Nico was sitting on the porch steps of the big house with his head on his hands. Hazel had been gone for three weeks and he missed her like crazy. She was the only close family he had left now that Bianca was… gone.

He couldn’t dwell on that. He understood why Bianca had moved on but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t still hurting inside. He needed Hazel not just because she was his sister but because she was helping him move on.

She wasn’t the only one. Percy understood what he was going through. He’d been there when she died. He was helping him too.

Nico heard hooves pounding on ground. He looked up to see Chiron standing in front of him. “Nico? What are you doing here?”

“Oh. Chiron, hey. I was just… thinking.”

“Well that’s perfectly ok. Would you like to talk about it?”

“No that’s ok I’m fine now.” Nico hoped he was telling the truth.

“Are you sure?”

“I think so.” He got up and looked Chiron in the eye. “I’ll be fine. I’m sure of that.”

“Ok Nico, see you later.” With that Chiron went into the big house.

Nico walked around the camp and towards the woods. He wasn’t concentrating and tripped over something and fell flat on his face. He heard a ringing in his ears and it wasn’t until I stopped that he heard the laughter. He looked up to see a load of guys crowding around him. One of them walked towards him. “Get up.” He said. It was Max, son of Ares. He was a year older than him and twice the size. “I said get up.” Max kicked him so hard Nico curled up into a ball on the floor. Max laughed and turned away signalling to his friends. They stared punching him, kicking him. Nico was in so much pain, he was nearly crying. He held in his tears, determined not to give them the satisfaction. He looked through a gap of people and saw a small group of girls around his age laughing and jeering at him. Most of them. There was one girl standing away from the group with a slightly worried expression on her face. She walked over to Max looking at Nico. She put her hand on his arm, trying to sooth him. He looked angry. “C’mon Max, that’s enough. You’ve gotten our point across. Leave him alone now.”

He laughed in her face and walked towards Nico. Guys lay off now, mommy’s getting worried. He turned to look at the girl who looked at the ground then at Nico. “Anyway. It’s time to talk. You see Nico, we have a problem. Do you know what our problem is? It’s you. You don’t belong here, you’ve never belonged here. Everyone’s sick of you. Your so called sister went to the other side of the world to get away from you. She doesn’t want or need you. None of us do. So get lost.”

Nico stood up and clenches his fists. He was angry and terrified at the same time. “No.” he said, trying not to seem scared of Max.

“Excuse me?" Max said shocked. He signalled to a guy behind him to grab hold of his arms and pull them behind his back. “What did you say?”

“You heard me.” Nico stood his ground. “No.”

Max punched him full pelt in the stomach and the guy holding him up dropped him, causing Nico to drop to the ground and fall flat on his face, again.

Everyone laughed and walked away except for the girl. She looked behind her to see if anyone was still in sight. When they weren’t she hurried forwards and helped Nico up. She looked worried but guilty. She looked like she was the same age as him and was about the same height. He looked at her and saw her green eyes doing the same. He whispered “I’m so sorry.” and ran off.

Nico stumbled back to his cabin and went into the bathroom. He made a barricade to block the door and looked into the mirror. His face looked awful, if he didn’t need to assess the damage he would have looked away. His whole face was covered in cuts and bruises, he had a bloody that was, for sure, broken a split lip that was swelling up and he was sure he would have two black eyes in the morning. He was in agony and that was just his face. He didn’t want to know what the rest of him was like. He unwillingly peeled off his ripped, bloody clothes to see his bloody bruised body. He was battered and bruised all over and he was pretty sure he had a few broken ribs. He was broken, physically and mentally. He pulled some new clothes on just before he collapsed to the floor and passed out.