Will was quick to exit the infirmary after his shift was over and rush to the cabin he shared with Nico. The raven’s illness had been plaguing his thoughts almost as much as it was plaguing his mate’s body. Nico had no fever, no lingering nausea after throwing up almost every day, not even a hint of congestion. Yet Will could see the toll the mysterious illness was taking on his mate.
It pained him both as an Alpha and a healer to be unable to diagnose and treat his mate. Especially when it was his literal demigod gift to do so.
That morning Nico had seemed a tad more chipper as he nibbled at crackers to keep his stomach calm; it gave Will a twinge of hope that maybe his love was on the mend.
When the blonde finally arrived at their cabin though, it was to a sight he hadn’t seen in ages.
Nico was laid sprawled across their bed and looking at the ceiling with the dreamiest expression on his face. His hair was pooled around his pale face like spilled ink and his hands were resting comfortably over his stomach.
Had his face been flushed Will would have been worried he’d been dazed by fever. Instead the Italian looked calmer and more relaxed than he had in ages.
“Angel?” Will called curiously.
Lidded dark chocolate colored eyes smiled at him from below night colored bangs.
“Tesoro. You’re back.”
Will dropped his bag and hurried to his love’s side. “How are you feeling Angel? How’s your stomach?”
To the blonde’s utter confusion, the raven just beamed at him.
“Why don’t you check for yourself?” He all but giggled.
Will brushed his hand over Nico’s forehead first to check for a temperature. His mate rarely laughed, let alone giggled; this wasn’t like him at all.
Still, his powers told him that Nico wasn’t running a fever, so he did as instructed and placed his palms on his mate’s exposed stomach. Instantly he felt vitals being flashed across his mind as clearly as they would have a hospital monitor.
•Blood pressure: 90/60 mm Hg
•Breathing: 15 breaths per minute.
•Pulse: 75 beats per minute.
•Pulse: 135 beats per minute
What? Two pulses?
Realization fell over the blonde like a smothering blanket as his powers gave him more and more information confirming his suspicion.
This was the first time he’d tried to actively check Nico’s abdomen in weeks; wrist and forehead vitals were so much easier, he’d thought that was enough, he’d thought…..
“Nico…..Nico…..you’re…” He couldn’t get the words out.
The raven placed his hand over his mate’s and squeezed it.
“I took a test thing morning. I haven’t been able to stop looking at it.”
Right on cue Will noticed the test on their bedside table, the positive sign a visual confirmation of everything his powers were telling him.
“I’m pregnant Will.” Nico sighed happily.
Will’s temperature dropped. He could feel the heat, the warmth, the very sun given power in his veins drained from his bloodstream like it was being leeched from every place his skin touched Nico’s.
A lump of cold hard dread settled in his throat and stole all his air.
It must have shown on his face, because the raven’s eyes widened as his grip tightened.
“Will, what’s wrong? Is the baby okay?”
Will tried to swallow, to inhale, to do anything other than gasp as the information sunk in.
Nico sat up and crawled closer to his mate.
“You’re scaring me Tesoro.” He breathed anxiously.
“You’re pregnant.” Will exhaled hollowly.
Nico nodded his head hesitantly and tried to pull his mate closer. He reached out and cupped his mate’s face between his hands so that the blonde would look at him.
“Talk to me.” He ordered quietly.
Will placed his hands over Nico’s and bit back tears.
“Who’s…….Who’s the father?”
Will could feel the literal jolt of surprise travel through his mate.
“How….how can you ask me that?” Nico asked with more astonishment than anything else.
Nico had been so happy, so excited about this miracle inside him, he’d never stop to consider the idea that his mate would be anything less than thrilled at the news.
Not until Will turned away from his gaze and touch.
“I’m sterile Nico. How can I not ask?” Will all but spat back.
He hadn’t meant to say it like that, to betray an anger that he was barely even grasping at the moment, but he had and he could practically feel the sting of it on his mate.
Still, he was too overwhelmed to stop himself from continuing.
“I told you we could get a sperm donor, I told you I’d raise them as my own, but to go behind my back like this, to pick someone without consulting me, without even telling me, how could you do that?”
Nico was too shocked to respond.
A barely withheld growl bubbled up inside Will’s chest.
“How did you get pregnant?”
The thought of another touching his mate, seeing Nico’s expression of pleasure, seeing his mate’s neck bared in ecstasy, scolded his veins with the intensity of the heat of his anger. Every Alpha instinct in him rebelled against the idea.
His mate pulled away from him and crossed his arms protectively over his stomach.
“You know how I got pregnant Will. You were there; you were there biting my mark and screaming my name! A fucking miracle happens and all you can think to do is accuse me of cheating on you?!”
“You can’t say that I’m the father Nico! I took every test imaginable to see if we could have a child, I tried everything I could think of to make that happen, and I know for a fact that it just isn’t possible! So just tell me who the fucking father is!”
It was Nico’s turn to snarl as tears filled his eyes.
“This is our child Will. Our miracle! I don’t care what your tests said, you got me pregnant! Why aren’t you happy about this?”
The lights dimmed and brightened as the shadows withered around them in a strange combination of both their powers affecting the cabin.
“How am I supposed to be happy about the fact you cheated on me!?” Will screamed with enough force in his voice to shatter two of the light bulbs in their bathroom.
Every insecurity, every doubt he’d had since even before he’d even found out he was sterile bubbled up inside of the blonde and gushed out in a wave of everything ugly that had been fermenting inside of him.
He’d always known he wasn’t good enough to be the mate of one of the children of the big three. The mate of the man who even as a teen had done more for the mortal realm that most of the camp had done combined. Of an Omega powerful enough to not even need a mate.
Who’d become Will’s mate anyway.
Nico’s glare looked deadly enough to send him directly to the Underworld with less effort than it took the younger demigod to blink, but beneath that anger, Will could see desperation and even fear.
The blonde didn’t understand it. Even while being attacked by an Alpha in heat Nico hadn’t shown any fear. The few time that Will had ever seen his mate afraid was when….when he was scared of being rejected. Of being left.
Will could see him trembling; see his pale hands splayed protectively over his abdomen, his stance and his body tensing for action.
Nico was ready to protect this child. To protect the potential person inside of him as an avalanche of parental instincts brought with it a literal rumble of a growl from the Italian’s lips.
Nico was scared. Worse, he was scared of Will. Of being left by one more person he loved.
That thought alone sapped the anger out of the son of Apollo so quick the entire room went pitch black.
He had the power to scare Nico because it was given to him, because he was trusted with it.
Nico trusted him. More than that, Nico, who could have had any Alpha he wanted, loved him. Loved him enough to stay through sterility when all he wanted in the world was a child.
Loved him enough to believe a lie.
Will swallowed thickly as he reached for his mate’s hand in the dark. It was still over his stomach, and in that touch Will felt two hearts beating so quickly.
“Breathe.” Will reminded his mate quietly. “Inhale, exhale.”
Nico let out a hiccupping breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding as he shuddered under his mate’s touch.
He tried to breathe like he was instructed, but the more he tried the more it came out in sobs.
“I didn’t, I would never Will.” He wept in the dark.
The blonde stroked his thumb over the back of the olive hand beneath his own and scooted closer.
“I know. I’m sorry, I know.” He assured the raven.
Nico wiped at his eyes and crawled closer to his mate.
“I swear on the river Styx I’ve never cheated on you.”
Thunder rolled in the distance at the promise and Will offered a thin smile.
“Thalia and Percy were conceived despite a promise on that river.”
Nico sniffled and laid his forehead against the blonde’s shoulder; even quieter than before he vowed:
“I swear on Bianca’s soul that this is your child.”
The oath carried more weight than any other the raven had ever spoken and made Will catch his breath.
If he’d had any doubts before, those words stole them away.
“Our child.” Will corrected softly and he wrapped his arms around his mate and pulled him close.
“Our Bianca Solace.”
Nico looked up at him in shocked wonder.
“A daughter?” He breathed.
“Our daughter.” Will corrected again with a gentle grin.
“Our daughter.” Nico marveled: the smile on his face nearly dazed with joy.
Will just kept hugging him; hugging him and hoping he was making the right choice.
It wasn’t an easy pregnancy.
The initial morning sickness was just a precursor to the real pains and troubles the raven would endure as the life he’d long desired grew within him.
It became clear in the weeks that passed and the vomiting and nauseas grew more intense that Nico had hyperemesis gravidarum, a possibly life-threatening condition that made it nearly impossible for him to keep food down.
His already lean body lost what little fat it had to spare quickly as frequent regurgitation kept him from retaining, let alone adding, the pounds he needed for a healthy pregnancy.
IVs had to be frequently added to his arms to keep him hydrated and as his body struggled to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.
Every meal was picked with care to try and keep him from seeing it twice and most off it had to be eaten with a spoon.
Cabin 13 became its own little medical ward as Will redecorated to best care for his mate.
He planned meals for every other hour and slipped ginger pills between his love’s lips with kisses that tasted like chicken soup and bile. He rubbed his love’s back through his nauseas and kept him off his feet as much as possible.
Still, every pound that seemed to be stripped from Nico’s cheeks and chest appeared to drip from its previous location and pool in his abdomen as the baby grew more and more.
It pained the raven’s visitors to see him so drained of life and yet overflowing with it. To see the man they loved beaming at them even as his stretched thin skin strove to allow him to accomplish even that small task.
His eyes never lost their brightness as he discussed preparations he was making in his mind about how to best take care of their child and still be active members of the camp’s older staff. He boasted so proudly that their daughter would be the first Demigod born on camp soil; that she would be the joy of the camp from birth.
Will would nod and smile at his mate’s words, but never add to his bragging or planning. In fact, in the months that had passed he’d grown too in his own way. Grown quieter, paler, even dimmer in the face of what was to come.
In so many ways it helped for him to focus on caring for his mate; to not think past Nico’s next IV or dose of medication.
Because he loved his mate. He loved him so much.
He could endure this. He could endure anything for Nico.
Even the worry eating away at his insides like a parasite.
Worry about the difficult birth to come. Worry about how the campers would react.
Worry about Nico realizing the truth.
Because Will knew he couldn’t be the father of the child inside his mate.
Everything he knew about genetics told him so.
He also knew Nico would never cheat on him; never risk what they had even for the sake of a child.
He knew Nico believed that it was their daughter growing inside him.
But Will knew better; and that knowledge haunted him.
Because his mate spent more time in the Underworld than any other living person in demigod history. He’d encountered things that other demigods had never even heard of in the land of the dead and despite how nonchalantly Nico had described them to his mate the blonde knew that his love put himself in real danger every time the lord of death summoned him for a mission.
He also knew that more than the souls of the dead roamed Hades’s realm. It was a land of monsters. A land of danger.
A land where a fertile Omega should never have roamed alone.
Because by Will’s math Nico had gotten pregnant right around the time of his last mission to his father’s realm.
By what Will couldn’t even begin to guess.
Yet Nico had shown no signs of attack or rape. Will would have noticed that in the middle of a rut or not. Plus Nico also seemed to have no memory of such a thing occurring.
Will held Hades responsible for that.
It wouldn’t have been the first time that the Lord of Death had dipped his children in the River Lethe to make them forget.
Nico and Bianca had been forced to bathe in it once before, under the orders of their father, so that they wouldn’t remember their mother’s horrific death right in front of them.
Will could so easily picture Hades dripping a single drop onto his son’s raven head. Enough to wipe away just enough of his memories to leave him unscarred by the event.
Enough to send him back to Will healed, safe and sane.
But not something that would have stopped the life from growing inside of him.
Deep down Will knew it was a blessing in so many ways.
Nico wouldn’t have been able to bare such an attack; it would have brought back so many issues with self-loathing and depression. It might have destroyed the younger demigod. It might have destroyed them.
So Will was lucky that this was all that had come about. Lucky that Nico would get to have this experience with being pregnant no matter what the child would be in the end.
Because he couldn’t be angry with his mate. Not when he didn’t suspect what Will did. Not when he thought a little blue eyed and olive skinned child was soon to be theirs.
Not when he thought the child inside him was their miracle.
Only Will was left to worry and fret over his mate’s ever expanding abdomen and what was really growing inside. When all he knew was that it was protected by a placenta so thick that ultrasounds were useless and that what little beyond basic stats he could discern from his powers didn’t give him much optimism.
Even his Alpha sense of smell was useless. Nico still only smelled of them. The beautiful combinations of their scents that clung to them both and told the world that they were mates.
It might have given Will some clue if his mate had stunk of Gorgan or Cyclops; he might have been able to guess at the child’s other parent if he had only the slightest clue as to what they were.
But Nico still smell like them. Still smelled like Will had always dreamed Nico would smell like when he was carrying their children. Like warm milk and baby powder mixed together with their scents. An aroma of life.
It made it all the more heart wrenching to think about what would happen after the baby was born. Would it be more monster or Demigod? Would it see Will as a parent or a snack?
All Will could hope was that it would love his mate. Love him and let him be the parental figure he’d always wanted to be. Will could bear anything else.
Even if the child was a monster, even if it never smelled like him or looked like him, even if it hated Will for not being its real parent, he would bear it.
Because it would be half Nico; half of the man he loved.
That innately made it more precious than any other child that had ever roamed Camp Half Blood to him.
He’d meant what he’d said when they first found out that he was infertile. He would love this child as his own. Raise it no differently than if it carried his own blood in its veins.
He wouldn’t be like other Alphas that left their mates after such an attack. He wouldn’t abandon the man he loved no matter how strongly he knew his Alpha instincts would object to the scent of a child carrying his mate’s scent and another’s.
Not when he’d already been lucky enough to not have to bare the scent of another on his mate during the pregnancy; lucky enough to be spared anything that would have made it difficult to help Nico through this.
Lucky enough to see Nico so happy with being pregnant.
And to know that the universe had given his mate the one thing that he never could.