Nico shook out his hands, trying to calm his nerves. Yeah, okay, so he just admitted to Percy what he'd barely admitted to himself. That's cool. It's not a big deal. Just don't think about it.
"You good?" Will Solace asked when Nico joined him at the door of the Apollo cabin.
"I… um, yeah, I think so," Nico replied.
"Good, because we have work to do," Will said as they entered the infirmary. Nico braced himself for a less than warm reception. The injured demigods did not disappoint. Murmurs drifted about the room, and several glares were thrown his way. None of these people wanted him here, and really, could he blame them? He was an outsider, and he radiated an aura of death. It was no surprise that they didn't want him around.
Will paid it no mind, and Nico, lacking any more pleasant options, followed him across the room to a cluster of other people, obviously Apollo kids by their blonde hair and stuck up postures. Nico had only met the sun god once, but he was the most conceited god that Nico had ever encountered. And he'd met quite a few. The group weren't entirely so obnoxious, and they thankfully didn't have their father's habit of randomly reciting horrible poems, but they held themselves with this unmistakable air of confidence.
Nico hung back while Will consulted with his siblings. He glanced nervously at his feet, where even two days after his last shadow travel, the edges of any dark spots in the room gravitated towards him. He stood out enough in the bright, airy room as is. He didn't need every miniscule patch of shadow pointing to him like an inverted spotlight.
After a moment, Will pulled away and beckoned to Nico with a tilt of his head. Nico followed him through a door at the back of the room, which led to a large area sectioned off with curtains at regular intervals. Will led him to a section near the back, where there was an empty bed and a small table.
"You can put your… oh," Will said, glancing at Nico's empty hands. "It didn't occur to you that maybe you should have brought clothes?"
"Um, yeah, I was a little preoccupied. I'll have to run back to my cabin at some point, I guess," Nico replied.
"You're such a dunce. Sit down, I need to check your vitals," Will said. Nico complied, but when Will reached over and grabbed his wrist, he jerked back.
"Don't," Nico said.
"What's the deal? It's not like you can expect me to monitor your health without knowing the basics, Nico," Will replied, exasperated.
"I just… I don't like people touching me," Nico said.
"Well, you're going to have to get over it," Will told him. Nico gaped. People just didn't talk to him like that. Even the few people he actually considered friends were afraid of him. But here's this obnoxious son of Apollo who had seen even more than most of what Nico was capable of, and yet seemed willing to do and say just about whatever he wanted. It made Nico nervous. He didn't always have control over when things happened. His emotions controlled more of his powers than his brain did. But that wasn't an issue yet, and so he heaved a sigh and offered his arm to Will.
Will placed two fingers on Nico's wrist and closed his eyes. After a couple of seconds, his brow furrowed. He pulled away and frowned at Nico for a moment that stretched into two, and then he spoke.
"You're a mess, di Angelo," he said simply. Nico glared at him.
"Yeah? And?" Nico replied icily.
"Your pulse is erratic, although that might have something to do with your aversion to human contact. Your temperature is low enough to border on dangerous, blood pressure isn't much better, and I'm sure you know this, but you're exhausted. What does your sleep schedule look like?"
"Well, let me see. Do you mean when I was trekking through Tartarus with nobody to watch my back? Or when I had to put myself in a death trance so that I wouldn't suffocate? Or more recently, when I was unconscious more often then not and as soon as I could move, I was dragging myself, two others, and a huge statue across Europe? Or should I go back further than the past month, Solace?" Nico snapped. He was already sick of Will Solace and his nagging, and he hadn't even been there for an hour.
Will just stared at him for a minute. A couple of times he opened his mouth to say something, and then decided better of it.
"Fair enough," he finally admitted. "I guess tragic heroes don't have a chance to worry about their health."
Nico scowled. "I'm not a tragic hero. And anyways, I feel fine. I'm fine."
"Uh huh," Will said sarcastically. "If by 'fine,' you mean 'on the brink of physical deterioration,' then I agree."
"I can take care of myself, Will," Nico growled.
"If I recall, the last time you said something like that was right before you almost collapsed in the middle of a battlefield," Will remarked.
"I didn't… I wasn't… Ugh! You're so annoying," Nico said, lacking a better retort. Will just laughed.
"Yeah, I've heard that one before. Come on, Death Angel. If you're doing so well, you can help me make the rounds."
"Don't call me…" Nico started, but Will had started to walk away. Nico hesitated, but then chased after him. Strangely enough, for the first time in a long time, Nico didn't want to be left alone.