WILL III

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Will tried to hide his laughter as Nico's friends said their farewells and wished him luck.

"Remember to change your underwear every day while you're away. Try not to brood too much either. Oh, and don't do anything I wouldn't do! Or anything would do, really."

"Valdez, would you kindly shut up?"

The son of Hephaestus pretended to be hurt, dabbing his eyes with an oil-stained rag as if it were a tissue before waving it forlornly. "Fine then, Zombie Breath. My sense of humor is above your tiny brain's understanding anyway!"

"Don't call me that. And stop being so dramatic."

Will could tell this conversation was mortifying his friend, so he decided to step in.

"Yeah, I'm the only one allowed to give Nico a nickname! Isn't that right, Death Boy?" He swung an arm around the teenager in question.

Jason and Percy glanced at each other, wondering how Nico would react. They were expecting him to explode, as were Piper and Annabeth, but instead he let out a deflated sigh.

"Whatever, hot head. Let's just go rescue your foolish dad already. Jules-Albert is waiting for us outside camp."

"Ah, but that nickname wasn't very original." He quirked an eyebrow at Nico. "Don't you realize I'm just trying to get a rise out of you?"

Nico finally decided to shrug him off, but not before retorting. "Well you'd better settle down, sunshine. I don't need a sense of humor to summon a few zombies and drag you to the Underworld."

"But it is a characteristic the ladies look for in a guy, ghost boy."

"It's a good thing I'm not interested in girls then, huh, morning glory?"

"Well, death the kid, that's— wait, what did you say?"

Nico suddenly realized what he'd just said, eyes becoming those of a deer in the headlights. It didn't take until the count of three for him to bolt, running down the hill and eventually climbing into the passenger seat of the black van waiting to drive them to their destination.

"Wait," Leo said, "I'm confused. Since when did Nico swing the other way?"

"Um..." Jason, Percy, and Annabeth looked everywhere but at Leo.

"Hey! You guys knew all along? Geez, I see how it is."

Jason shook his head. "I only know because Eros, or Cupid, forced him to come to terms with his... preferences. Percy and Annabeth found out barely three days ago." He left of the part where Percy had asked how he wasn't Nico's type. The water-logged brain of his apparently couldn't understand how he wasn't everyone's type. "I'm sure he just didn't want everyone in camp knowing. Don't spread it around, you hear me, Leo? This stays on the down low, or else Percy and I will throw you into a hurricane to violent it'll put out your fire powers permanently."

He rolled his eyes while holding his hands out palms-up as if to say What can a guy do? "Why do you assume I'm a blabber mouth? I won't say a word that could hurt my friend's feelings."

"Good."

Will, Cecil, and Lou Ellen shared looks with each other before the son of Apollo stepped forward. "Anyway, guys, since Nico's waiting for us we'll just be off. We'll be back as soon as possible."

With that the trio walked down the hill and piled into the back of the SUV. In the driver's seat sat Jules-Albert, the zombie chauffer Nico had mentioned would be driving. The zombie didn't acknowledge their presence. Instead he turned to the passenger seat where Nico sat staring out the windshield.

"Are you prepared to leave, master?"

Nico turned to the three in the back, his eyes challenging them to mention what he'd said back there before talking. "You guys have your weapons, right? Will, you have your backpack with all of the medical supplies you wanted to bring, correct?"

The three nodded in affirmation.

"I made sure to pack plenty of nectar, unicorn draught, and other remedies in case of an emergency. Remember, you can only use your powers if all else fails, you got it? Doctor's orders."

It was the second morning after the campfire where Will received his quest. The previous day had been spent discussing the prophecy, getting packed, and also trying to get Nico in the best shape possible for the journey. They had determined that 'the maze of shadows' referred to the labyrinth. Talking to Leo had confirmed that Pasiphaë had mentioned restoring part of the labyrinth, a part of which she was now trapped, and could be used to travel across the ocean to rescue the 'light', or Apollo. The reason they had to travel was because the entrance to labyrinth that used to be in camp was inaccessible since only part of the labyrinth was functional. Nico said he asked a ghost about where they could find an entrance and that there should be one in Georgia. The 'enemy' was most likely Pasiphaë herself, but that was all they knew so far.

Getting Nico "healthy" had been a bit harder than deciphering what they could of the prophecy. Will had prescribed him to spend the entire day in the sun, which did help dispel the lingering darkness in him quite nicely, as well as eat as much could before leaving camp. He had begun to gain the weight he had lost in Tartarus, the jar, and from shadow traveling (all stories which Will coaxed out of the son of Hades), but he still had a lot of work to go. Still, even Calypso had helped greatly by sharing treatments she had discovered while on Ogygia. The medicine she had given to Nico the day before had worked wonders, allowing him to shadow travel across camp with ease. He didn't want to push it though. It was too soon to see if the danger was truly gone.

"I got it, Doctor Solace. Let's go, Jules-Albert."

With that the four demigods were off, Jules-Albert only speeding by twenty as they drove towards the toll way.

"Hey," Will tapped Nico's shoulder. He handed the dark-haired teen a small blue device with a sticker of the sun on it. Attached to it was a cord.

Nico surveyed the think confusedly. "What do you want me to do with this?"

Cecil looked at him incredulously. "It's a music player, duh! You don't know what an mp3 player is? What, were you born in the dark ages?"

"The late nineteen thirties actually," he admitted. "It's supposed to plug into somewhere here though, right?" Nico motioned to the many controls in front of him.

"Yeah," Lou Ellen said while pointing to a spot labeled with headphones. "Plug in the end of the cord in that hole, the one with the headphones next to it, and the mp3 player will turn on automatically."

"Okay," he did as she said as well as turned the volume on the stereo to twenty-five. "Now what?"

Will held his hand out, taking his mp3 player back from Nico and scrolling through his playlists. "I made a playlist just for this trip," he said excitedly as he pressed the play button. "Just sit back and enjoy the music, di Angelo!"

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