"I think I'm going to ask her to marry me."
Remarkably, he stays completely calm. Only the increased beating of his heart gives anything away but that's safe in his chest (for now).
"You think so or you're going to?"
Percy grinned up at the clouds. "I've talked. To Athena, I mean. And my dad."
"I'll take that to mean you're going to."
His grin won't subside. Usually Percy's smile was contagious but the scowl stays on his face.
"Congratulations." He really, truly tries to sound sincere. Percy has been a good friend, a favour he hasn't always reciprocated. But it just sounds hollow.
"Do you think she'll say yes?"
Nico has to roll his eyes at the fact that he's even asking. "Of course she'll say yes. Don't be stupid."
Percy grins. The smile he forces on his lips is almost painful.
"I'm going to ask her tonight."
He has no words of encouragement. Nor does he clap him on his back and grin. He really will make a terrible groomsman.
"Congratulations," is all he says in that same hollow voice.
She says yes. Obviously.
Actually, she screams yes. And throws herself in his arms. And cries. A lot of people cry, actually. Especially Grover.
He thinks about his father, how he had tricked Persephone into staying with him.
Maybe that's the way to go.
"You know I don't just spit out prophecies on command." Rachel Elizabeth Dare glares at him as he watches her eat her food. She hadn't known why he had called her. Now she did. "Call up the psychic network if you're so desperate."
"You don't cost as much."
"How can I? You took me to McDonald's for lunch."
"What do you think? I don't want a prophecy. Just what you think."
She doesn't say anything for a while, as if trying to put this nicely. Then she says, "I think they're going to be together for a long time."
"Grover! If you eat that tux, you have to buy it."
Grover abruptly turns away from the white suit hanging on the wall and says, "I wasn't planning on it."
Nico leans against the wall, watching Percy as he pulls awkwardly on the sleeves of his tux. He doesn't look at all comfortable wearing it. His green eyes stare at his reflection in the mirror with worry creasing his features.
"Is this one alright?"
"You're really asking me?"
Percy turns to Grover. "What do you think, G-man?"
Grover shrugs. "I'd eat it."
"You'd eat anything."
Grover shrugs once again.
"Maybe I should just get married naked."
Nico starts to cough. A lot.
"Now, now. We'll find something, don't you worry." The woman coos, adjusting something on the tux that Nico thinks might be called lapels, or something. Percy groans. Grover bleats. Nico leans back against the wall and closes his eyes.
He remembers the days when he used to hate Percy Jackson. He wishes he could go back to them.
He's lost track of the amount of alcohol Percy has drank.
The party is over now and mostly everyone is passed out on the ground. Grover is lying on the floor surrounded in half eaten beer cans. Malcolm from the Apollo cabin is asleep with a thong on his head. Chris Rodriguez is drooling on the table. Damn, those Party Ponies knew how to throw a party.
Percy is singing a song about Annabeth.
"Annabeth... you're such a pretty-beth... I love you so much-abeth... oh Annabeth... Annabeth Jackson... oh, Annabeth..."
Nico throws back a shot. "That's a very beautiful song."
"She's a very beautiful song. No... wait."
Nico giggles. Nico was so drunk that he giggled.
"How... drunk are, youuuuuuuuu?"
Percy giggles. It's a bloody giggle fest. Travis and Connor Stoll roll over in their sleep. Percy had made the mistake of saying he wasn't allowing female strippers, so the brothers had taken it upon themselves to take over the job.
"I'm not drunk." Then he lets out a laugh. "I'm totally drunk."
Grover bleats in his sleep. Nico imitates him, Percy following him. Soon they're both bleating like sheep.
Suddenly, a bra that had previously held Travis Stoll's fake boobs flies up and whips Percy across the face. "Shut up!" He mutters, his dress riding up just a bit too high on his thighs. Percy makes a face.
"I don't... need to see that."
Nico giggles again. He throws back another shot for confidence, grabs Percy's hand, and pulls him away from the sleeping men. "Come on, they're all passed out anyway."
"I'm about to pass out," Percy mutters, letting Nico drag him away. He slumps against the kitchen counter and Nico stands next to him. He's still holding his hand. Percy doesn't seem to notice.
"How drunk are you?" He asks again, this time in a whisper. Percy's eyes are closed.
"Very drunk. Very very drunk."
"Drunk enough to not remember?"
Percy's lips lift in a little bit of a grin. His eyes are still closed. "Drunk enough to not remember forgetting."
Nico suddenly surges forward and, with his hand still in Percy's, kisses him full on the mouth. He doesn't even wait to see how Percy will respond before he opens his mouth and slides his tongue in between Percy's teeth. Percy's other hand is gripped around his wrist but he doesn't know if this is to push him away or not.
After Nico pulls away Percy says, so quietly Nico can't tell whether or not he's angry, "I don't think I'm drunk enough to forget that."
Nico doesn't say anything, just presses his lips to his again and Percy's hands come up to his face, cupping it softly, and his heart leaps in his chest but then Percy is pushing him away.
Nico looks around but there's no more alcohol. He looks at Percy, who looks like he's already trying to forget what just happened.
"Please. Act like nothing happened. I- I'm sorry, Percy."
Then he runs out the door, almost falling over one of Connor's stray high heels.
The next day Percy is standing in front of the mirror, his face pale white.
"Percy, where are you shoes?"
"I drank them."
Grover is running around frantically, chewing on a flower. Nico walks out of the shadows and holds up the shoes.
"They were behind the door."
For a long moment, they stare at each other. Nico isn't sure if Percy remembers or not but he knows something's up from that stare.
Then he erupts into a grin.
"Thought you weren't gonna show up."
He hands them the shoes and their hands brush. "I wouldn't do that to you," he says, so quietly Grover doesn't hear.
Percy and Nico both hold onto the shoes for seven long seconds and then he says, "The last thing I remember about last night is Connor falling half naked onto Malcolm, and Malcolm punching him in the jaw. What about you?"
Nico looks into his eyes and he sees the pleading, begging him to forget about it. To pretend it didn't happen. That's what he had told him last night. Act like nothing happened.
"I thought that was Travis?"
Another grin. "No, Travis was in the red underwear. Connor was wearing yellow."
"Oh right. I can't remember much."
"Yeah. Me neither."
In an hour or so Percy is standing up at the altar and Annabeth is grinning up at him. She's practically glowing. He can see Athena scowling and Poseidon, despite his best efforts not to seem pleased, keeps accidently turning the sprinklers on every time he grins. The few mortals grumble and complain but no one else pays it much attention.
Percy will try to pretend that everything is the same but they can't look at each other in the eye anymore without feeling awkward and there's always a large bubble of space separating them as if Percy is afraid to get too close. Every time Nico is around Percy will clasp onto Annabeth, unconsciously (or maybe not so unconsciously) sending out the message that he is taken and he loves her.
(Her, her, he loves her.)
As time passes, the bubble decreases and he stops clasping onto Annabeth. Occasionally he even makes eye contact.
He may have forgotten about it.
Nico certainly has not.