So it's been quite a few years since I last wrote something, and I therefore decided to delete all but one of my stories. I'm sincerely apologetic if you favored any of these pieces, but I was horrified by my pitiful excuse for writing at that age, and I didn't have any muse to continue them. I also found I was no longer a part of the fandom of the stories I had created, and so I decided it was best to just start anew.

To christen my new flood of stories, I decided to write in the fandom I'm currently absorbed in, and have been for many years. Percy Jackson and the Olympians! I own House of Hades in the Heroes of Olympus series, and this one-shot is an alternate ending to that book, so please be aware that there are HoH spoilers! Takara Phoenix is my favorite PJO author, as well as my favorite Nico/Percy author, and I highly recommend reading her works! She's one of the very rare few that enjoys dominant Nico like I do. Also, we both share a common headcanon for how Nico appears, so I swoon over her writing quite frequently. Anyways, on to the story!

Drown the Dead in Love

If there was one thing Nico appreciated about being on the Argo II, it was the smell. Now it may sound a little odd, but standing on the deck at midnight when the darkness caressed the horizons of the world around him, all he could smell was the salt water, the soft breezes tickling his cheeks playfully. It reminded him of the green-eyed beauty asleep, exhausted, below deck. His heart skipped a few beats as it always did, thinking of the Sea Prince. The memory of the Doors of Death was still vivid in his mind, making him shudder, this time unpleasantly. Percy had looked so frail and close to death, laying on the cold ground, those beautiful eyes shuttered to the world and thin chest shuddering under the weight of the task of merely breathing.

Nico knew, better than anyone, just how much of a toll Tartarus took on a mortal's body. Seeing the horrors of the world he'd lived through in Percy's eyes broke his heart, knowing he hadn't been able to protect him this time. All along he'd been in the shadows, guarding Percy's every move, wishing he could reveal himself. But Nico knew Percy was untouchable, unattainable. Even if his feelings were returned, Percy was too good for the son of darkness and death. Tartarus could never take that innocence from his Sea Prince.

Sighing, ebony eyes lifted to the stone face of the Athena Parthenos. It stared down at him, judging him, a silent reminder of the young woman who held his love's heart in her hands. One hand rose to run through his shaggy hair, glad he'd asked Piper to trim it after how long it had gotten. His encounter with Cupid was still far too fresh in his mind. With Percy back on ship, Jason had been at his side like an annoying growth. Nico knew the other boy was only concerned, but it put the son of Hades on edge regardless. He didn't want pity or worry. He knew he had been lying, telling Jason it was only a mere crush, that he was over the pale beauty of the oceans. Nico was so in love with the son of Poseidon, he doubted he would ever be able to say differently. Another sigh left his lips, and he turned away from the statue, walking in silence to the front of the ship. Festus creaked at him, acknowledging his presence, but Nico did not understand the language that Leo spoke so fluently. Nodding back a little awkwardly, he closed his dark eyes and enjoyed the feel of the sea water misting his face.

Percy was like a poison in his veins, his thoughts. Growing stronger the more his heart circulated it throughout his body. Nico wanted only to watch over him, his worry for him a thousand times stronger after seeing him broken and bleeding, prone on the ground as his friends battled for him. Tartarus had sapped what little glow of light Percy had within his skin, lean muscles meant for swimming fading into the frail frame he'd always hidden away shamefully. Nico hadn't realized just how little and delicate he was, until then. Since the moment Jason and Percy had been kidnapped, Nico had been growing steadily, as if it were some sort of reward for returning from the depths of the Underworld. Grabbing onto Percy as he shadow-traveled with Hazel, Nico had been shocked by how...small he was. Nico could easily tower over him now, something foreign to him, since Percy had always seemed the more outgoing and space-consuming one. His personality made up for whatever his frame lacked.

Nico cursed aloud, the Greek flowing from his tongue easily as his eyes opened once more. Why must that boy plague him? It was simply unfair. He could almost imagine Cupid laughing wickedly, pleased with this form of torture. Did the god not understand, when he had told Nico that admitting his feelings would make it easier? Nico was never meant to call the Sea Prince his. He was only a dark guardian, watching from the shadows, protecting his beloved without a word. It was all he could do.

The sound of a door opening behind him caught his attention, and he turned, hand already on the hilt of his sword. He knew it was no foe, if they came from within the Argo II, but old habits died hard. And, of course, the Gods had to be laughing their asses off on their golden thrones on Olympus, for it was a disheveled head of raven that appeared from the doorway. Darkness haunted Mediterranean blue eyes, and Nico already knew why the frail boy was walking about at an hour such as this.

"Can't sleep?" he murmured, voice carrying across the planks to the other boy. Percy jumped with a strangled squeak, and Nico couldn't help the smirk that curved his lips at the sound. Percy clutched a hand to his chest and tried to steady his breathing, moving closer with soft taps of bare feet.

"No...every time I try, all I can see is...well…" he struggled to get the words out, and Nico nodded, cutting off his attempts at explaining. He knew what Percy meant. Tartarus was vengeful, it would not let them go easily, and even Nico still suffered from nightmares after going through that hellish place.

"I shall leave you to your thoughts, then," he said softly, ever the gentleman of the era he'd been raised in. Turning, he moved quietly past Percy, careful to keep his distance. Temptation was a powerful thing, and with the crew of the Argo II so determined to break him from his shell, Nico feared what his new levels of confidence would do to him in the presence of the beautiful boy.

He was shocked when a little hand clasped around his wrist gently, insistently, and he turned to stare stupidly at the pale fingers wrapped around his caramel skin. Eyes moved slowly back up to hesitantly meet Percy's, surprised to see the desperation evident in those captivating irises.

"Please...stay."

Nico refrained from kissing the boy right then and there, like some sort of Titanic parody. The weak pleading in his eyes was irresistible, not to mention the fact that he wanted Nico to stay there with him. Stepping back towards the railing obediently, he couldn't help but inwardly pout when Percy let go of his sleeve. It was warm, off the coast of Athens, so Nico had shed his jacket for a simple black button-up, half-unbuttoned in the heat he wasn't really used to as a cold child of the Underworld.

Silence reigned for quite a while, the two of them leaning on the railing, forearms pressed to the smooth wood as they gazed out over the moonlit waters. It was Percy who spoke first.

"I broke up with Annabeth."

Nico turned his head towards the blue-eyed beauty so fast he almost snapped his neck. Percy continued to stare out across the water, saying nothing further. "May I ask why?" Nico ventured, not daring to get his hopes up. After all, Percy was still straight as Artemis' arrow, which was further ironic because the Hunters swore off all men. Lithe shoulders shrugged, looking pathetically small in one of the shirts he'd still had from before his fall into Tartarus. He'd grown so small down there, his old shirts were already too big on him. It made Nico want to take him into his arms and never let him go.

"A few reasons. We both felt that it was just peer pressure that drove us to date, that we were more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend. That and she...uh...made a good point to me." Nico had to refrain from smirking or licking his lips when a warm blush spread across those pale cheeks, mentally chiding himself. Gods, he spent a few weeks with the Prophetic Seven and suddenly he had all the confidence in the world? He blamed Leo and Hazel the most.

Curiosity, however, would not be sated when such a tempting blush was coloring his beloved's cheeks. "A good point?" he prompted, turning to lean his right side against the railing, arms crossed over his defined chest. Sparring with Jason and his skeleton warriors every day, preparing for the battle that would and had ensued at the Doors of Death, had certainly improved his physique. Percy's eyes turned to him, only for him to gleefully watch as his blush darkened, and his gaze snapped right back to look at his hands which fiddled nervously with the folds in his shirt.

"I'm...well, that is...I've always been a bit too interested in boys...and of course Annie knew that long before I did. I just didn't want to hurt her feelings. Should've known she'd seen right through me ages ago." It was a softly murmured confession, and Nico's heart skipped at least ten beats and then began to race joyously. Hope was a dangerous thing, he mused breathlessly in his head. Percy took his stunned silence wrong, and his brow creased in adorable worry, turning to look at Nico in a panic.

"Oh Gods I'm sorry, Nico, I forgot that…that it wasn't really normal, when you grew up. I understand if it disgusts you," he whispered the last part, clearly lying. It would crush him if Nico didn't understand. Percy had been doing anything and everything in his power to make Nico forgive him, even after he already had. The boy had practically been crawling on his knees for the son of Hades since the moment Bianca had died, not only trying to garner forgiveness, but also to make Nico his friend. He starved for Nico's attention, subconsciously, and it both was a beacon of hope and a possibility of heartbreak and misunderstanding for the other demi-god.

"Hey, stop that." Percy instantly quieted at Nico's words, a bit harsher than intended, but Nico still wasn't used to treating Percy in any way other than hatefully or tersely. "I don't mind, Percy. I mean, I am too." Figured that he still wasn't able to say the words out loud, his internalized homophobia was far too strong for that still. Percy's widened eyes were worth the uncomfortable confession, though, and Nico quirked an eyebrow at his expression.

"What, surprised that the son of Hades likes boys? Sorry to burst your bubble, princess," he grunted, appearing angry when inside he was rather wounded. Percy shook his head so frantically it was amusing, moonlight dancing in the little droplets of water that sprayed upon them as the ship moved through the water. He was enchanting, and Nico couldn't look away. He was just grateful it was so dark, and that his eyes were nearly black, so that Percy couldn't tell.

"No! No, that's not what I…!" Percy sighed in frustration as the words didn't come to him, and whirled around to face Nico. Only, the deck was slick from the salty spray, and he slid, losing his balance and falling. Nico acted before he could think, and even if he knew Percy falling was pretty harmless, his heart seized in his chest and he reached out for the smaller halfblood quickly.

Percy's eyes shut tight, bracing for the impact, only for his body to jolt in a far different way as strong arms wrapped around his middle and jerked him back up. He was pressed close to a warm, solid chest, his own arms trapped between his body and Nico's. Sea green eyes blinked owlishly,still a bit off balance, and stood on the tips of his toes to prevent himself from being held aloft in their height difference. His face burned, seeing that tantalizing olive skin revealed through the unbuttoned top of Nico's shirt. It wasn't often the Ghost King wore something that fit his old-fashioned tastes, but Percy deliriously thanked the Gods for them meeting on a night when he did.

"You idiot," Nico hissed, even if his hold never faltered, as if still caught in the panic of having to catch Percy. Percy just remained silent, gaping quietly at the taller demi-god. All that he could think to say was, "That was sexy."

Then again, Percy had always had a problem with blurting out whatever came to his head.

Nico looked down at him, eyes blown wider than the full moon overhead, mouth parted in shock. Percy stared in horror back up at him, moving one of his hands to clasp over his mouth, wishing he could shove his words back into his mouth. Damn it, that wasn't what he meant to do! Annabeth had been the one to point out his infatuation with the sexy Italian, when they had broken up, but he'd covered it up to Nico by telling him only about his sexuality. But then Nico had to catch him like some sort of Prince swooping up a swooning Princess, and press him against that muscled chest that smelled like Nico. Percy had never been good with words, but hot damn did that boy smell good.

Percy shoved away from Nico, whose arms had gone slack, and turned to run. His face was burning, focusing only on getting away from the object of his affections, and possibly crying in a panic on Annabeth's shoulder. How stupid could he be?! That's what he got for blurting it out like that! Of course Nico would be shocked, wasn't he crushing on Jason?! Percy's stomach tightened with jealousy, recalling how Jason hung all over Nico, how the two had gone to face Cupid together. Why would he say that? All he wanted was Nico's happiness, and he had to go and ruin it by practically professing his love when Nico had feelings for someone else.

Nico stared in shock after the Sea Prince, brain still trying to compute what had just happened. A smirk crawled across his lips as he finally understood. Percy had called him sexy. Pleasure tingled down his spine at the realization, because even if it wasn't a confession, it still meant Percy thought he was hot, and Nico could work with that. But of course, he'd have to catch his little minx first.

Melting into the shadows he appeared in front of the doorway right as Percy was running towards it, incapable of traveling like Nico did. The boy gasped and tried to skid to a stop, only to crash into Nico's chest regardless. He stumbled backwards, but Nico matched him step for step, wrapping his arms possessively around that slim waist. Percy gaped up at him, and Nico's smirk only grew more devilish at the sight of those pearly pink lips parted in surprise because of his aggressive behavior.

"Sexy, hm?"

Percy's blush increased tenfold and he buried his face in Nico's shirt, whining pitifully as he hid from those dark, all-consuming black eyes that burned him from the inside with lust and desire. He weakly slapped his palms against Nico's solid chest, wishing he could melt into the floor to avoid this confrontation.

"Shut up," he whined. "It's not my fault you hit a growth spurt, and got all tan, and muscled, and got that bad boy attitude instead of sulking around! It's irresistible!" It was so unfair! Why did the Gods have to make Nico hate him for so long, only to bless him with the body of Adonis and the sexiest personality to go hand-in-hand with it? Percy was going to die from the sheer sex that seemed to drip off the other demi-god at all times.

Nico's chuckle was like dark chocolate, his chest shaking with the sound, and Percy licked his lips helplessly. Gods, that was so fucking sexy. "Irresistible, huh?" he teased the poor boy, moving one hand to cup that pale face and tilt it up to look at him. Percy nearly fainted in the face of that devilish smirk, those dark Tartarus eyes and just-shagged hair. Instead he whined softly and wondered how many shades of red he could manage to turn before he died.

"If you're just going to tease me, you can forget it! I'll kick your ass, di Angelo!" he hissed, though it was a weak front at best. Nico's eyebrows moved upwards, incredulous and more than amused by his outburst. "Is that so?" He leaned down, lips pressed to the outer shell of the boy's ear. "I'd like to see you try, Percy." The son of Poseidon shuddered in his hold, which felt delicious when he was pressed up to Nico's body so sinuously. Percy on the other hand was mentally swooning with how his first name sounded rolling off Nico's tongue. The challenge, however, was not something he could ignore.

Shoving away, the Sea Prince huffed inwardly when it only served to make Nico stumble a few steps, eyes glinting predatorily in the half-light of the moon. In seconds his fingers were clasped around Riptide, clicking it precisely and releasing the faint golden glow as it extended into the wicked blade it was. Simultaneously, Nico drew his Stygian blade, which seemed to compete with the glow of Riptide, determined to suck away the light. The metals clashed with a soft ring, pleasant jolts going down their arms as they slowly moved back to the center of the deck and away from the doorway.

Nico had gotten good with his sword, but Percy had always been a natural, and as much as he hated him he had a lot of his skill to thank Luke for. Nico knew he couldn't hold his own against the son of the sea, not with blades, but that didn't stop him from wearing him down with his own. It didn't take long for Percy to disarm him, he was too good for Nico to compete with, and the clang of his blade against the ground sent a shiver of delight up the taller halfblood's spine. It was sexy, how powerful his Sea Prince was, but Nico was never one to play fair.

Lunging forward, he took Percy by surprise, one hand reaching for Percy's sword arm, wrapping firmly around his wrist. Percy dropped his sword with a squeak of surprise at the sudden invasion of his privacy, only to be whirled around and pressed to the mast, pinned between the wood and Nico's body. Nico smirked and looked down at him.

"I win."

Percy glared back, but did nothing to try and escape his grasp. Instead he growled and pouted, pressing his cheek to Nico's chest and closing his eyes. What had been an act of embarrassment, however, soon changed into something different. He hadn't slept well since escaping Tartarus, but encased in Nico's arms, surrounded by his intoxicating scent, he felt safe and comfortable. It was enough for him to start dozing off. Nico stared down at the beautiful boy, not even daring to blink for fear it would all turn out to just be some cruel dream. Gently releasing his hold on the boy, he backed up a step, smiling softly at the whine of discontent that followed him from the soft lips of his crush. Bending down, he swept the Sea Prince into his arms, lifting the slight demi-god easily. Percy jolted out of his half-slumber and blushed as his Ghost King carried him bridal style.

Of course Nico wasn't going to wake up everyone else by walking through the corridors at night, so he held tight to Percy and shadow-traveled to his room. Percy gave a quiet moan, and he glanced down in surprise. The effects of shadow-travelling no longer influenced him, after so many years of doing it, but Percy had never done it with anyone aside from his faithful hound. Lithe hands were clutched to Nico's shirt, Percy hiding his face in Nico's neck as he shuddered. Nico bit his lip to hold back a groan, wishing his prince wasn't so damn tempting.

It only took a few seconds, and the two were back in Percy's room, the candles lighting as the son of Hades appeared, casting a warm golden glow throughout. Nico carefully placed the boy onto his bed, only for Percy to cling to his shirt insistently. Puppy eyes stared up at him, and Nico swallowed harshly.

"Stay," Percy pleaded. Nico knew it was too tempting, seeing the other boy sprawled out like a ravished angel on his bed, begging him to stay with him. He groaned softly aloud, watching Percy's face flush at the sound. Oh Gods, that made it ten times worse.

"I can't, Perce. If I do...well, let's just say you won't like how it ends." His face was contorted, hating to give him such an obvious hint, but then again Percy had called him sexy hadn't he? Surely that meant something?

Percy took a deep breath and then reached up to grab Nico by the collar, pulling the other halfblood down and pressing their lips together. Nico froze, his hands shooting out to hold himself up, framing the beauty's face as they kissed. Percy's hesitation was apparent, and Nico could literally feel the moment when the ocean child second-guessed himself because of Nico's frozen state. Before he could pull away, Nico pressed forward insistently, groaning softly against Percy's lips. Gods, they were so soft, so perfect against his. He could kiss them forever and never grow tired of them, he already knew that.

Percy gasped softly at the sudden reciprocation, whimpering needily against Nico's lips as his hands moved to drape submissively around Nico's shoulders. Nico pressed his knee to the bed and climbed smoothly over his Sea Prince, nipping lightly at Percy's full bottom lip. Percy gasped and open his lips obediently to Nico's prodding tongue, moaning and squirming below the larger halfblood as Nico practically devoured him. Percy pushed his tongue out to meet Nico's, attempting to regain control over the kiss, but Nico growled softly and bit gently on Percy's tongue, sucking softly. Percy shuddered and faltered, and Nico was right back to flicking his tongue devilishly across Percy's.

Moaning, Percy grasped Nico's neck, scratching him lightly with his nails. Nico groaned in response, pants already feeling tight from the delicious sounds escaping the tempting siren beneath him. Pulling away with a chaste kiss, he caught his breath, though Percy was far worse. Face blushing a bright red, panting weakly and completely breathless, he looked completely debauched, and only after a mild makeout session. Nico licked his lips at the sight, unable to help himself as one of the hands holding himself up dropped to his elbow, hand tangling in Percy's silken locks and tugging his head to the side. Percy gasped and moaned at the sudden aggressive behavior, blushing deeper at the fact that he liked it, and bared his neck to the male above him.

Nico smirked and descended, biting down into that delicious ivory skin, marking it so that everyone could see that Percy was untouchable. Beneath him, Percy writhed and squirmed, gasping out in pleasure despite the embarrassed blush across his cheeks. He'd always been crushing on the son of Hades, but that didn't mean he was used to anything other than passionless kisses and awkward hand holding with Annabeth. The feeling of soft, cool lips against his staccato pulse, sucking and kissing, combined with teasing scrapes of teeth, was undoing what little control he had on the situation. Nico moved down the column of his throat with a purpose, marking from below his jaw all the way to the jut of Percy's delectable collarbones.

"N-Nico," the green-eyed boy moaned softly, and Nico groaned against the mark he'd made at the sound of his name from the boy he loved in the throes of lust. He pulled away, raven hair falling into his eyes seductively as he looked down at the son of Poseidon. Hand still clasped in the other boy's hair, he admired the colorful array of purple and red that splashed down Percy's throat like a sadistic collar, the trembling, heaving chest, the half-lidded eyes and kiss-darkened lips. Percy Jackson was going to be the end of him.

"You're fucking gorgeous," he breathed fiercely, admiring the new flush that overtook those soft cheeks at the statement before ducking down to claim those soft lips once more. Percy whimpered happily beneath his touch, hands smoothing down Nico's back, enjoying the easy flex and release of the muscles there. Scratching lightly, he yelped when Nico shuddered and tore away from him to pin his wrists beside his head. All he could do was stare up at him, a disheveled mess, and try not to faint with how sexy it was that Nico didn't have restraints when it came to manhandling Percy.

They stared at each other in silence, both of them panting softly, before Percy broke the quiet with a soft whimper of a sentence. "I love you, Nico." Depthless black eyes softened, and a small smile curved his lips attractively, releasing one of Percy's wrists to cup his face ever so gently, as if he were afraid Percy would shatter beneath his touch. Percy smiled and closed his eyes, pressing into the touch happily, turning to nuzzle his nose against that calloused palm.

"Gods, I never thought I'd hear you say that, Perce." Percy blinked his eyes back up at the other demi-god, giving a shy version of his usually mischievous smirk. "So why don't you say it back Ghost King?" he teased, cheekily darting out his tongue to lick Nico's palm teasingly. Nico growled softly, readjusting his lower half, wishing he could just rip off all their clothes and not bother with the discomfort. Now that was a thought.

"I love you too, il mio tesoro," he whispered, smirking at how Percy's eyelashes fluttered at the sound of his native tongue slipping from his lips. That was something to be explored later. Thoroughly.

Percy biting gently into the edge of his palm brought him back from his perverted thoughts, and Nico smirked at the impish gleam in sea-green eyes, the pearl whites of his teeth a stark contrast to the caramel of Nico's hand. "I'm the one who does the biting here, Perce," Nico growled, leveling a smoldering stare at the other halfblood. Percy's reaction was priceless. He shuddered beneath Nico, obediently releasing the hold he had on the Italian's palm, and his eyes quickly moved away from the Ghost King's, blush resurfacing from where it had disappeared in their easy exchange.

Nico chuckled and flopped sideways to lay on his back beside Percy, kicking off his shoes before pulling the bewildered Sea Prince onto his chest. Percy squeaked softly, but after a few seconds of remaining stiff and unresponsive, he took a deep breath of Nico's spicy scent and relaxed against his firm chest. Snuggling closer, Percy tucked his head into the crook of Nico's shoulder, breathing softly. Nico needed only to reach out and command the candles to extinguish, until all but the one on the nightstand were dead. He looped his arms around Percy's waist and enjoyed the feeling of the warm body pressed trustingly into his own, reclining against the mound of pillows Percy insisted on having.

Soft breaths puffed against the skin of his neck, and he smiled as he closed his eyes. He'd finally gotten all he'd ever wanted. Peeking one eye open he watched as Percy struggled to stay awake. As he'd told Nico, the nightmares had been keeping him awake, but it made something dormant growl in pleasure within Nico's chest to see that Percy trusted him so much that he was succumbing to sleep so quickly. He turned to press a kiss to Percy's forehead, smiling softly.

"Sleep, Perce. I'll be right here." Some minor amount of tension slipped out of his Sea Prince at those words, Nico's heart swelling impossibly larger at the motion. It took only minutes for the slim beauty to fall into dreams in his arms, petite hands loosely clutching his shirt like a lost kitten. Nico looked up into the flickering shadows on the ceiling and his smile faded into seriousness.

"Whatever I did to deserve him...thank you." With that quiet display of gratitude, he snuffed out the last candle, and fell asleep with his beloved clutched protectively to his chest.