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I'm in Hell, I've Got to Tell Somebody Now

Chapter Text

With a new job lined up at a hospital in New York, Will couldn’t expect his mother to watch Bianca while he was at work anymore, seeing as she would remain in Nashville when he moved. Will would have to get something arranged, fast.

It had taken Will and Bianca four days to really settle into their new home just across the bridge from Manhattan; a two bed, one bath with a great backyard and an office Will planned on converting into a guest room. It was that same day that he’d finally gotten a response to the ad he’d placed, searching for a caretaker for Bianca, his six-year-old daughter who he’d enrolled in the nearest public school the day before.

Will made a call to the applicant after looking over his resume thoroughly, and invited him over to discuss the job further. They arranged to meet just after lunch the next day at Will’s home.

Will spent his time that day cleaning, always shooting for looking presentable to company, even if they were applying for a job, and even if Will was still wearing the scrubs he’d worn to work that morning (he’d had to take Bianca with him, but thankfully there was a daycare, even if it was meant for younger children).

Will had just finished up the dishes from his and Bianca’s lunch when the doorbell rang. Quickly, Will checked to make sure Bianca was in her room for the time being before he answered the door.

In front of him was honestly the opposite of what he’d expected. Frankly, Will had expected all of the information on the application to be a lie and have a fifty-five year old sex offender show up at his door, but if Will had to guess, he’d say that the pale, dark haired man in front of him was in fact the twenty-two-year-old college student that had applied for the job. He was wearing nice clothes, expensive looking but at the same time not something one would generally wear to a job interview, and not something of Will’s style - a little too dark for his taste. He was also significantly shorter than Will, maybe by a head, and when his eyes reached up to meet Will’s - darker eyes than Will had ever seen, he didn’t know irises could look like pure shadow - Will froze. He could get lost in those eyes. And really, that should be Will’s first clue not to hire this guy. Never hire someone you’re attracted to! It will only end in pain!

But Will wasn’t listening to that side of himself.

“Will Solace?” the man asked, and Will even loved his voice.

He definitely wasn’t listening to that side of himself.

“Yes!” Will said, probably too loud, but at least he wasn’t just staring anymore. “Hi, yeah, I’m Will, come on in.”

 

Nico hadn’t been too sure of this when he’d applied, to be completely honest. It wasn’t like he needed the money, and he didn’t really have a knack for caretaking or anything like that. Truthfully, he was hoping that if he did get the job, he’d get some inspiration out of whatever kid he was looking after. Sure, Nico could think up some amazing stories on his own, but the things that come out of his mind weren’t always the greatest for children’s books.

So when he knocked on the door and it wasn’t opened immediately, Nico had considered running off before the door opened. What was he doing here? He didn’t know what he was doing! Just because he’d babysat for Percy and Annabeth like, twice, didn’t mean he knew how to take care of a kid full time!

Then the door had swung open so fast it startled him, and Nico was met with someone that definitely wasn’t the child he would be caring for. This was Tall, Tan, Blond, Freckles, and The Bluest Eyes he’d had ever seen. Nico didn’t know you could actually capture a cloudless sky and put it in someone’s irises, but clearly it had happened, if this guy was anything to go by.

That’s probably about when Nico realized he was staring, and it’s definitely when he realized Freckles was staring back at him. This would be a good time to remember the name attached to the emails.

Chapter Text

Nico could’ve taken the interview a little more seriously.

When Freckles-- Will asked if he could cook, Nico had responded with, “I’m Italian,” and a little bit of a smirk. Not exactly a real answer, and though Nico was in fact an amazing cook, he figured this guy really just needed somebody that could make Mac and Cheese without burning the house down.

His daughter was most likely going to need help with her homework almost every night, because she had ADHD and dyslexia (small world), and to be fair, Will claimed he was incapable of doing much other than medicine, so even when he was around he could never be of much help. So now on top of Nico’s college papers, he also got to do the most basic arithmetic and sentence structure that somehow a doctor couldn’t figure out.

He’d also wanted to get to know Nico more as a person before he hired him, which was not something most people wanted to do with Nico. Nobody tended to look at him and say, “Hey, that’s a guy I want to be friends with. I’m gonna go say hi!” So Will started asking Nico about college and his major and what Nico liked to do in his free time, and frankly, some of that was none of Will’s business, but Nico did his best to answer anyway. “I’m enrolled in online classes.”

“Oh! So I won’t have to worry about the possibility of you having to miss class then?”

Why would you have to worry? You already got your degree.

The interview, in total, lasted about a half an hour, including a (very) thorough explanation of all of Will’s expectations for the job. Basically, there should be no reason for hospital visits (he made a joke about knowing that they’d be there, get it, ‘cause I'm a doctor?), the kid should be fed when she was hungry, Nico might have to take her to school, pick her up from school, make sure she goes to bed on time.

“So, I think this has gone pretty well?” Will said, and Nico thought, really, ‘cause you don’t sound too sure of yourself.  “If you think you’re up for the job, would you like to meet her?”

Nico nodded and the two of them rose, heading towards the living room as Will called out, “Bianca? Can you come out here please?”

 

Will definitely noticed the other man pause when Will said his daughter’s name. And there was definitely a softening to his expression.

Will asked, “Everything alright?”

Nico nodded, but didn’t say anything. Didn’t look at Will. Just watched the door on the other side of the living room.

When Bianca came out of her room, she walked right up to them, greeting Nico with a toothy grin and a rather loud, “Hi!”

On the outside, Bianca looked almost nothing like Will, with her almost-straight brown hair and her dark green eyes. The only thing they shared were the freckles, but on the inside, their personalities were much the same.

Will started, “Bianca, this is Mr. di Angelo--” he was pretty sure he saw Nico flinch out of the corner of his eye “--and he might be watching you when I’m at work, okay?”

Bianca looked up at Nico. “Mr. Dag-- I can’t say that.”

Nico crouched down at held out a hand for her to shake. “Bianca? That’s a very pretty name. You can call me Nico.”

Bianca’s smile grew, and Will thought he even noticed Nico smiling a little bit, and for the first time wondered how hard it would be to get Nico to smile at him like that.

Nico straightened back up, and Will was sad to see that the smile had gone. “When do you want me to start?”

Chapter Text

When Nico entered the Solace household the next day, Bianca was sitting at the table with a pencil in her hand, most likely doing homework, if Nico had to guess, and Will looked like he was everywhere at once.

Will seemed to be wearing the same scrubs as yesterday, but Nico figured he probably just had fifteen sets of the same color because the hospital required it or something.

Nico set his backpack down on one of the chairs in the kitchen, close enough that he could see from where he was standing that Bianca was having trouble with her math homework. He was also close enough to the island on his other side to see four different sheets of printer paper taped down to the counter. One he saw said Bianca’s Allergies, which was actually a very good thing to have, unlike...was that printed out directions on how to make Kraft Mac and Cheese? Weren’t the directions on the box?

After at least five minutes, Will finally noticed his presence. “Nico! Good, you’re here. I gotta run, but I left you some instructions on the counter there, and Bi probably needs help with her homework. I should be home by eight, but if I’m not, that’s Bi’s bedtime, make sure she brushes her teeth.”

He rushed over to where Bianca was sitting and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Bye, Bi, I love you.”

“Love you too, Daddy,” she said, still glaring down at the paper in front of her.

Will turned to Nico. “Think you can handle everything? I sure hope you can, because I really do have to run.”

“I think we’ll be fine.”

Will smiled at him before turning toward the door. He looked like he was just about to leave when he stopped and ran over to the island, picking up a pen and scribbling something on one of the pages, Emergency Contacts, which listed: 911 - because apparently Will thought Nico was some kind of idiot - the hospital Will worked at, the number for poison control, and now Will’s cell number, messily scrawled at the bottom, which would have been very useful to have except that--

“You know I already have your number programed into my phone?”

“Can never be too safe! Bye!” And Will was gone.

Nico sat next to Bianca, trying to help her through her math homework, but clearly Will was right about the dyslexia. Bianca couldn’t tell a one from a seven or a six from a nine. Nico promised her that if they finished the front of the page before lunchtime, they could take a break, eat, and then go outside for a little while before finishing the rest.

Bianca thought it was a great idea.

 

When Will arrived home, about half an hour after dinner time - not that he’d gotten to eat dinner, of course, not with the shift he'd just had - Nico and Bianca were not at the table, eating or doing homework.

Will found them in the living room, Nico lying flat on his back and Bianca sitting on the edge of the coffee table, her feet hovering barely an inch off the ground. Bianca was making some interesting noises - casting magic spells, if Will had to guess - and Nico was pretending to be hurt with every string of noise.

Will cleared his throat and both Nico and Bianca looked in his direction, Bianca jumping off the table and running to her father, and Nico gracefully pulling himself off the ground and straightening his clothes.

Bianca jumped into Will’s arms for a hug, and Nico waited until she was released before saying his goodbye for the night.

“Well, Princess,” he said, crouching down to be at eye level, “looks like the rest of that battle’s gonna have to wait for another day. I’ll see you around.”

“Bye, Ghost King!” she said as she jumped closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck in a hug.

He returned the hug before standing to leave. “Bye, Solace,” he said as he passed Will, picking up his backpack on his way toward the front door.

“Bye, Nico.”

Chapter Text

It had been a few weeks when Will had called Nico in the middle of dinner. While Will was at work, Nico and Bianca were having mostaccioli for dinner, and frankly, Bianca was making a mess of herself with the pasta sauce.

Nico excused himself from the table, even though his only company was a six year old - it would be rude not to. As soon as he answered the phone, Will was apologizing.

“I’m so sorry,” he started, hurriedly, “I was hoping to have the guest room finished before something like this happened, but a huge trauma just came in and it looks like I’ll be here far past Bianca’s bedtime.” Of course this was bound to happen soon. Will worked in the ER, after all. “I’m so sorry, but I need you to stay over tonight, and you’ll have to sleep on the couch. Bianca should know where everything is, so she can get you a pillow, blankets, whatever you need. Again, Nico, I’m so--"

“It’s fine, Solace,” Nico cut in, not wanting to hear another apology when he didn’t ask for one. “I’m pretty sure this was in the job description. We’re just finishing up dinner, homework’s done, I’m sure I can get her to bed no problem. Don’t worry about us, you’ve got a job to do. Go...fix people.”

“Thank you, Nico,” Will kept blubbering, “thank you so much!"

“Yeah, you’re paying me for this, remember,” Nico said. “Bye, Solace.”

“Bye--” Nico hung up.

He went back over to the table where Bianca had just finished up her serving of pasta. “Princess, I’ve got some bad news.”

“Is Daddy not coming home tonight?” she asked, and Nico could already see the sad eyes forming.

“No, he’s not, but he should be here when you wake up, and this just means that I get to stay here longer.”

“But he won’t be here to say goodnight,” Bianca whined, and tears were starting to prick at the corners of her eyes.

Nico rushed to try to calm her down. “What if I tell you a bedtime story? I know it’s not as good as a kiss goodnight, but your dad will be home to wish you a goodnight just a little late.”

“Do you tell good bedtime stories?”

“The best stories there are,” Nico said with a smile.

 

As Nico was tucking Bianca into bed that night, she pulled him down to sit on the edge of the mattress, chanting, “Story time! Story time!” until Nico relented, which didn’t take long. After all, he’d basically promised.

The two of them sat with their backs propped up against the headboard as Nico thought up a worthy story for the night.

“Have I told you that I have a sister?” Nico asked. Bianca shook her head. “Well, I used to have two sisters, but can you guess what my older sister’s name was?” Bianca shook her head again. Nico tapped her on the tip of her nose. “Bianca. She had hair just like yours and eyes just as dark as mine. She always wore this big green hat that fell in her face a lot. Now, before I tell you the story, you have to promise not to tell anyone else, okay?”

Bianca nodded. “I promise,” and then asked, “Is this story about Bianca?”

“Yes it is,” Nico answered, and jumped into the tale. “When I was maybe fifteen, I watched Bianca do magic for the first time.” Bianca’s eyes grew wide. “She had this bow that she said she found in the woods on the night of the full moon. She said that she could pull the string and an arrow of moonlight would appear right as she let the string go, and the arrow could go right through a tree. Bianca took me into the woods with her during the next full moon to show me, but it wasn’t working right. She said that it must not work when boys are around, so I huffed and I turned around to walk back out of the woods. When I had taken a few steps, I heard an arrow fly right past my ear and get stuck in the tree in front of me. It looked like it was made of pure silver so I ran over to get a closer look at it, but when I tried to grab the arrow, it melted away back into the moonlight.

“I told Bianca that it wasn’t fair that girls got all the cool stuff, like the magic moon bow and arrows, and that it was too cold to be outside anyway, so I started to leave the woods again, because I was a very grumpy teenager. I only looked back at her once. She was still happily shooting off the magic arrows, but it looked to me like she might be melting away into the moonlight like the arrows did.

“When I got back to my house, I got myself nice and warm, made myself some hot chocolate, and looked back outside towards the woods. I didn’t see Bianca yet, but when I looked up at the moon - you know how you can see the man in the moon?”

Bianca nodded.

“Well instead of his face, I saw Bianca’s, just for a second, and then it was gone.”

“The moon ate your sister?” Bianca asked, disbelieving.

“No, the moon gave my sister a present, and Bianca was so thankful for it that the moon let her live with him among the stars.”

“When was it? Do you think the moon will give me a magic bow?”

“We’ll see. And it was December nineteenth, seven years ago.”

“Your sister’s been living with the moon for seven years?”

“Yep.”

“Do you think the moon would do a trade?”

Nico laughed. “You mean give my sister back and take you instead?” Bianca nodded. “I don’t think so, but you can give it a try. I kinda miss my sister, it’d be nice to see her again.”

“Don’t worry, Ghost King,” Bianca cut herself off with a big yawn. “I’ll get the moon to give Bianca back. I wanna meet her now so she can tell me what it’s like on the moon before I go.”

“Alright, just worry about sleeping for now, Princess,” Nico said. “The moon can wait another day. Sweet dreams.”

He stood up and tucked Bianca into her blanket, making sure she was settled before turning off the light and shutting the door behind himself.

Sure, Bianca thought that story was good, but he doubted his professors would be amazed by it. He would have to try a little harder for class.

 

Will returned home around three thirty in the morning, practically dead on his feet. He was ready to collapse, but the sight on his couch was enough to keep him awake a few seconds longer.

He’d forgotten Nico was there, honestly, and was surprised to see him asleep on the couch, illuminated faintly by the light glow of his laptop screen as it rest on his lap, his fingers still on the keys. He’d put a pillow against the arm of the couch, but the blanket was still folded up by his feet.

Will approached him, carefully sliding the laptop from underneath his fingers, shutting it and placing it on the coffee table nearby the couch. It was then that Will got a close enough look at Nico to notice the thick black frames of reading glasses sitting askew on his nose. If possible, with his sleep-soft face and his big glasses, Nico looked more adorable to Will now than he had before.

Instead of risking waking Nico up by taking the glasses off his face, Will reached for the blanket at the other end of the couch, draping it over the sleeping figure, before hurrying away.

Will went to Bianca’s room, lightly placing a kiss on her forehead, both in greeting and goodnight, and left the room silently. He couldn’t help but glance back at Nico, who had curled into the blanket, before rushing to his own room.

Will collapsed on top of the sheets, still in his dirty scrubs, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. At least he’d taken his shoes off.

Chapter Text

Nico woke up when he was laying on his stomach, face smushed into a pillow and one hand brushing the ground that was definitely not the hardwood floor of his bedroom. He opened his eyes and registered the smell of coffee before visually noticing his surroundings.

He kind of fell off the couch when he got up, but pretended he didn’t, even though there was no one around as far as he could tell. He followed the smell of coffee into the kitchen to see Will - messy blond curls, tired blue eyes, wrinkled scrubs that were probably left over from the night before - leaning against the counter with a mug in his hands.

When Will saw him, he smiled in greeting and offered up the mug sitting next to him. As Nico gratefully sipped at the liquid caffeine, he vaguely listened as Will told him that he’d taken Bianca to school that morning, and she had apparently been ecstatic to see that Nico had hung around until morning. She wasn’t happy that he’d still been asleep when she left, but Nico was thankful for the extra time to rest.

Nico, still too tired to properly filter his words, mumbled into his coffee, “I’ll have to stay over more often, then.”

He didn’t hear Will almost choke on his coffee, or see him hide a blush behind his mug, having been too focused on draining the last few drops of his own drink.

As Nico readied himself another cup, he listened to Will talk aimlessly. He didn’t really listen to what was being said, exactly, and he felt a little guilty about it, but he was starting to notice that Will liked to talk a lot in the morning. Or maybe that was always. Either way, Nico definitely didn’t mind listening to his voice.

Nico did notice, however, that Will’s voice was far too happy for someone that had gotten maybe four hours of sleep and only half a cup of coffee, and Nico may have accidentally called Will a ray of sunshine as a joke.

Will, though, just happened to smile and reply, “And you’re practically the walking dead this morning, I guess Ghost King is a more accurate name than I thought.”

 

Later that night, when Nico was home finishing the paper he’d started the night before, Will and Bianca were enjoying Will’s night off, sitting together on the couch and watching a movie.

“Did you have a good time with Nico last night?” Will asked.

Bianca grinned. “Yeah! He told me a bedtime story about his sister! Her name was Bianca too, and she had magic powers that the moon gave her and then she went to go live on the moon! And Nico said that the moon might give me magic powers and--” Bianca stopped, a look of surprise on her face.

“And?” Will prompted.

Bianca covered her cheeks with her hands. “I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone the story! Nico made me promise! Now what if the moon won’t give me magic powers? I promised Nico that when the moon gave me magic, I would make him do a trade, and I could go live on the moon and Nico could get to see his sister again!”

“Bi, I’m sure the moon won’t mind one broken promise,” Will said. “As long as you don’t tell anyone else the story, maybe you’ll still get your magic powers.”

“You think so?” Bianca asked, and her dad nodded. She was quiet for a little while before she mumbled, “Nico misses his sister. Seven years is a really long time, so I gotta get the magic so he can see her again.”

Will observed the look of determination in Bianca’s eyes, and wondered if there had been any truth behind Nico’s bedtime story, if there really had been a sister he was missing.

Chapter Text

Nico woke up in a room that wasn’t his own, in a bed that wasn’t his own. It wasn’t the guest room at Reyna's house, and it wasn’t anyone’s couch. His tired mind said, “It must be Will’s room.” He didn’t remember ever being in Will’s room, so he didn’t know how he got there now, but that’s where he decided he must be.

He heard the sound of sheets rustling, and then there was a weight on his chest and freckled arms bracketing him in, and Will’s face inches from his own, smiling brightly down at him.

“Good morning,” Will whispered.

“Good morning, Sunshine,” Nico replied, and Will’s smile grew impossibly brighter.

Will tilted his head, moving down to press a kiss to the corner of Nico’s jaw. Nico gasped, and Will breathed into his ear, “I love it when you call me Sunshine.”

“Yeah?” Nico answered weakly.

Will met his gaze. “Yeah.” He started peppering Nico’s face with kisses, along his jaw, across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose, carefully avoiding Nico’s lips. He was muttering things between kisses, things that Nico only heard every so often, things like, “I love your eyes,” and “I love your beautiful smile,” and naming every other thing about Nico that he loved.

“Sunshine,” Nico breathed, and he was laughing, giggling, and he didn’t know why, and Will kept pressing kisses all over his face, stopped only when he rested his forehead against Nico’s.

“I love you," he said, blue eyes stopping Nico’s heart in his chest, and Nico wanted to kiss Will everywhere, wanted to return the favor and make him breathless, just like Will had done to Nico.

And his phone rang.

And Nico woke up.

And Nico was back in his own room, in his own bed, and Will was in his own house fifteen minutes away.

Nico was breathing heavy, eyes wide as he tried to process the dream he’d just had. He could feel his face heating up, and his phone was still ringing.

He picked it up.

“Hello?” he croaked.

“How is it that you’re always sleeping, no matter what time of day it is that I call you?” Will asked through the phone, and Nico could hear his smile.

“I, um,” Nico couldn’t find the words, could only imagine what Will looked like when he was smiling as brightly as he had in Nico’s dream.

“Do you think you could come over in about an hour?” Will asked. “One of the trauma doctors called in sick and they need me to cover for them.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” Nico barely managed to say.

“Great! I’ll see you soon!” And Will hung up.

Nico set the phone down, pushing himself out of bed and rubbing furiously at his cheeks, as if to rub the red out of his skin. He stood, left the room, and made his way to the living room where Hazel was lounging on the couch.

Hazel grinned when she saw him. “Ooh, what’s got you all blushy?”

Nico collapsed onto the couch, resting his head in her lap and covering his face with his hands. He muttered something that Hazel couldn’t hear.

“You’re gonna have to speak up, Neeks.”

Hands still covering his face, Nico shouted, “I have a crush on my boss!”

Chapter Text

Bianca had caught something from one of the kids in her class, something that kept her out of school for a couple of days, but nothing super bad. It was bad enough for Will to insist that Nico not come by for a few days, just for his health and safety, and so Will had ended up taking the days off instead.

This, of course, led to Will catching Bianca’s cold.

He was miserable.  He couldn’t remember the last time he was sick, because it was just so long ago, but he was always cold and shivery and he couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t stop coughing.

And then Nico had called him one time (Will was pretty sure that was the first time that had happened - it was always the other way around, Will calling Nico - but honestly right now, Will had a hard time remembering a time when he felt human).

So Nico had called, and Will didn’t even look at the caller ID before answering with what was probably the most pathetic noise he had ever made.

“Will?” Nico asked, not sure if that noise had been some kind of greeting or not. “Are you okay?”

“‘m fine,” Will answered through his stuffy nose, pulling his blanket tighter around him. “Never been better. How ‘bout you?”

“You sound terrible,” Nico said bluntly. “Are you sick? Do you want me to come over?”

“No! No, no, no,” Will repeated. “You stay away, you don’t need to catch whatever this is. Everything’s fine over here. Super fine. Perfect.”

The other end of the line was silent for a moment, long enough that Will thought that Nico might’ve hung up, until his voice came through: “Alright, sure. I’ll leave you alone.” Then he actually hung up.

Will pulled the phone away from his face, checking the time. Four hours until he had to pick Bianca up from school. Surely, if he fell asleep now, he’d wake up before he had to leave, right?”

So he snuggled back into his pillows, pulled the blanket up to his nose, and fell asleep almost instantly.

 

There was noise coming from outside his room when he woke up. Nothing loud (though his head was so stuffed up that it might’ve been loud and just didn’t sound so to him), just talking. Normally, Will would’ve ignored this, but then he remembered that there shouldn’t have been anyone there besides him, and he sat up quickly.

Too quickly.

His head started spinning and he thought he was going to be sick.

Well. More sick. Whatever.

Will took his time planting his feet on the floor and slowly rising out of bed, carefully heading out into the rest of his house. He prayed as he went that whoever was there wasn’t going to attack him, because Will was pretty sure that a strong breeze would knock him over at this point.

He kept a hand on the wall to steady him as he went, slowly entering the living room and seeing a light on in the kitchen. How late was it?

The talking was coming from the kitchen, so he kept shuffling along in that direction. As soon as he came around the corner, he saw his daughter sitting at the table with her homework, and a familiar head of black hair near the stove. He was sure that if he could smell, he would be able to tell that there was something delicious cooking.

Will tried to remain quiet when he came into the room, but just as his bare foot touched the tiled floor, he started coughing. He leaned further against the wall, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. Both heads in the room turned in his direction.

There were hands on his arms, suddenly, leading him back into the living room. He was sat down on the couch, instructed to lay down, and then there was a blanket covering him. When he could breathe again, Will squinted up to see Nico standing over him, gently pressing a palm to his forehead.

Will thought he felt Nico smoothing his hair back a little bit before he pulled his hand away, but Will had probably imagined that. “You’re an idiot,” Nico told him, and then he was gone.

Will blinked a couple of times, looked around a bit to see where he’d disappeared to, and started to sit up again, when he heard a shout of, “Stay there. Five minutes.”

He pouted. What was this, some kind of time out? Will settled himself back against the arm of the couch, pulling the blanket tighter around himself, and almost started to drift off to sleep again, but then Nico was back with a steaming bowl in his hands.

“Sit up,” he said, and Will moved, feet still up on the cushions, but now sitting up enough that he could accept the bowl of soup without risking spilling it all over himself.

“You made me soup?” Will asked, and Nico sat down on the edge of the coffee table.

“It’s not all for you,” Nico answered, though Will thought he could detect a trace of a smile. “Bianca’s still got a little bit of a cold, and I also have to eat, but yeah, I made soup.”

“Thank you,” Will told him, keeping his eyes on Nico.

The other glanced away quickly. “Yeah, well, you’re just lucky I called, or else Bianca would never have gotten picked up from school.”

Will’s eyes widened. “I was supposed to do that, wasn’t I? I slept through it.”

“But it’s fine. I handled it.”

“But how did you know I wouldn’t be there?”

Nico looked down at his hands and started picking at his nails. “I came by after I called you, and you were asleep so I started cooking - it takes a long time to make soup, you know - and then when you weren’t awake by three-thirty, I went to the school.” He shrugged at the end.

“Thank you, Nico,” Will said. “You didn’t have to do all this.”

Nico gave him a confused look. “Well, actually I kind of did. Anyway,” he stood up from the coffee table, “do you need anything else?”

Will thought for a second. “A pillow?” he asked. “And a glass of water?”

“No problem,” Nico told him, and before he turned away, Will was certain that he saw the tiniest smile.

When Nico returned, he helped Will get situated with a pillow now behind his back, and pushed the coffee table closer to the couch so that Will had somewhere to set his glass of water. After he finished this, Nico stood up straight, hands on his hips, and said, “After you finish eating, you’re going to rest. Don’t worry about Bianca, I’ll take care of her.”

Will opened his mouth to protest, but Nico stared him down and spoke before he could: “Doctor’s orders.”

Will’s mouth snapped shut and he felt his cheeks heating up, though he wasn’t sure if that was from the soup or from Nico (it wasn’t the soup). He stared up at Nico for a moment, blinking a few times before he nodded and went back to eating.

Chapter Text

About a month after Nico's first sleepover at the Solace Household, there was the vaguest idea of a system worked out between Will and Nico. If Will needed him, he would call Nico, waking him up from a nap every single time. Literally, there had not been one time that Nico was awake when Will called him. (He didn’t mind. He was starting to grow fond of the sleepy voice he heard so often.)

Anyway, Will had a shift the next day and wanted to make sure Nico was aware of it. Will always did his best to give Nico advanced notice, plus, on the off chance that Nico couldn’t be there, it gave Will a little bit of time to try and arrange for something else.

So Will called Nico. He expected the same sleepy voice he was used to hearing at this point, but what he got instead was so much different.

“Hello?” came a perky female voice through the speaker.

“Oh! I’m so sorry,” Will started, “I must have the wrong number somehow, sorry.”

He went to hang up the phone and try again, but the voice said, “Wait! You’re Will, right? Nico’s told me a lot about you and your daughter.”

“Uh, yeah, I’m Will. Is he, uh, is Nico there? Can I talk to him?”

There was a short pause on the other end before she said, “Nico’s a little...under the weather. I don’t really think he’s up for talking to anyone right about now.”

Worry flooded into Will’s blood, sinking in his stomach like a rock. “Is he okay? I’m a doctor, I could come check him out-- over,  check him over if you want. I…” Will took a calming breath. “Is he okay?”

Will heard a light laugh sound through the phone. “No, don’t trouble yourself with him, this is just his annual thing, you know how it is, right? He’ll be back to normal soon enough.”

This time, it was Will who paused. “I, um. Do you think he’ll be okay tomorrow? I know that’s kind of soon, but...“

“Let me see how he’s feeling right now, give me just one second,” she said, and Will thought he heard the phone being set down on a hard surface.

 

Hazel walked nearly silently down the hall to Nico’s room, pushing the door open slowly to see her half-brother lying unmoving in his bed, eyes glassy and unfocused as they stared blankly at the wall across from him.

Hazel tried speaking to him, tried asking how he’s feeling, if he’s hungry, gentle things to try and get a reaction from him, but he never responded. She mentioned something about Will, something about him needing Nico to be there the next day, to be there for Bianca, and Hazel wasn’t sure which name it was that finally snapped Nico out of it, Bianca or Will.  Even if it was just for half a second, Hazel could recognize her brother’s eyes again.

“He’ll understand if you can’t be there,” Hazel reminded him calmly, “but he does need an answer soon, okay?”

She waited for him to respond, not actually expecting him to, but she saw a small nod. He opened his mouth and, with a voice scratchy from disuse, croaked out, “I’ll be there.”

Hazel walked over to him, pressing a kiss to his forehead before leaving as quietly as she came, returning to the phone in the living room.

“He says he’ll be able to make it tomorrow,” Hazel told Will when she picked up the phone.

“Are you sure he’s okay?” Will asked one final time, and Hazel could hear the sincere worry in Will’s tone.

Hazel remembered briefly the look on Nico’s face when he told her about Will and Bianca the first time, the look of a slowly blooming love, and answered, “He’ll be just fine.”

Chapter Text

“Daddy, what’s wrong?”

Will hadn’t realized until then that he’d been staring down at his phone since the woman on the other end of the line hung up. He just-- He hoped Nico was okay . He still felt a strong urge to go check up on him, but... Well, he didn’t exactly know where Nico lived. That wasn’t really necessary information for the job, and necessary information was really all that Nico had been sharing.

“Is something wrong with Nico?” Bianca asked, snapping Will out of his thoughts.

“Why would you think that?” he said, allowing Bianca to climb onto the couch next to him.

“You kept saying, ‘Is he alright? Is Nico okay?’” Bianca replied, and before Will got a chance to respond, she gasped, covering her cheeks with her hands. “Daddy, it’s the moon!”

Seeing as it was about one in the afternoon, Will assumed that Bianca wasn’t actually seeing the moon. “What about the moon?”

“Nico’s sister!” she cried with wide eyes staring up at him. “He said the moon took Bianca on December nineteenth, that’s today! He’s sad,  Daddy, he misses his sister!"

Will faintly recalled the story that Bianca had relayed to him a couple of weeks back. Dread slowly filled his chest when he remembered the part about Nico not seeing his own sister for seven years, and once again felt the worry sink in his stomach. Illness, he could fix. He could prescribe Nico any kind of medicine to fix whatever physical ailment was causing him trouble, but sadness?  That was something Will couldn’t fix.

“We should make him cookies!” Bianca said. “Cookies make everybody happy! Daddy, you can have some too, you look pretty sad.”

“I’m not sad!” Will cried, but Bianca said, “You look sad and Nico is sad, so let’s make cookies, okay Daddy?”

 

Will was no pastry chef, or culinary artist, or whoever it was that made cookies, but the next day by the time Nico arrived, there was a fresh, unburnt batch of still-warm-and-gooey chocolate chip cookies cooling on a rack. Will had a hard time keeping himself from eating them, knowing that they weren’t for him, and that he’d also burn his mouth pretty bad if he tried to eat one right now.

Him and Bianca were sitting at the table, finishing up their lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, when Nico walked in the door.

 

He was assaulted by the smell of chocolate as soon as he pushed the front door open, and was surprised to see a big stack of cookies sitting on the counter right inside the door. And while he was distracted by those, he didn’t see the six-year-old running toward him at full speed until she had attached herself to his legs.

“Nico! We made you cookies to help you be not-sad!” Bianca said with a wide smile.

Nico gently pulled her arms off of his legs so that he could crouch down to hug her. “Thank you, Princess, I feel better already.”

Bianca pulled herself out of the hug. “Daddy helped, he gets a hug too!”

Nico looked up to see Will standing, leaning slightly against the counter, wearing fresh, light blue scrubs that were dull in comparison to his eyes. Nico stood, taking the few steps necessary to get himself within hugging distance of Will, and stopped. He left the hugging up to Will.

“Thanks for the cookies,” Nico muttered, and he felt strong arms close around him, his forehead softly landing against Will’s collarbone.

“You don’t have to stay, if you don’t want to,” Will whispered to him. “I’m sorry about your sister.” Nico stiffed, holding in a breath. “You can take another day, if you need it.”

This time it was Nico who pulled himself away. “I’m fine,” he said, and he didn’t even sound fine to himself.

Will looked like he was about to protest when Bianca pulled on Nico’s arm. “Let’s go watch movies!” She started to pull Nico away when Will said, “Wait!” and knelt down to kiss Bianca on the forehead. “Goodbye, Bi, I love you.”

“Love you, Daddy!” she called as she ran off and she rounded the corner to the living room.

Will tried to meet Nico’s gaze, but his eyes were locked on the ground.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Nico looked up and met his eyes with the smallest, saddest smile Will had ever seen, and Will’s heart broke as he nodded.

Will turned to leave, spotting the cookies near the door and offering the plate to Nico. “Please, please,  don’t let Bianca eat all of them.”

Nico’s smile turned a little bit less sad, and he held out a cookie towards Will. “You looked like it was killing you a little bit to give me all of these.”

Will grinned, taking the cookie and biting into it, letting out a noise of appreciation at the taste. He took one last look at Nico before he headed out the door, but Nico’s gaze was back on the floor, and Will thought his cheeks were a little pink. What could that be from?

“Bye, Nico,” Will said as he opened the door. The other turned toward the living room, murmuring, “Bye, Sunshine.”

Chapter Text

Will did his best to keep Nico from working anywhere near the holidays so that he could go enjoy Christmas and New Years with his family, but Nico had told him that he was staying in the city for the holidays, and that it wouldn’t be much trouble if Will needed him.

He felt the tiniest bit guilty about asking Nico to come over just so that Will could go to a Christmas party, but his sister was going to be there, and despite living in the same state for a few months now, Will had yet to see Kayla. So Will threw on an ugly sweater, waited for Nico, and headed out as soon as he arrived.

(He had been hoping for Nico to crack a smile at the sweater, or laugh, or look even slightly amused by it, but he must’ve still been a little down since the last time he’d been there.)

Will tried not to feel that tiny bit of guilt in his chest, and instead did his best to let go a little bit, have a few drinks, enjoy his time with his sister and their friends.

Will would also never admit to being a lightweight. He would insist, however, that that eggnog was spiked to hell.  So after his third cup, Will was far past tipsy.

Will hadn’t given Nico any kind of timeframe of when he should be home, but seeing as it was pretty late, by now on the AM side of midnight and Nico was hearing something scratching at the front door, he assumed that Will had made it back safely. And Nico was angry.

“Honey, I’m home!” Will called into the house, and then laughed at himself.

Nico stood from the couch and intercepted Will before he could leave the kitchen. “Bianca’s asleep, you should keep your voice down.”

Will was a happy drunk. A very happy drunk, apparently. His smile was wider than Nico had ever seen it, his curly hair messier than it was when he’d left hours before, his sweater rumpled, and his cheeks pink from the alcohol. He looked so soft,  and Nico was so mad.

“Why do you look so grumpy?” Will asked with an adorable look of confusion on his face.

“I’m not grump--”

“You always look grumpy, but now you’re, like, grumpy-angry.”

“I’m not angry--"

“You look like you need a hug.” He raised his arms and he was about to wrap them around Nico, but the other stopped him.

Don’t hug me. You need to go sleep this off.” Nico ignored the sad look on Will’s face when he refused the hug, and pushed him in the direction of his bedroom.

“Are you gonna come sleep it off with me?” Will asked, seemingly innocently.

“No. You’re going to sleep in your bed, and I’m going to sleep on the couch again, because if something happens, Bianca needs someone capable of walking in a straight line to be there for her.”

Nico pushed the door to Will’s room open, shoving the man inside. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” He shut the door before Will could respond.

Nico went back to the kitchen, readying Will a glass of water and grabbing a couple of painkillers before he made his way back down the hall.

When he opened the door, Will was sitting on the ground. “I can’t get my shoes off.”

Nico sighed, walking past Will to put the water and pills down on the nightstand before going back to help him with his shoes. When that problem was solved, Nico hoisted Will back onto his feet, and Will tried to pull Nico into another hug.

“Stop,” Nico said, grabbing his arms. His hands moved to the hem of the sweater. “You need to take off the sweater or you’re gonna die from heatstroke while you sleep.”

Will raised his arms like a child who wanted someone else to do it for them. Nico sighed, pulling the sweater up and over Will’s head, leaving him in his jeans and an undershirt.

“Your turn,” Will said as he reached over and started pulling up the edge of Nico’s t-shirt. Great, happy and handsy. Nico smacked his hands away.

He pointed to the water on the nightstand. “Drink the water, take the pills, go to bed.” Nico left the room, closing the door behind him.

 

Will wished he was dead. He didn’t remember much after being handed his second drink, but he could guess that he’d done some stupid things. He turned his head, trying to ignore the pounding behind his eyes, and saw half a glass of water sitting on the nightstand. He took a couple hesitant sips, and then downed the rest (much like he’d done with his first drink the night before).

It took him a while to get himself out of bed and in the living room, but when he made it there, he saw Nico and Bianca sitting together on the couch, curled up watching cartoons.

Bianca noticed him first.

“Daddy!” she shouted, and Will winced at the volume. She jumped off of Nico’s lap and ran to give her dad a hug. “You slept for so long! You never sleep so late!”

“Sorry, Bi, I... Uh, I got a little sick at Aunt Kayla’s party last night.” He looked toward Nico and saw him glaring at the TV screen. “Bi, can you go play in your room for a little while? I need to talk to Nico.”

He waited until Bianca’s door was closed before he went to sit on the couch, as far away from Nico as possible.

He didn't know exactly what to say, but figured that apologizing was a safe bet. “I don’t really remember if I did anything bad last night, but I want to apologize anyway. I shouldn’t have had so many drinks, and I probably did something stupid last night, so I’m sorry.”

Nico didn’t answer. He didn’t even look away from the TV.

Will put his head in his hands. “I did do something stupid, shit. Please, please tell me Bianca didn’t see me like that.”

“She didn’t.”

Will sighed in relief, and then tensed again. “Then I did something to you, didn’t I? Oh god,  I’m so sorry, what did I do?”

“Asked me to go to bed with you,” Nico answered in a monotone, still not looking in Will’s direction. “Tried to take my shirt off.”

Will choked. “Nico, holy shit, I’m so sorry, I--”

“How did you get home?”

“What?” Will asked, and looked up to see that Nico was finally looking in his direction. Not making eye contact, but looking toward him.

“From the party last night, how did you get home when you were drunk off your ass?”

Will blushed. “I-- I don’t remember.”

“Did you drive?”

“No!” Will shouted, wincing at his head began to pound again. “No, I would never drive when I’m in that condition.”

“Then how did you get home?” Nico asked again. “Did someone just as drunk as you were drive you home?”

“I don’t think so. I think I took a cab.”

“Okay.” Nico turned back to the TV. “Apology accepted.”

“What? What do you mean?”

I mean apology accepted. You managed not to do something stupid and life risking while you were wasted, so I accept your apology for all the other stupid shit you did after you got home.”

Will couldn’t remember ever hearing Nico swear before this. He must’ve been angry. “But why?”

Nico huffed. “Did Bianca tell you about my sister?”

“The one that lives with the moon?”

“She doesn’t live with the moon. We were walking around in the woods, and I got cold so I went back inside. I told her to hurry back to the house. I was inside for maybe an hour when the doorbell rang. I thought maybe it was Bianca, and someone had locked her out. I open the door, and there’s this drunk standing in the doorway and he’s holding Bianca’s lifeless body in his arms and he said, ‘ She came out of nowhere, ran right into my car, I need a phone, do you have a phone I can use?'"

“Nico--”

“We called the cops and they made him take a breathalyzer test and he was two points over the legal limit. The EMTs said that Bianca’s spine was broken, and there was nothing they could do to bring her back, and maybe if that guy hadn’t moved her body she would’ve been fine, but that drunk asshole touched my sister and killed her--"

Nico took a breath, and Will was afraid to speak.

“We had to return her christmas presents. I didn’t open the ones she got me for a long time after. She got me one of the rarest expansion -packs there were for that card game, Mythomagic. I hadn’t opened the present until after I threw all my old cards out.”

Will was frozen. His heart had shattered into a million pieces and he could tell by looking at Nico that his had just broken apart for the hundredth time.

There was a pause, and then Nico cleared his throat. “Do you think you can handle yourself? I’m going home.” He stood, grabbed his backpack, and headed toward the door.

“Nico!” Will called after him. When the other paused for a second, Will said, “I’m sorry.”

Nico left.

Chapter Text

Nico and Will danced around each other for a little while after that. Neither of them were fully aware that they were doing it, either. Will was afraid of overstepping his boundaries, afraid that accidentally brushing by Nico might make him angry, might remind him of Drunk Night, as Will had decided to call the night he didn’t remember. Will hated himself for how he’d acted towards Nico when he was drunk (and for the fact that he didn’t remember asking Nico to go to bed with him or trying to take Nico’s shirt off).

While he knew that Nico had accepted his apology, Will still wanted to do something to make it up to him. And sure, finishing the guest room was something Will wanted to get done for other people besides Nico, but this way Nico would no longer have to sleep on the couch.

Every free chance he got between Drunk Night and the new year, Will was trying to finish the guest room.

 

Nico was dancing around Will for completely different reasons. It always took a while to shake the sadness of Bianca’s death, but for some reason, this year it had lingered. Maybe it had been the reopening of the old wound when he told Will. Maybe it had been his father visiting him and Hazel for the holidays and drinking until he started taking swings at Nico. (This time of year had been just as hard on their father as it had been on Nico. Bianca had been the favorite, and Nico was just the one that left her alone to die, in his mind.)

Maybe it was something else entirely.

Nico had felt guilty when he got mad at Will. There was no reason for him to act the way he had. Will hadn’t known about Bianca, hadn’t known that Nico had bad experiences with drunks, and he definitely couldn’t have known how much Nico wanted a distraction from the sadness in the form of attention from a tall, freckled blond. (Nico couldn’t help it. Even infuriatingly drunk, Will had looked so soft,  and Nico had almost wanted to take up his offer and crawl into bed with him. But he knew that would get him fired, and the distraction would only last so long.)

So Nico felt guilty. He felt relief when his father returned to California, he felt happiness whenever Bianca hugged him or smiled at him, and then he felt guilty whenever he saw Will. The guilt led to anger aimed at himself, but for what, he didn’t know. He was just angry. And sad, still. Even though the sadness never usually bled into the new year, he was still sad.

 

Will managed to have the guest room finished just in time, really. In two days, he had a shift starting at midnight, which meant that he could be home by seven to send Bianca off to school for her first day after break. He called Nico, waking him up with the call, as always, and asked that Nico come over the next day, sometime early so that Will could sleep the day away without having to worry about Bianca.

Will was happy to present the guest room to him when he arrived that next day, telling him that the room was all his whenever he needed to stay over, so he wouldn’t need to sleep on the couch ever again.

Nico thanked him quietly, but Will still felt a sharp pain of you’re not forgiven yet,  something’s still wrong,  though now Will couldn’t imagine what he could do to fix what he’d done. But Nico had thanked him, and now Will needed to sleep. Of course, internal clocks and internal guilt never really allowed for sleeping when he needed it most.

It was going to be a long day of tossing and turning.

 

This was the first day that Nico had spent the whole day with Bianca. Well, that wasn’t true, exactly, but this was the first day he’d spent the whole day and the whole night at the Solace household. And it was exhausting.

Nico had seen Will twice the whole day, once when he came out of his room to use the bathroom, and once when he went into the kitchen while Nico and Bianca were in the living room. Both times, Will had looked like he hadn’t slept at all.

Shortly after Nico had put Bianca to bed, he’d fallen asleep on the couch in the middle of writing something for class, like he always did. Clearly, he had the best bedtime stories, they put even himself to sleep. Of course, falling asleep on the couch when there’s a Most Likely Warm and Comfy Bed waiting for you is something that would wake even the deepest sleeper from their nap.

So Nico took his laptop and went into the guest room, changed into the pajamas he’d brought with him, and went to go brush his teeth. The bathroom door opened when he walked up to it, which momentarily confused his overtired brain, until his eyes registered what he was seeing.

Standing in the doorway was Will, obviously freshly showered if the wet curls on his head were anything to go by, and of course the towel t hat was the only thing Will had covering him. For having only ever seen Will in day-old scrubs and the ugly Christmas sweater that one night, this was a shock to Nico’s system as he noticed muscle that really did not show through the scrubs and so many freckles. They weren’t just on his face! They were everywhere! His arms, his shoulders, his chest, probably everywhere else and Nico couldn’t handle it! His tired brain was overloading!

Will ran a hand through his hair when he saw Nico, a nervous habit that Nico had picked up on very early on, but this time it caused drops of water to drip onto Will’s shoulders and chest, and Nico heard Will apologize and then he slipped away and his bedroom door closed and he was gone. Nico was frozen.

He stayed frozen for less than a minute, at least he hoped, before he darted into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Nico looked in the mirror, and his cheeks were bright red. So red, there was no possible way that Will hadn’t seen how red they were. Nico wished for death.

Chapter Text

Will tried to forget about that while he was at work that night. That, of course, being Nico’s dark eyes wide and staring, and the flush of his cheeks that left Will flustered. Nico wasn’t checking him out, Will kept telling himself, he was just embarrassed by the situation, that’s why he had that adorable blush.

STOP!!! Will’s mind kept shouting at him. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT!

Will had forced himself to focus on his work, forced his mind to think about the medicine and only the medicine. And then it was seven, and he was heading home. He had time to make Bi her breakfast, pack her a lunch, and drive her to school, and then he would sleep all day, and then he could go pick her up from school. It would be a good day.

And then the exhaustion hit.

Thankfully, it hit when he was pulling into the driveway, so there was no risk of falling asleep behind the wheel (except maybe after he parked the car. The steering wheel had a little bit of a cushion to it, maybe it wouldn’t be that bad of a pillow). He parked, forced himself into the house, and saw Nico at the stove.

“I can make breakfast,” he said around a yawn as a greeting.

Nico looked over at him and raised an eyebrow. “No you can’t.”

Will pouted (he wanted to glare, but he didn’t think he was awake enough to know the difference between a pout and a glare). Nico rolled his eyes and turned off the stove, moving to guide Will toward his room. As Nico led Will away, he said, “I will make breakfast, I will pack Bianca’s lunch, and I will drive her to school today. We’re having eggs and toast for breakfast, she will get both a fruit and a vegetable in her lunch, as well as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I will make sure she’s properly buckled into her carseat when we leave. Now sleep."

He had marched Will right into the middle of his room, giving him one last shove toward the bed at the word sleep,  and turned to leave.

Will said, “Thank you, Nico,” right before the door shut.

 

He slept much better this time, even with the arguments from his internal clock and the little bit of internal guilt at not seeing Bianca off before school. He slept incredibly well, and it must’ve been for a while, because he felt a little dazed when he woke up. The time read two-thirty, plenty of time to eat something before he went to pick Bianca up from school.

He rolled out of bed, joints popping in a satisfying way as he stretched before heading toward the door.

Will could hear something cooking before he could smell it. He rounded the corner into the kitchen, seeing Nico at the stove once again, flipping something in a pan.

 

Nico had eaten breakfast with Bianca: a small amount of scrambled eggs and a glass of apple juice. So when lunchtime came around, Nico couldn’t deny that he was pretty hungry, but also couldn’t take himself away from the story he was writing. Around two o’clock, when he couldn’t stand the growling of his stomach any longer, he’d finally forced himself into the kitchen, ready to cook something to make up for the small breakfast his stomach barely remembered having.

He was making himself a small stack of chocolate chip pancakes, and while he was in fact very hungry, his small stack had grown a little larger than intended, but he figured he could warm up the extras for Will whenever it was that he finally woke up.

When he heard the sound of footsteps behind him, however, Nico looked up. Will, looking rather refreshed after his nap, was standing just inside the kitchen. He must’ve changed into his pajamas before going to bed that morning, because instead of scrubs, Will was now wearing a plain white undershirt and flannel pajama pants. Nico thought his heart skipped a beat.

He cleared his throat before offering, “Pancakes? I probably made enough for both of us.”

Nico had turned back to the pan before Will’s reply of, “Sounds great,” came, but he could hear the smile in his voice anyway.

He held up a plate stacked about six pancakes high. “Help yourself.”

Will got himself a plate and a fork before sliding a couple of pancakes on his plate. “So, not that I mind you making breakfast for me, but why haven’t you gone home yet?”

Nico flipped a fresh pancake onto the stack and spoke as he poured the rest of the batter into the pan. “It didn’t seem like you slept that well yesterday, so I figured you’d be pretty tired when you got home this morning, which I was right about. And I didn’t want to take the chance that you might not be awake by the time Bianca gets out of school, so I thought I’d hang around just in case I needed to pick her up.”

Instead of hearing a reply, there was a moan from the direction Will was standing. “Are these chocolate? Delicious."

Must’ve found his weakness, Nico thought as he tried to steady his breathing.

Chapter Text

Will didn’t find out about career day until it was too late to change his schedule, which meant that Bianca would most likely be one of the only students in her class without a parent to attend with her. He felt awful.

When he told her, Bianca started crying, and Will thought he should just be struck with lightning right then, remove his wasted existence from the earth with a flash of light, and that’s when Nico walked in the door.

As soon as her saw her, Nico scooped Bianca up into his arms, asking what was wrong.

“Daddy can’t come to career day at school with me!” she wailed and pointed at Will, and he thought the lightning might just come straight out of her finger and that would be the last of him. It didn’t, he was still there.

“What if I go to career day with you?” Nico asked, and then glanced over at Will. “If that’s okay?”

“Yes! Yeah, please,” Will said quickly.

“B-but it’s for parents,” Bianca said, and Will could tell she was starting to calm down already. “And you’re not my dad.”

“No, but I’m cooler than your dad,” Nico said and shot Will a smirk when Bianca laughed. There it was. There was the lightning. Will was dead.

Nico set Bianca down on the ground and kneeled in front of her. “But if you’re here all day, then how do you have a job?” Bianca asked.

“This is my job, Princess,” Nico answered. “I get to hang out with you all the time and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. And I also go to school on the computer, which is kinda like another job, but it’s a little different.”

“So... You can come with me?” Bianca asked finally.

“Yeah, and we’re gonna have a great time.”

It was a good thing Will was sitting, because he was pretty sure his heart had just given out, and he thought that collapsing right then would’ve ruined the moment.

 

Career day happened about a week later. Nico had stayed over the night before so that there was no chance of him being late to drive Bianca to school, and when they arrived, the classroom was bursting with people, an almost equal number of adults and kids alike.

There were about fifteen minutes before the bell rang, starting the class, so Bianca hopped into her seat and started talking excitedly with her friends. Nico stood awkwardly around the outer edge of the room, where most of the parents were mingling.

Nico pulled out his phone. Will had said to text him if there were any problems with Nico being there, and Nico figured this was bad enough.



[TO: Solace - 8:13AM

i changed my mind this is weird]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:14AM

??? You can’t change your mind, you promised!]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:14AM

What’s so weird about it?]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:16AM

everyone here is either fifteen years younger

than me or seven years older than me]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:17AM

and i see approx 5 women all w the

same haircut standing in the far corner]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:19AM

i can almost see the wine glasses in their hands as

they gossip about the other parents at their “book club”]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:20AM

theres also only two adult males in this

room, one of them being me and the other looks

like hes probably served time at least once]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:23AM

Have you tried talking to any of the other parents

that aren’t wine moms or escaped convicts?]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:24AM

theyre all having their own convos]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:25AM

Maybe if you didn’t spend the last ten minutes on your phone,

you could’ve been a part of one of those conversations]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:26AM

whoops gotta go class is starting see u later solace]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:27AM

I know for a fact that class doesn’t start until 8:30, you liar]

 

[TO: Solace - 8:28AM

ill keep u posted on mr convicts “career”]

 

[FROM: Solace - 8:30AM

I look forward to it]

 

The bell rang, starting the class, and the principal came over the loudspeaker to lead the school in the pledge. Nico got kind of lost toward the middle, forgetting some of the words, because, to be fair, it had been probably ten years since he’d said the pledge last.

The teacher started the “festivities” immediately, saying, “I know that a lot of you could only get some time off work, so we’ll do this as fast as we can.” And then she started down the alphabet.

Honestly, Nico was incredibly bored. The wine moms all went toward the beginning, proclaiming themselves the “classroom moms” because they always helped out whenever they could because they just loved all the kids so much! A few others said they were stay at home moms, there was a lawyer there, a chef, a few cashiers, and of course, Mr. Convict himself, who claimed to be a construction worker. That seemed awfully ex-con to Nico.

A few more moms introduced themselves and Nico wasn’t paying attention until he realized they’d gotten to the S’s. He would have to present soon.

After two different Smiths, the teacher said, “I’m so sorry, but it looks like that’s all the time we have. Parents, you’re welcome to stay for our pizza party lunch, but I understand if you’ve got a job you must get back to.”

A couple of the stay at home moms left with their kids, going to sign them out at the office. Mr. Convict said goodbye to his daughter and left. The wine moms left for a few minutes and came back with boxes of pizza.

Bianca ran up to Nico. “Nico, will you stay for lunch? You can meet all my friends!”

“Of course, Princess,” Nico answered, and the two of them got into the line to grab their lunch.

When they had their food, Bianca returned to her seat and Nico found a vacated chair nearby and moved it to Bianca’s desk. Right before he started eating, however, he remembered something he needed to do. He slipped his phone out of his pocket, pulling up the messages labeled Solace.

 

[TO: Solace - 11:32AM

mr convict is a “construction worker”]

 

[FROM: Solace - 11:33AM

Sounds pretty suspicious to me]

 

[TO: Solace - 11:34AM

dr solace r u texting on the clock?

i wouldnt think your patients appreciate that]

 

[FROM: Solace - 11:35AM

I’ll have you know I’m on my lunch break.

What do you think you’re doing texting during class?

 

[TO: Solace - 11:35AM

lunch break]

 

[FROM: Solace - 11:36AM

Sure. I bet that’s why you’re taking classes online,

you tried real classes but spent too much time

texting and the professor kicked you out]

 

[TO: Solace - 11:38AM

oh no uve found me out i guess i better

go back to the first grade then]

 

[FROM: Solace - 11:39AM

You better]

 

When he put his phone back in his pocket, Bianca started introducing him to all of her friends that were now sitting near them. She went through their names so fast, Nico didn’t think it caught a single one, but when she introduced him, she said, “This is Nico! He’s the Ghost King and he plays video games with me all the time!”

Nico tried to listen in on the excited chatter of the six year olds as he ate, but got distracted when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to see one of the wine moms standing behind him.

“Doctor Solace,” she said, speaking too fast for Nico to cut in and tell her nope,  “it’s so nice to finally meet you, we’ve all heard so much about you! You’re much younger than I was expecting, but you’re so much more handsome!”

At this point, Nico honestly didn’t know what to say (except maybe you’re barking up the wrong tree, lady,  but he figured that might be rude).

“I’m Christine, Jessica’s mom?” she said, like Nico was supposed to know which one Jessica was. “And your name?”

“Nico?” Bianca said, and he turned his attention back toward her. He could tell by the look on her face that she did not like Christine.

Christine cleared her throat. Clearly, she did not like it when attention was taken away from her. “Your daughter calls you by your first name? How...interesting. You know, a few of us were curious about Bianca’s mother--”

“Nico?” Bianca said again, a little louder this time.

“Just one second, Bianca,” Nico said, and he was pretty sure that was only the third time he’d ever called her by her real name. He immediately regretted it when he saw Bianca visibly shrink away.

He turned back to Christine. “Did you need something?”

Christine scoffed. “Not anymore.”

He waited until she walked away before returning his attention to Bianca. “I’m sorry, Princess, what’s up?”

“Can we go home after lunch?” Bianca asked, quieter than he had been before. “Lexi’s mom took her home and so did Jimmy’s.”

“Bi, I don’t think I can,” Nico said. “I don’t think I’m on your emergency form, which means they won’t let me take you out of school until the end of the day.”

“Okay,” Bianca muttered.

“I’m sorry, Princess. Besides, your dad wanted me to run some errands for him before we go home. You don’t wanna do that, do you?”

“Not really,” Bianca said with a sigh. “I’ll stay here.”

The teacher announced that the kids need to get back to their schoolwork, and the parents were asked to leave.

“I’ll be back to pick you up later,” Nico said, and he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Bye, Princess.”

“Bye, Nico.”

 

Nico was halfway through making dinner when Will got home that night. He greeted Nico with a smile, then accepted an enthusiastic hug from Bianca.

“Hi, Bi!” Will greeted. “How was career day?”

“It was fun!” Bianca answered. “We had pizza for lunch and Nico met my friends, and did you know Jacob’s mom is a chef?”

“I didn’t know that, that’s super cool,” Will said. “Anything else?”

Bianca thought for a second. “Well, Jessica’s mom came over to us when we were eating and she called Nico Doctor Solace, and said he was really young and handsome, and that was confusing.”

“Wait,” Will said, and obviously he was confused, too. “Really young or really handsome?”

Nico snickered from where he was stirring something in a pot. “Getting really caught up on the important details, aren’t you?”

Will cleared his throat. “Uh, Bi, is Jessica the one who’s parents are divorced?”

“Divorced means they don’t live together, right?” Bianca asked. “Wait, are you and Nico divorced?”

Nico started coughing, stepping away from the stove to get himself a glass of water. Will said, “Uh, no, Bi, divorced means that they used to be married, but now they’re not. So they used to live together, but now they don’t.”

“Okay, yes, Jessica’s parents are divorced.”

“Then what I think happened,” Will said, looking toward Nico, “is that someone has a crush on Nico.”

“Great,” Nico muttered, turning back to the cooking.

“Bi, why don’t you go wash up for dinner?” Will suggested, standing up and turning toward Nico. He made sure Bianca was out of the room before speaking, “So, I wasn’t expecting you to find yourself a single mom to date.”

Nico scoffed. “I wasn’t exactly planning on being hit on by a recently divorced soccer mom. Not exactly my type.”

“You mean, uh, someone with kids?” Will asked hesitantly.

Nico raised an eyebrow at him. “I mean recently divorced soccer moms.”

“Right. Yeah.”

“Dinner’s almost ready,” Nico said. “You wanna set the table?”

Chapter Text

Will was jealous. He’d been trying to figure out what it was for a while now, but he’d finally decided on jealous.  He didn’t want to be, that’s not what he was saying, it’s just that he’d realized that this was what he was feeling.    

Every so often, when Will’s mind was blank - when he was trying to sleep, or he was watching TV - he would hear a woman’s voice. Not any woman, a specific one, the one that had picked up Nico’s phone that day in December. The one that was in Nico’s house,  the one that said, “Nico’s told me a lot about you,” like he told her everything. Like...

Like she was his girlfriend.

And then there was Nico talking about how he wasn’t “planning to be hit on,” like he hadn’t wanted to be hit on, like maybe he didn’t want someone because he already had someone.

And then Nico’s car had broken down.

Nico’s shiny, expensive, never-had-a-problem, it-was-a-graduation-present car had broken down.

Nico didn’t bother telling this to Will until he arrived a few minutes late one day with a dark skinned girl trailing into the house behind him.

“Hey,” Nico called into the house, and Will rushed around the corner, smiling brightly until he saw her.  “Sorry I’m late, my car broke down. Hazel had to drive me.”

“Right, yeah,” Will said, and held out a hand. “I’m Will.”

Hazel shook his hand. “Yeah, we spoke on the phone once.”

“Oh! Right, I remember now,” Will said, and that’s when the jealousy started to seep into his bones.

It was then that Bianca came around the corner. She had a wide smile that disappeared as soon as she noticed Hazel, much like her father had.

“Wow, the two of you really are alike,” Hazel said with a smile.

“You’ve gotta get going soon, don’t you?” Nico asked Will.

“Right! Okay, bye, Bi,” Will said, kissing Bianca’s forehead and grabbing his keys off the counter. “Bye, Nico, Hazel. It was nice meeting you.” And he was out the door.

He was bitter and angry and jealous through his entire shift, and he hated it. He didn’t want to be angry, especially not at Nico, and Hazel seemed nice, he didn’t want to be mad at her either, but he was.  If she made Nico happy, then Will should be happy for them, but by now, the jealously was rooted deep in his bones.

 

He came home that night even more frustrated than he’d been when he left. He heard that sweet voice taunting him, words that he’d never heard Hazel say but could easily imagine kept popping into his head. “I’ve known Nico for years,"  he heard. “It’s cute how you think you know so much about him,” she said. “We moved in together a few months ago,” Hazel bragged.  Will wanted to rip his hair out, he was so angry.

He went into the house, and he could hear the TV playing, which was unusual. Hazel was probably still there, that was it. But when Will rounded the corner, it was Nico who sat alone on the couch, not looking at the TV as he tapped his foot to an unheard beat and picked at his nails. He looked nervous . Will didn’t think he’d ever seen him like this.

“Nico?” Will asked quietly as he walked further into the room, and Nico jumped, head snapping toward Will. He really must’ve been distracted. “Are you alright?”

Nico shrugged, looking back down at his hands. He started biting his lip, and Will started dying a little bit inside.

“Nico,” he tried again, sitting next to him on the couch. “Tell me what’s wrong. Please.”

Nico took a deep breath. “Bianca asked if I had a girlfriend,” he rushed out.

Now Will was even more confused. “Okay. And?”

Nico groaned, grinding the palms of his hands into his eyes. “No, not okay! It’s not, because I don’t-- I’m not--”

Will felt a spark of hope. I don’t...have a girlfriend? I’m not...straight? But then Nico continued, and Will held his breath.

“I’m gay and I didn’t know if you were okay with that, so I didn’t tell Bianca anything, because I didn’t want to teach her something that you weren’t okay with.”

Will forgot to breathe. For a little while. He figured by now his face was pretty red, but from blushing or lack of oxygen, he didn’t know. When Nico realized he wasn’t talking, he looked up at him, finally pulling his hands away from his face, eyes wide with fear. “Will?”

“I’m okay with it!” he said, probably a little bit too loud. “I’m okay with it because I am one, too. I’m-- I mean, I’m bi, and she knows, and I think she understands it, but yeah, anyway. Yes, I’m okay with it, you can tell her. If you want.”

The fear melted out of Nico's eyes, replaced with something like shock - and Will’s probably looked the same, but he was still trying to catch his breath and couldn’t really control what the rest of his body was doing right then.

“You’re...” Nico started. “Okay. Okay.” He stood up and grabbed his backpack off the ground next to him. “I have to go home.” Nico rushed out of the living room, and made it all the way to the front door before Will remembered that Nico didn’t have a car. Frankly, he probably remembered before Nico did.

Will shot up, running after him, and catching him before it seemed like he was about to start walking home. “Nico, wait, it’s like, ten degrees out, what are you doing? Come back inside, I’ll drive you home in the morning.”

Nico was already visibly shivering. “Okay. Okay.” He was back inside before Will was.

Chapter Text

No one in the Solace household was a fan of storms, Nico included. Not to say the he was a part of the household, it’s just that Will figured he should be included, since he lived there almost as much as Will did (the only difference, really, is that Will’s name is on the deed).

Will had hurried home after work one day, partly because the forecast predicted a heavy snowstorm, and partly because he’d gotten a text from Nico saying, text me if ull b home by 6 n ill make enough dinner for the 3 of us. Will, loyal fan of Nico’s cooking that he was, would have traded shifts with someone if he had to be at the hospital later than six that night. He would not miss out on Nico’s cooking.

So he made it home just as the snow was starting to pick up. When he walked in the door, Nico was putting the finishing touches on the meal, and Bianca had her face pressed into a window, watching the giant snowflakes fall.

Will stomped the snow off his boots, untying them and leaving them by the door, then hung up his jacket and scarf. After living in Nashville for most of his life, Will still wasn’t used to the negative temperatures that hit New York.

“Please tell me dinner will warm me up,” Will said, rubbing his hands together.    

Nico rolled his eyes (he was used to the cold weather, unlike somebody)  and pointed to each pot and pan, naming off each food and giving a brief description before Will could ask (because he knew that Will would ask).

Some of the foods sounded strange together, and some sounded strange by themselves, but everything smelled amazing, and Will had never doubted Nico’s cooking before.

Will and Bianca set places at the table as Nico brought the food over, and as soon as they all sat down to eat, Nico’s phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket as Will and Bianca looked at him in confusion. Nico’s phone had never once rang in all of the time that Nico had spent at the house. He never got a call, he never got a text, he never so much as got a twitter notification, unless it was message from Will. They watched him press end call  and set the phone down next to his plate.

When Nico noticed them watching him, he gestured to the food. “Well? Eat, please, before it gets cold.”

Will scooped some food onto Bianca’s plate, not exactly sure what he was giving her, just making sure it was small portions in case she didn’t like something, and then gave himself slightly larger servings of everything.

He saw that Nico had just taken a bite of something when his phone went off again, only this time what sounded like a call was really just a large amount of texts coming in all at once.

“I’m sorry,” Nico said as he picked up the phone to stop it from vibrating the entire table. “I had my phone turned off today for this exact reason, I don’t really know why I turned it back on now.”

“It’s fine,” Will said, though he was worried that something was wrong. “Is it...important?”

“No.” Nico took another bite and his phone started buzzing again in his hand. He looked at the screen and winced. “I have to take this, I’m sorry.”

He stood up and headed toward the guest room, answering the call when he was only halfway through the living room. “Hello, Father, does this have to happen right now?” There was a pause, and then, “I was trying to enjoy a nice dinner--” and that’s when the door shut, and Will could hear no more.

He and Bianca picked at their food for a little while in silence. Will still had no idea what he was eating, but it was good. Some kind of dough or something with-- more dough inside? No, dough and potatoes. Potatoes in a noodle. Like potato ravioli, or something like that.

“Is something wrong with Nico?” Bianca asked, and Will noticed she was just pushing most of the food around on her plate.

“I don’t know, Bi,” Will answered honestly. It was shaping up to be a strange evening, and Nico sure was taking a while with that phone call. “I just hope he doesn’t have to leave,” he said as he looked out the window. “I don’t think there’s any getting through that snow, no matter how long you’ve lived in New York.”

The two went back to eating, not speaking, and hearing only the increasingly powerful gusts of wind, the sounds of forks scraping across plates, and the occasional muffled noise coming from the guest room whenever Nico raised his voice.

Will wanted to go check on him, but figured it would be an invasion of privacy.

The thunder started not long after. Will hadn’t noticed any lightning mixed in with the snow, but the deep rumbles that shook the house were unmistakeable.

Bianca had finished eating, and Will was starting to feel full, but Nico’s plate remained full and untouched, and Will’s worry grew.

He didn’t know how long he poked around at the small amount of food left on his plate before he couldn’t see it anymore. He looked up, looked around, but he couldn’t see anything anymore, except the now-present lightning.

And that’s when he finally heard a door opening.

“The phone lines are down,” he heard Nico say from the direction of the guest room, but he still couldn’t see him. “Thank god.”

Will heard his footsteps stop as he entered the kitchen.

“So much for a nice warm meal,” Nico muttered, and suddenly the flashlight on his phone lit up.

“Nico, are you okay?” Bianca asked, and Nico gave her a confused look.

“Yeah, Princess, of course I’m okay. Why would you think I’m not okay?”

“You were on the phone for a really long time and I heard you shouting.”

Nico winced before starting to clear the table. “I’m sorry. I never should have turned my phone on today.”

“If it was your father, then I’m sure it was important,” Will said stood to help. “Bi, can you help clear the table please?”

Bianca took her plate to the sink as Nico huffed. “It wasn’t. Nothing he couldn’t have said in a text. A two word text, instead of--” he looked at the time on his phone “--a thirty six minute phone call. God, I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, you’ve got nothing to be sorry for,” Will told him. “It’s not like this was supposed to be some special family dinner or something.”

But suddenly, Will got the feeling like it was supposed to be something exactly like that.

“Right,” Nico muttered, then louder said, “Do you have any candles anywhere?”

   

Leftovers were put away, Nico had eaten a little bit of the food off his plate, but since it had gotten cold, he quickly lost his appetite. Every time lightning struck, the house was lit up, and Will couldn’t help but notice that Nico flinched each time it happened. The three of them each had a flashlight for emergencies, and there were tea candles on the counters, the kitchen table, the coffee table in the living room. The lighting made Will’s hair look golden, but only succeeded in making Nico look tired.

The three of them sat on the floor in the living room playing Go Fish in the candlelight, until Bianca got too tired to play anymore.

“It’s dark and scary and I don’t wanna sleep in my room by myself,” Bianca complained when Will decided it was time for her to go to bed.

“What if we all sleep out here?” Nico suggested. “We can get a bunch of pillows and blankets and it’ll be like a sleepover.”

“Okay!” Bianca said, and she jumped up and ran to her room, clicking on her flashlight as she went. She came back quickly with her arms loaded full of pillows and blankets, and dropped them all on the floor in a heap. She plopped down on top of the heap and curled up like she was going to fall asleep right then.

“Just because it’s a sleepover doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush your teeth, Bi,” Will said in a very dad voice. “And put on some warm pajamas, too.”

When Bianca complained, Will stood and ushered her toward her bedroom to make sure she had warm enough pajamas. Nico cleaned up the cards before heading off to the guest room to change into his own pajamas. Thankfully, he’d been keeping a pair (as well an extra toothbrush and some snacks) in his backpack, just in case of something like this occurring. He changed into sweatpants and a long sleeve t-shirt, grabbing his backpack, a pillow, and the comforter off the bed before heading back to the living room.

Bianca and Will were both in the bathroom brushing their teeth when he walked past the open door, Bianca in footie pajamas, and Will still in his scrubs.

Nico set his things down next to the couch before going to the kitchen to blow out the candles they didn’t need. He went to brush his teeth when he noticed that both Will and Bianca were out of the bathroom, and when he came back to the living room, Bianca looked ready to fall asleep. Will was nowhere to be seen.

The coffee table had been moved away from the couch, which must’ve been Will’s doing, so Nico sat on the ground, leaning back against the couch, and pulled out his phone. He might as well read all those texts he’d gotten earlier.

As soon as he’d opened up the messaging app, Will came into the room with a pile of blankets in his arms, and plopped them down next to Nico, revealing his blue flannel pajama pants and luminescent orange sweatshirt with the name of some college across the front.

“You’re practically glowing in the dark,” Nico commented, putting his phone off to the side.

“It’s going to get pretty cold with the heater not working,” Will said. “Gotta keep warm.”

The two of them were quiet as they situated themselves, and in a couple of minutes, they were both wrapped up in blankets and listening to the quiet snores coming from the six year old across the room.

“I figured she’d be out pretty quick,” Will said, smiling at his daughter.

Nico hummed, eyes flickering down toward his phone, when he heard Will speak again.

“So, I’m sorry if this is, like, intrusive, but I have to ask,” he started, “you seemed...angry, with your dad. Is everything alright?”

Nico sighed. “It’s as alright as it’s ever been. He’s just-- He’s trying to hard to be a good dad when he could’ve done it years ago, when it mattered.”

“I get that,” Will said. “My dad was pretty awful when I was a kid, too, but he never ended up trying to do anything to change it. He practically tricked my mom into believing that he loved her, and they got married for probably about twenty minutes, which is apparently enough time for him to cheat on her. I didn’t find out until I was around ten that the reason my dad wasn’t around was because he had another family. Or, well, a lot of other families. Turns out I had at least four siblings I’d never met.”

“Four?” Nico asked incredulously.

Will nodded. “There was Lee and Michael, both of them joined the military. I don’t remember which branches, but I don’t think they ever met. They were both killed in action, so I never actually got to meet them, just heard about them. And then there’s Kayla, the one who had the...the, um, Christmas party.” Nico hid a grin. Will sounded embarrassed. “A-and Austin. I’ve met him just a couple of times, but he lives in Manhattan, so I’m hoping I can get to know him better. He’s a musician, goes to Juilliard. He can play anything, like when I first asked him about it, he just listed off all the instruments he can play, which was a ton, and he’s just like, ‘Yeah, and right now I’m learning the violin, too, but strings are kind of hard for me, so we’ll see how it goes.’”

“A few months after Bianca died, I found out I had another sister,” Nico said, and the air flew out of Will’s lungs. “Turns out that my dad had gone on a business trip to New Orleans once, and met some fortune teller and had a fling. Child services called our house once, and I answered the phone. This lady just kept saying something about Marie somebody died and since my father was financially stable enough to support another child, they were flying his daughter to California to live with us. After I got over the shock of that, the first thought I had was, I can’t believe he married a Maria and had another kid with a Marie."

“So Maria is your mother?” Will asked.

“Was,” Nico corrected. “She died when I was four. It was a car accident during a thunderstorm." The house shook - coincidentally - with thunder. "My father had remarried a little while after that, to a woman named Persephone. She said the house was too sad and filled it with flowers, which just made the place look like a funeral home. When Seph found out about Hazel, she got super pissed at my father and didn’t talk to him for a couple of days, even though that 'business trip' had happened in between wives.”

“Hazel’s your sister?”

Nico turned to look at Will. “Yeah. Why, who did you think she was?”

Will shrugged, and was thankful for the dim lighting that hid his blush. “A friend, I guess. You don’t exactly look alike.”

“Yeah, but we’re still family. She’s been living with me for a few months until her boyfriend graduates from West Point. I have a feeling they’re going to get married pretty soon, especially if he ends up in the army, which is bound to happen sooner or later.”

“I considered joining up for a little while,” Will said, eyes on Bianca. “Go in as a doctor, they’d pay off my student loans, but then Bi came along, and I couldn’t just leave her alone at my mom’s or someplace for so long that she wouldn’t know me when I came back.”

In the faint light, Will noticed Nico shiver and wrap the comforter tighter around himself.

“Are you cold?” Will asked. “Let me go get you a sweatshirt.” He was up and out of the room before Nico could reply. He returned quickly, a light grey sweatshirt in his hands, which he tossed to Nico before sitting back down.

“Thanks,” Nico said, once the sweatshirt was pulled over his head. “I hope you don’t mind me staying here tonight.”

“Are you kidding? I don’t care how great your big, expensive car is in the snow, I wouldn’t have let you leave in this weather!”

  Nico rolled his eyes; Will could see that even in the dark. “It’s not that expensive.”

“Nico, that car cost more than my mom’s house,” Will insisted. “I still can’t believe that it was a high school graduation present."

“Okay, it’s not that expensive for my family."

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means...” Nico tucked his hands into the sleeves of the sweatshirt and looked down at his lap. “My father owns a recording studio in LA, so we’ve never exactly been tight on money. And my mother’s father was an Italian ambassador, who left trust funds for Bianca and me. And then when Bianca died, her trust was merged with mine, and my mother’s insurance money paid for my college classes and the private schools I went to when I was younger.”

“You’re loaded?"  Will asked, voice loud in shock and jaw left hanging open.

Nico’s head snapped up towards his, hands coming out of the sleeves as he held a finger up to his lips, the other hand pointing toward the still-sleeping Bianca.

Their faces were close. Nico could’ve counted Will’s freckles. Will could’ve finally seen the separation of iris and pupil in Nico’s eyes if the lighting were better. Instead, Will’s eyes dropped to the finger over Nico’s lips. His eyes lingered there for longer than he’d intended them to, and he snapped his jaw shut when he managed to focus his eyes back on Nico’s.

“I can’t believe you’re rich,” Will whispered, finally pulling his eyes away from Nico’s face. Nico had returned his hands to his sleeves, and he looked so small in Will’s oversized sweatshirt, head tilted down sheepishly. “I can’t believe you’re rich and I’ve been sneaking extra money into your paychecks to help you fix your car!”

Nico laughed lightly. “You have?”

“And you didn’t even notice! Do you even look at your paychecks?”

“Not really,” Nico admitted.

“Alright, you owe me now,” Will decided.

“What, you want me to pay you back the money you didn’t have to give me?”

“No, no, keep the money, whatever,” Will said, waving a hand at Nico. “You owe me one answer to any question I ask you.”

“Can I veto something I’m not comfortable answering?”

Will thought about it for a second. “I guess so. But only one!”

“Okay, go ahead, then.”

Will didn’t even hesitate. “What were all the texts and calls about earlier?”

Nico sighed, glancing off to the side where his phone was sitting on the ground. “Well, to be fair, I haven’t actually looked at the texts.” He picked up the phone, turning on the screen and holding it in a way that Will could see just as well as he could. The messaging app was still open, and Nico tapped on the first thread at the top.

[FROM: frank - 2:15PM

Happy Birthday, Nico! :)]

 

[FROM: Hazel - 2:15PM

happy birthday!!! i love u!!!

 

[FROM: Annabeth - 3:00PM

Happy Birthday!]

 

[FROM: Percy - 3:02PM

Happy birthday man]

 

[FROM: Percy - 3:04PM

hppy birhtday unkle nico!!!]

 

[FROM: Percy - 3:04PM

That one was from Luke]

 

[FROM: ra-ra - 3:05PM

Happy birthday, it’s your turn to visit]

 

[FROM: Leo - 3:30PM

happy old day bro]

 

[FROM: jason - 3:46PM

Happy birthday son]

 

[FROM: Piper - 3:58PM

Happy birthday!]

 

[FROM: Thalia - 4:18PM

happy birthday]

 

“It’s your birthday?" Will asked.

Nico shrugged.

“Why didn’t you tell me? I would’ve taken the day off or something! You didn’t have to come here today, you could’ve-- I don’t know, hung out with your friends, or something!”

“My friends all have jobs, Solace,” Nico responded. “They all had to work today, and I’d much rather be here than sitting by myself in my room all day.”

Will was hit with a realization. Like, punched in the gut with this realization. “It was supposed to be some kind of special family dinner, wasn’t it?”

Nico shrugged, putting his phone down in his lap. “I guess. I made a bunch of my favorite foods, there were cannoli for dessert, too, but we didn’t exactly get to that. My father only called because he was trying to make up for never calling me on my birthday, and I couldn’t get him to shut up, and then he put Seph on the phone.” He sighed again, tossing his head back to rest against the couch cushions. “I just wanted to have a nice dinner for once.”

“If it makes you feel any better, it was a nice dinner,” Will offered. “Would’ve been better with you there, but the food was good.”

Nico’s head lolled to the side so we could look at Will. He had the tiniest smile on his face, and Will wanted to keep it there.

“Tell me about your friends,” Will blurted.

Nico picked up his head. “Why?”

“I--” Will didn’t know. “Why the emojis?”

Nico paused for a second, staring at Will as if to try to find some kind of ulterior motive. He clicked his phone screen back on. He scooted a little bit closer to Will, holding the phone screen toward him again.

“Okay, well, Frank is kind of huge, especially next to Hazel, and he reminds me of a bear, and he’s Chinese, so panda.” He cringed. “That sounded racist but it wasn’t meant to, it's the only bear emoji there was. Moving on. Uh, Hazel sells jewelry, so a diamond because that’s also the only jewel emoji there was. Percy, my friend from high school, swam all through high school and college and he was trying to get to the olympics, but then him and Annabeth had their son, Luke, and he didn’t want to leave them. Annabeth’s an architect, she’s got her own firm in the city.

“Ra-Ra is my friend Reyna, she lives in San Francisco, she’s just kind of terrifying and scares people to death, so a ghost. Leo’s a mechanic and used to light things on fire a lot when he was in high school. Jason’s my cousin, I gave him a father’s day card one year as a joke and now he calls me son. I met his fiance Piper because her father and mine met at some business meeting for some movie, and Piper and I were still young enough that we had to be dragged around by our parents. She likes to surf, if you didn’t get that. And Thalia’s Jason’s older sister. Jason, Percy, and I once wrapped her up in Christmas lights when she refused to help us decorate the tree one year. Her and Bianca used to have a ‘No Boys’ club because they were the only two girls in the family back then.”

Nico closed out of the messaging app and pulled up his photo gallery. “I think I have pictures of everyone, hang on.”

He scrolled through a few albums and showed Will pictures of Frank and Hazel, Percy and Annabeth, himself and Luke when he’d been asked to babysit once, Leo that one time he accidentally set his jacket on fire and didn’t notice for over a minute. At some point, Nico’s head fell onto Will’s shoulder as they scrolled through pictures. Piper surfing and Jason falling into the water. Hazel and him scrunching up their noses at the camera. Thalia somewhere in South America doing some wildlife preservation something. Reyna sitting outside a cafe drinking a latte and glaring at people that passed by on the street.

Nico’s eyes were starting to fall closed when he finally put his phone away, having exhausted his gallery of all pictures of his friends. Will had started talking, something about a couple of the friends he’d had in high school, and Nico had tried to listen, he really had, but his eyes had slipped closed and he’d fallen asleep.

 

He woke up on the floor, pillow under his head and comforter off the guest bed wrapped around him, and he had no recollection of how he’d gotten there.

The floor around him was littered with pillows and blankets, and there were burned out candles on the tables and TV stand. He sat up and blinked a few times, and then Will and Bianca were there in front of him. He rubbed at his eyes and looked at them again, but their smiles were unmistakably real.

“Happy birthday!” Bianca shouted at him, and held out a small plate with one of the cannoli he’d made yesterday.

Will was beaming at him, obviously proud of himself, and Nico couldn’t help but grin.

Chapter Text

The snowstorm kept schools closed for the next two days, which meant that Nico stayed over. The power had returned the morning after Nico’s birthday, and while Will had taken the opportunity to shower after their quick birthday celebration, Nico had taken advantage of the newly recovered phone lines to call Hazel. He had her pick him up and take him to get his car, which he’d been planning on picking up the night before, until the snow hit.

When he got his car, Nico returned home, showered, changed his clothes, and grabbed fresh pajamas and clothes for the next day.

He went back to Will’s and was immediately greeted with Bianca telling him that her school had already been closed for the next day. Good thing he’d grabbed more clothes.

Bianca had insisted on playing video games, and then got angry at Will whenever he walked in front of the screen. He was trying to get ready for work, running back and forth between the kitchen and his room, and by the fourth or fifth time, Bianca had had enough, and gave up on the game.

When Will came over to say goodbye, he suggested, “Why don’t you do the homework you were supposed to do last night, so you don’t have to worry about it later?”

Bianca, still upset, huffed and crossed her arms, and Nico just said, “Bye, Solace,” and kept playing the game Bianca had abandoned.

Will rolled his eyes and muttered something about having two children, and Nico shouted, “I heard that!” before Will walked out the door.

 

When he returned later that night, Will noticed first the tray of brownies cooling on the counter. Bianca’s bag was where it had been when he left, and a quick look around the corner showed that Nico and Bianca were still sitting on the floor playing video games, right where he’d left them.

Will walked up to them, arms crossed and what he hoped was a stern look on his face. “Did you even do your homework like I said to?” he demanded.

Nico paused the game and looked up at him with the biggest shit-eating grin Will had ever seen and said, “Yeah, it’s in her backpack, all ready to go when school starts back up. You wanna check everything over, make sure it’s all right?”

They stared each other down for a little while. Will felt something swell up in his chest. Maybe his lung were filling with fluid and he was dying. Maybe it was something else that had to do with Nico smiling up at him like that.

Will rolled his eyes and turned back toward the kitchen, hearing Nico snicker before unpausing the game.

“The brownies are probably cool by now if you want one,” Nico called to him.

Will sighed in frustration, but went over to the counter and cut himself a brownie. Dammit if it wasn’t the best thing he’d eaten in days. Well, except maybe that cannoli he’d split with Nico the day before. But the brownie.

Chapter Text

Will had been paged to the waiting room closest to the ER. No reason given, just pulled straight out of his shift and shoved in the direction of the never-once-reupholstered chairs. He scanned the room quickly, trying to recognize any face that may have been the one to call for him, but he saw none. There was, however, a mop of dark hair facing away from Will that seemed a little familiar.

He approached the line of old chairs near the check-in desk, coming around the side to try and get a look at the man’s face, but there were a pair of pale hands covering a majority of his face. Pale hands with thin fingers, one of which had a familiar silver ring in the shape of a skull, and Will nearly collapsed.

He hurried closer. “Nico?” he asked, and the other froze, slowly lowering his hands from his face, and glancing up, not meeting Will’s eyes.

“I’m sorry, shit,"  Nico said, burying his face in his hands once again. “I’m so sorry, I can’t believe I let this happen, I’m so sorry."

Will knelt down next to him, putting his hands on Nico’s wrists and trying to pull them away from his face. “Nico, what happened? Where’s Bianca?”

As Nico’s hands fell, he looked over his shoulder in the direction of the ER, and Will’s heart plummeted into his stomach. He felt like he was going to be sick.

“What happened?” Will demanded. “Nico, tell me what happened."  He let go of Nico’s wrists, cupping his cheeks in his hands and forcing Nico to look at him.

Tears were streaming down Nico’s cheeks. “W-we were baking. She wanted to-- To taste the batter, and I looked away for half a second, and she c-couldn’t breathe. I-I looked at her allergy list, I swear I did, but I’ve never bought anything on that list, I promise.  I must’ve o-overlooked something, o-or misread a l-label. I’m sorry, god,  this is all my fault.”

“Nico, no,"  Will said, and moved to grab his hands. Instead of feeling smooth skin like he was expecting, Will’s fingers were met with something warm and sticky, a substance he was far too familiar with after working in the ER for so long. He looked down, and Nico had dug his fingernails into his forearm so hard, he’d broken the skin. Glancing back up, he saw fresh tears in Nico’s eyes. "Nico,"  he said again, though this time it wasn’t angry.

“I’m sorry,” Nico whispered, and Will’s heart shattered.

“Come with me,” he said, pulling on the hand that wasn’t bloody. He forced Nico to his feet and started pulling him in the direction of the ER.

“Where?”

“I’m going to wrap up your arm so you don’t do that again,” Will said, and Nico hung his head as he followed behind Will, the only thing keeping him moving being the hand that Will kept a tight hold on.

He sat Nico in a chair along one of the walls, telling him to stay and that he’d be right back. Will gathered a few supplies - antiseptic wipes, bandages - and returned shortly, pulling up another nearby chair and setting to work.

He grabbed the hand that had bloodied fingertips and started cleaning the appendages. “Why aren’t you with Bianca right now?”

“‘M not familly,” Nico answered quietly, keeping his eyes away from Will. “They said since you’re here, they couldn’t let me stay with her.” Will was familiar with the rule, and at this point, he had never hated it more.

Will moved on to the other arm, carefully taking Nico’s wrist and evenly wiping down his arm. There were a series of white crescent shapes following a similar pattern to the fresh cuts in Nico’s skin.

“You’ve done this before,” Will said, and it wasn’t a question, “hurt yourself like this.”

Nico hung his head, and Will thought he would snap his neck if he kept doing that. " Nico."

“Yes, a few times,” Nico finally said. “My father spends a lot of time blaming me for a lot of things, and shouting back only makes it worse. I have to keep myself quiet somehow.” He turned up his palms up to face him, staring down at his hands as he said, "This is better than some of what he's done."

“Nico,” Will said again, and it sounded like the hundredth time he’d said it that day. He started winding the bandage around Nico’s arm.

“Why aren’t you with Bianca?” Nico asked.

“That would take my focus away from the job,"  Will said, his tone changing as he spoke, and Nico suspected he’d heard those exact words used before in a very similar case. “My shift is over soon. They’ll let me see her then.” He tied off the bandage.

There was a pause as Will picked up his supplies, ready to put them away. He stood to go right as Nico whispered, “I’m sorry,” again.

“Stop apologizing,” Will snapped, not meaning for his words to sound as harsh as they did, and he walked away.

Nico curled in on himself, and wondered if he was allowed to leave that spot yet.

 

Will’s shift was over sooner than he thought, and he finally got to ask where his daughter was. He rushed to her side as soon as he found out, and was greeted with a big smile. Thank god,  his daughter was okay.

“Hey, Bi,” Will said as he brushed her hair back with his fingers. “How are you feeling?”

“Throat hurts,” Bianca answered. “Did you know I’m allergic to cumin? I don’t think I even know what that is.”

“It’s a spice,” Will told her. “You must’ve used it when you and Nico were baking.”

“Where is Nico?” Bianca asked, looking around, as if maybe he were hiding.

“I don’t know,” Will said. “You want me to go find him?” Bianca nodded. “Okay. I’ll be right back.”

He set off in the direction of the waiting room, but when he peaked around the corner, he couldn’t recognize any of the shapes in the chairs as Nico, so he turned back. He might’ve gone home. Or maybe he was still sitting where Will had left him.

That’s exactly where he was. His feet were pulled up onto the chair and his arms were wrapped around his legs. He looked pathetic, and terrible.  When Will approached him, he averted his eyes. “Come on,” Will said, “get up. Follow me.”

Nico was hesitant to stand, it seemed, but when Will started walking, he was right there behind him. When they came up to Bianca’s bed, Nico looked confused, like he’d been expecting to be thrown out, not brought here.

“Nico!” Bianca said happily, and Nico couldn’t help but offer up a teary smile.

“Hey, Princess,” he said, reaching up and grabbing her hand. In doing so, he gave her a perfect view of his bandaged arm.    

“What happened?” she asked. Nico opened his mouth to answer, but Will spoke before he could.

“He was so worried about you, Bi, that he grabbed onto his arm really tight and wouldn’t let it go. And his fingernails are so sharp that they cut the skin, so I had to fix him up.”

“Good job, Daddy!” Bianca praised. “Can we go home now?”

“Soon,” Will said. “I have to check with your doctor, first, and then we’ll see.”

“But you’re a doctor, Daddy,” Bianca replied.

“But I’m not your doctor. Do you remember what the name of your doctor was?”

Bianca hummed, then shook her head. “Merka-something, I think.”

“Markowitz?” Will tried, and Bianca nodded again. “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

 

It was another hour before Bianca could be discharged, due to further observations and the amount of time it took to fill out the discharge forms, but by dinner time, they were finally ready to leave. Bianca was complaining of hunger before they were even out the door.

“I can make you dinner soon,” Nico told her as they walked out into the parking lot.

“I don’t think so,” Will said before Bianca could get too excited, and Nico visibly shrank. “I think you should go home, Nico. Your own home. I’ll call you the next time I need you.”

“Oh,” Nico whispered, stopping in his tracks. “Okay.”

“But Daddy--” Bianca started, but Will scooped her up into his arms before she could finish.

“You can have whatever you want when we get home, okay?” he told her, and they walked off in the direction of Will’s car.

“Okay,” Nico said again, though there was no one there this time to hear him.

Chapter Text

Three days.

That’s how long Nico was laying in his bed, barely moving, probably not even sleeping, and Hazel had had enough. She’d gone into his room and tried speaking to him a few times, even got Frank to try and snap him out of it, but Frank was too nice to shout at anybody. She got Jason on the phone, but even he couldn’t do anything to shake Nico out of whatever depressive pit he'd fallen into. Hazel had forced him to drink a single glass of water the day before, but that was as much as she could manage when Nico was so unresponsive. 

Then, one time she went into Nico’s room, and he was asleep. The first time she’d noticed in three days that he was sleeping, and there was his phone, lying far enough away from him that she could probably take it and not wake him up.

Hazel tiptoed into the room, careful to keep herself as far from the bed as possible, and snatched the phone.

 

Nico’s eyes opened. He didn’t think it was possible that he had actually slept - he thought he felt worse than he had when he'd closed his eyes - but there was light shining through his curtains that he didn’t think was there earlier. And then he saw that his phone was gone.

It wasn’t sitting on his nightstand anymore, it wasn’t in reach in case Will called. Where did it go? He sat up for the first time in days and his back protested. He scanned the room, and there it was on his desk, plugged in. Hazel must’ve done that. He laid back down, throwing an arm over his eyes to try and block out the light.

The door creaked open, and Nico was ready to yell at Hazel to leave when a different voice called, “Nico!”

He pulled his arm back, and he felt his mattress dip with added weight, and then there was a six year old on his legs. Nico sat up, careful not to knock Bianca over.

“Bianca?” he whispered. It wasn’t supposed to be a whisper, but his throat was so dry he couldn’t make it any louder.

“Hazel called Daddy and said you weren’t feeling good,” Bianca told him, and Nico dropped his gaze at the mention of Will.

He cleared his throat and tried to stop acting like a child. "I’m not feeling good? You were the one in the hospital. How are you feeling?”

“I’m perfect! But...” Bianca glanced toward the door before leaning closer to Nico and whispering, “Hazel said you were sad and she didn’t know why.”

“Well, I was a little bit sad,” Nico admitted, “but now that you’re here, I’m all better.”

Bianca threw her arms up in the air and cheered. She jumped off the bed and tugged at one of Nico’s arms - the one that he’d long since taken the bandages off of - until he stood from the bed. “C’mon, Daddy wants to see you, he’s out here.”

“Hazel!” Bianca called as she ran into the living room, Nico a few steps behind her. “Nico said I made him be not sad anymore!”

“That’s great, Bianca,” Hazel told her. “Come on, I think Nico made cookies before he got sad, and there might be some left.” She took Bianca’s hand and lead her away toward the kitchen, leaving Nico and Will alone in the living room.

There was a pause, and Nico started scratching at his arm.

“I tried calling you yesterday,” Will told him, and Nico’s hand stilled on his arm, fingernails starting to dig in.

“I’m sorry,” Nico said quietly. “I must’ve slept through it.”

“Bullshit,” Will said, and Nico’s eyes shot toward the kitchen; the door was closed. He looked back toward his feet. “Hazel said you haven’t slept in days, and I can tell that’s the truth by looking at you.”

Nico shrugged, and his hand tightened on his arm.

Suddenly, Will was across the room. He ripped Nico’s hands apart, holding his wrists tightly. He stepped closer until they were practically nose-to-nose, and Nico felt his eyes drawn up to meet Will’s - for the first time in days, he saw the sky.

“Stop hurting yourself,” Will commanded, and Nico wanted to drop his eyes, but he couldn’t make himself do it. “Stop beating yourself up over this. Do you know how we found out about all of Bianca’s other allergies? Allergy testing, when she was younger. I had to watch another doctor cover Bianca’s back in little cuts, and then put small amounts of potential allergens into those cuts. She was two, maybe, and she was screaming her head off the whole time. It was terrible.  I felt like the worst person in the world to put her through that, but that wasn’t even the last of it. The next day I gave her a brownie that my mom made, and I had to rush her to the hospital to find out that she was allergic to coconut.

“I’m sorry you had to see that happen. I'm sorry you had to be the one to discover another one of her allergies, and I'm sorry that I wasn't there when it happened. I know first hand that watching that-- It’s absolutely terrifying,  but you have to stop this. She’s fine now, we just have to be more aware of what she’s eating. This wasn't your fault.”

At some point, Will’s hands had slid away from Nico’s wrists to link their fingers together. “I’m sorry for snapping at you. I never should have told you that you weren’t welcome back at home. We-- Bi misses seeing you.” He took a breath, closing his eyes for a second. “We both miss having you around, and not just for your cooking.” He met Nico’s eyes with a tiny, pleading smile. “Please come back?”

Nico felt his chest swell up when Will looked at him. Like his lungs were filling with water, or panic was rising up in him. Or maybe it was something else.

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

It was finally starting to get warm outside, and Bianca was insisting that they do something outside. Nico was frankly still a little on edge after the whole hospital visit thing. For his first few days back at the Solace household, he barely even cooked anything other than Mac and Cheese to ensure that he wasn't cooking something with one of Bianca's allergens. He didn’t want to risk Bianca getting hurt, or even catching a cold (because it wasn’t warm enough yet to not wear a coat, Princess), so instead, Nico compromised on taking her to the movies, which Bianca was just as excited about as she was to go outside and play in the rapidly melting snow drifts..

 

Nico had done his best to make sure Bianca didn’t fill up on popcorn during the movie, so he figured she’d be getting hungry once dinner time came around, and ended up preparing to cook almost as soon as they got back. Maybe tonight he'd try cooking something that didn't come straight out of a box. 

After sitting around for about two hours, Bianca had plenty of energy to get rid of, and ended up running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room as Nico chopped vegetables for their meal.

It wasn’t long until Will arrived home, and Bianca ran up to hug him with more enthusiasm than usual, crying, “Hi, Daddy! Nico took me to the movies today!”

“Really?” Will asked. “What did you see?”

Bianca bounced away from him as she said, “Moana!”

Will gasped, and Nico assumed it was for overdramatics. “You saw Moana without me?” He took a couple steps closer to Bianca, but she squealed and ran toward the living room. Will chased after her.

Bianca ran back into the kitchen, running behind Nico, giggling like crazy. “Careful,” Nico called after her, putting down the knife he was using and making sure it was away from the edge of the counter.

Just as Will stepped into the kitchen, Bianca cried, “It was Nico’s idea!”

Will and Nico made eye contact, and Nico had barely taken a step before Will took off after him. They ran around the counters, barely making it halfway around the kitchen table before Will caught Nico’s wrist, pulling him back to meet his eyes.

Nico was laughing, and Will was in awe.  Nico looked around for Bianca, pointing at her and saying, “She’s the one that picked the movie, not me!” through his laughter. Will could care less about the movie, now. All he cared about now was Nico looking back at him with those wide, happy eyes. Will could finally see the difference between Nico’s iris and pupil, the incredibly slight change in shade from the solid black of his pupils to the almost smoky blend of his irises.

“Solace?” Nico said, and he wasn’t laughing anymore, but he was still grinning up at Will. Will had never wanted to kiss somebody more than he did right now--

“Daddy!” Bianca called, and Will’s head snapped toward the sound, dropping Nico’s wrist.

Nico unfroze faster than Will, face heating up as he skirted around the other, heading back to the counter to start cooking dinner.

Will blinked a few times at Bianca before she took off running again. It didn’t take him long at all to catch her this time, quickly scooping her up and swinging her around in a circle, at one point glancing up at Nico, and seeing him quickly return to chopping the vegetables in front of him.

Chapter Text

Bianca had told Nico about a week back that Will’s birthday was coming up, giving Nico just enough time to plot.

He’d realized by now that Will couldn’t handle himself around chocolate, something that Nico was a little embarrassed to admit that he’d been using to his advantage.

At one point, Hazel had asked him why he’d baked two of the exact same cakes barely days apart, and when Nico told her they were practice for Will’s birthday cake, she said, “You know, normally, people just ask each other out, instead of doing this whole big courting thing or whatever it is you’re doing.”

Nico choked on the piece of cake he was trying. “I’m not courting him!” he insisted. The cake was good, better than the first, but still not enough. He pulled out his computer.

“You’re baking him a cake,” Hazel said. “Last week you made him brownies.”

“Those weren’t just for him,” Nico argued.

“You looked awfully smug and brownie-less when you got home that day,” Hazel pointed out. “You’re either trying to flirt or you’re trying to fatten him up for some reason.”

“It’s not either of those,” Nico told her. “He likes chocolate, his birthday is soon, I’m making him a chocolate cake. It’s nothing."

“A chocolate cake you’ve never tried making before a few days ago,” Hazel said. “And if I had to guess, I’d say you’re buying some kind of fancy chocolate to try and make the cake taste better right now.”

Nico slammed the lid of his laptop shut. “I hate you,” Nico told her without venom.

“You love me,” Hazel corrected, and as Nico turned to leave, she called out, “But you love Will more!”

Nico’s bedroom door slammed shut.

 

He had the delivery rushed, so he got the chocolate in two days, then had to make sure that Hazel was out of the house when he picked it up because Hazel couldn't know that she was right. He used half of it to make another cake at home, and knew just from the smell that Will would melt when he tasted it.

Nico wrapped up the rest of the chocolate, ready to take it to the Solace household the next day. Will’s birthday wasn’t until the twentieth, but Nico didn’t think he could wait any longer, now that he had everything he needed. He couldn’t wait to see how Will reacted.

 

He’d timed it perfectly. Will had said he’d be home around four, so Nico planned to be taking the cake out of the oven exactly at four. Bianca had helped him prepare the cake, but Nico had made sure everything had gone exactly as it had the last time he’d done this.

And, just as planned, Will walked in the door just as Nico was pulling the cake out of the oven.

Will looked like heaven had opened up before him when he smelled the cake. “What is that?"  he asked when his eyes landed on the mound of chocolate cooling on the stove.

“A chocolate lava cake,” Nico told him, trying to hide his smug smile and probably failing.

"Why?" Will asked, voice a mixture of awe and something else - like he was being tortured, like the cake was right in front of him and he was being told he couldn’t have any, had to sit there and watch Nico eat the whole thing.

“It’s a birthday present!” Bianca exclaimed. “Happy birthday!”

“My birthday’s not for, like, three days,” Will told her. “You knew that.”

“Yeah, but Nico wanted to know so he could get you something,” Bianca said, and Nico’s smug smile fell away to a faint blush.

“That’s not--”

“But why so early?” Will asked.

Nico shrugged, crossing his arms and leaning against the counter in an attempt to seem indifferent. “I figured you’d have plans on your actual birthday, and I didn’t want to interrupt that. I had all the ingredients and thought, why not?”

“I helped!” Bianca said happily.

Will bent down and kissed her forehead. “And it smells amazing. I can’t wait to try it.”

“Nico did most of it,” she told him. “He gets a kiss, too.”

Will glanced over at Nico, who was now blushing a bright pink. “You don’t--” Nico started, but Will had already stepped over to him. Will took Nico’s face in his hands and pressed a kiss to Nico’s forehead. When Will pulled back, grinning, Nico’s blush was blooming at full force. “Thank you, Nico.”

“Sure,” Nico replied quietly, eyes wide.

 

After dinner (Nico had made chicken stir fry, and Will couldn’t have hoped for a better meal for his not-birthday), during which Nico had put the cake back in the oven to keep it warm, the cake was served. A small bowl of mostly melted fudge for Bianca, a rather large piece that Will insisted he wouldn’t be able to eat all of but had had almost no problem scarfing down, and a reasonably sized piece for Nico, an almost even amount of cake and lava.

Since it had been getting late, Bianca had been told to go and brush her teeth as soon as she was done with her cake, and Will feared that she wasn’t going to sleep at all that night due to the sugar, but couldn’t let his mind stay on that thought for long.

Nico stood up from his seat, collecting Bianca’s empty bowl and taking it to the sink, along with his own. Will hurried to eat the last couple bites of his piece, licking his lips and wiping at his mouth with the back of his hands to make sure he didn’t look like a child that had made a mess, and took his bowl to the sink.

“I can do the dishes,” Will told Nico, but the other had just taken the bowl from his hands and put it in the sink with the others. “You cooked, and baked, you’re not doing the dishes, too.”

“You’re not doing the dishes on your birthday,” Nico said back, already scrubbing the chocolate out of Bianca’s bowl.

“My birthday’s not for three days,” Will argued.

Nico reached past Will to grab a towel off the counter and held it out to him. “I’ll wash, you dry.”

Will pouted, but finally agreed.

They were mostly quiet as they cleaned, aside from Will thanking Nico again for the cake, and Nico telling him it was no problem, thinking back to the three nearly identical cakes that were currently sitting in his fridge.

It didn’t take long to finish the dishes, as they had left the pans from dinner to soak for a little while, and after drying off his hands, Nico finally turned to look at Will, who practically froze. There was a small smear of chocolate lava on Nico’s lower lip, and Will felt himself die inside.

“What?” Nico asked, having realized Will was staring at him, unmoving.

“You’ve got chocolate, uh--” Will tapped at his own lip, and Nico’s tongue darted to lick at his lips, eyes staying on Will’s as he completely missed the chocolate, and Will was going to collapse.

“Good?” Nico asked, completely innocent, and Will couldn’t get his eyes to move from Nico’s lips.

“Um.” Will’s eyes flicked up to Nico’s, and for some reason, it looked like they were getting closer. Was Nico moving, or was that Will? He swallowed hard, and then his lips were on Nico’s, tongue sweeping out to taste the chocolate there, wiping Nico’s lip clean.

He jumped back as soon as he realized what he’d done, hands flying to the counter behind him, but not keeping his head from connecting with the cabinet behind him.

“Shit,” he said. “Sorry, I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I did that, ow."

After a brief death due to embarrassment, Will’s soul returned to his body to see that Nico was giggling, his eyes on Will’s.

Will’s heart stopped, and then it was pounding like crazy, and then it stopped again when Nico stepped closer. And closer.  And stayed stopped when Nico said, “Will.” He was dead. He was in heaven, and he was dead. No one’s heart can be stopped for this long and still be alive. Either he died because Nico had finally called him by his first name after months,  or that was only happening because he was dead.

Either way, he didn’t register Nico coming even closer,  until he was practically on top of Will. Nico’s hands were on his shoulders, then his neck, then his cheeks, tilting Will’s head down. “Will,” he said again, like music,  “did you maybe do it because you wanted to?”

Will couldn’t breathe.  He couldn’t speak, so he just nodded, and Nico had never smiled at him so brightly.

Nico got up on his tiptoes, still holding Will’s face toward him, and brought their faces together until they were nose to nose, and Nico whispered, “Me too.” And their lips met again. And again. And again. And Will’s hands let go of the counter and wrapped around Nico’s waist. Finally.

Will’s hands traveled up Nico’s back, down his arms, and rest over Nico’s hands on his cheeks, just covering, not removing. He tilted his head, pressing his forehead against Nico’s, and effectively cutting off any further kisses.

Nico’s eyes fluttered open, and Will felt his heart kickstart. “Stay?” Will asked.

“Tonight?” Nico asked, and Will noticed he was panting slightly, feeling a faint surge of pride well up inside himself; he’d done that. “Or forever?”

Will laughed. He couldn’t help himself, he was so happy.  “Whichever.”

“Not tonight,” Nico said after a short pause, his eyes falling away from Will’s before snapping back up. “It’s not your birthday yet." Will felt his entire body catch on fire when Nico smirked. “But soon. I just-- Not tonight.”

“Okay,” Will said, and he pressed another kiss to Nico’s lips. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

Nico spent the few days between Will's Not-Birthday and Real Birthday at the Solace household despite the fact that Will had taken the weekend off, though he never really stayed later than about nine o'clock. One of those nights, however (the last night before Will turned twenty-nine, godhe was old), as Nico was just starting to get ready to leave, Will wrapped his arms around Nico's waist from behind. "Don't leave," he said into the juncture of Nico's shoulder and neck.

Nico turned around in his arms, hands reaching up to rest on Will's shoulders. "What was that?" he asked.

Will's tongue seemed to tie itself into a knot as he tried to speak again, feeling his face heat up as he realized they'd been staring at each other silently for almost a minute now. "You should stay here tonight."

Nico cocked his head to the side, grinning up at Will. He drew a hand up to the back of Will's neck, fingers beginning to twist in the blond curls of his hair. "Are you sure about that? You seem kinda nervous."

"I'm sure," Will answered, cheeks still glowing a bright red.

"Because I could always sleep in the guest room," Nico offered teasingly. "If you think this is weird or something. Like, if we're moving too fast?"

"No," Will said quickly, arms tightening around Nico's waist. "I want you with me. I-in my room."

Nico beamed up at him, cupping his cheek with a hand and pressing a gentle kiss to Will's lips. "Good. That's exactly what I wanted to hear."

"Yeah?" Will asked, nervousness dissipating until he felt completely relaxed. 

"Yeah," Nico responded. "You have no idea how long I've been waiting to hear you say that."

 

Will had woken up at one point in the middle of the night due to something tickling his chin in his sleep. It was too dark to see what exactly it was, but when Will moved to brush whatever it was away, his hand got tangled in soft hair that he realized must’ve been Nico’s. That would have also explained the weight he felt all along his right side. He left his fingers locked in the soft locks, too tired to deal with it now, and fell back asleep.

 

The next time he woke up, his hand was free and the weight was gone from his side, but it seemed to have just moved to his stomach. His eyes fluttered open, noticing first how bright the room was compared to the last time he’d been awake, and next the grinning face hovering above his own.

“Good morning,” he said, voice gravelly from sleep.

“Good morning, Sunshine,” Nico said, swooping down to press a warm kiss to Will’s lips.

Will hummed. “I could get used to being woken up like this,” he said, and Nico blew a raspberry into his neck. “Hey!” Will tried, but Nico only started laughing.

Will wrapped his arms around him, rolling them over so he was on top, and smushed his face into the side of Nico’s neck.

“Get off!” Nico laughed, shoving uselessly at Will’s shoulders.

“Nope, still tired,” Will said, and started pressing kisses to Nico’s neck.

Nico wiggled around until they were laying on their sides, forcing Will away from his neck and getting him to look Nico in the eyes.

“Sunshine,” Nico started, but Will cut him off with a kiss.

“I love it when you call me Sunshine,” Will told him, and Nico grinned.

“I thought you might,” he said, kissing Will quickly before continuing, “Happy birthday, Sunshine.”

Will hummed again, burrowing down until his nose was pressed into the divot between Nico’s collarbones. “Best birthday ever,” he said with a smile.

“It’s not even noon yet,” Nico told him.

“Doesn’t matter.”

Chapter Text

Will woke up one morning - a Sunday morning, where he should’ve been able to get at least another hour of sleep - to the feeling of his mattress shaking and cries of, “Daddy, Nico, I know what I want for my birthday!”

Will cracked his eyes open just in time to see Nico sitting up and pulling Bianca down into his lap. “Don’t jump on the bed, Bi, you could break it,” Nico told her softly.

Bianca gazed up at him with a frown. “But I’ve heard you and Daddy jumping on the bed before.”

Nico’s eyes widened, face burning bright red, and Will tried to hide his smile in his pillow. Nico opened his mouth to speak, but shut it again so quickly that Will heard his teeth click.

Will sat up, lifting Bianca off of Nico’s lap and setting her between them. “Nobody’s gonna be jumping on the beds anymore, okay?” Will said. “Now, what is it that you want for you birthday?”

“Earrings!” she cried.

Will frowned. “Bi, if you wanna wear earrings then you gotta get little holes poked in your ears.”

“My friend Zoe has earrings,” Bianca told him with a pout. “I want earrings, too!”

Will glanced up at Nico, who was now significantly less red than before. “I’m not even sure I know where you can get your ears pierced.”

“I do,” Nico said, and quickly followed it with, “Your birthday’s not for another week, though, Princess. How about we do it on your actual birthday, not right now.”

“Okay,” she agreed with a nod. “Will you make breakfast soon, Nico?”

“Sure,” he said. “What do you want? Pancakes?”

“Yeah!”

“Why don’t you start pulling the ingredients out, and I’ll be out there in just a minute.”

“Okay,” Bianca said, and climbed over Nico’s lap to get out of bed.

As soon as she was out of the room, Nico held his head in his hands and groaned loudly. “Oh my god,  I’m so embarrassed.”

Will wrapped his arms around his boyfriend and pulled him close. “It’s not like she knew what we were really doing, babe, she’s six.”

“I don’t care,"  he moaned.

Will laughed, pressing a kiss to the top of Nico’s head. “How do you know where to get ears pierced, anyway?”

“No reason,” Nico muttered after a short pause.

“Oh my god,” Will started, cupping Nico’s cheek and turning his head to face him. “You had your ears pierced, didn’t you?”

Nico’s cheeks grew pink again. “Maybe.”

“You did!"

“Fine, yes,  I did,"  Nico told him, rolling his eyes. “But the holes closed up a few years ago.”

Will pulled him in for a kiss. “That’s a shame, you know? I bet you’d look really hot with earrings.”

Nico ducked his head and shoved at Will’s chest just enough for his boyfriend to release his hold. “I have pancakes to make.”

 

Sometimes, Will hated his job. Only sometimes, but when those few times came around, he really hated it. Like when he was scheduled to work on Halloween, or when he couldn’t go to Career Day at Bianca’s school. Or when he specifically asked for a certain day off, but somebody called in sick and Will was the only person that could take over for them.

Those were the days that Will’s job sucked the most.

When he told Bianca, she started crying.

“But it’s my birthday, Daddy!” Bianca pleaded. “You can’t go to work today, you have to come with us!"

“I wish I could, Bi,” Will told her gently, “But I have to go help people. I promise, I’ll meet you somewhere for dinner or something, okay? And maybe you can invite one of your friends to go with you. That sounds like fun, right?”

“I want you to go with us!” Bianca shouted before turning around and running out of the room. Will froze where he was, kneeling on the ground, and flinched when he heard Bianca’s bedroom door slam shut.

Will rose slowly, head hanging, and went to finish getting ready for work. Nico stopped him in the kitchen, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend’s waist and tucking his head under Will's chin.

“I love my job.” Will’s voice sounded hollow, like he wasn’t even trying to convince himself anymore.

Nico tipped his head up so that Will could rest his forehead against his. “You’re allowed to hate it sometimes. Now’s a pretty good time to hate it.”

“Why today?” Will complained, twisting his fingers in Nico’s belt loops just so that his arms weren’t hanging limp. “Why not yesterday? Or tomorrow?” He squeezed his eyes shut. “God, she probably hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you,” Nico assured him. “She’s just upset. She’s a kid, you can’t take what she says to heart.”

“But she’s my kid,” Will started, only for Nico to cut him off.

“Exactly, she’s your kid, so you know she’s gonna love you no matter what,” Nico told him. “She’s upset now, but she’s gonna be fine.  Maybe later today, maybe tomorrow. She’s not going to be angry forever.”

Will wrapped his arms around Nico’s back, pulling him in for a hug and setting his forehead on Nico’s shoulder. “Thank you, Nico,” Will said. I love you, Nico, he wanted to say, but now didn’t seem like the right time.

 

Will left for work, and about an hour later, Nico had gotten Bianca calmed down enough that they left for the mall. He hadn’t set foot in a Claire’s since he was sixteen; he’d felt out of place then and he felt out of place now.

They walked right up to the counter anyway, and Nico said to the girl standing there, “Is there any way she can get her ears pierced today?”

The girl glanced over the counter and smiled down at Bianca, who was gripping Nico’s hand tightly. “Absolutely!” She reached under the counter and pulled out a paper and a pen, setting them down in front of Nico. “We just need a parent or guardian to fill out this form.”

Nico took the pen, freezing at the sight of the form. He most certainly was not a parent or guardian, but he couldn’t break Bianca’s heart twice in one day.

“Everything alright?” the worker asked, eyeing Nico suspiciously.

“Yeah,” Nico said with a start. “I just, uh, wasn’t expecting such an extensive form.”

She nodded, keeping her eyes on Nico for a second longer before smiling down at Bianca again. “Do you wanna come with me and pick out your first pair of earrings?”

Bianca looked up at Nico. “Can I?”

“Of course, Princess, just don’t leave the store,” Nico told her, and Bianca ran off to follow the worker.

He filled out the form as best he could, but for the life of him could not remember Will’s address. After practically living there at this point, he thought he would have it memorized, but apparently not. Why did stupid Claire’s need their address, anyway?

He slipped his phone out of his pocket, scrolling hastily through his emails until he found one of the first emails Will had ever sent him, listing their address and a few other details that Nico could add to the form.

He scribbled everything onto the paper, dropping his phone back into his pocket just as Bianca reappeared with the worker.

“Any problems?” she asked.

“Nope,” Nico told her, handing back the paper and pen. “Just finished.”

The worker pointed over Nico’s shoulder to a tall chair sitting up against the wall. “If you two want to wait over there for a few minutes, someone will be right over.”

Nico led Bianca over to the chair, lifting her up into it. Bianca started swinging her legs excitedly, staring down at the earrings she’d picked out - pearls, it looked like.

“How does it work, Nico?” Bianca asked.

“See how the backs of the earrings are pointy?” he started. “They take a little thing that looks kinda like a hot glue gun and they poke a hole right through your ear.”

Bianca’s eyes widened. “Does it hurt?”

Nico shook his head. “Not really. Maybe for a second.”

Bianca’s eyes dropped back to the earrings in her hand, a frown forming on her lips. “Nico, I don’t wanna do it if it hurts!”

“It’s not bad, Princess, I promise,” Nico told her, but when she didn’t appear any less afraid, Nico said, “What if I do it, too? Then you can see that it doesn’t hurt.”

Bianca nodded.

“Okay,” Nico said, holding back a sigh. “Why don’t you go back to where you found those earrings and you can pick some out for me.”

“Really?” Bianca asked.

“Yeah, why not,” Nico answered. “Something you think I’d like, though. If they’re pink, I’ll find my own pair.”

Bianca laughed. “Okay!” And Nico helped her down from the chair. She ran off to find the earrings again, and Nico returned to the counter where the same girl was still standing.

“There’s a slight change of plans,” Nico started, planting his hands on the counter. “She’s a little bit scared, so can I get my ears pierced first, so she can see that it’s not a big deal?”

The girl smiled. “That might be the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. Of course you can!” She pulled out another form, similar to the first but not quite the same. “Here’s a form for you, and when you’re done, we can pick out the earrings you want.”

“Actually, she’s picking them out for me,” Nico started, already scribbling his information down on the form, “and she’s probably going to need some help with that, if you wouldn’t mind?”

“No problem!”

 

When Nico first got his ears pierced when he was sixteen, it was part of some teen-angst-rebellion thing he was doing, and he’d done it himself in his bedroom with a needle, because his father refused to sign the waivers (and also refused to even set foot inside of a Claire's).

The second time was the day he turned eighteen and Jason had said he’d get Nico whatever he wanted for under a hundred bucks, so Nico got an industrial piercing that looked like a sword going through the shell of his ear. He thought that one looked pretty cool until somebody told him it looked like one of those toothpick swords that hold sandwiches together, so he stopped wearing it. Whenever somebody asked why he stopped, though, he would tell them that it rubbed painfully against the arm of his glasses.

Jason still had some money left over after that, so Nico got a lip ring while he was at it.

The last one had been on his twentieth birthday, when Percy convinced him to get his tongue pierced, and then made fun of him for it for about a month. Apparently the guy that did the piercing did it too far forward, so it ended up giving Nico a lisp. He didn’t keep that one in very long, but he was pretty sure the hole was still there.

So now here he was, getting his ears pierced once again with a pair of tiny silver studs that Bianca and picked out for him. He barely flinched at the little sting of pain when the earring poked through his skin, more startled by the loud puff of compressed air coming from the earring gun.

He was done in no time, so he hopped out of the chair and knelt down in front of Bianca for her to see.

“Pretty!” she exclaimed.

“It’s your turn now,” Nico reminded her. “Ready?”

“Promise it doesn’t hurt?” Bianca asked.

“Did it look like it hurt?” he asked, and Bianca shook her head. Nico took one of her hands and lightly pinched the back of it with his fingers. “It’s like that. It’s nothing, right?”

Bianca nodded. “Okay. I’m ready.”

Nico lifted her up into the chair and the worker started rubbing at her ears with sanitizing wipes.

“Will you hold my hand?” Bianca asked, making grabbing motions in Nico’s direction.

“Of course, Princess.” He took her hand, and she squeezed it when the first earring went through.

“That hurt more than you said it would,” Bianca complained.

“But it’s not too bad, right?” Nico asked, squeezing her hand gently, only for her to squeeze back when the second earring when through.

“All done!” the worker said, stepping back. “You can come pay at the counter whenever you’re ready.”

Nico lifted Bianca out of the chair, kneeling down in front of her, brushing away a tear before it rolled down her cheek. “Now you really look like a princess, Princess.”

Bianca beamed at him.

 

Will was still at work when Nico and Bianca returned home from the mall, which meant that Nico had time to dig through his backpack to see if he happened to have any of his previous jewelry on him.

Luckily, through a thorough search of the bag’s contents, Nico found a tiny box that contained his favorite pair of earrings (which had been his sister Bianca’s), the sword he wore through his industrial piercing, the lip ring he could no longer wear because the hole closed up, and finally the single black stud that always sat too far forward on his tongue.

He stepped into the bathroom, remembering to grab the Claire’s Earring Solution on his way, and let the jewelry soak as he tied his hair back into a stubby ponytail. He rinsed the solution off the sword in the sink before carefully placing it through the shell of his ear, and repeated his actions when he set the stud in his tongue.

It felt weird to have both pieces back in place after a few years, and Nico could taste the residue from the earring solution on his tongue, but when he looked at himself in the mirror, tongue sticking out to show off the stud, he couldn’t help but grin.

He stepped back into the hall, he could see Bianca sitting on the ground in front of the couch with the TV on in front of her as she colored in a picture on the coffee table. Nico sat down across from her, asking, “Can I have a picture to color?”

Bianca nodded, pushing her coloring book toward him. “You can pick one.”

Nico took the book - it was full of Disney characters, it seemed, though nothing later than 2009, probably - flipping through the pages quickly until he settled on a simple picture of Mickey Mouse. “Can I take this one?” he asked, doing his best to ignore the slight lisp his tongue ring gave him.

Bianca nodded again, taking the book and ripping the page out, handing the single sheet back to him. As Nico picked up a crayon and started to color, Bianca said, “What’s that in your ear?”

Nico smiled at her. “An earring, like what you have.”

“But it’s different,” Bianca pointed out. “You didn’t have that earlier. It’s like you’ve got a sword in your ear!”

“I do.”

“Can I see it?” Bianca asked, and Nico leaned over the table, ear first, so that she could get a better look.

“It hurt to put in, like your earrings did, so be careful,” Nico told her, making a face at the way his voice sounded to himself with the stupid lisp.

“You’re talking funny, too,” Bianca said as Nico sat back to look at her. “A sword in your ear shouldn’t make you talk funny, right?”

Nico thought for maybe half a second that he should scold her for making fun of the way he talked, but figured that since he couldn’t even properly say scold,  he shouldn’t bother. “Nope, not the sword,” he told her, and he stuck his tongue out at her.

“Whoa, cool!” Bianca cried, eyes widening. “Is that like an earring in your tongue?”

Nico nodded, closing his mouth.

“Can I get one of those, too?”

He laughed, reaching over to ruffle Bianca’s hair. “Maybe when you’re older, Princess. Now, how about you tell me what you want for your big birthday dinner?”

 

Nico was cooking when Will got home, which seemed to usually be the case. Bianca had wanted homemade macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, which was a strange combination, but Nico was happy to make it for her. He had just set two pots to boil when Will walked in the door.

“Is she still mad at me?” Will asked in lieu of a greeting, staring off in the direction of the living room.

Nico shrugged. “Probably not.”

“Nico,” Will whined, but froze when he glanced over at his boyfriend. “Is that-- Did you…?”

“Maybe,” Nico said with a grin, turning to face Will fully. He reached up, cupping Will’s cheek and dragged him down to his level. “But wait, there's more,” he said, and drew their lips together in a kiss, slipping his tongue past Will’s teeth and letting the stud swipe against the roof of Will’s mouth.

When Nico pulled back, Will looked - for lack of a better word - surprised, and maybe a little bit turned on, though his voice seemed almost shaky when he asked, “What was that?”

Nico stuck his tongue out for a moment before saying, “Well, you seemed so interested this morning.” His lazy grin fell away almost immediately as he realized what he’d said - how he’d said it, lisp and all - and turned away quickly as his cheeks started heating up.

“Oh my god,” Will breathed, wrapping his arms around Nico’s waist from behind. “Say that again and tell me I’m not dreaming.”

“No,” Nico refused, busying himself with shredding a block of cheese into a dish for after the pasta was cooked.

“Please?” Will tried again, chin resting on Nico’s shoulder.

“Leave me alone, Solace,” Nico said, realizing his mistake as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

"Oh my god,” Will said again, pressing a smiling kiss to the side of Nico’s neck. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that my boyfriend - my hotter than hell boyfriend - is also the most adorable man on the planet.”

“Go away,” Nico laughed, trying and failing to shove Will off of him. “Or no dinner for you.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Will gasped, pretending to be shocked.

“I would,” Nico insisted. “Besides, dinner won’t be anywhere near as interesting to you when I have to take the stud out.”

“The thud?” Will teased.

“Shut up, oh my god.”

“Fine, fine,” Will relented, though he didn’t move away. After a short pause, he said, in a low voice, “You know, I wouldn’t be opposed to you wearing that to bed tonight, if you know what I mean.”

Nico turned around in Will’s arms, staring up at him with a dead-serious look in his eyes. “We don’t jump on the bed anymore, William.”

Will lasted only a few seconds before his lips cracked into a smile and he dove down to peck Nico on the lips. “You’re a dork.”

Chapter Text

Nico was cooking. Will didn’t know what, but as always, it smelled amazing. But that didn’t matter. The food wasn’t why he was here. He walked up behind his boyfriend - his boyfriend! It had been over a month now and he still couldn’t believe it - and wound his arms around his waist.

“It’s not done yet, Sunshine,” Nico told him, stirring around the contents of the pan.

“I know,” Will said, pressing kisses down the column of Nico’s neck. “I wanna talk to you about something.”

Nico tilted his head to the side, allowing Will more room. “Yes?”

He pulled Nico back slightly. “I wanna make sure I have your full attention, first.”

“Then maybe now isn’t the best time to do it,” Nico said with a little laugh, but he turned off the burner anyway, putting down the spoon he’d been using, and turned in Will’s arms. “Is this better?”

“Much.” Will slipped his arms from around Nico’s waist, taking one of his hands in both of his own, and dropping down onto his knees.

“Will,” Nico said, eyes widening.

“Nico,” Will said back, keeping their eyes locked. “I know it hasn’t been long--”

"Solace," Nico tried again, tugging his hand away, but Will held tighter.

“Shh, none of that. It hasn’t been long, but that doesn’t matter to me, and he don’t have to do anything now,  but I want you to know that the offer’s there.” Nico’s hand was shaking between Will’s. “Nico, I want you to move in with me.”

“What?” the other said, clearly not expecting this.

“Move in with me,” Will said again. “It doesn’t have to be now, it doesn’t have to be any time soon, but I want to wake up next to you every morning, and fall asleep with you at night, and not have to go days without seeing you.”

Nico rubbed his free hand down his face. “You asshole,"  he whispered, tugging Will to his feet and wrapping his arms around him. “You know the whole getting on your knees thing is for proposals, right?”

“This was a kind of proposal,” Will said, pulling back enough that he could look Nico in the eyes. “And I suppose I wouldn’t mind if that offer was on the table as well, since that’s clearly where you think this relationship is going.” Will grinned when Nico glared up at him, then leaned down to press a kiss to his lips. “What do you say?”

Nico thought for a second. “Eventually, yes. Maybe not right now, but sometime. Soon, maybe, but on one condition.”

“Anything,” Will told him, and Nico knew that he meant it.

“We’re redecorating the bathroom.”

That...was not what Will was expecting. “What?”

“Beach themed bathrooms are literally the most disgusting thing in the world to me, and I refuse to permanently live in a house that has one.” It seemed to Will like this was something Nico had said before, and it probably was.

“I’ll redecorate the bathroom right this second if it gets you moved in here sooner,” Will told him, and Nico didn’t know you could see stars in a blue sky, but they were there.

“Okay,” Nico said, and loosened his hold on his boyfriend - his boyfriend, even he couldn’t believe it. “You do that, and let me get back to dinner.” Will was beaming.

Chapter Text

Never once had someone knocked on the door when Nico was at the Solace household. (He still called it that in his head, despite having lived there for close to a month now. It wasn’t something that was supposed to separate himself from the household, it was something more along the lines of him being more of a Solace than he used to be.)

Never once had someone ever knocked on the door until now.

At first, Nico wasn’t even sure what the noise was until it came again, and Bianca had said, “Nico, there’s somebody here.” It was then that Nico actually stood. He hesitated before actually walking to the door, and even then paused with his hand hovering over the doorknob. He didn’t think he’d ever answered a door since... Bianca.  And he had flashes in his mind, then, of that night, except instead of Bianca, it was Will. His mind flickered between the two images: his sister, the first person that he ever loved, and Will, who he planned to love until his last breath (which  might happen sooner than you think,  his mind supplied unhelpfully).

He felt Bianca tug at his pant leg. She was hiding behind him, waiting for him to open the door. Nico gripped the doorknob finally, and ripped open the door, like a bandaid. Better to get it over with.

Before him, there was no broken figure with freckles like constellations and eyes like the sky. There was no drunk slurring his words. Instead, there was a man that didn’t look unlike Will. He was taller, and Nico had to assume he was older, but his age almost seemed like an illusion, hard to grasp and more fluid than solid. He had blond hair like Will’s, but straighter, and Will’s tan skin. He lacked the freckles, though, and he had dark aviator sunglasses shielding his eyes.

“Hello?” Nico asked, increasingly aware of Bianca gripping his pant leg.

The man smirked. “He llo,"  he said, leaning ever-so-slightly toward Nico, and then crouching down to get at eye-level with Bianca. “And hello, Bianca.”

“Who are you?” Nico demanded, placing a gentle hand on Bianca’s head and nudging her further behind him.

“This is Will Solace’s home, correct?” he confirmed, though Nico refused to answer. “I’m his father. You can call me Apollo. And what might I call you?"

Nico could detect the flirting in his tone. “Uninterested. Will’s not here, and I’d like it if you left.”

“When might he be back?” Apollo asked as he took of his sunglasses, hooking them in the collar of his shirt. His eyes were almost like Will’s, the same bright blue, but colder. More like a glacier than the sky.

“Why don’t you leave and never find out?” Nico suggested.

Apollo leaned in closer, matching Nico’s glare. “Why don’t you let a dying man into his own son’s home?” He smirked when Nico’s gaze faltered, and pushed himself into the home.

 

Nico didn’t make the call until Apollo had left the room to use the bathroom.

“Will,” he said to his boyfriend’s voicemail. “This man showed up at the house and said he was your father. His name’s Apollo, I wouldn’t have believed him, but...he looks so much like you. I didn’t want to let him in, but he said-- He told me he’s dying, Will, and I let my guard down, and now he’s in the house, and he won’t leave until he sees you. I’m sorry, I know you hate him. I won’t let him alone with Bianca, I promise, but please hurry home.”

He hung up the phone and looked at the time. Half an hour until Will’s shift ended, that's what Will had told him that morning, and close to another half hour after that until he got home. Nico could survive that long. He could protect Bianca for that long.

He heard the bathroom door open, and Nico locked his eyes on Bianca until Apollo was back within his line of sight. Apollo smirked at him when he realized Nico was watching him, and Nico was immediately unsettled. He didn’t understand how Will’s father could look so young.  Apollo had to be close to fifty, at least,  but he looked like he could be Will’s age.

“Bianca, can you go play in your room until Daddy gets home?” Nico said, and Bianca jumped up off the floor and hurried to her room, closing the door behind her.

Apollo hummed, eyes scanning Nico up and down. “I’d love it if you called me Daddy,” he said, and Nico almost threw up.

“Listen, Apollo,  don’t think Will hasn’t told me what an asshole you are,” Nico hissed at him, but kept his distance. “Not that I would need him to, I can tell for myself already.”

“Really,” Apollo drawled, sauntering closer. “And what might you be to my son? Not just a babysitter, clearly. You must be close if he’s told you about me. Not a husband, either, I would know if my own son was married.”

“I find it hard to believe he’d tell you,” Nico shot back, arms crossed.

“You think he told me his address?” Apollo laughed. “Please, I have my ways of finding these things out. So if you’re not his husband, what are you? The boyfriend? I must say, I never pictured Will settling down with a man, and I suppose I could still change that.” He smirked once again as he came closer.

“You’re disgusting,” Nico told him, though he refused to step away and appear weak. “Don’t come any closer to me.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I’ll call the police, I swear I will.”

Apollo shot out a hand a grabbed Nico’s wrist. “I have a hard time believing Will found himself such a pretty boy.  Are you just his thing on the side? Will seems like the kind that would take after his father, don’t you think?”

Nico thrashed against him, trying to get his arm away. “Get off of me!” he demanded, and he heard the front door open.

“Nico, who’s car is that in the driveway?” Will’s voice called, and Nico cried out as Apollo’s hand tightened on his wrist, grinding the bones together. “Nico?”

Apollo released Nico’s wrist before Will could come around the corner. “Nico, a beautiful name. Italian, right?”

Will approached quickly and evenly, stepping right in between Apollo and Nico, and wrapping one hand around Apollo’s throat. “Don’t think I didn’t see that,” Will growled right in his face. “Keep your hands off of him. You don’t touch him or my daughter ever,  you hear me?” Will shoved him back, and Apollo laughed . “What could you possibly think is so funny?”

Your daughter. Adorable!” Apollo said. “You’ve really taken your role as guardian to heart, haven’t you?”

Nico tugged lightly on the back of Will’s scrub shirt. “What does he mean?”

“Why, Nico, didn’t William ever tell you?” Apollo laughed. “You’re almost as much Bianca’s father as he is. The only person here who holds the true title is me."

“What?” Nico asked, more confused than anything, but he could see Will’s clenched fists at his sides. Will was seething.

“She’s my daughter, I raised her, not you,"  Will hissed through clenched teeth. “If you’ve come here solely to anger me, then you can leave."

“Of course not,” Apollo told him. “Can’t a man visit his children? I heard you’d moved, and wanted to check in. Is that so bad?”

“Yes,” Will said. “You’ve checked in. Now leave.”

“But we haven’t even gotten a chance to catch up.”

“Nico, call the police,” Will said, not taking his eyes off the man that was his father only biologically, and in no other sense of the word. “I want you out of my house right now."

Nico had his phone out, ready to dial, when Apollo finally said, “Fine, alright. No reason to get the police involved. Can I at least say goodbye to my daughter, first?”

“As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have any daughters,” Will said, and pointed toward the door. “Please, let the door hit you on your way out.”

Apollo was gone, and Bianca was brought out of her room. Nico allowed himself to take a breath, and Will finally turned his phone on to see the voicemail Nico had left him. He shot the other an apologetic look as he listened to the message.

“I’m so sorry, Nico,” Will said as he put his phone away. “I forgot to turn my phone back on after I left work, I’m sorry. Apollo-- he was lying. He uses the ‘dying’ excuse a lot, it’s like his default. I’ve even asked Austin and Kayla, they’ve heard it, too.”

“It’s okay,” Nico told him. “I-- I’m sorry. I never should’ve let him in the house, I know you hate him and that he’s a terrible person, I guess I just didn’t realize how terrible.”

“No, it’s fine, Nico.” Will went to sit on the couch, pulling Bianca into his lap and hugging her. “I'm just glad you're both okay. I don’t... I don’t like him knowing that we’re here. I don’t think I feel comfortable sleeping here tonight.”

“I can call Hazel,” Nico offered. “Frank hasn’t moved in yet, I don’t think. I can ask her if we can stay there for the night.”

Will gave him a small smile. “What do you think, Bi? You wanna sleep over at Hazel’s tonight?”

Bianca nodded. She’d been quiet since Will got home. Nico pulled out his phone and called his sister.

 

The three of them were packed for the night and over at Nico’s old home within the hour. Nico made dinner with Bianca’s help, and Will informed Hazel of what had happened. “Oh, you poor things,” Hazel had said to him when he was finished. “You can stay here as long as you need. Besides, I’ve been missing Nico’s cooking.” Will didn’t understand how he ever could’ve disliked her.

Bianca had insisted, later that night, that she was okay sleeping on the couch in the living room. Nico had made sure she knew which room he and Will would be in, in case she got scared, and gave her a kiss goodnight before heading off to his old room.

Most things were as he’d left them; no reason to move anything other than his clothes to Will’s house, really, so the bed seemed like it had been waiting for him. He sat on the edge of the mattress, waiting for Will to come in after saying his own goodnight to Bianca.

Will walked in a few moments later, nudging the door shut with his foot as he yawned, stretching his arms over his head. He went right past Nico, falling onto the bed and rolling all the way over to the wall and pulling the blankets up around him.

Nico rolled his eyes at the other, turning off the lap beside the bed and crawled under the covers himself. Will’s arm snuck around his waist and pulled him closer.

“Will?” Nico asked into the dark. Will hummed. Nico paused, trying to figure out how to word his question.

“Nico?” Will prompted.

“Bianca’s not--” Nico tried, but stopped himself. “She’s--”

“Biologically,” Will cut in, eyes still closed like he was about to fall asleep at any second, “Bianca is my half-sister. Legally, I am her guardian. For all she knows, I’m her dad, and that’s all that matters.”

Nico nodded, resting his forehead against Will’s collarbone. He was quiet again for a little while, so long that Will might’ve fallen asleep, so when he spoke again, it was a whisper. “Will?”

Will hummed again, and this time Nico could tell how tired he was. “Never mind. It can wait.”

That seemed to wake Will up. He put one hand on Nico’s cheek and tried to find his eyes in the dark. “What is it?”

Nico took a breath. “I don’t want to talk about it, but we need to.” He felt Will tense up. “Talking to Hazel earlier reminded me of this. The only reason she came to live with my dad and I was because no one had adopted her, so Child Services sent her to whatever family they could find. If-- If something happened to you, Bianca would be given to Apollo.”

“Nothing’s gonna happen to me,” Will told him, pressing a kiss to Nico’s forehead.

“But it might,"  Nico insisted. “The last thing I want is for you to be gone, Will, but if I lost you and Bianca, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“What are you saying?” Will asked.

“I... I want to adopt Bianca. Then it’ll make sense for me to go to parent functions at school, and I can take her to doctor’s appointments if you can’t make it, and if she ends up in the emergency room again, they'll let me stay with her, and she won’t get taken away if something happens--” He took a breath, tilting his head down and pressing it into the divot between Will’s collarbones. “I want to adopt Bianca."

“That’s...” Will started. “I think that’s a great idea. We can talk to her about it in the morning, okay?”

Nico nodded, pressing himself closer to his boyfriend and wrapping an arm around his back. Will kissed the top of his head.

“You’re gonna be a great dad,” Will muttered, and then he was asleep.

Chapter Text

Will had promised Bianca that he’d try his best to make it to the parent/teacher conferences that night, but just in case, Nico was going to take her anyway, and then the two of them could tell Will all about all the awesome things Bianca was learning about (Will didn’t really know what happened at a parent/teacher conference. His mom had gone to the ones in Tennessee, since Will could never make it himself).

So when the time came that parents were gathering in the hallway outside of the classroom, ready to get in and get out quick, Nico and Bianca were sitting together on the floor, leaning against the wall opposite the classroom door.

Bianca kept tugging at her hair nervously, and Nico repeatedly checked his phone, looking at the time and hoping for a new text from Will, but one never came.

“I’m sure he’ll be here, Princess,” Nico said to Bianca, but she didn’t respond.

Just then, the classroom door opened and a family emerged - Jessica’s, if Nico remembered correctly, with one of the wine moms and a dad who looked like a douche. Nico and Bianca were the first things the two parents saw upon exiting the room, and they sneered in unison. The wine mom just turned her nose away and led Jessica down the hall towards the doors, but the dad stopped, looking down at them with distaste.

“Are you even old enough to have a six year old?” he asked.

Nico kept a neutral expression on face as he replied, “Biologically, yeah. Sorry, you must’ve been a late bloomer, right? Let’s hope that’s not genetic.”

The man glared down at him. “How dare--”

“I’m seven!” Bianca shouted at him, and Nico had never been more proud of the glare in her eyes.

“Also, biologically,” Nico started, tipping his head in Bianca’s direction, “not mine. Thanks for your unwanted opinion, though.”

The man, now fuming, turned to leave. As Nico’s eyes flicked over to the doors at the end of the hall once again, he saw a familiar blond making his way into the building.

He turned to Bianca, nudging her lightly with his elbow. “Hey, look who’s over there.”

Bianca looked around Nico and jumped off the ground when she saw what he meant. “Daddy!” she cried, running to meet him.

“Hi, Bi!” Will said as he hugged her. “Sorry I’m late, I didn’t miss it, right?”

“Nope, still waiting,” Bianca told him, and she pulled Will towards where Nico was sitting. Will slid down along the wall until he was sitting next to Nico, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and pressing a kiss high up on his cheek bone. Nico grinned at him.

“What’s got you all smiley?” Will asked as Bianca made herself comfortable back at Nico’s side.

“We made some dad angry,” Nico said, and he was beaming up at Will, and Will fell a little bit more in love.

“Yeah? And how’d you manage that?” Will didn’t really care about the details, he just wanted to keep Nico smiling like that for as long as he could.

“He was being condescending and telling me I couldn’t possibly be old enough to have a six year old, so I insulted him using words that are not a part of most first grader’s vocabulary,” Nico told him, leaning fully against Will’s side.

“I hope he was ashamed of himself,” Will said, and Nico snickered.

The classroom door opened again (Nico hadn’t even realized that another family had gone inside, but he guessed it had been a while since the last family had left) and out walked-- No, this one was Jessica’s mom. Nico had a hard time keeping the wine moms straight, seeing as they were all fake-tanned bleach-blondes with the same haircut, but Nico distinctly remembered Jessica’s mom being single, only due to the fact that she’d hit on him that one time. He nearly gagged at the thought.

She, too, turned her nose up when she spotted them, but instead of turning to leave quietly like the last mom, she spit out, “Disgusting homos,” in their direction.

“Not actually gay, and you shouldn’t just go around assuming things,” Will told her kindly.

“I am,” Nico said with a smirk, pulling Will’s head down and pressing a kiss to the underside of his jaw. “But you know what they say when you assume.”

The mom scoffed and guided Jessica away quickly as Nico and Will burst into a fit of giggles.

“Doctor Solace,” a voice came from in front of them, and Will looked up, unable to completely stop his laughter. “It’s nice of you to be able to make it tonight, I know Bianca was anxious about it. Would the three of you like to come inside?”

Will and Bianca immediately picked themselves off the ground, but Nico gave a wide-eyed expression. “I don’t--”

“Yes, you, too, Mr. di Angelo,” the teacher insisted, and Nico was pulled to his feet.

The teacher took her seat back behind her desk, and Nico, Will, and Bianca took the three seats on the other side, Bianca between the two adults.

“Now, Mr. di Angelo, I believe I’ve heard that we have you to thank for the rise in Bianca’s Lexile score,” the teacher started.

“Lexile?” Nico asked, unfamiliar with the term.

“Her reading and comprehension. Actually, the scores on most of her tests are all coming back with exponentially better scores, and even her enthusiasm for school in general has increased.”

“That’s amazing to hear,” Will said with a wide smile.

“There is just one small thing that I’m concerned about, though, and that would be the nature of her home life,” the teacher continued, and Will visibly deflated.

“This isn’t about the whole--” he gestured between himself and Nico “--thing, right?”

“Not...exactly,” the teacher assured him. “While Bianca will need a strong female influence in her life later on, I’d say that the influences she has now are better than what most students in my class have.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Nico asked. He felt as if there was an insult hidden somewhere in her words, but he was having a tough time figuring out just what it was.

“There are a few occasions where Bianca has gotten these...moods.” The teacher pulled out a small notebook, flipping it open to the page she wanted. “Nothing bad, no misbehavioral fits or anything, just unusual bouts of quiet, almost as if she’s too tired to participate. I’ve written down a few dates, and I was hoping you could help me pinpoint the problem.” She looked down at her notebook. “Do you remember anything different unusual happened on February twenty-third?”

Nico looked down at his shoes as he remembered the date, and Will answered, “We had had a little hospital visit the day before. It wasn’t anything too serious, just an allergic reaction, but we had been there pretty late.”

“So perhaps the twenty-fourth is for the same reason?”

“Most likely,” Will said, looking towards Bianca and Nico. They looked almost identical in the way they were sitting: feet planted on the ground, hands held tightly in their laps, head hung and looking toward the floor. Nico, he could understand; he always had this guilty look whenever the hospital trip was mentioned, but Bianca... Will couldn’t figure that out.

“What about March third?”

Will’s attention snapped back to the teacher. “Um, I had the day off work. I think we just sat and watched movies all day, maybe played video games for a little while?”

The teacher turned to Nico. “And where were you?”

Nico seemed caught off guard by the question. “Home, I think? With my sister?” He felt like this was some kind of interrogation.

“Were you around Bianca at all after the hospital visit?”

His eyes turned back to his shoes. “Not for a few days.” Will noticed Nico’s hand starting to close around his arm. He remembered being told that Nico once used the pain as a way of keeping quiet when his father was angry, but Will had noticed that it seemed to have developed into a nervous habit brought on by guilt.

“And just one more,” the teacher said, “March fifteenth.”

Will shrugged. “I had the day off work again. I don’t think we did anything very excessive.”

“I was helping my sister clean so that her boyfriend could move in with her,” Nico answered.

The teacher closed her notebook. “Well, I think I may have figured it out.”

Will and Nico looked at each other. They hadn’t figured it out.

“It seems to me that Bianca only has a down day when you’re not around as much,” she said to Nico, who seemed surprised. “Any other day she’s happily chattering away, telling stories, playing games.”

“But I don’t get sad anymore,” Bianca finally spoke up.

“That’s right,” the teacher said. “Has anything changed around the house that might’ve caused that?”

Will and Nico bloomed matching blushes as Nico stuttered, “I-I moved in.”

“That is nothing to be embarrassed about, Mr. di Angelo,” the teacher told him. “In fact, I think that will be great for Bianca’s development, having two non-fluctuating influences at home. Now, if either of you have any question?”

Nico and Will shook their heads in unison.

“Alright!” the teacher said cheerily. “I’ll be seeing at least one of you at the next parent function, correct?”

Bianca shouted, “Yeah!” and ran toward the door, Nico and Will following behind her, assuring the teacher that, yes, at least one of them would be there.

“It was nice to see the both of you again,” the teacher said, and Nico and Will couldn’t have been happier to finally be out of there.

Chapter Text

"Shit!"  Will exclaimed, covering his eyes with a hand. His other arm was currently pinned under Nico - actually, most of Will was currently pinned under Nico - as they watched a movie on the couch. Will was sitting upright, feet on the floor, one arm (previously) resting on the armrest next to him with the other wrapped around his boyfriend’s shoulders, whereas Nico was practically in his lap, legs thrown over Will’s, head resting on Will’s shoulder, and eating out of a bowl of popcorn that sat somewhere in between his lap and Will’s.

“I don’t understand how you can enjoy watching these,” Will moaned, eyes still covered. This was one of the first nights in quite a while that they could convince Hazel and Frank to watch Bianca for the night, and Will was eternally regretting letting Nico choose what they would be doing.

So here they were, having watched  episode after episode of MTV’s Scream: the TV Series,  because Nico never got the chance to binge watch like this whenever Bianca was around. Especially not something like this. 

“I can’t believe you can eat something while watching this,” Will complained, cracking his fingers apart to get a small glimpse of the screen. "Oh my god are those intestines?"

“I would think you’d see a lot of blood and intestines on a daily basis, Doctor Solace,” Nico remarked through a mouthful of popcorn, eyes never leaving the screen.

“In a trauma room! That man is tied to a tree in the middle of someone’s yard!”

Nico grabbed Will’s hand and pulled it away from his eyes, lacing their fingers together before reaching for more popcorn with his free hand.

The episode calmed down just long enough for Will’s heart rate to drop before the main character started walking towards her own death, literally going head first into an ambush. There’s knives, blood, and jump scares, and Will can’t stand it. “I can’t watch, tell me when it’s over,” he moaned, hiding his eyes in the hair on the top of Nico’s head.

A gunshot sounded through the TV and Will’s head snapped up, Nico barely glancing away from the TV to tell him, “It’s over,” before returning his eyes to the screen.

The episode actually ended about ten minutes later, needing to explain how the characters were able to go on with their lives and, of course, leave off with a terrible cliffhanger.

“Don’t tell me there’s more,” Will complained, almost a little bit afraid. “That looked like a cliffhanger--”

The words, Scream will return for a second season, flashed across the screen, and Will tipped his head back with a groan.

“So the second season’s already out, should we start it now or later?” Nico asked, leaning away for a second to put the now empty bowl on the coffee table.

“Never!” Will cried, head snapping back to stare at his boyfriend with wide eyes. “That was terrifying! I never want to watch another horror movie again, I can’t believe I let you talk me into those! I’ll never be able to sleep tonight now!”

Nico smirked up at him, and Will wondered, if only for a second, if maybe that had been the point, but then Nico was standing, stretching, and moving to where his computer was plugged into the TV. “You know,” Will started, “I really hadn’t been planning on spending our entire free night together on movies and TV shows. I mean, maybe starting with a movie, but eventually moving on to, you know, other things."

Nico only smiled at his screen, unanswering. Will could see as he closed out of the window that Scream had been playing in, but then Nico kept clicking things and typing things and Will couldn’t see what they were because they were only on Nico’s laptop and not on the TV screen. Then, a fully black window was dragged onto the TV from Nico’s laptop - another video player.

Nico returned to the couch without pressing play on the video, pulling his phone out of his pocket and setting it on the coffee table before he stopped and stood in front of Will with his arms crossed.

“Please tell me that’s not season two,” Will begged, looking up at his boyfriend with pleading eyes.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Nico told him, unmoving. “Lay down.”

“What?” Will asked, confused by the change of topic.

“Lay down,” Nico repeated, and there was only a short pause before Will swung his feet up onto the couch, scooting down so he could rest his head on the armrest.

He wasn’t the most comfortable; there was no pillow behind his head and his feet were hanging off the other end of the couch, but he looked up at Nico and asked in a mocking tone, “Is this satisfactory?”

Nico rolled his eyes before grabbing a pillow off the floor from where it had been discarded hours earlier. He dropped it on Will’s face, allowing Will a chance to situate it behind his head before speaking again, “Spread your knees.”

“What?” Will spluttered, but only hesitated for a moment before planting his feet on the couch cushions and moving his knees apart.

Nico moved then, finally, maneuvering himself so he was laying on top of Will, between his legs, chest to chest and face to face. “Is this what you had in mind instead of movies?”

They were nose to nose, and Will couldn’t think of an answer other than, “You know, it’s a pretty high school seduction technique to scare your date with slasher films to try and get into their pants.”

Nico’s eyebrows scrunched together. “Does that make you the girl in this scenario?”

Will huffed, blowing at Nico’s face until he moved away. Nico leaned in close to Will’s ear, whispering, “But is it working?”

Will froze and barely registered hearing Nico snicker quietly before pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. Then he moved to Will’s cheek, down to his jaw, working his way down Will’s neck, one hand snaking its way under Will’s t-shirt and the other finding Nico’s phone. All there was when Nico illuminated the screen was a large play button that Nico tapped before setting the phone back down.

Will was expecting another episode of Scream to keep playing as Nico’s kisses travelled lower and lower, but Nico had stopped when he reached the collar of Will’s t-shirt. His full weight now covered Will’s body and his head was now resting on Will’s chest, eyes back on the TV screen, and both of his hands now gently brushing against the bare skin of Will’s sides underneath his t-shirt. Will, now thoroughly confused, turned his head slowly to the screen to see a... 3D animated cartoon?

“What?” Will said, and it seemed like that was happening a lot recently.

“This is Miraculous," Nico muttered into Will’s chest. “Bianca and I watch it sometimes when you’re at work.” He planted his chin against Will’s sternum, looking directly at him. “I thought this might help calm your racing heart.”

Will rolled his eyes. “I hate you.”

Nico hummed, rubbing his cheek against Will’s chest, not unlike a cat, and said, “You love me.”

Will sighed in resignation, bringing a hand up to Nico’s head, beginning to run his fingers through the other’s hair. “I do.”

 

The episode, much shorter than an episode of Scream, ended quickly. “You remind me of Adrien,” Nico said to Will, and it sounded like he was getting tired.

“Aww, you think I look like a model?” Will asked.

“No, I think you’re blond, tell stupid jokes, and all you care about is my cooking.”

“If I’m Adrien, doesn’t that make you Marinette?” Will continued. “And so then doesn’t that make you the girl of this scenario?”

One of Nico’s hands slipped from underneath Will’s shirt and found its way to one of the thighs barricaded around Nico’s hips. “But you’re the one that’s got your legs spread for me,” Nico responded with a smirk.

Will huffed. “Just play the next episode.”

They made it a few more episodes in, to the one with the video game competition (one of Nico’s favorites), when Will noticed that Nico seemed to be struggling to stay awake. It was understandable, considering it was probably close to one in the morning and Nico had been up earlier than Will to see Bianca off to Hazel’s.

Will’s fingers slipped through Nico’s hair, and Will watched his eyes droop shut for a few seconds, before they fluttered halfway back open.

“Nico,” Will said quietly, almost too quiet to be heard over the TV. Nico hummed. “I love you.” Nico rubbed his cheek against Will’s chest, just barely moving, but Will knew it meant, I love you, too.

A few more minutes passed. Will was almost certain that Nico was asleep by now. “Nico,” he said again, just as quiet, and the short hum he heard in response sounded more like a noise of sleep rather than a noise of recognition. “I wanna marry you.” Nico sighed, one hand tightening in its hold on Will’s t-shirt, and Will had never been happier in his life.

Chapter Text

Nico recalled a few things that were said very late that night, even while he was half asleep, and also recalled being woken by a gentle hand and ushered through the darkness to an actual bed, where he continued to use Will as his mattress (not that Will minded all that much).

He recalled, as he made breakfast for the two of them, a single hand running through his hair, careful not to wake him up, and a quiet admission of love. Not the first, way past the first, and Nico knew that it wouldn’t be the last, either. The next admission, though fuzzy in Nico’s mind due to sleep, was much less common. I wanna marry you.  That’s what he’d heard Will say, and Nico didn’t have a single doubt of how much he meant exactly that.

Nico was drawn out of his thoughts by a pair of arms snaking around his waist, a sharp chin resting carefully on his shoulder.

“Good morning,” Will said, and he sounded as if he were still asleep.

“Good morning,” Nico repeated, sliding the omelet he’d just finished onto a plate.

Will breathed in deeply, humming contentedly and tightening his arms around his boyfriend. “I love you,” Will told him, and while Nico knew this was true, he also knew that the admission was only drawn out by the food he’d prepared.

“You love my cooking,” Nico corrected.

“I do,” Will agreed, “but I love the man that does the cooking, too.”

Nico flipped off the burner, turning in Will’s arms and resting his forearms on Will’s shoulders, fingers linking together behind his head. “Enough to marry me?” Nico asked, and Will beamed down at him. He opened his mouth, but Nico continued before he could speak. “Because I’ve heard twice now that it’s on your mind.”

“Twice?”

“Twice. Once when you asked me to move in - I believe the way you phrased it was that marriage was on the table - and once last night when you thought I was asleep. Neither time have I been properly asked.”

Will couldn’t help but smile, no matter how hard he tried to look serious. He leaned his head down, resting his forehead against Nico’s and locked their gazes. “Nico,” he started, “will you marry me?”

Nico paused for a moment. “I believe I told you the first time that marriage proposals should be done on your knees.”

Will rolled his eyes, but the smile didn’t falter. He unwound his arms from Nico’s waist, taking Nico’s hands in his, and slowly sunk to his knees. “Is this good?”

“I think you’re supposed to have a ring, too,” Nico answered.

Will groaned, falling forward until his forehead connected softly with Nico’s hip. “Do you wanna marry me or not?”

Nico laughed, tangling his fingers in Will’s hair. “Stand up.”

Will rose, pouting the whole way up, until he saw Nico falling to his knees in front of him. “Sunshine,” Nico started as he took one of Will’s hands, “will you marry me?” He slid something onto Will’s finger and Will looked down at it - the silver skull ring that he’d never seen once come off of Nico’s hand now fit snug around Will’s pinky, the only finger it would fit on.

Will pulled him back to his feet, kissing him for a moment before pulling back and saying, “I love you.”

“That’s not an answer.”

Will laughed, pulling Nico as close as he could, and pressed kisses across his face.

“Verbal consent is important, Will.”

Will pulled back just enough to look into Nico’s eyes, smiling brighter than the sun, and Nico supposed that made sense, since the sun and the sky generally came together. “Nico,” Will whispered. “We’re gonna get married.”

“Not if you don’t actually give me an answer, we’re not.”

“You’re going to be my husband."

“I--” Nico paused, cutting off his own remark, and carefully, so slowly,  he reached up and brushed his fingers across Will’s cheek. “I’m gonna be your husband.”

Chapter Text

The two of them left about an hour later to go pick up Bianca from Hazel and Frank’s. As soon as they arrived, Hazel had insisted that they sit and chat for a little while, saying there was something important she needed to tell him.

They went and sat around the table in the kitchen as Bianca gathered her things. Will and Frank, having yet to meet each other, spent a few minutes for introductions and greetings, enough time for Nico to make himself a cup of coffee.

Once all introductions were finished, Nico set his cup down on the table. “So, first thing’s first,” Nico started, looking at Hazel, “Will and I are getting married.”

Hazel squealed, which Nico had been anticipating. She jumped out of her chair, hugging her brother roughly (which was why Nico had set his coffee down in the first place) before moving on to Will. “I’m so happy for you two!”

“Yeah, congratulations,” Frank told them earnestly. He, however, did not hug Nico. He was still a little jumpy around Nico, knowing how protective he was over his sister.

“Thank you,” Nico and Will both said, though at different times, and much more enthusiastically from Will.

Hazel retook her seat, grabbing Frank’s hand where it rested on the table. “Um, us too, actually.”

“That’s great!” Will exclaimed.

Frank looked nervously at Nico, who lifted his coffee mug to his mouth. “About time,” he said before taking a sip, and Frank beamed.

There was happy chatter for a few minutes, wedding talk that Nico had no interest in being a part of, so he cleared his throat, effectively silencing the table. He looked at Hazel, saying nothing more than, “It’s time.” Hazel’s eyes widened, but she nodded, and her and Nico pulled out their phones.

Will and Frank exchanged a look of confusion as Nico and Hazel typed up identical messages to their father: We’re coming to visit.

Nico and Hazel set their phones down at the exact same time, looking up at their significant others with determined looks both sets of dark eyes. They said, in unison, “We’re going to California,” and Frank and Will looked rightfully afraid.

 

They’d gone during one of Bianca’s breaks so that she wouldn’t miss any school, and Will had managed to get five days off work. Nico and Hazel both had a terrible time on the flight, which meant a lot of hand holding and comforting from Will and Frank, respectively, not that any of them minded.

They’d received a cold welcome from Nico and Hazel’s father upon their arrival, refusing to shake any hands or introduce himself. Will, instead of a “nice to meet you,” got an “at least you’re not Percy Jackson,” which, even though they’d never met, Will hoped this was a good sign.

When Nico and Hazel’s father said, “I’m sure my children can show to two to the guest rooms,” said children snatched up Will and Frank’s hands at the same time, and spoke, once again, in unison: “We’re engaged.” Their father had sighed and said nothing more than, “Dinner is in five minutes,” before he left.

They’d had dinner and Nico’s step-mother Persephone (“call me Seph, honey, Persephone is just such a mouthful”) had introduced herself, much more politely than Nico’s father had.

At one point, Will had asked Nico, “Does your father maybe have a name I can use, instead of just calling him ‘Mr. Nico’s Dad’?”

Nico had responded, dead serious, “Mr. di Angelo. Pretend he doesn’t have another name. I don’t think even my mother ever used his name.”

 

Will had never slept in such a big house (three floors, completely white, filled with more flowers than actual furniture, and reminded him a lot of a funeral home), and was frankly having a hard time sleeping without Nico in the room with him. He’d decided, sometime around one AM, to go looking for his fiance, and found him not long after stumbling blindly down the stairs.

Nico was sitting in the living room, barely illuminated by a single lamp, and flipping through a book as he lounged on the couch.

“Nico?” Will asked, hoping not to startle him but failing when Nico jumped, head shooting in Will’s direction. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s fine,” Nico told him, closing the book and setting it on the coffee table in front of him. “What are you doing up?”

Will shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep. Even with all these people here, this house seems too empty, and it’s kinda weirding me out.”

Nico grinning up at him. “Need me there with you to make you feel safe?” he teased.

“Always.” Will sat down next to him, arms winding around his fiance as he pressed a kiss to his cheek. “What were you looking at?”

Nico seemed hesitant to show him. “My father handed this to me before he went to bed,” he said as he picked up the book - a photo album, Will thought. “He told me to look through it. Did you notice that he seemed kinda weird when he saw Bianca standing with us earlier?”

“No offense, but he seems kinda weird in general,” Will said, and Nico laughed lightly.

“I guess I’m just too used to it,” he said, picking at the corner of the book before he finally decided to open it. Will’s eyes were immediately drawn to the pictures. “I didn’t know what my father wanted me to see, at first, but I found something that might be it, somewhere in the middle--”

He started to flip through the pages, but Will stopped him. “Wait, wait, tell me who this is,” he said, resting his chin on Nico’s shoulder as he pointed to an elegant looking woman in a 1940’s style dress.

“That’s my mother,” Nico said quietly.

“She’s beautiful,” Will said. “You look just like her.”

Even in the dim light, Will could see color rising in Nico’s cheeks as he started to flip the page.

“Alright, who’s--” Will’s eyes dropped back to the pictures, snapping instantly to one of a familiar looking girl. “Oh my god,” he said, trying to lean in closer to the picture.

“That’s what I said,” Nico whispered, pulling the album closer to them.

“But that’s Bianca.”

“It is.”

“What?”

Nico pointed down at one specific picture, a girl with long brown hair and a toothy smile. “That’s my sister, Bianca, when he was...seven, maybe?”

“But she looks just like--”

“I know.”

“Nico. They look exactly the same.”

“Now you know why I freaked out a little bit when I first met her.”

Will glanced at Nico who was still staring down at the page. “Oh my god. Didn’t your sister die around seven years ago?”

Nico nodded. “In December. Almost eight years, now.”

“Bi’s almost seven.”

Nico finally looked away from the page, clearly confused. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Nico, I don’t believe in reincarnation or whatever, but this is a lot of coincidences,” Will told him. “Bianca died in December almost eight years ago. Bi was born in March almost seven years ago. They have the same name, they look exactly the same.”

Nico smiled up at him. “You need to sleep, Will. You sound a little too tired for this right now.”

“But Nico, our daughter is--” he cut himself off when Nico’s smile grew.

"Our daughter?” he repeated.

“M-my daughter,” Will tried.

"Our daughter,” Nico told him. “You said it, I’m not letting you take it back now.”

Will stared down, almost disbelieving, at his fiance, who was still grinning stupidly up at him, before he jumped to his feet. He grabbed one of Nico’s hands, pulling him up as well, and started toward the stairs. “You’re right, let’s go to bed.”

“Will?” Nico said, and the other stopped and turned back around. Nico put a hand on his cheek, forcing them to look at each other. “I don’t believe in it, either, but that looks to me like our daughter might be the reincarnation of my sister.”

“Reincarnation isn’t real, though,” Will muttered, and Nico started pulling him up the staircase.

“Nobody knows for sure, Sunshine,” Nico said, stopping when he was two steps above Will and they were equal height. He pulled Will in for a kiss, slow and soft and full of love, before he said, “Maybe my sister will get to see my wedding after all.”

Chapter Text

Will surprised him the next morning before breakfast. He was there, smiling at his fiance when Nico woke up.

Nico curled into Will’s chest as soon as his eyes opened. “What’re you so happy about?”

“I love you,” Will told him, and Nico hummed. “And I have a surprise for you.”

Nico pulled his head back to squint up at Will. “What kind of surprise?”

“Our plane leaves tomorrow,” Will told him, and Nico’s squint turned to confusion. “We have a layover in Nashville before we take another plane home. And that layover lasts about two days. And I want you to meet my mom.”

Nico’s eyes widened. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” Will exclaimed. “I’m literally in your childhood bedroom right now, and I just spent two full days with your dad and stepmom. I think it’s time I return the favor. Plus, if I tell my mom that I’m getting married and she’s never even met you? I’d never hear the end of it.”

Nico tucked his head back against Will’s chest. “You know, I’ve never brought anyone home before?” he mumbled. “A-and no one’s ever taken me home before.”

Will wrapped an arm around Nico’s back. “I think the last person I took home to meet my mom was my prom date. And even then she was just a friend. That was back when I didn’t know I was bi, but I was starting to realize it, and I didn’t know how my mom would react if I told her, so I didn’t.”

“What did she say when you finally told her?”

“I dunno, haven’t done that yet.”

Nico pushed himself away so quickly and with so much force that he would’ve fallen right off the bed if not for Will’s arm around him. “What?” Nico barely breathed the word. “Please tell me you’re kidding, Will, please."

“I’m kidding,” Will assured him. “When I told her, she was...quiet. She didn’t actually have much of a reaction, really. I told her that there was still a chance that I’d meet a girl, but she didn’t seem very convinced. I probably didn’t sound very convincing, either.”

“So, she won’t throw me out of her house when she finds out we’re engaged, right?”

Will hummed. “Probably not.”

“You’re not making me feel any better, Solace.”

 

The flight they took had them landing in Nashville around ten pm, and with baggage claim, calling a cab, and traffic, they reached the Solace home sometime around eleven.

Bianca had fallen asleep in the cab, so Nico carried her into the house as Will grabbed the suitcases. The house was dark, and Nico wasn’t even sure that anyone was home, but Will pulled his keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door quietly.

“I think my mom’s asleep,” Will whispered and shut the door behind Nico.

As soon as the front door was shut, another door opened somewhere in the dark house. A light turned on in the hallway and Nico was momentarily blinded before he saw a middle aged woman pulling on a bathrobe.

“Will?” she said.

“Hi, Mama,” he said, and then the two were hugging.

“Why didn’t you call? I could’ve picked you up from the airport, I could’ve gotten your room cleaned up, I could’ve gone grocery shopping!”

“It’s fine, Mom,” Will told her, and Ms. Solace pushed herself back a step.

“Where’s my favorite little girl?” she asked brightly, pushing around her son and stopping in her tracks when her eyes fell on Nico. She cleared her throat. “William, aren’t you going to introduce us?”

“Of course, Mama,” Will told her, and he was at Nico’s side in a second, arm wrapped around him and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “This is Nico.”

 

The next morning, Nico was afraid to head out into the rest of the house. He stayed in Will’s bed for a while after waking up, curled up under the sheets, scared of what Will’s mom thought of him. What if she hated him? What if she wanted Will to marry a girl, and instead he brought home this boy that she’d never even heard anything about. Will hadn’t even told her he was dating anyone. Was Will embarrassed by him? Was he a disappointment?

The door creaked open, and Nico saw Will standing in the doorway.

“Hey, how long have you been awake?” Will asked as he entered the room. “Mom took Bi into town to get some groceries, even though I told her she didn’t have to. Why didn’t you come get breakfast? It’s probably cold by now.”

“I don’t think your mom likes me,” Nico said quietly, and Will knelt down in front of him. “She didn’t seem very happy that I’m here.”

“That’s my fault,” Will told him. “I should’ve told her we were coming, I should’ve told her that we’re together, I should’ve--”

“What’s she going to say when she finds out we’re getting married?”

“I don’t know, Nico, but when she gets to know you, she’s going to love you, almost as much as I love you, because no one can love you as much as I do.”

Nico smiled. “How do you know she’s even gonna like me?”

“I already know that she does,” Will answered. “If she didn’t she wouldn’t have been asking questions about you all morning and wondering when you were going to wake up. You better be careful, or she’s going to start thinking you’re lazy.” Nico shoved at Will’s chest, but Will kept smiling at him.

 

They were sitting in the living room when Ms. Solace returned home with Bianca.

“Will?” she called into the house. “Honey, is Nico awake yet?”

“Yeah, Mom, he’s right here,” Will answered, and Nico tensed. Will pulled him close on the couch and wound an arm around him.

“Oh, good, can you come help me with the dishes, dear?”

“Be right there.” Will was already standing when Ms. Solace came around the corner.

“Oh, sorry, Will, I meant Nico,” she said with a smile in Nico’s direction. “If you’re that eager to help, Will, then you and Bianca can unpack all the groceries we just picked up.”

The kitchen was a little cramped with all four of them in there, but Nico was a lot more comfortable knowing that he wasn’t alone.

“Nico, dear, tell me about yourself,” Ms. Solace said as she waited for the sink to fill with water.

Nico hesitated. “What do you want to know?” Will was trying to give him an encouraging smile over his mother’s shoulder, but it wasn’t making Nico feel any better.

“Anything you want to tell me,” she said. “Where are you from? How old are you? Where did you go to college? Ooh, and how did the two of you meet?”

As Ms. Solace began washing the dishes from breakfast, Nico grabbed a towel to dry each dish. “Well, I was born in Italy, raised in California, and moved to New York with my sister. I started college in California, but I switched to online classes when I moved. Then that delayed my degree, so I'm still taking a few classes right now. Um, I’m twenty-three now, but Will and I met when I was twenty-two.”

“Twenty-three?” Ms. Solace repeated, eying her son. “I never took you for a cradle robber, William.”

"Mom,"  Will whined, but perked up as soon as he saw Nico smiling.

“Now, tell me how you met,” she insisted, turning her eyes back to Nico.

“It was all because of this one, here,” Will said, picking up Bianca and sitting her on his shoulders. He held out a few boxed to be put away on the higher shelves. “I needed someone to watch her while I was at work, and since all of Nico’s classes were online, he could be there for me.”

“You were Bianca’s babysitter?” Ms. Solace asked, and her tone was starting to make Nico nervous.

“A-at the start, yes,” he answered.

“He won me over with his cooking and great sense of humor,” Will said, and Nico rolled his eyes.

“Of course, always about the food with you,” Ms. Solace said, and while Will shot her a hurt look, Nico was starting to like her. “What was it that did him in? Brownies? He can’t say no to brownies.”

“Trust me, I know,” Nico said. “I made him a chocolate lava cake.”

Ms. Solace gasped. “I don’t know how he didn’t marry you on the spot.”

Will whined from somewhere behind them. “I can’t believe this, the two people I love most - besides you, Bi, of course I love you the most - treating me in such a way. I won’t stand for it. C’mon, Bi.” Will took Bianca out of the kitchen, leaving Nico alone with Ms. Solace.

Well, Nico supposed this was as good a time as ever.

“Ms. Solace?” he started.

“Naomi, honey, call me Naomi.”

“Of course, Naomi,” Nico tried again. “This is-- This might sound a bit strange and old fashioned, but I was raised to be respectful, and I was hoping I for your permission-- Your blessing to marry your son.”

Neither of them moved. Nico kept his eyes on the wet dish cloth in his hands. He couldn’t even hear anything, not Will or Bianca in the next room, not even his own breathing. And then Naomi broke the silence.

“Nico, honey,” she started, and Nico braced himself. “You don’t need my permission. And you had my blessing the second you walked into my house and I saw you treating my granddaughter like she was your own. The only permission you need is Will’s, but it seems like you’re already the person he loves most in the world, so I don’t think you’ll have any problems.”

“Thank you, Naomi,” Nico said.

“You’ve got nothing to thank me for,” she told him. “I should be thanking you for taking such good care of them. When Will got that job in New York, I didn’t know how he was going to survive on his own. If it weren’t for you, he would have run himself into the ground for sure.”

“That’s absolutely right,” Nico said.

“Of course it’s right!” Naomi laughed, but calmed herself down quickly, and when she spoke again she used a much quieter voice. “Now, I couldn’t help but notice that ring he’s been wearing, the skull shaped one? Does that mean...?”

Nico couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, we’re engaged. Only for about a week or two, but I’m really glad that Will brought me here. It was very important for me to get your blessing.”

“You are the sweetest thing,” Naomi told him. “I can’t believe Will was able to find someone so perfect for him, yet here you are.”

“Mama, I thought you were done embarrassing my when I graduated med school,” Will’s voice came from across the room.

“A mother is never done embarrassing her baby,” Naomi said. She bumped Nico with her shoulder and nodded her head towards Will. “Go on, I can finish these on my own.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind--”

“It’s fine, honey.” Naomi plucked the dish rag out of Nico’s hands and shooed him away.

Will lead Nico into the living room where Bianca was watching TV, and they sat together on the couch. “I can’t believe you asked my mom for her blessing,"  Will said quietly.

Nico pushed himself about a foot away from him. “ What? How much of that did you hear?”

“Just about all of it,” Will answered, pulling Nico back in. “About how you’re so respectful and need my mom’s permission to be with me. About how you kept me from running myself into the ground - which I wouldn’t have done, by the way, I would’ve been fine.”

“You would’ve killed yourself and Bianca, but go on.”

“About how you’re perfect."

“I’m pretty sure that was ‘perfect for you,’ not perfect perfect,” Nico corrected.

"I’m pretty sure you’re perfect."

Chapter Text

Will had a late night shift, for which he had to leave in about two hours, but that was enough time to sit Bianca down and have a Family Discussion, right?

Nico had been putting it off, and Will knew this, so he was putting an end to that right now. He sat Bianca down on the couch and made Nico sit on the edge of the coffee table so that they were forced to face each other. Will stood a little bit off to the side so that he could monitor the conversation, but hopefully not interfere too much.

Nico was fidgeting and pulling at the loose threads in the knees of his jeans, but he eventually managed to speak.

“Uh, Bi?” he started, glancing up at making sure he had her attention. “You know what adoption is, right?”

She nodded. “It’s like when somebody sees a kid who doesn’t have any parents, so they say, ‘I wanna be the parents.’”

“Good,” Nico said, though Will could see that he was still very nervous. “That’s good. Um. But-- You know, uh, did you know that someone can still be adopted even if they have a parent?”

Bianca’s eyes snapped to Will. “I’m not gonna get adopted away from Daddy, am I?”

“No!” Nico rushed to assure her, reaching out for one of her hands. “No, no one’s gonna take you away. I just meant-- I mean. Do you remember when I had to take you to the hospital because of your allergies? And they wouldn’t let me stay with you because I wasn’t family?”

Bianca nodded again.

“What if-- What if I was family?”

Bianca’s head cocked to the side. “I’m confused. I thought we were talking about adoption.”

“We are,” Nico said, repeated himself, and took a deep breath. “What if I adopted you?”

“So then you’ll be my daddy instead?”

“No, it’ll be like Daddy and I, two parents,” Nico explained. “So then we’ll be a family.”

“Two daddies?” Bianca asked, obviously still confused. “Is that allowed?”

“Yeah, of course,” Nico told her. “And if I adopt you, and if we’re a family, then I can come to all of your school things, and if something happens I can stay with you at the doctor’s.”

“But it will be confusing if you’re both Daddy,” Bianca said.

“You can still call me Nico, if you want,” he offered.

Bianca nodded. “I’m still gonna call you Nico.”

He couldn’t help but smile just a little bit. “So does that mean I can adopt you?”

“I’ve never had two parents before,” Bianca said, but she was smiling back. “We’re gonna the best family!”

When Nico glanced over at Will, they were both beaming.

 

That night, long after Will had gone to work and Nico had put Bianca to bed, there was a soft knock on the door of Will and Nico’s room, so soft it hadn’t even woken Nico up. The door glided open almost silently, and Bianca - wide awake from a nightmare - shuffled slowly into the room, crossing towards Nico and tugging gently on the sleeve of his t-shirt until he woke up.

“Hmm?” he started, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. “What’s wrong, Princess?”

“Nightmare,” she said. “Can I sleep in here with you? Daddy lets me sleep with him when I have nightmares and you’re my daddy, too, now, right? So can I sleep in here with you?”

Nico took a second to respond, having mostly just heard nightmare, daddy, sleep in here? before he nodded with an, “Of course, Princess,” and helped her climb into the middle of the bed.

Nico felt himself drifting back off when he heard, “Nico? Can you tell me another story so I can sleep again?”

He yawned, squeezing his eyes shut before opening them again and sitting up a little bit. “Okay, sure, but it might not be the best, because I’m a little bit tired, okay?”

“Okay,” Bianca said, and cuddled up to his side.

“Did I ever tell you about the boy and the metal dragon?” Nico asked, and felt more than saw Bianca’s head shake. “This boy’s name was Leo, and one of his favorite things was dragons. All of his favorite stories had dragons in them, and when he was little, he would draw them and play pretend games with them, and had a little pet lizard because he thought that maybe when it grew up it would turn into a really big dragon.

“When he got a little bit older, he still thought dragons were really cool, but started thinking that machines like car engines and robots were also really cool, and starting paying more attention to tools and stuff than dragon hunts.

“Then, one day he went out on a walk. He had to go to another town to get the tools he needed to fix the machine he was working on, and he had to go through this big forest. After he was walking for a really long time, he thought that he must’ve been lost, because it was getting dark and it shouldn’t have taken him that long to get through the woods.

“All he had with him was a tool belt and his phone, which he was using for a flashlight. After looking around at the same trees and dirt for a really long time, he saw something shiny. He pointed the light right at it, and thought that maybe it was just a car or something, but when he got closer he saw that it was a huge metal dragon. It looked like it was made out of gold, and it was bigger than this room, but it wasn’t moving, not even when Leo started poking at it.

“So he looked the dragon over and found this little power box in the back of its head, and started messing around with it using the tools in his belt, and he made the dragon come alive! He jumped on its back and it ran him through the woods back the way he came, and he was home in no time!

“When he got home, though, he got to get a good look at the dragon, and saw that it didn’t have any wings! What kind of a dragon doesn’t have wings, he thought. And so he made it wings out of the spare parts in his house. He attached the wings and he never had to walk through those woods again when he needed to get new tools, because his dragon just flew him over the trees to the next town.”

“That’s amazing,” Bianca yawned, and Nico patted her head.

“It is,” he said, “but now it’s time to go back to sleep, okay? You don’t wanna be tired at school tomorrow.”

“Okay. Goodnight, Nico.”

“Goodnight, Princess.”

 

Will always made sure to greet Bianca when he got home from work, even if it was just a soft kiss on the forehead while she was asleep. This night (morning, whatever, it was probably around three AM), however, he went into her room to find it empty.

After a brief moment of panic, Will - now very awake - hurried down to his and Nico’s room, noticing the half-open door and rushing inside.

There, he saw his daughter and his fiance, both asleep in his bed, Nico curled protectively around Bianca.

Will shut the door as quietly as he could, careful not to make any noise as he changed into clothes more suitable for sleeping, and slid into the bed, one arm easily wrapping around both Nico and Bianca as he settled in to sleep.

Chapter Text

Will loved listening to Nico talk. He could listen for hours,  just hearing Nico’s voice. It didn’t matter what was being said, and Will always did his best to pay attention, but sometimes he got distracted by the way Nico’s hands flew around as he spoke (he’d learned pretty early on not to sneak up on him or get too close when Nico was speaking so expressively with his hands - Will had already gotten elbowed in the stomach, smacked the eye, and a few accidental punches here and there).

It was one of those days that Will had lost focus on what Nico had been saying. He’d been listening at the beginning - something about something stupid Jason did, or maybe it had been Leo, or Percy, or maybe even Piper? Okay, so he hadn’t really been listening. It was just so mesmerizing how Nico could move around the kitchen so smoothly, stirring pots and pulling out spices and still gesturing as he spouted out words and words.

Will had leaned against the island, elbows resting on the granite countertop and head resting in his hands. He couldn’t help the smile on his face as he kept his eyes on Nico, and honestly, at this point, he wasn’t even trying to listen. The words just washed over him as if he wouldn’t have been able to understand them anyway.

Nico glanced at Will over his shoulder, saying something that Will didn’t hear.

“What?” Will asked, standing up straight.

Nico rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. He repeated what he said, but even paying full attention, it sounded like gibberish to Will.

He scrunched up his eyebrows, giving Nico a confused look.

Nico said something else, but seemed to cut himself off mid-word, eyes widening and cheeks growing pink.

“S-sorry,” Nico muttered, turning back to the stove. “Can you set the table?”

“Wait, hang on,” Will said, scrambling around the island. “What was that?”

“Nothing.”

“No, Nico, tell me,” Will insisted. “I zoned out for half a second and then it sounded like you were speaking gibberish. I have to be honest, I thought you might have been stroking out for a second, there.”

“It wasn’t gibberish,” Nico mumbled, turning off burners and seeming to do everything in his power to avoid Will’s gaze.

“Nico,” Will tried, resting a hand on the small of Nico’s back.

He hesitated before looking up at Will, embarrassment clear on his face, though Will didn’t have any idea why.

“I learned English as a second language,” Nico started, “and sometimes I get distracted when I’m talking so I... revert back to Italian. Sorry, I’ll try to pay more attention.”

“What?” Will started, grabbing Nico’s arms and turning him to meet his gaze. “I don’t understand. Do you think I have a problem with you speaking Italian?”

Nico tried to pull his arms back. “You looked angry.”

"What? No! Of course I wasn’t angry. Why would I be angry?”

Nico shrugged.

“I’m not angry,” Will said again, sliding his hands up to cup Nico’s cheeks. “It was kind of adorable, actually.”

Nico finally met his eyes with a glare. “I’m not adorable.”

“You are,” Will told him, breaking out in a smile. “Especially when you talk like you were, with your hands flying around everywhere. And I love it when you blush like you did. Very cute."  He pecked a kiss on Nico’s nose.

Nico glared harder as his blush reignited full force.

“Adorable, that’s what I like to see,” Will said happily. “I can’t believe you never told me. My boyfriend speaks fluent Italian and I just found out.”

Nico stepped back out of Will’s grasp, turning to the cabinet and pulling out a small stack of plates. “Fiance.”

“Hmm?” Will wrapped his arms around Nico from behind, resting his chin on Nico’s shoulder.

Nico glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. “Your fiance is fluent in Italian.”

Will grinned. “I’m marrying a man that’s fluent in Italian. Any other secrets I should know before the wedding? Any more languages you might start speaking?”

Nico hummed. “A few. French and Spanish are pretty close to Italian, so I picked a few things up. I had a friend that taught me a little Portuguese. But I think that’s probably it.”

Will pressed a kiss to the side of Nico’s neck. “You have no idea how incredibly sexy I think that is.”

Nico turned in his arms. “You know what I think is incredibly sexy?"

Will rested his forehead against Nico’s. “What’s that?”

“If you would set the table already.”

Chapter Text

Will had noticed Nico yawning a lot, dragging his feet when he walked, nodding off sometimes on the couch, but still waking up earlier than Will each day. Will, busy as he was, didn’t think much of it, until he came from from work to find Bianca alone at the table doing her homework, and Nico fast asleep on the couch.

Bianca shushed Will when he walked in the door, even though he wasn’t talking. “Nico’s sleeping,” she stage whispered to him from across the kitchen.

Will crossed the kitchen, asking, “Is he okay?”

Bianca nodded. “Just sleeping. Can you help me?”

Will glanced down to see two questions on her homework answered, and then a series of messy doodles in the margins. Will wondered just how long she’d been sitting there, unfocused. He glanced over his shoulder toward the living room where Nico was fast asleep. He wanted to go in there and wake him up, make sure he was okay, but he figured that, if Nico was asleep, he must have really needed it.

Will took the seat next to his daughter and focused his attention on the paper in front of them. “Alright, let’s get this done, and then we can get dinner, okay?”

 

Nico was woken up by a gentle hand on his arm and a soft voice calling his name. He ground the heels of his palms into his eyes as he sat up, unaware that he’d even fallen asleep, and he definitely wasn’t feeling any more rested than he had earlier.

Will was kneeling on the ground in front of the couch, concern written all over his features. “Are you okay?” he asked, pressing the back of his hand to Nico’s forehead, and Nico was confused.

“Of course I am, why?” Nico responded, tugging Will’s hand away.

“You’ve been asleep since before I got home,” Will told him. “Have you not been sleeping well?”

Nico shrugged, and then, as he’d just remembered something important, jumped to his feet. “Bianca never did her homework.”

Will rose with him, planting his hands on Nico’s shoulders to stop him. “Yes she did, I helped her when I got home.”

Nico frowned. “Then I should get dinner started.”

“We ordered pizza.”

Nico’s shoulders drooped. “O-Okay,” he muttered, hand creeping up to grip at his other wrist. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have fallen asleep, I--”

Will snatched Nico’s hand away from his wrist before he could dig his nails into his skin. “You don’t have to apologize, I’m just worried about you.”

“You’ve got enough to worry about, so I should’ve been awake to make dinner and help Bianca,” Nico told him, tugging at Will’s hands. “I’m sorry.”

“Nico--”

The doorbell rang, and Nico squeezed Will’s hands. “I’ll get it,” Nico said, reaching up to peck at Will’s lips before moving away from his fiance.

 

Nico startled awake in the middle of the night. Well, five AM. It felt like the middle of the night. He was breathing heavy, hands fisted in the sheets, pulse racing, but he couldn’t remember anything about the dream he’d just had.

He rolled over, tempted to wake Will, to finally tell him what’s been going on, to tell him about the nightmares that he couldn’t even remember, but when he rolled onto his side, he was met with Will’s back, tan and freckled, ribcage slowly expanding and deflating with each breath. Nico reached out, fingers stopped just before they brushed against Will’s skin, and dropped to the sheets. Will had to work in a few hours. He needed all the sleep he could get. He didn’t need to worry about Nico’s minor problems.

So he got up. He pulled himself out of bed as quietly as possible, muscles aching from the lack of rest, and shuffled out to the kitchen; there were dishes from the night before that had never been washed. He turned on the tap, grabbed a sponge and the bottle of soap, and started scrubbing at one of the plates.

A pair of arms wrapped around Nico’s waist from behind, nearly scaring him out of his skin, until Will’s chin found its way to Nico’s shoulder. Will shifted until he could press a kiss to Nico’s shoulder through the fabric of his t-shirt. “Come back to bed,” Will mumbled, sounding like he was still asleep.

“I’m not tired,” Nico told him gently.

Will hummed, tugging Nico closer. “Come back anyway.”

Nico sighed. “Will--”

“Please, darling?” he asked, nosing at the side of Nico’s neck.

Nico set the plate and sponge down in the sink, turning off the tap, and turned in Will’s arm. He set his forehead against Will’s collarbone. “Okay.”

He could feel the smile on Will’s lips when he pressed a kiss to Nico’s temple.

Nico was asleep once more as soon as his head hit the pillow.

 

Will was woken by a scream and the feeling of his arm being jostled. He sat up, rubbing at his eyes to try to wake himself up, and the screaming stopped. Instead, however, he heard sobs and was pushed down onto his back with a forceful weight pressing down on his chest.

“Nico?” Will questioned, running his fingers through dark, tangled hair.

“I’m sorry,” Nico hiccuped against Will’s chest. “I didn’t want to wake you, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Will told him, wrapping his arms around Nico’s shaking form. “What’s wrong, what happened?”

“Bia, it-- She was in the woods, and then in the road, and there were headlights and it wasn’t Bia anymore, it was Bi-- Bianca, I watched that car hit her and--” He choked on his words, clawing at Will’s shoulders and trying to get a grip on something.

“Darling,” Will whispered, holding his fiance closer.

Nico took a breath and continued. “I-I was at my dad’s, and someone knocked on the door so I answered it. It was that asshole drunk,  b-but Bia wasn’t there. I-it was you,  W-Will, and you were d-dead.  There was s-so m-m-much blood and I could see your eyes, Will--” He heaved a breath, and Will pushed him up until they were both sitting up. He switched on the bedside lamp and reached up to frame Nico’s face with his hands.

“Darling, look at me,” Will told him. “Look at my eyes, sweetheart, I’m fine. I’m alive, you’re alive, Bi’s alive. She’s gonna wake up in about twenty minutes, too, and if she sees you like this, she’s gonna freak out.”

Nico pulled himself onto Will’s lap, trying to get himself as close to his fiance as possible. “Please don’t leave me,” Nico whispered, eyes wide and lined with tears. “I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you, Will, please don’t leave me.”

Will wrapping his arms around Nico’s back, drawing him in and running his fingers through Nico’s hair once more. “I won’t, Nico, I promise, I promise."

Chapter Text

Will woke up in the morning, his fiance still asleep beside him. He smiled, appreciating Nico’s peaceful expression, until the alarm clock on his nightstand began to buzz. Will groaned, rolling over and slamming his hand down on the alarm, turning back to see Nico’s eyes blinking open slowly. Will wrapped an arm around Nico’s waist, pulling him close and tucking his face against Nico’s neck.

“I don’t wanna go to work today,” Will complained against Nico’s skin. Nico hummed, fingers reaching up to tangle in the hairs on the back of Will’s neck. “What if,” Will started, fingers drawing mindless shapes on Nico’s lower back, “I stay home today, and we don’t leave this spot?”

Nico grinned. “I would love to,” he answered as Will started biting gently at his neck. “There’s just one problem. You’ve got a daughter that needs to get ready for school, and someone needs to make sure she doesn’t pack cookies in her lunch instead of vegetables again.”

Will groaned again, flopping onto his back with a pout. “Why are you always right?”

Nico leaned over him, planting a hand on his chest and swooped down for a kiss. “Someone has to be.” And he rolled out of bed.

 

Lou Ellen, back in the hospital for one of her last surgeries after her accident, had been staring at her phone for at least an hour. She’d texted Will, knowing that his shift wouldn’t start for another ten minutes or so, meaning that he had plenty of time after arriving to work to check his phone before he turned it off for the day.

Normally, when Lou would be spending a few days in the hospital, Will would try to be there to keep her company for as long as he could. But now he wasn’t even answering her simple text. Was he really that busy? She’d just have to wait until his lunch hour rolled around.

Though even then, he never showed. Lou scrolled aimlessly through her Twitter feed, and any time her phone buzzed in her hand, she jumped, until realizing that it wasn’t a text from Will, just another junk email or something.

Around noon, Lou watched her door swing open, expecting to see an overtired Will carrying lunch (not that Lou could eat anything, not with her surgery coming up) and seeing a complete stranger instead.

“Lou Ellen, correct?” the doctor who was not Will asked. “I’m here to check your vitals before we set you up in pre-op.”

“Yes, that’s me. Where’s Will?”

The doctor froze, eyes seeming glued to Lou’s chart. “I’m sorry?”

“Doctor Solace?” Lou tried again. “My usual doctor, who’s prepped me for all of my other surgeries? Where’s he?”

The doctor looked panicked, like the last thing they were expecting was an interrogation - which is probably true. “Doctor Solace is a bit preoccupied at the moment, but perhaps he’ll be here for all of your post-op tests?” A doctor who was very clearly unsure of everything they said, just what Lou wanted before going into surgery.

“I expect to have him paged immediately when I wake up, got it?” Lou demanded.

“O-of course,” the doctor told her. “We’ll be sure to make that happen. Now would you mind if we get started?”

 

Around two, Nico texted Will asking if he’d be off work in time to pick Bianca up from school. After half an hour without an answer, Nico wasn’t worried. Will was usually busy, and it wasn’t like picking Bianca up was that much of a hassle.

The two returned home, Nico helped Bianca through her homework and made her a snack. Around five, he called Will, and there was no answer. To Will’s voicemail, Nico said, “Hey, babe, call me back if you’re gonna be home in time for dinner, okay? Love you.”

Will didn’t call back.

Nico and Bianca had spaghetti for dinner and watched TV for a little while before it was time for Bianca to go to bed. It took more convincing than usual for Nico to get Bianca to stay in her room; she never wanted to sleep before Will got home to kiss her goodnight, and tonight was no different. Nico told her a bedtime story, one about a magic pirate ship (because honestly, Nico could never get enough of pirate stories), and promised her that as soon as Will got home, he would come say goodnight. He kissed Bianca on the forehead and turned off the light when he left the room.

He didn’t try calling Will again before he went to bed.

 

At this point in his life, Nico was too used to sleeping with someone beside him, so it was difficult to fall asleep in the first place, and when he finally did, the sleep was restless.

He tossed and turned all night, waking up fully around three and still feeling an empty bed next to him. He finally felt worry set in like a rock in his stomach, rolling out of bed and wandering the house for a few minutes for any sign that Will had come home, even for a moment, but there was nothing. No keys on the counter, no change of scrubs in the hamper, no tan, freckled body asleep on the couch or in the bed in the guest room.

Nico returned to his and Will’s shared bedroom, unplugging his phone from where it sat on the nightstand, and scrolled through his contacts, hitting the call button next to Will’s name.

“Will?” Nico said softly to his fiance’s voicemail. “I know you’re probably busy and I’m probably worrying for nothing, but-- But I am worrying. As soon as you get this, can you please call me or text me or something?" He paused. “I love you, Sunshine.” And he stopped recording.

 

Cecil was passing in the hall outside one of the ICU rooms, reading and rereading everything the chart in his hands had to tell him. Each time he flipped through the pages, he tried to skip over the details of the accident, but his eyes couldn’t help but read over every word. He would remind himself each time that he was looking for something. Reading this over again would make the panic worse, but he couldn’t help it.

Emergency Contact, he reminded himself again and again. That’s what he was looking for. Why couldn’t he find a single emergency contact?

His frantic reading was interrupted by somebody shouting his name down the hall, and a wheelchair flew down the hall, so fast he thought he was going to be hit.

“Lou?” he asked, slamming the chart closed and hiding the name on the front. “What are you doing here? Why are you in a wheelchair?”

“I had one of my last surgeries last night, I finally managed to sneak out of my room,” she answered. “What are you doing here? Outside what looks to be a grown man’s room when you’re a pediatric surgeon?”

Cecil froze, eyes darting through the glass doors to the man lying in the bed before his gaze fell back to Lou Ellen in front of him.

“He’s in there, isn’t he?” Lou asked quietly.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he lied, holding the chart close to his chest.

“He’s not answering my texts, he didn’t come to see me pre-op or post-op,” Lou told him. “I had him paged and nobody would tell me where he was.”

Cecil remained silent.

“Give me the chart, Cecil,” Lou demanded.

“I could get fired for that!”

“Then tell me he’s not in there!” She pointed toward the glass separating them from the man in the bed.

Cecil ducked his head, unable to maintain eye contact any longer.

Lou’s breath hitched. “Why doesn’t he have anyone here for him? Didn’t you call anybody?”

“He doesn’t have any emergency contacts. He never listed any when he moved here.”

“Then find his phone and look for one."

“I can’t just look through his stuff, that’s a violation of patient privacy!”

“He’s your best friend, Cecil, find his phone and call somebody."

 

Nico had a hell of a time getting Bianca to school the next morning. She screamed at him, telling him she wouldn’t leave until she saw Will. Nico tried convincing her that Will came home after she went to sleep but had to leave again in the middle of the night, but the he knew the bags under his eyes and the tired tone of his voice couldn’t have convinced anyone.

"Please, Bianca,” he begged. “If Daddy finds out that you didn’t go to school, he’s gonna be angry. Wouldn’t you rather he not be angry when he comes home?”

At this point, Nico was more afraid of what would happen when Bianca came home angry after school.

He drove her to school, having to sign her in at the office because she ended up being a few minutes late. The secretary behind the desk tried to start up a conversation with him, but Nico, as politely as he could with how exhausted he felt, eased himself out of the office and back to his car.

He was in the middle of contemplating just how comfortable of a pillow his steering wheel would be when his phone started ringing in his pocket. He fished it out quickly, nearly dropping it in surprise when he saw the name on the screen.

“Will?” he breathed.

“Is this Nico?” a voice that was very much not Will’s responded.

“Yes,” Nico said, surprised he could get the word out when he suddenly felt like he was going to throw up any second.

“My name is Doctor Cecil Markowitz,” the voice continued with a stable facade, though Nico could hear it shaking. “There’s been an accident.”

Chapter Text

Nico threw up on the side of the road. Thankfully, he’d been too worried to eat much at breakfast, but that just meant that he sat hunched over in the grass for about ten minutes, body trying to empty an already exhausted stomach. When he could move again, Nico got back in his car, rinsed out his mouth with a bottle of water he found in the door, and started to drive.

He thought his body might revolt against him again as he pulled into the parking lot, but he took a second to breathe, to try to calm himself down, and readied himself for whatever he was about to see.

The exterior doors slid open when he walked up. The lights in the lobby were too bright and the receptionist too happy. Her smile didn’t fade as she offered him directions to the ICU.

He shuffled down the hall, passing the waiting room attached to the ER, feeling his stomach clench as he remembered sitting there, waiting for Will to arrive after he’d almost poisoned their daughter--

He stopped. He staggered toward the wall, leaning against it for support as his vision started to blur. He leaned back against the wall, blinking up at the ceiling in hopes of persuading the tears back into his eyes before his legs practically gave out from under him and he slid down the wall. He hung his head between his knees, hoping to stop his head from spinning.

Nico heard the sound of wheels gliding across the floor, though he couldn’t get his legs to move out of the way.

“Hey, man,” a voice said above him, “are you alright?”

He lifted his head slowly to keep his head from spinning even more, and was met with a girl about his age with purple hair and a leg in a cast.

“Oh god,” she said, expression falling from polite concern to devastation. “You’re Nico, aren’t you?”

He nodded, pulling at the sleeve of his sweatshirt to wipe under his eyes. “How do you know that?”

“I’ve seen pictures of you,” she told him with a sad smile, and held out a hand. “I’m Lou Ellen. Your boy really likes to show you off.”

Nico’s breath hitched. “Have you seen him?”

Lou Ellen shook her head. “They won’t let me in, but I’m friends with some of the doctors. They keep telling me he’ll be fine, but I’d kinda like to see for myself. I don’t suppose if I show you the way, you’ll let me in with you?”

 

As soon as Nico saw the first sign telling them that they were in the ICU, his legs turned to jello. His heart started hammering in his chest and his vision started blurring once more, though he wasn’t sure whether that was from the nerves or another round of tears forming.

“Lou, I don’t know if I can do it,” he choked out.

Lou grabbed his hand and squeezed. “You’re gonna be fine, Nico, and so is he. He’s just knocked out from the surgery, that’s what Cecil said. He’ll wake up soon.”

They continued down the hall, and Nico noticed one doctor loitering around one of the rooms. He looked in their direction, stomping toward them the second he realized who it was. “Lou, I told you, you have to get off this floor--” he paused, seeming to notice Nico for the first time. “You-- Are you Nico?”

Nico nodded, recognizing the voice from the phone. “Cecil, right?”

He nodded back. “Thank God you’re here,” he said. “Now Lou and I have a reason to go in there--” He stopped himself again, eyes widening. “Unless you don’t want us there, of course--”

“It’s fine,” Nico told him. “Where is he?”

“Down here.” Cecil led them down the hall a few rooms down before stopping to open one of the doors, holding it open for Nico to walk through.

His heart stopped when he entered the room, eyes landing on his battered fiance and feeling a sob build in his throat. He moved toward the bed, dropping heavily into the bedside chair and taking Will’s hand in his.

“Where’s his ring?” Nico asked, thumb brushing over the back of Will’s hand as he glanced up at Cecil across the room.

“We usually don’t allow the patients to wear jewelry while they’re here,” Cecil explained. “Especially rings and bracelets, because they can interfere with the blood pressure readings.”

Lou wheeled herself toward a table in the corner of the room, picking up a plastic bag. “He doesn’t care about that, Cecil, he wants his ring.” She propelled herself back over to Nico, handing him the bag. “This is all of his stuff.”

“Stuff?” Nico repeated, taking the bag and holding it in his lap.

“Clothes, shoes, wallet,” Cecil said. “Everything he had with him when he came in.” He jumped slightly, as if remembering something, and reached into his pocket. “Except for this.” He pulled out a phone with a shattered screen, handing it over to Nico.

Nico stared down at the phone before glancing back up at his fiance. “Can I have some time alone?”

Cecil nodded. “Of course.” He turned to leave, holding the door open for Lou on their way out.

Nico scooted his chair closer to the bedside, digging through the bag with one hand and still holding Will’s with the other.

“You should’ve tried harder to convince me to stay in bed,” he said softly, fingers closing around the ring and dragging it out.

“Bianca’s upset that you haven’t been home,” he continued, sliding the ring onto his hand. “She came home from school yesterday singing that song, the one that makes me think of you.”

He dropped the bag of Will’s clothes, clutching at Will’s hand with both of his. “You know which one I’m talking about,” he said. “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine--”

He started to sob.

Chapter Text

Nico sat lounging in an arm chair in his father’s living room, typing up a paper - it seemed like all he ever did anymore was type. He’d spent the last couple of hours in the woods behind the house, trudging through the snow, and had just finally gotten the feeling back in his toes when the doorbell rang.

He closed his laptop, having a feeling that he wouldn’t be adding any more to that paper any time soon, and rose to answer the door. He didn’t remember locking the door behind himself when he returned home, but he must have if Bianca was ringing the bell. He swung the door open, a snarky comment on the tip of his tongue before his eyes registered the sight before him.

A man stood on the doorstep - eyes bloodshot, cheeks and nose red, noticeable alcohol on his breath even from three feet away - arms holding loosely onto a broken body. The features of the body flickered before Nico’s eyes, but the drunken man stayed the same.

“She came out of nowhere,” the man slurred, his words echoing in Nico’s head. “Ran right into my car, I need a phone, do you have a phone I can use?”

As Nico stared down at the body in the man’s arms, the features solidified, no longer flickering long brown hair and soft pale skin. Instead, Nico saw tan skin, freckles, blond curls. He saw the blue eyes and recognized them, remembered seeing the sky in them, but now all he saw was shattered glass.

   

Nico gasped in a breath, feeling like he’d been deprived of air for just barely longer than he could stand. His heart was racing, pounding in his head like his skull was too small, pressing in on him and making him feel dizzy, disoriented. He didn’t even register the hand shaking his shoulder until a few moments had passed.

He sat up, pulling himself away from Will’s side but leaving a single hand resting over Will’s, and glanced up.

“Nico, your phone has been ringing for half an hour,” Cecil told him, pulling back his hand and straightening. “Or Will’s, maybe. It must be important.” Nico slipped his phone out of his pocket as Cecil turned to leave, reading 3 missed calls and 4:35pm.  “Also, visiting hours are over for the day, but I won’t force you to leave yet--”

Nico shot up from his seat. “I’m late,” he cut in, grabbing his coat and the bag of Will’s things. “Can I take this?” he asked, holding up the bag. Cecil barely had a chance to nod before Nico was rushing past him toward the door, and stopping. He turned back, moving to press a kiss to Will’s forehead, whispering, “I’ll be back soon. Wake up, would you?” and ran out into the hall.

He was running into Bianca’s school in about twenty minutes. He must’ve looked like quite the sight to the office receptionist who’d gotten stuck with the job of babysitting for the time being - messy hair, red eyes, breathing heavy from the run, probably had sleep lines on his face, too.

Bianca cried, “Nico!” when he entered the room, and the office lady asked, “Are you here to pick up Bianca?”

“Yes, I am,” Nico answered, still trying to catch his breath. “Do I have to sign something, or can we just leave?”

“Well, that depends,” the lady responded, clearly not minding that she would be staying there for another half an hour,  probably. “Nico, correct? You’re not listed as one of her parents. I’ll need to call her father to make sure you have permission to leave with her.”

Both Nico and Bianca started to protest at the same time, but she was already dialing the phone. Almost immediately, Will’s phone started ringing in Nico’s pocket. He answered, rolling his eyes as he did, though he didn’t bother going so far as to hold the device up to his ear - he didn’t want to look that stupid.

“I adopted Bianca a few months ago,” Nico told her, “so I shouldn’t need Will’s permission to pick her up from school, seeing as I’ve been doing it for about six months now, and I have Will’s phone, anyway. So can we leave?”

The lady nodded, still holding the phone up to her ear for some reason, and Nico grabbed Bianca’s backpack before they walked out of the building. As soon as Bianca was buckled into her car seat, she asked, “Did you see Daddy today?”

“I did,” Nico answered, starting up the car and pulling out of the parking space. “That’s how I got his phone. I’m sorry it took so long for me to come pick you up today, Bi, I lost track of the time.”

“That’s okay, Nico,” Bianca told him. “Where is Daddy?”

Nico tensed. “At the hospital, like always. We can talk about that later, though. Tell me what you did at school today.”

 

“Is Daddy gonna be home for dinner?” Bianca asked after she took her backpack into her bedroom.

“Actually, Bi, there’s something I have to tell you,” Nico told her. He set his hands on her shoulders, kneeling down so they could be at eye-level. “Daddy’s not gonna be home tonight, okay? Maybe not for a few days. He was in an accident, in his car, and he got hurt.”

“But he’s okay, right?” Bianca asked, wide-eyed.

“Of course,” Nico assured her. “He’s gonna be back to normal really soon, but right now, he’s got some broken bones and lots of bruises. He’s been sleeping for a while because he’ll get better sooner if he does. Which means that when we go to visit him at the hospital tomorrow - if you want, we don’t have to if you don’t want to - he might still be sleeping.”

“I wanna see him,” Bianca said. “I wanna go now.”

“We can’t go now, the hospital won’t let us.”

“Why not?” she asked with a frown.

“They have rules for when you can be there,” Nico explained. “They won’t let us be there right now because it’s too late, but I can pick you up early from school tomorrow, and we can go then, okay?”

Bianca nodded sadly.

Nico squeezed her shoulders. “Now, what do you want for dinner? I’ll make you anything you want, I promise.”

 

Nico brought his computer with him the next day, picking Bianca up from school an hour early, mostly to avoid traffic. When they arrived at the hospital, Will was still asleep, and Bianca asked what the point of being there was if they couldn’t talk to him.

Nico thought it was a pretty good question. But he wasn’t going to leave until somebody kicked him out, good question or not.

“If Daddy’s sleeping, then why is he sitting up like that?” Bianca asked.

Nico sat down and pulled Bianca into his lap. “A few of his ribs are broken,” Nico started, tapping his fingers against the side of Bianca’s ribcage, “right over here, and so is his collarbone--” he brought up a hand to point out Bianca’s collarbone “--so when he lays down flat, it’s hard for the air to get to his lungs. And if he moves around too much, the broken pieces could move around too, and make him hurt more.”

Bianca nodded. She stayed quiet for a moment, seeming to be looking over Will’s injuries, before she asked, “Why’s all the bad stuff over here?” She pointed to Will’s left side, where there were more bruises and breaks than the right.

“When Daddy’s car was in the accident, the left side got hit, so his left side got hurt the worst.”

“Why’s he still asleep?”

“Like I said yesterday, Bi,” Nico said with a sigh, “the more he sleeps, the better he’ll feel when he wakes up.”

“Can we wake him up?”

Nico shook his head. “I tried yesterday, but he’s too stubborn. It’s better that he sleeps ‘til he’s ready.”

“But this is boring,” Bianca complained.

“I’m sorry, Bi,” Nico told her with a shrug. “We can do your homework for a little while and see if he wakes up when we’re done.”

 

Every other problem of her math homework, Bianca would check and see if Will was awake yet. She did the same with her reading questions, and her social studies. By the time they were completely finished, Will still wasn’t awake, and Bianca was bored again.

It was around that time, though, that Lou Ellen wheeled herself into the room, greeting Nico when she entered.

“Any news, Ghostie?” she asked, and Nico rolled his eyes at the nickname.

“Not yet,” Nico responded, before turning to Bianca. “Bi, this is Lou, she’s Daddy’s friend.”

Lou wheeled her chair closer. “You’re Bianca? I’ve heard so much about you! Oh my goodness, you’re so cute!”

“Do you know when Daddy’s gonna wake up?” Bianca asked.

Lou shook her head. “No, honey, I’m sorry, I don’t.”

Bianca crossed her arms. “Then I wanna go home! I don’t wanna sit here any longer!”

Nico sighed. “Bi--”

“What if I take you for a ride on my wheelchair?” Lou suggested, looking to Nico for permission. “I can show you all my favorite places in the hospital.”

 

Nico tried his best to get some work done while Bianca was gone with Lou, but he could not, for the life of him, focus. He was relaxed in his seat - as much as he could be in his current environment - had a fresh document open on his computer, and even had his glasses on so he wouldn’t strain his eyes after typing for too long.

But he had nothing.

He couldn’t write anything when he could look up at any point and see his fiance, unconscious in a hospital bed. He felt like he could barely think half the time, so he clearly wasn’t going to be thinking up any stories anytime soon.

He took a second to close his eyes, hoping to clear his mind, but ended up falling asleep again.

He couldn’t have been asleep long, because when he opened his eyes, Bianca and Lou were still gone, but Nico felt his hand twitching. No, not his own hand, the hand under his. Will’s hand.

He was so focused on the movement of Will’s fingers that he didn’t see Will’s eyes opening, or his mouth forming words, until he heard, “Is that the Ghost King, here to claim my suffering soul?” in an overdramatic voice.

Will was awake.

Chapter Text

Nico stared into the sky. For the first time in what seemed like forever, he saw his favorite shade of blue. Sure, he could’ve stepped outside and looked up and he would’ve gotten something similar, but this? This was cloudless and pure,  one of the things that Nico loved most.

“God, you’re such an asshole,"  Nico choked out, clutching tightly to Will’s hand.

“So’re you,” Will drawled. Nico couldn’t tell if he sounded tired or drugged up. Probably a little bit of both. “Put me out of my misery already, would you?”

“You wouldn’t be in any misery if you’d tried a little harder to convince me to stay home,” Nico muttered.

“What’re you talking about?” Will asked, head lolling to the side.

Nico felt an electric shock travel up his spine. “What do you mean? Do you not remember-- The morning of your accident. Do you not remember talking to me before you left?”

Will shook his head slowly. “Nope,” he said, popping the p. “Don’t even remember the accident.”

It was like ice was moving through Nico’s veins. “But...you remember me,  right?”

“Of course!” Will called out with a grin. “You’re the Ghost King.”

“But you remember my name, too, right?” Nico pressed, feeling panic rising within him. “A-and that we live together? And--”

Nico’s sentence was broken off by a loud laugh. “Of course I remember you, Nico,” Will told him, suddenly seeming a lot more awake and aware than before. “How could I forget you?”

“Will, you piece of shit,” Nico said voice raising and the icy blood in his veins melting in an instant. “Were you playing a trick on me?”

Will nodded, laughing so hard now that he couldn’t get the words out, until his smile twinged with a look of pain, and Will gasped for breath. He rested his free hand gently over the ribs on his left side. “Ah! Ow, shit.”

“That’s what you get, asshole,” Nico grumbled, though he settled down quickly as well. He stroked his thumb over the back of Will’s hand. “I should let someone know that you’re awake. But I don’t wanna leave.”

“I’m fine, babe. I’m not gonna pass out in the two seconds it takes for you to walk into the hall.” He laced their fingers together, glancing down and noticing his silver ring back on Nico’s finger. “Why’re you wearing my ring?”

Nico followed his gaze, seemingly having forgotten that the ring was there. “The doctors wouldn’t let you keep it on, said it messed with some of the readings or something.” He raised an eyebrow at his fiance. “Shouldn’t you know this?”

Will smiled at him. “I do know that. I didn’t ask why I wasn’t wearing it. I asked why you are wearing it.”

Nico felt his cheeks pinking up and stared back down at their joined hands with a shrug. “Felt like somebody should be wearing it, I guess. I dunno.”

Will squeezed his hand. “You love me,” he said in a teasing tone.

“Yeah,” Nico agreed easily. “What’re you gonna do about it?”

“When I can move again without feeling like my lungs’ll get punctured,” Will started, “I’m gonna kiss you so hard."

“Ooh, I’m terrified,” Nico told him, rising from his seat and leaning over the bed. He pressed a feather-light kiss to Will’s lips, remaining close as he said, “Nothing more than that until you’re completely better, got it?” Will nodded, stretching his neck out and kissing Nico with barely any more force than Nico had used, but Nico drew back almost immediately with an affronted look on his face. “Breaking the rules already? I can’t believe a doctor would act in such a way.”

Will shrugged a single shoulder - the other one hurt too much to move. “You do what you gotta do, babe.”

Chapter Text

Lou had shown Bianca around the entire hospital - besides, of course, the off-limits areas like the surgical floor and the emergency room - and soon enough circled back around to ICU. Cecil was making his way down the hall toward them, studying a chart as he went and clearly not paying any attention to his surroundings until Lou wheeled her chair right up in front of him.

“Might wanna watch where you’re going, Cecil,” Lou said when he finally looked up from the chart in his hands.

“Lou, what’re you--” Cecil stopped himself when he noticed Bianca sitting on Lou’s lap. He crouched down until they were eye-level. “Hi, Bianca, what are you doing here?”

“Nico brought me to see Daddy,” she answered, “but he’s still sleeping.”

Cecil aimed a blank stare up at Lou. “So what, you showed her every off-limits area in the entire building?”

“Have some faith, Cecil,” Lou shot back. “Nowhere off-limits, just the cafeteria and the waiting rooms and whatever. Any news on Will yet?”

Cecil shook his head, gaze dropping back to the chart in his hand - Will’s, Lou could see, now that it was closer. “I was just heading that way to check on him.”

“Us, too.”

Cecil rose back to his full height, stepping around to the back of Lou’s wheelchair and taking a hold of the handles. “Let’s see what’s going on, then.”

The three of them rolled the rest of the way down the hall until they were outside Will’s room. Over the beeping of the machines sounding from within the room, Lou could hear a faint whispering, and then sudden laughter - definitely not something she was expecting.

When the three of them entered the room, Nico had his fingers laced with Will’s, pressing smiling kisses to his knuckles, as Will used his free hand to cover his eyes as he laughed.

“Ah!” Will cried through his laughter. “My ribs! Neeks, stop, you’re killing me!”

“I don’t know what kind of gross PDA this is,” Cecil started, voice loud and clear to alert Will and Nico of his presence, “but whatever it is, I don’t think the hospital can condone it.”

“Shut up, Cecil,” Will said, his laughter finally dying down.

“Daddy, we don’t say ‘shut up’ to people,” Bianca scolded, sliding off of Lou’s lap and running over to his bedside. “That’s mean.”

“You’re right, Bi,” Will said, untangling his hand from Nico’s and running his fingers through his daughter’s hair. “I’m sorry.”

“You should say sorry to Doctor Cecil.”

Will rolled his eyes, but turned to Cecil, who was now standing opposite of where Nico was sitting, reading the monitors and writing things down in Will’s chart. “I’m sorry, Cecil.”

“Sure, man,” Cecil responded, then turned to Nico. “How long has he been awake?”

Nico lifted Bianca off the ground, pulling her into his lap, before reaching for Will’s hand again. “I’m not sure. Five minutes? Ten, maybe?”

“Probably closer to ten,” Will confirmed.

“And how are you feeling, Will?” Cecil continued. “Headache? Dizzy? Lightheaded? Trouble breathing?”

“I’m good, Cecil,” Will told him. “Everything’s fine. Why’re you doing this, anyway? You’re a pediatrician. There’s no possible way that you’re my doctor.”

“Unimportant,” Cecil said, pulling out a stethoscope and taking a second to listen to Will’s chest.

“A little bit important,” Will replied.

“Doctor Cecil Markowitz,” Lou started from across the room, “are you performing medical tasks illegally?”

Cecil rolled his eyes. “Shut-- your mouth, Lou, it’s not illegal.”

“Alright, forgot about his actual doctor,” Nico said, running his thumb across the back of Will’s hand. “When can we go home?”

Chapter Text

Will was discharged from the hospital into Nico’s care. He was a little shaky on his feet after having not moved from his hospital bed for almost five days, so Nico insisted that Will use a wheelchair to get him out to the car. When Nico started the car, he looked over at Will, whose head was pressed back into the headrest, his eyes closed, drawing in deep, even breaths.

Nico reached over, setting a hand on Will’s thigh. “Will? Are you alright?”

Will cracked his eyes open, smiling softly. “I’m fine, darling, just...not the biggest fan of cars at the moment.”

Nico frowned. “If there was another way to get you home, Will, you know that’s what I’d choose, but--”

“Nico,” Will cut in, covering Nico’s hand with his own - the one not held against his chest in a sling. “It’s fine. Let’s go home.” He squeezed Nico’s hand once before releasing it, allowing Nico to shift the car into reverse and back out of the parking space.

 

When Nico led Will into their house, Will sighed. “It’s good to be home.”

“It’s good to have you home,” Nico told him softly. “Where do you wanna go, couch or bed?”

“Couch,” Will answered instantly, and Nico led him over, sitting him down before kneeling in front of him to untie his shoes. “I can take my own shoes off, babe.”

“Not when you were given specific instructions to refrain from bending your spine, you can’t,” Nico insisted, taking Will’s shoes and walking out of the room, returning a moment later with empty hands and his own shoeless feet. He sat down next to Will, leaning carefully against Will’s uninjured side.

“My ribs were screwed back together,” Will reminded him. “It’s not like one wrong move of my spine will just pop them back out of place.”

“I’m not willing to risk that,” Nico said, threading his fingers through Will’s. “Do you need me to get you anything? Something to eat? Drink?”

“I’m fine, Nico,” Will told him, turning his head toward his fiance and accepting a tiny kiss. “You don’t have to worry about me, I can take care of myself.”

“Yeah, okay, but I can take care of you, too,” Nico responded. “Isn’t taking care of each other one of the main points of marriage?”

“I suppose,” Will said. “But we’re not married.”

“Not yet. Maybe I want to get a little practice in before we are.”

Will rolled his eyes, but smiled at his fiance. “Alright, fine, you can take care of me if you really want to.”

Nico reached up, fingers tracing along Will’s jaw line as he said, “Thanks, but I wasn’t asking for permission.”

Will met Nico’s lips in another kiss. “God, I missed you.”

Nico smiled. “Don’t even get me started. At least you were unconscious for most of the time we were apart.” He leaned his forehead against Will’s. “I missed you, too,” he sighed.

“You know,” Will started, voice just above a whisper, “I’ve got six to eight weeks before I’m allowed back inside that hospital for anything other than checkups. We’ve got about two months of time to plan as much of a wedding as we can.”

Nico was beaming. “That’s right, we do. I’ve got you all to myself for two months.”

“Well, aside from when Bianca’s here,” Will responded, and Nico jumped to his feet.

“I have to go get her from school!” Nico exclaimed. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Do you need anything before I leave?”

“Another kiss would be nice,” Will said after pretending to think for a moment.

Nico leaned down, pressing his lips to Will’s once more before stepping back. “I love you!” he called as he rushed out of the room.

“I love you more,” Will called after him.

Nico poked his head around the corner, pointing an accusing finger at his fiance. “We can have that argument when I get back.”

 

As Nico led Bianca out of her school, Bianca asked, “Nico, are we gonna visit Daddy at the hospital today?”

“Nope,” Nico answered. “Not anymore, because I brought him back home today. He’s waiting for us back at home right now.”

“Really?” Bianca exclaimed, jumping up and down and tugging on Nico’s arm.

“Yes, really, so let’s hurry back so I can make dinner,” Nico responded. He opened up the back seat for Bianca to climb in and made sure she had her seatbelt buckled before getting into the front seat and starting the car. “Now remember, just because Daddy’s home, doesn’t mean he’s all better. He’s still hurt, and he’s got his arm in a sling still, so you have to be careful, okay? You can’t jump on him when he’s sitting on the couch, and you can’t pull on his arms like you do with me sometimes. Got it?”

“Got it,” Bianca said with a nod.

“Good. Let’s get going.” Nico pulled out of the parking lot and started heading home.

As they went, Bianca told Nico about the things she did at school that day, how her friend Mary tripped and fell when they were playing tag at recess, how Jessica had to sit out in the hall during class because she was being disruptive during class.

Bianca had just exhausted all of her stories of the day when they pulled into the driveway. She had jumped out of the car and ran up to the door before Nico had even gotten his seatbelt unbuckled. Nico glanced into the backseat before exiting the car, noticing that Bianca had left her backpack on the floor.

He took the backpack inside - the door having been left open a crack when Bianca had run inside - and went to stand at the edge of the living room.

Bianca was sitting next to Will on the couch, having already jumped back into the stories she’d told Nico on the ride home.

“Hey, Bi,” Nico called across the room, “are you forgetting something?”

Bianca turned to look at him, sliding off the couch and rushing over to take her backpack from Nico. “Thank you, Nico.” She took the bag, starting to head toward her room, when Nico asked, “Do you have any homework?”

“Yes,” Bianca sighed, turning back around and taking her backpack to the dining room table.

“How about you get started on that, and since Daddy’s home, he can help you while I start dinner,” Nico suggested, and turned to Will. “You good with that, Sunshine?”

“Whatever you say, darling,” Will replied sweetly, slowly lifting himself off the couch and making his way across the room. He made to walk right past Nico, but he was stopped by an um, excuse me. “Yes, darling?”

“I think you’re forgetting something,” Nico told him, fingers moving to angle Will’s head downward, rising up on his toes to press a kiss to Will’s lips. “Alright, you’re free to go.”

Will rolled his eyes, smiling at his fiance’s actions. “Thanks, babe.” He stepped around Nico, going toward the open seat at Bianca’s side. He was overly cautious as he lowered himself down into the seat, his legs still a little stiff from disuse, but he managed to sit without a problem.

He was leaned forward slightly, looking over Bianca’s shoulder to see what kind of work she was doing today, when he felt a gentle hand on his good shoulder, pulling him back until he was sitting up straight.

“No bending your spine, remember,” Nico reminded him, thumb stroking the skin just above the collar of Will’s shirt, his other hand moving to comb through Will’s hair. “Was there anything in particular you might want for dinner? I figured you should have the say, since all you’ve been eating is hospital food for a few days.”

Will shook his head. “Make whatever the two of you want. I’m not that hungry, anyway.”

Nico frowned, moving around Will’s chair to look him in the eye. “What do you mean, you’re not hungry? Is that normal?”

Will shrugged his good shoulder. “A lot of people don’t have much of an appetite after undergoing surgery, even a few days later. It’s...kind of normal, I guess. Yeah.”

Nico didn’t really look like he believed him, but let it slide. “Alright, Bi, what do you want for dinner, then?”

Without any hesitation, Bianca answered, “Mac and cheese.”

“Homemade, or from the box?” Nico asked.

“If you make homemade, can I help?” she asked, looking up from the paper in front of her.

“Only if you finish your homework first,” Nico told her. “Then you can help.” He turned back to Will, brushing his fingers through his fiance’s hair once more. “Need anything before I start cooking?”

“Glass of water?” Will asked.

“Sure,” Nico said with a soft smile. “Bi, do you want some water?”

“Yes, please.”

 

Later that night, after Bianca had gone to sleep, Nico had started gathering as many pillows as he could find onto his and Will’s bed. Will still needed to sleep sitting upright so as to not accidently crush or puncture one of his vital organs, so Nico needed to make sure he was propped up as much as possible.

Will, who had been yawning for the last half hour and just wanted to sleep, didn’t appreciate all the fussing. He knew that, no matter what, he wouldn’t be able to sleep well, but he wanted to get whatever small amount of sleep he could, just to finally get some rest - hospitals were not the place to find rest.

Finally, after using up every pillow from the guest room and all but one pillow on their bed, Nico seemed satisfied with Will’s posture. “Okay, you stay right there, and I’m gonna go get your pain pills.”

“No, I don’t need those,” Will told him. “I’m fine.”

“They might help you sleep better, though,” Nico reminded him.

Will sighed, knowing that Nico meant well but also knowing that a drug-induced sleep was nowhere near as nice as a drugless sleep. He nodded anyway. “Okay, fine, I’ll take them.”

Nico grinned. “I’ll be right back.”

Will tried to relax back into the pillows while Nico was gone, hoping that maybe if he fell asleep instantly, Nico wouldn’t make him take those pills, but he wasn’t so lucky.

“Here, Will,” he said, holding out the pills in one hand, waiting for Will to take them from him. “Two pills, and a glass of water.” He waited for Will to pop the pills into his mouth before handing him the glass, pausing for Will to take a drink, then accepting the glass when Will offered it back to him. He left it on Will’s nightstand.

The lights were turned off and Nico climbed into bed next to Will, making sure to be on Will’s good side just in case he happened to move around in his sleep that night. He wrapped an arm around Will’s thigh, tucking his face against Will’s hipbone - it was surprisingly more comfortable than he expected.

“Goodnight,” Nico mumbled. “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Will told him, threading his fingers into Nico’s hair. He tipped his head back to rest against the pillows behind him, wanting to simply fall asleep, but something was preventing him from doing so.

“Hey, Neeks,” he whispered, and felt Nico nod against his hip. “You seemed different today. Not bad different, just...more affectionate? And I said, that’s not bad different, it’s just… different.”

Nico’s arm tightened minutely around Will’s leg. “I missed you, you know? I guess that was my way for making up for not seeing you for so long. I-- It’s really hard to sleep when you’re not here, and just being able to hear your voice today, that was pretty...calming, I guess? Soothing? I dunno, I just missed you. A lot.”

“I’ve missed you, too,” Will whispered, allowing them to fall back into silence.

“Were you serious, when you first woke up, that you didn’t remember what happened the morning of the accident?” Nico asked, turning his face into Will’s side, as if trying to hide from whatever Will’s answer might’ve been.

“Mostly,” Will told him. “I don’t remember that morning almost at all, just when I was in the ambulance and the ER. I’ve been told I was conscious most of the time, though.”

“Then you don’t remember asking me to stay in bed all day with you,” Nico said softly, mumbling just enough that Will had to strain to hear what was being said. “You didn’t wanna go to work, and if Bianca hadn’t had to get ready for school, I would’ve stayed there with you all day and all night, especially if I would’ve known about the accident about to happen. I never would’ve let you leave the house if I knew.”

He looked up at Will in the dark. “Next time you get a feeling like that, like you really wanna stay home from work, try a little harder to convince me, okay? Please.”

“I will, I promise,” Will replied, brushing his fingers through Nico’s hair. “Only if you promise not to keep taking care of me like you are now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I mean, I can do some things myself,” Will answered, voice remaining calm and collected. “Like, I can take off my own shoes. Yeah, I can’t put them back on very well, but you gotta let me do some things for myself, alright?”

“I didn’t know it was bothering you that much,” Nico said, voice barely a whisper. “Is there anything else?”

“Yeah, one more thing,” Will said. “I love you more.”

Nico groaned, pressing his forehead against Will’s hipbone. “I’m too tired to have this argument right now, let’s do it tomorrow.”

“Okay, but I can’t promise you’ll win,” Will told him, eyelids starting to droop as he felt the pain pills starting to kick in. Fast acting. Nice. “I do kinda love you a whole lot, so I’ll be pretty hard to beat.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that, Sunshine. Now go to bed before you fall asleep in the middle of a sentence.”

Chapter Text

Will’s morning started out much like any other: waking up next to the man he loved, helping Bianca get ready for school, and getting in his car to go to work. He’d always considered his drive to be rather boring, and after all this time driving back and forth, Will practically drove on autopilot. Left turn out of his neighborhood. Right turn onto the highway and cross the bridge into Manhattan. Take the downtown exit, stop at the light. It was incredibly simple, just one more right turn and he was pulling into the hospital’s parking lot, but simple was boring. Sometimes, the drive nearly put him to sleep.

He was stopped at the light, the hospital in sight just down the road, and he watched as the crossing traffic began to slow, before coming to a stop. The light overhead turned green, and Will’s car slowly pushed forward. He didn’t see the other car until it had already blown through the light, already crashed into the driver’s side of Will’s car. He didn’t see the car until his leg was trapped between the crushed metal and plastic of the footwell, until he lifted his head from the airbag, until he struggled for breath under the weight of his broken ribs.

Will coughed and gasped and woke himself up from his nightmare, choking as he tried to calm himself down. His eyes were still squeezed shut - he didn’t think he’d ever opened them - but he felt a hand on his cheek, soft and warm and calming, and he heard Nico’s voice, soft and warm and calming like his touch.

“Will,” he breathed, pressing his forehead against Will’s. “Shh, take a breath. Breathe with me, Sunshine.” Nico took Will’s good hand in his, pulling it to his chest and holding it there. “Deep breaths, babe. Everything’s fine. It was just a dream, Sunshine.” He stroked Will’s cheek with the tips of his fingers until Will finally opened his eyes. “There you are,” Nico sighed happily, smiling at his fiance. “Even after a week in a hospital, you still have to rise with the sun, huh? What’s wrong, how can I help?”

Will leaned into Nico’s touch, sighing as he felt his heart continue to pound against his broken bones. “Nightmare,” Will breathed.

“I kinda figured,” Nico commented. “Wanna talk about it?”

He shook his head gently. “Maybe later.”

“Talking about it might help,” Nico reminded him, running a hand through Will’s hair. “I’m gonna get Bi up for school, but whenever you’re ready, okay?”

Will tilted his head up, brushing his lips against Nico’s. He dropped his head back into his pillows as Nico left the room, but as soon as Will closed his eyes, the crash replayed in his head. He opened his eyes, rubbing at his face with his good hand, and tried again. Over and over again, the cars collided in his head, the sounds echoing in his ears, his pulse steadily rising with each repeat.

He stopped trying when he heard the door open, snapping him out of that cycle. Bianca climbed into the bed on Will’s good side, wrapping her father in a hug and Nico sat down on the edge of the mattress.

“Goodbye, Daddy,” Bianca said, kissing Will on the cheek.

“Bye, Bi,” Will responded with a kiss to Bianca’s forehead. “I’ll see you after school.”

“Put on your coat and shoes, Princess,” Nico told her, resting a hand on Will’s thigh and stroking with his thumb. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Bianca hopped off the bed, heading out of the room as Nico leaned forward. “Need anything before I go, Sunshine?”

Will sat up, cupping Nico’s face in his hand and pressed his lips against Nico’s. “Just that you hurry back.” He paused. “And...be careful, okay?”

Concern flashed across Nico’s face, though it was gone so fast that Will thought he might’ve imagined it. “I’m always careful, babe. I’ll be back soon.”

He kissed Will once more before heading out of the room.

 

While Will was alone, he took advantage of the empty house to stretch out his legs. He could still be a little shaky on his feet sometimes, and he knew that he needed to get his strength back up rather than lay around on the couch for the next month.

He was used to walking close to two miles a day, just from running up and down hallways at the hospital, yet already, after three laps around the inside of the house, Will was feeling the muscles in his legs beginning to burn.

He continued for a few more laps anyway, walking until his feet ached before he finally decided to stop. He took a moment to get himself a cup of coffee before sitting down on the couch, lifting his legs up onto the cushions as he did.

Will had just turned the TV on when he heard the front door opening. Nico came around the corner after a moment, lifting Will’s feet off the couch and sitting down, placing Will’s feet in his lap.

“You’re back faster than I expected,” Will commented, turning the volume down on the TV.

Nico shrugged. “You said to hurry back. Who am I to keep my love waiting?”

Will grinned. “Your love?”

“My love,” Nico repeated. “I love you.”

“You’re a dork,” Will told him, poking him in the stomach with his foot.

“A dork you’re in love with,” Nico said. He pinched the bottom of one of Will’s feet, but his fiance didn’t even so much as flinch. “What were you doing while I was gone?”

“Walked around a little bit,” Will said with a shrug of his good shoulder. “Got a cup of coffee. My legs are kinda sore now, though.”

“After only twenty minutes?”

“It’s been a while since I walked around that much,” Will said in his defense. “Muscles get stiff when you don’t use them, darling. You know what might help, though?”

Nico tipped his head to rest on the back of the couch. “No, what?”

Will wiggled his toes. “Foot rub? It would help the circulation in my legs.”

Nico rolled his eyes. “Yeah, uh huh.” He reached down and grabbed one of Will’s feet, digging his thumbs into the muscle. Will picked up the remote once more, turning the volume back up on the TV, though instead of focusing his gaze on the screen, his eyes strayed back to Nico’s face.

Nico’s hair had gotten longer - of course it had, Will didn’t remember the last time Nico got a haircut - and his bangs brushed against his eyebrows. Will remembered back to when they’d first met, when Nico’s hair barely curled over the tops of his ears, but now it was long enough to pull back into a ponytail - Will also remembered the ponytail very well.

He thought back to the first time he’d gotten lost in Nico’s eyes, trying to find the distinction between the darkest brown of his irises and the purest black of his pupils. Will had familiarized himself with those eyes so much after their time together that he could see the difference even from across the couch. He tipped his head to the side to rest against the back of the couch, letting out a gentle sigh.

Nico glanced over at him, curling a lock of hair behind his ear and smiling softly when he saw Will’s eyes on him. “What’re you looking at?” Nico asked, hands stilling against Will’s skin.

“The prettiest boy in all the world,” Will answered dramatically.

Nico ducked his head, running the pads of his fingers lightly across the bottom of Will’s foot, causing Will to twitch away from him.

“Hey,” Will protested, “none of that.”

“What are you gonna do about it?” Nico asked, tickling Will’s other foot.

Will pulled his feet away, tucking them underneath Nico’s thigh.

“Cheater.” Nico pinched at Will’s ankle.

“I remembered the accident,” Will blurted out without even realizing he was going to say anything about it.

“You did?” Nico asked quietly. “Is that...what you dreamed about?”

Will nodded. “I was at that stoplight, about a block from the hospital,” he started, dropping his eyes from where Nico was staring at him intently, rubbing slow circles into Will’s ankle with his thumb. “The light was green, so I went, but the other guy ran a red. I-I think he hit the front of the car more than the side, but the door was crushed a-and--”

“Will,” Nico interrupted carefully. “You don’t have to tell me.”

Will nodded again, though this time his mouth remained shut.

“I know you’ve been walking around a bunch already today, and you probably don’t want to get in a car,” Nico started, “but if you’re feeling up to it, we could go by the junkyard where they took your car. We don’t have to, I totally get it if you don’t feel comfortable with that, but we have to sometime. It doesn’t have to be today--”

“No,” Will started, and Nico was prepared to let the subject drop when Will continued: “Let’s go today. Let’s get it over with.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Will told him. “But breakfast first.”

 

Nico felt his heart break at the sight of Will’s car amongst the surrounding wrecks. A few of the nearby cars were rusted out, too far gone to be fixed so instead they’d been trashed. Will’s, however, was a wreck.

There wasn’t an angle that the damage couldn’t be seen. The driver’s door had come off completely and was leaning against the side of the car - Will said that it’d been cut off because the EMTs hadn’t been able to get any of the doors open. The windshield was webbed with cracks. The tire had pushed through the metal into the footwell, and Nico could see the used airbags dangling out from the steering wheel and the dashboard on the passenger’s side.

Nico grasped Will’s hand, squeezing it tight as he felt tears beginning to prick at the corners of his eyes. Will squeezed back as Nico took a shaky breath.

“I knew it was bad,” Nico whispered, “of course it was bad, but I didn’t realize--”

“Darling,” Will cut in. “I’m practically fine. It could’ve been a lot worse, but I’m fine. You don’t need to get so upset.”

Nico nodded, taking a deep breath. “I know. I just-- It’s kinda shocking, you know?”

“I know,” Will responded. “It’s kinda freaking me out, too. Let’s get this over with, yeah?”

They started with Nico pulling the door away from the side of the car so they had enough space to get inside. Nico brushed away a few tiny shards of glass that had landed on the seat before kneeling on the chair and popping open the console between the seats. He pulled out a phone charger and a pair of sunglasses, handing them back to Will, before reaching for the glove box.

As the door dropped open, a few wallet-sized pictures fell onto the floor, along with a few napkins. Nico leaned down to pick up one of the pictures, feeling simple printer paper between his fingers and seeing an unfamiliar picture when he turned it over.

Nico turned back to Will, moving fast enough that Will’s eyes lingered a second too long on where Nico had been a moment before. Nico, about to ask about the picture, smirked instead and asked, “What were you looking at?”

Will tilted his head and smiled sweetly. “Tight jeans and a nice ass.”

Nico shoved lightly at Will’s hip. “What’s this picture of me I’ve never seen before doing in your glove box?”

Will shrugged. “Lou wanted to see a picture of you, and I’m not allowed to have my phone on me during work.”

“You have her phone number, don’t you?”

“I didn’t then.”

Nico turned the picture back to face himself. “When did you take this? I haven’t seen that shirt I’m wearing in months. Is that--?” He gasped. “That’s the shirt that your washing machine ripped up! You took this before we even started dating!”

Will glanced off to the side, pink rising on his cheeks.

“Oh my god,” Nico laughed, “you’re such a creep! I can’t believe I never knew you took this picture of me, when was this?”

Will scratched at the back of his head, mumbling, “Sometime around Bi’s career day, maybe?”

Nico stood up, rising onto his toes and pressing a chaste kiss to Will’s lips. “You had a crush on me,” Nico sang.

“Yeah, yeah,” Will said with a roll of his eyes. “So did you.”

“Still do.”

 

While they were out, they decided to pick Bianca up from school early, even though she still had about two hours worth of class left in the day; she didn’t seem to mind.

Will needed to sit for a while when they got home, heading back to the couch where he’d been that morning, as Nico helped Bianca with her homework. Will let his eyes slip shut, feeling himself drifting off to sleep, when the sudden memory of the crash startled him awake. Just like that morning, Will tried a few times to rest, but was constantly interrupted by his thoughts. Finally, when Will felt like he might’ve gotten about five full minutes of sleep, Nico woke him up with a soft voice and a gentle hand in his hair, telling him that dinner had been made and was set out on the table.

Will felt more tired then than he had before he’d fallen asleep.

 

Nico had tucked Bianca into bed about ten minutes ago, and now sat with his head resting on Will’s good shoulder, legs thrown over Will’s lap. Will’s thumb rubbed slow circles into Nico’s hipbone, just barely slipping under the edge of his t-shirt. On the TV was some sitcom that neither of them had ever heard of before, though they weren’t really watching, simply enjoying each other’s company.

Nico tipped his head up, nose brushing against Will’s jaw as he did. “How are your legs feeling?”

Will flexed his feet, getting a feel for the level of near-constant stiffness he had. “Pretty okay, I guess. Why?”

“It’s been a while since you’ve showered,” Nico reminded him. “If you’re feeling up to it, you might want to have one. Or a bath, maybe?”

Will’s head tilted down, the tip of his nose tapping against Nico’s, humming as he did so. “I suppose I’m up for that. Whichever. As long as you join me.” He smiled when Nico rolled his eyes.

Nico lifted his legs off of Will’s lap, rising off the couch and holding out a hand for his fiance. “I guess I can join you,” Nico said with false exasperation. “At least I’ll know you’re actually bathing and not just soaking in dirty bath water for an hour.”

“So little faith.” Will shook his head as Nico pulled him to his feet.

“Uh huh,” Nico hummed, leading Will toward the bathroom and pushing him carefully through the door. “I’ll be right back.”

Nico turned around, heading to their bedroom to gather a change of clothes for the both of them, and when he returned, Will was in the process of filling up the tub with warm water. He stood from where he was sitting on the edge of the tub, waiting as Nico closed the door and set down the clothes.

“Turn around so I can undo your sling,” Nico told him, twirling his finger in the air. Will turned his back to Nico, who undid the buckles on the sling, one that wrapped around Will’s shoulder and one that rounded low on his ribcage. As Nico pulled away the sling, setting it aside with their clothes, Will turned to face him, already unbuttoning his shirt with the use of both hands - his bad shoulder held stiff even without the help of the sling. As Will worked on the buttons on his shirt, Nico undid Will’s pants, carefully tugging them down.

“Eager, aren’t you?” Will commented with a smirk.

“Would you rather I let you hurt your shoulder by taking your own pants off?” Nico offered sarcastically. He reached up when Will finished with the buttons on his shirt, pulling the sleeve off his good arm and repeating the motion with the bad, though much slower and more careful.

Nico’s fingertips grazed Will’s skin, brushing around the scars from his surgeries, eying the still present bruising around the area. “Aren’t you not supposed to get stitches wet?” he asked, fingers lingering on Will’s chest.

“For a certain amount of time,” Will told him, fingering the bottom hem of Nico’s t-shirt. “These should be fine, but we’ll keep the water level low anyway, just in case.”

“You’re sure?” Nico asked, looking up at him with concern.

“Of course I’m sure,” Will promised with a cocky smile. “I’m a doctor.”

Nico rolled his eyes, stepping back, and pulled his shirt off over his head.

Chapter Text

For about the past year, Nico and Annabeth had had near weekly phone calls in the mornings whenever Annabeth had a day off work. She would call after she’d dropped Luke off at school or daycare, and together the two of them would chat, usually because Annabeth needed someone to complain to about the most recent act of stupidity from Percy. Nico had started sharing more and more of his life with Will during these calls, until Annabeth was constantly pestering him to bring Will and Bianca over for dinner sometime.

The most recent call came after Nico had dropped Bianca off at school. He’d noticed that Will hadn’t slept well the night before and left him to rest while he went to the kitchen to clean up the dishes from breakfast. That’s when Annabeth called.

Without much greeting, Annabeth asked, “How’s Will?”

Nico propped the phone between his shoulder and his ear before dunking his hands into the sink filled with water. “He’s okay, I don’t think he slept much last night. I think he’s probably in a lot of pain but keeps insisting he’s fine and refuses to take any pain pills.”

“They’re pretty strong doses, aren’t they?” Annabeth asked. “He probably just doesn’t want to be completely drugged up all the time. It’s difficult to do things when you’re like that, things like, I don’t know, plan a wedding? And speaking of, should I be expecting a save-the-date card in the mail anytime soon?”

“We haven’t exactly had that much time to do any planning yet,” Nico told her. “I’ll see if he’s up for it later today, though. I’ve only got him stuck here for less than a month now, but we’re both kind of focused on other things.”

“Oh, yeah, your classes are ending soon, right?” Annabeth asked. “How’re those going?”

“Almost done,” Nico sighed. “I have one last huge paper to finish up my last class, but then it’ll all be over.”

“Glad to hear it. Soon you won’t be able to use those classes as an excuse not to come over sometime. And bring Will and Bianca. And a wedding date for me to put in my calendar.”

“Just because I’m not busy, doesn’t mean Will and Bianca aren’t,” Nico reminded her.

“We at least get to meet them before the wedding, right?” Annabeth confirmed. “I know you’re gonna take him to meet Sally to get her approval, at least.”

Nico hadn’t even thought of taking Will to meet Sally. “I don’t need Sally’s approval,” he muttered, scrubbing the plate in his hands a little more furiously than necessary.

“Sure you don’t,” Annabeth said. After a few short seconds, she said, “Have you two talked about kids yet?”

The plate slipped out of Nico’s hands, clattering into the sink and splashing water all over the front of Nico’s shirt. “W-what do you mean? We already have a kid! Bianca’s our kid!”

“Yeah, but Will raised her,” Annabeth started. “Sure, she’s yours now, but she’s still Will’s kid, you know what I mean? Don’t you think Will’s gonna want a kid that’s both his and yours?”

Nico braced a hand on the counter. “I didn’t think of that. Annabeth, what if he wants more kids? I’ve never wanted kids, you know that! I just got lucky that I love Bianca like I do, and I don’t think I could handle another kid! What if I tell Will that I don’t want another kid and that’s some kind of deal breaker?”

“Okay, okay,” Annabeth said, hoping that her voice was calming. “I didn’t realize that was such a touchy subject. It’s gonna be fine, Nico. Talk to Will about it, from what I’ve heard about him from you, you should be fine. He loves you, he’s not gonna make you do something you don’t want, especially not something as big as having kids.”

“Hey, Nico, are you okay?” Will asked, entering the kitchen. “I heard something crash.”

Nico spun around, pulling the phone away from his ear for a second. “Huh? Yeah, I’m fine, just dropped a plate, nothing to worry about.” He brought the phone back to his ear and said, “Hey, Annabeth, I’ll talk to you later, okay? Will just woke up.”

Will shuffled closer, wrapping his good arm around Nico’s waist and pressing his face into Nico’s hair.

“Annabeth says hi,” Nico told him.

“Hi, Annabeth,” Will mumbled.

“Will says hi,” Nico said into the phone, then rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I love you too, I guess. Bye.”

“Have I met Annabeth?” Will asked around a yawn. “I don’t think I have.”

“You haven’t,” Nico answered, slipping his phone into his pocket. “But she wants to meet you. All of my friends do, actually. They also all keep bothering me for a wedding date, which we should probably plan sometime soon.”

“Too tired,” Will sighed.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” Will shook his head. “What’s wrong, how can I help? Was it another nightmare?”

Will shook his head again. “You ever slept sitting up? ‘S not easy.”

Nico took Will’s hand and pulled him out of the kitchen, dragging him over to the couch and sitting him down. He said a quick “be right back,” and ran to their room to change into a dry shirt. He returned to the couch, sitting back against one arm and pulling Will to lay back against his chest. Will relaxed almost immediately, sighing softly, already starting to drift off.

“Comfy?” Nico whispered, and Will nodded. Nico kissed his temple. “Sweet dreams, Sunshine.”

He ran his hand through Will’s hair a few times before carefully reaching for his laptop on the coffee table. He set it gently on Will’s lap, pausing a moment to make sure that he didn’t wake his fiance, then opened up his final paper for class.

 

When Will woke up, the first thing he saw was Nico’s computer on his lap, the ending of a movie he couldn’t remember the name of playing on the screen, though no sound could be heard. Will reached out with his good hand, tapping the spacebar, and paused the video.

After a second, Nico set a pair of earbuds on the keyboard before running a hand through Will’s hair again. “Good morning, Sunshine. How’d you sleep?”

“Better,” Will answered softly. “Help me up?”

Nico removed the laptop of Will’s legs before sitting up from his slouch against the couch’s arm and helped Will get his feet on the ground.

“Want me to get you some coffee?” Nico offered.

“I can get it,” Will told him, rising to his feet and stretching his good arm over his head. Nico hopped to his feet, following Will into the kitchen. “What were you talking about with Annabeth?”

Nico leaned against the island as Will went toward the coffee maker. “Not much, she just reminded me a million times to start planning the wedding. Which, you know, we really should start doing that.”

“After coffee,” Will told him. “Anything else?”

“I don’t think so,” Nico muttered, ducking his head and picking at his nails.

Will hummed, moving to lean against the island across from his fiance. “I don’t think I believe you.”

Nico brushed the hair back from his face, standing up straight once more, trying to think of the words to say. Anything to get his point across without freaking Will out. “What’s gonna happen after the wedding?”

Will took a step back from the island, crossing his good arm under his sling. “What do you mean?”

Okay, not the right words, then. “I mean, we haven’t talked about anything that’s gonna happen in the future.”

“Anything like what?” Will asked, walked around the island. “What’s there to talk about? We’re getting married, we’re gonna be husbands, we’re gonna be happy. That’s what’s gonna happen.”

“I never wanted kids,” Nico blurted out, and Will froze. “No, wait, hang on. I-- I didn’t want kids of my own, and I still don’t, but I love Bianca. I just--” He took a breath. “Annabeth told me to talk to you about kids, if you wanted more, or-- She said that you might want kids that are ours, not just yours, but--”

“Nico,” Will cut in. “Why don’t you ask what I want?”

“What do you want?” Nico asked nervously.

Will cupped Nico’s cheek in his hand. “I want whatever you want. I didn’t really want kids either, you know? Bi was kind of a surprise, in more ways than one.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Bianca’s biologically my sister, right? So, when I finished my third year of pre-med, I got a call from Child Protective Services. They wanted to know if I had any way to contact my dad, because Bi’s mom had just died and they didn’t want to throw Bi into foster care if she had family somewhere to take her in. At this point, I hadn’t seen my dad in almost ten years, I kind of assumed he was dead, so I told them, sorry, nope, can’t help, and hung up.

“I moved back in with my mom over the summer and about a month after CPS called, my dad showed up at the house with Bianca. He told me he needed someone to watch her for a few hours so he could go to some meeting or something. I think he said he was going to meet with a real estate agent to look at a house nearby, maybe.”

“He didn’t come back,” Nico guessed.

“For the best, probably,” Will said with a heavy sigh. “I haven’t been the greatest at it - I had to bring her to class a few times because I didn’t have anyone to watch her, and you know how hard it is for me to go to her school events.”

“That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good dad,” Nico told him. “Better than yours. Better than mine.”

“I think Annabeth probably got you worked up for nothing. If you don’t want any more kids, I’m happy. If you decide, one day, that you wanna give it a try, I’ll do whatever you want.”

Nico let out a breath. “I don’t deserve you.”

Will hummed. “Probably not. Anything else you wanna talk about that’s been freaking you out so I can continue proving to you that I’m the best?”

Nico paused to think, keeping his eyes locked with Will’s. “I think I’m gonna change my name after we’re married.”

“Yeah?” Will asked, a bright smile lighting up his face. “Me too.”

The coffee maker beeped. Will stepped back around the island, poured himself a cup of coffee, and nodded his head toward the living room. When he went to sit back down, Nico was right behind him.

“So, now that all that’s out of the way,” Will started, “how do you feel about planning a wedding?”

Nico leaned into Will’s good side. “I would love to.”

Neither of them moved for a few moments.

“How do you plan a wedding?”

Chapter Text

Instead of overthinking their wedding plans, Will and Nico made a list. They wanted close friends and family to attend - discluding Will’s father, of course - and Will insisted that they get married in a church, the biggest, fanciest one they could find in the city. Nico would have been fine with just going to a courthouse, but seeing the way that Will’s eyes lit up when he said, “I’ve been dreaming about it since I was, like, nine, Nico! We have to!” made Nico change his mind in a second. Bianca would be the flower girl. They would walk down the aisle together, because Nico was uncomfortable with the idea of his father handing him off like property (maybe if it mother was alive, he thought, but chose not to say it out loud).

So they made their list and Nico decided to call a friend of his to help with the planning - Reyna, he’d said, who knows everything. So he talked with her for a while, adding a few things to the bottom of their list like building names and addresses and caterers. Will started to zone out after a few minutes, until his phone started to ring.

He recognized the number as one from Bianca’s school, and answered immediately. Why would someone be calling him in the middle of the day, unless something was wrong? “Doctor Solace, hello!” Bianca’s teacher greeted him when he answered the call. “I’ve only got a few minutes before I have to pick up the class from the lunch room, but I have a very important matter I need to discuss with you and your partner. When would be a good time for you to come up to the school?”

“Uh--” Will froze. Was something going on with Bianca? Was she actually not doing as well in school as they’d been told? Would she have to repeat the first grade? His eyes flicked over to Nico, who was distracted by his own phone conversation. “Um, when would be best for you?”

“Well, I would prefer that Bianca not be present for the discussion,” the teacher continued, and Will’s heart sank. Bi was going to have to repeat the year, and Will was going to have to be the bad guy. He hated being the bad guy. “Though it should be a rather quick talk. You normally pick Bianca up from school, right? Would you mind staying a few minutes later than usual today?”

“No, that should be just fine,” Will told her.

“Great! Then I will see you after school today,” the teacher said cheerily. “Have a wonderful afternoon, Doctor Solace!” And she hung up the phone.

Will pulled the phone away from his ear, watching the screen as it repeatedly flashed call ended at him until the screen went black. A few moments after, he heard Nico saying, “I’m gonna call you back, Reyna, something’s up with Will.” He dropped his phone and turned his full attention toward his fiance, pulling Will’s own phone out of his hand. “Will, what’s up?” Nico asked softly.

“That was Bi’s teacher,” Will told him. “She needs to talk to us after school.”

“Did she say what about?” Nico asked, lips turning down in a frown.

Will shook his head. “She doesn’t want Bi in the room, so I think it’s bad news.” He took a steadying breath and turned his head to lock eyes with Nico. “What if she has to repeat the first grade? She’s gonna hate me if she hears it from me.”

“She’s not gonna hear it from you,” Nico assured him, “because she’s not gonna have to repeat the year. She’s gonna be fine, you remember the last time we talked to her teacher. It was all good news.” He took Will’s hand in his, squeezing tightly. “And, if it comes to it, which it won’t, I’ll tell Bianca, so you don’t have to. Sound good?”

 

They met with Bianca’s teacher a few hours later. They made sure to get to the school about ten minutes before classes were released so that they could easily find their way to Bianca’s classroom without having to fight through crowds of parents and children. They leaned against the wall near the door, fingers laced together, constantly reassuring each other that everything would be fine.

The sound of a bell ringing surrounded them, and every door in the hall opened to a flood of first graders. Nico and Will stayed against the wall until the hallway had cleared out, then they stepped into Bianca’s classroom. Bianca and her teacher sat at their respective desks, and both glanced up when Nico and Will entered the room.

“Ah, Doctor Solace, Mr. di Angelo!” the teacher started, rising from her seat and stepping around her desk toward them. She held out a hand to shake theirs. “It’s wonderful to see you both again. Please, take a seat and if you’ll excuse me for just one second…” She walked around them and crouched next to Bianca’s desk. When she stood again, Bianca started packing up her things into her backpack and walked silently out of the room with her head down.

Nico and Will pulled a couple of chairs - tiny ones designed for six year olds - up to the teacher’s desk as she returned to her seat.

“Thank you again for meeting with me on such short notice,” she told him once they were all situated.

“Anything for Bianca,” Will said with a nod, reaching over to subtly lace his fingers with Nico’s.

“Did she do something wrong?” Nico asked, jumping right to the point. “We were worried that her learning disabilities might be holding her back--”

“No, no, of course not,” the teacher cut in, waving a hand dismissively. “I actually wanted to speak to the two of you about that, but for a completely different reason.”

“What do you mean?” Will asked, tightening his hold on Nico’s hand.

“In this past school year, Bianca has made exceptional progress,” the teacher explained. “Her reading level has risen to a third grade level, though she still has some work to do when reading out loud. She’s much more focused in class than had been earlier in the year, and I would have to say that the only thing that she might still need help with is her math skills.”

Will sat frozen. Nico asked, “So she doesn’t have to repeat the first grade?”

“No, absolutely not,” the teacher assured them. “I was concerned a few months ago, but I believe that Bianca shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with the other students. However, the reason that I called you here was not about repeating the class. I do want to suggest that you enroll her in summer school.”

“But you just said she was fine,” Nico said.

“That is true, but I do feel that classes over the summer will ensure that she stays on track,” the teacher explained. “I’m not talking about the whole summer. Perhaps just the month of August, to help her get back into the swing of things.”

“Just one month?” Will asked. “No repeating the class and just a few weeks of summer school?”

“That’s right! I hope you don’t mind that I asked Bianca not to be in the room for this discussion, the kids normally get upset at the thought of summer school, but I truly believe that she will benefit from it.”

“I’m sure she will,” Nico responded. “Thank you, so much.”

“It’s not a problem,” the teacher told them. “I’m looking forward to seeing the two of you again at Bianca’s first grade graduation.”

They all stood and shook hands once more before Nico and Will stepped back out into the hallway. If not for Will’s still injured collarbone, Nico would’ve wrapped him in the tightest hug possible. Instead, they noticed Bianca sitting on the ground against the wall, hands wrapped around her knees.

“Daddy, did I do something wrong?” she asked softly, keeping her eyes down.

Nico crouched down in front of her. “No, Princess, you didn’t do anything wrong,” he told her. Will sat down in front of his daughter and reached out to ruffle her hair.

“Your teacher just wanted to make sure we knew about your last day of school in a few weeks, and how you’re gonna be a second grader soon,” Will told her with a smile. “She said that you’re going to have some of your own classes before everyone else, because she wants you to get a head start.”

“Really?” Bianca asked.

“Really, Princess,” Nico said. “Now, how about we go get you a brand new dress to wear for your class party?”

“And we can go out for dinner,” Will said with a nod. “Wherever you wanna go, okay?”

“Okay!”

 

On Bianca’s first day of summer break, Will had a doctor’s appointment. And, since he still wasn’t okay to drive - physically or emotionally - it turned into a family trip. Lou was there to keep Bianca occupied during the visit, finally walking around unaided and ready to be discharged in the next few days. Will’s doctor told him that the sling on his arm was no longer required, but he should still go easy on it for at least another week.

Overall, they were out of the house for maybe two hours, but when they got back home, Bianca claimed that she was tired and went to hide in her room. Nico decided to head into the kitchen to clean up the dishes from breakfast, though Will seemed to have other plans.

As soon as Nico had turned the water on in the sink, Will came up behind him and slipped both of his arms around Nico’s waist. He held his fiance close as he connect his lips to the side of Nico’s neck, kissing every available patch of skin he could find.

Nico flicked water in his face. “Hands off for another week, Sunshine.”

Will whined and tucked his face into Nico’s shoulder. “But it’s been so long. All that time alone together and we never did anything.”

Nico spun around in his fiance’s arms, about to shoot him down once more, until he saw the look in Will’s eyes. He rubbed his hands dry on the thighs of his jeans before reaching up to cup Will’s cheeks. “What if,” he started in a whisper, “I ask Hazel if Bi can spend the night over there this weekend? Then we’ll have the whole house to ourselves, all night.”

Will leaned down to knock his forehead against Nico’s. “But the weekend is so far away.”

“And you’re technically still healing,” Nico reminded him. “Five days, I won’t budge on that. You can wait five days, can’t you, Sunshine?”

Will groaned. “God, I hope so.”

 

Nico made the mistake of letting Will go with him to drop of Bianca at Hazel and Frank’s apartment. As soon as they were back in the car after walking Bianca up to the door, Will’s hands were on him, traveling increasingly high up Nico’s thigh as he was trying to drive, dammit.

They tripped a few times inside the house as they tried to get their shoes off, but the hands grasping frantically at each other kept them mostly upright.

“Did I ever tell you how good you look in a tank top?” Will asked Nico as he was removing the shirt.

“About thirty times this past week alone,” Nico responded, pulling Will’s belt from the loops in his pants.

“Better without, still,” Will said, and dropped to his knees, tugging Nico’s jeans halfway down his thighs as he did.

“Holy shit, okay,” Nico said like he was choking on the words. “We’re not doing this right here in the middle of the living room when there’s a bed right through that door.” He pulled Will back onto his feet and dragged him toward their bedroom, stumbling with his pants halfway down his legs, and let the door fall shut behind them.

 

 

Hazel had had her suspicions of why Nico had called out of the blue and asked if Bianca could sleep over with only a few days notice, but seeing her brother the next morning was so much worse.

“Did you get any sleep last night?” she asked, pointedly eyeing a few new bruises that hadn’t been lining his collarbones the night before.

Nico, darker bags under his eyes than usual, smiled dopily and said, “Not really.”

“Ugh, gross,” Hazel groaned, and started toward the kitchen. “C’mon, you’re getting some coffee so you don’t wreck your car on the way home.”

“I already had some coffee,” Nico told her, but followed anyway.

“You need more,” she insisted. Hazel poured what remained in the pot from that morning into a mug and handed it to her brother. “Where’s Will? Actually sleeping like people need to do to survive?”

“Doing laundry,” Nico answered with a smirk before taking a sip of his drink.

“Gross!” Hazel said again with a shove to Nico’s shoulder.

“You’re the one that keeps asking things.”

“Ugh, just drink your coffee so you can take your kid and leave.”

“Gladly,” Nico replied, but was quick to correct himself. “I mostly meant the coffee part, not the leaving. I kinda miss hanging out with you sometimes.”

“I’ll see all of you at Montauk, won’t I?” Hazel asked.

Nico’s eyes lit up. “Oh, shit! I forgot about Montauk! When is that, like, next week?”

“Yeah, so you better make sure Sally reserved enough space for all of you,” she reminded him. “Otherwise you’re sleeping on the floor somewhere.”

“I should get going then, so I can talk to Will. Where’s Bianca?” Nico asked, then drained the last of his coffee a little too quickly and burned his tongue.

“Frank’s helping her pack up right now, they’re probably still in your old room.”

 

Will had fallen asleep by the time they got home, and Nico felt ready to do the same, despite all that coffee he’d drank. He dropped onto the bed beside Will, waking the other in the process, and laid back on the mattress. Will wound an arm around Nico’s waist and pulled him close with a sigh, eyes slipping shut once more as he started to fall back asleep.

“Will,” Nico started softly, waiting for his fiance to open his eyes again. “Do you want to meet my friends?”

“You have friends?” Will asked, unable to hold back a laugh.

“Shut up, you know I do,” Nico said with a shove to Will’s chest. “Do you wanna meet them or not?”

“Of course I do,” Will told him.

“Okay, so, every year for the fourth of July, we rent out a bunch of cabins in Montauk,” Nico explained. “I kind of forgot about it until Hazel reminded me this morning, and I know it’s kind of late notice, but--”

“You think I’m gonna say no to a weekend on the beach with you?” Will asked. “I’d love to go.”

“Yeah?” Nico asked. “Okay, I have to go call Sally, then.” He darted forward to press a kiss to Will’s lips before pulling away and jumping out of bed.

“You have a friend named Sally?” Will asked, but Nico was already out of the room. Will sighed. He should probably get up, anyway.

Chapter Text

Will was supposed to be packing. They had planned to leave in less than an hour to get to the beach, but Will found himself distracted by a certain piece of mail addressed to his fiance. The envelope said that it had been sent from the university Nico was attending, and something of that size? There was only one thing it could be, but Will wasn’t about to open someone else’s mail - that was illegal, wasn’t it?

Thankfully, Nico came into the kitchen, eyes locked on a certain someone who wasn’t packing. He opened his mouth to complain, but Will held out the envelope with an, “Open this.”

Nico took the envelope, dropping his gaze down to it before flicking his eyes back up to Will. “Start packing and I will.”

“Open it, and I’ll start packing,” Will shot back with a grin. Two could play at this game.

Nico rolled his eyes, tearing at the top of the envelope. “Alright, fine. But I don’t see why, since I think we both already know what this is.” He sighed as he pulled a short letter out of the envelope, reading aloud, “Dear Mr. di Angelo, as you were not able to attend the ceremony, blah blah blah, proud to present you with this diploma--”

He was cut off abruptly when Will swept him off his feet, spinning him in a circle before setting him back on his feet. “I’m so proud of you!” Will exclaimed, taking Nico’s face in his hands and kissing him over and over again.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Nico laughed, shoving at Will’s chest, though he couldn’t have been trying very hard.

“No, not whatever,” Will insisted. “This is physical proof that you’re smart and important and so much else! I’m so proud of you!”

“Geez, Will, it’s not that big of a deal,” Nico tried again.

“No, it totally is!” Will rested his forehead against Nico’s, voice softening as he spoke again. “I’m marrying a college graduate.”

Nico rolled his eyes again. “Yeah, uh huh, and I’m marrying a doctor. You know we were supposed to leave by now, right?”

“No way, I’ve still got--” Will glanced up at the clock on the wall. “--three minutes.”

“You think you can pack everything you’ll need for a weekend on the beach in three minutes?” Nico asked skeptically.

“You can time me and everything,” Will responded confidently.

Nico stepped back, allowing Will plenty of space to get past him so he could start packing. “You go right ahead, I’ll go make sure Bianca’s all packed. Also, you only have two minutes now, so you’d better hurry.”

“So little faith,” Will called as he rushed back to their room.

 

Will took about forty-five minutes to finish packing. Nico and Bianca had already loaded their bags into the car, then laid down on Nico and Will’s bed while they waited. They passed the time playing a few games on Nico’s phone, but after half an hour had passed, Nico figured he would call ahead and let everyone know they’d be late.

He FaceTimed Percy, explaining how someone was taking too long to pack, and at this point, they’d be at least an hour later than he’d said originally.

“You’d think after all those years of summer camp, you’d have learned how to pack by now,” Percy told him, and behind him Nico could see a clear blue sky and a sandy beach.

“Not me, you idiot,” Nico said with a roll of his eyes, and switched to the phone’s back camera, pointing at Will who was currently loading up his suitcase.

Percy whistled approvingly. “Damn, Neeks, you sure know how to pick ‘em.”

“Watch your language,” Nico said, feeling his face heating up slightly, “and shut up.”

“Nico, don’t say that, it’s mean!” Bianca said, not even looking up from the game she was playing on Will’s phone.

“Sorry,” Nico muttered, flipping back to the front camera as Percy said, “What? Who was that?”

“Oh, did I forget to tell you that I have a daughter, Percy?” Nico asked innocently. “That’s so weird, must’ve completely slipped my mind somehow. Anyway, Will’s done packing, so we’ll see you in a few hours, bye!”

As Nico hung up the phone, Will looked up at him from where he was still, in fact, packing. “What was that about?”

“It’ll be funny, trust me,” Nico promised. “Now are you almost done yet?”

 

Nico had not experienced a three hour drive with a seven year old since he himself was a seven year old. He wasn’t sure how Will had survived the drive from Nashville to New York with how often Bianca complained that she was bored, and Nico thought it was just some television joke that kids asked how much longer the drive would be, every twenty minutes.

Nico tried to help pass the time by telling Bianca and Will as much as he could about his friends before they arrived in Montauk, but most of the things he could think to say would be better to discover in person. Will and Nico had had a discussion a few days before (a two minute conversation, really) about how Bianca would address all of Nico’s friends, and they both agreed that these people could possibly be the closest things Bianca had to aunts and uncles. (Austin and Kayla didn’t really count, not yet at least, seeing as Will had seen Austin a total of twice and Bianca had yet to meet Kayla).

It wasn’t long (though it sure as hell felt like an eternity) before they were pulling off the main road, driving alongside a familiar beach and parking near cabins that Nico knew like the back of his hand. As far as Nico could tell, by looking at the other cars parked nearby, just about everyone else had already arrived, and Nico was starting to get a bit nervous.

What if Will didn’t like any of his friends? What if his friends didn’t like Will? He knew he said that he didn’t need Sally’s approval, but what if Sally didn’t like Will? Nico had started to work himself up so much that he didn’t even notice when the car was finally parked and shut off.

Will’s voice finally shook Nico out of his thoughts. “This is the place, right?” Nico could only nod, afraid of what he might say if he opened his mouth. Will reached for the door, about to exit the car, when he grabbed Nico’s hand. “Your friends are gonna like me, right?” he asked nervously, and Nico realized that this was nothing to be afraid of.

He pulled Will’s hands up to his lips and kissed his knuckles. “They’d be stupid not to.”

Chapter Text

They left their suitcases in the car instead of dragging them through the sand. All of Nico’s friends were circled around an unlit fire pit on the beach, talking and laughing loudly with each other until one of them noticed the trio approaching and they all jumped out of their seats at once.

Nico could feel Will’s palm starting to sweat from the nerves, but Nico squeezed his hand reassuringly. “Don’t be so nervous,” Nico said softly.

“Shut up, you’re nervous too,” Will shot back. “Don’t think I can’t tell.”

“I’m fine,” Nico said, “everything’s fine.”

Will laughed. “Sure.”

They stopped a few paces away from Nico’s gathered friends. Percy whistled and said, “Damn, Neeks-"

“Language,” Nico muttered on reflex.

“--the camera doesn’t do him justice.”

Will laughed a little uncomfortably. “Uh, thanks?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be straight?” Nico asked with a sigh. “Will, this is--”

“Wait, hang on,” Will cut in. “I want to see if I can guess everyone myself.” He started off easy with Frank and Hazel, since he’d already met them - he hugged Hazel and shook Frank’s hand before moving on. “Annabeth the architect, right?” he asked as he shook Annabeth’s hand. “And Jason and Piper, it’s great to meet you.” He shook their hands as well.

Will glanced back at Nico for half a second and smirked, then turned to Percy and Leo. “And I don’t think Nico has mentioned either of you, sorry.”

“What!” Percy exclaimed. “No, that can’t be right, we just FaceTimed earlier!”

Will shrugged. “The only other people that Nico ever talked about were Reyna and Thalia. I’m going to have to take a wild guess and say that you two aren’t them.”

Leo turned to Nico and cried out, “You told him about Thalia but not me?”

“She’s my cousin,” Nico responded.

“So am I!” Percy said.

Nico rolled his eyes, and Will burst out laughing, unable to contain himself any longer. “Calm down, he knows who you are.”

“Yeah, sorry, I do,” Will admitted. “I’m just not sure who’s who.”

“Leo’s the short one--”

“Look who’s talking,” Leo cut in.

“--and Percy’s the tall one,” Nico finished. Will reached out a hand to both of them as Nico continued, “And now that that’s over, everyone: this is Will Solace, my fiance.” He reached down and pushed Bianca out from where she was hiding behind his legs. “And this is Bianca.” Nico briefly remembered a conversation he’d had with Will a few days prior, smiling softly as he said, “Bi, these are all your aunts and uncles.”

Nico looked back up at his friends, seeing Percy and Annabeth exchange surprised glances - no, not quite surprised. Confused, maybe, and possibly a little concerned.

“Uh, Neeks?” Annabeth started, but Nico’s smile didn’t fail.

“Don’t worry about it,” Nico told her. “We already realized.”

 

They grabbed their suitcases out of Nico’s car and set them inside the cabin they would be sharing with Frank and Hazel - each couple got their own room and Bianca would sleep on the couch in the shared living space.

They returned to the bonfire just as the sun was starting to set behind their cabins. They set up a few lawn chairs to complete the circle around the fire and joined in on the conversation. Nico waited until there was a lull to ask, “So, where’s Sally? And Luke?”

There was just enough light to see Annabeth roll her eyes from across the fire. “Luke’s in time out, because I told him he couldn’t go swimming until tomorrow but he just ran right into the ocean fully clothed.”

“And Mom’s coming up tomorrow,” Percy answered. “Her and Paul had some stuff to deal with, and I guess Paul isn’t going to be able to make it at all, so that sucks. But yeah, she’ll be here as soon as possible.”

“Aw, do you still think you need Sally’s approval, or something?” Leo asked with a laugh.

“Shut--” Nico glanced at Bianca out of the corner of his eye, cutting himself off before he could get scolded by a seven year old, “--your mouth, Valdez.”

“Approval for what?” Will asked with a grin, suspecting that he already knew the answer.

“Nothing,” Nico said quickly. “Leo’s just an idiot as always, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“Will, I hope you understand what you’re getting yourself into, here,” Leo said. “This is a safe space, you don’t have to live under this constant emotional abuse anymore.”

“Actually, Leo, I think that’s just you,” Piper cut in.

“You bring it on yourself, mostly,” Frank agreed.

Leo slumped down in his chair. “Why do I put up with this? I need new friends.”

“At least you admit to having friends,” Jason said, gaze sliding over to Nico. “Unlike somebody here.”

Nico groaned, knocking his head back and spotting a few stars dotting the darkening sky.

“Actually,” Will spoke up, and Nico feared for his life. “I distinctly remember Nico asking me to come here to meet his friends.”

Nico groaned again, louder this time, and reached over to shove at Will’s arm. “I hate you, why did I bring you here?”

“Because you love me,” Will told him, snatching up Nico’s hand before he could pull away and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

“I guess,” Nico grumbled, and Will laced their fingers together.

“Oh my god!” Piper squealed.

“Will, how did you get him to show his emotions?” Percy asked. “We’ve been trying to do that for years!”

“You are all the worst people I’ve ever met,” Nico announced.

“Maybe, but now we know that you’re capable of love,” Annabeth said. “We’ve known all along, of course, but now we’ve got physical proof.”

Leo opened his mouth to join in on the teasing, but hesitated when he was nearly blinded by a pair of headlights. The entire group seemed to freeze, staring back toward the newly parked car lined up alongside the rest of them, watching at the headlights went out.

“Uh, were we waiting on anyone else?” Will asked carefully.

“I don’t think so,” Hazel answered.

“No, we weren’t,” Jason agreed.

“Not until tomorrow at the earliest,” Percy said.

Nico rose from his seat. “I’ll go see who it is.”

Will tugged on his hand. “What? No, just stay here.”

“Relax, it’s probably somebody looking for directions or something,” Nico said. “It’s fine, I’ll be right back, okay?”

“Just…” Will started with a frown. “Be careful?”

Nico nodded and Will finally released his hand, allowing Nico to leave the circle around the fire and head in the direction of the road.

“Aw, you love him,” Piper cooed, drawing Will’s attention back.

Will shrugged, unable to hide a smile. “Well, yeah. We’re getting married.”

From behind him, Will heard a cry of “Oh my god!” and he jumped out of his seat.

“Nico?” Will called. From the direction of the cars, he could see the faint outline of a large figure, steadily making their way toward them. He looked back toward Nico’s friends, seeing that Jason was also up on his feet. He gave the slightest nod toward Will and they both started in the direction Nico had gone.

Just as they had both cleared the circle, Will could hear Nico laughing. In another few seconds, he could see the large figure more clearly - a woman who appeared to be giving Nico a piggyback ride, if Will was seeing this correctly.

“Will!” Nico called out. “Guys! Reyna’s here!” He pointed toward Will and Reyna turned toward him as if she was being steered. “Will, this is my best friend, Reyna!”

Reyna stopped a few steps in front of Will and held out a hand. “Will. It’s great to finally meet you.”

“It’s great to meet you, too,” Will said, shaking Reyna’s hand firmly and stepping back to allow Nico the space to climb off Reyna’s back. “And thanks again for all the help planning the wedding.”

“It wasn’t a problem,” Reyna told him. “I’m happy to help.”

“Hang on a second,” Piper said as her and Annabeth jumped out of their seats. “Wedding plans?”

“Does this mean there’s finally a date?” Annabeth asked.

“Oh! Yeah,” Will said, turning back toward the rest of the group but training his focus on Nico beside him, lacing their fingers together as he responded, “We’re getting married on December third.”

He was expecting a flood of questions about why that date was chosen, or even cheers from someone. Instead, there was the same surprised look on every face, all staring at Nico as if they had all asked him some unspoken question.

Nico rolled his eyes. “It’s fine, I’ll be fine. Stop looking at me like that, all of you.”

Frank was the first to move. “Right, of course. Reyna, grab a seat. You want a beer or anything?”

“Oh, dude!” Percy exclaimed, and everyone turned toward him. “Will, we never offered you a drink! Sorry, man, you want anything?”

Nico could feel Will tense up next to him, and struggled to hold back a laugh when Will said, “Uh, no. No thanks. I, uh, I think I should take Bi back to the cabin and get her settled in for the night, so I’m just gonna--”

Nico tugged on Will’s arm. “Will,” he whined. “Reyna just got here, you can’t leave now!”

Will leaned down to press a kiss to Nico’s lips. “I’ll give you some time to catch up without me, okay?” He glanced back at everyone else and, with a quick wave, said goodnight and carried a sleeping Bianca back toward their cabin.

The rest of the group returned to their seats, Reyna taking Will’s vacated one, and they all waited until they were sure Will couldn’t hear them before they started talking again.

“You didn’t tell him the tradition, did you?” Leo asked.

“No, it’s probably the one thing I forgot to do,” Nico answered.

“Well, I hope you didn’t forget the rules at least,” Percy spoke up. “First one to leave gets a million embarrassing stories told about them. And you’re the only one with material, Neeks, so I hope you’re prepared.”

“So, in order to get you started with this,” Piper began, “you found a guy who also won’t drink, just like you. What are the chances that your sunshine boy might be an alcoholic?”

Nico laughed softly. “No, not an alcoholic. It’s a much funnier story than that, actually. You guys know how I used to be Bianca’s babysitter, right? So Will got drunk at this Christmas party last year…”

Chapter Text

Bianca woke up and didn’t quite remember where she was, until Frank walked out of his and Hazel’s bedroom.

“Hey, good morning, Bianca,” Frank said, stretching his arms over his head. “Sleep well?” Bianca nodded and yawned. “Wanna come with me and see what’s for breakfast?”

“Yeah!” Bianca said, and hopped off the couch. Frank led her outside, toward the firepit they’d been circled around the night before, where Leo was sitting on the ground, cooking something over an open flame.

“Hey, guys!” Leo called out to them, waving a spatula in the air. “Good morning! I’ve got scrambled eggs cooking right now, and I think Neeks was gonna make pancakes when he woke up.”

“Alright, Bi, do you want eggs now or wait for pancakes?” Frank asked.

“Pancakes,” she answered. “Should I go wake up Nico so he can make them?”

“Nah, don’t wake him up!” Leo said. “Your Uncle Leo makes some awesome pancakes, I can have a batch whipped up in no time!”

“Uh, Leo, that might not be the best idea,” Frank cut in. “Bi’s got a lot of allergies and Will and Neeks are the only ones that know all of them.”

“Oh, uh, never mind then.” Leo took a second to scoop the scrambled eggs off pan he was using to cook them, and set them on a paper plate nearby. “Maybe you should go wake Neeks up, then.”

 

Everyone had woken up and eaten by noon, except for Reyna who was feeling a bit jetlagged and stayed asleep until around one in the afternoon. By then, Bianca and Luke had decided that they wanted to go swimming. Nico coated Bianca in sunscreen as Will changed into his bathing suit, exiting their cabin just as a car pulled into the last vacant spot nearby.

He considered heading straight to the beach, but he had a pretty good idea of who had just arrived, and knew he needed to make a good first impression, so he intercepted the middle-aged woman who’d just left her car and was heading toward the cabins.

“Ms. Jackson?” he called, heading in her direction. She seemed to startle at the sound of his voice, and he winced internally. Shouting at a woman who was just getting out of her car when she had no idea who he was? Not Will’s smartest moment. “Um, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. My name’s Will Solace, I don’t know if Nico’s told you about me - I’m his fiance.”

Sally seemed to relax at the mention of Nico’s name, and was smiling brightly by the time Will finished. “Yes, Nico has told me a bit about you, it’s wonderful to meet you. Fiance, you said?”

The smile on Will’s face turned dreamy and a little shy. “Yeah, that’s right.” He snapped himself out of the slight haze when Sally reached into the trunk of her car to pull out her suitcase. “Oh! Let me get that for you.”

“Thank you, Will, that’s very kind of you,” Sally said. “Now, Percy said that I would be in the spare room in the cabin with him and Annabeth. Do you happen to know which one that is?”

“Yeah, it’s this one right here,” he said, pointing to the cabin closest to them. He lifted Sally’s suitcase out of her car and lead her toward the cabin. “It’s great that you were able to make it up here, Nico seemed pretty eager to talk to you in person.”

Sally smiled softly. “He never had a very great relationship with his own parents, you know, so ever since he moved in with me and Paul a few years ago, he’s treated me like his own mother. Not that I minded, of course, it had been getting a little lonely since Percy had moved out a few months earlier.”

“I never knew that he ever lived with you,” Will commented.

“It wasn’t for long, only about a year, maybe,” Sally responded. “It took a little longer for him to find an apartment than he’d hoped, but he was such a sweetheart the entire time, he could’ve stayed as long as he wanted.”

“He is a sweetheart, isn’t he?” Will sighed happily, pulling open the door to the cabin and allowing Sally to step inside. “Well, I’ll let you get settled. I think just about everyone’s on the beach by now, so we’ll probably see you there soon, right?” He handed off Sally’s suitcase as she nodded to him, and he left the cabin, returning to the beach.

He found Nico sitting in the sand with Bianca smearing sunscreen across his cheeks. “Hey, Bi,” he called as he walked up. “Ready to go swimming?”

Bianca jumped up into her feet, wiping the excess sunscreen off on the sides of her swimsuit, and shouted, “Yeah, can we?”

“In just a second, okay?” Will told her. He turned to Nico and pulled him up to his feet, spinning him around to get a full view of the sunscreen smears across his face. He didn’t even need to say anything before Nico was rolling his eyes.

“She said that if she had to wear sunscreen then so do I,” Nico told him. “How bad is it? You wanna give me a hand? I don’t have a mirror or anything on me.”

Will reached up to rub the cream into Nico’s skin. “So, Sally’s here.”

“She is? Where?” Nico asked, trying to look around for her, but Will’s grip on his cheeks was too strong.

“In her cabin,” Will answered. “She said she would come down this way soon.”

“You already met her?” Nico asked, eyes widening.

“Yeah, is that a problem?” Will asked.

“No, no, of course not,” Nico said quickly. “I just… I haven’t really told her much of anything yet. I was waiting to talk to her in person.”

“Sorry, babe,” Will started, “guess you won’t be able to brag about my good looks since she already knows what I look like.”

“Shut up,” Nico said with a laugh, shoving gently at Will’s chest before immediately pulling him down for a kiss.

Will pulled back and wiped at his lips with the back of his hand. “Sunscreen,” he said as an explanation when Nico frowned up at him.

“Daddy, swimming!” Bianca cried from behind them, and Will finally pulled himself away.

“Go hang out with your friends,” Will told him, and darted forward for another kiss, only to pull away once again to wipe at his lips. “Ugh, still there.”

Will spun around and scooped Bianca into his arms before running toward the water and tripping once the water reached his knees.

“I hear those two are yours,” someone said from behind Nico and he whipped around to see Sally standing behind him. She wrapped an arm around Nico’s shoulders and pressed a kiss to the side of his head, though she frowned when he found a white smudge near his temple. “Wearing sunscreen for once?”

Nico rubbed at the side of his face with a groan. “I’m going to have the most uneven tan ever.” He rubbed at his skin for a second more before awkwardly lowering his hand and starting to pick at his nails. He cleared his throat before speaking again. “So, uh, you met Will. Um. What do you think?”

“I think he seems like a very nice boy,” Sally told him. “And the girl out there with him, that’s his daughter?”

“Yeah,” Nico answered. “Bianca. I, uh, I adopted her. Legally. So she’s mine, too. Um. You know, Will and I are gonna get married.”

Sally smiled softly, staring out at the water. “Yes, I think I heard something like that.”

Nico glanced up at her, knowing for certain that he had not been the one to spill. “Will told you, didn’t he?”

“He did,” Sally laughed. “Introduced himself by saying, do you know who I am? I’m Will, Nico’s fiance! He seemed pretty proud to say it, too, I might add.”

Nico smiled down at his hands, still nervously picking at the skin around his fingernails.

“I like him, Nico,” Sally told him. “I really do. He seems like a wonderful person, and you two seem like a great fit.” Nico sighed in relief, about to respond when Sally continued: “You know you don’t need my approval, right? All that matters is that you love each other, and you know full well that you don’t need me to tell you how to live your life.”

Nico nodded. “Of course. Thank you anyway, though. Your opinion does mean a lot to me.”

“So what if I had said I hated him?” Sally asked hypothetically. “What if I said that marrying him would be the worst mistake you ever made?”

Nico’s breath caught in his throat, momentarily afraid for a second that Sally might be serious, but he realized almost immediately that his answer would remain the same. “I guess I’d have to live with my mistake. I’m not sure that I could live without him anymore.”

Sally smiled brightly at him. “That’s the right answer. Now when do I get a wedding invitation?”

Chapter Text

Around ten at night on the fourth of July, everyone laid out blankets and beach towels in the sand to watch the fireworks out over the sound. It had been a while since Will had seen fireworks - his mom had been the one to take Bianca to see them when they still lived in Tennessee, and that past New Year, Will had passed out on the couch by nine, so he hadn’t even seen them on TV.

As soon as the show was over, Annabeth got up to put Luke to bed in their cabin while the rest of the group returned to their circle of chairs around the fire. Bianca had insisted that she wasn’t tired and wanted to stay up to talk with the adults. Nico had tried to convince her that the conversations would be boring to her and she would be better off going to bed, but she had refused. Instead, she sat in Will’s lap, falling asleep after about fifteen minutes.

Will was about to get up and take Bianca back to their cabin to put her to sleep when Nico got up instead. “I’ll take her,” he said to Will, lifting his daughter into his arms, “you stay here and bond with my friends.” He turned to the rest of the group, specifically eyeing Jason and Percy as he said, “I’m not going to bed, I’m just dropping Bianca off, so you’d better not try anything, got it? I’ll be back in five minutes, tops.”

Percy at least had the decency to keep his mouth shut until Nico was out of earshot. “So, Will, did Nico ever tell you the reasons that he doesn’t drink?”

Will frowned. Why the hell would Percy be bringing that up, now of all times? “Uh, you mean, other than his sister?”

Percy grinned, the smile almost sinister in the light of the fire. “Yeah, other than that.”

Will shook his head as Piper said, “Perce, he’ll be back too soon, you don’t have time.”

“I have time,” Percy insisted. “So. It’s Christmas Eve, the year before Bianca died. Neeks is fourteen, Jason and Bianca are sixteen, me and Jason’s sister Thalia are seventeen. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Neeks’s dad’s place in Cali, but there’s this huge wine cellar, so we stole a couple of bottles, figured no one would notice. We all hid up in Bianca’s room and passed the bottles around until we were all a little tipsy, but Neeks--”

“He probably drank a whole bottle by himself,” Jason cut in.

“He couldn’t even stand up straight,” Percy continued. “It was hilarious. And then, because his family’s Catholic, we all had to go to church at midnight for some reason - that’s why we were drinking, figured it would be a little more bearable that way. But Neeks, this scrawny little kid, is wasted in the middle of church and at one of the quietest parts of the mass, he jumps out of his seat and runs to the back of the room. He throws up, right into one of those holy water pools they keep by the doors.”

“He hasn’t been to church since,” Jason said. “I think the last time he even stepped inside a church was Bianca’s funeral. Never abandoned his faith, though, I don’t think.”

Suddenly, Nico was back and smacking Percy in the back of the head. “If you say one thing about me being both gay and Catholic, I’ll strangle you.”

“I wasn’t going to!” Percy exclaimed, then turned to Frank across the circle. “Frank, why didn’t you warn me that he was right there?”

Frank shrugged. “It’s dark, I didn’t see him until right before he hit you. Also, you kind of deserved it.”

Nico returned to his seat next to Will as the group swiftly changed topics of conversation. Will leaned toward Nico and asked, “Hey, uh, why did Percy try to embarrass you the second you walked away?”

“It’s just a thing we do,” Nico told him. “The first person to go to bed each night gets every embarrassing story brought up. It started when we were all still in high school, it was like a threat to stay awake all night or else you would get humiliated in the morning. It kind of just stuck with us, I guess. Percy takes any opportunity he can to tell embarrassing stories about me because I’m never the first to leave.”

Will frowned. “But I was the first to leave last night. Nobody knows any stories about me except for you.”

Even in the light of the fire, Will could see a blush rising on Nico’s cheeks. “Yeah, well, uh,” Nico started awkwardly. “I kinda told a few stories to everyone last night. I meant to tell you!” he said quickly, before Will could get too upset. “I meant to tell you about the tradition, but I forgot about it until you were already gone yesterday.”

“What did you tell them?” Will asked, a little fearfully.

“About how you’re scared of horror movies and that you thought I made you watch them just to get in your pants,” Nico told him. “And the night you got drunk at your sister’s Christmas Party.”

“No!” Will hissed. “You told them about Drunk Night? Nico, that was the most embarrassing thing I ever did in my entire life, I was prepared to take that to my grave!”

“I’m sorry,” Nico replied with a tiny laugh at how dramatic Will was being. “They insisted that I do it. At least Hazel didn’t have anything to add, she remembers everything and she can be brutal.”

Will groaned. “I still can’t believe it. I think we both made the right choice to never drink again.”

Nico smiled and relaxed back into his seat, ready to jump back into the conversation, when Sally stood. “Well, everyone, I’m going to turn in for the night. I’ll see you all in the morning, goodnight!”

Everyone in the circle replied with a chorus of “goodnight”s, and Sally made her way toward Nico’s end of the circle, stopping to press a kiss to Percy’s and Annabeth’s foreheads, then doing the same to Nico before she left.

Before anyone could get a chance to speak, Percy shouted, “Moms are off-limits!” Every head turned in his direction, some confused, some trying not to laugh. “For the story thing, you know what I meant!”

The circle erupted in laughter, which subsided after about a minute.

Annabeth asked, “So Hazel and Frank, don’t think we forgot that the two of you are getting married pretty soon, too.”

“Well, uh, maybe, maybe not,” Frank said, and a few people gasped. “Not like that! We’re getting married, just maybe not with a wedding.”

Hazel reached over and squeezed Frank’s hand reassuringly. “We want to get married before Frank enlists in the army, so we’ll probably just end up going to the courthouse when he gets his assignment. Then, after a little while, when we have more money saved up, we’ll have an actual, big wedding.”

“You’re all invited to come with us when we go to the courthouse, though,” Frank said. “After all, we legally need witnesses to be there, and we’ll need a best man and maid of honor.”

“Speaking of,” Jason started, “Neeks, who’s going to be your maid of honor? I assume you’re the bride, right?”

The pure annoyance radiating off of Nico was palpable. “That’s the kind of heteronormative garbage I’d expect from Percy, not you. Congratulations, you just crossed yourself off the list.”

“Damn,” Jason said at the same time that Percy and Leo shouted, “Dude, pick me!”

“C’mon, man, I’ve known you your entire life!” Percy exclaimed.

“Don’t listen to him, Neeks,” Leo told him. “I’d be a way better best man, trust me!”

Nico rolled his eyes as the two continued to fight over the position. He leaned toward Reyna and asked, “Hey, Ra-Ra, wanna be my best man, or whatever?”

“I would be honored,” Reyna said with a smirk.

Nico sat back in his chair and announced, “Alright, it’s Reyna, stop arguing.”

“Damn it!”

 

Leo ended up being the first to leave the group that night, and Will got to hear three different stories about how Leo had managed to set himself on fire. It wasn’t long after that the rest of the group started to trickle away, Nico and Will leaving somewhere in the middle.

The two settled into bed, both ready for a good night’s sleep, but Nico could tell that something was on Will’s mind. “What’s up?” Nico asked, keeping his voice low so as to not disturb the rest of the cabin.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Will said, and then sighed. “That’s not what I was planning on saying.”

“Is my faith a problem?” Nico asked carefully. “It’s how I was raised, it’s not the center of my life - clearly I don’t follow every single rule of the church - but it’s...what my mother wanted for me.”

“I’m sorry, it’s not a problem,” Will replied, wrapping his arms around his fiance. “I don’t know why I brought it up.”

“Was there something you did want to bring up?” Nico asked.

Will sighed again. “I don’t know. It’s amazing to me that you maintained these friendships for your whole life. It’s been so long since I even spoke to somebody that I grew up with. I don’t even keep in touch with the people I met in college. The only person in all of Tennessee that I still speak to is my mother, she’s… She’s the only person that would be able to share stories about me like your friends do with each other. I guess… I just wish I had friendships like yours.”

Nico laid his head on Will’s shoulder. “How many friends did you have in high school, Will? A hundred?”

“I was the class president all four years,” Will responded shyly.

“So, yeah, you had a million friends,” Nico continued. “You’re not going to stay friends with so many people, that’s impossible. Especially if you don’t live in the same town anymore. I only have all these friends because I’m stuck with them. Percy and Jason and Hazel are all related to me, and Annabeth, Piper, and Frank aren’t going anywhere. Leo’s only around because he’s been tagging along with Piper for years.”

“You have Reyna, though,” Will tried.

“She’s practically my sister at this point,” Nico said. “She’s stubborn, that’s the only reason she’s stuck around this long. Don’t get me wrong, I love her for it, but she’s basically forced her way into my life. So yeah, I’m pretty much stuck with everyone here. It’s just a coincidence that they’re all my friends as well as my family. I guess I just got lucky for once in my life with them.”

“Well, you know,” Will started, pressing a kiss to Nico’s forehead, “I got pretty lucky, too.”

“You just complained that you don’t have any friends,” Nico pointed out. “What are you feeling so lucky about?”

“I have you,” Will whispered, and Nico rolled his eyes.

“Okay, I guess I’ve been lucky twice in my life, if I’m counting you.”

“You are pretty lucky, aren’t you?” Will joked, and Nico shoved at him.

“Oh my god, go to sleep.”

Chapter Text

July

 

They left the beach the next day, a few days earlier than the rest of the group, who all stayed about halfway into the week. On Wednesday, Nico got a call from Reyna asking if they had a guest room she could stay in until she had to take a flight back to California. Luckily, she called right around the time of Will’s lunch break, so Nico was able to shoot him a quick text while he was still on the phone with Reyna.

Will came home that evening to find Reyna braiding Bianca’s hair and Nico sorting through papers strewn about the coffee table. As soon as Reyna tied off the braid, Bianca jumped up and ran over to Will, shouting, “Daddy, look at what Aunty Ra-Ra did!” She held up the end of the braid for Will to see.

“It looks beautiful, Bi, did you say thank you?” Will asked, and Bianca spun back around.

She went back to Reyna and wrapped her up in a hug. “Thank you, Aunty!”

“You’re welcome, Bianca,” Reyna told her. “Now, Will, we’ve done some planning.”

Will sat down on the couch next to Nico, one arm placed loosely around Nico’s waist as he leaned over the coffee table to see the now stacks of papers. Nico pointed to the different piles as he said, “Possible venues, possible caterers, bakeries that are well known for their wedding cakes, possible florists, very rough drafts of guest lists--”

“I wrote those up,” Reyna told him. “They’re very basic, mostly just a reminder to invite your parents. I trust you to remember, Will, but Nico would probably insist that he forgot up until the last minute.”

“Well, actually, uh,” Will started a little awkwardly. “My dad’s not invited. And he’s very good at finding people who don’t want to be found.”

“I didn’t even think of that,” Nico said softly.

“We have to do everything possible to keep my dad from finding out about this,” Will told Reyna. “I don’t even want him to step inside the building.”

Reyna hesitated for only a moment, pausing to think over their options, when she finally said, “We’ll put everything under my name.”

“What?” Will asked.

“Your father has no idea who I am,” Reyna explained. “If he wanted to find your wedding, he would look for your name or Nico’s, so we’ll use my name instead. Which means we’ll have to do as much planning as possible before I leave.”

“Then I guess we’d better get to work,” Will agreed.

“I’ll start on dinner,” Nico said, pressing a kiss to Will’s cheek before standing. “You’ve got an awful lot of options to look through, Sunshine. And that’s just everything that Reyna and I haven’t vetoed.”

 

August

 

They decided on a church to hold the wedding in - it was a pretty easy decision, seeing as there was only the one that would allow them to hold their wedding there. Luckily for them, that church happened to be one of their top choices. They also hired a caterer and baker before Reyna had to leave.

Will, feeling a bit guilty about how much time he was spending away from work, tried to make up for it by working overtime a lot more frequently than usual. They were starting to get back into the schedule of the school year, as Bianca too was out of the house almost every day for her summer school classes.

Nico ended up with a lot of time to himself that he didn’t really know what to do with. He no longer had his own college classes to occupy his time, and didn’t have to keep Bianca entertained throughout the day.

There were only so many times that he could sort through all of their wedding plans. He could only rewrite his guest list so many times before he was just copying the previous list, not even making any changes anymore.

He looked back at his old writing assignments, finding something to read just to have something to do. He edited his drafts, searching through his most promising options. Maybe it’s something like this that will help him occupy his time.

 

September

 

Bianca started the second grade on the day after Labor Day. She was more excited to see all her friends again than she was anxious about starting a new grade.

Nico found himself with even more free time as Will continued to work every day and Bianca’s classes took up most of her day. Nico continued to spend his time editing and rereading the few books he’d had to write for his degree. For the most part, he didn’t think it was anything that anyone would want to read. In one, the characters were too far underdeveloped, and another was riddled with plot holes.

He took what he had written for his final assignment, editing as he read through. It took him only about a week to refinish the book, once again finding himself with too much time. What was he supposed to do with a finished book?

Will didn’t come home that night until long after Nico had gone to bed. He found his fiance with his arms wrapped around Will’s pillow, like it was a substitute for Will himself. He woke Nico gently and pried the pillow out of his grip before laying down. Nico, still mostly asleep, wrapped his arms around Will and buried his face against Will’s chest.

“Finished my book,” Nico mumbled.

“You finished your book months ago, babe,” Will reminded him.

Nico shook his head, pulling himself closer. “Fixed it. Got bored.”

“What’re you gonna do now that it’s done?” Will asked.

“Be bored,” Nico grumbled.

“It’s gotta be boring here during the day, huh?” Will muttered. “I’m sorry, I’m working so much recently. I’ll try to be home more often, and maybe we can get some more stuff done for the wedding.”

Nico nodded, more like he was just rubbing his face against Will’s chest. “Yeah, be here more,” he said, and threw one of his legs over Will’s. In seconds, he fell back asleep.

 

October

 

Nico received a phone call one night while he was making dinner from a number he didn’t recognize. Most of the time, he would let the call go to voicemail. He wasn’t sure why he chose to answer it this time, but he was glad he did. He ended the call just as Will walked through the door, and immediately wrapped him up in a hug.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Will asked, circling his arms around his fiance.

“I sent my manuscript off to a publishing company and they loved it,” Nico told him. “I just got off the phone with them, they wanna publish my book!”

“That’s great!” Will said, and swooped down to kiss him. “That’s amazing, Nico!”

“Okay, I gotta tell Hazel, so let’s hurry up and eat so we can go,” Nico said, pulling away from the hug, but Will held him close.

“We have plenty of time,” Will told him. “Our appointment isn’t until seven, there’s no need to rush.”

Nico took a breath. “Right, okay, you’re right.”

As Nico finished up cooking, Will called Bianca out of her room to come eat with them. They ate with plenty of time to make it into the city for their appointment, meeting up with Piper and Hazel outside a bridal shop.

Nico shared his news as they walked into the shop, and they checked in for their appointment. A woman came by with a tray of champagne glasses - water for Nico and orange juice for Bianca - and led them to a room full of bridesmaid’s dresses.

For the most part, they let Piper decide on which dresses would be worn. Will and Nico were mostly just there to pay attention to prices and veto anything they particularly didn’t like, but Piper’s fashion sense was trustworthy enough, so they didn’t think they would need to use their vetoes.

Hazel came out of the dressing room after only about half an hour wearing a sleeveless, floor-length gold dress that laced up in the back. Piper took a moment to explain that all the ladies would wear this dress with silver accents, and the groomsmen would wear black suits with silver ties. “Will, you would also wear a silver tie, but Nico would wear gold.”

“That sounds perfect,” Will said, and Nico nodded in agreement.

“What about Bi?” Nico asked. “And uh, are we gonna have a ring bearer? I haven’t even thought about that.”

“We could ask Percy and Annabeth if Luke wants to do it,” Will suggested with a shrug. “Other than him, I don’t think we have much of an option.”

“Well, for the time being,” Hazel called from back inside the dressing room, changing back into the jeans and t-shirt she’d worn there, “decide on something for him to wear if he wants to. I think I saw a flower girl area on the way in here.”

She stepped out of the dressing room, holding the dress in her arms which Piper took from her. “So Bi, you wanna go find a dress for you now?”

Bianca jumped up off the couch she was sitting on. “Yeah!”

“Alright, let’s go see if we can find the dresses while the grownups figure out how to order the other dresses,” Hazel told her, and grabbed Bianca’s hand before they left the room.

Piper helped them track down a saleswoman so that they could order enough dresses for all of the bridesmaids - groomsmaids? - and set up a time for a fitting.

By the time they made it to the children’s section, there were already three dresses sitting with Hazel on the couch, and Bianca was changing into another.

Just as Nico and Will dropped into a couple of chairs near the dressing room, the door swung open and Bianca bounced out.

“Daddy, Nico, I want this one!” Bianca exclaimed, running over and tugging on Will’s arm. The dress was white with a poofy skirt and had silver and gold jewels speckled over the fabric.

“It’s perfect, Bi,” Will told her.

“You look just like a princess,” Nico agreed.

 

November

 

There was nothing left to do but wait. The planning was done, everything was ordered, and Nico’s book was set to be published in a couple of months. Once again, Nico was back to being bored.

Thankfully, there were only a couple of days left until Thanksgiving, and Will’s mom and Reyna were going to be staying with them over the holiday and through to the wedding. He’d already cleaned the house and prepared the guest room, as well as gathered a list of recipes for Thanksgiving dinner.

Nico went to pick Reyna up from the airport on his way to get Bianca from school, and Will came home later that night after having swung by the airport to get Naomi after work. Bianca was excited to have so many people at the house, but Nico was just happy that he was about to have so much time to spend with others - with Will.

“Have the two of you written your vows yet?” Naomi asked after dinner, pulling Nico out of his thoughts as he zoned out, leaning into Will’s side.

“Uh,” Nico started, glancing up at Will to see a look of surprise on his face - good thing Nico wasn’t the only one that forgot. “Nope.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Reyna asked, though she almost didn’t seem surprised.

“It’s been a busy few months,” Will said defensively.

“Yeah, and you’re getting married in two weeks,” Reyna reminded them. “You should get on those. Like, now.”

“You’re absolutely right, Reyna,” Naomi said. “In fact, I think the two of you should get working right now.”

“Mama, it’s too late for that,” Will said. “We’ll start on them in the morning.”

“I’ll hold you to that, don’t think I’m going to forget,” Naomi told him.

 

It was a good thing that Will had the day off of work and Bianca didn’t have to go to school, because as soon as both Nico and Will were awake, there were being forced to get to work on their vows. Nico found himself locked inside his own bedroom while Will wasn’t allowed to get up from the kitchen table until he’d completed his vows.

It only took Will about an hour to finish, surprisingly satisfied with how they turned out on such short notice. Nico, however, wasn’t seen leaving his room until early into the afternoon - Reyna had even gone in to give him food at one point.

Will kept a close eye on the bedroom door, ready to corner Nico the second he stepped out. The door opened just a crack, and Will jumped to his feet, pushing Nico back into the room and spinning him around until he was pressing him up against the closed door of their bedroom.

“You’ve been in here for hours,” Will whined, arms wrapped around Nico’s waist as he nudged Nico’s nose with his. “How long does it take to write I love you on a piece of paper and call it good?”

Nico pushed gently against Will’s chest. “Hang on, you didn’t actually write that, did you? You wrote more than that, right?”

Will rolled his eyes. “Of course I did, darling, but mine only took like, an hour.”

“How much did you write?” Nico asked. “Let me see yours.”

“No way!” Will laughed. “You’ll just have to wait and see what I wrote at the wedding.”

 

December

 

The wedding was in two days. Reyna had been sleeping in the guest room at Will and Nico’s for the last two weeks, checking things over and running through the order of the ceremony a few times. Everything was set up for the rehearsal dinner the next night, and the only thing left to do was double check the reservation at the church.

She had Will and Nico drive her to the church, the two of them wanting to see the church again before the wedding, and they wandered into the sanctuary as Reyna dealt with the reservation.

When she found the two again, they were sitting in the front pew, Will with his arm around Nico’s shoulders, leaning into each other comfortably.

“The next time the two of you walk down that aisle, you’ll be getting married,” Reyna reminded them as she stepped forward.

“Can’t wait,” Will said with a bright smile. “Did you get everything handled?”

She nodded. “We’re all set for the third, and I checked to see if anyone had called and asked about the wedding.”

Nico and Will shared a look, afraid of where this may be going. “And?” Nico prompted.

“Nobody suspicious,” she told them. “And they got the copy of Apollo’s picture, so they know who to keep out if necessary.”

“Thank you, Reyna,” Will said with a soft smile. “Really, for everything.”

“Thank me after you go through with it,” she replied, the corner of her lips quirking up in the tiniest of smiles.

Chapter Text

Annabeth found him on the floor in the corner of the room, head between his knees and hands in his hair. He was almost dressed - slacks and shirt, waistcoat unbuttoned and tie undone around his neck, shoes nowhere to be seen - and his hair had been done, though now it was ruined thanks to the fingers pulling at it.

Annabeth knelt down in front of him, careful not to snag the skirt of her dress in her shoes. “Nico,” she said gently, “you have to get dressed.”

Nico’s head snapped up, and Annabeth saw the tears on his cheeks. “Annabeth,” he choked out, “what if I can’t do it?”

“What do you mean?”

Nico pulled his hands out of his hair and wrapped his arms around his legs. “What if I’m not a good husband?”

“I’ll tell you right now, you’ll probably be a better husband than Percy.” She was thankful that Percy was in the other room with Will, he didn’t need to hear this.

“But what if Will gets sick of me?” Nico asked. “We’ve barely known each other for a year. What if, in a couple of weeks, I can’t manage to pull myself out of bed and he kicks me out?”

“You know he would never do that,” Annabeth told him.

“You and Percy have known each other since you were twelve, Annabeth,” Nico argued. “And you’re, like, a month older than him. Will’s six years older than me! He had a kid before I even graduated high school!”

Annabeth sighed. “Will loves you, Nico. I knew that the second I met him.” She paused, and Nico seemed to loosen up a bit, letting his legs drop to a criss-cross, hands falling into his lap. “You’re not changing your mind, are you?”

“No!” Nico shouted, and then quieted himself down. “Of course not. I love him, I just-- Isn’t twenty-three a little young to be getting married?”

“Percy and I were twenty-two,” Annabeth reminded him. “A bunch of people told us we were too young, but we were practically married already, you know?”

“You don’t think I’m too young?”

Annabeth shook her head. “I think you’ve always acted a little older than you are, more mature. You’re more mature than Percy, probably. Remember when he thought you had a crush on me?”

Nico laughed lightly, reaching up to dry his cheeks. “I can’t believe you married that idiot.”

“I know,” Annabeth laughed. “But Nico, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I mean, there’s not a lot of people that’ll adopt their boyfriend’s kid before they’re even married.”

Nico was smiling, so Annabeth figured her job was done. “Think you can finish getting dressed while I get Piper back in here to redo your hair?”

She stood up when Nico nodded, and helped him to his feet. He glanced around the room, spotting his jacket still hanging on the back of the door. “Um, I don’t know where my shoes are, either.”

Annabeth rolled her eyes. “Of course you don’t. Get dressed, I’ll go ask Jason if he knows where they are.”

“Thanks, Annabeth,” Nico said. “For...yeah.”

Annabeth beamed at him. “No problem, Neeks.”

Will, at least, was fully dressed. He was wearing his shoes, his tie was tied, and he was laying flat on the floor with his arms out to the sides.

“I’m getting married,” Will said.

Honestly, he didn’t know that anyone else was in the room.

“Yep, uh-huh,” Cecil said from somewhere to Will’s right.

“How long have you been in here?” Will asked, turning his head to the side to see Cecil sitting in a chair with his feet propped up on a table. It looked like he was eating a chocolate bar and playing on his phone.

Cecil shrugged. “I dunno. Probably not too long. Lost track of time.”

“You’re not even dressed!”

“What, like it takes that long to change a shirt?”

“Cecil, I’m getting married in, like, an hour,” Will reminded him. “You’re my best man, you’re wearing a full suit, not jeans and a white shirt.”

“Alright, alright, fine, I’ll get changed,” Cecil told him, stuffing the rest of his chocolate bar into his mouth and leaving the wrapper on the table.

Will groaned and looked back toward the ceiling. “Why did I let you be in the wedding, again?”

“Because you needed a best man that wasn’t the brother you barely know or one of Nico’s friends,” Cecil told him through a mouthful of chocolate.

Will scrunched up his nose. “You’re disgusting.”

Cecil winked down at him and went into a connecting room.

Will took a deep breath and focused on that water spot on the ceiling right above him. “I’m getting married in an hour.”

“That you are,” a voice came from the door. “So were you gonna let me do something with your hair, or nah?”

Will pouted, looking to his left. Piper was standing in the doorway, holding the door wide open, and Will could see the door across the hall opening. His eyes widened, pout falling away when he thought he might get a glimpse at Nico, but then Piper had closed the door, moving to stand in front of it.

Will’s pout was back. “Do you have to?” he asked her, looking up toward her face. Her own hair, usually messy and choppy, was now pulled up and away from her face, glossy and smooth and curled.

“You want to get married with bedhead?” Piper asked, arms crossing, and Will noticed a bag tucked against one of her arms, probably filled with things that would rip out his hair and make him look like an idiot, in the end.

“It’s not bedhead, I showered this morning!” Will argued, and Piper gave him a look , like she wasn’t taking no for an answer. Will sighed, about to surrender, when there was a knock on the door and Annabeth poking her head inside.

“Hey, Piper,” she said, “can you come back over here? Nico messed up his hair.”

Will sat up at the mention of his fiance. As Piper left the room, eyes rolling, Annabeth entered, and Will started firing questions at her. “Is Nico okay? How did he mess up his hair? He’s not nervous, is he? He runs his hands through his hair when he’s nervous sometimes. Can I see him? He’s not changing his mind is he?” And Will froze. Why had he asked that? “Oh, god, he’s not changing his mind, is he?”

“Will, no,” Annabeth said sternly, like an all-out Mom Voice. She probably had a lot of practice with Luke, Will thought. Poor kid. “He’s not changing his mind. He’s fine. You can’t see him yet, but you will soon. He’s a little nervous, yeah, but not in a bad way. Okay?”

Will nodded slowly, taking a deep breath. “Yeah. Okay.”

“Now, how about you let me figure something out with your hair before Piper comes back and tries to straighten it?”

Will stared up at her, eyes wide with fear. “She won’t, will she?”

“She might,” Annabeth said, holding out a hand and pulling Will to his feet. “Pull up a chair, we probably need to hurry.”

 

Jason and Percy burst into Nico’s room right as Piper finished styling his hair for the second time.

“We found your shoes!” Jason cried and presented them to Nico.

Nico looked at the shoes held out to him, then glanced between the two men in front of him. “Those are the sneakers I wore here.”

“They’re your shoes,” Percy said. “Were we supposed to be looking for different ones?”

Nico tipped his head back with a groan, scruffing up the back of his hair on the chair, and Piper tipped his head back up, flattening his hair with her fingers. “You asked them to be here,” she reminded him.

“I know,” Nico muttered. He looked back at the two idiots in front of him. “I need the shoes I’m wearing in my wedding.”

“So these probably aren’t it, then,” Jason said, looking up at Piper, who was shaking her head. “We’ll look again.”

 

Will was escorted down the hall by Cecil and Frank, and was then forced to stare at a blank wall for about the next five minutes before he was told he could turn around.

He wanted to say that the first thing he saw was Nico, because of how amazing it was to see him after so long, and because he looked so good in his suit, and while both of those things were true, Will had not seen Nico first. Nico was kind of short, so Will saw Reyna first. But then he saw Nico.

Will cupped Nico’s cheeks in his hands, resting their foreheads together. “You look amazing,” he said. He tried to pull Nico in for a kiss, but Nico pushed him back.  

“No kissing,” Nico told him. “Not until we’re married.”

Will pouted. “But I haven’t kissed you in so long.”

“It’s been twelve hours, maybe,” Nico corrected. “You’ll last a little while longer.”

Will’s forehead fell back against Nico’s, and his eyes dropped to the ground. “Are those high tops?” he asked, and his eyes shot back up to Nico’s. “Are you wearing sneakers in our wedding?”

“I didn’t want to, but it was either this or socks,” Nico said. “Percy lost my shoes.”

From somewhere else in the room, Percy’s voice called, “I did not!” but Will and Nico ignored him.

“At least my hair doesn’t look dumb,” Nico told Will.

“Sorry, but you’re wrong, there,” Will said back.

At the same time, they each reached up to fix each other’s hair. Hazel and Reyna had to hold Piper back, somewhere else.

For a second, after hair was fixed and everyone in the room was quiet, Will and Nico just stared at each other.

“Will?” Nico whispered.

“Yeah?”

“We’re getting married,” Nico told him, and Will had never looked happier.

“We are,” Will said back. “In about five minutes, you and I are gonna walk down that aisle.”

Nico smiled. “I can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

Bianca and Luke had walked down the aisle first, as flower girl and ring bearer. Next were Annabeth and Percy, Piper and Jason, Leo and Lou Ellen, Hazel and Frank, and finally Cecil and Reyna. They took their places at the front of the church as the congregation stood to face the back of the room. Will and Nico, arm in arm, made their way down the aisle, Nico smiling brighter than anyone had seen. As they passed by, Nico could see Sally already with teary eyes, and Persephone and his father gazing at them proudly. Will spotted his mother furiously blinking back tears, and smiled to himself.

They stepped up to the altar as the priest began to speak, soon enough asking them to read their vows. Will grabbed Nico’s hands in his own, thumbs running gently across the backs of Nico’s hands.

“On this day,” Will began, gazing softly into Nico’s eyes, “I give you my heart, my promise. That I will walk with you, hand in hand, wherever our journey leads us. Living, learning, loving, together forever. I love you, Nico, and I’ve never been happier than I am with you.”

Nico ducked his head with a bright smile, squeezing Will’s hands.

“Nico, your vows?” the priest prompted.

“Oh, right,” Nico said, and slipped his hands out of Will’s to reach into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He pulled out a slip of paper that looked like it had been folded and unfolded a bunch of times. He slipped his hand into another pocket, surprise showing on his face when his hand came up empty. He patted the pockets of his slacks before staring up at Will in shock.

“What’s wrong?” Will asked, lacing his fingers with Nico’s free hand.

“I, uh, forgot my glasses,” Nico answered.

Will shared a surprised look with the priest before asked, “Could I read them for him?”

“I don’t see why not,” the priest responded.

Nico handed over the unfolded paper and Will cleared his throat before he started to read: “With my whole heart, I take you as my husband, acknowledging and accepting your faults and strengths, as you do mine.”

He glanced up at Nico, who could see Will’s eyes starting to water, despite his beautiful smile.

“I promise to be faithful and supportive and to always make our family’s love and happiness my priority. I will be yours in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in failure and in triumph. I will dream with you, celebrate with you and walk beside you through whatever our lives may bring.” By now, there were tears falling freely over his cheeks, and his voice cracked slightly as he finished, “You are my Sunshine—my love and my life, today and always.”

Will said to the priest, “Please tell me I can kiss him soon.”

He could faintly hear a quiet chorus of laughter from the crowd, but he ignored them.

“Almost,” the priest replied. “Now, the rings.”

Annabeth gave Luke a gently nudge in their direction, and he held up the rings to Will and Nico.

“William Andrew Solace,” the priest said, “do you take Nico to be your husband?”

“I do,” Will answered, and slipped the ring - a gold band with a stripe of silver through the center - onto Nico’s finger alongside his engagement ring.

“Nicolò Vincenzo di Angelo,” the priest said, pronouncing the name slowly and clearly, and Nico would swear that he heard his father trying to hide his laughter from across the room. “Do you take Will to be your husband?”

“I do,” Nico answered, and took the remaining ring to slip onto Will’s finger - silver with a gold stripe - and pressed it snug against the silver skull on his engagement ring.

“By the power vested in me,” the priest said finally, “I now pronounce you husbands. You may kiss the groom.”

Will swept forward, one arm wrapping around Nico’s waist and the other rising to cup his cheek. Nico only had the time to say, “Don’t you dare--” before Will was tipping him back and pressing their lips together.

When Nico was once again upright, arms wound around Will’s shoulders, he pulled back to shove at Will with almost no effort. “I told you not to dip me!” he laughed, realizing too late that he didn’t sound angry at all. He tipped his head forward to rest against Will’s shoulder and smile as he said, “I want a divorce.”

 


 

The reception was held in the ballroom at a nearby hotel, the same place that Will had reserved a room for the two of them that night.

Nico had talked Will out of a receiving line, and had been able to sneak the two of them in a back door of the hotel, so they could avoid talking to as many people as possible. (Nico didn’t even know why he’d had to invite the uncle he hadn’t spoken to since he was a child, and he most certainly didn’t want to have a conversation with him.)

So they sat down at the long table intended for the wedding party, Nico and Will sitting dead center, Will on Nico’s left, and Reyna on his right.

Dinner was served, and glasses of champagne were passed out, and Nico shied away when one was placed in front of him.

Will wrapped an around around Nico’s shoulders, pulling him close and pressing a kiss to the side of his head. “It’s okay,” Will whispered. “It’s just champagne. Nobody’s gonna drink too much, everyone here’s smart enough to wait until they’re sober to drive home. You and I can drink as much as we want, because we’re sleeping here tonight, remember? We’ve got a room upstairs, and nothing bad’s gonna happen if you drink a little bit. Okay?”

Nico hesitated before nodding, and Will kissed his head again.

The toasts had started a few minutes later.

Cecil went first, clearing his throat and standing. “Now, I haven’t known Will without him knowing Nico, but I knew him before they were together, and let me tell you--” Nico had leaned into Will’s side, head resting on his shoulder, and he stopped listening.

Will had reached forward, dislodging Nico from his shoulder, and held out the glass. Nico took it from him and drank when Will drank, and grimaced at the taste.

“That’s gross,” Nico whispered as he set the glass down.

“You’ll get used to it,” Will told him, kissing him quickly. He glanced around the table. “Only...six more toasts, maybe? Normally it’s less than that, but I have a feeling your friends are going to have a tough time staying quiet.”

Nico rolled his eyes and rested his head back on Will’s shoulder, just as Reyna stood next to him. Nico groaned when Reyna glanced down at him out of the corner of her eye, and tried to hide his face in Will’s suit jacket. “I don’t know what she’s going to say, but I’m going to hate it,” Nico mumbled.

“If you check Nico’s phone records for the last twelve months,” Reyna started, “I can almost guarantee that there are more calls to me than there are to Will. He called me almost every day, even before they met, but the calls were longer and more frequent afterwards. At first, they were mostly, how could I let you talk me into getting a job, it’s so gross, to oh my god, Will is so pretty, I think I’m in love. That was maybe three weeks after they first met.”

As the guests laughed, the sound covered Nico’s groan of pain. “Will, make her stop,” he muttered, and Will wrapped an arm around him.

“But I’m enjoying this,” Will replied, and Nico groaned again.

“Tell me when it’s over,” Nico told him, and he stopped listening again.

Will handed him the glass of champagne, and they drank.

And Percy stood up. This time, Nico’s pained groan was too loud to be hidden. Despite the terrible taste, Nico downed the rest of his flute.

 

After the toasts were finally over, Nico had drank at least five full flutes of champagne, and he felt a dull buzzing at the base of his skull. He felt bubbly inside, bubbly like the champagne, and his cheeks felt warm like he was blushing.

He felt Will’s shoulder move from under his cheek, and suddenly Will was standing and holding his hand out for Nico. He stumbled a little, when he was finally on his feet, but Will was there to catch him. “You have a very low alcohol tolerance,” Will told him with a laugh.

Nico hummed, tucking his head under Will’s. “It’s almost like I’ve never had any alcohol ever.”

“Shut up,” Will said, and pulled Nico back. “You and I both know that’s not true.”

Nico stared up at him with narrowed eyes before realization dawned on him. “That’s what you were talking about when I left the fire on the beach.”

“Yep, we talked about what an incredible lightweight you are,” Will told him sweetly, “and now I get to see it for myself.”

“‘m not a lightweight,” Nico said as he pressed his face into Will’s chest.

“You really are,” Will said. “Now c’mon, I wanna go dance with my husband.”

“Gross, no,” Nico muttered. “I don’t wanna dance, I just wanna sit with you some more.”

“How about you stand with me?” Will suggested. “And maybe shuffle around a little bit with some music playing around us?”

Nico glanced up again. “That sounds a lot like dancing to me.”

“So, then, that’s a yes,” Will said, and pulled Nico in the direction of the dancefloor. He drew Nico in close to him, settling his arms around Nico’s waist and swaying back and forth to the soft melody of Can't Help Falling in Love. He dropped his head down to rest his forehead against Nico’s, and Nico’s arms slid up to rest around Will’s neck with a roll of his eyes.

Nico’s eyes had slid shut, and after a moment, Will said, “You know, you’re pretty drunk for only having six glasses of champagne.”

“I didn’t think it was that many,” Nico replied, eyes opening. “Reyna was right, you’re really pretty.”

Will grinned. “I think she was just repeating what you said, but thank you.”

“Really?” Nico asked, eyes squinting. “Hmm, guess I was right, then. Like usual.”

Will laughed, and Nico’s eyes widened at the sound. “I love you so much.”

Nico smiled and tucked his head against Will’s neck. “That’s good.” He sighed, a hot puff of breath fanning across Will’s neck. “That’s good, ‘cause you married me.”

 

They stayed in the ballroom until late that night. Sometime around ten, Naomi brought a yawning Bianca over to them to say goodbye for the night. Will knelt down, wrapping his arms around his daughter and pulling her close. “Goodnight, Bi, I love you,” he told her, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay,” Bianca said. “Love you, too, Daddy.”

She pulled back and hugged Nico next. “Goodnight, Princess,” Nico said, and Bianca replied, “Goodnight, Nico. I love you.”

Nico hugged Bianca a little more enthusiastically than he probably normally would have and told her that he loved her too.

Naomi hugged her son, telling him goodnight as well, and tacked a congratulations onto the end. When Nico stood up, Naomi’s arms closed around him, too. “Congratulations, honey,” Naomi told him. “Have a good night.”

They didn’t stay much later than that. Naomi took Bianca to the Solace household, and Will took his husband up to their hotel room.

 


 

Nico woke up to an arm wrapped around him. He was used to that. He wasn’t, however, used to the pounding in his head that was worsened by the sunlight streaming in through the window. He rolled over, tucking his head into the familiar warm skin of Will’s neck, and sighed in relief when the pain lessened.

He felt Will breathe deep, and heard the a low, rumbly echo when Will mumbled, “Good morning, Mr. Solace,” into Nico’s hair.

Nico groaned. “Too early.”

“Too early for me to love my husband?”

Nico pulled himself back, cracking one eye open to gaze at his smiling husband. “I suppose not.”

Will thread his fingers through Nico’s hair, tilting his head and moving in for a kiss. Nico smiled into the kiss, and Will rolled until he was laying on top of him, his free hand running up and down Nico’s side.

Nico pushed gently at Will’s chest until he pulled himself back, and Nico smiled up at him. “Good morning, Doctor di Angelo.”

Will beamed down at him, smile brighter than the sun, and leaned down to kiss his husband again. And again. And again.