They gave him a place at camp after the dust settled, a Hades cabin all to himself. He often wondered when he lay awake at night if this was what Percy felt like, alone in a great stone hall night after night.
But comparing himself too much to Percy just made him angry, and if he's gained one thing from the clusterfuck that's made up the last few years it's that anger gets him nowhere.
So he stayed at camp, and trained, and won capture the flag matches, and thought idly while the smoke of his food in the pavilion fire drifted towards the sky that it was going the wrong way.
Nico doesn't know exactly when the plan hatched in his mind. What he knows is that no matter how far-flung his chances are, and however much his father told him she could have done better, since Bianca left there has been a hole in his chest that no amount of quests or godly affirmation can fill.
Getting in was the hard part - by now he’s been walking for months through the limbo and empty space. (Although since the whole inside-a-casino-for-70-years thing, time's sort of lost its meaning.) Hell’s not so bad, really, just inefficient and bureaucratic. The hardest part is avoiding the passport ghouls.
Most days it feels too easy and much too hard, and Nico knows better than anyone that the universe is an eternal push-pull, give-and-take, and there are no freebees in the underworld, but he was born to cheat the system.
He can feel her, just out of reach, as if he can see her out of the corner of his eye. Sometimes he feels like he's imagining it, just looking for an excuse to get out of the camp and its silent judgement.
But even if he is, what does he stand to lose that he hasn't already?
i. i went dancing with my sister
i went dancing with my sister / call her madam, call me mister / and i have had enough of trouble / i've been paid in full and double
ii. light up
tegan and sara
we're eggshells and not easy to hold / we uncurl and unwind, when we sleep side by side
iii. all i see
you will never waste my time, no, no / you will never waste my time / she locks all the doors and turns, says / "we will always be safe here in this bed.” / and all i see scares me / and no one waits forever / so come closer, baby / i want to see what you're made of / see what you're made of
iv. these ghosts
jane vain and the dark matter
i have been hiding from so many nights / and they haven’t found me yet / but someday they might / and when they do we will be ready / if you hold me steady / you know i can’t be alone / can you be the light so i don’t see these ghosts
v. i saw the dead
it’s something we’re missing darling, so we’ll wander instead / and i’ll show you the back room / where i saw the dead
vi. oh, death!
pearl and the beard
oh, death is on me / and the soil piles on me / ever deeper till i see / oh death, oh death, oh death but i still see / i love you the way you are / the way you've always been
vii. box of cedar
and i'm going to tell everybody i know that i'm glad to see you / even though you're coming home in a box of cedar
viii. black dirt
it may be true that i lied / i broke a promise that i tried / but my heart no longer beats / my blood makes black dirt under your feet / black dirt will stain your feet / and when you walk you'll leave black dirt in the street
i could sleep forever these days / because in my dreams i see you again / but this time fleshed out, fuller faced / in your confirmation dress / i see signs now all the time / that you’re not dead, you’re sleeping / i believe in anything / that brings you back home to me
x. my crazy
they say i’m talking to myself / when i’m talking to you / they say i’m going crazy / that much is true
xi. o death
well i am death and none can excel / i'll open the door to heaven or hell / my name is death and the end is here