It was a hot day. All the days had been hot. There had been rather more than a week since summer had officially started, and Camp Half-Blood had yet to be gifted with rain. However, clouds massing East of the Half Blood hill suggested that the God’s passive aggressive dry spell was over and the first thunderstorm was on its way… and it was going to be a big one.
Nico di Angelo sighed as he shaded his eyes with his shield, looking longingly at the dark clouds. “Sorry,” he blinked in the sun, turning to his sister next to him, “What did you say?”
"I said," said Hazel, looking amused, "You took that one down like a lead balloon. You alright?"
"Nn." He didn’t handle well in the heat, he assumed it was a "child of Hades" thing (although Hazel didn’t seem to having issues, saying the wet heat reminded her of Louisiana summers, enjoying the 21st centuries view on short-shorts and crop tops, and generally being in far too good of a mood considering it was so hot). All he wanted to was hide out in his room in the underworld where is was blissfully chilly, but APPARENTLY he was needed for "restoration efforts".
He pretended he minded more than he did - in all honesty, it was almost gratifying, seeing the impressed looks of the kids that he was helping train and recover. It was weird, at first, but the combined efforts of Jason and Percy (and by that, of course, he meant mostly a meaningful look and cough from Reyna) had kept him around “for the greater good.”
The greater good is what he was doing now, leading a workshop with Hazel on the finer points of hydra slaying and double combat for a group of Ares kids.
Or, well, that’s what it had started as. He blinked as he took in the crowd that had apparently gathered around him, far more than the 9 or so that he had started with. Way, way more. He blushed and told himself it was the heat. “It’s so freaking hot, why is everyone so eager to watch?”
"Because we’re REALLY good at what we do. Not to mention, you’ve gotten quiet a little fanclub?"
"Huh?" Nico blinked again and shook his head. "It’s so hot."
"Maybe if you weren’t wearing so much BLACK, bro. You know it attracts heat right?"
"…they’re my only clothes."
"Nico." She looked exasperated. "If you’re too hot, go change."
"I told you, they’re my only clothes." He frowned, "I guess you’re right though. I’ll just-" He struggled with his shirt, which was drenched in sweat and admittedly pretty gross right now, pulling it up over his forehead and throwing it aside.
He wasn’t expecting the wolf whistles or the excited muttering. He thought he heard someone squeal, but it had to be his imagination. Hazel laughed.
"Told you," She said, "Fan club. Geez, Nico, who knew what you were hiding under that baggy shirt."
He frowned, “Don’t be weird. It only makes sense, we’re fighting all the time. Jason and Percy both are built better than me, I don’t get the-“
"People like you, Nico. People look up to you as much as Percy or Jason. You’re really popular, if you’d let yourself be."
"What…whatever. Let’s just keep going, ok? I want to go inside or in a big tub of ice water or something.”
"I’ll go swimming with you Nico!" Came a voice from the crowd, and Nico almost dropped his sword.
"Let’s just finish." Nico made eye contact with the ground, and Hazel glared sharply at the crowd in general.
"Right, let’s go."
Hazel was sitting with Percy and Leo by the campfire, enjoying the night and some fresh smoothies courtesy of Demeter cabin. Next to them, a group of girls were giggling with each other, and Hazel’s ears perked up when she heard a familiar name.
"And so then, right," One girl grinned, "He totally started stripping! I knew he was cute but oh my GODS he’s so built. I think he might be better than Jason-“
"No way is Nico cuter than Jason! You’re obviously wrong."
"No, seriously, seriously! He’s cute and angsty and mysterious and he has a six pack.”
Hazel couldn’t help herself and burst out laughing.
"Huh?" Percy raised an eyebrow, "I know my riveting tale of shower mold is funny Hazel, but it’s not THAT funny."
"It’s not that…my brother has a fangirls."
"HUH?" Leo raised an eyebrow, "Nico?"
"Yeah, yeah. He took his shirt off during training and-"
"Oh my gods!" One of the girls exclaimed, turning to Hazel, "You’re his sister, right?"
Hazel looked taken aback, she hadn’t expected the girls to eavesdrop back.
"So, like, is he single?" She both looked so eager and Hazel felt a little embarrassed.
"I’m single." Leo wiggled his eyebrows and the girls giggled. Although Nico’s biggest fan didn’t look impressed.
"Ah come on, what does Nico di mopey-pants have that I don’t?"
"Don’t call him that," Chorused the girl and Hazel, although Hazel’s voice had much more humor in it.
She blushed, “He’s just so cool.”
“Not to mention built.” Her friend nudged her and she blushed.
"Yeah…" she looked dreamy, "totally built."
"I won’t believe it til I see it." Leo huffed and Percy laughed.
"Nico’s full of surprises, this is hardly the biggest."
"Are you guys talking about me?"
Percy, Hazel, and Leo defiantly DIDN’T jump as Nico stepped out of a shadow.
He glanced at them, and then at the girls, and then back to Hazel, raising an eyebrow. He had replaced his sweaty shirt with a purple muscle tank, which Hazel was sure didn’t belong to him.
The girls giggled again, “Hi, Nico.”
He looked taken aback. “Uhm. Hello? I’m sorry, but I don’t think…I’m sorry I don’t know your name, uhm…”
"It’s Ahran," she extended her hand, which Nico stared at for a split second before remembering that he was trying to be more "personable" with the campers and shaking it, trying for a smile.
"Hi. Uhm. I guess you know me…"
"Yeah," She sighed, "I do. I saw you fighting today…"
"Oh." Nico looked like he was facing the unknown. He’d talked to plenty of spirits, but it wasn’t exactly the same. He looked to Hazel for help.
'We were just leaving, Nico, do you want to-“
"Yeah." He sighed, "I’ll see you later…Ahran."
Ahran giggled again, “Bye.”
"What was that? Are they your friends?" Nico raised an eyebrow at Percy when they were out of earshot.
"No," he nudged Nico’s side, "But I think they want to be yours."
"Seriously, dude?" Percy looked at him. OK, not really that surprising, considering, but seriously Nico?
"He means,” Hazel cut in, “Those girls had a crush on you.”
"What? No way, that’s-"
"Come on, Nico, I told you you’re popular."
"But I’m not- I mean- that’s so-"
"You are attractive," Percy shrugged, and Hazel thought Nico was going to choke, "I mean, if you’re into the whole stand-offish goth with a heart of gold thing"
"Yeah, Percy, what?" Leo frowned, "I still don’t get what he has that I don’t."
"Well, he has eyebrows, for one." Percy pointed at the burnt bits on hair that were left of Leo’s eyebrows after a recent invention went awry. Apparently not all of him was fire proof.
"Whatever, I still don’t get it." Leo huffed.
"Neither do I…" Nico crossed his arms over his chest and made direct eye contact with his shoes.
"Ask Jason." Hazel grinned and Nico shot her a glare.
"What?" Percy frowned at her and looked at Nico.
"Shut up! I’m leaving." Nico huffed but Hazel stopped him.
"Come on, let’s go get more ice cream. I promise I’ll drop it."
"…fine." Nico huffed, and he and Hazel continued in front of the other two.
"What about Jason?" Percy asked Leo, watching the two siblings in front of them.
"No idea dude. No idea. Hey, do you think if I start wearing black I’ll get more dates?"
"I wouldn’t bank on it."