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Everything But You

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I hate drinking coffee in the morning

I hate that place everybody goes

If it's fun, I'll probably think it's boring

Just like that song everybody knows

— Anti-Everything (Lost Kings feat. Loren Gray)

 

Will’s not sure why he’s at this party, other than Lou Ellen said it was the biggest party invite of the year. Will’s pretty sure she’s just here because the pretty girl she’s been crushing on all semester is here. Not that she wouldn’t be since this is the biggest party of the year. So here Will is, wearing a reindeer sweater and antlers, holding a solo cup of Sprite because he doesn’t drink.

It wouldn’t be that bad except Lou’s already ditched him for her soon-to-be-girlfriend, leaving him standing in the kitchen like some loser. Will’s contemplating just slipping out, but he doesn’t want to leave Lou behind in case things don’t work out with the pretty girl (though he’s betting things will). Will’s just about to see if he can find somewhere quieter to wait when he someone catches his eye.

Unlike everyone else in the room, this guy is wearing all black, no Christmas cheer on him in sight. It looks like he’s been dragged here by his friends. Will can see two guys clearly in love with Christmas (or at least holiday spirit) on either side of the all-in-black guy. Looking closer, Will sees a scowl on his face, his lips twisted into what’s probably a curse. His eyes flash over the living room before he pushes himself towards the kitchen.

It’s not until he’s sifting through the coolers that Will realizes that the guy is handsome. Not quite what Will would consider his type, but he’s not sure he even really had a type before he saw this guy. Olive skin and black hair, eyeliner, leather jacket. And as if to break stereotypes, a rainbow pin on the front pocket. (Not that Will believes in stereotypes.)

“You’re in the way,” he says, looking up at Will. Will blinks, moving quickly to the side when he remembers the cooler behind him. He hears the guy sigh. “Always cheap beer. It’s not like these guys are rich and can’t splurge a little. If you’re gonna go all out, go all out.”

He sighs again, closing the coolers. He pauses right in front of Will, eyes moving up and down. Will swallows. Sure, he’s been in relationships, had people look at him. But he’s never had someone look him over. He’s not usually a second-glance type of guy.

“Want to find something better to do?”

“Like what?” Will asks. He wants to close his mouth immediately.

The guy shrugs. “Literally anything else. I like Christmas and all, but this is more like chaos.” 

Will doesn’t have a chance to respond before the guy turns around and starts to leave. Will empties his cup in the sink before following him through the house. It doesn’t take long before they’re standing outside. Will bites his tongue when the guy pulls out a cigarette.

“What? Don’t smoke?” Will shakes his head. “Neither do I. Quite two years ago.” He hands the cigarette to Will, smirking. “Want to go somewhere?”

“Where?”

“Wherever you want to go. You looked like you wanted to leave.”

Will’s not sure what to say to that. On one hand, he’s kind of Lou Ellen’s ride. On the other, he really doesn’t want to hang out here. And there’s something about this guy that makes Will’s belly flip in a way that’s not exactly bad. Quickly, he pulls out his phone, texting Lou Ellen. He rolls his eyes when she sends back a winking emoji.

“So we going somewhere, handsome?”

“I don’t even know your name.” Will doesn’t know what he’s doing.

“Nico di Angelo. Where to?”

“I’m kind of hungry,” Will says slowly. Nico nods.

“How about pizza?” He starts walking again, and Will follows. He feels like this is how people get kidnapped, lured in by hot guys and the appeal of pizza, but he hasn’t turned himself around yet. Will really hopes he won’t become one of those college caution stories. Stay away from hot guys. Stay away from pizza. Both can lead to bad things.

“Know how to ride?” Will shakes his head, a couple of scenarios flashing through his mind. He’s never even been this close to a motorcycle before. Nico smiles, patting the seat. “I’ll drive slowly. I even have a helmet. Just hold on tight.”

Will sits slowly before wrapping his arms around Nico. He’s warm and soft, not like Will had been expecting.

“Better hold onto those antlers.” Will blushes, tucking the antlers between his stomach and Nico’s back. He swallows his squeak when the motorcycle starts moving. Will clings to Nico, wondering if he’s just dreaming all of this. He can’t decide if it’s a good dream or about to become a nightmare.

Will does squeak when Nico parks outside of a well-lit pizza parlor. His legs feel shaky as he gets off, shaking out his arms. Nico hands him his antlers, winking. Will feels his stomach dip, blaming it on the motorcycle 

“You’ve got a name, handsome?” Nico asks once they’ve ordered. Is this a date? Will wonders. Nico had paid for the pizza, and they were sharing. Which was another thing to consider. Was Nico going to expect sex after this?

“Will. Will Solace.”

Nico nods. “Tell me about yourself, Solace.”

Will has a tendency to ramble when he’s nervous, so he does. He rambles about college and his family and his friends back home. Nico doesn’t stop him, just watches him between sips of his soda, prompting him when Will trails off. Will’s pretty sure this is bad date etiquette if this is a date, but maybe it’ll convince Nico not to kidnap him if this is anything else.

By the time the pizza arrives, Will’s run out of topics to ramble about, instead just shoving a slice into his mouth to keep from saying something awkward 

“Don’t you want to know about me?” Nico asks. Will nods. Nico doesn’t spill quite as much. In fact, he’s very brief. He manages to keep Will interested by saying almost nothing. “Also, you can stop glancing at the door. I’m not going to kidnap you.”

“I’m not thinking that,” Will says.

Nico takes a sip of soda. “I know my reputation, but it doesn’t include kidnapping.”

That’s news. Will has literally no idea who Nico is, but it’s not like he’s very in tune with the gossip. Lou Ellen might know something, though. Will makes a note to ask her later. “So, if you’re not kidnapping me, what’s this?”

“Pizza?” Nico says. “Or as close to real pizza as you can get here. Do you like it?”

Will nods. The pizza was amazing. “But, like, you’re just having pizza with a random guy?”

Nico nods. “You looked like you wanted to leave and I never wanted to even be there, so now we’re not.” It makes sense. Maybe Will’s just overthinking this whole thing. Maybe Nico’s just looking to make a new friend. Maybe Will really did look that lonely standing there.

“So this isn’t a date?”

“I don’t date, Solace. Hope that doesn’t break your heart.”

“Just pizza with a random stranger,” Will says. He takes another slice of pizza. “That’s cool.”

Nico nods, smiling. “I can give you a ride home, though. You’re pretty cute.”

Will flushes again. Now that he’s thinking about, he does think he’s heard some rumors about Nico, but he can’t remember if they were good or bad. They were probably good. Nico seems like a nice guy. Right?

This time, Will’s faster at getting on the motorcycle. He has to shout his address into Nico’s ear. His hands are clasped over Nico’s stomach, and he hopes that he isn’t squeezing too tight. He doesn’t want to appear clingy. Nico stops outside of Will’s apartment complex, offering his hand to Will. Then he slides the antlers onto Will’s head. 

“Um, thanks,” Will says.

“This was fun. See you around, Solace.”

Chapter Text

So if you’re wondering why I do the things that I do,

honestly I don’t know what to say

— If You Wonder (Jeff Bernat)

 

“I don’t understand New Year's parties,” Nico huffs. “It’s just another excuse to get drunk and do stupid things. I can do stupid things perfectly sober.


“And that’s why everyone thinks you’re a jerk,” Jason says.

“I’m not a jerk. I’m just honest.”

“Is exactly what a jerk would say.”

“If I’m such a jerk, why do you want me to go to this party anyway?” Jason shrugs, fixing the tie around his neck. Apparently, the party this year was classier than the others. Nothing said classy like getting drunk on cheap beer while wearing a tie.

“Because you’re my friend. And it’s a party which means there’ll probably be beer.”

Nico sighs. He wasn’t a fan of cheap beer which was about the only kind of beer found at college parties. His logic was that if he was going to put any sort of alcohol into his body, it was going to be worth it. “I don’t drink,” he says.

Jason laughs. “I forgot your dad raised you on expensive wine.”

“Cheap beer only tastes good drunk, and I’m not in the mood to get drunk.” Not that Nico ever got drunk. He only drank on special occasions, and college parties did not count as special occasions. Especially if they happened when any good excuse came along.

“Maybe you could see that cute blond guy again.”

Nico glares at Jason. “Why would I want to see him again?” Jason shrugs. “Besides, there are plenty of cute blonds at this school.”

“Suit yourself,” Jason hums, looking smug. He straightens his tie one last time before throwing a sigh over his shoulder. “I’ll see you later. Don’t get into trouble.”

Nico rolls his eyes. He never gets into trouble. He just looks like trouble, and some people can’t tell the difference.

He thinks about Will, wondering why he ever told Jason about him. Sure, Will is very cute, but that doesn’t mean anything. Lots of guys are cute. Nico hasn’t been tempted to sleep with Will, so he isn’t sure why Jason is suggesting Nico want to see him again. Nico never saw people twice. Will had just looked lonely, and Nico needed an excuse to leave the party.

Sighing, Nico gets up to make himself some food, pausing when he remembers that they had skipped their usual grocery run. Cursing Jason in his head, Nico looks through the pantry. There really isn’t much in there. With all of the holiday festivities, the food supply has run kind of low. There aren’t any leftovers either.

Nico grabs his phone and orders takeout.

He’s not expecting to see Will at all when he opens the door. “Um, hello?”

“You ordered the Happy Meal,” Will says slowly. He’s wearing a bright red polo shirt announcing the company he’s working for, his name tag hanging crookedly from the pocket. Nico nods, taking the bag. He pulls a handful of bills from his wallet, handing them to Will. “Thanks. Have a nice night, Nico.”

“No New Years parties for you, Solace?”

Will pauses. “Not unless you count all of the ones I’m delivering for. None for you?”

Nico shakes his head. “I don’t do parties.”


He looks at Will, slightly disappointed to see that Will doesn’t look any less cute without the reindeer antlers and sweater. He’d been hoping that it was a trick of the Christmas lights. Not that it makes any difference to Nico.

“Right, well, have a good night, Nico,” Will says after a moment. Nico blinks, nodding.

“You, too.” Nico closes the door, deciding to forget everything that just happened. He’s got his McDonald’s now, and that’s all that matters.

Since Jason isn’t home, Nico eats in front of the television, volume as high as he wants it. It’s not that he’s a rebel, but Jason is kind of particular about the kind of space he wants to live in, and Nico respects that - unless Jason isn’t here.

Nico ends up watching way too many episodes of absolutely nothing. He prefers to sketch in his free time, but his inspiration is failing him at the moment. All he can think about is Will Solace for no reason other than Nico’s alone on New Year's Eve, and this is a holiday people traditionally celebrate with others.

He shakes his head. Will Solace is a one-time thing. So what if Nico’s had a crush on him for the past few months. Nothing is going to happen because Nico isn’t going to do anything. He doesn’t date, so the last thing he wants to do is date Will Solace. Even if Will is very cute and unreasonably handsome.

Sighing, Nico grabs his sketchbook off the table, flipping open to the first clean page he can find. He doesn’t know why he feels so frustrated right now. He knows what Jason will say if asked, that Nico is just feeling sexually frustrated since he hasn’t been able to mindlessly hook-up with anyone since Will Solace walked into the stupid library wearing a hoodie, his nose tipped pink from the cold.

Every time he thinks of just finding someone and blowing a night doing nothing, his mind fills with blond curls and those freckles and that smile. And while Nico’s a jerk, he’s not about to hook-up with someone when he really wants them to be someone else (even if everyone else does it, especially if everyone else does it).

Nico glances down at what he’s drawing, throwing his sketchbook to the other end of the couch. Even a sketch wasn’t enough to fully drown out the memory. Nico had thought that if he just did something about his stupid crush (anything but actually doing something about it), then the whole thing would go away. He’d realize that Will was just an infatuation since Nico had sworn off dating.

Around eleven, Jason texts Nico a countdown. There’s a blurry video attached, clearly drunkenly recorded. It’s a bunch of flashing lights and wobbly people. Nico can hear Piper’s voice in the background, can hear people cheering and laughing. It doesn’t really sound like fun, but Nico’s never felt quite this alone.

Since he’s the master of avoiding his feelings, Nico orders ice cream. He knows he can just go and get some himself, but he’s not about to deal with the crowds. While he may be wallowing in a new kind of loneliness, he’s not desperate enough to let himself get swallowed by a horde of drunk people.

His doorbell rings about a quarter to midnight. At least he’ll have his ice cream, Nico thinks.

“Solace?”

Will blushes. “Um, hey. You ordered four pints of Moose Tracks?”

“Are you judging me?”

Will laughs. “Nope. Just making sure that I got the order right.”

“Are you stalking me, Solace?”

He watches Will scratch the back of his neck. It makes a curl stick out the back. “I guess most people are just at parties right now, so I’m kind of the only delivery guy.”
“Guess you just couldn’t stay away.” A nice blush colors Will’s cheeks pink, and Nico’s stomach flips. “Is this your last stop?” Nico asks. He needs to shut up. He tells himself that he’s only asking because Will looks tired, and it can’t be fair that he’s the only one working in the area tonight.

“Um, it can be, I guess,” Will says. “I don’t really have set hours, you know?”
Nico nods. “Well, um, did you want to come in for a bit? Have some ice cream?”

Will shrugs. “I can, sure.” He steps inside, and Nico thinks he’s officially crossed the line of doing nothing about this stupid crush. Because Will Solace is standing in his kitchen about to eat ice cream with him. If Nico were actually as cool as people thought he was, he wouldn’t be freaking out so much. “You have a nice place.”

“Thanks.”

“So is this a common thing you do?” Will asks.

“What?”

“Invite random people to eat with you.”

“Seems to be a new thing,” Nico says. He grabs some spoons for them, putting the extra cartons in the fridge with a note for Jason to keep his hands away. “You know, new year and new leaves and all.”

Will nods. “Yeah, I’m thinking of a couple of resolutions myself.”

Nico wonders how Will looks so calm right now. Was it a common thing for Will to be invited into random people’s homes? Maybe it came with the job.

“I don’t make resolutions.”

“Really? It’s always been kind of a tradition in my family.” Nico watches as Will crosses his legs and then uncrosses them. He seems to be wondering if he can put his feet on the couch. Nico crosses his legs. After a moment, Will does, too.

“My family isn’t really one for traditions.” Not unless one counted forgetting things as a tradition.

Nico’s phone buzzes again. Jason’s still going with the countdown. At least that meant that Jason wasn’t completely smashed and Nico would have to drag him home and deal with a hangover later. But it also meant that Nico can’t think straight between Will sitting across from him eating ice cream and the persistent buzzing.

“Friends?” Will asks.

“My annoying cousin and roommate,” Nico says. “He’s giving me a countdown like I don’t have a clock.”

Will smiles. “So if you don’t do traditions, I’m guessing you don’t do the midnight kiss.”

Nico’s definitely regretting inviting Will inside. He doesn’t think he’s been this internally conflicted since he first watched one of Percy’s swim meets when he was twelve. Will Solace wasn’t supposed to be the smooth one.

“Not intentionally,” Nico says. He’s definitely hooked-up with some people at New Year's parties.

“I’ve never done it.” Will scoops a bite of ice cream into his mouth. Nico’s kind of forgotten about his own. There are only a few spoonfuls gone. “I mean, it’s not really a thing when you only celebrate with your family.”

“Are you saying you’ve never been kissed, Solace?” Nico asks. Teasing Will is something he can do.

“I’ve kissed people,” Will says. His cheeks are pink now. “I just haven’t done it specifically on New Year's Eve.”

“Want to?” Because why not? He’s clearly already thrown caution to the wind.

Will seems a bit hesitant now, and Nico hopes he hasn’t overstepped any lines. While scaring Will away would fix Nico’s crush problem, it wouldn’t make him feel any better. People think he’s a jerk because he’s honest. And if he’s being honest, he really doesn’t want Will to leave. (Sometimes he hates being honest.)


“Is it almost midnight?” Will asks.

Nico checks his phone. “Two minutes.”

Will blinks, cheeks pinker now. Nico hopes he appears very nonchalant about this. He’s not really worried about his reputation so much as his sanity. Because there’s something about Will that’s just kind of driving him crazy. If Jason knew about this, the teasing would never end.

Sometime in the last minute, Will’s moved closer. His ice cream sits forgotten on the table where Jason might complain about it leaving a mark, but Nico doesn’t care. Half of the carton is on a coaster. Jason can deal with it.

Nico’s phone buzzes as the seconds count down. He doesn’t know why it’s such a big deal. He’s kissed lots of people before, sometimes people he didn’t even know the names of. He can’t count the times he’s hooked up with someone without knowing more than their name and what they liked to drink. It’s just something he does, like drawing. So kissing Will shouldn’t be as big a deal as he seems to be making it.

. . . 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 . . .

Will’s not an exceptional kisser, but he does have something going for him. His curls are soft, and his lips are chapped. His nose brushes gently over Nico’s cheek, the tip still cold even after being inside all this time. Nico blames the shiver on Will’s fingers (cold from the ice cream). He pulls away first.

“Happy New Year!” Will says. “That was nice.”

Nico nods. “Welcome to January.”

They sit there in awkward silence. Nico kind of wants to kiss Will again, and he’s debating the pros and cons when Will glances at his phone. It only takes a few more minutes before Will’s gathering his keys. Nico just stands in the doorway as Will heads out. He’s tempted to ask Will to stay, but he’s very sure that’s not a good idea for anyone. Will stops when he gets to the hallway, waving.

“See you around, Nico.”

Chapter Text

At the best of times, I'm lonely in my mind

But I can find something to show you

If you have got the time

I Couldn’t Be More in Love (The 1975)

 

“When were you going to tell me that you have a boyfriend?” Lou Ellen asks. Will sits up, grumbling. He’s just pulled a long shift, and all he really wants is some sleep. Glancing at the clock, he can see that he’s only made up about five hours. Sleep debt is a real thing, folks.

“I’m sleeping,” he mumbles, trying to pull the blankets back over his head. When he agreed to share an apartment with Lou Ellen earlier in the year, he hadn’t been anticipating this. He’d figured that it’d just work since they’d known each other long enough and had similar habits and non-conflicting schedules. (And while most of this was true, Lou Ellen suddenly knew way more about his life than before.)

“You’re awake enough to talk to me,” she says, grinning. Will sighs. He can’t hate her. It’s just literally not possible. Not when she’s his best friend from all of these years. Especially not when he really does want to talk about Nico. He’s just not sure what they are, so maybe a second opinion won’t hurt.

“So you think I’m dating someone?” Will asks. He’s not sure if he can call what he and Nico are doing dating, but he’d very much like to. After becoming completely infatuated over pizza that first night, the New Years kiss really sealed the deal. At first, he’d tried to chalk it up to hormones and a teenage crush, but now he’s not so sure. It feels more than that, more than just a random fling because they were both bored.

“I think you’re dating Nico di Angelo,” Lou Ellen says, sitting on Will’s bed. “Kayla said she saw you two at the library.”

“He works there,” Will says. It’d been a surprise that Nico worked at the library, but now he can’t picture Nico anywhere more perfect. Though he dressed like a bad boy, it was clear how comfortable he was amongst the stacks of books. All he needed was a pair of glasses. (He could borrow mine, Will thinks.)

“And now you’re spending a lot of time there,” Lou says.

“I’m always there. You know that.” The library is basically Will’s second home now. (Or third, if you counted his actual home and this apartment.)

“I know that. But now you’re doing more than studying. Or should I say that you’re studying a new subject.”

Will can feel his face heat up, and he kind of wishes he could just kick Lou Ellen off of his bed. Why did he think this was a good idea? “Nothing like that. He works, and I study. And sometimes we get food.”

“And also kiss,” Lou adds.

Will dives under the blankets, groaning. “Don’t tell me people saw that.”

He can hear Lou Ellen laugh, and he knows that he was spotted. It probably isn’t as embarrassing as he’s making it out to be, but Will has never done anything like that before. He’s never gotten so completely lost in a kiss that he’s forgotten where he is, much less that much kissing in public. (It’d been especially hot since Nico had initiated.)

“I think it was nice, Will.” Will pouts, though Lou Ellen can’t see him. “It’s nice to see you getting out and meeting people. Everyone thinks you study too much.”

“Everyone being who?” Will asks.

“Your family, Cecil, Kayla,” she lists. “Literally anyone who has ever met you.” She pulls back the covers, poking Will’s nose. “Me.”

“But I have to study. It’s not like I can just absorb knowledge through osmosis.”

“I’m just saying it’s nice to see you having a social life. We both know I dragged you to that Christmas party. And then you got out of the last one because you were working. We both know you choose your hours.”

Will sighs. “Fine. It’s really nice,” he says, smiling a little. He really does love hanging out with Nico. He’d like to call it dating. He knows it’s rumored that Nico doesn’t date (Nico’s said it himself), but it can’t help feel like they are. But either way, it’s nice to see Nico just being Nico, though he still won’t call Will by his first name.

“I’m happy for you,” Lou Ellen says. She gets up (finally). “You should invite him over sometime. I wanna practice my shovel talk.” She makes a fist for emphasis.

“We’re taking things slow,” Will says. “No need to scare him away.”

Lou Ellen smiles. “I just want to look out for you, you know? You’ve got a big heart, and you’ve never really had a serious relationship. Sometimes rumors are rumors, and sometimes they’re not. Let me know if he oversteps any lines. I’ll fight him for you.”

Will rolls his eyes. “Alright, Lou. Now, just let me sleep.”

Will’s just closing his eyes when he hears her sigh. “Don’t you have that anatomy test?” Will springs out of bed, blindly grabbing stuff from his floor and desk. Lou’s laughing and Will just wants to jump back in bed. But he can’t because he’s got a test that’s worth about twenty percent of his grade in about twenty minutes.

Lou Ellen’s still laughing as Will rushes out the door. He’s not sure what’s so funny about his pain, but he’s too preoccupied. So preoccupied in fact that he didn’t actually grab his keys on the way out. Cursing, Will spins around to run back upstairs when he almost trips over Nico.

“Um, hey,” he says. He’s so flustered, and Nico just looks so calm. And handsome.

“Hey, yourself. Need a ride?” He tilts his head just a bit, and it’s all Will can do to just nod. Nico smiles, handing Will a helmet before straddling his bike. “Hang on, Solace.”

It doesn’t occur to Will that he hasn’t told Nico where he’s going until they park just outside of campus. Will opens his mouth o thank Nico before rushing off when he’s stopped by a pair of lips. Specifically Nico’s lips. By the time Will’s processed this, Nico’s already pulled away, smirking.

“Pink’s a good color on you,” Nico says. “Though it does cover up your pretty freckles.”
“I have to go,” Will blurts. “Thanks.”

Nico’s still smiling as he rushes away, and Will just hopes he remembers everything he needs for his test when all he really wants to think about is Nico’s lips on his skin.

Chapter Text

I hate every second you're not with me

I hate when we have to say goodbye

You're the only one who makes me feel things

'Cause I usually feel nothing inside

— Anti-Everything (Lost Kings feat. Loren Gray)

 

Things are nice, Nico thinks. Between his classes and work and Will, this semester is shaping up to be pretty nice. What’s also nice is the blush on Will’s face every time Nico surprises him. So nice, in fact, that Nico’s made it a secret goal to get Will to blush as many times as possible. And it’s not shaping up to be too hard.

“Hey, handsome,” Nico says. He’s been watching Will study for the past two hours, his back hunched over a textbook thicker than it has the right to be. Now that Nico’s finally allowed to remove his name badge, he can interrupt Will’s studying without distractions. “Wanna grab a muffin?”
Just those words alone are enough o make Will blush, and Nico counts it as another win. (He’s lost track of how many times Will’s blushed just this week.) The pink color makes Nico’s heart flip in a way that’s growing steadily familiar. He’s not quite sure how he feels about this knowledge, but he’ll deal with it later.

“I could eat,” Will says. He packs up his books, shoving them into his poor backpack.

They head to the campus coffee shop, a place they’ve begun to frequent since January. Nico already knows Will’s order by heart, so he makes his way to the counter while Will finds them a table.

“Here with him again?” Reyna asks. “Still sure he’s not a keeper?”

“I told you like I’ve told everyone else: I don’t date.”

“He knows that?”

“Mentioned it,” Nico says, shrugging. He and Will are friends. That kiss sometimes. “Anyway, just the usual.”

“If he breaks your heart, don’t come crying to me,” Reyna says, ringing up his order. “That’ll be seven twenty-six. Also, happy birthday.” She gives him a smile, eyebrows raised a bit. Nico sighs. He’s known Reyna forever, and she’s the only person who won’t put up with his attitude.
“Thanks. Can I just get a muffin without the lecture?”

“Can you just admit your feelings and save the drama?” Reyna fires back.

Nico huffs, moving to the end of the counter. Whatever he feels for Will is just temporary. One day, the thrill of making Will blush will fade, and Nico will move on. That’s how it always is. Will’s just exceptionally cute, so it’s taking longer.

“I think the barista is glaring at you,” Will says when Nico hands him his tea.

“We got into a disagreement,” Nico sighs. He glances behind him, flipping Reyna off. She ignores him.

“Over what?”

“Over whether or not I have feelings.” He’s not sure why he’s being so honest. Something about Will’s smile just kind of melts his filter.

“In general?” Will asks. “Or in particular?”

“It doesn’t really matter.” Will just nods, taking it in stride like he seems to do with everything. He unwraps his muffin, smiling as he takes a bite. It’s blueberry, his favorite, something Nico learned last week.

“So apparently my friend caught us making out the other day,” Will says slowly. “Or my friend’s girlfriend. I think they’re dating now.”

Nico waits, wondering what he’s supposed to say. He’s gotten “caught” kissing lots of people. He doesn’t think much of it. PDA is just something he’s comfortable with. “Is that a problem?”

Will shakes his head. “I guess not. It’s just kind of embarrassing.”

Nico wonders if Will’s talking about the rumors. There are a couple circulating about him and Will, but there aren’t too many. Most rumors about Nico are old news, especially since he’s met Will. Nico takes a sip of his coffee, allowing the movement to hide his gaze.

Will’s glasses are sliding down his nose, his curls messy from how many times he’s run his fingers through them. It almost looks like sex hair, and Nico can imagine it. Will lying in his bed, shirt off, blankets complimenting his toned muscles, tanned skin. All of those freckles. And that blush. Everywhere.
So maybe Nico does mostly live up to the rumors, but so what? He knows what he wants, and he goes for it. (But with Will’s he’s not so sure.)

“Are you going to blink any time soon?” Will asks, and Nico almost drops his coffee. “You just zoned out there a bit.”

“School is eating me alive. Wanna go somewhere?”

Will shrugs. “I just have to be back kind of not late. Got a paper to finish.” Nico nods. He’s got homework, too, but he can’t focus on that when Will’s right here. And maybe doing what he wants (or what he thinks he wants) will get this crazy crush out of his mind.

He feels reckless and restless as Will follows him out to the parking lot. It’s not too late in the evening, nearing Nico’s favorite time of the day. Will walks to Nico’s motorcycle, picking up the helmet like it’s his. (It basically is. Nico carries it just for him now.) As Will turns around, Nico steps forward and kisses him. Will lets out a surprised sound before relaxing.

“What was that for?” Will asks, a small smile on his face.

Nico shrugs. He doesn’t know. There’s adrenaline in his veins, and he doesn’t know what to do with it. If he didn’t have Will with him, he’d probably head towards the country, speeding down the empty roads. But he doesn’t want to be alone.

“Where are we going?” Will asks.

“You’ll see.”

Will’s arms wrap around Nico’s waist, and Nico waits until he’s situated on the bike. While he’s reckless with his own mortality, he’d never challenge Will’s. HIs heart more than his head takes him down familiar roads. He takes the lesser-known paths, thinking maybe Will will enjoy the scenery.

He finds himself at the beach.

“I’ve never been here,” Will says quietly. From up on the cliffs, they can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. The sky is a dusty blue falling into a soft purple until it meets the fiery horizon. “It’s pretty.”

Nico nods. They walk down the beach, rolling up their pants and pulling off their shoes. It’s cold, but it’s nice. Nico notices Will hugging himself, though.

“Want my jacket?”

“Then you’ll be cold,” Will says.

Nico almost laughs at how cliché this all sounds. “I’ll be fine, Solace.”

Will nods, taking Nico’s jacket. Nico is a little cold, but Will makes up for it by being insanely hot in Nico’s jacket. They find a spot to sit, Will letting out a breath as he digs his fingers into the sand.

“My mom used to bring me here all the time,” Nico says quietly. “It was one of her favorite places to be. We’d come here whenever we could, about as long as we could. Sometimes, we’d fall asleep here, and we’d wake up all sandy. I swear, it probably took us days to wash the sand away.”

Will laughs softly. “Is she- I mean,” he starts.

Nico nods. “Yeah. I still come here, though. It kind of feels like the only place she still exists.”

Will scoots a little closer, laying his head on Nico’s shoulder. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

Nico’s not sure why he brought Will here. Maybe he wants to prove that there’s something under all of his bad boy vibes, that he’s not that carefree guy who has it all together. But maybe Will already knows that. Will snuggles closer, and Nico has this urge to just hold Will. It takes him a few seconds to quiet his mind, pulling his arms around Will’s waist.

“Oh, and happy birthday.”

“You know?”

Will laughs. “Yeah. You told me a couple of weeks ago.”

Nico doesn’t remember that, but he’s relieved that Will hadn’t overheard Reyna today. “Thanks. Though this is a kind of sucky way to celebrate, you know?”

“I like it,” Will says. “You know, when I was little, all I wanted was to visit the beach. I thought it was this magical place where people did nothing but be on vacation. And I liked school and all, but I wished that my parents didn’t have to work all the time. So I wanted to go to the beach so that they wouldn’t have to.”

“Did you get to go?”

Will hums. “Yeah, when I was ten we took a family trip. It was anything but relaxing. But it was still fun. Even though I got stung by a jellyfish.”

“Did someone pee on you?”

“You know that’s not even the most effective thing to do, right?” Nico rolls his eyes. “But, yeah, my older brother peed on me. Probably the highlight of the trip for him.”

Nico smiles. “Must be nice having so many siblings. I’m the only one.”
“Sometimes. Sometimes, though, you really just want to pretend that they don’t exist.”

Nico can’t think of anything else to say, so he doesn’t. He just pulls Will a little closer when he starts to shiver, watching the sunset. It’s not a private beach, but not many people like braving the rocks to get down here so it’s peaceful. By the time it’s dark and the moon’s out, Nico’s pretty sure Will’s fallen asleep.

It’s endearing in a way that scares Nico. He’s not sure what about it exactly, but it scares him to have Will this close to him, this trusting of him. Gently, he shakes Will’s shoulders.

“Hey, handsome, gotta wake up.” Will grumbles, going to wipe his eyes when Nico takes them gently. “They’re covered in sand.” He wipes what he can off, smiling at Will.

“Did I fall asleep? I swear you weren’t boring me.”

Nico laughs. “C’mon, we should get back.”

Will hums. He looks too adorable for Nico’s good right now. They hold hands as they make their way up the rocks, Nico making sure that Will doesn’t slip or fall. He double-checks Will’s grip around his waist when they mount the motorcycle. And then he’s dropping Will off at his apartment.

“Sweet dreams, Solace.”

“Wait, your jacket,” Will says, moving to take it off. His motions are sluggish with sleep, though, and he’s clearly still cold.

Nico smiles, kissing Will’s cheek. “Keep it. I’ll see you later.”

“Goodnight, Nico.” After a moment, Will darts forward, his lips pressing against Nico’s. Just for a moment, but it’s the first time Will’s initiated a kiss. Will smiles, waving at Nico as he heads towards the door.

Nico doesn’t leave until he’s sure Will’s safely inside.

Chapter Text

Like a river flows surely to the sea

Darling so it goes

Some things are meant to be

— Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley)

 

Will’s pretty sure he’s not supposed to be out and about right now, but that doesn’t mean that his biology test is just going to wait for him to feel better. In fact, he’s pretty sure it isn’t going to. If anything, it’s going to just laugh in his face when he receives the failing grade he knows he’s going to get because he can’t concentrate at all right now.

His head feels all stuffy, and his nose won’t stop running. He’s used up all of his tissues, and he keeps sniffling so much that the girl at the next table over just packed up her things and left. The test is next week, so technically, he has enough time to prepare. But Will wants to feel prepared, and right now, he feels anything but.

The words on the page are starting to move around, and Will lays his head on the table just to rest his eyes. Just for a little bit, a quick study break. He’ll start memorizing vocabulary in five minutes. He just needs time to get his mind focused. The thought of the test fills him with a thrumming anxiety, and his sluggish mind only makes it worse.

“Solace?” Will turns his head to see Nico looking at him. “No offense, but you look awful.”

Will pouts. Nico always calls him handsome.

“Do I really look that bad?”

Nico sighs. “You look like a pretty ghost, Solace. Why are you here?”

“Studying. Gotta test.” Gods, how long has his break been? “Studying.”

“You said that already. And, I think you’re done studying.” Will shakes his head, a movement that only succeeds in making him a little dizzy. He reaches for his water bottle, only to find it empty. When did he run out? When was the last time he actually moved from this chair? “C’mon, handsome. Let’s get you back to your place.”

“But the test is next week,” Will whines.

“And you’ll have time to study later. Right now, I’m pretty sure you’d benefit from some sleep.” Nico starts packing up his things, and Will whines again. “Solace, can you honestly tell me you know what anabolism is?” Nico asks, squinting at Will’s notebook.

“It’s, um, something to do with living organisms, right?”

“I’m a history major.” Will pouts. What did Nico know, then? And if Will doesn’t know what anabolism is, he’ll definitely fail his test. And there go his hopes and dreams of graduating college. No self-respecting hospital would hire someone that couldn’t even pass college biology.

“Nico.”

“No protesting,” Nico says. “C’mon. I’ve even got a car today, so you won’t have to worry about falling off the bike.” At least that was a victory.

Somehow, Nico gets Will onto his feet, his backpack slung over his shoulder. He keeps an arm around Will’s waist until they get into the car. Will practically collapses into the front seat, finally agreeing that maybe some sleep would be good. He’s having trouble keeping his eyes open, and if he sniffles one more time, his head might explode.

Will doesn’t really remember the ride to his apartment. Part of him thinks that maybe Nico was singing along with the radio, and another part of him wonders if this whole thing is a dream. Sure, he and Nico were most likely dating, but Will wasn’t exactly expecting Nico to do boyfriend-y things. After all, they have only known each other for maybe a couple of months.

“Do you have your keys?” Nico asks.

Will digs through his backpack, relieved that he has that much of his life together.

“I’m gonna fail bio,” he mumbles as Nico opens the door.

“No, you’re not. You’re just going to rest now so you can study later, okay? Rest isn’t a bad thing. In fact, self-care is something doctors are supposed to be preaching.”

“You’d make a good doctor,” Will says, moving to flop onto the couch. Nico stops him.

“Your bed is more comfortable. Your couch is tiny.”

Will pouts. “Not all of us are rich and can afford big couches.”

Nico laughs. “You weren’t complaining when I bought you all of those teas and muffins.”

Will shakes his head, following Nico into his bedroom. His bed is still unmade from this morning, so he just collapses right into it, sighing. The mattress and pillows and blankets are just so inviting, and Will’s not sure why he ever left them.

“No,” Will mumbles. “You’re a good boyfriend, Nico.”

He doesn’t quite catch Nico’s expression before he’s drawing the blankets over Will’s shoulders.

“Just sleep, Solace.”

Later, when Will wakes up, he feels somewhat better. His head is still very stuffy and his nose is runny, but he isn’t face planted on a desk. So that’s a win. He has to think for a moment how he got here when he remembers Nico. Is Nico still here? Does that mean he and Nico are actually dating? Has Will said anything embarrassing?

It’s common knowledge in his family that Will has no filter when sick. He’s clingy and grumpy and attention-starved when he gets even the slightest drop of a cold. And this feels like a whole dose of cold.

Dragging the blankets with him, Will makes his way into the living room. He’s surprised to see Nico on the couch, typing away at something on his laptop. He doesn’t look up until Will attempts to clear his nose and ends up coughing.

“Feeling better?”

Will shrugs. He’d really like to cuddle right now. And some soup. As if reading his mind, Nico walks into the kitchen.

“It’s just from the can since I didn’t want to raid your kitchen,” he explains, handing Will a bowl. Will takes it, just holding it in his hands. Nico gently leads him to the couch, sitting beside him. From here, Will can see that Nico was doing some homework, and he feels a little bad. Nico isn’t obligated to take care of Will. They barely know each other, right? But they’re also dating, so?

“You don’t have to take care of me,” Will says. “I promise I’ll rest for all of today.”

Nico snorts. “We both know you’re lying, Solace,” he says. “I can see you eyeing my laptop.”

“Only because I wanna watch a movie.” Nico raises his eyebrows. “Not lying.”

Nico pulls his laptop closer, logging into Netflix. “What do you want to watch?”

“Something Disney,” Will says, not caring if Nico judges him. “Ooh, Moana.”

Nico rolls his eyes, but he clicks on it. “I haven’t actually seen this before.”

“You’re not a real Disney fan, then.”

“I’ve seen all the others, though,” Nico says. “Just not this one.”

“Good thing you’re watching it now.”

Will settles into the couch, sipping his soup as Nico balances the laptop on a pile of textbooks. Will supposes that’s one good thing about having giant books for class. He snuggles closer to Nico, seeking warmth and comfort. Nico’s tense at first, but he relaxes, tugging some of Will’s blanket over his legs.

Will finds himself watching Nico’s reaction more than the movie, trying to figure out if Nico likes the movie. He hasn’t noticed it before, but Nico is actually pretty expressional. He laughs in all the right places, bobbing his head a little to the music. Will lays his head on Nico’s shoulder, his eyes drooping again. His belly is full, and he’s warm and comfy.

He wakes up when the movie ends, Nico clicking on his laptop to exit out of Netflix. Will yawns, not wanting to move. He isn’t sure where Lou Ellen is, and he doesn’t want to be alone if Nico decides to leave right now. So he burrows into Nico’s side, mentally telling him not to leave him.

“It was a good movie,” Nico says quietly. “I liked the ending. It was pretty cool.”

Will hums. He’s too tired to think right now beyond Nico and his own stuffy head.

“Should I get you some medicine? Or maybe some water?”

Will nods. “Probably, but don’t move.”

“I’m not a wizard.”

“Then I don’t need anything.”

Nico sighs. “I think you do. You sound stuffy.” Will pouts. Nico moves to get up, and Will lets out a noise of disapproval. “I’m gonna be right back. But you need medicine and fluids.”

Will lays in a dissatisfied heap on the couch until Nico returns. He obediently takes his medicine and drinks his water, only to get Nico back to cuddling with him. He lets out a happy sigh when Nico gently pulls him into his arms, settling his head on Will’s. It’s only been a couple of minutes, but Will’s already falling asleep again.

“Of course, you’d have to be adorable even when full of snot,” Will hears. He feels something press against his hair, and his cold-muddled brain tells him Nico’s just kissed him. If he were feeling like his usual self, he’d probably be overanalyzing everything, stressing over his upcoming test, whether or not Nico is being nice to him because he’s sick. But, right now, he doesn’t think he can feel more content than this: wrapped up Nico’s arms, like nothing could ever hurt him.

Chapter Text

And I found love where it wasn't supposed to be

Right in front of me

Talk some sense to me

— I Found (Amber Run)

 

“Nico, everything is going to be fine,” Jason says. Nico doesn’t believe him. For one, Jason likes to say stuff just to make Nico feel better. For another, Jason’s been with Piper for almost four years. He can’t possibly remember the anxiety that comes with possibly maybe asking out your official crush on an actual date.

“But I didn’t even mean to do it,” Nico says. It’d just come out. Will had been sitting there so adorably, and Nico was not fully responsible for his brain just melting on the spot. He’d been thinking of how cute Will had been all weekend, how nice it was to have Will curled up in his arms. It’s even nicer than Will’s blush, and Nico is quickly growing addicted to the feeling.

Jason smiles. “That can be a good thing, you know. Maybe it means this is what you really want.”

Nico sighs. That’s the last thing he wants to admit, that he really wants to be with Will. Because Will is so precious, so trusting. And Nico’s the complete opposite. Sure, he likes soft things, but he’s got walls instead of windows and a frown that comes more naturally than a smile.

Not that that’s been the case the last couple of months.

“Nico, look at me,” Jason says. “Do you want to go on this date with Will?”

And Nico wants to say yes, so he does.

“Then go on a date with Will. You guys are pretty much already dating anyway. I kind of thought you had already sealed the deal and everything.”

“It’s not like I’ve proposed to him,” Nico huffs.

“That’s not really what I meant,” Jason says slowly, his eyes widening for a moment. “Wait, you guys haven’t had sex yet?”

“No!” Nico splutters. “And it’s none of your business either way.”

Jason grins. “Oh, you really like him, don’t you?”

Nico really does like Will, likes him so much in fact that he’s not in a hurry to get past all this foreplay to get to the main thing. Every little step along the way this time has felt like the main thing, every touch, every kiss, every time Will smiles at him. And that whole thing is scary.

“Look, it doesn’t have to be anything serious, this date,” Jason says. “Just think of something you guys would both like and do that.”

Nico nods. He can’t back out now. If he were to cancel the date, Will would probably look disappointed. And then Nico will feel bad.

“Like what?”

“There’s that fair this weekend. Don’t know why it’s so early, but hey, it’s a good opportunity, right?”

So that’s how Nico finds himself at the fair. It’s not too cold outside, but Will still makes a show of his teeth chattering until Nico offers up his jacket.

“Will’s a baby in the cold,” Lou Ellen says. She’s come along with Kayla, which makes Nico feel a little better and a little worse. He’s relieved that maybe it won’t just be him and Will and his thoughts, but he’s also pretty sure that Lou Ellen and Will are close. So if he messes something up, she’ll definitely beat him up. And Nico will let her.

“People aren’t supposed to be this cold,” Will grumbles. He’s holding Nico’s hand while also leaning into Nico’s side.

“Maybe you should have worn a heavier jacket,” Lou says. “Fashion isn’t always practical.”

Nico looks at what Will’s wearing. It’s a simple button-down, nothing too special. Only that Will looks insanely hot in it. Especially with Nico’s jacket. Is Lou Ellen implying that Will dressed up for this date? Because Nico definitely did. He’s got on a sweater that Piper picked out for him. It’s a light pink with little skulls sewn in along the bottom. He has no idea where she found it.

Will pouts. “Let’s just find some hot chocolate.”

That’s something Nico can do. He leads the way, not minding when Will slips their hands into his pocket. He buys the hot chocolate, glancing around. He’s never been to a fair before, so he has no idea what to do. There are rides and games and things to look at, food to eat.

“Anything you want to do?”

“We should do the Ferris wheel,” Kayla says. She smiles at Lou Ellen, taking a bite of a deep-fried something on a stick that they got when they first walked in. “No one’s got a fear of heights, right?”

Nico’s actually been on his fair share of Ferris wheels in his life. His mom had loved them, and it was also a great way to secure a hook-up later in the evening. It wasn’t too hard to do, so Nico didn’t mind spending a couple of dollars if it meant a good night.

But this feels different. Right now, he’s not thinking of how he’s going to get into Will’s pants (though he’d like to, if he’s being honest). He’s thinking about how not to spill his hot chocolate all over Will when the ride jerks forward, how close is too close, where he’s supposed to look. Will points out a few things across the grounds that they could do.

“How about that booth over there?” Will asks. “I think you can win a fish.”

“Shouldn’t it be illegal to have fish out here?”

Will nods. “That’s why we should save one and bring it home.”

“I’m not taking care of a fish, Solace.”

“Fine, I will. But you’ve got to win it. I’m awful at throwing stuff.”

Nico rolls his eyes. He’s pretty sure at this point he’d do anything Will asks.

“But maybe we should do the rides first. So we don’t kill the fish.”

After the Ferris wheel, they go on the merry-go-round, this mini duck rollercoaster that Nico’s pretty sure is for kids, a swing that’s basically a glorified ski-lift. There aren’t many rides, and Nico’s pretty sure they’ve covered them all by the time they finally get lunch.

Not all of the food is deep-fried, which Nico is happy about. He doesn’t want to throw up on this date between the greasy food and the rides and trying to decide how he really feels about Will. He doesn’t want to lead Will on, but he also doesn’t want to lead himself on.

“Have you tried the deep-fried Oreo?” Will asks.

“I don’t know how these foods are even legal,” Nico says.

Will laughs. “Just try it. I know how much you love chocolate.” Last weekend, Nico had said he’d consider eating broccoli if it were covered in chocolate. (Yes, he knows that’s disgusting.)

The Oreo is actually better than he thought it’d be. “But I still like the original ones the best.”

Will rolls his eyes. “Of course you would. I, on the other hand, don’t discriminate against any type of Oreo.”

Nico just kisses that smirk off of Will’s lips.

“You two are very cute,” Lou Ellen says, “but Kayla and I are going to visit the petting zoo. Don’t wait up for us, okay? And, Will, I’m going over to Kayla’s after.” Nico thinks he catches her wink, but he’s not sure. He still hasn’t quite figured Lou Ellen out.

“Ignore her. She’s just happy I’ve got a social life. Not that she’d feel bad flaunting her girlfriend in my face either way,” Will says, smiling.

“You don’t date a lot, I’m guessing,” Nico says.

Will shakes his head. “Not really. I don’t really get that many crushes, you know?”

Nico shrugs. Before Will, it seemed like he got a crush at least every week. But then he’d sleep with them, and it’d be over. No more feelings. And maybe that’s why he’s scared to have sex with Will. He’s gotten used to having these feelings. He’s not sure he wants them to go away.

“Don’t tell me I’m your first boyfriend, Solace,” Nico says.

“Not first. But it’s never been like this where we hang out and cuddle and go on dates.” He pauses. “Before it always felt kind of like work, you know? You had to plan when and what things were going to happen. I like this better.”

Nico nods. Those exact kinds of relationships were partially what turned him off of dating, but he doesn’t want to talk about it right now. “Let’s go get your fish.”

All in all, it takes Nico three times to win the fish. They aren’t frozen, but they do look kind of cold. And Nico has to stop Will from trying to get them all. The last thing Nico needs to do is adopt twenty fish with his boyfriend. (Because that’s what they are, right?)

“Want to come up?” Will asks when they get to his apartment. He pauses. “I didn’t mean that in a suggestive way. Just that you can help me find Herbert here a good home.”

“Herbert?”

Will hums. “Yup. That’s his name. You can tell he’s a he by his fins here. And his fin here, too.” Nico just nods. It’s oddly attractive having Will tell him how to tell a fish’s gender. It’s never a thing he’s considered.

Will gets him a big bowl, dumping in the stuff that they’d picked up on the way here. They’d gotten him some fake seaweed and colored pebbles for fun. Will places his little house in the back, situating the bowl on the bookshelf in the living room.

“I think he’ll be happy here,” Will says. They watch Herbert swim around a few times, adjusting to the water, before Nico just can’t take it anymore.

He takes two steps forward, pulling Will’s lips to his. They’ve been pressed together all day, Will sucking the warmth from Nico (not that Nico minded). While Nico doesn’t really care about PDA, he knows Will is still easily embarrassed by it, so he tries to keep it to a minimum. Will responds to the kiss with a low groan, his hands falling down Nico’s back.

The kiss is more heated than any of their other kisses have ever been, and Nico has to pull back to catch his breath.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” he whispers.

“Wow,” Will says. His cheeks are pink, and Nico has to peck his lips again. “I mean, you’re a good kisser. I’m totally out of practice.”

Nico rolls his eyes. He pulls Will in for another kiss, smiling. He doesn’t feel rushed to make it to the bedroom (though he’s not about to have sex with Will on that tiny couch). Will’s leg is between Nico’s as Nico kisses down Will’s neck. Will lets out a small whine that goes straight through Nico.

“You’ve been driving me crazy all day,” Nico says.

Will laughs. “You’ve been going crazy? What about me?” He pulls back a little. “Pink is a really good color on you.”

Nico can’t believe he’s actually blushing now, but he is. Will Solace has gone and actually shot Nico through the heart with cuteness.

“Also, I’m not ready yet. I know that’s what you were asking earlier,” Will says. Their foreheads are pressed together, and Nico can feel Will everywhere. He’s ready. Or, at least, his body is. His head is still tossing thought after thought around. “I really like you, but I’ve never gone further than this,” Will adds.

Nico nods, humming softly as Will kisses his jawline.

“I have, but I can wait,” Nico says. He draws Will’s lip between his teeth, memorizing this for later. Will lets out a breathy sound, and Nico’s definitely going to need a few moments to unwind if this is as far as they’re going tonight. He releases Will’s lip, stepping back. And Will looks like a picture, hair messy, lips swollen, a tiny imprint of Nico’s teeth along his neck.

“It’s okay?” Will asks, suddenly looking hesitant.

Nico cups Will’s face, smiling. “You’re killing me, but I can wait.”

Chapter Text

Throw open the doors

You know my heart is yours

What are we waiting for?

— Pioneers (For King and Country)

 

Will’s not sure why he’s nervous. They’re not doing anything that they haven’t already done before. They’re just having dinner at Nico’s place. Because Nico has been teasing Will about his lack of kitchen skills, so he’s going to teach Will how to make some food. It’s just simple domestic boyfriend stuff. Right?

Sure, their relationship has kicked up a notch since going to the fair. Will finds himself wanting to kiss longer and longer each time, that embarrassing whine escaping his lips every time Nico pulls away. He’s gotten so lost in it that sometimes he doesn’t even notice when they’re in public.

And Jason would be there. So nothing would be happening. Because Nico knows how Will feels about PDA. Will takes a deep breath, and Lou Ellen looks at him. She’s on the couch with Kayla, watching some Hallmark movie because they said there was nothing else on. (Like she and Will didn’t binge-watch the Hallmark channel just last weekend.)

“I know you’re a disaster in the kitchen, Will, but Nico will still like you even if you burn his kitchen down,” she says.

“I’m not going to burn his kitchen down.” Will pauses. “Though it could definitely be a deal-breaker if I did.”

Kayla hums. “I think as long as he knows you didn’t mean to, you’ll be fine. You’re not secretly an arsonist, are you?”

Lou laughs. “Please, Will won’t even light the candles on his own birthday cake. His mom still does it for him.”

“Because that’s how it’s done, Lou,” Will huffs. “No one lights their own candles.”

“That is true. It’d be kind of sad,” Kayla says.
“What I’m trying to say is that Will, here, doesn’t mess with fire. So he won’t be burning down any kitchens. Even when attempting to cook.” Lou Ellen smiles at him. “Did he say what he was teaching you?”

Will shakes his head. Nico has given him almost no expectations for this date. Will’s not even sure how to dress. Right now, he’s just wearing jeans and a sweater. Should he go change? More formal? More casual? Why is he overthinking this now? He’s got to leave in ten minutes.

“Will, chill,” Lou says. “It’s going to be fun. You’re going to make dinner, and then you can come back here and make dinner for Kayla and I.”

Will rolls his eyes. “We’ll see about that.”

“Ooh!” Will blushes.

“Not what I meant.”

“Are you sure?” Lou Ellen asks.

“I meant that I might not be able to recreate the meal,” Will pouts. Because now he’s thinking of Nico shirtless and in bed and kissing, and Will needs to stop that train of thought right now.

“Sure,” she says. “Just let me know, okay? Have fun! Stay safe!”

Will has to take a few moments to compose himself before he knocks on Nico’s door. Lou Ellen’s words are still running through his head, her teasing grin. He knows she wouldn’t tease him if he were uncomfortable with it, but Will’s not sure how he feels about it. He wants to move further with Nico, but he’s scared.

What if he messes everything up?

“Hey, handsome,” Nico says, smiling. He pecks Will’s lips, pulling him into the apartment. “Jason’s here, but he’s leaving soon.”

“Hi, Will,” Jason says. “Don’t listen to Nico. He actually loves me.”

Nico rolls his eyes, grabbing some things from the fridge. Now that Will’s noticed, he can see a pile of groceries on the counter. Is Nico going to use all of that to make dinner? Will can’t remember the last time he ate something with that many ingredients.

“These are vegetables, Solace,” Nico says. “I assume you’ve heard of them.”

“Yes,” Will says.

“Good. A doctor should know about vegetables.”

“Good luck,” Jason says. “Nico’s pretty particular about his cooking.”

Will nods. Nico sets him to work, chopping the vegetables. Apparently, they were just making a simple stir-fry since it’s one of the easiest things Nico can teach Will. And he can make it with different ingredients, so he won’t get bored of it too soon.

“Chopping. Not dissecting,” Nico says. He grabs a knife, roughly chopping up a carrot. Will watches, blinking. “See that?”

Will tries again, focusing less on making everything the same size. He moves onto the green onion, the peppers, the mushrooms. Nico’s got the chicken and rice cooking, and he dumps Will’s vegetables into the pan when he’s ready. There’s some kind of sauce that Nico explains to him, and it smells delicious. It’s honestly kind of hot to watch Nico cook.

“Do you want an egg?” Nico asks. Will shrugs, so Nico grabs another pan and fries up a few eggs. “And there you go. Dinner is ready.”

“See, it looks simple enough,” Will says.

“Is that just you asking me to cook for you more?” Nico teases.

Nico plates the food, and Jason joins them. “Nico’s cooking is amazing. Seriously. Piper’s super upset that I’ve forgotten how to cook because Nico’s so much better.”

“Forgotten is a nice word for never having learned,” Nico says. Jason flips him off. Nico rolls his eyes. Will just sits quietly and eats his dinner. It’s amazing, the sauce and vegetables working together perfectly. It had all seemed so effortless.

“Well, this has been nice,” Jason says, getting up when he’s done, “but Piper and I are going to a movie.”

“Have fun, be safe! Don’t spill the popcorn this time!” Nico calls as Jason leaves.

“Love you, too, Neeks!”

“Don’t ever call me that,” Nico says, turning to Will. Will nods.

Doing the dishes together feels very domestic. It reminds Will of when he lived at home (or whenever he visits), and he and his siblings make a little conveyor belt. One would bring the dishes to the sink, another washing, another drying, another putting them away. Will’s mom was one of those who never seemed to use the dishwasher.

“We use the dishwasher here,” Nico says when Will tells him this. “If we didn’t, there’d just be a giant pile of dishes in the sink because we’d never wash them.”

“Good to know.”

Nico hums. When the dishes are done, they end up on Nico’s big couch. Despite the fact that there’s space for three people to sit comfortably, they squish together in the middle. Will looks around Nico’s apartment. There are a few books stacked on the coffee table, most likely Jason’s from the titles. A shirt is hung over the back of the recliner. A sketchbook lays by the books.

“Is that yours?” Will asks. Nico had mentioned he liked to sketch.
“Yeah, mostly doodles, though. I haven’t drawn anything seriously in a while.” He grabs the book, flipping through it. Will looks over his shoulder. Even the doodles were really good. They were of random things, books, people, trees. A couple of them were of cats.

“You’re really good,” Will says. 

Nico smiles. “Wanna know something else I’m good at?” Will nods. Nico brushes their noses together, drawing Will into a kiss. “Kissing.”

Will hums. “Yeah.” Nico laughs, kissing Will again. Will loses count of how many times they kiss after that. He’s laying back on the couch, Nico’s weight on top of him both heavy and comforting. It’s only when Nico kicks the coffee table, cursing, that he sits up.

“Would you want to see my room?” Nico asks. “No pressure, though.”

“Sure.” Nico quirks a smile, leading Will down the hall. Nico’s room is kind of messy. There are books and clothes on the floor, draped over his chair, filling his desk. His bed is pushed into a corner. It looks really comfortable.

“I don’t have people over,” Nico says. “And I haven’t been with anyone since you.”

“So the rumors aren’t true?” Will asks, genuinely curious.

Nico shuffles a bit, kicking a pair of jeans under his desk. “They are. I do hook-up a lot. But I haven’t since you. And when I did, I never brought them here. This was always a safe space,” Nico adds, a little quieter.

“Oh.” Nico nods. Will glances around the room again. He sees pictures of people he recognizes as Nico’s friends, someone he thinks must be Nico’s mom, pictures of cats. “Did you have a cat?”

Nico shakes his head. “No, they’re just really cute, you know?”

Will smiles. He can’t believe that this is Nico, that he trusts Will with this part of him. He’s not sure who steps forward first, but they’re kissing. It feels so natural now. Will can feel Nico’s hands on his body, running down his sides, up his back, into his hair. Nico lets out a breathy sound, kissing at Will’s neck.

The back of Will’s knees hit the bed, and he just collapses onto the soft mattress. It’s even better than he thought it’d be, and he’s not ashamed to say that he makes a snow-angel motion in the bed. Nico laughs, rolling his eyes as he lays next to Will.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he says.

“I want to,” Will says. “Do something, at least.”

Nico nods. “Tell me if you want to stop.” He moves slowly, settling back on top of Will. He shifts until he’s not right on top of Will’s bladder and stomach, pressing Will gently into the bed. It’s clear that Nico’s experienced, that he’s done this a lot. Will lets Nico lead, doing his best to reciprocate.

“Can I take your shirt off?” And then they’re both shirtless. Nico’s all smooth muscle and olive skin, a small freckle on the curve of his shoulder. Will leans forward and kisses it, evoking an amused eye roll from Nico. “It’s the only freckle I have, so I hope that’s not a deal-breaker.”

Will pretends to think. “I guess I have enough for both of us.”

Nico nips at his neck, and Will lets out a giggle. He’s forgotten that he’s ticklish, but it’s coming back now as Nico kisses down his stomach. They’re feather-light kisses, nothing pressuring. Nico’s hair brushes against his chest, and Will lets out a soft laugh. When Nico tries again, Will lets out a louder laugh, his legs trying to move to defend himself. Nico pauses, just smiling at him as Will tries to control himself.

“You’re adorable,” Nico whispers. He sits up a little, his hands splayed on Will’s chest. “So you’re ticklish.”

Will hums. “Don’t you dare!”

“Dare what? I’ll let you know I never back down from a dare, Solace.” Their eyes lock, and Will can’t tell if he wants to laugh or kiss Nico silly. “I’ll also let you know that I’m not ticklish, so no revenge.”

Will pouts, pulling Nico down so he can kiss him. Nico lets him lead for a few moments, Will trying to decide if Nico’s telling the truth. All he gets is an amused grin that he kisses right off of Nico’s face.

“Told you,” Nico smirks. Then he’s making his way down Will’s body again, testing which spots are sensitive and which are ticklish. Will does his best to keep his legs still so he doesn’t accidentally kick Nico in the stomach or groin.

It’s not until their lips are swollen and sore that they pause and rest. Will’s trying to catch his breath as he runs a hand through his hair. He’s laying on Nico’s shoulder (the non-freckled one), a little clingy after what just happened. It wasn’t anything remotely close to sex, but he feels like it was just as intimate. Will’s never laid in bed with another person like this before.

Will’s overcome with how domestic this whole night feels. Would he be ready for every night to feel like this? It’s not that he’s thinking of putting a ring on it anytime soon, but it’s tempting to just want this.

Later, after Nico’s made them hot chocolate and Will’s in some borrowed pajama pants, they lay snuggled in Nico’s bed. It’s soft and quiet, only the light of the moon giving any source of light. Nico’s playing with Will’s hair, and Will’s quickly added that to his mental list of things he wants Nico to do forever.

“This is probably not what you want to hear after tonight,” Nico starts, “but I kind of want to tell you anyway.” He pauses while Will tries to not get too anxious too soon.

“You can tell me,” he says softly.

“This whole thing with you scares me,” Nico says quietly. “Scares me because I’ve never felt like this before. And I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve always pretended to know how to have things together, but I don’t know how to pretend with you.”

“You scare me, too,” Will says after a moment.

“I wasn’t even sure this was a real thing those first couple of times.” He glances at Nico. “This is real, right?”

“Want me to pinch you?” Will wrinkles his nose. “It’s real, Solace. Will. Real and scary and kind of nice, too.”

Will blinks, shifting a little so he can face Nico properly. “Maybe it doesn’t have to be so scary?” Will asks.

It takes Nico a few moments to answer, and Will grants him the time. He’s trying to get his own thoughts in order. He hadn’t even noticed Nico until that night at the party, and then he couldn’t get Nico out of his head. It was like he’d been pulled towards Nico, for whatever reason. If Will thinks about it too hard, none of it makes sense. It doesn’t make sense that the two of them would find each other, would fall for each other. But they did. They are.

“Are we boyfriends?” Nico asks.

“Do you want to be?”

Nico nods. He traces a pattern onto Will’s cheek, smiling. “Yeah. I’d really like that.”

“Then let’s be boyfriends,” Will says. He wraps his arms around Nico, sighing. “You know you’re not so scary.”

“What? I’m the scariest,” Nico huffs.

“Yeah, as scary as a black cat.” Will grins, kissing Nico’s nose.

“Black cats can be scary.”

“Not when they’re sleepy. Then they’re just cute.”

“And handsome. And cuddly. If you’re going to compliment me, Solace, do it properly,” Nico mumbles. Will laughs, humming.

“Okay. But only if you start calling me Will.”

“Fine.” Nico gives Will a soft smile. “Kiss me, Will?”

And how can Will can no to that?

Chapter Text

Baby, you're all that I want

When you're lyin' here in my arms

I'm findin' it hard to believe

We're in heaven

— Heaven (Bryan Adams)

 

“How’s Herbert doing?” Nico asks.

Will grins. “He’s loving his new home. And Mama brought a present for him, too.”

“Your mom got a present for your fish?”

“Yup. She’s amazing like that.”

Nico nods. He’s supposed to be meeting Will’s mom today, and to say he’s nervous is an understatement. The whole thing happened last minute when Will’s mom made a surprise call to Will, saying that she was coming to visit next weekend. And then Will asked if Nico would like to meet her. And Nico couldn’t say no to him.

So now Naomi Solace is in town, and Nico’s going to be meeting her in twenty minutes. Nico spent almost an hour trying to find an outfit to wear. He’s not the kind of person who goes to brunch often, and he’s definitely not the kind of person people bring home to their parents. So this is completely new territory for Nico.

“She’s going to love you,” Will exclaims, kissing Nico’s cheek. “I’ve already told her everything about you, so you don’t have to worry about get-to-know-you questions.”

Nico nods. “Am I dressed okay?”

“It’s just breakfast at this place that Lou recommended. It’s nothing fancy, okay?” Will says. “You’re dressed perfectly. But you should wear your leather jacket, too.”

“So you can steal it again?”

Will blushes. “Not the entire reason. You also look insanely hot in it.”

Nico goes to grab his jacket, liking how Will’s smile grows as he slips it on. Will drives them to the breakfast place, kissing Nico before they get out of the car.

“Breathe. Relax. Think all the good thoughts you’ll tell me when I have to meet your dad,” Will says.

Nico snorts. “Honestly, I’d just tell you good luck.” Will pouts. “I’m just kidding. I’d hold your hand the whole way.”

“You’re not making me feel good about meeting your dad.”

Nico pats Will’s head. “I’ll make sure to prepare you well, okay?”

Will hums. “Well, you’re perfectly prepared to meet my mom. I promise. Oh, and you should mention that I can cook now.”

“You can cook one meal.”

“And now it’s time to go inside,” Will says. He kisses Nico again before getting out of the car. Nico squeezes Will’s hand as they head inside. He spots the blond lady at a circle table by the window almost immediately. She stands up, wrapping Will in a hug.

“Have you been eating enough since Christmas? They don’t give you long enough breaks.” She looks Will over before turning to Nico. “And you must be Nico. Do you like hugs?”

Nico nods. She wraps him in a hug, and Nico melts into it. It’s been so long since he’s had a hug from a mom. (He swears they’re different than ordinary hugs. Even hugs from Will, though those are close.)

“You can call me Naomi. It’s lovely to meet you. Will hasn’t shut up about you since New Years.”

They sit down, looking over the menu. Naomi catches Will up on everything happening with his siblings, her job, Will’s dad.

“I’m grateful only one of my children took after that scoundrel,” Naomi says fondly. “One of him is already hard to keep up with. Did I tell you that he almost bought a houseboat? We don’t even live near the water. Luckily, I caught him just as he was putting in the information.”

“Dad or Austin?” Will asks.

“Does it even matter?” Naomi laughs. “Dad. Austin’s still in Australia. I think.”

Nico’s having fun listening to what sounds like a home circus. He’s not sure he’d want to be a teacher after having so many kids running around at home all day. And he’s definitely sure he wouldn’t be able to handle that many siblings.

“Honestly, the kids at school can be a relief,” Naomi says. “After eight hours, I can send them home to their own families. But they’re all dears. Don’t regret a single bit of it.” She smiles, patting Will’s hand.

“I’m getting the pancakes,” Will says. “But with strawberries or chocolate?”

“That is the question,” Naomi says. “How about you, Nico?”

“The French toast?”

“I’m thinking of the crepes myself.”

After they order their food, Naomi starts asking Nico questions. Most of them are pretty easy to answer. He’s a history major, rides a motorcycle, would love to have a cat. (The only thing stopping him is that Jason’s allergic.) It seems that Will really has told her everything. She doesn’t seem at all surprised that they kissed on New Year’s or that Nico feels more comfortable in a leather jacket than a tie.

“It’s nice to hear that Will’s meeting people,” Naomi says. “And that he’s getting out of the library.”

“I don’t study that much,” Will protests.

“Yes, you do,” both Naomi and Nico say at the same time.

“Don’t forget that Lou Ellen also checks in with me,” Naomi says.

Will groans. “I don’t even want to know what she’s told you.” Nico’s not sure he does either. It’s pretty clear to him that Lou Ellen is very invested in his and Will’s relationship. “It’s probably not all true.”

“Lou Ellen is very informative,” Naomi says. “I think you two are very cute. And little Herbert.”

This sets Will off on a monologue about how much Herbert is liking his new home. Apparently, Naomi has brought him a little rock tunnel for him to play with, and he’s been swimming around it all morning. It’s very cute how much Will is gushing over the fish.

“And I read to him every night,” Will adds. “Mostly from my textbooks, but he doesn’t seem to mind.”

“I’m sure he loves learning about stuff he’ll never need to know,” Nico says.

Will sticks his tongue out, blushing when the waiter comes with their food.

“Sometimes learning is just fun for the heck of it,” Will says before shoving a bite of pancake into his mouth. “And Herbert loves to learn. He’s gonna be so smart.”

“Alright. Maybe he can help you study.” Will nods.

For a few minutes, everyone just eats. The French toast is amazing, and Nico will have to thank Lou Ellen for recommending it. He steals a few bites of pancake from Will, and Naomi lets him try her crepes. Honestly, it feels like a family breakfast, and Nico gets a little emotional just thinking about it. It’s been forever since he’s done anything remotely familial with his dad. (Not that his dad hasn’t tried. But it’s just so awkward.) But this feels so natural.

“You okay?” Will asks quietly when Naomi goes to the bathroom.

“Yeah, just kind of a lot.” He pauses. “She reminds me a lot of my mom. Thanks for convincing me to meet her.”

Will beams. “Of course. And I know she loves you, too.”

Nico leans in to kiss Will as Naomi comes back. He starts to pull away, but Will pecks his lips. Nico gives him a smile, going back to his French toast. The conversation stays light, and Nico finishes off his plate pretty quickly.

“Do you want to come over? I know Lou wants to see you.”

Naomi smiles. “I always love visiting my favorite child.”

“Hey!” Will pouts. Naomi smiles, kissing his forehead. They drive separately, and Nico takes the time to process everything. He really likes Will’s mom, really enjoyed meeting her. He wishes Will were able to meet his own mom. He knows that she’d have loved him.

“So, do I get to meet your dad?” Will asks.

“Sometime. But he’s not quite as easy to get along with as your mom is.” Will raises his eyebrows. “He’s just kind of awkward and formal. Like he’s better at running a business than parenting a child, but he’s trying. So I guess that counts for something.”

Will smiles. Lou Ellen’s laying on the couch with a bowl of cereal when they get to Will’s place. She sits up, looking disappointed when she doesn’t see Naomi. Will just rolls his eyes, pulling Nico over to where Herbert’s swimming. Nico smiles when he sees the fish swimming around in circles. It looks kind of boring, but he guesses Herbert likes it well enough.

“Mama!” Lou Ellen calls when Naomi gets there.

“How’s my favorite child?” Nico just kisses Will’s lips when he pouts.

“It’s not hard to be her favorite,” Lou Ellen says.

“You’re not even related to her!”

“Family is more than blood, Will,” she tsks. “You should know that.”

Will sighs, plopping on the couch. Nico moves Lou Ellen’s empty cereal bowl, cuddling beside Will. Naomi and Lou Ellen join them, talking about one of Lou’s classes. Nico plays with Will’s hair, just listening to the conversation. Family reunions are never like this with his own family. Even with Jason’s family. It’s always big and formal, and Nico feels like he has expectations to live up to.

Now he feels a little bad that Will’ll have to meet his dad one day.

“I have a late gift for you two,” Naomi says, breaking Nico from his thoughts.

“A gift for me?” he asks. Naomi nods. She hands him and Lou Ellen a wrapped package.

“It isn’t anything too much. Just a late present since Will forgot them when he visited.”

“You said they weren’t ready yet!” Will says. “And I barely knew Nico at Christmas.”

“For his birthday, then,” Naomi amends, smiling. Nico thinks he sees Lou Ellen wink.

Nico almost tears up when he looks at the dark purple scarf in his hands. It’s clear that Naomi knitted it herself, little patterns along the edges. Will wraps it gently around his neck, and Nico flushes.

“Thank you so much.”

Naomi nods. “Thank you for taking care of Will.”

Nico feels so emotional now, running his fingers over the soft wool. He leans over, hugging Naomi. She rubs her hands down his back, humming. Nico sniffles, trying to pull away in the least embarrassing way possible. Lou Ellen’s also got a scarf, but hers is orange.

“You’re all my favorite children, you know,” Naomi says, smiling.

It’s not until Naomi’s left and Lou Ellen’s gone out that Nico curls up in Will’s arms. He feels tired from the day’s events but in a good way. Will kisses his hair, humming some song that sounds like a lullaby. It’s calming and comforting in a way that Nico never really imagined possible.

“I think you’re one of my favorite people,” Nico mumbles.

“Yeah?”

“Even though you can’t cook or sing,” he says, pausing, “I love you.”

Will’s humming cuts off abruptly, and then he feels Will’s breath hitch. “I love you, too. Gods, now I’m crying.” Nico shifts to kiss Will’s cheeks, smiling as his own tears start to flow. Gods, they’re both emotional messes now, and Nico can’t believe that Will’s gone and made him such a sap. He’s like a real person now with real feelings. Reyna will be so pleased.

“I’m going to ignore your insult to my singing. Does this mean I have to meet your dad now?” Will asks.

“If you want to. He won’t bring you any presents for Herbert, though.”

“I can live with that. I don’t want Herbert to get too spoiled anyway.”

Nico rolls his eyes. He’s not going to debate with Will whether or not a fish can become spoiled.

“Hey, Nico?”

“Yes, Will?”

Nico doesn’t miss the silly grin on Will’s face when he says his name. “Will you stay the night?”

Maybe a few weeks ago that would have freaked Nico out, but now he just smiles. “I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

We are still kids, but we're so in love

Fighting against all odds

I know we'll be alright this time

Darling, just hold my hand

— Perfect (Ed Sheeran)

 

“Relax,” Nico says. “The only reason you stand out is that you’re much more handsome than anyone else here.”

Will gives Nico a smile. When Nico had said that his dad had invited him to a gala, he wasn’t sure what that was supposed to look like. Now that he’s actually seeing what a gala is (in real-time), he’s very glad that he listened to Nico’s advice on what to wear. Most of the men here seemed like the type to own a tuxedo (not that Will is judging), and the women were all very fashionable in long gowns and swept-up hair. Honestly, Will kind of feels like he’s in a movie.

“I would be insulted if you thought differently,” Will mumbles. “Everyone else here is probably at least thirty years older than us.”

Nico laughs, attracting a lady’s glare. He ignores her, leaning closer to Will. “Want to find some food? I can hear your stomach growling.”

Nico had told him that dinner would be served, so Will hadn’t eaten anything beforehand. In retrospect, he should have. It was almost seven-thirty, and they were just putting out the food. So far, Will hasn’t actually met Nico’s dad. He’s seen him across the room, always looking neutrally at whomever he was speaking to.

“So is your dad going to hate me?” Will asks.

“He’s not allowed to hate you,” Nico says. “I think you’re amazing and very cute, and he’s now allowed to say otherwise.”

“I don’t think that’s how-“

“It’s going to be fine, Will,” Nico says, pecking Will’s cheek. Will hopes no one is watching them. It’s not that he’s embarrassed, but he knows that they already stand out. Honestly, Will can’t even remember the last time he had to put o a suit. It might have been for a cousin’s wedding or something.

They find their assigned seats, laying their jackets over the backs. Will follows Nico, making sure that he doesn’t mess anything up. He’s not sure how they ended up getting invited (their invitations had come in the mail last week), but he doesn’t want to make a fool of himself.

“After this, there’s going to be dancing,” Nico says.

“How many of these things have you been to?”

Nico sighs. “Too many. But they’re a lot better with you. Honestly, I just think that he keeps inviting me because he’s not sure how to not invite me if that makes any sense. We’re not really all that close like your mom and you.”

“I noticed,” Will says. He’s feeling very formal, and he’s not quite liking that. While he didn’t grow up in a barn, he definitely doesn’t have refined manners like these people do. He’d already unfolded his napkin in his lap, only to watch a waiter do just that same thing to a lady nearby.

“Ignore them,” Nico says, reading Will’s thoughts. “They’re just missing their younger days. Probably wishing they could spend them like we do.”

“Drowning in piles of homework?”

Nico snorts. “Having wildly hot sex,” he whispers.

Will can feel his cheeks heat up, and Nico almost bursts out laughing. “I must be missing something if that’s how you spend your days.”

Nico rolls his eyes, patting Will’s hand. “Maybe one day, sunshine.”

Will’s kind of surprised how comfortable Nico seems in this atmosphere, but he supposes that Nico probably grew up in this environment. It’s hard to believe that people like this raised someone like Nico. He’s heard Nico burp. He’s not sure these people are even capable of burping.

“You know, when you asked if I would be open to a date night out, I kind of thought you meant the movies or something. I wasn’t really expecting this.”

“Scared you won’t be able to top it, handsome?” Nico asks.

Will sticks out his tongue before thinking better of it. He gets a strange look from a man passing by. “No. Just you wait. I will have the best idea for our next date night.”

“Oh, I can’t wait to hear it,” Nico says.

A waiter comes by with their first course, and Will doesn’t even wait to read the card that explains what it is. He’s so hungry, and the food smells absolutely amazing. Maybe this is why Nico comes to these things. Or maybe everything tastes good compared to microwave food, Nico’s voice in his head says.

“Good, isn’t it?” Nico asks. Will hums.

It’s not until Will’s just started his second course that Nico’s dad joins them. They’re at a relatively small table. It’s clear that this is on purpose. The two seats beside Will have been empty all night, but Will’s not really upset. If anything, he’d rather that they stay empty for the rest of the night.

“I’m afraid that Mr. and Mrs. Jenson will not be able to make it tonight,” Mr. di Angelo says. “I heard their son came down with a bad case of the flu, and they didn’t want to risk sharing.”

Nico nods. “That’s wise. Dad, this is Will Solace, my boyfriend.”

Mr. di Angelo stands, so Will takes his cues. He proceeds to shake hands and almost stick his elbow into his pasta as he sits down. Nico squeezes his hand under the table.

“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” Will says.

“Likewise, Mr. Solace. Nico’s told me good things about you.” Will smiles. He’s not sure what he’s supposed to say next. What did people in movies always say when they were in this situation? Was that even an appropriate reference to use? “Nico’s told me that you want to be a doctor?”

Will nods. “Yes, sir. Pediatrics is the goal.”

Mr. di Angelo nods. “I assume you’ll want to intern locally? I’d be very happy to provide some contacts for you, talk to some people who might be interested in letting you shadow them.”

“That’d be amazing, sir. Thank you.”

Will doesn’t know what to say after that, and it looks like Mr. di Angelo’s in the same boat. Nico clears his throat.

“Do you have to make any speeches tonight?” he asks.

Mr. di Angelo shakes his head. “Thankfully, no.” He turns to Will. “Tonight’s gala is being hosted by this charity organization that specializes in providing resources for underprivileged children. Personally, I think that this whole evening is a bit much, but I’m not in charge of these things. They just want my money.”

“Dad doesn’t like it when they try to guilt money out of people,” Nico says.

“It does kind of seem like the money could have gone elsewhere,” Will says slowly. Mr. di Angelo nods.

“But please feel free to enjoy yourself. There will probably be dancing later. And there is still dessert. If you’ll excuse me, I must go talk to Mr. Barron.” He stands, giving Will a small smile. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Solace. Hopefully, we’ll see each other again.”

Will blinks, looking at Nico. “Is that it?”

Nico nods. “Pretty much. See? Nothing to worry about.” Will kind of wants to sag into his chair in relief. That wasn’t as bad as he’d been thinking, but it was still not what he was comfortable with. “Don’t take it personally that he didn’t ask too much. I’ve already told him most of the bases, and he doesn’t really care as long as I’m happy.”

Nico smiles, kissing Will’s cheek. “And I’m very happy, Will.”

“Me, too.” Will grins. “This pasta makes it all worth it.”

Nico rolls his eyes. “Wait until you taste the dessert.”

They joke back and forth, happy to have the table to themselves. Will feels himself relaxing more as the night goes on. No one really comes up to them, so Will can have Nico to himself. Every now and then, he catches Mr. di Angelo glancing at them. It kind of reminds him of his mom when they’d go to birthday parties or the park. Even though she usually did her own thing, she always made sure to check on him periodically.

“You want to dance? They won’t serve dessert for a bit.”

“Would it surprise you to know that I can’t dance?” Will asks.

Nico grins. “Not really. You are kind of clumsy.”

“Am not!”

“Will, you tripped over the coffee table yesterday.”

“I was sleepy.”

“It’s okay. I can teach you.”

They find a spot near the back. There’s live music, and the speeches are over. Everyone’s toasted to helping underprivileged children, and Will’s somehow made it through that plate of excellent pasta. Nico shows him where his hands are supposed to be, how to position their feet.

“I’ll lead. You follow.”

Will does his best to mirror Nico’s steps, but he gets a little lost in his thoughts. He can just imagine a little Nico in dance lessons, counting under his breath as he tries to memorize the steps. The thought is so cute that he forgets for a moment where he is. He doesn’t realize Nico’s stopped moving until he steps on Nico’s foot.

“What’s that smile for?” Nico asks. “You just stepped on my foot.”

“Want me to kiss it better?” Nico wrinkles his nose. “I was just thinking of how cute you are.”

“You’re the cute one, Will.”

“I just like learning new things about you. Like the fact that you can dance!”

“Is it also supposed to be cute that you can’t dance?”

“You just said I was cute. It’s not conditional. In fact, it should make me cuter.”

Nico shakes his head. “Your logic makes no sense.”

“Basically, I’m very cute,” Will says. He’s probably blushing, but giving himself compliments is something new to him. He’s always had perfectly normal self-esteem, but this feels different.

“You’re very handsome, too,” Nico says. He pulls them a little closer, swaying a little. It feels like something out of a movie, and Will would laugh if it didn’t feel so darn romantic. (Maybe this was one thing that the movies got right?) If he leans in just a little, he could kiss Nico. But it’s nice to just sway together, the music surrounding them.

“Sorry my dad didn’t bring any presents for you,” Nico says.

“He did offer to help me find an internship,” Will points out. “So that’s basically a gift.”

“That’s true. I hope you don’t think he’s overstepping.”

“It’s okay, Nico. I can get a little help. As long as he doesn’t pay for me to have a job or something.”

Nico smiles. “He wouldn’t do that. You probably did your research, but he built his own business. So he knows what it’s like to work hard for something. And he preaches about it if you just ask him.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” Will says.

“As in don’t do that. I’ve had that lecture enough times.”

Will smiles. “So how long until they bring dessert out? I hope you’re not just joking about it.”

“Would I ever lie to you?” Nico looks around the room. “It should be out any minute.”

They make it back to their tables just as the waiters come out from the kitchen. Nico rolls his eyes when he sees Will scanning the room.

“Is this tiramisu going to replace me?” Nico asks.

“Never, baby. But it’s going to be forever before I can afford to eat this amazing of a meal again.”

“Don’t you insult my cooking like that,” Nico huffs. “Anything tastes amazing when you don’t microwave it.”

Will kisses his cheek. “Of course, darling.”

“What’s with all the pet names?”

Will shrugs. “Don’t know. I guess I’m just trying them out. Like them?”

“I’ll get back to you on that.”

It turns out that the tiramisu is very delicious, and Will almost wishes that the Jenson’s were here so he could maybe get their serving. As it is, Mr. di Angelo lets them take home his portion that Will carefully carries to the car. Nico watches him with eyebrows raised as he places it carefully on the floor so he won’t crush it.

“So tonight wasn’t that bad?” Nico asks.

Will shakes his head. “No, it was wonderful. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve got tiramisu.”

Nico smiles, kissing Will’s lips. “Good.”

“I love you more than tiramisu, sweetheart,” Will says.

“I hate that that’s one of the sweetest things you’ve said to me,” Nico pouts. Will laughs. He’s not sure Nico’s statement is true, but it doesn’t really matter. They have time to make more memories. And, not to pat himself on the back, but Will thinks it’s pretty romantic anyway.

“I’ll even split it with you,” Will says after a moment.

“But we can’t let Jason or Piper see it, okay?”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

We'll be living out where the river bends

Where the grass gets green and the highway ends

Livin' easy where it's you and me baby and the daffodils

Kids growing up in the rolling hills

And love will be enough for us

— Love Will Be Enough for Us (Brandon Heath)

 

Nico’s kind of nervous. He’s never really been one for big gestures, but he thinks that Will deserves one. After all, this weekend will mark their four-month anniversary. Nico’s not sure Will’s one for anniversaries, but he knows by now that Will’s a sucker for romantic gestures. Just last weekend, Will almost teared up when Nico had given him an old sweatshirt of his just because he knew it was Will’s favorite.

And it’s not like Nico’s really going all out, but he’s been planning this for at least a week. He just hopes Will likes it.

“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Reyna says, eyebrows raised already.

“We’ve been busy,” Nico says. Between midterms and trying to spend as much time as possible together, they had kind of forgotten their weekly (if not more daily) excursions to get tea and muffins.

“We?” Reyna asks.

Nico can’t help the smile that crosses his face at the thought of Will. Over the last few months, dating Will has gotten more and less scary. Less scary because he’s no longer as afraid of his feelings. More scary because he’s still trying to figure out how one man can make him feel so much.

“Will and I,” Nico says. Reyna smiles.

“I knew it. Is that why you ordered a dozen blueberry muffins and a thermos of tea?” She pauses. “Are you guys too good now to grace us with your presence? I know I don’t say it, but I do like seeing you.”

Nico rolls his eyes. “We’re going to the beach,” he says. “I’m planning a little picnic.”

“Of muffins and tea. How romantic. Who knew Nico di Angelo could be such a sweetheart.”

“Don’t forget I know secrets about you, too,” Nico huffs.

Reyna just shrugs. “It’s nice to see you happy, Nico.” She hands him his food. “Don’t forget to say hi sometime next week.”

“Yeah, yeah. Love you, too, Reyna.” He catches her flipping him off, but she’s still smiling.

Will’s instantly curious about where they’re going, but Nico doesn’t spill the surprise. It doesn’t take much convincing to get Will onto his motorcycle after he’s secured the food and drinks. He takes the back roads again because it’s more romantic, and he trusts the insulated thermos to keep the tea warm. (And hopefully the muffins, too.)

“The beach?” Will asks. “What’s in the bag?”

Nico finds Will’s confusion adorable, so he delays answering for a bit longer as they make their way down to the sand. He lays out a blanket (a poor attempt to keep the sand off of them). Will sits down, seeming like he’s having trouble deciding where he wants to look. His gaze wanders from the horizon to Nico to the water.

“Hey,” Nico says softly. Will turns to him, a smile on his face. “So I thought we’d have a little picnic.”

“What’s in the bag?”

“So impatient,” Nico teases.

Will leans against his side. “Maybe I’m just hungry.”

Nico rolls his eyes, taking out a couple of muffins. Will grins, taking a bite. Nico’s happily surprised to note that the muffins are still warm. He carefully pours the tea, making a little ditch in the sand to keep the cup from spilling. Will’s still smiling at him.

“Happy anniversary, sunshine.”

Will’s eyes widen in surprise, and he looks like he’s about to cry as he hugs Nico. “You’re so amazing.”

“You completely forgot, didn’t you?” Nico asks, laughing.

“I did not. I just didn’t know we were doing this.”

“I don’t think we have to celebrate every month, but I wanted to do something nice. And as a celebration for getting through midterms.”

Will looks he doesn’t know what to say. Nico leans forward, kissing Will’s nose.

“I don’t know why you never dated. You could have wooed anyone.”

“Maybe I just needed the right person,” Nico says softly. It still scares him how much he loves Will, how fast and far he’s fallen in just a few short months. It doesn’t feel real, and he’s sure this is still the honeymoon phase, but he doesn’t care. Will’s worth any hardship they’ll have to face.

“I think so,” Will says. “I didn’t think it was going to be you.”

Nico laughs, bumping their noses together. “I think Reyna’s the only one who saw it coming.”

“The barista?” Nico hums. “Well, we should definitely thank her.”

“She pretty much demanded we come in next week, so we can do that.” Will nods. “But enough about Reyna. This is our anniversary.”

They take turns drinking tea, and they only make it through about five of the muffins before they’re both full. The sun has set, and Will’s cuddled up in Nico’s jacket. It’s finally starting to get warmer during the day, but nights were still chilly. Not that Nico minds. It’s a perfect excuse for cuddling.

“We’re gonna get all sandy,” Will mumbles as he rolls closer to Nico. He’s getting sleepy, and Nico knows they should head back soon. But he doesn’t want to yet. And Will’s certainly not moving.

“You weren’t complaining when you laid down,” Nico says.

Will huffs. “Because I thought you were gonna hold me.”

“I am holding you, sunshine.”

Will nudges him with his nose, and Nico just smiles. He shifts a little, wrapping his arms around Will. Will hums, yawning.

“That’s better.” He’s so adorable, and Nico just has to kiss him. They don’t kiss long because Will’s tired, and Nico’s pretty content to cuddle. Nico can’t see the stars from here, but he pretends he can. There’s something almost romantic about airplanes if he doesn’t think too hard about it. He remembers his mom telling him to wish on falling stars.

“Do you ever think about the future?”

“You’re in it,” Will says. His breath is warm against Nico’s cheek.

“Yeah?”

Will hums. “Yeah.”

“You know, I was going to have pizza instead of muffins. Like our first meeting. But I wasn’t sure if that was too cheesy. Also, take out pizza is kind of gross.”

“Cheesy pizza is the best,” Will says. He shifts a little, so he can look Nico in the eyes. “Did you like me then? Or were you really trying to get out of the party?”

“I liked you then. I just didn’t want to admit it,” Nico says after a few moments. “You?”

Will laughs. “I had no idea who you were, but I couldn’t get you out of my head after that.”

“It really is true, then. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

Eventually, they do get up, dusting the sand from their clothes and hair. The night is quiet, and Nico can’t believe that this is his life now. He gets to hold Will’s hand and kiss his lips and bring him muffins and tea.

“Do you ever think about us getting old?” Will asks as they load up Nico’s motorcycle.

“Like if I’ll have grey hair, you mean?”

“Well, yeah. But also how much we’ll remember about now and everything between?” Nico pauses in strapping down the muffins, turning to Will. He’s got his motorcycle helmet on, obscuring those beautiful curls. (Not that it makes him any less attractive.) They probably look like quite a pair with their helmets and muffins.

“I think that even if I lost my memory, I’d still remember you.”

“You’d forget everything but me?” Will asks, knocking their helmets gently together.

Nico leans in and kisses Will’s lips. “Everything but you, handsome.”