A/N: WARNING: severe feels ahead, read at your own risk. A big thanks to FestusLives for inspiring this; your review got my creative juices flowing.
He's gone, the voice says. It's your fault. He's gone.
No, you try to say back, but the sheer volume of the voice is so loud and so knowing that your protests are drowned out.
Your fault, it reminds you painfully, in all its glory. You wonder why the voice sounds slightly like Annabeth — feminine yet assertive and commanding. It is not timid or girlish. The voice seems to command you to listen to it.
Ironic, you think, because others are the ones who listen to me. I'm the one who gives the commands.
The voice also isn't like Annabeth, because often Annabeth's voice is soft, and soothing, and understanding, whereas this voice is harsh and unforgiving and it doesn't want to understand.
Briefly, you wonder if you can charmspeak it, to tell it to go away like you did to the eidolons, because you need it to go away, but talking to yourself right at the dinner table — however horrifyingly pink it may be — would probably put you in the psych ward for demigods.
He's gone, it says again. You shouldn't have made him feel lesser than you — like a mere Repair Boy, it taunts.
Repair Boy. The mocking echoes in your mind.
No—no, no, you chide yourself. Don't think about it.
But again, your voice is too angelic and smooth and soft and small against the large, commanding, ruthless voice, and what you tell yourself is yet again drowned out.
Repair Boy. Your fault. Your fault. Your fau—
You drop your fork with a clang onto the plate and you storm out of there because the pink is suffocating, and the slightly happy (because Gaea's gone, but so is Leo) atmosphere is suffocating, and the slightly forced smiles everyone sends your way is suffocating and you feel like you're going to choke to death because everything is suffocating.
You don't know where to go for comfort. You think about Bunker Nine but you decide against it because everything there would just remind you of Leo, your best friend, and the way he would call himself the 'Supreme Bad Boy,' the 'Super-Sized McShizzle,' or 'The Supreme Commander of the Argo II'. Then you think about the Zeus cabin because Jason; but Jason doesn't seem to care that Leo's gone. You ponder about the Athena cabin for Annabeth; but she seems altogether too calm even though he's gone. You're not very close with Percy, Frank is kind of cutely awkward and he wasn't the best of friends with Leo, and you don't know how to confide in Hazel because she always had the weirdest relationship with him even though you'd kill for a girl to talk to.
Overall, nobody seems to care that he's gone and you doubt that anyone is hearing voices in their heads. So you go to the only place you can — the beach. Something about the lapping of the waves and the way they crash on the rocks is soothing and gods know you could use some soothing right now.
And after a few minutes of just staring and getting rid of that damned voice, you hear some soft footsteps and you don't even need to look up to know it's Percy; because who else but the son of Poseidon would be at the beach?
"Hey," you start.
"You miss him." he says. You nod — talking seems futile.
"Did you?" you ask fiercely, glaring over at him.
For a moment his swirling sea-green eyes look a bit bewildered, and then understanding washes over his features.
"You think they — we — don't care," he states. Not as a question, you realize.
"It damn well looks like it."
"You of all people should know that looks aren't everything, Piper," he says wisely.
"I didn't know you were capable of a wise comment."
"Like I said, looks aren't everything."
"Well, then, why does it look like Leo's death" —you try to keep your voice steady and you try to keep the tears in your eyes, they aren't going to spill— "has affected nobody? Why, why— do you all look so calm and collected when he's gone, he's dead, and he isn't coming back?"
And then you let the tears flow and Percy embraces you; it's quite platonic, and comforting, warmer than you expect. He's surprisingly good at comforting people, you realize.
"It—hic—seems like—hic—nobody—hic—gives a—hic—shit!" you've broken into those hiccuping sobs that kind of rack through your whole body and they won't stop, you can't stop crying, and you sob deeper into his shoulder because he seems like he gets it, and it's nice to know that someone cares.
"You know," he starts, "we all have different ways of giving shits."
You look up. "How—hic—do you—hic—do it?"
"Personally," he says, a little sheepishly, "at night, I sneak out — the harpies are pretty relaxed nowadays you know — and I take Riptide and I slash the training dummies until they're little shreds of fluff. It's very soothing and surprisingly therapeutic."
"I didn't know you—hic—knew what 'therapeutic' meant." listening to him makes the sobs fade away a little, and you only interrupt him with your hiccups occasionally.
"Well, it seems Annabeth is rubbing off on me." then he gets up, pats you on the back a little. Then he begins to walk toward his cabin, but not before saying, "Remember what I said, about different ways to give shits. I'd be happy to guide the dummy-slashing if you're considering."
You nod, hiccuping, and it seems that the commanding voice in your head has dissipated completely.
The next morning, at sword-fighting classes, Jason is a little appalled to find all of the dummies slashed to shreds.