I'm exhausted, and should be sleeping, but this plot bunny would not go away after I read a few very amazing Rachel/Nico stories. I highly recommend "Death's Dare" by Kioko and "When Doom Met Death" by Musafreen. Mine cannot rival theirs, and is a bit too much on the cheesy side...but when plot bunnies attack...
Hope it is mildly enjoyable!
To set the scene: Nico is about 22 here, and Rachel is about 25. She is, of course, still the Oracle and sworn to keep her virginity- but Nico wishes the situation was different.
He knew he shouldn't have snooped. And he was usually pretty good about respecting her boundaries.
...but this time, the temptation had simply been too much.
It had all started innocently enough.
Nico had been on route to the kitchen to grab them another bowl of popcorn, which had required him to pass by Rachel's room. She had left the door open, and his eyes had instantly been drawn to the large canvas she had leaned against the foot of her bed- it was some sort of abstract thing, full of yellow and red swirls. Frankly, he didn't understand what it was supposed to be, but there was no way in Hades he would ever tell her that-she had already given him enough lectures about modern art to last a lifetime. Nevertheless, the bright colours momentarily caught his eye, and he paused for a moment to survey her latest work, deciding that it was pleasant (if a bit incomprehensible).
It really wasn't his fault that the vibrant painting had been in his line of vision- and he would have kept walking if it hadn't been for the second item which caught his eye.
At first, he was ready to just ignore it- he could hear the movie playing in the living room, and he had promised Rachel that he would be back with the popcorn before she could say "Olympus"...but this was just too hard to resist.
He never would have thought that Rachel Elizabeth Dare- the oracle of Apollo and sworn virgin...the girl who liked to joke that getting rid of men would solve all of the world's problems-would have had that sort of publication laying around in her room.
But now that he had caught a glimpse of it, Nico knew that he would not be able to relax until he took a closer look and confirmed what he had seen.
So, against his better judgement, he had given into temptation and entered the room.
With two quick strides, he reached the bed and his eyes widened with shock.
It was exactly what he thought it was.
Cautiously, Nico reached out for the magazine- which Rachel had, apparently, left open on her bed. He flipped to the front cover and, after taking note of the buff, olive skinned man who graced the opening page, his eyes drifted towards the title.
Ragazza del Gico
His Italian wasn't perfect, but the young man knew enough to know what that meant, and he could not suppress the smirk that was tugging at his lips...
It took a moment for everything to sink in.
Rachel owned an issue of Playgirl...an Italian issue, nonetheless.
Clearly, the Oracle wasn't quite as innocent as she liked to claim.
He wondered what Apollo would think.
Grinning, Nico began to flip through the pages of nearly-naked men, noticing that the magazine looked very well read. Several of the pages were bent, the spine was cracked, and one or two pictures had been carefully cut out.
The thought of her leafing through such a scandalous magazine, alone at night in her dimly lit room, sent an involuntarily surge of pleasure through his body. He couldn't deny it- Nico Di Angelo was head over heels for Rachel Elizabeth Dare, and (if it hadn't been for the whole virginal Oracle thing) he would have acted on his feelings a long time ago.
Now that he had grown out of his teenage years he had learned how to be around her without turning into a blabbering, hormone crazed idiot- and the two had even managed to build up a friendship. But, as great as it was to meet up at a cafe or watch a movie in her apartment on a Thursday night, he knew that he would always want more.
She was beautiful, and brilliant, funny, and absolutely insane.
In other words, she was perfect, and he had never wanted anyone more than he wanted her. But he had long ago resigned himself to the fact that it was not meant to be.
Rachel was the Oracle.
He was the loner Son of Hades.
And she had absolutely no interest in men.
...or at least, that was what he had thought.
Now, standing in her room with an Italian issue of Playgirl in his hands, Nico began to wonder if part of his assessment had been incorrect.
Maybe she did have...desires...after all. He smirked again as he took another glance down at the scandalous publication- and maybe, if he was really lucky, he was even her "type."
He was, after all, half-Italian- and his demigod genes and years of training had given him a healthy build.
Dare he hope...
"What the hell are you doing!"
His head snapped towards the doorway where he could see Rachel glaring at him in annoyance.
"The popcorn is in the kitchen, not hiding under my pillow, dead boy." She said, her irritation clear. "There had better be a good reason why you're snooping around my room."
The girl folded her arms across her chest, and (despite the sticky situation he was now in) Nico found himself wishing that he could wipe away her frown with an unforgettably daring kiss.
Gods, even in an old t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, she was nearly irresistible. It was driving him mad, and he knew it was only a matter a time before certain body parts began to...react.
He knew he should have apologised...and if he hadn't been feeling so impulsive, then maybe he would have. But his new discovery, combined with the sight of her in front of him, gave him a surge of reckless confidence.
"I didn't intend to." He began, shooting her a sly smile. "But then I caught sight of this, and my curiosity got the best of me."
Nico held up the magazine, and was very satisfied to see a very uncharacteristic blush spread across cheeks.
He had her now.
"I...but..." She stuttered. Clearly, all of her regular composure and bravado were failing her. "You still shouldn't be snooping! And I only bought that for one of my art classes."
He raised a dark eyebrow. "Your professor made everyone buy an Italian issue of Playgirl?"
Her response was too quick, and he could tell by the continued redness of her cheeks that she was lying.
Nico smirked again, taking a few steps towards her- the raunchy item still clutched in his hand. He was determined to get the truth out of her one way or another and, once she was within his reach, he spoke.
"Sorry, Dare. I don't believe you."
She stuck out her chin, her eyes flashing with a defiance that was so unmistakably Rachel. Perhaps he was a bit twisted, but there were few things that Nico found hotter than her steely determination and her rebellious glare.
He wondered if she had any idea how much he wanted her right now...
"Well, go ahead then." She snapped. "If you think you have it all figured out, tell me what you do believe."
The young man hesitated.
He had been sure that she would continue to deny and had been bracing himself for more of an argument. Some of the fights that had had lately made Percy and Annabeth's squabbles look tame in comparison, and he thought that he would receive a good verbal lashing from the fiery redhead.
Instead, she was giving him an opening, and a part of him wondered if she wanted him to discover the truth. He knew that he had to choose his words wisely.
"I believe..." he began, with more audacity than he felt "That the not-so-innocent Oracle of Apollo has a thing for Italian men."
He held his breath, trying desperately to read the indecipherable expression on her face. For a second, she looked completely blank- aside from the noticeable flush on her freckled cheeks. Soon, however, the smallest of smiles began to tug at her lips and her eyes looked up to meet his.
"Is that so?" She said, the anger fading from her voice. The young woman looked mildly amused now and, after another pause, she took a step towards him- making sure not to let her stare falter.
There were mere inches between them now, and Nico yearned to close the gap. This was driving him insane, and it took every ounce of control to maintain his composure...and ignore the increasing tightness of his jeans.
He was pretty sure he was going to have to jump in a bucket of ice after this.
Gods, she was going to drive him to insanity before he made it to twenty-four.
"But even if that was true," Rachel continued with a small grin, her warm breath brushing against his neck. "Why does it matter to you?"
He shrugged, trying his best to look nonchalant. He refused to let her get the upper-hand and, as much as the tension was killing him, he wasn't prepared to let it end just yet- which, he supposed, made him a bit of a masochist.
"It doesn't. I was just surprised to discover that the man-hating Oracle has a bit of a weakness after all." He replied, leaning ever so slightly closer as he spoke. "Apparently, not all members of the inferior gender are completely undesirable."
"Maybe that's true." She admitted playfully, snatching the magazine out of his hand with one quick swipe.
She glanced down at it for a moment, before looking back up at him with a look he could not quite define.
"But I only like the Mediterranean variety." The girl concluded. "Let me know if you come across any single Italian guys who might be interested in risking the wrath of Apollo."
And with that, she flashed him another smile and began to turn away- clearly pleased with how she had played the game. Nico, however, wasn't ready to let it end just yet. He could tell from the mischievous glint in her eye that she knew she was baiting him, and he was going to take his opportunity.
Forget Apollo and his silly oaths.
Maybe he was a hopeless romantic, but one moment with Rachel seemed worth any sacrifice.
He had already waited too long.
"L'attesa non va."
Letting his impulsive demigod reflexes kick in, he reached out for her hand. In one swift motion, he twirled her back towards him and drew her close. There was less than an inch between them, and he could feel the warmth radiating off of her. It was almost too much to handle and he once again found himself struggling to stay calm.
Thankfully, he managed to keep it together and shot her his best suave grin.
"Would you settle for a half-Italian?"
Rachel smiled. "Only if his other half is Greek god."
"Perfect-" He replied, his pulse pounding. "Then I think I might know someone."
She opened her mouth to respond, but before she had a chance he placed his arms around her waist and drew her close, amused by the shocked expression on her face. But, instead of kissing her, he decided that there was one more impulsive whim he had to follow.
Seconds later, the shadows absorbed them- whisking them to a location that Nico had once wished he could take her, but never imagined he would.
If they only had one moment, he wanted to make sure it was perfect.
When they reappeared, he didn't let go, and he watched in satisfaction as his companion looked around in awe.
Once she regained her bearings (which was harder for her than it was for a demigod) Rachel surveyed her surroundings and her eyes widened in surprise.
"Nico, are we in..."
"Venice." He finished. "We shadow travelled."
It was late in Italy, and Nico was relieved to see that no one else was around to see their unconventional arrival. He was rather pleased with his navigational abilities (which had gotten better over the years), and was happy that they had reappeared right where he had intended- right in the middle of the Bridge of Sighs.
The only sound they could hear was the gentle lapping of the water below, and their surroundings were illumined by the refection of the moon on the canal.
Yep. Nico Di Angelo was pretty sure that he had created the perfect moment.
And thankfully, Rachel agreed.
"This is amazing." She whispered, still trying to take in all of the sights. After another pause, she turned back to face him. "You're right, dead-boy, maybe some members of the inferior gender aren't so bad after all...especially those of the half-Italian half-god variety."
Nico grinned and, unable to resist any longer, drew her towards him.
"Glad to hear it. And luckily, I have a weakness for redheaded artistic girls of the forbidden Oracle of Delphi variety."
And with that, he leaned towards her, capturing her lips with a passionate kiss.
Rachel would later admit that it had been better than anything in her favourite magazine.
A/N Apologies for the very bad Italian translations- I don't speak any Italian and just used a simple online dictionary.
Hope that was amusing- let me know!