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Grey Zone

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Neil was used to confined places.

Growing up he was accustomed to being uncomfortable and making others feel that way. It wasn’t until his thirteenth birthday when he’d discovered why. He had a hunch, so did his mother, but Neil figured she never wanted to believe it was the truth. He had felt the same.

As soon as the ice had dissolved around Neil and their rapid breaths had ceased, Mary had taken him from the wayward and corrupt Demigod camp and fled.

They had been on the run for years, Mary somehow able to hide his scent from any prying noses as they hitchhiked across the country – as far from New York as humanly, or perhaps Godly, possible.

It wasn’t until his fifteenth when they were caught off guard in Iowa, and Mary had been killed by a Fury sent by his father, that he had grown comfortable with the idea of being alone and being marked as poison to those around him.

Neil was used to pain.

He tried to forget the scars that marked his body, but it had proved difficult as he had gotten older. On the run with his mother, he had only gained more. His pale expanse of skin was thoroughly coated with marks, some minor and others vicious, and no matter how hard he tried Neil couldn’t ignore them.  

Memories of his fractured past haunted Neil as he huddled under the thin blanket, a good hundred metres or so away from the others from his position under the park bench.  He had been hauled up in the site for a month or so, the group of homeless men kindly accepting him as the older teen posed no immediate threat.

Neil snorted humourlessly. If only they knew, he thought bitterly, if only they knew of the fear, the deceased and rotting bodies he could control, the shadows and the frost.

Neil quickly drew back his anger and calmed down; knowing full well what would happen if he lost control. His last incident had been four months ago. He only remembered fragments, but Neil couldn’t forget the smell of the decomposing bodies crawling from the earth and surrounding as he allowed the power to take over.  

He hadn’t meant it, he never meant it, but Neil hadn’t been able to truly discover the extent of his abilities and how to control them for numerous reasons. Neil shook his head ruefully, not wanting to think of those horrible few years of his life at the moment.

“Hey kid!”

Neil looked up and saw a figure approaching him, his body tensing for a fight out of sheer habit before almost as instantly relaxing as he made out a relatively familiar face in the darkness.

“You alright under there?” Hernandez asked, peering down at Neil’s cramped form. “You know we have more mattresses yeah? Lying under that bench all night could not be good for your back.”

Neil shook his head. “I’m fine.”

“Aren’t you cold? It’s nearing winter-“

“Trust me; I’m used to it.”

Hernandez frowned, eyeing Neil slightly before retreating back to the group huddled by the makeshift fire.

Neil didn’t know what it was, but the man unnerved him. He wasn’t exactly dangerous. If he was affiliated with his father he wouldn’t have taken this long to strike and either kill him or deliver him to the Underworld, but there was something about him that irked Neil.

Sighing, Neil huddled closer to the warmth of the blanket and closed his eyes, forgetting about his parents, his abilities, what was after him. All of it.


 

Neil watched Hernandez like a hawk for the next week.

Ever since their brief conversation that night, he had been hovering strangely around Neil wherever he went. Come to think of it, Hernandez had been doing it ever since he’d joined the group, but Neil had been blind to his advances until now.

Foolish boy, his mother would’ve hissed, never gain anybody’s attention. You know what could happen to them. Neil winced inwardly. He was the weapon; the uncontrollable force dangerous people, dangerous things, desired. He was nothing but an object people used to their own selfish advantages, his past proved that.

Those days are over, Neil reminded himself, as long as you keep moving you’ll be fine.

You’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.

Neil’s thoughts were interrupted by a bearded man shouting, his grin nearing hysterical as he held up a dead and bleeding rat. “Look what we caught for dinner!”

Neil wanted to vomit.

Hernandez scowled and threw the rat away from the manic man. “You fucking idiot. Do you know how many diseases that could carry?”

Neil’s attention flew back to him.

He couldn’t help but notice the limp as the older man wandered away, Neil’s piercing blue eyes curious as he watched intently. Neil stared, eyes clearing in realisation. He’d seen a limp like that before, it was too familiar to go unnoticed.

He felt a familiar chill ripple down his spine. No, no, no, no, no.

Neil grabbed his bag and stood, alarm bells ringing as he knew he needed to flee as soon as possible. He felt eyes on him as he moved quickly through the site, accidentally kicking over bottles and stepping on bodies as he frantically put distance between himself and Hernandez.

If his predictions were right, Hernandez was a member of the camp from where he was raised, and was most likely going to report back to the Moriyamas his location.

Neil couldn’t let that happen, he hadn’t been on the run for this long to let this happen. Not like this.

He could hear someone following him as he ran, Neil not daring to turn around as he sprinted through the deserted park. It was nearing nightfall, Neil silently praying that no one would be around this time of night to witness what was possibly going to happen.

It had happened before in Michigan, his powers letting lose in front of a small group of teenagers. His mother had never let him forget it. Neil could still feel the blows to his chest if he thought hard enough. 

Neil was approaching the forest adjacent to the park when something hit him hard on his side, the wind knocked from his lungs as he rolled down a slight hill and collapsed on the ground with a grunt.

Neil’s reflexes overtook him as someone – Hernandez – held him down, letting out a fierce cry and he struggled in his grip. The older man was speaking, but Neil couldn’t hear anything but the rushing of blood in his ears as his breath heaved.

He could overpower him easily, he knew that, Neil’s body screaming at him to hurt Hernandez and enjoy it.  He felt that side of him emerging as he struggled, the familiar burn in his stomach awakening as his muscles ached to succumb to his abilities.

“Hey! I’m not going to hurt you,” Neil heard Hernandez bark in frustration. “I’ve been enlisted to look over you until we could deliver you to the camp.”

Neil was eventually able to push Hernandez off of him, his true form and identity now in plain sight. He was a Satyr. How he was able to hide it, Neil had no idea.

“Calm down, please-“

“How did you find me?” Neil asked frantically, eyes wild as he fought to control his own body. Mary would be furious.

“It’s not important. Okay? Your father-“

Neil snapped.

It was like flicking on a switch. 

He felt the biting cold wash over him as his vision hazed with fury, his teeth clenching as his body generated a wave of intense cold. “My father?” His voice was as icy as the literal ice forming below him. Neil’s arms were coiled with frost as he held them up, eyes furious as he stared down Hernandez. “Get the fuck away from me.”

Hernandez stopped instantly and threw up his hands, dark eyes flooded with fear as he watched Neil. Neil knew he radiated the feeling, but seeing genuine terror in Hernandez’s eyes only fuelled his rage further. “Nathaniel-“

Neil snarled, the temperature dropping further as the ground below them grew entirely white with frost. He wanted to stop, he needed to stop, but it was consuming him.   

Hernandez’s breath clouded in front of him as he waited for Neil to calm down, his hooves slipping slightly as he shuddered with dread.

“Never call me that again,” Neil barely recognised his own voice. “I’ll cut out your tongue if you even dare whisper it.” He sounded like his father.

The thought ripped Neil out of his trance instantaneously.

The frost on Neil’s arms and beneath the pair cleared, Hernandez gaining his footing as he hesitantly eyed off Neil. “You still can’t control it?” He asked, voice laced with wonder.

Neil’s head shot up with a glare from where he was panting, hunched over and shaking as he came back to himself. “You think that was a sign … of control?”

“Your body seemed to know what it was doing.”

Neil rolled his eyes and stood up straight, ignoring the power inside him still itching to escape as he calmed down. That was nothing and you know it. You got off lucky. “The mind and body are two very different things, chèvre.”

Hernandez flinched at the name. “So you remember me?”

“I remember bits,” Neil shrugged. “You weren’t really that significant.”

From memory Hernandez was just a merchant that sold objects in the Moriyama camp, hesitant eyes only for Neil when he was around. That’s probably how he kept an eye on me, Neil wondered, but why?

Hernandez, seeming to read his expression, explained.

“No one knew who your father was. There were rumours around Olympus, none of them exactly took them seriously but rumours are a deadly thing in the wrong hands. I was sent to keep an eye on you when you were with the wayward camp, to try and gauge your abilities and determine whether or not you were actually his son." Neil’s eyes twitched at the mentions of his father, Hernandez didn’t pretend not to notice. “On your thirteenth birthday we expected to figure it out after your claiming, but you vanished. It’s been hell searching for you for all these years, but yet here you are.”

Neil stayed silent for a moment, not wanting to know where the Satyr was heading with the story but the curiosity was killing him. “So why are you here?”

Hernandez rubbed the back of his neck nervously, Neil’s eyes narrowing at the movement. “David Wymack – one of Olympus’s most trusted men – he told me to bring you to him as soon as I found you…” He trailed off, Neil not needing to hear the rest of his sentence before turning and walking away.

To lock you up, to poke and prod at you, to deliver you to him for the abomination you are.

“It was easy for me to track you, how do you think your father’s mercenaries and monsters will cope?” Hernandez called, hoping to regain his attention.

Neil froze, counting to ten before turning and facing Hernandez again. “I’ve managed this long without any help, I’ll be fine.”

Hernandez stepped forward, hesitant to not anger Neil again. Neil huffed; maybe he wasn’t as stupid as he looked.

“Wymack is only planning to help you further control and advance your abilities. I doubt your mother was ever able to help you, and the Moriyamas sure didn’t get their hands on you enough to fully teach you. He realizes your power, and he most certainly realizes how dangerous you can be," Hernandez sighed. "He’s one of the best mentors with the largest success rate. This could benefit you Neil, greatly.”

“Do I really have a choice?”

“Honestly? As of now it’s either this or death.”

Interesting. “Where exactly is he?”  

Hernandez’s eyes sparked with something as he handed Neil a small orange card. Black, cursive writing covered the surface as well as a small logo of a Pegasus. 

Neil’s frown deepened as he stared at the card he was holding.

Camp Half-Blood, Half-Blood Hill, Farm Road 3.141

Long Island, New York 11954

 

 “You’re telling me this is my only chance at survival?”

“The only one you’ve got left kid.”

Chapter Text

It took two days to reach Long Island.

Neil by now was used to public transport. He was used to looking over his shoulder for any prying unfavourable eyes, and was used to sinking into his chair and blending in with the crowd around him. Neil was not used to feeling exposed, but the feeling plagued him through his journey to New York.

His identity was known, albeit only by a small amount of people, but it was enough to spike Neil’s nerves and leave him constantly on edge. After he had abandoned Hernandez, his mind had raced with numerous unanswered questions. Did they know of his power’s full capacity? Once they found out what exactly would they do? Was this just a cruel trick by his father? Neil shivered at the thought.

He knew of Camp Half-Blood’s existence, but who was to say his father’s people wouldn’t be there waiting to pounce? Who was to say Hernandez wasn’t lying, and Neil was heading for his demise? He was littered with unease as he neared Montauk, doing his best to calm down enough to not make any of the citizens on the bus nervous.

Neil radiated fear, just as his father did, and it really did Neil no favours.

After getting off at the final stop, Neil pulled the orange card from his pocket and looked at the address. Farm Road? Was he anywhere near Farm Road?

Neil spun around on the heels of his feet, seeing nothing but farm houses, dirt tracks and a large expanse of greenery surrounding him. Neil looked at the forest before him, shrugged, and walked forward. He had only taken a few steps before he felt eyes on him.

“I was wondering when you’d arrive.”

Neil spun to see a man – no, Centaur – standing behind him. The horse half of him was well, horse like, Neil didn’t know what else he had expected. His human half although was all muscle, tribal tattoos coiling around dark skin and his brown eyes unreadable as he stared intently at Neil. David Wymack.

“I was outside of St. Louis. It’s not exactly walking distance to the middle of fuck all.”

Neil stepped forward while Wymack stepped back. Neil’s eyebrows rose at the movement.

“Afraid of your own students?”

Wymack huffed. “You’re not my student, not yet, and frankly it’s not you I’m worried about…” He trailed off; the ‘It’s what you can do’ uncomfortably hanging around in the air between them.

Neil grew irritated at the silence, the wind picking up around them as he waited for the man to speak.

“Are you doing that?”

Neil looked up from the ground and scowled. “The wind? You know the weather is a funny concept, ever heard of it?” Neil had tried to hold his tongue, as he knew his sour comments often got his ass into more trouble than he accounted for, but he found it difficult when he was as stressed as he was.

Wymack rubbed at his eyes and looked to the sky; looking as if he was praying to the God’s. As if they’d listen. “You better not be another fucking Andrew,” He heard him mutter, before motioning to the tree line for Neil to follow. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”

Neil followed.


 

Wymack was able to lead Neil safely through the woodland, the pair making it to a clearing without any interruptions. It wasn’t as if Neil had expected anything bad to happen, but Neil had expected something bad to happen.  Luck didn’t exactly run through his veins, unfortunately Hell did instead.  

Neil looked up from his feet and saw a large entrance with Camp Half-Blood etched into the wood, glancing and noticing movement behind a thick sort of haze that eventually cleared before him.

“It’s hidden by mist, keeps mortals away-“

“I know what it is.”

Wymack nodded before walking through the threshold, Neil unable to focus on anything else besides their height difference as he moved. Neil was short, awfully short, and Wymack was well over six feet so they made for an odd pairing that no doubt would draw attention.

Noticing this, Wymack hurriedly led Neil to the edge of the camp, Neil unable to really take in anything before he was ushered to the proclaimed Big House. “Abby?” Wymack called, leading Neil to a room in the back of the building before leaving to find whoever Abby was.

The office was relatively spacious, the majority of the space taken up by an exceptionally large wooden desk by the end of the room and numerous filing cabinets. The walls were covered in varying memorabilia and portraits, minor personal objects here and there filling up the rest of the room. It felt almost homely, the thought itself making Neil want to gag.

Neil heard hooves and another pair of lighter feet before the door reopened, Wymack and a younger brunette woman walking through to greet Neil. Wymack then pulled out a chair in front of the desk, pointed and said, “Sit” before moving around behind the massive desk.

Neil took a moment to settle before he set his weary eyes back on Wymack, shoulders tense as he waited for his future to be mapped out for him. Neil was accustomed to an uncertain future, so the possibility of structure was daunting in its proposed simplicity.

“I’m sure Hernandez told you a bit about what we have planned,” Wymack started, Neil unable to find his voice and instead nodding. “Good. For now, all we’re aiming to do is control your abilities and help you use them for good.”

Neil’s eyes narrowed. “For good? What do you think I’ve been doing?”

Wymack shrugged. “I don’t mean to be rude kid, but you’re Hades’ son. Plus we haven’t exactly been able to track you for years, and Hernandez told me you exhibited some of your power in St. Louis...” He trailed off, catching Neil’s attention.

“What else did he say?

“He said he hasn’t been able to sleep since.”

Neil hummed and tapped the desk nonchalantly. “Will I be alone?”

Abby – who had been silent as she stood by the window – turned and frowned at him. “Alone?”

“As Wymack said, I’m Hades son. So tell me why the hell would you want me anywhere near the others, let alone risk me being near anybody else for that matter? I’m toxic.”

“We can’t exactly lock you up and leave you alone to learn and practice, it’s unethical,” Wymack said firmly, gesturing haphazardly with his hands at Neil’s protest. “You’ll be safely integrated with the other students, the decision is final.”

Neil was baffled, they knew he was dangerous, but yet they were willing to let him near the other Demigods? He was still only controlling his abilities; he knew he had most likely only touched the surface of what he could do. Neil was at times terrified of himself – the teenagers here had no nope.

“You’re insane.”

“You’re the Lord of the Underworld’s son.”

Touché.

“Speaking of, maybe don’t exactly tell anyone about your situation. Lie and say you’re, I don’t know, one of the other God’s kids. You’ve got plenty to choose from,” Wymack grimaced. “Just for now. We’ll maybe wait until you get a bit more comfortable before crossing that bridge.”

Neil’s eyes widened at the thought of the other camp members finding out. He knew it was inevitable so he didn’t exactly fear their emotional reactions – it was more of what exactly they would do physically.

His mind wandered back to his youth in the wayward camp – Evermore – where both the children and adults poked and prodded, ogling him to determine who he belonged to.

He and Kevin had just been property to those bastards; he just hoped the people here would be better. They had to be better.

Neil sighed before nodding, knowing he couldn’t win this argument.

“Now, we don’t want to make you uncomfortable Neil, but what exactly are you able to do?” Abby then said softly, now next to Wymack as they stared intently at Neil.

Neil tilted his head. “Is this common procedure?”

“Usually we’re able to gauge someone’s abilities based on past students with the same Godly affiliation, your case although is decidedly unique.” Abby corrected.

Neil stayed silent before letting a reticent smirk work itself onto his lips. “You really want to know?”

“Neil-“

Neil ignored Wymack and focused, closing his eyes as he slowed his breathing. Over the past couple of weeks he had discovered a new talent, one that ensured his protection and cover wherever he found himself.  He struggled to control it, but it wasn’t too overly dangerous that it would harm the two adults before him.

Hopefully.

Neil’s contacts burned from his eyes as he reopened them, feeling the shadows in the room move towards him as his icy blue eyes shone slightly in the now nearing darkness.

He titled his head back as the room around them darkened, the shadows moving over Neil’s skin and swirling around him as he slowly found it easier to breathe.

The temperature in the room quickly dropped, Neil hearing a soft gasp as his mere presence sucked the heat from the room.

Neil couldn’t help but laugh darkly as the entire room engulfed in black, his abilities clouding his thoughts and altering his mind as he knew his grin echoed that of his father’s.

He thought of the shadows seeping into his skin, becoming a part of him before he snapped out his trance, the room around them brightening rapidly as every trace of Neil’s power vanished as quickly as it had arisen.

“Fuck.” Wymack whispered, staring at Neil with wide disbelieving eyes.

“That was nothing,” Neil said coolly. “Still want me with the other camp members?”

Abby peered out from behind Wymack’s tall frame and nodded, Neil rolling his eyes before leaning on his chair, his body still thrumming with unused power as he calmed himself down further. “Anything else?”

Wymack took a few extra moments to collect himself before saying, “No, no. I’ll have one of the older members of camp lead you around, wait here.”

Abby followed him out without looking back at Neil, Neil relatively unaffected as he was used to the weary looks. He sat there for a few moments before standing and walking to the door, making his way to the entrance and gazing out at the various cabins before him.

He noticed Wymack talking to a young man not much older than Neil, his attention now decisively on the pair. Neil noticed the boy’s unruly dark hair and skin as he moved from Wymack towards the Big House, his wide smile making Neil uneasy as he had grown overly accustomed to sneers and frowns.

“I’m Nicky, you must be Neil,” Nicky beamed down at Neil who shifted on his feet slightly; decidedly wary of the Demigod as no one had ever been willingly kind to him. Neil hastily nodded in confirmation, earning a large grin in return. “The cabins are this way.”

The pair walked in silence for a moment, Neil relishing in the slight peace before Nicky asked the question he’d been waiting for. “Wymack never did specify, but who exactly is your parental Godly figure?”

Hades.

“Hermes.” Neil lied.

Nicky snapped his fingers suddenly, laughing as he led Neil through the grounds. “Matt now has another half baby brother. I was kinda worried you were going to be like, you know, Poseidon’s son or some shit. Those eyes man…” He trailed off, looking down at Neil in admiration before turning his attention away.  “But then if you were his son you’d be stuck with Kevin and honestly, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. Not even Seth.”

Neil stopped walking.

“Kevin?”

Nicky frowned.

“Yeah, Kevin Day. Son of Poseidon, one of big three, holiest fucking jawline I’ve ever seen. Everyone knows that.”

Neil did know that. What Neil did not know was that Kevin Day was not only in the same time zone as him, but in the same fucking camp.

The bridge burned.

Chapter Text

The camp layout was interesting to say the least.

There were more cabins than Neil had initially perceived, twenty of them all situated in a large square – no, it was more of an Omega shape – each of them representing the majority of each of the Gods and Goddesses.

Nicky rambled as he did the small tour, pointing to Dining Pavilion, the Climbing Wall and explaining other bits and pieces Neil didn’t really care about.

His mind was still frantic with the thought of Kevin being there at the camp with him. He would recognise him instantly, Neil knew this, the last of his contacts were gone and his hair was slowly going back from brown to auburn. His eyes wouldn’t only be the factor; the abilities he had to conceal were another.

Two children of the big three in one camp was not going to end well.

Neil eyed the Hades cabin adjacent to them as Nicky stopped in front of him. “This is your cabin,” Nicky gestured to the timeworn, semi run down building. “Son of Hermes.”

Neil tapped his fingers on the wood, watching as the dried out paint crumbled in his fingers. “How old is this thing?”

Nicky shrugged. “Too old. It’s home to any unclaimed campers and of course your siblings - half siblings,” Nicky corrected himself, “It’s the most used cabin so it’s clearly taking its toll on the poor thing.”

Neil followed Nicky up the steps as the older boy knocked, waiting a moment before a small kid in a bright orange shirt opened the door. “Matt’s inside.” He simply said, before pushing past them and running off.

Nicky strode inside and walked past the chaos calmly, Neil dodging and weaving his way through an array of kids and teenagers alike. “Good luck getting used to this,” Nicky laughed as Neil was hit in the head with a wayward tennis ball. “The Apollo cabin is much more peaceful … and clean.”

“Well it literally is golden.” A voice chuckled, Neil turning to see who he guessed was Matt. He was what Neil expected of a child of Hermes; tall, handsome, a charming smile and a captivating spark in his eyes. He was everything Neil was not. Neil cursed under his breath.

He should have chosen another God.

“You must be Neil,” Matt shook Neil’s hand without waiting to take it, a lively grin spreading on his face as he took in Neil’s appearance. “You’re still in one piece - I’m guessing you haven’t  met the others.”

“The others?”

Nicky shook his head and sent Matt a wary glare. “Don’t worry about that for now, we’ll avoid them for as long as possible.”

Matt shoved Nicky’s shoulder and leaned on the wall. “No, he deserves a warning Nicky. The others Neil are the ill-tempered midget twins, that asshole Seth and the inventor of the buzzkill himself Kevin fucking Day. They’re all dicks but they’re also powerful, so do your best to ignore them, trust me.”

Neil had no doubt about it. He’d be avoiding Kevin like the plague.

“Do you know where Dan is?” Nicky asked as Matt caught a flying soccer ball and kicked it back at a group of kids. “Wymack told me to lead Neil around but she’s better at all this than I am.” Nicky smiled at Neil sympathetically, who didn’t know exactly how to react and instead just nodded.

Matt was silent for a moment before he threw up his hands. “She should be in the Armory, come with me Neil.” Neil followed Matt back through the disarray of the other campers, Neil breathing a little easier once back in the fresh air.

“Not trying to be rude or anything, but you don’t really look like the typical child of Hermes.” Neil shrugged and continued to keep pace with Matt’s long strides, not allowing himself to react too abruptly.

“I get that a lot.” Neil simply said, Matt eyeing him slightly for a moment before quickly sidestepping. Neil looked at him confused for a moment, feeling the ground shift slightly beneath him. Neil was unable to react quickly enough before falling into the shallow pit.

Neil felt anger coil dangerously in his stomach, the rocks around him rattling slightly before he was able to calm himself down. He couldn’t blow his cover on the first day.

“You alright down there?” Matt asked, holding out his hand and helping Neil out of the pit and back to his feet. Neil pushed him away and fell silent, ignoring Matt’s curious looks as they descended into an uncomfortable silence to the Armory.

“Matt!” Neil heard a voice call, his eyes spotting a whir of movement before Matt was tackled by a shorter girl. Her short dark hair was astray as she spun to face Neil, her smile warm and inviting as she greeted him. “I’m Dan.”

“I figured.”

She snorted and crossed her arms. “We don’t need any more of that attitude here,” Her dark features then smoothed out and she shook her head. “I understand this is all a bit much to get used to, trust me I get it, but try to be a little civil.”

Neil held back a smile. “Fine.”

“Great. I was planning on giving you a more thorough tour – I’m guessing the only reason you’re here is because Nicky gave up. Don’t take it personally though, he’s a great guy it’s just his group is repulsive – you’d think a son of Apollo would have better taste.” Why were people here so goddamn cryptic? Neil wondered. “But it’s nearing midday so lunch will be up shortly, I’ll introduce you to everyone properly there.”

He didn’t protest, and instead hung back slightly as Dan and Matt spoke softly between each other, sending Neil cautious looks as he pretended not to notice.


 “Everyone this is Neil, Neil this is everyone.” Dan addressed the table members with a hesitant smile, Neil sitting next to her and shrinking slightly as all pairs of eyes – expect three – stared at him in wonder.

Dan informed him that each cabin had their own table, and that this rule was forbidden to be renounced. Dan had also informed him that Wymack was willing to break this rule just for now, so Neil could get used to the more seniors members of the camp he’d be around.

It created a strange mood among the campers spread across the large table, all of them wondering what exactly made Neil so special that Wymack was willing to break the rules just to work around him.

“Who’s your father again?” A blonde girl – Allison – asked as she sat down at the table, smiling sweetly at the boy opposite her who sent her a fierce scowl. She was obviously a daughter of Aphrodite – that much was obvious to Neil, and was eyeing him almost hungrily.  

He wanted to tell her he didn’t swing, but Neil kept his mouth shut.

“Hermes.” Nicky answered, ruffling Neil’s hair who winced slightly under the touch. Nicky noticed and moved his hand away instantly, looking like a lost puppy as he frowned down at Neil. “Sorry man.”

Neil waved off his apology and muttered a quick, “I’m fine” before focusing his attention back on the quiet girl who he hadn’t even noticed was sitting next to Dan.

“I’m Renee; it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand to Neil across the table, Neil hesitantly taking it as her mere presence made him weary. Is this how other people react to me? He wondered.

“I’m Athena’s offspring, like Dan,” She spoke softly. “A lot of us here don’t pair up parental wise besides Dan and I and Allison and Erik, but i’m glad Matt has a sibling more closely to his age range.”

Neil nodded, catching himself staring at the boy at the end of the table. He seemed to be as far away from the others as possible. Upon noticing Neil’s eyes watching him, he sneered and spat something under his breath, Neil feeling hatred for the other boy twist in his stomach before pushing it back down. That was Seth, son of Ares, definitely.  

Neil then felt himself looking around for Kevin, but was lost when he couldn’t see him and the twins Matt had mentioned. Matt noticed and leaned over. “The twins and Kevin didn’t want to sit with the rest of us, count that as a blessing,” Matt whispered to him. “Andrew would eat you alive if he caught a whiff of some fresh meat.”

Neil knew he was going to eventually meet the twins and have to face Kevin again, he dreaded the moment he’d have to, but he swiftly pushed back the thought as lunch arrived and ate his meal in silence.


As it neared nightfall, the others smartly left Neil alone for some peace and quiet before moving back to their own cabins. He had heard that at night Kevin liked to wander around aimlessly by the lake, so Neil made sure to find a spot deep in the forest to try and collect his thoughts and relax.

It worked for ten minutes or so. He had felt his muscles losing their tension and his mind slowing down a fraction as he sat among the forestry, the tension returning immediately as he felt someone – or something – watching him.  

Neil got to his feet instantly, eyes narrowing as he peered through the darkness for whatever was watching him. What Neil saw was not a person, not even an animal, but mist.

Mist?

A blurry sort of figure then arose before him, Neil watching in confusion as the shape soon materialised into a person within the haze. The blond boy smiled, his teeth bared as he glared intensely at Neil with frenzied hazel eyes.

There was only one group of Demigods who could control magic at such an advanced level.

Children of Hecate; Goddess of magic, sorcery, witchcraft and necromancy.

Neil stepped back instantly.

“You’re Neil,” He drawled, closing the gap between the two quickly before Neil could move away again. “You almost gave Kevin a heart attack when you arrived; he hates abrupt disorder among his scheduled regime.”

Neil felt his stomach churn as he mentioned Kevin, fearing the boy was just itching to get under his skin. This must be the Andrew Matt warned him about. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The boy – Andrew – thought for a moment, tapping his lips before his manic smile increased. “I think you do. I also think that Hermes isn’t your father.”

“You think I’m lying?”

“I heard Matt talking about what happened this morning. You fell into a pit, a trap. Hermes children can sense those sorts of things, but yet you fell straight into it. Interesting, don’t you think Neil?” Andrew spat out his name with a fierce grin, Neil gritting his teeth as he edged towards Andrew.

“Fuck you.” Neil hissed.

“I’m shaking in my boots.” Andrew deadpanned, sniggering slightly as he watched the rage bubble in Neil’s piercing blue eyes.

“You should be.”

This caught Andrew’s attention, his eyes narrowing as his concentration shifted to something less manic but much more dangerous. He raised a thin eyebrow and gazed up at Neil, who hadn’t even noticed he was somehow taller than the blond. That’s a first.

“Is that a threat?”

“If you want it to be,” Neil trailed off, watching the fog around them suddenly moving to circle the two. “Although I’d suggest you back off and leave me the fuck alone before you get hurt.”

“Before I get hurt?” Andrew mused. “That’s adorable.”

The fog rose above the pair, it clouding Neil’s vision and getting in his eyes as he coughed. He heard Andrew laugh again, Neil doing everything in his power to not react and show his abilities. It’s what Andrew wanted, and Neil wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

“I wouldn’t even bother with your façade, I’ll figure you out soon,” The fog begun to disappear as Andrew walked away, fading with the mist as he did. “I always do.”

Neil was then left alone once again with his thoughts, his heart racing and his feet itching to move.

To run.

Neil stayed motionless. 

Chapter Text

Neil was irritated.

He had tossed and turned all night due to not only the noise of the Hermes cabin, but due to his and Andrew’s encounter. His words had left Neil utterly rattled. He knew the blond was close to Kevin, so the thought of Andrew finding out who he truly was unnerved him immensely. 

He was currently sitting out the front of the Big House waiting for Wymack, as they had plans to attempt to figure out his abilities and how to combat them. Neil wasn’t eager, as he knew exactly what he was capable of, and that what he could do now was most likely only the tip of the iceberg when it came to his power.

“You ready?” Neil turned to see Wymack approaching, the horse half of him still slightly jarring to Neil as he nodded and stood. “Good. I was thinking of going to the very edge of the camp seeing’s as we don’t exactly need anyone to see-“Wymack motioned haphazardly to Neil. “-well this, not yet.”

Neil didn’t object, understanding his intentions completely as he followed Wymack through the thick forest to the very edge of the camp. He knew no one would see the pair, as it was a Friday, and Dan had mentioned the camp was quite quiet in the morning in preparation for afternoon events. Something about capture the flag, he wasn’t entirely sure.

They made it to a clearing near a cliff face, the large expanse of forestry surrounding them as well as a small lagoon adjacent to the cliff. “This is where I took Kevin when he first got here,” Wymack said, Kevin’s name instantly putting Neil on edge as he stared at Wymack. “He was only fifteen, scared as hell after leaving that horrible camp and had no idea how to control his abilities. He was a bloody handful.”

“He was a kid and a child of one of the big three; I highly doubt he had any idea what he was doing.” Neither did I, Neil thought.

Wymack sighed, seeming exceptionally older and he looked down at Neil. “I guess you’re right kid, you of all people would understand. Have you talked to Kevin yet?”

Neil suppressed an ugly laugh. “No.” He simply answered, attempting to wrench the bitterness from his voice. He would be avoiding the contact as much as possible, avoiding the inevitable interaction as he needed more time to prepare himself for the reunion.

“He’s not exactly friendly in the conventional sense, but if you need anyone to talk to about your situation I’m sure he’d understand.”

He’d understand. Neil knew Kevin would understand almost too much, which was why he needed to be avoided. His identity needed to be preserved as long as possible.

“Enough of that,” Wymack then said, Neil guessing he could sense how uncomfortable the conversation was making him. “To begin with, what do you know you can do?”

Neil shrugged. “From what I’ve seen so far I can manipulate shadows, the earth and elements like ice,” He started. “Sometimes I black out when it’s happening, so there’s probably way more but right now that’s all I’m aware of.”

Wymack thought for a moment, the silence suffocating as they stood a few metres apart. “I have no doubt you’d be able to do way more than that; I don’t think you realize how powerful you are.”

Neil didn’t bother to suppress the roll of his eyes. “Trust me, I’m aware.” He was growing increasingly tired of people thinking he was naive.

Wymack just nodded, backing away slightly before abruptly reaching down and hurling something directly at Neil. Neil reacted instantly, holding up his hand and stopping the object centimetres from his face.

Neil blinked and saw a bone hovering mid-air, moving his hand and seeing the object still in front of him. “What the fuck was that?”

“I had a hunch. Your father is the King of the Underworld; you had to be able to control some aspects of death.” Wymack said casually, his eyes still remaining cautious as he spoke.

“You could’ve at least warned me.” Neil muttered, throwing his hand to the side and watching the bone soar and imbed itself in the tree adjacent to him.

“You won’t learn anything if I have to hold your hand through this.”

“Do you even know how to help me?” Neil muttered, feeling his body tense as his power ached to be let out once more. 

“I helped Kevin.” Wymack said simply.

Kevin. Kevin. Kevin. Was there anything else he talked about?

“We’re not exactly the same you know, Kevin and I, we’re completely different.”

Wymack was silent for a moment, looking as if he was carefully choosing his words before saying, “I see a lot of you in him. You’re running from your past, you’re scared of what you can do and how people can manipulate that and you feel as if you’re toxic to those around you. You’re a lot more alike than you think Neil.”

The anger inside Neil rose before he could react, the cliff face beside them starting to produce cracks as the earth below them shook. Wymack threw up his hands, eyes alert as he moved closer to Neil. “Hey, calm down alright. You’re fine.”

Neil took a deep breath and focused, the earth becoming stable again as his ire lifted.

Wymack let out a sigh of relief. “I guess that’s a pressure point I shouldn’t prod.”

“Just get on with the training.” Neil desperately needed to learn how end mishaps like that from happening, especially around the other camp members and any unwanted eyes for the time being. His life depended on it.


 

Neil was lying on the grass near the Hermes cabin when a shadow obstructed the sun above him, Neil blinking to adjust his vision as he saw Matt standing over him. “Come on, its Friday.” He beamed, Neil sitting up as camp members streamed out of their cabins behind him.

“You say it like it means something to me.”

Matt laughed and pulled Neil to his feet, pushing him over to the Big House where the other camp members were gathered. “Friday means capture the flag Neil, it’s a tradition,” Matt said. “Cabins are split into two teams and fight to the death, but you know, without the death part.”

Neil tried to smile but couldn’t find it in himself to do so.

Neil was still exhausted from training with Wymack, and had no real intention of playing any sort of physical sport or unleashing any of his abilities. He and Wymack were still on the early days of his training, meaning he wasn’t prepared for anything like a brutal game of capture the flag just yet.

“I know you’re still new but hey, you might meet some new people and learn how to use some of those skills our dad passed down to us,” Matt continued as Wymack moved out of the cabin with Abby. “You’ll be fine, I’ll look out for you man.”

Neil had promised himself to try and not get too close to anyone at the camp, but Matt was making it exceptionally difficult for Neil to hold that promise.

Wymack raised his hand and the muttering among the camp members fell flat, Neil spotting the older man’s slight grin as he seem pleased with the silence. Neil couldn’t blame him. “I’m sure you all know the rules by now, Abby will be your medic and I’ll do my best to supervise. You can take your chosen weapons from the Armory after I sort the cabins into teams. Try not to maim anyone too badly; I’m looking at you Minyard. For the love of God do not repeat what happened last month or you'll be doing six laps of the camp  weekly - again.”

Neil’s eyes drifted over to Andrew who had a horrible smirk on his face from Wymack’s words, his stomach dropping as the blond caught his own eyes among the crowd. He winked before moving further into the mass of people, Neil feeling increasingly uneasy as he lost sight of him.

Neil stayed glued to Matt’s side as Wymack sorted the teams, staying close as the camp members team by team moved to the Armory. “Pick your poison.” Nicky appeared beside him, brown eyes warm as he handed Neil a bronze shield.

Neil got familiar with the weight of the shield as he watched as Nicky grabbed a large bow and arrow, the older boy humming in delight as he ran his finger along the golden, feather tipped arrows.

“Too bad we aren’t with Athena’s cabin,” Allison muttered as she sat daintily perched on the large wooden bench. “No matter who they’re with they always win, especially with Dan leading them.”

“Doesn’t help that they’re with Ares this week, we’re royally fucked.” Nicky replied, laughing as he watched Allison’s scowl deepen. “Trouble in paradise?”

“Seth is a million miles from paradise,” She muttered, grabbing the sword from next to her and moving to wrap her arm around Neil who attempted not to flinch. “Not much we can do now. Let’s go get maimed by the twinyards.”

“Fuck, are they with Kevin?” Matt asked hesitantly, Neil’s jaw ticked as he mentioned the name. If Matt noticed, he didn't say anything. Neil was grateful. 

Allison nodded, earning a brisk laugh from Nicky. “Wonderful.”

Neil stood there silently as the three spoke back and forth, struggling to breathe as he feared having to face not only both Andrew and Kevin individually but their abilities combined on the opposing team.

Neil swallowed hard. This was not going to end well for anyone.


 

Neil lost Matt within the first five minutes of the game.

There was a large bang that sounded throughout the forest before the camp members exploded into action, Neil quickly losing sight of both Allison and Nicky before eventually losing Matt among the melee. Neil had stayed motionless for a moment, contemplating what to do before his instincts took over.

He ran as far away from the commotion as physically possible.

Neil the found himself hunched over and breathing hard by a tree, unable to hear any more shouting or fighting as he fought to catch his breath. He threw away the shield he didn’t need and slid to the forest floor, running his hands over his face and he stared glumly at his worn out shoes.

He had no idea how long he had sat there for, whether it was for only a few minutes or even a few hours, before he heard rustling behind him. Neil swore under his breath as he slowly moved around the tree, making sure he was out of sight before peering into the clearing behind him.

Neil’s stomach dropped.

Kevin Day was standing by the shallow creek, his arms raised slightly as the water around him slowly begun to hover mid-air. Kevin manipulated the water before him with accomplished ease, seeming bored as the breeze moved the water about even further.

He looked exactly as Neil had remembered, albeit older but still startling with his dark hair, handsome features and piercing green eyes. As Neil stared, he couldn’t help but notice the seemingly permanent tense set to his shoulders and the strain in his jaw, Neil guessing it was an unfortunate aftermath of whatever the Moriyamas had done to him at his time in the wayward camp.

Neil found himself staring for longer than he should have, not hearing the footfalls of feet approaching before he saw a few familiar and unfamiliar faces approaching the stream. Upon seeing them as well, Kevin threw up his hands, the water along the entirety of the stream rising and creating a strong wall before him.

“Hey that’s not fucking fair you asshole!” Neil heard Nicky yell, throwing a rock at Kevin who instead rolled his eyes as it bounced off of the large expanse of water. “He does it every goddamn time.” He then heard him whine to Allison who shrugged in response, Neil noticing a flag secured tightly in her belt loop as she stood calmly next to Nicky and the unknown boy.

“Erik intervene, please?” Nicky asked, the muscled boy next to him shaking his head before nearing Kevin with raised eyebrows. He had to be a child of Aphrodite, Neil wondered as he watched the strange confrontation escalate.  

“It’s the boundary Kevin, you can’t secure it,” The boy – Erik – said defiantly. “You can’t always act like a goddamn child when you don’t get your way.”

“We haven’t lost yet.” Kevin simply replied his voice hoarse and slightly threatening to Neil’s curious ears.

Allison scoffed. “I know you’ve got some major daddy issues, but taking it out on the rest of us when you’re about to lose a shitty fucking game really reeks of poor parenting and neglect, don’t you think?”

Neil was unable to hear the no doubt scathing reply as he felt himself being lifted through the air, the feeling of weightlessness utterly jarring for a brief moment before he felt a searing pain in his side as he was thrown harshly into a rock.

He had no time to react before he was hoisted to his feet and seized by the collar, fierce hazel eyes gazing into his own before he had to once again catch his breath.

“Afternoon,” Andrew beamed, ignoring Neil’s glare as he roughly pushed himself away from the other boy. “What’s your hard on for Kevin by the way? It couldn’t be his personality; I mean I’m sure you’re aware it’s utterly ghastly.”

Neil didn’t bother to reply and instead started to walk away, his anger rising as he heard Andrew laugh. “No, no, no. I’m not done with you yet.” Neil was spun back around, the small cluster of rocks next to the pair cracking violently as Neil’s lips rose into a snarl.

Andrew’s thin eyebrows rose as he looked with interest at the rocks. “That’s interesting, what’s that party trick called son of Hermes?”

“Back off.” Neil growled, feeling the earth below them shutter slightly as Neil slowly begun to lose control. He tried to recite Wymack’s words in his mind, but all he was getting was white noise.

 “Why?” Andrew asked, seeming unphased by Neil’s actions entirely. “And don’t lie to me; you seem to have a nasty habit of that.” Neil stayed silent as his anger simmered, noticing the familiar mist move around Andrew as he circled Neil.

“You know this could all be avoided if you just tell the truth about who you are and why you’re here,” Andrew sighed, the fog rising to his knees as he stared down Neil almost hungrily. “You don’t want the alternative.”

“You honestly think you’re intimidating?” Neil laughed sharply, wincing as he sounded far too much like his father. “Nicky’s more threatening than you.”

Andrew clicked under his breath as the mist fully consumed his body, Neil hearing him utter, “I warned you,” before the temperature around them dropped substantially.

Neil stood stationary with unease, wanting to take back his words before he felt his throat close up as a familiar feeling of dread overtook him. He had only felt fear like this once before, he knew exactly what – or more likely who – was the only person that could induce such a paralysing and consuming feeling.

It was what he was most afraid of. His father.

Neil saw the grass beneath him wither as he stood paralysed, chest heaving as he fought off an impending panic attack. He tried to remind himself it wasn’t real, that it was just Andrew getting into his head, but it felt too real and hit too close to home that Neil was shutting down completely.

The sound of victory shouts bursting among the tree line broke Neil from his fear inducted trance, the mist still thick as he turned around and found himself staring into horribly familiar piercing blue eyes. Neil cried out and stumbled back, falling to his knees and covering his face with his arms as the mist swirled around him.

Neil then felt a strong hand secure itself on the back of his neck, Andrew’s voice abnormally blank as he whispered, “You’re Hades son, aren’t you?”

Neil lashed out in panic and elbowed the other boy in the stomach, his vision hazy and he stumbled to his feet. Whether it was an illusion by Andrew or not, Neil ran like his life depended on it.

Under such circumstances, it usually did.  


 

Neil’s eyes were watering as he stumbled through the doors of the big house, breathing erratic as he moved hastily through the building. He soon ran into someone in front of him, Neil rapidly wiping his eyes before looking up to see Kevin watching him curiously.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

“What the-?” Neil pushed past Kevin with shaking hands as he sped past him, knocking over something on a nearby shelf as his body shook as it worked through the adrenaline. He didn’t need to see Kevin, not now, especially not now.  

Neil couldn’t believe, didn’t want to believe what he had let happened, what Andrew had let happen. Andrew was aware of who he was, who his father was, and would no doubt be telling Kevin by the end of the night. Neil was screwed, completely and utterly indefinitely screwed to oblivion. He had let Wymack down.

He had let his mother down. 

Wymack found him half an hour later, huddled in a ball in front of his office door, tear stained cheeks evident as his dead blue eyes stared numbly at the floor in front of him. Wymack took one look at him before storming back off, cursing Andrew’s name as he left.  

Chapter Text

“You are to tell no soul about what you saw today.”

Andrew and Neil were in Wymack’s office, Neil on edge as he stood as far away from the couch Andrew was currently lounged on. He didn’t want to be anywhere near Andrew at the moment, but Wymack offered no other pressing alternatives.

 “That’ll be difficult, he attracts deaths.”

Andrew,” Wymack warned, looking utterly displeased with Andrew’s attitude as his large form towered behind his large wooden desk. “This is serious. We’re still trying to contact Olympus to inform them of Neil’s presence, so nobody but a handful of people know the truth and we intend to keep it that way for as long as possible.”

Andrew stayed silent for a moment, his eyes landing on Neil as he contemplated his next words. “You’re lying,” He mused, ignoring Wymack’s sigh as he continued. “Oh humour me. How long could it possibly take to contact Olympus if you’re one of their most trusted? You’re afraid of them, of what they’ll do to him.”

Wymack ran his hands over his face but didn’t bother replying to Andrew, proving his assumptions to be correct. Neil zoned out of their conversation, calming his frantic mind as he thought.

To Neil, Andrew didn’t look like the type of person to be sentimental, so persuading him with physical objects was not an option. He craved honesty, but that in itself was something Neil was cautious of. He couldn’t exactly trust Andrew, but perhaps giving away some truths would help keep him stay silent for the time being.

Neil took a leap of faith and said in German, “If we cut a deal would you stay quiet?”

Andrew turned rapidly to gape at Neil, Neil holding back his look of triumph as he had somehow caught Andrew off guard. “How’d you know I’d be able to understand?” Andrew replied in German, his intense stare turning into somewhat a look of amusement.

“I heard Matt saying something about Nicky and Aaron always muttering in German, I guessed you’d be able to speak it as well,” Neil crossed his arms and avoided Wymack’s exasperated gaze at not being able to understand the two. “I was right.” 

“What exactly would this deal involve?” Andrew then asked, moving off of the couch slowly to walk over to Neil. The other boy stood his ground in defiance. He had faced much worse than Andrew; Neil had to remind himself as he felt the familiar feeling of fear returning.

“The truth. I’ll exchange some honesty if you do the same for me, hopefully it’ll distract you and help keep that mouth of yours shut.”

Andrew’s lips quirked in delight at his words. “You sure you want to do this?”

Neil showed his indifference through a raised eyebrow, not needing to answer Andrew as he had already made his decision.

“Alright,” Andrew then said in English, catching Wymack’s attention as he was now able to comprehend the exchange again. “We’re done here. Goodbye.” Andrew waved and moved from the room, Neil able to breathe easier as he watched the blond disappear through the threshold.

“Do I even want to know?” Wymack asked as the pair stood in a subdued silence for a moment.

“Not really, but he’ll be quiet,” Neil replied. “For now.”

Neil hoped it was that simple, but hope was a dangerous thing.


 

It was nearing nightfall when Nicky hesitantly walked up to Neil, his brown eyes downcast as he stood awkwardly with the shorter boy by the Hermes cabin. 

“I don’t really want to be the bearer of bad news, but Kevin said he wanted to talk to you.”

Neil somehow managed to keep a straight face before asking, “Why?”

“He didn’t say, we haven’t really been talking that much but he didn’t seem that pissed off so-“Nicky threw up his hands suddenly, catching Neil off guard who had to dodge being struck in the face. “-I don’t know man. I don’t want to force you into anything, but he seemed kinda keen.”

Of course he did. After Neil had bumped into him, all he could think about was Kevin recognising him and outing him to the whole camp. He highly doubted the latter, but Neil couldn’t help but think that his identity was now known by yet another camp member, nevertheless Kevin Day of all people.

“Where is he?” Neil asked tiredly.

Nicky pointed in the direction of the lake, Neil hesitating for a moment before walking to the tree line. It was most likely a ridiculous decision on his part, but he knew he couldn’t run from his problems forever. He’d learnt that the hard way countless times.

Neil pushed his way through the greenery as he trekked the short distance to the lake, hearing the rushing water before he found himself at an unfamiliar clearing.

Kevin was standing motionless by a tall oak tree, the backdrop of the large lake behind him startling as he watched Neil intently.

The pair stood in a lasting silence, Neil doing his best to hold his tongue and any smart, biting remarks before Kevin spoke up. “Has Wymack been teaching you?”

Neil opened his mouth but shortly closed it, tilting his head slightly in curiosity as he had not been expecting such an unusual response.

“Teaching me? Why-“

“He did the same for me,” Kevin interrupted, green eyes still eerily locked on Neil as they stood metres apart. “He did it with Dan too. He chooses kids to specially mentor sometimes, takes more time to teach them about their abilities than the others. I was just guessing you were one of them, it made sense.”

Neil narrowed his eyes. Kevin was stalling. But for what reason? “Why are you telling me this?”

Kevin rubbed the back of his neck with his hand and stilled abruptly, the movement causing Neil to tense as he awaited a fight.

The punch never came.

Instead Kevin kicked the grass beneath his feet, Neil not knowing how to anticipate his movements as Kevin was slowly growing as erratic as the stirring lake behind him.

Nicky had to have been lying when he said what was unfolding in front of him was Kevin in a decent mood. Neil had no idea what was happening and he despised it.

“What do you want?” Neil asked, ignoring the familiar sensation of his abilities rising as he watched Kevin pacing back and forth through the damp grass. “Why the fuck am I even here if you have nothing to say to me? You don’t even know me-“

The ugly laugh that escaped Kevin’s mouth at his words shut down Neil’s discourse instantly.

“But Wymack does,” Kevin interjected. “He hasn’t spoken a word to me in the few days you’ve been here.”

Neil raised an eyebrow, utterly dumbfounded, feeling his anger rising alongside Kevin’s foul temperament. “Why should Wymack give you an inch of his attention if you act like such a petty and immature child all the time? He’s not your caretaker or your father, he owes you nothing.”

“He was involved with my mother before she was killed. So yes, Wymack might as well be my fucking father,” Kevin spat before spinning and facing Neil, his lips turned upwards in a deadly scowl and his green eyes nearing lethal. “But instead I’ve got a deadbeat fucking God who hasn’t spoken to me for however many fucking years, that honestly probably wishes I was dead!”

Kevin spat out the word God like it burned him. Maybe it did, Neil thought.

The sky above the pair cracked with light, Kevin’s head shooting up as he looked at the heavens. Kevin then laughed, the grim sound sending a shiver down Neil’s spine as he watched Kevin close his eyes and spew out more foul insults.

“You only care when I curse your goddamn names!”

His head was titled back and his face held something ferocious, Kevin looking as if he was ready to battle with Olympus itself.

The sky lit up with increasingly fiercer lightening, Neil growing progressively wary as he had no intention on angering the God’s any further than his existence already did. “Look Kevin, maybe you should-“

Kevin, who had momentarily forgotten Neil was even there, spun swiftly and shoved him backwards. “Fuck off Nathaniel.”

Neil froze, eyes widening as he looked up at Kevin in disbelief.

He knew. Neil’s mind was working too fast to comprehend the gravity of Kevin’s words entirely. Did Andrew break their promise already? He wondered. Or had he known the entire time?

Kevin laughed wryly. “You honestly thought I didn’t know who you were? The moment you walked through that fucking door…” Kevin then ran a hand over his face, his shoulders sagging slightly as he looked back at Neil. “Hades and Poseidon’s sons, together at last. Now all we need is Zeus’ offspring and we’ll be a complete set.” Kevin hissed.

Zeus? Neil didn’t think he had any living children.

“Right, you don’t know, do you?” Kevin muttered, all of the anger washing away as quickly as it had surfaced. Kevin’s mood swings were as dizzying as they were perplexing.  “Zeus has a son; you’re on a first name basis with him. He’s currently in Castle Evermore awaiting the Third Olympian War they’re planning.”

Riko.

“No,” Neil muttered, feeling as if he was going to vomit at the revelation. “You’re lying.”

Kevin threw up his hands in distress. “Why the fuck do you think he wanted us together all these years? The God he said was his parent, Nemesis or whoever, it’s a cover up. Riko is one of the big three’s sons, just like us. He wants us because how could the Gods stand to defeat the offspring of the big three?”

Neil shook his head. “They wouldn’t hesitate if given the opportunity to kill us. We’re flight risks, me especially.”

Kevin was silent for a second, his eyes searching Neil’s own for an answer before slumping back against the tree behind him. “Speaking of that, who else knows about your father?”

“Wymack, Andrew and you,” Neil replied. “Wymack’s planning on informing Olympus soon but I’m not sure if he’s ever going to get around to it…” He trailed off; not wanting to think about the outcome of the God’s becoming aware of his existence. Not now.

“Andrew?” Kevin asked, his eyes widening as he took in Neil’s words. “How did he-?”

“It doesn’t matter. All that matters is we made a deal and he knows.”

“A deal?” Kevin stammered incredulously.

“Problem?” Andrew was dangerous, Neil wasn’t naïve, but he could tell the blond was one of the only people currently at the camp who could offer some sort of protection – even if said protection was only through the omitting of the truth.  

Neil quickly turned the table on the peculiar conversation and asked, “Does Wymack know about your history with the Moriyamas?”

Kevin flinched at the name, Neil could profoundly relate. “A bit, not all of it. I didn’t want him to know but I guess with you here-“Kevin motioned haphazardly at Neil with his hands “-we don’t really have much of a choice in him not knowing now do we?”

Kevin didn’t bother hiding the bitter edge to his voice; it didn’t go unnoticed by Neil.

“People like us never really get a choice, I’m used to it and so are you.”

Kevin rolled his eyes but stayed silent.

“Come on then,” Neil said as he turned and started walking back in the direction he came, uncaring if Kevin was following or not. “Wymack deserves to know the truth.”

Neil couldn’t believe what had happened as he walked to the Big House in silence with Kevin. He felt like somebody else had taken over his body during the strange exchange with Kevin, unsure of how he had even functioned properly around his old companion as they spoke. Although the bravado was faltering with every step, Neil felt like it was a step forward to something at the very least.   

As they reached the Big House, Neil quickly counted to ten in every language he knew before knocking on the door of Wymack’s office.

Chapter Text

“What do you two want?”

Kevin sent Neil a scathing look that Neil returned with a thumbs up, Wymack looking at the pair curiously as his large frame took up the majority of the threshold.

“I, well Neil and I … I … we wanted to-“Kevin cut himself off as he struggled, growing increasingly frustrated as he stuttered through various jumbled and incoherent sentences.

Neil eventually rolled his eyes and pushed Kevin out of the way, looking up at Wymack with a grim smile. “Kevin hasn’t exactly been honest with his origins and neither have I. We,” Neil made sure to emphasize the word, ignoring Kevin’s groan as he continued speaking. “-thought it would be for the best if you knew the majority of the truth.”

Wymack raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms, eyeing off Kevin for a second before moving to let the pair inside. They moved into the room and quickly took the two seats in front of his desk. Wymack looked unimpressed with the both of them.

“I expected you two to omit some truths,” Wymack said. “I wasn’t going to force you into telling me everything, but I’m guessing some details need to be brought to my attention after some recent events.” Neil held himself back from stating Wymack was aware of more than he let on, and instead stayed silent.

Now wasn’t the time.

“We know each other,” Kevin announced, Wymack nodding as if he had already predicted the statement. “Neil and I were both raised in the Moriyama camp.”

“I guessed as much,” Wymack then turned to Neil. “No one who hasn’t ever met Kevin gets that riled up over him. You’re not as good of a liar as you think Neil.”

Neil snorted in contempt. “That’s debatable.”

“What have I told you?” Kevin then asked, Neil guessing him and Wymack had experienced this conversation too long ago to recall such details.
“You told me you grew up with Riko and the Moriyamas, that they weren’t kind in their teachings and that Kayleigh…” Wymack faltered for a moment, Neil recalling what Kevin had said about Wymack and his mother as he searched Wymack’s face for any stray emotions.

What he found was remorse.

“Your mother was against how they ran their repulsive camp but couldn’t do anything about it before she passed, and that you left because of-“Wymack frowned. “Come to think of it I don’t remember you ever telling me.”

Neil always predicted that Kevin’s departure was due to the abusive tendencies of Riko and the way he was treated as more of an object than a human being, but Kevin’s sharp and unsteady intake of breath next to him made him question his judgement. It was more than that, it had to be.

“They were … they had no clue on how to combat what I could do. They weren’t fit to teach a kid of the big three,” Kevin’s eyes grew dark as he continued. “I had no idea how to control it, but they kept on teaching me things I couldn’t comprehend or combat.”

“Did they ever hurt you?” Neil asked, remembering the abuse he endured from Riko from his short time around the Moriyama. Neil was only introduced to Kevin and Riko at age nine, his mother had prohibited the meeting for as long as she could to prevent such happenings.   

“When I lost control, which was common,” Kevin shook his head as Neil opened his mouth to interject. “Not majorly, it’s not why I left.”

“Then why did you leave Kevin?” Wymack asked.

Kevin hesitated before answering. “They taught me how to use Toxikinesis.”

Wymack went still and the room fell into a thick and uncomfortable silence, Neil narrowing his eyes as he had no recollection of ever seeing Kevin use the disturbing ability.

“Why did they teach you that?” Wymack spoke carefully, in fear that his words would set Kevin off. To Neil he almost sounded gentle.

Kevin shook his head and leant forward in his seat, Neil watching in confusion as Kevin’s hands had started to violently shake as Wymack pressed on with the question.

“I thought this whole thing was about honesty Kevin, or was I wrong?” Kevin shifted uncomfortably in his seat at Wymack’s words. “Why did they teach you that? Did they make you-?”

“I didn’t really understand it at first,” Kevin interrupted, avoiding Wymack’s question and going off on his own tirade. “I couldn’t control poisons entirely, it’s only part water, but I could still manipulate it enough. It was enough for them…”

Wymack caught Neil’s eye who shrugged, not knowing what Kevin was talking about either.

“I couldn’t contain the ability, so they used it to their advantage,” Kevin continued, staring at his uncontrollably trembling hands. “If they found any traitors at the camp, any spies or anyone they deemed unworthy they’d use me to hurt them.”

“Hurt them?” Wymack asked hesitantly.

“They would inject toxins into their body and they’d make me…” Kevin faltered once again.

“Torture them,” Neil wasn’t as afraid of the word as Kevin was. “They used you to torture them.”

Kevin made a noise from the back of his throat and clasped his clammy hands together. “I don’t even know how to explain what I did, but it was awful. They made me do it again and again and again until I eventually refused.”

Kevin was suddenly irate, at himself or the Moriyamas Neil wasn’t so sure. “Riko threatened to break my hand; he said it would teach me to obey, so I ran. Quite ironic isn’t it?”

“Is that what they did to you?” Wymack asked Neil, heavy restraint in his voice as the anger vibrating through his body dared to overflow.

Neil recovered quickly before replying. “They didn’t know what God I belonged to, as soon as I was claimed my mother and I fled the camp knowing what they’d do to me. I guess she had more of an idea of their practices than I did.”

The room descended into silence again, none of the trio knowing what to say as they waited for someone to break the silence.

“I need air.” Kevin muttered before quickly moving from the room, Neil ignoring Wymack’s request to give him some time alone as he followed Kevin out of the Big House.

Neil spotted Kevin walking to the direction of the lake, seeing some of the other familiar camp members watching intently at their exchange. Andrew was one of them.

“What are you doing?”

“Air.”

Neil caught up to Kevin and spun him around, Kevin roughly pushing Neil away who stumbled back. “I knew this was a bad idea, he didn’t need to know any of that.”

“He deserved to know,” Neil moved forward and stood defiantly in front of Kevin, chin and eyebrows raised as he spoke. “He also deserves to know about Riko-“

Kevin pushed Neil back again; anger flaring in his stomach as he once more lost his footing. Kevin noticed the rapid change in Neil’s temperament and smiled bitterly. “Careful Neil,” He jeered quietly. “We wouldn’t want them to know you’re Satan’s son.”

Neil barked out a short laugh. “Careful Kevin, we wouldn’t want them to know you were the Moriyamas bitch for half of your miserable fucking life.”

Kevin’s eye twitched as he glared down at Neil, his jaw ticking as he saw campers moving towards the pair in curiosity. “Shut the fuck up.”

Neil was too on edge to stop, too afraid that if he didn’t spew out fowl insults his abilities would overtake him. He could feel the power vibrating under his skin, itching to be released, but he wouldn’t allow it to show. Not here in front of all these people, all of these witnesses, not in front of Kevin.

“Tell me; is Andrew aware you don’t have a backbone?” Neil continued, uncaring that Kevin could quite possibly kill him if he wasn’t careful. He was powerful and had much more control of his abilities than Neil did, he should have been concerned. Neil wasn’t.

“No sorry of course he would, you’re his bitch now aren’t you?” Kevin shook his head and backed away from Neil. As he started walking in the direction of the lake, Neil spouted one final insult; one that he knew could result in a broken limb.  

Who’s exactly, he wasn’t sure.

“How would your mother feel if she saw you like this? Weak and on your knees, scared of the world and begging for someone to hold you upright,” Neil laughed, the sound horrible to his own ears. “But it doesn’t matter though, does it? Wymack sees you like that every day, he’s probably glad you aren’t and never will be his son.”

Kevin stilled.

Andrew laughed.

Neil watched wearily as Kevin turned around slowly, raw fury and hatred burning in his cold green eyes as he stared wide eyed at Neil.

Neil heard someone in the crowd call Neil’s name, but he was too busy anticipating Kevin’s next move to react.

The ground around them begun to shake, Neil unsure if it him or Kevin creating the movement as the pair locked eyes. The ground then started to split beneath them, a large crack forming in front of Kevin as he stood motionless among the erupting chaos.

There were shouts heard among a large and intense pounding, a whoosh of air hitting Neil and knocking him back as a wave of water burst from the widening cracks in the earth.

The large mass of water hovered around Kevin as it poured from the fractures, Neil’s heart pounding as he felt panic beginning to consume him. Taps and pipes surrounding them burst as more and more water grouped together, goose bump arising on Neil’s arms as he stared at Kevin’s still unmoving frame.

Wymack’s loud voice rose through the commotion, Neil looking behind him to see him pushing and moving through the dazed crowd to reach the two.

The mass of water was somehow humming with energy as Wymack and a frantic Abby reached Neil, concern lacing Wymack’s voice as he called to Kevin once more. Kevin gave no hint of hearing, his figure blurry as he stood among the turmoil of water that consumed him.

“He’ll flood the whole camp if he lets go off all this,” Wymack spoke raucously over the rushing noise, fear evident in his voice as Neil watched the seemingly harmless liquid surrounding Kevin. “Goddammit, Kevin Day!”

The water brusquely and rapidly surged away as Kevin broke out of his stupor, falling back into the earth and dousing everyone present as it went. Kevin gasped and fell to his knees, his damp and dark hair falling over his eyes as his chest rattled erratically, not for air but out of fear.

Abby moved to Kevin quickly as Wymack blocked onlooking eyes, shaking his head at Neil who had begun to move forward. “This could’ve been much worse,” Wymack told him as Matt took Neil’s arm and begun to pull him away. “Do not provoke him like that again.”

Neil felt a lump in his throat as an unfamiliar feeling of guilt washed over him. He knew exactly what Kevin was feeling, he knew exactly how it felt to lose himself to his all-consuming power as he had experienced it time and time again.  But yet Neil had still pushed Kevin enough to let this happen, had actually enjoyed it for a second.

Neil felt sick.

Matt stayed silent as he dragged Neil through the crowd, ignoring all the eyes on them as he moved them swiftly back in the direction of the cabins.

“Is your learning curve a horizontal line?”

Neil tensed as he heard Andrew’s voice, Matt groaning and letting go off Neil before spinning to face the Minyard twin. “Don’t do this now, please-”

Andrew whistled and his grin widened, although his eyes betrayed him as Neil watched the hazel darken miraculously. “I hate that word.”

“It’s okay Matt,” Neil said, shaking his head as Matt started to protest. “Go find Dan, I’ll be fine. I wanted to talk to him anyway.”

Matt hesitated a second too long before leaving, Neil and Andrew now alone near Hecate’s cabin. Andrew turned to Neil, a pleasant smile on his face as he said, “Now would be a good time to start our game.”

“Our what?”

“Our game that you proposed. I ask a question, you answer and vice versa. Fun,” Andrew mocked a salute before continuing. “I’ll go first, what’s the deal with you and Kevin?”

“Will the questions always be like this?” Neil asked as he crossed his arms, figuring Andrew wasn’t going to make this game easy for him.

“You know the answer to that.”

Of course. “I was with Kevin at the Moriyamas demi-god training camp.”

Andrew raised an eyebrow and hummed. “He didn’t tell me he knew you.”

“I didn’t know he knew who I was until a few hours ago.” Neil replied easily. “My turn, why are you like this?”

 “A curse.” Andrew said simply, nonchalance rolling off of him in waves like a curse meant nothing to him.

Interesting. “What curse?”

Andrew pointed a finger at Neil and tsked. “You can’t just ask two questions in a row, it’s against the rules.”

Neil scoffed. “A game like this can’t have rules.”

Andrew hummed again, moving closer to Neil and placing his pointed finger under his chin. Neil let out a shaky breath as the other boy leaned up to his ear and whispered, “What I say goes, you’ll learn eventually.”

Neil swallowed the lump in his throat before staring down Andrew with daring blue eyes. “Well, are you going to ask another one?”

Andrew thought for a moment before shaking his head. “No, not yet. I need time to think up a good one.”

Neil was then left alone with more unanswered than answered questions.

Neil sighed, he had once again dug a hole he wasn’t sure he could pull himself out of.

Chapter Text

Neil hadn’t seen Kevin for two days.

He had asked Wymack countless times, both directly and indirectly, but he hadn’t spoken a word of what had happened to anyone other than Abby Neil presumed.

Neil had tried to forget it happened altogether, but it was still so raw and vibrant in his mind he couldn’t help but think back to it as his thoughts wandered. Every time Neil closed his eyes he saw Kevin’s terrified face behind his eyelids, felt his guilt returning as he recalled pushing Kevin to his limit through his vicious remarks.

Neil’s thoughts were askew as he stood in the clearing where they had their sessions, the morning sun brightening the striking landscape as he waited for Wymack.

Neil needed to apologize and he needed to know what Andrew’s question was. He decided that after his morning lesson he’d find both Andrew and Kevin as he knew the two were at times inseparable.

He heard familiar footfalls and turned to see Wymack, not ignoring the strained look on his face and the slight bags under his eyes. Neil couldn’t help but think he’d aided in causing them, and felt the familiar guilt from the previous night’s returning.

“What are we doing today?”

“How confident are you with your training?”

Neil raised an eyebrow, unsure of what Wymack was planning. “I’ve been here for like a week.” He was slowly growing more comfortable with the thought and control of his abilities, but the extent of them still scared him half to death.

“I’m aware kid. I was going to try something different today but only if you’re okay with that.”

“And what exactly is this something different?” Neil was hesitant, and felt like he had every right to be.

“I want you lose control in a sense,” Wymack said, seeming slightly uncertain himself. “I want you to let yourself let go of your abilities to see how you can handle it.”

Neil blinked in disbelief. “You’re serious?”

Over the past couple of days, Neil’s training had consisted of him using only a small proportion of his power on trivial things. He had learnt how to have more control over bones, the earth and shadows but only on a minimal scale. What Wymack was proposing was ridiculous and borderline suicidal.

“If you need to stop at any time just tell me, we’ll work it out.”

Neil shielded his fear with accustomed wit. “Why does this sound like BDSM?”

Wymack rolled his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “This is serious Neil; you need to be prepared for an outburst.”

Neil frowned. “Is this because of what I did to Kevin?”

Wymack’s eyes widened. “You didn’t do anything to Kevin, he-” Wymack cut himself off before sighing, seeming to choose his words carefully before continuing. “What happened was not on you, albeit you did provoke him but it was inevitable kid.”

Neil nodded, not exactly believing what he was saying but decided against a confrontation. “So are we doing this?”

Wymack clapped his hands and moved away from Neil before saying, “I need you to get angry.”

Neil stared at Wymack before throwing his hands up. “How? Kevin isn’t here.”

Wymack rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Think of your father, your mother, whatever makes you irate. It’s obvious that whenever you’re angry your abilities come through, so get angry.”

“Easier said than done.” Neil closed his eyes and rolled his shoulders, still astonished that he was even agreeing to this. Neil focused on his past and took a deep breath, grounding himself before probing his mind for memories he’d much rather forget.

He thought of his father, of Andrew’s hallucination and the fear that overpowered him anytime Hades was mentioned. He thought of the Moriyamas, of their abuse and what his mother had to endure to protect him. He thought of burning his mother, the smell of her burning flesh and smoke still so fresh in his mind whenever he thought of the horrific night in Iowa. He though of his powers, how they controlled his life and made him terrified of his own body.

He thought of it all, both singularly and all at once.

He opened his eyes and gasped, feeling the earth below him beginning to tremor as the rocks around him shattered. He locked eyes with Wymack whose face was intensely concentrated, stepping out of the way of the vast array of shadows moving towards Neil and surrounding him.

He felt his hands beginning to shake not only with rage but as his abilities rose, doing his best to not force them back down and letting them claw their way to the surface. Neil choked as the power consumed him, flashes of his father’s face hitting him every time he blinked which increased his impending panic.

His heart was in his throat and he could barely breathe. It was too much; the overstimulation of his abilities too intense.

The worst thing Neil could do was panic.

Neil panicked.

Neil’s frantic and watering eyes met Wymack’s. “I can’t.”

Wymack threw up his hands. “Okay, okay. Do what I taught you, bottle it back up slowly. Defuse it and breathe.”

Neil took a deep breath though his nose, washing his mind clear of any stray memories and counted in every language he knew to at least thirty. His eyes were closed, but he could feel the ground levelling, felt the power residing and his mind clearing. Thank god. He fell to his knees and took extra breaths to calm himself.

“That was a stupid idea.”

Neil opened his eyes and saw Kevin standing over him; his arms crossed but his face uncharacteristically open as he looked down at Neil.

“It was Wymack’s stupid idea.” Neil retorted, pulling himself to his feet with the use of the rock next to him.

“You agreed.”

Neil shot Kevin a cynical smile before spinning around to face Wymack, his smile tired and not reaching his eyes as his body worked through the strain. “Thoughts?”

Wymack eyed Kevin curiously before turning his attention back to Neil. “We’ll work on it.”

“It won’t be happening again,” Kevin said, holding up his hand to Neil who’d open his mouth to speak. “Don’t be fucking idiotic. You could’ve wiped out the camp, yourself included, and then where would we be?”

Neil rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “Dead?” He deadpanned.

Kevin let out a scoff of contempt. “This is serious Neil.”

“I’m aware Kevin,” Neil spoke in French. “Trust me I’m the only one in this goddamn camp who truly understands how serious all of this is, which is why I agreed to this in the first place.”

Kevin looked weary of the use of the language, but continued nonetheless. “Agreed to suicide?”

“Agreed to controlling this,” Neil pointed to his chest, noticing Wymack’s confused scowl as the two spoke feverishly in French. “This is a bomb Kevin and I need to be able to defuse it before it explodes. I thought this could help but clearly I’m not ready.”

Kevin was silent for a moment before rolling his eyes, muttering something Neil couldn’t quite hear or understand. “What-”

“I said I’ll help you if you want.”

Neil’s eyes widened in confusion. “Seriously?”

“I get it, what you’re going through I get it,” Kevin’s face was strained as he spoke, like he didn’t exactly know how to articulate his sentence – like help was a foreign concept to him. “I can help you if you want. I don't want you killing yourself doing stupid shit like this when there are far safer options.”

Neil held Kevin’s gaze before turning to Wymack. “I need Allison around whenever you two speak,” He said. “She can decode whatever shit you’re saying.”

Aphrodite’s children can speak fluent French, Neil reminded himself.

“I’m helping Neil with his training,” Kevin spoke, looking slightly uncomfortable with the proposition. “You’ll still need to do the bulk of it but I’m helping.”

“That’s … interesting,” Wymack said, not looking entirely convinced as he looked at the pair. “You sure?”

The idea of Kevin even assisting Neil was astounding; for Kevin to want to help him in the first place – especially after what had happened a few days previous – baffled Neil, but he couldn’t say he wasn’t entirely concerned with the idea.

Kevin knew firsthand what Neil was going through, he knew of the power the two possessed and had found a way to mostly contain it. It would be ridiculous to turn up such an offer from one of the other big three’s offspring, but he still nevertheless had his doubts. Kevin stable, sure, but whatever his training entailed let to psychological trauma Neil wasn't sure he wanted to deal with.  

“Yeah,” Neil said, a tinge disbelief in his voice as he was not used to these kinds of selfless acts. “Yeah I’m sure.”

Kevin’s proposition was unexpected, but not entirely unwanted.


 

It was well after lunch; Neil was sitting with a conversing Matt and Dan when he heard footsteps approaching. Neil turned his head slightly, the sun blocking his view for a moment before he blinked as his vision cleared. Who he saw baffled him at the very least.

“Renee?”

She smiled pleasantly at Matt and Dan before speaking, “Could I talk to you for a second Neil?” Neil nodded with slight apprehension and followed her to a more secluded area.

Renee unnerved Neil – that much was obvious. She was friendly with Matt, Dan, Allison and various other camp members but he couldn’t exactly place her into a specific group. She was connected to certain crowds, but yet at the same time wasn’t. There was something about her that immensely bothered Neil, but he couldn’t quite put this finger on it.

“I worry you, don’t I?”

Her soft voice brought him out of his thoughts, Neil not sure how to reply to such a statement and instead stayed silent.

“You can’t figure me out, I want to change that.” She said.

“How exactly?” The whole confrontation slightly baffled Neil; such a proposition was so sudden and entirely unexpected he supposed there were exterior motives or some abrupt major factors that influenced Renee’s decision. Andrew perhaps, maybe Wymack. The two had rarely spoken, so Neil was lost.

“I’m not proposing a friendship exactly, but a mutual help. Wymack has talked about reconciling the groups; I think you might be able to help me achieve this.” Neil figured the groups were Andrew’s lot and the others, the key stake holders and senior members of the camp that affected the larger cohesion of the camp itself and cabin dynamics.

“It may take some work and some exchange of truths and varying arrays of trust, but it’s attainable.” Renee said, her dark eyes intense as she gazed at Neil.

Neil was hesitant. He had already given enough trust to both Kevin and Wymack this morning, he didn’t know if he had it in him to offer another shred of limited trust for a girl he barely knew. “Why should I trust you?”

Renee was silent for a moment before speaking, Neil still unable to fathom how such a timid girl with a rosary could be so unusually intimidating. “My past I have to admit is quite checkered; I suppose those factors should aid in us getting along.”

“You’re acting like you know about my past.”

“Of course I do.”

Neil narrowed his eyes while Renee only smiled.

“I have a predisposition to believe that anyone that Wymack gives that much attention to has something to hide,” She spoke kindly, her eyes holding something sharp and intimidating. “Andrew wouldn’t be intrigued with someone who was boring.”

Her choice of words raised an alarm in his mind, Neil working through every small exchange they’ve have to determine whether he’d given any hints of his roots.

“It is quite sudden, I’m aware, but think about it,” She said as she started to walk off. “It could benefit us all.”

Neil was uncertain and remained silent; the whole proposition was unexpected and caught Neil incredibly off guard. He knew Wymack had an influence in the exchange, as the division of groups clearly hadn’t gone unnoticed by anyone, but why both he and Renee thought Neil could aid in the reconciliation was beyond him.

“Oh and Neil,” She said, pointing to the Hecate cabin with a smile. “Andrew wanted to talk to you.”

Neil watched her walk towards the Athena cabin where Allison was waiting, the blonde waving at Neil with a smirk before taking Renee’s arm and leading her away.

Neil turned in the direction of the twin’s cabin and looked for any sign of Andrew. He eventually spotted a shadow and the accompanying twin by the side of the cabin and headed in the direction of it. He anticipated Andrew was ready to ask his question, and had to psyche himself up for whatever it would be.

Neil walked over to where Andrew was perched and leant back on the wall of the cabin, feeling Andrew’s intense gaze as he waited for him to speak.

The pair then stood in an uncomfortable silence for a few short, awkward minutes. Neil rapidly grew confused as Andrew usually had a cutting remark accompanied with his manic nature whenever Neil came within earshot, but right now Andrew was strangely mute.

“Andrew-”

Andrew snorted and pushed away from the wall, hazel eyes wide and almost unrecognisable as he stared at Neil with a sneer. “Jesus Christ you’re an idiot.”

Neil stood still in disbelief before he realized what had happened.

The way Andrew held himself was different, his scowl was too prominent and his shoulders too tense. He looked like Andrew but yet at the same time he was vastly diverse.

This wasn’t Andrew.

It was Aaron.

“Great.” Neil said, not exactly knowing how to react as he’d never really seen or spoken a word to the other Minyard twin. From what Neil had heard Aaron Minyard was … complex. He wasn’t as unnerving to Neil as Renee, she was an entirely different entity, but there was something about him that put Neil slightly on edge whenever he caught his eye.

“I thought you’d know the difference by now,” Aaron said, looking standoffish as he took a small step towards Neil who instead stood his ground. He wouldn’t be threatened by another Minyard, he refused. “Your fixation with my brother isn’t healthy.”

Neil scoffed, knowing exactly where this conversation was headed and how cautious he needed to be. Aaron’s power would clearly mimic Andrew’s as they were siblings, so Neil figured it wouldn’t be wise picking a physical fight with Aaron.

A verbal fight nonetheless Neil greatly preferred anyway. “Fixation?”

“He rants and raves about whatever dumbass deal you two have. It’s exhausting.” Neil was mapping out the twins relationship in his mind, determining the strain and the tension as yet another question he sought to ask Andrew when he could. There was bad blood between the brothers and Neil wanted, no, needed to know why.

“Well he doesn’t exactly have much control over that does he?” Neil retorted, guessing that Andrew’s manic tendencies were most likely a large trigger for the twin’s abhorrence of one another.

Aaron’s eyes narrowed and his jaw ticked, spitting out his next sentence in contempt. “You mean his curse?”

Neil held back his knowing smirk. Maybe he didn’t need to waste his question on figuring out the curse, maybe Aaron would hand it to him on a silver platter.

“What else would I mean?” Neil asked. “That’s the cause of his mania right? I mean it doesn’t look like it runs in the family, you don’t exactly look that alive.”

Neil ignored the resemblance he felt with his father at that moment. He disregarded his reflection in the window next to him as his auburn roots grew out over the brown and overlooked the tinge of vice in his voice as he spoke. This is something his father would do and he hated himself for it.

Aaron scowled, his face contorting as if to prove he did have emotions and that he was capable of feeling. “You know nothing.”

I know, Neil thought, so tell me what you know.

He couldn’t directly ask Aaron, Neil knew that, so he’d have to be careful in his wording and get Aaron to reveal the information through indirect connotations.

Well, that was the plan anyway.

“I know there’s a curse but he won’t tell me-”

“Maybe there’s a reason for that genius,” Aaron interrupted, growing increasingly irritated at Neil’s cool composure. “It’s not exactly a conversation starter.”

“Right,” Neil laughed. “Which is why we’re talking about it now.”

“Don’t be a fucking smartass; you saw where that got you with Kevin.”

Neil knew Aaron was trying to get under his skin, but it wasn’t going to work. Unlike Kevin or even Andrew, Aaron had nothing on Neil. The only thing unfavourable to Neil was his concealed abilities, and after his morning session with Wymack Neil felt slightly less in control than usual.

“I’m not the irate one here Aaron,” Neil shrugged. “Your problem with Andrew is your problem; how the curse gets you so worked up is beyond me.”

“Stop talking about it.” Aaron spat through gritted teeth. "If I don't ... if I can't talk about it then you fucking can't."

Neil got the strange feeling that Aaron himself didn't really even know what he was talking about when he referred to the curse. He seemed too angry, too distressed, like he had grown so tired of people talking about something he himself was unaware of.

“You’re acting like you yourself don’t even know the story.”

Aaron’s eye twitched.

Oh. “Do you even know?” Neil questioned.

Aaron roughly shoved Neil back, Neil unable to catch his footing before he was slammed back against the wall of the cabin. Aaron lodged his forearm on Neil’s throat before forcing down his weight, Neil’s eyes widening as he felt the accustomed surge of power arise before calming and pushing it back down.

Shut your fucking mouth.”

Neil tilted his head and remained silent, gauging Aaron’s composure as he maintained his stance on a physical confrontation. It wasn’t ideal with the presumed strength of Aaron’s power, so Neil needed to attempt to calm Aaron down before any punches were thrown.

“It was more of an … observation than anything.” Neil struggled with his words due to the pressure on his throat, Aaron uncaringly pushing down harder.

“Know your place Josten.”

“Know your place.”

Aaron stilled and turned his head, revealing Andrew who saluted Neil with a smile before moving. He gripped tightly to Aaron’s forearm and ripped him away from Neil, moving his arm to reveal a curtain of mist before pushing his brother into it.

Neil slumped down the wall and watched Aaron’s figure disappear entirely in the haze.

“What the fuck?”

Andrew kicked Neil’s shoe before leaning over him, putting his arm on the cabin behind the pair and peered down at the other boy. “We can move through the mist so he’s fine; he should be in the lake.”

Should?”

“Should.”

“You’re insane.”

“He would’ve hurt you.”

Neil scoffed, rubbing his throat as he took in Andrew’s peculiar words. “You don’t owe me anything.”

“Touché, but you’re making things interesting.”

Neil took in his response for a second, then went off on a limb and proceeded to indirectly ask his question. “You can’t protect me like you protect Kevin.”

Andrew raised an eyebrow. “I shouldn’t be surprised you know about that.”

Neil held back his knowing smirk. It was one more question he didn’t have to waste. “I had a hunch; it could be why you’re always around him.”

“Guessing isn’t a game you can always win, Hades son.”

Neil tried to wash away the anger in his eyes by levelling his steady gaze with Andrew, who saw past the façade instantly. “Everyone here has got some daddy issues, Kevin especially, so don’t look so wounded.”

“We’re sons and daughters of God’s, it happens.” Neil replied.

“Not just God’s,” Andrew mused, leaning further down and getting even closer to Neil who squared his shoulders at the intrusion. “We’re demigods Neil; we have a Godly parent and a mortal parent. You know this, I’m sure you do.”

Neil felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise, sensing where the conversation was headed.

“What happened to your mother?”

Fucking asshole. “This is your question?”

Andrew hummed, goose bumps growing increasingly evident on Neil’s skin as the pair locked eyes.

“Yes. What happened to your mother?”

Neil pursed his lips and worked his way through how he was going articulate his next words. He hadn’t told anyone the whole truth about his mother. It had happened a few years past but the image of his mother’s corpse, of the licking flames and the smell – he didn’t know how. But he owed Andrew the truth, a truth that had haunted Neil for years.

“She was killed.”

Andrew let out a sharp laugh. “Obviously.”

“Do you want me to tell you or not?”

“You have to, you know that.”

Neil hit his head on the back of the cabin and sighed. “The Moriyama camp only surfaced in the first place due to their affiliation with the Underworld. Because my mother had her own connections we somehow ended up there, but I feel like my father-” Neil grimaced at the word. “He somehow had a large influence on where I ended up.”

Andrew tapped Neil on the forehead, evidently agitated through his manic smile. “You’re not answering my question.”

“I’m getting there,” Neil said through gritted teeth, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as he unsurfaced all of his unwelcome memories twice in one day. “Because no one at the camp knew who I was they tried feverously to figure out who I belonged to, but my mother … she was able to prevent a lot of the abuse. I don’t know what exactly she did but, it worked.”

Neil then saw vivid images of bruises on his mother’s thighs and arms behind his eyelids and tried not to blink, not wanting to see those horrible images again as he knew where those patterns of thought usually lead. Deep down Neil knew what had happened to her, but he just didn’t want to admit it. The thought made him want to vomit.

“Because I was young I didn’t really show signs of my abilities, when I did it was usually in private as my mother kept me secluded from the rest of the camp.”

“What about Riko?” Andrew asked, his face spread into a smile but his eyes thoroughly interested. Neil was amazed he had stayed silent for this long.

“We met a few times and it was usually with Kevin. He’d hurt me like his family and the others did to find out who my parent was. He’s not as idiotic as he looks, I feel like he had a hunch, maybe he could sense it because of ... i'm not sure."

“I know he’s Zeus’ son.”

Neil breathed a sigh of relief; at least Kevin was smart enough to not omit that truth to Andrew.

“The day of my thirteenth birthday I was claimed by my father. At midnight my whole body turned to ice and I could barely breathe, every inch of my skin was just covered in it. Out of fear of my father and how the Moriyama’s would react, my mother and I fled the camp and didn’t look back.

“I was fifteen, were we hauled up in Iowa,” Neil tried to hide his shaking hands from Andrew, who instead reached for them and held them up in front of the pair. Neil furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, lost at the action, but felt a sudden surge of sureness lift as their hands touched. “My father found us and sent a Fury, you can guess what happened.”

She died.” Andrew sing-songed, Neil flinching at the tone of his voice.

“I burned her body and ran; you should know the rest by now.”

“I only asked what happened to your mother, but you answered maybe two of my other questions without even being provoked,” Andrew said. “Thanks.”

Neil grit his teeth and closed his eyes. Andrew had played Neil like he had intended to play Aaron. “No problem.”

Andrew grinned.

Chapter Text

It was around midnight when a soft, “get up” woke Neil. His eyes took time to adjust to the darkness, Neil sitting up quickly to attack the intruder but stood down as he saw who was hovering over him. Neil was surprised Nicky’s quiet voice was even able to rouse him from his sleep.

“Get up.” Nicky repeated.

Neil blinked. “What?”


“Get up. We’re leaving.”

Neil sat up and looked around the cabin, noticing every single camper was fast asleep – even Matt, who he knew was an extremely light sleeper.

The door was wide open and banging against the cabin, Neil alarmed for a second before noticing a small golden Lyre by the threshold.

He looked back at Nicky who was grinning.

“How the hell did you get that?”

“Son of Apollo’s got his perks.”

Neil wasn’t entirely an expert on Greek Mythology – which was perhaps suicidal given his current predicament – but he knew Apollo was heavily associated with music, leading to Nicky’s obvious talent with the harp.
What Neil wasn’t aware of, was that his talent was able to lull individuals into a deep sleep.

“How long will it last?” Neil asked.

“Not much longer which is why-” Nicky said, moving out of the way so Neil could get out of his bunk. “-it’s time to leave before Wymack finds me doing this again.”

“Why is it a bad thing?” Nicky stared in confusion as Neil climbed out of bed. “The Lyre, why is it a bad thing?”

Nicky chuckled. “Last time I use the Lyre Seth didn’t wake up for a week,” Neil caught the pile of clothes Nicky threw at him. “Although no one was complaining it's supposedly unethical blah blah.”

Neil smiled and looked at the black clothes he was now holding. “What are these for?”

Nicky sent Neil a sly look before dragging him out of the cabin, grabbing the Lyre on the way out. “We’re going out, and no offense but your wardrobe isn’t really up to scratch for where we’re going.”

Neil narrowed his eyes at the thought. “You mean in public?” Being in public had always unnerved Neil; his mother had made sure to etch the fear in him. It meant exposure to any and all threats, Neil always having a fear of larger crowds especially. They were easy to disappear in, but even easier to be taken in. “With the mortals.”

“Well, sort of,” Nicky said as they moved towards the Hecate cabin. “It’s an underground nightclub both figuratively and literally. It’s mostly for creatures like satyrs and other things,” Neil raised an eyebrow at ‘things.’ “But mortals who can see through the mist are often there as well, although most of them are usually try hard assholes.”

Neil thought the whole premise of the outing was strange, but decided to keep his mouth shut.

Andrew was waiting by the Hecate cabin with Aaron and Kevin, all three of them dressed in blacks and otherwise dark colours as they watched Nicky and Neil approach.

“Get changed.” Andrew pointed to the cabin, Neil thankful he didn’t need to ask for privacy. He didn’t want to have to explain his various scars, not just yet. Neil nodded and quickly walked past the trio and into the dark, stone built cabin.

As his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room, he saw two separate beds pushed up against opposite corners of the room. Neil wasn’t surprised in the least.

He emptied the contents of the bag onto the ground, revealing black jeans and a tight grey shirt. Neil groaned. He didn’t exactly enjoy showing off his arms, the scars there were minimal but still prominent.

Neil changed promptly, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the tightness of his jeans as he reopened the cabin door. Only Nicky and Andrew were waiting for him.

Nicky looked Neil up and down and smirked down at Andrew. “Nice choice.”

Neil blinked in confusion. “You chose these?” He asked Andrew who grinned.

“No time for this conversation Neil, we’re late for a very important date.”
As they followed Kevin and Aaron’s retreating figures, Nicky pulled Neil aside.

“Wymack hates when we do this, it’s supposedly, “endangering our safety”” Nicky mocked through air quotations. “But it’s a monthly tradition. You get stir crazy for being here as long as we have.” Nicky smiled down at Neil and slapped him on the shoulder. “Andrew was the one who decided you could come with us. Hence him choosing those clothes for you.”

Neil stopped walking. “Why?”

Nicky shrugged. “Ask him if you want to know. I’ve known him for however many years and I still can’t figure out how he thinks,” Nicky raised an eyebrow and went to speak again but instead kept quiet, shaking his head as if dismissing the thought entirely. “Come on, they’ll leave without us the assholes.”

Neil felt like a broken record after asking so many questions. He dismissed the thought entirely and kept walking, unsure of where the night would take him. Knowing his luck, he expected the worse. 


 

They arrived at the Lotus club not long after midnight, Neil still slightly frazzled from their mode of transport. He wasn’t aware the twins were able to travel such vast distances through the mist, let along take three other people with them. They were stronger combined than Neil had originally anticipated, and it unnerved him immensely.

The line for the club coiled out onto the pavement, the air around them humming with electricity as they approached the bouncer. The tall, dark skinned woman took one look at Kevin through her snake eyes, nodded, and moved out of the way to reveal a steep stairway.

“Thank you Barbara.” Andrew smiled, leading the way down the dark descent of the staircase. Neil, despite his previous nerves, felt his heart racing in either excitement or adrenaline. Perhaps both.

Neil was overwhelmed as they entered the club. There was a sickly sweet aroma coming from the bar, a mass of bodies dressed in eccentric bursts of colour varying in age and species moved throughout the club and the dance floor and far too much velvet and leather for it to be an average nightclub. It overcame his senses entirely, but he felt slightly less uneasy as he stood next to Andrew.

Neil remembered that Andrew was the one who had invited him, and most likely wouldn’t have if he thought Neil would cause them or be in any immediate trouble. Neil couldn’t believe he was giving his trust over to Andrew as easily as he was, but he felt there was somehow a mutual sort of trust developing between them.

“Stay with me and you’ll be fine.” Andrew gave a small two fingered salute before pushing Neil over to an unoccupied table by the wall, getting comfortable as Aaron retrieved the drinks.

“Why do you all come here?” Neil was surprised at how easily he could understand the voices around him, unaware of how it was possible due to the heavy base around them. The air hummed with something strange, Neil didn't want to presume it was something of a magical origin, but he was curious.

“The drugs,” Andrew answered easily, ignoring the shocked look on Neil’s face at his response. “Don't look at me like that it's harmless. Many of the people here are the drugs, you've just gotta know how to get results.”

At Neil’s confused face, Andrew rolled his eyes, reached out and took Neil’s chin in his hand. Neil had no time to react before Andrew turned his head towards the bar.

Nicky was practically draped over a stranger, pushing the unknown man into the bar behind him as he deepened the kiss. As Nicky pulled away his eyes were wide and dazed, a tired grin on his face as he pushed away from the man and moved to another.

Neil looked around the club and noticed Nicky wasn't the only one hooking up with strangers. The majority of the clubs patrons who weren't drinking or dancing were kissing various people.

Neil didn't know what to say. “That's … Different.” Neil presumed they were a type of Siren of some sort, their saliva working as a sort of depressant.

Andrew shrugged. “Safer than cocaine.”

Aaron returned to the table promptly and sat down the various drinks, Kevin and Nicky downing three shots of vodka each before moving back into the crowd.

Andrew finished his drink before standing, looking towards the bar with wandering eyes. “I'm off.” He announced, smiling as he waded through the crowd, leaving only Neil and Aaron at the table.

The two sat in unbearable silence until Neil couldn't handle it any longer. “I'm going to find Kevin.” He muttered.

“Thank god.” He heard Aaron say as he walked off, Neil rolling his eyes at his words. Neil was still heavily maintaining his grudge after what had happened between the pair earlier in the week, the bruise around his neck still slightly prominent.

Neil made sure to avoid the dance floor, instead moving around to corner of the club as he knew Kevin wouldn't be anywhere near the writhing mass of bodies.

It only took a few more aimless laps of the club for Neil to locate him.

A wiry looking woman with bleach blonde hair was draped over a dazed looking Kevin, her bright blue eyes abnormally large as she smiled – baring far too much teeth for Neil to be comfortable with. He hurriedly moved over to the pair as she pulled Kevin into a fervent kiss, Kevin falling limp at her touch as Neil watched from across the room.

As he got closer Neil lifted his hand and forced the girl off of Kevin with his abilities, not even having to touch the girl as she skidded across the ground into the far wall. It was unsettling, as he had only yet learned how to do that with bones and the like.

“Fuck off.” Kevin groaned, pushing Neil back and stumbling into the wall behind him.

Andrew’s words circled his mind, he knew most of what was going on in the club was harmless, but there was something about the woman that unnerved Neil. “She was going to eat you alive Kevin.”

Kevin’s green eyes were glazed over as he slid down the wall, throwing up his hands as Neil moved closer towards him. “She was just going to get me high.” He muttered. “I don’t fucking know, she has this pheromone thing that, you know…” He trailed off, a bright grin suddenly spreading across his face and catching Neil off guard.

“What’s Kevin doing with his face?” Nicky said from next to Neil, who himself was wobbling slightly from the alcohol and any other substance he had taken during the night.

“Help me get him back to Andrew.” Neil felt the desire to leave Kevin where he was, but decided he was more worried for the crowd than Kevin himself. If Kevin passed out and found himself confused and in an unfamiliar dwelling, Neil didn’t want to know what the outcome would be.

Nicky dragged Kevin off the wall by himself and threw him over his shoulder, Neil making a path for the pair as Nicky hummed a pleasant tune behind him. Some of the club’s patrons watched the trio with hungry eyes, Neil ignoring their gaze as best he could.

“You know they can tell we’re demigods, they hate us coming here but they’re too scared to do anything about it,” Nicky said as he dropped Kevin next to Aaron. “I think Kevin has to do with it. The smell of the big three is more pungent than ours.”

Nicky said ours so casually that Neil tried not to flinch; it was a rude reminder that the majority of the camp still had no idea of his true origins.
Needless to say, if what Nicky was saying was true, his presence in the club was most likely bringing more attention than the group was used to.

That could cause a problem.

Neil sat in the chair opposite Kevin whose eyes were now closed as he sat slumped in the booth, Nicky about to wander off to help Andrew at the bar when someone blocked his path. Nicky’s eyes lit up immediately.

“Hey-” The young man pushed Nicky out of the way promptly, causing him to stumble back into Andrew with the tray of drinks. The crash of the glasses woke Kevin from whatever haze he was under, his eyes widening as he took in who was in front of him.

“I just bought those.” Andrew mused, wiping off the vodka from his shirt, raising an eyebrow at Kevin’s reaction as he stared at the other man.

“Tell me you see him as well.” Kevin said slowly in French, Neil’s head snapping to Kevin immediately. He noticed Kevin only muttered to Neil in the other language when they were talking about Riko or each of their checkered pasts.

Kevin sounded as if he was choking when he spoke. “Jean?”

Neil’s stomach dropped.

Kevin scrambled out of the booth and grabbed Neil’s arm, flicking his other hand and building a wall of water, vodka and soda between the group and Jean. Aaron reached out and ran his finger through the liquid, putting it in his mouth before pulling a face. Andrew watched the turn of events with a grin while Nicky just blinked in confusion, swaying slightly where he stood.

He hadn’t been awfully close to Jean when he was in the Moriyama camp, but he knew he was the only person besides Kevin who had been directly associated with Riko himself. His abilities made him dangerous, his affiliation with Riko only strengthening that.

“Kevin you’re making a scene.” Neil could barely understand Jean’s French though the liquid wall, he was more focused on looking at the crowd on the dancefloor who had stopped to watch the commotion. If they caused a scene in public, Wymack would be furious.

“You told me that the next time I’d see you would be because Riko was coming for me,” Kevin replied, his shoulders tense and his voice slightly unsteady. “I’m more than a little concerned Jean.”

“Riko doesn’t know I’m here, but he is the reason why I’m here.”

“Aren’t you a son of Hypnos?” Andrew then asked. “Your kind are not exactly known to be trustworthy. You know, with the whole memory alteration thing.”

Jean looked down in distaste at Andrew. “My kind?” Jean spat in contempt. “I am not someone you want to piss off Minyard. Would you like me to remind you of why you were attempting to steal the Death Mist from Akhlys in the first place? I’m sure you’ve most likely repressed those memories, I’d be glad to resurface them.”

From Neil’s memory, Akhlys was the Protogenos of misery and poison who happened to be the keeper of the Death Mist. What Andrew had to do with an immortal of her calibre was beyond him, and Neil couldn’t lie and say he wasn’t intrigued.

Neil stared at Andrew who didn’t even glance his way. He of course had a grin on his face, but his eyes told a different story – he was immensely irate. Whatever Jean said to him, whatever Neil didn’t understand, most likely had to do with Andrew’s curse.

“Aren’t you just fucking adorable Moreau.” Andrew’s voice was as cheery as it was lethal, Kevin quickly intervening before the conversation could grow in its toxicity. Kevin sprawled his fingers and the water receded, all of the water somehow draining back into the glasses it had originally come from.

“Fine. We’ll talk but not here,” Kevin looked at the crowd watching them wearily. “Come with me.”


 

It was a half an hour after the confrontation when Kevin and Jean returned from the storage room in the club. Jean had asked they talk in private; Andrew, naturally, had been suspicious but had eventually let them go. He had argued that Kevin was more than capable of handling himself, but Neil had noticed how tense he had grown.

“How did it go?” Nicky asked hesitantly, notably more sober than the last time he had spoken to Kevin.

“Tomorrow, we’re done here,” Kevin said, turning to Jean and nodding. “Goodbye Jean.”

Jean looked at Neil for a moment too long before merging back into the now settled crowd, who had long forgotten about the demigods in their presence.

“That was a buzzkill.” Nicky then said as the group moved towards the door, attempting to lighten the mood. None of the group answered, although Neil did pat Nicky on the back to acknowledge he had heard him.

As they got closer to the door, Neil felt a pair of eyes on him. He shrugged it off in an attempt to settle his frayed nerves, still weary after seeing Jean and what his presence likely meant.

He was then unexpectedly violently pulled from the back of the group, Neil swearing and lashing out at whoever had taken hold of him. He caught a glimpse of pale white skin before he was pushed into the darkest corner of the room, someone slamming the back of his head into the wall – momentarily dazing him.

“Hades…” The woman whispered, crowding Neil into the wall and placing her bony hands onto his chest. Neil grit his teeth as he felt her other hand on his cheek, unable to move as multiple other peculiar men and women had swarmed around the pair.

The group started to mutter in Greek, Neil growing increasingly irritated as he had lost sight of Andrew’s lot. They would of course eventually notice he was gone, but Neil was pissed at himself that he of all people had hung by at the back of the group.

It was a stupid mistake, a stupid mistake that had caused him to be in the situation he was in now.

Neil pushed the woman in front of him once again, earning a hiss from her that resulted in the man next to her gripping Neil’s arms and holding them behind his back. Neil then resorted to head butting her, growing desperate as their chants had grown more intense.

Whatever they were doing was making Neil’s skin crawl.

The woman snarled and bared her teeth, huge rows of sharp incisors revealing themselves as she gripped Neil’s cheek, drawing blood that she later licked from his cheek. Neil felt the space around him grow increasingly colder, alarm bells ringing instantaneously.

Neil gasped as he felt his chest contrast, body beginning to shake as a dark aurora moved and wound itself around his body. His eyes were watering and he couldn’t breathe, the group around him seeming unmoved as they continued to relentlessly chant.

“Hello Nathaniel.”

Neil closed his eyes as he heard his father’s voice protrude from the crazed woman. It’s not him, he begged his frantic mind to calm down, it can’t be him it’s not IT’S NOT-

“I had to draw out your power,” The woman, his father, mused interrupting his thoughts. “To make sure it was really you. My son...” Neil shook his head as he felt the woman’s other hand cup his cheeks, shaking at the thought of his father touching him.

“I’m nothing to you.” Neil whispered, channelling his mother’s stern voice to calm his breathing.

“You’re a liability, a powerful liability that I need in my possession,” Neil’s eyes opened, finding himself caught staring into the woman’s eyes; eyes that were once white now an icy blue. His fathers. “Come back to me Nathaniel.”

Neil felt an ache in his chest that wouldn’t reside, writhing away from the woman before he fell into the trance that his father’s gaze often projected.

“I won’t hurt you,” The woman insisted, drawing blood from Neil’s cheeks again as she forced his head forward. “I only killed your mother because she took you away from me.”

“I was never with you,” Neil spat. “I grew up with the Moriyamas-”

“But I was always there watching over you Nathaniel, I had eyes and informants everywhere, much like the woman I’ve taken hold of now, to make sure you grew up optimally.” Neil shook his head, knowing he was only trying to get under his skin.

Where was Kevin? Where was Andrew? “I am not your pet, I am not an object.”

The woman laughed, the sound sending a chill down Neil’s spine. He had heard the exact same unsettling laugh in one of his dreams – his nightmares. “No, but I have found you. Do you think Olympus will treat you as kindly as I have?”

Neil’s mouth went dry at the thought.

“When they find out you are my son, what do you think they’ll do to you Nathaniel? David Wymack can only hide you for so long. Not only will those around you despise you, but the Gods will eat you alive, I can give you a sanctuary, a home.”

Neil had gone completely still. He had thought of this conclusion before, but to hear it from his father made it real. Too awfully real for Neil to stomach.

“I can teach you everything you need to know,” The woman said, her long nails tracing Neil’s cheek as she spoke his father’s words. “That centaur cannot possibly comprehend your abilities, but I can, they are mine and I can share my knowledge Nathaniel. Imagine the power you can possess if you let these mortal emotions die.”

The twisted side of Neil wanted to say yes, wanted to succumb to the temptation and let his father take him back to the Underworld. But the sane part of Neil, the human side of him knew it was suicide, that he couldn’t abandon Wymack or even Kevin.

Neil, despite everything, smiled. “Go to hell.”

Another booming laugh erupted from the woman as her hands wove around Neil’s throat.

“Do not force my hand Nathaniel, I will not hesitate-”

Neil heard a sickening crack, the woman collapsing onto his chest as her head fell limp. Neil looked up to see Andrew standing in front of him, Kevin behind him with his foot on the neck of one of the chanting men, his green eyes ablaze and he stared at Neil.

Neil let out a breath of relief, letting Andrew take his wrist to lead him through the pulsating crowd. “Kevin freaked the fuck out when you were gone,” He spoke casually. “You’re an idiot.”

Neil let out a choked laugh. “Like I asked for that to happen.”

The brisk air was a godsend on his injured cheeks, Nicky hurriedly looking him over with worried eyes. “I’m fine.” Nicky’s eyes only widened at his words but he remained silent.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Kevin hissed from behind Neil, who instead of replying turned and raised an eyebrow. “What the fuck happened?”

“Hades happened.” Neil muttered in French, Kevin jerking back from Neil like he’d been hit. Kevin’s reaction had caught everyone’s reaction, even Aaron looked slightly intrigued. “He was in that woman who had me, I don’t know how, but he spoke to me and it was wonderful.” Neil faked a smile at Kevin whose mouth was still agape.

“Jesus Christ Neil,” Kevin then said in English, looking around at the group before running his hands over his face. “We’ll talk when we get back, I've had enough of this shit tonight to last a lifetime.” Neil couldn't blame him.

“Wymack’s going to kill us.” Nicky murmured. Andrew laughed.

Chapter Text

Neil sat with Matt in a comfortable silence in the Hermes cabin, the younger camp members out on a hike and leaving the more senior members in peace for a few hours.

Neil thought the silence would be suffocating, but it was a welcomed change that Neil was thankful for. After the hectic events of the night before and the discussion with Wymack earlier in the morning, he basked in the peace.

Kevin revealed that Jean was warning him about Riko, that he was planning on coming to talk to Kevin in the near future. “The way he said talk implied something else,” Kevin had added. “I've got no idea what but whatever it is, he’s coming for me.”

Wymack, who Neil presumed was tired enough with the whole ordeal, somehow looked even more alarmed with what Neil had revealed.

Wymack - who was thankful it was only himself, Neil and Kevin in the room at the time - told Neil that he’d handle it, that he’d ensure it wouldn't happen again.

“I’ll sort something out,” Wymack had said, sounding more serious than Neil had ever heard him. “We'll approach Olympus soon, we’ll explain your situation and hope to God they won't incinerate you.”

He had somehow kept Neil hidden at the camp for a month, but Neil wasn’t entirely sure Wymack would be able to protect him from the Gods themselves forever. Neil decided it was best to not voice his concerns and instead stayed silent

“You know you can tell me anything,” Matt then said abruptly, catching Neil off guard as he had grown lost in his thoughts. “Like, if there's anything on your mind, i’m here.”

Neil didn't know how to reply. Something bloomed in his chest that Neil hadn’t felt for years, if ever. It was something alike to friendship - to hope. Neil smiled at Matt who returned the grin.

“It's just, I feel like you're not really part of a group. You're with Kevin and Andrew, then I see you with Allison and I don't know if you ever have someone to really talk to.” Matt groaned before rubbing his eyes. “That came out wrong, I-”

“No, I get it,” Nei interrupted, knowing where Matt’s train of thought was headed. “Thank you.”

Matt fell back onto his bed with a laugh. “I'm so bad at wording things man, but yeah if you ever want a deep chat,” Matt motioned haphazardly with his hands. “-That doesn't need to be too personal, I'm here and I know Dan is too. You don't need to keep everything bottled up, we’re here.”

Neil wasn't used to such easy kindness, but was immensely grateful for it.

Matt suddenly rose from his bed, holding out his hand to Neil and pulling him up as well. “Let’s go for a walk.”

Neil raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

Matt shrugged and started leading Neil out of the cabin. “Fresh air, bonding, you know how it goes,” Neil didn't. “I've known you for a month and I still know barely anything about you man, I feel like the only thing we have in common is our dads.”

Neil suppressed an anxious laugh.
We don't even have that in common.

“So I'm guessing the deep but non personal chat starts now?” Neil asked sarcastically as the pair headed to the tree line, Matt looking down and smirking at him in response.

“Ha ha. Very funny,” Matt said. “You knew what I meant.” Matt pushed his way through a large plant with spidery vines, holding them up so Neil could pass through them. “You know I define deep as whether or not you like pineapple on pizza.”

“I've never eaten that.” Neil responded simply, remembering his mother's distaste for foods high in fat. How is that filth supposed to fuel your body? Neil supposed she was right, it wasn't suitable food for someone on the run who often didn't eat a decent nutritious meal for days on end.

“What pineapple on pizza or pizza in general?” Matt asked, eyes widening as Neil’s silence proved to be enough of an answer. “Oh my god, next time Wymack let's us on an outing we’re going to a pizza joint.”

Neil was thankful Matt didn't ask how or why he had never experienced pizza, and was immensely grateful for him doing so. Neil got the sudden urge to want to tell Matt everything, about his past and his present self, knowing he most likely wouldn't look at him differently. But he couldn't, not yet not yet not-

“That's interesting.”

Matt’s confused voice broke Neil out of his thoughts. He turned, not realizing he’d wandered partially away from Matt, and saw the other boy edging himself closer to the adjacent lake.
Neil walked over and saw what it was that Matt was so intrigued with.

Neil looked down into the clear water and saw a figure hovering slightly below the surface of the water, long hair flowing out behind the dark shape as the boys watched on.

“Is it a water Nymph?” Matt asked, crouching down to get a better look at the creature. Neil stepped closer onto the bank, peering down in curiosity as the creature - the girl - broke the surface of the water. Her hair was done in intricate colourful braids that drew a stark contrast to the dark shade of her skin as she observed Matt, who sent her a friendly smile in return.

The girl eventually rested her eyes on Neil, hesitating for a moment before her beautiful face contorted into something ugly. Matt send Neil a look and stepped back from the lake, Neil watching the girl intently as she hissed at him, brown eyes darkening into black orbs and she pushed herself further out of the water.

“We should go.” Matt insisted, about to take Neil’s arm to pull him back into the tree line when the girl lashed out at the pair. Matt threw Neil behind him who stumbled slightly in the sand, three jagged, and bloody cuts now blooming through Matt’s orange shirt.

Neil, hoping Matt was distracted enough by his bleeding chest, solidified the shadow of the tree next to him, using it to forcefully push the girl back into the water as she hissed at the pair. As Matt turned back to Neil, he dropped his hand as well as his hold over the shadow, his eyes slightly wide as he checked Neil over for any injuries.

Matt then straightened, looking at something behind him with a strange expression on his face. “You know you've never told us what actually lives in this lake of yours. Now we know.”

Kevin.

Neil watched as Kevin completely bypassed the pair, his green eyes scanning the water in front of him for any sight of girl, the creature, that had attacked them.

“She's a Limnad and her name is Thea,” Kevin muttered, throwing up his hand and forcing the water of the lake ten or so metres back from the bank. “And you pissed her off. Thank you.”

“We didn't do anything,” Matt insisted. “She took one look at Neil and freaked out.”

Kevin showed no sign of caring, instead focusing on the wounds Matt was bearing. “Those will get infected. Come here.” Kevin motioned Matt to sit down by the tree stump near Neil, who moved to give them some space.

Matt sat in confusion, letting out a shocked shout as Kevin ripped his shirt and threw it at Neil. “Dude, now isn't the time for-” Matt sputtered, Neil not ignoring Kevin’s warning glare as he watched Matt.

“Her nails hold a toxin,” Kevin insisted. “The wounds are deep, you’ll be dead within a week if it's not treated properly.”

Matt laughed nervously, catching Neil eye who only shrugged. “He’s the doctor not me.” Kevin merely only rolled his eyes at Neil.

Kevin then held up his hand, Neil instinctively expecting a blow and stepping back instantly, but instead found himself watching a burst of water soar from the lake and into Kevin’s awaiting palm.

Neil blinked in response as Kevin moved the water to Matt’s chest, Neil watching intently as the water flushed out faint traces of the green toxin as Kevin cleaned the wound.

Matt looked at Kevin, speechless, as his hand rested on his chest over the water. The wound begun to heal instantaneously, Kevin looking slightly bored as he turned to Neil. His eyes screamed we’re talking about this later, but Neil wasn't phased.

He was too focused on Kevin using his powers willingly to help someone to care. It was slightly jarring, and a turn from what Neil knew Kevin used to do at the Moriyama camp.

Matt gasped as Kevin pulled his hand away, no trace of the initial wound on his olive skin. Matt traced where the marks used to be with his fingers, dark eyes searching Kevin’s unusually open face.

Matt smiled. “So Kevin Day does have a heart.”

Kevin’s expression changed dramatically as he sneered, Neil spotting the faint softness to his eyes as he did so. “Dan and the others would kill me if I let you die.”

Matt only smirked. “I'm sure Abby would have been just as capable to help me.” Neil hid his faint smile under a cough, basking in the faint darkening of Kevin’s ears as he stammered for words.

“Go find a shirt.” Kevin eventually muttered, pulling the lake water back to the bank, confident now that no creatures would be interrupting them.

Matt nodded before walking off back to camp, quickly noticing Neil’s presence wasn't next to him. Neil had faltered, wanting to confront Kevin about why he’d helped Matt. “You coming man? I’ve still got to learn your favourite colour and song…” Neil decided to zone out Matt’s words as he took one final look at Kevin.

Kevin was still standing by the tree stump, looking thousands of miles away as he stared into the lake ahead of him. Kevin, feeling Neil’s piercing gaze, merely only looked at him through a side eye.

Neil was annoyed that he only had the truth exchange with Andrew, as a thousand and one questions rattled his mind as he stared at Kevin in that moment.


 

After the events of the morning, Neil didn't think packing up the ropes from the climbing wall would be how he would spend his afternoon.

Wymack had offered and he had agreed, not wanting to irritate Wymack as his mere presence most likely aged him ten or so years.

He had also accepted the task as he thought it would give him some needed extra time alone, to give him more time to work through the events of the past day to calm his frayed mind.

Neil was wrong.

“I know you're not who you say you are.”

Neil had almost completely forgotten Seth Gordon existed.

“I've seen you with Minyard, you’ve definitely got some secrets.”

Neil ignored Seth and continued to wrap the climbing wall ropes around his hands, focusing intently on what he was doing to zone out Seth’s incoherent jeering.

“What the fuck is your deal anyway?” Seth continued, moving closer to Neil. “I've never even seen you show any signs of being Hermes son, you're like a polar opposite of everyone in that cabin Boyd especially.”

“I don't see how it's any of your concern.” Neil drawled, pushing down the anger rising within him.

“It’s my concern when you're a threat,” Seth hissed. “Nobody knows where you came from, why you make everyone so nervous and why Kevin has such an interest in you.”

Neil was growing increasingly irate, deciding to grit his teeth instead of reacting with a smart retort. Seth wanted a reaction, Ares children usually did, but Neil wouldn't allow a blow up.

“I've had a pretty shitty couple of days,” Neil retorted. “I would highly appreciate it if you’d leave.” Neil spoke to Seth like he was a child, deciding it was the only way to deal with an intolerable brat.

Neil counted to twenty in every language he knew to combat the rising tension within, biting his tongue to prevent any scathing words.

“Don't tell me you're boning,” Seth spat, pure disgust in his voice as he spoke. “God, you're fucking faggots like Hemmick aren't you?”

Neil stopped counting.

Neil threw the ropes to the ground and violently shoved Seth’s shoulders, the taller boy stumbling and falling to the ground - not expecting Neil to retaliate so abruptly.

“Don't you fucking dare say that word,” Neil hissed. “If you say it again you will regret it.”

Neil knew Seth was an asshole, and he’d always guessed that was the reason why he looked at Nicky and Erik the way he did. This although was a new revelation, the homophobic slur giving Neil even more of an incentive to hate him.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Seth found his footing and got in Neil’s face, pushing him back into the climbing wall and slamming his hand beside Neil to box him in. “What could you possibly do, you're half my size.”

“Don't test me,” Neil simply said, keeping his face impassive as he stared at Seth. “You know what Andrew or even Aaron could do to you, and they're only five feet tall.”

Seth contemplated his words for a moment, his dark eyes brooding as he devoured Neil with his gaze. “I couldn't give a fuck about those faggots-”

Neil moved swiftly, gripping Seth’s throat and spinning the pair around to switch positions. Seth choked as Neil pulled him down to eye level, icy blue eyes ablaze as he squeezed down further on his throat.

The earth around them begun to shake, Seth’s eyes widening as vines from the ground wound around his hands to hold him in place. “What did I tell you?” Neil asked calmly, doing his best to not feel pleasure in Seth’s growing fear.

The dark vines begun to weave around Seth’s chest, who gasped as thorns begun to grow and pierce his skin. Neil hummed, hyper aware and reminded of all of the various times Andrew had made the condescending sound in the face of an annoyance. “Where did all that bravado go Gordon?”

Seth opened his mouth to speak, a strangled noise erupting from his throat as Neil’s menacing grip tightened. Neil hated this side of him, hated how easily it was to provoke out of him, but he couldn't push down the urge to hurt Seth.

He deserves it, he heard his father’s voice say in delight, do it-

“Neil?” He heard a familiar voice say from behind him, Neil instantly dropping Seth and residing the coiled vines. He calmed down the pull of his abilities in record time and turned to see Nicky standing with Erik, both of their eyes wide with confusion as they watched Seth gasp for air.

“What were you…” Nicky trailed off his words and shook his head, Neil ignoring Erik’s confused and piercing gaze. Neil didn't know how to read Erik, he’d only seen him a handful of times, and didn't know what that gaze entailed.

“Uh, anyway we were going down to the lake for some drinks at nightfall. Andrew told me to come find you, and here you are.” Neil hated how lost and slightly fearful Nicky sounded as he spoke to him.

Neil nodded, ignoring Seth scrambling to his feet and moving as quickly away from Neil as possible. Nicky did the same, although Erik didn't.

“Nick, how about you go find Allison, she wasn't with us when Dan recommended the lake.” Nicky nodded as he squeezed his boyfriend’s hand. He then walked in the direction of the dining pavilion, turning back to glance at the remaining pair before his figure disappeared behind the trees.

“I've never spoken a word to you,” Erik then said, Neil hanging slightly on his words. “Which is why it may sound strange when I tell you whatever that was, won't stay hidden for long.”

Neil crossed his arms and pulled them tighter to his chest, not liking the feeling of an almost stranger being able to read him like this. Renee had done it, now Erik, and Neil felt like he was counting down the days until his secret was out. “I know.”

“Whatever it is,” Erik added. “The fallout better not hurt Nicky, he’s had enough people in his life fail him.” Neil’s eyebrow quirked at that, but didn't get to ask as Erik had already headed back in the direction of the camp.



“Where’s Kevin?” Nicky asked as he got comfortable next to Erik, sliding his hand around his waist as Erik rested his head on his shoulder.

It was around sunset when Andrew’s lot has eventually wandered down to one of the many clearings by the lake, the clear water still and glistening in the orange light that shone through the trees. It was beautiful, and Neil couldn't blame Kevin for wanting to reside here as often as he could.

“Coming,” Aaron muttered, already fishing through the bag for his drinks and heavily ignoring even looking at his cousin. “He hates when anyone even looks at the lake so I doubt he’d be in a good mood.”

Aaron didn't look up at Neil when he handed him a beer, impatiently shaking it as Neil took too long to reach for it. “What, don't tell me you're straight edge?”

It hadn’t even been five minutes and Neil was already beginning to lose his patience with Aaron. “Did you see me drink at the club?”

Aaron rolled his eyes. “I prefer not to look at you at all.”

“Play nice,” Andrew said as he cradled a packet of ice, leaning down to the sandbank and placing it in a shallow hole to keep it cool. “You saw what happened last time.”

Aaron scoffed and went off to sit by himself, Neil hearing laughter as he saw the others break the tree line and move in the direction of the lake.

Neil noticed Seth was a part of the group and suppressed the irritation coiling in his stomach. He didn't know whether or not Seth would tell anyone about what he’d seen Neil do, so he was naturally cautious.

Dan beamed at Neil as she held up her drinks. “I feel like I haven't seen you for a lifetime.” She leant forward and gave him a slightly awkward hug, taking Matt’s hand who nodded at Neil as they moved to the fire.

“Where did you get all them?” Neil then asked as Allison pushed a large cooler with her, Neil peering over and seeing huge array of drinks inside it.

“Nothing like a little power of persuasion,” Allison winked, smirking down at Erik who merely only shook his head and laughed. “I love being Aphrodite’s daughter, it's wonderful.”

“And being young and filthy rich.” Nicky added, raising his drink to Allison who did the same.

“You got me there Hemmick.”

As the group settled into a circle around the small fire, Neil huddled between Nicky and Andrew, cradling his replaced soda in his hands as he took in the conversations of the group. He stayed mostly silent, feeling immensely out of place as he watched the other’s converse.

He felt he was slowly but surely getting to know those around him, some more than others, but didn't exactly know what to speak to them about without revealing too much of his past or true identity. It made it slightly awkward, but Matt had proven this morning that general conversing wasn't too overly difficult.

“Smile a little sunshine,” Andrew whispered, taking a swig of his drink as he watched the flames intently. “It’s more awkward if you don't speak, or is that what you're worried about?”

Neil raised an eyebrow. “I don't feel like talking, it’s fine.” Neil saw the irritation spark in Andrew’s eyes as he said those words, but didn't call it out.

Neil heard something rustle in the tree line behind them and turned around instinctively, Nicky too tipsy to notice the abrupt movement and Andrew too good at holding his liquor to not notice.

Andrew then looked up at the now night sky with a smirk before turning back to Neil. “Don't tell me you're afraid of the dark.”

“I'm more afraid of what's hiding in the dark.” Neil spoke uncomfortably, not being able to get the thought of eyes watching him out of his mind.

“That's incredibly stupid of you,” Andrew said bluntly, eyes locked on Kevin’s approaching figure as he spoke. “You can control shadows and your father is Hades, the dark and everything residing inside it should be afraid of you.”

Neil supposed he had a point. “Are you afraid of anything?”

“Is this part of our game?”

“Only if you want it to be.”

Andrew’s smile widened at his words, although he had a look in his eyes that told Neil the conversation wasn't as comical as Andrew’s mania made it out to be. “Don't tell me you actually want to get to know me.”

Neil shrugged. “Does that worry you?”

Andrew was silent for a moment, handing Kevin his vodka who muttered a thank you as be started walking over the lake. “Heights.” He eventually answered.

Neil blinked, confused for a moment before taking in Andrew’s words. “Oh.”

“What did you expect?”

“Nothing as mundane as that.”

Andrew moved slightly to the side to give some room for Renee to sit, who smiled at Neil sweetly as she took a sip of her water. Her eyes, although kind, looked slightly ferocious in the heat of the flames. Neil shifted uncomfortably at the sight, but smiled back regardless.

“Now if you excuse me,” Andrew said, throwing his empty whiskey in Kevin’s direction. Neil didn't bother turning when he heard Kevin swear, instead focusing on Andrew’s beaming smile as he dodged a flying rock. “I need to discuss politics and corruption with Renee. Goodbye.”

Andrew turned away completely with his back facing Neil, who decided to himself turn away and face the direction of the lake. The chatter around him died down as he lost himself in his thoughts, Neil unable to drag him eyes away from Kevin who himself looked deep in thought. Neil didn't want to know what he would thinking right now, but he had his assumptions.

Riko was coming for him. It could be tomorrow or it could take weeks; but he was coming. Neil wanted to sympathize, as his father’s presence was closer than it had been for years, but he felt he couldn't possibly relate to Kevin as his and Riko’s relationship was complicated and so much more personal.

“I can almost hear you thinking.” Matt said as he sat down next to Neil, pulling his long legs up to his chest as he rested his head on his knees. Neil, although still thoroughly apart of the group of camp members, felt slightly secluded when he sat with Matt.

He didn't know if it was Matt’s carefree presence or his easy way of speaking, but Neil was immensely grateful for it nevertheless.

Neil only nodded in response, but Matt didn't seem phased. “You know Seth’s been glaring at you this whole time,” Neil perked up at Matt’s words who just laughed. “What did you do?”

“Who says I did anything?”

“Oh come on, I know your little introvert heart can drag anyone’s asses if you're in the mood.” Neil coughed to hide his laugh, Matt seeing the smile on Neil’s face and grinning fondly. “You should do that more man, I hate that nervous look on your face all the time.”

Neil didn't mind if it was the liquor that was talking, he still appreciated every word that come out of Matt’s mouth. “Easier said than done.”

Similarly to the morning Neil sat with Matt in a comfortable silence, thoughts of Riko and his father etched from his mind completely.

For now.

 

Chapter Text

There was a violent knocking on the Hermes cabin door that woke even the deepest of sleepers. Alvarez, who was known to sleep through even a mass explosion, waking with a yell as she hit her head on the bunk above her.

Matt easily slid out of bed for the door, opening it slightly to speak to whoever it was. There was a moment of hushed whispers, Matt’s shoulders tensing incredibly as he turned to look at his curious camp members.

His eyes held something Neil hadn't ever seen before on Matt; fear. A surge of anger lifted inside him, Neil wanting to destroy whatever had caused the aberrant hysteric look on Matt’s face.

“Neil come with me, the rest of you go back to sleep.”

There were groans of protest and wonder, Matt raising his voice as he repeated himself, his step brothers and sisters not knowing how to react as they had rarely seen that side of Matt.

Matt turned back to Neil, his dark eyes ablaze with emotion. “Neil, now.”

Neil moved swiftly, throwing on his shoes and a jacket as he followed Matt through the threshold, unable to read the situation or Matt’s unusual reaction. He kept silent as they moved to the Big House, not wanting to speak to give Matt time to process whatever was happening.

He was clearly irate and shaken, and Neil guessed whatever it had happened was immensely serious to unveil such a reaction in Matt.

“Know that I'm not angry at you,” Matt finally said as they mounted the stairs of the Big House. “It's-” Matt cut himself off as he thought, hesitating by the door with crossed arms. “Aaron didn't say much but I … You’ll see.”

Neil felt the unmistakable pang of anxiety flare in his chest. What was happening?

Neil saw Kevin standing by the wall as he walked in behind Matt, his shoulders tense as he stood still perched against the wall. He turned as he heard footsteps, looking drained as he stared over at Neil.

“What happened?” Neil dared to ask.

“Nicky had a premonition,” Kevin muttered, Neil’s eyes widening at his words. “Take a guess at what he saw.”

Neil narrowed his eyes as his mind whirled, eventually resting on the worst thought he could articulate. The only reason for Neil to even be involved would be if Nicky saw Neil’s abilities. Or perhaps Nicky saw his father coming for him, or Nicky saw Nathaniel-

Neil clenched his jaw and pushed past Matt, hurrying down the hall and rounding the corner to Wymack’s office. He saw Nicky sitting on the floor with a blanket huddled around him, looking at the wall with a blank expression on his face as Abby rubbed circles into his back.

“Neil.” Wymack’s gruff voice caught his attention. Neil turned and saw Wymack’s large figure hidden behind the protruding wooden desk, a bottle of vodka cradled in his hands as he looked seconds away from breaking his passive façade. “I usually don't condone Kevin drinking away his problems, but he’s onto something.”

“I didn't know children of Apollo had the ability to foresee the future.” Neil managed to say, getting straight to the point as he wasn’t sure how to handle the situation unfolding.

“They have a varying capacity for it,” Wymack took a swing of the vodka and pulled a face, dropping it back down on the bench and shaking his head. “It happened when he was sleeping.”

He's right here,” Nicky croaked resulting in Neil, forgetting for a moment he was there entirely, jerking slightly, off guard. “In case you forgot. And he would really appreciate it if you could explain what the fuck he saw.” Nicky added, looking close to tears as he spoke.

Neil swallowed hard, ignoring Wymack’s warning glare as he walked over and crouched in front of Nicky. “What did you see Nicky?”

Nicky’s jaw ticked as he searched Neil’s face for something, eventually sighing and leaning closer to Neil as if to shield the world from what he was about to reveal.

“You were-” He began, shaking his head and rephrasing his sentence entirely. “There was a man, he was on the ground and you, you were there doing … I don't know, I've never seen anything like it before.” Nicky looked like he was struggling articulating what he’d seen. “The ground was shaking, you were smiling … I've never seen you look like that before.”

Neil felt the immediate instinct to run.

“What did it mean Neil?” Nicky then asked, staring at the other boy like he was his lifeline. “I know what I saw, it's going to happen later on but it can't, right? You're not like that, you can't be.”

Neil wanted to tell Nicky he was correct, that he wasn't like the person he had seen in his premonition, that his actions - whatever he had truly seen - was an impossibility beyond Neil’s capacity.

But Neil couldn't find it in himself to lie to Nicky.

There was a part of Neil, swept away and concealed from the world, that was capable of such unspeakable acts. Neil himself was not at a full understanding of what he was capable of, which indisputably unnerved him.

“Neil?”

Neil stayed silent.

Nicky’s eyes widened as he got no immediate reply. He looked over at Kevin as he stood in the doorway, as if Kevin had the answers to all of his questions.

“What the fuck-?”

“Not now Nicky,” Wymack interrupted, looking even more tired than before. “Go back to Apollo with Abby, please.”

Nicky took one final look at Neil before standing, dazed and slightly irate as he was escorted out of the room.

Neil took a shaky breath and ran his hands through his now full cascade of auburn hair, any trace of brown gone completely as he grew to look increasingly more and more like his father. “He’s going to hate us.”

Kevin shook his head. “He doesn't have the heart to hate us. Luckily for you, it's not how he is.”

“We can explain everything to him in the morning if you’d like.” Wymack said, Neil straining to look up at Wymack’s stern face in the position he was in, kneeling in front of the open floor space where Nicky had previously resided.

“I don't want him to know, not like this.” Neil wanted to secure his relationship with Nicky, and wanted to explain his true origins to him on his own terms.

“Okay. So now that that's over,” Wymack started, walking back over to his desk and handing the bottle of vodka to Kevin who took it graciously. “Nicky saw you using your abilities and it scared the fuck out of him, so whatever it was was serious, understand?”

“Obviously.” Neil replied dryly, catching himself staring at his hands in front of them. Perhaps if he stared hard enough they’d stop shaking.

“This is going to happen in the near future-”

“And there is nothing we can do about it.” Neil said, ignoring Kevin’s combined frown and side eye.

“We could increase the intensity of your training to prevent aspects of whatever Nicky saw.” Wymack suggested, going off on a limb despite knowing what was already set in stone. “We obviously don't exactly know what's going to trigger this but-”

“Take him to Betsy.” Kevin muttered, catching the attention of Wymack who shook his head harshly in response.

“No,” Kevin opened his mouth to interject but Wymack threw up his hand in response. “No Kevin, it's not an option. She hasn't given a prophecy to anyone in years, and the last time it was an incoherent mess no one could decipher. It’ll be futile and a waste of our time.” He repeated.

“This isn't a coincidence,” Kevin retorted sternly, moving to a hushed and vicious whisper as to not alarm the remaining occupants of the room. “No one in the Apollo cabin has had a precognition for years and Betsy hasn't had a prophecy for years either. This is important and we shouldn't let the opportunity pass.”

Wymack pondered Kevin’s words for a moment before swearing under his breath, taking another swing of alcohol before replying. “Fine, fine. But if anything goes wrong so help me god Kevin-”

“She's a sack of bones,” Kevin argued as he cautiously grabbed Neil’s arm and begun to lead him towards the doorway. “We’ll be fine.”

“Since when did you start using some of Neil’s vocabulary?” Andrew said cheerily from the threshold, smiling as he acquainted Neil with his two fingered salute.

Kevin watched Andrew carefully, a glint of something in his eyes that Neil didn't quite understand. “What did you hear?”

“Enough to know that time is scarce and Betsy’s bones need to be thoroughly rattled.” Andrew pondered his words for a moment before speaking again, grinning as he did so. "Or would a date with fate be more relevant?" 

“Are one of you going to tell me who the hell Betsy is?” Neil asked as the trio mounted the stairs, looking up at Kevin who sent him a concerned look.

Andrew answered easily. “What an unusual farce, you don't even know what predicament you're about to encounter. She’s our friendly Neighbourhood Oracle that only works once in a blue moon due to service maintenance.”

Neil blinked in surprise as he decoded Kevin and Wymack’s previous conversation. “So what's the point of even seeing her? We know what's going to happen, Nicky’s already told us. And even if she even does speak she won't give me a straight answer, you both know how Oracle’s work.”

“Oh, I'm aware. It's why i’m here.” Andrew grinned, Neil watching as the latch of the attic door swung down without being promoted. A ladder cascaded from the darkness, Andrew instantly starting to climb without further instruction.

Neil took a quick glance at Kevin, noticing how tense he had grown as the presence of the Oracle beckoned. Neil’s best guess was that Wymack had suggested the Oracle to Kevin when he had arrived at the camp seven years prior, and that it hadn't gone down as well as they had planned. But yet Kevin was the one who had proposed the Oracle in the first place, so what reason would he have be anxious?

“She's our best shot at preparing for the inevitable.” Kevin said as he followed Andrew into the attic, speaking as if he though Neil’s gaze on him was due to unease.

Neil then stepped up the runs cautiously, moving quickly into the room before the ladder started to fold itself back up. Kevin looked behind them as the door slammed behind the pair, the darkness overwhelming before small torches begun to light up around them.

Neil walked forward and spotted Andrew, who was already perched adjacent to the figure slumped over in the chair in the centre of the room. It was a mummified woman, her hair still evident and wound into her skull as she sat hunched over and still in her long flowing sundress. Her eyes, although sunken deep into her skull, seemed glassy and prominent despite the decayed rest of her body.

It was everything that Neil hadn't expected.

“She’s dead.” Neil said, earning a short laugh from Andrew. The noise eerily echoed throughout the room, the manic tinge setting goosebumps upon Neil’s skin.

“Thank you Neil, we hadn't noticed,” Andrew then mused. “I thought she looked slightly under the weather.”

Kevin, after shaking his head in frustration at the pair, moved in front of Neil and opened his mouth to speak, the figure - Betsy - becoming reanimated almost instantly.

Her body jerked forward as a deep green mist cascaded out of her mouth around her, the tendrils coiling around the trio as they stood before (and adjacent) to her. Neil watched in awe as she started to chant, no noise resonating from her mouth but instead echoing in his mind.

I am the spirit of Delphi, speaker of the prophecies of Phoebus Apollo, slayer of the mighty Python. Approach seeker, and ask.

Neil turned to Kevin who motioned haphazardly with his hands, hurrying him to speak. Neil stepped forward and asked with slight uncertainty, “What does our future hold?” Kevin sent Neil a scathing look, Neil shrugging as he had no idea what to ask.

The green mist doubled in size as it hovered among Kevin, Andrew and Neil, Andrew watching in amusement as Betsy’s bones begun to rattle. Kevin looked on edge while Neil stayed hopeful, itching forward and waiting for what felt like an eternity for Betsy to speak his, or perhaps their, fate.

The mist abruptly thickened, swirling and darting around the room and eventually morphing into a person, a woman, that Neil didn't find familiar. Although by Andrew’s snort, he most definitely recognized her. The eerie thrum of her voice coiled around Neil’s mind once more as Betsy’s voice sounded from the woman. “The unsound will be retrieved anew, what remains a hallow few.

The mist then doubled in size, filling up the entirety of the room as a large and incomprehensible shape rose from the depths of it. Neil saw piercing blue eyes and instantly closed his own, the voice sending goosebumps across his skin as Betsy spoke through the figure once more. “The brewer of death the kin will rise, but what will come is thundering skies.”

Neil heard Kevin’s sharp intake of breath as Riko himself emerged from the mist, his cruel and animated smile etched on his face as he stared directly at Kevin. It was only an illusion, but to Neil it felt as if Riko was truly in the room with them. “A kingdom will fall as one succeeds, the epitome of power it will breed.”

Riko dissolved as ten shapes took his place, Neil only able to pick out a few familiar faces - those of his camp mates - before they all collectively fell into a heap in the haze. “Nine will rise as one will fall, all fate rested on a fatal call.”

Betsy’s decayed body jerked back as the green mist resided, the candles in the room flickering before fading entirely. Neil’s eyes only took a moment to adjust to the darkness, finding the hatch of the attic door and kicking violently until it opened. He needed air desperately to stomach what he had just witnessed.

He watched as the room clouded with light, Neil having no time to move before Kevin pushed past him to hurry down the ladder. Neil turned as he heard Kevin choke, closing his eyes as if to shield himself from the sound of Kevin vomiting.

“Oh dear, who's going to clean that up?” Andrew said as he moved next to Neil, who merely only raised an eyebrow in response. “He’s a little on edge, don't you think?”

“A little?”

“Well you heard what she said,” Andrew shrugged as he peered down at Kevin’s hunched form on the staircase. “Quite foreboding, wasn't it? Although I did quite appreciate how we each got our own little prophecy, it was a nice touch. Like a nice cherry on top of a morbid ice cream.”

Neil was still working through piecing together the prophecy in his mind, and caught himself lost at Andrew’s words. “You mean the prophecy was directed at all three of us?”

“All but the last line, sunshine. That one was broad, much like your stupid question.”

Neil shook his head in exasperation. “I had no idea what to ask i’ve never spoken to an Oracle before, no one told me what to do. ”

“I’ll tell you what to do now if you’d like,” Andrew mused, Neil furrowing his eyebrows at the peculiar tone of his voice. It held a deadly edge that Neil was instantly wary of. “Do not tell Wymack a word of what we just heard.”

Neil’s eyes widened. “Andrew what-?”

“I told you, don't,” He replied, an easy smile on his face as he looked seemingly bored with the conversation, even if it was as serious as not telling Wymack about what they had just encountered. “Tell him she said nothing, that she didn't even move. Your whole life is a lie so this should be easy for you.”

“We can't not tell him,” Neil insisted as the pair moved down the ladder and onto the stairwell. “It's important. What about Kevin, what's stopping him from telling Wymack.”

Andrew looked at Kevin’s hunched over figure with a curious expression. “You really think he's in any state to speak?”

“Not now, but later on-”

“He won't.” Andrew said, his tone cheary but definite as he ceased the conversation. “Do not tell him Neil. He’s under enough pressure and pressure leads to mistakes. Nobody wants that, correct?”

Andrew them moved closer to Neil, so close that Neil could indicate a sprinkle of faint freckles that encompassed Andrew’s nose. “Do what you hate most and trust me Hades’ son.”

Neil raised his chin, Andrew’s words circulating in his mind. What I say goes, you’ll learn eventually.

“What choice do I have?”

Andrew grinned. “Tell me if you find any other alternatives, i’d love to hear them.”

Andrew collected Kevin and left Neil alone in the stairwell, his knuckles white as he gripped onto the railing.

Wymack was one of the only people currently in Neil’s life that he trusted, and defying him seemed entirely outlandish.  Neil knew Andrew had his motives, he always did, but he had yet to uncover Andrew’s current intentions. 

As Neil tried to piece together Andrew’s motives, Betsy’s haunting voice continued to weave it's way through his mind, irritating him even more.

The unsound will be retrieved anew, what remains a hallow few.
The brewer of death the kin will rise, but what will come is thundering skies.
A kingdom will fall as one succeeds,
the epitome of power will breed.
Nine will rise as one will fall,
all fate rested on a fatal call.

The railing cracked under the pressure of Neil’s grip.

Chapter Text

It had been two days since the prophecy came to light.

It had also subsequently been two days since Nicky had seen Neil’s fate and two days since Neil promised to omit the truth from Wymack. In Neil’s eyes, both were distasteful and left a foul presentment reside in his stomach.

His thoughts were interrupted but a familiar voice, a voice he had been avoiding like the plague. “Why is it that whenever you sulk you look like you're in immense pain?” Neil turned to look at Andrew with a scowl.

He was sitting in the clearing in the aftermath of his and Wymack’s training, his muscles and mind aching after the intensity of the mornings coaching. Wymack wanted to be prepared for whatever hit the camp first; either Riko or Neil himself.

Both options terrified him immensely.

“It's your fault,” Neil replied, craning his head awkwardly to look up at Andrew hovering above him. “I don't like lying to Wymack.” Neil felt he owed everything he currently had to Wymack, he was understandably irate.

A lazy smirk worked its way onto Andrew’s lips. “May I reiterate that your entire life is a lie?”

Neil scoffed. “You don't need to remind me.”

Andrew kicked the dirt below him in response, humming away a tune as he begun walking circles around Neil. It reminded Neil of a lion stalking its prey, but he couldn't find it in himself to feel threatened.

He had begun to grow a tolerance for Andrew, said tolerance morphing into something else entirely the more Neil articulated their interactions. Whatever they were toying with was dangerous, but Neil couldn't find it within himself to stop.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Andrew stopped walking. “Are we still playing that game?”

“You haven't said stop, so yes.”

Andrew’s jaw ticked.

Neil took a deep breath before asking, “Why do you and Aaron hate each other?”

The harsh and brisk laugh that bellowed from Andrew alarmed Neil immensely; it sounded like it was tearing him apart from the inside out. “He doesn't hate me, he-” Andrew for a jarring moment looked lost, unsure of how to finish his sentence. “We’re indifferent.”

“That doesn't answer my question.”

Andrew narrowed his eyes slightly, deciding to sit directly in front of Neil. His hazel eyes watched Neil intently, the ghost of a grin prominent on his face as Neil waited for what felt like an eternity for a concrete answer.

“You really want to know?”

“Why else would I have asked.”

Andrew’s eyebrows raised slightly at Neil’s response. “Okay. I killed his mother.”

Neil choked on air.

Andrew watched him curiously as he continued coughing, looking amused as Neil hit his own chest and gasped for needed air. “You're … Kidding, right?” Andrew and Aaron’s mother was the Goddess Hecate, so it was an impossibility.

“No. I killed his adoptive mother,” Neil’s eyes widened at the casual tone to Andrew’s voice; it was as if he was commenting on something as mundane as the weather. “Don't tell me you thought I killed Hecate? You're not that idiotic, Neil.”

“No, no I … Just warn me next time you talk so casually about death.”

Andrew had the audacity to seem displeased, as displeased as a manic Andrew could be. “Why? Does it remind you too much of yourself.” Neil tensed at his words, but Andrew persisted. “You grew up around death Neil, it's not a foreign concept-”

“That doesn't mean I like it.” Neil retorted, his voice firm as he regarded Andrew.

Andrew held up his hands and hummed, not speaking as if to give Neil a fraction more time to process his words.

When Neil had fully calmed down and felt like he could speak again, he continued prodding Andrew for answers. “So, you killed his adoptive mother. Why?”

“She beat him,” Andrew’s tone was yet again casual, but Neil could hear the underlying strain. “I told her what would happen if she touched him again. She didn't listen, so I-” Andrew clicked his fingers, a flame igniting from his palm and igniting the entirety of his hand.

Neil, understanding the implications of his words, caught himself entranced in watching the flames dance in and around Andrew’s fingers. “You burnt her alive.”

“I did what I had to.”

Neil frowned. “So, if you were protecting Aaron from being beaten why is he so indifferent towards you?”

Andrew didn't answer, closing his palm and dissipating the flame licking at his fingers as he moved closer to Neil. Neil swallowed hard and dared not to move back, feeling Andrew’s hot breath on his cheeks as he watched the other boy for a reaction.

“I took away what he valued most,” Andrew muttered, Neil’s eyebrows furrowing at his words. “A lifeline. Without her he was stuck with me in Nicky’s care. He was still bitter that I rejected ever meeting him while I was in foster care-”

“Foster care? Andrew-”

Andrew hovered his hand over Neil’s mouth, making a point to not touch him as he leaned almost entirely over Neil chest. “Shh. That's another story for another time. This whole farce is far too complicated for your constant rebuttals.”

Neil shook his head. “No, it’s really not complicated. You did Aaron a favor by killing his mother and he hates you for it, not because she was his lifeline, but because you killed her. People don't react kindly to murder Andrew-”

“Murder?” Andrew pondered.

“You killed someone-”

“Someone who deserved to die.” Andrew spat, Neil taken aback by the abrupt fierceness and vindictiveness of his tone. Neil, so used to Andrew’s sarcasm and cool apathy in the face of alarm, was rendered speechless.

The two stared at each other intently, both for once at a loss for words. Andrew watched Neil for a moment too long, completely still before muttering, “I hate you.”

Neil blinked. “What?”

Andrew moved away from Neil and got to his feet, beginning to walk back in the direction of the lake without sparing Neil one final glance.

Neil sat in silence.


 

Andrew’s oddity of a conversation plagued Neil’s mind for the rest of the day.

He still couldn't think straight in the afternoon, when Matt offered him an invitation to a party his group was planning at the bonfire later that night. Neil wanted to, he wanted to help Renee in reconciling the estranged groups, he wanted to talk to Matt and Dan; he wanted to be normal for one night.

Kevin Day had other plans.

“I’ll be with Kevin tonight, sorry.” He was still partially exhausted from Wymack’s training and his and Andrew’s confrontation from the morning, Neil needed as much strength as he could muster for his and Kevin’s first training session at dusk.

“No no that's cool man,” Matt smiled. “Tell me if he's too tough on you though, I know you're probably capable of kicking his ass yourself but…” Matt trailed off, smirking as he watched Kevin emerge from the tree line adjacent to the lake.

“Yeah, I know.”

“Speaking of Kevin,” Matt then said, pulling someone out of his pocket and moving past Neil to shout out to Kevin, catching the other boy’s attention immediately.

Neil watched as they spoke, not noticing any irritation on Kevin’s face until Matt took his hand and placed something in his awaiting palm. His nose scrunched as Matt walked away, who smirked over at Neil as he walked back in the direction of the Hermes cabin.

“Did you put him up to this?” Kevin asked as he approached Neil, who pouted slightly in confusion.

“Up to what?”

“He got me fucking seaweed for saving his life the other day,” Kevin looked immensely displeased as he discarded the seaweed and kicked it into the dirt. “The asshole actually thinks he’s being original.”

Neil shrugged. “At least it wasn't a dead fish.”

Kevin’s scowl depended, but Neil could see the softer edge of the turn of his lips and hear the semi joking tone in his voice. “Fuck off.”

Neil felt a pang of something erupt in his chest, unable to fathom how just months ago he was absolutely terrified of Kevin knowing who he was and now he was almost joking with Kevin.

Kevin, upon looking around and seeing no other camp members, rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “Do you want to just start training now? I've got nothing else to do and it's nearing dusk anyway.”

Neil, having no objections, nodded.

“Okay,” Kevin replied, looking increasingly awkward with the conversation and situation at hand. “We’ll go where Wymack teaches you.” Neil wanted to tell him to not stress, that it would be okay, but he revelled slightly in seeing Kevin act like a human being for once in his life.

Neil’s elation however didn't last.

As the pair moved past the bonfire in the direction of the tree line, Neil sensed something off. He stopped where he was and looked around for any prying eyes, wishing it was just his elated sense of anxiety whenever out and exposed in the open.

Kevin upon noticing Neil wasn't next to him turned around whilst walking, opening his mouth to call out before feeling his back hit a solid object. He turned his head, looking over at Neil who had frozen, his eyes wide and his face ashen.

“Hey, Junior.”

Kevin darted forward to stand with Neil, not needing an explanation as that voice had been instantly familiar; triggering numerous unwanted memories of both of their unfortunate pasts.

“Romero,” Neil spoke blankly, as if to not give one of his father’s men the satisfaction of breaking. “It's been a while.”

“Oh trust me, we've been counting the days since you left us.” As a son of Ares, Romero was solidly built; holding much more muscle than Kevin and especially Neil. His power’s however - compared to the pair - were limited, leaving Neil and Kevin at a slight advantage.

“Why risk coming here, out in the open. Seems kind of redundant, don't you think?” Neil couldn't believe he was speaking, his heart beating a million miles an hour in fear as he focused on forcing his legs to stay still; to not run.

“I see no one around,” Romero commented. “Which is perfect for me, not really for you though. Taking you back home will be so much easier without an audience.”

The way Romero said home, so casually and without disdain, made Neil’s stomach recoil.

“If my father wants me back there, he can do it himself,” Neil said, voice laced with acidity as Kevin eyed with wearily. “Or is he too much of a coward to merely approach anyone without killing them.”

Romero’s eyes narrowed. “He contacted you-”

“I’m not going with you, i’m never going to say yes. Go.” Neil’s voice cracked with emotion as his cool facadę shattered, hands beginning to shake as he forced down the pull of his power simmering within him.

Neil should’ve known the secureness of his identity at the camp would only be temporary.

Nothing good for him ever lasted, his life a whirring mass of unfortunate events; a constant conundrum of sorts. As Neil stood silent next to Kevin, staring at what could possibly be the unveiler of his securely set mask, he thought of his mother and how she would despise Neil for even allowing this to happen.

“Come with me Nathanial or I promise you every single person you’ve ever spoken to at this camp will face the consequences of Hades wrath.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” Kevin argued, deciding to position himself in front of Neil, his tall and muscular frame working as a sort of blockade. “The Moriyama’s-”

Romero’s smile mimicked razor blades. “The Underworld could care less about Moriyama’s Kevin Day,” Kevin’s body tensed at his tone, it only fueling Romero’s malice. “They’re only the futile pawns in our chess game, kid.”

Kevin opened his mouth to speak, Neil not letting him finish before solidifying the shadow beneath his feet and forcibly pushing Kevin to the opposite side of the clearing. Kevin let out a cry of confusion and he rolled into the wall of the Nike cabin, Neil wincing at the shock on Kevin’s face.

Neil turned back to Romero who seemed pleased with the sudden privacy, privacy Neil knew wouldn't last. People would eventually notice an unknown man confronting Neil of all people; it was a given. “Thank god, that idiot was driving me insane.”

Neil, after pushing down the dangerous urge in his stomach, took a deep breath and settled himself. He couldn't show weakness, that prior slip up was unacceptable in front of one of his father's people.

“Careful,” Neil warned, faking his newfound bravado. “That idiot is the son of Poseidon and is deeply valued by the Moriyama’s. I realize you say you don't care for them, but my father values them immensely.”

Romero raised an eyebrow before throwing up his hands. “That doesn't matter right now kid, what matters is you-”

“Going with you to the Underworld, I know you said that already, or do you have a condition I should be worried about?” Neil retorted, focusing his fear on his sarcastic ridden retorts.

“He said you had a smart mouth,” Romero sneered, inching forward and peering down at Neil like he was simply an inconvenience. “He also said you resemble nothing of your whore of a mother.”

Neil’s hands began to quiver.

“Keep her name out of your mouth.”

Romero merely only smiled, the sight horribly disturbing and only igniting Neil’s ire further. His emotions were scattered and fractured, Neil unable to read or control his own behaviour. He was becoming a danger to not only himself but those around him; especially Romero.

“Don't make me ask again Nathaniel, come with me or everyone here suffers. It’ll all be on you, their heads on spikes because of you. Be grateful i’m even giving you a choice.”

Neil caught sight of Kevin approaching them, vision beginning to go hazy as he felt the rage consuming him entirely. Despite this, he made sure to send Kevin a look of do not come any closer. “I don't have a choice,” Neil grit out. “Whatever I say, you're taking me either way.”

Romero rolled up his sleeves, revealing an expanse of knives hidden in varying sheaths as if to prove a point. “Hopefully we won't need to use these to persuade you.”

Neil felt weightless at the sight of the knives, feeling a sort of out of body experience as they triggered all sorts of harrowing recounts from his time at the Moriyama camp - the same camp where his father’s people resided.

Neil cracked.

The grass beneath him wilted before a large expanse of ice coated the ground, the air dropping to near freezing as their breaths steamed in bellows in front of them.

Romero eyed the display curiously, watching Neil with a look of slight wonder in his eyes. It hadn't occurred to Neil that Romero had no true idea of what he was capable of. Neil wanted to laugh at the irony of it; neither did he.

“You really think you can run from us?” Romero hissed, Neil ignoring the now group of people watching the pair and focusing all his attention on the man in front of him. He knew people would witness their confrontation, it was only a matter of time.

“We’ve already found you Nathaniel,” He continued. “If you ignore your father’s request once more he will take drastic measures. What happened to Mary will be nothing compared to what we’ll do to you.”

Neil felt his abilities erupting before he could force them back down, gasping at the intensity of the pull of power. He felt a strange out of body experience as it consumed him, unable to dissipate his anger any longer.

He wore his ire like a cruel second skin, exposed for Romero and his camp members to see.

“Mention my mother’s name one more time and see what happens,” Neil hissed, tilting his head and watching Romero’s eyes flicker with uncertainty. “Please.”

Romero pushed back down his evident fear, having the nerve to laugh freely before saying, “She would recoil at the sight of her son looking so alike to the man that killed her.”

Neil smiled.

Romero’s eyes widened as the earth beneath him split, exposing a barren expanse of darkness beneath his feet as he slowly sank into the depths of his demise. Neil reveled in the fear in his eyes, moving closer to Romero as the temperature dropped even lower.

“I warned you,” Neil barely recognized his own voice, harsh and alike to his father’s as he continued, “You ignorant, repulsive piece of dirt.”

“Nathaniel-” Romero gasped, his body slipping further into the earth as his skin starting to dissolve and fade into a black mist. Romero gagged as he managed a, “Mercy.”

Neil choked in disgust at the thought of a man such as Romero asking for mercy. “A man who inflicts such pain and suffering, a man who works for Hades deserves nothing of the sort.” Neil’s voice thrummed with power as he watched Romero’s body dissolving.

Neil didn't know what it was he was doing, but he was enjoying it. He liked it.

“Hades’ son…” Romero’s hushed voice turned into a whisper, his bones glowing before melting away into the pool of darkness and into the earth swallowing him.

“That I am. Remember that as you return to the Underworld,” Neil raised his chin and his right hand, his palm clenching into a fist as he basked in Romero’s haunted wails. “Begone.”

Romero’s spirit dissipated into the earth, Neil watching in satisfaction as the earth closed up and sealed cleanly where he had dissolved. It was as if Romero had vanished into thin air; no trace of him evident to the naked eye.

The onlookers around him were silent as Neil stood where he was, grin unwavering as his abilities rushed through him. He looked up and saw a few familiar faces in the crowd, unable to feel as he locked eyes with Wymack - who for the first time since Neil had known him - looked utterly and completely afraid.

His haunted grin didn't last as the enormity of his actions eventually dawned on the sane side of him.

Neil had showed his true self and powers to the entirety of the camp. Neil had turned a man into a spirit and banished him to the Underworld. Neil had verbally confirmed his father was Hades. Neil had just lived his greatest fear.

Neil had exposed himself and let the horrific side of him consume him.

Neil’s vision was blurry as he felt his body trembling with anxiety, unable to get sufficient air into his lungs as his breathing was too erratic. The world around him felt like it was spiraling into slow motion, feeling hands on him as he heard a frantic voice trying to get through to him.

Neil couldn't bring himself to move, feeling faint and like his feet were made of cement as his mind had on repeat what he had just done. Reality set in like a cold, unforgiving temptress. They know, he thought, everyone knows who I am. I can’t breathe-

Neil gasped as he felt water thrown at his face, not even realizing he had been moved. Neil took a deep breath to calm his scattered mind, looking around Kevin to see the almost glowing wall behind him.

They were in the Poseidon cabin, Kevin had dragged him there.

“What the fuck, what the fuck?” Kevin hissed, his words scathing but his eyes full of fear as he regarded Neil. “What was that? You killed him-”

“I banished him to the Underworld,” Neil barely recognized his own voice, the hoarseness almost alienating. “Romero’s soul will be with my father.”

“Everyone saw you Neil.” Kevin pleaded, eyes watering as he sat defeated in front of him. “Everyone saw … Neil what-” Kevin choked on his words and ran his hands through his hair, hands shaking as he stared at Neil for a response.

Neil didn't have one.

Neil didn't want to know what he looked like. Neil didn't want to know what his peers saw. Neil didn't want to know how they now feel about him. Neil don't want to know what would happen because of this.

“I have to see Wymack,” Neil eventually said, voice straining as he attempted to stand. “He’ll know what to do.”

Kevin took hold of Neil’s arm and sat him back down. “The Gods are going to find out about this,” Neil shook his head in rebuttal but Kevin continued. “No, no. They’re going to take us away from here because of our power and what we can do. We’re as good as dead Neil, both of us.”

Neil blinked, feeling entirely empty at Kevin’s panicked argument. He tried to speak but words failed to form. He eventually mustered up enough strength to say a quiet, “I need to go Kevin." 

“No, Neil I need you right now I-” Kevin instantly stopped talking, looking distraught as if his own words surprised him. “I’m scared. If they take me away from Wymack, from Andrew, the Moriyama’s will take me back and I can't let that happen. I’d rather die.”

Neil swallowed and looked away, not daring to look Kevin in the eye; he couldn't stomach that. “I'm sorry,” Neil whispered, unknowing of how to handle Kevin in the state he was in. You did this to him, Neil thought suddenly wanting to punch a wall at the enormity of the implications of his actions. “I didn't mean for this to happen.”

Kevin ran his hands over his face before placing his head between his knees, muttering silent prayers to the Gods who could care less for the pair.

Neil, deciding Kevin was in no state to converse any longer, managed to stand up on his shaky legs and walk to the threshold. Neil didn't need Kevin’s anxiety to entangle itself with his own at the moment. He didn't feel real at the moment, he needed air.

He pushed the heavy door open and stared out at the empty clearing in front of him, the air still around him as he stood facing the other cabins. Where everyone had gone, he had no idea, Neil not even knowing how long it had been since the incident.

Time, for Neil, was moving around like an oddity today.

“That was fascinating,” Neil heard a whisper in his ear, watching a mist surround his body; deciding to close his eyes as Andrew worked his abilities. “Hades’ son.”

Neil opened his eye and found himself surrounded by darkness, hearing a definite click before the room shone with light.

“Where am I Andrew?” Neil didn't have the patience - or the stomach - for his games at the moment.

“Your new home.” He replied, moving to sit on the blood red, satin sheets on one of the many coffin shaped bed.

Neil took a moment to realize the implications of his words. “This is Hades’ cabin?” His voice, no matter how hoarse, at least sounded slightly stronger now.

“It hasn't ever been used until now,” Andrew mused. “I thought you might want to get used to its interior before Wymack ships you here personally.”

Neil laughed, but it was entirely humorless, the laugh quickly turning into an evident cough as it proceeded. “Kevin thinks I, we, won't be here much longer.”

Neil couldn't help but notice Andrew’s eye twitch slightly at the idea of Kevin leaving. “That wasn't Kevin, it was more his anxiety ridden brain.”

“He’s got a point. There's no way Wymack can avoid Olympus now,” Neil was finding it evidently difficult to keep his eyes open. “They would've noticed what I did, I can't hide anymore.”

Andrew was silent for a moment before crossing his legs on the bed, watching Neil intently. “Then run.”

“You know I can't.”

“It's what you’re good at.”

“You're good at pissing people off, doesn't mean you should though.”

Andrew’s lips quirked, but a smirk never came. “I'm going to ask Kevin for a favor, you think he's in the mood to talk?”

Neil’s mind wandered back to Kevin’s tearful eyes and trembling hands, feeling bile rise in his throat at the thought. “Whatever my answer is it’s not going to change your mind.”

Andrew did a half hearted salute before moving to the door, whispering, “Hopefully the Gods won't smite you tonight,” before dissipating in the mist.

Neil - after a moment of gazing at nothing in particular - sunk down to his knees and rested his head on the cool wall in front of him, feeling empty and defeated; feeling wrong.

Mary Hatford would be rolling in her grave.

Chapter Text

Neil’s dreams were painted in blood.

What he had done to Romero was constantly being replayed in his mind, each time it was repeated it grew increasingly more disturbing. Romero’s skin was boiling off of his body, Neil was using his knives against him, cutting and slicing and ripping. His father’s cruel laughs and enticing voice ringing in his ears as thick blood coated his body. Hurt them, he heard, show them who you really are Nathaniel.

Neil was hovering over Kevin, hand secured tightly around his throat as he smiled down at him. Kevin was begging, Neil was apathetic as he slashed a knife across his throat-

Neil woke with a shout, trembling as he frantically looked around for Matt. Whenever he had experienced nightmares in the past, Matt had been there to sit with him in silence until he calmed down. Neil had forgotten he had fallen asleep in the Hades cabin so no one, including Matt, was there to help him.

Neil, for the first time in months, was entirely alone.

He sat there on the stiff bed in complete silence, not knowing what exactly to do. Was it okay for him to leave the cabin? Did his peers want to see him? Did Wymack even want to associate with him anymore? Where did he go from here?

Neil uncurled himself from the bed and made a start for the door, muscles aching as he had tossed and turned uncomfortably all night. His hand, upon reaching out for the doorknob, hesitated.

What was he supposed to say to Nicky? That his premonition had revealed itself to be true. What was he supposed to say to Wymack? That the Gods were coming for him and there was nothing he could do.

Neil felt so entirely and fundamentally lost, he had no idea what his future held. It was as if, by his own exertion, he was on the run again.

Neil, despite the tremor in his hand and his perceived survival instincts, decided to open the door of the cabin.

A cool wind hit him as he passed the threshold, looking out at the completely still camp warily. The sky was grey, Neil wanting to laugh as it described his mood accordingly. Neil had always found significant bliss in metaphors.

“Freak.” A voice then hissed, Neil turning to see an occupant from the Ares cabin staring him down. Seth appeared from behind him, a sneer set on his face as he spat in the direction of Neil.

“Be careful, he’ll kill you if you get too close.” Neil did his best not to flinch, but Seth noticed his discomfort and thrived on it. “I knew there was something fucking wrong with you. Allison told me to leave you alone, but how can I?” Seth’s voice had dropped low and dangerous as he crowded Neil into the wall behind him. “One of Hades’ spawn does not deserve to breathe.”

A burst of water suddenly hit Seth, Neil side stepping out of the way as the water wound itself in a tight sphere around Seth’s head. Neil locked eyes with Kevin, who looked slightly bored. It was as if Kevin had created a snow globe of sorts, the bubbles from Seth’s panicked cries under the water working as the snow.

A metaphor, Neil thought.

“Don't drown.” Kevin said casually, watching for a moment as Seth choked and struggled before waving his hand and dismissing the water. Seth let out a sharp intake of breath, falling to his knees and hitting his chest repeatedly as he choked up the water.

Neil, feeling his abilities itching under his skin, breathed a sigh of relief.

“You're both … freaks.” Seth gasped, crawling away from the two as he scowled, Kevin watching him curiously with an almost bored expression on his face.

“Freaks embarrassingly more powerful than you,” Kevin said, kicking Seth in the knee as he scrambled away. “Fuck off.”

“You know I could've handled that.” Neil muttered as Seth disappeared back into the Ares cabin, feeling conflicted with Kevin’s altruistic aid in the past 24 hours.

“In the state you're in I couldn't risk it,” Kevin said, turning to Neil with a look of almost empathy in his eyes. “I understand what it's like.”

“No, you don't.”

“Trust me Neil,” Kevin insisted. “I do.”

Neil crossed his arms and looked away from Kevin, eyes wandering in the direction at the Big House. “What does Wymack think?” Kevin raised an eyebrow at his words. “About me, does he hate me?”

“Why would he-?” Kevin cut himself off and shook his head. “No, no of course not Neil. He's processing right now. What he saw, what everyone did, it was … different.” Kevin looked almost uncomfortable as he spoke, Neil couldn't blame him. “He wants to talk to you though, if you're ready.”

Neil’s eyes widened, rendered speechless for a moment, hesitating. He then pushed past Kevin and almost broke into a sprint to the Big House. He needed to see Wymack, and upon hearing the exchange was mutual, he saw no need to wait. He bounded up the short staircase, leaning forward to open the door when it was roughly pushed open from the inside.

Neil froze.

Matt and Nicky stood there before him, eyes wide and unreadable as they stared at him. Neil couldn't believe the cruelty of it; the two he had bonded with the most were of course the first two to see him after his incident, after he revealed his true self.

“Neil,” Matt said, voice wavering as he regarded him. “Uh, hi.”

Neil, unsure of what to say, turned to Nicky with a frown. Nicky looked tired, so utterly and completely exhausted, purple rings under his eyes as he reluctantly looked at Neil. His premonition must have been haunting him, eating him alive after what had happened.

“Nicky I-”

“I don't want to talk to you right now,” Nicky’s voice was strained as he cut Neil off. “I just … I need time.”

“Nicky, please.” Neil pleaded, Nicky shaking his head in response, his brown eyes tearing up slightly as he refused to look even at Neil.

“Not now Neil, we need time. I’m sorry.” Matt insisted, his smile - although kind - laced with an under toning fear. “I’m so sorry.”

Neil bit his tongue as he nodded, wanting to explain himself but not having time as both Nicky and Matt had hurriedly walked away from him. Neil turned and saw them heading in the direction of Dan, who Neil could see was clearly distraught as she gazed over at Neil.

“Don't take it to heart,” Wymack said from behind him, his tall, unmistakable figure shadowing Neil entirely. “They're scared and confused and don't know how to handle what they saw.”

“What about you?”

Wymack sighed. “I’m coping.”

Wymack lead Neil to his study and poured himself a shot of whiskey, offering Neil a glass who declined the offer politely. Wymack shrugged and took the two shots, hissing at the burn in his throat before turning back to Neil and smiling tiredly.

“How did you sleep?”

“Alright.”

“Has Kevin been helping you out?”

“When he can.”

“How are you feeling?”

I just want it to stop

“Fine.”

Wymack didn't shield his concern, instead tapping the wooden floor beneath him with his hooves as he thought. “This has created a problem,” He spoke slowly, as if his words had the capacity to scare Neil off. “We can't hide you from Olympus any longer.”

Neil shifted uncomfortably where he was standing. “Kevin said they're going to take me away,” His mind wandered back to his conversation with Andrew. “Take us away, because of what I did.”

Wymack didn’t correct him.

“I should pack my things.” Neil then said, turning to exit the room before Wymack stopped him.

“You don't have anything to pack, even if you had to.” He wasn't wrong. “I’ll be contacting Olympus in the next few days. They will take action, i’m not sure what it will be but I can assure you i’ll fight for you staying here with us. We all will.”

Neil shook his head. “Everyone hates me.”

“Give them time and they’ll come around.” Wymack insisted, eyes softening as Neil gave no immediate response. He had noticed Neil’s sharp tongue was only ignited when he was fearful, using it as a deference mechanism of sorts, so Neil’s silence worried him immensely.

“You don't need to hide anything from me,” Wymack insisted upon reading Neil’s discomfort. “I'm not good at this kind of shit but, I'm here if you need to talk.”

Neil, feeling anxiety uncurl within his chest, whispered, “I'm scared.”

Wymack’s eyes softened. “I'm scared for you too, kid.”


 

“They won't even look at me.”

Andrew made a noise of agreement. “You should have seen their faces. Oh boy, I wish I had a camera.”

Neil grimaced and rubbed at his chest, feeling it tighten as his mind replayed the reactions of his peers. He couldn't see much, his vision had gone hazy with rage, but the gasps he heard, the whispers - it was enough to piece together how he knew they felt.

The entirety of the camp (besides Kevin and Andrew) ignoring his existence only confirmed their grievances.

Neil ran his hands over his face and collapsed next to Andrew in front of the unlit fire. They were sat on the outskirts of the camp, shrouded from the view of others by a sprawling, weeping willow.

After his draining conversation with Wymack Neil needed someone to ground him, so after dusk he had sought the company of the only person he felt secure with.

“They hate me.”

Andrew tisked. “No, no. They hate your father and what you represent.”

Neil turned to look at Andrew fully, noticing the tense set to his shoulders despite his seemingly permanent smirk. “What I represent?”

“They can't help but fear you,” Andrew clarified like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “We are taught from a young age to fear the Underworld and the creatures that inhabit it, to fear your father. To find out their new friend-” Andrew’s tone had grown mocking as he spat out the word. “-is Hades’ son, it's jarring. Their small minds can't even begin to process it.”

Neil nodded, agreeing despite not wanting to believe the logical legitimacy of Andrew’s words. “So, you're saying to give them time, that they’ll come around eventually?”

Andrew let out a brisk laugh, the sound a stark contrast to the seriousness of the conversation. “No, but whatever helps you sleep at night.”

After Neil didn't respond, Andrew rolled his eyes and kicked the log beneath his feet, the fire roaring in front of them and setting alight almost on command. “Ask Kevin if you have that much of an issue, they gave him the same reaction when they found out about his father.”

Neil found that hard to believe despite Kevin’s strange empathy from the morning. “So they coiled away from him in disgust? Poseidon and disgust don't go hand in hand you know,” Neil insisted. “They wouldn't have-”

“Nobody spoke to him for a month,” Andrew said, cutting Neil off abruptly who stared slightly in shock at his words. “It's not just disgust people fear, it's power. You should know how dangerous power can be.” Andrew hummed. “Imagine it, a kid has nuclear weaponry in his command and has no idea how to control it, do you honestly think any sane person would react to that kindly?”

Neil pondered. “You did.”

“I did.” Andrew replied and crossed his legs in front of him, picking up a stick from the ground and tapping his ankles with it as he spoke. “He explained to me his situation with Riko and I swore to protect him, unfortunately.”

Neil knew this, but he didn't know why. Why was Andrew so selfless when it came to Kevin; why did he so easily defy the Moriyamas for Kevin? Neil had no idea. It was among the many things about Andrew he still didn't know or understand, but didn't come close to the one thing that had plagued Neil’s thoughts ever since it had been mentioned.

“Tell me about your curse.” Neil hated to be so forward, knowing he was intruding on something irrevocably personal to Andrew - but he was willing to trade any piece of information he had previously kept hidden to know.

Andrew merely turned and blinked at Neil, the glare of the fire lighting up his hazel eyes brilliantly. Neil - not even realizing Andrew’s face had been momentarily blank - watched Andrew’s face contort into a slow grin.

“Oh, I was just waiting for you to ask,” Andrew said, flicking his fingers and morphing the stick in his hands into a cigarette. “The real question is, what will you give me in return?”

Neil, after everything Andrew had just willingly told him, didn't expect such a response. He couldn't let the opportunity slide.

Neil answered within a heartbeat. “Anything.”

He was willing to offer a part of himself to Andrew if he did the same for him. He couldn't understand why, their mutual understanding had grown into something Neil was still yet to articulate. It unnerved him, but at the same time ignited something similar to exhilaration within him.

Andrew’s smirk only rose. “That's endearing. Utterly stupid, but endearing.” Neil looked past the manic smile and saw the utter intrigue in Andrew’s eyes. He was curious.

“I'll give you a name,” Neil proposed. “Not Nathaniel, my birth name, something more.”

“More?” Andrew asked, leaning forward to light the cigarette and blow the astray smoke in front of the pair, Neil able to identity the faint outline of a dancing figure in the fume.

“Abram, my middle name,” Neil was slightly disjointed, he hadn't said the name outloud for years. “My mother used to call me it to protect me around the Moriyama camp. If you can't trust me, trust Abram.”

“Interesting proposition,” Andrew considered Neil’s words carefully for a moment longer. “Okay.”

Neil blinked in surprise. “Really?”

“Don't look so surprised, it's the rule of the game remember? Whatever name you gave me holds some significance.” Neil felt whatever was unfolding was much more than a simple game. Despite that he stayed silent, and waited for Andrew to talk.

“I was attempting to take the Death Mist from Akhlys, who just so happens to be the Protogenos of misery and poison,” The figure in the smoke in front of them moved as Andrew spoke, aligning itself to his words and telling the story visually. “Do you know what that is?”

Neil couldn't say he did. Andrew shook his head and muttered something under his breath that he couldn't decipher. “It’s a lot like regular mist, but instead of shielding the mortals from our world it protects us from the eyes of the monsters inside it. You of all people should know this.”

Neil wished he knew of the Mist earlier, perhaps it could've saved his mother's life is Iowa. But then where would he be now? Wymack never would've found him, his mother would've made sure of it. Neil quickly derailed the thought pattern before it could further; what if’s were a dangerous thing people like Neil preferred to ignore.

Andrew’s eyes glinted with something alike to exertion, Neil figuring he knew where his mind was headed. “Back to me Abram. Concentrate, I won't be explaining this again.”

Andrew’s sudden use of the name brought Neil back entirely.

“I was able to sneak into your daddy’s basement,” Tartarus. Neil’s eyes widened in pure shook. “It's where she resides.”

“How?” Neil couldn't possibly fathom how that was even a possibility for Andrew, especially if this happened years ago when Andrew was far younger than he was currently.

Andrew shrugged, flicking his fingers as the smoke danced around the fire. “Shh, it's not my secret to tell.”

Neil heard the implied yet, but remained silent.

“It's obvious what happened next.” Andrew said, smiling as the figure in the smoke meshed with the flame, a larger figure emerging. It was a thin woman with sunken cheeks and eyes, a cruel smile on her face as she lashed out at the pair with her long protruding nails. Neil instinctively moved back, Andrew rolling his eyes and blowing.

The woman crumpled back into the fire, the intensity of the flame dying down as the smoke rose once again. “She found me but instead of killing me injected me with a toxin, hence the Protogenos of poison. She told me it would never fade, that it would curse me the rest of my life.”

Neil swallowed past the lump in his throat, knowing Andrew would despise the pity. “So the mania is permanent.”

Andrew was silent for a moment before dragging his eyes slowly to Neil’s, a strange expression on his face as he regarded him. “Everyone hopes so.”

Neil blinked. “What?” Andrew ignored him and turned back to the fire,

“You see how they treat me, correct?” Andrew then spoke after a moment’s silence, Neil shocked at the burst of honesty regarding something so personal to Andrew. “At least with the mania i’m semi predictable, they know what to expect. But they've never seen me without it.”

They wouldn't be able to handle it.

Andrew’s smirk physically pained Neil. “You're not that bad,” Neil whispered, not taking his eyes off of Andrew who continued to create patterns in the smoke. “You care, I know you do.”

“It's not conventional,” His tone was cheery, but Neil could hear the underlying ire. “So they don't care.”

Neil had suddenly grown angry. He knew what it was like to be disrespected, he knew what it was like to have every pair of disgusted eyes on you, to be spat on for who you were. There was more to Andrew than his mania, but no one had yet taken the time to search for it.

Until now.

“Maybe they don't deserve to know you.”

Andrew stilled next to him, an unreadable look on his face as the fire in front of them abruptly burnt out. “Careful,” Andrew said, standing up and beginning to walk back to his cabin. “Those are dangerous words Neil and you know it.”

Neil’s anger resided as quickly as it came, still piecing together Andrew’s story in his mind to further understand the implications of his words. If he was angry, he’d say something he’d regret and Andrew could possibly never reveal something as pivotal again.

“You know, you never told me what you were running from,” Neil said. “What monster you wanted the mist for.”

Neil expected Andrew to ignore him, to speak some bullshit about the rules of the game and walk off. Instead he stopped and turned slightly to face Neil, looking intimidating as the moon’s glare shone down on him - shading one half of his body in complete darkness.

“His name was Drake.”

Neil, taken a back slightly at the revelation, hung onto one word in particular.

Was?”

Andrew smiled pleasantly.

“Was.”

Chapter Text

Wymack organized a meeting the morning after.

He was to debrief the camp at ten (to hopefully calm the frayed nerves of Neil’s peers) and contact Olympus - specifically Hermes - at twelve (to hopefully convince them to not smite Neil or ship him directly to his father.)

Wymack had invited him to the meeting, but Neil decided it was for the best if he didn't give his camp members more of an opportunity to target him.

The altercation with Seth the day prior was bad enough.

It was the long awaited D-Day for Neil but yet he wasn't prepared for the pain in his chest and the drive to stay. He’d been running and hiding for a large portion of his life, and it seemed utterly pathetic of him to think he would last safely in one place.

Neil sat alone in his cabin, the terrible ache of anxiety spreading through his stomach and chest relentlessly. His mother would be furious at him, for creating bonds with strangers and showing them his true self; for letting his guard down and for a second actually thinking he had the chance of a future.

A knock at the door interrupted him from his thoughts, eyebrows furrowing as he had no idea of the time and who would be willing to see him.

He stood up and slowly moved towards the door, opening it slightly to observe whoever it was.

“Hey.”

Neil breathed a little easier at the sight of Matt.

While Andrew was able to calm Neil with the impact of reality, Matt was able to entice a warmth in his chest he hadn’t ever experienced. It was friendship, Neil knew that, but it was still hard for him to understand the unfamiliarity of it all.

Neil opened the door fully and let him in, watching cautiously as camp members left the dining pavilion. He spotted a few familiar faces, but was too far away to gauge any reactions. What Wymack was intending to say specifically was unknown to Neil, he just hoped the remnants of the bonds he had made with a specific few weren't broken entirely.

Matt looked awkward in the darkness of the cabin, his entire being a stark contrast to the room he now stood in. They stood in silence for a moment until Neil eventually broke it, “How was it?” Neil asked.

Matt grimaced slightly, not needing to speak as his reaction had already answered Neil’s question. He replied nevertheless, “Painful. Andrew wouldn't shut up, Kevin was angry and I'm pretty sure half of the camp have gone from being terrified to hating you.”

“Doesn't matter anyway,” Neil muttered, turning away from Matt as he couldn't stomach the pitying look in his usually warm and welcoming eyes. “I’ll be gone by tomorrow.”

“You don't know that,” Matt whispered. “They could just keep an extra eye on you, or-”

“They’re gonna kill me Matt,” Neil interjected, turning back to him with fierce blue eyes. “If they were to let me go freely they would be out of their minds; they don't know the extent of what I could do and neither do I. Kevin’s power is enough to monitor on its own, I'm a liability they can't afford.”

And with the Moriyama’s plan to overthrow them and engage in another war i’m sure I won't be of priority soon enough - they won't have time to deal with me, Neil thought.

“Wymack will talk some sense into the bastards,” Matt insisted. “He’ll tell them you mean no harm, that you have no intention of hurting anyone.”

Neil laughed bitterly, catching Matt off guard entirely. “But is that true?” Neil asked. “You saw what I did to Romero, I had no control over what I did and yet I wanted to do it.”

“You’re not your father,” Matt said. “I know you're not, Neil.”

“You don't know me that well.” Neil said.

“I do,” Matt’s voice has grown stern. “I saw your face after what happened, that was fear Neil. Any man who enjoys hurting people doesn't experience raw fear like that. You're not horrible and you're not a bad person. Your blood doesn't dictate who you are or where you belong, please don't forget that.”

Neil choked on anything he attempted to say to Matt, completely lost for words as he regarded the other boy for a solid minute or so. “I don't deserve that.”

Matt smiled sadly. “You do.” He rubbed the back of his neck and reached out for Neil’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for how I reacted, I was just overwhelmed I guess. It was … a lot to stomach.”

Neil nodded in response; Matt didn't need to apologize, Neil just needed him to understand.

“Wait here.” Matt suddenly said, Neil blinking in response as he left the cabin abruptly. The door banged loudly as it closed, Neil narrowing his eyes in confusion. He had nowhere else to go or anywhere else to be, so he waited.

A minute or so later Matt returned with Nicky, followed by Dan and Allison and Renee. Neil, unsure of how to react, stood with his arms crossed uncomfortably.

“How are you?” Dan eventually asked, sitting down on one of the beds while the rest of the occupants of the room stayed standing - albeit slightly awkwardly.

Neil shrugged. “Okay, I guess-”

“We’re sorry!”

Allison rolled her eyes and untangled her hands from Renee’s, her eyebrows narrowing as she glared and pointed at Nicky. “We were going to wait a minute before apologizing, we went over this Nicky.”

Nicky didn't try to hide his guilt. “I know! But it's so hard. He looks like a kicked puppy I couldn't help it,” Nicky turned back to Neil and smiled warmly, a tinge of sadness in his voice as he repeated, “We’re sorry, we’re very very sorry.”

“We shouldn't have ignored you, we should've been there for you. I know it’s only been a day or so but you needed us,” Dan continued, smiling at Neil as she watched a red tinge bloom on his cheeks. “We’re your friends Neil, we’re here if you need us.”

Neil was warmed by the exchange, but he felt it was too late of a gift. “Thank you, but-” Neil stammered, unsure of how to finish his sentence as all their eyes were on him. “I might not be here tomorrow.”

“Ridiculous. You're not leaving, you're not going anywhere.” Allison huffed, Renee smiling at her before turning her attention to Neil.

“You must put your faith in the God’s Neil,” She said quietly, her eyes intense and a stark contrast to the placidness of her face. Andrew does that, Neil thought haphazardly. “They have the capacity for humanity, you need to trust Wymack.”

Neil wanted to, he wanted to badly, but he didn't know if Wymack could protect him this time. “I’m trying.”

The group left the cabin shortly after, Matt and Dan planning for a short walk together around the lake when a commotion caught Neil’s attention.

Neil saw Andrew and Kevin near the Hecate cabin, Kevin seemingly furious in the face of Andrew’s grin. Neil was instantly curious, and couldn't keep his eyes off of the pair as he walked close to Matt across the clearing.

Kevin eventually looked over at Neil, his face completely masked with confusion for a second before his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he collapsed by the stairs.

“What the hell?” Dan muttered, stopping to watch as Andrew kicked Kevin in the knee to see if he’d react. He didn't.

Neil then stumbled slightly, feeling abruptly faint as he struggled to remain upright. His head was pounding, Neil wincing as the pain intensified. His mind felt layered with fog, Neil drowning in the same confusion he saw on Kevin’s face only a few moment’s ago.

“Neil?”

Neil fell to his knees before passing out.


 

Nathaniel.”

Neil tried opening his eyes but his efforts were to no avail, his eyelids felt pressed with a heavy weight; the same feeling encompassing the entirety of his body.

Nathaniel.”

Neil ignored the familiar voice, letting out short and sharp breaths to prevent himself from panicking. He didn't quite understand what was happening, but he wondered if Kevin was experiencing the same thing.

He is you know.”

Neil’s stomach dropped.

He’s terrified, he’s calling out for you.”

Neil groaned in annoyance and tried to move once more, desperately attempting to get as far away from Riko’s voice as possible.

He knew logically he wasn't physically with him, that Jean was somehow using his abilities to get in both Kevin and Neil’s heads, that this was only a mind game for Riko’s own self indulgence.

It’s pathetic,” Riko hissed, the hairs on the back of Neil’s neck rising at the chilled edge to his voice. “Your fear of the world, I wouldn't be surprised if you were afraid of your own shadow.”

Neil made yet another attempt to move, a sharp pain igniting in his chest as he did. He had almost forgotten what Riko's inferiority complex was like and often lead to. 

Oh, but you are, aren't you?” Neil felt something brush across his forearm, choking on a gasp at the dread that spread throughout his body. “Everytime you look in the mirror you must wilt at your appearance, I'm surprised your father even wants you back.”

“How do you know about that?”

I’m in your head.”

The thought of Riko creeping in his mind and seeing his innermost thoughts made Neil want to gag. “Shut up.”

Neil felt a sudden pressure on his chest, feeling as if someone had their hand pressing down firmly. Neil’s sudden blindness only added to his masked hysteria, gritting his teeth as he felt his hands begin to shake.

Your time is up,” Neil groaned as he felt a hot breath by his ear, trembling as Riko’s voice was materializing in physical movements around his body. “They’re going to hunt you, they’re going to burn you down-”

“Stop it.”

“-unless you listen to me.”

Neil opened his eyes, noticing instantly the peculiar red lighting around him. Neil attempted to move, succeeding as he raised his right hand. The hold over him had dissipated, if he moved now he could-

Riko was holding him down, Neil’s eyes widening as he kicked out feverously at the man hovering over him. His smile was ugly and ferocious, Neil wanted to rip it off of his face.

Kevin, yourself and I were always meant for something greater Nathaniel,” Riko moved his hand through Neil’s hair, smiling as Neil grimaced and bared his teeth at him. “We are the only ones with the raw ability to take down the God’s.”

Neil spat in Riko’s face, Riko’s eyes narrowing as his hands wound around Neil’s throat. “You are mine,” Riko muttered, his voice low and acidic as he squeezed Neil’s throat mercelessly. “You were given to me as Kevin was, we are to bring Olympus to its knees together.

Neil’s head was pounding at the lack of air, his shaking hands trying desperately to pry Riko’s own off of his throat. Riko leaned down further in Neil’s face, his dark eyes gleaming as Neil saw his own panicked eyes reflecting in them.

“I want nothing more than to crack open your skull for the trouble you’ve caused,” Riko removed his hands and let Neil breathe, his rattling breaths erratic before Riko backhanded him. “I plan on the God’s banishing you, I plan on claiming you before your father does.”

“You're sick.” Neil whispered, his voice raspy as he glared up at Riko. It hurt to speak, but it was the only ammunition he currently possessed. “I’d rather die.”

Riko’s smile was horrible. “You don't have a choice, Abram.”


 

Neil woke with a strangled cry, lashing out at whoever was over him. He scrambled away from the small crowd assembled by him, gasping in air frantically as his vision blurred.

“Breathe Abram.” A cold hand positioned itself on the back of Neil’s neck, Neil twisting in Andrew’s grip before he tightened his hold.

Neil took a moment to collect himself before Andrew was satisfied, his hazel eyes curious as he regarded him. “Dear oh dear, what has happened now?”

Neil looked up to see Matt and Dan standing over the pair, worry etched on their faces whilst Renee looked far more calm and collected. She had a look in her eye that Andrew himself often obtained.

“Jean got in our heads,” Neil muttered, breathless. “I’m guessing Riko used him to get to us.”

Dan wilted at his words. “What did he say?”

Neil couldn't find it in him to answer, instead searching for the other occupant of Riko’s torment.

Kevin was on the ground several metres from him, Wymack hovering over him with cautious eyes as Kevin dry heaved in the dirt. His face was ashen and his green eyes were wide and terrified, shaking his head as he clawed at the ground beneath him.

Neil felt the urge to apologize.

Dan, upon following his eyes, watched Kevin’s breakdown wearily. “Was it that bad?” Her voice was a hushed whisper as she knelt down besides Neil, the rest of the group leaning in closer to hear his reponse.

Neil smiled sadly. “We’re all going to die.”

Andrew laughed. “At least let us into our coffins before you hammer in the nails, Hades’ son.”

Neil sighed and let Renee help him off of the ground, catching the eye of Wymack who waved him over.

“You’ll be fine.” Matt whispered, Neil averting their concerned eyes and instead walking slowly over to Wymack. Abby was helping Kevin to the Big House, Neil hesitantly watching them leave as Wymack clicked in his face to catch his  attention. 

“It's time.”

“I know.”

Wymack motioned to the Big House, Neil beginning to walk as he soon locked eyes with Andrew. He was standing with Renee, a grin on his face as he saluted him.

“They told me they placed a bet on what’s going to happen to you,” Wymack muttered, obvious distaste in his voice. “Heartless assholes.”

Neil couldn't find it in him to be angry at them. He often found his sarcastic retorts were a way to cope with his fear - of both himself and his father - their bet could’ve just as easily been an outlet to cope.

Neil was once more immensely grateful for the conversation held in the Hades cabin; if this was his final day on earth and the God’s did decide to smite him he’d be happy knowing there was no bad blood between his comrades.

(All but Aaron and Seth, but Neil couldn't find it within himself to care about them in the slightest.)

Neil mounted the stairs of the building and watched as Abby held open the door, her brown eyes full of sadness as she smiled softly at Neil. She stayed silent as Wymack lead her to his office, Neil thankful he didn't have to deal with anymore pity.

Neil found himself lost in thought as he wandered aimlessly around the large house, focusing on his past over his present (and future) as he paced.

He knew the camp would be too good to be true, that it would only be temporary - just as his hidden identity had been. Looking back on the decision to stay he wanted to be angry, he wanted to be angry for his mother’s sake and wanted to be angry at himself for not running.

But he couldn't.

No matter how awful he had screwed up, no matter how close his father and Riko had gotten to him and no matter what the consequences of his actions would be; Neil didn't feel regret.

He eventually found Kevin sitting motionless outside of Wymack’s office, his face devoid of emotion as Neil settled down to kneel next to him.

Neil didn't know what to say to Kevin, his fate rested in Neil’s own. Neither of them were good at small talk, forever awkward with the articulation of conversation. Neil didn't exactly know what Kevin was to him, much like he didn't understand Andrew and his relationship. Were they acquaintances, just camp members or even friends - Neil didn't know.

Neil wanted to ask what Riko had said to Kevin, but thought it would be best to not ask. Kevin looked somewhat composed, Neil deciding he must have found Wymack's alcohol and didn't want to break him from that stupor. 

“I mean look at the brightside,” Neil eventually said dryly, feeling Kevin’s eyes on him as he shrugged nonchalantly. “Riko can't get to us if we’re dead.”

The two then sat in a horrible silence, Neil pushing down his anxiety and itching abilities and instead focusing on nothing in particular at all.

Wymack opened the door of his office and ushered the two in, a strained look on his face as they sat on the chairs in front of his large desk. “I sent the message to Hermes, a reponse is usually given within half an hour, but as this is a rare case I feel it may be sooner.”

Wymack then turned to Neil and spoke to him directly. “Your fate’s out of my hands now kid, we did our best but all I can do now is wish you luck.”

Luck was not a word associated with Neil Josten. 

Kevin - who still looked too dazed to even speak, too induced with fear to even move - turned to him and took Neil’s jacket sleeve daintily between his fingers. Neil blinked in response, looking down at the piece of fabric that was possibly holding together the fragments of Kevin Day himself - fabric that ironically belonged to him.

Kevin didn't say anything, Neil didn't want him to.

Chapter Text

A subtle knock at the office door startled the trio.

Wymack, who eyed Neil slightly as he walked past him, cleared his throat before opening the door.

Kevin stood up immediately and upon noticing Neil had stayed seated, gripped his arm and dragged him up on his feet. Neil, about to argue, shut his mouth as a tall slender woman entered the room.

She was draped in a long golden dress, her black hair pulled into a bun and her dark eyes softening at the sight of Wymack.

Wymack walked over to her with a smile. “Iris, it's been a while.”

“David,” The woman - Iris - greeted him with a firm handshake, the f amiliarity obvious between the pair. “I’m disappointed you didn't contact sooner.”

“Iris as in the messenger Goddess Iris?” Neil whispered to Kevin, who nodded in response. Good, Neil thought, she couldn’t do too much harm.

Wymack nodded. “You know I have a soft spot for the wayward ones.”

Iris then turned to face Kevin and Neil, her features contorting slightly as she regarded them. “Nathaniel, you’ve caused us a bit of a problem.”

Neil was aware, he had been told he was a problem his entire life.

“As we speak, the God’s are deciding what it is we do with you,” Iris then turned to Kevin, her smile bittersweet. “And I do fear that whatever happens to Nathaniel will impact you also, my dear.”

Kevin swallowed past the lump in his throat before asking, “What are some options?”

Iris hummed and walked over to one of the windows, her skin seeming to shine various colours as the sunlight beamed through the glass. She was ethereal and Neil couldn’t seem to evade his eyes.

“We either let you go and keep a close eye on you, although one mistake could lead to severe consequences,” She eventually mused. “Or we kill you Nathaniel and take Kevin up to his father for safekeeping.”

Kevin grimaced. “He wouldn't want me with him.”

Iris shrugged. “It was his idea, they were contemplating smiting you both but Poseidon wanted you spared.”

“Why hasn't my … father-” Neil still struggled with the word. “-intervened.”

Iris tapped her fingers on her chin. “I'm positive Zeus is the culprit, he must have bargained with him.”

Neil wasn't convinced. “He seemed certain he wanted to take me to the Underworld, he wouldn't just stop because his brother said so.”

“Yes, well he is an extraneous factor we are still sorting out, but fear not he will not touch you so long as the God’s now have their eyes on you.”

Neil wanted to believe her, he really did.

Wymack began to converse with Iris privately, their hushed whispers unheard over Kevin’s heavy breathing. Neil knew he needed a distraction. “We need to tell her about Riko.”

Kevin’s jaw clenched as he turned away from Neil, blatantly ignoring his words as he stared blankly at the wall next to them.

“Kevin they need to know.”

“There’s no point.”

“Kevin-”

“I’d rather be killed by the Gods than be touched by him again,” Kevin whispered feverously. “Look, Jean warned that he’s coming for us, Neil. If they find out that he's Zeus’ son they’ll bring him closer to us and-”

“They won't let him near you,” Neil replied, knowing Kevin would be Riko’s priority over himself. “They’re not all inhumane.” Like my father, he left unsaid.

“You don't know that.”

Iris turned to Kevin and Neil, a inquisitive look in her eyes as she regarded them.

“Do you think she heard us?” Neil asked, looking up at Kevin who scowled and moved away from him, his nervous energy evident as he pacecd back and forth throughout the room.

“Oh,” Iris whispered, looking out into the rays of sunlight with a pained expression.

“Oh what?” Neil asked, moving forward but stopping as Wymack held out a hand. “Have they made a decision?”

Iris nodded, looking at Neil and Kevin wearily before fading and dissipating into the light.

Wymack locked eyes with Kevin who looked away instantly, Neil peering around in confusion at Iris’ sudden disappearance. “What does this mean? What are they doing?” He hated how lost he felt, how the sickening feeling creeping through his body was nothing other than fear.

Wymack looked out of the window where Iris was positioned, face contorting in anger for a second before turning back to the pair. “Outside, now.”

“Why-?”

Now.”

 


 

“David Wymack, just who I wanted to see today.”

Wymack neared the woman in front of them, radiating hostility as he shielded both Kevin and Neil with his large frame. “Nemesis, this isn’t of your concern.”

“That wasn’t what I was told,” Her dark eyes were calculating, almost ruthless, her casual attire jarring as she stood before them. “I come bearing gifts.” Neil watched as Nemesis strode even closer to Wymack, her smile sharp as her eyes slowly moved to Neil.

Neil’s stomach dropped as his mind worked through every possible outcome of Nemesis’ presence at the camp, feeling his fingers start to itch as the green grass below him withered. Kevin soon pinched his shoulder, breaking him from his stupor.

“They had no reason to send you here for this.” Wymack spoke slowly, most likely stalling.

“But balance and retribution are just my forte,” She purred, her tone almost mocking as she continued. “They hold far too much power, no one here is equip to take care of the issues they bring forth and the rest of the Gods deemed it fit for me to deliver this … present.”

A golden collar materialized out of thin air, coiling itself around Kevin’s throat before firmly locking in place. Kevin gagged at the sudden pressure, dropping to his knees and gasping as it wound itself tighter and tighter.

Wymack’s eyes widened in panic, his face soon morphing into rage as his intense glare focused onto the messenger, realizing what it was she had planned. “This is inhumane and you bastards know it.”

“We’re protecting the livelihood of our people,” She simply shrugged. “If we take away their power they are in no position to hurt or threaten anyone, balance is therefore restored. If that is inhumane to you David Wymack, that is your business.”

Kevin clawed at his throat in agony, the lake behind him sensing his distress as the mass amount of water begun to boil and bubble vehemently.

Nemesis watched on with curiosity as a peculiar sound echoed from the depths of the water, Neil’s skin erupting with goosebumps at the powerful thrum of energy.

The collar begun to glow, Kevin crying out and curling in on himself as the thrum from the water rose into a definite piercing scream.

“Stop.” Neil hissed, wincing at the pained sound of the water as Kevin’s power was painfully taken from him. He knew this would happen to him shortly, yet he wasn't worried in the slightest. His pain wouldn't be felt by the camp itself.

Kevin’s mouth opened in a soundless cry as the water abruptly stilled, tears brimming in his eyes as he stared out at the lake. The collar however didn't unfasten, instead blending in with Kevin’s tanned skin and remaining present.

Nemesis turned to Neil, her eyes cold and unforgiving as another golden collar arose from the air between them. It soon laced itself around Neil’s neck, Neil remaining silent as he felt the object work.

It was as if he was donating blood, Neil feeling a tugging under his skin as his abilities seamlessly seeping into the binding secured on his throat. It was painful, Neil couldn't deny it, but he’d experienced worse.

A part of him was thankful he was being temporarily disarmed, the other part guilty that Kevin had to endure his fate also.

The collar glowed before ceasing, Neil coughing as it blended into his skin as it did with Kevin.

Nemesis looked over at Wymack, her face strangely unreadable as she stepped around Kevin’s defeated form on the ground. “In two days Poseidon will collect his son and personally deal with his liability.”

“And Neil?” Wymack asked cautiously, Neil closing his eyes - dreading the answer.

“Hades will arrive tonight.”

Neil choked.

Wymack, upon seeing his reaction, shook his head. “No, you know how he is. Neil won’t make it out of this alive.”

Nemesis pursed her lips, looking at Neil with slight distaste as he sneered up at her. “That is not my concern.”

“It is,” Wymack practically shouted. “Neil has done nothing wrong. You know that him being blindingly thrown to his father is not justice, and yet wasn’t that your forte?”

Nemesis’ gaze turned toxic. “I cannot interfere any further than this, stand down David. This is bigger than the both of us.” She then turned and walked away from them, Wymack shaking his head at her as she walked away and disappeared in the tree line.

Wymack - upon glancing at Neil and figuring he was in no position to talk - sighed and at down next to Kevin, his long and extra limbs making the position awkward as he ran his hand through Kevin’s hair. “You’re okay.”

Kevin closed his eyes and shook his head, ripping out the grass beneath him in a bout of rage. “If Riko decides to attack now-”

“It's been weeks Kevin, Riko hasn't showed any sign of coming here,” Wymack assured. “Jean could've been wrong.”

“No,” Kevin muttered, his voice low and hollow. “He wouldn't have lied, i’m going to die, i’m going to die…”

Neil zoned out their conversation, feeling awful enough with the revelation about his father and consequently did not need Riko to enter his mind either.

Neil rolled over on his side and curled into a ball, his fingers turning white as he jammed his eyes shut as he held desperately to the last shred of his composure.

It wasn’t long before Neil was hauled to his feet, Neil relaxing slightly as Matt’s soothing voice reassured him. He let himself be carried somewhere, Neil still too delirious to fully comprehend where he was.

“Hey, you’re okay.”

Neil’s vision cleared and he saw Dan, her face kind as she sat in front of him in what looked to be the Athena cabin. The smell of wood and old books comforted Neil as he came back to himself, coughing uncomfortably as he shifted slightly on the bunk.

“I’m not.” Neil whispered, hearing Nicky’s sad moan as he coiled his hands together on his lap. He hated feeling so vulnerable, so weak, but he knew he needed it. He needed them.

“We know,” Matt said, sitting next to him on the bed. Neil was thankful he gave Neil a suitable distance between them. “It’s okay to not be, we know what you’re going through.”

“Not really.”

“Obviously,” Allison said next to Nicky, who frowned slightly at her tone. “Our father isn’t the devil.”

Allison!”

“It’s fine,” Neil shrugged, looking up at Allison with a lopsided smile. He needed her honesty right now to ground him more than ever. “It’s true.”

“You know what this means, right?”

That my father is going to reclaim me as his property and put me through eternal damnation? Neil mused.

“It means,” Dan continued. “That we need to find someplace to hide you so Hades can't lay a finger on you.”

Neil blinked at her, unsure of how news around the camp spread so quickly. 

“Yes!” Nicky beamed. “Until Wymack can talk to those assholes and keep your father a thousand and one miles away from you.”

Neil, doubting the mere possibility of Nicky’s claims, smiled weakly nonetheless.

“I know a place,” Kevin said, startling the occupants of the cabin as they hadn’t heard him enter. “A cave in the forest.”

“Great! We’ll leave now-”

“It’s not that simple, Nicky,” Kevin spoke impatiently, eyes scanning around the room before he sighed. “There’s only one place undetectable in the cave and it’s only accessible under the surface of a large body of water.”

“And let me guess,” Matt snorted. “Now that you’re shooting blanks we won’t be able to get to it.”

Kevin scowled. “Unless you can hold your breath for longer than two minutes, no, you won't.”

“Then why even mention it Kevin?”

Kevin scoffed. “I didn’t hear any of you giving any alternatives, take it or leave it, I don’t care.”

Neil knew that was a lie.

“There would have to be a way,” Renee spoke from the corner of the room, Neil startled slightly as he hadn't noticed her presence either. “Not possible isn't a possibility we have here.”

“Neil being taken by Satan isn't a possibility we have either.” Allison added.

Neil, who felt the familiar feeling of uncertainty rise within his stomach, stayed silent.

After Kevin begrudgingly agreed to lead them to the cave, the small group exited the cabin and upon looking for any wandering eyes started heading towards the tree line when Renee abruptly stopped.

“I’ll stay,” Renee said, Allison opening her mouth to protest before falling silent at the look in Renee’s eyes. “Someone has to distract Wymack if he comes looking for Neil or any of us for that matter.”

Dan, who herself looked at Renee with trepidation, nodded and accepted her request. Renee walked away, smiling politely at someone who was headed towards them.

“My oh my,” Andrew gestured wildly as he strolled towards them, winking at Kevin who turned away and shook his head. “What is all this?”

“It’s nothing, Andrew, just-”

“They’re hiding me from my father.”

Matt looked at Neil incredulously who shrugged, the look resulting in Andrew’s sharp laughter. “Interesting, I knew you were all stupid but suicidal?This is new.”

Neil waved off Matt’s warning glare and edged closer to Andrew, lowering his voice as he spoke. “Look, you can either come with us or stay it's your call.”

Andrew stared at Neil for a moment, his gaze holding something Neil couldn't quite interpret. His smile soon turned into a faint scowl, Andrew tapping his chin before sighing. “I guess it couldn't hurt.”

“That's a lie.”

Andrew’s lips twisted back into a smirk at Neil’s response. “Martyr.”

Neil, ignoring the whispers of his friends behind him, met Andrew’s gaze. “You know you’re only a martyr if you get killed.”

“I’m aware.”

 


 

“Jesus Christ Kevin how far out are we?”

Kevin, who had lost his patience with the group only a mere ten minutes into their journey, rolled his eyes and sneered. “Far enough out to hide a body.”

Matt laughed bitterly as Dan reached out for his arm and pulled him away from Kevin, Neil taking Matt’s position almost immediately.

“How often do you come out here?”

Kevin looked down at Neil, his eyes widening marginally at the intrusive question. “When I need to be alone.”

“Isn't that always?”

Kevin raised his eyebrow at Neil’s words, looking as if he was about to argue but he instead remained silent.

“What? You're not exactly friendly Kevin, this isn't news to anyone.”

“I am what I need to be,” Kevin whispered feverously, Neil feeling the intensity of his words resonating in his chest. “No one can change that and I don't care what they think.”

“I didn't ask you to change.” Neil replied, catching the vulnerable look in Kevin’s eyes before he quickly reassembled his walls.

After what felt like hours, Kevin eventually stopped walking, alarming the entirety of the group behind him.

“Are we here?”

“No.”

“Then why have stopped, Kevin?”

Neil waited for Kevin’s answer, but it didn’t come. His eyes eventually followed where Kevin’s were settled, on a dark, opaque figure resting beneath one of the towering trees.

Dan, who had mimicked Neil’s curious gaze, edged closer towards the tree. “What is that?”

Neil, despite knowing his abilities had been disarmed, felt a burning ache in his chest where they once were. Neil, quickly understanding the warning sign his body had given him reached out for Dan and pulled her away from whatever was slumped on the ground.

“Neil what-?”

“Don’t.”

Neil heard Andrew hum from behind him, his eyes widening as the figure was soon lifted off of the ground and taken slowly out of the darkness. The moonlight revealed a person - more specifically a satyr.

A dead satyr.

Neil’s breath hitched as he recognised Hernandez’s disfigured face. Neil was surprised there was anything left to recognise. Half of his skull was protruding from his burnt, peeling off skin, his entire body covered with blood.

Neil had seen this brutality before, had witnessed it occur at the Moriyama camp in honor of his father.

Nicky gagged as Andrew quickly forced the body back into the darkness of the forest, the group all standing in silence as they processed what they saw.

“What the fuck was that?”

Neil wanted to answer, but words wouldn't come. He felt his hands begin to shake as reality dawned on him, their plan was born to die. His father had done this, his father already knew where he was. It was only a matter of time before -

The air around them stilled, Neil watching as Nicky’s breath fanned out in front of him. Dan swore and gripped tightly to Neil’s arm, Matt and Allison shielding him with their bodies as the grass beneath them withered before being coated with a thick layer of ice.

“Please go.” Neil begged, not needing his friends - his new family - to bear witness to his father’s cruelty.

“No,” Dan said strongly, holding up her sword and using it as an extra layer of protection. “We won’t let you face this alone, you’re not going anywhere.”

A dark figure slithered out of the darkness, fear encompassing Neil in its entirety and making it hard to breathe. “Oh, Nathaniel.”

He shrunk slightly at his father’s voice, Andrew humming quietly as a thick mist rose above and around the small, huddled group.

A horrible laugh followed, the forest around them almost coming alive with the shadows around them beginning to move to their own avail. They swept through and destroyed Andrew’s attempt at shielding them, Neil watching as Andrew’s hazel eyes darted around feverously.

Matt and Allison raised their shields as Dan lashed out at the shadows with her sword. Nicky attempted to raised his bow and arrow but was instead pushed harshly to the ground by one of the many moving figures.

Kevin reacted instantly, pulling Nicky back to his feet and throwing him next to Neil. He then stared intently at the small lake adjacent to them, Neil waiting with trepidation for the water to move despite knowing that it wouldn't.

Kevin soon swore; having momentarily forgotten about his temporary lack of abilities, his green eyes widening as Hades then swept his hand to the side and sent him hurtling into the darkness behind them.

Neil spun around frantically, looking for any sign of Kevin. He then tried to move, eyes widening in confusion as he felt his feet glued to the ground beneath him.

“He was the only real threat here out of this pathetic little group Nathaniel.” Hades mused, his grin horrible as he inched closer to them.

“You’re disgusting,” Allison hissed, Hades smirking slightly as he lifted his hands, enclosing the group within cage of solidified shadows.

His father’s icy blue eyes almost glowed as he sneered down at Neil, Neil unable to protest as he was pulled forward by a force he couldn't resist.

“I've waited so long for this moment,” “To finally have you in my grasp.”

“You already did, months ago.” Neil challenged weakly, remembering the horrible woman possessed by his father at the club.

“But not like this, not here in your home,” Hades mused, laughing as the tear that rolled down Neil’s cheek turned instantly to ice. “It gives me far more satisfaction to take you away from a place you feel secure in.”

Neil closed his eyes and shook his head, wincing as his father stroked his cheek. “Don't be so down, it was only a matter of time Nathaniel. I’ve been patient, I've watched your abilities grow, I saw what you did to Romero.”

Neil’s eyes opened in shock, his father’s smirk growing. “Didn’t it feel amazing? All that power-”

“That wasn't me,” Neil whispered, already utterly drained with the conversation. “It's not who I am.”

“Oh?” His father mused, disgust rising within his gaze. “That’s your biggest fear, is it not? Showing them who you truly are?”

“We know, we just don't care,” Matt’s voice was strained but Neil could still hear the support laced in his words. “He’s still one of us, our friend.”

Hades looked down at Neil with slight contempt, his words laced with toxicity as he spat, “Your mother would loathe this.”

Neil gagged as his father wound his hands around his neck, crushing the collar placed by Nemesis. Neil felt his power returning, the rush of adrenaline almost overwhelming as his eyes widened in fear.

“Please-”

“You are my greatest disappointment,” His father hissed, Neil gasping as his abilities overcame him. “I left you alone for too long. You could've been something in this world Nathaniel, but yet here you are … nothing.”

Neil felt his heartbeat in his ears, his fingers twitching as shadows and the crumbling earth beneath them merged together and swarmed around them as Neil’s panic unravelled horribly.

A large crack in the earth opened up behind his father, Neil hearing shouting behind him as Hades edged closer and closer to the gaping hole.

“When I am through with you no one will recognize you,” His father whispered into his ear, Neil’s body beginning to shut down from both the lack of air and the intensity of his abilities. “You will become the son I wanted or you will die trying.”

Hades turned around abruptly, dropping Neil to his knees before gripping his shoulder tightly and pushing him backwards.

Neil fell.

 

Chapter Text

It occurred to Neil that he hadn’t been given the opportunity to say goodbye.

He pondered this as he lay on the cool stone of the hallway he’d collapsed in, staying completely silent as if to not wake the dead. In any other circumstance, he’d laugh bitterly at the irony, but for some reason Neil couldn’t find it within him to laugh at the fact that he had been imprisoned by his father.

He couldn’t recall exactly what had happened before he’d collapsed, the darkness a blur and overriding all his senses indefinitely. He remembered shouting and pleading, his father’s cruel smile and the weightlessness of the free fall.

The rest was a blur.

Melancholy soon gripped him in a prevailing wave, Neil hating the ache in his chest almost as much as he hated the silence encompassing him. He wondered what those closest to him were doing, what Wymack was feeling, how grateful the camp would be with his toxic presence finally being lifted.  

Neil felt as if the catacombs were enough to swallow him whole, his mind already way ahead of them.

He eventually mustered up enough strength to pull himself to his feet with the aid of the wall, taking tentative steps down the dimly lit hallway. It was disorientating, Neil questioning everything he had once thought about his father’s palace.

From what he could see of the walls they were of a grandeurs bronze, dozens of bouquets of flowers lacing the hallway on small, silver columns. Neil reached out for the flowers, but soon recoiled as the petals instantly withered upon his presence.

Neil – deciding the ignore the flowers entirely – continued walking, anxiety mounting within his chest as he had no idea what his father had planned. Was he destined to walk these hallways for eternity? Was he being subject to some sick trial? Neil was unsure.

He eventually came to an intersection, Neil feeling eyes on him as he stood motionless. He peered down both corridors, feeling the itch of his abilities under his skin as fear settled comfortably within him. Neil rapidly pushed down the feeling, not wanting to utilize his power as it was exactly what his father desired.

Neil decided to turn right.

He only took a few steps before the shadows around him came to life.

Neil watched with wide eyes as the beings emerged from the darkness, looking alike to rotting corpses with their decaying skin and dislodged jaws. He felt a wave of sadness hit him; these things were once people, now utilized as objects for his father’s sick satisfaction.

Neil’s sorrow dissipated as the body closest to him let out a ferocious shriek, lunging at him and knocking him off his feet. He swore as his back erupted with a searing pain, gasping as its soulless eyes locked with his own.

He felt his body go numb, a painful coldness sweeping through him as the creature’s thoughts consumed his own. Neil felt the agony of the creature, its rage and aloofness – all it had endured in Hades. His mind swarmed with images of fire and pain, Neil choking through the communication of sensations.

The manifestation disappeared as quickly as it had occurred.

Neil scrambled back instantly, chest heaving as the bodies thrashed and clawed at his retreating figure. He kicked out as a bony and took hold of his shin; another his arm – his body soon being dragged roughly down the hallway despite his violent protest.

Neil’s body reacted before his mind could.

His anger was soon channelled to his abilities, his skin crawling as they unravelled and coiled around all his nerves and synapses. Neil’s fingers writhed as the beings holding him froze, under his control as they watched him with wide, haunting eyes. “Get the fuck off me.” He ordered, the creatures immediately letting him go and fading back into the darkness.

Neil’s eyes widened in curious disbelief.

“Good,” Neil was swept up off the ground, his body hovering mid-air before a burst of light hit him as he fell back onto the hard, stone floor. “I was waiting for you to do that.” Neil cursed and tried to move away from his father, who quickly retaliated by pinning him to the ground below him with a foot to his neck. “Where did you learn that?”

Neil stayed silent, biting his tongue in retaliation and staring intently at his father.

“If you do not cooperate Nathaniel this will be exceedingly more difficult than it needs to be.”

Neil was too busy having a moral crisis to care for his words.

He knew the resemblance with his father was uncanny, it was why he’d taken so much effort to conceal his features, but seeing those horrible icy eyes up close and personal unnerved Neil wholly.

The situation had become far too real for Neil to stomach, his unease threatening to boil over in a hopeless mass of a disaster.

“What exactly are you planning on doing to me?” Neil asked, biting past the lump in his throat. He knew he didn’t want to know the answer, but talking was his only way of staying sane in a time of crisis. The other option was non-applicable.

“I’m not sure yet,” Hades mused, releasing Neil who grimaced as the weight from his throat was lifted. “The extent of your power is unknown to me, but I do plan on finding out.”

“So, you’ll what? Torture it out of me?” Neil’s voice shook with apprehension.  

“I’ll do what needs to be done.” His father soon started pacing around the room, his tall statue threatening and all-consuming as he watched Neil. He radiated power, intense and malicious, and Neil hated that he himself was capable of such a demeaner. “You’re my property Nathaniel, I need to fix you.”

Neil’s skin crawled at his words.

“What I find fascinating is how David Wymack, of all people, could control you,” Neil’s stomach dropped at the mention of Wymack, concern laced in his eyes as he gazed up at his father. “Can you explain that to me? How an insignificant centaur was able to contain you.”

Neil broke eye contact with him. Hades retaliated by reaching out and violently taking hold of his chin, Neil gasping as the short burst of pain. “Answer me. Who helped him, who guided you?” Neil stayed silent.

“If you do not tell me I will find them myself and I promise you, what will happen to them will be one hundred times worse than what we have planned for you.” Neil’s heart jumped at the mention of we, fear exploding within him at the thought of Kevin suffering because of him.

In all honesty, Kevin never truly got to teach Neil anything directly – but through his perseverance and his own control did he show Neil there was a possibility of normality.

Neil’s voice was barely a whisper, “Kevin.”

“Kevin Day?” Hades’ eyes filled with a burning rage, Neil watching in fear as his blue eyes shifted into a malevolent pool of darkness. “Poseidon’s boy, of course.”

“You can’t kill him,” Neil retorted in a small voice, trembling at the intense fear his father was now projecting. “The rest of the God’s would –”

Do nothing,” His father hissed “Our children are insignificant as you are still part human, if you grew up alongside me that human side would’ve been burnt away long ago.”

Neil’s eyes widened, anger soon burning through his veins at the injustice he faced.

He was merely only an object to his father, a tool to weave at his own luxury – his mother on the flipside dismissing him and treating him like a burden, a disease she had to combat. The only family he had truly had in life was ripped away from him and Neil was bitter.

Neil, knowing he was far from controlling the situation at hand, decided nonetheless to make his father’s job ten times harder.

Neil focused his attention on his father’s throne, concentrating and soon watching in delight as the various skulls coating the huge, onyx structure imploded on sight. Hades sneered, catching one of the flying skulls and crushing it in his hands.

“Do not force my hand, Nathaniel.”

Neil wondered if you could die in hell.

Hades then clicked his fingers, the burst of light a stark contrast to the bronze shade of the room they were in. Neil’s stomach dropped as a familiar face came into view, panicking slightly as his father moved slowly away from him to nod at Lola.

Neil watched in horror as an awful smile soon consumed Lola’s features, her skin wrinkling and her bones cracking as she slowly morphed into the hideous creature hidden underneath her placid façade. “Long time no see, Junior.”

It had been years since Neil had seen her – watching him intently at the Moriyama camp on the scarce occasion he’d left his mother’s side – and years to eventually realize she had been the Fury that killed his mother on that fateful day in Iowa.

“Don’t do too much damage,” Hades drawled, Neil flinching as huge, leathery wings burst from the confines of Lola’s ragged dress. “These floors stain easy.”

“No,” Neil started backing away from the pair, a shaky breath rattling his chest as he watched the whip sliding across her fingers. “No, no wait –”

Neil, for the second time that day, felt weightless grasp him in its arduous hold.

He had no time to register being forced to the ground, his mouth opening in a wordless cry as Lola’s whip coiled around his ankles, holding him in place as he lashed out at her.

Neil cried out as the Fury scratched at his face, pinning him down and clawing mercilessly at his skin. He felt the blood pooling into his eye as he screamed, the flame of her whip dancing across the skin under his left eye as a horrible gravelly laugh rose from her throat.

He tried to zone out of the pain, tried to swallow his mind with memories that acted as something akin to Andrew’s mist. He thought of Matt’s comradery, of Dan’s strength, of Kevin’s determination, of Renee’s kindness – but it wasn’t enough to numb Neil.

He was spiralling into losing control and it terrified him.

“Enough, Lola,” Neil gasped as the weight finally lifted from his chest, his face aching as the burning flesh continued to sizzle.  “We don’t want to blind him.”

Neil’s mouth filled with blood as he coughed, rolling to his side in agony as he watched the creature morph back into Lola. Her crumpled velvet dress was coated in blood, Neil taking a moment to comprehend that it belonged to him.

“Why not? The brat deserves it.” She hissed, leaning down to look at the damage she’d inflicted.  Her eyes still shone a horrible yellow as she examined him, her lips twisting in disgust. “Looks like that pretty face of yours is ruined little one.”

Neil mustered up the strength to spit blood in her face, content with her horrified shriek as he watched his father pull her away with lifeless eyes, his body going numb to block out the intense pain from his injuries.

He wished Kevin was there to heal his wounds.

“You could’ve stopped her,” Hades took hold of Neil’s shirt and dragged him to his feet, tracing his fingers along the deep, seemingly permanent wounds on his face. “Why didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t.” Neil answered, biting through the pain as he had already shown too much weakness in front of his father.

“You can’t be that stupid,” His father cooed, his blue eyes burning with something Neil despised. “You are in my realm son, you have all the power of your devices at your disposal.”

“I don’t want it,” Neil whispered fiercely. “Whatever you want to achieve with me here is pointless, I won’t be like you.” Neil could feel the hum of his abilities deep in his chest, using all the strength he could to supress them as he had no idea what would happen if he unleashed them in such a state.

Hades’ eyes narrowed marginally, his cool composure dissipating as displeasure rolled off him in waves. “I should’ve taken you when I killed your mother, you would’ve been easier to control.”

Neil closed his eyes and counted, his breaths coming out in short shallow pants as his fingers itched to maim. He felt the familiar urge to hurt, grinding his teeth to abolish the craving.

Neil hadn’t felt so out of control since before his training with Wymack commenced. He couldn’t allow an outburst – he wouldn’t give his father the satisfaction of breaking, of turning into what he desired.

“You would’ve learnt to be grateful of all you possess.”

Neil stopped counting.

“Grateful, for what? Grateful for being this … this thing.” Neil, despite valiant effort, couldn’t suppress his anger any longer, his rage a bundle of fear and disgust coiled together with his unrestrained power.

“I never asked for any of this!” Neil’s voice trembled as he shouted, “I’ve been dealing with your mistake my entire life because I was that mistake. I’m repulsive–” Shadows around Neil coiled around his arms as he spoke, a sick sort of comfort as he crumbled before his father. “I’m the embodiment of decay and you want to worsen that? Fuck off.”

“Don’t be over dramatic.”

Neil’s lips upturned into a sneer, feeling breathless as his abilities overcome him – sweeping through his senses in an intoxicating wave that raked his body with tremors. Hades looked down upon him with disdain, albeit with slight interest.

The ground tremored beneath them, Neil’s hand shaking at the intensity of the power. The few remaining skulls from the throne exploded, the light of the room vanishing entirely through Neil’s control.

His mind was working a million miles an hour, his thoughts consumed with that of rage and torment. Neil heard various mirrors breaking, could almost feel the cracks appearing within the splendours walls around them as he let his abilities devour.

Hades quickly lost his patience.

“If you do not stop acting like a child I promise you I will burn you to the ground.” His father hissed, Neil truly understanding the anger in his eyes as he had witnessed the same malignant turn in the mirror himself.

“Do it,” Neil sneered, “Please.”

Neil saw his breath fanning in front of him before he felt the numbing coolness, a stark contrast to the huge flames soon circling around him. He figured his father was attempting to contain him, a part of him grateful for doing so – the other bitter and scornful.

“You’re entirely ignorant as to the power I hold Nathaniel,” Neil could only hear his father’s voice, the intensity of the circle of flames overpowering in their heat. “Your abilities are nothing compared to mine.”

Neil’s eyes widened as he felt his abilities soon recoiling back within himself, either out of defeat or distress. Neil, despite being accustomed to their scattered temperament, was left feeling bewildered and exposed in front of his father.  

His terror was soon dissipated as an oblique shadow materialized around him.

Neil watched as the shadow coiled around his arms, hearing his father’s booming voice behind the tower of flames as the darkness pulled him forward. He felt the urge to walk through the huge cloud, to let the shadows consume him to their own avail.

The flames around him fell.

Neil stepped headfirst into the shadow.

 


 

Neil was drowning.

The mass amount of bubbles swirling around blinded him, his body feeling as heavy as lead as he fought to swim upwards. His mind couldn’t understand what was happening, his body struggling to survive on instinct and fill his lungs with air.

Neil gasped as he broke the surface of the water, his limbs aching as he felt a sudden wave of fatigue overcome him. He was disoriented completely as he floated on his back, staring at the stars and the moon above him as he pondered how he had gotten wherever he was. 

Neil noted he was surrounded by a dense forest, the sounds of the wilderness familiar and bittersweet from his time spent at the camp. Neil presumed the shadow played a significant role in sending him to the lake. He couldn't recall much, only that the speed and velocity was enough to send him spiralling. 

He waited in the stillness of the water for his father to appear and drag him back to Hades.

 His father never came.

Neil eventually made it to shore, sinking to his knees on the sand as he tried to blink past the black spots covering his vision. He couldn’t allow himself to pass out, not in such an unfamiliar terrain. After counting to fifty to settle himself, he attempted to rise to his feet but failed, his body aching all over and begging him to rest.

Neil had experienced worse.

He knew that his father would pursue him and he would no longer have the sublime to shield him, meaning he either had to run or accept his fate. Neither were quite an option in his current state.

“Neil?”

Neil was too weak to fight off whoever had taken a hold of his face, feeling a cold liquid swarming his wounds as he winced through the pain.

He opened his eyes fully and was met with Kevin's own.

Neil smiled sadly. “Hi.”

Kevin exhaled through his nose, either out of annoyance or concern, and quickly swept Neil off of his feet and into his arms. 

Neil couldn't fight off the black spots any longer.

 

Chapter Text

The first person Neil saw when he woke was Andrew.

Neil, despite his initial confusion, felt almost immediately relieved. Andrew’s presence confirmed he hadn’t been dreaming.

“Rise and shine sunshine,” Andrew mused, leaning back on the chair adjacent to Neil’s bed. “You will not believe what’s happened while you’ve been gone.”

Neil sat up on the bed with a groan, noticing Kevin standing by the door of the Hecate cabin. He had only been there once before; the familiar detachment of the twins beds a jarring reminder of the night he first encountered his father.

“What?”

“Seth is dead.” Kevin muttered.

Neil thought of the prophecy – nine will rise as one will fall – his stomach dropped.

“It’s not a real loss.” Kevin shrugged.

Neil was aware of Seth’s intolerable temperament – quite frankly Neil hated everything about him – but he was stunned by the revelation nonetheless. “How did he die?”

Andrew and Kevin exchanged a knowing look.

“Allison found him in the lake,” Kevin eventually said, looking increasingly uncomfortable as he recounted what had occurred. Neil had a feeling his abhorrence was more at the tainting of the lake, not Seth’s untimely demise. “It wasn’t suicide. Foul play was evident.”

“Kevin was blamed. It was fantastic,” Andrew added, discontent evident in his eyes as he gripped hard to the chair’s arms. “Allison has quite the right hook.”

Neil felt unease sweep through him as he saw the ugly bruise coating Kevin’s cheekbone. “You didn’t hurt any of them, did you?”

“They weren’t maimed, I just put them in their place. Besides,” Andrew’s smile was all teeth as he gestured widely. “Riko’s the one to blame, not Kevin.”

Neil watched as Kevin supressed a shudder. “It wasn’t him.”

“Denial is ugly, stop it.” Andrew insisted, like merely his words could pull Kevin from the depths of his renunciation.

Kevin opened his mouth to speak, but stopped as Andrew had lost interest and was now intently focussed on Neil. “The state of your face is far more important right now.”

Neil, who had almost forgotten about the mess made of his features, recoiled at Andrew’s words. “Kevin healed some of it, it’s not that bad.”

“Neil…” Kevin trailed off, looking pained at Neil’s words.

Neil shook his head. He remembered washing up to shore, feeling the water on his face – Kevin had healed his wounds. Hadn’t he?

Kevin motioned to his neck, Neil being reminded of the collar as the morning sunlight reflected against the gold morphed into his dark skin. “I was just washing the blood off your face, it was … I didn’t recognize you.” 

Andrew flicked his wrist, a mirror soon materializing in front of Neil.

Neil gagged at his reflection.

The wounds were still fresh, Neil knowing they would remain scarred and permanent. Under his left eye were the remains of a horrific burn, the skin and underlying tissue deformed due to the trauma – the entirety of the right side of his face consumed with jagged scratches.

The mirror cracked out of his own repulsion.

Andrew, as if expecting the violent reaction, surrounded Neil with a thick mist. Neil’s anger was derailed as he recognized Andrew’s response in German, “Anger won’t bring back your face Abram, calm down.”

Neil suppressed his ire – concealing it for a time in private where he could wallow miserably in his panic and grief.

“Are you done?”

Neil nodded, the damage a reminder of his father’s wrath – wrath he would surely bring to Andrew and the camp when he caught up to his son once again.

“I need to get out of here, this’ll be the first place my father looks-”

“No.”

Neil gaped at Kevin. “What do you mean no?

“Wymack finally convinced Olympus to put a barrier around the camp. None of the Gods can enter, not even Hades.”

“Bullshit.”

“Try us,” Andrew retorted. “Why would we lie?”

Neil was utterly perplexed, uncertain that anyone – even Zeus – could contain his father. “Why would they bother?”

“They’ve decided you’re better off alive.” Kevin muttered.

“After all that bullshit with the collars? We can’t trust them.”

“Shut up –”

“No!” Neil shouted, his anger rising again at Kevin’s dismissal. “They said my father wouldn’t touch me but he did, they even threatened to kill us Kevin. Why should we believe any corrupt thing that comes out of their mouths?”

“You sound just like him.”

Riko.

Neil stopped talking.

Andrew, who had grown bored with the conversation, rose from his chair and headed towards the door, his eyes not leaving Kevin’s own. “Are you both done? Kevin has a date with his father I need to attend.”

Neil’s mind wandered back to Nemesis’ words – words that felt years away, “In two days Poseidon will collect his son and personally deal with his liability.”

Neil felt Kevin’s shiver. “But you said no God can enter the camp –”

“Which is why we’re going outside of the camp.” Andrew scolded, Neil raising an eyebrow at his condescending tone.

“Find Boyd, I’ll find you when we’re done,” Andrew continued as he pushed Kevin through the threshold. “We need to talk.”

Neil watched as they disappeared out of his view, something strange exploding within his chest at the thought of reconciling with Andrew. Neil brushed off the feeling as nerves.

Neil knew better.


 

Nicky practically sobbed as he engulfed Neil with a bone crushing hug, the breath knocked out of him as he hadn’t anticipated Nicky’s presence in the Hermes cabin.

“Oh my god, your face,” He whispered, “Neil…”

“It’s –”

“Don’t even say it man,” Matt sighed, looking uncomfortable as he took in Neil’s broken and battered appearance. “This is so far from fine.”

Neil, wanting to steer the conversation from him to literally anything else, asked where the girls were.

“They’re with Allison, she’s still pretty distressed after what happened with Seth.”

“It’s a godsend if you ask me,” Nicky muttered, waving off Matt’s warning gaze. “What? He was a homophobic cu –”

“That’s enough,” Matt warned. “Let her grieve. I hated his ass too but the least you could do is show her some respect.”

Nicky threw up his hands. “That’s why I’m here with you, she’d stab me or curse me you know how she is.”

Matt’s attention quickly fell back to Neil. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”

“No.”

“You sure?” Matt asked, the concern in his eyes overwhelming to Neil. It was still difficult for him to fathom those around him visibly concerned for his wellbeing, the foreign nature of care disconcerting.

“If I talk about it I’ll remember it,” Neil replied simply. “I don’t want to do that.”

“How’s Kevin?” Nicky then asked.

“Him and Andrew just left.”

Matt whistled. “Fuck. Do you think he’ll come back or will Poseidon like, you know, off him?”

Neil’s eyes widened at the thought.

“I’d be surprised if he did.” Neil spun at the sound of Wymack’s voice, easily ignoring his scarcely hidden flinch, “He really did a number on you kid.”

“I’m used to it.”

“Never get used to it, you shouldn’t have to.”

“Is it true?” Neil had to ask, despite Andrew’s reassurance. “Can no God enter the camp?”

Wymack nodded, the heavy weight lifting off of Neil’s chest instantaneously. He was safe. “For now, yes. Olympus aren’t happy with your father disobeying their direct commands of do not touch your son. He’s a bloody piece of work that man.”

“You’re telling me.” Neil scoffed.


 

Neil was reunited with Dan, Renee and Allison not long after in the Big House; Allison ignoring Neil’s disfigured face and Neil ignoring her dark circles and swollen eyes. They had a strange sort of comradery, Neil thought.

“We’re glad you’re home.” Dan smiled warmly, Neil’s throat constricting at the mention of home. Home. Neil never had the luxury of one, but he supposed he had found among their flawed group a home of sorts; a family. Not perfect, but enough for Neil.

Aaron sat begrudgingly next to Neil as the group conversed, perhaps knowing that Neil had no intention of speaking just as he did. Neil, despite his strong distaste of Aaron, was glad he didn’t even try to spark a conversation with him.

Neil spoke too soon.

“Andrew told me the full story about his curse,” He muttered, looking immensely displeased with the conversation already. Neil felt the same. “About why he needed the mist.”

Neil perked up. That was something he himself didn’t know. He knew it had something to do with someone called Drake, but from Andrew’s enigmatic words it seemed as if he had already dealt with that problem.

Neil guessed he had killed him.

“If he tells you,” Aaron continued, something strange flashing in his eyes as he spoke. “Just –” Aaron sighed, looking lost for words. “It’s not pleasant.”

Neil raised an eyebrow. “Why are you telling me this?”

Aaron scowled. “Take it or leave it.”

“What are you two talking about?” Andrew smiled down at them, Neil jumping slightly as he hadn’t noticed his entrance. “I can throw you back in the lake if need be, Aaron.”

Aaron’s scowl deepened. “We’re done here.” Aaron got up out of his chair, eyeing off Andrew oddly before disappearing into a cloud of mist – Neil catching Nicky’s disappointed sigh from the other side of the room.

Neil shrugged off the oddity of a conversation and turned back to Andrew. “Is Kevin alive?”

“Alive, although not well.” Andrew took hold of Neil’s chin and turned it towards the window overlooking the back of the Big House, Neil watching Wymack hand Kevin a large bottle of alcohol that Neil didn’t recognise the name of.

“How did it go?”

Andrew barked out an awful laugh. “Wonderful. I presume Poseidon was in a decent mood but Kevin was having none of it.” Neil thought back to his encounter with Kevin’s attitude towards his father, grimacing at the thought of all that pent up rage being unleashed.

“They decided on a bargain. Once every fortnight Kevin will go to Olympus to train with his father to help ‘contain him.’” He mocked.

Neil caught the contempt in Andrew’s eyes. “And you’re not allowed to go with him.”

Andrew hummed, clearly annoyed with the decision.

Neil shrugged. “At least they didn’t smite him.”

“I wish they did,” Andrew quipped. “Then I wouldn’t have to babysit him anymore.”

Neil knew that was a lie.

Andrew took hold of Neil’s forearm, catching his eyes before swiping up his own arm. They were engulfed in a familiar mist, Neil closing his eyes as the blanket of haze was almost calming.

Neil opened his eyes to darkness, panicking slightly at the reminder of his father’s palace; said panic subduing as various lights lit up the cave they were in. The walls were patterned with what looks like shells, glowing parallel to the likes of the Poseidon cabin.

“Where are we?”

“A cave.”

“Obviously.”

Andrew ignored Neil and kicked over the chairs he’d accidentally taken with them, Neil reaching up to stroke the colourful shells on the wall – enthralled by the way they shimmered in the dull light.

“I’ve asked Kevin to use his talent to remove my curse.”

Neil’s hand fell to his side, uncomfortable at the thought of Kevin utilizing his Toxikinesis. “You know how dangerous that is, right? Kevin –”

“Used it to torture people, I’ve dealt with enough of his little night terrors to know that,” Andrew said, his tone far too pleasant for the gravity of the conversation. “I want you there when he does it.”

“Why?”

“You’re strong enough to stop him if he loses control.”

Neil frowned. “That won’t happen.”

“No?” Andrew hummed. “Just how you won’t lose it when you use your abilities?”

Neil knew he was right, he just didn’t want to admit it. Kevin and himself were far too powerful and far too unpredictable when carried away.

It still terrified him despite his training with Wymack, knowing there were things he could do that he still wasn’t aware of. Moving through the shadow away from his father proved this.

“So, you brought me here just to tell me that?” Neil asked, walking back over to Andrew who was on his knees with his hands emerged in a small pool of water. Neil heard Andrew muttering in Latin under his breath, watching as blue fire emerged from the pool of water.

“I wanted peace and quiet, although it was boring when you were gone.”

Neil still couldn’t comprehend that he was gone for two days – it had only felt like hours with his father; long, horrible and strenuous hours.

“Someone died, Andrew.” Neil sat down by the fire, Andrew perching on a rock opposite Neil and watching him with inquisitive eyes.

Andrew shrugged. “Boring.”

The pair then sat in a relaxed silence, the crackling of the anomalous fire overriding the hush of the cave. 

“Do you remember whose turn it was?”

Neil, surprised at the break of silence, blinked up at Andrew. “What?”

“Our game, the one you propositioned. Whose turn was it?”

Neil had forgotten about their game entirely, uncertain of its necessity as his identity was long out in the open. “Mine?” Neil guessed.

“Wrong.”

Neil waited, expecting Andrew to ask him a question.

Andrew didn’t.

“I was going to come find you in Hades.” Andrew said, watching Neil intently to gauge his reaction.

Neil blinked rapidly in response. “What? How?”

“I told you I ventured into Tartarus, it’s how Akhlys found me.” Andrew continued. “An old friend of mine, Roland, has his connections to smaller Gods like Thanatos. I was going to use him to get to you.”

Neil was finding it difficult to breathe. “Why?” He whispered.

Andrew licked his lips. “I don’t like people touching what’s mine.”

Neil could detect a half truth when he heard one. “So … you were going to risk your life and confront Hades just to bring me back?” Neil was baffled.

Andrew’s unusual silence answered his question.

“I thought you hated me.” Neil stated.

“I do. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t save your life.”

Neil could hear his blood pounding in his ears. “You like me?”

Andrew made his way off of the rock he had settled on, lowering himself into a crouch in front of Neil who subconsciously moved closer to him. “Hate you.”

Neil fought off a smirk. “A liar knows a liar best.”

“I know you do, but I’m not lying.”

Another lie.

Chapter Text

Andrew and Neil arrived back at the camp shortly after.

Neil, still feeling weightless after Andrew’s confession, found it hard to keep his eyes off the other boy. Andrew however, was far more focussed with Kevin to either notice or comment. Neil guessed the latter. Neil hoped the latter.

The group were dispersing from the Big House, chatting vibrantly with one another as they began heading back to their cabins. Neil noted that Andrew was gone from Kevin's side and the group altogether, the remnants of mist evident as Neil studied where he had disappeared from. 

The peace only lasted a few moments. 

Lightning flashed in the dark clouds above them.

Kevin froze, a ghastly sound erupting from his throat as if he hadn't been anticipating the current moment for months. “He’s here.”

Neil sighed. He couldn’t catch a break.

“Get everyone inside.”

Wymack looked at Kevin as if he had grown a second skin. “What the –”

“I said get everyone inside,” Kevin repeated, grabbing Neil’s arm and dragging him in the direction of the lake.

“I’m not leaving the two of you alone out here are you fucking crazy, Kevin?”

“Let us handle it. We’ve handled him before, go.” Kevin, although looking unsure of his own words, held a sort of confidence that Neil had never seen on him before.

Neil wasn’t sure when Kevin had grown such a backbone.

As Kevin turned to move Wymack reached out and took hold of his shoulder. Despite the tense set to his own shoulders his eyes were surprisingly soft. “I lost your mother Kevin, I’m not going to lose you too.”

Kevin’s jaw clenched. “I have Neil. We’ll be fine.”

Neil tilted his head to the side. “Well –”

“We will be fine.” Kevin hissed, nodding at Wymack before dragging Neil through the chaos of camp members towards the lake.

“What are we doing?”

“I don’t know yet.”

Neil scoffed. “Riko is here and you don’t have a plan?”

“I did have a plan, but I had the ability to control and manipulate water back then.” Kevin’s words were laced with venom as they stopped at the sandbank.

“Your brother is here,” Andrew deadpanned, sitting at the edge of the wooden pier as if he had anticipated their arrival. “Thought you should know.”

Kevin flinched. “He’s not my brother.”

“Does he know that?” Kevin stayed silent, Neil moving past him to go stand next to Andrew. How did he know to come here? “He brought a small army with him.”

This caught Kevin’s attention. “You’re kidding.”

Andrew clicked his fingers, a small ball of mist appearing and showing a vision of soldiers clad in black and red moving through the forest. Andrew smiled as he collapsed the ball. “Oh no.”

“We need to tell Wymack –”

“Renee’s doing that as we speak,” Andrew replied, now standing. “If it’s a war he wants it’s a war he’ll get.”

“You can’t expect the camp to fight them, do you?” Neil asked, overwhelmed at the thought of his peers up against the likes of the Moriyama camp. He remembered their ruthlessness all too well.

“They fight or they die.” Andrew hummed, watching Kevin carefully. “What are you going to do?”

Kevin’s gaze soon flickered to the lake, something flashing in his eyes as the stillness consumed the trio. “The water.” He eventually muttered, Neil blinking at him in confusion.

“Yes, that’s definitely water.”

No, the water can help us.”

Neil bit his tongue in annoyance, irritated at Kevin’s ignorance. “Kevin the collar –”

“Fuck the collar.”

“Do you suppose that’s why he came?” Andrew asked, Neil noting the anger radiating from his small statue. “He heard you were powerless and decided it was a perfect time to make an appearance.”

Kevin looked uncomfortable at the thought. “Wouldn’t be the first time he attacked someone who was defenceless.”

“Coward.” Andrew sneered.

Kevin muttered something in French before closing his eyes, Neil waiting patiently for whatever he had planned. Andrew seemed just as intrigued as Kevin paced beside them before stopping at the very end of the pier.

Nothing happened for what felt like hours, although Neil was sure it was merely only a few seconds. A shrill wind picked up around them, the water below the pier they were stationed on moving and bubbling as if it had a mind of its own. Neil, after spending far too much time around Kevin by the water, was convinced it did.

The collar fell from Kevin’s neck.

Kevin’s eyes flew open, glowing a glorious green as the lake behind him thrummed with raw energy. Neil caught the edge of Andrew’s hungry gaze.

Kevin swept up his arms, a large mass of the water spiralling up and around him. It hovered for a moment before being released, the water moving into the atmosphere and surrounding the entirety of the camp in a large dome.

Kevin fell to his knees as the water hardened, breathing heavily as Neil looked up in awe at the water.

“Holy shit.”

Kevin hummed under his breath in response, Neil hearing Wymack’s loud exclamations behind the tree line.

Andrew kneeled next to Kevin and tapped his chin, scooping up a small remainder of the water of the lake and splashing it into Kevin’s face. The droplets stuck to his eyelashes as his eyes opened, Neil hearing the pair talking quietly as he surveyed what Kevin had achieved.

It gave Neil hope that one day he too could use his abilities for good.

That day however, was not today. Not with Riko so close. 

Andrew and Neil managed to carry Kevin back to the steps of the Big House, Abby instantly rushing over to him. Neil knew he was physically fine, albeit drained. Neil also knew he needed to conserve his energy for the hell Riko was going to bring with him.

“Kevin,” Wymack looked up in astonishment before his eyes landed on Kevin, Neil almost seeing the pride swelling in his chest. “You … how?”

“Perseverance,” Andrew answered, tapping his throat where Kevin’s collar used to be. “Though I’m not quite sure how he got rid of that little number.”

“It fell off.” Neil added.

Wymack stared, confusion evident in his eyes. “It fell off?”

Neil and Andrew nodded.

“It fell off, of course it did,” Wymack muttered under his breath, looking down at Kevin who blinked up at him in response. “How did you do it?”

Kevin’s jaw ticked. “I thought of my mother and wished for it to get the fuck off me, then it did.”

Wymack was about to argue when a bolt of lightning hit the very top of the dome, Abby flinching at the burst of light as she helped Kevin to his feet.

“Watch out Dorothy, the Witch is here,” Andrew laughed. “Not to take your ruby slippers but your life.”

“Shut up, Andrew.” Wymack muttered and turned to Kevin and Neil. “I’ll get everyone to the Armory, you idiots better not let him kill you while we’re gone.”

Neil nodded. “We can handle Riko, get them ready.”

Wymack hesitated, looking uncertain of leaving them alone once again before sighing. Andrew went to go with Kevin and Neil, but Wymack held out his arm to stop him. “Nope. You’re with me, psycho. You’re not going to rile Riko up any more than he already is, we have Neil for that.”

Andrew surprisingly didn’t protest, sending Kevin a strange look before disappearing into a wall of mist. Wymack swore and left with Abby, leaving Kevin and Neil to wander into the middle of the camp near the fire pit.

“It won’t take him long to break through.” Kevin said, looking nervously up at the towering dome above them.

Kevin (for once) was right – they didn’t have to wait long.

The sky darkened miraculously outside of the dome, a figure forming in the clouds before plummeting down to the earth – breaking a seal in the solid water with ease. Neil and Kevin both collectively took a step back as a cloud of dirt fanned out in front of them.

“Kevin,” Riko’s smile was all ice. “It’s been so long, I’ve missed you.”

Kevin grimaced at his words, the backbone Neil had bore witness to dwindling as his face turned ashen. Neil presumed Kevin could stomach the concept of Riko, but seeing him unfortunately alive and in the flesh was something he hadn’t quite prepared for.

“And it looks like I’ve already been replaced,” Riko’s eyes fell to Neil, darkening slightly as he took in his appearance. “Did your cherry finally pop, Nathaniel?”

Neil bristled at his words, his anger starting to rear its ugly head.

“We always knew there was something off with you, I had a feeling but we couldn’t prove it with your bitch of a mother always hiding you from us,” He stepped closer to the pair who instinctively (and perhaps stupidly) stood their ground. “Hades, who would have thought?”

“You did,” Neil retorted bluntly. “You literally just said you knew you fucking moron.”

The sky cracked with light as Riko’s ire exploded. “How dare you!” His head snapped back to Kevin. “Did you teach him nothing?”

“He’s not an object,” Kevin replied weakly. “It wasn’t necessary.”

“Wasn’t necessary? If we are to create an uprising all three offspring of the big three need to be disciplined,” Riko pointed a shaking hand at Kevin. “You couldn’t complete that one tiny order?”

Neil’s eyes narrowed at Riko’s words as he stepped forward. “How are you that deluded?” Kevin reached out in panic to pull him back but Neil swatted away his hand, using himself as a shield between Kevin and his abuser. “We won’t be a part of you war, whatever image you have of us is colluded with your gross inferiority complex.”

Riko’s face contorted into something ugly. “We are destined to destroy the Gods, their own powerful creations the cause of their demise.” His voice dropped low and deadly. “You belong to me, you always have.”

Jean then appeared behind Riko, looking increasingly uncomfortable as the other boy clicked his fingers at him. “Either you come with us willingly now, or we will destroy this pitiful camp and all of its inhabitants and take you with force. I am done playing these games.”

Kevin looked down at Neil, who grit his teeth as the grass below him withered. He was tired, so utterly tired of being beaten down and treated as nothing more than an object. If he could endure his father’s wrath he could endure anything.

Riko Moriyama was nothing more than the scum on the bottom of his shoes.

“No.”

Riko raised a thin eyebrow, displeasure rolling off him in waves. “No?”

No.” Neil snarled, raising his hand and concentrating, soon watching as various bony hands clawed from the ground and took hold of Riko’s feet. Riko cried out in rage as he fell to the ground, Neil wishing to silence him permanently with a bone to the throat.

Kevin jumped back in shock, locking eyes with Jean who seemed at a loss of what to do. “Don’t just stand there idiot, help me.” Riko hissed at Jean, Kevin deciding to take Neil’s hand and pull him away.

Neil pulled out of his grip as Riko started shouting in Japanese, Jean letting go off him as he started gesturing wildly to the soldiers – the Ravens – positioned around the dome. Neil knew it was a call to battle.

Kevin winced as soon as they got a safe distance away. “They’re going to kill everyone.”

“They can try.” Dan said, Neil watching as the rest of his friends and camp members dispersed from their cabins and the Big House, weapons and armour at their disposal as Wymack stood in the centre of them. Nicky waved at Neil from the top of the Apollo cabin, his golden bow and quiver glistening in the afternoon sun.

Andrew appeared shortly after next to Neil, the remanets of the mist floating around them almost peacefully. It was a stark contrast to the chaos about to transpire. “Ten.”

“Ten what?”

“There’s a bet that ten people will die.” Neil shook his head in dismay, Andrew cutting him off before he could reply. “Try not to be one of them, I’d hate that.”

Neil fought off a wry smile, wincing as the Ravens began to fire their own spears and arrows at the water. 

Kevin doubled over as the dome quickly and violently shattered, gasping as he did his best to protect the camp from the incredible force of the falling water. Renee and members of the Ares cabin threw various knives and objects at the large clumps of hardened liquid, shattering them into small pieces to ensure no one was brutally crushed.

“It was a good idea in theory, man.” Matt smirked at Kevin, who sent the remnants of the water at the soldiers rushing towards them – knocking only a few off their feet.

“Leave Riko to Kevin and Neil,” Wymack ordered as the camp members started to move forward. “Don’t be stupid and give them hell.”

War cries erupted from both crowds as they collided in the middle of the camp.


 

Chaos was too lightly of a term to describe the melee.

Neil was reminded of the capture the flag game at the beginning of his time at the camp, but that was nothing to the pandemonium of battle – this was all too real and unsettling.

Neil lost Kevin who ran to the aid of Dan and Allison, Andrew quickly disappearing to assist a vastly outnumbered Aaron. Neil, cautiously on the lookout for either Riko or Jean, hung to the back of the writhing crowd, too fearful of using his powers as he had no idea how to stop his abilities from hurting his camp members instead of the Ravens.

Neil, who had stupidly turned his back to a portion of the skirmish, felt a burning pain in his leg before dodging a bright bolt of lightning.  

Another soon flew in the direction of Neil, who had no time to react and fell to the ground; the air knocked from his lungs as he was quickly flipped onto his back with a knife to his throat. Riko towered over him, eyes wide and nearing delirious as the commotion around them zoned out of Neil’s mind entirely – all his attention on the abomination holding him down.

“This is not going to end well for you and your people, give up now and give me Kevin.”

“Kevin is not your pet.” Neil hissed, Riko spitting in his face in reply.

Neil forcefully pushed Riko away who then rapidly shot yet another spear of lightning in his direction. Neil covered himself with a shadow, the flash of light ricocheting into the air and combusting.

“You’re a child, you know nothing!”

“I know enough. I know you have the temperament of a small infant, I know you are too stupid to understand the consequences of your actions and I know you aren’t a human being to your family only a commodity.” Neil laughed in his face, the sound horrible to his own ears. “I know you’re a disgusting, abusive cunt.”

Fury was too much of an understatement for the dark look that consumed Riko’s features.

The wind around them picked up, Neil almost losing his balance at the ferocity of the gusts Riko was conjuring. Two large ropes of wind akin to tornados generated next to him, Neil awaiting the blow before something fast and solid hit Riko in the chest, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Kevin lowered his hand as Riko rose to his feet, the two not breaking eye contact or considering the battle around them. Neil wanted nothing more than to destroy Riko himself, but felt Kevin was more deserving.

“Stop this.”

“Come with me and this will end.”

“We can’t do that –”

“I don’t want him,” Riko spat, not even looking at Neil as he mentioned him. “Not anymore. We belong together Kevin, we are inseparable. We cannot exist apart, you know that.”

Neil spotted Andrew’s familiar figure metres behind Riko, the latter completely unaware of his presence as he spoke to Kevin in a cruel, condescending manner.

“Your father abandoned you, don’t you wish for revenge?” Riko cooed, opening his arms as if he were about to embrace Kevin. He was acting sickeningly kind. “Come with me, brother.”

Kevin was silent for far too long, a part of Neil panicking at the thought that Kevin would actually consider Riko’s offer. Neil kicked himself later for the thought ever crossing his mind.

“David Wymack is my father,” Kevin whispered fiercely. “You are nothing to me.”

The tranquil façade fell. “I will burn you to the ground.” Riko hissed.

Kevin smiled sadly. “If only that were true.”

Kevin’s eyes hardened as he surrounded Riko with a swirling torrent of water, Riko’s furious shouting turning into violent screams as Andrew filled the current with a ferocious blue flame.

Neil gagged at the smell of burning skin, Kevin looking pained as Riko’s screams abruptly cut off. Neil caught Andrew’s eye, his cruel smile nauseating as he revelled in Riko’s demise. Kevin, upon noticing the cease of the battle surrounding them, dissipated the water.

Riko lay motionless on the ground, almost unrecognisable due to his charred skin.

Kevin fell to his knees, disbelief consuming his features as he moved slowly over to where he lay. Neil watched as Kevin’s hands trembled, reaching out for Riko almost grotesquely. Kevin opened his mouth, about to speak when a burst of light erupted from Riko’s corpse.

Kevin screamed.

Chaos ensued as Kevin withered on the ground in agony, his shaking hands clawing at his skin feverously. A drained looking Wymack rushed over, both him and Andrew soon hovering over Kevin – one watching in horror, the other intrigued.

“Kevin, Kevin stop –!” Wymack turned to Andrew, eyes frantic as he took hold of Kevin’s shoulders to still him. “What the fuck is happening?”

Neil – who startled at the piercing sound – moved forward as Kevin choked, hesitantly moving around Wymack and reaching out to remove Kevin’s hands to examine his face.

Neil froze.

The skin sizzled and burned as a pattern wove its way into Kevin’s skin, Neil feeling his heart in his throat at the sight. Tears were overflowing in Kevin’s eyes as he gazed at Neil, whispering frantically in French as he gasped through the agony.

Andrew peered over Neil’s shoulder, a disgruntled sound erupting from low in his throat as he assessed the damage. “Riko left a goodbye present.”

Wymack swore.

A distinct number 2 was burnt into Kevin’s left cheekbone.

Neil felt his skin crawl at Andrew’s words, overcome with horror as his fingers curled into Kevin’s own. Kevin had stopped making noise altogether, whether to his own avail or as a result of Andrew’s hushed, “Calm down, you can’t stop it.”

“I need water.”

Wymack sighed, “Kevin, it’s going to scar –”

Kevin’s glare was near murderous as liquid erupted from a pipe metres from them, the water cascading out and hovering over to where Kevin now kneeled.

Kevin sat in silence as the water moved tenderly over his skin, weaving over the damage as he stared at the wall. Neil guessed he felt as numb as he looked.

Kevin suddenly cried out in anger, the water exploding away from him in a violent cascade. “It’s not working.” The water had healed the initial wound but the scar was still prominent.

“Because he made sure it would be permanent.” Neil muttered, feeling uncomfortable at the thought.

Even in death Riko had control over Kevin.

Chapter Text

The slowness of the following day was ultimately jarring to Neil.

Wymack had left the camp to their own devices after helping Abby patch up the injured and clean up the mess made of the grounds. Surprisingly there was only one fatality among the camp, but Neil couldn’t find it within himself to feel any real remorse as he didn’t know the boy from the Ares cabin.

Dan found Neil shortly after Wymack had left, embracing him in a bone crushing hug before taking his face in her hands. “We did it.” She beamed, Neil feeling warmth spread throughout his chest. “Are you hurt?”

“No, we’re okay,” Neil motioned to Kevin and Andrew behind them, his eyes locking on the ugly scar on Kevin’s cheek. “Mostly.”

Dan’s eyes wandered to Kevin’s face, her face dropping slightly before she turned back to Neil. “Is Riko really, you know –”

“He’s gone.”

Neil heard Kevin’s angry voice behind him, Neil turning to watch as Andrew started to drag Riko’s charred body across the ground. Neil watched with curiosity as Kevin made no real attempt to stop him until Andrew’s gaze settled on the lake.

“Don’t you fucking dare, Andrew.”

“Is that…?” Nicky asked as the rest of the group walked up behind Dan, Matt nodding in confirmation.

“It’s what he deserved.” Allison muttered, Neil feeling the emotion in her voice as he knew her mind was drifting to Seth.

Neil’s attention quickly drew back to Kevin. “… if you throw him in there –”

“You’ll what?” Andrew asked Kevin, tilting his head as he flicked his wrist, Neil watching as Riko’s body lifted off the ground and hurtled into the lake.

Kevin swore loudly, scowling at Neil who threw up his hands. Kevin then stormed off to the water, shouting at Andrew as he passed him.

“He’s not going to forgive you for that.” Neil said.

“His body will eventually dissolve,” Andrew said. “Probably.”

Currently, Neil stood in the hallway of the Big House, arms crossed in front of him as he waited patiently for Andrew.

Neil was grateful for the moment of peace, for the rare ability to just stop and think. He was still unsure of his fate in regards to his father, which left more questions than answers in Neil’s mind. He couldn't stay at the camp forever, Wymack would eventually get tired of him and now that the threat of Riko and indefinitely the Moriyama’s was eradicated Neil was even more at a loss of what his future held. 

Neil, who had found himself irrevocably lost in his own thoughts, didn’t notice Kevin’s presence next to him.

He jumped slightly, but quickly calmed himself down soon after. Neil wasn’t the one allowed to be anxious, all attention needed to be on Andrew and Kevin and the precarious task they were about to endeavour.

“How’s your face?”

“It has a two on it.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.”

Neil felt his lips upturn into a small smirk at their exchange. “Are you worried?”

“I’d be an idiot if I wasn’t,” Kevin muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck. Neil could sense his fear, knowing his mind was surely delving deep into his fractured past. “I just hope Andrew knows what he’s doing.”

Neil nodded. “You’ll be fine.”

“I sure hope so,” Andrew drawled beside Kevin, Neil – who was used to Andrew’s abrupt movements through the mist – didn’t flinch as he did with Kevin’s arrival. “It would be ironic to die a day after Riko; especially with that number on your face.”

Wymack’s loud call resonated through the hallway, Kevin immediately moving down the entry. Andrew hung back with Neil for a moment, who eventually asked, “Are we sure this is even going to work?”

Andrew tapped his chin thoughtfully. “She injected a poison into my body, Kevin has the ability to control that nonsense. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”

Neil couldn’t even begin to comprehend how Andrew was feeling. For a substantial portion of his life he had been stuck in a debilitating state of mania, said mania about to be abruptly taken from him. Neil wondered if Andrew even remembered what he was like before the curse took hold.

“I guess so.”

The pair eventually made their way to Wymack’s office, entering just as Kevin had positioned his large desk across to the wall. Wymack nodded in their direction as Andrew strode to the centre of the room, Neil watching as Kevin and Andrew spoke quietly among themselves.

Kevin then looked over at Neil. “If anything happens,” He said. “Do what you need to.”

“It won’t.”

“Wanna make a bet?” Andrew asked, eyes wide and glassy as he looked as if he was struggling to stay still.

“Are you sure about this?” Neil heard Wymack ask, Kevin waving his hand in dismissal at his words. Neil could see the underlying tension and the strain in Kevin’s green eyes, but he knew he owed Andrew this.

“Come on Kevin,” Andrew whispered, his cheeks flushed. “I don’t have all century.”

Wymack moved over to Neil who had positioned himself on a large wooden desk. Wymack was radiating anxiety and Neil couldn’t blame him. What Kevin had described of his use of Toxikinesis was nothing short of horrifying.

Wymack tapped his chin as he spoke. “I don’t want him to hurt himself.” Neil didn’t know whether he was talking about Andrew or Kevin, but he nodded nonetheless.

Kevin, upon rolling his shoulders and taking a deep breath, closed his eyes. He waited a moment before opening them again, his eyelids heavy as the green of his iris’ darkened as he settled himself.

Andrew made a small groan as the first part of the poison rose from his chest, Kevin tilting his head and starting to move the toxic haze out in front of the pair as he continued the removal.

Kevin’s fingers writhed as he enticed the green toxin from Andrew, whose jaw clenched as the haze was forcibly removed from him. Neil couldn’t take his eyes off Andrew, gauging his reaction, unsure of what would become of him after the curse was removed.

Neil watched with curiosity as the green haze hovered almost obediently above Kevin, Andrew gritting his teeth and letting out a short whine as more and more of Akhlys’s curse was expulsed from his body.

Neil felt dread slowly seeping into the back of his mind as he watched Kevin’s eyes darken incredibly, looking almost black as his twitching fingers began to shake rapidly.

“Stop it.” Wymack told him, Neil’s eyes widening.

“But –”

“I don’t care Josten, stop him. This was a stupid fucking idea.”

Andrew fell to his hands and knees as the last of the curse was removed, Neil unable to tend to him as he was far too focussed on Kevin.

“Wymack, when do we…?” A familiar voice asked from the doorway, Neil’s head snapping in the direction of Dan in shock. She froze in the threshold, her dark eyes taking in the scene in front of her in utter confusion.

Dan gasped as the toxin abruptly flew in her direction, Wymack shouting at Kevin in panic as Neil rapidly solidified the shadow from the wall in front of Dan to protect her from the lethal haze. Kevin seemed completely unaware of what he was doing, in a trance of his own conception.

Neil moved in front of him, ready to unleash his abilities as he stared Kevin down. “Stop,” Neil whispered heatedly. “You’re not there, you’re here with Wymack, with us. Riko’s gone, you killed him, remember?”

Kevin looked down at him blankly, as if he had no idea who Neil was. The black, soulless orbs made Neil feel sick. “Please.”

“You know I hate that word.”

Neil felt a gust of wind as Andrew swept his hand to the side and sent Kevin hurtling out of the window, Neil pushing through his initial surprise to gape at him. “Andrew?”

Andrew stayed silent, staring at Kevin’s defeated form apathetically. Neil, for a moment, was stunned into silence, unable to comprehend the loss of the mania.

“Jesus Christ,” Wymack muttered, consoling a stunned Dan before looking in Andrew and Neil’s direction. “Well go on, check on him. You don’t just throw someone out a window and walk away.”

Andrew took hold of Neil’s hand and moved through the mist, materializing next to Kevin who was sat hunched against the wall of the Big House. “Did you break anything?”

Kevin blinked up at Andrew, shock written on his face as he took in Andrew’s demeanour. “Did it work?”

“Yes. Did you break anything?”

“Obviously not.” Kevin groaned in response, taking Neil’s hand as he pulled him to his feet. “Thank you for stopping me.”

Neil shrugged. “It was more Andrew. He threw you out a window.”

Kevin’s smile was bitter. “I’m aware.”

“Are we done here?” Andrew asked, not giving Kevin time to answer before he walked away. Neil hesitated slightly before following, about to call out to him when a familiar mist curled around his wrists.

His body felt weightless for a moment before he landed in an opening, the exact opening where he had trained with Wymack countless times in the months beforehand. To Neil, it felt like years ago with everything that had occurred.

Andrew was already sitting with his back against a large rock, a cigarette already in his mouth as his eyes followed Neil’s movements intently.

“Why are we here?”

Andrew didn’t answer, instead blowing the smoke in Neil’s direction. The smoke soon morphed into a fox, the animal dancing around Neil before imploding on itself.

“Andrew –”

“Why do you do it?”

Neil sighed and sat opposite Andrew, raising an eyebrow at his words. “Do what?”

“Be near me, listen to me,” Andrew said simply, albeit Neil knew the conversation was beyond monumental. “Most people can’t stand it.”

“I don’t mind being near you.” I like it and I like you, Neil left unsaid.

“You’re idiotic.”

Neil hummed in agreement, tapping his knee caps as he waited for Andrew to speak again. Andrew didn’t.

Instead Andrew threw away his cigarette and pushed himself off the rock, now sitting directly in front of Neil. He was merely centimetres away, the sunlight through the trees exposing the freckles on Andrew’s nose.

Neil’s gaze was intense as his chest heaved for air, the proximity to Andrew almost suffocating. Andrew, upon noticing this, moved entirely between Neil’s legs as he kneeled in front of him.

“Yes or no?”

“What?” Neil’s response was as breathy as it was hushed. Andrew’s bored stare was such a harsh contrast to his accustomed mania, it continued to stun Neil entirely.

“I'm going to kiss you. Yes or no?” Andrew repeated.

Neil, once again, felt weightless. “Yes, Andrew –”

Andrew kissed him.

Neil felt like he was falling, his mind working a million miles an hour as Andrew kissed him with an intensity Neil wasn’t aware Andrew possessed. He didn't know what to think, what to do due to lack of experience, closing his eyes and letting Andrew take control.

Neil groaned as Andrew’s fingers wound into his hair, hands beginning to shake as he felt the familiar urge of his powers surge in his chest. He had to stop, his abilities were itching like a second skin just waiting for release, but he needed Andrew.  

Andrew stopped kissing Neil.

Abram,” Andrew said against his lips, hazel eyes intense and cheeks flushed as he gazed up at Neil. “You need to calm down.”

Neil swallowed the lump in his throat and took a deep breath, eyes widening as he was unable to push back his powers with the ease he was accustomed to. “I … I can't.”

Andrew stared. “What do you mean you can't?”

“I mean I can't Andrew,” Neil said, hearing the slight undertones of hysteria in his voice and hating himself for it. “Kevin told me to mentally force it back down. It's not working Andrew, I don't know what to do.”

“Then let it go.”

Neil stopped rambling and shook his head, remembering what had happened with Romero and shivering. “Last time I did that you know what happened.”

“You've grown since last time. Let it go.”

Neil had the inclination Andrew and Kevin had experienced an analogous situation.

“Andrew –”

“You won't hurt me,” Andrew said, the apathy astounding as he stared in the face of what could possibly be his death. “Let yourself go.”

Neil – perhaps stupidly – decided to put his faith in Andrew, gripping tightly to the grass beneath him before mentally tearing down the wall that enclosed his wrath. At first, nothing happened, a calm before the storm before the grass beneath them wilted and the temperature of the air dropped substantially.

Neil’s eyes opened as the ground began to shake, feeling the euphoria he despised erupting in his stomach as he held back his grin that reminded him so evidently of his father.

Andrew watched cautiously as the shadows around them solidified and dissipated continuously at an alarming rate, dodging a bone whirling through the air all the while whilst keeping intense eye contact with Neil.

Neil was beginning to lose himself as hazy figures began to rise out of the ground around them, the intense and addictive power humming through him urging to overtake him completely.

Neil felt his face contorting into a frenzied grin as he revelled in the power he was emitting, breaths short and sharp and fanning out in front of him in the immense cold he radiated. This was what his father wanted of him, what he wanted to turn him into.

Andrew’s voice sounded as if he was under water as he spoke to him, Neil too overcome with his abilities to understand or care. Neil had the urge to break bones, to hear the splitting of cartilage; to hurt. He was delving too deep into that side of himself, but he didn't want to stop; he craved the feeling he had been supressing for months.

Neil’s ears were ringing as the natural light around them faltered. A large crack in the ground threatened to swallow them whole, Neil feeling his entire body beginning to shake at the power he was radiating. The air had gone still as the earth rumbled, otherworldly figures circling Neil as his blue eyes darkened immensely.

Neil, despite the overstimulation, could still detect Andrew’s presence through the anarchy.

He felt a pressure on the back of his neck, sighing into the touch as Andrew’s lips brushed against his own. He gave all of himself to the kiss, Neil feeling Andrew’s mist circling the pair as they lost themselves to their abilities.

Chapter Text

2 days later

 

“I’m just saying,” Nicky muttered. “Pineapple belongs on pizza.”

“You’re fucking dead to me.” Allison hissed, pushing Nicky’s shoulder who laughed as he fell out of his chair.

Neil sat there, content and silent as he watched his family interact. He felt Matt’s rumbling laughter as he leaned on him sideways to talk to Renee, who chuckled quietly at whatever he was saying. The warmth in his chest that he had felt with Dan merely only a few days ago returned.

Family to Neil had always been toxic, something to avoid and loathe, but they had all changed that in their acceptance of him. It was a strange, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.

“Neil,” Neil turned his head at the sound of Matt's voice. “You okay? You’re acting kind of spacey.”

“I’m just thinking.”

“About Andrew?”

Neil’s eyes widened, Matt’s laugh loud and friendly. “Don’t worry buddy, your secret’s safe with Renee and I.” Neil, who knew of Andrew and Renee’s friendship, figured he had told her. When exactly, he wasn't entirely sure. 

Matt’s smile was eventually wiped from his face, his tone far more serious as his kind eyes searched Neil's face for something. “If he does anything to hurt you, tell me.”

“He won’t.”

“But if he does, I won’t hesitate to kick his ass.”

Neil smiled. “Good luck with that.”

Neil soon departed the Apollo cabin, hearing shouts of goodbyes from everyone as he waved awkwardly at them. He tapped his fingers on the cabin as he walked away, no destination in mind as he waited for Andrew and Kevin. 

The camp was finally looking as it was before Riko's arrival. The buildings that had been affected were either repaired or would soon be finished, the grass green and the vibe of the camp more cheerier than solemn. It was a stark juxtaposition Neil found hard to wrap his mind around. 

Neil watched as Kevin and Wymack exited the Big House, Neil feeling his own anxiety for Kevin as he was soon to embark on his first session with his father in Olympus.

Neil saw Andrew appear from behind them, looking agitated at the fact he had to leave Kevin to his own devices in an unfamiliar environment. Neil only heard the end of his send-off to Kevin, “…any of them try to touch you I will end them.”

“They’re immortal, Andrew.”

“If they bleed they can die.”

Kevin, who looked too tired to argue, shook his head and walked after Wymack. Neil waited until Andrew was next to him before he spoke, “He’ll be fine.” Andrew didn’t answer, Neil deciding to change the subject. “Jean is safe by the way, he found sanctuary in other camp.”

“I don’t care about him.”

“Kevin does.”

“Did you mistake Kevin for me?”

Neil shrugged. “It’s pretty easy with your similar heights.” Neil smirked down at Andrew, whose eyes locked with his in contempt.

“I hate you.”

“Get in line.”


 

Neil sat on the rooftop of the Big House with Andrew, looking out at the still camp in silence.

Neil could sense something had changed between them, even the air around them felt different. Neil noticed and felt Andrew’s steady gaze whenever his eyes landed on him, noticed the heavy weight pressing against his chest as he imagined the kiss over and over whenever their eyes locked. His skin burned with heat at Andrew’s casual touches.

It was jarring, Neil had never felt that way towards anyone before.

At least not until now.

“You’re doing it again.”

Neil blinked slowly, tiredness sweeping over him due to the late hour. “Hmm?”

“You’re overthinking. I can see your brain working,” Andrew said. “Stop or you’ll give yourself an aneurysm.”

“You’d hate that.”

“I’d be glad.”

Neil smiled lazily, pulling his knees closer to his chest as he’d grown cold in the brisk air. Andrew, upon noticing, muttered under his breath and ignited a flame. The fire floated in the air in front of them, Neil shivering as the heat lapped at his skin.

“They planned a meeting in Olympus with my father,” Neil muttered. “I overheard Wymack talking about it with Abby. He wants me there to show my ‘innocence’ or whatever. It’s in a few days.”

Andrew didn’t reply for a moment, Neil wondering if he had even heard him. “I’m going.”

“Wymack won’t let that happen,” Neil argued. “Besides, I don’t want you there. I don’t want him anywhere near you.”

“Too bad.”

Neil sighed. “Your funeral.”

“I’m not the martyr here.”

Neil turned to face Andrew, his entire body now pointed towards him. Neil found it ironic that months before Andrew was the bane of his existence. He would've laughed in the face of anyone who told him how close he would be to Andrew only a few months later. “I told you, I have to be dead for that.”

“You’re nothing.”

“A nothing you were going to go to the Underworld to retrieve.”

Andrew raised an eyebrow slowly, his exasperation apparent. “An irritating nothing.”

Neil then reached out for the fire, feeling Andrew’s sharp gaze on him as Neil welcomed the flame. “Yesterday Kevin was talking about my burns,” Neil motioned haphazardly to his face. “He wanted to see my resistance to heat, so he put my hand into a fire pit.”

Andrew’s shoulders tensed. “Fucking idiot.”

Neil shook his head. “It was fine, we were by the lake. If anything happened he could’ve healed me instantly.”

“Both of you, idiots.”

They watched as the fire danced around Neil’s hand, swirling and moving and not seeming to affect him at all. Neil felt a slight itch, but no immense pain. “This happened. So, Lola’s –” Neil paused. “The Furies whip was still able to do this –” Neil motioned to his face. “– despite my resistance.”

“They use it for torture,” Andrew drawled. “Who would’ve thought it would hurt.”

Neil closed his fist and blew out the flame. “Who knew being curse-less would make you even more of a sarcastic asshole.”

“Who knew a son of Hades would be such a pain in my ass.”

Neil felt his lips twist into a small grin. “You knew.”

Andrew hummed under his breath, Neil’s fingers twitching at the sound. “And unfortunately, you still stuck around.”

“Can I ask you something?” Neil asked, knowing he had Andrew’s attention. “What is this?”

“I thought our game was done.”

“It is,” Neil said. “But I want to know what we are right now.” Neil was slightly hesitant, unsure of what Andrew’s reaction would be. He knew Andrew liked him, there was a definite attraction that Neil himself struggled to understand. Neil also knew Andrew was probably just as in the dark as he was about relationships.

Andrew waited for what felt like an eternity to answer. “This is nothing, just like you.”

“I thought you hated liars.”

“Where did I lie?”

Neil tilted his head. “Are you afraid of letting me in?”

“I’m afraid of heights.”

Neil blinked in surprise. “Oh. Oh. Andrew we’re on a roof.”

“Thank you for reminding me,” Andrew said. “I used to come here in the middle of the night when I was cursed. It was the only thing that made me feel normal.”

Fear. Neil, who was overly accustomed to the feeling, could relate.

“I stopped when you arrived,” Andrew added, Neil’s eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “You were enough.”

“I frightened you?” Neil asked, perplexed.

“The idea of you.” Andrew looked as if he were struggling to put his thoughts into words.

Neil tried to conceal the shock on his face. The idea of Neil, of Andrew having someone who understood him and stayed with him, was enough to break the stupor of his curse and make him feel something other than the mania.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Andrew murmured, taking Neil’s chin in his hands. 

“Yes.” Neil breathed, answering Andrew' question before he was able to ask it. Perhaps it was ridiculous, even dangerous, but for Andrew Neil's answer would always be yes.

Neil sighed into Andrew’s kiss, losing himself in his thoughts as Andrew slowly took him apart.

Neil, who had never felt complete safety and security in his life, was for once more than fine.

He was happy and it was all he needed.

 

END

Chapter Text

“We’re basically inviting ourselves into Kevin’s home.” Matt jeered.

“The Moriyama's never let me anywhere near the ocean.” Kevin mused, staring out at the large expanse of sea in front of him with curious green eyes. There was a flash of longing and sadness in them, and Neil couldn't find it within himself to look away.

Matt’s smile dropped as he turned to look at Kevin. “Why?”

“Do you realise what he could've done to them if given full access to his father’s domain?” Andrew asked with a raised eyebrow. “Don't ask questions you know the answer to, don't be stupid.”

Matt threw up his hands and shook his head, looking exasperated with Andrew as he moved to stand with Dan.

“You can go,” Neil then said quietly next to Kevin, who looked down at him curiously as if not understanding the intention of his words. “The ocean, you can go in it now, so go. No one’s stopping you.” Kevin looked uncertain, his face turning ashen at the thought.

Neil felt Andrew's presence at his back, Kevin glancing at him for a moment before sighing. He moved down the sandbank with apprehension, Neil following him slowly out of more curiosity than concern. 

Neil had to stop as the water lapped at his bare ankles, feeling the air around him intensify with power as Kevin waded waist deep into the water. He could feel the others eyes on them, watching them intently as if unsure of what would happen.

Kevin suddenly disappeared under the water, fear spreading through Neil before he settled. There wasn't a place on earth that Kevin was safer in. 

The water around Kevin began to stir, fish and other sea life moving around vibrantly as the sunlight shimmered across the clear blue water. 

Kevin soon resurfaced, a brilliant smile on his face as the liquid moved on its own accord around his arms. It reminded Neil of what shadows did with him, Neil concealing a smile as he basked in Kevin's joy. 


Andrew leaned in closer to Neil, his hazel eyes electric as he watched him slightly recoil at his stare. Neil wasn't sure what to anticipate, the instinct to run itching under his skin. Andrew, upon noticing the urge, reached out to take a firm hold of his shirt, holding him so impossibly close that Neil felt Andrew’s hot breath fan in his face.

“I hate you,” Andrew finally said, his normally emotive face impassive - a polar opposite to the mania he had grown so accustomed to. It was startling. “You're idiotic.”

“For wanting to get to know you?” Neil replied, a heat in his voice as he spat out his scathing reply. “Oh sue me Andrew. You know you can't keep pushing everyone away, it's unhealthy.”

“Who says i’m the one doing the pushing,” Andrew grit out, Neil figuring this was a close to furious as Andrew could get. His nostrils were flaring as his stance was tense, his eyes ablaze as he watched Neil intently. “Don't even begin to try to talk about something you don't understand, it's childish.”

“God that's rich coming from you,” Neil spat, pushing away from Andrew.


 

Neil gaze was intense as his chest heaved for air, the close proximity to Andrew almost suffocating. Andrew, upon noticing this, moved entirely between Neil’s legs as he kneeled in front of him.

“Yes or no?”

“What?” Neil’s response was as breathy as it was hushed. Andrew’s bored stare was such a harsh contrast to his accustomed mania, it continued to stun Neil entirely.

“Yes or no?” Andrew repeated.

“Andrew I don't know what you mean-”

Andrew kissed him.

(Start of next chapter)

Neil’s mother had warned him about girls, about how they're a distraction; that relationships are futile and uneeded. She had often beaten him for even looking at girl’s, Neil never having the courage to tell her about his first kiss with one of the girl’s at the Moriyama camp.

That chaste kiss was nothing to the intensity of Andrew’s.

Neil felt like he was falling, his mind working a million miles an hour as Andrew kissed him. He didn't know what to think, what to do due to lack of experience, closing his eyes and letting Andrew take control.

Neil groaned as Andrew’s fingers wound into his hair, hands beginning to shake as he felt the familiar urge of his powers surge in his chest. He had to stop, his abilities were itching like a second skin just waiting for release, but he needed Andrew.  

Andrew stopped kissing Neil.

Abram ,” Andrew said against his lips, hazel eyes intense and cheeks flushed as he gazed up at Neil. “You need to calm down.”

Neil swallowed the lump in his throat and took a deep breath, eyes widening as he was unable to push back his powers with the ease he was accustomed to. “I … I can't.”

Andrew stared. “What do you mean you can't?”

“I mean I can't Andrew,” Neil said, hearing the slight undertones of hysteria in his voice and hating himself for it. “Kevin taught me to mentally force it back down. It's not working Andrew, I don't know what-”

“Then let it go.”

Neil stopped rambling and shook his head. “Last time I did that-”

"You've grown since last time. Let it go.”

Neil had the inclination Andrew and Kevin had experienced a similar situation, but decided to not bring it up.

“Andrew-”

“You won't hurt me,” Andrew said, the apathy astounding as he stared in the face of what could possibly be his demise. “Let yourself go.”

Neil blinked in confusion, gripping tightly to the grass beneath him before mentally tearing down the wall that enclosed his power. At first, nothing happened, a calm before the storm of sorts before the grass beneath them wilted and the temperature of the air dropped substantially.

Neil’s eyes opened as the ground began to shake, feeling the euphoria he despised erupting in his stomach as he held back his grin that reminded him so evidently of his father.

Andrew watched cautiously as the shadows around them solidified and dissipated continuously at an alarming rate, dodging a bone whirling through the air all the while whilst keeping intense eye contact with Neil.

Neil was beginning to lose himself as hazy figures began to rise out of the ground around them, the intense and delectable power humming through him urging to overtake him completely.

He couldn't find it in himself to suppress his grin any longer.

Neil felt his face contorting into a manic grin as he reveled in the power he was emitting, breaths short and sharp and fanning out in front of him in the immense cold he radiated.

Andrew’s voice sounded as if he was under water as he spoke to him, Neil too overcome with his abilities to understand or care. Neil had the urge to break bones, to hear the splitting of cartilage; to hurt . He was delving too deep into that side of himself, but he didn't want to stop; he craved this feeling.

Neil’s ears were ringing as the natural light around them faltered, grin still stretched and ugly across his face as a cool, cruel laugh rumbled from his stomach at the havoc he was creating.

A large crack in the ground threatened to swallow them, Neil feeling his entire body beginning to shake at the power he was radiating. The air had gone still as the earth rumbled, otherworldly figures circling Neil as his blue eyes darkened immensely 

Andrew, upon recollecting this later, wanted to argue the darkness were his pupil’s dilating, but he wasn't sure that was the case.

Neil, despite the over stimulation, was able to detect various familiar voice in the midst of the chaos.  

“Andrew Joseph Minyard what the fuck-?”

“He's fine. Suppressing that ugly side of him isn't going to make it go away, now he’ll have a greater hold over it,” Andrew shrugged nonchalantly at Wymack and Kevin. “You're welcome for doing your job for you, both of you .”

As Wymack argued with an uncaring Andrew, Kevin crouched down in front of Neil and took hold on his cheeks, green eyes hesitant and prodding as he took in his rattled appearance.

“Your eyes,” He trailed off, Neil blinking rapidly in response to get rid off whatever had happened to them. He had a hunch at what had occurred. “They’re-” 

“I don't want to know.” Neil insisted, not bothering to push off Kevin’s hands from his face as the two boys stared at each other.

“Andrew asked the same of me,” Kevin then whispered, catching Neil’s attention immediately. Neil’s hunch was correct. “I nearly flooded the camp, but after it I had so much more control.”


 

“Neil come with me,” Wymack insisted,

“Andrew wants you there when we try, God, when we try whatever the hell we’re doing.”

“Why did you want me here?”

“Because,” Andrew mused, walking backwards to the centre of the room to stand with a cautious Kevin. “Despite the preconceived notion of my seemingly reasonable intellect, I trust you.”

“Are you sure about this?” Neil heard Wymack ask, Kevin waving his hand is dismissal at his words. Neil could see the underlying tension and the strain in Kevin’s green eyes, but he knew he owed Andrew this.

“Come on Kevin,” Andrew said. “I don't have all century.”

 Wymack moved over to Neil, who had positioned himself on the large wooden desk. Wymack was radiating anxiety, and Neil couldn't blame him. What Kevin had described of his use of toxikinesis was nothing short of horrifying.

Wymack tapped his chin as he spoke, “I don't want him to hurt himself.” Neil didn't know whether he was talking about Andrew or Kevin, but nodded nonetheless.

Kevin, upon rolling his shoulders and taking a deep breath, closed his eyes. He waited a moment before opening them again, his eyelids heavy as the green of his iris’ darkened as he settled himself.

Andrew made a small groan as the first part of the poison rose from his chest, Kevin tilting his head and moving the toxic haze out in front of them as he continued the removal.

Kevin’s fingers writhed as he enticed the green toxin from Andrew, whose jaw clenched as the haze was forcibly removed from him. Neil couldn't take his eyes off of Andrew, gauging his reaction, unsure himself of what would become of him after the toxin was removed.


The green mist halted mid air.

Kevin screamed.

Neil, startled at the piercing sound, jumped to his feet; watching as Kevin’s knees buckled and he fell to the floor. His hands flew up to his face as he clawed at his skin, hoarse cries of agony the only sound in the room besides Wymack’s curses.

“Kevin, Kevin stop- !” Wymack turned to Andrew, eyes frantic as he took hold of Kevin’s shoulders to still him. “What the fuck is happening?”

Andrew didn't answer and instead looked half in trance, his eyes dazed and blank as the process of removing the toxin had been abruptly halted.

Neil moved forward as Kevin gagged, hesitantly moving around Wymack and reaching out to remove Kevin’s hands to examine his cheeks.

Neil froze.

The skin sizzled and scarred as a pattern wove its way into Kevin’s skin, Neil feeling his heart in his throat at the sight. A distinct number two was somehow being burnt into Kevin’s left cheekbone.

Tears were overflowing in Kevin’s eyes as he gazed at Neil, whispering frantically in French as he gasped through the agony. Neil, too overcome with horror to translate, could only understand one word Kevin was repeating.

Riko .

Wymack, hearing the name also, took Kevin’s cheek in his hand and looked at Neil. “How is he doing this?”

“I don't know,” Neil backed away from Kevin to give Wymack some space. “Through Jean, or … I don't know.”

Andrew, who Neil had forgotten was in the room, choked as the green mist flew back in his mouth and resonated in his body once more. He stilled before his features reanimated, a moment of clarity and utter placidness on his face before his mouth upturned into a grin.

Neil stared at the sight.

“Get him water to heal the wound,” Andrew mused, acting as if nothing had happened as he pushed Wymack out of the way and took Kevin’s chin in his hand. “Calm down, you can't stop it.”

“I can't-” Kevin hissed, gasping as his skin stopped sizzling as the two concluded. “I need water.”

Neil opened the bottle of water, the liquid instantly cascading out of the bottle and hovering over to Kevin. He kneeled in silence as the water moved slowly over his skin, weaving over the damage as he stared at the wall; Neil guessed he felt as numb as he looked.

After a minute’s worth of the water lapping at his skin to no avail, Kevin cried out as the water exploded away from him. “It's not doing anything.”

“Because he made sure it would scar.” Neil muttered, feeling uncomfortable at the thought. Andrew tapped the two and Kevin groaned in response, the water had healed the initial wound but the scar was still prominent.

“This is an issue,” Andrew mused. “I hate this.”


 

 

(Make out in the clearing lmao)

Andrew pulled Neil closer to the waterfall, who moved his hand to force away the water as the pair entered the crater in the cliff’s edge.

The inside of the cave was completely hollow, a small rock pool in the large cascading walls of glowing pebbles encircling them. Andrew’s skin illuminated under the harsh lighting, the blue haze enticing as they moved to the centre of the cave.

Andrew stopped in front of Neil before asking, “Yes or no?”

“It's always a yes with you.”

Andrew looked as if he was suppressing an eye roll before crowding Neil into the wall and kissing him.

Neil, once again, felt like he was falling; kissing Andrew was akin to what he experienced when unleashing his abilities. It felt dangerous, enticing even, but good - so utterly and completely laced with euphoria.

Neil smirked slightly into the kiss as Andrew tore him apart, hands curling in his thick auburn hair as he pulled him down to his height. Neil, feeling a rush of bravado, took hold of Andrew’s hand and moved it under his own shirt.

Andrew stilled. “Neil-”

“I want you to see them, my scars I-” Neil, suddenly flushed, choked on his words as he struggled to speak. “You said you trusted me, and I … I trust you.”

Andrew’s eyes narrowed. Instead of replying, he reached down to the hem of Neil’s shirt and slowly pulled the clothing over Neil’s head; exposing his chest completely.

Neil knew it was bad, his porcelain skin laced with the indents and scars of years of abuse and years on the run. He was used to people recoiling away from the sight, used to immense sympathy, so Andrew’s impassive reaction calmed him immensely.

Andrew’s coarse fingers traced over the indents of Neil’s skin, his hazel eyes unreadable for a moment before he started moving down Neil’s torso. Neil opened his mouth to speak, choking slightly as Andrew’s tongue lapped at one of the larger scars on his stomach.

“Andrew-”

Andrew blinked up at him, as if challenging Neil to stop him. Neil couldn't find it within himself to.

Andrew was kneeling completely by the time he started sucking on the skin where his bullet wound resided, Neil’s head lolling back onto the wall behind him. He reached out to touch Andrew, but froze and kept his hands hovering by the side of Andrew’s head.

“My hair,” He heard Andrew mutter. “You can touch my hair. That's all.”

Neil’s fingers tugged instantly at Andrew’s blond hair.


 

 

“I want you dead ,” Neil choked, his emotions a rapid cascade of a conundrum. “I’ve done nothing to you-”

“And that is precisely my point Nathaniel," Hades hissed. "You have done nothing .”


 

“I often use the mist to transport to high places,” Andrew mused. “Buildings, trees; never aeroplanes.”

“Why?”

“The mania hides the fact I'm all numb on the inside,” Andrew’s smile was horrible. “The fear helps me make sure I'm real.”

“So, it makes you feel?”

“Correct."

“I feel like I need to change my initial answer.”

“What, your fear of heights?”

“I might need to change it to you.”

Neil took a moment to understand the implications of his words.

Neil made Andrew feel.


 
“I'm going to burn you down Kevin Day.”

 Kevin looked up at the dome of water above them and frowned. “Burn?” He lifted his hands and forced a section of the water down, hitting Riko with such a fierce velocity he fell to the ground with a definite thump .

Riko cried out - in rage or pain, Neil wasn't entirely sure.

OR

“I will burn you down.” Riko sneered.

Kevin sighed, a strange hint of sadness laced in his words as he spoke. “No, you won’t.”


 

Riko would never look down on Kevin again. 

Riko would never look down on anyone again, Neil supposed.

Neil smirked with satisfaction.