Hey! I'm baaack! Christmas break is awesome; it gives me time to finish these! So, here's a NicoRachel one. I know that some people don't like this pairing, but thanks to writers like Musafreen and Kioko, I freaking fell in love with it. I was gonna post this earlier, but I had no time.

Disclaimer: I don't own Percy Jackson. I don't own Nico, either *sob*


La Vita è Bella
Oracles weren't supposed to deal with affairs of the heart.

The thing about being the Oracle of Delphi was that she was in the constant presence of demigods. Of course, it didn't help her 'no-dating' policy that all demigods were genetically attractive. It also didn't help that her best friend fell under said category of gorgeous godlings – all five feet eleven inches of his dark, brooding, half-Italian self.

Looking back on it, Rachel probably wouldn't have accepted the curse of being eternally single. That is, if she had known Nico di Angelo would grow up to be this hot. Alas, not even the spirit of the Oracle saw that one coming. And because of this, the twenty-three-year-old went ahead and practically became the poster girl for the saying: "look, but don't touch."

Her life was just fantastic, wasn't it?

Yeah, 'cause being single forever and getting mugged by the future from time to time just screams awesome. She thought sarcastically as she sat on her posh sofa, staring at the ceiling of her apartment.

Actually, Rachel was supposed to be working on a painting for an exhibit set next week. Sadly, after staring at an empty canvas for half an hour in her studio, the Oracle of Delphi just had to accept the fact that inspiration wasn't going to hit her like a ton of bricks today. So she stood up, left her studio, and sat on her living room couch, where she found herself thinking about her current life as the Oracle.

Barely ten minutes passed before she felt something shift in the atmosphere, like there was this sensation tingling at the back of her mind. Rachel sighed – partly exhasperated, partly giddy (and she cursed herself for feeling so) – because she knew what this meant. Without bothering to move, she hollered, "I know you're there! Just come out already!"

"Hey, Red." A voice whispered in her ear, causing shivers to run down her spine.

Holy Zeus. She knew he was somewhere around, but she didn't know he was that close. She turned around from her position on her couch to face the owner of the voice.

Leaning casually on the back of her sofa – while looking incredibly gorgeous and incredibly off-limits – was Nico di Angelo, the nineteen-year-old son of Hades.

That figures. Speak of the child of Hades, and the child of Hades shall appear.

"What do you want, Nico?" Rachel told him. She rubbed her ear furiously, desperately trying to forget how good his hot breath felt there only seconds ago. (She failed, by the way.)

Nico easily lifted himself over the backrest of the couch before plopping down next to her. He let a small smirk dance across his face.

"What, I can't spend some quality time with my best friend?"

"Not when you're supposed to be in college on the other side of town." She retorted. "What's wrong, di Angelo? No mortals wanna hang with you and your dead kid aura?"

"Harsh, Red." Rachel narrowed her eyes.

"Stop calling me that!" But Nico just chuckled and flashed her that infuriating smile. It was infuriating because it was so not fair that he could make her breath catch with that stupid grin of his. Her heart really should stop malfunctioning at these times because dammit if this kept up she would-

"How'd you know I was here, anyway?" He interrupted her train of thought, tilting his head to the side curiously. Rachel froze, completely forgetting about her inner ranting.

Um...Uhh...shit.

She couldn't exactly say that she was always hyper-aware of his presence (that was soclichéit wasn't even funny anymore); that would not end up pretty. At all. So instead, the redhead resorted to making something up. She could pull this kind of stuff off pretty well... most of the time.

"No offense, di Angelo, but you have the stealth of an elephant in a pink tutu."

Rachel idly wondered if she had any sane brain cells left.

The son of Hades raised an eyebrow. "Really now? Percy and Annabeth seemed to think otherwise." He amusedly recalled Annabeth's uncharacteristic shriek and Percy's indignant shout of "Holy Zeus, Nico! Stop doing that dammit! Use the door next time!" a few days prior.

Rachel just scoffed and headed for the kitchen to get them some coffee. That, and she needed to get away from her best friend before she got the urge to do something very unbecoming of an Oracle.

"That's because they were probably too busy wrapped up with each other to see you coming." She pointed out in retaliation. Whenever Percy and Annabeth were attached at the lips, the Oracle of Delphi doubted they noticed much of anything.

"Fair point." She heard him say. After that, she felt a shift in the air, and she knew – in that way she could never explain – Nico had shadow traveled again. But where...?

She gasped and turned around. True enough, Nico was there, his smirking face mere inches from hers. His strong arms were on either side of her, trapping her against the kitchen counter.

Holy-

"Still, I think I'm much stealthier than you say." Her breath hitched at their close proximity. His eyes were gorgeous up close, glittering with amusement like that. And his lips looked so soft-

Whoa, Rachel. Let's not go there.

"Could've fooled me." She muttered, a hint of pink tinting her cheeks.

"Hmm... Let's see about that. Hey Rach, let's play a game."

Now it was her turn to raise an eyebrow. "What kind of game?" Knowing Nico, this was going to be entertaining... If not potentially embarrassing.

Still, anything to distract me from his... overall gorgeousness sounds good to me.

"I bet I can surprise you in the next ten minutes. If I win, you take back your claim. If you win, I'll..."

"You'll be my personal bodyguard for my exhibit next week." She finished. He nodded.

"It's a deal."

Then his smile softened. His eyes looked like molten chocolate, which only made Rachel's heart beat even faster and she's thinking Heart, you better shut up or else-

"You never saw this coming, did you?"

-What did I get myself into?

"Nico what are you- mmph!"

Holy mother of Apollo.

Nico di Angelo was freaking kissing her.

Before Rachel's mind could comprehend what she was doing, her hands buried themselves into his hair and she kissed him back fiercely. Let's face it; she'd been waiting for this moment to happen since he turned seventeen and passed Percy on the hotness scale (although, she admitted she might've been a bit biased on that).

And – oh gods, was that Nico tugging on her bottom lip? - she couldn't deny that she had real, genuine feelings for the boy. She liked Nico, that much she could admit. He looked past the money, the freaky Oracle of Delphi gig, and just saw Rachel. And, well, not many people could do that.

Rachel was sure that, if oxygen wasn't a necessity, neither of them would have pulled away. But they did, and once her addled brain was more or less functional, her eyes widened in realization and she pushed the boy away.

"Oh, nonononononono. That did not just happen. You did not just kiss me!" She exclaimed, a little frantic.

"Rach, I know you'd be surprised but I didn't think you'd be this thrown off-" She shoved him and stormed back into the living room.

"What the hell, Nico? I'm the Oracle. That means I'm off-limits-"

"If I remember correctly, you were kissing bac-"

"Shut up! I'm serious here!" She screamed in frustration. She threw herself down on the couch, clutching her head in her hands. The son of Hades sat down next to her as she continued, swallowing. "This isn't a game, Nico. You can't just mess with my feelings like that!"

He stared at her. "You didn't honestly think I kissed you just because, did you?"

"Why else would you?" Rachel shot back instantly. Defeated, she slumped back onto the sofa and drew in a shaky breath.

"You knew all along, didn't you? You knew that I liked you. That's why you act the way you do. But we can't-- you know it's forbidden, di Angelo!" She was ranting now, her thoughts just spilling haphazardly out of her mouth. With every word she said, the puzzle pieces in Nico's head slowly came together. "You shouldn't have done that! You can't just- My heart isn't just some toy you can play with and throw away when you don't want it anymore-"

"You're scared, aren't you?" That got her to stop. Nico cupped her cheek and turned her face towards him. Even so, she stubbornly refused to meet his eyes.

"Rach, look at me." No answer. The son of Hades sighed.

"If you're not going to look, just listen, please." He continued. "Rach, I don't know what's going on in that head of yours, but you have to take my word for it when I say I'm not messing around. I like you, Dare. I know I'm not supposed to feel this way, but you... Gods, I can't even begin to explain what you do to me. And for what it's worth, I didn't know you had any feelings for me.

"Believe me when I say I never planned on acting on my emotions. Of all people, I should know how forbidden it is. Hell, my dad and Apollo nearly blew a fuse when they found out we were even friends. But there's something here between us. I can feel it every damn time I'm near you. Please, Rachel. I wouldn't have taken this chance if I wasn't serious about you." He finished, a subtle desperation in his voice.

Throughout all of this, Rachel stayed silent. Her mind was still reeling because of what he first said. Nico didn't know it, but what he said hit much too close to home.

Seven years ago, Rachel Elizabeth Dare became the Oracle because – no matter how many times she denied it – there was a small part of her that just didn't want to deal with affairs of the heart anymore. She already had her heart broken once, and while Percy didn't know about it (nor did she make a big deal out of it), she didn't want to face the same kind of hurt ever again.

But Nico isn't Percy.

She knew that much, of course. Nico was more playful, with a delicious twist in his sarcasm that even Percy couldn't pull off. He matched her headstrong attitude with his own stubborn personality. She didn't understand his actions half the time and he just didn't get her abstract paintings at all, but he knew her better than anyone else did. He was annoying at times, but he always looked out for her. He made her feel things so powerful that she even thought of going against the rules. He was Nico. Simple as that. He wouldn't hurt her. Not like Percy unknowingly did.

As thoughts of the demigod swirled around in her head, she realized something.

If she was going to take a chance with anybody, it would be with Nico. It always has been.

"Red?" Nico called out softly. When she looked up, his deep brown eyes showed hesitance and a little fear. It dawned on her that – now that both of their feelings were out in the open – he was risking as much as she was. (After all, he was the one who faced fiery obliteration a la Apollo.) But what really made her breath catch and her heart beat erractically was the other emotion she could see. She couldn't put a name to it, but the Oracle always saw it in Percy's eyes whenever he looked at Annabeth.

A small part of her – the one she locked away seven years ago – reminded her that she always wanted someone to look at her like that. And now that Nico was that someone, she thought: why not?

Rachel sighed theatrically.

"You're infuriating. You know that, right?" Nico looked at her quizzically, not saying a word. Rachel rolled her eyes playfully. "Do I have to do everything?"

She grinned, tugging him by the lapels of his jacket and pulling him even closer than they were a while ago. She felt his lips mold into a hopeful smile against hers as she whispered:

"Oracle of Delphi, at your service."

There were times when Rachel honestly viewed being the Oracle as a curse. But, looking back on it, she would have missed out on a lot of the important events in her life if she hadn't. I mean, she met Nico because she chose to be the Oracle, right? And if she had Nico di Angelo by her side, then life as the Oracle of Delphi couldn't be that bad...

"Hey Red, still think I'm about as stealthy as an elephant in a pink tutu?"

Ah, screw it.

"Nico, just shut up and kiss me."

Life was effin' beautiful.


...What the fudgery was THAT? D:

This totally did not end up the way I wanted it to. Freaking drama twist in the middle. I might rewrite this sometime in the future. But in the meantime, review! I know it wasn't that good (it was thrown together for the most part), but any suggestion you have is welcomed : D

Oh, by the way, if all you're going to comment on is the pairing, please don't review anymore. I saw a review in another NicoRachel fic once, saying that 'Nico belonged to Thalia. Just saying.' It kinda made me sad. So... there.

Happy holidays, everyone~!