AN- So, thanks to a fic I stumbled upon Death's Dare by Kioko, I fell in love with the pairing idea of Nico/Rachel and the whole forbidden romance of it all. And, ever since reading The Titan's Curse, I've been a Thuke fan. So, this fic is a little combination of those (and some Percabeth for flavor). It references by previous PJ fic, An Epic Proposal, but you really don't need to read that at all to get what's going on here.
I hope you enjoy! Second Percy Jackson fic. Whoot!
Rachel Elizabeth Dare was twenty-six years old. She'd graduated from Clarion Ladies Academy with honors and defied her father by going off to art school instead of Harvard or Princeton like he'd always planned. She'd made friends with Annabeth Chase (which was a miracle in itself) and Percy Jackson and kept in touch with them since she was fifteen.
Yet, she was miserable.
The banquet hall was beautiful. The decorations were a combination of sea green and gray, which surprisingly looked really well together. She was wearing a bridesmaid dress made of gray silk- Annabeth had decided against the traditional white due to the fact that it didn't represent either hers or Percy's heritage in any way. Plus, she also wasn't exactly pure....not that Athena needed to know that in any way, shape or form (though Rachel found it hard to believe the Goddess of Wisdom was that dense).
Percy had worn a dark blue suit, the color of the ocean in a storm. He said it was because marrying Annabeth made his heart feel like waves were crashing and going wild(trying to be romantic), but Rachel knew it was really because she'd shot down his original idea- a sea green tuxedo that looked absolutely hideous.
She was Maid of Honor. It surprised her when Annabeth asked her. She hadn't seen it coming (literally) and assumed that the blond would be asking Thalia, her oldest friend. When she asked Annabeth, the daughter of Athena had smiled and told the red-head that she was her best friend now. Needless to say, that resulted in a pretty touching moment.
Poseidon and Athena were being civil to each other, which was all Percy and Annabeth wanted. They were standing at opposite ends of the dance floor, glaring daggers at one another but saying nothing. Couples danced around and mingled; Rachel caught sight of Percy's mom in the arms of her new husband Paul and, right in the middle of the floor, Percy and Annabeth were swaying together, lost in their own world.
They looked adorable and perfect and so very peaceful that it broke Rachel's heart. It just another reminder of what would never be hers.
She took a swig of champagne and jumped when she heard a voice behind her.
"Can I have some?"
"It's against my moral beliefs to give alcohol to a minor."
Thalia Grace scowled and crossed her arms over her chest. Rachel smiled innocently and the daughter of Zeus rolled her eyes, but smiled as well. She looked beautiful in simple black gown, showing off her toned body from years of being with the Hunters. She'd joined them at age fifteen (the same age she was now) and sworn service to the Goddess Artemis.
"They look good together, don't they?" Thalia asked, nodding towards the middle of the dance floor.
"They always have. Took them forever to get together."
"Well, that could have been because of a certain red-head who distracted the son of Poseidon." Thalia said.
Rachel shook her head in outrage. "What a bitch."
Thalia laughed. "Did you hear of the story of how he proposed?"
"Epic monster fight. Yeah, Annabeth supplied all the gory details. It just sounds so Percy-and-Annabeth that I really wasn't surprised, you know?"
"Yeah. It's just-"
A loud, shrill laugh met their ears and they grimaced simultaneously. Out of habit, Rachel's eyes drifted towards the sound and was met with the sight of Nico di Angelo and his flavor of the week. She was a petite little brunette with blue eyes and a large chest. She was laughing at his every joke and hanging off his every world. Rachel rolled her eyes at the girls desperation; it surprised Rachel that the girl was a brunette. She always thought Nico preferred blonds and pictured him with so. To be perfectly honest though, she pictured him with red-heads, namely a certain red-head....
"She looks desperate in that dress." Thalia said helpfully.
Rachel nodded in agreement. "She totally wants to sleep with him. And, she probably will."
"I need more alcohol."
Rachel walked away from her immortal friend and walked over to the bar. She asked for a martini and sat on the stool as she waited. Her eyes darted around the dance floor, taking in all of her friends. When she heard the sound of her glass being placed in front of her, she turned. And proceeded to jump almost a mile into the air.
"Nico!" she screeched as soon as she could breathe.
Nico had popped up in the seat next to her out of nowhere. He was currently chuckling at her frightened expression. "Sorry."
She narrowed her eyes at him, but she knew she couldn't stay angry for long. Especially when he was smiling at her like that- a crooked smile, full of mischief and everything that made Nico, Nico. He was taller than her, even sitting down, with silky black hair and olive skin. His eyes were almost black and for one wild moment, Rachel imagined them filling with desire, their bodies moving closer, lips almost touching....
She shook herself and finished her martini in one gulp to steady her nerves. Nico chuckled and turned to the bartender.
"Two more, please."
"Are you old enough?" she blurted out without thinking.
Nico looked amused. "I'm twenty-three, Rach."
"Right." she muttered. "I knew that."
The bartender set their drinks down and Rachel sipped hers slowly. They drank silently together, gazing out at the banquet, looking nowhere specifically.
"Where's your date?" Rachel finally asked.
He shrugged. "Somewhere around here. She might be talking to Percy and Annabeth."
"And, she doesn't suspect anything? Like, this might not be the most normal wedding to be at?"
"Wow, one of your girlfriends is too dumb to figure out that she's at a wedding with two Gods of Olympus, a few dozen satyrs and some Centaurs. I'm so shocked."
She expected Nico to be angry that she insulted his girlfriend but he surprised her by chuckling. "They can't all see through the mist like you, Dare."
At the mention of her 'talent', Rachel grew silent and stared morosely at her drink. Nico's eyebrows furrowed in concern. "Hey, you okay?"
"Fine." she said, quietly.
"I didn't mean to insult you, I just-"
"You didn't. I should go find Thalia. Us single girls need to stick together." She forced a smile at him and slid off her stool, placing her empty glass on the bar. "See you."
He watched her walk away, red-hair swaying gently behind her and felt a clench in his stomach, like it hurt seeing her go.
Rachel entered the bathroom and checked all the stalls. Seeing that they were empty, she looked the door, hopped up on the sink and leaned against the mirror, reflecting.
When she'd made the decision to become the Oracle, it hadn't mattered to her then, the rules. She was doing the right thing, she was accepting her destiny and who she was. For the first time, she'd found friends in Percy and Annabeth and Thalia and Grover. And, even in little Nico. She spent summers with them, happy and content with her life for once. Then, Nico stopped being little and turned into someone she found herself drawn to.
They understood each other perfectly. Nico was always striving to please his father, who made it no secret how much he'd wished Nico's sister hadn't died and Rachel wanted nothing more than to disrupt her father's life plan for her. They bonded over daddy issues and grew closer. Suddenly, she realized how tall he was and how handsome. And cocky. And annoying. And....and just how perfect he was.
She knew she felt something strong for the son of Hades but it didn't matter- as the Oracle she'd taken a vow to be pure and virginal. She couldn't date, she couldn't be in love and she could not be with Nico di Angelo, no matter how much it hurt.
Rachel had made her peace with this a long time ago- the day she realized her feelings was the day she turned her back on them. But it was harder and harder to remember that when she saw him dancing around with pretty little blonds and brunettes. Never red-heads though.
Someone knocked on the door.
"Occupado." Rachel called.
"Dare? Open the door."
Rachel slipped off the counter and unlocked the door, stepping back as Thalia walked in and closing and locking the door behind her. The fifteen year old turned to the older woman and crossed her arms.
Thalia sighed. "Why?"
"Because I almost jumped Nico at the bar. Figured it was a good idea to stay away for a while."
Thalia almost laughed. She managed to keep a stern face and shake her head. "Rach, you've got to let it go."
Anger burned inside Rachel. "Easy for you to say. The only person who could make you break your Hunter vows is dead!"
Thalia stepped back as if she'd been slapped and Rachel went pale. "I'm so-"
The daughter of Zeus held up a hand. She took a deep breath and looked at Rachel, fury in her eyes. "It's not easy. Believe me, I know how hard it is, Rach. But, you've made a commitment and you can't back out. You know that."
Rachel nodded, furious with herself when she felt her eyes tear up. Thalia's gaze turned sympathetic.
"Let's get out of here. A wedding is no place for two single girls anyway; too much happiness and love and junk."
Rachel nodded in agreement and Thalia unlocked the bathroom door. They left, dodging glares from the women standing in line outside and headed back into the main room. The first thing Rachel saw was Nico pressed against a nearby wall, his date practically sucking his face off.
"I need a drink." Rachel muttered and stomped over to the bar, where she ordered something much stronger than a martini.
"Okay. One drink and then we're out of here." Thalia conceded.
"Lady Thalia, Lady Thalia!" a little girl ran up to them. She was eight, one of the younger Hunters, recently joined. She was a bottle of energy with the sunniest personality ever. "They are doing the Bunny Hop. We must join!"
"I don't really dance, Allegra." Thalia said, gently.
Allegra pushed out her lower lip and her eyes got all bright and pitiful. "Pleeeeeeeeease?"
Thalia sighed, defeated. She bet not even Kronos could turn down this little girl's puppy dog eyes. She turned to Rachel (who was on her second one drink) and spoke, "I'll be right back. Try not to do anything stupid, okay?"
Rachel toasted her with her glass. "Can do, boss."
Allegra squealed with delight and grabbed Thalia's hand, tugging her over to where a group of Hunters had assembled. Rachel finished her drink and asked for another. As the glass was placed in front of her, another hand grabbed it before she could.
"You should probably pace yourself."
"Shut up, Nico." she muttered. "And give me my alcohol."
He looked at her, worriedly. "Rach, how many have you had?"
Rachel's nose scrunched up as she tried to think and Nico tried to stop himself from thinking how adorable it was. "I had two at the start....two here with you and this is my third. Add in my champagne from earlier too."
Before he could stop her, she'd reached out and snagged and glass, downing it in one gulp. She lay it on the bar and Nico was quick to talk over her. "She's done. Trust me."
The bartender looked from Rachel to Nico and back again. He seemed to be weighing the possibilities of which one of the people standing in front of him would hurt him more. When Nico put some of the Underworld anger in his eyes, the bartender backed off.
Rachel crossed her arms and pouted (again, Nico couldn't help but see how adorable she looked). "You ruin all my fun."
"I'm Lord of the Dead. I suck the fun out of everything." he said, with a wink.
Her face flushed and she looked away from him. He hated her sudden mood change.
"Do I have to ground you now? Or take away your car or something? You should know better than to get trashed."
"Not trashed." Rachel mumbled.
She stumbled a little as she tried to walk and he caught her in his arms. She swayed gently before resting her head on his chest. He swallowed hard at her close proximity. Suddenly, her heard popped up.
"I love this song!"
Nico still heard the bunny-hop playing. Before he could comment, the music ended and was replaced with something else, something slower.
"Wanna dance?" he asked, before he could stop himself.
A small part of him wanted her to say no. It wanted him to walk away and leave her here, to wait for Thalia. But, when she turned those green eyes on him and nodded, he shut that part up and led her out onto the floor. When he turned to face her, she moved into his arms, throwing hers around his neck and resting her head on his shoulder. He sighed, almost peacefully and, they began to move.
Slowly they swayed, eyes closed and just enjoying each other. The moment. While Rachel knew dancing wasn't against the rules, she was treading on thin ice. This dance could lead to something extremely illegal. And, she hated to admit it, that excited her.
"Rach?" Nico asked, softly.
"Hmm." Her eyes were closed and, contrary to popular belief, he felt so warm.
"Do....do you ever regret becoming the Oracle?" he asked, not sure why but just knowing he needed to know.
He pulled back to look at her. "When?"
Rachel swallowed. "Whenever I'm with you."
Something lit up in his black eyes and he was staring at her in a way she'd never seen him look at anyone before. His hand reached up and cupped her cheek and she nuzzled it, sighing happily.
"Rach." he whispered and he started to lean down. He was inches away from her lips when she suddenly remembered this shouldn't be happening and she had to leave now. She pushed against his chest and he froze. Without meeting his eyes, she twisted out of his arms and took off, going in the opposite direction of where ever he was.
Thalia was laughing at some joke Grover was telling her. But the moment she saw Rachel, the laughter died and she hurried over to her friend.
"Are you okay? What happened."
"I'm fine. Can we just go. Please?"
Thalia nodded. "Let me say bye to the newly weds and I'll take you home. Unless, you're okay by yourself?"
Rachel shook her head. "I'll get my coat."
Thalia walked over to where Percy and Annabeth were seeing off guests. She smiled at the blond, who opened her arms for a hug and did as she asked. Despite her age, Thalia would always think of her as the little seven-year old she first met all those years ago.
"Congrats you guys. You deserve each other."
Percy grinned, throwing an arm casually around his bride. "Yeah, I figured I'd settle for this one. I mean," he stuttered as Annabeth turned her eyes of fury onto him, "I mean, she'd settle for me."
"Aw, you're so sweet, Seaweed Brain." Annabeth cooed sarcastically.
"Yeah, yeah." Percy muttered.
But then they looked at each other and in that moment no one else existed and Thalia knew their teasing was for naught. They loved each other more than anything and nothing could change that. Sadly, she thought of Luke and what might have happened if things had gone differently....but then she shook that idea out of her head. Her duty was to Artemis.
"Rachel and I are gonna go. She needs help getting back to her place, she got a little....tispy."
Percy laughed and Annabeth thwacked his chest. The two girls shared a look and the bride nodded in understanding; Thalia wasn't the only one Rachel confided in.
"Tell her that we hope she feels better and we'll see her in a week."
"Will do." Thalia promised. Then, she hugged both of them and gave her congratulations one more time.
The coat room was surprisingly small and cramped and it took Rachel forever to find her coat. When she finally did, and turned to the exit, she jumped for the second time that night. For the same reason.
"Nico! Trying to give me a heart attack?"
The Italian smirked. "Not my fault you keep falling for the same old trick."
She rolled her eyes and tried to move past him. But he wouldn't budge and there really wasn't any room to move around him. So, she crossed her arms over her chest and stared defiantly at him.
"What do you want?"
"To talk. About what happened on the dance floor."
"Nico," she whispered, all traces of hostility gone. "We can't, okay?"
"Can't talk about it?"
"Not even a little."
"Not at all."
"Not a smidgen?"
"Nico." Rachel smiled and Nico grinned. "We can't."
"I know. I know that we can't and I know that you're sworn to be pure and virginal and all that shit-"
"-and I accept that. I do, Rach. And, I accept that it sucks. Especially because....there's no one else out there who makes me feel the way you do."
"If you're trying to break my resolve, you're doing a wonderful job." Rachel whispered.
Nico smirked. "Look....you can't be the Oracle forever, right? Someone will have to come along and take your place."
"Yeah. When I die."
"Or, maybe before that. Maybe the new Oracle is out there, confused and wondering what's wrong with her. And, maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, she'll find out her destiny. And, you'll be free."
"Yeah, but that could be years from now, Nico."
"I know. I'll wait."
There was a silence.
"What?" Rachel asked, breathlessly.
"I'll wait for you. There's no one else I want to be with, Dare. You're worth waiting for."
"Nico." she whispered, her eyes full of tears, happy ones that made her smile.
She threw herself into his arms and he held her close and they hugged. When they pulled away, he looked at her for a moment, before pressing their foreheads together and Rachel sighed peacefully at how right it felt in his arms.
"I....I should go. Thalia's looking for me."
He nodded, cupping her cheek for the second time. He didn't lean in to kiss her, just looked at her, his eyes conveying everything he couldn't speak. She smiled softly and he dropped his hand and stepped aside so she could leave.
Thalia caught her in the hallway. She looked at Rachel, then at Nico (who'd followed her out). The demigod and Oracle shared a final look before he turned and headed back to the main room.
"Everything okay?" Thalia asked.
Rachel nodded. "Everythings fine." She smiled. "At least, it will be."
Thanks again for reading!