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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6. Five

Percy finally woke up about a half hour after Nico had gotten off the phone and he stood from the tub, regretting letting himself fall asleep in it the night before. Every one of his joints cracked and his neck hurt from the awkward way it had been positioned. His back was knotted and he ached like a rheumatoid ridden old man. He managed to move enough to use the toilet and then just stood in front of the door, staring at it. A small part of him was waiting for something outrageous to happen, like for the door itself to come to life, proving he really was in a huge dream. That never happened, though. Once Percy felt as satisfied as he could be that everything was real, he heaved a sigh, huffing out the tension he had kept built up since the night before. The son of Poseidon paced to the sink and splashed a handful of cold water on his face. From there, he moved back to the door and stood in front of it for a good ten minutes before he made the courageous decision to leave the little room and enter the one Nico was in. Then it took him another fifteen to actually do it. A part of him wondered if Nico would even be there. A smaller part wished he wouldn't but he hadn't been that... lucky?... But it depended on the way you looked at it. When Percy left the bathroom, he found Nico laying on the bed scrolling through his phone. He never lifted his eyes from the electronic device or even acknowledged someone else was in the room. Percy headed toward the bed he wished he had slept in the night before and sat down on it, feeling his tense bones and muscles relax a little. As if on cue, Nico stood from his own bed and meandered into the bathroom. Percy sighed out of slight agitation at the fact that Nico hadn't apologized or said anything to him at all, for that matter. Once Percy heard the water running, he slipped his sneakers on, grabbed the room key from Nicos hoodie pocket, and opened the door into the hallway. It was the first time, since being in the hotel, that Percy would be walking around alone and he found himself smiling. He hadn't realized it before but he felt like he was kind of being held captive, despite the fact that Nico did let him go to the pool everyday. But this was the first thing he had done alone. He felt free, but had no urge to run away or even attempt such. The son of Poseidon took a wiff of the hotel air and the scent of cleaning products, the air fresheners, and clean towels and blankets filled his nose. Each smell was different but they were all pleasant and made Percy's smile widen just a little; it had been a long time since he had smelled something so fresh and clean. Still smelling the air around him, he made his way to the elevator with a giant smile on his face and headed toward the lobby. His body still ached from sleeping in the tub but the pain was momentarily forgotten when he set eyes on the biggest breakfast buffet he had ever seen. Something inside of him welled up and he felt like a kid in a candy store. Percy hummed quietly to himself as he gathered together as much food as he could carry onto two plates and smiled yet again, pleased with the breakfast he had constructed from the buffet. He made his way back to the elevator and, with some difficulty, pressed the buttons to carry him to his floor. He managed, somehow, to get the room unlocked and entered with the two plates of breakfast. Nico was still in the bathroom but the water was no longer running, which meant Percy had succeeded in getting breakfast and returning before Nico even knew he was gone. He felt accomplished. Percy put Nicos plate on his bed and plopped down on his own before snatching the remote off the night table and turning it on morning cartoons. He found a show called Dinosaur Train, which he had never heard of before, and burried the remote in his blankets before digging into his waffles. Nico came out a few minutes later and didn't know what to be more shocked by, the cartoons or the breakfast. He chose the breakfast because it meant that Percy had left the room without his permission, accompaniment, or even his knowlegde. He looked back and forth between the plate of food on his bed and the boy intently watching cartoons on the other. "What's this?" Percy wiggled a little as he spoke. "Dinosaur Train." Nico opened his eyes wide, surprised by Percy's excitement over a cartoon and his energy so early in the morning. "I don't mean the cartoon, I mean that." Nico pointed to the plate of food. Percy looked over at it. "Breakfast." And with that he looked back to the t.v. The son of Hades was trying to be mad at Percy. "You left the room?" Percy nodded, somewhat cutely Nico had to admit, and Nicos phone went off. He walked to the dresser and answered it, although he never took his eyes from Percy. "Hello?" Percy laughed at something he found amusing on the t.v. "Yes, I know my friend left the room." Percy could hear Nico but he wasn't paying too much attention to him and didn't care that he was being talked about at the moment. He was enjoying his breakfast and cartoon. Nico spoke again. "No, he did not have my permission." Percy let out another laugh. "Yes," Nico said though gritted teeth, "I am angry and will deal with it accordingly." The son of Hades hung up and tossed the phone back onto the dresser with a curse. He looked back to Percy and wondered what to say. Percy giggled yet again and wrapped his lips around the fork that held a bite of waffles. Nico was entranced by the way Percys mouth moved and he stared at the older boy as if he had never seen anyone eat before. Of course, he had. But they never looked as good as Percy did in that moment. He shook his head, but not before momentarily forgetting why he was angry. When he remembered again, he opened his mouth and voiced it. He fought to keep himself calm when he spoke. "Why did you leave the room?" "I wanted to get breakfast." Percy figured it was pretty obvious and didn't think it was a big deal. Nico was close to losing the fight with his conscience... "You couldn't wait?" Percy shook his head but never took in his eyes from the t.v. He laughed again. For some reason, the noise made Nico have to force himself to be angry, instead of the other way around. After all, it had been three years since he had heard Percy laugh and he didn't realize he had missed the sound of it until that moment. Nico walked closer to Percys bed with a sigh of annoyance with himself and snatched the remote from the blankets, clicking the t.v. off. Percy tried to reach for it but Nico held it just out of the olders arms length. Percy let go of a whine of displeasure and Nicos mouth hung open a little in shock. Percy had never whined about anything before, especially trivial things like this. "Percy-" "What'd you turn it off for?" Percy was literally whining, like a child. All of the questions he had been asking made Nico feel like he was babysitting already, but Percys pouting made it worse. Much worse. "Why'd you leave the room?" Nico was still trying to stay calm but he was really, really angry. Especially since Percy was acting so childish about the whole thing. "I wanted to get breakfast." He was still pouting. Nico groweled and forced his voice not to raise. "You already told me that but why couldn't you have waited until I was out of the shower?" Percy sulked a little. "I didn't think you would have let me go." Nico shook his head a little. "Not alone." Percy stuck his bottom lip out. "And you wouldn't have wanted to go!" He sulked again and looked back at the blank t.v. The son of Hades huffed in annoyance as he dropped his face into his palm. Percy had been right when he said Nico wouldn't have wanted to go with him, but that didn't mean Percys words couldn't rub the younger the wrong way. Nico didn't want anything to eat and, even if he did, he would eaten the cold leftovers from the night before. That fact just made him more angry. But, this was Percy. If the son of Poseidon would have asked, the answer would not have been no. Nico would have done anything for the older three years ago and nothing had changed. He would move freaking mountains if Percy had asked him to. The anger he had been trying so hard to hide showed through. "You still could have asked!" Percy recoiled a little. He had gotten used to Nicos aggression but that didn't mean he was comfortable with it. "Are you mad at me?" "Yes, Percy, I am mad at you!" Nico hadn't noticed but Percy jumped a little at his voice. "You can't just go and do things like that. What part of 'there are people out there that want you dead' do you not understand? It was stupid leaving the room alone!" Percy was silent for a short moment before he spoke very quietly. "I'm sorry. I did it because I felt bad about yesterday." Nico calmed enough to think to himself about what happened yesterday that Percy could have felt bad for. ...Duh. The argument they had. But, it hadn't only been Percys fault. As much as Nico had tried to convince himself that he himself hadn't done anything wrong, he realized both of them were at fault. Nico didn't say anything. Percy seemed a little shy, but not quite as immature as he had been, when he spoke to Nico once again. "Are you still mad about yesterday?" Nico smiled sarcastically. "Not anymore. I'm more angry that you would be foolish enough to leave the room by yourself." Percy hung his head a little. "I'm sorry." Again, the son of Poseidon spoke shyly, but, this time, he seemed slightly defensive, however, not overly so. Nico nodded his head once. 'Of course you are' he thought to himself. It took him a minute or so to cool off, time in which the son of Poseidon sat silently and stared at him, but he managed. The only reason he was able to was because Percy was back in the room, totally safe. He was still angry, yes, but his anger had subsided a tiny bit. Enough for him to sit on the bed and look at the creation that Percy had given him for breakfast. Waffles, eggs, and bacon. It looked really good, even to the son of Hades, so the younger half forced himself to at least attempt to eat. Percy let his mouth fade into a huge grin and Nico shook his head at how quickly the son of Poseidons behavior could change. The two ate breakfast in silence because Nico still had the remote and wouldn't turn the cartoons back on no matter how much Percy begged, and Percy didn't beg for long. Nico really couldn't figure what was going on with the son of Poseidon. He was acting so different. But, maybe he wasn't. Maybe what Nico had seen on the Argo II was a facade and this was the real Percy. But, if that was the truth, why did the older seem to change bit by bit with each day that passed? Whatever it was that was going on had Nico very confused about the son of Poseidon. Breakfast was over with quickly and once they finished eating, and Percy showered and changed, they were left with literally nothing to do. Nico had been contemplating all morning whether or not he should tell Percy anything about anything that was going on. He figured he should at least tell that their two 'hunters' were probably in LA at that very moment and figured, with Percys never ending abundance of questions, that everything else would fall out somehow anyway. The younger also wondered if he should tell Percy about the job he had pulled recently, just in case it came out in another way and scared, or even just surprised, the older. There was a lot that Percy didn't know and the son of Hades knew it would be no easy feat telling him everything. Nico started by telling Percy what he had found out about the Manticore and Typhon. Percy didn't seem phased by it but Nico just figured it was because he didn't quite understand the severity of the situation. He even tried to tell Percy why they were dangerous to him but Percy couldn't figure out why in the world two guys he had never met in his life would want to kill him. But then Nico came to the part that still had him wondering. He told Percy that his contact had said there was something else but just wouldn't tell him, so Percy was going to have to keep his eyes open and stay alert for anything suspicious. Percy felt the need to question that. "How am I suppose to know if something is suspicious, though?" The sound in Percys voice made Nico feel like his heart dropped. It wasn't fear, exactly, but there was something about it that did seem afraid. "I don't know anything about this stuff." Nico nodded in understanding. "And that's exactly why you need to stick with me and not go wandering off like you did this morning." Percy hung his head, feeling kind of defeated. Nico continued with everything. As carefully as he possibly could, he explained about the road trip they would be taking to San Francisco within the next couple days. He didn't come right out and say exactly why, he just said he had some business to attend to. Percy was still confused and tried to question it but Nico hushed him and told him to not ask. Going through and telling Percy everything had actually tired Nico out so he lay on the bed and closed his eyes. Percy was left in silence for his thoughts to start wandering. And that's just what they did. Percy thought through everything Nico had told him and wondered exactly what this 'business' was that needed Nicos attending to. He hoped it wouldn't be dangerous but given Nicos 'profession' he figured it would be. Nico had told Percy that he had been killing people for money up until the point that he had found out Percy was in the Lotus. He also recalled Nico telling him, at some point, that he was a 'private contractor', meaning he didn't work directly for anyone in particular. Maybe that's why they were going. Was Nico going to kill someone? Was he hired by some random guy on the streets to get rid of someone he had a problem with? Was that why they had to go to San Francisco? Whatever it was, Percy was sure he did NOT want a part in it. Percy let his thoughts carry him a little deeper so he had no idea what was going on in the room around him. He didn't know how much time had passed and he actually kind of forgot he wasn't alone. So, when Nico spoke up, he jumped and almost fell off the side of the bed. Nico laughed a little and Percy made another face that the younger seriously had to wonder about. "You alright over there?" "You scared me." Percys cute face and voice were back. "I see that." He laughed again, not caring much about the olders behavior. Percy pouted. "It's not funny." Nico shrugged and sat up. He wiped his face. "Are you gonna answer my question?" "...What question?" Nico coughed a chuckle. "The one I asked before you fell off the bed." "Oh... um... I..." Nico shook his head. "You don't even know what I asked, do you?" Percy shook his head shyly and Nico laughed yet again. "I asked if you wanted some lunch." Percy cocked his head and looked at the clock. It was already after one... He had been wrapped up in his thoughts for hours. He wasn't hungry until he realized that. "Oh, um, sure." "Alright. We'll both go this time, okay?" Nico figured that would be better than leaving Percy on his own, aywhere. The son of Hades tried to make himself sound angry but his voice seemed to not understand that and it came out more as caring and even a little compassionate instead of agitated. Percy smiled again and his cheeks turned a little darker, for what reason, though, he had no clue. "Hang on!" The son of Poseidon jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom, locking the door behind him. The first thing he did was look in the mirror and found himself hating what he saw again. His cheeks were bright red and he didn't know why. He splashed a little water onto them before actually going to the bathroom and heading back out into the roon. Nico already had his sneakers on and was ready to go so Percy did the same as quickly as he could. The lobby wasn't very full but there was a lunch buffet waiting for anyone who might want it. They served themselves up a lunch and headed back to the room to eat it. Percy ate the entire meal with a smile on his face that Nico seriously felt like he couldn't get enough of, and Nico hated that fact. He tried to make it inconspicuous that he was watching Percy eat. He failed, miserably, because once he looked at Percy, he couldn't stop. If Percy hadn't been so focused on his lunch, he would have noticed. The older boys skin looked like it had been kissed by the sun and a part of Nico wanted to reach out and touch it. He mentally slapped himself for the thought and went back to his own lunch. After a short minute, though, his eyes found their way back to Percy. There was one time, on the Argo II, that Nico had been talking to Percy and had missed every word he said because he was too caught up in looking at Percys lips. His eyes trailed from the soft looking skin of Percys cheek to his lips that were wrapping themselves around his fork. How the hell could someone look so freaking good while they were eating? Damn! The son of Hades had to reassure himself that he wasn't swooning over the older male. The two finished their lunch and Nico told Percy to stay in the room while he went and took the plates back to the lounge. He hadn't originally planned on it but he couldn't sit in the same room with the older boy for much longer. He wasn't angry any more but Percy was driving him crazy in a different way. Nico had thought Percy's attitude could change quickly and, here he was, angry one minute and not being able to clear his thoughts of the older another. He felt rather pathetic. Nico wandered around for a few minutes to clear his mind of Percy and headed back to the room. And, of course, Percy was doing something ELSE Nico wished he hadn't seen. He was laying on his stomach on the bed with his feet in the air watching the t.v. again. He kicked his feet back and forth as he flipped through the channels until he found one he wanted to watch. Nico didn't pay the least bit of attention to what it was on the t.v. because he was too busy focusing his eyes on the bare spot on Percys back that had showed itself when his shirt slid up a little. Like the skin on his cheek, Percys back looked almost touchable. Nico had slapped himself in his mind before but now, it was almost as if he had wrapped his own hands around his neck to commit mental suicide at the fact that he had though that. He cringed a little and laid back down on his bed. Percy kept the cartoon he was watching on and continued to laugh every couple minutes at the things he found funny. Percys laugh was something Nico felt he could get used to, even though he knew he shouldn't have been thinking that, but the cartoon voices were not. Nico let it go for a few more minutes until he couldn't help but cringe at the sound of giggling girls. He sat up quickly and turned toward Percy, startling him a little. "Why don't you change and I'll take you to the pool." Nico wasn't sure where the thought had come from but he was sure the pool would be a hell of a lot better than the cartoon voices. Percy smiled widely and jumped from his bed before grabbing his trunks and running to the bathroom. Nico clicked the t.v. off right away and sat in the silence he missed so much. He had gotten used to it and, ever since he had gotten Percy from the Lotus, it had been almost non-existent. Percy was quick to change and he practically skipped out of the room and down the hall to the elevator and then he ran to the pool. Nico was relieved when no one else was there and he plopped himself down in one of the plastic lawn chairs. Percy wasted no time in stripping himself of his t-shirt and tossed it on the chair next to Nico. Of course, the younger watched every second that Percy rid himself of the fabric. He had figured he was hooked on Percy three years ago but this... this was like being reeled in by a pro angler. ...Did he really just make a fishing refrence? Damn son of Poseidon. But, he still wouldn't admit to swooning. Percy swam for a while before sinking down to the bottom of the pool where he would always sit. Nico tried to ignore him by playing with his fingers and even running through some old messages on his phone. But, eventually, he unknowingly turned his eyes back to Percy. Within the next few minutes, Percy resurfaced and swam to the edge of the pool where he climbed out and went to stand by Nico. He picked up his towel and dried himself off enough to slip his shirt back on. When the fabric made it over his eyes, he saw that Nico was looking at him. The son of Hades managed to cover his own ass by asking if Percy was ready to go, rather impatiently. Percy nodded, feeling like he was annoying Nico again, and the two left the room. On the way back to the elevator, Percy got the urge to apologize for yet another thing. "I'm sorry I've been asking you so many questions. I know you probably don't want to answer them all, its just..." Nico nodded, knowing what Percy meant. Usually, in a situation like this, Nico would have stayed quiet. But, his lips began to move and words just kind of flowed out. "Don't worry about it... I know how difficult it is. And I also know that it's harder when you have no one to answer your questions." Percy nodded, relieved Nico had even accepted the apology. "Just don't go thinking that you can ask questions all day long now, got it?" Percy was quick to nod again. When they got back to the room, Percy changed again and asked Nico if he could turn the t.v. back on. "Are you gonna watch cartoons again?" Percy felt... shy for some reason and he could hear such in his own voice. "Probably." "Then no." Nico took a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. "Why not?" Percy whined. Percy was pouting again and Nico was getting agitated. He was having a really hard time figuring Percy out. He seemed... weird and Nico didn't have a single explanation as to why. "I hate cartoons." "Why?" Gods, Nico was begining to hate that word... "I just do!" He hadn't meant to shout. But that didn't mean he regretted it. The way Percy had been acting over the last few days was more annoying than anything he had ever said or did on the Argo and Nico couldn't hold back his constant and growing annoyance. At times, Percy would seem to be normal, like the old Percy. But, that would always fade quickly and he would have moments that made Nico feel like he was babysitting. The son of Hades laid his head on his pillow and expected silence. But, he should know, that things rarely ever go as expected. "I don't wanna just sit and do nothing." "Then what do you wanna do, Percy?" Nico was clearly still annoyed. Percy hesitated, thinking he shouldn't say anything. But, Nicos face told he was expecting a response. "Can we just... talk?" The son of Hades was a little awestruck. He and Percy had never 'just talked' at Camp or on the Argo so Nico was wondering where the idea had come from. He sat up and looked at Percy. The son of Poseidon was clearly wondering if he had said something he shouldn't have said and he instantly starting shaking his head and apologizing for even speaking the idea. "Stop apologizing for everything all the time. It's more annoying than all your questions." Nico snapped. Percy thought for a second about apologizing for it but decided that probably wasn't the best of ideas. He hung his head a little, feeling pretty stupid. Nico was silent for a few seconds, contemplating the older boys idea. It didn't sound too awful bad. Maybe he could learn a little more about Percy and figure out why the hell he had been acting so differently than he had three years prior. "Ok, Percy. Let's 'just talk'. But, I get to ask the questions." Nico clearly had some sort of plan forming in his mind. "There's alot I wanna know." Percy froze a little. He hadn't expected Nico to go for the idea and now that it had kinda turned around so that he was the one being questioned, he was a little nervous. Percy got shy again. "What do on you wanna know?" Nico sighed. "Well, for starters, why you left the Argo II." Percy stiffened. He wished now more than he had before that the idea had stayed an idea instead of becoming words. How was he supposed to tell Nico that? He couldn't just come right out and say it. "Um... it's complicated." "Well uncomplicate it." Nico tried to keep his cool. "I've been answering all your questions, return the favor." Percy thought for a second on how he could word it. "After... after you said what you said, everyone started treating me... different. I didn't like it." Percy was pouting once again. "I felt so awkward and I couldn't handle it." Nico recoiled and let the words sink in. He felt kind of offended when he came to the conclusion that Percy was blaming it on him. Wait, seriously? Percy was blaming him? Nico forced himself to contain his rising anger and calm himself enough to ask another question. "Why the Lotus?" Percy shrugged. "I guess it was because it was the only place I figured I could get away and forget about everything." The son of Poseidons words seemed deep. Nico squinted his eyes in thought. "It messed you up that bad?" The older shrugged again. Nico scoffed. "Were you that big of a mess when you found out Annabeth liked you?" Percy froze. Nico must have thought that him liking Percy is why he left. "That's not why I left." He shook his head. "I left because Annabeth, Jason, and Piper started to gang up on me." He hadn't remembered before but now that he was talking about it, the whole thing flooded back. "They were making comments and THEY made me feel so uncomfortable." So... it wasn't Nico after all... They were both silent for a half a minute before Nico spoke up again. "Did you leave a note or anything?" Percy shook his head, again having the past flood in. "I just left. I didn't even pack up any clothes. I knew I was headed for the Lotus so, I figured, I didn't need anything." It was a logical thought, in a way. When you go somewhere that time slows, you feel no need to bring anything but your body. Nico could seriously relate. He just couldn't figure why anyone would willingly go into the Lotus when they know what's going to happen. He never asked, though. The fact that Percy had gone in in the first place made Nico think he was crazy as it was. Nico wished he could change the subject, but he was a terrible conversationalist. He looked at the other boy as he uncomfortably shifted a little on the bed from the silence that had followed his last statement. Nico sighed. "You can watch the t.v. if you want." Percy lit up and Nico had to, once again, question the son of Poseidons awkward behavior. He clicked the t.v. on and Nico buried his ear buds into his ears to drown out whatever sound would come from the t.v. Hours passed on and Nico couldn't help but think of what he was going to have to do within the next few days. It drove him crazy that he agreed to something that could potentially get him killed for a gun. He shook his head at his own stupidity, figuring it could, ultimately, be chalked up to such. He looked over at Percy and saw that the older was still engrossed in his cartoons. The son of Hades cringed a little. Nico got up from the bed and grabbed a notebook from his backpack before sitting down at the desk and flipping through a few pages. He snatched the pen off the desk and began to scribble some things down. Mostly, he was trying to figure the distance between LA and San Francisco so he would know how long the drive was. Once he figured it, he began to think through the ways he could try to get the job done. There were the obvious ways: shooting, stabbing, poisoning, things like that. Then he wondered if there was any information he was supposed to get from the guy before he turned his lights out. He hadn't been asked for such so maybe there wasn't. Then he wondered where they would go after. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get out of California all together, but where could he go that people wouldn't be hunting him down after he carried out this hit? What if he couldn't even carry it out? What if the guy killed him? Nico felt like he had just thrown himself into a mess. He thought about everything for a good hour or so until his thoughts wandered to something he had kind of been neglecting the whole time: Percy. From what he had seen of Percy over the last week, he didn't think the son of Poseidon would be too excited about everything. He knew there was no way in hell Percy would want to help and he was kind of relieved at the thought. He didn't like the fact that Percy was going to have to be involved at all, so there was no way he would have been okay with him helping. But a new face and a clean set of hands could come in handy... Agitation grew inside of Nico once again and he slammed his fists down hard on the table. The sound jolted Percy from the t.v. and he turned quickly to look at Nico. The face he had worn every day was one of annoyance and Percy was begining to get used to it. But his face now, it was pure anger. Percy didn't figure that asking Nico what was going on would end badly, but he should have. He waited a few seconds for Nico to lift his fists off the table before he opened his mouth to speak. "Nico? Are you okay?" Nico turned in the chair quickly to face Percy and couldn't help but to get even more angry than he was before. He ripped his ear buds from his ears harshly and stared blankly at Percy. The older boy was really starting to get on his nerves. "What the fuck do you think?" Percy jolted at the words. "Gods I am getting so sick and tired of you asking so many fucking questions. It's driving me insane. My life was so much simpler without you around!" Percy froze. Was Nico just angry about something or did he really mean it? Or was it both and Percy was what he was annoyed about? "I'm so-" "I swear to all the gods," Nico cut Percy off, "if you apologize for one more thing I WILL take you back to the Lotus and leave you there. I said it before and I meant it and still do!" Percy didn't know what to say. Nico had just lost it, big time, and it honestly scared him. Nico had always been impatient, angry, and really bad at dealing with people. But, what Percy was seeing now took what he knew of the boy to a whole new level. He was starting to remember why he had found Nico kind of scary before. Nico shook his head and went to turn back to his work on the desk but he stopped himself and looked back at Percy. "Why the hell are you asking so many questions, anyway? Why do you seem like you're freaking out about everything?" Percy was still kind of tense from before and was finding it hard to think. He had heard Nicos question but the idea that he should answer never dawned on him. "Hey!" Nico was shouting now. "I asked you a fucking question! Answer it!" Percy winced but managed to respond. "It's because I'm scared." A silence filtered through the room. The son of Hades felt like he was at a loss for words. He knew that Percy wasn't one to admit to being scared so this was something totally new. The older spoke again. "I don't know what's going on in the world." Percy tried desperately to keep his voice steady but it trembled from fear and tension. He shook his head and spoke on. "I missed out on three years and no matter how much I'm told, I will still feel lost. The fact that you're dragging me all over the place as we're being hunted down by guys that want us dead doesn't help much, either." He tossed his hands up a little in a motion of stress, or maybe it was defeat... "Then there's the fact that people actually want me dead that scares me more than anything. Before, I got used to fighting all those creatures and everything and that didn't bother me, but now that there are people out there, real people, who are hunting me down, I'm scared to death." Percy was shaking his head again. "Putting all those things together makes me want to rip my hair out or crawl into a tight space and cry." He was half shouting now. "The world has changed so much. It seems to have gotten so much more complicated and it seems like I just got dropped into the most complicated part of it all. And it scares the crap out of me." Nico was awestruck. Percy looked like he wasn't really sure what he had just said. He stood from his bed and almost ran into the bathroom. Nico just sat for a few minutes, staring at the bathroom door that Percy had just entered. He was a little more confused than he was before. Nico tried to relax the tension that had built during Percys outburst so he could get back to work. He was able to for a few hours, too, with only a couple interruptions from his other thoughts. He kind of expected Percy to only spend a short time in the bathroom but when, after a hour, he didn't come back out, Nico figured he planned on sleeping in there again. A small part of the son of Hades thought to go to Percy and drag him out of the bathroom to talk to him but, what would he say? Nico shook his head, wondering why he even really cared if Percy was confused. He had so many other things to focus on that Percy had to take a back seat to all of them. The son of Poseidon sat curled up in the tub again. He was even confused about the words he had spoken earlier. He was feeling so beaten down and exposed to the dangers of the world around him, even if he was curled into a bathtub. He had never before felt like he needed to be protected more than he did at that moment, not even when his step father would beat on him. That feeling was a new one and it was driving him crazy. He forced himself to fight the urge to scream out in anger and confusion. It only took a few minutes, though, for the urge to push through into another. Tears. Percy didn't fight those because, well, he really couldn't. One fell and they just wouldn't stop. Nico sat in the room and tried to keep working. His thoughts still wandered, though. He couldn't help but notice that Percy had become a burden; and now he knew it. He hadn't figured that would happen. But, he didn't really know what would happen. The one thing he kept thinking of was that Percy was no longer the guy he had met at Camp Half Blood. He wasn't the same guy he knew from the Argo II. He wasn't the same guy Nico had found attractive all that time ago. He wasn't the same guy he had fallen, hard, for four years ago. He wasn't the same guy he had admitted to liking three years ago. Ever since the very first time Nico had set eyes on Percy, he had liked what he saw. He liked Percy for everything about him. And now, he seemed so different. He wasn't the same Percy anymore. Nico wasn't even sure how he felt about Percy now. He had changed so much.
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