A/N: So here it is. The long-awaited Breakdown chapter. The way it came out really surprised me, actually. I didn't copy the dialogue, really, from the Breakdown scene and instead summed it up. It wasn't really too important to copy, so I hope you aren't mad. Anyway, I hope you like it! And yes, requests are still open for those of you who wanted to know!
Remember, if you want to reread the Breakdown scene, it's essentially Chapter 14 and 15.
Disclaimer: It honestly pains me that these characters aren't mine.
The Life We're Dealt
Percy has had a bad day. Of that, Clint is sure.
The poor kid was bound to have a bad day, anyway, what with the meeting with the Council and all. Clint knows how they are, how they weasel their way into your brain and pick you apart. Not only had Percy gotten attacked by a hellhound and had to sprint back to his meeting, they later learn, injuries and everything, he's also ten minutes late to the meeting.
Clint watches along with the others as the Council systematically make Percy lose his cool and use his weaknesses against him. Clint winces in sympathy. "They're tearing him apart."
Tony shakes his head. "No freaking kidding. He isn't trained in the art of interrogation. I mean good gods," Clint almost smiles at the habit they picked up from Percy; Tony goes on, "he's a freaking kid with a ton of baggage. They know that, and they're just being pieces of crap about it." Tony leans back in his seat in defeat. Clint wonders what made Percy late to the meeting.
"I'm really surprised he's lasted this long," Natasha says. Clint notices a hint of approval in her tone. "They're being ruder than usual."
"Yeah," Bruce agrees. "Especially with that whole 'what are you,' bit."
"Don't forget the 'are you a mutant' question," Tony says. "They're totally winning points for not racist thing." Tony frowns. "Is it technically racism? It can't be xenophobia. Maybe, like, mutantophobia? Demigodophobia?"
Steve shushes them. "I think he's snapping."
They watch for a few more banters, Percy seeming to have run out of patience when the rude man in the council says something about not believing Percy and his friends saved the world twice. "The man should not have said that," Thor says wisely.
"Holy crap," Tony says, stunned. "Holy crap, he's threatening them. He totally just told them about blowing up a mountain. He just called them a mortal. Oh my gosh!" Clint smacks him so they can hear the rest of what Percy is saying.
Clint frowns when Percy says he's already been to hell. "I kind of want to know what he means," he says quietly.
"Don't we all," Natasha says back in agreement.
When Percy walks into the living room, still seething and bleeding over his torn clothes, Bruce just mildly says, "Rough day?" Percy tells them all about him fighting a hellhound. He seems pretty distressed about what he did by blowing up on the Council, but the team tries to cheer him up. After Fury comes in to tell them how Percy is miraculously still going to be on the team (well, miraculous to Percy), the kid relaxes a little more. Clint and the rest of the team spar with Percy for the rest of the day until they all collapse in exhaustion in the kitchen, setting ravenously on the pizza they order. They all decide on early baths and a "team bonding" movie night.
As Clint watches Luke Skywalker on the screen and sees Percy slowly drifting off on a couch, he can't help but optimistically think that they dodged a bullet with Percy. Maybe Percy won't have a nightmare tonight. Clint isn't stupid; he has ears and can hear when Percy wakes up and asks Jarvis to turn the lights on dim. He hopes tonight will be a peaceful night of rest for Percy.
Clint couldn't be any more wrong.
He wakes up with the TV still quietly playing the start screen for the second Star Wars movie they had started. He rubs his eyes blearily and wonders what woke up him up. He hears a distressed sound come from the couch and furrows his brows. Is he dreaming? No, Clint's pretty sure he's awake. So where did that sound come from? Did he imagine it?
Clint sits bolt upright when he realizes where it's coming from. He wakes Natasha urgently, who's wide awake immediately, and rushes over to Percy. Percy thrashes weakly and mutters an anguished "no" and "don't" every few seconds. Clint places his hands gently on Percy's shoulders, not sure how he will react. "Percy, wake up," he says calmly. "You're dreaming, buddy. I need you to wake up."
By this time, Steve and Bruce are waking up and rousing the others. Steve sits down in the space not occupied by Percy's feet, and the others form a loose circle around Percy, not so close to Percy to where when he wakes up he fills suffocated. Clint shakes Percy a little. "Percy, wake up." Percy shakes his head agitatedly and murmurs "leave them alone." He breathes harder and harder with each passing second, moving around a little more wildly.
Clint looks at Natasha helplessly. "Should I try to wake him up harder?" She shrugs, just as lost as he is, he can tell. Clint shakes Percy one more time, firmer than the last attempt. "Percy, wake up. It's just a dr—" Suddenly, Percy sits bolt upright, gasping and aware for only a moment before Clint knows they lost him again by the way he freezes and looks straight ahead.
"He's in a flashback," Tony says anxiously.
"Don't let him hurt himself, but don't hold him down too tightly, either," Bruce says, the voice of calm reason.
Percy frantically says no a few more times before he tightly closes his eyes and seems to curl in on himself, drawing his knees up to his face. Steve gently tugs Percy's hand away from his face and lowers Percy's knees so they can see his face. Clint puts a hand on Percy's back and rubs soothingly. Percy's eyes are still tightly closed, and Clint sees a few tear tracks on his face.
Percy unfreezes a fraction and opens his eyes slightly, and immediately Clint and the others reach over to support him. Percy blinks and looks up at them, shaking like a leaf. Clint's heart feels like it breaks in two when he sees the lost and tormented face of a kid who's done so much for the world and was shattered in return for it.
Percy looks like he wants to say something for a moment, and Clint bends forward a little in case he speaks. He can't seem to get anything out though, so he instead sniffles a little and closes his eyes, pitching forward into Steve. Steve looks surprised but places a hand on Percy's shoulder soothingly. Percy sniffles some more, his breath hitching every now and again. Natasha leans forward to wipe away a few of Percy's tears. Clint starts up rubbing Percy's back again while Natasha places a hand on Percy's knee.
"It's gonna be okay, buddy," Tony says, his voice infinitely softer than Clint can ever remember hearing it. "Things are gonna get better."
Clint can only hope it's true as Percy finally quiets down into an exhausted sleep.
Clint wakes up when he feels something shifting in his lap. He stirs a little, shifting his head to look sleepily at what is waking him up. Again. Man, he's exhausted. Clint blinks a few times dazedly before freezing. He whirls his head around to look at Percy, loosening up a little when he sees Percy is awake and alert. Percy looks even worse than Clint feels, with dark bags under his eyes and pale skin. Clint notices in his peripheral vision the rest of the Avengers, all sprawled out on the sofa, touching Percy in some way, like some kind of silent reminder that the team was going to stay. Clint can't help but think that it's a two-way street, though. It's also a nonverbal reminder for the team that they've got a new teammate that needs help. Somehow, someway, literally seeming to defy all logic, to Clint, this kid manages to help them, too.
Clint mentally shakes his head. This one kid, who's obviously so broken and not whole, is managing to make the Avengers themselves more whole. Clint isn't sure how this is possible, exactly, but he does know that if they were lose Percy, or if something were to happen to him, he isn't sure what they'd do. Clint feels like things are lighter and happier when Percy is around them. It's almost like the team had forgotten what it was like to be a kid and capture the essence of kids. Clint kind of misses being around genuinely good kids. Not that he's had a lot of experience, exactly, with young people these days, but still.
Clint raises an eyebrow at Percy, like Okay? Percy shrugs. Clint wonders what that could mean and decides it means I have no idea. Clint nods and leans his head back against the couch. He scrubs at his eyes to try and wake up a little more before nudging Tasha. She immediately reaches for a knife before realizing nothing is wrong. Natasha sees Tony holding Percy's arm like a teddy bear and reaches over to flick him, rolling her eyes. Clint can see Tony's red cheeks from his position on the couch, so he knows Tony must be blushing pretty hard.
Tony wakes Thor up, who of course is grumpy to put it lightly, and Steve and Bruce begin to wake up, too. Percy talks to them about what happened last night, except even he isn't really sure and can't remember it very well. Percy does know that last night was his worst nightmare and flashback he's ever had. Clint hasn't exactly known Percy for very long, but he does know right off the bat that Percy isn't one to ever complain or brag. So if Percy's putting it out there that last night was basically crap, it must have been bad.
Clint feels bad for the poor kid. People Percy's age should be worrying about high school and girlfriends and boyfriends and who they were going to ask to prom, not what happened while they were fighting a war. Percy didn't deserve this, but this was the life he'd been dealt by fate, and Clint thought he was doing a dang good job of living it. Clint really respected Percy, as he was sure his friends were starting to do.
Percy leaves to go somewhere. The team is a little anxious at letting him out of their sight for more than a few seconds after last night, but something about the way Percy says it makes them trust him. He comes back almost an hour later, seeming more at peace and serene. He does some sparring with Thor, and still manages to hold his own, even while exhausted. Clint is impressed, yet again. He figures he should probably get used to Percy surprising him.
They eat sandwiches in the living room and talk afterwards. Percy tells them all about Tartarus, AKA hell. Well, not all about it, Clint is sure, because some things you have to keep to yourself. He tells them about other things, too, happy things like a blue food tradition Percy has with his mom or routines at camp. He tells them more about his dad, Poseidon (Clint's still having a hard time wrapping that one around his head), and how he's actually a pretty awesome dad compared to the others gods with their children. He tells them about Annabeth, and his eyes light up when he talks about her, which Clint thinks, though he would never, ever admit this, is kind of cute. The word Natasha would probably use is "sweet."
So yeah, even though the team thinks Percy shouldn't have to deal with any of this, they can't help but respect his strength and tenacity for dealing with it. Percy grows lighter with every word he says to them in the living room, and Clint and the team become closer to him than they ever thought they would.
Clint finds he can really get used to this.
A/N: I know, right? Clint's POV and it's present tense. Man, I'm all whacked out today. Anyway, I hope you liked this. I'm not sure which idea I'll do for the next chapter, so be prepared for anything. Let me know what you thought of this in the meantime!
Also, I'm kind of curious how you came by my fics. Maybe you could tell me? It could be any of my stories, but I'm really curious as to how you found yourself over to my stories. It'd be cool if you told me! Thanks for indulging my whims, everybody.