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A Study of Love

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Nico groaned as he felt the sunlight touch his face. The warmth was nice, but he wasn’t ready to be awake. He had stayed up nearly the whole night before writing a paper for his sociology class.

He pulled the sheets over his face and attempted to go back to sleep. After about 15 minutes of sitting quietly and hoping, he gave up and checked his phone. He had a few snapchats, a text from Percy asking if pigeons have feelings (he and Nico both had trouble sleeping so he got about 5 texts like this a week), and a few news alerts.

Taking notice of the time, he let out a sigh before throwing off his covers and jumping down from his bed. His bed was about five feet off the ground, allowing for a little desk grove underneath.

Unsurprised, he looked over to his roommate’s bed and saw that it was empty. Jason was an early riser and was no doubt on a run or participating in some other grossly healthy activity.

He glanced in the mirror, taking stock of the reflection. His black hair laid messily around his face, landing somewhere around his shoulders. It was in desperate need of a cut, but his dad hated it long, so he took it as a representation of his rebellion.

Yawning and stretching, Nico found the nearest shirt, and after giving it a sniff to ensure that it was clean enough, he put it on. Settling into his desk chair, he opened his phone. There were a few snapchats from Annabeth and Percy. They had just signed a lease on their first apartment together, so they sent updates as the unpacking progressed.

Percy’s were mostly of his aquarium that he spent more time cultivating than he did doing anything else. Annabeth’s hinted at the fact she had been watching wayyyyyy too much Fixer Upper. By the thirteenth accent pillow option, Nico had gracefully bowed out of his assumed position of assistant designer.

He popped on his headphones and turned his computer on, checking his school email for any updates on his thesis proposal. Dr. Apollo was not known for his quick response, but his philosophy skills were definitely top tier.

After filtering through the spam of his school’s social calendar notices, he saw an email from a new name.

“Will Solace?” Nico wondered out loud, trying to think of whether he recognized the name.
From: will.solace@olympus.edu
To: nico.diange@olympus.edu
Subject Line: Thesis Proposal

Mr. Di Angelo,

Hello. I am Dr. Apollo’s graduate assistant, and I am writing in response to your request for his mentorship on your senior thesis. He told me to respond with (I’m quoting here) “If that brat wants me to serve as his thesis mentor, he had better have the best idea I’ve ever heard.” Regardless, he wanted to arrange a meeting and for me to provide his availability to you.

Here is his schedule for next week. Please respond with whatever time and date works for you.

Thank you,

Will Solace

At the bottom of the email, he found a span of the doc’s schedule. After checking for any previous engagements/scheduled mental breakdowns, he decided on a meeting the next day at 12:45.

From: nico.diange@olympus.edu
To: will.solace@olympus.edu
Subject Line: Meeting Deets

Mr. Solace,

Hello! Tell Dr. Apollo that I have the greatest ideas in the history of the world, and you can quote that. I’m free tomorrow (10/14) at 12:45. I can meet the doc in his office if that works.

Thanks,

Nico Di Angelo

After a few more minutes of fucking around, he decided to start getting ready for his day. He printed out his paper after double-checking that he was happy with it. He pulled on one of his many pairs of black skinny jeans and his signature bomber jacket. He was deep into Stairway to Heaven when the door opened.

Jason walked in, with a damp shirt in hand. He may be Nico’s best friend, but he couldn’t help but take a good long look at the golden boy. He was categorically the hottest dude Nico had ever seen, and the absolute worst part was that he knew it.

Jason must have noticed Nico was staring because he started striking poses.

“Okay Mr. Universe calm down. I’m only human.” Nico commented, blushing slightly.

That got a laugh out of the tall boy. He was dirty blonde, with cropped hair swept to the side. Only he could manage to look like a god even after a sweaty run.

“Listen Neeks, I know I’m beautiful, but try to keep it in your pants. If I wasn’t a straight dude though, you’d be the first one I’d call.” Nico rolled his eyes at this, throwing a nearby towel at the boy.

“I’m sure Piper would be thrilled to hear how ready and willing you are to drop her for me.” Jason narrowed his eyes but said nothing, using the towel to wipe away his sweat.
Piper and Jason had been high school sweethearts, although they’d gone to different colleges. While Jason had elected for a school in California close to home, Piper had elected to go to George Washington in D.C. She had been dreaming about it for years, so when she got in she had to go. They had a rough patch freshman year, but the closer graduation came, the better their relationship got.

“Speaking of Piper…” Nico began, spinning his chair to face Jason’s side of the room. He cleared his throat, “How is she doing with the…incident?”

Jason made eye contact, “Don’t ever bring that up again.” There was warning in his voice, but Nico could tell it didn’t go too deep.

“I’m just saying, I didn’t even really see anything. It was dark. My phone was dead, so I hadn’t seen your text. Is she still mad?” The shorter boy looked away as he asked this. He tried to act super punk rock, but he didn’t really have many friends and worried about losing them.

“She’s not mad Neeks, she’s just embarrassed.” Jason threw Nico a reassuring smile, and then Nico’s phone began to ring. The blonde boy gestured that he was going to shower, and Nico nodded in acknowledgement.

“Percy,” Nico spoke into the phone, trying to sound bored.

“Hey my dude.”

“What’s up? Need another hookup with that IT help?”

“You make it sound like I only call you when I need you to fix something.”

“You do. What did you break?”

“I didn’t break anything this time!” Nico noted how proud Percy sounded.

“Okay so what do you need?”

“So you know how Annabeth just started here masters?”

“Yes, I do know that about Annabeth.”

“Well, I was hoping you could help me set up a drawing studio in the extra room in the apartment. I wanted to get her a super sweet setup so she’s less stressed about having space to work.”

“What are we talking about?”

“A dual monitor display and cross-platform compatibility.”

“Percy,” Nico groaned, “That’s not even hard. You said you’d only call me for things that a normal person couldn’t do.”

“Please Neeks!”

“Fine.” He relented, knowing Percy would eventually win this argument anyway.

After a few minutes of small talk, Nico agreed to stop by the next night after his classes to help with the setup. He’d never tell him this, but Nico liked helping him. They’d become really good friends once Nico had gotten over his massive crush on the boy. He looked at his watch and realized he should’ve left for class already.

“Shit!” Nico shouted, grabbing his laptop and paper and shoving them in his bag. Running his fingers through his hair, and putting it up in a ponytail, he exited his room.

He was booking it to class, and arrived with just in time for the professor to walk in. He settled in quickly and started taking notes. This mythology class was stupid easy for him, but attendance was a part of his grade. They were learning about Hades and Persephone that day, and it was one of his favorite stories.

His father has always inspired him with an interest in Greek Mythology, having adopted the name Hades for business purposes. Kind of ironic to own a funeral home called Hades, but that’s his dad’s humor.

Even funnier was that his stepmom’s name was Penelope. Nico always called her Persephone though. It was like a match made in the fields of Asphodel.

The professor reminded them about their upcoming midterm and declared class to be over. He had a nice break between his mythology class and his philosophy class during which he liked to eat lunch. Every once in a while, he would eat lunch with his friend Reyna, but she was at some sort of Greek Council meeting.

He was laying against a tree finishing the last of his fries when he saw something coming towards him out of the corner of his eye. He had just turned his head to see what it was when he felt it hit him. Closing his eyes, he took stock of his situation. Some asshole had hit him in the face with a goddamn frisbee. He snapped his head up and looked around for the source of the annoying object; that’s when time started moving in slow motion.

The curls were the first things he noticed. Beautiful loose blonde curls that both looked perfectly ordered and messy. Next were the eyes, annoyingly blue. Not quite as blue as Percy’s, but with a similar joy behind them. He was tall, probably at least 6’0, and lean. As he approached, Nico shook his head, reminding himself that he was mad.

“Hey are you alright?” The boy asked, kneeling down to meet Nico’s eyes when he arrived.

“I was, until this flying saucer hit me straight in the face.” Blonde boy, even kneeling, was slightly above his eyeline. Nico found that the boy’s hair seemed to blend into the sunlight.

“Yeah, sorry about that. We’re running tryouts and some freshman overestimated his throwing ability.” His smile seemed sincere, and as much as he wanted to, Nico couldn’t seem to stay angry.

“Well they need some more practice.” He made his best effort to look grumpy, but he didn’t think he was very convincing.

“Yeah I guess they do. Sorry again!” The taller boy popped up, grabbing the frisbee from Nico and running off.

Nico blinked after him, taking in that whole encounter. That was one of the hottest dudes he’d ever seen. He looked at his watch and saw he had about 20 minutes before his next class and decided just to head out early.

It was a quick walk to the humanities building. He practically lived in it by now, having spent four years and 115 credits in there. He stopped by the sociology wing and talked briefly with the secretary, Ella.

“Hey El, what’s new?” Nico asked, taking a piece of candy from her bowl.

“Nothing much. How was your fall break?” She was a nice woman, always reading something when Nico came by.

“Uneventful, mostly caught up on some work, played games, watched tv. The usual.” Nico shrugged, counting down in his head to the inevitable comment.

“You really should get out more. My friend has a younger brother if you’re interested. He’s real sweet and this one has a job.” She smiled at him sweetly, and Nico appreciated her. Although he was hesitant because the last guy Ella had tried to set him up with lived in his parent’s basement and smelled bad.

“I’m not really looking for anything, when the time is right, and the person is right, it’ll happen.” For some reason, Nico thought back to the sunshine boy and couldn’t help but smile.

“Okay Nico, but the offer stands if you change your mind.” He smiled at her and waved goodbye, heading down the hall towards his next class.

When Nico got there, there was only a few other people. He took his favorite seat in the third-row center and bided his time. He was playing Tetris when Jason sat down next to him.

“With the Tetris again. You do need some serious practice if you’re gonna hope to beat me.” He sat down, pulling out his own laptop to play against Nico. They had started doing this in their spare time sophomore year. Jason was just stupidly good at it and it pissed Nico off so much.

Before long, their professor walked in and they both closed out of their game. Class was pretty boring, she went over their midterm review and asked for the paper submissions. Nico gave his one last look over before dropping it off in the bin at the front.

Jason had a question about the midterm, so he stayed behind. Nico nodded to him and mouthed that he’d wait outside. There was a nice little lounge area with benches around the corner, so he took out his headphones and sat down. He closed his eyes, letting the music hit him. He drifted off into a light sleep, time passed, but he wasn’t sure how much.

He was startled awake by the feeling of someone’s hand on his shoulder. He reacted immediately, grabbing the person’s hand and twisting it (utilizing that wrestling experience his father had forced him to get.)

“Hey! Hey!” A voice cried, prompting Nico to focus on his presumed attacker. He let go of the other boy’s arm as Jason protested and rubbed his wrist.

“Jesus Neeks! What the fuck?” Jason looked grumpy, but Nico was even grumpier.

“You know I don’t like being touched J. My instincts kick in.” Nico could feel that he was tense and made a conscious effort to unclench his hand. It took a few minutes, but he could feel his body slowly loosen.

“Some instincts.” Jason mumbled, starting to make his way back to their dorm.

Conversation passed easily, as Jason recapped his conversation with Dr. Artemis. Their midterm was the next class, and Jason was freaking out about it.

“How are you so calm? This class has been kicking my ass but you always seem to be fine.” It was funny how similar Jason and Nico were and yet how different their talents were.

“I don’t know J, it just makes sense to me. I may not understand how to act around people, but I just get sociology. I’d much rather have your person skills than be able to study people.” Nico knew that wasn’t entirely true. While he didn’t like how nervous and awkward he got around his peers, he was also very introverted and had never desired to be the center of attention.

He gave Jason his best reassuring smile and refocused his attention. Both boys shared a comfortable silence as they walked back towards their dorm. On the way though, Nico caught a flash of gold out of the corner of his eye. Looking to see what it was, he saw the boy from earlier, the one with the sunshine hair, playing a guitar under the same tree he had been under earlier.

He didn’t notice his footsteps slow or that he was staring, until Jason’s voice caught his focus.

“Nico? Did you hear me? What are you looking at?” Nico shook awake, making sure to quickly break his line of sight. He wasn’t fast enough though, and Jason caught what, or rather who, he was staring at.

“Ooo la la. Who is that Neeks? A gentleman caller?” Jason bumped his shoulder, looking for answers in Nico’s expression.

“Just some asshole who hit me in the face with a frisbee earlier.” Nico responded, shaking his head to make his hair fall in his face; a pitiful attempt to hide his blush. Either Jason didn’t notice or chose to let it go, because he didn’t press anymore. They continued walking and arrived back at their dorm.

“Thrones or Parks?” Jason asked when they got back, pointing to the tv they both shared.

“How far are you in Thrones? I fell behind on break.” They have been watching Game of Thrones together since Nico’s dad had given him his HBOgo login.

“I think I’m almost done with season 3. Do you want to watch the episode you’re on or just rewatch some parks and rec?” Jason asked, settling into his giant run-down bean bag chair.

“I don’t want to pay attention, so let’s do Parks.” Nico knew he was gonna be distracted, after all he couldn’t get that stupid ray of sunshine out of his mind. “I’m gonna work on my thesis proposal while we watch.”

He opened his laptop and found he had a new email.

From: will.solace@olympus.edu
To: nico.diange@olympus.edu
Subject Line: Appointment Confirmation

Mr. Di Angelo,

Your appointment is scheduled for 12:45 in Dr. Apollo’s office in Elysium Hall Room 205.

Sincerely,

Will Solace

The rest of the night passed quickly, and after a dinner of instant Ramen and 6 episodes of Parks and Rec, he fell asleep.