Disclaimer: I don't own PJO. If I did, Nico would get his own book and Thalico would become canon.
A/N. I have not yet read the last book, and only half of the one before that but I've read enough summaries to be sure that I'm not jumping the gun too much.
Breaking the Oath.
Nico Di Angelo almost couldn't help the bitter feeling from rising when he was told that the huntresses were to be visiting camp half blood. Perhaps it would always be there, the rising of that feeling of abandonment he'd first had when he was ten and his sister chose them over coming to the camp with him. It was that abandonment that led to him wondering if the living would ever really appreciate him. Most times, even now, he figured they did… but then there were other select times he feared they could never really understand. He was told to come out to the big celebration by the campfire when the huntresses arrived, but Nico didn't. Instead he ordered a pair of undead skeletons to wrestle each other for his amusement in the Hades cabin, while he sat there in the barely lit room trying to think of anything but Bianca.
Finally when the task proved impossible, Nico stuck his hands deep in the pockets of his aviator jacket and started out for the water, the moon would be high at this time. The moon was always a strangely comforting source for him: a light in the dark, comforting because around Nico Di Angleo it was almost always dark.
He waited by the river bank and breathed in the smell around him. It was fresh. When you smelled the smell of death for so long you became more aware of fresh smells, like how it was after a heavy rainfall. That was Nico's favorite smell, his favorite secret smell that was, because it was one he wouldn't admit to anyone that he liked – not that he frequently was asked about his personal opinion of such things.
"That was rude," the voice drew him out of quiet contemplation and Nico spun toward the source. The source looked the same way she'd always looked he would have supposed, seeing is the day he met her and found out he was a demigod she was the same age as she was now… also the same age as he was now. Fifteen. Time couldn't stand still for him the way it had for her. The way it might have for his sister… not that he was dwelling on that, tonight of all nights. Now his thoughts switched to his mother, killed by her father. Another grudge that he may be able to hold, or one that may have a hold over him but he shook it off rapidly. Thalia Grace wasn't to blame… for any of it.
"The huntresses are in town? How are you all? Besides alive." Nico couldn't help but let his bitterness seep through in what he said. He naturally knew or had a feeling when someone died, and he would have particularly known of one of them died. The Bianca connection. The Thalia connection. A greater importance than just any death.
"Here I was thinking things had changed Ghost King. Still prefer the company of the undead?" There was humor in her voice but her eyes flashed dangerously sending a chill up and down his spine like a bolt of electricity.
"Still prefer the company of Artemis? I thought you weren't supposed to be around boys." He acted nonchalant with his hands continually stuffed into his pockets as if he'd forgotten all about taking them out, or perhaps he just needed the extra warmth on such a cold night.
"It's no problem with ones I know, unless they were to become a threat." Thalia came and stood side by side with him on the riverbank, wrinkling her nose in the dark. "You smell too much like the grave to be a threat," she joked and Nico could have been tricked into thinking that she might have been flirting with him before that last statement. That was the spell of the huntresses, wasn't it? The unattainable that made all others want them? Maybe it was why the satyrs awaited their arrival so, and some of the other guys in the camp who couldn't stop talking about them. Not Nico. The thought of the huntresses for him was like being cut deep in his stomach, right through to the bone (and Nico knew all too much about bones).
"It's always the ignorant that insult the grave" he shot back, a little smile forming in spite of himself.
"You hate me don't you?"
This blunt question was most certainly in Thalia's to the point style but it still caught Nico off guard and he almost found himself falling forward after tilting his body too far, correcting his stance just in time. "What? No."
"Because of Bianca. You don't hate Percy anymore, but if she hadn't been a huntress with us on that mission… and now I'm the only huntress left that was on that mission. There's always someone to blame." Thalia knew it, she could understand completely if he felt that way. Hate could get the best of you if you let it, and it was all too easy to let it. Maybe it was still an unspoken thing between them, but it had to come out eventually.
"It's uncomfortable," Nico finally admitted, eyes fixed on the moon. "Bianca would still look the same, just like you do. I guess now she still does," being dead, but that was not what he was getting at. "You're not Bianca but I remember her when I see you, and them." That wasn't all he remembered, he remembered his mother too but he wasn't going to bring up that painfulness that could drive more of a wedge between them.
"You should stop acting like it's a bad thing," her voice snapped at him and he was too scared to take his eyes off the moon and look at her as a grumble of thunder was heard in the distance disappearing as quickly as it came. "When I come here it reminds me of a lot of things, Luke, my past, the tree… but I accept it as a blessing from the gods to be able to move forward."
"I didn't say it was a bad thing," he growled back at her for all the unappreciated lecturing that she was giving him and cast his dark, restless eyes on the water now. Besides, she wasn't moving forward, she was stuck in time but Nico knew a little better than to taunt a daughter of Zeus with that revelation. "It's uncomfortable but it's not bad, being with you."
Tension filled the air at that and Thalia was the first to break the silence. "I've missed it here; especially beating everyone's butt at capture the flag."
"Not mine, unless you want a thousand undead warriors after you." For the first time his eyes met hers and they shared a smirk.
"Real threat for someone who's immortal."
"Hey, you want to have some modifications done to the Zeus cabin? Make it nicer for your stay here?" He suddenly offered and felt as though he wanted to offer her more, much more than just that. Thalia's company was… strangely refreshing like that smell of wetness after a bout of rain. "I could do it, anything you want."
And he was not swooning after her the way the other boys did with the huntresses. He had to remind himself that much otherwise he could have been fooled in thinking he was.
"I don't know Ghost King; I kind of left the death metal style behind five years ago." She laughed.
"You're an unconvincing liar." Coming from the expert himself – son of Hades.
"I'm not staying at Zeus's cabin. As lieutenant I'm with the other girls I'm in charge of." Her own smile faltered, as she realized she could accept the gesture he offered her for peace between them.
"No problem," his eyes grew dark again and one could have almost thought that he was the unconvincing liar between the two of them.
"Hey Nico," the girl felt like she should say something to make up for it. Particularly after he'd explained that he didn't hate her, and the weirdness between them had been evaporating quite rapidly.
He noted the use of his real name and felt another chill go over him – not one that was unpleasant either, one much akin to sticking your head in a refrigerator on a hot summer's day. "How about you and your undead army escort me out for ice-cream?"
"Don't your girls need attending to?"
"I could tell them I'm recruiting; you'd make a great girl, pretty too. You've got that 'I don't want to be alive' look about you."
"I want to be alive." His whole body turned and he looked straight at her from under his bangs, and she almost felt that she'd been sucked into a shadow form with him, as if her soul was being sucked right out of her. He said it as if he had a new reason for living, something Thalia found chilling but even more chilling was that for a split second she resented her immortality before she got a hold of herself again. Nico wasn't Luke and there was no way she'd allow any boy to command her attentions or her feelings in that way ever again. She'd decided that for five years now and she wasn't just going to let it go in a night, in an instant. Besides, she was a daughter of Zeus and he was a son of Hades – their union would probably be illegal by all the gods for the mere factor of the possible creating of exceptionally dark, destructive and dangerous offspring. That and the effect it would have on the reaches of the sky and the depths of the underworld… but still…
She found herself unconsciously gravitating toward him and as she did so everything was at peace; the sky, the world… no thunder, nothing amiss. They both had known what it was like for time to stand still, for things to be happening but no time passing all at once. That moment was much like that. Eyes locked, stopping a mere hairs breath away.
"I took an oath."
"Break it." His eyes were yearning, searching hers with the message of: Don't abandon me like Bianca did. She should have broken the oath, now you can.
"I meant it."
"Hades would hate it." So would Zeus for the matter. Given their choice they would probably never allow it. This point seemed to send Nico crashing back to earth. He couldn't forfeit his father's approval could he?
"Yeah, the whole idea was stupid. You're a huntress."
"And you smell of the dead."
"And you don't even like boys."
Lightning flashed in the sky.
"And you probably still play stupid games like when you were ten."
"And you probably had a better personality when you were a tree!" Oh yes, he'd heard all about that. Anything was ammunition now. More lightning and Nico figured it was time to cut his losses and give in, right before she shot one last blow at him. A doozy.
"And you are as big of a jackass as your father is!"
Nico glowered. He took a step forward and grabbed her forearm above the wrist. He knew she would probably bolt him for touching her but he didn't care, he could just sink into the shadows and disappear before it hit him. Huntresses were supposed to have more self control. It was then Nico realized what the huntresses really were – as bitter as he was. Their grudges against mankind led them to this condition, and it was all born of hate and spite. They were the ones that couldn't move on. Not him. That's why they were locked into immortality like a curse. "Take that back." His voice was steady; he was the one with more control here.
"No!" Lightning struck and he pulled her into the abyss with him that opened up and sucked them under. By the time they surfaced near Thalia's tree, she was panting and they were as close as ever.
"I don't hate you." He repeated the same thought from earlier, this time with more force behind it. "But you don't belong with the huntresses."
Thalia's eye caught the tree. She froze, an arm still hovering around his waist as if she had placed it there undecided in whether to hurt him or hug him. Now she was back here was it true that she always belonged here? She was supposed to be with the huntresses unless she died… or fell in love.
"And I know you hate my father, I'm not a fan of yours either." Now maybe it was time to bring up past hurts while they were on the subject.
"But you're not moving on and sometimes I find it hard to as well. I think we're supposed to help each other."
"Just because I'm not aging doesn't mean I'm not moving on."
"You don't trust guys."
"If you don't trust it's because you're holding a grudge."
"I'm not." Stubborn as always. Maybe there was a little truth to what Nico was saying, maybe Thalia just wasn't ready to hear it yet.
"I'm happy." The protests began again.
"So am I, but it doesn't mean that I don't want more."
"I'm older than you."
"I bet you're not." If he could count the casino years she wasn't.
"I don't need boys."
"I never said you did." It was frustrating but at least she wasn't trying to blast him to bits at that moment. "Fight me for it. If I win, you leave the huntresses."
Thalia stopped protesting; she gave him a hard look and took a step back away from him. "You are smart, knowing that a child of Zeus wouldn't resist the challenge."
"Or the chance to show off."
Thalia didn't appreciate the joke. They each left it there and got ready for battle, a grueling one which neither one would be prepared to lose. The underworld versus the heavens and for some time it looked as though neither would or could win.
Thalia had more stamina, Nico was growing tired fairly quickly. Commanding the undead really took it out of you. But then at the most crucial time Thalia just stopped fighting, laying down her pride in one of those rarest of times, and her drive to win. She let Nico do the defeating, but he wasn't that naïve not to realize that the daughter of Zeus had taken a step back in battle.
"You're breaking the oath." He was triumphant, despite her unvoiced reasonings for letting him win, though his breathing heavy as he hovered over her.
"I was already breaking it." So that must have been why she'd just given up, although it made little sense to Nico. He helped her up, her cheeks flushing with color just barely noticeable in the moonlight. "During the fight," she embellished, "I realized maybe I just hadn't been able to let go and that you were right. We can help each other. You're older now…" and she had been stuck in the past with her thinking for much too long, frozen in time just like her age.
"You're not," he grinned a little at her, sweat dotting his brow and he looked as though he could get narcoleptic at any moment. It was late at this time, extremely late, rounding past midnight and in such little time so much had changed. "Still want that ice-cream?"
"It's late, Dead Boy."
"We have time." Now that she was giving up the hunt, they had a lot of time, and it expanded out in front of them like the night sky.
"Sor- what I said about your father." Thalia almost just apologized but caught herself from doing so though she gave enough of the apology away that it still lingered there for Nico to catch. Hades might have deserved it, but Nico didn't. Besides, Zeus was also hard to get along with to most mortals and immortals (understatement).
"Think our parents would hate it if we made the oath breaking official?"
"Probably." Nico gave a noncommittal shrug just as Thalia grabbed his shoulder and reeled him in, her lips finding his in a move that made the heavens rumble with a quiet content and probably most of the dead elicit the same contented sigh Nico would have heaved himself, if he weren't so otherwise occupied. The kiss intensified along with the sound of the rumbling in the sky and everything could have frozen right then and there as if Nico was right back in the Lotus Casino. This time he wouldn't be sure he'd want to leave… given the option and Thalia's presence. He was well wide awake again after all the exhaustion of the battle though it wasn't set to last long.
"Your first kiss?" They'd broken apart slowly, steadily and Thalia could only guess as much. Not that it showed inexperience, just that she was sure neither of them really had the opportunity but could surely make up for that now.
"Yeah. Are you mortal again?"
"Not until I tell Artemis." She would take care of everything, and Thalia would just have to get used to mortality all over again.
"What will you tell her?"
"I'm indebted to the son of the lord of the underworld."
"You let me win, don't pretend you didn't." Although his own ego didn't even take a blow with that, he didn't mind that he'd almost lost to her. The benefit of winning far outweighed whether it was a genuine defeat or not. "I don't think I'll ever see Bianca in you again." He was in some more deep contemplation now, though his eyes were as hollow as ever. "And I'm not mad the huntresses came to camp half blood. I'd wanted to see you again, I'd remembered you."
"It hasn't been that long." She'd been busy, felt like a month since she'd been here last except when she noted how much he'd aged.
"Try being mortal again." Length of days would surely set in by the time she started feeling like a mortal again. "So did you want to go on a date?" Nico wasn't all that sure what it entailed but with Thalia it could only be an intriguing (if not life threatening) experience. Although he didn't have all the facts he was willing to try.
"Depends where you're going to take me. Were you going to take me to hell?"
"Not if you don't want to go there."
"I don't think the scenery is good there this time of year."
They smirked at one another and began making their way down the hill back to the camp, where mostly everyone would have long been snoozing by now. Nico considered just having his undead servants carry him down and back into the comforts of his bed. He wasn't sure after all this that he'd ever wake up again after falling asleep. "I have a feeling…" Nico began in a very childish fashion, yawning inbetween and continuing with a sleepy tone. "That this is what Bianca would have wanted. That this was what's right. She travelled with you. I think… she approves. As long as you don't hurt me." With that disclaimed tacked onto the end Thalia had to chuckle.
"Everyone else will probably approve too," Thalia stated in a voice that said something like 'and if they don't we'll make them approve'.
"Except the huntresses."
"You might be surprised."
They'd reached the cabins without any aid and spent a few seconds staring at each other with a little bit of awe. "I never would have thought…"
"Thank the gods."
"Yeah." Nico gave a half wave and turned to enter his cabin before taking a second to backtrack and grab her into another kiss, another long belated kiss. At least there was one thing Zeus got right, making her and little did he know it but she was thinking a similar thing. At least there was one thing Hades got right. And now together they were both getting something right… and it was if both the heavens and the depths of the underworld were looking on with silent approval.
"Night," Thalia finally bid her breathless goodbye.
"First of many." He answered and one could be mistaken as to have heard the tiniest bit of hope in Nico's voice, something that practically never showed itself where Nico was concerned. It was a beautiful sound, and a beautiful beginning for both of them.
Review: if you would like me to write more of this pairing (or some Percabeth).