Many things to say about this fic:
First of all, this fic was written for prplesockerstar (who gifted me with the most wonderful oneshot a couple of weeks back.). Sorry it's quite late, m'dear. I hope it's to your liking.
Secondly, the ideas for Nico's professions for #1 and #3 aren't originally mine. Credit must go to greenconverses on that front. If you haven't read any of her work, I suggest you go do so. Like, right now. You are missing out on a huge chunk of your PJO fandom life. Props must also go to artemisrae for the idea of Percy as a cop.
This fic can also alternatively be named "The Three Possible Ways Nico and Rachel's Relationship Could Have Turned Out," mostly because, since this ship isn't really in canon, these two could end up anywhere from friends to more-or-less permanent significant others.
Lastly, this was originally supposed to be The Four Possible Futures of Nico di Angelo, but this fic got awaaay from me really fast and, with each possible future being more or less an entire oneshot on its own, ended up quite long. Knowing that some people don't like reading long fics, I had to remove one. For those who are interested, though, the possible future I took out was Nico as a medical examiner – you know, that dude in the crime shows who does the autopsies? Yeah, that. Rachel claimed credit for Nico ending up that way because she was the one who forced coerced him into going to college under a Dare Enterprise scholarship. (Idea for this profession is not mine, either. It goes to supersadisticsam004).
So, I guess that's it. Sorry for the long-ish A/N. Here's the fic! :)
Disclaimer: Rick Riordan owns Percy Jackson and the Olympians
The Three Possible Futures of Nico di Angelo
And how Rachel Dare claims credit for all of them.
Rachel sighed exasperatedly as she looked over the papers in her hand. This was the fifth one this month. She looked up at her father.
"My answer hasn't changed, Daddy. No."
"Elizabeth," Rachel scrunched up her nose. Of course Warren Dare would insist on calling her by her middle name, "I'm worried about your safety. It's a good thing you weren't at your penthouse when the break-in happened, but you might not be so lucky next time. You need protection."
Actually, that 'break-in' had been caused by a very enthusiastic Hellhound pup that was a bit too attached to its master. It had pounced around the living room, breaking a couple of things until Nico had managed to stop it and send it back to the Underworld with a treat: a bone summoned by the son of Hades himself.
Unfortunately, Rachel couldn't tell her dad any of that. As far as he knew, his daughter was a normal (albeit slightly quirky) individual. He would permanently check her into an asylum if she told him that myths were real and that she was the Oracle of Delphi.
Rachel sighed again. "Look, Daddy, I get that you're worried, but really; I don't need a bodyguard."
Warren Dare frowned. "And why not?"
"Because..." And at that moment, a brilliant idea came to her, "Because I already have one."
He raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yep." She said, shrugging in what she hoped was a nonchalant yet apologetic manner.
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Who?"
'This is so going to bite me in the ass but...'
Rachel grinned at her father. "You remember Nico di Angelo, right?"
"...You said what now?" Nico said, the dishrag and glass hanging limply in his hands.
From her seat on the opposite side of the bar counter, Rachel grinned sheepishly. "I... may have told Daddy you were my personal bodyguard."
He groaned. "Rachel—"
"He was hounding me!" She said defensively, "He's been bugging me about it ever since your little pooch of death decided to pay a visit to the apartment. And he called me Elizabeth, for gods' sake; so I told him he didn't need to find me a bodyguard because I already had one. Just to get him off my back, you know? But then he asked who it was and your name was the first one that popped into my head."
"So you told him I was your bodyguard." He said flatly.
"More or less, yeah." Rachel replied, shrugging, "So, what do you say? Will you do it?"
Nico's answer came immediately. "No."
"Why not? We already live together. Besides, you told me you were sick of this bartending gig." She said, gesturing to the seedy bar they were in.
"I save your ass enough as it is, Oracle Girl." He said as he finished wiping the glasses clean. The son of Hades then removed his apron and left the bar counter with Rachel at his heels.
"Which is why you're perfect for the job! If you could stop that hydra last week, then protecting me from stupid mortals should be a cakewalk."
"Moz, I'm taking off." Nico called out to his boss, tuning Rachel out. Rachel waved to the gruff old man – she'd grown a bit of a soft spot for him during the times she would come and visit while Nico was working his shift – before following Nico out of the bar.
"Just think about it," Rachel brought up again once they were outside, "It's not like I wouldn't be paying you—"
"—I'll even pay you double what you earn at Moz's bar—"
"—and we spend most of our time as it is so—"
"RACHEL!" Nico all but shouted. He spun around to face her and put his hands on her shoulders, effectively stopping her in her tracks.
"What?" She said, annoyed that he kept cutting her off, before her eyes drifted past his shoulder. She sucked in a breath.
The bar where Nico worked was part of the shadier side of New York, so it wasn't unusual that the street they were walking in was dark and nearly deserted, with the only light being a sorry excuse of a lamp post directly opposite a dark alley. Near the mouth of said alley was a group of five men. Gangs and street thugs weren't uncommon, either.
What was unusual, though, was the way all five of them were staring at Nico and Rachel, as if they'd been waiting for the Oracle and the son of Hades specifically.
Immediately, Rachel's palms turned sweaty and her heartbeat accelerated slightly. "They're all mortals." She hissed at Nico.
"I know," Nico took hold of her hand and placed it firmly around his arm, "Stay close to me," he murmured in her ear, low enough that the thugs wouldn't overhear him. Rachel nodded slightly, tightening her grip on his arm.
One of the thugs whistled as they passed, "That is one fine piece of ass you've got there, buddy."
Another thug chuckled, "Down, Chuck," he said, not really meaning it.
The thug named Chuck grinned, showing his nicotine-stained teeth. "Oh, come on, Boss. I just wanted to know if he'd share."
"Ignore them," Nico told Rachel, though his own voice was strained.
"Hey, Boss, I know this chick," 'Buck-toothed Chuck,' as Nico called him in his head, appeared in front of them, causing them to stop. He took a closer look at Rachel and grinned, "It's her. It's the Dare girl!"
Nico cursed, pulling Rachel away. "Get behind me!" He told her, taking up a defensive stance.
Rachel followed his instructions just as the Buck-toothed Chuck lunged at the spot where she used to be, grabbing nothing but air. Nico quickly stepped forward and landed a hard punch to Chuck's gut, knocking the wind out of him. He pushed Chuck away, and two other thugs took his place. Making sure nobody got anywhere near Rachel, Nico fought both thugs at the same time, dodging and blocking their attacks. Then, when he spotted an opening – the two thugs had ended up side-by-side – he delivered a smooth roundhouse kick, knocking out both thugs in one blow.
By that time, Buck-toothed Chuck had gotten up and charged at him. Nico used Chuck's momentum against him and, grabbing his wrist, flipped him hard onto his back.
Three down, two to go.
From his coat pocket, the fourth thug drew a knife. His stance – torso angled to favor his knife hand and legs apart to allow quick movement – told Nico he was good with a knife. Not Annabeth good (well, duh, Nico thought. Nobody could kick ass with a knife like Annabeth), but good enough that he'd be a problem once he moved.
Nico would just have to move first, then.
The thug smirked. "Not so tough now, are you?" He taunted.
Nico shrugged. Then, in a quick blur, he swung his foot up, his long legs giving him enough reach to kick the thug in the groin. The knife clattered to the ground and the thug quickly followed.
"That was a cheap shot, dude," He wheezed, "Unfair."
Nico shrugged again, "Never said I played fair. Besides, you had a knife." The son of Hades quickly kicked the knife out of reach and it skidded across the pavement. Then, when he was sure nobody was watching, he flicked his wrist and willed the earth to silently swallow the knife.
That was five down. The only one left was the—
"Let me go!" He heard Rachel shriek. Nico spun around and saw the lead thug dragging her into the dark alley. He cursed and ran after them. When he caught up, he saw Rachel struggling against the thug's vice-like grip.
"Hmm, hot and feisty." The thug grinned, groping her and then swatting her ass. Rachel spat into his face, causing him to growl. "Bitch," His hand reached up to slap her face.
That was when Nico lost it.
"Stay away from her!" He snarled, surprising the thug and causing him to loosen his grip enough for Rachel to escape. Nico slammed into the thug, easily lifting him by his shirt and roughly pinning him against the wall. The thug looked pretty freaked out, and he should be. Nico was pissed. He figured his eyes probably had that bright, borderline-insane, scary-as-shit glint Percy once told him he got whenever he was mad.
He heard the other thugs stagger into the alley. Without taking his eyes off of the leader, Nico willed the ground beneath the other thugs to open up and swallow their feet, trapping them in place. The ground behind him erupted as well, and two menacing skeletons came out to flank him, each one holding a sharp blade.
"Not so tough now, are you?" He said in a low, threatening tone.
"Please! Don't kill me!" The leader pleaded.
Nico scoffed. "Kill you? Nah, like I'd want filth like you running around my father's place.
"Now, you listen to me," he continued, pressing the thug harder against the wall, "I can do a lot of things to you, Boss. Stuff that would make the rest of your life so much of a living Hell that you're going to wish you were dead. Unless you want that to happen, I better not see you or your cronies anywhere near her again."
The thug nodded furiously, banging his head into the wall a couple of times. Nico released him and watched him as he scrambled to his feet and bolted out of the alley. The son of Hades then turned his attention to the other four thugs, all of whom looked like they might piss their pants any second.
"Leave." He told them, releasing the binds on their feet. Like their leader, they quickly scampered off.
"Nico?" He heard Rachel call out. Nico sighed, trying to reign in his temper.
"You alright, Red?" He asked, checking her for any injuries. Rachel nodded
"Come on," he said once he calmed down, "let's get out of here."
Upon emerging from the alley, they spotted a limo at the bend. The window at the very back rolled down, and Warren Dare's face came into view. He took one look at Nico before turning to his daughter and saying:
Nico blinked, letting his words sink in, then swivelled around to face Rachel as the limo drove away. "You didn't."
Rachel, who looked pretty flabbergasted herself, whipped her head towards him. "What? No! Do you think I wanted that asshole to grope me? Daddy must've set it up after I left his office today."
He groaned. "Tell me, does your dad go around and test all of your friends?"
"Well, no, just the ones who are supposedly my bodyguard." She pointed out, reminding him of what had started this entire thing in the first place. Her unsaid question hung in the air.
Nico sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "You are more trouble than you're worth, Dare." He said, but going by Rachel's massive grin, even a deaf man could have heard the resignation in his tone.
One thing Nico had learned over the years was that he always had a knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Entering the Mess Hall at camp just as Leo and the Stolls' latest prank was blowing up there, accidentally shadow travelling into the girls' bathroom, walking in on Percy and Annabeth when they were getting frisky; his luck just sucked that way.
So it figured that the first time he visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he'd be caught in the middle of a heist.
"Until we can determine why the alarm went off, I must ask you all to remain inside the museum." The head detective said, addressing everyone. "To make things quicker, please cooperate with the detectives should they have any questions to ask you. Thank you all in advance for your cooperation."
Fifteen minutes later, Nico's ADHD was kicking in, and when he couldn't stop bouncing on the balls of his feet five minutes after that, he decided to take a leaf out of Rachel's book and look at the art. As he was walking around, occupying himself by looking around at the paintings, something made him stop in his tracks.
Nico stood in front of a painting – looking at the plaque beside it, he found out it was Bohemia Lies by the Sea by Anselm Kiefer – and frowned. There was something... off about it. He looked at it closely with narrowed eyes, trying to figure out what had caught his attention in the first place. When he realized what was wrong, his eyes widened and he jerked back.
"This one's a fake." He said to himself. He then strode to another painting – Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories, and Sentiment by Pat Steir – and scrutinized it as well. "This one's a fake too."
He must've said it louder than he intended, because the head detective headed his way with the museum's head curator right at the detective's heels.
"What did you say, sir?" The detective asked.
Nico hesitated for a moment before pointing behind him and saying: "I think the paintings are fakes."
"What?" The museum curator frowned. "That's impossible."
"The inscription on the top left is wrong. It's supposed to say Böhmen legit— lieght— whatever 'Bohemia lies by the Sea' in German is, but there's no accent on the 'o' like it should have. And the 'L' of legit— the second word wasn't supposed to be capital." Nico explained, pointing to the top left of the first canvas.
"As for the Steir painting," he continued, going over to the second canvas, "it's too… accurate. Steir made this by standing on a ladder and randomly flinging paint against a canvas on the wall. Obviously, a forger can't do that because it wouldn't turn out in the exact same way as the original, so he had to replicate every detail by hand. But because that was how he made it, it ended up looking too accurate – the paint flow is too stiff and you can't see any of the splashes the paint should've made…" He trailed off, then frowned. "How do I know all that?"
The curator took a closer look at the paintings and then reeled back. "He's right." He said with a touch of confusion in his tone, "But these were originals when we got them. The museum made sure of that."
"Someone probably switched them, then." The detective said. "You have an outside exhibit currently on-going, right?"
"Yes," the curator replied, "Since last week."
"And there were people outside the museum staff who helped set up that exhibit?" At the curator's nod, the detective continued, "That means a number of outsiders had access they wouldn't normally have. One of them might have switched the paintings.
"One of the paintings must not have been placed properly and slipped a bit from its position. That must've been what triggered the alarm." The detective looked around at the other paintings, "There could be more fakes here."
The curator frowned. "I'm sorry to tell you this, Detective, but I'm afraid I won't be of much help. Authentication of art isn't my area of expertise. That work is normally done by the museum's team of experts. Unfortunately, they are all attending a conference in France right now."
"That would be fine, Mr. Smith," the head detective was looking at Nico thoughtfully, making the son of Hades frown and eye him warily. "I have an idea…"
Nico still had a small frown on his face when he came home later that afternoon. Rachel took one look at him from her seat on the sofa, delicately raised an eyebrow, and put down the magazine she was reading. "What happened to you?"
His eyebrows scrunched together in an expression that was part confusion and part disbelief. "I think I got a job today."
Of course, once Rachel heard the whole story, she immediately began laughing to her heart's content. In fact, she was still chuckling under her breath when the two of them headed out to meet Percy and Annabeth for a round of drinks.
Once they got to the bar, Rachel quickly took Annabeth by the arm, telling her that she had some "really great news; you're going to love it" and winking at Nico before the Oracle dragged the daughter of Athena to a couple of seats on the far end and ordered the two of them drinks. Not wanting to hear Rachel recount his story, Nico opted to sit on the opposite end of the bar.
"I heard something interesting in the precinct today." Percy commented, sitting down beside him and handing him a beer. Nico groaned.
"Don't you cops have something better to do than gossip like housewives?" He said irritably, narrowing his eyes at his cousin as he took a swig.
The son of Poseidon shrugged. "One of the guys working on the case recognized your name. Remembered me telling him that you and I were related and asked me why I never mentioned you could spot fakes a mile away. Anyway, point is, you ended up being a hot topic in their division, especially since a senior detective had offered you a job right on the spot."
"Great." Nico grumbled.
Percy looked at him. "I have to know, though. How did you – Nico di Angelo, kid who barely got through high school – end up as a crime consultant for art forgeries? I would've understood if it were for precious metals and shit like that; you're practically hardwired for that kind of job with your son-of-Hades metal-detecting powers. But art?"
Nico groaned again. "I blame Rachel. She brainwashed me. Planted information in my head every time she said some random art fun-fact and made sure it stayed there."
It was silent between them for a while until Percy snorted. "You're seriously going with mind control." He said flatly, shooting the younger man a look.
The son of Hades shot his cousin a look of his own. "Now you're going tell me all those architectural facts you told me over the years were from you reading about them and not from Annabeth, right?" He retorted.
"That's totally different," Percy defended, causing Nico to roll his eyes. "Really, it is! I'm in love with Annabeth. That makes me hardwired to pay attention to everything she says. I never stood a chance. So unless you're trying to tell me that... Holy shit, Nico. You—"
Nico took one look at his cousin's wide eyes and accusatory finger pointing at him, and promptly scowled. "Finish that sentence and I will send all the ghosts in Manhattan after you."
Percy put down his finger and didn't push the subject any further. Though, he did continue shooting Nico odd looks, which the con of Hades pointedly ignored as he went back to sipping his beer and keeping an eye on Annabeth and Rachel who were chatting on the other end of the bar.
"So, what are you going to do?"
Nico sighed, putting down his empty beer bottle. He shrugged. "Accept the job, I guess. I mean, I might as well use all this shit Rachel planted in my brain, right?"
Percy shook his head almost pityingly at his cousin. "You're still going with mind control, huh?"
"And sticking with it," Nico affirmed. After all, it was much easier to believe that Rachel had brainwashed him than it was to deal with his (admittedly strong) feelings for the forbidden Oracle. "Pass me another beer, Perce."
Nico woke up that morning with only one thought in mind:
He needed to take a piss.
Without bothering to put a shirt on top of his boxers, the son of Hades padded to the adjoining bathroom and headed straight for the toilet.
He had barely finished when he felt a familiar chill run down his spine.
Turning around, he saw someone who hadn't been there moments before. Perched on the counter next to the sink was the lawyer who had gotten him and Bianca out of the Lotus Casino more than a decade ago. Nico blinked, and the lawyer's image shifted into that of an old lady with bat wings before reverting into the lawyer.
The lawyer/bat lady smiled at him. "Hello, honey."
"Alecto," The son of Hades greeted warily. The Furies usually did not make a house call unless they (or his father) wanted something done. "What are you doing here?"
"Lord Hades has a job for you," the Fury said. Nico groaned, but Alecto continued as if she hadn't heard a thing. "Queens, in the abandoned warehouse that got caught in a fire the other day. Apparently, the arsonist is still feeling a little vengeful."
"Now?" He asked weakly.
"Now, honey." Without waiting for a reply, Alecto got off the counter and returned to the Underworld. Sighing, Nico went back to the bedroom, cursing under his breath when he saw the clock read 5:37 A.M. in blaring red numbers.
"What the hell, Dad?" He grumbled. All he wanted to do right now was go back to bed, but it wasn't like he could do that. The last time he ignored a god's orders, Demeter had turned him into a potted plant (but that was a different story). Nico wasn't exactly eager to see what his father would do to him if he didn't do what Hades wanted.
Unable to do anything else about his current situation, he grabbed a set of fresh clothes and returned to the bathroom. He took a quick shower and then put on his usual attire: a thin shirt and a pair of ripped black jeans. The son of Hades lingered in the bedroom just long enough to grab his sword and skull ring from his nightstand before heading for the living room. He sat down on the sofa and proceeded to put on his boots.
"You better have a damn good reason as to why we're up at six in the morning on a Sunday, di Angelo." A groggy yet irritated voice said from the hallway as he was lacing up his second boot. Nico looked up just in time to see Rachel pad into the living room, wearing nothing but a black shirt so large on her that it slipped down one of her shoulders, its neck exposing her pale, lightly freckled skin.
(Nico had to admit: his shirt looked way better on her than it did on him.)
"Go back to sleep, Red." He told her.
Rachel's response to that was a number of incoherent grumbles punctuated by a massive yawn. The Oracle unceremoniously plopped down next to him on the couch before running a hand through her hopelessly mussed up hair. "Where are you going?" She asked him.
"Queens," he said, finishing up with his boots. "Dad wants me to take care of a spirit that died in a warehouse fire."
At that, Rachel sat up and grinned wickedly. Suddenly, she looked wide awake. "Ghostbuster duty, eh?"
"Shut up," Nico grumbled without any real heat. "This is your fault, you know."
"Really," she said, amused.
He stood up from the couch to grab his black leather jacket from the coat rack, sliding it on as he replied, "If you hadn't called me to get rid of that wraith in your neighbor's attic back in July, Dad wouldn't have gotten this idea of making me his ghostly clean-up crew in the mortal world."
"Mhm, sure." She said noncommitantly, getting off the couch and striding up to him. Just as he was about to leave, she said, "Just remember, Nico."
He turned around and looked at her. "Alright, I'll bite. What?"
Standing on the tips of her toes, she reached up and pulled his lips down to meet hers in a slow, lazy kiss.
One of Nico's hands immediately cupped her hip and pulled her flush against him, while the other one ventured down her thigh and then up underneath the shirt she wore, his fingers ghosting across her skin – making her shiver deliciously against him – before finally resting on her lower back. Meanwhile, Rachel's hands had slipped from his neck to tangle in his dark hair, fingers occasionally tugging at the strands and nails lightly scraping his scalp as she unhurriedly moved her lips against his.
Nico didn't think he would ever get used to the head rush he felt whenever he was kissing Rachel. Sure, he'd had a crush on her for the longest time (he had been an impressionable eleven-year-old and she had just thrown a plastic hairbrush at the head honcho of the Titans; what did you expect?), but he'd never thought he would ever act on his feelings, feelings that, if he were to be completely honest, only intensified as the years passed.
Now, though, over a decade since his crush began, things had changed big time. Now, he could actually kiss her without worrying about getting flash-fried by Apollo too much. He could laze around in bed with her during 'lay-in Sundays,' as she declared them, with neither of them even thinking of getting up until well past noon. He could even stare openly at her every time she walked around their apartment in nothing but his clothes. And he didn't think he would ever get enough. All the things he had to put up with when they had first started dating – the stares from Campers, the smug 'I-told-you-so' looks on Percy's and Annabeth's faces, Apollo's wrath, Warren Dare's wrath (which, yeah, he still had to deal with), and not to mention the annoying mortal paparazzi (totally the Dare heiress's fault for being a minor celebrity) – they were all worth it.
Moments later, they pulled away, just enough that their noses were brushing but their lips weren't. Rachel grinned.
"I called you first, Ghostbuster. So for all intents and purposes, you're mine." She said, languidly grazing his lips again. Nico smiled against her lips. He figured he could let the nickname slide just this once.
She pecked him one last time before untangling herself from him and walking towards the kitchen. He watched her for a while before turning around and opening the front door.
"If there's somethin' strange in your neighbourhood, who 'ya gonna call?" She sang.
Nico shot her the bird in retaliation as he went out the door. Even outside their apartment, Nico could hear her laughter, the sound making a small smile grudgingly appear on his face.
Yep, totally worth it.
Reviews will be much appreciated :)