“I think I made a bad decision.”
“Nico, you’re being unreasonable.”
“Hazel, this is literally me being the most reasonable being, ever.”
Nico was currently pacing the Hades cabin as Hazel sat cross-legged on her bed. He had just realized he had feelings for Will and was freaking out, just a little.
“Nico, literally nothing has even happened yet. You haven’t done anything except nervously pace for the past hour.” Hazel rolled her eyes at her brother, feeling her patience wear thin.
“Yeah, but like, I like him.” He stopped and turned towards his sister, eyes wide. “I like Will. Will Solace!” Nico threw his hands up in the air and resumed his pacing.
“Yes,” Hazel drew out, “We established that. An hour ago.”
“Sooo, what I’m saying is that I made the decision to like him. I somehow thought that was okay. And now that I’ve admitted it, and told someone,” he vaguely gestured in her direction, “I can’t take it back. That, right there, is the bad decision. What I should have done was keep it out of my mind and proceeded about life like normal, because now I can’t.” Nico’s hands were now bunched up in his hair, and Hazel was worried he was on the verge of ripping it all out.
“Nico,” she said sternly, causing Nico to look at her as she meaningfully patted the empty space beside her. “Sit down and listen before you either go bald or full white.”
Nico stalked over and plopped down beside his sister, all slumped and pitiful-like. Hazel had to stifle a laugh and re-channel her legionnaire-command voice. “Have you ever considered that this is a good thing? Or that maybe you’re overreacting?” Nico frowned up at her through his bangs, but before he could respond, she forged ahead. “You like Will. Okay, that is duly noted. Next step is to ask him out? Or tell him somehow? Because you’re currently freaking out about the fact that you like him, which will really never change until you do something about it.”
Nico was glaring a hole into the floorboards of their cabin. Well, at least the rambling stopped, Hazel thought to herself.
“But—” Nevermind. “I think you’re forgetting the in-between consideration of if Will likes me back. Or even the step before that of whether or not Will even likes guys. But before that—” Hazel groaned loudly, throwing her head back, but Nico was determined to say his piece. “I think it just makes more sense for me to not do anything. I think we can just let this realization blow over and just, forget about it.” He shrugged, trying to emphasize how unimportant this was. “It’ll be fine, nothing will change, and—”
“And,” Hazel continued for him, “you can let this eat you alive every time you see Will, which is very often, mind you, until you go insane.” She raised an unconvinced eyebrow at him. “Tell me why, exactly, this is a ‘bad decision’?”
Nico squinted his eyes at her. “First off, I can control myself, Hazel. Second, it’s a bad decision for many reasons.” He stood up and began pacing again, to which Hazel promptly fell back on the bed with an even louder groan than before. “One,” he ticked off on his fingers, “Will might not like guys, so that would just be utterly embarrassing for me.” Nico cringed at the thought of seeing Will look disgustingly at him. He knows Will would be better than that, but still. He couldn’t imagine living through the humiliation of liking a hot, straight guy twice in his lifetime. “Two, if Will does like guys, he might not like me since I’m a weird, dark, creepy son of Hades, which is the literal opposite of him. He’s all sunshine and happiness and healing and wonderful and…” Nico realized he would’ve kept going if he didn’t literally snap his mouth shut. He glanced over at Hazel, who had rolled over and propped her head up on her hand, looking up at Nico with a smirk. His face heated up.
“Can I just say—”
“No,” Nico stopped Hazel before she could interrupt. “Let me finish my list, then you can say whatever.”
Hazel looked at him incredulously. “How long is this list??”
Nico ignored her question and continued. “Third, even if Will did like me, I’m sure I can’t be what he needs. I have no idea what to do in a relationship, I hate physical touch, I can barely—no, I can’t hold a conversation, and I don’t know what else because I haven’t been in a relationship, but I’m sure I can’t do it.” Nico frowned in thought. Maybe he wanted to hold Will’s hand, but in front of others? No way. But if Will wanted that, who was Nico to stand in the way? Will should get to express his feelings how he wants, and he should get all the perks of being in a relationship. Nico couldn’t promise him anything close to that.
Nico shook his head. “Fourth, even if we did date, I am 100% sure I’d ruin it.” At this, Hazel sat up, a protest on her lips, but Nico quickly kept going. “I would, it’s not like it would be his fault. If anyone would mess up, it would be me. I’m not meant for happiness like that. I have so much schist in my life, there is no way I am tainting William ‘Literal Sunshine’ Solace. He deserves to be happy and I can’t be selfish and take that away. I’ll say something wrong and it’ll hurt him, I’ll run off randomly and worry him, I’ll do something and Will will get the negative effects.” Nico had stopped pacing at this point, staring dejectedly down at his feet. He knew all of this in his head, but saying it out loud, Nico knew he couldn’t let his crush grow to anything more than that. He couldn’t, wouldn’t bring Will down with him. He was basically a bad luck charm – looking back on his life, that wasn’t hard to believe, especially in the love department. Death and destruction followed him. He would hurt Will. “I just know it,” Nico whispered.
Suddenly, strong arms wrapped themselves around his torso and brown curls filled his vision. “Oh, Nico,” Hazel whispered into his chest. She looked up at him, her expression concerned but understanding. And then, “You’re so dumb.”
Nico was taken aback. “W-What?” he stammered.
Hazel sighed, pulling him to sit back on the bed. She brought her legs up and fully faced him, holding on to both of his hands. “Nico di Angelo, you are an amazing person, and don’t you forget it.” Nico’s eyebrows creased in confusion and opened his mouth to speak, but Hazel put a finger to his lips. “Na-ah! My turn now,” she smirked, then sobered up once more and continued. “You are a hero. You fought in two wars. You saved countless lives. You rescued me,” she smiled fondly at him. “You went through so much to help Percy and defeat Gaea. You, dear brother, single-handedly transported the Athena Parthenos and two passengers across the Atlantic. You almost died saving the world, several times probably. You,” she poked him in the chest for emphasis, “are so incredible and awe-inspiring. You just need to see it. Don’t you dare think that you are anything less.”
Nico was at a loss for words. He expected a few things from this conversation, but not this. He didn’t know how to handle being praised so highly. It didn’t make sense to him.
Luckily, he was spared from responding as Hazel moved forward. “Now, I wasn’t going to tell you this because I thought you should find out on your own, but I now see how hopeless you are.” Nico squawked indignantly as Hazel rolled her eyes. “You are. Anyways,” she flicked her hair back and looked Nico directly in the eyes. “Will is definitely into guys, and he’s definitely into you.”
Hazel waited for that to sink in. She would have to wait for an eternity, because that was not processing at all in Nico’s brain. Will is into guys? Will is gay? But he could’ve sworn he heard something about an ex-girlfriend. Can he like both? Is that a thing? Wait, wait, back on track… wait, Will is into Nico? That’s not possible… wait, “How do you even know that?” Nico voiced. Hazel doesn’t go to this camp, there’s no way she could pick up on that in the few times she and Will have interacted.
“Nico, I know all things.” Nico gave her a deadpan look, and Hazel gave it up immediately. “Okay, okay, so Piper has told me things. But also,” she held up a finger defensively. “I can tell by the stories you tell me about you and Will.” She smiled, remembering how every Iris message they had involved the healer somehow. “You guys hang out all the time! So, obviously, he doesn’t not like you. So, you can cross that one off your list.” She motioned sweepingly, as if throwing out the list completely. Nico frowned, not appreciating his list being dismissed so easily. “Will totally likes you, Nico, or he wouldn’t nag you about your health,” now she was the one ticking things off on her fingers, “insist on you sitting at the Apollo table, ask you to help in the infirmary, sit by you at the campfire, stay up late talking outside your cabin until the harpies begin to swarm—”
“Okay, okay, enough. I get it,” Nico cut her off before he could become more embarrassed. In this context, it did sound like Will paid more attention to Nico than a normal friend would. But— “Will is a nice guy, though,” Nico protested. Why am I protesting when I want this to happen? Oh right, because— “That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’ll mess up somehow, and then my friendship with Will will be gone too, and I can’t…” Can’t live without him, Nico realized, and that scared him even more than the crush.
Hazel put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “No one knows what they’re doing in relationships, Nico. It’s something you figure out together. That’s the beauty of it,” she threaded her fingers together with Nico’s, “you get someone to walk alongside you, to figure out life together. It’s not always easy, and it’s rarely ever simple, but it’s real as long as you’re real. And honest. And the most honest thing you can do right now is tell Will how you feel.” Nico took a breath, ready to object, that no that still seems… scary, but Hazel already knew what he was going to say. “It’s scary, terrifying really, but it’s the most real thing you can do. I can’t make you any real promises,” though Hazel very much wanted to, “but I am confident that you won’t regret it. You can’t have this weigh down on you forever.”
Nico deflated, all fight leaving his body. He couldn’t say much to that. The thought of getting it out in the open sounded… freeing, but also paralyzing. But his sister seemed really sure on the Will liking him part, and he trusted her, wanted her to be right.
He still felt like running away, like burying his feelings would make them go away, but he knew better than that. And, as paranoid as he was, this felt different from Percy. He was an infatuation from the start. But Nico had been friends with Will for months now, he didn’t have any grand illusions about him. They knew each other, and somehow, their relationship didn’t seem as impossible as Nico had thought pre-rant.
For the first time, Nico actually felt hopeful.
He turned and hugged his sister tightly. “Thank you,” he said softly into her hair. He felt her smile against his shoulder and squeeze just a little tighter.
She glanced up at him suddenly, a teasing smirk on her lips. “William ‘Literal Sunshine’ Solace, huh?”
Nico pushed her away and rolled his eyes, feeling the blush in his cheeks betray him. “Shut up.”