Will Solace and I were walking across the lawn that spanned between the cabins. During the last year or so, the space had gotten more cramped with so many more cabins being built, but I liked it this way. I’ve always said that ignoring people is dangerous. It’s nice to see that camp half blood has acknowledged that.
“Earth to Nico,” Will called as he waved a tanned hand in front of my face.
“I have ears, Solace, I don’t need the visual aid as well,” I grumbled.
“Really? Because you’ve ignored me for the past minute,” he said, narrowing his eyes at me.
“Only a minute? Next time I’ll have to ignore you for longer.”
“Ha ha,” he said sarcastically, although I could see genuine amusement in his smile. Gods he always smiled. Always. And I was starting to think that I would never get used to the way my insides fluttered around when that smile was aimed at me.
At first I ignored the feeling. When he sentenced me to three days in the infirmary, I may have left a day early to help Jason search for Leo, despite Will getting me to promise to stay. Will didn’t seem too bothered about it though. How could he? He had always found a way to spend time with me after that, with or without the infirmary.
Now, almost two months later, we’ve become friends. Albeit it, the kind of friends that joke around and mock each other mercilessly, but friends nonetheless. I would never say it out loud, but after the initial shock of Will constantly being around me, and the weirdness of actually spending a lot of time with one person, I actually kind of liked it. We were in a comfortable place now, and I found myself always wanting to know where he was or what he was doing.
So yeah, I ignored the fluttery feeling for over a month because subconsciously I knew that there was no chance. But after Piper had had that conversation with me a few weeks ago, telling me that everyone knew how we felt about each other but us, I started to acknowledge the way I felt towards Will more and more. And after Piper had planted the seed, it just grew. I started to realise that maybe Will was flirting with me. With the teasing jokes and little touches. And once I noticed (and hoped) I couldn’t ignore it. Now, it felt ridiculous that we were both still keeping up this charade. It was almost funny if it wasn’t so frustrating.
Will was still looking at me expectantly as if waiting for a reply.
“Sorry,” I said, not sounding sorry. “I missed that.”
He rolled his eyes and carried on walking across the lawn towards the forest. I could’ve just walked away. I don’t like when people ignore me, especially when I haven’t had the chance to ignore them first. But I genuinely wanted to know what he had said. Ugh when did I start caring so much? I skipped a couple of steps to catch up with Will and when I reached him he gave me a smug smile as if he knew I’d follow him and was proud about it.
Well, I couldn’t have that. “You can wipe that smile off your face, Solace. I’m only following because it’ll save me some time later when you’ll inevitably come and whine about me ignoring you.” That, at least, was true. Will wasn’t the type to keep things bottled up (mostly), unlike me, so I would definitely hear about it later if he was upset with me for ignoring something important.
He turned to face me just as we reached the edge of the woods. “Hmmm, so it has nothing to do with the fact that you’d rather spend time with me than hang around alone in your cabin?”
“Excuse me,” I said trying to fake offence. “I have other friends.”
He placed his hands on his hips so he looked like a strict school teacher. “So it has nothing to do with the fact that you’d rather spend time with me than hang around your other friends?” He corrected.
Well it was true but I wasn’t going to tell him that. Despite still being in a bad place after the war, I was becoming more and more sociable. I still had days when my nightmares would keep me from sleeping, and I couldn’t get out of bed, but a lot of the time, I was adjusting to my new home.
Mainly I hung around with Jason and Piper, since Hazel and Frank had gone back to new Rome with Reyna, and Percy and Annabeth had gone back home to finish high school. I liked it better this way anyway because having big groups of people around was too overwhelming and I liked that I had formed a small routine with my friends who were here.
I settled for an unimpressed look, hoping that it didn’t convey my true feelings. “I don’t know what to tell you, Will. But seeing as I’ve taken the time out of my busy social life to be with you now, the least you could do is repeat what you were saying to me.”
Will gave me another cocky smile and slumped down in front of a tree. He patted the space next to him for me to sit.
“If you think I’m sitting on the cold ground, you’re mistaken,” I replied, staring down at him. It was the beginning of October and even though the camp had protective barriers to help keep the weather warm, it still wasn’t perfect. Despite the cold though, the sun was still shining and rays of it bounced off of Will’s blonde hair making him seem even more pretty, which I thought was a bit unfair really.
Will groaned. “You’re such a drama king. Here,” he pulled his sweater off and lay it on the ground for me.
A sweet gesture sure, but my pride got in the way of accepting it. “I’ll stand, thanks. Now get on with it.”
He frowned at me. “Wow you really know how to make a guy open up,” he told me. His expression was still playful but I could tell I had gone a bit too far. A couple of months ago, my go to response to that would’ve been to accept it and walk away. If I hurt someone, that was just more convenient for me because at least then, they’d stay away. But now with Jason and Piper and especially with Will Solace, I felt an uncomfortable urge to be nice. I was finally being vulnerable again for the first time since I was ten, and I didn’t want it to go to shit.
I sighed and crouched next to him, careful not to let my butt touch the ground. “There. Compromise,” I offered.
Will smiled. “Alright, I’ll tell you.”
“Go on then.”
“Are you sure you’re listening this time?”
“Spit it out, Solace.”
“Alright alright.” He took a deep breath. And then... “I want to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween.”
I snorted and rolled my eyes, trying hard to keep my smile from showing. “That was your important news? Your Halloween costume? Holy Hades, Will.”
He nudged my arm playfully. “Hey, I never said it was important. It’s your fault you assumed that. And it’s also hurtful for you to assume that it isn’t important. So give me your professional opinion.”
I tried to keep a straight face but I could tell my lips were curling upward. It didn’t help that my thigh muscles were cramping from crouching down too long. “First of all, I don’t have a professional opinion because I’ve never dressed up for Halloween. And second of all, who the fuck is Luke Skywalker? Some sort of person who can walk in the sky? Sounds a lot like flying to me. Maybe Jason is a better fit for that costume.”
Will looked like he’d been slapped in the face and I wondered what I could’ve possibly said to offend him. “Oh gods, Nico! You haven’t watched Star Wars! Oh no no no. I refuse to allow this abomination to continue. This needs to be remedied immediately. How dare you think that this is okay!”
He spent another few seconds talking about how my lack of knowledge on this subject had offended him personally, which was funny up until a point. I placed a hand on his now bare arm to shut him up and his eyes shot to mine. Their crystal blue colour looked more beautiful than any ocean I had ever seen, and for a second I forgot how to breathe. Then I blinked, told myself to get a grip and removed my hand, which was a small victory considering he felt deliciously warm against the cool weather. “So are you going to tell me what the Hades you’re talking about?” I asked him.
It took a second for him to answer because he was still looking intensely at me. “It’s a movie. Six movies really. Six very good movies. And you’re going to watch them with me. We can watch the first one tonight.”
I narrowed my eyes and stared back at him. My heart starting beating faster as if it knew what I was about to say. The adrenaline made me a bit dizzy but I knew that I had to stop being a coward and just get on with it. If not now, then when? The smirk on his face gave me the courage to challenge him so I locked my eyes on his and blurted, “And what makes you think I’m going to agree to your date proposal?”
His reaction was priceless, his face going through several different emotions at once. I guessed the first was shock, which moved to disbelief, and then to flustered as I could practically hear the gears working in his head to come up with something intelligent to say: “I didn’t... That wasn’t... what?”
I sighed, now a bit of doubt creeping in. What if Piper was wrong? I could play it off as a joke... but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. Damn my stupid confidence building. Damn my new way of not shutting people out. And damn Will fucking Solace with his shiny hair and perfect face. I decided to play it off as if I thought he was stupid (which was easy because 1. I did that all the time, and 2. It was definitely the truth). “Are you really that dumb, Will? I thought I was supposed to be the oblivious one. For gods’ sake, you’ve been driving me crazy.”
He still looked shocked but now he also looked confused. Just great. “Oblivious?” He asked. “I’m oblivious? What am I oblivious to exactly?”
I studied him, wondering how much I should reveal. Before I could decide he spoke again, “Oh shit! Did Kayla say something to you?” He looked genuinely worried.
“Umm, no...? Why?” I asked.
Relief flooded into his expression and he tried for a smile, but it was a bit strained. “Nothing. Never mind. So... no to Star Wars?”
“That’s not what I said,” I replied, more than a bit disappointed he didn’t bring it up as a date.
“So yes to Star Wars?” He asked, a real smile now spreading across his face. I wished I knew what he was thinking for his emotions to jump like that so quickly.
“If you insist,” I sighed dramatically, and stood up from my crouching position.
He practically leaped up next to me and opened his arms for a hug. That’s a thing we did. He never hugged me after I told him about my problem with physical contact. He would hold out his arms slightly and let me come to him if I wanted. He still did it even when I told him a couple of weeks ago that it was fine if he wanted to hug me. And if I’m being completely honest, it was more than fine. But there was a bit of tension in the air because of my comment about it being a date and I was kind of unsure. So I just gave him a quick, “see you after dinner then, Will,” and scurried away, trying to ignore the hurt look in his eyes when I rejected his hug.