Nico lay fast asleep next to Will. Will liked to look at Nico asleep, because he looked at peace, like an Angel. His usual scowl disappeared and he looked liked a regular fifteen year old, not some kid who’d been pulled out of his life and placed into a hotel where he didn’t age. Not like some kid who’d endured so much pain and misery that even the gods themselves couldn’t inflict anything else on him. Of course, Nico often had nightmares but Will chose to classify that as caused by his experience in Tartarus. Will caressed his cheek slowly, wondering how Nico survived it. He’d seen the damage it did to Percy and Annabeth.
Nico slowly buried himself into Will’s warm chest, and Will wrapped his arms around his waist, putting his chin on top of Nico’s head, pressing a kiss on his forehead before closing his eyes, allowing the calm of sleep to overtake him.
Will didn’t know where he was. It was a forest, covered in trees, roses blooming on bushes on the ground.
“Do not fear,” a melodious, soft voice said, “Come to me, Will Solace.”
Entranced by the beauty of the voice, Will walked deeper into the forest, stopping only when he reached a clearing. There was a wooden bench and table, and seated atop the table was a woman.
Will approached, sensing she was not dangerous. She was short and eloquent. If grace could be described, she’d be the description. She wore a black dress, lace black gloves and a black hat tilted elegantly on her head. Her hair was long and straight, toppling over her shoulders in obsidian black streaks. Her skin was a light, olive tone and her expressive, big, doe-like eyes were too familiar to Will, but he couldn’t figure where he knew those brown eyes. The woman smiled at him, lighting up her entire face.
“You know who I am,” she said in accented English, “yet you don’t know who I am.”
She seemed to be amused by this.
“Very well, Will Solace,” she said, “I am Maria di Angelo.”
Will’s heart almost skidded to a stop.
“W-what?” Will stammered, “Is this possible?”
Maria laughed, “Well, I am here, am I not?”
“Why aren’t you with..with…” Will managed, unable to say his name.
A frown crossed Maria’s ethereal face. Will realized, with shock, how much Nico resembled his mother.
“I fear my son has suffered enough in his short life,” Maria said, her eyes glistening, “You know what the fatal flaw of all children of the Underworld is, Will Solace? It is holding grudges. My Nico has come so far…opened his heart to love and friendship…let go of so much anger and hate…the last thing I would want is for him to continue on that path, and I am terrified he would do so should I appear to him.”
“He’s not like that anymore,” Will said, coming to Nico’s defense. Maria said nothing, offering a smile.
“Take care of my little prince of darkness, would you, Will Solace. Swear it by the Styx, and then I shall fully be able to find peace. My guilt for leaving my children at the hands of this cruel world is what binds me here, ” Maria said, softly.
“I don’t need to swear by the Styx for something I intend to do,” Will said, a small smile breaking out on his face, “But if it helps you to move on, then I, Will Solace, swear by the river Styx that I’ll take care of Nico. I’ll love him, comfort him, be there for him and remind him that he’s never alone, until the day I’m unable to.”
Thunder boomed within the distance. A serene smile crossed Maria’s face, “Thank you, Will Solace.”
Will woke up with a gasp.
“Will?” Nico moaned, raising his dark head.
“It’s alright, Neeks. Just had a strange dream,” Will comforted Nico, “Go back to sleep, babe.”
“Wanna share?” Nico whispered, still half-asleep.
“Will you tell me about your mother?” Will blurted.
Nico froze. That got his attention. Will silently prayed that he hadn’t overstepped his bounds. He knew Nico was sensitive about his past.
Nico yawned, pulled the blankets up over his black shirt and told Will, “It’s almost one in the morning. I’ll tell you all about my mother and sister in the morning, I promise, tesoro, but just let me sleep.”
“I know, l know. With great power comes a great need to take a nap,” Will smiled into the darkness, “Night darlin’.”
Soon enough, Will fell asleep too, a smiling Maria di Angelo watching over both boys in the darkness.