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Grandmas Are Matchmakers

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Chapter 1: Natural and forced friendships.

Will’s grandmother Rhea met another old woman recently when they came to the same comedy show last year. The two ladies sat next to each other and they started to talk when that lady commented, “That actress really needs to eat more cereal,” and Rhea nodded in agreement then replied, “But I think she also needs some more vitamins. She looks too pale.”

They became friends quickly afterward and now Will could say that they’re the best friend with each other. His family is glad when grandma can find someone to talk to her any time she wants so she doesn’t feel lonely anymore. Rhea and that old woman – if Will remembers it right, her name is Demeter – don’t live too far away, or to be more accurate, their houses are only three miles apart, so whenever Will has some free time, he’s in charge of driving his grandma over Demeter’s place and these ladies can spend all day doing their own stuff. He could pick her up around dinner time and after two months, Will already feels like he has one more grandma now.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Demeter’s a nice woman and she treats Will just as her own grandchild. But because she’s a great friend with Will’s grandma, he can’t help but feel a little bit… well, scared of her. Because despite having a sweet and friendly old-lady appearance, his grandma can kick anyone’s ass if she wants, and he knows Demeter is so similar to her in this part.

After four months being the driver that helps to construct their bridge of friendship, this is the first time he knows Demeter has a grandchild.

“He doesn’t come to my place frequently,” the old lady explains to Rhea when she asks her about the black-haired boy that Will only saw once before he retreated into a room and closed its door, just right after saying a quick hello to Will’s grandmother. He didn’t even bother to look at Will. “His name is Nico, and he’s my grandson. A good kid, but he picks up some unpleasant traits from his father, I’m afraid to say so.”

Demeter is pouring some herb tea into her decorative cups and Will suddenly feels so curious about Nico. He hasn’t met his father so he doesn’t understand what exactly Demeter’s talking about, but at least he knows Hayden – Nico’s father, usually known as the name ‘Hades’ – is a successful lawyer, but he’s cold-hearted and has a scary logical mind. His own father mentioned Hades sometimes and apparently, they’re friends, but not close. Apollo usually complains that the man is “too stoic” and “as sentimental as a thousand years old rock”. He wonders if Nico has any characteristic like his father.

Demeter continues, “He’s too quiet and secretive sometimes. He doesn’t like physical contacts just as his dad. Can you believe that I’m his grandmother and he rarely gives me a hug? That hurts, Rhea.” She glances over Will and sighs dramatically. “I wish that Nico could be as sweet as Will here. It’s so good to have such a nice grandchild.”

“You could think he’s your grandchild too, Demeter. I don’t mind,” Rhea giggles at her friend. “Will doesn’t mind either, right?”

“I… I think it’s great to have you as another grandmother, Demeter.” Will nods, doesn’t really know what should he say at this moment.

“He’s such a charming young man!” Demeter excitedly smiles at him. “Let me give you a hug, Will! You’re a sweet child! If only Nico could learn something from you to make him less grumpy-jumpy!”

“I have an idea,” Rhea sips some tea before gracefully puts her cup down to its saucer. “Why don’t you become friends with Nico, sweetie? I heard that Nico’s pretty smart and talented, so I think both of you could learn something from each other.”

“Great!” Before Will could reply, Demeter exclaims loudly. Will couldn’t believe a woman at her age could still possess such a strong voice. “Wonderful idea, my friend! I could imagine they’ll be such good friends! Anything that can make my grandson become friendlier is so fantastic! Why didn’t I think about it sooner?!”

“Told you, I’m old doesn’t mean I can’t use my brain to create amazing ideas anymore.” Rhea looks so pleased with her own thought and Demeter’s excitement, and at this moment Will knows that he will never have a chance to reject the idea of becoming Nico’s friend.

“Listen to me grandma,” Will sighs. “I think I have no problem with your idea, but I’m not sure about Nico. What if he doesn’t want to be my friend?”

“Oh sweetie, you’re such an optimistic ray of sunshine, nobody could hate you or refuse to be your friend.” Rhea winks at him.

“Don’t worry Willie, if my grandson dares to reject a friendship with you, I’ll force him to eat only cereal for months.” Demeter shrugs and Will actually feels a shudder runs down his spine at the dangerous glint from her eyes. “Now go to that door and knock it open, get into and start to make him talk to you, sweetie!”

Will swallows hard twice before reluctantly standing up and doing what his grandmas want him to do. He really has no idea how could he make that mission succeed.

Getting a friendship with Nico seems to be an impossible task.

The door is violently opened after the third knock. Standing in front of Will is a boy that’s shorter than him about one couple of inches, but the icy glare from his eyes can make anyone feel like they just piss him off somehow.

“Get inside.” Nico commands and Will wordlessly follows the boy. The black-haired boy closes the door with a deafening smashing sound before plopping down to his bed and gesturing Will to take a seat.

“I know what you want from me,” before Will could say anything, Nico glances at him coldly. “But thanks, I don’t need a new friend.”

“Our grandmothers insist.” Will tries to reason with the boy, because if he doesn’t do anything, he knows his grandma will snap his head off when they get home.

“I couldn’t care less,” Nico snorts. “I say I don’t want to be your friend and I mean it.”

“At least you could try, please?” Will is almost begging now. “Your grandma said that if you refuse, she will force you to eat cereal for months.”

“Let her do it, I’m not afraid of her,” Nico shrugs nonchalantly, then a dangerous smirk appears on his face. “And it’s not like I haven’t refused to eat for weeks before. After all, she’ll be the first one to get scared that I could die from hunger, dehydration and malnourishment.”

“Well, you’re not afraid, but I am,” Will sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, even though a part of his mind is feeling worried about what Nico just said. “So could you please do this for my own sake, please? Pretty please with a cherry on top, just be my friend.”

“Look at my face,” Nico tells Will and the blond looks straight at his face. “Look closely and carefully.”

Will nods and doesn’t take his eyes off the other’s face. At this point, he has to admit that Nico possesses such a breath-taking beauty. His facial features are so aesthetic: long elegant eyelashes, big obsidian eyes that look like bottomless abysses, well-sculptured nose, bow-shaped lips with a faint shade of pink, and well-defined jawlines. He looks like a living work of art, and Will likes his face immediately.

“And?” The blond boy slightly tilts his head to the left, isn’t sure what’s going on.

“Tell me honestly, does it look like I care?”

“…” Will couldn’t think of a response to Nico’s cheeky smirk. Honestly? The boy looks hot with that smug smile, but Will won’t admit that any time soon. They haven’t been friends yet for God’s sake.

“I take that as a “no” then,” Nico shrugs and turns his back at Will. “Sit there and be quiet. You’re free to leave when you can’t stand the atmosphere inside this room anymore, I don’t mind. You could get out right at this moment and I’ll appreciate that.”

At that point, Will thinks he has had enough. He stands up and walks toward Nico’s spot with a determined look on his face. He grabs the boy’s shoulders and quite forcefully turns him around.

“Listen,” Will clears his throat and starts to speak in a commanding tone, doesn’t give a damn about the surprised look that quickly changed into an uncomfortable one on Nico’s face. “You think I’m that desperate to be your friend? If I have a choice, I’ll refuse to even try to talk to you in the first place. You’re too cold, arrogant and so rude! It isn’t a surprise that your grandma isn’t satisfied with your manner. I hear that you’re intelligent, but being a prideful smartass will only get you into trouble, kid.”

“You have no rights…” Nico glares daggers at Will, but the blond stares back and even has the audacity to put a hand over his mouth, effectively shut him up.

Ignoring Nico’s muffled protest, Will continues, “Here I have an offer, and you’d better listen carefully because I won’t repeat it: Be my friend, and let me fix that cocky attitude of yours. You’re way cuter when you don’t open your mouth, and that’s not a really good thing so you have to try to control your words first.”

Will doesn’t look away from Nico’s deadly glare and they don’t break their intense eye-contact for at least one minute before the smaller boy blinks and rolls his eyes. He then frowns and looks down at Will’s hand which is still covering his mouth, so Will slowly takes that hand back, but he doesn’t let go of the boy.

“You’re not a coward as I thought you were,” Nico comments, the corner of his lips slowly twitches into a cheeky, dangerous smirk. “That’s interesting, you demand to be my friend so you can fix my attitude? Let’s see how long can you endure before you hide your tail between your legs and run away with the fastest speed that you can do.”

“I request a clear answer,” Will scowls at Nico’s choice of words. “Is that a yes?”

“That’s a yes, dumbass,” Nico rolls his eyes again. “From this moment, we’re friends just as you want, happy now?”

“You really need to have a course about how to use polite words.” Will chuckles, but then his eyes widen when Nico suddenly punches him so hard that he falls onto the floor, clutching his hands at his stomach, pain is written all over his expression.

“And you need a life-long lesson about never touching me without my permission,” Nico glares at Will, doesn’t look regret at his action at all. “The next time you lay a finger on my body, I’ll break your face.”

Will groans when he tries to sit up. Their grandmas are so, so wrong. There is no way in hell he and Nico could be great friends. So plan B is finding a way to fake it at least in front of their grandmas, and he could only hope that Nico will cooperate with him about this.

End of chapter 1 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: He’s cute, but he’s such an ass.

“That sounds… intriguing,” Lou Ellen decides after two minutes of silence. Then she shrieks when Will growls and throws a pillow at her. “What do you expect me to say anyway?!”

“That’s not interesting. Not. At. All.” Will sighs and buries his face in his blanket. “I don’t want to be his friend and he doesn’t want to be mine either. What did our grandmas think when they suggested that we could be good friends? He can’t even stand to be in the same room with me for ten minutes without glaring daggers at me or completely ignoring my entire existence.”

The blond boy only sighs heavier when he remembers yesterday. Three hours after their heated argument, he still refused to leave the room and Nico just let him there. Only half of an hour passed and the atmosphere was at the most awkward level that Will had ever experienced in his life. He could hold a knife to cut through the thickness and serve it on a plate. A nice dish for his grandma to enjoy before biting his head off.

“And now you’re here, totally head over heels with his appearance, even though you dislike his attitude,” Lou Ellen chuckles and dodges another pillow that Will just threw at her. “That’s why I said it’s intriguing.”

“I’m not head over heels with his appearance,” Will protests, rolling his eyes when he raises his head up and sees her cheeky smile. “I hate him, I hate that arrogant smirk and those sarcastic smartass comments. I hate everything about him and we need to pretend we’re best buddies with matching friendship bracelets shining on our wrists. My life sucks.”

“It doesn’t sound like that when you mentioned his eyes the third time in our conversation,” the girl shrugs, doesn’t try to hide her wide grin. “And you even noticed how his lips look like and found some words to describe its color too. Does that sound normal to you as for how someone is supposed to act around the person they hate?”

“Now I hate you with a great passion, Lou.” Will doesn’t bother to throw anything at her anymore.

“Does that mean you will start to look at my lips and notice which shade of lipstick I chose for today too?” She teases and Will glares half-hearted at her, but then he sighs in defeat.

At least she’s right about some weird feelings he has for Nico. He hates that kid and he’s sure about that, but pure hate doesn’t include the fluttering heartbeats inside his chest when he looked at Nico for more than one minute, or how he noticed the way his lips were moving when he talked, or… he doesn’t know anymore. Maybe he should stop thinking for a while.

“Well, I could see one good news among that bunch of problems,” Will sits up from his bed and shrugs. “I only need to see him when I drive my grandma to Demeter’s house and he coincidentally happens to be there. Which he doesn’t frequently, thank the God.”

“Admit that, you do want to see him again.” Lou purses her bottom lip at him and winks playfully.

“I want to see him again doesn’t mean I want to talk with him, or have any business with him at all,” Will rolls his eyes at his best friend. “Could we drop that topic now?”

“You brought it up first,” Lou snorts. “And I can’t wait to see Cecil’s face when I tell him this story. We’re waiting for years to set you up with someone new since the last time you dated, but it seems like your fabulous grandma already stole our spotlight.”

“I broke up just eleven months ago, Lou. It’s not even a full year.”

“That’s still a too long period without seeing you hand in hand with anyone,” the girl sighs when she places her hand on Will’s left shoulder. “Trust me, as your best friend, I just want you to be happy.”

“I’m content with what I have now. I don’t think being friend with such a spoiled brat like Nico could help me feel happy.”

“We’ll see,” Lou replies him and their conversation ends here when Will’s mom calls them to come down to the kitchen for some cupcakes she just made.

***

Will refuses to believe that Nico doesn’t come to his grandmother’s house frequently. Because it’s the third time in this week he drives Rhea over there and Demeter just smiled sweetly at him before shoving him into Nico’s room and closing the door.

“She threatened me to come here or she will convince my stepmom to make me take care of the huge garden at my house,” Nico glares at Will’s confusing expression. “I have no choice.”

“This is the first time you speak to me since you punched me in the guts.” Will points out, but he isn’t sure why that’s the first thing came to his mind. Oh, and dear gods, did he mention before that the boy possesses such a mellifluous voice? The kind of voice that can make even cursing words sound like music to others’ ears.

Okay, Will could admit that he’s being a little bit biased here.

“And? You expect me to apologize? In your dream, blondie.” Nico slightly tilts his head to the left side, a small smirk is dancing on his lips.

“No, you’re an arrogant, spoiled brat, so I don’t think you will voluntarily say sorry,” Will shrugs nonchalantly, “And I have a name, by the way. It’s William Solace.”

“Uh huh,” Nico nods before turning his back at Will. “Like I care.”

“What’s your full name? I don’t know, and your grandma didn’t tell me. She told me to ask you by myself.” Will still tries to make conversation, and a part of the reasons is he really wants to hear Nico’s voice and get to know the younger boy.

Nico replies him with silence. Great, the kid just doesn’t let him be a good person, does he? Could someone remind him again why their grandmas think that they will be great friends?

“Fine, I’ll try another way to get information,” Will groans, starting to feel so impatient with that black-haired boy. Possessing such an ethereal beauty isn’t an excuse for someone to act like a douchebag.

Maybe Lou was right. Will’s really obsessed with Nico’s face. A little bit. No, scratch that. A huge obsession with that face is what Will feels right now, so he’s pissed off when Nico refuses to sit face to face with him.

Five minutes later, Nico puts down the pencil in his hand and asks Will with irritation’s dripping in his voice. “What’s your problem?”

Will thinks for two seconds. “Trying to be your friend is such a tiresome task.”

“So stop doing that,” Nico snorts, “Nobody forces you.”

“Our grandmothers…”

“Are just two old ladies with such a wrong belief that I could make friend with someone who radiates sunlight and happiness like you,” Nico cuts off his reason with a glare. “I’m dark and twisted. I don’t want to be near such a ray of sunshine, it’s too bright that it makes me blind and feel uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think that’s an insult.” Will chuckles.

“And I don’t care what you think,” Nico waves his hand at Will and picks up his pencil. “Could you go out and find something else to do? I’m sick of being in the same room with you.”

“Too bad you’re stuck with me and all the brightness,” Will mocks, and he feels a little bit satisfied with the crease that just formed between Nico’s eyebrows. “Get used to it.”

Now Nico is scrutinizing him suspiciously. “Why are you so stubborn about this? I make it clear that I don’t want to be your friend and I can tell that you feel the same.”

“No, now I do want to be your friend,” the blond shrugs and grins. “You’re interesting in a frustrating way.”

“Are you really that masochist?” The black-haired boy raises an eyebrow and sighs. “Fine, whatever. Just sit there, be quiet and in case you can do better, be invisible if that’s what you want.”

“What are you doing?” Ten seconds later, Will casually opens his mouth.

“Which parts of “be quiet” or “be invisible” that can’t get inside your thick skull?” Nico gives him an icy glare and Will just stares back.

“I understand, but I refuse to act the way you told me,” the blond boy smirks. He still can bite, you know. “So, what are you doing?”

“Drawing,” Nico mumbles. “Don’t disturb me, I need to concentrate.”

“Your drawing is cool,” Will stands up and looks over the smaller boy’s shoulder. “Do you take art classes?”

“I ace art classes,” Nico mutters with a hint of pride underneath his tone. “And I’m being serious, stop annoying me.”

“I take music ones,” Will grins. “I play accordion, saxophone, and clarinet. Not very good, but I’m learning how to make sounds with a guitar too.”

“Stay away from my back.” Nico doesn’t react with his rambling about music instruments, but when Will leans down a little bit to take a closer look at his drawing, he hisses dangerously.

“Why do you need to be that overly cautious?” Will can’t understand the boy’s attitude at all, and in one moment, he forgets Nico’s threat the last time he touched him, so he puts a hand on the black-haired boy’s shoulder. “I’m not doing–…”

Nico visibly flinches at the contact and he immediately jerks away with an angry shout. “Don’t touch me!”

“Hey, yo–…” Will extends his arm toward Nico but the younger boy nearly jumps backward to avoid it. But because he is still in a half-sitting posture, the chair between them falls down when he trips over its leg and loses his balance. Will’s trying to help, but he stands too close so that when the chair falls, it presses on his right foot and he jumps up in pain, loses his own balance during the progress and ends up falling onto Nico’s body.

The smaller boy freezes under the blond, his eyes widen with an unreadable expression on his face. Will holds his breaths when he realizes the tips of their noses are only half an inch apart and with this close distance, he could count each small freckle across Nico’s cheeks, they’re so tiny with nearly identical color with the black-haired boy’s skin that makes them almost invisible if he doesn’t squint his eyes.

And holy motherfu**** is it legal for a boy to possess such elegant eyelashes like this? Nico blinks, and for one moment Will thinks he just lost inside those dark obsidian bottomless abysses.

“You. Get up. Now.” Nico stresses each word with an undeniable dangerous tone of voice. Will locks his eyes with Nico’s and he’s taken aback with surprise when he sees something hidden under the anger. Is that… fear?

He doesn’t move even just one muscle, just foolishly freezing there over Nico and trying to decipher the complex look in his eyes. But the black-haired boy isn’t a patient person, so he growls and hisses. “You choose that for yourself, Solace.”

The next thing the blond knows is he’s flying across the room with stars dancing in front of his eyes. Everything turns white for a split moment before he starts to see normally, and the wet, metallic scent under his nose tells him that it’s bleeding.

Will winces and puts a hand under his nose, his eyes widen when he retreats it and sees so much red blood. “You punched me in the face?!”

“I already warned you, the next time you touch me without my permission I’ll break your face.” Nico is standing now, both his hands curled up into fists, and his voice is lower than normal, laced with anger and irritation.

“I hardly touched you! You were falling and all I did was just trying to help!” Will throws up both of his arms over his head with a frustrating sigh.

“And so what? I don’t need your help in the first place! If you didn’t stand behind me and annoyingly ask so many questions, I can avoid all those things!” Nico shouts back but Will scowls when he sees the younger boy is trembling slightly.

Does he really hate physical contacts that much? Will understands the definition of personal space and he knows some people just don’t find it comfortable when someone invades their own space, but Nico… are his reactions just pure distaste?

Repulsion only doesn’t explain all the complexity in that look of his eyes at that moment. Will swears that even it was just a split second, he did see fear hidden underneath his anger.

Does that mean… Nico’s also scared of someone touching him, not just simply that he hates it?

“Listen, I didn’t try to make you feel distressing, okay?” Will uses a calmer, quieter tone to ease the boy’s wrath. “It was a misunderstanding, and I’m sorry for touching you without asking you first.”

Nico seems taken aback at his apology. He looks confused for a moment, and Will could see the anger is slowly drained from his body. His fists loosen up, the crease between his eyebrows disappears. The black-haired boy slightly bites his bottom lip before letting out a heavy sigh.

“Okay,” he says, and now his voice is back to its normal tone. It’s cold and almost monotonous, but the mellifluent flow is there. “I get it.”

“So… you’re not angry at me anymore, right?” Will hopefully asks, even though a small part of his brain is still screaming that he’s the one with a bleeding nose here and why is he also the one that apologized first? That really seems quite unfair.

“No,” Nico mutters, plopping down to his bed and staring at the floor. “I’m not angry anymore. And… sorry about that. Your nose, I mean.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not the first time you attack me,” Will grins but then he grimaces because his facial muscles hurt. Nico might look small, but he’s definitely stronger than his appearance suggests. “My nose is still bleeding. Where could I find something to stop it?”

“Let me get the first aid kit, it’s in the living room,” Nico stands up and walks toward the door, but before opening it, he turns back and glares at Will. “Don’t get out until your nose comes back to its normal state. I don’t want to upset your grandma that I hit her beloved grandson.”

“I think it’s because you don’t want to get into trouble with your own grandma when you punched me in my face?” Will jokes, his voice is teasing.

“Shut up.” That’s all of Nico’s reply before he gets out of the room and thirty seconds later he comes back with the first aid kit.

The black-haired boy puts the box down at Will’s feet and scowls. “Can you do it yourself?”

“I don’t learn so hard to apply to a Pre-Med course for nothing.” Will shrugs and opens the box, shuffling for some seconds so he can get what he needs.

“I thought you said you take a lot of music classes?”

Nico frowns when he sits down beside Will. The blond tears open a bag of cotton wool and puts some under his nostrils. “I do. Mainly for relaxing and entertainment purposes, though. It’s like a family thing. What about you? All the art classes are for fun or you’re actually so passionate about that?”

“I love creating beautiful things,” Nico shrugs when looking up at the ceiling, where Will thinks it’s he that drew all those stars, constellations and a picturesque blue crescent. “But I’m not sure I really want to make a living from drawing. What a coincidence, I’m thinking about joining a Pre-Med course too.”

“We don’t have many choices though. I did some researches, there’re just some courses are good enough.”

“So I might need to reconsider my choices to avoid applying to the same course with you,” Nico smirks when he looks at Will, and the blond honestly doesn’t know he’s telling the truth or just messing with his mind.

“It’s so sad that one second before I actually just thought I might like you a little bit more because deep down, you could be a nice person,” Will fakes a heart-broken noise. “I was wrong. You’re still such an ass.”

“My pleasure,” Nico sticks out his tongue at Will in a childish way that the blond thinks he’s more adorable than annoying. “Anyway, my name is Nico di Angelo.”

“Wow, it’s not an American name,” Will doesn’t really surprise that much because he thought Nico has a slight accent in his voice, but he couldn’t place it before. Now that makes sense. “You’re Italian? How long have you been here?”

“Half-Italian, actually,” Nico blinks, and Will doesn’t need some constant reminder about how elegant those eyelashes are, so thank you, Nico. “I was born there, but my family moved here when I was ten.”

“Do you still remember how to speak Italian?” Will smiles brightly even though he still has two big cotton wool balls with dried blood under his nose. “That language is so melodic, I love those opera songs that were written in Italian! Could you speak some Italian for me, please? It’s even better if you can sing!”

“Io non la penso così, idiota.”

“I don’t really understand what did you just say, but I still get the last word,” Will stares at the smaller boy. “And I’m not an idiot.”

“Qualsiasi cosa tu dica,” Nico breaths out with a giggle and Will really can’t figure out that he’s more like angry or attracted to that teasing voice. “Stupido.”

“Now that’s funny in a frustrating way and I honestly don’t know if I want you to continue or not.”

“Sei un idiota, William Solace.” Nico looks straight to Will’s eyes when his mellifluous voice just goes directly into Will’s ears and now it’s stuck inside his brain in repeating mode.

Holyshit that sounds more attractive and hotter than Will thinks and now he really needs Nico to stop teasing him with that quite seductive accent before he needs to make some excuses if he develops an awkward boner in this situation.

“Okay, stop that. I have to admit that you’re cute, but no matter what, you’re still an asshole.” He closes his eyes and lets out a sigh, trying so hard to ignore Nico’s adorable laugh right next to his ear. Even his laughing voice sounds so nice as a melody.

Gods, Will’s so, so doomed.

End of chapter 2 – TBC.

Translations for some Italian sentences that Nico said. I don’t know much about Italian so if I made any mistake, please let me know. Thank you for reading!

“Io non la penso così, idiota.”: I don’t think so, idiot.

“Qualsiasi cosa tu dica,”: Whatever you say. “Stupido.”: Stupid.

“Sei un idiota, William Solace.”: You’re an idiot, William Solace.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Blond guys are equal to annoyance.

“You and Solace only met about three times and you already punched him twice?” Jason grins widely, his eyes are sparkling with amusement. “He could count that as a personal record. Even Percy can’t make you angry that much when you both know so little about each other.”

“He touched me without permission,” the black-haired boy groans when he feels Jason’s hand is slowly moving toward his hair. “Ruffling my hair again and I will chop your hand off and feed it to your dog.”

Jason is clearly not scared of losing one hand by Nico because his fingers are already tangled in those long fluffy curls. “Your hair is so soft, Neeks.”

“If I get one dollar each time someone tells me that, I might be a millionaire now,” Nico hisses mockingly. “You, Reyna and Hazel are all obsessed with my hair. I can’t recall even just one day I talk to you guys and not getting my hair touched.” He accuses, but his voice lacks of the usual venom.

“I’m one of those rare people that can touch you without asking for permission every time so I guess I need to make use of my privileges as much as I could,” Jason smirks at the smaller boy and continues to touch his hair. “Hey, tell me more about that Solace guy.”

“There’s nothing more to tell you,” Nico frowns. “After the bleeding nose incident, we talked for a while before his grandma needed a ride back to home. Just school stuff, nothing important. I haven’t met him again since that day.”

Jason chuckles teasingly. “I haven’t heard a single word about his appearance.”

“Why do you need to?” Nico looks slightly confused. “I think he looks like you. The same blond hair, blue eyes, and tanned skin. Typical American young boys. He radiates more sunshine than you and it’s so annoying, that’s all.”

“I do not radiate sunshine.” Jason blinks, he looks quite surprised at this comment.

“Yes you do, you dork,” Nico glares at him half-heartedly. “Your optimistic attitude towards almost everything makes me feel repulsive many times, but at least I have a moderate tolerance level with you. Solace is worse.”

“If you say so, I think you radiate darkness,” Jason winks at his best friend. “You’ve got that dark, icy, scary goth-boy atmosphere around you, admit that.”

“You know that I’m dark and twisted,” Nico shrugs. “And seriously, stop touching my hair. Your petting technique is so terrible that I’m scared I’ll be bald.”

“You’re sure a moody cat.”

“Say that again and this ‘moody cat’ will scratch your face until you can’t recognize it anymore.”

“Don’t need to be so threatening, Neeks,” Jason winks at the black-haired boy, finally retreating his hand. “I need that face to complete my ‘typical American young boy’ look.”

“Blond boys like you are the worst,” Nico sighs heavily when he takes out his phone to check the new message and grimaces. “I have to come to Demeter’s place this weekend. Ugh, what a pain.”

“It’s quite a long time since the last chance I had to meet your grandma,” Jason smiles. “Want me to tag along with you?”

“And multiple the sunshine and brightness that radiates from both you and Solace?” Nico glares at his best friend. “I still wanna be alive, so no thanks.”

“Actually I’m gonna suggest that Solace and I could get to know each other and somehow figure out a way to decrease our shining brilliance when we’re around you, but if you don’t like that idea…” Jason trails off with a shrug.

Nico scrutinizes Jason with suspicion’s rolling off his figure until three minutes later, he sighs. “That… doesn’t sound too bad.”

“So that’s a yes?” The blond boy grins victoriously. Nico rolls his eyes.

“Yeah, that’s a yes. Meet me at my house, Saturday 8 A.M.”

“Aww, I know you can’t resist my charm, Neeks.” Jason winks and earns a deadly glare from the half-Italian boy.

“Now I can’t decide which one is worse between you and Solace anymore.”

***

It’s just ten minutes since Nico and Jason greeted Demeter and the smaller boy already regrets his early decision. He was right, letting Jason and Will meet is like multiplying the sunshine that emits from both of them and he really can’t stand all that brightness. He feels an urgent need to hide inside a dark closet for the rest of his life right now.

“Don’t make such a face, Neeks,” Jason stops in the middle of the conversation with Will and moves closer to Nico, starting to ruffle his hair. “You’re more beautiful when you smile.”

“I have no reason to smile inside that room. Too much light that it makes me blind.” Nico complains but doesn’t slap the blond’s hand away. Will frowns at this scene, but he doesn’t say anything.

“It’s not that bad,” Jason rolls his eyes, then he continues with an encouraging voice. “Try to smile, you’ll feel better.”

“I’m sure it’s that bad,” Nico retorts. “Your light is harassing my darkness. I feel violated.”

“If you’re a cat, I think your fur is all bristling right now,” Jason chuckles. “Which is an interesting sight that I really wanna see, though.”

Nico gives Jason a very disapproving look and slaps his hand away. “That’s enough! Stop touching my hair! Hey, what are you doing?!”

The half-Italian boy nearly screams the last sentence when Jason suddenly lifts him up on his shoulder and walks toward Will.

“Put me down!” Nico angrily smashes at Jason’s back, but the blond completely ignores him until he stops in front of Will and grins mischievously.

“I think we shouldn’t neglect you too long, Will.” He smiles when putting Nico down between Will and himself. “Sorry for this cat’s behaviour. Sometimes he’s unpredictable and hard to control.”

“I…” Will looks slightly perplexed, like he’s having a lot of thoughts inside his mind right now and he doesn’t know what should he say first. “Are you sure he doesn’t mind being carried like that?” He gestures at the way Jason’s arm is still wrapping around Nico’s slender waist.

“I don’t think he has any problem with me touching him,” Jason shrugs and reaches his arm to ruffle Nico’s hair again. “Right, Neeks?”

“Don’t abuse your privileges, Grace,” Nico growls and curses under his breaths. “I hate you.”

Will looks even more confusing with the closeness between Jason and Nico. The smallest boy doesn’t seem uncomfortable with Jason’s arm around his waist or Jason’s fingers tangled in his curls at all, he just looks mildly annoyed, but he doesn’t make any strong reaction.

Unlike with Will, even though he barely touched the boy. And it’s clear that Jason doesn’t need to ask for permission to make physical contacts with Nico.

“Do you have anything else to question us?” Jason pulls Nico closer to him and hugs the smaller boy from behind, placing his chin on top of Nico’s head. “You look bewildered.”

“Hey, I don’t need you giant to remind that you’re taller than me several inches!” Nico protests and tries to squirm away from Jason’s embrace. They look like a bickering couple at this moment and Will suddenly feels a little bit jealous.

“Are you two…” He asks, but then he thinks that’s none of his business. “No, nevermind. How long have you two been friends?”

“About… ten or eleven years ago, I think?” Jason looks thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t really remember, we met when we’re so small. Our fathers have known each other for a long time. I’m still not sure they’re friends or enemies.”

“Jason’s father is a businessman,” Nico sighs in defeat when he stops struggling. “My father is a lawyer. Their jobs have some crossed paths and they met several times before, in different circumstances. I can say that not all of those times are pleasant for both of them.”

“And that’s why I don’t want to be a businessman like my father since I still want to keep my friendship with Nico,” Jason laughs, amusement sparkling in his eyes. “His job is tiresome. I don’t think Nico want to be a lawyer either, even though he has a great logical mind and he’s brilliant in math and science. What’re your strengths, Will?”

“I think I love science, especially biology,” Will blinks, clearly didn’t expect the sudden change of subject. “I’m learning to be a doctor, to be honest.”

“Nico talked about it with me a while ago,” Jason grins. “If he still wants to keep that decision, you guys should attend the same course. It will be fun!”

“What’s exactly your definition of “fun” with bloody human body parts and gruesome trauma cases, Jason?” The black-haired boy says with a mocking tone in his voice. Will restrains himself from rolling his eyes. Still a prideful sarcastic smartass, nothing changes.

“We’re talking about medical stuff, not criminal scenes, Neeks.”

“Same differences,” Nico even has the audacity to smirk at this point. “Even though being a forensic expert has its own benefits. You can cut open someone’s body without worrying about their life afterward, or you can forget something inside them but you’ll never get sued.”

Will isn’t sure should he laugh at this comment or not. It’s not wrong, it’s balancing on the blurred line between hilarious and disturbing and honestly he can’t choose a side.

“I don’t think I really want to continue that conversation with you,” Jason grimaces as he just swallowed something so distasteful and looks at Will expectantly. “Can you find something interesting for us to talk about? Change the subject, please.”

“Sure…” Will nods, trying to think about another topic. “Do you have a pet?”

“You did not just…” Nico’s eyes widen, then he sighs when Jason beams brightly at this and opens his mouth. “Here we go.”

An hour later, Will already knew about Jason’s dog named Tempest more than he ever wanted to.

“So, he’s cute, isn’t he?” Jason nudges Will at the shoulder when Nico just went out to get them some more tea and cakes. “Don’t you dare deny it, I saw the look you gave him during our conversation.”

“I think if you’re his friend for such a long time, you already knew the fact,” Will shrugs. “He’s adorable, I admit that. But he’s also an asshole.”

“For irritating strangers or someone that he doesn’t like, yeah,” Jason laughs genuinely. “But when you get to know him better, he’s a big sweetheart inside.”

“I’m not sure about that,” Will looks mildly sad for a moment before letting out a heavy sigh. “He doesn’t even let me get closer to him. Both physically and figuratively.”

“Nico has some trust issues,” Jason looks away, seeming lost in thoughts. “He has his own reasons for that, though. I think I’m not in the position to tell you.”

“Is it hard…” Will trails off because he doesn’t sure how should he phrase the question. “Is it challenging to earn his trust?”

“Very,” Jason nods at him, then offering a sympathetic smile when Will face-palms. “But after all, when you’re finally in his trustworthy people list, it’s more than just worth it.”

“I’m counting on your words.” Will smiles back, even though he still has a lot of self-doubts about his ability to gain Nico’s trust.

At this moment, Nico comes back with a tray of herb tea and some pieces of chocolate cake. He observes both the blonds suspiciously. “What did you two talk about when I got out of this room?”

“Nothing,” They both answer him, and Jason flashes Nico a wide grin. Will tries to put on an emotionless expression, but he thinks he doesn’t succeed with that.

“Something definitely is going on then,” Nico decides while putting down the tray. “But I don’t think I really wanna know, so whatever.”

“Just working on our solution for all the brightness that you complain about before,” Jason teases when he takes a piece of cake. “And we came to the decision just one minute ago.”

“Yeah?” Nico looks at him but it doesn’t seem like he’s expecting anything at all.

“We’re two cases of incurable awesomeness so I’m afraid to tell you that there’s nothing we could do to reduce the amount of sunshine that we radiate.”

Will bursts out in a laugh at this and even though Nico just gave Jason a super disapproving glance, the corner of his mouth is raising into a small smile.

“You guys just confirm my hypothesis,” Nico shakes his head at them, but because he’s smiling so Will doesn’t think he’s going to insult them badly. “Blond guys are equal to annoyance. And I don’t know which one of you annoys me more.”

“Shall we make a competition to find out?” Jason elbows Will, his eyes are shining with amusement. “Your opinion, Will? And I won’t complain if you chicken out. Nico already knew how awesome I am.”

“You’re so on.”

Will makes a challenge-accepted smirk and Nico just sighs heavily while mumbling something sounds suspicious like “What have I done to deserve this anyway?”

End of chapter 3 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: What’s the content of that play anyway?

“Grandmother, you know I don’t like watching play,” Nico tries to speak with the most polite tone that he could manage. “So no, I won’t come with you.”

“You don’t even have to pay for the tickets or drive,” Demeter gives the boy a very disapproving look. “All you need to do are putting on some decent clothes, sitting inside a car and watching a play. A three years old baby could do that better than you without trying, you ungrateful child.”

“With all due respect, grandma, in that case, could you find a three years old child to replace me, please?” Nico asks, but his tone suggests that there’s almost none respect to be due.

“Trust me, Nico, if Persephone agreed to get conceived years ago as I wanted, you’ll never be my favourite grandchild.” Demeter hisses angrily.

“I don’t even know I’m your favoritism, what an honor,” Nico rolls his eyes at the older woman. “But that’s irrelevant. I’m not coming, grandmother.”

“You’re still not coming even if I tell your father that you secretly dropped the Political Science class that he specially chose for you?” Demeter knows she can’t convince that stubborn child with sweet words, so she changes the plan.

“Why do you know… Never mind, I forgot that the lecturer is one of your friends,” Nico sighs heavily. “Great move, grandmother. Very great.”

“I’ll ignore your rudeness this time because I focus on the more important thing,” Demeter huffs, a smile slowly forms on her face. “So you’ll come, right?”

“Just this once,” Nico mumbles in defeat, then dodging away when Demeter beams at this and extends her arms in an attempt to hug him. “No, grandmother. You just blackmailed me one minute ago, remember? No hugs for you.”

“Still as ungrateful and grumpy-jumpy as ever,” the older woman sighs and shakes her head. “Why can’t you be as sweet as Will, honey?”

“Don’t “honey” me,” Nico stands up and walks to his room. “Excuse me grandma, but I have to get some stuff done. Please don’t disturb me in the next ten hours.”

***

Will really couldn’t decide which situation is scarier: his grandma Rhea suddenly insists him to let her drive or the fact that he needs to sit next to a mildly offended Nico di Angelo for a goddamn 2-hour period inside the car that Rhea drives.

Maybe both of them are equally terrifying after all.

“Why don’t you talk to each other, sweetie?” Demeter asks from the front passenger’s seat. She looks like she’s having fun instead of being dreadful with Rhea’s driving skills. Another reminder why they’re best friends.

“I don’t think…” Nico trails off when he sees his grandma glares at him when he looks in the mirror. “Fine. Solace, do you want to talk?”

“Yeah…” Will reluctantly replies, doesn’t know how should he react.

“I don’t. Conversation over.”

Will rolls his eyes and looks away. Fine with him then. He might like the smaller boy’s face, but he really can’t stand his attitude.

“Nico!” Demeter groans unsatisfied. “Behave, boy, or I’ll make you regret you’ve been born to be my grandchild.”

“I didn’t ask for it,” Nico scowls. “And I don’t have anything to talk about with Solace.”

“You should begin with trying to call each other by their first name,” Rhea suggests with an attempt to lighten the mood. “Solace sounds nice but way too distant. I think Will prefers being called by his name too.”

“William Solace,” Nico grunts without looking at the blond. “Satisfied now?”

“I didn’t ask for it,” Will mocks when he repeats the statement Nico just said some seconds ago. “And grandma, it’s fine. It’s just a name after all.”

“You still have one and a half hour before we get to the destination. Make at least one decent conversation, you two, before I violently bite your heads off.” Demeter turns over to look straight at the young boys and threaten them.

“I’ll try, but no promises.” Will nods at her, but Nico looks like he doesn’t bother to give a damn. The blond scowls at his attitude, he knows the boy’s stubborn, but can’t he act more courteous and respectful with his grandmother? That’s really unacceptable.

Will seriously wonders what had he done to deserve this anyway.

Thirty minutes quickly passed by and Nico still refuses to open his mouth. Will sighs when he decides to make small talks at first. Okay, here we come the disaster…

“How was your week?”

“I was forced to be in the same room with you for hours 4 times last week, so I’d say it’s terrible.”

“You didn’t look like you had no fun when Jason came over,” Will shrugs, even though he doesn’t understand why does he bring this subject up. Since the first time he met Jason and observed his chemistry with Nico, he always feels slightly jealous whenever he thinks about that. “You smiled more than all the times I’ve seen you.”

“Because that’s Jason,” Nico mumbles quietly. “He’s different.”

“Care to tell me the reasons why?” Will asks, but honestly, he doesn’t expect to get an answer at that. Demeter once told him that Nico’s secretive about his feelings more than she could imagine.

“We’re friends. He understands me.” Nico replies with a monotonous tone. He seems uncomfortable like he doesn’t want to discuss it.

“I thought we both agreed that now we’re friends too?”

“I don’t think you could call that situation was a mutual agreement,” Nico glares at the blond and scoffs. “You demanded to be my friend so that you can fix my attitude, remember?”

“Regardless of the method, we’re friends now,” Will chuckles, trying to lighten the atmosphere. “What can I do to make you feel more comfortable around me, honestly? Like when you’re with Jason? I have to say I envy the way he interacts with you a little bit.”

“The first step is shutting the hell up,” Nico smirks at Will and man, he both loves and hates that damn cheeky smirk right now because the black-haired boy looks hot whenever he wears that expression, but he’s also mocking him. “Will be the most effective if you do it right now.”

Will looks mildly offended. “I opt to ignore that step then. What else?”

“You failed at the first step, and you still think you can get through the others?” Nico glances at him suspiciously. “I don’t suppose that.”

“Just give me a chance,” Will breaths out in annoyance. “I deserve it at least.”

“If you insist,” Nico shrugs. “There’s no second step. I dislike you, so it’s impossible for me to feel comfortable with you.”

“Nico di Angelo.” Demeter growls from the front seat.

Will visibly shivers at that, but the black-haired boy still looks so calm like he’s unaffected. Nico glances at Will and smirks, so the blond quickly looks away, before he could feel his face heats up.

“She threatens me, why the hell are you the one who gets scared?”

“In case you haven’t noticed, your grandma is truly terrifying if she wants to,” Will mutters quietly, still refusing to look at the other boy.

“I guess that runs in the blood,” Nico hums triumphantly. “Don’t try to piss me off if you still value your life.”

“I’m not the one who is pissing the other off in that conversation,” Will rolls his eyes, then he looks straight at the black-haired boy. “You’re a rude, obstinate, spoiled little brat.”

“Didn’t know you have such a colorful vocabulary to describe me like that,” Nico doesn’t look offended at all, in contrast, he seems interested. “Anything more?”

“I’m insulting you, and you want to hear more?” Will scowls at that, he doesn’t think Nico is the kind of person that can calmly take all the malicious words that throw at him.

“I only care about what people that are important to me think about me,” Nico replies. “In other words, your opinions don’t matter at all.”

Will is grateful that their conversation is interrupted by a loud noise and the way Rhea violently stomps her foot on the breaker and lets the car drift for at least twenty meters is enough to make everyone feel glad that they’re still alive.

If the face Nico made when he’s sitting next to Will inside the car was offended, now he looks extremely pissed off when Demeter forces him to sit next to Will inside the theatre, and their grandmas sit right after them to ‘make sure you two stubborn kids will act like well-functioned human beings.’

“This is ridiculous,” Nico begrudgingly snorts. “I don’t like plays and Demeter knows that.”

“You think I like them?” Will replies gloomily. “I don’t have the taste of an elder.”

“We could hear you, sweetie!” Rhea utters behind their backs.

Will sighs heavily, and Nico decides to keep his mouth shut until the end of the performance. He could survive three hours of pure boredom if he tries hard enough.

“What if we find something else to focus instead?” Will suggests after ten minutes of unpleasant silence between them, even though around the two of them people are still talking in low voices since the play hasn’t started yet.

“I don’t like you, and I don’t want to talk to you unless it’s extremely necessary, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Me neither,” Will lies – because he does want to have normal conversations with the other boy, but he thinks sometimes a white lie is still acceptable. “But could we just set our mutual distaste for each other aside for three hours? I don’t want to die from tediousness, and I know you think like that too.”

“You have a point,” Nico sighs. “Life sucks when I have to choose between the bad choice and the worse one.”

“I’m trying to be a good person, and I’m pleading you to let me be.”

“Unless you kneel down on the ground and start to call me “master” or “my lord”, I refuse to think that’s a plead.”

“Could you please focus on the main point?” Will rolls his eyes in exhaustion. Just talking to the black-haired boy for 3 minutes is already enough to drain all the mental strength of his brain. If he spends 3 hours trying to make conversations with Nico, he worries that he might lose his will to live afterward.

“Alright,” the smaller boy finally nods and looks at Will. “What’s your suggestion?”

“Playing pop quiz with you will definitely be on the top of the list of dumbest decisions I have ever made in my life,” Nico whispers after half an hour in a husky tone because they don’t want to be heard or get caught talking instead of watching the play. “Three primary colours are red, blue and green. Could you make some harder questions than that? It’s just basic knowledge.”

“The percent of the population that lacks basic knowledge like that is bigger than you think it should be,” Will shrugs nonchalantly, lowering down his voice as much as possible. “And it’s your turn to ask me a question.”

“Normally, how many different colours that the human eye can distinguish?”

“I have to say it’s about 10 million, and that’s a pretty big number since we only have some basic colours after all. I can’t figure out the difference between teal and turquoise, or pink and rose, to be honest.”

“It’s just because you have the vision of a rhinoceros,” Nico smirks at Will, and the blond silently curses himself when those strange feelings are bubbling up inside him again. The warmth and the coldness both radiate from the other boy’s cheeky smile make his heart skip some beats before pounding in his chest like crazy.

“You can’t judge me. I guess most of the guys are like that, so I’m pretty normal.” The blond boy snorts, trying to act as nothing happened.

“My interest in art helps me a lot in understanding the differences among various shades of colours, so I think I’m not in the same group with you.” Nico slightly shakes his head. “Anyway, you’re stalling. Ask me a new question before I could fall asleep.”

“Actually I’m a little bit sleepy too,” Will blinks sluggishly when he suddenly realizes how tired he is now. “Last night I stayed up quite late to catch up with my favourite TV shows. I’m sleep-deprived as hell.”

“Welcome to my daily life,” Nico mocks, but his voice doesn’t have its usual venom that he uses with Will. “We still have more than two hours to endure. Taking a nap is a pretty good idea.”

“So that’s settled,” Will smiles, trying to suppress a yawn. “But what if our grandmas see us sleep during the play?”

“Unless we’re trying to put a dagger at each other’s throat or ruin the performance, I doubt that they care,” Nico grins at the blond, but then he frowns. “Oops, wait a minute. I’m not comfortable with falling asleep in an unfamiliar place when I’m sitting in the middle of a bunch of strangers.”

“It’s just a nap. You’ll be fine.” Will snorts, his eyelids start to droop even though he’s struggling to keep himself awake.

“You don’t understand it,” Nico looks away, seems strangely uneasy. “You could sleep if you want. I’ll find something else to focus on.”

“Hey, what’s your problem after all?” Will asks, his voice is full of concern. “You can tell me, I promise I won’t judge.”

“It’s just…” Nico sighs defeatedly when he looks at Will’s eyes and realizes that the blond genuinely cares about him. “What should I say to make you get it? I… I just don’t want to fall asleep when I’m not sure I’ll be safe. I can’t control the situation around me when I’m not conscious.”

“I don’t really understand your worries since we’re sitting inside a theatre with half of the audience are elder people,” Will shrugs. “But I think I get a part of it. It’s have something to do with your repulsion whenever someone touches you without your consent, right?”

“I guess you’re right about this,” the black-haired boy mutters. “But I don’t think you can help, so let’s drop this topic.”

“I can help,” Will shakes his head, refusing to let the conversation stop here when he just succeeds to make the boy open up with him a little bit. “It’s just a nap. You could sit closer to me and I will let you use my shoulder as a pillow. It’s safer to sleep when you’re next to someone you know, right?”

“I’m uncomfortable with almost every kind of physical contacts from people that I hardly know,” Nico scowls. “You’re trying to help, and I appreciate that, but I don’t think it will work.”

“I won’t touch you if you don’t want me to. And I’m offering you an option, so if you agree, that will be you’re unforced to use my shoulder to support you when you fall asleep, and it’s not like someone touches you without your permission. Are we clear about that?”

“… I will blame my sleep-deprivation after that, but I think you’re reasonable enough to make me agree with your idea,” Nico decides after two minutes of silence, a small smile crosses his lips. “Alright, I guess I could be okay with that, or at least I’ll try. Let’s get some sleep.”

They spend some seconds to move in their seats, so both of them could have the most comfortable positions possible. Nico’s head places on top of Will’s left shoulder and the blond tries so hard to not think about the light fragrance of fresh mint and cinnamon that lingering on his hair, mixed with some earthy scents from the boy that he couldn’t figure out what are them, but they’re so pleasant and relaxing to breathe in. Who knows a jerk could possess a nice smell like that? Then again, Nico also has such exquisite facial features, and when he closes his eyes, he has a striking resemblance to an angel. Will thinks his last name does fit him much more than he’s willing to admit.

The blond silently curses in his mind when it’s just 5 minutes passed, and he is already attached to the scent emanates from Nico, or the feeling of having his head lays on his shoulder. Shit, he’s so much doomed than he originally thought.

He ends up not getting any nap and being miserably awake during the rest of the play.

***

Will insists his grandma let him drive, and after ten minutes of heated argument, Nico sighs and interrupts them. “Neither of you needs to drive. I will.”

“You already have a license?” Will raises an eyebrow, and at this moment he realizes he doesn’t know Nico’s age. Sure, the boy looks small and somewhat innocent – as long as he doesn’t open his mouth – so he might look younger than he actually is.

“I learned how to drive when I was twelve,” the half-Italian snorts in annoyance. “My dad and our family’s chauffeur taught me, and so far I haven’t got myself involved in any accident. Is that enough?”

“You didn’t answer my question directly,” Will shakes his head. “I think I’d better drive. And grandma, with all due respect, we all know how good you are at controlling the steering wheel so could you please agree to sit in the back seat this time? I still want to be alive.”

“Normally I’m the one who looks like a walking corpse, but today that definition suits you more, and that means you’re incapable of driving at this moment.” Nico rolls his eyes. “Seriously, how late did you stay up last night?”

He looks straight to Will’s eyes, and the blond understands the unspoken question after that, “And why the hell you didn’t catch a nap when we’re inside the theatre?”

“I’m still can function normally enough to take us home safely.” Will looks away to ignore Nico’s intense glare and defensively replies, but of course, the black-haired boy doesn’t buy it.

“Bullshit. I’ll drive, and we’re done with this problem.” He groans and opens the driver door, his tone makes it clear there’s no room for argument.

Demeter sighs when Rhea raises an eyebrow in amusement before getting herself into the car. She doesn’t look offended even though Nico just deliberately ignored her demand to drive, and when Will finally sits down and notices that, it’s already a little bit too late. He curses silently because only gods know what kind of new plan that his grandma could come up with. Maybe plans. He could never be sure about how dangerous that lady could be.

It’s only occurred to Will that it might be none of them paid attention to the play at all when his grandma starts to talk about some scenes and even though he only half-concentrated during the performance, he still realizes that they aren’t in the play. Somehow Demeter still manages to understand what is Rhea saying and they quickly so immersed in their conversation that they momentarily forget their grandsons and the fact that both Will and Nico haven’t opened their mouths since the car started.

Will shrugs to himself, Nico said that he needs to focus on the road and Will’d better not speak to him during the trip, so the blond obeys. He doesn’t have any specific topic to talk about now, and his mind is still quite overwhelming with thoughts that he’s desperately in need of some quiet moments, a big cup of coffee, his favourite TV shows, two slices of cheesecake and some distraction, not necessarily in that order.

Or maybe he should take a nap eventually. It’s not like he has any obligation to stay awake right now anyway.

Will abruptly wakes up when the car stops moving. He blinks drowsily before realizing that they’re already in front of Demeter’s house. Nico’s grandma insists on inviting them in and enjoying a dinner with her, and as a good friend Rhea is, she agrees.

Both the old ladies reject when Will offers his help, and Rhea pushes her grandson into Nico’s room, so he has no choice but staying there when their grandmothers prepare dinner. He sits down to a chair, still feels a bit sleepy but trying to keep himself wakeful.

“What a tiresome day. I’m exhausted.” Nico mutters from the bed, but it’s still loud enough for Will to hear. The blond blinks and looks at the smaller boy who is lying across his bed, burying his face in the pillow, so his voice sounds a little bit muffled.

“Me too,” Will sighs sympathetically. “By the way, your driving skills are good. I slept like a log and only woke up when the car stopped.”

“Nah,” Nico replies him, and after ten seconds, he continues. “Good to know.”

They fall into a quiet moment, but at least Will doesn’t feel awkward anymore. In a bold move, he stands up and walks to Nico’s bed. “May I sit here?”

Nico nods his head but doesn’t open his mouth. The blond plops down, the bed is softer than he thinks. A part of him wants to lie down next to Nico, but he knows the smaller boy won’t appreciate that action, so he restrains himself and starts to stare at Nico’s head when he couldn’t find anything to focus.

Will remembers that Jason ruffled Nico’s hair so many times when he came here with him last week, and the black-haired boy seemed like he didn’t mind it too much. He wonders how would it feel when touching those black curls, running his fingers through the boy’s hair like Jason did. Before he could think throughout the issue, he hears himself says, “Hey, can I touch your hair?”

Will mentally slaps himself when Nico raises his head up and turns around, looking at him with suspicion’s filled his eyes. “Why do you suddenly ask that?”

“I’m curious,” Will shrugs, trying to act like it’s not a big deal. “Your hair looks soft. I wonder if touching them really feels soft.”

“No, it doesn’t,” much for Will’s disappointment, Nico hisses irritatedly. But then he sighs and makes a small gesture like ‘whatever’. “Anyway, you can try if you want. Go ahead.”

Will carefully moves his hand and when his fingers are already tangled in those dark curls, he gently caresses them with tenderness. He doesn’t know why Nico told him touching his hair doesn’t feel good because it does. It’s satisfyingly great, to be honest.

Will subconsciously leans down in a slow movement, and when he’s surrounded by Nico’s comforting scent, and the feeling on his fingers is a little bit too good, realization dawns on him – or it’s more like, hits him straight at his head like a wrecking ball.

Shit. Will is getting addicted to Nico’s presence, and he might develop a small crush on the boy who usually treats him like grass under his shoes.

Maybe Nico was right. Will is really a masochist.

End of chapter 4 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Les I’m miserable.

Dinner is nothing but awkward. And a little bit pressure, too. Demeter and Rhea make small talks – or at least try to do that and get both Nico and Will involved in their conversation simultaneously, but Nico usually replies with short sentences or just nods/ shakes his head. Will notices the way he plays with his folk and his spoon more than actually uses them to pick food into his mouth, and when the blond already finished his third plate, Nico hasn’t done with his first one yet.

Before Will or Rhea could voice their concern about Nico’s picky appetite, let’s take a moment to look at the countless attempts that Demeter makes to get her grandson open his mouth.

“So, Will, you’re still in high school just as Nico, right? Is it good?” The old lady smiles friendly while putting some more meatballs on Will’s plate. He doesn’t mind because her food actually tastes really delicious.

“Yes, ma’am,” the blond boy nods. “Sometimes classes could be tiresome, but so far I still manage to do a decent job.”

“Nico? What’s the result of your last semester, dear?”

“Good.” The black-haired boy doesn’t bother to look up from his plate when he mumbles that reply.

One minute of silence.

“Is it still summer vacation?” Rhea clears her throat and looks at her grandson. “When will you come back to school, sweetie?”

“About one month later, grandma.” Will shrugs when he takes some more spaghetti.

“And Nico, how about you?”

“Same.”

One more minute of silence.

“Do you have any intention or plan for your future, Will?” Demeter sighs slightly, but she’s still trying to smile. “It’s good to think about it early, you know.”

“I’m still considering my choices,” Will stares at a picture hanging on the wall while thinking about his plan. “I want to be a doctor, and I learn so hard to achieve that goal, but I’m not certain that’s what I truly want in my life. Besides, I love music and I take music classes too, but they’re just mainly for relaxing purposes, so I think I won’t make a living from it.”

“But you do contemplate about your future,” Demeter nods at him with satisfaction before turning her head at her grandson. “Nico, care to tell us about your plans for future?”

“No.” It’s not a surprise anymore when Nico continues to give them a monosyllabic answer, but when Demeter glares daggers at him, he shrugs and adds. “Haven’t figured it out yet.”

“You’d better start to think about it before it’s too late,” Demeter warns him with a small hint of seriousness in her tone. “Or you should let your dad decide it for you already. I don’t really like all of his ideas, but he does have a good logical mind. He knows what could be the best for you.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Nico shakes his head. “He only knows what should I do to be the best for his reputation. And I won’t follow any plan he makes for me.”

Will honestly isn’t too surprised at this. He knows Nico has a successful and might be scary, discipline father, and people like him usually have a tendency to be manipulative. Furthermore, sometimes they could turn into a control-freak.

“I won’t be a part of your endless argument with your dad,” Demeter sighs. “You ruined the light mood, sweetie. Could we please change the subject?”

Nico doesn’t reply, but his glance at his grandmother makes it clear: ‘You brought it up first.’

The blond sighs at the uncountable reminder of how rude and stubborn Nico could be, but at the same time those dark eyes are so hypnotizing when that dangerous fire is dancing inside the obsidian irises. When Nico’s glance flickers at Will, the blond could feel his cheeks heat up for a moment, and he immediately looks away, silently cursing under his breaths.

Damn. He really has got it bad, hasn’t he?

Anybody could tell Demeter’s a wealthy woman just by taking a look at her house. It’s magnificient and spacious, with an enormous garden, impressive architectural design with many symbols that represent something related to ancient Greek myths. And Will knew Nico has a rich father, and he might live in a same big house as his grandmother’s. Oh, and don’t forget that one time he mentioned his family has their own chauffeur, so it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Nico might be a spoiled kid. The way he acts and treats Will doesn’t help to make the blond change his mind about this subject at all.

So saying Will’s surprised when Nico volunteers to wash the dishes is just mildly putting it. His grandma Rhea winks at him and whispers “Go help Nico, sweetie!” so he just wordlessly follows her suggestion.

Nico nods at him when he asks if the black-haired boy needs any help, and Will starts to scrub some plates with the sponge while Nico places them under the running water and wipes them dry with a clean towel before putting each plate in the cupboard.

They do that boring task in silence for a while, then Will doesn’t try to hide his curiosity anymore, “I don’t understand.”

“What?” Nico replies him with a monotonous voice. Will stares at the plate in his hands.

“I thought you’re a spoiled brat. Kids like you usually don’t know how to wash dishes.”

“Hmm,” the half-Italian boy just hums quietly, he doesn’t deny or agree with Will’s statement at all. “I think you could have some more clever questions than that.”

“Like what?”

“For example, why my grandma doesn’t have a dishwasher machine when she lives in a huge house, and she’s obviously rich,” Nico shrugs nonchalantly. “You’re not the observation type, I guess.”

“And why she doesn’t have one?” Now Will notices the odd, and Nico’s right, it’s an interesting thing to wonder.

“She’s quite old-fashioned.”

“I might not be an observative person, but I’m not gullible either,” Will scowls. “Your grandma possesses the latest design of television and that TV is pretty hard to control that expertly.”

“She possesses it doesn’t mean she is the person who bought it,” Nico rolls his eyes. “And all she did was turning it on and off. I was the one who changed the channels and did the other jobs.”

“She uses a smartphone. I saw it.” Will retorts triumphantly while coming back to his scrubbing job.

“Hmm, good. The truth is her dishwasher machine just broke two days ago and she hasn’t called anyone to fix it yet,” Nico nods thoughtfully before looking at Will with a cheeky smirk on his lips. “That’s just a small test, and you passed it. You’re not as dense as your appearance suggests.”

“And you’re not as nice as your appearance deceives either.”

“That’s such a wordy way to say that I’m good-looking,” Nico puts the last dish on the cupboard and glances at Will, the smirk is still dancing on his face. “You just need to admit it frankly.”

“Fine, you’re beautiful, but that doesn’t help to change the fact that you’re a jerk.” Will groans exasperatedly. Gods, Nico really doesn’t have a clue about what his smile has done to the blond, does he? But Will wonders if he knows, would he smiles more or less at him. It could be more because he seems to enjoy torturing Will’s poor soul. But it could be less because Nico is Nico, after all.

“I think I already told you that your opinion about me doesn’t matter,” the black-haired boy waves his hand dismissively while walking to his room. “Keep going, tell me how much of a douchebag I am, I don’t care.”

“Do you know you’re much more adorable when you’re asleep?” Will follows Nico, frowning at himself because he doesn’t plan on saying that, but his mouth keeps moving on its own. “You look like an angel when you close your eyes, I have to say that. But right at the moment you wake up and open your mouth, you turn into a devil.”

“Whatever you say, since I’m still an attractive devil, I couldn’t care less,” Nico snorts while plopping down to his bed, but then his expression changes like he suddenly realizes something. “Wait a minute, why do you know how do I look when I fall asleep? You didn’t take any nap when we’re inside the theatre this afternoon, did you?”

“Maybe,” Will doesn’t look at Nico anymore because now when the smaller boy mentions that, he remembers how nice the situation was: having Nico’s head on his shoulder, listening to those small sounds of his breaths, feeling the softness of his hair ghostly touched Will’s skin, and inhaling the earthy, relaxing scent that Nico possesses. “I was miserably awake during the rest of that play, all thanks to you.”

“What?” The black-haired boy glares at him, and Will only shrugs while sitting down on the floor.

“It’s not easy to fall asleep when someone’s using your shoulder as a pillow in that position, you know.”

It isn’t the truth. Will used to sleep in some places which were weirder than inside a theatre, and they’re not comfortable either. But he can’t say the truth plainly because it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that he’s too busy getting himself immersed in Nico’s comforting scent and enjoying his quiet presence when he’s asleep.

Don’t need to mention that Nico will certainly get angry if Will tells him that truth.

“It can’t be my fault since you’re the one who suggested it,” Nico rolls his eyes. “You did that to yourself. And if you felt uncomfortable, you could have woken me up. I’m not that desperate for a nap in an unfamiliar place.”

“It’s already too late,” Will points out. “So it’s kind of meaningless for us to continue to discuss that. Just drop the topic already.”

“Uh huh, if you insist,” Nico nods and reaches his arm to take a book from the shelf above his head. “I’ll deny I say that later, but thanks for the help. I actually had a good nap after all.”

He opens the book and starts to read. Will takes a look at the cover page, “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo.

He sighs while shaking his head. So classic, and it’s a little bit ironic for him at this moment. In his case, it could be Les I’m miserable.

End of chapter 5 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: A small break.

“Seeing you is such a huge relief,” Nico breaths out while using Reyna’s thighs as his pillow. “I had a terrible week and the play that my grandma forced me to watch made me have a goddamn headache for a day after that.”

The Puerto Rican girl only hums quietly at this, and her hand starts to caress the younger boy’s hair. Nico closes his eyes and lets her fingers massage his scalp, purring a little bit during the process, but he will never admit that truth until the day he dies.

“Where’s Hazel?” Reyna asks, doesn’t stop touching his hair. Normally the boy treats Reyna as another sister of his, but she knows he always talks to Hazel first whenever he’s angry or upset with something, simply because they live in the same house and they are half-brother and sister, after all.

“On vacation with Frank,” Nico mumbles. “Currently visiting his grandmother. I don’t want to bother her, she seems like she’s having a lot of fun.”

“You can always bother me,” Reyna smiles warmly at the younger boy, affection laced in her voice. “And I don’t think the word “bother” is right in this case. I always have time to listen to you because I care about you.”

“Geez, what happens with you today? Usually, you’re not a sap like that.” Nico opens his eyes and sticks out his tongue at her in a cheeky manner, and Reyna scowls at him as a response, but both of them know it’s just another joke that they share with each other.

“Alright, what’s wrong? You don’t look that tired two weeks ago, even though I know your schedule is still so unacceptable with a godly timetable as usual.” At this comment, she gives him a very stern look, saying that she isn’t satisfied with the way he goes to sleep at 3 A.M. and doesn’t eat his first meal of a day before 10 A.M. at all.

“Reyna, it’s summer. Cut me some slack, please,” the black-haired boy rolls his eyes. “I’ll go back to be a good boy when August’s over. Talking about that, I’ve never ever thought being back to those tiresome classes could be something that I’m waiting for before.”

“Huh?” Reyna stops massaging his scalp abruptly, so Nico involuntarily lets out a whine, secretly pleading her to continue. She understands that and her fingers begin drawing small circles on his skin again. “Okay, now I’m curious. I want a detailed version of what happened to you in those two weeks.”

“Terrible disasters,” Nico mutters in annoyance. “I told you that my grandmother met another old lady and they become best friends, right?”

“You did,” Reyna nods. “And?”

“Apparently, that old lady has a grandson named Will Solace. And I don’t know from where did they get the idea that I should be friend with him, but they force us to do it. I couldn’t care less, but that Solace boy is so persistent in becoming friend with me, and he’s too troublesome. He radiates sunshine even more than Jason and I can’t stand it! He nearly drove me crazy with his lost puppy eyes and hurtful expression when I refused to talk with him for hours, and thank god I finally manage to escape in this week.”

“I see,” Reyna looks quite thoughtful for some seconds before she opens her mouth again. “How does he look like?”

“I don’t really care about that,” Nico snorts. “He’s a sunnier and tanner version of Jason, I think. A little bit skinnier… hm, no, he’s just not as well-built as Jason. I guess he has the same body type as Percy, but he has blue eyes and blond hair like Jason. And he radiates sunshine, Reyna. That’s the worst part. I thought Jason’s optimistic attitude is a challenge for my tolerance level, but Will’s a whole new mountain that I’m not willing to climb, and I won’t do it.”

“As your description, Solace’s like a combination of Percy and Jason,” Reyna chuckles in amusement. “Your ex-crush and your pretended boyfriend. No wonder he could easily drive you up a wall like that.”

“Reyna, you didn’t just…!” Nico sits up suddenly as a spring and growls at the older girl when he sees the mischievous glint in her eyes. “Urg! Sometimes I really hate you, Reyna!”

“Aww, love you too.” she pokes his cheeks and grins with satisfaction. Nico glares at her but doesn’t smash her hands away.

Reyna continues to play with his cheeks for two minutes before withdrawing her hands. “How long do you plan to stay at my place?”

“I will be very thankful if I could stay with you until the end of August, but I know Demeter won’t let me do that,” Nico sighs heavily, suddenly being too interested in a painting of four horses on the wall. “So I’ll try to maintain my presence here as long as possible.”

“I hope it means you could stay here at least two more days, because I found an interesting festival will be held from Saturday to Monday,” the girl grins and the tone of her voice catches his attention. “Come with me, alright?”

“You know I don’t like crowded places,” Nico looks hesitant. “I don’t want to turn your offer down, but I can’t promise.”

“C’mon, Neeks, it’s just a small festival, but we could dress up with costumes and there will be a lot of food, too!” Reyna looks at the younger boy expectantly. “It’ll be fun, believe me!”

To be honest, Nico knows Reyna isn’t a party person just like him, but she’s trying to cheer him up, so he has no reason to disagree anymore. “Alright, I’ll come with you. But I won’t wear any ridiculous costume if that’s what you’re hoping for.”

“We’ll see,” the Puerto Rican girl nods at him, her eyes are shining with fondness. “Jason’ll come too, he’s the one who suggested about this festival in the first place. Maybe Percy’ll tag along with him, but I’m not entirely sure about that.”

“Well if that’s the case, you just need to make sure I won’t get involved in whatever idiotic plan or game that Percy could come up with,” Nico rolls his eyes and snorts, “then I will be alright.”

“I’ll try, but no promises.”

..

.

After the day they watched the play, Will hasn’t seen Nico again for six days.

Logically saying, he should be happy about that. He convinces himself that he hates that black-haired boy, and most parts of him still do. Except for his heart. And his feelings. And maybe a small portion of his mind that is missing Nico like hell, too. Those traitorous little things.

“You’re moping,” Lou Ellen says sympathetically when she comes to his house and literally kicked the door of his room smash to the wall since he refused to open it for her. “And you don’t want me to see that.”

In one brief moment, Will thinks he should deny what she said. But it means nothing because they already know each other too well. Sometimes “best friend” is just a nice word for “the pain in the ass that you can’t get rid of.”

“You’re damn right,” Will grunts at his best friend. “In that case, why haven’t you gone already?”

“I care about you.” Lou blinks at him with that innocent look in her eyes. But as he said, they have known each other way too well.

“Liar.”

“Fine, I enjoy seeing you mope,” the girl shrugs nonchalantly. “We both agree that’s one of best friend’s privileges.”

“When you’re moping, you lock your door and yell at me and Cecil when we try to ask if you’re okay. Don’t need to mention the whole object-throwing thing. We’re lucky that your aiming skills are poor.” The blond rolls his eyes. Those memories are not the pleasant ones.

“I still managed to give Cecil a concussion once,” Lou snorts, clearly doesn’t look guilty at all. “And I’m not here to talk about me.”

“I have nothing to discuss with you.” Will groans exasperatedly. Maybe his tone is a little bit too harsh, but who cares? Being seen in this state is quite embarrassing, and he’s so done with thinking about Nico these days. He doesn’t want to talk about that boy, especially with someone who can constantly remind him what an idiot he is in any kind of relationship and affection – in this case, it’s Lou Ellen.

“That’s the first step: tell me what happened.”

“Nothing.”

“Liar,” She grits her teeth and spits out the words in an angry tone. “Whatever that nothing is, it’s something that can make you be so down in the dumps. Talk to me, Will.”

“I don’t want to,” he sighs because he knows she’s angry but she’s worried for him too, and it makes him feel guilty. “Listen, Lou, I really don’t. Talking about Nico only makes me feel worse, especially with you. No offense, Lou, but you never miss a chance to tell me how stupid I am when it comes to stuff like crush or affection or thing related to that. I don’t need it now, I truly don’t.”

“I will seal my lips tightly this time and I promise I won’t comment anything,” Lou shakes her head. “For gods’ sake, Will, you have to talk.”

She’s got that determined look on her face and Will knows she won’t stop bothering him until he agrees with her demand, so he looks down at his hands and exhaled heavily, “Okay, when should I start that?”

“Your feelings,” Lou encourages him. “Tell me what are you thinking right at this moment.”

“I think about how I shouldn’t think about Nico that much,” Will scowls at his choice of words, then he sighs and begrudgingly admits. “I think I might have a crush on Nico.”

“Obviously,” Lou purses her bottom lip, but after a quick glance at Will’s sour expression, she sighs. “What makes you think like that?”

“A week ago his grandma invited Rhea and me to a play.” Will shrugs and starts to tell Lou the whole story. When it comes to the part his fingers were tangled in Nico’s hair and how he was stunned with the realization that he’s developing an unstoppable crush on Nico di Angelo, Lou begins to massage her temples like she’s having a goddamn headache.

“I felt miserable when I figured it out,” Will gloomily says with his best friend, burying his face in his hands. “I still feel miserable now. A part of me still hates him and his attitude so much, another part makes me have butterflies in my stomach whenever I see him smiles, a different part constantly reminds me that he hates me as well but it also makes my heart accelerate when I look at him for more than one minute. In summary, I’m totally a mess.”

Lou is glad that her best friend isn’t looking at her because she’s trying so hard to swallow down all the jokes and mocking comments that she wants to say right now. Sometimes being a good friend is really challenging, especially when you have such a dense best friend like Will is.

“How many days since the last time you saw him?” She clears her throat and gently asks Will while putting a hand on his shoulder in a reassuring action.

“Six,” the blond replies her and she suppresses a sigh when she hears the sadness in his voice. “And before you could ask me to evaluate my feelings for him, I already did. They don’t decrease despite how desperate I want them to.”

“What are the things you miss about him?” Lou questions, and at this moment her phone buzzes. She takes it out and checks the message while the blond seems to be plain confusing.

“Is that a relevant question?” Will raises his head up and blinks at her.

“Just answer it.” She replies while texting back the sender, doesn’t look at Will.

“Fine,” the blond mutters, looking down at the floor this time. “I think… I miss seeing his face? He has a pretty attractive face and that’s the first thing I noticed and like about him, after all. I miss hearing his voice too, it’s velvety and mellifluous even though I can’t stand about 80% of the things he says. And his eyes, they’re so captivating and hypnotizing, despite the fact that 40% of the time he glares at me, and with 60% remains he doesn’t even bother to look at me. His hair is soft and I really want to run my fingers through those curls again. And… his scent. Nico possesses such a great scent, it’s a mixture of fresh mint, cinnamon, and some other earthy scents that I can’t really figure out, but it’s so nice and relaxing… Why are you looking at me like that, Lou?”

Will abruptly stops mid-sentence when he notices that Lou Ellen is looking at him with wide eyes filled with sympathy and some unreadable emotions.

“You have to admit that the part you’re missing his scent is a little bit… weird, since I’m in a lack of words, but whatever,” she inhales deeply before looking straight to his eyes. “You’ve got it really, really bad, my friend.”

“Don’t I know it,” Will mumbles while lying down to his bed and grabbing one of his pillows, hugging it tightly. “Do you have anything else to say?”

Lou winks at the blond mischievously, “If you’re missing my usual complaints about your hard-headedness when it comes to feel–…”

“I don’t. You promise.” Will grits his teeth and glares at her. The girl raises up but of her arms in a defensive posture.

“Fine, not one word this time,” she shakes her head slightly. “One more thing.”

“What?”

“Cecil texted me and asked if I want to come over his uncle’s house this week or not. Apparently, his town’s going to celebrate something with a small festival, and he invites me.”

“You should agree with him,” Will blinks at her, looking a little bit confused. “You two don’t have much time together this summer, don’t waste the chance.”

“Already did. And idiot, I’m asking you to come with us. Cecil said that you could tag along too.” Lou purses her bottom lip at the blond, rolling her eyes.

“You don’t have to…” Will shakes his head, but Lou cuts him off with a half-hearted glare.

“We didn’t have much time together this summer, right, but I mean all three of us. He misses you too, and personally, I think it’s a good opportunity to clear your head a little bit. You’re not seriously going to sit here all day and be melancholic about that boy, are you?”

“You have a point,” the blond sighs and sits up to face his best friend. “Thanks for doing this for me, I appreciate it.”

“That’s what friends are for,” Lou laughs and playfully punches his shoulder. “And now I need you to get ready before 1 P.M. to go shopping with me this afternoon. I want to make Cecil surprise with my summer style.”

“Not again…” Will looks slightly distressed at that, but after receiving a heated glare from Lou Ellen, he nods his head frantically. She smiles back at him in satisfaction, and even though Will doesn’t enjoy the idea of going shopping so much, he’s still grateful to have something else to make his mind busy.

End of chapter 6 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: The hidden meaning of “festival” is “fuck my life”.

Nico doesn’t want to regret coming to the festival with Reyna. He truly doesn’t.

But what he wants and what he actually feels are two entirely different things.

“Nico, smile.” Reyna sighs and orders him when she looks at his sour expression. “You come to this to have fun, remember?”

“I can’t,” the black-haired boy replies her while watching Jason and Percy are bickering about who got the better costume. “Those two idiots are going to give me a goddamn headache.”

“You had a crush on one of them before and currently having an I’m-the-thing-between-platonic-relationship-and-romantic-friendship with the other, so I don’t think you have the rights to say that.”

Reyna takes a bite from her cotton candy and winks at him. Nico silently curses under his breath, he can’t stay mad at Reyna for more than ten minutes and damn, the girl knows how to take advantages of that fact.

“Nico, now it depends on you! Which one of us has the better outfit?!”

Before the black-haired boy could think of a smart retort, Percy turns his head back and asks him with genuine curiosity and anticipation in his voice. Jason doesn’t say anything but the look he’s giving Nico has perfected the 8 on a scale from 1 to 10 about how effective his puppy eyes could be.

Nico finds himself is screaming internally again. What has he done wrong to deserve this?

“Neeks, we’re waiting.” Percy pouts at his lack of response and Nico sighs, face-palming.

“Alright, you’re both idiots in equal measures. Satisfy?”

“That’s not the answer we want to hear,” the sea green-eyed boy scrunches his nose and turns to the girl of their small group. “Reyna–”

“Only idiots want to dress as a cabbage and a broccoli for other people to see.” Reyna points out with a mischievous smirk on her lips.

“But this is a vegetable festival! They created it to celebrate the existence of plants and herbs!” Percy protests loudly, but the tips of his ears are reddening. Nico rolls his eyes, it doesn’t take a genius to know who will win this little argument.

“My point still stands. This is more like a fair and an outdoor market than a cosplay activity. Look around and tell me how many people dress in a ridiculous way like you guys?”

Jason laughs at that even though he’s still wearing his hilarious outfit of a broccoli when Percy sighs in defeat and walks two steps away from Reyna to hide his embarrassment. The cabbage costume is swinging at each of his footsteps.

Gods, why did Nico even have a crush on that boy before? Hero worship and childish naïveté were so bad for his sake. Nico’s glad he finally got over that phase.

***

Cecil is feeling irritated.

The beginning of their meeting was so well. Lou Ellen surprised him with a strapless contrast lace waist dress that showed out her delicate shoulders and attractive collarbones, claiming it’s her new summer style. He loves seeing her in that dress and they’re both happy about that, even Will was smiling widely at them when he stood up and awkwardly hugged Lou before she groaned exasperatedly and yanked his collar closer to her to kiss him on his cheek.

At that moment he thought nothing could make him feel sad on this day, but apparently, he was wrong.

Will was okay at first. Last night Lou spent two hours talking with him over their phones and she told him every detail about the blond’s new crush. He’s happy and worried for his friend at the same time because according to Lou’s story, that boy’s highly unachievable and Will has like, 87% chance to end up with a broken heart, and as a good friend, Cecil felt it’s his obligation to stop that from happening. Which means Cecil has to make Will to talk to him, telling him his own version of the story and if he could get a chance to meet that boy in person, Cecil will never waste that.

But man, has anyone ever screamed out loud that being friends with a relationship dumbass like Will is so frustrating before? Because if nobody did, Cecil will be the first one to actually do that. With a bright neon sign decorates by colourful LED lights “I’m so done with mine and my friend’s life.”.

Which is an action that he’s so close to doing right at this moment, because the sight of Will’s gloomy expression and wishful eyes is rubbing him in all wrong places.

“Snap out of it, what’s your real problem, Will?!” He asks, slightly cringes when the question comes out harsher than he actually meant.

“It’s none of your business,” Will sharply retorts, then sighing heavily. “Look, I’m sorry. It’s nothing that you need to care about. I’ll try to be more cheerful about this festival, thanks for inviting me.”

“I won’t take any of that shit, don’t even try to act polite and strange with me,” Cecil snorts and Lou nods in agreement. Gods, he really wants to kiss her for that support. “Spill.”

“I bet you already knew because Lou told you everything she got.”

“It’s not hurt to hear the side of that story directly from you.” Cecil crosses his arms in front of his chest, looking at Will with the same determined expression on his face, just like Lou when she forced him to tell her the problem. Will sighs again, why did he befriend with those annoying but caring people anyway? He’ll never get out of that without telling them how he actually feels.

So Will spills.

***

“Do you want to try some candy apples, Nico?” Reyna asks him when they come across a booth that is displaying a variety show of apples in sticks and delicious syrup. Nico hesitates between a traditional flavour and a vanilla coffee one before Percy chuckles and buys both of them for him.

“My treat, don’t be a stranger.” He shrugs nonchalantly before choosing another one for himself. Jason demands a candy apple too but he just gets a funny face from the boy in the cabbage costume. Nico laughs at that and gives Reyna the traditional candy apple before biting experimentally to his vanilla coffee flavour.

“Oh, it’s sweet and tasty,” he smiles after swallowing the bite. “Want some, Jason?”

“Thanks, you’re a godsend.” Jason winks at him and trades his maple syrup one for the coffee vanilla. He mumbles appreciatively at that and Percy wants a bite too. Reyna chuckles at their small argument of which flavour is the best while quietly enjoying her traditional candy apple.

That’s when a bright neon sign catches her attention. The letters were written in a flowery form, saying “Lovers’ Trial: Win this and achieve the sweet fruit of true love!”

It sounds dumb, but it suggests some fun at the same time. Reyna normally doesn’t care much about romance and anything relates to that department, but sometimes a small experience doesn’t hurt.

“The direction of your gaze,” Nico inhales deeply before asking her cautiously. “Please tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

“Why not?” She shrugs and winks at him. “It looks fun to me. I might give it a try, but I’m just one person and lovers mean more than that.”

The black-haired boy could see where the direction of that conversation would go to and he tries his best to avoid taking that path.

“Take Jason or Percy,” Nico suggests hopefully. “Who will you bet for a victory?”

“None of them,” the Puerto Rican girl snorts, the idea of entering a lovers’ trial – even just a fake one in a festival – with Jason or Percy is so ridiculous to her, and it’s not in a good way. They’re both idiots and she doesn’t want to lose while partnering with one of them. “Actually I think you’re the safest bet.”

It’s nice to hear Reyna said that and it makes Nico feel a wave of warmth sweep through his body, leaving him with a strange mix of pleasant and wary.

“I don’t want to try that,” Nico shakes his head and pouts slightly. “The part ‘sweet fruit of true love’ doesn’t sound too convincing for me.”

“But I want to,” Reyna decides it’s time for her to try one of some rare expressions that she doesn’t show out much. She’s a naturally intimidating girl, so it’s quite hard for her to pull out the perfect puppy eyes, but she still manages to make it decent. “Please, Nico, for me?”

“Who are you and what did you do to Reyna?” He snorts at her then sighs in defeat. “Alright, I’m in. You’re unbelievable.”

“Well, we both know you love me,” Reyna winks at him triumphantly, walking to the booth’s direction. “Let’s go, Nico!”

***

“Oh, boy,” Cecil shakes his head in sympathy after hearing all the story from Will. It’s not too different from things Lou Ellen told him before, but actually getting it from the blond is still kind of… leaving him speechless. “You’ve got it so bad, you know?”

Beside him, Lou purses her bottom lip in a way that saying out loud ‘Told you so.’.

“Please tell me something new that I’m not aware of,” Will sighs heavily. “Anyway, that’s the full story, and I think now you realize there’s nothing you can do for me about that. So could we please set my pathetic crush aside and enjoy this festival as a group of close friends? I’m desperately in need of some distraction right now.”

“And we’re more than happy to provide that for you,” Lou chimes in with a wide smile on her lips. “Let’s go and find some interesting thing to try!”

When she excitedly runs forward, Will turns his head at Cecil. “Are you sure we will be safe when we let her choose our games?”

“Dude, do we really have another choice?” His friend looks back at him with a mischievous grin on his face.

“I suppose not.”

“So deal with it,” Cecil shrugs and punches his friend’s shoulder lightly. “Run before she leaves us behind!”

The first two games were fun. The former was a shooting game, in which Will beat Cecil’s sorry ass and got a nice teddy bear, which he gave it for Lou as a present and she happily accepted it. The latter was harder when they needed to throw a small wooden ring at some bottles, the further they could get the bigger the reward. Cecil won this time and Lou was still the one who got the most gifts from their small friendly competitions.

“Bringing you two is always my right choice,” she grins widely at them, hugging a lot of rewards in her arms when they walk around and find something new to try. Cecil offers to carry some of those stuff for her but she politely declines that. “Hey, that booth look fun! Let’s get over there!”

She points at the sign with flowery letters, and Will’s cheerful expression vanishes when he sees what is that. “Are you sure? Lovers’ trial? That sounds ridiculous.”

Suddenly he feels like a third wheel because let’s be honest here, everybody knows Cecil and Lou are such a cute couple, except the fact that they’re still in the denial stage of their relationship.

Well, at least they’re still great friends and Will just knows that stage will become over quickly in the future, unlike his situation. He doesn’t think he will ever have a chance to have something romantic with Nico, leave alone the possibility of having a relationship with that boy.

“Ridiculous means fun.” Lou snorts, clearly unaware of his sour mood.

“I’m not sure we even use the same dictionary.”

“That’s not the point,” Lou unceremoniously pushes all the stuff she is holding into Cecil’s arms, glaring at Will like a hawk. “I want to try it and I swear to gods I’ll drag your ass into it even if you don’t want to give it a try. We’re here to have fun and you can’t stop me from getting what I like.”

“I have a question,” Cecil cuts her off with his suspicious voice. “Lovers’ trial, I have nothing against it. But which one of us do you want to choose to enter that trial with you? Make the safer bet, that’s my advice for you.”

“Actually I still want to stay out and observe this time,” Lou crosses her arms in front of her chest, and Will’s instinct is screaming “Dangerous!” when he sees the look in her eyes. “You two do it together and bring the biggest reward back for me.”

The blond gasps dramatically and snaps his head to look at Cecil, who is as bewildered as he is. They blink and exclaim at the same time. “What?!”

“Need me to repeat it?” Lou sighs. “You two are so deaf, I said that…”

“I get that part!” Will stops her, massaging his temple to ease an increasing headache. “I just don’t understand why! That’s lovers’ trial for Gods’ sake! Aren’t you suppose to do that with Cecil?”

“Except the part that we aren’t lovers?” Lou scrunches her nose, doesn’t notice the hurtful look crosses Cecil’s face.

“Neither are we!” Will shakes his head in disbelief. “And you’re fooling no one, Lou!”

“I’m not even trying to,” the girl waves her hand half-heartedly. “It’s just a game. Grow some balls and just fucking do it.”

Will opens his mouth to continue to protest, but Cecil grabs his arm and shakes his head. “You know what? She’s right. Let’s just fucking do it.”

Will is internally screaming “fuck my life” during the short walk to the booth.

When they arrive at the game booth, there are some people already waiting outside. Two of them are wearing a cabbage and a broccoli costume and he tries his hardest to not laugh out loud. Judging by how his two friends are clutching their stomachs and gasping for air, they’re not doing a better job than him.

That’s when he hears the broccoli speaks, and his voice is strangely familiar. “Do you think they could beat all the other players and come in first place?”

The cabbage man snickers, “C’mon, who are you talking about? One of those two is Reyna and she won’t only beat them, she will crush them to ashes if they dare to stop her from taking the 1st place.”

For some reasons, Will secretly makes a mental note that whoever that girl called Reyna is, he should never, never mess with her and her friends.

But if her friends are the kind of people that have the courage to wear such ridiculous outfits to a festival… Well, he doesn’t know what to say.

Fortunately (or not), the next scene makes him stop thinking and his heart just drops to his stomach with a heavy weight sitting on it.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!!” The owner of the booth’s voice booms in the air when the first couple run out from the tent, drenched and soaked in a strange red liquid, the 1st medal prize in their hands.

The girl grins victoriously and leans down a little bit to kiss the boy on his cheek. The boy flushes a faint shade of red before kissing her back, and everyone gives them a boisterous applause. They look so close and adorable together, in a sort of dangerous, intimidating way – judging by the confident aura hanging around the girl and even though the boy is still blushing, his piercing black eyes aren’t something you could easily miss out.

And now Will knows why the broccoli’s voice was familiar. It’s Jason, and now the blond is hugging the boy tightly when the cabbage is shaking hands with the girl, congratulating them on their victory. Standing there is his object of affection – Nico di Angelo, still soaking wet and his clothes are clinging and sticking to his body, making everyone be aware of his captivating figure. The girl’s arm is still wrapping around the shorter boy’s shoulder, and when he leans into her embrace to whisper something to her, Will feels a sudden wave of insane jealousy is rising in his chest, even though he doesn’t have the right to be jealous. They’re barely friends after all.

And Will doesn’t even know if Nico’s into girls or boys. Now, at this moment when he already accepted the fact that his unstoppable crush on Nico is… well, unstoppable for a long period of time since when it started, acknowledging that he knows nothing about the other’s preference is like a hard punch directly at his stomach. It doesn’t look like the case, but if Nico and that girl – she’s Reyna, right? – are really a couple, so Will has absolutely no chance of winning the boy’s heart. Never in his right mind that he wants to start a competition with that intimidating girl.

Even if they’re not a real couple, he still doesn’t know Nico likes girls or boys, or if he already has any secret lover/ crush or not. Well doesn’t that suck? Will could imagine the fate is laughing at his face right now and saying “Haha! Take this, you poor boy!”

‘Fuck my life.’, Will bitterly thinks.

End of chapter 7 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Having a crush sucks on multiple levels.

Nico doesn’t seem to recognize Will at the festival, which might be a good thing, considering the fact that facing his object of affection while still being in a sour mood and just received two punches in the guts by the fate isn’t an ideal situation for Will’s sake.

Unfortunately, when he and that intimidating girl left, the broccoli walks to his direction and waves his hand. Will knows he should return the wide smile that Jason is wearing, but he couldn’t find the mood to do it.

“Please don’t let Nico know I’m here,” that's the first thing leaves his mouth when Jason’s in the hearing range. Both Lou and Cecil’s heads snap at it and they stare at him with disbelief.

“He already left for another game with Reyna, so I guess it’s alright if you want to hide from him,” the other blond shrugs, ignoring the funny look that Cecil is giving him. Well, you can’t blame the boy, anyone would react like that when a talking broccoli is chatting with you in a friendly manner. “But why so? If you don’t mind me asking, of course. Ah, and they’re your friends, right? I’m Jason, nice to meet you.”

Cecil and Lou look at each other before returning Jason’s friendliness with their wide grins. Will sighs, what should he answer that question? He knows even if he lies to Jason, he still needs to repeat it when Lou and Cecil decide to make an interrogation for him. To save his brain energy, he thinks he should go with the truth right at this moment.

“I don’t want to make him be aware of my… joining the festival,” Will scratches the back of his head. He’s a shitty liar and he knows that, but sometimes telling the truth still makes him struggling with his words. “I think we’re all here to have fun so I don’t want to interrupt and spoil his mood.”

“That’s nice and idiotic of you to think like that,” Jason smirks, which is both ridiculous and funny with his broccoli costume. Will honestly doesn’t feel like he just received an insult. “Alright, I won’t tell him when I come back to my group of friends. So you guys have fun, okay? Nice to meet you again, but I gotta go. Percy might secretly eat all the delicious stuff now when I’m absent.”

“Goodbye, Jason.” Will nods, feeling strangely relieved when the other blond walks away. He turns his head back and finds Lou is staring at him with an unreadable look in her eyes.

“What?” He half-heartedly asks, whatever the girl is up to right now, he doesn’t want to deal with it.

“That’s Nico’s friend?” She questions, sounding mildly excited. Will doesn’t miss the frown is forming between Cecil’s eyebrows. “He’s hot! You didn’t tell me that your crush has friends like that! He looks like a walking statue, and he could easily pass for a model!”

Cecil is definitely looking even sourer than Will right now.

“Why did I need to?” The blond shrugs nonchalantly. “Last time I checked, I have a crush on Nico, not Jason.”

“Is Nico hot as hell like Jason?” Lou teases, mischievousness is sparkling in her eyes. If Will doesn’t know about her liking for Cecil, he might think Lou has fallen for the other blond. Well, it’s hard to blame her, Jason’s handsome appearance is just a plain fact.

“They possess different kinds of hotness, I think.” Will admits, because there’s no use refusing to acknowledge Nico’s attractiveness. That was the first thing he noticed about the boy after all.

“Oh, I see ~” Lou replies cheerfully. “Too bad I didn’t pay much attention to see who is your crush when he’s still here. But I think I still have chances to meet him properly in the future so there’s no need to rush it.”

Will doesn’t reply her with that, just let her with her imagination run wild. That’s Cecil’s responsibility, not his.

At this moment Will realizes he could count the feeling that Cecil has for Lou as a kind of crush because they’re not actually a couple, but that’s just a matter of time. So if Cecil’s crush on Lou is rank 2 on the scale “having a crush sucks”, Will thinks his crush on Nico must score at least enough points to achieve rank 12.

Having a crush truly sucks.

..

.

When Demeter finally catches her beloved grandson and threatens him to come to her house the next week, it’s only two more weeks before he comes back to school.

“I can’t wait to be back to classes, even though most of them are boring as hell,” Nico sighs when he is sitting on the floor beside Will. His mood is good today after 5 days getting pampered by Reyna and the festival was actually fun, so he doesn’t mind the blond as a company now. “At least we don’t go to the same high school so I won’t need to see you this much anymore.”

‘Your crush doesn’t even want to see you frequently,’ Will bitterly thinks. ‘Scores 150 points. Achievement unlocked: Rank 13 on the scale “having a crush sucks”.’

“Don’t be so full of yourself, I don’t want to see you three or four times a week like this either.” That’s what Will says, but ‘Should I count my improving lying skills in that scale too?’ is what’s actually going on his mind right now.

“So the feelings are mutual,” Nico nods, doesn’t look sad or bothered by it at all. “Do you have any homework that teachers gave you before the end of the last semester?”

“Already done before my summer started,” Will grinned victoriously, at least he still has something to be proud of, and his hard-working attitude when it comes to learning is one of them. “How about you?”

“Do I look like the kind of students that need to have homework during summer?” Nico smirks mischievously. “You loser.”

‘Your crush just insults you and you still want to count it as a kind of affection,’ Will’s mind is running on a different train of thoughts. ‘You’re truly a loser, achiever of rank 14.’

‘Shut up.’ Another voice tells his mind. It sounds strangely like Cecil’s voice, and Will thinks when Cecil starts to be his voice of reason, he’s already in deep shit.

“We go to different schools you know,” Will points out. “Different education systems result in various methods of teaching and learning.”

“My point still stands,” Nico shrugs nonchalantly, pouting slightly and Will thinks that action is so cute and endearing. “Only outstanding students don’t need to spend time doing extra homework to stay at the top of their classes.”

“I don’t really want to argue with you anymore,” Will shakes his head, he doesn’t have a chance to win any of their argument anyway, because he doesn’t want to see Nico sad. He’s noble and idiotic like that, sue him. “Can we change the topic? Like, did anything fun happen to you last week?”

“I came to a festival with my friends, when Reyna asked me,” Nico nods and starts to tell his story. “She convinced me to go so we can all have fun, and after all we actually did. The lovers’ trial that she wanted to try and basically dragged me into was dumb, but she smiled so happily when we won and I think it’s worth to try. My two other friends still made some idiots out of themselves, nothing new. They dressed like a cabbage and a broccoli to come to that vegetable festival, can you believe it?”

The raven-haired boy snorts at it and shakes his head when he thinks about those images of Jason and Percy in ridiculous outfits, but judging on his fond smile, he doesn’t hate them so much as his voice suggested. And realizing it makes Will both jealous and crestfallen at the same time. Still…

“The girl you talk about, Reyna… she’s just your friend?” He asks hopefully because based on what Nico said, Reyna doesn’t sound like his girlfriend at all.

“She’s not just my friend,” Nico looks so thoughtful for a moment and Will’s heart drops to his stomach with a loud thump in his mind, but then Nico says something that makes it come back to its normal place and beat like crazy. “She’s more like my sister, actually. We have a close relationship as siblings for years and I love her.”

“You love her as a sister? Without romantic feelings involved?” Will repeats, doesn’t truly believe in his luck.

“Which parts of “my sister” and “relationship as siblings” that you can’t understand?” Nico scrunches his nose, seeming mildly annoyed. “Of course we don’t have romantic feelings for each other, the mere idea actually sounds like incest and that’s so wrong.”

‘You just asked a super stupid question and your crush’s liking for you decreases 50 points,’ Please don’t ask Will how the point system in his imaginary scale works. ‘You’re so close to unlocking rank 15.’

“I understood, just checking,” Will grins even though he has the feeling that isn’t the good emotion to show when you just questioned your crush’s platonic love to his sister. “I’m glad you don’t like her like it.”

“How is it even related to you anyway?” Nico scrutinizes him suspiciously. “You don’t even know Reyna. Don’t tell me that you know something that you don’t tell me or you know who she is and you have feelings for her. If the latter situation is the case, I’ll gut you like a fish.”

“I prefer to have my organs stay in their original places, so no thanks,” Will grimaces when he hears the clear threat in Nico’s voice. Wow, the boy’s so protective of his sister and that’s actually sort of adorable, but he’s terrifying when he’s angry and provoking your crush doesn’t do anything to your image in his eye, so Will decides to change the subject again. “Speaking about that, how about your intention about studying Pre-Med now? Do you still want that or you change your mind?”

“Haven’t decided yet,” Nico sighs. “My father doesn’t like that idea very much. Said that he doesn’t like doctors and surgeons much. I didn’t tell him that I prefer to be a forensic expert or a coroner more. Didn’t want to provoke his wrath, he’s pretty mad at me when he found out I dropped the Political Science extra class he chose for me.”

“Your grandmother sold you out?” Will knows a little bit about how did Demeter get Nico agree with coming to the play, but he doesn’t think the old woman actually did that.

“No, but her daughter and also my stepmother did,” Nico snorts, “She never likes me and Hazel anyway, so I’m not surprised about that, just mildly irritated.”

“Hazel?”

“My sister,” Nico blinks. “Not the one who came to the festival with me. My half-sister, same father, different mothers, not our stepmother Persephone. Complicated family, let’s not go there.”

Will thinks about his unimaginable number of siblings, doesn’t count his cousins and nephews, shaking his head. “Got it, I won’t ask. About the part complicated family, tell me about that.” He grimaces slightly at that, Apollo is a good father and all, but he isn’t exactly the faithful type. If Hayden only had two affairs to have Nico and Hazel, it’s still a smaller number than his own dad’s. Strangely enough, Will doesn’t hate him about that, but he made a promise to himself since he’s still a kid that he won’t grow up into that kind of adult.

They fall into a silence after that because Nico doesn’t say anything more and Will’s run out of things to ask, but at least when they’re quiet, it’s not the awkward, uncomfortable kind of silence anymore. It’s an improvement and sometimes Will wants to push his luck, like right at this moment. “Hey, can I touch your hair again? I like the feeling of doing that.”

“You’ll turn into another Jason soon if you keep doing that and turn that into a habit,” Nico hisses, but he doesn’t look angry when he closes his eyes and gestures. “Whatever, but don’t be forceful with it. I just washed my hair this morning.”

“Alright.” Will breaths out in delight, moving his hand to run his fingers through the wavy curls. Gods, the blond misses that feeling so much since the last time he touched Nico’s hair, and it’s still so wonderful as he remembers. He could do that every day without getting bored for sure, touching Nico’s hair is a relaxing and comfortable feeling and Will loves it so much that it hurts when he realizes that’s the most he can touch the other boy now and he still needs to ask for permission for each time doing it.

‘It’s okay,’ he tries to reassure himself. ‘Baby steps. I could do baby steps. Don’t want to risk anything, so baby steps.’

‘You’re so pathetic.’ This time it’s Lou Ellen’s voice, and it continues in a mocking way even though Will does his best to ignore that inner voice in his head. ‘You’re now at rank 14.75 of the scale, William Solace.’

If things continue like this, the blond will soon have enough material to write a whole book about his personal customize scale “Having a crush sucks”, with all the detailed of its multiple levels that even he hasn’t explored all of them yet (but he’s not sure he actually wants to hit the bottom of that scale because man, that thought is so depressing).

End of chapter 8 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Our lovely ladies have some new interesting plans.

“So far I can tell your grandson doesn’t like my grandson as much as mine does with yours,” Rhea slowly says when she is sitting with Demeter in one of their usual afternoon tea times. Today Demeter suggested they should try the new Earl Grey she just bought two days ago, and Rhea really likes the taste of it. “What a shame.”

“I apologize for my ungrateful grandchild,” Demeter sighs heavily, she knows Nico’s a troublesome boy sometimes, but Will’s such a charming young man. Why does the black-haired boy need to be that difficult? “But it’s not like I can do anything to change his attitude.”

“Don’t worry sweetie, I don’t blame you,” Rhea laughs. “I think one part of the reasons is Will didn’t try hard enough either, but he didn’t have too many chances to be fair. So I guess we need to step in and make the chance for them.”

“What do you want us to do, bestie?” Demeter recognizes the mischievous light is dancing in her friend’s eyes, and she’s immediately interested in whatever the plans Rhea’s having in her mind.

“Our grandchildren don’t go to the same high school, so their chances to meet when they come back to classes decrease greatly. Why don’t we change that? Transferring my grandson to your grandson’s school or vice versa, I don’t really care, I just need some excuses for them to meet more frequently.”

“Where’s your grandson’s school?” Demeter asks with genuine interest.

“Half-Blood high school. It’s close to our house.”

“And your house’s close to mine,” Demeter nods. “Nico studies in a military school that’s so far away so he only visits me twice or once for three months when he’s in school. I think we should transfer my grandchild to yours’ school.”

It’s not only for the friendship between those two boys. If Nico goes to a new school that’s so close to Demeter’s house, he doesn’t have a chance to refuse to visit her anymore. Distance isn’t a problem so it’s good for her too.

“I agree, and because I’m not actually good with documents and all the complicated process of transferring so I’ll let you do it,” Rhea shrugs. “So it’s decided.”

“It’s decided.”

***

Will doesn’t know how should he react with the news his grandma told him.

“But… do you ask for his opinion before?” He questions, seeming confused. “I mean, it’s his school so he should have some words.”

“He doesn’t need to,” Rhea scowls. “We all want the best for our grandchildren after all.”

“But…” Will shakes his head. “Nico won’t be pleased about that.”

Saying he “won’t be pleased” is just mildly putting it. For all the information Will knows about the boy, he’ll be extremely pissed off when someone does something in his life without asking or notifying him.

“Why do you care that much anyway?” His grandmother sighs. “I thought you’ll be happy with that, but it doesn’t look like the case. What bothers you?”

‘The fact that I’m having a gigantic crush on him and my best friends already knew and I don’t want to let the whole school be aware of how unattainable my wishful relationship with him is, dear grandma.’ Will bitterly thinks, but he doesn’t say that out loud. He settles with, “I’m not sure. I’m happy to have a chance to come to school with him, but the news is just too sudden.”

“So take your time to digest it,” Rhea waves her hand dismissively. “This will be good for both of you, believe me.”

“… Thank you for caring about me, grandma.”

“That sounds like a good news,” Lou says in a happy singing voice, and Will starts to regret telling her. “You, no, we should celebrate it. Your place or mine?”

“Look, Lou, there’s nothing to celebrate,” the blond sighs, he doesn’t have the mood to do something crazy with his best friend right now. When you know each other way too well, your instincts tell you that you should be extremely careful with anything related to the word ‘party’ that your best friend says. “I don’t even know what to feel. It’s so complicated.”

“So let’s make it simpler,” Lou replies him, and even though they’re talking by their phones, he could still imagine how she’s shrugging and smirking right now. “You like him, and he’s going to go to the same school with you. You should be happy.”

“Unfortunately my school is also yours, so I can’t say I’ll be happy when two people already knew about my crush on him and never let a chance to humiliate me slip away are dangerously close to making me into a fool in front of my crush, who, according to him, doesn’t even want to see me for more than once a week.”

“As your friend, I think it’s my job to tell you that your life sucks.”

“Not helping.”

“You suck, too.”

“You’re my best friend so if I suck, that says something about you.” Will retorts in a half-mocking tone.

“One day you will regret saying that,” Lou chuckles, doesn’t sound mad at all. “Because you’re such an idiot that can’t realize how awesome I am.”

“For the record, Lou, if I’m also an idiot and you’re my best friend…”

“I just have a bad taste in choosing my best friend, are you satisfy now?!” She cuts him off and if they’re sitting in front of each other, Will knows Lou’ll give him a very intense glare right now. “Come back to the main topic, if you don’t feel happy, so what are you feeling?”

“I already told you, it’s complicated.”

“Complicated my ass, if you’re too dense that you can’t even figure out how do you feel by yourself, that’s no surprise that you can’t get your crush to notice you.” Lou groans exasperatedly at the other end of the line.

For a moment, Will actually wants to agree with her, but since his crush is nobody else but Nico di Angelo, the situation is truly complicated.

“You just don’t know Nico,” Will shakes his head while replying to her. “Jason said he’s a good person and a sweetheart inside, but since the first time we met, I haven’t heard just a sweet word came out of his mouth. He’s full of venom and sarcasm and anything similar to them, but not sweetness.”

“If I have a bad taste in choosing friends, you have worse taste in choosing your crush.”

“You say that as if I can actually choose who I like,” Will snorts irritatedly. “I’ll be glad if that happens, but sadly it’s not how our emotions work. They like to screw us up more than let us control them.”

“Do you know why do they call the person we secretly have feelings for a crush?” Lou suddenly asks, and Will is taken aback by that change of topic.

“No, haven’t thought about it before.” That’s an interesting question. Why though?

“Look at your life,” Lou sighs, her voice softens a bit. “If you don’t be careful, that person will crush you and your poor soul to ashes.”

‘… If that’s the case, I think Nico already succeeded in the beginning steps of crushing my soul.’ Will thinks bitterly, but of course he won’t tell Lou Ellen a word about that. “Thanks for letting me know such a terrific information.”

“Don’t mention it,” she replies, back to her normal teasing and slightly purring voice. “Do you have anything else that you want to tell me?”

“… No, I think that’s enough,” Will decides to not bother her anymore. Let him mope alone, he’s getting pretty good at that with practicing on a daily basis. “Goodbye, Lou.”

“I do not hang up this call for you to mope for the rest of this night,” she says, sounding strangely commanding. “So after I say goodbye, you’d better get up from your bed and walk out of your room, and find something interesting to do, are we clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Will nods frantically, even though he’s aware that she can’t see his action.

“Good. Bye, Will.” She sounds a little bit satisfied before hanging up and Will let out a sigh, falling back to his bed. He knows she had a good point, but nah, he just doesn’t really want to get out of the bed now. It’s a comfy place and it helps to soothe his wounded soul. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help when he wants to stop thinking about Nico. He even dreamed about that boy on this bed – well, and thinking about that right now isn’t helping either.

Will covers his face with a pillow and groans exhaustedly. The next semester in high school will definitely be a hard one for him.

End of chapter 9 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Nico doesn’t take the news well.

“Sorry, what did you just say?” Nico stares at his father in disbelief. For the record, even Hades doesn’t look too comfortable with himself either, but that doesn’t help anything at all.

“Demeter demands to transfer you to Half-Blood high school this year. It’s closer to her house and it has a good reputation, so I don’t really have good reasons to decline her request. I suppose she’s up to something, but after all, that’s your problems to deal with.” Hades explains, his voice is still emotionless and cold as ever.

“But I have friends in my school! And I have good grades!” Nico tries to protest. “I’m okay with my current school! I don’t want to get a fresh start, this is my last year!”

“I regret to tell you that your dear grandmother doesn’t care about that.”

“You don’t either!” The black-eyed boy accuses, but his irritated voice doesn’t affect his father even just a little bit.

“Right, I don’t,” his father says without blinking. “But my opinion has nothing relevant to the fact that your transferring documents are already done.”

The half-Italian boy truly wants to bang his head on the table right now. Maybe if he has a concussion and needs some weeks in the hospital, he could convince his father to let him continue his last year in his current high school.

But the risks of having a bloody forehead and maybe amnesia stop him from doing something utterly stupid like that. After the silent debate with himself, Nico sighs and stands up. “Fine, I don’t have a word at my choices in life, just as usual.”

“If that can make you feel better, I was surprised when I heard the news, too. I didn’t know why Demeter so insisted on that, but I don’t see any reasons to reject her.”

“It doesn’t make me feel any better, but thanks for letting me know, father.” Nico bitterly retorts. Hades scowls at the way he emphasizes the last word, but he doesn’t comment anything.

“You’re going to spend last year in Half-Blood high school?” Jason sounds so cheerful on the other line, and before Nico could ask him why, the blond breaths out. “Cool, me too!”

What?

Nico might actually say that only thought out loud without noticing, before the next thing he hears is Jason’s chuckle, and his joyful voice answers him. “You didn’t hear that wrong. Let’s say, I ‘accidentally’ saw your grandmother with a bunch of files and documents one week ago, and I helped her to carry them, so she told me her new plan to switch you to a new school. I did some searching and found out that Half-Blood is cool, and it’s near my sister’s place, so I guess I could convince my family to let me spend my last year of high school with my best friend and Thalia. Long story short, we’re in that together, Neeks.”

“… Don’t call me that when we’re at school.” Nico sighs loudly, pinching the bridge of his nose. Okay, now they’re in that together. He doesn’t know that’s a good thing or not, but at least he has his best friend in that unfamiliar place. It might make things easier a little bit, and he’s grateful for that.

It doesn’t mean he will stop making some revenge plans for his grandmother, though. It needs to be subtle and carefully planned, and it might take months to finish, but he’s not Nico di Angelo anymore if he could simply let that go.

That’s the part you choose to pay attention to?” Jason sounds genuinely hurt, and the black-haired boy rolls his eyes when he could easily imagine the other’s lost puppy eyes now. “I’m willing to throw myself into a new and strange environment for you, Nico, and you don’t even care about that fact. I’m wounded.”

“Stop being so ridiculous, I didn’t ask you to do that,” Nico snorts, but it’s true, his best friend actually more or less did that for him, so he shouldn’t take that for granted, right? “But whatever, are you free this afternoon? Come to my house, I’ll make something for you. Italian.”

“Great!” Jason exclaims, and his voice’s back to its normal happy state. “I’ll be there at 2 P.M.! Do you need me to bring you anything?”

“Nah, I’m good, and our kitchen still has a lot of ingredients after all,” Nico chuckles lightly. “See you later, Jace.”

***

2 P.M. that afternoon, Jason is already at Nico’s doorstep, grinning widely when the half-Italian boy opens the door for him, wearing a silver black apron with a pastry bag in his hand.

“You’re making a cake? Wonderful!” The blond commented when he noticed the pastry bag in Nico’s hand. It’s brown, so it positively is chocolate, right? His favourite flavour.

“Hazel baked some cakes for Frank, I just help her with the decoration,” Nico shakes his head slightly while closing the door. “She made three of them though, said that one is for me and you when she knew you’ll come this afternoon. But I don’t think about repeating the flowery decoration and making a small bear, so I guess you need to agree with a plain chocolate cake.”

“As long as it has chocolate in it, I’m sold,” Jason nods and smiles at Nico. “Can I help you with anything?”

“I promise to make something Italian for you and I took out all the necessary ingredients, but I haven’t started working on it yet. Maybe you can help me out a little bit with some small tasks while I cook the main dish.”

“My pleasure,” Jason walks with Nico to his kitchen. “So, what do you have in mind for me?”

“Just traditional and simple meatballs, I know you like them,” Nico grins. “And if you want, I can make some pasta or other desserts too, like pannacotta or tiramisu.”

“I choose pannacotta, for the chocolate flavour we already have cake,” the blond shrugs when Nico gives him an apron. “Do you have any other colour than black?”

“Don’t complain,” the black-haired boy grumbles half-irritatedly before shoving a big bowl into Jason’s hands. “Knead that mixture by hand for me. Do it until it’s well-combined then tell me so I can check your work. Don’t forget to take a paper glove, I want to stay away from any germs and bacteria.” He hands Jason a box of gloves.

“What’s in that?” Jason asks curiously when he takes one and starts to knead the mixture.

“A bunch of poisonous ingredients that I’ll stuff inside you later,” Nico snorts. “Don’t worry, you’ll be tasty, I promise.”

“Geez,” Jason grimaces slightly, the black-haired boy’s dark sense of humour isn’t something that everyone can appreciate. “Last time you threatened to murder me and wear my skin. This time you want to cook me. What am I to you, a guinea pig for all your murder plans?”

“Kind of,” Nico shrugs while taking out two cans of tomato sauce and a smaller can of tomato paste. “That’s one of your privileges as my best friend. You should feel honoured.”

“I honestly don’t think that’s a privilege,” Jason sighs, rolling his eyes. “I still want to be your best friend, but I need you to find another guinea pig. Hey, is it good enough?”

“Need one more minute,” Nico takes a look at the bowl and shakes his head, starting to open the first can of tomato sauce. “That’s not easy. It’s not like anyone could easily pass the conditions to be close to me like you.”

“Well, but you have to admit that the first time we met was… under a strange and special circumstance. That kind of situation guarantees instant best friends.”

Jason does have a good point. Their first meeting was very… intense and intriguing in a scary, dangerous way. It truly makes anyone that has gone through it together become great friends. Just like the golden trio in the Harry Potter series with the mountain troll incident.

“It doesn’t happen frequently, and I don’t want to repeat it with anyone else either,” Nico shakes his head. “Hey, you can stop now, that’s enough.”

Jason passes the bowl to Nico and asks what should he do next. The younger boy tells him to take out a pot and pour olive oil into it, enough to cover the bottom of that pot, then heat it up on medium heat. Then he adds onion and chopped garlic into it and tells Jason to roll the meatballs.

“Be careful when you put them in, the oil might pop and burn you,” Nico warns the blond when Jason asks could he do the task or not. “You should use some tools, you know. Like tongs or a pair of chopsticks.”

“I don’t even know how to use chopsticks,” Jason laughs, taking the tongs Nico gives him. “Do you know?”

“We eat Chinese takeout sometimes, of course I know.” Nico hums quietly, observing Jason who is putting the meatballs one by one into the pot.

“I still prefer the fork,” Jason shrugs, turning a meatball over. “This one looks good, can I take it out now?”

“Wait until the whole ball turns light brown,” Nico smiles. “And please do it gently when you turn them over, they break easily.”

“It doesn’t look like… oops.” The blond’s smile fades when one of the meatballs breaks in two halves, just as Nico said. The black-haired boy’s grin only gets wider when he shakes his head slightly.

“Told you. You’re an idiot, Jace.” His voice has a little bit of fondness because he doesn’t actively try to hide it anyway.

“Just one time.” Jason groans, trying hard to not break another meatball when he uses the tongs to turn them over.

“I doubt it,” Nico snorts. “Hey, that one’s good. Take it out.”

The black-haired boy hands Jason a bowl to put the fried meatballs into. Jason breaks two more during the progress, so after he finishes, Nico asks – more like commands – him to get out of the kitchen and wait in the dining room, or just go upstairs and open the door of his room, and he will do the rest.

Jason is actually more than happy to obey the request. Cooking with Nico is fun, but he doesn’t want to risk the chance that he might accidentally spoil the food with his clumsy hands. So he tells Nico that he’ll wait inside his room and he wants to use Nico’s Xbox, and the raven-haired boy just waves his hand dismissively at that.

Twenty minutes later, Nico surprises Jason and makes him lose the fight when he silently snucks into the room and tickles the blond on his ribs.

“Nico!” Jason exclaims, throwing away the controller. “I was so close to winning that round!”

“With only one-tenth of the HP bar?” Nico snorts. “I don’t think so.”

“I had a strategy!”

“I have meatballs.”

“I’m sold.” Jason immediately switches his grimace into a smile. Nico rolls his eyes at that, mumbling something inaudible while handing Jason a fork.

“What did you just say?” The blond questions, using the fork to pick up a meatball. “It smells so delicious.”

“I said that your price is so cheap,” Nico smirks. “I need only one dish of meatballs to buy you.”

“I beg to differ, it’s called economical,” Jason shrugs, devouring his meatball. “And it’s not like anyone’s food can buy me. Only yours. And Percy’s mom’s cookies and cakes, but she’s a mother so that doesn’t count.”

“Sometimes I don’t understand your logic,” the black-haired boy shakes his head. “Remind me, why are we best friends anyway?”

“I thought we’re already done with this discussion,” Jason grins. “I’m a case of incurable awesomeness–”

“Please.”

“It’s just the plain fact,” the blond blinks innocently. “And it’s not like you have many choices after all. I’m one of those rare human-interactions that you have. And we both agree that the circumstance that made us become friends is a friendship-guaranteed situation.”

“One day it will become the anecdote of our friendship.”

“I think it already did.”

“Whatever you say, you dork.” Nico playfully nudges Jason with his elbow.

“Well, that dork’s willing to transfer to a new school with his best friend, so he’s a kind-hearted and considerate dork.”

“You’re truly unbelievable.”

“And I’m your best friend.”

“Yeah.”

“That makes you unbelievable, too.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Language.”

Please shut the fuck up.”

“See? You’re unbelievable.”

End of chapter 10 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: The new transfer students.

Everybody starts to whisper to others right after the moment their head teacher said that they’ll have some new transfer students in their classes. It’s not usual for someone to switch their school at this time of the year, and that’s the last year of high school after all.

“Remember, you must be nice to them. They’re from another school and they aren’t familiar with this place, so don’t make them feel like strangers. There’s one student who will share this class with you so he’ll be the first one that I introduce to you.” Their teacher reminds again before gesturing for the new student to come in.

Will already knew who he is, but it couldn’t stop his breaths from hitching when he sees the boy that coincidentally is his object of affection, in all his adorable glory. Some of the other students do that too, and Will feels a little bit jealous at that, but it’s not like he could blame Nico for possessing that kind of eye-catching beauty.

“Hello, I’m Nico di Angelo,” the new student raises his voice, and he smiles a little bit. “Nice to meet all of you. Please take care of me.”

“Of course we’ll do!” A male student shouts out loud and he lets out a laugh before saying, “Teacher, you didn’t say that he’s so cute!”

“Mr. Stoll, please behave,” their teacher isn’t satisfied with that comment, but he doesn’t say anything else. “I believe Nico’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself, I saw his academic result at his old school and it’s pretty impressive, but it’s nice of you to act nice to him. Now, Mr. di Angelo, please take any seat you want and we can start our class.”

“Thank you, teacher.” Nico nods slightly and walks to an empty seat near the back row of the class. It’s easy to tell that the girl next to him is more than happy when he sits down because she’s wearing a wide smile on her face and looks like a lovestruck teenager.

Will tries to not feel hurt when that seat’s so far from his spot, and Nico doesn’t look at his direction even just one time. The half-Italian acts like he doesn’t know Will exists in this room – or maybe he knows, and that’s the reason why did he choose that seat.

The blond couldn’t decide which situation hurts him more.

Will couldn’t learn anything, just doodling some meaningless lines in his notebook and thinking about Nico, while simultaneously trying to not turn his head at the black-haired boy’s direction and stare at him. It’s harder than he thought and the blond’s more than glad when the class is finally over.

Nico is immediately surrounded by his new classmates when break time comes.

“Where’re you from, di Angelo?”

“Your name isn’t American, are you Italian? What does your last name mean?” A brunet asks with genuine interest.

“Dude, it’s obvious! It’s “the angel”!” A girl playfully punches her friend’s shoulder. “And it fits you, di Angelo! I mean, you look like a real-life angel!”

“You’re so pretty, do all Italians look like you?” A boy winks at Nico with a flirty attitude, and suddenly Will wants to punch something so bad that he doesn’t realize his hands already curl into fists.

“Wow, I love your eyes, I haven’t seen any dark and beautiful color like that! Is it black tinted with golden flickers?”

Yes and no, dumbass, Will rolls his eyes dramatically. It’s actually chocolate brown, just a very, very dark shade of brown that looks like black under some sources of light, but with sunlight on a nice day, they have a deep and mysterious shade of melted chocolate, hell yeah, tinted with flickers of gold. And no, it isn’t like Will spent hours to think and try to explain the hidden mystery behind Nico’s captivating eyes before, not at all. He could swear he didn’t.

(Except the fact that indeed he did.)

“Your skin is smooth, how do you keep it that nice?”

“Let him breathe, you predators! Don’t scare the new student like that!” Someone yells, but the others just giggle and laugh at that comment.

“Uhm… I can’t answer all your questions at once so could you please repeat each question again, one by one?” Nico looks visibly uncomfortable with all the attention he gets, and he obviously struggles with himself to not stand up and run away right at this moment. “And please don’t stand too close to me, I’m not fond of physical contacts and I don’t like it when someone invades my personal space.”

Luckily, all the other students seem to get the message and they back out a little bit, giving Nico a respectable space that he’s thankful for. He inhales deeply before giving them the friendliest smile that he could manage. “Thank you, I appreciate that. Now, what do you want to ask me? I’ll answer them the best as I could.”

When Nico answers those questions with information Will already knew, a brunette girl plops down in front of his desk and smirks at him. “Why don’t you come there and join them, Will? The new student is pretty cute.”

“I’m good here, thanks for asking,” Will shrugs, trying to act calm and unaffected. “I’ll find another time to talk to him. Why don’t you come back to your little job with him?”

“Just checkin’ on you,” she replies with a grin, standing up. “Alright, suit yourself. Just a friendly warning, adorable thing like him doesn’t need much time to be claimed.”

“Got it.” Will waves his hand at her when she leaves, even though he doubts her words. “Claimed”? Like that little spoiled brat could let anyone do that to him. Not that Will thinks he stands a chance either. What a sad truth, cruel fate, undeniable crestfallen fact.

..

.

“I’m 80% sure that my grandma demanded to transfer me to your school because of your existence.” When they meet for the first time since the beginning of the new semester, Nico tells Will. He doesn’t sound angry, but he’s still pretty pissed off.

“I can’t be blamed for that,” Will scowls, doesn’t know should he act happy about that to spoil Nico’s mood more or not. “It’s not me who made that decision.”

“I couldn’t care less,” the black-haired boy snorts, lying down to his bed. “Just want to make sure that you don’t act friendly with me when we’re in school. I’ll pretend you’re a stranger to me and I want you to do the same.”

“But why?” The blond tries to not stare at the smooth skin of the other’s hip when he stretches and his shirt is pulled up, revealing the healthy olive complexion.

“Because I want to.”

“I demand a proper explanation.” The thought that Nico feels ashamed knowing Will makes the blond feel both depressed and angry at the same time. If he doesn’t get at least one good reason, he’ll make sure Nico never get what he wants.

“She wants me to have a fresh start? Sure, I’ll have a fresh start,” Nico bites his bottom lip, chewing on it slightly while rolling on his bed, switching to a pose that he’s lying on his stomach, the shirt is still being pulled up too much for Will’s mental stability. “And by that, I mean I’ll act like I don’t know anyone from your school, including you. Don’t try to talk to me like we’re already friends, and we will be good.”

So it’s not like Nico dislikes him that much? Fine then, he could try, but he will take no responsibility if anything happens.

And goddamn it William Solace, stop staring at Nico’s back right now you wretched cow!

***

So far nothing has happened yet, and Will starts to feel pretty annoyed when he found out Jason’s one of the transfer students too. Why didn’t Nico tell him about that? Why didn’t Jason warn him before?

Well, it’s not like it’s Jason’s obligation, but Will needs someone to take the blame. Preferably not him, because he’s the miserable one here and that means he couldn’t take any of his own blame. Not his grandmother either because she actually did him a favour, even though he doesn’t have the luck to fully accept that. And by eliminating his grandma, Nico’s grandmother Demeter is also not someone he could blame.

Should he blame Nico’s parents because they gave birth to a beautiful child but raising him to a stubborn boy like that? Yeah, sometimes Will’s just that lame. He doesn’t even bother to defend his honour. Or feel particularly sorry.

In the end, Will decides to blame his unfortunate fate. If they want to make him be more miserable after that, he couldn’t care less.

..

.

It only takes two weeks for Nico to be pretty popular in Camp Half-Blood high school. The first reason is, he’s attractive, both in body figure and in facial structure. Secondly, a teacher just slipped the fact that he possesses an impressive academic result, so he immediately gets a lot of admirers because it’s hard to find someone whose both appearance and brain like that. Thirdly, some naughty students wanted to talk to him “in private”, and despite his small and lithe appearance suggests that he looks weak, he beat all of their sorry asses by himself.

At this point, all the other students are aware of the fact that they shouldn’t mess with that little Italian if they still value their lives. One thing that Will already knew for sure since the first moment they met.

And one more thing that he doubts from the first time he met Jason starts to bother him pretty much too.

 

“Those two are sure so close. Do you think they’re dating?”

A classmate asks Will when they’re at the canteen, and only 20 feet from their spot, Nico and Jason are sitting next to each other, talking friendly. It makes Will feel insanely jealous when Jason casually wraps an arm around Nico’s shoulder, and the black-haired boy doesn’t react even just a little bit. Having a crush sucks.

“I don’t know. It’s none of my business.”

If she notices that Will sounds bitter about it, she doesn’t point out. “Why don’t you come and talk to di Angelo? He’s pretty cool once you get to know him, even though I guess it’s just an aspect of him.”

He’s sure cool, Will thinks. He already knew that, after spending a summer with the boy, trying to befriend him with minimal success. How did Jason do it anyway?

“I’m not interested.”

What a blatant, shameless lie.

“Whatever. I’ll come and talk to them. Watching Jason is a new entertaining habit of my life. That boy is so handsome!” She shrugs and leaves, walking in their direction. Will watches her approaching them, feeling strangely empty inside.

Three minutes later, she left the two boys alone, and Jason says something that makes Nico laugh and playfully nudge him on his forearm. That smile does strange thing to Will’s stomach again, but the sight makes him feel jealous and bitter, and his emotions quickly turn into a chaotic mess.

Will groans irritatedly and stands up, walking out of the canteen. He doesn’t need to torture his heart, as if Nico doesn’t do it every time they meet already, unintentionally or not.

Maybe Will should start to work on his “Having a crush sucks on multiple levels” book, to take his mind off his feelings toward Nico for a while.

… Except for the fact that his crush is Nico di Angelo, so starting to think about that book is indeed a bad idea.

Oh holy Hades, screw my life.

End of chapter 11 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Jason’s new mission.

Truth to be told, Jason feels a little bit nervous when he tells his parents that he will transfer to a new high school with his best friend Nico – a decision that he made without asking them first. Normally, his father Julius and his stepmother Juno will make most of the decisions in his life, waiting for (read: borderline manipulating) him to obey and follow the path they want him to walk on. All his attempts to rebel in the past usually didn’t end well, but it’s not like Jason will stop trying anytime soon. He’s not that amenable as they think anyway.

But at least Half-Blood high school has a good reputation, and Jason will still continue to keep up his good academic results (it’s good for his future, doesn’t matter his parents force him to do that or not), he’s even willing to promise to join a sport team or two if that’s what Juno wants (he’ll settle with another club that he truly enjoys being a part of later, who cares that much).

“Is that so?” Juno’s voice is eerily sweet, and Jason restrains himself from grimacing. “Well, I’m not entirely happy that you decided to do it before asking for my permission or at least telling me first, but I approve of your choice this time.”

I doubt that I hear that right… Jason blinks at the unexpected reaction from his stepmother. “You approve?”

“You want me to disagree with you?” The woman’s eyes narrow, her lips tighten.

“No, mother, I… I’m just surprised, I guess.” Jason immediately shakes his head, but he couldn’t stop thinking what’s the catch this time. Juno isn’t the kind of a loving mother that always wants the best for her children, no matter how she tries to act like one. The blond hastily adds when his stepmother still stares at him intensely. “Thank you for your approval, mother. I truly appreciate it.”

He doesn’t need to voice his skepticism about what does she really want from him in exchange for her sudden suspicious acceptance because Juno speaks up right after that. “Actually, I have something to discuss with you about what could you do in this new high school, Jason.”

Now that’s what I’m used to dealing with. “What do you want me to do, mother?”

“Your father just made an acquisition to expand the business. That company has factories to produce perfume, leather clothing, and custom tailored suits. The marketing department also hires some exclusive models to advertise their products.” Juno starts to explain, her voice is still sickeningly sweet.

Jason couldn’t see the connection at all. “What do all of these things have to do with me?”

“For the latest product line that’s coming out at the beginning of November, they want to invite Tristan McLean to attend all their events as a special guest, and to discuss some business with him. But the man is quite… not easy to convince or persuade.”

“How could I help father with that, mother? I’m just a normal student, I haven’t finished high school yet.” Jason tries to not roll his eyes in disinterest. He couldn’t care less about his father’s business, he doesn’t plan to join him and work for him in the future anyway.

“Rumor has it that his daughter doesn’t want him to attend any social event for a while to accompany her as much as possible in her last year of high school. That daughter is currently a student in Half-Blood high school.”

Oh my gods, is she seriously going to ask me what I think she’s gonna ask me? “Mother, I don’t think I could be helpful in this situation.”

Juno continues as if she doesn’t hear a word from Jason. “I have a plan. You could transfer to that high school, find Tristan McLean’s daughter, befriend with her, and if you could do better then make her be your girlfriend, and you could have the chance to convince her to let her father help your father with the business.”

‘Your father’. Jason doesn’t like the way Juno emphasizes those words. As if he needs her to remind him of how less of a father Julius is to him and Thalia. “A relationship doesn’t work like that, mother.”

“You silly boy, I already checked and I think that girl could be a good match for you,” Jason’s stepmother replies him, her mouth is forming a smile but her eyes are cold and distant. “Piper McLean is a pretty daughter of a famous actor. Pity that the child doesn’t know her mother, but I think I could ignore that because some of her other qualities are above average. Or do you want me to retract my approval of your impulsive decision?”

As much as Jason hates to follow Juno’s request and how she talks about the girl even though he doesn’t know her, he still wants to accompany Nico at the new high school. His hands curl into fists, his teeth grit for a moment before he sighs. “I will find Piper McLean, but I make no promise that I could succeed with your plan.”

“You will try, and you will tell me after you achieve any step,” Juno smiles sweetly at the blond. “Believe me, my plans could sound absurd at first, but they always work in the end. Now you may leave if you don’t have anything else to talk to me.”

Jason tries to not storm out of the room in anger, but he only stops at his room for a moment to grab his phone and the key. He needs some fresh air right now before his head could explode.

***

Jason has been driving for half an hour before he receives a call from Nico. Switching to his usual cheerful personality to answer, Jason chuckles when Nico sounds so irritated at the other end of the line, just as he predicted.

“You’re going to spend last year in Half-Blood high school? Cool, me too!”

“What?!”

Jason laughs at his best friend’s shocking tone of voice. “You didn’t hear that wrong. Let’s say, I ‘accidentally’ saw your grandmother with a bunch of files and documents one week ago, and I helped her to carry them, so she told me her new plan to switch you to a new school. I did some searching and found out that Half-Blood is cool, and it’s near my sister’s place, so I guess I could convince my family to let me spend my last year of high school with my best friend and Thalia. Long story short, we’re in that together, Neeks.”

Talking to Nico really helps to ease Jason’s anger. They have known each other for a long time, and Nico is his secrets keeper, the person he trusts the most besides his sister Thalia.

“… Don’t call me that when we’re at school.”

Nico sighs loudly, and Jason pretends to sound hurtful when he replies. “That’s the part you choose to pay attention to?” He winces and trying to suppress a laugh when he could hear Nico’s snort. “I’m willing to throw myself into a new and strange environment for you, Nico, and you don’t even care about that fact. I’m wounded.”

“Stop being so ridiculous, I didn’t ask you to do that,” there’s silent for a moment, then Nico continues. “But whatever, are you free this afternoon? Come to my house, I’ll make something for you. Italian.”

“Great!” Jason exclaims, Nico’s not frequently willing to cook something for anyone, so it’s truly a privilege when he offers to do that for Jason. “I’ll be there at 2 P.M.! Do you need me to bring you anything?”

“Nah, I’m good, and our kitchen still has a lot of ingredients after all,” Nico chuckles lightly. “See you later, Jace.”

Jason buys a ticket to watch a comedy alone at noon to cool his head down before coming to Nico’s house. Talking on the phone isn’t like seeing each other in person – Nico could easily tell when Jason’s happy and when he’s pretending to be like that just by a look at his face, and as a good friend the blond is, he really doesn’t want to spoil the black-haired boy mood with his own problem.

 

So when the door of Nico’s house swings open, Jason greets his best friend with the brightest smile he could manage. Forgetting Juno and all her crazy ideas is actually a good feeling, even if he couldn’t do that for the rest of his life, he’s still beyond alright with some hours not thinking about her at all.

Nico’s sister baked chocolate cakes, and she saved one for her brother and Jason ‘because she knows you’ll come over’, as Nico told him. Needless to say, Hazel’s truly a saint.

Jason tries to help Nico with some small tasks in the kitchen (keyword: tries), but eventually, his best friend gets irritated at his clumsy hands and kicks him out. He doesn’t complain about that though, he knows how serious Nico could be when he’s doing something he’s good at and likes.

Nico just waves his hand dismissively when Jason asks could he come to his room, so the blond walks out of the kitchen and go upstairs. It’s not the first time he comes over anyway, well, he even knows where does Nico keep his favorite movies collection and how he organizes his bookshelves for goodness’ sake.

“Nico!” Jason yells in surprise when a hand suddenly tickles him, making him gasp before breaking into a laugh and losing his game. He throws away the controller in mock anger. “I was so close to winning that round!”

Jason earnestly considers that should he give Nico a bell collar as a gift or not. He moves so quietly, the blond didn’t hear a sound when he entered the room at all.

“With only one-tenth of the HP bar?” The black-haired boy snorts, putting down two plates. “I don’t think so.”

“I had a strategy!” Jason crosses his arms and protests loudly.

“I have meatballs.” Nico raises an eyebrow at Jason with a challenging glance.

“I’m sold.”

Jason grins when Nico rolls his eyes at that, mumbling something inaudible while handing the blond a fork.

“What did you just say?” He asks curiously before inhaling the fragrant scent from the place. “It smells so delicious.”

“I said that your price is so cheap,” Nico smirks. “I need only one dish of meatballs to buy you.”

“I beg to differ, it’s called economical,” Jason shrugs, already starts to devour his meatball. “And it’s not like anyone’s food can buy me. Only yours. And Percy’s mom’s cookies and cakes, but she’s a mother so that doesn’t count.”

“Sometimes I don’t understand your logic. Remind me, why are we best friends anyway?”

“I thought we’re already done with this discussion,” he smirks. “I’m a case of incurable awesomeness–”

“Please.”

“It’s just the plain fact,” Jason blinks innocently. “And it’s not like you have many choices after all. I’m one of those rare human-interactions that you have. And we both agree that the circumstance that made us become friends is a friendship-guaranteed situation.”

“One day it will become the anecdote of our friendship.”

“I think it already did.”

“Whatever you say, you dork.” Nico playfully nudges Jason with his elbow.

“Well, that dork’s willing to transfer to a new school with his best friend, so he’s a kind-hearted and considerate dork.”

“You’re truly unbelievable.” Nico stares at Jason with the what-am-I-going-to-do-with-you-anyway expression, which is a mix of irritation, tiredness, disbelief, I’m-so-done-ness, and Jason dares to say, a little bit of fondness too.

“And I’m your best friend.” Jason grins.

Nico nods, smiling a little bit. “Yeah.”

“That makes you unbelievable, too.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Language.”

Please shut the fuck up.”

“See? You’re unbelievable.”

“I’m so full right now that I can’t even stand up.” Jason breaths out when he finishes the last piece of the chocolate cake. Both Nico and Hazel are hella good cooks, and occasionally Jason wonders how could he become a member of the di Angelo family without being in a relationship with Hazel (Frank would kill him before Nico could kick his ass) or Nico (c’mon, that’s his best friend we’re talking about, and as much as Jason loves him, his feelings for Nico aren’t the romantic kind) so he could eat their food every day. Sometimes life goal is just that simple. “If I come home before Hazel’s back, please say thanks to her for me. I love the cake.”

“I will,” Nico agrees, putting the last plate on the cupboard. “Do you want some apple or orange juice?”

“Nico, I don’t think I could force anything else down, please have some mercy on my stomach.” Jason shakes his head, looking around the kitchen. Nico and Hazel’s meticulousness is showing so evidently here. Every inch of the kitchen is clean and spotless, Jason wonders how much effort they put into keeping their kitchen that unblemished.

“Hmm, tell me when you change your mind then,” Nico shrugs, taking out a glass and opening the fridge’s door. “So, what happened this morning?”

Jason’s delightful mood dissipates by the question. “Nothing much, just a normal, usual boring day.”

“Sure, it’s so boring that your happy voice sounded strangely fake when I called you,” Nico closes the door, putting down the cup of apple juice on the kitchen table then scrutinizing his best friend with an intense scowl on his face. The blond stares back, refusing to admit defeat that soon. “And don’t you think I didn’t notice how downcast you looked when you were in the kitchen and thought that I didn’t subtly observe you.”

Ouch. Jason’s never good at concealing his true emotions as Nico and Reyna. It’s not helpful at all when they’re both the keen observation type. Reyna once told him that he’s like an open book to her, and he might be one to Nico too.

“And when you took out your car key, you dropped this.” Nico deadpans, throwing a movie ticket at Jason.

Double ouch.

Jason wordlessly stares at Nico, still refusing to open his mouth to protest or admit, and the black-haired boy sighs heavily at his stubbornness. “Jason, it’s not like I don’t know anything about you, and you’re damn well aware of that fact. So please talk to me, what’s bothering you?”

Jason bits his lips and looks away. “I don’t want to bother you with my problems, I think you already have enough of them in your life. Even more than an average person, if I might add.”

“Thanks for reminding me of that,” Nico rolls his eyes. “You’re right, I have way too many of them that I lost count already. So it’s not different at all when I know one or two more, and I’m not the type of friend that can act like nothing happened when my best friend is an obstinate dumbass that refuses to share some of his problems to bother me because he’s idiotically noble like that.”

“… Somehow that’s a strangely accurate description of both you and me, Neeks.” Jason chuckles.

“Don’t you dare call me Neeks and distract me from the main topic here,” Nico glares at the blond. “Spill it out already to save our time before I lose my patience and decide to strangle you to make you talk, will you?”

“Even the way you trying to help is scary and threatening.”

“Grace.”

“Fine,” Jason holds up both his arms in a defensive gesture. “It’s just my mother and her new stupid plan for my life.”

“I’m not surprised, even just a little bit,” Nico sighs, walking to Jason’s direction and sitting down next to him. “Keep goin’.”

So Jason tells Nico about his conversation with Juno this morning, and when he finishes, Nico looks downright terrifying that for a second Jason’s afraid that his best friend’s gonna commit murder.

“Sorry about my language, but your stepmother is a bitch.”

“I don’t even feel insulted with that anyway. It’s not like Thalia hasn’t called her by that before.” Jason grimaces slightly at the memory. As tactless as his sister was this time, she said it right at Juno’s face before storming out of the house. The week after that wasn’t pleasant and peaceful at all.

“So what you’re gonna do with it?” Nico closes his eyes for a moment before reopening them, and now instead of rage and fury, they’re filled with concern. “You won’t do as she wants, will you?”

“Of course I won’t do exactly as she wants,” Jason shakes his head. “But I couldn’t do nothing either. She threats that she will disapprove of my decision to transfer to Half-Blood high shool with you if I disobey. And because I truly want to spend this last year in peace, so I guess I could at least try to find out who is Piper McLean and befriend her.”

“You really want to do that?” Nico questions, a hand on the blond’s shoulder with a reassuring purpose. “I mean I truly appreciate your decision, but you don’t need to do that much for me.”

“Hey, you’re my best friend, and I did it anyway,” Jason smiles, nudging Nico’s chest with his elbow. “On the bright side, business and Juno’s plan aside, I might score a cool new friend after all.”

“I’ll keep an eye for information about that McLean girl to help you,” Nico nods, smiling back at his best friend. “We will get over this last year of high school together. Deal?”

“Deal.”

End of chapter 12 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: The first stage of having a crush is denial.

Sometimes Nico thinks he needs to re-evaluate how much Reyna’s words could persistently stay in his mind and affect his thoughts. He loves her as a sister for sure, but occasionally hating the others is a thing siblings do, and at this moment he hates the Puerto Rican girl a little bit for making him feel so confused about his feelings toward a certain annoyingly stubborn blond.

It’s about three weeks since the day Reyna commented that Solace’s like a combination of Percy and Jason, and somehow those words continuously echo inside his mind whenever he’s with the sunshine boy. And the more he thinks about that, the more it makes sense but the less he understands why and how. It just happens.

Nico thinks he could blame his friends for that to a certain degree. Jason asked him how did Will look like when he told his best friend about him the first time. Reyna asked him how did Will look like too. Does it really matter that much? Nico made it clear from the beginning that he doesn’t want to be forced to befriend anyone, left alone someone who is as obstinate as Will.

You’re a stubborn boy yourself, Nico. A thought is nagging at the back of the black-haired boy’s head, so he scoffs and tries to shove it far away. Back to the main topic, because they’re his friends so he answered their questions, no matter how annoying they sounded. Now when he has time to ponder about his answers, he’s surprised at himself for noticing such small details about the blond’s appearance.

He guesses years of practicing his drawing skills make him have a habit for that, but still— did he seriously use bright golden, yellowish platinum, buttermilk blond and some words which are similar to those to describe Will’s hair? Way too pictorial, normally just blond is fine already. And really, Nico? As for Solace’s eyes color, he said that they’re baby blue with a slightly darker shade of cornflower and sometimes they’re closer to sky blue. He’s certain that he didn’t spend that much time to even look at the blond, not mention to notice the different shades of his eyes. Well, he begrudgingly admits that Solace has nice eyes, but that should be all he could care about.

But goddamn it those freckles are too distracting!

Nico groans, now he suddenly could understand Reyna’s mischievous chuckle and Jason’s knowing smile after he finished his description of Will Solace. Like hell he would let them tease him about that. It’s just a habit, he tells himself. I notice details about people. I observe carefully. That’s all.

He sincerely hopes that’s all. He already has enough problems in his life now, he doesn’t need to add one more bothersome, stupidly good-looking blond in that list.

..

.

Summer comes crashing down quicker than Nico thinks, but it doesn’t end in the way he wants it to be. Right before he could feel happy and relieved because he will come back to the military school that’s far away from Demeter’s house, his grandmother already crushed his hope to get away from her and get rid of seeing Solace for about three months into ashes.

 

The sort of argument with his father left bitter taste in Nico’s mouth – both figuratively and literally, because whichever the coffee that his father used was, it tasted horribly too strong for him – and when Nico comes back to his room, he plops down to his bed and calls his best friend Jason, only to find out that somehow Jason already knew about the transfer incident and even got himself tangled into it with Nico too.

They have a delightful afternoon with each other after that, and Nico tries to reassure himself that he will be fine when he has Jason with him. It’s already their last year in high school after all, and Jason advises him that he should make the best out of it and ignore all the unpleasant events that occurred before. His words do make sense, and for a hopeful moment, Nico tells himself that trying one time couldn’t hurt.

***

“Hello, I’m Nico di Angelo. Nice to meet all of you. Please take care of me.”

Nico regrets switching into his spurious friendlier persona right after the moment he sees the reactions from his new classmates. They’re excited and smiling at him with genuine interest, and normally he should feel thankful that he gets such a nice welcome from strangers.

“Of course we’ll do! Teacher, you didn’t say that he’s so cute!”

Dear Gods please don’t.

“Mr. Stoll, please behave,” The teacher speaks, and Nico suppresses a sigh. So that student’s name is Stoll, huh? He will make an effort to stay away from him as far as possible then. “I believe Nico’s perfectly capable of taking care of himself, I saw his academic result at his old school and it’s pretty impressive, but it’s nice of you to act nice to him. Now, Mr. di Angelo, please take any seat you want and we can start our class.”

“Thank you, teacher.” He nods, eyeing the class for a moment and finding two things: Solace’s mop of blond hair (no more descriptive adjectives, Nico) and a seat that’s the furthest away from him. He will take that seat. It’s an empty seat near the back row of the class, and Nico pretends that he doesn’t notice the excited look on the face of a girl next to his seat when he sits down.

“Get your books out, kids,” the teacher speaks in a gentle voice. “Could anyone tell me where did we stop the last time?”

“Hey, I’m Sophie,” the girl next to him touches his right shoulder slightly with two of her fingers, and Nico’s glad that he doesn’t flinch at the contact when he already gets most of his guards up right now. “Sophie Brown. Nice to meet you!”

Now a classmate’s talking to me so friendly and I don’t want to deal with that! I already knew the whole transferring thing is a bad idea!

“Nico di Angelo.” He nods but doesn’t look at her, shuffling some books inside his bag to find the one he needs and doesn’t make any effort to speak more than he wants to. He’s sure the girl knew his name though, he introduced himself in front of the entire class just two minutes ago. He doesn’t say “nice to meet you too” and he hopes the girl could take it as a hint that he doesn’t want to talk right now.

“You have a great voice,” unfortunately for Nico, Sophie keeps chirping amicably. “You’re new here, would you mind me showing you around the school when a break comes?”

The black-haired boy kinda wishes that he just went with the old image at the military school: the brooding, slightly quick-tempered, secretive, and only has a handful of friends Nico di Angelo. He functions better with less attention focusing on him after all, and he really wants to snap just a curt “No, thanks.” right now.

“Thanks for the offer, but I guess we shouldn’t talk when the teacher’s lecturing, Brown.”

“Just Sophie is fine,” the girl seems to ignore his unwillingness to continue the conversation, or she just simply couldn’t take a hint. “So is that a yes?”

Now that’s a big fat NO. “Could we talk later?” Nico sighs lightly while turning his head to look at the girl for a brief moment, before gesturing at the teacher’s direction.

The girl rolls her eyes like she’s quite disappointed at his well-behaved and cold manner, but she still nods. “Sure, I’ll show you around the school when it’s break time and we can talk some more!”

Nico makes no reply at that, but he starts to think what is the fastest route to escape the room and find his best friend when the bell rings. He has no idea how did he let Jason talk him into that (‘I know you’re a nice person, Nico. You just don’t want to make other people see that, but I think this is the time to change.’ and some other similar pep talks), but he needs to have some words with the blond later.

Nico doesn’t have the chance to make it to the door when a group of new classmates already surround him when the class is over.

“Where’re you from, di Angelo?”

“Your name isn’t American, are you Italian? What does your last name mean?” Before Nico could answer the first question, another classmate with hazelnut brown hair asked him, and Nico doesn’t feel comfortable with the evident interest in his voice, borderline flirtatious.

“Dude, it’s obvious! It’s “the angel”!” A girl punches the brunet’s shoulder when she laughs, flashing Nico a wide smile. “And it fits you, di Angelo! I mean, you look like a real-life angel!”

Why I never feel I should be proud of those compliments…

“You’re so pretty, do all Italians look like you?” Another boy winks at Nico. He might think he looks charming with that action, but the black-haired boy doesn’t have the same idea.

“Wow, I love your eyes, I haven’t seen any dark and beautiful color like that! Is it black tinted with golden flickers?”

… Hey, this one seems to have an artistic eye. If she doesn’t ask me with that flirty tone of voice, I might want to talk to her about art later.

“Your skin is smooth, how do you keep it that nice?”

“Let him breathe, you predators! Don’t scare the new student like that!” Someone yells at her classmates and Nico feels thankful for that, but the others just giggle and laugh at the command.

“Uhm… I can’t answer all your questions at once so could you please repeat each question again, one by one?” Nico inhales deeply, where is his friendly persona when he needs it? Does he really have an outgoing aspect of his personality as Jason suggested anyway? Damn it, Jason, I won’t let you get away with this easily. “And please don’t stand too close to me, I’m not fond of physical contacts and I don’t like it when someone invades my personal space.”

Fortunately, the other students at least respect his request and they all back out one or two steps. Nico forces his facial muscles to make the friendliest smile that he could manage. “Thank you, I appreciate that. Now, what do you want to ask me? I’ll answer them the best as I could.”

When today’s over, I’m coming after you, Jason!

***

Seeing Solace again is clearly not what Nico wants or plans for the first Saturday after the beginning of the new semester. He doesn’t even to be back to his grandmother’s house that soon. And thinking about the fact that’s how his life will go on for at least 8 months after, he groans in frustration. “I’m 80% sure that my grandma demanded to transfer me to your school because of your existence.”

For his credit, Will Solace scowls as he disagrees with the blame, but the slightly cheerful tone underneath his voice betrays his irritation, telling Nico what exactly the blond feels. “I can’t be blamed for that. It’s not me who made that decision.”

Nico doesn’t understand why Will could be happy about this whole situation – maybe he just likes it when Nico hates something. “I couldn’t care less,” he snorts, lying down to his bed. “Just want to make sure that you don’t ask friendly with me when we’re in school. I’ll pretend you’re a stranger to me and I want you to do the same.”

“But why?”

“Because I want to.”

“I demand a proper explanation.” Hey, now Solace sounds quite pissed off. Damn his obstinate head, why couldn’t he just agree with a request from me for once? Why couldn’t he ignore our grandmothers’ ridiculous attempts to make us be friends and let me live my life in peace in the first place?

“She wants me to have a fresh start? Sure, I’ll have a fresh start,” Nico bites his bottom lip, chewing on it slightly, irritation laces in his voice when he continues. “And by that, I mean I’ll act like I don’t know anyone from your school, including you. Don’t try to talk to me like we’re already friends, and we will be good.”

Solace makes no agreement with that.

..

.

“Hey, cutie, wanna have a little chat?”

Is this the 148th time in this month I regret following Jason’s advice on trying to act friendlier than I usually do? Nico holds back a heavy sigh, doesn’t bother to take a look at whoever just talked to him. “No.”

“Don’t be so cold. Has nobody ever taught you that talking to someone without looking at them is rude?” Another voice teases, and Nico frowns slightly. He could easily slip away from a conversation initiated by one person when he doesn’t want to, but more than one indicates that more verbal exchange and physical contacts might be involved, and Nico hates trouble.

“So these rumors are true, the new transfer student is pretty,” an unfamiliar voice raises, and the Italian looks up from his note with an irritated expression to see a smug smile. “Such a pity that you’re not a girl.”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe he could entertain us better than a girl.” The first one smirks when he observes the black-haired boy hungrily, and his two friends erupt in laughter odiously. That unsettling gaze makes Nico feel really uncomfortable.

Three big douchebags. Just great. “Go away.”

Nico knows things never end that simple, but he doesn’t want to fight when he could avoid it. He has learned some self-defense techniques after all the incidents, but whenever he uses them, they also remind him of some memories that he wishes he could forget.

“What if we don’t?” The second person – a boy with dirty blond hair and dull green eyes, the brawniest one among the three of them – grins maliciously.

“You will regret it.”

That isn’t an empty warning, but none of the other boys could take a hint underneath the black-haired boy’s serious tone.

“We truly doubt that.”

The smile is teasing and somewhat malicious, and at this point, Nico decides that he has had enough of this shit. With a calm façade and an unchanged tone of voice, he silently cracks his knuckles, “You want to talk? Fine, let’s talk.”

“I heard that you beat the shit out of three guys today.” Jason’s voice hints that he feels absolutely no sorry for whoever those guys are.

“They asked for it,” the black-haired boy doesn’t sound regret, but a little bit tired, “and bad news travels fast, I see.”

“It’s not a bad news,” Jason shrugs when he sits down next to the smaller boy, but when he sees the other’s expression his smile fades away. “A little bad, I guess. But not necessarily a terrible thing. And before you could ask, I think… no, I know you have your reasons to did that, and you don’t need to explain to me if you don’t feel comfortable enough. I already knew that you despise violence.”

“Said the guy whom I threaten to hit his head and knock him out on a daily basis,” the corner of Nico’s mouth raises a little bit, but the smile doesn’t reach his eyes, and then he shakes his head with a heavy sigh, “the usual stuff that could piss me off, nothing much. Normally I could ignore them and walk away, but I already had a bad day so their actions were like adding salt to the wound. I should feel bad beating them up, but honestly I don’t.”

Jason nods but doesn’t comment anything. Nico picks up a cherry from his lunch box, his eyes are fixed on the red fruit but his gaze isn’t focused on it, “Now think about that, maybe other students could look at them as an example to take a cue and leave me alone, so you’re right, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. I should feel lucky that no teacher saw our fight or made a fuss about that. Well, not yet, and I hope it remains that way.”

“We all want to stay away from trouble,” Jason agrees, starting to devour his meal. He says between two bites, “I slept in and didn’t have enough time for a proper breakfast. The last hour of my class felt like a century. I’m starving.”

“That’s still not an excuse for you to eat like a pig,” Nico slightly grimaces, but his voice has no malice at all. “Slow down, Jace. Nobody will take your food away.”

“Over my dead body.”

“That was figurative speaking,” Nico decides it’s not worth his energy to discuss this matter further, so he changes the subject. “When you finish your meal and there’s no food in your mouth, tell me what’s your next classes and how was your day.”

Jason nods with a thumb-up, and Nico starts to eat his own lunch. His eyes wander around the full canteen and catch a mop of blond hair. Even though there are so many blond people here, he still knows that person’s Will Solace, because his shade of blond is… different from the others – or whatever, since Nico’s struggling with finding a suitable word to describe it or to explain why would he know Solace’s hair isn’t similar to other blonds’. Combining with the boy’s bright smile, it always reminds Nico of the sun. It’s warm and sincere, and to be honest, Nico doesn’t hate it as much as he pretends to. It would be nice to have that tender smile direct at him, with all the dancing light in those sky blue eyes–

What am I even thinking? Nico shakes his head quite violently to force his train of thoughts to stop. I hate him, he hates me, we hate each other, and there’s no point thinking of such an unrealistic idea.

Focus on the present, Nico. Like you don’t have enough problems to deal with right now, idiot. The black-haired boy scolds at himself. It’s only noon, but he already wants this day to be over.

End of chapter 13 – TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: I said we’ll have a play. You should at least smile at your teacher when he told you that. Show some respect. 

Literature is normally one of Will’s favorite subjects.

It’s true that he loves Biology and Chemistry, but come on, his father’s name literally is Apollo, the frigging god of Music and Poet and a lot of other arts in this world (he’s also kind of the epitome of man-whore, but Will conveniently ignores that fact) – and coincidentally or not, Apollo his father loves every kind of arts just as Apollo the man– opps – the god – and each of his children gets at least one artistic talent in their blood.

For Will’s part, the blond isn’t a good singer like his sister Kayla, or a great archer as his brother Lee, or a great painter as a cousin named Vincent (Apollo insisted on naming that boy Vincent van Gogh, but thankfully his mother never agrees with that idea – long story), but he enjoys music, and he’s a decent accordion and saxophone player. The guitar is surprisingly easier than he once thought, but he’s still struggling with it to make a complete song. He thinks he might need one more year to improve his guitar playing skills before he could actually let anyone hear the sounds, but that’s alright, it’s not like he must know how to play, after all, it’s just mainly for relaxing and entertaining purposes.

Well, but back to the main topic, Will likes Literature. It’s a kind of arts too, art with words to form sentences and make ideas come to life, to tell stories and stir emotional reactions from readers. Will has a mild condition of dyslexia, so he doesn’t enjoy reading so much, but if he tries hard enough, finishing a book isn’t an impossible task. And he needs to do that after all, learning to be a doctor requires a lot of reading, along with other things. After all these years, choosing one or two books a semester for his Literature classes isn’t a hard thing that he struggles with anymore.

But it seems like the fate takes Will’s blame in the last two weeks as an insult at a personal level, because his luck already runs out today, even though it’s Monday, the frigging beginning of a week.

“We will have a play this semester.”

Play. Since the incident that made him realize his crush on Nico almost two months ago, Will still can’t find himself enjoying, or even just liking, the sound of that word. It reminds him of both pleasant and need-to-be-forgotten memories, and honestly Will just wants to shut his brain down to not think anymore whenever those images come to his mind.

“I propose that we should go with classical ones,” their teacher continues, deliberately ignoring some groans and muttering noises from his students. “And I think Romeo and Juliet is a good choice.”

Collective groans echo the room, making it obvious that nobody likes the idea. Will doesn’t protest, but he thinks he doesn’t like that play either. He already watched it three times, with twice chances to reenact: one in his kindergarten – a watered down, light and heavily edited version of the play, and another chance was two years ago. At this rate, Romeo and Juliet is actually boring to him.

“That play is ancient, teacher!” Connor Stoll shouts out loud, and some students mumble in agreement with him. “Could we have some other choices?”

The teacher looks mildly offended at that, but he still continues his list. “Well, how about some plays with Greek theme? I suggest Electra, Agamemnon, or Medea.”

“Why all three of them are tragedies?” A girl questions, looking distressed. “I want a happy ending play, or at least a fun one!”

“You want fun?” The teacher scowls like he doesn’t understand why his students dislike some tragic plays of unfortunate heroes in ancient Greek. “Well, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is fun indeed, even though I personally think it’s absurd.”

Because indeed it is, Will thinks. He read that once and doesn’t like the idea so much. Plus that there’s only like, five characters in that play, right? And it’s not a play with fanciful ball gowns and extravagant suits either, so he doubts that his classmates would want to do it. Half of them have a penchant for being dramatic in those things after all.

Nico’s mood swings like a pendulum between optimistic and pessimistic since the teacher announced that they will do a play for this semester. It will be the mid-term test instead of taking a real test which requires self-studying only, so he has to participate if he still wants to keep his grades up.

The good side of that news is he’s in a new class, a new environment with new friends. Since they don’t know much about him, and based on their reactions toward him he thinks they will still act nice – at least nobody will force Nico to do anything he doesn’t want to (even though he guesses the rumors about three guys got beaten up by him makes them be cautious around him rather than actually like him enough to be that nice, but hey, it still has the same result, so it’s not that Nico’s complaining). That means he could choose to do what he truly wants to do, and it’s such a good thing that rarely happens in his life.

Yeah, it does sound suck when you don’t have the right to make decisions by all yourself, even if they are decisions about your own life.

But the bad side of this whole fiasco is Nico never wants to participate in any kind of group activity that involves dressing up, acting, and being touched by a lot of people he isn’t close to. That sounds too much for him to handle. Nico’s never good with crowds for once in his entire life. There was a time even a small group of some strangers can make him feel agitated, especially after that day.

No. Don’t go back to that. Things are going smoothly right now and Nico definitely doesn’t need to worsen his mood by himself and his damned brain. Stop now, Nico.

Shit. I might need to go get Jason at the mid-break. Talking with him can calm me down better than I do by my own right now.

Because Nico’s kinda busy dealing with his own mind right at that moment, everything goes with a blur afterward. Nico isn’t sure what’s really going on in his class and what’s the heated argument that’s happening about, but he doesn’t really care either. He will try to get himself a minor character to get enough participant points, and that’s the end of the story.

Now the only thing in his mind is Jason’s voice, and he tries to focus on imagining how the soothing effect of the blond’s familiar tone could calm him down before his brain automatically brings him back to those memories. Re-experiencing a past trauma was a common thing for him months after that accident, but things eventually get better. That doesn’t mean he has no more of them, but once in two or three months sounds way less stressful than twice in a night.

And Nico’s sure he couldn’t afford himself having a panic attack right in the middle of his class. Besides Jason, nobody should know about how unstable his emotional state is.

But apparently, his brain has another idea.

 

All he saw at that moment was Bianca’s smile.

Bright, gentle, caring, sweet, and every good adjective he could know of still aren’t enough to describe her smile. That was the most beautiful thing in this world, the most treasured thing in his world, and Nico swore he could do anything, everything to protect his sister’s angelic smile, to make sure nothing in this harsh world could hurt her pure heart.

But reality’s name is cruelty. Reality had its way to shatter his wish to broken pieces, to break his heart into thousand fragments of hurtful memories, to haunt his brain with nightmares that just make he never want to sleep anymore.

The next moment his eyes got clearer, her smile was tainted with crimson red. Her skin was pale with purple bruises were blossoming all over the paper-white canvas, cracks appeared made her look like a broken glass doll. Her hair was undone, the usual neat braid was unkempt, burnt and shortened uglily.

“Shh… don’t cry, mio fratello…”

Her voice, barely a whisper, tried to soothe him, to calm him down, but all Nico could feel were how scared she was, how weak she had become, how brave of her trying to protect him without caring about getting herself hurt, and how hopeless they were in this situation.

If only he was stronger…

If only they had targetted him and spared her…

“Mia sorella…”

Bianca, red-tainted smile and broken glass-doll eyes, still smiling at him like he was the most treasured thing in this world. “We’re fine, Nico. We’re fine. We will be fine.”

Her screams were soundless. Her body became lifeless.

And Nico remembered the feeling of crying his eyes out, seeing blood tears running down his cheeks in the blurred mirror in front of them; he, holding tightly on her soulless body, yelling her name all over, trying in vain to get a reaction from his dear sister…

And he could never forget their laughs, cruel and inhuman, merciless and sadistic, ringing in his ears, crawling in his brain; the source of all his dreams of bloody skies, hellish closed spaces, and the corpse of his sister was getting colder and colder in his arms.

Bianca… If only I had had enough strength to protect you…

 

Nobody seems to notice Nico’s strange condition except Will.

It’s not like the blond usually pay attention to the black-haired boy, or he sits in a suitable seat to conveniently look at him. It’s just for today’s discussion that they changed the tables and exchanged seats, so Will sits right next to Nico for once.

Couldn’t say he’s happy about being close to his crush, or sad because his crush actively ignores him.

But when the discussion moves on and is dangerously close to an argument, Will notices that Nico doesn’t pay any attention.

They don’t have to put their heads and their minds in every single word uttered in this discussion, but still… Nico’s face looks worrisome like he is trapped into another dimension, like his mind isn’t at the same place with his body right now.

Will isn’t sure he should do anything to Nico with this state, but doing nothing is worse. So, as brave as he could – all the memories of those times he got hit by Nico are still fresh in his mind – Will inhales deeply before putting a hand on Nico’s shoulder. “Hey, are you okay?”

Nico jolts at the touch like it burns his skin with a hot iron. His head snaps at Will, and for one moment the blond’s worried that his neck’s gonna break. For the next moment he things Nico’s going to hit him, but when their eyes meet, all the breaths are sucked out of Will’s lungs.

They are the most broken eyes Will’s ever seen in his life.

Hurt, disbelief, trauma, fear, dejected, denial… everything is right there, the rawest form of negative emotions are evident in Nico’s eyes. They look so lifeless, so hurtfully crestfallen that for a moment a sharp pain sprung in Will’s chest, and his mouth feels dry like he could actually taste the bitterness in those feelings.

Of course, Will’s speechless at that because he’s never dealt with anything like that in his life before. He has seen injured puppies, cautious kittens, and some other kids or adults got hurt before, but the emotional states weren’t that intense. Whatever things had hurt Nico must leave very deep scars, very traumatic ones for him to possess such a look like that.

For three seconds of heavy silence between them, Will’s hand is still on Nico’s shoulder, and their eyes are still locked. And then Nico blinks, and just for one second before he looks like he’s going to cry, but now his eyes are clouded, the windows to his soul are trying to close at the outside world.

“I’m alright.”

His voice was slightly shaken. He avoids Will’s eyes, his fingers are trembling, his lips are quivering. He’s definitely not okay at all.

“Are you sure? Do you need to take a break? You look quite sick, do you need to go to the infirmary? I could ask the teacher for you and come there with you,” Will gently offers. After seeing that expression on Nico’s face, he’s willing to do anything he could to make the other feel better. No matter the black-haired boy is his crush or not, a decent human being will surely act like him.

“No… I just need Jason,” Nico shakes his head weakly, his voice now is barely audible, and Will has to strain his ears to hear him out. “Jason knows.”

Will doesn’t know what Jason knows, but at least he knows that’s not the right time to ask. “It’s almost breaktime. Should I go get Jason for you?”

“There’s no need. I could find him by myself.”

The bell rings, and the entire class erupts into a boisterous cheer. Everybody likes breaktimes.

“Hey, let me help you for once,” Will smiles at Nico, who still looks distressed and anxious. “Just sit there and wait for one minute, okay?”

“… You don’t have to…”

“But I want to,” Will cuts him off, pushing his chair back to stand up. “Wait for me.”

Nico decides to not argue further. “If you insist. Thank you, Solace.”

The blond nods before sprinting off. If he remembers correctly, Jason has Art this morning and the Art Room isn’t too far away from his classroom today. Nico needs Jason and Will would spend the shortest time possible to get the other blond for the boy.

He thinks briefly that he should ask Jason what’s that about later.

End of chapter 14 - TBC.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: So we go with classics. Will might need to find some classical and elegant ways to commit suicide.

Just kidding. Will doesn’t need and doesn’t want to commit suicide. He still has a long life to live. But sometimes he’s so close to the feeling of an urgent need to disappear forever in a dream and refuse to wake up facing reality.

Just like this moment.

The reason? Because some idiotic classmates of him elected him as a co-writer with Nico (and the boy isn’t here to voice his opinion so it’s decided already). Before Will could ask what will they write about when the script hasn’t been decided yet, suddenly, a voice speaks up like Will’s saving grace. “Teacher, why don’t we trying to do something completely new? Like, a play with the script combined from some different stories? We can choose the main theme, like classical literature, or fairytales, or famous plays, etc., and then we pick the most prominent part of each one to put together?”

The whole class goes quiet at that bold suggestion. In retrospect, Will starts to think that idea isn’t like his saving grace, but more like a disastrous mix of caffeinated brain and severe lack of sleep. Or a doomsday harbinger.

Speaking about grace, where’s Jason and Nico now? The break was ended like ten minutes ago but Nico isn’t here so Will guesses the other blond isn’t back to his own class yet.

Will sighs heavily, a thought repeats in his mind endlessly. ‘This will be a longgg day…’

“The transfer students this semester are cute, don’t you think?” A blonde girl asks her friend while they’re waiting in line for a cup of coffee at the canteen.

“I don’t really pay attention to any of them,” the friend shrugs. She’s a pretty girl with brown hair braided with feathers, kaleidoscope eyes, and tanned skin. Gorgeous is a suitable adjective to describe her.

“Don’t lie straight to my face, McLean,” the blonde rolls her eyes. “You like blonds, don’t you? At least check the blond dude out. Speaking of that, he’s right there with his friend.”

Piper McLean looks at the direction her friend’s finger is pointing at. “They look more like lovers to me at this angle, to be honest.”

With Jason’s arm around Nico’s shoulders and their intertwined hands, Piper has her points.

“They’re not lovers, aren’t they?” The blonde isn’t quite sure with herself. “Anyway, nobody could deny a gorgeous beauty as you. Go and make new friends, Beauty Queen!”

“Don’t call me that,” Piper hums quietly, but an idea’s forming inside her head. If both of the boys won’t approach her just because of her famous father, she might give their friendship a try. It’s not hurt having new friends after all.

“So what are you waiting for anyway? Go and mingle, now!”

“It’s not a party, you know?” Piper scowls at her friend’s choice of words, but she takes her cup of decaf coffee and walks away nonetheless. It’s still break time, right?

 

When she’s significantly closer to Nico and Jason, Piper realizes this might not be the best time to approach them as a new friend.

But it seems like her cup of coffee has another idea. Or her stumbled foot, whichever the culprit is.

“Ah!” Jason jumps up in surprise when hot coffee spilled on his shirt. Nico’s lucky when he didn’t get any of that, but judging by his pained expression he might wish that it was him rather than Jason.

“Oh my god, I’m sorry!! I’m sorry!” Piper almost yelled when she stands up and looks at the mess on the blond’s shirt. “Do you need some tissues? Take mine!”

The raven-haired boy nods at her and takes her box of tissue, quickly helping his friend to clean his shirt. But the damage’s done, and even though Jason doesn’t get any burn, his shirt’s ruined.

“I’m sorry!” Piper curses under her breath, still apologizing quite frantically. What a great way to start a conversation, McLean.

“It’s alright, you could stop saying that already,” Jason smiles gently at the girl, before looking down and scowling at his shirt. “I got another spare one in my locker, so it’s fine. Just need to take this to the laundry and hope that those stains aren’t permanent.”

“Let me do it,” Piper offers before she could stop herself, and when both the boys scrutinize her quite judgingly, the girl feels her face heat up. “Not, not like that! I just… my house has a laundry room and I could get it done as soon as possible! And that’s my fault to so please let me do something to apologize!”

Oh. Realization dawns on the boys’ faces, and when Piper feels the need to fan herself to stop the reddening effect on her face, the blond laughs. “There’s no need for that, really. I could do it myself, but thanks for the suggestion. And you lost your coffee already, so that’s quite fair.”

What a sweet boy. Piper could imagine what kind of good friend he could be, and she allows herself to have a tiny smile at that. “Well, if you say so. I’m truly sorry for your inconvenience, though.”

“Take a walk to my locker with me, would you?” The blond turns his head at his raven-haired friend with a gentle smile, before turning back to the girl. “Uhm, we need to leave now, but it’s nice to meet you. The name’s Jason Grace. And this is my friend, Nico di Angelo.”

“Oh, nice to meet you too,” the Cherokee girl grins. “My name is Piper McLean. Just call me Piper is fine.”

Both Jason and Nico’s eyes widen slightly at that, but before she could read it as any sign of recognization, the black-haired boy shrugs and stands up. “So, Piper, it’s quite a unique way to get to know you. Now excuse us, but we need to go get Jason a new shirt. See you around, Piper.”

That doesn’t sound like they know her famous father, right? “Yeah, see you around, Nico, Jason.”

 

“So we didn’t need to find her. She found us,” Nico grins at his best friend during their walk to his locker.

Jason shrugs. “Accidentally.”

“Still count. So what are you planning to do with that?”

“It’s not like that’s the only time we see her, right? I would take my time and let things flow naturally,” Jason thinks for a second before replying. They’re at his locker now and he doesn’t waste much time finding his spare shirt. “Did the bell ring already? Do you need to go back to your class?”

“And you don’t need to?” Nico smirks. “We could be late together, Jace. It’s not that important anyway. And I like talking to you. It calms me down.”

Jason tugs at his collar, walking to the male WC. “Aww, that’s so sweet of you, Neeks.”

“But sometimes it triggers my temper pretty quick, though.”

The blond chuckles before disappearing after a door. “Don’t hurt me that easily, di Angelo.”

“Always at your service, Grace.”

After that, they agreed to ignore their class for like twenty minutes more before they slowly come back. Nico doesn’t feel guilty at all, and Jason shares the feeling with him.

Nico doesn’t know who was the first one of his classmates came up with the exotic (read: terribly strange) idea to write a script based on some popular fairytales for their class to reenact. Not that he really cares either, if only they didn’t ask him to be one of the writers.

… Screw his good grades in Literature.

And as if it’s not bad enough, when the teacher asks the class about some suggestions, they shout out loud names like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Three Musketeers (since when it’s a fairytale?), The Bremen Town Musicians, Jack and the Magic Bean, et cetera. When the third or fourth name was put up for discussion, Nico’s sleepy enough to put his head on the table and decides to not care about what’s going on anymore.

And ladies and gentlemen, that’s how Nico wakes up 30 minutes later to find out that his name isn’t only in the script-writers list, but also on the main actors list too. Since he didn’t protest when he got elected (he was sleeping, remember?), now his only chance to save his sorry ass is making a script as decent as possible and trying to get a minor character for himself with the fewest lines that he can manage.

Nico isn’t sure he could still like his Literature class as much as he is now after this whole fiasco is over.

“Your class’s project sounds cool!” Jason comments when he meets Nico for lunch. Today they both decided to get a meal from the cafeteria so they didn’t bring anything homemade as usual.

Nico grimaces at his best friend’s excited voice. “That’s because you’re not a victim of this disaster. Trust me, things aren’t as fun as it sounds.”

“As long as I could see you in costume and acting on the stage, it’s fun.”

“When did you sell your soul to the devil, Grace?” Nico asks dryly. “I didn’t know you’re that cheap and easy to convince.”

“Since the moment I figured that the devil’s you?” Jason shrugs with a mischievous grin dancing on his lips. “And hey, I’m your best friend. We talked about evaluating our prices before. I’m not cheap.”

“Still, easy to tame,” Nico shakes his head. “I could buy you like hundred times already with my food. Calling it ‘economical’ doesn’t fit.”

“Because your food is the best, especially the Italian ones,” Jason laughs. “Speaking of that, today’s menu has pasta and meatballs. Wanna try?”

“I’ll pass, thanks,” Nico glances at the unsavory color of plain pasta with the unnatural bright red shade of the sauce and quickly makes his decision. “The tomato sauce looks like an insult to my Italian heritage.”

“Harsh words, Neeks.”

“The truth is always harsh,” the raven-haired boy shrugs before smiling at the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. “Oh, hi, McLean.”

“Told you, just call me Piper is fine,” the girl purses her lips a little bit before smiling brightly. “You changed already, Jason?”

“Okay, Piper,” Nico nods. “Oh, and yeah, he changed. Still refusing to let me or anyone else clean his shirt for him. A noble idiot as usual.”

“Hey!” Jason complains, making a hit to Nico’s ribs by his elbow. “Don’t be so mean.”

“Any vegetable dishes here?” Piper asks while tip-toeing to see the menu. Jason and Nico politely step aside to give her a better look. “The salad doesn’t look too bad, I guess I will take one.”

“Are you a vegetarian?” Jason questions when he notices the lack of meat on Piper’s tray. There are an apple and a bottle of Greek yogurt here, and when you add a salad to the mix, it’s still meat-free.

“Yup,” the girl nods simply, taking the bowl of salad. “I changed my appetite when my dad drove pass a slaughter one day. The smell made me feel nauseated and I couldn’t look at any meat normally again. But that’s my choice, so don’t feel bad for me, I’m fine.”

“Alright,” Jason shrugs when he takes a grilled sausage. “Still, you miss out so many delicious dishes. Nico knows a lot of mouth-watering recipes that relate to pork, beef or chicken.”

“You can cook?” Piper looks at the raven-haired boy, seeming mildly surprised.

“I can,” Nico nods at her. “And I know some vegetarian dishes, too. If you don’t mind, you can come over Jason’s place one day and I’ll try.”

“That sounds awesome!” Piper grins excitedly. “But why Jason’s place?”

“Yeah, why it’s my place?” The blond has the same question.

“Because I feel like it,” the smaller boy answers like that’s the most obvious reply. “Besides, you brought up the vegetarian thing. Take some responsibilities.”

“I gave up on arguing with your logic a long time ago,” Jason rolls his eyes while Piper laughs at their conversation. “You might not want to have the same job as your father, but you definitely inherit his scary logical mind.”

“Now I wonder why didn’t you take some of your father’s predatory instincts,” Nico gives his best friend a half-hearted glare. “You know next to nothing about economics, Jace.”

“Because I’ve never planned on taking his path?” Jason doesn’t waver at all, they have conversations like this all the time. “I don’t want to be busy all day and couldn’t spend time being with my favorite people in this world.”

“I highly doubt that he thinks his family members are ‘favorite people’ in his list,” Nico sighs. “Sorry, Jace.”

“Nah, I’m used to that fact a long time ago,” Jason shrugs nonchalantly. “Speaking of that, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your father’s career, Piper?”

The girl looks quite conflicted with herself for a moment before she smiles, “He… uhm, he works in the entertainment industry. Nothing special, really.”

“Sounds cool,” Jason comments earnestly. “Well, in my opinion, any parents that can spend time with their children and doesn’t use ‘I’m too busy’ as an excuse to avoid their kids is cool after all.”

“My dad has a lot of work and he usually comes home exhausted, but he still makes sure to have family time with me at least twice a week, so I guess he passes your criteria for being a cool parent,” Piper seems thoughtfully for a moment, walking to a table with her tray full of vegetable and fruit, the only exception is a bottle of yogurt. “Hey, do you mind me sitting with you guys today?”

“I don’t mind at all,” Jason laughs. “We’re new kids here. But would your friends be upset that you don’t sit with them?”

“They will be fine,” Piper puts her tray down to the table, waving a hand dismissively. “Besides, all we do at lunch is gossiping about people and stuff. I get tired of that already.”

“Understood,” Nico nods when he sits down next to Jason, across Piper’s seat. “But uhm, I’m not a good conversationalist, so you guys will need to handle the talking, is it okay?”

“Judging by how you exchange stories and jokes with Jason, I guess you’re just like that with people you’re not familiar with or close to,” Piper actually has a keen observation ability. “And it’s fine with me. I couldn’t make you feel at ease in an instant and I respect that.”

“Thank you for your understanding,” Nico nods at her with a small smile, starting to unpack his yogurt. That looks good on Piper’s tray so he decided to take one today, it mixes well with fruit.

“Besides, I already got an invitation to try your vegetarian food one day when you’re free so that a win-win situation for me,” the girl grins cheerfully when she winks at the blond. “Would you mind telling me your address and phone number, Jason?”

“Sure, but Nico will arrange the date, and you should add his number to your contact book too,” Jason shrugs when he tells Piper the information she needs. She sends a message, but before Jason could take out his phone and reply, her phone makes a ‘ding’ noise.

“Urg, my classmates just debated about what should we do for this year’s school festival and in my small group that includes the class representative, they want to have a musical. Or a fashion show. Both are nothing but a pain in the arse.”

“The school’s festival?” Nico notices those words in her complaints. His old school has no festival at all and judging by how strict it is because of being a military school, he isn’t surprised by that fact.

“You don’t know?” Piper looks quite perplexed for a moment. “I think every school has that, like weeks of preparation and a day for students to compete in the race that which class can pull out the most extravagant stuff to impress their teachers that day?”

“Not in my old school, apparently.”

“You missed out all the fun,” the girl pouts jokingly, popping a grape in her mouth. “Let me educate you guys for a while, you couldn’t just waltz into a school festival with little to nothing knowledge about how it works.”

Both Nico and Jason has a pretty fun lunch afterward, and they find out Piper’s really a good story-teller.

End of chapter 15 – TBC.