his dreams. Dreams he would rather not have.

Nico honestly hadn't had a nightmare in over six months. He had thought they had actually gone away,and he was beyond happy with the idea. But, like most things in his life, that was too good to be true.

 

It was Percy. He had gone after Horme and it hadn't turned out as planned. The two were now engaged in a fight, Percy with Riptide and Horme with his fists, that would have had any normal onlooker running in fear for their lives.

The son of Poseidon was good with a sword: he was quick, agile, and had pretty decent battle strategy skills, but Horme wasn't Percys typical enemy. He was smarter and could anticipate Percys every move. And that was the problem: even without a weapon Horme was better than Percy in pretty much every aspect.

Percy had managed to hold his own for a few minutes as he struggled to gain an upper hand in the fight. But that's when Horme effortlessly struck him in the chest and an already bloody Percy fell to the ground.

The son of Hades tensed as he watched and remembered saying he would stay out of the hit, but now he couldn't. When he saw Horme stomping his foot into Percys chest and the son of Poseidon spewing blood at every blow Hormes' heavy foot delivered to the already broken ribs, he lost it. He began to run at the two and shout and yell and swear and anything else he could do to try to get Hormes attention away from the bloodied and broken boy on the ground.

And then it was his turn.

 

Percy turned his head to look at the sleeping son of Hades. He knew Nico was having a nightmare, given his twitching body and awkward moans that should have been screams. He also knew it wasn't the best of ideas to disturb a demigod during such a time. He had heard plenty of stories of people being harmed or even fatally wounded from doing such a thing. He himself had been clubbed a few times for it. Despite that knowledge, Percy stood from the chair slowly and approached Nicos sleeping figure cautiously. 

"Nico?" He spoke the name very quietly as he stepped closer. Nico was covered in a cold sweat and the veins in his neck were popping like he was fighting something. As he moved on the bed, he pulled the buds from his ears.

"Nico!" Percy reached out and picked up Nico phone to prevent anything happening to it or the son of Hades as he seemingly spasmed on the mattress.

Still, the son of Hades stayed in his nightmare. Percy took a few steps back and watched in helplessness as Nicos body contorted. He let out a yell and then went still and silent. Percys own heart was pounding from the scene that had unraveled before him: he had never seen Nico have a nightmare before. Nor had he ever seen the son of Hades look so pained, except for when Bianca had died...

It took a few minutes for Nico to open his eyes once he had calmed. Minutes in which Percy found himself panicking for some unknown reason. He had never cared before whether Nico was having a nightmare, why should he now? They were beyond common and it shouldn't have been something for Percy to worry about.

When the son of Hades' eyes finally lulled open, Percy breathed a small sigh of relief. Nico blinked a few times as the look of terror faded from his features and sat up before he rubbed his eyes and dropped his face into his hands. Percy wasn't quite sure if Nico knew he had had a nightmare, or if he just woke up feeling... odd.

The two sat in silence for a good number of minutes as Nicos breathing slowed and he came back down from the adrenaline rush he was all too familiar with. He flopped his head into the pillow below him and tried to let himself relax. The dream on its own wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't felt so real.

After he had calmed, Nicos bare arms errupted into goosebumps. He himself didn't seem to notice them but Percy had. He slowly made his way over to Nicos bag and picked up a hoodie before handing it to its owner. Nico looked back and forth between the son of Poseidon and the clothing in his hand a few times before he took it and slipped it on over his t-shirt.

"Thanks."

Percy nodded lightly as Nico tossed his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. It seemed to take him a second to catch his balance and Percy was about to hold a hand out to catch him, but it wasn't needed. Nico made his way to the bathroom and he locked the door behind him after closing it. Percy sighed, feeling useless once again. With all Nico had done for him, and he couldn't even help the son of Hades get through the after effects of a nightmare...

Percy sat back at the desk and tried to organize all the papers he had scribbled Apollos chaotic notes, plans, and ideas on. He was still pretty confused about what everything meant so trying to put an order to it all was a bit of a challenge. He looked at one pile and the first word that caught his eye was 'gun'. Almost as if his body knew what he just read, the spot where he had been shot began to ache and he grabbed onto his back as the pain made his head swirl. He clamped his eyes closed until the feeling subsided and he was able to focus again.

Nico had come out of the bathroom after splashing cold water on his face and using the toilet, not feeling quite perfect yet but knowing everything would sort itself out in a short while. The first thing he noticed was Percy. The son of Poseidon was ruffling things on the desk and he looked somewhat pathetic. Nico scoffed lightly but recalled how his first hit hadn't been much different.

Nico stood beside where Percy was sitting and began to look over his notes: everything seemed decently put together, if poorly organized. That was easy enough to fix, though, and Nico rearranged a few papers and specified a couple of notes before he caught Percys eyes glued to him. He tried to ignore it at first but, in all honesty, it was kind of creepy.

Nico didn't want to freak out at Percy but he was a little wired at that moment and the freak out just kind of came.

"Look, Percy, we have more important things to think about than the fact that I kissed you. Stop acting so weird. I've gotten what I want from you for now. So focus."

Percy was taken aback right away with Nicos words. ...'Gotten what he wants from me... for now... What??' And, that wasn't even what Percy was thinking about in the first place.

Nico had known that Percy wasn't staring at him because of the lip lock the previous day, but it beat having to admit to himself why he really was. He had never liked feeling weak and nightmares made him feel so fragile. And to have one in front of Percy was like a slap right to what remained of his ego.

The kiss seriously hadn't even been on Percys mind... But, considering the look on Nicos face when he had just woken up from the dream, Percy found it better to let the son of Hades believe what he wanted. Although it seemed quite apparent that really wasn't what Nico believed, either.

The day had worn away with the phone call and there wasn't really much of it left. The sun was still perked happily above the world but Percy was getting tired from everything he had done while it still sat in the sky. Despite being tired, his mind felt like it was running a million miles a minute and all he wanted to do was calm it so he could sleep the whole night through. He thought about taking a shower but that seemed like it would go by too quickly. He looked at Nico with pleading eyes but didn't speak a word.

"What?" Nico wasn't sure how long Percy had been staring at him with those stupid puppy eyes but he was sure that he would give the son of Poseidon whatever he would ask for because of them. Damn this guy was really driving him crazy.

"Can we go to the pool?"

Nico sighed. He wasn't in the mood to do much of anything, especially leave the room so Percy could splash around in the pool and potentially drown himself like he did the last time. But... those eyes. They were a killer. He had never seen Percy implement them before and he was kind of happy about that.

"Fine."

Percy excitedly jumped from his chair and grabbed his trunks from his bag before running to the bathroom. Everything seemed to fade from Nicos mind when he saw how excited Percy would get over something as simple as a pool. It made him think that there could still be good in the world. That there could still be innocence. He found a smile try to creep onto his lips, but fail.

 

The pool had calmed Percy more than he had hoped and he had no problem sleeping the night away after the day of talk he had had. Nico, on the other hand, felt even more stressed. The silence he had been left with in the pool room as Percy sat on the bottom and just thought was almost as bad as being in Tartarus. He was left to his thoughts and his thoughts were torturing him. His nightmare played over and over again in his head and didn't stop. It got worse when he decided to try to sleep.

Percy was quick to slip into a slumber after swimming for a few hours, but Nicos thoughts were still going pretty mad. He had less than a week. Less than a week and the guy he had searched for for three years would be out looking for his oldest friend. Looking for him to kill him. It wasn't exactly Nicos idea on a great thought to end a day on...

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