It was Leo's idea. "Going to Times Square on New Years' Eve?" he exclaimed. "Come on! It'll be awesome!"
"You're just looking for some single girl to steal a kiss from," Jason teased without any bite, wrapping an arm around his best friend.
"ALL the ladies love me," Leo huffed. "I don't need to steal anything."
"Sure, sure," Piper shrugged, "I actually think it's a great idea."
"I'm in," Percy said as he took Annabeth's hand. "Our first New Years' Eve together. Kind of romantic."
Annabeth gave him a somewhat shy smile before agreeing.
Leo lit up in victory and turned to Nico, who leaning against the corner of the room and wondering if he could just melt through the drywall and run for the hills. "What about you, Neeks? You want in on this action?"
Nico felt a twinge of reluctance. Jason and Piper were going as a couple. Percy and Annabeth were already making goo-goo eyes at each other. Leo would be throwing himself at any group of girls that passed their way. He'd be the odd-man out, as usual, and he really didn't want to look like a pathetic loser again. "No, thanks," he said dryly. "I think I'll just stay home tonight."
"What?" Jason protested. "No! Come with us! It'll be totally fun!"
"Really, I don't feel like being a seventh wheel or whatever. You go."
"You wouldn't be a seventh wheel!" Piper interjected. "You've got Leo!"
Leo wiggled his eyebrows teasingly at him and Nico groaned. "Thanks, but no. It's cold and it's supposed to snow and it'll be loud and I hate crowds... and..." he trailed off at the look his group of friends was giving him. He shrank in on himself. "I..."
He hated his friends. He was lagging behind the group already, hands in his pockets and tucking his chin into a large scarf, glaring at the too-large crowd gathered in front of Times Square. People were loud and ducking in front of news cameras, flailing and making overall fools of themselves. Horns and confetti were already going off, and the smell of alcohol stung his nose. He wanted to go home. He'd rather watch the ball drop while he was comfy in his home, surfing the internet for memes or jokes he could show to Jason and Percy later - once their insatiable need for impressing their girlfriends wore off.
The holidays always sucked. It was the opportune time for couples, who gave each other gifts, and snuck each other underneath mistletoe, and kissed at midnight at the first second of the new year. But, for the single folk, it was a big fat reminder of what they were missing.
Not only was Nico single, but his options for dating were even more limited due to the fact that girls just weren't his thing. Countless times Annabeth and Piper set him up with their friends until Nico finally had enough and came out to them. Ever since, their efforts had doubled tenfold. Shopping trips, gossip, boy talks - he was subjected to it all. No amount of snark or protesting saved him from their attempts to rope him into their 'girl nights'. Just because he was gay didn't mean he liked girly things. He just preferred muscles to boobs - was that so hard to understand?
Nonetheless, it was better than the alternative, and he was pretty grateful to have such accepting friends, even if they didn't entirely get him.
"Here!" Leo announced. "This is the perfect spot!" He scanned the surrounding crowd. "Oh, yeah, this is excellent."
Nico rolled his eyes and prepared to root himself at that particular spot and not move until next year - even if it was only an hour away - when someone bumped into him.
"Oops, sorry!" a bright voice sang, reaching out to steady Nico. "I didn't see you!"
"It's okay," Nico grumbled. "It would just give me an excuse to go home. In fact, if you could just hit me in the head, that would be great."
The voice broke into startlingly musical laughter that made Nico raise his gaze. He nearly choked on his own tongue. A tall young man was standing in front of him, laughing as if he'd never heard a joke in his life, with sunny blonde hair and deep blue eyes. He was tan and definitely not used to New York weather, as he was dangerously under dressed. Though, Nico wasn't complaining, as it gave him plenty of time to ogle the muscles lining the tight sweater. A pair of fuzzy earmuffs sat over his ears and a patchwork scarf curled around his neck. He had a pair of yellow gloves on, which upon closer look... yep, that was Jake from Adventure Time. Nico definitely did not swoon.
"I take it you were dragged her against your will," the man chuckled. "Same here."
"Do you have idiotic friends, too?"
The blonde nodded. "Oh, they're special in their own way, sure, but sometimes they just get carried away."
"God, I feel you."
The blonde laughed politely again before glancing over Nico's shoulder and pointing. "Are those them?"
Nico turned. Leo was holding onto a woman's legs - Nico recognized her. Calypso, a year ahead of them - pleading, while she struggled to pry him off. Percy was filming, laughing hysterically, while Jason trying to chug a whole carton of eggnog, which Nico had no idea where it came from. Nico turned his back to them again. "No. Definitely not."
The man smiled understandingly. "You've got it rough. I apologize."
Nico shrugged. "So, how did your friends manage to get you to tag along?"
The man shrugged with a sigh. "They seem to think I'll be able to meet a guy here." He blinked and glanced at Nico nervously. "Er, I mean..."
"It's fine," Nico assured him. "Me too."
"Oh. Wow." The man rubbed his neck. "I guess you wouldn't want to get a drink then?"
Nico glanced back at his friends. Leo was now rolling over on the ground in pain while Calypso looked torn between laughing and screaming, and Jason was bent over a garbage can with Piper rubbing his back sympathetically. Percy was buzzing around them, holding up his phone and bouncing side to side like an excited crab.
"I think anything is better than going back to that," he muttered and the man beamed.
They spent the whole night talking. After finding a vendor that was selling hot chocolate, the blonde man paid for two and handed one to Nico. "Thanks," he muttered, embarrassed, into the cup.
"No problem." He took a sip of his own. "So... where do you go to school?"
"Really? Me too! What year are you?"
"Ah, I'm a sophomore."
That was how it passed for what felt like hours. Nico found himself actually enjoying their conversation. He didn't feel as though he had to hold anything back and just himself shine through. He made dry jokes and replied with sarcastic jabs, and the blonde just played right along. Nico felt his lips pulling into a smile and wondered if he could actually get this man's number before the end of the night.
Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. The people around them were staring up at the ball ecstatically, bouncing on their toes and holding up their phones. "Oh, it's starting!" the blond man said excitedly and pulled Nico by the arm a bit closer to the front.
"You should probably find your friends," Nico said reluctantly, but the blonde just shrugged.
"They're fine. What about you?"
Nico snorted. "I know exactly where to find them."
The blonde opened his mouth to say something but there was a sudden, deafening shout. "TEN!"
Nico, despite himself, felt a lurch of excitement. He stood close to the blonde. "NINE!"
The blonde lit up. "EIGHT!"
Out of the corner of his eye, Nico saw a flash. He turned and saw Piper and Percy laughing excitedly as they aimed a phone at him. "SEVEN!"
Nico flipped them off and made a 'get lost' gesture. Jason flashed him a thumbs' up. "SIX!"
He huffed and turned front again, somewhat surprised when he saw Leo and Calypso standing in front of them. She seemed to be quite content. "FIVE!"
Again, the melancholy grew in his stomach. Even Leo found someone. Would he really be the only one without a date? "FOUR!"
He glanced at the blonde, whose name he hadn't even learned yet, and wondered if he should go for it. "THREE!"
Hell. He couldn't go through with that! He didn't have the backbone. What if he'd read everything wrong, and this shining young man just wanted to be friends? "TWO!"
At once, Nico and the man turned to each other and, as if they both had been thinking the same thoughts, their lips met with an unmistakable spark. Warmth filled Nico. The shouts and cheer, the confetti flying over them, the fireworks going off overhead, Nico felt like he was flying.
Once the initial excitement died down, Nico pulled away, staring widely into those pools of blues and feeling a bit embarrassed. The blonde looked just as surprised, a blush heating up his face. "I'm Will," he murmured.
Nico gulped. "Nico."
Will broke into a beautiful smile. "Well, Nico, I hope you have a very good year."
Nico smiled back and their fingers laced together. "I have a feeling it will be."
Will, with his free hand, cupped Nico's cold cheek and leaned back in for another kiss, which Nico eagerly granted.
As it turned out, it was the best year of his life.
A/N: (Sigh...) I was stuck in traffic and Tumblr called and before I knew it I was writing ANOTHER Solangelo fic. How many fics can I post before it becomes too much? Anyways, Happy New Year's!