A note before we get started: this post (and the fic I’m reccing in it) contain massive spoilers up through the final pages of the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series, aka the second set of Percy Jackson books. Please consider yourself spoiler-warned.
Last time we talked, I’d just finished rereading the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. The last time I’d read them, the Heroes of Olympus series didn’t even exist, and now it’s completed, so imagine my excitement at being able to jump right in and tear through the next five. I finished The Blood of Olympus on Monday, and, while relatively satisfied with the ending, I had a particular itch that needed scratching, and fanfiction was the only cure.
In The House of Hades, the penultimate book in the series, Nico di Angelo (my favorite character, my precious son, my tiny, fragile, death-obsessed cinnamon roll) reveals under great duress, during a necessary task on their world-saving quest, that he’s gay. For Nico, who was born in the 1930s, and who has a complex from being the son of the death god on top of his generally shitty sense of self worth, it’s just another reason that he’s a freak. Over the course of that book and the next, however, he begins to realize that he has friends, that there are people who accept him for all his foibles, and that being gay may make him different, but it doesn’t make him a freak.
One of these people is Will Solace, a healer from Camp Half-Blood’s Apollo Cabin, who fights alongside him in the final battle of the series, and who is… pretty clearly intended to be Nico’s love interest from the moment he shows up. I could tell—I’d been waiting the whole book for it.
Now, when I started Blood of Olympus, I texted Luce and forced her to listen to me angst about my son Nico. “I would like for him to have a genuine romance arc and not just get with some random dude as a side note to the happy ending,” I said. Well, that’s actually kind of what happened, but as it turned out, I was surprisingly okay with it. Did I wish it had gotten a little more play? Absolutely, but hey, they invented fanfiction for a reason.
“So that’s dealt with,” Will said. His tone sounded a little odd; carefully neutral, halfway between observation and interrogation, as if he was expecting an answer but leaving Nico the liberty not to give one.
For a second, Nico’s beautiful new resolve wavered as it occurred to him that Will knew.
He mentally grabbed himself by the collar; breathed in, out, repeated in himself: getting a second life, making it a better life. Jason had called him brave once. He was Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, the Ghost King; he’d just helped reunite Romans and Greeks and defeat the Earth Mother and confessed to Percy Jackson (and let him go). The hardest part was done. He was capable of not chickening out now. He was counting on the possibility that Will knew, that Will was acting like this because he knew.
He’d handled Titans, giants and Tartarus, he could handle one son of Apollo.
He looked up to meet Will’s pale, calm eyes and said, “Yeah.” Nothing groundbreaking, but his voice hadn’t shaken much, and he’d managed to hold eye contact. This would do for now. This was enough.
At least, Will seemed to think so, too. He hummed noncommittally and uncrossed his arms, and reached out.
So much for his new bravery; Nico couldn’t help but flinch. Hugs from friends he’d spent days fighting for his life with, he could accept, but two in as many days had already been a lot to take in. Will Solace’s touchy-feely tendencies were a little harder to stomach to start with.
Fortunately, Will just poked at the collar of his shirt, leaving Nico to feel possibly rude and definitely stupid.
I loved this fic for several reasons. First of all, I loved the chapters from Nico’s POV in Blood of Olympus, and Azalee’s Nico voice is just spot on. Some fics woobify him overmuch, and some fics make him weirdly forward for a kid who doesn’t like to be touched, but this one hits right in the sweet spot. It sits firmly at a healthy “General Audiences” rating, in fact; anything else would be a little too much in such a short fic. Do I think Nico might eventually welcome sexual contact? Sure, it’s possible, but you’d have to give me way more build before I’d believe it. Anyway, this fic is pure, teeth-rotting fluff, full of Nico-typical teen angst and too-cute kissing and adorable, gawky teenagers being adorably gawky. It also fleshes out Will’s character so that he’s not just the Random Love Interest, but rather a fully formed character with his own weird quirks, flaws, and talents.
Those walls I built didn’t even put up a fight clocks in at just under 15k, so it’s a nice diversion from the less delightful things in this world, but won’t take you as long to read as one of the books. Check it out here at the AO3.