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From Food To Friendship

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Work was boring as usual, at McDonald's, you get all types of customers, and I've met some strange people but none more strange than a young boy I met one summer afternoon. He wore all black clothes to match his jet black hair, and old bomber jacket, a silver skull ring on his right hand. I'm not trying to stalk him or anything, I'm just really observant, for example: he always comes in every other friday around 3:00 pm, and waits for a guy in a dark hoodie. They talk for a bit then leave, sometimes the boy buys a Happy Meal™ while it just happens to be my shift. 

Okay, maybe I'm stalking him just a little bit, but I feel so drawn to him, like we've met in a past life or something kinda drawn. So what Am I supposed to do? I follow him.

I was walking a few feet behind him when we reached an alley way near 5th street. The boy walked to the darkest part of the alley and the shadows seemed to curl around him, than he vanished without a trace. At first I wasn't sure what happened but I walked all around the place where he stood, and he really was gone. Weird. 

Now I've seen a lot of weird things in my short time on this earth, from monsters buying coffee at Starbucks across the street to kids who looked liked they just spent days alone in a muddy swamp. Heck, once I saw a boy jump off the Saint Louis Arch but nobody else ever seems to notice these things cause if they do, they don't say anything. Even with all that, the disappearing act was relatively new, so I planned my attack. I'd seen so much, now I want some answers and this boy might be able to give them to me. 

~~~

Right on time, the boy heads down the same alley way near 5th street but unlike last time, he picks something up and I hear a scraping sound as he attaches the object to his belt, a sword? I walk as fast as I can to keep up without being heard or giving myself away. I was lost in my thoughts again when the shadows started shifting, it was now or never! Or I could just try again next week, but I was already here and I was gonna do it! I grabbed his jacket sleeve witch resulted into a yelp of surprise from the boy as the shadows engulfed us. 

The next thing I know, we're in a forest That I've never seen before, but that- that's impossible! We had been in the city, miles away from any forest I know of. Was this where he went every friday? I turned to get up to find a black, very real, very sharp, sword pointed at me. This may have been a bad idea. 

"Who the Hades are you?" The boy demanded, he wasn't angry per say , just really annoyed, I hope? Yep, this was definitely a bad idea, what did I expect?! That I could hijack him, then have him answer my questions? I inwardly cursed myself for being such an idiot. 

"I-I'm Shawnna Patterson," I said, tripping over my words. I had to get myself together before he gets any ideas about using his sword, and by the looks or it, he knows how to use it, "What's your name?" 

I guess he saw me as harmless (which I'm not sure was a good thing or a bad thing) because he lowered his sword. "Nico di Angelo." 

Interesting name. He had put away his sword by now so I took it as a sign I could ask some questions. I had come for answers and I intended to get some.

"So how did we get here, and where are we?" I asked, it seemed the most reasonable and important at the time, seeing as I didn't know where I was and all. 

"I think we're near Brooklyn but I'm not sure." said Nico, looking around for a second, there wasn't much to see so it didn't take long, "And we got here by shadow travel."

"What's that?" I asked, "And why ca I see monsters? am I going crazy?"

"Its just something I can do," said Nico, "as for the monsters, you're not not crazy, I can see too but I try not to if I can help it, they tend to not like my kind."

"Your kind?"

"Demigods."

Something clicked in the back of my mind. "Demigods? like from Greek mythology?" 

Nico sighed. "Yes but sadly, its not just mythology."

But I knew both my parents, why could I see the monsters, I asked him just that. 

"You're a clear sighted mortal, you can see through the mist, a thin layer of magic that covers up the evidence of our world," said Nico slowly, choosing his words carefully, "you were most likely a demigod in a past life and chose to be reborn or you have a half blooded family member."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing yet at the same time, it made a lot of sense. It was so exciting that i couldn't keep it all in, Nico was a real live demigod! like from my history class! I asked question after question, Nico was vague in his answers but was answering none the less. It was so mind blowing that I hadn't realized we had been walking around the forest the whole time we were talking until I bumped into him when he suddenly stopped. 

"Sorry," I said quickly when Nico turned to glare at me. he rolled his eyes before going back to whatever he was doing. "Where are we going anyway?"

"If you hadn't notice, neither of us know where we are, thanks to you, so I'm trying to find a way for us to get back to Manhattan," said Nico a bit annoyed, and I couldn't blame him. It kinda was all my fault.

"Do you live there?" I tried to back off a little on the half blood questions but it wasn't easy.

"No." And that was the end of that. 

Chapter Text

We walked in silence for a bit before something occurred to me. "Why don't we just shadow move back to Manhattan?"

"First of all, its shadow travel," he said, "and secondly, no. I can't. I'm not physically able to do it so soon."

"So what are we going to do, stay the night in the forest?" I had said this half jokingly but wen Nico didn't tell me off or object... "you can't be serious."

"Its only for a few hours, you'll be fine." Nico said, giving me no sympathy, "we'll leave at first light, that's the earliest I can shadow travel again."

This could be good, I'd never spent the night in the woods before, especially not with a boy I had just met. What did I get myself into? Even though Nico hasn't told me who his godly parent is, I'm guessing their not naturally pleasant... I sat down on a rock and watched Nico as he gathered wood for a fire then he pulled out what I thought was a bottle of slime. He pored a little bit of the green substance on the wood which ignited it immediately. I didn't ask. 

"So why can't you shadow travel?" I asked, pushing my luck by asking another personal question. 

Nico stayed quiet for a moment. "About three months ago, some friends and I went on a quest where I had to shadow a lot, and let's just say I went way past what I should have," Said Nico, it was a touchy subject I decided before he went back to being vague and nonchalant, "besides, I have a deal with a friend that I won't shadow travel more than twice per day."

Although he's explanation made sense, it didn't make me any less tense. I tried to lighten the mood a bit. "You have friends?"

Nico blushed beat red, "Of course I have friends! why wouldn't I have friends?!" 

I shrugged, "I don't know! you just seem like the loner type, ya know? your all dark and edgy, its hard for us who aren't emos to tell if you guys are social or whatever."

Nico huffed and got up with his sword drawn, pacing back and forth. he looked liked we were about to be attacked.

"Paranoid much?"

"You never know with me around," he said grimly, "I have a stronger scent then most demigods because I'm a son of the Big Three and the more powerful a demigod is, the higher chance of being attacked."

"Oh," I said. 'Big Three'? I'd have to find out later, "when does a half blood figure it out?" seemed reasonable enough, I noticed Nico would tense up a little if I asked anything to personal, like if he had a girlfriend; if looks could kill, I'd be dead. Nico studied the edge of his sword, the black metal reflected the light from the fire onto his face.

"That all depends on a lot of factors, who their godly parent is, if their needed for a quest, in a prophecy, how powerful their, and the half blood themselves. Some never even find out." monologued Nico dully, I wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying, just that being a demigod meant that I could have powers!

"I wish I was a half blood," I muttered but Nico must have heard me. 

"No, you don't." he said distastefully, "it sucks, many of us, including myself, have been used as pawns just so the 'gods'could get what they want, even if it meant that a poor mortal or demigods got hurt or killed in the process." 

I blinked. "It can't be all bad, you've got cool powers."

Nico just sat there, smiling grimly to himself as if he knew something that I didn't. "But at what cost? being a demigod comes with a heavy price that we didn't ask for and each of us has to pay sooner or later." said Nico bitterly, he got up and started pacing again. "you'll be able to ask anyone at camp if the price was worth their 'cool powers'."

That got my attention, the camp this, not him pacing. "But I thought w were going back to Manhattan," I said, slightly confused.

"Plans change," Nico said simply, "besides, I think you should talk to Chiron, as I said we leave at first light so you might want to get some sleep while you can."

"What about you?" I asked as I laid down on the grass with my sweater bunched up as a substitute pillow. 

"I'll sleep when I'm dead. There's something about this place that doesn't feel right and I don't want to stay here longer than I have to."

He had a point. I stared at the fire, thinking about tomorrow, it would change everything for me, especially if Nico's friends aren't too happy about me basically kidnapping him. 

 

Chapter Text

Nico couldn't believe it, yet here she was in front of him. There was no doubt about it, Shawnna was a daughter of Hermes. She had the same trouble-maker look as the Stoll brothers; light brownish blond hair and light blue eyes, turned up ears with an elfish look. She could have easily been the one of Stolls' twin sister.

Nico needed to get her back to camp asap, he didn't know how much longer the monsters were going to ignore her, especially now that he had stupidly answered her questions but how else was he supposed to get Shawnna to stay put long enough to get them to camp before she figured it out. 

Nico relaxed in the slightest bit, playing with a distress coin that was now required for demigods to have since there were so many deaths because  backup didn't get a message of them needing help at all. 

He thought of Will Solace, his boyfriend of almost five months; remembering the brief time they had together before he left for Manhattan earlier that day, when everything went wrong...    

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I woke up dreading what today was, friday. Not just any friday, the friday where Nico shadow traveled to Manhattan in search of news of any unclaimed half bloods. That friday. I can't believe they had actually talked me into letting him go, it was dangerous and used a lot of his energy but if Nico didn't go, nobody would. Cowards.

I always got a weird, uneasy feeling when Nico shadow traveled but this one felt different, bad kinda weird. Were they gods subconsciously trying to tell me something or am I just being paranoid?

I spotted Nico after breakfast and ran over to him, before I could say anything Nico beat me to it. 

"I know what you're going to say, Will, and I'm still going," he said plainly. 

"But Neeks-"

"Will, I'll be fine," said Nico, giving me that goofy grin he has when he's being sincere. 

I hugged him tightly and kissed his forehead. "You better be, Sunshine, you better be."

Chapter Text

"Shawnna, wake up!"

I opened my eyes, it was still dark out (roughly three am I guessed) but I could see Nico kneeling down next to me. Something was wrong. "What's going on?" I asked in a whisper-shout to match his tone. I looked around, we had some how moved far from our fire.

"Something found us. Stay low, as long as it doesn't see you, we should be fine," Nico whispered, digging through his pockets, looking for something, "I have to fight it, we're not going to die, got it?"

I nodded, sitting up when I got a glimpse of the thing, my blood ran cold... a manticore! A freaking manticore. Then to my horror, it spoke.

"Where are you godlings?" it growled menacingly, "I can smell your blood and your fear so there's  no point in hiding from me."

Nico took out a silver coin with a black 13 on it and handed it to me. It was about the size of a quarter and cold to the touch.

"Manticores are high level monsters, not many campers can kill them by themselves so if things start to get out of control, you'll need to press the center and it will send a signal to the closest demigod for help, kind of like a text."

I looked back at the manticore, "Wait! How do I know if things get out of control? I asked desperately.

"You'll know," said Nico, "now stay down and don't move until I say otherwise." Nico crept over a couple bushes, unsheathed his sword and walked out to face it.

"There you are, godling," it snarled, "but where is the other spawn?"

Other spawn?! 

"its only me, I travel alone," said Nico, preparing to attack.

"That wasn't always so," taunted the manticore, "I do seem to remember another manticore telling me of two Hades' brats he had been assigned to kill, and by the looks of it, he only did his job half way if you know what I mean." then it lunged at Nico but was temporarily stopped by a skeleton, which soon crumbled back into the ground. The manticore was now shooting it's tail spikes. 

"Go to Tartarus!" yelled Nico angrily as he dodged the spikes best he could but wasn't always fast enough. He had at least three pen sized spikes sticking out of him. My view was blocked by the leaves, I moved a few branches away only to see Nico wasn't doing so well. Nico's jacket sleeve was now torn and his forearm was bleeding freely, blood trickled down his arm, past his fingertips and splat onto the grass below. 

Nico steadied himself again and the fight continued but with him hurt and the severity unbeknownst to me, I pressed the coin,it flashed a blue 3 for a second then went back to normal. Nothing much I could do now but wait till the fight was over or backup to show up. Nico was already down one arm and using up a lot of energy to raise skeletons, this could go very bad for us, I hoped whoever the coin signaled would get here soon...if they were coming at all. I looked away for one second but when I looked up, Nico was down! Not good!

The manticore raised up a clawed paw, about to fatally would slash and/or kill Nico, unable to watch, I covered my eyes but nothing happened. I looked back up at them to see the manticore had a bronze sword sticking out of its chest bur it wasn't Nico's, his was black and dropped somewhere in the nearby grass. The manticore than spontaneously turned into a yellow dust, revealing a boy around my age who looked a lot like Nico but with sea green eyes and looked more skater then emo. He had a definite frown on his face, clearly upset about Nico having a near death experience and I'm pretty sure this wasn't the first time either.    

The older tee helped Nico up, who was cradling his badly wounded arm. "Thanks, Perce, you have once again one up-ed me in a fight." then Nico looked in my direction, "Shawnna, you can come out now."

I came over to where the boys where standing, "Hi, Shawnna Patterson." I said introducing myself to the boy called 'Perce'. 

"Percy Jackson," he said, "we should get to camp, everyone has been on the edge a mutiny against Chiron since you didn't come back yesterday."

I said nothing.

"Oh gods," said Nico, "yeah, I guess we should be heading back."

"But first we need to patch you up there, Nico," said Percy, looking at Nico's bloodied arm with sympathy, "Blackjack is around here somewhere, come on."

"No offence, Percy, but you're no healer," said Nico as we walked, "do you even have clearance to be caring camp's medical supplies other than nectar and ambrosia?"

"Nope, I had the Stolls swipe some from the infirmary for just this sort of case," said Percy, "its in Blackjack's saddlebag."

As it turns out, Blackjack was a black Pegasus with huge wings, I honestly didn't know what to do so I kinda let things play out.

Chapter Text

When Percy's coin flashed Nico's location, he had no idea that he had found a half blood, more importantly, an unclaimed half blood way older than thirteen. He'd gotten there just in time to kill the monster but was almost too late. 

Percy rummaged through the saddlebag, grabbing some gauze and nectar-laced bandages. After seeing Nico's arm, he knew the wound had manticore poison in it and would need better medical treatment (preferably for Will) but this was the best Percy could do at the moment. The nectar wouldn't heal the wound with what little bit was in the bandages but any more straight nectar would be harmful, at least this would help temporarily until they got back to camp. Shawnna and Nico told Percy everything that happened while he bandaged Nico's injuries. 

"Man, sounds like you guys had an interesting time but we should get back to camp," said Percy as he handed Nico back his bomber jacket that was freshly patched up by Shawnna. "everyone's been worried, Nico, mainly because if your not back by this afternoon, Chiron's gonna have to IM your dad, who will probably unleash the undead to look for you."

Nico blushed beet red. "Yeah, let's go before that happens."