Will was jealous of Percy Jackson.
It was an alarming discovery. Will knew he was Nico’s first crush, and that it took Nico a long time to get over him. Will could see why. He was kind and funny. Not to mention the most talented demigod of their generation. His sword skills were on par with Nico’s, which was why one of the first things Percy did when he got to camp was ask Nico for a spar.
“I’ve been spending all my time studying, man. I’m gonna get rusty if I don’t do something about it.” As they headed off to the training grounds, Will made a lame excuse to follow them in case either idiot injured themselves or each other.
Percy didn’t seem rusty by any means, handling his sword like it was an extension of his arm. He parried Nico’s quick blows with ease, and countered with some of his own. Nico’s style was quick and precise, but for what Percy lacked in form, he made up for in unpredictability and ingenuity. Their spar looked more like a dance than a fight. By the end, both of them were sweating, covered in bruises and mud.
Percy grinned. Nico smiled. Percy draped an arm over Nico’s shoulders as he leaned in to say something. Nico laughed.
Will frowned and pushed to his feet. He headed over to the two, making sure a smile was plastered on his face by the time Nico glanced in his direction.
“No injuries?” He said it to both of them, but was really only asking Nico. If Percy was a little hurt, he could jump in the lake.
“Nothing too bad.” Nico’s voice was breathy from exertion. “A couple cuts. Not deep.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
Nico squirmed as Will inspected him. There wasn’t anything bad, just like he said. Still, he took a minute to run his hands over a particularly nasty bruise already darkening on Nico’s arm. It definitely wasn’t a quick way to display his own talents.
Nico sighed and rolled his eyes. He glanced towards Percy, causing Will to do so as well. Percy was staring at them with wide eyes and a steadily growing grin.
Nico sighed again. “Don’t even start,” he muttered.
“I didn’t say anything.” But Percy’s grin spoke for him.
“But since you did ask,” Percy said.
“You’re absolutely adorable together.” Then, Percy’s expression immediately dropped and his eyes widened. “I mean – uh – you are together, right?”
They’d been together for about a month, and danced around each other for a couple before that. They hadn’t really told too many people. A couple of Will’s siblings knew, and Nico told Jason, Reyna and his sister. It wasn’t really a secret. But still, Will glanced down towards Nico and let him take the lead. Percy was his friend and it was Nico’s choice to tell him.
“Yeah,” Nico smiled.
It was getting close to dinner, so nearly everyone was gone. Only Clarisse was by the weapon racks, putting everything away for the day. With her back turned, Will was confident enough to wrap an arm around Nico’s waist and kiss his cheek.
Nico huffed. “Ugh. Gross. I’m all sweaty.” He squirmed out of Will’s grasp, smiling the whole time. “I’m going to shower. See you at dinner.”
Once he was out of earshot, Percy leaned in. “So, that’s why he was showing off the whole time.”
Will’s eyebrows rose. “He was showing off?”
Percy laughed. “Yeah. He was busting out all his cool and fancy moves. Kept wanting to get in a position where he could see your reactions too.”
Will felt like an idiot for not noticing. He was too busy being jealous for him to appreciate all the work Nico put into impressing him. He’d have to pay him the appropriate complements later. When they were alone.
“How is he?” Percy’s expression sobered. “It’s been a while since we’ve talked. Him and Annabeth too.”
“He’s okay. Ups and downs, as I’m sure you know.” Nico wasn’t the only one who went to Tartarus. “If he gets bad again, I’ll make sure he calls you.” It had been well over a month since then, and Will hoped he would never have to see Nico in so much pain ever again. He never felt so helpless.
“Yeah, thanks.” Percy dusted himself off. “You seem like a good guy, Will.”
“So, you’re not going to threaten me with severe bodily harm?”
“Eh.” Percy grinned and wiggled his hand back and forth. “Remains to be seen. But he seems to like you, so I do by extension.”
“Wow, I feel so honoured.”
Percy snorted and punched his shoulder. “Look after him, all right?”
“I plan on it.”
After Percy said his farewells, Will headed off to dinner. They were serving barbecue with fresh rolls and fruit. Nico was already at the Apollo table, conversing quietly with Kayla between bites. Will slid into the seat beside Nico and snagged one of his butter rolls. He grinned at Nico’s look of offense.
“Hey, Sunshine.” Will leaned in close so that even Kayla couldn’t hear him. “Care to show me some moves after dinner? I’d like to look even fractionally as good with a sword as you do.”
Nico’s cheeks reddened, but he didn’t drop his gaze from Will’s. “Okay, but you better be ready to work hard.” He kicked Will’s leg under the table. “Go get your own food and stop stealing mine. You’re going to need energy.”
Will grinned. When he got his food, he made a big show of returning Nico’s stolen butter roll. Nico just rolled his eyes at him.
After dinner, they walked to the Hades cabin together. Will managed to prompt Nico enough that he chattered away about various fight styles and sword techniques from different eras. Most people thought Nico was a quiet guy, but he could talk for hours about his interests if you knew how to get him going.
Nico noticed Will’s dreamy expression and glared. “Are you listening?”
“Of course.” Since they were in the grove of trees behind Nico’s cabin and away from prying eyes, he took Nico’s hand. “You were talking about your fencing instructor.” She was Spanish woman from the 1400’s and was very strict.
“Well, I think it would be a good style for you, since you seem to have trouble with the heavier swords.” Nico reached into the shadows of one of the trees. The shadows changed form, curling around Nico’s arm like flames. He pulled a sword from the depths. It wasn’t celestial bronze or stygian iron. Instead, it looked like iron and was a little rusty. “I know Clarisse has a couple tucked away at the armoury, so if you like it, we can talk to her tomorrow.”
Nico handed it to Will. It fit comfortably in his hand. Nico adjust his grip wordlessly and poked him in the back until he fixed his posture. Then he showed him some beginner techniques. As much as Will was interested in learning and training with Nico, he was also very distracted by him.
Nico scowled and flushed. “Pay attention.”
Will rested his chin on his palm as he watched Nico display the technique properly. “Oh, I’m paying attention plenty.”