Will pushed at Nico’s black-clad shoulder. “Oh, shut up! I do not snore! Just ask Austin and Kayla.”
Nico smiled, putting his hands in his pants pockets and bumping his shoulder against Will in a rare show of playfulness. “I’m sure they’d agree with me,” he joked, making Will’s smile grow. “Unless you paid them off.”
Will’s amused disbelief shook him like a swaying palm as he laughed, “ You are rude. You’re being rude to me.”
“ Yes .”
“No, I’m being rational -”
“You keeping me up all night-”
“Oh! The nerve!”
“-with your snoring -”
“-is a legitimate concern!”
They joked like this back and forth, silly as they ever allowed themselves to be, as they walked from the campfire to the Hades cabin. They were both wound with hidden nerves twisting their guts, the wings of moths fluttering away in their chests. This would be their first time sharing a room alone for the night.
Will was excited, but he was mostly nervous. After a drastic increase in Nico’s night terrors - which, recently, had yielded outward results (ie. skeletons rising around the Hades cabin and scaring campers) - it was decided that, despite the new rule against two non-sibling campers being left alone in a cabin together, Nico and Will would start sharing a bed. This decision was only implemented following a rather defensive confession from Nico that Will was the only one who could keep the nightmares at bay.
And he was certainly up to the task. The biggest plus to this situation, besides the obvious, was that he would no longer have to run from his cabin to Nico’s in the middle of the night through a skeleton army to soothe his hair and hold him close. Oh yes, that would be a definite improvement.
The moths filling Will flew regardless, shaking his stomach and causing him to tremble in fear. Will knew that Nico knew things about him, certain things that he accepted and treated almost casually, the same way as if Will had said “I’m blond” or “my eyes are blue”. It was just another physical trait, another inconsequential part of his being. Will loved that about Nico, but he couldn’t help the ball of fear in his gut. It stuck its hand up into his throat and clawed, scratching him and making him afraid to speak. The moths had transformed into something a lot more dangerous.
“So, Neeks,” he’d say sarcastically, if it allowed him. “Are you ready to see my boobs?”
He wouldn’t see them see them, Will knew. But, Will didn’t sleep in a binder. He wore one every day, even when he was just with Nico… It made him worry what Nico would think when he saw the gentle curve of Will’s chest. Would he be disgusted? Would he be embarrassed? Will knew it couldn’t be anything too terrible, but that didn’t stop him from worrying. It never stopped him from worrying.
“Will,” Nico asked, voice touched with concern. “Where are you?”
Will blushed. “I’m here , dummy. Just thinking.”
The dark grass being crushed under their walking feet was the only sound for a while, a rhythmic and satisfying series of crunch es that soothed Will until Nico kicked his foot a bit, slowing down. “Are you nervous?” he asked.
Pink turned to red as Will blushed harder in the dark. “A little,” he admitted. “Or maybe a lot.”
Nico grabbed Will’s hand, holding it tenderly between them. “I’m nervous, too. You’ve laid down with me after a nightmare before leaving but… We’ve never actually…”
“I know.” Will blushed. “I- I always… I maybe always put on a binder before I, I leave to your cabin. So you’ve never seen…”
It was Nico’s turn to blush. “I know they’re there, Will. It’s not that big a deal to me…”
Will couldn’t help a laugh, the dark force melting back into silly butterflies. The flew their way to freedom, bubbling out of him in a series of giggles. “I know. I can’t help it, though. Boobs! ”
Nico’s face immediately fell slack, eyes half-lidded and tired, though Will could see the affection on his face. “I can’t believe you,” he mumbled. “I can’t believe you.”
Will laughed harder, and this one was a real, hearty laugh. They finished their trek to the Hades cabin with Will poking Nico’s face and occasionally stomach, whispering, “ My boooobs!”
It was when they arrived at the cabin, however, that Will hesitated, adjusting his overnight bag on his shoulder. He’d move in the rest of his bed things soon, but he’d been stuck in the infirmary all day - and he’d been struck by an awful laziness.
And anyways, they had to make it past the first night before any of that mattered.
Will shifted from foot to foot, shuffling past Nico and into the cabin. He’d been in here multiple times before, but it was strange to him still just how dark it was. The Apollo cabin always seemed to have some form of light… Even at night, moonlight filtered through the windows, Artemis illuminating the sleeping children of her brother. The Hades cabin was much different. But, with Nico here, the eerily ineffective candlelight that lit his cabin seemed…. Safe. Maybe it wasn’t romantic , per se, but Will didn’t mind.
Nico cleared his throat, causing his boyfriend to look up nervously. “So,” Nico scratched the side of his nose as he spoke. “What side of the bed do you want?”
Will looked at all the empty bunks and giggled. “Hm… I don’t know… Which are you more comfortable with?”
Nico shrugged casually and Will was glad to see much of the awkwardness dissolve into the same giddiness they’d shared on the way over. “Either side, I’d imagine.”
Will walked to Nico’s back, dropping his bag by their feet and wrapping his arms around Nico’s center. He rested his chin on his boyfriend’s soft hair sighing happily. Nico anchored him, as always, calming the ocean of turmoil that threatened to shake him once more.
Nico leaned back against Will contentedly. No more moths. “I guess we’ll figure it out as we go along,” he said, looking thoughtful and fond.
Surprised, somehow, at how well this was turning out, Will rocked him side to side. He hummed an agreement, then kissed Nico’s right ear, which made the Ghost King grumble affectionately and pull away, a smile on his face.
“Do you wear special bed clothes?” Nico asked once they separated.
“You mean pajamas , weirdo?” he replied, laughing. “Yeah, I do.”
Nico nodded, not responding to Will’s playful jab. “We should change then…”
Will blushed once more, but he managed to force himself to pick up his overnight bag and go to a corner of the cabin where he could change. It was darker in the corner of the cabin, shadows clinging to every inch they could almost restlessly. Will was not afraid of the shadows , however.
“You, um,” he stuttered. He wished he sounded more confident. “You can peek… if you want to.”
He looked back to Nico for a reaction and was very glad to see those dark eyes looking at him from under his dark hair, a very small but flatteringly hungry smile on his face. Nico took off his shirt quickly and Will spun his head away, biting his lip and feeling his stomach flip with excitement. The room was suddenly quite a bit warmer.
He took off his own shirt, back to Nico, to reveal his half-tank binder (which Nico had seen before) then leaned down to pick out his favorite tank top.
“Nico?” He asked. “Does it get warm in your cabin?”
Will nodded, then grabbed his most comfortable pair of hideous bed shorts.
Heart beating a mile a minute, he took off his binder, did a bit of stretching to get used to the feeling of having it off after all day wearing it, then slipped the tank top over his head and onto his body. His face burning hot, he changed shorts, embarrassed. Somehow, the idea to wear boxers had slipped his mind, and he’d worn “briefs” instead, which showed a bit more than he’d meant to.
When he turned around, Nico was wearing a pair of comfortable-looking sweatpants and remained shirtless. If Will wanted to, he could count the scars that covered his chest and shoulders. He found himself smiling upon realizing Nico’s ribs were no longer immediately visible.
“I like it when you eat,” he said, because that definitely isn’t an odd thing to tell your boyfriend.
Nico laughed, looking awkward. “I know you do.”
Getting Nico to eat sometimes was a battle in and of itself, but he was getting better. They were getting better, together. And now they were working together again for Nico’s health and safety… It made Will feel proud. It took a lot of strength from Nico to do this and Will knew it.
Nico shifted uncomfortably, making a face. “You’re staring at me.”
“No I’m not,” Will half-sung as he absolutely continued staring. “I’m just thinking.”
Nico raised his eyebrow, continuing to look unimpressed and a bit uncomfortable as Will sauntered towards him, humming. “What about?”
“About you,” he sang again as he wrapped his arms around Nico. He whispered then, “About how amazing you are.”
Nico snorted, pushing Will away. “Let’s just… go to bed.” An unspoken “ gaylord” hung in the air between them. Will giggled a small, diabolic giggle and followed him to the bunk Nico normally slept in.
“Um… Which side?” Will asked again.
Nico shrugged. He moved to lay down under the blankets, patting the spot beside him. “I guess I’ll take the right side and you take the left for now.”
Will shrugged back, bouncing his shoulders up and down a few times as a joke. This made Nico’s eyes glance down on reflex, then determinedly back to Will’s face. Will had to fight the urge to laugh hysterically as he climbed in next to Nico.
Nico pulled the blanket over them awkwardly, and they sat in silence for a moment, trying to get comfortable. Then, he whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
Will dissolved into helpless giggles, pressing his face into his hands and rolling to face away from his boyfriend. “You’re such a dork!”
“I am not!”
“You are so!” Will struggled to breathe through his laughter. “I can’t believe how horrible this is.”
Nico grinned at him, looking tired and embarrassed. “Is it like this for other people?”
Will turned towards him again, sighing in happiness, recovering from laughter. “Yes,” he replied. “I think so. People in love, anyways.”
The smile on Nico’s face reached nuclear levels, pure elation radiating off of him in a way few people had ever seen. He repeated quietly, “People in love.”
Will rolled closer, moving into better cuddling position. “People in love.” What a lovely echo.
Burying his face in Will’s blond hair, Nico sighed, his eyes falling closed. “All that awkwardness and humiliation made me tired,” he murmured. “I’m going to sleep now.”
Will hummed, then yawned. The fingers of his left hand tangled with Nico’s like they were magnetic, drawn together by forces outside their control, and his leg hitched up to slide between Nico’s calves. It was comfortable - not to mention warm. “Love you, Neeks.”
Nico gently kissed Will’s hair. “I love you, too, Will.”
They both fell off into sleep, with no nightmares coming to wake them, and everyone at Camp Half Blood had a very skeleton-free night.