Nico sat on a velvety chair while watching people prance by with elaborate masks covering their faces. People seemed to have become giddy, maybe there was something in the punch. His step mother, Persephone, had insisted that his 16th birthday be a masquerade party. She had gone all out and ended up renting out the grand ballroom of a hotel; it had a balcony and everything. He didn’t mind it. He did mind, however, that Percy Jackson hadn’t showed up. He had said something along the lines of dealing with a mild problem in Poseidon’s realm, some jelly fish thing. Even after he told Percy that he wanted him there especially, he still received an excuse. Nico looked at his watch. He wanted to leave, he was in no mood to party.
Jason sauntered over to where Nico was sitting and tapped him on the shoulder. “Why aren’t you having fun, dancing or something? It’s your birthday party after all.” Nico sighed. “Maybe I will later, besides- your girlfriend is waving at you.” Nico said as he eyed Piper motioning for Jason to come back to the dance floor. “Heh, right… well just try to pep up a little! Why don’t you have some punch, I think someone spiked it” Jason grinned. Nico had noticed. “Hah, I might just” Nico said before Jason laughed and walked back to the group of his friends who had gathered on the dance floor among the other people his step mother had made him invite. Almost everyone in either camps Jupiter or Half Blood were here, not to mention some distant family Nico didn’t even know he had.
Nico ended up by the punch bowl, and around a half hour later he felt a buzz in his head. At least he might find more amusement in the evening this way. He swayed slightly on his feet. Suddenly there was a firm hand on his arm, steadying him. He looked up into eyes hidden behind a mask, and a radiant grin. By this time his head was slightly spinning, and he tried to regain his balance. Successfully standing up he heard the masked boy ask “Are you okay?” Nico replied with a positive hum and a cocked smile. Looking closer, he realized that this boy looked somewhat familiar. He blurted out “Yeah, I-I’m good. Thanks.” The masked boy smiled and Nico felt his heart flutter a little bit, damn. “Nice mask” Nico pointed out, touching the boy’s mask at the side of his face. He swore that he saw the boy blush the faintest bit. “So you have a date?” Nico rambled on, not having full control over what he was saying at this point.
The boy touched the dark hair above his nape with his hand “Well I was hoping..” he started, but Nico cut him off “Yeah I got stood up.” The boy looked up “Oh? By whom?” Nico laughed a little and looked downwards “by this cutie who kinda looks like you.” Nico looked up and grinned. The boy opened his mouth like he was about to say something but Nico stated “Oh well, you’re here, so I guess it’s not all that bad…” as he shifted a little closer to the boy so that their bodies were only a few inches apart. Nico smiled and looked upwards drunkenly towards the boy’s face. The masked hottie cleared his throat. “Uhm, c-could I get some punch please?” Nico looked behind himself and realized that he’d been standing in front of the boy and the bowl. He stepped aside so the boy could fill his cup and sighed. “Too bad you can’t control water yourself like the hottie back at camp.” The boy froze mid sip and turned to face Nico. “The hottie?” Nico giggled. “Yeah most of the time I just wished he’d pound my ass into oblivion, y’know?” He swayed a little bit and laughed “…that sounds so weird if I say it out loud oh my gods.” Noticing how quiet the boy had gotten, Nico blush furiously and motion towards the dance floor “I was suppose to go find my friends, I should go find my friends.” The masked boy nodded and had the faintest trace of a smile on his lips. Nico walked closer to him and put his hand on the boy’s chest. “See you later tonight?” he asked as he slid his hand down the boy’s chest until above his naval and left with a grin. The boy stuttered on his drink spilling a little on his shirt and decided he needed some air.
Percy held the back of his neck with his hands outside in the cool air. He took off his mask that had covered his forehead and nose and stuffed it in his pocket. Oh gods. Did that just happen? Did Nico just say those things? He had only meant to surprise the boy tonight with a dance or something of the sort; and had definitely not expected for the night to go like this. He sighed and felt his face grow hot. Nico had said he was cute, that he was a hottie. Shit, maybe his feelings were reciprocated. His stomach got butterflies at the mere thought that Nico di Angelo harboured feelings towards him. Percy froze, It did though, seem that Nico was pretty mad at him for “missing” his birthday party. Damn, what should he do. He highly doubted Nico wouldn't be embarrassed with what he just said, if he found out the masked man was Percy all along. Percy tried to think of a way to tell Nico when suddenly he heard Nico shout. Percy slipped his mask back on and peered into the hallway leading from the balcony doors. Speak of the devil. He turned his head to where the sound had come from but to his astonishment found Nico being handled by two older looking guys. “HEY!” Percy shouted down the hall, earning a surprised look from one of the two guys. Nico flailed in the middle of their arms, catching sight of Percy and yelling for him. Percy ran over to where the struggle was happening and tried to push the guys off of Nico, with no luck.
The next thing any of them saw was Percy’s fist collide with one of the two guy’s faces, earning a satisfying crack from the guy’s nose and a wince from Percy. “God DAMN” the guy yelled, now sitting on the floor holding his nose. The second guy looked up right as Percy was getting ready for another swing and threw Nico directly into Percy’s arms. Both boys ran away while Percy caught Nico. Nico groaned as he tried to stabilize himself with Percy’s help. He coughed and looked up at Percy, “I told you we’d see each other again tonight!” Percy scoffed. “I didn’t think it would be like this though…” Nico said, massaging his wrists. “You need to be more careful” Percy said, starting to bring Nico into a hug, then remembering that he was still seen as the masked man. He hesitated and decided to take Nico by the arm and lead him back to the ballroom. They stopped by the entrance to the ballroom and Percy turned to Nico. “Take care of yourself now…” Percy said, taking Nico’s chin in his index finger and thumb and turning it to face him. He saw Nico blush and look away. “Won’t you be coming to dance too?” Nico asked with a small smile. Percy’s heart tightened “I have to go, but I’ll see you again- now go have fun, oh and…” he leaned close into Nico’s left ear as he said “Happy Birthday” and pulled back. He chuckled as Nico turned bright red and shifted uncomfortable before saying a quick goodnight and running off into the crowd on the dance floor. Percy swore at himself for not going after him but was too flustered to go dance with Nico. He noted that in any case of that happened he would surely loose it. Instead, he sat on the sidelines for a little while and kept an eye on the boy.
His heart fluttered every time he saw Nico laugh among the crowd. Percy then walked to one of the exits and alerted some of the skeleton guards to keep a close eye on him, so that no-one would try to kidnap him or get him alone again. After that, he grabbed his coat at the coat check in desk and left the hotel with a blush adorning his cheeks and a wide smile on his lips. He would definitely enjoy making this up to Nico when they saw each other again.
Nico woke up that morning with a headache that felt like his head was splitting open. Gods, what had he done. He stretched and climbed out of his bed, putting on a hoodie before walking into the kitchen. “Morning sunshine!” Hazel chimed as Nico shuffled his way to the fridge. He realized he didn’t have an appetite. “Here” Hazel said, giving him an Advil and some sort of green smoothie. “The hell is this?” Nico said, eyeing the green drink. “It’s a hangover remedy, works pretty well too!” Hazel said, shoving the drink in his direction. “Thanks, I guess” Nico mumbled. Hazel grinned and whacked him on the arm.
After he had finished Hazel’s concoction of health, Persephone walked in, a big smile on her face. “Good morning my sixteen year old son!” she beamed. Nico showed his discomfort by making a face, earning a sigh from his step mother. “I hope you liked you birthday party, Nico.” Nico looked up, he nodded curtly and mumbled a “Thank you, it was pretty fun.” Persephone frowned “I do wonder who spiked the punch though, I was not too happy about that, having dozens of underage demi gods running around all claiming to be the best fighter. But everyone looked so dashing! Especially you!” she said, tapping Nico on the shoulder. Hazel laughed and Nico rolled his eyes. “Oh but Nico dear, you are expected at camp Half Blood tomorrow morning, so try and get to bed early tonight.” Nico nodded.
He spent almost the whole day just lying in front of the TV eating things, trying to sleep off his hangover, and thinking about his mystery man encounter the night before. He barley remembered the whole night and could only piece together memories of the masked man punching one of the guy’s who had tried to take him up to a hotel room in the face and then walking him back to Jason and the others. Maybe he should try and ask Jason tomorrow if he had seen the man Nico had been with. Maybe he would remember something Nico hadn’t? He just hoped he hadn’t said or done anything too stupid.
Back in his cabin Percy sat on his bed holding the mask from the night before in his hands. “I wonder how Nico will react when he finds out you are me..” he spoke to the mask. He placed it aside, laid down on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. His face grew hot as he remembered the things Nico had said about him. Especially “pound my ass into oblivion.” Dear gods did that kid have no shame. Percy sighed. If Nico started hitting on people after a spiked drink, he would have to make sure he was always there when Nico got drunk; just for safety measures of course… at least that was the excuse he told himself. Percy sighed and rolled over, Nico was due back at camp tomorrow morning. They should talk. In Nico’s mind, Percy had rejected the invitation to his birthday in multiple suspicious ways. Damn it, things didn’t go as panned at all the previous night. He was going to ask Nico for a dance, reveal his identity, maybe kiss him if he wasn’t too chicken and it would have all been good! But instead he fucked it all up. Percy bit his lip. His heart fluttered when he thought of the chance that Nico would say yes to his make-up date. Damn he was still not over that fact that Nico had asked him to pound his ass into oblivion what the fuck! Percy slammed his face into his pillow. He hoped Nico wouldn’t give him the cold shoulder tomorrow. He eyed the small box containing Nico’s birthday present on his bedside table, before closing his eyes, wanting tomorrow to come faster.