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Kisses Of The Broken

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Chapter One; POV one
(Nico POV)

 

Nico’s heart broke when he knew he was right. He despised being right.

Awakening with a start, Nico Di Angelo propelled himself forwards, uprooting the sheets, and nearly breaking his nose on the bedpost. His hands were clammy and there was a pit in his stomach.
/Holy shit,/ he thought.
There was a powerful chill settling into him, and he needed to know if his dream had been accurate. He prayed to every god he could think of that it wasn’t true.
The slender, pallid young man hurriedly got out of his bunk and tugged on the first clean clothes he could find, before throwing his cabin door open.
The sun was pale and the morning was cold. Grey clouds parted around their protected valley, but the air still smelled of an oncoming storm.
Most of the campers were still asleep in their cabins. The day seemed to have only just begun, and yet, it was already becoming one of the most terrifying days of Nico’s life.

Since the Giant War and the defeat of Gaea, Nico Di Angelo had taken to staying at Camp Half Blood, with his new boyfriend, Will Solace. Their relationship was going well, and Nico was almost happy.
Almost.
Sure, he cared very deeply for Will, and he enjoyed being with the child of Apollo, but it still wasn’t perfect, because Nico’s denial had lost the battle with his true feelings.
Nico was still head-over-heels for a certain son of Poseidon.
Fortunately for Nico, though, the painful feelings had become easier to manage, for a couple of reasons.
Reason number 1; His emotions were out in the open, and no one had scorned him.
Reason number 2; The certain son of Poseidon and his girlfriend weren’t at camp.
Reason number 3; He had Will to distract him.
Nico definitely had feelings for his boyfriend, and he wanted to stay with him. But, deep down in his hidden heart, he also wanted to be with Percy Jackson.

Slamming the door to the Big House behind him, Nico whirled around, searching.
“Chiron!” He called, almost shouting. “Chiron!”
The centaur clopped out of the hallway, looking startled and grave. He was followed by Grover the satyr.
“Grover,” Nico demanded, feeling darkness spilling off his shoulders. “What happened in California?”
“Mr. Di Angelo—“ Chiron began.
“What happened to him?” Nico couldn’t hide the panic in his voice as he interrupted.
Grover looked like he knew what Nico meant. He seemed tired, as if he had just gone on a long journey. His hair was almost shaggy and there were bags under his eyes.

 

Several months after the Giant War had concluded, a bunch of things had happened at once.
Percy had left to help his pregnant mother, and Annabeth had gone to Boston for some sort of family matters. Then, out of the blue, a mortal teenager with horrid acne had appeared at Camp Half Blood with a little girl, claiming to be Apollo.
Apollo, who had been silent for so long.
Apollo, whose son was Nico’s boyfriend.
Apollo, who was now on a life-threatening quest to defeat yet another enemy on a world-domination rampage.
This triumvirate of risen dead had taken hold of the worlds Oracles, and was causing mass chaos.
Obviously, a bad situation.
Last time Nico had seen the group was when they stopped by Camp Half Blood for a few days, before they tramped off on their quest. He hadn’t paid much attention to it since then, really. Hadn’t thought of them since they left.
But after his dream, the massive cruise ships, the blood, Piper’s sobbing, and worst of all…
He couldn’t bring himself to think of it. It just couldn’t be true.

“Nico, I really don’t think—“ Grover tried to say, sounding nervous.
“Don’t lie to me!” The younger man snapped. There were shadows extending from the soles of his shoes, and the world had been tinted in a watery shade of grey. “Is it true?”
“We should wait until breakfast, with everyone else—“
“Tell me now! What happened to him?” Seymour, mounted on the wall, was whining and trying to recoil from the spreading darkness.
“Mr. Di Angelo,” Chiron, speaking gently, stepped forward and reached a hand out, as if to place it on the son of Hades shoulder. He didn’t; he was smarter than that. “Jason knew what he was doing.”

 

Ringing.
Ringing.
All Nico could hear was ringing.
The volume of the Blackshirts marching below in the streets made his sensitive eardrums throb. He frowned down at them, covering his ears with hands. The cheering crowds didn’t help much.
“Mom?” He glanced over his shoulder, calling out in Italian. “Can we close the balcony?”
“No, dear,” His mother looked incredibly tired. She hadn’t gotten much sleep as she worked on getting them safe passage to America. “Mussolini will not like that.”
“But it’s so loud,” Bianca complained next to her little brother. “And they are bad people.”
“My ears hurt, mom,” Nico whined.
“Pain is a part of life, dear.”

“He can’t be dead,” He breathed.
“I’m sorry, Nico,” Grover stuttered, “We plan on telling everyone else some time today.”
“Is there anyone else who already knows?” Chiron asked.
“Just Leo, Piper, Apollo, and me,” The satyr sighed, “It happened just a few days ago. He’s being taken to Camp Jupiter for a Roman Burial.” Grover tried not to glance at Nico.
The demigod was frozen. The shadows had receded into him, and it felt like ice water had been injected into his heart.
The person he had trusted above all others was gone.
The first person to have accepted him had left him.

Jason Grace was dead.

“We may have to Iris Message Perseus and Annabeth,” Chiron frowned, a sad gleam in his eyes. “They’re not here at the moment, they’ve gone to Boston.”
“Percy’s headed back, I think,” Grover was removing his backpack and putting it on the couch. “From what I can tell from our empathy link.”
“Mr. Di Angelo,” Chiron turned his attention to Nico, who was still shell-shocked. “I think it would be best if you head down to breakfast. Talk to Mr. Solace.”
“Will,” Nico murmured, numb. “Yeah.”
Without another word, he spun on his heel and marched like a machine out the door and down to the dining pavilion.
Campers had begun to gather at their tables and were chatting amongst themselves, waiting for Chiron and Mr. D to arrive and start up breakfast.
Without really knowing what he was doing, Nico stumbled to the Apollo table (where he sat on the daily; Doctors orders) and carefully sat himself down next to Will.
“Hey, Neek.” Will smiled at him, but his bright grin shattered when he saw the look on his boyfriends face. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
The younger boy couldn’t bring himself to look at his boyfriend. The blue eyes would unnerve him— they suddenly looked so much more like Jason’s.
“Jason,” He whispered. The name felt like a white hot knife being shoved into his heart. “He’s dead.”

Normally, Nico was very good at hiding his emotions. Over the years, he had built up a solid wall inside himself, so no one could read him. He didn’t like it when people could read him.
When he started dating Will, it hadn’t really changed, but his boyfriend could get something of a vibe on most days. He knew when Nico hadn’t slept well, or when he had horrible nightmares of his time in Tartarus or Rome. He could guess when Nico was thinking about his late sister, or when he was in a good mood.
That wall, that carefully built dam that Nico had preserved for so long, now had a leak.
And Will knew it.

Nico couldn’t stop himself at that moment.
Everything hurt too much.
It all crashed down and bearing the weight was too painful.
Nico began to cry.
His pride was fading as each tear fell. Thankfully, Will gently took his arm and guided him as quickly as he could out of the pavillion and to Nico’s cabin. They settled inside and the tears fell harder.
There were no words to be spoken.
Will wrapped his arms protectively around the smaller boy he cared so much for, as Nico wept for Jason Grace.

 

Chapter One; POV Two
(Will POV)

 

William Solace didn’t really know Jason Grace all that well.
He knew that Jason had been one of the seven. He knew Jason had been from New Rome, lived in Pasadena, and was a good guy. He knew that Jason had been the first person to know about Nico. And he knew that Nico trusted Jason, cared for Jason, and seemed to love him like a brother. As far as Will could tell, the few times he saw Jason and Nico together, Jason also loved Nico like a brother.
Clearly, though, there was tension. Nico was still uncomfortable with himself and his identity, last time Jason had stopped by the camp.
/Last time./
Jason Grace had been between camps when he could be, working on his plans for temples and cabins for every god or goddess he knew of. It was a noble cause, and Will respected him greatly for it.
Will also respected the son of Jupiter for how much he had cared for Nico.
Will knew that Nico still struggled deeply with who he was. The poor boy had been born in the 1930’s, under the rule of Mussolini. He had been taught since birth that it was a sin to be gay.
But he had improved. Being with Will had helped him.
Will prided himself on that, just a bit.
It pleased him that he could help Nico, that he could heal Nico.
It also pleased him that Nico wanted to be with him over Percy Jackson.
But it most certainly broke Will’s heart to know how much his Nico was hurting inside. Jason had been the first person he trusted since Bianca, and now the Roman was gone.

“Neek, breathe, hun,” He gently stroked his boyfriend’s raven hair as they reclined on Nico’s bunk. “You have to breathe.”
The younger boy was partially curled in the fetal position on the blonde’s chest, with Will’s arms secured around his torso. His shaggy black hair was in his eyes and his hands were clenched in fists, his already-olive knuckles getting paler with the strain.
He was muttering to himself, seemingly unaware of the hot tears rolling down his face, as he stared at his fists. “He’s gone.”
“I know hun,” Will was trying to keep calm. The death of a demigod was one of the worst things he could think of, and it hurt him, but seeing Nico reduced to tears was killing him more than anything. “But you’ll be able to visit him, sometimes, won’t you? He’s a hero, Neek, he’ll be in Elysium. Your father will make sure of that,” Will wasn’t much for long speeches— He was more of a short sentences type of guy. But this situation seemed to call for a lot more than that, and he knew it. “Jason was a great guy— Hun, focus, you’re shadowing again—” He paused to make sure Nico didn’t accidentally cause the dead to rise. “—And everyone knew it. He also helped you to open up and be assured in yourself. I’m eternally grateful for that. I’m sure Hades is too. You’re happier now, and it’s because of him. He will make it to Elysium, and you can visit him.”
Nico didn’t answer.
When Nico cried (which, Will noticed, was very rare) he cried silently, and didn’t cry for very long. This was no exception.
After a few minutes, the tears slowed, and then stopped. Shakily, Nico took a deep breath.
“Don’t lock it up, Neek,” Will placed his hand over Nico’s. “Talk to me.”
“...He was the first to know,” After hesitation, the son of Hades began to speak. “He was the first person I trusted, a-after Bianca… He was like my brother… He accepted me…”
“We all accept you,” Will traced inconsequential patterns into the back of Nico’s hand. “There’s nothing wrong with who we are.”
“I-I know… But Will, he was the first…”
“How did it happen?”
“He was helping Apollo… They were on a cruise ship, and Jason was battling the emperor… He was shot and stabbed… I-I don’t want to talk right now, I just… Want to sit here…”
“Okay.”
The tear stains on Will’s t-shirt were starting to dry as comfortable silence consumed them. It was dark in the Hades cabin— There was just one window up by the ceiling, stretching from one wall to the other. It was just a little peek of the grey sky above. From the cabin, Will could just barely hear the campers in the pavillion. Their voices sounded upset. Chiron must have told them about Jason. He wondered if Jason would have a banner burning ceremony, even though he was a Roman demigod.
Will felt bad that he felt so detached from the situation. He had never really known Jason. Yes, of course it hurt him to see Nico crying. Yes, of course it hurt him that a demigod had died. But it was a dull pain that clearly didn’t ache the way Nico was hurting.
Suddenly there was warmth on his chest. More tears were streaming down his boyfriend’s face. Will blinked in surprise, but didn’t say anything.

“Nico,” Will called, his voice muffled a bit by the surgeons mask he wore. “C’mere! If you refuse to lay down, then come and help at least.
The son of Hades frowned and crossed his arms. He was so pale he might as well have been green, and it was such a stark contrast to his black hair, eyes, and clothes that it could have given people veritgo. “Excuse me?” He said.
“Doctor’s orders!” The son of Apollo smirked under his mask. ‘Doctor’s orders’ had become his new excuse to annoy (read: flirt with) the younger teen. “The human contact will help with your condition.”
Beautiful eyes rolled before Nico stalked over to Will. “What do you want?”
/To go out with you,/ He had thought.
“Take these bandages and wash them out.”

The older boy carefully glanced at his watch, as to not disturb Nico. Nearly an hour had passed since they had rushed out of breakfast. At the thought, Will’s stomach grumbled, and he mentally cursed himself.
“Will,” Nico’s voice was quiet. “Please, go get something to eat. I’ll be alright here on my own.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
The raven-haired boy rose. His eyes were puffy and there was a pink flush to his cheeks from crying, even though the tears had stopped. And he looked so broken. Another crack seemed to form in his glassy eyes as he gazed at his boyfriend, another shard of himself breaking away.
“You need to eat,” A weak, fake-looking smile pulled at Nico’s thin lips. “Doctor’s orders.”
“Don’t you go stealing my line, now,” Will smiled back gently. “I’ll be back in just a minute with some food for you and me.”
“Okay.”
He squeezed Nico’s hand once before he extracted himself from under the son of Hades and quietly stepping outside into the dreary day.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two; POV one
(Nico POV)

 

Damn those blue eyes.
Damn those blue eyes that were so much like Jason’s.
Nico could hardly look at Will because it hurt so much all of a sudden.
/He isn’t Jason,/ He reminded himself. /He doesn’t even look that much like him. /
But he wasn’t doing anything but trying to fool himself.
Again.

 

“You’re just not my type,” Nico rolled his eyes, trying to explain it for the fifth time, fighting a smile. “It’s nothing you did, you just aren’t—”
“But—”
“Boys,” Annabeth grinned as she sauntered over to Percy and Nico. “Quit. Percy, it’s time to pack.” She pecked him on the cheek, and a pang of jealousy went off in Nico’s heart.
/Wait— What?/
“Alright, Wise Girl,” Percy chuckled and kissed the blonde’s nose. “Be back soon.”
As the son of Poseidon walked away, Nico caught himself watching him longingly.
/I thought I was over him?/
Annabeth had seemed to notice too. She gave him a sad smile. Nico frowned in return.
“Nico,” She spoke gently. “I think you may have just been fooling yourself when you thought—”
“No,” He tried not to sound violent. “No, I’m not still crushing on him. I swear, I’m not.”

 

“Hun, you need to eat,” Will pushed Nico’s plate towards him. There was a hot pile of al dente pasta with plenty of sauce, and on any other day, Nico would have been happy to eat some, but now he felt queasy. Especially looking at the blonde-haired boy sitting across from him at the Hades table.
Two days had passed since the banner burning ceremony. It was midday— Just after lunch had concluded. Nico hadn’t improved much, if at all; He had separated himself from the Apollo cabin table and had taken to staying in his cabin and sitting at his table for meals. He had even skipped out on the campfire the night after Jason’s banner burning— He didn’t want to listen to people tell their stories about Jason. Percy and Annabeth being back at camp wasn’t helping either— If anything, it was making his condition worse, seeing the two holding each other as they mourned Jason.
Percy had tried to talk to Nico about it, and so had Annabeth, but all he did was deflect them and push them away.
“I’m not hungry,” Nico said.
“You’re losing weight that you don’t have,” Will raised an eyebrow. Gods, he looked just like Jason when he did that. “At least have one bite. Doctor’s orders.”
Black hair fell into his eyes as Nico shook his head.
“Jason would want you to.”
Glaring with the power to kill, Nico locked his eyes on Will. There was a sympathetic and apologetic look on his face, but he was still pushing the plate of pasta forwards.
“You’re playing dirty, Solace,” Nico whispered dangerously. “Don’t play that kinda card.”
“I’m sorry, Neek, but you need to eat.”
Still angry, Nico snatched the plate from Will and shoved it halfway down the table, far out of reach.
“Nico,” Will frowned at him. “Why would you do that?”

 

“That’s impossible,” Heat was building up behind Nico’s eyes as he held back tears. He was so in shock that he was actually confiding in the girl in front of him. “Seriously, Annabeth, I don’t still feel like that.”
“It’s okay if you do, Neek,” The daughter of Athena assured him. “You can talk to me about it.”
“But I’m into Will now,” Nico muttered under his breath, confused, his thoughts a horrible whirlpool. “I swear, I’m into Will…”
“It’s entirely possible to have feelings for two people at once.”
“Then how come I was so sure of it before?”
“You may have been blindsided by how you were feeling, and are feeling, about Will.”
“I gotta go…”
Without another word, Nico spun on his heel and stormed off.

 

“I’m sorry,” The anger faded and Nico looked down at his hands, feeling ashamed.
Will reached over the table and took his hand. “It’s alright. I know you’re upset right now and it’s okay. But hun, you have to eat. Starving yourself isn’t going to make him come back.”
Sighing heavily, Nico got up and brought the plate back to his seat. He lifted a small forkful to his mouth and, reluctantly, ate it. The pasta reminded him painfully of his mother’s cooking, but he continued to eat to appease William.
Out of the corner of his eye, Nico noticed Percy Jackson wander past the pavillion, but the son of Poseidon was gone as soon as he had appeared.
Pain flared in Nico’s chest as he thought about Percy.
Then, he looked up at Will, and the pain only got worse.
He couldn’t take it anymore, just couldn’t take this shit anymore.
“What?” Will asked. “Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something in my teeth?”

Chapter Two; POV Two
(Will POV)

 

The pale son of Hades flinched and backed away from him as he reached out, causing Will to frown. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t like to be touched,” Nico murmured. “I know we just started dating and all, but… I just don’t like to be touched.”
“Oh,” Will blinked. “Okay.”
“I’m sorry,” Nico looked indescribably sad and somehow angry.
“What are you sorry for?”
“I… I want…” The younger boy seemed to struggle with his words, before he steadied himself with a deep breath. “I want to be okay with it. I want… I want to be able to hold your hand.”
A massive grin proliferated across Will’s face.
“Then we’ll work up to it,” He said.
At that statement, the son of Hades looked flabbergasted. “We’ll… What?”
“Here, come sit next to me here,” Will patted the spot on the bench next to him, on the other side of the Hades table. “We’ll start by sitting next to each other.”
Hesitantly, Nico stood up and shuffled over to Will’s side, where he plopped himself down. “Wipe that smile off your face, ya’ sunspot… It’s freaking me out.”
At that, Will laughed.

 

“What? Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something in my teeth?”

 

Shoulders brushed shoulders as Will and Nico walked side by side, their hands grazing.
Carefully and cautiously, Nico intertwined their fingers.
Will flashed him a grin before squeezing his hand gently and they continued forward, to the dining pavilion.

 

“Will, this all just hurts so much…” The raven-haired teenager hung his head.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Nico hissed, sounding terrified. “What if the harpies—”
“Hush and let me in, dork!” Will chuckled, before carefully pushing past his boyfriend. “I never took you for one to follow the rules.”
“It’s late! You should be asleep!”
“So should you.”
“Shut up, Sunspot.”
“I wanted to keep working with you. Working on us.”
Nico’s voice bumped up three octaves. He sounded horrified. “In my cabin? At night? William Solace, I swear to all the gods of Olympus, if you think we are gonna—”
Will interrupted him with a quiet laugh. “No, Neek, don’t freak out, we’re not going to do the dirty. We’re just gonna sit on your bunk.”
Nico didn’t budge.
Rolling his blue eyes, the son of Apollo crawled into Nico’s coffin-shaped bed and leaned against the wall. He beckoned Nico forward, and gestured to the spot on the mattress, directly beside him. “Sit down, hun.”
There was a moment of silence as Nico deliberated, before he doddered over and sat down. Their shoulders pressed against each other.
“Now,” Will said, “I’m going to put my arm over your shoulder, okay?”
The son of Hades tensed up, but muttered a quiet “Okay.”
Benignly, the blonde draped an arm over his boyfriend’s svelte shoulders.
Minutes passed, feeling like hours, before Nico relaxed and leaned into the embrace.

 

“I know, honey. Losing Jason is a lot. It’ll be okay, though. It’s only been a few days, it’ll get better with time.”

 

Nico woke up in a panic, which startled Will into stirring from his light sleep. Hyperventilating, the smaller teen shuddered violently.
“What’s wrong?”
“Dreams,” Nico shivered again. “Horrible dreams.”
“About Tartarus?”
Nico nodded and no more words were necessary.
They had gotten to the point where they could lie in Nico’s bunk and nap, Nico’s head in the crook of Will’s tan neck and Will’s arm around his waist. It made Will ecstatic that Nico felt comfortable enough to sleep beside him.
And suddenly, as Nico began to cry, they took their next steps.
Nico dove into Will’s embrace and was practically sitting on his lap, which Will tried to ignore, because /now is not the time, Solace./ Their chests were pressed together so closely that Will felt like Nico’s fluttering heartbeat was becoming and aligning with his own, and it was a perfect feeling.
/Shit, is this what love feels like? /

 

“Will,” Nico couldn’t meet his eye. “I don’t think this is gonna work.”

 

“Shh, honey, it’s okay,” The son of Apollo rubbed circles into Nico’s upper back as the pale boy shook in his tan arms. This was the third time Nico had woken up from a nap in a cold sweat, due to nightmares of his time in Tartarus. “Nothing’s going to hurt you. I’m here, I’ve got you.”
From time to time, Will mildy wondered if Nico should see a therapist.
But then he remembered, or more accurately, reminded himself, that he was basically Nico’s therapist, and he was helping him. The thought always made the pain of Nico’s tears worth it to him.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Stay perfectly still, please.” Nico whispered. “Keep your eyes closed.”
It was their five-month anniversary. They were out by Bunker nine, having something of a picnic in the woods. Nico had told Will he had a surprise for him, and asked Will to close his eyes.
Apprehensively, Nico pressed a tender kiss to Will’s tan cheek, before pulling back. When Will opened his eyes, he saw a very high-strung Nico, his cheeks tinted pink.
“Thank you,” The son of Apollo surged forward and crushed his boyfriend in a powerful hug. “For trusting me enough to do that.”
“Can’t. Breathe.”

 

“I need to break up with you, Will.”

Chapter Text

Chapter three: POV One
(Percy POV)

 

“Are you kidding me?” Percy snapped at his girlfriend, Annabeth. There were remnants of tear stains left on his face and his shirt collar. The streaks on his face seemed to have been made permanent, as if his pain were a pale tattoo, never to leave him again.

Four days had passed since the banner burning ceremony.
Percy Jackson was on edge as he stood on the beach, far away from camp, but close enough to walk. His nerves were shot, frayed, and broken. There were moments when he would just start to cry for no apparent reason, then realize he was thinking about Jason, and how he would probably never get to see him again.
Being back at Camp Half Blood wasn’t doing him much good. There were so many wonderful memories he had here, and they were being tainted by the pain of his loss. He had been in Boston, with Annabeth, helping train Magnus Chase, Annabeth’s dead cousin (don’t ask. It’s wild.) learn fun new stuff about boats. Then, the world had come crashing down, with the news of Jason Grace’s sudden and painful death.
Suffice it so say, Percy was unstable, and needed all the support he could get, as he mourned the loss of one of his best friends.
And now Annabeth was abandoning him.

“Magnus needs my help,” The daughter of Athena frowned at the tone Percy had just used with her. “I need to go back.”
“You /need/ to stay here,” He retorted curtly. “How can you just walk away from this?”

 

For once, the pair was silent as they battled. The news of Jason was weighing heavily on them, and so there was no playful banter as they slashed through the monsters that opposed them.
It was nothing too serious, just a pair of those dog-headed men that had apparently made it out of the destruction of the battle on Half Blood Hill in the Giant War. They had been following Percy and Annabeth as they made their way back from Boston.
Nonetheless, even as they fought in silence, they fought in perfect unison, their teamwork an unbeatable force.

 

“I’m not walking away from anything.”
“Yes you are. You’re just dropping it like it never happened. You never liked Jason anyway.” Percy couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice. It wasn’t normal for him to act like this, nor was it normal for him and Annabeth to fight, but he was destroyed by the death of Jason Grace.
“How can you say that?” Annabeth stared at her boyfriend. “Of course I liked Jason! He was a good friend! I’m hurting just as much as you are right now, Percy.”
“Sure as hell doesn’t seem like it,” He spat.
Looking wounded, Annabeth took a step back, before fury built up in her stormy grey eyes. “I /am/ hurting just as much as you. But I am getting on with my life, and clearly handling this much better than y—”
“/‘Getting on with your life’/?” Percy roared. “You’re running away from your problems, is what you’re doing!”
“No I’m not! I just don’t have the time to sit around and cry like a baby over something you can’t change, Percy!”
“You’re just making excuses to /leave/!”
“Maybe that’s because I’m /happier/ in /Boston/, you asshole!”

 

Pale hands grasped pale hands as the two demigods passed through the magic barrier and into camp. They were greeted by Chiron the centaur.
"The ceremony will be tonight," He looked bedraggled and worn. "Everyone worked together to weave him his banner. I'm sorry you couldn't have added your own touches to it, but I'm sure you will be proud of the work everyone else has done."

 

A mortified silence consumed them.
Percy was the one to break it, his voice melancholy and broken.
“Are you?” He questioned softly. “Are you happier there? Away from me?”
Annabeth has a terrified look in her grey eyes. Realization seems to be dawning on her, and drawing out all the color from her face.
“...I—” She began, but halted as Percy clenched his jaw and began to speak again, even gentler than before.
“Would you rather be single, Annabeth?”
There was an infinite pause before she opened her mouth to answer.

 

Chapter Three, POV two
(Annabeth POV)

 

After everything she had been through with Percy.

After all the quests, all the adventures.

After everything she had put up with to make it this far in her life.

After all the pain they had endured together.

For it all to just fall apart like this.

 

“I think I might, Percy…”

“That’s okay,” He spoke quickly, stepping forward and gripping her arm, as if to make sure he wasn’t having a nightmare.
It certainly seemed like this was a nightmare— At least to Annabeth, it did.

“But I love you, Percy,” She was holding back tears now.
“I love you too, Annabeth,” He was choking on his words. “But you’ve just said it yourself— You’re happier on your own. That’s okay.”
The blonde enveloped Percy in a tight hug as she began to cry. He returned the embrace, burying his face in her wavy hair.

The daughter of Athena tried to breathe in every detail of Percy that she could. The smell of the ocean that was always with him. The way his hair was never the same on any given day; always a mess, but never the same mess as the day before. The color of his eyes— gods, those perfect eyes. His sparkling smile that never ceased to dazzle her.
How, in the name of every god there was, had she lost her love for this boy?

/You never lost the love,/ Her thoughts answered sadly. /It just isn’t the love it was./

All too soon, Percy ended the hug, pulling away and gripping her shoulders as he held her at arm's length. The space, in this tragic time, was too much for Annabeth, and so she pushed forwards and pressed her lips to Percy’s, one final time.
The taste of salt was still there, as if lingering from a swim.

Seconds passed, but it felt like Kronos had risen and slowed everything down. Finally, Annabeth stepped back. Tears were rolling down both of their faces as they looked at each other.

“I’ll always love you, Seaweed Brain,” She managed a thin smile.
“And I’ll always love you too, Wise Girl,” He pulled her into his chest for another hug. “Promise me that we will still be friends.”
“Of course,” She sniffled. “Who else would you have to tell you which shoe to put on which foot?”
Percy laughed, and it was a painful sound, despite it being one of the most beautiful things Annabeth had ever heard in her life.

Everything about Percy had suddenly been tinged with melancholy.

“It’s going to be okay,” Percy was whispering. It seemed like it was more to reassure himself that his now ex-girlfriend. “I promise it’ll be okay.”

 

And so they were friends.

 

.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four, POV One
(Nico POV)

 

Well, shit.

Perched precariously at the top of Zeus’s fist (an outcropping of rocks in the woods), Nico Di Angelo was fiddling with his silver skull ring. Thoughts raced through his head at the speed of light. Or, as he prefered to say, at the speed of death.
This was the only place he had been able to find that was a good hiding spot.
He had just recently been informed of the supposed breakup of Annabeth and Percy. It had come as a massive shock to everyone, and people put it down as “only a rumor” or trying to explain it as “a stress fracture in the relationship.” Most people believed they would get back together by the end of the week. Personally, Nico thought that it was true, but they wouldn’t be getting back together. Or, maybe it was just hope. Who knew. But that wasn’t really the main thing he had on his mind. He was thinking about Will.

 

“Oh,” The blonde had said, a stupid, blank look on his face, which infuriated Nico. “Oh.”
“Th-That’s all you have to say?” The younger man hissed.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No.”
“Do you not feel the same as you did?”
“S… Sort of. Why are you asking these questions?” Nico was shrinking back into his own shadows at each word. He had been secretly hoping Will would put up a fight, try and keep him there, try to prevent their relationship from ending.
“Because, if it’s not something I can fix, then there’s not any reason for me to argue.” Will’s voice was taking on a sorrowful tone. “I care very deeply about you, Nico, but if you don’t feel the same, then I won’t force you to stay.”
Attempting to hide the disconsolate expression on his face, the son of Hades bowed his head and gritted his teeth. Deep down, he was beyond thankful for Will’s kindness. It would have torn him to shreds if he had to argue with the son of Apollo.
“Neek.”
He didn’t look up, but he listened.
“If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. You still need friends. Doctor’s orders.”

 

“Nico?” A familiar voice was wafting up from the base of Zeus’s fist.
“Hm?” The pale teenager leaned over the edge to try and see who was speaking, and nearly slid off the side of the rocks when he saw a forlorn-looking Perseus Jackson’s startling green eyes. “Percy!”
“Why are you up there?”
“Why are you here?” Unintentional venom creeped into his tone. This damn son of the sea god was one of the reasons Nico had broken up with Will. What an asshole. What business does he have, looking so cute, like a sad puppy?
Nico blinked.
Stupid son of a bitch. He’s not cute, you dumbass, quit.
“I wanted to go for a walk,” Percy frowned. There were glistening tear stains down his cheeks. “To clear my head. What about you?”
“...Pretty much the same thing.”
“Are you okay?”
Di Angelo sighed deeply. “I should be asking you that. Is it true that you and Annabeth…?”
“Yeah,” There was a certain restraint to his voice, as if his broad chest were being constricted. “We broke up.”
“May I ask why?”
“...She… Prefered being on her own.”
That wasn’t much of an explanation, but the obvious torment in Percy’s voice made Nico want to drop the subject. He hated himself for feeling such a thing.
“Did you and Will?”
The question caught Nico off guard. “Huh?”
“I heard that you broke up with Will.”
Still no tact, huh? Jeez.
Masking the discomfort inside, Nico leaned away from the edge of Zeus’s fist. He could still see Percy down below, but was far from where Percy could see him. “Ah… Yes.”
“Why?”
Without thinking, Nico blurted, “He was too much like Jason.”
“Makes sense.”
“Excuse me?”
“It makes sense. Jason was the first person you told, right? You trusted him a lot. He was your bro. Then he dies and all you can think about is how he’s dead and now he’s just fucking gone and— And— And all this shit reminds you so much of him and— fuck—” A few more tears trailed down Percy’s face, and Nico couldn’t help but wonder what the double meaning was behind his words. Obviously, he hadn’t only been talking about Nico’s situation surrounding Jason. There was something else there, somewhere.
“...Watch your profanity.”

Silence.

One, Mississippi.
Two, Mississippi.
Three, Mississippi.

A fragmented laugh rose from below in a short burst, before fading off. It was such wretched sound, but Nico could tell it was only that way because Percy was in such a horrible state.
His real laugh sounded like deep, rolling waves, a chuckle that resounded in his chest and made the world shake in laughter alongside him.
The thought made Nico sigh.
“Hey … Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Pardon?”
“Do you wanna talk about what happened with Will?”
“...Not particularly.”
In the distance, the conch shell was blown, to signal that dinner was starting soon.
“See you around,” Percy waved at him from the ground and walked off, his eyes downcast and his shoulders slouched. It saddened Nico to see him so dejected. Damn that bitch, how dare she do this to him?

Nonetheless, he slid down from Zeus’s fist and counted to ten before following after him, to go to dinner.

 

Chapter Four, POV Two
(Percy POV)

 

Annabeth had left for Boston last night, after the mutual and tear-inducing breakup.
Officially, five days had passed since the banner burning ceremony. It was currently dinner on the fifth day, and Percy was sitting by his lonesome at the Poseidon table, poking carelessly at his blue cheeseburger (don’t question it.). Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew Chiron was making an announcement, but he didn’t really pay any attention to it. He got the general gist; Capture the flag was going to be postponed for a few days, because no one was really in the right mindset to play, since everyone was still mourning.

 

“Hey, man,” Leaning through the open doorway, Percy smiled at Jason, who was lying in his bed, still wrapped in gauze from the imperial gold wound through his stomach. “How you feeling?”
“I feel fine,” Jason frowned. “But Piper won’t let me out.”
“Want me to keep you company? Everyone else is up on watch.”
“Sure. It gets lonely in here with no one to talk to but myself,” Jason chuckled. Percy laughed quietly along with him, before going and sitting down on the ground next to Jason’s bed. “So how are you? After the whole Tartarus thing?”
The smile was instantly wiped off of Percy’s face. He gazed down at his hands, shoulders tense.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine,” Jason said quickly.
“No, it’s alright,” Percy sighed. “I guess I’m doing alright. My lungs hurt really bad. The air down there was like breathing acid, it messed me up. Mentally, though, I’m just… Healing.”
“It must have been horrible,” Jason clamped a hand on the son of Poseidon’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry, man.”
“Why are you sorry?” Percy gave him a confused look.
“I should have been faster. Flown down to help you.” The hand on his shoulder only got tighter.
“No, dude,” Percy shook his head. His mop of hair fell into his eyes. “Someone had to go down there and close the doors on that side. If we hadn’t gone down there, then it never would have worked.”
“Still. It shouldn’t have been you. It shouldn’t have been Annabeth.”
“If not us, then who?”
“Me.”
“No,” His voice was firm. “Not you. Not anyone. Either way, it’s done now.”
The Argo II listed to port sharply, and a few shouts were heard above decks, before the boat realigned itself and everything was right again.
After a moment, Percy spoke again. “I never would have made it without Annabeth. It must have been so much worse for Nico.”
“Nico,” Jason breathed, as if the name held so much more meaning than Percy would ever understand. Perhaps it did. “Damn. You’re right.”
“Poor kid.”
“He’s hardly a kid anymore.”

 

Quiet tapping on the door to the Poseidon cabin caused Percy to jolt up from his pillow.
“Percy?”
Another surprise— Nico Di Angelo’s voice was wafting in from outside.
“Hey, can I come in?”
“Yeah,” He croaked, then frowned at his voice. “Sure, dude, come on in.”
The door swung open and the smaller young man stepped inside, gently shutting the door behind him and glancing around the room, before his eyes settled on Percy. He blinked.
“You’ve been crying a lot recently.”
“No shit, sherlock,” Percy snorted and pulled himself up into a sitting position. “I lost one of my best friends and my girlfriend.”
Nico’s left eye twitched as he said “girlfriend,” but otherwise his expression remained blank and he stayed silent.
“Do you… Wanna sit down?”
Wordlessly, Nico took a seat at the end of Percy’s bed, far away from the son of Poseidon.
The older teen stared at the son of Hades for a while, before breaking the silence. “What’s up?”
“I, uh… I wanted to talk to you. About Jason.”
There was more pain in the young man's voice than Percy had ever heard before, even more than when he had been told of Bianca’s death. Hearing him sound so broken made Percy want to cuddle him like a lost kitten, but he had a feeling such a gesture would be unwelcome.
“What about him?”
“He’s dead.”
Percy scoffed again. “Yes, he is.”
“Do you know how?”
“...No. Do you?”
Very bluntly, Nico stated, “He was shot in each limb with an arrow and then stabbed through the back twice.”
Percy’s heart felt tight. “Ah.”
“Percy?”
“Yeah?”
“I miss him.”
The expression on Nico’s face was unfathomably depressed. Percy could only imagine how he looked too— Probably very similar.
“I do too.”

 

.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five, POV One

Nico POV

 

Being outside after dark was probably a bad idea.

 

The patrol harpies were ruthless. But Nico snuck back to his cabin easily.

He had spent almost an hour in cabin 3, talking with Percy about Jason, before he had decided he should go to bed.

The conversation hadn’t been very eventful. It was mainly Percy talking about how much he regretted not spending more time with Jason, and how he wished he had helped out more with the plans for the camps that Jason had. Nico had listened, simply happy to be there. It eased his pain, even if only slightly, to be so close to Percy.

They had agreed to get up early and watch the sun rise, and talk more.

The two had agreed internally that talking to each other would help them move on, each from their respective breakups and the loss of Jason Grace.

 

Settling into his hideous coffin-shaped bunk bed, Nico drifted into restless, but otherwise somehow dreamless, sleep.

 

Tap, tap, tap.

What the hell is that?

Tap, tap, tap.

Is that a woodpecker?

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

 

Nico opened his obsidian eyes and glared at the door.

“What?” He groaned.

“You gotta get up now if you don’t wanna miss the sunrise.”

“Uhg.”

Dragging himself up, a very disheveled Nico stumbled to the door and flung it open, angry.

Percy was wearing a pair of sea-green cargo shorts with a Tommy Bahamas polo shirt, looking remarkably godlike, and similar to his father. In each hand he had a steaming cup of Starbucks Coffee.

“Where the hell did you get Starbucks?”

“I got up early and ran into the city to get us some. I doubted that you were a morning person so I assumed you would want coffee.”

The younger teen was surprised at how considerate that had been, and tried not to blush. Thankfully, it was dark out, so Percy couldn’t see the pink tinge to his pale face. The little things were what got to him most. He thrust his hand out for a cup, masking how flustered he was.

“How are they even open this early?”

“They open at four, I believe,” Percy passed him the cup in his left hand. The warmth felt good in Nico’s hand in the morning chill. “You may want to get into something more public-appropriate than your sleep pants and t-shirt.”

Sipping the hot coffee, Nico wondered how Percy knew he liked hazelnut mochas. Wordlessly, he nodded, and shut the cabin door to get changed.

 

“Hazel,” Uncomfortable, Nico huddled closer to his sister. “There’s so many people.”

“It’s alright,” She smiled at him, her arm looped through her boyfriend’s. “We’ll be out of here in a minute or two.”

“I sure hope so.”

True to Hazel’s word, the three were back outside of the cafe in less than ten minutes. They each had a cup of coffee— Nico grasped two. They settled at their table outside, where Will was waiting. He grinned and took his coffee from Nico, before turning back to his animated conversation with a daughter of Roman Apollo at another table. Tentatively, Nico sniffed his mocha. It smelled like Nutella. He sipped it, and was surprised to find that he liked it. It tasted more like hot chocolate than coffee.

“I told you,” Hazel laughed.

 

“Alright, let’s go.”

Percy, who had been leaning against the wall and looking up at the stars (quite like a model, Nico may add) jumped up and started off in the direction of the beach.

Patrol harpies didn’t watch this early in the morning. There was no rule against the campers getting up extra early— Only against staying up late.

It felt odd to Nico, to be walking beside Percy Jackson alone. Especially odd to be walking next to Percy Jackson alone, with his feelings having been revealed long ago.

In no time at all, they were settled on the beach, the stars still shining brightly above, as if the sun was never going to rise.

Percy sipped his coffee.

Nico couldn't help but appreciate how good he looked.

The darkness made his eyes seem like the depths of the Mariana Trench, mysterious and full of unknown life. The water reflected moonlight onto his face and hair, making the mop of jet black seem alight with more colors, like green and blue. The color seemed to have been drained from his face, but not in any sort of a bad way— Just as if he was painted white, like the royalty of ancient times. It didn’t suit him very well, but in contrast to the new hues of his hair in the dark, he looked handsome as ever.

His polo shirt was loose-fitting, but even then his strong arms were in clear view. Unconsciously, Nico compared them to Will’s arms— Lanky versus powerful, indeed. Percy could demolish William in an arm wrestling match any day. Nico wondered what it would be like to be held in those strong arms, pressed securely against Percy’s broad chest.

And with that thought, he sighed and glared down at his coffee cup.

He could feel Percy’s piercing gaze shift to him.

You could have heard a pin drop in the moment of suspension before Percy spoke.

 

 


Chapter Five, POV Two

Percy POV

 

 

“What happened with Cupid and Jason in Rome?”

“That isn’t really something I’m comfortable discussing.”

“If it’s because it has something to do with how you used to have a crush on me, Neek, it’s really okay, I—”

“Please, let’s talk about something else.”

Nico was curling in on himself like a dying flower. The despair in his eyes was as if a giant was stepping on Percy’s heart.

“Nico—”

“You already know what happened, don’t you?” The smaller teen was giving his coffee the stink eye. “I gave Jason permission to tell people after I— After I told you how I used to feel.”

“He told me what went down from his perspective,” Percy turned his eyes back up to the night sky. “But I wanna know what you were feeling then.”

“That’s none of your damn business.”

There was another lull of tranquility.

Percy took this opportunity to observe Nico Di Angelo.

The lean young man beside him was nothing like the ten year old he had saved so many years ago. He had been through so much, and it was obvious. It seemed like he carried the weight of his pain in his shoulders, because he was always so slouched. A physical manifestation of suffering. His dark eyes swam with a heartache that was incomprehensible to onlookers.

And yet he was so inviolable.

There was a strength about the son of Hades that Percy couldn’t fail to notice. He worked to carry his burden, and was winning the battle. He had survived all his endeavors and grown to be more solid. More tangible, to Percy. Previously, it had been so difficult to focus on the little boy with the Mythomagic cards. Now, it was impossible for Percy to look away from the admirable and good-looking young man Nico Di Angelo had become.

“...Do you like your coffee?” The son of Poseidon asked.

“...Yes. How did you know I liked hazelnut mochas?”

Sheepishly, Percy answered, “They’re my favorite. I wasn’t really sure what else to get you.”

Nico chuckled lightly. The sound made Percy smile.

“Why else did you break up with Will, other than the fact that he was reminding you too much of Jason?”

A frown fluttered across Nico’s delicate features. “Why are you asking me such personal questions? And why do you think there was more than just that reason?”

“One, because I want to know you better. Two, because there’s always more than one reason for a break up.”

Nico seemed irritated now. “Oh, yeah? Then what were the reasons you and Annabeth broke up, hmm?”

That’s a bit of a low blow,  Percy thought.

“...It’s my fault we broke up.”

 

“I can’t believe I’m not his type!”

“Bro, you gotta chill about that,” Jason laughed. “Speaking of type, man… Okay, shit’s about to get real. I didn’t really realize it until after Nico admitted it and even then it was a foggy thought. Then I kinda started to think... And I realized that I’m totally bisexual.”

“Really?” Percy blinked, before smiling. “That’s awesome, Jay. Good for you.”

 

The temporary anger in Nico’s tone had faded away. “...I thought you said it was a mutual break up?”

“I guess it kind of was. She blames herself, I blame myself, so on and so on…”

“Why do you blame yourself?”

 

“Dude, I got here as fast as I could. What’s wrong?”

“Piper broke up with me. I just… Need someone to talk to. Need to not be alone right now.”

“Oh, shit, Jay, I’m so sorry...”

 

“I feel guilty…”

“What are you talking about?”

“I messed it up with her. I never told her what I did, but I bet you anything she could just tell. I was so stupid.”

“What did you do?”

 

Breathing heavy, Percy carefully extracted himself from Jason’s hold, face flushed as he removed his arms from around the son of Jupiter’s neck. Jason gulped, looking apologetic and nervous. “Percy, I’m so sorry, I just— After Piper left, and—”

“It’s okay,” Percy assured him breathlessly. “I wanted it too.”

 

“I— I—”

“Just tell me, Perce. It’ll help to get it off your chest.”

 

“But Annabeth?”

“This stays between us. Please, Jay.”

 

“I cheated on her.”

 

“Are you bi too?”

“I think so.”

Jason grasped Percy’s shirt collar and tugged him into another strong kiss, before letting him go and gently pushing him towards the door.

 

Taken aback, Nico said, “With who?”

 

“...With Jason.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Six, POV One

(Nico POV)


Shock.

 

There were no other words to describe how he was feeling in that moment.

Percy had cheated on Annabeth.

The most loyal person he ever knew.

Cheated .

 

“With who?” He asked. Deep within himself, he didn’t want to know the answer. It would just make him jealous. Who the hell was it that could be so tempting to Percy that he would cheat on Annabeth? And why the hell couldn’t it have been Nico?

 

“...With Jason.”

 

Suddenly, it was as if the shock Nico had been feeling before was nothing.

A bomb had been dropped and it couldn’t be taken back.

 

“Jason.”

 

“Yes. Jason.”

 

“Jason Grace?

 

“Jason Grace.”

 

Percy sounded upset. He sounded disgusted with himself.

 

This broke Nico’s heart almost as much as the jealousy did ( Why is he disgusted? What’s wrong with boys being with boys? Does he think I’m disgusting too, because I dated Will?) , but he had a different burning question that he had to ask, and it was going to kill him if he didn’t. Somehow, his voice was even.

 

“...Does that mean you’re bisexual?”

 

“I think so,” Percy set down his coffee and brought his knees to his chest. He looked vulnerable and nervous, just the way Nico felt. “I find guys just as attractive as girls. Jason was just kind of the realization of that.”

 

A temporary moment of repose before Nico got nervous again.

 

“Did you… Sleep with him?”

 

There was a strain to Nico’s tone that he couldn’t hide as he asked that. He knew that he was never going to be capable of such a thing, and he knew that Percy would never want it— But the son of Hades had always hoped that the son of Poseidon would choose him to be his first.

 

“No.”

 

The answer was simple as that, but it brought relief to his heartache, if only slightly.

In such an odd way, there was less pain.

 

Nico didn’t know how to explain it, but for some reason he felt like his burden had been lightened.

 

I have a chance now, He thought. I have an honest-to-god's chance.

 

Then, with dawning realization, he sunk back down into his sadness.

That would be so horrible of me. He’s just lost his girlfriend and Jason just died. Making a move would be rude. Even then, I’m not his type, or even just… Capable of making a move in the first place. This hurts even more than before…

 

Knowing now that he had a chance but could never take it was the last straw. Nico rose from the sand and looked down at Percy, prepared to make up some reason why he had to go back to his cabin, or just some reason to get away from the older boy.

But Percy was crying, and he couldn’t leave.

“...How did it happen?” He questioned, sitting down again, ever so slightly closer to Percy’s side this time.

“I-It was after Piper broke up with him,” The taller teen sniffled. “He iris messaged me, and I was in New Rome at the time. I got to his place and he told me they broke up… We talked, just talked, to distract him from the pain of the breakup… Then when I got up to leave, I gave him a hug and then suddenly he grabbed me and kissed me… Before I really knew what was happening, we were straight up just making out…”

Nico could imagine the scene, and it was bringing a blush to his cheeks, but he ignored it and listened intently.

“...Then after a few minutes we pulled apart and stared at each other. He said he was sorry, and I told him it was okay…”

“But you hadn’t given consent,” Nico tried not to sound irritated. Even if he was dead, Nico was still mad at Jason for forcing a kiss on Percy without his permission first.

“I wanted it too,” The green-eyed boy whispered. “It was fine.”

Nico didn’t have a response to that.

Without warning, Percy flopped onto his back in the sand and stared up at the sky. Nico could see the reflection of the stars in the lines of tears down his tan face. There was a desolation that radiated from the young man that was so tangible it could have been cut with a sword.

Nico lay down next to him and frowned at the stars.

He suddenly noticed that he was crying as well.

Damnit.

“What’s wrong?” Percy murmured. “Why are you crying?”

“So many reasons,” Nico couldn’t help but answer honestly. “There are so many reasons for me to cry right now. Everything is wrong, Percy. Jason is dead. The gay couple broke up. The golden couple broke up. The most loyal person on the planet cheated on his girlfriend. And I’m sitting on the fucking beach drinking coffee like nothing happened.”

“...’The golden couple’?”

Nico laughed without humor. “Yes, Percy, the golden couple . The couple that would never break up. The most solid couple in the universe. Annabeth and Percy, Seaweed Brain and Wise Girl. Percabeth.”

“...Are you mad at me?”

“What?”

“You sound like you’re mad at me…”

Nico’s tone softened. “Why would I be mad at you, Percy?”

“I fucked everything up in your life.”

“...That’s in the past.”

Drawing together every bit of strength he had, the son of Hades reached over and put his hand on Percy’s shoulder. There were skeletal butterflies in his stomach.

A surge of warmth shot through his fingers, even more so than when he had grabbed his cup of coffee, and made him aware of how cold he had been before. Nico was actively working to keep himself from recoiling, despite how good it felt to be so close to the boy he had loved for so long.

And then, out of the blue, another splash of heat across his hand.

Percy had placed his hand on top of Nico’s without looking away from the sky, and was gripping it tightly. The weak heartbeat in Nico’s slender chest got faster and his breath hitched.

I’m holding hands with Percy Jackson.

“I’m so sorry, Nico,” The son of Poseidon muttered, almost to himself. “For everything I’ve done to you. Will you ever forgive me?”

“...Yes.”

 

Chapter Six, Pov Two

(Percy POV)

 

 

The sun began to rise over Camp Half Blood and Long Island Sound.

The sky was painted a beautiful shade of purple with hues of red.

 

The two teenagers had risen from the sand and had released each other’s hands, but still sat closely. Their coffee cups were empty and their eyes were fixed on the horizon.

 

A new day had begun.

 

Once the sun had risen enough that the two were sure everyone else had awoken and was headed to breakfast, they got up, dusted off, threw away their coffee, and marched to the dining pavilion.

 

Percy sat down at the Poseidon table and could feel at least a dozen sets of eyes on him. He looked around, but it didn’t seem like anyone was looking.

Am I going crazy? He wondered.

“Probably.” Nico appeared across from him, taking a seat.

“What?”

“You’re probably going crazy.”

“How did you know—”

“You just had that kind of look on your face,” Nico shrugged.

“Oh,” Percy frowned. “Okay.”

Chiron made a quick announcement that capture the flag was to be played that night, before the food appeared on the tables and everyone dug in. Percy poured himself a bowl of (blue) corn flakes and dumped (blue) milk on top. Nico watched with a frown, holding an apple in his hand.

“Why is everything you eat blue?” He questioned.

“Because.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Yes it is.”

“Alrighty, then.”

Percy, crunching on his corn flakes, watched at Nico took a bite of his apple. A bit of juice from the apple dribbled down the younger’s chin, and Percy smiled lightly as he reached across the table and wiped it off with his thumb.

Nico froze at the contact and stared at Percy with wide eyes.

“What?” He asked.

“I do not like to be touched.” Nico stated haltingly.

“Oh. Sorry.”

He withdrew his hand and went back to eating his breakfast.

For some reason, it stung that Nico had rejected the physical contact. Hadn’t they just been holding hands on the beach? That was more physical contact than simply wiping apple juice from Nico’s chin. Why was this a big deal?

The meal continued and was completed in silence. Nico never went back to his own table.

 

Strapping on his armour, Percy was zoned out. He was thinking about the last time he had played capture the flag, before he had went in to the city to help his mom.

 

“LEFT!” Jason called loudly, before diving to the right. Annabeth and Percy followed closely behind him, as fast as they could.

“Alright, let’s split up,” Annabeth said. “I’ll take the flank while you two go down center.”

“Be safe,” Percy quickly kissed her cheek before she slipped on her yankees cap and disappeared. There was no real sign that she was gone until they heard the sounds of destruction resonating from their left.

“Percy,” Jason sounded serious as he tugged the son of Poseidon forward through the underbrush. “I think we need to talk.”

“About what happened in Pasadena?”

“Yes.”

“We aren’t telling Annabeth, Jay.” Percy was nervous. This was a touchy subject for the two of them.

“I know. I don’t want to tell her either. She’d fucking kill me. What we need to talk about is you coming out.”

“Oh.”

He hadn’t thought of that. He hadn’t really even realized that he had to come out. Sure, he had thought a whole lot about what had gone down with Jason, but he hadn’t thought much of what it really meant about his sexuality.

“When you’re ready,” Jason pulled Percy to the right, hard, to avoid them getting run over by a son of Ares that had no clue where he was going. “You’ve got to tell people that you’re bi.”

“I don’t think that I’m ready, Jay.”

 

 

“Huh?”

“I asked, are you ready?” Nico raised an eyebrow at Percy.

“Yeah, I’m ready.” He hefted Riptide and they marched into the woods for capture the flag.

Nico was wearing all-black armour, which Percy absently thought would probably help him hide in the shadows during the game. The only thing that kind of threw that off was the bright blue plume on his helmet, but even that had a darker tint to it— Nico must have tried to dye it.  There was a whole ombre blue-to-black thing going on.

He looks good, Percy thought.

 

 

“No, no no no,” Percy muttered, gently pushing Jason away. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry, Jay, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s alright,” The son of Jupiter was blushing heavily and was still grasping Percy’s shirt. He seemed breathless.

“No, it isn’t. I just blatantly kissed you again —”

“Percy,” Jason firmly gripped the older boys shoulders. “Calm down. You know I like you, I know you like me, it’s fine. All we’ve got to do is keep it a secret from Annabeth.”

“And everyone else.”

“Yes, and everyone else,” Jason smiled and cupped the side of Percy’s face. At this, Percy almost melted. It was nice to have someone else do the comforting for a change…

 

 

“Ah, shit!”

Percy whipped around as he saw Nico get a cut across his chest plate. It didn’t go through and didn’t hurt the son of Hades, but it had scared him.

“Neek! Go left!”

He locked eyes with the son of Poseidon before doing as he was told. A jet of water shot from the creek and blasted the daughter of Ares, who had been facing off with Nico, to the ground.

 

A silent pact had seemingly been made between them-- They would stick together, and fight side by side against the pain of losing Jason.

If not Nico, then who would be there to comfort Percy?

No one else was up to the job.

No one else knew how much pain he was in. 

 

The two children of the Big Three marched onwards.

 

"Let's go this way," Percy murmured, quiet as a mouse. 

He led Nico through a patch of bramble and they emerged in a clearing, facing to two guards of the red team flag. 

Without another word, Percy charged. 

 

They claimed the flag and sped their way to their border, carrying the banner between themselves. Once they were in friendly territory, the flag shifted colors-- To a beautiful mix of sea green and black, with two bronze tridents crossed behind a silver skull. 

 

"VICTORY!" The blue team cried, as they hoisted Percy and Nico onto their shoulders. Nico struggled to get down, but only ended up closer to Percy. 

"Percy," His voice shook. "I need to get down. I-I'm gonna have a panic attack, please, I need to--"

There was no hesitation as Percy swept Nico up into his arms.

 

 

"I've got you."

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven, POV One

Bianca POV

 

"I win!"

Bianca chuckled at her little brother as he danced around, victorious. It was nice to see him so cheerful after so long. Their mother’s death had destroyed them both. Then, along came the social worker, escorting them to the Lotus Hotel. Nico hadn’t been able to stop crying as Bianca held him.

They’d only been in the hotel for a week, but it had improved Nico’s mood quite a bit to be there.

The daughter of Hades stood and stretched.

“What now? Dinner?” She asked Nico.

“I wanna play again!”

“We’ll play again after we eat.”

“Okay!”

Bianca couldn’t wipe the little smile off her face, despite the pain in her heart.

She knew her little brother was gay, and she knew that would lead to a lot of struggles in the future.

 

Chapter Seven, POV Two

Nico POV

 

PANIC AND RUN AWAY.

 

There were no thoughts, just disappearance. Nico was gone in an instant, and reappeared in his cabin, stumbling against the wall to catch himself.

The shadows had been pulled towards him, bending to his will and his need to get away.

His need to get away from the crowds. His need to escape from Percy Jackson.

 

PANIC AND RUN AWAY.

 

“Please, sir, I just want to go home!” Nico Di Angelo whimpered, on the verge of tears.

“Identification card!” The officer snapped, his grip on Nico’s arm getting tighter, the gun slung over his shoulder looking more menacing as the seconds ticked by. The young son of Hades hurried to pull his ID out of his pocket and held it up with trembling hands for the scary man to see.

Moments passed as the Blackshirt inspected the ID, his hand never releasing Nico’s bicep. Finally, the man dropped the little boy, huffed indignantly, and marched away.

There was a moment of pain while the blood returned to its job of flowing through Nico’s arm. He lay on the pavement, shivering with tremors of fear. Once he regained feeling in his fingertips, he scrambled to his feet and ran home, crying.

 

“Panic?”

“Yes.”

“Disco.”

“Yes. Panic! At The Disco.”

“Who calls a band Panic! At The Disco?”

“King Urie, duh.”

“His name is King Urie?”

“No, it’s Brendon Urie, but he’s a king among men.”

“What kind of name is Brendon Urie?”

“What do you mean? What’s your name?”

“Nico Di Angelo.”

Nico was incredibly confused. The boy he was speaking to was wearing long shorts (They came all the way to his knees, which was weird, plus there were way too many pockets) and had a t-shirt with lots of colors on it (a set of a few fairly sultry-looking women in various poses). He hadn’t ever really seen a lot of printed t-shirts, since the print was expensive and really very new technology last time he checked.

The italian was kind of in awe of the handsome boy in front of him— He must have been rich, to afford the printed shirt and those odd shorts.

Lights flashed around the two young men. The casino was fairly empty— A lot of people had left to go to the movie theater for a showing of some movie. Nico’s sister Bianca had gone to watch, too, leaving him in the arcade, where he met the teen he was talking to now.

“I should have guessed you were italian,” The boy said. “You have an accent.”

“I do?”

“Yeah. You should work on that.”

Without another word, the young man wandered away.

 

Panic attack.

 

I’m having a panic attack.

 

The room spun. The floor seemed like it was flying towards Nico’s face. He realized he had fallen when he could feel the cool floor under his hands.

His lungs were moving too fast for his brain to compute. He was hyperventilating and his vision was fading in and out, like a TV set on a station that it couldn’t quite reach.

Gelidity settled inside Nico as he collapsed, resting his face on the ground and squeezing his eyes closed and digging his nails into his palms.

What the fuck! Che cazzo, che cazzo... I want to die. He held me, he fucking held me, and he knew I would freak out, why would he do that to me? Shit, I can’t feel my chest, I can’t breathe, non riesco a respirare!

“Nico?” A voice spoke somewhere in the distance. “Nico!”

“No, no,” Nico muttered, fighting as warm hands grasped him and rolled him onto his back. “Leave me alone, per favore mi lasci in pace…

“Breathe, Neek. Count with me. One.”

Nico heaved a breath in.

“Two.”

He held it for a moment.

“Three.”

He let the air out in a slow exhale.

“One.”

This cycle continued.

“Two.”

Nico’s vision began to return.

“Three.”

“...W...Will?”

“Hey, hun. I saw you leave the game and got worried about you. I had a feeling you were freaking out because of all the people touching y—”

The son of Apollo was silenced by Nico gripping him in a tight hug.

“Thank you,” He whispered. “You’re my best friend, Will.”

A quiet laugh shook Will’s shoulders as he returned the embrace, gently resting his face in the crook of his ex-boyfriend’s neck. “That’s high praise.”

“I’m just relieved to see you.”

 

Chapter Seven, POV Three

Percy POV

 

A momentary chill flashed across his skin before Percy realized Nico was gone.

"Neek...?" He asked the air. No one heard him. A sense of dread settled inside him at the sudden and unexpected separation. 

The older teen sighed heavily and decided to focus on the partying rather than Nico's leaving. 

After a minute or two of parading around, the crowd of campers dispersed and headed to their cabins for lights out. Percy wasn’t sure how to feel in that moment— He knew Nico had probably gone to his cabin, and he wanted to go talk to him, but he also felt nervous about doing so.

 

 

Percy and Jason rested their foreheads against each other’s. The dorm room was dark, only illuminated by the gentle lights of Percy’s speaker. Tumblr Girls by G-Eazy was playing quietly from Percy’s speaker in the corner as the two young men danced.

It was a simple four-step. Their eyes were closed and their heartbeats were synced.

 

She says she can’t feel her face,

Yeah,

Right now I can’t feel my heart…

For your feelings, there’s no place

But you knew that from the start.

 

Jason opened his eyes and gazed at Percy. The son of Poseidon did the same thing for a fleeting moment, before sighing and resting his head on Jason’s shoulder.

 

You and I, we’re made of glass, we’d never last,

You and I, we’re made of glass, we’d never last,

Quick to die, we moved fast, and then we crashed…

You and I, we’re made of glass, we’d never last.

 

“Perce,” The blonde whispered.

“Hmm?” The older teen didn’t open his eyes.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

 

Tears tracked down his face once more as Percy took a seat on his bed.

Guilt mixed in with the rest of his emotions as he wept silently.

Why did I have to cheat on her? He wondered. Why did Jason have to die? Why can’t I just be normal? Why did I have to fall for him, too?

 

 

The heat was building between the two as their lips locked again and again. Percy’s hands were tangled in Jason’s close-cropped gold hair. Jason was gripping Percy’s slender hips like his life depended on them. Both their faces were a bright shade of crimson.

Percy nipped at Jason’s bottom lip, asking, begging. Jason smirked and pulled away, before roughly biting his counterpart’s neck. Percy whined and leaned his head back as Jason licked the bite marks.

“Th-That isn’t exactly what I was asking for, but I—” He stopped to moan as Jason started on a hickey on his shoulder. “B-But this is f-fine.”

“Better be,” Jason growled against his collarbone, before returning to his work on the hickey. His tone made Percy whimper.

 

 

“Hey, babe,” Annabeth grinned at her boyfriend. “How was Camp Jupiter?”

“It was good,” Percy smiled, leaning down to peck her lips. A pang of guilt went off in his heart, but he ignored it, like he had been for so long. “We made some good progress on the designs for Camp Half Blood.”

More like good progress on making out…

“Awesome,” She hugged him. “I’m so proud of you, Seaweed Brain.”

“Thanks,” He muttered awkwardly. “Uh… Jason said hi.”

“Tell him I said hi back when you see him next.”

“Cool.”

 

 

It was long past lights out.

Percy still sat in his bunk, head in his hands, tears in his eyes.

He felt horrible for having cheated on Annabeth. He loved her above anything else, except maybe his mom, and he had destroyed what he had with her.

That had been why he was so okay with her leaving— He knew it was for the best.

He had lied to her for so long, and he couldn’t stand to keep that up.

Sure, he was keeping it secret even now that he had cheated, but it wasn’t so painful now as it had been.

He didn’t have to pretend that he was going to help Jason with temple designs whenever he went to see the son of Jupiter.

 

You know, since he’s fucking dead.

 

A wave of guilt, pain, and loss washed over the son of Poseidon as he heaved a massive sigh and flopped backwards onto his bunk and closed his eyes, feeling like he was drowning in his emotions.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight, POV One

Percy POV


The New York teen awoke in the middle of the night to a tap-tap-tap on his door. Percy sat up and frowned, wondering if he was hearing things, before the noise sounded off again.

“Come in?” He said, more of a question than a statement.

“Hey, Percy,” Will Solace popped his head into the cabin. “Sorry to wake you up at this hour, but I need to talk to you.”

This made the son of Poseidon nervous. Was Will jealous that Percy was suddenly spending so much time with Nico? Did Will want to ask him about Nico’s breaking up with him?

“Uh, sure,” Percy scooted up against his wall, making space on his bunk for Will to sit down. The blonde plopped down and crossed his legs indian-style, facing the taller boy.

Percy was only a year older than William, and was only just barely taller. The son of Apollo was also a lot skinnier. He certainly had some muscle, and wasn’t as slender as Nico, but he had something of a casual surfer build. Percy had a surfer-skateboarder-sword-fighter build, with broader shoulders, longer legs, and slightly tanner skin. But as Percy looked at the blonde before him, he could see how Nico would focus on the resemblances between Will and Jason. Their eyes were same unnerving electric blue color and were just as tired as Jason’s.

The son of Jupiter had always looked so fatigued. It made Percy sad when he would look into his eyes.

Then he remembered the look in his eyes when he walked out after their final fight… And he had to choke back tears.

“You probably know by now that Nico doesn’t like to be touched,” Will smiled gently, surprising Percy. “And I just wanted to explain to you that if you give him time, he’ll warm up to you.”

“Huh?” The son of Poseidon said, stupidly. Will chuckled.

“Nico’s got really bad anxiety, Percy. He enjoys spending time with you, and you seem to be helping him heal after the whole deal with Jason, which means I want you to stick with him for a while until he’s okay. But to do that, you need to learn what’s alright and what’s not.”

“Excuse me?”

There was still a smile on the son of Apollo’s face. He was patient as ever.

“You and Nico are friends, yes?”

“Yeah.”

“You are both upset about losing Jason, correct?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you are sort of teaming up against the loss and working together to fix each other.”

“I guess?”

“The answer to that is a yes, Percy. So, if you’re going to be all buddy-buddy, you have to know how to be buddy-buddy with Nico.”

It clicked in Percy’s brain— Will was going to help him to make sure Nico stuck around. That caused a grin to spread on his face. “Thanks, man, I owe you one.”

“It’s no problem,” The son of Apollo’s face seemed to darken. “Nico means a lot to me, even if we’re broken up. I’m not saying I want him back— I’m starting to move on. But he’s still one of my best friends, and I’m honestly one of his only friends… I want to see him open up a bit, but he needs time with that. You need to work with him to be friends with him.”

“I’m willing to work for it,” Percy said, an odd determination in his voice. “I want to be friends with him.” For some reason, “friends” didn’t seem to be the right word, and it felt strange in his mouth, but he couldn’t think of what else to say.

“Good. I’m going to let you get some sleep, I’ll talk to you in the morning.”


Chapter Eight, POV Two

Will POV

 

I have to get out of here.

Jealousy was clawing its way into his mind as he stood up and made his way out of the cabin. It hurt him to know that Nico was moving on— Especially moving on so quickly, especially to Percy Jackson.

And to know that Percy was clearly starting to show interest in return?

That was killing Will Solace.

But, in all honesty, he deeply loved the son of Hades, and above all, wanted him to be happy.

Will had been a bit selfish with their relationship, and he understood that now— He hadn’t exactly been the best boyfriend in the world. Sure, he loved Nico, but he hadn’t ever told him, had he? He never paid enough attention to Nico, either, and he knew it. He felt bad about that, but he couldn’t go back and change it. He had apologized to Nico earlier, and Nico had admitted to knowing that Will hadn’t exactly been perfect, and that had played a minor part in their break up, but wasn’t the main problem.

It was also true that Will was starting to move on. He realized that he had started the process of moving on even while they had still been together— Because his heart kind of picked up on Nico’s distance before his brain did, and was evidently preparing itself for the breakup.

But none of this was preventing him from being jealous of Percy.


“...Hmm…”

Blinking, Will realized Nico was talking in his sleep. He smiled lightly, shutting his book on medicine and listening.

“Stupid eyes… Damn ocean… Percy…”

Blonde eyebrows rose.

“Bianca… Metal… Dumb, fish… Why?”

Will frowned a bit, both confused and jumping to conclusions.

“Crush… N’ black hair… Jackwagon…”

Will clenched his fists, before taking a deep breath and kissing Nico’s forehead. He closed his eyes and tried to relax.


Will slammed the door to his cabin, knowing it wouldn’t wake up his cabin mates, and slumped into his bed. His eyes closed, but sleep didn’t take him for a long time.


Chapter Eight, POV Three

Jason POV

 

Pacing, pacing, pacing. Every few minutes, he would pause and blue eyes would dart to the clock mounted on the wall, before resuming his traverse. His heart was beating quickly and his hands shook.

Footsteps echoed outside and he froze, locking his gaze on the doorknob to his dorm room. It twisted, first to the left, then back to the right as it clicked and slid open quietly.

“Hey, Jay,” Percy whispered, smiling as he shut the door. The blonde was frozen for one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi—

Jason crushed Percy in a hug and plastered countless kisses to Percy’s cheek, jaw, nose, and forehead. The son of Poseidon didn’t fight back, only chuckled and wrapped his arms around the younger man.

“Missed me, huh?” He laughed.

Jason’s voice was serious. “I always miss you, Percy. I hate this, I hate this so much.”

“What do you mean?” The sparkling smile on Percy’s face faltered.

“I hate that we have to be apart for so long, have to lie and hide and be secretive all the time. I just want you to be with me, just me. I wish I could hold you, hold you like this—” He pressed their chests together and stared into scared green eyes. “—Out in the open.”

“I know, Jay, but we can’t do that,” Percy looked guilty and sad. “Annabeth—”

“Annabeth isn’t—”

“Let me talk, Jason,” The raven-haired boy frowned. “I feel like absolute shit for cheatng on her, no matter how much I love you. I love her too.”

Jason couldn’t help but feel jealous— He always did when he thought about Annabeth.

“And being like this, hiding this, is the only way to keep her from losing her shit and killing both me and you. I can’t have her killing you, baby.” Percy continued.

“Well this hiding and shit is killing me more than she ever could,” The blonde growled, shoving Percy away with tears in his eyes. “I love you, Percy, and I love only you. Why is it so hard for you to be with only me?”

“Because I’m scared, Jason!” He exclaimed, looking hurt. “I’m scared of how this feels and scared of how selfish I’m being and—”

“Selfish?” There was shock in his tone. “Selfish! Yes, Perseus, you are being selfish. Hoarding Annabeth and I in this cycle of pain. Loving me, loving her, all for what? Your own benefit. You don’t want to choose.”

“I can’t choose!”

“Yes, you can! Pick one of us and get this shit over with!”

“I can’t !”

“Me or Annabeth! One of these affairs has to end today!”

 

Silence.

 

Percy was crying.

 

Jason was shaking with anger.

 

The son of Poseidon stumbled over to Jason’s bed and took a seat, trembling.

“...Why today…?” He asked, almost too quiet for Jason to hear. The son of Jupiter sighed and took off his glasses before sitting down next to Percy and pulling the shorter young man into his lap. They held each other like that for a long time, the only sound that could be heard was their breathing.

Jason finally spoke.

“Because I can’t hide how much I care about you for any longer,” He mumbled against Percy’s shoulder. “Because I’m too jealous of her to stay with you if you’re with her.”

“Can’t we just go on like this? Please?”

“Is this enough for you?” Jason whispered.

“...No.”

“Then no, we can’t go on like this.”

“It may not be enough but, baby, it’s better than breaking up, pl—”

“Don’t say please. I can’t let my resolve break down.”

 

Another break in the conversation. Their heartbeats were unified, their hands intertwined, their pain woven together like a tapestry of tragedy.



Chapter Eight, POV Four

Nico POV


The sun made its debut over the horizon and everyone stirred from their cabins, then made their ways to the dining pavilion, chattering about the game of capture the flag from the previous evening and rubbing sleep out of their eyes.

Nico hid in the shadows of the masses, quiet and alert, avoiding all contact that he could. He was still recovering from his panic attack last night— It hadn’t been too bad at first, but when Will left, he had gone to sleep and woken up to a nightmare. This had, of course, induced a fresh panic attack, and no one had been there to help him through it this time.

Nico settled into his regular seat at the Hades table and rested his head on the cool marble. There was some jostling across from him but he didn’t look up, assuming it was only someone shuffling past, but when the odd presence he felt remained, he lifted his head.

“Hey,” Percy muttered, eyes downcast.

“Hey,” Nico responded. “Uh… Sorry I left so abruptly yesterday. I just… All the people, and the touching.”

“It’s okay,” A weak smile flashed across his face, before disappearing again.

“I… Wanted to ask you something.” Nico surprised himself with his statement.

“Shoot.”

“What all went down… Between you and Jason? I get the feeling it wasn’t just the one time.” Nico did his best not to sound jealous.

There was a pause before Percy answered him, carefully, making sure no one else heard him.

“After the first time, we tried to act normal. Then, I messed that up by kissing him again… And it kept going on kind of like that for a little while, until it got to the point where I would go to Pasadena and see him… Then everything fell to shit… The relationship was intense and fast, like a flash fire, I guess you could say…”

“But you never… Slept together.” He still had to strain himself to sound casual. Percy snorted.

“No. We made out several times, but never went farther. Neither of us were ready.”

“Ah.”

Nico processed everything he had just learned before asking another question.

“What do you mean, it fell to shit?”

“We… Broke up.”

“Why?”

“I couldn’t commit.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“How did it happen?”

Percy said four words, simply, sadly, as if he had realized it was the wrong choice; “I chose Annabeth instead.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Nine, POV One

Percy POV

 

“I choose her, Jason.”

 

Nico and Percy were munching on their breakfast quietly. Percy wondered if Nico was thinking the same thing he was— That he had made the wrong choice.

 

“I choose her, Jason.”

 

The two boys marched to their first activity of the day (since Nico had somehow managed to shift his schedule to match Percy’s) and settled onto the lawn by the strawberry fields to listen as a few Roman demigods taught latin. Neither of them was really paying any attention— Percy was whispering back and forth with the son of Hades.

Their conversation drifted, from sword fighting strategy to sadder topics like the final battle with Gaea on Half Blood Hill. Percy asked about how Will and Nico had started dating, Nico questioned him about more intricate details of the breakup between him and Annabeth.

 

“I choose her, Jason.”

 

The second lesson came and went— Archery. Will Solace wasn’t present. Nico told Percy of how his ex had taught him how to shoot, and that was why he was so much better than the older teen. Percy asked if Nico would teach him, too.

“I guess,” There was a rose tint on the pale boy’s face. “Uh… Get into a firing stance.”

Percy straightened his back and drew the bow taught.

“Good. Now, aim just a bit higher— Perfect.”

Very carefully, with his index finger, Nico adjusted Percy’s position, by pushing his elbow up and back, by moving his head position.

The New York teen tried not shiver as Nico’s touches ghosted over his jaw. Then, the Italian ran his finger up Percy’s spine in an attempt to straighten it, and Percy froze up.

Nico, noticing this (but not to Percy’s knowledge), cocked his head. It was giving him minor anxiety, touching Percy like this, but the son of Poseidon’s reaction made him curious. He cautiously placed his hand on Percy’s shoulder and shifted it ever so slightly. The muscles in his back were tense.

 

“Why her? Am I not good enough?”

 

Chapter Nine, POV Two

Nico POV

 

Why her? Am I not good enough?

 

“Let it fly.”

Percy released the arrow and it hit just an inch from the bullseye.

“Holy Hera!” He shouted, a grin on his face. “Neek, that’s awesome!”

“Now try it on your own,” Nico smiled lightly.

Percy got ready to shoot, then paused, and made ever so slight adjustments that mirrored the ones Nico had just made for him. Without further ado, he fired and hit the exact center of the target.

He whooped in victory.

He’s so adorable, The young man thought. What a dork.

 

Why her? Am I not good enough?

 

Their third lesson was the climbing wall. Nico cheated, just a bit, by shadow traveling to the top and watching as Percy shimmied up and dodged the lava. Later, Percy made Nico actually climb up it.

 

Soon, the day had flown by, and they were seated side by side on the beach, skipping out on the campfire.

 

Nico couldn’t help but notice that his heart was fluttering unevenly in his chest. The day had been a lot like a date. They had been almost inseparable. Nico wasn’t sure what had changed inside him for him to be so suddenly close to Percy, but he felt connected . Before, he had felt like he was reaching out into nothingness. Now, there was something else on the other end.

 

Percy was frowning down at his hands.

“What’s wrong?” Nico questioned.

“I don’t know.”

“That’s a lie.”

“...Yeah. It is.”

 

Nico waited. When Percy didn’t continue, he sighed and laid down.

Seconds later, Percy lay down next to him.

“Are we friends, Nico?”

“Excuse me?”

“Are we friends?”

 

Yes.

 

“What do you mean?”

“Like, do you see me as a friend?”

 

No.

 

“Yeah, why?”

“I just wanted to know.”

 

I wish we weren’t.

 

“Oh. Okay.”

 

I wish we were so much more.

 

The two were quiet again.

Suddenly, Percy was gripping Nico’s hand.

For once, Nico didn’t flinch away.

 

Why her? Am I not good enough?

Nico glared at Annabeth. She was asleep, leaning on Percy’s shoulder at the campfire. Percy had his arm slung around her shoulder and was humming along with everyone else’s singing, a stupid smile on his face, wipe that stupid smile off your face!

 

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For letting me hold your hand,” Percy sounded just a bit awkward. “For being here with me right now.”

“We have to work together, don’t we? To get over all this.”

“Yeah. I guess we do.”

 

He’s a clingy little shit, isn’t he?

 

Percy was asleep, and still holding onto Nico’s hand with a vise grip. There was no prying him off.

 

Nico couldn’t help but feel elated, for two reasons.

  1. Percy Jackson is holding his hand.
  2. Nico is okay with the physical contact.

He was angry when the conch horn went off to signal lights out, but shook Percy awake nonetheless. Percy grumbled something about blue corn chips and rolled over, suddenly crushing Nico’s arm.

 

All good feelings were gone.

 

Panic settled in.

 

“Percy,” Nico said, voice not even above a whisper, too scared to speak any louder. “Get off.”

 

Percy didn’t answer.

 

“Percy,” Nico was shaking. “Please.”

 

No response.

 

Tears were forming in the corners of Nico’s eyes.

Everything good has to be taken from me, doesn’t it?

The contact was sending spikes of fear through his body and he didn’t know how to stop himself from crying.

He couldn’t talk anymore.

His vision was getting dark and his lungs were collapsing.

 

Finally, Percy woke up.

 

“Neek? Nico, oh shit!” He scrambled to move off of the smaller boy. “I’m so sorry, Nico—”

The italian shook his head to show that it was fine, even though it really kind of wasn’t.

“Don’t cry, please don’t cry, Nico,” His tone was gentle. Carefully he reached out and wiped a few tears from Nico’s pale cheek. This, for some reason, didn’t make anything worse. His hand lingered on the younger man’s cheekbone. “I’m sorry. I won’t do that again.”

Trembling, the son of Hades grasped Percy’s hand and held it against his face.

“I-I-I have to get better at th-this.”

“We’ll work on it. We’ll work on it together.”

 

Is he blushing?

 

“O-O-Okay.”

“Deep breaths.”

“Count.”

“What?”

“Count t-to three.”

“One.”

Nico inhaled.

“Two.”

Nico waited.

“Three.”

Nico was okay again. "Thank you."

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten, POV One

Jason POV




The spear went through the Roman’s back as if he were paper. He might as well have been— He was fragile, ever since the last time he saw Percy.

Then the spear was gone, and the pain was worse.



Jason fell from Tempest and landed face down on the floor. His lungs didn’t seem to work anymore. The feeling was just like when Percy would kiss him— His breath was simply stolen.



Percy.



The spear was driven between his shoulder blades once more. His vision was fading, fading not into black but into a brilliancy of sea green.

 

A gentle smile ghosted over Jason’s face.

 

His final thought would be a happy one.





Chapter Ten, POV Two

Nico POV




“Let me go!” He screamed.

 

“Where are you taking us?” Bianca cried. “Where’s our mom?”

 

“Your mom has passed,” The social worker snapped at them, his grip getting tighter on Nico’s arm. The pain was so severe that Nico felt dizzy. First the Blackshirts, manhandling him. Now, even in America, people love to hurt him. It had started to give him anxiety when someone would touch him— He could never tell if they had bad intentions. “I’m taking you somewhere safe. Now shut up and let’s go.”

 

“You’re hurting me!” Nico sobbed, his shoulder throbbing as it tried to push bloodflow through his arm, but was met with the obstacle of the social worker’s hand.

 

“Be quiet, kid.”





Chapter Ten, POV Three

Percy POV




Percy knew it was a dream.

He just didn’t understand what it meant.

 

He was lying next to Nico Di Angelo in a little boat.

They were in the middle of the ocean.

It was night, and the stars were bright, and the moon shone above them.

They were holding hands.

His lips were moving, but he couldn’t tell what he was saying. He couldn’t hear it.

Nico smiled next to him. Percy could barely just read what he said, despite there being no volume;

“I love you too, Percy.”

 

He awoke with a start and frowned at his surroundings before realizing he was at Annabeth’s dad’s house.

They were there for winter break. He had been asleep on the couch.

What the hell was that about?

 

 

 

Chapter Ten, POV Four

Nico POV

 

 

 

Nico leaned against Percy's chest, eyes closed.

 

The younger teen was content with everything in that moment, even if he could tell he was only dreaming.

 

There was quiet music from behind them-- The speaker Percy had gotten for his birthday from Leo, one of the only bits of tech that wouldn't explode when he touched it. 

Somehow, Nico knew this was their song. U.S. Gay, by Sons Of An Illustrious Father. 

Percy shifted behind him and rested his head on Nico's slender shoulder.

He could feel the the older teen's breathing on his skin, through his shirt.

It sent a chill down his spine. 

"Nico," He whispered, tightening his arms around the Italians waist. "I love you."

Their song ended and another one came on-- Armageddon, also by Sons Of An Illustrious Father. 

"You don't know how much I wish you did."

Nico sighed and ended the dream, forcing himself awake. 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Eleven, POV One

Percy POV



The realization was more like a freight train than he had expected it to be.

 

Percy was making his way into New York.

It was about four in the morning, and the sun was a long way from rising, but Starbucks was open, and he was going to bring Nico coffee again. The look on Nico’s face when he had sipped the coffee that first night had made Percy’s night, and he just wanted to see it again.

Last night, they had agreed to once again get up early to watch the sunrise over Long Island Sound, while they work on improving Nico’s people skills.

Percy was (and he couldn’t figure out why) very excited for this. Maybe it was because this was what Will had said they needed to do. Maybe it was because he might get to hold Nico’s hand again.

 

He was taking a quick shortcut through the subway.

 

Percy let his mind wander to the previous evening as he cautiously jumped down onto the tracks.


“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For helping.” Nico gently leaned away, but kept his grip on Percy’s hand firm.

“There’s no need to thank me,” The son of Poseidon shrugged, before frowning deeply. “I’m the one that made you upset…”

“I just need to get over my anxiety about touching people.”

“I’m happy to help you work on that.”

“That means a lot to me, Percy,” Nico sounded more sincere than Percy had ever heard him sound. “I’m such a broken person.”

“You’re not broken, Nico.”

“Yes I am. My life’s been such shit. You should have seen how horrible life was under Mussolini. If I had stayed there in that time, I doubt I would have lived past fourteen.”

“Why?”

Nico rolled his eyes and frowned at the older boy. “Percy, I’m gay.”

“Oh, right,” The son of Poseidon blinked his green eyes. “...But that doesn’t make you broken. You’ve just been through a lot. You’re just… Battered. A little beat up.”

Sounding bitter, Nico removed Percy’s hand from his face and set their still intertwined hands in the sand between them. “You mean, like the things they sell at thrift stores. I’m sold at a discount price.”

“Not at all!” Percy was offended. “You’re not thrift store shit. You’re, like, designer. You’re like vintage couture.”

Nico smiled lightly, before raising an eyebrow. “Do you even know what couture means?”


Percy couldn’t help but wonder what had brought them to be so close so suddenly.

I guess that’s what the death of a friend will do to some people, He thought.

 

The son of Poseidon hadn’t noticed that he had paused where he stood.

 

Percy worried about how he had fucked everything up on the beach. How he had induced a panic attack. He still couldn’t explain how much pain he had been in when he woke up to see Nico hyperventilating, crying.

But that had led to Percy brushing his hand across Nico’s face, and the older boy could still recall the shock the touch had sent through his system, the heavy beating of his heart, the heat in his face.

 

Why did I feel that way?

 

There was a trembling in his legs like there was an earthquake, and Percy first assumed it was because he was thinking of Nico— Why would that be the case, though…? —When he looked down and saw that the tracks under his feet were rattling.  

There was a bright light that shone on him and a loud noise like nails on a chalkboard.

 

“Oh, shit .”




Chapter Eleven, POV Two

Nico POV



This is stupid.

 

Nico Di Angelo was not a morning person.

 

He never was, and he never will be.

 

But here he was, sitting on his bunk at five in the morning, fully dressed and ready to go.

 

His dark eyes drooped and he glared at the door between glances at his watch.

 

Where the hell is he with my coffee?

 

Finally, there was a knock at the door.

Nico sprung to his feet and, as nonchalantly as he could manage, opened the door.

Percy grinned brightly at him and held out a cup. There was something a bit awkward about the look on his face, and his cheeks were flushed a bit more than normal.

“Hey,” Nico gave him a small smile and took the iced hazelnut mocha from him. “How’d you know I want it iced?”

“It’s really humid this morning,” Percy shrugged. He flinched as he did so.

 

Nico chose to ignore it. Later, he would be glad that he did.

 

They marched down to the beach. Percy had the slightest limp, but Nico was so shaky himself that he hardly noticed. Not only was he nervous about trying to get better about his anxiety, the two young men were walking so close that their shoulders were almost touching. Tension between them was so thick that Nico could have cut it with his sword, but he could sense that it wasn’t good or bad, it was just there, and it was like that feeling he had had earlier— The feeling that he wasn’t just reaching out for someone who couldn’t reach back— was just getting stronger with every step they took in the direction of the beach.

They had scouted out their own little spot and easily settled down into it. The moon above them was reflecting silver light off the water, and it made Percy look twice as handsome as usual. Nico could feel his heart weighing him down as he gazed at the son of Poseidon.

They were silent.

It took Nico a minute to realize that Percy was staring back at him. He blushed heavily and looked out over the water, but could still feel Percy’s eyes locked on him.

And yet, they still didn’t speak.

 

After maybe twenty minutes, the sky began to get lighter and their coffee cups were getting closer to empty. Percy reached over and put a hand on Nico’s shoulder, and the son of Hades had to restrain himself from flinching as he looked over.

“Can I hug you?”

Nico blinked, before nodding slowly.

Percy drew the smaller boy into his chest and held him tightly. Nico tried to breathe, but it was a struggle. His heart was beating too fast.

But it wasn’t anxiety, which confused him.

It’s because he’s touching me, He thought.

It took Nico a moment to realize that he was practically on Percy’s lap. He blushed an even deeper shade of red and leaned away slightly.

“If you’re uncomfortable,” Percy whispered, making Nico shudder at the feeling of his breath on the back of his neck. “Just tell me.”

“I’m okay,” Nico said in a small voice. “I just didn’t know we would be starting out with hugs.”

“Do you want to slow down?”

“I’m okay.”

 

The tension just kept building. Nico wondered if Percy could feel it.

 

The sky was getting lighter by the minute and Nico was praying that the sun wouldn’t rise. He just wanted to stay there with Percy. He didn’t feel anxious at all right then— He felt comfortable. Happy. Their heartbeats were synced and their breathing was in time.

Percy’s arms were still tight around Nico’s torso. Nico was sideways, leaned against Percy’s chest, head laid against the side of Percy’s neck. One of Percy’s knees was propped against his back, the other one against the ground between them. Somewhere in the midst of their incredibly long hug, Nico had snuck an arm around Percy’s waist, and wrapped his other one up around one of Percy’s arms.

In other words, it was pretty much perfect.

 

The son of Hades shifted just a bit, moving his weight back, and suddenly, Percy flinched, inhaling sharply as if he were in pain.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong,” Percy muttered.

Nico struggled a bit before Percy let him get up. The younger boy spun and looked down at the son of Poseidon. There was something wrong with the left leg of his jeans. It was torn and bloody.

“What happened to your leg?” There was mild panic in his tone.

“Nothing.”

“‘Nothing’! There’s blood!”

“I’m fine,” Percy dragged himself to his feet and gave Nico a sad look.

“When did this happen?”

“I—”

“Don’t lie to me.”

“...When I went to get us coffee.”

“How did it happen?”

“My leg got hit by a train.”

WHAT? ” Nico roared. He doubted that anyone was still asleep after his voice rang across the beach.

“I’m alright, Neek, really!”

“You got hit by a fucking train ?”

“Just my foot! I took some ambrosia and nectar. It’s not even broken, Neek, honestly,” Percy was starting to sound irritated. “Can we please just sit back down?”

“No. We’re taking you to the infirm—”

“It’s fine , Nico,” Percy snapped, before shrinking back. “ I’m fine.”

“...Why are you suddenly mad at me?”

“I’m not.”

 

He’s lying.

 

“What did I do?” Nico felt scared. He knew that he had gone off on Percy, and that his babying had probably upset the older teen, but why was he this upset? What had Nico done to fuck this up?

“You didn’t do anything,” Percy sounded as worried as Nico did. Why does he sound so nervous? Percy took a step forwards. “This is my fault.”

“What are you talking about now?”

“I’m talking about me getting hit by the train. Nico, I stopped there on the tracks because I was thinking—”

“Why the hell were you on the tracks in the first place?”

“It’s a shortcut to Starbucks. While I was on my way, I thought about last night. I thought about how,” He took another step forward. They were standing close now. “About how we acted together last night. It reminded me of how I used to feel about Annabeth and Jason.”

 

Nico didn’t know what to do or how to respond.

He wasn’t even sure that his brain or his body was functioning anymore.

What am I hearing?

 

“And I couldn’t stop thinking about how you make me feel now. About how, all of a sudden, you’re always on my mind. You’re the first thought I have now. Every morning,” Percy continued, gently grasping Nico’s shoulders. “You’re the last thought I have every night. Neek, I’ve been at your side ever since you let me in. Ever since that first day, here, on this beach, I’ve been right next to you, and I haven’t wanted to leave. I never want to leave.”

 

 

What the hell is going on?

 

 

“Nico,” Percy was inches from his face now. “I think I’ve got feelings for you.”

 

 

This has to be a dream.

 

 

“Can I kiss you?”

 

 

The son of Hades was vaguely aware of how fast it was all moving. How sudden all of it was.

And he took all of that into account for a few seconds, before steeling his nerves, and surging forwards.

 

Their lips locked and it was the most perfect feeling.

 

The taste of salt mingled with hazelnut coffee danced across Percy’s lips as they kissed.

 

Nico had never kissed anyone before, save for his sister’s cheek.

This was a whole other thing. It felt powerful and warm.

No, not warm, hot, like there were skeletal butterflies all flapping in his chest and his blood was rushing and boiling and all the heat was gathered in his cheeks and on his lips.

 

Percy had been taken by surprise, but he handled it well, tenderly wrapping his arms around Nico’s waist and pulling him closer.

 

Doing what felt the most natural, Nico tangled his hands in Percy’s hair and pressed himself against the son of Poseidon.

This was everything he had wanted for so many years and he didn’t want it to end.

 

The older teen understood and easily hoisted the young man up off the ground and quickly sat down, setting Nico across him in a straddling position.

This also entailed pulling away. Nico whined at the loss of contact between their lips, somehow not anxious. Maybe because he still believed it was a dream.

 

A perfect dream.

 

“It’s okay,” Percy grinned. “It’s okay, baby.”

More benign this time, they kissed, as the sun rose.

Chapter Text

EPILOGUE 

 

 

 

The sun was setting over New York. 

Waves lapped against the sand in Montauk, way out on the south shore, on the very tip of Long Island. 

A tall young man, around the age of twenty, is seated on his creaking swing on the porch of his cabin on the beach.

The cabin itself looked like it had just been redone, which it had been.

The faded curtains had been replaced with new black ones and the walls had been painted a deep shade of neutralized turquoise. 

The porch had just been added and the inside had been remodeled as well.

The wall between the two bedrooms inside had been torn down and now one king sized bed rested where the wall used to stand.

The tiny kitchen had been scrubbed so there were no more spiders in the cabinets, and new tech had been added, like a functioning fridge and a working stove oven. 

The screen door squeaked as it opened. Another young man stepped out, this one shorter and not quite as old. He smiled brightly and sat down next to the other on the porch swing.

Percy slung an arm around Nico's shoulder and sighed contentedly. 

"I'm so glad we bought this cabin," He said, glancing over his shoulder at their home.

"I am too. It makes you really happy."

"It makes you happy too, dork," Percy chuckled. 

"Only because I get to live in it with you."

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For marrying me."

"I'm the one that proposed, asshole."

Percy laughed and kissed Nico's cheek. "I love you, Nico."

"I love you too, Percy."

 

 

 

THE END