Fandom: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Rick Riordan
Story Title: "The Five Times Someone Felt Left Out (And How They Were All Rectified with Kisses)"
Character/Relationships: Percy/Annabeth/Nico, Percy/Nico/Rachel, Nico/Rachel/Annabeth, Rachel/Annabeth/Percy, Percy/Nico/Annabeth/Rachel
Warnings: Some mild sexual content.
Wordcount: 3,150/~15,000... this one ran away from me.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. All characters, settings, and proprietary language are owned by the author of the work from which this is derived.
The Five Times Someone Felt Left Out (And How They Were All Rectified with Kisses)
Everything was different after that week, but… nothing was different. Nico still lived with Annabeth and loved her, quietly, and she baked him cookies and made him macaroni and cheese with crumbled crackers on top and little cut-up hot dogs. His skin faded back into its deathly pallor; do not pass tan, do not collect 200 drachmas.
Percy still left, at the end of ten days, and went back to NYU.
But now, Nico shied away from the advances of his gothy fangirls (and boys) the way mortals and normal demigods shied away from graveyards.
Now, Annabeth dug some of the little cheeky shorts and tank tops out of the boxes in her closet, and wore them when the Los Angeles springtime got too hot for her New York sensibilities.
Now, sometimes, it was Nico who got a phone call from Percy in the middle of the night, low, dirty words to help his hands along.
For the first time since he lived in a crappy dormitory at a bullshit military school, Nico felt –
Well, it'd be cliché to say that it was the first time he felt loved. Maybe 'wanted' is more appropriate, although that casts Bianca in a bit of an incestuous light.
Nico felt happy. Blissful, even. Completely content.
So it was sort of a shock when he shadowtraveled into Percy's dorm at NYU one Friday night when Annabeth would be gone for the weekend on some stupid architecture field trip – really, an architecture field trip? Bo-ring – and Percy was curled up on the end of the bed, Rachel Elizabeth Dare's freckled legs over his shoulders and his face buried beneath her paint-spattered skirt.
"What the fuck?" Nico cried – dangerously close to shrieking, because, well, he's Nico di Angelo and some things never really change. "Percy, what the –how did – I didn't – who did – Annabeth – Rachel – how did – Apollo – what?"
"Nico – " Rachel started, her breath stuttering as –
"Percy, stop that right now!" Nico yelled, stomping his foot and not even feeling silly about it, because Percy needed to stop that right now, why wasn't he stopping this?. "I'm calling Annabeth! And she's supposed to be looking at like – like buttresses right now! You know how much she loves buttresses! She will be so angry!"
Percy finally lifted his head and sighed. "She'll be more angry about you interrupting her buttress field trip than about me and Rachel?"
"Yes!" Nico said triumphantly. "I mean, no!"
"You were right the first time," Percy said dryly, blinking up at Nico from where his head rested on Rachel's knee. "Don't interrupt her field trip, she'll kill you."
"She'll kill you!" Nico argued. "You're cheating on the only person who knows where your Achilles spot is! Your head really is full of kelp."
Percy met Nico's eyes. "Was she cheating on me this morning?"
Nico sort of squeaked. And sort of spluttered. And kind of blushed. Not really quite any of those, but sort of something in the middle. It wasn't an attractive moment for Nico di Angelo.
"That's – that's different," Nico said. "It's – you aren't there anymore. You left us. And that's – it's not my – " Nico shook his head and black curls fell into his eyes. "I thought we were – it's different."
"Nico," Rachel said gently, reaching for him. Nico shrank back. "Nico – it – Annabeth knows."
"No way," Nico said, shaking his head. His black eyes burned and Rachel felt the fear rising in her. "You have – you have no idea how much Annabeth loves Percy, Rachel Elizabeth Dare. You have no idea."
And he melted into the shadows.
Annabeth was showering off a long day of architectural walking tours when Nico stepped out of the shadows in her hotel room. He sat on the little counter and leaned back against the cool mirror, watching her long, familiar form through the whorled, trying-too-hard hotel glass.
"Rachel called me," Annabeth said into the spray as she lathers her blonde hair. It's finally long again. Nico and Percy both like the way it looks draped across their hips. She didn't need to raise her voice over the pound of the water to be heard.
Nico didn't say anything. He just knocked his heels against the cabinetry.
"It was my idea," Annabeth said, turning around to rinse the bubbles out of her hair. "After you and he – well, you and I, we're out here. And Percy's alone out there, and so is Rachel, and I was just like… well. We all like Rachel."
"I don't like Rachel," Nico argued, still sitting stubbornly on the counter.
"Since everyone decided not to tell me about her," Nico said, still knocking his heels against the cabinetry. One foot fell in and out of shadow; a divine magic trick. "I thought it was you and me and Percy and it was like – I don't know."
Annabeth stuck her head out of the glass doors and stared at him with that steely gray glint that made him cower whenever he'd done something wrong. "We fucking love you, Nico di Angelo, you know that."
"Then why does he need her?"
Annabeth looked tired. "Why did I need you?"
Nico finally stopped knocking. "Are you mad at me?"
Annabeth stepped back into the water. "No. But I want you to spend tonight with Percy and Rachel."
Nico slid down from the counter and sidled over to the shower doors. "But I could spend it with you."
Annabeth smirked. "The water's already getting cold, kid. Percy's not here, remember?"
"There's a bed," Nico said, pulling his t-shirt off and dropping it into a pile on the floor. "There's the floor. There's a lovely counter, it supports my weight."
Annabeth laughed and shoved at his chest. "I'm sure it does, skeleton boy. But I want you to spend tonight with Percy and Rachel. They're worried about you."
"Rachel has no reason to be worried about me," Nico disagreed, unbuttoning the fly of his jeans. "I barely know her. And I'd rather not get zapped to death by Apollo, thanks very much."
"You won't," Annabeth said, sighing as Nico stepped into the shower behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. Compared to Percy, his skin was always so cold. It took a while to get used to, but she liked it now; her boys, one warm sunshine and water and one cold gold and earth. The cradle of his hipbones pressed into her back. They were about the same height now; he must have hit a growth spurt in the last few weeks that had slipped right past her. "They have a system."
"They have a system," Nico repeated dryly. "The Virgin Oracle of Delphi has a system for having sex – wait, no, not even just sex, is it? – threesomes, without getting everyone blown up by the sun god. Okay. That's logical."
Annabeth shrugged and Nico kissed her shoulder. "I never said it was logical. But Apollo likes Rachel. He just wants her to be happy." She twisted in Nico's arms and kissed the underside of his jaw, just where the stubble was starting to come in. It was another new feature, and Nico was rather proud of it.
All at once it struck Annabeth that Nico seemed to be growing up in fast forward ever since she and Percy had invited him into bed; he was getting taller and filling out and becoming a man and she wonders, idly, if somehow they'd given his time-frozen body some sort of cue to jumpstart. "Don't you want everyone to be happy?"
Nico made a grumbling sound. "Oh, don't even try it. I'm the son of Hades. You're lucky if I want people to be mildly unfrightened."
Nico's hair was still wet when he reappeared in Percy's dorm room, and he still hadn't shaved off the dark shadow under his jaw. He stared at the bed, where Percy sat with his head in his hands and Rachel knelt beside him, rubbing his back. At least everyone's clothing was on this time.
"I already know Annabeth called you and said I was coming back," Nico said. "So you don't have to pretend to be all sad."
Percy looked up. His brow knit over his dark, raging-sea eyes and Nico felt a little bit bad for thinking Percy was just pretending. But only a little bit. "She said you think I don't care about you guys anymore."
Nico's shoulders sagged. "I didn't say that. Exactly."
Percy was standing toe-to-toe with him, his warm, callused hands cupping Nico's prickly jaw hard. He pressed his forehead into Nico's as though he was trying to form an empathy link. "Don't ever think that."
Nico's hands settled timidly on Percy's hips. He liked the muscle there, that band that flexed whenever Percy moved. His voice came out so small that he wasn't sure Percy would hear him, even only inches away. "Is this so that you can try to make Rachel be with me when you and Annabeth want to just be together again?"
The kiss that Percy seared into Nico's lips almost hurt in its sudden, blistering intensity. Nico wondered if Percy could taste Annabeth on his mouth. He wound his fingers into Percy's belt loops and pulled him closer, but he never closed his eyes – behind them, still on Percy's bed, sat redheaded Rachel Elizabeth Dare. Staring at them. Biting her lip.
"No," Percy said fiercely into Nico's mouth. Then he nipped at Nico's lower lip and grinned. "You're stuck with me. No more half-naked underage coeds for you, unfortunately."
Nico's cheeks flushed. "I know I'm supposed to be an asshat right now. But I don't really want to." On the bed, Rachel smiled serenely at them, and Nico wondered just how much foresight the Oracle of Delphi really had.
Percy's green eyes sparked. "That's a first!"
Rachel's smile grew into a grin.
"Fuck off." Nico shoved at Percy's hips, then caught him and pulled him back before a second had even passed. Their lips met again and then Nico pulled back and raised an eyebrow. "Now wait… this isn't some kind of crazy Athena test where if I believe you guys and sleep with Rachel, Annabeth and Apollo get to kill me, right?"
Rachel Elizabeth Dare threw her head back and laughed and unfolded from Percy's bed like a cat. She laid one hand on Nico's skinny side and slid the other hand into Percy's back pocket, where she linked her pinky with Nico's. "I promise, Apollo is fine. We have… a deal, I guess."
"Yeah," Nico said, pulling back. "Annabeth mentioned that. I don't get it."
Rachel shrugged. "As long as nothing – " she whistled and made an unexpectedly rude gesture with two circled fingers and two straight knuckles – "then it's fine."
"That's not a deal, that's a condition," Nico pointed out, ever the son of Hades, who was kind of the original master of deals that come back to bite you in the ass. Just ask Persephone. Or most people Hades had ever met. "What does Apollo get out of it?"
Really, he asked because he was thinking, I ain't doing nothing if Apollo gets to watch.
Rachel smirked. "Apollo gets his prophecies if I get you guys."
"You mean if you get Percy," Nico corrected her.
"No," Rachel said, putting her hands on him again. "If I get Percy… and Annabeth… and you."
The first time that Nico was with Percy and Annabeth, he was on such a physical overload that he didn't really have time to pay attention to his other four senses. All he really noticed was the way Percy's skin was hotter, almost feverish and bright, in a little square knot at the base of his spine, and how when he brushed his fingers over it, all of Percy shuddered. He noticed how soft Annabeth's skin was and how even the calluses on her hands seemed to be perfectly placed to do everything right and when she ran her palms over the tops of his thighs, they fell open without his permission.
He had felt Percy's tongue fill his mouth the same moment that Annabeth slid down over him and he just remembers thinking, gods, they do everything together and they don't even realize it.
And of course he felt the weight of Percy against his tongue, and the hugeness of Percy's hands where they cupped his jaw and just barely brushed over his throat, and the dark brushing of Percy's nighttime stubble against his skin when he kissed him after. He felt all of that.
But now, when it was Percy and Rachel, Nico saw everything.
He watched his fingers shake as he slid open buttons on her blouse, watched as her skin came into view, every inch more freckled than the last.
He saw the thin line of shine that Percy's tongue left behind on her skin as he traced a constellation – Pegasus, maybe, or Perseus because he got a little cocky like that when he was in bed – out of the freckles that dotted over her stomach. Nico opened his jeans at that and Percy grinned, luscious and dark and completely unfair, before leaning over to mouth at him a little – too shallow and light to really be anything, but enough that Nico groaned and twined his fingers hard through Percy's dark hair.
Rachel touched his jaw and turned him to her, and that was the first time Nico kissed Rachel Elizabeth Dare. He didn't close his eyes. Her eyelashes were so long they almost brushed her apple-cheeks and so fair that they shimmered.
"What do you want?" Percy murmured to Rachel, peeling her bright-colored bra down from her arms. Nico pulled his own shirt off hastily at their side, not wanting to miss anything, and slipped his hands under Percy's thin undershirt, one hand sliding around to feel the shifting muscles of Percy's stomach and the the other slipping over the warm, bright, Vulnerable spot on his back.
Percy shuddered and leaked a dark wet spot through the front of his underwear and dropped his head back to Nico's shoulder, holding his mouth for a kiss, as Rachel helped Nico pull off Percy's shirt.
"I want to see you two," Rachel slid back, her words all blending together in Nico's ears. "And I want you to finish what you started earlier."
And then somehow her underwear and her little skirt were gone and Nico wasn't sure how, but they're all naked, and he was behind Percy – his favorite place lately, not gonna lie – and Percy's muscles are shifting in this very appealing way as he pressed slow kisses all down Rachel Elizabeth Dare's freckled body.
Nico really liked the way her red hair looked floating over Percy's sea green pillowcase. It was just as nice as Annabeth's pale gold on his own black bedding back home – it was just different.
They had done this with Annabeth, too. But with Annabeth, at least that first time, Percy had been flat on his back beneath Nico with his legs all tucked up around Nico's skinny ribs and Annabeth had hovered over Percy's mouth, clutching the bedposts, and all Nico could see – at least that time – was the shifting muscles of her back.
But this –
Percy, of course, fell asleep pretty much immediately after. He sort of squished Rachel Elizabeth Dare a little bit, and she laughed and reached out for Nico, and Nico pulled Percy's heavy limbs up so she could crawl out from beneath him, naked and freckled and radiant in the light between shadows.
Rachel's hair tickled Nico's nose as she settled down beside him, a little white buffer between his side and Percy's. She ran her hand down his chest and Nico noticed, somehow for the first time, that she'd drawn a swirling seascape over her hand and wrist and up her arm to her elbow, and there was Percy, drawn tall and majestic over her blue veins.
"Are you in love with him?" Nico asked her under his breath – even though he could have yelled without waking Percy, at least for the next few hours. He tucked Rachel's hair back behind her ear anyway.
"Not yet." Rachel smiled at him. Then she shifted and showed him her other arm.
This drawing was simpler – drawn half with her wrong hand and half by Percy, whose skill with a pen (when it wasn't a pen that was also a sword) – but it was still clear. Nico, grinning and glowing with hellfire, brandishing his Stygian blade and laying siege against –
"Are those ninjas? And the Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean?"
Rachel grinned. "Percy's idea." She kissed his sharp collarbone. "He loves you."
Nico's brow furrowed and he nodded. "And he loves Annabeth."
Rachel slung her leg up over Nico's waist and then, just before Percy's hand came up to pull her back against him again in his sleep, before he started drooling in Rachel Elizabeth Dare's red hair, Nico saw it: the tiny, cramped, backwards letters in Percy's handwriting on Rachel's hip. he'll loэv ʎou She kissed him.
Nico felt his cheeks warm and he pressed his lips together.
Before dawn, Nico melted into the shadows on Percy's dorm room bed and reappeared back in California, in the corners of Annabeth's hotel room in her stupid buttress-y hotel on her buttress field trip. It was still nighttime in California and the room was darker, and her smooth, tan shoulder seemed to radiate light. It was different from the moonglow of Rachel's skin in New York. Not better or worse, just different. Nico slipped into her bed behind her and that tan skin prickled with goosebumps. Nico touched them wonderingly. Nothing made sense.
He lie awake until the room was mostly sun, and Annabeth's phone made a really annoying alarm noise that caused Nico to throw it across the room.
In the morning, Annabeth stretched and rolled over and Nico spit blonde hair out of his eyes. "So?"
Nico shrugged. "It's different than you."
Annabeth's gray eyes narrowed. "You loved it. You had the time of your wormy little life."
Nico's slow grin melted across his face like butter on pancakes (which he really hoped Annabeth would buy for him, incidentally). "It was pretty okay. I guess."
Annabeth elbowed him hard in the spleen as she got out of bed. "Well, I guess I'll keep you around when they come to visit after Finals, then. But if you'd rather go hang out with your dad since Persephone will be gone, I under– "
Nico tackled her around the knees and they laughed and breathed into each other's mouths on the nubbly hotel floor until they had long since missed the window for the complimentary continental breakfast, and Annabeth bought Nico some pancakes down the street just to shut him up.