Nico knew he was in trouble the second his vison began to turn black.
Up until that point, he’d been able to convince himself that his injury was nothing more than a bad cut, and he could just walk into the infirmary and grab some bandages. He was only half way there when his eyes first failed him, and he stumbled forward, pressing a hand to his suddenly pounding head. His other arm was wrapped tight around his midriff where the gashes in his side were throbbing blood and pain.
Just a bit further, he reminded himself, taking another step. You’re nearly there, just a few more steps.
He managed to make it a few more feet forward before his legs gave out, sending him crashing to the ground. He managed to catch himself on his hands and knees, but he could feel his limbs shaking in exhaustion. The rough dirt and twigs stabbed painfully into his bare palms, and his sword felt ten times heavier wrapped around his waist.
Focus. He opened his eyes, and tried to look through the darkness – he could see the ground, the roots of a nearby tree, it’s shadow – shadow.
He dredged up the last bit of energy he had and reached out, plunging his hand into the darkness, concentrating as hard as he could manage. A second later, he was falling through the darkness, before being spat out into a blinding light that made him wince and squeeze his eyes shut again.
“Nico?!” Yelled somebody nearby, and he felt someone catching his shoulder and rolling him onto his back. The movement made him let out a soft hiss as pain lashed up his side. “Oh, gods. Somebody get Will! He’s- He’s really badly injured.”
Someone said something too quietly for him to hear, and then the girl spoke again, her voice still carrying the same loud tone of urgency. “Can you? Nobody’ll care- Carter! Help me get him to a bed.”
Nico felt hands reaching under him to lift him up, but he couldn’t even muster the energy to care. The pain everywhere peaked and he finally blacked out for real.
Nico screwed his eyes up against the bright light when he came to. The pain in his side had faded somewhat, and he guessed he’s been given something for that.
Even barely conscious, that voice sent his heart racing. He hoped no one had hooked him up to a heart monitor this time.
He opened his eyes to meet a pair of electric blue ones. Will’s face was so close, he could feel the other boys breath on his cheeks.
“Will.” He managed to force down the heat that had rushed to his face.
“Sorry.” Will pulled back a little. “I forgot about the whole ‘personal space’ thing. How are you feeling?”
“How are you feeling without lying?” Will folded his arms. “You nearly died, Nico. You’re not fine.”
Nico flinched. Once, the idea of him dying hadn’t bothered him – it was really just returning to his fathers kingdom for the last time, after all. But now he had someone he wanted to stay alive for – someone who wanted him to stay alive – and he still wasn’t quite used to it.
“Fuzzy,” he said, honestly. “I feel fuzzy.”
“That’s to be expected – we had to sedate you, you were in that much pain. Morphine.” Will gave him a look that clearly said ‘we didn’t have a choice’ (he knew how much Nico hated being sedated) but Nico just nodded in response. He’d already guessed as much. “Are you going to tell me what happened?” Prompted the blonde, raising an eyebrow and leaning forward to rest his head on his hands, propped up on the bed. Nico moved to sit up a little more, ignoring the ache it caused.
“I was walking Mrs O’Leary and we got attacked.” Nico explained. “I killed it, but-“
“It got a few good swipes in first.” Finished Will, easily. “I saw. We patched up your side, but it’s going to take a while to heal, even with unicorn drought. Do you mind if I take a blood sample?”
“Can’t you just do a reading?”
“That would tell me your symptoms, not the cause, or how to treat it.”
“In that case, sure, I guess.”
“I appreciate the enthusiasm.” Will grinned at him, grabbing a band and taking Nico arm. As he tightened the tourniquet, Nico couldn’t help but wince. “Is that too tight?” Asked Will, looking concerned.
“No,” said Nico immediately, because it didn’t feel any tighter than it usually did, but for some reason him arm ached around it.
When Will injected the needle into his elbow, Nico couldn’t help but jump from a combination of pain and surprise. He’d gotten more blood tests than he would’ve like to admit, but needles never usually bothered him. For some reason, this time to felt like being stabbed.
“You okay?” Asked Will, furrowing his brows.
“Didn’t we go over the lying thing?” Will pulled the needle smoothly out and pulled off the tourniquet with his free hand.
“I am okay.” Nico muttered, rubbing his arm. “It just- hurt more than usual, that’s all.”
He watched as Will turned to the desk and started dropping to blood onto something that he couldn’t see. He tried to shuffle into a more comfortable position, which made him ache again, and tried to suppress a moan, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Got it!” Said Will, and Nico opened his eyes again to look over at his grinning face. “It’s annenalgesia.”
“Anee-nal-ga-sia.” He repeated slowly. “It’s a poison, it targets your nociceptors to lower your pain tolerance and make you more vulnerable.”
“Sounds great.” Said Nico, who had no idea what a nociceptor was.
“It is great. Uh, excessive pain aside, of course.” Will flashed him a somewhat awkward and adorable grin. “We have the cure here.” He turned to the shelves of medicine bottles and, after a second of scanning, grabbed one of the highest shelf. “Here.” He poured it into the cap and held it out. “This should flush the poison out of your body over the next twenty-four hours.”
Nico downed it in one, and winced. “That’s disgusting.”
“Medicine always is.” Agreed Will, taking the cap back. “You’ll have to stay here overnight. Is that okay?”
Yes. “Maybe.” Replied Nico, vaguely. Will grinned at him, and held out his hand.
Nico let him take his wrist. He was glad that he’d managed to get enough control over the butterflies that resurrected in his stomach that he didn’t get too flustered just by the simple contact anymore.
“You’re tired,” Will concluded. “You should try and get to sleep, you’ve been through a lot. Besides, that medicine’s going to make you sleepy.”
“Sure.” Said Nico, shifting back into a lying down position. “How long was I out before?”
“Three hours and thirty-seven minutes,” recited Will, then blushed. “Roughly.”
Nico smiled grudgingly. Will had noticed him doing that a lot more often recently, which was nice. He liked it when Nico smiled.
“I’ll wait here for you to fall asleep.” He said, a little quickly, and then shifted awkwardly. “Y’know, to keep an eye on you. The medicine shouldn’t kick in for an hour, anyway.”
“Sure.” Said Nico, trying not to sound too happy about it as he shifted onto his side, facing Will. It eased the pressure on his injured side, too, which helped. Will settled into the chair opposite, looking completely casual. “I’m sorry to drag you away from- whatever you were doing earlier.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Will reassured him. “It was just a meeting of the head councillors.”
“Oh, I forgot about that.” Hummed Nico.
“You always forget about them.”
“They’re always pointless. Unless there’s some massive quest going on.”
“True,” agreed Will, “which is why it’s not a big deal for me to be dragged away. You owe me cheez whiz, though.”
“I can buy you cheez whiz,” mumbled Nico, who was starting to fall asleep.
“Great. I’ll take that as my payment for nursing you back to health.”
Nico made a soft sound in response and shut his eyes, trying to ignore the soft pain in his side. After a few minutes of silence, he finally drifted off to sleep.
Will leaned over and gently tucked the blanket over the other boys shoulders. “Careful, di Angelo. You’re not getting away from me that fast.”
He leaned backwards and settled into the chair properly.