It was official. Nico hated airports. They were noisy, there were a bunch of annoying and loud people, and everybody was in a rush, like they had somewhere important to be. Everybody in the airport seemed to be getting on Nico's nerves.
Or maybe he was just grouchy because he couldn't take his Stygian Iron sword with him. He couldn't risk using the Mist because he didn't know how to use the Mist. So, Nico had no means of defending himself if some monster attacked, except for summoning skeleton warriors and possibly hellhounds. He doubted that they could resurface from the concrete floor, though. It was strange how he felt like he needed to defend himself and he blamed it on feeling ill at ease.
Nico was almost starting to wish that he just decided to shadow travel. But then he remembered all of the reasons why he chose not to shadow travel, and why he chose to go by plane.
He was tired of sitting at a bench alone with his suitcase and backpack and receiving glances from strangers. He hadn't gone to the baggage check yet because he was waiting for someone.
Nico was waiting for Percy Jackson.
Supposedly, the two of them are going to Camp Jupiter via plane. In reality, they are going to Bali. Nico and Sally had planned this together. She'd had the idea that they get away for a while together after Nico explained his feelings for Percy, which were as complicated as the Gordian knot (with respect). The solution was to be straight-forward. He'd needed someone to talk to and give him some advice. After Percy and Annabeth broke up, Nico had wanted to try again with Percy.
To be honest, the most Nico hoped for on this vacation was that they could talk. They hadn't really gotten the chance after the not-my-type thing because every time they reached that subject, Percy would go sidetrack and talk about other things.
"Nico! There you are!" Sally walked up to him smiling, as Percy trailed behind her with the same smile. He had a suitcase and backpack, too. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, Sally," Nico said, standing up. "I'm ready to see Hazel."
What both of them told Percy was that they were going to Camp Jupiter by plane because it was faster, and Nico didn't want to shadow travel all the way, especially with a passenger who seemed to be afraid of shadow-traveling, like Percy.
"This is going to be a good spring break." Percy grinned lazily. "I can't wait to see Jason again. We're totally going to have a swordfight rematch."
"Do you have everything?" Sally asked Nico. He nodded.
"Yeah, I've got the boarding passes," Nico affirmed. Sally slipped Percy's passport into his hand without Percy seeing. Nico put it in his pocket, along with his own.
"Well, you two should get to the baggage check-in," Sally said before hugging Nico, then Percy. "Have a nice time, boys!" She walked away after waving goodbye to them.
"Come on." Nico picked up his backpack and suitcase. "Follow me." Together, they walked to the baggage check-in. They waited in silence before Percy spoke up.
"So Nico, how have you been?" Percy asked awkwardly, scratching the back of his head. They haven't seen each other in months and that seemed to hinder their casualness.
"Fine," he replied. "Will and I are good friends. He's taught me a few things about archery and first aid, which will probably come in handy." He'd wanted to see if he could gauge a reaction from Percy when casually mentioning Will. He and Will were good friends, but they would never become more. The two of them were kind of like Percy and Annabeth; they were best friends, but it was better if they didn't become more than that. "How about you?" Nico asked.
"Well, I haven't failed every subject in school yet," Percy said optimistically. "Annabeth has been helping me with homework and stuff like that. I joined my school's swim and water polo teams. Good thing I've been getting the GPA to stay in both… Annabeth has really helped me." Nico knew better than to be jealous. Annabeth had, a few months ago, come out as a lesbian, and was dating Reyna. The two were a good couple.
"That's good," Nico replied. Small talk wasn't really the easiest thing for him. He shifted his weight on his other foot. They were almost to the front of the line, thank the gods.
"What have you been up to?" Percy asked curiously.
Nico supposed that he probably shouldn't say, 'Oh, you know, just planning on taking you on a surprise trip to Indonesia to finally talk to you seriously about everything. Oh and, by the way, your mother and I have been working on this together behind your back.' It might make things more awkward.
"I've been running errands between the Underworld and Camp Half-Blood. I've also had a few conferences with Reyna and Jason with Annabeth. The four of us want to make sure that the camps stay united. Both of the camps have also been communicating with the Amazons and Hunters of Artemis every once in a while, too," Nico explained.
"So that's what Annabeth does with her weekends…" Percy muttered. "Do you go to her, or does she go to you?"
"I go to her, usually," he replied. "We keep Chiron on the phone just in case, though."
"I guess you're still Ambassador to Hades." Percy cracked a smile. Nico let himself smile too.
"I guess so." He shrugged. The two of them neared the front of the line. Nico dealt with everything. The woman looked surprised that two teenage guys were traveling together, but she didn't say anything besides asking if they had an adult with them, to which, the answer was no.
Free from the burden of their suitcases, Nico led Percy to security. They were greeted by another line. They had allowed an hour for them to get through security.
"Percy, there's something I should tell you…" Nico said, reaching into his pocket for Percy's passport.
"What?" Percy asked.
"We're not going to Camp Jupiter," Nico explained. "We're traveling abroad."
"To where?" Percy looked confused.
"It's a surprise." Nico smiled mischievously. "Your mom and I planned this together." He handed Percy his passport and pulled out his own.
"Where'd you get those?" Percy asked, gesturing at the passport and fake school ID that Nico pulled out.
"My father gave them to me," Nico explained. "He's also given me a bank account full of money, so this trip is no problem."
"Wow…" Percy muttered, scratching his head. "I was not expecting this… Well, since we're flying Air Asia, I guessed that we might have been taking a slight detour." He had that lazy grin splattered on his face again. Nico chuckled.