Disclaimer: I do NOT own Percy Jackson. If I did the series would be WAY different.

Main Pairing: Nico/Percy (Nicercy)

Warnings: Slash and Swearing

AN: This oneshot was inspired by a short film called Cupidon, made by some students. Seriously great work. Also, I wrote this for Takara Phoenix's contest.

Hope you enjoy!

Target Practice

Nico di Angelo was currently eating a ham sandwich and watching the bustling New York crowds below him from his perch on a rooftop. His bow and arrows sat next to him, as far away as Nico could put them. He could throw them over the edge of the building, but they'd just reappear on his back. Fucking annoying.

Nico leaned back and let the sunlight warm his face, enjoying a rare moment of peace. His dark brown eyes slipped closed without his permission. Ever since he'd be cursed as the new Cupid he'd hardly had any time to relax, let alone sleep. His last nap had been almost two weeks ago, and even then it'd just been a few hours. Immortality was the only reason Nico was still breathing.

Ding!

Nico groaned and fumbled for his smartphone in his skinny jeans pocket. He peeled his eyes open reluctantly and swiped his thumb over the screen to see a new email alert. Great. A new couple. Moment of peace now over.

Yawning, Nico sat up and read the new assignment displayed on the screen. Annabeth Chase, a pretty blonde girl with calculating gray eyes. She was seventeen, according to her chart and liked reading, architecture, and sparing. Then there was Percy Jackson, a sixteen year old male who enjoyed blue food, long walks on the beach, and fencing. He had messy black hair and bright green that reminded Nico of the ocean.

At a 96% success rate, they were the perfect couple.

Nico snorted to himself before standing and pocketing his phone again. Love didn't exist. Not really. And it might seem like a bitter attitude, especially for a Cupid, but Nico should know better than anyone. He was the one who matched people, who made them feel the way they did. Before him it was the original Cupid, a true ass who liked to cause people pain. Or at least, liked to cause Nico pain.

Nico slipped the arrows over his shoulder and grabbed the bow, searching for the two people he'd have to shoot. He could feel that they were near him, but it was hard to see because of the amount of people below him. They all looked the same: dark clothes and hurried walks to get nowhere important.

There!Nico spotted the male target standing near a crosswalk with a bunch of his fellow New Yorkers. He kept tapping his foot and glancing at his watch- must be late for something.

Nico plucked a single arrow and lined it up to Percy. As long as the matching arrow would hit the girl then they'd see each other and fall in love and blah, blah, blah. He aimed and let the arrow fly.

The arrow hit its mark on the boy's back. He jerked and clapped a hand where the arrow had pierced him, but Nico knew he wouldn't feel or see it. He stood there, even when the light turned green and the other people walked on. Part One complete.

The girl was heading in the other direction, Nico noticed. She was easier to find because of her gleaming blonde hair, even if most of it was hidden under a blue baseball cap. Nico reached behind him for the other arrow and-

"Ouch!" Nico pulled his hand back to inspect his fingers and saw something that made his heart stop. Blood. He'd nicked his finger on one of the arrows. He fell to his knees and spilled the contents of his quiver, frantically searching for the arrow that had cut him.

Het let out a cry of triumph when he found it. It had his blood on the tip and was blue just like- Nico groaned- the one one he'd shot Percy with.

He had to get the other arrow before it dissolved otherwise it would be permanent. Nico clambered to the edge of the building praying to whatever god he could think of that Percy would still be where Nico had left him.

He was. Percy was standing near the curb, looking so much like a lost puppy that Nico wasn't sure whether to laugh or feel guilty. But wait. The arrow. It was-

"No, no, no!" Nico launched himself off the building toward Percy, distantly thankful for the power of flight even if he didn't use it much. He crashed right into the boy with an audible "umph!" and they both went tumbling onto the sidewalk.

"Who, wha-" Percy gasped, green eyes wide. Nico ignored him for now and ran his hands over Percy's back for the arrow that had to be there, dammit.

Nico's hands hit nothing but air. Desperate, he turned to his quiver that had materialized on his back sifted through it for the matching blue arrow.

It wasn't there.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Nico snarled. Really? He'd been doing this same shit for around ninety years now and he makes such a rookie mistake! He had no idea what would happen to him or Percy, now that the arrow magic was in their bodies and not in Annabeth's as it should have been.

"Who are you? And why are you sitting on me?"

Nico froze. Almost afraid, Nico glanced down at the boy he was currently stradling. "You...you can see me?" Not possible. He hadn't be seen by a human in around ninety years. It was part of the Cupid curse. But then again, he did just shot himself when an arrow was meant for someone else. He had no idea what could happen now.

"Well, of course I can." Percy beamed, green eyes bright with the effects of magic.

Oh, no.Nico winced when he noticed the misty gaze Percy gifted him with. Thathe knew all too well. It was the look the marks gave each other after they'd been shot. Obviously, the arrow was doing its thing on Percy, but oddly enough Nico didn't feel anything. His cut had even healed. Maybe it was a Cupid thing.

"You didn't answer me. What's your name?" Percy reached upwards and dragged his thumb over Nico's cheek.

As if burned, Nico flinched and leapt off Percy, head downcast to hide his eyes. "The name's Nico. I'm sorry if I hurt you."

"No, you didn't." Percy stood too and pushed Nico's dark curls away from his face, smiling softly. "My name's Percy. And I was wondering," His face flushed, "If you would like to, I don't know, get some coffee or something?" He bit his lip and looked up at Nico hopefully.

Hesitant, Nico nodded, thinking he should probably keep an eye on the boy just in case- well, anything really.

Ding!

Nico glanced down at the pocket where his phone was being held. Percy followed his gaze and rose an eyebrow. "You gonna get that?"

Nico slowly shook his head. "No. I don't think I will." He reached inside and turned off the device for the first time in nearly a century.

Fifty-seven new emails. That was the amount of people he'd have to match in order to make up for the time he'd spent with Percy. He set to work immediately after they went their separate ways, flying all over the world and shooting people with his arrows. There were no mistakes this time; Nico didn't want to know what would happen if he somehow managed to cut himself again.

When his inbox was finally empty again, Nico collapsed on the same rooftop from a few hours ago. Night had fallen, but the summer air kept the chill away. Not that Nico could feel it anyway, even though all he wore now was a pair of black skinny jeans and a T-shirt for some band he never heard of.

Ding!

Nico positively moaned when he heard that sound. His muscles ached from flying all day, his eyes hurt from lack of sleep, and he was tired of doing the same thing. Still, he took his cell from his pocket and checked the screen for his new assignment.

New Text: Percy J.

hey handsome. wht ya doin?

Nico blinked. That wasn't a new email. He stared at the device in his hand as though it might eat him, all exhaustion gone.

Then he started typing a reply so fast his fingers were almost a blur. hey percy. im just hanging out.

His lips quirked at his own inside joke as he glanced at his dangling feet.

New Text: Percy J.

me 2. watchin movie w leo.

Right. Nico remembered Percy telling him about his best friend, Leo, the younger boy with ADHD. Though, before Nico could respond there was already a new text.

New Text: Percy J.

well im watching. leos doodling on my leg.

Nico laughed in a loud burst and then clapped a hand over his mouth, as though someone would hear him. He went back to his phone. oh yea? wht is it?

New Text: Percy J.

it might b a unicorn.

New Text: Percy J.

or dolphin.

New Text: Percy J.

leo says its a dragon.

New Text: Percy J.

hes offended i didnt no

Nico hunched over his phone as he typed. use yur dyslexia as excuse.

New Text: Percy J.

he bout it.

New Text: Percy J.

its weird but i really want 2 c u. can we get 2gether l8er?

It was the arrow magic. Nico knew this. It was the only reason Percy could want him around. But he still couldn't help the flutter in his stomach that he was being looked for. Besides, it was best to keep Percy close.

For his own protection, of course.

Nico sent him a single word.

yes.

...

Two weeks passed since Nico's mistake. He and Percy talked every day, whether it was in person or just on the phone. The arrow's magic showed no signs of wearing off on Percy and Nico suspected it was even beginning to take effect on himself. Maybe the magic was slower on Nico because he was a Cupid.

Or something.

To Nico's surprise and delight, as more time passed people could see, hear, and touch him, as though he was mortal again. Before the Cupid curse. Percy always looked at him oddly, but Nico said hi to everyone he met just because they could say it back.

And though this was a new development, Nico still received assignments that he had to do at the end of the day. It wasn't as bad as it had been before, but Nico still thought it was tedious work. It started to sting a bit more too. Watching people fall in love, and then having to return to the rooftop he began to call home, knowing in the back of his mind that he could never have what they did.

"Hey, Nico!"

Nico turned and saw Percy running toward him, overly excited as usual. He practically jumped him, sending them both crashing to the ground like they had when they first met. Nico had to keep repeating 'Arrow magic, arrow magic' in his mind whenever they were together, because whenever he saw that bright grin aimed his way he kept forgetting.

"Hey, Percy." Nico wrapped his arms around Percy's waist while Percy perched on Nico's pelvis.

Percy beamed down at him. "I want you to meet my friends. There's a pool party tonight. Want to go?" The only thing missing from Percy's appearance was a wagging tail.

Nico gave him a lopsided grin. "Sure." Was it even possible to say no?

They headed to Dudley pool downtown where apparently Percy's friends were waiting. They'd rented the area for themselves for their annual summer party that Percy claimed they had every year. By the time they arrived, the pool was flooded with people and fast-paced music blared from overhead speakers.

"Hey, it's Percy!"

Percy grinned at his friends and waved. It seemed as though every single person there knew Percy in some way, which Nico found both amusing and adorable.

"Hey, guys!" Percy called to a group of teens lounging around the diving board. They all turned toward him, smiling and calling back. "This is Nico, my boyfriend."

Surprised, Nico glanced at Percy, but all he did was wink at him. Guess they'd taken a new step in their relationship.

"Hiya, Nico!" A dark-haired boy suddenly popped in front of him, light brown eyes sparkling in the sun. "I'm Leo, the most awesome mechanic you'll ever meet! Just ask some of my previous customers like James Bond!"

A brunette girl with multiple braids snorted and shoved Leo into the pool. "You're such a dork, Valdez. Take some time to cool off." Leo surfaced and stuck his tongue out at her, but she just rolled her eyes and turned back to Nico. "I'm Piper. This is Jason." She gestured toward a blond male, who shook Nico's hand.

"Percy's told us all about you. Won't shut up really," Jason snickered.

"Thanks, Jay." Percy glared at him, though Jason didn't seem to find it very intimidating.

Nico leaned into Percy's side and whispered, "I think it's cute."

Percy flushed before punching Nico on the arm. "Sh-shut up…"

Two hours later the party was still in full swing, though the sun had gone down. Nico was sitting at the edge of the pool with his feet in the water, while Percy had jumped in the first chance he got. They'd been talking almost the entire time.

"Hey, Nico?"

Nico glanced down at Percy, who seemed oddly shy. Percy Jackson was many things, but shy wasn't one of them. Curious, Nico raised an eyebrow in silent question.

"C-can I do something?" Percy bit his bottom lip and used the full force of his puppy dog eyes.

Nico swallowed. "Sure."

Percy stepped closer until his stomach was flush against the pool wall and he was between Nico's thighs. Nico was just about to ask what he was going to do, but then Percy dragged his hand over the back of Nico's neck and pulled him forward so their lips met.

Nico's eyes were wide, while Percy's were closed serenely. He honestly had no idea what to do. Kiss back? But he knew Percy was 'under the influence' so did this count as taking advantage of him?

Screw it.

Nico shut his eyes and tugged Percy's closer before deepening the kiss, figuring he should get the most out of it as he could. Percy gave a small gasp and kissed him harder, his wet torso pressed against Nico's abdomen.

It was Nico's first kiss since the curse.

He enjoyed every minute.

Two months passed. Summer was nearly over and the arrow's magic showed no signs of leaving Percy's heart. He still looked at Nico like he was the only thing in the universe and was as affectionate as ever.

They'd gone on many dates.

They'd kissed many times.

Nico met Percy's mother and stepfather.

Percy told Nico about being abused by his first stepfather, Gabe.

And Nico, though he didn't tell him everything, told Percy of his dead mother and older sister.

Despite these things, it was only when Percy said, "I love you," did Nico begin to have a moral crisis.

It had been right after they'd love the first time. Percy was pressed against Nico's chest, his breathing slowing and heartbeat erratic. He'd drawn nonsense symbols on the back of Nico's hand until sleep claimed him.

Nico laid awake for most of the night, too conflicted to even let his eyes close.

Percy loved him? Loved him, Nico di Angelo, who couldn't even remember the last time someone had spoken those words to him. He'd been alone for years. Not only that. Bitter. Angry with the world. Unloveable. It took one of his arrows just to have a conversation with somebody.

If he hadn't been shot, if Nico could've been seen, would Percy still love him then? If there would be no magic to cloud his judgement? And what about Annabeth? They'd practically been a match made in heaven. Did Nico take Percy away from his real happy ending?

He had to leave, Nico decided. He had to give Percy a chance to find happiness without him in the picture.

Nico glanced once more at Percy's sleeping face, hands curled next to his head. There was drool creeping down his chin, but Nico just thought it made him look more adorable. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Percy's forehead, before creeping out of bed and back into his clothes.

Afraid to lose his determination, Nico left as quietly as he could and didn't once look back at the sleeping boy he left on the bed.

Percy called. He left texts. Nico didn't answer any one of them, thinking any contact would hinder Percy's moving on. He tried to keep up with his assignments instead. Months passed. Leaves started to fall from the trees and Nico's phone grew quieter.

Life was worse than before. Now that Nico knew what love could feel like and was still unable to have it he began to hate Cupid just a bit more, which he didn't think was even possible.

"What are you doing?"

"Get the fuck away." Nico responded immediately when he heard that voice. That mocking, cruel voice.

"I would love to. Thing is, you suck as me. You're being a total idiot." The man sat next to him, letting his feet dangle over the roof's edge.

"And here I thought I was great at my job," Nico snarked, dark eyes fixed on the horizon so he wouldn't have to look at the man who ruined his life.

"Not even close. You're screwing with the matches."

Suddenly outraged, Nico turned to the pale man sitting beside him, his hands curled into fists. "I have not! Every single assignment you've given me I've done to the letter!"

Cupid raised a single eyebrow, red eyes flashing dangerously. "Oh? And what of the boy whose heart you've broken? Percy Jackson, wasn't it?"

Nico flinched. "Th-that was for his own good! He didn't know what he was doing or what was really happening to him! He needed a chance to develop feelings on his own! Without your damn arrows!"

Cupid's white wings bristled with irritation, though his face was blank. "My damnarrowsare what caused his feelings in the first place. Without them he never would've even seen you."

"Exactly." Nico slumped, is anger dissipating so fast he felt empty. "He doesn't love me. He just thinks he does."

It was silent for a moment.

"...You are truly a bigger idiot than I thought possible. What exactly do you think the arrows do?"

Nico shrugged, not even reacting to the insult. "I don't know. Make people fall in love? Put ideas in their heads?"

"No." Cupid gave a long-suffering sigh. "It opens people's hearts. That's it. Lets them feel things they normally are too afraid to feel."

Nico's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What do you mean? And why would Percy's heart need to be opened anyway? He's the purest person on the planet." Or at least, that's what Nico thought.

"Can you possibly be any more dim? It's obvious he needed my help."

Nico counted to ten in his head, trying to keep from punching the love god. There was a reason he was cursed. "I am so sorry I'm not up to par with your brilliance." Sarcasm couldn't be helped. He was a cupid, not a saint.

Cupid rolled his eyes impatiently. "Fine then. To put it bluntly, he was so far in the closet he could've probably spotted Narnia. Got it?"

Nico's mouth opened, eyes wide as he stared at the winged god in disbelief. "You're kidding me. You set him up with a girl! You gave me an assignment for him and- and some chick that started with an A! How does that help?"

Cupid smirked. "Did I? Or did I match him with a seventeen year old male, with curly black hair, and who didn't know his own worth?"

"...You didn't."

"Didn't you think it was odd that you managed to cut yourself after almost a hundred years of practice?" Cupid seemed way too smug as he spoke. "But then again, you've proven your stupidity countless times by now."

"So I'm matched to Percy? What happened- it wasn't a mistake at all?" There were too many emotions rising inside Nico to identify. He wasn't sure what to think anymore.

"Well, the whole matching process is hard to explain-"

"Wait, hang on. I'm not sure I want to be matched to anyone. How do I know which feelings are real?" Nico played with the arrows, watching them gleam gold in the setting sunlight. He glanced up at Cupid, who seemed distinctly annoyed at being interrupted. "Love can't be as simple as shooting somebody with magic arrows."

Cupid pinched the bridge of his nose in a very human gesture, face scrunched with irritation. "Did you not just listen to anything I said? The arrows don't cause love. That's impossible. Consider it as a sedative. It makes the heart more...receptive without the pressures of society saying which love is wrong and which is right. Which you should know by now. Besides, it wears off in three days."

"It...it wears off?" Nico's brow furrowed. "But Percy never showed any signs of that. He was always happy to see me, even months after you say the magic goes away."

"Gee, I wonder why that is?" Cupid drawled sarcastically. He stood and brushed his white clothes off. "I gotta go now, seeing as you're still being stupid and I have places to be." He shook his broad wings and shoulders as he got ready to fly off.

"Hey, wait-"

But Cupid had already taken to the skies and Nico was let alone once again. He groaned. "Dammit. The one time I actually want you to stay..." He pulled his smartphone from his pocket and stared at the menu that held all of Percy's previous messages. He glanced at the bow and arrows that laid next to him.

Was it really that simple?

Sighing, Nico pocketed his phone and prepared to leave.

Looked like he had some explaining to do.

Nico took a deep breath and knocked on the apartment door. There was a crash and the sound of laughter- Percy's laughter.

Nico's heart ached.

"I'm coming!" The door swung open to show Percy, a wet half-naked Percy with only a towel wrapped around his waist. "Oh, my- Nico?"

Nico swallowed and did a sort of half-wave that he instantly regretted. "Hey, Percy."

"W-what are you doing here?" Percy took a step away, as though Nico might attack him. "You haven't talked to me since…"

"I know," Nico sighed. "I know and I'm sorry. If it's okay, I'd really like to-"

"Who's this, babe?" Some blond, surfer-type man wrapped an arm around Percy's waist and pulled him into his side. His blue eyes were narrowed as he took in the sight of Nico.

Percy's gaze kept to the floor. "Luke, this is Nico. Nico, this is my-"

"Boyfriend," Luke interrupted. Percy stayed silent.

"Oh. I see." So this is why Nico never wanted to love anyone. Because it felt like what was left of his heart had been ripped out and then got run over by a monster truck. He tried to smile at them. "Well, it was nice seeing you, Percy. I wish you all the happiness in the world." He left then, as quick as he could.

Love sucked.

It was one year later. Nico was still a cupid and summer had come once again. There was nothing quite like a summer romance, as Nico had seen from watching the marks. Though, he was visible now, so he had to be extra careful when on the job. He mostly worked when everyone else was asleep.

Nico was getting an ice cream from a food truck, wanting something sweet and cold after a night's hard work. Even though it was only noon, the sun beamed down on New York, easily making it one of the hottest days on record.

"One scoop of Blue Moon please."

Nico froze. He knew that voice. How could he ever forget it? He turned slowly, expecting this all to be some cruel prank from Cupid. But, no. There was Percy, seventeen now with miniscule changes to his appearance.

His black hair was longer, his body leaner and more muscled. His eyes were still as bright though, and the smile he gave the cashier dazzling.

Dumbstruck, Nico watched Percy pay and start to eat his treat, appearing to be by himself. He wore a white T-shirt over blue swimming trunks and flip-flops.

Percy noticed him. Nico could tell by the stiffening of his shoulders and his stunned expression. He turned to leave, hoping to avoid more pain that would surely come, but Percy's call stopped him short.

"Nico!"

Nico stopped. Percy jogged toward him, all smiles and happiness, and Nico had to wonder if Luke was the one Percy was meant to be with. He seemed content enough, even though Nico himself felt like there was a hole in his chest. "Yes?"

Percy slowed, suddenly seeming shy. "Do you remember me?"

Nico wanted to laugh. Remember? How could he not remember Percy Jackson? Still, he just nodded and tried to smile. "Of course. How are you?"

"I'm fine." Percy glanced at Nico's back and grinned. "Take up archery?"

"Oh. Um, yeah." Nico shifted his shoulders where his bow and arrows were kept. They could be seen by mortal now, but most just assumed they were fake and he was a geeky cosplayer. "What about you? Any new hobbies? Still with Luke?"

Percy shook his head slowly. "No to both questions. I'm still pretty much the same and Luke and I broke up. He wanted something that I...just wasn't ready to give yet."

That was new, Nico noticed as he stared into Percy's eyes. There was a wall there, one that hadn't been there before. He winced when he realized it was probably because of him. "I'm sorry to hear that." And he was surprised to discover that he really was sorry. He didn't want Percy to be alone. Not when he knew how painful it was.

Percy shrugged. "It's okay. My love-life has just been interesting. Guess Cupid's got some plans for me."

"Yeah, well, Cupid's an ass."

Percy laughed quietly. Nico's ice cream melted in his hand. He took a deep breath. "And he's not the only one. Percy, I want to say I'm so sorry for walking out on you and for ignoring you and-"

Chuckling, Percy stepped forward and took Nico's hand. "It's okay. I forgave you a long time ago. And I understand."

"Understand?" Nico squeezed Percy's hand, feeling oddly desperate. "How can you not be angry with me? I betrayed your trust. I hurt you-"

"But I know why you did it. How can you love someone when you don't even love yourself?"

"I did love you, Percy." Nico's voice dropped to a whisper. "I still do. And you may have forgiven me, but I haven't." He hadn't deserved it. He'd bitched about how love didn't exist, but when it was handed to him on a silver platter he threw it away.

Percy brought a sticky hand to rub the ridge of Nico's cheekbone like he did when they first met. He smiled. "That's okay. I have time."

Ding!

They both glanced down at Nico's pocket, Nico with annoyance and Percy with amusement. He dug it out and swiped his thumb over the surface to see the new marks.

Nico di Angelo:

Age: Eighteen

Likes: Mythomagic, Horror films, and Percy Jackson

And

Percy Jackson:

Age: Seventeen

Likes: Blue food, Long walks on the beach, and Nico di Angelo

Nico looked back at Percy, who was watching him curiously. He felt his lips curl in a grin. "So, Percy. How much do you know about Cupid?"

AN: Sorry if Cupid is out of character. I haven't read House of Hades yet, so I was just guessing based on what others have said.

Thank you so much for reading! Please leave a review!