(With the release of Blood of Olympus in less than a month, here's a long overdue semi-sequel working with some revelations from House of Hades. A lot of this comes from my own headcanons, and I also just really want something where Nico gets to accept himself and be happy. Again, feedback is appreciated!
Warnings for language, major fluff, talk of homophobia and general sexual-orientation talk, spoilers for House of Hades, and a bit more fluff. Hints of Spamano.)
Romano likes flirting with girls. He likes it because he can compliment them without feeling embarrassed, see the small smiles playing on their lips and hear their sweet voices as the bella ragazza flirt back. Flirting has become somewhat of a second nature to him and his brother, something that he hardly notices he's doing until his companion (usually Spain) interrupts with a sheepish grin and a nonsense excuse.
Which is why it took him so long to realize that Nico would always stand quietly beside him. Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades (or Pluto, as Romano prefered to call him), had a tendancy to fade into the shadows. He would never look a girl in the eye, would never say much beyond a short greeting, and would never interrupt Romano. That realization made Romano feel guilty - bringing the younger out and ignoring him was particularly cruel when they both had experiences with being forgotten.
After that came the observation that Nico di Angelo also refuses to let his gaze wander too long on anybody. He never gives a pretty girl much more than a passing glance, and never shows any interest.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, were the boys. The son of Hades always looked at men and boys in an almost skittish way; too short, sky, and almost nervous. Almost immediately his eyes would be on the sky, or the ground, or an animal with a determined glare. It would be of no concern as to whether the male would be particularly attractive (something that Romano himself ofen notices) or ugly as France's "fashionable" stubble; Nico refused to look at any men.
It didn't take too long for Romano, half of the represenative of the country of lovers, to figure out the problem:
Nico likes boys.
Romano personally had no problem with it - there were worst sins that he had come across (theft, lies, murder; his people being beaten to the ground; why won't it just stop?), and besides, he was a firm believer that humans had a right to love whoever they pleased.
(He was a firm believer that they deserved to love.)
After that, Romano figured out the second problem. Nico was from the time when the world was tormented with war. When being gay was a sin. But living in the same time period, seeing people hiding in fear (of each other, of themselves), had taught Romano that sometimes, the problem isn't your love, your condemners, but rather, yourself.
So he doesn't say anything to Nico. He does, however, try to limit the time that he spends flirting when he's with his friend. And, with a blush on his face, he begins to comment on the guys too, when they sit at a cafe table (since Romano would always refuse Nico's requests for McDonald's) with nothing to do but people watch.
"I know what you're doing," Nico says one day, a frown on his face after Romano, face tomato-red, goes as far as to say that a passing man has a "really nice ass".
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
The frown deepens. "You're trying to normalize it."
Romano hates how Nico refuses to say "gay".
"Because being gay is normal." He thinks of green eyes and tomato fields when he says this, thinks of the things and people that he'd never let himself regret.
Nico's face twists and tears threaten to appear as he spits in disgust. "It's not normal, it's not natural! It's a sin-" (Romano wonders if Nico had been religious before he had learned who his father is) "-only committed by freaks who've been destined to never be loved. Being gay isn't right!" The son of Hades is breathing heavily as he continues on, fueled by a scarily recognisable self-hatred. "I don't deserve to be loved!"
"That's not true!" Romano yells. He is faintly aware that their conversation is gathering the attention of a few passing humans, but when Nico's eyes are shining slightly with tears, and when there's nothing but hate and pain on his face, Romano can't bring himself to care. "That's shit and you know it!"
A loud (fake) cough goes off behind him, and he spares a moment to glare at any onlookers, who quickly turn away and walk off, leaving the two in as much privacy as they can get. Leaning forward and lowering his voice, to keep the conversation from reaching nosy humans, he says "There is nothing wrong with caring for someone, no matter if they have a fucking dick, you little idiot."
Sometimes he wishes that the filter between his mind and his mouth worked a bit better.
As Nico scowls and tries to come up with a response other than more straight-up denial, Romano grabs his hand and drags him away from the busy plaza. The younger, understanding that Romano wants to continue the conversation somewhere private (and knowing that they other would not let it rest), lets the shadows envelope their forms as the elder dives into an alley. When they see light again, they're standing underneath their usual meeting spot - the tree outside of an American graveyard where Maria di Angelo is buried.
Romano wastes no time in scolding Nico.
"What the fuck, Nico? You 'don't deserve to be loved'?!" He says angrily, voice getting louder and hands waving aroung for emphasis.
"Because it's wrong! It's disgusting and sick and -"
Romano interupts. "And nothing, fuck you! You're a fine piece of Italian -"
"Who isn't attracted to girls. Don't you understand? I'm a freak that likes guys -"
"Yeah, so do I! So don't you dare say shit like that, fratellino, because -"
Romano stops at Nico's confused expression. They're both breathing heavily, and it takes a moment for the nation to realize what he had just said.
"Yeah, I'm bisexual, Nico, so if a representative of the people isn't quite hetrosexual, then that means it's prefectly normal." He falters when he sees Nico shaking his head.
"No, not that," Nico says, still looking at Romano oddly. "What you said. 'Fratellino'. Doesn't that mean-"
"Little brother." Romano's face is covered in a vibrant blush as he finishes.
The nation looks away, embarassed.
"Fratello?" Nico asks.
A small smile tugs on Romano's mouth. "Fratellone. Big brother."
"Thank you, fratellone."
"You do know that there are other types of love, right? There's the 'I like you, you like me, let's fuck' kind -"
"-and the family type. You can have both." Romano finishes.
-This is (most likely, unless events in BOO inspire me) the last chapter in this particular "story". All other installments of the HoH series will be posted as separate stories on fanfiction.
-If you feel like helping, and know any interesting things about American history, particularly details about wars/battles, weaponry used, etc., please send me a PM! It'd be useful for another possible installment.
-Cover art drawn by me.