p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"A/N: He's OOC. You're warned. I'm not good at characterizing Nico. br /Disclaimer: I own nothing. Characters, settings and everything else belongs to Rick Riordan./p
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p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;""So, Nicky, can I call you Nicky?" Alisha was poking Nico's arm as he showed her around the camp, finishing the tour that Annabeth and Percy had begun. br /"No. My name's Nico. Not Nicky, not 'neeks', and definitely as hell not Nikola." He sighed, rubbing his arm where she poked it. br /"Okay then, it's settled. I'm calling you Nicky." Alisha giggled./p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"Nico exasperatedly ran a hand through his hair. "You're really annoying, you know that?" br /"I know." The girl said, smiling at him. She did that a lot around him, he noticed./p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"emThere is no way I'm going to get along with her. Once she finds out what I'm capable of, she's gonna-/embr /"Hey, Nico?" She called out to him. She was looking at the cabins again. br /"What?" He asked, walking to her side. br /"How do I find out who my godly parent is?" She was watching the Stolls prank other campers. br /"Well, they claim you." br /"How do they do that?" She sat down on the grass, still watching, mesmerized by the fun. br /Nico sighed and sat down beside her. br /"They send you a sign."br /"What sign?" She was looking over at him now. Her eyes big and curious, like a kid who just discovered toast. br /"Well, it depends."br /"Depends on what?"br /"Who your godly parent is. Like, if you're a child of Aphrodite, you're claimed by her symbol, the dove." br /"Oh. So if I were a daughter of …say, Poseidon, I'd be claimed by a trident?"br /"Yeah, but that's impossible. Poseidon doesn't have many half-blood children, only Percy." emIdiot, you already know she's probably the daughter of Poseidon Hades mentioned. /embr /"Really?" She moved her gaze to her feet, playing with the laces of her shoes. "Why is that?" She looked uncomfortable, like she knew something. emMaybe she already knows who her dad is? br /emNico shrugged. "The Big Three, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, made a pact to never have half-blood children again, after World War II."br /"Why?" br /"There was a prophecy about a half-blood child of the eldest gods either saving or destroying Olympus, but the oath they made was already disregarded after they found out Percy was the child in the prophecy and he saved the world," He glanced at the great pavilion. emDinner time. /em"But that's a story for another time. C'mon, dinner. You're probably starving." He stood up, holding out a hand for her. She took his hand and used it to help herself up./p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;""Thanks," She whispered as they walked up to the dining hall. "You're being very nice to me."br /He looked behind him, where she was walking a couple of paces back, and smiled. "Isn't that what friends do?"br /"I thought you didn't have friends?"br /"Doesn't mean I don't know how to treat one."br /She smiled back at him, reached out for his hand, and gave it a squeeze. br /The gesture made his stomach jump./p
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p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"After a period of walking in friendly silence, Alisha spoke up again. "Nico, you said I stay in the Hermes Cabin since I haven't been claimed yet, right?" br /He nodded. br /"But what if I'm never claimed?" Her voice was faint, but he heard it. br /"That won't happen." He said firmly. br /"But what if it does?" Her voice was softer than before. br /"It won't happen because they made a pact to claim their children when they turn thirteen."br /"But, Nico, look at me," Her voice was so soft he had to stop walking just to hear it. "I'm sixteen, and I haven't been claimed yet."br /"Then I'm sure they'll claim you soon enough."br /"And what if they never do?" She was on the verge of tears. br /"That won't happen." br /"It will, Nico. It emwill happen /embecause I'm pathetic and no divine being would want me for a daughter." Silent tears rolled down her cheek. She quickly wiped them away with the palm of her hand and turned around, so he couldn't see her. "Sorry, sorry. You didn't need to see that. Now you probably think I'm pathetic too."/p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"Nico wasn't usually the one for hugs, but he made an exception. He was making a lot of exceptions today. He hugged her from behind. br /"Look, you're not pathetic, okay?" He whispered, cradling her in his arms. "I don't think you're pathetic. I mean, look at you. To be honest, you're pretty. I think you're beautiful. You're amazing. You've convinced me to be your friend, and I barely even know you. You've made me open up today more than anyone ever has in a year. You're awesome, and your godly parent better damn claim you or they're gonna be hearing shit from me." Nico knew he wasn't good with comforting people, so he just let whatever was on his mind flow out from his mouth. He didn't realize what he said until he finished saying it, and he blushed. He let go of her and turned away, too./p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;""Do you, do you really mean that?" She was sniffling, but there was a warmth in her voice that made his heart swell. emYes, of course I do. Why would I say all that embarrassing shit if I didn't mean it?/em/p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;""Yeah, I do." br /She took his hand in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze. "You're really good at this whole 'friends' things." br /"I guess I learn from the best."br /She giggled. "Thanks. It's making me feel better knowing that you don't think I'm a pest."br /"You might be annoying, but at least you're tolerable." He said, ruffling her hair. "Now, c'mon, I'm starving."/p
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p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"Alisha watched everyone on the Hermes table eat. She was told she could eat whatever she wanted, but she didn't really have an appetite today. Nico, she saw, was the complete polar opposite. He devoured his food like a hungry lion who hasn't eaten for days. Well, to be fair, he looked like he hadn't eaten in days, too. br /"Does he always eat like that?" Alisha asked the Stoll twin sitting beside her. She couldn't tell if it were Conner or Travis, they looked too much alike. br /He shrugged. "Dunno. We've never seen him eat here before." br /"Oh, thanks." Alisha looked back at Nico, confused. br /emSo he doesn't like being around these people to the point of starving himself? Wow. Okay, we'll get rid of /emIn all honesty, she was warming up to Nico admirably fast and he was warming up to her at the same pace. Something about Nico made her want to trust him. Maybe it was just that he was the first person to help her, or maybe it was something else. She shrugged it off, and concentrated on poking her mashed potatoes. emWhatever it is, if it's important, I'll find out. I always do./em/p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"As she carefully took a bite of the soggy mashed potatoes, she saw everyone on their table was getting up and heading to the big fire in the middle, which, according to Nico was the scared fire. br /"Wha's up?" She asked through the /"Sacrificing to our godly parent. C'mon." One of the Stolls, Conner maybe, or was it Travis? Whoever it was, called her over. She stood up, taking her plate with her, and followed them. "All you have to do is get the best part of your food and throw it in the fire, it'll reach the gods on Olympus."br /"But I thought they only ate ambrosia and nectar?"br /"Yeah, but they like the smell."/p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"When they got closer to the fire, Alisha found out what they meant. She was expecting to smell burnt coal, but it was the complete opposite. She could really see why the gods liked to smell this stuff. It was almost as good as eating it./p
p style="margin: 20px 0px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, sans-serif; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify;"It was her turn to sacrifice something. She took the best part of her steak and threw it in. br /emDad, whoever you are, please claim me. I really want to know you. /em/p