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 { Jason Nico Reyna }

[x]

It all starts when Nico goes to the library. It's two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, he's armed with his laptop bag, a cup of terrible coffee from the machine outside and a determination to actually finish his essay in time for class on Monday— and then, just as he sits down and sets his laptop on the table, his phone buzzes in his back pocket.

He pulls it out with a bemused frown because, well, who the hell would be texting him in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday? Hazel’s off somewhere with Frank, Reyna’s probably at the gym, Percy (like he ever texts Nico) is God knows where… 

 

[Sun 5th Jan 2014] [14:20] So I’m going to guess the brownies you left me in the kitchen are your apology for ‘accidentally’ setting the couch on fire on friday.

Nico stares at the text from an unknown number for a good few minutes. Wrong number, he's guessing. Showing his superb mastery of the English language, he replies with one word.

 

[14:24] Uh.

(There’s a reason Nico studies medicine and not English.)

Regardless, the mysterious text sender doesn’t seem deterred.    

 

[14:25] Okay they are pretty good I’ll give you that but it’s going to take more than baked goods to get you forgiveness after the lashing I got from Pipes when you ran off

[14:26] It was terrifying

[14:28] As intriguing as whatever happened on Friday sounds…

[14:28] ?

[14:28] I think you might have the wrong number.

[14:29] Wait, really? This isn’t Leo?

[14:31] No.

[14:34] Whoops. Sorry I thought this was someone else!

[14:36] Someone else called Leo who apparently set your kitchen on fire- I got that part.   

[14:37] Yeah. Long story. And it wasn’t actually our kitchen.    

[14:39] My friends were having a party over at their place and halfway through Leo got drunk and somehow managed to drop a lit match onto one of the cushions.

Nico snorts out loud, earning a few disapproving looks from the other people in the room. He tries his best to hold his phone down low and make his finger taps on the screen quieter.

 

[14:41] Sounds like a responsible guy.

[14:42] Tell me about it.

[14:45] Anyway, who is this if it’s not Leo?

[14:47] Does it matter?

[14:48] I’m Jason

[14:49] The answer to a question I never asked.

Nico’s fingers twitch hesitantly over his touch screen for a second. Does it matter? It's just a name.

 

[14:51] Nico.

[14:51] That’s your name?    

[14:52] No, it’s my pet lizard’s— yes, it’s my name.    

[14:52] Har har. Well it’s nice to sort-of meet you, Nico. Sorry about the wrong number thing.

[14:53] I got a new phone after an incident with flooded bathroom and haven’t gotten all my contacts back yet

[14:53] It’s fine.

[14:54] (Flooded bathroom? Do I want to know?)

[14:54] I’m just going to say it was entirely not my fault and I cannot be held responsible.

[14:55] That’s probably the guiltiest text I have ever seen.

[x]

Nico doesn’t manage to finish the essay while he’s in the library. After that last text, Jason doesn’t send anything else, but by then Nico’s writing rhythm has already been so broken it can only be refreshed through a long period of time spent browsing the internet pointlessly. At least that’s what he tells himself.

After his second read through of the wikipedia article on the orientation of toilet paper rolls, Nico realizes the whole productivity thing might not be going as well as he had once hoped, and closes his laptop. Maybe he’ll have more luck in his room; Percy said he was going to be out somewhere with Luke tonight, so Nico’s room will be roommate-free and quiet for once.

He packs up his things and chucks his now empty coffee cup into the bin before leaving. It’s only about a 15 minute walk from the library to where Nico stays, if he takes the short way, but his caffeine crash comes sometime after the five minute mark and thus he arrives at his door feeling as lethargic as a dead cat. It’s all he can do to unlock the door and collapse onto his bed.

There’s a knock on the door a few minutes later, just when Nico has started to entertain the idea of standing up and doing something productive. When he goes to open it, he’s greeted by the unimpressed stare of Reyna Avila Ramírez-Arellano, who is standing with one hand on her hip and the other holding a large backpack.

“Did you know you left your wallet on my desk last weekend?” she asks. She reaches into the front pocket of the bag and brings out the aforementioned wallet. “I had to convince Thalia not to commit identity theft and steal all of your money. It wasn’t easy.”

“I had wondered where that had gone,” Nico muses aloud. He takes it back from her and nods. “Thanks. For, uh, not letting Thalia steal my bank info as well.” Not like there’s much to steal, but it’s the thought that counts. “Do you want to come in?”

Reyna steps inside and Nico closes the door behind her. “You really need to clean up more,” she says, looking around the room with a frown.

“Hey, that’s Percy’s side, not mine.” Nico waves an arm over his own, okay, not pristine, but vaguely orderly bed space.

“It’s still your shared room. You need to work together to keep it, well, at least liveable. I think that slice of pizza has been on that windowsill since the last time I was here.”

“When were you last in here?”

“A week ago, Nico.”

He wrinkles his nose and turns away from the window, making a mental note to get Percy to at least make the room clean enough to be considered habitable by only a somewhat corrupt health inspector. “Still not my fault,” he says.

Reyna rolls her eyes. “You’re impossible,” she says. “Anyway, that was all I came over for. And to warn you that Thalia has threatened to trash your room— even more so than it already is— if you don’t come to the next party she invites you to.”

Oh boy. “Is she still angry about me not going to that girl’s party last month?” Nico asks. He can’t remember whose party it was now— one of Thalia’s friends— but it hadn’t been on the top of his priority list at the time. Nico isn’t really a party person.

(That had also been shortly after Percy had gotten together with Luke Castellan, who would be attending the party with Percy, and Nico isn’t that much of a masochist that he wanted to go see those two get drunk and make out on the couch until two in the morning. It’s a slow process of recovery from a sixth grade crush, and no matter how much Nico would like to pretend he’s gone through it all, he’s not quite done yet. Give it a little longer.)

“You did promise you would come with everyone,” Reyna points out. “I think that’s why she was particularly annoyed. And she thinks it’s unhealthy not to ‘live a little’ every now and again.”

Nico sniffs. “I live plenty! And it’s not like I don’t talk to people. I talk to loads of people.”

“Oh?” Reyna raises an eyebrow. “Like who?”

“Hazel.”

“Apart from Hazel,” Reyna says. She crosses her arms and looks at him expectantly.

Nico waves his hand about for a second as though he might catch an idea in the air somehow. “You,” he says eventually. “Percy. I talk to Frank sometimes, if he’s with Hazel.”

“Nico, I’m not really into parties either, but I agree with Thalia on this,” Reyna says. “I know Percy wants you to go out more as well. Just come to the next party and, well, at least meet the rest of the group. Make some acquaintances. If you really hate it, after an hour or so we can leave and go get ice cream or something. At least then everyone should be mostly appeased.”

Slowly, begrudgingly, Nico nods his head in agreement. “Fine,” he says. Then, with the hint of a smirk, he adds, “I know you’re just trying to convince me so that you can get in Thalia’s good books, you know.”

The faint flush that goes across Reyna’s cheeks almost makes up for Nico needing to go to a party in the near future.

“I am not!"

 

 

[x]   

[Tuesday 7th Jan 2014] [14:30] Do you really have a pet lizard?

Nico hasn’t yet managed to master the art of subtly using his phone with it under the desk during lectures, like most other people his age, but he can read a text easily enough. The reason he has to spend a good two minutes puzzling over it is the contents.

The lecture babbles on in the background of his senses while Nico wonders how to respond. Something about blood vessels. Coronary arteries. He isn’t really listening.

Pet lizards?

After some deliberation, Nico slowly starts to type his response, peeking up every couple seconds to make sure his professor doesn’t suspect anything.

 

[14:34] Why are you texting me?

The reply is almost instantaneous.    

 

[14:34] It’s Jason    

[14:35] You know the wrong number guy from Sunday?    

[14:35] I thought you were my pyromaniac friend and accused you of baking brownies    

[14:36] I know that.  

[14:37] I still have the texts from before saved under this number.   

[14:37] But why are you texting me again?

The next message takes a while to come, so Nico takes the opportunity to set his phone down in his lap and actually take down some more notes. He’s halfway through writing down the word ‘myocardial’ in scratchy blue pen when his screen lights up with a new message.

 

[14:44] I’m waiting for my lecture to start and the teacher hasn’t shown up yet.    

[14:43] I was rereading my old messages and saw the ones you sent me before    

[14:44] You know when you said nico was your pet lizards name sarcastically?    

[14:45] And I was wondering if you really had a pet lizard    

[14:46] The whole of that sentence was total sarcasm.    

[14:46] I promise that I don’t have a pet lizard.    

[14:47] I thought so.

[14:47] But hey, you never know.

[14:51] Sorry if I’m bothering you, I’m just bored out of my mind and all of my friends are busy    

[14:53] My lecture was meant to start at half past, but apparently our teacher has disappeared off the face of the earth, so I'm sitting here with nothing to do.

Maybe it's because Nico is bored with learning about myocardial biology. Maybe Thalia (and by extension, Reyna’s) insistence on him becoming more social have finally wriggled its way into his brain.

Whatever the reason, Nico actually types a text with the intention of starting a conversation, rather than ending one.    

 

[14:55] What is your lecture going to be about?    

[14:56] Intermediate greek   

[14:57] I do classics, so it’s part of the course, but honestly latin's better

[14:59] Hey, what’s wrong with Greek?    

[14:59] Greek’s cool.    

[15:00] Nothing’s wrong with it! It’s just… kinda difficult   

[15:01] Latin is a lot easier.   

[15:01] Do you learn greek or something then? Wait, are you even the same age as me?

[15:03] I did Greek back in school.    

[15:04] I don’t take it anymore, though. I’m in college doing medicine.    

[15:04] That’s cool. Freshman?   

[15:04] Yeah.    

[15:06] Same.    

[15:06] Do you want to be a doctor?    

[15:07] No idea. Maybe.    

[15:08] I’m working it out as I go along.    

[15:08] I get that    

[15:10] I have no idea what I want to do later, or how classics is meant to help with that, but I always loved learning about mythology and stuff like that when I was a kid    

[15:11] And I was always the best in class at latin, so I figured, hey, why not?    

[15:12] We never even had the opportunity to learn Latin when I was in school.    

[15:12] Your school taught greek but not latin? That’s… weird.    

[15:13] Our headmistress had something against Latin and Ancient Rome in general. I don’t even know why.    

[15:14] Die-hard greece fanatic?    

[15:15] Man, but I remember I always got the greek and the roman gods mixed up when I was little.    

[15:15] I just got so confused    

[15:16] It didn’t help that I used to play this card game that used all the greek gods for cards and figurines    

[15:17] And then when I tried to memorise all the gods’ names, I’d get corrected in school about it    

[15:19] Wait    

[15:19] Do you mean Mythomagic? That card game?    

[15:20] Yeah, that’s it!    

[15:20] Have you heard of it? 

[15:21] I used to play it a lot. I collected nearly every figurine and everything.    

[15:23] I think they actually made a special edition with the roman gods, you know.    

[15:24] Wait seriously?    

[15:26] Wow and I spent my whole childhood struggling to remember that mars was zeus’ roman aspect

Nico is jolted out of his texting-induced trance by the sound of the rest of the class shoving their books into their bags and rushing down the aisle to escape from the room. He looks up and realizes that the lecture is over and, shit, it can’t seriously have been an entire hour already(?).

Except even the lecturer is leaving now, and the clock suggests that, yes, Nico has in fact been messaging Jason for just under an hour.

He really should have stopped texting in the middle of the lecture. Nico is normally the one to silently berate the kids who sit there tapping away on their phones instead of actually listening to what is being said, but there he had been, chatting with some guy he doesn’t even know about the kids’ card game Nico will begrudgingly admit he still plays to this day instead of getting educated.

His phone buzzes again for a new message. Nico looks at it, looks away, and then puts it down on the table while he slips his sparse notes into his bags and hikes it up onto his shoulder. He picks the phone back up again and turns it around in his palm as he makes his way out of the building, thinking, thinking, thinking.

Another buzz.

Well.

One more text couldn’t hurt, right?

 

[x]

[Thursday 16th Jan 2014] [11:30] You wouldn’t happen to know any good roman-related jokes would you?    

[11:33] What exactly do you mean by ‘roman related jokes’?    

[11:33] Like    

[11:34] Like: A roman soldier walks into a bar, holds up 2 fingers and says “Give me 5 beers”    

[11:36] … Wow.    

[11:34] We’re talking about them in class right now.    

[11:36] Sounds productive.    

[11:36] How was the Roman Empire cut in half?    

[11:34] Is that a genuine question or the start of a pun?    

[11:36] A pun. Stay with the program.    

[11:34] Oh uh I don’t know. How?    

[11:36] With a pair of Caesars.    

[11:36] Oh my god that’s amazing.    

[11:37] And terrible    

[11:37] But also amazing.

[x]


[Monday 20th Jan 2014] [20:09] Should I get hearty italian or wheat bread for my sub?    

[12:14] Italian.    

[12:15] You answered too slow    

[12:15] I got wheat.    

[12:16] Ew.    

[12:16] Hey what’s wrong with wheat?    

[12:17] (I promise to get italian next time, but wheat's still good.)    

[12:17] Wheat tastes awful. I cannot believe you even had to consider getting wheat as another option.    

[12:18] Wheat bread never did anything to you    

[12:19] You don’t know my life.    

[12:19] Maybe it viciously attacked me when I was a kid.    

[12:20] (oh my god)    

[12:21] I’m very sorry for your trauma.

[x]


It takes an alarmingly short amount of time for Nico’s text conversations with Jason to become as much a part of his daily routine as going to lectures or picking up his morning coffee. Their conversations are mostly rooted in geeking out over TV shows, criticising each other’s sandwich preferences and discussing greek mythology, which sounds like it should be a train wreck all around but somehow isn’t.

Reyna doesn’t miss the fact that Nico’s been practically glued to his phone, but, being Reyna, she doesn’t badger him about it. Percy does, but he never gets as far as actually finding out Jason’s name, and just refers to him as ‘that guy Nico’s pen pals— text pals?— with’.

Slowly, Nico starts to think of Jason as a friend. Maybe.

 

 

[x]

[Wednesday 22nd Jan 2014] [22:49] One of my friends managed to get me into watching teen wolf and I’ve become attached    

[22:50] Send help.    

[22:51] I’ll pray for you.    

[22:50] I can really feel the sympathy in your text, Nico.    

[22:51] Of course you can.    

[22:51] There are worse things you could become attached to, you know.    

[22:51] (Wait, do you mean the MTV television show or the older movie? I assumed the show, but…)    

[22:52] Yeah, the mtv one.    

[22:52] Piper absolutely loves it and I accidentally broke something of hers so as an apology I agreed to sit with her while she rewatches season 1    

[22:51] Piper?    

[22:52] Yeah, she’s one of my friends    

[22:52] Ex-girlfriend, actually.    

[22:53] Oh    

[22:54] ???    

[22:53] It’s nothing.    

[22:53] There’s a girl I've met a couple times called Piper and I was just surprised because it’s not a common name.    

[22:55] Oh right. I was really confused for a second because I thought you thought    

[22:55] Actually nevermind.    

[22:58] Okay WHY would you go on a group date with your girlfriend when your wolf powers are going crazy and her family probably wants to kill you for said wolf powers    

[22:58] I don’t understand any of this show.    

[22:59] Episode 3?    

[23:00] Yeah    

[23:02] Wait do you actually watch this?????    

[23:05] … Maybe.   

[23:05] My sister got me into it.    

[23:06] I keep on watching it for the characters!   

[23:07] Suuuuuure.    

[23:08] Who’s your favourite?    

[23:09] Don't laugh. And it's Scott.    

[23:09] And there’s another character you haven’t met yet, but yeah, Scott.    

[23:10] Really? Huh, I wouldn’t have guessed that.    

[23:12] Why not?    

[23:14] He’s just kinda…    

[23:14] Not the brightest crayon in the box?    

[23:12] Hey, Scott’s smart.    

[23:12] I mean, maybe he’s not the smartest in the group, but he’s definitely the best person.    

[23:12] Morally— you haven’t seen enough yet to know, but he’s always the one trying to do the right thing.    

[23:12] It’s kind of dumb, but I like that.    

[23:14] No, no, it’s not dumb    

[23:14] That’s a really cool way to look at it, actually.

[x]

[03:29] Hey are you still awake?    

[03:33] Yeah. What is it?    

[03:35] I wanted to ask something    

[03:35] Wait, that makes it sound really intense- I just mean something about teen wolf    

[03:36] ?    

[03:35] Who/what is Sterek?    

[03:36] Oh my god.    

[03:37] Uh.    

[03:37] Where did you hear that from?    

[03:35] Piper muttered something about it under her breath during one of the scenes.    

[03:37] I can’t believe I’m actually explaining this    

[03:37] It’s the pairing name for Derek and Stiles.    

[03:37] Romantic pairing.    

[03:35] OH    

[03:35] Wow    

[03:35] Okay    

[03:35] That makes sense, actually.    

[03:36] I can see that.    

[03:37] You can see… Stiles and Derek?    

[03:39] They have good chemistry.    

[03:41] And they’ve both good looking, which doesn’t really affect the relationship but I appreciate anyway.    

[03:41] Although Stiles hasn't had a shirtless scene yet and I think that's a wasted opportunity.    

[03:51] Nico?    

[03:53] I’m here    

[03:53] Oh, okay. You didn’t respond for a while, so I was worried.    

[03:54] I mean, it’s the middle of the night so you probably SHOULDN’T be responding, but I was worried it was because of what I said    

[03:37] I thought you had a girlfriend  

[03:35] Well, yeah, I’m actually bisexual.    

[03:35] Sorry if I made this awkward? I didn’t really think you’d have a problem with it.    

[03:37] I don’t have a problem with it! I was just. Surprised?    

[03:35] Maybe I should have commented more often on the attractiveness of males around me to give you a hint.    

[03:37] God, sorry, I’m acting like a massive asshole.    

[03:38] Which is ridiculous because I’ve had a crush on my very male roommate for years    

[03:38] It’s 4am and I thought you were the straightest of straight guys, it’s a surprise.    

[03:40] I    

[03:40] Back on topic of what we were actually talking about before    

[03:40] … I prefer Scott/Stiles.    

[03:44] Scott and stiles? No way.    

[03:45] I’ve decided in the last 10 minutes that I am a Sterek fan through and through.

[x]      

[10:30] I’m sorry about your roommate, by the way.

[10:32] It sucks.

[10:48] It doesn't matter. I can deal with it.

[10:50] It's not really... a big thing anymore.

[10:51] I'm over it, I mean.

[10:53] Want to talk about it?

[10:56] I'd rather not.

[10:58] Well, I'm always here if you want to.

[x]   

[Friday 3rd Feb 2014] [20:01] Is it normal for your roommate and his boyfriend to get a good way on their way to having sex on their bed while you’re still in the room?    

[20:02] Whoa whoa whoa    

[20:03] Uh. Well, Leo's consistent attempts at getting laid haven’t worked very well so far, so there isn’t a lot of sex going on in our room?    

[20:03] Are they seriously just doing that while you’re in the room?    

[20:04] I’m not actually entirely sure if they realize I’m here.    

[20:05] That’s… not great.    

[20:06] Hey, you live in New York, right?

[20:06] Yes?

[20:06] How far away are you from central park right now?    

[20:07] What?    

[20:07] About 10 minutes if I walk quickly. Why?    

[20:08] There’s this little coffee place on the north side of it that I go to all the time.    

[20:09] I’ll send you the address in just a second, but you can go there and get something while your roommate… Does his thing?    

[20:09] Just tell the barista it’s paid for by Jason.    

[20:10] That’s crazy. You don’t have to do that.    

[20:10] I might just go to the library or something.    

[20:11] No! Go to the shop and get a coffee or whatever you want on me.    

[20:12] It can be a one month anniversary present.    

[20:12] What?    

[20:13] Anniversary of what?    

[20:14] The anniversary of our text conversation thing starting.    

[20:14] It’s been nearly a whole month now.    

[20:15] Seriously?    

[20:16] That’s…    

[20:16] Kind of weird?    

[20:16] A little.    

[20:17] Maybe it is, but I guess that’s how life is.    

[20:18] People have met in stranger ways.    

[20:19] We’ve never actually met.    

[20:19] You’re such a pedantic.    

[20:23] I just left $10 in advance at the coffee shop for someone ordering by the name of ‘Nico’, so will you please go to get yourself something?    

[20:24] Otherwise they’ll just take it as a generous tip    

[20:26] And I mean, I like that coffee shop but I would rather that $10 went towards you getting away from your weird roommate and relaxing than tipping some random baristas I don’t actually know.

[x]        

[20:50] I can’t believe you actually left money for me to get a drink.   

[20:51] You’re too nice for your own good, you know.    

[20:53] What if I was some creepy 60 year old guy trying to kidnap you or something?    

[20:54] I don’t really see how buying you a cup of coffee would help you kidnap me in any case.    

[20:56] Maybe I asked the barista what you looked like so I could search you out in a crowd.    

[20:56] Did you really?    

[20:57] No.    

[20:57] But I COULD have.    

[20:58] You could just ask me yourself if you wanted to know.    

[21:00] Actually, it’s kind of weird that we’ve been talking for a month and I have literally no idea what you look like.    

[21:01] You aren’t missing out on much, don’t worry.    

[21:02] Hey, don’t say that.    

[21:05] Do you want to do a Q and A sort of thing?    

[21:06] What do you mean?    

[21:07] Asking about about what we look like.

[21:08] Sending a picture or straight out describing ourselves sounds over the top, but it would be pretty cool to have a vague idea of what you look like.

[21:10] As long as it doesn’t become too personal, I’ll do it.    

[21:11] If you don’t want to answer anything, you don’t have to, so don’t worry.    

[21:11] I’ll go first, if you want. Hair color?    

[21:12] Black.    

[21:12] Eye color?    

[21:29] Blue. Like really light blue. How tall are you?    

[21:30] I’ve never measured myself. Maybe 5’7”(?)    

[21:30] Wow, you’re pretty short.    

[21:31] Shut up!  

[21:32] It’s not a bad thing!    

[21:32] I’m just surprised. I’m 6’1”, so you’re a lot shorter than me.   

[21:33] Rub it in, why don’t you?    

[21:35] I bet you’re one of those bulky blond jocks that towers over everyone.    

[20:36] …    

[20:38] Christ, you actually are, aren’t you?    

[20:39] This is ridiculous.

[x]

It’s easy to forget, amongst the chaos, that Nico doesn’t actually know Jason. He’s never met him— probably never will— and the only reason this thing started happening was that unfortunate slip of the finger Jason had when he was trying to text his actual friend. Nico doesn’t know him.

But he learns some things.

He learns that Jason is 19 and his birthday is on the first of July, and that when he was younger his sister used to make cupcakes for him with purple and orange icing and they’d eat them all in an hour and get sick but Jason loved it.

He learns that Jason prefers dogs to cats but he only has one pet fish because he isn’t allowed anything else in his dorm.

He learns that Jason has a propensity towards punctuality and he’s only ever been late for an appointment twice in his life, but sometimes he stays up texting Nico about Teen Wolf until three in the morning and nearly sleeps through his alarm the next day.

 

[x]   

[Monday 3rd Feb 2014] [18:03] Hey, Jason,    

[18:03] Did you ever actually find out whether those brownies were apology brownies?   

[18:03] The ones you first texted me about?    

[18:04] Hey Nico!    

[18:05] Yeah, I actually texted Leo on the right number afterwards and asked him— they were, but he didn’t even bake them himself    

[18:05] He just bought them from the bakery    

[18:05] But they are pretty much my favourite brownies ever, so it’s alright.    

[18:06] He was forgiven then?    

[18:07] Yeah.    

[18:07] Leo isn’t really someone you can stay mad at, you know?    

[18:11] Yeah    

[18:13] I can think of someone I know like that.

[x]

Nico finds out that Jason is kind of worried and kind of confused about his future, and that sometimes he worries about what he’s actually going to do with his life and how he’s meant to decide that. He finds out that Jason broke up with his last girlfriend last summer and that he’s beginning to think he likes someone else, and every time Jason mentions it something in Nico’s throat expands and constricts until he feels like he’s going to choke.

He also discovers that Jason has terrible taste in Teen Wolf pairings, but maybe that’s not as important as some of the other things.

 

[x]

[Saturday 8th Feb 2014] [02:03] Update on teen wolf: I just finished the first season and I’m emotionally wrecked    

[02:05] Didn’t you only start watching it on wednesday?    

[02:06] Yeah.

[02:07] I can’t tell if I should be impressed or worried.    

[02:09] Is it bad that I’m tempted to start watching the second season?    

[02:10] You do get a lot of character development in the second… and new characters…      

[02:10] If you do it, tell me when you get to episode 4.    

[02:11] What happens in episode 4?    

[02:10] I’m just going to say there’s Stiles, Derek and a swimming pool involved.    

[02:11] Aw, come on, Nico, that’s a low blow    

[02:12] Now you know I’m gonna have to keep on watching    

[02:15] If I actually used emoticons I would probably put a passive aggressive smiley one here.    

[02:15] e.g. :)    

[02:16] Or maybe even an angel face with a halo:    

[02:16]  0:-)    

[02:17] Who are you and what have you done with Nico?

[x]

Really, he probably should have seen it coming. Things had been going pretty well in Nico’s life for a full four weeks; it’s only to be expected something would come along and fuck things up.

It all starts to fall apart when Reyna pointedly messages him to inform him of Piper’s upcoming party on Valentines Day. Nico is lying on his bed, attempting to rewrite his scribbled lecture notes, when the first message pops up on his screen.    

 

[Monday 10th Feb 2014] [10:21] I’ve been told to tell you that Piper is holding a big party for Valentine's Day the day after and Thalia expects to see you there.

[10:21] And you can’t back out of this one! You promised.    

[10:23] A party for Valentine's Day? Seriously?   

[10:23] Who even does that?    

[10:24] Piper and Annabeth, apparently.    

[10:25] I thought I would just have to go to some random weekend party.    

[10:25] I didn’t agree to being stuck with a bunch of drunk couples on Valentine's Day.   

[10:27] Nico, please?    

[10:27] It’s not actually on Valentine's, it’s the day after.    

[10:28] And you won’t be the only person going without a date.    

[10:28] Thalia and her brother are both going without proper dates.    

[10:29] And me, obviously. There’ll be other people too.    

[10:30] Thalia has a brother?    

[10:31] And don’t act like you’re actually going to be alone— you and Thalia are about two words away from getting together.    

[10:31] If you two AREN’T kissing somewhere by the end of that night I’ll be surprised.    

[10:32] Oh, be quiet.    

[10:32] It’s not like that.    

[10:33] And yes, Thalia has a brother. He used to go out with Piper before she and Annabeth became a couple.    

[10:34] We were all in the same high school.    

[10:36] Huh. Okay.    

[10:36] I still don’t want to go.    

[10:37] Did I ask if you wanted to go or not?    

[10:37] You’re coming if I have to barge in there and drag you, di Angelo.

Nico sighs and closes the message screen on his phone, then chucks it to the end of his bed.

“You alright, Nico?” Percy asks from across the room, spinning around in his desk chair to face him. He’s been sitting in with Nico for a good hour now, but Nico’s pretty sure he’s going out for lunch with Annabeth for a catch-up soon. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Nico says. Then, because he really is a masochist in the end, he asks, “Are you going to Piper’s party on Friday?”

“Of course!” Percy snorts. “Do you seriously think Annabeth would let me otherwise?”

“Guess not.” Nico rolls over to face the wall and closes his eyes, hoping Percy will leave it at that. Of course, because he’s Percy, he doesn’t.

“Are you going?” There’s a creaking sound as Percy spins around and around in his chair. “To the party?”

“Yeah. Reyna insists on it.”

“Hey, don’t make it sound like it’s a punishment. It’ll be fun.”

Nico rolls his eyes. “I’m sure."

 

 

[x]

[18:09] Got any plans for valentines day?    

[18:11] Nothing for the day, but I’ve been blackmailed into going to a friend’s party the day after.    

[18:12] Hopefully I’ll be able to slip away from it quickly, though.          

[18:12] Have you?    

[18:16] Not yet, but I’ve got my eyes on someone.    

[18:18] You haven’t got any loved ones to spend the day with?    

[18:25] No one like that, no.    

[18:26] I’ll probably spend most of the day out at the library so I can avoid my roommate and his boyfriend.    

[18:28] Can I buy you coffee again?    

[18:29] It was good last time, right?    

[18:31] It was, but you really don’t have to do that.    

[18:29] No, I want to.

[x]

[Friday 14th Feb 2014] [15:13] Have you gotten your coffee yet?    

[15:15] Do you actually know the baristas in that shop?     

[15:13] Why do you ask?    

[15:15] Because when I went in and ordered a latte, the girl at the counter asked if I was Nico and when I said yes she started glaring at me like I just killed her puppy.    

[15:15] She begrudgingly drew a heart in the latte foam though.     

[15:16] Oh god     

[15:16] Sorry about that. It was probably Drew.    

[15:17] Do you never tip her or something?     

[15:18] No, uh…     

[15:18] It’s something else, but don’t worry about it.

[15:19] Is the drink good?    

[15:20] It is.    

[15:20] Thanks, Jason.    

[15:21] This is… really nice.     

[15:23] Happy Valentine's day, Nico. :)    

[15:23] You’re so lame.    

[15:31] Happy Valentine's day.

[x]

The sky is starting to bud with rainclouds by the time Reyna and Nico drive up to Piper’s house. Nico tugs at his thin black hoodie and frowns until Reyna slaps his hand away and tells him to look slightly less like he wants to die.

“It won’t be that bad,” Reyna says, unclipping her seatbelt. “You know I’m not someone who likes to go to parties either. We’ll just stay for a little while until it’s okay to leave, and then go and get food or something.”

Nico bites down on his instinct to tell Reyna, yet again, that Nico highly doubts Reyna will be going anywhere tonight with anyone not owning the name Thalia Grace, and instead just gives a noncommittal grunt. Reyna doesn’t look satisfied, but she leaves him alone and they both get out of the car without any more protests.

The party’s only been officially going on for an hour or so now, but if there’s one thing Piper knows how to do, it’s get a party atmosphere going; Nico can spot two, no, wait, three tipsy couples making out on the front porch alone, and the noise from inside is loud enough Nico thinks it’s a small wonder none of the neighbors have called the police already.

(He actually suspects Annabeth probably planned in advance and made deals with the neighbours to stop that happening, but he doesn’t have any proof. Yet.)

As soon as he and Reyna step inside, someone with a red face and a wide grin shoves a cup filled with some sort of mysterious alcohol into each of their hands. Reyna pulls a face and, as soon as they push their way through to the kitchen, pours the mixture down the sink and gets herself a cup of water. Nico is about to do the same until he catches Luke and Percy laughing together in the hallway.

He manages to down half the cup before Reyna snatches it off of him and gives him a reprimanding glare.

“If you’re going to get drunk, do it with a drink you’ve actually poured yourself,” she says. But then her eyes follow Nico’s and she sees the couple in the hallway, who are now locked together at the lips. Her expressions softens slightly, and she reaches forward to pat Nico on the shoulder. Nico doesn’t move away.

Just as he opens his mouth to speak, someone’s hand clamps on his shoulder and the familiar sound of Thalia’s laughter floods his ears. “Nico, you actually came!”

“You threatened to trash my room unless I did.” He pulls away from the hand and turns to see Thalia behind him, not looking one bit guilty. She steps around to be beside Reyna, head bopping along to the music thrumming through the house, and grins.

“You would never go anywhere but your room and the library if I didn’t make you come out every now and again,” Thalia says. “It’s how I show I care, Nico.”

Nico snorts and rolls his eyes. “Of course it is.”

“Where are Annabeth and Piper?” Reyna asks, raising her voice a little above normal to make sure she can be heard over the noise. “I haven’t seen them yet.”

Thalia shrugs. “I think Annabeth might be out getting more drinks. They didn’t expect this many people this early, so I guess word went around a little better than they thought it would. And Piper went off to chat with Jason a little while ago— don’t know where.”

Nico is so lucky Reyna took that drink off of him before, because if he had been in the middle of drinking something when he heard that, he probably would have spat it all over Thalia. “T-Talking to who?” he splutters.

Jason’s a common name, right? It couldn’t be that Jason.

“Jason,” Thalia says, eyebrows creased in confusion at him. “Jason Grace. My little brother? I don’t think you’ve met him before, actually. He’s good friends with Piper and Leo— and Reyna, actually. Rey, haven’t you mentioned Jason before?”

Oh God.

“I have,” Reyna says. She’s looking at Nico with a worried frown as well now. “I told you I used to go to school with him, remember?”

“You didn’t say his name was Jason,” Nico hisses.

“Does it matter?”

Nico’s phone, which has been sitting surreptitiously in the back of his jeans pocket before this, buzzes twice, and Nico barely manages to keep himself from jumping ten feet into the air. He mumbles something about being right back before ducking into the crowd and away from Thalia and Reyna.

Somehow, he manages to find himself to the drinks’ table. He makes sure to pour himself a generous cup of beer before he takes out his phone and checks the newest message.    

 

[10:58] Are you at the dreaded party yet?    

[10:58] If it’s any consolation I spent the last five minutes finding out way more information about my friend Piper’s sex life than I ever wanted to know.

Shit. Shit. Shit. This cannot be happening.

Nico stares at the incriminating phone screen, then at his cup of beer, then back at the phone screen. He’s about to take a thick gulp when someone taps him on the back and he spins around clumsily, heart racing a hundred miles an hour

“Dude, you okay?” Percy asks, tilting his head bemusedly at Nico’s evident panic.

Christ, Percy is not who Nico wants to see right now. He’s somehow detached from Luke, though, so Nico supposes he better count his blessings.

“I’m fine,” Nico says. “Uh, but— listen, when you see them, tell Reyna and Thalia I had to go early. I’m leaving now.”

“What? You only just got here!”

“It’s an emergency,” Nico says without thinking, which was quite possibly the dumbest thing he could have thought of, because Percy, with his damned hero complex, immediately stiffens.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, voice lowered. He leans forward so that Nico can hear him and no, Nico, you are over him, it is so many layers of wrong to be thinking about how nice his aftershave smells when he’s with Luke and Jason is—

“Look, I just have to go,” Nico says again, and he pushes past Percy to do the exact same manoeuvre he had used to get away from Thalia and Reyna. Only this time, Percy manages to grab onto his sleeve before he can slip away.

“Nico, can’t you tell me what’s going on?”

“Leave me alone!” Nico snatches his arm back and glares at Percy, but there’s no heat behind it. Someone jostles his arm from behind and sends the cup of beer he had been holding onto tumbling onto the floor. “It doesn’t matter, Percy. Just— just go and find Luke.”

When Nico turns back around to attempt to escape again, several things happen at once.

  1. The music suddenly changes to some Shakira song he doesn’t recognise, but the other partygoers apparently do, judging by the loud cheer.
  2. Percy trips over Nico’s dropped cup and goes stumbling forward into the crowd, causing several people to trip themselves.
  3. Piper, who has just managed to make her way through the wall of people carrying several bottles of beer, promptly gets shoved and the beers go flying across the floor.
  4. Nico collides into what feels like a brick wall that actually turns out to be someone else’s chest.

All of the air goes whooshing out of Nico in a painful exhale. He gasps and tries to back up, but somehow his ankle catches the other person’s and they both lurch backwards. For one single moment, Nico feels the world go still and the music freeze, and he becomes acutely aware of the stranger’s warm hand instinctively clutching the small of the waist, but the next second everything’s going as fast as ever, and Nico’s head slams into the corner of the drinks’ table with an awful crunch.

“Nico!”

“Shit, is he okay?”

“I didn’t—“

“Does he need an ambulance?”

Fuck, that hurts.

Nico’s head is spinning and the world is still 90% grey and fuzzy, like static on a television screen, but he can’t let any of these idiots call an ambulance for a knock on the head. He pushes himself off the ground with a groan and tries to blink himself to full consciousness.

“I’m fine,” he says. The music is still going on, and he can still hear the bubble of partying going on, so his fall can’t have been that bad. “I’m fine.”

He tries to push himself up, but someone’s hand gently holds him down. It takes a few more blurry blinks until Nico can make out the hand as Hazel’s. (When did she get here?)

“Be careful,” she says. “You just knocked your head pretty bad, Nico. Don’t get up so suddenly.”

“I’m fine,” Nico insists, but he’s slower as he sits up this time. He realizes with increasing embarrassment that, as well as Hazel, Percy, Piper, Annabeth and Frank are all crowded around him. Oh, and the tall guy who actually made him trip in the first place, who’s currently staring at Nico like he’s an utterly perplexing calculus problem that’s way above his skill level.

Unable to bear the coddling anymore, Nico pushes himself up off the ground, ignoring Hazel’s worried protests, until he’s managed to stand straight on his own two feet. He mumbles something about getting some fresh air and tries to weave his way through everyone, but it isn’t until he gets out onto the porch that he realizes Hazel and Tall Blond Guy followed after him.

“What happened?” Hazel asks, shooing a kissing couple off of the bench to sit there herself. “I was over talking to Frank and then I heard this crash and you were lying on the floor with…”

Nico opens his mouth to say that he was just being an idiot and fell over his own feet when the other guy cuts in. “It was my fault; I wasn’t looking where I was going.” He looks over to Nico and ducks his head a little.  “I’m really sorry. I should have paid more attention. Is your head alright?”

Nico rubs at what feels like an egg on the back of his skull and shrugs. “I’ll live.”

“Do you think I should go get some ice?” Hazel says, gnawing at her lip. “I’m gonna go get you some ice. Jason, can you just stay with him and not let him run off?”

The guy nods and says, “Sure.”

Hazel slips back into the house just as Nico begins to compute what she said.

Jason.

This isn’t happening. This cannot be happening.

Jason Grace is, just as Nico had guessed before, blond, tall and bulky; he looks like he belongs on the cover of some sports’ magazine, or as the leader of a high school football team. Blue eyes, check— not quite the same shade as Thalia’s, but now that Nico knows they’re related, he can see the similarities. For some reason, the face rings a familiar bell in the back of Nico's mind, but he can't place it.

“Hey, you’re looking really pale,” Jason says, stepping right in front of Nico frowning down at him. He opens his mouth to say something else, but then closes it again. “You should probably sit down,” he settles on eventually, nodding to himself.

“I said I’m fine,” Nico says. He’s actually starting to feel a little woozy again, but by God, if he wants to feign wellness and collapse on Piper and Annabeth’s porch he will do so, and nobody can make him do otherwise. Even Jason. Especially Jason.

Jason exhales and, with practiced patience, asks again. “Can you just sit down? Please? I really don’t want to have to explain why I let you stay up standing if Hazel comes back and you’ve fainted.”

“I’m not going to faint,” Nico grumbles. “I’m not a ten year old girl.”

“No, you’re just an extremely stubborn guy who two minutes ago knocked his head into a drinks table and could have a concussion.” Jason pointedly steps back and looks straight at Nico. “If you really don’t want to, I won’t make you. But I thought you’d prefer sitting down to collapsing in the middle of the porch.”

Begrudgingly, and mostly because there’s a ringing in his ears that’s starting to get even louder than the music still pumping inside the house, Nico trudges over to the bench and sits. He does his best to avoid eye contact with Jason as he sits down beside Nico.

“What did you say your name was, again?” Jason asks as he slips his phone out of his pocket. Real subtle.

“I didn’t.”

After a few seconds of silence, Jason seems to get that that’s the only response he’s going to get. He snorts, tapping away at something on his phone screen. “I’m Jason,” he offers, as though Nico didn’t know that already.

“The answer to a question I never asked,” Nico mutters before the words can catch up to him. Jason’s head snaps round to him a second afterwards and Nico wishes he could toss the words back into his throat.

“You…” Jason is staring at Nico really intensely and it takes everything Nico has not to squirm under the scrutiny. God, he’s stupid. The exact same sentence he used to reply to Jason when they first talked over text— and here he is, mindlessly using that while he’s trying to hide the fact he already knows Jason way too far for his liking.

The porch door opens with a crash as Hazel accidentally slams it into the wall. She sucks in a breath and gingerly closes it again, grimacing all the while. When she turns around to face the two of them, Nico catches sight of a bag of frozen peas clutched in her hand. Nico has never been so glad to see his Hazel in his life.

“I couldn’t find any icepacks, so I got these instead,” she says. “You’ll need to put it back once you’re done, Nico, but—“

When the last syllable of Nico’s name leaves Hazel’s lip, Jason gasps so absurdly loud it sounds like a five year-old attempting to sound surprised for a drama class. Nico cringes and Hazel stares.

“Jason, are you alright?” she asks.

Jason nods his head up and down dumbly and then turns to Nico, expression somehow torn between shock, happiness and worry. “Yeah,” he says, eyes on Nico the whole time, “I’m good.”

Okay, forget this. Cover blown, patient down— it’s time to go.

“Thanks for looking after me,” Nico rushes as he pushes himself off the bench and takes the peas from Hazel’s hands. He mumbles something that may or may not be words and then slips back inside and quickly immersing himself in the boiling crowd.

(One of the good things about being short: it’s easier to hide when you’re running from a series of bad decisions.)

He’ll wait five minutes or so, avoid everyone else, and then leave. He’ll delete Jason’s number and hope the idiot doesn’t try to get his address through their group of friends. When Hazel asks why he ran off, maybe he’ll explain to her the truth. Maybe. If anyone deserves the truth, it’s Hazel.

There’s an unopened bottle of beer lying on the stairs in the hallway, so Nico grabs it and drinks it as he mills around the various rooms in Piper and Annabeth’s place. He drops the peas back in the freezer as he passes through the kitchen, just barely avoiding notice from Leo lounging on the counter.

Nico is opening the door to the upstairs bathroom, which is somehow not occupied by any drunk couples, when his phone buzzes with a new text message.

It takes a minute for him to fish his phone out of his pocket; there’s a pleasant buzz from the alcohol building up in his veins but giving him the slightest difficulty with hand-eye coordination. When he finally does pull it out, he shuts the bathroom door behind him and slides down until he’s sitting with his back against it.

Surprise, surprise, the message is from Jason.

 

[11:23] This is going to sound so creepy if I’m wrong but I have a feeling I’m not

[11:24] Nico di Angelo? Is that your full name?    

[11:26] I.e. Did you seriously just run off into Piper’s house with a bag of frozen peas to avoid me?

Subtlety, thy name is Nico. Looks like Jason’s managed to put 2 and 2 together.

There’s a part of Nico’s mind telling him he’s overreacting, that there’s no reason to be hiding in the bathroom to escape from the guy he’s been texting for a month.

But then there’s the other part of him, the part flooded with anxiety, that’s telling him their relationship can’t carry on being simple text conversations and late night chats about anything and everything, that actually knowing Jason would ruin everything they’ve barely managed to build.

What’s the chance of Jason still wanting to talk to Nico when he knows he’s Nico di Angelo, that creepy, quiet kid who sits in the back of the hall and never talks to anyone, the weirdo who still, for all intents and purposes, isn’t fully over his sixth grade crush on Percy Jackson, the guy who, as well as that crush, started having feelings for someone he’s never met but he’s been texting for over a month?

There isn’t a chance. That’s why Nico’s not going to let himself get disappointed.

Nico lifts the beer bottle to take another gulp and his tongue comes out dry. It’s empty. Damn.

There’s a knock on the door. Nico startles and flails to go to turn the lock, cursing himself for not locking it earlier, but before he can reach the hinge starts to creak and the door pushes itself open. Nico watches in horror as the door hits against the wall and he sees the person standing in the doorway.

Jason scans the bathroom quickly before his eyes land on where Nico is sprawled on the floor. “ What are you doing?” he asks, sounding suitably bemused.

“Uh,” Nico says smartly. It takes a minute for him to contort his tongue into actual words. “Sitting?”

“I can see that,” Jason says. Then, sighing, he closes the door behind him and sits down on the floor right beside Nico. “I was right, wasn’t I?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking abou…” Nico attempts to deny, but his words trail off when he realizes there’s no point avoiding it anymore. He throws his arms up in the air. “Oh, God, yes, you were right. A+ for you, whoop-de-doo! I’m Nico, Nico di Angelo, and you’re apparently Jason Grace, and I have no idea how the hell we managed to be messaging each other for a month without realising that we pretty much know everyone in each other’s friendship groups.”  

Jason stares at him. “Are you drunk?”

Nico hiccups. “A little,” he admits. “Not drunk. Just… tipsy. Why are you even here?”

“Because I was looking for you,” Jason says, rubbing the back of his neck. “You just ran off without saying anything back there— how come? I mean, I get you’d be surprised, but this is really cool. I mean, being able to see you and everything.”

“No, it’s really not,” Nico says. “‘Cause now it’s going to be really awkward, and I told you about loads of things I haven’t even told Hazel, like the fact that I’m gay and used to— sort of still— have mostly gotten over having a crush on my roommate and, wow, you probably even worked out that that’s Percy too now and—“ Nico stops the stream of words pouring from his mouth abruptly. “Holy shit, did I actually say that? I can’t believe I actually said that. Shit.”

The widened blue eyes on Jason’s face tell Nico that, no, he hadn’t gotten so far as realising Percy was Nico’s roommate yet. It’s official: Nico is the single dumbest person on the planet and doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut.

Jason must notice Nico’s horror, because he reaches out a hand to hold onto his shoulder and starts to say, “Hey, Nico, it’s alri—“

Before Jason can even finish the word, the door crashes open and they both jump in surprise. Two girls practically collapse into the bathroom, hands tangled up in each other’s hair, locked fervently at the lips. It takes Nico a good few seconds to process recognising them.

Jason and Nico both yell out on instinct at the same time.

“Thalia!?”

“Reyna!”

The two girls jump apart like a bolt of lightening just shot through them. They’re both panting heavily, and their faces are flushing cherry red— Reyna goes even brighter when she realizes who said her name, and averts her eyes when Nico tries to catch them. Thalia doesn’t even look admonished; she just looks mildly upset at needing to stop kissing Reyna, although curiosity is beginning to rise on her face as well. Presumedly she’s wondering why Nico and Jason are in the bathroom together. Understandably.

Meanwhile, Jason is doing an impressive impression of a suffocating goldfish. “I— uh, Thalia— Reyna— hi— nice to see you two…?”

Nico resists his urge to tell Reyna that he totally told her so, and instead pushes himself clumsily off the floor and grabs Jason by the arm. “Bye, you two,” he says as he pulls himself and Jason through the doorway, past the two girls. You owe me, Nico mentally says to Reyna, but she looks too abashed to actually pick up on the thought.

Once they’re on the stairs, Nico lets go of Jason and carries on walking himself, but Jason follows straight behind him anyway. They manage to get outside, back onto the front porch, without any words said between them. When Nico hears Jason’s footsteps stop on the wooden panels, he pauses as well, just for a second.

“Y’know, if you got a ride with Thalia,” Nico says, glancing back at Jason’s still shell-shocked face, “you might want to find a different travel method. They might be busy for a while.”

“That was so weird,” Jason blurts out. He rubs his eyes with the back of his hands and blinks into the night several times. “I just saw my sister and my childhood friend making out with each other. My ex-girlfriend childhood friend.”

Nico shrugs and waves a hand aimlessly in the air. “It’s been coming for a while. Did you seriously not pick up on that?”

“Well, yeah, but knowing it’s going to happen and having them crash into the bathroom with their hands all over each other is a little—“ Jason shakes his head. “You know what, I’m just going to stop thinking about it. At least they’re happy.”

For the first time that night, Nico lets himself smile, just a little. “Yeah,” he says. “I think they’re pretty happy.”

Jason looks over at him, an unreadable expression on his face. It takes about 5 second of silence for Nico to crack.

“What?” he says, scowling. “What is it?”

Jason chuckles, shakes his head and stuffs his hands in his pockets. “Nothing,” he says. “You have a really nice smile, you know.”

There probably isn’t a single thing on Earth he could have said that could make Nico’s face heat up more than it is now. He stumbles forward and jabs a finger at Jason’s chest. “No.”

“No?”

“No!” Nico crosses his arms over his chest. “You’re not allowed to just say things like that.”

“Why not?” Jason asks, bemused.

“Because— because you’re not!” Nico manages, tongue getting caught in the tripwire of the English language. “It’s not fair. This isn’t fair.”

“Nico,” Jason starts with trepidation, but Nico just barrels right over him.

“You weren’t meant to actually be here!” he says, arms raised back in the air. The words come bleeding out now, his lightweight, inebriated heart like an open wound. “You were meant to be, I don’t know— just somewhere far away. So that I wouldn’t ever actually meet you. But then you messed that up by being Thalia’s brother, and knowing Reyna and Piper and Leo, and it’s not fair! When you weren’t really real, it was easy to pretend, but now you’re here and all—“ Nico flails his hands in the general vicinity of Jason, “— this! And now I can’t ignore it! But I still— nothing’s going to happen, even when you say stuff like that…  It’s not fair.”

His words plough a ditch between the two of them, and silence swings in between the space. Jason stares at him, digesting the monologue, and the slow realisation of what Nico just said begins to dawn on both of them.

“I’m going to just go,” Nico mumbles, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets and turning to go down the steps of the porch. He’s practically running across the path when Jason starts behind him.

“Nico, would you wait for half a second?” he says, reaching out to grab a hold of Nico’s arm and then thinking better of it. He manages with ease to match Nico’s fast pace walking down the street. “Easier to pretend what? Actually, nevermind— we can talk about that later. You can’t just walk home on your own.”

“Watch me.”

Jason groans. “It’s going to start raining any minute now,” he says. “And you were drinking. Can I at least drop you off by your dorms? My car’s parked just over there.”

“I’m fine,” Nico says. Of course, then, almost like it was timed, the first raindrop comes and splatters right across his nose. Then the second. And the third. Soon enough, they’re both standing in the middle of the pouring rain, and Nico can hear the exaggerated yelling and screaming coming from the partygoers who were milling about on the lawn when the rain started.

Jason gives him a look that totally says, I told you so. “You can’t just walk home drunk in the pouring rain, Nico.”

“I could,” Nico retorts, but really, he’s getting kind of cold and his brain is starting to feel like it’s shrinking inside his skull. He shuffles a bit on the spot, shivering into himself, before giving in. “Where did you say your car was?"

 

 

[x]

The car ride back to Nico’s dorm seems to stretch into eternity. Jason gives him a spare bottle of water to help with his incoming headache that Nico begrudgingly thanks him for, along with the ride, but once that’s been drunk, he’s left with nothing else to pretend to be occupied with to avoid Jason’s questions. He resorts to drawing stick figures in the fog on the window just to avoid looking in the other’s direction.

“So,” Jason drawls after a long ten minutes of being stuck in traffic without saying anything to each other, “I caught up on Teen Wolf yesterday.”

Nico stops squiggling curly hair on his current stickman to look over at Jason. “Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“All the way up to the most recent episode?”

“Yeah.”

“… What did you think of it?”

Jason drums his fingers on the steering wheel. “It’s gotten a lot darker this season,” he says. “I think I liked it better when it was just Stiles making jokes and half-naked werewolves running around.”

In spite of himself, Nico snorts. “There has been a big lack of shirtless scenes lately.”

Jason laughs and, for a second, Nico forgets all about the awkwardness of the situation, and his more than questionable feelings for Jason. Then the car behind them honks and the scene shatters and falls in pieces at Nico’s feet.

The quiet settles for a few minutes before Jason breaks it again. “What were you talking about back there?” he asks. “About… pretending something, but now you couldn’t because I’m here?”

Nico makes a mental reminder to never drink a drop of alcohol again. “It doesn’t matter.”

Jason sucks in a breath. He opens his mouth to retort, then closes it again promptly. Then he says, slowly: “Did you ever pick up on what I was trying to say with the coffee?”

That sends Nico for a loop. “Which one?” he asks. “The first one?”

He shakes his head. “No— well, not really. The one yesterday. For Valentine’s.”

“I kind of assumed it was you taking pity on the fact that Percy was going to be having very loud sex in my dorm room for a large portion of the day.”

Jason rolls his eyes, still looking ahead at the road. “Well, there’s that, but that wasn’t the only reason,” he says.

Nico sighs. The car is just about to pull into the parking area, though, so at least he can escape soon. “I have a headache, Jason. I have no idea why you bought me coffee, and I don’t have enough brain power available to think about it. I’ll bite: why did you pay for coffee for a guy you’d never met?”

Jason laughs tiredly as he puts his shoulder on the back of his chair to turn around and park in reverse. “The heart in the foam wasn’t just some Valentine’s Day special,” he says. “I asked Drew to draw it in.”

“I don’t get what you’re trying to…“

“The reason I asked Drew to draw it in was because I really liked the guy who was going to be drinking the coffee, and I thought it might be a way to get that across,” Jason says, picking out his words slowly, like he’s been chewing them over in his mind for a while now. He reaches to the keys and turns the car off, and it rumbles down to silence while Nico, wide-eyed, struggles to process what Jason is saying.

“You—“

“I know it’s stupid to fall for someone over text messages about mythology and Teen Wolf, but somehow it happened. And… I understand if this just made things really awkward, but I needed to tell you.” Jason bites the inside of his cheek and looks away from Nico, to the windshield being pelted with raindrops. “Sorry.”

Meanwhile, inside Nico’s head, it resembles a bombsight. His thoughts scatter around like flying shrapnel, and through all of it the most cohesive words he can put together are holy shit. Because this clearly can’t be happening; it’s a delusion coming about because of tiredness and a touch of beer, because Jason Grace is actually sitting here beside him, awkwardly staring out the window as he waits for Nico to say something, after just confessing that.

“You’re kidding,” are the first words that manage to fall out of Nico’s mouth.  

Jason shakes his head. “No, I’m not. I wasn’t trying to be really subtle about it; I thought about actually asking you out to coffee with me yesterday, but… I chickened out. So I just paid for it again. But apparently the message didn’t really get conveyed.”

Nico just stares at him. “You like me,” he repeats, both for his sake and possibly to snap Jason out of whatever hallucinogenic fog he must be in. “You like me. Like that. Seriously.”

“Seriously,” Jason says. He shrugs. “But I completely understand. I mean, if you still like Percy, and this is just really weird for you, we can still be friends— or, er, if this has even made that awkward, I gue— mmph!”

Jason is promptly cut off when Nico gets sick of hearing him talk absolute rubbish and impulsively wraps his arms around his neck, pulls him in close and kisses him. His seatbelt is digging into his hips and the back of his head is still pulsing with faint pain, but then Jason starts to kiss him back, and suddenly it’s better than flying, better than anything. His whole body thrums with nerves and a strange sort of excitement that sends laughter bubbling up from his throat, and he’s kissing Jason Grace, and for once, someone likes Nico back and everything’s actually good.

“Just for the record,” Nico manages to say when they break for air, both pink-faced and breathing heavily, “in case you didn’t get the message, I’m saying that I like you too.”

Jason’s laughter, Nico decides later on that night, is one of his favourite sounds.

 

[x]

[Sunday 15th Feb 2014] [12:21] Are rumours I’ve heard from Percy about Jason leaving his jacket in your room true?   

[12:27] They are, but not because of what you think.    

[12:28] He drove me home last night and we watched TV together for a while. And no, that’s not an innuendo.    

[12:30] How are you even awake this early? I had assumed you would be sleeping off a hangover for a while after the whole you and Thalia making out in the Piper’s bathroom thing.    

[12:30] Congratulations, by the way.    

[12:31] How about we make a deal that if we never mention that again, I also won’t mention the fact that you and Jason were the ones originally in the bathroom together?    

[12:33] Deal.    

[12:34] In all seriousness, I’m happy for you. Where’s Thalia?    

[12:36] She’s still sleeping. Neither of us were actually that drunk, she just normally sleeps in late.    

[12:36] Where’s Jason?    

[12:38] What happened to not mentioning it?    

[12:39] I only said I wouldn’t mention that you and Jason were in the bathroom together.        

[12:40] I said nothing else about you two afterwards. That isn’t even an unreasonable question.        

[12:40] He went back home last night after we talked a bit.    

[12:40] It’s a long story.    

[12:41] I’ll explain the whole thing to you later, but… just give me a little while.    

[12:43] I understand.    

[12:43] It’s a good thing, though?    

[12:44] Yeah.    

[12:44] It’s good.

[x]