A/N: For Qwerty Kirby! Happy Birthday!
This was supposed to be a one-shot but (as usual) I got carried away. Part II will be up soon! :3
Will Solace was many things. He had been called proud, prim, and perfectionistic. He liked an order to things, liked being able to solve a problem no one else could, liked piecing together a long puzzle that left others scratching their heads. He didn't mind sitting down and reading a nice book on the weekends just as much as he didn't mind it if that book so happened to be a dry, brain-numbing medical text full of Latin terms and diagnoses.
He had wanted to work in a hospital ever since he had been born in one. There was something poetic about it; beginning and ending in the same place. A complete circle, a complete journey around the clock.
His parents were proud when he was accepted to his first-choice university. Both of them were established doctors, progressing medical research years into the future, so it was only natural for Will to follow in their footsteps. His life was a straight, neat little line which was ever-stretching forward – clear and clean. An arrow which had been broken in half the moment a young man walked into his art history class twenty minutes late and sat down at the seat diagonal from him.
Will glared at the newcomer the whole time he bustled past other students to reach the seat. It was the third week! How could he still be late by the third week? Had he even made an attempt to be on time?
He glanced over at the yawning man, who seemed to have not brought along any paper or pencils. His hair was black, darker than a raven, with messy, careless tufts blown out in all directions. He was ghostly white against his dark clothing. Black jeans with holes frayed all over, black t-shirt with some rather offensive words emblazoned on the front, converses falling apart, and Will honestly couldn't tell whether there was makeup under his eyes or if it was simply dark bags. His ears were pierced with several metal rings and studs, and Will's eyes widened when he realized his lip was pierced as well. The man's t-shirt revealed his tattoos – a complete sleeve on his left arm while his right arm had several smaller ones. Will could spot a line of ink peeking out just above his collarbone.
Good luck getting a job one day, Will thought immediately. Between the devil-may-care attitude and the devil-is-my-roommate appearance, Will figured he was just another punk and left it at that.
It wasn't until he'd accidentally caught the back of the punk's shoe on his way out that he even spoke to him at all. "Ah, sorry!" he squeaked, flinching at how quickly the other man spun around, as if prepping himself for a fight. Their eyes met; Will staring fearfully into the dark pools of obsidian. Something strange happened to Will's chest right then. If he didn't know any better, he would say he would be going into some sort of cardiac distress.
When he seemed to decide that Will wasn't a threat, he huffed and crossed his arms. "It's fine," he muttered and hello accent.
The man was gone before Will could recover. Quickly, Will shook himself and hurried back to his dorm, pretending that those eyes hadn't had that sort of effect on him at all.
He was out eating with some friends when he learned his name.
"Here comes Nico di Angelo. God, doesn't he ever smile?" Lou Ellen muttered into her sandwich.
Will glanced up. "Who?"
She gestured with her free hand to a few tables down, where three boys were sitting. Will almost choked on his soda when he spotted the punk from his art history class. He looked less threatening when he was squashed between two normal-looking guys, almost cute with the way his nose wrinkled in distaste as the boy beside him drank something unnaturally blue. "The kid in the black. I went to high school with him. He used to be a big dork but now he's the poster child for emo music."
"Any reason?" his friend Cecil asked.
Lou Ellen shrugged. "I heard someone in his family passed away, but he never talked about it. All I know is he left school for a few weeks and everyone barely recognized him when he came back. Pretty sure he came out last summer."
Will's heart constricted again as he watched the raven-haired punk across the hall. Nico di Angelo. Just as he thought the name, Nico glanced up suddenly and their gaze met. Nico looked away immediately but Will just stared, frowning.
During their next art history class, Will sat behind Nico, trying to tell himself that it was only because it would be easier to see the board since the boy was so short. Yet, the whole time, Will found himself studying Nico's tattoos, wondering what each one meant and when he'd gotten them. He stared the longest at the image of an angel with broken wings, reaching up at something Will couldn't see from his angle. It made him feel… strangely sad. What sorts of emotions were going through Nico's head when he'd gotten something like that?
He looked at another, near Nico's elbow, of a rose with thorns curling down a black sword running along his forearm. It made him look tough and… and cool. Really cool. In fact, Will might have even said attractive.
Will only realized class was over when Nico rocketed out of his chair and blew past the classroom doors like a bat out of hell. Dazed and unable to believe that he hadn't written down a single note, Will collected his things and followed. His heart flip-flopped when he saw Nico standing outside the building and his brain immediately concocted a fantasy where Nico had been waiting for him. But, a man with blonde hair and glasses approached Nico as he was digging in his pockets. They exchanged a few words and Nico pulled out a pack of cigarettes. The blonde grimaced and tried to take them away, but Nico just barked at him to shut up and lit one anyways.
Will scowled at nothing in particular and decided to walk off instead of standing there looking like a jealous idiot. Of course he had a boyfriend! Someone like Nico di Angelo could probably get whoever he wanted what with his mysterious allure, deep eyes, and that stupid, hot accent. Will never would have stood a chance. He was the complete opposite with his bright shirts and trousers and sunny-personality and the way his calendar was organized from then until next August.
Still, he had the desire to walk over and force Nico di Angelo to put out that cigarette. He had to know how terrible that was for his body! Why would anyone want to hurt themselves like that?
Why do you care? He thought quickly. You've never even really spoken to him. He's probably never even noticed you.
Will clutched onto the strap of his overstuffed backpack tightly as he made his way to the library. He drowned out thoughts of the dark-haired punk with terminology that he didn't need to know until the next exam. It was never too early to start studying, he reasoned.
Unfortunately, Will had the tendency of overloading his brain with useless facts and long definitions (and the complex combinations to all his favorite videogames) and would simply plop from exhaustion. As such, Will nodded off in the comfy chair in the upper floors of the library, book slipping from his hand.
"Will Solace," Jason said.
Nico di Angelo snapped his attention from his phone, scowling. "What?"
"That's the guy's name. The one from your art history class. The one you're trying to find on Facebook right now."
Nico scoffed and quickly dropped his phone onto his bed, ignoring his roommate's knowing smirk. "I don't know what you're talking about," he muttered and folded his arms behind his head.
Jason rolled his eyes but spun around in his desk chair in order to type away at some English paper. Nico supposed he should start working on his own, but – hell – he might as well just nab Jason's, change a few things, and presto – instant paper. "You can deny it all you want," Jason told him irritably, "but I saw you watching him earlier. Again, his name is Will Solace."
"Shut up!" Nico snapped. "I wasn't looking at anyone! If anything, I was stupefied at how much nerd power could fit into one person."
Jason sighed, but didn't take his eyes away from his screen. "And how did you know who I was talking about if you weren't looking at anyone, hm? S-O-L-A-C-E. He might go by William. So try that, too."
Nico thought for a moment then gritted his teeth. "Fuck you, Grace," he hissed. Anyone else would have either punched him or run from him when they heard that tone, but Jason just shrugged innocently and kept writing.
He took his roommate's silence as a personal victory and picked back up his phone. He was only mildly curious, just wanted to know if Nico's suspicions about him were correct, and Jason had put it in his head anyways. He searched 'Will Solace' on Facebook and spotted him immediately at the top of the list. Nico would have laughed at his profile picture if Jason hadn't been sitting ten feet away from him.
It was definitely the geek from his art history class. His neat, styled blonde hair and toothy, blinding grin gave it away immediately. He was wearing a white doctor's coat with a collared shirt and tie underneath. One of those headbands with the round mirror was around his forehead and a stethoscope hung around his neck. He looked… ridiculous. It was obviously from Halloween, but, really, a full doctor costume?
He already knew the kid was a bookworm. He practically hung on the professor's every word and would nod along as he scribbled down notes so quickly Nico wondered how his pencil wasn't smoking. He always raised his hand – to ask a question or to answer one – and never missed, was never late. He was one of those types of people, the kind that Nico would scoff at and promptly avoid. However, something about this goody-two-shoes made Nico's eyes flicker over to him every so often.
He was devastatingly handsome. That was a given. But it was more than that. When he had suddenly moved to the seat directly behind him, Nico could feel the other boy's stare on him. It was probably out of curiosity or disapproval but Nico didn't care. He just took off his jacket, letting the blonde get a glimpse of the tattoos running down his arms. He had plenty more, of course, and wouldn't have minded showing off only he was pretty sure that his professor wouldn't appreciate him stripping his shirt off in the middle of his lecture. Besides, men like Will Solace didn't find guys like Nico di Angelo attractive. Based on the fact that there was a pretty brunette girl hanging off his arm in his profile pic, Nico figured Will Solace didn't find guys attractive at all.
Shame, Nico thought as he studied Will's handsome face before closing the app and dragging himself to his feet. He got to work on putting on his heavy boots.
"Where are you going?" Jason muttered.
"Again?" Jason shook his head. "Those things are awful. And they make our room smell."
"Worse than your gym-clothes' stench?" Nico wrinkled his nose. "Doubtful."
"Your dad is gonna find out if you keep this up, yanno."
Nico snorted, shrugging on his bomber jacket and sticking an unlit cigarette in his mouth. "Watch me quiver in fear," he said sarcastically and marched out of the room, letting the door slam behind him.
It was cold out, but that was how Nico preferred it. The sun never did him any favors.
He found himself stumbling towards the library. People rarely ever walked by the back which made it perfect for when he just wanted to be left alone. Pretty much that was all of the time, since people made it a point to be assholes. But he was used to the whispers, the glares, the look of fear from a passerby. He'd always been called a delinquent, a nothing. Why not give the people what they wanted?
He leaned up against the library wall and dug around for his lighter. The damn thing never quite lit correctly, but Nico couldn't find it in himself to throw the defective thing away. It wasn't its fault it was a product of faulty manufacturing. Yet, getting it to lit was a pain in the ass. By the time he'd gotten it to spark and had lit his cigarette, his thumb was tired.
"This is a no smoking zone!" a sudden voice called, nearly making Nico drop his lighter. However, he managed to keep composed enough to sneer up at whoever was bugging him. A rude insult was pushing at his lips when he recognized the man walking over to him and he froze. Will Solace stood a few feet away from him with one hand on his hip and the other gesturing up to the large 'NO SMOKING' sign that was directly above Nico's head.
Nico snorted at the stern look on the other man's face. "And what're you gonna do about it?" he asked in his best 'get lost' voice.
He could see Will's confidence waver slightly, could see the apprehensive tension in his muscles, but Will just took a step forward. "Secondhand smoke has up to fifty times more toxic particles than diesel or exhaust fumes."
Nico blinked. "…What?"
"PPAHs," Will blurted out, as if unable to help himself.
"What the hell is that?"
"Particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons." Will crossed his arms. "It's full of nicotine, acetone, hydrazine, hydrogen cyanide. Basically you're inhaling nail polish remover, rocket fuel, and rat poison."
Nico gaped at the sunny blonde in front of him, unable to comprehend how someone just knew those sorts of things. He shook his head. "Leave me alone. I can't even understand what you're saying."
"And you're releasing them, too! So, not only are you hurting yourself but you're hurting people around you and the environment." Will huffed haughtily. Nico was waiting for him to pull out a pair of thick glasses with tape around the bridge to put on and straighten. Will seemed to be looking for a response, but Nico simply didn't have one.
Other than to blow smoke in Will's general direction and give him a deep glare. "Free country," he muttered. He thought about threatening the other boy a bit, show him that Nico di Angelo was not someone he could just push around so easily, but there was a puppy-dog look in Will's eyes, a genuine concern in his features, and Nico had to look away. He was going soft, wasn't he? "Are you always this annoying?"
Will puffed out his chest a bit, grinning cheekily. "Pre-med. Occupational hazard."
Nico scowled. Good-looking, smart, and ambitious. "Whatever," he hissed and threw his cigarette to the ground, stomping it out with his shoe. "Wouldn't want to upset the Golden Boy, would I?" He sneered over at Will, expecting to see anger or fear or something other than that smile.
"I'm a loose cannon, what can I say?" he teased.
Nico's eye twitched. It was a dangerous thing; teasing. Nico had dealt out black eyes for less. Yet, he shoved his hands in his pockets and restrained himself. For some reason, he just couldn't find it in himself to hurt the man in front of him. And that really pissed him off. He could practically hear Jason laughing at him already.
Nico didn't respond. He just brushed past Will, making sure to blow any smoke still in his lungs at him. He didn't try to hide his smirk when Will gasped and started flailing his hands around in an attempt to wave it off.
Stupid kid, he thought, and then got upset at how his chest fluttered at the thought.
Will couldn't focus. He was too distracted by the spiked hair in front of him. He swore Nico di Angelo had done it just to screw with him. His hair was usually loose and messy, hanging close to his eyes, but today… oh, man. Nico had buzzed off on side of his hair with an intricate pattern shaved into it while his side-parted bangs were spiked up, showing off his really pretty eyes, and, God, for some reason it was driving Will insane.
"Will, do you have anything to add?"
Will snapped to attention, jumping as he realized half the class was staring at him. Nico turned in his chair, looking somewhere between amused and unimpressed. "Er," he said intelligibly, "no, not really."
The professor nodded. "Then, please, do pay attention."
Will flushed. "Y-yes, sir."
Nico gave a soft snort before turning back around, ignoring him, and Will went back to his musings, uncaring that he was missing information about the upcoming exam.
When class was over, Nico was again the first one out the door. Sighing, Will picked himself up and gathered his things before making his way to the library to meet Lou Ellen and Cecil.
"I mean, who even wears their hair like that?" Will complained over coffee to his two best friends, who exchanged worried glances. "Delinquents, that's who! Does he not even care what he looks like? He'll never get a career, you know!"
A smile spread across Lou Ellen's face. "I get that you like him, Will, but do you have to be so loud about it?"
"Yeah," Cecil agreed. "Like, people are watching us, man."
"Wh-what?" Will's face erupted into a violent blush. "I-I don't like him!"
Lou Ellen and Cecil rolled their eyes in sync.
"I don't!" he pushed. "I-I just don't care for his knack of smoking in restricted places, that's all."
Lou Ellen batted her eyelashes at Cecil. "Oh, Nico! Smoking is bad for you. Please notice me!"
Cecil sniggered and took her hands, holding them close. "I'm sorry, Will! But I'm too dark and mysterious to notice anything behind all this hair!"
"All right, that's enough!" Will groaned and hid his face in his arms. "Don't you think I'm embarrassed enough as it is?"
Lou Ellen giggled and patted Will's head. "Look, Will, maybe you should just forget about Nico. I mean, you guys are just too different."
Will sighed heavily into his sleeve, blinking at the table beneath him. Forget Nico? He could try. His friends were right. It would be a lost cause to pine after someone as unobtainable as Nico di Angelo. He might as well just start flirting with a bomb.
Lou Ellen and Cecil started talking about classes and some party they went to over the weekend, but Will stayed lost in his own head.
Around six o'clock he decided to go back to his dorm. He took the shortcut he always used, which went along the back of the library. Sure, it was kind of dark and spooky back there but it was also the quickest, most efficient way to his room.
He almost jumped in surprise when he saw a figure leaning up against the wall, blowing smoke into the air.
"No freaking way," Will muttered. His feet were moving before he could even comprehend it. "Seriously?" he called out louder, garnering the smoker's attention. "Again? Smoking is not permitted within twenty-feet of any doors or windows!"
Nico di Angelo's gaze lingered on him for a few moments. If Will didn't know any better, he would say Nico was checking him out. "Non parlo inglese," he muttered.
"Non fumare!" Will retorted right back and Nico's eyes widened. "I took two years of Italian in high school! Nice try."
"Beh, cazzo me," Nico said. "I'm impressed."
Will blushed. "Don't you even care about your own body? I mean, smoking is—"
"Bad for you, yes," he interrupted with a huff. "Maybe that's why I do it."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means it's none of your business what I do or why I do them." Nico glared at him. "Now just get lost, will you?"
Will meant to say something rude back, meant to throw a ton of other health-related facts at him, but something completely different slipped out. "You got your hair cut."
Nico's eyebrows furrowed together.
"N-no, I mean, it looks… good."
Nico looked even more confused.
"Er. Like it's really unique, and… and…" Will hit himself. "I'm just gonna shut up."
Nico grinned. Actually grinned. "Now you're starting to make sense."
Will's heart leapt into his throat at the sight of that smile. It was gone as quickly as it had showed up, but he definitely wanted to see that again.
It became a routine after that. Once or twice a week, Nico would lean against the brick wall behind the library and Will would come around to nag him deaf about lung disease and lymphoma. Nico would sit, listen, take it, and mutter a few sharp jabs just to see Will's face turn red. The fact that Will could still stand on two legs was proof enough that Nico had it bad.
"So… What's your major?" Will asked one day and Nico froze. No, no, no. That wasn't good. Trading smart comments and clever insults was one thing. Casual conversation was a whole new ballgame, one that Nico failed at. Will would realize that he was nothing special sooner or later and forget about him. As much as Nico hated it, he had started to look forward to the time spent with Will. They'd even shared a few words during class. Not really enough to qualify as friends, but still… something.
Slightly panicking, Nico put his cigarette out and started to leave without a word.
"Hey!" Will called after him. "W-wait!"
Nico shook his head and kept walking even as Will followed him. Did the kid have a death wish? Even his cute face wasn't going to save him if he kept it up.
Will set his hand down on Nico's shoulder. Instinctively, Nico lurched out of the foreign touch and spun around, teeth set dangerously. Will backed up, hands held in front of him defensively like a white flag. "Wh-whoa, no need to get feral!"
"What do you want, Solace?" Nico growled and realized his slip-up the moment Will's eyes started shining.
"You said my name," he whispered, almost awed.
Nico glared down at the ground. "So?"
"You've never said my name before."
Nico scoffed. "Is your ego so large that you blow up as soon as you get recognition? It's just a fucking name. Get over it."
Will looked stricken. "Wh-what? Nico, I was just talking—"
"You're always talking!" Nico snapped. He wasn't entirely sure why he was shouting at Will. He wasn't sure what the sense of fear was rippling through him. But he couldn't stop. "Can't you just shut up for more than two seconds? Leave me alone!" He spun around before he could see Will's hurt face and walked off.
He supposed that would be the end of his talks with Will. It was probably for the best. Will was better off without him anyways.
He flicked his collar up against the sudden chill.
Nico didn't show up for class. Will watched the empty chair guiltily. What had he said wrong? He had offended him somehow. Maybe he got sick of listening to Will's constant nagging. Will didn't blame him. He just got really nervous around Nico, and his defense to that was to blurt out facts until his head spun.
He didn't even attempt to listen to his prof anymore. He was too busy wallowing.
The next two weeks were the worst of Will's life.
He failed – failed – his history exam, lost his wallet which held his credit card, student ID, and all of his cash, locked himself out of his room, sent his professor the wrong paper, got a parking ticket for going over his meter by eight minutes, and forgot to turn in his math assignment. Will, who had always prided himself on his organization, was devastated.
"We all get in those slumps from time to time," Cecil tried to assure him. "It's only midterms. You can turn it around."
Will never mentioned his 'fight' with Nico, or the fact that he still passed the library with a bubble of hope in his chest which would pop the moment he saw no one leaning against the wall. Will wasn't sure why Nico di Angelo affected him so much, how it happened so quickly, but he knew he just wanted to hear Nico curse at him again. He wanted to see that smile again.
His bad luck continued during the week but he still attempted to study. He hit the books hard, trying to forget all about Nico and his tattoos, and flushed out the memory of his laugh with Latin terms and historical dates.
By the time midterms rolled around, Will was almost back to his old self. He felt confident as he strode into his art history classroom, ready to ace the exam. It all flew away when he noticed that the seat in front of him was occupied.
After missing for two full weeks, Nico di Angelo had come back. His black jacket was slung over his chair as he sat nonchalantly, glaring at everything that moved or made a noise. He had a new piercing on his eyebrow, and Will's heart immediately relapsed. He sat down with a large grin. "You're back!"
Nico cast him a dark look over his shoulder before facing forward, silent.
Will frowned. "Oh, so that's how it's gonna be, huh?"
Nico ignored him.
Will sighed. "You know, I was just trying to be your friend. I don't know what I did to piss you off so much but… I'm sorry, for what it's worth."
"Glad we could clear that up," Will huffed and sank back in his chair. He dug out a pencil, crossed his arms, and waited for the tests to be passed out.
It was predictably easy. Will connected each work to its respective artist and circled every correct date fluidly, not stopping for a moment. He wasn't the first one to finish, but he was definitely one of the quickest. As he stood to turn in his paper, he noticed a pack of cigarettes sticking out of the pocket of Nico's jacket. He glared at them, feeling inexplicably jealous, before walking up to the professor's desk and placing his answer sheet on top of the others.
He collected his things quietly, risking glimpses at Nico every few seconds. His attention drifted back down to the cigarette pack and his irritation swelled.
Barely thinking, Will made sure no one was looking and quickly swiped them from the pocket before stuffing them in his pocket and leaving.
He felt rather pleased with himself. Imagine the look on Nico's face when he tried to light up one of his beloved cancer-sticks and found himself grasping at nothing but the inside of his coat and air. That's right, Will thought gleefully. I stole your stupid cigarettes.
He froze for a moment, the reality sinking in.
Holy shit, I just stole Nico di Angelo's cigarettes.
Gulping, he pushed open the door and let the sudden autumn breeze nip at his cheeks. A thrill ran up his spine as his hand made contact with the package in his pocket.
Come and get them.
'Non parlo inglese.' - I don't speak English.
'Non fumare!' - No smoking!
'Beh, cazzo me.' - Well, fuck me.