Actions

Work Header

touch this foolish heart

Chapter Text

Performance art was never really Hades’ thing. His idea of a good time isn’t exactly watching a woman cry while she covers herself in paint on an apple box stage for an hour, but to each their own, he supposes. He only gets seven minutes in before he’s slipping away, snagging his second glass of champagne off the tray of a passing waiter. He doesn’t even attempt to nurse it, downing it in one go and returning the empty glass to a different passing waiter. 

The art gallery is full of pretentious looking people, and he really thinks he should be used to this by now. It’s been over forty years of parties just like this; he’s been having to deal with the overtly snobbish and wealthy since he was in diapers, but the truth is, he’s not used to it. These things are just obligations to him now, promises he makes on three hours of sleep and, more often than not, a hangover. Hades wasn’t familiar with what a so-called “healthy” coping mechanism was, so, alas, if he has to be here, a third glass of champagne it is. 

Pulling at the collar of his turtleneck, Hades sighs. He counts down the minutes, almost second by second, until he can leave, His rule is always thirty minutes, then after that, it’s considered not rude to dip out. Psyche truly is a talented artist, and he’s happy to be there in support of her, but the people of Los Angeles had a way of knowing just how to drag down the overall mood of a room. He’s about to grab his fourth glass of champagne when an unfortunately familiar voice drags him away, and he resists the strong urge to roll his eyes. 

“Ah,” the voice says, condescension laced into that breath of a word. “Aphrodite sunk her claws into you too?” 

Hades turns to see Zeus, his signature, annoyingly smug look on his face. 

“I should’ve known you’d be here,” Hades says, eyeing a passing waiter with a tray full of fresh champagne longingly. 

“Good to see you too, Hades,” Zeus scoffs. Hades can’t hold back the roll of his eyes this time around, but he smiles too, chuckling only a little bit. Zeus returns this, and does his brother a favor by waving down a waiter to grab them both drinks. Zeus doesn’t have to know how many glasses Hades is in so far. “Eros put a lot of work into those e-vites of his, don’t you think? Wasn’t going to come until Aphrodite threatened me into RSVPing.”

“Eros is like a son to her, what do you expect?” Hades sips on his champagne this time, now that the other three are finally starting to hit him. The tips of his ears are starting to get a bit warm, and that giddy little drunk feeling is rising within him. “If Eros wants five hundred people at his girlfriend’s art gallery opening, he’s gonna get it.” 

Zeus shrugs, swishing around his champagne before taking another swig. “Hera likes it here,” he says, then, “You here alone?”

Hades sighs. Zeus always does this. He’s not asking because he actually cares, and Hades knows it. 21 minutes. 

“Obviously,” he says.  

Zeus gives him the most disingenuous apologetic smile he can muster. Hades looks around for a way out. It’s not that he hates being around his younger brother, it’s just that sometimes he feels cornered, like Zeus is out with the sole purpose of making Hades’ skin crawl. Their weekly brunches were enough sometimes. 

Truthfully, he didn’t want to be there alone, and he wasn’t supposed to be there alone, his internal voice growing bitter with that thought. It’s why he’s so on edge, using alcohol to ease his mind, and why he doesn’t want to be there for any longer than he has to. Going with someone else makes these things more tolerable, barely but still. But, this always happens, she always does this. If there’s one thing Hades is used to, it’s that. 

Hades doesn’t exactly find a way out, but something better. His eyes stop scanning the room when he sees her in the midst of his sad and angry thoughts. She’s got this furrow between her eyebrows, and she’s looking at a painting on the wall in front of her so intently. She has a head of wavy curls that look so soft, and these pouty lips that make Hades’ brain short circuit, just a little bit. The shape of her body underneath her little black dress sends him for a whirl. Hades doesn’t think he’s seen someone look so damn adorable and unbelievably gorgeous all at once before. 

It takes a moment to register when she looks back at him. But when he does, his heart jolts. Their eyes meet and he can’t help the small, dumb smile that crosses his lips. When she smiles back, something deep down in Hades tells him that it’s over as the rest of the gallery sort of fades away. He knows it’s so damn cliche, but he can’t help it. He can’t help anything he’s feeling at that very moment.

Hades dares to give a tiny wave with his fingers, and goes more than a little dizzy when the woman laughs at the gesture, smiling wider. She doesn’t wave back though; she goes a bit bashful and slides a few steps to her left so that she’s hidden around the corner, as if saying come get me

Zeus is saying something, and maybe it’s the alcohol seeping into his bloodstream, or the complete and utter lack of care he had to begin with, but he can’t quite hear him. His mouth pushes out an “excuse me” before he can really do anything about it. Zeus doesn’t try to stop him, and he’s almost grateful for it. A fifth glass of liquid confidence on the way across the gallery is acceptable in the moment. 

Hades rounds the corner to approach her, and clears his throat. He takes a look at the painting, and chuckles. It’s a large canvas of just flowers upon flowers. 

One particular flower, in fact.

“Peonies are some of my favorite flowers,” he says, leaning in a little closer. He’s used to being taller than most people, but she’s short, and it’s so, so cute. 

She looks up at Hades, brown eyes wide with surprise that he had actually followed through with that wave of his. There is such a warmth and depth to them that he can’t help but feel invited. Hades walks right in. 

“Hi,” the woman says, which is immediately followed by giggles. She seems to catch the falter in decorum herself, because she straightens out and offers Hades what he believes has to be the kindest smile he’s ever seen. “I mean, peonies are my favorite too.” 

Hades can definitely see that her lips are lightly stained maroon with wine, her lip gloss a little worn off, most likely on one too many glasses. Well, he’s glad it’s the two of them. 

“Did you know,” Hades starts, his left hand shoved into his pocket in an attempt to seem casual with this very attractive stranger, “that peonies represent a lot of rather interesting things?” 

A passing waiter offers them more glasses of wine and champagne on a pretentiously tarnished gold tray. Hades says fuck it and takes one more, despite his better judgement. He offers his fresh glass up to the beautiful stranger and tries to suppress a far too satisfied grin as they clink them together.  

“Like what?” she asks him, cocking her head to the side as she takes a sip of her wine. Hades sees her hiccup a little, and wonders if she’s as deep into this whole alcohol thing as him.  

Hades hums and shrugs his shoulders, eyes pointedly looking at the painting instead of her. “You know,” he says, “bashfulness, good fortune and honor.” Hades takes a sip of his champagne, turning his head so his eyes lock onto hers, tension filling the air between them, fast and heavy. He’s played this game too many times. He knows how this goes. After lowering his glass, he wears the most discreet smirk. “Strong attraction between two strangers. The usual.” 

The faintest blush rises to the woman’s cheeks. It’s hard to tell behind the tone of her complexion, but it’s still there and Hades can see it. He pushes his glasses up his nose and grants himself a wider grin. 

“Peonies sound like they carry a lot of baggage,” she says. 

“Don’t we all?”

Both of them knew what they were getting into the second they caught each other’s eyes and maybe they shouldn’t do this. Hades knows he shouldn’t, but he’s drunk and a little sad, so he can worry about the consequences of this later, when he continues to be sad and hungover. It’s that mentality which leads him into one of the bathrooms with the woman, lifting her onto the counter as he brings their lips together in a harsh kiss, hands grabbing each other wherever they could reach. 

“My name,” the woman mumbles against his lips, giggling a little when Hades won’t tear back long enough to let her speak. The man is acting like he’s been underwater far too long and she’s fresh fucking air. Despite that, She manages, and breathes out, “is Persephone.”

Hades hums with hasty acknowledgement before kissing her again. “Hades,” he says into it before immediately deepening it, his tongue eagerly pushing past her full lips. Her lips, Persephone’s lips are as soft and nice and perfect as he imagined. Her lip gloss tastes sweet on his tongue, or maybe it’s the leftover taste of wine, or just the way she normally tastes. Either way, it’s so damn good, and Hades can’t help but chase it with his own mouth. 

Persephone is an amazing kisser, he learns quickly, each moment seeming better than the last. With how skilled her mouth is up there, a tightness forms somewhere down there. Their kiss just continues to become more hot and wet, and their breathing is quickly turning into something that is a little more than a pant. Hades can hear Persephone desperately trying to stifle these needy little noises that leak from the back of her throat as he caresses her thighs. It’s driving him wild. 

“You come here with someone?” Hades manages to pull back to ask this, a moment of clarity in their lust. He looks into her eyes, sees that her pupils are absolutely blown and he knows his probably are too. But she looks so cute, so hot this way. 

Persephone nods her head, and Hades’ heart nearly drops. 

Fuck.

But, then, “Not a boyfriend,” is what Persephone says, and that allows them to pick it right back up from where they left off.

“Works for me.” Hades dives back in, kissing her with passion he doesn’t know if he’s ever felt before. The feeling of her thighs beneath his hands as he practically kneads them is exquisite. They’re soft and warm, and they fit so nicely into the form of his hands. For a moment, he wonders how they would taste on his tongue.

Hades is definitely hard beneath his slacks, almost painfully so. His arousal twitches a little too eagerly when he feels Persephone’s hands at his belt buckle, her nimble fingers undoing the clasp. He groans into their kiss, pulling her hips closer to him before his hands go to cup her very impressive bottom, squeezing it. As she moans at the action, Hades finds that his lips are on her jaw, her neck, her collar bones, anywhere he can possibly reach.

She tips her head back against the mirror and lets out a sweet noise, something between a whine and a moan. Hades absolutely swims in it, a goddamn melody to his ears as he sucks a bruising mark into her pretty little throat. 

Somewhere deep down, he knows he should stop. Hades knows he shouldn’t let Persephone slither her hands into his briefs, grab him with her gentle little hands. But he wants this, and she wants him, and it feels so good to be wanted for once. It’s an addictive feeling that Hades can’t seem to give up now that he’s got it. 

“Sweetness,” Hades hums at the feeling of her hand on him, the twist of her wrist. He knows he’s probably leaking by now, the tip of his cock weeping at the sensation.  

Pulling back to look at Persephone, Hades sees this look of pure hunger in her eyes. She full on pushes him back, giggles again, and hops off the counter. He stabilizes himself against a wall, holding onto the rail meant for wheelchair users with white knuckles, completely taken aback. Hades truly didn’t expect that from her, but he’s not complaining. 

It’s a sight for sore eyes when Persephone sinks to her knees. And Hades can’t breathe. He watches her closely, his heart hammering away in his chest. This is happening, it’s happening and he hasn’t been this excited in a while, he thinks as she pulls down his slacks, revealing the more than hard tent in his underwear.

Her fingers are right there, hooking into the waistband of his briefs. He’s fucking aching, begging for her at this point. Her breath is so hot through the cotton.

Knock knock. 

They freeze. 

“Persephone? Hey, are you in there? Artemis said she saw you over here...we’re heading out now,” A muffled male voice calls through the door.

Hades is about to cry. He wants to yell, tell whoever the hell that is to fuck off, and go right back to where they were before the spell was broken, but Persephone’s demeanor does a complete one-eighty. She looks nervous, even slightly embarrassed as she gets back on her feet.  

“I’m sorry,” she says as she looks up at him, that little furrow back between her brows. He wishes that she didn’t look so cute like that. 

The words slosh around in Hades’ mind just like the alcohol in his gut. He’s so dumbfounded right now, he doesn’t know what to say or do. His only option is to watch Persephone situate herself, fixing her clothes and makeup in the mirror to try to pretend that she wasn’t about to suck off a complete stranger in the bathroom of an art gallery. 

With one last apologetic look, she stumbles out of there, leaving Hades with a hard-on and an unwelcome weight in his chest. 

 

 

To say that Hades was sulking is an understatement. When Hades wakes up the next morning with a hangover, he is disappointed that the alcohol didn’t wipe his memories completely, the entirety of last night (and the lost opportunity) still painfully vivid.

The smell of her perfume, the taste of her mouth, the sound of her laugh; he remembers every single detail. He had to come home immediately after, and he’s sure some people snickered as he walked out of the art gallery with a tent in his slacks. But as soon as he was home, they were off and he was coming within a few minutes with the help of his hand, thinking about the feeling of Persephone’s hand around him and her lips against his. 

After the glow of his orgasm ebbed away, Hades had to grapple with the fact that he was probably never going to see her again. Maybe it’s for the best, he tries to convinces himself, but his heart still remains suspicious.

A wave of shame washes over Hades when his hangover is gone (thanks to copious amounts of ibuprofen and water) and he’s left alone in his study. Truthfully, it should have never happened. When he looks in the mirror, he tries not to see Zeus staring back and mocking him, or even worse, Him.

Hades decides to take the Sunday to lounge around. He rarely has days off like this; no events to go to, no work dragging him to the office, so he so maturely uses it to sulk over the woman, Persephone, his brain corrects, and then some. (Then some being alcohol, the very thing that put him there.) He ignores calls, responsibilities, and leaves important emails unanswered. If he’s going to be at least somewhat fine for the next day, he has to get it out of his system now. 

When Monday finally does come around, he walks through the doors of the Pomegranate Tech Corp. headquarters with his head barely screwed on. He greets the receptionists when they say, “Good morning, Mr. Olympus,” and the few employees that do so as well. The elevator ride up to his office is longer than usual. Flashes of her face keep popping into his head. His skin grows hot in the areas that she touched, and he feels an awful tug at his heart. Well, so much for getting it out of his system.  

On the 98th floor, Hades takes a deep breath and recalibrates himself. He’s not a child anymore. His face grows stoic, and he’s somewhat prepared for the day ahead when the elevator dings and the doors slide open. 

The sight that greets him is not a welcoming one. 

Hecate is the first person that catches his eye. Her sleek black bob matching the apparently new suit she wore, Hades notices. He has half a mind to compliment it but she immediately glares when she turns her head to see him. 

She’s not alone. 

Minthe is there, in all her sleek, crimson haired glory, her arms crossed over her chest with a scowl on her thin lips. She looks more than angry (but then again, what else is new?), and that wave of guilt crashes down over his head once more. 

You,” both Minthe and Hecate hiss accusingly at Hades. They’re both standing at Minthe’s desk, very obviously having been talking, or more likely than not, arguing. He gulps. 

Hecate holds a hand up to stop Minthe from approaching Hades first. She does so instead, and puts her hand on Hades’ back to push him towards his office. “I’m not going to pry and ask why you ignored every single call of mine yesterday,” she huffs, ushering them away from Minthe, who is tapping her foot impatiently, but she knows better than to stop them. Minthe doesn’t care about disregarding Hades’ demands to not act up at work, but Hecate is a different story. “But you better put on the nicest smile your pretty little face can muster. The new college program hire I tried emailing you about is here.”

Shit. Hades recalls Hecate telling him about this, but only faintly. Actually, he remembers Hecate mentioning it several times throughout the week prior, but at this point, Hades hears so many things in a day, it’s hard to keep track. 

“She’s a good worker,” Hecate continues. “Just graduated at the top of her class. Her recommendation letters would make Jesus weep.” She slaps the file folder in her hands against Hades’ chest with as they walk down the hallway. Hades flips through it, skimming over the important stuff. 

Kore P. Eleusinia. 24 years old. 

“Stanford?” Hades notes, with raised eyebrows. “Color me impressed.” Of course, his company is filled with top tier school alumni, including a Harvard alumnus like himself, but still. 

“She’s waiting in your office,” Hecate says once they’ve finally stopped outside the doors to said office, gloved hands on her hips.

“You left her alone in there?” Hades questions, raising his brow at Hecate. She only rolls her eyes. 

“If you’d have checked your email, you would’ve seen me asking you to come in early. And if you’d came in early, you could have dealt with the meltdown Minthe had fifteen minutes ago so I didn’t have to. Stop pushing that stupid date back!”  

Hades stifles a groan. He just pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath. He knew one of those emails looked very, super important. “Damn it. Okay, sorry. This one’s on me. Let me just say the obligatory hellos, get Hermes up here to do her tour, and I’ll deal with Minthe after,” he tells her. Her anger seems to deflate, but only slightly. Her shoulders are still tense and Hades can tell she’s going to give it to him later when there’s room in either of their schedules. 

With one more sigh, Hades opens one of the doors to his office to let Hecate in. He follows in behind her, and immediately sees the short little thing of a new hire staring up at the portrait of him and his brothers hanging on the wall. 

“Kore, dear,” Hecate says to grab her attention. 

There has only been two, now three, times that Hades has ever felt like the air has been punched out of his lungs, like someone reached into his chest just to jostle things up, enough to make him feel sick. The first time was when his mother died. The second was Minthe’s first pregnancy scare. The third is now, seeing his newest employee in his office turn around to flash him a pair of familiar, honey doe-eyes.  

They’re wide in surprise, just like when Hades first approached her, but this time she looks absolutely terrified. 

Both of them know. There’s no getting around it. This wasn’t a flashing image of her or a dirty memory of two nights prior. Her hand flies up to touch the area of her throat where he knows he sucked a mark into, like seeing him caused it to throb in pain just at the sight of him. It was real, they both must be thinking. 

Persephone, there in the flesh, standing in his office, wearing a new hire pass around her neck. 

Well, fuck. 

Chapter Text

Oh my god.

“What?” 

Persephone eyes Eros suspiciously. He has this all-knowing grin on his face, his eyes slightly squinted as he looks back at her. He leans forward, his chin plopping into the palms of his hands. Persephone doesn’t think she has any reason to, but she begins to sweat in the AC of her small apartment.

“You got laid!” Eros finally explodes happily, his grin wider than ever, hands coming together in a far too excited clap.

Words get trapped in Persephone’s throat, leaving her floundering for a response. Her cheeks grow hot as Eros gradually gets more and more giddy, wiggling in his place on the couch.

“You got laid and you didn’t even tell me! I’m wounded, truly,” Eros continues, not nearly as wounded as he claimed he was. “Was it last night? Did you take someone home from Psyche's gallery opening? Who was it! It was a hot rich guy, wasn’t it?”

“Eros, no!” Persephone says finally, waving her hands to get him to stop spewing out more and more ridiculous things. She winces though, nose scrunched up as she recalls whatever memories she has left of the night before. The mysterious stranger named Hades, his hands on her thighs, his mouth on her neck, her on her damned knees...

Eros is too dang intuitive for his own good. But technically, he’s not completely right. She didn’t get laid (a disappointing fact), and she didn’t go home with anyone. Persephone only, just slightly, not really but, almost sucked off a really hot, probably rich guy in the bathroom at Psyche's art gallery opening. There’s a huge difference in all his statements and what actually happened. 

Or, maybe there isn’t, and that’s why Persephone’s skin is hot to the touch as she thinks back to it. She doesn’t even remember it wholly. She remembers getting there, whining to Artemis and Hermes about how she didn’t want to be there. She felt out of place, like she stuck out like a sore thumb. She didn’t have the social status, the wealth, or the...background to be amongst the likes of people that Aphrodite invited places. The only reason Persephone even got ready was for Eros. She knew he would’ve thrown a fit if she hadn’t shown up. 

Artemis assured her things would be fine, that these people didn’t care as much as she thought. Persephone bit the protest at the tip of her tongue. She went to Stanford, and trust her, they definitely do care as much as she thinks. She’s still reeling from the effects of having imposter syndrome for five years. (She doesn’t even know if it really ever went away.) 

The only thing that would get her through the night was the wine and champagne that seemed to be making rounds through the gallery on these bougie looking trays. Artemis and Hermes separated from her at some point, to go say hello and congratulate Psyche. So, they weren’t there to stop her when she was offered and downed two glasses of wine, one after another. They knew Persephone is a lightweight, so they most definitely would’ve. 

Waltzing around, trying desperately to look like she belonged, she saw him. Tall, at least 6’5”, with a defined jaw and aquiline nose. Whether it was the third glass of wine or her immediate attraction to this stranger, Persephone’s stomach flipped at the sight of him in his sleek black turtleneck, navy blue blazer, and the nicest dress shoes in the entire building. She’d never seen a man look so sophisticated, so distinguished. When he ran a hand through his tediously swept-back, inky hair, Persephone all but melted on the spot.

For about seven minutes, she tried her best to inconspicuously keep a good distance behind him. A fourth glass of wine was making its way through her bloodstream, so at this point, she didn’t quite care if she was spending her whole night tailing this handsome stranger. It was when he stopped to talk to someone did she take post at a random painting, looking up at it like she was inspecting it. Perhaps she exaggerated her face a little too much, because all she was looking at were some flowers

But for some odd reason, it worked. After glancing back at the man for the tenth time, she caught him staring back. Persephone’s heart caught in her throat, trying so hard to leap out when he smiled, and even waved at her. 

A dumb, drunken smile stretched across Persephone’s lips, and she ducked behind the corner out of sight to have her small panic. It wasn’t a bad one, she was just shocked, and a little dang proud. She was in the midst of all her internal frenzy when the same tall figure entered her space, right there, right next to her. Persephone didn’t dare to look up until he spoke, and when he did, she knew she was gone. Those blue eyes, though a painfully icy color, still made her melt.

One moment they were talking about peonies and helplessly flirting, the next she was being placed on a bathroom counter and kissed with fever she’d never felt before, hands pulling him desperately to her by those black waves of his. Everything was happening so fast, she couldn’t catch all of it to save for later, the alcohol letting some of the sensations slip through the cracks. 

Persephone remembers his taste though, how it mixed with the taste of wine in her own mouth. She remembers the touch of his surprisingly calloused hands, the weight of his arousal in her own soft ones, the smell of cigars and burning forest fires, and the sound of him calling her, “Sweetness.” She remembers being on her knees, thinking of how painfully bad she wanted him. 

Hermes had been the one to call for her, through the restroom door. The sound of his voice was the only thing that pulled her back to reality, help her realize what she was doing, that she probably shouldn’t. 

However, looking back, the only thing Persephone truly regrets is leaving. 

Maybe she could have gone home with him, learned a little more than his name, been held against his tall frame as they stayed tangled up in his bed’s sheets.

Persephone sighs, and Eros’ demeanor immediately drops. He’s too good at this emotion thing, always perfectly in tune with other people. If Eros wasn’t so helplessly in love with Psyche, and he wasn’t like a brother to her, Persephone honestly wouldn't mind a boyfriend like him. 

“Fine, okay,” Persephone says, caving. Eros grabs both her hands, eager for the reveal that this whole conversation had been leading up to. “I...may or may not have… madeoutwithsomeoneinthebathroomatthegallery.” 

Eros lets out this scandalous gasp, letting her hands go to cup his own face, his mouth a perfect ‘O’ shape. Persephone just groans in embarrassment, throwing her head down onto the back of the couch with an audible ‘thump’. She just wanted to hang out with her friend, not mope over the one that got away. Or, being the one that got away. 

“Is that it?” Eros is whispering for some reason, like the walls are listening to this hot gossip. Persephone looks up at Eros, pouting and shaking her head. 

“I mean, yes, basically,” she tells him, biting her lip as she hesitated to say the next part. “Well… Not really. I…I touched it.” 

It?!” God, they sound like teenagers. 

“I was on my knees when Hermes knocked on the door.”

Eros scowls. “That bastard,” he huffs, but then he looks sympathetic again. He squeezes her hand and sighs wistfully. “I won’t scold you for tarnishing the bathroom at the gallery, not yet at least. Did you get his name?” 

Persephone thinks for a moment. She remembers it, clear as day, because there’s no way she’d let herself forget, but she can’t help but be cautious of the consequences of letting it spill. If he was someone Aphrodite invited, Eros may know him. If Eros knows him, he’ll force them to meet again, and she doesn’t know if she can face him without all the embarrassment and shame she has.

But Persephone can’t lie to Eros. She can’t lie at all, really, not without the heavy weight of guilt. 

“Yes,” she concedes to him. His eyes light up immediately, and she holds up her hand. “But I’m not telling you who it was. And please don’t pry.”

Eros gets the most petulant pout on his face that he can muster, but he respects her enough to follow her wishes. Persephone is so grateful for him, for all of her friends, really. If it weren’t for them and their constant support, there’s so much she would’ve given up on and so much that she wouldn’t have. 

Hermes is the entire reason she has a new job that she starts tomorrow. (“Just fill this out, I’ll do the rest,” he had said, and he wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.) Artemis helped her through her entire last year of college, just so that she wouldn’t burn out by Spring time. Eros has been her shoulder to cry on for ages, and she almost feels terrible for all of those late nights. Persephone sighs, just a little content breath. She gives Eros a sweet smile and leans over to kiss his cheek, laughing to herself when he cracks his own small smile. 

“You’re so lucky I love you,” he tells her, and Persephone giggles.  

Well, yeah, Persephone thinks. She is. 

 

 

All her life, Persephone had seen the tallest building in the Downtown LA skyline as she idled in all too familiar traffic, right in the backseat of her mother’s old car. She never knew what it was, never even tried to dig and figure it out. 

But as she stands in front of it, she’s in complete awe. Now she knows, and now she works there. She truly hadn’t expected much to come from the application that Hermes gave her. Persephone had been applying for so many jobs, so many internships, and with each and every rejection (if they even granted her that), her insecurities flared. Top of her class from Stanford and there’s still a tiny voice in the back of her mind, gnawing away at her: Not smart enough, not good enough, never good enough. 

But then the phone interview happened. Then they hired her, on the spot. It seemed way too dang easy. Persephone even accused Hermes of having something to do with it, and he swore on his life that he didn’t. He just turned in the application for her, and maybe gave the hiring manager a small wink on his way out the door. 

Nothing stopped the gut wrenching feeling from stirring within her though, not even the receptionists on the first floor giving her a temporary pass to let her go up to the higher floors. They tell her a woman named Hecate would be waiting for her on the 99th floor, and she’s ushered to the elevators to be sent up. Unfortunately, she doesn’t hear the red-headed woman calling for her to hold the elevator until it’s too late. 

Each time the numbers tick on the screen, Persephone’s anxiety rises. The walls are practically mirrors, and she looks herself in the eye and does her best to assure herself that it’ll be okay. She’s gotten this far, there’s no way she can muck things up now. 

“You’ve got this,” she says sternly, expression on her face to match as she pokes her reflection in the chest. Her brows are knitted in determination, and her little pout is back. “You’re here for a reason. You’re going to kick so much butt.” In her reflection, Persephone’s eyes catch the fading bruise peeking out just beneath the neckline of her dress. Her body goes warm again, and she runs her fingers over it. Glimpsing memories of that night pop into her head, she can feel his lips on her all over again. 

The elevator dings loudly, pulling her back to reality. Persephone tugs on her coat, adjusts her dress, and musses her hair a little before turning back to the doors of the elevator just as they slide open. 

A woman in a sleek black suit is there alone at an empty receptionist’s desk, squatted as she picks up papers that are scattered on the floor. Persephone’s instinct is the help, so she rushes over and immediately joins her. 

“Oh! You don’t have to help me, I swear,” the woman tells her. Persephone just offers her a smile, and waves her hand. 

“I’m not going to let you pick all of this up on your own,” she says. The two of them gather the papers and Persephone lets the woman organize them. 

“It’s just going to be that kind of morning,” the woman jokes, and they share a laugh 

The briefest glimpse at the paper on top shows her her own name, her own application, and she swallows the nervous lump in her throat. “You wouldn’t happen to be Hecate, would you?” 

The woman grins. Hecate, she heavily assumes, reaches out her hand for the firmest handshake Persephone has ever gotten. This woman looks so clean cut. Everything about her is neat and precise. Not one strand of hair in her bob seems out of place, nothing too long or too short. 

“Then you must be Kore,” Hecate says happily. “Punctual. I like that.” 

Persephone suppresses a nervous laugh. “I’m sorry if I’m early,” she says. 

Hecate scoffs, stapling her papers before she leads Persephone down a long hallway. “That’s hardly a thing to apologize for,” she reassures her. “Unfortunately, we’re missing a person of our party.” 

Persephone only nods her understanding. She’s led to an office, a giant office that is most definitely too big for any one person. The towering walls are a nice shade of darker blue and it’s a bit too chilly in there too, so she instinctively pulls her coat around herself even tighter. It’s a nice office though. She takes a quick moment to soak it all in, only briefly, because then a shrill voice is coming from down the hall near the elevators. 

“Hades!” 

Persephone’s heart jumps at that name, but she doesn’t think much of it. She doesn’t get the chance to. The voice is angry, and Persephone can see Hecate immediately tense and take in a deep breath. Maybe she was right, it is going to be one of those mornings. Persephone starts to feel a little bad for her. 

“Kore,” Hecate says, offering her a sweet, albeit very fake, smile, “I’m going to leave you here for a few minutes, okay? There’s a couch, and a coffee maker, so please make yourself comfortable. It’s the least we can do for the tardiness.” 

Persephone nods. She doesn’t attempt to speak, doesn’t want to hold her up anymore. Hecate seems grateful because the woman down the hall is yelling again, sounding close to tears even, so Hecate rushes out. Persephone swears she can hear her muttering under her breath, something that sounds like a different language, laced with venom. 

The heavy doors to the office close behind Hecate. When the yelling resumes, it’s muffled, and Persephone can’t make out a single word. 

Persephone takes a deep breath. Things have started a bit rocky, but she’s determined to not let this be a precursor to her time here. Things will be good, she tells herself. She takes a few steps around the enormous office. For the most part, it’s very plain, very modern. A lot of navy blue adorns the place, and the couch is a very nice suede one of the same color. She forgoes the coffee, like most days. Ever since The Caffeine Incident of Junior Year, she tends to stay away. 

With curiosity, she rounds to the other side of the desk to see what it holds. Again, it’s not much. A photo of a thin, crimson-haired doll sits atop the desk. She’s wearing a Mona Lisa-smile, but it’s not as soft. There’s a scowl beneath it, and her eyes don’t seem too kind. 

One of the walls of the room holds plaques upon plaques. Most of them are awards to the company, Best Software Design, Best Tech Brand, Best Product Design, the list goes on. The centerpiece to it all is a giant, framed diploma. 

A Harvard graduate.

Persephone would take the moment to be impressed, but the name on the diploma yet again makes her blood run even colder in the already chilly room. 

There’s no way. Persephone gulps, looks around for any pictures, anything that will ease her mind. When she turns around, she stops dead in her tracks as she gazes upon what’s on the other wall. 

Slowly, she approaches it. She can feel her heart in her throat, hear it pounding in her head. Persephone feels a little dizzy as she cranes her neck to look up at the sight before her. The muffled voices outside don’t phase her, in fact, she barely even registers that they’re there. 

Staring down at her is Hades. The Hades. There, on a giant portrait on the wall standing alongside two other very handsome men, is Hades, the same piercing eyes she stared into before gazing back at her.  Persephone can’t remember how to breathe. Not until the door to the office is opening, and she hears her name. She turns around, and her stomach drops completely. 

Eyes wide, she stares at him. He looks so different now. No glasses, wearing a tie, and his hair seems to have more gray trickled throughout. 

The bruise on her neck throbs, like it can’t stand to look at him and his dumb, handsome face. She puts her hand over it, can feel her pulse throbbing with anxiety and slight fear. 

Persephone feels shame wash over her, for not tying it all together sooner, not doing any more research beyond what Hermes told her, for not picking up the obvious signs that this is where it was all leading her. It wasn’t even like she’d never heard of who on Earth Hades Olympus was, but he seemed to avoid the spotlight like a plague and she still has a hard time using Twitter, let alone following up on who the different CEOs of companies were. Now that she is finally putting the pieces together though, she just feels embarrassed.  

Hades is standing there, just staring back at her, and Hecate has to be the one to clear her throat and pull them out of their trances. 

“Kore, this is Mr. Olympus. Hades, Kore,” she says. They’re within arms reach, but neither of them make the first move. Hecate is standing there, a little awkwardly, looking back and forth between them. 

Hades finally takes the initiative to shake Persephone’s hand. She prays that he can’t feel the way her hand is shaking when she takes his. His touch is just as warm as it was, his large hands making her feel so much smaller than she actually is. 

“Hello, Miss Eleusinia,” Hades finally croaks. He’s so tentative with his every move, but Persephone can’t help but let their hands linger until they finally break apart. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Persephone says, and it immediately leaves a bad taste in her mouth. It was a pleasure to meet him the first time. Now, Persephone has the strong urge to run and hide. She really doesn’t like being able to say that she’d touched her new boss’ dick before. 

She lives with it though. Persephone has been struggling all her life to learn to not run away from things, and now isn’t going to be the first time. She has such a good opportunity on her hands, a way to finally make something of herself. She’s no longer the child she once was, and she can’t revert back to it now. 

“So, we’re only slightly behind schedule,” Hecate says, her voice cutting through the thick air that had entered the room. “I take it, since you applied, you know a lot about the college program we offer here for recent grads.” 

Persephone puts on a wavering grin. No, she thinks, but they can’t know that now

So, maybe we can skip some of the technicalities,” Hecate continues. “The first part is always the fun part, meeting our beloved CEO.” She gives a sarcastic smile to Hades, which he returns with an Oh, Ha Ha. Persephone can only assume that they’re closer than they let on. “We typically do a presentation for larger groups, and a tour. But, you’re sort of a...late bloomer. So we can have one of our employees, Hermes, come to do your tour solo if you’d like.” 

“No!” Hades and Persephone protest at the same time, and they stare at each other, completely floored. 

Hades takes over, fortunately, when Hecate eyes them both suspiciously. “What I mean, is,” Hades says, sighing, “I feel bad that I was late today. The least I can do is show our newest employee around.”

Well, okay. Persephone’s only protest was Hermes. She couldn’t face him, not now. She’d want to spill her guts, probably tell him that she needed to find a new job ASAP. But with Hades now offering to be alone with her, just the two of them, she thinks this might be the more unfortunate option. Before anyone else can speak, the door to the office is opening and in comes the slim ball of fury from the picture on Hades’ desk.  

Persephone gulps. 

Hecate tries to tell her something, but she holds a long, manicured nail up to her. “No,” the woman says. “I waited the five minutes you asked of me.”

“Minthe,” Hades says through his teeth. The woman, now known as Minthe, finally sees Persephone standing there. Minthe narrows her eyes at her. 

“Thanks for stopping the elevator, you’re a real peach,” she says, then rolls her eyes. 

It takes all that Persephone has to not cower away. Minthe’s attention is averted back to Hades, and she grabs his arm to pull him away from Hecate and Persephone. Hades is trying to keep as hushed as possible when they begin to speak, but Minthe isn’t having it. 

“How many times do I have to keep asking you to confirm the damned date?” 

Persephone can’t tear her eyes from the trainwreck unfolding in front of her. Hecate knows the drill, knows to gently try and guide her out of the office. Persephone follows, but as slow as she possibly can as the cogs in her brain begin to turn. 

“The venue called me, saying they can’t do it without your credit card information! I’m starting to think you’re doing this on purpose.” 

When Minthe gives a harsh jab to Hades’ chest, Persephone’s eyes zero in on the ethereal diamond sitting on her left ring finger. She isn’t slow to tie this one together at all. 

With the picture on Hades’ desk, the ring on her finger, their heated conversation, and the fond, gentle way that Hades calls Minthe “tadpole” just as the office doors close behind them, a sickening feeling brews in the depths of Persephone’s stomach. 

“I am so incredibly sorry for that,” Hecate says once they’re outside. Persephone can’t breathe again. 

The memories of the night at the art gallery sour quickly in her mind, painfully bitter and she feels hot all over once more, but with utter embarrassment this time around. Persephone has genuinely never felt so foolish in her entire life, and she did a lot of questionable things in college. But with this, she thinks that maybe running out of the building right now isn’t such a bad idea. 

The man, her boss, she almost hooked up with in a bathroom is getting married. Hades is engaged. Whatever words Hecate is saying as she guides her back down the hallway aren’t heard, Persephone far too busy trying not to break down at the moment. 

When the buzzing in her ears fades away, and she’s learned to catch her breath once more, Hecate is chuckling lightly. “What I can I say?” she says, flipping through the file on hand. Her voice is attempting to be flippant, but the stress is seeping through the seams.

“It really is just one of those mornings.”

Chapter Text

Minthe is the first to leave Hades’ office. She storms past Persephone and Hecate, an angry pout on her face as she gathers her bag from her station at Hades’ reception desk. 

“I’m taking the day off,” she tells Hecate, who doesn’t even bother to give her a response. She’s at the elevator doors too fast, and Persephone meets her furiously green eyes, when she steps inside. They stay locked on each other as the doors slide closed, and Persephone has to put her hand on the desk to steady herself, otherwise she might just faint. 

“Is there anywhere for me to get water?” Persephone croaks, her throat impossibly dry as she looks at Hecate. She knows it’s because she might actually start crying, way too overwhelmed with, well, everything that had happened in the past fifteen minutes. The first fifteen minutes of her new job and she’s already on the verge of a breakdown. 

Hecate must sense that she’s a little off, because she grants her a sympathetic look before she goes to fetch her a cup of water from a cooler in the main receptionist’s area. As soon as Persephone has it in her hands, she nurses it, taking tiny little sips. She’ll make herself sick if she drinks it too fast, she knows she will. 

The feeling in her stomach is already bad enough as it is. The past weekend has been one of the most hectic of her entire life, and she’s been through some hefty ordeals. Too many, in fact. Somehow, this has managed to take the cake. Not a lot of people can say they almost slept with their boss without knowing it was their boss, anyways. Persephone’s mind, or even worse, her heart betray her though. They won’t stop reminding her of how nice it felt to have Hades’ hands and lips on her, how good it was to kiss him and hold him as close as possible. 

The image of Minthe’s ring keeps interrupting. The sound of Hades calling Persephone “sweetness” is muddled by the disgustingly cute pet name of “tadpole” he just used with Minthe. She tries not to dwell on the fact that he sounded so different using both of them, but she can’t help it. He seemed so exasperated with Minthe, so tired of having to coax her down from the hill she’s prepared to die on to get her way. 

Persephone wants to curl up in a ball, take a nap, and wake up to find out it’s all a dream. But it’s not, and she’s so painfully aware of that fact. 

It all gets a bit worse when Hades makes his way down the hall too. Persephone meets his eye again, and a sharp pain enters her chest when she sees the apologetic, sad puppy dog look in his eyes. She hates how easily she falls for it, how she feels like she should be the one apologizing to him for making a bad situation even worse. 

“I really need a breather,” Hecate says when Hades is finally within their vicinity. “I take it you’re still fine to do her tour.” 

Persephone watches the bob of Hades’ Adam Apple as he gulps, and loathes how bad she wants to kiss it. 

“Yeah, of course. Take however long you need,” Hades tells her. Hecate doesn’t need to be told twice before she’s off, disappearing into an office back down the hall, the door closing with a too excited slam behind her. 

Then there was two.  

Persephone still has the cup of water up to her lips as she looks up at Hades, eyes wide and a little nervous. She takes one last sip before lowering it. 

Neither of them say anything for the time being. The only thing Hades does is sigh, and walk down the hallway to a set of double doors. She watches him with furrowed brows, and when he notices she hadn’t followed, he opens them and gestures for her to go inside. Persephone’s heart begins to pound a little faster, a little harder in her chest, but she doesn’t think she’s in any place to disobey Hades. So, she follows, into an empty conference room where he makes sure the doors are shut tight as soon as they’re both inside. 

They’re both trying to find the words to say. The tension that grows between them is unlike the first time they ever met, it’s thicker, and obviously it isn’t going to lead where it lead them before.

“So,” Hades finally speaks. He stuffs his hands into his pockets and looks at Persephone, his wintry eyes meeting hers once more. “You lied to me about your name.”

Persephone immediately scoffs. She shouldn’t be the one on trial right now, and she’s going to make sure he knows it. “First of all,” she says, “no. Second of all, you didn’t even have the gall to lie to me about your fiancée.”

Hades’ face falls. He suddenly looks sheepish, and he scratches the back of his neck with a pathetic attempt at a chuckle. 

“You never asked,” he tells her. 

Persephone goes to speak, but immediately stops herself. Okay, well, she didn’t. Even he asked if she was with someone. But she shouldn’t have had to! He should know not to make out with strangers in bathrooms if he’s due to get married! Persephone’s angry little pout grows on her face.

“That is completely unfair, and you know it,” she scolds. “I’m not exactly expecting engaged men to sweep me off my feet at my friend’s important events.” 

“I swept you off your feet?” Hades seems only just a little smug. 

Heat washes over Persephone, and she scoffs at him, looking at him incredulously. “Are you serious right now?” 

Hades finally sighs. He shakes his head, and fiddles with the ends of his blazer. “No, I’m sorry, you’re right,” he says. Persephone goes a little soft, but only slightly. “I’m not going to go into details, but it’s been—difficult, Minthe and I. However, it’s still no excuse. We both had too much to drink and it shouldn’t have happened. Had we gone any further, I think I might’ve stopped you eventually.”

Persephone ignores the pathetic bout of disappointment that swims through her. She sips on the last of her water and hums, tossing the empty cup in a nearby bin. She takes a moment to just look at Hades, hoping he can feel the judgement coming from her gaze. The way he wiggles uncomfortably underneath it tells her that he might. 

“Fine,” Persephone says, offering her hand to him. “I suppose, since you’re my new boss, we can start over. Be cordial and professional.”  

In all honesty, Persephone doesn’t want to forget any of it. She doesn’t want to put it in the back of her mind, leaving it to never be touched again. But given everything that’s happened so far, she’s afraid she doesn’t have any other option. She aided in her new boss’ almost infidelity, all by complete accident. Her only true choice is to sit there and pretend it never happened. 

She accepts the last jolt of satisfaction when Hades takes her hand again, shaking it in a truce. Once again, their hands linger for a moment too long before separation. Persephone wishes the sigh she lets out was a little less wistful than it was. 

“My middle name is Persephone, by the way,” she tells him, crossing her arms over her chest. “Kore is my first.”

“Oh,” Hades says. A small smile grows on his lips, and Persephone hates how contagious it is when she cracks one herself. She keeps it as unnoticeable as possible. “My name is just Hades. You don’t...you don’t have to call me Mr. Olympus, if you don’t want to. I feel like it’d just be weird now.” 

“Why would it be weird? We just met,” Persephone says, with a little hmph, and twist of her head. This time she can’t help but smile a little wider, and her heart warms when Hades lets out a little laugh and concedes with a shrug. 

“Well, Miss Eleusinia, I believe we have a tour to begin then.” 

And so it does. 

Hades shows her what hasn’t already seen of the top floor, shows her a few of the key places she should know about. Some of the other people that occupy the offices on that floor have shown up now, and they’re kinder than ever, greeting her and welcoming her to her new job. Persephone is genuinely in a bit of awe, and everything that happened gets easier to push to the back of her mind as she revels in the fact that this is where she works now. 

“So,” Hades says at some point in the tour. They’re somewhere on the 60th floor, at one of the three cafeterias in the entire building. “I don’t typically do this for new employees—” 

“So I’m special?” Persephone interjects with a playful bat of her lashes, looking up at Hades. Hades wears a faint smirk, but doesn’t say anything in response to her comment. 

As I was saying, I don’t typically do this for new employees. This was just a special circumstance . But they have told me that, you know, perhaps bonding with my employees would be a good look for the company.” They stop at a vending machine, and Persephone moves to reach into her purse for some change, but Hades stops her. He pulls out his wallet instead and feeds his money into the machine, letting her pick what she wants. Persephone sheepishly makes her selection before grabbing her snack, timidly munching on it. 

“Are you asking me to tell you about myself?” she asks around a chew, smiling a bit too pleased. 

Hades can’t stop the roll of his eyes. He smiles anyways. “Maybe. Only slightly.”  

“What would you like to know, Mr. Olympus?” 

Hades squirms uncomfortably yet again when Persephone speaks to him so formally, even scrunches up his nose a little. Persephone tries hard not to find it so cute, and they make their way out of the cafeteria together once Hades has his purchased power bar in hand. 

“So, Stanford?” Hades inquires. He raises his brow at her, not even trying to hide the fact that he’s actually quite impressed. Persephone feels a little proud, a lot less than she actually should. Accepting her accomplishments has always been so hard. Feeling like she doesn’t deserve them is even harder. But seeing the way Hades is smiling at her, that really lets her feel it for the first time in a long time. 

“Longest five years of my life,” Persephone huffs exasperatedly. “What’s next?”

“Have you been here all your life?” Hades asks. They stop in front of the elevator once more, calling it to their floor. 

“Yes, born and raised. What about you?” 

“I’m an East Coast child, mostly. A lot of back and forth though. Settled here when I was in high school.” Persephone eyes Hades up and down, then grins at him so knowingly. He looks at her suspiciously. “Why are you looking at me that way?”

“No reason,” Persephone says, giggling just a little bit. She steps into the elevator when the doors slide open, and Hades picks a floor, still looking at her with the same curious gaze. “I can just tell, that’s all.” 

What?” Hades scoffs. “What is that supposed to mean?” 

Persephone laughs some more, trying to contain it as she shrugs her shoulders. “Nothing! Nothing, I promise,” she says innocently. “I just thought it was the money that made you seem so pretentious.”  

Hades nearly chokes on his power bar, eyes wide in disbelief as he stares down at Persephone. She finally lets herself laugh wildly, unable to contain herself because he just looks like a dork, trying not to die in the elevator while she revels in his pain. 

“You—you understand I’m your boss now, right?” Hades chokes out when he finally gets most of the bar down. Persephone is trying to catch her dang breath. 

And?” Persephone snickers. She cranes her neck to meet his eye and scrunches her cute little nose up as she smirks at him. “I get at least one day of not taking anything from a scoundrel like you, you Yankee.” She even adds a childish little poke of her tongue.

Hades lets out an amused scoff that melts into laughter, because Persephone is giggling again, and they’re laughing together. The only thing that gets them to stop is the ding of the elevator. It isn’t until then does Persephone realize they’re back at the top floor and she’s finally curious about where they’re going next. 

“I thought we already did this part of the tour?” she asks Hades. 

Hades doesn’t answer though, just leads her out and to a different part of that floor. They approach an ominous looking door that leads to some even more ominous looking stairs. 

“Okay, I’m sorry for calling you a Yankee, but please don’t lead me to my death,” Persephone says, only half joking. 

Hades, yet again, just chuckles and leads them up to the second door at the top of the stairs. When it opens, they’re met with a strong gust of wind and so much blinding light that spills through that makes Persephone squint her eyes. Maybe Hades already killed her, and this is what Heaven is. Nevertheless, she follows him, and when her eyes adjust, she opens them to the most phenomenal sight she’s ever laid her sweet little eyes on. 

“I really shouldn’t have brought you up here after you called me a scoundrel and a Yankee, but not a lot of people get to see LA from the tallest building here.”

Persephone looks around, sees the rest of the buildings that make up Downtown around her, and everything beyond it. She runs to the edge of the west side, smiling widely as she turns back to Hades. He has this all too fond smile on his face, but Persephone can’t quite pick it up. If she does, she doesn’t read into it too far. 

“You can see the ocean from here!” she says excitedly and turns back to look at him, practically buzzing.  

“It’s usually not this clear up here. Smog must be at a low today,” Hades says, walking to stand next to her. 

Persephone just looks out in awe. She’s never, ever seen anything like this. In all honesty, it doesn’t take much to make her excited. She was such a sheltered child that seeing the moon on nights when it’s full makes her gleam with happiness. She can’t feel Hades’ eyes on her, can’t see the smile that’s grown wider on his face as he watches her. She doesn’t even see it until she finally looks back, and suddenly goes sheepish under his stare. He clears his throat and quickly turns his head to look out at the scenery. 

“Hey,” Persephone says gently, nudging him with her elbow. “You never finished asking me things. You’re making this company look very bad now, I may have to quit.” 

Hades looks at her, and lets out a breath of a laugh. 

“Okay,” he says. “What’s your favorite color?”

Pfft.” Persephone waves her hand at Hades. “Boring. Ask me if I’ve ever killed a man.” 

“What?! No!” 

Persephone giggles helplessly and crosses her arms. “Fine. It’s pink,” she says. “You don’t have to tell me yours.” 

“Wait, why?” Hades full on pouts at Persephone. She has to stop herself from looking at his lips, seeing as she hadn’t thought about kissing him in hours now, and she couldn’t start back up now. Still, the thought flashes briefly in her mind. 

“I think your office speaks for itself,” she says, almost teasingly. Hades’ pale cheeks grow a bashful red. 

“Well,” he huffs. 

They stand there for a few moments in silence, just looking out at the view before them. That tension that was there earlier has dissipated, and Persephone can’t believe how comfortable she’s gotten with Hades in such a short amount of time. Maybe, just maybe, touching him so intimately helped break down a barrier that might’ve been there had they not had that encounter, but a small part of her wants to believe that they just mesh well. She really shouldn’t have called her boss a dang Yankee, but he laughed with her about it, and made her smile after the stressful morning they had. 

When she looks back at Hades, he looks so serene. But underneath everything, she can see how tired he seems. The bags under his eyes are faint, but very much so there. The gray in his hair looks like it’s fighting against copious amounts of dye. His eyes, though so strikingly beautiful, look like they’ve seen a lot—too much. 

Persephone takes in a small breath. 

“I’m sorry for calling you a scoundrel,” she says softly after a while. He looks at her with a questioning hum, as if she pulled him out of deep thought. 

“Oh,” he says, chuckling gently. “I wasn’t actually serious about being upset. I swear.” 

“No, I know,” Persephone tells him, “but I’m still sorry. I don’t think I’ve been quite professional at all today.” 

Hades only shrugs. He looks back out at the view, lets out a small sigh. “It’s fine, really,” he says. “I mean, aren’t I?” 

Persephone hums, cocking her head. “Aren’t you what?”

“A scoundrel.” 

Shoulders falling, Persephone smiles faintly. She turns around to lean back against the railing as she slides a bit closer to Hades, her smile growing a bit wider. 

“Only about seventy percent,” she confirms. 

Hades feigns offense, clutching his chest with an over exaggerated groan of pain. “Ouch. That’s pretty high.” 

Persephone snickers just a little. She pushes herself off the railing and walks towards the door to the roof, stopping to beckon him. “I’ll let you know if it lowers,” she says. “Come on, we’ve got a tour to finish. I want to see the other two cafeterias.”

Persephone doesn’t miss the playful roll of Hades’ eyes, but he follows along anyways. As Persephone leads the way down the stairs, she has to struggle hard to ignore the song in her heart. It’s faint, barely even a hum, but it’s there and she knows she can’t let it continue to play. Not with him. 

In the back of her mind are small wishes. Wishes that she never went to that art gallery, never tried to catch his attention, never let him woo her as fast and as well as he did. But, Persephone is a strong girl. She musters up all the strength that she can, because she’s been through this before. She knows how to bury emotions down so deep, she barely remembers they even existed. 

It’s only been a day, after all. It couldn’t get any worse than this if she worked hard at it. 

But, through the rest of the day, she finds herself laughing with Hades more, cracking more jokes, picking up on small little things about him. The fiddle of his thumbs, the little dimples at the tops of his cheeks, the deep belly laugh he gives when something is particularly funny. 

By the end of the day, she’s almost forgotten about what the morning presented to them. It’s almost a distant memory. Almost. When they part ways, they linger a little too long with their goodbyes. 

Even when Persephone tries to head for the door, Hades calls out to stop her with a swift, “Hey!” 

She turns around quickly, a small hopeful smile on her face. 

“What’s my percentage at now after a tour like that?” 

Persephone grins. She adjusts the strap of the purse slung over her chest and hums with thought. “Hm. Forty-five.” 

“I’ll work on it.” 

Persephone pokes her tongue out once more at him, even gives him a small wave before she turns her back to leave. She can’t feel him watching her as she walks out of the building, but her face begins to fall when she realizes the gravity of the situation. The song in her heart hasn’t stopped playing. The memories won’t stop coming back. 

Persephone knows she must fortify herself, her mind already having a shovel in hand. She’ll bury this, whatever this is, as deep as she has to.  

As she sees it now, it’s her only option. 

Chapter Text

What the hell was Hades thinking? 

After splashing water on his face in the bathroom, Hades looks up into the mirror before him and groans. His eyes look so tired, and he’s so exasperated after the hellish morning he had. But then he remembers the entirety of his day spent with Persephone, and feels a little bit of elation that he immediately scolds himself for. He’s made a lot of stupid decisions in his lifetime, but this has got to be one of the worst. He pulls out his phone, quickly typing a message.

I’m sorry about today, tadpole. Dinner on me tonight if you’re up to it. 

He hopes that the text he sends to Minthe will help ease his mind. He takes another look in the mirror, and another inspection of his face tells him that it probably won’t. He sighs to himself and flings water at his reflection. Despite trying so desperately to convince himself that everything will be okay, he has a deeply rooted fear that it won’t.

Later on that night, when he’s finally off work, finally managed to wrangle himself in, Minthe surprises him. She accepts his apology and offer for dinner. Hades wants it to go well so bad. Maybe he doesn’t mean just the dinner. For the past few years, the only constants in his life have been his brothers, Hecate, and Minthe. At this point, he’s done wondering if it’s a good or bad thing. Minthe always seems to stick around, no matter how bad it gets. 

Despite all of it, Hades is still somehow left with a bitter taste in his mouth. Because even if she’s there for him to call up at the end of the day, it’s never when it counts. Hades just has a disgusting hope that it’ll all get better, eventually. 

But as he sits there in a dimly lit restaurant with his fiancée, and catches a glimpse of a woman with pink flowers on her dress, he can’t help but smile. Minthe is saying something, and he should feel guilty for filtering her out, but his mind won’t stop veering to the memory of the cute little smile on Persephone’s lips as he watched her fawn over the view of LA earlier that day. If it’s not that, it’s the way he made her laugh until she snorted, quickly followed by one too many apologies. He doesn’t realize that he’s completely zoned out until Minthe pinches the back of his hand on the table to reel him back in. 

“Jesus Christ,” she’s huffing, rolling her green eyes. “If this is your way of apologizing, you’re doing a pretty shit job at it.”

Hades sighs. “I’m sorry,” he says again. He’s been saying it a lot lately. 

“Then act like it.”

He takes a sip of his second glass of wine. Maybe things have to get worse before they get better. 

 

 

“Something is bothering you.”  

Hades looks up at his brothers over the rim of his drink. Brunch with them wasn’t his favorite thing in the world, but it wasn’t the worst. It was nice to not be sitting in an office, running a multi-billion dollar company at eleven in the morning sometimes. Only sometimes though. Whether or not this would be one of those times, he’s not quite sure yet. 

Setting his drink down, Hades shrugs. “Something is always bothering someone. Is that sore on your lip still bothering you, Zeus?” 

Zeus glares at his brother, those very lips curling into a scowl. Hades almost feels bad for the low blow. “I don’t know how many times I have to tell you two it was just a damn cold sore,” he mutters into his half-finished mimosa. 

Both Poseidon and Hades snicker like children as they sip their drinks. Zeus starts to mope like the child he is on the inside, but even sometimes on the outside. Hades can’t not pick on his baby brother, especially when the majority of the time, he’s the one dishing it out the most. 

“Oh Ha Ha, yuck it up,” Zeus says, waving down a waiter to order a round of drinks, simply by pointing at the menu. He quickly goes back to scolding his brothers. “Can we not focus on me? Hades is sulking especially hard today and I’m nosy, so spill, or we’ll pry.”

“Don’t drag me into this,” Poseidon says, raising his hands in innocence. “I just came to eat crepes and get away from work for two hours.” 

Hades can’t help the small laugh he gives his brother. Poseidon made the perfect middle brother, always the balancing point between him and Zeus when they were growing up. Whenever Hades was too uptight, or Zeus was too manic, he was laid back enough for the both of them, pulling them back into a normal, steady orbit. Hell, when their father made them all choose an instrument to play (they had no choice), Hades chose the piano, Zeus picked the guitar, and Poseidon decided on a damn ukulele. Rhea always seemed to admire his odd choice, while Cronus had to bite back the insults that sat in his throat. 

“Okay, fine.” Zeus eyes Hades pointedly. “I’ll pry. Why are you so damn sad today?”

Hades lets out a long, exacerbated breath. “I’m not sad. It’s just been a long couple of days,” he tells them. “I’m tired.” 

If he’s up for trial, at least Hades isn’t lying. He doesn’t remember the last time he wasn’t tired. It’s probably been years since he had a good night’s sleep without the aid of sleeping pills or alcohol. Besides, Hades isn’t sad. He’s just stressed the hell out of his mind, and it all started—

“You were fine at the art gallery on Saturday,” Zeus comments. Then a little light flickers in his eyes, and he smiles smug and knowingly at his brother. “Okay, so, are you going to tell me what happened at the art gallery?” 

Hades rolls his eyes. If Zeus had been paying attention he would’ve realized that he wasn’t, in fact, fine at the art gallery, but that’s neither here nor there. The only thing gnawing at him now is that Zeus won’t give it up. He knows he won’t, he never does. Hades attempts to look to Poseidon for help, but he just sips the mimosa that was just delivered to him and averts his eyes. 

Okay, so maybe he isn’t always the greatest help. 

“Nothing happened,” Hades starts with a stern voice, “at the art gallery.” 

“It wouldn’t happen to do with the hot little number you pulled to the back bathroom, would it?”  

Hades suddenly goes hot. He doesn’t know whether it’s from the embarrassment of getting seen by his brother (because then how many other people saw?) or the way Zeus just described Persephone, but it seems to send a stinging dart of anger down his spine. He squints at him, and has to let go of his glass before it breaks under his grasp. 

Zeus just grins, like the damned cat who caught the canary. He knows, he always fucking knows when and how to get under his skin. 

“I thought you’d have learned from someone to be more discreet, Hades, really,” he says and sips his mimosa so nonchalantly. When Hades goes to rebut, he holds his hand up and gives a little ah-ah. “Relax, we’re not going to tell anyone. I was just curious to know, that’s all. Why do you think I couldn’t wait until Friday to have brunch?” 

So, as it turns out, this is one of those times where Hades would rather be cooped up in his office. 

“Zeus, can’t we just have one normal brunch?” Poseidon asks. “We could’ve gone to ShowGirls again. Then we’d all be distracted.” 

“I just wanted to know how it was, sue me,” Zeus huffs. 

“Nothing happened,” Hades finally speaks. If he’s going to shut it down, he’s going to do it now. “We barely did anything, okay? Even so, I regretted it as soon as it was over.” 

Hades tries not to wince at himself. Did he really? If he’d regretted it, he never would’ve gone home to finish the job. He never would’ve actually been so upset that it didn’t happen. The same bout of guilt runs through him. If he really regretted it, he wouldn’t be thinking of Persephone right now. 

Zeus actually pouts at Hades, the child in him rearing its ugly head again. “That’s no fun,” he says. “You still seem off. There’s got to be more to this story.” 

Hades wishes, for the umpteenth time in his life, that Zeus wasn’t so persistent. Sometimes it was a great trait for him. But other times, most of the time, it drove Hades right into the damn ground. 

“If you must know, Zeus,” he says with a roll of his eyes. “I’m glad nothing happened because she works for me now.” 

Both Poseidon and Zeus look actually and thoroughly shocked at this. They glance at each other, then back to Hades. Hades only sips on his drink, or really, throws it back. He doesn’t have the patience for this anymore. He’s not sure if he ever really did. 

“Okay, okay,” Zeus sighs, giving a timid smile to Hades, “I appreciate the attempt to diversify the company, Hades, but do you really think that’s a good idea? Hiring someone you hooked up with in a bathroom?”

“Jesus Christ, Zeus, I didn’t have any say in it,” Hades groans. He rubs his temples with his fingers, prays to anything that he can get out of there soon. “I came into work yesterday and she was in my office. She’d already applied, been offered the job and everything. I had nothing to do with it.” 

“Is that why you’re so on edge?” Poseidon questions as docile as he can. 

Hades snaps anyways.  

“I’m not on edge!” 

His brothers slouch back in their chairs, Poseidon runs a hand through his long, shaggy and dirty blonde hair. Zeus lets out a sigh, the gel on his platinum blonde hair shining in the light through the cafe’s skylights. Hades has always hated how perfect he looks, all the time. The only thing that keeps him from going insane is knowing what truly lies beneath the surface.  

“Well,” Zeus mumbles, stirring around his drink, “charity work is always nice.”

“Fuck, Zeus, hop off the elephant for one second and shut up.

Even Poseidon is fed up. 

Hades takes the deepest breath that he can to compose himself. He is too exasperated at this point to keep fighting. He calls a waiter for the check, and slaps down a hundred when it’s there. Standing up and gathering his things, he looks down at his brothers. After looking at Zeus, he thinks he might see a glimpse of regret in his eyes. Or maybe it’s just his eyes are playing tricks on him. 

“Enjoy your brunch,” he tells them, voice flat. “Try to talk about something other than me.” 

With that, he turns on his heel and walks out of there. Maybe on another day, he would have had a good time. But there’s far too damn much on his mind right now. As he makes his way back to work, the only thing that eases his mind from it all is, unfortunately, seeing her again. Not his fiancée, not his best friend. Her.  

The LA traffic gives Hades enough time to cool down. By the time he walks back in, he’s actually able to smile a little at the receptionists who say good afternoon to him. As soon as he gets to the top floor, Minthe is the first person to greet him at her desk. All she does is give him a passive wave with her fingers, but at least she manages a small smile. 

Hades returns it, only briefly, before he turns to go down to his office. Rounding the corner, though, he’s met with the most wondrous sound. Persephone is laughing, and there’s an open office door that it’s coming from. But—she’s not alone. There’s someone in there making her laugh, and the slightest tinge of jealousy rides through him. When he approaches the door to poke his head in, he sees that it’s Hermes, who stops right in the middle of whatever jump or dance he’d been doing. 

Hermes immediately straightens himself out, going sheepish. Persephone is all the same, but Hades can tell by the bite of her lip that she’s holding back laughter. He hates that his eyes linger on it. 

“Mr. Olympus, hello,” Hermes breathes out, swallowing thickly as he offers a very much so quivering smile. Behind him, Persephone gives a small, shy wave to him. 

“What are you doing up here?” Hades questions, in place of a proper greeting. 

Hermes flounders, looking back and forth between Persephone and Hades. “I—Hecate, she told me—to help Persephone with her office.”

In the back, Persephone nods her head in confirmation. On the desk is a small box of her things, a few knick-knacks, and her laptop. It looks old and slightly beaten up, so Hades makes a quick mental note to make sure to order her a new one, for work, of course. In the meantime, he just hums at Hermes. “Well, it’d help if you actually did that,” he tells him. 

He’s genuinely not usually this curt with Hermes. He’s a great worker, diligent and quick, but Hades honestly doesn’t know what’s gotten into him. Maybe it was seeing the way Persephone had been smiling when he popped his head in, the sound of how she was laughing. She didn’t laugh that hard with him yesterday, did she? If she did, it must be the type of laugh she grants just anyone. It wasn’t because Hades was particularly funny. She was just being nice. 

Hades lets out a harsh sigh at himself and shakes his head. 

Hermes gulps again. “Yes, sir, of course,” he says. 

Giving one last nod to the two of them, catching Persephone’s eye one last time, he turns to head out. He curses himself for being so fucking weird. This wasn’t like him, not in the slightest.

There’s just something gnawing at him, and it’s making him itch. This time, it’s not the memories of the art gallery that are plaguing Hades, and he sort of wishes that they would. Sure, he thought of it the night before in bed with Minthe, probably the last fucking place he should, but in the back of his mind, it was the only thing that got him going. But then the thought of Persephone making jokes with him, teasing him, making him laugh crept back. 

Making friends was not at all Hades’ forte. But for some reason, it felt so damn...easy with Persephone. Maybe taking her on the tour was a mistake. Maybe offering to get to know her was a bad idea. But Hades was never good and controlling his impulsive decisions, that’s how he ended up here in the first damn place. 

Maybe, just maybe, Hades is setting himself up for failure. 

 

 

As Hades’ footsteps fade away, Persephone finally lets herself expel a snort of a laugh. She giggles at Hermes, relishing in the red of his cheeks and the flustered way he tries to compose himself. 

“Okay, what the hell?” Hermes breathes out and shuts Persephone’s office door. “Hades is so damn fickle sometimes, what is going on in that handsome little brain of his?” 

Persephone snickers, just smiling widely at her friend. Finally, he starts to laugh with her, crinkles forming by his eyes as he returns her grin. Persephone was more than glad when she found out Hecate assigned Hermes to help her out with her office. She didn’t feel like she particularly needed any help, but Hermes was going to give her some quick training, show her a few of the ropes at Hecate’s request. 

But because it’s Hermes, she already feels so, so comfortable, the very fact of having a friend in the building helped ease her tired mind. 

“I mean,” Hermes continues as he pulls a few things out of Persephone’s box, “sometimes I feel like he’s totally okay with me. Other times, like just now, I feel like he’s going to fire me if I breathe wrong!” Persephone laughs again. Hermes is always making her laugh, always putting a smile on her face. It’s always sort of been his specialty. While Eros was there to let her cry, Hermes was always the one to make sure she didn’t. (Artemis was just always ready to kill on her behalf, and that was great on its own.) 

Every time Hermes gets her to laugh though, do that cute little giggle of hers, Persephone notices the slight glimpse of pride that he exudes. He gleams just a little bit. 

“I think Hades is really nice,” Persephone says with a small shrug and hops onto her desk, swinging her legs while her hands grip the edge.

“Of course you do, they all do at first,” Hermes says as a matter of factly. Persephone tries not to pout at this. She doesn’t want to think, or believe, that Hades put on an act for all of the new employees that he happened to meet. She had to have been different, right? Their start was completely unique, albeit a complete train wreck, but it had to have set them up differently. Given them a start at a different sort of friendship. If she could even call it that. 

Then again, she’s the one who wanted to be cordial. She’s the one who wanted to be professional and kind. After yesterday, she’s not quite sure what she wants anymore. 

Neither of them say anything for a moment, not until Hermes pulls out a picture frame from the box with a fond smile across his lips. Persephone immediately recognizes that it’s a photo of them; her, Hermes, Eros, and Artemis. It warms her heart each time she sees it. 

“This was a really great trip,” Hermes comments. 

Persephone gives a little pssh. “I’d hardly call it that. Going an hour away from home is barely a trip.”  

Hermes shrugs though, looking up from the photo to meet Persephone’s eyes. His are so soft, so friendly and welcoming, they radiate a warmth that makes them so familiar to even a stranger. 

“I don’t think it’s about the distance, it’s about the memories. The people you make them with.” He’s wearing a genuinely kind smile as he looks at Persephone, but the bubbling laughter in her chest releases itself as she playfully shoves his shoulder. 

“You’re such a sap!” 

Hermes feigns the utmost offense and nudges Persephone back, definitely not as hard as she did, even if he could with the slight muscles that he beared. 

“Oh come on, just let me adore my friends for once, jeez!” 

They laugh together some more, and Persephone really hopes that the rest of the floor can’t hear them. It already got them in slight trouble with Hades once. She has no idea how easy it is to get on his bad side. Is that even something she could do? 

When their laughter dies down once more, Persephone lets out a small, content sigh. “I know, I know,” she says. “Why do you think I brought the photo? It’s nice to have you guys with me…” 

“Who’s the sap now?” Hermes huffs, pouting playfully, but he flashes back into a smile almost instantly though. “I get you. That’s why I’m so glad you’re here now. I was so happy to find out you got the job.”

“Me too,” Persephone says softly. She truly was, before anything happened. Before she ever met Hades, she was so genuinely excited to start a new chapter in her life. It’s partially why she feared so much that she’d mucked it up coming into the office the morning before, finding out that Hades is her boss now. After everything that had happened, it was just her luck. 

Hermes just hums gently, and Persephone is a little taken aback when she feels his hand over hers on the desk. Her heart jumps nervously as she looks down at them, then back to him. 

“I’m just really happy to have you here,” Hermes tells her. His voice is so much gentler now, and the fond look in his eyes catches a breath in Persephone’s throat. She has to swallow it down, ignore the way her cheeks begin to heat.  

Clearing her throat, she nods just as she hops down from the desk, effectively pulling her hand away too.

“As happy as I am too,” she says with a sheepish chuckle, “I think we should finish up. Hecate wanted you to try and show me the ropes around here after we were done.” 

Yet again, Hermes seems a little flustered. A blush dusts over his cheeks once more and he looks as though he’s snapped himself out of some daze. He only nods his head and just like that, he’s back to helping her with her office. 

Persephone tries hard not to dwell on how weird that was. Surely, it wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, but there was something in the air this time. Something like tension, but it wasn’t suffocating. It just felt—felt odd. 

Shaking it off, Persephone focuses on the task at hand. Things have definitely been weirder, she tells herself. 

 

 

As Hades heads back towards his office, a familiar figure steps from her own to join in his strides. 

“Welcome back,” Hecate says and looks up at him with a raised brow, eyes immediately inquisitive.

“Before you start,” Hades says, because he knows by the look on Hecate’s face that she’s got something to say. She always does, but he’s not sure how pleasant this time around is going to be. “Could we put in an order for Miss Kore’s new laptop. Latest model please, she’s going to need it.” 

Hecate lets out a steady breath, but pulls out her phone to make a quick note of it. 

“Okay.” Hades looks down to meet Hecate’s eyes once more as they walk. Nothing has changed. “Are you going to tell me why you’re looking at me like that?” 

“Just a few inquiries,” she says, shrugging her shoulders. Hades doesn’t respond. He just waits for her to continue. “One: is there any reasonable explanation as to why you emailed me, telling me to place Kore in an office on this floor when her assigned department is on the 77th floor?” 

Hades begins to sweat. 

When they stop right outside his office, she stands in front of him and squints an accusing glare up at him. Hades knows that she’s done holding back her punches with him. If he was going to let anyone pry, and if he was going to give anyone all the answers, it’s Hecate. He prepares himself for the worst at this point. 

“Two: did you think I was stupid enough yesterday to think that you and Kore didn’t already know each other?” 

Chapter Text

“Don’t pull so hard, I ironed this today!”

Hades hushes Hecate as best as he can, pulling her into his office. Once the doors are shut behind them, she yanks her arm from his hands and glares sharp daggers at him. 

Huffing, Hades groans and pinches the bridge of his nose. 

“Explain. Now.”

“I wish I could,” is all that Hades offers to Hecate. He looks at her, and that sad puppy dog look in his eyes has returned. He sees her soften around the edges and she lets out the heaviest sigh. 

“Oh, Christ, what did you do?” she questions, the exasperation thick in her voice. 

As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to explain to Hecate exactly what happened. He starts from the night at the art gallery, works his way up to the Monday morning where he found Persephone in his office after all that had happened. The more he talks about it, the more he sees Hecate’s mind working overtime, the expression on her face scrunching up in disbelief. 

When Hades is finished, the room fills with a stinging silence. Noise doesn’t re-enter until Hecate moves forward to reach up for Hades’ face. She grabs both his cheeks, then pulls him down to press her forehead against his, her eyes boring right into him. 

“You big, big idiot,” she says, though her voice is soft as ever. When she lets go, she begins to pace, running a hand through her perfectly done hair. Somehow it still remains perfect, falling right back into place. “I expect this from Zeus, not from you, Hades. 

Hades doesn’t even have to say I know. 

Surprisingly, though, a weight has been lifted off of Hades’ chest. He told his brothers a little bit of what happened, but telling someone with a leveled head relieved him of what he was holding in. Hecate would scold him, yet be there to help him, advise him not just because it’s her job, but because she’s his friend. 

She still paces though, like she always tends to do when she’s trying to think, and Hades hears her mutter something to herself like what the hell is wrong with straight people?

“Okay, well, we can’t just fire her,” Hecate finally says. Hades’ heart drops just at the thought. “You know, because I thought that was the whole deal. She came in here and the way you two acted…I thought you two were friends already, or at least people who once knew each other. I thought she applied with the intent of getting hired because of it, but as it turns out, that would’ve been the much easier route, wouldn’t it have?”  

Hades can’t help but smile sheepishly. But he supposes that yes, it would’ve been the easier route. 

“Just—don’t make things worse, okay? Be kind to her, but if I catch you pulling her into any bathrooms, Hades—”

“No!” Hades immediately says, running his hands down his face as he shakes his head. He’s really trying to keep the thoughts of that night from flooding back. He’d been doing so damn good. “No, I won’t. I can’t. I don’t get drunk on the clock, and that’s one big glaring factor to everything that happened, Hecate.”

Hecate only scoffs. She gives Hades a deadpan look and lets out a quiet hum. Her eyes are so damn knowing, all the time, but she stays quiet. She doesn’t say another word, just steals a piece of candy from a bowl near the French press. Popping it into her mouth, she makes her way towards the door. Her eyes never leave Hades, not once. 

“This isn’t over,” she tells him, words slightly muffled by the candy in her cheek. “Behave.”  

With that, she’s gone. Hades exhales a long breath that he’d been holding. 

He could behave, right? It couldn’t be that hard. The rest of the week would be a breeze. 

 

 

When Hades first hired Minthe, she always knocked before coming into his office. She had this little shy voice (with that hint of Southern twang still laced in it), always called out, “Mr. Olympus?” before she poked her head in. She’d always come in with a smile on her face; the cute, almost devilish smile that Hades first fell for.  

A lot of things have changed since then.

That’s why she comes barging into his office on Friday afternoon, a stack of papers in hand. She doesn’t look particularly angry, or upset, or annoyed. Her face is just flat, bored even. Hades tips his glasses down his nose and offers her a gentle smile anyways. Maybe if he looks like he’s happy to see her, he actually will be. 

“Hey, boss man,” Minthe says, dropping the papers onto Hades’ desk. She doesn’t miss a beat as she goes to his side, and hops to sit on the desk in front of him. She makes sure her form fitted skirt bunches up a little, the top of nylon stockings peeking to say hello. Finally, a sly smile makes its way onto her red tinted lips. Her eyes shine with hidden mischief. “I made copies of that third quarter report for you.” 

Hades knows her game. After their dinner the other night, things had been...okay. They weren’t grand—just okay. But that was better than usual. But something seemed to have kicked off in Minthe.

As it turns out, it’s pretty damn hard to behave around someone like Persephone. In the midst of it all, Hades tried so desperately to not be around her so often. But some cruel force in the world made sure he saw her at every turn. 

She always seemed so happy to see him though. When her office was finally finished, she pulled him into it, grabbed his damned hands even. She gushed over how happy she was with it, showed him a few of her photos, and the name placard she made for herself (“The one given to me was a tad bit boring, no offense. Besides, making things yourself builds character!”). Hades still doesn’t know how she did it, because there was no answer in sight, but her office smelt like fucking flowers, and it was intoxicating. 

Of course, of course, Hades had to linger, joke around, try and make her laugh the way she did with Hermes. So, of course, Minthe was walking down to his office when Persephone was in the middle of playfully shoving Hades’ shoulder. He noticed the all too familiar glimpse of jealousy in her eyes when she looked into the office, he’s so used to it by now. She made some pathetic excuse to pull him away. Hades had to ignore the way his heart tugged towards Persephone as he was dragged out of the office. 

Minthe managed to channel her jealousy into a ten minute makeout and fondle session in Hades’ office, and it probably would’ve gone further had Hecate not interrupted. Persephone’s new laptop had come in, and Hecate saying that through the door killed the entire mood between him and Minthe. 

Even so, she’s been so clingy since then. Hades had to begin cherishing his moments with Persephone (as if he didn’t already), because Minthe always found a way to weasel her way in there and whisk him away. 

Sighing softly, Hades takes off his glasses and looks up at Minthe with a small, knowing smile. “Well,” he says, “that’s new. I didn’t even have to ask you to do it this time.” 

Minthe just grins a little wider, a little more innocently as she shrugs her shoulders. 

“I’ll take that as a backhanded compliment, thank you very much,” she says with a small hmph. Hades fully expects the hand she lays on his shoulder, scooting a little closer to him as she pulls her bottom lip between her teeth. 

“Minthe,” Hades says, a warning in his voice. It’s barely there though, he knows, because Minthe keeps going anyways. She takes one of his hands and places it on her thighs. Quick flashes of the feeling of Persephone’s thighs under his hands bombard his memories. God, he thinks, this is so pathetic. 

Genuinely, he can’t help it. Hasn’t been able to help it. Minthe’s thighs aren’t as thick as hers, as warm as hers, as soft as hers. The thoughts begin to plague him even more when Minthe leans down to giggle in his ear, kiss along his jawline. It’s only when one of her hands touches the buckle of his belt does he finally stop her, using a gentle, yet forceful hand to push her back. 

“Minthe, not right now,” Hades says. He’s found his authority again, and Minthe finally pulls back with a huff. She rolls her eyes at him. 

Fine,” she says, tugging her skirt down and crossing her legs. She looks down at him and sighs heavily. “At least indulge me for a while.”

Minthe pulls out her phone, looks through it for a moment before showing Hades the screen. 

“What am I looking at?” 

Rolling her eyes once more, Minthe locks her phone. “Do you not know a wedding dress when you see one?” 

Hades leans back in his chair and lets out a small breath. Of course. It’s not that Hades hates talking or even thinking about the wedding, their wedding, it’s just that—it’s just that—

“I was thinking about that one,” Minthe explains. Hades can tell that she’s trying to calm herself down, softening her voice. 

Hades knows her game. He knows she never came in there with the intent of showing him the report, seducing him once more. He knows, and he has to ignore the ache in his chest. 

“Don’t you think we should focus on other things first? Before the dresses?” Hades asks as calmly as he can. He’s always walking on thin ice with Minthe. He never knows what can set her off, at any given moment. 

Surprisingly, Minthe just puts on a wiry smile and leans forward into Hades’ bubble. “Gee, I sure would, Hades,” she says, her voice nearing a hiss. “I’d love to focus on catering, and floral arrangements, and wedding venues. Oh wait! I’ve been trying.” 

“Minthe—”

Suddenly, Minthe just looks dejected. She attempts to collect herself, even though Hades is certain she was just about to crack. 

“It’s been three years, Hades,” she says, voice low. “Three goddamn years, and we can’t even book a goddamn wedding venue!” 

“Minthe, can we please talk later—”

Minthe grabs Hades’ tie, pulls him in so their noses are almost touching. “It’s always later with you,” she finally hisses, venom seeping into the sadness in her eyes. Hades has seen it all before. The part that chips away at his heart is the fact that she’s not the only person who’s ever given him that same look, the one that makes him feel shreds of guilt for everything he’s ever done wrong.

Hades’ heart begins to tremble, just a little bit. But just before Minthe can open her mouth to berate Hades even more, there’s a knock at his office door. 

Well, that hasn’t happened in a while. 

“Ha—Mr. Olympus?” 

The familiar, soothing voice on the other side of the door immediately makes Hades melt. He croaks out a loud enough, “Come in,” before Persephone’s head pokes its way in the door as it slowly opens. His heart trembles again, but in a different way this time, when Persephone gives her signature, sheepish smile. 

“Oh!” Persephone says when she sees Minthe on Hades’ desk. Hades immediately notices the way Minthe tenses, her eyes glaring right at Persephone. “I’m sorry—I can come back later!” 

“No!” Hades quickly says, standing up and releasing himself from Minthe’s grasp. He straightens himself out and beckons Persephone in, giving her the same, shaky smile he’s been giving her all week. “No, it’s fine. Minthe was just leaving.”

He makes sure his words are pointed and sharp as he eyes Minthe. Hades can tell how bad she wants to protest harshly, can see the words sitting at the tip of her tongue. But, she doesn’t. She situates herself, hops off the desk, and makes her way out of the office. But not before staring Persephone down, even going as far to brush her shoulder with her own on the way out.

Persephone, for some odd reason, doesn’t seem bristled at all. She just smiles up at Hades, like she had been all damn week, and Hades has to let out a shaky breath at the sight of it. 

“Hi,” Persephone says, so, so softly. “I really could have waited...it wasn’t important at all.”

“Nonsense,” Hades huffs. Not important? Persephone could come into one of his board meetings to show him a stupid cat video and Hades would put a halt on everything, just to entertain her. “I’m actually glad you came in. I have something for you.”

Persephone puts on a little, fucking adorable, puzzled expression as Hades rounds his desk to pull out a box from one of the drawers. He approaches her with it and hands it to her with a wide and proud grin. 

“Here,” he says happily. “Latest model. Hasn’t even been released yet.”

Looking down at the laptop box in her hands, Persephone’s face drops and she quickly looks back up at Hades to catch his eye. “Hades—” she barely manages to choke out. It’s the first time she’s said his name in—well, ever. After everything that’s happened, she’s never once said it. 

Hades decides now that he won’t be able to get enough of hearing his name fall off her lips.  

“Hades,” Persephone breathes out again (he shivers this time), pushing the box back in his direction. “I can’t accept this. I can’t pay you back for it. I promise, I’m perfectly content with mine.”

Hades waves his hand at Persephone. “Stop, I insist. You can’t work for one of the top technology companies in the world and not have state of the art technology,” he tells her, pushing the box back towards her. “I would’ve given it to you sooner, but it kept slipping mind.” 

In all honesty, it was always Minthe. But he doesn’t need to tell her that. 

Persephone still looks so wary though, that little furrow back between her brow, pout on her lips. Hades swoons. God. So pathetic. 

“Please,” Hades continues gently. He gives her the gentlest smile he can muster, wants her to know how genuine he’s being right now. It’s never been an easy thing to come by for him, but with her, it’s not exactly hard. “For me?” 

Right before his eyes, Persephone seems to melt. She smiles right back at him, and pulls the box against her chest. Persephone averts her eyes to the ground, and Hades can feel the tips of his ears heat up as he just stands there and looks at her with the fondest eyes ever.  

Hades has to catch himself. He has to stop looking at her, inspecting each curl on her head, the lashes on the mounds of her cheeks, the plumpness of her lips. He can’t. Clearing his throat, he takes in a sharp breath. “So—What was it you came in here for?” 

Persephone finally looks back up, eyes wide in realization. Hades cocks a brow at her.  

“Oh—! I...it was...nothing. I promise, it wasn’t important. I barely even remember now.” Persephone laughs, somewhat nervously as she steps backwards towards the door. “I should get back to work. Have a good weekend? Have a good weekend! Just in case—just in case I don’t see you again today.”

Hades is honestly a little confused by Persephone’s behavior. He doesn’t get another word in before Persephone is gone, rushing out of his office. 

That was odd, to say the least. But then again, it’s been an odd week. The day is quickly coming to an end, but as Hades composes himself and heads back to his desk, he realizes that it can’t come quick enough.  

When the end of the day finally does come around, Hades is so excited for it. He’s practically buzzing, and his mood begins to lift just thinking about going home. Just before Hades is getting ready to call it quits, Hecate makes her way into his office with an all too satisfied grin on her face.  

Sooo,” she is saying, Hades eyeing her curiously as she strides to his desk. “I was thinking—”

“Uh-oh,” Hades mumbles, holding back a snicker. He doesn’t miss the way that Hecate rolls her eyes.

“Okay, you know what, I came here to invite you for drinks after the long week we’ve both had, but I can go home and see my cat.”

Hecate makes the move to leave, knowing full well that Hades will stop her, which he does. But not without finally letting out the laugh that he had been stifling. 

“No, no, stop, I’m sorry,” he says, smiling up at Hecate as he shuts down his computer and starts to gather his things. “I want to go. I was just finishing up.”

Hades is genuinely grateful Hecate came in to offer the invitation. He hasn’t had a non-work, non-prior obligation, non-Minthe related outing in so long. Especially not with her. Hecate definitely knows how to make Hades a little exasperated, but in a good way. So, most of the time, he misses her, wishes everything didn’t have to be work related. 

Hecate grins though. Once Hades is done closing up shop, she extends an arm to him which he immediately hooks with his own. They walk out, arm in arm, and stride down the hall. Most of the people on their floor had already filed out. Off clock means off the damn clock for a lot of them. They’re on a salary anyways. But light spills from one of the offices, and the smell of flowers floods Hades’ senses the closer they get to it. 

Hecate stops at the door before Hades can, and they both peek in to see Persephone there, working so damn intently on her brand new laptop. Her tongue is poked out of her mouth; she’s so engrossed in her work, she doesn’t even notice they’re there. 

“Hey, Kore,” Hecate says to pull her back down to Earth. It works, in the sense that it scares the living hell out of her, because she jumps and looks up with those same doe eyes Hades has grown so keen on. When Persephone realizes it’s them, her face flushes. Despite her complexion, Hades has learned to notice when it’s there, just the slight tint of red that dawns her cheeks. It pulls at his heart. 

“It’s your first week, why are you working so hard?” 

When she reels back in from her small heart attack, Persephone lets out a small giggle. “Shouldn’t I be?”

“Only if you want to burn out by the end of the month,” Hecate jokes. She looks up at Hades then, and fucking winks. Hades should know what’s coming before it happens, but it takes a moment for his brain to catch up. “Hades and I are going out for drinks. You should join us.” 

Fuck. What the fuck? Hades was fine before, but he doesn’t know if he handle it with Persephone being around. Wasn’t Hecate the one who told him to behave? The last time he drank around Persephone—well, yeah. 

Hades watches Persephone ponder for a moment, like she wants to say no, which he hopes and doesn’t hope she does. His feelings have never been so conflicted about a person in his goddamn life, and he hates it so. But then Persephone shuts her laptop and shrugs her shoulders with a small smile. 

“I suppose I can.” 

Hecate grins so evilly up at Hades. He’s known her long enough to know what it all means, exactly why she’s doing this. Sure, she wants Hades to behave himself, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a little fun. 

 

 

The car ride to their favorite drink spot is something. Because they’re bound to be drinking, they call a car for them, and Hecate is quick to take the passenger seat. Their driver is a woman, who Hecate doesn’t hesitate to start a conversation with, leaving Hades and Persephone to stew in their own (somewhat awkward) silence. 

Persephone is practically hanging on to her door, glued to it, Hades notices. She’s been acting weird ever since his office, and Hades sort of hates it. In the midst of the silence between them, he lets out a wavering chuckle. 

“So,” he says afterwards, “why’d you decide to tag along?”

Persephone eyes him carefully. 

“Do you not want me to come?” she asks pensively. 

“No! I mean yes. No, I mean—” Hades huffs. Persephone finally seems to loosen up a little bit at this, lets out a small chuckle at his pain. She even peels herself away from the car door. Hades smiles timidly at her. “You know what I mean.” 

“Do I?” 

Persephone dares to give Hades a sly smirk, eyebrow cocked at him. Hades lets out a fluttering laugh, but doesn’t say anything. He just sits there, enjoys the rest of the ride with them. He gets a bit of amusement out of Hecate helplessly flirting with their driver. Still, nothing stops him from glancing at Persephone every so often, watching the city lights cast over her face as she stares longingly out the window. 

When they finally get to the bar, Hades can’t help the elation that courses through him. It’s not the most extravagant bar in the city, but the people there were genuine, kind, and knew how to have a good time. It beats going to some upscale bar a block from Rodeo Drive with people who will smile to your face and talk about how much they hate you later on. 

The three of them make their way inside and Hecate leads them to their usual table. Persephone is scanning the place, purse tucked neatly away in her lap. Hecate is quick to order a round of drinks for the table, both her and Hades already taking off their blazers and rolling up their sleeves. 

Persephone only watches them in a bit of awe. This is Hades’ favorite part of any day, finally cutting loose, pulling off his tie, being able to breathe after long days. Hades thinks he sees Persephone eyeing his neck when he loosens his collar and throw his tie over the back of his chair, even unbuttoning the first couple buttons of his shirt. He thinks that’s what he sees. Whether or not he’s right, he won’t let himself figure out.  

“Thank you for inviting me out,” Persephone says, directing it to Hecate. Hecate puts on a rarely sweet smile, leaning on her palm as she looks at Persephone. 

“You looked like you were trying to move that laptop with your mind, I think we all needed this,” Hecate says with a light laugh. “Besides, it’s been fun getting to know our new girl.”

“Wait,” Hades butts in, looking at them curiously, “you two have been talking?”

Hecate rolls her eyes, and Persephone giggles. “We’re allowed to talk to people other than you, Hades,” Hecate deadpans, but the smile on her face doesn’t match it at all. “Besides, Kore and I have got to stick together. We get each other, I’ve learned very fast.” 

“Is this a woman thing I’m not getting?”

Persephone and Hecate look at each other for a brief moment, then let out boisterous laughter that leaves Hades looking back and forth between them, very confused. 

“Seriously! What am I not getting?” Hades pleads, pouting at them. 

The two of them just continue to laugh even harder, snickering together wildly. If Hades wasn’t so damn lost, he’d be admiring the sound of Persephone’s laugh right now. 

“Sure,” Hecate finally says with a snort. She gives Persephone a knowing grin. “A woman thing. Let’s say that.” 

Their drinks arrive before Hades can say anything else. He just sits there and sulks while the girls giggle to each other and talk. But, it sort of warms Hades’ heart to see Hecate so loose for once. One of the only other women on their floor is Minthe, and he knows how she feels about her. That’s why he assumes this is just a woman thing they’re talking about, but there are a couple of other women on their floor. Hecate knows them, just doesn’t talk to them beyond work. Sure, the women are like the ones they tend to avoid; snooty, fake, and too goddamn pretentious. 

But Hecate seems—comfortable right now, sitting here with Persephone and talking back and forth. Once Hades is done pouting like a child, he joins in too. It’s so, so nice to have this. Even being around Persephone isn’t so bad once he’s got a drink or two in him. Sure, this didn’t end well last time, but Hades thinks it’s safe to assume that he’s learned his lesson.

Still, sitting there, watching her slowly loosen up with them brings an indescribable feeling to his heart. She keeps smiling, keeps laughing, and sometimes Hades forgets to interact with the two of them, just opts for watching her glow under the dingy lights of the bar. 

At some point, Hecate’s phone buzzes on the table. Hades isn’t tipsy, but he’s three drinks in and is definitely a little more giddy than usual. Strong drinks, he supposes. After checking her phone, Hecate’s face drops, and she groans loudly. 

“Well, the end is nigh for me, comrades,” Hecate sighs, standing up and gathering her things. Persephone, on her own third drink, looks up at her with the most exaggerated pout on her face. “I hate to leave you two behind. But I have a feeling you’ll live without me.” Hecate grins at them. 

“See you on Monday then?” Hades says, and Hecate nods with a hum. 

With parting goodbyes, Hecate leaves, once again leaving Hades and Persephone alone to their own devices. Persephone immediately goes a little bashful under Hades’ gaze, and he smiles a little. 

“We don’t have to stay if you don’t want to,” Hades tells her. 

“What?” Persephone says, a bit wounded. “Oh, no, I—it’s not that. I just—” She pauses, as if to collect her thoughts. Hades watches those lips of hers let out a deep breath, and his own catches in his lungs. The moment only passes when she speaks again.

“It’s just funny, I guess,” Persephone finally continues, shrugging her shoulders. “The last time we were alone and had too much to drink, it didn’t exactly end well.”

This time, it’s Hades’ turn to tint red a bit too much, his cheeks warming at the memory. He doesn’t say much besides letting out the small, nervous chuckle he musters. Persephone catches herself, and frowns a little. 

“I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t bring it up,” she tells him. “We—I probably shouldn’t mention it if we’re going to, you know, be normal and...professional together.” 

Despite the alcohol in his system, Hades doesn’t have the guts to tell Persephone that it’s all he’s been able to think about. In fact, he’s still having a hard time admitting it to himself, and why he can’t stop the thoughts from running through his mind on repeat each and every time he sees her. Even if it’s for the briefest of moments, he can’t deny that they’re there.  

Hades only tries to smile though, attempting weakly to let her know that it’s fine.

“Hey, if we can’t joke about our mistakes, how else are we going to enjoy life?”

Persephone’s face falters for a brief moment. “Mistakes. Right, we should definitely be able to laugh at them…” 

Something clenches at Hades’ heart, something that he can’t explain. He continues speaking anyways. 

“Besides,” Hades laughs, “you think three drinks is getting drunk together? I’m not a lightweight, sweetheart.”  

Finally, finally, Hades gets Persephone to laugh again. It’s around the offense she’s trying to feign, but she laughs nonetheless, even hiccupping a little as she crosses her arms over her chest. 

“I’m not a lightweight either, sweetheart,” Persephone tries to huff, but she can’t do it without another hiccup that just makes her laugh even more. 

For a few moments, they just laugh together. There’s a certain feeling coursing through Hades’ chest, something warming his body besides the alcohol in his bloodstream. He has a very good idea of what the hell it is, but there’s no way on Earth he’ll let himself admit it.  

When they finally calm down, Hades just stops to smile gently over at Persephone. They meet each other’s eyes for a few moments longer than they should, before Persephone finally averts them back down.  

“I never said thank you,” Persephone mutters after a little bit. She stirs around the ice in her now empty drink. “For the the laptop, I mean. I didn’t realize until after I’d left your office.” 

“Oh,” Hades says, but he waves her off nonchalantly and shakes his head. “I told you it was no big deal. I don’t think you realize how little sweat it is off my back,” he adds, chuckling.  

Persephone wears the same smile she wore in his office, looks up at him with what he could only describe as the most grateful eyes he’s ever seen. He’s not used to this. Most people in his life just take and leave. He didn’t even notice when she hadn’t thanked him, because it’s what he’s grown so accustomed to. 

“Still,” Persephone says, voice soft. He doesn’t it expect it when she reaches across the table to lay her hand on his. His heart jolts. “Thank you. I really, really appreciate it.” 

When she draws her hand back, Hades’ gut reaction is to almost tell her no, pull it back in and hold it there. He bites back the urge, though, just nods his head at her and gives a low hum.  

“I’m just glad your first week went well,” Hades then tells her. “I mean, after the hellish start we had. I think that would’ve made anyone quit.”  

“Well, I’m not just anyone,” Persephone says proudly, a prideful little smirk on her lips.  

Well, yeah. Hades didn’t know who he was dealing with at first, but after everything that’s happened, he can tell that Persephone’s got the perseverance of a bull.  

Truthfully, Hades can’t believe how content he is just sitting there, enjoying Persephone’s company. They don’t really notice when bar patrons begin to file out, don’t keep an eye on the clock, because just sitting there and talking to each other is enough to keep the outside world at bay. 

It’s when Persephone finally yawns does Hades manage to check his watch, and sees that it’s a quarter past midnight. He scoffs to himself in slight disbelief. Hades doesn’t want to be the one to say it, though. Doesn’t want to be the one to end their night, because he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to have one like it again. 

Thankfully, Persephone does, even if it pains him a little. 

“I don’t know about you,” she says, voice already riddled with tinge of sleepiness, “but I might pass out here on this table if I don’t get going soon.”

“That sounds like a great idea, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hades jokes. Persephone only gives a weak laugh in return. 

Hades can see the tiredness in her eyes though. He grants her mercy, gets up to gather his things and finally lead her outside. He orders them both cars after asking her address. 

It’s weird sometimes, seeing LA this quiet at night. There are still cars going by, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of traffic that happens during the day time. It’s nice. Hades is focusing on it when he feels a thump against his chest, and looks down to see Persephone’s head laying against it. 

“Sorry,” she mumbles sleepily, but doesn’t make any move to pull away. Hades begins to warm again. His heart betrays him by beating a little faster, a little harder. He prays that she can’t feel it. 

But god, she looks so damn cute. Sleepy, still just a little tipsy. With her so close, he can smell the scent of her hair, swears it’s a mixture of coconut and heaven. Hades would let her stay there forever if she wanted to. A small smile creeps onto his lips, and he takes his blazer to drape it across her shoulders. It swallows her up, and Hades has to stop himself from swooning even harder.  

“You’re fine, don’t worry,” he tells her. 

Hades has to fight to contain himself, even more so when it feels like Persephone is wiggling her way to her closer. She mumbles something, and it’s almost incoherent, but Hades swears it’s something like, “ You’re-so-warm.”  

Taking in a quivering breath, Hades looks down at Persephone. “Hey,” he says gently, shaking her slightly to catch her attention. “Hey, can I see your phone really quick?”

Despite feeling the slight reluctance, Persephone pulls back anyways to listen to Hades, handing him her phone. 

Hades takes a quick moment to put his number in her phone, and smiles softly as he hands it back to her. “Listen to me, okay?” he tells her, firm, yet as gentle as possible. “Stay awake for me, yeah? And text me when you get home. Can you do that?” 

At that moment, the first car pulls up for Persephone. She looks back at it, then to him before she nods her head. She already looks more alert, just from him telling her to, and Hades hums a little. He leads her to the car and opens the back door for her. 

“Thank you,” Persephone says again. So goddamn polite, it makes Hades’ heart ache. 

“Good night, Persephone,” Hades says kindly, smiling down at her. When she makes the move to try and take off his blazer, he stops her, shaking his head. “No, it’s fine. Trust me, I’ve got loads. Stay warm, okay?”  

Persephone smiles gratefully up at Hades, but pulls it tighter around herself. “Good night then, Hades.” 

God, the sound of his name on her lips. It genuinely makes Hades’ head swim, just a little. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get enough of it.  

Watching Persephone into the car hurts only slightly. It’s a little inexplicable, but deep down, Hades knows the reason. He just won’t let himself dig for it. 

Still, Persephone lingers a little, doesn’t reach to close the door right away. Instead, she looks up at Hades and grants him that little smile of hers. “I’ll see you Monday,” she says. 

“Yeah, Monday,” Hades responds. Stalling is fine, right?

Hades reluctantly steps away from the car, allowing Persephone to finally close the car door. They’re probably annoying the hell out of the driver right now, but Hades can’t bring himself to care. Not when Persephone is looking at him with those soft eyes of hers. 

Finally, she slowly closes the door, and Hades cherishes that last glimpse of her before it shuts. All he’s left with is his reflection in the tinted windows, and he sees himself staring back at him. For the first time, he sees that pathetic, dopey smile on his face, with nothing he can do to wipe it off. 

At least not until the car pulls off, and his smile finally falters, is he left waiting for his to arrive. On his chest, he can still feel the weight of her head, still smell just a little bit of her on his shirt. He sighs to himself.  

At the moment, two days without seeing her seems so shitty. But in reality, it’s probably the grandest blessing he could’ve gotten. 

Chapter Text

Drinks with Hecate and Hades was supposed to be fine.

Admittedly, Persephone knew she was beyond flustered that day. That entire week, in fact. Despite everything in her body telling her that maybe, just maybe she shouldn’t spend so much time around Hades, the intoxicating feeling of being around him was too much to deny. There was just something about feeling like she was making a friend in him, above anything else, that made her feel so elated. She couldn’t quite help it. 

Fortunately, whenever she wasn’t finding some excuse to be around him, she found a surprising blossoming friendship in Hecate. It started innocently enough, just a few words about Persephone’s job, helping Hermes train her, but Persephone knew that they both sort of got each other, almost instantly. From there, they ended up sharing a couple of their lunch breaks together, exchanging stories, telling jokes, and Hecate even taking a moment to tell Persephone about her experience working for Hades all the years that she’s been there. Persephone’s nerves about the job were still very much so there, but being able to talk to Hecate about it, someone who understood where she was coming from to a certain extent, was so reassuring. By the end of it all, they were incredibly comfortable with one another. Persephone had even offered to help her brush up on whatever was left of Hecate’s high school Spanish, as long as Hecate taught her the Korean (as she now knows) curse words that she heard her use on her first day there. 

So, after the frenzy of an afternoon that Persephone endured, she needed some sort of redemption. Truthfully, Persephone hadn’t really meant to spend ten minutes coming up with an excuse to head to Hades’ office, just to talk to him. But, immediate regret flooded her when she caught him and Minthe in a somewhat compromising position. But then—then he gave her the laptop, that she finally took, just for him. Maybe Persephone’s heart went a bit wild. 

Drinks were supposed to be the redemption! Especially since she was caught trying very hard to figure out how her new laptop worked, not exactly working like Hecate had assumed. Regardless, Hecate’s invitation really did warm Persephone’s heart a little, even if she did take advantage of the fact that she was going to be hanging out with her and Hades

But then Hecate left. It was just the two of them, and Persephone made a stupid joke about something they should’ve forgotten by now. Everything was telling her to leave, you shouldn’t be here, this is dumb, you have to go. But the more Hades smiled at her, the more he talked to her, the more time they just spent in each other’s presence, the less she wanted to leave. 

Alcohol really did do something to Persephone. Otherwise, she never would’ve acted on her urges to touch his hands, be close to him, rest her dang head on his chest

Surely, it’s mostly a blur, but not enough for her to forget. Especially not when she wakes up, still engulfed in a blazer that smells like a waning bonfire and expensive cologne. Persephone immediately heats up, but it doesn’t stop her from curling into herself, basking in the warmth that it brings her, with the happiest, little groggy smile on her face. 

In the back of her mind, Persephone knows she made plans with Artemis that day. She knows she should get up, clean around just a little, and get ready. But she decides that just a few more minutes won’t kill anyone. If it does, so be it. 

Pulling herself out of bed is the hardest part, but she manages. Persephone takes the time to hang Hades’ blazer up, even sets a reminder on her phone to take it back into work for him on Monday. Until then, she’ll go through the motions of her day.

“You look different today,” Artemis says at some point to her when they’re finally together. They’re stuck trying to find anything to watch on any streaming service they have, but this is how it normally goes. A majority of the time, Persephone doesn’t even tend to care. Just being with her friends is nice. 

Persephone glances at Artemis, cocking her eyebrow just slightly. “Is that a bad thing?” 

Artemis shrugs. She looks Persephone up and down a few times, then squints. “You just look—I dunno, really. Different. You’ve got this glow about you.”

At this, Persephone goes a bit sheepish. She knows deep down she’s still reeling in from her week at work, knows that she can’t go more than ten seconds without thinking of something Hades did or said. She can’t stop thinking about the way they were the night before. It feels pretty dang pitiful, but to know that she’s emitting her emotions is somehow worse. 

“Oh well,” Artemis says then, “maybe I’m just being weird.”

“What’s new?” Persephone teases, smirking at Artemis. A couch pillow is thrown her way with surprising force, and Persephone lets out a loud burst of laughter as she tries to swat it away. “Bully!” 

Artemis just grins at Persephone once the pillow is gone, and she sticks her tongue out at her.

Inevitably, the two of them decide on the same old sitcom they always do after a while. Persephone ends up sitting on her couch the completely wrong way, with her legs on the back of the couch while her head hangs off the edge. Artemis is just completely sunk into it, leaned back all the way. She almost looks like she’s asleep. Persephone misses this, being roommates with Artemis. She wishes they still were, but Artemis moved back in with her mother for a while. Being alone for the first time in her life is a new experience for her, which is why Persephone always seems to have someone over.

On the screen of the television, the same two characters she’s watched fall in love over, and over, and over again pull at Persephone’s heart strings. They’ve been through so much, breakups and makeups, but their undeniable want for each other during their times apart was enough to make anyone tear up, even just a little. 

Persephone can feel an odd weight in her chest watching it. As the characters lie in bed after getting back together, finally, and share a few kisses, Persephone can’t help but think about her and Hades. She was supposed to have pushed this far down by now. But it wasn’t just the kissing, or the touching, and everything else in between. Now it’s the way his laugh made her chest cave in, or how being near him gave Persephone little pushes to get through the day. It’s how she spent a few nights during the week staying up, imagining what it would be like to be held by him. Not in any sexual way; just held, right there against his chest and kept warm through the night. 

Well. Okay. 

“Hey, Artemis?” Persephone lifts her head to peer up. The way Artemis jolts a little tells her that she most likely did doze off for a second, but she’s fully alert within the second. 

“Huh? Yeah?” Artemis says. She sits up a little, looking down at Persephone.  

“Have you ever—” Persephone sighs, swallowing the uncomfortable lump in her throat, “—ever had a real crush on someone?” She immediately winces once the question leaves her mouth, her face scrunched up with eyes closed because she doesn’t know if she can face Artemis right away.  

“Hm,” is Artemis’ response, and a pause, as if she’s thinking. Finally, she continues with, “Once. It was third grade, and turns out I just really wanted his parfait cup. But it was nice while it lasted.” 

Persephone finally opens her eyes to give a deadpan look towards Artemis, who only snickers a little. Of course, Persephone can’t really stop the little twitch of her threatening smile. 

“Why?” Artemis asks then. Such a small, yet very loaded question. 

Sighing, Persephone finally situates herself into an upright position. “I just—I spent so long focusing on school, and getting my life together,” she starts, staring down at her lap and fiddling with the drawstring of her shorts. “Now that I don’t have any real distraction, or at least an excuse to call a distraction, I just sort of—you know. Are crushes supposed to feel a certain way? Should they feel so weird?” 

Actually saying these things out loud gives Persephone an odd feeling in the pit of her stomach. Twenty-four years old and she’s still calling more than platonic feelings a crush. But she’s being honest, at least. High school she was too focused on escaping her suffocating life, and college was spent making sure high school wasn’t futile. She entertained one or two guys for a night, at college parties she got dragged to because her friends were worried about her social life. Persephone just wanted better. Feelings could wait. Could they now, and did she really have any reason to make them? Besides work hierarchies and fiancées.  

Artemis eyes Persephone for a moment. “Perse, hun,” she says, voice curious, “do you have feelings for someone?”

Persephone wants to scream yes! Because she absolutely knows the answer. But she can’t, knowing it’ll become too dang real if she does. 

“I don’t know,” is what she opts for instead, sighing heavily and looking up at Artemis. “I don’t know! Maybe? I don’t think it’s even that bad!”  

Surprisingly, Artemis grins just a little, even letting out a gasp as she scoots a little closer to Persephone. “Go on.”

Persephone runs her hands down her face and groans. 

“It’s just—weird! I shouldn’t like this guy. It doesn’t exactly feel right, but for whatever reason, I can’t help it!” Persephone pouts. She looks at Artemis, like her eyes are pleading for help, because they are. Artemis doesn’t bother with these types of things, and she’s happy with her life! “I’ve just spent all week with him. Every time he’s near me, I get all gross and mushy on the inside.” 

“It’s a guy from work?!” Artemis exclaims then. This time her shock is genuine, and her smile grows tenfold. Persephone is only slightly rattled by this, but she nods her head in confirmation. 

“Persephone, my love,” Artemis says, grabbing both of Persephone’s hands and beaming at her like she’s just won the dang lottery. “I think whoever this guy is would be lucky to have you. I think you should go for it.”

“What!” It’s Persephone’s turn to go a little wild. “What? No, no, like, that’s completely off the table. It’s so much more complicated than you think.” 

Pssh, nonsense,” Artemis says. “What’s the guy like?”

Persephone’s mind immediately racks with all the different ways she could describe Hades. Her heart does the same little swoop just thinking about it, and she can’t stop the smile from creeping on her face. 

Still, she looks at Artemis suspiciously. This is weird, even for her. “Why are you so excited about this? You hate men and the very concept of them.”

Artemis lets out a wavering chuckle. She waves her hand at Persephone and tries her best not to look so guilty. 

“My best friend has a crush. It’s exciting,” she says. 

Persephone just huffs. She’ll buy it, for now. 

“Fine,” she says, pulling her hands back to cross her arms over her chest. “I guess—he’s really handsome. He’s funny, like, he really makes me laugh. And he’s got nice shoulders.” 

In all honesty, it’s the tamest way Persephone can think to describe Hades. At least without going into the whole, I’d really like to kiss his nice lips again, because we’ve done that before. That’s a big part I’m leaving out. Our attraction to each other is set in stone, but oh, he’s engaged and also my boss. Yeah. That too.

Artemis giggles at Persephone. She feels as if she’s stepped into some alternate universe, genuinely. 

“What’s his name?” 

“Okay, no way, not happening,” Persephone says, absolutely putting her foot down. Artemis frowns at her though, even tries to give her puppy dog eyes, which she’s not particularly good at. 

“At least give me the first initial!” Artemis pleads, then squints at her with a devious smirk. “It wouldn’t...give it away, would it?”

Persephone scoffs. “No —I mean—” She pauses. Hades is famous. Her friends all know where she works now. All it would take is the research she should have done in the beginning to become just a little suspicious. If Artemis decided to go to Eros and Hermes with this, there’s no way they’d be able to not know. But, then again, Persephone trusts Artemis. She sighs. “No. I don’t think so.” 

Perrrrse,” Artemis coaxes. 

Again, Persephone groans, her walls quickly crumbling. 

“It’s H.” 

Artemis smiles the widest she has this entire time, but in the blink of an eye, it’s dropped. 

“Nice to know,” is all she says, before she just flips back over and sinks right back into the couch, the exact way she was before. Persephone sits there, completely dumbfounded. All Artemis does is unpause their show, sitting there, just a little too dang giddy. 

Persephone doesn’t think she has the emotional capacity at this point to even ask. Instead, she just sighs once more, and gets up with their empty drink glasses. 

“I’ll grab us more water.”

When Persephone leaves to enter her kitchen, she only catches a glimpse of Artemis finally making a move for her phone. 

Don’t question it, she tells herself. 

 

 

Two days without seeing Hades genuinely gave Persephone a lot of time to think. By the end of it all, she thought she was finally able to wrap her head around most of it. Come to her senses, even if just a little bit. The whirlwind of how her and Hades came about was exactly that—a whirlwind. Persephone’s attraction to him wasn’t at all helped with the fact that they almost did something that she’s sure they would’ve both regretted. 

So, maybe the smart idea is to just let it dwindle. It had only been a week. It was just a crush. She didn’t have to shove it down in one punch, the way she initially planned, but she was an adult, dang it. She could handle these feelings she was never meant to have, never supposed to have. They’d fade over time. Maybe faster than she expects, if she sets her mind to it.

Getting off the elevator on Monday morning helps solidify that fact, because as the doors slide open, she’s met with the sight of Minthe pulling Hades by his tie, right into a kiss over her desk. She swears she meets her eyes before they close, and Persephone almost misses her chance to get off the elevator. 

So, yeah. Those feelings, whatever they are, are going to have to go away. Just so seeing Hades and Minthe like that doesn’t sting so bad, and this jealous feeling she’s never really had to deal with in such a large dose doesn’t plague her the way it is now. 

Persephone has to walk past Minthe and Hades to turn down the hallway towards her office. She tries to be as inconspicuous as possible, but just as she’s about to open the door to her office, she hears her name. She winces. 

“Persephone, hey, hold on!” 

Persephone bites down the urge to rush into her office and close the door behind her. She looks towards the source of the voice and puts on her best smile when she sees Hades doing his best to catch up to her. 

“Good morning, Mr. Olympus,” Persephone says. Cordial and professional. She steps into her office, finally, knowing that Hades will follow her anyways. She misses the way he bristles at the name. 

“Good morning,” Hades says, voice a little smaller than usual. He does indeed follow her into her office, puts on a docile smile. “I—you never texted me, Friday night…I mean, the app told me you were dropped off, but you know—”

Shoot! Persephone knew she’d forgotten something the morning after. But then— “Your blazer!” she gasps. She saw the reminder and everything.

Hades furrows his brow. “Uh. Yeah, I know, I told you it was—”

“I’m sorry,” Persephone says gently, looking up at Hades from behind her desk. All he has to do is smile again to make her heart thrum in her chest. Oh god. 

“Hey, it’s okay,” Hades assures her. Do his eyes have to be that soft when he looks at her? “I was just…worried. That’s all. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Persephone gulps. He was worried about her. This is not helping, not in the slightest. 

She goes to say something else, but is cut off when there’s a knock at her open office door. She looks to see Hermes, charming little smile on his face as he waves at her. Her heart is immediately soothed, just seeing him there. Leave it to Hermes to rescue her. 

“Hi, I hope I’m not interrupting,” Hermes says shyly.  

A quick glance at Hades shows Persephone the way he’s stiffened, the way he’s looking at Hermes, but he doesn’t do anything, not until he speaks up. “No, it’s fine. I’ll leave you be.” 

With that, Hades turns to leave. He has to push his way past Hermes while he comes in, and Persephone hates the way her heart tugs for him. She has to let him leave though. She has to. 

“Hey, what’s up?” Persephone says kindly once Hermes is standing in front of her desk. He looks different somehow. Like he’s spent a little extra time on his amber hair, ironed his suit a little more than usual, even smells like he put on a certain cologne that day. In fact, a few whiffs tells Persephone that it’s the one she likes on him the most. She was there when he bought it, and he only did because she liked it so much. 

“Hi, so, uh,” Hermes says. He seems nervous for something. He’s usually so confident, so suave and sure of himself, at least it’s how he tries to put himself off as. Six foot, one inch tall, broad and strong. Only his closest friends, including Persephone, knew the teddy bear that slumbered underneath, but still. “I was just wondering if you wanted to grab lunch together today? There’s this great place a block away, a lot of vegan and vegetarian options.”

Persephone gives him a little elated smile. Why is he so nervous about asking her to lunch? Of course she’d go with him, there was no reason for her not to. 

“Hermes, of course,” she says sweetly. She giggles a little when Hermes smiles at her, looking only slightly relieved. “Just come get me whenever you’re ready to go, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah! I’ll—yeah. I’ll see you later, okay?” Hermes tells her. He’s gone as fast as he came, a little hop to his stride out of her office. 

Persephone has always thought he’s a little endearing. She adores him, just a bit. 

When lunch finally does roll around, she happily goes when Hermes comes to get her. On their way out of the office though, they catch Hades one more time. Hermes is talking about something, but Persephone catches Hades’ eyes until they’re on the elevator. She can’t tear them away, actually. There’s something about him, and his knuckles are going white around the bottle of water he’s holding. Persephone swallows, and keeps her eyes on him until the elevator doors finally close. 

She forces herself to avert her attention back to Hermes. He was kind enough to invite her to lunch, get her out of the office. The least Persephone could do is pay him some attention. 

Lunch starts innocently enough. Persephone notices the way Hermes keeps stumbling over some words, and the way he’s shaking his leg under the table. But he still seems so happy, still smiling at her and cracking jokes to make her laugh. 

Beyond everything else, Persephone is genuinely having a good time. 

“So you’re telling me,” Persephone is giggling out around a bite of her food before swallowing it down, “that one of the floors in that building is completely empty? Just—nothing?”

“Nothing,” Hermes laughs. “Our theory is that when it was built, one more floor would’ve made it the tallest in downtown. Probably some dick measuring contest, and they never found a use for it.”

Persephone snorts, giggling wildly at Hermes. He beams again, like he always does. The crinkles that form by his eyes are actually a little cute. 

“Stop! Don’t say that, oh my god. Don’t ever say that again,” Persephone snickers. She smiles at Hermes, just lets him laugh it off. Watching him, she can’t help but wonder how Hermes has stayed single for this long. He’s incredibly handsome, makes her laugh so effortlessly, and he’s the sweetest guy she’s ever met. Yet, he’s never really had anyone on his arm. Persephone doesn’t even know if he’s really been on a date in the past few years, let alone in college. 

When they’re both down from their laughing fit, they’re just left staring at one another, fondness in their eyes. Persephone goes bashful under Hermes’ gaze, and looks down at her food, tucking a few curls behind her ear. 

“Hey,” Hermes says, voice gentle as ever. It’s quivering, just a little though. “Perse, can I—can I ask you something?”

Persephone looks up with a small smile. She nods her head. 

Hermes takes a deep breath. His demeanor takes a harsh flip, and he looks like he’s about to—about to—

“Okay,” he starts, fiddling with his thumbs. “So. I’ve been thinking for a while, okay not a while, that makes me sound weird. But I’ve been thinking for some time, I just—”

Persephone can feel her heart pick up again. It’s not like before. She feels like she can see what’s coming from a mile away. The lump in her throat begins to grow again. 

“I was just wondering…I was thinking maybe, I don’t know…maybe we can go out sometime? Not like this—like, you know, like a—like a date?”

Persephone’s breath catches in her throat. Oh god. Oh god.

“You can say no by the way! I just—don’t feel like you have to say yes, please. I just thought it was worth asking. I just—yeah.”

A thousand things at once run through Persephone’s mind. The first is, tragically enough, Hades. More specifically, Hades and Minthe, and the thought of why shouldn’t she say yes? Maybe—just maybe—the key to gradually losing feelings for her engaged boss is gradually gaining them for someone who isn’t even a bad guy. Everything she feels for Hades is felt in vain, and Persephone knew that the second he walked into his office her first day, and even more so when Minthe did. Giving Hermes a chance didn’t seem like a bad idea. Genuinely, it’s not like she hasn’t thought of it before, but in that moment, she can’t say what she feels for Hermes is more than platonic. 

So the second thing she thinks of is how it might not be fair, to either of them. What if it didn’t work out the way she hoped? What if things went wrong, terribly wrong? 

The nine hundred and ninety-eight other things are muddled amongst each other. Persephone feels like she can’t breathe. But Hermes is sitting there, smiling at her so fondly, so nervous, and so dang hopeful. 

Persephone can’t think straight. 

 

 

Fucking broken copy machine. A multi-billion dollar company and they couldn’t get a copy machine that didn’t break every other month. Minthe left early, because of course she did, and Thetis made plans with her, so there was no way she could say no. 

So, of course, Hades is left to go down one floor to the copy room there. He didn’t feel the need to bother Hecate with it, and he could use the time out of his own office anyways. He’s busy going over his papers one last time, counting numbers and doing math, making his way there on the 98th floor. 

He’s almost there, almost about to round the corner into the door of the copy room, when he hears an all too familiar voice come from inside. 

“Than, I can’t believe it.” It’s Hermes, and he hears the tell-tale snicker of his most snide employee. Hermes sounds more than ecstatic. Hades knows he probably shouldn’t eavesdrop, but it doesn’t stop him anyways. 

“Dude, you’ve got to calm down,” Thanatos is chuckling. “She—what was her name again? Percy?” 

Persephone,” Hermes huffs. Hades immediately stands on edge, a tingle running up his spine. 

“Okay, yeah, yeah. Persephone, whatever. Persephone is probably going to think you’re a fucking weirdo if you keep acting like this. Chill out. Be yourself. Maybe then you’ll get your dick wet.”

Hades tries not to choke. His heart begins to hammer in his chest. That same feeling from before starts to bubble within him, and the papers in his hands are quickly getting crumbled in his grasp. 

“Dude! No, Jesus, it’s nothing like that! I’ve known her for years, and I just—I don’t want to blow this. I didn’t even think she’d say yes to a date, but—you know. A friend told me I should just go for it, so I did. I’m taking her out tomorrow night. I’m just—really happy.” 

Hades hears Thanatos laugh, says something to wish Hermes luck, but it all becomes a blur after that. What the fuck is that heavy feeling in his chest? Why can’t he breathe correctly? Why is he stumbling as he makes his way back towards the elevator?

He shouldn’t give a shit. Persephone is an adult whom he is not allowed to have any ties with besides their very much so professional relationship. But that doesn’t stop the jealousy from coursing through his veins, the way his throat closes in on itself, the way he tries not to think of all the things he could do as their boss to stop this from happening. 

It’s pathetic. He feels so pathetic. 

Still, there’s a numbing ache in his chest as he finally gets back to his office. He lets the papers fall to the floor from his hands so he can run them through his hair. He manages to even catch his breath. 

Hades has to reel himself in. He doesn’t have the right to feel this way.

He walks to his desk to lean over and grip the edges. One week, one goddamn week, and this is how it’s left him? A weepy, pathetic mess, longing for a girl he couldn’t have, let alone want.

This is bad. Really, really bad. 

Chapter Text

Hades keeps a bottle of scotch in his office at all times for days like these. 

The last time he felt genuine jealousy, that heated, angry, heavy weight in his chest, was in college. The first girl he ever really, truly loved was swooped up by someone else, and what made it even worse was that it was by someone he trusted. To say that it hurt like hell didn’t really do it justice but, Hades got over it. Yes, it took time and probably far too many games of beer pong, and many puffs of overpriced cigars, but he did eventually get over it.

As he sips on his drink now, he wonders if he’ll get over this too. This was just simple infatuation he was talking about, right? Strong attraction that lingered from the residue of what he first felt when he was drunk, sad, and lonely. He is engaged. Hades knows he can’t keep moping over what could’ve been in an art gallery bathroom. Still, he feels it in there, deep in his chest, gnawing away at him. 

He ends up staying well after work. He knows mostly everyone is gone, but he doesn’t expect the knock on his office door, or to see Hecate poke her head in with a surprisingly friendly smile. 

“Uh oh,” she says jokingly, stepping inside, gently closing the door behind her. “The scotch is out,” She says with a raised brow, dark eyes seemingly peering into his very soul. “What happened to not getting drunk on the clock?”

“Not on the clock,” Hades mumbles around the lip of his glass, then takes another swig. 

Hecate takes one last once over of him before she relents with a shrug. She can’t argue with that. Pulling up a chair, she sits on the other side of Hades’ desk and looks at him curiously, setting down the file folder she walked in with. “You don’t look too hot, Hades,” she comments. 

Hades gives her a blank expression, eyeing her pointedly. 

“What are you still doing here?” is all that Hades responds with. 

“I was actually waiting for you,” Hecate huffs. She reaches for his bottle of scotch, and goes to grab a spare glass from the wet bar in his office before returning to her seat. She pours it for herself, and takes a sip. “I just didn’t think you’d be in here doing this. Now are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

Hades sighs. Damn Hecate, and damn her for being the one person in his life that he can’t keep things from. 

“Long story short,” he starts simply enough, “you don’t have to worry about me misbehaving anymore. We have two lovebirds in the office now, and it’s not me and Minthe.” 

“Was it ever?” Hecate mutters into her glass, and can’t help but snicker when Hades glares daggers at her. “Sorry. Uncalled for. But what do you mean?”

Downing his drink, Hades looks at his desk. He catches a glimpse of the photo of Minthe, and suddenly he doesn’t feel so well. How the hell did he get here? 

“Just know that you don’t have to worry about me and Persephone any longer, okay? That fire’s been pissed on.” 

At that, surprisingly, Hecate frowns. She sets down her glass and gives Hades a genuine look of sympathy. She always does this, always seems like she knows every god damn thing before anyone else does.

“Hades, I was never worried,” she tells him. Hades gives her a look. “Okay, I was. But Hades—I don’t know what’s going on in your head right now, and I don’t know if I want to know. I understand that whatever happened between you and her might’ve been a lot, and dealing with it all after the fact must’ve been even worse. But I talked to her a lot last week, and she told me a lot about herself. And, as someone who knows where she’s coming from, I don’t think she’d ever do anything to jeopardize this job.”

Hecate sighs, seeing the sullen look on Hades’ face after all she’s said so far, but she pushes on anyways. “So, unless you ever made the first—second move—which I don’t advise, given your whole…situation, but I can’t really control you—then I don’t think she ever would either, despite whatever attraction you two may have for one another,” she says, then slowly, she slides the file folder across the table to Hades. The sympathetic look on her face grows. “However, I don’t think it’s not worth trying to be her friend. And I really hate to put you in this situation right now, but I would’ve done this anyways had you two never—you know.”

Hades then looks at her, brow furrowed. He sits up straight and pulls the file folder closer to himself. 

“Hecate…” he says cautiously. 

“I told you I talked to her a lot last week,” Hecate says, voice timid. “This has been months in the making. We need to start executing this now, and I think—I think Persephone is the perfect candidate to help you with it. She knows about these things. If she was never hired, I think this would be on the shelf for another couple of months.” 

Hades racks his mind for any clue of what Hecate could be talking about. His heart picks up a bit of speed, the anxiety settling within him. He opens the file folder, and his heart sinks. 

Months back, someone on the board suggested they begin an outreach program. His company had the money and the power to help poorer neighborhoods, build community centers where people could come and tinker with technology, learn to code, or just have a place to use things they otherwise wouldn’t have. They even planned on donating to libraries, schools, wherever they could. Hades had almost forgotten all about it, and forgotten about agreeing to look into it and start planning. 

The plan was for him, and someone to scout neighborhoods, do research, strategize and see where the best places to go first would be. The more the CEO was involved, the better. But they wanted someone else who was knowledgeable, someone who could relate to the neighborhoods they were going to, someone that wouldn’t be seen as just another baron looking to do some charity work. Someone that cared. As far as Hades knew, there wasn’t a good candidate at the company. 

Not until now, apparently. 

“Hecate,” Hades says, voice stern, only a hint of anxiety within it. 

“She’s good for this, Hades. I can’t even say that for myself,” Hecate tells him. “Please. We’ve got to do this. Not even because it’ll look good for the company, but because this is important to me.” 

Hecate’s eyes are pleading. Hades hates the effect she has on him, but he can’t not do this for her. She never asks for much. The decisions she makes are always for the good of the company, and she never strays him in the wrong direction. Hades sighs. 

“When do we start?” he finally asks, completely exasperated. 

A pause. Hecate takes in a breath.

“Tomorrow.”

Fuck. 

 

 

The entirety of the next morning is spent waiting anxiously for Persephone to show up to work. Hades knew Hecate had emailed her, apologizing for giving her such an important task so early on in her time with the company, but that it would be an honor to have someone like her spearheading it with Hades. 

Hades lets himself into her office, and soaks it all in. The smell of flowers is still there. She has a vase with fresh ones in them now. Pink orchids. 

Persephone keeps things so neat, so organized. She’s already taken it among herself to set up file cabinets and label them. He doesn’t even have this set up in his own office. Why did everything about her have to be so damn perfect? 

“Oh!” 

Hades turns towards the door to see Persephone in the doorway, surprised to see him in there. Hades can’t help but drink in the sight of her. He hasn’t had the chance to do this in a couple of days, and he feels like a dying man getting his first taste of water in days. She’s wearing a short sleeved white blouse with pink fucking peonies, tucked into the form fitted rosy pencil skirt which is—is immaculate on her. Everything looks so damn good on her, but this has got to be Hades’ favorite so far. For obvious reasons. 

Hades has to reel himself back in, seeing as he can’t just stand there and stare at her for hours. Even if he’d like to. 

“Uh. Hello,” he finally chokes out. Seeing the way Persephone smiles at him sends his mind for a small whirl. 

“Good morning,” Persephone says in return.

“Did you—Hecate—email—” Oh Jesus fucking Christ. Hades can’t forget how to speak, not now. He’s supposed to be bitter, and jealous, and pouting like a child right now, but one look at her sweeps everything away. Damn her

Persephone, though, giggles at Hades. Just how she always does. “Sorry, yes,” she says, then looks down to fiddle with a button on her shirt, “I got Hecate’s email. I have to say, I was very surprised. But I’m…I’m more than happy to help. I didn’t think companies like this even did stuff like that.”

Hades manages a slight smile. “Well, we’re not just any company. And I’m not just any CEO.”

Persephone smiles, so sweet and kind at him. 

“That I already knew.”

Damn. Her. 

“Hecate mentioned scouting. Are we—are we doing that today?”

Shoving his hands in his pockets, Hades nods his head. “That’s the first step, yes. At least for us. The first step of research has already been done for us, we just have to get the ball rolling.”

“Oh. Alright then,” Persephone says. They just stand there for a moment. Neither of them know quite what to do, not until Persephone clears her throat and gestures out the door. “So should we—now? Or later?”

“Right! Sorry, now, definitely now.”

For a moment, the two of them share a laugh. Hades realizes then that this might be what Hecate was talking about, that it’s still worth trying to be her friend. Jealousy, attraction, and want aside, it felt so, so nice to just be around Persephone. Maybe it’s worth it. Maybe, sooner or later, Hades would get over it. With the whole Hermes situation, he figures he’d have to. 

The two of them make their way down to the underground car park, and Hades leads her to one of the many cars he has that are just his work cars. When she sees how many spots are reserved just for him, Persephone chokes a little. 

“Okay, what?” she sputters. She looks at him, completely bewildered. She shouldn’t be so cute to him right now. 

“What?” Hades laughs, putting on a pair of his sunglasses with a smug grin on his face. “I like options.”

“You don’t think this is wasteful? I mean, think of the planet!” 

Hades snickers, unlocking the car that he grabbed the keys for with a loud, echoing beep beep. Definitely not one of the more expensive ones, but Persephone still approaches it like it might bite her. 

“Hey,” he says, “it’s not like I’m driving all of them at the same time.”

Persephone goes to rebut, but quickly stops herself with a small pout. Hades smirks at her, even has the audacity to shoot her a finger gun with a click of his mouth before he goes to the driver side door and climbs in. 

When Persephone is in, she’s stiff as a board, and she definitely looks like she’s afraid to touch anything inside the car. Hades has to stifle his laughter. 

“You’re allowed to breathe in here, sweetheart,” Hades tells her. The pet name just sort of slips out, and he nearly regrets it. It was funny the last time he used it at the bar, but this time it edges the border of playful and real, and he almost wants to take it back. But the way she loosens up a little, and how he sees the corners of her lips twitch, he can’t really. 

He starts the car and it hums to life, inputting the city they’d be going to into his GPS system before they’re on their way. Thanks to the oh-so-predictable traffic flows of LA, it’ll take some time, meaning that Hades has to prepare himself for the car ride ahead. This is fine! Really! It’s just him and the woman he was having very conflicting feelings towards.

Hecate owes him a drink. 

Sooo,” Hades draws out, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. They’ve only made it about five minutes away from the office before they hit their first bout of traffic, not even on the freeway yet. 

“Sooo…” Persephone mimics. She shoots him a small, yet sly smile. He can’t help but return it. 

“Um. Do you have any plans tonight?” 

What? Hades knows damn well what the answer to that idiotic question in. His filter wasn’t quite working, and he assumes that maybe his psyche needed to hear it from her, face to face. 

Of course, he notices right away when Persephone puts on a shy smile, looking down at her lap. She starts the fiddle with her fingers, the way he always does when he’s nervous too. He swallows thickly. 

“Yes, actually,” she says. “I have a date.” 

There it is. Once more, the pang he’s growing too familiar with hits Hades’ chest. She doesn’t know that he already knew, so he tries his best to act a little nonchalant about it, pleasantly surprised, and even a bit happy for her. She doesn't have to see the truth that his eyes hold behind his sunglasses. 

“Oh, uh, nice,” is all that Hades really offers though. He’s always had a really horrible tell. 

Once they’re on the freeway, finally, they can’t do much but sit back and enjoy the sea of cars before them. At least Persephone seems a bit more relaxed, finally able to sink into her seat a little bit more. 

“So, uh,” Hades says after a few moments, “I know Hecate told me she was able to talk to you a lot last week. Just, you know, about you. I feel like this was all part of her master plan.” Hades manages a small snicker. 

Persephone huffs, pouting. “I’d like to think she actually wanted to become my friend.” 

“Okay, that may be true,” Hades says. “She doesn’t take a liking to many people so quick.”

See,” Persephone says, giggling a little as she looks at Hades. He shares her laugh, only briefly glancing back at her to return the smile she’s giving him. 

“Anyways,” he chuckles, “I was just—I’m not sure. We were looking for a very specific type of person for this when it was first put on the table. I didn’t think—I didn’t think you’d fit the role.” 

“Well, it’s not my fault you never finished getting to know me,” Persephone tells him. “Now I really may have to quit. You’re making the company look terrible, and I have to say, sixty percent scoundrel.”

Hades lets out a burst of laughter that she immediately takes part in. The sound of it is literally music to his ears, and he hates the warm feeling it brings him. Or, at least he keeps telling himself he hates it. He keeps telling himself he hates everything that Persephone does to him. But, at this point, he’s not so sure.

“Well—I don’t want to come off as rude—”

“Try me.” 

Hades takes the moment they’re stalled in traffic to look at Persephone. She’s smirking, just a little, and squinting her eyes at him. He sighs at her. 

“I was just… curious. You said you went to Stanford,” Hades finally says, eyes back on the road. “So, you can imagine my confusion—”

One more glance at Persephone shows that her face is a bit unreadable. She doesn’t look offended, but not too amused either, just staring at him for a few moments.

“Oh my god,” she says, finally. “Hades, underprivileged people can go to your big fancy schools!” 

Suddenly, she’s laughing again, but Hades’ face is heating up faster than black pavement in Arizona sun. He sputters a little, trying to respond. “No! I mean—that’s not what I—it, ugh.”

Persephone stifles her giggles long enough just to speak. “Hades,” she says, “it’s fine. It just took…a lot of late nights, recommendation letters, and scholarship essays. Maybe a few drug deals.”

What?!”

“I’m kidding! I’m joking. I promise, I’ve never once bought or distributed drugs.” 

Hades lets out a breath. He shakes his head at her, but his lips twitch into his own small grin. 

“I suppose it helps that Stanford liked me enough to pay for most of my tuition. But I still don’t think I’d have been able to go on just that alone. School is…expensive.”

Hades hates that he can’t really say I know. Of course, he knows how high tuition rates can be, especially at schools like those and the Ivy League that he went to, but he doesn’t really know. Because of who he is, he got full rides to most of the schools he applied to. Why, he’s not so sure, because he didn't need them (maybe it was the buildings that his father “donated”). But even if he hadn’t, his schooling would’ve been paid for anyways. He could’ve gone anywhere he wanted to. Cronus made sure he didn’t really have a choice though, not like Poseidon and Zeus did. He was grateful they chose Harvard, just like him when it was their turn, so he didn’t have to spend his last two years alone, but still. 

“You should be proud of yourself then,” Hades tells Persephone, in opt of any agreement or something that would make him sound like he’s trying to relate with her. Because he can’t. 

Persephone’s shoulders fall a little bit though. She looks back down, and her smile slowly fades away. Hades barely hears her sigh. “Yeah,” she says. “I should be.”

The twinge of sorrow in her voice is enough to make Hades’ chest feel a little heavy, in the bad way. Leave it to him to bring up a touchy subject, Jesus Christ. He tries to clear his throat after a few moments. 

“I won’t ask anymore questions, and you don’t have to tell me anything else unless you want to,” Hades tells her. “But just know that I trust Hecate’s opinion, and if she thinks you’re good for this, then I really am glad it was you.”

This manages to put a small smile back on Persephone’s face. She doesn’t say anything, but if Hades is reading it correctly, she looks a bit grateful. 

Surprisingly, traffic begins to clear up slightly. Enough for them to actually be moving. Hades tries to change the subject, to different things about work, about movies, music, anything. At some point, Persephone is full on cackling at Hades while he’s left pouting in the driver’s seat. 

“You are such a Yankee!” 

“Hey! People from all around the world are allowed to listen to and enjoy Frank Sinatra’s timeless classics!” Hades huffs, absolutely sulking like a child as Persephone continues to giggle and mock him. 

“Okay, but that doesn’t make it any better when you do it,” Persephone says. She grins wide as all hell at him, and it’s so damn contagious, Hades can’t help it

They go silent for a few more minutes, just enjoying each other’s presence, before something else dawns over Hades. 

“Okay, I know I said I wouldn’t ask anymore questions,” Hades says afterwards, “but I have one more.”

Persephone side eyes Hades, but doesn’t protest, so Hades takes it as an invitation to continue. 

“I was just wondering, why do you introduce yourself as Persephone and not...Kore?” 

For a few beats, Persephone doesn’t answer. She actually looks like she’s sent into deep thought just by being asked. Hades is about to feel guilty, about to say forget it and move on, because the last thing he wants to do is make her uncomfortable. 

But then—

“I don’t really have a particular reason,” she says softly. “Kore is the name my mother gave me, and Persephone is the name my father chose. Kore used to make me feel just…a little sad.”

Hades’ heart crack a little bit, just because Persephone is being so sincere. Her voice is so gentle, and so small. 

“I think for a while, I just didn’t want to be reminded of certain things,” Persephone continues. “But don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. Now I don’t even mind Kore. I think I sort of—reclaimed it, maybe? Towards the end of college. I wasn’t far from home but being away for so long, and growing up, really helped me put things in perspective. I’ve learned to appreciate both, which is why I don’t mind being called Kore anymore. I think I just got used to Persephone.”

Hades smiles. His heart strings are being thoroughly pulled at, but just learning this about Persephone, Kore, is making him feel like she…trusts him. He hopes that explains the goosebumps under his sleeves. 

“I think they’re both beautiful names, if that’s any important testament,” he tells her. Persephone lets out a quiet laugh. 

“Thank you.”

Hades gives himself a few moments to gather himself, find the courage for what he wants to say next. When he does, he swallows thickly. 

Technically,” he says slowly, “Hades isn’t my real name.”

A look of surprise dawns over Persephone’s face, her eyes wide, doe-like, and stunning all over again. 

“Well, it is,” Hades adds, “but just another middle name situation. I did, however, legally change my first to Hades when I turned eighteen.” 

“Really?” Persephone asks, genuinely curious. 

“Yeah,” Hades says. He can’t quite put a finger on why he’s telling her this, when most people he meets won’t ever find out in their lifetimes, at least not from him. Even Minthe only knew after meeting his father, and hearing him use it. If people want to go digging into his past, so be it. But he feels—feels an odd sense of safety in Persephone. He thinks maybe he trusts her too. “Aidoneus was the name my—my father gave me. I think for the same reasons as you, I just hated to hear it in reference to me. So, when I turned eighteen, the first things I did were change my name and buy my first legal pack of cigarettes.” 

Hades doesn’t mention how livid his father was when he found out, how he never heard the end of it, and how Cronus refused to call him the name Rhea gave him. Not a single time, until the day he passed. Hades has to push down the forming lump in his throat. 

The look on Persephone’s face is one of pure focus, and slight amazement, like she’s never heard something so fascinating before. But again, her eyes seem so sincere. 

“Aidoneus,” she says quietly. 

Despite the chill sent up his spine, Hades can’t help but love the way the name rolls off her tongue. He hasn’t heard it in a long while now, and the only time he had was when it was said with spite and malice behind it, but she caresses the name. She says it tenderly, with extra care and love. The way his mother used to say it. He’s forgotten that some people know how to cradle a name. 

“I think both names are lovely,” Persephone tells him. She offers a genuine smile to him, and he gladly accepts it, returning his own briefly before keeping his eyes on the road. “But I will continue to call you Hades if that’s your legal name, and what you want.”

Hades shivers. She’d been on her Mr. Olympus train again, so he missed the way she said his name. He hums at her. 

“I don’t know,” he says, “I think your valiant spirit being able to reclaim a name is emboldening. Besides, I like the way you say it.” 

Hades doesn’t miss the way Persephone goes bashful again. Keeping his attention on driving is hard when she looks like that. However, he sees that they’re approaching their destination on the GPS. 

After a few moments, Persephone looks up, as if she’s about to say something else. But, she doesn’t. Instead she looks out her window, a small gasp leaving her lips. They’re well off the freeway now. They’re not far from work, still very much so within the county. Traffic just made it seem so.  Overhead, Hades can hear the sounds of planes, loud and clear. They’re in the surrounding cities near the airport. For a moment, Hades thinks she’s looking at the low flying planes that are preparing to land. 

“I—what?” Hades inquires. She doesn’t respond though, not for a few long seconds. When she does, she looks back and her face is unreadable yet again. Hades furrows his brows at her. 

“Hades,” she breathes out, “this is my—this is my neighborhood. I grew up here.” 

Chapter Text

Hades looks around at the city streets they’re driving on. Just so he doesn’t crash the damn car, he pulls off to the side of the road, parked next to some liquor store with a few questionable characters sitting out front. 

“What?” Hades finally says, because he genuinely didn’t expect that. He promised he wouldn’t pry any further, but exactly how much and what did Persephone and Hecate talk about to garner her enough credibility to do this job? Hades is starting to put the pieces together. 

The sidewalks of the city they’re in are run down, speckled with black pieces of old gum, the edges of the curbs chipped away. The streets are no better, bumpy and littered with potholes (and actual litter). Hades hasn’t opened his door, but he can smell the sewage without doing so. Various shops and family businesses line the streets, dry cleaners, laundromats, shady dentist offices, and everything in between. 

“My mom lives around the corner,” Persephone breathes out. She looks like she’s about to have a panic, her eyes no longer soft and sincere, but full of dread.  

You grew up here?” 

“Don’t start, not now,” Persephone huffs. She opens her door to get out of the car. Hades almost instinctively pulls her back, but the “questionable men” outside the liquor store immediately know her by name, as soon as they see her face.  

They’re saying hello when Hades finally chalks up the courage to step out, making sure his car is locked as soon as he is. Persephone is actually interacting with them, saying hello, apologizing for not being around in so long, and no, the fancy car is not hers. Hades hears one of the men say, “Your mama misses you. Spare her a visit, child.” 

Persephone seems to tense a little bit, but she offers them kind smiles and says she’ll try before giving her goodbyes. She goes to grab Hades’ arm and pull him away. The men continue to talk amongst themselves, laughing and smiling. Maybe they’re not so questionable after all. 

Hades has to walk fast to keep up with Persephone, being dragged to round a corner where a neighborhood runs down a narrow street. It’s lined with a mixture of small houses and bigger ones that were converted into apartment complexes. They’re all so packed together, and Hades knows this is the Southern California standard, but just looking at it all still makes him a bit claustrophobic. 

“I can’t believe this is where Hecate sent us,” Persephone grumbles, finally slowing down now that they’re off the main street. 

“Did you tell her this is where you’re from?” Hades questions. 

No,” Persephone says. “That’s why I’m just—I’m baffled!” 

Hades soaks in a little bit more of the neighborhood. On the streets, there are a few children running around, playing with bikes and wagons. Hades is certain they should be in school, but he’s not their parents. A wave of surprise washes over him though when one of the older children runs over to them with what he assumes to be a sibling in tow. Hades stiffens, but they go to Persephone instead, and she instantly looks down and gasps.  

“Hi, Kore!” the older child says happily. He can’t be older than seven or eight, and the child with them in a wagon is probably about three or four.  

“Oh my god, look at you,” Persephone coos , squatting down to get closer to the child. She pulls him in for a hug, and Hades watches in pure wonder. His heart is beginning to race for a completely different reason than ever before. “You’ve gotten so big!”

Hades watches Persephone turn to the wagon-child, squeeze her cheeks to make her giggle happily as Persephone says hello. She’s so good with these kids, and Hades can tell right away. The way they look at her with stars in their eyes makes him melt. 

“Kore, we missed you,” the older one tells her, an exaggerated pout on her face. Persephone chuckles and runs her thumb over the boys cheek, just to get a bit of mud off of it. “Mama misses you too.” 

“I know,” Persephone seems to sigh. 

Then, the child peers up at him, and immediately seems wary, eyeing him with clear caution. Hades has to put on an awkward smile, and the child leans closer to Persephone. He tries to whisper, but does the best a child can.  

“Who is he?” 

Persephone giggles as she looks back at Hades and smiles. 

“A friend,” Persephone whispers back, but still obviously loud enough for Hades to hear. A friend. Hades really likes the sound of that. 

The kid seems to get quiet, but Hades sees him move closer to her ear, covering his mouth as he tries to whisper again. He’s definitely quieter this time, but Hades can still barely make out the mutter of, “Mama says to stay away from men like him.” 

Hades is almost certain he knows what he means. His gut tells him to take a step back, so he does, gulping as he tries not to be so invasive. To be honest, his heart sort of crumbles a little. He knows what the kid means, but he’s not like that, is he? He knows what men like him are, because they’re men like his father. But he’s fought his entire life to not be like him. Did he fail anyways, and can this kid tell just by looking at him?

“It’s okay,” Persephone says then, pulling Hades out of his thoughts. “He’s good, I promise you.” 

The tension leaves Hades’ shoulders at this. The ache in his heart sort of fades away, just by hearing that. Of course she’s going to be so sweet about it. Even after everything, after he almost looped her into his shitty relationship issues, she thinks he’s good. The feeling in his chest begins to expand. 

The kid seems to trust Persephone enough to give him a small, shy wave. Hades smile wavers a little, but remains as he returns the greeting. 

In the distance, the other few children are calling their friend back over. The older child explains to Persephone that he has to go, but she should really come over, pretty please! If not that day, then soon.

“I’ll try, okay?” Persephone promises. With one last hug, they part ways, and the boy runs back over to his friends, pulling the wagon with the little girl behind him. 

Standing back up, Persephone looks at Hades with a sheepish smile. “Sorry,” she says gently. “His mom works an…odd schedule, so sometimes he has to stay home with his sister. I helped deliver him when I was sixteen. It was one of the first my mother let me help with.”

Hades looks at Persephone, a bit perplexed. “Is your mother a nurse?” 

Persephone shakes her head, and starts to walk again. He follows her. 

“No, she’s a part-time midwife,” Persephone explains. “A lot of the women around here either don’t trust medical facilities or they can’t afford them. My mother helps with home-births and aftercare.”

“Oh.” Hades is genuinely surprised. He didn’t think he’d be learning so much about Persephone today, but he’s really not complaining. In all honesty, it’s just a lot to take in.  

“This is really shocking for me too, trust me,” Persephone says, as if she was reading his mind. She sounds a little exasperated. 

“I just—I just didn’t know,” Hades tells her. 

Sighing, Persephone glances up at Hades. “I didn’t expect you to. And, to tell the truth, I didn’t plan on explaining it to you any time soon.” 

Hades sort of gets it. There’s a lot that he’d like to hide, and overall forget, about where he comes from. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t get that chance most of the time, because so much of his life is out there for the world to see. It’s why he tends to stay away from the spotlight, unlike his brothers. He doesn’t do tabloid interviews, photo shoots for magazines, or flaunt his status like many people would. He sticks to himself, and he runs his company in peace, for the most part. 

But Persephone seems a bit different, and he is trying very hard to understand why. He can’t relate, can’t know exactly where she’s coming from, but he watches her look around her neighborhood with an indescribable look of melancholy in her eyes. Maybe this is what she meant. Stanford isn’t too far from home for her, yes, but maybe it was just far enough. 

Even though they’re supposed to be scouting, they walk in silence for a few minutes. Hades gives Persephone the time she needs to recollect. If he ever went back to New York, to the estate where he spent the first decade of his life, he thinks he’d feel the same way. He technically still owns it, but it just sits there, empty and forgotten. 

“Hades,” Persephone finally says after a few long minutes. She looks up at him with gentle eyes, the melancholy having faded away, but only slightly. “Is it—is it okay if I say hello to my mother?” 

Hades’ heart drops a little. She shouldn’t have to ask. He knows they’re on the job right now, but he’s the fucking boss, who is going to reprimand him for it. 

“I know we have work to do, but I—”

“Persephone, stop,” he interjects sternly. “Of course. You didn’t have to ask.” 

A grateful smile falls upon her lips. Normally, Hades would pay extra close attention to the plumpness of them, how sweet and enticing they look. But there is no want, no lust behind the way he looks at her. His heart pulls for a completely different reasons now.

Persephone leads the way to a small and very old house. The porch looks run down from years of wear, and the paint on the screen door is chipped away, leaving the color of rusted metal peeking out at different spots. The house could definitely use a paint job, but there is one particular thing that makes it feel so inviting, so warm. 

Surrounding the house is a garden, flowers upon flowers wherever they could be. They adorn the home, looking freshly tended to, and they’re in such an organized manner. The house needs to be taken care of, of course, but a pair of tender hands most certainly lives there. 

Hades watches Persephone take a deep breath at the gate, before finally pushing her way in. She walks up to the porch, and makes the few steps up to the door. Hades stays at the bottom of the stairs. Admittedly, he’s quite nervous. He won’t show it though. 

Tentatively opening the screen door, Persephone knocks on the wooden one. There’s a doorbell that Hades assumes to be broken. 

It takes a few moments to hear anything. But, Persephone seems to know the drill. As soon as there’s shuffling heard from inside, she straightens herself out just in time for the door to finally open. 

The woman who opens it is small, just like Persephone, but still taller than her. (Maybe everyone is small to Hades. At six foot, six inches, it makes sense.) She’s got a round face of the same complexion, if not just a bit lighter, just like her too. She looks tired, but still has an undeniable warmth in her eyes as they seem to light up at the sight of Persephone. 

“Mija…” the woman breathes out, in slight shock.

Hades can’t see Persephone’s face from behind her, but can hear the watery smile in her voice when she goes, “Hi, mama.” 

Instantly, they’re in each other’s arms, hugging each other tight like they haven’t done so in a long while. They take a few moments to separate, but when they do, Persephone’s mother is quick to invite her in, already pulling her inside. Hades is left a little dumbfounded, until Persephone takes a quick moment to turn back and beckon him in. Then, she’s pulled all the way inside. 

Hades is timid, but he does so anyways. He steps inside the home and is immediately engulfed in such warmth, a homey feeling he hasn’t felt in so long. It’s really not much. It’s small, and each room seems to lead right into another with no hallways, just walls separating where necessary. There are cute little decorations everywhere, little angel statues, flowers, and photos that make the small home feel even smaller. Still, everything is so organized, so well put together. 

“Kore,” her mother is crooning, petting over Persephone’s face in the living room while Hades closes and locks both doors. “Look at you, what are you wearing? These fancy clothes, for what?” 

It isn’t until Hades clears his throat do either of them look his way. Persephone’s mother probably didn’t even notice he was there until then, but when she does, her eyes immediately narrow. She looks at him the same way that child from before did, with nothing but caution. 

“Amá,” Persephone says carefully, stepping away to gesture to him. “This is Hades Olympus. He’s my boss from work. Hades, this is my mother, Demeter.” 

Her mother, Demeter, still just stares at him, clearly taking heed. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Eleusinia,” Hades croaks out. Okay, maybe he’s showing that he’s nervous just a tad bit. He doesn’t even remember it being this bad when he met Minthe’s parents. Then again, he’s meeting the mother of the woman he almost hooked up with in a bathroom of all places. Maybe he has the right to be this nervous. 

Demeter, however, just hums and nods her head at him. She quickly turns her attention back to Persephone, smiling sweetly at her, a complete one-eighty in her expression. 

“Mija, I missed you so much. You don’t visit enough,” she tells her, a bit of sadness in her voice. 

“Ma, I know, I know,” Persephone sighs. She sounds a little guilty, if Hades hears correctly. “We’re here for work. I wanted to come say hi.” 

“A new job?” Demeter inquires, a slight frown on her lips now. Had she not known? “I thought you’d indulge me for a while, come home and help me for a bit. A woman down the street is pregnant with her first child.” 

“I want to start my career, mama,” Persephone explains. Hades doesn’t think he’s ever heard her use a voice so soft. 

“She’s doing a great job with us, by the way,” Hades finds himself saying. The way Demeter looks at him tells him maybe he shouldn’t have. Persephone only offers him a smile that says Thank you, but don’t, not now. 

Demeter, once again, doesn’t say a word in response. Instead, she pulls Persephone again, into the kitchen where a lovely smell is coming from. “Come then,” she says, leaving Persephone at the dining table while she goes to the stove. “Both of you, siéntate, stay for lunch. If you’re going to keep my daughter, let me have her for now.” 

Hades is pleasantly surprised by her invitation. Of course he doesn’t know how to say I’m not keeping your daughter, so he doesn’t. He listens though, doesn’t want to seem rude at all, so he sits next to Persephone when she does. 

Him and Persephone share a look. She looks sort of apologetic, but by the smell of whatever is cooking, Hades can’t bring himself to care.  

“Let me help you, mama,” Persephone says then, and gets up to leave Hades at the table. She walks over to the stove with Demeter, where Demeter is tending to a blue pot with white specks. 

Demeter immediately starts speaking to Persephone, voice hushed. Hades can hear, but he can’t make out what she’s saying at all. It takes him a minute to realize that she’s speaking Spanish. His high school Spanish teacher would be disappointed that he can’t make out most of the words, only catches a few here and there. But Persephone is holding a full conversation with her, and Hades had no idea that she was fluent in Spanish. 

The only other language he knows fluently is Greek, thanks to his father and the pain it was to learn, but still. He’s thoroughly impressed with Persephone. He has to ignore that he may like the way she sounds a little too much, the way she rolls her R’s and the accent she puts on that he’s never heard before. He gets sort of lost in it, and almost misses the glances they keep giving him, or the way Demeter says the word gringo a little louder than the rest of her words. Hades pouts, his memory kicking hard to try and remember what that word meant. It doesn’t come back to him, so he’ll have to ask Persephone when he gets the chance. 

Amá,” Persephone hisses after Demeter says it though, but there’s a bit of amusement in her voice. Demeter is laughing a bit too, and she offers a Perdón before she stirs the pot once more. 

Hades watches Persephone and her mother move around the kitchen together. After seeming so tense, and a little downtrodden, Persephone seems to have loosened up. She looks like she belongs here, with her mother, speaking a familiar tongue and cooking with her. Hades has yet to see her so relaxed. 

At some point, he has an internal freak out when Persephone turns on another burner and places a tortilla on it with her bare hands. She flips it the same way, and Hades sits there with wide, frightened eyes. Despite it, he’s fully prepared to kiss her fingers better if she burns them all. Persephone does it so effortlessly, though, as she heats several more in the same manner. His heart is calling out for her even more, and the feeling has expanded even further ever since they saw those kids outside. 

It’s just that, Hades has never experienced the domesticity before. Minthe doesn’t do this, doesn’t interact with children, doesn’t cook for him, doesn’t take him home to her mother so he can watch fondly as she settles into her element. He’s not used to this. He’s not used to how nice it feels. 

“Alright!” Persephone says, approaching Hades in the midst of his thoughts with two bowls and a plate of hot tortillas. “I hope you like albondigas.” 

Hades furrows his brow. “Al-bone-di-what?” 

Persephone giggles helplessly as she places a bowl of soup in front of Hades. It smells absolutely delectable. Hades genuinely isn’t used to food that isn’t from expensive restaurants or overpriced organic markets, but whatever it is, smells and looks amazing. 

“Meatball soup,” Demeter interjects as she joins them at the table with her own plate and utensils. “Plant based meat, but it’s just as good.” 

Persephone sits back down next to Hades and offers him a tortilla, smiling gently. He happily takes it, but he has to watch them eat first to even know what to do with it. 

Once he figures it out though, the first bite is legitimate heaven. Again, Hades isn’t used to any of this! He didn’t expect something that didn’t cost a hundred dollars a plate to taste so damn amazing, but God.

On top of it all, it’s not just the soup that spreads warmth through his chest. It’s the way Persephone keeps smiling at him, thankful and happy it seems that he’s even sitting here with her, listening to her and her mother talk and catch up. Hades doesn’t say much throughout the lunch, not unless he’s spoken to. Demeter does say a few things to him, short and curt, but other than that, she just enjoys her daughter’s presence. 

Hades is in the middle of chowing down a soup coated piece of tortilla wrapped potato and rice when Demeter addresses him again, and he looks up with full cheeks in the middle of a chew. He swallows it quickly, smiling sheepishly. “What was that?” 

“Your company,” Demeter says, eyeing him warily. “What is it again?” 

“Oh! Um. Pomegranate Tech.” 

“Mama, he doesn’t want to talk about work,” Persephone says to Demeter, and gives Hades a gentle smile that he eats right up. 

“So you work with technology?” Demeter says, clearly ignoring Persephone’s protest. “My apologies, I’m just awfully curious. I tend to stay away from it all. I garden in my free time, instead of all of that like everyone else. I planted those vegetables in your soup.”

“I can tell,” Hades says. Maybe he can change the topic this way. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk about it, but Persephone is onto something. Demeter already seems on edge with him. Maybe he can get on her good side. “Your front yard is lovely, Mrs. Eleusinia.” 

“Call me Demeter, please. Don’t make me feel so old,” Demeter says. A slight smile pulls at her lips, and Hades loosens up a little with her, nodding his head. 

“Very well, Demeter. But I really do love what you’ve done. You’ve got a really great hand,” Hades compliments. Demeter full on smiles at him for the first time. 

A glance at Persephone tells him that he might just be doing good with her. 

By the time their bowls are empty, and their stomachs full, Hades is completely content. He hasn’t had a meal that good in God knows how long. Probably not since his own mother cooked for him, and that was years ago. 

Demeter makes move to take their dishes away, and when Hades offers to do it himself as thanks, she immediately stops him. “You’re a guest,” she says sternly, and takes them to the sink.  

Hades looks at Persephone and grins a little. 

“So you grew up here?” he asks gently. 

Persephone nods her head. She looks around the dining room, looks as if she’s soaking it all in, and the fact that she’s even back. She lets out a brief sigh. “Until college, yeah.”

“I take it…you don’t come back often.”

Eyeing him carefully, Persephone purses her lips, but she doesn’t say anything. There are a few beats of silence, before Hades sees Persephone glance at his lips. He goes a bit warm under her gaze, even gulps. 

“Oh!” Persephone says shyly. She looks at him, a small blush on her cheeks.  

“What?” Hades says, pouting. 

“It’s just—” Persephone gestures to her face, near her mouth and Hades is confused until it hits him. 

Oh,” Hades says, quickly wiping away at his mouth, trying to see if he could get whatever it was off.  

“No, you’re missing—”

“What about now?” 

“No, it’s—”

“Now?” 

Persephone lets out a huff and leans forward, using her thumb to gently wipe just below his lip. She does it a few times until the dried residue of the soup is finally off. Neither of them noticed how close she leaned in, or the way her thumb lingers on his lip. Hades’ breath hitches as he stares into her eyes, just for a moment too long. 

Neither of them think to pull back until they hear Demeter clear her throat, and Persephone draws her hand back quickly, going the most bashful he’s seen her yet. 

“I have to use the restroom,” Persephone is quick to say, and a moment later she’s gone and out of sight. 

Hades is left to stew in the awkwardness, questioning the smug look on Demeter’s face as she takes the last plate from the table. 

“My daughter likes you,” she says suddenly. “I can tell.”

Hades nearly chokes . His heart pounds in his chest, faster and faster. She’s joking, right?  

“She’s never really taken to authority quite well,” Demeter continues. Hades gulps. “But she seems comfortable around you. I’m glad. Just don’t be too firm with her. I learned that the hard way.” 

Okay. So, she didn’t mean it that way. At least, Hades is pretty sure. That’s what he’s going to tell himself for now. All he does though is nod to Demeter, offering her a quavering smile. 

“Of course,” he says. “She’s been doing great so far. I’m happy to be working with her.” 

Persephone comes back from the bathroom in just a few minutes. She has her purse slung over her again. She looks ready to go. So, Hades stands up and joins her in the archway into the kitchen.  

“Mama,” Persephone says. “We’re going to go, okay? Thank you so much for lunch. I promise to visit again soon.”

Demeter smiles gently at her daughter, and comes over to pull her into her arms again. She hugs her like she did before, like she doesn’t want to let go. Like she doesn’t want to lose her. 

“Okay, mija,” she whispers to her. “Te amo. Come back soon.” 

“I love you too, amá,” Persephone says, voice small again. It takes a few moments for her to finally pull back again, but when she does, she smiles so lovingly at her mother.  

“Thank you for the phenomenal meal, Demeter. I might have to hound Persephone to come back more often, just so she can bring me some on her way back,” Hades jokes lightly. He thinks it’s fine at this point. At least he hopes it is. 

By the way Demeter gives him a small smile, he thinks it might be. “Please do.” 

With that, Demeter ushers them out. They wave at her one last time from the sidewalk before she closes her door behind her. Hades glances at Persephone, sees the sad little smile on her face. 

“Well,” she says, “that went a lot better than I thought it would.” 

“She seems nice,” Hades tells her. Persephone only hums in response. 

Genuinely, Hades enjoyed his time. Sure, it started a bit on the rough side, and Hades was certain Demeter hated him just by looking at him. But it all got better. Persephone seemed so happy to be there, but now she looks the same as she did before they went in. Anxious—melancholic. 

They start walking back towards where they came from. At some point, Hades laughs to himself.  

Persephone eyes him with furrowed brow. 

“What?” she asks. 

Hades chuckles again. “I just—” He stifles more laughter. “What does grin-go mean?” 

At that, Persephone’s face falls and her eyes widen a little bit. She looks thoroughly embarrassed as she buries her face in her hands.

“Oh my god. It’s nothing. And please don’t look it up,” she groans into them. 

Hades can’t help but snicker a little. He knows he’ll probably look it up later, but he won’t tell her that now. Instead, he concedes and continues their walk back to the car. 

“I’m sorry if my mother seemed…a bit abrasive,” Persephone pipes up after a few moments. “She’s like that with almost everyone, I swear.”

Chuckling gently, Hades glances down at Persephone, shrugging his shoulders. “I am a strange man you brought into her home. So, I mean, I get it,” he tells her. 

“I’d like to believe all mothers are as protective as her,” Persephone says with a slight huff. “Is yours?”  

Hades resists the urge to frown. Instead, he puts on a fond, recollective smile. 

“She was.”

“Oh,” Persephone mutters. “I’m sorry.” 

“It’s fine,” Hades assures her. “But really, she did everything she could to protect me. I think—I think it’s just a mom thing.”

There’s a familiar feeling that settles in Hades’ chest, the one he always gets when he thinks about Rhea. The longing to see her again, to be held in her warm embrace one last time. She really was the one person in the world who could make him feel small, not in a bad way—just like a boy again. Her son; the one she’d cradle while he cried, whispering soothing reassurances that everything would be okay. If not today, then one day, my sweet boy.

Hades feels like he’s still waiting. 

“Well, I think she raised a good son then,” Persephone says to Hades. She grants him a warm smile. Hades returns it. 

“Your mother too,” Hades says, his voice so genuine and kind, but then he snickers a little too loud. “I mean—not a son. A daughter. You, clearly.”

Persephone giggles at him, and the feeling of lingering sorrow dissipates from his chest. The feelings from earlier have returned, so easily, and she manages to pick him back up in just an instant. They share their laughs, and continue their trek back to the car. 

It seems as though the children who did go to school are out now, all making their way back home. A few of the older kids seem to recognize Persephone too, as they give excited hello’s on their way by. They all seem so happy to see her back. 

In fact, everyone seems so kind. A few of the children are with their parents, who say hello to her too. Everyone seems so sincere, and they all seem to know each other. Despite initially giving him odd looks as well, they accept his presence after seeing he’s with Persephone, and offer him genuine, kind greetings. Hades doesn’t know what that’s like. He’s never had a community like this, where everyone is a friend, a member of each other’s families. There are older people congregated on porches, talking, bickering playfully with one another. The kids are all familiar with each other too. 

Hades hadn’t expected any of this. Not from a run down, shabby little neighborhood like this. Maybe that was his father in him speaking, and realizing it makes him push down any further assumptions he thinks he can make. The grip on the keys in his pocket loosens completely. 

Watching Persephone interact with everyone, watching her give that cute, sweet, authentic smile of hers—that’s what really gets Hades. 

Up until then, he didn’t think he was strong enough to admit the feeling that was emitting from his heart. 

But, as they’re about to exit the neighborhood, an ice cream truck turns down the street. All of the kids getting off school seem ecstatic, but only a handful of them approach it when it stops. Persephone stops Hades. 

“Just one more moment, please,” she says to him. Of course he’s not going to say no. 

Hades watches as Persephone walks up to the ice cream truck, and beckons over the rest of the kids who Hades assumes weren’t able to get the treat their little hearts so desired. 

Up until then, Hades was denying anything and everything he thought he was feeling. 

But then, Persephone has a moderate group of sweet-toothed children surrounding her, all picking out what ice cream or treat they wanted from the truck. One by one, Persephone being the Goddess, the absolute saint, that she is, pays for every single one of them. 

Hades has to stand there and catch his damn breath. She looks so happy to be doing this. Each child thanks her and runs off to tell their parents what Kore From Down The Street did for them. Any parent that’s there sends Persephone the most grateful look. Hades recognizes it. It’s the same look that Persephone gives him, each time he does something that Hades wouldn’t even deem generous. 

When Persephone is on the last child, she lowers to their height and hands them the popsicle they are buzzing for. Persephone’s smile reaches her ears as she watches the little girl run away, squealing happily to her parents. When Persephone stands back up straight, she catches Hades’ eye from where he’s standing, and sends the cutest wave. 

Up until then, Hades was convinced he wasn’t a goner. 

But as he looks at her, his heart a complete puddle in his chest, her little dopey smile on her face as she tucks her wondrous curls behind her ear, he knows. 

She strides back to him, giving him that same apologetic expression from before. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I just—I like doing what I can. These people mean a lot to me, even if I don’t come back as often as I should.” 

Hades can’t speak, not right away. Because he knows; from the way his body shivers, the tips of his fingers tingling with an unspoken urge to grab her and pull her close, or how his stomach is tumbling helplessly. He knows, irrevocably, that he was gone from the moment he laid eyes on her.

Chapter Text

Sunday mornings at the lavandería with her mother. Old friends of her father. The dentist owned by the family of a friend she no longer speaks to. 

It all hits Persephone, full force. The guilt she feels is undeniable. Not only for ruining her work day with Hades, because that’s there too, but all of the stifling, bittersweet memories that flooded over her as soon as she saw where Hecate had sent the two of them. She doesn’t come back home often, and typically for good reason. But every time Persephone does, she’s overwhelmed with the regret of never doing so. It happens every single time, which only makes her stay away longer and longer. She remembers the last two years of college, Persephone only went back once for Christmas, and that was it. Sometimes, the remorse still eats away at her.

The worst part of it was that Hades was there to witness it all. He saw the part of her that she spent years running away from, all within a week and a half of meeting each other. It took months for her to tell her current best friends where she was from, and even then, she kept as much as she could hidden. 

As she approaches Hades once more, Persephone wears the same apologetic smile she had been all day long.  

“I’m sorry. I just—I like doing what I can. These people mean a lot to me, even if I don’t come back as often as I should.”

The entire day has been one long hiccup, or really, a lot of small hiccups, one right after the other. At this point, she’s wasted so much time that was supposed to be used for work. She just feels as if the breath had been knocked out of her. 

Persephone only told Hecate about herself because she knew she’d understand. But even then, it wasn’t much. Single mother, poor neighborhood, fought to get into college for a better chance at life, and then some. The bare minimum, and Hecate still deemed it enough to do this with Hades. 

In all honesty, Persephone knows deep down she should be proud of her background, where she came from and where she is now. She’s not ashamed of her neighbors, her friends, or family. Sometimes it’s just—it’s just hard for her. The cracks in the road and the smiles on the faces of the people she once knew hold too much for her, too many memories, and too much she’d like to forget. 

But, even so, the gravitational pull she feels once she’s finally back drags her heart down. Seeing the children that her mother helped birth, or the parents who fight to do so much for them. It’s the regret, and the sadness, and the unforgiving longing to be back home. It’s the border-line, crippling dependency she wishes she could forgo. That’s the biggest reason she tends to stay away. 

Persephone looks at Hades, sighing just a little. He hasn’t responded, not yet, and she’s really nervous that she’s thoroughly annoyed him. 

“I’m sorry if I messed things up,” she adds. “I can come back alone, or we can scout a different area, I just—”

“Kore,” Hades says, and Persephone feels a chill run down her spine at the sound of her first name, the way it falls from his lips. “Stop apologizing. I’ve never—not once in my life—seen a community like this. I think this is all I needed to see, Persephone.”

Persephone’s heart hammers in her chest as she looks up at Hades, her eyes shining. 

“I’ll get Hecate in contact with city officials. We’ll see if there are any empty lots, see where the libraries and schools are. I—we’re going to do this here, together, okay?”

Persephone all but soars. Her smile grows tenfold, and she doesn’t hesitate to nod her head. There’s an overwhelming urge that takes over her nerves, so before she knows it, she’s throwing herself at Hades, hugging him so tight. For a moment, she doesn’t feel him hug back, and she almost pulls away. But then he’s wrapping his large arms around her, and she melts into his grasp. She didn’t completely mean to do this, or maybe she did. She’s not really quite sure. But Persephone has never felt so safe and so warm in someone else’s arms before. 

“Together,” she mutters into the soft fabric of his blazer.  

The thoughts she’s been fighting back start to creep into her mind again, so before they can completely overpower her, she manages to peel herself away and looks up at Hades. Persephone’s cheeks are very warm and she barely gets out the S of another Sorry before Hades gives her a very pointed look. She has to bite back another apology. 

“I think we’ve earned ourselves a trip back to the office,” Hades finally says, his voice wavering a little. Persephone doesn’t read too far into it, but she nods in agreement. 

At last, they head back to Hades’ car. Persephone says goodbye to the men outside of the liquor store her father used to frequent.

The traffic back to work is even more horrendous than on the way there, so by the time they make it back, most people are heading home for the day. Walking in though, Persephone catches Hermes coming off an elevator. The second he sees her, his face seems to light up, and it manages to pull at her heart a little. 

Saying yes to a date with Hermes was—was definitely a decision. When she had done so, her mind had to take a second to catch up with what her mouth had just let out. But, it was done. Hermes beamed like never before, saying, “I—really? Oh shit, okay. I didn’t think—wow. Okay, nice! Tomorrow? Is tomorrow fine?”

Things weren’t exactly awkward afterwards, because they were still able to talk like normal, plan their date, and return to the office, but God. Persephone truly had to take a moment to reel herself in, process the fact that she’d just agreed to go on a date with one of her best friends. One of her best friends that had supposedly been crushing on her for a while. How was she going to tell Eros and Artemis? Did they already know, and if they did, well. 

Still, Persephone has a deep seated hope that maybe things will go well. Maybe Hermes will charm the heck out of her, and maybe she’ll be able to finally forget the way Hades made her swoon just by looking at her. But, after the day they had together, meeting her mother, how she helped clean his mouth, how she couldn’t resist the urge to hug him—maybe things got worse. That surely means they’ll get better soon, right? Right?

“Hi, Perse!” Hermes says happily when he finally approaches her, and he doesn’t even look nervous to see Hades right next to her. Too dang excited for his own good. 

“Hi, Hermes,” Persephone greets him sweetly. 

“Uh, hello, Mr. Olympus,” Hermes then says to Hades, but the grin is still on his face. He only seems a tad bit nervous in his presence. Hades, though, looks like a brick wall. Face expressionless, shoulders taut, like the true authority figure that he is. Persephone feels her stomach twist, just a little bit, at the sight of him. With slight anxiety, and more of something else. She brushes it aside though, and Hades gives Hermes a curt nod as his own greeting. 

“I’ll be going home in a little bit,” Persephone says then, smiling shyly as she pushes a few curls behind her ear. She can’t say and then I’ll see you soon, okay? Not in front of Hades. Of course, she told him earlier that she had a date, but there’s no reason he has to know with who. She doesn’t even know what the policy is on that, whether or not she’d get them in trouble. But, by the look on Hermes’ face, he feels the same way. 

“Sweet,” he says, chuckling. “Me too. So uh, I’ll see you whenever?” 

Persephone only nods her head, and with that, Hermes bounces off with a goodbye to both of them. Genuinely, Persephone can’t deny that he’s so, so cute sometimes. So sweet, and so kind, and exactly what she’d want if she just—if her mind wasn’t constantly thinking about someone else now. 

“You’re free to go, if you’d like,” Hades says to pull Persephone back. She looks up at him with slightly wide eyes, but her face grows soft afterwards. 

“Are you sure?” she asks, fiddling with the strap of her bag. “If you—if you need any help, I’ve got a few hours—”

“I promise,” Hades says. His voice is a little more stern than usual, but he seems to catch himself, and his shoulders finally fall as he catches her eye, neck craned to meet them. “You’ve got—you’ve got that date, remember?”

Averting her eyes down, Persephone barely manages to smile to herself. “Yes,” she says. “Okay. I’ll…see you tomorrow then?” 

“Tomorrow. I’ll get a head start with Hecate.”

Finally, Persephone grins gently up at Hades. She nods once more, before she’s able to pull herself away from him with one last goodbye. The gravity of him has such a drag on her, wants her to stay so bad, but Persephone forces herself to walk away and leave. She does have to get ready. Not only for her date, but the opportunity to set herself free from whatever grasp Hades and his dumb little face, stupid little jokes, and gross warm arms have on her. 

Later on that night, when she’s ready in a sweet lace patterned dress, curls styled so nicely, and her favorite lipgloss on, she thinks she’s prepared. Persephone opens the door when Hermes knocks, sees him there in all his glory, still shining like he had since she said yes, with a single sunflower in hand. 

Even though Persephone’s heart doesn’t skip the way she hoped and prayed it would, she smiles so fondly at him. She supposes she’s as prepared as she’ll ever be. 

 

 

Most nights, Hades doesn’t sleep well. It’s something he’s grown so accustomed to, ever since college, when his insomnia really switched into a higher gear. But lying alone in bed, thinking about Persephone being on her date with Hermes really did something to him. The thought of her laughing, holding his hand, getting too close to him, kissing him.

At this point, jealousy is an understatement. 

It’s safe to say that Hades doesn’t get much sleep that night. He goes into work late on about three hours of sleep, which is typical on most days, but the exhaustion seems to really be dragging him down on this particular one. In fact, he doesn’t notice when he presses the wrong floor on the elevator. After he presses the button, he sort of just leans on the elevator wall and enjoys the ride up. When it dings, and the doors slide open, he gets off without questioning it. The layout of all of the floors is mostly the same, so his autopilot kicks in to drag him in the direction that would be towards his office. 

The lack of Minthe at the receptionist’s desk, or the slightly different colored walls don’t throw him off. Nothing does, in fact, not until he sees the last glimpse of Hermes and Thanatos walking into the same copy room as before. Hades stops dead in his tracks. 

Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.

Hades has never been too good at listening to himself. 

He creeps next to the door, as quiet as possible, and he can hear Hermes and Thanatos laughing about something on the inside. 

Dude,” Thanatos is saying, clearly trying to coax Hermes. “You wouldn’t respond to my texts, and I’ve been hunting you down all morning. How many times do I have to ask you how the date with Persephone went?”

Hades prays to anyone that will listen that he’ll say bad, terrible, worst date ever. But deep down, Hades is almost certain a date with Persephone would never end up that way. How could it? 

“I’ve told you already, a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell,” Hermes snickers, and Hades’ heart plummets to the ground. “But if you really want to know, I can tell you, things didn’t end after dinner was over.”

Hades thinks he might be sick. He should stop listening, he really fucking should, but his feet refuse to drag him away. 

“Dude, holy shit,” Thanatos says in complete awe. “I didn’t think you had it in you, man!”

“I mean,” Hermes continues, “I can’t sit here and say we, you know, but…wait, what are the bases again? I think second?”

“Uh—I think second is just boob, dude.” 

“Then third? I think third.”

“Should I look it up?”

Hades can’t stomach listening to such a petulant conversation anymore. He doesn’t want to hear about whatever fucking bases Hermes ran last night, because that hot wave of jealousy is back, and he can’t really handle it right now.

A tension begins to build within him. 

He recalibrates himself and rushes to his office. He barely gives anyone any acknowledgement on his way there, not even Minthe. His office will serve as solitude for now, locking him away from the harsh reality he’s having to face. These stupid feelings, and this stupid jealousy, and the fact that he fucked things up majorly the night at the art gallery will have to wait outside for now. 

It dawns on him now that Hades will just have to grapple with all of these things now. If he wants his project to work out with Persephone, this is how things are going to be. He can’t have her, he can’t want her, even if Hermes wasn’t in the goddamn picture. So, despite everything, he takes a deep breath and throws himself into his work. 

He sends people to voicemail, doesn’t answer emails right away, won’t even let Hecate in when she asks. 

Hades needs this time to himself. He can channel the frustration building within him into making sure his work is done, diligently and thoroughly. 

Impulsivity is Hades’ strong point though. At some point in the day, he finds himself calling Hermes into his office, stiff and authoritative in his chair. When Hermes walks in, he seems a bit nervous, like he always tends to be around him. Usually, he doesn’t mean to make him feel that way. But as of right now, as that tension begins to take over, Hades can’t bring himself to care. 

“Hello, sir,” Hermes greets, closing the office doors behind him, then timidly walking up to Hades’ desk. 

“Hermes,” Hades is quick to say, voice stern. The voice in his head is telling him not to do this, but he shuts it out. “I think you’ll find it interesting to know that I found myself on the ninety-eighth floor today.”

Hermes gulps. 

“I’m not going to beat around the bush. I just want to remind you that fraternizing with coworkers is against company policy.” 

Hermes visibly goes nervous, starting to sweat a little. 

“I—sir, um—I just thought because you—and Minthe—” he stammers out. Hades almost feels bad, but the little green monster on his shoulder is snickering in his ear, much louder than the conscience trying to steady him. 

“That’s different,” Hades accidentally says, a little too harsh. 

Okay, so maybe Hades is lying. Hades knows damn well there’s no rule against fraternizing, dating, fucking, or being engaged with any of one’s coworkers. Maybe there should be, but that would make him a hypocrite, wouldn’t it? As long as Hermes doesn’t go digging through any company policy paperwork, he’ll never find out. 

“I’m—I’m sorry, Mr. Olympus.” Hermes sounds genuinely upset now, and finally, the guilt seeps into Hades. 

He sighs heavily. “It’s fine,” he lies again. “Just—don’t let me catch you speaking about it with other employees again.” 

Relief emits from Hermes, his shoulders falling as he lets out a long breath. He looks so gratefully at Hades, nodding quickly. 

“Of course! I—thank you. Thank you for not firing me, oh my god,” Hermes sputters out. 

Hades doesn’t really say anything else, just dismisses Hermes with a wave of his hand. Hermes bites at the chance to leave, walking out with more apologies and Thanks for letting me keep my job.

Hades hates himself, only a little. There was no point in scaring the kid besides his own pettiness. He throws himself back into his work, trying so desperately to distract himself once more.  

By the time his alarm goes off for lunch, Hades’ back is aching a little from being hunched over so long. He has managed to suppress the feelings he had coursing through him, even for just a while, and rewards himself by finally leaving his office. He’ll take himself out to lunch, maybe grab a drink down the street, do anything to make himself feel better. 

But, quickly, he realizes his mistake. Hades inevitably has to pass Persephone’s office (Hecate was right. He was a fucking fool for placing her up here, just to be closer to her). Her door is almost closed, only cracked open a little, just so he can hear enough of her giggling on the inside. His heart nearly jumps, but is quickly whipped back down into place when he hears Hermes in there laughing with her. 

Oh, come the fuck on. 

Hermes,” Persephone is giggling, laughing out loud until it’s muffled by what Hades can only assume is a—

A few beats pass. “Hermes, please. We’re supposed to go get lunch.” 

Persephone doesn’t sound so convincing. There’s still a flit of amusement within her voice, and Hermes just keeps laughing, and Hades hears it again. Apparently scaring the kid didn’t work completely.

Do we really have to?”

His breath hitches. Because suddenly, they’re not talking anymore, and Hades is sent back almost two weeks when he hears this sweet little noise. He recognizes it all too much, because it’s close to the same one he was able to drag from Persephone’s throat while he caressed her thighs and kissed her neck. 

A fire sparks in Hades’ gut at the thought. His breathing grows a little shallow, because at this point, his mind doesn’t know what the fuck do. It decides for him that maybe channeling his frustration into something else can help take the edge off. The more he hears Persephone in there, kissing him and being kissed, the hotter the fire grows in the pit of his stomach. 

The tension has breached. 

Hades forces his feet to move, because the thoughts are spreading like a goddamn wildfire. Once he’s there, he locks the doors to his office, unplugs his stupid phone, and throws himself into his chair. 

Maybe he’s sporting a semi in his pants, and maybe he feels a wave of scalding shame crash into him at the fact. But he’s been denying the thoughts for so long, been doing so good at not letting them plague him. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea after all, because he can’t stop thinking about it now.

The first thing he thinks of is how her mouth tasted. He remembers it being so sweet, and so warm. Her plump lips melded with his so nicely, like they were made to kiss him and only him. Hermes couldn’t possibly feel that too, right? Fuck, don’t think about him right now. Think about Persephone, and those saccharine noises of hers, or the way her nimble fingers felt wrapped around his arousal, even for those brief moments. 

In his chest, Hades’ heart is hammering. He feels like he’s committing a crime as his fingers slowly undo the buckle of his pants, unclasp the button, and slide down his zipper. Slight relief cascades over him. He needs to catch his breath, because he’s almost completely hard just thinking about the way Persephone looked that night, the way her wine stained lips glistened when he pulled back from their kiss. 

God, kissing her was so phenomenal. Hades pushes his hands into his briefs as he thinks about it, wrapping his large hand around himself, feeling the weight of it. It’s not the same. His hands are too big, but for now, they’ll have to do. All he has to do is imagine how Persephone looked at him, with such want and desire in her eyes. She wanted him. He felt wanted. 

His first stroke is slow, and Hades lets himself drink it in as he gasps a little. He remembers Persephone falling to her knees before him, so ready to give him what he desperately wanted. Fuck. Why did it have to end? What if he’d gotten what might’ve happened the night before, what He got after their date?

Hades lets the fantasy play out in his head. He thinks of what it would be like if he took Persephone to dinner, brought her home and kissed her the way she deserved to be kissed. Sober, just to let her know he wouldn’t regret it. Slow, to make it last. Deep, to show her how bad he truly wanted it. 

He wonders, as he strokes his arousal a little faster, trying to mimic the twist of Persephone’s wrist from when she first touched him, how she’d look under him as he touched her back. His fingers would drift under her skirt, feel the heat emitting from her core. 

Fuck,” Hades hisses at the image of her, face scrunched in pleasure as he used his fingers on her to make her feel so good, the way she did for him. His strokes get quicker, matching the speed of his breathing as he finally pulls himself from his briefs, out in the open. The cold air sends a jolt up his spine, but doesn’t stop him at all. 

The shame, while still there, seems to be fading away. All he can worry about now is chasing his orgasm, feeling it bubble within him. His head is tipped back against his chair. He leans back in it since he’s swiveled away from his desk, now facing the floor to ceiling windows that look out over the city. 

Hades can’t stop thinking about her. How she tastes, how she feels, what she’d let him do to her, if it’d be more than she let Hermes. His want for her grows, and grows, and grows. He shouldn’t be doing this, shouldn’t be channeling his jealousy, and ache, and desire to have her into this, in his fucking office, but it’s too late now. Especially as he shudders with pure ecstasy when he runs his thumb across the head of his cock, collecting the bead that has formed there. He feels it in his gut. There’s no turning back now. 

All it takes is the thought of Persephone’s lingering touch. The thought of her tightening around his fingers as he brought her crashing over the edge. He pumps his fist quicker, harder, his back nearly arching as he tries so desperately to reach the edge that’s so close and in sight. His hips lift every so often to meet the strokes of his hand. Hades keeps muttering curse words, and the soft P of Persephone’s name, but he won’t let himself say it, not completely. He’s afraid it’ll become too real. 

With his free hand, he grips the armrest of his chair, his knuckles paling. Hades can barely breathe. He squeezes the shaft of his cock, drawing out a long moan. He stands there, right on the precipice, ready to fucking leap. 

Finally, despite the shame that crashes into him when he does, Hades comes with a strangled gasp of Persephone’s name spilling from his lips, and a strong pang to the chest. He makes sure to bunch up his shirt so it lands on his stomach and in his fist. He forces his hand to slow itself as he grows a bit sensitive with the last waves of his orgasm. 

The last few aftershocks shake Hades to his core, not only with ebbing pleasure, but now with returning shame. 

Well. It’s definitely real. 

When Hades opens his eyes again, he convinces himself to grab a tissue to clean himself of the reminder of what the hell he just did. 

Pathetic. It’s how he’s felt a lot lately. Faintly, Hades can see his reflection in the window. His hair a little mussed, sweat on his brow, his shirt wrinkled, and pants undone. He situates himself, finally catching his breath once he’s back in his buttoned pants. 

The tension is weak now. It’s only a numb feeling in his core, softly thrumming. It doesn’t take long to grow into something else. It’s not a new feeling, but it most certainly is unwelcomed. The last time he felt it was when he was on one knee, a velvet box in his hand. Hades knows, deep down, he shouldn’t listen to what it’s telling him as it whispers to him, feeding into the insecurities in the back of his mind. 

With a sigh, he plugs his phone back in, and waits a moment before buzzing into Minthe’s line. 

“Clear my schedule for the rest of the day,” he tells her.  

Minthe chuckles a little, and he can hear the amusement in her voice. “You’ve been off your game today, boss man. What’s up with you?”

Hades huffs. He doesn’t grant her an answer. “Do you want to take the rest of the day off with me?”

Minthe hums over the line. 

“Now you’re talking.”

Chapter Text

As it turns out, Hermes is a really good kisser. 

Persephone let him do it as he dropped her off at home after their date—their date that actually went very well. It’s just that Hermes is so sweet, there was no way that he would have disappointed her in any way. But no matter how hard Persephone tried, she couldn’t get her heart to sing for him the way it did for Hades. 

So, she let him kiss her at her door, and on her couch, and on her neck. She let his hands wander, and let out gentle noises as they brought her tumbling over the edge. The only terrible part of it all was that she couldn’t stop thinking about how his touch wasn’t Hades. In fact, it’s how she even got herself to finish, breathing out the soft H of his name, thanking the heavens that they shared the same first initial. It was only an inkling of pity that helped her return the favor, but still—all that ran through her mind was the thought of when it was Hades in her hand. 

Nonetheless, Hermes is a good kisser. That’s why she let him do it more and more, thinking the more she kissed him, the more she’d fall for him. Was it working? She’s not quite sure. If it wasn’t now, she prayed to God that it would one day. 

Even when Hermes comes into her office to grab her for lunch, still absolutely shining with the afterglow of the night before, Persephone lets him pull her into his arms and kiss her until she is giggling. He teases her about not even having to go to lunch, which she shoots down, much to his disappointment. 

God, Hermes is just so sweet, and so funny, and so kind. Persephone wanted so desperately to want him the way he wanted her. 

“I was thinking,” Hermes is saying as they’re walking through the streets of downtown. He’s got an ice cream cone in his hand, and so does Persephone, because he was sweet enough to take her to her favorite place down the street. Too sweet for his own good. He takes another lick, then continues with, “maybe we can go to that one museum you really like, this weekend…”

Persephone sends Hermes a pursed smile, her eyes soft. She nods her head, and she wants to say Yeah, I’ll let you know if I’m free when something catches her eye. There’s a wall covered in graffiti, and amongst it, is the logo for the New York Yankees. Something about them and the World Series, or whatever. Persephone is not quite sure, and doesn’t care enough to figure it out, because she giggles to herself and stops in her tracks. 

“I—give me a second?” she says to Hermes, and excuses herself. She takes it upon herself to take the quickest photo with the graffiti, barely even a selfie as her head is peeking out from just the bottom. She has the most absolute cheesiest smile on her face as she composes a text. 

that you? :P 

Finally, Persephone gets the chance to send Hades her first text, attaching the photo to it as nerves dragged through her veins. Her heart soars, though, when she sees that he’s read it, sees that he’s typing back. 

Hades: That’s it, I’m moving back to New York. I belong with my people. 

Hades: PS. I’m a Mets fan. 

Persephone’s cheeks begin to ache just from how she’s grinning at her phone. She wants to respond to Hades, but Hermes is apparently trying desperately to gain her attention back. 

“Perse?” Hermes says, and when Persephone finally looks back up, he has a wavering, sheepish smile on. 

“Oh my god, I’m sorry,” she tells him apologetically. She immediately puts her phone away, despite how bad she wants to text Hades back. But she feels guilty. Hermes doesn’t deserve this, doesn’t deserve to be ignored because she can’t unwrap her mind from around another man. 

“No, you’re fine,” Hermes says, so sweet and sincere. He grabs her hand even, gives it a light squeeze. Her heart sighs for him. “I was just wondering if you wanted to head back now?” 

Persephone gives him a small smile, and nods her head. Hermes returns her gesture before he leads her back. He holds her hand the entire way though. It’s warm, and big, and feels so nice in hers. But Persephone can’t feel it as anything other than a friend’s hand. Deep down, it pains her. 

 

 

It’s quiet. Too quiet. 

The most uneventful week or so of Persephone’s life passes before her eyes, and she is waiting at every corner for something to bounce back and send her grasping for simpler times. Things are fine, and that’s it. Hanging out with Hermes is just as normal, except he’ll hold her hand, and give her little kisses here and there. They haven’t really—labeled anything. It feels like they’re testing the waters, with being friends turned into something more. Hermes is probably waist deep, while Persephone still has only her toes in. 

It’s a quiet Friday morning, almost three weeks since Persephone first started her job at Pomegranate Tech. In all honesty, Persephone can’t believe she’s made it this far after all that happened with her and Hades. But she’s gotten a better grip on herself, managed to somewhat keep to her promise of “cordial and professional.”

Sure, sometimes she still giggles a little too loud and too long at Hades’ jokes. But still, she doesn’t seem to catch the way he grins with pride each time. 

At some point in the day, Persephone finds herself knocking on Hades’ office door, but doesn’t get an answer at all. She tries a few more times, and can’t help the pout on her face when there is no rustling on the other side, no handsome face greeting her at the door. 

Swallowing thickly, Persephone gathers the nerve to go up to Minthe’s desk, but she’s not there either. Persephone’s mind immediately jumps to the worst conclusions, that her and Hades are off together, doing whatever, wherever. Of course, that’s fine. They’re engaged and they can do whatever they want. But still, there’s a taut feeling in her chest that Persephone doesn’t appreciate, not one bit. 

Before Persephone can let her mind veer off any further, let the feeling grow even stronger, she hears the door to the nearby bathroom swing open and Minthe comes out, looking unusually grumpy, even for her. Minthe is shaking her hands free of moisture, grumbling something about the shitty hand dryers.

Persephone is relieved, to say the least. 

“Hi, Minthe,” Persephone says as kindly as she can to grab her attention. Genuinely, Persephone has no true problem with Minthe. Of course, deep down, there’s a pit of envy that Persephone refuses to acknowledge on most days. But, as far as she can tell, Persephone doesn’t have any true reason to dislike Minthe. 

Admittedly, more often than not, Minthe is a little more than rude towards her. There’s a sharp look in her eyes whenever Minthe sees her with Hades, and their time is typically cut short when Minthe pulls him off. But Persephone has never really had it in her to hate someone, not for no particular reason. Not for the sake of her own pettiness. 

Minthe does glance up at her though, but her expression is deadpan, and she sighs. “No,” she immediately says, striding back to her desk.  

Persephone lets out a huff. Maybe she should dig deep for her petty side after all. “I just wanted to know if Hades was somewhere in the building, we have to go over—”

No,” Minthe says again, narrowing her eyes at Persephone. She doesn’t even bother to check the schedule, see if he’s in any meetings, or on lunch, or whatever! 

“You didn’t even look!” Persephone protests. She fights the pout that threatens her lips. 

Minthe only rolls her eyes though. She sits back in her chair, even goes as far to pull out a nail file and make work at her red nails. Persephone gapes, only just a little, at least until Minthe finally lets out a heavy breath of a sigh. “That’s because I don’t have to,” she tells her. “He’s at brunch with his idiot brothers. Three weeks and you haven’t picked up a pattern yet, Stanford?” 

Shoot. Well, no. To be completely fair, he’s only been gone on a Friday once, and that was last week. Persephone thought he was just—well, out and about! She frowns, finally. 

“Oh,” she says simply. “I—okay. Can you—can you tell him to find me when he gets back?” 

“If I feel like it.” 

Persephone squints at Minthe, but she decides to drop it there. If she has to chalk up the nerve to text Hades again, she will. She hasn’t done it much, even if she wants so desperately to, all the dang time. She lets out a sigh, and turns to leave. 

“Wait!” 

Persephone turns back to Minthe. On her thin crimson lips is a small, devious smile. Persephone gulps, but she’s too trusting. She steps closer to the desk. 

“Maybe I’ll tell him, if you can help me with something,” Minthe says then. Her smile turns surprisingly sweet, too sweet. Persephone’s fight or flight response almost activates completely, but she puts her guard down regardless, even if she does tense up a little as Minthe begins to rummage through her Prada bag. 

What she pulls out is unexpected. It’s not a can of silly string, or her middle finger in some cruel, childish prank. No, they’re lacey, frilly, beautiful pieces of different colored cardstock papers. Persephone’s shoulders fall. 

“What do you think?” Minthe asks her, laying out the cards on her desk to present to Persephone. The smile hasn’t left her face, hasn’t faltered one bit. 

All it takes is one look down at the cards before her to know why, to make Persephone’s heart drop through all ninety-nine floors. 

Save the Date for a Wedding Spectacular

Minthe + Hades | january thirty-first, twenty-twenty | malibu, california 

Formal invitation to follow.

Persephone’s eye may twitch. There’s a ringing in her ears as she looks over at all four of the cards in front of her, all of them screaming at her that it’s happening. The small pit of a feeling in her stomach is now gaping, and she fears it will swallow her whole, consume her completely. She doesn’t like this feeling. 

“Hades stole me from work last Wednesday,” Minthe titters, “took me on a day trip to Malibu. Venue is booked and everything.”

Four months from then. Persephone’s mouth is dry. 

“Anyways,” Minthe continues, “I guess your opinion could help. You look like you like...colors, and flowers or whatever. Girl stuff. Which do you think?”

For a moment, Persephone can’t really bring herself to speak. The words in her throat are clawing to come out, but she knows that they won’t be kind, so she swallows them down even if they put up a fight. 

“I—” is all she manages to choke out for a second, then, “I like the blue one…”

What she really means is I think Hades would like the blue ones.

Minthe hums, picking it up to inspect it closely. “I don’t know,” she says. “They’re not my favorite. I’ve never been too fond of blue. Such a sad color, don’t you think?” 

There’s a burning sensation in Persephone’s throat now. She feels it there, and in her chest, and at the tips of her fingers. She knows if she doesn’t leave now, she might throw up, might faint, might do something she’ll regret later on. 

Quickly, Persephone mutters, “I have to go.”

“Well,” Minthe says, putting on such a faux pout. “You know, maybe you and lover boy will get here one day. Definitely rooting for you two.”

Persephone doesn’t bother responding to Minthe, asking her how the hell she knows about her and Hermes. She finally gets to leave and lock herself in her office (the best she can do at least, without a proper lock). It may be her mind playing tricks on her, but she swears she hears Minthe snicker as she closes the door behind her. 

Truthfully, she doesn’t know how much time passes after that. She spends so long racking her mind for a way to feel okay again. Persephone feels like an utter fool. Some days, she genuinely forgets that Hades is engaged to be married. But now, the huge glaring reminder in the receptionists area is in the back of her mind, laughing at her; mocking her. 

Persephone barely notices when there’s a knock at her office door, and the very face that has her spiraling in the first place shows itself, with a dumb, charming smile on it. 

“Hello,” Hades says, slowly letting himself into Persephone’s office. He’s holding one hand behind his back, and the smile on his face widens a little bit as he approaches her. The effect that Hades has on her is wild, because she can’t help but smile back at him, forcing down the anxiety bubbling within her. 

“Hi,” she says, voice so soft. 

“I may have something for you.”

Persephone furrows her brow at Hades. However, her heartbeat steadies. For once, his presence manages to calm Persephone down instead of making her so flustered. She’s unsure if this is a good thing or not. 

“Oh?” she ponders. Hades takes a moment before pulling a white paper bag from behind his back. He smiles at her even wider, grinning with such pride. 

“I remember,” he starts, “that you mentioned your favorite pastry was uh—pan—pan dul-ce, and that you haven’t had it in a while. I may or may not have passed a place that smelt absolutely delightful on my way back to the office. Sooo, here.” 

Once it’s in front of her, the smell of whatever’s in the bag hits her nose. It wraps Persephone in such warmth, brings waves of childhood memories and things she’s kept locked away in a special box in the back of her mind. Saturday mornings with her mother, comfort, and home. 

All of it almost completely washes away everything she’d been feeling since before Hades waltzed into her office. Almost. Still, she bites back the bitter need to congratulate Hades on the wedding date, or lie to him about not feeling well enough to accept his treat. 

“I—thank you,” Persephone says instead, opening the bag to see the bread on the inside. 

It’s covered in pink icing. 

“I had a bit of a hard time ordering, seeing as I don’t pronounce words as well as you do, but…I tried my best.” 

Persephone can’t really do anything but smile fondly at Hades. Leave it to him to come in, wrangle her heart back from the ache she’d been feeling. The painful reminder that even if she’d gone all the way with him that night, let him have her the way she wanted him to, he never would’ve been hers. Not to have, and not to keep; it haunts her. 

But, all he has to do is smile at her, and it fades away. She forgets for the briefest moments that she’s not allowed to feel this way. It’s not fair to Hermes, or her, or even Hades. Still, she relishes in those brief moments. 

“Minthe said you needed me?” Hades says then, and the moment is over. Just the sound of her name sends Persephone crashing back down and spreads a vile, unwanted feeling through her chest.

“I mean, I did,” Persephone tells him. “It was just some—just some Outreach stuff.”

Persephone doesn’t know if she can handle being around Hades for an extended period of time right now. 

“Preparing for next week’s presentation?” Hades asks, chuckling a little. 

“Mentally, yes,” Persephone giggles. 

Hades just hums. He stuffs his hands in his pockets, and nods his head. “If it means anything coming from me,” he says, “you’re going to do fine. The Board will adore you, I’m sure.” 

“You’re just being nice,” huffs Persephone. 

“What does that mean for me?” 

Hades smirks then, and Persephone’s heart turns to mush. Curse him. 

“Hm,” Persephone hums, “thirty percent scoundrel.”

Hades beams then, maybe a little bit too exaggerated. “Thirty percent! That’s an all time low!”

Persephone giggles so helplessly at Hades. He joins her, laughing his deep belly laugh that she loves so much. Loves. She really does love it.

When their laughing fit slowly subsides, Hades is left standing there with a docile smile on his face. 

“I should go.”

Please don’t. 

“Let me know if you need anything, okay?”

I need you to stop making me feel this way.

“So. Yeah. I’ll see you later?” 

“Later,” Persephone mutters. “...Bye.”

“Well. Goodbye.”  

In a moment, Hades is gone, and Persephone is back at square one. She looks down at the bag in her hand, and it’s only then does she see the sticky note on the bag. 

Found out what gringo means. Your mom owes me more soup now. 

Dear God. A feeling that Persephone is growing too familiar with swims through her, and she can’t stop from groaning to herself. She throws her head down on her desk, and lets out a pathetic little whine. 

This has to end, and soon. 

Chapter Text

Over the next week, something grows uncomfortably between Hades and Persephone.

The beginning of the week is fine. Persephone goes back to calling Hades “Mr. Olympus” again, and even though he hates it, Hades isn’t going to say anything to stop her. She still smiles at him, even if it is faintly. But Hades feels the fire in his chest when she smiles even wider at Hermes, whenever they see each other. 

Deep down, Hades knows what it truly is though. It was the same thing that made him leave with Minthe two weeks prior, take her to the venue that she had her heart set on, and finally put that stupid deposit down. It didn’t make him feel any better. It didn’t help the guilt that was settling into his veins. Especially not when Persephone texted him that silly, stupidly cute, fucking pure text. Not when he spent the rest of the day obsessing over whether or not she’d text him again. 

So, yeah. 

Hades is certain he knows what’s making him so tense with her. It’s building in him, gnawing at him so intensely, and he can’t just get himself off in his office to get rid of it the edge anymore. So, inevitably, it builds, and builds, and builds. They have to spend so much time together, because that’s what they agreed on. Together. They’d formulate the entirety of the project together, even if it meant spending late nights at the office, taking more trips back to the city where she was from, scouting abandoned buildings and empty lots for the vision that they were forming together, as one. 

Surprisingly, things haven’t been so bad. The night before their Board meeting, they stay after hours like they had almost every single night that week. Hades orders them Chinese take-out that they try desperately to not spill on the city planning map sprawled across his desk. They’re both tired, a bit mellowed out, and now full of vegetables, rice, and chow-mein. Persephone lets out a yawn in the midst of a conversation that twists at Hades’ heart. 

“I was thinking here,” the two of them say, weirdly enough at the same time, as both of their hands reach out to point in the same spot on the map. They’re trying to figure out the best spot to place their possible facility, in relation to libraries, schools, and public transportation routes, but any thought of that flies out of mind the moment skin touches skin.

There’s a jolt of something as Hades looks up to meet Persephone’s gentle eyes. 

“Sorry,” Persephone says shyly, quickly pulling her hand back. There’s a hint of a smile on her face though. God, Hades just wants to see it in full force again. Maybe it’ll tenderly caress his heart in the way he wants, no, needs.

“What did I tell you about apologizing all of the time?” Hades says, raising his brow at her with a playful smirk. 

“You’re not the boss of me.” Finally, she smiles a bit more, coy and teasing. She sticks her tongue out at him. Hades, of course, can’t help but laugh, ignoring the urge to clench his chest. Damn what she did to him, even in the midst of all his middle aged angst. 

“Aren’t I though?” 

Persephone huffs. 

“Ninety-nine percent scoundrel.”

Hades feels the ease now, or at least he hopes he does. They stay for a little while longer, until Persephone’s yawning becomes more frequent, and she rubs her eyes in a way that should not be so cute. Hades finally thinks he should show her mercy. She’s been working so hard, so much on this project in the little time they had. He’s about to offer her a ride home, maybe try and make her laugh, get rid of the heaviness in his own chest. 

But then, her phone dings. Hades really doesn’t mean to look, to be so nosy. But, he does anyways. It’s when he sees a string of texts from Hermes, and the uncomfortable lump in his throat rears its ugly head. 

hermes 🤡: heyyyyy, did u still wanna hang tonight? i can come over if you’d like

hermes 🤡: ;)

hermes 🤡: im just kidding!! i got space jam from redbox though!! 

Hades sees the way Persephone smiles at her phone, she even giggles a little too. The envy, the nasty bitter feeling he’s been trying to contain for weeks now starts to churn with force. 

“Should we call it a night then?” Hades says after clearing his throat. His voice is a lot more sharp than he means it to be, but the bitter feeling gnarling through his ribs doesn’t correct him. He sees the way Persephone looks up at him with her doe-eyes, a small pout playing on her lips. Those too good, far more perfect than they should be, kissed by Hermes lips.

“I—are you sure? I don’t mind staying—”

“No, it’s fine,” Hades says curtly, already gathering his things. 

Hades knows he’s being unreasonable. He is certain of it, in fact. Still, nothing stops him from packing things up, and making it very obvious that he’s ready to shut it all down. Persephone has this little dejected look on her face, but she gathers her things as well, slow and sullen. 

“I’m—” she starts saying, but she doesn’t finish whatever it was she had to say. Instead, she sighs. “I guess I’ll see you in the morning then…” 

Deep down, Hades wants to stop her. He doesn’t want to watch her leave after practically kicking her out, but he does. He forces himself to. In his mind, he doesn’t have any other option, if it means she’s not sitting in his office, thinking about Hermes and the things they could be doing. Damn himself. 

When she’s gone though, after slowly dragging herself out, Hades immediately feels guilty, wants to call her up, and ask her to come back. He doesn’t though. He just let himself bask in his own stupidity. 

Hades thinks a night to himself is the perfect remedy to ease his frenzied mind.

In the morning though, Hades is nothing but a ball of pure anxiety as he waits for Persephone to come in. 

She’s late, is the thing. Their meeting is in less than twenty minutes and she’s not fucking there, and all he can think about is how she must’ve stayed up late with Hermes, probably doing things he doesn’t want to think about, and they’re going to piss off the Board if she doesn’t get there on time. Hades is the damn CEO, but these are all people his father worked with, people that expect the best out of him because he’s “Cronus’ boy.”

Persephone, now almost a month into working for him, has never been late. In fact, most days, she’s early. Hades is anxious, and jealous, and he’s very much so letting it fester in anger. All of what he’d been dealing with, his stupid feelings, his fiancée, work—it was eating him alive now. Hades tries to collect himself, and pulls out his phone. 

Where are you? You’re still coming, right?

Almost immediately, the text that Hades sends to Persephone is opened. 

Read 9:44 AM

She doesn’t respond. Hades lets out a groan of frustration, pacing his office. If he has to do it without her, he will, but God, he doesn’t want to. This is as much her project as it is his, if not, more. She’s already put so much of her heart into this, explained that it actually means so much to her that a company like his is even considering it. She’s always dreamed of giving back to her community. Now was her chance. 

If Hades doesn’t make sure the board knows it, then what even was the point? 

“Hades?” 

Hecate’s voice wrangles him in from the cloud of worry he’s put his head in. Hades looks towards the door and sees the furrow between her brow, and the frown on her face. She knows just by looking at him that he’s about to fly off the handle. 

“She’ll be here, I promise,” Hecate tries to reassure him, but even her voice has a bit of uncertainty dwelling within it. 

Hades runs his hands over his face, trying so desperately not to panic anymore than he already is. Five more minutes pass, and it’s not until then does a small, familiar figure come flying into his office. There’s only ten minutes to spare. 

“I’m sorry!” Persephone is saying frantically. One look at her shows Hades that she’s exhausted, her eyes looking more tired than ever. Her clothes aren’t as kempt as they typically are, and there are a few stray, frizzy curls dawning her head. Even though Hades picks all of this up immediately, something in him just sort of—snaps. 

“You’re almost an hour late,” he spits at her. Even Hecate looks a bit shocked at him as she goes to stand next to Persephone, taking her things and setting them down. 

“I—I know, I just—it’s been a really terrible morning, I didn’t mean—”

“You didn’t mean? Of course you didn’t mean to almost miss this meeting, but here we are!” Hades has to reel himself in for a moment, take a deep breath.

“Hades,” Hecate barks, like a guard dog on the defensive, looking at him in complete bewilderment. Persephone is standing there, looking absolutely wounded, shock and hurt seeping into her eyes. 

“Don’t Hades me, we were supposed to be set up thirty minutes ago! They’re sitting in the conference room waiting, and you know how they get, Hecate,” Hades all but hisses at them. Hecate wraps a protective arm around Persephone’s shoulders and practically glares at Hades. 

“I said I was sorry,” Persephone mutters. Her voice is so small. She’s looking at Hades like he just stabbed her in the side, twisted it thrice, and left the knife in for safekeeping. 

Still, whatever has a grasp on him doesn’t subside.  

“You wouldn’t have to be sorry if you focused on your work and not your latest goddamn fling.”

As soon as the words enter the air, pure remorse settles into Hades’ bones. He wants to take them back as soon as they leave his mouth. Hecate gapes at him, and Persephone’s face completely falls. Hades swears he sees her eyes glisten with moisture. 

“What is that supposed to—forget it. Here,” she hisses, throwing a harddrive at him, hitting his chest with an impact made stronger by the utter hurt behind it. Hades barely manages to catch it, but when he does, his heart absolutely drops. “I’m sorry I stayed up all night making sure this was perfect. I didn’t set my alarm right, and that’s on me, but—”

Persephone only scoffs, and shakes her head. She turns to leave, and Hecate sends Hades one last glare before she follows her trail, saying gently to Persephone, “Come on. We’ll do the presentation and take a breather, okay?” 

Hades has never felt so damn guilty in his life. 

 

 

As it turns out, Persephone is stellar at pretending everything is okay, and it fucking breaks Hades’ heart. Most of the men, and there’s a lot of them, aren’t expecting her to be the one doing most of the talking, but she absolutely kills it. She smiles, and jokes around, and steals their goddamn hearts as she pitches their plans for their Pomegranate Outreach Project. POP for short. 

By the end of it, everyone seems on board, so impressed with what they’ve done together. Together. A chairman who flew out from the New York branch insists on having them, saying that they might just have a few people from their side put some stuff together. If they’d be willing to help them out, and soon, that would be fantastic. But, Hades barely manages to process it, because Persephone is quick to gather her things and make for an exit with Hecate. He excuses himself and tries so hard to push his way through the other people in the conference room, but they’re gone before he can make it. 

All Hades can do is sit there with his sad little heart. 

Later on, when he’s eating lunch alone in his office, Hecate comes in with the same scowl on her face from before. She closes the door behind her and crosses her arms. Hades knows he’s in for it. 

“What the hell?” she immediately says. “Why the hell did you snap on Kore like that this morning? I understand that you were scared she wouldn’t make it, but Jesus Christ, Hades, that was too far.”

Hades lets out a heavy sigh. He’s barely touched his lunch, seeing as he can hardly stomach it. 

“I know, I messed up,” Hades sighs in obvious defeat. Hecate pauses for a moment, and hums. 

“I didn’t think you’d give in that easily,” she says, and takes a seat across from him. Of course he gave in easily, he knew he mucked up from the moment he said those things to Persephone. 

“Yeah, well,” Hades huffs. 

“You know you have to apologize to her, right?”

Hades frowns up at Hecate. He’s known that for a couple of hours now. The only thing is that he doesn’t know how. Persephone doesn’t deserve just a simple I’m sorry. If he could, he’d give her the damn world as an apology, but even with his power, he doesn’t think it would mean anything. 

Sighing again, Hades pulls himself to his feet. 

“Hades,” Hecate says, her eyes following him. She actually looks a little sympathetic. “I know you’re going through a lot right now. And you were doing so—so well, Hades. I don’t want you two to end up hating each other because of a fifteen minute mistake.”

There is that word again. Mistake. Hades has spent weeks now trying to figure out if that were true at all. His mind can’t seem to wrap around it. 

“Do you think a vacation would help?” Hecate says then. She racks on a nervous chuckle. Hades peers at her with confusion laced in his furrowed brow. 

What?” he says. 

“Okay, well, not a vacation. But—a trip.”

Hades scoffs. A “vacation.” A “trip.” What the hell were those? He rarely got to see what lied beyond LA County anymore, unless it was strictly business. But, something in his gut tells him that this is where this is going.

However, he doesn’t get to find out. Hecate’s phone begins to ring, and she looks down at it with an exasperated sigh. 

“Shit. Okay, fine,” she grumbles to it, then looks back up at Hades. She narrows her eyes once more, standing to go towards the door. “ You. Go and apologize. I’ll finish talking to you later.”

Okay, mother dearest. Hades bites his tongue, because she knows she’s right. She’s always fucking right. The only time, the one time Hecate was ever wrong was when she insisted that the kimchi she brought in for lunch one day wouldn’t burn his damn mouth, or make him cry. He didn’t talk to her for the rest of the day. 

Finally, Hades decides to pull up his britches. As he walks down the hallway to Persephone’s office, it seems to stretch, and the more he walks, the further it gets. He knows he fucked up. He knows he crossed a line that should have never even been toed. He just prays that Persephone will find it in her to forgive him. 

He finally gets to her door.

Taking the deepest breath his lungs will hold, Hades knocks on the door. Her soft, gentle voice comes from the otherside, beckoning whoever she thinks is on the other side, in. 

Maybe Hades’ heart breaks a little when her face falls at the sight of him. 

She always, always smiled seeing him. This was the first time she hadn’t. 

Looking at her pains him even more, seeing the tired, puffiness of her eyes. Had she been crying? Oh god. Hades’ instincts want him to pull her into his arms, apologize a thousand times, hold her and take back everything he’d done that morning. He was such a fool

“Oh,” Persephone deadpans. “I hope you know I don’t have anything to say to you.”

Ouch. He deserves that. 

“Then let me do the talking,” Hades says to her. She squints, and huffs a little, but she doesn’t protest. He takes in another breath. 

“I shouldn’t have said those things this morning,” he finally starts, “and I just want to offer my sincerest apologies. I don’t expect you to forgive me right away, and I understand. I was out of line, and I regret everything I said. You did—you did such a fantastic job today, Persephone. I shouldn’t have doubted you, and you have nothing to apologize for.”

Persephone’s face suddenly grows a bit sullen, and she looks down at her desk. Again, she begins to fiddle with her fingers. 

“Will you let me make it up to you? You’ve been working so hard these past couple of weeks, we both deserve something nice, I think,” Hades says. When Persephone gives him a pointed look, he lets out a weak chuckle. “Okay, you. Not we, you.” 

When the corners of Persephone’s lips twitch a little, Hades’ heart soothes in his chest. It’s not much, but God, is it something. 

“What were you thinking?” she finally asks. 

Hades hums, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “There’s a restaurant in the back of my mind. They’ve always got a table for me,” he tells her, chancing a wider smile. “My brothers are banned, but they love me.” 

Finally, finally, Persephone lets out a small giggle. “I can fix that, if you’d like,” she snickers. 

Hades doesn’t realize how much he’s missed her laugh and genuine smile until then. He doesn’t think he can go without it again, or be the cause of why it isn’t there. He only ever wants to make her smile, he decides. 

“Please don’t, they make really good tiramisu.”

Persephone laughs some more, but concedes with a nod. “Okay. Fine. You’re not off the hook though.” 

Resisting the urge to pump his fist in joy, Hades opts to grin at Persephone. “Understood. I’ll...see you after work then?”

All it takes is Persephone’s nod of confirmation, and that cute little smile of hers, to send him reeling once more. 

Knowing that he gets to take Persephone out (not out, out, despite how bad he wishes he could say that) lets Hades tackle the rest of the day with ease. He counts down the hours, minutes, seconds until he can finally go save her from her small office. Or really, save himself from his own. When Minthe asks if she can come over that night, he has to tell her no. He doesn’t think telling her why is such a smart idea, so he doesn’t. She pouts about it, but surprisingly doesn’t argue. She only returns to her desk to sulk, just a little.  

Regardless, Hades revels in his elation. The tension from before seems to be fading away. The deep seated hope that things will be fine returns. 

 

 

Persephone is more reserved than usual. The car ride to the restaurant is quiet, but at least Hades doesn’t feel like he’s choking on the apprehension anymore. But, when they’re finally seated at the table he’d called ahead about, Persephone looks a little boxed off, a bit frightened to be there. 

“Hey,” Hades says carefully. “You okay?”

Persephone glances back at him, eyes wide. Those precious eyes. 

“Sort of,” Persephone says, “not really.”

Hades frowns. “What’s wrong?”

Persephone seems to sigh, pulling into herself, closing herself off. “It’s just—weird being here. I feel out of place.”

Hades, for a moment, immediately wants to brush off Persephone’s worries. But then he sort of gets it. After all that Persephone had told him while they spent time together, whenever it wasn’t awkward, tension-filled, or cut short by Minthe. He knows the environment she grew up in, knows that bringing her into an environment he’s used to probably isn’t easy for her. He sighs, and takes the chance to reach and place a hand over hers. Beneath it, her hand twitches, but still remains. Hades sees her shoulders release their tension, and he smiles a bit.  

“Kore,” he says, “you probably belong here more than any of the other people in here. They’re all pretentious, and rude, and I know for a fact that most of the people here don’t tip well.”

Pride courses through Hades when Persephone laughs at him. 

“Then why do you come here?”

Hades shrugs. “Like I said; good tiramisu.”

Persephone smiles at Hades, and gives him a small roll of her eyes. 

When a waiter comes up, he lets him take their order, before they’re left alone to their own devices yet again. Hades knows that there are words bubbling in his throat, aching to come out, so he gives in to their will. He had to eventually.

“Persephone,” he starts carefully. She looks at him all the same, giving him the same look she always does, full of intense focus. “I just—I know I said so earlier, but I truly am so, so sorry. I think we’ve both been...on edge working on this project. But you didn’t deserve that. Not one bit of it.”

Persephone’s face softens before him. His heart does so as well. 

“I just don’t want you to think I was angry with you. I promise you, I wasn’t. More with myself. It’s been—it’s been a long few weeks. But again, I didn’t mean it—I’m proud of you, and I’m happy for you and...you and Hermes.”

Oh shit. Oh shit. He didn’t mean to say that, and from the way Persephone flushes, she wasn’t expecting it. Both of them flounder a little, and Hades can’t think of a way to backtrack. 

Oh,” Persephone says, “I didn’t know—I  didn’t think you knew—”

“I mean! I just—I might’ve heard, you know, people like office gossip, I just!”  

Hades is lying, but he doesn’t know how to say I eavesdropped on your boyfriend? Your boyfriend? Is he your boyfriend now? He hates the idea of that being true. 

“I didn’t really mean to keep it from you,” Persephone tells him, eyes down on the table. 

“I didn’t really mean to find out.” 

The two of them share a sigh. The jealousy Hades had been feeling subsided into a numbing feeling that thrummed from his core every so often, right after he lashed out on Persephone. After seeing that look on her face, he decided it wasn’t worth it. They both had someone. Hurting her because he can’t contain his shitty feelings isn’t worth it. 

“I’m happy for you too, by the way,” Persephone speaks again. They meet eyes once more. “You and Minthe. An Aquarius wedding. Nice.”

“What?” Hades says, and then it dawns on him. She wasn’t the only one keeping things secret, and he gulps. “Oh.” 

“If I don’t get an invitation, I’ll be very upset,” Persephone continues. The chuckle she gives is less than sincere. 

“Oh,” he says sullenly. “Yeah. I—yeah.”

Furrowing her brow, Persephone frowns. “You don’t sound very happy…” 

Hades can’t find the right words to say I don’t know if I am. In all honesty, Hades has been asking himself for so long whether or not he’s genuinely happy. Minthe is—Minthe is familiar. Before she changed, she was sweet. She worked for him for a year or so before anything even happened, and she’s familiar. A constant. They depend on each other. 

Cronus liked her, and Minthe liked him. But somewhere down the line, Hades began to understand Rhea’s questioning of Are you sure? One of the last things Cronus did before he passed was make sure Hades had no choice. 

Regardless, nothing unseated the deeply rooted fear that if he displaced Minthe, nothing, or nobody would come to fill her spot. He loved her. He loved her. He wanted to love her, and be loved in return. Hades has just never been sure if that’s what he’s getting at all. 

Familiarity. 

That’s what Hades has settled for. 

Hades doesn’t answer Persephone, and he doesn’t get the chance to. The waiter comes back with their drinks, and Hades has half the mind to thank him for getting him out of responding to Persephone. All he wants to do is sit there, enjoy her presence, make her laugh some more. 

So, he does. He suggests his favorite meals (at least the ones she can eat), tells her cheesy, stupid jokes. She laughs at every single one of them. The more she loosens up, the happier Hades is, the more pride he feels within him. He did that. He’ll forever count it as an accomplishment, making her smile and laugh. 

Okay,” Persephone says at some point, mouth completely full as she tries to contain her giggles. She swallows, and grins, saying, “This is really good tiramisu.”

Hades grins wickedly at her. He’s happily scarfing down his own, humming with every bite of the delectable, smooth tiramisu he loves so much. “Never doubt me again, Miss Kore.” 

Persephone sticks her tongue out at him. 

“It’s the perfect comfort food, don’t you think?” Hades asks then. He slows down, wanting to cherish his dessert. But, he sees the look of concern draw over Persephone’s face. 

“Yes, but,” Persephone sighs, her voice taking a serious turn, “Hades…”

There’s his name again. His heart soars, at least until—

“Are you okay?”

A loaded question. There are a million ways Hades could answer it, and a million ways he can say no. But, there are only a few ways he can lie. He digs for one. 

“I don’t think anyone is truly okay,” he says, a weak attempt at a joke. “But, at this current moment, yes. I’m okay.”

“And in other moments?”

Hades sighs. “Persephone,” he mutters, “I don’t want to bore you. That’s what my therapist gets paid for.”

Persephone frowns then, her lips pulling into the saddest little expression Hades has ever seen. 

“But isn’t that what friends are for too?”

A painful sting drags through Hades’ chest. She cares, and she cares so much. Even after all that he’d said to her today, the way he yelled, and hissed, and acted so damn petulant. She still cares. 

“I don’t think I deserve your friendship after today,” Hades says honestly. 

Persephone lets out a small scoff. “You’ll make it up to me,” she says. “If you let me be your friend, I think I’ll be able to forgive you.”

“That’s not fair,” Hades huffs. 

“Life isn’t fair.”

Persephone puts on a sly smile then, crossing her arms over her chest. Still, when she speaks again, her voice is as tender as ever. 

“You just—you didn’t snap for no reason. I want to make sure you’re okay.”

Hades sighs, mostly to himself. She’s not wrong. But, he can’t unload all of his midlife angst on her. Not when she has so much to do with it. 

“It’s all work,” Hades tells her. “I promise.”

Persephone looks like she doesn’t believe him, he can see it in her eyes. But she doesn’t pry any longer, not like the rest of the people in his life would. Everyone pries not for his benefit, but for theirs. Persephone doesn’t. Not because she doesn’t care, but so that Hades doesn’t feel cornered. He’s never been so grateful before. 

“If anything changes,” Persephone says then, “I’m here.”

Damn her. Hades hasn’t felt so cared for in so long. He knows that Hecate cares, but she’s also just a tad bit mean about it. It’s something he needs sometimes though, but this is nice. He didn’t know he needed this either, to make the perfect balance. 

Once their tiramisu is gone, and their stomachs are full, they finally call it a night. Outside, the valet brings Hades’ car around. An unbelievably serene silence falls over them once Hades has input Persephone’s address into his GPS. She had initially protested around a yawn that’d she’d be fine getting home on her own, but Hades insisted. (“Life isn’t fair, darling, I’m taking you home.”) But, at a red light, Hades looks over to see why the silence is so comforting. Persephone is fast asleep in the passenger seat, her mouth parted, just barely. The tiredness, the sorrow, everything from early, has left her face.  

She just looks peaceful. Hades feels his heart clench with an emotion he didn’t think he was still capable of. 

Persephone doesn’t wake up the entire way to her home, or even when Hades takes it upon himself to carry her up to her second story apartment when he finds out that her complex is lacking an elevator (is this all she can afford? He notes to talk about a raise in a couple of months). She lets out sleepy murmurs, clings to him, but Hades can tell that she’s completely gone. Holding her there in his arms though, God, it’s so lovely. Getting into her apartment is a bit of a struggle (why are women’s purses so fickle?), but he makes do, and finds the single bedroom there. 

Setting her down is the hardest thing to do. Not because of any physical difficulty, but because he just—he just wants to keep holding her, all bundled up in his arms, to keep her warm and safe. She looks so…small like this. Precious, even.

But, when he does (because that’s what he has to do), she curls into herself. She lets out some more sleep filled mutters, but never wakes. Not once. She’s so damn peaceful. 

She was exhausted, Hades knew this. It’s what he glossed over that morning when he flipped his shit. He wishes he’d gone easier on her. He hopes they can put it behind them now.  

After taking off her shoes for her, Hades watches her, just for a few moments, though. The flutter of her eyelashes, the twitch of her fingers. She is tranquil, yes, but she has these little movements to her as she sleeps. Like behind all the tranquility is unsettled grief and trouble. 

Still, Hades reaches out to brush a hand over her soft cheek. His heart jumps once more when she leans into it, and her lips twitch with a threatening smile. 

Hades lets out a breath. “Sleep well,” he murmurs. The urge to kiss her forehead is overwhelming, but he resists. He has to.  

On his way out of her apartment, a bookshelf littered with knick-knacks and photos catches his attention. It’s like one he saw in Demeter’s home. There he sees photos of Persephone and her friends. Hermes is the one he recognizes immediately of course. Hades is honestly a bit surprised when he sees that the other boy is the kid that Aphrodite loves to keep around. He had no idea Persephone knew him. 

Persephone, though—her smile lights up each and every single one of them. Hades doesn’t think he could go so long without seeing it again. The pull of her cheeks, her cute little dimples, the crinkles that show up besides her eyes. Hades’ heart trembles.

Beneath all of it, though, Hades can sense something else. In every photo, it’s there—that look of melancholy deep in her eyes. Like she’s smiling so wide to hide it. If it were in his power, Hades would do whatever he could to wipe it away completely. She doesn’t deserve to harbor it, to hold it deep down with feeble attempts to mask it. She doesn’t deserve sadness.

With a sigh, Hades finally pulls himself away. The ache in his heart settles itself. 

When he leaves, it's with a heaviness in his chest, and he sends a text he knows he shouldn’t. 

Hey. Coming over now, if that’s okay. Be there in 30.   

The reply is almost instant. 

Tadpole ♥️: Oh? I guess I’ll be waiting. See you soon 😘

Hades knows he shouldn’t. 

But they depend on each other.

If he’s going to be sad that night, he might as well try to lean on her.

Chapter Text

The first thing that Persephone notices when she wakes up is that she’s still in work clothes. They’re all wrinkled now, her shirt untucked, and the wire of her bra digging uncomfortably into her skin. 

The last thing she truly remembers is getting into Hades’ car. Everything after that is a blur. A few spots here and there pop in, but they’re so muddled in the exhaustion she felt the day before, she can barely piece it together. At least not right away. 

When she does though, Persephone sees Hades’ gentle blue eyes, hears his soothing voice coaxing her back to sleep when she wiggled too much in his arms. 

Persephone sits up in bed, her heart catching in her throat. 

Hades brought her home, carried her upstairs. Her apartment complex doesn’t have a dang elevator. She lives on the second floor. For some inexplicable reason, the floodgates slowly crack open. 

Persephone recollects everything they’d gone through, everything she’d gone through. She’d been trying so desperately to want Hermes. To not think about Hades when he kissed her, held her hand, cuddled her on his couch some nights. But, she couldn’t. No matter how hard she tried. So, understandably, she grew tense with Hades. Sometimes she couldn’t stand being around him, not after what happened with Minthe. Not because she was angry with him, but containing how she felt was growing increasingly harder and harder. 

Persephone just wanted it to end. She wanted it to go away.

But then—then yesterday morning happened. Her morning had already been so terrible; messing up her alarm, getting stuck in traffic, her phone freezing when she tried to tell Hades that she was in fact on her way. Then...then he nearly broke her dang heart, and she cried in her office like a child after everything was done. She didn’t know what would happen afterwards, but then he came in, apologized, and reeled her right back in. 

Dinner was no better. The entire time, her heart was drumming in her chest. He touched her hand, made her laugh, and made her heart sing like nothing had even happened. 

But now—waking up with the realization that Hades had carried her inside when he didn’t have to. He treated her so gently, and so kind. The glimpses she does have of it, she only remembers feeling safe, and warm, and so cared for. Persephone feels like she can’t breathe. The floodgates stop taking their time; they burst open, and Persephone feels like she’s going to cry.

A month of denying something is a lot harder than she had initially planned, and God, was it painful. Persephone can’t do it any longer. Not after remembering the warmth of Hades’ arms, and the faintest memory of his hand against her cheek. She can’t. 

It’s not fair to her, and it’s not fair to Hermes.

Persephone is undeniably falling for Hades. 

Fast, and hard. She has to start bracing herself for the impact, or it’ll hurt worse than anything she’s ever felt when she hits the ground. 

Well. Okay. 

Persephone showers until she prunes, thinking far too hard about things under the warm stream of water. When she’s finally out though, her mind is made. She knows what she has to do, and if she doesn’t do it then, she’s scared she never will. If she doesn’t—then, well, ten years from now she might be in a marriage where she constantly thinks about what could’ve been, had things happened in another place and another time. It wouldn’t be fair. Not to anyone involved. 

When Hermes shows up later that afternoon, he looks so happy to see her, and it absolutely breaks Persephone’s heart. She knows she’s about to be the reason he’s not smiling anymore, about to pull him back down to earth in the harshest way possible. At least she could make him happy for a little bit. 

“I know we weren’t able to hang out the other night, so I brought Space Jam, just in case,” Hermes is saying, already kicking off his shoes near the door and going to get himself cozy on the couch. Persephone’s heart continues to slowly crumble. 

“Hermes—”

“And then I was thinking we can go grab dinner or something?”

“Hermes, I—” 

“I was thinking about inviting Art and Eros, but ya know, I like spending time with you.”

“Hermes, I don’t think we can see each other anymore!”

The air is still. There’s a sharp, stinging silence that enters the atmosphere and it makes Persephone’s blood run cold. Hermes is in the middle of kicking his feet up onto Persephone’s coffee table, and he looks like he’s just been punched in the gut. Oh god. She never wanted to do this to him. This is everything that she feared. 

Slowly, Hermes lowers his feet and sits back up. He looks up at Persephone, who is frowning heavily with arms crossed over her chest, closing herself off. The slight crease between his brow chips away at Persephone. 

“I…” is all that Hermes really says.  

“I’m sorry,” Persephone whispers. Tentatively, she sits down next to Hermes. Not too close, but just close enough. “I—I know we haven’t labeled…whatever this is yet, so I needed to do this before we did.” 

Hermes stays silent for a moment. His face is almost unreadable. Almost. If Persephone looks close enough, she knows what truly lies underneath. Heartbreak. 

“Oh,” he says quietly. “I…okay. Can I ask why?”

Persephone winces. She looks down at her lap. She’s not good at lying. She never has been, especially not to her friends. “I—I have feelings for someone else.”

“Okay. Ouch.”

Hermes,” Persephone whines, looking at him with remorseful eyes. “I promise you—as horrible as it sounds—they were there before you asked me on a date.”

“So you said yes out of pity?”

“No!” Persephone groans to herself. This is what she feared. She knew, one way or another, this would happen and she wasn’t ready for it. She didn’t prepare for this, not completely. “No, Hermes, I—I just thought they’d go away. Hermes, you are so sweet, and so kind. You know how to make me laugh and you are always there for me. You’re everything I’d want in someone if I just—if I wasn’t so stupid.” 

Hermes finally meets Persephone’s eyes with his own. She absolutely hates the hint of a smile on his lips, despite how sad it looks.  

“Thanks for letting me know, I guess,” he says gently. Persephone’s heart weeps so pathetically when he lays a hand over hers. “Before you ask, I’m not mad at you.”

Persephone lets out a sigh, one of slight relief. 

“Does this hurt? Oh, a bunch,” Hermes adds, but still, he chuckles gently. “But we can’t help what we want. I might…need time to, ya know, get over you and everything. But you’ll always be my best friend, Perse.” 

Persephone’s throat begins to itch, and she can feel the hot tears springing to her eyes. “God, I hate you,” she mutters through a weak laugh, sniffling a bit. 

“Wow, one heartbreak at a time, please,” Hermes snickers. 

“You’re just so good! I just—god, why couldn’t I want you instead?” 

Finally, all the pent up emotions of all that she’d been going through break through. She sobs, tears tracking down down her cheeks. It racks her body even more when Hermes pulls her into his gentle arms, holding her right there against his chest. It’s just so Hermes of him. He’s sitting there with the broken heart that she just handed to him on a silver platter, and he’s still willing to hold her while she cries. All over this, and a man she can’t have. A man that isn’t him.

“I’m doing this as your friend, by the way,” Hermes says, voice soft, just before Persephone feels a pair of gentle lips against her forehead. She laughs through her tears, and lets them slowly wane away.  

Persephone is always in awe of her friends. She’s so grateful for them. She knows that if this were any other man, any other person she’d just admitted to that she wanted someone else over them, they’d hate her. They’d probably never want to see her again. But Hermes—he’s so great. Genuinely, Persephone wishes she wanted him back. Then her heart wouldn’t have to grapple with the fact that she wanted her boss, her engaged boss, whom she was so helplessly falling in love with. 

She’s falling in love with him. It all sort of hits her at once.  

When Persephone finally feels like she can’t cry anymore, she pulls back to look up at Hermes. He smiles down at her, still a bit sad and broken, but not unlike all the other smiles he’s given her. It’s still so incredibly warm and gentle. She’d kiss him one last time, just for the sake of it, if she knew it wouldn’t break his heart even more. 

Instead, she leans up to kiss his cheek. 

“You mean the world to me, Hermes,” she whispers gently, and wraps her arms around him to hug him tight. 

“And you called me a sap,” he huffs, but he hugs back nonetheless. “Also, I won’t like…ask who this other person is. But if they ever hurt you, or if you ever cry over them, let me know. I will gladly kick their ass for you.”

Persephone lets out a wet laugh and shakes her head at Hermes. “No you won’t.” 

“You’re right, I won’t. But at least the thought is there, and I can get Artemis to do it for me,” Hermes insists. They share one more laugh together, before they both find it in themselves to stand up. 

“I’m sorry again,” Persephone says, looking up at him with gentle eyes. 

“Has anyone ever told you that you apologize too much?”

Her heart tugs.  

“Yeah, actually.”

“Well, you should stop,” Hermes says, reaching to give Persephone’s hand a squeeze. “I think—I think I’m going to go sulk at home for a bit. Not over you! I was just…really excited to watch Space Jam.”

Hermes gives Persephone a knowing smile, which she returns. She walks him to the door, lets him put his shoes back on. Once the door is open and he’s standing in the hallway, Persephone sighs. 

“You know I love you, right?” Persephone tells him. 

“Of course,” Hermes says. “And I, you. Just…time, yeah?” 

Persephone hums. She nods. “Time. Take as much as you need.” 

With one last kiss to her forehead, Hermes bids his goodbye. He waves at her while he leaves, and Persephone is left alone once again with her heavy heart. 

The guilt isn’t as bad as she thought it would be. It’s there, but knowing that Hermes doesn’t absolutely hate her eases her mind so much. 

Persephone goes to wash her face free of tear stains. As she looks herself in the mirror, she wonders briefly how she got here.  

One month. One single month, and she’s found herself falling for a man she should have never even considered. Sure, what they had that night at the art gallery was hot, and fast, and probably wouldn’t have gone past the night. One of them would’ve been gone in the morning, she’s sure of it. 

But everything that came after—everything that came after was a product of every single smile, lingering gaze, and laugh they shared. It was a product of the fact that Hades was so heart-wrenchingly beautiful, inside and out. Was he perfect? Not in the slightest. He’s made his mistakes, and he’s paid the price for them, as had Persephone. But everything that he made her feel—that was perfect. Or at least it was damn near close.  

When Persephone is back in bed, she curls up with the stuffed animal that Hermes had ironically won for her a few years back. That makes sense now. Sighing, Persephone pulls out her phone. She opens Hades’ text thread, sees his contact name, and the texts they’ve shared so far. It takes a few tries, but she finally types a message she deems good enough to send. 

Hi. I just wanted to say thank you for getting me home yesterday. You really didn’t have to carry me inside, I swear. You could’ve woken me up, but still, thank you. I really appreciate it. 

For a few minutes, it goes unread. But when it finally shows that he did, her heart leaps. This time she knows why. 

Hades: Oh, hello. Finally awake I see, haha. It’s fine, really. It was like carrying a child. 
Hades: Not that you’re a child or anything. But you know.
Hades: Also, you murmured something in your sleep about getting me more food from your mom? Like it was oddly specific, but I think you should stick to your word. 

Persephone: I say a lot of nonsense in my sleep, you can’t trust a word that comes out of my mouth. 

Persephone lets out the most pathetic little laugh she can muster. She pulls the stuffed animal close to her chest. For a few minutes, she just sort of stares at her phone. At least until she dozes off. She’s not sure how long she’s out, but she wakes up to her phone dinging once more. 

Still on Hades’ text thread, she sees that it’s a photo from him. In her sleepy haze, she can’t make it out, not right away. 

After rubbing her eyes, Persephone looks at it again. When she does, she lets out a shout. 

“Oh my god!” 

In a second, her phone is flung across the room, and her heart is absolutely racing in her chest as she pants from the shock. 

On her phone, sent from Hades, is a photo of him. Standing in front of a mirror. Nearly naked. Hard in his hand. With the most teasing smirk on his lips. 

What. On. Earth?

Chapter Text

To: hades@pomtech.com
From: hecate@pomtech.com
Subject: Big Apple (haha) 

Hades, 

So, about that trip. 

If I’d had the chance to explain to you at work, I would’ve. But, you know. Such is life. So, yeah. About that trip. 

New York chairman really likes the idea of an Outreach program, and you know how you men get. Impatient. He wanted to sort of expedite the process for them, to be on the same wavelength as us. The offer wasn’t on the table for long, so I went ahead and agreed on the LA branch’s behalf. 

So, I’ve gone and taken matters into my own hands and arranged flight plans for Monday night. I don’t know how things went with Kore, but they want you both. If things went badly, I’m afraid that you’re going to have to bear with me for a few days. If they went well, great! Have fun in New York for a week! I was able to snag you a few off days. See the city, show her around. Be nice to her, PLEASE. Get back to me soon. 

Best,
Hecate 

PS. YOU’RE NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS, SO DON’T TRY. 

Sleep is still muddling Hades’ brain as he tries to process what the hell Hecate emailed him the night before, the glare of the white screen blinding to his groggy vision, barely awake as it is. He would have seen it earlier, had he not been trying to fool around with Minthe, and failing terribly once guilt seeped into his bones once more. 

Before he can wrap his mind around Hecate’s email, he realizes suddenly, that the bed next to him is empty. It’s cold too, and that means Minthe has been gone for a while then. Hades sighs so heavily, but he doesn’t know what else he should have expected. Minthe had been so adamant about last night, so eager to do something they actually haven’t had a lot of time to do. But, maybe it wasn’t time at all. Hades hasn’t been able to get very far with Minthe too many times in the past month, maybe once or twice. Most times, just like the night before, they got so close, and Hades would croak. Minthe huffed, and pouted a little, but she never really pressured him. That doesn’t mean she wouldn’t leave him alone in bed the next morning, without a warning, even in her own apartment. 

It was just that, this time around, Hades could still feel the weight of Persephone in his arms. He could still smell the scent of her hair, and hear her soft, sleepy murmurs. So, even with Minthe’s hand wrapped around him, he couldn’t go any farther—not with a good conscience at least. Even if he didn’t know how he felt about Minthe (he wanted to believe he loved her, truly), he knew he couldn’t continue with sleeping with her when another woman was on his mind. (God forbid he say the wrong name.)

When Minthe rolled over to go to sleep, Hades wanted so desperately to do the same. But he stayed up for far too long thinking about someone he shouldn’t be while his fiancée is breathing softly next to him, deep in sleep. He’d been doing that a lot lately. Then, waking up alone brought an uncomfortable feeling to his chest. He’d settled for getting used to this a long time ago. He settles for a lot when it comes to Minthe. 

But, the email. Re-reading it sort of helps, and by helps, it really punches him in the gut with the harsh realization of what Hecate just offered him up to do. An entire week in a city like New York with Persephone should sound like absolute fucking paradise. But, instead, it fills Hades with such dread and anxiety, he can’t get himself out of bed fast enough to leave Minthe’s apartment.  

He needs to be in his space, needs to do something to get his mind off of everything. 

Hades gets home to a place far too large for just one person. He never really took the initiative to offer Minthe a place there, didn’t want to until they were for sure, given how many close calls they’ve had. Well, he has his dogs. In fact, Cerberus is the first to greet him as he walks in. He scratches between his ears, under his chin, all the places to make his tail wag happily. 

“You been protecting the place?” 

He gets a succinct “Woof!” in reply.

“Good boy.”

It doesn’t take much for Hades to be cooped up in his office, leaned back in his chair as he puffs on a cigar that may have been far too expensive. This is so typical, so cliche for him. Hades just can’t help it sometimes. It’s nice to have the alone time that isn’t in his office at work. But, the familiarity is nice. Even sitting there though, all alone, he can’t stop thinking about her. The night before truly sent him reeling, out of control, searching for something to cling onto. Nothing seems to help, not even a glass of scotch he begins to nurse at some point. 

When his phone dings, Hades’ heart jumps with a pathetic hope that it’s Persephone. Then, it completely deflates when he sees that it’s not. 

Tadpole ♥️: Sorry for sneaking out this morning. Thetis called, meltdown over some guy. Miss you though, wish we could’ve done more last night ;) 

Hades sighs. Yeah, sure

He hates the bitterness that grows in the back of his throat, and types a response with little to no expression. 

Hades: Haha. It’s fine. 

Tadpole ♥️: Thinkin about you though 😘

Hades: Understandable, I’m hard to forget. 

Tadpole ♥️: how are you not picking up what I’m putting down? 

Hades: Well. 

Suddenly, a photo comes through. Minthe looks to be in a dressing room, and she’s down to nothing but her skirt, and her bra. Hades can’t deny that she’s attractive, of course, he spent a lot of years being very adamantly attracted to her. Even now, looking at the photo she sent ignites a small spark in his belly. Small. However, what really revs him up is, inevitably, the thought of Persephone. What would it be like if it was her sending hI’m a photo like this? What if could text her the things he wanted to do to her?

Well, fuck. The edge is there, the tension, waiting so patiently to be relieved again. Maybe he deserves this, just a little. 

But then, in the midst of it, Persephone does text him. His heart flips helplessly. He waits a few minutes to text back, doesn’t want to seem weird or anything. 

Minthe sends another photo. It’s right before Hades can respond to Persephone once more, but with her fresh on his mind, he doesn’t seem to see a better time to do this. 

The only problem is that Minthe is picky, and even worse, judgy. If he’s going to do this, he has to do it right. If he doesn’t, he risks the chance of her pouting over it, or even worse, mocking him. So, even though he’s not exactly proud, he spends the next ten to fifteen minutes trying so desperately to take the perfect photo. It only takes a few thoughts of his night at the art gallery, the things he’d like to send to Persephone, and a few pumps of an eager hand to get him hard. When he is, he tries different angles, different positions to make himself look as enticing as possible. 

Hades stands in front of the body length mirror in his office, because why not. His shirt is off, his pants long gone, leaving him in only his briefs bunched up under his erection. Hades has to stroke himself every so often to keep the fire alive, but when he finally feels like he has the right photo, he bites his lip. He returns to his text threads, and maybe, just maybe his mind is muddled with such arousal… 

He makes a fatal mistake. 

Persephone 💖: I say a lot of nonsense in my sleep, you can’t trust a word that comes out of my mouth. 

His thumb hits the send button before his mind can catch it. And when he does—well.

“Shit,” Hades says suddenly, his heart dropping to his actual ass. “Shit! Oh fuck! Stop sending, stop sending!”

His subconscious has thoroughly fucked him. 

 

 

Persephone sits there on her bed, her eyes still glued to her phone where it landed across the room. She’s only twenty-four, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have a heart attack, right? It has to be justified, because her boss who she is very much so falling in love with just sent her a nude.

It takes maybe five minutes, or maybe five hours to finally be able to move; she’s not quite sure. But her phone had went off a few times, and then went silent. So, when she finally gets up and picks up her phone, it nearly burns her. 

Persephone looks again and—holy sweet Mary mother of Jesus.

Underneath the photo, though, Hades has had a full on meltdown. 

Hades: I AM SO SORRY

Hades: THAT WAS NOT FOR YOU

Hades: PLEASE DON’T TELL HR

Hades: PERSEPHONE???

Hades: IM REALLY REALLY REALLY SORRY 

Hades: IM dddfi

Hades: IDHSI WMAN IT

Persephone does the most rational thing she can think of. She deletes the photo. Well, she does, after the image is seared into her mind. It’s kind of impossible for it not to be. Her mouth absolutely salivates at the sight of it. Persephone, without a doubt, drinks it all in. It’s just that—Hades is so dang good looking. Whatever sexual tension Persephone had been harboring grows tenfold. It was just the sight of him—his taut, broad upper-body, the muscles he beared, his rock hard—

She deletes it. She has to. 

Persephone: IT’S OKAY

Persephone: I DELETED IT

Persephone: I WON’T TELL HR I PROMISE

Hades doesn’t respond. He doesn’t even read the texts, actually. 

Persephone does whatever she can to move on from it all, but for the life of her, she cannot unwrap her mind from the entire ordeal. She needs to remember how to think of other things, but it’s not an easy feat. Not one bit. 

It takes every single thing she has in her for Persephone to not think about it at most points in the day. The erocticism of it all almost pushes down the jealousy she feels when she realizes that, of course, it never really was for her. She knows exactly who is was meant for, and the thought scalds her soul. The only thing that makes it a little worse is the email that Hecate sends her on Sunday evening, warning her of the slightly impromptu business trip she put together for her and Hades to attend. In New York. For a week. Persephone nearly weeps, facing the fact that she couldn’t catch a single-freaking-break. 

It goes without saying that Persephone has a lot on her mind. Ninety-percent of it is, inevitably, Hades and the curve of his—yeah. But, still. Persephone is filled to the brim with such stress, she doesn’t know how much more she can take. 

It’s so bad, that before the day can even really start on Monday morning, Persephone finds herself locked in a bathroom stall. She’s doing whatever she can to ease her mind. If that includes a five minute breather fifteen minutes into her day, then fine. It’s just—hard. She just managed to grapple with the fact that she’s so pathetically falling for her boss, and now this? Persephone will do whatever she can to mentally prepare herself for the very, very long week ahead. 

Persephone’s mind is still going a bit haywire, so much so that she barely notices when someone comes into the bathroom, the clicking of annoyingly high heels on tile unheard. It’s not until she hears the snarl of Minthe’s low, angry voice does she finally register it. 

“Thetis,” she’s hissing. She must be on the phone. Persephone swallows, biting her lip in a bid to keep quiet. “I swear to god, if I take another one of these tests and it comes out negative, I’m going to lose my mind.” 

Persephone’s brow furrows at that

“I just—I’m losing him. I can feel it. He looks at that little tramp, and I just—fuck. Okay, give me a fucking second.”

Persephone feels her heart begin to race in her chest, blood pounding in her ears as the anxiety begins rising deep within her chest once more. What is she talking about? What little tramp? What’s going on?

After a minute or so, Minthe speaks again. 

“Thetis—Thetis, oh my god, I don’t fucking care about Zeus right now. I just—how damn hard is it to do this? It almost happened once! And now that I’m finally trying…Thetis, no. You know Zeus won’t leave that hag.” Minthe sighs heavily. A few more minutes of nonsense pass before she lets out a loud groan that makes Persephone jump in shock. She almost knocks into the trash bin on the wall, but stops herself from making any noise. “Are you fucking shitting me! Jesus Christ. I know we haven’t been fucking lately, but it shouldn’t be this hard for him to put a goddamn bun in the oven.” 

Oh. Persephone has to slap her hand over her mouth to keep herself from gasping. She—she feels her heart ache a little, fracturing under the weight of news like that. Were Hades and Minthe trying? Maybe in time for the wedding? The timeline would make sense, right? Persephone tries not to sigh. 

She’s stuck in her stall, has to listen to Minthe grumble more about another negative test, about how Hades is leaving for a week so they couldn’t do anything then. When Minthe finally does leave, Persephone can’t bring herself to leave right away. Instead, she leaves her stall, and looks at herself in the mirror. 

“You,” she says, poking her reflection in the chest, “are a fool.” 

It takes a few more minutes for Persephone to finally leave. She makes sure the coast is clear before exiting the bathroom. It’s clear, for the most part, at least until she rounds a corner and bumps right into the broad figure she missed so much. 

“Oh!” she yelps. Instant flashes of the image he sent her cross her mind. 

He senses it too, because they both flush like mad, doing anything they could to not meet each other’s eyes.  

“Miss Kore,” Hades chokes out. “I—hello.”

“H-Hi,” Persephone mutters, eyes averted to anywhere but Hades’ face.  

“I—” 

“Is everything okay!” 

Persephone can’t stop herself from blurting it out. Hades never responded! She didn’t know what on Earth was going on, but they had a trip to go on that night, so they couldn’t exactly ignore what happened over the weekend. She looks up to meet Hades’ eyes, no matter how much it pains her (not really. In fact, looking him in the eye brings a very warm feeling to her gut, but she has to ignore it).  

“I—jeez. I’m sorry I never responded. If I’m being honest, I was kind of—you know, dying of embarrassment. I locked my phone in a drawer in case you were calling me names. Rightfully so.”

Persephone frowns. 

“Oh,” she says softly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken so long to respond myself. It was just…unexpected.” 

Hades doesn’t need to know that she cracked her phone screen throwing it across her room. 

However, the tension leaves Hades’ shoulders, just a little. He musters the smallest smile that he can, one that tells Persephone that things may be okay. 

“I’m really glad you don’t hate me,” Hades tells her. Persephone giggles. 

“You’d have to do something a lot worse for that to happen, Hades,” she insists. She even tries a coy smirk, which he gives a sheepish chuckle at. 

“I hope I can make it up to you in New York.”

New York! In these brief few moments she almost forgot. How, she’s not quite sure, but Persephone washes over with more heat and embarrassment. “Wow, yeah! I—I’ve never been out of the that far out of California. I’m really excited—!”

Hades manages another wavering chuckle, and smiles a little wider. Of course it makes her heart swell. 

“I—great. But really…are we okay?” Hades asks. Of course he would. But really, he deserves to know. 

“I’m…” Persephone sighs gently. “Of course, Hades. Trust me, I get it. That was a genuine mistake, it happens to the best of us.”

With one more somewhat awkward laugh, Hades scratches the back of his neck. “No, yeah, definitely.”

Persephone, of course, can’t tell Hades that she can’t stop thinking about it. Despite deleting the photo, she can’t get the image of the shape of his arousal, the way his body was flushed, and the stupid little smirk on his face as he cradled himself. She remembers when that was her hand, and how heavy he felt in it. She can’t tell him it left her so frustrated the entire night, and she couldn’t even bring herself to do anything about it. 

So. Yeah. 

There’s definitely a tension in the pit of her gut. 

In fact, once Hades leaves, it’s all that nags at her all day long. Persephone tries everything she can to get a grip on herself. As a result, she hides out in her office for most of the day. She’ll have to prepare herself somehow. 

By the end of the day, Persephone is somewhat ready to go. At least physically. Mentally? She’s still not quite sure. But, she’s as ready as she has to be. 

What she doesn’t expect though, coming out of her office, is to hear the yelling coming from down the hall in Hades’ office. Her curiosity piques; it’s Minthe and, obviously, Hades. She can’t quite hear what they’re saying, but it’s bad. Persephone wonders briefly if it’s over what she heard earlier? Should she ask Hades later on? Would that be too invasive? It’s just that she cares. She doesn’t want him to be upset. Maybe she can get her mother’s help, if it’s genuinely a problem. Demeter knows about these types of things. 

Still, she doesn’t catch much. 

There’s something like, “...with her ?!” from Minthe, and, “...tired of this!” from Hades. Persephone’s heart aches.  

Persephone is too wrapped up in her own thoughts to notice when Minthe comes flying down the hall. She’s in tears. A flash of worry washes over her. Not because she particularly feels concern for Minthe, but that’s just her. And if Minthe is crying, then is Hades okay? 

Minthe sees her on her way out though, and gives her the nastiest look she can manage. There’s venom in her green eyes, and so much hate running down with the makeup on her face.  

Persephone doesn’t dare ask. In a moment, Minthe is gone.  

In a few more, Hades is coming down the hall. He doesn’t look upset. There’s a scowl settled in his brow, but that’s it. No tears. No frown. 

“Hi,” Persephone says carefully. She has to pretend she didn’t hear any of that. At the sight of her though, he musters a smile. 

“Hey,” he says gently. “You ready to go?” 

“As ready as I’ll ever be. I was about to leave without you, actually,” Persephone teases. 

“Wow, you were just going to leave for New York without me?” Hades jokes, laughing that sweet laugh Persephone can’t seem to get enough of. 

“Maybe,” Persephone huffs, but her lips betray her by twitching into a small smile. “You’ve seen it all before, it’s completely fine.”

“No offense, little lady, but you wouldn’t last a day in New York by yourself. If the tourists don’t get you, the locals will.”

Persephone scoffs, and even hits Hades’ shoulder playfully as they walk towards the elevator. “Are you calling me weak?” 

“Not one bit,” Hades says. His lips grow into a devilish smirk, and with too much confidence, he pulls on the collar of his blazer and puffs his chest. They’re ready to go. In just a bit, they’ll be on the plane there. Persephone’s anxiety grows, but the look on Hades’ face, and those eyes he’s giving her—they make it all okay. “But this is my territory, sweetheart.” 

 

 

Persephone is going to kill Hades. 

“You never said anything about a private plane!”

Hades only smirks. He’s handing their luggage off to be loaded for them, looking so dang suave and handsome in his sleek black sunglasses and the turtleneck he decided to wear that day. Persephone swears it’s the same one he was wearing the day they met. Persephone looks up at the jet they’re about to board, and frowns so heavily. 

“The rich are killing this planet.”

Hades lets out a bellow of a laugh. “Let me have one thing, Persephone, please.”

Persephone still pouts, even crosses her arms over her chest. “You have many things, Mr. Hades Olympus of Pomegranate Tech Company.” 

Hades pushes his glasses down his nose to eye Persephone. God, he’s so cute, with that stupid little smug grin of his. He only chuckles though, and Persephone is left with her stomach doing helpless little tumbles as they finally board the plane together.

In all honesty, it’s nice. Persephone has only seen stuff like this in movies, and never once in her life did she imagine she’d ever be partaking in something like this. On a private, luxury plane to New York with one of the richest men on the planet. Genuinely, it all sort of hits her at once. Hades is that guy. From what she’s seen, he’s not as bad as people say his brothers are (sure, maybe she researched them all one night soon after being hired. She was curious), but it’s still—still almost too much. 

But, as she settles into one of the far too comfortable seats, nerves begin to take over her. Persephone’s leg is shaking, actually, and she begins to anxiously twiddle her thumbs together. Hades seems to catch this, and moves to take the seat next to her. 

“Hey,” he says, voice so soft. “Jokes aside, are you okay? With this?”

Persephone swallows. When she speaks, her voice wavers more than she’d like it to. “Y-Yeah, I—this is all fine, it’s just—”

Hades frowns, genuine concern lacing his brow.  

“I’ve never been—been on a plane.”

Persephone has never had any reason to leave far from California, or really, the means of doing so. She drove to Vegas with her friends on her twenty-first birthday, and that’s about as far as she’s gone besides going to college up north. So, the anxiety she feels is finally settling within her. She’s shaking, just a little. Persephone knows she should have prepared better, but in her defense, she’s had a lot on her mind, and this wasn’t exactly planned with much time in advance.  

But, Hades is sitting there, looking at her with these caring eyes. Persephone’s breath catches in her throat for a different reason when he takes her hand, and laces theirs together. The response is almost instant—her nerves begin to dissipate, her leg ceases its restless shaking slowly over a few moments. Her heart trembles to a calmer speed. Persephone looks up to meet Hades’ eye, and she can’t believe that he’s able to do this to her. Calm her down with one single touch. 

“It’s okay,” Hades says so gently. “I’m here, okay? You’ve got my hand to squeeze if need be.”

Persephone has never been so fond of someone in her entire life. 

When the plane finally does take off, she takes up on his offer. The feeling in her gut, the one that reminds her of rollercoasters and dreams of falling off cliffs, is not kind to her. She has to clench her eyes while it happens, and moves to grasp onto Hades’ entire arm so tight until finally, the feeling wanes. 

Opening her eyes, Persephone looks up to see how close she’s gotten to Hades. Their faces are close to one another, and hers heats up so fast. They both let out these nervous chuckles, and Persephone forces herself to pull away from Hades and give him his space. But, one look out the window offers Persephone a breathtaking sight. She gasps, staring down at all the lights that are flickering to life with the setting of the sun. The plane is curving over the ocean, and the glow of the sunset offers her something she never thought she’d get the pleasure of seeing. 

“I think I found something that beats the view from your building,” Persephone says gently, and looks back to see Hades wearing such a sweet smile as he settles into his seat.

He doesn’t say anything, really. He only gives a gentle hum of a chuckle. 

Persephone does what she can to relax. After a while, it’s not so bad. 

In fact, after a while, she’s fast asleep on Hades’ shoulder. 

Chapter Text

It doesn’t take much for Persephone to feel bad about calling Hades a Yankee so often. Because, as it turns out, New York really is an amazing city. 

They don’t get to experience much of it at first, but the drive from the airport to the hotel they’ll be staying at (that Hades apparently actually has a penthouse for, Jesus Christ) shows Persephone the city that never sleeps in the early hours of the morning. She’s still tired, but she soaks it all in. Being so far away from home feels scary at first, maybe even a little terrifying, but Persephone can’t deny how fast she’s falling in love with all of it just like Hades already is.

They’re only allowed a few more hours of sleep before they’re ushered to the New York Branch of Pomegranate Tech. At least, this time around, when she gives a presentation to a bunch of men who clearly underestimated her from the moment she walked in, she doesn’t have to be upset with Hades. In fact, it’s significantly better this time. She lets her passion for the project exude from her, and is so happy when everyone seems on board. 

It really does mean a lot to her. Working on this with Hades has been such an honor. Even if it means being cooped up in an office building all day, working out logistics with their team who know the area so well, Persephone wouldn’t trade it for the world. Especially not when Hades keeps giving her these little, proud glances that make her heart do giddy little jumps in her chest.

At the end of their long day, Persephone can feel the exhaustion in her bones, but still, her mind is restless. They get back to the penthouse which is absolutely stunning. Persephone had never slept in a bed so comfortable before, she almost doesn’t want to wake back up. 

“Hecate promised us a few days off,” Hades is saying as they walk back in. He shrugs off his coat and hangs it up on the rack near the door, and Persephone hums at him. “Sooo, I was thinking, I show you around tomorrow? Seeing as after that, we’ve got three consecutive days of boring business meetings.”

Persephone perks up. “That sounds...great. I’d love to.”

Hades grins widely. 

“Uh, great. Okay. I’ll put together a little itinerary.”

Holding back a snicker, Persephone nods. “Okay,” she says, and then quietly adds, under the hush of her breath, “nerd.”

Persephone giggles so helplessly, and rushes off towards her designated room while Hades yells after her. “I heard that!” Despite the mock offense, there’s amusement in his voice. 

She’s still laughing to herself once she’s in her room, but manages to calm down after a few moments. After she’s caught her breath, Persephone lets out a small, wistful sigh to herself. 

Even though there’s so much tiredness still seated deep within her, Persephone can feel a little bit of a buzz coursing through her. Even as she gets ready for bed, dressed in her cute little kitten pajamas that she thought were very appropriate to bring, she can’t settle down completely.  

She’s restless. It’s just that a lot has been happening—making her mind go more than a little erratic. The past month has not been completely kind to her. Persephone has had her moments, but for the most part, she can’t seem to keep her mind wrangled in for one second.  

Truthfully, the worst thing to happen had to have been the photo. Persephone still keeps thinking about it at the worst times in the day. She couldn’t unsee it earlier, watching Hades be so authoritative, leading part of the meeting when she’d done her part. The voice he used, the motion of his large hands, and the way he stood broad and tall. 

Persephone just couldn’t believe she almost had that, and all of it. She had been so—so close, only to have it ripped from her grasp at the last second. Still, the universe had found a way to deliver some form of grace on her in the form of a photo, even if it wasn’t meant for her. 

As she lies there in bed, Persephone can’t help but let her mind veer off to it again. She’d been harboring the tension it built in her for a few days now. But that small spark in her belly is lit, and as she closes her eyes, she can still see it clear as day. 

Persephone wants so desperately to run her hands down his chest, across the span of his body, down to where her hands once were. Persephone knew from the brief moments that she held him that he was big. But God, seeing it really did something to her. She feels guilty, but thinking about it really send a jolt through her body that makes her legs clench shut. 

A small gasp leaves Persephone’s lips as she settles into her bed, letting the soft sensation of the comforter send chills across the length of her body. Even so, her senses feel aflame, her body growing warm with each passing thought of how Hades stood there with such confidence, his hand wrapped around his shaft. It wasn’t even that he’s so incredibly sexy, but he’s beautiful. There isn’t a thing about him that Persephone thinks she can ever learn to hate. Not the faint, stretched scars he seemed to have on his torso, or the dusting of hair above the base of his cock, or how shaggy his hair gets when he doesn’t style it. 

Persephone doesn’t really notice what she’s doing until her hand is slipped beneath her shorts, and she’s cupping the warm mound of her dampening arousal. The gentlest whimper spills from her lips when she realizes how turned on she is, all so sudden, just from thinking about that cursed photo.

Persephone is restless. Maybe, for all that she can hope, this will make it all fade away. 

She lets her fingers find their way to her clit, and she’s always been so sensitive. As soon as she gives a few gentle rubs, Persephone is already moaning quietly. To her, it feels like even that’s too loud, so she uses her free hand to clasp over her mouth. If Hades hears her, if he even has an inkling of suspicion of what she’s doing, she might die of embarrassment. 

Nonetheless, nothing stops her from dragging a finger through her folds, feeling how slick she is now. Her mind is nothing but Hades, Hades, Hades. What would she do if he walked through the door? If he saw her there, and insisted that he couldn’t resist her? Another muffled noise leaves Persephone’s throat at the thought. 

He’d come in there, and Persephone would let him. She’d let him crawl into bed with her, spread her legs, get her bare for just him to see. She’d let him touch her, gently run his thumb across her clit. Maybe she’d even let him use his mouth, relish in the feeling of his tongue lapping at her core. 

“Ha—” Persephone barely manages to breathe into her palm, her hips helplessly bucking against her other hand. At this point, she’s got a finger inside of herself. Her hands, pathetically enough, probably wouldn’t even come close to the feeling of Hades’. For a brief moment, Persephone curses herself for forgetting her (new) favorite toy at home. Maybe she bought it after meeting Hades, and maybe it just so happened to be his favorite color (and the color of his eyes). She just didn’t think she’d have a reason to have it in New York! On a business trip of all things! 

Her hand will have to do. In fact, it’s not doing so bad. Persephone is practically making herself writhe, just by thinking of all the things she’d let Hades do if he walked in right then. She knows, for certain, she’d let him have her. Completely. 

It’s the thought of Hades towering over her, pushing into her that has her biting down on her hand to stop her from shouting his name as she comes. The two fingers now inside of her push her through it, curling, and thrusting, and doing every little thing she absolutely adores as her chest rises and falls. Her mind is so muddled with lust and the sound of her own breathing. 

By the time the last waves subsides, she’s panting heavily. 

The room is empty. Her fantasy, sadly enough, was just that. 

A fantasy. 

Persephone sighs with shame, and slight disappointment. 

She has to change her underwear, wash her hands, and fortify herself for an entire dang week with Hades. 

Dear God. 

 

 

Los Angeles is, for the most part, Persephone’s bane. Dealing with tourists, and traffic, and just so much in her own home is a lot. But, as she roams the streets of New York on Hades’ heel, eyes wide with such amazement, she sort of forgets how much she hates tourists. 

She’s never gotten to be one, really. So, if she’s going to be one at all in her life, now is her chance.  

“I can’t believe how amazing this city is,” Persephone is saying in complete awe. The first thing on Hades’ Amazing Itinerary was Central Park. So, of course they’re walking through it, and Persephone is soaking in every single bit of it. The greenery, the people, the musicians, and all of the dogs! 

“Remember when you made fun of New York,” Hades huffs, looking down at Persephone with a raised brow and all too smug smirk. 

“No, I don’t, actually,” Persephone huffs. She taps her chin in faux thought. “I remember, in fact, making fun of you.”

Hades gasps, and feigns offense. He even clenches his chest, grasping at his coat. 

“You know, an entire month working for me now, and you’ve been so cruel to me half the time,” he says with his faux sadness. The cute little pout he puts on does things to Persephone. “If you weren’t so damn good at your job, I think I would’ve fired you by now.” 

Pssh,” Persephone giggles, “yeah right! I’m too cute to fire.” 

Hades opens his mouth to speak, just for a second, before he just puts on a small smile and chuckles. “I suppose I can’t quite argue with that.” 

Persephone all but beams. Her cheeks heat up, not only with the stretch of her smile, but the way Hades never fails to make her feel. At this point, Persephone has genuinely considered just letting it happen. Letting the feelings run their course, and eventually, when they get tired of running, they’ll finally give up. She doesn’t know how soon that day will be, but she’s determined it’ll happen. One day. 

The two of them stop on a bridge over one of the lakes in the park. There’s a family of ducks wading through it, and Persephone acts like she’s never seen a single dang duck in her entire lifetime.  

“They’ve got babies, Hades!” 

“I see that,” Hades chuckles. He leans on the bannister, and Persephone looks over at him only to meet his eye. Yet again, she grows bashful under his gaze. She averts her eye, and tucks some hair behind her ear. 

“I just think it’s adorable,” she says. “They’re New York ducks. Yankee ducks.” 

“So now you’re making fun of the ducks?” Hades scoffs. 

“No, because they don’t deserve it,” Persephone insists. She giggles, and turns her nose up at Hades. He lets out his signature laugh, and Persephone nearly melts. 

“I can’t believe you’re saying I deserved it!” 

Persephone can’t help but move a little closer to Hades, smirking up at him so coyly. “You’re a scoundrel, remember?” 

Persephone doesn’t expect Hades to lean in as he squints his eyes at her. He enters her space, crouched over a little to meet her eye to eye as he returns her sly smirk. Her breath catches in her throat, and her heart begins to race. He’s so, so close. Persephone can nearly smell the mint on his breath, and the scent of his aftershave. It’s so intoxicating. 

“Only thirty percent, last time I checked.” 

Persephone gulps. “It was actually ninety-nine, remember?” Her voice almost comes out as a croak.  

For a second, Persephone watches Hades’ eyes move down, then back up to look into hers. Her gut is tumbling and twisting in so many different ways, but not much else gets to be said, because a shy voice comes from behind them. 

“Excuse me?” 

Both of them turn their head towards the source, and see a small, older woman in a coat that absolutely swallows her up. Persephone hates to be assumptious, but by the looks of her, she isn’t living an easy life. She doesn’t have much with her, nothing but a small laundry cart and—she’s holding a camera in her hand. It’s beat up just a little. But, then Persephone realizes what kind of camera, and maybe she gets a little too excited.  

“Hello,” she says kindly, smiling at the woman. 

“Hi,” the woman says, “do you mind if I take a photo of you? I like helping people capture memories, and you two look like a gorgeous couple.”

Persephone flushes. She looks up at Hades, only to see him already floundering, shaking his head at the woman. 

“I—no, we—” Hades is stuttering, but Persephone just giggles. 

“Of course! We’d love that,” Persephone interjects. In fact, she wraps her arm around Hades’ torso as they lean back against the bridge railing. She’s smiles wider than ever, her eyes absolutely shining. For a moment, Hades is stunned, but then she feels his arm draped over her and she has to stop herself from melting into his hold. 

The woman seems to fawn over them, and she raises the camera to snap a quick photo of them. In just a few moments, though, Persephone grows absolutely giddy when she sees it dispense the photo on a white sheet of film. The woman smiles, and hands it over carefully. 

“Thank you so much,” Persephone says happily, looking down at the developing photo in her hand. She looks back up though when Hades clears his throat. 

“Ma’am,” Hades says nervously. “Do you need something? Food, water, a few bucks?” 

The woman gives them a fond smile. Persephone even looks at Hades in a bit of awe. She was going to ask, because it’s just in her nature. Because of how she grew up, she knows these things when she sees them. It’s not hard to tell. But for Hades to do it—it was just unexpected, that’s all. 

The woman, though, just shakes her head. “Give to others,” she tells them. “I give memories; it’s the only thing that I can. Do your part, darling.” 

Then, the woman only nods her head before continuing on her stroll. Persephone watches her, still a little stunned. Her heart has never felt so full in her life, even with all she had to deal with in her own hometown. She wants to chase her down, insist that they help her, but she can’t get her feet to move. Besides, the woman is gone too fast, and it’s like she was never there at all. 

The only thing that convinces Persephone that she wasn’t a ghost is the now developed photo in her hands. When she looks at it, heart exhales. 

“Uh. What?” Hades says then when Persephone pulls herself away (very reluctantly).  

“I—” Persephone starts, but is really unsure of how to finish. She feels like crying, actually. She doesn’t know why, but she knows that she’s just been so incredibly moved. “I don’t know. But I…look.” 

Hades is looking over Persephone’s shoulder at the photo, and she feels an almost inexplicable feeling in her chest. It’s unlike before. It’s just—seeing her there, melded so nicely into Hades’ side tugs at her. She looks like she was made to be there. But then…the way Hades is looking at her. He didn’t care to look at the camera, apparently, and opted to stare down at Persephone with these fond eyes, and a subtle smile. 

Persephone has never seen him look at her this way before. 

She’s afraid, that if she showed anyone else, they’d say they were actually in love. 

Persephone composes herself. She clears her throat, and looks up at Hades with a pursed smile. 

“That was really nice of her,” she says. Her voice is soft. “New York seems to have some real characters. Nice ones, though.”

“It’s a good memory, I have to say,” Hades says. “You should keep it.” 

Persephone gives Hades a doleful smile with a slightly furrowed brow. However, she doesn’t protest. If this happened to be the only physical memory she gets to take home, it would be the best one. So, she stuffs the photo into a pocket on her purse and pulls her coat around herself. She sighs a little. 

“I feel bad that we couldn’t do anything for her,” Persephone says sullenly. They begin to walk off the bridge together, Persephone watching the ground as she steps slowly by Hades’ side. 

“I guess we’ll just have to heed her advice,” Hades tells her. Persephone only hums. “I mean, you’re doing such an amazing job with this project, Persephone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone as passionate about helping others as you are.” 

Persephone manages a smile, glancing up at Hades. “I just—I sorta always promised myself I would. If I ever got out, I mean,” she says softly.  

Hades seems to close himself off a little, a crease forming between his brow. He lets out a huff. 

“I wish more people were like you, Kore,” he says gently. He looks to meet Persephone’s eye, and her heart catches in her throat. She has too look away, or her own eyes might be too telling. 

“So,” she says then in lieu of a reply, “what’s next on your ‘itinerary’ then?”

Finally, Hades grins. 

 

 

Maybe Hades manages to blow Persephone’s mind, just a little. Because this is his turf, his home, he knows all the tricks of New York City, all the bends, nooks, and crannies. Persephone can’t really do anything else but watch in amazement as she rides his heel, when they’re not walking through MoMA, or seeing (and quickly leaving, dang tourists!) Times Square. 

But, genuinely, if Los Angeles wasn’t her home, Persephone thinks she’d be one hundred percent in love with New York. She just has to save some room for her home in her heart. 

The day slowly comes to an end, and Persephone’s feet are thoroughly aching. That doesn’t erase any of the fun she had with Hades, or how she giggled so helplessly at any joke he had to say. But, for the most part, she just watched him closely. Saw the way his eyes lit up at seeing familiar places, and how they sometimes lost that light as well. 

Persephone knows, she thinks. It’s how she felt back home with him. Revealing that part of your heart to someone is hard, but the more she thought about it, it was so incredibly easy with Hades. If she had to choose someone, it would’ve been him. 

“Don’t hate me,” Hades says on their way back to the hotel. All Persephone is thinking about is taking her shoes off, taking a nice bath, and relaxing for the rest of the night. Maybe she’ll take off the edge again—who knows? But, she squints up at Hades inquisitively. “But I have one more thing for us. We just—have to go change.” 

What?” Persephone says. She tries not to pout, but maybe she does, just a little. 

“I know! But I just—I wanted to show you one more thing,” Hades tells her, and his eyes are so pleading. How can Persephone say no to that?  

She concedes with a sigh, nodding her head. Hades beams, and when they get back to the hotel, they can’t get up to the penthouse fast enough. 

“I’ll be back, go look in your room!” Hades says excitedly, and makes a run for his bedroom. Persephone has never seen someone his age act like such an excited child before, but it makes her giggle as she watches him disappear into the bedroom across from hers.  

She follows suit, and goes into her room. That’s when she sees it. 

Sitting on her bed is a shimmering, black dress with lace sleeves and a tulle skirt. Just by looking at it, Persephone can tell it probably costs more than what she pays for rent, and her heart absolutely drops. She goes to inspect it, feels the soft lace and the torso of the dress. She may or may not tear up. 

In a moment, she picks it up, and rushes to Hades’ door. Persephone knocks on it frantically, and when it swings open, Hades is in nothing but his dress pants. 

Her mouth goes dry. 

For the quickest second, she forgets what she even went over for. 

“I—” she chokes out, but then frowns heavily. “What is this?” 

Hades chuckles. “A dress.” 

“Thank you, but why?!” 

Hades smirks at Persephone. He gives her a shrug.  

“Don’t know, thought we’d go swimming maybe,” he says teasingly. 

Persephone huffs. She wishes she could be angry with him but he looks so dang cute, and she has to keep herself from full on staring at his chest. In fact, she keeps her eyes locked on his as she glares at him. “Is this why you asked me what size I was?” 

“Maybe.” Hades lets out a snicker. 

“How much did this cost?” 

“Don’t know,” Hades says. He’s lying, and she knows it. “But you should go put it on. We’ll miss our reservation.” 

Hades,” Persephone whines, but she knows she’s in no place to protest. She may or may not steal one last glance at his chest before she drags herself away. Fine. She’ll get ready, and put on this absolutely gorgeous dress, but there’s no saying she’ll be happy about. 

Once it’s on though—maybe she’s a bit happy about it.  

Persephone looks herself over in the mirror, runs her hands down the front of her dress. She’s never worn something so beautiful before. She thinks she might cry looking at herself, so she takes a deep breath, grabs her purse, and leaves the room. 

Out in the living room, Hades is already sitting and waiting in a full tuxedo. Persephone feels that same feeling from before run through her, setting her senses ablaze. Her heart is absolutely aching for him. 

“Hi,” she says. Hades is looking at her, has been since she walked out, but he doesn’t say anything for a few long moments. But, after she speaks, he shakes his head and he smiles up at her. 

“Hello,” he says, approaching her slowly. 

“How do I look?” Persephone asks sheepishly. She looks down at her dress, suddenly feeling a little self conscious. This is what Hades is used to, what he probably sees every weekend. But looking back at him, seeing the way he smiles—maybe it means something different.  

“You—you look sufficient,” he says. 

Persephone can’t help but giggle. “Wow, thanks,” she snickers. “I—should we go?”

There’s a bob of Hades’ Adam’s apple, and Persephone has to push back the thoughts of wanting to kiss it. But, he nods. He leads her out of the room, and Persephone does what she can to prepare herself for the night ahead. She doesn’t know what’s going on, but the anxiety and excitement are bubbling within her. 

 

 

“You’re kidding me, right?”

Persephone thought the last restaurant Hades took her to was bad. But seeing the one they’re at now, the red carpets leading inside, the chandeliers, the likes of the people who are already there. There’s a ballroom and a live singer for crying out loud! It’s all a bit too much. If it wasn’t the private plane, or the penthouse, it surely has to be this. 

Persephone nearly panics. Looking around, she doesn’t see anyone who looks like her. This is what she meant before, about feeling out of place. Every time she walks into a room, and there’s no one she can immediately cling to, she feels like everyone is watching her. It doesn’t help that she’s on Hades’ arm, hers linked with his as they’re lead through the restaurant to their table. 

“What?” Hades chuckles, smiling down at Persephone. 

“I’ve been to two entirely too fancy restaurants in the past five days now. I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” Persephone huffs as they’re seated. The waiter seems to give her a judgy look, but Persephone ignores it completely. 

“I know, I just—” Hades sighs, taking his seat. “My mother loved this place. I wanted…I wanted to share it with you. You can’t deny that it’s an amazing place.”

He’s right. Persephone can’t deny that. In fact, it’s probably one of the most beautiful places she’s ever been. She lets out a small breath. 

“At least I’m dressed properly this time around,” she says gently, and Hades offers her his kindest smile. 

“I can show you where I threw up when I was seven, if it’ll make you feel better.”

Persephone gasps, but she can’t stop the laughter that immediately hits her from coming out as she gapes at Hades. 

“Oh my god!” she giggles, trying not to be so loud. By the looks she’s getting, she probably is, but she can’t bring himself to care. Not when Hades joins her, laughing the laugh she adores so much. Persephone loves it so much, because the dimples she loves to look for pop up, and the crinkles by his eyes as well. 

Sharing laughs with him makes her forget all the bad in the world, even for those short moments. 

“My dad wasn’t too happy about it, and I got in a load of trouble. But I did tell them I didn’t want to try the caviar,” Hades says once his laughter has subsided a little bit, but not completely. 

“I mean this in the nicest way possible,” Persephone says, “but your father sounds like a bit of a—of a— you know.

Hades’ eyes gloss over with something, for the briefest moment. His smile seems to waver, but doesn’t fade completely. 

“He was, sometimes,” is all that he really says. Persephone can see him fiddling with the silverware, so she swallows, and reaches for his hand. 

“Will you tell me more about New York?” she asks, eyes shining. 

Persephone is asking not only to change the subject, but because she’s genuinely curious. She wants to hear him talk about his home, his life, where he’s from. If he wants to. At least the good parts. She knows that he, like anyone else, even her, has things they want to forget. But, like anyone else, things they want to remember. Persephone wants to know those things. She’d listen to him talk for a thousand years if she could. 

But, Hades smiles again. Genuinely, without that hint of sadness.  

He talks, all throughout dinner. He tells Persephone the nicer stories of his childhood, the days he spent playing little league baseball, and the trips he’d take up north with his mother. Persephone listens so closely, giving him her undivided attention. She pays no attention to the stares they get from other patrons, and even the waiters whenever they deliver their food to them. 

Hades is in the middle of telling her a story of his tenth birthday, when he got his very first piano, and oh, how much he loved it. He adored it. But, during the move, it stayed at their estate, and he never replaced it. Persephone is even getting just a bit teary eyed when she hears it. 

Their plates are practically empty. But, when she hears it, her heart warms a little. 

“Oh, Yankeeee,” Persephone sings with a small giggle. 

Hades furrows his brow, at least until he hears it too. 

“Oh god,” he says, burying his face in his hands. 

“She’s singing Frank Sinatra! That’s your boy!”

Persephone can’t help but grin, and as she looks out towards the ballroom at all the couples who are dancing so close in each other’s arms, she can’t help but sigh so longingly. She’s not the dancing type, unless she counts all the dancing in her underwear she does on Saturday afternoons. But God, does her heart melt thinking about it. 

The sultry voice of the singer almost has her distracted completely, but then she feels Hades’ hand over hers.  

“Do you—maybe want to dance?” he asks when Persephone looks at him. Her heart absolutely swoons. “It’s a good song.”

“I—of course,” Persephone says softly. 

Hades smiles sweetly, and stands, offering his hand to hers. 

Once again, Persephone ignores whatever looks they may get as she takes his hand and follows his lead to the dance floor. They take their place there, and Hades stands in front of her. 

“I’ve never done this before,” Persephone says then. Her body buzzes when Hades clasps their hands for her. 

“It doesn’t take much, I promise,” Hades assures her. Then, his other hand is on her waist, and Persephone does all she can to not gasp at his touch. “Is this okay?”

Persephone nods as she gulps. She lets his gravity pull her into his orbit, placing her free hand on his shoulder. Her eyes can’t seem to pull away from his. The song pulls her back in, captures her attention. The singer is handling it with such care, cradling it, pouring her heart into it. 

You'll never know just how much I miss you.

A shudder of a breath leaves Persephone’s lips. She doesn’t really know what compels her to do it, whether it’s the song wrapping around her so gently, engulfing her in warmth, or just the desperate need to be close to Hades. Maybe it’s both. But she closes the gap between them, and rests her head on Hades’ chest. 

You'll never know just how much I care.

Persephone feels like she could cry when Hades wraps his arm tighter around her waist, holds her impossibly close. She grips his hand even tighter. She doesn’t want to let go. She remembers the night outside the bar, when she last got to experience this. It doesn’t compare, not one bit. Now she’s sober, and she can relish in it completely. 

“You know,” Hades says softly at some point, “it’s technically not Frank Sinatra’s song.” 

Persephone lets out a gentle laugh. “Well, it’s the only version I know,” she tells him. 

He doesn’t argue. Persephone can’t bring herself to say anything else either. Not when she’s so warm in his arms, and her heart is thrumming in her chest. She swears she can hear his. The sound of it melds so perfectly with the music. 

I speak your name in my every prayer.

There is something within Persephone. She knew as soon as she saw him in the gallery that he’d have some sort of a hold on her. Even if she never saw him again after that night, Persephone knew she’d never have unwrapped her mind from him. Not for a long while. But then something, some force brought them back together. Persephone should have known she’d be a goner from that moment. 

But now, as she sways to the gentle rhythm of the music there in his arms, she knows. She’s known. Persephone feels as if this is where she’s meant to be, right in his arms, feeling his gentle touch on her lower back. 

If there is some other way to prove that I love you.

Maybe Persephone gets a bit teary eyed. 

Maybe Hades is too. 

They’re there, pressed against one another so perfectly. Maybe they’re both in awe at the gravity of their situation. 

Maybe they’re one. 

But, maybe they don’t want the song to end. 

Persephone knows that when it does, she’ll have to pull back, and lose the warmth she’s helplessly falling in love with. 

At least, for the moment, it’s near perfect. 

At some point, Persephone finally looks up at Hades. She meets his eye, and she’s never seen them look so gentle before. The undeniable warmth in his icy eyes pulls her all the way in. They don’t smile, and they don’t laugh. It’s not a laughing matter. 

I swear I don't know how.

There’s something between them. Perhaps it’s the lull of the music, the way it seems to have hypnotized the two of them. Persephone needs to remember how to breathe properly. The rest of the restaurant has seemed to have faded away, and even the music sounds so distant now. All Persephone cares about is Hades, and his comfort, and his arms around her. 

She knows she realized before, and she knows it wasn’t something she could ignore. But now, it’s undeniable. 

Persephone is in love with Hades. 

You'll never know if you don't know now.

While everyone around claps for the singer, and the dance floor begins to empty, Persephone and Hades are stilled trapped in each other’s trance. Persephone can’t pull herself back, not until Hades does with a clear of his throat. 

When he does, her heart immediately longs for him. She wants to be back in his arms, hold his hand again, and she feels so pathetic. 

“I shouldn’t keep you on your feet any longer,” Hades says. There’s something in his voice that Persephone can’t quite make out. She doesn’t fight hard to try though. “We can head out now, if you’d like.”

Persephone doesn’t want to, no. But she knows if she stays any longer, she might cry, or do something else she’d end up regretting. 

After paying their bill, the two of them get a car back to the hotel. It’s unnervingly quiet. But, it’s not uncomfortable. It’s probably the exhaustion, and the settling food. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s their undeniable tension. For Persephone, it’s her longing to hold him again. 

Back in the penthouse, they go to their rooms, and stand outside their doors. For a moment, neither of them say a word. 

“Thank you,” Persephone finally says, so gratefully, “for everything today. It was all—it was all amazing, Hades.”

“Kore,” Hades says gently. “I promise you, the pleasure was all mine.” 

Persephone smiles faintly. “I’ll see you in the morning,” she tells him softly. “Good night, Hades.” 

“Good night, Persephone.”

It’s not long before they’re both in their rooms. Persephone leans back against her door, ignoring the dull ache in her chest. She hates not being near him already. She actually thinks she might cry. 

Even after getting changed into her pajamas, and trying so desperately to settle into bed, the same thing as the night before happens. 

But, it’s not the same. It’s not the lust, or an edge begging to be taken care of. It’s the need to be close to Hades again, to hold him and be held. It’s the painful want to hear him again. To hear more stories, and his laugh again. Persephone whines to herself. 

She can’t sleep. She won’t, and she knows it. 

Maybe it’s a mistake, or will be, but Persephone can’t help it. She gets up, and she places her hand on the doorknob. She still has time to turn back. 

With a deep breath, she turns the knob. 

At the same moment her door is opening, Hades’ is swinging open right across from hers. He’s standing there in a shirt and a pair of sweats, in his doorway with the cutest, sheepish smile on his face. 

“Hi,” they both say. They laugh. 

“Can’t sleep?” Hades inquires, and Persephone lets out a small chuckle. 

“California time,” she offers. Persephone knows that’s mostly a lie, but she can’t tell him I just needed to be near you again

“I—me too. Wanted to see if you wanted to…just hang around for a little while.”

Persephone smiles at Hades. She nods though, and steps out into the hallway.  

“I’ve got this phenomenal view from my room. You want to see?”

Nodding happily, Persephone follows Hades into his room. She doesn’t know how, but it smells like him, holds his warmth. She knows it’ll be so hard to leave. 

Hades leads them to the balcony, slides open the door so they can step outside.  

He was right. 

It is the most phenomenal view. 

“Oh my god,” Persephone breathes out, stepping up to the railing. The city lights flood the landscape, spread cross the horizon as far as the eye can see. There must be people out there, just like them, unable to sleep, for a plethora of reasons. 

She thinks of all the mothers and their crying babies, and the lovers wrapped up in one another, or the people who are worrying about the next day, and the next day. Her heart goes out to all of them.  

Hades stands next to her, so close that their shoulders touch as he leans over the railing. He’s crouched enough that Persephone doesn’t have to look very far up to catch his eye, and she smiles at him.

“It’s beautiful,” she tells him.  

“When I was younger,” Hades starts, voice gentle, “my mom used to take me to the highest points in the city. You can’t see many stars here, but she’d sit and count the ones we could see with me. It was usually when I was upset—it was a big enough task to keep my mind distracted long enough to forget why I was upset in the first place.”

Persephone’s heart weeps. 

“Do you miss your mom?”

Hades looks at her. His eyes are so soft in that moment, but she can see the sorrow deep within them. “All the time.”

“I know it’s not the same,” she tells him, “but I always find myself missing mine too. It sounds stupid, because it can’t compare, I just—”

Hades lets out a breathy laugh. “Don’t ever say anything you feel is stupid.” 

Persephone smiles sadly.

“I just…I always feel so bad, not going home. But I spent so long trying to get away. I spent so many nights studying, and stressing, and crying because she was so—so overbearing. She almost didn’t let me go to Stanford,” Persephone says, sighing heavily. “So I just…I always hated the way she raised me. But I look back now, and I look at you and the way you talk about your mother, and I just—I don’t think I’d be who I am today if it weren’t for her…”  

A few moments of silence pass, but then Hades is grabbing Persephone’s hand again. She doesn’t realize until then that her eyes have grown wet, and she lets out a weak chuckle. “I’m sorry,” she mutters. 

“What did I tell you?” Hades huffs. 

“I know,” Persephone says, and sniffles a little. “You’re going to have to give me a while to kick the habit.”

“Kore,” Hades says gently, and squeezes her hand, “I don’t know who convinced you that you have to apologize for just existing, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to have someone barge into my life the way you did.” 

God. God.

“I think I’m homesick,” Persephone tells him then. “Don’t get me wrong, this city is—it’s amazing. I’ve never been so happy to be somewhere but I...I miss my mom. I miss my friends.” 

When Hades lets go of Persephone’s hand, she almost frowns, but then his entire arm is wrapped around her and she nearly weeps. She melts into his grasp, finally letting herself do so. In the wind of the city, she needs this. She needs to feel his comfort and the most pleasantly suffocating warmth he emits. 

Hades just feels like home. 

“I’m sure they miss you,” Hades says, but then his voice grows quiet, “I’m sure—I’m sure Hermes misses you.”

Persephone’s heart stops. He didn’t know. Of course he didn’t, why would he? She swallows thickly. 

“Oh,” she mumbles. “Hermes and I…we’re not seeing each other anymore.”

It doesn’t take much to feel the way Hades tenses. She looks up at him, and his face is almost unreadable. She can’t pick up the way the corners of his lips are twitching. 

“Oh,” Hades says simply. “I’m sorry to hear that.” 

“It’s okay,” Persephone insists. “At least you’ve got someone at home missing you.” 

The words taste bitter as they leave her mouth. She’d almost forgotten about Minthe, but the thought of her knocks her back ten feet. Everything she’d been feeling that night suddenly feels more painful than it should be. Their shared touches, shared looks—they were nothing. Minthe is in the way. Just as she always had been.  

Persephone was looking at Hades all this time, but he wasn’t looking at her, was he?

“Uh—” Hades says then. He sounds nervous, sounds a little pained. “I’m not too sure about that, actually.” 

Persephone frowns. “What?”

“We—we’re on thin ice. I actually think it might have broken already.”

Persephone doesn’t know what she’s feeling in that moment. She’s not sure if it’s elation, or fear, or a mixture of ten things at once. She doesn’t want to hear that things are bad, but doesn’t she? Persephone just doesn’t want to see Hades hurt. Doesn’t want to hear that his heart has been broken. That fight that they had—whatever it was—she doesn’t want it to be the reason he’s hurting. That’s the last thing she wants. 

“I’m not going to bore you,” Hades huffs, “but it’s just. We just booked that venue, and I’m not too sure if it’s happening anymore.”

The thing is, Persephone doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that the fight might’ve finally broken them. Cronus wasn’t around to stop Hades from snapping, giving up on what everyone else wanted for them. It was always what they wanted. Never him. 

It was Hades, pushed to his wits end. 

He cracked when Minthe called Persephone a whore.

“I didn’t know you were going with her!”

“Minthe—”

“Maybe if that little tramp wasn’t making her way around the office, I’d be okay with this!” 

Hades couldn’t take it. After years, and years, and years of dealing with her, and his father, and Her And His Father, Hades snapped. He could take the hits, had been doing it his entire fucking life. For his brothers, for his mom, for the sake of everyone else. But he’d be fucking damned if he’d let Persephone take the brunt, even if she didn’t even know. 

They fought. And they fought, and fought, until Hades found himself saying, “I can’t fucking do this anymore, Minthe. I won’t. I—fuck. Forget it. Forget all of it, alright? I’m so fucking tired of this. I’m done! I’m done.”

Maybe it was an ambiguous thing to say. Maybe things weren’t clear. Hades didn’t give Minthe the time to beg and cry before he told her with his sharp voice to Get Out. But as far as he knew, and now as far as Persephone knows, things didn’t look too well. At all. 

“Hades,” Persephone says. She leans into him, doing the best she can to comfort him. But Hades lets out a small laugh when Persephone cups his cheek, puts his hand over hers and shakes his head. 

“You’d be surprised to know I’m not too beat up,” he tells her. “I—it’s weird. I don’t know.”

Persephone sighs. “Remember what I told you?” she asks. “I’m here for you. If you need me.” 

She lowers her hand, and Hades almost pulls her right back in. 

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” Persephone adds. “And happy.” 

Persephone means that, wholeheartedly. Minthe or no Minthe—she wants Hades to be okay. 

Somehow, as he looks into her eyes, Hades can see that.

“I’m okay,” he says honestly. “And I am happy.”

“Even if your wedding is on the line?” 

Hades pauses. He doesn’t say anything. 

In that moment, he meets her eyes. Persephone stares right back. The gravity of it all, of the two of them, drags them closer together. Behind them, the city lights are twinkling, so beautiful, and almost egging it all on.  

As it’s happening, Hades listens for that voice to tell him to stop, don’t, you’ll regret this. For the first time in his life, it’s silent. It’s as if it wants this too.  

It’s unlike the night at the art gallery. When it happened so fast, almost too fast to collect. No, they soak it in this time. 

Persephone glances at Hades’ lips, and he does the same to hers. The world around them has seemed to slow down. 

It’s as if the moment the two of them said nothing may be there to stop him—no Hermes, and Minthe being on the rocks—that was it. 

“Right now?” Hades whispers. His voice is so low, almost inaudible to Persephone. But she hears him nonetheless, especially as he says, “Right now I’m happy.”

The walls that have been cracking for the past month finally break. Neither of them know what perfect is. They’ve both made their mistakes, and they know they’ve paid for them and will continue to for the rest of time. They’re human, after all. 

But humans do as humans will. 

In that moment, as Hades brings his hands to cup Persephone’s cheek, and she grips onto the fabric of his shirt, they’re so impossibly close. They’re waiting for permission, from whoever will grant it to them. But, they’ve been so, so patient. They shouldn’t have to wait any longer. 

So, they don’t. 

Hades pulls Persephone nearer, and closes the distance they’ve been fighting against for so long now. There are no walls in their backdrop, the New York skyline shining just for them, the millions of others living in and for their moments.  

The babies have stopped crying. The lovers are still loving. Maybe the worry can be set aside for a nights worth of sleep. 

And them?  

Well, when their lips finally, finally meet, they know. 

In that moment, they’re okay.

Chapter Text

They don’t really know what’s happening when it happens. 

All Persephone knows is that she’s kissing Hades, and being kissed. All Hades knows is he doesn’t want it to end.  

Things are as tumultuous as they possible could be. But everything feels so right, being there, holding onto each other like if they let go, they’ll lose everything. 

This kiss makes the first time they kissed crumble in comparison. In fact, it feels like they’re getting a second chance. 

The second their lips meet, Persephone lets out this soft little gasp, but god, does she completely melt underneath him. The all too cliché electricity, and sparks, and fireworks sound off. But Persephone isn’t sure how else she can describe the feelings coursing through her as she snakes her arm around Hades’ neck and cranes herself even closer. It’s like she can’t get close enough. 

It’s just that—their lips were actually made for one another. Hades takes his sweet time experiencing every bit of it, the soft, plumpness of them, the way she tastes when she’s completely sober. It’s still just as sweet. His arms find their way around her waist, and he hoists her closer to him. She completely follows his lead. 

At first, it’s just their lips. But then he presses his tongue into her mouth, and finally, he hears that sweet little noise he’s been longing for. He returns it with his own, and lets his tongue find hers as they kiss deeper, more passionately. It’s everything he’s wanted for so long. 

It’s all they care about right now.

That, and finding their way back inside the room without separating for too long. It’s not until Hades falls back against the bed, taking Persephone with him, do they finally manage to. Persephone giggles, and Hades’ heart takes flight. He’s been dreaming about this for weeks now, too goddamn long. 

Persephone looks down at Hades, her eyes shining with something that Hades drinks in completely. 

“Hi,” she says with a cute, small voice. 

“Hi,” Hades replies. He lifts his hand to caress her cheek, his thumb gently rubbing over it. 

“What are we doing?” Persephone asks. She doesn’t sound particularly upset, or like she’s really even asking. But Hades gets it. It’s just that he doesn’t want to bring himself to answer, not right away anyways. 

So, instead, Hades pulls her back down to kiss her once more. It helps that she kisses back, doesn’t question any further. 

In his gut, Hades can feel an all too familiar pinch and the way his stomach dips as his hands find her waist. Persephone really shouldn’t be allowed to look so goddamn adorable and hot all at once in those ridiculous cat pajamas of hers, but God

As Hades’ hand dips beneath the top, just enough to fill the dip in the small of her back, Persephone shudders. She straddles him completely, but in a moment, his grip on her secures itself so that they’re turned over. Then Hades fights to pull back from her, just so he can look down at her as the frame of his body casts over her. 

In her chest, Persephone’s heart is going absolutely wild. Staring up into Hades’ eyes sends her reeling, and she knows she’s spiraling. None of it feels real, is the thing. Just the night before she was grasping onto a fantasy in her head, but now as she uses her hands to cradle his face in them—she needs to know that it’s real. That he’s real, and the look of pure and utter want in his eyes is for her

“You’re so beautiful,” Hades whispers then. His voice drips with lust, but the soothing, sweet tenderness within it is undeniable as well. 

Persephone is already warm, but his words wrap around her, and place her gently on cloud nine. It’s the second most amazing place she’s ever been—the first being Hades’ arms. 

“God, Persephone,” Hades speaks again. He uses his big, affectionate hand to caress her face once more. Running a hand through the curls on her head, then down to drag his fingers along the line of her jaw. He sighs longingly. “Am I selfish for how much I want you?” 

Persephone resists the urge to weep. 

“If you are, then what am I?” Persephone whispers back. 

There are so many questions muddling both their minds. Too many, and too many different answers that could be given to any of them. But, when Hades dips back down to kiss her once more, neither of them seem to care. Not about what this means for them, and what’ll happen when they get back home. Hades won’t ask if this is different than the night at the art gallery for her like it is for him, and Persephone won’t ask if he’s falling just as hard as she is. Not yet, at least. 

Especially not when Hades moves his lips, lets them leave Persephone’s just so he can press gentle kisses along her jaw, down to her sweet little neck. He’s been here before. But this time, Hades is sober, and he can revel in every single goddamn moment. This time, his heart is hammering away for a different reason than before. He’s got the most stunning woman, inside and out, mewling at the way he kisses on her neck, finding the same spot he was at once before to suck the same mark. 

This time it’s not out of pure unadulterated, heated passion, or something to remember him by. No, this time around, it means something. I want you to be mine. Please, please be mine. 

Hades’ hands are back on Persephone’s waist, and they are so careful as they travel under her shirt. She lets him, even takes one of his hands to place on one of her breasts. Both of them shiver. Persephone can feel her core growing hotter, fully ablaze with searing want as Hades touches her so intimately. Her nipple hardens under his thumb, and the way he runs it over it. Persephone even lets out the softest moan, egging him on. 

“You looked so beautiful tonight,” Hades mutters, now against her collarbone. But he pulls back for a moment, just to look into her eyes once more. “So gorgeous. Fucking ethereal, sweetness. Like a damn goddess.”

“Hades,” Persephone all but whines. She almost does so again at the loss of his hands on her, but then she knows why. Hades makes quick work of the buttons on her pajama top. By the time he’s done, and her shirt is open, Persephone is bare and on display for Hades’ eyes to drink in. 

Hades might cry.

Like a moth to a flame, Hades’ hands are back on her breasts, both of them this time. He massages them so gently, and watches the way her chest begins to rise and fall with more vigor than before. 

They meet eyes once more. Both of them want to read what they’re seeing correctly, for the sake of their own hearts. They want to know that what they see, buried behind the lust, and the want, and fever—they want to trust themselves when they think they see love. 

Hades can’t stop himself from kissing her again. He wants to kiss her for a thousand years; then for the thousand years after that. He wants her to be the last person he’ll ever kiss, and the last person that ever gets to kiss her. He pours everything he’s got into this one, even lets one of his hands leave her chest so he could hold her face in it. Hades is unsure how much a kiss can actually tell, but he hopes, and prays, and begs to whoever can hear him that she knows this means so much more than a stupid night at an art gallery. That if she’ll have him past this night, he’d want nothing more than to have her too. 

“Kore,” he whispers once he’s pulled back, but not completely. His lips are still ghosted over hers, and his heart clenches when she follows their broken kiss, chasing after his lips. He doesn’t let her though. “Sweetness. You have to tell me you want this. I—I want you so bad, but I have to know you want this too.”

Persephone gazes up at him with shining eyes. 

“Hades,” she says, but then—“Aidoneus.”

The flood of frenzied emotions might actually bring a tear or two to Hades’ eyes. Persephone caresses his cheek, but goddamn. Hades can’t get over how she says his name—it’s not the name his father gave him, or the one he used to scold him, and tainted for him. It’s the name his mother used to say when she asked, “Aidoneus, sweet boy, how many stars did you count tonight?” and it’s the name Persephone treats so well as it lies on the soft bed of her tongue. 

“I want you,” Persephone finally says. If it were up to Hades, he’d ravish her in that very moment, but that’d make him a fool, wouldn’t it? To not take this slow with her? To not make every moment last a million years? “I want you, I’ve wanted you, so, so bad. Please, let me have you.” 

“I’m yours,” Hades whispers. “I’m yours if you’ll be mine.”

The stars in Persephone’s eyes shine for him. 

“Then take me.” 

Hades doesn’t need to be told twice. 

In a moment, the quickest moment of all time, Hades is pulling back to lift his shirt over his head. He watches Persephone’s eyes grow dark, and maybe lets himself smirk. Just a little. 

Persephone lifts her hands to touch his chest. She touches wherever she can, really, tracing the lines of his muscles across the broad span of his upper-body. There are the very faint, stretched out scars here and there, that he nearly flinches at when she touches them. But her touch is so, so soothing that he doesn’t feel the need to. She runs her fingers over them. Persephone is in awe. She won’t ask where they came from, but she still doesn’t think she’s ever seen someone so beautiful before. She wants him to know he’s beautiful.  

“I have to say,” Persephone starts with a small giggle, “it’s a lot better in person.” 

Hades seems to flush. “I’m still sorry about that,” he says sheepishly. Persephone snickers. 

“I’m not,” she huffs. Genuinely, she thought she’d never get here. She thought she’d have to cling onto that photo until her feelings finally faded away. She didn’t know how long that would be, but now that she’s here, she prays she’ll never have to find out. 

Leaning up to shrug off her pajama top, Persephone captures Hades’ lips with her own again. She uses her nimble fingers to untie the string of his sweats, smiling against his lips. It all feels so familiar, in the weirdest and best way possible. She’s been here before. Persephone got so close last time. But, this time around, there’s no one to interrupt. She doesn’t have to dwell in the memories and the fantasy any longer. 

So, she lets her hand drift beneath his waistband. Persephone finds exactly what she’s been thinking of, what she’s been aching for. 

Hades has been growing hard ever since they first landed on the bed. His want for Persephone has reached its peak (who is he kidding? It’ll probably never fucking peak), and he doesn’t have to take care of himself in his damn office anymore. 

The feeling of her hand wrapping around him is real. The weight of his arousal as she strokes him is real.

“Sweet—sweetness, I—” Hades mutters against Persephone’s lips, gasping into their kiss. He cants his hips, just a little. Maybe his cock twitches when Persephone smirks against his lips, and chastely kisses them once more before she pulls back. Lips and hands. He chokes out a pathetic whine. 

Persephone though—she grins like a damn minx. Carefully, she gets to her knees and gives Hades’ chest enough push for him to at least get the idea. Smart boy he is, though. Hades is quick to fall back against the bed, letting Persephone settle between his legs as he watches her closely. He can’t really seem to tear his eyes from her, as if he wanted to anyways. 

“I distinctly remember us getting stopped here last time,” Persephone is saying, laughing as she hooks her fingers under the waistband of Hades’ sweats. The tent in them is so enticing. In her belly, a shot of electricity strikes her again, her stomach tumbling. She pauses. There is no one there to stop them. No knocks on any doors, no friends to interrupt. This is happening, and she’ll be damned if it all ends now. 

It doesn’t take much effort to slowly pull down Hades’ sweats. He lifts his hips to help her, but for the most part, she handles it swiftly with extreme care. But once they’re off—Lord, help her. 

It’s there, in the flesh, right in front of her. It finally gets the chance to rest against his lower stomach, hard as hell, a feverish gradient towards the tip. Persephone’s mouth waters yet again, just like it did the first time she saw it. But this time—this time it’s real. 

“Please stop staring at it, I’ll get self-conscious,” Hades huffs. He’s only half joking. 

“For what?” Persephone giggles. She does wrap her hand around him though, drawing a low moan from Hades that makes her swell with pride. “Oh no, I’m totally turned on by the sight of you and I can’t wait to get my mouth on you, someone stop me.”

“No talk, more do,” Hades says. Maybe his brain can’t form proper sentences, but he has every right to be a fucking puddle right now. Because Persephone doesn’t stall any longer, and she wants this just as bad. No, she dips her head down just enough to finally wrap her lips around the head of his cock. Hades has to resist the primal urge to buck forward. Head fallen back, he grips the comforter, his knuckles gone white as he lets out a guttural sound. “Oh, fu—

Persephone hums. That doesn’t help. The vibrations dizzy him. 

There’s no way Hermes got this, right?

Hades reprimands himself for the briefest moment, and the thoughts are gone. He can’t think of that right now; he refuses to, actually. So he doesn’t. He’s got Persephone, between his legs, mouth on his cock. There’s no way in fucking hell he’ll let himself think about anything other than that. 

So, he doesn’t. 

He focuses on her, the way she’s slowly bobbing her head with one hand wrapped around the base.  

Persephone is one hundred percent enjoying the hell out of this. She keeps letting out these little moans, because she’s going to have to either deep clean these pajamas or just throw them out, which sucks . They’re her favorite. But, it’s not her fault that she’s as wet as she is right now. It’s the weight of Hades on her tongue, and the taste of him that she gets whenever she runs it along the slit at the tip. Maybe it’s justified when she slips a hand into her shorts, quickly finding her clit so that she can ease some of the heavy tension building in her gut. 

Hades is absolutely writhing. Somewhere down the line, one hand made it into Persephone’s hair, which she hums so softly at. He doesn’t want to be forceful, not at all, so he just keeps it there. He lets her take control. He relishes in the warmth of her mouth, the dual sensation of her tongue and her hand on him. But, he knows. After weeks of harboring this sexual (and, of course, emotional) desire for her, he can easily forget that he’s a forty-something year old and revert back to his early college days. He’s not prepared for that embarrassment. 

So, despite everything telling him not, Hades pulls her back. 

“Baby,” he says so tenderly, “baby, as good as that was. And fuck, it was so great, sweetness, I don’t want this to be over so fast.”

Persephone’s got this pout, this delectable pout, but she doesn’t protest. She pulls her hand from her shorts instead and sits back up. She bites those gorgeous, sexy, beautiful, amazing lips of hers, and Hades all but groans. Sitting back up quickly, he pulls her into another bruising kiss, even better than the last. In fact, every moment seems to keep getting better and better. 

Wrapping his arms around Persephone’s waist, Hades does what he can to pull her as close as possible. He chuckles into her mouth though when she purposefully falls back, pulling him down with her. He’s back over her again, and she’s such a sight to see when he pulls back from their kiss. Persephone is just still in those pajama bottoms of hers and, well, that won’t do, will it? 

Hades takes it upon himself to help her with them. He hooks his fingers under the waistband, and drinks in the little hitch of Persephone’s breath. 

As Hades pulls down her shorts, Persephone watches Hades with these hungry eyes. She can’t believe she’s here, about to be completely bare for Hades to see. The fact that it’s not a fantasy is what’s craziest to her. Hades is there, throwing her shorts and panties to the side as he looks down at her with a look she’s never been given before. It’s not those fond, soft eyes he usually has. They’re dark, and feral. Even so, the touches he gives her bare skin are as gentle as ever. 

Hades caresses her thigh, with more purpose than the last time he was able to do this. He kneads them tenderly, and leans down to pepper more kisses on her neck, and collarbones, all the way down to one of her breasts. He wastes no time in pulling it into his mouth, smirking at the small whine that Persephone lets out. Hades’ hands travel more, one of them staying right there on her thigh while the other gravitates towards her warm core. 

He nips at the hardened brown bud of her nipple, chuckling a little when she jolts. Hades hears her huff, but it slowly turns into a long moan when he’s got his thumb circling her clit. He starts gentle and slow. He moves his mouth to her unattended breast, while he drags a long finger up her folds. She’s so wet, so damn warm, and Hades doesn’t know if he’s going to last very long. If this goes exactly where he wants it to go, that is. 

Persephone is so conflicted between opening her legs wide for Hades, or clenching them shut around his hand. She opts for pushing her hips forward instead, at least for now as they chase more and more of his touch. She runs her hands through Hades’ hair too, holding him against her chest as he laps at her far too sensitive nipples. 

“Ha-Hades,” Persephone gasps, her back arching only slightly off the bed when she feels a finger slip inside of her. Her center pulls him in greedily, and holds him there as he curls his finger inside of her. Hades is too damn good with his hands, she quickly learns, especially when he adds a second finger to pump in and out of her at an agonizingly slow pace while he thumbs at her sensitive nub.

Delicious little noises keep getting caught in her throat. Persephone is fighting hard to keep quiet, but Hades pulls back with shining lips curled into a small, almost devious frown. “My sweet Kore,” he says softly, curling his fingers again in an attempt to elicit more noises. He’s almost got her. “Let me hear you, darling, I love the way you sound.” 

Persephone flushes more than she already is, her body completely ablaze with a myriad of different sensations. But, she lets her throat release a moan louder than before, keening at the way Hades’ fingers are moving within her. 

“Need— god, Hades,” she mewls. 

“I got you, sweetheart,” Hades whispers. He kisses all over her body, wherever his lips can reach. He kisses the mounds of her breasts, and the small swell of her stomach, and the stretch marks on her hips. He moves down, kissing everything he that he can until finally, his lips are wrapped around her clit as he twists and curls his fingers inside her intoxicating heat. 

Hades!” Persephone yelps. Her hips buck helplessly against Hades’ mouth, and her legs finally make the decision to clench as she grips his hair to hold him in place. Hades has no fucking problem with any of this, and he uses his free arm to wrap around her thigh and pull her even closer as he uses his mouth and his fingers to absolutely torture her with pleasure. 

So many things are happening all at once and Persephone can’t remember how to breathe for a moment. She’s never felt something so good before, so damn magnificent and she can’t contain it when her body racks with an overwhelming pleasure. Her heat clenches around Hades’ fingers, her lips fluttering around them as they grasp onto them, refusing to let go. 

Even though her brain is fuzzy, and she hears ringing in her ears as her body shudders with the heavy waves of her orgasm, Persephone swears she can feel Hades smirking against the top of her mound. He licks at her, takes what he can get before finally pulling back, fingers, mouth, and all, leaving her to whine at the loss of it. 

Hades doesn’t say anything though, he just kisses all the way back up to her mouth until he can press his lips against hers. He kisses like before though. The fervor and the heat is there, but god, if he doesn’t kiss her like he’s never going to get the chance to again each time, he’s a damn fool. He pours the past month’s worth of feelings deep into it, and holds her like he doesn’t want to let go. 

With her hands on his face, Persephone lets him. She feels all the same. She kisses him until her lungs are begging for breath again. Reluctantly pulling back, she looks up at Hades with all the adoration in the entire damn world. Persephone caresses his cheek and lets out a breathless chuckle. 

“I—” she whispers, like she wants to say something she knows she probably shouldn’t. She keeps it locked inside, and presses one gentle kiss against his lips. “I still want you,” she says instead. 

“Why?” Hades asks then. Behind the lust in his eyes, Persephone can see it. The look that tells her that he’s been here before. She wants to be the one to make it go away. 

“Because you’re you,” she says gently. “And because I can.” 

Hades lets out a breathy laugh. 

“I don’t deserve you,” Hades tells her. Persephone doesn’t grant him much of a response, nothing except her small scoff and one more kiss against his lips. She hums into it, and wraps her arms around his neck. 

“Aidoneus,” she whispers, and he shivers again. “Please take me.” 

Hades is just as tired of waiting as she is. With one last kiss, Hades pulls back with the sudden realization that he didn’t exactly come to New York with the intent of doing this, and he almost curses himself until he remembers—he’s sometimes a smart man when it comes to these things. On his nightstand is his wallet, which he reaches into to retrieve the lone condom he keeps in there for…just in case. He expected to use it with someone else, but right now, he can’t bring himself to care. 

“I’m not going to ask,” Persephone giggles as she watches Hades tear open the package with his teeth. He chuckles back, slowly rolling the condom onto his shaft. 

“Good,” Hades teases. 

Once the condom is on, it suddenly becomes too real. As he hovers over Persephone, his arms braced on either side of her while he settles between her legs, his heart hammers in his chest. But then he feels the bend of Persephone’s knees as she hooks her legs around him, and the closer he gets to her waiting center, the more warmth he can feel against his own arousal. He shudders. 

Persephone cranes her neck to press a feathery kiss against Hades’ lips. “Go slow,” she whispers into the kiss. He nods, because of course. 

The nerves build within both of them as Hades grabs his cock, positions himself right at her core. It’s practically begging, and when Persephone gives the little cant of her hips, Hades presses the tip in. 

That first feeling—it’s fucking magical. They both let out these little gasps, because it’s happening. Hades is inside of Persephone, and there’s really no turning back now. As if they’d want to anyways. 

Persephone lets out this long whine that goes straight to Hades’ head, dizzying him with little effort. Hades has to stop himself from sinking right into her inviting heat. Persephone can feel, just from the little bit he’s put in, the girth of his cock. She already knows how long it is, so she needs a moment. 

“Hades,” she whimpers gently, just as Hades begins peppering soothing kisses on her face, neck, and chest. He pauses, gives them both a moment to collect themselves. Persephone has never been so grateful before. 

It takes a few moments, but when Hades is buried to the hilt, presses all the way inside of Persephone, they both think they might cry. In fact, there’s a single tear rolling down Persephone’s cheek that Hades promptly kisses away. 

“Shh, shh, I got you, my love,” Hades whispers to her. He catches her eye then, and his heart clenches. 

All it takes is the little nod that Persephone gives him. 

Hades keeps his eyes locked on hers. He won’t dare look away, not as he gives that first, slow, agonizing drag of his hips that makes them both shudder in pure bliss. Hade starts slow. He gives Persephone the time to adjust, but it’s just that she feels absolutely magnificent wrapped around him. With every thrust, her slick, warm core pulls him back in. Soon enough, his pace quickens. The more Persephone writhes underneath him, the more he’s egged on. Hades relishes in the soft, breathy moans she’s letting out and the feeling of her nails gently digging into his back. 

For a few moments, all they can hear is the sound of their breathing, and the gentle pats of skin on skin. It’s so intoxicating, so arousing that Hades has to hoist Persephone’s hips up a little for the better angle, a better way to move faster and with more vigor. 

“Look at you,” Hades mutters, still captivated by her eyes and the way her face keeps contorting in pleasure. Persephone can’t stop moving her hips with him, like she’s meeting his every move. They’re so in sync. They were made for each other, if the way their bodies move and their breathing matches is anything to go off of. Hades doesn’t want to lose this, and neither does Persephone. “So beautiful, so fucking beautiful, Kore.”

It’s why she grips onto him tighter. She’d feel bad for the way her nails are digging into his back now, leaving little crescent indents in his flushed skin, but she doesn’t care. Persephone doesn’t think he does either, not with the way he keeps grunting and moaning. 

“Hades,” Persephone gasps, lifting her head to try and catch his lips. He doesn’t disappoint, and meets her half way. Their lips move together as best as they can, but sometimes they’re just breathing against one another as Hades’ pace picks up in speed. When he switches angles again, repeatedly hitting that sweet spot inside of her, she mewls. “Hades! Aidoneus, don’t—don’t stop.” 

There’s no way. There’s no way on Earth he’s going to stop any time soon. 

At least, that’s how he wants it. But they can both feel it. 

Persephone’s second orgasm is just on the horizon. She can feel it bubbling in her gut, gnawing at her as her legs begin to quiver around Hades. Hades is getting sloppy, his thrusts losing their rhythm. It’s still just as good, but he knows he’s about to lose it—about to crumble underneath the heavy weight of the immense pleasure they’re both feeling. 

“Sweetness, I—I—fuck,” Hades chokes out. The words he truly wants to say are right there, right at the tip of his damn tongue. He doesn’t want to scare her though, doesn’t want her to think he’s saying it just because they’re both alight with blinding bliss. 

But, Persephone nods. She cups his cheeks with her shaky hands then as her body moves with each of Hades’ thrusts. They’re hard, but still gentle and caring. He’s fast, but still making sure she’s taken care of. Persephone whines. 

“I know,” she whispers, her eyes boring into his. “I know, Hades, I—”

Like before, Persephone is the first to succumb to it. She comes with a howl, crying out Hades’ name as her back arches deliciously off the bed. It hits her like a fucking freight train, her vision going blurry, and maybe she blacks out just a little. The only thing keeping her grounded is the way Hades is kissing her mouth, around her mouth, on her jaw, and the feeling of his arms wrapped tight around her waist. His thrusts are relentless now, hammering away with persistence as he desperately chases his own release. 

But god, when it hits him. It takes one, two, three staccato thrusts of his hips before finally, it crashes over him. He spills into the condom, seated deep inside of Persephone. Persephone can feel him pulsing, throbbing , just the way he can feel her walls convulsing around him with the final white, hot flashes of her ecstasy. 

Panting. Whimpering. The smell of sweat and slick arousal. Their senses are completely overloaded. There’s not a thing in this world that could pull them apart though. 

At least not until Hades finds it necessary to slip out, but even then, once the condom is tied off and thrown into a nearby bin, he’s immediately wrapped around Persephone. She curls into his arms, her small little frame swallowed up by him. 

Hades pets over her hair, littering her forehead with tender kisses. The weight of exhaustion is heavy in his bones, but there’s no way he’s falling asleep now. Not because he can’t, but because he doesn’t want to stop looking at her. He doesn’t want to miss the way moonlight is spilling in from the sliding glass doors that lead to the balcony, casting over her face. 

For these few moments, Hades truly believes that she’s his, and he’s hers. 

“Hey,” he whispers after a while. The glow of their orgasms, of what just happened is dull now, but still very much so there. Their breathing has settled and their skin is finally cool to the touch again, albeit dewy with remnants of sweat. He runs a hand over her cheek, coaxing her back from the way she’d begun to doze off. “Are you okay?”

“Sleepy,” Persephone mumbles back, but she still opens her eyes to look up at him. She smiles, and he smiles back. “Hi.”

“You’re incredible, you know that?” he tells her gently. 

“I’ve been told,” Persephone jokes lightly. Hades laughs with her. 

Everything in Hades is praying, begging that Persephone is still there when he wakes up. He’s so used to waking up alone, but he knows if he wakes up to a cold bed where her warmth used to be—that might break him. However, Persephone wiggles closer. She nuzzles into the crook of his neck and kisses his collarbone. 

Hades knows they must be a sight to see, melded together in this bed far too big for even two people. 

When he hears the soft sound of Persephone’s breathing, Hades knows she’s fast asleep. The exhaustion is fighting him now. Still, he gets in a few minutes at least of admiring her sleeping face. 

She is tranquil, just as before. This time, there is no unsettled grief or trouble. In fact, there’s a hint of a smile. 

Hades knows he probably shouldn’t jinx it. But, as he finally dozes off, he is confident in his certainty that she’ll be there when he wakes up.  

Chapter Text

It’s cold. 

Peeling his eyes open is hard, but Hades makes do. But, it’s cold. 

Panic immediately settles into his bones when he feels the lack of warmth by his side, and turns to see that Persephone isn’t in bed any longer. His heart sinks completely. Hades sits up in a hurry, and he might actually feel the first crests of genuine fear before the door to his en suite swings opens. Persephone comes out, looking as precious as ever, rubbing her sleepy eyes. 

Hades’ heart settles. He knew better. But still, he feels an indescribable joy seeing her there, walking towards him in his dress shirt, practically swallowing her up. Persephone finally sees him awake, and she smiles at him sheepishly. 

“Oh,” she says softly, standing at her side of the bed before she carefully crawls back into it. “Hi.”

“Hey there,” Hades says, voice raspy with sleep. 

Persephone’s heart clenches. “Oh god,” she says, “don’t talk. My heart hurts.”

Hades lets out a gravelly chuckle anyways that makes Persephone whine dramatically as she flings herself to lay down on the bed next to him. She lands on her stomach, and she groans into her pillow. “Stoooop.” 

“Nobody’s ever liked my morning voice before,” Hades says, even though it’s already sort of losing the initial roughness. He still lays back down next to Persephone, and pets over her hair. 

Persephone turns her face to look at him, and smiles softly. “I like a lot of things about you.”

Hades returns her gentle look. 

“I thought you left,” Hades tells her then, expressing his genuine worry that bites at Persephone’s heart this time. She turns on her side to face him completely, a small pout on her lips. Hades lays on his side too, and they lie there, face to face. “Not that you’d be able to go very far, I just—yeah.”

“I’d never,” she says, voice full of sincerity. “You don’t have to worry about that with me, Hades.” 

Maybe Hades feels like crying, only just a little. He caresses her cheek, and despite how bad he wants to kiss her right now, he just watches her. He meets her eye, and holds it there. 

The questions that should’ve been asked the night before are there again. This time, there’s no searing lust to shelter the two of them from their inevitability. They’d have to think of them them eventually. If Hades wants to kiss her again, he thinks maybe they should be answered.  

Persephone, though, she’s a goddamn mind reader apparently. Because she puts her hand over Hades’ and sighs. 

“I still want you, if you were wondering,” she mutters quietly. She averts her eyes for a brief moment, but they eventually come back to his. “I—I just—I don’t know where we stand now. I just know that I want you. And not just in the…in the way I wanted you last night.”

Hades lets out a small breath. “I think I’d be an idiot to say I didn’t feel the same,” he tells her then. 

“It’s just—hard,” Persephone says. “Hades—people like me don’t belong with people like you. Especially when you’ve got…someone like her.”

There it is again. That stinging pain Persephone feels whenever she thinks about Her. She knows that things are going to be a mess now, but she’s willing. She’s so incredibly willing to clean it up with Hades if he is too. That’s how bad she wants him, how bad she wants to stay in his arms and feel safe. Now that she’s had it, she doesn’t think she can give it up. Persephone just wants him; pure and undiluted. 

“Kore,” Hades says sternly though. “Kore, no one as beautiful as you has ever wanted me. Not just on the outside, I just—you’re so good, Persephone. So the fact that you want me is…it’s next level insane to me. But if you think I’m going to give that up—you’re insane.” 

There’s a wetness to Persephone’s eyes now, and she sniffles a little as she lets out a weak chuckle at Hades’ words. 

“I don’t care who you are, or where you came from, or about the way you were raised. I care about the person you are now, right here,” Hades continues, laying both their hands over her heart. Persephone lets a tear roll down over the bridge of her nose. 

“Funny, that’s what I was thinking about you, Yankee,” Persephone says, moving closer to Hades so she can rest her head under his chin against his chest. He lets out a bellowing laugh, which she joins in on. Still, he wraps his arms around her and holds her close. “By the way, one percent.”

Hades hums inquisitively. 

Persephone chuckles. “One percent scoundrel.” 

“Holy shit,” Hades breathes out in another laugh. “Wow. Still one percent though?”

“Yeah,” Persephone giggles. “You don’t act the way you did last night and not be some part scoundrel.”  

Hades gives that belly laugh of his, and Persephone melts. She can’t believe she’s here, still wrapped up in his arms. She still wants him and, by the grace of God, he still wants her. Not everything is figured out yet, not completely. But they’ll figure it out. Together. 

 

 

“Fifty.”

What? Only fifty?” 

“There are a lot of lights here in this city, Hades. I see fifty stars.”

Persephone looks at Hades with a raised brow and smirks. However, she softens completely when Hades takes their laced hands from under the blanket they’re cooped up in to kiss the back of Persephone’s hand. 

“Alright,” he mutters against it, and grins a little. “I’ll take your word for it.” 

It’s been three nights since they first kissed. Three mornings of waking up in each other’s arms, and going into the office to pretend that each and every night, they weren’t finding new ways to kiss and pleasure each other. They’d spent countless hours now exploring one another, discovering new territory with their mouths and hands. Whether Persephone was bent over the bed, or pressed against the shower wall, or propped up in Hades’ lap while she rode him. They’ve lost track, actually. Persephone has almost completely forgotten that there’s a city to see. 

But, for the most part, they keep it inside the room. That is until sometimes, they’ll be at dinner, or walking back to their hotel, and Hades will take Persephone’s hand and lace theirs together. In a city like New York, no one is focused on them. Nobody ever notices. Hades could kiss her, right in the middle of Times Square, and nobody would care. 

The room is their complete safe haven though. Hades can make Persephone moan and writhe, kiss her as much as he wants without a worry in the entire world. 

The best part is that, each and every morning, he gets to wake up to her sweet face and that tender voice of hers. Hades never wants to leave. 

Now though, as they sit on the balcony and count the stars, he knows they’ll have to eventually. They’ll have to go home and face the consequences of falling in love with each other. It could be an absolute train wreck, the worst thing Hades may ever have to face. But for Persephone, it’s worth it. If it means he gets to watch her face scrunch up in concentration as she re-counts the stars for the rest of his life—then so be it. 

Breath catches in his throat. Persephone seems to hear it, and she turns her head to look at Hades again. Her eyes are wide, just like the day they first met and he approached her with that cheesy, pathetic pick-up line. But the melancholy—it’s almost completely gone now. In fact, Hades isn’t sure if it’s even there at all.  

Hades kisses her. He cups her cheek, and kisses her. 

She kisses back of course, letting out that little gasp of hers that drives him wild. They haven’t lost their spark yet, and each time is always like the first (or second, really). Hades doesn’t think they ever will as he presses into it, pulling her nearer. 

But, this time when he pulls back before it can get too heated, he keeps his eyes on hers. She looks like she wants to say something, but it gets caught in her throat. There’s an unfamiliar tension between them. Hades feels like he knows what it is, what words are trying so desperately to make their way out. He’s been holding it back for days now, too. So, Hades does it for her. 

“I love you,” he whispers softly. It’s almost a strain to get out, because it was never the easiest thing for him to say. But with her—it proves itself to be a lot easier than he ever imagined. The way it was with Rhea. Of course, it’s the only two women in his life who have ever treated him with such tender care. (Hecate is a different story.) 

Persephone’s eyes moisten again. She’s been crying a lot, actually. Not of any sadness, but in disbelief that she’s gotten any of this. But hearing those words—god. She cups Hades’ face, and kisses him again. 

“I love you,” she says in return, her voice full of nothing but the love she’s just proclaimed. They smile at each other. 

“We’re crazy,” Hades says. 

“Maybe so,” Persephone giggles as she wipes her eyes. “But at least it’s both of us.”

 

 

Their last night is spent just like their first night together. Leaving New York might be the hardest fucking thing imaginable, but the two of them are so grateful. Neither of them think they would’ve had the courage to do anything about their feelings had they not come. 

As they lie down beside one another, basking in the glow of their second (third? maybe fourth?) coupling that night, Persephone lets herself curl into Hades’ arms just like every other time. Just like every other time, he holds her right there against his chest. She fits so nicely there. 

“Everything will be okay, right?” Persephone finds herself asking after a few long moments of silence. 

Hades swallows. He can’t give her a firm answer, a simple yes or no, because he doesn’t even know himself. He sighs. “As okay as it can be,” he tells her. “I just—I have to tie up some loose ends.” 

Persephone knows what Hades means. She knows who he means. The thought pains her, but he sounds so sincere. After the week they’ve spent together, Persephone trusts him, wholeheartedly, even if that tiny, bothersome, pesky inkling of fear is somewhere buried within her. 

“But hey,” Hades speaks again, looking down to smile at Persephone, “maybe we can get together at night? Like…I don’t know, go on a real date?”

Persephone’s heart soars. She grins, and bites her lip as she nods her head. 

“I’d really like that,” she tells him. 

“Alright then,” Hades says happily. He kisses her forehead.

“It’ll be okay then,” Persephone says so quietly, more to herself than to him. She lets out a small, hopeful sigh. “If not today…maybe one day...”

Hades’ chest tightens completely. Maybe that day is finally near. 

Whether or not they go at it again depends on whether or not they can handle it. Either way, they fall asleep and wake up wrapped in each other’s arms. 

In the morning, they leave New York. It sort of breaks Persephone’s heart, knowing she won’t be in the city where she first made love to Hades, but they can always come back. In the back of her mind are little fantasies; visiting his old estate, coming back as a couple (with rings on their fingers, maybe?), being able to openly and proudly kiss someone who’s hers. 

She doesn’t let herself dwell on them for too long. There’s still something in the way, just a little. Even if Hades has made a promise to her, shown her that maybe he is willing to clean up the mess they’ve made together in order to bear a cleaner slate. There are a million different ways this could go, and only a handful of them are what she wants—needs. Or, maybe it’s just one. Persephone is not known for her marksmanship, but perhaps Hades is. 

However, on the plane ride home, she spends her entire time cuddled in Hades’ arms to try and forget it all. She revels in it, like every single other time, as if it’ll be the last time she’ll ever get it. Letting go is always the hardest part.  

On their car ride to her apartment from the airport, Persephone holds his hand. She kisses him, thanking the heavens for the partition in the car. She’s going to have to cling onto these memories until the night comes, and she can relive them all over again. 

“Tonight at eight?” Persephone is saying when they’ve finally stopped in front of her complex. The driver is taking her things out of the trunk, and Hades nods his head. 

“I’ll come get you at that time, okay?”

Persephone beams. 

“Okay,” she breathes out, “I’ll be waiting.”

Hades goes in to kiss her again, but Persephone puts on a teasing grin as she puts her hand over his lips to stop him effectively. She titters when he pouts, being left to kiss her fingers. 

“Don’t kiss me goodbye again,” she whispers. “Save it, okay? For tonight.”

Hades huffs, but her abides by her wishes. They soak in as much of each other as they can as Persephone gathers her things to leave the car. “Goodbye, until tonight,” Persephone tells him gently. 

“Until tonight,” Hades responds, a dopey little smile on his face. 

It’s not long until they’re finally completely apart. 

Over the past week, Persephone has made a home of Cloud Nine. She’s set up perfect camp, and she isn’t completely prepared to leave. 

But, as Hades heads home himself, she doesn’t know that the cloud is beginning to chip away. 

She doesn’t feel it. There’s nothing yet to tell her that, as she goes inside and unpacks, the particles are evaporating into nothingness. 

Persephone rests. She clings on to every single memory that she can. Just a few more hours, she keeps telling herself, as she showers and gets ready, putting on her sweetest smelling perfume and her best lipgloss. Maybe it’s the same one she was wearing the first night she met Hades. 

She waits there in one of her favorite dresses, ready, just for him.

Persephone waits...

...and waits...

...and waits. 

The cloud is thin and wispy now, and despite it all, she still clings on. 

Hades? Is everything okay? 

We can reschedule if you need, I just need to know that you’re okay. 

Please answer soon. 

When nine o’clock rolls around, and her texts have remained unanswered, she wonders if she should stop grasping onto it. Onto the hope that Hades meant what he promised. 

Persephone sighs as she looks at her silent phone. By ten o’clock, she isn’t so sure. 

 

 

Hades walks inside his home, still reeling from the pure bliss he’s been riding on for the past week. He knows he just left her, knows he just spent the most amazing six days with her, but his heart is still longing for her. It still misses her so much. 

In all honesty, he can’t wait for the night to come. He can’t wait to see her again, to hold her, to kiss her. He can’t wait to unapologetically have her, for his own. He’s so close to having what he’s wanted so bad. 

It’s just—he has things to do. He promised her, and he promised himself. This was his way out. A way to cut ties with the bitter, aching past he’s been fighting against for so long. This was his way to start over, a way to be happy again. 

Hades hadn’t had a good nights sleep in years. But that first night with Persephone—he didn’t wake up during the night, not once. He slept like he did when he was a child.  

That’s when he knew. 

This is his chance. Their chance. 

His home is cold. Cerberus greets him, but it’s unlike before. He’s reserved, and standoffish. Like he’s upset—frightened. Hades’ blood runs cold with the realization of why. He leaves his bags in the foyer and puts his guard up. He checks the kitchen, and the living room, and the dining room.  

It’s not until he goes upstairs, careful and quiet, does he understand the complexity of Cerberus’ behavior. 

He sees her as he rounds a corner, from the hallway and through his open bedroom door. There is Minthe, sitting there on the end of his bed with her face buried in her hands. He gulps. 

Minthe doesn’t see him, not until he finally enters the room. She looks up, and she’s in tears. 

Despite everything, Hades has always hated seeing her cry. 

His heart cracks. 

“Hades,” Minthe chokes out, before she begins to sob. 

Hades can’t find it in himself to ask questions. To tell her everything, to tell her that he can’t do this anymore.  Hades can’t tell her that he’s sorry, but he’s done, and even though they’ve spent years together, he wants her out of his life—for good. Her tears won’t work on him any longer when he’s finally found a chance to be genuinely happy, and okay

It’s not because she’s crying, or because Hades feels sorry for her.

It’s not the way Minthe stands, and throws herself in his arms, her body shaking with the way she cries into his chest. 

No—it’s the white stick with a pink cap that Hades sees sitting on the end of the bed as he looks over her shoulder. It’s the two pink lines on it, one slightly more faded than the other, indicating the worst of Hades’ fears in this very moment. It’s the sick feeling in the pit of his gut.  

He’s felt this before: losing his mother, the first time this happened, seeing Persephone in his office—and now. A fourth time. 

This time it’s real. 

Hades can’t tell her anything. Not now, and as it seems to him, not ever. 

Chapter Text

Persephone wakes up in the dress she was meant to wear to see Hades. She couldn’t bring herself to change, so now her pillows are stained with makeup—and a few tears. 

At first, it was genuine worry. Persephone feared that something happened to him, but then she saw that he read her texts sometime around eleven o’clock. She texted again. Read. But still, no reply. It was safe to say that her heart sent a painful sting coursing through her body. 

So, maybe she cried. She didn’t want to jump to conclusions though. Hades is a busy man with many responsibilities. So, Persephone forced herself asleep, only to wake up with the same, dull ache in her heart. 

They weren’t meant to be back to work until the following day. So, Persephone spends most of her day waiting and praying for Hades to respond. It never comes. 

What does though—it just might be worse. 

At some point in the afternoon, there’s a knock on her door. When she opens it, it’s a man with a round, beautiful bouquet of flowers, asking if she was Kore E. Persephone’s heart races in her chest as she signs for them, and is left alone to inspect the bouquet. 

Persephone’s heart clenches.  

She thinks good things at first. But then she sees the envelope. It’s unlike a normal note, and when she opens it, there’s a full letter on the inside. 

Dread fills her soul reading the first words. 

As it turns out, peonies carry a lot of baggage. 

Dearest Kore,

I want you to know that I didn’t plan for this. I need you to know that I never meant for this to happen. I didn’t mean to fall in love with you, I didn’t expect to need you as much as I do. Please believe me when I say this. 

Believe me when I say that I’m sorry. Words will not fix what I have to tell you, but I pray that time is gentle with you. 

I have to make things work with Minthe. 

This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you, or that everything we shared wasn’t meaningful. Spending that week with you was the best of my entire life, but I’m unable to keep my promise to you.  

I’m so, so sorry, Kore. I do not expect you to forgive me. But I hope with all my heart that you can find it in your heart to do so one day. I don’t think I can lose you completely. I meant every word I said, and I will never, ever forget our time together. Please know that.   

You are so wonderful, Kore. I know one day you’ll find better than me. If not today, then one day.

-Your Aidoneus 

The air is still. Fingers are numb. Stinging tears roll down her cheeks. 

Persephone can’t breathe. In just a few moments, everything around her has shattered, a dull blade sawing with vigor at her heart. The precipice she had been standing on this entire time is crumbling beneath her feet, but she remains still nonetheless. If she happens to come crashing down, tumbling down the cliff, then so be it. 

It takes a moment for her to move. When she does, it’s only to put the letter down on her coffee table next to the flowers that she can’t stand to even look at. They’re nothing but a painful reminder of what had happened, not only a little over a month ago, but just last week. Words wouldn’t make this better. Flowers wouldn’t make this better. In fact, Persephone doesn’t know anything at all that could. 

She is broken. 

After everything; all of the looks, and touches, and words that they shared that ended up actually meaning something. Or did they? Persephone’s reflection begins to multiply with every single insecurity she’s spent years harboring. Of course Hades wouldn’t want someone like her. A childish, wannabe-Ivy-League girl who comes from a neighborhood that he had to triple lock his car in the first time they went. 

People like her didn’t belong with people like him. Persephone has always been painfully aware of these facts. She just never thought she’d have to face them so soon, not after the week she shared with Hades. 

That magical, too good to be true week. Persephone sobs. 

It’s a pathetic, choked little sob, but it’s a sob nonetheless. 

Persephone doesn’t know what to do. 

She doesn’t have exact control over her actions or what her body decides to do in that moment, but when she manages to come to her senses, she’s not surprised. Only a little. 

Stepping out of the car that she ordered for herself, her heart cinches in her chest. She breathes in the all too familiar smell of a place she’s spent so long running from. Persephone never thought, in recent years, it’d be the place she ran to.  

Persephone walks through the gate, and up to the run-down steps she used to sit on as a child. It’s not too late to turn back now.

But, she doesn’t. Persephone is so tired of being scared of something she once loved so much. 

So, she opens the screen door dispassionately, and knocks. 

When the wooden door opens and she’s greeted with a face that used to comfort her beyond belief, Persephone begins to sob once more. 

“Mija?” 

Chills run up Persephone’s spine. “Mama…I—” 

Demeter doesn’t wait another moment before pulling her daughter into her arms. 

 

 

“Mama, I’m fine! It’s just a little scrape.”

Demeter scoffs at her child, keeping her grip on Kore’s arm when she tries to pull it away. She carefully dabs the alcohol soaked cotton ball on her elbow, and perhaps her chest caves a little at the sad little hiss that Kore lets out. 

“Mama, you’re making it hurt worse!”

“It needs to hurt before it gets better, mija. Stop squirming,” Demeter sighs. 

“No! It’ll heal on its own, please just let me go back outside. My friends are waiting,” Kore pleads. She moves to get up, but Demeter gives her a sharp look that chills her blood. 

“Siéntate,” she commands, her voice a little too harsh. Kore listens though. She knows better than to not. Demeter continues to bandage Kore’s arm, and maybe she’s taking it all a little too far. Maybe the tiny scrape on her arm doesn’t require gauze, and antiseptics, and a homemade remedy passed on from her mother, and her mother before that. But—“I knew I shouldn’t have let you go out today. Or at all. Those Willow kids, they’re too much. I don’t want you to play with them anymore.”

“But mama!” 

“Kore, no.” Demeter sighs. She composes herself. “You’re going to keep getting hurt. I’m not always going to be here to fix you up, mija. You need to learn to avoid these things so you don’t need to be bandaged in the first place.”

Kore gets the same dejected look on her face that Demeter has grown so accustomed to. The furrow between her bushy brows and the scowl on her lips always chip away at her. But she’s learned to be a brick wall. It comes with being a mother. Still, Kore sighs heavily, eyes down at her lap. 

“How else am I supposed to learn the things to avoid?”

Demeter frowns. She looks at her daughter, and uses one hand to lift her chin, meeting her eyes. Kore’s eyes are far too sullen for someone her age, swimming with something no twelve year old should have so deeply rooted within them. 

Demeter doesn’t answer. Instead, she places a bandage over Kore’s wound and stands up. “Go to your room.”

“Mama—”

“Kore. Now.”

Kore doesn’t dare argue, not when her mother uses that voice. 

Demeter doesn’t miss the tears in Kore’s eyes when she leaves the room, stomping towards her dingy little bedroom.

Maybe her eyes begin to well with stinging tears too. She’ll never let her see, though. 

 

 

Demeter’s hot chocolate was always Persephone’s favorite. It never failed to comfort her as a child, but it still didn’t help that it was the thing that Demeter would use an hour or so after yelling at her daughter to earn back her affections. It was the best thing she could think of in lieu of an actual apology. 

Still, Persephone lets her mother make it for her, watching as she drops the block of chocolate into the milk in that same blue pot with white specks. The one she’s had since she was a child; probably since before she was even born. Persephone thinks it belonged to her grandmother. 

They don’t speak as she makes it. Persephone has managed to stop crying for the time being, but as soon as she takes the first sip of her drink, it starts right back up. She cries silently then, the tears rolling down her cheeks. Demeter doesn’t bother to question. Persephone, for once, is grateful that her mother isn’t quick to bite at why she’s so upset, like she typically did. It was always question after question, What happened? Who hurt you? Was it the kids down the street?  

Demeter is silent as they drink their hot chocolate. 

When she’s done, Persephone takes the time to move into the living room and sit on that once so familiar couch. So many things have stayed the same though. Her home was never much. Still—it was home. Always has been. Persephone didn’t know until then exactly how much she’s missed it. 

Demeter sits across from Persephone, setting down her mug down on a coaster on the coffee table. For a few more moments, silence. 

Then—“Mija…you don’t have to tell me what’s wrong right now, but I need to know…are you okay?”

Persephone’s gut reaction is to want to cry some more—cry, and scream, and curse Hades’ name. She wants to let out every ounce of pain she’s feeling and return to her mother for all the comfort in the world, but she can’t. She can’t bring herself to do any of that. Instead, she swallows down the prickly lump in her throat and shakes her head.

“No,” she whispers quietly, the sadness clear in her scratchy voice. “No, mama, I’m not.”

At least she can be completely honest at this point in time. Persephone doesn’t have to tell Demeter every single detail, but she does tell her the basics—at least what she needs to know to understand why she’s in shambles. 

Demeter finds out the truth about the man Persephone brought over those few weeks ago. Demeter learns that he took her daughter’s heart, and that she’s here crying in her living room because he still had it, clenched in his merciless grasp. 

By the end of it, Persephone is finally being consoled by her mother, held in her arms as if she were a child again. Persephone cries, and cries, and cries. She lets it out until she’s wrung dry. Soon, she’s left a hiccuping mess in her mother’s arms. 

Maybe she is a child again. For now, she’ll have to be. 

For a while, all Demeter does is rock her daughter gently as she pets over her hair. 

“I feel so stupid,” Persephone mutters into her mother’s shirt, sniffling. “I—I should've known.” 

Demeter frowns heavily. 

“No,” she tells Persephone, shaking her head, “no, sweet girl, there was no way you could’ve known.”

Persephone can hear something in Demeter’s voice. It’s something she doesn’t recognize, or at least something she hasn’t heard in ages. When she looks up at her mother, Persephone learns that it’s the tears that are now brimming her eyes. Her heart breaks. 

“Mama?” she whispers to her. 

“I’m sorry, mija,” Demeter says quietly. A single tear rolls down her cheek, and she looks to meet Persephone’s sad, melancholic eyes. They haven’t changed one bit. “I’m sorry for everything.” 

“Mama, what are you…” 

“Ko—Persephone, I…you should’ve been prepared for something like this. I could’ve helped you, I should’ve—”

Persephone’s lips curl into a frown. “Mama, no,” she says and sits up to look at her mother straight on. “It’s not your fault, please—please don’t blame yourself. I’m an adult now, amá. There’s...there’s nothing you could have done to stop this.”

“Wasn’t there?” Demeter scoffs. She wipes her tears. She never wanted Persephone to see her cry. Maybe that was one of the many issues all along. 

Persephone sighs heavily. Deep down, she knows what her mother means. She knows why she’s crying, and even though she hasn’t seen her cry very many times, if at all in her life, she can still piece it together. Persephone was there to witness the way she parented after all. She got the brunt of it.

Still, she wipes Demeter’s tears away and takes in a breath. 

“I’m sorry for not coming back home, mama,” she whispers to her. 

Demeter lets out a wet chuckle.

“That’s hardly a thing to be sorry for, after I made it so you didn’t want to come home, mi corazón. I’m sorry.” 

This is the first time in so, so long Persephone has heard her mother apologize. Maybe she isn’t out of tears after all. She hugs Demeter, her arms wrapped tightly around her, like she might squeeze the life out of her. Demeter, however, doesn’t complain. 

As long as she’s got her daughter in her arms, she doesn’t have any reason to. 

They stay there for a long while, cherishing each other’s embrace until finally, the two of them have had enough crying for the night. The glow of the sunset is finally spilling in through the windows, and exhaustion (mental and physical) has finally seeped into Persephone’s bones. But, she doesn’t make to leave. Instead, she looks up at her mother and gives her the eyes of a child.

“Can I stay here tonight, mama?” she asks carefully. 

As if Demeter could say no. Demeter couldn’t say no. 

Things aren’t okay. Persephone doesn’t think they’re even close. But Demeter has never been so willing to fix things, to acknowledge her missteps in parenting. So, when Persephone crawls into her bed the way she did as a small girl, she holds her close. Persephone revels in it. She lets Demeter wrap her arms around her, and mutter sweet, comforting things while she gently scratches Persephone’s head. She remembers this so vividly. Persephone has felt small most of her life, but curled up in Demeter’s arms—that’s a completely different level. Demeter still whispers soothingly to her. Te amo, mi niña. Estoy aquí para tí. Te amo. 

It’s not unlikely that Persephone is crying as she finally drifts off to sleep with a dull aching headache, the product of crying far too much. But it’s more than the sadness running through her veins and gnawing at her heart. It’s the weight of all the years that have passed, all the things she’s done and seen—it’s knowing that maybe Demeter was right. Through all of her faults and the things she wasn’t able to teach Persephone, maybe there was truth in some things she did and said. 

Maybe, it has to hurt before it gets better. 

Chapter Text

Hades’ therapist can’t squeeze him in. 

He wants so desperately to let out everything that’s been building up for the past week, because the only people he’s seen are Hecate, his dogs, and Minthe. Of course, he’s seen his employees, walking in and out of the building, but has Hades really even processed them? It seems as though the rest of the world has turned gray around him, and he’s left with no way to color it back in. Just last week his world was vibrant, vivid and lively with sounds of sweet laughter and the touch of tender hands.

Now—now it’s all gone. She hasn’t been to work all week, all the way up until Friday. He doesn’t blame her. 

Still, Hades isn’t even really completely there as he walks around with Minthe by his side, at that ridiculously tacky and overpriced beach venue she seems to love so much. He doesn’t listen, only catches small parts of, “So, the rush will be hard, but we can make do,” from their wedding planner. 

Minthe says something like, “I’m sure we’re willing to pay whatever we can to make up for the late notice. Right, dear?” 

Hades’ mind is lightyears away, but he still gives a small, “Uh-huh.” 

There’s a heart-wrenching weight in Hades’ chest, and it’s been there ever since he got home from New York, weighing him down with every lug of a step. Ever since he came home to Minthe in tears, having to soothe her and ignore the incessant buzzing of his phone until finally, it was rendered silent. Things happened too quickly, too much all at once, but Hades knew two things: Minthe needed him, and he’d have to tell Persephone that very fact. 

Hades isn’t sure if he was in the right mindset to make these decisions for any of them. For himself, for Minthe, for Persephone, or for the new life that was growing in that very second. In fact, he’s certain there is no correct mindset for situations like this. But, he made the decision anyways, when he wrote that letter and stopped by that flower shop the next morning. 

He had to ignore the utter and painful regret that was beginning to steep in his soul as soon as he sent the flowers. There was no doubt about that. 

It’s just—hard. Hades is unsure which type of broken home is worse. Even so, he’s so willing to try and make it good for the little pea that he already loves with his entire heart. As soon as the words finally left Minthe’s mouth, he knew. He had to try. If he tried, that would account for something. Right?

The voice in the back of his mind, though, mocks him. Is it the right decision, or are you just a fool?

Hades would love to answer it. 

But—Hades’ therapist can’t squeeze him in. 

The car ride back to the office is quiet. The only thing to break the silence are the dings of his phone.  

Zeus: HEY. Brunch was at ELEVEN. What happened to GIVING A HEADS UP. 

Posie: I made crepes :( 

Hades ignores the messages completely. He goes through the motions of his day, and drops Minthe off at home. He advised her to take an early leave. They had a lot to focus on over the next month, over the next several months, and he didn’t want to stress her out more than necessary. He could handle things while she was away, he’s sure of it. Even after everything, he’s still willing to take care of her. After every fight, and every time they teetered on a break-up. Hades couldn’t just let her suffer, no matter the horrible things she’s ever done or said. 

Going into work with the intent of actually getting stuff done seems easy. Hades thinks he can handle it. There is now a team of people working on the project he was working on with Persephone, and Hecate has more or less filled her shoes since she hasn’t been to work all week.

Hades can handle it. 

It doesn’t take much to prove him wrong—it’s seeing her that wipes those ambitions from his mind, standing there at the door to her office. 

Hades stops dead in his tracks, every sense and instinct in his body begging him to chase after her, to talk to her, to please just see her again. 

His brain short circuits when she notices that he’s there. If Hades thought she looked so, so sad before, he doesn’t know if there’s a word for the look in her eyes now. He nearly goes to say something, almost steps forward, but she’s too quick open her office door and scurry in. The deafening slam of her door makes Hades jump in his spot, his body shuddering with painful, prickly chills. 

Hades remains still, but his heart is relentlessly shattering in his heart. The leftover shards are piercing whatever is left. 

“Okay, what the hell is going on?” 

Hecate’s voice cuts through him like a knife, a harsh tug back down to Earth. He turns to see her there with squinted eyes as she looks at him knowingly. Hades is sure she doesn’t even have to ask. But, for the first time in a very long time, he’s not quick to break under her gaze and tell her everything. Everything

“What?” he opts for instead. 

“No, don’t play coy with me. I saw that. This week has been weird as hell. Kore misses almost an entire week of work, you’ve been moping, Minthe is on leave? You’ve barely said two words to me all week, what in God’s name is—”

“Nothing,” Hades quickly says, curt and low. “Everything is fine.”

Hecate sends Hades a glare. It’s not as cold as usual, and Hades can almost see the concern deep within it. But, it’s a glare nonetheless. 

“You don’t always have to be a goddamn brick wall, Hades,” she huffs. She doesn’t try any longer. Instead, she shoves a file folder into Hades’ chest and crosses her arms over her own. “Fine. Whatever. Those are permit requests you need to go over and approve. Get back to me whenever.”

Hecate is more flippant than usual. It’s actually causing Hades’ heart to snap more than it already has over this past week. Especially when she doesn’t say another word; she walks off towards her office, and Hades has to listen to yet another door slam. She didn’t even attempt to pry. Everything is falling apart. 

The burden is crushing him, slowly splintering the thin sheet of ice that he’s managed to place himself on. He can’t think straight for a single moment the rest of the day, even when it’s well past check out time and he’s only gotten three signatures down. 

Hecate doesn’t come to say goodbye like she normally does. 

Everyone in Hades’ life glaring down at him, hounding him with a thousand things he has to do, has to choose. The louder their voices get, the smaller he feels. He can feel the walls closing in on him, and his chest getting tighter with each passing moment. Seeing Persephone didn’t help. She couldn’t even look at him for more than five seconds. Hades knows what he did, and she’s the big, glaring reminder of one of his worst mistakes in life. The voice in his head keeps tormenting him: Is this the right decision? You fool. You idiot. It won’t stop sneering at him.

Hades, as far as he can tell, has no one to turn to. He wants to call out for his mother and beg for her advice, but he knows that’s not an option. The thought brings a tear or two to his eyes. Somehow, he still knows what she’d say anyways. Things are messy, aren’t they, little one? You can clean it up though. I know you can.

Can he?

Hades doesn’t leave his office until there is no one left besides the overnight staff; the security guards and custodial. The streets of downtown have cleared out somewhat. He takes note of it when he finds himself taking a different direction than usual. He knows exactly where he’s going, but he doesn’t really process it until he’s there. 

Anyone that knows Hecate would know her house just by looking at it. Sleek, modern, clean; different tones of gray adorn the house. The hedges are trimmed perfectly and there is not one pebble or walking stone out of place. Her beat up, older, blue Volkswagen Beetle, the perfect contrast to her contemporary home, sits outside and it relieves Hades’ heart to see it. She’s home. Whether or not she’ll be welcoming is a different story. 

Despite it all, he walks up the steps to her door and rings the far too ominous doorbell that bellows through the house. Hades’ fiddles with his thumbs—typical. 

It’s the sight that Hecate sees when she opens the door, Hades standing there, head bowed like a child who was caught doing something wrong. His tail is completely tucked between his legs. 

Hecate’s cat greets him before she does, meowing loudly as she steps out to curl around his legs. It’s the only thing to make a slight smile twitch on his lips for the first time all week. When Hades finally does look up, though, it’s to the same look Hecate had earlier that day. 

Without saying a word, she turns around and walks away, leaving the door wide open. Hades stands there, dumbfounded for a moment before he hears her sigh. 

“Close the door behind you,” she calls to him. 

Hades is quick to obey her before she changes her mind. 

 

 

Meow.

“Ow,” Hades deadpans. 

Purrrrrrr.  

“Let her knead, Hades, she missed you,” Hecate huffs. 

Hades doesn’t push the cat away, even though she’s most certainly ruining his pair of pants as she kneads, unrelenting, at his thigh. She’s purring though, even drooling a little as she nudges her head against his hand. He caves and gives her the scratches she so deserves. He wonders briefly if the dogs would like a cat in the house. 

It’s been—well, Hades doesn’t know how long he’s been sitting in Hecate’s living room with her, stewing helplessly in an awkward silence. It could have been minutes, or even hours. Nothing has been making sense to him lately anyways. The words he’s been trying to say are trapped right there in his throat, in the form of the most uncomfortable mass wedged right in there. Every time he opens his mouth to speak, nothing comes out. 

Hades sighs. He hangs his head, burying his face in his hands.

“I’m sorry,” he finally says, muffled by his hands, but most certainly loud enough for Hecate to hear. 

“Huh? What was that?” Hecate says anyways. Hades can feel her eyes on him, and hear the sarcasm in her voice. 

Letting out a heavy breath, he looks up at her. “I said I was sorry.” 

“Hm. I’ll forgive you in about twenty minutes.” 

Hades pouts.

“Maybe fifteen if you tell me what’s going on.”

It happens again. Words get lodged in his throat, because everything he wants to tell her is already blanketing him with hot shame. He’s embarrassed, and upset, and so angry with himself that he doesn’t want anyone to know. He knew earlier that if he’d shown up to brunch with his brothers, he would have spilled his guts, and he wasn’t completely prepared for that. He’s not even sure if he’s completely prepared for this. But, he looks at Hecate with glistening eyes anyways, and chokes a little. 

“I—” Hades takes a deep breath. “Minthe is pregnant.” 

There’s a pause. Even the cat has stopped kneading at his thigh, and she lets out a long mrooooow that fills the newfound silence that has fallen upon them. At least until Hecate lets out a choked noise. 

“Holy shit.” 

The look in Hecate’s eyes is nearly unreadable, but it still churns a sick feeling in Hades’ stomach. 

“And—”

There’s an ‘and’?!” 

Hades lets out a pained groan.

They both sigh. Hecate looks as if she’s about to fly off the handle, containing every ounce of stress she’s been holding in this week due to this one very big, shocking, excruciating piece of news. She composes herself though. “Continue.”

It’s now or never. This is the one person Hades can truly trust. 

“Kor—Persephone and I...we were...intimate. In New York.”

What?!” 

Hecate loses it. She flies out of her seat, staring Hades down with wide and bewildered eyes. She starts spewing off, saying everything that her tired little mind can think of, even cursing in her native tongue a few times. What were you thinking? How could you do that? Is that why she missed three days of work? What the—

“I’m in love with her.” 

Hecate stops. The pacing she began to do comes to an end and she looks at Hades. Her eyes are much softer now, and her chest is rising and falling with anxious breathing, but she still looks as disoriented as ever. 

“You’re what?” 

“I’m in—”

“No, shut up, I heard you the first time.”

Hades frowns. 

“I just—what is going on, Hades?”

Hades doesn’t know the exact answer to that question. He looks at Hecate, and can’t really control it when his eyes begin to brim with tears. He hadn’t said either of those things out loud to anyone yet, and the fracturing reality of it all hits him full force with a bludgeoning blow. The same tightening in his chest occurs, the one he’s been feeling since he was a child. His hands begin to shake.

“I don’t know.”

Hecate’s shoulder falls when she hears the crack in Hades’ voice. She makes the few steps to his side and sits next to him, instantly wrapping her arms around him. Hades doesn’t let himself sob, not yet at least. He accepts her embrace though and leans into it. 

“Oh, Hades,” Hecate sighs gently. “You’re such a fool sometimes.”

There is no rebuttal to this. Hades knows it deep down in his bones, to his very core, that he’s managed to derail several aspects of his own life single-handedly. 

It’s absolutely searing his soul to know, burning him alive and reducing him to ashes.  

“Not just because of this,” Hecate adds, her voice still remaining as soft as she can keep it, “but you’re trying to hold yourself together by yourself when you shouldn’t.”

“I have to!” Hades says then, choked out in a gasp. “I’m the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, my fiancée is having my child, I’m in love with one of my employees, and I think I broke her damn heart!” 

“Shh, Hades, calm down,” Hecate croons, pulling back to hold his face in her perfectly manicured hands. She looks into his eyes, and even though Hades wants to, he doesn’t look away. “You don’t have to be like him all of the time. You’re no titan, and neither was he.” 

He kept his shit together, Hecate,” Hades breathes out. “Yeah, he used some pretty fucked up tactics, but he kept it together; no matter how many affairs he had, or shady business deals, or the way he treated his family. He kept it together! Because of that, I have to.”

“He didn’t keep it together, Hades,” Hecate says sternly, her eyes boring into him. “You keep it together. Yeah, you’ve made a handful of mistakes over the past several weeks, but at least you’re going to learn from it. He never learned. Not after the third kid, not after the tenth affair, never. I know the last person you want to be like is Cronus.” 

Hades shivers at his father’s name. He feels his stomach churn uncomfortably. 

...the last person you want to be like is Cronus. But, doesn’t he? He spent years upon years in his father’s shadow, repeating his every move because he had a legacy to live up to. He had to train to take over the company, to make their family look good. Hades remembers all the tough days, messing up just slightly and being reprimanded for it. If all of it wasn’t to turn out just like him, then what was it for? 

It isn’t until then does he realize that the voice in the back of his head all these years wasn’t his conscience. Every step along the way, it wasn’t himself trying to lead him down the right path. The voice that he was looking for that night on the balcony, the one he waited on to stop him from kissing Persephone—it wasn’t his own. The one time he’d managed to shut it out, to stop it from scorning him, he was with her.

“This is a shit show, Hades,” Hecate whispers then. “Like, it’s messed up beyond belief. But let go. You can’t keep bottling all of this in. You’ll never find a solution until you do.” 

A tear rolls down Hades’ cheek that Hecate promptly wipes away. 

“What if I can’t fix it?” Hades says, his voice as small as ever. “I just want it all to be okay.” 

“Then you move on,” Hecate tells him. “But you’ve got to stop settling for okay, Hades. Sometimes things won’t be okay, and that’s just life. But if you can get better than okay, then take it. You have to make the choices to get there.” 

“I think she hates me,” Hades mutters. Hecate sighs. 

“Maybe she does,” Hecate says, and his heart stings. “Maybe she doesn’t. You can explain the rest to me over tea, and we can try to assess. Until then...breathe. Get out of your own head. We’ll try to figure this out together.”

For the first time all week, Hades feels his soul settle. Not completely, but at least he doesn’t feel quite as lost anymore. The map laid before him is still blurry as he looks it over in his mind. But, it’s there, at least. This time, he may not have to listen to the nasty voice in his head. 

 

 

“Well, look who decided to show up.”

Hades has the briefest thought of turning around and heading back to work, but he decides against it. He’s already here, and after the two weeks he’s had, he needs to see his brothers. Maybe just a little. 

So, even if part of him might regret it later, Hades steps past Zeus and into his home. The all too fantastic home, oozing with the pretentious, flashy, epitome of grandeur. If Zeus could have it adorned in gold, he absolutely would. In fact, he might be planning on it. 

Zeus still manages to greet Hades with a sly smile that Hades can barely return. He tries his hardest though. He doesn’t need to get interrogated right away. 

“Brunch at your place this time, huh?” Hades inquires instead, following Zeus to the garden in the back of his home where Poseidon is waiting happily, shuffling a deck of cards. He beams when he sees Hades, actually, and it pulls at his heart a little. Poseidon has always been the one to adore him, just a little. He always mimicked Hades as a child, looked up to him, saw him as a protector. Because he was. Poseidon was the most grateful for Hades. 

“Well, Poseidon’s was last week. You’d have known if you’d gotten back to either of us that morning,” Zeus says, eyeing Hades. There’s a question behind his statement. Hades can tell, but he’s not asking—not yet. 

“Things came up,” Hades offers as an explanation. Zeus squints at Hades though, and hums as he takes his seat at the table. He doesn’t say anything else. Hades takes his own seat across from his brothers. Across the garden, he sees Hera tending to a bush, and offers her a gentle smile, even a small wave. She gives him the kindest eyes when she waves back. They’re almost knowing, and it soothes Hades’ heart, even if just a little. 

“Hera is gardening again?” Hades asks as an attempt to divert the conversation. He knows he won’t be able to hold them off for long, but for the time being, it will have to do. 

“She always comes back to it,” Zeus says, looking back at his wife with the hint of a fond smile. He looks at her the way Cronus used to look at Rhea. Maybe Zeus’ eyes are a bit softer, like he still might have a chance to redeem himself. Like it’s not too late for him. Zeus turns back to Hades and shrugs. “She’s easier to handle when she’s got her hobbies to distract her.”

Hades hums. 

“Amphitrite is putting Tri into surfing lessons,” Poseidon says as he shuffles the deck of cards in his hand once more. “California weather permits it all year round, I guess.” 

Another shuffle of the deck before Poseidon deals the cards, then the chips, to his brothers, setting up for a game that their father taught them. Hades takes the hand dealt to him and looks at it, biting back his sigh. He resists the urge to fold immediately.

“Maybe Hebe can join,” Zeus responds. Hades watches him glance at his cards, sees the little scrunch of his nose. He reaches for his drink though, and takes a slow sip. “Hera probably wouldn’t be too happy. But I think she’d have fun.” 

“Remember when we tried taking boards down to Santa Monica and we broke the rack on dad’s Jeep?” Poseidon recalls with a snicker. 

Hades can’t help the small twitch of his lips at the memory of the three of them trying frantically to fix the car before they went home. It didn’t work. 

“He was so pissed,” Hades says with a weak chuckle. It’s a funny memory at first, remembering the pure panic Zeus had felt because he was the one who’d done it. But his eyes stay glued to the cards in his hands, and he tenses a little as his mind recounts the rest of that memory. He made sure his little brothers were out of the room, like every other time, not there to witness the wrath of their father that Hades knew would ensue, over a small mistake. Over something that could easily be fixed with the money they most certainly had enough of. 

Hades remembers how that ended. He was the only one there to witness it; he had made sure of it, the way he made sure Zeus never got in trouble for what he did. Hades’ eyes go stoic, that faint smile of his lips pursing back into a flat line. 

Hades doesn’t see Poseidon glancing at him with careful eyes, but he hears him clear his throat and push a few chips towards the center of the table. 

“So,” Poseidon says, reaching for his drink with his free hand, “we got a special little email last week. Didn’t think e-vites were your thing, Hades.”  

Hades pulls himself out of it. There it is. Slowly, he takes a breath and reaches for his own drink. He downs the majority of it in one fell swoop. He knows he might need it. 

“They’re efficient,” Hades responds once his glass is set down. Finally, he musters a small smirk to return to his mouth. Zeus only rolls his eyes, folding his cards.

“I’ll assume they were Minthe’s idea,” Zeus says. 

“We didn’t have time for formal invitations,” Hades sighs. In an instant, he can see their interests pique completely. 

“So...is there a reason for the sudden change? I mean, I just got my Save the Date, and it smelt so nice,” Poseidon says with a small huff. There’s even a pout on his lips as he looks at his older brother. 

“Yeah,” Zeus adds, “I mean, that’s a pretty big jump. This isn’t a shotgun wedding, is it?” 

There is amusement in Zeus’ voice, and both him and Poseidon laugh together. But, when the color drains from Hades’ face and he doesn’t laugh too, or give some sort of a quip, they are quick to cease. They learn right away that this isn’t a laughing matter. 

“Oh, holy fuck.” 

Hades,” Zeus says, sitting up straight. For once, he sounds as serious as he can try to be. “Hades, Hades, come on. You’re joking, right?”

Hades gulps. “I’m folding,” he says. Then as he looks up at them, “She’s two months along.”

Two months?!” Zeus and Poseidon exclaim in unison, their cards quickly leaving their hands and scattering on the table.

“I don’t—can we talk about something else? It’s been a hard couple of weeks.” 

Hades takes a breath to compose himself. After spending the night with Hecate last Friday, he’d let out most of his frustrations. He cried, and talked about things he hasn’t talked about in years (even with his therapist), and got a little tipsy. But it was enough to help him through the next week, enough to help him swallow all of the looks that Persephone gave him if they ever crossed paths—or the looks that she didn’t give. At some point in the week, Hades could tell that she couldn’t even stand to look at him, and it broke his goddamn heart. 

“Okay,” Zeus says after taking a deep breath, “fine. What should we talk about then, huh?”

“Definitely not babies!” Poseidon shouts with a wavering grin, and Zeus is quick to kick him underneath the table. 

Hades throws his head onto the table and groans, doing whatever he can to suppress the impending panic.  

“What’s this about babies?”

Hera’s voice comes from a few feet away. When Hades turns his head to look, she’s approaching them in her pretty little sundress that the weather, even in the beginning crests of autumn, justifies. Her sun-kissed skin and golden hair glow in the sunlight as she approaches them with a raised brow.

“Nothing,” Zeus is quick to say. He reaches for his wife’s hand, and offers her a kind, secretive smile. Zeus wears the same, weak poker face from earlier, the one he never learned to improve or be any good at. If he was, Hera would still trust him. 

“Hm,” Hera says, pulling her hand back when Zeus lifts it to press a kiss onto the back of it. “You’re a very bad liar, Zeus.” Then, she looks to Poseidon, giving him those eyes of hers. “Posie…”

“No, no, don’t,” Hades speaks up finally. Poseidon’s lips are trembling with the urge to spill, and Hades doesn’t want Hera to find out that way. “Can I—can I just tell you later on? I promise I will. I just want to think about something else today, please?”

Hera’s eyes soften as she looks at Hades. There it is again, like she just knows. Maybe not exactly, but she’s always been one of the only people who gets him. It’s never just a hunch with her. She recedes, and nods her head. 

“Of course, Hades,” she says gently. “But I’m going to hold you to that.”

Hades musters the smallest smile. “I wouldn’t expect any less from you.” 

With that, Hera turns on her heel to head back inside her home. Hades sighs to himself, turning back to his brothers. 

“Does anyone want to hear about the tattoo I’m getting with Amphitrite?”

Hades furrows his brow at his brother. He has about a thousand things to say in response to that, and only about five of them are nice. The rest are witty remarks about how he’s not in college anymore, or how even though he loves his dear wife so, so much, that may not be the best idea. But Hades can tell that Poseidon is at least trying, so, he smiles. 

“I think I’d really like to, yes,” Hades says, and Poseidon grins. 

For the first time in a while, Hades thoroughly enjoys the rest of brunch with his brothers. 

 

 

When Hades gets back to the office, things are quiet. They’re still, almost too tranquil to be safe. 

The temp PA filling Minthe’s space while she’s gone greets him kindly. It’s almost nice to have an unfamiliar face around, one to smile at him without knowing everything that’s going on inside his troubled little mind. But, when he passes by Persephone’s office, it’s empty. It’s well past lunchtime, but Hades feels his gut twist with the knowledge that he’s the one pushing her away. 

Hades sighs. He heads to his own office to find Hecate sitting in there. The look on her face isn’t one that he likes to see, and his heart is already fortifying itself. 

“Hades…” Hecate says carefully. 

“Who died?” Hades huffs, weakly attempting a joke. 

Hecate doesn’t laugh though. She looks down at her lap for a moment, takes a deep breath, and looks back up at him. 

“I—Kore, she...she put in her two weeks, Hades.”

Chapter Text

Her neighbors are getting tired of her. One of them has absolutely already banged on her wall from the other side, but Persephone can’t bring herself to care. Nothing, not even the knock on her door, can move her from her spot on the couch where she’s lying with a pillow over her face. She hears the knock again, but doesn’t budge. Persephone is sure it’s her pissed off neighbor coming to threaten her, maybe break her speakers for her, but she can’t care. Instead, she lets out a loud groan that is muffled by the pillow over her face. 

For a moment, silence. 

Then, her door is opening. Thanks to her habit of not locking doors all of the time, someone is probably coming in to rob her, or murder her in cold blood, and she might just welcome them with open arms. 

“Oh god,” a familiar voice comes from the door, “she’s listening to her Sad Kelly Clarkson playlist and she’s ‘gardening.’”

Persephone finally musters the energy to pull the pillow down far enough to see Eros and Artemis standing over her with the most sympathetic looks in their eyes. Artemis is holding two bottles of wine in her hands. 

Genuinely, she knows she’s a sight to see right now. She’s in her old sweats and a battered tank top, surrounded by the small plants she usually keeps in her kitchen. They’ve been keeping her company ever since she got back from her mother’s. But, on her coffee table, they’re accompanied by an already empty bottle of wine, her half empty takeout boxes, and a nearly completed box of tissues. The used ones are strewn around her. 

Persephone’s eyes are puffy and tired as she looks up at her friends, but she hasn’t been able to cry anymore for the past few hours. She cried a lot at Demeter’s, but it felt nice, in a weird way. In all honesty, Persephone is just waiting. If, in fact, it has to hurt before it gets any better, she’s trying so desperately to expel all of the pain and aching out of her system. She’s tired of feeling this way, of thinking about him and his dumb, stupidly cute, annoying face. She wishes she could stop the memories of New York from coming back, and that she didn’t see him at work when she finally decided to go back (even if she cooped up in her office ninety-nine percent of the time. She feels so bad for neglecting POP, leaving Hecate to pick up her slack). But, she can’t help it. She’s going to have to put herself through the wringer until “better” is within arms reach. 

A sigh comes from Eros, and he lifts the pillow off of her completely, making her whine and reach for it. He keeps it away from her, so Persephone huffs and grabs another pillow off her couch to replace the other one over her face. 

Persephone,” Eros coaxes while Artemis sets down the other two bottles of wine and turns down the music that is honestly just a tad bit too loud. “Honey, your Pomegranate Music account says you’ve been listening to the same playlist for six hours now. I think you’re depressing your neighbors.”

“You only take the plants out of the kitchen when you’re upset,” Artemis adds as she sits down on the recliner across from the couch, frowning at her downtrodden friend. “What’s wrong, Perse? Talk to us, please. We’re worried.”

Persephone only whines behind her pillow, “Life is ugly.” 

Artemis and Eros share a look, then peer back at Persephone. 

“Angel,” Eros starts gently, and sits on the arm of the couch, “this isn’t about Hermes, is it?”

Persephone tenses. She finally takes the pillow off of her face by her own volition and looks up at her friend with a furrowed brow. “What?”

“Well, we just thought—” Artemis says before sighing heavily. “You’ve been sulking. And you haven’t talked to us much since you got back from your trip, and we—now don’t get mad—we knew about you and Hermes.”

They what? Persephone and Hermes decided together that they wouldn’t tell them about— whatever they were doing. Persephone mostly because she wasn’t sure at all whether or not she was actually going to fall for Hermes, but they were just dating. Nothing changed between them besides that, so there wasn’t really anything to tell. But, apparently, that wasn’t the case. 

“He didn’t tell us, I promise,” Artemis continues, but then a sheepish grin crawls on her lips as she lets out a nervous chuckle. “Well, funny story is—I’m the one who told him to go for it. Because you liked him.”

What?” Persephone says again, this time sitting up on her couch. She looks at Artemis, a little bewildered. 

“It worked! Right? I just—he didn’t tell us why it didn’t work out,” Artemis says with a sigh. “So Eros and I were worried. We thought maybe you were listening to Beautiful Disaster on repeat because of…him.”

Persephone can’t think straight for a moment. The pieces begin falling into place slowly; the conversation she had with Artemis that one day, the fact that Hermes jumped at the bit to ask her out almost directly after. Well, okay

Honestly, Persephone is tired of hiding things from her friends. She’s tired of going through this alone, because even her plants are beginning to mope, even if she waters them and gives them sunlight most of the day. It’s not that she was even ignoring them—she just couldn’t face them right away, and only sent short, curt texts in response to theirs to let them know that she was still alive. Hermes even caught her at work a few times, but for the most part, Persephone was—ignoring them. Facing them right away just would have been too hard. She would have burned with shame if she immediately spilled her guts over everything that had happened. 

But these are her best friends. The people that care about her so, so much. They’re just worried, and they want her to be alright. They’re trying. 

So, Persephone groans and buries her face in her hands. 

“Artemis…” she mutters into her palms. “That day—I wasn’t talking about Hermes.”

This time, as her face falls, it’s Artemis that goes, “What.”

Persephone peers up at her with sad eyes. 

“But you—you said— H! You said you worked with him!” Artemis proclaims, starting to panic, just a little. 

“Artemis, did you lead them astray?!” Eros speaks then with a gasp as he looks at Artemis, just as baffled as Persephone was. 

“No! I—maybe?”

“It was Hades,” Persephone says quietly with the slight hopes that they won’t even hear her. But by the looks on their faces, they do. She finishes with a sigh of, “Olympus.”

“Your boss?!” the two of them exclaim. 

Persephone lowers her hands, and her bottom lip begins to tremble. She thought she was out of tears before, but saying it out loud—it hurdles her heart into a buzz saw all over again. 

“Oh, honey pie,” Eros coos when he sees this, slipping by her side as he wraps an arm around her to pull her close. “What is going on?”

“I fell for my engaged boss,” Persephone says simply, her voice dripping with detectable sorrow. She looks up at Eros with a pout. “Who happened to be the guy at the art gallery.”

What?!” Eros exclaims then, his eyes widening all over again. “You—you weren’t going to tell me that you almost hooked up with your new boss at Psyche’s art gallery?!”

Artemis huffs from her spot across from them. “Art gallery? What? Guys, what’s going on?”

“Why do I feel like there’s more to this story?” Eros asks Persephone. She hangs her head once more in response, and sniffles. 

“Because…I slept with him in New York.”

“I—I—” Eros sputters. He’s completely shocked, but Persephone is closing in on herself; he can tell. He reels himself back in and sighs heavily, wrapping both arms around her now. “I have about a million questions,” he says softly, “but I have a hunch that this is why you’re going through your Kelly phase again.” 

Persephone turns to bury her face into Eros’ chest, clinging to him. She cried enough with Demeter, but maybe now it’s time to cry with them as well. It almost feels necessary, because at least now the people she cares about, and those who care about her, know what she’s been holding in. They know why she’s been so distant, so out of it, and she can’t help but cry knowing she decided to recluse. Maybe this would’ve stopped hurting sooner had she turned to them in the first place. 

“I’m sorry,” Persephone murmurs into Eros shirt through the few tears that she’s managed. “I’m sorry for pushing you guys away. I didn’t mean to, I just—I didn’t want you guys to judge me.”

“We would never, Perse,” Eros says assuringly. He pets over Persephone’s slightly unkempt hair, smoothing it over. “We just—I can’t believe you’ve managed to keep this secret for so long. You kept a crush from me! From me!”

“I know,” Persephone groans and looks up at Eros with her glistening eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Artemis speaks up. “We’re sorry. At least I am. I shouldn’t—I shouldn’t have been so assumptious.”

Persephone sends Artemis a weak smile. She’s not even mad at her, because it was an honest mistake. It didn’t go on for very long and Hermes doesn’t hate her for it either. Persephone doesn’t know how she got so lucky with such great friends, but God, she’s so grateful. 

Sighing, Persephone looks back down at her lap. “I just don’t know what to do,” she says quietly. “I thought—he said he—I love him. But he’s…staying with her. I can’t even stand to go into work anymore, and I feel so guilty because of the project. I feel like failing them!”

Eros wipes away some of Persephone’s tears and lets out his own sigh. He shakes his head and gives her a sympathetic smile.  

“I don’t know all the details, and I’m not going to force you to share them, but if…if it’s really paining you, maybe we can help you find another job? Aphrodite is really good with these things, and she knows a lot of people,” Eros tells her. “It can’t be too hard. It’s just—do you want that?” 

Persephone thinks for a moment, a frown playing on her lips. She pulls back from Eros so she can pull her knees up to her chest and hug them close. She props her chin on the tops of them, her brow furrowing. If she’s honest with herself, she doesn’t know. Being so close to Hades once brought her so much joy. She couldn’t help the smile on her face whenever she saw him, or the way her heart helplessly flipped. But now—now, the very few times she’s seen him, she wanted nothing more than to hide. She wanted to run, and cry, and get rid of the burning pain in her chest. It hurt so much. 

She lets out a pathetic noise when she spots something on the table. Why she brought it out, she’s not sure. Persephone thought briefly to tear it up, or burn it, but as she picks up the polaroid from New York and looks at how happy she once looked with him, her chest tightens. She hears Eros let out a sad little sound as he looks at it over her shoulder. 

“I think,” she says, voice small, “maybe I need to start looking elsewhere.”

Eros frowns. But he doesn’t say much else, only nodding his head and petting over her hair once more. “Okay,” he says. “I’ll talk to Aphrodite, okay? Don’t worry. Just—maybe put in your two weeks? The sooner you’re out of there, the better. If that’s what’ll help you.”

Persephone simply nods.

But then, she lets out a weak chuckle. 

“Hey,” she says, throwing the photo back down on the table, “at least this way I won’t have to be around for the wedding.”

Eros retracts his hand. Persephone hears him suck in a small breath, and she looks up to see him and Artemis sharing a look. A look. She lifts her head and frowns heavily.  

“What?” she asks. 

“Perse…” Artemis starts cautiously. 

Eros is the one to sigh again. “I—the wedding. I’m—I’m Aphrodite’s plus one. They moved it up… It’s in two weeks, Perse.”

Persephone doesn’t know if her heart can drop any further. 

“I’ll turn Kelly back up,” Artemis mutters as she gets up, picking up the bottle opener from the coffee table and making the right decision to annoy Persephone’s neighbors once more.

 

 

Hades feels his heart begin to tremble. 

“What?” he barely manages to choke out. 

Hecate lets out a wavering breath. “Kore. She—she put in her two weeks notice today. She came to me and asked who she had to speak to, and I—I had to tell her, Hades.”

“No you didn’t,” Hades immediately says, “you didn’t, you could’ve told her to stay.”

“Hades, that wouldn’t have helped and you know it,” Hecate tells him. 

Hades thinks he feels the ground beneath him begin to shake, or maybe it’s the way his knees are trying to give out on him. Either way, he tries desperately not to flail too much as he reaches for a chair, a stool, anything to sit down on so he doesn’t collapse to the floor. The tension builds up in his chest once more. He’d been doing so much better this week, had a better grip on himself. 

Now he feels like he’s back to square one. 

“I have to talk to her,” Hades says suddenly. 

“Is that the greatest idea right now, Hades?” Hecate sighs. She glances at him with that look though, the one with the soft, sad eyes. 

“Probably not,” he responds. “But I have to try.”

Hecate doesn’t really say anything to stop him. Hades thinks maybe part of her is actually rooting for him, or maybe she’s just too afraid to break his heart even more with the harsh truth that it may be futile. Still, she lets Hades recuperate and stand to his feet before she allows him to leave his office completely. 

Hades is about to pull out his phone to text her, call her, anything to get ahold of her. He learns quickly that it’s unnecessary, because as he strides down the hall, Persephone is returning to her office from wherever she was. Hades’ heart stops for the briefest of moments. 

“Persephone—” 

Persephone stops in her tracks. Those doe-eyes of hers are ones of a genuine deer caught in the headlights. They’re unlike before. They’re not lighting up the way they used to and that melancholy—that melancholy is back, stronger than ever, mixed in with specks of betrayal, hurt. Anger.

“Persephone, I have to—please, can I talk to you?”

Persephone doesn’t even grant him a response. Instead, she turns on her heel and starts to walk away. An unknown force compels Hades to finally follow her, quickly trying to keep up with the pace she’s building as she walks towards the elevator. 

“Persephone, please!” Hades pleads. She’s already pressing the button, summoning the elevator almost immediately. The universe is already not on his side. 

She steps on, and does her best to try and will the doors closed, but Hades slips through just before they do.

Hades can see her lip trembling. 

Maybe this was a bad idea. 

“I don’t have anything to say to you,” Persephone says quickly, keeping her eyes zeroed in on the elevator doors. Her voice is doing what it can to bite back the quaver. 

“Please don’t leave,” Hades rushes out. He doesn’t know what else to say, and she’s going to be getting off in a few floors. He needs to get this out now. A sick part of him has to hope that whatever he has to say may just work. 

No,” Persephone spits, though, “no! You don’t get to say that! You—you—”

“I promise you, it’s not what you think,” Hades whispers brokenly. “I wish I could explain, but I just—I can’t—”

Finally, Persephone looks at him with those fractured eyes of hers, pain settled deep within them. Hades’ heart absolutely shatters. 

“If I decided to forgive you, right here, right now, would you be able to give me a reasonable explanation to any of this?”

Hades stumbles pathetically on his words. 

He can’t. Not yet. 

Persephone lets out a scoff. 

“That’s what I thought.”

The elevator dings, and the doors slide open. 

“Please don’t talk to me again. Goodbye, Mr. Olympus.”

Her words are sharp and cold, cutting through him with their rusted, serrated edge. Hades has no choice but to watch her walk away. There is no missing the tears in her eyes as she steps out of the elevator. She puts on her best faux smile when she sees another employee walking past her and into the elevator with Hades. They press a button, and the doors close, giving him one last painful glimpse of Persephone. 

That sick, hopeful part of Hades has shriveled and died.

Chapter Text

Minthe doesn’t have a favorite flower. 

Hades never took notice before, but sitting here, watching her stress herself out beyond repair over what type of flowers they should have at their wedding is hurting him. They had decided on plain roses ages ago, but turns out she didn’t want those anymore. With a week until their wedding, now was supposedly the best time to make these final changes. 

“Should we just go back to roses?” Minthe sighs heavily as she runs her hand over a bouquet of white roses. “I feel like they’re classy. Are they classy?”

“I liked them,” their wedding planner says, almost exasperatedly. “They tie it all together.”

Hades can only bring himself to give a small hum, clearly very invested in this conversation. He most certainly isn’t looking at the bouquet of peonies across the way. Persephone would have had her mind made up by now. Hades tries feebly to shake himself of these thoughts. 

“Okay, you’re right,” Minthe says and clasps her hands together, “we’ll go back to the roses then.”

Hades turns his head back to Minthe and fights back a glare. He doesn’t know why he’s here. He doesn’t know why he didn’t fight harder to get Persephone to stay, or tell her the real reason they’re not going on their tenth, fifteenth date, and holding each other. His eyes glance down to Minthe’s flat stomach. Or, maybe there’s a bit of a round? Maybe. Hades convinces himself that there is something there. 

The shudder he gets is why he didn’t spill his guts to Persephone when he had the chance. It’s why the only people who know are Hecate and his brothers. Of course, they’d inevitably have to tell people, but he’d rather it be after the wedding, when they can at least say that no, it wasn’t expected but it’s not unwelcome either. 

Hades sighs to himself. He feels like an idiot. Whether or not he’s making the right decision is plaguing him still, and he just wants to stop the pestering of these unanswerable questions. 

The past few days, Hades has been letting his body take control while his mind shuts down for a majority of the time he spends awake; more often than not, it’s most of the day. Hades can barely remember where he is most of the time, his thoughts somewhere distant and far off. In New York, most likely. 

It’s why he almost doesn’t catch it, sitting there at lunch with Minthe while he absentmindedly glosses over the menu. He probably won’t eat much anyways, not if he can’t stomach it. He hasn’t been able to lately. 

But, the waiter—he comes by and offers samples of wine. Hades almost misses it. 

“Of course,” Minthe says happily, holding out an empty wine glass to the offering waiter. Hades lowers his menu slowly and looks at his fiancée. 

“Minthe,” he says, voice low. She barely reacts. “What are you doing?”

Minthe scoffs. “Having wine, what does it look—”

Hades furrows his brow, a scowl dawning over his expression. 

“Oh.” Minthe gulps. “Sorry. It slipped my mind. I’m—I’m still getting used to this.” 

Hades eyes Minthe, curiously and with slight speculation. He doesn’t press on. He isn’t sure if he has the mental energy to do so. Minthe foregoes her wine, and opts for a glass of juice instead. She doesn’t seem too happy about it, but Hades doesn’t think he would be either if he had to give up liquor for the next seven months.  

Seven Months. The thought makes him queasy. 

 

 

The ceiling isn’t all that interesting, but Hades can’t tear his eyes from it. It’s not an unfamiliar occurrence, lying awake in bed in the late (read: early) hours of the night. But lately, it’s been getting worse and worse. No matter what he does, even if he takes a sleeping pill or two before sinking into bed, he can’t get more than an hour of sleep. That hour is unpleasant. Nothing but tossing, turning, groaning, and whining through blurry night terrors. 

Hades is lucky if he falls back asleep after being up for a few more hours. Very lucky. 

But, of course, he’s up thinking about the same things every single night. Of course he can’t keep his mind from racking up every single memory of her, and her kiss or gentle touch. Hades wants to forget the way she held him those nights in New York, letting him rest his head on her chest while he listened to her heartbeat. Her heart was beating for him. He had her, in his grasp, and he was the one who opened his hand to let her go. He didn’t ask her to jump. He didn’t ask her to leave. He made the decision for her.

It’s these thoughts that keep him awake at night. 

Two nights before his wedding, and Hades is awake thinking about a woman who isn’t going to be the bride. 

If Hades had it in him, he might just feel guilty. 

Mostly, he just feels numb. He’s been having to stride through his days trying to feel anything. After it stopped hurting so much, hearing Persephone say goodbye like that, it’s all he could handle. Numb. Dull. Every once in a while, the faintest ache would thrum through him, but it’s the most he could get. 

It mostly happens when he sees her. It’s not often, but when it happens—God, does it hurt. She won’t look at him. She won’t grant him anything that he knows he doesn’t even deserve. If anything at all. Hades wishes he could make it all better for her, wishes he could save her from whatever pain she must be feeling. At some point during his time with her, Hades wanted nothing more than to be the one who made her happy. The one who made her smile, and laugh the way her friends did. Had he come to his senses any time sooner, he might still have that chance. Hades wishes he hadn’t left her stranded. 

He wishes he wasn’t a coward. 

Hades wants nothing more than to be able to make her stay. I can’t lose you completely

He meant that. 

Hades doesn’t fall back asleep that night. He never really expected to. 

He trudges into work with his heavy heart and bags under his eyes. He doesn’t look like a man who is due to get married in a day, or a man who has a “very kick ass bachelor party” (as Poseidon put it) to attend that night. Hades knows it just means another night at their favorite club, and he doesn’t know how to feel about it, but he’ll at least try to have fun.  

People greet him as normal. Those who know congratulate him on his upcoming wedding, even if their smiles are a tad bit unenthusiastic. People know about him and Minthe. They know their deal. He just wishes they didn’t, but he can’t keep things private and secret from the people that work for him. Not entirely. 

Hades sees her again when he gets to his floor, standing there talking to the temp PA. 

For the first time that week, they meet eyes. Persephone doesn’t immediately look away. Hades almost wants her to, because the longer he looks at her, the closer he is to breaking his resolve. If he got her to forgive him, maybe they could run off to Europe, recluse for a few years until everyone forgot. In a perfect world. 

Hades swallows the lump in his throat, his hands clenching at his side until finally, she looks away. There’s a glimpse of something in her eye, but Hades can’t quite make it out. 

He misses her. 

Hades has to walk past and pretend he doesn’t even know her. 

 

 

Zeus: HURRRRRRY. THE COMPANY WON’T DIE WITHOUT YOU FOR ONE DAY.

Hades: It’s 4:30.

Zeus: Yeah, but. Pre-gaming. California laws withhold the good stuff from us around the bare 🍈🍈

Hades: Yeah, because you can’t restrain YOURSELF around the 🍈🍈 when you’re drunk.

Zeus: When I’m drunk? Haha. 

Hades lets out a breath of a chuckle. He doesn’t entertain Zeus with a reply, but he will abide by one of his wishes and finish up. He’s not being very productive anyways. Hasn’t been at all these past few weeks. So, Hades gets up with a stretch. 

All day long, he’s been trying to convince himself that maybe this will be fine, Persephone leaving. For the both of them. Maybe, by the grace of whatever greater being, they can move on. He tries to convince himself, at least. 

With a sigh, Hades gathers his things and makes to leave. He doesn’t get too far down the hall when he hears the bouts of laughter coming from one of the conference rooms. He approaches it cautiously. His heart cracks when he sees what’s taking place on the inside. 

There’s a small, pink cake on the table, sweating under the fluorescent lights. There aren’t many people, but Hades recognizes most of them as the people who joined in on the POP project over the last few weeks as they began their first steps of execution; researchers, planners, financial advisors. Hecate is there along with Hermes, who looks a little wistful, standing close to his friend like he doesn’t want her to leave. 

At the center of it all—Persephone. 

She’s got this sheepish little smile on her face as people thank her for the work she’s done in the small amount of time she’s been there. They’re going to miss her, they say. Olympus couldn’t have done it without you, you know that?  

Hades sees Persephone wince as she nods her head. 

Hecate is the first to see him at the door. 

“Hades,” she breathes, clearing her throat, “hi. Er—it’s Kore’s last day. If you wanted to say goodbye. There’s cake, courtesy of Hermes.”

Hades chokes on his words. Of course he doesn’t want to say goodbye. But, for all that it’s worth, he might as well try. 

“I—just. Thank you for all your work, Miss Eleusinia,” Hades says quietly. 

He tries to meet her eye, but hers are averted down as she mutters under her breath: “Thank you.” 

Hades can see the glare that Hermes is trying so hard to contain. He must know. For a brief moment, Hades can’t quite believe that Persephone has a friend like him. Maybe he’s been taking care of her, and maybe Hades doesn’t deserve to feel the slight tinge of jealousy at the thought. He knows he doesn’t deserve to.  

“I should go, actually,” Hades says, mostly to Hecate. “I’ll…see you tomorrow though.” 

“Of course,” Hecate says, but it’s the most she tells him. She won’t say the words wedding, or married, or anything to make Persephone look more wounded than she already does. 

Hades steals one more glance at Persephone. She actually looks up at him right before he makes any move to leave. 

This is it. For all that Hades knows, this will be the last time, at least for a while, that he’s going to see Persephone. A blade slides slowly, agonizingly into his heart at the thought. He thinks once more that if he just made the decision to beg, to tell her he’s making a mistake, that he’d still have a chance. 

Hades didn’t know before he met Persephone that, once he met someone like her, giving them up would be the hardest thing he’d ever have to do in life. He didn’t know that standing there, seeing that look in her eye would hurt him this bad. He couldn’t tell what it was before, but now he can almost make it out—behind the sadness and the anger, there’s a weak plead; Please don’t go. 

Persephone’s lips part with unspoken words, but not a single sound passes them. Even though every fiber of his being wants Hades to stay, to get her to say those words he’s aching to hear. If she did, he just might, but there’s one inkling of a thing holding him back. 

The difficulty of walking away completely overwhelms Hades, and he just might shed a tear on his way out. 

 

 

“Thank you for the ride, Hermes.”

Persephone looks at her friend, relishing in the time she’s been able to finally spend with him again since the night she ended what they had going on. Artemis had invited him over the night they were there, because Persephone asked. If they knew everything, it was only fair that he did too. She didn’t like keeping secrets from her friends.  

Telling Hermes was the hardest part. But of course, in usual Hermes fashion, he was so understanding and caring. (“Oh,” he’d said, a little dumbfounded. Still, nothing, not even the slight pang in his chest, stopped him from asking, “Am I allowed to get Artemis to at least key one of his many cars.”) She didn’t cry once while he was there. Like always, Hermes was the one to make sure she didn’t.  

Hermes, though, just waves Persephone off. “You know it’s not an issue,” he tells her. “Besides, it’s been a long last day. I figured I’d spend at least a little bit more time with you, if you’re feeling sad at all.” 

Persephone lets out a small hum, but she shakes her head. 

“It’s not as bad as I thought it’d be,” she says, somewhat honestly. “Thank you for putting together that little party. It really meant a lot to me.”

Hermes offers Persephone a friendly grin. “You deserved it, Perse. You’ve literally only been there for two months and everyone loves you so much.”

Persephone goes bashful. She looks down at her lap and toys with the hem of her skirt. Everyone loves you so much. Everyone? Persephone has to do what she can to stop her lip from trembling. She won’t cry, not in front of Hermes right now, or he’ll bend over backwards to make sure she stops. Right now, with all the emotion that is brewing within her, she maybe just needs to be alone and cry to herself. Just for the night. 

“Thank you, Hermes,” Persephone says gently enough so that her voice doesn’t waver. “I—I should get inside now. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow...I’ve got to clean out my office, and I was just...I didn’t really want to do it today.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Hermes says and nods his head. “I can help you, if you’d like. But I’ll be there. Hades didn’t exactly...invite me, or anything.”

Fighting back a wince, Persephone sighs. “Yeah. Okay,” she tells him. “Good night, Hermes. Thank you.” 

Persephone leans over to press a tender kiss to Hermes cheek that he smiles faintly at. But she knows, as does he, what it means. The feeling left on his cheek is Thank you for being my friend. And that’s the best either of them could have asked for. 

As she goes up to her apartment and loosens up, letting out the tension of the day, Persephone tries her best to forget the look in Hades’ eye when he said goodbye. When she saw him for, presumably, the last time. Persephone didn’t know that it could hurt worse than it already did. 

Part of her thought he’d stay. A childish, foolish part. 

Sighing, Persephone rolls her neck as she climbs into bed with her phone, just as it begins to ring. 

She answers it without really even looking at the caller ID. 

“Kore?”  

“Oh! Hecate, hello.”

Persephone is a bit surprised to hear her voice over the line, but she’s not upset with it. In fact, it’s nice. They’ve been so busy, so frazzled lately, they haven’t had time to just talk in a while. Persephone knows that this isn’t what this phone call is about, most likely, but she’ll take it anyways. 

“Hello,” Hecate says kindly; Persephone can hear the small smile in her voice. “I just wanted to call and make sure you knew where to go to pick up your last check. It slipped my mind earlier.”

“Oh,” Persephone says, “actually, no. But, I’ve got some things to get from my office anyways, so I can do it tomorrow?”

Hecate hums. “Of course. I know it’s been all direct deposit until now, but last paychecks are physical, so you’re just going to have to go to Payroll on the eightieth floor.” 

Persephone nods even though Hecate can’t see her, so she adds a small noise of confirmation. “Got it. I’ll do that tomorrow then…” she says. Then, with a wistful sigh, “Also, Hecate…thank you for everything.”

“Kore…” Hecate lets out a breath into the receiver. “Thank you. I hope you’ve been okay.” 

Persephone can’t help but feel it in her bones. If Hecate doesn’t know, she’d be genuinely surprised. But even if she does, Persephone can’t be mad at anyone for it, not even Hades. She’s seen how close they are, how much they mean to one another. So, Hecate’s words soothe her, even just a little. 

“It’s bittersweet, leaving,” Persephone admits. “I wish I could’ve stayed longer.”

“Us too,” Hecate tells her. Persephone feels her heart clench. Us. She knows she probably means everyone else, including herself, but deep down, Persephone has a suspicion that she only means two of them. Two. “It’s just a tad bit upsetting, you know? That you’re the one who put so much heart into this project of yours, and you won’t be around to see it finished.” 

Persephone can hear a hitch in Hecate’s tone. She sighs, though, “I know.”

Then, Hecate lets out a huff of slight frustration. “And if things had gone better, you’d get the recognition you deserve. I wanted you on the team for a reason, and I just—of course, there’s nothing we can do about it. But there’s so much going on, that having you around would make me a little bit more sane. Just so you know...there’s always a place for you.” 

Persephone lets out a wavering chuckle. “I’m sorry, Hecate. For being so absent. For everything.”

“It’s not you that has to be sorry, Kore. Everything seems to be falling apart here lately, and that’s hardly something to fault you for,” Hecate assures her, but Persephone can hear something in her voice, something frantic and stressed beyond repair. Persephone goes to speak, but Hecate continues with, “And because you’re not around for this anymore, I’m picking up the slack since he is barely in his office anymore, busy playing house with Minthe and the baby—‘The dress still has to fit, Hecate, the wedding has to be pushed up, or else—’ God, I just—!” Hecate, having worked herself up to venting abruptly cuts herself off with a gasp, realizing that she had let out that secret in her aggravation. She can’t stop the hand that flies to her mouth, and Persephone hears it over the line. 

In her chest, her heart has stalled, almost completely. For a moment, she has to remember to breathe. She barely gets out, “What?”

“Nothing,” Hecate says quickly. Both of them know, though, that there’s no taking back what has just been said. 

Baby?” Persephone breathes out. “Hecate, is Minthe—” 

“Kore,” Hecate starts carefully, her voice quivering, “please don’t tell anyone. I know Hades has done a lot of questionable things lately, but he doesn’t—he doesn’t need—

“I just don’t understand,” Persephone interjects. Crippling anxiety is building within her chest as her mind scrambles to recall everything she’d heard that day in the bathroom. There’s a gut-wrenching, queasy feeling that is making the room spin. “Minthe took a negative pregnancy test the day we left for New York.”

What?”

“I—in the bathroom, she came in—I was there, and she...on the phone. She took a test while I was in there, it was negative. Maybe it—maybe it was false? Faulty? But I just—” 

“Oh, fucking hell.” 

Persephone is sat up in her bed, her chest rising and falling with anxious, labored breathing. “Hecate?”

“That big, foolish, brutish man, I’m about to—Kore. Kore, I have to go.”

“Hecate, wait!”

Persephone realizes too late when Hecate has hung up. It’s safe to say that she no longer feels like crying. She doesn’t feel anything, besides the mind-numbing confusion stirring in her brain. She doesn’t know what is going on, not in the slightest.

Part of her doesn’t even want to find out. 

 

 

Hecate has seen a lot of bullshit in her life. She’s gone through many years of dealing with idiotic behavior and proving herself worthy, placing her where she is now. But the utter and completely frenzied cocktail of emotions coursing through her body as she frantically tries to call Hades, one, two, three times, is absolutely painful. It pairs perfectly with the sickening urge to expel her dinner. She thought the past month has been hell, stressing over a project that wasn’t even hers to begin with, but this takes the cake. 

Answer your fucking phone!” Hecate hisses into the phone when she gets Hades’ obnoxious voicemail yet again. 

A fourth time.

Salutations! Hades here, I’m indisposed. You know what to do!

“Bastard!” Hecate groans heavily. She knows he’s out, knows he’s with his brothers, but he’s never not with his phone. He always answers eventually. Hecate is pushed to calling Poseidon and Zeus, but their phones don’t even give her the courtesy of ringing. 

Along with the fury building in the pit of her gut, Hecate can feel the worry and genuine anxiety stewing with it. 

She’s not getting any sleep that night, and she knows it.

Chapter Text

“Dude. Your friend is really f-fucking annoying.”

“Maybe if you’d give me my phone back, you wouldn’t have to deal with it.” 

Poseidon doesn’t bother to tear his eyes from the woman in front of him, swaying her hips seductively to the rhythm of the music. Zeus is already far gone, receiving what he’s probably going to claim is the best fucking lapdance of his life, like he does every other time. Even with the alcohol in his system and the many scantily clad (or in some cases, nude) women walking around, Hades is distant. Distant, and now unable to distract himself with his phone. He knows exactly where his mind is. 

It’s exactly why Poseidon snagged his phone just as Hecate was calling him. (“No. Work stays at work, you’re going to have fun tonight, or else!”)

Hades huffed like a petulant child, but Poseidon shoved his phone into his pants and didn’t think another thing of it. Hades just didn’t have it in him to stop him.  

“What if it’s—it’s an emergency?” Hades questions with a slight hiccup as he looks at his brother, but all Poseidon does is shush him in his drunken stupor, a finger on Hades’ lips. When Zeus said pre-gaming, he meant it, so they showed up to the club already trying desperately to contain the fact that they couldn’t stand straight or feel the pain of biting their lips. Hades is the most sober of all of them, but still tipsy enough to not feel the urgency he should about Hecate calling so many times. 

“Then she can call the police,” Zeus mutters from beside them, still gazing up at the stunning woman above him. He slips a twenty into her g-string and sinks into his chair with a satisfied grin. “Or literally anyone else.”

Hades lets out a heavy sigh and doesn’t attempt to argue with his brothers anymore. In fact, after the last couple of weeks he’s had, he may just let himself enjoy it. At least for now. 

 

 

The pounding headache that Hades wakes up with is, without a doubt, entirely unwelcome. 

The headache is quickly accompanied by the impending, inevitable, almost frightening thought of one thing: Hades is getting married today.  

Maybe his headache gets worse.

Peeling his eyes open to the blinding sunlight spilling through the windows rips a gravelly groan from Hades’ throat, and the ache of his body is quickly explained by the fact that he’s waking up on a loveseat. His body is contorted slightly to fit on it, with as tall and as broad as he is. 

Apparently with pre-gaming, comes “leave the strip club and drink even more.” 

Hades rubs his eyes, then looks around to see that they’re in his rec room. As it turns out, he was the only one with some sense to sleep with at least some comfort. Poseidon is curled up in the recliner, hugging a pillow to his chest, his pants long gone. Zeus is sprawled on Hades’ pool table, snoring loudly. Hades manages to drag himself off of the loveseat, sighing heavily to himself. 

Slowly, he starts to wake up. At least enough to remember that he hasn’t checked his phone in almost twelve hours. Panic almost settles within him, and it would if he wasn’t so damn tired. 

Hades lugs himself around the room, looking for Poseidon’s pants. He finds them slung over the wet bar, along with empty bottles of wine and cinnamon whiskey (that explains the burning in his throat). But, at least in Poseidon’s pants is his phone. 

“Fuck,” Hades huffs when he discovers that his phone is dead, completely, unable to turn on. Finding a charger won’t exactly be hard, but in that moment, there’s not one in sight. He pockets his phone for the time being and goes to pick up the rest of his belongings strewn haphazardly across the room. 

How they ended up there is unclear to Hades, but he doesn’t have time to question it. He has to get ready for his wedding. To get married. Hades has to swallow down the urge to throw up. It’s just nerves, he tries to convince himself. 

“Get the hell up,” Hades says loud enough to startle Poseidon in his chair. The only thing Zeus does is snore louder in response. 

“No,” Poseidon mutters groggily. 

“I’m leaving then,” Hades says, throwing an extra pillow at Zeus with enough force to startle him into partial consciousness. “See you at the wedding.”

“Oh shit,” is the mumble that comes from Zeus on the pool table. His eyes are still closed and he’s barely even aware, but he’s still able to respond with, “You’re getting married today.”

Hades bites back the Don’t remind me.

He leaves his brothers alone in the rec room. They’ll wake up eventually, and as long as they show up dressed, on time, and not hungover, Hades doesn’t really care what they do between now and then. He has other things to worry about.  

Like finding a charger. 

It really isn’t hard. All Hades has to do is walk into his room and plug it in to the one next to his bed. Knowing it’ll take awhile to regain enough life to turn back on, Hades’ takes it upon himself to shower and start the process of getting ready. Whether or not he purposely lags is his business. 

What is hard is coming back to his phone, finally on. It’s hard—scary, because of what Hades is greeted with. 

31 missed calls from Hecate
10 voicemails from Hecate 
45 texts from Hecate
2 texts from Minthe

Hades’ heart plummets. 

The memories from the night before are blurry to say the least, but he remembers the calls from her, and remembers Poseidon taking his phone because of it. Quickly, he starts the voicemails and is immediately taken aback by the shrill sound of Hecate’s panicked voice as he pulls on a pair of pants. 

Answer your fucking phone! 

Please, Hades, I need you to listen to me. She’s lying. You have to answer your phone. 

I swear to God, Hades, you better be kidnapped or dead, or I’ll do it myself. 

“Ah, fuck,” Hades groans to himself. He doesn’t hesitate to read her texts, more confusing mixes of She’s lying, you have to talk to Minthe, ask her about the pregnancy, Fucking hell, Hades, answer your phone!

What? What was Hecate even talking about? Anxiety begins to steep within the pit of Hades’ stomach. It gets even worse when he tries to call Hecate back, and she doesn’t answer. Not the first, or the second, time. 

Hades opens Minthe’s texts; they’re from this morning.

Minthe: Morning ♥️ I’ll be at the venue early. Thetis and I have some last minute things to do. I love you, and I can’t wait to marry you :)

Minthe: Please don’t be late.

Hades feels sick. Still, he has to finish getting ready. He has to get his tuxedo prepared, and gather all of the things he needs. He tries calling Hecate here and there, between loading his car with his tux and putting glasses of water and pain meds out for his brothers. They’re finally up completely by the time he’s ready to go, and they promise him they’ll be there soon. 

Despite the nervousness instilled in him, not only by the wedding, but by Hecate’s calls and texts, he sets off for the one thing he’s been dreading since it was set in stone for him. 

Hades tries one more time. 

The sound of the ringing sounds through the speakers in his car, for what seems like forever until finally—

“Hades?”

Hecate sounds frantic, flustered and panicked. But, there’s also relief somewhere within her voice. Hades frowns to himself. 

“Hecate—”

“Hades, listen to me,” Hecate interjects suddenly. There is so much desperation in her voice. Hades grips the steering wheel tighter, swallowing the uncomfortable sensation in his throat. “Where are you? I—are you still at home? Is she anywhere nearby?”

Hades’ heart pounds in his chest. “What? Who, Minthe? I’m—I’m on my way to the venue, where are you? She’s there...”

“Fuck. You have to talk to her, Hades, please. She’s lying. She’s not—”

Hecate stops herself. The heavy, unwanted tension is gripping Hades’ heart, pushing him towards a steep precipice. 

“She’s not pregnant, Hades.”

A ringing in his ears. Stillness. The only thing to pull Hades out of it is the honk of a different car when his own begins to veer into the lane next to him. He quickly regains control, his throat going dry. The anxiety he’s feeling comes out in a wavering, weak chuckle. 

“H-Ha ha, Hecate. Good joke,” Hades chokes out. 

“I’m not joking, you idiot!” Hecate groans. Hades can hear rustling around from her end, and then the loud engine of her Beetle. “I’m—fuck. Hades, please believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you, and you know that.”

Hades does. But the sneering voice in the back of his mind is back, snarling at him about how Hecate just doesn’t like Minthe. He tries so desperately to shut it out. This is just a misunderstanding. This isn’t true.

“But she—I—” Hades mutters. 

“Have you gone to the doctors with her? Have you seen any medical records? Anything?”

Hades gulps. In the smallest voice, he says, “She said she’d take care of it all.”

Hecate whines. “Hades…”

“No, I just—no. I’ll talk to her, but you’ve probably—she can’t...” 

“She did, Hades,” Hecate says with as much earnest in her voice that she can muster. Hades can’t even tell that he’s in denial yet. 

“I have to go,” Hades says, voice flat. Hecate barely gets to protest before he uses the button on his steering wheel to end the call. He uses the same one to ignore her call when she tries to call back. 

The long drive up Pacific Coast Highway was once so tranquil to Hades. He’d do it as a teen, on late nights or early mornings. He’d watch the ripple of the waves coming onto shore, crashing on rocks, taking in the smell of moist ocean air. After fights with his father, if his mother wasn’t the one to comfort him, this would be it. This road once held so much peace for him. 

Now, as he rides up the California coast, he’s filled with nothing but dread. It doesn’t calm him like he was once so accustomed to. 

Hades is scared. 

He gets to the venue with an hour before the wedding is due to start. He feels numb, like he’s on auto pilot. With a sluggish pace, he makes his way to one of the dressing rooms. Everyone else around him is rushing, putting up final decorations, fixing seating arrangements, making sure everything is perfect. It almost is. Everything is adorned in white; pretty sparkly things, soft lacey things. But it isn’t perfect, is it?

Hades barely even tries as he puts on his tuxedo. 

Maybe the tie is crooked, and maybe his sleeves are uneven. The only thing that he cares about, in that moment, is seeing Minthe. Hecate’s words are still ringing through his mind as he walks down the hall to the women’s dressing room. 

The door is slightly cracked, and Hades can hear two voices on the inside that he recognizes as none other than Minthe and Thetis. His stomach churns. 

Pushing open the door, Hades sees them on the inside. Minthe is in her dress, sitting in front of the vanity with Thetis behind her in her bridesmaid dress (that is far too revealing), running a hand over her long, red hair. They see him in the mirror, and Thetis doesn’t hesitate to whip around and glare at him.

“Get out,” she hisses. “You know it’s bad luck to see the bride—”

“Leave,” Hades says, the single word is sharp and stern.

Thetis scoffs, “What? You lea—”

“Thetis,” Minthe says warily. She looks up at Hades through the mirror with a glint in her eye. But behind it, for the first time in a while, there’s something else: worry. “Just go.”

Fortunately, Thetis huffs, and doesn’t say anything else. She pushes past Hades at the door, but, Hades doesn’t miss the smirk on her lips. He all but slams the door behind her, and Minthe jumps in her spot. Slowly, she turns around, and lifts to her feet. 

On most days, Hades would be able to at least appreciate her beauty. Her sleek, tall frame and the softness of her skin. The shape of her red-tinted lips, the flowing of her hair, or the sparkle of her emerald eyes. Most days. 

Just not today.

“She’s right, you know,” Minthe speaks first, stepping up to Hades. “It is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.”

“I don’t think it takes a superstition,” Hades deadpans. 

Minthe lets out a faint chuckle. Once she’s close enough, she grabs his tie with a sigh and straightens it. “Look at you. What’s going on with you today? You’re nearly late, you know that?” 

She’s trying hard to make her voice light, almost playful, because she even tries to lean up and kiss Hades. He doesn’t let her, turning his head so that her lips land on his cheek. It burns him. He looks back to meet her eyes. The worry has not left them.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” 

Ask her. Hecate has never lead him astray before. Why would she start now? 

“I want to be a good father, Minthe,” Hades whispers. A furrow creases between her brow, and she lifts a hand to cup Hades’ cheek. He pushes her hand away though, taking a slight step back.  

“Hades, honey,” Minthe says carefully. She musters a shaky smile. “What are you talking about?” 

“I want to be a good father,” Hades repeats, “I don’t want our child to grow up loveless, or fatherless. I want to be there for the life growing inside of you. They deserve to be cared for and loved unconditionally. I’ve done some shitty, shitty things, Minthe, but I’m not going to ruin this kid’s life. The cycle is going to end with me, but Minthe—”

Hades takes a breath. He can see Minthe gulp again. Her hands are nervously fiddling with the ends of her sleeves.  

“Minthe, is there even a child for me to take care of?”

The air goes still. Minthe stops her fiddling and she looks anywhere but Hades’ eyes. Hades knows why. 

“Hades,” Minthe breathes finally, that nervous little chuckle returning, “baby, listen, okay? I—I thought—I got my period, alright? I just—maybe it was a false positive, or maybe it was—”

“You said you went to the doctors,” Hades seethes. “You told me you got it confirmed while I was away.” 

The deafening sound of his heart in his ears pounds through Hades’ head. He feels like he can’t breathe, like his chest is caving in on itself. Minthe is desperately trying to come up with several excuses, sticking to the lie that Hades has just caught her in. 

Hades doesn’t know quite what happens afterwards. He barely catches the, “It’s okay, right? We can still do this. If you—if you want a baby, we can try. On our honeymoon. Okay? Honey, we can still do this. I love you.”

Everything else is a blur.  

Hades doesn’t process leaving the dressing room, or his brothers finding him and hyping him up. He doesn’t process spending the last ten minutes with them before they set him up at the altar and take their places by his side. 

Everyone is so focused on everything else that they don’t notice the man up front, eyes glazed over with proof that he’s not even there. His body, the vessel being controlled by everyone but himself, is standing there watching as Minthe walks down the aisle towards him. His mind is somewhere else completely. He used to do this as a child. At some point, he learned to tune out the rage in his father’s voice on particularly bad days, find a happy place. Like counting stars with his mother.

The voice is the thing holding him back from returning to Earth. It’s there, right in his ear, telling him that even if Minthe was lying, this is the only shot he has, isn’t it? This is the only chance he has at something, anything. The one person that made Hades feel safe, cared for—she hates him, doesn’t she? Nothing he’d do could make her come back.  

This is what Hades has to settle for. 

Familiarity. His only chance. Being okay and only okay. 

And, if Hades wasn’t okay, he would be. If not today, then…one day? 

Rhea wouldn’t want this for him. Hades knows it. 

“...but I know that no matter what we go through, we’ll always have each other.”

Hades barely manages to come back to his senses. He looks down at his hands clasped with Minthe’s, sees them standing in front of hundreds of people, cameras, faces he doesn’t even recognize.  

For a few long moments, it’s silent. But as Hades looks towards the open doors, he sees her come in to view. Hecate, her chest rising and falling as disappointment fills her dark eyes. She looks beyond disheveled; there are bags under her eyes, her clothes are beyond wrinkled, and her mascara is smudged all around her eyes. For the first time in his life, Hades is witnessing Hecate as an absolute mess. Her eyes are pleading with him. 

Hades.” Minthe hisses this at him through gritted teeth, squeezing his hand almost painfully with her nails digging into his palms. She still wears that all too perfect smile of hers though. “Your vows.”

Hades’ heart twists in his chest. 

Looking around at everyone’s faces, at the facade of a perfect day that they’ve created brings an indescribable feeling to Hades. All of this, and for what? To cover up what he now knows is a lie? To make someone happy when his happiness was never even part of the question? 

Hades feels sick. 

He lets go of her hands, and steps back. 

“I—” Hades chokes out. He wants to say more: I can’t do this. I don’t want this. I don’t love you.   

In the back of his mind, that voice is being overpowered by images of her. Her gentle smile, the shine in her eyes, the way she looked at him after he kissed her. Hades knows, deep down, that she isn’t perfect. If she was, she would have never fallen for him. But Hades isn’t perfect either. It’s why his heart is slowly pulling away, gravitating towards what it truly wants—needs. It’s why it’s dragging him with it. One step off the altar is all that it takes. 

Hades doesn’t love Minthe. 

Screw familiarity and being okay. The cycle ends with him. Hades is not his father. 

“Hades,” Minthe says louder. “Hades, stop.”

Hades is off the altar, walking down the aisle towards Hecate as he pulls at his tie. The one that Minthe straightened for him. 

Meeting Hecate’s eye brings him the most relief he’s felt all week. He sees her deflate, while the rest of the crowd around them is completely puzzled, confused and intrigued all at once. They watch him approach Hecate. 

“She’s at the office,” Hecate tells him with her voice low, grabbing his hands and squeezing them with reassurance. She knows. She always knows, just as she knows exactly where Hades wants to go. 

“Thank you,” Hades says gently. 

Hades has a lot to be grateful for, but Hecate—she’s the one person he’s the most grateful for in his life right now. Hecate has never led him astray. 

The farther he gets away from the altar, the faster he moves. He leaves them all behind without a second look, leaving Hecate to straighten herself out, wipe the makeup off her face, and put on her best smile for the crowd. 

“Cocktail hour will start early, I suppose,” she tells the crowd. Poseidon snickers up by the stunned bride. 

Hades is long gone. 

 

 

Most people treated the boss’ wedding day as a holiday. Pomegranate Tech is nearly silent; there is no buzz of things that needed to be done, no hustle and bustle in and out the doors, up and down the halls. 

A handful of his employees, a lot of the higher ups are there. Doing what, Hades isn’t so sure. Gossiping, wondering where he’s gone and if he’s ever going to show his face again, probably. 

In all honesty, Hades doesn’t really care. They can say what they want about Cronus’ boy. That’s not who he is. Not who he ever wanted to be. It’s why, after breaking several traffic laws to get there (maybe he rode the shoulder of the freeway, but if he didn’t get caught, then …), he rushes through his building and summons the elevator. It seems to take a thousand years—or, not really, but if there’s a chance that she’s already gone—Hades might cry. 

The ninety-ninth floor is nearly dark and empty. He willingly gave the temp PA the day off, so there is no one there to greet him. Everyone else on this floor is surely at the wedding-that-should’ve-been. All except one. 

Hades sees the light pouring from her office from down the hall, hears the rummaging as he approaches it. His heart doubles in speed. The anxiety is there, but it’s not like it was this morning. That sick part of him, the one that had hope—it’s back.  

He turns into the office. 

Persephone is there, pulling a frame off the wall and setting it into a box. But when she realizes that someone else is there, she looks up. 

Those doe-eyes of hers. 

“Hades—” 

Her voice is choked, scratchy, as if she’s been crying. Mostly because she was. Persephone had gotten there almost forty five minutes ago, but spent the first twenty five sitting at her desk crying. Her heart was aching. She didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to give up something that had been so good to her, but she didn’t think she had any other choice. 

She couldn’t stay and watch Hades be happy, and married, and in love with someone else. Even after her call with Hecate, Persephone couldn’t stand the thought. She didn’t know what on Earth was going on, but what’s done was done. She had to go clear her office and leave the Pomegranate Tech building one last time. 

Persephone just didn’t expect this—she didn’t expect to see Hades there, in full tuxedo with his tie loose around his neck. She didn’t expect to see him with his hair disheveled and his eyes so, so pained. 

She doesn’t know what to say, nothing besides, “What are you—”

“I know,” Hades says, his breathing slightly labored. Not just from the adrenaline coursing through his veins, but the pure and utter anxiety running through him. “I know—I know my reception was supposed to start,” he looks at his watch, “thirty minutes ago. I know I’m the last person you want to see right now, but I need you to listen to me. If—If you still want me gone after this, then okay. But please…I…”

Persephone feels her heart trembling in her chest. Hades is all the same. This is the most they’ve said to each other in weeks, and as much as Persephone hates to admit it—she missed the sound of his voice. She wishes it wasn’t shaking, wasn’t filled with the anguish that it is now. 

Even after everything, Persephone instincts are to make sure he’s okay. 

She doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t stop him, doesn’t say no.

Hades swallows. 

“She lied,” Hades finally whispers. “I know—I know you don’t know what I’m talking about, but she lied to me. And I sat there thinking about how…how everything has been a lie. My relationship, my family, my life. I’ve spent so long lying to myself, and I—I couldn’t. Not anymore. If I married her, I’d just be continuing a lie and I couldn’t. Not when I love someone else.”

Persephone’s breath hitches. 

Still, Hades continues: “But there’s you. You, so genuine, and so real. You made me feel like myself. You showed me what it felt like to actually be cared for, what it felt like to be loved, to be myself. And I can’t—even if she hadn’t lied…I couldn’t have, shouldn’t have —given that up. I should’ve seen what a broken marriage, a broken family was like. I didn’t realize that, by staying with her, I’d be continuing a screwed up cycle that I shouldn’t let other living beings endure.

“That includes you. I wish I could take everything back. Well, not everything. I don’t regret what we did. Just—the way it happened. I should’ve waited. I should’ve made sure things were cut clean. You have every reason to hate me, to want to slap me, or scream at me, and I wish you would. I deserve it. But I—”

Hades didn’t realize until then how wet his eyes had gotten, not until he feels the scratch of his voice or the tear rolling down his cheek. 

“But, God, Persephone, I couldn’t marry her. Not under any circumstances. Not when you’re the only person I see a true, real, genuine future with. Not when I love you.”

Silence fills the air. It’s almost stifling. Almost. 

Persephone stands there for a long moment, her eyes stinging with unfallen tears that she hopes to hold back. She swallows down the urge, and looks at Hades with those eyes of hers. 

“You sent me flowers,” she finally whispers, almost too quietly. But Hades hears it, and it carves into his heart. “Flowers, Hades. I think it would’ve hurt less had you had the decency to tell me to my face, to tell me the truth.”

Hades can’t help but frown. He goes to say something, but she doesn’t let him; a single finger she holds up stops him. 

“I know she lied. I didn’t know until last nigh, but I knew. Maybe I was stupid to not say anything about it before. But last night—I had this idiotic, foolish thought that maybe if you found out too, you’d come get me. And if you had…I still would’ve said yes.”

The stinging sharpness of the air around them is digging into Hades, gnawing at him as he watches Persephone’s eyes shuffle through a range of emotions. The ones he’s seen before. Hurt. Anger. Sorrow. He put those there. He knows he’d do anything to get rid of them. 

Persephone sucks in a shuddering breath. “I know I don’t have as much life experience as everyone else. I know I didn’t learn things the way other people did, but I thought I knew what it was to love you. Even with as fast and as hard as I fell, I thought—I thought it would be okay to love you.”

“It is,” Hades breathes out, his voice wavering, “if that’s what you want…I—” 

“It wasn’t,” Persephone says. She betrays herself as a tear falls down her cheek and she promptly wipes it away. “I don’t belong with people like you, Hades! You were engaged. You had someone else and I could’ve ruined that completely.”

“It was already…” Hades steps a little closer to Persephone. He wants so desperately to reach out and stop her crying, but he knows that there’s a wall there. The wall that he never got to truly experience until these last few weeks. The wall that was broken down the second he saw her standing there in that art gallery, and kissed her in the bathroom. The wall that he was stupid enough to build himself. 

“How was I supposed to know that?” Persephone asks. “Even now, I don’t know what it was like for you to be with Minthe. Besides the fact that she lied to you as something as big as that.” 

Hades stumbles over the words he wants to say, because he doesn’t know what else is left. Besides telling her over and over that he loves her, and getting on his knees and begging, he doesn’t know what else can say or do. 

Persephone only crosses her arms over her chest, and fights back more tears. 

“I should’ve known, from the beginning, that at some point it would hurt to love you.”

Hades’ heart clenches. He didn’t realize how close they’d inched towards one another until now, as he looks down to keep his eyes on hers. The air is not as thick anymore, and although his hand is shaky, he lifts it to wipe away a stray tear on Persephone’s cheek. She closes her eyes at his touch, and her body shakes with a small, subtle sob. He makes sure to catch the other tears that fall. 

“I’m sorry,” Hades whispers, his voice as gentle as he can make it. As genuine as he can make it. He needs her to know that, wholeheartedly, he means every word he said and will say. “It shouldn’t hurt. I shouldn’t have hurt you.”

“Yeah, well,” Persephone huffs. She hasn’t moved his hand. 

“If you—if you’d let me, I want to make it stop. I want to make you stop hurting,” Hades tells her then. She opens her eyes once more. Hades looks down at her, his own eyes filled with nothing but sincerity and the true adoration he holds for her. 

Both their eyes are so, so sad. But now the hope that they both hold is starting to cast a shadow over it. 

“I don’t think you can do that,” Persephone whispers. “Not now.”

The first crack in Hades’ heart begins to splinter. 

“Not today, but…” Persephone says then, and the splintering stops for the moment, “...maybe one day? We’re not invincible, Hades. For our sake, just...give us time to fix ourselves.”

Slowly, the pain in Hades’ chest starts to dissipate. Persephone feels it too. It’s dull, and it still aches, but she feels it. As she puts her hand over the one on her cheek, she can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

If this is what the start of better is, she’s going to have to take it. As long as she’s got the chance. 

“I think I can do that,” Hades says softly. 

“Good,” Persephone tells him. 

There’s a brief moment of fear that flashes over Hades when Persephone pulls his hand down. But, then—then she’s pushing herself into his chest and wrapping her arms around his torso.  

Hades would be a fool to not wrap his around her as well. 

They hold each other there for a few moments, and Hades even dares to lean down and press a kiss to the top of Persephone’s head. 

Maybe things aren’t perfect. Not right now, at least. 

But, Persephone feels the hope in her heart diminishing the utter pain she’s been feeling for the past month. She feels the anger leaving her body. 

Maybe it’s the feeling of Hades’ arms around her again. Maybe it’s the sound of his heart. 

But, for right now, the two of them have high hopes for more than okay.

 

 

One Month Later

Persephone: Hi. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to text you the past couple of days, but I hope you’re okay. I start my new job today and I’m really excited. 

Persephone: I was thinking maybe we can plan to meet up soon. 

Persephone: Let me know, I’ll be here. 

Hades has been trying to think of a way to text back all morning long. He sighs heavily to himself, stepping out of the elevator as the blinking cursor mocks his empty text field. 

It’s been a—a long month. Giving time and space to not only the person he loves, but himself is harder than Hades had anticipated. Every time he walked past her empty office, his heart fractured slightly. Not because it was particularly broken, Hades just—Hades just missed Persephone. He knows it, and his therapist is getting tired of hearing it. 

They haven’t seen each other since Hades’ wedding day. Seeing each other didn’t exactly fit the parameters of time and space. There were the texts, here and there, just to check up on one another. Hades cherished them so much.  

Hades is doing so well, though. He respected Persephone enough to abide by her request for time, and he wasn’t going to pout like a child over it. It gave him time to work on himself as well. Despite the mess that he caused (the tabloids, for the first time in a long time, focused on him instead of Zeus), Hades felt fine. The voice in the back of his mind was no longer sneering at him. In fact, now it sounded something like his mother, telling him how proud she was of him. 

Still, Hades can’t think of a way to text back. He wants to congratulate Persephone on her new job, but it pangs his chest a little. She’s really, actually gone from the company. Even after the hard work she put into the POP project, the same project that is being built two blocks down from her neighborhood. She really isn’t there to see it happen. But on top of that, she wants to see him. Of course he wants that, but there’s an inkling of fear settled within him. He doesn’t want to mess things up again.  

Hades sighs. 

“Why the long face?” 

Hecate’s voice pulls his eyes up, and he sees his friend standing there with a coy smile on her lips as she leans on the receptionists desk, a cup of coffee in hand. The temp PA is now the permanent PA, and Hades is glad for that. 

“Nothing, just…nothing,” Hades says with a small chuckle, shaking his head. He pockets his phone. He’ll have to think of a cordial way to say Congrats, I really fucking miss you and I want to see you so, so bad later on. 

“I don’t want to make you more upset,” Hecate starts as she sips on her coffee, “but…we’ve got a new hire to greet.”

“Why would that make me upset?” Hades questions, brow furrowed. 

Hecate, though, lets out a dramatic sigh. “It’s just…they’re in Kore’s old office.”

Oh.

Hades has to stop his heart from dropping. He couldn’t keep it empty forever. It just stung, only slightly, to be replacing something where she once was. The room still had a lingering scent of flowers. He doesn’t want that to go away. 

“I—okay,” Hades says with as much composure as he can keep up. He doesn’t see the way the corners of Hecate’s lips are twitching as she takes his arm and ushers him down the hall to the office where Persephone once resided. 

“I know it’s hard,” Hecate says carefully. “But I think you should have an open mind. I’m sure whoever this is will do a fantastic job here. They’ve expressed great interest in POP, you know.”

Hades doesn’t even muster a response. He just wants to say hello and get it all over with. The door is slightly cracked as they approach it. Hades is absolutely making an easy task seem impossible as he stands there, doing nothing for a few moments. 

“Will you just knock?” Hecate huffs impatiently. 

With a heavy sigh, Hades knocks on the door. 

“Come in!”

His heart stops. That voice. Hades doesn’t have to think twice about pushing the door open, maybe with too much force. But he doesn’t care, not when he sees her standing there on a chair as she hangs a painting on the wall. 

Persephone turns to see Hades standing there, and her lips quiver as they fight to hold back a smile. 

“Oh,” Persephone says, stepping down from the chair as she bites that sweet, sweet lip of hers. Hades can feel his heart doing somersaults in his chest, and he has to stop himself from rushing in and pulling her into his arms. He stops just short of doing so. 

Hecate is long gone; she knew what she was doing. After all, she’d never lead Hades astray.  

“Hi,” Persephone says softly, looking up at Hades as she fiddled with her thumbs. God. So cute.   

“Hello,” Hades breathes out. He smooths back his hair, running his hands through it as suavely as possible before stuffing a hand in his pocket. 

It feels just like the beginning. 

Hades doesn’t bother asking the obvious questions lingering in the air. He doesn’t want to jinx things, or make her regret her decision to come back. He’s going to absolutely revel in this. 

“What do you think?” Persephone asks then, gesturing towards the painting on the wall. 

Maybe Hades’ heart giddily skips a beat when he sees it. 

“I bought it off a friend of mine,” Persephone continues. “What do you think about peonies?”

Hades bites back a laugh. “I don’t know, really,” he says. “I like them, I just think they carry a lot of baggage.”

The sound of Persephone’s giggle is music to Hades’ ears. He hasn’t made her smile, or laugh, or look at him with stars in her eyes in so, so long. Now that he’s gotten it back, he never wants it to stop. He’ll make it his life’s mission to make her happy, and nothing else. 

“I think you’re right,” Persephone says, peering at the painting with a small, playful smile. Then, she looks back at Hades. Their gravity pulls them into each other’s orbits, without them even noticing. “But they are pretty.”

Hades reaches up to push a stray curl from in front of Persephone’s face. Her hair has grown over the past couple of months. It suits her. 

“You haven’t had any wine today, have you?” Hades asks with a hum. 

“Nope. You?”

“Nope,” Hades says, “I don’t drink on the clock.”

Persephone leans into the touch of Hades’ hand. 

She hasn’t felt her heart sing the way it is in so long now. She almost forgot what it felt like—what it felt like to feel his touch, to look into the deep sea of his eyes, to be close enough to inhale the wondrous way he smells.  

But then again, how could she? Persephone has been grasping onto memories of New York for weeks now, using them to erase the hurt she was once feeling. She used the memories, and the promise that it would get better if it stopped hurting. This could be better. 

“Do you drink at eight o’clock?” Persephone asks then, much closer now. She wraps her fingers around Hades’ tie. There’s a glint in both their eyes as she does so. “At that restaurant with the really good tiramisu?”

Hades’ hand goes to cup Persephone’s jaw, his thumb brushing over the soft mound of her cheek. Her breath hitches, and her eyes nearly flutter closed at the tender touch of his hand. 

“Can I get back to you on that?” Hades responds, his voice low. It practically caresses Persephone, wrapping around her and holding her close. It’s a phenomenal feeling, but nothing compares to the real feeling of his arms. “There’s a new employee that I’m completely smitten on. I’m thinking of taking her out at that time. If she’ll say yes, that is.”

There’s a roll of Persephone’s eyes, but still a smile that plays on her lips. She huffs before she pulls Hades down by his tie. She’s been waiting so long for this.  

The second their lips meet, she melts completely. She lets her arms wrap around his neck while his snake around her waist to pull her impossibly closer.  

This is it. This is where they belong. As their lips move against one another, sweet and slow, they know there’s nowhere else they want to be. Sweet and slow turns to passionate and heavy with just a few more moments. Hades never wants it to end, not as he relishes in the way Persephone runs her hand up the hair at the nape of his neck. 

Both of them know that things aren’t one hundred percent okay. But they know, as they melt against one another, that they can work on things together. They’ve been working towards this, towards the feeling of their hearts beating for one another yet again. Things aren’t one hundred percent okay. But with effort, it’ll be so much better than that. 

After a while, there’s that lovely little noise Persephone likes to make when Hades does that with his mouth, so she pulls back with a giggle. Her cheeks are hot and she has to catch her breath, but she’s beaming up at Hades, and he’s smiling just as wide. 

Hades looks for a hint of melancholy in Persephone’s eyes. He can’t find it. In that moment, he knows she won’t find any in his as well. 

Maybe things should have happened differently. Perhaps there was an easier way to come to this, without the trouble and pain. But that would’ve been too simple. Both of them know that real life isn’t that easy. But in this moment—they’re just grateful to still have one another. 

With a wistful sigh, Persephone presses one more gentle kiss to Hades’ lips before pulling back, her smiling lips ghosted over his. She glances up into his eyes. 

“I think she’ll say yes.” 

Chapter Text

It’s mornings like these that make things in the world feel different. 

The hum starts out soft. It’s the buzz of cars on the highway, their engines letting out a gentle chorus that grows more and more aggressive with the more vehicles that crowd the winding roads of Los Angeles. Even for a Sunday morning, Hades can see the specks of light piling onto the freeway from up in the hills while the city lights below slowly, but surely, flicker off, one by one. He leans forward a little too much to see it all happen, enough to make Persephone whine and pull him back into place, just so that she can rest her head back on his bare chest. 

As the ever growing sound of the city waking up creep through the cracked windows of the car, Hades wraps his arms around Persephone, abiding by her silent request to stay put. The rising sun illuminates the curve of the mountains in the backdrop with an orange and purple glow. It almost looks as if they’re slowly breathing, waking up with the rest of the city when Hades and Persephone have yet to even fall asleep. They’ve done this a few times, driving up into the hills of this city late at night, just to enjoy one another’s presence. The view from up there is top five on Hades’ list of Sights to Behold, somewhere up there with the New York skyline and Persephone’s eyes. 

“We should go before the tourists come out,” Hades mutters to Persephone after a while, but she only grumbles in response. Hades can’t help but chuckle at how she gets sometimes, basking in the afterglow of their sweet, tender coupling. He loves her like this; sleepy, clingy, and completely blissed out. Even after dealing with the uncomfortable, laid down backseats of his Range Rover, she still looks like nothing could be better in that very moment. As the sun peeks over the hills of Griffith Park, it spills through and drapes over their bare bodies, drawing out the golden undertones of Persephone’s dewy skin, sheen with cooling sweat. Hades doesn’t think she’s ever looked so beautiful, but then again, it’s the exact same thought that runs through his mind whenever he sees her. 

“You don’t want Starline Tours to see us here?” Persephone says then, voice soft and sweet, enough to make Hades’ heart stutter in his chest. When he shivers at it, he passes it off by pulling their blanket tighter around their bodies. “What a funny headline that would be. Pom Tech CEO caught naked in backseat with his lover on Mulholland Drive! Zeus would be proud of us, I think.”

Hades huffs. “The last thing I want is his approval on this sort of thing.”

Persephone giggles then, that precious little laugh of hers that makes Hades absolutely swell. He loves this. He loves her. He doesn’t think he’d even mind being caught, if it meant showing the world what he gets to have. On the other hand, he wants to keep this to himself. He wants to keep this locked up in a box in the back of his mind, so that only he knows the little things about this woman. 

Once the dust settled, Hades realized how much there was to love about Persephone. Beneath the surface, he uncovered so many things that made his heart tremble. He learned to fall in love with her little quirks, and the way she refuses to watch movies with dogs in them at all out of a deep rooted fear of watching them die. He fell in love with the way she reduces Cerberus to a puddle of tail wags and happy pants, and even got Cordon Bleu to curl up in her lap after many tries. 

He fell in love with the bite that Persephone has to her, the wit and sarcasm that she holds and saves for the best of moments. When people underestimate her, or when they expect her to remain quiet for too long. Hades loves way she tends to plants and speaks to them as if they are her children (“Because they are, Hades, they’re my babies.”), or the little noises she makes in her sleep; the way she loves to try and be the big spoon, kissing the same spot on his back every single time. The temper that she has, the way her brow furrows in moments of frustration, and the way she can’t stay mad at him for too long. 

Hades loves all of the good things that came out of them being together. His productivity and ability to focus, his grasp on himself, and the fact that he could finally sleep through the night as long as she is by his side. Hades wasn’t alone at family gatherings anymore, like he was when She was still around, and their lives meshed so well. His family loves Persephone, and Persephone’s friends were just happy to see that she was no longer a nuisance to her neighbors. (Maybe Hecate and Artemis got something out of it too, like the instant chemistry when they first met, but they’d never be the first to admit it.) Persephone is all of the good things in the world, and Hades loves every single fraction of her. 

The way she is now, curled up in his arms as she draws gentle, nonsensical shapes into his chest. She begins to hum a song. It doesn’t take long to realize which song it is as Hades listens close to the melody. You’ll never know…

With a wistful sigh, Hades leans down to press a tender kiss to Persephone’s forehead. She looks up at him with her shining eyes, and smiles. Hades can’t help but kiss her lips next. Persephone cranes her neck to meet him, her hand going up to caress the line of his jaw and pull him into her closer, nearer, like she couldn’t possibly get close enough as she’s planted on his chest. Hades lets his hands wander under the blanket to run along her back as he kisses her, their lips melding together the way they always do. Like they were made for one another. 

Even after a year, nothing has changed. 

When Hades deepens the kiss, his tongue prying past her lips and drawing a little noise from her throat, she giggles and barely manages to pull back. He chases Persephone’s lips with his own. 

“What happened to leaving?” she asks, breath ghosting over his lips. He only kisses her again though. 

“You can’t really expect me to get tired of this, can you?” 

Persephone only hums, shaking her head. 

“Not when I can’t, no,” she says. Kissing him again may be her only option. Just as it is to let his hands wander, to climb into his lap and straddle his waist. They keep the blanket around their bottom halves as their lips move against one another lazily, with no heavy need or rush. Just enough so that they can express their want, but still cherish every little taste and noise that escapes into the other’s mouth. Maybe Hades lets his hands cup the swell of Persephone’s breasts while she rolls the heat of her arousal onto his, his mouth finally leaving hers so it can touch upon other wondrous parts of her body.

It’s mornings like these that make the world feel different. Even with the city now awake, the highways sounding off like an angry swarm, people preparing themselves for another day in a furious, unforgiving, sometimes ugly world like this, the two of them know that there isn’t anything they’d trade this for. Mornings like this make it all worth it, as they become one, fogging up the windows and showing one another exactly how much they love one another. 

 

 

It’s hard to look Persephone’s mother in the eye after the morning they shared together. 

It’s not that this is impromptu, but that beautiful, magical, phenomenal morning spent making love to Persephone as the sun rose in the distance was the catalyst. Before they finally left (thanks to the other people who finally started to crowd the lookout spot), Hades sat there and admired Persephone. He was never really good at listening to his heart before Persephone barged into his life, but she—she made it easier. So much easier. 

But, even as Demeter sits with him in her kitchen, graciously preparing him a bowl of that soup he’s come to adore so much, he can’t look her in the eye. It doesn’t help that she’s still incredibly wary with him, which he gets. He did break her daughter’s heart for an unreasonable amount of time, and she has every right not to trust him. But after seeing how much they truly loved each other, she started to come around. Just not completely. 

“Not that I don’t appreciate the company,” Demeter says as Hades blows on a spoonful of the steaming soup, “but is there any particular reason you’re here? And without Persephone at that.”

Hades gulps. He doesn’t know how to start. He doesn’t know how to tell Demeter that he’s been trying to gather the nerve for months, how pathetic he feels that he’s been trying to prepare for this moment ever since him and Persephone made things official. Public official. I-Walked-Out-Of-My-Own-Wedding-For-This-Incredible-Woman official. But Hades wants to listen to his heart. 

“I mean, I was in the area…” Hades tells her. Maybe it’s a little bit of a lie. “I was visiting the Pomegranate Outreach Center for business reasons. I wanted to drop in and say hello.”

Demeter takes a sip of the coffee she has sitting in front of her, eyeing him in a way that maybe forms a bead of sweat over Hades’ brow. His facade is crumbling. “A lot of men have lied to me over the years, cariño.” 

“I—” Hades chokes out. He knows there is no use in lying, or withholding the truth from her any longer. “Okay. You got me.”

A coy Mona Lisa smile draws over Demeter’s lips behind the lip of her mug as she takes another sip. She hums in response, and waits a few beats before raising a brow at Hades, as if to say Well, go on then. 

Hades takes in a breath. 

“Okay, well,” he starts, the nerves and tension building within his chest. His heart is hammering, and he’s almost scared that Demeter can sense his fear, like most mothers tend to. “I wanted to talk to you, Demeter, about—about taking your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

There is no change in Demeter’s expression. Slowly, she lowers her mug and taps her fingers on the side of it. The soup in Hades’ stomach churns uncomfortably, and he starts to prepare himself for the worst. The Of course not. Why would I trust you with my sweet, precious, perfect, angel of a daughter? The worst part is that Hades would agree and walk right out the door. Sometimes he can’t trust himself to not hurt her again. Hades still sees him peeking out in his worst moments, moments of high stress and anxiety. But, somehow, Persephone’s loving hand is always there to ease him out of it. She’d kiss him, remind him that things will be okay, and he’d forget why he was even upset in the first place. 

Hades gets too lost in his own thoughts, and almost misses the way Demeter chuckles to herself. 

“Hades,” she says with her low, somewhat of timbre voice. “Do you think my daughter is a possession that I can just give away?”

Stumbling over his words, Hades quickly shakes his head, panic settling into his bones. Maybe getting up and rushing out isn’t that bad of an option right now. But then, Demeter lets her smile widen a bit as she looks at him. He begins to settle, but his heart still quivers in his chest. 

“I—I don’t—” Hades chokes out, frowning when Demeter lets out another laugh. 

“I can see why Kore loves you as much as she does,” Demeter says then. She takes Hades by complete surprise when she reaches over to grab his hand, squeezing it with tenderness that only a mother could possess. “Hades, you can marry my daughter.” 

Hades lets out a breath of relief as a smile breaks out on his face.  

“But—” Demeter holds up a finger, and Hades lets his heart stall for the moment, “—as long as you don’t take her from me. Men like you like running off to Europe, or New York, for the culture as if you couldn’t find it here.”

Hades lets out a wavering laugh, shaking his head. Too quickly, he says, “Of course not!” 

“Good,” Demeter says, the same smile still playing on her lips. “Then I’d be happy to call you my son, Hades.”

The elation that courses through Hades is indescribable. This was the most nerve wracking part for him; he thinks actually asking Persephone will be a breeze. With how many times they’ve talked about it, or how many hints Persephone has dropped that she is aching to be his wife, he knows. Hades knows that neither of them will have a problem with this. 

After a moment, Demeter finishes off her coffee and looks at Hades with gentle eyes. Eyes that, for the moment, don’t hold any skepticism, or unrelenting caution about the man that once hurt her daughter so. They’re the eyes of a loving mother. 

“There was a time, in the beginning, that I didn’t want to think about this,” Demeter tells him then. “With all that I’ve seen in life, I just wanted to protect Kore from bad things.” 

“I think you’ve done well, Demeter,” Hades says gently. 

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes, Hades,” Demeter laments. She shakes her head to herself, and uses her spoon to twirl around in her empty mug. “I love her more than life itself. And with the way you look at her...I know you feel the same. Just—just be sure I’m not making another mistake, Hades.” 

Hades’ eyes soften, as does his heart. He reaches out for Demeter’s hand once more and gives it the most reassuring squeeze that he can muster. 

Hades doesn’t know how much more, if there is any room left in his heart, he can love Persephone before it might kill him. Sometimes loving her as much as he does hurts, because it never feels like it’s enough for her. She deserves oceans of love, caverns and trenches of all the great that she puts into the world, just by existing. 

Persephone is everything worth believing in, and Hades is irrevocably in love with her. 

“I promise you,” Hades says with full sincerity, “I won’t let anything hurt her. Not myself, or anything else. You have my word.”

Hades might see a glistening wetness in Demeter’s eyes as she leans over to kiss his cheek, but he won’t mention it. Not when his own heart is clenching in his chest with a familiar feeling. When Demeter wasn’t staring him down with crushing wariness, she sometimes made him feel like he was home. Like he was with his mother again. Those were his favorite moments with Demeter. 

“Gracias, mi amor,” she says gently. Hades doesn’t tell her that he should be the one thanking her.

Just before Hades leaves, right when he’s at the door completely prepared to say goodbye, Demeter stops him. She asks him to wait before disappearing into one of the bedrooms. When she comes back, she has a ring in her hands. Hades’ heart begins to swell as she approaches him with it. 

“Here,” Demeter says, placing the ring into Hades’ hand when he reaches it out to her. “It was my mother’s. I know your money could buy much better, but it’d...it would mean a lot to me if you used this one. It’s missing the stone , but I could help you replace it if you need...” 

Hades’ heart may catch in his throat, especially along with the urge to weep as his eyes well with a few tears. He doesn’t let them fall, but God, does he come close. The ring is older, could use some tender love and care, but it’s perfect. It holds about as much grit and beauty that Persephone does. It’s also nothing that Hades can’t fix. But then, the thought of replacing the missing stone with a rhodolite gem from a ring that belonged to his mother wiggles into his mind, and maybe he finally lets a tear fall. He can see the burgundy stone falling right into place on the band. Unconventional, yet the most exquisite thing Hades has ever envisioned. It’s absolutely perfect for Persephone. 

“Of course, Demeter,” Hades says gently to her. He can’t help it if he pulls her in for a hug, holding her tight with hopes that she knows what it means. Thank you for letting me love your daughter, and also you. 

Demeter may have to shoo him off before they get too mushy with one another. 

But, maybe when Hades finally leaves Demeter’s, waving to her from the driver’s side of his car before getting in, he scrambles to make a phone call. It rings, and rings, until finally someone picks up. 

“Good afternoon, this is Meg with Town and Country, Real Estate and Contracting, how may I help you?”

As if Demeter could still possibly hear him, Hades talks quietly into the phone. “Hello, hi, this is Hades Olympus, calling to cancel the appointment I made to talk about refurbishing a home in Scarsdale.”

The woman on the other end pries, for business reasons, asking for the reason of cancellation. Hades can’t help but smile a little. He doesn’t mind, really. The least he can do is abide by Demeter’s wishes to keep her daughter close, and honestly, as long as he’s with Persephone, it doesn’t quite matter where he is. All he has to think about is slipping the ring, a coalescence of the women who made them into the people that they are, onto Persephone’s finger, and watching her walk, in an immaculate dress, down the aisle to an altar that he won’t run from. With those thoughts, it’s enough to make him content with anything.

Over the line, the woman asks him the question again, pulling him from his thoughts. 

Hades chuckles. 

“Things came up.”