A/N: A new story? Surprisingly, yes. Just a drabble-y little oneshot I tapped out as a result of way too much coffee and crying over Percy/Nico fanart.
Note: This is an AU thing which means they aren't demigods and haven't met. I also have no knowledge whatsoever of New York so this took a hell of a lot of research (and playing around with Google Maps), so if I get anything wrong it's probably because of that. I'm also now cross-posting everything at my tumblr aka pastelshadows so come and reblog or whatever it is you kids do nowdays.
Anyways, I've rambled enough. Enjoy!
College life wasn't all Nico had thought it would be. Getting there wasn't the hard part. He thought his father would flip his shit when he found out Nico had decided to major in art instead of law, but surprisingly, he just nodded and gave Nico a wad of cash. Nico didn't mind that part. He minded that his father didn't seem to care about his important life decisions, but then again, he should have been used to it by now.
Nico knew from the beginning that he couldn't go to college in Los Angeles. First, he'd be in the same state as his father, and secondly, even if he avoided his father for his whole college life, DOA Recording Studios was everywhere he looked. He needed a fresh start, and where better to go than New York, the city of dreams?
Armed with the copious amounts of money his father was providing him with (honestly, Nico was beginning to think his dad was bribing him to go away), he rented a small, comfortable flat in Bushwick and started looking for colleges. The gods must have been smiling down on him because he found a perfect one in no time. Keyte College Of The Arts had a fairly affordable fee per semester, a great art program, and was only about an hour away by underground from where he lived. It was a match made in heaven.
However, there were downsides to college life that Nico hadn't even thought of. First of all, many of his classes required him to wake up at the asscrack of dawn and stay up working until midnight, thus completely screwing up his sleeping schedule. Nico soon became a machine that only functioned properly on at least six cups of coffee a day. His unexpectedly large workload also limited the time he had to go out and shop for food, thus forcing him to become the cliché college student that survived on noodles and Diet Coke with the occasional microwave meal.
Despite all that, though, life was okay for Nico. He was in a great college, lived in an apartment that didn't have rats, and was finally away from his dad. Sure, it wasn't anything extraordinarily amazing, but it was far from terrible.
The amazing thing happened about three weeks into the semester.
Funnily enough, the way the day started led Nico to believe it was going to be his worst day yet. He woke up that morning feeling refreshed, and instantly knew there was something wrong. He never woke up refreshed. A glance at his alarm clock told him that it was 5:43 in the morning, but sunlight was streaming through the window. Slowly filling with dread, he checked his phone. It was actually 8:34. He'd missed his first class at 7:55, and his next one was in less than an hour and a half, not including the subway ride.
'Son of a bitch,' Nico hissed, practically leaping out of bed. The next 10 minutes consisted of him putting on pants with one hand, buttoning his shirt with the other and trying to maneuver his toothbrush around his mouth with only his tongue. Thankfully, he managed to catch the subway and he arrived safely at his next class only a few minutes late.
The lateness hadn't allowed Nico to have his usual morning coffee and he was seriously feeling the withdrawal, so he decided to try out the little on-campus café, and that was where the magic really happened.
The café was painted in soft browns and golds, giving it a very cozy atmosphere. The smell of coffee made Nico relax instantly and he stood in the queue, taking his wallet out of his back pocket. The line was short even though the café was bustling with people and soon Nico was at the front of the line.
The cashier was busy scribbling something down, which gave Nico the opportunity to discreetly check him out. He had messy black hair, shorter than Nico's own, and he was wearing the café's uniform green shirt which brought out his sparkling eyes. After a few moments, the boy – his nametag read 'Percy' – looked up and gave a startled smile.
'Sorry, I didn't notice you there,' he apologized, straightening out his shirt.
'That's okay,' Nico said, returning the smile. Normally he could never crack a smile in the morning, and especially not before coffee, but cute boys were the exception to the rule.
'Okay, what can I get you?' Percy asked.
'Large Americano with steamed milk and an extra shot of espresso,' Nico recited. After trying many strange coffee concoctions, he'd finally perfected his order.
'I'm guessing you overslept?' Percy said, typing the order in.
'Uh, yeah. How'd you know?' Nico asked.
'Only the students who haven't had their morning coffee can take in all that caffeine in one go,' Percy said with a knowing grin. 'Can I get a name for that order?'
'But you don't need a name,' Nico said, mentally wincing as soon as the words came out. The cute guy was maybe flirting with him, and now he probably thought Nico was a moron or something.
'Yes, but can I get one?' Percy said, his smile playful.
'Nico,' Nico replied. He couldn't seem to elaborate on that, but thankfully, Percy didn't give up just yet.
'Oh, Italian. Nice,' Percy commented, before sauntering off to make the coffee. Nico was dumbfounded. This was the first guy to flirt with him since his arrival in New York. (Okay, there were plenty of girls, but they didn't count.) And it wasn't some balding weirdo, either. It was a handsome, seemingly sane guy. Nico was still having kind of a hard time comprehending the situation.
In a few minutes Percy was back, handing Nico the coffee and a napkin. 'That'll be $1.85,' Percy said with another winning smile. Nico assumed that Percy had drunk a million cups of coffee already because there was no way someone could be so perky and smiley before noon.
Nico rootled around in his wallet and gave him a five-dollar bill. 'Keep the change,' he added.
'What a generous tipper you are,' Percy said with a little laugh. He gave Nico that smile that seemed to make his stomach feel fluttery. 'Have a nice day, Nico.'
'You too, Percy,' Nico said in reply. He was just building up the courage to ask Percy out sometime (not for coffee, obviously) but someone coughed impatiently behind him and he realized he was holding up the queue that had formed.
With a final half smile, Nico exited the café. His next class wasn't until 2, so he decided to go to Central Park, since it was only about 20 minutes' walk from the college. He finished his coffee on the way, and had just taken out a book to read in a park bench under the shade when he noticed something on the napkin Percy had given him.
It was a little anime-style drawing, done in blue biro, of Percy pouring coffee into a comically large cup. He'd also drawn Nico across the counter, staring at Percy with huge heart eyes and a thought bubble that said 'Percy is so cute. I should ask him out!' in scrawly handwriting.
Nico folded the napkin carefully and put it into his pocket. For the rest of the day, he had a big stupid smile on his face.
The next day, Nico's classes started at 2, but he set his alarm extra early. That way, he was able to make himself look presentable and reach the café at about the same time he was there yesterday. He could only hope Percy was there that day, because if not, he'd have woken up early for nothing, and that would definitely cause some negative feelings towards Percy.
Fortunately, as soon as Nico walked in, he saw Percy by the counter. When the little bell above the door rang, Percy's head jerked towards the door, and he smiled that stunning smile when he saw Nico. Nico took a deep breath and walked over to Percy.
'Hey,' Percy said when Nico was at the counter. Surprisingly, Percy seemed to be more nervous than Nico was.
'Hi,' Nico said. 'I'd like a small black coffee, please. And apparently I think you're super cute.'
Percy folded his arms. 'Do you, now?' he said coyly, before yelling the order at a blond girl by the machine.
'Mhmm. And apparently I'd like to ask you out.'
'That sounds intriguing. What exactly would be your plans?'
'Well, I don't know. Dinner and a movie? Isn't that first-date protocol?'
'Sounds great,' Percy said, just as the girl brought over Nico's coffee. Percy pulled a blue biro from his back pocket and scribbled a number on the cardboard sleeve before handing the coffee over to Nico.
'So … I'll call you?' Nico said.
'You'd better, or else I'll start spitting in your coffee,' Percy replied, winking at him before turning to the next customer.
Nico gave a little laugh and strolled out of the café, feeling incredibly accomplished. He couldn't even care that he despised the taste of black coffee. He had an actual date with someone he was actually interested in, for the first time in ages, and he was actually feeling optimistic about it.
He took a sip of his disgusting black coffee. The city of dreams, indeed.
As always, reviews/constructive criticism are much appreciated!