Wake up darlin'
Nico didn't know when he fell for Will.
If he were feeling particularly poetic, he would say that it was when Will grabbed his hands on half-blood hill.
But he didn't think that was it.
It may have been when Will thought the best way to distract a horde of angry Romans was to let them chase him.
But he didn't think it was then, either.
When Will took the time to argue with him, even when they were facing an entire legion of Romans, led by Octavian?
Was it those long days spent in the infirmary, made only bearable by Will's, irritating, yet oddly soothing presence?
But Nico couldn't be sure, because he had become so good at hiding his emotions, almost shutting them off, that he hadn't realised. He had buried Cupid's arrow deep inside once again, hiding his feelings, even from himself. Until one day he couldn't bury it any deeper, and it passed clean through his heart.
He breathed the breath of the Ancient Being, and it burnt his lungs, scorching him above and beyond the heat of the Phlegethon. Stumbling, he fought to stay upright, if he fell the flesh of Tartarus would consume him within seconds. He was so tired, but he dared not rest. If he paused for even a moment then the monsters would converge on him, the blood vessels of Tartarus. They enjoyed tormenting the weak, the feeble, the useless son of Hades. When he raised his head, he saw a shimmering light ahead. It didn't seem hostile, but Nico had learnt not to trust anything so he drew his Stygian iron sword. Glancing at the abyss on either side of the narrow walkway he was stumbling across, he forged towards the glimmering form. As he approached, the silver mist condensed into the form of a girl. Nico stopped. He couldn't help himself, even if it allowed the monsters perusing him as chance to catch up, because he recognised that form. But it couldn't be. Bianca.
"Nico, mio caro, mio fratello." Nico, my dear, my brother. It sounded like Bianca.
"Che cosa sarebbela mammadire?" What would Mama say?
"I thought she raised you better than this Nico?" Bianca backed away.
"You disgust me. You love my killer. You defile my memory." And with that she drew an arrow. Nico couldn't move. Her words bounced around his head. When the arrow pierced his heart he hardly felt it, and when he pulled it out there was no blood, but every negative thought, many more than he could comprehend, every negative emotion, too many, came bubbling to the surface of his mind. He fell onto the body of Tartarus and screamed-
"Nico, wake up, darlin'! It's just a dream!" Nico opened his eyes and looked into the bright eyes of Will Solace. Those eyes that were usually clear and laughing, were now bright with concern. Will was sitting on his bed, his hand on Nico's shoulder, as if he had just shaken him.
"Will." Nico breathed, and then he realized. The arrow had piereced his heart, and it was too deep to remove, deeper than it had been with Percy. Hades, did Percy's arrow even break the skin? This was worse, and he knew deep in his soul that rejection would break him. It would push him over the edge. So he did what he had been doing for years, and distanced himself from Will, from freindship, from love. He drew his knees up to his chest and glared at Will.
"Just a nightmare, Solace. I'm fine." Will furrowed his eyebrows at Nico's sudden agressiveness but didn't question it.
"Don't call me sunshine." Nico all but snarled.
"Okay, Nico, but are you sure you don't want me to stay her-"
"No!" Nico shouted. He couldn't be near Will. He couldn't bear Cupid' curse again.
Will stood up and walked to the door. When he spoke his tone was gentle.
"You know where I am if you want me, Nico."
A knock on his cabin door made Jason look up from his designs for Anicetus' temple.
"Come in." Jason called, and Nico walked in, his eyes flitting around the room.
"Jason. I-I can't do it again" His voice broke, and Jason didn't know what he meant, but he walked over and hugged Nico. At first the boy stiffened and pulled away slightly, but then he relaxed into the hug. After a minute Nico pulled away, blinking furiously.
Jason shut the door to his cabin, and led Nico over to Thalia's old bed, the only one out of Zeus' eye line.
"What can't you do?" Jason asked quietly, and Nico looked at him, eyes wide.
"I can't fall for another unattainable hero!" Ahh, so that was it.
"Will?" Jason asked tentatively and Nico nodded. Jason had been expecting this. For the past year, since the end of the Giant War, Jason had watched Nico's relationship with Will change, moving from close friendship into something more. If he hadn't known Nico so well he never would have noticed it, but he had. Earlier than Nico himself, even.
"It's not just a crush." Nico continued in a low voice. "I love him, Jason."
Jason had no idea how to comfort the boy, so he held the fifteen year old, until his sobs died down, then told him in a quietly:
"Tell him then." Nico looked at him like he'd gone mad.
"I can't. He'd hate me, and I couldn't deal with that. I-I have to leave."
"No." Jason told him. Nico couldn't leave; he had built a life here, finally.
"Nico, you can't leave. You have friends here." Nico considered this. He rubbed his face with his hands.
"I don't know what to do, Jason. Cupid's screwed me over properly this time." And with that stood up and walked out of Jason's cabin, leaving the priest with a plan forming in his mind.
Kayla knew something was up with Will. He'd been subdued for a week or so now, but when she walked into the Apollo cabin and found him softly playing 'I'd lie' by Taylor Swift, she knew she had to do something about it. She shut the door behind her with a snap, and marched over to Will's bunk, snatching the guitar out of his hands.
"Okay, what's up with you?" Will looked up at her.
"Nothing" He answered, giving her a smile that was obviously fake. She said nothing, just continued to look him in the eyes, eyebrow raised.
Will's smile dropped, and he ran his hands through his hair.
"Okay, I'll tell you."
Kayla sat down next to him on the edge of his bunk.
"For a week now, Nico's been avoiding me, I'm afraid that he's found out that I like him."
Kayla nodded slowly. She was very close to Will, and was the only person in camp who knew of his sexuality.
"Why do you think he'd have a negative reaction?"
Will just looked at her.
"Kayla, he's from the 30s. The entire society was homophobic! Gods… I don't know what to do. I don't even know anymore." He closed his eyes.
"Kayla I-I think I love him." A single tear rolled down Will's cheek, and she embraced her brother, when he pulled away, she asked tentatively.
"Are you sure that's why he's been acting odd, because if not, you should tell him."
"I can't tell him. He'd hate me, for sure this time, and I couldn't deal with that."
Kayla sighed and stood up.
"If you're sure. But remember, Will, I'm here if you want to talk."
Kayla walked out of the cabin, the beginnings of a plan bubbling on the edges of her mind.
Jason had decided to talk to Kayla, as she was closest to Will. He wouldn't tell her about Nico, obviously, just subtly try to gauge Will's opinions about same-sex relationships. Although Will was such a friendly, accepting person Jason highly doubted that he would have a problem with it. He was just deciding how to casually bring up the subject, when he heard a knock on his door.
"Come in!" He called, getting a strange sense of déjà vu from earlier that day.
The door opened slowly, and Kayla tentatively poked her head in the door. Jason blinked; this was a really freaky coincidence, unless the fates were messing with him.
"Jason, hi. Can I talk to you for a minute?" Jason furrowed his brows, but nodded, gesturing to the bunk opposite his. Kayla sat down, nervously fiddling with her fingers, head bowed. After a minute or so, Jason broke the awkward silence.
"So, what's up?" Kayla looked up at him for the first time.
"You're friends with Nico, right?" The unexpected question caught Jason off guard, but he didn't show it, he had been praetor, after all.
"Yeah, I guess. Why?" Kayla drew a deep breath.
"Look, you have to swear on the river Styx that what I'm about to tell you wont leave this cabin." This didn't help to alleviate Jason's confusion, but still:
"Okay, I swear." Thunder rumbled overhead, letting him know just how serious the promise he had made was.
"Will is afraid Nico hates him." Jason couldn't help but let the shock show on his face this time.
"Why would he think that?" Jason asked in a tone that he hoped was casual. Kayla gave him a scathing look.
"Jason, Nico has been avoiding Will for more than a week. Surely you've noticed?"
Jason's mind whirled. He knew the exact reason Nico was avoiding the healer, but he didn't want to betray Nico's secret to Kayla.
"I have…" His hesitation didn't go unnoticed by Kayla, and she latched onto it.
"You know something, don't you?" It wasn't a question. "Please tell me. Will thinks Nico hates him, and it's killing him." She hesitated and looked away.
"Nico's is from the '30s, yeah?" Jason nodded cautiously; unsure of the direction the conversation had taken. Kayla seemed to be choosing her words carefully before she spoke.
"How many old-fashioned values does he follow?" Suddenly Jason understood with perfect clarity. It was so ironic that Jason almost burst out laughing.
"Kayla? Does Will think Nico hates him because he's… gay?" Kayla's head snapped up, and she nodded cautiously, before her eyes took on a steely glint.
"I'm only telling you, because I don't know what else to do. You tell anyone, even Piper, and I will castrate you, understand?" Jason knew that she was perfectly serious, and quickly nodded. After a moment Jason spoke.
"Nico doesn't have the preconceptions of that era, and he'd never hate Will for that. It would be sort of hypocritical." Kayla's eyes widened as she realised what Jason was implying.
"Does Will like Nico like that?" Jason asked, and Kayla nodded.
"The threat still holds, Jason." Jason merely waved his hands dismissively.
"Kayla, this is perfect!"
"How so?" Kayla's tone was half sarcastic, half disbelieving.
"It's perfect because… Now we can get them together!"
A/N- Next chapter will be more about the Will and Nico angst, but with the scheming from Kayla and Jason. Will they bring Will and Nico together in the end?