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When Percy falls forward face-down on Piper’s bed, she doesn’t even look up from her novel. It’s a habit she must have picked up from Annabeth, because no matter how many distressed noises Percy makes, Piper is entirely unbothered until she reaches the bottom of the page. Then, thankfully, she makes a fold in the page – a habit that Percy is sure drives Annabeth insane – and closes the book to look down at Percy.

“What did you do?” She asks, amused smile curling the corners of her lips upward. If most times it didn’t end up being the truth, Percy might be offended that Piper’s first guesses always have something to do with him fucking things up.

“Remember that first year I told you about?” Piper rolls her eyes before Percy even gets to the point, but nevertheless gestures for him to go on. He turns onto his side, stupid smile on his face, and props himself up on one arm.

“He’s… he’s going to be the end of me Pipes.” It doesn’t sound quite as exasperated as Percy had meant for it to come out. Instead, he mostly sounds like a love-struck teenager. “Today, he was wearing this huge sweater. I mean in September? It’s not even cold yet.” Piper makes a gesture with her hand as if to say: get to the point. Percy huffs a laugh.

“It gave him paws, Piper. Sweater paws! Why does he have to do this to me? I can’t handle this kind of cute.” When Percy tries to mimic it by flopping his arms around, all it does is make him look terribly ridiculous (given that he is wearing a t-shirt) and almost sends him falling off the bed.  Piper clearly tries to hold back a laugh and shakes her head.

“I don’t get why you haven’t made a move on him yet instead of whining to me every second day.” She crosses her arms over her chest, the book forgotten on the covers next to her. “You normally don’t have any problems seducing someone.”

Percy winces, that’s still a sensitive topic between them. They are past it, officially so, but Percy is quite sure that Piper won’t ever let him live it down that he slept with her boyfriend when they still were together. Granted, Percy didn’t know Piper was seeing the guy, but even now he still feels shitty for what had happened last year.

“I don’t know how.” He whines eventually, flopping down again and burying his face in the sheets. His voice is muffled, but that sure doesn’t stop him from speaking. “I mean, what do I do? I don’t want into his pants, Piper, I want into his heart.” And wow, even for Percy that line is painfully cheesy. Piper visibly cringes, then laughs when Percy pouts at her reaction.

Getting into someone’s pants is easy, always has been for Percy because in the end, there’s not much to lose… but with Nico, things are different. Percy isn’t going to risk his romantic chances just because Nico gives him a crisis at least once a week – the reason being mostly Nico’s ridiculously tight jeans and his overall, irresistible cuteness. Percy is reluctant to admit it, but he does imagine kissing him a lot… It’s been a while since Percy had it that bad for anyone.

Piper gives him a look when she realises he isn’t actually listening to her and Percy smiles apologetically. He knows he can be a handful sometimes and maybe, it’s a bit strange to ask the new girlfriend of his ex for love life advice (especially after that incident a year ago) but Percy likes Piper and he trusts her and she always has been good with this kind of stuff.

“Just get over it and ask him out for coffee, Percy.” Piper repeats, exasperation now clear in her voice. Her smile is fond, but Percy knows he probably shouldn’t push it. “I bet by now even your professor has noticed you’re carrying a torch for him.”


 

“No.”

Percy stares, blinks, and then blushes in embarrassment. Nico looks completely disinterested and Percy regrets even having walked up to him. This morning, Percy actually tried making himself presentable, brushing his always mussed hair, all to walk up to Nico after class, ask him out and get the simplest, yet worst answer in response.

Of course it couldn’t have been as easy as that, Percy already wants to scold himself for being hopeful too soon. Things have never been that simple before, Percy doesn’t know what made him thing they would be now and with his luck, he fell for a straight guy again anyway.

Nevertheless, Percy waits until Nico stuffs the last of his books into his back. He scratches the back of his neck awkwardly, trying to think of something to say that might make things better, but all Nico does as soon as he’s ready to go is look up at Percy like he’s trying to say ‘What are you still doing here?’

“The coffee on campus is terrible.” Nico’s expression doesn’t waver and maybe it’s more a perfected resting poker-face than a lack of interest that makes Nico stare at Percy like he doesn’t know what to do with him. “Invite me to see a movie instead and I’ll think about it.”

When relief washes over Percy’s features, it almost looks like Nico is holding back a smile - almost.

“Yeah? Great! I love movies. I can give you my number and we can… set up a date?” Percy bites his lower lip and meets Nico’s eyes with the shyest smile he can manage. While he manage to keep the hopefulness out of his voice, he sure as hell tries to sell himself as good as possible. This time, Nico’s lips really do twitch a little.


 

Nico texts Percy even before he has reached his apartment building. When the mobile buzzes in his pants, Percy heart skips a beat. He so excited to see if it is in fact Nico that he almost drops his mobile twice.

Sorry if I was rude. You surprised me. – Nico

A goofy grin spreads on Percy’s face and he adjusts the strap of his backpack over his shoulder. Without looking where he’s walking, Percy quickly saves Nico’s number before texting him back.

sorry about that, I was kind of nervous.

The walk to his dorm isn’t far and at the very least, it distracts Percy from staring at the screen of his mobile and waiting for it to light up with an incoming message. No wonder Piper keeps teasing him, he’s really acting like an idiot. Nico’s answer comes quickly, maybe because Percy hasn’t bothered waiting before sending his own reply before.

so… are you sure about asking me out?

yeah. been meaning to for a while.

hm. there’s a party in my block tonight, want to go? no need to wait for a movie

Percy bites his lip, considering while he unlocks the main door. It’s just a party, maybe easier to get closer than during a movie in a dark cinema with a thousand expectations Percy isn’t sure Nico wants him to meet. That and parties offer the perfect excuse to stand a little closer for talking, or to go somewhere private to escape the noise.

sure. text me where and when to pick you up?


 

“I thought you didn’t want into his pants?” Piper asks and cocks her head to the side, shaking it when Percy shows her the shirt he just picked off a hanger. She points for Percy to take one out on the far left, then nods approvingly when he holds it to his chest.

“I don’t. I mean, it would be added bonus, but you know.” Percy shrugs and turns away from the mirror to look at Piper again, sitting with her arms crossed over her chest and her back against the headboard on Percy’s bed. . For once, it’s her visiting him and not the other way around… then again he bribed her with a promise of video games before he left to pick Nico up.

“I’d rather wait with the sex actually, or it ends up being just about that.”

Piper hums her agreement like she could share one or two experiences of her own about that, but Percy decides it’s better if he doesn’t ask.

“I’m just saying, you usually invite people to parties when you want to get it on with them. I mean, that’s what I do.” Percy raises an eyebrow at Piper’s comment, not sure if it was just a bad choice of words or if she meant it like she made it sound. He doesn’t understand the dynamics of hers and Annabeth’s relationship, and frankly Percy isn’t sure if he wants to. As long as it works for the two of them, it’s none of his business anyway.

“Nico invited me, actually.” Percy admits and when Piper gives him a look instead of a verbal answer, a faint blush tints his cheeks pink. Percy’s not sure whether, according to Piper’s logic, it still means Nico wants nothing but to sleep with him, but once the thought enters his mind it’s hard to get it out again. It’s not like Percy has never considered the possibility before after all.


 

Thanks to Piper’s help, Percy feels actually quite good about his looks by the time he reaches Nico’s building. Nico texted him the number earlier, as well as the time, but Percy still ends up being a little earlier. He lingers in the corridor, walking way slower than anyone can defend as being reasonable.

It doesn’t quite work out like Percy planned though, because when he’s about halfway down the corridor, the door he had suspected to be Nico’s opens and a tall blond guy steps out. Percy swallows, recognizing the face even from this far away… just his kind of luck.

“Percy.” Jason smiles at him sheepishly when he spots him and Percy thinks of a possible excuse to get out of the conversation undoubtedly coming now.

“Jason, hey. How’s it going,...man?” He tries for casual, which pretty much just makes him sound lame. Jason doesn’t seem to mind though, he grins and leans against the wall in front of Percy, effectively blocking him from just sneaking away.

“Pretty good, I guess.” Jason shoves his hands deep into his pockets when he talks, then draws his lip between his teeth in the way Percy remembers having made him weak last year. “You… uh, are you going to this party tonight?”

Of course, Jason has to be blushing then, just like a schoolboy talking to his crush. Percy decides he’d rather not think about how much truth there is to it.

“I’m going with Nico, actually.” As if on cue, Nico’s door opens again. Percy only catches a glimpse of him past Jason’s broad frame – pale shoulders and a hickey at the base of his neck that’s not hidden in the slightest by the loose tank top Nico is wearing. Percy has to bite the inside of his cheek to bite back his sudden jealousy. “And I’m supposed to pick him up now. See you around, Jace.”

The nickname slips without meaning to and Percy cringes inwardly when Jason beams at him in response. When Percy manages to squeeze past Jason, it’s only to see Nico looking at them with a hint of amusement on his face.

“Let me guess.” He says quietly, his voice a little rougher than Percy is used to hearing it. “You two had a thing?”


 

The party isn’t big, but the rooms small and therefore still quite crowded. Nico is more at ease than Percy has ever seen him in class, and in a way Percy finds himself enjoying to get to know that side of Nico. They talk – in corners or sitting on the backrest of a sofa, wherever they find a space big and quiet enough, really. Percy learns about all the things he could only guess so far, and he isn’t shy to answer any of the questions Nico has for him.

They drink together, Nico more so than Percy, and as the night goes on, they dance. Piper is right, normally this would be the perfect setting to get Nico to come home with him at the end of it. The people sway around them, forcing them closer together, but Nico doesn’t seem to mind at all. He winds his arms around Percy’s neck, speaks and laughs right into Percy’s skin and sends shivers all the way down Percy’s spine.

“How come…” Nico starts, then giggles and Percy can feel Nico’s tongue against his jaw when Nico licks his lips. “How come you ask me out when you can have someone like Jason in your bed instead?”

Percy isn’t sure how to answer that. His arms rest lightly on the small of Nico’s back and his head feels a little dizzy – whether it’s Nico or the alcohol having this effect on him, Percy doesn’t know.

“I…” Percy trails off when Nico suddenly presses closer to him, shell-shocked until he realises Nico just made room for someone to pass through the crowd behind them. Nevertheless, Nico doesn’t back away again, and Percy finds it hard to breathe. “I don’t want Jason in my bed.”

“Not your type?” Shaking his head, Percy huffs a small laugh at that question. Jason is definitely his type, which maybe has always been part of the problem. He used to be so ridiculously attracted to the man that a year ago, he didn’t pause to think that he might not be the only one.

“Long story. I asked you out because I wanted you since you first walked into our lecture hall.” With his thoughts foggy, Percy doesn’t realise that maybe, he is in fact coming on a little strong. But Nico doesn’t seem to mind, he’s looking up at Percy with red-bitten lips like he’s set on driving the last bit of sense out of Percy’s head tonight.

“You can have me.” All of a sudden, Nico’s closer again. Percy feels Nico’s soft lips press to the curve of jaw, feels Nico’s fingers play and tug at the hair at the back of his neck. If there was any doubt as to what Nico wanted, it was gone as soon as Nico rolled their hips together and let Percy feel him through their jeans. The change in Nico’s behaviour shouldn’t have taken Percy by surprise, but for a few moments, he i too stunned to react nevertheless.

I’m just saying, you usually invite people to parties when you want to get it on with them. Piper’s words ring in Percy’s ears along with the loud thump of his heartbeat. One of Nico’s hands has found its way under Percy’s shirt and his lips are still busy pressing very insistent kisses everywhere – this time down Percy’s neck.

“My room’s right here. Come with me, Percy.” Nico giggles again, his words slur just a bit. Percy remembers the hickey, remembers Jason coming out of Nico’s room earlier and can’t help but wonder of Nico has a routine of seducing guys into sleeping with him on the first date. Or without any date at all. “I know you want to, I can feel it.”

As if he’s trying to prove a point, Nico presses a little closer and Percy knows Nico can feel the bulge in his jeans. And Nico is right, Percy wants, wants more than he cares to admit, so when Nico takes his hand and starts pulling him back to the doors, Percy doesn’t resist.


 

Percy wakes up the next morning with a pounding headache and fully clothed in a bed that is definitely not his own. He slowly squints his eyes open, trying to turn on his back only to realise someone is curled up to him and holding him in place.

“Nico?” Percy murmurs, too tired to open his eyes completely and see for himself. He gets a tired hum and a kiss to his throat in response, thank god. At least last night didn’t end in the bed of someone he really would rather avoid.

“Did you change your mind?” Nico’s voice is thick with sleep and Percy has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. When after another moment, Percy does manage to open his eyes, Nico has already raised his head off the crook of Percy’s neck to look up at him with an equally tired smile.

“What?” Percy says, making Nico smile and shake his head. It’s a good look on him, Percy decides he wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more of that.

“About having sex with me, idiot.” When still no awareness shows on Percy’s face, Nico huffs a laugh that sounds a little disbelieving. Percy is too tired to think, maybe if he tried, he would remember, but it’s decidedly too early for that. “You went all noble on me tonight and said you didn’t want to sleep with me on our first date while we’re both drunk.”

In all fairness, it does sound like something Percy would say. And the fact that they are both still dressed makes much more sense as well now. Percy sighs, unsure what had happened on the way from the party to Nico’s bed that changed his mind, but right now, he finds he’s actually quite grateful for it.

“Because I wanted more than a night of drunken sex and then never speaking again.” Percy replies flatly, maybe because there’s still enough alcohol left in his blood that he doesn’t care about being subtle. That or the fact that Nico let him stay even though they didn’t want the same last night. “And no, I didn’t change my mind about that.” Percy adds. “Tempting, though.”

He admits the last thing with a small, crooked smile and cocking his head to one side to get a better look at Nico.

Nico is quiet for a while, looking at Percy like he’s trying to figure out a puzzle, then, much to Percy’s surprise, he nods. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, I’ll let you have your date. But if you can’t resist me next time, don’t you dare blame it on me.”


 

Their first kiss tastes of chocolate and the cold air of harsh November days. Nico’s cheeks are red and frosty under Percy’s fingers; he took off his gloves to warm them between his palms and suddenly they were too close for Percy to find it in himself to pull back anymore.
Nico sucks in a sharp breath and Percy hesitates, allowing Nico to decide whether or not he wants to close the distance between them. Percy licks his lips, chapped from the cold, and finally Nico moves forward, meeting them with his own. Immediately, Percy’s eyes flutter closed.

Percy cradles Nico’s face, the tips of his fingers dipping under Nico’s wool hat when Nico parts his lips. He can still taste the hot chocolate they shared on Nico’s lips, and soon enough Nico’s fingers fist into the front of Percy’s jacket to pull him closer.

Percy forgets why he waited so long when this is what he could have had all along.