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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20. Nineteen

The whole restaurant, small and nearly empty, instantly turned tense and the air grew heavy. The five patrons, cousins and siblings, two seated and three by the door, tightly held each others stares although they looked back and forth from face to face. From Nico to Percy. From Hazel to Frank to Leo.

Nico, first, took in his half-sisters features: changed almost as much as his own had. And Frank and Leo were no different. All three looked older and the two boys were more bulked and muscular: it was somewhat intimidating. Frank could have stayed the same size and been able to make even the hardest criminal take a second to collect himself and it was clear to see that he had added more muscle to his physique. Nico was tense just looking at the body size of the son of Ares. Leo, too, had bulked and no longer looked scrawny and incapable of holding his own. Even Hazel looked to have seen her fair share of 'muscle building activities' and Nico had the feeling they were all figts of some kind or another. But, it had been three years She was bound to have been up to something. As were Frank and Leo.

Out of the corner of his eye, and through the deafening silence that had fallen, Nico took a peek at the son of Poseidon. He looked just as shocked as the younger demigod felt. Nico averted his eyes a slight bit to the waitresses and bus boys standing by and watching the curious happening in the dining room. He quickly shifted them back to Hazel and saw that she was eyeing Percy, intensely and curiously.

The daughter of Pluto was seemingly amazed at what she saw, since she looked over the son of Poseidons features intensely. It was no doubt a shock to her that Percy hadn't changed at all from the last time she had seen him, as the rest of the demigods had, and she wondering why. The possibilities flooded her mind and she thought of the Lotus, knowing full well that many demigods knew of it and a few had run away there in the past.

Hazel looked beside her to her companions, Frank and Leo, before slowly approaching the table the other two males were sitting at. Nico stood from his seat and took a few steps back, grabbing onto Percy's arm and pulling him from his chair and reaching around his back to pull his gun out. He held it by his side, where anyone who was paying attention would have seen it, and hid Percy behind him the best he could.

The son of Hades' pointer finger toyed with the trigger of the fire arm as he thought of what this all may be. The three people in the doorway resembled people from his past; his half-sister, her boyfriend, and the son of Hephaestsus; but Nico knew how easily someone could look like someone else with surgery and make up.

The one who looked like Hazel took another step toward Nico and Percy and the son of Hades pulled the cock back on his hand gun, stood his ground, and gripped his other hand into the son of Poseidons wrist tightly. He gazed at the others in the restaurant and saw that 'Leo' was seemingly trying to make him feel intimidated, but Nico wasn't about to let that happen. He was no push over nor was he a wimp, he stood his ground and was the one who looked intimidating and strong despite what the other male was attempting.

Percy watched as everything unraveled in just a few seconds and seriously couldn't understand why Nico would be acting lie this, so cold and fierce, toward his own sister. "Nico-"

"Shh."

After Percy spoke, the unmistakable tension grew heavier. The waitresses and bus boys had already fled to the back room, not knowing what was going on and not really caring to, and that just made the whole situation more uncomfortable. Still, Percy joined Nico in looking back toward the other three people in the doorway and came to notice they had weapons of their own.

Hazel, or the girl who looked like Hazel, held the biggest hand gun Percy had ever seen. He could have sworn it was the kind of weapon that should have been illegal. 'Frank' was turning a large, serrated hunting blade over and over in his fingers and Percy was sure he had something more hidden in the pockets of his cargo pants. And 'Leo' held something in his hand that he had pulled from a backpack. It looked to be a large welding hammer or something like that. But, whatever it was, it was crude and didn't seem like much in a fight of guns but Nico and Percy both felt that 'Leo' could do some real damage with it.

Nico never took his eyes from the other three but he whispered lightly to Percy to ready Riptide. The son of Poseidon gave the younger demigod a questioning look out of the corner of his eye but slowly pulled the pen from his pocket and held it tightly. 'Hazel'caught the motion and stared intensely at the writing implement for a moment before whispering something to 'Leo'. The son of Hephestsus walked toward Nico and Percy as he put his hammer into the almost empty bag on his back; and, even then, the bag stayed looking empty. Nico noticed the oddity in it and he had to wonder even more what was going on. He remembered the son of Hephaestsus' tool belt and something inside his mind clicked, yet he still didn't want to consider the possibility. The possibility the three people in the restaurant were actually who they looked like. He gripped tighter onto the gun in his hand.

Tensions raised even more, not just in the son of Hades but the room as well, as Leo stepped closer. Percy, just as tense as Nico, took a step toward the approaching male. The son of Hades grabbed onto his arm tightly, trying to hold him back, but Percy was a demigod and there was no backing down at the moment. He felt threatened, and he felt like Nico was being threatened, too, and he would defend himself and the son of Hades to the death if he had to.

Leo's steps were careful and slow but consistent as he moved closer to the two demigods standing by the table. Percy only let 'Leo' take a few steps before he uncapped his pen and spun Riptide in his hand like he had done with the sword whenever he fought with it. Leo stayed on his course and continued to slowly approach the two boys, taking more steps that Percy had tried to stop with his blade. But he hadn't managed to get the approaching male to stop. He did make him tense, though, and he saw 'Leo' swallow hard, figuring the son of Hephaestsus look alike would try to speak and try to reason with the son of Poseidon.

And he did try. "P-"

Percy was just barely close enough to spin his sword around in his hand before he held the tip of it to Leo's throat, making the supposed son of Hephaestsus freeze and eye the sword tip, then the bearer. Frank, who was still standing beside the one who looked like Nicos half-sister, went to take a step toward the three but Hazel held him back. She wanted to see how things would turn out and didn't want the son of Ares getting involved too soon. He groweled, sounding like a bear, but did what his girlfriend wished.

Nico gritted his teeth at the older demigods actions. He knew there was no point in trying to get Percy to back off, though, despite how angry Percy was making him at the moment. He did, however, wish there was. He wasn't positive that the male that currently had Riptide held to his throat was actually Leo or not but, if it was, Nico didn't want him dead. Not yet anyway. He had a few things he wanted to know from the three people he hadn't seen in three years.

Leo swallowed, pushing his Adams Apple into the tip of the sword at his throat. He took a deep breath and wished that they had brought Piper and Jason with them when they left to look for Nico. He could have really used Pipers charm-speak at the moment.

Nico took a few steps forward himself and was sure to stop only when he was in front of Percy yet again. The son of Poseidon tried to push toward Leo a second time, since he had taken a small step back, but Nico held him a in place. Percy was growing kind of angry, to be honest. Nico was keeping him from doing what he knew, what felt right. His brain was hard wired to fight in situations like this and his body was having a hard time of keeping control.

The stare down between Nico and the male that looked like Leo was quite a long one. Nico was attempting to find reasons to believe the person, or people, weren't who they looked like. But, they all looked like the friends Nico knew three years before in almost every way.

The son of Hades calmed his tensed nerves as best he could before he spoke. "Who are you?" His voice was low and quiet and he dropped it an octave to keep it from sounding like his natural voice.

"Nico," The other male said just as quietly. "You know me. I'm Leo. Leo Valdez. Behind me, is Frank Zang, and your very own half-sister Hazel Lavesque."

Nico shook his head. Fear and anger welled up inside him. He fearfully wondered how would someone have learned about his sister and friends from his past life. They had never existed in this world and shouldn't now, but yet here they were. Or, supposedly. Nico couldn't believe these people were who they said they were. It wasn't possible.

The son of Hades had left three years before, without anyone knowing he was or where he was going. He had left nothing behind, other than the belongings he couldn't carry with him. But none of that would have given any indication as to where he was going. The places he had lived over the years were places under the radar. He never used his real name, and only used each single alias once. There were very few people who knew his real name and none who knew the names of his family and friends. The whole situation seemed pretty twisted.

Nico remained silent a few seconds longer. He was considering the possibility. The fact that just two months before he had asked Percy to believe the same thing he was currently being asked to believe came to the front of his mind. Percy had believed him, why couldn't he believe them? ...Because he wasn't   naive like Percy was.

As much as Nico didn't want to believe that his old friends were actually standing before him, he considered giving them the benefit of the doubt. But, not without at least a little bit of proof.

Nicos voice was still just as low and deep as before. "Prove it."

This surprised everyone, Percy included. He had expected a brawl or someone to just be killed without even a fight to begin with. But Nico giving the opportunity for the three to prove themselves who they were, or who they weren't, was a shock to all.

'Hazel' shook her head. "Not here. It's too open. Let's go somewhere where there aren't so many people."

Nico gritted his teeth. He wasn't fond of where this was heading. Leaving the slight safety of a public place was sketchy at best. He would be putting himself, and Percy, into a whole heap of danger. Pointless danger. He turned his head back slightly to look at the son of Poseidon and find out where he stood on the situation. Percy had fear written all over his face. Nico was going to have to teach him how to hide his emotions, or at least try. Percy noticed Nicos gaze and nodded his head, very lightly, only once. Nico turned back to look at the three before him.

"Half an hour. The Shamrock Irish Pub. If you're late, I kill you. If you're early, I kill you. If you don't show, I find you and kill you."

The only one who seemed to be bothered by that statement was Percy. Nico must have really been in the mood to kill someone, but killing your own half-sister seemed pretty demented.

The two didn't even bother to finish eating before they left, but Nico did toss a few dollars on the counter. The son of Hades pulled Percy by the wrist to his car but didn't turn the engine on right away. The first thing he did was slam his fists into the steering wheel.

Percy jumped. The son of Poseidon didn't speak right away but, when he did, he said "Why do you seem so angry? Shouldn't you be happy that Hazel's here?"

Nico snorted a small laugh and shook his head. Percy waited for an actual answer but an answer never came. He knew that if someone like Annabeth or Tyson or Grover had showed up, he wouldn't have been upset. He would have been happy to be reunited with them after three years. He couldn't understand why Nico would feel any different.

But Nico did feel differently than that. He felt like he was losing it. His head physically ached with overwhelming thought. It had been three years. There was no way this was possible. No one should have been able to find him like that. Even if it was his half-sister and two other demigods. But, it couldn't really be them.

Despite his overwhelming doubt, Nico took took a few things into consideration. His consideration led him to wonder a number of different things. But, mainly it was if, by small chance, those three people were who they said they were, how had they stayed alive as long as they had? He knew each of them had their own strengths but in this lifestyle, you have to be able to adjust quickly. He couldn't see that actually happening with Leo, Frank, or especially Hazel. Three years ago, they had seemed like such children. And Hazel couldn't even adjust to how couples acted in this day and age. Then there was Frank, always tense because his life line was tied to a piece of wood. He may have been a big guy, but he had been a big baby about that whole thing in Nicos opinion.

The son of Hades rested his head against the seat for a second and took a deep, tense breathe. There was no way this was really happening. There was no way any of them were actually there. They shouldn't have been in this world. They should still be in the demigod world. Where had they come from? How did they get there? Nico clenched his jaw and stopped thinking so much about why they had suddenly showed up and started wondering how they had found him. Right away, he pulled his phone from his pocket and called Apollo. If anyone could tell him about the three people he had just seen, it was the very man.

The son of Hades pulled from the parking lot and began to drive down the street. He wasn't really paying attention to the road or anything else around him for that matter. He simply listened to the dial tone of his phone. Apollo finally answered and asked Nico what he wanted with annoyance.

The son of Hades spoke softly and gently. "I need you to run a few background checks for me."

Nico had never been so tender while he was on the phone with Apollo and it made the man very curious to know what the son of Hades wanted to know. 'Names?'

Nico said that gently, as well, and he made sure to speak clearly. "Hazel Lavesque, Frank Zhang, and Leo Valdez."

No clicking could be heard and a silence filtered through the phone call. Apollo finally spoke. 'Those are real names, kid.'

Nico nodded, although he knew Apollo couldn't see him. "Yeah. Yeah they are."

Seeing as how they didn't have aliases, Nico knew things would be awkward for Apollo. And that very reason was the reason Apollo asked 'Who are they?'

"Don't worry about it. Just give me some information on them."

Apollo mumbled something under his breath as he began typing, search for Hazel first. He scofded in surprise that he was actually able to find something on them.

Apollo cleared his throat. 'Hazel Lavesque has no criminal record, no current address, no tax papers, no working papers.'

As irrelevant as that seemed, it was helpful. "She's a ghost?"

'No.' Nico could hear a bit more clicking. 'There's a hospital record.'

The son of Hades' heart stopped for the second time that day. He licked his lips. "Tell me."

Apollo spoke his next sentence with disgust in his voice. 'She was stabbed enough for it to be considered rape. I don't actually have a number here, though.'

Nico gagged and pulled the phone away from his ear. That was one of the most descusting things he had ever heard.

Percy saw the action and questioned it silently. Not hearing what the person on the other end of the phone had said let Percy's imagination go wild with curiosity, wondering what had elicited such a reaction.

Nico, needing a change in subject, said "What about Frank Zhang?"

'Yeah,' Apollo managed a chuckle 'he's a fire cracker.'

The only thought Nico had was 'Wait til you get to Leo...' "How so?"

'Unlike the girl, he has a record. One hell of one full of small crimes, actually. They've all been simple over nighters or weekend stays but he's just a kid.'

Nico grew curious. "What's he done?"

'Well,' Apollo chuckled. 'A lot of property damage. He broke a store window with a clothes rack. He punched a hole in the wall of a hospital. Fun fact... same hospital that Hazel girl was in after being stabbed. Small world. Anyway, he destroyed a park bench, cracked the bricking of a convenient store, and was found in a car with someone that was selling drugs. Frank was let off because there was proof he had no connection but the other got arrested.'

Nico scratched his forehead. "What's his name?"

'Well, HER name was Clarisse La Rue.'

Nico chuckled. Both Apollo and Percy found the action confusing.

'Do you know all these people?' Apollo asked in an enthusiastic confusion. 

"Don't worry about it. Tell me about Leo."

There was a slight pause. 'Leo Valdez...Well, ho-ly fu- what?!'

"What?" Nico instantly thought of the worst possible case for Apollos reaction.

'This kids crazy.'

Nico relaxed and smiled. He wasn't being told anything he didn't already know. "Talk."

'He was arrested for arson. Twice.' He scoffed in amusement. 'Both times he was able to call it an accident and get away with it. He ran into a house fire, on purpose, without reason and survived. Apparently, he's fond of Moltof cocktails and is a talented bomb maker. What's most shocking to me, though, is the fact that I actually have records on him that the police don't.'

That was something Nico hadn't seen coming. "For real?"

'For real. The kid really is an arsonist. He set an old warehouse on fire just to watch it burn. He has a thing for using welding materials and fire for tortue purposes, which apparently has happened a lot. He has made a number of bombs in the past, although his signiture hasn't been seen in almost a year.' He paused for a second. 'What the-'

Nico gripped into the steering wheel tightly. "What?"

Apollo took a second. 'Do you remember hearing about that murder where the four people were burned at the stake and were completely unrecognizable?'

Nico remembered quite well. The whole thing had happened a little under a year ago. "Don't tell me that was-"

'Him?' Apollo interrupted. 'Yes. It was.'

Nico cursed to himself lightly. He now knew he was bound to have problems with Leo in the future, assuming the 'Leo' he had run into earlier was actually Leo. He sighed heavily before speaking again.

"Tell me something. Are they legit?"

'Well,' Apollo did a little more typing 'they don't seem to have any connections or affiliations with anyone on the streets. My own personal databases have nothing on them in relation to gangs, and even crime besides that Leo guy. Everything I got was just off of police and hospital records. So, from what I can see, they're not gang bangers, or drug dealers, or hitters, or anything. They're just... there. But, they are real people. There names have popped up in a few rentals and such in the city.'

That wasn't entirely what Nico wanted to know. He wanted to know more. He wanted to know if they popped up at the right time and, more than that, if they called they hems elves a crew. If they had others working with them or if they hems elves hey had people fearing them. "Yes, but are they legit?"

Apollo sighed. 'I'm gonna say yes. The locations and time overlaps give me a little bit of an idea of who, and what, they are. I have a feeling that, if these people are working together like it seems they are, they could cause a few problems for their enemies. They seem to all have stuff they do. Bombs,  fire and torture, the dirty work, and, I'm guessing, the girl is the brains. That is if they are all in this together. They're small but well organized from what I'm seeing. The way things have been carried out are very similar so I would say they all have a mastermind behind them. My best guess, like I said before, is the girl. If that's the truth, she's good. She's smart, quick, and dirty.'

Nico nodded his head, knowing that quite well, and thanked Apollo before hanging up. He now knew that they were legitimate street people, or at least had been for a short time anyway. The names all matched up and, in all honesty, he could see everything being real, although he didn't want to think about his half-sister being 'raped' by repeated stabbing. She was beyond lucky to be alive, but she was a child of Hades.

The phone call had taken up most of the half hour between the time they left the restaurant and the time Nico told the others to meet him at the Shamrock Irish Pub so he got a move on it right away.

The son of Hades didn't speak at all after he hung up the phone and drove to the bar quickly. He parked in front of the small building that seemed more like an old saloon than a modern pub, but the food was good, the guys were friendly, and the beer was the least expensive, but best tasting, he had found at any bar. Not to mention the fact they never carded Nico. He kept an eye on the clock, which currently said he had five minutes until the half hour was over.

Percy, too, watched the boxy numbers very slowly change. He recalled Nicos 'promise' and knew Hazel, Frank, and Leo only had a sixty second window to arrive at the bar unless they wanted to lose their lives. The son of Hades' words from earlier in the day had seemed a little harsh to Percy but it was Nico after all, and Nico could be harsh. But it wasn't just that which made Percy fear for what might come within the next few minutes. It was the fact that he was almost perfectly sure Nico would follow through with it.

As the clock told them that they had only a single minute left, Nico looked over at Percy sitting in the passanger seat. He gave the son of Poseidon a small smile, another bright smile that made Percys breath catch, to reassure him everything would be fine. But even Nico himself knew that might not have been the case. The final number switched on the clock and a car pulled up next to their own within the first few seconds. Nico was surprised to actually see it there, and on time, too. Hazel climbed out of the car first, from the driver seat, followed by Leo from behind her and finally Frank from the passanger seat. Nico looked at Percy for a second.

"Stay in the car, okay?" That was all the son of Hades said before he opened his door, locked it (along with the other three) and closed it behind him. Percy hated the idea of sitting in the car with the doors locked while Nico 'conducted his business' outside. But there was no arguing.

Nico eyed the three with suspicion. He knew giving them a chance to convince him they were who they looked like was a bad idea but he had never been the brightest crayon in the box, and he still wasn't now. He looked Frank up and down first, then Leo, then Hazel. He spent a little more time focusing on his half-sister than the other two.

"You have thirty seconds. Prove you are who you say you are."

Leo spoke first. He brought up the pathetic card game, mytho-magic, that Nico had played for years and also told him that he recalled the son of Hades keeping one card, but he never said which one. Although he did eye the boy within the car in such a way that made Nico give him the look signature to a child of Hades. That look was paired with one that said the son of Hades was content with Leo's proof.

Hazel spoke next. She only said one thing, but it was one of Nicos deepest, darkest secrets. He had told Hazel in the heat of the moment and knew she wouldn't tell anyone else. But, it popped here in front of Frank and Leo, although neither of them seemed to really care. And, surprisingly, neither did Nico. But he knew no one in the entire world, except for his half-sister, would have known what she just spoke of about the son of Hades.

Frank went last. The thirty seconds the three had been given was long gone now, but Nico needed to know what they knew. He was on the fence whether he should believe them or not still and he had to know what the last person before him would say. He wondered if it would make him believe all three of them...

Frank smirked before he spoke. "You've wanted Percy ever since the first time you saw him. You came after him trying to get laid, not be a hero."

Percy couldn't hear a word of what was being said outside, nor could he see the son of Hades' reactions to them. But, when Frank started speaking, Hazel and Leo showed him every emotion Nico was feeling. He just needed to multiply it by ten to have it be what Nico really felt. The two had mixed expressions of fear, anger, shame and dread.

It was just a few seconds after Frank started speaking that Nico threw the first punch. Frank recoiled from it quickly and dove at the son of Hades. Hazel was shouting at her boyfriend to stop and Leo was attempting, but to no avail, to pull the two males apart. Nico had rolled the two over so he was over top of the larger male.

Percy was awestruck. Nico was aggressive, true, but the fist fight started so quickly between the two. Not to mention the change from Frank being the beater to the beaten.

Even though Nico had told him to stay in the car, Percy unlocked his door and bolted from the vehicle. He was shouting Nicos name as soon as his feet hit the pavement. The son of Hades didn't seem to hear him, though, and he threw another punch at Frank. The larger males head slammed into the ground below him and blood gushed from his nose right away. He looked pretty dazed from the hit and Nico pulled his fist back to hit him again.

Hazel stood by and watched, knowing it was a bad idea to get physically involved, and she held Leo back with her. Percy, on the other hand, jumped in and latched his fingers around Nicos forearm. Nico froze and looked behind him at the son of Poseidon. He pulled himself back when he saw the fear and anger spread across Percy's face. He had never wanted to see such expressions corrupting Percy's demeanor. He liked when Percy smiled and laughed.

Nico pulled himself off the larger male and straightened out his shirt and gave Percy an apologetic look. Frank pushed himself from the ground and fixed his own shirt before wiping the blood from his nose onto his sleve. Things were silent for a while, until Hazel spoke again.

"Well, now that we're all so well reacquainted, can we get the hell outta here? I don't like staying in the open."

Nico agreed and they decided to meet at a neutral location; a hotel that was nowhere near the two that the five demigods were currently calling home. They followed one another there and bought a suite: Hazel wanted to be sure there would enough room for another fight if one broke out. A suite allowed for that and even gave the hopes of nothing being broken in a  possible altercation.

Nico ushered Percy to sit on one of the beds and stood next to him. The five teenagers looked back and forth from one to the other. Things were still pretty tense, especially when Nico and Frank's eyes met. Nico looked angry beyond belief but Frank smirked. Percy saw the son of Hades clench his fists and 'accidentally' nudged him in the side to draw his attention from the much larger male in the room. It seemed to work and by the time Nico refocused on something other than Percy, Hazel was speaking again.

"Do you believe who we are yet?"

Nico took a second before looking at her and shaking his head. "No."

Percy feared Hazel would get angry, aggressive, and snappy but she stayed totally calm. "What would you like me to do to prove it?"

Nico thought for a while. There was really nothing they could do. He had already heard something from each of them that not many people knew, other than what he heard from Frank. That was kind of an obvious thing.

"Get creative."

Hazel sighed. Creative? How was she supposed to get creative? There were plenty of things she knew about her half-brother but would they be enough to convince him of who she was? She hadn't expected to actually find him so the idea of proving herself had never entered her mind. But, she had to think of something. The only thing she could really do was talk about their time at Camp Half Blood, and Nicos dead sister Bianca. Bringing that up struck a nerve but that was what needed to happen.

Hearing the name was bad enough as it was, but when Hazel told him exactly how his own flesh and blood had died, and why, he broke. His expression weakened but he never truly showed how he felt. Hazel kept talking. She brought up all of the feelings Nico had told her about after they met. She also brought up Nicos time in Tartarus, as well as how he seemed once he returned to the real world. She spoke of how often Nico slept and how little he ate. She spoke of his darkest days, when he had had a hard time figuring his feelings out. Nico was growing very angry at the fact that everything Hazel was telling him was true. And he had had enough.

"Stop."

Hazel raised her eyebrows. "Do you believe me yet?"

"I'm not really sure."

She nodded. She knew this couldn't have been easy for Nico to understand and accept but she really needed him to at the time. There were plenty of things she knew and had the feeling Nico didn't. She needed to tell him and she needed his help, too. But, most of all, she needed him to believe her.

"You're gonna need to make up your mind pretty quickly because there are some things you need to know, and I can't tell you until you believe who we are. Do you understand?"

Right away, Percy felt certain the girl before him was Hazel. Nico had asked the 'Do you understand' question so many times and both held the same tone when they said it. It was kind of creepy.

Nico nodded lightly.

"Good." She looked over the two boys by her side and the two sitting on two he edge of two hehe bed. "You're gonna hate this but we'll have to stick together for a while. This is gonna be our home for the forseeable future, so you and Percy have to go to your old hotel and gather whatever is still there." She handed him a key card and she herself left with Frank and Leo.

Nico looked over at Percy.

"Why do I feel like things are gonna be a little awkward for a while?" Percy questioned quietly.

"I don't wanna talk about it."

The two left the new hotel and traveled back to their own, not caring how much time it took. The entire trip was silent, since Nico was trapped in thought. They didn't have many belongings so gathering them together took very little time and they were back at the new location within the hour. It took a short time longer for the other three to return.

Most of the day had worn away and Nico and Percy were utterly exhausted. Everything that had happened had been pretty overwhelming and the son of Poseidon was still trying to figure everything out. And so was Nico. It seemed as though he was believing the three to be Hazel, Frank, and Leo and Percy was happy for that. But everything still seemed so tense around them and everyone knew it wouldn't fade anytime soon.

 

The first few days after the demigods ran into each other seemed to run pretty smoothly. No more fights broke out and the four that knew what they were doing in that world watched each other with careful eyes. Nico found out pretty quickly that Hazel really was in charge of the other two, like Apollo had said, and he truly found it interesting. Neither of the two boys were allowed to do anything without her permission, and that included going to bed and taking showers. They did everything they were told and, whenever they asked to do something, they did so with humility and in private. Other than seeing two boys being bossed around by a girl, though, things seemed very normal.

There was really only one thing that Percy found odd in all of it and he noticed it very quickly. There was a lot of whispering between Hazel and Frank and they would sneak peaks at the son of Poseidon while they spoke. But worse than that was the shake of her head Hazel would always offer her boyfriend after he spoke and the sulk Frank would break into after that. Percy noticed it two or three times a day and it concerned him but he never had the courage to ask them what it was about or to even mention to Nico, who hadn't seemed to notice.

The son of Hades wasn't paying attention to anything but his notebooks, actually. He kept his face burried in them for most of the day and never told Percy what he was doing, even when the elder demigod asked. He knew Percy wouldn't take well to it, at all, but he felt it was something that needed to be done, much like the escape plan.  It wasn't another escape plan, though. He had considered that, but got another idea. This idea was a way to get rid of Leo, Frank, and Hazel if the need to arose. It wasn't really that difficult to come up with something, though. He just based his plan off the information Apollo had given him, even though it wasn't much. He did what he could, though, and remained totally silent whenever he worked. And, as time went on, his plans got more brutal. They became the most brutal murder plans that had ever played out in his mind and they got worse when new ideas popped on here and there. And that left the son of Poseidon to fill the other three demigods in on what had gone on.

Percy left out quite a few details in all of it but he went through what he could. There was one day, when he talked all out the murder, that Frank gave Hazel the same look he had given her plenty of times before. Percy caught it, obviously, and questioned it with almost no patience.

Hazel sighed. It had only been about a week since they found each other but she knew she had to tell them. She never said anything to Percy but instead looked over to Nico and spoke to him.

"There are a lot of things we know that we have a feeling you don't."

Intruiged, Nico sat up on the bed he had been laying on, placing his notebook to the side.

"People know about Percy. Plenty of people. Things are pretty dangerous for him right now."

The room went silent as Percy stared, fearful expression, at the son of Hades. His eyes seemed to scream for help. He tore his gaze from Nico when he felt the urge to tear up, even though he didn't know why he felt he should. He looked back at Hazel.

Percy fought his second urge to cry away, although he didn't know where that one came from either, before he spoke. "How so?"

Hazel looked to her half-brother before filling both in. "They want you, Percy. And they want Nico dead."

The room froze even more than it had before. It felt as if the temperature had literally dropped. Percy began to shake and his heart pounded hard enough to make him dizzy. He couldn't speak. He couldn't even think.

"Why?" Nicos voice was extremely harsh and he spoke through gritted teeth.

Hazel looked to her boyfriend and saw him give a little nod; he agreed that she needed to tell them. Hazel took a deep breath and let it out in a steady stream. "Manti, Typhon, and their current crew heard about his hit. They liked what they heard. They think he has potential."

Nico shook his head in confusion for as second before he came to realize what Hazel meant. Then his confusion became anger. He knew what his half-sister meant and he knew that if she said more it would be something he wouldn't want to hear.

Hazel licked her lips and prepared to speak again. What she had to say next was a little off topic but still something that needed to be said. "And-"

"No!" Nico interrupted. He didn't have any idea what she meant but he didn't want to find out. He shook his head. "I don't want to hear any more of this."

Hazel sighed. "This is important, Nico."

"I don't give a shit!" He hopped from his bed. "I don't want to listen to anything more you have to say about it."

She nodded tenderly at Nicos aggression. It was concerning to the son of Poseidon, her softness despite the way she had been spoken to, and Percy figured her gentleness was just a facade. "That's fine. But there are still things he needs to know." She gestured to Percy. "Frank and I need to tell him, today." She came up with an idea on the fly. "The two of us are going to take him on a ride. We will explain everything, give Percy some time to cool off, and then bring him back. Today. We'll leave and be back within the next few hours."

Nico shook his head. "No. I am not letting him out of my sight."

Hazel's response was sharp and sudden. "Then you listen to what we have to tell him."

Nico groweled. Hazel had put him in a lose lose situation. Only a week had passed and these people were asking Nico to let Percy go somewhere with them. But, he did have options. He could let Percy go with them and listen to what they had to say, without Nico being there, or he could fight their idea and let Percy stay in the dark for even longer than he had already been. He sighed heavily.

"I want to talk to you." He stood from the bed and left the hotel room, Hazel following behind him. Percy was left in the room, feeling extremely awkward. Leo seemed not to care less about him and acted icy. But Frank never tore his eyes away from the son of Poseidon and bore an expression that seemed to apologize for something that had never happened.

Nico and Hazel returned shortly, both with somber looks. The son of Hades went to Percy first and gestured him toward the bathroom. Percy followed without question, needing to get out of the room he was in.

"Percy, you will be going with them." Nico spoke flatly. "I need you to be extremely careful, okay?" His tone softened and he showed slight emotion. "Don't throw away my three years of searching." There was an overwhelming amout of concern present in Nicos words and Percy wasn't sure how to handle it. He didn't mind it; it was nice to know he was being looked after in all of this, but it felt odd all the same. Percy nodded his head lightly.

Nico fought the urge to show Percy truly how scared he was. He considered leaving a light kiss on Percy's forehead or even his lips but he knew it was a stupid thought. He just nodded at him firmly and left the bathroom. Percy followed and approached Hazel and her boyfriend. Nothing more was said before the three left and Nico and Leo were alone in the hotel suite.

Hazel drove while Percy and Frank sat quietly in the car. She didn't plan on stopping to tell Percy what was going on, but she did want to wait a short time. She hoped giving a little silence before she brought anything up would help things along a bit.

The drive would have been boring to the son of Poseidon if he wasn't worrying more than he thought was possible. He had no clue where Hazel and Frank were taking him and the only person who he felt even somewhat safe around wasn't with him. It was hell...

Nico wasn't having a good time of it, either. Leo was terrible company, since he kept staring. Neither said a word but Leo had a plethora of thoughts running trhough his mind.

A decent amout of time had passed, although Nico couldn't be sure how much since he wasn't paying attention, before Leo broke the silence.

"How've ya been?"

Nico scoffed and didn't answer.

"Look," Leo said seriously and turned to the other demigod "we're gonna be spending an awful lot of time around each other so we better get used to talking."

Nico felt like that was pretty audacious and just ignored the son of Hephaestsus. Leo, though, wasn't in the mood to be ignored. But he would give it a little more time.

Once Hazel felt she had driven long enough to make Percy fear for whatever it was she wanted to talk about, she spoke up.

"How close have you gotten with Nico?" She looked at him in the rear view mirror and their eyes met.

Percys look was one of curiosity. "Um... I don't understand."

Hazel raised her eyebrows. She didn't want to come right out and say it but the Lotus hadn't been kind to Percy. He seemed to be not be too aware of too much anymore. Not to mention that talking about things like that were still awkward for her to talk about. She tried to sugar coat it for her own good as much asnPercys. "Has anything happened between the two of you?"

Percys confusion worsened. He was now totally lost.

Hazel sighed and Frank chuckled deeply from the passanger seat. The car ride was going to be much longer than either one of them had anticipated and the whole point of it hadn't even come into focus yet.

Back in the hotel, things were still yense. There was another short silence, that Nico embraced, but Leo had to open his mouth again.

"So how have things been going with Percy?"

Nico rolled his eyes, not feeling it necessary to respond, but did anyway. "Fine."

"Fine, huh?" Leo scrathed his head. "Has he thanked you for getting him out of Lotus, if that's where he actually went."

Nico gritted his teeth. "Yes, he has. Profusely."

Leo nodded. "Has he thanked you the way you want him to?"

Nico squinted his eyes in confusion. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Leo chuckled darkly. "I wanna know if you got with him yet?"

Nico was dumbfounded. The fact that Leo was even speaking to him was annoying but that was too far. Nico couldn't stand when people spoke like that to him. He dropped his book onto the bed and sat up, staring at the male in the chair on the other side of the room.

"Do you have a problem? Because, in order to find it okay to ask a question like that, you much have a serious lack of brain function."

"Oooo, fiesty." He smirked. "I like it."

Nico scoffed. "I couldn't care less if you like it. So, next time you have a thought like that, keep it to yourself."

Leo stood from the chair and approached the bed before sitting on the edge of it. "I can't believe you haven't gotten with him yet. With a personality as firey as yours, I would have expected you to force yourself on him."

Nico was quite aware that talking back to Leo was provoking him even more so called it quits. He shook his head and went back to his book, trying to read it without worrying about Percy too much.

When Hazel had finally managed to get Percy to understand what she had been talking about, she got an answer from him. Well, sort of. She got a blush. She had never seen him blush before, even with Annabeth. He had always been too cocky to blush. But that was unimportant.

"Alright," she dre in a deep breath, "having that covered, let's get to what matters. First things first. You know they don't want you dead. Why, though? They wanna use you, Percy. Everyone's heard about how you seduced Herc and killed Horme. They love the idea of that: a cute face and a lethal hand. But they're not the only ones who feel they need you." She was already tired and feeling somewhat winded, but there much more to be said. She let herself take ass Percys much needed, long breath before going on. "I'm not going to sugar coat my point too much, so here it is. Because they want you, they will do whatever they can. And whatever they can has to do with getting to Nico, as well. That leads to another thing. There are going to be some things that Nico is going to find out very soon. Some things he's not going to like and he's gonna have a hard time dealing with them. He's not going to believe them at first and, once he comes to, he's going to need an escape. A way to clear his mind. Right now, all I can see as an escape for him is you. There are already so many things he want to do with, and to, you."

Percys bottom jaw hung unhinged in shock.

Back in the hotel, Nico was humoring Leo's every question, and answering them in the kindest tone he could find within himself. His questions were stupid and Nico really wondered where they had come from. He was asking things like when the last time Nico had gotten any was. Or if he was having a hard time controlling himself. He even asked if Nico would ever get with another guy knowing he couldn't have Percy.

"What the hell is this?"

Leo shrugged. "I just wanted to know how tense you've been being around the guy that you want and not being able to have him."

"Why does that matter to you?" Nico was beyond annoyed by this time and if he had had anything heavy within reach, he would have thrown it at the son of Hephaestsus.

"Well, if you need anything, anything at all, I could assist you. If you get what I mean." He added a wink at the end of his sentence and Nico got off the bed with a scoff and entered the bathroom. He figured that was better than beating the living daylights outnof the other demigod. Nico sighed heavily in agitation once he was inside the small room, but his mind was imagining things. Percy was the one he wanted but he needed something right then and there. He needed to be able to get something when he needed it and Leo was offering. Would it be stupid to take him up on it?

Percy thought through everything for a few minutes as the car moved on. Hazel and Frank would both glance at him in the mirror as he seemed to be wrapped in thought.

Percy cleared his throat before he spoke. "Are you saying... I have to... ya know...?"

It took Hazel a second to decipher what in the world Percy's broken phrase was supposed to mean but she did. And it made her almost as uncomfortable as it made Percy. And she didn't want to talk about it. But she had to. "Have sex with him?" She shook her head. "No."

Percy breathed a sigh of reliefe. Despite everything that had already happened between the two, he couldn't see himself allowing something like that.

"There probably will have to be something, but not that." She forced herself to say that and fought the urge not to vomit. "I can assure you you'll have to come out of your comfort zone a little, though."

That wasn't much of an assurance in Percys opinion. He couldn't believe that's what she wanted to tell him. Was it really that important? Would Nico really want to do something with him? Did he already want to...?

Hazel gave Percy a short time to cool off before starting back to the hotel. It had only been a week since they had showed up and already Percy was hating the way things were going and everything he had learned. People wanted Nico dead, but wanted Percy alive for some reason and that scared him half to death. He had learned that Hazel and Frank wanted him to allow something to happen between himself and Nico, just to keep Nicos mind off of things. He had learned of some of the things the three had been into over the years and found out they were crazy. Between the torture, the arson, and the hires and plans for hits they had arranged Percy was able to figure they were pretty mad. But, still, his biggest concern was what was going to happen between himself and Nico from this point on.

He said nothing more, even when he returned to the hotel, and took a long warm shower. It had been a long day, or week more like it, and he just wanted a break. The room, being a suite, was split in two. Hazel, Frank, and Leo got the side with one bed and and a couch while Nico and Percy were allowed the separate room with two beds. He now knew why. Hazel and Frank figured they would need the privacy... He could feel his cheeks heat up at just the thought and he climbed into his bed. He gave a shy look in Nicos direction and noticed the son of Hades had his Stygian blade hidden under his pillow. He wondered if it had been there ever since their first night in the new hotel.

Percy put the thought aside and considered everything else. He had been given a lot to think about in the time since the other three demigods had shown up.

A week. A week had gone by but it felt like much longer and all he wanted to do was go back to his simple demigod life. He had never thought it had been simple before, and it really wasn't, but compared to this being a demigod was a walk in the park.

 

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