Will Solace, son of Apollo, was at the archery range when Nico approached him. None of Will's shots had penetrated the inner circle, let alone the bullseye, but you don't get better unless you practice, eh?
Will fired another arrow before turning to Nico. The arrow hit the edge of the target; his worst shot yet. He blamed Nico. Will got a little flustered whenever the son of Hades was around.
"Hi," Will said to Nico, smiling. "What's up?"
As per usual, Nico got straight down to business. "Hades knows we spend a lot of time together. He wants to meet you."
Will gasped a little. This was not what he had been expecting. It was true, him and Nico had hung out almost everyday for the past four months, but they were just friends. Did Hades think they were something more? Did he know about Will's crush on Nico?
Trying to act casual, Will asked "When?"
"Anytime," Nico replied. He lowered his voice. "But right now would be good. Are you finished? My dad doesn't like to be kept waiting."
Will shrugged, but dread was starting to pool in his stomach. "Okay."
He dumped his bow and remaining arrows with one of his sisters - Kayla - and followed Nico across camp. They were heading in the direction of the Hades cabin.
"Do we actually have to go to, um, you know, THE UNDERWORLD?" Will asked nervously. Nico nodded.
Will shivered. He was a child of light, and music, and poetry. He belonged above ground, not in the shadows and darkness of the Underworld.
Once again, he thought how strange it was that he was attracted to a child of that place.
They had reached the Hades cabin. Nico threw open the door and walked in, Will following nervously. He had been in the Hades cabin a few times before, and hated it. The decor was terrible.
Once the door was shut, Nico grabbed his hand and Will practically jumped out of his skin. Nico was not the kind of person who enjoyed touching, and intimacy, and this was the first time he had willingly grabbed Will's hand.
"We've got to shadow travel," Nico hissed. "Try not to yell too loud, because Jason, Percy and Chiron have all forbidden me to shadow travel."
Will had also forbidden Nico to shadow travel, but before he could point this out Nico began to fade away as Will had watched him do many times before, but this time Will followed him.
As a child of the light, the darkness felt awful as it seeped through his body. He felt as though he had turned to dust, and it hurt. He started to freak out, but kept his mouth clamped shut. What if he never reformed again?
But when he did, he wished he could go back to being dust. Him and Nico stood in the corner of a large room. The walls were made from obsidian, and obsidian pillars held up the ceiling. In the centre of the room was a throne, and on the throne was Hades, god of the Underworld and Nico's father.
The sight of him, the exact reverse of Will's father Apollo, made Will's blood run cold. Hades's hair was long and black, his face gaunt, eyes hooded and dark. He was wearing a cloak made from the souls of the damned, and Will could hear them scream.
He wanted to leave. He didn't belong here. "Dad?" Nico said, stepping into Hades's line of sight. Will, still holding his hand, was dragged after him. "Nico," Hades replied, nodding at him. Nico tried to let go of Will's hand, but Will clung to him stubbornly. He felt like Nico was the only thing anchoring him to the world above. "Dad, this is Will," Nico said. "You asked to meet him." "Yes, I did." Hades nodded again. "May I ask, why are you holding his hand?" Nico blushed, the colour very bright against his pale skin. "He's nervous, dad. I told you, he's a son of Apollo. This place is freaking him out." Hades frowned. "Is he mute?" Nico nudged Will, who jumped. "No, I'm not mute," he said breathlessly. This place, and Hades, was getting on his nerves. To Will's surprise, Hades actually smiled. It was a scary, unfriendly smile, but still a smile. "I'm so glad Nico's making friends," he said. "I just want him to be happy. So if you hurt him, I have a special place in the Fields of Punishment waiting for you." Will gulped. Nico looked at him in concern. "It was nice seeing you, dad," Nico said hastily. "But we need to go now. I think Will might faint." "Okay. Goodbye son, Will." Once again, Nico dragged Will after him as he faded into the shadows.
When Nico and Will reformed they were back in the Hades cabin. Will dropped Nico's hand and wheezed in relief, doubled over with his hands on his knees.
"Sorry," Nico said. "I had no idea that much darkness would affect you that badly."
"It's fine." Will straightened up. "Did Hades meant it, when he said he had a place waiting for me in the fields of punishment?"
Nico shook his head. "I think he was just being overprotective." But he didn't look so sure.
"Nico, I'm a doctor," Will said. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"I know," Nico replied softly. "Don't listen to my father."
For a few minutes they were both silent. Will could not stop thinking about holding Nico's hand in Hades's throne room. Had his hand been sweaty? Was he being too forward, too clingy? He glanced at Nico. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes very bright despite their dark colouring. Man, Will wanted to kiss him. But would Nico let him.
"Will?" Nico asked. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Screw being clingy. Life was short, and if there was a spot waiting for Will in the Fields of Punishment, he might as well make the most of it. He refused to miss another opportunity.
In one stride he crossed over to where Nico stood. To his relief, Nico didn't take a step back. Will bent down slightly - he was taller than Nico - and took his face in his hands. His skin was surprisingly warm. Heart pounding, Will kissed the boy who he had fallen for.
Nico stiffened, but Will didn't break away. He had never kissed anyone before, so he had no idea what he was doing. But when Nico responded, it was clear he was new to kissing too.
The kiss don't last anywhere near as long as Will would've wanted it to. The door swung open, and the two demigods broke apart to find Percy Jackson and Jason Grace goggling at them in awe.