WHO: Nico and Bianca di Angelo WHEN: backdated like whoa, I can't even remember what month it was WHERE: Nico's room WHAT: Bianca comes to talk to Nico about all the things that are being left unsaid WARNINGS: um... sad? some death talk?
There had been way too much on her mind since she had ended up in this world, mostly stuff that had always plagued her back home but had been pushed to the back of her mind in order to fulfill the quest she’d been chosen for. Of course, coming here and finding out about what happened to you from people who were much younger the last time you’d seen them had only brought about more questions. And memories of all the times she had questioned everything before.
Bianca’s head hurt. But getting outside and among trees to shoot some arrows had cleared it up for her. It wasn’t that she couldn’t think underground -- actually, she was pretty comfortable there -- but there just hadn’t been enough room down there to practice her archery. And she wasn’t about to accidentally shoot her roommate lest she come in at the wrong time.
Talking to Steve helped a little bit and it was probably high time that Bianca got around to talking to Nico about the guilt she felt for leaving him. No matter who said what, it was hard not feeling that way. She could have stayed with him and probably have stayed alive but she chose the easy way out. Stay young forever and also get a break from your baby brother. How did that end? She was dead back in their world. With still no idea about her past and what was in that massive hole in her head where her childhood should have been.
Bianca knocked on her brother’s door when she got there. “Hey, its me.” His friends had made it clear that she’d be welcome there whenever she wanted, and they definitely seemed nice but at that moment, she was glad it sounded a little more quiet.
“Come in,” answered the knock plus familiar voice and presence immediately without a second thought, even as that squirming mass of nervous worms balled up in Nico’s stomach again. Well, more than just nerves. More like a writhing combination of nervous, excitement, disbelief, happiness, and dread. He tried to focus on the happy, excited part. Bianca was here, that should be all that mattered.
Except things never stayed happy for him. Something was bound to happen. This would actually turn out to be some dream and he’d wake up. Or a trick. Some elaborate spectre created by the House of Hades, strong enough to even fool him. Or she’d just disappear, either without any reason or… or because she’d leave. Again.
He slid over to the side of his bed to give Bianca room to sit and put the small lead Hades figurine that he’d been fidgeting with back on the nightstand by the bed. Four years had passed and Bianca looked exactly the same as the last time he’d seen her and he… well, he wasn’t that ten year old she’d left behind at Camp Half-Blood. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or bad thing. “What’s up?”
Bianca gave him a tight smile, all her thoughts tumbled up in her head now, like string. Probably should have unravelled that before coming here. There was a lot to say and ask and she wasn’t sure where to start. “Just was, um, coming down to hang out with you.” It wasn’t a lie, but she knew she’d have to get to the point eventually. This was her brother. He knew her better than anyone, or at least she hoped he still did even if he hadn’t seen her for four years.
She sat down where he had indicated and her eyes fell on the Hades figurine. The fact that it had managed to get to him had touched her and she had told herself that if Percy ever arrived here, she would thank him. But if she hadn’t ever picked that thing up, they wouldn’t have had to deal with a defective automaton. She wouldn’t have sabotaged anything and they might have still been able to go on.
Of course there was a matter of the prophecy, meaning if it hadn’t been her, it could have been someone else. And she wasn’t sure if she would have been able to live with that guilt anyway.
One thing she was able to figure out, though, was that before she started with the questions, she had to get out her apologies. “I wanted to talk to you. About what happened back home.”
Bianca sitting next to him… It was still surreal. He reached out and covered her hand with his. A new habit just to make sure that she actually there, solid and warm and not the ghost he’d seen a few times after she died. The fact that his hand could actually cover Bianca’s just added to the surrealness. He hadn’t really thought about how much he’d grown over the years. Most of the guys he hung around were years older and always outpacing him on height anyways, but nothing hit home just how many years had passed and the difference of being the one two years older now than actually being taller than Bianca.
Which would’ve happened anyways back home if she had lived thanks to the Hunters… He tensed at her wanting to talk. Wanting to talk hardly ever went well either and… well, he and Annabeth had dumped enough information on her and that didn’t even get into the rest of the years. There was no telling which topic she felt the need to talk about. The uncertainty set his guard up, preparing for the blow even as he raised his eyebrow in mild curiosity. “Which part?”
Her voice caught in her throat, the guilt only multiplying when he took her hand. How could she have left him like that? They were only kids. She was only a kid, too, but if she was the one who had to take care of him all their life.. she was also all he had to look up to all his life. No parents, no guardian of any sort to help out. Just a trust fund that hadn’t done anything for them.
“About… everything.” Bianca only glanced briefly at their hands before fixating her gaze at the Hades figurine. “About me leaving you at the Camp. Or just leaving you. I’m shouldn’t have done that. I was being selfish. And I told myself that they would take care of you there.” Not looking directly at him was at least helping her speak.
“Ah…” Just a quiet sound on a puff of breath. It was all Nico could manage for a moment, the words like a punch to the stomach. He’d had time to work through that. Years of time. But each time he thought he’d finally squared it away, he’d get dragged right back in. All the closure and goodbyes only to run right back into the Underworld as soon as the next loophole appeared. Everything inside of him still felt raw and open from Tartarus too, his time held captive only feeling like it made that turmoil fester instead of heal.
He pulled his hand away so he could twist the silver skull ring around his finger. A motion to focus his hands on as well as his eyes. He shook his head. “It’s hard not being selfish,” he mumbled out. “And.. and I know…”
“I’m sorry,” Bianca started, stealing a brief glance at him when he wasn’t looking at the same time, although it only made her voice crack slightly. But this was only the start of the conversation, and she had to keep going without breaking down. “It was nothing that you did. You’re my baby brother and I love you and I would only think of the best for you. I just didn’t think that ‘the best’ at that time was me. Still, we only had each other, nobody else… like, I have no idea who our parents are. I don’t even have a memory.”
Once she started spilling anything that was on her mind, it became easier to say the words. “And it just felt like… when the Hunters showed up, it was like, I wouldn’t have to be responsible for everything. I now have someone to take care of me.” She looked down at her hands, feeling only marginally good about getting stuff out, because the guilt and shame was still there. “And believe me, if they didn’t have a rule about it being girls only, I wouldn’t have left you out of it.”
Right, so that’s what that build up of unresolved issues sounded like on the other end… So many things to respond to. The need to comfort her battled with challenging that he didn’t do anything. Or that she would have left later anyways. Then there was the issue of their parents. Her memories. Far too many feelings bubbling up.
And anger was the easiest one to latch onto. His jaw tightened and his hands balled into fists. “They didn’t care. They don’t care. The Hunters, they just toss out that tempting line, but they don’t really care. After you-” His lips pressed together a moment and his eyes closed. “Thalia’s out there now. Just recruiting more girls like nothing happened. As long as they have members, that’s all that matters.”
Bianca winced at his outburst. To say that anger would have been expected was one thing but she still didn’t really see that coming. Maybe her mind had already spun together a picture perfect reaction where everyone says their it’s-okays and hug it out. He was angry and moody when she had first joined them and she told him about it. She remembered that much because for her, it felt like it had only happened a few days ago.
“No, it’s not… that…” She wasn’t sure why she felt a need to defend them. It’s not like she had known them for too long, but they’d done a great deal for the two of them. They saved them, for starters. They took her in, gave her her bow and arrows, made her feel important. And then gave her a position on the team to go off on a quest. From what she knew, being part of a quest was something demigods wore with honor.
And then what he had said clicked. “Thalia’s.. out there? She joined?”
“It is,” Nico said stubbornly, his jaw set. Nothing was that simple and he knew it. The Hunters helped out a good deal with quests and the battles. He remembered that Reyna had mentioned they had helped get the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood too. But even so… How many young girls had died over all the years for the sake of their hunts? How many of them were even properly remembered or were given their due of Elysium?
He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, his fists relaxing and flattening out against his jeans. He nodded. “She joined at the end of that quest. To avoid the-” He paused, considering whether to open that can of worms or not. Although considering their parentage, well, it was as good a place to start as any. “To avoid the prophecy.”
This was also, Bianca noticed, a good time to start with the questions. There was nothing more she could say in regards to the Hunters because Nico’s opinion on them was pretty set. He’d pretty much opened the floor for questions anyway.
“Avoid the.. prophecy? Which prophecy? Why would she join them? I thought she hated them. She definitely didn’t hide her distaste for Zoe.”
The tension seeped from his body a bit more. True, this course might not end well, but this was just answers. Facts to questions. Stats and history to be given. Not… before. With trying to sort through every emotion and give each their own proper attention.
“The Great Prophecy,” Nico breathed out. “The Oracle told it around World War II. That the next child of the eldest gods to reach 16 would hold the fate of Olympus in their hands.” He looked over at Bianca. “Joining the Hunters freezes your aging. She was a few days from turning 16. By joining them, she bought everyone a few more years to figure out what to do with the Prophecy.”
Bianca frowned. She kept getting new information and tried to make sense of it but it all seemed to jumble things up more. “Few more years…” Hadn’t Thalia been fifteen when she was with Bianca on their quest? “Prophecies always come true.” That’s what she had been told, at least. She could deduce that the one who would be lost in the land without water from the prophecy of their quest was, well, her. “So who was it then?”
Nico nodded slowly. There was more to it, of course. There was always more to everything where demigods were involved and he knew he didn’t have all the details considering the relationship between Annabeth, Thalia, and Luke. And speaking of always more…
He took a deep breath. “Percy.” His mouth pressed together in a line again. “Not for lack of other people trying to oust him.” Because yeah, Dad, like that plan would’ve gone over so well.
“Oh, that’s… nice.” Well, he did win. Nico was okay, so was Annabeth, everyone seemed just fine. They probably wouldn’t appear to be fine if Olympus had been destroyed and everything had gone to hell. She could have been able to notice that even if they had decided to lie to her to make her feel better. Like her death wasn’t for nothing. “But if Thalia stopped herself from reaching sixteen then… who else would have been able to?”
“Me,” Nico said, soft and simply. Which was probably for the best that his father’s plan hadn’t worked. Even if he had trained for it, even if the timeline had worked out and Kronos did decide to just chill for a few more years, he’d never been able to handle the situation like Percy had. He never knew Luke as anything but a vessel for Kronos. He never would have made the same choice Percy had. He never would’ve been able to do that sort of leap of faith.
Plucking the figurine from the nightstand, he inspected it a moment before holding it out towards Bianca. “I’ve wondered if this being the one I was missing out of the entire set had nothing to do with its rarity and was just… that having it might’ve sparked some memory before we were ready…”
“You,” was all she could get out, her mouth half-opened already from feeling… well, dumbfounded. Numb. Cold. A number of things, as she looked down at the figurine. The eldest gods being Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. Well it was obvious who Percy’s father was, but Bianca never felt any affinity for water nor for lightning. Just that sense of death happening somewhere, that ability to move the ground.
Bianca suddenly found it slightly harder to breathe. She stood up quickly from where she was sitting and just looked at that figurine. The one that she had picked. Remembering how easily she was able to find it, what coincidence that it was the only one that Nico didn’t have and she’d find it among that huge pile of garbage. Did that mean everything had meant to happen? She was meant to die, after leaving her brother behind, her destiny basically completely written out for her without her being able to do anything at all about it.
“How… that’s… how did you find out?”
Nico followed Bianca, rising to his feet. To help. To comfort. Something. But the question just felt like another punch to the gut. His claiming wasn’t conventional by any means. He hadn’t really been claimed the way the other campers were. But there had never been any question about who his father was…
His head hung as he focused down on the figurine. “I felt it…” he breathed out. “When you… I had a dream and I could feel it… feel where you were in the Underworld…” He’d tried to ignore it. Dreams were just dreams back then after all, right? It had to just be his worries and nerves getting the better of him. But then… His eyes closed. “And when they came back and Percy told me… Skeleton warriors came after us and I told them to go away and…” He spread his hands open to the side. “The earth swallowed them. It’s a very short list of gods with those domains.”
That was not what she had expected at all. The part where he could feel her? And going through that before he even got a confirmation. What had they created? What kid deserved to go through something like this?
Bianca felt sick. She’d wanted to know about her past, about that hole in her memory because not knowing was driving her crazy but this bit of information was almost enough to change her mind. Keyword being “almost”. She had no idea what to even say at that point. She balled her hands at her side before relaxing them and bringing them up to her mouth instead. Dare she even ask about their mother. If their father was the God, then what about their mortal mother?
The silence wasn’t good. The… yeah, that was hyperventilating… or the start of it… either way that wasn’t good either. Great, he’d messed this up. Nico reached towards Bianca, but hesitated before he could touch her.
What if this was him? Yes, there’d been a level of exaggeration, but he hadn’t been lying to Jason when he said he might as well be covered in sewage. The son of Hades with the birthright of death and darkness and the Underworld. Who’d want to hang around that? True, it was Bianca’s birthright too. Although maybe she would be like Hazel and get the ‘friendlier’ end of the bargain. The earth and all its riches.
His need to comfort his sister won out over his own doubts and insecurities. He rubbed his hands over her arms and shoulders before pulling her into a gentle hug.
Bianca’s hands were still against her mouth when he brought her closer, but she leaned against him anyway. Her baby brother, the one person she was responsible for, the one person she was supposed to protect. Not Camp Half-Blood, not any Centaurs or demigods, but her, and she failed miserably at doing that.
“I don’t remember anything,” she mumbled into his shoulder with a shaky voice. “Nothing at all about how we lived before those schools and that trust fund and I hate it. What.. what happened to our mom?”
Nico rubbed his hands soothingly over Bianca’s back, murmuring comforting sounds. At least he hoped they were comforting. Especially since there was the issue. He knew it well. As long as your mind stayed away from the matter, the missing memories weren’t obvious, but if something made you think back… made you question… Once he’d let Bianca go, he had moved on to that sliver of hope. Information about their mother and how much of that story they were fed was true. If, maybe, she was out there. A little bit of family left…
“I didn’t either,” he said softly. “Our father, he had them erased. Everything before the hotel.” He took a deep breath, resting his forehead against Bianca’s hair. “It’s not a happy story, Bianca… You’ve gone through a lot already…” Another breath. No time like the present. “And… if you want the memories back for yourself, to find out that way… Carol says there’s someone who can help you.”
“Erased,” Bianca echoed back, pushing back away from the hug to look at her brother in confusion. That.. made sense. A lot of sense. But how anyone could possibly bring back memories that were erased sounded really complicated. Didn’t that mean they could have not actually been erased? Yeah, she’d been through a lot but the lack of memories wasn’t really helping. No matter how bad it would get, Bianca had a feeling that in the long run, knowing would be a lot better.
“How do you bring back memories that were erased?”
“With a telepath,” Nico supplied. “She’s helping Carol who lost a few memories. I’m not sure if it’ll work the same way considering the nature of your memory loss, but…” He paused, his focus going elsewhere. He wanted to protect Bianca. He wanted that above so many other things, but he knew what it was like. How frustrated and angry it could make someone to have other people intent on deciding what was best for them. “It won’t be easy and it could be painful. But if you want, we could talk to her about it.”
He rubbed his hands back over Bianca’s shoulders, still not used to the fact that she was solid and real. “There’s another way too. It isn’t the same as having your memories restored, but I could show you my memories. You’d know what has happened, even if you don’t remember it first hand.”
Bianca already hadn’t trusted enough people and random occurrences of her own world. She wasn’t entirely sure if she would have been able to put her trust into someone of another. If it had been the only way she might have just settled with hearing accounts from both Nico and Annabeth, even if it wouldn’t have the felt the same. It would have at least detached her from actually feeling anything physical, and if it wasn’t as bad as she thought, she could give the telepathic way a try.
She frowned, looking up -- god he really had grown -- at Nico. “You can.. do that?”
Nico’s stomach twisted, that small, quick gut flip flop he got when his powers came into question. Oh, sure, the other demigods, they got stuff like aerokinesis and hydrokinesis and even if it had a creepy quality, even the charmspeak was no biggie. But summon a zombie army? Quick respect followed eventually by everyone edging away. Their realms weren’t really the cheery ones that people liked to think about. But he’d learned long ago to push that nervous flip flop down and draw himself up with pride. He had power. It was his birthright. Fear and uncertainty were dangerous tools that could be used against you, especially by the likes of ghosts and the dead.
His stance solid, he nodded firmly. “Death and dreams are closely related,” he explained. “I could enter your dreams while we sleep and show you what I remember that way.” A moment’s hesitation as his shoulders caved just that little bit in doubt. “If you want…”
Bianca almost grimaced. Thinking how death and dreams were related… well it made sense. A lot of sense. But it didn’t make the thought process any more pleasant just because it made sense. “Okay.” What did she really have to lose? As far as her memory was concerned, all the crazy had happened within the last few weeks -- the monsters, being found by Percy and team, joining Artemis’s hunters, riding with Apollo to Camp Half-blood, joining the team on a quest. At best, this would be a walk in a park. If that park was a very thick rainforest.