Title: Only so Long

Author: CS_Nacht

Pairing: Percy/Nico, Percy/Annabeth (past)

Rating: R

Summary: Nico has loved the hero of Olympus from afar for as long as he remembers (well, as far as the other bed at least). However, it isn't until Percy breaks up with Annabeth that Nico does something about his attraction. It doesn't go as he would have liked.

Notes: Dedicated to the lovely Amethyst Grey. I hope everyone enjoys the new installment and feedback would be much appreciated. And keep in mind that I know the traffic stats of my story *grins*. Moreover, keep in mind that despite the last two words...well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Part Three

"Good girl," Nico hears Percy praise. "You can go back now."

Nico hears a resounding 'woof' and the earth trembles lightly as Mrs. O'Leary lops into the shadow of a tree. Nico isn't quite sure how Percy even managed to find her, much less use her to track him down, but he doesn't care. (Really.)

He's content to let the silence sit, but Jackson's already opened his mouth.

"Jackson, if I wanted to be near you, I would have stayed home," Nico cuts in irritably. He really doesn't want to hear this – except that he does. "I'll give you your dues for being able to find me, now please, get lost."

"No can do, di Angelo," Percy says, walking closer. "I already sent Mrs. O'Leary back. I'm pretty much stuck here."

"That's your own fault then," ripostes Nico as he stands up, making to leave.

The saviour's reflexes are as quick as ever though, as he grabs Nico by the arm and tugs him close.

"Don't you want to know why I'm here? Or how I even got here?" questions Percy, breathing into Nico's ear. And fuck, Nico's trembling from the proximity.

"Not in particular, no. Unhand me, Jackson." Nico strives valiantly to get his body back under control.

"You once told me that all shadows were part of the same matter."

Nico can't see what that statement has to do with anything. Except…Nico lifts his head up, gaze sharp and clear, catching sight of a splash of purple on the hero's cheek. Jackson had better not be fucking around with him. (Nico doesn't think about how he's resisting capture – and that's what it is – Percy fucking Jackson has pretty much captured all of Nico at this point – his body, his attention, his heart.)

"Jackson, you better –"

"I asked you what you expected out of this, but I didn't preface it with what I want," continues Percy, without giving pause to Nico's outburst. "I want you."

Nico snorts; he doesn't even bother to hide or vocalize his thoughts on this.

"Hear me out," implores Percy, sea-green eyes begging unflinching black.

Nico gives a curt nod and then looks down at his wrists significantly. The grip instantly loosens, and instead of holding him with the same intensity, they rub circles meant to soothe and Nico can't quite manage to wrench his hands out of that gentle touch.

"I love Annabeth and our break-up ruined me because I wasn't expecting it," states Percy unhurriedly and Nico forces himself not to flinch or bolt like he desperately wants to. "And because I wasn't expecting it…the first few times you touched me and my reaction to them is not something I'm proud of." Here Nico can feel hysteria lodging in his throat. "However, by the time I figured out my thoughts – which I didn't understand until well after I tried to avoid you," and Nico really didn't want to hear this anymore. "We'd already fallen into a pattern and you," Nico thinks that the hitch in Percy's voice is overdone, "you never stayed the night."

The hands drop from Nico's own – and he doesn't feel their loss immediately, he doesn't – and reach out towards his face, as if to cup it, before dropping back to the hero's sides uselessly.

"I was a coward, and completely selfish," voices Percy. "You were there for me, taking unneeded measures to make sure that I stayed relatively happy. I should have told you what it was that I felt – you're my best friend – the least I could have done was ask you what you wanted…or reciprocated."

Maybe it was the use of "best friend" that makes him snap but Nico's suddenly furious. Levelling a cool glare that hinted nothing of his inner turmoil, he speaks, voice harder than his blade and taking on the sibilant tones of the dead and dying, "I am not your duty, Jackson. I'm not someone you have to save. I never asked you for anything."

It's a lie, but Jackson doesn't need to know that. Nico had wanted so much more from their encounters, but there's something about Percy's persistence that scares him. And the son of Poseidon is nothing if not persistent.

Then again, there's also something almost brittle in the way that Jackson looks at him, almost as if he's hurt by Nico's precise words. (Nico almost wants to capitulate, almost.) Of course, he did choose his words for that exact purpose. So that Jackson wouldn't feel obligated to continue in this vein of whatever it was; he was the textbook definition of "hero's complex" after all.

"I didn't say that you were." Percy's reply is strong, not reflecting the confusion that Nico can see in his eyes – when he can ignore the bruise that he caused earlier. "I'm not asking because I feel like I have to return the favour. I want to do this. I like you."

"NO!" Nico snarls, something fierce and primal inside loosening his tongue just a bit more, "You do not get to play that card, Jackson."

"I don't understand." And damnit, Percy looks so beautiful standing there; the moonlight itself seems to stem from his presence much like the tide recedes from shore, a teasing and tantalizing whisper. His voice was a lover's caress and at the same time, a condemnation; both home and coffin, because surely, surely, it'll be the death of Nico: "What is it that you want, Nico?"

The dam breaks then and every single thing that Nico's wanted to say since the first time Percy asked, pours out of his mouth. "What I wanted was for you to get your head out of your ass and bend me over the nearest flat surface. What I wanted was for you to fuck me until we're both too tired to breathe much less move." And here, here's the cincher and Nico's own voice breaks. "What I wanted was to touch your warm heart, Perce. So why is it that I only got to touch your cold body? Even now?"

Nico presses himself closer to the suddenly silent hero and flashes them back to the apartment. He breathes in the scent deep and pulls away to arm's length to look into the muted moss-green eyes before finishing, "What I want, is for you to leave me alone."

Nico casts a cursory glance over the kitchen – the sink that still held the remnants of Annabeth's most current visit – and steels himself to leave, when it's the last thing he ever wanted to do.

"Please don't try to find me again. I'd hate to have to seal Mrs. O'Leary in Hades."

"Nico!"

Nico's able to still the shudder that was almost reflexive; Percy's whispering promises, apologies, and love. Everything that Nico's every wanted.

Still, he doesn't turn around.

"Goodbye, Jackson."