He'd been there for as long as Sally could remember.
The first time she had been around four years old, and had been separated from her mother, lost in town. She was wandering around, shouting out and sobbing. Just as she gave up hope, and sank to the ground, a young man- around eighteen- wearing an old aviator jacket, with shoulder length black hair and dark eyes, crouched down next to her. Sally was reminded of a shadow, or a ghost. But when he spoke, his voice was gentle and kind, she couldn't help trusting him.
"Are you lost?" He whispered, brow furrowing in concern. She nodded and wiped her nose with her sleeve. He silently handed her a black handkerchief, and asked.
"Where's your Mum?"
She wailed and he put a hand on her shoulder, a skull ring glinting.
"It's ok," He whispered comfortingly, his voice a strange mix between Italian and American. "We'll find her." And find her they did. The man took her hand, and they walked to the fountain in the centre. She saw her Mum, looking around frantically, calling her name.
"Mummy!" She shouted, and her Mum whipped around, before running over.
"Sally! I was so worried!" Her mother turned to the man.
"Thank God you found her!" her Mum exclaimed. Something flashed in his eyes at those words.
"Oh… I wouldn't thank the gods ma'am."
"What do you…?" But he had gone, melting into the crowd.
When she was five, she saw him reflected in the window of a shop, but when she looked over her shoulder at where he should be, she only saw shadows.
When she was six she was watching The News with her Dad, when suddenly the doorbell rang. Her father didn't answer, muttering:
"It's probably just someone selling something."
But the knocking continued, and after a minute, her Dad walked to the door and opened it, Sally following behind him.
The man had one blue eye and one green eye, which creeped Sally out slightly. There was something…off about him.
"Hello. Are you Mr Childs?"
Her father nodded, "And you are…?"
"Oh, my name's Dr Thorn, I was wondering about your daughter. I was under the impression she had ADHD-" But here he broke off, as a young man came running down the path.
"Thorn. How… good to see you again." he said, his voice indicating it was anything but.
Thorn turned at the words.
"di Angelo." Dr Thorn snarled, his voice almost feral. "On your own, the sea-spawn not here to protect you?" The taunt seemed to ignite something in the dark haired man, and there was unmistakeable fury in his words when he answered, voice soft.
"I'm not a child anymore, Doctor Thorn. I fight my own battles now."
Then he turned to Mr Childs. "I'm Sorry, sir. This man is an old acquaintance of mine. I've been hoping to meet him for a long time, you'll have to excuse us."
With that he turned down the path. Dr Thorne looked between him and Sally before growling and running after him.
After her dad shut the door, he looked down at her and said, "Those, Sally, are weird people."
When she was seven she was with her parents on the underground. She liked guessing the stories of people around her. Those two men standing there were friends, she could tell, there was an air of unspoken agreements surrounding them. She strained to listen to their conversation. The tall blonde haired one stood straight, with an aura of confidence, his gaze focused intently on his companion, who looked strangely familiar, though she couldn't place him. His dark eyes were flicking around, as though searching for danger.
"…Hardly ever see you. Why don't you come back to camp? We miss you."
The blonde boy seemed to hesitate for a second, before continuing, albeit in a softer and gentler tone.
"Perc-" The dark eyes stilled, before flashing to the blonde boys face. The air of friendship around them evaporated as the dark-eyed boy fixed his gaze on the man in front of him. His glare should have been frightening, but it wasn't to Sally. She could see the sadness and panic in it, as he cut the older boy off abruptly.
"Don't." His voice was sharp. "Don't you dare, Grace." Voice cracking as he said this, he seemed to stop and struggle for a second, before regaining his composure and looking back at Grace.
"And I don't come to camp because I am busy. And I wouldn't be welcomed." He muttered under his breath. Grace was about to protest when the man held up his hand.
"I only came on this quest because it was with you and Hazel, and you needed my help, do not-" But here he seemed to catch sight of Sally, and his eyes widened a fraction. Grace looked over his shoulder.
"What is it?" His hand reached towards his pocket, almost unnoticeably, but Sally was ADHD, she noticed everything.
"Nothing Jason, come on. We have to leave. Now." As the train doors opened, the young man dragged Jason out, before glancing back at Sally once more, just as the doors shut.
When she was eight, she thought she saw him on a bus, but when she turned to look, there was no one there.
When she was nine she saw him more often, but always in the corner of her eye, and when she turned to look, the street was empty.
When she was ten she saw him fighting. That is, that's what she thought he was doing. He was a dark blur of movement, against a massive thing. She nudged her friend.
"Hey, what is that?" She asked, pointing to the battle. Marissa gave her a look saying duh! Before pulling her round a corner, away from the fight.
"Um… A man. Surely you've seen one before?" Sally ignored the sarcasm.
"No I mean, what was he fighting!?" Her tone held disbelief, and Marissa stared at her.
"Another man. Really Sally. You need glasses."
When she was eleven, she was walking home from a friend's house in the middle of winter. Shivering she wrapped her scarf tight around her neck and walked faster. She hated being out in the dark. On the corner ahead of her, she saw a group of boys, all around sixteen years old. As she reached them, she walked past as quickly as she could without running. She didn't know why, but there was something about them that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Further down the road, she glanced back. Was it just her, or were the boys closer than before? And were they sneaking glances at her? She quickened her pace, and heard a voice behind her.
"What's a young girl like you doing out here alone?" It was the biggest boy from the group. He caught her arm, and spun her around. He was uncomfortably close to her. She wanted to step away, but he was still holding onto her arm.
"Bianca!" A voice shouted and suddenly a hand was on her shoulder, and she saw a skull ring glinting. "I've been looking for you, why didn't you wait?"
"Sorry." Sally mumbled. She had no idea who he was, or how he knew her middle name, but anything was better than staying in the grasp of the boy in front if her. Anyway, she was sure she knew his voice, and his ring.
She turned her head to see the man and saw he was glaring at the boy, something unreadable, and terrifying in the depths of his black eyes.
"Is there a problem?" He asked, voice calm. But there was… Power in the way he said those words, as if he was someone you really didn't want to cross.
The boy let go of her arm, and backed away. "No, no problem."
Sally turned, and the man looked down at her and smiled. It lit up his whole face, and made a block of frozen fear in Sally's stomach melt.
"Let me walk you home, we don't want those boys coming back." Sally shivered at the thought, but said:
"Thank you, it's this way." They walked for a few streets in silence, but then Sally turned to him.
" How did you know my middle name?" Surprise flashed in his eyes, before a gentle mix of sadness and happiness replaced it.
"I didn't. It was my sisters' name. I saw them…bothering you, and it was the first name that came to mind."
She nodded accepting that. "Coincidence."
"Oh… I don't believe in coincidences." The silence got slightly more awkward after that. She was confused, what was that supposed to mean?
"Here's my house." She said, when they reached it.
"Goodbye. And stay safe" He turned and walked away.
"Wait!" She called, "What's your nam…" Too late. He had gone, turning into an alley and melting into the shadows.
When she was twelve her parents died in a car crash. As she sat at the front with her Grandparents, staring blankly at ahead, not listening to a word the vicar was saying, she suddenly saw a figure materialize in the shadows at the side of the church. Her eyes must be playing tricks on her, but that shadow really did look like a person.
As she left the church she saw the patch of shadows in the shape of a man place a large gold coin on each of the coffins.
"Give this to Charon, and tell him to let you through at once, on the orders of the Ghost King. I'll make sure you'll reach Elysium." The whisper was low, but she heard it anyway.
With that the shadows were once more an incoherent shape. She could never work out if that memory was dream or reality.
When she was thirteen, they were learning about WWII in school.
"Now class!" The teacher announced. "We have a special visitor!"
The class murmured, wondering who was coming.
"We have an expert on the war that has kindly agreed to speak to you!"
She opened the classroom door and a man, around twenty-seven, strode into the room. He was muscled, as though he spent his spare time fighting. Hushed, surprised voices swept the room. Sally herself was surprised; she had been expecting an elderly, bearded, bespectacled man wearing a tweed jacket with elbow pads. Not a young man who looked liked he tamed hellhounds.
"Hello. My name is Nico di Angelo, and today I will be speaking to you about the War." He surveyed the class, and for once nobody whispered, their attention was riveted.
"You cannot understand it fully unless you were there-"
"How do you understand it then, sir?" A particularly cheeky boy asked from the back of the room.
His expression darkened, before he regained his composure and smiled wanly.
"I do not. But my," Here he seemed to mutter under his breath in Italian. Counting maybe? "Great-Grandmother Maria di Angelo told me many stories about it, and I have spoken to people who were there. As I was saying, you cannot understand it fully unless you were there, but…" As he talked, his eyes seemed to be staring into the past, as if he really had been there. And another thing about him bothered Sally, she was certain she had seen him before. Shaking off the strange feeling of déjà vu, she continued to listen to the man in the aviator jacket.
When it was time for him to leave, their teacher started a round of applause and it was carried on by the students far more enthusiastically than normal. As he walked out of the classroom he seemed to look directly into Sally's eyes and wink.
She was fourteen now, and she lived with her Grandparents. Coming home from school, she had the oddest feeling that she was being followed. She had been paranoid ever since she was eleven, so thought nothing of it. However she quickened her pace and glanced behind her. Breathing a sigh of relief, she didn't see anyone but a little old lady in a leather jacket. She slowed to a more natural pace, as she walked down the road to her house. The old lady spoke from unnervingly close behind her, making her jump.
"Now, Honey, who are you?"
Sally turned to the woman, and stammered.
"Sally, ma'am." The woman smiled an unnerving smile.
"I think I know your parents, girl."
She chocked up. "I'm sorry, you wouldn't-" But just then a man stepped out from behind her.
"Alecto." He spoke directly to the woman.
Then she did something unexplainable, this old woman, thirty years this boy's senior, bowed down to him.
"My Lord." He inclined his head, and his eyes flicked over to Sally.
"It is not often you venture into the mortal realm Alecto, Why are you here, pray tell?" Mortal realm?
"It was a request from the Master, my lord. He sensed a strong presence here, and sent me to investigate." The man laughed a bitter laugh.
"That was me, Alecto. Surely Father can distinguish his own son's presence? Return to the underworld and tell him all is resolved." She nodded her head and vanished.
The man to turned to Sally.
"I'm Nico di Angelo." Sally heard his voice as if from underwater. Underworld? She also remembered seeing this man before. Last year. The year before that, and back as far as she could remember.
"Who are you? Why are you always around me?"
He looked surprised.
"You remember me?"
"Of course! You've helped me so many times! Why?"
He glanced around, eyes wary.
"We can't talk here, my father already sent Alecto. Who knows what else will come? Your aura is too strong. I told-" He seemed to catch himself, but Sally wanted answers.
"Who are you? Who's your father?" He took a deep breath, as if bracing himself for a negative reaction.
"I am Nico di Angelo… Son of Hades, God of the Underworld. I can't explain why I protect you here, there are ears everywhere." He stepped forward, and held out a hand
"You need to come with me." Sally backed away. Okay, he had protected her, but was still a stranger, and, more importantly, a stranger who had been stalking her for years.
"No! I don't even know you!" He hesitated for a second, and Sally took this chance to turn and run, her feet slapping on the pavement.
"Sally Bianca Jackson!" The shout rang though the air, and the man immediately gasped.
"Dannazione! " (Damn) He muttered "Now you really have to come with me!"
She turned to him and stuttered. "Ch-Childs. My Name is Childs."
He shook his head.
"Do you know you're adopted?" She nodded her head. Her Parents had never kept it from her.
"Well, I know your Parents, your real parents." She drew a breath, she knew nothing about her real parents.
"We're in danger." it wasn't a question, and his eyes held panic as he nodded. Sally trusted him, he had done nothing but protect her. If he wanted to hurt her, he would have done it when she was eleven. She nodded and took his hand, and they evaporated into shadows.
A/N- Okay, Okay, I know this won't be cannon in about a week, but I will still write it because it has been bouncing around in my head for weeks. What do you think. Like? Dislike? Should I continue? Please tell me in a reveiw.