Beckendorf wandered Elysium somewhat aimlessly after Nico had left that day, and he couldn't stop thinking about all his friends he'd left behind. They're trying their best, Nico had told him. 'Of course they're trying their best,' he thought. 'It doesn't mean it's going to work.' But then again, he was dead and there wasn't really anything he could do about it, even if he wanted to.
He'd made his contribution, set a legacy for himself at the camp, and he knew it was up to the others to pull through. 'They will,' he told himself, and he believed it. 'Of course they will.' And now, all that was left was to wait.
He hoped to all the gods that he would have to wait as long as possible—but then again, when did a demigod's hopes ever end up coming true? Seven days—seven short days out of an eternity—was all the time that the blacksmith spent waiting.
A teenage girl strolled in through the gates of Elysium. She had a sad, heavy look about her, as thoug she'd seen unspeakable things, done unspeakable things. Her black hair rolled off her shoulders in soft waves, and her eyes held a loving gaze only an Aphrodite girl's would.
Beckendorf found himself staring at her, without saying anything. His mouth opened, as though he might call out her name or shout something to her. He took one step forward, as though he were about to run to her. But instead, he stayed still, silent in his place.
Slowly, very slowly, she turned. Her expression churned through a multitude of expressions when her eyes finally met his—shock, relief, joy, and a tinge of guilt. Tears gathering in her eyes, she bounded over to him.
"Charlie," she sobbed as she held onto him as though for dear life. Which was silly, considering they were both already dead. "Charlie, I'm sorry. I-I never meant to..."
Beckendorf laughed. 'Charlie,' he thought. 'No one calls me Charlie.' Then he noticed that her tears weren't out of happiness, they were sad. But sad also was not the right word—no, they were full of guilt. "What are you talking about, Silena? Nothing's your fault."
"I... I killed you," she confessed, tears still running down her cheeks. "I was the spy at camp, I told them everything... They caught you and Percy and then you blew up the ship... All my fault," she muttered, burying her face in his shoulder.
"But Silena," he said, a calming tone to his voice. "You know where you are? You're in Elysium. You're a hero, just like I knew you would be."
"How—How could you have ever known that? Why did you believe in me, Charlie?" she asked, looking up at him.
"I knew something was wrong," he admitted. "Sometimes, you didn't act like yourself. I never asked you about it, since I trusted you."
His words made her wince, because it reminded her that she had betrayed that trust he put in her. She wanted to apologize, over and over, because after all, she had eternity to do it.
"I knew you made some mistakes, Silena," he told her before she could say sorry again, "But I always saw you as the girl I fell in love with—the girl who I knew was a hero. No matter what you did, I'd always love you."
Silena held him tighter, fingers clutching his t-shirt desperately. "I love you, Charles Beckendorf," she whispered in a soft voice that she used only for him.
"And I love you, Silena Beauregard," he replied, running a hand through her hair. He stared at her, noticing subtle things about how they'd changed—both slightly faded, hard to focus on, like all spirits of the Underworld. He was glad they were in Elysium, because other spirits forgot who they were, forgot their past lives. And he knew he could never forgive himself if he ever forgot Silena.
Though he was happy to see her, it didn't stop him from frowning. "How long has it been?" he asked. Time got away from him while he waited for her. He suddenly wasn't sure if it was seven days, or seven years, or seven minutes that he'd waited here. "Since I died," he added.
"A week, Charlie," she told him, shimmering tears still staining her face. They made her ghostly form seem to shine with an eerie light, which Charles decided was rather pretty. "But I'm... I'm glad that I died, because I don't think I could have survived any longer without you."
"I wanted you to live longer," he admitted sadly. "I would've waited forever, just to see your face again, Silena."
"But it wouldn't have been living, not without you in my life," she insisted, her lips starting to curl upwards in a girlish smile. "I couldn't believe I made it into Elysium. I did so many terrible things... but I know that I'm here, now. Do you know how I know?"
"How?" he asked, and for a moment, he felt alive again. It was like he was back at camp, speaking softly to her in the fields after a long day of sing-a-longs and capture the flag. But this was different. This was forever.
She herself was thinking similar thoughts—could it really be true? Was this all she had to do, for the rest of eternity? Spend death in a hero's paradise, with her very own hero right at her side? Forever and always?
Silence settled into their conversation and it was like the Underworld held its breath, waiting for her answer.
"Because it must be paradise, if you're here."