It was on a warm spring afternoon, approximately nine months after Gaea had woken, that Nico felt himself stop. Not like a stop where you remember that you’d forgotten something, but a stop where you finally realize something. Nico hadn’t had many epiphanies in his lifetime; most likely because it was filled with a lot of pain and regret. But as he stopped and truly thought about his life, he couldn’t exactly say that anymore. No, Nico had a lot of good things going. People were a lot friendlier to him around camp. He suspected this was mainly due to Jason, who made it his mission to drag Nico around and force him to do activities outside of his comfort zone. Like participating in Capture the Flag and Camp Counselor meetings. Also there was that one time at the sing-along but Nico would not force himself to remember that night.
He had family and friends. Chiron had decided to disband that rule where demigods could only sit at their parent’s table (mostly because no one followed it to begin with). Jason, Percy, and he had formed an unofficial “big three” table. It was quite annoying at first, especially with the whole ‘percy thing’ but now it wasn’t. Nico honestly enjoyed sitting with them and talking about stupid stuff and watching Jason and Percy be idiots together. He often found himself laughing right along with them. And of course, Hazel and Reyna were just an iris message away.
And then there was Will. Will The Annoying Pain In My Ass Solace. Things between them were…complicated. Well, complicated wasn’t really a good word for it. More like they had kissed on more than numerous occasions and sometimes held hands at the campfire but nothing was official yet. Yeah, that type of complicated. And it was certainly not from lack of trying on Will’s part. He was quite forward in his flirtiness and attempts to ask Nico out on dates. Hey, hold my hand for medical reasons. But Nico had just been too stubborn and scared to accept them. Mainly because there was still this niggling in the back of his mind that screamed ‘what will people think?’
And this was what had truly made him stop. Why was he so scared? Why did he still give a damn what people thought about him? He had faced much scarier things. Things like trekking through Tartarus and back, transporting the entire Athena Parthenos on his own for over 100 miles, having to bear the pain of losing his sister and living on his own, having to bear the self-denial and loathing because of his crush on Percy. Surviving only on pomegranate seeds for a week while wondering if anyone would come to save him. He had been through all these trials in his lifetime and here he was, still scared to let good things happen to him.
He remembered what Favonius had told him: “If you let your anger rule you … your fate will be even sadder than mine.” And here he was, almost a year later and still running. He had been running from his own feelings since he was five years old. Bianca had been his pillar of strength. She had been the one to tell him he was normal and that no matter how many times kids bullied him and called him nasty names, he was still perfect. Well Bianca was gone and she wasn’t coming back. Nico had to be his own pillar of strength. If he wanted happiness, he had to go and take it for himself. And as those thoughts came to him, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He felt as light as a feather and for the first time in a long while, he felt himself brimming with happiness and self-love. So he squared his shoulders and stalked off towards the dining pavilion. There was something that needed to be done that was long overdue.
When Nico walked into the mess hall, a chorus of chatter and laughter reached his ear. He saw Jason waving at him out of the corner of his eye. He was gesturing for him to come sit down. Nico shook his head and gave him a smile. He held up his finger to say ‘just wait a sec, there’s something I need to do first.’ Nico steeled himself and cupped his hands around his mouth.
“HEY WILL SOLACE, I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING.”
Suddenly everyone in the dining room was dead silent and hundreds of pairs of eyes had turned to look at him. Will stared at him, one of his eyebrows risen high up into his hairline, mouth forming into a confused ‘o’.
“YOU AND I ARE GOING TO THE BONFIRE TONIGHT. DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?”
Will shoved himself out of his seat and stalked over towards him. His hands were on his hips and he had a dangerous gleam in his eyes. He didn’t stop until he was only a few inches away from Nico’s face. “Actually I do. Why did it take you so damn long?”
Nico smiled up at him. “I had a few things to figure out first. You know, step out of that brooding cloud of mine.”
The grin that Will flashed him was so radiant, it felt like he was looking into the actual sun itself. And then Nico did something that he would’ve never in a million years pictured himself doing; he lurched forward, cupped Will’s face between his hands and pulled him in for a kiss. He could feel the heat of the blush creep into Will’s cheeks. For one scary moment, nothing happened and Nico thought that maybe this had been a mistake after all. But then Will was kissing him back and for the next solid moment everything was absolute perfection. This kiss was so much better than all those chaste, quick and unsure ones that they had shared over the scattered months. No, this kiss held a solid promise that there would be many more to come. And Nico was finally ready to enjoy them. He didn’t hold back like before. No, he kissed Will with such fervor and joy like he was trying to tell him all about his self-discovery with just his lips.
When they finally broke away, Will was as red as the lava on the climbing wall. He held his hand to his mouth like he was trying to feel the kiss they had shared. Someone in the crown wolf whistled and suddenly every single person in the room was clapping. Jason was grinning at him from ear to ear and flashing him two very eager thumbs up. Chiron looked like he wanted to scold them for causing a scene, but he was clapping along with the rest of them. But none of that compared to the own pride Nico felt welling up inside him. He had done it. He had done something that he had been so fearful of doing, that he felt would have made him further into an outcast. But it didn’t. As he looked around, every single person was smiling. No one was laughing at him. No one was judging him. And this to him, felt like more of a victory than he had ever had at the end of the Giant War.
Will was still gaping at him, his lips moving like a trout out of the sea. “Un, er…um what? What just happened?”
Nico rolled his eyes. “I just made things official between us, duh.” He was beaming from ear to ear as he said it; a smile that he hadn’t been able to make since he was ten years old. Bianca, he thought. I think I’m going to be okay.
Because happy! nico is all I want in life. And I feel that this would be him after a while.