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Immortal Secrets Stay Best Hidden

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“Jason, we really are running late! I'm honestly not being sarcastic!” Nico yelled through the door, trying his best not to sound as annoyed as he was, and that was saying something since he usually didn’t put any effort into keeping his emotions out. Jason shuffled inside, the faint rustle of clothes whispering through the door as he hastily put his clothes on “M comin’, ‘ico, waita min't.”

“Yes, sure, I know you’ll be out in a minute,” Nico grumbled.

Hazel grinned beside Nico, one hand on the smooth white wall to support her balance as she put her white shoes on. She looked really pretty today. She always did. “It’s no use yelling, He’s always late,”

“So much for rooming,” Nico groaned inwardly, and sat down on the sofa. It was going to take some while, knowing Jason “What was I thinking when I agreed to something like him?”

Hazel giggled, wriggling her thin eyebrows suggestively “That he’s hot?”

The fog hung low outside today, not too dense, but definitely irritable and sticky. Nico hated humid weathers like these. It just made everything very muggy and wet. Hazel’s hair stuck up weirdly today because of the moisture too, but she looked gorgeous despite of that. Nico wished he had the same ability to look beautiful every day. Well, fuck it. He wasn’t here to please anybody anyway.

“I’m here, how do I look?” Jason asked, coming out, again looking perfect. Jason was the kind of person you’d imagine standing on a sunny dune by the beach with a blue surf board and red swimming trunks, in all his lean muscles and faint tan and blonde hair. He had the psyche of a surfer and was very aware of that, but he was never a jerk to anyone. Quite the contrary, he was very helpful and supportive of any person who found themselves in need. Kind of an over-supportive chicken, Nico would admit. Jason would be a great mother.

“You look like Jason Grace. Let’s go, or do you fancy a mouthful of Argus again?” Nico asked.

“Don’t remind me,” Jason shivered from the memory, and both Hazel and Nico laughed good naturedly. Argus was the school guard, and he was such a good one that Nico could swear that he had eyes all over his body. No one ever, ever got past Argus. Except for the Stoll twins. Those twins were so sneaky they could probably rob the Principal’s office and still get away with it.

 

“Very good sense of fashion again, Nico,” Piper said dryly as she took in Nico again “Is black your dress code?”

“Yes, thank you very much, Piper,” Nico said back, though he didn’t mind, really. He was wearing his black leather jacket, a white shirt underneath, black jeans and fingerless gloves. Leo grinned next to him “Just put on a bit of eyeliner and black lipstick and you’ll literally be emo,”

“I am not emo, or depressed, or sad, Leo, I just love the color black,”

“Which is not emo at all,” Jason piped in, and Nico scowled in exasperation. The High school they all attended was not far from their home, just a half mile walk, so they walked to it every morning. Nico liked walking too. It gave him an excuse to stretch his limbs and he liked to keep himself fit.

Oh, who was he kidding. The truth be told, he loved the apple trees that lined the road. He enjoyed walking through the lush grass by the roadside garden, and he really liked the soft breeze that always blew through the leaves. It somehow reminded him of the time he was too little to remember anything clearly, back when his mother and sister were alive and they lived in Italy.

He kicked the odd stone in the sidewalk, and couldn’t help but relate to the stone. Nico was like a pebble, a life of grey, a constant annoyance waiting to be kicked or trampled over.

Now he felt bad for kicking the stone. 

They walked silently for some while more. Well, he walked silently. Jason was chatting vehemently with his girlfriend, Piper. They never seemed to run out of things to talk about, and Nico found that really irritating. What was the point of talking so much when you don’t really have something to say? Just to fill in the silence?

Half-Blood High was a large school built over a very large area. It’s been on that plot since ancient times, and Nico absolutely loved the architecture of the school. The High school had tall marble columns, laced with quartz, and it looked beautifully like an exact replica of a Greek building. The whole school had two floors, three buildings, and three large playgrounds and even a garden and a greenhouse for projects. One of the buildings were dorms for the students who lived too far away or had other problems. The other two buildings housed their labs and classrooms, which were in themselves very large. They had wooden seats and quartz teacher’s desks, and it was an absolute nightmare in winters when everything was cold as ice cubes.

It was costly, and ridiculously expensive for a school, but was one of the best educational units around too. It was handy for those who can afford them, and Nico’s father wasn’t really very short of money. All of his school friends were thus obviously rich. Both Piper and Jason had actors and actresses for parents (hence their insanely good looks). Frank’s dad was a high military corporal. Will’s father was the CEO of one of the major chains of American Hospitals (Phoebus Hospitals). The only exception was Leo, who got in through a scholarship based purely on his talent in making things. He was very poor in comparison, an orphan living with his uncle who ran a garage, but no one minded. At least not in his group of friends.

The first pristine walls of the buildings peeked up from the dusty leaves of the trees, and the sunlight that bounced from the white stone was lost somewhere in the misty fog. Nico saw some people slowly making their way with them, the people crowing into the gates. Hazel called out her goodbye before she left to her boyfriends.

As on older brother, you’d have expected Nico to be overprotective or angry about Hazel having two boyfriends, but the truth was that Nico was not the least bit salty. Both Leo and Frank were good people, and while Leo was a hyperactive little shit, Frank was a warm and mellow guy and they balanced each of themselves evenly. Nico trusted Frank to take care of them. There was something about Frank that made him hard not to trust.

And Hazel was happy with them. wasn't that all that mattered? He won't deny his little sister happiness. Happiness, in any way or form, was a thing to be cherished. that's what Nico believed.

He walked quietly to the big iron gates with Jason and Piper, and his eyes fell on a guy standing by the street. He was standing under an apple tree, looking partly anxious. His skin was white as milk, and his brilliant eyes shone like emeralds even from the distance. His lips were reddish-pink, like sunburnt skin. He had high cheekbones, his straight hair jet black and messy. He was wearing a bright cyan hoodie with a black zipper, which went with his eyes pretty nicely. His hands dug into the pockets of his black jeans, and his white converse stood out from the grey of the asphalt.

Nico couldn’t stop staring at the guy. There was a primal urge unfurling in his gut that pulled him to the guy, but in the back of his mind there was also a nudge of alarm, like the guy was dangerous. He wanted to gawk at the guy all day. He looked aesthetically very beautiful. But then why did his pale contour sent alarm bells ringing in Nico’s mind?

Jason pulled him, and he blinked as he stumbled forward. The blond looked at him worriedly, pursing his lips. Nico looked at him, a little out of sorts.

“You okay there, bro?”

“Yeah,” Nico bit out, but he turned around to see that guy again. Nico wanted to go closer to him, talk to him just to see if his voice was as beautiful as his looks, but at the same time his piercing eyes made his skin crawl. Jason followed his eye to look at the person, and he yanked Nico’s arm again “Nico… he doesn’t feel good. Let’s go,”

Nico, however, did not argue.

 

Nico could not stop thinking about him. He’d never seen someone so pale, so unusual. His thoughts kept running back to the man on the street as he sipped on his bland coffee. The coffee was tasteless, like water, but Nico wasn’t choosy when he was thinking. He just wanted to complete his history homework. Which he could not because Jason and Hazel were currently screaming their lungs out.

The neighbors were now obviously used to teenagers living in this bungalow, because no one came to check the mental stability of the two persons yelling alarmingly in the room. Nico poked in his head through the door, squinting darkly at the two people who were watching a weird horror movie.

Can you not?!” Nico yelled over the noise, and both Hazel and Jason wheeled their heads to his direction just as a bloody woman landed on the screen, screaming and spraying more crimson gore everywhere on the scene. Jason jumped, shrieking manly (he insisted, okay?), and crept into Hazel’s embrace who was shaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Nico thought this would make awesome blackmail material, Jason cowering in Hazel 's arms, but damn it his phone was charging in his room.

“I am trying to fucking study here!” Nico said, and both Hazel and Jason looked at him wide eyed. They’d probably blown their minds off watching the movie with the looks of it. Nico didn’t know how horror movies scared them. They were just a bunch of cowering people and stupid monsters with hollow eyes and slimy hands. Nico walked over and very efficiently switched the offending thing off.

The flatscreen zipped blank, leaving a black screen. The silence after so much shouting was quite unnerving, and frankly very uncomfortable. Jason and Hazel still looked mentally constipated, scrambling to gather their wits. Hazel protested slowly, “Hey! The main character was just about to die. You can’t leave us with a cliffhanger.”

“My studies are more important than your childish horror movies,” Nico countered, tapping his foot restlessly against the floor. He crossed his arms over his chest, his white cotton shirt rumpled like he just came from a good round of love-making.

Jason sat up, trying to fix his hair with a grimace on his face “Dude, not funny. The vampire and the werewolf were about to fight. It would’ve been epic,”

“Well, you know what has vampires and werewolves and timid women who can’t get their shit together? Twilight.

“Still not cool, man,” Jason murmured, standing up to get himself a drink “It wasn’t as bad as Twilight. I, for one, found the main guy hot.”

Then Jason looked up, alarmed at what he’d just said. Nico grinned, leaning against the wall “What did ya just say?”

“I think your gay is rubbing off me, Nico. Stop bullying me and give me the coffee,”

Jason reached for the coffee, but Nico swished it away, downing it in one gulp and scrunching his face up moments later.

“which means you two can hook up,” Hazel winked at them, sauntering over easily. But don’t let that fool you, Nico knew she was still terrified inside. She grinned when Jason colored under his tan, grumbling and complaining.

“I don’t think…” Nico frowned, looking over Jason “…Blondes are not my type,”

“Not sure if I should feel offended, or laugh because Will Solace is head over heels with you.” Jason perked his blond eyebrow. Seriously, was he blond all over?

“I am not even going to dignify that with a response.” Nico made a face “I’ll be in my room, doing homework. You are not allowed in,”

“Sure, Sure,” Jason waved him off, and Nico gave him one long look before walking off. He knew that Jason would slink back into his room before nightfall, be what may, and distract him from his studies.

And that’s what he loved about Jason, really.

 

Nico tried to write. He really did. But his mind was blank. Today was one of those days he just couldn’t summarize the events into his diary. Maybe that’s why his diary was so irregular. He knew that if the diary was gifted life, the first thing it would do would be slam it’s hardcover on his face.

Jason was snoring like a rusty chainsaw on Nico’s bed, and Nico tried hard to think over the noise. While it wasn’t entirely Jason’s snoring that was distracting him, it was definitely a factor.

He wondered if Jason would mind if he just gagged him. Well, if Jason did, he won’t be able to voice it anyway.

Finally frustrated beyond exhaustion, he went to just sleep beside Jason (which he did quite often since the guy found ways to worm into Nico’s bed anyway) and tried to sleep. Even then he found that he could not, rolling over and over into different positions until his back hurt. He was too restless and active to actually sleep. He settled for reading his diary again until he felt drowsy enough to sleep. His head hurt slightly, but he ignored it.

He picked up the diary, skimming over his childish idiosyncrasies and his memories. He could vividly picture himself writing these. He was proud at how detailed he had been back then, but his punctuation and word usage were just awful.

He read the passage where he’d written his moving. He was barely 14 when Hades di Angelo had given up on taking care of him. his father was a nice and handsome father until Nico’s mother and sister died mysteriously. After that, Hades had buried himself in work to distract himself from the accident. Their bodies hadn’t been found. Nico was bitter too, but he could take care of himself.

He still remembered when his father came to him on his 14th birthday, his brow sweating and his eyes a little crazed “Nico, you- you cannot stay in Florence. You can’t. You-Your mother and sis-…. I’m sending you to America, okay? They’ll be coming for you next... you’ll stay safer in USA,”

Nico blinked as his father shook him slightly. “I’ll… I’ve made the arrangements. You’ll be rooming in New York with Jason Grace and your half-sister, Hazel Levesque. Pack your bags, quick! Your flight will be leaving in three hours,”

Nico had never been so flabbergasted his whole life.

The next three hours were a jumble. Nico did not know that he had a half-sister just a year younger than him, let alone knowing when his father had gone and bought a freaking luxurious bungalow for them. He packed his bags, stuffing them up to the neck, and suddenly he was at the airport terminal.

His father, who was now calm, told him about his two flight stops and details of where his home was. Then he hugged Nico, not too briefly, and they parted. Nico’d been very dazed, but it all turned out for the good. Now Nico was actually happy. He’d moved on from his mother’s and sister’s death, accepted it with the help of his friends, and started to lead a happier life. He talked to his father for two hours every week, who listened with very real interest about his daily life and love and little escapades. He was the best father Nico could have.

He had more friends now than he ever did back in Florence, and he was grateful for that. There was Will, Jason, Hazel, Reyna, Leo, Frank, and the best part was that they all formed a close knit group that treated each other like family. They were family.

Smiling, he closed his eyes at the memory. He put the book beside his pillow, gratefully slinking into a dreamless sleep.


 

Or not so dreamless sleep, Nico thought the next day. He’d woken up early to finish his Latin essay and was totally in a stew. He couldn’t shake his nightmare away. He’d dreamt of his mother and sister, which terrified him down to his bones. It wasn’t really a nightmare, because all his mother and sister did was smile and wave at him sitting at the base of a maple tree, but it was enough to send chills down his spine. Why did he dream of his mother and sister now? As far as he remembered, he hadn’t seen them in his sleep for two years now. Five years from the incident, if he cared enough to remember.

Jason was trying to rush his History homework too, having not done it the other day like Nico and Hazel had, while the girl was still out like a light. Nico wondered for a moment If he should tell Jason about his nightmares, but then decided against it. Jason already had a lot on his mind.

And even if he didn’t, this was something that Nico felt like he should keep to himself about.

“I am dying,” Jason complained “I cannot do this anymore. You’re invited at my funeral.”

Nico scrunched up his brows in annoyance. Though he wasn’t’ properly annoyed, he found Jason a little more irritating than endearing at that moment.

“Please die quietly. I’m trying to write,”

“Well, so am I.”

“All your fault,” Nico said, quirking an eyebrow at Jason, who groaned again.

“Well, you know what? Fuck this,” He stood up, piling all of his work into the table untidily beside Nico’s books. A book fell down to the flood with a dull thud against the carpet, and two sheets of paper floated down next to it. Nico found this disrespect for books offensive, but he didn’t want to be overdramatic about it.

“Lazy ass.”

“I prefer indolence. It makes my laziness seem classy,” Jason smirked, and Nico laughed.

“Oh, I didn’t know you had words longer than five letters in your vocab.”

“I am very much capable of vocabulary, thank you very much,” Jason mocked being hurt, and Nico rolled his eyes.

“I’m going out for some Starbucks before school, kay?”

“Count me in, I’m tired of Latin anyway, and I need a good dose of depresso,” Nico got up, stretching his bones, and trying his best to tidy his mess of curls. Jason yawned, putting on a blue shirt and walking out of the door. Nico followed him. At least today the weather was pretty clear, which meant he could actually go out without feeling stuffy or suffocated. He grabbed his aviator jacket over his t-shirt and put it on, running a hand through his hair to smooth out any stray locks.


 

Chapter Text

Nico hummed, snuggling into Will’s embrace as they both finished their food together and wiped their hands on the tissue. The plus side of this school was that that during break, they could go wherever the heck they wanted inside the school walls. Nico liked that he could spend his break however way he craved. He just wished they’d do the same to lunch, but he couldn’t ask that level of comfort from life.

Today, he felt sunny. Really. He loved the heat that the morning sun was throwing on his face, making him feel toasty and warm and happy. Nico cherished this feeling. Will was like a space heater too. While he wasn’t as literally hot as Leo or Reyna, he was pretty warm. At least more than normal people. Nico was more on the cooler side, his skin pale and cold.

“You sure you don’t want your first kiss to be me?” Will’s hands wrapped around Nico’s torso from the behind, and he pressed a kiss to Nico’s hair. Nico didn’t stiffen, being used to Will’s touches, and rather enjoying them “No, Will. Your ears will fall off hearing the same thing again and again,”

“You break my heart, Nico,” Will said dramatically, though his hands didn’t move from around Nico. Instead, they tightened “Gods, you’re so cool,”

“That I don’t argue with,” Nico grinned as Will nestled his head into the hollow of Nico’s neck.

“I bet you’d feel cooler if you take your clothes off,” Will mumbled into Nico’s skin, and Nico chuckled. They just breathed for a minute, silent and lost in their own little worlds. Nico wondered if he was anyone’s favorite person, and he found that he couldn’t think of a person who’d truly love him. Except for Will, and Nico felt truly sad about that. He wished he could whisper those three little words back to the guy, but no matter how hard he tried he just… couldn’t think of Will in a romantic way.

“Look at you, disgusting love freaks,” Kayla muttered as she passed by, having had her lunch and heading to her locker, throwing Will a distasteful look “Just ew.”

“Kiss already!” The girl known as Miranda Barks said, laughing at her best friend’s disgust and waving her off. She grinned so widely at Will and Nico that it seemed like her face would split any moment “Come on Nico, stop making Will chase you around. It’ll lose its romantic vibe.”

“I’m not making him chase me!” Nico defended, going red around the ears. Will laughed good naturedly next to him. “’Randa, stop teasing him.”

“Sure,” the woman said, throwing her glossy dark hair over her shoulder prettily. They walked away, Kayla still throwing Will angry glances like she secretly wished for her half-brother to burn in hell.

Nico looked at his hand, which was already a shade of olive. He tanned fast, and he didn’t want to have weird tan gloves since he was wearing his aviator jacket today. He tilted his face towards Will’s head, smiling slightly. Will beamed back, his cornflower eyes dancing in love.

That made guilt spike in Nico’s heart. Will was a really nice guy who deserved way better than Nico. Nico’d told him many times that he was not interested in dating Will, and that he would never love the guy in the romantic way. Yet, Will never let him go, and Nico didn’t have the heart to push Will off like a douchebag. Nico didn’t feel worth the effort which Will put into him.

“Let’s go,” Nico said thickly, then cleared his throat “I want to go back inside.”

“Whatever you want,” Will smiled soothingly.

 

Nico wasn’t really a trouble magnet. He sometimes felt non-existent to the world, and enjoyed it immensely. However, he had his bad days too, when someone would pick at him or would throw a slur at him in front of other people, contaminating any first impression that he could have on new people. That kind of explained his few friends.

Today was one of his bad days, apparently. He opened his locker, putting his Art and history notes back in. Professor Chiron had killed at History today, and if he kept up the pace then Nico would really have trouble keeping up with the disabled man’s rants.

He leaned away from his open locker with a sigh, his English notes in his hand. He didn’t want to go to Professor Boring’s lecture today. He’d hardly be able to keep his eyes open.

He practically froze when he noticed Adonis standing just by the edge of the hallway, having what seemed like a quiet discussion with their Principal, Mr. Zeus Day (everyone just called him Zeus or dickhead). Yes, he would grudgingly admit that he had named the green-eyed guy from before as Adonis, but it seemed fitting. There was something beautiful as well as tragic in that guy. Not to mention he had the psyche of a Greek god.

Now Nico was getting sappy.

People flocked around Nico, to their lockers, but gave both the arguing guys a wide berth. Nico noticed that while the Principal and Adonis shared the same shade of paleness in their skin, Zeus was distinctively decades older. Both of them looked sharply dangerous.

Adonis’s oceanic eye swept the area nervously, and Nico’s heart rate spiked. Nico stood on his tiptoes, desperately praying to the gods to catch the eye of the Adonis. He was terribly disappointed when Adonis looked past him, casually as if he was nothing more than a pebble. However, the guy seemed to have been struck as he looked back right at Nico.

Now, Nico had imagined talking to the guy, all right? He had, like a freaking schoolgirl, thought up their first conversation, and put all his non-existent social skills to the test to try and at least befriend the guy (not that he wished more than to be friends. Oh no, not at all). However, Nico found himself unable to even smile as the guy stopped talking completely.

The guy looked at him, a lazy, arrogant smirk rising up in his lips, and Nico’s face suddenly grew hot. Adonis winked at him, grinning when Nico gaped at him and completely ignoring Zeus’s attempts to grab his attention. Nico turned away, not wanting to embarrass himself further. He closed his locker as people shouldered past his back, his eyes briefly flicking over to where the Adonis was standing before, but to his great disappointment he noticed that Zeus and Adonis weren’t there anymore.

He furrowed his brows back at his locker and turned around to head to class, when suddenly a pair of strong hands grasped the front of his jacket and pushed him against the locker. His English notes fell to the floor, floating away in all directions. People jumped back, some of them ignoring the bullies and others standing to entertain themselves before class.

Yes, Nico had a lot of bullies in his life. It all came with being unique, different than everyone else, and was worth it. Most of the people bullied him because he was gay, others just for the fun of it. Nico had learnt not to take any of the bullies’ insults to heart. Yet, Nico found his heart tittering when Clarisse’s angry, pug-like face swam into view. She leered at the teen, looking over her gang who consisted of her boyfriend Chris Rodriguez, Bryce Lawrence (who Nico hated most), and another girl Nico didn’t care to know the name of.

“What do we have here? It’s our poor little stupid baby who cries and sucks dick, isn’t it?”

Nico’s anger bubbled, but he willed himself to stay calm. Clarisse was not even swayed by the fake smug look on Nico’s face like she knew it was just a mask, and she cackled with the rest of her gang. Chris’s face wrinkled in a mocking grin, and Nico just wanted to hit the guy seven ways into Sunday.

“I’d punch you, but I don’t want to get slut on my hands,”

Nico scowled at her “You already have slut all over you,”

A few students laughed around Clarisse, and Clarisse sent a glare to their direction. They sobered up immediately, not wanting to share Nico’s fate. Thanks very much for the concern, Nico thought offhandedly.  

“Let me deal with the fag,” Bryce sneered, pushing Clarisse off Nico and pinning his wrists over his head with one palm. His murky green eyes seemed like swamp water when he stared down at Nico.

“Sad today because the best thing you do is spread your legs for any boy who can make you moan?”

“I do not-“ Nico began. He knew he could keep himself under control, but making so blatant, biased comments about homosexuality? It was getting on his nerves. Being gay did not mean he was willing to have sex with every guy. 

People were starting to watch, some of them even encouraging Bryce to beat up Nico, which was cruel, but Nico never said that life was any kinder. He knew he could defend himself if he wanted to. He wasn’t a totally helpless maiden. But somehow this wasn’t making him defensive, more like irritating him. He didn’t want to be stuck here. If he could, he would rather get out without a fight.

Bryce interrupted him “Shut your stupid mouth. I don’t want to look at ugly things like you.”

“You must hate mirrors, then,” Nico scoffed. Bryce growled, a vein starting to throb on his head and his stupid pale face going red with anger. Nico knew that Bryce wouldn’t hesitate to beat him up if he got mad, but seeing his enemy all riled up was going to be definitely worth it.

“Gay people like you don’t deserve to live. You should commit suicide, piece of shit,”

“What is your problem, is it too difficult to pronounce for you? I wasn’t bothering you. Let me go,” Nico struggled, but Bryce was double as heavy as him and stronger too. He sneered down at Nico, lifting his fist as if he were about to punch Nico.

He was about to punch Nico, Nico realized not too late.

“I’ll show you, you little faggot,”

Nico waited for the punch to his face, bracing himself for it. He knew he would regret not hitting Bryce back, but he wasn’t in a position to do so when his hands were pinned. He thought he could just see Bryce’s fist coming towards him, but someone’s pale hands stopped Bryce before he could make the impact.

“Hey hey hey, what do you think you are doing there?” A smooth voice asked calmly, and immediately Bryce backed off like he had been burned. Nico looked to the guy who had saved him from the punch, and his throat went dry again. Adonis was standing there, Nico’s English notes in hands, and a disapproving frown on his face as he stared down at Bryce. The people had cleared around him, giving the stranger weird stares and looking at Bryce to see how the bully would respond.

Bryce made a nasty face at him, “Who the hell are you?”

“None of your concern, young man. I’m here to talk to this boy urgently. Can he be excused?”

Adonis didn’t even wait for Bryce as he looked down back at Nico. He grabbed Nico’s hand, which were still sore from being pinned to the lockers. He pulled the Italian, going through the crowd which made way for him automatically.

“Where are you talking me?” Nico asked, trying not to stumble as Adonis took another left turn. The crowd thinned out and the bell shrilly over their heads “I have English class, let me go,”

“I need to talk to you,” Adonis muttered, heading to the empty staff room. The teachers had all left for their classes, probably, and it made Nico only more worried. Nico tried not to think of Adonis's cool hand wrapped over his wrist, or the fact that his pulse was skipping in nervousness now. Adonis came in and closed the door behind him, not quite looking Nico in the eye. Nico frowned as Adonis took a seat facing the door, and gestured for Nico to do too. Nico pulled back a chair, but didn’t sit. He smiled at the man “I’m sorry, but I really need to leave. Really.”

“I’ll try not to keep you waiting, then,” Adonis spoke, smiling at Nico, and Nico’s heart jumped again.

As beautiful Adonis looked from afar, he looked ten times as beautiful now. The harsh light of the room didn’t do him much justice, but his sea-green eyes were piercing as always. They looked stunning, far more than any human’s eyes should be. Nico found himself lost. Adonis's lips were perfectly kissable in that sweet smile, and damn the guy was pretty well built. Nico did not want to think of the things he could do with that guy.

“I’m Perseus, but call me Percy,” Adonis smiled lightly, halting Nico's thoughts.

“Percy,” Nico nodded, taking his English notes from the guy “Nice to meet you. I-I’m Nigelo di Ani- I mean, I’m Nico di Angelo,”

Nico found himself blushing. Damn, he couldn’t keep a clear head around this guy. Percy smiled knowingly, and looked like he could be grinning but was restraining himself. Nico didn’t know what to say, so he just coughed lightly into his hand.

Percy seemed to get the message “You need to go. Err, right. I’ll send you on your way. Would you like to meet today at Hestia’s Hearth? At 6 if you’re not busy? I want to know you better.”

“Uh, sure, yes. I- I’ll see,” Nico attempted to smile, and opened the door. He didn’t want to go, but he didn’t want to make a stuttering fool of himself either. He lingered in the doorway, wondering what the hell was wrong with him. Percy smiled at him, getting up too and nodding at him. “See you later, Nico di Angelo,”

 

Nico twirled his pencil, his face stuck in a pensive pout. He hated pencils with rubbers on the end, because he liked to suck the end of a pencil and rubbers were just filthy to suck at (don’t tell his bullies that. Nico’ll never hear the end of it).

But that wasn’t what was bothering him. He couldn’t truly put his finger on it, but there was this primal tug in his gut. You know that apprehensive feeling you get when you do something wrong and don’t want people to find out? How your stomach feels like it’s rolling and you don’t feel hungry at all? You wished you could undo whatever you had done because it wasn’t worth it?

Yes, Nico got that feeling. But Tartarus help him because he didn’t know what exactly he’d wronged.

Nico wanted it to just go away, so he dug his head into his arms. He knew that it wouldn’t vanish his anxiety, but at least he won’t look stupidly constipated in the middle of the class. It wouldn’t do for people looking at his screwed face. He’d rather smell someone’s dirty gym clothes.

“You okay, Neeks?” Someone asked, and Nico groaned “Leo, stop calling me Neeks.”

“Okay, Ninnikins,” Leo replied, grinning. Nico groaned again, holding his head up from his arms momentarily to squint at Leo darkly.

“I take back what I said. Call me whatever you want, just not that god-awful Ninnikins ever again.”

“Okay, Miss Princess Of Shadows, wake up,” Leo replied just as cheekily. Nico straightened himself, trying to fix his unruly hair.

“Gods, you’re not leaving me alone until I tell you what’s bothering me, will you?” Nico snorted to himself, and Leo grinned in affirmation.

Leo looked at Mr. Dionysus (or as students liked to call him, Mr. Big D), who was snoring happily on his seat, having concluded his class within the first five minutes of entering. Nico was just waiting to get home and do his homework, and truth be told he just couldn’t wait for six o’clock.

Then he realized that if he couldn’t make it in time to the cafè, he had no way of calling Adoni- Percy to tell him that he would be late.

“-ico? Hey, you there?”

“Sorry,” Nico blinked, then muttered sheepishly. Leo gave him a half-amused smirk, his brown eyes twinkling.

“so, what happened to you today?”

“Damn, Leo,” Nico began, smiling slightly (which was not unnoticed by Leo) “I talked to a guy before English, and we’re going out for coffee today. It isn’t a date, really. It’s not a date, but umm.. kinda a date? I don’t know. I don’t know much about him, actually. I don’t even know if he’s interested in me. He’s so beautiful, you know? I want to stare at him all day, but I don’t know why he unsettles me too. I’m very nervous. He’s got this beautiful voice and blue-green eyes that look like the ocean, and he looks like a Greek god that came down from heaven I swear-“

Nico was cut off when Leo began to laugh hysterically, and Nico hurriedly plastered his hand over Leo’s mouth to keep the teacher from waking. Mr. D snorted in his sleep, but didn’t wake up. Nico heaved a sigh of relief, but flinched his hand away when Leo licked it, giving Leo a look of disgust as he wiped his hand off on Leo’s shirt.

“Leo, shut it!” Nico whispered to Leo urgently. The students stared at them as Leo collected himself, wiping his eyes “Nico, you’ve got a bad, bad crush. You’re a goner, Nico. I’m regretting not taping that. It would’ve been the best blackmail material,”

Nico blushed, and threw the onlookers his death glare. His ears were burning, and he scowled at Leo “If you tell that to anyone—“

“I won’t, don’t worry,” Leo huffed, still chuckling a little “Damn, what did you get yourself into? How old is the guy?”

“I dunno,” Nico said thoughtfully “A college guy?”

“So you got a crush on a College boy?” Leo arched his eyebrows in amusement, still grinning like a loon. Nico looked around in mild paranoia again, then hissed at Leo “Keep your voice down, Repair Boy.”

“Repair Boy… that’s a first,” Leo muttered. Nico face-palmed, trying his best to stop blushing damnit. Leo still gave him fleeting glances of amusement, and Nico wondered if Leo was replaying the scene in his head. Leo was never gonna let Nico live it down. Ugh.

Nico ran his hand through his unruly hair that was falling around his face in curls. The metal bell rang again, and the class burst into conversations as Mr. Big D stood up and walked right out of the class like he hadn’t been sleeping for the past half hour.

“Come on, Lover Boy,” Leo beckoned Nico, and Nico glared at Leo angrily again “Leo, I promise you that you’ll die a very slow and painful death,”

Leo laughed like he found death threats amusing.

Chapter Text

Piper,” Nico groaned. It was already six, and Piper was still obsessing over his makeup. Makeup was not Nico’s idea nor his intention. Sure, he hated how he looked with his grayish skin tone and bags under his eyes, but makeup?

Nico swore as Piper dabbed his cheeks with something “Piper, I’m not a girl!”

“Makeup is not just for girls,” Piper finished, and blew over Nico’s eyelashes to get rid of extra powder “That’s what society teaches you. Makeup is for people who want to look good occasionally.”

Piper,” Nico glared at her, and she laughed nervously. Jason huffed from the sofa, filming the whole ordeal against Nico’s wishes. Nico looked at him pleadingly, like he was saying ‘get me out of this mess I beg you’, but Jason just clicked his tongue and chuckled. Nico felt betrayed, and pouted as he folded his hands over his chest. It was a bit childish, but he didn’t care.

The wind was howling lightly outside, and Nico didn’t want to do anything more than get away from Piper and rush to his not-date. He was already late, for gods’ sake! He mentally cursed Jason for calling Piper. Jason was happy that Nico was finally going on a date, but this was just cruel.

“What do you think, Jay?” Piper cooed from beside Nico, and Jason gave them a thumbs up “If I weren’t straight, I’d definitely tap that.”

“Don’t talk like that ever again,” Nico cringed, trying not to think about having sex with Jason “Can I see myself now? I’m already late,”

“You can,” Piper smiled, and passed him the hand-mirror. Nico fumbled with the handle for some moments, before he looked at himself.

His jaw dropped open, and he turned his head sideways. Piper had fixed the bags under his eyes to almost non-existence, which made him look healthier than he had expected it would. His eyes looked brighter and so did his lips. He looked… different. Finer. Better. It wasn’t too obvious, but it was definitely something.

“Holy mother of Jupiter,” Nico muttered “I look… wow. How come you don’t wear any makeup yourself?”

Piper giggled as she went to sit next to Jason, who slipped a hand around her waist and kissed her lightly before shutting the camera and handing it over to her.

“Darling, I look too pretty for makeup,” Piper said as Nico got up, plopping down on the sofa and ruffling up her already messy hair, which somehow suited her more. Nico nodded in wholehearted agreement, and couldn’t help but smile at the gorgeous work Piper had done on him.

“Now, I just need to dash over to Hestia’s Hearth. I hope he’s not already left,”

“If he leaves, he’ll be missing one hell of a fuck,” Jason said as he grabbed his keys “Get your ass in my car, I’ll fly you there,”

Nico blushed, but he wasn’t sure Jason could really see it over his makeup.


 

 Jason wasn’t kidding, and Nico learnt it the hard way. Nico got a mini heart attack every time Jason swerved their car around, which made Nico wildly wonder how many turns the road had. They barely dodged some cars, leaving the drivers spewing NC-17 language. Jason had a really calm expression through it all, as if he drove over fifty on busy lanes every day. One thing was certain, Nico was never going with Jason again.

Nico had to catch his breath for a moment against the wall when Jason dropped him off at the door of the prestigious Café, his head spinning from the rough swinging. He looked at his watch, and was relieved to find that he was just ten minutes late. Hopefully Percy would still be here…

Hestia’s Hearth was a beautiful place. While it was a bit costly, it was still large and had that homey feeling. The cocoa and coffee rich aroma wafted through the air. The wallpaper was a chocolate hue with small yellow outlines of cups drawn on it. The floor was a warm plywood and the ebony of the tables and counter really gave it a mocha finish. It was the kind of café you’d want to prowl around on one of your lazy afternoons.

“Can I help you get a table?”

Nico very nearly squeaked, but put a hand on his chest as he tried to calm his nerves. He was already jittery with the idea of having a (not) date with Percy, but that voice made him jump to his toes. His eyes flitted around once in the room. A barista looked at him expectedly, a tray of sandwiches and muffins balanced delicately on his hand.

Nico nodded “I’m… I’m here to meet someone…”

The man smiled at him knowingly, and nodded at him in understanding before passing on. Nico looked around, and finally he caught Percy’s eye. Percy was sitting back at the corner, an empty seat in front of him. The guy fiddled with his clothes a little as Nico approached him, and Nico couldn’t help the tiny smile that crept up his lips. He could get used to this.

“Uhm, hello,” Nico muttered as he took the seat in front of Percy, feeling grateful because his knees were already wobbly. Percy smiled at him nervously, taking off his jacket only to reveal his full-sleeved green shirt underneath. Percy hung it on his chair’s backrest and turned to him.

“I was beginning to think you won’t come,”

“Sorry,” Nico apologized, trying not to trip over his words “I- I got a little held up,”

“I understand.” Percy smiled comfortingly, and damn that disarming smile that made Nico’s stomach do backflips. Nico hesitatingly grinned back at him, not knowing what to say since this was his first date. Shit, what do you do on dates?

Percy handed him the menu, which Nico grabbed with clumsy hands. His heart was slightly racing in his chest, like he had just come from a run, and his hands were clammy already. Percy smirked at him, like he could actually hear Nico’s sprinting heartbeat.

“I already had my fill,” Percy’s smile wavered when Nico’s face fell “Oh, you can eat, I don’t mind, sorry,”

Nico frowned, but he couldn’t stay disappointed for long when he was sitting opposite to Percy. He ordered a chocolate muffin, but nothing more. Percy looked a little bit guilty, and Nico just wished he had the right to wipe that guilt off Percy’s face.

“I’m sorry,” Percy apologized again, and Nico waved it off “S’okay.”

“I do not do this often,” Percy gestured to the table in front of them, like it was a legit explanation for his slight awkwardness. Maybe it was.

Nico cocked an eyebrow “Go on a date?”

“Drink coffee at cafés.” Percy explained, but he looked slightly confused as he raised one of his perfect eyebrows “I wasn’t aware this was a date…”

Nico’s eyes widened, and he opened and closed his mouth multiple times before settling on an answer “I didn’t know… is this a date? I don’t mean—“

“It’s whatever you want it to be,” Percy smiled faintly again, winking at Nico, and Nico’s face heated a little. Nico settled for eating his cupcake to hide his flaming face. He was, for once, grateful for all the makeup. At least he wouldn’t make a red-faced fool of himself.

“So,” Percy began after a few moments of silence as Nico finished his cupcake and wiped the crumbs off “Do they do that often?”

“Who?” Nico wondered, looking at Percy for a clue.

“The boys who were bothering you at school,”

“Oh, not really,” Nico said, a little carefully “They don’t do this regularly. You just found me on a bad day. They like to prey on the weak.”

Percy’s smile melted away from his face, and he looked away to the printed wall. The green-eyed guy shifted uncomfortably, like he had committed a crime and was now really regretting it. Nico ran through his sentences again, his heart hammering. Did he speak anything wrong? Gods, he didn’t want to screw up his first date.

“The weather’s changing,” Nico said conversationally, because what was more anticlimactic than talking about the weather? Percy looked glad for the subject change and looked outside the glass windows. He nodded in affirmation, but his face was too pensive for someone who was observing the seasonal changes.

“Yes, seems like times are changing,”

Nico pursed his lips. The sentence seemed like a riddle, somehow. He didn’t understand what Percy was trying to convey, but then Percy smiled at him comfortingly again and the bundle of nerves inside Nico’s chest eased a little.

“So you have friends?”

“Obviously,” Nico grinned “I live with one. I’m not very unsocial. I just don’t like talking without any reason,”

“I can deduce that,” Percy’s brilliant eyes sparkled, and he looked genuinely happy at Nico’s happiness “Did you do something to your face?”

Nico colored again a little “A- a little makeup. My friend was insisting.”

“You look better without it, I must insist. I like it when you’re all natural. Your skin glows a bit,” Percy said, his brilliant eye traveling down the features of Nico’s face like he was committing it to memory. It made shivers of anticipation crawl down Nico’s spine.

“Why d’you talk like this?” Nico asked, trying to not feel aroused at Percy’s heated gaze. Percy blinked.

“Like what?”

“Like you’re from a random old movie,” Nico tried making a comparison. Percy’s accent wasn’t that English. More like, a mix of accents that Nico had never heard before. The accent was making him slightly uncomfortable, but only because he was still in denial about how hot it was. Being Italian, Nico also had a weird accent, but after living so many years in America, it had caught up to him a little.

“Old habits die hard,” The corners of Percy's lips quivered up in an amused grin, not showing any teeth and still managing to look cocky. His eyes sparkled mischievously as if the sentence held an inside joke. Well, everything he said had double meanings, it seemed. It was making Nico frustrated.

“So… tell me about your family,” Nico tried. Percy looked like he hadn’t expected it, but did a good job of covering up his surprise. His lips held a fond smile, but his eyes looked troubled.

“I… I live in a… rather large joint family, you can say,” Percy shrugged nonchalantly, but Nico wasn’t fooled. Nico knew that Percy was trying to hide something under that calm exterior “I do not really like them, but I’ve got to live with them. What about your family?”

Nico shifted a little, breaking eye contact “My mother and sister… they died five years ago. My dad lives alone with his new girlfriend. I live here with my half-sister,”

“Oh, I-I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware.” Percy’s voice wavered a little. Nico smiled tightly at him, and Percy looked overly-apologetic.

“I got over them.” Nico said, trying to be reassuring. He knew he won’t calm Percy, but it was worth a try. 

“You don’t have the American accent either,” Percy said, steering the conversation away from the sore spots and into more comfortable lands. Nico straightened his back, and pursed his lips.

“I’m Italian,” Nico said. Percy’s eyes widened, then he chuckled lowly, hiding his grin with his pale hands. He was clearly laughing, but Nico didn’t know what was so humorous.

“Italian,” Percy snorted through his palm, and shook his head to kill his mirth “Italian,”

“What’s so funny?” Nico asked, trying not to go red with his embarrassment.

Percy was beginning to answer, but then something shone in Nico’s peripheral vision and he turned.

Now, if he wasn’t completely saturated with gay, what he saw would’ve definitely made him straight. A woman smiled at them with closed lips, and had the same pale shade of her skin as Percy’s. Her lips were redder and fuller, and gods was she beautiful. Her face was framed with pretty locks of curly hair that looked so golden that one would think that someone had woven them from the sun itself. Her eyes were grey and striking like a stormy sky. Nico’s head filled with alarm, but he couldn’t help but gape as he watched her approach him with hardly suppressed glee.

“Percy!” she greeted, and more than a few men around the café checked her out. Nico couldn’t blame them, really. The woman did look angelic. She had a good bust, and she looked like god had himself carved her.

“Annie!” Percy called, and she giggled as she stole a chair from the next table and sat herself. Annie kissed Percy on both cheeks quickly, and Percy did the same. The sparkle of affection in Percy’s eyes were not lost on Nico. Nico briefly wondered if this was Percy’s girlfriend, or maybe ex?

“Who’s this?” The Annie asked, her beautiful eyes settling on Nico. Percy smiled toothlessly again. Thinking about it, Nico had never really seen Percy’s teeth. But Nico didn’t have time to continue that train of thought. He felt really tiny compared to Annie and Percy’s devilish good looks. Annie winked at him, like she could read his thoughts.

“Annabeth, Nico di Angelo. Nico, Annabeth Chase.” Percy introduced politely, and Annabeth lit up again.

“So this is the boy you keep talking about?” She said happily. She turned sharply to Nico, holding his face in her hands. Her palms were cool, cool like Percy’s fingers had been on his wrist this morning. Was it the same day? It felt like a week ago.

“He’s Italian,” Percy chuckled, and Annabeth held her palm to her mouth as she laughed quite loudly “Oh, of all the things you could be, you’re Italian?”

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being Italian,” Nico defended distractedly, but his mind was focusing more on the chill of Annabeth’s fingernails against his feverish temple. He shivered unnoticeably as her eyes excitedly traveled over his features “Veronica… oh my god, Veronica, I can’t believe it,”

Nico had no idea what Annabeth was mumbling about, but he saw that Percy looked wistful all of a sudden. He smiled, his eyes clouding dreamily.

“He does resemble her, right?”

The was a dense silence at their table as Annabeth tilted Nico’s head. Her voice was barely a whisper when she finally spoke, but had an air of finality “He looks more like... Nero,”

Percy stilled, just like stone. He did look like an ancient Greek marble statue, carved to perfection. A scowl rose on his face. “Don’t,” Percy’s voice was sharp and painful as he spat at Annabeth venomously “Do not even attempt to say his tainted name in my presence,”

“Percy,” Annabeth looked at him, pity reflecting in her eyes, but Percy’s eyes remained tightly closed “I thought you got over hi-“

“That is none of your concern,” Percy spoke, his voice thick like he could cry any minute “Please, don’t. I- I don’t want to talk about him. You already know what my thoughts are about him and… and Luke. We’ve been over that once,”

Annabeth nodded, kissing Nico’s forehead once and hiding her sudden wince at the ‘Luke’ guy’s name. Her lips were like soft snow on his face, and Nico tried not to shiver. His heart was still racing. What the hell were they talking about? Why was Percy so touchy about Nero and Veronica? Who were Nero and Veronica? Who on Olympus was Luke?

Annabeth gave him a warning look, and it was Nico’s turn to be confused again. Did he speak his thoughts out loud? He didn’t know if he had.

“Oh,” Annabeth had gotten up, but turned around “Actually, I came here to tell you that it’s late. You’ve got to come home. Uhm… Family’s waiting for your move,”

Percy looked outside. True to her word, the outside was getting dark. The lights in the café seemed brighter, and stifling too. Nico suddenly wanted to get out of here. The air seemed too suffocating and hot.
Annabeth walked out, but Nico didn’t even look at her go. He made eye contact with Percy, opening his mouth to ask him, but Percy beat him to it.

“Later. I’ll tell you later, I promise,” He said, a little gravely. “Hope she didn’t intimidate you much.”

Nico smirked a little, but he couldn’t keep the hope out of his voice “So, there’s gonna be a later?”

“Oh, definitely,” Percy smiled again, and Nico was relieved that the atmosphere had relaxed a little. Seriously, would this be the way their relationship would proceed? Percy did look like he went hot and cold every moment. Nico didn’t know how to people. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“You have to leave now. It’s not safe wandering the city after dark. I’ll meet you tomorrow at your school, yes?”

“Okay,” Nico smiled at him, “So… Annabeth… was she your ex...?”

Percy looked at him, caught off guard for a moment, but then smiled good naturedly “People assume that we’ve been in a relationship, but I assure you we’re just siblings in all but bl-… flesh. She’s family,”

Nico nodded, and Percy pulled out his keys “Do you need a ride home?”

“I’ll be fine, I'll take a taxi,” Nico smiled as he got up. Percy got off too, fetching his jacket from the chair back, escorting him to outside the café. The cold air blew over them, And Nico shivered involuntarily. Percy looked at him, raising his eyebrows “You want my jacket?”

“I- I’ll take it,” Nico bit his lip. Percy complied without any complaints, and put his jacket around Nico’s shoulders. Nico tried not to smile too widely up at him, but Percy looked rather pleased.

“You look good in my clothes,” Percy smiled, and Nico blushed a little. Nico fidgeted with the collar, a salty seashore-like smell hitting him, and he wondered if this was how Percy smelled. Like the sea. It suited the man perfectly.

“I bet you look better with your clothes on the floor,” Nico grinned at Percy, and Percy smiled like he couldn’t believe Nico was flirting back. He looked like he could’ve been blushing, but was trying not to.

“I bet you look better with your clothes on my floor,” Percy replied just as teasingly, and Nico’s ears burned. Nico dug his fingers into the fabric, pulling Percy’s jacket closed and taking a deep breath. He gestured a taxi over, and as the taxi turned, Percy took both of Nico’s palms in his hands.

“Nico, promise me one thing. Promise that you will not leave your home after dark, no matter how urgent your work is, without telling me. I’ll give you my number, but I want you to take this very seriously.”

“Okay,” Nico said, trying not to lose himself into the heady scent of Percy’s jacket “I promise, here’s my cell,”

“Great,” Percy fiddled with the device, clicking the buttons too fast to follow. Nico found he didn’t want to. He just wanted to take this jacket and drown in it.

“Here,” Percy handed it back, and it clearly showed a new contact. ‘Percy Jackson’. Nico sniffled at the name, thinking that he’d change it later. He pocketed his phone quickly, and blinked up at Percy.

Percy looked at him, smiling fondly, and kissed Nico’s forehead “You’re adorable. Stay safe, okay?”

“Okay,” Nico went and sat in the passenger’s seat of the taxi. He spoke his address, noting slightly how Percy listened in not too sneakily. He waved slightly as Percy’s figure became tinier as the taxi made its way down the street. Just before Percy’s figure melted from his vision, the guy turned and ran straight into the side with what appeared to be inhuman speed. Shaking it off as a trick of the dimming light, Nico turned and slumped into his seat.

Chapter Text

Nico woke up pretty early the next day, and his head throbbed from sleep-deprivation. He winced, turning over hoping that his headache would diminish, but he put his foot down when it begun to felt like there was a drill poking holes into his skull.

He winced as he downed a painkiller. The sun was still behind the clouds as the first golden rays peeked over the horizon, painting trees and buildings alike with red and gold. He tried to go to sleep, he really did, but after his headache lessened to almost non-existence did he realize that he’d most likely lay there tossing and turning futilely.

He instead fished his Apple from under his pillow. The light glared from his screen at him, and he had to squint as he felt the it digging into his retina in the dim light. He found Percy’s name on his contacts pretty quickly, and his dry lips quirked up in an almost wry smile as he named it ‘Sea Princess’

Nico’s thumb paused over the ‘send’ button, but figuring that he had nothing to lose, sent a ‘good morning’, to Percy. A new day had started for him.

 

Jason watched over the morning news, something he’d recently started to do after Piper had come into his life. Nico didn’t know why he did it, but it was a good practice anyway, so he didn’t mind.

“Look at this,” Jason mused loudly. The news was screaming about a man who lived with ten pink poodles. The guy was wearing a shimmering white coat, a black shirt under it and blue jeans, his hair balding subtly and a huge crooked smile on his face as he enthusiastically talked about a heavily dyed poodle named Sexy.

“That’s gay,” Nico said, as he stirred his daily cup of coffee to spread the grounds evenly.

Jason snorted heavily, “You’re gay,”

“Not relevant,” Nico said almost lazily, putting the spoon down on the counter as he grinned and sat down next to Jason on the couch. The mattress deflated a little under his weight, and Hazel could be heard snoring from her room. It was still time before they had to get ready for school, so Nico put a rain check on waking her.

Jason flipped mindlessly through the channels, before a headline caught his eye.

Dude, Nico, watch this,”

The scene was ghastly, like something out of a disgusting horror movie. Three bodies lay by the brick wall beside a bottle green dumpster, mutilated and torn to shreds in a gruesome way. Bodily tissues were splattered up the walls like there had been a violent fight with juicers and saws, while flies were mottled around the flesh like cancerous tissue in a tumor. The white bone was showing up from their serrated skin, stark against all the red. Nico felt nauseous.

“The police are baffled,” The reporter said, a young man with brown disheveled hair and tired looking eyes like he’d rather prefer to be the dead victim than doing this job “Three bodies have been found four in the morning in a secluded part of the city. It is said to be reported by a man who happened to be walking his dog ungodly early. The three people, as mutilated as they are, are yet to be identified, though reportedly they have been out the whole night. Their slaughter seems to be painful and gruesome. However, this is not the first murder of its kind. Another case of a woman found strewn across the road had resurfaced not weeks earlier, and there are over seven people who’ve gone missing this month. The police are in a dilemma, since there happens to be no evidence of anyone else being present here save for the victims, along with absolutely no blood anywhere on the scene of crime. Whoever was behind this, had somehow removed all the blood from the body of their victims, which was thought to be scientifically impossible until now it seems.

“New Yorkers are advised to stay in their homes after sundown, and not go out at all after nightfall if possible. You’re advised to sleep with your doors and windows closed, and not leave your children alone anywhere. You-…”

Jason turned towards Nico, muting the TV set. Nico was still watching the guy’s lips move soundlessly. He was too shocked to do anything. Percy’s voice kept repeating in his mind ‘Promise that you will not leave your home after dark, no matter how urgent your work is, without telling me.’.

The news wasn’t the most alarming part. The scariest part was that he recognized the place. It was just three alleys down their chain of bungalows.

Hazel’s alarm shook them both off their trances, and Jason quickly switched off the TV like it would make the reality disappear. Nico got up, going to Hazel’s room to see her stretching her arms and groaning angrily. Nico’s mouth quirked up in a semblance of a smile as he turned on the light, and he realized that he would do anything to save the sister he had. Even fight monsters.

 

While school time approached quickly, Nico felt nervous about going without makeup. He felt more… naked, like all his faults were laid out in front of him for the world to see. He couldn’t help but subconsciously burrow into Jason’s embrace, with Jason’s arm around his shoulder securing him in a feeling of false safety. He didn’t know why, but it felt as if the murders weren’t just accidents. It felt like he was… included in the intricate web of the planning leading into the killing, for the lack of a better way to describe his anxiety.

A little part of him inflated as he saw Percy, but he quickly smothered it down as he felt the distress in which the guy was in. It was strange, as if he could sense Percy’s feelings from the look on the guy’s face alone. The guy in question was standing under the shade of the tree he used to often, hissing vehemently at none other than Annabelle Chase. Nico frowned, slipping out of Jason’s hold and muttering a quick apology as he walked over.

“Annie,” Percy sounded desperate, and Annabeth looked at him like she had to forcefully deal with a rebellious teenager “Listen, I can’t,”

“Can’t what? Get a better life for yourself? You can’t take care of Gaea forever! I know how much it has destroyed you, and you can’t let that go on,”

“Gaea has nothing to do with my decision, and nor my thoughts. And you know it,” Percy snapped, sounding more venomous than Nico’d ever heard anyone be “I cannot abandon her. Not now after Kronos’s resurfaced again,”

Nico furrowed his brow in confusion. While he was still trying to make his footsteps as low as possible, and keeping his rebellious heart from beating too hard, he couldn’t help but wonder what the hell Percy and Annabelle meant.

“You’ll break,” Annabeth said, her voice a little in anguish as well as a desperate plea like she was soothing a scapegoat “I- your thoughts are more…unorderly. You never used to be this hyped.”

Now that Nico was closer, he could see the faint pink scars on Percy’s face, as well as the purplish bruises under Percy’s eyes, standing out from the shimmering papery skin that Percy and Annabelle sported.

What caught Nico’s attention was that Percy’s eyes were not his usual oceanic green, but a furious crimson rose-red that sparkled ominously like freshly split blood. Percy looked vaguely threatening, and for the first time since he set his mind did he hesitate to move forward.

“I’ve survived history, Annabeth, I think it’s low of you to think me as so fragile—“ He cut off, his eyes wide as he saw Nico approaching them cautiously “Oh, hey, Nico.”

Nico mentally corrected the name. Annabeth. Not Annabelle. He grinned weakly at Percy and nodded at the recognition, but Percy didn’t return the grin.

“I’ll talk to you at our manor,” Percy said, his cerise eyes not leaving Nico’s. Nico was in fact quite taken by his beautiful ruby eyes, and while it wasn’t as beautiful as Percy’s brilliant sea-green, it was still breathtaking. Well, there was practically nothing that wasn’t breathtaking about Percy.

Annabeth nodded, and taking her subtle cue to leave she slipped past the pair into the footpath, seemingly retracing her steps. Nico didn’t care.

“Did you wear contacts?” Nico blurted out, then slapped a hand over his lips. Percy, on the face of it, came out of his reverie and smiled weakly, his scars shimmering silver slightly.

“No, what gave you that idea, lovely?”

Nico thought he blushed a little, but he didn’t know. He wanted to say something eloquent, but Percy was looking him in a half-amused heated gaze and it was hard to form coherent words. “I— Your eyes are sea-green, but today they’re red.”

“Oh, are they?” Percy frowned, then straightened imperceptibly. He looked gravely towards the trees surrounding them, his hands inching up to his hair to ruffle it more.  Then he looked back at Nico, looking slightly apologizing, but he hadn’t lost his amusement.

“I wish I knew what to say,” Percy shook his head like he was remembering something fond “I am not good with people,”

“Well, neither am I?” Nico supplied, feeling a bit awkward. He didn’t know what to say or do. And by the looks of it, so wasn’t Percy. The guy shook his head, like he was trying to decide something, and smiled sheepishly “Well, no use beating round the bush. I wanted to tell you that we can no longer meet.”

“Wait,” Nico looked at him, his eyes hinting how ridiculously offended he was “Hold up, you’re breaking it up before we even started our thing?”

“I wasn’t aware there was a thing to start with,” Percy arched his brow, slumping into the park bench very efficiently placed right under a slightly withering apple tree. Nico pulled his eyebrows in confusion, desperate to understand what was going on with Percy’s mind “And, it’s for your own good,”

“Don’t go theatric on me,” Nico said, faltering a little when Percy tiredly dug his face into his palms, sighing almost inaudibly. Nico folded his hands over his chest and sat down next to him with a motive of not speaking loud, feeling quite foolish, and definitely not worth it “Wait, am I not enough for you? I—I understand if you want someone more beautiful-ler than me, but—“

“Oh, what makes you think that?” Percy gasped slightly, his head shooting up from his palms in less than a second, so quickly that Nico had a jolt of worry that he’ll break his fucking neck “I think you’re beautiful,”

“Well, don’t get sappy on me either,” Nico scowled towards Percy, who was now feeling Nico’s face with very cold fingers. No, Nico didn’t have any complaints with Percy touching his face, especially when he was getting pleasurable sparks wherever Percy’s skin was touching his, but it didn’t necessarily mean that this was the right time for it. Percy couldn’t just drop a bomb on him like that and pretend to be sappy the next minute. What was he, bipolar?

Percy sighed “I do not know what to do, Nico,” Percy shifted reluctantly, finally retracting his fingers like Nico had just speared him “I feel very conflicted. And, I know for certain that I’m not good for you. If you want to lead a happy life, I’d rather you leave me and pursue other boys,”

“Do you even know how stupid that sounds,” Nico huffed, wanting to slap Percy and then hug him “What are you, a monster who wants to eat me?”

Those red eyes looked rather mirthlessly amused as they connected with Nico’s “You don’t know how close to accuracy you are, but I’ll leave that upon you to pursue my grim secret or not.” Percy shrugged like he didn’t care “Either way, I certainly am not going to do you any good, you should distance yourself from me.”

“Let me be the judge of that, okay?” Nico said softly, brushing a bang off Percy’s beautiful eyes “So…uhm… do you really want to get together?”

“I honestly do, Nico, but we cannot continue like this,” Percy made to get up “And anyway, I’m much too busy to pursue a relationship with you,”

“It is me, isn’t it,” Nico snapped, both angrily and bitterly “I’m not enough for you, right? I saw this coming, to be honest, but I didn’t think you’ll be so... cold,”

“Oh, trust me Nico, I am colder than you can possibly think of,” Percy gave him a mirthless tight smirk “I think you will see me later at school today. Do not attempt to talk to me,”

Nico growled, fisting his hands into the pocket of his jacket to keep from wanting to punch that smirk right off his face. He watched as Percy stalked off, every slumped step more graceful than Nico could ever try. Nico clenched his jaw. Did Percy just dump him before they even got started? This was so unfair!

Nico’s eyes burned and he stopped himself from sobbing pathetically as he approached Jason with an angry stalk of his own. Jason held his hands up, his eyes following Percy as the guy disappeared behind the school gates and then to Nico, who looked like he was having one of his sad episodes again. Nico knew that Jason would want to soothe him and support him like fucking mother he was, but Nico didn't have time for Jason's 'supportive-big-bro' speech. 

“Was that your—“

“Yeah,” Nico spat bitterly, shouldering his bag moodily “He’s an ass. Can we have this conversation later? I think I want to murder someone.”

Chapter Text

The scent of grief and fear was so heavy in the air it was almost palpable. The mist was heavily suspended around, making even breathing or talking unpleasant. The morose atmosphere seemed like the weather was itself bracing for a war. Maybe it was? Nico wasn’t much sure.

There wasn’t much talking going on in class. Most of the people were scared shitless that no less than three people can be murdered on a single night in one of the busiest parts of the city. Rumors streaked across masses like wildfire, each as unlikely as the next. It was highly unsettling for Nico, since it did little to lift his already low spirits.

Percy was such a fucking douche.

All his thoughts centered miserably on his unrequited love interest, and he couldn’t help but find that pathetic. Even the sun refused to shine through the persistent humidity, making everything seem twice as colder and stuffy.

“It’s like trying to breathe in the bottom of the ocean,” Will had complained accurately, who was more irritated by the lack of sun more than anything else he said. Nico scowled further, since the mention of the ocean made him remember Percy and, by extension, his pathetic lovesickness too.

“You could all stop breathing for all I care,” Nico had snapped saltily, and Will had looked at him with an amused smirk like it was fun to see Nico’s moody antics.

He was lifted a little by Leo again, who’s infectious omnipresent cheeriness was hard not to assist. Leo’s slightly witty humor and some sillier jokes made Nico crack a smile more than one too many times. Nico embraced the distraction, since it was his only solace right then.

Students piled in the vast school ground by the time assembly rolled over, And Nico scowled darkly at the people who pushed and shouldered past him. Jason found him crushed between a guy with a basketball for a stomach and another who looked like a uterus from his intense workout. Jason looked pitifully at the smaller boy, but Nico waved it off. He had been through worse, he reasoned for his slight listlessness.  

The assembly droned on in the surrounding, it could have been a bee buzzing next to his ears for all the attention Nico gave it. He puffed out his cheeks, clenching and unclenching his hands like he was giving a ghost a handjob and slumped in his seat. He rolled his eyes in faint exasperation, wishing for all the worlds that he’d stayed back home. This day sucked.

“Ugh, Hello,” A voice loudly blared through the speakers, and Nico looked up faster than someone could’ve ever said ‘tutu’(not that anyone would have a creative enough reason to say tutu, but nevertheless). Nico knew that voice anywhere. Partly because he heard this voice not long today in the morning. And then too, he’d been aching to hear it for hours.

Was Percy doing this intentionally just to rile Nico up?

“Good morning,” the crappy microphone and speakers had somehow not diminished the quality of his voice even a bit, and Nico still shivered when it lethargically washed over him like a tidal wave. He could see a few girls pointing and squealing towards the stage, where none other than Percy Jackson was standing behind the mike. Nico knew that Percy had a body to die for, one that looked very appealing under that cyan button-down full sleeved shirt Percy wore, but also the long black trousers that made him seem like a real English gentleman. Percy was perfect in every sense, so it gave the girls every right to appreciate the man. However, Nico had learnt bitterly, appearances could be deceptive.

Nico only wished he had the right to be standing there next to the Greek god, glaring at those who ogled his perfect boyfriend.

“May I catch your attention?” Even Percy’s stern voice sent shudders through the crowd like waves on the surface of the sea, and Nico noticed that all of them weren’t pleasant shivers. The gossip quieted down a little, and the smothering movement of the sea of people ceased. He could now see the man clearly.

Jason stiffened beside Nico, as did Frank. Frank looked downright murderous as he glared at the Greek hero like he wanted to personally torture the boy to death. It was unnerving and scary, since Frank was usually the kind of guy who seemed to be cool as a calm bear, like one of those backdated countryside grandpas. Frank thrusted his fists in his shirt, uneasily shifting from one foot to another.

“Thank you. As it may have come to your attention, three murders have been committed last night,” Percy smiled pleasantly like he had just announced he had been named Miss Universe, though with a subtle noticeable strain and paused for effect. The crowd visibly slumped, like they really needed the grim reminder of the event “In light of them, I’ve come here to speak to warn you that while I am not a cop, I have information that will probably help you live past what seems to be the beginning of a killing spree,”

More whispers broke amok the groups of people, like bees buzzing in a dense hive. Percy paused briefly, his bright crimson eyes flitting over the heads of the students.

“Never, ever, leave your home past sundown. And I do mean never. Sleep in a room with windows closed and lights out. Spritz yourself with perfume a lot. Avoid dark areas, like alleys. Do not stay together in groups, against popular opinion, since we’ll only have more causalities. Avoid going to areas which are scarcely populated, since should you face a criminal you would have a chance to be rescued in case you’re somewhere with a lot of people. Do not question strange people. And if you have any sort of injury or smell of blood, god help you but don’t ever place a foot outside your house. And while these all sound very unusual or strange, I suggest you follow what I say if you do not want to end up a mangled corpse.”

He smiled slightly like he was pleased with the mental picture.

“Heed my advice because I speak these for everyone’s best interest. This world needs no more causalities a day than there already are.”

The corners of his lips lifted ever so lightly as he glanced as the murmuring flocks, and his unruly mane of jet black hair caught the gentle breeze of the fog. His skin blended well with the heavy clouds around him, making him look absolutely ethereal and beautiful, like Eros had himself descended from the heights of Mount Olympus.

Nico scowled deeper, hitting his head with his knuckles “Stupid Nico, stupid Nico,” He admonished quietly. Jason looked at him wildly, like he was questioning Nico’s sanity, but then shrugged and looked forward again.

“Thank you very much,” Percy looked through the crowd once again, and as if the fates had cruelly planned this moment themselves, he looked straight through the unruly rows and columns of heads full of hair to look at Nico right in the eye.

A lazy smirk grew up his lips as he unclamped his hands from the mike stand and dug them into his trouser pockets. Nico wanted to look away. He really did, but Percy held his gaze like a physical string in the air. Nico swallowed, waiting for Percy’s action. Then, almost unmistakably, Percy tipped his chin up invitingly and winked.

 

“Move!” Nico called as he pushed past lots of people. There were times when he was really angry at how small he was, and there were times like these where he found his lithe build a blessing. He darted and squeezed through small spaces, making people all round him curse and sputter.

His feet hurt a little, and his lungs screamed for more oxygen. Nico panted, but unwilling to stop he continued anyway.

He desperately wanted to see Percy and ask the guy what was it about. Percy had, without hiding any of his deviousness, winked straight at him. a group of girls standing in front of him had erupted in squeals thinking that Percy had winked at one of them, but Nico knew better. he had stood there dumbly, his hands suspended in midair as he tried to make sense of everything.

He found Percy just near the school gates talking with the school guard, and he pumped his legs faster. If Percy crossed those iron railings, Nico would never catch him. Argus would hold him back, Nico knew it.

“Nico?” Percy wheeled around, like he had caught Nico’s scent like a predatory lion sniffed out gazelle, but Nico refused to acknowledge the metaphor. Nico skidded to a halt right in front of Percy, ignoring Argus completely, breathing hard. His scalp burned and his hair stuck wetly to his forehead with sweat. Percy looked at him, his crimson eyes not betraying his hostility. Nico groaned, wishing he could roll down to the ground and just lay there, but he forced himself to talk.

“What- was— that?” He wheezed, feeling faint. Percy cocked his brow, like he wasn’t one who had flirted with someone who he had very recently dumped.

“What that?” Percy asked, “I do not know what you are talking about. I should leave,”

“You piece of shit, You’re going nowhere ‘til you answer me,” Nico rasped, but with an air of finality “Why did you wink at me?”

Percy pulled a face, rising on the balls of his feet nervously as he dug his fists into his pocket. Dead grass crunched under his shoes as Nico tapped his foot, reminding him that fall wasn’t far. Percy puckered his brow “That was a spur of the moment mistake, I regret it a lot,”

“I can see that. What are you trying to do?” Nico demanded, growling a little as his breath returned to his lungs and he could finally smell the moisture in the air “You flirt with me, take me on a date, unceremoniously dump me the next day, and on the very same day wink at me in front of the whole fucking school,”

“Nice summary, di Angelo,” Percy sneered, his lips a nasty frown. Nico wouldn’t be surprised if he’d grown fangs then and there with how hostile and angry he looked “If that’s what you wanted to tell me, you just did. Let me go now.”

“Percy-“ Nico made to grasp Percy’s forearm, but Percy withdrew sharply, hissing through his lips “I thought we were on first name terms,”

Percy looked at him like he loathed the guy, and the thought alone sent painful jabs in Nico’s heart like he was being electrified. Anxiety and sadness ached in his chest as Percy spat at him “I thought I made it clear I didn’t want to talk to you,”

Nico felt like he was dropped naked in a field of icicles. He wasn’t about to show any weakness though. This man couldn’t belittle him so abruptly like that and get away with it. He didn’t exactly self-loathe so much “You’re being arrogant, irrational and a drama queen, you know what?”

“So what if I am,” Percy snapped, glaring at him “Get away from me. I do not want to talk to someone as pitiful and ugly as you,”

Nico looked at him straight in the eye, his own burning with unshed tears as he raised his hand and slapped Percy right across the cheek.

Nico’s hand burned, both where he had slapped the guy and the place where Percy held his wrist tightly. Percy’s red irises looked equal parts threatening, shocked and furious, like the burning embers of a fire, and Nico wanted to get away and run. His heart beat fast as an animalistic snarl ripped from Percy’s throat, making his hair stand on its end. 

“Do not attempt to talk to me again,” Percy spat acidly, then releasing Nico’s arm abruptly he walked away with a spiteful anger.

 

“Nico, it’s been two days, stop sulking,”

“I’m not sulking,” Nico said, but the words sounded unconvincing even to him. Jason closed the glass door, and Nico shivered when the cool air stopped.

The room reeked of musk and autumn and the bite of the unusual dawn frost, or maybe not so unusual after all. The leaves were starting to rust into what would be a lovely red by the end of the month, and Nico couldn’t help but want the cool, kind caress of fall. Although the fall reminded him of crystal lakes and pretty weather, it also held a promise of a cold, harsh winter. And while Nico loved Winters like his favorite flavor of ice-cream, this winter seemed bleak and dry and very much dead.

Jason scoffed, “You aren’t my ass. Now heave your butt up cuz Hazel and I are going picking aaaapples. We know you like apples. Don’t you, Nico?”

He imitated waving his hands excitably and winking like a dad to a teenage son, and Nico did feel like Jason was being smothering. He groaned, rolling over and giving Jason a half amused smirk.

“Fuck off, Jay, it’s a Sunday. I’ve got more things to do than pick red swollen ovaries off an organism’s body,”

“oh, yeah? Like?” Jason turned his eyebrows.

“Sulking?” Nico suggested genuinely.

“Aha!” Jason jumped, grinning and hauling Nico right off the bed with his arms “So you admit you’re sulking. Get your shit together, bro. Percy ain’t worth half your efforts, I bet my ass. It’s time you go booty shopping with me. I’d show you some good men around here,”

“Yeah, great, I do live for men and pizza.” Nico agreed halfheartedly, chuckling, but he couldn’t help the genuine smile at Jason’s enthusiasm “Where’s Hazel?”

“She’s waiting for you,” Jason grinned “I think she’s tired of our antics,”

Your,” Nico corrected, popping his bones “Anyone would be,”

“Get ready, or do I have to drag you outside half-naked?” Jason grinned, his beam widening as Nico yelped when Jason slapped his butt. Giving Jason a withering glare, he slipped on a thermal and a shirt, slinging Percy’s jacket over it.

“Le’s go,” Nico mumbled, shrugging it on and wondering quite achingly why the Jacket hadn’t lost its nostalgic scent yet “I hope you know what you’re driving us into,”

 

“I didn’t deserve this!” Nico hissed in frustration as he kicked another stone against the bark of a tree. Hazel chuckled, her eyes darting over the purpling bruise blooming over Nico’s forearm “Quit being a wimp, Nico. Whatever possessed you to trip over that rock barrel straight into a tree, it still seems hilarious. I wish I’d gotten it on tape,”

“Well, he isn’t going to hug trees for a while."  Jason chuckled behind her, tossing an apple into his empty basket "Wow, look at this red beauty,”

“You two are a pair of douchebags. I was already having bad feelings about coming out here,” Nico muttered, wiping his nose and wincing at the feeling of small pieces of tree bark still grating against his skin “I’d better go return this thing,”

He gestured at his jacket, but Hazel wasn’t looking. Jason nodded at him, giving him a thumbs up. Hazel grunted too, though she was busy concentrating to reach for an apple on her tiptoes. Nico turned and mulched his way through layers of decomposition, trying not to step on any rotten apples, or gods forbid, another rock. He winced as the leaves squished with wet sounds as he stepped over the morning dew, reminding him slightly of rotten fish or octopuses. Hazel and Jason’s voices melted into the underbrush by the time he emerged from the woods. Dropping his very empty apple basket on Jason’s Car’s hood and grabbing himself a rainbow lollipop, he whistled as he idly trotted down the roughly cobbled road.

His eye flitted to a strange guy by the side of the road, sitting on a large weathered mossy rock and a nasty smirk on his face. A crooked scar rippled across his eyepatch as his grin widened, his one black eye looking Nico up and down and he nodded “Ethan Nakamura. Looking for help?”

Chapter Text

“Are you sure this is the place?” Nico frowned, asking the question for about the tenth time to the guy with the eyepatch. Mentioned guy rolled his eyes (or in his case, eye), the disturbing smirk still heavily set in its place, though Nico doubted that Ethan was very amused. Surely he would’ve been irritated by now? Nico himself would be.

Crumbled ruins of what would’ve been wonderful temple-like buildings lay across the bleached concrete road like a giant had used them as beds. Moss and vegetation had overtaken the greying icy bricks. The scene lay like the fossil bones of great medieval marble architecture that archaeologists would’ve died for to study. The sky was now a mottled grey with brave blooming purples of sunset and Nico, despite his rather braving nerves, felt chilly at his heart.

His spine and hair tingled with alarm and his throat seemed like a desert despite the lollipop he was sucking. Whispers of frosty breezes swept past Nico, and Nico drew his jacket closer. It wasn’t the only reason, though. He could feel Ethan’s one eye scrutinizing his every move, roaming over his body in an unpleasant way that made him shiver inwardly to his tiptoes. One very intimidating building, the only one which hadn’t been trampled down to the ground yet in direct vision, stood with uncharacteristic elegance over the road, it’s gentle yellowing pillars standing with an old aristocratic grace that sort of dominated over the ghosts of the ruins. It reminded Nico of Percy’s gentle but authoritative voice.

Ah, the person who Nico was dying to meet. (A/N: pun intended ahaha I am so smart)

“You’re still having misgivings about accompanying me, aren’t you?” Ethan remarked quite rhetorically, his brownish lips and narrowed Asian eyes against his pale-pinkish skin seeming more intimidating than the surroundings. Nico knew that he was taking a huge risk, and that he should’ve been more careful with the serial killer on the loose, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. There was a reason Hazel called him ‘Gryffindor Reckless’.

Nico nodded honestly, and Ethan barked a laugh. It was shrilly and unpleasant and make Nico mind flash ‘paedo danger killer back-off scream poison murder fuck fuck fuck’, which was not even a sentence but totally grasped how he felt. Ethan clapped Nico on the back; so hard that Nico almost stumbled.

“I’ll leave you here, mortal. See you later. Hope you come out alive,”

Nico whirled around “what are you-“

Ethan was gone.

Nico gulped, almost choking on his lollipop, now practically shivering with all the reasons other than cold. His bladder pressed a little and he sucked loudly on his candy just to hear some sound.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Yeah. Percy had made it pretty clear that he didn’t want anything to do with Nico, but some masochistic part of Nico ached to see Percy once more. The urge of seeing Percy, however enraged the latter might be, was too strong to be ignored simply. And then, Nico was a right persistent pain in the ass. He didn’t ignore his gut feelings.

Nico walked to the manor (really Manor was a pretty understating description of the house) and swallowed. His knees were slightly wobbly and he now regretted being over eight miles from home. He could hear slight whispered conversations inside the thick bone-white wood of the door, but that did little to calm his nerves.

His knuckles hurt when he knocked.

Seriously, don’t these houses come with pretty doorbells that tinkled sophistically like lullabies?

It seemed that it was taking forever for the door to open, but when it finally did, Nico came face to face with the one and only girl he ever had a truly aesthetic attraction for. She blinked down at him, her long lashed fluttering in oblivious charm.

“Nico?”

“A-Annabeth?”

She peered down at him with the exact same eyes as Percy, red and cold and hesitant. Like she was fighting a war. Her gaze looked hungry. No, not hungry. Thirsty. Thirsty for something Nico didn’t want to know about.

“Who?” a second, chilly voice interrupted, and Nico almost bounced off his restless heels. Percy’s face swam into view, and his eyes comically widened when he saw Nico there. Nico thought Percy looked abruptly afraid, like he had been genuinely scared half to death, but it was suddenly hidden behind a wall of hostility and anger.

Nico was pulled harshly into the house by his shoulder, and Annabeth closed the door with an audible snap so loud Nico could’ve bet the wood cracked (it held. Seems like the door had enough practice of being shoved. Poor door.). Nico was pretty much sympathizing with the door, drawing up parallels of it with his life, when Percy grabbed the collar of Nico’s jacket and lead him through another set of doors.

Well, it was Percy’s jacket, but it didn’t matter. Not right now it didn’t.

Various pairs of crimson eyes followed him in interest as Percy continued to pace down the room, walking so fast Nico pathetically tripped over his own feet trying to keep up. Percy growled lowly as Nico tried to actually focus on the people living there, until he stopped so brusquely Nico ran right into him.

“Wha—“

Nico stopped, rolling his lollipop to the other side of his mouth. Cerise pupils looked at him from people around the room, making him slightly dizzy. He thought that one uncomfortable girl in the corner looked like Thalia, but he could’ve been hallucinating.

“Wo’s t’is, dear?” someone purred, and Nico turned sharply to look at the woman who had one long painted nail on Percy’s chest. She was beautiful, having pale delicate skin and earth-brown hair. Her hair blended into natural yellow when it caught the light at the right angle, and her eyes swirled like the sky on a beautiful meadow full of grass. She was wearing a simple golden toga-ish thing, which flowed around her like she was a goddess “Ye brou’t us a meal?”

“He’s not,” Percy snapped harshly, and the woman blinked at Percy flirtatiously. She draped herself half on his body, and Percy looked slightly green at the intrusion of his personal space. The thought made Nico internally smile a little.

“Voi t’en ‘ave you brou’t a mortal ‘ere? I know yer brou’t it for me, darling.”

“Leave him be, Gaia,” Percy sneered, sounding rather frightening and impatient “He’s mine to keep and feed from. Back off,”

“Aww,” Gaia cooed, undraping herself from Percy and pursing her powdery pink lips “Ye got yerself a boy toy?”

“Yes, I guess it appears so unless you are blind,” Percy almost hissed “Go back to your room, Gaia. And I swear if you so much as lay a hair on Nico, I’ll kill Ouranos,”

Gaia backed off like Percy had thrown a knife at her, looking stricken. She wailed, her feet giving away beneath her as her face morphed into an ugly expression of heartbreak and anguish “Na! Not Ouranos! Please don’t! I cannot,”

She sobbed abruptly, laying on the carpeted floor in a heap. Her burst of sharp howls and whimpers echoed in the walls of Nico’s ears as Percy half-dragged him to a room and bolted the door. Plastered light blue walls and a generally homey, cool room glared back at Nico.

The new room wasn’t very cluttered, and was quite cozy. Cyan armchairs and couches and stiff-looking bean bags faced a black flatscreen on the wall, and a coffee table sat between them. There was a bed in the corner with a writing white desk, and an en suite glass bathroom. It was like one of those all-in-one-rooms inside luxurious apartments. The only thing missing was a huge glass window with a grandiose view of the panorama. And perhaps a pretty woman to criticize the mismatched furniture.

The light was a bit dimmer, and compared to the sparse décor in the other room, this mismatched mess was making him feel a bit more at home.

“What are you doing here,” Percy looked straight at Nico, his eyes narrow and angrier than Nico’d ever seen. Nico swallowed once again, taking out the almost finished lollipop, shrugging off the jacket “This is yours, and I wanted to talk to you,”

“Fool,” Percy muttered, his eyes darting to the door like he half expected it to start burning “You should’ve kept it…”

“I’m not that type of person,” Nico said, not knowing how to reply. He looked up at Percy, who winced at the implication of Nico’s sentence, but made no other move that he had actually heard what Nico’d just said. Nico mentally scoffed. Sure, he felt bad about making Percy suffer now, but Nico thought faintly that Percy deserved it.

“Oh Nico,” Percy ran a hands through his hair in exasperation “I wish you knew what you’re walking into,”

“Stop talking to me like I’m a damned kid,” Nico snapped futilely, finishing the rest of the lollipop with a savage crunch. He crossed his arms and scowled up at the guy. Percy stared at him impatiently, his brows furrowing in thoughtfulness, and then he awkwardly left Nico in the room, saying, “Wait here,”

 

It wasn’t fifteen minutes before Percy made his presence known again. Nico looked up from where he was sitting on one of the blue beanbags (which were surprisingly soft). Percy looked apologetic, but a little amused too as he closed his door.

“What’s so funny?”

“You couldn’t have chosen a worse day to appear.” Percy plopped down next to Nico and passed him a Starbucks coffee and a McDonald’s Happy Meal, which Nico felt grateful for “But those issues aside, how do you know my address? I don’t recollect me giving it to you...?”

“I asked around… is this dinner for me? Dude thanks,” Nico said, but he could see Percy’s irises sparkling in dark interest as the guy nodded, like the kind of crazy gleam you would expect to see in a murderer’s eye. He looked at Nico straight in the eye, his lips a gentle frown.

“Elaborate,”

“Ugh, you’re impossible, aren’t you?” Nico complained, throwing Percy and irritated look. Percy just inclined his head in a ‘I give no shits’ way that was a little bit endearing, but serious all the same.

“I met a guy, he brought me here,”

“Was that guy wearing an eyepatch? Japanese? Black hair?” Percy asked, his tone seeming innocent, but Nico knew he was just fishing for information. He rolled his eyes, letting Percy know that he wasn’t as dumb as Percy thought him to be, and placed the food on the table.

“Ethan Nakamura,” Nico stared at Percy when he looked speechless. Percy’s face visibly darkened to a level which scared even Nico, but he soon dropped that composure and smiled shakily.

“You do not know the extent of my anger towards you, trusting random strangers when there’s a killer out there.” Percy said, shaking his head in disappointment. That didn’t explain the little fond smile on his face.

“So, you know Ethan?”

“He’s family.” Percy explained, spreading his arms “He lives here,”

“Gods, you’re awkward.” Nico groaned “I thought you’d be a little more suave, you know?”

“You want me to be suave?” Percy smiled cockily, and Nico groaned again.

“You give off that vibe, okay? Can you now behave less like a dick and more like a human? We need to seriously talk.”

Percy’s face fell again, but his eyes hadn’t lost that sparkle “There’s nothing to talk about,”

“Quit putting it off,” Nico said, straightening his back and running his fingers over his messy nest of curls. Percy slumped in his beanbag, looking kinda adorable, if too old for that childish pout. Nico thought it suited him, though, given his childish attitude to anything bothering him.

“So, tell me what you want to talk about,” Percy said. Nico folded his hands, looking up at the azure ceilings.

“Uhm… I’m not gonna force you to answer anything, but I want you to be honest with me if you answer a question, okay?” Nico said slowly, looking at Percy. Percy nodded, his gaze fixed on the foot of the coffee table. Nico took it as his cue to continue, wringing his hands together.

“So… do you not like me at all? I know it’s stupid to ask that for the umpteenth time, but I really need to know.” Nico asked. Percy’s gaze flitted around again, but his lips rose in a slightly mirthless smirk.

“You had to ask it?” Percy mused “Well, I personally would love to go out with you. I just don’t know if I can be what you want, or what is good for you,”

“Let me be the judge, okay?” Nico asked, hoping Percy would look his way. Percy didn’t. “I’ll know what’s good for me and what’s not. It’s a stupid reason to keep away from me especially when we both want to stay together,”

“You don’t know, Nico,” Percy dug his face into the cup of his palms again. Maybe it was a habit when he was in distress. “I’ve done things that I can’t tell you. I have dark, dark secrets, Nico, none of which would do you any good. I’m not a very loveable person.”

“I won’t force you to tell me,” Nico reached over, keeping a palm on Percy’s knee. Percy almost jumped, but Nico firmly looked the guy in his startled eyes “All information you want to tell me, I want it to be completely voluntary, okay? I promise I won’t judge you.”

“You won’t?” Percy asked, his lips twisting into a more humorless smirk that reminded Nico slightly of Nakamura “If I told you I’ve killed someone?”

Nico blinked, his insides twisting sharply. He sucked in a breath, which awkwardly whistled between his teeth. Then he forced himself to talk “Not if you told me you’ve killed someone, I promise, especially if you regret it.”

Percy’s eyes searched his face for hesitation, or fear, or maybe resentment. Nico’s mind raced. Was Percy a murderer? A gang member? A criminal? That would explain his hesitation. Wait, was he the one who was killing all those people? It would explain a lot, damn!

“No, Nico, I’m not the murderer,” Percy’s words brought Nico back to those beautiful ruby eyes, and he swallowed. Did he say that out loud? Gods, he should keep a leash on his mouth.

“Anyway, it’s not really, um, safe for you to go out today. Especially now,” Percy stood up, pulling Nico up by his hand. Nico’s palm tingled where Percy’s perpetually cool skin had touched his “Can you stay here today?”

“No problem,” Nico smiled. Somehow, he felt like this is where he needed to be, in Percy’s room, with Percy, sleeping on Percy’s bed. Maybe… just maybe with Percy in him.

Gods, where had the last thought come from?

His cheeks flared in heat, and Percy raised a brow in question. Nico looked away, and muttered something as stupid as about being sensitive to getting up to cover up for his blush.

“You can take the bed,” Percy gestured, And Nico’s guts fluttered like someone had revived a hundred skeletal butterflies in him. He ducked his head, willing his hair to fall around his head to cover his cheeks.

“Uhm, where are you sleeping?” Nico bit out roughly. Percy’s lips tilted to an amused smile, but he didn’t press Nico.

“I’ll take the couch, or I can go sleep in any other room if you want,”

“Nah, uh… we can share the bed? It’s a pretty large bed,” Nico added suggestively, a little hesitantly. Percy laughed good naturedly, messing up Nico’s hair much to the latter’s displeasure.

“Sure, some night maybe, but I have to go out today with the cov— err, family at midnight. Annabeth’ll be here if you need anything.”

“At midnight. You’re serious?”

Dead serious,” Percy smirked smugly like it was an inside joke.

 Nico rolled his eyes. Seriously, it was become a habit fast. He took out his phone to message Hazel, but he noticed his battery was practically ‘running on fumes’. Funny, he thought he had fully charged it before going with Jason and Hazel.

“Percy, do you have a charger?”

“For that thing?” Percy pointed to Nico’s IPhone “Nah. Not really. Everyone doesn’t have a rich daddy like you,”

Nico frowned when his cell vibrated and the screen went blank “Uh, so can I use yours? Mine just died and I need to call my siste— well, never mind that. I don’t remember her number.”

“You don’t?” Percy asked, then gestured to Nico’s abandoned Happy Meal and coffee “Well, your food’s going cold. And you know, you should know your sister’s number by heart, just in case you need it in emergencies.”

“Yeah, right, Mr. Bear Grylls, I’ll keep your survival tips noted down, since you seem to sprout them everywhere,” Nico rolled his eyes, taking his first bite of the burger “Wait, how did you know I love McDonalds?”

“I didn’t, Annabeth did,” Percy said, smiling “She’s smart and just… reads people’s thoughts,”

Then he turned back around, and Nico somehow knew he was grinning madly. Percy was a mystery, he decided. And well, Nico di Angelo is always a sucker for mysteries. Secrets were his favorite flavor.

Chapter Text

Nico turned over in his sleep, his arms closing in around his body like he was hugging himself. He rolled into a ball, his eyebrows scrunched together in the semblance of a nightmare. He groaned, waking up in a shudder, his brows lined in drops of unwholesome sweat. His hair stuck to his forehead and the sheets rumpled around him felt cool like rocks by the sea. He got up, willing his overworked heart to slow down a little and his muscles to keep from knotting. He tried to blink away the picture of his mother and sister calling him a murderer in his dreams, but it felt like it was branded to the back of his eyelids. Why was he having those dreams all of a sudden?

He stood up, knowing that he could never sleep away after a nightmare, especially one as bad as this. He felt uncomfortable in his fowl clothes, and he wished he could have a pair of pajamas to change into. He looked at the loveseat, where Percy had slept last night after he had refused to lie next to Nico (that conversation had been awkward). There was no sign of him, not even an imprint of his outline that would’ve signified that he had slept there. It looked brand new.

 He paused at the doorway of Percy’s room, wondering if he was allowed to move about in their house.

“You are, if you’re wondering,”

No, Nico did not squeak when he heard Annabeth or feel her cool fingers touch his hand. And no, he didn’t jump and stub his big toe against the doorframe out of alarm. Honest.

Fuck,” Nico cursed at the sudden pain shooting up his leg “Do you always do this? Sneak up to unsuspecting victims and scare the shit out of them?”

Annabeth smiled eerily, ignoring Nico's colorful language. Gods, what was it with Percy’s family and smiling? Scratch it; what was it with Percy’s family and their eccentric behavior? “No. I actually sink my fangs on their neck and suck the blood out of them.”

Nico gave her a look, though she seemed serious, “Ha. Ha. I am truly amazed, Annabeth,”

“Percy’s right; you’re fun!” Annabeth patted Nico on the head fondly, her eyes crinkling prettily. Nico winced at her Hazel-like behavior. He didn’t like to be Hazeled by anyone but Hazel.

Nico shooed her hands away, “That reminded me… where are they?”

“Didn’t Percy tell you? They’re out for… family business.” Annabeth pursed her lips, digging her hand back into her hoodie. Her brilliant hair was pulled tightly back into a ponytail, Nico noticed in the dim light. Nico faintly remembered Percy’s lame excuse of going out for ‘dinner’.

“In the middle of the night?”

“In the middle of the night. We’re peculiar that way,”

Nico made a distrustful noise at the back of his head as he shrugged his jacket on, and Annabeth hit him upside his messy mop of curls, “Oy, you don’t believe me?”

“Like hell I would, liar,” Nico joked, sticking his tongue out a little. She chuckled dryly, nodding her head towards another door, “Come, Nico. Let’s talk. I don’t think you’re going to sleep anytime soon.”

 

Annabeth was a pleasant woman, Nico decided. While she had an aura of sophistication, she never let the atmosphere become too uptight. She laughed them away, and she was so damn pretty it was impossible to linger on silences for long. Her laugh was like tinkling bells, and her grey eyes crinkled like she was the happiest person on Earth. Still, seeing her you’d get the feeling like she could judo flip you in a second and hold a knife against your neck. Nico loved that about her.

Her lips quirked up, and Nico wondered for a moment if he’d say it out loud. She shrugged, but didn’t explain further as she stared into the night.

Was she a damned telepath?

They were sitting on one of the chairs in the back porch, looking out into the meadows. Their home had a pretty exotic backyard, filled with tropical flowerbeds and a beautiful lake and trimmed grass. A dense-looking oak forest started from the very edge of the biggest meadow there, all hidden by the large walls of the house. Nico wondered if he could go and explore the next floor.

How the fuck had he managed to miss this?

Nico thoughtfully stared at the lake rippling in the moonlight, “You know, I don’t know how I missed this region. It seems pretty big to be in New York City,”

“You were not supposed to find it. Ethan… without Ethan you’d never have found it.”

Annabeth’s mumbling was barely coherent, and Nico strained to hear her, “Huh? I… I don’t get you,”

“You don’t have to, don’t worry,” She smiled comfortingly, her grey eyes burning intensely “What I wanted you to talk about was Percy. Well, I just wanted to tell you that Percy… he’s seen some bad days. He hasn't been the happiest kid through his years. He's afraid of getting too close to people. And now he’s taken a slight liking to you, you know.”

She brushed a fringe off Nico’s forehead, her gaze a little misty in memories “He’s a little insecure and all, but you have to forgive him. He’s learnt things the worst way anyone can. He just feels too much, and he hasn’t had the best experiences growing to who he is now. I trust you to know where I’m going with this?”

Nico swallowed, nodding. Annabeth had indirectly told him to not be another burden on Percy.

“Exactly what I mean,” Annabeth sighed, her gaze fixed back at the lake as she leaned back and took a deep breath.

“Who’re Nero and Veronica?” Nico asked instead, remembering Percy and his first and only date “I think I know something… but I just can’t remember…”

“They’re Percy’s exes,” Annabeth said bluntly, her lips set in a delicate frown “The only ones, though Percy never recovered from them,”

“That do you mean he didn’t recover?” Nico quirked his eyebrows, knowing for sure he looked ridiculous with his bedhead and bags under his eyes. He could care less though.

“Well,” She decided, “It’s better if you hear it from him. It’s not my story to tell,”

“Fair enough,” Nico heard himself say, then huffed. Stars twinkled ominously down at him and he swallowed the sudden constriction in his throat. The night was cool, like Percy’s hand. It was. Fall never seemed so unpromising to him. Maybe he was just being paranoid.

But then why did he feel like he was always in danger from Percy’s kin?

“Why was he in school that day?” Nico asked instead, hoping Annabeth would catch his drift of what he was thinking. She always seemed to. He probed the tablecloth of the table that stood bare and cold before him. The sharp sting of the cold air stung his cheeks, and he involuntarily shook his head so his fringes fell to his nose.

“He’s a… friend of the Principal… a distant relative, you can say. He knows the murderer’s tactics, and he wanted to warn you guys,” Annabeth folded her hands over the ice cold wood “Not much effective, I should say.” She paused, “Do you want to go inside? You seem cold,”

“Yeah,” Nico admitted “The weather’s acting funny these days,”

“It is,” Annabeth looked pensive as she stood up “All those years of calm… but now? I think something big’s gonna happen. The earth feels it. Can you not?”

Nico looked at her in confusion at the rhetorical question, but all he saw was a sliver of her dark and bitter irises as she turned, and then she was ahead of him. She walked briskly into the house, and Nico knew better than to ask questions.

 

Nico cracked up his eyes groggily to muffled screams and shouts coming from the next room. He mentally cursed, the suddenly bright room causing pain to flare up behind his eyes. How had he ended up in Percy’s room again?

The room was more cluttered than before, he noticed blearily. The couches and beanbags were haphazardly shoved to random places with careless abandon. The bathroom glass door was open. The things on the study table on the far wall of the room were thrust to one side as if someone had been searching in a hurry. Nico could hear muffled conversations between Percy and Annabeth where the door couldn’t contain it in, something that woke him faster than any cup of bitter coffee would:

“I couldn’t let her kill the guy!” Protested Percy.

“What is one guy, Percy? She’s free now. Have you not seen her antics before yesterday? She’s CRAZY, for god’s sake!”

“It isn’t my fault!”

“Keep saying that!” the hiss was almost feral, “And fool no one! You know, as well as everyone in this room does, how foolish your attempt was of warding off Gaia from Nico with that chea—“

“This has nothing to do with Nico! I was just trying to protect him!”

“Protect him? Bloody hell, Percy,” Someone else spoke; a male, with an annoyingly heavy british accent “Christ knows we don’t need any more neonates, who would come swarming here in less than a week, and you know it.”

Nico could feel the shudder in another voice “Ethan’s already betrayed us… And with Gaia on the loose? I don’t think it’ll be time before our coven’s trodden down. You know how vulnerable we are without our Creator better than any of us,”

“With any luck,” Annabeth spoke again after a long pregnant silence, her voice deadly and heavy “Gaia will be hungry and reckless enough to kill everyone she encounters on our way. And you, Percy, it’s time you did some growing up. You can’t afford to stay this irresponsible anymore. I thought wisdom came with age,”

“You thought wrong, Annie,” Percy’s reply came, tired and so low Nico strained to catch all of it “You expect too much from a broken man. I never had a life to begin with. I’m as messed up as they come. I already told you that you place your trust in the wrong person.”

Annabeth’s voice was soft “I think we’re all messed up as they come. But for now, I think we have a guest,”

Nico scrambled back as softly and silently as he could to the bed as he heard footsteps start towards the door. He jumped into the bed, hiding the creakiness of the mattress with the squeak of the door and pretended to be just waking up when Percy opened it. The guy looked at him, his eyes once again mysteriously oceanic blue, his face hard as granite.

His hair was disheveled and purplish bags had developed under his eyes. His posture seemed tired. The way his shoulders were slumped wasn’t giving Nico a very good vibe. There was a new, yellowish scar that ran down the edge of his earlobe and disappeared into his shirt. His pupils looked like the sea on a sunny day, bright and warm and oily and lethargic, and too dull to be swum in.

Then as Nico blinked at him with what he hoped to look like wooziness, his face softened to a fond smile.

“Oh, so you’re up?” Percy’s lips curled in a way that sent bubbles up Nico’s heart. Nico wondered if his hormones would start acting up again. After all, Percy wasn’t a very unappealing guy.

“I’d be worried if I wasn’t,” Nico groaned in half-hearted drama, hoping to sound convincing. If Percy knew Nico was acting, he didn’t show it on his face. Percy shook his head at Nico’s sarcastic retort, but his face stayed soft.

“Your eyes’ve changed,” Nico noted out loud, sitting up. Percy blinked, then scratched his head in a sad way. He didn’t hide his wince, though, and Nico suspected he had another injury up there, “Well, I guess so,”

Nico didn’t push it. Instead, he got up, ran a hand through his messy curls and winced at the greasiness, “You look worried, and hurt,”

Percy kept his mouth shut, the smile falling off his lips, and his gaze flitted back to the floor. Nico almost regret his words, wishing to take him back, but he didn’t have the time to dwell on it as Annabeth appeared in the doorway.

She looked angry. A few tendrils of her golden hair had escaped the ponytail and now framed her face perfectly. She had a new, small golden scar on her brow too that Nico wanted to ask about, but her lips were set in a grim, decisive frown.

“Time for you to go, Nico. You can’t drop by next time without telling us,”

“Okay,” Nico blinked. He hadn’t expected to hear Annabeth sound so calculating or cold, especially after last night. She stiffened beside Percy and scowled at the general direction of Nico. Then, her head whipped to Percy, and she said “No.”

Nico thought he had missed the question, then he saw Percy looking taken aback too. Percy collected himself, muttering under his breath about ‘all those years and I never got used to you—‘

Annabeth narrowed her eyes at him, then walked towards Nico “Let’s go, Nico. I imagine your your sister will be worried,”

Nico winced, imagining how angry Hazel would be when he returned. And then again, it was justified; he’d just vanished last night without a trace. He just hoped Hazel hadn’t called the police yet.

“Oh, one thing, Percy?”

Percy looked at him.

“Can we go on a date again sometime? I’ll send you the details by text?”

Percy smiled faintly, his eyes lighting up, “Sure, Nico,”

Chapter Text

The date was pretty good, in all. Nico hadn’t learnt anything new about Percy, except for the fact that he absolutely loved the color blue. Like his room wasn’t any evidence, ha. On the other hand, he told Percy all about his friends: Jason, Will, Hazel… the like. He told him how Hazel had screamed and cried when he came back too, yelling at him for not even leaving a message, “You missed school too! I was so worried; I was about to call the fucking cops! For all I knew, you could’ve already been dead!

He had hoped that Percy would reveal something about Nero and Veronica too, but so far Nico had just been disappointed. He made a point of outright asking Percy the next time they’d be together.

Now he was back at his home, a day later, texting Percy all about how boring Zeus was (Percy seemed to know him pretty well, interestingly). Night fell like a dense cover, and the breeze picked up sounds as it blew against the rusty leaves that now littered every garden and road. Soon the trees would be depressingly bare. On a brighter note, Jason was preparing dinner, since they’d run out of canned soup and neither Nico nor Hazel wanted to cook.

“If it wasn’t for me, you two’d starve to death,” Jason grumbled, beating the eggs as if the things had personally offended him. Nico stuck his tongue out “Yes, mother,”

Jason went off, muttering something along the lines of ‘spoiled little brats’ as he dumped the mixture in the frying pan. Nico flipped through channels on the TV uselessly, feeling bored. Hazel yawned where she was plastered to the other sofa cushion, looking annoyed as she finished copying Nico’s essay.

“You know what,” She started a little loudly so Jason could hear her “We should have a sleepover one of these days. We haven’t had one in weeks,”

“You’re right,” Jason said, “I wanna call up Reyna and ask how she’s been doing too. I’d call Thalia too, but she’s lost all contact with me,”

“Yeah, and fit them all into our house?” Nico asked, and Hazel gave him a stinkeye.

“It’s not like we don’t have the space or money,”

Nico narrowed his eyes, having a silent staring contest with his sister. Hazel glared back, looking murderous. Finally, after a couple of tense seconds and Jason flailing over burning the omelet among other foodstuffs did Nico throw up his arms and sigh dramatically “FINE!”

Hazel looked smug. What was it with Women.

“I have my conditions though,” Nico said, folding his hands above his chest childishly “I’ll call Will and Percy,”

“Deal,” Hazel smiled enthusiastically, and yelled out to Jason “Hey, Blondie, who’re you inviting?”

“Um… Piper and Reyna? And please don’t call me blondie,”

“Okay! Thursday sounds good? Great. I’ll call Frank and Leo. That makes… nine of us. Do we have nine mattresses? I’ll borrow some from our nei’bors. Or we can all huddle into our beds, since they’re quite— Are you even listening?”

Hazel poked Nico’s sides, who slapped her hand away and stared back at the sitcom playing on the TV, “Do I smell burning food?”

Jason laughed nervously from the kitchen, “err, I don’t think so. That’s actually your dinner,”

“I’m honestly scared,” Nico said, worryingly looking over to him.

As if on cue, Jason came from the kitchen holding two plates “Guess what we’re having today?”

“Food?” Hazel prompted, sitting up. Jason lowered the plates to the coffee table, looking embarrassed but at the same time amused, “Nice guess, but the answer is charcoal,”

Nico poked the black, sizzling mass with a fork, wrinkling his nose at the smell. Hazel snorted loudly, snickering into her elbow. Nico stood up with a purpose, nearly toppling Jason over, and fixing the blond with an exasperated half-glare. Jason opened his mouth to speak, but Nico’s cell suddenly went off.

Jason grabbed it, looking the screen. Nico shrugged on his jacket “I’m gonna go and bring us some takeout. It’ll have to do. Who’s calling?”

Jason chuckled unmanly, passing the phone to Nico “Uh… seems like your Sea Princess is calling ya,”

“Shut up, Grace, That's Percy for you.” Nico snapped, a blush creeping up his neck. He practically snatched the phone from Jason’s hand, putting it to his ear. He walked out of the door, tilting his head to the side.

“Yes, this is Nico di Angelo. Hey Percy. I have some news. Are you free Thursday?”

X

“Nico, stop fussing. You look great,”

“Says Ken, the Barbie boytoy,” Nico snapped. Jason playfully ruffled Nico’s hair, chuckling. Piper was talking to Hazel, Will and Leo. Everyone was already in their pajamas, waiting for Percy, Reyna, and Frank so they could start watching Breaking Bad over Netflix. Tubs of Popcorn and junk foods were piled near the large couch untidily. Nico hated crowding, but he was sorta okay with friends.

“No, seriously. This isn’t the Gala, or the end of the world. You look good enough to sleep in.”

“Easy for you to say, you look hot all the time.”

“Should I be worried?” A new voice said.

Nico turned around in time to see Percy in his room, Hazel closing the door. Nico would’ve jumped three feet into the air if it wasn’t for Jason’s hand on his shoulder. Hell, Percy had a bad timing to turn up. Didn’t his mother teach him to knock loudly?

“No,” Jason curtsied, his smile dropping slightly in disapproval.

Percy was wearing a full sleeved grey tee with sweatpants, and looked increasingly fidgety as Nico stared at him. His black hair was wilder than usual and his jade eyes never seemed to move from Nico’s.

“I didn’t know what to wear,” He admitted, “I’ve never been to a sleepover before,”

“It’s okay,” Nico blurted “I think you look hot,”

Nico’s cheeks colored, but Percy smiled. “Thanks, you look nice too. This’s for you,”

He gave Nico a white rose, which Nico accepted confusedly. He looked over the white flower, with a long stem pruned of thorns and a single leaf. Percy then turned to Jason as Nico hunted down a vase to put the flower “So, I suppose you’re Jason?”

“Yeah,” Jason said, smiling tightly “You’re Percy? Nice to finally meet you. Nico talks a lot about you, but I don’t really approve.”

“The pleasure’s all mine. Though I don’t approve of you being near my Nico either,” They shook hands tensely, but held them way more time than necessary. Percy didn’t tower over Jason like Nico expected. They were about the same height, which made everything worse. Nico didn’t need a testosterone rush in the kitchen before a sleepover.

Jason flexed his fingers around Percy’s hand tightly, and they finally let go. They continued looking at each other, though, with a spark of challenge in their eyes.

“I’ll keep an eye on you, Percy,” Jason warned as he left the room, and Percy smirked at him knowingly.

Percy grabbed Nico’s hand, and it was like someone had turned on a switch in Nico’s body. His skin lit up, sending sparks down his spine from where Percy was touching him. He let Percy drag him to a corner, out of everyone’s prying eyes.

Nico looked up at Percy, suddenly feeling very aroused as Percy practically walked him to the corner. Percy’s oceanic eyes swirled with an unnamed emotion as his hands left Nico’s fingers and instead clutched at his hips, pinning him to the wall. He reached under Nico’s shirt, rubbing cool circles on Nico’s skin, which made him gasp.

“I haven’t done this before,” Percy said.

Nico opened his eyes, “Kissed anyone?”

Percy nodded. Nico smiled faintly “Neither have I. we can learn together,”

“I like that idea,” Percy leaned down. Their noses were almost touching. Nico lidded his eyes, gazing at Percy’s beautiful ones as he reached to Percy’s smooth hair and tugged it down.

Their lips met in a soft, sensual kiss. Nico gasped against his lips, knowing that no matter what, he would never regret this. Percy was faltering in his moments, but a few seconds later began kissing back just as vehemently and enthusiastically. Nico wished Percy would just open his mouth for a French kiss.

Nico tugged and pulled at Percy’s hair headily, a feral desire in him blooming. He had never felt so… needy before. Percy’s hands reached up his shirt to Nico’s stomach, palming his skin in a way that made Nico want to mewl or groan. He did gasp though, between kisses. Clothes felt unnecessary. He just wanted to feel skin and raw, raw pleasure.

Someone coughed in the background. Percy got off Nico with lightning speed. Nico stood still for a moment, panting heavily and trying to catch his breaths. His lips felt swollen, and he felt so unbelievingly aroused

Hazel smirked, looking at both of them with unsuppressed glee. She clapped her hands, grinning “Save all the sex till bedtime. You’ve got friends over,”

Nico muttered something along the lines of “Cockblockers,” darkly, glaring at Hazel’s retreating back. He looked at Percy, who looked just as shaken as Nico was.

“That was great. I could get used to this,” Percy smiled fondly at him. Nico grinned back, “Yeah, I think I could too.”

X

“You look good in your skull pajamas,”

“Gods, stop teasing, Percy,” Nico playfully slapped Percy’s hands away, grinning as Percy kissed him on the lips again. They were sitting on the couch, having just completed an episode of Breaking Bad after Frank and Reyna said they would be late. Nico kissed Percy back on the lips, then on his cheeks, and finally snuggled into Percy’s cool embrace,

“I wish you’d stay the night,” Nico whispered. He felt Percy smile against his hair, kissing the top of his head. Percy was a lot touchy-feely today, and Nico absolutely loved it. He wished Percy was like this all the time.

“I wish too, Nico. But I don’t think I would be able to control myself with all of you looking so delicious—“

“Then, by any means, don’t,” Nico grinned at him “Kissing after two dates… if you were any late I’d have thought you were celibate,”

Percy laughed hotly, and Nico felt the warming vibrations in his chest “Oh, thank the gods I’m not. I’d have missed kissing you, love.”

Nico chuckled as Percy buried his nose into Nico’s hair, but quickly lifted his head to see Will approaching. Nico’s mood took a sudden sharp downfall. Will was a good guy, but with Percy? It was going to end in a disaster.

“So, Percy Jackson, I hope I’m not interrupting anything important,” Will beamed fakely at Percy as he sat down opposite to Nico. Percy grabbed Nico’s hand tighter, glaring at the guy who interrupted his conversation.

“Whoa, don’t get your knickers in a twist;” Will held his hands up, the smile still not leaving his face, “I won’t do that in front of my hook-up,”

“Nice to meet you too, guy-who’s-in-love-with-Nico. You must’ve heard of me, guy-who-Nico-loves?” Percy ignored Will calling their relationship with a hook-up, but Nico didn’t miss the way his eyes changed like the weather, dark and furious.

Will stared at him amusedly, “Yeah. I have a name, you know,”

“I do. I just don’t want to use it,” Percy narrowed his eyes.

“Guys,” Nico said half-exasperatedly. Never in his life had he imagined that two boys would fight over him. He’d never thought of himself as important or worthy. And yet, here he was.

“You know, I’m better for him than you,” Will stated.

Percy looked at him seriously, “I am very well aware of that,”

Will put a hand on Nico’s shoulder almost possessively “You aren’t a good person.”

“I know that, too. I don’t think you’re here to point out the obvious.”

Nico stared as Will criticized Percy almost casually, and seeing the whole-hearted acceptance in Percy’s replies made his heart twinge. Why did Percy think of him as so little? Wasn’t he like the arrogant freak Nico had first met, or the confident guy he’d been in his home?

What side of him did he didn’t want anyone to see? Why did he have so many attitudes? Why did Nico felt so drawn to him even when he barely knew the guy?

“Guys. Stop,”

“I love Nico.” Will said.

“I love Nico too.” Percy insisted this time.

“I’ve seen all sides of Nico. I’ve been supportive through his good days and bad days. I’ve handled him at his worst. You, on the other hand, have never seen him when he’s having a bad day,”

“I plan to, forever,” Percy said, tugging Nico so the boy was almost on his lap “I love him more than anyone I’ve ever loved. He’s my soulmate,”

“Rubbish,” Will scowled at him “You’re cheesy and stupid, you know what. Do you really believe in soulmates?”

“Those who don’t will never find theirs,” Percy snapped. Will glared at him.

“Can you even hear his stupid answers?” Will gestured to Percy as he looked at Nico “Can you even believe this shit?”

Nico growled low in his throat “Did you two ever, ever consider the fact that I am sitting right here? Did you two ever ask me who I prefer?”

Silence ensued for some minutes, until Nico sighed tiredly and burrowed into Percy’s embrace “I like Percy, Will. You— I’ve told you I’m not romantically interested in you. I’m sorry. I really am. You’re a nice guy, but I’m just not into you.”

Will retreated his advances, but his eyes shone in a way that a rejected person’s shouldn’t, “Give me a chance, Nico. I’ll show you how much love you deserve. I’ll show you how happy I can make you, Nico. Just once,. I promise I’d be better than him.”

Nico looked at him in his cornflower eyes, sighing “Will, I can’t. I’m in love with him.”

Will looked at him silently, clearly upset. Then, without another word, got up and left.

Nico frowned. He didn’t want to hurt Will. He just wanted to tell Will gently that they’d never be an item. Why was everything so hard?

Percy sighed, pulling Nico fully into his lap. Nico twisted, straddling him. He needed a distraction now. He needed Percy.

Nico kissed Percy again, and Percy tilted his head up at Nico as the other tugged his tee shirt futilely. He placed his hands on the waistband of Nico’s pajamas, and let Nico kiss him for a while.

Nico broke apart, flustered “Do you even know about a French kiss?”

It was Percy’s time to be embarrassed, and he looked away as he smiled sheepishly “I do… I just don’t want to move too fast?”

“Great,” Nico slipped off Percy’s embrace smiling, running his hand through his hair messily “Just when I thought we’d have mind-blowing sex on the couch and everything.”

Percy shook his head fondly “I love you, Nico,”

Nico huffed, smiling as he told Percy he’d be helping Piper in the kitchen pour orange juice for everyone. Percy nodded, settling back into the couch and looking at all the other couples being all lovey-dovey. Nico wondered idly if that’s how Percy imagined them to be. Perhaps in a few more dates or so?

He was busy in the kitchen when he heard a loud crash come from the living room again. He hastily wiped his hands on the towel and walked out, only to see a bowl of popcorn toppled over and Percy standing upright like a deer in the headlights.

“Percy?”

He whipped his head around at Nico, his eyes looking strangely like green antifreeze as he snarled “Who did you call, Nico? Why did you do this?”

“Who did I— what?”

All of them were staring at Percy like the guy had gone crazy. Percy had gone crazy, it seemed. He looked around in a frenzy, like he was trying to find an escape “What did you do, Nico!”

“I did what?” Nico demanded, puzzled. Leo looked at Nico questioningly, but before any of them could say anything the door thumped open and standing there were none other than Reyna and Frank.

“You!” Frank growled. Nico jumped a little in surprise, so did everyone else. Frank’s voice was rough and animalistic; like nothing Nico had ever heard from a human mouth. Percy backed into he wall vulnerably, baring his teeth. For the first time since Nico had met Percy, he actually saw his teeth. And now he knew why Percy was hiding them. His teeth were pearly white, bright against his pale skin. And two pairs of sharp, ominous looking fangs peeked out from his pink lips.

Frank growled and pushed in, and he was over Percy in a second. He dug his hand into his belt and took out a strange, jagged knife. It glowed like quicksilver in the lighting, and Percy hissed in frantic warning. Nico could practically feel Percy’s panic, but he was frozen. He couldn’t move.

Frank charged towards Percy with a sneer on his face. Percy barely dodged Frank’s knife attack and moved out of the way, only to be cornered by Reyna on the other side. He growled like a bear under his breath, and just as Frank was about to make a slash at him, struck his wrist against Frank’s and twisted the knife out of his grasp.

It fell to the floor with a sharp klang, and in the split second that it took for Frank to come out his surprise, Percy had grabbed his neck and sunk his fangs into Frank’s neck.

Frank howled, painfully and angrily as he practically tore Percy from his bite, making it worse. Percy’s body hit the wall forcefully, and a thump resonated against the empty room.

Blood spurted from Frank’s wound, and he staggered back. He bared his teeth at the pain too, trying to look threatening, and revealing his shorter, but distinctively canine fangs too. Percy evidently thought the fight was over, because when Reyna grabbed the knife and lunged at him, he was caught unawares.

Frank tried to help, but Reyna shouted to him with a tone of authority “Stay back! Wash your wound and cover it up,”

Frank whimpered wolfishly in reluctance, but hung his head in submission. Reyna twisted against Percy as they continued to fight. Percy managed to get himself scratched on various parts of his body, returning the same favor to Reyna, but ultimately Reyna used a distraction to lure him into making a false move. She stuck her arm under Percy's neck so that Percy wasn’t able to bite her the same way, and pushed him against the wall.

Reyna panted like she’d just run a mile, but Percy didn’t so much as blink or breathe. He continued to bare his teeth threateningly. Reyna then smirked, knowing she’d won.

“What do you want from me, wolf?”

“Nothing you can’t give, bloodsucker.” Reyna drawled amusedly “Care to tell us where your little family is?”

“Oh, wouldn’t you like to know?” Percy challenged. Reyna’s grin became, if possible, wider. She twirled the knife lazily in her other hand, and cocked an eyebrow when she saw Percy’s eyes follow it.

“Scared, are you?” She said.

“Never,”

“Oh. You do have galls for a guy who’s helpless and cornered,”

Percy glared at her, “I won’t yield, you know it.”

Reyna, for effect, suddenly firmly grasped the black hilt of the dagger “Oh, you won’t?”

“No,” Percy faltered. Reyna’s eyes lit up in a crazy gleam, and then without as much as a preamble, stabbed Percy right through his palm.

Percy screamed earsplittingly, and all the people in the rooms gasped and covered their ear. Nico covered his ears too, standing transfixed. Was he hallucination or dreaming? Was this happening for real? Was Reyna stabbing his boyfriend with a freaking dagger in their living room? Had he gone crazy?

“Not so arrogant now are we, eh?” Reyna smirked. Percy drew his brows together, scrunching his eyebrows as he closed his eyes tightly and drew a staggering breath. The dagger was making a sizzling sound against his palm and golden liquid poured out, the smell of burning flesh filling the air. Leo and Will immediately put their hands to their noses, looking green.

“I- I won’t,” Percy gasped out, then grit his teeth together tightly.

“Oh, tough?” Reyna’s mocking smile grew “What do you say, if I do…this?”

She twisted the jagged edge of the knife. Percy cried out, groaning in pain. It was hard for Nico to watch, dream or no. his insides twisted sharply and he felt nauseous. He wanted to throw up.

“I-I’ve never done anything to you,” Percy said weakly. He wasn’t fighting anymore. His figure slumped and he opened his eyes tiredly.

“Good thing Nico called us to the sleepover,” Reyna stated almost proudly “We’ve never have gotten you. Now spill your little secrets out, bloodsucker. I want to go for a kill.”

Percy turned to Nico instead, his eyes soft in a way that he could’ve been crying “I never thought you'd— I thought you liked me,"

“I-I did!” Nico said, surprised he could speak. Wasn’t this a dream? What was happening? Should he call the police? He couldn’t call the police on his longtime friend! What the hell was he supposed to do?

“What’s going on here, gu—oh!” Piper came out, balancing a tray of glasses filled with orange juice when she saw Reyna with Percy against the wall. The tray dropped from her hands reflexively, and the subsequent crash made everyone jump as glass splinters and orange juice sprayed everywhere.

Taking advantage of the distraction, when Reyna flinched Percy pulled up his legs and kicked her hard in the torso, sending her sprawling against the floor. He looked at his palm, which was stuck to the wall with the knife. He swallowed quickly, making a rash but swift decision, and literally tore the knife off his hand.

Golden blood sprayed everywhere, and Percy held back a scream in his throat. Not looking at his hand, he threw the knife on the floor hastily and turned to the door.

“Percy—What,” Jason started, but Percy was already at the doorway. He looked at Nico sadly, then took off into the street.

Reyna recovered from her shock a few moments later, but till then it was too late. Percy had already escaped. She cursed colorfully, and looked angry as she picked up the dagger lying on the floor and wiped it off on her shirt.

“You okay, Frank?”

“I’ll be,” Frank grimaced, looking at the two holes and the scratches on his arms “But I don’t think they are,”

He gestured to the openmouthed audience around them, and Reyna chuckled dryly.

“I guess you want an explanation, huh?” She asked.

“Damn right we do,” Will muttered.

Nico realized that this was brutally real. He wasn't dreaming. Reyna had literally stabbed Percy.

Chapter Text

Frank winced, the make-shift bandage tightly wrapped around his arm and a little looser against his neck. Reyna sat down on the carpet, sweat dripping off her arms as she rid the dagger of all the golden, precious looking liquid. It smelled sweet, and it sizzled against the metal. 

She looked at them in the eye. Nico knew that it didn’t miss her eyes that a large fraction of the people in the room seemed terrified of her presence. Hazel was leaning subtly towards Leo, who looked scared enough for five himself. Reyna sighed, shaking her head, knowing that after their very public display of violence it would take a while for them to believe her again.

“He’s… he’s not wholly human,” Reyna looked at a loss for how to start, “I know this sounds stupid, but…Perseus is a vampire.”

“I thought Vampires existed only in fiction,” Hazel quietly said.

“Well…” Reyna looked uncomfortable, clearly disgusted by the idea of whatever Percy was, “They’re not. Vamires exist for real. Have been for a long, long time, just in hiding. They’re allergic to silver, like Frank’s dagger here. Of course, we’re allergic to silver too, but that’s why the hilt’s wrapped in rubb—“

“What are you?” Will asked out of curiousity, then added “I mean… if you don’t like vampires, you must be something... else,”

“Yes, I’m a werewolf, an alpha of my pack. Frank here is a beta, and my second in command. I’d like to tell you about our pack dynamics, but I want to go over… other species first.

“Vampires have an immortal life. They never die. They feed on the blood of humans. Their venom is like HIV. Once injected into someone’s bloodstream, very little can save the person from becoming a vampire themselves, unless of course they die before the venom has enough chance to spread. There’s no cure.

“They are literally non-living. They don’t excrete, or reproduce aside from infecting others. They don’t have to eat, drink, breathe, or do anything to sustain themselves other than quench their thirst for blood. Blood gives them energy. They have heightened senses, almost like an animal, but not better than ours. A vampire without energy would go berserk or become a vegetable; it all depends on their power and hierarchy. The older they are, more the chance for them to go on a killing spree.

“A group of vampires is called a coven. A vampire coven usually consists of their creator and several vampires they’ve turned. They’re not very loyal creatures, but they stay together for safety.

“They're very cliched too. Most of the myths about them are true. Vampires cannot bear garlic, sunlight, and other stuff. Vampires can’t come inside any human’s or werewolf’s house unless they have permission to enter. They are really pale and have striking eye colors. They tend to be really beautiful, but make people aware of their danger too. It’s a kind of reflex in the human body. Of course, in ours, we get a vicious urge to rip things apart instead.

“All vampires are strangely sadistic and blood-thirsty. They love seeing people in pain. They love to kill. All of them are monsters. They have no emotions, none at all. They aren’t capable of love or expression. They run on their sole interest, blood.”

She took a breath, looking at all the people in the room. She then looked at Nico, “How long have you two…”

Nico looked kind of wistful, “A few weeks. I like him. We just kissed today. Now I know why he wasn’t very keen on French kissing…”

Reyna shook her head “Nico—“

“Percy doesn’t seem like what you described. He’s got a thing for dramatics, but he’s incredibly sweet and caring and respects me. He cares for me, Reyna. It never felt like he was luring me.”

Reyna looked at him pitifully like he was an orphaned child of war, “Nico, that’s what it wants you to think! It’s manipulative and cold. It only wants you to think that it knows your best interests. Trust me, Nico, I know too many gruesome cases of Vampires… violating humans. You shouldn’t think of him as a human. Think of him as… as killer bees, or something. Vampires hate humans.”

“It felt too right to be wrong,” Nico insisted “Percy was never—“

Piper cut him off, looking suspicious “You say bad things about Vampires…what about werewolves? Don’t they too spread the disease by their bite? Don’t you think you’re being a little bit hypocritical?”

“Certainly not,” Frank interrupted, growling lowly, “Werewolves have a normal human lifespan, unlike Vampires. Vampires are a freak of nature. Nature created us to destroy them since they can’t die otherwise. Werewolves are protectors of humans. We only turn once in a full moon, for a night, and we carefully choose who to bite. It’s never a curse!”

“Frank,” Reyna said warningly, and Frank looked away.

“Is Frank going to be okay?” Hazel asked, “Percy d-did bite him,”

“Oh, he’ll be fine. Nothing he hasn’t taken before,” Reyna smiled, “Vampire venom doesn’t work as effectively on ours as it does on them. We have the ability to sleep or burn it off. That’s why we have a higher body temperature than humans.”

“Oh,” Hazel said quietly, and turned to Leo. Nico noticed her hand tightening subtly on his.

Jason was still frowning beside Nico, his mouth set in a contemplative frown. Nico nudged him, and he looked up.

“What’re you thinking?” Nico asked him.

Jason shrugged “Years ago, my sister was kidnapped when she was taking a walk alone. No ransom note. No ransom call. No demand for money. There wasn’t even a body. I wonder if she…”

Jason left it unsaid. Nico’s eyes widened, and realization hit him. Jason’s sister was never heard of again. What was more, His mother and sister had died the same way. A wrecked, destroyed car. Nothing else, not even a fingerprint.


 

Nico sat blowing his hot coffee, missing a day from school again. He’d gone Friday, Monday AND Tuesday, and ignored his dad's calls for two days straight. But it felt too much today. He needed a break. His stomach turned and ached inside him and he didn’t want to eat anything, but he forced himself to have something to keep from feeling hungry as well.

Percy drank blood. Percy killed people. Percy was behind all of the murders.

Percy was immortal.

Nico cried out when his hand suddenly flared up, and he hastily removed them from where they were clamped around the blistering cup. His palm was red and raw, and still hurt less than his chest. A sickly sweet in-love couple next to his empty table looked at him funnily, but he ignored them. He wondered if Percy was ever going to tell him about himself, or if he was just going to base their whole relationship on lies.

None of them mattered anyway. Percy was gone and hurt, and he wouldn’t come back. No one in the right mind would. Obviously, looking at the way Percy saw things, Nico had, in a way, set him up. Nico knew that if he had been in Percy’s shoes, he’d have done the same thing.

The funny thing was, that it just didn’t matter.
He couldn’t care less if Percy was the personification of some kind of satanic folklore. It didn’t matter if Percy fed on Humans or tortured them to death. It didn’t matter if all that was on Percy’s mind was carnal thirst for blood.

Okay, maybe it did a little. Well, it did a lot, but Nico wasn’t as upset as he thought he would be when Reyna told them how a vampire wasn’t capable of loyalty, faith or love. He wasn’t as upset as he was disturbed to hear about how Vampires used their prey, allure them into their care and proceed to satisfy their sadistic pleasures from the fragile mortals.

Don’t think of them as people, Nico,” Reyna had advised him, looking angry “They’re monsters. Your boyfriend, it was a monster. All it wanted to do was feel on your life energy. All it wanted was your blood.”

Or maybe it was just Nico’s heart’s, or rather whole being’s, longing to be near Percy again. Percy had been so unbelievingly sweet almost whenever they had met, if a bit mysterious. His mind went back to the white rose Percy had given him, which now lay withered and rotten at the bottom of a waste basket.

He had looked up the flower’s meaning online, ‘Sincerity. Purity. Innocence. Reverence. Chastity.’
‘I’m thinking of you
.’

Or perhaps Nico was reading way too much between the lines.

He put his IPhone down again, frustrated. He had been trying for a week since the incident to call Percy and just talk to him to clear things up, but Percy wasn’t picking up. That one time Annabeth had picked it up, but she abruptly said Percy wasn’t stable, and hung up. Nico had, since then, been anxious.

“Siri, call Sea Princess,”

Again, knowing that he wasn’t making much of a difference, but he just wanted to call them. He finished his sweetened coffee while he run a few more times just for something to do, and his eyes widened as someone picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Hello,” Nico’s breath caught, “Thalia? Is it you?”

Annabeth replied, and Nico mentally smacked himself. Thalia was pronounced dead a long time ago, “Nico?”

“Yeah… Is… Is Percy there?”

“Yeah. Hold on.”

Nico heard dull shivers of air as the phone was passed down hands, the whisper of hushed voices, and the thud of his own heart against his ear. He smiled slightly.

“Hello?”

“Percy?”

“Nico.” Nico’s breaths stilled. Just his name made shivers crawl up his spine. Perhaps distance does make the heart grow fonder.

“Percy... I… I know.” None of them had to say what. They knew what they were talking about.

A soft Oh, then “Okay,”

“I umm… I wanted to tell you I didn’t set you up. I had no idea that werewolves and vampires exist, much less to rat you out…” Nico drawed out, wondering what to say. Percy saved him the effort.

“How do I know you’re not lying?” There it was, that sudden pang of his heart again, like someone was squeezing it.

“You can’t.” Nico said “You have to believe me,”

The soft, almost whispered word, “Why?”

“Do you need a reason?” A completely uncalled-for answer.

A sigh, then, “You’re the one who told me that I am too dramatic,”

“You influence me,” Nico said lamely.

“I hope I do…”

Nico didn’t like it. It felt like he was talking to a stranger. Percy wasn’t supposed to be a stranger.

“Are you okay?”

“I think so,” That half-reluctant voice again.

“Can I come over?”

“I…” Percy paused “I don’t know.”

Nico rephrased “Do you want me to come over?”

A hesitating voice “I…yes,”

“Okay,” Nico said, grabbing his keys and heading to his car, “Don’t tell Jason or Reyna this. It may seem mad and suicidal, but I trust you, okay? I have this weird feeling that I can trust you with my life, and I want to hear your side of the story.”

A pause, then “You shouldn’t trust me with your life,”

“Maybe I'm stupid enough to do,” Nico hastily paid his coffee and hung up oh his phone, breathing out a ‘keep the change’ to the guy at the counter before he was out the door and into his car, flooring the wheels and maneuvering into the street he had once traveled on foot with a stranger.