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wake up in a city that never sleeps

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The first time that Nico di Angelo meets Percy Jackson, the older man is studiously not grading the pile of schoolwork in front of him, snubbing his student’s essays in favor of trying to balance a pencil on his nose. It isn’t the most auspicious of first meetings.

Nico freezes with one foot in the door, text book clutched to his chest, and stares. The new TA doesn’t even notice him at first, just keeps on fighting with the pencil, which stubbornly refuses to stay put. When he does finally notice Nico standing in his doorway, he startles so badly that the pencil goes skittering across the room, the swivel chair he’s got his ass parked on nearly tipping over. The man curses and Nico can’t help himself; he snorts, loudly, and all the nervousness about having to talk to the teacher—or in this case, teacher’s assistant—about this stupid required credit class fades away. Nico sidles the rest of the way into the closet-sized office, nearly knocking his head into a low hanging shelf as he goes, and wrestles the smile off of his face.

The man clears his throat, sheepish smile tilting his lips crookedly and a blush coloring his cheeks. He ruffles his hair nervously and bites his lip, then goes, “Sorry about that.”

That’s probably the moment that Nico falls in love, just a little bit.

.

Nico’s life isn’t terribly interesting. His dad is the CEO of one of those Fortune 500 companies and his mom lived in the United States as his dad’s kind-of mistress for approximately five years and three days before she said fuck that shit (though she didn’t quite phrase it that way) and moved back to Italy. His older sister is off who knows where, very loudly saying fuck the patriarchy, and Nico respects that, he does, but that means he’s the one that gets the voicemails from their dad insisting that he get his head out of his ass and do something with his life; preferably soon, because the company’s not going to take over itself.

Why intro to biology is a required class for a business degree is beyond him, but whatever, he can deal with it. And anyway, meeting Percy is kind of worth the mind numbingly boring lectures on gene regulation and cellular structures. Percy, who after apologizing for being a dumbass promptly grinned at Nico, introduced himself, sat Nico down, and talked biology at him for an hour.

It isn’t like Nico has never had a crush before. He’s turning twenty. He, like the rest of the world, had gone through those terrible teenage years where surging hormones made him want to punch someone’s lights out one day and hump them like a dog in heat the next. For three years he’d had a crush on the high school quarterback before he lost his virginity to some random guy behind the bleachers during the last football game of the season. Afterwards, when losing his V-card didn’t magically result in him gaining super powers, he decided that he had better things to do with his time.

He’s out of practice with the way attraction wraps its thorny vines around your heart and squeezes until you can’t tell if it’s choking you or holding you up, so he spends the entire hour staring at Percy’s hands, which are gesturing wildly, and his eyes, lit with passion as the conversation makes a U-turn at DNA replication straight into surface ocean currents and hydrothermal vents. How he’d gotten on that subject Nico will never know.

“So, any questions?” Percy goes, grinning at him hugely.

Nico has a million questions, but none of them are about hydrothermal vents. In fact, most of them have to do with whether or not Percy is single.

His mouth is actually half-open, the question already curling on the tip of his tongue, when he catches a glimpse of the wedding ring on Percy’s finger, glinting lazily in the yellow sunlight slanting in past the blinds. He chokes the question back down, gives Percy a shaky smile, and shakes his head.

.

“What crawled up your butt and died?” his roommate asks him when Nico stumbles back into their dorm room.

Nico doesn’t really have anything against Leo Valdez, except for the fact that he’s entirely too loud, thinks his pranks are funny, and is always smearing grease everywhere. Even now he’s tinkering with some tiny object, eying Nico over his shoulder, an eyebrow arched as his hands steadily guide a gear back into place. He got into the school via scholarship and Nico doesn’t have to know anything about his past to know that his family’s poor—his clothes have that general second-hand feel to them and Nico knows that most of the money he makes at his part-time job at the auto place down the street is sent back to his mom.

He’s a good guy, for the most part. That doesn’t mean that Nico likes him.

“New TA,” he sighs, slumping face-first onto his bed. Leo makes a vaguely sympathetic noise in his direction.

“That’s rough, buddy. I’ve had bitchy TA’s all semester.”

Then he goes back to his project, leaving Nico wondering whether or not he should correct him.

.

For the next three months, Nico spends his intro to bio classes watching Percy move around the front of the room like a whirlwind of activity and daydreaming about stupid things; stupid things like holding hands in the park and getting cotton candy at the fair. It’s a problem.

The one time that he catches himself doodling in the margins of his notebook he slams down on the metaphorical brakes, because there’s crushing on someone and then there’s turning into a ten year old girl. It’s frustrating. It gets in the way of his studies, leaving him with bags under his eyes from sleepless nights and plummeting grades. It’s bad enough that Piper McLean, the girl that sits next to him in Percy’s class who he only really knows through Leo, actually notices.

“Are you okay, Nico?” she asks him one day after class, gathering her stuff and giving Nico a concerned look. Nico glances away from Percy for a moment and blushes.

“I’m fine,” he tells her.

The little pucker between her brows deepens.

Really,” he insists, cheeks hot. She’s wearing a plaid shirt, the sleeves rolled up her forearms over a flowy white skirt that cascades down to her knees, the material rippling like river water when she moves. There’s a feather in her hair and boots slouching around her ankles, and distantly, he’s aware that she’s actually really pretty today. If he were slightly less distracted, he might remember that she’s got a date. Mostly though, he’s too busy stealing glances at Percy, who is helping some other girl at the front of the classroom, to really take note.

Piper’s a smart girl, always has been, so she’s quick to put the pieces together. She follows his gaze and Nico can tell the moment that she gets it, because her eyes widen and she goes, “Oh.”

Then, in a cloyingly sweet, sympathetic voice, “Oh, sweetie.”

The blush flares back up again, so to make up for it, he scowls at her boots. “It’s really not a big deal, okay.”

She snorts. “Pretty sure that having a crush on a married man always counts as a big deal, but whatever. Just remember, if you need a night of Häagen-Dazs and The Notebook, go to Jason, not me.”

She winks to show that she’s kidding, hipchecks him, and heads towards the door, her ponytail bouncing against the nape of her neck.

“Hey, Nico, you got a minute?” a voice goes from behind him. Nico freezes, knuckles going white around his textbook, because yeah, that’s definitely Percy behind him, smiling lazily in his direction, as if he hasn’t a care in the world. Nico is suddenly very aware of the fact that the classroom is mostly empty, the last few students trailing out the door.

“Sure,” he says, clearing his throat when it comes out crackly. “Why not.”

Percy drags him to his ridiculous box-sized office, which is to say that he gestures for Nico to follow him and Nico does, unthinkingly. When Nico’s taken the seat that barely fits in the door and Percy is seated across from him, Percy frowns at him, steepling his fingers.

“So, you’re kind of failing my class, dude,” he says. He has the gall to look concerned, puppy dog eyes wide and wounded.

“Yeah,” is Nico’s oh-so-eloquent response.

There’s silence for another minute, before Percy huffs an exaggerated sigh, rolls his eyes, and asks, “Yeah, but why?”

There’s dust bouncing around lazily in the sunbeam between them and those are easier to look at than Percy’s concerned face, so Nico does just that, chewing on his lip and shrugging. “Lots of people are failing. You’ve got a class of like three hundred plus people, why aren’t you going to them?”

Percy gives him a stern look that’s about as intimidating as a kitten hissing. “None of them came to me with questions on the first day of class, man.”

“I’ve been distracted.”

“Why? Has your roommate been giving you problems? Too much classwork?” Percy hesitates for a moment, his gaze darting from Nico to the hallway past him, then back again. “Is it girl problems?”

Nico blinks at him. Well, he got over the fear of coming out when he was unceremoniously outed to the entire high school, so he might as well. “I’m gay, actually.”

Percy doesn’t even bat an eye, just nods, and says, “Guy problems, then?”

He’s so earnest about it, so pathetically concerned that Nico kind of wants to kiss him. Percy’s eyes are green, but they’re the kind of green that occasionally looks blue. They’re stupidly pretty, so it isn’t a hardship to look right into them, unblinking, and pointedly say, “Just a crush.”

.

He does end up going to Piper’s later and they do eat about a tub of ice cream between them, but instead of the Notebook, they wind up marathoning the Lord of the Rings until the sun’s coming up.

.

“It’s really dumb,” Nico tells Bianca the night after his impromptu movie marathon, cell phone tucked between his shoulder and chin. Leo’s off somewhere with Jason and Piper, so he’s got the room to himself for the night.

Bianca, who has never had a boyfriend in her life and intends to keep it that way kind of hums at him. In the background, one of the girls says something, and Bianca chuckles. There’s a shuffling sound and the background noise fades. Then, the sound of a door thumping shut.

“I don’t know what to tell you Nico,” she tells him, sighing. “You said he’s married, right?”

“Yeah, but you didn’t see the way he looked at me when he got what I was saying,” Nico says, his voice verging on a whine.

“Yeah, but he’s married. Probably happily. End of story.”

Nico sighs and kicks one of his textbooks. He immediately regrets it, clutching his bare toes and cursing. “I just—”

“Look, Nico. I know that you’ve never really been into this kind of thing and now that you are actually interested in somebody, the idea is taking over your brain. I get it. I do. But crushes like this happen. You’re just going to have to get over it. Let the man live his life and stop making yourself miserable. Transfer out of his class or something if you have to, christ.”

Nico thinks of Percy in that box of a room, how his eyes had widened, meeting Nico’s unflinchingly. How for a moment, there had been curiosity there, actual interest that made Nico’s insides go from zero to molten lava in ten seconds or less.

“I guess,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“I love you, baby bro. Don’t stress yourself out so much.”

.

Nico doesn’t transfer out of Percy’s class. In fact, he starts going to Percy’s study hours in one of the abandoned classrooms. His excuse is that he wants to try to improve his grades and escape his roommate. The truth is far simpler than that.

He just doesn’t know when to give up.

The worst part is that now Percy’s actually looking back, his eyes flicking to Nico, then away again. He blushes. He ruffles his hair. He gets distracted and fumbles his words in his lectures, and Nico’s not even doing anything. He’d understand the reaction if he was giving Percy bedroom eyes or something, but this isn’t the movies—there’s no lollipop staining his mouth red and he certainly isn’t twirling his hair, he’s just sitting there. Granted, he’s sitting there staring at Percy, but where else are you supposed to look but at the teacher when he’s talking?

Halfway through October, Percy takes their little study group to the aquarium. Supposedly it’s for science, but Nico has a sneaking suspicion that it’s just because he likes the place. He watches Percy point out all the different types of fish, listens to Percy tell them about their environments, what they eat, how they breed. Nico’s to the back of their little group, wedged into a corner, and even when he’s half cloaked in shadows Percy’s eyes find him every time.

It’s maddening, because Percy’s adorable when he’s excited about something, and it isn’t helping Nico get over his crush at all.

When the rest of the ‘class’ is heading to the exit, Percy pulls him aside, his fingers warm around the crook of Nico’s elbow. Just that touch makes his heart speed up, pattering along against his ribs like its trying to tap dance its way out of him.

“So,” Percy says, trailing off when Nico looks at him. He’s twirling his wedding ring, a nervous habit that he’s picked up in the last few days.

Nico raises an eyebrow at him when the silence stretches. “So?” he prompts, trailing off, a hot shock of pleasure going down his spine when Percy’s eyes catch on his lips shaping the word and hold there. Experimentally, he licks his lips.

Percy shivers, eyes darting to the side for a moment before going right back again.

The rest of the group is gone—study hour over, headed back to their various dorms—and the only person in the room is an older dude studying the jellyfish exhibit. They’re alone—obviously alone—and Percy wants to kiss him.

Well. Do or die.

Nico steels himself and fists a hand into Percy’s collar, reeling him in until their faces are just inches apart. He looks at Percy and this close, he can count the few, faint freckles scattered across the bridge of Percy’s nose.

Percy’s breath is warm against his lips. It’s probably the most intimate thing he’s ever done, just standing there, breathing the same air. Nico doesn’t say anything, just looks, his eyes searching, and finally, Percy’s breath shudders out in a shaky exhale and he closes the distance between them.

His lips aren’t soft. They’re wind-bitten and chapped, but they move smoothly against Nico’s, a slide of skin on skin that’s better than sex, better than candy, or quiet nights studying in his dorm room. Emotion clogs his throat when Percy places his hands tentatively on Nico’s hips and draws him in closer, until they’re flush against each other.

There’s no tongue. The kiss is perfectly chaste and it’s still the best kiss of his life.

When Percy finally pulls away, he rubs their noses together, a soft smile curling around his lips as he looks at Nico, and that—that’s even better than the kiss.

.

They don’t immediately fall into bed together. Percy walks him back to his dorm and smiles until the door is shut behind him. They don’t talk about it for a week and a half, until after class one day, Percy places a piece of paper on his desk. On it, is a phone number.

They meet up outside of Nico’s dorm and walk through the streets in companionable silence before Nico pulls him into an alleyway and commands him in a raspy, choked voice, “Kiss me.”

Percy does.

.

They go on dates. Percy takes him to an Indian place a few blocks south of campus and after they catch a movie in Central Park. Later that week, they go back to the aquarium, and this time, Nico’s more interested in what Percy’s saying, because he’s got a hand low on Nico’s back, his thumb rubbing circles into his spine.

In class one day, when Percy’s walking around the room, he brushes a hand against Nico’s shoulder. Just that one touch makes red flare across his cheeks.

Piper raises an eyebrow at him. He makes a face back.

.

They don’t actually have sex for the first month. It’s not that they don’t want to, god knows that Nico’s felt his interest when they’re kissing, but it never really comes up. Leo’s home most of the time and even then, he’s pretty sure that Percy doesn’t want to set a foot inside Nico’s dorm room. Which leaves Percy’s apartment.

He doesn’t know much about Percy’s wife. For good reason, Percy doesn’t really talk about her, and the one time that she did come up in conversation, Percy had shrugged and said that she was in L.A. working on some kind of project.

But a little over a month into whatever they’ve got going on, when they’re stepping out of Nico’s favorite dim sum place, Percy presses into his side and leans down to nip at Nico’s ear. “Want to go back to my place?” he whispers, laughing when Nico brushes snow from his hair with a hiss.

Nico blinks, the comment registering, and stops dead. “Wait, really?” he goes, surprised.

Percy smiles fondly at him. “Yeah, you can sleep over. I make a pretty mean omelette if I do say so myself. So how about it?”

A slow grin spreads across Nico’s face. Even having gotten used to the way Percy makes him smile, it still feels foreign.

.

He doesn’t remember much of the walk to Percy’s place, too caught up in the feel of Percy’s arm wrapped around his waist, his breath fogging the air next to Nico’s ear.

Percy lives in one of the nicer areas of town, which is to say that instead of a shoebox-sized shithole, his apartment is a small, but cozy little place. It isn’t really what Nico expected, all things considered. There are books everywhere, bookshelves in the living room that lean and creak under the weight of heavy tomes, various books on end tables and counters. There are knick-knacks, too, shiny seashells next to the books and little glass ornaments that look straight out of some gas station gift shop. There’s a beat up old persian rug in front of the moderate sized television, and a sagging couch pushed up against the wall.

It’s a nice place, more homey than anywhere Nico’s ever lived.

“You okay?” Percy breathes into his ear, and Nico trembles, suddenly aware of the fact that he’s been standing in the doorway for the last minute or so.

“Yeah,” he answers, a little shaky from nerves.

Percy gives him a tour, which doesn’t even take ten minutes. For all that it’s a decent size, it’s still an apartment in New York, which means that it would have taken them a minute if Percy wasn’t stopping them every once in a while to point out things that his mom gave him or things that he got on vacations.

He can tell that someone else lives here, which will probably bother him later, but doesn’t really phase him much now. Nico’s too busy marvelling over Percy’s wife’s collection of books. There are dozens on architecture and some more on greek mythology, but mostly they just look like books she’d picked up because they were cheap and interesting looking. He almost opens his mouth to ask her name, but at the last minute, swallows the question back. Nothing like bringing up someone’s wife to ruin the mood.

Eventually, they’re back in the living room, and Percy’s tugging Nico down onto the sagging couch with him.

“Want to watch something?” he asks, gesturing to the tv. “We don’t have cable, but we’ve got a decent collection of DVD’s and Annabeth’s got a subscription to Netflix.”

Annabeth. So that’s her name.

“Sure,” he shrugs, settling back into Percy as he flicks on the tv and brings netflix up. He settles on a documentary about fish, which is so predictable that Nico snorts.

“Hey, documentaries are awesome.”

Nico rolls his eyes and ignores him, leaning in for a kiss, because he’s allowed to actually do that.

The kisses are slow and unhurried, the documentary actually a pleasant background noise. He doesn’t know how long they kiss before things start getting more heated, Percy’s hand sliding up under his t-shirt as Nico sucks a bruise into his neck. Percy doesn’t protest, which is odd for someone who’s cheating on his wife, but whatever, it isn’t his problem.

Nico lets Percy pin him to the couch, his thoughts a warm haze of pleasure as he cants his hips up into Percy’s.

Nico’s had sex a grand total of two times—that time behind the bleachers at school and one other time, with his dad’s secretary a little over a year ago—so he only vaguely knows what he’s doing. Mostly it’s instinct; touch when touched, remove various articles of clothing when it feels right, marvel at how great Percy’s hair feels between his fingers.

Percy hums, pressing a kiss to Nico’s clavicle, then lazily trailing his lips down Nico’s chest. It tickles, a little bit, making him twitch and push his face up against Percy’s shoulder so he doesn’t laugh.

Nico does laugh when Percy blows a raspberry against his stomach and promptly smacks him for it.

“What was that for?” he asks, breathless, because Percy’s got his cheek pillowed on Nico’s stomach, and is looking up at him like he hung the moon and stars in the sky. Percy grins, bright and toothy, and just shakes his head.

“I like you,” he tells Nico, happily.

Warmth wraps itself around him like a cocoon, like a million favorite blankets heaped around him on a cold winter day. Nico grins back helplessly. “I like you too.”

.

Afterwards, when they’ve cleaned themselves up a little and are actually watching the documentary, Nico blinks up at Percy to find him with his phone in his hands, busily tapping away at the shitty little keyboard. Nico doesn’t like smart phones. They’re too small and cost entirely too much for features that he’s never going to use, so he appreciates the fact that Percy’s phone is a step between a glorified brick and something that can kind-of connect to the internet.

“Whatcha doin?” he mumbles sleepily, his voice mostly garbled. He’s pretty sure he’s smearing drool all over Percy’s shoulder, so he pulls back just long enough to brush the drool away before he goes right back to trying to merge with Percy’s upper body via osmosis.

“Texting Annabeth. She wanted to know when it would be safe to come back to the apartment.”

It doesn’t really register properly, but when it does, everything starts to buzz with white noise. Surely he heard him wrong.

“I… thought that she was in California,” he says slowly, shifting back so that he’s no longer draped all over Percy’s shoulder. His brain is screaming at him.

Percy gives him a weird look. “Yeah, three weeks ago. She’s been back for awhile now.”

“And, what, does she think you’re having a guys night or something?”

He’s used to this shit. Nico’s dad was cheating on his wife with Nico’s mom for some seven or eight years—he knows all the excuses that his dad used to give Persephone. Working late, whenever he’d take mom to a hotel; having a night in with the guys whenever he took her back to his place. Cheating has been a part of Nico’s life for as long as he’s been alive; it shouldn’t make him feel this disgusted with himself.

Percy cocks his head, reaching out to set a hand on Nico’s knee. “No,” he whispers, slow, like he’s talking to a child. “She knew that I was with you tonight. That’s why she went to hang out with her brother for awhile.”

Nico’s brain is still buzzing. He feels like screaming.

“She knows about us.” It isn’t a question.

Percy, oblivious, has the gall to look completely confused. “Well, yeah, I told her about it right after our first kiss. She wasn’t thrilled at first, but it’s not the first time we’ve worked something out like this.” He shrugs.

“So what, you just let me think that I was making you cheat on your wife?”

It clicks and Percy’s eyes fill with horror. “Oh shit,” he whispers, and Nico laughs, bitterly. “I thought you knew. I thought—”

Anger is a familiar weight on his chest. He shouldn’t be angry, probably. Percy’s wife knows about him, so it’s no big deal, right? He doesn’t have to ignore the guilt anymore, because Annabeth is okay with it.

“I thought I was staying the night?” he asks.

Percy frowns at him. Nico can almost see his brain churning away, trying to figure out how the two questions fit together—what connection there is between them. “Yeah, you are.”

“But she was texting to see if it was safe to come back?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t sure if you’d end up actually staying the night, and didn’t get a chance to tell her before we came back here.”

Nico nods, even though his brain is insisting that none of that made sense. He’s heard of swingers and people who aren’t entirely monogamous, but he’s never really thought about it before—how it works, whether they keep schedules, if the other two people ever meet each other.

“I think I should probably go to sleep,” he hears himself saying, staggering up off the couch and in the general direction of the bedroom.

Percy and Annabeth’s bedroom is both tidy and not—the bed is unmade and there are clothes scattered here and there, but it isn’t messy. Their sheets smell like seabreeze, probably one of those fancy brands of detergent, which Nico faceplants into with a little huff.

As tired as he is, sleep won’t find him. He doesn’t know whether it’s the anger still simmering inside him or if it’s the buzz of an unfamiliar apartment. The heater kicks on, muffling the sound of the documentary still going on in the living room and he shifts, bare legs sliding against foreign sheets, and wishes that he’d brought his t-shirt and boxers in with him. It feels wrong sleeping in this bed naked.

Thirty minutes later and the heater goes off again, even though the air is still chilly. He blinks sleepily into the darkness, because now that the noise isn’t masking it, he can hear Percy’s voice in the other room. Sighing, he rolls out of bed and pads over to the door, peering into the hallway. It’s a short stretch to the kitchen, so he can see the back of Percy’s head, bent over the counter. A cell phone is pressed to his ear.

“I know, I know, it was stupid,” he’s saying and Nico, curious, ventures further into the hallway.

Whatever the person on the other end says in reply, it makes Percy cringe a little. “Trust me, Annabeth, I know. Head full of kelp, got it. Now, how do I fix it?”

He lapses into silence, apparently listening to whatever his wife is saying on the other end. He nods a few times, like he’s forgotten that she can’t see him.

“Do you really think that will work?”

Nico has no clue what she’s telling him, but whatever it is makes him chuckle. “Yeah, okay. Love you too.”

He slides the cell phone away from his ear and turns, leaning so that his back is pressed against the counter. Nico can’t see his face now, but Percy’s shoulders are tense as he massages the bridge of his nose, setting the phone down next to him.

Quietly, Nico makes his way back to the bedroom, sliding back under the sheets just as Percy tiptoes in after him. Nico waits, eyes open, staring at the play of shadows on the far side of the wall as Percy hesitates next to the bed. After a moment, he seems to make a decision, because the bed dips with his weight. Another moment, and Percy’s sliding his arms around his waist, settling his chin on Nico’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” he breathes, brushing a kiss against the back of Nico’s neck.

Nico sighs. Just like that, all the anger dissipates. Blindly, he reaches for Percy’s hand and threads their fingers together. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have gotten that upset.”

Percy makes a noise of protest, the sound hummed into Nico’s skin. “No, you should have. I was stupid for assuming that you would know.” He chuckles. It’s not a happy sound. “It’s not like this kind of thing is the norm.”

“No, it’s not,” Nico mutters, tightening his grip on Percy’s hand to let him know that he doesn’t mean it in a bad way. “But that’s okay. It’s a good thing that she’s okay with it. Weird, but good.”

He rolls over, until he can hook his ankle around Percy’s leg and haul him closer. It should feel strange as hell to have another guy’s flaccid dick pressing against his bare thigh, but somehow, it really isn’t. He cuddles closer, tucking his head beneath Percy’s chin and laughing when the older man twitches away from his breath.

“Tickles,” he mumbles, so Nico pointedly exhales again.

.

When he wakes up the next morning, he’s instantly disoriented by the unfamiliar ceiling. It’s white, same as his, but artfully spattered and ridged in the way that ‘fancier’ homes always are. The sheets are silkier, the walls are painted the blue-green of prettier ocean waters than the Atlantic, and there’s a music box sitting next to a conch shell on the nightstand. It takes him entirely too long to remember that he’s at Percy’s, and even longer to realize that the space beside him is cold and empty.

He doesn’t freak out. Why should he? This is Percy’s place, it’s not like he could have run far, so Nico disentangles himself from the sheets and stumbles around looking for his clothes. He’s not the best in the mornings, which is why it takes him another five minutes to remember that his clothes are scattered around the living room and probably still covered in crusty spunk. He scowls at the window, then shrugs and snatches an overly large shirt off the floor. It smells the same as the sheets, so he figures it can’t be too dirty, and hey, at least it covers his ass.

Upon stumbling into the hallway, the scent of eggs and bacon hits him so strongly that his mouth instantly waters.

Percy’s standing in front of the stove, a pair of boxer briefs pulled up around his hips but otherwise bare, flipping an omelette over. He’s whistling a jaunty tune that Nico doesn’t recognize, hips swaying, like he wants to dance but can’t be bothered to find a rhythm. Percy turns and gives him a bright grin when Nico, graceful as ever, bumps a pan hanging on the wall with his shoulder.

The smile lasts for maybe half a second before he snorts and turns back to the pan.

“That’s Annabeth’s, you know,” Percy remarks, sprinkling some kind of cheese on top of the omelette. Nico looks down at himself, frowning at the Mickey Mouse decal on his chest. “She gets them at Goodwill. Supposedly they’re really comfortable.”

Whatever, he doesn’t give a shit. It was on the floor, it’s not like she’ll miss it. And it is pretty damn comfortable. He shrugs, mostly to himself, and hops up onto the counter a foot or so away from where Percy’s cooking.

“You an apple juice or orange juice kinda guy?” Percy asks him, setting the omelette on a plate that’s apparently already been loaded with hash browns. There’s an identical plate sitting next to it.

“Pomegranate, actually,” Nico says dryly. “Or grapefruit if I can get it, but orange juice is better than apple.”

“One orange juice coming up.”

Nico swings his legs against the cabinets, watching with interest as Percy bends to grab the juice. He wants to lick the small of his spine, so he does, sliding off the counter smoothly and framing Percy’s backside with both hands.

Percy yelps, knocking his head against the top of the fridge, and turns to glare at him. Nico blinks up at him innocently, trailing a finger across Percy’s waistband.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

He grins. “Distracting you.”

“But the food—”

Nico shrugs. “We can reheat it later.”

“You can’t microwave omelettes,” Percy cries, like he’s personally offended, and slaps Nico’s hand away from where it had been trying to wriggle into his underwear.

“Oh come on, please? Promise it’ll be worth it,” Nico goes, rising back to his feet and backing Percy up until he’s bumping up against the cabinets. He chews his lip, just to see the way Percy’s eyes dart down to his lips, his pupils dilating, black swallowing the green.

Percy lets out a shuddering sigh, his hands trembling faintly as they go to Nico’s hips. He gives the omelettes a mournful look. “Fine, but I’m putting these in the oven on low, hopefully they’ll stay warm.”

Nico laughs, going up on tiptoes to kiss Percy’s lips—just a quick peck. He doesn’t let go, so they both shuffle awkwardly over to the oven, Nico nibbling on Percy’s neck when he leans down to slide the plates into it.

“So,” Percy says, arching an eyebrow. “What did you have in mind?”

.

The night before, the sex had been good—awkward, noses bumping, elbows clashing, and filled with entirely too much nervous laughter—but it had been good. Now that they’ve got a feel for one another, it’s easy to bend Percy over the counter and make him come apart, just Nico’s fingers and a bottle of lube, until he’s begging to be fucked, breathless, his face red.

“Well, if you insist,” Nico purrs, letting his fingers slip out of Percy and replacing them with his cock.

Last night, they’d done little more than rut together on the couch. He’d come in his pants like a twelve year old, and embarrassed, had slid down Percy’s body and finished him off with his mouth.

Like this though, spread out beneath him and half-panting, half-sobbing into the counter as Nico fucks him open slowly, Percy is absolutely glorious. Nico probably says as much, gasping it into the place between Percy’s shoulder blades, his fingers splayed open over the other man’s stomach.

“Fuck,” Percy whimpers, throwing his head back and rolling his hips against Nico’s, like he absolutely needs it. He cries out, loudly enough that Nico spares a moment of sympathy for the neighbors, and clenches around him like a vice. “Jesus christ, Nico, fuck me harder.”

Nico shudders, head to toe, and obliges.

Percy comes before he does, whining low in his throat as he goes over the edge, probably getting jizz all over the cabinets, and Nico is just about to follow him when he notices something odd out of the corner of his eye.

He ignores it, because it can wait a fucking second, okay, and makes it through two more thrusts before he’s coming.

Percy laughs when it’s over and shifts, muttering, “Budge up, this edge is killing my hips.”

Nico is careful to pull out of him slowly, but it’s still enough to make them both groan. Percy reaches over and throws a dish towel at him.

As he’s cleaning himself off, he zones out a little, staring into the living room unblinkingly, so it takes him a moment to realize what’s out of place.

There’s a girl standing there. Blonde curly hair caught on the edge of her lips, like she’d been chewing on the ends when she came in and promptly forgotten that it was still there. She’s wrapped up in a beige sweater that looks two sizes too big, a navy skirt over leggings, and knee-high boots that hug her calves comfortably. Her cheeks are wind-bitten and there’s snow on her shoulders, so she probably literally just made it inside.

He stares at her, a kitchen towel still wrapped around his dick. Percy’s muttering nonsense words behind him as he pulls the omelettes out of the oven. She stares right back, her ears going a dark, deep red. He’s never met anyone who can pull off a blush that dark, but on her, it’s not half bad.

“Hi,” he says, stupidly, blinking as she very, very slowly sets down her bag.

“Nico, what are you—” Percy starts to say, glancing over his shoulder as he’s pulling the oven mitts off. He stops. “Oh. Uh. Hi, Annabeth.”

.

There is nothing more awkward than sitting in the living room of your boyfriend’s house, naked except for said boyfriend’s wife’s t-shirt, as your boyfriend and that same wife sit across from you, slowly drinking coffee to fill the silence.

“So,” Annabeth says after a moment, clearing her throat. “You’re Nico, then?”

“Uh, yeah.”

More silence.

“And you’re Annabeth,” he adds, when neither of them seem like they’re going to say anything. Annabeth is twisting her wedding ring, the same nervous habit that Percy has, and nods jerkily.

“Yep.”

Nico takes a bite of his omelette, sadly lukewarm now, and thinks about offering her a bite. He decides against it, because warm or not, it is a damn good omelette. Percy can give her some of his.

He finishes quickly, gulps down the orange juice, and stands, awkwardly trying to keep both his ass and his balls covered. He glances around, and of course, his boxers and jeans are right next to her feet. He coughs and wonders what will be the easier option: asking her to pass him his clothes or kneeling in front of her, probably flashing his ass in the process, to gather them up.

She seems to catch on to his dilemma, following his line of sight down between her boots. She blinks, then gathers his clothes up, even going so far as to wrestle his shirt out from under Percy’s foot, and holds them out to him.

“Thanks,” he mutters. He contemplates moving to the bedroom to change, but hell, she’s already seen him balls deep in her husband, what’s a little more awkward to the morning?

He yanks his boxers on quickly, hoping he doesn’t flash her too much of his dick in the process, then quickly hitches his pants up around his hips. The zipper is appallingly loud in the quiet.

Another awkward question: whether or not he should give her shirt back now that he’s got his own back on or if he should just kind of… drop it.

“I’m sorry,” she says in a rush. He looks at her, puzzled, and finds that she’s blushing again, chewing her lip to pieces. “I shouldn’t have come back without calling first, I just figured…”

She trails off, but it was obvious what she was going to say: that she thought he’d have been gone by then. He ignores the irritation clamoring for attention and instead flashes her a wry smile. “It’s your house,” he says in a voice so saccharine sweet he almost doesn’t recognize it as his own. “And you’re right, I should probably get out of here anyway. Leo will be worried that I didn’t make it back to the dorm last night.”

No, he won’t. He might think it’s weird and ask Nico about it when he gets in, but beyond that, he won’t care. He’s used to Nico’s weird schedule.

Nico hasn’t looked at Percy once since Annabeth showed up, but he does so now, shooting him a brief, but sincere, smile. He thinks about kissing Percy goodbye, but somehow, with Annabeth sitting next to him, he feels like that might be slightly rude. After a moment, which Percy spends frowning at him like he knows that Nico’s just making excuses, he returns it, which is all the permission that Nico needs to throw his coat over his shoulder and hightail it out the door.

.

You left your wallet here. I can give it to you after class tomorrow or you can come back and get it later. Your call.

He’s read the text upwards of ten times and has started to compose just as many replies, ranging from ‘Will your wife be there?’ to ‘Fuck this shit.’ He’s deleted all of them.

It’s been an hour and he still doesn’t know what to say.

“Girl problems?” Leo asks him, half under some weird contraption that takes up most of his side of the room.

“Guy problems,” Nico responds back, unthinkingly, before he’s realized what he said. He stares at Leo’s legs, the only part of him that he can see, but Leo just makes a twitchy little movement that’s probably a shrug, and says, “That’s rough, buddy.”

Nico’s phone buzzes in his hands and he almost drops it in shock.

I’m sorry about earlier. Annabeth is really upset about it and wants me to tell you that she’s sorry too.

He bites his lip.

“Just tell him what you’re thinking, dude.”

Nico glances back over at Leo, but he’s still tinkering.

She already said that she’s sorry. But it’s okay. He sends it before realizing that he still hasn’t answered the first one, and curses.

I’ll stop by if I have time, he finally decides on. He hits send again, then tosses his cell phone across his bed.

“Fuck.”

.

He spends most of the afternoon catching up on homework and talking calculus with Leo. It’s the first time he’s really had an actual conversation with the guy and he’s pleasantly surprised that he’s not as much of an asshole as Nico thought he was. Plus, he’s an engineering student, which apparently means he’s got equations in his blood.

“I mean, I’m more of a hands on kind of guy, but the rest of it comes pretty naturally too.”

Leo shrugs with his entire body—even his curls seem to bounce. Nico snorts. He’s never been bad at math, but it’s far from his favorite subject. He zones out again, pencil scribbling out half of an equation. He pauses and erases a number.

“So, what’s up with you and your guy?” Leo asks. Nico glances over to him and is surprised to find him seated on his bed, legs folded up beneath him, and watching him. A few days ago he probably would have snapped that it was none of Leo’s business, but today, he just sighs.

“He’s got a wife,” he drawls. Leo whistles, which makes Nico’s lips twitch up into a faint grin. “No, it gets better. I stayed at his place last night and found out that she knows about us and is completely okay with it.”

Leo’s eyes are wide, his eyebrows obscured by his hairline. “Damn dude.”

“This morning she walked in on me fucking him. She wasn’t upset or anything, but it was fucking awkward.”

“What are all the texts about?”

“I left my wallet at his house. He wants to know if he should bring it to class tomorrow or if I want to pick it up.” He rakes a hand through his hair in frustration, giving up the pretence of actually doing homework completely.

“He an older student or one of those kids who get married straight out of high school?” Leo pauses, considering. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that. My mom had me right after she graduated. I’m not judging, hombre.”

Nico chuckles and stretches, taking a moment to reposition himself more comfortably against the wall. “He’s my Intro to Bio TA, actually.”

“Holy shit, you’re nailing Percy Jackson?”

Nico looks at him, surprised. “You actually know him?”

Leo grins and shakes his head. “Nah, man. But Piper’s got a class with him, which... I guess you know since you’re in that class too. Plus, he and Jason sometimes go jogging together, so I’ve seen him around. Small world.”

They lapse into companionable silence, long enough for Nico to regather his notebook and tackle three more problems. Then Leo yawns loudly, and asks, “So are you gonna pick your wallet up or not?”

Nico doesn’t answer for a long moment, thinking. “I probably will.”

Leo laughs. He looks kind of like he’s considering passing out, despite the fact that it’s barely two in the afternoon. “You should totally pick me up a sandwich or something before you come back, I’m starving.”

Nico rolls his eyes, but slides his book closed. He stands slowly, joints cracking. “Get it yourself, Valdez.”

Leo whines. “But I’m tired.”

“That isn’t an excuse.”

“Slave driver.”

Nico’s got maybe five pairs of clothes, total, so he doesn’t have any way to really bundle up against the wind, but his jacket’s pretty warm—nice and heavy. He shrugs it on and is almost out the door before he stops. “Oh, and Leo?”

“Yeah?”

He turns, nice and slow, lips spreading wide into an eerie smile. “If you tell anyone about me and Percy, I’ll have to kill you.”

Leo’s still sputtering as Nico closes the door behind him.

.

He hadn’t noticed before, too caught up in the feeling of Percy wrapped around him, but the apartment complex itself is actually pretty big, more a glorified hotel than anything. The door man lets him up when he agrees to signing in and Nico takes the elevator to the seventh floor. Apparently even fancy apartment buildings have creaky elevators—another thing that he hadn’t noticed when he was with Percy.

He comes to a stop in front of their door, glaring at it for entirely too long while he works up the nerve to knock.

Annabeth answers, her eyes brightening when she sees him. “Nico,” she says, warmly. “I’m really sorry about this morning—”

He cuts her off. “It’s fine.”

She nibbles on her lower lip, shrugging. “If you say so. C’mon in, the hallway is freezing.”

It’s really not. The hallway is probably ten degrees warmer than his and Leo’s dorm room, but he’s not about to tell her that. She steps aside and he thanks her, following her in.

“I was actually going to ask if you wanted to stay for dinner,” she tells him, shutting the door behind him. “I know it seems weird, but Percy’s making striped bass, and it’s about the only thing he can cook without burning.”

There’s a shower running somewhere in the apartment, which is probably where Percy is.

“It’s only three, though,” he points out. She laughs. It’s a warm sound, deeper than most girl’s laughs usually are. It suits her, as does the way her eyes glitter mischieviously when she smirks at him.

“It is,” she agrees. “But we have to catch dinner first.”

.

It’s a forty some minute walk from their apartment to Battery Park. Unfortunately, it takes even longer since they’re carting two fishing poles and an ice box full of lures and various other paraphernalia along with them, but Percy assures him that the walk is easier than wrestling everything into a cab, or worse, onto a bus. It isn’t snowing anymore at least.

“November snows are the worst,” Annabeth tells him fiercely, brushing the little pom-pom dangling from her hat out of her face as she fights with the fishing pole. On Nico’s other side, Percy laughs and casts his line. She grimaces at him and hisses, “Show off.”

Nico knows absolutely nothing about fishing, so for the first hour, he just watches the two of them bicker. Eventually though, Annabeth looks over her shoulder and raises an eyebrow at him.

“You want to give it a try?” she asks. He shakes his head, so vehemently that he makes himself dizzy. She laughs at him.

“Aw, c’mon,” Percy wheedles. He’s already caught one small striper and a medium sized one that Annabeth had scoffed at.

“Nope, no way.”

Percy rolls his eyes and sticks his tongue out at Nico, like he’s still twelve years old and taunting na-na-na-boo-boo while holding Nico’s lunch box above his head. Nico tucks his hands deeper into his pocket, because it’s cold down by the water, dammit. He has no idea why he agreed to this.

Annabeth is watching him, a shrewd look in her eye. He’s barely known her for more than a few hours total, but it is glaringly obvious how much cleverer than Percy she is. He’s not sure if he wants to know what her IQ is if she’s barely twenty four and already has a job designing buildings.

Annabeth nods decisively to herself and props the pole up against the pier. Nico blinks at her as she steps up into his space, unwinding the warm-looking blue scarf from around her neck and hooking it around his. She loops it around his neck twice, her fingers softly brushing against his jaw, before grinning at him and zipping her jacket all the up to her chin.

“There you go. Now you won’t freeze on us,” she says happily, and goes right back to waiting for something to bite.

The scarf is warm, soft too, nothing like the scratchy wool scarves that Bianca had always worn. He wonders if it’s hand-knit and if so, whether she did it herself or got it as a gift.

In the end, they end up with three of the small ones, two medium-sized, and one huge one that Percy had hauled out of the water thirty minutes before the sun started going down.

Carrying everything back is about a million times worse with the addition of six fish, so by the time they get back to the apartment, the sun has been down for a little over an hour.

“You two are exhausting,” he confesses, dropping onto the couch like a bag of bricks. His hands are red and angry looking from the cold. Experimentally, he breathes on them and rubs them together. It doesn’t help much.

Annabeth slumps onto the couch next to him, undoing her coat as she goes. She tosses it over to the armchair and shivers. “We aren’t that bad,” she protests, fumbling around for the remote. She finds it wedged between the couch cushions. “And hey, hard part’s over. Now we just get to relax while Percy slaves away in the kitchen.”

She winks at him, quick as a flash, and flips on the tv.

Dinner should be about as awkward as his first meeting with her, but Nico’s surprised by how much he actually likes Annabeth. She’s probably the most easy-going person he’s ever met and the hour that he spends watching television with her on the couch as the smell of grilled fish fills the apartment is more enjoyable than he would have thought. They go from watching a rerun of Will and Grace to debating—of all things—classic Greek literature. She pulls out multiple dusty old tomes to back up her points, reading through Ancient Greek like it’s her first language.

By the time Percy actually calls for them, they’re cheerfully discussing Percy’s teaching skills in the classroom.

“Aw man, don’t gossip about me. Foul play!”

“But I never get to hear about your adventures in the classroom,” Annabeth tells him, grinning at him affectionately. “Nico’s been very informative.”

Percy frowns at them. He looks silly, huge oven mitts over his hands. Whatever he’s holding between them smells delicious though.

“I don’t even want to know what he’s been telling you, do I?”

Nico snorts. Percy’s good at teaching, so besides for that one incident with the stoner and the dog, there aren’t really a lot of bad stories to tell her. They’d mostly been talking about how stupidly passionate Percy was about ocean stuff and how sometimes he got sidetracked from actual biology and started ranting about how cool fish skeletons are. Annabeth smirks over at him mischieviously. Let him think it’s all bad.

Percy serves both of them, spooning carrots and fresh green beans onto their plates beside the fish, and the next few minutes pass in silence. It’s different this time, than all the other times he’s eaten with Percy. Just awkward enough that he starts noticing all the small things—how Percy doesn’t chew with his mouth open but still manages to chew loudly anyway, how Annabeth grips her fork with her pinky jutting out, like the fork is an old, antique tea cup. It’s cute.

“So, this is probably pretty weird,” he says, taking a bite of his fish. He has no idea what all Percy seasoned it with, but it’s… spicy. Lemon-y. He thinks he likes it.

The table’s small enough that they’d had to grab a chair from the other side of the house to make room for Nico—small enough that their knees all knock together underneath it and most of the time, he doesn’t know which one of them to apologize to, so he doesn’t. On his right, Annabeth shrugs.

“A little, but we’ve had worse dinners.” She raises an eyebrow at him, a wry grin creeping across her face. “My mother,” she explains. “Is a very severe woman.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Percy snorts. “When she first met me, she hated me. She probably still does, but at least I don’t feel like she’s going to snap and slit my throat with a steak knife anymore.”

“She wouldn’t have killed you,” Annabeth assures him, rolling her eyes. “She was just trying to scare you and you know it.”

“Well, it worked.”

“My dad is the richest man in Manhattan,” Nico tells them when the silence seems like it’s going to take over again. “My older sister took off to go make the world a better place, so now that she’s gone, I get to be the one to take over his company. The awkward dinners with him and my stepmother are the worst.”

Annabeth looks like she’s about to ask him what company before she bites her lip, visibly deciding against it.

“I didn’t know you had a sister,” Percy says. He crunches into a green bean.

Nico shrugs. “I actually have two, apparently, but I’ve never met my half-sister. She lives in New Orleans.” He takes another bite of his fish and chews for a minute before swallowing.

Annabeth makes a face. “I’ve got half-siblings on both sides. Malcolm’s not too bad, but my dad’s other kids are…”

“Different,” Percy puts in.

“Yeah. They aren’t bad people, but we aren’t close.”

They make small talk for the rest of dinner. It’s still awkward, having dinner with Percy and his wife, but it’s not as bad as it could have been. When they’re all done, he and Annabeth do the dishes. He’s never felt so domestic.

“Did you wanna stay over?” Annabeth asks as they’re setting the last of the plates out to dry. “It’s pretty late.”

He glances at the clock, surprised to realize that it is actually pretty late, going on ten. He doesn’t want to think about staying over though, mostly because he has no idea where he’d sleep. Probably the couch, but then, that would be insanely awkward, watching Percy and Annabeth go to sleep in the bed that he’d slept in with Percy the night before.

In the end, he shakes his head. “I should probably get back to the dorm. Somebody,” he says loudly, head turned pointedly towards the living room. “Decided to schedule a biology test in the morning.”

As they round the corner, he catches the tail-end of Percy’s laughter. Nico likes the way Percy laughs, his eyes crinkled up at the corners, open-mouthed and unhindered. Apparently Annabeth does too, because her eyes go all soft, crossing the space between them to drop a quick kiss on Percy’s brow.

“It won’t be too bad,” Percy tells him. “I could give you the answer key, but that would be cheating.”

Nico rolls his eyes, lingering in the doorway for another moment, just watching the two of them—Percy curled up on the couch, thumb tucked into Annabeth’s belt hoop.

He goes to grab his coat from the hallway and when he comes back, both of them are standing there, waiting for him.

“It was nice meeting you, Annabeth,” Nico says, giving her a brief smile. She returns it, happily, and for a second, he’s terrified that she’s going to try to hug him.

“It was nice to meet you, too,” she says instead.

He turns to Percy, and for the second time today, is unsure whether or not he should kiss him goodbye. “I’ll see you in class tomorrow,” Nico says, fidgeting with his zipper.

“Make sure you study.”

He snorts, turning to go before he stops, chewing on his lip.

“You can kiss him goodbye, you know,” Annabeth says from behind him, sounding amused. He has no idea if she’s talking to him or Percy, but it’s Percy who draws him back a moment later, turning Nico with a hand on his waist.

Even knowing it’s coming, the kiss still catches Nico off guard. He makes a smothered, soft sound in his throat as Percy presses closer, sliding his other hand into Nico’s hair as he guides their lips together.

It takes his breath away, kissing Percy. It always does, but this time is more somehow, with Annabeth standing there watching him. Heat flares low in Nico’s belly as their teeth knock together.

By the time he pulls away, his cheeks feel like they’re on fire and his dick is almost half-hard. Nico watches as Percy brings his hand up to Nico’s face, fingers shakily tracing over his lips. He sucks in a surprised breath and nips at Percy’s thumb, gently. Percy’s eyes are dark pools, pupils a black hole that he might just want to drown in.

He steps back out of the circle of Percy’s arms, darting a look over to Annabeth. She’s studying them, a contemplative look on her face, and after another long second, her eyes meet Nico’s.

Later, he’ll tell himself that he was imagining the heat in them, the hunger that she quickly masked. Now, he just fumbles behind him for the doorknob, caught in the gravitational pull between them.

He goes.

.

“How was it?” Leo asks him, when Nico lets himself into their room. “I see you didn’t bring me my sandwich.”

“I told you to get it yourself,” Nico sighs, dropping onto his bed. He gropes around for his pillow and tugs it up to his face. He wants to scream into it, wants to jerk off, wants to go right back to Percy’s apartment and sleep tucked between them. He’s supposed to be gay, dammit, not taking one look at Percy’s wife and deciding that okay, yeah, she might have tits but her brain is hot as hell and he really wouldn’t mind seeing what she looks like while orgasming.

“That good, huh?”

He buries his face further into the pillow and tries not to scream.

.

The next few weeks are weird. He doesn’t see Annabeth again, even though he goes home with Percy a couple times a week. He keeps expecting to look up and see her standing there, watching him bite down on her pillow as her husband works himself into Nico. Percy will have his head thrown back as Nico rides him and he’ll think about it—her walking in on them again, whether this time he’d watch her back, see the expressions unfold on her face as her gaze licks at their bodies of if he’d clamber off of Percy, face red. After, he’ll wonder if he should feel guilty about this, and after that, he’ll wonder if this means that he actually does like girls.

November gives way to December and all the shops that had tried to hold back until after Thanksgiving explode with Christmas decorations. With that comes the realization that he has no idea what to get Percy for Christmas. Should he even get him a present? Will Percy buy him something? Boyfriends are supposed to buy their significant others presents, aren’t they? For that matter, should he buy something for Annabeth? He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do for his boyfriend’s wife. Hell, it’s not like there’s a manual for it, and he is so out of his depth here that it’s not even funny.

He calls Bianca about it and she laughs until he hangs up on her.

He’s just leaving Percy’s classroom one day, contemplating whether he should just say fuck it and go home, maybe actually start studying for his finals instead of waiting until the last minute, or wait until Percy’s done with the other students when someone taps him on the back.

He turns, careful of the swing of his bag, and finds Annabeth grinning at him.

She looks like a marshmallow, he thinks, and snorts.

She whaps him with the end of her scarf, and says, “Don’t laugh at me! It’s warm.”

“I’ll bet it is,” he tells her, still chuckling. He pokes at the coat, just to see how far it’ll dent inwards before he hits skin. He catches Piper’s eye as she’s coming out of the classroom and responds to her raised eyebrow with a roll of his eyes. She shrugs at him and hitches her books up higher, going on her way.

“Hello, husband,” Annabeth says cheerily to the space just over Nico’s shoulder. “I’m kidnapping your boy for the day.”

Nico glances behind him, to where Percy’s regarding them both with something between confusion and amusement.

“And if I had plans?” he asks dryly, sidling closer so that the curious students around them won’t hear.

Annabeth laughs. “Nope, he’s all mine. Your loss.”

Her hand catches Nico’s and she gives Percy one last wave before dragging him towards the exit.

.

“So, are you going to tell me exactly why you’re kidnapping me?” he asks her later, when she’s stopped to buy them both hot chocolate off of a nearby street vendor. She throws him a grin over her shoulder as she’s handing the man a bit too much money. She takes the chocolate, blowing on both cups before handing one over to Nico.

“We’re going Christmas shopping,” she explains, blowing some more on hers before taking a cautious sip. She grimaces, so he refrains from drinking his just yet. “I’ll bet you’re having issues with Percy’s, and well, shopping is always better with someone else to share your pain.”

He laughs, then apologizes to the middle-aged woman that he accidentally bumped into. “I thought all women liked shopping,” he teases.

“That’s sexist,” she sing-songs. “Stereotyping is lame, Nico. C’mon, get with the times.”

He snorts and follows her into some shop with a name that he can’t pronounce.

It’s apparently a pet shop. Why a pet shop would have a strange, exotic, and possibly french title he has no idea, but fuck, it is New York City.

“Why are we in a pet shop?” he asks her curiously, staring at the little fenced in area where three tiny puppies are clamboring for the attention of a group of school children.

“I want to get Percy something that isn’t a sweater or a watch, so you are here to help me pick out an aquarium and some fish.”

He stares at her, but she’s already making her way over to the tanks.

“Salt water?” he asks when he catches up to her.

She snorts. “Duh.”

The tank that she is looking at is about as tall as he is. He doesn’t even want to look at the price tag.

“You’d have to get rid of one of your bookcases for that one,” he tells her, squinting over her shoulder at some of the smaller tanks. She sighs and mournfully moves to the next one.

By the time someone actually comes up to help them they’ve already decided on one of the 50 gallon tanks and a couple of the fish, having an argument over whether they should get one of the anglers or not.

The sales lady's name tag reads Alex in big, uneven letters, as if somebody was drunk when they tried to print it. With her help, they decide on what kind of live coral they should get based on the level of care it needs.

They leave the store after the lady assures them that they can deliver the aquarium and everything in a day or so, and that no, they don’t need to come back to pick up the fish themselves.

“Anyone else you need to buy for?” Nico asks her, stuffing his hands deeper into his coat.

“My mom, Percy’s mom, and my dad,” she responds, sounding distracted. “I’ll probably pick up something for Thalia, Luke, and Clarisse while I’m out, but they’re easy to shop for. You?”

She turns back to face him, her eyes bright.

He blinks at her—her stupid marshmallow coat and her sharp, clever eyes—and for the first time, actually considers kissing her.

“My sister,” he finally tells her, tearing his eyes away. “And probably my dad.”

She hums at him and he knows without even looking at her that she’s assessing him, her shrewd eyes picking him apart. He doesn’t know if he likes it or not. Signs point to yes.

“Want to get some lunch first?”

.

Annabeth introduces him to a Greek place a couple blocks away and he eats his salad in silence, watching her devour her gyro.

“You should have gotten one,” she informs him, licking tzatziki sauce from her lips.

“Greek salads are great though.”

“Not as great as this,” she says and offers him a bite. She laughs when he ends up getting a lapful of lamb.

.

By the time they make it back to her and Percy’s apartment, they’re both laden down with shopping bags, legs burning.

“God, I need to exercise more,” he huffs as they climb into the elevator. It creaks ominously around them as he pants for breath, letting two of the bags slump to his feet. She doesn’t laugh at him, but she is smiling in a way that makes him think she’s probably trying not to.

“You can always go walking with me sometime,” she offers as she’s sliding her key into the lock. She pushes the door open for him and he nods gratefully, staggering inside.

“I’m not much of a walking kind of guy. If I could teleport everywhere, I would do it.”

The apartment is warm and smells of cinnamon, which is weird for about three seconds before Annabeth gives a little shriek, drops all her bags, and flings herself into Percy’s arms. “You made your mom’s cookies! Oh my god, please tell me they’re blue.”

Nico doesn’t really get it, but Percy gives her this faux-offended look, and says, “Of course they’re blue.”

“We need hot chocolate,” she says, smiling. Then, “Nico, go make us some hot chocolate. There’s Swiss Miss in the cabinet on the left.”

Nico snorts, rolling his eyes at Percy, and goes to ransack their kitchen.

Fifteen minutes later they’re all in the living room as Percy unpauses yet another documentary, Nico on one side of the couch and Percy on the other, Annabeth happily munching on a cookie—which is very blue—between them.

“So how’d your day go?” Percy asks him, leaning around Annabeth to see him better.

“Christmas shopping is evil,” he tells Percy, deadpan. Beside him, Annabeth snorts and holds out a fist. Bemused, he bumps it.

“You should stay over tonight,” Percy says, later, as he’s scrolling through movies. Annabeth has nodded off on Nico’s shoulder and he’s gone so still to avoid disturbing her that his muscles ache.

“You should play that,” Nico says instead of replying, watching as Percy scrolls back to get to the movie.

“Treasure Planet?” Percy asks, tone disbelieving. Nico shrugs, thinking of watching the movie with Bianca when it first came out, how he’d watched, starry-eyed, and dreamed about being a space pirate.

“I like it,” he whispers, shifting a little so that his arm isn’t completely pinned beneath Annabeth. Thankfully, she doesn’t wake up.

He has the beginning speech to this movie memorized, though he’d never admit it to anyone except maybe Bianca, but it still gets to him, his heart surging with emotion when the narrator finishes up and it cuts to an older Jim. He mouths it to himself —There are nights when the winds of the Etherium, so inviting in their promise of flight and freedom, made one's spirit soar.

Percy’s looking at him, he can tell, his face flushing as he studiously avoids Percy’s gaze.

“Where would I sleep?” he asks softly after a moment. Annabeth snores. Not much, just these kittenish little things that puff up against his neck. It’s adorable.

Percy is silent, so Nico finally turns to look at him.

The blue glow of the screen is reflecting off of his cheekbones and there’s this quiet, affectionate look in his eyes, so unspeakably warm that Nico feels like an intruder just for catching a glimpse of it. He’s got an arm up on the side of the couch, his head pillowed on it as he watches Nico.

“You could sleep with us,” Percy whispers. “Annabeth wouldn’t mind.”

Nico bites his lip, unable to tear his gaze away from Percy’s. “Maybe,” he concedes. “I’ll think about it.”

Percy’s smile broadens. “That’s all I’m asking.”

.

Sometime later, Percy nudges him awake. The TV is dark, so Nico has to blink before Percy comes into focus, his eyes slowly adjusting to the dark.

“Come to bed,” he invites, hand warm on Nico’s thigh.

Nico blinks once and yawns, stretching, before he heaves himself off the couch and stumbles towards the bedroom. Behind him, he can hear Percy waking Annabeth the same way, his voice low and coaxing as she groans at him.

He sheds his clothes as he goes, yanking his shirt off over his head and shimmying out of his jeans before he collapses face-first onto the bed. A moment later, it dips beneath Annabeth’s weight as she crawls in next to him, cuddling up to him unthinkingly, like a sleepy cat. Percy chuckles and then he’s getting in on Nico’s other side, pressing himself warmly up against Nico’s back.

He has just long enough to think on how nice it is, how comfortable it is between them before the warm dark coaxes him back to sleep.

.

Nico wakes up the next morning to the feel of Percy’s arm looped around his waist and Annabeth’s curls tickling his nose. She’s got one leg hooked around his and her knee is pressed just right against his morning wood for it to feel awesome. For a moment or two, he just lies there, blinking up at their ceiling and leeching their body heat. It’s warm under the sheets, pressed tight between two people, and he doesn’t want to wake up.

He has class though. Not Percy’s class, or else he’s pretty sure Percy would already be up despite the fact that it’s… six AM. He hesitates a moment more, an idea gnawing away at his brain. It would be so easy to just roll over and kiss one of them awake. He knows how Percy would react. Percy would groan and sleepily respond to his touches until he’d eventually roll over onto Nico, grinning as he rocked their hips together. But how would Annabeth react if he kissed her? Would she wake sleepily like her husband, grinning and early-morning affectionate, or would she realize it was Nico and push him away?

He doesn’t know.

But he wants to find out, and that’s enough to scare him out of the bed.

Extricating himself without waking either of them is challenging, but he’s always liked puzzles, and eventually, manages to get himself free. He watches as they gravitate towards each other now that he’s gone, seeking each other out in the hope of more body heat.

He thinks about waking them up again—albeit in a slightly different way—about raiding their kitchen to make them breakfast in bed or something equally cheesy, but sets the idea aside for later.

It’s strange, going down their hallway while they’re both still asleep. The apartment is dimly lit, because the sun is rising on the other side of the building, but there’s still little streams of blue light making it through the blinds. He wanders into the kitchen and grabs a glass of water along with a slightly scuffed apple, his brain cautiously nudged into wakefulness.

He dithers about for thirty minutes, hoping that one of them will wake up so he doesn’t feel quite so much like he’s sneaking off after a one-night stand, but when he peeks back into the bedroom, they’re both still sleeping, Annabeth’s hair spilled across Percy’s collarbone.

It isn’t hard to find a blank sheet of paper and he finds a dying pen on the counter in the kitchen. The note he scrawls is pretty lame, full of hastily scribbled out sentences, but he leaves it on Percy’s bedside table anyways, underneath a conch shell.

It’ll have to do, he thinks, shutting their door quietly behind him.

.

“Finals suck,” Jason complains, later that day.

He, Nico, and Piper are all sitting in Nico and Leo’s dorm room, poring over notes while Leo gets them snacks from the kitchen. Piper makes a pathetic little noise of agreement and collapses sideways onto Jason’s shoulder.

“It could probably be worse,” Nico says blankly, blinking down at Piper’s neat handwriting. No matter how neat, his eyes refuse to bring the words into focus.

“Yeah,” Piper snorts. “We could have our asshole professor making the biology exam instead of Percy. Clearly we need to throw out all our study guides and study fish.”

“What’s that about fish?” Leo asks, edging sideways into the room, face obscured by a tower of food.

“Jackson.” Jason tells him, reaching over to steady the food as Leo tries to set it neatly on his desk. A bag of dried fruit topples onto Nico’s lap despite their efforts.

Oh,” Leo goes, drawing the word out so it’s one long repetitive stream of vowels. Well, vowel, singular, just repeated. Is it still plural if it’s the same vowel? He’s leering at Nico, wiggling his eyebrows, and Nico has just long enough to realize what he’s about to do before Leo opens his mouth again and says, “So how is he anyway? I’m not gay or anything, but Jackson does kind of have the body of a god.”

The room goes quiet. Nico breathes out slowly, letting his eyes slide closed, and tries to will himself not to kill his roommate. Piper already knew about his crush and probably suspected something, he rationalizes. Jason also isn’t about to go blabbing everywhere, especially not against Piper’s wishes. He’s a good guy, unlike blabbermouth Leo fucking Valdez.

“Aw, hell,” Leo says, finally realizing as the silence stretches what he just said.

“Wait,” Jason starts slowly. “You’re banging Jackson?”

Nico, hesitantly, opens his eyes. Piper, for her part, has her hand against her forehead, slowly shaking her head, but there’s a small smile curling her lips. Leo looks absolutely horrified, while Jason just looks bemused.

“That was his wife, wasn’t it,” Piper says after another moment, looking at him carefully. “The one in the huge coat who ambushed you after class the other day.”

Nico bites his lip. “Yeah, that was her,” he tells Piper, shifting awkwardly. A page of calculus notes crumples under his foot, so he takes a second to smooth it out again before saying, “She took me Christmas shopping. We got Percy a fish tank.”

“Aw man,” Leo goes, eyes wide. “Shit’s serious, isn’t it?”

Nico looks at all of them—the understanding slowly unfolding across Jason’s face, the not-quite sympathy on Leo’s, and Piper’s arched eyebrow, her affectionately exasperated expression—and doesn’t even think about hesitating before saying, “I think I’m falling for her too.”

.

He doesn’t see Percy or Annabeth much in the next week, despite being in Percy’s class. Finals week isn’t what the movies made it out to be. It sucks ass, plain and simple. By the fourth day, he’s frustrated enough that when one of the upperclassmen offers him a bottle of vodka, he spends the entire night getting spectacularly drunk. He regrets it the next morning, but for those couple hours, he’s okay.

Through it all, there’s a nagging fear, that now that he’s not going to be in Percy’s class, they’re going to be over; that maybe Percy was only fucking him because of how taboo it was, to be screwing one of his students. Then, through that, there’s the Annabeth thing—how she’s featuring in his dreams more and more—how he finds himself thinking about both her and Percy.

By the time he’s done with finals, all he wants to do is pass out for a week and a half. Instead, Percy shows up at his dorm room, grinning at Leo when he opens the door, and beckoning at Nico. Annabeth pops out from behind him and it’s her appearance, not Leo’s low wolf-whistle,  that makes Nico realize that they’re dressed up. Annabeth has a nice winter coat on over a blue cocktail dress, sapphires glinting against her ears, and her hair is down—all soft curls down to her waist. Percy’s wearing a fucking three piece suit and a tie.

“Damn, dude,” Leo says.

“We’re taking you out to celebrate,” Annabeth tells him, sashaying her way inside and tugging Nico up off the bed. He groans at her.

“Devil woman,” he cries, pathetically flopping backwards when she lets go. She rolls her eyes and detours over to his closet.

“He’s got a suit in the back,” Leo calls helpfully, and Percy laughs, the sound much closer than Nico expected. When he looks, Percy’s standing over him, a hand outstretched. Grudgingly, he takes it, allowing himself to be yanked to his feet.

Annabeth makes a pleased sound when she finds the suit, tossing it down on his bed and grabbing something else out of her purse, which she chucks down on top of it.

It’s a little square box.

He just looks at her. She winks, and cajoles, “Just open it. It’s an early Christmas present. But put the suit on first.”

Annabeth is actually the one who helps him into his suit, kicking both Percy and Leo to the door, like they haven’t both seen him naked, for very different reasons. When he’s done, she lets Percy turn back around, though Leo makes his excuses, bumps Nico’s fist, and gives them some privacy.

He opens the box carefully and finds two things inside. The first is a pair of tiny, silver anchor shaped cufflinks. The second is a tie that perfectly matches both Annabeth’s dress and Percy’s tie.

The look that he gives them, eyebrow arched, is almost incredulous, but his hands are trembling as he hands the tie over to Annabeth so she can knot it properly. Percy quietly starts to attach the cufflinks, his head bent low over Nico’s wrists. There’s a swelling sensation beneath Nico’s ribcage, emotion filling the spaces between his bones, and he blinks rapidly, willing himself not to tear up over something this cheesy.

“There,” Annabeth says, softly. “Now all of us match.”

.

They take him out to a stupidly fancy place in downtown Manhattan, one of those types of places that people only go to if they’re trying to impress investors or about to propose to their girlfriend. To his knowledge, neither of those things apply to them, unless it’s about Nico’s investment in Percy’s dick.

It’s a quiet dinner though, nowhere near as awkward as he would have thought. Annabeth winks and lets him sip red wine from her glass when Percy isn’t looking. The food portions are tiny, but Nico’s surprised by the fact that the obscure combinations are actually delicious together. It makes his head spin, to realize that all those food critics on the food network hadn’t been bullshitting.

When dinner is over, they take him down to the docks overlooking the river. It’s all very romantic, even if he spends most of the evening huddled between them and shivering while they poke fun at him.

Then they drop him off back at his dorm and while he’s reeling, Annabeth leans forward and kisses him on the cheek.

“We had a great time tonight,” she tells him. “Hopefully you did, too.”

He smiles shyly at both her and Percy. This is the moment where he’d invite them in with a coy smile if Leo wasn’t surely behind the door.

“I did have a good time,” he says, still smiling. Quick as lightning, he leans in and presses twin kisses to each of their cheeks. “Thank you.”

“Wanna come over tomorrow and help us hang the Christmas lights?” Percy asks, smirking.

Tomorrow he’s supposed to be at his father’s house, making small talk with Persephone and pretending that it isn’t painful, without Bianca or his mother. Tomorrow he should be helping his dad with the company, learning the ropes during his Christmas break.

“I’d love to,” he tells them both warmly.

.

Unfortunately, the next morning, he’s woken up by frantic knocking on his door. Across the room, Leo groans. Nico blinks the sleep from his eyes, the ceiling coming into focus blurrily. The knocking starts up again.

“Dude, you awake?”

Nico glares over at Leo’s form, positively swaddled in sheets. The only thing he can see of Leo is his arm flung up over what’s probably his head, judging by the curls poking out from under it.

Nico yawns. “Yeah.”

“Then get the door,” Leo whines.

“Why the hell can’t you do it?”

A sleepy brown eye peers at him squintily from under the pillows. “If you really think it’s for me, you’ve got another thing coming. Face it, dude, your life is kind of out of control.”

Nico groans. “Maybe they’ll go away,” he says hopefully, only to curse when the knocking starts up again. Groggily, he swings his legs over the bed and staggers his way over to the door, dodging piles of clothing.

When he pulls the door open, he blinks for a moment, rubbing sleep from his eyes. There’s a girl on the other side, one he’s never seen before. She’s pretty, his half-asleep brain points out helpfully—smooth dark skin and curly cinnamon colored hair, bright eyes that look almost gold in the dim light of the hallway. She isn’t dressed for New York during December at all though, which is what throws him off the most. She isn’t even wearing a jacket, just stands there shivering in a t-shirt and jeans, and is she crazy? There’s snow melting in her hair!

“Why the hell aren’t you wearing a jacket?” he asks her, brain still insisting that he go to bed. She blinks at him and this is when he realizes that her eyes are red and puffy, like she’s been crying. Instantly, he’s wide-awake, peering out the door around her like he can spot an attacker or something. He peers closely at her, but can’t find a trace of bruising and her clothes look fine. “Are you okay? Did someone hurt you? I can call security.”

She stares at him and those are tears welling up in her eyes, shit.

“Are you Nico di Angelo?” she asks, sniffling.

Bemused, he nods.

She bites her lip, wrapping her arms around her midsection and hunching in on herself—just a bit, but enough to raise alarms all over again. When she looks back up at him, her eyes are awash in nervousness and grief. He’s getting flashbacks to when Bianca looked at him like that, just before she told him that she was leaving.

“I-” she starts shakily, so nervous that she has to cut herself off and clear her throat. “My mother just died and she told me that I should find you first before I tried to find my dad.”

Behind him, Leo is shifting around in bed, grumbling at him to close the door because he’s letting all the heat out, but Nico pays him no mind. He’s too busy trying to figure out why this girl’s mother told her to find him to worry about heat, or even that he’s standing in front of a stranger in his boxers.

“I’m sorry,” he tells her, frowning. “Do I know you?”

She flushes, her jaw twitching minutely. “Sorry, I’m Hazel. Hazel Levesque,” she says, chewing on her lip again. His eyes widen, because he knows that name—knows it from birth certificates that he wasn’t supposed to see in his father’s study. He doesn’t need her to tell him anymore, because he gets it before she even tells him in a quiet voice, “I’m your sister.”

.

He invites her in, much to Leo’s chagrin, and throws her his blanket and a box of cheez-its while he’s at it.

“So, why exactly did you come to New York without a coat?” he asks curiously as he rifles through his stuff for a jacket or something that won’t dwarf her completely.

When he turns to eye her over his shoulder, she’s sitting cross-legged on his bed with the blanket draped over her shoulders, quietly munching on crackers. She shifts a little, tucking her toes further beneath her knees. “I didn’t really have a lot of time to pack,” she tells him slowly. “The bank seized our house the day after the funeral. I… didn’t know where to go.”

“How’d you find me?” he asks, shaking out a sweater and slowly getting to his feet.

She gives him a wry look. “Google. Dad isn’t exactly a low figure guy, so it wasn’t hard to find an article that mentioned his son going here. After that, I just asked administration and one of the people downstairs let me in with their keycard.”

He hands her the sweater and she gives him a grateful look, shrugging it on over her t-shirt. He reaches for a handful of cheez-its and for a moment, there’s just the light sounds of Leo snoring and the crunching of crackers.

Nico swallows his handful and glances at the clock. It’s still stupid o’clock, but at least some places might be open now.

“So,” he starts. “Did you wanna go see Dad or hang out with me for a bit? He’s… kind of busy this time of year, so I don’t know if we’d be able to see him for awhile without an appointment.”

Part of that’s a lie. His dad is always busy, not just this time of year. The part about the appointment is true enough—his original plan for the day was to avoid Persephone at their house until his dad got back from work. She hesitates, the nerves that were mostly gone back on her face.

“Uh, did you have any plans today?”

It’s his turn to hesitate, thinking of decorating with Annabeth and Percy in their apartment—the smiles on both of their faces when he’d agreed. He wonders how they’d react if he brought Hazel along—probably with open arms and happy smiles, but he still… it’s weird with them. They kind of took him on a date and he’s been having sex with Percy for months, but he still isn’t quite sure where he stands with them. And how do you explain to a half-sister that you just met that you’re going to go decorate for Christmas with your boyfriend and his wife?

“I was supposed to help my… friends decorate for Christmas,” he says slowly, chucking a pillow in Leo’s direction when he chuckles, apparently not as asleep as Nico thought. He watches her face fall and winces. “You can come if you want? Or I can cancel if you’d rather not.”

“Wouldn’t that be weird for them?” Hazel asks, puzzled. He snorts.

“They’ll be fine, I’m sure they won’t mind.”

.

They don’t mind. After Nico’s bought Hazel breakfast, he drags her down to the Jackson’s residence and introduces her to a sleepy-eyed Annabeth and Percy.

“Of course we don’t mind,” Annabeth says warmly, hands wrapped around a steaming coffee mug. She’s still in her pajamas—fuzzy blue pants with winking snowmen and t-shirt that may have once been Nico’s. Percy is yawning next to her, but smiles in agreement when Nico looks to him.

Decorating is interesting, mostly because Nico’s never really done it before.

Percy and Annabeth have a fake tree that Percy apparently loathes, but they put it up anyway, bickering good-naturedly as Hazel and Nico pass them various ornaments that look as old as they are.

“My mom used to give me ornaments every Christmas,” Percy explains, as Nico passes him an old, tacky ornament that looks like it was made in the late eighties. “We also inherited a bunch of her old decorations when I moved out.”

Annabeth snorts, then grins. “Our tree may be gaudy, but it makes Sally smile when she visits, so the decorations stay.”

For her part, Hazel is mostly quiet. Nico doesn’t hold it against her; he’d probably be quiet too if he barely knew anyone in the house.

When they’re done with the tree, Percy and Nico are elected to go out and string lights outside on the tiny balcony while Hazel and Annabeth bond with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. It’s freezing outside, the wind whipping across their faces viciously enough that Nico has to trek his way back inside and snag two of Annabeth’s scarves to wind around both his and Percy’s lower faces.

“So, sister, huh?” Percy asks him, fiddling with the staple gun, his upper half thrust out over the edge. It makes Nico want to grab for his belt and make sure that he isn’t going to go over the edge and end up a pancake seven stories down.

“Yeah,” he goes, distractedly, twisting at a bulb and letting out a cry of triumph when the string of lights flicker back to life.

“Isn’t that kind of weird?” Percy asks him, throwing Nico a bemused look over his shoulder. “Having her just show up out of the blue one day?”

Nico shrugs, because yeah, it is pretty damn weird, but he’s known about her existence for long enough that he feels like he should have expected something like this. Also, she’s his sister. “A little, but I don’t mind much. I’ll have to talk to my dad, which will suck, but I was going to have to do that anyway.”

He frowns, shivering as Percy secures the last of the lights. When Percy turns back to him, there’s a soft smile on his face, and he makes grabby motions until he gets his hands on Nico’s hips—using his hold to drag Nico forward until they’re pressed together. Percy’s smiles are always quick to turn to grins, so Nico’s already expecting it when Percy tries to slips his cold hands down the back of his pants. They tussle until Percy finally gives up and just slips them into Nico’s back pocket. He rubs their noses together, his eyes bright and affectionate.

The whole ‘eyes are the window to the soul’ thing has always seemed overrated to Nico, but Percy gives it a whole new meaning. Sonnets should be written about eyes like his, his emotions so plain to see that it takes Nico’s breath away.

“Kiss me,” Nico breathes, and Percy laughs, his breath white smoke weaving between them.

“Okay,” Percy teases, pecking him once on each cheek. When Nico glares at him, he laughs again, delighted, and kisses all over Nico’s face—brushing kisses against his jaw, his brow, his eyelids, the very tip of his cold nose—until finally, Nico growls and tugs him down to kiss him properly.

He doesn’t pull away for quite some time.

.

Nico doesn’t just install Hazel at his dad’s place and leave. Instead, they have a very stilted, awkward dinner where he blackmails their dad into paying for her hotel and then drops her off, leaving her with his number and the credit card that he’d swiped from his dad’s wallet.

“Call me if you need anything,” he tells her and she just nods, still in awe of how immense her room is.

It’s a nice hotel, one that won’t hesitate before getting her whatever she wants, so he doesn’t feel quite so bad about going back to Percy and Annabeth’s and flopping onto their couch, where he immediately passes out.

When he next wakes up, he’s in their bed, squeezed between them, and is so disoriented that for a moment, he has no recollection of getting back at all.

The television squeezed just under their window is actually on for once, playing those crappy three AM infomercials that everyone loves to hate. He blinks at it sleepily, licking his dry lips and spitting out a mouthful of Annabeth’s hair.

“When did you guys get cable?” he slurs, stretching out, his toes curling as Percy shifts next to him.

“We didn’t. It’s just basic,” he whispers, gathering Nico close. He’s warm, shockingly so, and Nico lets out a pleased moan and presses back into him.

“How long have I been out?”

Percy chuckles, his breath hot against Nico’s ear. “Well, you crashed on the couch without even saying hello around nine and it’s… just after two now.”

Nico sighs. “Sorry, I was pretty tired.”

“S’okay,” Percy tells him, pressing a whisper of a kiss to his jaw. Nico smiles, turning over carefully, mindful of Annabeth’s sleeping form on his other side.

Percy looks ridiculous, his hair sticking out all in one direction, his cheeks rough with stubble. His breath smells like toothpaste though and the smile he’s wearing is soft. Nico wants to kiss it, so he does, leaning in and licking the minty taste from Percy’s lips.

He didn’t plan for the kiss to turn heated, but inevitably, it does. He should feel weirder about rolling over onto Percy with Annabeth right there, but somehow, he doesn’t. He’s warm, comfortable, and horny, and when Percy grins mischieviously and rolls his hips against Nico, he rolls with it.

“Aren’t you worried that she’ll wake up?” he gasps into Percy’s neck, shuddering as Percy sucks a bruise into the skin just under his ear.

“She wouldn’t mind,” Percy purrs, using his free hand to shove Nico’s boxers down his thighs. A wet finger finds his hole and Nico whimpers as just the tip of Percy’s finger pushes in. It’s wonderful and teasing and he wants to hold Percy down and ride him until he screams, but instead, he just clamps his teeth down on Percy’s pillow and shoves himself back onto Percy’s fingers.

Ten minutes later and Percy is just starting to work a third finger in, slick with lube, and Nico is so hard that he’s shaking with the effort to hold back a stream of curses.

“Just fuck him already,” a sleepy voice comes from his side and Nico starts so badly that Percy’s fingers slip free. Percy curses and starts to work them back in, but Nico is too busy staring at Annabeth to really notice.

She’s awake, obviously, watching them with interest, her eyes bright and her lower lip pinker than usual, like she’s been biting it for too long. She smiles at Nico.

“You want him to, don’t you?” she whispers, shifting so that she’s in a more comfortable position. Like this, her leg is pressed up against the side of Nico’s, prickly, like it’s been a couple weeks since she’s gotten around to shaving.

He nods, helplessly, eyes on her as Percy lets out a gusty sigh and quips, “Jeez, I was getting around to it. Foreplay’s your friend.”

“Not when some of us were trying to get some sleep,” she returns, yawning hugely.

Nico is still stretched out on top of Percy, so Percy has to coax him into sitting up a little before he can get lined up properly. Even then, it’s probably going to be an awkward position unless Nico actually gets his act together and straddles him properly. The head of Percy’s cock presses against him, blunt and insistent, and all he’d need to do is sit back a little and Percy would be inside of him.

“Did you want me to go?” Annabeth asks, noticing his hesitation. Nico blinks at her, her hair tousled and the imprint of her pillow still on her cheek. He could ask her to and she would, he thinks. But part of him wonders—is she wet right now? Would he be sending her off to the couch horny as her husband fucks him?

He’s still a bit speechless, so he just shrugs, blushing as he mutters, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Her eyes widen and the room is lit well enough by the television that he can see the way her pupils dilate as she sits up, propping herself back against the pillows, her legs spread just the faintest amount. She’s wearing a thin tank top and a pair of worn panties and that’s it, he realizes. He can see her nipples through the fabric.

He’s suddenly very aware of the way that Percy is trembling with restraint, his dick still tucked between Nico’s cheeks. It’s admirable, how patient he’s being, but Nico supposes that it’s not every day that this kind of thing happens. Maybe this gets him hot.

Slowly, his eyes on Annabeth the whole time, he sinks back onto Percy’s cock. He’s silent as he works himself onto it, but Percy isn’t—now that he doesn’t have to keep himself quiet, Percy is being his usual loud self, appreciative noises coming from low in his throat. When Nico’s fully seated, he watches Annabeth swallow—watches her tongue dart out to lick her lips. He’s watching her and it’s the possibly one of the hottest things that he’s ever witnessed, the way her breath hitches when he starts moving, how her hand makes an aborted twitch toward her crotch before she bites her lip and tucks her thighs together. It makes Nico chuckle and he wonders what she would do if he reached over and touched her. Instead, he rides Percy slowly, his eyes hooded with pleasure as he tells her calmly, “You should touch yourself.”

She blinks at him, surprised, and Percy whimpers underneath him a little bit. Out of the corner of his eye Nico sees Percy’s head turn towards his wife, sees her eyes dart down to meet his. She lets out a shaky little breath and slowly, so very slowly, starts to roll her panties down her thighs.

She is exquisite, he thinks, as her cheeks flood with color, her fingers dipping between her thighs. He watches as two fingers disappear inside her and arousal surges inside of him, a flash of heat as he rocks down onto Percy almost viciously, twisting his hips. He wants to touch her badly, wants to ask Percy to touch her, have her touch him, but he still isn’t entirely sure where he stands with her—this is all too new, so he makes a show of riding her husband instead, arching his back and throwing back his head, moaning and fucking himself so hard that the bed creaks beneath them, the headboard clacking against the wall with every move.

He glances at Percy, who’s head is thrown back in helpless abandon, eyes open to the barest of slits, watching his wife.

It’s intoxicating, this power that he has over them. That they have over him. Sex is fascinating.

Eventually, he lets Percy roll him over—maneuvers and rearranges until he’s on his hands and knees, Percy plastered up against his back as he slips back inside him. Nico’s so out of sorts that it’s not until Annabeth’s knee knocks against his chin that he realizes how fucking close he is to her now. He looks at her, her cheeks rosy with desire as she thumbs her clit, and wants all over again.

He bites his lip as Percy slams into him, but his eyes are all for her right now. She blinks at him, chest heaving, and he supposes that it’s now or never—

“Can I?” he gasps, gesturing between her legs. Percy’s rhythm falters and then picks back up twice as fast as before, fucking him with enough force that the headboard really is banging against the wall now, loudly.

Annabeth looks at him and nods and that’s all he needs, grabbing at her ankle so that he can drag her close, until his head is between her spread thighs.

He’s never actively wanted to do this—never had any interest in a girl before now, so for a moment he just blinks at her pussy, trying to remember how to do this when there isn’t a dick involved. He’s eaten Percy out before and it can’t be that different.

In the end, he just goes for it.

The first gasp he gets out of her is promising. The second is amazing. By the third, his own dick is leaking against the sheets and he’s so close to coming that he could scream.

It doesn’t have to mean anything, he thinks later, when they’re all lying in a sated, sticky pile. Annabeth tucks the hair out of his eyes and presses a quick kiss to his temple. He’s so fucked.

.

He doesn’t feel very good about ditching them the next morning. He also doesn’t feel very good about the fact that for about a week straight, he doesn’t respond to Percy’s phone calls or texts, choosing instead to spend his time getting to know his sister a little better.

One of the first things that he does is skype Bianca. The image is grainy, because Bianca’s webcam is shitty, but after a moment of pixellated lag, her face comes into focus and she grins. She must have the place to herself, because she’s seated on the couch in her living room and it looks surprisingly empty for once.

“I’ve got the sniffles, so Zoe made me stay home instead of going to the protest,” she tells him, making a face. Ah, that explains it.

The slight smile on her face falters and she peers closer at the screen. “Who’s that?” she asks, blinking.

Hazel shuffles awkwardly beside him, twisting her hands in her lap. He reaches over to still them and she just snorts at him, rolling her eyes. “Bianca, this is Hazel,” he explains, watching as Bianca’s eyes widen, because they both know that name.

“Oh,” she breathes and Hazel bites her lip, raising a hand in greeting.

They talk for awhile about various things from what Bianca’s doing in DC to how Hazel came to Nico the other day. Their dad is very briefly a subject, until it becomes very apparent that Hazel’s still nervous about him.

“So how’s Percy and… Annabeth, you said?” Bianca asks, a wicked little smirk twisting her lips as she peers at him from the safety of hundreds of miles away.

“We helped them decorate the other day,” Hazel says, smiling. “Annabeth is really nice.”

Bianca snorts. “I’ll bet she is if she’s willing to share her husband with my ridiculous kid brother.”

Hazel cocks her head at the screen, a birdlike motion that reveals a sliver of skin from underneath the scarf that Annabeth had leant her. “Share?” she asks, glancing curiously at Nico beside her.

“Yeah,” Bianca goes on, oblivious to the way that Nico’s gone tense, red creeping across his cheeks. “I haven’t decided if they’re swingers or if they just really like Nico, but hey, if she’s okay with Percy and Nico swapping various bodily fluids it isn’t my problem. Unless they break his heart of course.”

Hazel’s gaping at him now, about as flushed as he is.

“It’s a… thing,” he tells her in a very small voice. On the screen, Bianca’s hand goes to her mouth, her eyes widening. Oh shit, he sees her mouth, and shoots her a glare. “He was my TA last semester and we kind of hooked up? Then I found out about his wife and it was pretty weird for a while, but apparently she’s okay with it.”

He shrugs, as if he’s not thinking about the way Annabeth tasted or her voice on his voicemail the other day, asking him to call her or Percy back. Maybe it’s more complicated than that now, but it’s not like he’s about to go into that when Hazel’s already giving him the most scandalized look he’s ever seen.

“I-I see,” Hazel says, her eyes glazed in thought. She nods after a moment and offers, hesitantly, “Well, if they make you happy, I guess it’s not a problem?”

He is going to kill Bianca one day.

.

Before he knows it, Christmas is right around the corner. He’s spent most of his days with Hazel—sometimes just hanging out in her hotel or in his dorm, others taking the subway to their father’s place. Nico still doesn’t like the way he looks at her, like he’s unexpectedly discovered another pawn in his chess game. Persephone just looks at Hazel the same way that she’s always looked at Nico and Bianca: like she’s a bug that needs to be squashed.

He gets why Persephone hates them, he does. He even feels bad for her sometimes. To her, Nico and his sisters are just reminders of what a cheating asshole her husband is and now that there’s another one in the picture when she hasn’t even had her own kid with dad yet? Yeah, he gets it. It doesn’t stop him from getting mad at the way she sneers at Hazel—Hazel, who never grew up with Persephone’s frown a constant part of her life he way that he and Bianca did. Hazel, who just lost her mother and found out that her dad’s an utter jackass.

So they keep those visits short and he tries not to leave Hazel alone with Persephone when dad wants to talk about his business.

By the time Christmas Eve arrives, he’s exhausted. He’d had some thoughts about spending the day with Hazel, maybe taking her out to see the gargantuan tree in the square and actually buying her some better winter clothes, since she’s mostly gotten her stuff from Goodwill, but when he wakes up that morning, bleary-eyed and confused, someone’s knocking on his door.

Leo had left two days before to spend Christmas with his mom, so Nico has to be the one to groan and stumble his way to the door, scratching his stomach and yawning as he pulls it open.

He blinks and Annabeth comes into focus. She looks kind of rumpled, like she’d either gotten ready in a hurry or run here during a snowstorm. Her hair’s tangled and there are bags under her eyes and she’s glaring at him so intensely that for a moment all he can do is stare.

“You,” she says fiercely. “Have some explaining to do.”

“I—” he starts, hands going automatically to cross over his chest. She actually sneers at him, lip curled and everything.

“I don’t even care that you’ve been ignoring me. I’m sorry that shit got too real for you,” she hisses in a low voice, backing him into a corner as she jabs a finger pointedly into his chest. “But how dare you ditch Percy the week before Christmas, you asshole! If you were returning our phone calls, I’d understand. I mean, you did just meet your sister, but to not even text us back?”

Her chest is heaving and she’s got him backed all the way up until his back is pressed against the closet, the knob cold and jabbing uncomfortably against his spine. She’s terrifying like this and his own eyes are wide as he stares at her. He wonders if she’s going to hit him, because it sure looks like she’s tempted to try.

All at once, she crumples, the anger transitioning to sadness so fast that he feels like he’s getting whiplash. “He had plans for this week, y’know!” she tells him, her eyelashes going wet. “He was going to take us ice-skating and was actually going to introduce you to his fucking mother, so I don’t care if you got scared off by the fact that I have a vagina or if you’re having second thoughts, you’re going to fucking apologize to him before Christmas is ruined you… you… Grinch!”

With that, she takes a deep breath, and sits down on his bed like her strings have been cut.

He stares at her warily, unmoving, afraid that if he steps towards her she might punch him in the face. “I’m sorry,” he says, weakly. She sniffles at him and rubs furiously at her eyes.

“You better be,” she snorts, staring down at her shoes.

Cautiously, he moves towards her and when it becomes apparent that she isn’t going to rip his throat out with her teeth, goes to his knees before her, reaching for her hands.

“I’m really sorry, Annabeth. I didn’t think. I—” he hesitates, voice stuttering as she looks at him, her eyes wet. “I’m not really used to liking people this much,” he admits. “Percy’s one thing. I mean, god, he’s Percy.”

She snorts out a half-amused laugh and he takes the moment to lean forward and kiss one of the hands clutched in his own. “I didn’t expect to like you so much,” he goes on to explain, feeling like there’s glass in his throat. “It’s a new feeling, wanting to do anything with a girl and yeah, I freaked. I’m sorry.”

She sniffs again and rolls her eyes. “You could have just said, dumbass. I would have gotten it. But leaving before we wake up and not talking to us for weeks? Percy’s been beside himself and I couldn’t make it better. I’m his wife. We said our vows—in sickness and in health, you know? It’s my job to make him smile and I didn’t know how to fix it.”

“I’m sorry,” he says again, feeling miserable. “I’m a jerk.”

She laughs wetly and punches him gently in the shoulder. “You are,” she agrees. “Just don’t forget that this is new to us too? We’ve been freaking out as much as you.”

“I thought Percy said you’d worked something out like this before?” he asks, frowning. Absurdly, this is what makes her blush.

“That was different. Reyna was amazing, but me and her—it was just sex. She was my friend, but it was nothing like you and Percy. Hell, Percy never even met her. She lives in California and Percy knew about it after the first time, but it was just sex. Meaningless, awesome sex.” Her blush is steadily getting worse as she twists her hands in her lap, avoiding Nico’s eyes. “I don’t know what this thing is, with me, you, and Percy, but it’s different.”

“I’m sorry,” he repeats again, starting to feel like a broken record. This time though, she laughs and smiles at him.

“It’s not me that you should apologize to,” she tells him and her smile is so bright that he just—he wants to kiss her. Instead, he nods and whispers, “I know.”

“So what are you waiting for?”

He gives her a dry look. “Some clothes would probably help, for one.”

“Not really,” she shrugs, grinning at him when he sputters. “Makeup sex is one of the best things with Percy. Trust me.”

Nico rolls his eyes, but starts rooting around for some clothes anyway. He swats her hand away when she pinches his ass as he’s bending to look for his jeans under the bed and gives her a pointed look over his shoulder. “You cut that out,” he tells her as his dick twitches with interest. God, being attracted to her is so weird.

She grins at him, teasingly, and swats at him again. “Nope.”

He shudders as her hand curves over his backside and squeezes, pressing back into her touch without even thinking. Exasperated, he looks up at her over his shoulder. “I thought you wanted to get that apology out to Percy? Can’t exactly do that if I’m fucking you here.”

Nico freezes the moment it’s out of his mouth, appalled at himself. Annabeth looks just as surprised, but as he watches, curiosity bleeds into her expression.

“Would you really?” she asks, a bit breathlessly, casting a glance around his room and raising an eyebrow. “Tell me, where would you even have me? Against the wall? The floor? Or maybe on your roommate’s bed?”

Her smile is just this side of sly and he smirks at her, because two can play at that game. Slowly, he crawls to her and only when he’s between her legs does he start to get to his feet, looming up and over her body and leaning forward so he can press her back onto his bed, his hands wrapping around her wrists. She hits the mattress with a little oomph of surprise, but her eyes are already darkening tellingly. Nico chuckles, letting go of her wrists so he can take hold of her hips and heft her farther up the bed. He settles just over her lap, his tented boxers brushing teasingly over her crotch as he hovers just over her body.

“Or,” he whispers, leaning down and brushing a kiss against her neck, smiling when her breath hitches. “I could just have you right here.”

She trembles, hips tilting up automatically and rubbing herself against him, the unexpected friction making the both of them moan. He bites down on her shoulder, more gently than he would have with Percy, and gasps when she wraps her legs around his waist, tugging his earlobe into her mouth at the same time.

“What are you waiting for then?” she breathes, rocking herself up into him, and then it’s a mad rush to see who can get undressed quickly enough. He wins, of course, because he’s still in his boxers, and graciously helps her out of her bra and underwear when he’s done, ducking his head down to tug one of her nipples between his teeth.

Her ensuing gasp is ragged and it feels amazing when she arches against him, the tip of his cock brushing against her as she wraps her legs back around his waist. He thinks that she might be grinding her teeth a little bit and he can already tell that this is going to be a quick and dirty fuck, no foreplay necessary or welcome. She’s already so wet, he thinks as she reaches down between them and lines him up, her thighs like a vice as she tries to draw him in. He groans when the head of his dick slips inside and she curses loudly when he stalls, holding her open, barely inside.

“Jesus fuck,” she hisses when he twitches his hips forward, just a fraction, before pulling back again. “Get inside me already, you jerk!”

He laughs, some of her hair getting in his mouth as she thrashes beneath him desperately. “Mmm, what if I don’t want to?” he breathes, thrusting shallowly again, not even letting himself get halfway into her before pulling back again. She hisses, hooking her ankles at the small of his back, and he doesn’t even have time to be startled before she’s jerking him forward, until he’s seated completely inside her, feeling her tremble around him as she growls ragged curses in his general direction. She doesn’t loosen her legs any, leaving him trapped, his balls flush against her ass. He laughs again and instead of pulling back to thrust, he circles his hips, grinding himself against her until she gasps and snarls at him.

“I can’t fuck you unless you let go,” he teases, ducking down and kissing the swell of her breast. While he’s down there, he runs his tongue over her nipple, laving it with spit until it’s almost too sensitive, pert and pointy, before sucking it into his mouth.

“Are you going to actually fuck me if I let go?” she pants, whining when he turns his attentions to her other nipple. “Or are you going to just keep teasing me?”

“Don’t worry,” he purrs, kissing the hollow of her throat sweetly. “I’ll fuck you until you’re screaming, promise.”

She laughs, the sound jagged with strain, and says, “Well, if you promise.”

It takes another thirty seconds of playing with her tits before she finally groans and loosens her hold on him. True to his word, he immediately pulls all the way back and slams into her again, hard enough that she shifts half an inch up the bed. He grins when she shudders from head to toe and looks at him with hooded eyes, purring, “Now that’s more like it.”

It isn’t as weird as he thought it would be with her. He’d imagined it being strange between the first time, but they move great together. He fucks her probably harder than he should, too used to Percy, who likes being fucked just a touch too roughly, but when he realizes what he’s doing and tries to slow down, she clenches around him, her teeth clamped around his jugular and snarls, “Don’t you fucking dare.”

So he fucks her hard and fast, his headboard slamming against the wall in a way that’s probably going to get him reported to the RA and by the time he’s actually remembering the fact that he’s not wearing a condom he’s already almost there.

“Let go,” he gasps raggedly, rhythm stuttering. “I’m not wearing—”

She laughs, her mouth slipping off of his neck, and murmurs, “I’m married, dipshit, I’m on the fucking pill and if I had something, trust me, you’d have it already.” She jerks around, maneuvering them effortlessly so they’re in a strange position that wouldn’t have worked at all if she was a guy, but is absolutely perfect for getting even deeper as she claws at his blankets.

“But—” he starts and she keens, rocking back onto him hard and fast, her stomach muscles contracting under his hand as she fucks herself back onto his dick.

“Just come inside of me already, Nico!” she shouts, her mouth going slack as she comes, her insides spasming around him. She doesn’t collapse afterwards, though her eyes are heavy lidded with pleasure as she rocks back onto him, slower now, languishing in the aftershocks of her orgasm. He lets her roll them, all her urgency gone, and his hands go right to her hips as she rides him, slow and sweet, the exact opposite of a minute ago.

He watches her, her hair spilling over her shoulder, past her breasts to swing against her stomach. He’d never noticed how long it was, until now. She really is beautiful, he realizes, watching her watch him, and it’s that thought that has him spilling inside of her, breath caught on her name.

She stays where she is as he softens slowly inside of her, until he has to nudge her off, his dick too sensitive. As she pulls off, he catches a glimpse of some of his come leaking out of her, just a few drops that land between his legs, enough to make something inside him tighten with want.

“I still don’t really know what this is,” she says a couple minutes later, once he’s retrieved a towel for both of them to wipe themselves off with.

“Me neither,” he admits, biting down on his thumb nail and flopping back down beside her. She looks glorious, all pink and well-fucked, sweat still on her skin. She rolls over a little, until she’s looking at him, and shrugs.

“I guess it just is what it is. We share Percy, of course, and uh, I definitely wouldn’t be averse to a repeat performance. So, sex?”

He laughs and rolls over until he can wrap his arms around her, mostly on top of her before she giggles and returns the hug. His dick brushes against the inside of her thigh and appallingly, manages a twitch. She must notice because she lets out a peal of laughter and tells him, “Save that for Percy, Mr. Man. I wasn’t kidding about the makeup sex being the best part.”

“Would you be willing to join in on that?” he asks, dragging his teeth against her collarbone. She shudders, then with a smile, pushes him off gently.

“Maybe next time,” she says, kissing him on the cheek. He thinks about pulling her in for a real kiss before he stops himself. They might have just had mind blowing sex, but now that he’s thinking about it, she’d never tried to actually kiss him. Maybe it’s a Pretty Woman type thing, though he doesn’t think she’d be happy to know that he’d been comparing her to Julia Roberts as a prostitute, even in his head.

“This is something that you’re gonna do by yourself,” she’s saying, reluctantly rolling off of the bed and bending down to pull on her panties. “I’m not saying that Percy’s angry, but he’s upset, and I don’t wanna be there if you two start yelling at each other.”

He watches her dress, feeling the curious itch for a cigarette, something he’s only ever indulged in once. Finally, as she’s zipping her boots back up, she grins at him. Her cheeks are still pink and there’s no way that she doesn’t smell like sex.

“Where are you going, then?” he asks, and she shrugs.

“Don’t know!” she chirps. “Might go stare at skyscrapers longingly, might go hang out with your sister, might go sit at a coffee shop until my head threatens to burst.”

He snorts when she leans forward and kisses his forehead, then waves goodbye as she practically skips out the door.

.

He showers before he goes to Percy’s apartment, not because he thinks this is something that Annabeth would keep from her husband, but because it seems rude showing up there smelling like sex and Percy’s wife, especially if she was right and this is going to end in more sex. There’s also the possibility that it might end up a surprise later, if she’d actually been planning on joining in sometime.

After showering, he takes the bus to Percy’s.

They do end up arguing, which sucks, because he could have lived his whole life without seeing Percy’s face twisted up with sorrow and anger, but Percy gets over it pretty quickly when Nico growls and shoves him up against the wall so that he can kiss him, all rage and anger and passion.

From there it takes no time to devolve into the promised makeup sex and Nico ends up biting down on one fist, bracing himself against the wall with his other as he lets Percy bend him over and fuck him right there in the hallway just inside the apartment. The pace Percy sets is brutal—barely enough lube, not enough prep, and straddling the line of pleasure-pain that Nico’s willing to handle, but he loves it anyway. It’s hot and animalistic, and when Percy finally comes inside of him, they slump to the floor in an exhausted heap, Percy already peppering his face with kisses in between apologies.

“Dude, it’s fine,” he finally says, panting as he catches his breath. There’s come leaking out onto the floor beneath him and his back is pressed up against the wall that he came all over, but there’s a warmth in his chest that makes him realize just how much he missed Percy. “It was hot.”

Eventually Percy subsides, hefting them both up so they can pile into the shower which inevitably devolves into even more sex. By the end of it, Nico’s dick is so exhausted that he couldn’t possibly get it up again, young or not.

“I do want you to meet my mom though,” Percy tells him as they’re toweling off.

Nico looks at him skeptically. “Does she even know about me?” he asks, because he can’t for the life of him imagine his mother knowing about this arrangement. It’s bad enough that Bianca and Hazel know.

Percy blushes spectacularly, hiding it as he turns away to open the door. “I might have told her about you a couple times.”

“And she’s okay with that?”

Percy grins at him. “She had me with a sailor that she met when she was in Maine and is kind of a hippie. She might have thought it was weird at first, but there’s not a lot of things that would phase her.”

“Okay then,” Nico tells him. “I’d be okay with meeting her.”

.

Christmas passes in a blur of time spent with Hazel and time spent with Annabeth and Percy. He spends most of Christmas Day with Hazel as the Jackson’s residence and watches with glee as Percy stumbles into the living room on Christmas morning and practically shrieks over the fish tank taking up the space that a bookcase used to occupy.

Sometime in the afternoon, Bianca shows up at the Jackson’s door, grinning down at him.

“Merry Christmas, baby bro,” she tells him, smacking an obnoxiously wet kiss against his cheek.

Their dinner is a little strange, all of them crowded around Percy and Annabeth’s tiny table with armchairs and boxes yanked from various places around the house to sit on, but it’s the best one that Nico’s ever had. Hazel and Bianca both camp out in the living room that night as Annabeth and Percy pull Nico into their bedroom. Bianca winks at him and that’s horrifying enough to insure that he doesn’t even think of having sex that night.

On the twenty-sixth, Percy takes him and Annabeth ice-skating, and afterwards, he meets Sally Jackson, who is probably the most awesome woman that he’s ever met.

By the time New Year’s rolls around, Nico feels like he’s coming apart at the seams a little bit. Between Bianca’s epic fight that she’d had with dad and spending so much time doing random shit with his sisters and the Jackson’s, he’s wrung out and exhausted.

“I’m going to take Hazel to Times Square tonight,” Bianca tells him when she unceremoniously wakes him that morning. They’d both crashed on the floor of Hazel’s hotel room the night before, discussing the possibility of getting her an apartment of her own and maybe seeing if she felt like enrolling in a school up here. “And you aren’t going with us.”

He glares at her, but before he can say anything else, she grins at him. “You’re going with Percy and Annabeth, and afterwards, you’re going back to their place alone.”

He gapes at her and she preens. “Don’t thank me, I know, best sister ever.”

“But—”

She raises an eyebrow at him. “If you think I haven’t noticed the looks you’ve been sending both of them, you’ve got another thing coming.”

He blushes. Predictably, she laughs at him.

Which is how he ends up standing in the crowd at Times Square, pressed between Annabeth and Percy as the people roar out the countdown all around him, watching as the glittering ball makes it’s way down.

10...

9...

8...

7...

6...

5...

4...

3...

2…

At the last minute, he feels Annabeth grab a hold of his collar and jerk him around. She’s smiling hugely, her eyes bright as she practically bounces on her toes. Behind him, Percy is pressed close to him, his hands searingly hot on Nico’s hips.

1...

The crowd explodes around him, but he doesn’t notice much, because Annabeth has pulled him down into a kiss so passionate that if it weren’t for Percy at his back, he probably would have toppled over. Her gloved fingers creep around the back of his neck and he feels them knotting with Percy’s there, their joined hands tucked up against the nape of his neck.

Something settles in his hair and Nico swats at it, distracted by Annabeth practically bending him over backwards, deepening the kiss with a laugh.

Eventually she pulls back, leaning over his shoulder to give Percy a kiss of his own, and then she spins Nico, so that he’s facing Percy now—Percy, who gives him this soft, besotted smile and carefully draws him up into a kiss so sweet that his heart does a funny kind of flip in his chest.

There’s confetti everywhere and one would think that you oughtn't mix fireworks and confetti, but they’re going off anyways as Sinatra’s voice croons about New York, and Nico is probably happier than he’s ever been, pressed warmly between the two of them.

Annabeth goes up on tiptoes behind him, draping herself against his back, and leans up, nibbling on his ear. “Let’s go home,” she purrs into his ear. “Then we can start this new year off the way we should.”

Percy’s hands curl around his waist and Nico presses a smile into Percy’s shoulder. Yeah, he thinks. That’s a pretty awesome idea.



.Coda

The day before Valentine’s Day is always insane in New York. Always. It’s worse when you work at the Hallmark closest to Battery Park, but at least it’s eventful. You’re nearing the end of a ten hour shift and your youngest cousin is sitting in a little chair towards the front of the store, waiting for you to get off. It’s been an exhausting day, dealing with business men who have saved their Valentine’s Day shopping until the last minute and you’ve run out of chocolates not once, but twice. But the day’s almost done and then you can go home and cuddle up with Morocco, your ill-mannered, long-haired beast of a cat, until your girlfriend gets home.

Ten more minutes, you think, watching the clock as you meander closer to the front.

There’s a boy, probably not even allowed to drink legally yet, with messy dark hair and skin the kind of washed out pale that makes you think he’s actually a lot darker than he looks in the summer standing in front of the Valentine’s Day cards, shuffling from foot to foot. He looks kind of pathetic, actually, the lines of his face pulled taut, like he’s trying his damndest not to cry.

You give your cousin a look and she raises an eyebrow back at you, tilting her head in the direction of the kid.

“May I help you, sir?” you ask in your most polite, helping-customers-now voice.

He turns to you, dark eyes wide like you’ve startled him. Now that you’re looking at him closely, you can see that his eyes do actually look a little bit wet. He shuffles back a little bit and you give him a little bit of space. He bites his lip and clears his throat, trying for a small smile.

“No thanks,” he starts, immediately cutting himself off. “Wait… no.” He hesitates, then shakes his head and gives you a polite little smile that is, while strained, completely sincere. It surprises you. You aren’t used to sincerity here. “No,” he repeats, still sounding like he’s questioning himself.

Curious despite yourself, you sidle a little bit closer—not enough to freak him out again, but just close enough to peer at the cards with him. “Now that sounds like a cry for help,” you tell him, your voice significantly more confident than you feel. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”

He hesitates again before starting to explain in broken, fragmented sentences. His voice tugs at your heartstrings a bit. “I can’t…I…”

He cuts himself off again with an irritated huff and starts again. “This couple. We’ve been having threesomes and I want to get them something. Ann—” He shakes his head. “I love them. Both. So much. But they’re married and they’re my best friends. I don’t want to ruin everything.”

You think that it sounds like there’s something he’s not telling you, because his voice is a little too tender for it to just be meaningless sex. Maybe they’ve got some kind of arrangement, you think, puzzling over it.

You turn your smile up to eleven and if this were any other customer, you’d probably lay a hand on his shoulder or something, but you have a feeling that he wouldn’t appreciate it. “How can a card ruin everything?” you ask gently. Out of the corner of your eye, you can see your cousin peering at the both of you curiously, but the boy doesn’t seem to notice. “You think that telling people you’ve been having sex with that you love them will scare them off?”

He bites his lip again, looking embarrassed, and says in a small voice, “I… don’t want to presume.”

You snort, letting a bit of yourself seep in through the cracks of happy worker woman facade, and grin brightly. “Come on, you haven’t been standing here for a half hour because it’s a bad idea. You know what you want to do.”

He nods slowly and hesitates for a moment more before reaching out a card at random. You help him a bit, pointing out the cards that are the most popular and the ones that are more heartfelt—more real. You watch as he selects two cards, then walk with him up to the register to help him check out. His hands shake as he forks over some cash, his knuckles white around the bag as he leaves with a last little wave.

You don’t know a damn thing about his life and probably won’t ever see him again. You don’t know that the whole thing started off with him dating his TA in Intro to Biology or that he wasn’t even sleeping with both of them until the tail end of December. You certainly don’t know that he’s already met both of his lover’s parents and that he’s still so terrified that it will end that he refuses to think of it as anything more than sex, despite the evidence otherwise. To you, he’s just another customer, albeit a more interesting one than usual.

Your cousin approaches you as you clock out, a grin on her face. She just started college at NYU and you’re taking her out for a quick dinner before getting her back to her dorm. “Man, now the hot ones are, like, double taken,” she giggles.

Your mind has been doubling back to an encounter you had a few days ago ever since he explained the situation, but now more than ever you remember the blonde, smiling woman with the pretty grey eyes who hadn’t even offered the stilted, awkward explanation about the cards she’d chosen like most people who were cheating on their significant others usually do, she’d just grinned brightly and slapped the cards on the counter like she was daring you to say something.

You smirk.

“I suddenly have a good feeling about the woman who was in here a few days ago buying cards for both her husband and her boyfriend.”