3 years later
Nico screamed into the hand towel with every ounce of frustration and agony his form contained. He screamed and bit and wept against the course fabric; barely able to keep himself as silent as he was.
Then when he was done he began stomping.
The tiny plastic stick at his feet didn’t stand a chance beneath his boots as he attacked it with all the anger of an enraged demigod.
He stomped and smashed till only bits of plastic and metal remained.
He stomped until his anger drained and only his sorrow lingered. Then he waved his hand and sent the debris away using shadow travel to some place no one else would ever see it.
Some place where Will would never have to see it; he’d seen enough of them over the last three years. When every last little piece was gone Nico sank to the bathroom floor and continued his weeping.
3 years. 6 heats. 6 ruts.
And still every pregnancy test he took came back negative. Every single one.
A year of without conception was concerning.
Two was worrisome.
Three was tragic.
Between his sobs Nico almost laughed.
Of course he couldn’t get pregnant. He was the son of the god of death. What life could spring from a man who was half dead to begin with?
Because Alpha’s were never sterile, it had to be his fault.
He was broken. Faulty. Whole in form, but not in function.
It was worse than that though. Worse than knowing he’d never have any children of his own. That no Michael or Bianca with his blood would ever step foot on the Earth.
Worse than that was the fact that he’d taken that dream away from Will.
He’d promised the blonde babies. A huge family to call their own.
They’d once argued about whether they should have 5 or 6 to start with.
Nico couldn’t even give him one.
Every attempted ended the same; with Nico crying and apologizing to Will for being defective. The blonde would kiss him and soothe him and tell him they’d try again.
Gods knew that they tried. Every heat, every rut, every single chance they got they tried.
There had been heats that they’d nearly never parted from one another for fear of missing their miracle moment. The instant that never came where life would take root inside the raven instead of withering before fruition.
Each time with the same result as planting seeds in barren soil. Nothing.
Now Nico could barely stand the feel of Will’s hands on his stomach. Knowing that his mate’s healing touch would only feel how empty Nico was inside. How broken.
How he’d ruined their dreams before they’d even begun.
He hated himself. He hated his body. He even hated every drop of demigod blood in his veins. He would have traded all his powers, all his gifts, for even the chance to be a normal Omega and give Will what he wanted. What they both wanted.
When Nico was dry of tears and drained of energy he leaned against the sink in their bathroom and let the coolness of it his seep into his overheated skin.
How could he tell Will he’d failed again? How could he stand to step outside their cabin again and feel the pitying looks from everyone who saw him?
All of them thinking: There goes Nico back from his heat leave. Wonder if he’ll ever actually get pregnant like a real Omega.
Everyone at camp knew they were trying; and everyone knew it was Nico’s fault they were failing.
Because Will was always reading medical texts on the subject, fussing over his diet, giving him vitamins and making sure Nico spent extra time resting before and after a heat. Everything and more than any Alpha could be expected to do.
All of it was a painful reminder of the fact that he was blessed with the best Alpha in the entire mortal realm and he in turn was a curse upon that Alpha.
And all he could possibly do in return was try to do what his Alpha said and make his nests as comfortable as possible. Will had read somewhere that the comfort of a nest could heavily influence chances of impregnation and ever since Nico had been obsessed with making the perfect one.
Even if it meant kicking Will out of their cabin a whole week before his heat began to start it. Even when it meant practically smothering their space in cloth and supplies.
Even when none of them ever turned out as perfectly as the first one he’d made. When he’d been younger and untroubled with doubts about his fertility.
That nest had been made with all of his hope and his love.
The ones he made after were crude imitations crafted in desperation and despair. Even Will’s compliments on them fell flat despite his best efforts.
The only thing he’d done right as an Omega was to get the best Alpha available to be his mate. And now he didn’t know if he’d get to say that for much longer.
In Nico’s original time barren Omega were considered almost less than human. They had failed at the one thing Omega were supposed to excel at more than any other designation. It was considered a shameful thing to be known as even a relative to a sterile Omega, let alone a sterile Omega yourself.
Three years was the cut off deadline back then. If a claimed Omega gave their Alpha no children after trying for that long it had been socially acceptable to leave them.
Lucky ones went back to their families with only the pain of a removed claiming mark.
Unlucky ones didn’t have families that would take them back or were too heart broken from the loss of their mate to live.
His childhood home in Italy had been close to a bridge that sterile Omega were famous for jumping off of.
He knew people didn’t think that way about sterile Omega anymore and he also knew Will would never leave him. The blonde took things like claiming and mating more seriously than anyone Nico had ever known.
Will would stand by him through Tartarus, through war, even through barrenness.
But Nico couldn’t ask that of him. He couldn’t ask Will to give up his greatest dream for him.
He would have to be the one that made the hard decision. To set Will free.
He’d tell Will it was over and then he’d leave. Camp Half Blood had been Will’s home far longer than his and the camp needed its head doctor more than its funeral director.
Will would grieve, but he’d heal. Eventually he’d take a new mate and have a whole litter of children with blonde hair and Zaffre blue eyes.
Nico……..He’d figure out another way to live. Away from his home. Away from his Tesoro.
That last failed test had cemented the idea for him.
He’d asked Will to make sure he had some free time after his infirmary shift for them to talk. So that he could break the news that he wasn’t pregnant and leaving all in one fell swoop.
To rip it off quick like a bandage.
Through the cracked open bathroom door he noted the setting of the sun. Will would be there soon.
Nico wetted a different wash cloth and wiped it across his face with care. He didn’t need to worry his mate on sight with his tear drenched face.
He’d just finished that task when he heard the feather light footfalls of his mate across their now nestless cabin.
Nico never liked to look at them long after his heat was over, so Will was always careful to pack up as much as he could while Nico napped for several hours following his heats.
Like a healthy fertile Omega. He thought bitterly before smoothing over his features.
He’d promised himself at least a few happy moments with his mate before he told him.
Just a last precious few.
“Angel.” Will called out for him.
Nico’s eyes welled just a little with fresh tears.
That might be the last time he ever calls me that. He thought bitterly.
With great effort the Italian swallowed down the rising sob and exited the bathroom.
He must have done a poor job with his face because it only took Will a moment to see it and understand.
“Oh Sunshine.” He whispered sorrowfully.
Nico nodded his head to affirm his mate’s obvious suspicion about the results of his last test and didn’t fight the blonde when warm arms wrapped around him. He sniffled against the blonde’s collarbone and whimpered sorry over and over. Will just smoothed down his frazzled hair and kissed his forehead.
“You have nothing to be sorry for Sunshine.” The blonde assured him.
That just somehow made Nico feel worse.
“I’m broken inside Will.” He admitted around a sob. “I can’t give you kids. I can’t give you what I promised. I’m a failure. A freak of nature.” He sobbed.
This had building up inside him for so long that now that he knew they would soon be over he couldn’t keep it inside anymore.
“I’m damaged goods Will. Barren soil.” He informed the blonde with a dwindling voice. “You deserve the best Omega and I’m just me.”
With mounting despair and anger Nico clawed at his claiming mark through his shirt with one hand.
“I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve you.”
Will caught his hand before the raven could really dig into his own skin and ruin his mark.
“Gods Nico.” He gasped in horror. “Is that what you really think?”
Nico was too drained from his earlier crying and outburst to do more than nod and whisper.
“I can’t keep doing this Will. I can’t keep ruining this for you…I….I can’t be your mate anymore.”
Will looked like his mate had just admitted he was part Gorgon or some other unbelievably monstrous thing.
“You don’t mean that.” Will argued firmly; even as his eyes widened and his voice cracked.
“I do.” The raven insisted weakly as he stepped out of Will’s reach.
“I love you Nico.” The blonde declared with desperate honesty as his arms chased after the raven’s retreating form. “You can’t say that you don’t love me back. You wouldn’t have stayed with me this long if you didn’t.”
Nico swiped a tear from his eye and avoided Will’s beseeching gaze. He couldn’t say he didn’t love Will. Even at his weakest he couldn’t lie like that.
“I don’t need kids Nico.” The blonde continued, sensing Nico’s budding hesitance.
“I’ve got a whole camp full of kids to love and look after. But there’s only one you Sunshine and I wouldn’t trade you for all the children in the world.”
Nico barely dared to hope that the blonde was being honest as he tentatively met his gaze.
“It’s been three years Will. At this point it’s pretty much guaranteed I’m sterile. You say you don’t want kids now, but what if you regret that later in life? What if you regret staying with me when you could have an Omega with working parts?”
Will inched closer to the raven until he was sure that Nico wasn’t about to bolt and then he gathered his mate up in his arms.
“We can adopt. We can surrogate. We have options Angel. This isn’t the end of the world. We tried. We’ll keep trying. We matter more than some potential child.”
Will gathered the other man’s face between his palms.
In-between every sentence he paused to kiss Nico.
“You are perfect.”
“And hands down the best Omega I have ever known.”
Will placed one last kiss on his forehead.
“You can’t let the negative stuff get bottled up like that Angel. Talk to me. I’m your mate. Your Alpha. I’ll listen. I’ll understand.”
Will pressed their foreheads together and sighed. “I’m the one that’s been pushing you too hard about this with all my talk of your diet and resting. I should have considered how that’d make you feel. What kind of pressure that would put on you. I was just trying to help. I promise I’ll try to take a step back and look into other ways. Okay?”
Nico nodded to show his understanding before finally allowed himself to collapse into Will’s arms.
“I…I thought I was going to have to leave.” He sobbed against the blonde’s top.
“Never Angel.” Will promised. “You’re home. You’re my home. We’ll have the family we want someday. Maybe not the way we planned to get it, but we’ll have it.”
Nico leaned against Will’s chest and prayed that that was true.
Will was true to his word and locked all his medical journals away. He stopped stressing over Nico’s diet and the pair began spending much more quality time together again.
Nico felt like he’d been carrying the world on his shoulders for so long that finally sharing it with Will again made him feel several hundred pounds lighter.
They were finally talking like they used to without the taboo topic of their fertility issues hanging over their heads. It felt okay now to talk about having testing done and to consider options like adoption. Nico was obviously dubious of their chances at that though. The Italian barely existed on paper outside of Camp Half Blood; no mortal adoption agency would give a child to someone whose background contained a 70 something year gap in it.
Even if Will tried adopting alone he couldn’t very well give a home address of Camp Half Blood. It wasn’t exactly a place where a home visit could be safely made. Even if it was possible, one look at the literal Wall of Lava would get them red stamped quicker than they could say welcome.
So mortal adoption was out and demigod adoption had never really been a thing before.
Demigod children could never technically be orphans give the fact that one of their parents had to be immortal, but gods were never known for their parenting skills.
Still, demigod children very seldom lost their mortal parents. Gods tended to keep at least a little bit of an eye on the parents of their children and monsters usually weren’t interested in them like they were their young.
Still, there were the occasional exceptions.
More than half of the Seven had been orphans.
Leo, Frank, Hazel, and even Jason.
And of course, so had Bianca and Nico.
Still, most orphaned demigod children arrived at Camp Half Blood as preteens, already being trained for battle and in need of more guidance than parenting.
Infant and toddler demigods were almost unheard of at camp, even with the promise Percy had gotten from the gods about revealing all their children; if only because mortal parents or relatives normally stepped up to raise them.
So no little demigod child was going to come crawling through the barriers to them anytime soon.
It had been a tough discussion, had over popcorn and lit only by Will’s comforting glow in the dark, but in the end they knew adoption had a very slim chance of happening.
That left surrogacy or egg donation. Which admittedly had its own hurdles to overcome.
If Nico was as sterile as they both feared that meant they’d need to get an egg donor to contribute the part of the child’s conception that Nico couldn’t.
Through mortal means the same obstacles existed as with adoption, but through a demigod donor it was theoretically possible.
Within minutes they had a short list started as to who they could ask to do something so major for them.
Annabeth, Piper, Reyna, and of course Nico’s own sister Hazel; if she wasn’t infertile like him. If even with their aid Nico’s body couldn’t support another life within it their lists also covered possible surrogates.
Nico hoped for it to be possible for him to receiving a donated egg rather than have them use a surrogate.
Just the thought of another Omega carrying Will’s child inside them nearly sent him into hysterics. The idea of another Omega smelling like Will, rounding with his mate’s child, made him feel a twisted combination of panic and despair. Will would want to be close to the Omega carrying his offspring, he’d want to protect them and pamper them and eventually he’d fall in love with them; Nico was sure of it.
Nico knew himself well enough to know he’d never be able to handle it. He’d get too jealous, too protective. He hated to cut off another of the few option they had to choose from, but he had to be honest. He told Will about his worries even though it made his frame shake and his voice quiver. Even though he felt awful just voicing them.
Will just smiled and kissed his cheek.
“Then no surrogates. Not if it makes you uncomfortable. We’ll find another way.”
Nico sagged against his mate with relief.
Will wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close until the raven’s back was to his chest.
“Thank you for telling me.” He whispered into the raven’s hair.
Nico leaned in his head further back until he was able to lean all the way onto his mate.
“Thank you for understanding.”
Will didn’t say anything back, just intertwined their fingers and continued to glow.