He had met Nico di Angelo at a frat party. Both of them had been dragged there by friends, both of them were tipsy, and both of them were only dancing because of the alcohol in their systems.
They had started talking because Nico accidentally stepped on Will’s foot, which had him apologizing profusely. Will had laughed it off — he hadn’t even felt anything.
Looking back on it, it hadn’t taken them long to start kissing at all. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes after meeting each other, and Will was gently pressing Nico against a wall, caressing his back with his fingertips, and exploring his mouth as if he had all the time in the world to do so.
He had never thought he’d be confident enough to flirt with a stranger, much less with a boy with unknown sexuality, but this felt like a night for firsts, and so he decided to enjoy it.
“I should probably go.” Nico murmured at some point, and it made Will inexplicably sad — maybe because of the alcohol.
“Just five more minutes?”
They kept kissing for much longer than five minutes. Once Nico really had to go, they parted with a goodbye and a peck on the lips, and Will was pretty sure he’d never see him again.
They met again at another party.
“I’m not sure we should.” Will said when Nico mumbled a proposal in his ear. “I mean, you’re drunk, and I’m not, not really. Wouldn’t it be like taking advantage of you?”
“It’s just kissing,” Nico retorted. “And I’m a not-minor.” (Here Will threw his head back and laughed. Nico smiled along with him.) “And I really, really want to, and that isn’t the alcohol speaking. Hm, what else can I say to seduce you?”
“Hm.” Will pondered. “It’ll be just kissing?”
“Yes!” Nico sounded half-pleading, half-celebratory, and Will laughed again.
And so kiss again they did.
It was very different this time, because Nico was more than tipsy, and apparently drinking made him more talkative. At times, he would interrupt the kissing to say things like:
“Jason made me create a Facebook account. I told him I hated him but I don’t really hate anyone. Except for Bryce Lawrence. He can die for all I care.” His hand then flew to his mouth and his eyes widened, almost fearful. “Oh shit, I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to wish for people’s deaths.”
“It’s alright.” Will told him. It made Nico giggle, for some reason.
“You’re very nice.”
Nico leaned in for more kissing. He interrupted it later again to say:
“I ate a hot dog today.”
Will wasn’t sure what to say to that. He didn’t know what was so special about eating a common, quite cheap food.
Unless it was a secret code for ‘I gave a blowjob today’, which would probably require another reaction.
“Oh, uh… Was it good?”
Nico needed a moment to think.
“It was pretty good.” He decided. “I put ketchup on it.”
Will concluded that they were talking about food.
“I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks.” Nico said, and leaned in again.
Their entire night was like this. Will learned, among other things, that:
Nico’s full name was Nico di Angelo, and he was an art major (”What’s your name again?” “Will Solace. I’m a pre-med.” “Ah. I’m Nico di Angelo. Art major. Stupid me.” “You’re not stupid.” “Have I mentioned that you’re nice?”).
That Nico liked kissing him.
That his best friend was called Jason, and he was “ridiculously kind, that idiot”.
Apparently Jason helped elders cross the street, offered to carry strangers’ grocery bags, when they looked heavy, and baked to all his friends. Will didn’t even know people like that existed in the real world.
That Nico had been in love with his other (now) best friend Percy. (“He’s stupid, but he’s also smart. And now the whole ‘I-was-in-love-with-you’ thing is funny, ‘cause it doesn’t hurt and all my friends are nice about it. It’s cool.”)
That he had a half-sister named Hazel who he loved very much. (“I love Hazel. So much. Hazel is, like, the nicest soul in the planet. And the universe too, you know.”)
And so on.
It sufficed to say that, by the end of the night, the boy he was kissing didn’t feel like a stranger at all.
That was probably why he didn’t even consider saying ‘no’ when Nico said, “I’ll call you. No. Text you. Do you have a pen?”
“Uh, no. But you can save your number on my phone.” Will replied, and Nico gave a funny look to the object in Will’s hands, as if he’d forgotten it existed.
“Oh, right. Technology. I thought writing my number in your arm would be romantic.”
“We can be romantic some other time, don’t worry.”
And so Nico typed in his contact details, giggling now and then, and left after saying, “make good use of that number, pretty boy”.
Will most definitely would.
Will texted him first. They talked about the most random things in their texts — they started on the topic of friends, then did a quiz on which Friends character they were (surprisingly, Nico was Rachel and Will was Gunther, for some reason; he could’ve sworn he would be Phoebe); after that, they did a bunch of personality tests, played 20 questions, talked about extraterrestrial life (an important topic of discussion in any type of relationship), food, places they’d like to visit, their hopes, the things they didn’t have any hope for, and themselves.
It was way deeper and much less romantic than Will had expected it to be, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Not long after they started texting each other, they found out they had a class in the same building on Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings, and started meeting for coffee. He soon realized that Nico was a different person in real life (when he wasn’t drunk). He was quiet, didn’t smile as much; it wasn’t uncommon to see him scowling at the clear blue sky, and it didn’t take long for Will to notice that he practically only wore black. In these mornings, their conversations tended to be more normal (more about themselves, less about aliens).
Meeting Nico while sober had its good and bad sides. The good: Will could fully appreciate the other boy’s beauty, from the simple brown of his eyes (that he couldn’t look away from), to the high cheekbones, pink lips, and the overall expressiveness of his face. Despite being quiet, he was never still. He twisted the skull ring on his middle finger, felt the texture of random things with his thumb, bounced his leg. Often broke eye contact to look around. He was beautiful.
The bad side of meeting him while sober: Will found himself looking for excuses to start another one of their making out sessions in the middle of the cafeteria. He daydreamed about holding Nico close, about making him laugh. About getting to know Nico’s body with his fingertips and seeing what made him shiver. About tracing a path down his spine with his lips.
Nico wasn’t his boyfriend. He was his friend who he met twice a week for coffee and talked to via texts. The fact that they not once talked about the parties was enough indication that he should probably forget them (although he couldn’t). He often thought about asking Nico out for something other than their morning coffee, maybe see how he’d react.
In the end, Nico took the decision for him.
"Would you like to come over to my place, sometime? You said you’d like to see my art and meet my friends.” He texted one afternoon, oddly formal and with correct spelling and everything. Will’s heart jumped in his chest.
“Sure!” He texted back. “Just tell me when (and the address haha). I can bring snacks!”
And despite what Cecil (his roommate) might claim, Will did not spend any more time than usual getting ready, nor did he fuss about what he was going to wear. It was perfectly normal to care about appearance when visiting a friend, and this wasn’t a date — that’s what he told Cecil. Cecil just gave him an unimpressed look and told him to have fun.
That Saturday afternoon was one of the most nerve-wracking but somehow soothing things in Will’s life. Nico opened the door with a smile and showed him the apartment. Today he had his hair in a ponytail, but the fringe still framed his face. His shirt was black, as usual, but he was wearing the only pair of jeans he had without any tears or holes in it.
He shared the place with half of his friends (Jason, Percy, Frank and Leo), but didn’t share his room with anyone. Upon entering the apartment, Will was surprised at the lack of black. It was… normal, full of light wooden colors and fake flowers and office supplies.
“Hazel and Annabeth have been here.” Nico explained darkly, scowling at the colorful highlighters on the table as if they had personally offended him. “But the flowers were Jason’s work, ‘cause he wanted ‘the room to have more color’ or something.” He shook his head. “That idiotic dork.”
The laptop was already open on the bed, when they came into Nico’s bedroom. Once again, Will was hit by the lack of black. The decoration was just like the rest of the house — and there were just as many highlighters on the small desk in the corner of the room. For all that Nico complained about them, he seemed unable to throw the gifts away.
His art itself was not exactly what Will had been expecting. Nico had told him his style was realistic, and Will had a basic understanding of what that would look like based on a Google search.
He did not expect the panoramas with the ugly parts of the city, colored with dull greens, browns and grays that contrasted with the vibrant blue above. The contrary was also there: hundreds of shades of gray composed the sky that timidly touched the colorful scenery of a city waking up.
There were portraits of people he didn’t know, each expressing a different emotion. Lots of sketches, but Nico avoided showing him those, because they were mostly just practice.
He could feel Nico observing him as he studied each painting on the screen.
“What do you think?” He finally asked.
“I love them.” He said honestly. He knew jack-shit about art, but he loved these. “They’re all incredible.”
Nico’s mouth quirked up.
“Excuse me.” The voice came from behind them, and they both jumped on the bed.
Standing on the doorway, holding a platter of cookies — and only now did Will notice the delicious smell permeating the place —, was the tall blonde guy Will had learned to identify as Jason, from the few photos Nico had sent him. Beside him was Frank, looking both curious and sympathetic.
“Nico told me we were having a visitor.” He smiled as if there were no better news in the world than Nico bringing a friend home. “So I took the liberty to bake a few things—”
“For fuck’s sake.” Nico whispered beside him, sounding mortified.
“And it’s time to eat. I’m dying to hear all about you, Will Solace.”
Despite the whole suburban mom vibes that Jason had going on, it wasn’t as awkward as Will had expected. Jason were Frank stayed mostly on the subject of college and plans for the future. Small talk. Whatever embarrassing questions Jason had ( like “how did you two meet?” ) were probably going to be directed at Nico in private, which Will was selfishly grateful for.
Will ended up going to Nico’s place often, either to make him company or to make sure he was taking care of himself (an excuse that sounded stupid even for him, since Jason Grace lived under the same roof as Nico’s).
One time they were having vanilla ice cream and watching something on Netflix, lying down side-by-side on Nico’s bed.
Will didn’t pay attention when Nico finished his ice cream and threw the mug and the spoon aside with a deep sigh, but he did yelp when Nico turned and kissed him on the mouth, firm and insistent.
Will immediately kissed him back.
This time, Nico only interrupted the kiss once, to mention that Will’s blue button-up looked fantastic on him before unbuttoning it and taking it off, then proceeding to trace Will’s chest with cold, shaking fingers.
Will almost said he loved him then and there, but it was a good thing he didn’t.
Later, when only the last rays of the sunset illuminated the room and their jaws ached too much for even chaste pecks, Will pulled Nico closer to him and caressed his hair with one hand. His heart was loud and content as he lied below Nico, tracing the other boy’s back underneath his blue sweater.
“Will.” Nico called, his voice strange, but Will ignored it.
“I.” He started. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this.” He was saying then, standing up and out of Will’s embrace. Getting the button-up on the floor as Will stared, uncomprehending. “You have to go.”
Will got up slowly, like any sudden moves would freak Nico out (even more?).
“Let’s talk about this.”
“I.” He took a deep breath. Then another one. “Maybe. Later. Not right now.”
“Later.” Will confirmed, then took his shirt. His fingers were shaking a little, and his heart hurt.
Will took one last look on Nico’s small frown, his watery eyes. He stopped himself from reaching out for a hug or comfort or whatever it was that Nico needed, and said goodbye instead, before leaving the apartment.
Will: Are you mad at me? We can pretend it never happened.
Nico: I’m not mad at you.
Nico: I’m kinda mad at myself. Sorry. It’s stupid.
Will: Bet it’s not.
Nico: I’ll explain it to you.
Nico: If you want.
Will: Over coffee? Tuesday?
Nico: Yeah, that works.
Will: See you then.
Nico was already there, wearing a thick scarf and a heavy gray coat, when Will arrived in their usual place. He took a deep breath that did nothing to calm his nerves before walking up to their table and sitting down.
“Hey.” His voice came out thinner and louder than usual, like it always happened when he was nervous or lying. He mentally kicked himself.
Nico didn’t say hi.
“Hm, so I have this speech ready. I was going to send it to you, but Jason— Well, actually, everyone told me I needed to do this in person.” Nico was looking at some point beside Will, instead of at him. “Uh. Fuck, this is hard.”
Will tentatively reached out, very slowly, and held Nico’s hand in his own. The other boy froze, finally turning his head and looking at him.
“Hey.” This time, his voice came out normal — if only a little deeper, slightly amused. “Breathe. I’m listening.”
Nico needed a moment, but then he did take in a deep breath. Let it out slowly after a couple of seconds.
“Okay. Thanks.” He gulped. “The thing is, I like you. And I wanna date you, if you want that.” Then he added, slowly, “But I’m not sure how.”
But Nico just kept staring at him with his doe eyes, as if waiting for Will to be shocked at this revelation.
Will scratched the back of his neck.
“Nico, honey,” He made his voice sound as gentle as possible. “I had already gathered that when you panicked after we made out.”
And then his Nico scowled at him, which didn’t hide the blush his cheeks acquired.
“That’s it? You don’t know how to date someone?”
Nico shrugged, still looking a little pissed.
“It’s more like, I’m not sure I should. ‘Cause I’m still trying to figure myself out and I’m clueless at social interactions.” He paused. “Like you had apparently already gathered.”
Will’s smile fell a little when he remembered Nico interrupting their kiss, that one time, to talk about his day. When he remembered Jason being over the moon with his friend bringing a friend home. And the few traditional sketches he’d seen, all drawn from a distance.
He didn’t want that distance to exist anymore.
“Well.” He croaked, then cleared his throat. “People can be a mystery. And two heads think better than one,” He said. “Don’t you think?”
He waited for Nico to process that. Watched as the realization slowly crept into his face, followed by incredulity.
“I kicked you out of my house because I didn’t know what to do with you.” He reminded Will.
“I remember that.” Will said. “Along with a bunch of other evidence that you’re amazing.”
Oh, wait, fuck , he hadn’t meant to say that.
He cleared his throat again, thankful that his ears were hidden under a beanie, because they were probably red.
But Nico was blushing too, so not all was lost.
“I might ,” Nico finally said after a while, narrowing his eyes, looking as if he wanted to say another word. “Disappoint you.”
“Nico, that’s always a risk. And,” He breathed in. “It’s one I’m willing to take.”
Nico processed that. He seemed to be juggling his own memory, realigning the facts with the new, apparently shocking information that Will wanted to be with him.
“I,” He started, then paused. “If we were to do this, we would have to take it extremely slow.”
Will breathed out, relief and happiness bubbling up in his chest.
“Sounds good.” Will smiled. Nico smiled back, hesitant, but hopeful. “I’m not an expert on relationships myself, so we’ll both learn a lot.”
Nico huffed out a laugh. His shoulders relaxed and he finally rested him back on the chair. His hand was still in Will’s. They had mirrored smiles. The worst had passed.
“Alright. Let’s do this.” Nico breathed out. Then he said, very slowly, “Will Solace, would you like to go on a date with me?”
There was a spark in Nico’s eyes that Will would spend the rest of his life loving.