"Nico's so in love."
The whole table goes silent, before six of the Seven swing their heads to look at a pondering Percy Jackson in awe. Leo quickly reaches into his tool belt-pulling out a dozen or so small metal trinkets-before nervously beginning to build a toy plane. Frank looks down at the table uncomfortable, while Hazel's mouth drops open, ever so slightly. Jason is staring at Percy-pure panic written all over his face-and Annabeth is staring at Jason in thought. Piper, it seems, is the only one willing to open her mouth and let out an intelligent-
Percy watches, his hand propping his head up, as Nico picks up a banana before placing it on his tray next to a bowl of Lucky Charms.
"Haven't you noticed?"
"How have you noticed?"
And Percy never takes his sea green eyes off of Nico as he flings the banana into the fire-no doubt as an offering to Hades, and the son of Poseidon smiles without realizing it. Hazel's jaw drops further, and Jason's eyes go from panicked to alarmed. Will Solace walks up to the boy and wraps an arm around Nico-whispering something in his ear with a smile-and Nico's face flushes as he glares at the son of Apollo, but makes no move to shake off the arm. Percy's smile falls and he suddenly straightens his spine and looks away from Nico, his eyes flashing with hurt and then with confusion.
"I wish he would just tell the dumb guy how he feels."
Leo and Frank look up in alarm at the word 'guy', and now Hazel's fanning her flaming cheeks. Annabeth and Piper catch each other's eye and subtly nod in understanding.
Jason, however, has gone from alarmed to amused and he grins at a scowling Percy.
"Maybe you should talk to him."
"Bad idea," Annabeth decides.
"Good idea," Piper counters, and Annabeth isn't completely sure if it's the Charmspeak changing her mind or if it's just her sudden trust in Piper.
"Talk to him?" Percy snorts, glaring down at his blue pancakes. "I'm sure Solace has it covered."
Percy looks back at Nico to see him laughing at his blond friend, who seemed to have accidentally thrown all of his breakfast into the fire. The son of Hades looks to the Seven's table-the ghost of a smile still on his lips-and ends up catching Percy's eye. Stunning sea green stares into pretty dark brown. The son of Poseidon feels himself flush and then Nico's blushing in response to Percy's blush. Will once again whispers something into Nico's ear that makes his blush deepen and causes him to hit the son of Apollo, but Nico gives Percy a hesitant smile and a light wave. A huge, happy grin stretches its way across the Sea Prince's face as the he waves back over enthusiastically. Percy's dazzling smile is just too hot and it's really not fair, so Nico turns away his face completely red. Percy's face is also thoroughly flushed, and he attempts to hide his smile in his overly-syruped pancakes.
"Percy," Annabeth offers, "What if it isn't Will Solace that he likes?"
And Percy's smile once again falls, his happiness being sucked out of him at that stupid name.
"Who else could it be?" he snaps, eyes never leaving his food. "He's with him all the time, and the guy makes his face turn all red and-"
"Percy," Leo tries this time, clenching his trinket tightly. "You just made his face all red."
The table once again goes silent, before Percy lets out an unamused snort. "His face was red because of Solace."
"What about Solace?"
Before them stands Nico di Angelo, thin eyebrow raised above dark eyes...dark eyes that green ones could just get lost in...dark eyes that almost seemed outlined in dark shadows themselves-
"Nico, are you wearing eyeliner?"
Nico's pale cheeks blush pink, but he glares at Jason before slamming his tray in front of the blond and sitting next to Percy.
"Your girlfriend tied me down and smeared it on me."
Jason tsks in disapproval, but his gentle smile gives him away. Leo quickly looks down, suddenly not in the mood to continue building the airplane. Piper winks at the son of Hades, quipping a quick, "Not his girlfriend, remember?" before plucking a marshmallow from his Lucky Charms-much to Nico's annoyance-and popping it into her mouth.
"And you look hot," she promises.
"I look stupid," Nico snaps, pulling his bowl closer to him.
"No, you definitely look hot," Percy quips, before he can stop himself.
Jason coughs into his fist in order to hide his laughter as his friends look at a blushing Percy in amusement. Only Nico, who's chocking on his breakfast, seems to be confused (and Percy, but Percy's just fucking oblivious). The Italian's coughing fit goes on for a good two minutes as he attempts to not die on soggy marshmallow. When the coughing has stopped Nico glances at a blushing Percy who has decided to completely avoid Nico's gaze, the jackass.
"In your jacket."
All heads swing to look at Frank, who's hiding a smile behind his mug of coffee. His friends blink at him, and the son of Mars takes another sip of his caffeinated beverage before elaborating.
"Percy was just saying that you looked hot in your aviator jacket."
"It's seems like it's made out of pretty heavy material and it's steaming outside. You must be hot." Frank reveals his smile. "Isn't that right, Percy?"
Percy nods his head vigorously and although Nico isn't quite convinced, the son of Hades still gets up from the table to dispose of the choking hazard that is his breakfast at Jason's insistence. As soon as Nico has left, the whole table graces Percy with identical Cheshire cat grins.
"Why are you guys looking at me like that?"
"Percy's so in love," Jason coos, mimicking the son of Poseidon's words.
Percy sputters, his already pink cheeks turning darker.
"What?", Annabeth gasps, in mock disbelief.
"Well, haven't you noticed?" Leo sighs dreamily.
"How have you noticed?" Hazel snickers, playing along.
And now Percy's pouting at his so-called friends who are just having the time of their lives teasing the embarrassed boy.
"I wish he would just tell the dumb guy how he feels." Piper grumbles, and then the group breaks out in laughter.
Percy's pout deepens as his friends laugh at their reenactment. "Are you guys done, now?"
"You really should talk to him, Percy," Frank says kindly, sitting his mug down.
Percy shifts in his seat, and Piper smiles gently at the son of Poseidon.
"No one would judge you, you know. I mean Leo has this huge crush on Jason and none of us treat him any differently."
Leo turns pale, then flushes red, his skin beginning to heat if the slowly melting trinket in his hands is any indication.
"D-dude!", Leo almost squeaks, staring at Piper in betrayal.
"Everyone already knew!", she insists.
"You are a bit obvious about it, Leo.", Percy says lightly.
And now Leo's leaving the table and-no, he's not running like some sort of dramatic idiot. He's just, uh...briskly walking away, and-oh, who is he kidding? Leo's running from his problems, but he's so close to the outside of the Dining Pavilion, why should he stop, now?
"Guys, that was completely uncalled for.", Jason says sternly, standing to his feet.
The daughter or Aphrodite rolls her kaleidoscope eyes. "You already knew-"
"That wasn't your crush to confess, Piper."
"Dude, we get it.", Percy snorts. "Messing with your future boyfriend: off limits."
"I'm going to go talk to Leo-"
"And while I'm doing that, you're going to go talk to your future boyfriend."
"Who's future boyfriend?"
And Nico di Angelo is standing in front of them, again. This time he's empty-handed but he crosses his arms and scowls at Percy's reply of, "Jason's future boyfriend."
"Where's Leo?", the son of Hades asks, carefully.
Jason storms away, after that. (Pun completely, intended.) Nico's dark eyes flick from Jason to an annoyed Piper, before finally landing on a sheepish-looking Percy. The son of Hades clenches and uncleches his hands, then releases a short breath.
"Percy, would you mind walking me back to my cabin?"
The son of Poseidon nods over enthusiastically and quickly stands to his feet, almost knocking his cup of blue soda down in the process. Their friends snicker at him, and Nico shoots them a warning glance, before the son of Hades clarifies.
"We need to talk."
"You were making fun of Leo, weren't you?"
Percy visibly winces, before giving Nico an incredible (-y fake) smile. "Actually, Piper was the one who-"
"I told you about Leo's crush so that you wouldn't be an idiot and ask him about the way he acts around Jason."
"Well, yeah, but-"
"And instead of ignoring his feelings like I told you to, you teased him about them."
"I was only-"
"Damn it, Percy, I thought that you would accept Leo for who he is!"
Percy gapes at the fuming boy, and Nico's piercing glare shifts away from him, landing on the Hephaestus cabin. "My mistake."
The son of Poseidon's shock wears away, leaving anger behind. "I accept everyone for who they are!
The son of Hades snorts. "Apparently not Leo."
"It was a side comment, Nico. What's the big deal?"
"Bullying people is not acceptance! It's barely tolerance, Percy!"
They ignore the campers who have stopped in their tracks upon hearing the usually quiet Hades kid shout. Their eyes lock, and a scowl had twisted its way onto Nico's face. Nico was always scowling. Well, not so much after the demigods had defeated Gaea. He had opened up as Camp Half-Blood began to accept him, and he even smiled sometimes when-
Percy's jaw clenches.
When god damn Will Solace made him.
"What's so great about Solace?"
Nico was obviously caught off guard at the sudden shift in conversation. His dark eyes widen, his scowl has fled from his face, and he tilts his head at the angry boy standing in front of him.
"You heard me. I tolerate Leo, just fine. It's you that makes me sick." I'm lying. You make me anything but.
"Y-you...I mean, me?", Nico takes a step back, his voice cracking. "I make you sick?"
Percy laughs cruelly, and Nico shrinks into himself.
"Yeah, you. Always prancing around Will, practically begging him for attention."
"Oh, notice me, Will. Oh, love me, Will.", Percy mocks. "Oh, fuck me, Will."
The grass around them begins to brown, before dying and Nico stands before Percy, shaking and blinking back tears. He wouldn't cry, he wouldn't.
"That's not true.", Nico insists. "I don't even like-"
He says it sharp enough to stop Nico from continuing.
"And disgusting. It honestly makes my stomach turn. Or, maybe that's just having to look at you." It's true. Every time I see you I get butterflies.
"I have a crush on you, Percy."
And the whole world stops spinning, Percy swears it does.
"You like me?"
Nico had not snapped his confession, he had whispered it, broken. It's only then that they notice their friends standing around them in shock and horror. Percy knows it must be ten times as worse for Nico, because there's Will Solace standing beside Frank, his mouth agape. And, Gods, he probably heard Percy saying that Nico wanted to be fucked by the blonde. He had probably heard Nico confess his crush on Percy because...because everyone had.
And Percy knows that Nico has drawn all the same conclusions, and that he must be deeply humiliated if his red cheeks are anything to go by. The son of Hades finally lets his tears fall and run down his blushing cheeks, and Percy's feels his heart clench when the boy's watery eyes land back on him.
"Yes, Percy. I don't like Will...I like you."
Nico closes his eyes, but the tears just won't stop.
"I'm in love with you.", he says, because he might as well.
Why won't they stop?
"And I have no idea why, because you're an asshole."
And all Percy can do is watch as the shadows widen and his crush fades into them. It's silent for about two minutes, before Jason swings his fist expertly, punching Percy in the face. Before Percy can even wince, Will Solace is in front of him and the boy punches him with a deafening crack. As Percy falls on his butt, he just knows that his nose is broken. Blood runs down his face, dripping onto the ground and he hopes it doesn't awaken another psycho great-grandmother of his.
"Stand up.", Will Solace orders, without offering a hand.
Percy obeys, and the blond looks at him in disgust before briskly walking away while ordering the bleeding boy to follow. He passes his friends who all give him looks filled both with worry and anger. Percy decides to focus on the worry. After the two boys have walked past the cabins, the son of Poseidon finally asks where they're going.
"To the Infirmary. You need to be patched up."
Percy raises his eyebrows. "But, you-"
"What? I punched you?", Will stops and turns to look at the boy, who nods.
"You deserved to be punched. But, I'm still a doctor. I have to heal you...even if I wanted you to continue being in pain. Which I do."
They stop in front of the Infirmary, but when Percy makes to walk inside Will stops him by pushing him back. Hard.
"What are you-"
"We need to talk."
Percy groans. His last talk hadn't gone so well, and by the way Will Solace was glaring at him this one wasn't going to go any better.
Chapter 2: Crushing on Guys and Crushing on Guys Dreams
"Let's go to Central Park Zoo!"
"Leo, we're here for a reason."
"Come on, if we could stop at that lip waxing place for you, then-"
"I wasn't there for a lip wax! I wanted a mani-pedi!"
"Keep telling yourself that, beauty queen."
"Leo, you are so fucking-"
"Shut up. Both of you.", Reyna turns to look at them. "Now."
Reyna Avila Ramírez-Arellano has the beauty of a goddess and the glare of one, too. Leo smiles sheepishly at the praetor before pushing Piper away from him and running to catch up to Jason and Reyna. Piper growls out his name, before stomping towards him, her newly manicured hand resting dangerously close to her dagger. The four continue to walk through out Central Park, finally stopping at an intricate marble fountain. Water is spewing out of Jupiter's mouth, and its making Jason incredibly uncomfortable. Piper and Leo have yet to arrive at that fountain, because obviously pushing and shoving each other to get to Jason first is much more important. Obviously. Reyna shifts closer to Jason, ever so slightly, and flicks her eyes towards him.
"You need to get your two girlfriends over there under control."
Jason shrugs, but Reyna notices his jaw beginning to tense. Well, this was new. Had Jason actually began to develop feelings for-
"Piper is not my girlfriend and Leo is in no way a girl. And they mess with each other all the time."
"Nevertheless, if our team continues to be divided we will ultimately fail when we're in battle."
Jason can't help the smile that worms its way onto his lips. "Typical."
"Praetor Reyna, always ready for battle."
Reyna lets out a surprised laugh before quickly clearing her throat. "The Underworld is brimming with creatures that are itching to fight."
"Like Piper Mc-Jealous.", Leo snorts, finally reaching the two.
Reyna stops speaking and gives Jason a pointed look. The blonde pretends not to see it and begins to unpack lunch.
"Hey, Leo?", Piper smiles at him, her voice dripping with enchantment. "Why don't you go jump into the fountain?"
Before Leo can do just that, Jason is hugging the Latino's waist and pulling him away from the water. Piper snickers and Leo gives her a glare before pouting up at Jason, fluttering his long eyelashes. The blonde hugs Leo close to him at once, then glares at Piper so fiercely that she winces.
"Piper, for the second time today, that was completely uncalled for. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Reyna snorts but raises her hands in surrender when Jason's glare shifts to the praetor. Piper crosses her arms, her kaleidoscope eyes flashing with hurt, and turns her head away from them.
"You're only on his side, because you like him."
Jason's cheeks tinge pink, and now Reyna right out laughs.
"I'm on his side because he could have drowned, Piper."
"Oh, and that's why you're blushing, right?"
"I...I mean I-"
"What's your damage, Heather?"
"Musical reference.", Leo waves it away before glaring at the Cherokee girl. "The point is we used to be like brother and sister, and now you're being a jerk."
"Yeah? Well, what ever happened to bros before hoes, and sisters before misters?"
"I don't have a gods damn clue.", Leo snaps, stepping away from Jason and closer to Piper. "All I remember is us being buds before you ditched me for Jason."
"Well, what are you doing right now? The only reason you like him is because he acts like he's god damn perfect!"
"What does that that have to do with anything?"
"He's compensation for Calypso! You couldn't get back to her island, so you came crawling back for the next best thing!"
The girl smirks. "Always falling for people out of your league, huh?"
"You absolute bitch! I couldn't get back to her island, because I stopped trying. I wanted Jason!"
"Well, he doesn't want you!"
Leo flinches, as if he has been hit. "You...you don't know that."
"Oh, he didn't tell you?", and now Piper's smiling like someone told her that Drew just gained three pounds.
"T-tell me what?"
Reyna raises her eyebrows, before sitting on the fountain with all the grace of a ballerina, crossed legs and all. Jason creases his eyebrows, desperately trying to remember just what exactly he had kept from Leo before Piper could use it to hurt the boy.
"Our mutual breakup?", she says, holding up her hands to make finger quotations at the word 'mutual'.
"Yeah. Turns out it wasn't so mutual. He dumped me for you."
Leo's cheeks began to turn pink, which only serves to amuse Piper who warns him, "Oh, don't get too excited. He didn't dump me because he wants you."
And now Reyna leans in closer, desperately wishing for buttered popcorn as Jason curses, finally remembering what he had kept from Leo.
"He dumped me because he felt sorry for you."
When the first tears fall, everyone is surprised when Reyna is the one to hold Leo close. The Latino can't stop crying and he fells pathetic and humiliated because he should have known that a guy like Jason would never like a disaster like him, let alone a 'him', in general. Reyna glares at Piper-who now feels like utter shit-and Jason-who has been feeling like utter shit.
"It's not like that!", Jason cries. "Well, it was like that...but now I know that I like-"
"Go away. And while you're at it, go have a talk. I think that one of you doesn't quite understand what it means to spare someone's feelings."
Jason glares at Piper who looks away, before Reyna snaps, "And I also think that one of you doesn't understand how to make up their gods damn mind."
Now, it's Jason who flinches. Reyna pulls a crying Leo closer to her chest. "Return here in twenty minutes. Not a minute more, and not a minute less. Got it?"
"Listen, you've got it all wrong."
Will Solace is not impressed.
"Really, I'm serious."
Wow! Just look at them all! Look at all the fucks that Will doesn't give!
"You think I don't get it, huh?"
Percy nods his head like the over enthusiastic puppy that he is, before wincing at the ice pack the blonde practically throws at him. Will breaks off a chunk of ambrosia, debating on whether or not the son of Poseidon actually deserves it.
"Then please explain to me why Nico felt the need to sob and run away."
Just as Will decides to be a good doctor and give his patient the ambrosia, Percy opens up his stupid mouth.
"Okay, fair point. But I know you're only mad because your crushing on Nico."
Will shoves the healing block into Percy's mouth so far, the son of Poseidon begins to choke. Will's cheeks flush pink, and he glares at the boy in front of him.
"I am not crushing on Nico. Not anymore, at least."
Before Percy can say anything else stupid-which probably isn't humanly possible-Will continues.
"When Nico and I first tried to date we realized we were both still crushing on other people." Will snorts, then awkwardly runs a hand through blonde bangs.
"Well...not exactly other people. It was the same guy.", Will shrugs. "I figured Nico could have the idiot. He deserve some happiness, 'ya know?"
Percy blinks. Then he blinks again. He blinks one more time. And then his eyes widen...and then he smirks up at the blonde.
"You have a crush on me."
Will's already pink face blushes red, his freckles becoming more visible. "I healed you, right? So, get out."
"You liiiiiike meeee!", Percy sings teasingly, because he's just that full of himself.
"Get out! Right now!"
"You want to kiss me!"
"I want to punch you."
"Fine, fine! I'm leaving.", Percy laughs, before grinning. "So...Nico really likes me back?"
Will tuts. "Get it through your head, Percy. I might be...crushing on you, but Nico loves you. There's a big difference."
Percy's smile fades. "I really screwed up."
"You sure did."
The son of Poseidon put his head in his hands. "I'm so fucking stupid."
"You're telling me."
"Just leave already, would you? Go meet the others."
"You're not coming?"
"All the way to Central Park? No, I'm good. I may be a part of Nico's Army, but I'm still needed here."
Will finally finishes packing up, only to find Percy still standing there in thought. Idiot.
"Percy, would you get the fuck out?!"
Yes, I made a musical reference. If you don't know about Heathers the Musical, you have yet to live, my friend.
Oh, an out of these pairings which is your favorite?
Tell me, 'cause I'm curious: Jason/Leo, Piper/Jason, Reyna/Jason, Jason/Leo/Piper
Percy/Nico, Nico/Will, Percy/Will
"You like him now, don't you?"
Jason releases a huff, his eyes flicking towards the New York tourists that are swarming past.
"I really like him, Pipes."
She lets out a laugh and the hollowness of it makes Jason cringe. His eyes now flick to Piper, yet her sad eyes force him to look back into the street. His ex-girlfriend clears her throat and Jason reluctantly looks back into her kaleidoscope eyes.
"You're still in love with me."
"Don't even try and deny it. I know-"
"I'm not denying it, Piper!"
She takes a step away from him, because it's been quite awhile since he's raised his voice at her of all people. Jason's clenched fists fall to his side, and he looks at her so hurt, as if he was the one who got yelled at. The blond Roman sat himself down, and Piper kneeled beside him, the grass scratching her ankles. She heard an exclamation and looked up, watching as a small family greeted one another before walking up the steps of the American Museum of Natural History.
"I do still love you. So much."
"Then what happened, Jason?", Piper asks, sitting flat on the ground. "We never fell out of love. We're practically meant to be. I don't get it."
"I'm just not in love with you."
Piper closes her eyes, and rests her hands on her thighs. "So what? You're in love with Leo, is that it?"
"No! No, Piper." , Jason says, finally looking at her. "But...I'm seriously falling for him. Hard."
Her sharp nails scratch into her thighs. "And you're sure this isn't all in your head? Just because he has a crush on you doesn't mean that you need to-"
Jason takes her hands in his own to keep her from tearing her skin. "It's not....I-I mean, It's not because he-"
The boys released her hands and looked up at sunless sky. If the occasional rumbling was any indication, a thunderstorm was approaching. Or Zeus was mad at him. Jason let out a sigh, and looked back down into his lap, his fingers brushing the grass that was rubbing against his skin.
"I started gaining feelings for him on the Argo II, alright? I just didn't know it, yet."
Piper swallowed. "Your...you l-love him?"
"No, Piper. I just think that I'm dangerously close to loving him."
"So, what? You already love me."
"I know, Piper, I know.", Jason threw his hands up in exasperation before laying down in the scratchy grass.
"Sorry.", the girl sighs, stretching out her legs. "I know I'm being difficult. I just don't want to believe it."
"You're falling in love with Leo, and you like it. You want to keep falling for him until you're in love with him."
Jason sits up abruptly, his mouth agape, and Piper continues to stare down at the grass.
"That's why you don't want to get back together. You're not in love with me, but if you keep falling for Leo you'll be in love with him."
The girl sighs, and looks at the shocked boy. "And that's what you want. Because you know you'll never fall back into love with me."
"How did you-"
"As much as I hate to admit having anything whatsoever in common with my mom, I'm pretty aware of feelings."
Piper smiled gently at him. "Especially yours. I...I guess I just didn't want to hear all that from you."
Jason tilts his head to the side. "But you're okay hearing that from yourself?"
Piper brushes stray blond hairs that rest against Jason's forehead and releases a shaky breath.
And now she's crying and Jason's holding her in his arms. It's almost like when he snuck into her room on the Argo II and held her after a nightmare. The thought makes her shoulder shake harder, and Jason's grip tighten around her.
When he kisses her on the forehead and whispers the words thank you, they know they're going to be okay.
To this day, Reyna still has no idea what she ever saw in Percy Jackson. He had somehow found their exact location, because he for some reason felt the need to come along on their mission to hunt down Nico.
"Perce, I already said it was fine!", Leo laughs at Percy's fifth attempt at an apology.
"I know, I know.", Percy grins, running a hand through dark hair. "I just feel like a total jerk-"
"Good.", Reyna says watching the camera-toting tourists near her walk around the fountain. "You are one."
"Okay. Ouch.", Percy pouts, and Leo laughs again. His laughter stops immediately as Piper and Jason quite literally drop in, considering Jason had been flying. They're laughing and talking and Leo's eyes flick from their happy faces to Jason's arms still firmly wrapped around Piper's waist, before deciding that Jason had obviously made up his mind. Their laughter stops, and even Percy's aware enough of the situation to stop talking.
All eyes look to Leo, and he knows they're looking at him, but he still can't stop the tear from running down his cheek. He roughly rubs it away and begins to repack the lunch no one had eaten. Jason must have eventually walked over because he's suddenly kneeling beside the Latino and helping him pack.
"Leo, you should know-"
And Leo stands to his feet with Jason quickly standing also, and grasping the other boy's hands in his own.
Leo snatches his hands back, walks straight past him--roughly hitting Jason's shoulder with his own--and heads for Reyna. As Jason rubs his newly sore shoulder, he pouts at the boy who pointedly ignores him.
"Can we go now?", he asks to Reyna who nods.
"Man, your future boyfriend's mad at you, too?"
And Percy's very surprised when Jason answers with a nod. The son of Poseidon looks to Piper who simply pats Percy on the shoulder before following her friends, who had began walking again. Percy follows suit.
Chapter 4: I Missed You, Like Jason Missed His Chance
"Persephone, where's Hades?"
The goddess gives the boy a smile sweeter than honey and faker than counterfeit drachmas.
Nico di Angelo's eyebrow twitches in annoyance. "Really? The god of the Underworld just happens to be not watching over the Underworld?"
Her smile grows, stretching scarily across her flawless face. "Would you like to go for a walk with me? Hades just created the loveliest room-"
"Persephone, I can feel his presence."
Her smile drops.
Nico's deathly aura flares, though it goes unnoticed in his father's domain. Persephone is acting odd--well, odder than usual. But the son of Hades really doesn't have the time to play her games. It was either he talked his father into letting him stay here...or he was going to the River Lethe. And Nico is pretty sure that Hazel would not appreciate the second one (or the first one, really, but that's completely besides the point).
"Take me to my father. Now."
The goddess turns her back to him, and Nico almost reaches for his Stygian iron sword before she speaks again.
"Hey, Leo? C-can I talk to you?"
Leo glares at the Cherokee girl so fiercely that she winces. Before the Latino can internally gloat, Reyna's shoving him forward and demanding he hear her out. Pouting, the boy lets Piper drag him over to a nearby tree. For a few minutes they stand there in awkward silence, watching Percy and Jason shoving and laughing at one another.
"Leo, he's falling for you."
The boy's cheeks flush red, before he begins looking down at the tree roots that his feet are balancing on.
"Not my problem. He's your boyfriend, so deal with it yourself."
"He's not my boyfriend."
Piper sees the shock wash over his face, and the hope flash in his eyes, but they flickered over Leo's face so quickly that only a daughter of Aphrodite could have seen them.
"Well, when he's your boyfriend-"
"See, Leo, that's what you're not getting. Jason doesn't want to get back together with me-"
"Oh, boo hoo-"
"Do you have any idea how hard this conversation is for me?", she shouts and Leo's glaring at her again.
"If this conversation is such a strain on your poor fucking feelings, then why are we having it?"
"Because I miss you!"
And now the two have managed to catch both Percy and Jason's attention. Though, Percy is staring at them intrigued, and Jason is staring at them concerned. Jason makes to come over, but Piper gives a subtle shake of her head and he halts himself. The Cherokee girl takes in a deep breath.
"I miss the smirk you used to give me when you were proud of me for pulling a prank without your help, okay? And I miss the way you used to roll your eyes at my whining, then snatch my broken jewelry from me to fix it by yourself. And I miss when you used to always-"
"I miss you too, beauty queen."
Piper blinks at him, and Leo gives her the smirk that she loves so much.
"I knew you couldn't go a day without this hot stuff."
"Shut the fuck up, Valdez."
And they're laughing and hugging each other, so very tightly, because it's been too long since they've just held one another.
"Should I be jealous?"
Piper's laughter shrills off into giggles at Jason's remark, and the blond smiles at her. Leo, on the other hand, looks away from the previously dating duo. Piper's giggles fizzle out immediately.
"Uh, Jason?", Leo says, "Which one of us are you talking to?"
Piper seems to take this as her cue to leave and she does so, patting her ex-boyfriend's shoulder on the way. The blonde smiles at her in acknowledgement, before flicking his electric blue eyes to Leo. The Latino flushes pink--much to Jason's obvious amusement--but keeps his gaze locked with the other's blue one.
"I was talking to you, Leo."
"Because Piper was so happy that she looked close to kissing you, and I've been wanting one of those for days."
"From you, yes."
"Oh.", Leo says, his cheeks transitioning from pink to crimson and Jason grins at the embarrassed boy.
"Are you blushing?", he laughs.
The Latino looks back down at his feet, not quite sure what he should be feeling but he would except anything other the embarrassment and crushing hope he feels at the moment. Jason uses two fingers under the boy's chin to tip Leo's face back up.
"Hey, don't be embarrassed.", Jason practically whispers. "I think it's cute."
And now the two fingers have become a whole hand as Jason cups Leo's cheek, and the Latino has no idea when their noses had moved so close together.
"Can I have one?"
"Huh?", Leo lets out breathlessly, his eyes becoming half-lidded. "H-have one what?"
Jason presses their foreheads together, his nose now resting beside Leo's as he says, "A kiss."
Their lips move of their on accord, almost but not quite touching just yet. Jason's mouth hovers just above Leo's, but the Latino can feel the other boy's breath. Leo shuts his eyes, his heart beating wildly in chest as he whispers, "Yes."
"Hey, guys! We found it!"
And just like that, the spell is broken. Leo steps away from the blonde, blushing to his pointed ears as he clears his throat before walking towards a frantically waving Percy. Jason groans in despair, because he had been so close to kissing the boy he was falling for. The blonde takes a deep breath and attempts to school his features as he raises an eyebrow at Percy. Apparently Jason didn't school them enough, because Percy's green eyes widen in fear and he takes a step back. Reyna whistles for her metal dogs in an attempt to hide her smirk, as Piper right out laughs.
"Smooth, Percy.", she says, before nudging Leo teasingly with her shoulder. The Latino's blush increases ten-fold, and he begins to fear that blushing was going to become a regular thing for him.
"Well, how was I supposed to know Jason was getting some-"
"Shut up, Percy.", Jason moans into his hands.
"Really, dude, sorry. I didn't mean to cock-block you."
"Percy!", Leo squeaks, before clearing his throat for a second time. "What did you find, exactly?"
"Right.", Percy grins, running a hand through his dark hair, before gesturing behind them. "We found the Doors of Orpheus."
"Don't we need music to get in?", Piper asks, cocking a thinly plucked eyebrow at the boy. Percy's shoulders slump as he blinks at her.
"Which is precisely why we should have been looking for the other entrance.", Reyna says, as Aurum and Argentum race towards her.
"What, DOA Recording Studios?", Jason scoffs. "And go all the way across the country to California?"
"You traveled 'all the way across the country' to arrive at Camp Half-Blood, did you not?"
"Well, yeah, but.", Jason's blue eyes flick to Leo, before flicking back to Reyna. "That was more important than this."
Percy's eyes glint. "Finding Nico is just as important as you being with Leo."
"Perce, I never said it wasn't-"
"You implied it."
"So, if we need to hightail it to Cali, then we'll do it.", Percy snaps, before looking away from the group. "We'll...I'll go anywhere to get Nico back."
There was silence, save for the wagging of metal tails, before Leo gave a little smile.
"You...stayed at Camp Half-Blood just to be with me?"
Jason's cheeks tinge pink. "I mean, it wasn't just that-"
"Uh, huh.", Leo grins. "Sure."
"You two are making me sick.", Reyna says matter-of-factly, as if commenting on the weather.
"Seconded.", Piper says. "Look, guys. We don't need to go to California."
"Why? Are you going to charmspeak the doors?", Percy snorts.
"No, asshole. That only worked on a machine once, and that's because Festus was alive in a way."
Leo grins at her, in turn making Jason grin as he says, "Maybe Leo could get the entrance to open?"
"No.", Reyna shakes her head in the negative. "Entrances to the Underworld are much different than other doors, whether they be mechanical or enchanted."
"What we really need is music.", Percy says, grinning again. "And I know just the blond-headed dork for the job."
You guys do know what blond Percy's talking about, right?
"What are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you, too, Seaweed Brain."
The boy graces Annabeth with an apologetic smile that would have caused (an unfortunately absent) Nico to swoon.
"You know I didn't mean it like that.", he says. "We were just expecting Will, is all."
"Will?", her blond eyebrows furrow. "Chiron said you guys specifically asked for me. He sounded pretty sure of himself."
"Well, Percy was the one who IM-ed him.", Piper sighs, sending the boy an accusing look.
"I, uh. I told Chiron that we needed the blond who kind of has a thing for me.", Percy says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Will Solace has a thing for you?", Leo laughs.
"Kind of!", Percy insists, his cheeks tinging pink.
"Dude.", Jason smirks, crossing his arms. "So, not the point."
"You're right. The point is that we're stuck with the less attractive blond."
"Nice.", Annabeth mock-glares at the girl.
Piper bats her eyelashes innocently. "Love 'ya, babe."
"Focus.", Reyna snaps, her dogs growling at her feet. "How are we going to enter?"
"Did you teach them any dog tricks?"
"Percy, you absolute-"
"Because if they can howl a tune, we might just have our way in."
Reyna seems to consider this, staring down at her pets so sternly that they begin to cower.
"Honestly, as long as they can howl in harmony the doors should open.", Annabeth reasons.
"Sing.", Reyna commands. "Now."
Aurum lets out slight, metal-scraping shrieks as Argentum lets out a menacing, never-ending howl.
"Stop.", Piper hisses. "Please."
The metal animals immediately quiet.
"Pipes.", Leo hums, taking his hands away from his ears. "Tell them to sing."
"Tell them to harmonize.", Annabeth emphasizes, slightly exasperated.
"Harmonize.", Piper coos, her voice slightly trilling.
Reyna, Annabeth, Percy, Leo, and Jason begin to harmonize. The dogs do not. Aurum lets out a terrible shriek, and Piper quickly commands its' silence. By default, the demigods halt their singing, as well.
"Sorry.", Piper smiles in response to Reyna's glare. "I forgot to address them."
"It's no big deal.", Percy sighs. "Maybe you could try...again...Leo, what are you doing?"
Argentum is lying on its back, tummy somehow open, as Leo fiddles with wires inside. Almost a second later, Leo has reattached the stomach and begins to open Aurum's.
"Release my dog, Valdez.", Reyna hisses out.
"Piper.", Leo says instead, continuing to tinker with colored wires. "Tell it to sing."
"Sing, please, Aurum."
Instinctively, she clutches her ears ready for the onslaught of metal. Yet, the dog in front of her remains silent.
"You addressed the wrong dog.", Reyna lets out.
"What?", Leo cries, attempting to yank his fingers away from the actual Aurum. His fingers are much too entangled in wires to immediately pull away.
"Leo, what's wrong?", Percy asks. "Can't she just try again?"
"It's not that. It's just...shit, shit, shit." Leo mutters, as Aurum suddenly opens its mouth in order to comply with Piper's commands.
Leo only has one finger twisted into the wires, when Aurum lets out a beautiful howl, so enchanting that the demigods freeze. The wires spark ever so slightly, burning the tips of the tinker's fingers, just as Leo frees his hand.
"¡Mierda! ¡Eso duele!", Leo hisses out, waving his hand lightly to ease the pain.
Blue eyes go from concerned to aroused in a millisecond, upon hearing the dialect.
"Hot.", Jason blurts out stupidly, before covering his disobedient mouth, his cheeks burning red.
Percy snorts, amused. "Spanish fetish, much?"
Leo's cheeks are now red from embarrassment, rather than pain, as Jason glares at the son of Poseidon.
"Italian fetish, much?", the blond shoots back.
Percy opens his mouth to object, before imagining Nico di Angelo pinning him with an icy stare, and speaking to him in fucking Italian. The sea prince gulps, as heat travels straight to his groin.
Shifting slightly, Percy mumbles an abashed, "Touché."
Jason's laughter is drowned out by loud creaking, and Annabeth lets out a cheer.
"Guys.", she grins. "We got the doors open."
"Nice.", Piper squeals, nudging Leo.
"Way to go, Leo.", Jason smiles at him, his smile widening slightly when the boy blushes in response, and refuses to look up.
The Latino begins to reattach Aurum's stomach, and Jason pokes his tan cheek.
"You're blushing, again.", Jason whispers, which only serves to make the poor boy blush more.
"C'mon, Percy.", Annabeth whispers, pulling him towards the newly opened entrance to the Underworld.
"Why?", Percy whispers back. "And why are we whispering? They're just..."
The son of Poseidon trails off, watching as a blushing Leo releases a newly fixed Aurum before playfully swinging his fist at Jason. The blond catches the Latino's clenched fist, mid-swing, before pulling Leo closer towards him until they're nose to nose.
"Oh.", Percy blinks. "Jason's finishing up what I accidentally cock-blocked."
"What you accidentally what?", Annabeth snorts.
"Long story.", Reyna hums, scooping up Aurum and walking towards the Doors of Orpheus. "Let's go."
Chapter 6: Move Aside, Dumbledore's Army
"Persephone...", Nico says cautiously, his nose scrunched in annoyance. "This is a dead end."
Nico di Angelo glares at the great wall of caked mud and bones blocking their path. The goddess flicks her eyes over it, concerned, as if she has never seen such thing. Placing a hand lightly into the mud, she hums, flashing the boy a light smile.
"Indeed it is, young demigod."
"Young...", Nico's eyes widen, his voice caught in his throat. Persephone would never call her stepson anything but his name.
Persephone would never willing stick her precious hands in the mud, because she could simply grow things.
Persephone would not be startled by a sudden dead end, because Persephone knows her way around the Underworld even more than Nico does and-
Nico unsheathes his Stygian, pointing it straight at the goddess. The woman in front of him lets out his stepmom's laugh.
"You're not Persephone."
"Correct again, dear.", she hums in Persephone's voice.
"Reveal your true form."
Not-Persephone's face twists into a scowl. "You dare command a goddess?"
"You're no goddess."
"Aren't I?", she giggles.
Persephone's pale skin begins to melt into a tanner shade and freckles bloom across the bridge of her nose. Her long, blond locks slowly turn a rich black.
"Don't you recognize me, Nico?", she purrs, as the demigod furrows his eyebrows.
The goddess blinks, her once blue eye becoming green. Sea green. Nico knows those eyes.
"You...you look like-"
"Perseus Jackson, I should hope."
"But you're not..."
"No, Nico.", Not-Percy hums. "I am not your love."
"If it is answers you seek, then by all means stay.", the goddess says in the female version of Percy's voice. "But I should warn you."
"Warn me of what?", Nico say hesitantly, still a bit cautious of her resemblance to his crush.
"Your Army is on the way."
"I don't have an army."
The goddess stretches Percy's smile into his playful smirk.
"For the loves of Hades, what army?"
"The Prophecy of αγαπώ Despică must be fulfilled. That is what your army lives by."
Nico almost chokes on air. "That can't be right...."
"Ever heard of the Seven? I'm the son of Hades. I'm not apart of prophecies, okay? A-and no prophecy has ever been both Greek and Roman in origin. Not to mention, αγαπώ means..."
"What does it mean, Nico?"
"You probably know what it means!", Nico roars, before slumping. "And...that word and I definitely don't mix."
"If that is true, young demigod, then why do I resemble Poseidon's child?"
"I don't even have an army.", Nico says weakly, avoiding her question.
"You will meet your Army soon enough."
"I don't-!", Nico huffs. "When?"
"You may stay where you stand and meet them in approximately two minutes. Or you may go through the wall and meet a single member in approximately ten."
"If I choose the first one?"
"Shock and misunderstanding will cause you to wreak havoc upon your Army. This will, in turn, lead to the Prophecy being abandoned."
"And how important is this Prophecy?"
"All of the Worlds' love is in your hands."
"Worlds...as in multiple?"
The goddess hesitates. "Greek, Roman, and the Mortal world in which you coexist in."
"Are there more worlds?"
"There are Nine in total.", the goddess admits. "Your Army shall now arrive in approximately one minute."
"Three worlds of love is in my hands, huh?", Nico grimaces. "Fine. What happens if I go through the wall?"
"Time alone to think and an Army member's friendship will allow both happiness and terror into your heart."
"Well, that sounds pleasant."
"Your Army will be arriving in approximately thirty seconds."
"Shit.", Nico swipes a hand through his bangs. "If I go through this wall...will the Prophecy be fulfilled?"
"Nothing is certain."
"Yet, you were able to predict just about everything else."
"I predict your Army will be here in twenty seconds."
"You're hilarious.", Nico rolls his eyes, before biting his bottom lip. "Um...you're hilarious...Aphrodite?"
The goddess taps her finger on a nose that resembles Percy's. "Ten seconds, young demigod."
Nico clenches his eyes shut, releases a shaky breath, and barrels towards the alarmingly solid-looking wall.
"I apologize for the dress in advance.", Aphrodite calls. "I was going for something traditional."
"Wha-?", Nico's eyes open wide in shock, but he's already falling through the mud wall before he can question her.
"Wait, you chickened out?"
"Shut up, Percy."
"Dude, today is just not you day, is it?"
"It's your fault I didn't kiss him in the first place!"
"Pipe down, you two!", Annabeth demands, as Piper speaks quietly to Aurum and Argentum.
"We don't want monsters being alerted of our presence.", agrees Reyna.
The demigods continue trekking through the Underworld in silence for a few minutes, before Leo clears his throat, flicking his eyes toward Percy and Jason.
"He...he didn't chicken out."
"You kissed?", Piper squeals, ignoring Annabeth's sharp look.
Leo looks down at his hands, which seem to be subconsciously building something out of spare tools, then says sweetly:
"He kissed me on the cheek."
"Doesn't count...", Percy mutters, as Piper elbows him and lets out an: "Aww..."
"It was my fault, I got nervous and started tapping-"
"No, I was stupid and got distracted by the tapping.", Jason interrupts, before flashing concerned eyes at Leo.
"And you don't have to tell them anything you don't want to."
"I know." Leo flashes him a smile, tossing the boy his finished trinket. "And you weren't being stupid."
"I was being stupid, because you're always tapping when we're alone, so I shouldn't...have been...distracted..."
Jason trails off, his eyes scanning over Leo's new invention.
Jason runs his thumb over the metal heart. The trinket grows warm and begins flashing bright gold, causing the son of Jupiter to release it in shock. The metal heart zooms about in front of him, spelling out letters like a Fourth of July sparkler: MY HERO, before halting. Suddenly, the cliché Superman logo burns into the metal, and the trinket heart mimics having a heartbeat: .. / .-.. --- ...- . / -.-- --- ..-
"Morse code?", Annabeth whispers.
"Then how did I understand it?", Piper whispers back. "I don't know Morse Code, but somehow I..."
The metal heart stills, goes silent, and reverts back to a smooth, clear silver. It shrinks before the demigods eyes, a thin chain emerging from its center, until the trinket is a simple necklace floating above them. Jason cautiously reaches for it. The trinket responds by zooming towards the son of Jupiter, before lightly clasping around his neck, the small heart slipping under his shirt and resting above his heart. The small heart lets out a quiet heartbeat: .. / .-.. --- ...- . / -.-- --- ..- , then goes silent.
"Oh, Leo..." And now Jason's looking at him like he's the Sun, and the Moon, and the stars all wrapped into one.
Leo's cheeks dust pink, and he sputters out: "I-It was supposed to-! I mean, I didn't know it was going to-"
"That was Morse Code for 'I love you'!", Piper exclaims. "No wonder I understood...it...Um.", she flashes a mortified Leo an apologetic look.
"Is that what you've been tapping when we're alone?", Jason whispers, and Leo keeps his eyes on the ground.
"You...you were telling me that you loved me right before I was about to kiss you, weren't you?"
"Listen, I didn't know it was going to put all my feeling out there like that, okay?", Leo roars, startling the demigods. "I thought it was just a stupid heart! It wasn't supposed to...I didn't want you to know that...I mean..."
Leo huffs, a frustrated tear spilling past his cheek. "You don't have to say it back."
Jason uses his thumb to wipe away the tear, and lightly holds the boy's cheek. "Oh, Leo.", he says again, a smile dancing on his lips.
"Guys.", Reyna snaps, her metal dogs growling at her feet. "We have company."
"Why, hello, young demigods.", the woman smiles. "I'm so glad you have made it on time."
She lets out a beautiful laugh, her eyes cold. "Fitting for an army of your status."
Reviews are always nice. :)
Chapter 8: It's Gonna Take Some Will-Power™
"Let me get this straight.", Will says, lightly clutching Drew Tanaka's wrist, her hand displaying the hangnail she had come into the Infirmary to whine about.
And Will rolls his eyes up so high that Drew can only see white.
"Is that why Nico left?", Drew smirks. "You made a move on his man?"
Will blushes and blanches and glares. "I didn't-"
"But you wanted to, right? You like Percy-"
"That's not important!"
Yet, a sweeter voice cries: "On the contrary, my sweet."
And as Will drops to his knees—with a cry of: "Lady Aphrodite!"—, Drew runs towards the goddess, her hangnail forgotten.
The goddess' beautiful nose crinkles in disgust, and Drew stops in her tracks.
"I am not your mother, nor do I wish to be."
Cautiously, Will stands to his feet, his blue eyes flicking over a face that resembles Percy's.
"Our apologies, Lady Venus."
The goddess flashes him Percy's proud grin. "Please, dear, no need to apologize."
"Why are you being so nice to him?", Drew pouts, and Will would have rolled his eyes again if he wasn't curious as well.
"Any demigod that is a member of the Six, has a special place in both my agenda and my heart."
"The Six? Like a knock-off of the Seven?", Drew cries, before batting her eyes at a suddenly very interesting Will.
"Has Camp Half-Blood failed to be known of the Prophecy?", the goddess snorts. "Typical Greek—"
"I'm part of a Prophecy?", Will asks, clutching his stethoscope to death.
"Shouldn't my mom be telling him this?", Drew sneers and Venus sneers right back.
"I'm afraid Aphrodite is idiotically flouncing about with the remaining members of the Prophecy."
Her nose crinkles once more. "Or what she calls an army."
"Army?", Drew cries. "As in Nico's Army?"
"B-but that's just a joke and...", Will swings around to face Drew. "How do you know about that?"
Drew opens her mouth, but with a sharp look from Venus, closes her mouth abruptly.
"You will know soon enough, young demigod.", Venus declares.
"I am simply here to request of you three things: Learn and study much of the Mortal world. You must be an expert in all things Mortal."
"I...fine. Whatever.", Will huffs. I suppose there's no point in questioning her. "And the second request?"
"Remain in love with the son of Poseidon, regardless of the pain this may cause."
"Regardless.", the goddess snaps. "Of the pain this may cause."
"Alright!", Will snaps, then immediately regrets it. "Erm, and your third request, Lady Venus?"
Her eyes flash and Will just knows that this request will either be unbelievably impossible, important, or both.
"Have an undeniable, unwavering, undefinable love for the color blue."
"What?", Will cries. "With all due respect, M'lady, if this is some scheme to set me up with Percy, then—"
"Any attempts I make to help you fulfill the Prophecy, son of Apollo, is in no way a scheme."
"Can't you see he's a wreck?", Drew cries, glancing at a practically hyperventilating Will.
The goddess sticks her nose up into the air, but glances at the boy in front of her.
"I suppose, if it will ease your worries, I will reveal to you a portion of the outcome of the Prophecy—should it be fulfilled."
"The Gods know Aphrodite has already revealed enough to the rest of the Army—"
"Um, knock-off Mom?", Drew interrupts. "You were kind of in the middle of easing Will's worries."
"Just know this, son of Apollo. Should the Prophecy be fulfilled, your love for Perseus Jackson will cease to exist."
Will's shoulders sag in relief.
"But.", Venus says sternly. "The Prophecy will only be fulfilled if you comply with my requests."
"Remain in love with Percy, so that I can stop being in love with Percy?", Will sighs. "I guess I can do that."
"Good.", Venus nods, as a bright light blinds Will—Drew had remembered to shield her eyes.
And then the goddess was gone.
"So.", Drew smirks, as Will rubs his eyes. "You don't just like Percy, you—"
"I love him.", Will states firmly, trying it out for the Prophecy's sake, then glaring at Drew.
"Whatever.", Drew says, deciding that teasing the boy was no longer fun. "I suggest you head over to Cabin Six."
"Army? What do you mean by army?"
Aphrodite bestows a dazzling smile upon her daughter. "Hello, dear."
"Really?", Percy growls. "That's what you chose to answer first?"
"I'm a mother before a matchmaker, son of Poseidon."
Percy's growl grows dangerously low, and Piper quickly stands in front of the demigod.
"Mom.", Piper hums, sweetly. "Do you have any idea where Nico might be?"
"Of course she does.", Annabeth's eyes roam over the goddess. "She's in the middle of the Underworld."
"I was taking a walk."
Leo gives a low whistle. "Wow, lady. You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"
Aphrodite allows herself a giggle. "Indeed."
"Please, Lady Aphrodite.", Jason says, kneeling slightly. "We could really use your help."
"Such a sweetheart.", the goddess coos at the boy. "Your Nico is behind that wall."
"Splendid.", Reyna deadpans. "Now, how do we get to him?"
"I was getting to that.", Aphrodite snaps, before her eyes flick to Leo. "You're going to need a little...fire."
Leo flinches before he can help it, and Jason pushes the demigod behind him, glaring blue eyes at the goddess.
"Absolutely not. There's always a catch."
Aphrodite gives a little shrug, and Piper groans.
"Jason, we came all this way-"
"We can find fire another way."
"Leo's the easiest way-"
"He's not just a source of fire, okay?", Jason shouts.
"Jason.", Percy says desperately after a beat of silence, sea-green eyes pleading. "Please."
The son of Jupiter clenches his fists, looking helplessly from Percy to Leo.
"Jason.", Leo says after another beat of silence. "It's okay."
Jason glares at the boy, but Leo holds his ground until the harsh blue eyes soften.
"Fine.", Jason snaps, before fiercely locking eyes with Percy. "But I swear to the Gods, if something happens to him, then I'll never forgive you."
"Dully noted.", Percy mutters, before practically dragging Leo to Aphrodite.
The goddess grants Leo with a large grin that, in his eyes, greatly resembles Jason's own.
"You'll need to burn that mud wall down, dear."
Leo furrows his eyebrows. "That...that doesn't make any sense."
Aphrodite's grin widens, ever so slightly. "What ever do you mean?"
"He means that mud doesn't burn.", Annabeth says, with calculating eyes. "It's just watered down soil."
"Are you quite sure, young demigod?"
"I've tried it before.", Leo explains, cautiously.
"You haven't tried on the mud of the Underworld, have you?"
"Leo, I don't like this.", Jason hisses, his stance tensing.
"Guys, we have to try.", Percy demands, his fists clenching.
"I'll...I'll try it.", Leo decides, glancing at his friends, before igniting his hands.
The son of Hephaestus places his flaming palms on the wall, and the mud smolders, but doesn't melt. The demigods wait with baited breath, and Leo intensifies the flames. Just as his arms grow tired, a small hole begins to form. It grows larger...and larger...and larger...and suddenly Leo's hands are being sucked in. The boy shouts in alarm, his hands smoldering as the fire goes out.
"Leo!", Jason cries running forward, as the demigods follow suit.
The blond yanks Leo towards him, which only results in the Latino's legs being sucked into the gaping hole. Piper roughly grips the arm that Jason isn't holding, and pulls with all her might. The yanking only sucks Leo in tighter.
"Mom, what did you do?", Piper shrieks, but when she glances back the girl only sees the space where her mother had previously been standing.
"Guys.", Leo says, who is now only visible from the stomach up. "Just let me go."
"Are you fucking insane?", Jason screeches, and Piper nods her agreement.
"Listen, if there was anything dangerous down here, it would have taken my legs by now."
"I don't care! We're not letting you go!", Piper snaps.
"This is our best chance at finding Nico!"
"You don't have to be the hero, Valdez!"
"Maybe I want to be!", Leo snaps back at the girl, and she blinks.
"You're right.", she whispers, and Jason glares at her.
"No, he's ridiculous, is what he is.", he hisses, pulling tighter.
"Let me go. I'll be fine.", Leo, who is now only visible from the chest up, insists.
Piper releases Leo's left arm, causing Jason to shout in alarm and grip both of the Latino's arms.
"Jason, look at me.", Leo pleads, and when Jason refuses he pleads again.
Panicked, watery blue eyes lock onto sad mocha ones, and Leo gives the boy an elfish grin.
"If you love something, let it go."
"Shut up, you idiot!", Jason moans, gripping onto the Latino's arms for dear life.
"You only miss the sun when it starts to snow...", Leo sings, as Jason yanks harder.
"Only know you love her when you let her go..."
"Leo, will you shut up!", Jason shouts, tears streaming down his cheeks.
"Make me.", Leo, who is now only visible from the neck up, gives a sad grin.
And then Jason is surging forward, and kissing Leo full on the mouth, ever so deeply. Leo's eyes flutter to a close, and the Latino brings his hands up to tangle in blond hair, before yanking it. Jason gives a low moan in response, opening his mouth slightly and deepening the kiss further and-
Leo pulls back, his hands now free, and whispers, "I love you, Superman."
Jason's lustful blue eyes begin to blink out of a daze. "Wha-?"
And then Leo's being fully sucked through the hole, the mud wall closing up behind him.
Will Solace slips a plastic bookmark between the pages of The Misunderstandings of Mortals, and graces Hazel with a warm smile.
"What can I do for you, beautiful?"
"It's Chiron. He needs you right away!"
And instantly the smile flies from Will's face, as he reaches out towards the distressed girl.
"Something to do with Nico?"
"I don't know, but let's not waste time wondering, huh?", she begs, latching onto his wrist and pulling him through the Infirmary.
"Where the fuck am I?", Leo mutters, igniting his hands for some light.
"Hell if I know.", a familiar voice sighs.
"Who's there?", Leo squeaks, haphazardly throwing his arms around in an attempt at protection.
"It's me, you idiot.", the voice grumbles. "And stop that before you burn me!"
"Are...are you my conscious?"
"Wha-? Was that a serious question or are you quoting Finding Nemo?"
The voice groans, before two arms clutch Leo's. Before the Latino can shriek, his flames help him make out the face of Nico di Angelo.
"Neeks! We found you!"
"We?", Nico crinkles his nose. "You know what, never mind."
Nico's dark eyes flick around the sunken hole, before looking back at the boy in front of him.
"How did you get in here? And, for the love of Hades, tell me you know a way out."
"Chiron, I'm back!", Hazel calls, storming onto the deck of the Big House.
"Not a moment too soon.", Chiron hums gravely, before beckoning the two inside.
"What's going on?", Will asks, as he's shepherded into the centaur's office.
"Rachel!", Hazel cries, alarmed, and starts toward the unconscious ginger. Chiron holds her back, before nodding at Will.
Rachel is sitting on a stool, slumping against a bookshelf, and just as Will begins humming a healing hymn, the girl stands to her feet. Her eyes glow serpent green, then she opens her mouth, and a tripled-version of her voice speaks:
"Three of our worlds will abruptly collide,
Each cracked by love's sinister stride;
Only healed by falling in threes,
While splitting in two shall become of the seas.
Six half-bloods must halt the flood,
Through the heart, the eyes, and the mixing of blood."
At the last word, Rachel collapses. Will catches her and helps her back onto the stool. Her skin is feverish, but Will is much too frantic to think of the correct hymn.
"Are you alright?"
"Really?", she asks, her green eyes sparkling with amusement. "That's your first question?"
"Hey, I'm a doctor.", Will shrugs, and Rachel flutters her eyelashes.
"I'm fine, Doc. Thanks for the concern."
"If you two are done?", Chiron raises his eyebrows, the silent flirting clearly implied. It causes Will to automatically square his shoulders.
"I'm in love with Percy.", he states firmly, before flushing at their startled looks.
"Chiron.", Hazel says after flicking Will an accusatory look. "That prophecy? Was it-"
"Hazel.", Chiron snaps sharply, before glancing at Will. "Not now."
"What is everyone keeping from me?", Will roars, and Rachel bites her lip in concern.
"I think I can answer that.", she hums, ignoring Chiron's glare.
Any predictions for the prophecy?
"Jason, I'm so-"
"Save it.", Jason says gruffly, standing to his feet. "We're going to find him."
Percy grimaces, but still says: "We need to keep searching for Nico."
"Nico knows how to navigate through the Underworld, Percy. Nico did not just get sucked into a hole in the wall. And, Nico is not a part of some fucking prophecy that Aphrodite cooked up. So, Nico is not currently our priority-"
"He's my priority.", Percy states, firmly. "Always."
"By the way you gave Leo up?", hisses Jason. "Oh, trust me. I'm aware."
"If it had been Leo we were searching for, you would have done the same thing."
"Well, that's just it, isn't it?", Jason growls, and the air around him begins to whirl into wind. "Thanks to you, we are searching for Leo!"
"We can search for them both, can't we?", Piper asks, attempting to calm them.
"No.", Annabeth sighs. "We can't. Searching for Leo means staying put and attempting to enter the wall."
"But we need to keep moving if we're going to find Nico.", Percy declares, then turns on his heal, stomping away.
Jason glares at his back, before dropping to his knees and feeling the wall for a weak spot. Annabeth lightly pats Piper on the shoulder before following the son of Poseidon. Piper frowns at the retreating duo before kneeling next to Jason.
"Soulmates?", Will cries. "Is that really a thing?"
"Very rarely.", Rachel hums, patiently. "But prophecies of love often predict who will fall in love. And it's very rare when a love prophecy has people falling for one another."
"It's very dangerous, Will.", she says "Unrequited love. Star-crossed lovers. Should they decipher the meaning of the prophecy, they will attempt to either avoid it or stop it."
"Stop a prophecy?", Will asks. That's-"
"Almost impossible, right. ", she agrees. "But it's the preferable choice to avoiding a prophecy, because the demigods may be perceived as cowardly."
"Hmm, indeed. That's why this prophecy is so strange. It seems to be outright stating that people will fall in love."
"But...with each other, right?"
"How did you-"
"The prophecy.", Will says, holding up a sheet paper with Chiron's handwriting. "Falling in threes."
"That doesn't necessarily mean three people will fall in love with one another."
"When do prophecies necessarily mean anything?", Will grins. "But you still think at least two people will fall in love with one another, right?"
"Yes. And if a love prophecy predicts that, then even the love Gods can't stop this from happening."
"Soulmates.", Will breaths out, in complete awe.
"Soulmates.", Rachel agrees, solemnly. "Very, very dangerous."
"Why?", Will asks. "Would soulmates try and stop a prophecy?"
"Usually not, no. But the idea of being soulmates could cause pandemonium. Between the soulmates, between the Gods. The Titans could use the love against you, Will-"
"Wait, wait, wait.", Will crosses his arms. "Against me, personally?"
"Is that why people have been walking on eggshells around me? They think I might have a soulmate?"
"You've said too much.", Chiron roars uncharacteristically at the girl. "Get out, Will."
"The love Gods have been telling people the prophecy! Aphrodite, Venus, even Cupid! Most demigods knew about it, before I even got to give it, because it's so important! All the world's love is at stake!"
"William Solace, out right now!", Chiron slams open the office door, pointing out.
"That's what everyone's been keeping from you, Will! Aphrodite let it slip that you're a soulmate! She told me, I think, because you needed to know for the quest! But no one else was supposed to-!"
"I swear on the River Styx that if you do not cease speaking to him immediately, you will be removed from Camp Half-Blood.", Chiron declares, quietly.
Rachel Dare's mouth closes shut at an impressive speed, and Chiron once more points out the door. Will walks out of the office on shaky legs, and the thick door shuts behind him with a resounding creak.
Chapter 12: Where's Waldo? (And Hazel? And Reyna?)
"You've said too much.", the centaur hums, but the girl sitting down ignores him, swinging her head around violently with her mouth agape.
"Where did Hazel go?"
"That is not the matter we our discussing-"
"Right, I get it.", Rachel claims, falling to her knees. She peeks a green eye under Chiron's heavy desk, then slides her head to look under the wooden bookshelf.
Chiron clears his throat. "No, I don't think you do. Will Solace is an essential part to-"
Rachel knocks over a lamp in an attempt to look behind the grand sitting chair. The glass vase shatters upon impact with the wood floor, the light bulb flickering into darkness. The Oracle looks apologetic until Chiron only rolls his eyes.
"Rachel, please pay attention-"
"Pay attention?", Rachel gapes at the centaur. "I just broke your vase-lamp-thing and you're asking me to-"
The Oracle's jaw snaps shut and she locks her green eyes to his brown. "You...what are you up to?"
"You," growls Chiron, "are the one destroying my office."
Rachel swallows thickly, squares her shoulders, and take a fearful step forward.
"Chiron.", she says. "Where. Is. Hazel?"
Chiron flicks his eyes away from the glaring green ones.
"Where's Reyna?", Percy asks, breathing heavily. "I could really use her stupid dogs, right about now."
The son of Poseidon raises his sword, slashing at the demon cats by his feet. They growl and hiss, red eyes flashing, but they back away. A few seconds later they poise to pounce again.
"Huh? I don't...did she-shit!", cries Annabeth, as one of the creatures slice her thigh with a sharp claw. The daughter of Athena plunges her dagger into the beast's chest, causing it to explode into dust. She flips the dagger between her fingers, then uses the hilt to push the remaining demon cats back. They give an irritated hiss before forming a semi-circle around the two demigods.
"What are they doing?", Annabeth snaps, raising her dagger.
In one simultaneous motion, the demon cats leap forward, snarling with razor teeth and extending sharp claws and-
in one simultaneous motion Percy swings Riptide in an arc, severing every monster between the stomach. The demon cats all explode into dust.
"Wait. Where's Hazel?", Nico asks, doing his best to provide Leo with some room. The strange hole there in has just enough space for two people to lay down or stand in.
"Oh, she stayed back at Camp Half-Blood.", Leo hums, his hands flickering with their only source of light.
Leo nudges the other boy with his shoulder. "We're all worried about you Nico."
"I still don't understand why you all would risk your lives just to-"
"Didn't you hear me, knucklehead?", the Latino laughs, flicking Nico's nose. "We were worried."
"All of you?", Nico ask casually, patting the tight walls in search for an exit. But Leo sees right through him.
And, dammit, Nico hates that his throat gets sore.
"I don't know why he was being such an ass before, but I know for a fact that he really cares about you."
"I know that."
"Nico.", Leo grins at the sniffling boy. "He's smitten with you."
The Italian's pale cheeks flush pink, the bridge of his nose warming. "Who the fuck still uses the word smitten?"
"I was trying to use older language so that you would feel more at home around me."
"Shut up, Valdez.", Nico snorts, now tapping on the low ceiling in an attempt to break through.
"Hey, you're the one who wanted to change the subject.", Leo shrugs. "We could always go back to talking about Percy-"
"So, how are things with you and Jason?"
"Alright, fine.", Leo huffs, his cheeks growing warm as he fidgets. "You win."
"No.", Nico grins cheekily, sliding down to sit next to the other boy. "I really want to know. Did you sneak a kiss, yet?"
Leo's cheeks transition from a soft pink to a light red.
"Oh my Gods.", Nico blinks at him, before snorting. "You actually kissed him!"
"And you actually snorted."
"How did he take it?"
Leo's warm, brown eyes begin to sting. The mocha color in them becoming swirly.
Nico cringes, resting a hand on the Latino's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Leo."
The words make his first tear fall, running down a tan cheek.
"Hey.", Nico says softly. "There's a lot of great guys out there who-"
"He kissed me back."
"Piper-", Leo lets out a chocked sob. "Piper said he's falling in love with me."
"Then why are you crying, you idiot?", Nico whispers, rubbing small circles into the boy's back.
"I was in the middle of being sucked down here.", the boy whimpered. "I kissed him so that he would let me go."
"Such an idiot.", Nico hums, tucking Leo's head under his own. "Why would you deliberately have him let go?"
"I was scared he wouldn't stop pulling until he ended up down here, too. Like-"
"Like Percy following Annabeth into Tartarus.", the Italian groaned. "You do realize that you did the exact same thing, right? Being a sacrificial idiot because of love?"
"You're telling me you didn't try to take Percy's hand when he fell? Being a sacrificial idiot because of love?"
"Shut up.", Nico sighs, and Leo sighs back.
"Where's Reyna, anyway?", Piper grumbles, as she smacks her hands into the wall. It doesn't budge. "I bet she could get this open."
"She probably went with Percabeth.", Jason snarls, resisting the urge to punch the mud. "Because of course they-Piper!"
"What?", she exclaims, standing to her feet. "Did you find an opening?"
Jason reaches into his first Camp Half-Blood t-shirt, yanking on an elegant silver chain until he pulls out the metal heart. The charm is rapidly vibrating and begins to heat. It warms so rapidly and fierce that Jason yanks at the chain until it breaks as he screeches in pain. The metal heart floats above them before zooming about in front of Jason, spelling out letters, once more, like a Fourth of July sparkler. The son of Jupiter closes his eyes, seeing the bright words burned into his vision: MY LOVE. The trinket halts. Suddenly, a ring of hearts burn into the metal, and the trinket heart mimics having a heartbeat: .. / -- .. ... ... / -.-- --- ..- .-.-.-
The chain reattaches its broken links before it and the heart charm grow exceptionally smaller, then they shoot back down towards Jason.
"There's no way that's going to fit back around my-"
The chain slips over his left hand as a bracelet, the metal heart resting against the pulse point of Jason's wrist. The trinket lets out the small heartbeat one more time:
.. / -- .. ... ... / -.-- --- ..- .-.-.-
Then goes silent.
Piper clears her throat, and Jason snaps his head up to meet her eyes. The kaleidoscope of colors is swirling due to the tears in them.
"Piper?", he asks, "What's wrong?"
"It...Oh, Jason, that's Morse Code for 'I miss you.' He..."
Jason feels the emotions building up, but refuses to cry.
"Did he...program it to do that?", he asks, quietly.
"After the way he freaked out the first time?", Piper says, her voice coming out wet. "No. I...I think the charm detects strong emotions that Leo feels towards you."
Jason slams his fists into the mud wall, causing Piper to shriek. The son of Jupiter does it again, harder.
"I'm coming, baby.", he huffs, the tears sliding down his cheeks now as he slams harder. "I'm coming."
Chapter 13: Only Time Will Tell
"Welcome, my champions."
Aphrodite stands on a pure white stage of stone, smiling down at the two bewildered demigods within the rocky rows.
"All the world's a stage.", the goddess trills, stepping forward, "And love is currently in the center."
"That's quite clever, m'lady.", says Hazel, presenting Aphrodite with a nervous smile. "Have you summoned us?"
"Well", snaps Reyna, her eyes flicking around the stone arena, "We didn't come looking for her, did we?"
"Silence, my pretties.", demands the goddess, her smile growing. "You can not speak and listen at once, yes?"
"I have much to explain.", says Aphrodite, stepping off the stage only to float towards the girls. "After all, my champions can not be unaware of the Prophecy."
"What happened to her?", cries Will, skillfully weaving through campers as he stampedes toward the Infirmary.
"It's hard to say." mutters Chiron, galloping along to keep up with son of Apollo. Every shift of the boy's freckled arms results in Rachel's limp head bobbing, blood from her forehead drizzling down her nose.
"You were the last one with her, so shouldn't you-"
"There's no time to discuss this Will." snaps Chiron, before clearing his throat. "When we arrive, you must give her to one of your siblings."
"What? Absolutely not!" says a scandalized Will, almost stumbling in shock. "There's no time-"
"Exactly, right. There is no time, William. We are completely out of time. So, I suggest--if, that is, you do not wish to be the destroyer of all love--you drop her off with the first medic you run into and then hightail it to the Empire State building! Are we clear?"
Rachel's body grows colder and Will compensates by running faster.
"Wait a minute..." Nico hums, dark eyes flicking to Leo's hands. "Why haven't I just..."
"What?" Leo asks, cautiously, his hands flickering and creating large shadows across the muddy walls.
Nico growls before standing to his feet. "I know how to get out of here."
"I'm all ears."
"No, you don't get it." groans Nico. "I know how to get me out of here."
Leo gives the other boy a pout. "Harsh, Neeks."
"Don't", huffs the Italian, "call me that ever again."
"Percy." says Annabeth.
"No." says Percy.
"Just hear me out, okay? What if-"
"We'll find him." snaps Percy, sea-green eyes glaring at her fiercely. "We will find him today."
"Percy, it's like seven in the evening."
"There is," says Percy, running a tired hand through his dark bangs, "absolutely no way you know the time."
"I might not know it, but I'm pretty sure of it."
"Fine. New plan!" declares the son of Poseidon, abruptly turning in the opposite direction and stomping away. "We're finding Hades."
Annabeth catches up with him in twenty seconds flat. "Already meeting the family? This is serious."
"Shut up, Wise Girl."
He had loved the color blue before the goddess had even requested him to. It was just...something about the sky on a clear day. Bright, sky blue. That was Will Solace's favorite color. Honestly, he could have stared into Jason Graces's eyes all day--if only to see the color--but Leo probably would have killed him. Though, Will could always stare into the mirror to see his own blue eyes, but they just weren't the exact shade of-
"You should head out." rasped Rachel.
"I'm not leaving you."
Rachel closed her eyes, shifting slightly on the Infirmary bed, scattering a few pillows in the process.
"It's like you're actively trying to make me fall for you."
Will's blue eyes flash with something akin to guilt, but he says nothing.
"Listen, Solace. I know that you know what it's like to love someone who doesn't love you back."
"Ouch." says Will, and only kind of means it.
"Shut it." rasps Rachel. "Would you want to be in the presence of Percy if you were trying to get over him?"
"But." points out Will, ever-so-helpfully, "I'm not. Remember?"
"Not the point." says Rachel, before scrunching her nose as the migraine resurfaces.
Will's guilt sparks up again as he recalls literally shoving Percy out of the Infirmary in an attempt to get rid of him.
"Alright, I'm leaving."
"It's about time."
"Apparently I need to head to the Empire State Building, anyway."
And Rachel's green eyes flicker with...something before she closes them again, and cuddles into her pillows. "Okay. Bye."
"What was that?" asks Will, completely suspicious.
"What was what?"
"I...hypothetically...may or may not know about an event that may or may not occur on your way to Mount Olympus. Hypothetically."
"What is it?"
"Will." says Rachel, and her smile has gone from teasing to strained. "You know I can't say."
Will sighs. "Just like you can't tell me who hurt you, right?"
Rachel's smile softens, as she taps a finger to her pert nose.
"Right." says Will. "I'll be back to check on you as soon as I can, okay?"
"Oh, hush up."
Chapter 15: Prancing Through the Prophecy
"Three of of our worlds will abruptly collide?" hums Hazel, her ankles crossed. "Who is 'our' referring to?"
"The Olympians are full of themselves." declares Reyna, her eyes flicking over to Aphrodite apologetically. "They're referring to themselves."
"The Greek world and the Roman world." decides Hazel, clicking her tongue. "But the third world?"
"We have discovered a new world." says Aphrodite, waving her hand dismissively. "We have Norse cousins."
"Norse cousins?" exclaims Hazel, standing to her feet. "As in Norse mythology?"
"Focus, dear." croons the goddess, before smiling. "I must be off."
"You're not staying?" asks Reyna, kneeling in respect. "M'lady, we could really use your assistance with the prophecy."
Aphrodite graces the girl with a kind smile. "The son of Hephaestus and the son of Hades need my assistance, as well."
"Nico?" Hazel's eyes shine bright her arm reaching out toward the goddess, before she quickly regains control of her limb. "Is he alright?"
"He is fine for now."
"I'm afraid he will be quite sensitive after my gift."
"Farewell, my champions, and good luck."
The two demigods shield their eyes as the goddess reveals her divine form before disappearing.
"Okay." sighs Reyna, sitting on the now empty stage. "So, we're figuring this out on our own."
"Each cracked by love's sinister stride." Hazel sits next to the daughter of Bellona, once more crossing her ankles. "Love will destroy the world...worlds?"
"Not necessarily. If they can be healed, then they're not completely destroyed."
"Healed?" asks the daughter of Pluto. "What do you mean?"
"Only healed by falling in threes." huffs Reyna. "Remember?"
"That's got to mean falling in love." declares Hazel. "Three people falling in love?"
"No, I think the prophecy is referring to three couples. A Roman couple, a Greek couple...and a Norse couple?"
"A Norse couple?"
"Maybe not." concedes Reyna. "While splitting in two shall become of the seas. That probably refers to Percy."
"Percy will split in half?"
"No! I think Percy will be involved in the splitting of the seas."
"But other creatures can control water. Poseidon or Neptune could split the seas, as well."
"But six half-blood must halt the flood." declares Reyna. "I'm almost positive that involves Percy."
"Okay, so Percy, you, and I. That's three demigods."
"If we're thinking in couples," the praetor mummers aloud, "Then Nico would be with Percy."
"And...Jason and Leo?"
"Six demigods." agrees Hazel. "But what about Piper and Annabeth?"
"I...I don't know." admits Reyna, shifting her messy braid off her shoulder. "Let's move on."
"Through the heart, the eyes, and the mixing of blood. That sounds..."
"I think the heart refers to love."
"No!" exclaims Reyna, hopping off of the stage.
"Leo. He...he made this trinket for Jason that he's wearing as a necklace and-"
"Leo's wearing a necklace?"
"Jason's wearing a necklace!"
"Why is Jason wearing a necklace?"
"Hazel, focus!" insists Reyna. "The necklace is shaped like a heart.
The sky is a piercing blue. It seems to go on forever, as white clouds mesh into the baby blue. Sky blue is the color of flying. The color of spreading your wings and soaring. Sky blue makes you an angel; an Icarus; it makes you a dreamer. Sky blue is the color of dreaming. The color of dreaming and believing and breathing and-
Will rams into the solid body within his path. He falls, squeezing his eyes shut and bracing his body for the feel of asphalt, but two arms encircle his waist to balance him.
"Thanks," Will breathes out. "Gods, I should have been paying attention instead of-"
The son of Apollo chocks on his words. The mortal before him has red hair rivaling only Rachel Dare's mane. His locks sweep down his neck, curling at the juncture where broad shoulders meet his throat. His nose is petite, and its point so high that it resembles that of an aristocrat. Only his smile shatters the elegant look, as it curves into a crooked grin full of mischief. That and the dozens of small, brown freckles splashed across the bridge of his nose and ending at the top of his cheekbones. He's hot, Will registers. But it is the mortal's eyes that had caught the son of Apollo off guard.
They are the most beautiful shade of sky blue.
"The name's Harris."
Oh, Gods, is that an accent?
"Are 'ya going to just gape there, like a bump on a log, then?" asks Harris, his grin growing wider. "I know I'm not a looker, but-"
"What?" cries Will, both because Harris is quite a looker and because he's just plain confused at the entire situation.
"You're banjaxed, aren't 'ya?"
"I'm at least doing bang on."
Harris gives an exasperated sigh that he immediately betrays by flashing the boy in front of him an amused smile.
"Would you like to grab a coffee with me? There's a little cafe right down the block."
The son of Apollo finally seems to gather his wits, and before he can make a bigger fool of himself, blurts out:
"Hi, I'm Will Solace!"
"Okay, Will Solace," Harris gives him another cheeky grin. "Would you like to grab a coffee?"
And, Gods, does Will want to grab that coffee. He wants to listen to that accent, and receive more of those smiles, and just stare into those sky blue eyes. But suddenly Will remembers dorky laughter, and brave glares, and the intoxicating smell of the sea...I'm still in love with Percy. He can't lead this--admittedly very good-looking--guy along, never being able to fall for him. Harris must sense Will's reluctance.
"It's 'cause your a demigod, isn't it?"
"How did you-"
"I'm a son of Aphrodite, and you happen to be very important to her at the moment."
"How come Piper hasn't-"
"Who's Piper?", Harris asks, before his eyes kind of flicker away, embarrassed. "Is she your bird?"
"Your girlfriend, I mean, sorry." Harris gives a shy smile. "I moved here from Dublin, when I was younger. I whip out the slang a bit when I'm nervous, out of habit."
"You're nervous, right now?", asks the son of Apollo, perplexed. "Why are you..."
Apparently when Harris is embarrassed, his blush isn't subtle. The poor demigod's cheeks burn as red washes over them, before the blush covers his nose, making the freckles stand out more prominently. The top of his ears become crimson, and the blush begins trailing down his neck. The demigod makes to hide his face, before realizing it wouldn't make a difference anyway. Will stares at the blush, transfixed at its intensity. Suddenly, the demigod before him is no longer hot. He's cute. How could someone go from attractive to even more attractive in a matter of seconds?
"Maybe," Will hears himself say. "Uh...I mean, I could go for an espresso?"
"Yeah?" Harris asks, nervously, his ears growing warmer.
"Yeah." Will squeaks, clearing his throat, as his own cheeks go pink.
A new pawn has arrived for the Fates game of chess. This should be fun...
Chapter 17: You Have 1 New Voice Message
"Shadow Traveling is futile."
"Dude," Leo sputters, his nose crinkling. "Were you seriously going to Shadow Travel? Without me?"
"Where did that voice come from?" Nico whispers, dropping to his knees and pressing his ear firmly against the mud wall in front of him.
"You were really going to do it, weren't you?"
"Leo, would you please-"
Leo and Nico halt all movements, and the voice--seemingly pleased with this reaction--continues.
"I can be of assistance. All that I ask is for your complete obedience as I instruct you."
A beat of silence.
"Why do you sound like a girly Jason?" asks Leo.
Nico's eyes widen, and he practically trips over himself in his haste to get back from the wall. "Lady Aphrodite?"
"Correct, son of Hades. Are you ready to listen?"
"Are you going to get us out of here?" Leo asks, completely ignoring the sharp look that Nico sends him.
The fire within Leo's palms flickers for a moment before completely giving out. The demigods are engulfed in darkness, and then all at once flooded with light that comes from an unknown source. The two boys shield their eyes as the light slowly dims. The room that they are in is no longer dark, and they can fully see the four walls of mud enclosing them, as well as the rough dirt floor. The ceiling, however, seems to travel endlessly upwards.
"I'll take that as a yes." decides Leo, and Nico refrains from rolling his eyes.
"Many eons ago," says the voice of Aphrodite, "Eros, Venus, Cupid, and I were gathered before the Olympian Council. The Fates had declared that one day, far into the future, the power of love would be tested. For too long had Gods, demigods, and mortals alike scoffed at the idea of love at first sight. The thought of sacrificial love. The concept of soulmates. The Fates were quite aware of the power--often the very dangerous power--of love. They had foreseen a prophecy that would be given during the time of the red-headed Oracle. That time has come."
There is silence. The voice seems to have disappeared, but just as the two demigods attempt to speak, it continues.
"Rachel Elizabeth Dare spoke these words:
'Three of our worlds will abruptly collide,
Each cracked by love's sinister stride;
Only healed by falling in threes,
While splitting in two shall become of the seas.
Six half-bloods must halt the flood,
Through the heart, the eyes, and the mixing of blood.'
This prophecy, to put it simply, is foreseeing the destruction of the Greek, Roman, and Mortal world. This can only be stopped by three couples. Three instances of true love. All of my offspring have been notified, but I have only recently been granted permission to inform you of the meaning of this prophecy, despite the fact that I had already chosen my two champions."
"Two champions?" breathes Nico, as Leo blinks in awe towards the not-quite ceiling.
"Hazel Levesque and Reyna Avila Ramírez-Arellano. They are currently attempting to decipher the prophecy, but are doing so incorrectly. Despite this, they will be of much help to you."
"If...if you told all of your children, then why hasn't Piper-"
"She was much too close to the prophecy." the voice wails, forlornly. "She will feel so very left out."
"I'm sure that she'll be fine." Leo deadpans. "But why are you allowed to tell us about the prophecy, and not your...er, champions?"
The silence that washes over them now seems to be longer than the last.
"There is a difference, young demigod, between being too close to a prophecy...and being within a prophecy. Now! I trust that you wish to leave this miserable hole?"
"You mean the one that you tricked me into?" asks Nico, only snarling a bit. "Yes. You can definitely trust that."
A tingling begins at Leo's toes, slowly traveling up his ankles, twisting over his thighs, and weaving across his hips. Nico fidgets beside him in a similar predicament.
"Wha...what's happening?" asks Leo, the tingling covering his chest. "What are you doing to us?"
"As I said before, young demigod," says the voice of Aphrodite, seemingly addressing Nico. "I was going for something...traditional."
The tingling abruptly ceases, and Nico gapes at the folds of fabric cascading down his legs.
"Of course, I had assumed the prophecy was referring to females."
Chapter 18: Shit & Shine
I couldn't help but name this one?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Annabeth drops to her knees at once, lowering her head in respect. Her hair is frizzy from fighting, and twists haphazardly over her shoulders. Percy kneels--belatedly--and glares at the goddess in front of him fiercely with sea-green eyes. Aphrodite hums, lifting a palm towards them in acknowledgment.
"Please come with me."
Percy scrambles up to his feet. "But-!"
"With all due respect m'lady", Annabeth quickly cuts in while rising, "We were on our way to Lord Hades."
"Of course you were", croons the goddess, as if she is speaking to small children. "But I am here to offer you a much faster way of finding Nico."
At the familiar name, Percy immediately steps toward her, his eyes filled with something akin to desperation and hope. Annabeth lightly pushes him back, and flashes a timid smile, her grey eyes calculating.
"You tricked us last time." The daughter of Athena says it bluntly, but in a tone that offers the goddess room to correct her.
Annabeth knows that if she asks for an explanation, Aphrodite will give her an honest one. So, she demands answers instead.
"How do we know you won't do it, again?"
"Annabeth", moans Percy, his eyes becoming more desperate than hopeful, his arms twitching in a futile effort to keep them from reaching out towards the goddess.
"It seems that you have misunderstood me, girl.", Aphrodite says coldly, her palms beginning to glow. "This was not a request."
The glow becomes a starking white light, a blinding light. It consumes the two demigods and muffles their screams of terror.
"My favorite color is blue."
"Well", says Harris, trying to keep the smile off his face. "I would call you a romantic, if you didn't have the same bloody eye color."
Will attempts to stop his grin. "Did you just say 'bloody'? And, for the record, I am immensely romantic."
"Well, I don't like saying fuck.", Harris grunts out, then sticks out this tongue. "And I've seen flowers more romantic than you."
Oh, Gods. Harris saying fuck in that low baritone is not what Will needs right now. The son of Apollo already knows that Harris is (unfairly) pleasing to the eye. This date is supposed to be about getting to know him as a person. Meaning, Will should not currently be shifting in this wooden chair, attempting to hide his sudden hard-on in the middle of a coffee shop. His attempts at hiding his arousal, however, are proven futile when Harris immediately catches on to Will's discomfort. The ginger gives him a wicked grin, his cheeks lightly flushing pink in a mix of embarrassment and victory. Will glares at him, half-heartedly. Harris only grins wider.
"Oh, shut up.", mumbles Will, embarrassed. His cheeks slowly begin to match those of the boy in front of him.
"I didn't say anything!", cries Harris, letting out accidental bursts of laughter.
Huh, Will thinks, His nose crinkles a little when he laughs, that's kind of cute, oh my gods I'm getting in way too deep--
"What happened to your accent?", Will blurts, pretending to mind it's disappearance, pretending to mind something, to mind anything about the boy in front of him.
"I told you, remember?", hums Harris, a small smile still playing at his lips. "It only comes out when I'm nervous."
"You're not nervous anymore?"
Harris blinks sky blue eyes at the boy, almost gazing at him. A second later he flushes pink again.
The reaction surprises a small laugh out of Will, who places his palm in Harris', clutching the other boy's hand. Harris practically beams at the development, and swipes up his coffee cup. The boy take a long sip in an attempt to hide his goofy smile; Will is not fooled, but he sees no harm in letting the other boy think he is.
"So, you're...gay?", Will tries. Perhaps Harris is in the closet? Ashamed? Delusional? Anything that would make him less appealing would honestly be all Will needs.
"I'm Asexual, actually.", Harris lets out nervously, biting a full bottom lip.
"Oh...", Will says, desperately trying to think about what the sexuality entailed. No...sex? Hugs? Touching?
"Oh!", cries Will, attempting to pull his hand away. "Oh. I'm so sor-"
"No!", cries Harris, equally distressed. He snatches Will's hand back into his, and entwines their fingers. "No, this is okay."
"Asexuality is different for everyone.", Harris says nervously, his eyes flicking down at the marble table. "Some things I'm not comfortable with, but not necessarily all."
"Right.", says Will, squeezing the boy's hand in attempt to catch his eyes. Once he does, Will asks, "How do I know when it's okay?"
"I...", Harris' eyes flick back down towards the table. His cheeks are turning red in embarrassment. "I guess...uh...."
Will furrows his eyebrows. Harris' eyes begin turning watery, and he blinks them quickly, seemingly fighting tears.
"I guess you'll have to just ask.", Harris says softly, before folding into himself and letting out a small, "Sorry."
"Hey, there's no need to be sorry.", coos Will in a voice usually reserved for his patients. "No one can choose these things. Um, I'm Pan?"
"That's cool.", Harris says, but he says it too quietly, and he's still looking at the table, and--
"Harris, your sexuality is valid and in no way wrong. And I love it. Promise.", says Will in one breath. Harris whips his head up, his eyes widening at the declaration.
And suddenly Harris has the most bright smile on his face. It's half lips, half teeth, and his nose crinkles, his eyes get laugh wrinkles, his cheeks turn pink, his freckles practically glow, his watery eyes swim in pools of bright sky blue and all Will can think is radiant, radiant, radiant, radiant, radiant, radiant, radiant.
He's radiant. He's bright. He's the Sun. Gods, if he's the Sun I am more than willing to burn.
Who needs Percy, shit who wants Percy when I could have the fucking Sun, and--
Gods, Will is in such deep shit.
*Throws sexuality at your face.*
Chapter 19: Who's in the Know?
"Jason, this isn't working."
Piper bristles at the words, but stands to her feet. Jason is still fervently slamming his fists into the mud wall. His knuckles are scratched and his left palm is bleeding, but he continues ramming.
"This isn't working.", she repeats. "Jason, do you hear me? We need to get help!"
The son of Jupiter's pounding is relentless.
"Fine!", he shouts, swinging around so fast that Piper takes a step back. "You go searching for help in the Underworld; be my guest."
The blond shakily runs an injured hand through his gritty hair. "But I'm staying right here."
"You're never going to be any help to Leo if you just stand here punching a wall!"
"You're never going to break through it, Jason! You know that? And-"
"If Aphrodite put him down there, then you better believe he's going to stay down there until she's good and ready to....to...I'm sorry did you just say that you know?"
"Piper", says Jason, sliding down the wall until he lands solidly on the ground. "I know that I can't get to him."
"But that doesn't mean that he can't get to me."
"I...", the girl hesitantly sits in front of him. "I'm not sure that I follow."
"If I leave the wall, he might get out before we get back."
"That would suck", she agrees, digging her nails into her ashy thighs. "But you can't let your fear of missing him emerge stop you from-"
"Pipes, what if I never get to say it back?", whispers Jason. His blue eyes become wet once more, and he hunches into himself, letting the tears fall. They stream down his dusty cheeks, mingling with the grit before cascading down his chin.
And Piper realizes with a sudden clarity that Jason means I love you.
"Are you okay?", asks Harris, furrowing his red eyebrows. "You kind of stopped talking."
"You ordered my coffee, yeah?", Will says, flicking his eyes at the tan cup in his hand.
"It's a Minty Choco-Chip frappachino."
"No.", says Harris, his eyebrows furrowing further. "Only Starbucks sells fraps. Will is everything alright?"
"I thought you hated mint-"
"I do hate mint.", huffs the son of Aphrodite. "But I'm not drinking it, am I?"
"No.", agrees Harris. "I'm drinking iced tea. I got you the Andes frozen coffee."
"Harris", says Will cautiously, his eyes never leaving the cup. "If you hate mint, then why would you assume someone else would?"
"I...", Harris rapidly blinks his blue eyes. "I don't know. I...I guess I just thought you loved mint-"
"Because, typically", continues Will, in a hesitant tone. "If you don't like a certain flavor, than its the furthest thing from your mind."
"Do you not like it?", asks Harris tiredly. "'Cause we can always just-"
"I love it."
"Harris", says Will in a panicked tone, finally lifting his eyes from the cup to look into Harris' own eyes. "I love mint. You knew that I loved mint. How did you-"
Harris blinks, then breaks out into a timid smile. "I...I don't know!", he exclaims awe-struck, seemingly coming to the same conclusion as Will.
"Right", squeaks the son of Apollo, the drink slipping from his hand in shock. "You don't know."
The cup collapses onto the floor. The plastic lid pops off, and frozen coffee sloshes between their feet as both boys keep eye contact. Harris retains his love-sick smile, and Will retains his frightened gawking.
Chapter 20: Vestidos y Barriere Linguistiche
All clothing descriptions and translations are identified at the end of the chapter by order of appearance. I personally suggest opening the fic twice, so that you have the translations up and at the ready in a separate tab. But, hey, you're the reader. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Tío", cries a scandalized Leo Valdez. "Ella no estaba bromeando cuando dijo tradicional."
The son of Hephaestus is adorned in a traditional Hispanic dress. The skirt of it is large, stopping at his ankles to reveal a set of red wedges; the fabric's base color is black, and it is adorned with depictions of flowers that are shades of bright blues, oranges, pinks, and whites. The bodice is a simple black, and a large orange ribbon is fastened snugly around his waist. It is tied off in a way that a big, orange bow sits just above the skirts, as an array of threaded strings dangle from it. A large ruffle of fabric starts as the necklace and covers the entire bodice, save for the bow.
Leo scratches at the golden earring dangling from his ears, before reaching for his hair.
"Don't mess with it", insists Piper, a small grin on her face. "There's this huge rose in it. So cute."
"Pipes?", whispers Leo, in awe. "Estás en el agujero."
"No", she laughs. "Leo, you're out of the hole. And why are you speaking in Spanish?"
"Piper?", says Annabeth. "How are you understanding him?"
"Annabeth?", says Piper. "What the hell are you doing here?"
The daughter of Aphrodite looks both around and behind the other girl, then frowns, before asking, "And where's--"
"Leo", asks Annabeth, cautiously. "Did Aphrodite put you in that?"
Piper elbows the daughter of Athena. "You cut me off, jerk."
"We can't get information if he's embarrassed, and-"
"Um. No estoy avergonzado.", insists Leo. "Y yo estoy aquí chicas."
"Sorry, Leo.", grins Piper, then immediately turns back to Annabeth.
"He says he's not embarrassed, so what are you-"
"He'll be embarrassed if we mention....you know..."
Jason, thinks Leo, then flushes red. The son of Jupiter could not, under any circumstances, see him like this. Leo clutched the fabric around his neck, before yelping in pain. The dress felt practically attached to his very skin.
"Is it stuck?", questions Piper, her eyes growing concerned. "Or stuck."
"¡El segundo de ellos!", moans Leo, his eyes clouding with panicked tears.
"Jason no me puede ver como esta! ¡Moriré!"
"Yeah", says Annabeth, waving a hand. "I get the idea. But, Pipes, how are you understanding him? Do you speak Spanish?"
"No.", admits Piper. "But children of Aphrodite can understand up to five Romance languages. I guess Spanish fits the bill."
"Chicas, por favor! Si Jason viene--"
"Enough about Jason!", cries Annabeth. "We need to know if Aphrodite...wait...where's Percy?"
"Nico?", Jason asks, before furrowing his eyebrows. "Uh, what are you wearing?"
"And why do I like it?", squeaks Percy, wanting to simultaneously cover his eyes, and never stop looking.
Nico blinks at the two in confusion. The boy is wearing a traditional Italian dress. The bodice is white, as are the sleeves, which pouf down his arms and crinkle at his wrists. The skirt is a dark pink that could be confused for a light red, and it covers the black flats adoring his feet. A light gray apron is tied at the bodice, stopping a foot above the ending of the skirt. A red corset sits over the bodice, lightly tied over his rib cage with ribbon. A white cloth covers the top of the boy's head, completely covering his bangs, but allowing the curls at the back of his head to flow freely.
And all at once Nico realizes what's happening. He presses his back until the dirt wall, clenching his eyes shut. He attempts to pull himself into the shadows, as the light from above slowly begins to diminish.
"No, Nico, you can't leave!", insists Jason. "I need your help!"
Even if Nico wants to leave-which he does-the shadows are not working with him. It had to have been the work of Aphrodite.
"Non guardarmi!", cries Nico, clenching his eyes shut, and curling into himself in an attempt to hide.
"Nico, please, I need to talk to you.", says Percy, pulling his shirt down inconspicuously and crossing his legs. "It's just that I...holy shit, I can't do this while you look like that."
Nico's eyes fly open, and he cheeks turn pink in embarrassment. He glares at the boy wrapping his arms around himself.
"Quindi smettere di guardare a me allora, stronzo!", he shouts.
Jason punches Percy in the shoulder, and the son of Poseidon hisses and glares at the blond, but smiles apologetically at Nico.
"I...I didn't mean it like that, Neeks! You, uh...you look good?"
Nico raises an eyebrow in disbelief, and Jason looks pointedly at the son of Poseidon.
"I mean it! You...", Percy groans, and glances at Jason. "He's going to make me say it, isn't he?"
Jason just gives him a grin, and Nico furrows his eyebrows in confusion. Percy groans once more, before nervously rubbing the back of his neck. His cheeks tinge pink, but he stares straight into the Italian's eyes.
"You honestly look good in that dress. I mean really good. I'm serious, Nico. The head thing is adorable, and the corset is driving me crazy. Why do you think I'm being so jumpy, huh? I just want to untie that ribbon and-"
"Okay, Perce!", gags Jason, despite his smile. "I think he gets it!"
Both Nico and Percy blink at this, before simultaneously flushing a darker red. Jason rolls his blue eyes at them.
"Alright, lovebirds, moving on. Why is Nico speaking in-"
"Piccioncini?", sneers Nico, placing his hands on his hips. Percy gulps at the way the skirt flows to accommodate.
"Da quello che mi ricordo, mi capita di essere l'unico in amore. Percy, d'altra parte ha gridato: a me, di fronte l'intero accampamento potrebbe aggiungo, di circa quanto mi piace Will-"
"Gods, you're so fucking hot when you angrily speak Italian, Neeks.", moans Percy, blinking dazed, helpless eyes at the boy in front of him.
"Dude, TMI!", shouts Jason, throwing his hands over his ears.
Nico is secretly pleased and giddy that Percy finds him attractive, for about three seconds, before anger resurfaces in his stomach.
"Lussuria non è la stessa cosa come amore, Percy Jackson!"
"You're totally right.", sighs Percy, running a hand through his bangs. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Davvero?", asks Nico, a small, hopeful smile playing at his lips.
"Yeah", Percy smiles sheepishly, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Really."
"Wait, do you understand him?", asks Jason, and Percy blinks.
"Yeah, I've understood him this whole...time...what?", Percy lets out an astounded burst of laughter.
"I don't even speak Italian!"
"Deve essere la profezia.", says Nico, tilting his head, clutching the folds of his dress.
"Prophecy?", Percy asks. "We need to talk about that."
"Ho pensato che stavamo andando a parlare di... sai... noi?", whines the son of Hades, failing miserably at stopping his pout.
"Oh, really?", grins Percy. "There's an us?"
Nico flushes, crossing his arms. "Percy..."
"No, really", teases Percy, stepping forward, and placing his hands on either sides of Nico's head, effectively trapping the boy. Nico looks up, blinks wide, brown eyes at the taller boy, and bites his bottom lip. Percy leans forward until they're nose to nose. Nico's eyes flutter shut, and Percy leans closer until-
"Hey, guys!", shouts Jason, causing Percy's eyes to fly back open. Nico breaks out of his daze, and pushes the other boy away from him, causing Percy to stumble back.
"Non baciare fino a quando non si parla!", Nico states, crossing his arms, and turning away.
Percy groans at the proclamation, before glaring sea-green daggers at the son of Jupiter. Jason shrugs at Percy, then gives him a shit-eating grin.
"'Sorry, dude", say Jason, anything but. "I had to get you back for cock-blocking me and..."
Blue eyes widen. "Leo."
The title is both in Spanish (Dresses and) as well as Italian (Language Barriers)
Ella no estaba bromeando cuando dijo tradicional
(She was not kidding when she said traditional.)
Leo's dress: http://halloweencostumepictures.com/image/263/Mexican-Costumes-Pictures-7.jpg
Estás en el agujero.
(You're in the hole.)
No estoy avergonzado.
(I am not ashamed.)
Y estoy parado aquí mismo chicas
(And I am standing right here girls.)
¡El segundo de ellos!
(The second one!)
Jason no me puede ver como esta! ¡Moriré!
(Jason can not see me like this! I'll die!)
Chicas, por favor! Si Jason viene-
(Girls, please! If Jason comes-)
Nico's dress (based on left model): https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f8/1f/75/f81f754ef6bb1139cd0daa4e7d042972.jpg
(Don't look at me!)
Quindi smettere di guardare a me allora, stronzo!
(So stop looking at me then, asshole!)
Da quello che mi ricordo, mi capita di essere l'unico in amore. Percy, d'altra parte ha gridato: a me, di fronte l'intero accampamento potrebbe aggiungo, di circa quanto mi piace Will-"
(From what I remember, I happen to be the only one in love. Percy, on the other hand, shouted at me, in front of the entire camp might I add, about how much I like Will-)
Lussuria non è la stessa cosa come amore, Percy Jackson!
(Lust is not the same thing as love, Percy Jackson!)
Deve essere la profezia.
(Must be the prophecy.)
Ho pensato che stavamo andando a parlare di... sai... noi?
(I thought we were going to talk about...you know...us?)
Non baciare fino a quando non si parla!
(No kissing until we talk!)
Chapter 21: Let's Do Some Soul-Searching
Man, I've been naming the last couple of chapters. *author pats herself on the back*
Will releases a shaky breath. "I have to go."
There is a pile of brown, thin paper napkins sopping up the mess by their shoes. Harris nudges one lightly with his foot, his blue eyes flicking downward as he closes in on himself.
"Did...did I do somethin' wrong?"
"What?" Will's eyes widen. "No, Harris you-"
"I'm such an eejit. Don't even worry 'bout it, Will. I was just codding 'ya, really. Just acting the maggot. I-"
"Harris.", says Will again, placing a hand on the boy's broad shoulder. "I honestly have absolutely no idea what you're saying."
"I know. You're just nervous.", continues the son of Apollo. "But you don't have to be, okay?"
Harris flicks his eyes back up, and suddenly Will feels like he's drowning in the most beautiful blue. His hand moves from Harris' shoulder up to rest on his cheek. The son of Aphrodite's face blooms pink in one of the brightest blushes that Will has ever seen.
"It's just that I've liked you for donkey's years.", Harris confesses softly.
And that does it. Will Solace has no idea what the phrase means, but Harris with his stupid slang, and stupid accent, and stupid blush, and stupid blue eyes is everything he wants. Everything he loves. Will pulls the boy forward and kisses him. The feeling is surreal. They tilt and turn their heads, open and move and push and slide their lips in every other direction because somehow they both know how the other wants to be kissed; how the other desperately needs to be kissed.
It is wholly and completely theirs.
They separate their mouths as two foreheads rest against one another, and Harris breaks out into his bright grin.
"You're mine.", Will whispers in awe. I have one, and this one's mine.
Harris grins even brighter at that.
"Was that okay?", asks Will, silently cursing himself for not requesting permission in the first place.
"More than okay.", breathes the son of Aphrodite. "I mean, usually it doesn't really feel like anything to me, anyway. But...but when you kissed me I felt-"
They flinch apart upon being startled by the sarcastic applause from the small booths surrounding them. Will is forcefully pulled back into reality, and he almost blanches at the bitterness of it all.
"I really have to go, now.", he says, apologetically. "I made a promise."
"Is it about the prophecy?", Harris asks him.
The lack of slang emphasizes the lack of nervousness, and Will crosses his arms sternly at the realization. "You're not coming, Harris."
"If I can help you", says Harris, patiently and hesitant, "then I'm coming along."
"I don't want you getting hurt."
Harris rolls blue eyes. "I'm a demigod, too, Will."
"Yeah, but-", Will halts his words, but Harris hears the unspoken claim anyway.
"Children of Aphrodite can be just as fierce as anyone. The whole prophecy is because of people undermining us."
"How do you not know who Piper is?", Will blurts.
Harris blinks. "Are you trying to distract me?"
"If I was trying to distract you, then I would kiss you again.", Will says slowly, ignoring the other boy's flush. "How do you not know your own counselor?"
"Who said I didn't know her?"
"You did.", says Will, his heart dropping. "When we first met, you asked if she was a bird."
Harris looks, for a moment, like he may continue to argue, but his resolve crumbles. "No. I asked if Piper was your bird."\
"You know her.", states Will, growing cold. "You lied to me. To my face. Harris, are you even my-"
"Don't say that.", Harris cries, ignoring the looks he receives from other customers. "Don't you ever say that, Will. I am your soulmate."
Will's heart simultaneously shatters and soars at finally hearing him say it aloud. He flops back down into their shared booth, lifting his feet so as not to step in the melted puddle beside them.
"Explain.", says the son of Apollo.
Harris slides in across from him, takes a deep breath, then lets all the air out.
"I'm not a demigod.", he says. "Not really. I'm a Mortal. But I've been training at Camp Half-Blood since I was ten."
"How did you get past-"
"I'm an orphan.", say Harris like it makes perfect sense. "I was adopted at age eight, by the most beautiful woman. Two years later, I was constantly under the protection, supervision, and guidance of Aphrodite. She visited me, sometimes. Mostly through dreams, but occasionally she'd appear in person to yell at me for joining a quest. "
"Aphrodite?", asks Will, his eyebrows furrowing. "Why would a goddess adopt?"
Harris fidgets, and says, "She was looking for something. To, uh, match?"
Will gapes at him in distress. "Harris were you...trained to love me?"
Harris cringes slightly. "Not exactly."
"Define not exactly.", hisses the son of Apollo.
"I knew that I was supposed to fall for someone in order to save the world, basically?", the adopted son of Aphrodite tries. "Which is why I was fine being in Aphrodite's Cabin. It was literally my fate to be a hero through love. So as I waited for my soulmate to come along, I lived my life with the same strength and dangers as a demigod--thanks to Aphrodite. According to mom, the only rule was that I couldn't speak to the Seven or their friends."
"That's why I never noticed you.", says Will, who shoots the boy an apologetic look when he flinches. "Aphrodite must have used the Mist."
"I'm guessing Piper's one of the Seven?", sighs Harris. "Because I honestly don't know her. When I slept in the cabin, someone named Jase was counselor."
Will almost snorts. "Who was he dating?"
Harris frowns at him. "Pippa, I think? Oh. Oh."
"Right.", agrees Will. "The Mist. If you couldn't even see me, how did you run in to me today?"
"I could see you.", insists Harris in the most sickeningly-sweet voice. "I could always see you."
Harris' eyes glaze, his cheeks turn pink, and Will wants to laugh but the boy in front of him speaks again.
"I thought that I wasn't allowed to recognize your existence, though. So when I started crushing on you, I freaked out. I thought I was going to get in so much trouble with mom."
"Crushing on me?", teases Will, like it's the time for being light-hearted.
"Shut up.", moans Harris. "You were shooting during Archery without missing the middle once, and I was so impressed. I...I watched you for an hour. My friend Alexi told me that I looked like a love-sick idiot, and I was going to punch him, but we heard a scream. It's this little Demeter girl who got cut by Connor's arrow."
Harris scrunches his nose, and Will's heart stutters. "Or was it Travis'? I don't know. But you slung your bow on your back, and started patching her up with this tiny First Aid kit you carried around, and I...gods, I almost fell for you right there."
And Will knows it's selfish, and conceited, and they're completely detouring the conversation but-
"Almost?", whispers Will.
Harris blinks out of his daze, and flashes his soulmate a nervous glance. "She...she was so young. She asked if she lost a lot a blood, you know, if she was going to die. And you didn't laugh at her. You looked at her all seriously and said, 'You'll be perfectly fine. I promise. You're a trooper and Travis is an idiot.' She started laughing."
How do you remember all that?, Will want to shout. I don't even remember that much of it, and I was there.
"She started laughing really hard.", hums Harris. "Then, you smiled at her. You smiled so kindly, and that was it. I fell in love with you."
He says it so fondly, that both boys give embarrassed smiles right after.
"Anyway, I really did punch Alexi after that, because he was laughing at the look on my face. So, he waved his small Celestial knife at me as a joke, but for some reason I knew it couldn't hurt me anymore. I thought it was because mom was mad at me for falling for you--for disobeying the rules and defying my fate--so she uplifted what had allowed to me to have the blood of a demigod. I figured since she was no longer overseeing me, and I was just a mortal, it was time to leave. I was going to try writing about Greek Mythology when I ran into you."
Harris smiles. "When I realized that we were soulmates, I knew that I was a part of the prophecy that all of my siblings and I had been told about. I hadn't defied my fate, I had followed it. "
Will breathes. "Okay. Wow."
"Uh huh. Your turn."
"Harris, that's why I have to go. I like you a lot, and I care about you a lot. I...Harris, I love you. But I'm in love with someone named Percy Jackson."
"Oh.", says Harris quietly, in the most heartbroken tone that the son of Apollo has ever heard.
Will's feels something inside of him break. "But I'm falling for you. Do you think you could wait for me?"
"Did my mom tell you to love Percy?", says Harris instead.
"Uh?", says Will. "Kind of? It was Venus, actually. That's the promise I'm supposed to keep."
"Then, that's that. We're soulmates. We fulfilled that part of the prophecy. Maybe...maybe that's all I needed to do."
"Harris, I know what you're thinking, alright?", says Will. "Percy's already dating someone. And I don't even want to date him. I'd much rather date my soulmate if it's all the same to you."
"But the prophecy-"
"Venus said that if the prophecy is fulfilled, then I'll stop being in love with Percy."
Harris groans. "I effing hate being part of this thing."
Will hesitates for a beat, before saying, "Come to Mount Olympus with me."
"Yeah?", asks Harris.
Chapter 22: Every Action Has an Equal Opposite Reaction
Bet you can't guess what Award-winning musical inspired the chapter title.
Also: There's a single translation at the end of the chapter if you want it up and ready.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"We're sorry to have called you back so quickly, m'lady.", Reyna insists, folding her hands in front of her. "But we believe that we have solved the majority of the Prophecy."
Aphrodite glows a bright pink and is currently the height of a small monster, forcing both of the demigods to crane their necks upward. The goddess' face remains emotionless as she take a small step forward, the arena vibrating under the strength of it.
"Why have you requested my presence if you do not know it fully." It's a statement.
At this, Reyna turns to glare at Hazel. The daughter of Pluto simply smiles up kindly at the goddess of Love, clearing her throat.
"That was my idea, m'lady. Champions rarely decipher the prophecy fully, correct? They must attempt to find the meaning behind it as quickly as possible, then request a favor from their deity."
Aphrodite stern lips break into a smile as she radiates pride. "That is correct, my champion. Shall you make an offer, then?"
Reyna's eyebrows crease in confusion, as Hazel lowers herself to her knees. With a sharp look at her counterpart, she gets Reyna to follow suit.
"Lady Aphrodite", thunders Hazel so heroically that Reyna almost flinches. "Your champions, daughter of Pluto and daughter of Bellona, respectfully request three godly assists in exchange for information concerning the Prophecy of αγαπώ Despică."
"Request denied", states Aphrodite. Hazel looks particularly crushed, before the goddess hums, "I will grant you with four assists, instead. Permission?"
Hazel quickly stands to her feet, before squaring petite shoulders. "Permission granted."
It is several years of training that allow Reyna to keep her jaw from dropping. "What just happened?"
"I hope you don't mind", says Hazel distractedly, sitting herself on the stage. "I just swore you to an oath punishable by death."
"I do mind!", exclaims Reyna at the same time that Aphrodite requests their information.
"So, where we are we going?" asks Harris, attempting to match his own pace with the quick steps of the son of Apollo.
"Mount Olympus," Will hums, shooting the startled boy a smile. He reaches a tan hand and captures a freckled one, then entwines their fingers. A red hue covers the son of Aphrodite's neck, and his nose is scrunched in effort. Will lets out a guffaw.
"Are you trying to stop your blush?"
"Wait, you're blushing at hand holding?"
"Shut up, blondie!"
"Make me, carrot top."
So Harris pulls their clasped hands until Will's pressed against him, their noses barely touching, and makes him.
"I was an asshole. I was a major asshole, and way out of line, and I don't deserve you. I thought that you and Will were dating, so I just blew up. And I'm not trying make excuses for my actions, because--trust me--they were definitely inexcusable. But I still want you to know why I did it. I wanted to hurt you...like you had unconsciously hurt me. The fact that you might like me back didn't even cross my mind, so I had no idea I was hurting you even more because it was me. And the crowd...the crowd was a low-blow. It was despicable. I honestly didn't know that it was forming, but I'm sorry that you had to go through something so horrible. I...I humiliated you, and harassed you, and...I was a bully, okay? I don't deserve your love, or your friendship. I don't deserve your forgiveness. But I'm truly, from the bottom of my heart, sorry. Okay? I'm so, so, sorry, Nico. I'm sorry. And I-"
Percy chocks and shuts his eyes, but swallows his fear down. He opens up his two sea-green pools and announces: "I'm in love with you, Nico di Angelo."
The son of Poseidon is not sure whether he's more startled by Jason's applause or Nico's hands around his neck.
"Ti amo troppo, sei un idiota.", whispers Nico, bright brown eyes staring at him in awe, before pulling Percy down and capturing his lips.
Jason's applause skyrockets in noise and intensity.
"Ti amo troppo, sei un idiota." ---> "I love you too, you idiot."
Chapter 23: You Ain't Never Had a Goddess Like Me
Last chapter where you'll need a translation, I promise. (Or am I lying??)
Anyway, there's a single translation at the end!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Our first request is to unite The Heart."
"As you wish."
The first thing that Nico does upon suddenly appearing on the other side of that stupid dirt wall is sit. Percy squats down next to him, nudging the Italian's shoulder gently.
"Yeah," Nico sneers. "No thanks to you. I had to shadow-travel three bodies. Not to mention, I had to so in a hurry all because Aphrodite was-"
"So," says Annabeth, a startled grin on her face as she and Piper start towards them. "Nico hasn't been cursed?"
Percy glances at the Italian, who is now in a familiar set of jeans and his Aviator jacket, before saying, "He was, but then-"
"Leo," Jason lets out, upon seeing the dress-adorned Latino.
Leo Valdez's whole physique flushes red and he hides his face in two tan hands. Jason stares at him, seemingly in awe, but does not seem to notice the clothing. The son of Jupiter quite literally flies over to the boy and clutches his cheeks. Leo peeks at him between his fingers, but upon seeing the blond's silent tears, the Latino stops hiding his face. Leo takes a thumb and swipes it over Jason's cheek, effectively collecting stray tears. New ones replace them immediately.
"I thought I lost you," Jason grinds out, voicing cracking.
Leo opens his mouth to reassure the boy, but the son of Jupiter leans forward and captures the Latino's lips with his own. The two jump apart when they both get so excited that Leo burns Jason's lips at the same time that Jason sends a spark of electricity through Leo's. They both clutch their burning lips, letting out shy, amused laughter.
"Leo, I never got to tell you..." Jason falters, blinking his blue eyes rapidly. "Er...what are you wearing?"
Leo flushes red and blurts, "¡Cállate! Piper dice que miro caliente!"
Piper and Nico simultaneously snort at that, and Percy shoots them both a questioning look.
"Italian is similar to Spanish, so I decided to learn it.", shrugs Nico.
"I'm a child of Aphrodite, so love languages come with the territory.", shrugs Piper, before turning to a the love-struck blond.
"Jason, please stop drooling. You guys kissed, anyway, so the spell-"
As if on cue, Leo is emitted with a bright, pink light as the blouse of his dress shreds away to make room for a pair of suspenders.
"True Love's Kiss is an actual thing." Piper explains, as Leo's clothing transforms.
"Our second request is to reunite The Mixing of Blood."
"That particular reunion has already occurred."
"May we change the request?"
"Gods, you're like a genie."
"I suggest you watch your tongue, demigod."
"My apologies, m'lady. Our third request is a mode of transportation to Rachel Elizabeth Dare."
"As you wish."
"¡Cállate! Piper dice que miro caliente!"----> "Shut up! Piper says I look hot!"
Chapter 24: Can You Hear the Sound of Broken Hearts?
Sorry that I've been absent, guys! (I'm sure you know how essays are.)
"Love. What even is it?" he growls. "A mess of commitment, attraction, and bullshit."
"It will not prevail."
"But, dude," says the camper. "The Prophecy-"
"It will fail."
"It will fail, Gods dammit! It's utter bullshit and, and-"
"Damn," says the camper. "He really broke your heart, didn't he?"
"So," gasps Harris in complete awe, slowly spinning in a circle. "This is Mount Olympus."
"You're cute," Will responds distractedly, searching through the pockets of his kaki shorts. The son of Aphrodite flushes slightly at the comment, as Will triumphantly places a brown sac within his palm before turning to his soulmate.
"This is just the lobby. We still need to go up."
Will lets out a exasperated laugh, his shoulders thrown back from the weight of it. His blond locks curl at the crook of his neck; his tan nose crinkles; Harris is smitten.
"Gods," whispers Harris, stepping quite close to a slowly sobering Will. "I really want to kiss you."
Will breaks into another smile. "You want to kiss me?"
"You want to kiss me!"
"I want to punch you!"
The smile falters before failing completely. The blond takes a small step away from the other boy, and Harris' blue eyes flash with pain as he clenches his fists.
"It's him, isn't it?"
"That's who you thinking about, right? That's who you'd rather be kissing, yeah?"
"Percy bloody Jackson-"
"It's not his fault, dammit!"
Harris and Will both startle at the exclamation, before the redhead swallows.
"You're in love with him. Right." One set of blue eyes flicks away from the other. "Sorry."
"I won't be for long," Will says pleadingly, a cross between reassuring himself and comforting his soulmate.
"Right," Harris says again, quieter.
"Rachel," calls a warm voice. "You have visitors."
The Oracle lazily blinks open bottle green eyes, shifting slightly to a more comfortable position on her pillows. "Will..."
"What?" calls a stern female voice. "Are you dreaming? Get up! We need to talk to you!"
"Reyna!" snaps a much different voice, softer but just as sternly as its predecessor. "She recovering from an injury. We're lucky she's even conscious right now."
"Will has a soulmate," hums the Oracle, closing her eyes again.
"Will has a what?"
"It's not Nico."
"Why the hell would Will and Nico be soulmates?"
"Reyna, we should be more concerned by the fact that a pair of soulmates even exist!"
"It's dangerous, obviously. But this must be the third couple of the Prophecy."
"Will isn't Norse, and Nico is not his soulmate."
"You sure about that, protective mama bear?"
"It's heartbreaking," whimpers Rachel, slowly pulling the covers over her head. "Will's so in love, you know? But he's breaking so many hearts."
"In love?", gasps the soft voice as the stern one snaps at Rachel.
"Who's Will in love with, Rachel? We need to know!"
"Red hair," the Oracle giggles from under vast array of blankets. "I saw lots of red hair. It's me."
"Is it Rachel?"
"I don't think so. Rachel has a bit of crush on him, but..."
"But what? Will doesn't like her back?"
"I...I know who Will's in love with. He basically proclaimed it when Chiron thought he was flirting with Rachel."
"Who? Wait, Hazel, why are you crying? Is it Nico?"
"I...I think that Percy and Will are soulmates."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Nico's heart is going to break."
"Hazel, this puts us back at square one in terms of the Prophecy, and we already used our godly assists. Are you positive that they're soulmates?"
"I'm...not. But you can have more than one soulmate."
"The idea of a soulmate polygamy is so rare that it's almost nonexistent."
"So is the idea of soulmates."
"We need to get Rachel back up. Now."
"There's no security?" Harris asks as the elevator shoots up smoothly.
"There usually is," Will hums nervously, "But they must've been expecting us."
Just as Will finishes his sentence, the elevator shutters to a halt. The son of Apollo makes to exit, but Harris pushes him back in.
"There's no way we're at the six-hundredth floor, yet. We were only in here for, like, two minutes."
"Harris, we're demigods."
"But what if it's a trap?"
"This is no trap, Mortal," booms a voice from afar. Harris stiffens and another voices huffs.
"Wait, wait, wait. I'm confused; is he a demigod or a Mortal?"
Several larger-than-life voices chime in via screaming inquiries and shouting opinions. Will smiles cheekily before nudging his soulmate out of the elevator.
"I'm pretty sure," Will says, "That we're at the six-hundredth floor."
When Rachel wakes up again, it is with a much clearer head and a much more excitable disposition. Hazel and Reyna peer at her from the chairs across the room, seemingly in patience.
"The Gods need mortals!" Rachel declares, propping herself up on two shaky elbows. "But they don't want to admit it!"
"Please tell me that you didn't wake up just to tell us something so painfully obvious," moans Reyna, ignoring the harsh shove she receives from an annoyed Hazel.
Rachel laughs, regretting it immediately when her head throbs and the room spins. Surprisingly, it is Reyna that scurries over first, pushing Rachel back down onto the mattress.
"That's why Aphrodite told you about the Norse world," the ginger croaks out.
"How did you-" Hazel swallows down her question upon remembering the fact that her friend is the Oracle.
"But really it's Mortal," Rachel continues.
"The three worlds," Rachel hums, "Greek. Roman. Mortal. That's it. Not Norse, at all."
"She purposely misled us?" cries Reyna in disdain.
"She had to. If you had found out everything on your own, then you wouldn't have come to me."
"And why did we need to come to you?" asks Hazel.
"I don't know yet-"
"Great," huffs Reyna.
"But," huffs Rachel, "I had a vision of Aphrodite telling Nico about the three worlds. She told him the truth instead of her champions, so he must be part of the Prophecy."
"We got that far."
"It's the reason that I wanted to tell Will about the Prophecy, because I was almost positive that he and Nico were soulmates."
"Was positive?" asks Reyna at the same time Hazel questions, "Not Will and Percy?"
"Chiron was trying to stop me from making a grave mistake," gasps Rachel, the weight of this realization causing her to sit up once more.
"You know, back in the hole," Percy says bashfully, looking at his sneakers, "You...you said you loved me."
Nico's pale cheeks tinge pink, as he crosses his arms, looking away from the boy. "Shut up, Percy."
A beat of silence.
"I do, by the way," Nico grinds out from between clenched teeth, still looking away. "Love you."
Nico stands abruptly before Percy can respond. "Now let's find my father, so that he can explain why I almost died in a hole."
Chapter 26: Hey Baby, I Think...
Long time, no write! (I'm sorry, guys! I've been busier than a bee filing a court case.) Please enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason knows that seeking out Hades to ask about something that Aphrodite is responsible for could--and most likely will--cause more trouble for the already exhausted demigod gang. But Leo is babbling beside him, Nico is grumbling ahead of him, and everything feels...normal. (Well, as normal as the situation could be.)
"Leo," says Jason quite suddenly. It startles his friends to a stop. Nico and Percy turn to look at him, their fingers entwined. Annabeth and Piper, seemingly grateful for the excuse, lower themselves to the ground to rest aching feet, and Leo gives Jason a bright, patient smile.
"What up, Supes?"
The son of Jupiter flushes slightly, the top of his cheeks turning pink, but he squares his shoulders. Piper attempts to hide her excited grin in Annabeth's shoulder, who replies by patting the daughter of Aphrodite on her head. Jason clears his throat uncomfortably and takes a step forward. Leo, now nervous about the strange proceedings, widens his eyes slightly and takes a startled step backward. Jason lets him, clenches his hands into fists, stares pointedly into Leo's mocha eyes and proclaims:
"I love you."
Piper begins to squeal into Annabeth's juncture, as Percy and Nico flick their eyes toward one another in a shared wave of deja vu. Leo blinks, his eyes widening further, and chocks out: "W-what?"
Jason flicks his eyes to the ground. "I never got to say it back, after you...you kissed me. And when you fell into that ditch, I couldn't stop thinking about how you were probably in there, all alone, with no idea how I felt...h-how I feel...about you, o-or toward you, or-"
The blond cuts himself off, giving a frustrated groan at his subpar explanation. He flicks his eyes back up toward the blushing Latino and bravely roars:
"I love you, Leo Valdez!"
Leo's entire body begins to tremble. There are no tears. There is a lack of blushing. The Latino, seemingly overcome by emotion, has his lips parted in a gape, his left arm stretched toward Jason, and a vibration ricocheting within him. His heart has never been so full. Joy. Hope. Love. Joy, hope, love. Joyhopelove. joyhopelovejoyhopelovejoyhopelovejhljhljhljhl-
"Leo?" whispers a startled Nico.
Jason wrist begins to burn with a white-hot intensity, and he snaps the elegant chain of his bracelet as he howls with pain. The attached heart charm, scolding hot, rapidly vibrates before floating above the demigods. It proceeds to zoom about in front of Jason, spelling out letters like a Fourth of July sparkler. The son of Jupiter, all to familiar with this concept, closes his eyes, seeing the bright words burned into his vision: MY HEART. The trinket halts. Suddenly, the metal begins to rust and, for a moment, the charm seems almost copper. It is then that the rust itself gives way, and--before their eyes--reveals shining crystal. The crystal heart charm mimics having a heartbeat:
.. / .-- .- -. - / - --- / -- .- .-. .-. -.-- / -.-- --- ..- .-.-.-
Piper lets out a strangled gasp.
The chain threads its thin links together, forming a band. The crystal heart grows exceptionally smaller, then shoots towards Jason at an alarming speed. It halts just above the right of his knuckle. It hovers there. Jason moves his hand, and the makeshift ring follows his movement, continuing to float above his hand. It lets out the small heartbeat one more time:
.. / .-- .- -. - / - --- / -- .- .-. .-. -.-- / -.-- --- ..- .-.-.-
Then goes silent.
Jason gapes at Leo, who is now trembling harder. The Latino swipes at the tears streaming down his face.
"Piper?" Jason mummers. "What did-?"
"It meant 'I love you, too," Leo chocks out, and Jason scoops the boy up into his arms, twirling him until Leo has laughter rather than happy sobbing.
Piper bites her tongue, her eyebrows raised above her hairline. Annabeth frowns at her, as Nico and Percy crouch down beside the girls. Both Jason and Leo ignore their friends, trapped air-tight within their bubble of happiness.
"Piper," hums Annabeth. "What was that truly Morse Code for?"
"I just don't understand why it's above my hand," Jason's perplexed comment interrupts. "I mean, it's a ring now, right?"
Leo shrugs his shoulders, his embarrassed gaze flicking to Piper. Jason accepts the answer, and hugs the Latino once more. With his gaze still locked with kaleidoscope eyes, Leo watches over Jason's shoulder as Piper quietly announces to the other demigods:
"It said, 'I want to marry you.'"
Percy, Nico, and Annabeth--in that order--widen their eyes. Piper lets out an exhilarated burst of laughter, causing Jason--still hugging his love--to call out: "What's so funny, over there?"
"We'll tell you at the wedding," Nico teases, just to see Leo predictably flush. Leo does not disappoint, and his cheeks turn a fierce red. He groans before attempting to hide in Jason's neck. Percy and Annabeth join the daughter of Aphrodite in her laughter.
Jason finally releases Leo from their hug, and shoots a confused smile at his friends.
...I wanna marry you~
Chapter 27: Gods, They're Annoying.
Homophobia is a thing. No, really. People get killed for being with someone of the same-sex. So, Will Solace has already mentally prepared himself for a weapon being pointed at him for holding hands with the guy he loves. Did he expect the weapon to be a lightning bolt? No. Did he expect the situation to occur due to soulmate-phobia, rather than homophobia? Definitely not. But he has already mentally prepared himself, dammit. So, the son of Apollo squeezes his soulmate's hand, cranes his next incredibly far back, and shouts at least twenty feet in the air, "Violence is not the answer!"
Zeus' eyes literally flash, as he raises his bolt higher. The Olympians--sitting in their own thrones--titter at the display. Harris blinks at Will, his face flushing with adoration, and quietly proclaims, "Oh my gods. Oh my gods."
"While I completely disagree with that cutesy, bumper sticker slogan," sighs Ares, pampering his nails with a filer roughly the size of a tree trunk, "You can't kill them."
"You dare tell me what I can and can not do?" roars the God of thunder, his bolt now flashing with same intensity of his stormy eyes. Twisting winds curl around the uninterested deity.
"Aphrodite is in charge of this Prophecy, father," Athena states firmly, and the wind stills. "When she is not here, Ares is second in command."
"What of Eros?"
"Business," she hums. "With the demigods."
At long last, Zeus seems begrudgingly placated. Harris takes this as his cue to kneel, and Will quickly drops to his knees soon after.
"We have reason to believe that Will has been summoned here," says the son of Aphrodite, flashing them a polite, toothy smile. And Will is so very grateful that hes already kneeling because he just felt his knees go weak.
"You are very much in love, Son of Apollo," Athena observes. "With this mortal."
He feels Harris' gaze trained on him, but Will looks only at the Goddess, his cheeks warming, and croaks, "V-very much, yes."
Harris gives the smallest gasp of surprise, and Will closes his eyes so that he's not tempted to look at the smile likely to be blooming on his soulmate's face, because there is only one way this conversation can be going if the Goddess of Wisdom is involved--
"Yet, you force him to split your love with a demigod. Who wants none of it."
"Ouch," snort Ares, watching Harris' bright grin flicker. "No tact, 'Thena, I swear."
"It's a requirement of the Prophecy," Will says tightly, before finally flicking his eyes to Harris, and insisting: "It is a very upsetting requirement of the Prophecy."
"According to whom?"
"Try again," teases the God of war, throwing two arms up behind his head.
"Fine. Venus," Will huffs, grasping desperately at his last shred of respect for these entities, lest he lose his patience.
"Only Aphrodite may arrange requirements among the Greek demigods within the Prophecy," Athena declares, as if addressing the weather. "Any demands she made, were simply that. Demands."
A blinding light fills the surrounding area, and the two demigods shield their eyes.
"Oh, son," thrills a light-hearted voice, as Will blinks the spots from his vision. "What have you gotten yourself into this time?"
Apollo roams his eyes over his child in bemusement, before flicking them over to a stricken Harris.
"Eh. We'll discuss it later. As of now, I have a very important message for your boyfriend."
"Soulmate," Will says offhandedly, still surprised at the sudden appearance of his father. "Hello, dad. That...the letter? Is it-"
Apollo flips the golden envelope between his fingers before tossing it, Frisbee-style, at the ginger demigod.
"It's a sweet, little love letter from your greatest admirer, champ," Apollo says, much too solemnly. "Alexi."
Harris glaces at Will just to make sure that they're both equally confused.
"Ah," says Athena, leaning forward ever-so-slightly. "The plot thickens."
Chapter 28: The God of the Sun's Sons Love to Love the Sons of the Goddess of Love
I implore you to take precaution when meeting Will Solace. I know you have that stupid crush on him, but your cabin's been buzzing about the news of him being a soulmate. Some say it's Nico di Angelo and others say it's Percy Jackson. I know what you're thinking, and it's not you, dude. Okay? He's part of a Prophecy much bigger than the rest of us, so you need to let him go. And even if he is your soulmate (which he's not), he may also be the soulmate of someone else. I know you, Harris. You hate sharing. And the only way to destroy a soulmate polyamory is if one soulmate destroyed the other. You're not capable of murder, Harris.
I miss we miss you back home. I still don't get why you don't think you're a demigod. You have a great taste in fashion, an impeccable bone structure, and the power to make me those around you weak at the knees fall in love with you awe-struck. You must best a child of Aphrodite.
Dammit. The crossouts make this obvious, don't they? Shit. There's no way I can send this to you now...but already wasted, like, a quarter of the page. Maybe I can just vent a little to the hypothetical you, and then throw this into the fire?
Alright, here goes nothing:
I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you since our second year of camp, and I can't believe you haven't noticed. Maybe you really aren't a child of Aphrodite. Because the rest of the camp teased me about you for, like, three years without you noticing. And then they gave me pitying looks for the rest of our time at camp, because of your stupid crush on my brother, and you still. didn't. notice.
Gods, what am I going to do with you, love?
I really do miss you, 'ya know? As soon as I'm done writing this, I'm going to try contacting my dad. Apollo's been feeling quite generous lately, due to the Prophecy. Apparently, he finds flirting very important, and apparently that's connected to Aphrodite just enough for him to care.
I wish I had the guts to actually send this to you. But...who am I kidding, right? You'd freak out. You're my best friend, and there's no way I'm going to lose you just because you and your Aphrodite charm wormed its way into my heart. (And your smirk, and your eyes, and your freckles, and your laugh, and your clumsiness, and even that cute,
heartbreaking, little smile you get when you're staring at Will...fuck.)
This is stupid. This is so fucking stupid. I thought this would be a healthy way to vent, but it's only hurting me more. I'm done.
Will flicks his eyes across the throne room to where his soulmate has begun to shake with contained anger.
"Why is Harris glaring at my father?"
"Never mind that," drones an uninterested Hades. He stands to his feet, before proceeding to shrink and lower until he is at Will's height. "The two of us need to talk."
"Splendid idea!" announces a cautious Apollo, clutching onto the trembling shoulder of Harris. "The mortal and I will do the same. Er, elsewhere!"
Elsewhere happened to be Camp Half-Blood. Apollo leaned on the doorway to the Infirmary with such an air of nonchalance, that it only elevated Hariss' anger.
"You stole that letter from him, didn't you?"
"He threw into the fire during lunch," hums the God with a tilt of his head, observing the boy in front of him. "I took it as an offering to me."
"It was a piece of paper, not a piece of food!"
"I am aware. But it contained information concerning the Prophecy that I believed you could benefit from," Apollo granted him with a bright, charming smile, that reminded him so much of his soulmate that he wanted to scream. "You're welcome."
"It also contained information concerning his feelings, that I'm sure he very much did not want me to know about!"
"Did he not what you to know, or did you just not want to know?"
Harris faltered for only a millisecond. "I-this isn't about me! This is about the fact that you exposed your son's secret crush to his secret crush."
"And why do you care so much about that part of the letter, son of Aphrodite?"
"You literally just answered your own question!"
"So, it is only Aphrodite's blood that makes you this fierce about his love."
"I am not fierce about his love!" Harris roars, before the irony causes him to settle once more. His insides twist and turn in confusion. He blinks at the amused God in front of him.
"I mean, of course I am," decides Harris, cautiously. "He's my best friend. And if he finds out that I know, he'll be mortified."
"You are very concerned about his feelings," Apollo observes. "But have yet to mention your own."
"I am the soulmate of your other son, and I happen to love him with every fiber in my being," snaps the red-head.
"And if you were not?"
"What?" says Harris, startled at Apollo's odd question. The God tilts his head forward in an inquiry.
"And if you were not the soulmate of my other son? If you did not love Will? What then?"
"I...but I do," lets out the demigod brokenly, in a confused almost-whisper. "I do love Will."
"I would be very concerned if you did not," agrees Apollo. "But if you lacked feelings for one of my sons, could you find it within yourself to love the other?"
"Why...why are you asking me this?"
Apollo says nothing except, "I would never have purposely embarrassed my son."
Apollo snaps his fingers, and the campgrounds seem to shake with the tremors of a non-threatening earthquake. A few campers nearby startle at the movements, and Apollo disappears. Not even a moment later does the Infirmary door creak open and a startled Alexi stumble out with a centaur.
"What do you think caused the camp to shake?" Chiron asks the demigod.
Alexi almost answers, but pauses as soon as he sees an anxious Harris standing in front of him. He breaks into a pure, honest smile at the prospect of his best friend's impromptu return to camp, and Harris wants to kick himself for not noticing it before. The smile falters, before dropping completely in order to make way for the horror-struck grimace on Alexi's face. Harris watches as his best friend stares, unblinking, at the pen-marked paper clutched in the red-head's hand.
"Where did you get that?" Alexi almost squeaks, and Hariss' heart breaks at the fear strewn across the other boy's face.
Chiron seems to sense the shift in atmosphere, so he politely gallops toward--strangely--Aphrodite's cabin.
Chapter 30: Interlude?
Please comment if you would like me to continue.
Chapter 31: Announcement
This story will be continued. Please look for updates beginning March 5th.