The third time a snowball comes hurtling towards Nico’s face, he seriously considers just shadow-travelling out of there, fuck what Jason insists on as a ‘bonding session’.
It’s ridiculously cold, his clothes are damp from the snow, and the bonding is definitely not working. If anything, he wants to smack Leo Valdez even more than he usually does. Maybe run him through with his sword a few times, too. And steal his wallet after.
He’s busy contemplating the pros and cons of risking Hazel’s patented puppy-eyed disappointed look when Percy slides onto the bench right next to him.
“Hey,” is all he manages to say, before a fourth snowball comes racing towards him again. Nico grits his teeth and braces for impact, but Percy barely looks up, flicking his wrist in an almost careless motion. The snowball abruptly stops mid-air before promptly turning in the other direction and smashing mercilessly into Leo’s face.
“Snow is essentially water, after all,” Percy explains, somewhat smugly. Leo just scowls and mutters something under his breath that sounds suspiciously like ‘spoilsport’.
“I know,” Nico mutters. “You didn’t have to do that, y’know.” Percy just laughs.
“And risk messing up that handsome face?” he teases. Nico can feel his face starting to burn.
“I – uh, have to go,” Nico says, and gets up, only to be stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t run off again,” Percy tells him, and it almost sounds like a plea. “Okay? I know you don’t like me, but –”
“I do like you!” Nico blurts out, and blushes furiously. “Wait, I mean –”
“Awesome,” Percy beams in a way that Nico absolutely does not find adorable, no sirree. “So, enjoying the bonding session?” He says the last part with an ironic quirk of his lips, and Nico has to force himself not to stare at them.
“Not really,” he says to his feet. “I don’t like the snow much – or the cold. And don’t even get started on the death equals dark and cold thing, okay,” he adds before Percy can say anything. Snow just isn’t his thing, with how it’s damp and wet and is just irritating, especially when packed into snowballs and sent flying towards his head, courtesy of Leo Valdez.
Percy just smirks, completely unoffended by Nico’s sharpness. “I wasn’t going to.”
Nico fidgets. “Oh. Um, okay then. You can go back to your snowball game now.” He gestures vaguely towards the scene, which appears from far to be a regular snowball fight – until you see that Leo has somehow rigged them to explode with double impact and confetti (Nico doesn’t want to know), Jason’s snowballs seem to fly at a speed and precision that would ordinarily be impossible if you weren’t, you know, the son of the god who happens to control the air and wind, and Hazel is nowhere to be found, although people keep falling into mysteriously forming holes in the ground (Leo is a frequent victim. Nico probably should feel more sympathetic).
Percy shrugs, perfectly casual. “Nah, I’d rather hang out with you.”
Nico blinks. “Me?” he asks.
“Yeah, you.” Percy smiles at him. “You’re my friend, di Angelo, how many times do I have to tell you?” He frowns suddenly. “Hey, are you shivering?”
“I told you,” Nico says defensively, “I don’t like the cold.” He rubs his ungloved hands together inconspicuously. Percy, ever inconveniently observant, notices.
“Want my gloves?” he offers. Nico shakes his head so fast he nearly gets whiplash.
“I’m good,” he says.
“Your fingers are white, though, look,” Percy points out. Nico scowls.
“I told you,” he begins, “I don’t need –” Percy reaches out and grabs his hand before he can finish his sentence, and Nico’s brain glazes over, leaving him unable to finish his sentence, because Percy Jackson is holding his hand. Does not compute. Does not compute.
“What are you doing?” he manages to stammer, eventually. Percy smiles, mischievous.
“Holding your hand, di Angelo, what does it look like?” he says, casual as ever.
“You know, di Angelo, you can be really oblivious sometimes.” His voice drops to a murmur. “Besides, we can’t have your hands freezing off – I’ve got big plans for them.” He shoots Nico another mischievous grin, fully aware of the innuendo. Nico swallows.
“Wait, you do like me, right?” Percy cuts in suddenly, frowning. “’Cos Piper said –”
“Piper said what?”
“Oh, gods. Don’t tell me – you’re strai –”
“Styx, Jackson.” Before Percy can respond, Nico’s own chapped lips are pressed against Percy’s. His lips are warm, Nico notes fuzzily – weird, but definitely not unpleasant. He tastes like liquorice and sea salt and Nico is sure he’s died and went to Elysium because Percy Jackson is kissing him and system overload SYSTEM OVERLOAD -
- and then a snowball crashes into the side of his face, making them both gasp and pull apart.
“What in Hades was that?” Percy demands, and Nico feels an irrepressible urge to kill Leo Valdez very slowly and painfully for interrupting the kiss of his fucking dreams.
“Get a room, lovebirds!” Valdez has the nerve to yell in response, grinning like a madman.
“VALDEZ, I SWEAR -!”
Percy laughs. “Gods, Nico, you’re just so fucking cute.”
Nico scowls, fully aware of the stupid fluttering feeling in his chest. “Shut up and help me get revenge, Jackson.”
Percy salutes. “Yes, sir.” He leans over and kisses him chastely on the cheek before darting off, and it takes a full fifteen seconds before Nico recovers.
He glances up at the sky, from which small white flakes are still drifting peacefully from, and it takes all his self-control not to grin like an idiot.
Maybe snow isn’t so bad, after all.