Are Percy and Nico together? No? Then sadly, disclaimer, I don't own Percy Jackson or any of his awesome friends.
Pushing Up Daises-Grim Kiss
By the time I finally managed to drag myself back to our tiny apartment the sun had long since ditched us to party with the other side of the world. After an exciting day of college life, floundering and begging to keep sob-worthy grades, captaining the swim team fishing a boy out of the guppy tank at work, and helping Grover and Juniper unload few metric tons of fertilizer for the “Crazy Daisy’s” sale this weekend I was dead on my feet and ready to flop.
Oops, used the d-word again. Guess I’m just lucky I didn’t say it out loud, and nowhere near Nico. He always goes back to being sulky and paranoid when I bring up his work, especially so when I’m talking about me. And right now with his death touch still coming in, that was just trouble I really didn’t need coming out to play.
Perks of dating a Grim Reaper right? Well, Grim Reaper in training. Neek’s dad had only magically resurfaced to smack us with that cheery news about two years ago after his powers started kicking in. Of course, we already figured as much after he accidently brought our cat, Small Bob, back to life.
The adorably skeletal kitten in question mewled happily as I pried the door open, slinking over to purr and rub against my legs. “Missed you too Bobby.” I grinned, scratching the back of his skull “You’re gonna break yourself if you purr any louder you know.”
I’m pretty sure he rattled and shook even more just to spite me before nimbly clawing his way up my arm and into my hoodie. I just laughed, throwing off my backpack and shoes and heading for bed in the pitch black apartment. It was good to be home. Here it was just Nico and me, no stress, no magic, just a couple of normal teens.
Well, a normal teen and a grim reaper. And their undead cat. And our hellhound the size of a large Volkswagen. Details though, right? Something didn’t feel right as I trudged blindly through the dark room, and for some reason, it took me forever to realize Mrs. O’Leary hadn’t leapt out of the shadows and tackled me to the ground with her big, slobbery kisses yet.
Nico always thought her nightly hunt for me put Calvin and Hobbes to shame, laughing his butt off when no matter how hard I tried to sneak around, I was inevitably grounded under two tons of shaggy dog. Small Bob stopped purring, kneading my shoulder now with a bony paw, feeling me start to frown.
Bobbie was in tune with me, always cuddling up and going out of his way to make me happy. It was something about how Nico accidently grafted his soul to mine when the cat came back (pun intended). But Mrs. O’Leary had bonded with Nico.
And if she wasn’t here for her usual attempt to break my ribs with love, that meant Nico was in one of his moods.
Our apartment was a tiny thing, really just one long hallway with four boxy rooms making up the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room. In the dark though, it might as well have been the Labyrinth. I stumbled and slammed into the wall, groaning when the lights still didn’t come on.
Maybe they’d just burnt themselves out. And maybe Neeks and Mrs. O’Leary had just gone out for a walk, or he’d finally managed to trick her into taking a back. She reeked almost as bad as the back of my dad’s seafood joint, but every time we almost caught her she’d turn the tables and toss us into the tub.
“You here babe?” Some small part of me hoped I wouldn’t get an answer, trying to stay optimistic.
But then the kitchen light flickered noiselessly to life and my heart sank. At first glance, I couldn’t even see him in there, just a mass of obsidian fur that was our dog. She was hunched up next to the fridge, head down low and unmoving.
I took a few cautious steps in, cringing when I stepped on something sharp. It took a few seconds of backpedaling to see the shattered remains of a flower pot all over the floor, dirt clods scattered and clumped all over.
“I barely touched it.” I jumped at Nico’s hoarse whisper, finally spotting him squeezed between the dog’s legs, almost invisible. His face was a harsh red and tearstained, dead brown eyes locked onto a pile of dust in the center of the chaos.
Boyfriend instincts took over and I tried to get to him only for Mrs. O’Leary to give a cautious growl and gently nudge me away with her snout. I glared at the pooch for a second, the two of us staring each other down before I gave up, kneeling down and trying to get Nico to look at me.
“Babe, what happened?”
“What do you think happened?” He snapped hollowly, eyes flashing around everywhere but to me.
“Planty, the potted plant, and evil overlord supreme over all shrubbery attacked only to be defeated by the mighty Ghost King and his cowardly canine companion, who’s being a real pain in the butt right now?” I offered.
That got a reaction. The shadows around us jerked to life, twisting crazily as Nico actually looked at me. On the upside that empty, I’m bad news and bad for you, I need to leave you so you’ll be safe expression was gone. The downside, well…
“This isn’t a joke! Gods, can’t you grow up for two seconds? All it’s gonna take is for me to bump into you, or catch you if you trip. Then you’ll wind up like that.”
He pointed back to the dust. It took me a few seconds to make out the dry and decayed husk that had been a flower. Oh.
But he was too far gone, I don’t think he even heard me. He just kept going, voice getting higher and starting to crack.
“You gonna be making jokes after that? I won’t be able to bring you back! I won’t be able to do anything. Your soul will be reaped, and it will be all my fault. Because I slipped up, cuz all it takes is a touch. I didn’t even try with that. I was watering it and the breeze bumped it into me. And now it’s dead. And you’re next! Then you’ll be gone and I’ll... I’ll… you’ll be gone.”
And just as fast as it had flared, all that anger died out and the empty hollows swallowed him up again. I reached towards him, letting out an exasperated growl when Nico flinched away and Mrs. O’Leary slapped a paw down between us.
“For the love of- sorry Bob.”
Bob gave an undignified yowl as I dumped him out of my hoodie and tossed him up at Mrs. O’Leary. Nico gave me a look as I tugged the hood up as fast as I could and squeezed my hands back into the sleeves until there was no skin showing.
Before Mrs. O’Leary could get rid of the angry cat in her face and block me off again, I dove between her legs and latched onto my boyfriend, nuzzling into his shirt and hugging him tight. Nico yelped and Mrs. O’Leary gave a startled bark, backtracking and trying to nudge me off.
I held on, squeezing tighter as Nico wriggled and tried to squirm away.
“Percy let go! Are you crazy?”
I gritted my teeth as he tried twisting and shoving out of my arms, the dog biting the back of my hoodie and trying to drag me off.
“I’m not the crazy one going wild on their boyfriend with a death touch!”
The smaller boy instantly froze up beneath me, even Mrs. O’Leary ceasing her attempts to separate us. Once I was sure Nico wouldn’t bolt, I loosened my hold and pulled him into my lap with his head on my chest. He was as stiff as a board, barely even breathing as we lay there on the floor, carefully mashed together.
A few minutes flew by before Mrs. O’Leary plopped to the ground beside us, Small Bob curling up on top of the hellhounds head.
“I’m not going to die.” Neeks jumped a little at my muffled voice “Well, not today at least. And not by you either. Leo, Walt and I already agreed we’re going to die by skydiving into a volcano from space after we take down the girl scout conspiracy. So sorry, you’re stuck with me till then. Got it?”
“Yeah, you’ve got a cute one. We’re good.”
“What if I-”
“Shut up and hug me because we’re going to be awesome? Love it, great idea Nico.”
Nico sighed, looking at me pleadingly. I ignored it and hugged him tight until he gave in and hugged me back, winding his arms around my neck and pulling me in as close as he dared. We’d been having this fight for two years. Nico would get another crazy power or be forced to babysit his brother’s zombies while he was on vacation or some ghost would follow him home and haunt the apartment.
Then he’d freak out because I could get hurt and although he’d never admit it, he was afraid he’d scare me away. But that wasn’t going to happen. I mean, the two of us had put each other through hell back before we really started dating.
After all that, all the adventures and struggles we went through, I wasn’t giving up on my Neeks anytime soon, no matter what weird thing happened.
“Wanna help me pick up? Mom’s coming over tomorrow and we’ll get the whole ‘bachelor pad? More like a pig sty’ speech if she sees it like this.”
Nico nodded mutely and untangled himself, going to grab the broom. Small Bob and Mrs. O’Leary meandered out of the room, the dog giving me one last, gloomy look then padding away after the cat. I crawled over to the nearest drawers, blindly pulling out plastic wrap and soup before finding a new bulb.
“Hey Neeks can you give me a hand?”
I held up the light bulb, the room going pitch black for a moment and something cold stealing the bulb away into the darkness. Another second later, the lights were back on and bright as ever.
“That one never gets old.” I grinned, giving Nico a wink “We should get together with Hazel again, you’re cute when you show off.”
My grin only grew as he rolled his eyes and mumbled something under his breath. He was back to grumpy Nico now, only a bit more and we’d be in the clear.
“She’s not gonna be happy. Those forget-me-nots were her birthday present from Calypso and Leo.” He grumbled, sweeping the leftover pieces into a pile.
“Yeah, she’ll be forgetting-it-not or a long time. At least no more flower babysitting right?”
Nico deadpanned. “Forgetting-it-not? Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got?”
All I could think was challenge accepted, smirking wickedly as I said “You’re right that one sucked. Thistle be a better one though.”
“Oh gods, no! No puns, I didn’t mean-” Nico did his best to stop me, trying to shout and wave his arms but I was ready to get on a roll.
“What kind of corsage do you give a dog?”
“Percy, I really don’t want to know what-”
Nico shook his head, trying to boo me away and block me out. “That was terrible and you know it. Percy why-”
“Are you so hot? I don’t know, but if you were a flower I know you’d be a dammmmmmmmndelion.” I said with a wink.
“Oh my gosh, stop” He moaned, flopping against the counter and trying to cover his ears.
I grinned, stepping as close as I dared and lying my head down beside his “Why don’t you come on clover here and make me gorgeous?”
Neeks peeked through his eyes, the corner of his mouth finally turning up into a reluctant grin. “You’re so immature babe.”
Bingo! “Yeah, but you know you’re daisy about me.”
Nico snorted, bumping me happily. We just stayed there, me grinning like the idiot I was, him just smiling dreamily back at me. It was a little too easy to get lost in those brown eyes of his. Annabeth and Grover had issues reading him. They said those eyes were guarded and mysterious.
I never had that problem though. Now that I knew him, he couldn’t hide it anymore, I saw it all. I could tell he was still sad, still paranoid, but he wanted this. He wanted us back again so bad. I reached over and grabbed the plastic wrap from off the floor, poking him a few times.
“Ugh... Why are you stabbing me with that?” He glared playfully through his fingers.
“Cuz I looooooooove you.” I drawled, giving him an extra poke just to prove it.
He just shook his head. “You’re such a sea doofus.”
I nodded enthusiastically, then bumped him back, laying my head on his back, beyond cautiously avoiding any skin. “True, but I’m your sea doofus.”
“Yeah you are.” Nico laughed, reaching his hand back to run his fingers through my hair. We both froze, his fingers only inches away from my face before he slowly put his hand back down. I held my breath, watching and waiting for a reaction.
This was a big slip up, just the kind he was afraid of. But we caught it in time, we always did. He had to see that. Nico was motionless under me for a long time while I waited, the clock seeming to tick louder and louder with each tock.
When he sighed and turned around I literally tripped, barely catching myself in time and spinning back to face my boyfriend. He had hunched back against the counter, arms crossed firmly across his chest, eyes searching mine.
I tried to cut in before the lecture could begin again “I know what you’re going to say-”
“How are we going to make this work?” Nico’s tone caught me off guard. It wasn’t hopeless, or angry, or even hollow. “Hades said it could take years for me to finally get this under control. So what are we going to do to make this work?”
“Umm….” Say something already dummy! This was a once in a Nico chance and the first thing I thought was umm….?!?
“Because right now the only idea I have is for us to get a hazmat suit and that’s just not practical.”
“We could, uh, I mean I could go and get a few…” I struggled to think up something, anything to say, but the seconds ticked by with more and more nothing.
“What’s what I mean. We live together Percy, it’s not like we’re going to be able to start putting up walls and taking shifts of who can be where so I don’t end up kill- touching you.”
“But we don’t need to touch! I mean it helps, but come on, I don’t need to hold you to tell you I love you, you know that. We can still keep going and everything’ll be fine, we just have to improvise.”
Nico snorted. “Oh please, you get clingy and jealous if you can’t hold my hand or have me in your lap when we hang out with everybody. Next time Will come’s over you’d literally die within five minutes.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault he’s always flirting with you. Do I get worried? Hell yeah, he already stole you from me.”
Nico’s smile faded into a fast glare. “He didn’t steal me from you, Percy. We weren’t even dating back then, and honestly, I don’t think you would have ever worked up the balls to ask me if he hadn’t.”
“Excuse me?” My fists balled before I could stop them. I needed to keep it cool. Like I said, we kind of put each other through hell before the two of us finally hooked up. And the Will phase, well...
Those weren’t days I was proud of.
“You weren’t even out back then, it was Percabeth this and Percabeth, you guys shoved it down our throats. And besides, if I hadn’t dated Will, I don’t know if we ever would have gotten together, after all the stupid crap you pulled.”
I took a step back in disbelief, shaking my head. “That I did? What about you?! What about all the lies and secrets and all the times you backstabbed me?”
The shadows rippled and the temperature plummeted. “It wasn’t like that.”
“Really? Cuz I remember somebody selling me out to Hades to find out info about their mom. And lying after I got kidnapped and brainwashed by Jason’s crazy boss Juno. And every time I tried to talk, you ran away, because you’re always running away, just like right now!”
Nico’s scowl dropped for a split second. “What?”
“You do this every single time! Back when you started shadow traveling and you basically threw me off a building you ran away and tried to break up. When you got found out you could go ghost and phase through things, you put your hand through my chest and you freaked out-”
“I thought I was going to kill you; I couldn’t get it out!”
“And then with the shadow manipulation, and the ice manipulation, and the zombies! Every time something happens, guess what? You run. And when I try to tell you it’s okay, and that I’m here, you get angry, because you can’t believe that, because you don’t want to believe I’ll stick around.”
Nico tried speaking, but nothing came out.
“Every time I try to tell you I love you, you act like I’m not there. You want to talk about immature? How about the kid who holds a grudge because somebody cares about you and gives you everything he has to give? You’re not even angry at me anymore, you just hate that you’re having issues. I know I’m a screw-up, and I know you hate me, but that doesn’t mean you get to treat me like that just because you’re pissed off at yourself!”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth all the breath went out of my lungs, and I realized I was breathing hard, almost crying. Nico was staring at me wordlessly, eyes wide and hurt.
“Nico… I didn’t mean- I… I’m so sorry.”
I spun around and ran out of the room. What just happened? I couldn’t have just said that I would never say that to Nico. That wasn’t what it was like, it wasn’t true… It hadn’t been true for two years. That’s what I told myself. That’s what I convinced myself.
We weren’t perfect. We had issues. But this was the first time that had ever come out. I felt like someone had just sucker-punched me in the gut with a freight train.
I just stood in the shadows of our shared room for a long minute, before grabbing my backpack up and shoving a few clothes in.
I really had said all that. Everything I’d held back, all the fights I’d tried to keep out were finally out. And because of some stupid offhand comment. About stupid Will! I needed to get out of here. I needed to give Nico some space, let him forget the mess I just let out. I had to get away because the more I looked back, the more I saw Smelly Gabe shouting at mom instead of me shouting at Nico.
I guess I was the running this time. Because that couldn’t happen. I never wanted to treat Nico like that. Like I just had.
I don’t think I actually heard him at first, I was too busy scrambling to get my stuff together, hands shaking so much I could barely pull the zipper closed.
I tensed up, starting to turn only to freeze. Guilt and shame kept me from looking at Nico after what I did to him.
“What are you doing?”
I took a few deep breaths, eyes locked on my backpack. “I’m packing.”
“Oh.” It hung in the air between us, that one word.
“I’m so sorry Nico. I didn’t mean for all that, I was just…. There’s no excuse I know. I’ll be gone soon; you don’t have to worry about it. I’m sorry.” I slipped the backpack over my shoulder, eyes finally traveling up enough to see his lone shadow on the wall, small and alone in the light from the hallway.
“I’m going to do what you said.”
I frowned, turning back to see what he meant, but Nico was gone from the doorway. Do what I said? Oh gods… he was running away. This was it, I really had screwed everything up, no going back. I rushed out, trying to think where he could have gone. Maybe it wasn’t too late. I’d leave, he didn’t have to run, he didn’t have to leave everything again.
He’d probably already shadow traveled away, but I could call Hazel, then-
I ran right into him as he came around the kitchen corner. I had a split second to freak out, worried I was going to touch him and make things even worse before something smacked into my face. I blinked, starting to panic when I realized I couldn’t breathe, and that something was clouding my vision and pushing weirdly up against my lips.
But then everything changed and I realized Nico was kissing me. Well, kind of. He was holding the plastic wrap from earlier in-between our faces, lips on mine, only the thin material between us. I kissed back before I knew what was happening, trying to get used to trying to kiss back through plastic.
All the guilt and urgency melted away in those awkward moments, my arms winding around his waist and his snaking up over my shoulders, adjusting the wrap
every few seconds so it wouldn’t tear. When we finally broke apart I had to take a few deep breaths, Nico tossing the plastic wrap away and coughing hard.
“We really need to work on that.” He spluttered, glaring down at the roll “I don’t know why I thought it’d actually work. That was the most awkward thing ever.”
“What….?” And I was back to not knowing what to say. “I thought you were going to run.”
Nico shook his head. “You said we should improvise. So I did. Cause you’re right. I run. And I get angry. And I’m kind of a douchebag sometimes. And so are you. But I do love you. You’re the exact opposite of a screw-up Perce, anyone else would have given up a long time ago. You’re my hero. And you’re stuck with me forever, even after you go through your whole stupid volcano thing.”
I shook my head, not understanding. “Even after all that?”
“I get moody and swear all the time and you just shrug it off. It’s healthy to get all that stuff out, even if it does hurt. Cuz it’s true.” Nico shrugged.
“It’s not though. That’s not what I really think.”
Nico gave me a loving glare. “It is what you think. At least, a bit of it is. And that’s good. Cuz guess what?”
“We’re human. We make mistakes, we get angry, and for some psycho reason, we actually have different perspectives and ideas. Crazy right? We’re not perfect. But nobody is. And we’ll work it out. Cuz that’s what we do.”
“That’s what we do.” I echoed.
Nico smiled and reached back down for the plastic wrap, carefully wrapping up his hands and arms before holding my hand and pulling me back to the bedroom. I let him help take off my backpack and pull me onto the bed, propping up a few pillows to keep us apart, but still never letting go of my hand.
“We’ll figure this out. Just like you said.” Nico smiled, cuddling up and closing his eyes.
Yeah. I nodded squeezing his weird, plastic wrapped hand. We were going to figure this out. We both had rough patches, but we’d make it through.
“I love you Perce. Forever.”
I closed my eyes and hummed, Small Bob and Mrs. O’Leary flopping down nearby to snuggle up with us.
“I love you too Neeks. Always.”
Next on Pushing Up Daisies- iZombie
Hey everybody, it's been a while. Sorry about the hiatus on all my works, but now that I'm back in school I've got plenty of time. For all of you out there that means updates on Dying To Live, The Ties That Bind/3TB, and finishing Sympathy for the Di Angelo. This is my newest project as an "I'm Sorry" present to some of my readers who had ideas they wanted to read, but I had another question to all you awesome people who actually read all my ramblings (thanks for putting up with me by the way!) Anyways, since Halloween was coming up, I had a quick question to all you out there, and I really hope you can actually help me decide with this; I have a wonderful Halloween multi-chapter idea that I've already started working on, but that means the updates for my other stories would be a bit delayed. Would you rather just have a cute Halloween Pernico oneshot, or would the delay for a bigger story be more exciting? Regardless of what you pick, thanks, hope you enjoyed the first of many Pushing Up Daisies stories, and have a wonderful morning/afternoon/evening!!!