The Avengers were running along the winding underground corridors of Gaea's fortress, dodging the chunks of rock that were falling from the ceiling, and calling out to Nico. They skidded to a halt as the tremors stopped.
"What does this mean?" Clint asked anxiously, "Nico said the tremors would start once Gaea was defeated. If they stopped, does that mean he lost?"
"It doesn't matter," Bruce cut in, "We're going in anyway. Nico might need our help. We can't leave him at her mercy."
With that, they sped off again, this time moving with more panic as they were now unsure as to whether or not they would be fighting Gaea once they arrived to their destination. Tony illuminated the passages for them, and he led the way, following the faint heat signature he was detecting from up ahead.
"Come on! We're almost there!"
The heroes added a burst of speed, and all but flew through the last tunnel, arriving in a huge cavern. They skirted around the large boulders dotting the floor, and hurried towards the faint golden light that they could see in the far corner of the cavern. Weapons were charged and unsheathed, and they crept forward, ready for an attack. They rounded the last boulder, and all of them gasped in surprise and the sight before them.
Nico, whose normal powers gave him a dark aura and a darker still shadow, now looked to be illuminated from the inside by golden light.
"He's possessed again," Thor growled, "We need to get him back. Man of Iron, you must insult the boy." Everyone but Loki pointed their weapons at the teenager.
Loki stepped forward, and held a hand up, "He's not possessed," he said slowly, dropping into a crouch so he could examine Nico's face that was hidden behind his hair as his face was bent forward. "He's... no, that's not possible..."
"What is it?" Natasha demanded impatiently, recalling how powerful Nico had been whilst under Gaea's control, "What did she do to him?"
"She did nothing to him," Loki said, and carefully placed a hand on Nico's shoulder, "My friend, are you injured? What has happened? Why do I sense her power without her control?"
Nico, who was trying with all his might to stay in control of the power, forcing it to stop it's corruption of his human self, clenched his fists and screwed up his eyes. "Gaea... dead... Power... transfer. Can't... stop. Turning... god. Help..."
Thor immediately lowered his hammer and rushed to his brother's side, dropping to his knees before Nico and placing a hand on his sweaty brow. "He's burning up. We need to get him to the Greeks immediately. Nico, you need to stop fighting it. Gaea's energy has chosen you, you can't stop it. You're killing yourself!"
Nico, who only heard Thor faintly, concentrating as hard as he was on controlling the golden power, only managed to lift one finger in Thor's direction. The Asgardian scowled at the rude gesture.
"What's going on?" Steve asked, "What happened to Nico? Why the heck is he glowing?"
It was Loki who answered, creating ice and holding it to Nico's face. "Nico killed the Earth Mother, but her energy did not dissipate. When a god fades, they will usually pass on their dominions to another entity, such as when Selene granted her dominion over the moon to Artemis. Gaea's power over the Earth has claimed Nico. He is becoming a god."
"Then why is he burning up?" Natasha asked, watching with worry as Nico's skin began to turn red, and sweat dripped from his stressed face.
"He is fighting it," Loki replied, and carefully pulled Nico upright, trying not to jostle him too much. This movement alone caused a lapse in Nico's concentration, and he flashed an intense gold. The Avengers cried out, their eyes burning because of the godly light, before Nico clamped down on the energy.
"Olympus," he managed to gasp out, "Make... it... stop."
Loki nodded at him, even though Nico's eyes were closed once again. "We'll get you there. We'll need to travel fast, though. Will you be able to last that long?"
"Alright," Steve announced, grabbing hold of Nico's other glowing arm, "Let's go!"
By the time they exited the fortress, which once Nico left began to crumble back to sand, Nico had begun to glow even brighter. The energy was slowly, but surely, beating away his defences, and soaking into his body. He could feel himself begin to give into to the power, and grew angry at himself. He fought even more than before, and Steve and Loki felt the arms that they were holding increase in temperature. "We need to hurry!"
"How are we supposed to get there?"
"Maybe we could get a lift from Percy's dad? Oh wait, crap..."
Tony walked over to Nico, poking him in the face to get his attention. The golden light flared again, but Nico quickly controlled it. "WHAT?"
"Where did you send your cousins, Emo Ninja? We need their daddy's to help us out. We won't be able to traverse the country in time to help you if they don't."
"Sent them... to... Los Angeles... They're safe..."
"Great!" Tony exclaimed, "Now how do we get home?"
Slowly, Nico raised his head, breathing deeply in order to stay in control, "I'll bring... us..."
He clenched his teeth, and as he did, gold tainted shadows rose from the ground.
"Uhh Nico," Clint said warily, eyeing the cursed shadows as he slowly backed away, "I'd rather you didn't kill us, if it's the same to you..."
"Shit," he growled, and with even more concentration, he swore his brain was going to explode, he willed the gold power away, leaving only black. The pure shadows then enveloped them, and transported them away.
They arrived back in the still almost silent New York, directly across from the Empire State Building.
"Good aim," Loki muttered, before he was almost blinded by the strongest flash of godly light yet. They all blinked burning eyes, and Thor lead the way across the street into the skyscraper, knowing that the entrance to Olympus resided inside the towering building. The human members of the team were extremely confused by their current surroundings, but chose to trust their other team mates.
Thor strode over to the elevator, and forced the door open with his great strength. The others filed in after him.
"... You do realise that all you had to do was click a button, right?" Tony asked, raising an eyebrow.
Thor flushed, but refused to answer, and instead gazed down at Nico, who had sunk to the floor and was holding his head between his hands, now glowing quite brightly. Loki prodded the button panel, releasing a tendril of magic, and smirked in triumph as a glowing button reading 600th Floor appeared on it. He clicked it, and the mangled doors managed to slide closed. The small elevator, made even smaller because of the many muscled individuals now crammed into it, was filled with terrible music.
Clint grunted in disgust, and shot the intercom with an arrow. This in turn knocked out the lights, and the small space was dark but for the combined light of Nico and Tony.
They finally reached Olympus. Tony immediately made to stride out of the Elevator, but staggered backwards as he was blocked by an invisible barrier. "What the hell?"
"Mortals cannot enter," Loki said smugly, and strode out, pulling Nico with him. "Brother, help me lift him," Loki said as he gazed at the beautiful city before him. Thor immediately moved forward, and it was only as he grabbed Nico's arm, causing him to flash with light, and Thor to cringe, that he realised that Loki had called him brother.
"You must return," Thor said apologetically to the others, but there was a faint smile on his face. He and Loki had made progress, "We will return once the Greeks have healed the son of Hades."
The agents nodded in understanding, but Steve's, Bruce's, and Tony's faces fell with disappointment. This was so unfair.
The mangled doors closed once again, leaving Nico, Thor and Loki standing before them.
"For fucks... sake! Get me... to the... Throne Room!"
They hurried to the Throne Room in such a rush that they failed to notice the lesser gods shrink away from them and some even ran away in terror. It seemed no one had told them Nico was back to normal. They finally reached the huge doors of the Throne Room, and Thor shoved them open.
Immediately, all the Olympians leapt out of their thrones, except for Hades who was still feeling drained. "What is the meaning of this!" Zeus thundered, and lightning flashed outside, "How DARE you enter this place, Asgardians! There shall be war for this."
"Be quiet, Husband," Hera cried, grabbing Zeus' arm and pointing at Nico, "Look who they bring!"
Everyone's eyes fastened on Nico, who was now glowing almost as bright as they were.
"What in Tartarus happened?" Hermes whispered.
"Nico killed the Earth Mother," Loki announced, and the god's faces morphed into ones of shock, and a few began cheering, "But he has been claimed by the Earth's power. It seems to want him to replace Gaea."
"That is preposterous," Zeus announced, "A demigod is not capable of handling such power."
"Father, it is true," Apollo said as he examined Nico. "Her power is in him. In fact, he's currently fighting it."
"What?" Demeter exclaimed, "Why? Does this not mean he will become a god?"
Nico then spoke for the first time since entering the room. "Don't want... to be... a god..."
The Olympians stared at him incredulously. "Not again," Hephaestus muttered, "First the sea spawn, and now the hell spawn. I blame it on bad parenting."
Zeus stared at the demigod before him, flanked as he was by the Asgardians. "Who wish to remain mortal? Why?"
"Death... is natural..." Nico growled.
"That it is, son."
"Hades!" Poseidon exclaimed, hurrying to his brother's side, "Sit down. You have yet to regain your strength. Do not tax yourself." Hades brushed past him, and slowly walked over to his son, his face pinched with pain, and his glow still weak.
"Nico, you wish to remain mortal?" Hades asked.
Nico nodded, "I don't want this," he managed to say, and he looked up at his father with gold eyes. Hades flinched at the sight, remembering the dead expression Nico had worn whilst being controlled by Gaea, and his cold, remorseless golden eyes. "I don't want to become a god... Father, you take this power instead..."
Hades eyes widened in shock. Before he could reply, Zeus shouted, "That cannot be permitted. If Hades gained those powers, the balance between the Big Three would be destroyed."
Athena, who had been staring at Nico the entire time, a calculating look on her face, spoke, "I have a suggestion, but I would rather not act on it. The boy gained this power after Gaea was killed, so it goes to reason that if he himself died, the powers would claim a new host on their own."
Hades whirled around, and glared at the other gods, causing most of them to shrink back in fear, "You will NOT harm my son! I will destroy any who try!"
"Calm down, Hades," Zeus admonished, "We will have a vote on whether or not we kill the demigod. If you lose, you will have no right to attack us. That is how this council works."
Hades was about to argue when Nico spoke up, managing to speak in full sentences. As well as the golden glow, he was now emitting black and gold flames that were flickering around him also. Hades took a step back, not out of fear, but because the energy coming from his son was the same that had almost killed the god. He was positive Nico's mind was his own, but with this much power, an accident would be the death of him. "Lord Zeus," he said in a low voice, "Need I remind you that less than an hour ago, I killed Gaea. Do you really think I will simply allow you to decide my fate?"
The gods gulped, and mutterings filled the room. "Godkiller..."
Zeus cleared his throat, not willing to admit how nervous Nico was making him. The boy was powerful. "Very well, we shall not kill you, but what alternative is there? You say you wish to remain mortal, yet the only choice you have is to die or become a god."
"There has to be another," Nico snarled, and then gasped as the energy attacked with renewed strength, causing him to miss the rest of what was being said. He dropped to his knees, and wrapped his arms around himself. He couldn't stop it much longer.
Loki crouched beside him, whispering encouragement, helping him to concentrate while Thor glared at the Greeks.
"You must help him," Thor announced, "He has already done much for you."
"I have an idea," Hades grumbled, staring down at Nico in concern, "But it will be painful, son, and I don't know whether it will work. Are you willing to risk it?"
"... I trust you... Father.."
"Very well." Hades closed his eyes, and began to chant in Ancient Greek. As they listened to his words, the other God's eyes widened. Loki and Thor however, were unable to speak a word of Greek, and could only stare at Nico's father in confusion.
As Hades continued to chant, darkness coalesced in his hand, and began to swirl in time with his words. It shone with dark purpose, and everyone feared it. Hades pulled Nico upright, and without further ado, slammed the dark energy into Nico's chest, right where the golden blade had sunk before. Nico howled in pain, but cut himself off after only a second. He gritted his teeth at the pain, feeling them grinding together, but he was relieved when he felt the golden energy get sucked up by his father's power. He sighed in relief, thinking his father had decided to claim the powers after all, when the shadows began to burn his chest. His breath hitched as what felt like molten knives began to carve open his chest. Hades caught his son as Nico fell forward, still keeping a hand connected to Nico's chest. Nico grabbed the hand fastened to his chest and tried to pull it away, but Hades didn't move.
"I'm sorry, my son. It is almost done," Hades whispered.
Finally, the hand was removed, and Nico only remained upright through the support of his father. As the air touched his chest, Nico hissed and looked down at it through his now burned t-shirt, and raised an eyebrow as he saw what had been done to him.
A complex tattoo composed of symbols and words was now burned onto his chest. The symbols were black, and the writing was gold, and he grew dizzy just looking at it as it was moving, swirling beneath the skin. He no longer glowed gold, and had reverted back to his usual deathly pale complexion.
"You sealed it?" he asked hoarsely, his throat raw from suppressed screams.
"Yes," Hades replied, "It seems to have worked. Funny, I thought it would fail." Nico glared at him. "I have locked the power away. It is still there, but it is imprisoned. If you break the seal, however, the energy will return as it was, wrestling for dominance over your mortal half. It is now dormant, and I am sure you would like to keep it that way."
Nico bowed low to his father, "Thank you, Lord Hades." Hades raised an eyebrow but didn't comment.
"So, he is cured?" Thor asked.
"Yes," Hades replied. He looked Nico right in the eye as he said his next words, "He is now unable to use the powers the Earth's energy granted to him, such as the ability to force us to fade." He winked at Nico, who in turn, smirked slightly at his father.
The gods all breathed sighs of relief. "That is good," Zeus said, "For we wouldn't have been able to let you go free if you had retained those evil powers, Godkiller."
Nico raised an eyebrow. Not another godsdamn title...
"Now that Nico has been healed, I believe it is time that we take our leave," Loki announced graciously, "Thank you oh so much for your assistance. You are all truly remarkable beings." The gods smiled proudly, and Aphrodite even giggled. Well, all the gods but Hades and Apollo. Hades did nothing, because he couldn't give a damn about what the Asgardian thought of him. Apollo just frowned in confusion, because for some reason, he had sensed a faint lie at Loki's words. Or had he? But that was impossible, only a true trickster could fool the Greek god of Truth...
"Very well," Zeus rumbled, "You may leave. Inform that mortal organization of yours that there will be no more problems. Gaea has been defeated, and this war is over." He laughed, "What else could happen?" With a flash of lightning, he teleported them away.
One week later
New York was once again full of people. Although Nico disliked crowds in general, he had to admit that he preferred the city with its citizens were present. It had seemed dead without them.
"Why did you drag us here, Stark?" Clint asked grumpily as he scanned the Italian restaurant they were in, searching for possible threats. So far all he had seen were a hell of a lot of wide eyed adoring fans who were gaping open mouthed at the sight of the Avengers all seated at the same table.
"Why are we here, you ask?" Tony replied in Italian.
"Speak in English, Stark," Steve growled, staring moodily at a wall. The food was taking forever to arrive, and he was starving, "Only you, Clint and Natasha speak Italian."
"I speak a bit," Loki proclaimed, before returning to his task of charming the cutlery to dance around the table. Nico was entertaining himself by flicking pieces of a bread roll into Thor's hair. The others were quietly chatting to each other.
"Actually, young Emo Ninja speaks Italian. Want to know why?"
"He's Italian!" Tony announced.
"Shut up, Stark," Nico growled.
"But you're European," Tony persisted, "I can't wait to announce it to your fangirls. Did you know you already have over a thousand websites dedicated to you?"
"Amazing really, I made over three thousand dollars just by selling your old t-shirt. That ratty one with the skull on it."
The whole restaurant fell silent as Nico filled it with an aura of terror. He turned glowing, full black eyes that now had a gold reptilian pupil to Stark, and snarled.
"My favourite t-shirt that I thought went missing? YOU STOLE IT?"
Tony laughed uncomfortably, "... No?"
Nico turned back to Loki. "This means war."
Loki grinned gleefully, "Yes! Now we can use the gunpowder! I told you I was right to buy extra."
Nico nodded in agreement, and the rest of the table's occupants glared at Tony. He was responsible for this. He was saved from being murdered by the arrival of the food. Everyone immediately dug in, and the restaurant filed with chatter once again as Nico was distracted by food, so atmosphere returned to normal. After a few minutes without chatter, Thor asked, "Friend Nico, earlier when you were angered, you glowed slightly gold. Also, your eyes were different from usual."
After ten seconds and he didn't say anything else, Thor continued, "But your father said those powers were locked away."
Loki laughed, "He lied. And I must say, it was a fine lie at that. Nobody suspected him for a moment."
The others frowned in confusion, "So the powers aren't locked away?"
"They are," Nico said, and took another bite of food, glad he had chosen to wear a hood rather than his mask when Stark had told them they were going out. He wouldn't have been able to eat the awesome food if he hadn't, "My dad just halted the 'god process'. I'm still a demigod, but the powers had already bonded to me. He said it was because his children already have a close affinity with the earth, even if it is through the Underworld. Basically I'm mortal, but more kickass."
"Well, luckily you won't have to use those powers for a while. We just won another war. I can't see another attack happening too soon."
"There's always something else," Steve said wisely. "We'll just have to enjoy the peace while it lasts."
Everyone voiced their agreement, and clinked glasses. They began eating again, and Nico relaxed. Amazing food, even better friends, and no evil grandmother to fuck it up. Life was good.
"No need to worry at all," Tony said happily, "After all, we have the almighty Godkiller on our team!"
Nico snarled and kicked Tony's chair, causing the billionaire to fall backwards and land in a heap on the floor.
Why did he have to work with these idiots?
It is finished! Thanks to everyone who read my story, you're all supermegaawesome people. I'll write a sequel once I finish one of my other two stories. Thanks for reading :P