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A Salem Cinderella Story

Chapter Text

"Will."

"Will."

"William!"

The third time's the charm, as upon hearing his full name called, William Horton startles awake, after falling asleep on his homework.

After a minute, he realizes the voice was coming from the intercom speaker on his desk, and the voice speaking is none other than Stefano DiMera, his unwilling guardian.

"I believe I requested my breakfast. Bring it to me at once."

Which is about the last thing he feels like doing, but he doesn't really have a choice. So he quickly gets up, throws something decent on, and makes his way to the kitchen to grab Stefano's breakfast tray.

Once he has it in hand, he quickly goes straight to the room Stefano is waiting in, who doesn't even give so much as a greeting, just asks, "It's exactly according to my specifications, correct? I won't accept anything less."

Will nods quickly, as is expected, "Only the best, sir."

Stefano reaches for a fork and takes a bite, before nodding, "You're right. This time."

But then he quickly changes his tune, "Why are you still standing in my study? You're supposed to be at the pub."

Will knows this already, but he really needs Stefano to understand, "Stefano, I can't. There's a really big test coming up, and I really have to study for it if I want a chance at acing it."

Stefano shakes his head, "William, I've already made it abundantly clear that if you want college tuition, you have to work for me. And that means you work at my pub. I won't tell you again."

Will knows better than to try and make his point, so he just exits the room, grabs his backpack, gets into his parents' car, and makes his way over to the pub.

 

Brady's Pub has not been the same since Sami and Lucas Horton died in a freak tornado that left Will an orphan, and his great Grandma Caroline brokenhearted. So when Stefano showed up with an offer she couldn't refuse, it wasn't a hard decision. She retired, but still frequents the pub as often as she can, and both of Will's grandmothers even stepped in to help on the business side, choosing to be there for Will in any way they could.

Like today, as Will keeps himself busy with the breakfast crowd, picking up plates or bringing them out, which doesn't go unnoticed by his grandma Marlena.

As he's picking up another plate from a table, she grabs his arm, demanding, "Will, what are you still doing here?"

Will tries to brush it off, "I'm almost done, I swear."

Marlena follows him, reminding him, "You're gonna miss first period."

But Will's still doesn't stop, assuring her, "I'll get there on time. But Stefano will dock my pay if I don't finish."

Marlena can't believe what she's hearing, "Forget about Stefano. It's your future I care about! Jesus, he's got you here all hours of the day like some convenience store cashier!"

Will tries to protest, "But I-."

Marlena cuts him off, "Your parents would want you in school, not here!"

Will tries one more time, "But-."

Marlena doesn't want to hear it, "Whatever excuse you're going to say, don't. Leave Stefano and whatever he can dish out to me."

Then she takes the dishes out of Will's hands to hand off to someone else, and upon seeing Will still standing there, she gestures to the door, "Get going!"

Will doesn't need to be told twice, and quickly gets out of his uniform and goes to pick up his best friend Paul.

Chapter Text

Will makes it to Paul's house in record time, honking the horn to let him know he's here.

Within seconds, Paul's bounding down the driveway and getting into the passenger seat, dressed in his nicer uniform, and Will definitely notices.

"No way. You got a scout coming to practice?" Will asks excitedly.

Paul smiles and nods, "That right. And it's a really good one too. If I nail this, this could be my ticket into the league!"

Will leans over to hug him, happy for his friend, "That's so awesome! You're gonna kill it, I just know it."

 

They pull into the school parking lot right as the morning announcements start, and Paul's quick to point out,

"There's a good spot. Grab it before it's gone."

But just as Will turns the car to park, out of nowhere, another car speeds right into it, effectively stealing it right out from under them.

As they jeer at the both of them, Paul can't help but comment, "Well well well. If it isn't Leo Stark and his main men." But then Paul gets all gooey, "Leo knows we're supposed to be together."

Will has to roll his eyes, "How can he possibly know that if you've never even said two words to him?"

Paul replies, "Oh yes I have. In the privacy of my own head. And trust me, he's got it bad."

Will has to point out the serious problem with this, "Paul, come on. There are tons of guys out there that are worth more than Leo Stark ten times over. Even you can dream up someone better than him."

Paul chooses to ignore this, instead pointing out, "There's another space."

But, surprise surprise, right as Will goes to grab it, they run into yet another car, and upon abruptly stopping, it backs into the open spot.

This frustrates Will enough to where he had to smack the wheel, "Damnit!"

And, naturally, that's right when the engine stalls, so Will has to lean down to fix it, but as he does, he happens to look up, and who should he see getting out of the driver's seat but the hottest guy in school: Jackson "Sonny" Kiriakis.

Once Leo sees him, he calls Sonny over to him, and Will just has to say something here,

"I swear, gay guys like Sonny and Leo are just fated to find each other. How else could so much ego be in one relationship?"

Paul jokes, "Ever wonder what they're saying about you?"

Will doesn't have time for stuff like that, "I'm positive they don't even know my name."

But then, Brian, one of Sonny's friends whispers into Leo's ear, pointing at them, which prompts Leo to come to the window, and once Will rolls it down, Leo informs them,

"Listen, Horton, this parking lot is for the important families in Salem only. No Horton's allowed."

That seems to be it, but then he comes back, "Oh, and my buddy wanted me to ask if you could put in an order for a sandwich to go. Thanks a lot."

Then he walks away, but not before slapping a hand on the hood.

Paul attempts to joke here, "What was that you were saying about them not knowing your name?"

Will knows he's just joking, but once he finally gets the engine going, he just tells him, "Shut up." and drives off in search of another spot.

 

As Will and Paul navigate the halls of Salem High, who should they bump into but Neil Hultgren, who apparently wasn't watching where he was going and runs right into them.

"Oh, Will! You're looking good!"

And after the shitty start of the day, that's enough to actually make Will smile, but just as quick, some sort of notification goes off, and once Neil checks it, he has to apologise,

"I'm sorry. Gotta get back to practicing my choreography." And walks away, practicing as he goes.

Paul has to comment here, "Jesus. Weird central."

Will disagrees, "Least he's happy."

Paul scoffs, "You call that happy? He's dancing to music only he can hear."

Will isn't budging, "Fantasy trumps reality every time, Paul."

But that's right when Will's own phone goes off, and when he pulls it out, he sees a text notification.

"Speaking of fantasy…" Paul quips here.

Will just tells him, "Catch up with you later, okay?", and walks away.

Paul completely understands, just says, "Of course. Your secret admirer awaits."

Out on the quad, Will sits down by the fountain, and opens up the new text, and sure enough, it's from him.

Where'd you go? Long time no talk!

Will responds immediately.

Since when does "this morning" equal a long time?

Immediately, there's another reply.

Well, I can't help it if you're on my mind more than usual lately. So tell me. What're you thinking about right this second?

For a moment, Will considers telling him all about this morning, but decides against it.

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

There's a beat, then a reply.

I'm thinking the Tiger Mascot Protest isn't going too well.

This prompts Will to look around, and sure enough, only the three people who organized it are holding signs, but nobody else is giving them a second look.

That makes him think that whoever this guy is, he's probably in the quad right now. He looks, but at the sight of so many students with their phones out, he quickly gives it up. That would take time he doesn't have.

Then there's another text.

Roar.

Which is enough to bring him back to the conversation, so he responds,

ROFL

And that prompts another reply, one that's been coming up a lot lately.

I wanna hear you laugh for real. When can we meet up?

Will sighs, hating to be the one to put the brakes on, but for right now, he just can't risk anything that might mess up his plan to get the hell out of this town.

Resolved, he sends one last text, and that's right when the bell rings, so he grabs his backpack to head to class.

 

On the other side of the fountain, Sonny Kiriakis is just receiving a text, which only makes him sigh in disappointment

Soon. I promise.

Chapter Text

The rest of the day goes by with the two of them texting back and forth, be it on computers or on their phones.

 

In the computer lab:

Titan: So how's your day been?

Spec: Ugh, egomaniac guardian, work, and guys who think they're entitled to having everything handed to them. Ever feel like you're just not cut out for the life you've been handed?

Titan: Of course. There's times when I'm surrounded by friends, and still feel like I'm putting on an act. But at least I have you.

Spec: You know, I've been thinking, Titan. Do you think we've ever met in real life?

Titan: I have no idea. Have you seen how big this school is?

Sonny at home at his computer, while Will's walking.

Spec: Yeah, not really narrowing it down at all, is it?

Titan: Least I can rule out the girls. Wait. You're not a girl trying to out me, are you? Cause if that's what's going on here, I'll kick your ass.

Spec: relax. Not a girl. Did you tell your uncle about Salem U?

When they're both at home on their computers:

Titan: I keep meaning to, but I keep losing my nerve. I haven't even told him I want to run my own business.

Spec: my parents always wanted me to be happy in whatever I wanted to do.

Titan: that's not my uncle, sadly. He's known exactly what he wants me to do since I popped out of my mom's stomach.

Here, Will actually looks at the clock, and just has to tell Titan:

Spec: Jesus, it's 3AM! We've been talking for 6 hours straight!

Sonny has to laugh, and replies:

Titan: Looks like we broke our personal record.

Spec: We should really call it a night. G'night.

Will's about to log off, but then, another message pops up,

Titan: Wait. It isn't possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, 

"Ignore it…" Sonny repeats to himself.

muddle it,

"Muddle it."

but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.

Will reads it slowly, before finally replying,

Spec: Never would've pegged you for an E.M. Forster fan. I'm impressed.

But then Titan sends another message,

Titan: Please meet me at the Halloween dance. I'll be waiting right in the middle of the dance floor, at 11:00.

On Sonny's side, "Good night."

Chapter Text

The next day, Will's helping Paul by pitching for him, as he tells Paul about the latest development with his mystery guy.

Paul hits one ball, which is dangerously close to hitting Will, then tells him excitedly, "Will, you really need to get excited! You're finally gonna meet this guy!"

But Will has to think realistically, "Not too sure on that. Seems like he's too good to be true."

Will stops to throw another ball, and this time goes better.

Paul, however, can't let it go, "Do I need to remind you that you've been talking for months now since you met him in that Salem U chatroom? You talk to him every chance you get. You already know the guy!"

Will needs to remind him, "But he doesn't know me at all! What if we meet up and I'm not what he was expecting?"

He picks up another ball, musing out loud, "Maybe this whole thing is better off online."

Then he throws another ball, this one hitting with a real crack.

Paul pushes, "You gotta listen to me, alright Will? You really, really need to go to that dance. This Titan guy isn't gonna wait forever. Hell, if you really want, I'll even be your escort!"

Will definitely wasn't expecting that, "You serious?"

Paul nods, "Absolutely."

Will has to smile here, but then, his phone goes off. "Hello?"

It's quiet for a few minutes, and judging by Will's face, it's pretty obvious who it is, then Will hangs up, only saying one word, "Stefano."

Paul doesn't get it at all, "Why do you insist on being at his beck and call?"

Will tells him, "Easy. No Stefano, no Salem tuition money."

Paul shakes his head sadly, "I'm sorry. That bites."

Will tells him, "You have no idea. Come on, let's do one more."

Maybe it's just because of that because of that phone call, but for whatever reason, when he gets ready to pitch, he can't help but picture Stefano's face on the ball, hitting it square on the bat, and the next thing he knows, the balls sailing out of his hand, and there's another satisfying crack, only this time, the ball goes all the way out of the park.

And lands right in front of Sonny and Chad, warming up for the upcoming track meet.

Upon seeing the ball, Chad looks to where the ball came from, and tells Sonny,

"Damn, dude. It was Narita! Must've had one helluva pitcher!"

Sonny agrees, "See, that's impressive."

Then Chad turns the conversation towards something more important, "So what're you and Leo going to the dance as?"

Sonny goes to pick the ball up, but at the question, he has to be honest, "I...am not entirely sure if I'm going with Leo."

This is news to Chad, "You're not taking Leo? Who else would you be taking?"

Sonny throws the ball back, admitting, "I have no idea. Whole thing's up in the air right now."

Then he walks off, knowing his Uncle's gonna be pissed if he's late.

Chapter Text

Later, Sonny's just working at his internship when his Uncle Vic walks up to him, and from the look on his face, he's not happy.

"Jackson, why is your room full of college brochures?"

Right away,Sonny gets defensive, "Why are you going through my stuff?"

Uncle Vic says nothing, waiting for his answer, and Sonny knows he doesn't have a choice, "I'm just trying to see what my options are."

Uncle Vic replies, "You have only one option. You've been working for this since I first showed you the ropes. You're going to finish this internship, graduate, then you're going to join me in Paris and take over as CEO of Titan Industries. That's your future."

 

Elsewhere, Will's just arriving at the DiMera mansion, where Stefano's waiting for him.

"You wanted to talk to me?"

Stefano nods. "Indeed. I need you to cover the night shift at the pub tonight."

Will has to object, "But I have the night off, and it's the Halloween dance tonight."

Stefano doesn't relent, "If I say you're taking the night shift, you're taking the night shift. That's why you still have a roof over your head."

Will knows this already, but this is too important, "This dance is important to me. I really need to be there tonight."

Stefano reminds him, "If you really expect to earn enough money for college tuition, then you'll do your job and go to the pub like you're supposed to."

But Will can't, not this time, "Stefano, I'm an honors student. I'm at that damn pub every single day, and that's on top of extra classes. I don't ask for anything unless I absolutely have to. And I'm begging you to please, just this once, understand why I really need to go to this dance."

But he should've known his pleas would fall on deaf ears, because Stefano just turns away, and only says, 

"If you don't want me to dock your pay again, I suggest you get going."

Chapter Text

At Brady's Irish Pub, Will's in uniform, cursing his terrible luck, when to top it all off, he trips and falls, and of course it just happens to be right in front of Stefano.

"That's no way to earn your paycheck." Comes from above him, as Stefano walks past him towards the counter, where he informs the rest of the staff, "I'll be out of town this evening. I should be back by midnight. Kate, you're in charge until my return."

And then he's off, which leaves the staff free to talk to each other.

As it happens, Will and Kate start talking as they work the counter, with Kate commenting, "I swear, that man could make the devil cringe."

Will reminds her, "Why do you think I'm trying to get accepted early decision so he can't reach me?"

Kate disagrees, "You could get into a school on an uncharted island, and he'd still be able to track you down."

Then Kate walks off, right as another server, tells Will, "I'm sorry, but I'm seriously swamped, can you cover that new table for me?"

Will looks, and upon seeing it's Sonny and Leo's gang, turns to say, "No, I-.", but unfortunately, the server's already gone, so he doesn't really have a choice. Great.

As he walks up, Leo doesn't waste any time,

"Well well. Looks like we got Pub Boy as our server today."

Will wants to snark back at him so badly, but he just says, "What can I get for you?"

Leo asks, "What can I get here that won't make me bloat up or break out?"

Must be his lucky break, so Will doesn't waste it, "Water."

Sonny and Chad snicker at this, while one of Leo's minions demands, "You're kidding, right?"

Leo chooses to ignore the comment, and just says, "I'll have a Perrier."

Which only serves to confuse Will, "A what?"

One of the minions snarks, "It's carbonated water. From France?", as everyone else keeps snickering.

Will's already dragging his feet enough as it is, so he tries to make this go as fast as possible, "Sorry, the only water we have is non carbonated and from a local source."

Leo only says, "That's too bad. Then I'll just have an iced tea."

Brian chooses to speak up here, "Make it two, and where's that sandwich I ordered?"

Will just jots the order down and walks away, while Leo comments, "There's no way he's getting a tip after that."

And that's the final straw for Sonny, who tells Leo, "Leo, listen, there's something we really need to talk about. In private."

Leo doesn't get what could be so important, "Come on, we're all friends here. Anything you have to say to me can be said just as easily here."

That's not what Sonny was hoping for, but seeing he doesn't really have a choice, he starts, "Okay…"

Everyone else leans in, but none of them are prepared when he says,

"I think we should break up."

Immediately, Leo gets defensive, "ExCUSE me?", whole everyone else hisses in sympathy.

Leo doesn't understand it at all, "Is there someone else?"

Now that he's said it, Sonny has no problem admitting, "I think there might be."

Both Brian and Chad have to ask, "What? Who is it?"

Again, Sonny admits, "I actually don't know.", then turns back to Leo, "Listen, we can always be…"

But Leo's quick to cut him off, "Say friends and you will regret it. Now the way I see it, you're incredibly lucky I'm in such a good mood, I'm just gonna pretend you didn't just say any of that. So you can just finish up what you're doing here, I'm gonna go get ready for the dance, and we'll meet up later. Got it?"

Then Leo and his minions leave, while Brian and Chad try to be supportive,

"Hey, that could've been a lot worse."

Sonny just gives them both a dirty look, which they take as their cue to leave, right as Will shows up with the drinks.

Naturally, Sonny holds up a few bills, offering to pay anyway, but Will just waves it off, "Forget it.", and takes the drinks back to the counter.

Marlena, who had been watching this whole time, "You know, kids like that remind me why so many of my patients are teenagers."

And wouldn't you know it, right as Sonny walks out, that's when Paul walks in, fully decked out in a V for Vendetta costume, announcing,

"Remember remember before it's November!"

Chapter Text

Paul immediately goes to where Will is wiping down the counter, who smiles despite himself.

"And I got us a ride" Paul exclaims, holding up a set of keys, only to be confused once he sees what Will's wearing.

"You're not going to the dance as a busboy, are you?"

Will hates having to say it, but he knows he can't deny it, "Paul, I'm not going."

Paul doesn't get what could've possibly changed his mind so fast, "What do you mean you're not going? What about chartroom guy?"

"Chatroom guy?" Kate repeats, curious. "Is that the guy who's been sending you all those little love notes?"

Will corrects her, "No, they're text messages."

Marlena pipes up, "If he's taking the time to tell you how he really feels, it's a love note."

Kate's too smart to not know what's going on here, "Oh I get it. This guy's got a crush on you!"

Which makes Will smile again, even blush, which only gets worse when Paul tells them,

"And he wants them to meet up at the Halloween dance tonight."

At that, both Kate and Marlena demand, "Then what the hell are you still doing here?"

Will reminds them, "I'm doing exactly what I was told."

Paul tries, "Will, come on! This is your soulmate!"

Will shakes his head as he clears another table, "Well my soulmate is gonna have to wait."

Kate refuses to accept that, "Save all of that for bad TV. You are most definitely going to that dance."

Will can't believe he needs to remind them all of what's really at stake here, "I literally can't leave this pub. If Stefano ever found out, he'd kill me, and then bring me back as leverage."

Kate isn't having it, "If Stefano so much as tries anything, he's gonna have me to answer to. Your parents did not leave this planet wanting you to be unhappy. Go find your happily ever after. You have to go to this dance."

Marlena wholeheartedly agrees, "Listen to your grandmothers. You're always working and studying your ass off. Take a night off for once!"

Will's not sure what exactly it is that convinced him, but he suddenly feels lighter than he has in years, "Okay. You're right. I'll go to the dance, meet my true love, and dance the night away!"

There's a round of applause from Paul and both of Will's grandmothers, and for a moment, Will can actually see himself doing it. But then, "Wait a minute. No I won't."

Nobody's sure what it could be this time, "Now what?" Paul asks.

Will can't believe he hasn't thought of this before, "I don't have a costume for this thing!"

Kate won't stand for that, "But I know somewhere you can get one!", and grabs Will's arm to get him changed out of his uniform, with Paul and Marlena following them to the nearest costume shop.

Chapter Text

In no time at all, Kate has an emergency appointment at the nearest costume shop, and Will wastes no time trying on as many as he can.

The first one he shows the rest of the gang is a matador outfit, complete with a red cape.

The shopkeeper likes it, "I think we got a winner!"

But Kate wholeheartedly disagrees, "Absolutely not!"

The next one is Gomez Adams, and Paul's definitely on board, snapping his fingers in support, but he's about the only one.

The next one is more of a joke, as a life size Bugs Bunny exits the changing room, and they all have a good laugh.

A Polynesian dancer is next, but they're still not entirely sold.

Then Will steps out in a priest costume, and now they just all feel guilty for not being able to find something.

The last one Will tries on is a classic knight in shining armor, and even Will can tell, "Let's face it. This has been a complete waste of time.", before going back into the changing room.

They're all looking pretty glum. They all just tried their best to grab a costume at the last second, and it didn't pay off.

So when something catches Kate's eye, she tells the shopkeeper, "Can I take a look at that mask?"

 

The shopkeeper pulls it out, and upon closer inspection, she calls out, "Marlena, come take a look at this."

Once Marlena joins her, they share a look, and they both know they're thinking the same thing.

The shopkeeper tries to tell them, "I don't have a costume for that."

Kate and Marlena tell him simultaneously, "But we do!"

 

Quickly, they make their way to Marlena's apartment, while Paul waits outside as Will's escort.

 

Will's still waiting to see what they have planned, hoping this is the costume they've been looking for.

They both carry a box box out of the closet, and Kate tells him, "You're not gonna know what hit you when you see this!"

They both move to set it down on the table, and Kare explains, "This was from your dad's days as a theater kid. Made it myself."

And that's something Will's never known until now, but before he can ask any questions, Kate waves it off, "That's a story for another day.", and opens the box.

Immediately, Will knows it's perfect, "It's incredible." But then, "There's no way I can accept something this perfect."

Marlena won't hear of it, "Oh yes you can. And you are. This costume has been in this box since long before you were born. It's only fitting it's being passed down onto you."

And yeah, that's true. Will knows if he's really going to go to this dance, this is the costume he's gonna do it in.

"All right. Let's get me in this thing, and hope to God it fits!"

Chapter Text

The Halloween dance is in full swing, and the deejay tells the crowd,

"Welcome Salem High Seniors to the annual Halloween dance! Our panel of teachers will use their best judgement choose our Halloween Princes and/or Princesses! In true Halloween fashion, it's not about who you are, it's about who you're dressed as! Good luck!"

Elsewhere, Stefan shows up, cursing himself, "Last time I ever take Stefano's advice on anything. Worst costume ever."

Sonny's just shown up with Brian and Chad, who are really not happy with the last minute costume change.

Chad starts first, "Heard about you losing your costume, Sonny."

Sonny doesn't see a problem, "No worries. It all worked out."

Brian disagrees, "No it didn't! Now we're not Alvin the Chipmunks. You get to be Chris Daae, and we're just two chumps in shirts.", gesturing to his and Chad's blue and green shirts.

Sonny laughs, and that's when Leo and his goons show up, in a biker gang group costume.

Then Will shows up with Paul, who's doing the best he can to sneak Will inside to help him calm down.

"Will, just give me my cape back. You look incredible!" Paul encourages him.

Will reminds Paul, "I know but you get why I'm just a little freaked out, right?"

Paul keeps talking, "It's going to be fine! Now come on. It's almost 11."

Will follows, but he really needs Paul to remember, "Paul, just please please PLEASE remember that I have to be back at the pub before midnight."

Seeing Will's not going to drop this, he hold out his hand, "Okay, give me your phone."

Will reaches into his costume shirt, fishes it out, and hands it over, and Paul immediately starts tapping away.

"I'm going to set an alarm for 11:45, okay?" Paul tells him, and once it's done, he hands it back, "There. Now give me the cape."

When Will hesitates, Paul pushes, "Come on, you made it all the way here for this, and now it's time."

Right then, the song changes, and that turns out to be the courage Will needs, and finally takes off Paula cape and hands it back, then lets Paul make his way down the stairs first.

Only thing is, once Paul's made it to the dance floor, everyone's looking at him.

Or, more accurately, they're looking behind him, where Will is finally at the top of the stairs, ready to make his entrance, in his dad's Phantom of the Opera costume, complete with the mask from the shop.

Everyone takes notice as Will walks down the stairs to meet his escort.

Sonny is so blown away by what he sees, somewhere in his gut, he knows, no, he FEELS, that whoever's behind that mask has to be the one he's been waiting for. 

Leo comments, "Killer costume. Shitty person."

Will is focused on one thing and one thing only: getting to the middle of the dance floor and hopefully, this turns out to be a night he'll always remember.

Paul guides him towards their destination, but upon seeing how nervous Will still is, he offers more words of encouragement,

"Will, would you please relax? Anyone in this school would be absolutely crazy to not like you."

Will doesn't reply, just looks away, then Paul assures him, "I'm just gonna be a few feet away, and I'll be watching the whole time."

Then Paul leaves, and Will's by himself.

But not for long, because then, from behind him, he hears,

"You're exactly in the middle of the dance floor, at exactly 11:00."

Chapter Text

"You're exactly in the middle of the dance floor, at exactly 11:00."

Will turns slowly, nervous, but once he sees who's there, he can't help but be disappointed.

"It's only fitting the first time were together is right here at a dance."

"Neal? You're Titan?" Will asks, sure there has to be a mistake.

If Will hadn't been so confused, he would've seen the same look on Neil's face as he asks, "Titan?" But it passes just as quickly, "That's right. I've been wanting to ask you out for a while now, and I thought there'd be no better way than through the art of dance."

And then Neil proceeds to do just that, starting with the moves Will caught him practicing yesterday, and honestly? There's nothing wrong with it, but Will can honestly say he's never felt anything for Neil, and that hasn't changed.

Which is why he tries to be as nice as possible, "Um, I think I'm starting to get a little thirsty. Maybe some punch?"

At that, Neil stops, "A drink for the Phantom. Right away." And walks away.

Will, meanwhile, can't help but hate himself, "Damnit. Why did I let myself think this was going to be anything but a disaster?" And puts his head in his hands.

But then, "Spec?"

That's weird. Only Titan knows his screen name. Will turns again, but this time, it's even more unbelievable.

"Jackson Kiriakis? You're Titan?"

Sonny looks away, a little embarrassed, "Yeah. Guess my costume didn't do as great a job at hiding me as I was hoping.", and gestures to his genderbent Chris Daae outfit.

Will shakes his head, resolved, "No, no. I am well aware of who you are." Then he tells him, "I'm sorry. I made a huge mistake. So I'm just going to go."

And then he leaves, trying to at least salvage some of the night, but before he gets too far away, there's a hand on his arm, and Sonny's there, trying to explain, "Wait. Don't go. Please. It's not a mistake."

Will can't believe he has to spell it out for him, "You know who I am, don't you?"

But either Sonny's choosing to ignore what he actually means, or he's oblivious, because he says next, "Of course I do. You're Spec. You're the one I've been talking to for months now. I know exactly who you are."

Will doesn't buy it, "And your boyfriend?"

Sonny shakes his head, smiling, "Over long after it should've been."

Which makes Will's heart pound like crazy, because he seriously can't believe that the guy he's never met up until now, Jackson "Sonny" Kiriakis, actually dumped his boyfriend. For him.

And don't think Leo didn't notice, who's on the other side of the dance floor, watching the whole thing unfold, pissed.

Sonny and Will choose to go over to the refreshment table, where it's easier to talk, as Sonny admits sheepishly,

"So I'm guessing you're expecting a guy that hangs out in tiny coffee shops and reads literature for fun?"

Will nods, "Something close to that." But then thinks better of it, "Be serious. You're Jackson Kiriakis. Track star. Student body president. And now you're telling me you're a bookworm? You can't be all of them rolled into one."

Sonny knows this, and admits, "You're right. I'm not."

Which confuses Will even more, "Then who are you?"

For a moment, it looks like Sonny's not going to answer, but then he claps his hands together, and tells him, "Back in September, I wrote you, 'I live in a world where everyone believes the lie I live. But when I talk to you…'"

Will finishes, "'I only want to live the truth'."

Seeing Will understands, Sonny asks, "Give me a chance to do that tonight."

Will's still not sure, so then Sonny asks, "Would you want to accompany me outside?"

That answer is easy, "If you want a chance to be voted Halloween Prince, you should stay inside."

Sonny rolls his eyes, "I seriously couldn't care less about being Halloween Prince."

Then he holds out a hand, "I realize this is usually the Phantom's job, but would you mind letting me take the lead?"

What the hell. Just a few minutes ago he thought Titan was Neil, and now it's turned out to be Jackson Kiriakis. Any guy would KILL for this chance.

So he doesn't think twice, he takes Sonny's hand, and lets Sonny lead Will outside, by the gazebos.

Chapter Text

Now that they're alone outside, Sonny doesn't waste any time.

"So tell me, Spec, if I were to guess correctly, would you tell me?"

Intrigued, Will plays coy, "Possibly."

Sonny repeats, "Possibly, huh? What do you say to 20 questions?"

Will counters, "10."

Luckily, Sonny's nice enough to concede, "Okay, 10. Better than nothing."

Once they're walking through the decorative lights, Sonny tries to reach for Will's hand, but when he doesn't go for it, he starts,

"Okay. Question number 1. Do you actually go to Salem High?"

The question strikes Will as odd, "Of course! You really think I'd be here if I wasn't?"

Sonny defends himself, "Just checking. We did meet online, after all."

Now Sonny gets more comfortable, "Were you disappointed when you found out it was me?"

When will doesn't reply, Sonny assures him, "You can be honest. I won't judge."

But Will's answer is nothing to worry about, "Actually, no."

Feeling more brave from that answer, Sonny goes for another one, "Did you vote for me for student body president?"

Again, Will doesn't feel the need to lie, "Actually, yes."

Sonny's really starting to enjoy this, "Interesting." But the next question is another weird one, "If you had a choice, would you prefer sneaking into a bar, or discussing literature over coffee?"

Will has no idea where that's coming from, "Literature over coffee. But what does that…?"

Sonny's quick to explain, "I like someone who's more than just all about partying. Besides, you just eliminated half the gay guys in our class."

When they stop, Sonny just stares at him, noting, "You'd think I'd have seen those eyes before. So amazing."

Will can't stop the blush from underneath the mask, but he tries to cover, "Next question."

But right then, they notice they've walked all the way to where a wedding is set up, with rows of chairs, along with a fully decorated gazebo.

Will is definitely impressed, "Wow."

This prompts Sonny to ask, "Is asking you to dance technically a question?", right as they walk inside the gazebo.

Will has to point out, "With no music?"

Sonny doesn't see the problem, "So what?", then holds out his hand again.

And Will's been having so much fun this far, he decides what the hell, and takes Sonny's hand, who pulls it so they're close enough for a slow dance.

They start to sway back and forth, but then, somewhere, someone starts playing music, and when they look, a band has started practicing softly, and it's so shocking, they can't help but giggle from both that and how nervous they both are.

Then they look at each other again, and whatever nervousness they were feeling, melts away.

The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful

Stop me and steal my breath

At one point, Sonny stops to reach for Will's mask, but before he can, Will turns his head away.

Emeralds from mountains and thrust towards the sky

Never revealing their depth

Confused, Sonny covers by reaching for Will's hand again, and of course Will takes it again, and then they're dancing again.

I'll be your cryin' shoulder

I'll be love suicide

I'll be better when I'm older

I'll be the greatest fan of your life

Then, Will asks, "Got anymore questions for me?"

Sonny knows how sappy this sounds, but he doesn't care, "You think love at first sight is real?"

Will almost wants to say yes, but instead he says, "I'll give you a call once I know."

That doesn't help Sonny, so he asks, "But we've met before?"

Will admits, "Yes, we have."

Sonny has a hard time believing that, "How could we have met before, and I have no idea who you are now?"

Will offers, "Maybe you saw me, without actually seeing me."

That definitely gives Sonny pause, then Will reminds him, "Looks like you're down to your last question."

At that, Sonny stops dancing, then turns around to reach for something behind him, and when he turns around, it's a lily.

Then Sonny asks, slowly, "Do you, Spec, believe you did the right thing in meeting me here tonight?"

After everything, Will can answer without blinking an eye, "I do.".

Then Will surprises Sonny with a question of his own, "And do you, Jackson 'Sonny' Kiriakis, ever want to see me again after tonight?"

Sonny teases, "Oh I dunno about that.", but before Will can object, he answers, "Absolutely."

Then, very slowly, they move closer again, but this time, when Sonny reaches up to take off the mask, Will doesn't stop him.

This is it. Will wasn't ready before, but he knows he is now. He's really going to kiss Sonny Kiriakis at the end the most perfect night of his life.

But fate has a cruel sense of irony, because right when Sonny's fingertips touch the mask, that's right when the alarm on Will's phone goes off.

Chapter Text

But fate has a cruel sense of irony, because right when Sonny's fingertips touch the mask, that's right when the alarm on Will's phone goes off.

 

"It had to be now, didn't it?" Will mumbles to himself, staring at the ground.

Sonny, oblivious, asks, "What? What's wrong?"

Will looks back at him, completely apologetic, "I have to get going."

Which leaves Sonny only even more confused, "What, some kind of curfew?"

Will admits, "More or less." Then, "But from the bottom of my heart, thank you. This night was perfect."

Then he turns to leave, but Sonny tries to stop him, "Wait!" and puts a hand on his arm, "Where are you going?"

Will turns to look at Sonny as he tells him, "I'm late."

"For what?"

"Reality." Then Will turns to run back inside, leaving Sonny standing inside the gazebo.

But not for long, because as Sonny watches him go, his legs take on a mind of their own, as he sprints from the gazebo and tries to follow Will's path.

 

Inside, the principal announces,

"Hello everyone! It's almost midnight! And now it's time to announce who's tonight's Halloween Court!"

Will rushes across the dance floor, looking for his escort, while Sonny runs into Chad.

"Hey, Chad. Did you see the guy I was with?"

Chad shakes his head, "No, I didn't see him , but you should've seen the fight that went down in here, it was crazy!"

On Will's side, he finally finds Paul, only to catch him in a situation that he knows he's gonna kick himself for: Making out with Leo Stark. With no tongue shortage to be seen.

Will reaches out a hand to get his attention, whispering, "Paul. Come on."

Paul opens his eyes, but doesn't stop, so Will has to gesture to his wrist, "I know, and I'm sorry, but I really need to go."

Up on stage, the principal announces,

"Your new Halloween Prince and Prince, are…" she pauses for effect. "Chris Daae, and the Phantom of the Opera!"

A bunch of people start shoving Sonny towards the stage, while Paul finally manages to break away and tell Leo, "I'm sorry, but I have to go."

He leaves one last parting kiss, before taking off with Will, and leaving Leo standing there in a daze.

Right as Sonny is all but shoved to the stage, Will's just reached the stairs, and upon seeing this, someone casts a spotlight on him, which is enough to make him stumble, causing his mask to fall off, but he just gets up and keeps going. He can't afford to be late.

Sonny, however, caught a glimpse of him, and rushes towards the stairs, and once he reaches where the guy fell, all that's left is the mask.

He picks it up, then goes back outside, but it's too late. By the time he's made it to the door, whoever he was is nowhere in sight.

Defeated, he clutches the mask in his hand carefully, then heads back inside.

 

"I almost kissed Jackson Kiriakis!" Will tells Paul excitedly as they get back in the car.

"I absolutely did kiss Leo Stark!"  Paul says back.

Then, as Paul gets in the driver's seat, he asks, "Wait, wait! So how did he react when you told him who you are?"

As Will gets into his seat, he answers, "He said nothing, because he never found out."

Paul can't believe it, "You seriously mean to tell me after all of this, you didn't tell him? Why?"

Will shakes his head as he unties his cape, "Paul, I live with the staff at the DiMera mansion. I drive a rental car paid for by Stefano, and he was expecting…" he stops to think, "A gay Ken Doll."

Paul doesn't say anything, just looks completely sympathetic, as Will finishes,

"I'll be doing him and everyone else a favor if I don't show my face again."

 

At Brady's, who should walk in but Stefano DiMera, and he's not happy.

"Where is William?" He asks slowly and calmly to Marlena, who has to force herself to not panic at the thought of Will still being gone,

"I don't know what you're talking about. He's been here all night."

Stefano says, "Being him out here. I want to talk to him."

Stefano walks straight to the counter, as he orders a whiskey, when suddenly, a bottle breaks, causing a huge mess, so Stefano has to reprimand the poor unfortunate staff member who dropped it.

But once that's settled, a tray of food gets dropped, so Stefano has to get someone to clean that up as well, and by the time that's done, he starts to get suspicious.

So when he sees something about to break again, this time he catches it himself, grabs the staff member by the arm, and orders him, "I said I want to talk to William. Now. Or else."

And that's when the kitchen door opens, and who should walk through but Will himself, hands full of trays of food, announcing, "All right, looks like we had a few small mishaps out here, but I've got your replacements right here. Order up!"

Upon seeing Will, Stefano looks genuinely surprised, "Will? What're you doing?"

Will covers as best he can, "Just helping the staff clean up the mess."

Kate comes out of the kitchen, backing him up, "Helped him find the booze myself. Really hard to find all the way in the back."

Will asks, "Did you say you wanted to talk to me?"

But Stefano is too smart to know something isn't right, so he just says, "Forget it. Get back to work.", and storms out.

They all wait with their hearts pounding until they're sure Stefano is gone, then turn to look at Will, who collapses into a chair.

Luckily the dress shirt from his costume looks extremely similar to the one he wears for his work uniform.

Chapter Text

The next morning, as Will and Paul walk towards the school's entrance, Will asks, "How much trouble are you in?"

Paul jokes, "Does 'benched' count as trouble?", then reminds Will, "So it's official? You're not going to tell Sonny?"

Will rolls his eyes, "Paul, be serious. You say that like he's gonna drive himself crazy looking for me. Mark my words. He's forgotten all about the Phantom by now."

But Will finds himself eating those words in the next instant, because as soon as they walk inside the school, the information desk is littered with fliers, all of them saying the same thing,

Are you the Phantom? Contact Sonny Kiriakis.

In the middle is a picture of his mask, along with Sonny's number.

Will has no idea what to think, while Paul says jokingly, "Oh yeah. He's forgotten all about you. Completely."

Will gives him a dirty look at that, and just keeps staring at they fliers as he walks down the halls.

 

Elsewhere, Sonny's putting up more fliers, with the help of Brian and Chad, who still haven't fully grasped the situation.

"Sonny, come on! Why are you driving yourself crazy over some guy?" Chad asks.

Sonny snaps back, "He's not just some guy. He was... genuine."

Brian speaks up here, "You mean genuine, like he might actually be out of the closet?"

Sonny clarifies, "No I mean real, like a guy that actually cares about more than just partying or hooking up. He... listened to me."

Brian tries to help, "Look, you have his mask, right? You just have to track down where he got it."

Sonny admits, "No tag on it anywhere, and apparently this particular mask was one of its kind. No costume shop I went to recognized it, nor did they even have a costume that came close to the one he was wearing."

 

As Will and Paul walk through a door, Paul tries again, whispering loudly "Will, this guy's actively trying to hunt you down. You have to tell him it was you!"

Will's not having it, "Can't I just be happy with the one perfect night instead of ruining it with the truth?"

Paul has to point out the flaws with this idea, "But it's not a big school. You can't hide from him the rest of your life."

Will assures him, "Not the rest of my life. Just until I graduate, go off to Salem U, and we never have to see each other again."

Then he remembers, "Now excuse me, but what about you, V? When are you gonna tell Leo?"

Will's too smart to know Paul hadn't thought about it, "Well, I uh, was actually gonna tell him right now."

Will calls him on it, "Okay, I'll make you a deal. You tell Leo it was you, I'll tell Sonny it was me."

Paul holds out his hand, "Deal."

Will takes it, "Deal."

 

"Just look through the yearbook again. Maybe you missed him." Chad advises.

"Or he's an exchange student!" Brian offers.

Sonny, however, is already shaking his head, "There's no way I missed him. We just ...connected."

 

At that exact moment, Will and Paul are walking down the same hall, and just for a second, they actually catch each other's eyes. Will's heart starts pounding, thinking this is what he's been hoping for. That Sonny will just look in his eyes and just know.

But it's quickly dashed a second later, when Sonny looks away, doesn't even acknowledge him, and because Will wasn't watching where he was going, actually hits his head on an open locker, managing to push it closed.