Actions

Work Header

Return To Me

Work Text:

   “Okay, add a few fresh bay leaves once the potion boils,” Percy says as he hands a bowl filled with small, dark green leaves. Leo takes the bowl without even looking. “How much do you think I should put?” Leo asks.

   He continues to stir the bubbling liquid inside the pot. At intervals, he raises the ladle in order to see the viscosity of the liquid.

   “Doesn’t say. A handful maybe. The more the better right?” Percy shrugs as he reads the next line.

Mix the potion with a bowl of seven crushed apples.

   Percy grimaced. The liquid in the pot already turns into a sickly green and is getting thicker by the minute. The incessant bubbling adds more to Percy’s disgust. Adding crushed apples, well, that just makes him sick.

   Leo, who is unnerved by the look of the potion, laughs at Percy’s reaction. “Why are laughing?” Percy whines when he realizes his boyfriend is actually laughing at him.

   “You know why, seaman. You shouldn’t have offer yourself,” Leo laughs.

   Percy makes a face at Leo. “How should I know that this damn potion would look so bloody awful?”

   Leo snorts. “Most of the potions we’ve done are gross, water boy. You are apparently just dense,” Leo adds the crushed apple into the pot. The liquid lets out a small pop. And then comes the smell. Leo covers his nose with a napkin.

   Percy, however, immediately hurls himself to the sink. Leo grimaces as Percy lets out a retching sound.

   “Percy, I won’t be responsible for Nico’s wrath. He spent his day to clean the sink two days ago,” Leo warns Percy. However, the green eyed male just ignores the Latino in favor of puking his guts out. Leo winces each time the retching sound resonates.

   After what seemingly a few hours, while it’s only a few minutes, Percy stops. “That is awful,” Percy groans while wiping his mouth with his leaves. Leo scrunches his nose. “Stop wiping with that, Jackson. Wash your mouth first,” he slaps a rag to Percy’s face before returning to the potion.

   The flame is put out just as Jason comes in. Leo, not expecting the blond, unintentionally stares at him. The smile that is usually on Jason’s face is gone, replaced by a frown. Although in Leo’s opinion, the frown does nothing to hide Jason’s handsomeness but of course, he doesn’t say that out loud. Not when his boyfriend is in the kitchen too. Amongst other things.

   “What’s up?” instead he takes another approach. Leo cringes mentally when he heard his hoarse voice.

   “Do you know where Nico is?” ah, Nico. That’s another reason why Leo can’t express his opinion. This past year, Jason’s attention has been more on Nico. Not that he’s complaining or what. He knows how close Jason is to Nico and what Nico meant to him. It’s kind of like him and Percy at the beginning.

   Except, Percy and him are much more awkward.

   “Nope. Haven’t seen him all day. I thought he’s with you,” Leo frowns. Nico, in his early years knowing the Italian, has been a solitary person. Always avoiding people and goes god-knows-where without other’s knowledge. But he has changed. Or at least he seems to be.

   “No, I was at the library, finishing my assignment. I ask for his help this evening. But he is nowhere to be found,” Jason says.

   They both suddenly hear a thud. Apparently, Percy has fallen while trying to clean his face. How that idiot manages to accomplish such feat is beyond Leo. But he guesses that is one of Percy’s charms that attracted him.

   “What’s wrong with him?”

   Leo snorts. “Potions. Apparently, the Captain of The Seas is finally man enough to face murky water but meh, you know the rest.”

   Jason finally notices the foul stench in the kitchen. He has been wondering where Nico is that he does not notice it at all. He notices there is only one window open.

   He flicks his wrist at the other closed windows and mutters, “Aperio.”

   With simultaneous clicks, the windows unlock and fling open. He flicks his wrist again. Soothing gust of wind whips into the room, clearing the kitchen from the foul stench. He hears Leo mumbles to himself ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

   “You are alright now?” Jason asks Percy, who has his back onto him as he stands. He sees Percy nods.

   There’s something weird about Percy right now. But Jason just shrugs and returns his attention to Leo. He likes looking at Leo. He can’t really look as much now but there’s something attractive about Leo to Jason. Which is one of the reasons he liked him before, and still does. Jason immediately snaps out of his stupor.

   He notices that Leo just look at him as if he is funny. “Sorry, just thinking where Nico would be.”

   He notices something faint changes in Leo’s face but it disappears as quickly as it comes. “You could try to scry for him. Knowing Jack Skellington, he would be unpredictable,” says Leo.

   Leo is right. Maybe he should just do that. Just as he stands up to find the scrying bowl, Percy says something.

   “What date is today?” the raven haired male asks softly.

   “March 21st.”

   Percy sighs. He turns to face Leo and Jason with a morose expression. Jason mentally frown when he sees Percy's attractive face shapes into something worse. Not that Jason will say it out loud. Goodness Percy does not need anyone to boost his ego, especially in front of Leo and from Jason. "I know where he is.”

   Jason brightens up a little. “Really, where?”

   Percy looks at Jason. “The graveyard.”

   Jason and Leo become confused. They are worried about Percy’s expression. It’s not weird to hear Nico is at the graveyard considering his dominion over the dead. But Percy’s expression tells another story.

   “March 21st is the day Nico’s mother being struck down by lightning in front of Nico and Bianca.” In other words, the day Nico’s mother died.

   Jason becomes speechless. He has forgotten that. Due to the rush life of being a witch and a college students, he forgets about one the most important dates in Nico’s life. Nico once told him this story after he knew the truth behind his mother’s death. His mother died protecting her sister and him from a rogue venti. At that time, Hayden was struggling to fight other hoards of venti as his powers barely work on them. But one venti escaped and tries to struck Nico and Bianca. Maria jumped in front of them just in time, to block the attack, in expense of her life.

   “How do you know that?” Leo asks. A serious expression replaces his cheerful demeanour.

   “Bianca told me once. Before…,” Percy doesn’t have to finish the sentence. They both know what he is going to say. Before she died.

   Jason doesn’t know what to feels actually. Nico, in his younger years was very close to his family. Even his father. The death of two of the most important persons in his life struck young Nico’s hard. With his father being hard on him, he withdrawn himself.

   Jason doesn’t really know the feeling of lost. His sister is still alive. His mother died when he was young but she is not someone he would miss. His father, well, he does not really have the best relationship with. Even after knowing that he and his father are both Hexen.

   Percy throws the rag into the sink. "I think it's best if you just leave him alone for today." Percy says when as Jason tries to walk out of the kitchen. Jason raises his brows at Percy. "I've tried it once. Accompanying him on this day. He doesn't take it well."

   "He needs someone..," Jason argues. But Percy quickly cut off his words, "He spends the last few years alone Grace. I don't think being alone for another year would hurt him. Beside, what would you know about how he feels," frankly speaking, Percy has no idea why he said that. It isn't his intention.

   Jason looks hurt. Percy, somehow gets a sense of satisfaction from the look. Deep in his heart, he knows that Nico wouldn't mind Jason's company. Jason, after all, is basically Nico's everything. His best friend, confidante, closest person to Nico. It feels hurt remembering how Nico rejects Percy for almost everything while accepts Jason for almost everything. And a small fraction of his heart wants Jason's attention. He after all is Jason's best bro, right?

   Leo, sensing the mood change quickly intervenes. "Uh hey, babe. Can you get me some candles from the attic? I forget to bring some down," that, seemingly, knocks them both out of their stupor.

   Percy quickly nods and mumbles 'Yeah, I'll do that,' before walking off. Leo sighs. Luckily Percy does not notice that no candles are needed. Leo turns to Jason. The latter looks at him with a soft smile. "You know he doesn't mean that. I think this fartbomb of a potion is the cause." Leo awkwardly tries to defend Percy. Hell, he hates doing this mediator thingy. He isn't good with emotion even if he feels some. This is usually Jason's job.

   "Thank you," Jason, the ever understanding guy, just shrugs it off. That's not fair. Leo keeps having this tingles  every time Jason being understanding. And he is afraid of what that tingles mean. He has a boyfriend, for crying out loud. One he doesn't even know how he gets.

   "Do you need help?" Jason asks.

   Leo immediately nods. He points at the potion and empty potion jars on the kitchen counter and quickly tells him what to do.

   Jason reaches for the pot while grabbing one of the potion jar. He scoops some of the potion, lifting it in the air using the ladle before pouring it back into the pot. There's tiny hint of grimace on his face.

   "Ugh, what kind of potion is this? You disappoint me this time Leo. I thought I could count on you when it comes to cooking, but this," Jason makes another show of scooping the potion and dumping it into the pot, "is disappointing." Jason half mocks, half teases.

   Leo gasps. How dare he! " Excuse me?! You're talking to Super Chef McShizzle, Order of Martha Stewart First Class. You dare comment on my potions!"

   Leo knows Jason is just trying to lighten his own mood. And supporting it is what Leo does best. Jason snorts and thus, their banter starts.

*****

   Leo looks at the clock. 5.15  pm. He stands impatiently at the foyer, with occasional pacing that would make people have a headache.

   He is waiting for Nico. He has not seen him all day. Although 5.15 pm  is hardly the end of the day, he can't help but feel anxious. 

   There's a monster on the loose and they have yet to figure it out what it is. So far, a few innocents have been attack, though none are dead, all of them are critically injured. He knows Nico is powerful and extremely talented in using his powers but he can't help but to feel worry. If the event in the noon is any indication, Nico would probably be in a vulnerable state right now. 

   Jason and Percy are out, on their own way, to search for the monster. Leo initially refuses to let them out but after hearing more and more innocents are targeted, he has to let them go. And their vulnerable states do not help either.

   He can feel that both Percy and Jason are affected by something that made them so easily vulnerable. Usually, even if Percy says something hurtful, Jason does not take it seriously. He knows sometimes Percy has his random mood swings. But today is different.

   Something has been affecting them. Leo groans as he waits. "Motus," he says as he stretches his hand towards Hexen's Grimoire. The said book flies right into his hand. He harshly flips through the pages. "To Call for a Witch, to call for a witch."

   While he was searching, the front door suddenly opens, revealing a pale skin male. Leo looks up, stops his search now that the wanted witch is in front of him. "Where the hell have been?!" he practically yells at Nico. The latter, looks at Leo with his tired face, looking utterly unimpressed.

   "I don't realize I have to tell you anything, mom," Leo internally winces at Nico's sharp tone. However, he immediately recovers. "Don't be an ass, man. There's a monster on the loose. Plus, I don't realize it's a crime to be worried about anybody," Leo grumbles.

   "I don't ask you too," Nico softly replies, but loud enough for Leo to hear. Without another word, he walks past Leo towards the stairs. Leo is left speechless. Oh, he did not just do that.

   "Nico!" Leo storms after the Italian. The latter ignores him as he practically marches towards his room. He manages to enter his room and tries to close the door. Leo, not wanting a door to be slammed on his face quickly sticks his leg out and blocks the closing door. He apparently underestimate Nico's push, because his feet is almost crushed.

   Leo retracts his leg, holding it while hopping up and down. "Ouch, ouch, ouch, ooouuucchhh!!! What the hell man?"

   Nico only stares blankly at Leo. "I want to be alone," are what he says before slamming the door close. Leo let out a few colourful curses that would probably made Sally thinks thrice before accepting him as Percy's boyfriend.

   "Damn it Nico! I'm worried about you," Leo shouts in dissatisfaction before walking downstairs. He manages to hit the door once beforehand.

   Leo grumbles. This is possibly the worst day of his life. Never in his life he has grumbled this much. And he hates it. With Percy and Jason being very weird and Nico being utterly unhelpful, he feels like he is at his wits' end. Leo lets out a sigh.

   Well, he is not going to give up. Nope, he is Leo Valdez, Captain Extraordinaire. He can do anything and giving up is not one of them.

   With determined steps, he stalks into the kitchen. Grabbing a clear glass bowl, he feels it with water. Then he put the bowl on the kitchen counter. He grabs two candles from the bundle that Percy brings down earlier and put one at one side and there other at its opposite.

   Then, he realizes he forgets the Grimoire. Quickly, he walks back to foyer to fetch the book and walks right back into the kitchen. He flips open the book, skimming through pages until it reaches the page he desires.

   Leo snaps his fingers. The candles ignite. After that, he chants.

Spirits of the air, reside in this space,

I call for you, so you would trace,

The life of the person, I desire to see,

Show me his space, what his action would be.

   While chanting, Leo imagines Nico's features. It is not really that hard. Nico has a unique skin tone, that pales as time goes by, and even paler if expose to the sun. His eyes are dark, sharp as if it can pierce through anyone's body right onto their soul. His eyes also have a glint, like a mad man and a genius. His hair is black, even in far darker shade than Percy, one that looks terrifyingly soft, it makes Leo can barely restrain himself from touching and groping those hair.

   The water ripples. Colours begin to fill the bowl as they paint the shape of Nico's room. A various shade of colour after reveals a small frame of body curling on the bed. Leo watches as Nico's form comes into view.

   The latter seems to be shaking. The movements are exaggerated. Leo narrows his vision, truing to decipher what is going on. Only after a minute of observation, Leo can conclude something. 

   Nico, is crying. 

   The Italian is basically bawling his eyes out, with his hands cupping his face. His body shakes, in an unrestrained movement. Somehow, seeing the Italian in this kind of state breaks his heart. Leo knows that Nico is very strong. Although Percy and Jason can overpower him physically, mentally, Nico might just overwhelm them. Although he can't see it, Nico has this strength of will that seems to surpass others. And that makes Leo admires him.

   But seeing one of his favourite persons in the world breaks down so easily, it makes Leo's heart breaks too.

   "I have never peg you for someone who is interested in voyeurism," a voice suddenly whispers in his ear. Leo flinches, hard. So hard that he jolts from his position while yelling 'Fuuuuccckkkk!!"

   A ball of fire ignites on his palm instinctively. He jumps into a stance and swings his hand. He is going to throw the fireball when he finally recognizes the person who surprises him. He stops.

   "Damn you, asshat!" Leo growls as he takes in the appearance of the person. Shiny blond hair, sun-kissed body, surfer-like figure, brilliant blue eyes and a smug grin, revealing the rows of perfect, white teeth.

   "Now, now, Leo. What would mommy Sally says when she hears her future son-in-law curses someone else?" the blond dude mocks while wiggling his pointing finger.

   "Fuck you!" Leo hisses. The fire ball still crackles on his palm.

   "I would love to honey, but that would be cheating on your boyfriend," the man teases. Immediately, Leo tosses the ball of fire at the man. The ball however, hits empty space and blasts the floor. The fire explodes, leaving a smoke trail and a scorch mark.

   Leo glares at the man, who somehow changes his position to the kitchen doorway. He scowls at the man while resuming his original place behind the counter. Thankfully, the spell is not disrupted.

   "What are you doing here, Apollo?" Leo asks without even looking at the tall blond.

   He hears the man pulling a seat in front of the kitchen counter before making himself comfortable. Leo looks up to see Apollo grinning at him.

   "I am your Muse, Leo Valdez," Apollo drawls. "I come to my charges whenever I feel he or she is in distress and help them to sooth the problems," Leo can detect the slight purr when Apollo says the second part of his job but he ignores it. He does not have any time to deal with innuendo right now.

   "First, let me remind you that I have a boyfriend, who I might add one of the four most powerful witches on Earth and can easily destroys any monster, spirits or magical creatures he wants to." Leo hates resorting to threat. But he hates to deal with Apollo more. "Second, I am one of the most powerful witches on Earth and I can do whatever my boyfriend can. Third, if you have nothing better to do, why don't you get your unaMUSE-ing ass out of my kitchen and stay out of my ways," Leo states using a serious voice. Mentally, he groans about his sudden conversion to seriousness.

   Like seriously, he is Leo Valdez. Seriousness is never his forte. Now blowing up stuff and pissing people off along with Percy are his forte.

   Apollo, apparently, does not take the threat to mind. He is still smiling. But he changes his demeanour....., slightly.

   "Okay, Mr I-Am-A-Powerful-Witch, what can I do for you?"

   Leo rolls his eyes at Apollo's tone. But he answers anyways. "Everyone is acting weird today. Percy, Jason and even Nico. It's like there is something wrong with all of them. Nico, while his brooding self is not rare, he cries. It's not that I'm saying he doesn't cry at all. But today, he cries. Out of nowhere. The Nico I know and like gets snarky whenever he is upset, instead of crying. That is so unlike him," Leo states with worried tone.

   Apollo nods his head absentmindedly at Leo's statements. "I agree with you. My Cutie Cat never cries over something so easily. It's possible there's a spell in the air. There's a monster on the loose and that monster must've been responsible."

   "Have you tried scrying for the monster?"

   Leo shakes his head. "My mind is preoccupied by the three of them. I don't think a distracted scrying spell would work."

   "Yet, you manage to cast a scrying spell on Nico," Apollo raises his brows. Leo sighs. "I told you. My is preoccupied by them." He doesn't think he ever sighs these much.

   Apollo raises his brows. He stands up and walks towards the cabinet the witches use to store their potion ingredients. He rummages through the cabinet. Leo raises his brows. "What are you doing?"

   Apollo brings out two jars containing dried herbs from the cabinet. "Do you have any string or thread?"

   Still questioning his motives, Leo nevertheless complies with Apollo's question. He reaches for a basket on top of the fridge and brings out a roll of white thread. "Here," he hands the thread at Apollo who is flipping through the Grimoire. He lets out an 'Aha!' when he finds what he is looking for.

   "Are you going to answer my question?"

   "Patience is a virtue. Sheesh," Apollo pushes the Grimoire towards Leo. Leo looks at the open book.

Sensing Ritual

Combine Solomon's Seal with Snapdragon into a small bundle. Lights one end on fire and let the fire distinguishes slowly. Allows the bundle to smoke.

White smoke means the environment is normal.

Black smoke proves there is malevolent magic in the air.

Red smoke warns that there is danger ahead.

   "Sensing ritual?" Leo asks Apollo who has just finish tying the bundle. Apollo nods. "Light it on fire, will you?"

   Leo touches the end of the bundle with the tip of his index finger. Fire burns the end in a controlled manner.

   Apollo waits until the fire dies before waving the bundle in the air. Trails of smoke appear whenever Apollo waves the bundle around as Leo watches.

   "It's black," Leo notices. Apollo nods.

   The latter spreads the smoke around the kitchen, even blowing the smoke out of the window. "It seems like all of your states have their reasons. There's an enchantment in the air, even in the neighbourhood. Probably to amplify whatever the infected individual's feelings and states." Leo notices that the smoke is still present even if its out of the house. Well, that doesn't look good.

   "The monster is strong. It will probably need the four of you to vanquish it. I can cure you of the enchantment but the others might need a little more work."

   Leo tilts his head. Why? His question may be unspoken but Apollo can see it in his eyes.

   "You spend the whole day in the house. The enchantment does not affect you much. But the other three have been outside where the enchantment is strong," Apollo's words make sense. Leo feels like cursing himself. Why did he let them go out?

   "Hey!" Apollo snaps his finger in front of Leo's face. "Don't do that. You'll make the enchantment affect you even stronger," Apollo states.

   Leo, realizing Apollo's words are true, takes a deep breath. He hears Apollo praises him for controlling himself. "So what should I do?"

   Apollo snaps his finger. "Right now, you should focus on curing Nico. He's been under the enchantment the longest. I'll contact Zephyrus to search for Jason while I search for Percy. The two only've been out for an hour or two so maybe I can work on something with Zephyrus while you help Nico," Apollo plans. Leo nods, agreeing to the plan.

   "But isn't Nico too far deep now? The enchantment affects him the most," Leo asks.

   And that's when Apollo grins. "Have you ever heard of the Lamenting Whale?"

*****

   Leo hums happily as he controls the steering wheel. The car moves smoothly on the road as it passes the trees and bushes that grow along the path. On the passenger seat, Nico is grumbling. His knees are brought to his chest and his left arm encircle the legs. He uses his right hand as a place to rest his chin while looking out of the window.

   Leo ignores the grumbling. At least Nico is not crying anymore.Though he is still emotional and is still brooding. His eyes are puffy from the crying. It takes a lot of work alone to get Nico to open his bedroom, which he covers with charms and enchantments. Luckily, he and Apollo manage to summon Zephyrus. Apparently, the venti and anemoi tuellas are also affected by the enchantment since they are the air itself.

   So, Zephyrus and his brothers have to control the spirits as they are becoming more chaotic. It takes a while before he manages to go to La Casa.

   Thankfully, he is able to calm Nico down a little using the power of air. Even that takes a while, since Zephyrus refuses to work with Apollo around.

   With Zephyrus's help, getting Nico into the car is a piece of cake. "Can you stop grumbling?" Leo asks. 

   "No," Nico growls childishly. Leo snorts. While he admits Nico is cute when he becomes his brooding self, this is getting annoying.

   "Why do we have to go this far? Where are we going anyways?"

   "To the beach."

   "Honey, I think you've mistaken me for your boyfriend. In case you forget, I am a necromancer. I don't do beach." Leo would probably have fluttering butterflies in his stomach when Nico calls him honey if it isn't for Nico's sarcastic tone.

   "I realise that my little sweet necromancer. Unfortunately, this is the quickest way to heal your poor unfortunate self from that enchantment," Leo replies with sarcasm of his own.

   Leo hears Nico grumbles about 'stupid latino', 'bloody ass monster', 'damn beach' and such other things that are joined with colourful adjectives.

   "How is it going to the sea curing me? As you so lovely put it, I am your little sweet necromancer. I regenerate better in the land steeps with death," again, Leo's heart would have fluttered if it isn't for the dripping sarcasm.

   Leo remembers his conversation with Apollo and Zephyrus.

"   So this Lamenting Whale could help Nico?" Leo asks sceptically. Even if Apollo repeatedly tells him, it's the best way, he is still not convinced.

   Nico is a necromancer, a witch whose powers come from the Underworld. Isn't it better to send Nico to a graveyard or a mortuary or a hsopital or something? Those places are where the dead mostly reside before passing on right? Nico can channel their energy to heal himself.

   Zephyrus, the winged dude, seems to know what he is thinking. "No can do, Leo Valdez. Right now, the dead is the source of Nico's grief. It would be unwise to send him to the very source of it," okay, that makes sense. Right now, Nico's dead mother is the factor.

   "So a whale is your answer."

   Apollo appears to be scandalised. "That whale is not an ordinary whale. It's...," Leo waves him off before Apollo can rant again about this Lamenting Whale.

   "I hate to admit but Apollo...has a point," it is very obvious that Zephyrus refuses to admit that Apollo is right, thus the phrasing. Leo agrees though. Apollo would be more insufferable if his so-called archenemy agrees with him.

   Apollo looks like he wants to boast but Zephyrus quickly continues. "If anyone has the powers to remove grief, it's this whale. Plus it can be useful to you too Leo," Zephyrus explains.

   Leo sighs softly. Let's hope it works, he wishes. Leo takes a turn at the corner before arriving at the parking lot of the beach. He parks the car. Nico, although grumbling, lowers his legs to get a clear view of the beach through the glass.

   The beach, for the lack of better word,...is sparkling. The water glitters under the evening sun, reflecting the red, yellow and orange hues of the sun. It's everything Leo thinks it would be. Except for one thing.

   The beach has people on it. 

   He frowns and groans. Isn't it supposed to be weekdays? He never thought that the beach would be a hotspot for people in spring.

   Leo notices that Nico is looking weirdly at him. "What's wrong?"

   Leo makes a face at Nico. "There's people. On the beach," he deadpans, while gesturing to the crowd. Nico rolls his eyes. "So?"

   "So? So, Nico?"

   "Yes, so."

   "So, if there's people on the beach, how am I suppose to cure you?" Leo shouts, although not too loud. Leo knows Nico would get a little defensive, sarcastic and annoying when he is upset. So he tries not to mind.

   "Do we really need to be on the beach to heal me?" asks Nico, who sounds a bit annoyed. Leo shakes his head. "Just somewhere near the sea. Why?"

   "Get out of the car," Nico orders as he opens the passenger's seat's door. Leo raises his brows but doesn't question much. He grabs the guitar bag he brings and a small jar places in a small pouch. Inside the jar is the sensing bundle, not yet burned.

   Leo steps outside of the car, his hands distractedly move to uncapped the jar. Leo has just lighted up the bundles when Nico appears beside him without making a sound. Without warning, he grabs Leo's hand and pulling him down to crouch in the car's shadow. Leo barely registers what is happening when the shadow around them darkens before engulfing them.

   Shadow travel. Leo's mind registers as he moves along a very dark space. His face feels like tearing and the creepy wails in the nether does not help either. Leo would be completely terrifed to death. But luckily, the feeling of smooth, cold hands around his wrist calm him a bit.

   He can't really comprehend what he feels about the whole 'shadow travelling' thingy when the both of them stumbles out of the shadow. Well, only Leo stumbles but there's no way he is going to admit that.

   Leo, looks around as he feels his mind slowly coming back in pieces. Everything looks doubled. "Wh-where are we?" Leo asks groggily. He suddenly feels someone pulls him up to stand.

   "A cliff near the beach," Nico says.

   Oh, a cliff. Wait...

   "A cliff?!" Leo practically yells.

   Nico who looks more upset without Leo knowing why just sighs. "Yes. A cliff. You said you want some place near the sea. And this is the nearest place to the beach without people."

   Oh. Right. Good thinking.

   "So, how is this healing process going to take place?"

   Leo lowers his bag, pulling the zip open before pulling out a guitar. "A guitar. Near the sea. At sunset," Nico deadpans. Leo nods slowly, a bit confused at Nico's reaction.

   "You know, I really think you are mistaking me for your boyfriend," Nico sounds upset at that.

   Leo quickly explains. "What? No. This really is the way to cure you."

   "How?"

   "Have you ever heard about the Lamenting Whale?" Leo asks. Nico shakes his head. "No. Never heard of it."

   "Well, have you ever heard of the World Loneliest Whale?"

   Nico seems to pause for a second before nodding slowly. "It's the 52-hertz Whale. Apparently, the whale lets out a sound different from other whales." Nico pauses again. His forehead creases. "Wait, are you trying to tell me that the 52-Hertz Whale is the what, uh the Lamenting Whale?"

   Leo grins."Yep, and it's the way to cure you."

   "How is that even possible?"

   "Well, several centuries ago, there's a riot in the Underworld." Nico complains about the sudden history lesson from 'a suddenly uncertified historian with pyromaniac tendency' but Leo shushes him.

   "A group of daimones worked together to bring misery into the world. They, somehow managed to channel their powers to form a portal from the Underworld to the mortal world. Using this portal, they leaked the water from the River Cocytus into the seas of mortal world."

   "The world fell into a great period of grief and depression. Apparently, the divine spirits, which somehow took years, fell pity to the humans and sent their help to rid the world of grief. A skilled witch at that time, was able to repair the broken veil and thus stopping the leakage of Cocytus."

   "To rid of the leaked water of Cocytus, the spirits called upon an animal so large to help them. The animal, which now you know is a whale, was tasked to filter the Cocytus's water from the seas. As a result, the river water was rid. But the grief period does not end."

   "To make matters even worse, the whale tasked to filter the waters also fell into a depression. It was ignored by the spirits after it had completed his task. It felt useless because while it was able to clean the waters of the world, it was unable to help the humans. Due to that, a group of Muse felt pity on the human and the whale. To heal the grief, the Muses raised the whale to their level. The bubbling grief from the river water inside the whale was turned into a healing powers, a song of sort. In every season, the whale will emerged to the surface and offers his song to those with grief. The song is a form of lament, thus the name, Lamenting Whale. It heals them from the grief."

   Leo notices Nico becomes very quiet. "Are you okay?"

   Nico closes his eyes. "I don't want to forget her," Nico says softly, almost inaudible. But Leo can still hear it. The latter feels his heart softens.

   Leo stands beside Nico, with hia guitar slings to his back and the jar in one hand, he leads Nico towards the edge of the cliff. They carefully sit down while hearing the sound of waves crashing beneath them.

   "Hey Neeks." Leo begins. "No one ask you to forget about her." Of course, Nico's grief is his mother. The mother he saw dying in front of his eyes. The mother who died.... saving him.

   "I only ask you to let go. Your mother's death is the past. It is fated the moment she was born into this world." Okay, that maybe not the best way to phrase it.

   Nico suddenly turns to him with blazing, teary eyes. "How can I let go? Her death is my fault. If only I wasn't there with Bianca, she would've live!"

   Leo can feel the vibrations of the earth around him. His eyes can't see it but he can hear the sound of crack forming. But he can't show fear. How is he supposed to heal Nico if he showed fear?

   "Nico. Blaming yourself for something that is out of your control is not good. I've been there once. My mom died because of me. In fire. I could still hear her screams for me to get away from thea house when it burns. I have a hard time accepting that. But, then I realize it is useless."

   "No death is too early or too late. It is just exactly as it is. Even if I grief till I hurt myself, I can't bring her back. Even after I learn I have magic, I still can't bring back the dead. No magic, can bring back the dead," says Leo.

   "You just have to accept it. It is in the nature of a mother to protect her children. Even at her own expense."

   Nico has started to sob quietly."I-i don't w-want to forget her," he says in hiccups. The shaking stops.

   "I am not asking you too. I just want you to stop blaming yourself. A mother would've proudly given her life just to see her child lives a happy life. I think you should at least give your mother what she deserves. Your own happiness," Leo smiles slightly. His hand slowly snakes behind Nico before pulling the Italian into a half-hug.

   Nico buries himself into Leo's shoulder and cries softly. The both of them stay in that position for a while. Leo lets himself relaxes as he watches the sun lowers to the horizon. Nico cries, and cries, and cries.

   It is not only until the bottom of the sun touches the sea, he stops crying. He rises his face from Leo's shoulder and wipes his eyes using the sleeve of his jacket. "So how do we do this?" says him in a hoarse voice. Is it weird that Leo finds it sexy?

   Leo grins. He pulls the guitar in front of him. "With this." Nico looks at him. "With a guitar?"

   "And a song," Leo sing-songs."A song?" Nico asks again. "Yep. To heal you, we need to sing a song related to your grief. After the whale is called of course. The song needs to be mix with the whale's lament," says Leo.

   Nico snorts. "I'm sorry. Did you just say we? I can't sing. And as far as I'm concern, neither can you Valdez."

   "Such enthusiasm for a helping friend. I am moved to tears. For your information, Angel, I have learn how to sing with the help of an expert," Leo boasts. Leo is glad Nico's mood improves a little. 

   "From who? Will?"

   It's Leo's turn to snort. "That guy can't even sing to save himself. No, I'm talking about his father and our guardian, dear Apollo."

   "Don't let him catch you saying that," says Nico. Leo promises that he won't.

   "So, when do we start?"

   Leo grins again. He rummages through his pocket before bringing out two items. A sand dollar and a drachma. Nico raises his brows. Leo does not answer him. Instead, he casts.

O great lamenting creature of the sea,

We humble ourselves in your presence,

Accept these measley gifts with heart of glee,

Help us rid this grief from its very essence.

   Leo lets go of the sand dollar and drachma, letting them fall right into the sea beneath them. "So what do we do now?"

   "Now we sing."

   Nico frowns. "What are supposed to sing? A sing from the Little Mermaid?"

   "Okay, stop with the sarcasm," Leo brings out a rumpled paper from his back pocket. He hands it to Nico, who unfolds the paper. Leo can see Nico's eyes reading the lyrics word by word.

   "This isn't a shore," are Nico's words after reading the lyrics. "I know it isn't. We can't really risk exposure now do we? Plus you're the one who brings us here."

   "I didn't know!" Nico exclaims.

   Leo laughs. "I know you don't." He pauses before continuing. "So do you remember the humming in the car?"

   "If you're talking about the one which you hums so annoyingly, then it's a yes."

   "Just sing the lyrics according to the tone, and we'll be on our merry way," Leo adds.

   Without waiting for another word, Leo plays the guitar into a melodic tone. He started to sing. 

   But only for a few lines when he notices that Nico is still frowning at him. "Why aren't you singing?"

   "How do we even know that this will work? From what I assume about the whale, it only appears once a season. How do we even know that this whale hasn't been summoned in this season?"

   Leo huffs. "We don't. But it's our best bet. Apollo says not to worry, because the whale, despite in lament, is a very kind creature. As long as you express your grief, it will come to help," Leo states.

   Nico does not say anything. Leo, not willing to give up, grabs Nico's hand into his own. "Hey, it'll be fine. It will work. Even if it doesn't work, I'm here don't I?"

   That made Nico snorts but cannot help as a small smile graces his lips. Leo smiles as he sees the former's mood lighten.

   Taking that as his cue, Leo begins to play the guitar. He opens his mouth and begins to sing.

Walking my childhood shore,

I miss you so,

Mama, my music's yours

He takes a short breath.

I cry 'till the water's blue

Where whale's still sing

Remember when we sang it too

   Suddenly, they both hears a sound from the middle of the sea. The sound is low, but very clear. Nico looks at Leo with wide eyes. Leo mentally chuckles at Nico's reaction but he continues to sing. He closes his eyes, appreciating every words that come out form his mouth.

I close my eyes and you

Return to me

Return to me

On waves of ocean melody

No magic can make you reappear

But in the song of the whale

You are always here

   Then, Leo's voice and guitar's tunes are joined with a song, lament of sort, forming a heartfelt melodic tune. Nico can feel the sound of the whale touching his crying heart. He, unconsciously smiles even wider as he look to the middle of the sea. Leo raises his tone a little.

Mama you'd be so proud

The way I shine

Wish that you could see me now

   The memory of little Leo with his mother floats in his mind, along with her spirit, mirth and voice. How he wishes he could here it again....

O great creature of the sea

Please hold her voice

For all of eternity

And like a siren's lullaby

I know you always will

   This time, Nico joins Leo.

Return to me

Return to me

   Leo looks at Nico, dumbfounded. It seems like he's clearly not expecting Nico to sing along together.

On waves of ocean melody

No magic can make you reappear

But in the song of the whale

You are always here

   They both sing in synchronise with the whale's song. Leo can feel his heart bursting with glee, seeing Nico smiles. Nico smiles, slowly feeling his grief veing washes away. His heart burst into euphoria. He loves the feeling he has now. The feeling of Leo and him speaks in two different voice, but with one perfect harmony. The harmony soothes them from the pain of losinv their mother. The agony dissolves into nothingness, as the feeling of happiness emerges from the two of them. As if there are only two of them in this world, the sound of the whale serves as background tune that symbolises their life.

No magic can make you reappear

But in the song of the whale

You are always here

But in the song of the whale

You are always here

Always...

   Their end of sing is joined with another tune of the whale's song before it silences. Near the horizon, Nico and Leo sees a massive tail lifts from the water before divung back in. Huge ripples are formed from the diving of a very magnificent sea creature. The ripples reflect the hues of orange, red and yellow of the setting sun, forming a very astonishing phenomenon.

   "Never thought you have it in you," Nico opens his mouth, joking lightly.

   "Me? What about you, Mr-I-Can't-Sing?" Leo mock-teases the dark eyed male. They both stares at each other for a second, before bursting out into gleeful laughters. The both of them releases their newfound happiness to their heart's content.

   It isn't until the area becomes a little darker that they have stopped laughing. Leo wipes the tears brimming in his eyes before turning to lool at Nico. Apparently, the Italian has been looking at him.

   "Thank you Leo," Nico says in a soft, small voice. To Leo's surprise, the black-haired guy engulfs him in a warm hug. Leo's heart flutters. Nico is warm, despite having cold hands. Unconsciously, he wraps his arms around Nico, enjoying the moment they share.

   Fortunately both of them quickly catch up to what they are doing and release each other quickly. Leo's face reddens as he coughs awkwardly. Nico's face also turns into a bright shade of red. He tugs the collar of his shirt awkwardly, as if letting the heat escape.

   Neither of them want to talk first. It is until Nico fake-coughs before opening his mouth. "I-uh, I-i-i-I'm.... uhhhh... thank you... Leo," Nico says awkwardly.

   Leo waves the Italian off. "It-it's uh fine." He quickly stabds up. "We should get going," Nico immediately agrees. He quickly stands up. Leo fetches his guitar bag, putting the guitar back into it.

   "Uhhh, Leo?"

   Leo turns to face Nico. The man is frowning again, although for a much different reason. "Is that bundle supposed to gives out red smoke?"

*****